Keeping a Positive Attitude About Running As We Age

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As with every ache and pain I've had over the last 25 years of running, I've gradually recovered from my latest injury, self inflicted about six weeks ago.

Today I ran 9.25 miles in about 1 hour, 15 minutes, pretty much without stopping - the exception being I stopped a handful of times to take photos, like the one above. 

Last week my body wasn't ready for an hour long run and I had to stop for walk breaks several times. Ten years ago that would have really bothered me. Today I've changed my outlook and acknowledge that it's ok to stop once in a while.

While I'm not racing much at all these days, I still have the drive in me to get out there and enjoy a weekend long run. The earlier, the better, to beat the heat.

I know my body well enough now to know when to stop, when to take a break, and when to go for it. Onward!

One Jump Forward, Three Steps Back - Learning Not to Do Stupid Things

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Something I don't mention much is my involvement in a local youth track and field organization. As part of that involvement, from time to time I volunteer to help at local youth track meets.

Last Saturday I worked the long jump pit at the Ventura County Youth Track Championships. Although the meets take up a large chunk of a Saturday, they are a lot of fun to watch the kids compete. Working the long jump pit makes you feel like you're part of the action.

In any case, after all of the kids were done at the long jump pit except for two that had to return to the pit after being called out for other events, there was a lull in the action.

We were joking around a bit and I came up with the brilliant idea of - hey, who wants to jump?

Sounded fun at the time. I wasn't wearing sneakers and hadn't sprinted for years or long jumped for probably 45 years.  But hey, let's see how far we can go. Why not.

So without any warmup or stretching, I ran down the long jump runway towards the long jump sand pit. Having not practiced or thought through in advance anything whatsoever, as I neared the jumping board, it dawned on me that I couldn't even remember which foot to propel myself from.

I flinched at the last minute and jumped using my left foot. My body propelled forward about as far as the 7 year olds jumped. This was not a good idea.

My flinching at the last minute caused me brief pause and, although I felt ok afterwards, the next day was a different story.

Things started out fine. I decided to run for an hour. The first 40 minutes I had no problems. But suddenly there was a sharp pain in my left calf.

As I usually do, I kept running, figuring the pain would go away (it often does). Not this time. It worsened to the point that I could not run anymore. The pain was too sharp. I was relegated to walking.

That single long jump attempt in worn down casual shoes, no warm-ups. no stretching and wearing jeans, was a dumbass move on my part.  Now I'm stuck with a new injury.

One jump forward, three steps back.

I used ice and Advil to calm the soreness. Next day I couldn't run, On Tuesday I was able to run 2 miles flat footed, but it was still sore.

I wrapped compression tape around the lower calf and it seems to help a bit. Oddly, there is no pain when I walk. The pain is only there when I run.

As with every other injury I've ever had, I will recover from this. But more importantly, perhaps this time I will learn from my own stupidity not to do things that are indeed stupid.

Today (Sunday), it felt a little better, so I attempted the same one hour loop from a week ago. I lasted about 35 minutes without much pain, when the soreness came back.  I walk/jogged home.

Ran the 10K at the 6th Annual Aut2Run 10K in Camarillo Yesterday

The 6th Annual Aut2Run 5K/10K races took place yesterday at CSU Channel Islands in Camarillo. The last time I ran a 10K with a bit number on was this same race in April 2015, when I finished in 38:56 at age 50. This was the first 10K for me since then and was not planned for – it was a decision made about 10 days prior.  

Being leery of injuring myself, I ran within my means, finishing in about 45 minutes. Yes, I lost 2 minutes per year of age from 2015 to 2018. But…I was really not prepared for an all out performance. With about 10 to 15 miles per week at a slow pace, I could not fool my body into running anywhere near the 6:17/mile pace I ran three years ago. To get close to that, I’d have to run 30 to 40 quality miles per week.

But it was fun getting out there and testing the limits of this untrained body. My friend Craig was a couple minutes ahead of me. At age 65, he’s running quite well, doing speedwork on the track one day a week along with some downhill intervals on the trails. I, on the other hand, was running on a cup of coffee and not much else.

The first mile clocked in at 6:47, close to a 42 minute pace, I had a 7 minute per mile pace in mind, which would be a 43:24 10K. It wasn’t even close.

Perhaps, just perhaps, I will start upping the ante again….subject to my body revolting on me!

