Here we are… 3 weeks from the marathon.

This morning I did the second of my 20 mile training runs. These are the longest runs I have during training, and after today’s I start tapering down for the marathon itself.

The last post I wrote was on April 25. In the week and a half since then, I haven’t done much running. I was experiencing a case of peroneal tendonitis in my left foot, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it is a slow thing to heal from. As you can see from my training log, I didn’t run on the 25th (was supposed to do 5) and the 26th (5). Instead, I went for several miles on the stationary bike on the 26th. I figured it would take me about 40 minutes to do the 5 miles if running, so I rode for 40 minutes on the stationary bike. I definitely didn’t feel like I was getting as good a workout as running, but based on muscle soreness afterwards, I was certainly using muscles that I don’t use while running.

I have been running on Asics 2100 and 2110 shoes for the past 8 months or so. I’ve been pleased with them, but some online research led me to believe that the Asics might actually cause peroneal tendonitis in some people, due to the high arch support that they have. So, I decided to visit the local running shop (Body ‘n Sole) and get their input. I had an intelligent guy help me this time, and he put me on the treadmill and videotaped my feet while running, and we determined that I definitely overprotonate (when my foot hits the ground it rolls to the inside) so I needed some sort shoe with support (the Asics qualified on this, thank goodness). To mix things up, though, I got a pair of Brooks Adrenaline 6 shoes that don’t have quite as high of an arch support. The guy also thought that it was too early for me to be trying a marathon (after having only been running for a year now) and he really didn’t like that I was playing volleyball (when running the distances I’m running, the body really needs to concentrate on one sport). He has run 6 or 7 marathons and seemed to know what he was talking about. He gave me the names of a few sports massage people in town that I could try if I wanted to. The Brooks feel similar to the Asics. He said that sometimes on his runs he likes to switch brands just so that the feet feel bumps in different spots.

On the weekend (Saturday’s 8 mile run) I decided to try running again. I made it about a mile and decided that my left foot still wasn’t in good shape. So, I made my way back to the house and spent an hour or so on the stationary bike. I decided to not try Sunday’s run (despite the training program’s admonishment to NOT SKIP the long runs) and instead spent time on the bike, and then mowing the lawn.

By this point, I had taken about all I could take. I felt like my legs were going to dwindle away to nothingness. I was somewhat depressed. I had spent all of this time working on my legs, and I was, day by day, watching them slowly lose their ability to run. It didn’t feel good.

So, Tuesday of this week rolled around, and I decided to run. I made it 5 miles (the amount I was supposed to do). The first half mile or so was a bit painful. I felt like my body didn’t want to be running, and my left foot was also a bit aggravated. After that, the foot started cooperating, and everything went well until 2.55 miles in. At that point, I came down on my left foot, the pain spiked (not super extreme, thank goodness) and my body automatically slowed down for a few steps. I said to myself, “That’s not good.” Nothing else bad happened until about 4.5 in, and I had another pain spike, and the left foot was more sensitive for the rest of the 5 miles. The remainder of the day was a bit uncomfortable, and I limped around. This caused me to skip Wednesday’s 8 mile run.

Thursday’s 5 mile run went well. No real problems. I didn’t really feel like my body wanted to be out and about, though. It’s amazing how quickly the emotional side becomes a player. I hadn’t regularly run for a few days, and my brain quickly started telling me, “You don’t really want to run.. Just go back to the house and take it easy.” But, I went ahead and put in my 5. The body didn’t really hurt, so that was a good thing. I didn’t have any major limping problems, and I called the day a success.

Friday was a rest day, and Friday night I decided to switch the weekend runs. I was supposed to do 5 on Saturday and 20 on Sunday, but I decided it would be better for my schedule to do the 20 on Saturday. This Saturday was a bit different, though. The local park district was having a 5k “fun run” today that I wanted to participate in. They don’t give out race prizes or anything. It’s just a 5k route through and around a few local parks. But, they have a reasonable t-shirt, and plenty of post race goodies, for the bargain price of $7. The run registration opened at 8, and the run itself was at 9. I had thought about starting running at 8, and then going through until 11, or whenever I finished the 20. But, I decided that it would better to start running earlier, and be closer to completion at the end of the “fun run”.

