Checking In 9/18/2021 from Big Bear Lake

May be an image of nature and tree
Boulder Bay Park in Big Bear Lake

Hello from Big Bear Lake.

This morning I headed out and after over nearly four hours of start-stop running, broken up with a mile 2 pit stop for pastries and espresso, a break in Boulder Bay at 7.5 miles, and a partially bonk-induced steak and egg brunch at Country Kitchen at 10 miles, I staggered back into base at 13.3 miles.

No left anything hurt the entire time! I did have a fatigue-like pain in the right hamstring in the tail end of the run, but I took it slow and stopped for a lot of breaks… so it never got dangerous or hung around long. As I write this, I feel generally sore/tired by mostly good overall. Nothing is bothering me. My left hamstring and groin were never at any point an issue the entire time.

I stayed under shade for most of the workout, and that’s one advantage Big Bear has over Flagstaff: The trees here are taller and take up more of the real estate, so the roads are generally more shaded across the board. Flagstaff is prone to longer stretches of open sun. It also was rather cool in the morning, actually near 40’F, only getting up towards the 70’s once I finished up.

I’ll see how I feel about some extra running tomorrow before I head out of Big Bear, and/or some more cross training after I get back into Vegas. I also have errands I need to run at some point once I’m back in Vegas, so time may be limited. But Monday is a scheduled rest day, and I’ll see how I feel Tuesday in deciding what to do that day and the rest of the week. I know I’ll be running some and cross training some, but what combination and volume remains to be seen. I have a lot penciled in, knowing some of it may likely come off.

This is a good time of year to come into Big Bear, because the summer season ends with the Labor Day holiday, yet it hasn’t gotten cold enough yet for icy temperatures or snow to make coming here unworkable. I may be able to squeeze in another trip here before Indy, but we’ll see. It’s not yet cooled off enough in Vegas that these weekend trips for long runs aren’t necessary anymore.

I don’t plan to run long next weekend, but might do a moderately long workout Sunday. These long workouts will be spaced out a bit, to give the adaptions a chance to show up workout over workout without overdoing it and risking further trouble.

That’s it for the moment. Going to relax before a busy Sunday.

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Checking In 9/17/2021

I took yesterday off from training, and I clearly also took yesterday off from writing. I’m traveling this weekend and plan to run long before I return to Vegas.

If I don’t run on any breaks today, then tomorrow it’ll have been four days since the last time I ran. Given how little I’ve run over the last two months that’s not the end of the world. And I don’t want to needlessly get tired or sore the day before trying to run long.

The main goal is to run long this weekend and as long as I’m up to that task then I’ll be in good position for next week and beyond. My long elliptical workouts have helped keep me in the aerobic and physical shape needed to run easy for a long period.

And it’s not like I need permission to stop and rest over and over throughout the long run. I plan to slow down and relax a lot on this weekend’s running. The important thing is to cover however much distance I can and give myself that neuromuscular stimulus to recover from.

If somehow I end up in good fitness to run Indy in November (rather than barely passable fitness just to finish) I’ll have semi-accidentally stumbled upon a solid marathon training approach: Focusing on cross training for easy aerobic work, focusing more in the early going on cross training and strength training, and then transitioning more into heavier running on the back end of the training cycle. I won’t say that I’m sure it will work, but I obviously suspect that this approach could end up working out once it’s done, even if it was a circumstantial product of necessity.

Obviously I don’t want to go too hard and try to make up for lost time. That’s not possible and you’ll only burn yourself out and get hurt doing that. But that doesn’t mean I can’t train seriously for 5-6 weeks and make substantial progress to get in marathon shape. All is clearly not lost yet.

So, busy day today ahead of travel, and I’ll probably turn in a bit later than I’d like. But now that it’s cooling off it’ll be rather cool at altitude anyway (even cold if I’m early enough), so starting a long run late in the morning isn’t going to be a problem. My biggest concern will be suitable shade from the sun.

More to come once I’m on location….

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Why It’s A Good Idea For Ian Butler To Get Up At 4am To Marathon Train Instead of Running After Work

The Let’s Run Message Board is not a particularly healthy place for content, I’ll admit. But I’m on there last night reading, and someone started a thread about elite marathoner Ian Butler, who has a full time job as a school teacher but can run a 2:09 marathon, is training for the upcoming Chicago Marathon, and posted video of himself getting up at 4am to train in the dark.

Someone responded that they found little sense in Butler waking up so early to train when he could just train after work in the evening instead.

“I will never understand why some runners insist on running before the crack of dawn instead of in the afternoon or evening. School probably gets out around 3. There is plenty of time to do the workout later. It’s not Florida or Arizona so it won’t be that hot. Is getting to bed at 7 and waking up at 4 really a better option?”

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Checking In 9/15/2021

My energy levels are like a phugoid cycle this week. Yesterday despite good sleep I was exhausted. I took it easy on work breaks and didn’t train yesterday (though I couldn’t anyway due to stuff I needed to get done after work).

