So I suck at keeping up on my blog. The reason…..I have very little to report. About 6 weeks ago I hammered a workout. I ran 8 miles, with miles 5 and 6 under 5:15 and I felt like I was jogging. After i finished, I bike about 20 miles over the weekend with my girls in their bike trailer. When I work up the next day I was really stiff but I ran anyway and on about my fifth step I severely pulled my calf. I took a month off from running and did very little while I was on the mend. I am back at it again, and I am feeling pretty good. This weekend I got back on the track….an old dirt one at that. I did 4X400, just nice and easy after an hour run.
I think that my biggest issue is building strength in my calves. The surgeries really caused a lot of atrophy in both of them and because I run on my toes so much, it has caused me some problems. I am tired of being hurt, but I decided that I need to stay aggressive in my training. I live life one way and that is full speed ahead. Why should I train any differently?? So, we’ll see how it goes! I am going to post more as I move forward with my training, I promise!
It has been a while since I last reported something, mostly because there is little to report. I am running more but I am really only up to about 30 miles a week. Most are slow and relaxed but I am now doing some strides on slight inclines and I have worked my long runs up to about 8 miles. I know that most runners have experienced the “trying to get back in shape” syndrome, but I am really struggling this time around. Months of inactivity will do that I suppose. The good news is that my Achilles tendon is responding well to my increased mileage and intensity of my longer runs.
More good news is that the better I feel, the more I want to do. As long as my body reacts well to the training, I think that I should be able to start doing some interval training in the summer. It is exciting to see the Olympic Trials coming up, but honestly it is a bit bitter sweet. This will be the first time in a while that I am not going to be in the mix. I have decided that my first step back into “competition” will be at the SB Half. A bit out of my comfort zone, but that is a big part of why I decided to run it.
Until next time, and I promise to start writing more….hopefully with good news!
Happy New Year Fellow Runners,
Some good news to report….I am back “running.” It has been a painful process, but I have started doing some slow 4-5 mile runs…after such a long layoff I will take any mileage that I can get. I started by walking a lap on an old dirt track up here in Ojai and then I would jog a lap. Then I moved on to jogging two laps and finally I began to go on some easy runs on some of the more level runs up here.
I nearly saw my life come to an end on my very first run on the Ojai Valley Trail, however. As I was coming to the end of my run I saw three dogs that were off leashes and I noticed (from about 150 meters away) that one of them had the familiar body shape of a pit bull. So I slowed to a walk to wait and see if their owner would come around the corner. Before I knew it, that pit bull was in a dead sprint towards me! I have told this story a few times since this happened, but it was like slow motion as I prepared for the fight of my life and it is still so clear in my mind. I remember thinking about the horror stories that I have heard on the news about pit bull attacks. Just before the dog got to me it jumped and was about chest level before I jumped and managed to kick it away.
Now let me tell you, I am not exactly sure what the protocol is when a dog attacks you, but this guy was coming for blood. I did everything in my power to keep him from grabbing my arms and at one point (perhaps in a panic) I let out this wild scream with my arms in the air as to make myself look at big as possible, and I think that I scared that dog into thinking that I was insane and just as aggressive as he was. It backed off for about 5 seconds and allowed me to bend down to grab a rock, which really sent him into a frenzy. Let me preface this by saying that I am a dog lover and have one of my own (who stays on a leash 100% of the time that I am on a trail…and I clean his poop!) but I finally connected with a solid kick to the dog’s chest after what seemed like an hour of fending off his attempts to get a hold of me. His other two buddies finally began to wander off so he turned to follow, but he kept looking back as if to tell me that we’ll meet again (God, I hope not!).
After surveying the damage, he had scratched up my shins quite a bit and to my dismay, there was a chunk taken out of my favorite running shorts. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the missing cloth was mere centimeters from my BLEEP!! The awkwardness of potentially flashing a fellow runner paled in comparison to thinking about what might have happened had my new buddy gotten a hold of me in that region.
As you can imagine, I went home a quickly drank a beer to calm my nerves and reflect on what could have happened. No hard feelings, I am just happy to be running a few days a week. The Achilles tendons are reacting well, so I am very pleased. I plan to continue my slow progression and barring any major clashes with pit bulls, I expect to climb to 25-30 miles per week within the next month.
Thought you all might get a kick out of my experience on my first official run back. Perhaps I should take the hint??
