Monday, April 4, 2011

A Successful Accomplishment!

Race Day

Well, we did it. Two and a half months of training paid off.  We both ran 6.2 miles when at first we couldn't run 6.2 feet!  Kudos to the YMCA training team for getting us off our lazy butts and getting us out there to give it our best shot.  Mission accomplished!  Let's go to the highlights:

It was cooler than expected last Saturday morning.  We were nervous for different reasons.  I was anticipating VCU's Final Four game against Butler later that evening while wifey was just plain nervous about making it around the course.  Once I did a weather check, I decided to wear my VCU Lycra short sleeved shirt with a warm-up jacket on over it to guard against the morning chill. If I got too hot, I could always take that off.  Staci wore her matching long pants and warm-up jacket sans any VCU attire since a hat would only make her hotter.  We awoke at 6:15 am in anticipation that we would need to get there by 8 but decided to wait until to leave the house until 8.  Bad idea.  Parking for the Monument Avenue 10K is a nightmare when considering you are fighting with 80,000 other people with the same idea.  We ended up parking 4 blocks from the Jefferson Hotel parking lot where we did our weekly warm-ups.  Add another 4 blocks and we finally made it to Monroe Park where all the festivities had conjoined.

It is a real party atmosphere so early in the morn, let me tell you.  Bands were playing, food was being served.  Runners had already finished!   And here we were still over an hour away before we had to get to the starting line.  Now we waited for a friend of ours to join us for almost 45 minutes, sneaking in a quick prayer in the Sacred Heart Cathedral and avoiding the wind.  Once she found us in the morass and five potty breaks between us, we headed for the "corral" which gathered all the runners in their particular group along Broad Street.  This thing is well organized.  There were big signs being held up for each group with ropes breaking the groups apart.  One group moved up to the starting line with the next group 50 feet behind moving up once allowed.  We each had little electronic tags wrapped around our shoe laces so that we would be timed as we crossed the starting line, then at 3 miles, then again at the finish--very cool technology!  Our friend ran in my group since she had signed up for the wrong one--theoretically you're supposed to go in the group as fast or as slow as you.  I guess walkers don't count because they were mingled in every single group!

I heard the starting line thing beep when I crossed over it at 9:47 am, said goodbye to my friend as the runners began to thin out to begin the race, and off I went.   We ran west along Broad Street for just a couple of blocks before turning left onto Lombardy next to Stuart Circle then headed west again along Monument Avenue toward Chantilly Avenue 3 miles away.  What a sight!  Lines of people on either side of the roadway with their Bloody Mary's and Mimosa's nestled in between local bands jamming away at every block it seemed.  No one was sleeping in this morning if you lived in the neighborhood!  As usual I found my 4.7 mph pace pretty quickly and settled into the run.  Almost immediately I became aware that I'd be doing a lot of walker dodging.  They were supposed to walk to one side to allow the actual runners a clear path, but that memo must have been lost in the shuffle.  There were walkers from the very beginning of the race, walking ten abreast across the road making me have to jump up on the curb or grass to get around them.  So much for a casual jog.  I had to be fully alert and anticipate my path around these strollers almost constantly.  I thought this was just gonna be a temporary situation but it was fairly constant throughout the "race".

Well, I did enjoy the scenery and the spectacle of seeing 40,000 runners running/jogging/walking up and back Monument Avenue.  The crowds were great; very supportive and entertaining to say the least.  This is basically Richmond's unofficial start of Spring, a right of passage for the young, a tradition for everybody else that lives here.  Seems the whole city turns out for it as the parking situation can attest to that!  My so called "strategy" was to start out slowly and run consistently throughout the race, only stopping for the briefest of moments to slug down water as it came available.  Thank GOD that came at mile 2.  Although the weatherman threatened intermediate showers throughout the morning the sun shown down brightly and the wind cooled down my beast-sweat which started running freely after the first mile (that went by REALLY fast I thought).  The water kept my mouth from puckering from over parchment and my lips from peeling completely off from wind-borne chapness.  This altered my strategy somewhat to ensure I was well hydrated throughout, although I had downed a big thing of Xtend before I left the car--no wonder I had to pee so much!

