The Happiest Race on Earth, Part 1

Friday, January 25, 2013

Mobility/Warm up

Jog 400m
Overhead Band Distraction
T-Spine Smash with Foam Roller

Advanced and Classic Programming:

Group Gymnastics Warmup:

Wrist Mobility
Push Up Complex – Normal, Wide, Diamond, Planche
Pull Up/Lat Activations – Normal, Wide, Narrow

Gymnastics Baseline:

20 minutes to establish the following baselines:
2 minute Max Effort Double Unders
Max Distance Handstand Walk
Max Free-Standing Handstand
Max L-Sit with feet over two 45lb plates

Notes:  Double Unders are max repetitions within two minutes and do not have to be unbroken. If you cannot hold a Handstand, the Handstand Walk can be scaled with max repetitions of Shoulder Taps on a wall or box, and the Free-Standing attempt can be scaled to Handstand Hold with feet on a wall or box.  L-Sit is ideally with legs straight and toes pointed, but soft knees are allowed.  Time is over when either foot touches the 45lb plates.  Shoes off will equal a longer L-Sit time!

Group Conditioning Warmup:

3x 100m build up sprints to 75%, 85%, and 90% of max speed.

Conditioning:

For total time:
Run 1 Mile
rest 3 minutes
Run 800 meters
rest 2 minutes
Run 400 meters
rest 1 minute
100 Situps

Notes: The rest will go by quickly and this workout will test your recovery.  Intensity should increase as each distance decreases.  WOD can be scaled to half the distance for each run.  

Cool Down:

Couch Stretch
Sampson Stretch
Pike
Straddle
Calf Stretch

IMG_9066
Bob M, always leading the pack.

Bob M is an undercover badass.  Mondays photo highlights the medals he received by completing a combined 54.2 miles from three different races in back to back weekends, two half marathons and one full marathon.  Bob has been a long time member of our gym and has recently started taking advantage of his fitness.  He has charged full steam ahead at unfamiliar races and distances, and has had a lot of success!  What’s so awesome about his story is that it is the result of a ton of hard work, determination, and experimentation, and is well deserved.  Enter Bob!:

I’ve received many words of congratulations on the marathons I’ve completed recently, and I’d like to thank everyone for that.   Frank asked if I would be interested in doing a write up on the experience for the blog, which was flattering, so I agreed.  After giving it some thought I realized that relatively little of the experience worth writing about, and why it was important to me, actually occurred during the races themselves.  Much more of the story really started long beforehand.

Flashback an unspecified number of years to freshman year of high school.  You wouldn’t know it from observing me today, but I was pretty fast back then.  Based upon backyard races and gym class, I thought I had an impressive track career before me.  However I quickly found that  I simply wasn’t built to withstand the rigors of grueling track practices.  Flat feet, foot pain, hip flexor pain, shin splints, cramping calves – you name it – I simply was not built for running.  I joined the swim team.

In later years I kept busy doing other things – biking, roller blading, hiking, skiing… but I was always jealous of runners.   Whereas I required helmets and thousands of dollars of gear, much of which had to be hauled around on roof racks, in order to fully enjoy a weekend away, all runners needed was a t-shirt, shorts and a pair of sneakers and off they went.  But I accepted that I was not built for running.

About five years ago I was convinced to enter a 5K race with some friends who insisted they were merely going to walk it.  But when the gun when off they couldn’t help themselves and off they went.  I managed to run a few hundred yards at a time, but the hip flexor, shin and foot pain all quickly returned and I had to walk most of it.  And truth be told, despite my regular trips to the gym my endurance was lacking as well.  I recently came across my time posted for this event somewhere online (the Internet is forever) and was surprised to see it took me 1.5 hrs to finish the 5K.

Fast forward a couple years and I’m in On-Ramp at PCF.  400 meter warmup runs left me breathing hard and straining to tolerate the hip flexor and shin pain, my old nemeses. 

One day Diso begins to introduce Pose Running to the class.  I’m thinking, I can’t run. This is going to suck.
“We’re going to introduce you to a different style of running which is more efficient.”

It doesn’t matter how efficient it is, I can’t run.  I’m not built for running.
“How many of you get hip flexor pain when running?”

I’m surprised to hear him specifically mention the most menacing problem I had been having for years.   I do, but frankly I thought it was just me.
“Pose running can eliminate that, as it doesn’t require you to swing your legs forward.”

Umm, really?  I’m skeptical, but you have my full attention.  Tell me more.

And so with that lesson my foray into running began.  But outside of warmup runs I didn’t really know how much pose had actually helped me.  Until Monday, January 4, 2012, that is.  That’s the day I came into the box and saw “one mile run” somewhere on the board.  The familiar “I can’t do this, I’m not built for running” quickly rang through my head.  But by this time I had become accustomed to that outside-the-comfort-zone feeling in CrossFit, so with a shrug of my shoulders and Vibrams on my feet off I went.  It was a struggle, but I managed to complete the run without stopping, it took a little over 10 minutes.  My shin pain was still there, as well as some foot and Achilles discomfort, but the hip flexor pain was significantly dull compared to what it had been in the past.  I was happy just to have run the entire mile; I couldn’t remember the last time I had, or if I ever had.

