Gaining Momentum: A January Running Recap

Wow, 2014 has started fast and strong! Every new year usually brings with it new changes, new goals, and new challenges and this one is no different!

After a sickly end to a disappointing 13, 14 has brought with it some much appreciated change! Along with many other dedicated Brooks runners,  I was moved from the Brooks Inspire Daily Program to the Brooks Fanatics Program. Fanatics is a similar program but with a lot less sponsorship responsibility. This change comes alongside another recent occupational move back to bar tending. A  move that has paid off physically, and fiscally.  I’ve traded in grinding out my days in retail for more rest (sleeping in) and more training.

My first goal for 2014 was to start a running streak. Another goal was to run a third Marathon. Coincidentally, I received a free entry to the Rock-N-Roll New Orleans Marathon from the Fanatics Program.  I only had a month to get ready so I decided to start my streaking.  I’ve read about how streaks can make you a better runner for a number of reasons so I decided to try for at least a 5k a day for the month of January, and maybe even for the rest of the year. Below is a snapshot of my training in January.

January14 Training Snapshot

There was only one day in January that I didn’t run and it was due to an unexpected 12hr workday.  Running streaks are hard.  Not only are they hard on your body, but they wear you down mentally too.  They break you down to nothing and at the same time, teach you everything.  They force you to run when you’re tired.  They force you to run in terrible conditions.  Your body might not like it, but if done properly (the 10 percent rule), it will adapt to the extra load and you will become a stronger runner.  Streaks teach you how to adapt, so when the weather is less than perfect on race day, you’re prepared.  When your calfs are sore, you’re prepared.  When you have to run double the distance of your longest recent run in only two weeks, you’re prepared. Along with streaking, I  worked on strengthening my core by adding a rigorous routine of pushups, situps, and squats. I also cross-trained by playing soccer once a week.  January was a work month, but would it payoff in Nawlins?

On February 1st, the day before the marathon, I flew to the Big Easy.  It didn’t take long for me to settle in. Before I knew it, I was 3IPA’s deep and playing Texas Hold Em at Harrah’s Casino.  After grinding it out for two hours at the table,  I started to get a little stir crazy and the dealer threw me Ace/9 off-suit.  After limping into the hand, the flop came out 8, 8, 9. Two Pair with an Ace kicker. After everyone checked around the table, I over bet in an attempt to buy the measly pot. It pushed everyone out of the hand but my friend sitting to the left of me.  He saw my $50 bet and raised me another $50….”Does he have the 8,” I thought? I’m going to pay to see it. By that point I only had $60 left, so I pushed what was left of my pride into the pot.  All-in with a mediocre hand and sure enough, my opponent flipped over the only card that could’ve beaten me at that point…….the 8. Ouch….

After losing over half of my spending money in the first 2 hours of my trip, I walked to a near-by sushi bar to think over my poor decisions and drown my sorrows in Asian lagers and Dragon Rolls….Before I knew it, I had justified my first casino experience with a simple “When in Rome” and by 9pm I was back to the hotel with a nice beer buzz before bedtime.

At 4:30am my alarm sounded and I hit the Shower.  The sky was overcast with temps in the cool 50’s and a 30% chance of showers.  My head was clear and I felt relaxed.I had a plan.  My plan was to start the Marathon slow and have as much fun as possible.  “Make it easy!” I thought.  After running only 13 miles for my long run, there was no telling how my body would react in the later miles of the race. Was I prepared?

A calmness fell over me as I was standing in the first corral waiting for the gun to sound.  Probably the most relaxed I’ve ever been before a race.  It was probably because I wasn’t racing anyone but myself, and the time to beat was  3 hrs and 41 minutes.  My PR from RnR Savannah in 2012 came with a lot of aches and pains from starting out too fast, not eating enough, and not hydrating enough.  I was determined not to go through that again, so when the gun sounded, I let everyone pass…

With 100% humidity that morning, water coated everything including the roads.  Like Charleston, New Orleans isn’t exactly known for they’re newly paved roads.  Cracks and crannies crawl through the roads just waiting for a misstep.  Add the moisture in to the equation and there’s your recipe for a swollen ankle.  The first 6 miles of the race was spent simply trying to find my footing.  And then the rain came…

Before the rain:

A

During the rain:

3

After the rain:

C

After shedding my water soaked t-shirt, I felt lighter and faster.  While everyone was struggling through the second half, I was just warming up.  It’s worth noting that I ate a GU Rocktane every 30 minutes of the race and drank the water and gatorade at almost every station.  This extra boost of caffeine and sugar powered me through the tough times.  Marathons are monotonous, so having a reward to look forward to every 30 minutes really breaks up the race and boosts your mood.  The extra fuel powered me through miles 16-24.

