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Too much wine, weight and Words With Friends: What else is there to do when you’re injured

Now that I’m running again, I’ve got to get back into the routine of being a runner. 4:45 a.m. wakeup calls. Purchase extra detergent to wash all the towels I’ll mess up. Shoe check. And, of course, spend extra time stretching so I don’t re-injure myself.

Of course, when I was laid up, I did none of that stuff. I didnt stretch. I didnt worry if I had clean shorts to wear. I didn’t fret about what time I ate dinner. And I certainly didnt fret about early-morning weather forecasts.

In fact, what I did in those 30-something days of activity was:

Drank lots of wine.
Gained lots of weight (154 pounds before injury, 164 now)
Stayed up past midnight often.
Slept a lot.
Played lots of Words with Friends over breakfast (which meant lots of cheating. Thank you, Scrabble Word Finder. My words with friend username, btw, is 5ksandcabernets.)

Did I say drank lots of wine? Oh, I did say that.

I’ll probably still drink a lot, and cheat (on Scrabble) a lot. But its time to get this bod back in shape.

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Doctor doctor, gives me the news: “You can run.”

The doc did some prodding and poking. Asked me some questions. Raised his eyebrow as I told him I’d run a few days last week, and that most of the runs were pain free and actually felt better as the run went on.

Then he looked at me and said: “Ok. You are not totally healed. You still have some symptoms. But, you can run. But take it easy. Don’t run consecutive days.”

I was relieved.

He went on to say that my stress fracture/reaction was not as bad as others. And that I am definitely healing, and that usually, when people with bad stress fractures get to my level of healing, he lets them run.

He told me to pay attention to my body. Continue to ice and stretch. He felt so good about how I was progressing that he said he didn’t need to see me anymore for this injury.

Now we’re cooking with gas!

I think all the wear and tear, all the pounding, all the marathon training and not resting, all the 50- and 60-mile weeks took their toll on me, and I started breaking down. And taking the month off from running (when it was supposed to be three months off) did me a world of good.

I’m going to start with a Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday rotation for now, with 4 to 5 miles on Tuesday and Thursday and up to an hour or so on Saturdays.

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2011 Austin Marathon: My goals.

They say you should set several goals for yourself when you run a marathon. From your A goal, where everything is going right and things feel easy, all the way to your D goal, when you are having a bad race or the weather stinks.

Here are my goal for the Austin Marathon.

D. Finish with a smile on my face. I've run 7 marathons and have had disappointing finishes in five of them, finishes that saw my pace slow to as slow as a 15-minute mile because of cramping quad muscles. If I do anything Sunday, I'm going to run slow/relaxed enough so I can run every mile in a respectable time.

C. PR: My current PR is 3:36. That's an 8:15 min/mile pace. In each of my last two 22-milers, on pretty much the exact same course that we will run Sunday, my pace was about 7:50 min/mile.

B. Sub 3:30: That's an 8:00 min/mile pace or better. See C.

A. Qualify for Boston. That means run a 3:30 or a 7:38 min/mile pace. I have the leg turnover to do this. Ive run 1:32 half marathons and so slowing my pace by another 40 seconds a mile should be a piece of cake. But, See D.

Weather: Its going to be pretty hot, pretty muggy out for a marathon, with forecasters calling for temps in the high 50s at the start and getting up to the high 60s, low 70s near the end. I'm going to take it easy the first 13 miles, run according to feel and not time and then try to push it near the end.

So, if easy running means I'm scooting along at 8:30 pace the first 13 miles, then that's what I'm going to do the first 13 miles. I'm going to respect the weather, the humidity, and the distance.

And most of all, I'm going to relax and have fun and treat the marathon as one big long training run.

Austin Marathon: Early weather forecast


Mid 50s at the start.

Warming up to the mid 70s.

If it’s going to be that hot (and humid) then my plan is this: to hell with trying to set a record. Have fun. Enjoy the course. Enjoy the surroundings.

And to be honest, that takes a lot of pressure off me. I’ve already got a built-in excuse if I don’t qualify for Boston.

I’ll just have fun. Wow. What a novel concept.

Trying to hold a 6:50 pace on hills: Its doable.

Still plan on breaking down why I struggle in marathons with a later post, but figured today I'd take a detour and tell you about my plan to try and qualify for the New York City Marathon in November.

New York lets you qualify based on your half-marathon time. For me that means a 1:30 (6:52 pace). In 2009, I ran 1:31 at Austin's 3M Half Marathon and then 1:32 a few weeks later at the Austin Half Marathon.
So, I'm close.

On Mondays twice a month, a group of us from Gilbert's Gazelles run tempo/mgp up and down Exposition Boulevard, from Barton Springs to I-35 and back. This is a very hilly section of the course that is used for the Austin Marathon yearly. I like these runs because its the hardest part of the marathon and figure it will give me the confidence on race day.

We did about a 1.5-mile warmup, then six miles at a comfortably hard pace, followed by a 1.5-mile cooldown.

My paces for the comfortably hard portion:

7:29 – Just getting warmed up.
7:09 – I'm warm, but hating the hills.
6:54 – Feeling a groove, and halfway done.
6:51 – Staying on pace and my breathing is fine.
6:34 – Found myself chasing a guy in front of me. He wouldn't slow down. So I didn't.
6:15 – Might as well pass the guy.

Ok, things got a little competitive at the end, which they always do on these runs. My heart rate (yep, started wearing my heart rate monitor again) hovered between 86 and 88 percent of maximum for the first five miles of the run and then skied to about 90 percent for the last mile. That's just a little slower than my 5k pace, so I know I wont be running that fast at either the half marathon or the marathon.


Things felt really comfortable around the 6:50 m/mile pace range. My breathing was good and I could talk. My legs felt strong. So i hope to keep this pace for the Austin 3M Half Marathon in a few weeks, which would easily help me qualify for New York.

Again, I'm not at all surprised I could keep this pace. My aim, of course, is to be able to have this kind of energy when its time to run a marathon. And right now, I'm still working on my aim.