Thursday, May 30, 2019

Summertime running is tough . . .

. . .  especially tough on an old man trying to build back his endurance!

For awhile I tried to run in the heat of the day thinking this would add stress and thus increase the effort.  But the heat won and now I'm trying to get my runs in during the mornings before the real heat blasts in!

I can see some nice improvements in both my pace and my heart rate.  Plus I just feel better and have way more energy during the day!

Pace wise there are improvements but not all that impressive to me.  Starting back my pace was about a 15:30 and I was only going a mile or so.  Now I'm averaging a 14:00 pace for 3-4 miles.  That's about a 10% improvement in pace for a longer run.  So I'm feeling okay about that!  I haven't decided if I'm start trying to add a long run in once a week or not.  Right now my longest run has been about 5 miles.

Heart rate is interesting and I'm encouraged here.  I have always watched my resting heart rate as an important fitness indicator.  I'm no expert about this and I've never really talked with my doctors about it either.  But during several of my surgeries, the surgeons commented on my low heart rate as if that was a positive thing!  Most memorable was when I has having retina surgery at Duke they kept me awake for a large portion of the surgery so they could ask me questions about what I could and couldn't see.  I remember alarms kept going off frequently as my heart rate was slow enough to set off the alarm.  Finally, the surgeon asked the anesthesiologist to "shut off that damn alarm . . .we know he has a really low heart rate!  He runs marathons!"

So starting back running again my resting heart rate was around 54 or so.  I knew my fitness was not good but this was a real surprise and motivating factor.  Now that resting heart rate has dropped to an average of around 48 and several days it has a 43.  A far cry from my past 36-39 averages but getting there!

Additionally, my weight is coming off.  Slowly of course.  Every thing I do seems to be slow!  . . . but that's okay!  When I started back running my weight was a whopping 239 pounds!  Most I've EVER weighed!  Today it down to 221 and my goal is to get my weight down to around 210 . . . and stay there!

What isn't really improving is by breathing.  At the first of my runs I can run about .3 of a mile until my heart rate hit about 135 and I'm past aerobic and into the anaerobic zone!  So I walk until my heart rate drops to about 110 and then start running again.  By the end of my run my running interval is probably .1 of a mile!  I think I'm going to start today measuring how long I can run that fist interval.  That might be a good measure to watch.  (UPDATE: The answer is 1.33 miles before I walked.  But it kicked my butt!)

Hip-wise things are generally doing great!  The only issue I'm having is lifting my knee while I'm sitting.  Movements like putting on shoes and socks or getting into a car simply hurt like holy hell!  It's nit the bones or the joint . . . it's muscle or tendon pain!  My surgeon suggested exercising it specifically but the pain is WAY too much to do that!  I'm visiting him tomorrow to see if he can inject me or something.  But this pain does NOT affect me walking or running at all!  My hip feels GREAT!

Anyway . . . I'm improving and things seem to be heading is a positive direction!!

Monday, May 13, 2019

Damn I'm good!!

Okay . . . that a HUGE overstatement!

But I am pretty pleased with my first 5k coming back!  So let me brag a bit!!

Leading in to this first 5k my average pace has topped at 14:15 per mile.  I've been trying to keep my efforts controlled.  I'm keeping my heart rate less than 135 and generally taking it fairly easy!  I figure I have a long, long time to build my strength back.  So I'm talking it slow and easy.

But at the Mill 5k I decided to push it.  Not crazy pushing it . . . but giving it a good go!

Results . . . I average about a 13:00 minute mile!  I admit this is still a VERY slow pace!  But to me I was screaming fast!!  Okay . . . so I just improved some!  But you have to celebrate your accomplishments as you can!!

Honestly I just really happy to be running some again!

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Coming back! Slowly . . .

It's not surprising that my running progress is slow.  SLOW is the word most used to describe me! (I'm hoping that is used to describe my running but I'm not really so sure of that!)

Most people of average physical condition when walking purposefully can walk at around a 20 minutes per mile pace . . . 3 miles per hour.  Maybe a little slower when going uphill and a tad faster going down.  Sounds easy but to keep that up for 4-6 hours it's not a cupcake walk.

