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

TurkeyDayDash2015.jpg

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.

2015 Bulldog 25K Race on August 22nd Was Fun But I Just Quite Missed My Goal

The sign indicating you are about to encounter pain :)

The sign indicating you are about to encounter pain :)

Having run the Bulldog 25K (and previously 30K) race in Malibu Creek State Park half a dozen times, I must be a glutton for pain coming back for a 7th time on August 22nd. 

The course is one of the most challenging around town, with over 4,000 feet of elevation climb over 15 1/2 miles, including cresting the 2,528 Bulldog peak and dealing with the relentless downhills after reaching the top.

Having not raced particularly much this past year, I hadn't given much thought to doing Bulldog again this year, until I bit the bullet and registered on July 31st. That's not a lot of time to prepare for a tough 25K, but I was pleased to be running fairly injury free for several months and had run (as much as you can run) up Boney Mountain a couple times. I also ran the Bulldog course a couple time slowly, just to gauge the distance. 

Ultimately what prompted me to sign up was that I looked at the course records for the race at trailrunevents.com/bd and noticed that the age group record for my elderly 50 to 54 age group category seemed a bit light at 2:05 and change. I could beat that and get my name forever emblazoned on the Internet, I thought. I ran a 2:02 at age 49, so I figured I could get close.

For months however, my latest ailment is a right knee that has been problematic mostly the first few miles of the morning run. Could be a meniscal tear or something, but it has been on and off for many months. Sure enough, it got worse. Pretty much the day after I signed up for Bulldog, parting ways with $100.

As it got worse, I finally started wearing a patella knee support strap under the knee, which helped me continue running as I decided to see if it would go away on its own, like most ailments do. I noticed it seemed to get worse when I was riding bikes with my kids. Old age can really suck sometimes!

So in any case, the weekend before Bulldog, I go on a road trip to San Diego with my youngest, to see both the San Diego Zoo and the Safari Park on back to back days.  It was fun indeed, but my knee pain was escalating, so I couldn't run at all. 

My 9 year old wanted to work out in the hotel gym. I was overseeing him for a bit, then he wanted to jog on the treadmill (which was a complete surprise to me because he has never shown an interest in gyms or treadmills). So I decide, knee brace on, to try the elliptical machine as an alternative to running.

ROOKIE MISTAKE! Only problem is, I'm not a rookie! I'm a veteran! But veterans make mistakes too.  At least in my case.

I could have ellipticaled (or whatever you call it when you use that machine) for 10 minutes or so, but NOOoooo, I decide to go for FIVE MILES on that machine. Stooopid move.

I got off the machine and my legs felt numb, like I was walking on air. But not in a good way. I was going pretty hard on the machine too.

Sure enough. next day, my left ass cheek was sore. Quite sore. Like ran a marathon yesterday sore. And it stayed sore the entire week. Just the left side, not the right, I think because I was overcompensating for my bum right knee.

A little Advil and Aleve gave some temporary relief, but the entire week I felt that soreness and knew that I made a mistake that can't be undone.

The soreness was not as bad on race day, but it was also tight. I was hoping for a miracle and that it would suddenly "open up" for the race. Not that I was running badly or anything. I ran well, But the stiffness in the upper hamstring area impeded my stride, it seemed mostly on the (rare) flat sections of the course and the downhill. Not to mention, I was wearing my right knee brace, but my downhill was slightly impacted by my right knee problem.

So in any case, I gave it my best shot and finished in a respectable 2:06:25, goof for 12th place overall.  I was not far off my race goal, so I'm happy about the performance overall.

The first place woman, 30 year old Caitlin Jacobsen, blew past me mid-way into the freefall descent portion of the race, where you drop roughly 1,500 feet over about 2 1/2 miles. It is brutal as always. I could not keep up with her, but I kept her in my sites, finishing 34 seconds behind her. She ran quite a strong race.

So I looked at the course records again as I typed this and notice that the 5 year age groups have been changed to 10 year age groups.  The 10 year record is 2:02:40, a formidable time on that course run by 56 year old Ron Paquette last year. He ran another awesome time this year at age 57 - a 2:03:29 - good for 8th overall. Kudos to him! 

So, next year, next race, whenever it is, I'll be putting a Post-It on my running shoes that says "Don't Do Something Stupid!" 

Felt Good at Today's 3rd Annual Aut2Run 10K at CSU Channel Islands

Today I ventured down the Potrero Grade to CSU Channel Islands to run the 3rd Annual Aut2Run 10K in support of the Autism Society of Ventura County.

This was my first completed race since the 2nd Annual Aut2Run 10K last year. My training has consisted of daily runs, but nothing fast or fancy, about 30 to 40 miles per week, mostly slow and unfocused.

