Catch Up

1984. I try to "catch up" to state champ Reggie Littlejohn in the 3200. My strategy of sprinting past him at the end turned out to be a pretty dumb plan - he was a 48 second quarter miler.

“Catch up” is more than just the punch line to a joke in Pulp Fiction (the last good movie written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, by the way.  All you fans of Jackie Brown, Kill Bill, and Inglorious Bastards are, I’m sorry to say, misguided.  Those movies are all crap.)  Let’s get back on track.  I’m using the phrase “catch up” as in “Let’s”.  It’s been a while since I posted.

So what’s been going on?  In keeping with today’s theme, let me catch you up.  Basically, I have been singularly focused on the latest goal, namely to qualify for the New York marathon by breaking 1:30 in a half.  In November, I ran a 1:30:41 in Richmond and then last month I ran a 1:31:38 in Charleston.  Heading in the wrong direction, I knew I needed help.  I enlisted the aid of one of Charlotte’s finest coaches, Mark Hadley.  Coach Hadley has guided many a local runner to reach their goals, including helping me to ultimately qualify for the Boston Marathon after years of unsuccessful attempts.  The coach wrote up an 8-week plan allowing me two more shots before the March 15 deadline – February 19 at Myrtle Beach and March 12’s Corporate Cup uptown.

The early stages of the plan went smoothly.  It called for a stress workout of 10 x 1-minute sprints with 2-minute jog recoveries.  Cake – that’s one of the funnest workouts a runner can do because you get to sprint, but not so long that it becomes overly painful.  You feel fast.  And 2-minutes of recovery is a lot (although it goes by much more quickly than one would think) so you’re fresh for the next repeat.  Fun stuff.

But alas, life is not all, as Megan puts it, “sunshine and candy corn”, or as Laura likes to say “flowers and sausages”, or to coin my own phrase, “kittens and cotton candy”.  Sometimes life brings you rusty nails and broken glass.  On my long run last Sunday, I felt stiff, sore, and tight.  I think I inadvertently ran a little too fast on Saturday.  I jogged over to the nearby Birkdale Upgrade 5K, which is about 2 miles from my place, to watch the race and cheer on friends.  I intentionally carried no money because I was afraid if I had any that I’d register and jump in the race.

When the race started, I ran on the adjacent sidewalk and cheered on friends Bobby Aswell, Sarah Keen, and, of course, the king and queen of Charlotte running, Larry and Kathy Seavers.  I may have gotten just a tad carried away, running my fifth mile of the day in 7:11 (here are my splits).  The run basically turned into a bit of a tempo and since I wore flats, on pavement, I was left a little sore and tight going into Sunday’s long run.

I was scheduled to run 14 and was meeting Sarah, a fellow DART’er, at the Davidson trails.  I felt like crap from the get-go and it never got any better.  I kept waiting for the tightness to subside, but it never did.  By mile 10, my right calf felt like it was on the verge of seizing up.  By 11, I realized I was starting to venture into dangerous territory, having injured myself in nearly identical fashion on long runs in the past, namely by trying to push through soreness/tightness/muscle pain.  I told Sarah that I needed to call it a day (I think she was relieved – the day after her race, I don’t believe she felt much better than I did).

By the time I arrived home from the run, my calf was in full-blown pain.  I iced it.  I took ibuprofen.  I painfully rolled the stick over it.  But the pain persisted.

The rest of the week, I walked that by now all-too-familiar tightrope between injury and maintaining fitness.  I took Monday off completely while the right calf hurt badly enough that I limped.  I ate ibuprofen like it was candy.  Tuesday, I “ran” 5 painful miles on the University Y treadmill at a snail’s pace.  Afterward, I continued my regimen of ice and stick.  By Wednesday, the pain had mostly subsided.  Still tight, I ran with Bill Waterson (Charlotte Running Club members may recognize him from last week’s newsletter) – we took it very easy.  Thursday, I ran a slow 8 on the treadmill, but the calf was pain-free.  And Friday, yesterday, was much of the same, another slog on the dreadmill, but fortunately the calf felt normal.

So after a few days of pain free jogs, I’m ready to try to run relatively fast again.  This morning, I was all set to use the UNC-Charlotte Homecoming 5K as my tempo, but when my alarm sounded, the seemingly eternal rain that has settled over our area continued to come down hard.  I rolled back over and got some much-needed additional sleep.  I’ll try the tempo later today, hopefully when the rain has subsided.

That’s it.  We’re all caught up.  2 weeks until Myrtle Beach.  Keep your fingers crossed for a 1:29:59 (or faster!)  I’ll fill you in on the journey as it occurs.

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