Sunday, November 29, 2015

Training log - Week ending 11/29/15

This week was 33.5 miles of running and  6.5 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

Marathon recovery week.  Though I was pretty trashed at the finish line, this is the smoothest and easiest marathon recovery has ever gone.  Part of it might be that recovery gets a bit easier each time, and part might be the effectiveness of my rule: NO SITTING FOR 45 MINUTES POST MARATHON. 

But Sunday's IV drip probably gets some of the credit too.  Too bad you can't do those things every time (doping regs).

For myself, marathon recovery is always a play it by ear type of thing - I don't ban myself from working out; I just limit myself to doing the things I want to do.    And I have wanted to run.  It's not some misguided attempt to preserve fitness (I know that it's best to let things relax and refresh).  Rather, it's because I truly enjoy running.  Every single run this week has been fun, and most of them have been punctuated by good conversations with friends.  Mentally, I'm much fresher this week than I would be had I sulked on the couch.

I also did yoga nearly every day (I skipped it on Saturday because I decided I didn't feel like it - see how that works?)  After a few weeks away from the studio, it was good to be back and see friends there.  I also found that my left hip sciatica has been fading away with my return to yoga - further proof that yoga truly is essential for keeping my hips and gait stable.

I'm going to take at least two more weeks away from workouts before doing any hard running.  Though I'm not sore, I still have the deep down fatigue that follows any marathon.  That needs to pass before I can train again.

Monday:   3.5 "miles" easy pool-running; massage at night.

Tuesday:  Yoga and 3 "miles" of pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: yoga, 3 miles easy (8:59 pace), and some light upper body weights.  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday:   6 miles easy (9:03 pace) followed by yoga and a whole lotta food.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  4 miles easy to yoga (9:09 pace), yoga, and then another 2 miles easy (8:52 pace).  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:   8.5 miles easy (8:49 pace).  Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Sunday:  10 miles easy (8:30 pace), followed with some injury prevention work, yoga and foam rolling.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Training log - Week ending 11/24/2015

This week was 46 miles of running and 5 miles of pool-running  -- training log is here.

This is a tardy place holder for my last week of taper before Philly Marathon.   I'm well into my first recovery week now, and I can confirm that the 20 minutes of easy pool-running on Sunday night helped a lot (as did the incidental IV drip). 

My plan for recovery is the same as for all my other marathons - no strict schedule.  I'll start back with very easy yoga and pool-running, plus some swimming for fun.  When a) nothing feels too sore and b) I can execute a yoga class reasonably well, then I'll start running again.

I use yoga as my "test" for running because I think it's safe.  For one thing it's slower and low impact, and I'm more likely to back off of something ouchy in yoga class than while on a run.  Also, the balancing poses in yoga are a good self-check.  If I can't balance on one leg in yoga, then I'm not stable enough to be running without risking injury.

I'm going to take some downtime (not inactivity, just easy exercise) as a reboot, and then start training again in mid-December.  I'll run a half-marathon at the end of January for fun, and then try to set some shorter distance PRs in March and April.  I'm also planning on a four miler on New Years Eve.  My current 4 mile PR is from 2008, and is at a slower pace than my current half-marathon PR.  So hopefully I should be able to knock that one down.


Monday:   3 "miles" easy pool-running in the morning, foam rolling at night. 

Tuesday:  In the morning, 7.5 miles, including a track workout of 4x800 (3:04, 3:07, 3:02, 2:57).  Foam rolling at night.
Wednesday:  In the morning, 4.5 miles plus drills and strides (9:03 pace).  Massage at night.

Thursday: 4 miles very easy (8:40) plus drills and strides.  Foam rolling at night

Friday:  4 miles easy (8:16 pace), plus drills and strides, and foam rolling.

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

Sunday:  Philadelphia Marathon in 3:22:28.  20 minutes very easy pool-running (2 "miles") in the evening.  Late night IV drip as part of what turned out to be a completely unnecessary ER visit.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Race report; Philadelphia Marathon, November 22, 2015

I ran the Philadelphia Marathon on Sunday, finishing in 3:22:xx.

And...that was my slowest marathon ever.  Despite a strong training cycle and a boatload of confidence going in.

