Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
Thursday, December 25, 2008
No snow here... temperature around 23C at noon. I had troubles to explain to my daughter that we could not build a snowman and that Santa would not able to come with a sled
For my tendons, I simply threw the sponge: it was crazy to hope in some miraculous recovery. More running would have only make it a chronic tendinitis. In the morning I could barely walk up the stairs.
So I will stop running until I am pain-free and I can resume in a appropriate way.
Unfortunately, here there is only 1 and only running season (from October to March), so I will miss out completely the whole season. Very likely I must already think that my next serious race might be not earlier than 10 months from now... a sad perspective for a competitive animal like myself, but this is the reality.
I trained all Summer basically for nothing... LOL...and another summer ahead
In the next post, I will analyze the year in retrospetive
Monday, December 22, 2008
not much to say... the tendons are painful whenever I run. I am trying different combinations of shoes, heel lift, whatever to see if it might improve.
My most ardent wish is to gradually improve in order to run the CC Marathon on January 18th.
But the most likely scenario is that I hang the shoes until the pain is gone, so that sometime next year I can resume running in a proper way.
It is a real pity because now is the best period of the year for running. The weather is perfect, dry and around 15C.
I scouted the web for suggestions on the treatment of the tendinitis and you can find the most disparate opinions/suggestions:
- stop running vs run anyway in reduced volume
- use heel lift vs no using it
- eccentric stretching vs no stretching
- use cushioned shoes vs use flat
2 very authoritative sources like Dr Pribut's running injuries website and the sportinjurybullettin give almost opposite advices on stretching the calf...
Monday, December 15, 2008
everyone is very well, my wife recovers faster from delivery than myself from the marathon...
baby is very well, taken care by his little sister (who is a bit over excited)...
The nightly feed pattern seems at 20/midnight/4am, so I will try to crawl out of bet at 5am to run starting from tomorrow. I need my daily running dose...
I take the opportunity to reply to a comment from (.) (who is actually a good runner himself) about running a marathon in the heat.
I also read that article from Sportsscientists.com and, honestly speaking, I was surprise that the authors made such a plagiarism without even mentioning their obvious source...
.... because it was already everything black on white in the book "Lore of Running" (also from SA author Tim Noakes):
- Noakes reports some of his studies about running in the heat and that only smaller runners can dissipate heat well enough to sustain performance. There is even a chart with the relationship weight/temperature/maximum speed ... my weight condemns me to slow down inexorably at any temperature higher than 20C... while lighter runner (55kg) can handle up to 30C.
The subject of running in the heat covers a full chapter of this monumental book.
I am not in book reviews, but every committed runner should read it. There are countless information
- about the Wanjiru's victory, also Noakes makes a statistical studies that the "standard average winner" of Olympic marathon is not an established marathon runner, but most likely a rising star at his 3rd/4th marathon...
I am not even persuaded that Wanjiru did really trained a lot in the Japan's heat: in 2007 he barely achieved the minimum days of stay in Japan to mantain residenceship. I suppese that he did spend all summer in Kenya training, and stay in Japan mainly in Spring and Autumn to join the local racing season. Said that... he is a huge talent... we can not forget that his 10000m time at 18 years old is Junior World Record, only 20 seconds away from Bekele's open record...
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Sunday 2.50am : wake-up call
Sunday 5.30am: marathon in tropical weather, limping for 12km
Sunday evening: flight back from Singapore, arrived home around mid-night. Slept only very little for different reasons
Monday whole day: work. My general conditions were ok, just very tired. Obviously my calves were totally "locked" and painful, so even for walking I must use the "shuffling" style...
Monday evening: my wife went into labour (10 days ahead of schedule), so we rushed to hospital, after having trusted our daughter to some friends
all night in delivery room. Honestly I could barely keep myself awake...
Tuesday 6.45am: our son is born !! Mom and child are extremely well
Tuesday: all day rush between hospital, collect back our daughter, etc. Big exciting day, but I was almost falling asleep while driving, avoiding an accident at the last minute. Also got a speed ticket for driving at 80kmh, while the limit at 70, but I was so numb that I traffic signs were optional at that stage.
Tuesday 9pm: collapsed into bed.
so... that's an alternative way to recover from a marathon...
now it is time to enjoy the new-born !!
Monday, December 8, 2008
The organizers were very "supportive" to the sport, by inviting not only the usual Pro runners, but also asking to most of the Athletic Federation of South East Asia to send a couple of athletes.
For athletes from poor countries, it was a fantastic opportunity to race abroad, something that maybe that would not be able to repeat in their whole life: so I was very pleased to see a couple runners from Myanmar, from Sri Lanka, from Nepal, India, China and Indonesia (with a very kind and young female runner) and so on... at the start I also noted a barefoot (!!) female runner from India.
Said that, we are treated with fantastic hospitality and it was very interesting to see the working of the "Elite" section of a mass marathon.
There was a "technical meeting" to explain the course and other pedantic details (kind of "put your bib in the front" ... speaking to a audience of Pro runners..) + a course recognition by bus.