I slept well again, and today now I once again feel pretty good, just like Monday. This could be subliminal communication from my body telling me to go hard/easy on my weekly training right now. Or maybe it was the end result of back to back tough training days, during another hot weekend, while also having a lot of other business to attend to.

In any case, I’m going train today like I did on that hard Monday. Tomorrow is a scheduled day off from training, plus Friday is a travel day with no training before Saturday’s long workout. The rest of this week should be a little easier outside of training, so it’s not as big a deal if I wake up exhausted tomorrow morning.

Today I woke up with no pain at all, compared to the last few days where I was pain-free at work but did wake up with a bit of pain. I finally feel normal again after (and yes I keep specific track of this) 51 days of dealing with the hamstring issue. Never at any point was it as bad as when I strained it in 2019. For the most part, I could run, but it was a lingering pain that at times increased as I ran, and at times would go away if I ran a certain way.

If anything, it forced me to re-balance my running technique, to utilize my other lower body muscles in a balanced fashion, and it compelled me to stretch more (dynamically and statically) before and after workouts, sometimes even during. I definitely notice and feel my gluteus medius more engaged in runs than before. While not dominant, my quads are more engaged and I don’t feel my energy bottling up and landing in my hip joint during steps as it did before (which is probably a contributing factor to the hamstring problem). Forefoot running feels a lot more comfortable now.

It made me better emphasize recovery between workouts and on rest days, making sure to eat recovery-friendly foods, take key foods and vitamin supplements more consistently. I’m eating more fruit than before, cleaner protein more often, once again taking wild fish oil, making sure to get enough water every day (this was always a come-and-go habit), avoiding any processed sugar as much as possible. All of this helps reduce inflammation and I’m sure that’s helped with progress and recovery.

I also made sure to find training modes that didn’t hurt or aggravate my hamstring or groin, and made sure to hit them however hard I could, consistently circulating blood through the affected areas and driving recovery and growth however much I could, not to mention making to aerobically train and progress as much as I could and stay however fit I could.

Every issue and setback can be a blessing in disguise when it forces you to be more disciplined.

While I lost the chance to progress on my marathon training, and once again in a marathon training cycle ended up for circumstantial reasons with a big barren gap of light intensity and volume between blocks of high volume… what I ended up doing in the interim was probably best for me in the long run, regardless of how it benefitted training for Indy.

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Checking In 9/14/2021

As energetic as I felt Monday, I am rather tired today.

I slept fine. I actually slept fairly well. I probably shouldn’t have had tacos for dinner, but I felt like it so I did. If that alone is the cause of my energy tank I’m absolutely impressed at the anti-healing properties of beef tacos.

But it’s more likely the 3600 calories Garmin says I burned yesterday was the prime cause of the sagging energy levels today, if not also the 3300 calories I reportedly burned Sunday from my long workout.

Yesterday I was completely pain free at work! I could run normally. I went ahead and took runs on all my work breaks, and they went fine! I was thrilled. That sounds like a milestone and it felt like one, but admittedly I’m glossing over it here. I feel good today (did feel a bit sore first thing this morning but that’s once again gone), and am hoping to keep that going.

Of course, then last night I also went a full hour on the elliptical, and though I kept it short I also nightcapped a session on the rowing machine (it’s probably a good thing I did cut it short!).

Between all that, and work and commuting, I can see how I’m tired out. My dad and I also have to transport my trailer today off-site so he can have the main driveway paved, so that required a bunch of prep and cleanup.

Maybe I shouldn’t have trained the last couple days? No, if anything, knowing I won’t train today (I’m just walking out work breaks), knowing I’m taking Thursday off from training, and won’t be able to train Friday as I’ll be traveling after work that evening… it’s better off I run myself ragged now, knowing I’ve got the next few days easy.

I also am approaching the wall for Indy training, less than 8 weeks from the actual race. You can’t really prep anyone in the last couple weeks beforehand, so I basically have the next 5-6 weeks to train however much I can handle. I cross trained as best I could with the prox-ham issue over the last 7 weeks but I lost all that time.

I think at this point that if I can consistently knock out long workouts, on my feet or cross training, can starting hitting mid-length easy interval workouts plus some long runs… I think I’ll be okay for Indy. Any notions of a serious time goal are about out the window. Whatever time goal I end up with will be a function of how fit I can get myself before late October (which by the way is next month).

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Checking In 9/12/2021

Yesterday I decided not to write at all, ending a little 34 day streak of weblogging. I got a lot of rest this weekend, even though yesterday I did work 80 minutes on the elliptical and another 20 on the rowing machine. I had considered easy intervals in the morning, but opted for coffee instead, and a brief attempt later in the morning found it was already too hot (already 91’F) to bother.

It may finally cool off to a more human temperature in Vegas this next couple weeks, but for now we’re still on the tail end of another heat wave so running longer than a few minutes hasn’t been practically possible outdoors, and as mentioned before I think running on the treadmill’s an injury risk for me right now so I don’t want to run indoors either.

