Orlando Photo Extravaganza

It has been a whirlwind the last 10 days and so instead of typing out all of my activities I thought it would be better to post pictures of Esther’s and my trip to Florida. Originally, I was slated to race the inaugural Run Nona 15k in Orlando but my stress fracture changed those plans. Esther was still on board to run the race as well so we decided to make the trip and then spend a few days in Florida relaxing and recovering….well relaxing as much as two athletes can. Enjoy!

My outfit for the ZAP Holiday Party at Bistro Roca in Blowing Rock. Arguably some of the best money I've ever spent.

My outfit for the ZAP Holiday Party at Bistro Roca in Blowing Rock. Arguably some of the best money I’ve ever spent.

Esther winning the Run Nona 15k on Saturday evening!

Esther winning the Run Nona 15k on Saturday evening!

Dylan Hassett, Nicole DeMecurio, and Esther post-race. Dylan was 2nd, Nicole was 3rd and both run for Greenville Track Club Elite in SC.

Dylan Hassett, Nicole DeMecurio, and Esther post-race. Dylan was 2nd, Nicole was 3rd and both run for Greenville Track Club Elite in SC.

Track Shack in Orlando. was the main sponsor of the 15k. Elite Athlete Coordinator Chris Hughes did an incredible job of taking care of everyone.

Track Shack in Orlando was the main sponsor of the 15k. Elite Athlete Coordinator Chris Hughes did an incredible job of taking care of everyone.

Esther and I took a visit to the Track Shack store and she got in a quick run with Joanie and Galloway.

Esther and I took a visit to the Track Shack store and she got in a quick run with Joanie and Galloway.

Central Florida YMCA Aquatic Center. 24 lanes plus a section for diving. Not a bad place to cross train!

Central Florida YMCA Aquatic Center. 24 lanes plus a section for diving. Not a bad place to cross train!

Esther kept this cross training session fun. Her kick board skills were quite entertaining.

Esther kept this cross training session fun. Her kick board skills were quite entertaining.

We took a tour of Rollins College in Winter Park, FL. It was incredibly beautiful! (HPU watch out!)

We took a tour of Rollins College in Winter Park, FL. It was incredibly beautiful! (HPU watch out!)

National Training Center in Clermont, FL. Another beautiful place to get in a workout.

National Training Center in Clermont, FL. Another beautiful place to get in a workout.

National Training Center track in Clermont, FL.

National Training Center track in Clermont, FL. Thanks to Christie Snellgrove for giving us a tour!

Here is my last week of training (11/9-11/15):

Sunday: AM: 90 min aqua jog   PM: travel to NYC

Monday: AM: 90 min elliptical  PM: NYAC All Sports Dinner

Tuesday: AM: 1hr 45 min aqua jog/swim   PM: travel back to NC

Wednesday: AM: 90 min aqua jog/swim   PM: 50 min spin

Thursday: AM: 80 min aqua jog/swim   PM: 35 min spin

Friday: AM: 25 min underwater treadmill run   PM: 75 min swim in FL

Saturday: AM: 1hr 30min spin + 20 min elliptical

Total: 0 miles run, 6 pool sessions, 2 elliptical sessions, 2 spin sessions

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Trip to the NYAC

It has been 1 month since it was confirmed I had a stress fracture. I’m walking with no pain and the pool sessions, although boring, are keeping me engaged in training. I will hopefully begin to slowly work in some short runs on the Alter-G in the coming weeks. I really have no idea what the next few weeks will hold as I have never had a stress fracture in my life but I will continue to be cautious and smart.

On Monday morning I took a direct flight to New York City to join Esther at the New York Athletic Club’s All Sports Dinner. The NYAC is the club that Esther runs for and they have been a great support system for her the past 2 years. The NYAC was founded in 1868 and, in addition to being a private athletic club, sponsors professional athletes in various Olympic sports from water polo and rowing to track and field and team handball. The annual dinner is for those athletes that had either won a national championship in their discipline or made a World Championship team.

