Image

I Think I’m Allergic to Sinus Pressure and High Dew Points.

In a recent post, I was giving some summary about how well things were going, how great the long runs were doing, and how early morning runs were going pretty well.  All that was true, until – da da daaaa…

Sinus pressure – we meet again!

If there is one thing that I can count on during the year to create illness for me, it’s allergy/sinus trouble.  Usually I have one really bad week or so in April where I can’t breathe, can barely speak, sometimes get a fever, and have to wear glasses for a few days.  Typically, I’m good except for a periodic here or there.  This year, the bad week waited until June, which happened right before marathon training started.  This past week, it had decided for a little round two.  Now I’m sure most of you are aware of the pressure, congestion, breathing trouble and sore throat that comes with that type of trouble.  That in itself is enough to put me on the couch with a Captain America movie marathon for motivation, sipping Gatorade and ice cream.  But hey, I got an idea – try to keep training for a marathon.  It’s kind of what I think running in a sauna, breathing through a coffee stirrer size straw, and getting slapped in the face while your ears feel like you are constantly taking off and landing in a plane would feel like.  I had changed to do 16 miles this past weekend with a drop back to 10 the next weekend but at midnight Friday, I had to back out.  In addition to feeling sick, I then had to figure out when I could run the long runs I needed to run.  Good news was that I felt some improvement by early Sunday morning and was able to last through 10 miles in some high humidity and dew point.  All combined, that was probably the hardest run I’ve done so far this training.  This means that I have to try to get a really long run in while in Baltimore, so stick around for the next blog post.

Weather Rant

sweat mike

I believe that I have a few consistent viewpoints that carry me through life.  Some more important and practical than others.  For instance, I accept as true that if you’re 10 mins early, you’re on time – if you’re “on time”, you’re late. I believe that nothing good happens out after midnight, that AstroTurf should be outlawed, that dogs are better than cats, that you should actually have to pitch the 4 balls for the intentional walk, that my job should be to visit every NC State Park and every National Park, that your car speakers should be ripped out if I can hear your music inside my house, and that 5 am runs should not feel like running in a hot tub with the heat turned up to 100.

The last few weeks have been tough weather wise. Although it’s not 90 some degrees, the dew point and humidity is constant high around here.  It doesn’t seem to not matter if its 5 am, 5 pm or something in between.  The dew point being high (specifically at 70 +) makes it very difficult for your body to evaporate sweat.  Sweating with evaporation helps create a cooling sensation.  When the air is saturated, it says “I don’t need your sweat, keep it!”  When it sits on your skin, your shirt, your hat, in your eyes, and more, your body cannot regulate the heat gain.  That’s why the perceived level of effort is much higher in these weather conditions.  It makes it very hard to stay consistent, can create other issues (hello chafing), and really just sucks the life out of you.  You can probably tell that I CAN’T wait for the change in nighttime temps that happens around here in the next few weeks (hopefully).

Ok, so there (hopefully) is my poor me, this is hard, I am struggling period of the training.  To be honest, if I can just get back to 100% from the sinus stuff (maybe 75% at this time), we can work through the rest.  Up next – Baltimore Running Photo Essay

Image

What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You.

Everyone who’s done it has a story of the first time with a marathon.  Some reach their goal of time, some reach their goal of finishing, some unfortunately don’t.  Some come fully prepared, some come less prepared.  This is a story of the latter (despite efforts).

Why Running When Nothing Is Chasing You?

Growing up, I spent most of my life on a baseball field.  Running is a part of it, but not for hours on end.  When I stopped playing due to some back injuries, I needed to find something to do.  Photography was fun, but didn’t give me the competition aspect (now I take picture while I run – win/win).  So I ran.  I had a 3 mile-ish loop that I could do from Greensboro College to UNCG with a nice A/C break with water at halfway at the UNCG basketball gym.  I never timed myself, no records.  Did it for the love of the game as they say.  Sometimes I’d run 3 days a week, sometimes none.  I pretty much kept this aimless wandering of exercise up until starting DPT school at Elon in 2011.  Put 40 healthy individuals in a building all day – they’re gonna exercise at lunch time!  A few of us struck up a good friendship, and we started running.  I blame Evan/John for the addiction that ensued.  Garmin satellite watch – purchased.  Tar Heel 10 miler race entry – check.  Eventually cycling and triathlons ensued, but this is not that story.

