Monday, June 23, 2014


WINDING D--O--W--NNNNN


Like a wind-up doll that slowly de-animates, my mileage since the L A Marathon in March has gone from 50-mile-weeks to 40-mile-weeks to 20-mile-weeks.

My friend Jill says, “Life intrudes when you’re not training for anything.” 
So, it hasn’t been all laziness that subtracted miles, but a new granddaughter and some long-term real estate matters that have taken me away, not to mention a few social events.

So, three months coming off lots of mileage, what’s that do to a runner?

For one thing, no more 50-mile-weeks for me.  

My fastest marathon in ’07 happened when my mileage was so low, I almost didn’t sign up. That was back when Bill Sumner coached new marathoners and I’d done only ONE 18-mile run. Before Sumner, I did lots of 20-mile-Saturdays to prepare for a marathon. Surprising myself with the results of Bill’s low-mileage program, I qualified for Boston. 

SO, low mileage worked that time.  

After L.A’s preparation including weeks of 50 miles, I had shin splints and was sick of running. 
I should have been excited about running because I took first place in my age-group and realized a dare I’d given myself publicly. 
I wrote about trying for a first and described my year of training in the Daily Pilot Newspaper.

As I said, I felt unmotivated and sore instead of triumphant. 
So, do I treat my public first place victory as the apex of my running career? 
Do I say that now that I’m 70, I’ll rest on my laurels?

Probably not. First, I still need to burn the calories. I’m a big eater and the belly is the first to bulge, followed by saddlebags and butt. 

Second, my best friendships come from huffing and puffing beside another runner, squeezing out conversation between steps. 
So, where would I find my friends if I gave up running?

Third, I’m as healthy as a 30-year-old and I can power-hike at a pace held by people 10-15 years my junior, so I’d better keep up the running.

Fourth, I like being outside. Hours spent on foot on roads, paths, beachside are the way I want to spend hours. 

My next marathon?
No plans yet. 

Will there be another?
Yep.

Friday, May 16, 2014

After the OC Half Marathon, Jill and I hung over the fence at the finishing line, cheering wildly for the 85-year-old guy finishing the full marathon in about 3 hours and 40 minutes. Running smartly after twenty-six miles—that’s 26 EIGHT-MINUTE-MILES—he looked relaxed, ready for more. 

What’s preventing us from being that fast?” I asked Jill who’ll turn 50 this year. 

Jill’s answer, lost in the noise, might have been, “Our legs, hearts, brains.”

Everyone wants to come in under four hours. I did not start marathons until I was over 50 and my fastest time is four hours, 22 minutes. 

What if I just trained harder?

And there’s the problem—something called overtraining. 

Last week’s blog, I doubted my ability to run Sunday’s O.C. Half Marathon, explored staying home to rest my shin splints, didn’t even mention reoccurrence of my old knee pain. 

Did I overtrain, chasing that elusive goal of a fast marathon time for LA, exhaust myself, putting me out of the running for the OC Half? Maybe. 

The fastest marathon runners I know put in 50-mile-marathon-training weeks. 

Leading up to L.A., I copied them.  I liked the mileage, slow, and away from life’s obligations. People knew I was training and left me to my mania. In past marathons, sore muscles disappeared a few days post-race. After L.A. my shins stayed sore for weeks. Maybe I overtrained.    

Of course I also wrote my self doubts about whether I should race the OC Half with shinsplints, and moaned to my daughter about my depression over 12-minute-miles. 

“That’s the wrong attitude,” she said. “Forget finish time. Run and have fun.” 
“Great idea,” I said because it’s best to agree with my daughter.
“Baloney,” I thought. Have fun hobbling about? Protect my legs instead of give it my all? No fun.

In the meantime, I took the week off. 

Along the way, my shin splints disappeared, my knees repaired. Race day, I showed up, a changed women in legs and head. My legs liked the resting week. 

My brains are in my legs apparently because I ran the OC Marathon without a care. Didn’t run with a pace group, didn’t try for any special time and enjoyed the sensations of moving through the course with fellow runners.

The result: First Place, Females 70-74, time  2 hours 8 minutes. Eight minutes slower than usual but who cares. 


Now about that overtraining…This spring it got me first place in the LA Marathon and in the OC Half Marathon. AND, I have fifteen years to turn 85 and speed up as much as that champion 85-year-old who came in under 4 hours. Maybe I'll keep on overtraining.

Maybe I won't. 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

RUNNER'S QUANDRY:

Shin splints. I’ve got ‘em.

