Monday, December 15, 2014

Training log - Week ending 12/14/2014

This week was 45 miles of running, 7 "miles" of pool-running and 4000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

Recovery week #3.  Still a bit tired, but definitely starting to feel more normal.  By the end of the week, I had built up to a 12 mile run - it wasn't terribly challenging from an energy standpoint, but did leave me pretty achy after.   It's definitely taken me longer to recover from Philly than from Shamrock, but that makes sense, given the thrashing I gave my quads.  Hopefully in another few days I'll feel ready to get back into training.  I really do miss the workouts.
 
I also got a new toy this week - a Garmin Forerunner 920xt. 

Did I need a new Garmin?  Well......that depends on your definition of "need."  I've been doing quite well with my 910xt, and have a 310xt as back-up.

Rather, I had a 310xt as back-up until this week. Apparently at some point it sprung a leak in its waterproofing.  It passed in a surprisingly sad splay of air bubbles and screen static during Monday's pool-run.

I named him Homer. 
Cuz no name says
sex like Homer. 
And when I hit the
wrong button I
yell "D'oh"!
Of course, I still had the 910xt.  However, that Garmin was starting to show signs of age - the battery life was half of what it was in its prime, it was starting to forget workouts, and it no longer screen-locked.  Time to put it out to pasture.

And yes, I could have just gotten another 910xt - it's a great watch and now available for a good price.  But I wanted new and shiny.  And I had a gift certificate to blow. 

And that's how I came to own the sex toy pictured at right. 

(it vibrates on command and I purchased with lust in my heart.  Ergo, sex toy).

So...how is it?  Well, first of all, anyone interested in the 920xt should read DCRainmaker's review.  Then come back.  (I'll wait).

***

Truth is, despite the pre-purchase lust, I didn't love this Garmin at first wear the way I loved the 910xt.  I think that's because there's several radical changes between the 920xt and 910xt that required some adjustment. 

For one thing, the design of the watch is subtly different from the earlier Forerunners.  To illustrate, I've posted a picture of all four of my Garmins.  From left to right, they are the 305, the 310xt, the 910xt, and the 920xt.

If you click on the picture to expand, and look closely at the buttons, there are some key differences between the first three models and the 920xt. 

First of all- for the previous editions the bottom two buttons (lap and stop) are actually on the face of the Garmin, just below the screen.  But for the 920xt, the buttons have been relocated below the edge of the face of the watch, closer to the strap itself. 

This shift in lap button location was mildly annoying during my first run with the device - when trying to lap, I kept poking the screen, where those buttons were in the earlier models.  By the end of the run, I had successfully reprogrammed myself to hit the right location, so it's not too hard to unlearn those old habits.  But it does require a bit of adjustment - I wouldn't recommend using this watch for the first time in a race if getting splits is important to you.

Secondly, while the 305, 310xt, and 910xt each have three buttons on the right (up, down, and enter), the 920xt just has two - up and down.  On the 920xt the enter button is also the start/stop and is on the bottom of the watch.  This resulted in a learning curve when navigating the menu - I kept hitting down when I meant to hit enter.

That wasn't the only source of difficulty menu-wise.  The 920xt's menu structure is different from those of the previous models.  I suspect that this is because there are so many additional features in the 920xt that it made more sense to revamp the menu completely than to try to build on the previous.

However, I found the new 920xt user interface (UI) hard to navigate.  With previous Garmins, I never needed to read the user's manual.  The 305/310xt/910xt interface was intuitive.  Not so for the Garmin 920xt - I've had to review the online user manual multiple times to figure out how to do things that were easy before.  I want to blame this on subpar UI design.  However, I do note that I am very used to the old Garmin menu structure, having used them for 7+ years.  Part of my struggles with the UI (and also the button location) are because I've had to break old habits; someone brand new to the Forerunner series, or alternately, a habitual RTFM'er,* will have less issue.  And the happy news is that 48 hours into my ownership, I think I've got the new interface and button locations down.
 
*RTFM -> "Read the F'ing Manual"
 
As for the additional functionality itself?  It's fun, though I'm not sure it's an additional $200 worth of fun.  Running-wise, I got additional metrics on running cadence (about 190 for me), vertical oscillation (8 cm) and stride length (1 meter during Sunday's easy run).  I love numbers, but I'm not really sure what I'll do with these.  
 
The 920xt also has a "recovery advisor", and smugly informed me after Sunday's run that I would need 5 days before I'd be ready to run hard.  I'm moderately annoyed that I've apparently purchased a device that will lecture me on the virtues of rest - I already have a coach, a PT, and a boyfriend for that. 
 
Swimming-wise, I do like it a lot more than the 910xt - it offers a lot more in the way of display screen options, and allows me to note the distance of drills at the time I'm doing them.  To explain this to non-swimmers - I liked swimming with the 910xt because it automatically counted my laps - letting me know when I had hit a preset distance.  However, it counted laps via the motion of my left arm, which meant that it ignored laps that I used a kick board for, and got confused by one armed swimming drills.  Now, I can add those in as I do them, to keep the overall yard count accurate.  It's a little thing, but it's so much nicer not to have to keep mental count of how many yards I've kicked.   The screen is also brighter and easier to read in the pool.
 
