Sunday, March 24, 2013

Frustrations of a Distace Runner

Just a few weeks ago, my training was going perfectly.  Tom King was a bigconfidence booster, I was destroying my workouts and I felt like I was in much better shape than before the Houston Marathon.  After Houston, my original plan was to take some time off, come back slowly and then attempt to break 14:00 and 29:00 for 5k and 10k on the track and then peak for the USA Half-Marathon Championships.  It sounded good on paper but I decided to go a different route.

My new plan was to jump into a speedwork cycle since my speed was pretty neglected over the past few weeks and then do a short marathon-specific cycle before hopefully smoking some fools at the Boston Marathon.  It wasn't the most logical choice but after Houston I was on a mental high.  I spent so much time training, beat some solid guys and it was my first "real" race in six months.  I didn't want to have to give myself a pat-on-the-back and then start over again.  I wanted to continue to strike while the iron as hot.  I then emailed someone in the BAA and left it over to fate.  If I got some travel money and a hotel, I would run.  If not, I would take a break.  Two days later, I was entered.  I emailed Jeffrey Eggleston, who can drop fast marathons left and right without much recovery in between.  He gave me some solid advice, my marathon recovery went much faster than expected and then I made my Boston training plan. 

Boston is more about racing the course, than racing people.  It drops over 400 feet from start to finish but will wreck you if you don't run it correctly.  The first mile drops 130 feet and then has a ton more downhill running through 15 miles, followed by rolling hills from 16-21 and then some more downhill running.  While researching the course, people frequently talked about how their quads lock up and stop working the last several miles with the last few miles being a death march.  Bob Hodge went from 20th place to 6th place over the last several miles one year and the course definitely rewards those who are patient and bide their time, much like how I like to race.  Again, I used other people as resources and got some good advice from my Monday night training partner, Doug Boomer and my Hood to Coast teammate, Nick End.

But running the course correctly doesn't mean much if you don't prepare yourself to run the course.  My training plan included a lot of running over hills, with a downhill focus.  All of my long runs end down a rolling two mile downhill, which drops about 200 feet, which would be a good tool.  It even had a replica of Heartbreak Hill just before the downhills started.  I also planned some fast long runs (about 90-95% of marathon pace) over some really rolling terrain, was going to do severely downhill strides on a grass golf course and do a lot of fartlek running over hills.  I also had some tempo runs with a long downhill finish planned.  Heck, I even took my chances by meeting a potential weirdo off Craigslist to buy a squat rack/bench with plans of doing slow, eccentric squats to prepare my muscles for the eccentric contractions from the downhills.  But the guy was actually pretty nice and not a weirdo, even though he had more than his fair share of  assault rifles hanging up in his living room. I'd hate to break into his apartment.

As mentioned earlier, training was going really well and I was enjoying the challenge of trying to set up the ideal training for the course.  The field was also really deep with a ton of guys in the 2:12-2:18 range,  which would give me a lot of guys to hopefully chase down.

But about a week and a half ago, something was off.  I felt light-headed and dizzy 24/7, would struggle anytime I ran something at a fast pace and also quickly put on 2-3 pounds even though I cleaned up my eating a good bit (I was trying to enter Boston at a lighter weight than I've been in the past...less weight to carry up, less pounding on the way down.)  I thought for sure it was low iron but my iron was fine.  But my TSH reading came back about a point higher than it usually is.  I contacted two very fast runners that also struggle with thyroid issues and they gave me good advice and felt like my TSH was high.  One of them even gave me their phone number, despite never meeting him in really life.  Runners are a friendly bunch.

As soon as I thought I potentially had hypothyroidism, I did what any rational person would do and convinced myself I had every symptom Google said you could have.  I had the muscle aches, weight gain, my body temperature is normally 96/97 and over the last few weeks, my hands have turned purple whenever it's been cold outside.  My hands and feet are always cold and my favorite form of attack on Mary (besides Dutch Ovens) are to touch her stomach with my hand while she's sleeping, which usually results in her waking up with a yelp.

I'm trying to get in to see an endocrinologist this week and honestly, I hope it's not a thyroid issue.  My running has been going really well over the past few years and I don't want to play lab scientist with hormones in my body until I figure out the right dose.  In running, slowing me down five seconds a mile will kill me, and that's a real reality when trying to figure out the right dosage.

So unfortunately, Boston is out.  I'm completely bummed because I was fit and looking forward to being part of such a prestigious race.  Hopefully I can be ready in time for the Country Music Marathon in four weeks and to be honest, I had plans of doing a Boston, Country Music Marathon double, with just 12 days rest.  Dumb, I know but I was up for the challenge.

Ideally, I'd like to get in some decent, easier mileage this week and then transition to some faster workouts.  I'd like to still run the Country Music Marathon, as a long run, much like I did at Rocket City, then hit the track for an assault on sub 14, followed by a solid race at the half marathon championships.  After that, a nice, long break!


  1. That sucks to hear, Scott. Hope you get it all sorted out quickly and with minimal frustration and can get back to tearing things up. Good luck!

  2. Oh man! I was really excited for you and Boston but I understand. I will be racing Boston this year (with the slower/ non-elite runners!) and I will also be in Nashville for Country Music pacing my youngest sister for her first half marathon. I hope you get in to see someone soon and you can get whatever is going on under control so you can be in top shape for Nashville.

  3. Bummer on Beantown. Its really hard to keep all systems firing for so long. Maybe just a little mini-break will do you some good. Get re-charged, get healthy, and be ready to kill it the rest of the spring and at the HM champs.

  4. Tia, is Tessa the run running? The course is pretty tough and the weather is always unpredictable (extreme thunder storms, a million degrees, etc.) If I'm able to run, I'm just going to use it at a steady long run and not kill myself.

    Jake, are you going back to Duluth this year?