Hello SB Runners,
Nothing new to report on the running front, but I have been back to see my surgeon. He is very pleased with my progress (as am I) but he did lecture me for doing too much too soon. I had been feeling so good, but he reminded me that I am not 21 anymore and I need to give my tendon time to repair itself. So I backed off and will go back in a couple of weeks. It is my sincere hope that I can begin running again in early January.
I am still getting the awkward nods and smiles when I tell people that I am going to begin training again. It is difficult to explain, so I typically don’t try to explain my reasoning. Breaking the 4:00 mile for the first time was an incredible experience and I’d do just about anything to feel that rush again. My first sub 4:00 mile came in 2000 in Eugene. I was just coming off a 90 mile week and I felt awful when I landed in Oregon. As I warmed up, I distinctly remember thinking that I should not have wasted the money on a plane ticket.
Once the race started, the Eugene crowd got me fired up and I went through the first 800 meters in about 1:58 flat and felt like I was walking. The only guy in the race that I was really paying attention to was Dan Browne (Yes, the 10K/Marathoner). At that point in his career, he was still racing in 5Ks and miles as tune ups for his longer races. Dan and I go way back and actually have a bit of history. He went to West Linn high school and I went to Milwaukie high so we raced a few times, most in the 4 X 400 relay. We had a couple of battles that we both still remember to this day.
Dan and I were waiting patiently behind a couple of other guys until we hit the bell lap. At that point I knew that I had a great chance to break 4:00. With 300 meters to go, I was going to bounce outside and pass the two people in front of me. I took a look over my shoulder and saw that there was only a very small space for me to cut in front of Dan. I decided to point and tell him, “I am cutting out, watch your step.” Just as I finished saying that, Dan surged up to box me in (There was money for the top three and nobody raced for money better than Dan Browne).
I was trapped with nowhere to go and the pace was slowing. So being the impatient person that I am, I slowed way down to let the pack go by me and then I bounced out to lane three and took off. I immediately passed a couple of people and caught back up to the three guys I was chasing initially. With about 80 meters to go, the 90 mile week jumped on my back and I STRUGGLED to the line. My heart felt like it would burst and my legs felt like stumps (sound familiar?). As I crossed the line, I saw 3:58.xx for the winner on the massive scoreboard and then there was a pause. 3:59.xx for second, the Hayward Field crowd erupts…after another pause the scoreboard shows 3:59 high for Dan and the crowd goes wild. I was fourth and after I saw Dan’s time, I hung my head thinking that I had missed that magical barrier once again. Then I heard another eruption from the crowd and I looked up to see my time…3:59.86. I had just squeaked it out.
I was hurting so bad after the race that I didn’t enjoy breaking 4:00 until I finally started my cool down. I still remember it like it was yesterday. I was running down a dimly lit road and it finally hit me. I would be a part of history for the rest of my life. To this day, fewer than 300 Americans can make the claim that they are sub 4:00 milers. That feeling that I had as I ran into the Eugene, Oregon night is why I want to do this again.
For those of you that are wondering, Dan Browne taught me a valuable lesson that night. I never again told another runner what my next move was going to be!
Again, thank you all for your nice comments and encouragement. Enjoy the holiday season and I hope to see you on a run in the VERY near future.
This weekend I eagerly logged on to my lap top to see how the Olympic Trials had finished up. I still have many friends and former training partners that were racing for a spot on the Olympic Team. When I first logged on, the first thing that I saw was that Ryan had passed away. I can not explain the shock and the horrible feeling that I experienced.
Ryan and I trained together at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista so I got to know him fairly well. To this day I still tell the story of my first and only pulled hamstring. I was doing a speed workout that was designed by Joe Vigil along with Ryan, Meb Keflezighi and a bunch of other long distance runners. I thought that it would be a walk in the park….I am a miler after all. About half way through that workout, Ryan and I had dropped the rest of the group. At one point I looked over at him and he had this look of determination on his face, almost as if to tell me that he was going to hang with me no matter what I did. Sure enough, on one of our final intervals, I surged ahead and just as I went by him I felt a pinch in my hamstring. As I pulled up, Ryan looked over at me and gave me that look as though he wanted to say “You just got out kicked by a marathoner you chump!”
I learned a lot from that Vigil, Bob Larson, Shay and Keflezighi group. They taught me what being a professional runner was all about. I still thought that I could cut corners and that I could stay out late because I “only did it every once in a while.” After training with that group, my life changed for the better. I owe a great deal to them and to Ryan. I wish his family and friends the best. Most of all, I wish coach Vigil the best. He and Ryan shared a bond that I have never seen between coach and athlete. Even though it was cut short, I can tell you that it was special.