MayoClinic.org describes them as:
“…pain along the shinbone (tibia) — the large bone in the front of your lower leg. 
Medically known as medial tibial stress syndrome, shin splints often occur in athletes who have recently intensified or changed their training routines. The muscles, tendons and bone tissue become overworked by the increased activity.”
webmd.com tells the story of my life, (my shin’s lives) with the comment, “ Shin splints are very common. Runners might get them after ramping up their workout intensity…”

As readers might know, I achieved my pledge of March 9th L.A. Marathon, 1st Place, Females 70-74. Work-outs for weeks before L.A. included a string of 50-mile-weeks.

Expecting to come out of the experience sore, I paid no attention to the shin splints. 

Now I’m paying attention.

First, they’re not going away. 

Second, I’ve paid $128  for the OC  Half Marathon this Sunday, May 4th, 2014 

DO I RUN IT OR NOT?

Last Saturday in what should have been my last long run before the half marathon I fell way behind other runners. Sweet Catherine waited for me. As we ran along together, I confessed, “I have shin splints. This 12-minute pace protects my shins.”

“Get off the trail,” Catherine commanded. “I raced with shin splints which led to a stress fracture which ended in a broken leg. We want you running with us for a long time. That means rest now. NO RACE.” 

I listened to her, turned and ran the grass around the Corona del Mar track where cushioning left me pain free.

Further reading of WebMd describes;

-“Irritated and swollen muscles, often from overuse. That’s me

-“Flat feet —when the impact of a step makes the foot’s arch collapse. That’s me. 

-AND both sites say: Rest, ice, arch supports, occasionally use of anti inflammatories, range of motion exercises, physical therapy. 

WebMD says,”You’re not recovered until you can exercise without pain.”

Wondering whether to run the OC Half, I looked for a compromise.
I told my Saturday Runners, “I will run the half marathon with my number but without my chip. Therefore, I won’t be tempted to race.

Murph, a former champ said, “Relax, take the slow time. I used to tell people that the day I ran a 4-hour-marathon, I’d quit. Then I had the car accident and broke my leg. Now I’m glad to be out running 4-hour-marathons.” 

My friend, Geoff, a doctor, said, “Do not race injured.” 

Annie, a hiker, biker, golfer, said, “Race the half marathon and then rest for a month.”

Returning home after all this advice, I found my husband at breakfast, and said, “I don’t know whether to run the O.C. Half next Sunday. I’m running so slowly protecting my shin-splints.” 


“Here’s what you should do, but you won’t like it,” he said. “Don’t hike Monday, don’t run all week, and don’t race.”

I know when I’m really injured. I postponed Boston for a year because I could hardly walk, I missed Marine Corps Marathon because I couldn’t straighten my leg. Both times, I took a few months off. Today, I can power hike, run slowly, walk without pain. 


I’d say this is a minor injury, one that will affect my time but not exclude me from the fun. So, who’s advice do I take? 

I’ll wait until Sunday morning to decide.  

Friday, April 25, 2014


CONTINUING WITH NEW AGE GROUP—WOMEN 70-74

I’ve paid my money—lots of, $110.00!—to run the Orange County Half Marathon next Sunday, May 4th.

Why did I do that?

My legs are still tired from the L.A. Marathon. I have shin splints. First time I’ve ever had sore shins for a whole month after a race. 

My top speed seems to be 11-minute-miles. Terrible pace for a half marathon. 
I’m in the habit of finishing half marathons at the two hour mark. That means I used to do nine-minute miles. 

My enthusiasm, after L.A. decreased with every week. At first, I kept my mileage up around 13 miles each run because I knew I had this half marathon coming up. My enthusiasm decreased with every week. Last week’s runs have been 8 miles, no more. Next week I’ll do less. 

Perhaps I’m having trouble recovering from L.A. due 50-mile-weeks I put in as I trained for the marathon. That’s a lot of mileage. 

Its true that the 85 degree heat at the L.A. Marathon killed me in the last few miles, but I don’t think the leg cramps I suffered weeks ago would be responsible for my present dead-legs.

AND HERE IS THE KICKER: Jake my coach, an engineer does exhaustive research on everything. A few weeks after L.A., he ran along beside me and went over the figures proving that people slow with age.

I can’t quote him exactly, but I remember too well the point of his statistics. There’s a downward curve for all runners past a 60 and even steeper tumble past 70. 

Another coach, John, fell apart at 70, saying he just couldn’t get his legs going any more. I ignored John’s pronouncements of doom because I thought he wore himself out racing  too much. I figured all those fast miles were responsible for his running demise. We never see him anymore.

In my case, one bad sign is the fact that I’m falling behind younger people whom I used to beat. Today I ran with Muffy and Jan who always out-ran me for the first two miles, but, in the final stretch I would pass them by half a block. 