There's also some lifestyle functions.  It serves as a pedometer, which has proven surprisingly addictive.  Apparently I'm less sedentary than I thought I was - on a non-running day I've still gotten about 13,000 steps in*.  It will also track my sleep at night - tracking how much I moved during the night as a metric of how well I slept.  Of course, I'm not sure how much use this is - if I had a rough night of sleeping, I generally know it. 
 
*I pace during conference calls or when I'm trying to figure out something.**
 
**Lawyers love footnotes
 
Other pluses - much expanded battery life.  It's designed to be worn as a day watch/pedometer too, and so is designed to go several days between charges.  Additionally, it seems to charge extremely quickly when I dock it to upload data - I really have no excuse for running out of juice with it.*  And, as noted before, the screen is very bright and easy to read. 
 
*These words will haunt me, I'm sure.
 
Finally, it's lighter and smaller than the 910xt, following a trend of each Garmin being slightly smaller and more comfortable than its predecessor.  It was really interesting to don my old
305 on left, 920xt on right.
305 for comparison purposes - how did I ever wear that thing on my wrist?  Of course, there was also a time when I thought large car phones that plugged into cigarette lighters were amazingly portable, so there you go.
 
Downsides are that the vibration function is weaker than it was on the 910xt - sometimes I don't notice it.  And when reviewing past workouts on the watch, it doesn't show heart rate data - you have to download the workout to get that.  I find this annoying, because I like to manually input my workouts - I find it actually easier and quicker than importing the data into Runningahead and then correcting GPS errors and adding notes. (ignore the above - I figured it out).
 
But overall, after owning it for 2 days, I think I'm happy with the purchase.  And it is awfully pretty.

Dailies

Monday:   4 "miles" easy pool-running; foam rolling at night.

Tuesday:  7 miles very easy (8:38 pace), 1000 yards swimming, and some upper body strengthwork and injury prevention work.  Foam rolling at night
 
Wednesday: 8.5 miles very easy (8:46 pace) and yoga.  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Thursday:   Upper body strengthwork and injury prevention work, yoga, and 3 "miles" easy pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  10 miles very easy (8:43 pace) and a yoga class.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:   7.5 miles easy (8:28 pace), 1750 yards swimming, and upper body strengthwork.   Foam rolling at night.

Sunday:  12 miles easy (8:28 pace), yoga, and injury prevention work.  Later swam 1250 yards to try out new Garmin (and even out the log).  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Just a quick note: Facebook Blackout Day 2014

So, I'm participating in this event (happening on Monday, December 15) and figured I'd sidetrack my blog to get the word out.

Essentially, Facebook has a policy of forcing everyone to use their "real name" - which may be very different from the name they actually go by or would like to use.  It's a policy that has little effect on white bread middle class mundane people like myself, but is a hardship on many others, including:

  • victims of stalking/domestic violence who are trying to fly undercover;
  • celebrities and children of celebrities who would like to have a normal FB account and not dodge random friending entries every two minutes
  • LGBT individuals who aren't necessarily out to everyone
  • those whose current name doesn't reflect the gender they're transitioning to
  • those who are trying to maintain a sharp division between work life and personal life
  • those who commonly go by a name that is not their "legal" name.
This policy has caused headache and heartache to several of my friends.

Facebook absolutely is a non-governmental institution, and can institute whatever rules it would like.  At the same point, those of us who disagree with those rules can and should express our disagreement with those rules.  Tomorrow's Facebook Blackout Day is a way to do that.  The details are in the link below, but basically you join the event, and then deactivate your Facebook page for the day.

Do I believe it will actually cause change?  Honestly, no.  I think Facebook is too tonedeaf to hear the message.  But I also think there's value in expressing the opinion anyway.

I do believe that people can disagree on this issue - I think the "real name" policy is abhorrent, while others may believe it's not a big deal, and may even believe that Facebook offers sufficient privacy protections to mitigate the concerns of those listed above.  (um....yeah....)

It's an individual choice, and I have no animosity towards those who don't think this protest is needed.  Again, we all have the right to our opinions.  But if you do agree with me and want to participate, a link to the FB Blackout Day event is below.

https://www.facebook.com/events/772626502817075/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming&source=1

Monday, December 8, 2014

Training log - Week ending 12/7/2014

This week was 19 miles of running, 10 "miles" of pool-running and 5000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

I started some gentle jogging on Thursday, so 10 days post-marathon.  At that point, the quads were still somewhat sore, but there does seem to be something to "hair of the dog" as a cure.  Or maybe it was the massage I got this week, with instructions to dig into the quads hard.

Whatever it was, I'm happy to report that the quads have finally stopped hurting, except for some twinges when going down stairs.  Took them long enough - it wasn't until Saturday of this week that I was able to jog mostly pain-free (so, just about two weeks).  But I really shouldn't complain too much - the pain was, after all, self-inflicted.