I've been "training" now since March 15th . . . about 7 1/2 weeks!  I started out running at a pace of about 15:30 per miles.  Running some and walking some but trying hard.  After running several minutes I'm running out of wind and just need to walk to recuperate.

Since I started back I have improved!  As the weather warms I'm trying to balance between the cool times of the day and the hottest time . . . and that makes a HUGE difference!  Those hot temps just plain kick my ass!!  But I'm thinking I benefit from these runs as much as the cool, faster runs.

Guess I should have put the word "faster" in quotes!!  I did a 3.1 mile run in cool temps at a 14:18 pace.  Definitely an improvement but not as big of an increase as I would have hoped.

It's weird!  A big part of me just plain doesn't care!  I'm getting more healthy.

  • I'm losing some weight which had become a primary reason I started back. Sill a long way to go to get to my target but I'm seeing progress!
  • I seem to have more energy.  I had become lethargic.  Just couldn't muster the desire to do many of the things I really needed to do.  I'm really glad this is improving! 
  • My resting heart rate had increased.  Finally it's getting back into the 40s and I'm pretty sure it should get back to my "normal" high 30s and low 40s.
  • I am able to run more in relation to my walking!  That is also improving but I still can't run a mile before I need to walk!
But . . . as a runner I do look to speed and endurance improvements to measure my progress.  And that is lagging what I had expected!
  • I thought that by this time I could run a mile without walking.
  • I had hoped I could average a 12:XX pace for 3 miles.
  • I need to be adding in at least one long run a week . . . maybe more.  But that just isn't happening yet.
  • I'm finding I'm totally out of breath when my heart rate hits about 130.  Hoping that will increase!  But the end of my runs that 130 comes pretty fast!
But overall . . . I'm in a way better place!  Really feeling good about running again and looking forward to I'm not sure what!!!

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Regrets? I'm not sure . . . but a few things I wish I had done.

We're talking running here!

Not going to be thinking about all those things in life that I wish I had chosen differently!  For sure I've made some really bad choices in my life and would like a chance to go back and try again!  Hopefully I would choose differently.  BUT . . . that said I am who I am based on all the things I've done up to this point, so if I changed those bad decisions into better decisions I wouldn't be who I am.

Okay . . . that's a rabbit hole I don't want to go down!  At least on this blog.

No . . . I'm focusing on my running here.  I started in 1974 I believe.  For the life of me I can't really remember for sure but it was 2-3 years before I got married and that was in 1977.  So 1974 is a pretty good guess.  So 45 years of running.  Well . . . that's not exactly right!  There were plenty of times I stopped running. Some breaks were due to injuries and some times where life just got in the way, and some times for sheer laziness!  But I'm not going to worry about those details!  I've been a runner for 45 years!!

One early choice I made was that I figured out that I got way more satisfaction from running a longer distance than I got from running something fast.  For years I was focused on trying to run fast 5k and 10k races.  But I found I got a huge personal satisfaction from running a race that I wasn't sure I could even finish!  My first marathon back in the 1980s I actually cried when I finished!  I had worked so hard and had suffered to accomplish that 26.2 miles!!  I was proud of myself.  And that feeling was way stronger that any feeling I got from running a "fast" 5k.  So that choice took me in a very different direction in my running life.

Probably the most critical running choice I made was in 2005.

I had suffered from some serious knee issues and chose to follow doctors' advice.  Trying surgery, PT, and finally trying "no running" at all.  Things had just gotten worse and worse and worse.  I had trouble simply walking around casually!  Until by accident in 2004 I found something that started making my knees feel better.  And I really worked hard at this crazy "something" and it started paying off!  My orthopedic doctor told me I was crazy and that what I was doing had no chance of working!  But it did work!  And in 2005 I trained and finally ran a "Return to Running Marathon" . . . the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach.

I was "over-the-moon" with my newly found return to running and ended up doing quite a few more marathons that year.

