The wheels are falling off

 

Wheels off

 

My running has turned to poop! Failed races, shortened runs, weeks off, injuries, are all words that can describe the last 2+ weeks of my marathon training. However, with all of this, and only 9 days to go until the Whistlestop Marathon, I feel pretty confident in my ability to complete it (before they close the track down). So here is a list of the challenges over the last 2 weeks:

 

-Chicago Half Marathon—this started off pretty well. Slurp was held up by Barack landing in MN, but got in without a problem, we ate some dinner, relaxed and got to bed early. Unfortunately it was a beautiful night, so the Wrigleyville drunks were out in force. I slept right through their shenanigans, but Slurp and Krissy were up a lot of the night.

The morning of the race we all work up in time and got ready. We all already had everything laid out, so we just popped on our running gear and out the door. After a quick Red Line ride to the loop, we transferred over to the Green Line which brings us about 4 or 5 blocks from the race. Unless… the Green Line doesn’t start until 35 min before the race. We contemplated a different route, but stayed with our plan and the Green Line…. We arrived about 10 min early and walked over. We missed the gun while we were at gear check, but that’s fine, because it took 6 minutes for the crowd to get over the starting line. Slurp, Krissy and I all started together; about 10 min after the gun. At that point, Slurp was off and Krissy and I began our nice slow run.

There were about 30x this many people at the starting line.

There were about 30x this many people at the starting line.

The first 8-10 miles were pretty uneventful. We stuck perfectly with our planned pace time and were ready to whup up on my Arch Nemesis, Marilyn, the 75 year old woman who crushed me at a half marathon last year. The sun was out and there was not a bit of shade. We ran most of the race up and down Lake Shore Drive, and while the view was spectacular, it was a lot of miles on concrete with a lot of miles with no shade. I think this combo really started hitting me around mile 10-11 and my pace started slowing as a newly found stomach cramp started growing on my right side. At mile 11.5, I told Krissy to move on without me and I needed a few minutes to try to walk off my cramp. It never happened. I very slowly ran the rest of the race, but the added minutes to the end caused me to miss my Arch Nemesis by 4 min.

On a good note, Krissy crushed my Arch Nemesis (damn you Marilyn) but in the process, Krissy became my new Arch Nemesis.

This is what I looked like when I was done

This is what I looked like when I was done

After the race I was exhausted. I ran training runs of 13miles over 1min/mile faster than this race. And I felt awesome after the runs. After this race, I was dead to the world and developed a nasty cough that I still have 16 days later. The race ticked me off and stole my confidence.

 -My 19 mile training run. The following week I had a 19 mile training run (which was supposed to be followed with a 21 mile training run the next weekend). I got up a little late for this run, but it was a pretty overcast day, so no biggie. My first 15 miles were without incident. My 13 mile time crushed my half marathon time (figures) and the only real incident was with some weak ass Pittsburgh Steelers fans. Let me explain:

I had a green shirt too.  This is what I did to the Steelers fans.

I had a green shirt too. This is what I did to the Steelers fans.

It was the Sunday when the Bears were hosting the Steelers. I was running the worst chunk of the Chicago Lake path (under lake shore drive on lower wacker, just north of Navy Pier). This is the only place on the lake path where space is limited. Since it’s a sidewalk next to a busy street, it’s about 3-4 people wide, with guard rails on each side. With this being a very busy running day (Chicago marathoners were doing a big 20 mile run at the same time) there were tons of runners and bikers on this stretch. Usually most people go single file here so walkers/runners/bikers can get through. Not these 9 Steelers fans. They were 3 wide and 3 deep (a nice matrix). These were wide guys as well. Well everyone was trying to go around and they were being total A-hole and not letting people pass. They were getting wider or just getting in people’s way. Unlike most Steelers fans I know, these guys were total jerks. So when it was my time to pass, I politely said “excuse me” so I could get through. Nothing. I said it again “excuse me guys”. One guy looks over and doesn’t move. I had been running 10.5 miles at this point, so I made a fun decision, I would slide by. By this, I mean I ran buy and rubbed up against these guys. I was soaked. They… were slimed. If they weren’t moving, forget them. I totally soaked these guys with my sweat-filled shirt. One guy tried to trip me, but missed. I would have reacted, but they were 9 and I was a very exhausted 1. So I let it go and ran by, knowing they would be enjoying a wet sweaty-Dave soaked shirt for a while.