And So It Began

TarHeel10start

The beginning, Tar Heel 10, April 2011.

The Tar Heel 10 miler is a great event, Chapel Hill in spring, lots of hype and excitement to spare.  I ran well and enjoyed it (despite Laurel Hill – locals know). Within 2 weeks, I had signed up (and paid – a key part later) for a half marathon in Sept and a full marathon in November, the day before my birthday.  Not knowing much better, I got a generic training plan online – one that progressed distance but did not provide me with any pace or effort guidelines.  I did well through the half marathon in September with no real trouble, good pace, and felt hopeful for the marathon.  A few weeks later, I noticed that in the middle to ends of long runs that I was having some pain on the outside of my left knee/thigh.  Like most people, I though resting would take care of it so I took a few days off.  I then did a medium run (6-7 miles) and the pain came back but sooner.  At the time I had just gotten started into PT school so I knew enough to pick out what it might be but didn’t know enough to treat myself.  I talked to a few staff members at school who were PTs but without being an actual patient, we tried to treat with mostly home stretching and exercise.  While this can be effect as a part of any treatment strategy, it is not a replacement for the important hands on in clinic work that I now do on a daily basis.  I would most likely would have benefited from trigger point dry needling to help reduce myofascial trigger points that were most likely the cause of my pain, deep tissue laser for healing, and hip strengthening exercises to improve biomechanics (how I ran) to prevent the problem from returning.  Unfortunately, I have 6 more years of knowledge and clinic skills now than I did at the time, so that is not what happened.  This did:

I did some light stretching, rested for a week or two, and took some pain medication.  I tried to return to running and guess what: pain was still there, just a mile or two further into the run.  Thus began my “uh oh” moment (that lasted about 1.5 months).  I had worked hard to get where I was.  I am not one that will quit something if there is any chance I can get it done.  I also had paid for this thing.  I was NOT about to skip something I had paid for unless I literally could not walk (that comes 3 years later).  I still couldn’t run though.  I decided to completely shut down from running for 3 weeks.  I biked, swam, and walked almost every day for cardio but didn’t run.  Finally, one week before the marathon, I went for a few short 3-4 miles with very mild pain complaints but still knowing that it probably would come back the longer I went.  I talked to the wife, and then ignored her and my own common sense – I was going to run the event, despite pain and not running longer than 16-17 miles.

I Chose To Do This, and Actually Paid Money For It!

cimg3372-1-e1501245068888.jpg

NC Marathon Before Pic, Nov 2011

Date: 11.19.2011.  Location: Showplace, Downtown High Point, NC.  I knew going in the pain would return at some point.  I decided I would run as fast and long as I could, then adjust when the pain started.  I went about 14-15 miles before the pain started and boy did it start.  The idea of walking/running off and on was gone.  I was just walking for the rest of it, with pain for every step.  At somewhere around 20-22 miles, I went to a porta john just to sit and have a brief watery eye moment (those allergies you know).  A few moments later I decided that I would keep going.  A mere 5 hours after starting, I made the last turn in downtown High Point, summoned all I had left, and “jogged” across the finish line.  I had never really felt what a wave of emotion felt like until that moment.  Ask my wife today and she will tell you that this is one of the few times she would say I cried.  Maybe not so much cried as a manly, snot-filled breakdown (common colds, you know) – but just for a minute mind you.

ncmarathonfinish

It’s OVER! Looking at this picture again, it looks like I was the only one doing the race.