While on the topic of self-inflicted pain, I'll also note that I went in for another follow-up with my PRP/prolotherapy doctor on Tuesday.  We discussed getting a follow-up prolotherapy injection in my right SI joint at some point (previously we did the left, but now that's much better, and the right is weak by comparison).  I decided I wanted to go ahead and get it done; he then offered to try to squeeze me in that same day, so I didn't have to schedule an appointment and come back.  I went ahead and did it, so that was an unscheduled rest day on Wednesday.  Perfect timing since I'm still in marathon recovery anyway.  So woo.

***

I also went in to see a nutritionist this week (I cashed in some use-or-lose vacation time this week, so it was easy to find the time). 

I had two questions for her: 1) I wanted to go over my nutrition/hydration before/during the Philly Marathon, to see if I had made any mistakes; 2) I was dealing with a recurrence of the nausea/lightheadness/digestive issues I experienced during my taper, and wanted to see if she had any thoughts about that.  If she didn't, the next step for #2 (har-de-har-har) was the GI doctor - and I didn't want to go there.  GI doctor appointments generally result in unpleasant procedures requiring consumption of nasty stuff.

As it turned out, the answers to questions 1 and 2 were the same, and annoyingly simple. 

The short answer: woefully low salt intake.  The longer write up?  It's below.

***

As background, I used to have major salt cravings and was never without a salt shaker.  I literally caked it on everything, and felt crappy if I didn't.  I also had low blood pressure.  Then I went on calcium channel blockers this spring, which had the happy and completely unexpected consequences of raising my blood pressure to normal and eliminating the salt cravings.  Woo.  I stopped caking everything with salt and embraced normality.

Fast forward to my taper for Philly.  During the training cycle, I ate about 90% healthy, but also indulged in tortilla chips/salsa and gluten free cookies- my weakness.  For the taper, though, I decided to cut out the junk food, and just eat quality food.  I don't eat processed foods, with the exception of the aforementioned junk food, so my diet was basically eggs, chicken and buffalo, potatoes, rice, and veggies, all flavored with a small amount of butter or olive oil.  Plus hydrating with water mixed with Ultima - my preferred electrolyte mix.

Ultima has no salt.  And the foods I was eating had very little salt included in them, since they weren't processed and I wasn't adding salt.  And I had cut out my chips and salsa and cookies, which were how I was getting my salt while training.

No salt is bad.  The body likes to keep a balance, so when I wasn't getting in enough salt, my body just dumped water like crazy to keep the balance and avoid hyponaetremia (which is both trendy to reference and hard to spell).  The ironic result was that I actually was dehydrated despite peeing clear and often.  It was all just going through me.  And I was dealing with nausea and shakiness and problems concentrating, but attributed it all to taper and marathon nerves.

So the marathon happened and I crashed and burned in a way that appeared to be hydration related, even though I drank a ton and it was a cool day, because I didn't include ALL the necessary electrolytes.

And after the marathon, I hit the salty junk food through Thanksgiving, but then cut it out.  I knew my body was really beaten up, so I decided that I needed to prioritize quality food to promote repair until the quads stopped feeling like hamburger meat.  And...sure enough, I started feeling nauseous and sloshy stomach and dizzy again.  But I didn't make the connection.

I was so used to being the person that caked salt on everything - it never occurred to me that I might now be salting too little.  Especially since I was using the Ultima, and never realized that it didn't include salt, because it had never been an issue before.

So, I've added salt back in, and the nausea and lightheadedness has drastically improved.  Ridiculous.

Obvious question #1 - But weren't you craving salt massively?

Yes, but I thought I was craving junk food, and resisted.  Everyone loves chips and salsa and cookies, right?  And because my past heavy use of salt had approached cliche, it never occurred to me that I might be too low on it now.  As for the lightheadedness and nausea?  I thought it was just nerves/taper paranoia.

Obvious question #2 - And don't you feel really really stupid now?  And a bit embarrassed (and yet perversely compelled to blog about it?)

Yes. 



Dailies

Monday:   Yoga in the morning; foam rolling at night.

Tuesday:  6 "miles" of pool-running in the morning plus some injury prevention/upper body weights.  Prolotherapy in the afternoon.

Wednesday:  Massage - heavily quad focused.

Thursday:   3 miles easy running (9:01 pace) and yoga, plus some injury prevention/upper body weights.   Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  4.5 miles easy running (8:54) and 2500 yards easy swimming, plus a yoga class.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:   4 miles easy running and 4 miles pool-running.  Yoga in the afternoon, plus some foam rolling.

Sunday:  7.5 miles easy running, including casually running a holiday 5K with some friends.  Followed with 2500 yards easy swimming and some injury prevention work.  Yoga and foam rolling at night.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Training log - Week ending 11/30/14

This week was 0 miles of running, 20 "miles" of pool-running and 2000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

Recovery week.   Raising the question of how to best recover?  Go completely sedentary, or do some activity?  Throw dietary caution to the wind or focus on nutrition?

I'm certainly no expert, but in my opinion, recovery is both mental and physical.  The first few days for me were pretty light on the fruits and veggies and sweet potatoes and lean meats, and heavy on the gluten-free cookies and turkey drumsticks with the skin on.   Perfect nutrition might have been better for the body, but it was restorative to do a traditional ugly American Thanksgiving.