Besides the Steelers fans, it was good. Around mile 15 I started getting sore. Weird soreness at this point in a training run is typical. I’m abusing my body, so rightfully so, it’s giving me some grief. However around mile 17, I started having a very dull sensation in my left knee. It seemed pretty standard and I only had 2 miles left, so I kept moving. Around 17.5, it became a very sharp stabbing pain. I was surprised, so I decided to walk for a minute. Only 1.5 miles left, no reason to be silly. NOPE. I made it about 5 more steps and knew I was done. The pain was extreme, so I pulled off the course, called Krissy and had her pick me up.

-The pain didn’t leave for a while. Then my body was exhausted for the next few days, so I decided to skip my 21 mile run the next week and start my taper a week early. I also took a full week to rest and recover. While there is still some benefit to running and training 3 weeks before a marathon, I wasn’t going to push it. If I am going to survive and complete the marathon, I would need the rest more than anything else. So I took last week off. Then this week I started running a few 4 mile runs. My knee is fine. The rest of my body, however is pissed. I lost a decent amount of endurance in that week, and my body was used to running. After 7 days off, my body was telling me that it was pretty happy not running. Shin and calf pains have been following, but they aren’t major right now.

This is the guy I need to stay away from.  He's coming for the last place guy.

This is the guy I need to stay away from. He's coming for the last place guy.

So now my goal has changed. It’s no longer working on a 5:30 hour completion. Now it’s slowing down and just completing the race in 6hrs, before the race officials stop recording times and close off the course. This changes things for me. I will most likely be the last person to finish the race. That means the volunteers who are at the water stops will be saying this “Ugh, did that Mexican dude with the tied-dye shirt go past yet. He’s last, so after he passes, we can go home.” It also means if trouble strikes, no one will be following me to help. I’m running through a forest here, Woodchuks, Badgers, rabid-Deer will be all around. If one of those creatures comes onto the trail and eats me. No one will know. Maybe with my running gear, I’ll have to bring a Bow and arrows. Yeah, that should work.

And that’s it. I’m busted and hobbled and going into a marathon with a crappy three weeks of running going into it… But, unless those badgers eat me alive, I have a pretty good feeling. Just completing the race in 6hrs is cutting almost 3hrs of my previous time. Hard core marathoners try to shave 2 minutes here and 7 minutes there. I’m shaving 180 minutes. Ahhh, eat that Kenyons. Next post should be after the race…. Unless the badgers get to me first.

After hearing about my last few weeks, The Venetian has changed their odds. For a while they completely took me off the board. Now it’s 4:1 against me finishing. Vegas confidence in me seems to have fallen off.

Mosh Pit Marathon

Marathons are not limited to running, everyone has a marathon of some sort or another.  Some people play poker for 24+ hours straight and that is their marathon.  Some kids try to stay up till 3am during a sleepover and that is their marathon.  When the Chicago tunnels flooded my dad worked 30 or 40 hours straight to help fix them, that was his marathon.  Well I found a new one, one I did not know I was training for, but was thrust in my face: a Mosh Pit Marathon.  And I can truthfully say, if it wasn’t for my Whistlestop Marathon training, I would have been one of the dozens who passed out and were pulled out of the pit. 

