Saturday, February 20, 2010

Spiridon Didn't Do This

The bike trainer isn't so bad for an hour, hour and a half. It's especially not so bad outside in the sunshine instead of downstairs in the basement gloom.*

But I'd rather be running.

I've backed off on the running the past 10 days. Since Feb. 11, I've run just twice, the 10-miler in San Luis Obispo and then a 10-miler on the soft chip trail of Glendoveer this past Wednesday. I almost convinced myself, after the Glendoveer run, that I could barge through this injury, if you want to call it that, without reducing my mileage. I'm still almost convinced. Almost.

What ails me is a little mysterious. In many ways it's the same thing I experienced in the fall and early winter of 2008: pain on the outside of my left ankle, just in back of the knobby ankle bone and spreading down into the heel and up into the Achilles tendon. Back then, two different doctors offered vague non-diagnoses, agreeing only that my Achilles appeared healthy. Since then, I've learned about trigger points and it's abundantly clear to me I have some issues in my left calf. When I work the trigger point in there the ankle/heel/Achilles loosens up beautifully.

So I've been doing a lot of trigger-point work and the run at Glendoveer was, like, 80 percent trouble free. I ran it pretty hard at points, too, with several miles at or under 7:00/mile on a very soft, slow track. That's what had me almost convinced. But the evening after the run the tightness and slight aggravation when getting up after sitting down was still evident. It made me afraid, and I haven't run since.

With 10 weeks to go until Eugene, I figure now is the time to be cautious. I figure—well, I hope—that a few days of extra rest here will allow me to put in some serious training weeks in March, crunch-time for a May 2 marathon.

The bike trainer is my salvation when I can't, or won't, run. I can work up a sweat, work the legs. Sure it's an entirely different sort of exercise and not even close to being an adequate replacement for running. You don't become a better runner by riding a bike trainer. However, you might not become too much of a worse runner by riding a bike trainer.

Next week I'm getting back to running, to see where I stand. A stretch of hard/easy/hard/easy all on soft surfaces. (In fact, I may not do another Eugene training mile on concrete or asphalt. It was a 16-miler on that shit that caused this flare-up.)

*On a sunny, 58-degree afternoon, why not go for an actual bike ride? Welcome to the life of the single dad. Plus, in an hour on the bike I can give myself a much better workout than an hour on the streets. I did some killer short intervals and a period of hard steady spinning. It was great.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sunday Run

There's been a possibly profound development in this bid to dismantle Spiridon's legacy, but I'm not talking about it, apparently because I harbor the hope that it will blow away, like a cigarette-pack wrapper on the wind (got hit with one of those while walking the other day). So I'll just say that I ran about 10 miles Sunday in San Luis Obispo, which felt at once foreign and familiar. What was I doing there? It was a quick trip down to California for a family function. Flew to San Jose, then piloted Dad's Lexus, mis padres in tow, down U.S. 101, through the southern end of the Santa Clara Valley, then the Salinas Valley and onward past Paso over Cuesta Grade and into San Luis Obispo. A gazillion relatives of mine went to Poly, including three siblings. And my eldest brother, who damn well knows how to smoke a turkey, and his family live in nearby Templeton, but it'd been maybe a quarter century since I'd spent any time right there in SLO town proper.

So I took off on my run without much idea of where I was going. It was 8 a.m. on Sunday and the burg was still pretty quiet. The sun was bright and the wind was howling from the northwest, but it wasn't cold. It was gorgeous. The Development That Shall Not Be Named faded from my mind. I went up Monterey Street. I wound my way to the other side of 101 to a preserve. Two people—I was going to say "homeless people" but who knows?—slept right on the path entering the parking lot. The path became a trail and quickly turned up the hill. You can't miss this hill as you drive south through SLO; there's a big M on it, for Madonna. (No, not for the singer; for this.)

The trail was steep and like the trails I mountain-biked in Riverside wayback when, it was ravaged by the cycles of months and months of dry interrupted by big rain: cracks and crevices galore. The ground was hard, though wet and muddy in low spots. The grasses covering the hillsides were green but thin and low. It wouldn't take very many weeks of sunshine to turn them brown. The Brown State. Not as inspiring as Golden State. I powered my way up the grade, passing dogs and their walkers. There was a split in the trail, left heading up to the hill—perhaps another 1,000 feet in elevation gain?—and right skirting fairly level around the base. I so wanted to go higher and almost did but then gave due respect to what horror the downhill might inflict on my ankle/Achilles problem. Oh, shit, I gave it away.

Anyway, I hit nearby Lake Laguna for a mile or two and then headed back to the motel. When I said San Luis felt foreign and familiar I was talking about the sunshine, the light, the texture of the earth, the generosity of the breeze. When I said it felt foreign and familiar I meant that it wasn't Portland at all but was California.