And...I think I'm done with marathons for a while.   I love the training, but I don't train to train, I train to race.

So...with that intro, how was the race?

The taper the week before went much the way one would expect, with various bits of paranoia (does anyone not get that way).  My sinuses stayed scratchy and slightly achy, my sciatica acted up, and carbloading made me feel awful.  But that's all normal for taper - some judicious use of neti pots, stretching, and Pepto had me feeling good.  I hitched a ride up to Philly on Friday night - settling into my nice room at the Embassy Suites.

As an aside, I strongly recommend the Embassy Suites (very close to the race staging area) as the best place to stay for Philly.  It's definitely expensive,  but having your own private bathroom right outside the start line is priceless.  The Embassy Suites also offered free breakfast (great for the non-marathoning significant other) and complimentary late check-out on Sunday for marathoners.  Plus one of my favorite perks - a well-equipped gym with stretching mats and my choice of three foam rollers.

Saturday was intentionally very chill.  In the morning, after a big carb-heavy breakfast, I headed over to the expo to grab my bib.  That task accomplished (I happily noted that the race t-shirt was black - my preferred color), I headed next door to the Reading Terminal to meet up with a friend from the Runnersworld online forum.  Then back to the hotel to meet Brian.  Brian and I grabbed lunch together, and then hung out in the room, watching the second Avengers movie and ordering room service for dinner.  I stuck with the same eating plan I followed before my long runs - a solid carb-heavy lunch and a light dinner.  And lots of water with Osmo.  I was actually pretty nauseous at this point - mostly because I was just sick of carb-loading.  But the stomach issues cleared up over night.

Sunday morning, I was up at 5:15 to eat my breakfast (same as for my all my long runs), get dressed, and stretch.  While last year I had left the room at 6:30 in order to clear security, I assumed that this year security would take longer, due to the recent Paris attacks.  So I was out the door at 6:15, which resulted in me entering my corral at 6:40 - perfect timing for a 7 am start.  (It's important to note that I didn't need time to check a bag or use any portajohns; either would have required an early entrance.)

As it turned out, the race start ended up delayed by 15 minutes.  Not a big deal for me: as a marathoner I was planning on using the first few miles to warm-up.  I felt sorry for the half-marathoners, though - the benefits of their carefully timed warm-ups were waning with each minute.

Finally we were off.  There were pace groups at 3:05 and 3:15.  Since I thought somewhere between 3:05 and 3:10 was a reasonable goal, I had no intention of hanging with the 3:05 group.  I assumed the 3:15 group would be behind me, but if they pulled up, I'd hang with them.

As it turned out, the 3:15 pace group passed me fairly quickly - around the first mile.  This didn't worry me too much - the pace groups aren't always reliable.  I debated hanging with them, as we'd be heading into the wind soon, and they'd make a great wind block.  But I really wanted to be careful with my effort early on, as I knew some of the later miles would be into a strong headwind.  My intention was to run as slow as I needed in order to feel good at mile 20, so I could ride the strong tailwind home.

I felt sluggish and flat for the first few miles, but that's how I feel at the start of every run, so it didn't worry me too much.  Just relax, hang back, and stay on top of hydration and nutrition - 26 miles is a long way.

A few miles in, we turned into the wind.  I looked for others to work with as windblocks, but couldn't find anyone consistent - paces seemed to continuously fluctuate.  So I just ran on, trying to run as efficiently as possible.

Around miles 8-10 we hit the two large hills on course.  Both seemed pretty imposing, and the headwind didn't help much.  I tried to burn as little energy as possible on each, though both still felt harder than I'd like.  I was also disappointed that the headwind seemed worst on the downhill stretch between the two, meaning that I didn't take back much time on the downhill.

Around 10-11 we turned back towards the art museum.  At this point, a bit of a side stitch popped up.  It was concerning, but also mild, so I tried to ignore it and focus on my breathing - hopefully it would ease in a few miles (and it did).  At 12 miles, we approached the split for the half and full marathoners.  I grinned as I reflected on how much better I felt there this year, as compared to last year.  And then we were headed up Kelly Drive - away from the finish line and into the wind.