2017 Annual Running Report - Low Point But Still Running

2017 marked a personal low point in my training since I started running on a regular basis in May 1993.  A series of injuries led to a total of 119 missed days of running, nearly a third of the year, in 2017.

My particular challenge this year stemmed from lower back spasms that came and went, but for an extended period in the fall escalated into pain and numbness in my left quad.

A two-week consulting project in Westwood contributed to my ailment in late August, when the combination of a long, stressful commute and sitting in a chair that was not particularly comfortable led to a blow-out back spasm. The type of spasm that kind of just takes over all aspects of your life.

The pain migrated from by lower back to my left hamstring/glute area and I decided to get a 90 minute sports massage in attempt to alleviate some of the pain.

The massage therapist worked quite hard in that area and I was hoping that would do the trick. To the contrary...the next day I developed numbness in the inside of my left quad, along with deep soreness. It was hard for me to walk, let alone run.

I thought my running days were over. For 37 days I refrained from running, not by choice, but by incapacity. 

While not running, I tried to stretch and my severely tweaked iliotibial band as much as possible and keep moving.

On September 30th, I ran 2 miles - the first time I ran since August 23rd. The inner leg near the knee was still numb to the touch, but I was able to slowly jog. I ran 3.5 miles the next day. Then I took the next six days off.

From there, the numbness slowly dissipated. But I continued to take it easy the rest of the year, running seven miles at the most.

My annual mileage was a PW (Personal Worst) of 1,233 for the year - 456 miles less than my previous PW in 2016.

However, as I write this in February 2018, I'm optimistic that my running will continue. As with every single other injury I've ever had, rest and the passage of time seems to have resolved the latest one.

It has been 4 1/2 years since I last ran a marathon. I'm actually feeling the itch to run one again...if I can get in the training.

 Yes, I'm a nerd. I've been compiling my daily mileage since I started running on May 5, 1993 on an Excel spreadsheet. I'm on row 9054 of the spreadsheet on the day I'm writing this. Apparently Excel worksheets have a capacity of 1,048,576 rows, so I will be safe using this one spreadsheet this lifetime.

Yes, I'm a nerd. I've been compiling my daily mileage since I started running on May 5, 1993 on an Excel spreadsheet. I'm on row 9054 of the spreadsheet on the day I'm writing this. Apparently Excel worksheets have a capacity of 1,048,576 rows, so I will be safe using this one spreadsheet this lifetime.

Results From the 32nd Annual Great Race of Agoura Hills on Saturday, April 1st

No one was joking around on April Fool's Day for the 32nd Annual Great Race of Agoura Hills last Saturday, April 1, 2017. The Great Race of Agoura was established in 1986 as a way to raise money for local schools.

Here are the top finishers from this year's events posted at greatrace.run.

Cheseboro Half Marathon

Men Overall: Eddie Carrillo (22) in 1:18:20, Chris Gilbert (28) in 1:19:52 and Matthew Glynn (40) 1:22:58

Women Overall: Taelor Young (24) in 1:28:32, Audrey Kroot (37) in 1:33:58 and Annie Feldman (35) of Newbury Park in 1:34:52

Pacific Half Marathon

Men Overall: Zach Withall (23) in 1:16:55, Logan Franks (30) in 1:21:57 and Mark Vishnevsky (36) in 1:24:09

Women Overall: Lindsey Carter (28) in 1:31:08, Natalie Bullock (24) of Thousand Oaks in 1:34:19 and Brienna Fouts (31) of Moorpark in 1:35:40

Old Agoura 10K 

Men Overall: Tanner Collins (23) in 34:33, Ryan Koepnick 15) in 37:30 and Paul Van Zuyle (56) of Westlake Village in 37:43

Women Overall: Naomi Bisagno (33) in 39:20, Angela Reynolds (36) in 40:40 and Julie Harding (32) of Thousand Oaks in 40:40

Deena Kastor 5K

Men Overall: Oscar Orozco (28) in 16:49, Joshua Montoya (16) of Agoura Hills in 18:04 and Brian Gaul (19) of Agoura Hills in 18:05

Women Overall: Gwendolyn Ostrosky (35) in 20:10, Valarie Tucker (32) in 20:29 and Amber Beman (33) of Agoura Hills in 21:02

Kids 1 Mile

Boys Overall: KC Barber (12) of Westlake Village in 5:53, Andrew Simon-Lacombe (12) of Westlake Village in 5:58 and Jonas Kelm (10) of Thousand Oaks in 6:09

Girls Overall: Ryan Prioleau (11) in 6:28, Lilah Zweig (11) of Oak Park in 6:51 and Olivia Parent (11) of Oak Park in 6:55

Congratulations!