Oh yeah, I robbed a bank along the course and the Marathon was part of my getaway:

Feeling Strong

Seriously though…..it’s on my bucket list…

At this point, people were dropping like flies and I was cruising!  Having lived it in previous races, I knew what they were going through and  I was wondering when my wall would come. The muscles in my legs started tightening around mile 24. From quads to calfs, my output began to diminish, but breaking the 3hr 30 minute mark was still in my sights.  I kept trying to do the math in my head, “Only 2 miles to go and I have 17 minutes till the 3:30 mark, thats like……… 8.5minutes/mile. I’ve got this”! I kept picturing 3:20 something in my head. My legs felt like dead weight at this point, and the last mile seemed to take longer than all of the previous miles combined…Until I saw the finish line 3:30:and some seconds!  I kicked hard.  I wanted that damn clock to stop inside 3:30!

My Kick:

My kick

Its all arms at this point.

Finish Line

As I crossed the finish line, I saw the clock change to 3:31:something. Oh well, I still shaved over 10 minutes off of my previous PR.  I was happy with my time, and even happier with my performance.  I had fun, and more importantly, I gained confidence.  26.2 miles had broken me before, but I just conquered it slightly hungover and in less than ideal weather conditions.  Now I know what I need to do to keep that time down and eventually reach my goal of Sub 3 hours.  Rock N Roll New Orleans was a success and it was time to celebrate. What better place to celebrate finishing my 3rd Marathon than Bourbon Street on Super Bowl Sunday?

Bourbon Street 02/02/14

Big thanks to Brooks Fanatics for the free entry, The Adventurer Bear Owings for the hotel room, and the rest of my friends and family for their never ending support and encouragement every day! I couldn’t do it without you! Next up, the Columbia Marathon on March 8th.  What, you didn’t think I was just going to party for the month of February and lose my Ethiopian physique did you? I have goals man!

Happy Running,

-Michael


Brooks Silver Bullet Jacket ii

Does better running gear necessarily make you a better runner?  Maybe, maybe not….. What it does do is make you a more accountable runner. It keeps you honest.  This is especially true on a day like today, where most of the nation is experiencing freezing temperatures, bitter winds, and less than ideal running conditions.  How many times have you taken a rest day just because it was too cold and you didn’t feel like running?  That use to happen to me…until I found the Brooks Silver Bullet Jacket II.  Now I have no excuses for not running in these polar conditions.

–   “Thanks Silver Bullet Jacket!”

Silver Bullet

The jacket is loaded with warm features.  The most important being the aluminum membrane material that it is made of. This extremely thin, light-weight membrane traps the warmth that you’re body creates on the run.  This means you don’t have to wear as many layers under the jacket.  Not only is it water resistant, it slices through wind like the lead duck in a Flying V….

The update also includes a hood that easily folds into the collar of the jacket and thumb hole wrist warmers.  Didn’t I say this jacket is water resistant? Water literally beads off the surface of the jacket so you stay warm and dry.  There’s also plenty of pocket space in the front including an inside cellphone pocket positioned in front of the abdomen to reduce bouncing.  Super light, WARM, water resistant and fitted…..What more can I say?  This jacket truly is that all-in-one piece of cold weather gear that every outdoor enthusiast should own.

You’re probably thinking, “Yeah it’s great Michael, but just how expensive is this jacket Michael?”   Well, originally priced at $170 at brooksrunning.com, this jacket can now be yours for the extremely low price of only $110! That’s right folks, $110 bucks….But wait! Call now and you’ll receive a second jacket for the low price of just kidding…. Seriously though, go buy one right now, its worth it.