The wind was blasting pretty strongly - supposedly sustained at 15 with prolonged gusts to 25.  I looked for others to work with, but the population was much thinner now that the half-marathoners had left us.  And I also noted that those who were running my pace weren't running the tangents of winding Kelly drive, instead blindly following the shape of the road.  So I reluctantly opted to follow my own course, minimizing my distance covered.

As I noted above, I wanted to make sure that I'd feel good at mile 20.  So as the wind blasted us and I started to strain, I kept pulling back on the throttle - trying to keep even effort rather than even pace.  And to stay relaxed.  I wanted to come into mile 20 with energy in the tank for the trip home.

But even with all the restraint, by mile 17 I was fading. I kept drinking water and sucking on a gel, but neither seemed to help.  By the time I hit the turnaround in Manayunk, and finally had a tailwind, I was completely gassed, both mentally and physically.  It wasn't really a crash, but a feeling that I had no spark, no energy, and just didn't care anymore.  And so I plodded home.  I wanted to be done, as quickly as possible, but had no interest in fighting for a few extra seconds or minutes.

Splits are below

Mile 1: 7:53
Mile 2: 8:23 (long)
Mile 3: 6:37 (short)
Mile 4: 7:30
Mile 5: 7:25
Mile 6-8: 22:23
Mile 9: 7:18
Mile 10: 7:47
Mile 11: 7:25
Mile 12: 7:23
Mile 13: 7:23
Mile 14: 7:25
Mile 15: 7:31
Mile 16: 7:36
Mile 17: 7:53
Mile 18: 7:45
Mile 19: 8:01
Mile 20: 8:40
Mile 21: 7:42
Mile 22: 7:49
Mile 23: 8:17
Mile 24: 8:32
Mile 25: 8:06
Mile 26: 8:08
last bit: 1:32.

It's interesting to see these splits, as they show that I clearly didn't fall apart too horribly.  It just felt like I was running through water instead of air - a sharp contrast from how I felt during my long runs.

In retrospect, things I would have done differently?  There's quite a few.

The first is the training cycle - my coach believes that my training cycle was too long, and had too many long runs.  Though I only did two 20+ mile long runs, I had three runs of more than 18 miles, and five runs of 16 miles or longer.  It's worth noting that at this point, my coach knows me better than I know myself, and so I take his view here as the gospel.
At the time, I wondered if my struggles at Grandmas Marathon in June were the consequence of a very short training cycle.  But a longer training cycle only resulted in a similar struggle for a much worse time, without the weather excuse that I had at Grandmas.

Plus, I frankly prefer a shorter training cycle in the future, simply because it means that there's less invested in the damn race if it goes sour again.  I'd rather waste 6-8 weeks than the 14+ I did here.

I also think that I may have overdone the carb-loading.  Several of my teammates did a very heavy carb-load for the Chicago marathon, with great success.  So I tried to match them here, carb-loading much more than I have for any previous marathon, to the point where I felt sick to my stomach at times.  This was a massive change from my normal diet, which is generally more protein and healthy fat focused than the average runner.  In my daily life, I find that too many carbs make me feel bloated and sluggish - I run much better off of steak and eggs.  I'm thinking that the massive dietary shift in the days before the race may have hurt more than helped.

Finally, I think I backed off too much on my yoga and injury prevention work before the race.  It's a difficult balance, because those activities do add stress and fatigue to my legs, and so they need to be tapered.  But as I got into the last week of taper, I could also feel my gait falling back into old bad habits, with old injury spots and trigger points reawakening.  Next time I won't cut out that stuff until a few days before the race.

But "next time" for a marathon won't be for quite a while.  After previous marathons, good or bad, I was thinking about my next in the finishing corral.  Not here.  At mile 17 I decided I was done for a while, and I still feel that way several days later.  I'm going to spend the spring trying to parlay the fitness I built this fall into some shorter race PRs.