Finding Bargain Priced Running Shoes Via the Web

In a recent visit to one of my favorite running shoe stores in the Conejo Valley (to be left unnamed), I noticed a trend that I did not like...nearly every pair of running shoes was in the triple digit range.

I also noticed this price trend at another one of my favorite stores to purchase running shoes, the Sketchers store. I've had decent experience with the GoRun shoes in recent years. But all of a sudden it seems the pricing on the shoes is up by $15 to $20 per pair. 

So while I purchased shoes for my son, whose feet are growing by leaps and bounds and thus ensuring a solid fit is critical, I passed on buying myself new running shoes because I'm tired of getting gouged on shoe pricing. 

Before I continue, let me just say that I still do patronize our local running shoe stores as I value their service and supporting local business. But when I find a shoe that I like, I don't want to spend $110 on them. 

Finding a bargain priced shoe on the Internet is not rocket science. Simply "Google" the name of the shoe you are looking for and you are likely to find it on clearance somewhere. Not always, but often.

In my case, I searched for Mizuno Wave Hitogami and came across the Hitogami 2 at sierratradingpost.com. Although the color of the shoe wasn't optimal (bright orange), the price was right. $49.95 for shoes that fit great on me that have a retail price of $110.

Often though, closeout deals like this have limited sizes available. I was lucky in that not only was my size available, multiple pairs were available. When I find a shoe that I like and at a bargain price, hell, why not buy 2, 3 or 4 pairs! 

So I added 3 pairs of shoes to my cart and went to the checkout, entering my information. Then, I searched for Sierra Trading Post promo codes and seconds later had a 25% off and free shipping promo code from RetailMeNot.com. That lowered the price to $37.46 per pair of shoes.

So within literally 2 minutes' time, I ordered 3 pairs of shoes that fit me well for the price of one and got free shipping to boot.

Nearly 2,800 Complete the 11th Annual Conejo Valley YMCA Turkey Day Dash

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The 11th Annual Conejo Valley YMCA Turkey Day Dash 5K took place on Thursday in frosty cool early morning temperatures under mostly blue skies at Cal Lutheran.

There were 2,784 finishers in the race, with times ranging from 15:29 to 1:16:21. I was not there but I managed to get in a 45 minute run on Thanksgiving morning.

The overall winner was 20 year old Joel Gonzalez Jr, who sped to a 15:29 time, faster than any time I've ever run a 5K in, at an average speed of 4:59 per mile. Joel was 31 seconds faster than 2nd place finishers, 26 year old Matan Mayer, who tied  with 16 year old Thomas Schauerman, in 16 minutes flat. That's actually the first time I can recall ever seeing a tie in a local 5K race results.

The top 40+ male runner was 45 year old Jeff Wells, finishing 14th overall in 17:10.

The top three overall women in the race were Jessica Barnard (25) in 18:22, followed by Maddie Geesen (17) in 18:42, then Madelyn Vorgitch (19) in 19:49.  Eleven year old Sydney Covington of Thousand Oaks had an impressive showing, running a 20:04 for 5th female and 77th overall.

The oldest runner in the entire race was 87 year old Jean Gosse of Thousand Oaks, who managed a 46:17 time. Youngster Donna Vetricek, 78, finished in 26:14, a 8:26/mile pace, good for 470th overall and in the top 10% of all females. That's a pretty damn respectable time!

The oldest male runner was 82 year young Donald Moors, finishing in 39:53 for 1664th overall, leaving over a thousand young whippersnappers in his dust.

Good to Diagnose Injuries After You've Tried to Run Through Them

After six to nine months of grappling with a nagging injury in my right knee, I finally visited an orthopedic doctor this week to determine what the problem is.

I hate going to doctors, not that I don't like doctors, but I'd prefer to save my money and time if it all possible. That strategy has generally worked for me in the past in that I've been able to "run through" injuries that go away on their own over time (with the exception that I've had positive experience battling injuries through chiropractic care).

That said, the problem with my outer right knee has not gotten any better. I  recall in the summer, when riding bikes with the kids, that the knee issue would flare up, to the point that I'd have to reduce pressure on the right leg while peddling and peddle stronger with my left leg.

