Monday, July 12, 2010

Back in the Real World

Aspen is a beautiful place.  Like Shangri La really.  It was even prettier this last week because the weather here in NYC was so crazy.  It was over 100 degrees in New York, but in Aspen it was sunny, breezy and high of 77 or so.  Just delightful.  And the view, the town, everything about Aspen makes it a magical place to vacation.

Aspen is also a very difficult place to run.  It sits at about 8000 feet above sea level, so the oxygen is much lighter up there.  I get winded much quicker, and the recovery time is harder.  While I was there I ran three times, each on the same route, about 5 miles.  I have run this route for the last several years, and this is the hardest year I can remember.  Maybe because I am older, or maybe the recent experience singes my muscles more, but it was hard.  I also discovered that I had a little tummy bug, and that made one of the particularly bad workouts seem down right viscous.  i was struggling to get it done, trying to hold pace, and then completely exhausted after it was done.  Completely.  But the next day I was actually ill (I caught it from the two year old.  Imagine that -- being on vacation in wilderness paradise and having to deal with a sick two year old for five days.)

So, here are my Colorado takeaways:

1.  I am in no shape to run the NYC Marathon in 4 months.  I suppose I could get through it, but it would not be a particularly inspired effort, and I don't want to run it and not be able to really kick.  I haven't thrown in the towel yet, but no longer counting on it.  Given my recent injuries and increased recovery I can't just say "Oh what the heck, I'll do it" and push through.  That will be a recipe for disaster.  Or, more likely, another injury.

2.  I am not getting any younger.  The mountains amplify the effects of age, from increased heart rates, to recovery times, to dehydration.  I felt in more this year in just recovery: a hard workout took much longer to recover from, and in a bad way too.  I was more sore, more tired and more wiped out after my runs this year then I can remember.  (And more hung over too.)  perhaps the lingering sickness had something to do with this also, but, sheesh, it was hard this year.  To duplicate my 10 mile run last year would have been truly a Herculean feat.

3.  I have joined the world of Orthotics.  After my recent diagnosis of toe arthritis, the podiatrist mentioned orthotics.  While I was there, I visited a sports orthotic maker, and was outfitted with semi-custom orthotics.  he actually measured my toe flexion and said my toe arthritis really wasn't that bad (yeah me!).  But I have way way too tight ankles and Achilles tendons (boo).  Anyway for $125 he created a set of orthotics for me, and suggested I wear them in my trail shoes, which I did.  They feel much different, but I really can't say what effect if any they had on my running.  My feet were not the problem -- my lack of breathe was.  We'll see how the orthotics make me feel.

4.  If I don't run New York, I will run a winter marathon.  Maybe Austin. (February 20, 2001).  I love Austin, it is in the winter, so there is enough time to train.  But I need a goal, something to focus on, to train for.  I think it is part of my mental discipline -- the goal and the target creates the focus and the discipline.  I read an interesting article about Pete Sampras, and I identify with what he says about focus.  Well, At least I took something away from what said about the need for focus to create discipline and provide the drive, whereas entropy will creep into the void.

5.  I have resolved to add swim workouts this summer.  I used to swim on a swim team in junior high school, so I know how to swim.  But nowadays, it seems so hard.  I remember after my knee surgery, I decided to go to the pool and swim.  I set a goal of 25 laps.  Ha, ha, ha.  I was winded after about 3, and gave up after 5.  So, I know it is a good workout.  And it is a complete non weight bearing, non stress inducing workout, which makes it better.  I tend to cycle through periods where I workout; stop; workout; stop, etc.  This time I am going to try to swim some to throw some non-impact workouts into the mix.

6.  I love the Tour de France.  And, in Colorado, it comes on at 7 AM, so I could watch nearly the whole stage before the day really began.  I saw a heart rate reading from one of the lead riders in the peloton, at 173.  I was blown away.  That is really high for someone to just be chugging along.  I hit 173 all the time, but that is because I really pushing and really out of shape.  For a world class athlete, in an endurance event, I thought, no way can he keep it up.  And he didn't he paced for a bit and then cracked.  But still, 173.  I'll reserve my thoughts on Lance for later, but it is certainly less interesting now that he is out of contention.

For all you Colorado runners out there, I tip my hat to you.  You get to run in a beautiful place, but it sure is challenging!


  1. Aspen sounds like a beautiful place to run. I'm sure it was really hard. Something I would definitely like to try someday. Good for you for being smart about not getting injured. Don't give up on NY totally though. 4 months is still plenty of time :)

  2. Wow, you got all of that in one week in Colorado? I'm sure it was different than what we have in the city. I think a lot of what you said must be tempered with the perspective of injury and sickness. Perhaps you will feel better about your fitness and NYCM once you are all healed and rested and running well again!

  3. Oh goodness, I LOVE Colorado! I haven't been since college, but my grandparents had a house in Breckenridge and it's just breathless. If you need any swim workouts, I've got plenty to share! It is really such a great workout. And 173 chugging along HR?! Holy high!

  4. form and fitness come and go, just like the seasons. it's all part of runner's landscape and makes us fully appreciate when things are going well. accept where you are now, it will pass! i'm sure there's some learning in there somewhere that you can take with you into the future. good luck

  5. I can't wait to visit Colorado, but I feel like I won't want to come back!

    I think you're in the right frame of mind for your training, the last thing you need is to push yourself too much, get hurt, and be right back where you started.

  6. Oh boy. Colorado. 3 weeks.

    I know the feeling about having to have a goal. Go for Austin!

  7. I've been to Beaver Creek during several summers and am always stunned by how difficult the running there is. I understand your feelings about NYC Marathon but anyone coming off of training runs at altitude would have doubts. The race is still 16 weeks away. Either way, I hope you figure out what is right for you.

  8. I think Austin makes sense. NY's too close; if you don't feel comfortable with what you have now, you'll be hard-pressed to catch up.

    So if I see someone doing laps of the Bronxville Lake -- watch that waterfall -- it'll be you? I would think that because of your cardio strength, once you get your muscles used to the swim you'll progress quickly.

  9. I've never run in Aspen (or even been to Aspen, for that matter), but if it's anything like the other spots in the CO mountains that I've run, it must be good.

    4 months is a long time. I wouldn't throw in the towel just yet...


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