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.

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The Foot Clan has invaded Lakeview

The Foot Clan

The Foot Clan

Remember the Foot Clan from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?  Well they have invaded Lakeview/Wrigleyville and have been mugging dudes in their 20’s and 30’s the last week.  Here is a quick reminder for those of you who, unlike myself, may not regularly sing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle song.

Headed by Shredder they were anything but good.

Misguided, unloved, they called them The Foot.

They could terrorize and be angry youths….

 
While this has been going on for a few weeks, I didn’t find out about this until a few days ago.  But here is some reassuring info from my Sunday 9mile run.  Krissy and I were at my P’s and didn’t get home unit 9ish.  We quickly got changed and headed to the lake path for a run.  We ran the first 4 miles together, then Krissy broke off (short recovery run for her) and I continued the last 5 miles by myself.  Now in the direction I go, 3 of those miles are in the darkest most remote part of the lake path.  Since the Chicago Rock and Roll Half Marathon was earlier in the day, there were significantly less runners around, so I was totally by myself for most of the run.  At the dark scary part, I saw a cop, parked on the trail and was staring at me.  I didn’t think much of it, kinda weird but that’s all, and ran past him.  About a half mile later I hit my turnaround, and he was still there on my way back.  Then, as I hit mile 8.5 I saw a couple of bike cops.  I giggled to myself (because bike cops are always funny), and ran on.  A minute later, 2 more bike cops.  I checked to make sure they were different bike cops (and it wasn’t a glitch in the Matrix) and they were indeed different ones.  That was strange at 11pm, but I kept running as I was exhausted.   When I got to mile 9, I moved off the path a few feet to stretch by a tree.  I looked up, and I saw 12 bike cops, all hanging out.  About a trillion jokes were running through my head, but there was a big street festival in my neighborhood, so I figured it was related.  I laughed a lot on the inside, and went home.  

Chicago PD, keeping me safe

Chicago PD, keeping me safe

Upon learning about the “group of young men mugging runners/bikers” I realized those cops were indeed out there to stop these punks.  They must have seen a single dude, running by himself and thought I was nuts.  For the first time in my life, the cops were on my side and were looking at me as a potential victim and not a suspect.  It was rather refreshing. 

 

 

 

 

Dave-made defense.  Take that Foot Clan

Dave-made defense. Take that Foot Clan

Once I learned about these punks (who will be referred to as The Foot from this point forward), I needed to make some adjustments to my running.  I usually run at night because… well because getting up at 5am bites and I work late. Sometimes Krissy and I run together, but usually only once during the week and on Sundays, so I needed to keep myself safe from The Foot.  My first step was just planning a route that was busy.  During my weekday 3-5 mile runs, I usually just run around the local streets, so I adjusted my distance to stay on busier streets the whole time.  The next thing I needed to do was channel my inner-ninja.  Similar to running, you can’t just go full out ninja without warming up.  So before I ran I broke a few boards with my head, and karate-chopped Krissy in the throat.  And finally, I armed myself.  It made sense to bring a sword or some nunchucks, but those would be a burden during the run, so I had to get creative.  I wanted to just load my fist with something heavy, but then I fell upon a genius idea: Loaded fist with corkscrew punch.  It would be discreet, but if someone messed with they’d be screwed (yup, pun fully intended).  So using my routing, channeling my inner-ninja, and arming myself seemed to do the trick, because I am 2 for 2 on weeknight runs where I haven’t been mugged or beaten by The Foot.

 I have been checking and haven’t heard much from The Foot in the last few days, so I’m guessing either the increased police presence or fear of some awesome runner with a corkscrew fist has scared them back into the shadows.  And that’s good.   For one reason, I live in a safe (albeit often drunk) neighborhood and want it to return that way.  The other reason is I am having a very difficult time sewing CoolMax to make my superhero costume.  I don’t think running clothes and superhero outfits are intended to be one in the same.

 Outside of being a running ninja, training has been going well.  I took a few days off about 10 days ago, as my knees were feeling pretty cruddy, but that seems to have passed.  My slightly faster than normal ramping up of my long runs is going OK.  I’m finding myself pretty sore during the run, but 2 days later I’m back to normal, so I think I’m recovering healthy.  I just started a new VO2max workout and HOLY POOP it’s exhausting.  Check out the 30/30 workout here on active.com.  I think this will do a ton to help both my overall endurance and help me pick up a little speed, but the workout immediately reminded me of wrestling workouts.  It’s going as hard as you can for a short period of time, and following that up by going as hard as you can again…. Then, when you are finished, you have to work out a little more to properly cool down.  I have heard quite a few positive things about VO2max workouts recently, so hopefully this helps (because it sure hurts).

 El Jardin Restaurant:  Mexican food 16 out of 17

 El Jardin Resturant (not to be confused with El Jardin Café which is a block and a half north) is the best Mexican restaurant I have been to in the city.  Their prices are OK, but they are on restaurants.com, so when there is a 80% coupon sale (almost every day) you can pick up a good meal and drinks for 4 people for $70-$80.  While I have positive reviews from Bill, Jar, Brittany, Brittany’s dude, Uncle Mike and Tia Rachel, Monica , Benito, Duch and Leslie on all of the food there, I have only had one meal and I have it every time.  The Tampiquena.  Best. Steak. On. Earth.  That’s all I can say, and it’s easy to say because it’s true.  Krissy get’s veggie stuff and says that they are very good as well.  Others have gotten other random meals, all positive.  They also have very good margaritas, and VERY strong.  I have literally carried people away from El Jarden after just a few of their tasty original margaritas on the rocks. 