As for activity, I _attended_ yoga the day after the race.  Which doesn't mean I really participated in the class.  I showed up at Tranquil Space, did the opening stretching bit, and then childs-posed my way through much of the rest of it, though I did do a few gentle lunges.  It did feel good to move my legs through their general range of motion - probably much better for recovery than just laying around.

[that's the great thing about having an unlimited annual yoga membership -- since I'm not paying by the class, I really don't feel any pressure to do the whole class - it's not like I've wasted money if I just do happy baby for 40 minutes].

And that was pretty much how the rest of the week went.  I went to yoga each day, gradually expanding on the amount of the class I was actually doing, and branching out to more intense classes.  By Thursday I was pretty much doing the whole class, though my chair pose was...restrained.  I did some pool-running also, though it was not at all intense - just gently wiggling my legs in the water while chatting.

My quads were tight enough to gimp up my walk for most of the week, though they finally felt better on Sunday, enabling me to walk like a normal person. I can now get up from a chair (or toilet) without using my hands to assist.  It's the little things, y'know.

As of Monday, they are still shaky and weak, though.  Which seems ridiculous since we're now 8 days post marathon - by this time after my first marathon I was feeling just about normal.  The other signs of overreaching  have resolved - my resting HR is back where it should be, and I'm sleeping soundly.  I'd like to start up with some gentle jogging, but I'm debating whether that's a good idea, given that the legs seem to still be recovering.  I don't know whether doing some easy jogging will make my legs feel better, or slow my recovery. 

My plan is to take a few more non-running days, and do some more foam-rolling and other recovery stuff.  If the quads are still shaky in another few days, I may try some gentle short jogging to see if that makes a difference.



Dailies

Monday:   Lie on my back during a yoga class in the morning; foam rolling at night.

Tuesday:  Half-assed yoga in the morning; massage at night.
Wednesday:  30 minutes conversational pool-running plus a quarter-assed yoga class.  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Thursday:   30 minutes easy pool-running and a yoga class (full-assed).  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  70 minutes conversational pool-running and a yoga class.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:   70 minutes conversational pool-running and a yoga class.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday:  2000 yards swimming and a yoga class.  Foam rolling at night.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Training log - Week ending 11/23/2014

This week was 47 miles of running and 2000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

Race week, and not the race I wanted.  But what's done is done.  And I hobble away a bit better educated about the marathon, and substantially fitter than I was when I started.

So where from here?  My legs are shaky, and so are my emotions. What I would really like to do is to take 2-3 days off to let the soreness pass, then start running again, start training soon after, crushing workouts while upping my mileage, and then do another marathon immediately.  I really miss running (it's the day after my marathon, and I'm envying the people I saw jogging on the sidewalk this morning - ridiculous).  And when I have a bad race, I want to get back on the horse ASAP.

Don't worry.  I know how stupid the above is, and I'm not going to do that.  Especially since I think I made similar mistakes this past cycle.

I did two really sub-optimal things this fall.  One was ramping up from basically nothing to a hard marathon training cycle with high volume; in retrospect I think I would have been better to focus on just staying healthy and getting fitter.  It's one thing to jump into a marathon cycle after a season or two of steady and consistent running, and another to do it from where I was.  It was too much, too fast, too soon.

The other mistake was training at the paces that I wanted to be right for me, rather than where I truly was.  I trained at paces that matched the races I wanted to run, hanging with a group that ran the races I wanted to run.   And it was easy to rationalize doing so, since it wasn't too long ago that those were my paces also.  But they weren't the right paces for me this fall.  I was able to fake my way through some workouts fairly well (by running them too hard); the others I excused due to allergies and high mileage fatigue.

[to be clear, these were my mistakes, no one else's, and I own them].

The good news is that I've come away from this training cycle considerably fitter than I was when I started, which is a huge win.  But I fried myself too.  So now I need to consolidate my gains while also letting the damage heal.

The first step to that is to take some time off from running.  For this week, the rule is that I only do any physical activity if I really want to, and what I do will be restricted to yoga, some easy swimming, and some social pool-running.   I'm trying to hydrate really well, but also not setting my alarm clock, and eating as many gluten free cookies as my little heart wants.

I do want to introduce pool-running back into my routine - I skipped it for a while because it was annoying my back before that healed up, and then I didn't want to intro anything new late in the training cycle.

When I do start running again (likely sometime next week) I'll keep stuff easy, fun, and social for several weeks.  If everything feels right, I'll start doing workouts again in mid-to-late December, focusing on running the workouts easier than I feel I should.  I really want to run another marathon, but there will be no spring marathon training cycle for me.  Instead, I'll spend a season doing consistent, controlled-pace training (anybody who knows me in person, you are encouraged to forcefully remind me of this commitment), and then do a fall marathon.

I had been considering Richmond Marathon for next fall, but after yesterday, I kinda want revenge on Manayunk.
Dailies


Monday:   2000 yards easy swimming in the morning, foam rolling at night. 

