July (and more) by the numbers

In my mind, this month has been a disaster. But when I look at my numbers, someone should tell me to shut up and be happy with what happened after taking a tumble down my stairs. I think my issue is that I wanted so bad for July to be the best month of the year, but it just didn't quite happen.

I set a reasonable goal of 75 miles for the month, with the thinking that I'd probably be around 80 or so. With today's 5.2 mile run, my total is actually 79.5. That's just 7 miles short of my high for the year set in February. Had I not hurt my tail bone, I likely would've been in the low 90s. It's like I've suddenly set low expectations for myself with running.

July marks the third consecutive month of fairly stead mileage increases. It's almost hard to believe that my mileage was four times that of April, which I basically took a break after my foot issues. Basically since April, my mileage has increased 20 miles a month ... will that trend continue?

What's missing from July is biking. Before the injury, I got in 9.2 miles and was pretty much on pace to have 20 or so. My goal was 25. So despite things going great with running, I feel behind on things because my cross training -- which basically didn't exist until this year -- is way off.

Of note is the fact that I walked 38.9 miles, my highest total for the year by 7 miles ... all thanks to not being able to ride my bike. Walking isn't nearly as important to me as biking, but it's better than nothing I guess.

My official training numbers since June 1 are as follows: 140 running miles, 58.4 walking miles and 51.7 biking miles (thanks to a great week in the Outer Banks). For the year, I have 641 total miles, which are broken down like this: 381.7 running, 162.9 walking and 96.4 biking.

It's no secret that I'd love to hit 1,000 miles in a 12 month span, so if it's to happen between July 2008 and June 2009, I'm off to a good start. To hit 1,000 miles, I have to average slightly more than 83 miles a month. August is going to be good -- my goal is for 90-plus miles. After that, I'll have to figure out if pursuing 1,000 is what I want to do. As for now, my tail bone needs a break from sitting at the computer ...

Slowly, but surely ...

One of the worst things about my tail bone injury is how limited I feel to do certain things. Sitting in a car is difficult; lifting weights is very limited; setups are out of the question; doing the plank is uncomfortable; I can't ride my bike. ... Oddly, running has been going great, although the injury forced me to really slow down.

For the first time in a few weeks, I did some speed work today and each interval felt like I was running into a wall. I've been doing some speed bursts with my dog in the past couple of weeks, but nothing serious enough to call a speed workout. I've intentionally ran more hills lately just because I haven't felt like doing intervals or tempo runs. Today I did two-half mile intervals -- 3:45 and 3:50 -- and two quarter-mile intervals -- 1:53 and 1:56. I'm happy to stay under the 8-minute mile pace considering the way the past two weeks have gone, but it felt miserable today. The weather has a lot to do with it -- it's hot and humid and temperatures are expected to be in the mid- to upper 90s all week with no end in sight. I was also pretty tired too thanks to my dog barking for no reason at all at 6:30 a.m.

Here's a recap of what I've done since my July 12 fall:
July 13: Walk - 2.1
July 14-20: Walk - 14.7; Run - 11.6
July 21-27: Walk - 8.3; Run - 21.3
July 28: Walk - 1.1; Run - 3.2
July 29: Walk - 1.5; Weights
July 30: Walk - 1; Run - 4.5 (with intervals explained above)

The Magic 8

Eight miles today puts me at 21.3 for the week and only 9 miles away from my goal for the month. I don't have the biking miles I had hoped for since I can't sit comfortably, but if you would've told me two weeks ago I'd still get about 75 running miles for the month, I would've told you that you're crazy.

Today's long run went well. I was pretty tired toward the last mile, but I'll attribute that to not having long runs in the past two weeks. Otherwise, everything felt great. The fact that it went so well has me really looking forward to hitting 10 soon -- I'll probably do that next week.

Oh what a beautiful morning

Mid-60s, low humidity - could it be September already? No! It's just July, but today's conditions could've had me fooled. While I'm good at complaining about the weather when it's cold or very hot, I rarely praise the weather. So after some pretty hot conditions earlier this week, a cold front rolled through Wednesday night and left some beautiful and comfortable weather, if only for a couple of days.

All in all, this summer hasn't been too bad. It was miserable in early June, but that was mainly because it went from feeling like spring to mid-summer overnight. Earlier this week was quite uncomfortable, but manageable at 7:30 a.m. This weekend is looking hot, but nothing out of the ordinary for this time of year.

