Saturday, December 17, 2011

Finally healthy

Over the past few months I've made some good progress and finally am pretty healthy and am starting to get back in shape again. I've been able to do full mileage and speedwork the last couple of months although I could tell my achilles and calf weren't really 100%. It didn't hurt, but it wasn't completely better yet. This last week I was able to do several runs where it really felt 100% and I didn't notice any discomfort or lingering issues. I've really been working hard on improving my hamstring flexibility and ankle mobility and I think has really contributed to the injury finally clearing up.

I've been able to get up to 55+ miles a week for the past few weeks and I had one week I hit 60 miles. I'm finally getting back in a little better shape and am feeling a little better about my workouts. Earlier this week I did 7 x 800 at 2:40 - 2:42 with a 1/4 mile jog at 7:45 pace between reps and this morning I did 18 miles with the last 6.5 at sub-6:05 pace. I have 4 weeks until the Houston 1/2 marathon and I think I'll be in good enough shape to run a sub 1:18. I'd really like to be under 1:17, but we'll see how everything goes the next few weeks. 6 weeks after the Houston 1/2 marathon is the Woodlands 1/2 marathon I'll be running in and trying to break 1:15.

5 weeks ago I ran a 10k race up in the Woodlands that one of my co-workers was the race director for and I ended up winning the race. I was a little hesitant to run it because my achilles was still giving me some problems and I didn't want to aggravate it, but I decided I would run the race as a tempo run and keep it to around 6:00 pace. When the race started, a couple of guys just took off and I let them go and settled into my pace and was in 5th place. I went through the first mile in 6:05 and the guys leading ran a sub 5:30 first mile. I just kept my pace steady and saw the guys start coming back to me and caught the leaders between mile 3 and 4 and took the lead a little before mile 4 and didn't look back. My time was a somewhat embarrassingly slow winning time of 37:40, but I think the course ended up being a little long. For a lot of the race we had to run on sidewalks or in a specific lane of the road and I imagine when the course was certified, they measured the shortest distance you could run and didn't measure it on the meandering sidewalks. My Garmin said I was running sub 6:00 pace for most of the race, but it didn't really matter too much since I wasn't running for time.

After the race, our family packed up the car and headed to San Antonio where my wife ran her first 1/2 marathon. Olivia and I got to see her in 5 spots on the course and she ran 1:57 and achieved her goal of breaking 2 hrs. It was extra impressive because the weather was pretty nasty that day and got up to over 80 degrees that day.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sad News

This morning I decided to retire....

No, not from running, but I decided to retire two pairs of my beloved Nike running shorts including my oldest (and favorite) pair of lime green shorts. I think I may have had the shorts since college or shortly thereafter and they have served me well. They were becoming a little too frayed and the elastic was losing its elasticity. The other shorts were some navy blue shorts that I wore for my PR marathon, but they are a little beyond their useful life and I didnt want to risk getting arrested for indecent exposure if I kept running in them. (My wife wouldn't let me post pictures of me in the shorts for the blog post)

I've been making some progress on recovering from my calf/achilles injury and I'm able to run fairly regularly and work on building my mileage back up. I've been doing a lot of work on improving my hamstring flexibility which seems to be taking some of the stress off of the calf and achilles. A few weeks ago it was feeling really good and I was running with no discomfort or pain and I think I got a little too excited and tried to ramp up a little too quickly. I hit 50 miles in a week and had one day of some relatively easy 800m repeats. By the end of the week I could tell I should have cut the last run or two a little short or taken a day off, but I was kind of stubborn and really wanted to hit 50 miles for the week. I've been traveling for 2 out of the 3 weeks since then so I've taken it a little easier and only been doing about 30 miles a week. I can run pretty much pain and discomfort free, but when I wake up in the mornings my achilles and calf often are pretty tight.