Tuesday:  In the morning, 8.5 miles, including a track workout of 1600, 2x800 (6:06, 2:56, 2:52).  Sports massage at night.
Wednesday:  In the afternoon, 7.5 miles (8:02 pace).  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday: Rest day.  Did get my spasming glute dry needled and did some foam rolling.

Friday:  5 miles (8:03 pace), and got ART on a sticky calf in the morning.  Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Saturday:  Rest day; picked up bib and foam rolled.

Sunday:  Philadelphia Marathon in 3:20:17, positive split as 1:35/1:45.  Big ass strawberry margarita at midday.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Race report: Philadelphia Marathon, November 23, 2014

I ran the Philadelphia Marathon today, finishing in a time of 3:20:xx.  This is both the slowest marathon I've ever run and the second fastest.  I like the latter characterization more, so I'm rolling with it.

The too long, didn't read version is that my legs cramped up and the last miles were ridiculous - a combination of horrible and amusing.  The longer story, read below...


Every lengthy overthought race report starts with a summary, and who am I to buck tradition?  My training can be summed up as a rapid build from very low mileage and injury recovery to a peak of 85 miles per week, followed by a taper.  Long runs were alternating 20-22 milers and 16-17 miles with 4-3-2-1 mile marathon paced segments.  Then I tapered.

The taper was, of course, a paranoia fest.  At various points during the last week, my glutes spasmed, my right calf got tight, I got bad indigestion, and I convinced myself I was coming down with a head cold (I'm pretty sure I wasn't). It's strange all the curveballs that your mind and body will throw at you.  I just told myself that it was all part of the taper paranoia and that I'd feel great on race morning. And I did.

By Saturday, I was fairly tense and bouncing off the walls.  That was when I had an inspired idea - instead of going out to eat, Brian and I ordered takeout and paid for a hotel movie (X-Men Days of Future Past).  It was exactly the right order - I relaxed and put the race out of my mind.  And whadyaknow - I felt good on Sunday morning, right when I needed to be.

I felt shaky/jumpy - very ready to go.  This worried me a bit - there was a real possibility of going out too fast here.  So I seeded myself in the very back of my corral, and started with a friend who was shooting for a more conservative time.  We crossed the start line and chatted for the first mile, and then I started to open up a little more, though still staying conservative.   I focused on keeping an easy effort - I'd find myself picking it up to a pace that felt "good", and then I'd remind myself -"if you don't feel like you're going too slow, you're going too fast" and I'd pull back to what felt "too slow."

As in my previous marathon, I started the race with a carry-water bottle - I planned to drink from that and then toss it, and then get another from either Brian or my coach at the halfway point.  However, for whatever reason, I had completely drained my bottle by mile 5.  And I was thirsty.

(before I get accused of starting the race dehydrated, I'll note that I was peeing clear for the days before (TMI) and also needed to pee slightly when we started the race).

This presented a bit of a quandry - I'm not good at drinking out of cups while running.  At the next water stop, I attempted to refill my water bottle with a cup of water so I could run while sipping, but that was pure fail.  So I tossed the water bottle, and reluctantly slowed down at the next station to grab a cup and down it.  Then I was off again.  (And not too long after, I saw my coach and got my second water bottle).

I continued on like that, running through Philly and enjoying the tour.  Around mile 8, we hit a set of hills that my coach had warned us about - essentially we were to be careful on the downhills not to run them too fast.  The downhills were a bit steep, and it felt like if I slowed too much, I was placing more stress on my quads, since they were doing the braking.  So I decided to focus on running them in whatever way felt like it took the least effort and the least stress, regardless of the pace.

I was feeling good and in control as we turned back towards the Arts Center and the half/full split, and then I noted that both my inner quads (VMO for you physio geeks) were a bit sore.  This was...concerning.  But...I could either freak out about it, or put it out of my mind.  I decided to do the latter, and just focus on running in control.

But the quads started talking louder.  Not good.  I wasn't even halfway yet.  But... the worst of the hills was over, right?  And breathing great, energy level good - I'd just keep working through this.

By mile 14, they were starting to yell at me, and I was having crazy fantasies about KT taping them (my mind is an odd place).  And then I remembered....

On the last interval workout before this race, we did a set of 1600, and 2x800.   I felt like my legs were tying up and I had no knee lift, only to discover that my running tights had slipped down.  The feeling I had now, as my quads tired, was much the same as when I had my wardrobe issue.

So....that was how I rationalized it - if I could hold ~6 minute pace with my tights slipping down, then holding 7 something pace while feeling the same was eminently doable.  So that's what I did as we progressed away from Philly towards Manayunk.

And so I progressed.  Between miles 17-18 there's a downhill for a quartermile, then a 180 turn and you come back up hill.  And that was truly the beginning of the end.  I held it together for that, but the quads were on fire, and in Manayunk, they spasmed.

From there, you can imagine how it went - the last miles back into Philly (most of which were downhill) were a shuffle/slogfest.    In a way, it was really upsetting - no one likes to run a race that way.  But in a strange way, I could also see the hilarity of it - my legs simply were not listening to me, but just doing some variant of a running motion.  It got worse as my right hamstring and calf decided to play along - a symphony of disobediance.