Since my injury, I've gotten out of the habit of my "Workouts since last post" segment, but I promise that'll return next week. I wanted this week to be about getting back on track without thinking about training all that much. So far it's been good. This morning I got in 5.1 miles, and all is looking well to do at least 8 this weekend to put me over 20 for the week.

Mid-week tail bone report

To quickly sum up the past couple of days, things have gone well. I've gotten in a couple of good 4-plus mile runs and my tail bone area pain continues to improve a little bit each day. I'd say on a scale of 1 to 10, it's about a 2.5. It's manageable, although it's bothersome when I'm on my couch and in a vehicle. I had a great night's sleep last night, but two nights ago it bothered me quite a bit. I think by the end of this week I can finally stop talking about it so much.

Looking ahead to "normal"

I didn't hit my 5 miles today, but I did hit my original goal from a couple of days ago -- to hit double digits for the week. All told I ran 11.6 miles this week and walked 14.7. I'm actually surprised I ran as much as I did, but all those little runs quickly added up. This morning was crazy hot, I was tired and I think my injury has created a chain reaction of making other things hurt. I had a lot of cramping going on and my legs just didn't seem to want to move today. Tomorrow I will not attempt any running at all. I think I need a running break after doing some sort of running every day this week. I'll resume weight lifting tomorrow - something I haven't done in quite a while. I'll be using my free weights since it will likely hurt to use my home gym.

This week I will attempt to pick up where I left off with running, meaning that my long run goal is 8 miles and my weekly total goal is the low 20s. If I can pull off 5 consistent weeks of increasing my long runs and my overall mileage a little bit each week, I'll be in a good spot come race week with an opportunity to rest up that week. I'll try to squeeze in a 5k along the way as a tune up since I missed my race this weekend.

If I can't get back to normal this week, I'll have to make the decision on whether or not to pursue the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon. I know people who are running it who have slower goal times, so I can always hang back, and I could always use it as a long run while I focus on something else in September, but I doubt I'd do that. Since it's Labor Day weekend, it's a lot of money to stay at Virginia Beach for three nights. Also coming into to play is my job situation. I would hate to not run because of that, but it's impossible to make the trip if something doesn't happen soon.

I may be coming across as being negative, but I'm actually feeling good about things this week. I think a non-running day is going to help my pain, and I'm confident about things turning around job-wise.

Bruised and battered, but I'm still going

There are bruises and then there are things that appear when you've fallen on your ass and tumbled down the stairs. What has appeared in the spot where I fell last week is something nobody wants to see.

As far as my actual pain is concerned, it's the same story it's been all week -- it's a little bit better today than yesterday, but it still bothers me. I'm able to run better though. Last night I was feeling pretty good around dark, so I went out and got in 2.3 miles. This morning I got up and did 2.7 miles, so in the past 12 hours I've gotten in 5. Tomorrow I'm shooting for at least 5 -- I'll do more depending on how I feel. I've walked more than 12 miles this week so far -- the highest total in a week this year. With a little bit here and a little bit there, this week hasn't been a total loss, but the timing still sucks. I am waiting until next week to do weight lifting again. My shoulder feels fine, but I don't want to take any chances.

As for now, my time in the computer chair is over. It's time to find a more comfortable spot...

The footprint of a future runner

Unless you've caught a couple of my wife's comments, or unless you know me personally, I've been keeping a secret from you -- my wife and I are expecting our first child in November. Pictured above is one of his feet during the ultrasound the other day -- yes, I said HIS. While this week has been full of gloom in my training and the past few months have been full of nothing but things going wrong in the job department, knowing that we are having a baby toward the end of this year has kept me going.

This week we found out that we're having a boy -- the full name is TBD. For the past few months both sides of our families have done the usual wishing that we were having a boy or a girl, while my wife and I have stayed silent in hopes that the baby is healthy. So far, things are looking good. And yes, we definitely know it's a boy based on the money shot we saw the other day. I thought since this is a running blog it was only appropriate to post the foot shot. (Click here to check out my wife's blog on the experience.)

Injury update
Well, I decided to pull out of the 5-mile race this weekend. While things continue to slowly improve every day, the thought of a 2-hour car ride tomorrow evening didn't "sit" well with me. Every day my ability to sit at the computer is getting better and today I found it much easier to get comfortable on my couch -- enough so to get two 30-minute naps in. I did sleep better last night and I finally feel rested up after a few rough nights.