Silver Bullet Jacket ii

Charleston Half

Stay warm my friends!

-Michael


Brooks Pure Cadence 3 Review

On October 1st, 2011, exactly one week before my first Marathon, I received my first pair of Brooks Pure Cadence.  I took the shoe on an 8 mile test/taper run and new that I’d be crossing the finish line in it.  Now here we are, three years down the road and and there is a 3rd edition of the Brooks Pure Cadence.  

Image

 

I received the pair pictured above in early December 2013 and have already put about 70 miles on them.  The first thing I noticed upon receiving them was that the upper material had changed from the the previous two models.  It seems to be lighter and softer on the roof of the toe box but reinforced with a more durable piece around outside toe area.  Another noticeable change is the the burrito wrapped tongue.  The Pure Cadence 2 had a one-piece overlay that wrapped from the outside of the foot inward.  The Pure Cadence 3 wraps from the inside of the foot outward as shown below.  The new wrap is designed to hug the arch much better than the previous model.  This design has been used for years in soccer cleats and gives adaptable support to the arch of your foot without being overly aggressive.

Image

(Pure Cadence 3 pictured on the left)

Another noticeable change in the upper is the lacing system.  As you can see below, the Pure Cadence 3 seems to have wider eyelet spacing toward the toe box.  Also, the lacing system has the anatomical curve like the previous model, but is more centered due to the wider eyelet spacing.  I also noticed that the NAV band that wraps over the instep is made of a different elastic material than the previous models.  It is made of a thin layer of rubber where the previous models were made from elastic cloth.  When running I don’t notice the NAV Band in either model but it does give me a sense of security around that area of the foot.

Image

(Pure Cadence 2 on the left, Pure Cadence 3 on the right)

Most differences in between these models are found in the upper material. The soles of these shoes almost feel identical.  The Pure Cadence 3 is still made with Brooks’ BioMoGo DNA blended sole.  This blended foam is really what separates the Pure Project shoes from others in the minimal categories.  The responsiveness, cushioning, and durability is truly unmatched in shoes weighing a similar 9-10 oz.  the 4 mm offset makes this shoe very appealing to all types of runners including heel strikers. Most minimal shoes encourage a Mid-forefoot landing but this shoe can handle it all.  I feel that the Brooks Ideal Heel is still one of the most beneficial new technologies introduced in recent years.  For those of you that don’t know what that is, Brooks shaved the back of the heel off of the Pure Project shoes to give it a more anatomically correct design.  This forces the point of impact to occur under the heel rather than behind it like in traditional running shoes.  The tread on the outsole is still an excellent road tread and the grip works great on wet surfaces.  

Image        

Notice that the tread pattern is slightly different on the Pure Cadence 3 in that they added a stability pod on under the arch of the foot to compliment the one on the outside.  This has been added for further stability through the gait cycle. Although I usually land on my forefoot, I don’t really notice the pod while running but can slightly feel it while walking.  My arch is moderate to high and the Pure Cadence has always been a great fitting shoe for me right out of the box.  It is marketed as a stability shoe and is designed to combat over-pronation, however, I am a neutral runner that lands on my forefoot and really just love the way this shoe fits my foot.  It hugs my arch perfectly and I was pleasantly surprised that the new version fits a little better than the previous models.  

One thing I’d really like to highlight about this shoe is that I’ve never had to break in a pair of Pure Cadences and this one proves to have the same ability.  The material is soft but durable, adaptable, and light.  After wearing all three versions of this shoe I can positively say that this is the best fitting shoe of the three generations.  I also think it is the best looking.  The Pure Cadence 3 updates with fresh colors and features that are still unrivaled!  If you’re looking for a shoe that is light and can go the distance, look no further. The Pure Cadence 3 can handle it all.

 

-Michael     

 

   

 


Running for Profit

As most of you know, running is one of the fastest growing sports in the world today.  According to runningusa.org, there were over 40 million runners in the USA in 2012.  Since the year 2000, the amount of Race Finishers has nearly doubled from 8.6 million to 15.5 million in 2012.  It is no wonder that this rise in popularity has spawned an entire Running Industry that is currently booming!  At roughly $91/ pair, the running shoe industry alone generates over 3 billion dollars/year and growing.  That doesn’t include apparel, medical supplies, water belts, compression socks, rolling sticks, energy bars, gps watches, and all the other stuff that runners happily buy, and buy into.  When I began running I thought it was the most inexpensive sport in the world! Hell, all you need are some shoes, and your legs and you’re good to go right? Little did I know about all the stuff I needed and how much the race fees were going to be….

