Friday, August 28, 2009

Me, Kara, and Some Verbal Diarrhea

So you know how when you have a cold or a flu, the kind where it hurts just to move your head and you have a thousand thoughts swirling around that probably wouldn’t make sense on any other day but it makes perfect sense to you right now because you’re sick and tired and all you want to do is slip under the covers and not emerge again until this viral episode is over but you can’t because you have work to do and errands to run and deadlines to meet so you try to compromise by urging your malaise body to get up and jot these thoughts down hoping they’d serve some therapeutic purpose? Yeah, that’s where I am today, so if this post gets a bit long or superfluous or in general reads more like a bout of verbal diarrhea than what came out of my you-know-what this morning, then please excuse the intrusion and come back next week when we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Okay, you’ve been forewarned…Now welcome to my world!

I knew I was headed for trouble when I went to bed last night with a slight tickle in the back of my throat. Truth be told, I had been putting my body under a tremendous amount of physical stress ever since I got back from California two days ago. Between jetting directly from the airport to the hospital after an overnight red-eye flight to a dinner engagement that left me up ‘til the wee hours that night followed by the next morning, playing doctor to 50 kids at diabetes camp and zipping off to do an intense interval workout (12 miles with 4 x 1mile @ 5:54) where I pushed my physical limits way beyond what I had scheduled (11 miles with 3 x 1mile @ 6:03) for myself before heading home at way past my bedtime after dinner with a friend and feeling so physically exhausted that I almost passed out in the sofa before even taking off my clothes, I really have no right to complain that my body is rebelling against me right now. The funny thing about this whole episode is that over dinner last night, I had boastfully confided to my friend (when he reminded me that NYCM is 9.5 weeks away) that my marathon training is going so well and so smoothly even though I’m running faster and longer than I ever have before that I think I’ve already maxed out my miles and my long runs and am dumbfounded as to how to strategize my training for the rest of the time. Indeed, after downloading my runs from California into my training log and reviewing my progress during my flight home, I realized I’ve already done more 55+ mile weeks (3) than I did in my preparation for Boston! Now only so, but I’ve done 3 20+mile runs in the past 4 weekends, and have accumulated more miles this month (200+) than I’ve ever run! And through it all, I dare say I’m running a bit faster (as evidenced by my interval workout) and smoother (each interval clocked in at 5:53-5:54) than I ever have before. And the biggest triumph I can claim – no injuries! Yay! Truthfully though, if you don’t mind me saying so, I am a little frightened by these developments. I’ve never gone through a whole training cycle without injury before! So I’m not quite sure how I’m supposed to handle myself. Should I continue at my current pace and mileage and hope to maintain this level of fitness all the way through? Should I step back a bit and take a couple of lower mileage recovery weeks so I can build up to a peak again before the taper? If I want to add mileage, I’m not quite sure I can run more miles than I do now, given that I am putting in 55 or so miles in 5 days/week of running. I guess I can raise the ante and add a sixth day but I’m afraid I might overtrain this body and have disastrous results. (Remember, I’ve always been a proponent of 4 days/wk of running for marathon training so to be consistently running 5 days/wk now is already a big deal to me!) Besides, I don’t want to run more than 3 consecutive days since my muscles tend to get quite sore by the third day even when I run slow. So what to do, what to do? I’m leaning more on just being patient and consistent and stick with what has gotten me here. There’s a bunch of races and marathon-paced run coming up in the next several months so if I can maintain a 55-60 mile/week base and just add some dedicated speed training, I think that should be good enough for me.

Speaking of running, I forgot to mention something that I posted about in my recap of my California adventure. While I was there, every cousin, aunt, uncle came up to me in private and congratulated me on being an awesome runner! I guess they’ve all heard at one time or another that I run marathons and such but most have never really witnessed it in person, and fewer still has ever talked to me about it. So when they saw me waking early everyday to run 5-7 miles and then found out that I took the early bird train to San Fran and ran 21 miles over the Golden Gate Bridge before they had even finished brunch, they were all beyond impressed. I became a mini-celebrity for the rest of the weekend! All the uncles and aunts came up to me afterwards and told me their individual running stories, which was so very cool to hear. Then my cousins came and asked about my marathon training and how long it takes someone to train to run long distances. I told them all my reasons for running and how it sustains me and challenges me and how it makes me a good doctor and better person when I run. I don’t know if won over any of them by my story, but it was definitely cool when I “accidentally” overheard one of my younger cousins whisper to her brother later on – “I think it’s so cool to be able to run ten or fifteen miles just because you feel like it!” Yeah, right on! I think if I had a bucket list, one of the items would definitely be to run a marathon with a member of my family.