I never thought about my calf or Achilles acting up even when my legs started to get sore.  I just kept up my steady pace passing way more than getting passed.  The turn around came way down past 195 and Carytown on Chantilly Avenue which is a quite tree lined neighborhood that I suppose is deemed the beginning of the West End of Richmond.  More water at the funny 3.1 mile sign gave me a boost with the knowledge I was half-way home and thinking that all this preparation was only for an hour of my time on this Saturday morning.  So I soaked in the sights as best as I could trying valiantly not to let my achy legs or tiredness distract from the moment.  I skipped the water stop at mile 4 thinking I didn't want to be water logged or have to stop and pee before I was finished.  I should have stopped!  By mile marker 5 I was dreaming of water.  The wind made for a two-fold problem:  if it was blowing, it cooled me down from my monster sweating, but it also chapped my lips to the point that I was using all my spit just to keep them semi-moist.  If the wind died down my temperature rose like the gauge on an overheating radiator.  I liked the jacket on my arms to keep me warmer when the wind blew, but when it stopped I was ready to strip down to my soaked undies!  Hence the water break at mile 5 was a godsend.

Anyway, my next thought was simply to finish.  I wasn't going to break any speed records and all I really wanted to do was break an hour but that didn't quite happen.   I was back on familiar training territory for that final mile.  We had run this route many times before on many prior Saturdays.  Now I was counting the hills I had yet to traverse before I could see the Academic campus and the finish line.  It was there soon enough though I had no reserve kick to really try and beat an hour.  I finished in 67 minutes which was the time for the grouping ahead of the one I originally picked.  Perhaps that one won't have so many walkers?  I'm thinking I ran close to 7 miles due to all the weaving I had to do, well, at least that's my story to explain my under an hour failure!

I was never so relieved to cross that finish line after the race, only to be herded like a cow to slaughter toward the water table and a nice cold bottle.  Heaven.  I remembered to keep moving so not to cramp so I made my way over to the food stand to down a banana, Poweraid and a dry bagel (for carbs?).  Then I found a dry spot on a slight hill next to the A-E meeting sign to sit and eat and ponder.  Our friend that started in my group with me finished 15 minutes after I had begun my rest where I had started to stretch out some stiffness.  We made another round through the food stand and timed when we thought the wife would be finishing.  She showed up about 15 minutes afterward and just like that, we had completed our first 10K.  More food and wandering followed but almost immediately, the sun disappeared and the clouds gathered just on cue for us to begin the long walk back to the car.  Perfect timing for the crowd was getting annoying or rather, I was over it.  Time to celebrate with a beer and Sushi!  We dropped our friend off at her car which was parked deep in the Fan near Sticky Rice then made for the bar and a well deserved respite.  Our other friend who started us on this journey in the beginning met us there (she had ran earlier and had went home to shower) and we all extolled our efforts of crossing off a bucket list item.  Home, bath and a nap were never more welcomed when we finally got back around 2 that afternoon.  My legs were most definitely sore and my back felt like I'd been beaten.  My feet were fine though, thanks to wrapping the blistered areas in moleskin and athletic tape.  

So now what you may say?  Well, we've got the bug to continue this type of exercise for the foreseeable future.  Staci already has us scheduled to run in a 5 K and another 10K in May.  Add to it the Warrior Run in October and it looks like we're on our way to being "runners".  I guess this is working.  A friend of mine asked me the other day where the other half of me went!  Wifey has me on a diet and a schedule to go to the gym and/or run in the evenings after work.  I just need to recoup a bit more, eh?  Does that mean I'll continue to write on this?  Perhaps.  I accomplished what I set out to do and I didn't die in the process.  I managed to discover new aches and pains I thought I couldn't or wouldn't get from simply running, but the old bod just ain't what it used to be.  It's getting better.  Maybe not to the point of being a teenager but much better than it was back in December--a 250 lbs oaf!  We'll keep this up for sure, for it's made for way better sleep, a healthier bank balance and just a better mood all around.  I suggest you try this or something similar.  You won't die.  I promise!