With a rise in runners comes a rise in racing events and these events generate massive amounts of money each year.  With so much green floating around these events, its no wonder there’s a real gold rush happening here.

First, I want to say that not all races are created equal. I have participated in all types of events from a Major World Marathon all the way down to your local 5k and everything in between.  The majority of the money generated from races in the US comes from Charitable organizations like the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life (over $407 Million last year) and Susan G. Komen’s Race for the cure (just under $127 million).   These races tend to generate massive amounts of people and seem to have more walkers than runners. Also most of the proceeds, if not all, go directly to these corporations.  With events as large as these, I’m skeptical as to how much of the $$$ actually goes towards research and how much goes to furthering their brand and planning for the next event. This is why I tend to stay away from these type of races.

Also, with the rise in popularity of the sport, I’m seeing more and more traveling race events popping up in our area. These touring events attract huge crowds that mention nothing about charities and usually have a gimmicky theme such as a “Zombie Run”, “Glow Run”, “Color Run” etc. and are out to do one thing, make as much money as they can.  

Earlier this year I participated in the Project Mud 5k event at the Charleston Tea Plantation.  I won a free entry from a local radio station and decided to give it a shot.  The run was actually very fun.  It’s a 5k with a several obstacles along the way and a lot of mud. I ended up winning the event.  Expecting some sort of party/ award ceremony, I was disappointed in finding vendors at the finish trying to sell us everything from beer and food to personal training and gym memberships.  It wasn’t a celebration for all of the time spent training and the hard work we just put ourselves through, it was another attempt to squeeze some more dollars out of our pockets.  The price to run these type of races are fairly expensive.  Starting at $65 months in advance, it gradually increased to $95 the day of the race!

 After the race I had to track down the event organizer and was told that I would receive $100 for finishing first and a free entry to the next Mud run.  This was also told to the first place female.  He gave me his contact info and said he would mail the check.  After sending multiple emails inquiring about the prize, I finally received my check….. FOUR months later.  The female finisher has yet to receive her check and neither of us has received an entry to the next race (which is less than a week away).  The site still hasn’t announced any involvement with a local charity.

From their website: 

Getting Dirty For a Great Cause

“Project Mud believes in giving back to the communities that we invade.  Check back soon as we will be making an official announcement regarding our charitable partner.”

Did I mention the race is 6 days away….

Last year they gave the Make-A-Wish foundation a vendor table to help promote the charity.  It happens to be one of my favorite charities because 100% of the donations go to making a child’s wish come true so I was excited to see them there.  However, I doubt that very little, if any, portion of the entry fees went to support the charity.   That could be very misleading to the runners.  It makes it look like Project Mud is supporting the Make-A-Wish Foundation when all they are actually doing is allowing them to set up a table to promote their charity.

Not all races are out to make huge profits however.  There’s a smaller market of local races organized by running clubs, local charities, or by someone raising awareness for a particular cause. These races donate the majority of the entry fees to a particular charity and tend to dominate the local scene here in Charleston. You can pretty much find several of these races any given weekend.  The race fees are usually between $20-30 and that usually includes and after party with food and drinks and an award ceremony.  These are the races I enjoy running for one reason, they’re honest. Unfortunately a lot of these races have very low runner turnouts, which means less money for the charity of choice. So why don’t these local races attract the big crowds that the traveling “for profits” do? Well, there are two reasons that stand out the most;  the smaller races don’t have any gimmicks and they tend to have lower budgets for marketing advertising.  This means they have to be much more creative to reach people.

This experience has made me much more aware of the type of races that are being promoted nowadays. I believe that its important to do a little research in choosing the race you run and ask yourself what you want your entry fee to support. Do you want it to support a local charity, your community, and enjoy a wonderful celebration with good food and friends?  Or would you rather pay more money to get color filled powder balloons thrown at your face while fattening the pockets of an out of town, corporately hired race director?