I felt like I was running past crowds of people with my pants half down, both figuratively and literally.   I also came to the realization that the slower you run and the more it's obvious you hurt, the more people start cheering you on - at the very point where I really wanted to pretend like no one could see me.

But... that's racing.  So, I slogged home to the finish.  I realized later that I could have just dropped at 18 and done CIM in two weeks (I'm entered).  But, I didn't want to do that for multiple reasons.  For one, I want a break now, not in two weeks.  Secondly, I didn't want to let this race win.  Simple as that.

And though it was a sucky experience, it was also a good one.  Though this was my second marathon, in someways I felt like it was my first.  My first marathon went so well that I never really felt like I had been tested, or experienced the suckiness of marathons.  I was worried that I didn't respect the distance and all the things that could go wrong.  Now I've been blooded, and that's a good thing.

I think that I'll be a better runner in my next marathon (and there will be a next one, and it might be Philly) because of the experience I had today.  I now have a better understanding of how it can hurt and suck, and I still think it's my favorite distance to race.

Splits for the hell of it:

Mile 1: 7:59
Mile 2: 7:35
Mile 3: 7:21
Mile 4: 7:22
Mile 5: 7:17
Mile 6-7: 14:14
Mile 8: 7:11
Mile 9: 6:57
Mile 10: 7:18
Mile 11: 6:57
Mile 12: 7:04
Mile 13: 7:15
Mile 14: 7:10
Mile 15: 7:12
Mile 16: 7:14
Mile 17: 7:12
Mile 18: 7:13
Mile 19: 7:18
Mile 20: 7:28
Mile 21: 8:10
Mile 22: 8:35
Mile 23-24: 17:34
Mile 25: 9:42
Mile 26: 9:22
last bit: 1:38



Other notes:
  • Weather was absolutely perfect.  Doesn't get better.  Started in high 30s, ended in mid 40s, overcast, little wind.
  • I stayed at the Embassy Suites, which worked well.  It was right outside the secure zone for the marathon start/finish, and had a TGI Fridays as the hotel restaurant.  The one trouble spot was that the elevators were slow and we were on the 14th floor - I was worried that the elevators would get VERY slow when everyone decided to come down for the race.  So I left my room early and headed to the gym on the second floor for some final stretching.  Gym was empty and had a bathroom - perfect for some pre-race relaxing.
  • Hit the security entrance at 6:30, which was perfect timing for getting me into my corral at 6:40.





Monday, November 17, 2014

Training log - Week ending 11/16/2014

This week was 50 miles of running and 3000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

Taper, week 2.  Just resting up and recharging.  And starting to feel really good, albeit with some "taper aches" that I attribute to paranoia.  Both Tuesday and Sunday's "workouts" felt awesome; Friday's was a bit harder, but I attribute that to being significantly underdressed for conditions that ended up being a lot colder than I expected.  
 
On Sunday, I did the last few miles of my "long run" at "goal marathon pace" - the hope was to hold 7:15 (3:10 pace) for two miles and then drop to 7:05 (~3:05 pace) for the last mile, just to lock in the feel.  I know that's slower than the pace I've held for my runs, but I really believe in setting conservative marathon goals at the start and then re-evaluating as one goes.  I run my best races with negative splits, so going out "too slow" isn't a concern.
 
As it turns out, I ended up running a bit fast than those paces anyway.  I'm not too worried, though - my heart rate for those miles was at the low end of my normal marathon pace HR, so the effort was conservative.  I've reinforced my knowledge that I need to run easy and restrained and "too slow" for those first miles, and to trust (as always, I'll race with my Garmin screen hidden) that the pace will be right.
 
From here until this coming Sunday it's just a matter of sleeping and eating well, and dodging injury and illness.  The training's done and the die is cast; all I have to do now is show up on Sunday and run.  Simple.  Easy. Awesome.
 
And it reads cheesy, but I really am proud of just getting to where I am today as opposed to where I was last year. (for fun I've pasted in my training log from this week last year.)  The past 12-18 months have been their own endurance test - blood (literally), sweat, tears, pull buoys, injections, MRIs, missed races, PT sessions, alternating dejection and hope.  Emotional bonking and then the slow climb up.  But now, with the help/support/love of teammates and friends, I see the finish line, which is also the start.
 
Completing a training cycle is its own achievement, and its own reward. But what's even better is that I get to race. 
 
Dailies


Monday:   1500 yards easy swimming in the morning, foam rolling at night. 
Last year: In the morning, injury prevention/rehab work and 4000 yards swimming, 50/50 with and without pullbuoy.  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday:  In the morning, 10 miles, including a track workout of 6x800 (3:01, 2:58, 2:57, 2:54, 2:52, 2:52) followed by injury prevention work and 750 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.
In the morning, injury prevention/rehab work and then 3000 yards of swimming, 1/3rd with pull buoy. 2/3rds without.   Foam rolling at night.
 
