Lost and battle scarred 18 miler yesterday morning [warning: pictures]

Bloody knee at the end of the run

It’s been a while since I’ve taken a spill during a run…  seems like it’s been a year and a half since my last fall, and almost 5 years since one similar in nastiness to this one, and that one was at mile 2 of a 10 mile race.

There I was, lost in a neighborhood close to Highview, on the edge of Fern Creek.  I had begun this planned 18 miler unsure if I could finish any more than 10 miles.

My first 5 miles were a familiar route that I’ve used before for 7 to 23 milers, part of an out-and-back route that makes an intentionally indirect weaving path through a neighborhood close to the Gene Snyder Freeway that forms the outer access belt of the county. It’s a sidewalk and low-traffic neighborhood route that usually provides 6.8 filler miles in my wanderings through southeast Louisville. I’ve also used the route to the point that I pretty much hate it–more so than the treadmill.

And so, at mile 5, I needed a different route to keep going. I started veering off toward a route on the other side of Bardstown Rd., thinking that I’d just add a few miles off the busy street before continuing on my more regularly used route.

However, on my diverted route, I decided to explore a street I had never been through before. The first street of the diversion was easy enough to remember, but then I came across a nice little loop road that continued on to another neighborhood.  I took the loop road and then exited to another set of roads.

On my way back, I got back on the loop road and tried to find my way back–making at least two loops in the process. Once I finally found my way back to the street I started with, I was mentally fatigued from realizing that I was lost. As I went down the sidewalk on the road back, I didn’t notice that there was an unevenness in the sidewalk, and tripped and went for a nice flop onto the concrete.

Because of the cold, the landing on the ground was a dulled shock to the system. I had shake off the cobwebs and force myself up off the ground. Somehow, that spill around mile 10 challenged my ego enough to get me through another 8 miles that were originally in doubt.

It took me a couple of blocks to get moving with any rhythm again, and my leg strength was weakened by the fall. Those last 8 miles were rough and hilly, but the fall somehow made me determined to finish the planned 18–I just couldn’t quit because of a little fall.

I’m sure anyone who saw me those last few miles (including several runners) were probably horrified by the looks of the wound. Of course, the wound cleaned up in the shower into a tiny little scrape, but I’m glad that the skin on the knee doesn’t seem to feel as much some other areas.

18 miles in 2:55:57

Bloody knee after cleaning


Do not try this at home.

I was aiming for 16 miles today, and planned to get moving as close to 5:30 as possible.

Instead, I intentionally disabled my 5:30 alarm at 5:15 and then woke up just before my 6:30 alarm. I ate one of those Little Debbie Brownie things for pre-run fuel. Awful nutrition, I know, but I didn’t have any gels, so this brownie-like substance was going to burn off quickly.

I sat in the dark quietly feigning hamstring stretches, but I was really trying to buy time to wake up. Ever since my injury and subsequent backing off of double run days, I’ve struggled to wake up in the morning. I strangely miss the exhaustion.

On my way out, I did my usual run from Fairground Rd southbound on Bardstown Rd for a 3.4 mile segment that I double-back on for every run over 15 miles. Every once in a while, I come out on to Seatonville Rd and follow it over I-265 and out Broad Run until there is no longer enough shoulder width for safety.

Today, I decided to head down that path at about 2 miles into my run. The problem with improvising is that the end of the run WILL be full of surprises. This time, I passed up Broad Run and continued on Seatonville until Billtown Rd, intent on making a single loop without any scenery repeats.

I’ve seen a couple runners on Billtown Rd in areas with a decent shoulder, but cars go 60 mph down this 2-lane road with a soft or non-existent shoulder. They’re crazy.

Today, I was one of the crazy ones. I found that there are 1/4 mile stretches where thick weeds consume the shoulder and pose a huge tripping risk. I was also more disturbed by two dead animals than usual. This was probably a once in a lifetime adventure, but I feel I empathize with cyclists much more now.

I also managed to run through the Gaslight Festival booths which were set up and just opening up at 8:30 am. Watterson Trail and Taylorsville Road in this area are generally not runnable roads, but have sidewalks in exchange. Due to the booths, I found that I had to run down the middle of the roads. Nothing all that unusual for me, except for the fact that this was probably the first time I had ever barreled down the middle of a road and not been in a race.

Since I had made most of my loop thus far on main roads, I committed myself to following as much of the main roads as I usually use for the rest of the loop, instead of cutting across neighborhood roads. This added about 2 miles to my course today. While I would have been short without doubling back somewhere along the way, I ran out of steam past 15.5 miles, do to fuel and general lack of training recently.

Results: 17.66 miles in 2:53:56 [ 9:51 / mile ]

Best run ever

In terms of overall enjoyment, this was probably my best run ever, 5.3 miles in 44:31 minutes.

69’F, sunny, slight breeze, Friday, no big meetings left this week, legs fairly fresh…  if every run felt like this, I’d run 100s of miles per week.

I’ve spent the last week trying to squeeze in double workouts every day… morning run [50 minutes easy] and lunch exercise bike [10-14 miles on a “hilly” course at 13-15 mph and “flats” at 20 mph].

Today, I slept in, and had to move my run to lunch–which meant that I had to run through the office park.  Now, on a slightly warm, perfectly clear day, in which there hasn’t been more than a slight drizzle in the last week [and nothing in the last 24 hours] mud shouldn’t be a problem.

When I saw a muddy run-off on the sidewalk ahead of me, I made the quick assumption that it was thin layer of mud that would get my shoes slightly muddy.  By running on the forefoot more I would *SPLASH*.

No.  Not a film of mud.  3+ inches of mud, a little thinner than mud from a mudslide would probably be.  At 1.5 miles into my run, this would probably have killed my run the rest of the way, but not today.

I was happy to be out running.  I was happy to be free from the bike, which had punished my quads and muscles on the back of my legs that I didn’t know I had.  I was happy to be comfortably running off the treadmill.  I was happy to be running sub-8:30 pace comfortably in spurts instead of struggling to break 10 minute pace.

I started thinking about my Chicago Marathon goal.  3:15 would be stupid at this point,  but maybe 3:30 [still a PR] was at least physically in my reach.  It’s too soon to make those assumptions.  I haven’t run 20 miles since before I took nearly 3 weeks off of running.  13 felt okay last Saturday and, I’m going to target 16 tomorrow.  Then, I’ll see.

When I got back from the run, I spent 5-10 minutes trying to rinse/scrub the mud off of one of the shoes.  There wasn’t enough water pressure to do much.  My legs were coated from the top of my sock to my knee, and I had mud on my arm in spots.

After showering and scrubbing, I wiped my legs dry with the towel and it turned brown from the mud residue.  My legs were starting to itch, and I started thinking about what that “mud” could have been run-off from.  After cleaning up some more, I rubbed my legs down with Purell.  Hopefully, the itchiness was an allergic reaction to weeds or something, but I found myself creeped out, nonetheless.

I’m sure I got some weird looks from being so coated in mud on a clear and dry day.  Oh, well.  It’s good to be running again.

Muddy shoes after an attempt to wash them off.

Guess my 20 miler time: I ran 6.29 miles in the first hour + highest mileage week in a year.

This was not a set up for a good long run today:

  • I had a mid-back spasm in the first mile of my 5-miler yesterday morning that was still bothering me this morning. [Managed to fight for a 9’22” pace yesterday]
  • The first hour of the run didn’t break 9:30 pace, the second hour was still about 9:12 pace.
  • It poured rain for at least the hour of my run this morning, making my shoes incredibly heavy until the water mostly emptied after about 12 miles.
  • I was wrapping up my highest mileage week in a year–75 miles–after 70 miles last week.
  • I was wrapping up my highest mileage month ever [312 miles].
  • I had two gels for a 20-miler [I usually use at least 3, but I take 5]
  • My last two 20-milers together averaged well over 10 minutes per mile, but my target was sub-9 [under 3 hours for 20].

The results were considerably better than expected.  I stopped for a potty break before mile 10, but also had to fight through running on the side of Hurstbourne Parkway that didn’t have a sidewalk.  No, I didn’t run on the road; I ran in the un-mowed uneven weeds at were at times knee-high.

My first 6 miles were okay, but slower than I expected, at a 9:34 pace.

My second 6 miles were more respectable, at a 9:15 pace.

It was at the 2 hour mark that I decided:  I only had 7.2 miles to go, and 8:20 [7.2 mph] is a comfortable “cruising” pace for me. Therefore, I should be able to finish in 3 hours.  At that point, my mental will recovered from 4 months of not caring and leaving my legs with no support.  Not only did I hit three hours, but I also had sub-8 splits a couple of times in the last hour.

Negative 6-mile splits
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Is it a bad sign to see vultures circling on your run?

Turkey Vulture
Image by TexasEagle via Flickr

I saw 5-6 turkey vultures today on my run at mile 5 1/2 [on Broad Run Road]. Before I realized that were swooping down on your garden variety roadkill, the sight of them evoked some disturbing [in a funny way] thoughts.

Of course, then, I started thinking that squirrels on Seatonville Road and Broad Run Road must not be as good at dodging cars as on the other roads on my route.  Then, I started wondering what I’m doing running on roads that so many squirrels have recently met their demise on.

Maybe I should go back to running with music on roads and sidewalks that are “safe”.  I clearly have too much time to think on my long runs.

This was my longest continuous run in about 2 months.  Every single run since [including my Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon DNF] has had more than one long pitstop or a prolonged walk break.  And so, a 15 mile non-stop long run is my longest run in at least two months.  I can’t completely confirm that my 20-mile long run through Iroquois Park and UofL were continuous runs either, but I know that there weren’t many places that I could have stopped.

The pace for today’s run was a 9’31″/mile average pace, which is about 50 seconds slower than I would have liked, but I’d rather be in one piece for my next long run than hit some time goal on a training run 5 months from my goal marathon.

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The only way I’m going to avoid injury is to sit perfectly still. #running

[Workout – 6 x 1/2 mile progressive intervals 3:26.9 and faster]

Index card with treadmill speed by mileage marks

I’ve been pitying myself the last couple of weeks.

On February 3, I finished off a stupid 26 mile in 24 hours stunt with an attempted tempo run that turned into a slow limp for the last 3 miles.

My first thought:  “Just like last year.  I’ve injured myself and I’ll be sitting out all spring with injury.”

I biked the next day, and still hurt pretty bad.  What was supposed to be a 66 mile running week for me came to a dead stop at day 3 with 34 miles.  My back hurt, and by Friday, I scheduled yet another physical therapy appointment.

I decided to try normal running on Monday, with painful results:  6 miles in 52:57, but tremendous piriformis pain and lower back pain.  The following day, I decided that I would get my 6 miles in, even if I had to walk them all.  After two miles of progressively faster walking, the piriformis felt loose enough to test it running slowly.  No problems.

However, last week, I bailed on my 7:30/mile pace tempo run after 2 miles.  This past Saturday’s run had me feeling pretty incapable as well.

Needless to say, I’ve been building up apprehension about my first set of 1/2 mile intervals.  I took the index card [pictured] from my last progressive 1/2 mile interval session [over 3 weeks ago] to the treadmill.  The last time I attempted this workout, I got through the fourth set before my legs and lungs quit on me.  Surely, I would barely get through the 4 sets because of my injury.

Well, the piriformis hurts a little from the workout, but I got through 6 full 1/2 mile intervals and added an extra .11 [for 5k of intervals] from the seventh interval.  I probably had legs for one or two more 1/2 miles, but I didn’t want to overdo the workout, coming off of a close call with a longer term injury.

While I did have a real injury brewing, my biggest barrier was my fear of injury.

The only way I’m going to avoid injury is to sit perfectly still.

Then, I’ll never risk an injury.  I’ll also never accomplish anything, either.

Intervals (1/2 mile intervals)
Type Distance Time Total Time Pace Avg HR Max HR Notes
Recovery 1 Mi 9:32 9:32 9:32
Interval 0.5 Mi 3:26.9 12:58.9 6:54 8.7 mph
Recovery 0.25 Mi 2:19 15:17.9 9:16
Interval 0.5 Mi 3:24.5 18:42.4 6:49 8.8 mph
Recovery 0.25 Mi 2:18.5 21:00.9 9:14
Interval 0.5 Mi 3:22.2 24:23.1 6:45 8.9 mph
Recovery 0.25 Mi 2:18.5 26:41.6 9:14
Interval 0.5 Mi 3:20 30:01.6 6:40 9.0 mph
Recovery 0.25 Mi 2:18.5 32:20.1 9:14
Interval 0.5 Mi 3:17.8 35:37.9 6:36 9.1 mph
Recovery 0.25 Mi 2:18.5 37:56.4 9:14
Interval 0.5 Mi 3:15.7 41:12.1 6:32 9.2 mph
Recovery 0.25 Mi 2:18.5 43:30.6 9:14
Interval 0.11 Mi 0:42.6 44:13.2 6:28 9.3 mph

Hills and snow long run – a trail run despite the pavement technicality

My long run today was going to be fairly sluggish just because of my piriformis soreness issues lately.  However, I never thought that it would be as dicey or as slow as it was today.  Those who know my running habits and philosophy know that I never run outside with music:  I never need it outside, and I regard it as a safety issue to not be able to hear what’s going on around me.  It should be telling that I didn’t just plan on taking music with me “just in case” for this run, I ended up listening to Pandora for 2 hours of my nearly 3 hour long run.

The base road around the park [Rundill Road] was 80% clear, and there was plenty of road to run on, where the snow had either melted completely or had been reduced to a thin layer of slush.  About half of this road is open to vehicle traffic, and those parts had even mostly dried out.

However, the situation changed when I turned up Uphill Road [see the picture below].  The early part was smoothly packed snow, which was very runnable, but had limited traction.  A few spots further up the hill were dry from complete exposure to the sunlight.  The remainder, on Tophill Road and Uphill Road, were 95% thawed and refrozen packed snow with heel divots, along with melted ATV tracks.

On the way uphill on the refrozen slush, I tried to work with the divots, but my ankles kept turning in different directions with every step.  On the way back, I tried to run in either ATV tracks or the sections of unpacked snow on the road.  Consequently, my already slow 9:50-ish pace slowed to 11 minute pace for a couple of miles, and often much slower than that, despite my effort level never really dropping off.

I should have taken more pictures.  My run time probably wouldn’ t have suffered much.

Even back on Rundill for the reverse loop and back out Southern Parkway for an additional 4 miles, my legs had nothing left.  I felt like I was at mile 24 of a rough marathon.  Don’t get me wrong:  I’ve felt much worse at mile 24 of a marathon, but at least I had the sense of accomplishment of having run 24 miles.

Maybe I should have had trail shoes for this.  Maybe this is a sign that trails aren’t for me.

My legs hurt now.  My quads hurt, but the rest of my legs feel like I’ve been standing up for an entire day without any support or chance to sit down.

Uphill and Rundill Rd at Iroquois Park

RunningAHEAD – Strings_n_88keys’s log: View Workout.

Treadmill 20 mile MP run in 2:38:39 (7’57” avg)

I ran a marathon pacing interval set (5 miles on, 5 minute recovery, 4, 3, 2, 1) on the treadmill.

I haven’t had what I’ve felt was a satisfactory workout since the November marathon in Indianapolis. This workout took care of that void.

No gels, just 96 ounces of Gatorade as fuel.

This was my fastest “long” workout since before the Indianapolis marathon (including the two marathons in between).

I also managed to break my half marathon PR by four minutes on the treadmill, even with 2 miles of recovery jogs in the first 13.11 miles.

Sometimes, you need to test what you’re made of. I feel a little better now.

2251.2 miles for the year and other accomplishments #running #twit2fit

Accomplishments for the year:

  • 10 more 60 mile weeks than I’ve run in my entire life.
  • My first 70 mile week, and 5 more 70+ mile weeks.
  • My first 80 mile week.
  • My first 2000+ mile year.
  • My first 300+ mile month.
  • Two 5k PRs under 21 minutes.
  • Sub 4 hour marathons in two new states.
  • A new marathon PR – 3:32:20.

Considering I took 8 weeks off for injury and scrapped 4 races in the spring as a result, I had a very good year.

A miserable but beautiful 14 miler at 5:40 am #twit2fit #running

I ran 14.65 miles in 2:15:34 this morning. That’s about 45 seconds per mile slower than my worst long run (of 20 miles) recently, and 75 seconds per mile slower than my marathon pace in Indy.

However, this was a nice, calming experience. The first natural light didn’t start appearing until I was near mile 10.

There are a couple of neighborhoods that I cut through to safely get from Bardstown Road to Hurstbourne Parkway and then from Taylorsville Road to Billtown Road. I usually head in the opposite direction first when doing pre-dawn runs, so I had no idea that a couple of those neighborhoods are lit up like Christmas trees. I have to admit that the uniform lighting gives some strange sense of security which disappears when heading on to the intermittent street lights and sparse cars on the main road before dawn on a weekend.

Running right at dawn seems to put just about any neighborhood in its most picturesque view. I run through a neighborhood that isn’t visually appealing in the daylight, but the fact that it is laid out on a hill gives it a clear view of the dawn peaking over the hills.