Running Injury? A Minor Inconvenience

2021 IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA TRAINING

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WEEK 7 – April 18, 2021

I was giving some thought to how I was training for the race this time around and how I was approaching it. This being my fifth time using the Be Iron Fit training plan I follow, I have followed it a little differently each time. The first time around I followed it to a “T,” doing the prescribed workouts almost exactly as written. Same with the second time three years later, although I started doing less of the written swim workouts and more straight swimming instead. By the third time using the plan, I had it dialed in. I had learned what was working for me and what wasn’t. I was also now starting to tailor the plan for the course I was going to race. Since Ironman Louisville was an easy swim and run I chose to spend a little more effort on the bike. The last time I followed the plan I was now doing the bare minimum for the swim training that I felt would be sufficient and was pushing myself a little more on the “easy” running and biking days.  

Since I had previously done Ironman Chattanooga in 2019 I felt pretty confident knowing what I needed to do to be successful at the race this time around – work on the run portion. The run is uphill both ways at Chattanooga.

This winter I had built up a pretty solid run base and when the plan kicked in I didn’t feel like dialing it back. So I figured I would just run whatever pace I felt like doing, sometimes going hard when I wasn’t supposed to, and sometimes just putting in the easy miles. I was doing just that this week, an easy paced 75-minute run on Friday when my right calf just decided to not like running anymore.  

About 3 miles into the run I was hobbling. I stopped and stretched it out and that didn’t make it any better. This wasn’t cramp, but more like a muscle strain.  I walked a little bit and although it wasn’t feeling great, I could keep moving forward. So I walked for about 10 minutes and decided that I needed to find the most direct route back home. That’s smart thinking, right there.  

Not long after that, I began jogging again, and although I was favoring the leg, I was doing okay. I ran up a busy road and wound through a subdivision until I got back to the trail. It was then I decided to be really dumb and run a little more to not cut the workout short.  Not so smart thinking, right there.  

I made it home and showered up okay, but after that, my leg was really sore. I iced it and massaged it for a while, added some linament creme to it, and then sat and elevated it for the rest of the day.

I was concerned that my ride on Saturday might be difficult, but the ride didn’t bother the leg at all. On Sunday, I opted to walk the 75-minutes instead of running it, and then did another ride with the local group in the afternoon and felt fine. What seemed like an injury that came out of nowhere and would need some serious rest, it looks like I just had some weird pain that hopefully won’t manifest itself into something that would keep me from running for a while.  

So I guess my weird leg pain might not be anything serious.  But I will be following the plan a little bit closer from here on.  

Just a flesh wound. I’m INVICIBLE!

Swims: 0

Bikes: 4 – 111 miles

Runs: 3 – 16 miles + one 4.5 mile walk

I Can’t Remember

2021 IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA TRAINING

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WEEK 6 – April 11, 2021

I am fortunate to have supportive family and friends who take an interest in my pursuit of my Ironman goals, but I have one friend in particular that I call my Number 1 Fan – Carl. Carl is the one friend that takes the passing interest to a much higher level. He not only wants to know what workout I did but needs to know the details as well. I’m glad to accommodate him as it allows me to brag about myself for a few minutes, except most of the time I can’t remember.

Carl: What did you do yesterday, Ironman?

Me: umm… a bike ride? Yeah, a bike ride.

Carl: How far did you go?

Me: umm… I rode for an hour.

Carl: How far is that?

Me: umm… let me look it up.

My Number 1 Fan Carl wondering why I can’t remember the details.

I don’t mind providing the details, but it’s interesting to me that once I get the workout done I kind of move on from it. It’s not that I don’t want to remember what I did as I train, but during a 30-week build to a race, it just all blends together somewhat. I certainly make an effort to document it. The workouts all get recorded by my Garmin watch and phone app. And I write a summary each week so that I can look back and spark my memory of the journey I am on. But sometimes it’s just a workout, nothing more and nothing less.

I am working on writing a post about all the races I have participated in since I started running in the 1980s. It’s taking me a while to go through my handwritten running log and find the entries. I am finding with that trip through the past that I can recall details about some of the long-ago races pretty clearly. It must be something about racing that makes you remember, something that creates a stored memory. I can also remember certain runs when something out of the ordinary happens, like a fall, or getting chased by a dog, getting caught in a storm, etc. But when the workout is spinning on a stationary bike for 60 minutes and thumbing through Facebook while doing it for the 200th time, it just simply becomes part of the day without creating anything special about it. Maybe that will have a cumulative effect in that I will remember doing those workouts as a whole rather than the details that went into them.