I'm running a 10k on Nov 12 that a co-worker is the race director for and I'm hoping to run it as a tempo run. The next day my wife will be running her 1st 1/2 marathon in the San Antonio Rock and Roll 1/2 marathon. I'm going to switch from the marathon to 1/2 marathon in January because I'm not going to be ready for a marathon by then. I received an invite to the Woodlands 1/2 marathon in March so my goal is to get healthy and go for a sub 1:15 in that race.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Finally, another blog update

After a several month hiatus I decided it's finally time to write a blog update. About a month and a half ago I aggravated a nagging achilles injury and have been trying to get healthy to really start training for the fall races. For a couple of months my left achilles was bothering me, but it always seemed to loosen up and the tightness and discomfort would go away 1 - 2 miles into a run and it wasn't really hampering me. In early June I ran the Heights 5k and with a little less than a 1/4 mile to go, my achilles really flared up. I was close enough to the finish that I kept going, but I couldn't even jog normally to cool down after the race. I think I probably made a mistake wearing my super lightweight racing flats that weigh about 3 oz after not having worn them in a couple of months and not doing a lot of fast speedwork. Running a 5k without a lot of speedwork puts enough stress on my legs, but the lightweight flats have a really low heel and put a lot of extra stress on my calves and both of my calves felt pretty thrashed after the race. Next time I get back in racing shape I need to make sure I'm doing strides and/or shorter speedwork in those flats if I'm going to race in them. At one point, my achilles would hurt when I'd start walking after sitting on an airplane and not moving around for a few hours.

I went back to MSHC to get it treated and seemed to be making some progress, but I probably got a little too aggressive trying to get back into the swing of things and it's kept bothering me. We've done a couple of EPAT treatments which is a shock wave therapy that's basically like a mini jackhammer pulsing on my leg. It seems to be helping because my achilles feels a lot looser the week after the treatment and doesn't get real stiff and tight in the morning. I did a relatively easy 5 mile run last week and it still was pretty uncomfortable. I've talked quite a bit with Dr. Leist at MSHC and we did an scan of my stride and I'm going to try wearing my orthotics again.

A couple years ago I got orthotics because I thought they might help with some of my hamstring injuries, but once I started going to MSHC, we determined the root cause of my hamstring issues and so I quit wearing my orthotics. I don't remember the exact timing of when I stopped wearing the orthotics, but shortly after my hamstring problems cleared up, my achilles started bothering me. I used to wear stability shoes but when I was fitted for shoes a few years ago, they watched me run on a treadmill and said that I didn't have any ankle pronation and should be wearing neutral shoes. It also seems like this is about the time when I started getting injured after staying relatively injury free for a while. Even though I don't have visible ankle pronation, my foot pronates fairly significantly and this would put a lot of stress on the inside part of my lower calve which has the most scar tissue and problems. We are going to try either the orthotics or going back to more of a stability shoe to see if that helps clear up the problem.

If I'm going to be injured and miss running, I guess now is as good a time as any. The weather is miserably hot and there aren't a ton of races I'm missing right now. My job has been pretty busy the last couple of months and we have a healthy, happy 10 month old that seems to be starting to sleep through the night on a more regular basis. Now that I can get more regular sleep without regular nightly wakeup calls, if I can get my achilles healthy I should be able to get back to regular training. It's been a bummer not getting out to run with my friends and trying to work out on the elliptical and stationary bikes are so boring. I'll try to post an update in the next couple of weeks on my achilles and hopefully I'll be making some improvements.

Here are a few recent pics of us-

Daddy and Olivia - not in Houston

Family vacation in Colorado


Taking it all in

Look what I found!!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

TIR and other assorted races

I realized I only have a few hours left to get my monthly blog update in before the end of March. Lately I've been torturing myself by running races in the heat and humidity of Houston.

Rodeo Run
About a month ago I ran the rodeo run and finished 12th overall in 36:00. It was warm, humid and windy and about the only good thing about the weather was that it was overcast and not sunny. I went in thinking I could run about 5:35 pace and hoped to negative split the race. I ran the first two miles in 11:00 and thought I was going to have a great race and then I hit the first hill. I had been running with about 4 guys, but they pulled away going up the hill and I could never catch them. I stayed about the same distance behind them through about 3 miles and then they started pulling away. When we hit the turnaround around mile 4, we were running straight into a headwind. Fortunately nobody caught me and I stayed ahead of the female winner, but it was a pretty miserable race. I hadn't done really done any speedwork since the marathon and I'd only be running 4 - 5 days a week and just wasn't in that great a shape.

Texas Independence Relay
The week after the Rodeo Run I ran the Texas Independence Relay, a 203 mile relay with an assorted cast of shady characters who were mostly fellow Kenyan Way runners including a couple of lawyers and a Cialis salesman. The race starts in Gonzales Texas which is west of Houston and finishes at the San Jacinto monument in Deer Park. Our team finished 4th overall in 20hrs and 55 minutes which works out to 6:11 pace and we beat the previous course record by over 20 minutes.