My hopes are that if more people understand that all races are not “created” equal, then more people would support the honest, local races, versus the heavily marketed “For Profit” traveling races that only continue to grow.  I will certainly be more socially conscious while choosing my future races and I hope you will too.

-Michael

   


Run to the Silver Linings

It’s been a long time since my last post and for the 10 of you who follow my blog, I sincerely hope you haven’t lost any sleep in anticipation….  My last entry was just before the Savannah Marathon LAST NOVEMBER.  Needless to say, this is long overdue.  There’s plenty of reasons why I haven’t blogged since then, I simply haven’t had much positive news to report…

After a terrible showing at the Savannah Marathon {Side Note: I went out way too fast and hit a wall around mile 14 and never recovered..the last 12 miles was the most physically painful lesson I’ve ever learned.} Where was I? Oh yeah, After a terrible showing at the Savannah Marathon, I came down with a bad case of ITBS (not to be confused with IBS).  I’ve experienced ITBS before, but never this severe.  Imagine someone driving a nail through the outside of your knee every time you try to run.  It SUCKS.

After a variety of treatments, it seemed like nothing would work.  Not Ice, not heat, not rest, not rolling, not stretching, NOTHING.  Not even a week long holiday vacation to the most beautiful island in Hawaii (Kauai) could ease the pain.  Hopeless, right?

I had to do something, I was already scheduled for my for the Charleston Marathon on January 19th only 2 weeks from my return.  I decided to downsize to the Half Marathon and knew that even running 13.1 miles would be a challenge.

Four days before the marathon I received a phone call from my mom.  It was the phone call I’d been dreading for over a year.  My Uncle Jack had lost his battle with cancer.  Uncle Jack was my Rock-n-roll mentor who always encouraged me to pursue my own musical talents.  An inspiring man, never without a smile on his face or a guitar in his hand.  It was impossible to imagine the pain he’d been through for over a year and in those final moments, but I tried to.  That thought alone gave me a new perspective on pain and suffering.  I popped some Aleve and was able to finish the Half in just under 1hr 45min and I know he was right there with me all the way to the finish. Just like his Father (my maternal Grandfather) was during the Chicago Marathon the previous year. His suffering was finally over.

The following week, I was determined to cure myself of this ITBS.  Two weeks of no running was the first prescription I’d prescribed to myself, little did I know I’d need running more than ever.

It was a phone call from my dad this time.  His father (my paternal Grandfather, Aka Papaw Wayne) was involved in a serious car accident.  It was a foggy morning and he pulled on to the road in front of an 18 wheeler.  He was in critical condition and remained in the ICU for a few days. The following week I received an e-mail from my best friend/girlfriend of over 2 years explaining that she wanted to continue on her journey without me.

My Universe was quickly falling apart and the center of it had just disappeared.

Unable to run I had to do something, a week went by and I was wasting away.  Stuck in a pitiful, “life sucks” state of mind, self medication only worsened my condition.  I thought about my Uncle Jack and his passion for country music.  He was an emotional man with the biggest heart.  This made him a wonderful country music songwriter and musician and I remembered how he used the power of music to heal.  I picked up my guitar and began to write and play again, just as he did his entire life.

The healing of my heart had begun.

A few more days went by and I called my father to check on the status of my Papaw Wayne.  “He’s leaving the hospital today.” he said.  It’s a miracle, I thought to myself.  Not many people in their 70’s could go through an accident as bad as that one and survive.  He’d had a hip replacement the week before the accident and although he was finally out of the hospital his new challenge now was to be able to walk again.  He became my physical inspiration.

The healing of my body had begun.

During my intense physical rehabilitation, I’ve had plenty of time  to reflect on my relationship with Diana. I realized how much I’d learned from her.  A woman with a wild and adventurous spirit that strives to truly experience and explore the world, to live.  A real traveler.  Wanting to understand her more, I FINALLY finished reading a book she’d left me before her trip to Micronesia.  It’s titled, “The Sex Lives of Cannibals; Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific“.  After reading the book, it was easy for me to see how the author’s perception of the world was changed and how a new perspective  was born.  A perspective that no one could truly understand without living it. She was living it.