Esther was invited to this year’s dinner because she was on the World Championship team in August. Larry Rawson, ESPN track and field broadcaster, was the emcee while Hall of Famer Joe Torre and MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred were the invited speakers. It was a very cool event and I was proud to be Esther’s guest for the evening. I also really enjoyed learning about all the non-track and field athletes accomplishments. It is very easy to forget that there are so many Olympic-caliber athletes from less than mainstream sports that toil away in anonymity in pursuit of their Olympic dreams. And to have all of these successful athletes together in one room was very motivating and impressive. My takeaway: dreams, especially the really big ones, are worth working hard for.

Joe Torre and Esther at the NYAC All Sports Dinner.

Joe Torre and Esther at the NYAC All Sports Dinner.

Also, Esther and I were lucky to be at the same dinner table as Mike Brannigan. For those that don’t know, Mikey is an autistic runner from New York who last year was one of the top 10 high school runners in the country running 4:03 for the mile and 8:42 for 3,200 meters. Mikey’s parents were told very early on that they should look into putting him into a special school and group home but he defied those odds and graduated from Northport High School last Spring. Unfortunately, Brannigan does not meet the NCAA’s academic standards and thus cannot run at the Division 1 level despite over 200+ scholarship offers.

Esther and I were both very impressed with how happy, joyful, gracious, and mature he was. In speaking with his mother Edie, it has been an incredibly challenging road up to this point but both she and her husband are so visibly proud of their son. I wish him nothing but the best as begins his indoor season as a member of the NYAC! GO MIKEY!

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Thanks for reading!

Here is my last week of training (11/8-11/14):

Sunday: AM: 45 min spin (basically off)

Monday: AM: 75 min aqua jog/swim   PM: 50 min spin

Tuesday: AM: 1hr 50min  jog/swim

Wednesday: AM: 90 min swim, 50 min spin

Thursday: AM: 65 min jog/swim   PM: 2 hr walk

Friday: AM: 80 min aqua jog, 20 min pool HORSE w/Colley

Saturday: AM: 90 min aqua jog

Total: 0 miles run, 6 aqua jog/swim workouts, 2 spin sessions

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Swim lanes and soccer games

I had a very eventful week on several fronts. From a cross training perspective I was able to swim without a pull buoy and even hopped on a spin bike for a few sessions without pain. Although cycling doesn’t seem like much it was a positive development as it does put a bit more pressure on my stress fracture than swimming and to feel zero pain means it’s healing!

Also, I changed my locale for a few days to Chetola Resort in Blowing Rock as the heater on the Boone Wellness Center pool had broken. It was a nice change of scenery as I attempt to constantly keeps things fresh! Check out a few pictures of my pool sessions Esther snapped during the week:

Fish status.

Fish status (with belt).

 

Circles for dayzzz at Chetola Resort.

Circles for dayzzz at Chetola Resort.

From a coaching standpoint last weekend was the season ending Autumn Blast tournament hosted by CVYSA in Hickory, NC. In all, 9 HCSA teams competed in their various age groups, including my U12 boys and U14 girls teams. Both of my teams have been developing and learning a lot over the course of the Fall season and this tournament is always a great way to cap off the season against some teams from other parts of the Southeast that we may not normally play against during the regular season.

The weekend was very successful for both teams. On Saturday my boys won 8-1 and 6-4 while my girls won 4-0 and 8-1 which secured a spot in the semi-finals for both. On Sunday, both teams won their respective semi-final matches and so it was on the championship games. Unfortunately, both teams were unable to pull out victories and both of my teams ended up as Runners-Up for the weekend.

Although many, many tears were shed on both teams, the final games didn’t put a damper on a very solid weekend. Both teams made big strides forward and it was an exciting and educational experience for all involved (players, parents, and coach). GO HCSA!

HCSA U12 Boys Navy

HCSA U12 Boys Navy

 

HCSA U14 Girls

HCSA U14 Girls

Lastly, Thursday November 5th marked 100 days until the Olympic Trials Marathon in LA. The race organizers sent all qualifiers a card to take a picture with and post on Twitter. Since both Esther and I are qualified we took our picture together. Enjoy!