Thursday, March 31, 2011

And DOWN the stretch he comes!

Week 10

Ok, I know it's been a few weeks since last writing, but I was in Vegas last week on a guys trip to bet on the first week of March Madness and now VCU has shocked the world by winning FIVE games to make it to the Final Four!  Who woulda thunk it??  Needless to say, my training regimen has taken a back seat to such events, but I gotta say my stomach has gone down and the scale did say I lost ten pounds. Guess it was the HUNDREDS of miles of walking one has to do to get anywhere on The Strip.  No matter what shoes I wore, my legs were sore and my feet blistered as if I was walking on hot coals.  Even my snazzy running shoes didn't help!  I had brought my running clothes with every intention of running the six miles I was missing with the training group, but alas, that didn't happen.  I blame Jack Daniels, but don't tell him I said that!

Yesterday I did hit the treadmill for a 2.5 miles before I got a re-blister.  That worries me a tad but I think the socks I had on were susceptible to rubbing that already raw area, thanks to my Vegas strolls.  Wifey says I'm to get some "mole skin" and wrap it when getting dressed at the crack o' dawn on Saturday morning.  The trainers are inundating my email with reminders about getting our packets either today or tomorrow, having our clothes ready, where to park, etc.  I think I'll be ok.  Yesterday's run was easy and I don't think I suffered much from the layoff.  My breathing was still easy and my pace actually was quickening to around a 10 minute mile.  I still sweat like a pig in heat but that's to be expected.  I would have ran farther if that blister didn't give me a cause for concern.  No matter, I think I'm ready.

We're to rest the rest of the week and get plenty of rest before Saturday.  Pasta is on the menu for Friday night to load up on carbs.  Fine by me!  Then the race which you know I will give you a full recount!  So then, what have I learned going into the finale just two short days away?  Well, I've learned that my body is not what it once was, but whose is?  I've learned that exercise does pay off if you stick with it; even when you're tired, not in the mood, the weather stinks, the gym is full, or whatever other excuse fits--you just have to make the time and dividends will begin to show.  I've learned that the party cannot last forever.  No matter what your mind tells you, your body WILL let you know that you aren't 25 anymore!  I suppose the great nine year revelry of getting back with Staci and celebrating every free weekend (then weeknight!) was indeed taking its toll.  Young at heart and mind doesn't equate to young in body if you don't take care of it.  These past few months have cemented that thought.

My best advice for anyone thinking about scratching off a bucket list item is to DO IT!  Every day above ground is a good day and each new morning is one day closer to the end of the line.  There really is no time like the present to get out there and try.  We ain't getting any younger.  The human body is an amazing machine and it reacts to what you do to it as well as for it.  I figure this has only helped me keep me above ground for a bit longer at least, not that it was coming anytime soon!  Staci is so stoked that she wants to continue entering other races and keeping up our training now that the days are longer and eventually warmer.  She even ordered Nutrisystem to slice away even more lbs's before we head to the beach this summer.  "We are NOT gonna be the fat people at the beach this year"' she exclaimed as she drove out of sight.

Fine by me baby, fine by me.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Viva Las Vegas, Baby!

Week 8

I was solo this past week while wifey-poo was busy in Atlanta being a SunTrust employee extraordinaire.  My intentions to continue the proscribed training regimen were all good but they didn't come to pass.  It seem to pay off with the extra rest as my 5 mile run this past Saturday was better than the previous one by seven minutes.  Looks like at 45, I need more time to recoup from these long runs since before I was ending up hurting myself without allowing enough time between workouts.  Weight lifting might be one thing, since you work out different sets of muscles, but running is running no matter how you slice it.  My legs and especially calf just weren't recuperating fast enough following the regular running schedule.  Some might think this lazy, I think of it as strategically ensuring I won't be or get hobbled come time for the real race.