It was like this, but more crazy

It was like this, but more crazy

Here is the scenario: I was at the Aragon Ball Room for one of the last-ever NIN shows (Thanks Bones).  The place was packed, but as soon as Trent came out, everyone packed in even more.  It was as tight as those “how many people can we cram in a phone booth” games.  Of course we needed to get as close as possible, so Bones and I ended up in the chaos and only about8 feet from the stage.  The next 2 hours and 20 minutes were constant bouncing, pushing and defending myself from people flying into me from the sides or behind.  The show was fantastic, but it was hot as heck.  About half way through the show, people started passing out.  However, I stood (or bounced strong).  Not during football doubles, or wrestling practice or even the Honolulu Marathon have I sweat as much as I did that evening, but I survived to enjoy the show with an awesome view.  So remember, you may not always know what you are training for, but your training may definitely come in handy when you least expect it.

 Outside of my mosh pit marathon, regular marathon training has been going well.  I’m up to 15 miles on my long runs, with a 19 miler coming up in 9 days.  This is the scary part of my training since I had to amend my training schedule due to those shin splints.  Chicago Half Marathon (with Krissy and Slurp) this weekend, then 19m long run next weekend, then a 21m long run the following.  I don’t like the high mileage jumps, and am taking some miles off the middle of the week to make up for it, but it’s the hand I was dealt. 

 The Foot Clan who has been terrorizing/mugging people in Lincoln Park and the surrounding area have not been caught, but they have been pretty quiet the last few weeks.  I think they got wind that I was coming after them and they fled.  Mark one down for the good guys.

 So Slurp and I have been playing around with an idea, so I’m going to throw it out and see what I think.  In true Slurp and Q fashion, we have been late to every race we have ever run.  But because of that, we have been able to constantly pass people up since they are going slower and our speed (or lack of slowness in my case) makes up the difference for the late start.  It’s a big psychological edge because it feels good to feel like you are making progress.  And from my blister blowout from last year’s marathon, I know the other end of it, and it bites when everyone is passing you up.  So now comes the challenge.  How late do we cross the start line.  It was 20min for races past, but that only gives Krissy and I 2hrs and 40min before they start closing down the course.  We can make 3hrs, but 2:40 is going to have to be a great run with cool weather.  Do we go 10 min?  We aren’t passing up as many, but we should be able to nail 2:50?  I’m not sure, and it’s driving me mad.  I’m up for any suggestions that people have.

 T-minus 44 hours until the Chicago Half Marathon and T-minus 26 hours until Slurp lands.  I received my pre-race massage yesterday (thanks Krissy) and feel pretty good this morning.  I just started breaking in a new pair of shoes (won’t wear them for the race, but they made my feet feel nice on my training runs).  I have my tied-dye shirt from the Terrapin 5K all clean and ready to be my race-day shirt (I don’t think anyone will miss me, but then again, they probably won’t miss the biggest dude on the course either).  My Garmin battery is fully charged.  I have an ample supply of Vanilla Goo and a freshly shaved head (less heat, less resistance).  I think I’m ready to go.

 Irish Oak  Irish Bar/restaurant  12 out of 17

 I run past the Irish Oak pretty regularly, but haven’t stopped in for a while.  Luckily it was the annual Cubs/Mets game with the boys, so we made our yearly trip to the Oak.  I have tried other meals at the Irish Oak that have been pretty average (although people say the Fish and Chips is good, I just don’t dig on fish).  However, the corned beef sandwich is pretty damn tasty.  If you get a side of curry with your fries…. Look out.  For food I feel the Irish Oak is a 1-trick pony, but they do their trick pretty well.  On the bar side, they do a pretty decent job with a good beer selection and a surprisingly low Spam/meathead:regular person ratio considering they are in the heart of Wrigleyville.  For a meal I won’t often go to the Irish Oak, but when I do, I’m pleased with my corned beef sandwich, curry fries and Smithwicks.

I was looking up some Poker Room Rates at Wynn the other day and they let me know that their sportsbook is very pleased with my recent runs.  After my 2:34.40 13 mile training run a few weeks back, they put my odds of completing the Whistlestop Marathon in 6hrs (before they close the course) at 6:5.  Positive odds, heck yeah.