I ran 4 legs and a little over 21 miles. My first leg was the toughest leg of the race coming in just under 9 miles and had the most elevation gain. I started the leg at about 3:00 pm and I had a terrible headwind the first 4 miles. Then the hills began. I did manage a 5:40 mile for the final mile after I crested the hills and averaged 6:15 pace for my first leg. My second leg was around 8:00 pm and fortunately it was much shorter and just under 4 miles. It's interesting running along a dark highway when it is pitch black out and hoping there isn't some dead animal or pothole to step on, but I managed 5:48 pace on that leg. My third leg was pretty tough. We had slept in the van for a couple of hours and we woke up and I had the first leg from our van and was still a little groggy and my stomach wasn't feeling so hot after the filet of fish sandwich I'd eaten 2-1/2 hrs before. I think I started running about 2:00 am on this let When I was warming up, I knew that the sandwich was going to come up sometime soon so I ran enough hard strides before I started until I threw up. I figured it was better to lose it before i was on the clock instead of during the run. I started passing people on this leg and I lost count but probably passed between 11 and 14 teams on this 4 mile leg and it came out to a 5:51 pace. My last leg was a 4.4 mile leg in Pasadena and I busted out my superman costume for the team to enjoy. Unfortunately I couldn't find any pictures to post but if Spiller is reading this I'm sure he can picture it with his photographic memory. I didn't want to get shot so I ran as fast as I could and finished up with a 5:41 avg on the last leg. It was a fun race and we had a blast.

Law Week Fun Run
This race wasn't very fun even though it claims to be a fun run. I'm tempted to sue the race director for false advertising. I had played golf out in the sun for a good chunk of the day before the race and didn't stay ver well hydrated and then I woke up the morning of the race and it was warm and humid. I think it was close to 75 degrees and 80% humidity when the race started. I got to the starting line and saw Bill Blancett, Jose Lara and Colin Carroll and thought I would probably finish 4th. My goal was to go for 5:30 pace and I thought I was in better shape than the Rodeo run and I could probably handle that pace for 5 miles. The race started on the edge of downtown and ran out Allen Parkway to Shepherd and came back and finished near the edge of downtown. I hit the first mile right on pace at 5:30 and was in 4th place. Bill and Jose had taken off and Colin was hanging back a little bit. John Yoder and another guy were a couple seconds back. I thought I kept my pace pretty well in mile two, but I only hit about 5:50 for mile two but that was probably the toughest mile of the race. The turnaround was between miles 2 and 3 and John was right on my tail and the other guy was about 5 seconds back. John passed me on the uphill right after the turnaround, but after we crested the hill, I passed him back and pulled a little bit ahead. I thought I was going to drop him there and I knew that if I could stay even with him through 4 miles then I could probably outkick him. As we heading back to downtown, our various fan club members would see us and we'd alternately hear- go John, go Geoff. John seemed to be falling a couple steps back and then somebody told him to go after me and he picked it up again and passed me going up the next hill and I just couldn't reel him in after it. He was within striking distance and I even thought I might have a chance to get him with a mile to go, but I was beat and couldn't make up any ground. He ended up beating me and I finished 5th overall in a painful 28:45 or something close to it.

I'm going to run the 4 the park race on Saturday and hopefully will break my 5:30 pace target if the weather conditions cooperate. My training has been a little more consistent the past couple of weeks, but since I don't really have any major races I'm training for I haven't felt that guilty about skipping a run or two each week so I can have some more time to hang out with Olivia. She's almost 7 months now and is a lot of fun except when she keeps waking up in the middle of the night.

What's happening?!?

Just being cute for the camera

Olivia in the BOB

After the Houston Marathon

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Buffalo Wallow 6k - 8th overall

I always loved running cross country in high school and college and I enjoy running the Buffalo Wallow race. It was a tough day and I wasn't quite in top racing form, but I survived the race. I had a pretty hectic race and my training wasn't the greatest the past week and I did an relatively easy 6 miles the day before. I wasn't sure I was going to run the race because my wife was feeling a little under the weather and was still in bed at 8:00 and I either had to wake her up to take care of our daughter or let her sleep. She ended up getting up at 8:10 so I decided I'd head down to the race (started at 9:00) and hopefully it wouldn't be too late to register. I got there about 8:30, registered and did an abbreviated warmup. The course had changed slightly due to the new pedestrian bridge across the bayou and it seemed like it might have been a tad longer than past years. The footing was definitely a little softer and the course was slower than past years.