I’d walk back to meet them. Now they walk back to retrieve me. 

Have you ever wondered if your head was playing tricks on you? Maybe I heard Jake’s and John’s comments on aging too clearly. Maybe my mind is slowing my legs.

However when my head commands me to move fast, my legs don’t respond. 


My time at the O. C. Half Marathon will tell the tale. I’m not looking forward to the finish.

Thursday, March 20, 2014


WHY I WAS ACTUALLY FIRST PLACE IN THE LA MARATHON AND WHAT HAPPENED TO MAKE ME SECOND FOR 10 HOURS


Where are you located? I asked the voice on the phone. The flat vowels were reminiscent of Prairie Home Companion. 

“I’m here in Duluth,” he told me.

The voice belonged to John Magnuson whose business, MTEK, times races, “from Dallas to Duluth and Boston to L.A.” I’d called to interview him about my experience of being in first place, deposed to second place and then back in first. 

John told me he reviewed the first place holders who were within 95% of a world record and found that the runner who “beat my time” had no chip times from the start to past the half. 
He disqualified her. She’d run less than half the race. He put me back in first place. My chip times reflected my 10 minute pace for the first half, slowing to 10:25 at Mile 18 and then down to a snail’s pace when leg cramps jammed my legs down to a walk to the finish. 

I asked John, “Do you get many runners jumping in?”

Youbetcha,” he answered. “Sometimes they want the finisher’s shirt, are injured and can’t run the whole race, or run a friend in the last few miles.”

“So you were in L.A. last week-end and you know how hot it was,” I said.

“Oh yah, when it’s winter in Duluth, I pray for races in warm places, and LA was one of them.”

Saying good bye to John, I knew that the peaks and valleys of the L.A. Marathon ended up in a peak. 

I’d taken a risk, told the readers of my local newspaper that I was trying for first place the year I turned 70, and I’d made it in spite of 85 degree weather and debilitating leg cramps. 

Here’s the real truth: The Saturday Runners made the win possible.

1. Jill and Jake drove me to L.A. to get my bib. Jill planned the meeting point. Jake had to put up with anxiety producing L.A. freeway traffic. I was care-free

2. Caroline and Catherine rented a van for marathon morning with JohnO driving. JohnO dropped seven Saturday Runners off at the start. No parking challenges, I was care-free.

3. I forgot my pre-race peanut butter sandwich so Catherine shared her PBJ sandwich with me, Judy gave me a power bar. I was nourished, pre-race.

4. The week before I used Jill’s advice: NO fruit or vegetables. I’d eaten several cups of white rice the day before. No potty stops needed.

5. I’d followed (most of) Jake’s, Caroline’s advice on work-out mileage and taper—no running the week before. I was prepared but rested.

6. JUDY PACED ME THE WHOLE RACE. She and Caroline got me water, creased the cup for drinking on-the-run and kept me on the center of the street, level ground. Judy stuck with me at a regular pace which kept me from surging ahead or looking at my Garmin. I looked at Judy.

7. When leg cramps struck and I willed myself to run but a solidly cramped leg nearly toppled me into face-plant, Judy gently encouraged me. 

When I knew I couldn’t run safely and said nasty things, Judy gently encouraged me. She responded sweetly to my despondent rantings.

I came in only about 2 minutes ahead of second place runner. 

That two-minute-advantage, I owe to Saturday Runners. 

Besides, they gave me lots of material for column after column and I didn’t even tell the all the racy parts. 

Stick with me for the off-color future.  

XXOO to Saturday Runners from Carrie



Monday, March 10, 2014

LA MARATHON DAY: MARCH 9, 2014-----------SIZZLE

The phone rang as I was getting in bed at 8:30p.m. the night before the marathon. My running friends’ rented van was picking me up at 4:30 a.m. which was really 3:30 a.m. due to daylight savings change marathon morning.

I answered the phone and heard the quiet voice of my responsible, reliable, reserved marathon pacer, Judy. 

“When I got off the exercise bike at the gym, my leg felt terrible. I hate to say it but it feels like it did when I had a stress fracture. I want to be with you tomorrow, but…” Judy’s voice trailed off

“Judy, rest and get better whether you pace me or not.”

So, I tucked myself in wondering if I’d have a pacer, about the effects of sleep deprivation, and what the 81 degree weather forecast would do to my run.  Oh, and if I’d have dreaded port-o-pottie stops slowing my marathon. Turned out, only one of the problems would matter.

Awoke at 3:40, dressed, polished off the last morsel of a pot of white rice (anti-poo medicine) and runners gathered at my door. 

