3 Weeks to Go!

March 29, 2010

Sunday, March 29th

For those of you not familiar with Marathon training, most programs call for regularly increasing weekly mileage peaking about 3 weeks before the race and then what is known as race tapering. One variation of conventional wisdom suggests the peak training run of 20 miles.  We are now about  3-weeks before race day and today was the traditional MGH marathon team’s 20-miler. We were all invited to Howard’s (Dr. Weinstein) house which is about a block off of Commonwealth Ave in Newton near to mile 20. We all hop on a bus and motor out to Hopkinton and then run back to Howard’s house, right at the foot of Heartbreak Hump, how convenient! This is also when we pick up our t-shirts and racing singlet.

Speaking of racing singlet, here is my collection. Guess what they have in common? Guess correctly and I will send you a MMT wristband.  If you guess wrong, I will still send you a MMT wristband.

Back to the training run. I had an awful time with it and ended up walking a fair bit of the last four or five miles, everything hurt. Two years ago, I had actually trained out to a 30 mile run on this day; last year I did about 24 miles. One additional complication is that my stride sensor needs recalibration because I think it is not reporting distance very accurately. That 14 mile run the other day was probably just a 13 miler.  With just 3 weeks left I really don’t have much chance to train for additional endurance; I will try to put in a 10-miler tomorrow or Tuesday before fully recovering from today but after that, it is time to start consolidation and rest.

I need a strategy (that does not involve the Green Line) to ensure I can cross the finish line before the BAA closes down the course. At this point, I am not at all optimistic about time or pace. I plan to run a very conservative race, probably keeping my pace well into the 10 minute per mile zone for the first half, maybe even through heartbreak hill. Before my knee problems, I hoped to be breaking into the threes this time, as in 3:59:50, which calls for a 9:20ish pace. One common mistakes for Boston runners is an over fast start, the first 5 miles is a comfortable downhill that leads runner to assume that they are faster than they thought. Many coaches suggest running a reverse split where the last half of the race is faster than the first. I tend to run a flat race staying fairly consistent throughout the course. I am reminded of the Greater New Orleans Runners Association. Back about 1984, while still living in the Crescent City, I was attracted to join this running club by their motto “Start slow then ease off”. I wonder what happened to that racing singlet.



Back on the Road!

March 22, 2010

Thursday 3/18/10

GAME ON! I wasn’t really sure what to expect returning to see Dr. Bradley after my 3 weeks of physical therapy. The therapy has been very educational, I have a much better understanding of what went wrong and how to avoid doing it again, but that marathon is getting awfully close and I have not been running. Dr. Bradley walks into the rooms having done the math saying 4 weeks and 3 days until the race. We chatted a bit before he gave me an enthusiastic “well, you can try”.  We talked about training plans, then I left without plans to return if something else went wrong.  My plan is to test the knee first thing in the morning.

Friday 3/19/10

With good weather I cautiously set out for my most basic and probably favorite run, to tag the lighthouse. It’s a brief and pleasant course from my house, down to the cove and along Fort Ave. and Derby Street to Derby wharf, take a left at the Customs House, out the wharf to the light and back. All in about 3-1/4 miles. It felt great. The only remaining questions are; how durable is my knee? And how much endurance remains in my base? This time last year, I was training beyond 20 miles on my long runs.

Saturday 3/20/10

The plan calls for lots of rest, no run today, just some stretching.

Sunday 3/21/10


With only about a month left, I am a bit worried about endurance. My conundrum is that I need to get my mileage up very quickly knowing that increasing one’s mileage too quickly dramatically increases one’s chances of injury, or in my case, re-injury. I think the only thing to do is walk out the door and run as far as I can, then turn around and run home. I need to find out is how much of my base remains and then plan accordingly. The sun is shining and it’s warm enough, let’s go!  Not yet, the battery is dead on my stride sensor (the stride sensor talks to my HRM and watch to tell me how far and fast I am running). After three stops, I found a replacement battery at Radio Shack. The guy behind the counter tried to upsell me on wireless services.  Finally, about noon, I’m off.