Even though I was alone, I woke up Saturday at the normal 6:30 am alarm, had my coffee and made a batch of Xtend to get cold so I could down it upon returning home.  The weather was a bit nippy but nothing I wouldn't soon forget since I sweat like a pig anyway.   I learned from last week not to wear two pairs of long sleeved shirts (shirt and warm up jacket) since I got WAY hot.  This time I just had my VCU football shirt and warm-up over it and a pair of shorts.  All were properly soaked through by the time I finished.  Our original inspiration for even doing this run, Meagan, decided to run with me even though she's in the advanced runner group that was supposed to do seven mile.  She started to run with her group but didn't feel well so she decided to come along for our run once she felt better.  I blame the pizza we had for dinner the night before!

Our route had us going out the familiar way on Monument Avenue but then we crossed through the upper Fan over to Floyd Avenue to head back to the Jefferson. My only concern other than the bumpy sidewalk was I started getting a blister on the arch of my left foot about 4 miles in.  I fought through this annoyance but I did need to make a couple of repairs to my foot upon further review.  Good news was I finished in about 53 minutes which I attributed to not stopping at all this time, except for one water break the trainers had but out at the 2 mile mark.  I also have to love that my stamina remained intact despite not running during the week and, in fact, improved.  I didn't have any outrageous soreness in my calf, just the normal aching from pounding my legs into concrete for the better part of an hour.

So now comes the true test:  I've got a guys trip to Las Vegas this Wednesday through Monday.  I'm gonna miss the 6 mile run here but need to duplicate it somewhere out there.  Nothing like a little morning jog into the desert to see how much booze I can sweat off, eh?  Meanwhile, I think with Daylight Savings Time finally here, I've got more time to do a run after work thereby keeping my stamina going before I fly off early Wednesday morning.  At least VCU made the tournament, so I can proudly display my colors out west.  If they lose, I can always use it as a sweat rag!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

It's MADNESS I tell you!

Week 6-7

Yes, it's been awhile since I last wrote, but only because there was nothing to write about!  Last time we were with our superhero, Art had injured himself yet again on the indoor track, duplicating his pulled calf muscle fiasco.  That was a week ago last Thursday, so he decided on a self-imposed hiatus of no physical activity until the pain completely vanished.  There was no Saturday morning run, no after work gym dates, no cross training of any kind until all hints of muscled twinges ceased and desisted. 

No lie, I was limping around through the whole weekend, doing the RICE treatments, drinking Xtend and basically allowing a full recovery before trying to run again.  So it was an interesting moment to actually get my million dollar running shoes back on again and attempt the dreaded 5 mile run last Saturday morning.   The weather was still cool but sunny and there was a good sized crowd of trainees still in attendence in the Jefferson hotel parking lot at the 8 o'clock hour.   After our standard warm-up, we followed in line like sheep to the slaughter and headed out back toward Monument Avenue, only this time no turning around until we had run all the way to Thompson Street which is at the head of Carytown! 

Surprisingly, the first couple of miles were the normal breeze.  I settled into my comfort zone leaving wifey and the rest of the slower ones behind as I found my space apart from the others.  I was very aware of my calf and meticulously monitored any hints of twinging or pain as I stepped gingerly on and off curbs when crossing the streets at each block.  I wasn't trying for any land speed records, that's for sure, but I did want to test my stamina since it'd been over a week since I last ran.  Funny how you pass landmarks that used to be the turning pints from lesser milage runs from weeks past and remembering how tired I was when I first started on this quest.  Now I was zipping by them thinking how completely out of shape I was then, and though I'm no triathelte, I'm better now than then, that's for sure. 

Well that thought all changed when I crossed the Boulevard which used to be the three mile turn around point.  I got real winded after crossing that street and running into virgin territory I had not yet experienced.  We had missed the 4 mile run from the previous week and I had no idea where that turnaround point was but I kept slogging away hoping Thompson Street showed up quickly.  I didn't.  I was nearing the end of my rope, in deep need of a breather when, out of nowhere, I saw the lead group crossing the street and heading back for home base.  Thank GOD!  I was just about to hit the breaks and walk for a few, but seeing that re-energized my motivation, plus I didn't want to look like a wimp walking past the trainers helping us with traffic. 