Thursday makred 100 days out from OTM.

Thursday marked 100 days out from the OTM.

Thanks for reading!

Here is my last week of training (11/1-11/7):

Sunday: OFF (travel back from IN)

Monday: AM: 1hr 45min swim/jog

Tuesday: AM: 1hr 45min swim/jog

Wednesday: AM: 2hrs swim/jog  PM: 30 min spin

Thursday: AM: 1hr 40 min spin  PM: walk

Friday: AM: 1hr 35 min aqua jog

Saturday: AM: 1 hr spin  PM: soccer tournament all day!

Total: 0 miles run, 4 swim sessions, 3 spin sessions

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My last week of training (10/25-10/31)

I will be very brief this week as I have been busy spending time coaching and getting in my lengthy cross training workouts. As I mentioned last week I have been using the Boone Wellness Center for my pool sessions which have consisted of a combination of aqua jogging and swimming. This is slightly different than past injuries as I usually spent most of my time either using the elliptical or just aqua jogging. Right now my foot is not quite ready for the elliptical and I don’t feel like the aqua jogging always gets my heart rate as high as I’d like. I’ve found that adding in a swimming component to the aqua jogging has made the sessions more challenging but also kept me more engaged and not as BORED!

Essentially, the goal of cross training is to attempt to get your heart rate as high as possible to simulate what outside running does for you aerobically. There are certainly many ancillary benefits of spending time in the pool such as blood flow to the injured area without the pounding of the road while also keeping other muscles in use and strong, but aerobic maintenance is the number one reason to cross train!

There may be runners out there who say they LOVE to aqua jog or swim but I’m not one of them. It is a boring and tedious activity that is only tolerable if you constantly remind yourself that the time spent in the pool will make the return to running much easier. Luckily, Esther bought me a waterproof iPod Shuffle and that has been super helpful in keeping me motivated and focused on the task at hand.

To be honest, there are days that I am amazed to look at my watch and see that I’ve just spent nearly two hours splashing around in the deep end of a community pool. Non-runners may think the same is true about a 2 hour run but I’d take an outdoor run in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains over a pool session any day!

So what exactly have I been doing in the pool? Well, I thought it’d be cool to share some of the workouts Pete has had me doing since I found out I had a stress fracture. Enjoy!

Sample workout 1: Lap swim to pool run…12 lengths medium / harder / all out x 4 cycles then 30 sec sprints x 15 (each with final 5-6 sec holding breath) – do 6 sets of this !!

Sample workout 2: Pool run – 15:00 warm – 20/20 power sprints x 15 – then 2:00 rest after #15 / then 90 sec snowball intervals x 9 (each w 30 seconds rest between and each with final 8-10 sec hands out of water holding breath) – then 2:00 after #9, before – 45/15 x 10 – 2:00 rest then 30:00 lap swim with intervals of choosing

Thanks for reading! Check back next week for more exciting tales from the deep end!

Here is my last week of training (10/19-10/24):

Sunday: AM: 1 hr 45 min aqua jog/swimming combo

Monday: AM: 1 hr 30 min aqua jog/swim

Tuesday: AM: 1hr 30 min aqua jog/swim

Wednesday: AM: 1hr 40 min aqua jog/swimming  PM: 30 min bike

Thursday: AM: 1 hr 30 min aqua jog/swim

Friday: AM: 1 hr 30 min all aqua jog  PM: travel to Fort Wayne, IN

Saturday: AM: 1hr 20 min aqua jog/swim

Total: 0 miles, 7 pool sessions, 1 bike session

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My last week of training (10/18-10/24)

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It was a very eventful week for me. On Sunday I ran an uncomfortable 16 mile long run at Salem Lake in Winston Salem and then quickly turned around and got an MRI on Monday evening. After overnighting the disc to Dr. Brian Fullem on Tuesday, I found out on Wednesday morning that I had broken my Sustentaculum Tali bone. This small shelf-like bone is a part of the calcaneus and is usually only injured during car accidents or landing on your feet from a decent height.