The healing of my mind and soul had begun.

Today, a week after my 28th birthday and the eve of the 2013 Cooper River Bridge Run, I’ve never felt more at ease. After a 2 month routine combining Hip and Glute exercises, plyometrics, rest, easy running, and ALOT of reading, my ITBS is finally under control.  My legs feel fresh and my mind feels strong and although its unlikely, there’s still a tiny chance I could beat last year’s 10K PR of 41:28.  There’s a part of me that doesn’t even want to run this year’s race for time though.  I want to take in every moment.  Every smile from the crowd.  Every breath of precious air.  These past few months have been one of the most influential learning experiences of my life and I will be grateful to simply cross the finish line tomorrow.

There’s an old Gatha that reads:

If you do not cross the meadow thickly covered in weeds, You will never reach the village dusted with falling blossoms.

The center of my Universe never disappeared, it’s always been there,  I’m just learning to find it again.

-Michael

Uncle Jack


Life is Full of Surprises….

On November 3rd of this year I will hopefully be finishing my 2nd full Marathon.  I say “hopefully” because my training hasn’t exactly gone as planned.  It never does.  On October 3rd, exactly one month away from the race, I finally felt like I was in prime condition.  With only a month left of training and riding high on a good group run the night before, I set out on my Wednesday night run.  The plan was to do 8-10 miles FAST! I got off work, biked home, jumped in my brightest Brooks Nightlife gear, and took off.  I remembered to grab my driver’s license and debit card. I always carry these when I’m running a course that takes me over 4 miles away from my home. Especially at night.  I breezed through the first mile in just under 8 minutes.  During my mental checklist, I realized that I wasn’t wearing my trusty compression sock for my right ankle.  I usually wear it on longer runs to keep my peroneal tendonitis in-check.  I thought to myself, I’ll be ok, I’m on the road not trail.  Besides, I’ve run this route a million times and I know where watch my step. You can probably tell where this story is already heading.

Mile two split: 7 minutes, 10 seconds.  Man, I’m feeling good, I thought to myself. The ocean breeze is at my back and I’m running along one of the most historical places in America, the Charleston Battery.  The stars were out, the waves were breaking, and the lights were on in some of the most colorful houses in the country and I was tearing up the road with lightning speed. Mile 3 split: 6 minutes, 43 seconds.  I found my groove and decided to back off a bit and settle in to a 7 minute/ mile pace.  This is my goal marathon pace if I want to qualify for Boston. Which I do….eventually.  Everything felt great so I decided to push ahead toward East Bay St.  I usually stay on the road if I can as its flatter, but a car was heading in my direction so I jumped to the sidewalk.  I saw an opening where I could get back on the road after the car passed, so I took it.  I was turning left and jumping from sidewalk to pavement.  I mis-judged the height of the curb and planted with my outside foot (my weak ankle).  Two mistakes that proved to be devastating. I immediately felt my ankle give way to the sound that rice crispies make.  This was followed by by left knee taking the brunt of the fall and a “very manly” yell that I’m sure woke everyone in Charleston. I looked around to see if anyone had witnessed this awkwardly violent fall and too my surprise, no one saw and I still get to keep my man points. At the time I remember experiencing a lot of emotions at once.

This is the moment fear can take over.  Not fear of pain.  Not fear of how will I get home , but the fear of will I be able to race in a month?  Fear of will I be able to run in a week?  Fear of losing everything I’d worked so hard for all summer long.  All of those summer runs in 90 degree weather with 90% humidity.  All of the long runs I’d completed in the weeks prior like the half marathon, the 14 miler, the 16 miler, the 20 miler! All of those runs were now meaningless if I couldn’t bounce back from this. At that moment, I didn’t even know what “this” was, and that was the scariest part.  What did I just do to my ankle?

I could feel the swelling immediately.  I knew from previous ankle injuries to keep the shoe on to try and control the swelling.  I stood up to see if i could put any pressure on it.  I could, but only in my heel. My knee was in pain and blood dripped down to foot and stained my favorite T7 Racer’s.  It was nothing urgent, so I started walking.  I knew that there was no way that I was going to walk 3.5 miles back home so I flagged down some guys walking toward me and asked them if they minded calling a cab for me.  The dispatch needed an address he looked around and found 5 East Bay Street. If you look at the picture below, I fell just at the turn in the road by the fountain.  5 East Bay St. is the second houses down East Bay on the left.