At the starting line I saw Colin Carroll and Vaughn Gibbs who I knew would both probably beat me and a few other guys I didn't really know. The course is 3 laps around a ~2k loop. I probably started out too fast since I was right on the tail of the top 5 or 6 guys about 1/2 a mile into the race. During the first lap, the top 8 guys split out into 2 packs of 4 and the top 4 guys pulled ahead. I stayed with the 2nd group of four the first lap and the 1st 1/3 of the 2nd lap and then the other three guys pulled a little ahead. I stayed in fairly close contact through the 2nd lap, but I was hurting by the end of the 2nd lap and still had a lap to go. At that point, I didn't think I was going to catch any of the guys in front of me unless they completely blew up and I was just hoping to not throw up and not to have anyone else catch me. Fortunately I achieved those goals and finished in 22:34. I was about 30 seconds behind the 5th place guy and I think if I were feeling a little fresher coming in and had run a little smarter early in the race I should have been able to finish 5th.

I'm planning on running the Rodeo Run 10k next weekend and then running in the Texas Independence relay the week after that with some fellow Kenyan Way runners.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Houston Marathon - 2:49:14

I was really happy with my race in tough conditions today. The temperature averaged about 65 degrees during the race with light rain and sprinkles and lots of humidity. I finished 9th in my age group, 39th male and 55th overall.

I knew early Sunday morning that with a mid-60's temperature and lots of humidity my 2:45 goal wasn't going to be happening, but I told myself I was going to run a smart race and see how it turned out. Sean had signed me up to be part of the ABB team challenge and the biggest benefit to that was a private port-o-potty area inside the GRB. I guess not that many people knew about it, but it was almost as good as being one of the elite racers. 30 minutes before the start of the race I probably only waited about 30 seconds instead of standing in line behind 20 people.

Before the race with the humid and rainy conditions I decided not to even wear a singlet since I never wear a shirt when I train in these conditions. It would just be added weight and give me additional chafing so I threw it in the bag before I headed to the start line. I only headed out about 20 minutes before the race and got into the starting corral about 10 minutes before the start. I was a little worried I was going to be able to get up near the front because it was packed and I was having to squeeze through the 4 hr marathon pace group, but I finally made it up to the line just before the opening prayer and national anthem.

When the gun went off, my plan was to take it easy the few few miles and not go out any faster than 6:25 pace the first 2 miles and gradually work up to 6:20 pace by the end of the 1st half. I was right on target the first few miles, but really struggled to pick up the pace much. I was pretty consistent with my splits the first part of the race and my first four 5k splits were 20:06, 20:09, 19:57, 19:48 and I hit the halfway point at 1:24:15.

After the 1/2 marathoners turned around just before mile 9, the course got pretty lonely. One guy blew by me between mile 9 and 10, but I don't think any other marathoners passed me from mile 8 on. Between mile 9 and 10 was pretty rough because I was all by myself, I had just gotten passed and I realized I was only about a 1/3 of the way through the race and I started to think about how much I didn't enjoy marathons, and how bad the weather was. Pretty quickly I decided I needed to focus and quit thinking negative thoughts or this would quickly turn into a disaster. I caught a couple of guys before we turned onto Main and gradually started catching a few more people between miles 10 and 13.

I felt really good at the halfway point and could see Andrew and Ryan from the Kenyan Way just ahead of me. I kept picking a few people off, but I was all by myself going up the Westpark bridge. Last year I had seen myself on tv and I looked horrible at that point, but I felt a lot better this year. The race seemed to be going by a lot quicker and was more enjoyable than in the past. Maybe it's because I didn't go out too hard and end up in bad shape midway through. Suzanne and Olivia came out and saw me just before mile 17. Between 17 and 18 I finally caught Andrew and Ryan and went by them on Tanglewood. I think I got a little too excited as I was catching several people and I thought that with about 9 miles to go I could start picking the pace up and hammer it in to the finish and PR. It was a great plan until I got to mile 19 and realized that I probably wasn't going to keep that pace the rest of the way.