During the meal times, the big round tables were usually clustered by runners grouping by language: so a big Kenyan table, a big Ethiopian table, Russian table and so on... at the end, we were almost naturally forced to create a "greater China table" with our colleagues from mainland China, Macau and ourself (honestly to speak about running in Mandarin was not easy for me, a specific vocabulary to be learnt...).
Saturday evening, light dinner and than in bed by 9pm for a 2.50am wake-up call.
I took some Melatonin to sleep, so I was sleeping like a baby when I heard the bell ringing...
dressed, breakfast and short walk to the start point.
I felt incredibly excited, but I was sincerely quite anxious on how the right calf would have managed.
The Voltaren did have effect on the achilles and they were almost painless, but the calf was very tight, even if I did massage it in continously during the week.
A side effect of the Voltaren was that my intestine was blocked since 24 hours, so I felt weight down there, but there was nothing to do, just hope for the best.
5.30am.. gun goes (I was in the first line)
The weather was almost "pleasant". It was around 24/25C, with 80%rh and some breeze. The air is much cleaner than in Hong Kong, so I did not feel the same level of disconfort that it have been usual at those high temperatures. With sunrise, 1 hours later, the temperature went up to around 28C/29C.
It is totally dark outside, empty streets, no spectators.
the Elite Male all run off like rockets, while the Woman started in a different fashion: the Africans started like hell, while a pack of Japanese and Russian took it very easy and I hang up with them for a while.
My expectation was to run slightly below 2h50' pace (hence 4'00'/km) until the very few last kms and then maybe place a "sprint" to gain some 30" somehow.
I was conscious that my limiting factor would not have been the cardio-vascular system or general fatigue, but how much stress the right leg could have supported.
I was running with an abnormal stride, because I could not flex the food completely. But I run quite easily at my target pace of 4'/km until the Half (passed in 1h23'46") and I started to pick up many runners who were completely blown up by the heat.
but around 29.5k I felt that my intestine was in rebellion to the side effects of Voltaren and it was imploring for relief... so I made a long pit stop right at 30k mark and felt much better, with not that heavy sensation on the guts.
In spite of the stop (1-2 minutes), I felt still ok and decently confident, but not more than 500m later, the calf completely locked.
I was no more able to run at all, unless using one leg only and crowling back the right leg.
Stop? quit ? I thought about it, but it have not fair for those who selected me to race.
So I crawled at around 4'30" pace for 11km more... stopping time by time for a strech of the calf or for massaging it...
it was brutally endless... and I was not alone: I overtook 3 Russian women struggling and even last year Woman winner (an Ethiopian) crawled with me for several kms.
At the end I was done in 2h57'00" and I could "peacefully" succumb to cramps 20 meters after the finish line.
My team mates fared quite well:
Mr Lai (Man) 2h43' (well, 14' minutes off his PB but a solid race considering the weather)
Ms Fan SP (Woman) 2h58'58"... she is a stud, steady splits around 4'15" from start to end... no wonder she is the best woman marathoner in HK...
Ms Ross (Woman) something around 3h15', also slowing down for the heat in the end.
my take from this experience:
- if you are injured, take care of the injury first. Keep running makes the things only worse (my hip bursitis mutated into a achilles tendinitis... and I am already struggling for 2 months)
- pain killers pills have side effects and anyway you are somehow intoxicated.
- I have "balls" to make 12k in that conditions...
It was overall a fantastic experience and we made a great bond with our teammates.
I can put the national team singlet in a frame as souvening for this event !!
- rest until I am cleared of all problems (achilles, calf, whatever...). I will need to strecht, massage and do stenghening excercise, and refrain from running.
- do the husband/father for a while and focus on the birth of my child.
- maybe after Christmas, I will decide of what to do for the 2nd part of the season
PHOTO GALLERY(with Osaka World Champion Luke Kibet, before boarding the bus for the Pasta Party)
(I look good in the uniform... this picture looks unreal..)(done... 42km can be soooo long...)
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Tomorrow a better report with pics, etc. Now in short:
I run at 4'00"/km pace until 30km. The calf was very tight so I used "shuffling" style and organically I felt easy, even if I was running in a very weird style for me. I was running with 1 leg and carrying the other...
10k in 39'30"
HM in 1h23'40"
30k in 1h59'
Than it was total collapse....
The calf locked and also I felt sickness from the huge Voltaren doses and made a long toilet break. I was crippling and jogged to the end in 2h55 or something like that (I did not care... Just happy to reach the end..). The last 12k was horrendous.
I saw many many Pro runners bouncing back for going out hard in such weather.
A pack of Russian women caught me at 10k and they were clocking 3'50" pace (I did not follow). At 25K I picked them up because they were totally done by the heat.
More details tomorrow (I do not know who is the winner, etc)...
5.00am, 30min to go, Elite runners tent next to starting line.
Everybody is making the final preparation, not much need for a warm-up.
The World Champ in Osaka , Luke Kibet, seems very focused.
another big name is the 3 times woman XC Champ Masai.