Wednesday:  In the morning, 8.5 miles very easy (8:22).  Massage at night.
In the morning, injury prevention/rehab work and then 4250 yards of swimming -  1/3rd with pull buoy. 2/3rds without.  Sports massage at night.

Thursday:   In the morning, 5.5 miles easy (8:11) followed by a few drills+strides and some upper body strengthwork and injury prevention work.  Foam rolling at night.
In the morning,  injury prevention/rehab work, upper body strengthwork and walking 2.5 miles.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  8 miles, including a 5K tempo in 20:11 (6:34/6:24/6:27/0:46), followed by 750 yards easy swimming.   Foam rolling in the afternoon.
In the morning, injury prevention/rehab work and 3750 yards of swimming, 25% with pull buoy.  Also some walking.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:   8 miles easy (8:18) followed by a few drills+strides; foam rolling in afternoon.
In the morning, injury prevention/rehab work and 4000 yards of swimming, with about 500yards pull buoy (rest without).  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday:  10 miles with the last 3 at marathon pace (two miles at 7:08 pace, last mile at 6:50 pace).  Foam rolling at night.
In the morning, injury prevention/rehab work (including testing out the arc-trainer for a few minutes) and 3000 yards of swimming (no pull buoy).  Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Training log - Week ending 11/9/14

This week was 50 miles of running and 3000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

Taper, week 1.  And for the first few days I enjoyed it.  Needed it.  Tuesday's workout was a struggle, run on legs that had done 22 with a fast finish less than 48 hours before.  After that, I cut back sharply.    Before my last marathon (Shamrock) I did a fairly steep three week taper and thought it worked well, so I decided to do the same this time.   So, 45-50 miles with 3 weeks to go, 45-50 miles with 2 weeks to go, and then 15-20 miles in the week before the race.

I'm also tapering all my other activities.  This past week was my last week for yoga - I'm skipping that for the next two weeks both to rest and to avoid any contagious fellow yoga students (it always shocks me how many people will drag themselves to a group class when sick - it's really selfish).  I'll swim some this coming week (though not much), and then will cut it out for the final week of taper.

I'm definitely starting to feel the benefits of the taper.  I had several warning signs over the last two weeks that I was overreaching - high resting HR, insomnia, concentration issues.  The first two have resolved.  As for my shortened attention span, I seriously doubt that will improve during taper.  I'm also starting to get a bit jumpy, with taper anxiety.  Did I do enough?  Did I do too much?  Am I resting too much now?   Should I be resting more? 

There's no real answer, except not to worry about it and to find something to distract me (I am stocking my Kindle well).  In the end, I don't think there's one perfect taper, just as there's no one perfect training cycle or perfect race.  Just get to the starting line healthy, and see what happens. 

I did race on Sunday - it was one of the best bad races I've had in a while, if that makes sense.  It was bad in that I went out too fast, which is a mistake I rarely make.  But this was a good time to make it - to remind me to be cautious in the marathon.  And working my way through a mental tough patch at the end was a confidence boost of its own.  And it was nice to see that I'm now fit enough to run a major positive split and still run just over 40 minutes.

Dailies

Monday:   Yoga and upper body strengthwork/injury prevention work in the morning, foam rolling at night.

Tuesday:  In the morning, 10 miles, including a track workout of 4x1200 (4:38, 4:26, 4:27, 4:29) followed by injury prevention work and 2000 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.
 
Wednesday:  In the morning, 9.4 miles very easy (8:24) followed by yoga.  Later an easy 2.5 (8:37).  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday:   In the morning, 3 miles very easy (8:46) to yoga.  After yoga, did another 4 miles (8:09), followed by a few drills+strides, some upper body strengthwork and injury prevention work.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  8 miles, including a 1600m pick-up in 6:18.   Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Saturday:   1000 yards easy swimming and foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday:  13 miles, including a 10K race in 40:13.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Race Report: Veteran's Day 10K, November 9, 2014

I raced the Veteran's Day 10K today, finishing in a time of 40:13.

I have a preferred racing style - I usually go out fairly slowly and cautiously, and then drop the pace gradually, with a strong second half.  I'm pretty good at pacing, if I do say so myself.

But every once in a while, I screw it up.  Ooops.

***

The Veteran's Day 10K is held every year on a very fast course (Hains Point) in DC.  It's flat except for one tiny hump, and there are no sharp turns.  It's essentially an asphalt track, and can be very fast if there's no wind. 

There was no wind today, and temps were perfect.  This race brings out a lot of fast people, and so everything was in place for a fast day.

I warmed up by jogging for about 3 miles.  My legs felt a bit marathon heavy still, so I inserted a quarter mile pick-up to get everything moving.  Then some drills and strides, and lined up.

And we were off.  Fast.  I backed off a little, to a pace that felt controlled but still fast.  It felt uncomfortable, but frankly anything faster than 6:50 feels uncomfortable right now. so I went with it. 

As it turns out, someone was calling out splits at the first mile, and I heard a "6:20" as I went by (and I started a few seconds after the gun).  That was a bit faster than I was anticipating.  Huh.  Arguably not good, but maybe I was just having a good day.  Nevertheless I was feeling a bit uncomfortable, so I decided to back it off a bit so that I could come home strongly. 

