It feels weird just writing this, but this week, we found out that my wife has a cancerous tumor on her thigh. The medical term for this is Liposarcoma. It came out of nowhere less than two months ago. At first we thought it was just a bruise, but when it didn't go down, Bella went to her doctor. An MRI and biopsy later and we got the rather shocking news on Monday. Yesterday she met with an oncologist and had a cat scan and full body scan, and next week she'll start on a five-week course of radiation, which will hopefully shrink the tumor so it can be removed at the end of August. We're taking this day to day. I feel like I'm in one of those bad dreams that you can't get out of but I know I have to be super strong to help Bella pull through. I've never been a very religious person and I'm scared beyond belief to be honest.
This year I've noticed that I need to focus more on the 'recovery' aspect of training than I have ever had to before. When I started running again five years ago at age 40, it was easy. I trained more and got better. I ran my best masters times in 2008 at age 43 on about 45-50 miles a week with a decent amount of intensity. Last year I upped the mileage to 60-70 a week and though I ran some really good races, I didn't hit any masters PRs. I think in retrospect, the mileage on my easy days was too much, even though I ran it very slowly. This year has been up and down. I had a good winter, but then hit my first race in March feeling very flat. I rebounded with my two best races of the year so far in late March and early April, a 17:24 5K, followed by a 36:14 10K. After that I had a month with some bad stomach issues, which has thankfully gone away. I feel like I'm turning a corner again, but it's only by doing almost nothing on my easy days. I've always been the sort of person that has wanted to work hard all the time but ultimately, competitive running is about performances so who cares what my training log looks like if my races are crap?
A lot of really good masters runners I know and have read about (including national record holders like Jim Sorensen and Rich Burns) take at least one day off a week and that's something I've started to do. I have one more race this summer (July 4) before I go back into base training mode and get ready for some hopefully fast fall races and a strong performance at the club nationals XC race in Charlotte.
Definitely a much better race than two weeks ago, so I'll take it, especially since this course had a lot of twists and turns compared to the much more out and back layout at Diemer. I ran 17:39 and was 11th overall and first in my age group in a really competitive race at Crocker Park today. Kind of hot and humid, but nothing unusual for this time of year. A lot of prize money was at stake for the top 3 male and female runners, which always brings out the really fast youngsters. The top 2 guys were both at 15:11, separated only by a few tenths of a second. Too bad there was no masters money! Anyway, I feel like I'm back on track again, especially after a really bad interval workout on Tuesday that felt like death. I'm planning on doing a 5-mile race on July 4 and then taking a racing hiatus until Labor Day weekend. I always like to regenerate in the summer when it gets too hot for fast racing and get in some good base work. If I'm antsy I may jump into something low key in August. Plan is to get back to doing those longer progression runs and hill repeats, which will help build the strength for cross country nationals in Charlotte, NC in December.
Oh yeah, one of the fun things about this race is that if you beat 1984 Olympian Brian Diemer, you get a free donut. Brian is the guy in the middle in Red, running with a guy who wears a cardboard sign, which says something like, Beat Brian and Win a donut!
My workouts have been going really well since my 5-mile race on Memorial Day Weekend, so I'm pretty optimistic about running a good race at the Diemer 5K on Saturday. Since that race, some of my key workouts have included 12 x 400 @ 82 (5:28 pace) with brief 200 meter recoveries last Wednesday; a 12 miler last Saturday with the last 3 miles in 18:54 (going 6:26, 6:20, 6:08); and 6 x 800 meters at 8K race effort with 200 meter recoveries on Tuesday (I averaged 2:51 for each of those feeling quite relaxed). I feel like I've got my bases covered as far as endurance, strength, speed and power goes, so hopefully on Saturday it's all systems go.