I got into Memorial Park and by this point the field had really thinned out and I could see a couple people up ahead, but I wasn't catching many people anymore. I did make it past the medical tent at mile 22 that I had stopped at the last 2 years to get my hamstrings stretched. I didn't even really notice it this year as I was just focused on trying to not fall off pace too much and make it to the next water stop. Running down Allen Parkway was tough, but I caught 1 woman in the middle of Allen Parkway and 2 guys right at mile 25 as we were heading into downtown. My 20k - 30k 5k splits were the fastest part of my race @ 19:37 and 19:28. My 30 - 40k splits were 20:11 and 20:43. I was slowing down, but I don't think I had any miles slower than 6:45 during the race.

The last mile down Lamar seemed like the longest mile ever. I could see the GRB in the distance and it just wasn't getting any closer. The guy ahead of me looked like he was at least 45 seconds ahead and I didn't have a chance of catching him. I could tell that I was kind of dehydrated and on the verge of cramping, but I kept pushing through. Finally I saw the flag that I thought was the mile 26 marker and I planned to really kick it in when I hit that point. The flag was actually the 1/4 mile to go mark and I tried to pick up the pace and immediately I felt a twinge in my left hamstring as it started to cramp, but it went away when I settled back into my pace. With 150 - 200 meters to go, I made the final turn and tried to start kicking it in and was rewarded with cramps in both of my hamstrings and my left calf. I managed to limp through the last bit and finished at 2:49:14. I was a little under 2 minutes off my PR, but considering the weather conditions, I think this was the best marathon I've run.

Friday, January 28, 2011

2 Days until the marathon

The Houston Marathon is almost here and I'm about as ready as I think I can be. I've had several really good workouts over the last few weeks that were good confidence builders and I feel as healthy as I've ever been going to the starting line of a marathon. Last week after the Wado 800's on Monday, I did a 3 x 5k workout on Wednesday and nailed it. I took 5 minutes rest between the 5k's and I averaged 6:07 pace the first 5k, 5:51 pace the 2nd 5k and 5:39 pace the last one. I've been running fairly easy and have been tapering since then. I got a massage Wednesday evening and have today off to relax and take it easy.

Hopefully the weather will cooperate on Sunday morning so I have a shot at fast times. They are predicting rain on Saturday and Sunday and low temperatures in the mid to upper 50's. I don't particularly mind the rain and I would be fine with those temperatures in the rain or if it is cloudy, but if the rain passes through and it clears off and is in the upper 50's it could be tough to run a good time as it gets warmer throughout the race.

Sometime Sunday I'll post an update on how my race went.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Wado 800's

After Olivia woke up 3 times last night and I was up for 30 minutes around 4:00 am, I decided to sleep in and do a workout at lunch instead of the planned morning workout. I decided to do Sean's version of the Yasso 800's which is 10 x 800 @ goal marathon time (2:45 marathon goal = 2 min 45 sec 800) with 1 minute rest. A couple of my faster co-workers who I often run with were heading out the door so I ran 2 miles of my warmup with them and then peeled off to do the workout. My splits were 2:44, 2:44, 2:43, 2:44, 2:43, 2:45, 2:43, 2:44, 2:40, 2:39. The even numbered legs were into the breeze which is why I think they were about 1 second slow on average except for the last one. It felt good to get a good workout in after Saturday's run to forget.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

2 weeks until the marathon

My training has been going pretty well the last couple weeks, up until this morning that is.

Last Saturday I ran a 24 mile run and knocked it out of the park. I ran about 24.2 miles in 2:45 and ran 7 miles at about a 5:57 pace for part of the run and I ended up at 75 miles for the week. It was my last chance to get a very long run in before the marathon and I wanted a good one for a confidence booster if nothing else. One of the best parts about the run is that my legs felt strong the entire time. I wasn't in pain or agony and my hamstrings which have given me fits in years past felt great. I feel like I'm going into the marathon with strong legs for the first time so who knows how fast I can run. In the past I would usually cramp up pretty bad and end up sitting on the couch most of the day moaning about how much my legs hurt. I don't think I'd ever run this long and had my legs feel this good afterwards. I got a massage Saturday evening which helped with the recovery and I soaked in an epsom salt and apple cider vinegar bath for a while. One of the massage therapists I had seen in the past had told me about the benefits of it and how it helps the healing process and pulls toxins out of the body. I googled it to see if there was any truth to it and it seems like there is and I really felt good on Sunday.