Ooh, here is something else I just found.  I think I can be tracked via bib # if you are anxious and can’t wait for my next post.

Dave Martinez  — bib number 6028

Starting off a new year of running

So fresh (5 months) off of my bittersweet victory in completing the Honolulu Marathon I got together with Slurp and told him I was planning another half and full marathon. Slurp said he was planning the same, so we decided on the two following races: The Chicago Half Marathon and the Whistlestop Marathon.

Vader can definatley motivate me to run faster

Vader can definatley motivate me to run faster

The Chicago Half Marathon has special meaning. We have run it once (2006) and intended to run 2004 and 2005 to no avail. In 2004 I think we just both got lazy. My registration was free through work, so no big loss on my part. In 2005 I trained pretty well, running 5x times a week, but unfortunatlely (about 24 hrs before the race) as I was helping my parents move and I severely twisted my ankle. Finally in 2006 we signed up and I ran the race with no training at all (but 25lbs lighter). I finished, with a ton of walking, in just over 3 yrs. Since we started almost a half hour late, I was racing the cops who were trying to kick me off the street so it could be reopened. While this is just a tune up race before the full marathon, 4 weeks later, I will be nice to run it in a controlled manner and not feel like I’m going to pass out at the end. Hopefully this time I can remember not to have tasty and delicious Cozy Noodle curry chicken the night before.

The other race is the Whistlestop Marathon in Wisconsin (almost Duluth MN, on Lake Superior). Slurp’s in-laws have a cabin in the area and this is the same race as the half marathon we ran last year. In true Slurp and Q. fashon, we showed up and started about a half hour late (2 for 2, I’ve never started a half marathon on time). This is also the race where I was handidly defeated by an 80 or 90 year old woman. I’ve never planned to win a race, but I guess I do always want to have faster times than the women in the XX yrs+ category. This marathon will be my chance to avenge my greatest defeat. If that same woman (I have it somewhere, but I rember her name was Maude or something from Duluth MN) is running the half marathon, hopefully I’ll be able to defeat her with my 1st half time. The other struggle here is that the marathon has a 6hr max. I think that’s a 13.44min/mile pace. Way faster than my 14min race pace I was hoping for in Honolulu. Hopefully I can pick up some speed my October.

So those are the planned races. I started running again in April when the weather cooperated and then full time in May. My plan is to use May to get my base miles in, then start really training hard come June. So far this month I have had some minor injury issues. First was a groin pull from playing softball, that had me out for about 5 days. Then earlier this week some nasty shin splints made thier way into my legs. I guess those are typical since I’m ramping up my miles pretty quickly from week to week. Luckily Krissy is a genius of a massage therapist and helped me to seperate some muscle from the bone (pretty painfull stuff) and also stretch my calves so that they wouldn’t hurt on upcoming runs.

My pace is a little better than last year. Last year is was 15/min miles and this year it looks like 14/min miles is where I’m at so far. I have to keep improving that for both races, but I have a ton of time so I think it should be OK. These races being only my 3rd half and 2nd marathon, I’m not looking for Kenyon times, just good comfortable Dave times.

The other thing slowing me down is my weight. I dropped about 5 lbs in the last month, but I think I’d like to drop at least another 30-40 by the time the marathon hits. Another 40 lbs would have me, average sized by American standards, fat by marathoner standards, fat by global standards but thin by sumo wrestler standards. And thats right where I want to be. I read that a loss of 1lb=2seconds/mile. If you take off 40, that’s 1min 20 sec/mile. That would bring me well below my 6 hr time limit for the race… and might even get me to my personal goal of beating Glynis or whatever her name is. She will be defeated.

So that is where everything stands today. Slowly building up to a comfortable 25-30 miles a week, but doing so while building my own running/training strategy. Should be fun and the mistakes should be even more fun.