Sunday, March 10, 2013

The toughest week of the Boston over.

I'm always telling people that marathon training is like walking a tightrope over a pit of salivating injuries. If, of course, injuries could salivate.  The injuries that have taken up residence  in my pit are not only salivating, they look straight-up rabid and they are jumping up and nipping at my heels, or more accurately, my hamstring and my foot.

I just survived what will be the toughest stretch of my Boston cycle.  From Sunday to Sunday, I ran 113 miles (95 for the Monday-Sunday week), one race, two stress workouts and one long run of 23 miles.  I didn't keep track of the number of ice sessions, Epsom salt baths and foam roller rolls I crammed into that time.  Nor did I keep track of the calories I consumed, but I can say that we might have to start selling our stuff to pay our grocery bills.

It all started last Sunday at the Coogans Salsa, Blues and Shamrocks 5K in Washington Heights.  This is one of my favorite races of the year, but it couldn't come at a more inopportune time.  There really is no room for such a short, fast effort this late in the marathon cycle, but since it's a points race, I feel obligated to put it all on the line.  That means, I back off the throttle for the week leading up to the race and hope I remember how to go fast after weeks of aerobic threshold and marathon paced runs. Not knowing what to expect, I stepped to the line on what was a bitter cold and windy morning.  Still a bit groggy from working late the night before, I found all my teammates when the gun went off and formed a pack of yellow Urban Athletic singlets.  It was immediately apparent that the cold air would make breathing more labored than usual when running just a tick above five minute pace.  In a repeat of last year's race, it was Josh Lerch and me side-by-side as we moved into Fort Tryon.  It would stay that way until the end of the race, me leading the uphills (of which there are many), Josh leading the downhills (an equal amount).  We ended up finishing a second apart just  under 16 minutes.  Josh in 15:58, me in 15:59, second and third scorers on the team respectively.  Urban Athletics took third behind the Ethiopian team of West Side Runners and the New York Athletic Club.
Josh and I coming down the stretch on the Coogans course. Yep, I heel strike when I get tired.

Despite running seven seconds slower than last year, I was pleased with the effort given the conditions and my complete lack of speed training.  Last year at this same point in my marathon cycle, I had several short interval workouts under my belt.

Following a massive brunch at a teammate's nearby apartment, Chris Carrier who had run 15:51, joined me for a backpack clad run back to Columbus Circle. Even with the extra load on our backs and in our stomachs, we were clicking off seven minute miles by the end.
I did my 1000s in the new Adidas Takumi Sen which are surprisingly responsive and lightning fast

A much needed recovery day consisting of 12 easy miles Monday set up another hard effort Tuesday.  The plan called for 6x1000 at roughly 5K pace.  Since Tuesday is a day off from work for me, I delayed this workout until 4:30pm when I met my friend Gerson in the park.  He showed me a 1K loop around some baseball fields that would be a much better place to churn these out than the track.  My legs were a little heavy, but the solo workout was a success, hitting each interval between 3:03 and 3:05.

I did a longer (15 miles) recovery run on the Alter G Wednesday, eight easy miles with Heidi at 4:30am on Thursday and planned to do my next workout Friday.  I still thought there was a possibility I could complete the workout when I walked outside into the driving, stinging sleet and snow, but less than a quarter of a mile down the West Side Highway and it was pretty obvious that the conditions were not conducive to 3x2 miles.  And here is where I made a rookie mistake.  Instead of taking the run inside to the treadmill, I pressed on running a total of 11 miles in flats on uneven snow.  Not surprisingly, I've been dealing with a nagging hamstring pain ever since.
Urban Athletics awarded 3rd place at the NYRR Club Night Awards , which meant  I had to get up really early to get a run in that day.

Saturday morning, I did 3X2 miles on the West Side Highway which in a period of 24 hours had gone from snow-covered to bone dry.  A nasty wind coming from the south made the first two-mile interval brutal.  After clocking a 5:30 first mile, I lost my focus and struggled to a 5:45 second mile which felt more like five flat.  I thought about bagging it, but my luck changed on the second set of miles.  5:15 and 5:17 gave me a 10:32.  Then 5:19 and 5:21 gave me a 10:40.  My hamstring was pretty tender on the cool down  but I was happy with a workout that was 2/3 successful.  But, by the end of the day I had forgotten about the workout and was only concerned about the pain which got increasingly worse while I was at work.  I spent the entire shift sitting on a frozen water bottle or a lacrosse ball in hopes of massaging out whatever mess I made.  I couldn't afford to miss the next day's 23 miler.

When I got home, I rolled the hell out of my leg, then slathered icy hot on the sore muscle before crawling into bed.  Five hours later (damn you, Daylight Saving), I woke up still sore, but ready to give the long run a whirl.  The first couple of miles to the park were not pleasant, nor was the first 6.2 mile lap.  At one point, I told the guys who had joined me that this run was over once I got back to Columbus Circle. However, by the time that came, the pain had subsided substantially.  "Ok, I'll do one more lap," I thought.  The next time around, I had committed to the full 23, thus completing my 95 mile week.

I'm forcing myself to take a previously unscheduled day off tomorrow and maybe seek some physical therapy relief for the hamstring. The New York City Half Marathon is next weekend, but with Boston just five weeks away, it's time to get conservative.

1 comment:

  1. your workouts simultaneously exhaust and inspire me. Thank you for sharing them. Hope that hamstring straightens up and cooperates!