Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Running in the Dark

Didn't get out until after the sunset, but early enough to watch the moon rise in the east as I cruised around the Meadow View loop.

Time: 1:09
Distance: 7.14 miles
Effort: Easy
Body: Good
Weather: Cool and dark

A conspiracy of multiple origins led to me not getting out until around 6 p.m., well after the sun had set. So, with one headlamp on my head and another in my right hand, I dashed around Elk Meadow's Meadow View loop in the dark.

Running in the dark is a hit-or-miss thing for me.  Sometimes I really enjoy it, others...not so much.  Last night was one of the good night runs. Time seemed to stand still.  All the hills seemed to have flattened. I just loved the feeling of movement as my forward progress broke the never-ending clouds of moisture emanating from my lungs in the cold night air.

First time this year I broke out the running pants.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Eve, Eve, Eve,...Run & Celebration

Took part in a long-standing Evergreen holiday celebration Sunday morning by joining a large group of runners on an outing in Elk Meadow followed by food and drink at Mimi and Gil's house.

Time:  1:45
Distance: 10.06 miles
Effort:  Moderate
Body:  Astoundingly poor
Weather: Sunny and cool

For the last twelve years, Andrew A. has hosted a pre-Christmas weekend morning run and party.  These gatherings, famous in song and story, involve equal doses of tough decision-making (shorts or tights? Meadow View loop or Bergen Peak?), running and noshing.

By 8:30 a.m., a good-sized group had arrived at Andrew's parents place tucked away off a dirt road on the hillsides far above Bear Creek. After a round of introductions and a group picture in front of a PowerBar emblazoned company car, we were off jogging downhill towards a neighborhood access trail that leads into the dog park part of Elk Meadow Open Space.

Preparing to depart.

Our group of 20 or so runners quickly separated into pace and distance groups with six of us off the front and heading up the southern flank of Bergen Peak. The six of us held together pretty well up until the second overlook on the Bergen Peak trail.  As we hit the steeps here, I watched Andrew, Travis Macy and another guy disappear ahead.

For the first time in years, I was reduced to speed hiking twice on this ascent.  I simply had no pep, no energy...no nothin'.  Presumably, all the time off of late had something to do with it. I hit the Summit Trail intersection in about 52 minutes.  I decided I'd had enough.  I waited a few minutes for the two runners behind me to catch up.  After letting them know I was heading down, I continued onto the Too Long Trail and jogged it back with my tail between my legs.

I felt a little bit better once I got onto the Meadow View Trail. I picked up the pace through here a bit en route back to Mimi and Gil's house.

Back at the party HQ, a full buffet of breakfast foods, treats and beverages was awaiting. After a plateful of chow and some good conversation, I was off to meet up with the family for some more weekend fun.

Many thanks for Andrew, Chris, Gil and Mimi for hosting this wonderful gathering.  It was really great to connect with such a solid group of Evergreen-area runners. 

Time to start training for next year.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Elk Meadow - Meadow View - Easy

Easy late afternoon lap around the Meadow View loop.

Time:  39 minutes
Distance: 4:56 miles
Effort: Easy
Body: Good
Weather: Sunny and cool

Not even going to try to make up something remotely interesting about this run.  Standard loop. Nothing memorable. Just out to be out.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Routine Jog...Finally!

Got out for a late-morning jog around the Meadow View Loop at Elk Meadow Open Space.  Foot felt normal.  Progress.

Time:  47 minutes
Distance: 5.07 miles
Effort: Easy
Body: Good
Weather: Sunny and cool

Ran easy around the home loop with Steve F. Pretty routine, except that I've been out of the routine so long it didn't feel routine at all. I love self-propulsion.  

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Little of This...A Little of That..

A 5-mile run on the home trails, a sweet 11-mile loop in Boulder and an informative and seemingly helpful visit with a new PT.

After 18 days off, I finally got out for a run last weekend - a whopping five mile cruise around the Meadow View loop at Elk Meadow Open Space. The run was fine. Felt great just to be moving again.

I've been nursing two nagging injuries (really?...haven't you told us this 50,231 times?), my left heel and a likely muscle tear of some sort in one of my right lower abs.

Post-run, things generally felt OK. Foot ached some, but not nearly as bad as it has. Lower ab was fine.

On Monday, I went and saw another Boulder-based PT. Great guy that was recommended by Aaron K. He worked on me using a combination of Active Release Therapy and Graston Technique, neither of which I knew anything about before Monday. Now, I'll readily admit that I'm a bit of a skeptic and far from up-to-speed on the latest bodywork fads and science. Whether it's chiropractic, acupuncture or Rolfing, I'm the first to roll his eyes, yet, incongruently, willing to try anything to get back into the miles.

So, the whole ART thing I get...now that I've experienced it. Here's what the ART Web site says about the technique:

ART is a patented, state of the art soft tissue system/movement based massage technique that treats problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and nerves. Headaches, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, shin splints, shoulder pain, sciatica, plantar fasciitis, knee problems, and tennis elbow are just a few of the many conditions that can be resolved quickly and permanently with ART. These conditions all have one important thing in common: they are often a result of overused muscles.

Every ART session is actually a combination of examination and treatment. The ART provider uses his or her hands to evaluate the texture, tightness and movement of muscles, fascia, tendons, ligaments and nerves. Abnormal tissues are treated by combining precisely directed tension with very specific patient movements.

These treatment protocols - over 500 specific moves - are unique to ART. They allow providers to identify and correct the specific problems that are affecting each individual patient. ART is not a cookie-cutter approach.

The Graston Technique is a whole other ball of wax. This from the
Graston Technique Web site:

The Graston Technique® incorporates a patented form of instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization that enables clinicians to effectively detect and treat scar tissue and restrictions that affect normal function.
  • Separates and breaks down collagen cross-links, and splays and stretches connective tissue and muscle fibers
  • Increases skin temperature
  • Facilitates reflex changes in the chronic muscle holding pattern
  • Alters spinal reflux activity (facilitated segment)
  • Increases the rate and amount of blood flow to and from the area
  • Increases cellular activity in the region, including fibroblasts and mast cells
  • Increases histamine response secondary to mast cell activity
The "instrument" referenced above, at least in my case, was an interesting stainless steel tool that looked like a cross between a butter knife from my grandma's silverware set and the steel boomerang the "Feral Kid" in the Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome movie wielded (only the Graston tool was smaller and a bit less menacing).

So, I'm still learning about all this stuff.  And, ultimately, the true measure is whether the patient (me!) improves.  For now, the short of it is that I was very impressed with this PT. He spent a good two hours listening to me, working on my problem areas and explaining the physiological rationale for everything he did.  I walked out of there feeling like he'd done some good, and I had a passel of recommended exercises and home therapies to apply, including a way to tape up my foot that might help.

I took a day off, post PT visit, to let things settle in.  On Wednesday, with 60-degree weather mocking me, I decided it was time to get out for some miles.  I used my new Rock Tape to tape up my heel and set off in the late afternoon from the Flatiron Vista Trailhead off Highway 93. Man, was I psyched to be out running. 

My foot felt surprisingly good.  Solid.  Like I didn't need to think about it.  I ran up the Prairie View Trail, down Dowdy Draw to the Spring Brook Loop.  Headed south, picked up Goshawk and ran that to Spring Brook North and returned to Flatiron Vista.  11.3 miles of trail bliss in about 1:39.  (This is a really, really great and fast loop.  Highly recommend it...).

No problems with the foot.  Lower ab tightened up a lot. Hard to know if that was a result of the Graston work on Monday, or the result of the exertion.  Time will tell.  A day later, the foot still feels good...far better than it has post-run in a month. Was it the ART...the Graston...the taping...a combination of the three?  Hard to know.  

Still, I'm encouraged and plan to return to the PT for some follow-ups.  More to come as I gain more experience with these approaches.

Definitely lamenting that I won't be up in FoCo on Saturday running the Chubby Cheeks 50K.

Lastly, I've started labeling posts like this: "injury whining." I'm not used to being on the injured-reserve list, and certainly not much used to writing about it. Please feel free to offer poignant counsel on whether posts like this are overly indulgent, boring and best left as unpublished drafts.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Congratulations and Still Laid Up

I'm still laying up, resting the plantar and lower ab.  16 days...but, who's counting? I'm going to get out tomorrow for a few miles.  Been inspired by a local guy's performance back East.

Patrick Garcia ran a hell of a race in this weekend's Hellgate 100K.  Even came in ahead of Mr. Pony Express, Karl Meltzer.  Eager to hear all the details.  Congrats, Patrick!  The CO boys are making a damn good showing in the hills of Virginia.  Remember this guy's performance at the MMTR?

Here's the top 10:

2010 Hellgate Finishers
December 11, 2010
1Jeremy Ramsey, 3411:24:20M
2Chris Reed, 38, PA11:48:50M
3Patrick Garcia, 25, CO12:05:18M
4Jason Lantz, 29, PA12:16:14M
5Ryan O'Dell, 25, NY12:19:17M
6Keith Knipling, 3412:22:25M
7Frank Gonzales, 3412:27:46M
8Darryl Smith, 3912:44:28M
9Karl Meltzer, 43, VT12:47:38M
10Jordan Chang, 2312:51:38M

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Arkansas and Rest

I got out early on Thanksgiving for a 10-mile run on the Ouachita Trail, a 223-mile trail that runs from Pinnacle Mountain in west Little Rock to Oklahoma (FKT - 76 hours, 34 minutes, according to an article in Trail Runner Magazine).  I was in Little Rock with the family to visit my brother, his wife and their brand new baby boy, Zack.

I lately have been cutting back on the running to try and deal with a flare-up in my left plantar. My last run was on Saturday, November 20th, which was a swell jog on the upper loop at Bergen Peak. The problem was that after that run, I paid for it and was hobbling for a couple of days.  Fast forward to Thanksgiving and the foot was feeling better, so off I went, bright and early for a really nice (and warm) run on the leaf-covered trails the wound from the base of Pinnacle Mountain along the hillsides on the north side of Lake Maumelle.

The run was great. Had the trails to myself and even had a wildlife encounter I'd never had before. About midway through the run, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye and stopped to watch a juvenile raccoon scurry up a tree, pausing to peek around the tree at me from time to time.  Seeing a raccoon, of course, is no big deal. However, this was actually the first time I've seen a raccoon not in a city, not in my yard, not in a campground and not trying to gnaw its way into the hold of my kayak on a remote key in the 10,000 Islands Wilderness on Florida's Gulf Coast.  This was just a raccoon in the woods. Hard to believe it was a first for me, but there you go.

That afternoon, the foot pain was back...and back with a vengeance.  I was hobbling the rest of the day/night. It still hurt the next day, but was easing just enough to hike up to the summit of Pinnacle Mountain with JP, jP, CP, by brother and stepbrother.  Beautiful day. Would have loved running up the mountain.  It's short, steep and rocky. Made me wonder what the FKT for an ascent is.  My guess is something like seven minutes.

Anyway, I've decided I need to take this foot thing more seriously, as well as a lingering bit of pain in the groin/lower abdomen (sports hernia?) that has been persisting since pre-Run Rabbit Run 50 in September. So, I'm laying low for a bit.

Right now, for the foot, I'm exploring options. I did a visit to a PT before Thanksgiving, which provided some easing of pain, but not nearly as much as it did last year when I was dealing with this.  That says to me that the foot now need more focused attention than it did last year.  The regimen now includes much stretching, rest, ice and some regular rolling of the heel on a golf ball and small hand weight.  I figure I'll try a short run this weekend, to see if there's any improvement.  Right now, just walking around, it feels fine, with just some mild tenderness in the heel.

For the lower ab thing, I'm trying some stretches and core exercises. I probably will make an appointment this week to see a doc for a diagnosis, then figure things out from there.

Made a trip to the gym yesterday to get the heart rate up.  I walked a whole half-mile on the treadmill, did a round of lower body weight work, including some really fun dumbell squats on one of those Bosu ball things (half fitness ball/half balance board).  I followed that work up with 12 laps in the pool, which wore me out and reminded me yet again that I really don't much enjoy lap swimming (swimming is hard!).  But, it was damn good exercise and I know I can only get better.

Forgive the injury whining. This stretch has been a first for me. I've run pretty much injury free for years. In fact, the only other injuries I recall beyond last year's plantar problems are a partial ACL tear and a groin tear, both from playing competitive club ultimate in my late 20s/early 30s.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Bergen Peak - Upper Loop

Perfect running temps and solid legs made for a great run.  If only the niggling injuries would cease!

Time:  1:31
Distance: 9.02 miles
Effort: Easy
Body: Good
Weather: Sunny and cool

Ran the Bergen Peak upper loop from the house via the neighborhood connector trail.  Steady cruise across Meadow View and up Too Long. Hit the Summit Trail intersection in an easy 57:49. Kept a focus on keeping the HR in the low range. Felt really good.

Jogged down Bergen Peak Trail back to Meadow View and took the backyard route home.  Nice mental zone the whole way. Just felt good to be out.  

I had a few twinges in the left foot and Achilles on the run, but nothing significant.  I stopped to stretch a few times on the ups and downs. Soaked both feet in a tub of ice water once home as a precaution. Still, after an hour or so, the left Achilles (a new sore spot) was complaining...loudly. Had to bag the early Sunday a.m. run so as not to aggravate it further.  Quite a string of fun this last month.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Green Mountain - Ups

Late afternoon dash up Boulder's Green Mountain. Up in the twilight, down in the near-full-moon darkness.

Time:  1:10 
Distance: 5.75 miles
Effort: Moderate
Body: Good
Weather: Getting dark and cool

Nice run up the backside of Green Mountain. Started the run about 4:10 p.m., with the sun fading behind the mountains to the west. Felt pretty good the whole way up. Hit the ranger cabin in an easy 16:37.  Chugged steady up the trail from there, hitting the four-way in 36:30. Made my way up the steps to the summit and tagged the summit marker in 39:02, about 15 seconds off a PR.  

I have got to get my splits and PRs memorized. Would have worked it harder if I knew I was that close.

Body felt solid again. Ran in the Crosslites for the first time in a couple weeks. Felt faster in 'em...just like when you're a kid.  "Will these shoes make me run faster?"

Jogged down in just over 30 minutes in the dark. Thankfully, a near-full-moon was rising in the east casting a nice, warm glow on the trail.  Great night in the Boulder hills.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Test Drive

Easy five miles at Elk Meadow testing out the post-PT left plantar.

Time:  47 minutes
Distance: 5.14 miles
Effort: Easy
Body: Fair
Weather: Warm and mostly sunny

Spent an hour Tuesday with Mark Plaatjes at InMotion Rehabilitation in Boulder working on getting me back in the groove.  The man can be merciless.  But, then again, that's what I signed up for.  Much work on the left foot to break up the scar tissue around the plantar.  Had a few many moments of fist-clenching pain where I couldn't help but let out a groan or two.  He also did a bunch of work on my left calf to try and get things loosened up, and on my right hip flexor, which may be the source of the groin(ish) pain/tightness I've been having.  I have a theory that all the aches/pains I've suddenly had over the last month stem from the resurgence of plantar problems and the resulting change in gait.

Took one more day off after the session to let things settle in.  

Finally got out today for an easy five on the Meadow View loop.  Foot definitely felt better. I really had to focus on not focusing on running form. Just tried to free the mind and run. Caught myself many times thinking about the foot/calf.  Reminds me of how difficult it must be to meditate and think of nothing.

Will know in an hour or two how the foot is holding up.  Once again...fingers crossed

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Flat-n-Long Run

With yesterday indicating most systems were go, I decided to give the Achilles a longer break and get out for something long and flat.

Time: 2:35
Distance: 20 miles
Effort: Easy
Body: Fair
Weather: Chilly and sunny

Starting from the Goodson Rec Center at 7 a.m., ran the mostly-flat, crushed-gravel surfaced Highline Canal with Patrick G., Steve G., Lori, Kelly and one other woman whose name I forgot.  We all ran together for the first few miles, then broke up into distance/pace groups with Patrick, Steve and I cruising on ahead.

Patrick turned back at about 8.5 miles since he had a 30 mile run planned for way-dark o'clock tonight. Steve and I toiled on to the 10-mile mark and turned around. I soon was dashing into the shrubs for a bio break and Steve, who's training for the Las Vegas Marathon, motored on. Once back on the path, I ran a few miles at around 6:20, but just didn't have it in me to run him down.

Finished about three minutes behind.

Achilles felt fine. Feeling the fatigue now, though.

Perfect running weather.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Easing Back Into It

Way easy jog from the office on a collection of Boulder streets, sidewalks and bike paths. So far, so good...

Time: 40 minutes
Distance: 5.3 miles
Effort: Easy
Body: Good
Weather: Chilly and sunny

Four days off. Time to see how the healing is progressing. 

Jogged easy on mostly flat, paved terrain to see if the right Achilles had any complaints. Still too early to tell, but everything on the run felt OK. 

If all signals remain "go," I may join a few folks for an easy, early jaunt on the Highline Canal in Denver tomorrow morning.

Fingers crossed...