So, here we are, six weeks out of the Cleveland Marathon Challenge Series. 31 miles in two days. And I just misssed 10 days of training smack dab in the middle of it all.
Let's go back to before these 10 days off. It was about three weeks ago, I was run commuting home from work, and couldn't believe how good I felt. I was close to my record on this route, which was set before a PR at Columbus a year and a half ago, and had a renewed confidence in my training and physical condition. I really felt I was closing in on that shape that I had for Columbus when I set my current PR, and this was for a spring marathon. I typically don't believe I'm in my best shape in the spring, rather I gain that over the summer months and in to the fall. The thoughts of what this year could hold were running through my head, and excitement was brewing. Then came the Thursday of that week. I decided to take an extra day off of running so that I could lay new flooring in our living room and hallways. I counted it as strength training. It was the most grueling home improvement project I have tackled, and the next day I felt like I got hit by a truck. I even joked with co-workers that I felt like I had the flu. The body aches were intense, but I thought I was ok. Then came some chills. Then a headache. Then I got home and decided to take my temperature. Sure enough. FLU!
I just had that run that really got me moving and excited, now this! Great! I spent the next 48 hours in bed, just hoping to recover. I can't lie, I just plain didn't have the energy to run for the next few days. I tried, I really did, but I just couldn't get moving. But over the next few days, it seemed like when I had energy, I had something to do around the house. There was more painting, more flooring to lay down in the bedroom. More everything. It has been a never ending cycle of shit to do, and it's driving me crazy. Last week I managed to do a little better getting out and running, but still not like I should.
So what does this mean for Cleveland and the rest of training? Who really knows?
I know I am not going to be setting any records, and likely no PRs, but maybe, just maybe, I can turn the tide towards the fall. So I'm kind of viewing Cleveland as a training run for the fall. Get me moving towards the summer, get some fire and habits going.
I have decided on two things. First, I want to make sure I get as much mileage in as I can, without overdoing it on long runs. I can't go from 12 miles to 20 in the span of two weeks, and expect to not get hurt, or maximize the potential. So this time around I'll probably top out at 16-18 miles. Usually I focus on more speed and recovery miles during the week, keeping my mileage a little lower than some, but I'm going to try and get the mileage up throughout the week. Following closer to the Hanson's method.
Secondly, I am turning my focus to simply finishing the Full Challenge Series in May. I had thoughts of dropping down to the half, but emotionally, I can't do that. My original goal was to defend my age group crown in the 8k, then guarantee entry to Chicago 2018 with a sub 3:15 (which would also be a 2:18+ PR). I'm still hoping for that, but I won't be devastated if it doesn't happen. I am going to focus on racing the 8k well, but not worry too much about the time for the full the next day. Just enjoy the experience of my favorite race (you should definitely join me).
That's pretty much it for now... I'll be back soon, got some other things to write about soon.
Have you ever gone through cycles like this? How did you handle it, and what your race results like?
What a crazy couple of weeks it has been, but I've managed to stay the course, for the most part. Training is four weeks in, and starting to ramp up, but circumstances have kept me from feeling the groove. It seems like spring races are always the hardest to train for. For some it's the weather, for me it seems something shitty just always come up to take me off the streets. As a "lower-income" family, we get a nice little tax return every year, and like many families who do get it, we bank on it. We even budget for it. Turns out you don't always get it in a timely fashion, especially this year. I've read hundreds (literally) of stories of people who have been effected by crazy delays in receiving this money, and it's thrown a lot of families for a financial loop, mine included. It has made running seem meaningless and pointless, and just been hard to focus on it. I know it can be some kind of therapy for me, but I just get so desperate and angry that nothing seems to take me out of a quiet daze. It has thrown my family into financial crisis, but we will get through it and we will endure.
That isn't even the beginning of what the past weeks have been. At the beginning of February, I was helping family through some even deeper shit. One minute I was at work, the next minute I was on the road, doing what I could to help in one has been one of the most bizarre times for our family. I don't think it is appropriate to go into too much detail, but just believe me, it sucks.
Then there's my wife. This part angers me more than anything. My wife is the sweetest person you could meet. She is consistently thinking of other people, and finds out ways to help anybody we know. Example, the other day, a friend of ours posted on Facebook that they needed help with a formal dress for a gathering coming up. My wife immediately finds a picture of a dress she has that is similar, and tries to help this friend out. We haven't even seen this friend in over a year, but here she is, helping in any way she can.
So what angers me about this? The last month has been incredibly unkind to my wife physically. A few weeks ago, she began to notice a rash on her body. We didn't know what to make of it, so we let it go for a few days. Maybe it was a new soap or lotion? Turns out it's nothing of the sort. She was diagnosed with Guttate Psoriasis. It isn't Plaque Psoriasis, which is good, but it can develop in to it. We hope the best, as she continues to battle this, and that it goes away before my sister's wedding in June.