My plan is to take it easy again tomorrow and then become a weekend warrior to get some miles in. If I can get at least 10 miles for the week in -- so far I've logged a little more than 3 -- I feel like next week I can pick up where I left off. Instead of any kind of taper, I would just be heading into race week at a peak. If I still can't run like I want to this weekend, I may have to chose something else.

Sit on some golf balls for an hour ...

... and you might know how I feel. It's so hard to explain what my rear feels like. I can sit in certain ways and it's fine; I can walk just fine; and generally when I lay down on my sofa it's fine. However, when I run it hurts. Running, though, isn't making it worse -- it's just a dull aching pain when I'm trying to trot along. I'm having trouble staying asleep because it's tough to stay in one position for long even when I'm laying down, so that's my biggest complaint right now.

To put the pain in perspective, it's actually gotten a little bit better every day ... but four days later it's still pretty bad. I have made attempts to run every day this week. On Monday, I could do more than two-tenths of a mile. I did that three times. Yesterday I got in a half-mile without stopping to do a total of 0.7. This morning was the best so far when I was able to do a mile without stopping, for a total of 1.7 miles. I may do a little more this evening when my dog gets walk No. 2 for the day.

When I sit, it sort of feels like I'm sitting on a tennis ball on a very weird part of my butt. Actually, a golf ball may be a better comparison. Maybe even two golf balls. When I run, the pounding creates a similar feeling, but it's not as bad as when sitting. Like I said when I started, running is not making it worse. In fact, by the end of my short run this morning I felt like I could have gone farther. To put it in my day-to-day sporting terms, if the Rock 'n' Roll Half was tomorrow, I'd probably skip it and find another race later on.

This is such a crucial time in my training. I don't mind having to take it easy this week -- but I can't do that two weeks in a row. If the pain keeps slowly going away like it has so far, I think I'll be OK. I'll make a decision by late tomorrow on whether or not I'll do the 5-mile race this weekend. My biggest concern with that is driving 2-plus hours the day before to my mom's house and then driving a half hour the next morning to the race. Sitting in a car has been the hardest thing to do so far.

My shoulder is better, but it's still hurts a little bit. It's enough to lay off lifting weights for at least another day.

I think one of the most frustrating parts of this is that it's a non-running injury. Had I hurt myself while running, I think my response would be different. I think I'm just angry at myself for something I could have controlled.

The big fall: One day later

If you've ever been in a car wreck, you probably know what it's like to have a "delayed" injury. When the wreck first happens, you're OK, but by the end of the night your neck probably hurts. Then the next day isn't quite as bad and then by the third or fourth day it's gone.

Well, after yesterday's fall I experienced a delay injury later in the day -- my left shoulder. Apparently on my quick way to my derriere, my left arm tried to catch me. I have a couple of bruises near my wrist and my shoulder feels like somebody gave me a good punch.

Now on to my aching ass. When I woke up this morning, it felt a lot better, so I thought I'd give it a try to run. I went out walking with my dog and after a half mile I tried to run. Was that a ghost stabbing me with a knife in my lower back? No, it was just my sore coccyx. So I immediately stopped and just walked a couple of miles.

So about 36 hours after my wreck with my stairs, I have a pain in my butt and an odd sensation in my shoulder. I'll remain on a day-to-day status for a little while, but I can honestly say that I'm much better than last night. However, if tomorrow was race day, I'd be sitting on the bench. With a bum bum and a whacked out shoulder, I think tomorrow is still going to be a day of walking. At least I can walk without any problems.

The timing of this is awful in some ways -- it's pretty much right in the middle of my training schedule. The thing that sucks is that I can't do any cross training. I'm sure that bike riding will be out for at least two weeks and now that my shoulder is bothering me, lifting weights and doing the plank is out for at least a couple of days. However, with seven weeks to go to the race, I'm trying to look at this as a "recovery" week in my training, although the sudden stoppage isn't what I was looking to do.

I hope the end result is just a few missed runs -- if I'm lucky it might just be one day missed. I hate missing this week's long run, but it'll just have to be. One missed long run isn't going to break the bank. Tomorrow is a normal off day from running anyway and generally Tuesday has been an "easy" day. My plan for the next couple of days is to add walking miles, with an attempt to run each day to see how it feels.

A pain in the ass ... literally

Well, let me get right to the point. This morning when I started down my steps, my left foot slipped from underneath me and I fell right on my butt and then slid down a few more steps.