Other notes:
  • Carried a water bottle and refilled it with quick breaks at water stops.  I've figured out that if I uncap my handheld ahead of time, and talk to a water stop volunteer as I'm approaching, it only takes 2 seconds for he or she to dump a cup of water into my bottle - that's two seconds well spent.
  • Unlike last year, my quads held up great this year.  I have a theory that my coach's preferred long run route, which features a long stretch of downhill running, makes one's quads much more resistant to eccentric fatigue.  How I felt in this race certainly supports that theory.  
  • It was tough, but I didn't let myself sit down for an hour post-race, and dragged myself to the pool Sunday night for an short aqua-jog.  This helped a lot, as I felt much better on Monday morning than I expected to. epilogue (because it explains why I'm so late writing this report).  A weird thing happened during the marathon, right after the halfway mark.  My right eye got very "wonky" for lack of a better term - like it had been dilated at the optometrist.  I could still tell light from dark, but I couldn't focus it or see out of it.  Not itchy or painful, just not working.

I kept running, both because I was in continuous-forward-motion mode and because I thought it might be from some dust that was blown into my eye much earlier in the race.  I only really needed one eye to run anyway.  Several miles later, in Manayunk, it started working again, and I finished with two working eyes.

Later Sunday night, I was speaking to my father (a doctor) and mentioned the eye issue - was it worth calling an optometrist sometime next week for an appointment?   My father was much more concerned about the eye issue, noting that sudden vision issues, especially an inability to focus, can be an early warning sign of a possible stroke in women over 40 (and I'm 41).  So... he asked if I would mind getting it checked out that night at the ER.

It's apparently not hypochondria if you have a medical degree.

Somewhat reluctantly, I headed over (the ER is pretty close, so this wasn't a huge hardship).  It was now 9pm on Sunday, so there was no wait.  I was admitted right away, got my bracelet, and shuffled to a room where I waited for a doctor to shine a light in my eye, ask me what my name was, and send me home, so I could write up my race report.

Except it didn't quite play out that way.  After telling my story (including noting that some dust had been blown into my eye earlier), I found myself trapped by a blood pressure cuff, a heart rate monitor, and an IV drip.    Lovely.    At least the saline drip would be useful - I was recovering like a Salazar pro.

And then there was the blood draw and a trip off to radiology for a cat scan of my head (seriously?), before I was wheeled back to the little room where I waited for several more hours.  Finally, around 1:30 am, the results were in, confirming that I was fine.  I got home around 2 am and crawled into bed - an annoying appropriate ending to a lousy day.  And I can't wait to see the bill from this one.

But at least I got the saline drip. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Training log - week ending 11/15/15

This week was 56 miles of running and 10 "miles" of pool-running  -- training log is here.

And, I'm in full taper.  And the crazies are starting to hit.

Relevant to this is the fact that Brian got sick this week.  Really really sick. It's quite possible that he got the bug that I had the previous week, meaning immunity for me.  But I wasn't taking any chances -- my normal taper paranoia about getting sick went into complete overload.  

Not kidding.
Thus, I implemented my anti-germ protocol, at the Ebola level.  I changed the bedsheets daily; and my handwashing met the clinical criteria clinical for OCD.  And that's not mentioning the Listerine and neti pot use, or the vitamin C and zinc consumption.  Since all crises are best addressed by shopping, I also stocked up on antiseptic wipes - one dispenser for each countertop.

Brian was a hero and nobly quarantined himself in his basement mancave for the first two nights, relocating to our bed once I was up for the day (and no, I didn't ask him to do this - he's just boyfriend of the year).

After that, he returned to the bedroom for the evenings, and I invested in (wait for it) a flu mask to sleep in.  Those things ain't cheap - but peace of mind while sleeping is worth a lot.
Not kidding about this either.

Luckily, I seem to have avoided getting sick (or, as noted above, I'm the one that got him sick).  Scratchy sinuses and a mild headache all week have contributed to a sense of impending doom, but so far they haven't erupted into fullblown sickness- I think they're just my mold allergies acting up.