Please read my Daily Pilot Commentary to fill in details I’ve left out of my blog. Turned out Judy did show up. Her leg was “better,” and she was determined to get me to the finish at a ten-minute pace. We got to Dodger Stadium, the race started and I ran behind Judy, matching my step to hers, except when she scouted cups of water which she handed me. 

I’d planned to run to the mantra, “You are strong, You are fast.” but the night before I opened Galloway’s book, RUNNING TO 100, and read of the importance of relaxing, so out of Dodger Stadium and through Echo Park, I repeated, “Relax on the track,” to the rhythm of my feet. Lost Judy at around Mile 5 but kept up the pace. In fact, all the way to Mile 13, my pace was 10 minutes, exactly as planned. Found Judy about the time the sun broke the cloud cover.

The sun burned down on me. My family’s joke on hot vacations was, “Carrie’s wilting in the heat.” I hate heat. Turned out it was 85 degrees Sunday, probably more with heat radiating up from the asphalt. and 21,000 runners panting hot air. We climbed hills which did not bother me, the swelling on the ball of my foot hardly hurt, no stops for an over-active intestine, but the heat killed,sending 91 runners to the med tent and a dozen to hospitals. 

By Mile 24, my pace dropped to 12:22. That’s because I was walking. WALKING, felled by grabbing, squeezing, seizing leg cramps that almost caused me to crash down on the pavement. Some kind of electrolyte imbalance gets me. Yes, I took my gatorade-shot-blocks, Yes, I drank a lot. No, I didn’t take salt tablets. I had salt but couldn’t stand the thought of swallowing it. 

So, while the start of L.A. under a fairly cool cloud cover was glorious, the steaming end was a detestable disappointment. And I complained to Judy who stood by me, offering to massage my rock hard leg. I made a real spectacle of myself muttering “bullsh*t” to the crowd who called out, “You’re lookin’ good!” 

Then to cap off a the L.A. experience, I got home, I looked up my time and saw a FIRST PLACE by my name. I’D ACHIEVED WHAT I PROMISED MY NEWSPAPERS READERS IN SPITE OF THE HEAT AND A TIME ONE HALF HOUR SLOWER THAN I HOPED. I’D DONE IT!

Opening up the site a few hours later, I’d been demoted to second place. Sinking feeling, double disappointment. I hate L.A.
………………………………………………………………………………………..
I’ve had an attitude adjustment since. I’m lucky to be 70 years old and healthy enough to endure 26.2 miles anywhere. AND the sweetness of my running friends who facilitated the whole race for my success and gave hours to work-outs and running wisdom which benefited me.

Love letter to Steve(s), Caroline, Catherine, Jill, Judy, JohnO, Mark and all the Saturday Runners. Team support=more than first place. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

OF UNFULFILLED PLANS FOR RETREAT

This time next week, I’ll be done with the marathon. I will not be as tired as I am today.

My brother and family, plus my own kids and grandkids just spent a week-end here. They all left Sunday a.m. and I collapsed into a nap with the chihuahuas.

Woke up, cleaned the last stack of dishes, picked up the Sunday paper which put me back to sleep, so I put the paper down and rounded up the chihuahuas for a second nap.

I’m never this tired after a marathon.

However, due to driving to L.A. at 4:30 a.m., and Daylight Savings time, I decided to train myself to get to bed early last week and the coming week. Plans for early bedtime last week evaporated with the family visit and now they are evaporating for next week. 
-I’m taking friends to an exhibit of California artists which closes Marathon Sunday. So, it’s now or never. 
-Then another friend got free tickets for the Duck’s hockey game, dinner and a car to transport us. This is too big to pass up. 
-A third friend’s begging to fix me an early, healthy dinner which I hope I can put off until next week. However, if it it’s our last chance to see her husband before he leaves for a long absence, we’ll go.

The point is that life keeps happening. There’s no money riding on my marathon time so why not have fun with friends? 

True, I’d rather have seen my brother, family, and assorted friends AFTER March 9th, but Iet people take priority over sleep.  

The taper, on the other hand is something I can make a priority. And I must. Running shorter distances last week made me conscious of how tired my legs were. Up until now, I made myself ignore my shin splints and sensitive knees because I had to be out and on the road for fifteen to twenty miles.

Now, I realize I’ve beaten up my legs a bit. NOT BAD. But enough so that I see the wisdom of the taper. I’ll run only a few miles Tues, Wed, Fri this week. 

So, while I CAN do less running and repair the legs, I can’t seem to extract myself from night socializing and do more sleeping. I just hope it doesn’t catch up with me March 9. I want to wake up EARLY marathon morning with the endurance to put out a good pace for all 26.2 miles. 


Wish me luck.