And it was at one of these marathons that I made the choice that I'm talking about here!!  I went up to NW West Virginia and ran the Ridge Runner Marathon.  I had already run several marathons that spring and I was tired and decided to just take it easy on this marathon.  I decided to take a camera with me and shoot a bunch of pictures of things I saw and people I met along the way.  This choice has made all the difference and I knew it right after I finished that race!

  1. First - (and most importantly) I had fun!  It was a blast just not worrying about my time . . . just running along at any pace that felt good at that time!!  And I recovered within a day or two!!  This was a life changer!!
  2. Second - I loved looking back at the pictures I took and having those pictures to  help me recall details about the race.

So these two things totally changed my running from that point on!  Later I did have to start worrying about my running pace at some races where there were time cut-offs to be an official finisher for the race.  Honestly . . . I started HATING races with cut-offs . . . it just took all the fun away for me.

But I do I have any regrets?  Not many . . . but a few!

  1. I had a goal of running a sub-20 5k.  I trained hard and I ran hard but I never was successful!  The frustrating part is that I got soooooo close three separate times!!  I had three 20:01 finishes!!!  So close!  I kept thinking I would finally do a 19:?? but it never happened.
  2. My first marathon DNF haunts me.  The Leadville Trail Marathon.  This was one of the toughest marathons I ever entered!  The races started at 10,000 in elevation!  Climbed up to about 12,500, dropped to 11,000 feet and the climbed up to 13,185 feet at mile 13.1!  Then, you turn around and run back!!  I got to mile 20 and felt great!  But climbing that 13,000 bugger had really taken it out of me and the trail up was all loose rock . . . some big chunks and a ton of medium rocks.  And it was the most insecure footing I had every run on and my knees weren't all that good.  So I had come down the mountain slow and easy and found that I had missed the 20 mile cutoff by 4 minutes.  They had a van there and insisted I had to stop.  So I did.  But in hindsight I wish I had simply given them my race bib and continued on to an "unofficial" finish.  I think about that race and my choice often . . .
  3. The Bloody 11w race was my first successful 100 mile race!  BUT there is a catch.  The full race was 111 miles but they had the option to stop at 100 for what they called their "Fun Run."  Even when I started the race I only intended to run 100 miles and not the full 111 miles.  But in hindsight I know I could have gone the additional 11 miles and finished the whole race.  I've wanted to go back and do it again . . . and finish 111 miles!
  4. The Last Annual Volunteer State Road Race.  To ultra runners almost 100% know all about this beast of a race!  314 miles of fun starting in Missouri, into Kentucky, then diagonally across Tennessee and into Georgia for the finish!  It's an adventure race with no aid stations and run in July!!!  Heat and humidity is guaranteed!  I was signed up for this race when I had my foot accident.  So I never got my chance to fail!! This race has a daily cut-off time.  When the race starts the "Oprah" starts running and she finishes exactly 31.1 miles every 24 hours.  To be allowed to continue on each day you must be ahead of "Oprah."  If you fail to maintain that pace you are pulled from the race . . . no chance to try and catch up the next day!
So these four things haunt me.  The first two are totally "water under the bridge."

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Damn . . .

Yesterday I did my longest run to date!  A whopping 4.2 miles!!

It was fairly hot (80° +) and sunny.  Plus, I was on the Canal Trail in Roanoke Rapids so there were quite a few short ups and downs but nothing really significant!  That was a good increase in distance for me and I can feel it today with some muscle soreness.

That was the good news!

The not-so-good news is that  it took me 1:08:45 to do it!!  That's a 16:20 pace!!  Damn!  That is just barely faster than walking but I using my heart rate to set my intervals . . . 135 and I started walking and started running again when it dropped to 110.  As expected, as the "run" progressed, the time running reduced and the time walking increased but I still felt like I ran a bunch!!  Kind of depressing really!

I'm not sure why I was disappointed!  I mean what should I really expect?  I've only been back running a little over a month.  And when I started back,  a 1 mile run was PLENTY!!  I just have to keep on pluggin' away at it!  It's not like I have any goal or anything except to get in better shape and I can see that is happening!