Apparently, the MRI showed a clean break of this bone but that didn’t make a lot of sense to Dr. Fullem due to my type of activity. He said he had never seen this injury in a distance runner and wanted to get a CT scan to have a clearer picture of the bone. Regardless of the severity, there was some type of fracture present.

The following day I made my way to Watauga Medical Center to get my CT scan and then mailed it off to Dr. Fullem. He quickly reported back that the CT scan did not show a clean break but “only” a stress fracture. After getting the news of a clean break only 24 hours before, I was actually excited with the update as it meant a much shorter recovery stint.

If I had in fact broken the bone cleanly I would have been out for months with very little hope of making it to the starting line of the Olympic Trials in February. With a stress fracture I’m still not entirely sure on how long I will be away from running but generally stress fractures are, optimistically, a 4-6 week injury.

The silver lining in this whole situation is that ZAP has everything I need to maintain fitness and get healthy as quickly as possible. I have access to the pool at the Wellness Center in Boone for swimming and aqua jogging as well as the Alter-G at ZAP when that time comes. Pete is confident that with these tools I can be running quite soon even if at 50% weight on the Alter-G. Even running at that light weight it is immensely helpful when I am actually able to get outside again.

And although it’s terrible to be injured I have put in a lot of miles the past few years and I know that base will serve me well when I am able to train fully again. In fact, over the past 15 weeks of training I’ve averaged 91 miles per week. That is 1,365 miles over the past few months. I will certainly need that strength as I try to quickly work my way back to fitness this winter.

My home for the next few weeks.

My home for the next few weeks.

Thanks for reading!

My last week of training (10/18-10/24):

Sunday: AM: 16 miles (Salem Lake)

Monday: AM: OFF

Tuesday: AM: OFF

Wednesday: AM: 70 min elliptical (stress fracture confirmed)

Thursday: AM: 50 min pool session

Friday: AM: 1hr 30 min pool session

Saturday: AM: 1hr 30 min pool session

Total: 16 miles, 1 run, 4x cross training sessions

My last week of training (10/11-10/17)

On Wednesday, Pete had me do a 6×1500 meter repeat workout at Bass Lake. Tyler was doing the same session but as he is incredibly race sharp (46:47 for 10 miles 2 weeks ago) and much fitter than I am currently, I did the session on my own. The goal of the workout was to run each 1500 meter segment faster than the previous one. It was a fairly windy day along the Aqueduct portion of the lake so the times would be a bit slower had conditions been perfect (more on the wind later). Here’s how it went:

6×1500 meter, 2 minutes rest:

  1. 4:46
  2. 4:45
  3. 4:41
  4. 4:39
  5. 4:36
  6. 4:39

2×400, no set rest:

  1. 67 seconds
  2. NT

Overall it was a good session. My legs felt way better than the week before and even though I got tossed around a bit in the wind, it was still solid. And while I was “fighting” the wind, Tyler apparently didn’t notice it at all! He ended up having probably the greatest 1500 meter repeat workout of anyone in ZAP history. He ran somewhere in the neighborhood of 4:25 down to 4:16…on dirt…into the wind! I guess when you’re really fit nothing really bothers you and the ground just floats along underneath you! Watch out for him at the Pittsburgh 10 Miler and the US 12k Champs!

Now for some bad news…Towards the end of the Wednesday session my left ankle got quite sore to the point where the cool down was mostly a limp. I didn’t think much of it as I often get various bumps and bruises from all the miles I put in. The next morning Tyler and I got in an easy 90 minute run and I could barely move the first 20 or so minutes my ankle hurt so much. I decided to take Saturday off and get my long run in on Sunday to see if a day off would help alleviate any of the pain.

Well, on Sunday my boys team was playing in Winston-Salem so I did my long run at Salem Lake. Salem is a great 7 mile rolling loop where I did many of my first tempo runs while at High Point. To make a long story short, it was an incredibly painful 15 miles. My ankle ached the entire time and there were large portions of the run where it felt as if my plantar fascia tendon was torn (I know what this feels like because it happened to me in 2011).