My calf is tight, but maybe better that expected. It will not last for 42km, but I will start slowly around 4'00"/km and see how it goes
(This combination BlackBerry + mail-to-publish function of the blog is really a "killer"... It might be tempting to run with a BB and report back home real-time....)
It is 2.50am , the alarm clock kicks out of bed to get ready for the 5.30am start...
Outside a termometer on a building is flashing 26C (78F)...
It is going to be a long day...
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Let's imagine that you could unleash your wildest fantasies as a runner:
- land for a big city marathon and the organizer is there greeting you, with a bus arranged to take you to your hotel
- go straight into a meeting room, where someone takes care of your room check-in and already gives you the race pack, without queing for it in some crowded race expo
- a full supply of GU gel, water and else is available to arrange your special drinks to leave at dedicated tables
- all luches already arranged for you and it happens that you are seated at the same table with the World Champion
- a marhsall will brings you to the Elite tent nearby the starting line
- no need to shovel at the start to find your own pace... You are in the front line...
Well, this is what happening to me here... At some moment I would like to approach one of the Organizer rep and ask them to check again if it is really my name in that list of Elite Runners...
It is all so unreal... Especially my status if representative of a nation...
Our HK team is strong and I believe that we can do well (obviously related to our standard... Here there are bunches of Pro Kenyans, Ethiopians, Russian women, etc)
Now I must live up to the situation...
Physycal conditions report: the achilles are sore and the calf is very tight, but Voltaren is doing his job
Now I am more concerned by the tight calf muscle, than from the achilles itself (they seem kept at bay by the Voltaren).
(Note: the Kenyans and Ethiopians here are famine-slim, but eat like hungry wolves... So I suppose their metabolism is up to their leg speed)..
Race Number: 0051
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
At 8.30am Sunday (GMT+8), I will hang out the shoes for a good while until I am settled.
Tuesday 2/December (HK): interval 4x2km at Marathon Effort, recovery 1'30". Since it was really chilly, it was easy to hold 7'15" for the 2k. HR was around 165/170, but after 3 intervals the ankle was painful (not yet taken Voltaren)
Wednesday 3/December(Dongguan): took the car and drive to the edge of the forest (to avoid the 5k on concrete). Run 10k easy on soft surface, but calf tightened more than expected
Friday we fly to Singapore. I will receive the running uniform only then, so I will go live on Sunday with a brand new kit (hahah... this goes against the rule #1 of marathon: use only tested gear..).
Race strategy: I will try to run at 3'50"/km until is dark (from 5.30am to 6.45am) and than settle for a more modest 4'00" under the sun.
That should bring me to finish in around 2h45' that is quite respectable for the Singapore's heat. Obviously if the ankle goes for the worst, then I will fight Km by Km to reach the end...
One issue is that the tendons are obviously more painful in the morning than in the evening, because of the shortening during the sleep. The race starts at 5.30am, so not the right time for my achilles...
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Domenica scorsa era anche la Mezza Maratona Unicef. Le condizioni meteo erano perfette, mai visto niente di simile a HK in vita mia...
Stefano interrompe la sua striscia di vittorie consecutive, ma alla grande...
solo il mitico Kenyano Thomas (che mi aveva stritolato una settimana prima) riesce a batterlo di un risicato minuto... in una gara di livello eccezionale per Hong Kong.
1. Thomas: 1h07'42" (nuovo all-comers record per HK, battendo il precente fissato da Gezahegne Abera (olympic and world champion) nel 2003
2. Stefano: 1h08'50" (questo per un runner che 1 anno fa correva in 1h17'....).
3. Chan K.H.: 1h09'02" (frantumato il record nazionale di HK...)
Tempo eccezionale... correre in 1h08' per un amatore "alle prime armi" e' realmente una prestazione straordinaria.
Adesso dobbiamo solo sperare che le ragioni "di cuore" che stanno ripetutamente portando questo Thomas a correre a HK non generino un dominio Kenyano in permanenza...
Rivincita: domenica prossima a gara 10km
Monday, December 1, 2008
2 Quality workouts:
- Thursday: the wind was really strong, so our plan (with E.) to make a MP run was canceled (the training route is along the sea..). We opted for a 7x1000m in a shielded stretch.
7x1000m in 3'20"-3'24" (depending on wind direction), with 1'30" recovery jog. I felt in quite good shape, decent stride and the effort was not particularly hard.
- Sunday: long run 25km (with 5km at medium effort (3'45"/km)). It was very likely the best ever weather I had experimented in South China in the past 9 years. 15C with 30% humidity.... run at 4'05"/km almost effortless. Now I understand why my workouts are always so painful compared to what I read in other blogs, in better climates...
The bad news is that I really had serious pain on the achilles. I avoided to take Voltaren NSAID for 3 days to purify the body, but simply without Voltaren it did not work....
The right ankle was painful and remained stiff also after the warm-up... so my stride was altered. Really a awful feeling in such a beautiful day.
Later in the week I will post more on my current interaction with the physiotherapist... there are plenty of interesting notions on the subject of orthotics and leg length discrepancy.