Switching gears a bit, did you all see the marathon coverage from the 2009 IAAF World Championships in Berlin over the weekend? Did you all see Kara Goucher (spoiler alert) and her 10th place finish? How about her courageous post-race interview afterwards – here, and here? What did you all think? I only got to see it last night on DVR since I was away this weekend so if this is old hat to you all, I apologize. I thought she did an admirable job, doing the best that she can despite having major GI issues during the race and battling her stomach for much of the race. I know she must be disappointed given as how she put her life on hold (at least for several months) just to dedicate herself to training for this race. Like she mentioned in her interview, she was training better than she ever has and was as well prepared as she could be, but it just wasn’t meant to be. I guess that is the thing about marathons - you can train like hell, be at the peak of your physical conditioning on race day and something crazy and fluky can happen at any point during the 26.2 mile course to ruin your chances at a race goal. The thing that impressed me about Kara was that despite her obvious disappointment (and some vomiting) she can still say with a straight face that she loves the marathon distance and this race. How many of us can say that minutes after crossing the finish line after a less-than-stellar time?

Watching the marathon coverage, I immediately felt humbled by Kara’s performance and her words. Because I too have felt utter disappointment at missing a PR in a marathon not too long ago and feel as if I’m currently running and training better than I ever have for any prior marathon, the words she spoke shot through the computer monitor and into my heart with a reverberation so strong it was the last sound I heard before drifting off to sleep last night – I wonder if I’ll end up with a similar performance in NYC? What if I run a 3:05 or a 3:15 or even worse a 3:00:02? Will I be happy? Will I be devastasted? Will I be gracious? Will I remaining a proponent of marathons, or will I swear off the race and take a break for as long as Kara is going to be out of the running scene? I sincerely hope not, but like every aspect of racing a marathon – you just never know.


joyRuN said...

Dude, I'd crack under the pressure you put yourself under.

I guess that's the difference between my marathon PR & yours.

Feel better!!

Scott Brown said...

At Karas'level she'd be excused for being less than gracious with her result as we all know that, even as young as she is, she isn't going to get that many chances to win and it is more likely she'll do it sooner rather than later.

But if punters like us can't be happy with any kind of PB/PR then we should indeed think about taking up another sport.

Running is a great sport, I believe, mostly because it sorts out the ones with less passion pretty fast and those that remain are usually of strong character.

You shouldn't doubt that you are of such character and by the way if you train harder than you did before you will more than likely run faster. Thinking that something unforseen will come up may only serve to have you training at a level that will see you "failing" at your goal. But of course you know that.

Running and living said...

Lam, I hope you feel better soon. Thanks for the videos of Kara, I was dissapointed that she did not win, but was not aware of her circumstances. Glad training is going so well. I am feeling the same way about my body - no injury sign after bumping my mileage and running faster? Lets hope things stay like this.

Anonymous said...

hope you start feeling better! i think putting in at least one week of recovery stuff would be a good idea just so you're not stressing your body week in/week out. and yay for family making you a mini-celebrity!

Susan said...

I hope you get some good rest and feel better!

I can't imagine doing an interview when I feel like I'm going to vomit. Kara is always so positive, even when things don't go as planned. We can all learn a lesson from the elites. (Just try to avoid Tiger Woods's temper!)

Anonymous said...

I had read that kara came in 10th, but hadn't look at any coverage until you posted this and I'm pretty amazed that the winner was 2:25:15 and kara came in 2:27:48 despite stomach trouble. I'm so far from fast that it practically translates as being seconds behind.

Anonymous said...

Kara is SO inspiring. Definitely someone to think about when you are having a rough workout!

You know, I'm really tired too. I think it's a high mileage thing. We gotta take care of our bodies when we are asking so much of them.

Jamie said...

Feel better soon!

Your training is going great so far. I'm sure the bump up will only have positive results.

I felt so bad while watching Kara and at the time of watching the race had no idea what was happening w/ her and the fluids. She's such a great competitor and constantly positive even through disappointment. It will all come together for her in no time.

NY Wolve said...

Seems like we are all hitting that point in training where the workouts get hard and the body starts feeling it. Or maybe I feel it more because I am older now. Good luck though, and your mini celebrity status is hard earned!

lindsay said...

sure hope you aren't coming down with anything and are feeling better! yikes, you're running 55-60 too? i need to step it up! :)

i always doubt myself and my training. so i don't think i can (or should) attempt to offer any advice. just wouldn't be right. i would say you should just try to hold where you are with periodic cutback weeks? like you said, this is new mileage territory for you so increasing it any further could be dangerous. also with your recent jump from 4 to 5 days/week, adding another day could also be detrimental. stick with what works (the 4 or 5 days) and as long as you aren't constantly tired or aching continue to maintain a similar range of mileage. just my opinion.

i do hate that little fact about marathons, you train for months for one shot at something. the pressure is tough to just play down.

J said...

After watching Karas interview I was just astounded by her and how great she really is. yeah she did her best and that was just not her day and of course she can be upset but I just loved her attitude through it all! That is why i love her!

Irish Cream said...

Thanks for the Kara videos . . . she's such an inspiration; it just breaks my heart that the race didn't go as planned. I guess that's the devastating thing about the marathon, eh? You spend so much time and energy preparing for one race--and since it's a such a long ass race, there's a LOT that can go wrong during the 3, 4, 5 hours it takes most of us to run one . . .

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