So you can only imagine what that actually feels like. If you've never hurt your tail bone, you're missing out on one of the most annoying injuries ever. This is the second time in my life in which I've somehow injured that part of my body. Sitting here typing this is hell, but walking around is fine.

A couple of hours after the incident, I took my dog on a walk and things felt OK. I ran a few feet to see how it felt and it was ... I don't know ... OK. Not terribly painful, but annoying. I managed to mow my yard without any issues. I'm still trying to figure out if I'll do my long run tomorrow or just run a few miles or just take a day off. Needless to say, but in sporting terms, I'm listed as "day to day."

In just the half day since this happened, I already know that bike riding is going to be impossible for at least this coming week, as will be weight lifting on the home gym. Normal set ups will also be nonexistent for a while. Fortunately I have free weights that I can use, and there is no reason I can't do the plank.

For today, though, I just have to deal with it. I have found some interesting Web sites out there devoted to the coccyx. Who knew?

Give me a 5!

Today's 5-mile run marks an interesting milestone in my training this summer -- it's the first time since March 1 and 2 that I have ran 5 miles or more two days in a row while training. Just like hitting 20 miles for the week last week, it's another hurdle I've passed since coming off my injuries earlier this year. The next big milestone will be hitting 10 miles in my long run. After that it's just going to be fine tuning before the Rock 'n' Roll Half and, hopefully, losing a few more pounds.

Speaking of 5-mile runs, I have an entry form in the mail for next week's Percival's Island 5 Miler in Lynchburg. I love this race -- it's nice and flat and it's the site of my second-fastest paced race ever. Last year's time was 36:59, which was 4-plus minutes faster than the year before. Since this is my first race in more than three months, I'm not really sure what my goal is right now. This is a good distance to test myself in a race, so I'll just have to wait and see how I feel that morning with how much effort will be put into it. It's a perfect test for my upcoming half -- it'll be six weeks to go, so it'll put things into perspective with what I need to work on.

Workout since last post
July 11 -- Walk - 0.7; Run - 5

Paint me some speed, please

After three days of painting, the last thing I wanted to do this morning was go running. But I did anyway and ended up doing more than I originally planned for. I wanted to get in some kind of speed work despite feeling tired, so I set out to do four quarter-mile intervals. Instead I did six ... and then I tacked on a half-mile interval at the end. It wasn't pretty, but I got it done.

My times for the quarter miles, with quarter-mile breaks in between, were: 1:51, 1:55, 1:56, 1:55, 1:57 and 1:56. These were done in my neighborhood with a few rolling hills. I was tired, but I was consistent. I would have liked to have been in the 1:45-1:50 range, but I'll try them again when I don't have paint fumes lingering in my head. My half-mile time was slower than I hoped, but I was still satisfied considering how I felt. Plus it was unplanned, so I can't really complain about being a few seconds slower than I would have liked. My time was 4:03. All told I ran 5.2 miles today, including 1.1 with my dog.

With a little more than 7 weeks to go to my race, I'm now realizing how important it is for me to get some good runs in with times better than 8 minutes a mile if I'm going to hit my goal of 1:44. It's a good amount of time to improve and stay focused -- it's a much better situation than I was in this past winter when I thought I could just go out and do it because I was still in shape from marathon training. I've certainly learned my lesson from that. It looks like I'll be able to get a race in soon - I feel like I need some kind of tune-up before the big event.

And lastly, I'd like to wish my wife a happy 4th anniversary!

Workouts since last post
July 9: Painted
July 10: Walk - 0.7; Run - 5.2 (intervals explained above)

A $1,000 story I forgot to share

A few months ago, in the last race that I ran, I raised money for the VCU Massey Cancer Center. (Click here to read the race report.) At the time of the race, I had raised $700 for the center. It was shy of my $1,000 goal, but in all honesty it was more than I thought I would do considering it was my first fundraiser.

Well, I never gave an update, but within a month after the race, a few hundred dollars came my way and I ended up hitting my goal of $1,000. A post today over at the Runners' Lounge reminded me of how great it felt to run for a reason other than my personal health or seeking a PR. Running for a cause is much more important than any of those things and I am looking forward do doing another fundraiser down the road. Thank you to everyone who contributed to my cause!

Meanwhile, this week has turned into painting week at my house. My wife and I have decided to paint one of our bathrooms and our bedroom and we were tired of looking at paint samples on our wall. Plus if things don't happen soon job-wise we can't really try to sell a house with paint blocks on the wall. Anyway, yesterday was spent doing the ceilings. Later today will be getting one coat in the bedroom, which is fairly large, and we should get everything else wrapped up Wednesday. So, needless to say, I'm avoiding weight lifting this week, as well as anything else that might make me sore. I think a few days of painting is some pretty good cross training.