The extra time on my hands combined with taper madness also led me to run some stats on this training cycle.  By the numbers:

  • 17 week cycle - 14 weeks training plus 3 weeks taper.
  • I averaged 74 miles of running per week over the 14 weeks of training, including race weeks.  Also averaged 14 "miles" of pool-running and ~3500 yards of swimming each week over that time.
  • Cut out the race weeks, and I averaged 80 miles of running per week.
  • Raced five times: two 5K races early in the cycle (20:12 and 19:52), a half 10 weeks out (1:31.37), a 10 miler seven weeks out (66:28), and a 10K three weeks out (40:02).
  • Three "pick-ups" workouts of 4, 3, 2, and 1 miles at marathon pace effort with an easy mile in between.
  • Two long runs of 21.5 miles, each with the last third at marathon pace effort.
  • Five long runs of 16-17 miles distance (including one of the 4-3-2-1s).
  • Three long runs of 18-19 miles distance (including two of the 4-3-2-1s).
  • Two track workouts of 25x400 at 10K pace, with 100m recovery.
  • Four 5 mile tempo workouts on the track (plus two 5K tempos and a 4 mile tempo).
  • One skipped workout, where I felt lousy and just bagged the day (this workout was every bit as important as the workouts I completed - I think I avoided digging a deep hole by taking that day off).
  • Averaged 9:10 pace over my easy runs (which is why I was able to hold my high mileage).

Wow - when posted like that, it looks like a lot.  And I didn't even log all the sweet potatoes and brown rice and sportsdrink I used to fuel those runs (my grocery bill has been massive).

I do log my sleep (because the fact that I log it encourages me to prioritize it).  Over the 14 weeks, I averaged 7:45 hours of sleep per night.  Which likely has everything to do with my making it through this cycle uninjured and relatively perky.

So now I go into the final week of taper.  Eat, sleep, try not to do much else.  And don't cut out the junk food this time.

As for my goal for this marathon?  Easy.  I want to feel good in Manayunk (mile 20).


Monday:   5 "miles" easy pool-running in the morning and some light injury prevention work; foam rolling at night.

Tuesday:  10 miles, including a track ladder workout of 400/800/2x1200/800/400.  Split 1:31, 3:05, 4:36, 4:31, 2:57, 81.  Followed with a shakeout "mile" of pool-running. Foam rolling in evening.

Wednesday: 8 miles very easy (9:35), followed by drills, two strides, and two hill sprints and then some very light upper body weights work.  1.5 "miles" easy pool-running and foam rolling in the evening.

Thursday:   8 miles (9:11 pace), followed by drills and four strides.  1.5 "miles" easy pool-running and foam rolling in the evening. 

Friday:  10 miles, including a 5K tempo in 20:05 (6:34/6:29/6:18/0:44). 1 "mile" easy pool-running for recovery and foam rolling in the evening.

Saturday:  8 miles very easy in the morning (8:57) followed by drills and two strides.  Later some core work and foam rolling.

Sunday:  11.5 miles easy (8:35) followed by drills and two strides.  Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Training log - Week ending 11/8/15

This week was 60 miles of running, 10 "miles" of pool-running and 3000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

The week didn't start off too well, with a headcold.  The bright side was -  if you're going to get sick during a marathon training cycle, the beginning of a three week taper is really the ideal time to get it out of the way.  It was after my last 20+ long run, and far enough away from the race to get it out of my system.

By Wednesday, I wasn't 100%, but good enough to at least give the workout a try - another 25x400 at 10K pace, with 100m "float" in 30 seconds (8 minute pace).  The workout went well for the most part, though I definitely felt off and had to dig deep at times.  Once I got to 18 reps, my coach gave me the option of pulling the plug, but who wants to stop then?  I'd gotten that far - you better believe I was finishing the damn thing.

After that, it was easy running until Sunday, when I raced a 10K, finishing in 40:02 by my watch.  On the one hand, that time is a very good sign for my marathon two weeks hence, especially since my legs still were pretty tired from Wednesday, and from the whole cycle.  On the other hand, I was just 7 seconds off of my PR (which I think is weak), and ever so slightly on the wrong side of 40 minutes to boot.  And I can't help but think I would have made up those 7 seconds had I not chosen to gut out all 25 repeats on Wednesday.

But that's just one example of the trade-off of marathon training - you sacrifice optimal performances at shorter distances in exchange for one big race at the end.  (and hopefully that 25x400 will pay off in two weeks).  Which just makes me hungry for another season focused on shorter stuff.

