An overdue update

Jeffrey writes an overdue update on life and running after October’s marathon.

Please excuse my two-month hiatus from updating my page. While dust has collected atop my blog on my Twin Cities Marathon recap, my return to training and the imminent winter holidays have kept me quite literally on the run.

After the U.S. Championships, I took two weeks of prescribed downtime. This consisted of a complete break from the running routine, although I kept my body and mind active during the entirety of my break. I spent the extra hours of my days getting outside to bike, hike and enjoy the mild October weather in Flagstaff. I also picked up some extra hours at the Public Library, and it was nice to maintain a level of productivity in my routine. I think all of these activities, combined with some good meals and a few visits with Dr. Kym accelerated my recovery from the marathon, and left me feeling rejuvenated and excited to start running again.

In my first run back, my initial strides felt awkward and running felt more foreign to me than ever before. However, by the end of my 30-minute shuffle down the Urban Trail, muscle memory had restored a level of fluidity to my form that reminded me of the 4900 miles I had already logged in this year. Even so, I wanted to be really careful and patient with my return to training. Last February, I was too aggressive in coming back after Phoenix and ended up missing more time because of nagging overuse injuries. So I resolved to be conservative with coming back this time around.

Right around Halloween, after a few weeks of  just getting out the door, I started integrating workouts into my schedule again. It’s incredible how a prolonged period of rest and recovery allows fitness to return and improve so rapidly. My training has also been increasingly enjoyable because I have been meeting with a few very talented athletes in Jared Scott and Chris Gomez for workouts and runs.

Jared is very strong aerobically, and he’s been a great athlete to do strength work with. A few weeks ago, we ran down and up the Grand Canyon, which was by far the toughest and most painful climb I’ve ever done! I’ve really taken a liking to climbing, and nobody in town seems to share my penchant for this masochistic style of running more than Jared. This past week, we ran up to the towers of Mt. Elden, and retching at 9200ft never felt so good.

Likewise, I have been learning a lot from working with another RunFlagstaffer, Chris Gomez. As a track specialist, he’s been very humbling to work with; his strength is my weakness. In a recent rep session, I was pulled along to multiple personal bests in 200m. I like the challenge of working on a weakness, and learning from a stronger (and faster) runner is the best way to improve.  And as a marathoner, I definitely think improving my efficiency will benefit me in the long run. Overall, I am excited have these opportunities to work with other athletes on both our strengths and weaknesses, as we all strive to become better runners.

Outside of training, I have been enjoying this time of year. For Thanksgiving, I traveled with Ali down to Tucson for a 4-day weekend. We had a delectable Thanksgiving dinner with her family, which was highlighted by sweet potatoes, dinner rolls, stuffing and a vegan gravy (I also helped make an apple crisp for dessert). If the company and food weren’t nice enough, I had the luck of seeing a pack of 20 wild javelinas romp through the backyard that evening.

For the rest of the weekend, Ali and I enjoyed being out and about in the 70-degree Tucson weather (while Flagstaff had its first snowfall). Our trip included shopping downtown, a scenic drive up Mt. Lemmon, an afternoon at La Encantada, a performance at the Live Theatre Workshop and a visit to Saguaro National Park. The holiday weekend was a nice break from our routines in Flagstaff, and I really enjoyed being in Tucson. I’ll definitely have to give that 8 mile loop around Saguaro National Park another run! Here are a few photos from the weekend:

As the Christmas and New Year’s holidays rapidly approach, I continue to reflect on how blessed I am and look forward to being able to celebrate these holidays with my family and friends. I am also excited for 2011 and all that the future holds.

Hope everyone is enjoying this time of year as much as I am. –JDE