I woke up a bit before 7, and made it out the door at around 7:20 (ahhh.. the beauty of running on Saturday.. If I had run on Sunday, I would have needed to be moving before 6am in order to get back in time for Church). I timed it so that I would be at the park around 8am, and I had 4.74 miles completed at that point. The registration girl was like, “You look like you’ve already been running.” Very observant of her, as I tried to keep sweat from dripping onto the registration form I was filling out. I picked up my t-shirt (I’ve learned to get there early, or risk not getting the proper size of shirt) and headed back to the house. I dropped off the shirt, drunk some gatorade, and headed back out. I had a 70 ounce camelbak on my back that served me well. I didn’t quite finish it, but I might have, if I hadn’t been able to drink the gatorade. Anyway, I headed back out, ran around the neighborhood some more, and ended up back at the park at 8:48. I took a little 0.6 mile loop, which put me at the starting line at about 8:53. I downed a Gu packet, received an encouraging phone call at 8:57 while they were describing race details, and then we were off!

About 50 feet into the race, I felt a pain in my left foot that I hadn’t felt in the previous 10 miles that I had run up to that point. I guess it was probably from the stranger motions I was going through to avoid other runners. *shrug* Anyway, I felt my foot off and on for the remainder of the 20 mile run. It never got really bad, though. Back to the “fun run”. Nothing real exciting to mention, to be honest. I ran it. My time was under 24 minutes, which isn’t very good… but then, i had already run 10 miles before the race ever started, so I wasn’t going to complain. And, I wasn’t trying to set a speed record. For me, it really was a “fun” run in the middle of a much longer run.

Afte the run, I grabbed a banana and a bottle of gatorade and finished both of them off in pretty quick order. At this point a guy walked by me and said, “I’ve never seen anyone use a camelbak for a 5k race before.” While I thought about telling him that I get really, really thirsty, I decided to just calmly mention that I was in the middle of a 20 mile run, and that pretty well made the point, I think. I then picked up a goodie bag, threw more fruit and another gatorade into the bag, and headed back to the house (about 0.4-0.5 miles from the park).

At the house, I dropped off the stuff and I still had about 6.4 miles to go. So, I headed out again. The last 6.4 miles were not a whole lot of fun. My average speed dropped off considerably (probably a minute per mile) and I was definitely running out of juice. I noticed about 17-18 miles in that my upper arms and shoulders were getting tired. I have to find a good exercise that will target the exact muscles that need to be worked on for that, so that I’ll be in good shape 3 weeks from now. When all was said and done, I had 20.02 miles on the GPS. I love that thing! If you are going to do running, get yourself one. They are the awesomest thing ever. I have the Forerunner 205, and it is wonderful. Today’s run would have been a nightmare to figure out the distances, but with the GPS it was a no brainer.

After the run, I stretched for a while, and then instantly ice massaged my left foot (I think I need to do it again… right now… ahh.. that feels good). Oh ya, the guy from Body ‘n Sole also gave me some massage ideas. For the ice massage, I’ve frozen water in a 20 ounce gatorade bottle and I just sit it on the floor and roll my foot over it. The bumps on the gatorade bottle do a wonderful job of massaging. I can roll the sides and the bottom of my foot very easily. Wonderful. Hopefully the foot will do well for the remainder of the day.

Today’s run was a confidence builder. I really wanted this second 20 to go well. I think I can now take it relatively easy between now and the marathon and still be able to complete it (I don’t plan to “take it easy”. I’m going to follow the tapering given in my training plan). Not with a time that I’d love, but complete it, none the less. That’s an important thing for me, after the work I feel I have put into it. With my left foot not hurting any more than it is, I’m really hopeful that I’m getting over the tendonitis. I don’t plan on abnormally testing the foot, but hopefully it will be in good shape. I was just reading an article on interval training, and the article cited a study where a doubling of endurance had been observed in test groups after only 2 weeks of interval training. I have 3 weeks until the marathon! So, I still think there is an outside chance of me getting a good time at the race. We’ll see.

The hardest part of the training is over. Now I just have to be careful, not do anything stupid, and do everything I can to prepare myself for race day!

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