 Bones was at the Statrosphere last weekend and got the recent odds from their Sportsbook.  They are giving me 2:3 odds on completing the Whistlestop Marathon in the 6hr time limit.  I think they heard about The Foot, and adjusted their odds for potential mugging injuries.

Terrapin 5K and recovery beer

Beer makes you a better athlete

Beer makes you a better athlete

Beer is good for you. It (along with chocolate milk) are the best possible drinks to help you recover after a race. I’m serious, this is the best news I have heard since that report about the Smoke Monster from Lost was getting his own TV show. There has been some research recently that showed that athletes who drank beer or chocolate milk as a recovery to a run/race rehydrated better and had increased muscle recovery (less muscle damage) than those who drank water, Gatorade or other recovery drinks. I’m not sure if that applies to Soy Chocolate Milk or Rice Chocolate Milk, but I’m hoping so. And as for beer, a 6-pack of the High Life, or even tasty Honey Brown, cost less than a 6-pack of Gatorade, so drinking beer is the fiscally responsible thing to do. This works out perfectly, because attached to my Terrapin 5K bib, was a coupon for a free slice of pizza and a free beer.

Terrapin 5K

Terrapin 5K

The race was yesterday and turned out great. Bones, Wudchuk and I had a little bit of a time scare, but the surprisingly efficient Red Line got us to Hutchinson Field with minutes to spare. We didn’t need to check any gear, so after a quick pit stop, we headed for the starting line. It seemed like everyone was already lined up on the very narrow sidewalk, but we went to the end and did some stretching. I think the race started as some point in time, but I didn’t hear anything, I just saw the long line get a bit shorter. And shorter. And shorter. Next thing I knew, I was about 3 minutes into Terrible Lie (NIN) and we were crossing the start line, about 3.5 min on the clock. Right after we crossed the start, Wudchuk took off and started playing Indy-Slurp to get around runners. Bones quickly followed him. As for me, I started into a nice warm-up pace.

My plan was not to “race” this event, but to use it as a speed workout in my marathon training. Lately I have been pacing about 12/min miles, so I figured 36-38 min would be expected. Since it was a speed workout, I expected a min or two off of that. My plan for the day was my first fartlek training. Besides sounding like some G or PG rated Disney joke, it’s also a style of training where you randomly pick various destinations throughout a workout to run intensely, then you settle back in for a while at a regular pace, then you randomly go intense for a while and so forth. A 5K race is a little short, but seemed like a good opportunity for my first fartlek.

This plan worked out pretty well, because there was a ton of traffic along the course of the Terrapin 5K. It was along the lake path, just north of Soldier Field, and while it was a wider part of the path, it wasn’t intended for a 1600 person race. So I ran my basic 12 min/mile pace in traffic, then had an intensity burst when I had an opening. The plan worked well and outside of the moments where there was 5 soccer moms, side-by-side, taking up the whole path, I ran it to perfection. The race went by pretty quick and my only planned sprint was the last .25 miles. There was a “Mile 1” sign and clock, a “Mile 2” sign and clock, so at Mile 3 (when I saw the marker, not when I hit it), I was going to kick it in. … No Mile 3 sign and with about a hundred meters to go, I saw the finish and just kicked it in there.

Me and the boys after the race

Me and the boys after the race

I finished at 32:56 (or 10:36 miles). It was a little faster than I expected, and I’m pretty thrilled with the results, especially considering I handled it like a training run and had a TON of energy left in the tank at the end. Bones and Wudchuk each had PR’s as well. Wudchuk shot out fast and Bones paced behind him about 20-50 meters. Then at mile 2 (ish) Bones caught up and they ran the rest of the race together (26:06). We then walked over, got our free beer (for optimum recovery), pizza, ice cream and brownie; sat down and enjoyed a Grateful Dead cover band. Pretty solid race for all.

For my food review this week, I’ll talk about a place I ran past/to/and from. The food provided by the Terrapin 5K

Terrapin 5K: free food 8 out of 17.

After our race we got some free food. Free (well I guess we paid our $40 entry to the race, which is a little high) is a plus. Our tasty treat included a slice of Homerun Inn Pizza. I’m a bit of a pizza snob and was unimpressed by the Homerun Inn pizza. All pizza is good, even lame Domino’s, but this wasn’t much better than that. Our desert of Cherry Garcia ice cream and non-hash brownies were pretty good and helped get rid of the taste of the pizza. The beer was the real highlight of this meal and saved overall rating. It was Magic Hat or something like that. I tried the red beer (some cool funny name, but I don’t remember) and it was great. Not only rehydrated (I am not sore today, it did its job) but it was very tasty. I would definitely pick some up if I found it at the liquor store.

The Rio sportsbook must have been impressed with my 5K results, because today’s odds on me completing the Whistlestop Marathon are 1:3.