I was running strong, stronger than ever. Finding gears I didn’t know I had. Pushing harder on longer runs. I noticed improvements on my heart rate which corresponded to the feeling that I was running faster with less effort required. I was recovering quickly from hard workouts. My weight was down to lower than ever, maybe even lighter than when I was in high school 25 years ago. My marathon PR of 2:56 would be easy. Maybe it would be closer to 2:50.
In my last post I mentioned that I was suffering from a strained hamstring. I mentioned that I might not be able to run in Macau or that I might not be able to run as quickly as I had hoped. But a weird thing happened. Three days before the marathon I had to do a fair bit of walking around work and by the end of the day I noticed that my left knee was sore. No big deal, I thought, but then I woke up during the night with some fairly noticeable pain! A day later, two days before the marathon, I could not walk without feeling sharp pains coming from my inner knee area. WTF??? How did that happen? After running 70 mile weeks, how did I get injured from just walking around? I searched the internet and figured that I was suffering from an inflamed bursa (I still don’t know what it was for sure). My theory is that after I injured my hamstring, my muscles tightened up considerably and that put some strain on the knee (you can read about the chain reaction effect of hamstring and knee injuries if you check around). So I iced it like crazy and that seemed to help, but as time ticked by I was fairly certain that I was not going to be running on Sunday.
I suppose that all adventures must have their moments of crisis. For me that was last week when I managed to tweak my hamstring. Nothing serious. No dramatic popping sound and searing pain. Just a niggle and the feeling that something was definitely not right. With only two weeks to go until the marathon, this was definitely a worry.
Just finished the longest run in this marathon training schedule that I’m following: Pfitzinger’s evil 18/70 from the book Advanced Marathoning. It was a 22 miler and I managed to run an average pace of 7:17 per mile. I felt tired for the final 4 miles, but definitely could have kept going and completed the marathon distance if I had to. So that finishes up a 70 mile week which feels pretty good.
This week I didn’t feel much like running. Work was stressful and I found myself not getting as much sleep as usual. Running started to seem like a chore and I felt myself slipping back into some old habits. Instead of waking up early to run, there were a few days when put it off until later after work. Instead of drinking a cup of herbal tea and stretching before bed, I found myself sitting in front of the computer, knocking back a few beers, and even dipping into the scotch a bit. I started telling myself that running is interfering with work and causing me more stress instead of alleviating it.
Another solid week. 71 miles of running and definitely feeling it. But no injuries and I’m basically happy with the paces. As you might know if you’ve read any of my previous posts, I am following the Pfitzinger 18/70 marathon training plan, a diabolical scheme designed to inflict suffering and pain all in the name of a fast marathon time. It’s a brilliant piece of work that is even more fun the second time through.
I used to live in Mainland China and while there were many things that I enjoyed about living there unfortunately running was not one of them. Since I am tall and have white skin, it’s almost certain that I would attract attention from people. I remember having to avoid certain hours when the students were getting out of classes or they were on a break because those little kids are the worst at giving out a big fake ‘hello!’ or trying out other phrases that they know. To them it was the most hilarious thing that happened all day but for me it was just annoying. Other people would just stare. I guess I’m a fairly low key person and don’t like that kind of attention. Of course there were other obstacles to running in China, especially in bigger cities like Shenzhen where it’s not always easy to find good routes.
Anyways, here in Hong Kong nobody looks twice at me and it’s great. There are also many places to run, especially up here in the New Territories where there is generally more space. There is a strong running culture here and it seems like there is always somebody out there running. I find it motivating to be part of a community, even if I don’t talk to the people as I pass by. There are also races every weekend during the fall and winter months and it’s great to have lots of options.