I can remember many of the details of running on the Green Bay Trail in the 1990s: where I began and ended my runs, the street crossings, the portion through Ravinia. But if I looked at my log and saw that I ran 8 miles in 60 minutes that day, I will have to take my word for it. I don’t remember it.

I have logged many miles on the Old Plank Trail, so many in fact that I sometimes say that I know every little dip, bump, and distinctive trait of the trail. I know which houses have a dog that barks at me. I know when to move to the left to avoid the divot in the trail as I head north up the path and over the bridge. Those memories are solid, and I rely on them quite a bit. But I guess our brains can’t store every single detail about each workout. I mean, how much of the mundane can you remember? Do you remember what you had for lunch yesterday? Probably not. Do you remember your 21st birthday? More than likely, because turning 21 is a memorable milestone. But do you remember your 22nd birthday? I don’t.

Am I supposed to make each run, bike or swim a memorable one? I’m not sure if that is even possible. Frankly, I think trying to concentrate and remember every detail would most likely wear me out mentally. But I am glad to have pretty clear memories of those workouts that do have something memorable happen.

I guess that I am lucky to have my Number 1 Fan pry those little details from me. Maybe I will remember more of them thanks to Carl. But I can promise you this – although I may not remember every little detail a day, a week or a years later, I will always remember my Number 1 Fan asking me about my workouts. Thanks, Carl.

Swims: 0

Bikes: 3 rides – 63 miles

Runs: 5 runs – 30 miles

Week 6 is in the books. 1/5th of the way done.

Three Plastic Bags and a Popped Balloon

2021 IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA TRAINING

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WEEK 5 – April 4, 2021

Last week I talked about needing some motivation to get through some biking and running workouts.  This week I had the motivation, but when it came to doing the Saturday long ride what I lacked was the desire.

My family had planned a trip to Nashville for the Easter weekend to visit our freshman daughter Rebecca, who attends Vanderbilt University, and some family who lives in the area.  I have always been of the mindset that if you are going to miss some workouts, it’s probably best to at least try to get the long weekend training stuff done.  At this stage of training, a long ride isn’t all that long; the plan called for an hour and 45-minutes.  So I moved the ride to Thursday and April Fool’s played an unappreciated trick on me – it was cold.  When I got home midday my car was telling me it was 32°F.  The wind wasn’t too bad, and I had the motivation to do the ride, now I lacked the desire!

After taking the dog for a quick walk, I decided to toughen up and act like an Ironman and just go do it.  I put on some extra layers and wore a set of gloves under a pair of large mittens and got my bike ready to roll.  While in the garage I decided to put on a couple of plastic newspaper bags over my socks before putting on my cycling shoes.  I’m glad I did because my very cold ride last week ended with some very numb toes.  

Normally I would put them under my layered socks, but I was too lazy to do that now.

As I headed south I realized that this ride was not going to be fun.  My rides always head south and return because where I live it is urban to the immediate north and rural to the immediate south.  I count my blessings with that.  The wind was pushing me along and I was easily riding in the upper teens and 20 mph speeds.  I got to the point where I could choose to head either east or west and I chose east because I thought I would take advantage of the heavily wooded trail to head home on and keep the wind from being too much of a burden.

As soon as I turned to head back north I could feel that this ride was going to be a struggle.  I stopped at a spot where I will sometimes take a nature break and ate a gel.  I was sweating and starting to feel the cold, and knowing when I got back on the bike I would be suffering even more.  

I started to ride again and my eyes were watering and I was getting a headache from the cold wind blowing on my wet head.  I crossed Monee/Manhattan Road and started looking for something I could use to help me out, and there was an empty plastic shopping bag stuck to some brush just blowing in the wind.  I got off my bike and looked it over to make sure it wasn’t dirty and then I took off my helmet and cap and put the bag on my head and covered it back up.  I hopped on the bike and within a hundred feet or so I saw a popped mylar ballon laying in the ditch.  I stopped and inspected that and then shoved that under my cycling jersey.  As I started riding again it was almost like instant relief.  My headache went away and I started getting comfortable riding in the wind again.

The ride took me almost two hours, but it could have been much longer and much more miserable.  And in the end, I felt a sense of accomplishment, overcoming the lack of desire to ride on a cold day and being resourceful enough to not having to cash in my chips and call for my kid to come get me.  

My wind-blocking shopping bag.

Wiped out after fighting the cold windy day.

Swims:  0

Bikes:  2 – 42 miles

Runs:  3 – 11 miles