Same with the running. I've been able to continue running with the nagging, sometime sharp pain in my outer right knew by focusing on running on the inner knee. Not a simple feat. But then out of the blue, the injury flares up.

Every morning when I do my run, the knee hurts as I run downhill. But after a mile or so, it gradually goes away. But then later in the day, I could be walking the dog, and once I attempt to move at more than walking pace, I feel the nagging pain, like a little LEGO character holding a dull knife and stabbing me in the knee.

The first thing they did was x-ray the knee from all angles (can't wait to see the bill). But the good news from my very smart doctor at the Southern California Orthopedic Institute in Thousand Oaks is that, mechanically, the knee looks fine. There is an appropriate amount of space between the bones, etc. 

Good. That rules out knee replacement. Whew.

What he believes it to be is iliotibial band friction syndrome, possible lateral meniscus tearing and chondromalacia (which according to the Interwebz means a problem with the cartilage under the kneecap).

So, he recommends evaluation and treatment via physical therapy. I suspect they will show me particular exercises to do that will hopefully alleviate the IT band issue and allow me to run carefree again. We shall see.

7th Annual Santa Barbara Marathon Cancelled by Organizers on October 14th

Organizers of the Santa Barbara Veterans Day Marathon and Half Marathon announced this past Wednesday, October 14th, that the 7th Annual Santa Barbara Marathon has been canceled, but the Half Marathon is still good to go.

I didn't like the way they said it "We have made the difficult decision to consolidate our events into the Half Marathon." That sounds like something a corporate PR department would say about a shutting down some company operations. Why not just say "we cancelled the marathon"  but the half marathon is still running? I don't know.

This is unfortunate to hear. It is too bad that they waited until not even a month before the event to cancel it, but that happens. Last year's full marathon garnered only 859 participants, down from 1092 in 2013 and 1375 in 2012. The year I ran it, 2009, there were 1685 finishers.  (Thank you MarathonGuide.com for making these results so easily accessible!)

 My inaugural Santa Barbara International Marathon t-shirt is still around, though getting a bit dingy.

My inaugural Santa Barbara International Marathon t-shirt is still around, though getting a bit dingy.

This is not the first local marathon to call it quits. The Malibu Marathon ditched the full marathon and retained its half marathon in 2014.

One Injury Leads to Another and to Another , Then Things Get Better

It has been 6 weeks since my last update here, a month and a half of ups, downs, more downs, now possibly thing are looking up. I hope. I think.

Once you have one injury, if you don't address it properly, it's possible it can lead to other injuries. After developing soreness in what I thought way my upper left hamstring (since debunked by my chiropractor - explained later),  I chose to keep running through the pain, which was fairly moderate, but annoying.

So I was running with a bum right knee and a sore what my chiropractor subsequently told me is my piriformis muscle. But one night, while running with my older son's cross country team, less than 10 days after my race, I decided to "open it up" a bit. I started really slow but I started to work into a groove and sped it up with another parent.

After a few miles of showing up the kids, I felt a twinge in my left calf area, kept running, then a more distinct pain that ultimately stopped me in my tracks.

My piriformis issue was still there and I was overcompensating by running on my toes more and developed a third issue.

I took some Advil, iced it quite a bit that night, and went out for a run the next morning, very slowly. And I kept doing my daily runs very slowly for several weeks. It didn't feel good, but I've run through plenty of injuries in the past.

But...that wasn't working for me this time. It got worse and worse, particularly the calf issue. So I forced myself to take off 8 straight days of running.

The 8 days ended on Monday. I ran very hesitantly on Tuesday and felt ok. Today it felt even better. Rest. Try it. It works.

So in the meantime, I still have the soreness in my piriformis muscle, a muscle that starts at the lower spine and connects to the thighbone, behind the glutes. It runs diagonally and the sciatic never muscle runs vertically beneath it.

 My Foam Roller

My Foam Roller

Today I asked my chiropractor if my hamstring stretches are good to do. I generally do the hurdler's type stretch and the standing hamstring stretch where you put your leg on a bench or something and bend toward the food. He said....NO, NO, NO. Those are not good to do and aren't even that effective.

I asked him what I should do then. Other than icing the area, one thing he mentioned was pressing a tennis ball into the area to work it a bit. I have a foam roller contraption too that I will be rolling my rear on more frequently to get the blood circulating in that area.

In the meantime, no races planned. I don't like to commit to a race when I'm running injured.