About a week and a half after finding out about this condition, Brittany comes into our room, wakes me up, and tells me she passed some kind of "tissue" from her... wherever... What was this? We haven't been "trying" to have another kid, but she was late and we thought it was possible. So for about 12 hours, we thought she had miscarried a child we didn't know we were having. My poor wife then had to go to the ER to make sure everything was good, and wait for hours behind all of the flu patients.
Turns out it wasn't a miscarriage, just complications from a shot she received for this Psoriasis. But it's been frustrating to say the least. So if you haven't heard much on the running from me, this is why. I've been running, but if I haven't made sure to sync to Strava, or take my GoPro, it's because right now I just don't give a fuck. I want to get back to where we were before, when didn't let our money control us, and we were healthy. Then I can go bonkers sharing all about my running escapades again.
Now that my sadness is out of the way, let's talk about running. I realized this week that I am in far better shape than I thought. The weather has kept me inside for a few runs, but yesterday I put in eight miles at a solid 7:23. I didn't feel like I was running that. It was relatively easy, especially for where I thought I was physically. I have a long ways to go, but I will get where I want to be.
As for my wife, she will likely be volunteering again to hang you out medals as you finish your race this year. Psoriasis be damned, she'll be hanging out with us at the finish.
I hope your running finds your well, and your life doesn't suck. If your life does suck, it's OK. We can all get through it together.
There is a Reason We Train
This winter has been far from ideal for me, in many respects. I typically take most of December away from running to spend time with my family. But as soon it came time to get back to it, GI problems... As soon as I get over those? Opposite GI problems. Then I got back to it for a week or two, then a family crisis hits and I'm stuck away from home for a week. But now I'm back, and back at it, but there's nerves. Why? Legitimate question... I have no base whatsoever. Sure, I'm still slender and in decent shape, but not where I want to be headed into a full marathon training cycle.
But then I remembered something. There is a reason you train. My second or third workout this week, I was thinking how difficult four miles at a decent pace felt, then that thought hit me. Training is virtually pointless if it's sole purpose is to maintain. The purpose of my training is to always be better than the previous cycle I went through, be it through dedication or results... Both is preferable. So here I sit, telling you through the tough winter months of training, it's OK if it sucks. There is a reason you train.
So that's what I'm telling myself right now. There's a week left in February, and my goal is just to get back to good habits by then. Keep my runs easy, don't burn out, and don't injure myself. I'm having to walk, nay run, a fine line between avoiding the pit falls of training, and maximizing it. It's not easy, at all, but I just keep remembering there is a reason you train.
After these few weeks of easy, I will get going full bore again, and that should always be the goal. Go until you can't, then get going again. But in the back of your head, when things are at their toughest, just keep telling yourself - there is a reason you train.
It's often hard to imagine at the beginning, running 20 more miles after a six mile run, but the key is trusting the process. We all crave immediate results. Some of this is in the internet driven word we live in, some of it is just human nature. But nothing worthwhile comes easy, so keep telling yourself, there is a reason you train.
Moving in marathon training is moving forward, whether it feels like it or not. Sometimes a run feels awful, but we bounce back and get going again. Focusing on the future and the purpose of training is so important. This is something I've forgotten in the past.
I'm very blessed with an ability to run well. My first marathon was faster than most people can run, and my PR is well above that. So sometimes I take it for granted, my ability. That's what I'm appreciating already about this cycle. I'm learning that even though I've got the skill, I've got to push forward and take advantage of my training, not wish it away. I have a long road to get where I want to be physically, but it won't happen for I don't keep remembering, there is a reason you train.
I think I will look back on this cycle and race in years to come as a turning point. Trying to remember to enjoy it, not getting so wrapped up in goals that I lose focus on the enjoyment. But mainly reflecting on the need for not just training, but training hard. It's a "back to basics" concept that is consuming me now. Back to what started this insane journey three years ago. You know, back when I said... There is a reason you train.
Here we are again... This time he's also the President. I took as much time as I could stand to sit down with our "Marathoner-in-Chief"Before Sean Spicer gets all pissed off me, here's a **disclaimer: THIS IS FICTION! I MADE IT UP**
AndrewRunsaLot: Hey Donald, thanks for taking time to sit...
Donald Trump: It's Mr. President. Very disrespectful.
AndrewRunsaLot: Sorry, sir.
Mr President: More people voted for me than any president ever. So some respect is due. Sad!
ARL: Let's shift to running, here. How did your year of running go in 2016?
MrP: Tremendous. I ran the best races. It was phenomenal. Let me tell you, I finished so many races, and so fast. Believe me.
ARL: Sounds impressive. Were there any goals that you hit? Anything monumental you'll look back on in the coming years?