Salem Lake in Winston Salem, NC.

Salem Lake in Winston Salem, NC.

Suffice it to say, I left Salem Lake depressed. I have no idea what is going on in my ankle/foot but I know that it doesn’t feel right. I have had lots of minor tweaks through the years yet the pain currently radiating through my ankle is something I am not that exactly familiar with. Perhaps a bone spur? Some residual cartilage damage from years of running? A re-injury on my talus bone where I had a small surgery back in 2009? Maybe even a torn plantar?

I have been faced with my fair share of injuries during my ZAP career and although they are never fun I am NEVER one to wallow in self pity. I want to find out what the issue is ASAP so that if surgery or some outside intervention is needed I can do it without wasting weeks waiting for something to heal. After returning home from Winston-Salem on Sunday I immediately got an MRI scheduled. Luckily through the help of ZAP friends I found myself driving to Asheville, NC last night to get a scan.

Not where I wanted to be on Monday night!

Not where I wanted to be on Monday night!

Please think positive thoughts as I will find out my results tomorrow evening! The Olympic Trials are less than 4 months away and I can promise everyone reading this that I will toe the line for that race no matter what. Injuries happen and however long I end up being out I will keep my eyes on February 13. My goals have NOT changed in the slightest.

Thanks for reading!

Here is my last week of training (10/11-10/17):

Sunday: AM: 16 miles

Monday: AM: 7 miles  PM: 5 miles

Tuesday: AM: 13 miles   PM: 4 miles

Wednesday: AM: 13 miles (6×1500, 2×400)

Thursday: AM: 13 miles

Friday: AM: 11 miles (8×20 sec)  PM: 5 miles

Saturday: OFF, ankle/foot F-ed up

Total: 87 miles, 9 runs

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My last week of training (10/4-10-10)

Coming off of Applefest I was given a few easy days of running. My hamstring was not that sore after the race which was a nice change. On Thursday, Pete had me to a workout that consisted of a faster 3k to open, 4 minutes rest, then a 6-5-4-3-2-1 fartlek around the 1500 meter long Bass Lake. Here’s how it went:

3k: 9:19 (4:37, 4:42)

6-1 fartlek:

6 (5 min pace)
5 (5 min pace)
4 (4:45 pace)
3 (4:40 pace)
2 (no idea but faster than the 3)
1 (65 seconds for 400m)

This workout was a GRIND. I hesitate to overuse that word but for the purposes of this workout it fits perfectly. From the 1st step of the 3k I was working harder than I would have liked. The opening 3k was supposed to be 9:10 but I struggled to run it under 9:20. After beginning the fartlek portion of the workout I began to feel a bit better but I could tell my legs were still a bit heavy.

In the end, I was pleased with the workout when I learned from Pete that I had progressed on each piece of the fartlek. It’s nice to know that I was getting faster with each piece despite not feeling good at all. These tired and sluggish days are important to get used to as it truly preps you for the pounding of the marathon. Can you still run your goal pace when the legs are dead? Can you still find a good, steady forward rhythm despite not feeling good? These questions need to be answered with a resounding ‘YES!’ come February 13, 2016.

Away from running, I had a very busy weekend of soccer on Saturday and Sunday with trips to Mooresville and Pineville respectively. All in all, the week was yet another solid week of training in the midst of slowly getting back to 100% from my hamstring injury and balancing 90+ mile weeks with lots of time on the soccer fields.

Thanks for reading!

Here is my last week of training (10/4-10/10):

Sunday: AM: 16.5 miles    PM: walk

Monday: AM: 5 miles   PM: 4.5 miles

Tuesday: AM: 12 miles (8×20 sec end of run)

Wednesday: AM: 13.5 miles    PM: 4 miles

Thursday: AM: 14 miles (3k then 6 to 1 fartlek)

Friday: AM: 10.5 miles   PM: 4.5 miles

Saturday: AM: 9 miles

Total: 94 miles, 10 runs

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