Vacation Time Again


fireisland_001This summer it seems like I have been away a lot more than I have been home. Don’t get me wrong, this is not me complaining – simply remarking on the regularity with which I find myself planning my training runs outside of my home base. Having recently visited Spring Lake, NJ and Virgina Beach, VA, this week see’s Jess and I ensconced on Fire Island for five days. We’re sharing a house with some friends and plan on doing as little as possible for the duration of our stay. With that said, I can’t skip out on my training runs and have mapped out some path’s that will hopefully see me stick to my plan as closely as possible. I don’t like running on sand, so I have worked the routes around the paths between Ocean Bay Park and Ocean Beach. On either side of those towns the paths turn sandy, so there’s probably going to be a lot of repetition as I run back and forth across the mile and a half stretch of paved pathway.

Jess is bringing her running gear too, so we might get out for a leisurely run together at some point. I’m going to try to focus on morning runs as much as possible. The last time I was on Fire Island with this crowd it was something of a party house, but these days everyone’s grown up and baby bottles are replacing liquor bottles on the kitchen counters. Again, not complaining as it means there’s less chance I’ll bail on a run because of a dodgy head. I can’t vouch for my diet over the next few days though. Beach living tends to revolve around burgers, dogs, and beers (which I thoroughly enjoy), so the morning runs will certainly help avoid trying to exercise on a belly full of malted hops and meat.

Finally, I have to be wary of the sun and protect my fair skin. I have a habit of underestimating my skin’s burn time and ending up a shade somewhere between a beet and a lobster. From above, my body has been mistaken for a localized forest fire on occasion. Obviously I would prefer to avoid having to bathe in aloe, so a factor 50 sunscreen on the face and neck while out for a run is mandatory.

Recovery Mode

rest001The after effects of my weekend exploits are not as bad as I expected. Although there was some pain in my left knee the next day, it was nothing more than expected and subsided over the course of the day without the aid of painkillers. As promised, I have to shut down all running activities for the next few weeks to (hopefully) allow my knee to recover. Obviously, I would prefer not to stop but if it’s a choice between taking a break for a few weeks or having to stop forever – well, that’s not really a choice now is it.

I am planning to travel to Poland in June for the European Championships, meeting up with some friends from Ireland and heading to a couple of games. I return on the 16th, which gives me four weeks of recovery time. During these next few weeks I will focus on the stretching and strength building routines I developed with my physical therapist and do some bike work to maintain fitness, but absolutely no impact activities that will put stress on the knee.

As you can imagine, things will be a little quiet around here for a few weeks, but should start back up again around the middle of June. There’s a 5M race in Central Park at the end of June and training for the Philadelphia Marathon starts in early July, so there’s not a lot of time to sit back and relax.

Piste Off

piste_off_001Evidently I was not born to travel down a mountain at 60 miles per hour on two fiberglass blades. The weekend itself was a great getaway – lots of relaxation time and a good chance to spend quality time with Jess. We got there late Friday night and settled into our room, with thoughts of the next mornings breakfast.

The following day we rented our gear just down the street from the B&B and took to the slopes. Starting with a relatively easy run, it was immediately clear that I had overestimated my abilities. I spend equal amounts of time on the skis and on my butt, having extreme difficulty in mastering two essential maneuvers; turning and stopping. Jess, on the other hand, had no problems and gracefully made her way down the mountain, stopping occasionally to peer back at me as I came crashing down to the snow and ice yet again. We moved to the beginner slope where the gradient was pretty easy and I managed to stay upright for a few runs. After lunch, we ventured to another easy run only to be ambushed by a blizzard as we were traveling up on the ski lift. At the top the snow and clouds were thick, but I gutted it out and managed to get in a few runs before the old habits returned. At one point the ski patrol had to shoe me like a horse to clear the ice from my boot and the gentleman, although patient, was clearly annoyed that I was on such a large slope with little or no skills. All would be solved a few minutes later, as my increasingly violent falls took their toll and tore the binding from my ski.

Later that evening we enjoyed a very good Italian dinner in town and returned home the next day. Although I took my share of bumps and bruises, the weekend was thoroughly enjoyable and a welcome break from the rigors of my training program.

Easing Off

easing_off_001Today’s run was supposed to be 8 miles, but given that my legs were feeling like lead and my knees were a bit sore, I decided to ease off a little and stop after only 7 miles. Towards the end of the run I actually felt alright, but didn’t want to push it too much and risk injury now that I’m only six weeks away from the half-marathon.

I had also introduced swimming as a new element to my training plan, and it’s possible my body was going through some adjustments at the time. Better to play it safe and get back on track the following week.