The next day I was still excited about running the mile.  So much so, after the wod I decided to run another.  Now the question wasn’t whether I could run it, but how fast.  I cut my time down to 8:15. 

Only two days later, enter Hidalgo, a hero wod which begins and ends with a two mile run.  Two.  Effin.  Miles.  Twice.  Once again I wasn’t even sure I could do it.  To keep the option of bailing out I opted for the one mile loop scaling option, figuring I could run that twice if I felt up to it.  Coming down Maxella I received some words of encouragement from Sara, who was passing me as she ran the two mile loop.  Great, I’m already getting lapped.  Coming back upon the entrance to PCF I did a self-assessment: shins, feet and Achilles kinda hurt, hip flexors manageable, breathing heavy but under control – slow down or even walk if you have to, but keep going, let’s see what happens.  While in hindsight I inadvertently cut some distance off the two miles by not going down and back the driveway, I completed the first (almost) two mile run in 16:55.  I then completed the two miles at the tail end of the wod.  In the course of a few days I had gone from having never run a mile to running four.  Frankly, I was stoked.

I started going to track nights under the watchful eye of Track Master Frank.  My Achilles got used to pose running. 

Gradually I addressed some of my old nagging problems.  While I enjoyed the initial feeling when running in Vibrams they left my feet sore after only a couple of miles.  So these gave way to Innov-8’s, which added only a few more miles, and then to Newtons (thanks for the heads up Frank) made exclusively for pose running – much better.

Red told me there were stretches that might help me with the shin splints.  Really?  I thought I was just stuck with ‘em!  One Google search later I was doing shin and calf stretches while watching television.  Within a week I’d say there was an 80% improvement, close to 100% within two weeks.  Thanks Red!  I can’t believe no one ever told me this before.

With all this progress I took a leap of faith and signed up for the Disneyland Half Marathon being held Labor Day Weekend.  I still hadn’t run more than four miles, and that with a break in the middle (if you can consider a wod a break).  But the timing seemed right, it gave me six months to train, and “the happiest place on earth” seemed like a good place to attempt something which was a little scary to me.  I figured if it turned into a complete fail I could spend the remainder of the day getting cheered up on the It’s a Small World ride.

In addition to track nights, where in typical CrossFit style we do a lot of short intense runs,  I began going on longer runs on weekends, both on my own as well as trail runs with Frank and others.  Beside music, I listened to a metronome which I set to emit a tone at 92 beats per minute as a way to monitor my cadence.  I gradually kept adding miles.  Hip flexor pain never completely went away, but some days it was more tolerable than others.  Six miles became a sticking point for me, and I had to push myself through discomfort every time to run further.  As the last weekend approached before I had to cut down my miles to rest up for the race I pushed myself to do a 10 mile run.  Once again at the six mile mark the hip flexor pain started increasing.  By mile 8 it was fairly intolerable.  The last couple of miles was a combination of walking and running – hobbling really – at over a 15 minute pace.  This did not bode well.

I went down to Anaheim to get my race materials.  I didn’t realize how big an operation just picking up your bib was.  Between race participants, volunteers and vendors, there were thousands of people.  This is cool.  Picked up some gels and, at James G’s suggestion, a couple of pacing bracelets, one for 2:45 and another for 2:30 (ha!).  These, in addition to James’s GPS monitor, ended up proving to be pretty helpful.  Stopped at the Cajun restaurant for a pre-race carb meal: red beans and rice and a beer.  Yum.

Race day finally arrived.  My apprehension allowed me all of about 1.5 hours of sleep the night before the 5:30 am start.  I was initially overwhelmed by the number of people, I had no idea so many people would be here.  Got a little stretching in, and with the launching of fireworks the race got underway.  I was surprised by how slowly everyone was running after the start.  I thought for sure I’d be the long pole, instead I found myself frustrated at the crowding and my inability to find space to get past everyone.  The hill running drills we did at track night and the trail running training came in surprisingly handy.  Any hills I came across seemed like child’s play compared to the trail runs, it was a great mental edge.

Mile six came and went without a hitch.  At mile nine I noticed not only was I well under the 2:45 pace, I was feeling pretty good.  With only a few more miles to go I felt comfortable picking up the pace, and I decided I was going to go for 2:30.  The fact that I had started in one of the later groups filled with the slower runners was working to my advantage now as I was getting a little adrenaline rush running past everyone.   In the end I finished 2:30:41 – close!  More importantly, my mile pace kept getting faster over the last four miles, and I felt great when I finished, much better than I ever had after the long training runs.  Feet were a bit sore, and still had that dull pain in the hip flexors, but overall pretty good.

Two weeks later I joined fellow PCFers in running the Napa Valley Ragnar relay.  Again, my runs went well.  It was under this post-run euphoria that I decided to sign up for the aptly named Goofy Race and a Half Challenge at Disney World in Orlando.  The challenge is to run both the half marathon and the full marathon on consecutive days, which will entitle you to a third metal.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.

(To be continued…)

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