The day after my 24 miler I ran 8.25 miles and averaged about 7:15 pace and finished up the run with a couple 7:00 miles. Usually after a long run, I would slog through 4 or 5 miles at a 7:45 - 8:00 pace but I really felt good which was encouraging. I tried to do an easier speed workout on Monday and I planned to run 5 x 3/4 mile @ 5:50/mile pace and then jog a 1/4 mile between but after 2 sets my legs told me I didn't need to be doing a speed workout so I jogged the rest of the run spent some extra time stretching and working on my conditioning exercises.

Because of the cold weather Wednesday, I postponed my hard workout until Thursday evening. My plan was to run 3 x 5k with 5 minutes rest with the first at ~6:10 pace, the 2nd at 5:55 pace and the third at 5:40 pace. I did the workout on a treadmill and I made it through the first 2 on pace before cutting it short. My calf was starting to tighten up on me - probably from running a little differently on the treadmills vs. outside - and I was bored out of my mind running on the treadmill so I cooled down and called it a day. I ran a relatively easy 8 miles friday afternoon and then had to drag myself out of bed this morning for a terrible run.

I was exhausted this morning and Olivia woke up 3 times last night - once for her feeding and two other times she just woke up and needed to be rocked back to sleep. If this weren't the last long run I was doing before the marathon, I would have turned the alarm off and slept in. I was dragging this morning and really struggled to stay with the group and I kept falling back 10 or 15 seconds and then I'd catch back up at the water stops. I probably only averaged about 7:30 pace for the day and I just couldn't go any faster. I'm not sure if the Thursday evening workout and Friday afternoon run just left me worn out or what happened. I didn't eat as much yesterday as I usually do and I didn't eat anything before the run so maybe I was just low on energy. I'm not overly concerned about it and I'll just put it behind me and try to get in one more good week of training this week.

I'm toying with running the Rockets 5K next weekend but not sure about it. I ran a 4 mile race and won it a couple weeks before Boston in 2009 and ran what was probably my best marathon. We'll see how I'm feeling and I'll ask Sean what he thinks. I'm guessing he'll tell me I'm an idiot to run it a week before the marathon but we'll see.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Back in the swing of things

I've been back to running for almost a week and am finally feeling like things are clicking again. Today was the first day that my legs weren't sore/achy/tired and I felt smooth and relaxed the entire run. If everything goes as planned the next 3 days, I should be over 75 miles for the week. I haven't made it out to any of the morning workouts in the past week because I've still been battling a little bit of a head cold and have just really needed the extra sleep, especially with the extra mileage.

This morning I went in to see my doctor because I was still having issues with my ears stopping up and I'd finished my antbiotics and hadn't really seemed to improved much. He looked in my ears for about 5 seconds and said that I never had an ear infection and I had been misdiagnosed. He said it was extremely rare for adults to ever get ear infections, but he did say that I had inner ear trauma and the eustachian tube on my left side was plugged which was what was causing all the pressure to build up. He told me to take sudafed and use afrin nasal spray and tilt my head and that should clear up the blockage.

Today I ran 11 miles total with an 8 mile tempo run at 5:58 pace. It was a little slower than some of my previous tempo runs, but it was 72 degrees out and I'm still easing back into it a little this week with the high mileage I'm doing. It was a good workout other than some major inner thigh chafing. I'll need to break out the vaseline for the rest of my runs this week.

Yesterday I ran an easy 7 miles at 7:10 pace. Monday I did a fartlek workout with 5 x 800 @ 2:55 - 3:00 and 1/4 mile recovery at 7:10 - 7:15 pace for a medium-hard workout. Sunday I ran 9.5 miles in 68 minutes so I'm at 36 miles so far this week. The first couple of days back to running, my hips and glutes felt really sore and I just felt really tight all over, but everything seems to have loosened up and feels good. My achilles seems to be kind of stiff first thing in the morning, but it felt fine by midday and didn't bother me at all during the run and my hamstrings have felt great the past couple months which never seemed to happen in my past marathon training. The last couple of years I would run with a tube of Ben Gay to put on my legs during the long runs when they started hurting so I could make it through the runs.

I'd dying to get out and run a race soon. I haven't raced since the 1/2 marathon in October (if you even call that racing) and I tend to burn out with lots and lots of training with no racing. I was really struggling with motivation before I got sick so it was easy to take a little time off, but I think it helped me refocus and I'm really motivated to get the most out of this week and the next two before I really taper for the marathon.