Sunday, September 09, 2007

So Long And Thanks For All The Fish (City Of Lakes 25k)

AM: 3M wm; 25k race (1:25:??, last two miles 5:40, 6:00); cd? yeah right.

Well at least it provided a definitive answer. Not any of this middling, "I don't know what to take from this race" crap. When I do it, I do it in style.

Between the head cold in the earlier part of the week and the sometimes dead legs over the past two days I had begun to question whether my plan for this fall is unraveling. Yesterday I was wondering "How do I keep it together until November?" So I pegged today's race as a race for answers. Stick with the plan and run TCM and JFK? Move my surgery up and get things fixed and healed now? Some third option involving moving the surgery earlier and running the Ed Fitz 100k Oct 13 with the goal of running 7:20 (probably good enough to get named to the the team next year)?

I've been such an lost soul the past few months, constantly battling against what I could plainly see: I'm injured and my mind isn't right. My head is writing checks my body can't cash. I go to bed at night with this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that I've wasted the this season, hoping that I'll wake up in the morning and be pain free, able to go out and run forever. I'm probably over-trained to some extent. I have all the symptoms.

Part of the problem is that once I had injury diagnosed I had a faint light at the end of the tunnel. I started looking ahead. How was I going to rehab? Take it slow I told myself. I started looking ahead and began to lose focus (and a bit of interest) in the racing I had left this fall.

But about today's race. The legs felt pretty good waking up. The air was crisp and I thought all was well. Then I went for my warm-up. About five steps into it my upper back spasmed so hard it took my breathe away. It just came out of nowhere. I tried to stretch it out, but it was too late, the damage was done. It was bearable during the remainder of the warm-up, but my mental mood was already soured. At this point I was sure that some limb was going fall off by mile 3.

The race started off slow. I felt "okay". A pack of us went through in about 5:30 and then the race began as Chris Lundstrom started to stride out. Others followed and I found myself settling in with teammate Jeremy Essler. We were both looking to run about the same pace so we ended up working together for much of the race. We ran alone until about mile 10 when Eric Pierce worked his way up to us and kept going. Jeremy and I latched on for a couple miles, but as we hit mile 11 with a 5:19 split (we had been running about 5:25) I began to sense trouble. Eric dropped us pretty quickly. I held it together, but Jeremy started to gap me for a little bit. I managed to get back on his wheel as we climbed the hill back to Lake Harriet for the last time, but as we hit the half marathon point (1:11:30?) I struggled. It was everything and nothing at once. My breathing was about the same, but both of my injuries were causing some major pain and I was losing a lot of power in my stride. Jeremy put more and more time on me as I split 5:40 at mile 14. Now the mental side was becoming an issue. I did not want to run anymore. I knew Todd was behind me and gaining, but I did not care. I backed off into a slightly more earnest easy run pace and split 6:00 at mile 15. Todd had passed by this time and I was left to contemplate how things have turned out so differently than I had hoped this year. I don't know what my official time was (does it matter?), but I hurt more than any race I've finished in awhile.

So I don't know where I go from here. The US men got the bronze medal at the World Cup yesterday adding to my woes-me attitude. I'm happy for them for sure, especially Howard, but I can't help it with the "what-ifs".

Part of me realizes that I probably need a coach of some sort. I kind of envy Eric and Mike's situation with "Mystery Coach" because there is a certain comfort in being told what to do. Minimal thinking and an objective observer. But then I also feel that I've learned a lot this year and once I'm healed I will make better decisions, be more proactive. I want to be on that 100k team next year! I should have been this year and my own foolishness coupled with a few bad breaks just mucked it up.

Next year I will be training with one race in mind. Build more strength. Fix my form. Race less, recover more. Fewer and more carefully planned high mileage weeks. A return to the heart rate monitor. Supplemental pool running. Some sports psychology work. But that will come soon enough. I still need to figure out the transition.

I drowned my sorrows in the Lodge Burger at the Nook in Highland Park. Following a little study time, Katie and I went to Borders so I could pick up Led Zeppelin II and Led Zeppelin Remasters. I needed a little Living Loving Maid and Good Times Bad Times.

Katie and I got a membership to Lifetime Fitness last week. The Highland Park location is right across the bridge, which is convienent but since it doesn't have a pool I'll probably end up going to the downtown St Paul location or going to the Rec Center at the UofM. The more and more I read about pool running it sounds like the perfect injury/CT modality for runners. Also the LTF has yoga classes. I also think the treadmills might go 15 mph, which would be awesome if I ever wanted to break the world record for the treadmill mile (take that Brandon!). Downside of Lifetime Fitness? Jackasses. They'll be the ones wearing Under Armour and grunting. Oh yeah? Watch me curl this 20 lb weight...10 times! Face!

I want to thank everyone that takes time to read this blog and those of you who comment. I do read them, I just haven't been in the state of mind to respond lately. Good times, bad times, you know I've had my share.


Evan Roberts said...

One word of advice for the pool running: H2OMan. I am not on commission.

Patrick said...

Thanks Evan. You just saved me a Google search!

Loomdog said...

PR as much as I love reading of your trememndous running and look forward to toeing the line at JFK with you. Maybe it is best to get things taken care of now and get on with the rehab and repair so that next spring you are TRULY able to kick but.

Besides, any whooping I am able to put on you in the first crazy rocky trail section at JFK is going to feel cheap for me knowing you are running broken.

Take care and best wishes.

SteveQ said...

Personally, I find running in a pool helps only if you can't run any other way; you're still running at a pretty high level. Looking at your posts, you're losing your mental edge, which is just another sign of overtraining (along with the injuries).

If you want some free coaching, just post the workouts you plan to do - and expect me to make some rude comments. Those who can't, coach those who can (and those who can't coach, coach anyway).

Patrick said...

Sage advice Steve! In just this last week I've noticed the mental side falling apart. With the US men getting a bronze and Wynn Davis running well at Superior this past weekend I feel a little more energized. Oh yeah, I took today off too so that may have had something to do with it!

Gregg said...

Not sure I couldn't disagree more with Steve. Training properly and up to one's potential is what it is all about. Just going out for a run for the sake of running isn't worth much, unless that is your goal...just to run. But, if you have goals and aspirations, ie: world cup team, olympic qualifiers, you need to do quality work. Since your current running is actually hindering you it is obvious you need change...yesterday! My vote is to scrap the year, get the surgery as quick as you can and start the rehab process. You will thank yourself next spring when kicking ass will be fun again!
Good luck PR.

Eric said...

Gregg has a point. Tying in with what you said about coaching, if you did have a coach, what do you suppose s/he would recommend right now?

Carrie Tollefson recently had to make a decision like this. I don't know where she's at with it, because she doesn't update her blog(! haha), but it sounds like it was the only decision she could make so that she didn't feel like she was constantly deferring to the pain and other limitations of the injury.

Good luck with the decision. It will be a challenge whatever you decide to do, but when you do something, commit. Just like racing!

Unrelated to this, I ran the Beardsley Half Marathon this past weekend, and I found out after the race that you had the course record. I missed it by a good margin (:36), but I heard some good stories about that day. Any recollections from the race? This was back in 2002, and I know your mind isn't what it used to be (snap!). I was told you left a trail of dead and suffered mightily for the sounded like a hell of a race.

Patrick said...


If I remember it correctly it was the USATF MN team championship that year and it was pretty hot. We went out conservatively and gradually eased the pace. At the end it ended up being me and my teammate Josh Metcalf. As we approached the finish line we agreed to cross together, but then he pulled a fast one and pushed me across the line first.

FYI: 5 weeks later I ran my current marathon PR of 2:25. So take from that what you will!