As it turned out, I couldn't quite repair the damage, by mile 4 my legs were pretty much done and I was just hanging on from that point.  I nursed myself through the last 2 miles, reminding myself that I might feel like this during my marathon, and so this was good practice coaxing everything out of my legs.  And I'm pleasantly surprised at just how well I was able to hang on, given how spent I felt.  Usually when I blow up, I REALLY blow up.  This time I just fizzled.  Marathon strong legs FTW.  I can be dead, but the legs will still do their thing.

Splits were:

6:18
6:26
6:05 (mile measured .95 ~6:26 pace)
6:47 (mile measured 1.05 ~6:26 pace))
6:35 (oof)
6:36 (oof)
last .21 in 1:23 (also ~6:26 pace - this was all I had for a "kick")

40:13 - which was good enough for a top 10 female finish and second in my age group.

I am a bit wistful, because I think I could had run faster had I run a better paced race.  On the other hand, this race was primarily a final tune-up for my marathon in two weeks.  I'm pleasantly surprised that I had this much speed in my legs, given the focus of my training the past few weeks and months.  And after hanging on so well the last two miles, I feel ready for what the marathon may throw at me.

Next race report in two weeks :)

Other notes:

* Weather was absolutely perfect.  About 50 degrees, calm winds.
* Wore my my marathon shoes (Boston Boost) rather than my normal shoe for this distance (Hitogami).  I prefer to run my last tune-up race in my marathon shoes, rather than my flats - it gives me an extra bit of confidence to know that I can run significantly faster than MP in my marathon shoes.
* Parked on Rock Creek Parkway just on the far side of the Lincoln Memorial from the start - worked perfectly (one does need to get there before 7 to snag a spot, though).



Monday, November 3, 2014

Training log - Week ending 11/2/2014

This week was 85 miles of running and 4000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

And this is it.  Taper starts now.

And it's just at the right time.  I've hit that marathon training zombie mode.  No real speed, but I can go between easy and medium-hard forever.

By the end of this week, I was unquestionably tired.  There was a substantial differential between when I got out of bed on Friday (early), and when I actually woke up (about halfway through my tempo workout). The last two miles of my tempo actually felt pretty good (being awake helps), and I briefly debated adding another mile, but decided against it - if I was feeling that tired, I really didn't need to be stretching out any workouts.

(the astute reader will note that I swam a bit more than normal on Friday post workout.  Why?  Especially since I was already tired?  The answer is that I was in zombie mode and I completely lost track of time and laps, and basically swam half-asleep until the guards blew the whistle to indicate the end of morning swim.  Ooops.)

Slept a ton over the weekend, and cranked out my last long run on Sunday morning, which went fairly well (the windy conditions reminded me of when I raced Shamrock last year, which is actually a pleasant memory). 

Of my three 20-22 mile runs, this last one felt the easiest and left me the least sore afterwards - that's a good place to be.  The only bummer was a blister I developed under my left foot on Sunday at about mile 11 - apparently my compression socks don't play nice with the Boston Boosts.  It's all good - that's why I test stuff out during my long runs, so I don't learn stuff like this during my goal race.

So now I just need to rest and wrap myself in bubble wrap for the next three weeks.  Memories of my last training cycle for Philly haunt me a bit, so I'm being VERY careful.  I'll probably race a 10K this coming weekend as a final tune-up, but I'll wear my marathon racing shoes for it, just like I did during the Shamrock cycle.  I like to do this because it makes marathon pace in my marathon shoes feels a bit easier.  And I also feel I'm reducing the risk of injury by doing so.

So much nicer to be here than where I was last year at this time.

Dailies

Monday:   Yoga and upper body strengthwork/injury prevention work in the morning, foam rolling at night.

Tuesday:  In the morning, 14 miles, including a track workout of 400,800,1200,1600,1200,800,400 (splits of 1:32, 3:06, 4:34, 6:06, 4:32, 2:57, 1:24), followed by injury prevention work and 1250 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.
Wednesday:  In the morning, 10 miles very easy (8:48) followed by yoga.  Later an easy 6 (8:28).  Sports massage at night.

Thursday:   In the morning, 4.5 miles very easy (8:48) to yoga.  After yoga, did another 4 miles (8:20), followed by a few drills+strides, some upper body strengthwork and injury prevention work.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  12.5 miles, including a 8K tempo in 33:31 (splits were 6:52, 6:47, 6:45, 6:36, 6:31), followed by lower body strengthwork and injury prevention work, and then 2100 yards easy swimming.   Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Saturday:   12.5 miles easy (8:18), followed by yin yoga.   Injury prevention/upper body strengthwork and foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday:  21.5 miles averaging 7:27, split as first 1.5 miles at 8:42 pace, next 5 at 7:54, next 6 at 7:27, last 9 at 6:56 (took a ~5 min break about mile 16 to chase down water when the water fountain I was relying on was off).  Followed with 650 yards shakeout swimming; foam rolling at night.  Skipped yin yoga to watch the second half of the Maclay finals