It was fun to get out there today with no set expectations in mind, other than to give it a solid go and try to run a smart race. Last year I finished 3rd overall in 37:55, a time that reflected the fact that I was running with some 11-12 year old kids one day a week on the track. This year I managed a 38:56, which I was happy with given my training and my advanced age (I reached my 2nd half century of life subsequent to running last year's race).

In the posted race results, my time shows me at 4th place overall, but behind a 48 year old woman from Moorpark. Unless my advanced age has created senility, I know for 100% fact that that person in front of me in 3rd place was not 48 years old, nor a woman, but perhaps a 24 year old male over six feet tall. I know that quite well as he trailed me for several miles early in the race, before pushing ahead and leaving me in the dust on this part-trail run, though I had him in my sights the remainder of the race.

This is a well managed race and STARTED ON TIME. That's always a positive sign when race organizers, who have a challenging job managing any race, can nail that. Although I live only about 5 miles away from the race, I managed to barely drag myself out of bed and down the hill to reach the starting line with about 4 minutes to spare.

As the starter said "Go," the standard adrenaline-induced sprint took place, leaving me in about 40th position at the first turn. Having run hundreds of local 5K/10K runs over the years and finishing 3rd place last year, I smiled, knowing, all these sprinters would provide me some target practice over the next few miles. It only took about mile and a half to settle things out, where I landed in about 4th or 5th position for the remainder of the race.

This 10K is pretty much flat the entire way, though the 2 miles of dirt surfaces near the Scary Dairy along with a couple short hills provided for very brief challenges. Mile 5 is a very slight downhill on Camarillo Street. I tried to pour it on over that stretch, but when you're not used to running fast, it's hard to do so as you fear your body could implode. I was able to pass a youngster half my age who was running in, yes, a lab coat. I joked with him that he was doing the elderly (i.e. me) a favor running in that coat and that they should deduct a minute of his time for it. He laughed and we pushed on to the finish.

The winner of the race was Steve Cox of Newbury Park, who finished in a speedy 36:35. Steve is 18 years younger than me, so I figure, he would run 10 seconds per year slower over those 18 years, or 3 additional minutes, resulting in a 39:35, so I would have beat him, heh heh. Yes, one can become quite delusional once they reach age 50. Nice job, Steve!

A great race it is and an outstanding resource onsite with a number of autism and special needs organizations. Learn more at www.aut2run.org and the Autism Society Ventura County site at www.autismventura.org.

Top Finishers at the 30th Annual Great Race of Agoura on March 28th

The 30th Annual Great Race of Agoura Hills took place on Saturday, March 28, 2015. I once again did not participate in this event due to my kid's sports activities but thousands of folks participated that day.

Top finishers by race:

Cheseboro Half Marathon (Males):

  • Matthew Gulden of Simi Valley 1:17:16
  • Chris Gilbert of Oxnard 1:18:53
  • Keith Yanov of Culver City 1:22:35

Cheseboro Half Marathon (Females):

  • Anika Busby of Newbury Park 1:30:05
  • Anissa Faulkner of Ojai 1:33:29
  • Stephanie Martinez of Canyon Country 1:35:15

Pacific Half Marathon (Males):

  • Sergio Reyes of Palmdale 1:12:26
  • Justin Neems of Torrance 1:19:29
  • Peter Farb of Torrance 1:26:08

Pacific Half Marathon (Females):

  • Natalie Bullock of Thousand Oaks 1:30:50
  • Lindsey Carter of Newport Beach 1:34:06
  • Elizabeth Lluch of Agoura Hills 1:37:00 (wow at age 53!)

Old Agoura 10K (Males):

  • Justin Patananan of Palmdale 32:20
  • Bryant Christine of Thousand Oaks 37:31
  • Lucas Miranda of Valencia 38:03

Old Agoura 10K (Females):

  • Amanda Rice of Oxnard 38:59
  • Maggie Shearer of Newbury Park 39:34
  • Heather Worden of Lancaster 41:31

Deena Kastor 5K (Males):

  • Josh Pattiz of Agoura 17:38
  • Mike Dib 17:53
  • Austin Gilbert of Oak Park 18:29

Deena Kastor 5K (Females):

  • Mayte Pacheco of Moorpark 18:13 (age 16!)
  • Sarah Shulze of Oak Park 18:38 (age 14!!!)
  • Rebecca Schultz of Westlake Village 19:09 (age 13!!!!!)

Nicely done! Next year's 31st Annual event is set for Sunday, March 19, 2016. Visit greatraceofagoura.com to sign up!