As I was standing in front of the the large pale pink house, a car began to pull up. I asked the driver if this was 5 East Bay St. and she replied, “Yes it is, why”?  At that moment, someone from the side porch behind the driveway gate yelled, “Who are you and what happened? Are you hurt?”  I explained to them what happened and they told me to go around to the front of the house.  There, a nice woman greeted me at the bottom of the stairs, assessed the damage and went back up stairs.  While I was waiting in the foyer of one of the most expensive houses in Charleston, a middle aged man in a pink polo shirt with his collar popped walked downstairs and asked me what happened.  Bruce was his name and drinking was his game! In his old Charleston drawl, Bruce told me that he used to run…A long time ago….While shaking his head and sipping on a cocktail, he followed that statement with the word, “girls”. Just….”girls”.  Being the southern gentleman that Bruce is, he offered me a drink several times.  I and I kindly declined at first, but after several minutes of extremely awkward silence I looked at Bruce and said, ” You know what Bruce, I’ll take you up on a beer! I don’t want to be a burden, but after all, who know’s how long this cab will be right”? At that point, the kind lady returned with band Aids, hydrogen peroxide, and everything else that you would find in a first aid kit.  She doctored me up and Bruce returned with a Bud Light.  I cracked the beer, took a sip and the cab pulled up at that very moment.  I thanked them greatly for their hospitality and and told them that if they every needed any shoes to come visit me at my shop and I would take care of them.  Not wanting to be rude, I chugged the Bud Light, thanked Bruce and the kind lady again, and hobbled to the cab.

When I returned home, I immediately began to R.I.C.E. and assess the damage.  The fact that I could still put pressure on it was encouraging and I knew that running anytime the following week was completely out of the equation.  A week went by and the bruising began. I’d never seen bruising like this before as it was isolated to my outside ankle bone.  This spooked me in to going to get an x-ray.  I planned on taking a week and a half off to let it heal but wanted to make sure nothing was broken before I started running on it again.  Fortunately, the x-rays came back negative.  I had a level 2 sprain and the Doc prescribed me some anti-inflammatories. I asked him what the normal healing time was for an injury like this and he said 3-4 weeks.  I told him my situation and he replied, “You runners will ultimately do what you want to, but just take it slow and be very careful”!

The anti-inflamatories helped tremendously and I was running on it in a week and a half.  During the week and a half off I focussed on strengthening my core by doing endless push-ups, sit-ups, squats, and wall sits. I knew I would lose some speed and my goal of finishing in 3 hrs is most likely out of the equation now.  After taking it slow for a week and altering my routine by adding more rest days, I was finally ready for a long run.  I knew I had to squeeze in another one to assess the situation of my ankle and give me confidence in simply finishing 26.2 miles. With only two weeks to go, I set out on a 20+ mile run and it couldn’t have gone any smoother.  I ran an easy 22 miles in 3 hours 7 minutes and some change with no problems.  This was the result I needed and now I’m extremely confident in finishing the race. After the long run, I cut my mileage down and began to taper.  With only three small runs left this week before the Marathon, I can finally say that happy with my training results and although I realize I’m not going to get a BQ this time around, I’m definitely due for a huge PR.  My new goal is to finish with the 3:15 pace group and to crush my PR by 30 minutes.

If I could sum this roller coaster ride of summer training up in one word (other than hot), it would be “Surprised”.  Surprised that I met so many new friends in my weekly beginners running group we started at the store. Surprised that I encountered so many injuries this go around and surprised that my body was able to roll with the punches and bounce back from these injuries so quickly.  Surprised that I kept my disciplined diet even with the newly added TCBY in the shopping center I work in.  And the thing I’m mostly surprised about is the fact that I did all of this and kept my sanity without my best friend, girlfriend, and training partner, Diana by my side. After being such a catalyst in my own transformation and encouraging me to fulfill my goals and dreams, July 5th of this year, she flew around the world to Micronesia to fulfill her own goals of traveling and teaching. Even through the distance, she has been incredibly supportive and continues to surprise me from the other side of the world. Although she won’t physically be able to see me cross that finish line in a week, I know she’ll be worrying and thinking about me the whole way to the finish! Her positive thoughts and words of encouragement will be enough to push me through to the end in hopefully a “surprisingly” fast time and I’m extremely grateful to have her in my life!