To this day, this was one of my finest, hardest, “I’m in a glass case of emotion” 5 hours in my life.  I view it like a scar.  It caused me pain and suffering in the moment, but now it serves as a lesson learned, an achievement met, and a lifelong passion fed.  As Mater pointed out in Cars 2, learn to value your dents. Every one of them bears the beauty of grace and redemption.  That experience helped shape me as a runner, as well as person – I would hope to say for the better.  As most, for the next week or two I spoke repeatedly about never ever doing something like that again (it lasted for about a year – I signed up for the 2nd marathon for Nov 2013).

Coming Soon:  Training Month 1 Reflection

 

Image

Running with Friends: Free on the App Store – and on Wed and Sat.

So it may or may not come as a shock to you, dear reader, that I am kind of an introverted person.  I am to introverted as a Reese’s Egg is to awesomeness.  So it might be a little weird that I have a blog where I share the inner workings of my mind – what can I say, I’m expanding my barriers.  As a relatively quiet, let’s say, reflective individual, I tend to do a lot of things solo or with just a few people.  Go hiking by myself for a few hours – done it several times.  Go to a race at Martinsville alone – check.  Ride a bike or run for hours without seeing another human, just farm animals – sometimes I choose it.  My best friends: my wife, my son, my golden retriever. It would probably be no surprise by now if I told you that the majority (96.788% to be exact – give or take a tenth) of my running and exercise is done solo mio.  I’ve often pictured myself as the latter-day Forrest Gump, a folk hero running across America with nothing but the clothes on my back, a glorious mane of hair flowing in the breeze, a masterful beard draped across my chin – imparting wisdom to those that pass by (“stuff” does happen).  Perhaps a little less dirt and some improved fragrance status but none the less – rugged and free.  There are only a few problems I’ve encountered so far: 1) I cannot grow a beard, just can’t.  My wife finally gave me permission to do so and I think she did because she knows I can’t. 2)Unlike Mr. Gump, whose high commercial acumen (he got invested in that fruit company) created a vast quantity of free time, I have to work.  3) Running alone for long distances can get really boring once you run out of things to talk to yourself about.

Enter RunnerDude’s Fitness

Date: Feb/March 2017.  Location: Living Room of House. Activity: Facebook surfing. Enter title RunTheBoro on a friend’s page.  A few clicks later and I see the idea “A field trip for runners.”  So I took a test: Am I a runner? Check.  Do you like field trips? Check.  Is it free? Check.  After a few emails with Thad, I was signed up to be a pacer (someone who runs a specific speed as a guide) for the 8 week series of runs that took place in various neighborhoods in Greensboro.  I knew that there would be a decent group of people coming out but it was consistently 100+!  Week 1 started and I was running in a group but just being my quiet self.  As the run goes on, you typically get in a small little pod of similar speed runners.  I ended up running most of the run with someone that we will call “The Russian.”  The Russian and I spent about an hour or so running, talking about our running experiences, work, kids (I get to do that now, not just dogs), and chicken and waffles.  By the time we finished the run, it felt like we had only been running for a short period of time (we had run 8 miles).  At that point, something that most everyone already knew hit me.  Time passes faster when you have fun conversation.  I was hooked, group runs for everyone, every day from here to the end of time!  The next week, I went back.  I dragged Kenny, the Sportscaster out.  The same thing happened – the long run felt shorter than my short runs at home alone.  A few weeks later, Kenny and I had decided to do a marathon and use the group training aspect at RunnerDude’s Fitness to get us there sane.  We were also able to add another one to our 4 hour pace flock – Lisa the Lawyer.  Now, each week I look forward to getting up really early on a Saturday morning to go run several hours with a group of friends that help pass the time, motivate when the run gets hard, answer physical therapy related questions, complain with about the hills and the heat (more frequently recently), and to celebrate our progress.

So if you are in the Greensboro area, and you like to run, check out RunnerDude’s Fitness and tell Thad that Mike sent you!

Next up:  “Running” My First Marathon

Week 3 Training so far: