Sunday, December 20, 2009

LiveSTRONG Seattle Marathon training week 4 - time for Plan B

Hello everyone!  I hope that you are all having a great lead-up toward Christmas.  Around here, we have most of our Christmas shopping done, and most of the presents are already wrapped and under the tree (or sent in the mail).

While it was a good week from the Christmas preparation side, it was by no means a good week training-wise.  This was my first zero week in a long time... zero runs, zero rides, not even a good walk (unless you count wandering around the mall for an hour and a half yesterday).  Not only was the hip acting up most of the week, but some aches in the right quad (same side as the hip) were flaring up pretty bad.  The only positive fitness thing was that I got in a solid 4 days of stretching this week.  Stretching for a runner is important, but when dealing with hip dysplasia, keeping a good level of flexibility is not only important to stay pain-free but also to limit the amount of damage that running will do to the hip socket.

There was supposed to be a long run yesterday, and that didn't happen.  And honestly, I'm coming to grip with the fact that an ultra-marathon is not going to happen, at least in the next 6 months.  It's going to take some time to adjust my training to deal with this biomechanical burden, and I want to make sure I don't injury myself - either for the Seattle Rock N Roll marathon or for the 50+ more years I hope to get with my current hip.  So the race schedule now reads:

Now what it boils down to is 1) getting the trainer set up and start getting some good fitness minutes on the bike; 2) learning what my body can endure for marathon training, even if it's going back to the one-run-per-week-plus-massive-amounts-of-crosstraining schedule that got me through the 2007 Portland Marathon; and 3) continuing to work on flexibility and core strength to protect my hip as much as possible.

In related news, I ran across a blog from author / athlete / coach Martin Dugard that really resonated with me.  Right now, it seems that entry (titled "Lactate Threshold") has disappeared from his blog, but he essentially talked about how he didn't seem to be satisfied unless he has some nearly-impossible, challenging, bizarre fitness/racing goal.  And how he let other facets of his life suffer (especially his family) in pursuit of those dreams.  So maybe, just maybe, this hip issue is a blessing in disguise, and a good excuse to scale back and focus on the things that are more important....

Speaking of importance, yes, we were touched by two more cancer stories this week.  Another extended family member is battling prostate cancer, and it's not clear how far it has progressed.  And a colleague of my wife is in terminal stage bone cancer, which comes with a lot of pain.  Add this to the relative with Hodgkin's, a high school classmate with pancreatic cancer, and a former student of my wife's with brain cancer, and you just can't help but hate this disease.  I'm not only looking forward to contributing to the fight through Team LiveSTRONG, but I'm starting to wonder if there aren't other ways I should figure out how to help.  Food for thought for now.

Until next week and always, onward...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

LiveSTRONG Seattle Marathon training week 3 - one more reason

Hi everyone - another week of running is in the books, and it was a second tough week of training in a row.  The week started out fine with a 4.02 mile run in 36:28 on Sunday.  Monday was a busy day at work, and with my new hip dysplasia diagnosis, I figured running every other day for a while - until I learn to listen to my body a bit more - wasn't an unreasonable approach.  However, Tuesday I started feeling run down.  Another rest day, this one unplanned.  Then when I woke up Wednesday morning, the dreaded fever - 100+.  No running for me.

As it turns out, I basically lost the middle of my week, from both running and work, due to a sinus infection.  And for those of you who are "knowledge workers", I highly suggest not attending conference calls and trying to sound intelligent when you're running a fever and taking sinus medicine!  Fortunately the infection finally passed, and Saturday afternoon I finally got back on track with a 4 mile run in a leisurely 37:44.  Not a great pace, but I'll take it.  So now the total for the week ended up being 8.02 miles in 1:14:12.

Ultra training resumes next week, with a planned 21 mile (or 3.5 hour) long run.  Yes, that's right - as of right now, I'm still training for the Hagg Lake 50k despite the hip.  I'm going to see how the longer runs go, and if they give me problems, I'll drop the goal of an ultra.  But I suspect this will be my one-and-only ultra if I do make it, because I don't feel like I really need a hip replacement when I'm 50.  And after the Seattle RnR marathon, I'll have to re-evaluate running marathons as a hobby.  But even if I drop that from the repertoire, there's always 5ks, 10ks, half marathons and even triathlons out there.

As for Seattle, the support has been good - I've gotten both encouragement from many of you as well as donations from some of you, which I really appreciate!  Of course, the most impressive fundraising I saw this week was from the supporters of Fat Cyclist (aka Team Fatty).  If you don't know about him, check out is site... and definitely check out the links regarding his most recent fundraising challenge here, here, here and here.  And no, I'm not going to be able to give away a bicycle or a trip to France as part of my fundraising... but if you have any good ideas on giveaways (or something to donate other than $$$ which might help encourage others to donate), please let me know!

Now in case some of you are wondering about the title of this blog entry.  Yesterday (yes, within the last 24 hours), I've learned that a member of my extended family has just been diagnosed with what is likely Hodgkins' disease.  Hodgkins is a cancer of the lymphatic system, and even in advanced stages, it has a good survival rate.  Right now, there's still no word on a prognosis - but obviously the fight against cancer is something that touches everyone, and usually in more than one way.  In fact, right now my wife and I know three people battling three different types of cancer.  That's why support to various cancer research and support programs are so important.  So even if you don't donate to my Team LiveSTRONG effort, please consider supporting the fight in some other way!

Until next time.... onward. 

Sunday, December 6, 2009

LiveSTRONG Seattle Marathon training week 2 - a week of challenges

As promised, a big event announcement this week - which you can probably figure out from the title.  More on that in a bit - or if you want to cut right to the chase, go down to the last third of this post.  But first, the week in review.

Training-wise, it was an off week.  It started out well with a second rest day on Sunday (I ran long on Friday and have decided that my body likes two rest days after any 15+ mile run), and then a nice 4-miler on Monday.  The calves were a bit tight still from the long run, but I did get in 4.09 miles in 38:14.  Then the business trip.  A few days in Arizona for group face-to-face meetings (planning for 2010), which should have been conducive to running.  But between the late evenings (we had to keep Asia-friendly times since one of our group members was still calling in from Malaysia) and all the other meetings, I was only able to get in one run.  A nice peppy 3.11 miles in 26:57.

Unfortunately, I caught one of those "traveler's colds", where you come back with the sniffles and sinus issues, so I took it easy on Friday and Saturday.  But all things equal, I wasn't too disappointed with the weekly total of 7.20 miles in 1:05:11, considering the busy-ness of the business trip.

Friday gave the biggest challenge of all, though.  For all of my adult life, my right hip socket has felt a little tight, a little stiff.  But lately (the past 6-12 months), I've had some soreness in the lower back, glutes and side of the hip.  Sure, it could have been poor posture causing lower back pains and IT band issues - but with the chronic hip tightness, I decided to get it checked out at the Orthopedic & Fracture Clinic (if you're in the Portland area, this is the place to go for sports injuries!).  What the x-rays showed wasn't too surprising: mild dysplasia of the right hip.  For those of you that aren't familiar with it, it means the joint is malformed.  Maybe from birth, maybe a developmental defect during the growing years.  In either case, the hip bone isn't deep enough, and the end of the leg bone puts extra pressure on it.  Right now, I've probably got just mild irritation.  But eventually, it can lead to a torn labrum, osteoarthritis, or enough degeneration to warrant a hip replacement.

A = good hip; B = dysplasia
(borrowed from Wikipedia)

So.... now I need to learn more about this to find out what it means for my running "career".  The doctor said that as long is it doesn't hurt, I can keep running.  And for now, when it does hurt, I can just take time off until it doesn't hurt anymore.  But in the longer term, I need to look at the big picture - do I really want to have a hip replacement when I'm 60 or 70?  And the funny thing is, there aren't a lot of resources on the internet to educate myself about adult hip dysplasia.  There are tons of resources about hip dysplasia in dogs, and WebMD has great resources - if you're an infant.  Mayo Clinic also has great resources - if you suffer from dwarfism.  So far, the best resources I've found are on HowStuffWorks.  Apparently it's not just for mechanical and electronic stuff. :)  But if you have some resources on adult hip dysplasia, please let me know - I definitely need to learn all that I can.

Finding out that I have a condition that may significantly worsen by the pounding of running long distances has put my 2010 race schedule into question.  Three weeks ago, what I had planned to run/swim/ride was:

  • January: ORRC Y2K10 20.10k
  • February: ORRC Hagg Lake 50k
  • May: Eugene Marathon
  • August: HulaMan half-Ironman or Portland Century ride
  • October: Portland Marathon

But two weeks ago, I was accepted to be part of Team LiveSTRONG.  Specifically, to run the 2010 Seattle Rock N Roll Marathon to help raise funding for the Lance Armstrong Foundation.  For those of you that don't know about the LAF, they provide support, resources and inspiration for those battling cancer as well as survivors.  The LAF is a great organization, and I encourage you to donate - whether you "sponsor" me and help me reach and surpass my goal of raising $1000 for the Seattle Marathon, or whether you find another way to contribute.

Now, based upon my medical diagnosis and my participation in Team LiveSTRONG, my race schedule looks more like:

  • January: ORRC Y2K10 20.10k ??? - maybe run the 10k?
  • February: ORRC Hagg Lake 50k ????? - really have to think about whether this is a good idea
  • June: Seattle Rock N Roll Marathon! - even if I have to walk it!
  • August: HulaMan half-Ironman or Portland Century ride xxxx - not very likely
  • October: Portland Marathon ??? - we'll see

This leaves me with some thinking to do, exactly how I want to approach training in the future.  Maybe become a cyclist like my uncle?  Maybe stick with marathoning but keep things flexible and listen carefully to what my body is telling me?  Something in between?  In any case, I now have a great objective for June with Team LiveSTRONG.  And I strongly encourage you to visit my page and donate.

Now it's time to get in a nice easy run and hopefully start out a good (but not overdone) week of training... Onward!