On a less mushy note, I’m excited to be working with Brooks at the Expo for the Rock n Roll Savannah Marathon and I’ll be sure to send you a Run Happy Pre-race report from Savannah later this week!  Wish me luck and as always,

Run, walk, bike, drink, trick or treat and smell my stinky runners feet, debate, vote, and debate again…….happy!

-Michael

Michael’s “beer of the month”:  Bud Light…..

Yup, I never thought it would end up on my snobby beer list, but hey, “Life is full of surprises” and this bud’s for you Bruce! Thanks for the watered down refresh-ness!


Free KT Tape Anyone?

Ok folks, it has been far too long since my last entry and I apologize to my faithful followers who have been eagerly waiting a new entry.  Yes, I offer my sincerest apology to all three of you.  It’s been a busy summer and I’ve definitely had a few “blog worthy” moments, but for the sake of time (and your sanity) I’ll briefly highlight a few.

First I would like to highlight my completion of a running related Facebook page called Simply Running.  I was searching for a way to bring runners of all backgrounds together to share their experiences, expertise, and to promote their individual causes.  Also, there’s an abundance of useful info, articles, videos and anything else running related posted to the wall.  We currently have 56 likes and we’re looking for a lot more, so just visit the page and like us!  There may be something in it for you if you do it soon but I’ll get to that in a few paragraphs;)

As you may remember from my last entry (that was ages ago) I just began training for the Savannah Marathon which is on November 3rd.  Thanks to my awesome sponsor Brooks Running and the Inspire Daily program, I received a free entry and can’t wait to represent!  I’ve been training through Charleston’s suffocating heat all summer long and now that the humidity is breaking all of that training is starting to pay off.  Although I’ve encountered a few setbacks along the way, with only one month until Savannah my legs are finally beginning to feel fresh and fast again.  I tweaked my lower Calf/Achilles  a few weeks ago and have been battling Peroneal Tendonitis to this day, both of which I feel I finally have under control.  I can attribute some of that to R.I.C.E. but mostly I’ve been using KT Tape.

This stuff really works folks! I’m a believer for sure!  If applied properly, this tape can alleviate pain from an abundance of running or sports related injuries.  It works wonders on my peroneal tendonitis by keeping that tendon in place while I’m running without having the bulkiness of a compression brace.  As for my tight Calf/Achilles issue it relieved the pain immediately! I was skeptical at first until I mentioned my situation to a co-worker who was experiencing some pain in both of her Achilles from playing rugby.  She went to the store and bought a roll and I applied it for her. The results were almost instant.  She was skeptical about the tape and thought it could be just a placebo effect upon leaving work.  But not to my surprise, the next morning I was greeted with smiles and thank yous! Throw all of the Scientific Junk out the door people, this stuff WORKS!  I’m not going to get into the science of how it works, if you want to learn more about it, CLICK HERE.

In fact, I’m such a believer in this stuff that I’m going to give you a chance to try it for free! Of course you have to jump through a few hoops first, but here’s how it works:

1) Simply subscribe to my blog here at Running Haven. If you’re already following then you’re already a third of the way there!

2) Next, visit the Simply Running Facebook page and click the “Like” button

3) and lastly, leave a comment on this blog or on Simply Running’s Facebook page letting me know you’ve completed it and you will be automatically entered into a drawing for a free roll of KT Tape. A week from today (Saturday October 6th) I’ll put all of the names in my Brooks hat and pick one of you lucky winners at random and mail you a free roll!

For more info about KT Tape and all of the injuries it can help with just visit their website from the link above.  They also have YouTube videos on every application you could think of! I also want to thank fellow Brooks ID member Michael Robertson for this idea.  You can follow his blog by clicking the link under my blogroll OnceandAlways!

Thanks again for the support  everyone and good luck!

-Michael