Workouts since last post
July 7: Walk - 1.3; Bike - 4.1
July 8: Walk - 1.1; Run - 3.5

A return to 20

For the first time in about four months, I ran 20 miles this week. With eight weeks to go until my half marathon, I'm extremely pleased to be at this point. With looking back at my training for the Shamrock Half in March, I ran just four weeks with mileage in the 20s, plus a 20-plus week the week of the race. It's a good place to be to hit 20 now and to feel like I could have done more this week.

To hit 20 miles this week, I put in 7.1 miles on my long run yesterday. I moved the long run to Saturday because it was so nice when I woke up. While it was humid, the temperatures were in the upper 60s and it was extremely cloudy. It was just a good day for a run and I wanted to take advantage of weather like that in July. Plus I knew I'd be up later than usual that night watching the NASCAR race.

As I have mentioned before, my long run goals for the next few weeks will be 8, 9 and 10 miles. I'll continue to increase my overall mileage little by little for a few weeks before having a recovery week. I'll then be pretty aggressive for a couple of weeks before the race week. It sure makes the race seem pretty close when talking about it like that, but I'm very confident that I'll be where I want to be at the end of August.

Workouts since last post
July 5: Walk - 1.3; Run - 7.1
July 6: Walk - 1.3; Plank - 1:00; 100 set ups on Bosu ball
Week totals: Walk - 6.4; Run - 20; Bike - 5.1

Four on the Fourth?

I think it's odd that there aren't 4 mile races on the Fourth of July. Four on the Fourth -- it's a pretty simple concept. Instead, like here in Richmond, there are two 5ks to chose from today. In Lynchburg, where I used to live, today is the third annual Academy Mile. A mile race is cool, and having a race on a holiday does make perfect sense, but I think Four on the Fourth sounds neat. Maybe one day I can organize such a race. Or maybe I'm just wishing this year that races didn't cost $20 or more to enter.

Anyway, this week's weather has been spectacular. The humidity has been low and earlier this week it was cool enough to turn the AC off for almost two days. It's a nice change of pace considering how hot it was in early June. Things look like they'll be changing soon, but I'm glad I've been able to take advantage of it.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy Fourth of July!

Workouts since last post
July 2: Walk - 1; Run - 5.1; 70 set ups
July 3: Walk - 1.7; Bike - 5.1; Weights; Plank - 1:00; 50 sets up on Bosu ball; 50 crunches with weights
July 4: Walk - 1.3; Run - 4.1

7 seconds, with some pizza on the side

7 seconds - that's how much time I shaved off my mile "test" this month. When I stopped the watch and read 7:48, I was almost disappointed. It's not an all-out mile, but I really felt like I had gone a lot faster. Maybe I just wanted it to be faster. In the big picture though, 7 seconds is pretty good. It's an improvement, yet there's a lot to work on.

Following the mile test, I decided to add a couple quarter-mile intervals on my way home. The first, which was fairly flat, was in 1:39 -- my fastest quarter mile so far this summer. I was pleased, considering that it was coming after the mile. My second quarter mile, which started on a slight incline, was a little slower in 1:51. By that time I think I was just too tired. After all, I actually didn't plan on doing this until tomorrow, my usual speed day. The weather, though, was absolutely gorgeous this morning -- mid-60s, low humidity. It just felt right. Tomorrow morning's weather is supposed to be the same, if not a little bit cooler, so I may extend my miles just a bit.

On the nutrition side of things this week, I am having my final chain-brand pizza tonight. For whatever reason, I was craving some greasy mess from Papa John's, so I decided this week would be a good week to have it for the last time for a while. I likely won't give up pizza altogether -- my wife and I enjoy making it at home every once in a while. Homemade, or very close to homemade, pizza is much better. Plus we are much healthier with the ingredients. But for one final night, I'm digging into some unhealthy, but tasty Papa John's. In the past, I've been known to dig into pizza a couple of days before a race, but this summer I'm going to approach it a little differently.

Lastly, I've created yet another blog. This one is devoted to my Dave Matthews Band experiences. Click here to go to it, or go to dmbforever41.blogspot.com.

Workout since last post
July 1: Walk - 1.5; Run - 3.7