After a couple weeks of little to no running, and about a week straight of waking up with prox-ham pain, I finally woke up with no leg discomfort and while it emerged I felt much less of it once I got up. I don’t feel any right now. And bear in mind: I cross trained for almost 2 hours yesterday plus ran a tiny bit, so you’d think that might aggravate it instead.

I think if I feel okay I may try a work break run or two today. If I feel at all sore at my breaks, I won’t run and will just walk them as usual out of caution. But I need to start transitioning all this cross training aerobic fitness back into my running with actually running-specific… well, running. If I want to run Indy, I need to spend these weeks running however much I reasonably can.

I plan once again to go out of town this weekend, once again with the goal to run long. I imagine any long run will require several in-run breaks because I haven’t done any extended running in a while, but I’ve done the same thing in Big Bear just fine so I’m not concerned. If I run/walk/run/rest/etc my way to a solid 2-3 hours of running, I’ll be fairly satisfied with where I’m at.

Meanwhile, I do want to do a lot of quality training in this week, though no sense in running myself into the ground midweek and leaving myself tapped out of a long weekend workout. I want to stretch the elliptical workouts to 60 minutes, continue the brief rowing machine nightcaps as that seems to be going well, and do whatever running I can during this week. That doesn’t seem like such a stretch over last and previous weeks that I’d be burned out. I can take it easy Thursday and Friday, travel Friday, then be ready for Saturday and Sunday.

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Checking In 9/11/2021

Good morning! Rest day today.

I got a flu shot yesterday, and probably not a bad idea in general to get one if you can, because reportedly this flu season (Corona aside) is apparently going to be a bad one.

As I’ve mentioned before, I get flu shots before the winter most years, especially if I plan on doing a lot during the winter. I don’t want to have a training cycle or other big plans derailed by a winter flu. The shot doesn’t always work, sure: I got the flu anyway during Vancouver 2019 training, because a strain that year’s shot didn’t cover ended up going around. But most of the time, I get the shot in September/October and I avoid trouble during the winter.

Last night at the gym I knocked out my most productive elliptical workout in a while, hitting aerobic zone 2 for much of the 45 minutes. Obviously, knowing I planned to rest Saturday made it easier to go harder this time around. I hit back to back to back 40-45 minute workouts for the first time in three weeks, and am hoping to keep the train going through the next two months.

Even though the prox-ham pain’s still lingering, I’d like on Sunday to finally attempt those easy intervals during the morning, then go a bit long in the afternoon on the elliptical. I’m not feeling pain when running in brief instances, and I want to finally extend my running and see how it responds.

For today I’m going to eat a lot of cantaloupe and protein, and relax. Naps sound great.

I guess I’d be remiss on the 20th anniversary not to mention or reflect on 9/11. I don’t have much to say about the attack and disaster itself, but I do have some personal stuff I can share.

At the time I was 22 and working the overnight shift in the casino cage at Bally’s Casino in Las Vegas. I was actually on the clock in the moments the whole thing went down (about 5-6am PDT). At first, what we found out was second hand info from our boss that a plane crashed into WTC, maybe it was terrorists. It was just another random bit of national news you get while working the casino floor.

Then, I walked into her office to drop off daily reports during her lunch break. The TV in her office was on, and at that moment they broke that another plane hit the Pentagon, and it became clear it was a much bigger deal. I remember after work walking into Roma Cafe, they had a TV on in the cafe showing the coverage, and the whole room was just crestfallen.

A couple weeks later I got laid off along with a bunch of other casino employees due to the obvious business slowdown. I can tell you a lot of people thought the whole thing was the end of the world, and yes the government-controlled media coverage had a lot to do with that. Obviously, it ultimately ended up not being anywhere close to the end of the world and life has since gone on.

It certainly steered me away from whatever life path I was on at the time, and it would be a while (months/years) before I took my life off pause and sought to do anything beyond go to work (I did go back to college, and soon after moved to Seattle, where a lot happened in the 10 years following). Part of me then regretted letting the whole thing bring my life to a halt, but looking back I realize at the time I wasn’t doing a whole hell of a lot anyway. My life was in a limbo after leaving school in 1999 and a brief but futile move to Texas, and I definitely wasn’t enjoying life on the graveyard shift (which generally isn’t the healthiest lifestyle).

Putting aside the obvious tragedy and loss of life for a moment… had none of it happened, I don’t think my life would have headed anywhere better without an unexpected catalyst. Maybe I saved my money, but honestly beyond moving to a nicer Vegas apartment I’m not sure what I would have been compelled to do otherwise. This tragic national event basically ended up being the first of several catalysts for me. My life obviously didn’t get better in the short run (which is obviously still better than it ENDING, as it did for thousands that day), but it ended up going better in the long run thanks to the driven decisions that followed.

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