MrP: I qualified for Boston. It was amazing. Melania told me how good I did, and I was like, "I can't believe it!" Then I realized that I win all the time, so I wasn't very surprised.
ARL: What race did you run to qualify?
MrP: Rock and Roll Las Vegas. I didn't even plan on it. I was just in Las Vegas staying at my beautiful hotel there, and noticed so many people, so many people. At first I thought they were celebrating me winning the election, but they weren't. I mean, I'm sure they were all happy I did. And when I got to the expo, they were all excited. Everybody was so excited. I was the most excited that they were excited to see me.
ARL: I'm sure they were. I'm going to pull up the results, I'd love to go over your splits with you.
MrP: The results they post are so phony. I didn't even look at them.
ARL: It says you didn't even finish.
ARL: Don.. Mr President (said while dry heaving), it has a DNF next to your..
MrP: Wrong! Wrong! This is just a lie. No wonder you have so few subscribers. It's sad! I finished the race at 4:17!
ARL: I guess I'll take your word for it. Did you contest your results? You'd have to do that if you plan to run Boston.
MrP: They will accept it, believe me. I finished at 4:17.
ARL: As I look at your results, it shows your first half split at 3:32. You mean to tell me you ran a world record in the second half?
MrP: Look. It was a beautiful race. I ran so good. I never got tired, NEVER. You think you could run faster than that? It's crazy!
ARL: Well, yeah, I can. By a lot.
MrP: No! Have you qualified for Boston yet?
ARL: No, but I also have to run and hour and twenty minutes faster, so.... Can you just tell me more about your race?
MrP: It was an evening race, beautiful evening. It's in Vegas, which is easy my second or third or fourth or fifth or sixth or so favorite city. My hotel is the highest hotel, best hotel, and to be running by it at night. It's beautiful. It really gave me a sense of pride.
ARL: What about YOUR race though? How did you run a 45 minutes second half?
MrP: Let me tell you, I ran so hard. At one water stop, I even ran a lady over I was running so hard.
ARL: My god! Did you help her up?
MrP: No. I had Barack do it. Great friend of mine. Worst runner ever, but best friend, best friend!
ARL: So, how did it feel when you realized you qualified?
MrP: The finish line was really confusing. Nobody was there to hand me my medal, and the clock was off. But when I walked in to my hotel room and saw the clock said 4:17, I was just relieved. So relieved.
ARL: Wait, what clock?
MrP: The alarm clock in my room. Beautiful room.
ARL: Oh shit. When you said you finished at 4:17.... Dear lord Donald.
MrP: Alternate times. You see (Andrew gets up and leaves in disgust).... wait come back! I took a picture and tweeted it. It HAS to be official! Do you want Melania to make you a sandwich?!!
Melania to ARL: Take me with you!
Alright, it's been a while, I know. Let's face it, sometimes it's tough to get through the winter without taking a hiatus from running. I know it was that way for me this time around. Between the holidays, mandated time off, and GI issues of all varieties for a couple weeks, I just couldn't slip into a groove. But I'm back, and ready to do this.
I've struggled somewhat to get back to running thanks to the awful experience of Columbus last year. But thanks to a new PR in the half a few weeks later, I'm confident in my ability to get back to a peak form, and put together some good races this year. But my biggest focus will be to bring the fun back to running. I'm not going to chase Boston this year, I'm just going to get back to going after a PR. Just getting better with each run without the pressure that takes away the fun. So what better way to start the fun than to train for my favorite race, the Cleveland Marathon?
I am honored to say that they welcomed me back for the third straight year as an ambassador, and I hope I do my friends at the race proud again. Two years ago I battled 12 blisters for 10 miles, and last year we had the #mostclevelandraceever with all four seasons in one race. I don't know why I keep coming back! It's something about the people there, and the city. It's something about the runners and what we fight through with unpredictable weather, which I think is going to be perfect this year. I just can't get enough of this race. It was my first full, and I just keep coming back for more. This year I'll be joining in Challenge Series, trying to defend my crown in the 30-35 AG for the 8k, but doing the full instead of the half. The challenge series was amazing last year, and I expect the same this year.
This year also marks the 40th Anniversary of the Cleveland Marathon, with a new course (not official yet), it's going to be the best yet, and set the bar high for the future. I hope that you consider joining me. If money is an issue, head over to Instagram (@andrewrunsalot) and check out the giveaway I'm running on this, and you just might be able to come hang out for FREE!
I look forward to the challenges that will come as training starts in the coming weeks, and I know this will a special time with my friends in Cleveland, the city of Champions!
I am a 31 year old husband, father, and marathon runner. Faster than the average joe, but trying to get better and better each day. Join me on journey to accomplish more than I ever thought possible.
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