Looking Ahead to Macau Marathon and Beyond

Well it seems that my initial idea of writing a blog post every week sort of fizzled out this summer. Just to recap: I had a fantastic month in Canada and enjoyed running in perfect conditions on wonderful roads and trails. The problem with my foot resolved itself after some footwear changes and I had some truly memorable runs in very scenic locations around Alberta. There were moments when I was totally blown away by the whole experience of running through the mountains or just down a country road in the middle of nowhere. It was a truly awesome month of visiting family and friends and recharging the batteries.

Most of my runs were fairly subdued, although I ran in a 20km trail race and came in second place! Ok, there were only 8 people in the race, but still…. 🙂 I also was fairly disciplined when it came to diet and managed to come home weighing about the same as when I left (last time I went back to Canada I gained 10 lbs in one month!). I think laying off dairy and meat really made a difference.

So I’m back home and feeling great. True, the weather is not at all conducive to aggressive running (it’s hot and super humid – like 90% or 95% relative humidity). But I have decided to try to blast through it and so I entered Macau Marathon yesterday. This means that I will need to face some difficult conditions. I ran 18 miles yesterday and felt pretty wasted afterwards, much more so that I normally would feel. I will just have to slow down and not let my HR go through the roof. October should be better.

I must also confess that I have been entertaining sick thoughts about entering the Hong Kong 100 km trail run. Registration opens next week, so I might just try my luck. That would mean that I would have 7 weeks after Macau to recover and prepare myself for it – not much time, but then I would only be looking to finish the HK100 and wouldn’t care much about my time. I may mix in some trail runs and hikes into my normal marathon training.

Going back to Canada this summer reminded me of how travel will always intensify our experiences and make us appreciate things in a different way.

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Injury = opportunity?

Last week’s post: my foot is injured but I’m going to conquer it.

This week’s post: Same

That’s about it. Repeat of last week. I’m now officially frustrated, but resolute now that I know that this pesky injury has officially declared war on me. I will be victorious but it will take guile and cunning, not brute strength.

I ran 25 miles early in the week, mostly easy. 5 mile jogs seemed ok and there were no problems at all. Then there was a longish run on Friday of 9 miles which may have aggravated it again. I also cycled 100 miles on my trainer. I did two kettlebell sessions of 25 minutes (one of which may have also aggravated my foot).

My strategy now is to avoid any particular poses or movement where my toes bend, and of course to lay off running. I have taped my foot and even rigged up a modified insole to off load weight from the ball of my right foot. It’s now just a waiting game – a war of attrition.

Off to Canada on Wednesday so hopefully thing will be good soon. I’m so disappointed and depressed to be injured, but what the hell. Other things can fill in the space and every negative thing can result in a positive thing. This week I will focus on being super positive.

Sesamoiditis Dammit Dammit! And I Saw a Cobra!

I’m an idiot. Last week I was upbeat about my niggling foot injury (aka sesamoiditis) and the fact that I had pretty much conquered it. “It’s almost healed now so I’m going to ease into the running this week,” I wrote. So what did I do?

Well, I started my week on Monday by power hiking up a mountain and running back down (5 miles round trip with 500 m elevation gain). Is that easing into it? To some, this might not seem like much, but given that I have done zero hill training, it was actually quite a shock to the system. It felt ok at the time, but I was sore for almost a week! I have to say though, it was a nice view!

One of the 'Eight Immortals

Taken on one of the ‘Eight Immortals” in the Pat Sin Lung Mountain Range. I live at the base of this mountain and have been meaning to get up there for a while.

Instead of resting on Tuesday or maybe going for a swim I decided it would be a good idea to shake out the legs so I ran 5 miles. On Wednesday I ran 8 in the morning and 4 in the evening. This is definitely not easing into it…

On Thursday I thought maybe an easy hike would be ok as a change. That seemed to be going well until I saw a cobra on the trail. Big and black and scary. It just slithered off, so there was no danger, but it freaked me out. I do not like snakes. Period. So I headed back to the road and slow jogged for a few more miles. That’s why I don’t like trail running in Hong Kong. Call me a wimp, but I think I’m going to wait till the winter kicks in before I start doing solo runs on those trails, especially during the weekdays when it’s so quiet.

The next day I woke up with niggling pains again in my foot. Nothing too serious, but definitely something abnormal going on. Dammit! Serves me right. Well, I haven’t run since then, so it’s been four days off. To top things off I woke up on Saturday with a major kink in my back, which I am only now getting over. I hate being a gimp! But at least I didn’t get bitten by the cobra, so it’s all good.

In total, I ran 27 miles and did 3 x 25 min of kettlebells (the old cheesy Kettleworx to be precise). I also hiked 9 miles on Saturday with Jenny. So not a complete disaster. This week I will show restraint. More time on the bike and a few slow and easy runs. That’s it!

No, I didn't take this. There is no way in hell I'd get that close

No, I didn’t take this but that’s what it looked like. Jet black and totally evil looking… actually quite a beautiful creature

Sesamoiditis Dammit!!

Injuries are of course a bad thing, but they can also be a blessing in disguise. In my last post I wrote about how I was going to run 55 miles this week… I was excited after a successful 50 mile week and was looking forward to cranking things up to a new level. I also mentioned, almost in passing, the nagging problem with my foot and that I was hoping that it would just go away…

Well surprise surprise, after a 9 mile run on Tuesday, the problem became just a bit more noticeable. Not painful exactly, but just aching and certainly not going away. It was enough for me to realize that I need to face reality. The foot problem is not going to magically get better unless I lay off running.

I’m pretty sure the problem is sesamoiditis, which is basically foot pain under the ball of the foot, right around the joint of the big toe. Of course there are many kinds of treatments a person can find online and product you can buy (shoe inserts, etc.), but in my case I think it really seems to come down to just resting and icing regularly. So my week consisted of a one mile swim, a 9 mile run, 60 miles of indoor cycling, a 7 mile hike, three 20 min kettlebell routines, and a few easy yoga sessions.

Instead of being depressed by the lack of running, I’m actually feeling a sense of relief. It’s good to take a break and just focus on other things. With the other exercise, I’m sure that I’m not losing anything in terms of overall fitness; in fact, I’m probably helping my body to become more balanced and stronger in the long run. It is also worth mentioning that Hong Kong is now hitting record high temperatures so it’s not like I’m missing out on ideal running conditions.

My foot is getting better and I don’t even notice any pain or irritation when I walk around. So maybe it’s healed. But I’m still going to play it safe and give it a few more days. On Tuesday I’ll go out on a easy short run and see what happens. I’ll then try to build back up slowly with more rest days mixed it.