Post run

About 14.1 miles later. It was really nice out, but chilly along the route, so I turned away from the coastal route and headed inland for a less picturesque but warmer path. My legs felt pretty durable and reasonably pain-free from the outset.  I ran the first handful of miles at a comfortable 9:30 pace but eventually found myself at about 10:30. The route took me out to Swampscott with a foot falls into Lynn before getting back into Salem and the long home stretch along Highland Ave / Essex Street. I could feel the fuel supply running short at about the 10 mile mark and by the time I got close to home, I was definitely running low. On the cardio side of things, my heart rate was pretty high for what used to be a nearly effortless pace. Clearly both cardio fitness and endurance have both degraded, but now I have my answer, I can manage 15 miles and should have no trouble stretching that to 20 by race day. Only 6.2m or 10k gap to close.  I am a bit sore but nothing unmanageable. Next weekend is the traditional 3 weeks before the race 20 miler on the race course. Should I do this? Stay tuned.


No Pain, No Gain

March 8, 2010

So you think running a marathon is painful; the truth is it’s only painful running those last 20 or so miles. Physical therapy – now that really hurts. My new bi-weekly appointments are underway and they have this particularly resourceful form of torture where I balance my body weight on a piece of foam. The single point of contact is my IT band and then I have to
roll up and down. Kristin says it sounds like it would “hurt so good”. I say bring on Heartbreak Hill any day. However, I think it has helped, but then it may just be the meds.

They won’t let me run yet and now that the sun is shining, I am getting quite antsy. Doc Bradley will make the call on the 18th.  I am getting worried about not putting up miles. I suppose the trick will be to restart the running and get the mileage up fast without re-injuring my knee or any other essential body part. I did order some fancy new headphones in anticipation.

On the news front; we have a new URL – MecheMarathonBlog.com and we have some snappy new wristbands coming.


Visit to the Knee Doctor

February 26, 2010

My Knee Doctor

Just returned from High Performance Sports Medicine—yeah they agreed to see me despite my modest performance status—Dr. Bradley has offered a diagnosis; Quad Tendonitis and Patello-Femoral Syndrome, AKA jumpers knee.  I asked him point blank about my chances for being able to run 26.2 miles in April and he didn’t say no; he said that I would know soon enough. He did step up the treatment plan a bit. I am now taking some anti-inflammatory meds and will begin physical therapy ASAP.

Doctor Explaining What is Wrong with My Knee

I am going to check Amazon to see if there is an “Orthopedics for Dummies” volume. One of the treatments prescribed is VMO ( Vastus Medialis Obliquus) / Patella mechanics; I think that’s the technical term for stretching my legs properly. Other treatments include Myofascial massage, Electrical Stimulation, Ultrasound and Ionto/Phonophoresis, not to mention Strengthening and Stretching. I feel better already!

Running on the Challenging Road to Recovery

February 23, 2010

This past fall my knees decided it was time for a break. After two intense races in a row I could hardly walk. I think it was the extreme downhill from Reach the Beach – so I went to my Doc. After some x-rays my Doc said my knees are in better shape than when he worked on them several years ago. “You are fine, quit whining”.  I promptly dressed for a run, gingerly jogged about a mile down the road and had to turn and hobble home. Over the winter I have been keeping my knee rested.

This was going to be the year I break through the 4-hour mark, it’s not looking like it’s going to happen at Boston. I closed out the fall with a PB in the half marathon distance; my time (1:55) was good enough to make me ambitious. Oh well.

In the past two years I have run this race for my family, the marathon team and Mass General. I have trained hard to give back to them and say thank you what they have done for me.  This year is a little different. I want to complete this year’s marathon for the same reasons, but also for me. I won’t be running a PB or  under 4 hours, I just hope to finish with some dignity….and of course, raise a little money for a great organization.

Since the new year, I have been trying to balance healing with training. I am going for two or three runs a week. One longish and the others gentle brief excursions to stay tuned, plus a little bit of weight lifting to build strength. My engine seems to be running fine, in fact I am probably running faster than I should and am certain I can go much farther than my knee wants to. Although this routine doesn’t seem to be working. I don’t feel like I am getting better, in fact it sometimes seems worse.

My goal at this point to somehow get my mileage up near the 20 mile mark pre-race (in the past two Boston races, I trained past race distance just to be certain). I think it’s time to get back to the doctor. If I can manage to keep the knee working I am confident, I can drag myself along the 26+ miles, albeit slowly.

On the bright side, spring is definitely springing. There is nothing wrong with 32 degree sunny morning for a nice run!