Friday, November 15, 2013

3000 Yard Postal recap

This morning, I accomplished the possible.  I swam 3000 yards (almost) continuously.  It's easily been over a decade since I have covered that distance in a pool in one session.  6000 yard workouts were a normal thing, for a single practice, let alone 2-a-days, but today's 3000 is a real milestone.  It's my first officially sanctioned swimming-only race since 2000.  It's the first time I swam 2 miles (after warm down) since probably 2001.  It also helped me over a hurdle that's been stymieing my training; I always felt adequately tired after about 1200 yds lately and that kind of workout will get me nowhere and ultimately waste my time.  The yardage must go up, the intensity must follow suit.  Getting over that hurdle made a lot more things possible.  Mental blocks can obliterate any long term race plans by hindering our preparations.  It's good to push our limits sometimes, especially when those limitations are perceived.

The event is called a postal race which is a USA Swimming event where you complete a long-distance swim with an official timer and mail in (or electronically submit) your times.  The longest event in most standard meets is the mile (1650).  It's easier to have any interested racers do it on their own time and submit your times which are to be done by a friend/coach or by your Garmin data.

I felt pretty good this morning, I ate well and went to bed early to try to beat the retirees that have no business being in the pool early to a lane where I can swim uninterrupted for what I was hoping would be around 45 minutes.  A quick breakfast and a GU before the swim hopefully helped out a little.  at about 6:15 I hopped in and took off.  I can usually keep track of my laps until about 500 yards in.  Then my brain is mush, going to thinking about my breathing patters, my form, my thirst, my whatever... which is totally fine, I can check my Garmin at some point to see my distance covered.

I had really hoped to get this done in one shot, no stops for water or rest.  There's no real need to ever stop and if I'm pacing myself properly.  Alas, I came in for a breather and justified it by taking a gulp from my waterbottle and went back out after checking my Garmin.  1250 in.  This happened again at 1600.  Damn, just short of a mile!  1950!  Quit being lame, Aaron- No more stops!  50 more then it's just 10x100's no rest the rest of the way, no problemo.  It did get easier by breaking it down and also because after a certain point... you're just tired and you've settled into a pace that you can keep plugging forward with almost indefinitely, just like running.  Fortunately, just tired and not in pain.  Unfortunately, it's glacially slow.  I finished at about 53 minutes and I'm not sure about the ruling but I deducted my rest periods from my total so I am pretty sure I cheated by ignorance, not with bad intent.  I'll own up to this shameful act. UPDATE 11/18/2013: I emailed all my Garmin data to the race director so I don't have to live a lie.  Awaiting his response.

After a quick cooldown to finish out a nice even 2 miles, I hopped out and cleaned up for work.  Not bad all before 7:30AM.  Too bad all morning's been a half-asleep fog...

I wish I'd prepared a little better, but today was the deadline for submissions.  I was pretty sure it was Dec. 15 but at least I didn't miss it.  I'm looking forward to finding some masters meets in the spring to see where I stack up in some of my old events and my new distance events but it's time to get some good runs in!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Media Mud Stain 5-Miler. 11/10/13 Race Report

Yesterday I finally got back out on the trails for a race.  I was very excited for any race at this point as it had been months since any race, so even a short 5-mile trail run was perfect.  Since mid-August, I'd been having some pain in my left shin, which I had just figured was a rogue shin splint that maybe I'd tweaked something and it would vanish because I'd been running pain free for years.  I'll complain about my shin splint later.

The Media Mud Stain is a 5 or 10-mile event in the trials of Ridley Creek State Park, a place Kristen and I enjoy running or hiking as often as we can on their network of trails.  The course is a 5-mile loop so, not seeing the point of doing it twice this time, I elected to just do 5.  It's a beautiful park and the weather was perfect, a little breezy but about 50 and sunny.  I had no real goal for the race, I was just excited to be back on the trails in a pack of other runners, winding our way through the woods.  We were also feeling pretty great considering we'd just celebrated Kristen's birthday the evening before with more than just a few beers.
The race course loop by Garmin.
While loosening up by the registration tables, Kristen asked about my nonexistent race goal.  I had made habits of making a race plan with a real goal time for every race.  Maybe I'd just forgotten since I was preoccupied with getting through my first race since August.  After careful consideration (pulling a guess out of my ass) I thought I'd be content with a 45-minute run.  Holding 9-minute miles on trail is a decent pace for me, so why not?  Sounds good.  Truthfully, I wanted to aim for 40 minutes but this is a test race after far too much rest.
Near my goal time but 4.82 is not 5 miles... C'mon, man!
I was pleased to be near my desired finish time and come in 34th overall but 11th in my age group wasn't particularly amazing.  Reviewing my nearest competition, I see I missed out on a better finish.  It's good mental fuel for the next race.  But finishing strong and recovering quickly after the race gave me some insight on what I could have done better.

Kristen came through the finish line just under 1 hour.  A very strong finish to beat her goal.  She came charging and I thought she looked pissed!  Almost as if she was going to tackle the runner in front of her.  Thankfully, she just passed her and crossed the finish line without any violence.

I held up well during the race physically.  I wore compression sleeves for a little extra calf support and made a point to be aware of how my legs felt.  It made me a little more paranoid about little twinges I felt here and there.  My achilles had some minor discomfort and I thought I felt a little pain in my left knee too but I think it's just a paranoia, all stemming from months earlier at North East Tri, the pain was there, it slowed me on my run a little but was nothing major.  The weeks after that race, with less on the calendar, I rested a little to let the shin splint subside with time as they tend to do, even ran (only one leg of) Ragnar and felt really good.  As time passed, the pain departed but constantly returned after a run.  With some concern about permanent damage or a possible stress fracture, I sought some professional help which after some time and an MRI later, showed I am stricken with Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome - basically a specific version of shin splints...
Somehow my expert team of doctors saw something more than 2 amazing legs.
My understanding now is that this is a muscular condition that I will learn to deal with but I imagine that I can find a way to get rid of it.  It can get painful but is not a threat of any real damage.  24 hours after Media Mud Stain and I feel fine.  Some tenderness in the lower part of the inside of my left shin.  What I think is BS is that this just kinda... happened.  I'd been running for years with no problems like this so I'm re-evaluating my training regimen.  I'll be adding some strength workouts and yoga to the mix more regularly and immediately to try to prevent any more flare ups.

Next race up is the Dirty Bird 15K on Dec 1.  Looking forward to a more aggressive race after testing out the legs!