It was a good thing I wore running shorts instead of warm-up pants.  I had the new matching warm-up jacket on top of a long sleeve lycra workout shirt thingy.  No hat, no gloves, just my iPod in my hand since it jiggled around too much in no matter what pocket I tried to put it in.  I was definitely burning some ass-fat calories as my soaking shirt atttested, sweat seeping through to discolor my warm-up jacket as well.  I tried to look for wifey from across the road but no dice.  Monument Avenue is a tree-lined road with a large median between the two-lanes heading in each direction.  Large monuments were erected at intersections from long ago espousing heros from the Lost Cause.  I have a picture book of Richmond from 1865-1970 that shows the Lee Monument in a great large empty expanse as the Richmond Howiter's fired a volley for some sort of celebration from 1907.  What is now full of brick mini-mansions and huge trees was then a great big field with no real visable sight of a Richmond skyline.  Kinda weird, but this was what I was thinking about as I tried to focus on anything but the searing fire that was once my legs.

I was definately losing steam on the return trip back to the parking lot.  I finally succumbed to the overwelming desire to walk for a bit, letting some ladies pass me by and figuring they didn't have as much weight to haul as me.  A guy bigger than me passed me too telling me I'll catch up to him soon enough when he had to take his 'break' and sure enough it wasn't soon after that I did when I resumed my agony.  This actually happened a few times on the way back.  I'd stop, he'd pass me.  He'd stop, I'd pass him.  Never did re-pass any ladies but one though....must be an estrogen complex.  Eventually I decided that I needed to suck it up and once I got back to the VCU campus I finished out the run without walking again.  I was stoked to find out there wasn't THAT many people ahead of me after 5 miles of self-induced torture.  What was better though was my calf had not given me any discernable problems.  I walked and sipped water so not to give my body any chance to begin a full body cramp if allowed to sit and rest, waiting for wifey.

I waited for a good 10 minutes or so before finally seeing her silhouette emerge from Monroe Park in the distance.  She was struggling, but maintaining form as she made the last few hundred yards up the slight incline.  It as by far her longest run ever in her life and it showed.  Still, she was ever-so proud of the accomplishment regardless of her newly acquired hip, hamstring and achilles pain.  After a few cups of water and finding what time it was, we managed to figure out I'd made the run in around an hour and hers around an hour and fifteen perhaps.  Good stuff considering if I had a gun put to my head, I'd could have probably squeezed out another mile and thusly successfully finishing a 10K.  However, my goal of finishing in less than an hour had me wondering if that was realistic considering how I felt.  Then again, it had been nine days since I last did any running/exercise so I'm figuring a recommittment to the training regimine for the rest of this month might actually get me to attaining that goal?  So long as I don't walk any part of the course, I might have half a chance.

Well, that being said, wifey is in Atlanta for a week for work so who knows how she'll get in any workouts with daily traffic jams from her parents house where she's staying consumming hours of commute time both to and from.  I'm going solo this week and am thinking road work if the weather holds might be a better suit for me.  Else the gym again and the dreaded treadmill--no more tracks!  Daylight savings time is this weekend so I know the sun won't go down until later in the evening which will make after work runs more viable.  We shall see.  It's a tough call when I can actually have the remote all week long, too!

Friday, February 25, 2011

One step forward, two steps back!

We've been trying to stick with the training regimen as proscribed, but sometimes life gets in the way and we end up making up for lost time, and that might be a problem.  Wifey was off Monday and ended up grouting the pantry floor.  This made her knees hurt like hell so it was understandable she wanted to recoup before running 3 miles on them.  I wasn't going to complain since I was still feeling the 4-miler from last Saturday.  One more day of rest could only be a good thing, right?

So we switched days and ran on Tuesday instead.  Back to the old treadmill for 3 miles but this time new pains emerged.  Knees and back, which have never given me any trouble in my entire life, began to throb and moan silently, but I toughed it out and got the 3 miles in thankfully.  Staci was still at her pace and finished a few minutes after me.  Even she was complaining of knee and back aches which I told her was from her pantry project.  We decided we'd do our cross training on Wednesday and then our 4 mile run on Thursday, thus being caught up and primed for our Saturday group run. 

Well, Wednesday came and went and it was I that was in no mood to go cross train since my knees and back were still acting up.  Even the Xtend was not helping much.  This was getting ridiculous. Our age was not going to allow us to train properly because our bodies were in a constant state of repair?  Ok, no worries, we'll get a day of rest before going for it on Thursday for a complete 4 mile run.  Now it said it was to be an easy four miles.  Don't know who thought running four miles is supposed to be EASY! Both of us were resigned to the fact that we'd attempt this without reservation and get back on track.

No one needs to tell anybody that after a long hard day at work, relaxing is the first thing to come to mind when one gets home.  It was a rainy Thursday evening, too damp and dark to try and run outside, which was the original plan.  So we donned our workout attire in true gym-rat fashion and headed to the gym to hit the track since the treadmill and I are not on speaking terms.  Our route takes us upstairs in this monstrosity of a gym to a bank of innumerable day lockers spread out throughout the place.  We placed our jackets and the like in a couple, locked them up with the handy-dandy code lock system that reminds me of being in Vegas with the room safes, and headed over to the indoor track to stretch.  After ensuring my calves were still in no pain, I lurched myself into the middle lane to get the 35 or so laps over with as fast as possible.  Wifey started at a walk to limber up but I thought I'd try to will the stiffness out of my hips and back by jogging at an easy pace.

I must say our training has gotten our stamina up; I wasn't even breathing hard until the fourth lap.  I didn't even start sweating until the eighth.  And then it happened....again!  I was rounding the turn going outside of a slower runner then heading down the back-stretch when that all too familiar 'boing' feeling struck my left calf again in the exact same place that I thought I'd healed just a few weeks before.  I wasn't going fast or anything, just at the same comfortable pace I've been doing for weeks now.  Immediately I pulled up and rubbed the spot hard in hopes it was just a cramp.  No such luck.  I tried to work it out by running a few more feet; it only tightened up more.  Wifey came up behind me and I told her my grim news.  Same spot, same pain.  I told her to keep going while I tried to walk through it in hopes of getting back to a jog.  But with each step I took, the muscle just tightened up more and more, to the point that I was limping more pronounced with each step.  ARGH!!!!!

Well, that was that.  I gimped off the track in disgust and headed to a bike machine to see if that would work since I was sweating freely now and I wanted to at least make this gym trip worthwhile and try and burn a few more gut calories.  I did a 30 minute, 7.5 mile stint on a stationary bike while Staci followed me over to a treadmill soon after to finish her run since the track was killing her knees.  At least she got her miles in.  I, on the other hand, was not so fortunate.  The bike kept my sweat going but my breathing wasn't labored in the least and I felt cheated that I hadn't worked out as I thought this trip was going to produce.  All my thoughts soon turned to what I needed to do to repair this pain--rest, ice, compression and elevation.  Back to the couch I go, ice bag on my calf raised above the heart, wifey serving me turkey burrito while my mood sunk.

Long and the short of it looks like I'll be missing the run tomorrow morning and perhaps Monday as well.  I HAVE to get this thing healed.  My worst fear is to have this happen in the middle of the 10K and have to limp for miles to the finish, or even worse, quit.  If that happens, I'm doomed!  If I can't even run, what's left to try and get rid of this gut?  Diets bore me after awhile.  Yoga/Pilates are too feminine.  Sports are what I've done and enjoyed so I guess that leaves only swimming.  With my luck I'll break a heal doing a flip-turn or a wrist touching the wall!  I'm running out of options here people.  Suggestions, ANY suggestion is welcome at this point.

Man I need a drink!

Monday, February 21, 2011

And miles to go before I sleep!

Week 5

This past Saturday broke warm and sunny albeit a bit windy, but easily the best morning so far for these group runs.  This time is was a 4-miler up Monument Avenue to the Boulevard and back. I was feeling the best I had felt physically for this since this endeavor began.  No calf pain, no swimming soreness, nada.  It was funny to see the patrons of the Jefferson looking out their $500/night bedroom windows to see 100 or so people screaming in unison to the cadence of our warm-ups.  I actually started dead last from the pack when we set out since I needed to help a fellow iPod user figure out how to turn on her Rhapsody music library.  I failed.

As always, I had to navigate my way through the morass of people to find a spot where I could settle into my pace.  This took until I was almost to Stuart Circle, then the wind and fun really began!  There is an ever so slight uphill grade going out toward the Boulevard.  Add a nice headwind to the mix and it took no time for intense labor-like pains to develop.  I fought the urge to stop maybe a dozen times, but maintained my plodding concentrating intensely on my iPod music and watching the ground to prevent any missteps.  I only had to stop twice for traffic, much to my chagrin.  My legs had memorized their own momentum and when stopping I had this weird sense that I was still moving.  That was ever so odd!  At least I had the "downhill" portion of the run to look forward to....

So yes, I did the whole 4 miles without stopping to walk.  I did get passed by a few women who seem to pace themselves better than I but I was still near the front of the group by the time I finished.  What was really surprising was that it was just 9 o'clock which meant I did the whole run in like 45 minutes!  That's around 11 minutes per mile which is a milestone in this ongoing saga.  About 5 minutes later our 20-something goomah showed up and then wifey five minutes after her.  Meanwhile I was sipping on water since I hadn't the spit in my mouth to actually gulp it.  I gargled a few mouthfuls to get some moisture back in my mouth while waiting and walked around in circles, not wanting to sit for fear of being stuck in that position forever.  Great news was that my calf had no pain at all rather, my hips were feeling especially used and abused.  Still, I'll take arthritic hips any day over snapped sinews.

Looks like the training regimen is doing it's job.  Our stamina is definitely improving, our weight is beginning to drop and our sleeps are totally restful.  I think this week has us training for 3.5 miles today and Wednesday with another four mile run next Saturday.  This shouldn't pose any real danger I would think.  If I did it once, I can do it again, right?  That is if the ol' bod allows it.  I'm hoping we can actual run outside so long as the weather and daylight cooperate.  Treadmills are already my nemesis and I'd much rather run somewhere with a view.  I'll update ya later this week with how that goes by swim cross-training day.  Egads, I'm starting to sound like a runner!  Oh the horrors!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Keep on the Sunny Side of Life

It'd been four days since my last attempt at any physical activity in order to allow for some healing to my left calf/Achilles that is not allowed to snap.  We're out of Xtend until the next shipment arrives so I did the RICE advise and laid low until Wednesday.  I did have pseudo-excuses:  Monday was Valentines Day so I took wifey to TJ's at the Jefferson for a nice dinner.  Tuesday I had my uncles half-court tickets for the VCU-George Mason basketball game; what a waste of time THAT turned out to be!  So Wednesday I was driving home from work admiring the sunset as I crossed the Lee Bridge overlooking the James Rivah and thought I should enjoy the warming weather and try a jog before dark to see whether or not my four days of R&R was helping out anything.  Wifey had bought me a new warm-up jacket to repel dog hair attraction and some matching shorts for V-Day so I thought I'd give it a whirl and take a tour around the neighborhood that is usually reserved for our dog-walking exploits.

Yes, I did stretch a LOT beforehand and once across Semmes Avenue and the evening rush-hour traffic I proceeded to test the calf with a nice easy jog.  This route had me running down 30th Street towards the river then turning down Riverside Drive and heading into Forest Hill Park where bike trails are aplenty.  Reedy Creek runs through Woodland Heights, down into a rocky gorge that would have been my playground haven had I been living in Richmond when I was ten, into Forest Hill Park Lake (or pond) which is dammed with an overflow, then heads toward the James.  There's a nice wide path next to this part of the creek surrounded by woods which has you wondering if you are really in the middle of a city since you can't hear anything but running water and chirping birds.  The Lake has a path around its circumference with trails and paths pealing off at all sorts of intervals.  This 105-acre site was once a training ground for the Virginia 7th Regiment during the Civil War and later the end of the line for the Richmond Trolley.  Of course this was total country back in those days when Holden Rhhodes owned the property way back when.  Reminds me of Europe for some reason with its stone pathways and Victorian era ambiance.

Enough of the history lesson though.  This route is hilly.  What better to test my lack of endurance and pain threshold then by going up and down these hills, eh?  It's weird but once your body gets used to running your breathing and sweating seem to hit autopilot and it's barley noticeable other than the rhythmic pounding of my footsteps.  I was actually surprised my stamina hadn't suffered to much from the layoff.  I was able to get over the river and through the woods, so to speak, until I had to hump it up a majorly steep hill that took me to the top of the park next to a large picnic area.  Even having to walk up this steep grade had me huffing and puffing like the big bad wolf.  Once back to level ground I resumed my jog following the black path that winded me through the upper echelons of the park, back down toward Semmes and homeward bound.  I tried to measure the mileage with Google maps but it only measures roads, so we had to guesstimate, figuring around two miles based on how long it took me from leaving to getting back home.   Best part was I was only winded from the run but the rest of me felt ok.  No pain in my calf or legs although my lower back was a bit sore from the downhill pounding it wasn't used to.  I was sweaty but not water-logged.  I guess the falling temperatures as I beat dusk home had something to do with that.

Now Staci had made up her missed run last Monday by running 3 miles at the gym on Tuesday when I was at the basketball game.  So we were out of sync with our proscribed training regimen.  We got back on track last night when I did my cross-training swimming of 25 laps while she doggedly pursued 3.5 miles on the treadmill.  I think I got the better of the deal.  The pool was a tad more crowded (I had to share a lap lane) but the reward when finishing my swim was again playing in the whirlpool and sitting in a 110 degree hot tub allowing my muscles to atrophy to the point of soup.  I also pointed my calves right on the jets thus getting a massage effect to loosen them up even more.

Now this is not to say I have returned to my pre-twenties swimming form.  FAR from it.  I do not do 25 laps in a row without stopping.  Usually I do 100 meters (4 laps) at a time, rest for 30 seconds, then do another 100.  I try to a lap of each stroke though butterfly is a bitch trying to get my fat ass out of the water so my arms will swing properly.  Of course there is always some 'professional' swimmers effortlessly plowing through 200 individual medleys at quarter speed, which, once upon a time, I could do, too.  But 25+ years later, not so much!  At least my arms didn't stiffen up so fast this time.  I was able to get through the swim pretty easily.  Mostly I was just trying to keep my stamina building.  I'm not trying to train for the next Olympics or anything.

After my uber-relaxing hot tub soak I dressed and found the wife plugging along a few laps from her 3.5 mile jaunt.  Surprisingly I was more tired than I would have thought.  I was still sweating a bit as I waited.  She eventually finished, a sweaty mess that is usually reserved only for me.   Dinner was later than normal since we didn't get home until after 8.  No worries, we weren't really that hungry.  Bed was calling to us both ever so sweetly and I was dreaming within moments of my head hitting the pillow.

Up next is the daunting task of doing FOUR miles this Saturday morning.  We're taking a stroll up and down Monument Avenue all the way to the Boulevard and back.  This should be interesting.  The weather is supposed to be great (hopefully no wind this time!).  I'm gonna make a point to run in the grass to cushion the impact as much as possible.  I just hope the dog-walkers picked up!  No need ruining my shoes with that after I just finished having them dry out from the monsoon we had to run through the other week.  I'd like them to look semi-fresh when we do the 10K for real in six weeks!