Everyday is a gift….It is just a bummer that it takes things like this to remind me of that fact.
You have to figure that this phase of my blog might not be all that exciting given that I am not doing much of anything (in terms of running anyway). I am recovering well. I have had a couple of post-op appointments and my doctor (Dr. Michael Steinbaum) is pleased. I am optimistic as well, given that the amount of swelling and post-op pain is much less this time than any of the other surgeries that I have had. Since I began to slowly let people know of my return to training, the number one question that I get is why and how come you have had so many surgeries?
The why is easy, because I can! I am still relatively young and I miss the challenge of training. I got so used to the day-to-day struggle that competitive runners experience. To take that out of my life has been a shock to my system and quite frankly to my mental wellbeing. I am one that needs to always be striving for something and running has always provided that for me. As for the multiple surgeries, I have no one to blame but myself. After every procedure, I rushed back into training. Racing was how I made a living and I needed to get back on the track ASAP. I was never able to fully recover properly and now I am paying the price. This last surgery repaired a tear that went vertically and was all of the way through the tendon. I suppose that you live and learn, but ironically, I am not sure that I would have done anything any differently. My training and attitude was all out all of the time. Could I have been smarter? Absolutely, but I know that I left everything on the track when I walked away from the sport.
My workout plan starts next week. I am going to begin with some light core strengthening work and then I will work my way into the pool over the next couple of weeks (yuck!). I am likely to remain in a walking cast of about 6-8 more weeks. I thought my legs were skinny before, you ought to see them now! In the coming weeks, I will begin to organize my thoughts in terms of a running program. I am very much undecided on the coaching front. I will need some guidance, but I have not thought too much about what direction I will go in. My old coach, Irv Ray is in Riverside and I’d like to have someone close. More on that major decision to come.
Thank you all for your kind emails. John Sprague emailed me to remind me of a relay that we ran years ago at the Easter Relays. Thanks for the trip down memory lane John! That was a fun race. Perhaps we can do another sometime…..am I classified as a “Master’s runner” yet. I HOPE NOT! Take care and happy running.
Hello Santa Barbara Runners,
Mike Miller here. It has been a long time and some of you may not remember me, but I called Santa Barbara home while I trained for the 2000 Olympic Trials and I frequently came back to the area when I prepared for the 2004 Trials. For months, I have considered making a comeback but after a great deal of soul-searching, I decided that a return to competitive running is not in the cards for me. I have no interest in racing in the US Championships or even the Olympic Trials. However, I do have one more goal in running and that is to run one more sub 4:00 mile.
The 2004 Olympic Trials unfortunately ended with me getting tangled up with Brian Berryhill in the semi-finals and I fell, ending my Olympic dreams. I have not stepped on a track for anything other than a few strides since. So I have decided that it is time for me to go out on my terms. As I mentioned, I want one more shot at the magical sub 4:00 barrier. I have a personal best of 3:57.13 and would love to lower that mark, but I will take 3:59.99! I have decided to write about this journey simply because the odds are not in my favor. I am currently propped up on my couch after having my seventh Achilles tendon surgery just yesterday (So forgive the typos. My friend Mr. Vicodin has a solid grasp on my motor skills). My training has really been put on the back burner as my priorities in life have shifted to my two daughters (Olivia and Emma), my career at UCSB and working on my doctorate degree. Finding time to train at a high level will be a challenge, but it is something that I am committed to once again.
I look forward to this challenge and I hope to gain some support from those that read my entries, but most of all I hope to provide some inspiration to those of you that are suffering injuries or just can’t find time to squeeze in your daily run. Perhaps reading of my suffering to get back in shape will make you feel better! The details of my “comeback” are unclear. The only thing that I know is that my sub 4:00 attempt will either happen in Eugene or Santa Barbara, and that I have a training partner. He is my retirement-bound boss, Ron Andrade. Hey buddy, sorry to keep this under wraps, but we are going to have to step up our training a little bit! I know I can count on you.
I intend on taking this process slow and it will like be a two-year journey as I recover from this surgery, which turned out to be much more serious than originally thought. I will likely post once a month, but if anyone has questions and/or suggestions, please feel free to contact me. I look forward to meeting new people during this journey. Breaking the sub 4:00 barrier was magical; I want to feel that rush one more time! Until next time….