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Back at it again . . .

It's been awhile!

And this may not last all that long.  But I'm trying to "run" again.  I put the word "run" in quotes 'cause many would suggest that I'm not running at all!  At best I've got a slow "jog" going on between walks!

No need to recount all the injuries I've been dealing with for the last several years.  Primarily foot and hip issues.  And while neither is anywhere close to 100%, I'm thinking both are close enough to give this a try!

For the last 3 years all I've really done is walk for my exercise . . . primarily while playing golf.  A little over 6 miles a round averaging two days a week.  Not much really but it is something.  After 18 holes I'm really tired and my joints just sort of "freeze up" like after a really long run!

Of more concern, my weight was slowing inching up to my all-time heaviest . . . almost 240 pounds!  And I just didn't feel all that good.  Yard work wore me out!  Getting down on the floor and then standing back up was real effort!!  Helping out my dog do the things she needs me to do even takes significant effort.

I needed a change.

My hip surgeon advises that I not run anymore.  He says he knows that he has hip replacement patients that do run but he believes they will wear their new joint out early.  And replacing a hip replacement is not all that much fun according to him!  He says if he had a hip replacement, he wouldn't run.  But I have a friend that had a hip replacement years ago and she runs every day.  I'm sure the conservative approach would be to extend walking and increase that walking pace.

But here is what I'm thinking -  I'm almost 69 years old and my overall health is excellent.  Heart is strong, blood chemistry is excellent.  No issues at all except kidney stones and joints!  I'm thinking if I keep doing what I was doing, my weight would continue to slowly climb, my heart would be stressed in a not so good way (due to the increased body weight) and the downhill spiral would do nothing but accelerate.  And my hip surgeon has never seen me actually "run."  When I'm running, I don't believe there is any more "pounding" than when I walk.  I'm pretty sure when I'm running I always have contact with the ground . . . more of a glide!  Not sure what I do qualifies as a "run!"

I do "get it" though.  If I return to running, my hip may well give out early.  I'm hearing most hip replacements last 15-20 years.  If running reduces that 20% then I should be able to get 12-16 years.  That would take me to age 81-85.  And my quality of life during those years should be pretty darn good!  Plus, the estimates of how long a replacement should last is looking at hip replacements done 15-20 years ago!  I'm betting that new hip joint parts made these days will outlast those made years ago!  And if I do wear mine out . . .I can always try a new replacement . . . by then that procedure might be even better!

Maybe my logic and assumptions are wrong.  IDK.  But I do feel like my current course will lead to a better quality of life for me.  But of course we all know: "If Papa ain't happy . . . nobody cares!!"  Hahaha!

So . . . how is the running coming along you ask?  

"Slow but sure" about sums it up.  But with my blog's name would you guess any different?

My first outing was March 15th and I "ran" for 16 minutes 34 seconds covering a whopping 1.07 miles!  That equates to a 15:31 pace.  Since then I've covered just over 37 miles and I'm now averaging a pace of about 13:45.  So that is some nice progress.  I'm only covering 3-4 miles per run and I believe I'll hold that distance for awhile.  The last thing I want to do is to come back too fast . . . the risk of set-back is just not worth the risk.

My hip and foot pain is usually very minor.  Only one day did my hip hurt enough that I turned around after 1/4 mile and walked back home!  On most runs the pain level is around 1 to maybe 2 sometimes.

Most of my "running" has been in my neighborhood on our roads.  While I've always loved trail running, I'm afraid the trip risk is just too great.  I did do one run at the Roanoke Rapids Canal Trail which really isn't much of a trail . . . no single-track and wide, smooth surface for the most part.  That worked out okay and I'll likely do that every so often.


Really, I don't have any except being able to run some and improve my fitness.  I have signed up for a 5k coming up in April and I guess my goal there will be to not finish last.  But honestly . . . I don't care if I do end up dead last.  I've been DFL many times!

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Littleton, North Carolina
World's Slowest Runner . . . well, at least in contention for the honor. Just your average "below average" runner.