I had idly wondered how good the 25x400 at 10K pace was as a predictor workout of an actual 10K.  Well.. on Wednesday, after subtracting my recoveries (which averaged 30 seconds, so they were honest), I ran 39:09 for 10K.  Then, on Sunday, I raced a 10K in 40:02.  So...maybe it's not that good a predictor.  On the other hand, I'm not sure this was a fair test, since the 25x400 and the 10K were so close together - the fatigue from the workout itself may have had a biasing effect on the race.  The clear answer is: I just need to race more 10Ks.

But that's not in the immediate future.  I need to taper and run a marathon first.  This upcoming week I'll pull back a lot more on the mileage - the hard work is all done now.  I was going to keep swimming on the schedule for another week, but since my sinuses still hurt (last remnants of the darn headcold) I'm just going to cut it now.

Tapering is HARD, though.  It's not that I'm fearful of gaining weight (it'll come off during the marathon) or losing fitness (I know I won't).  Rather, it's that over the past few months I've ingrained a habit of adding MORE any time I feel like I can.  More miles onto the end of my easy run if I'm feeling good; more repetitions during a track workout if I think I have them in me. In marathon training, you're always trying to add as much pure volume as you can handle, without falling prey to exhaustion or injury or unemployment or spousal/partner abandonment.

 Now, I have to go cold turkey for the next two weeks, and keep everything sharply limited.  No more running a few extra miles because I miscalculated my route or got into a good conversation or it's a beautiful day and I have the time.  And that's a habit that's really hard to break.


Monday:   Off.  Sick.  Nothing but some foam-rolling in the afternoon.

Tuesday:  4 miles very easy to the gym, (9:21) and then some upper body strengthwork.  Later, another 8 miles very easy (9:31), followed by drills and two strides.  2 "miles" of pool-running and foam rolling in afternoon.

Wednesday: 11 miles, including 25x400m at 10K pace with 100m active recovery on the track.  I'm not going to list out all 25 splits, but they averaged 93 seconds (my pacing was a bit erratic at times, unfortunately).  Recoveries averaged 30 seconds.   The full workout, with splits, HR, cadence, etc is here.

Followed with 4 "miles" easy pool-running and 1250 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling in the evening.

Thursday:   10 miles very easy (9:04), with a break for drills and two strides in the middle.   2 "miles" easy pool-running in the afternoon and foam rolling at night.

Friday:  7 miles, mostly very easy, but with a fartlek of 4x90 seconds moderately hard, 30s easy to get the legs turning over.  Followed with light injury prevention work and foam rolling.  2 "miles" easy pool-running in the afternoon.

Saturday:  4 miles very easy (8:51).   Followed with drills and strides and foam rolling.

Sunday:  16 miles, including a 3.5 mile warm-up, a 10K race in 40:02, and then a six mile cooldown.  Followed with 1750 yards recovery swimming and foam rolling.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Race report: Veterans Day 10K, November 8, 2015

I ran the Veterans Day 10K today, finishing in a chip time of 40:07.  Strangely, I'm both happy with this and a bit bummed.

I'm bummed because I believe I'm in much better shape than this.  I'm also a bit frustrated that I couldn't even break 40 on a good weather day and a fast course.

On the other hand, my legs feel like marathon legs.  They can keep going and going, but aren't tuned to speed.  They also felt very heavy this morning, which I attribute to the past three weeks of high mileage, plus last Sunday's 21 mile long run and Wednesday's hard track workout.  My legs are far from fresh.  Which isn't a horrible thing, because they don't need to be fresh now, as long as they're fresh in two weeks.

I'm a bit sad, because I missed an opportunity to run a great race here.  But there will be other opportunities - this gets me hungry for another season focused on shorter races.

So other than that, how was the race?  

Well...the race was held on Hains Point in DC, which is about as fast as a course gets without being assisted.  Hains Point is essentially a pancake, and the 10K course is also a lollypop-shaped route, meaning that there are no truly sharp turns to lose your momentum.  Super-speedy.

Hains Point can often be windy, as it was today.  But even when windy, it's still a fast course, and one primed for PRs.  And, of course, the weather was beautiful.

As is often the case, the wind was from the north, meaning that it would help us the most in miles 1 and 2, and hurt in the last few miles.  Unfortunate, that - I prefer a headwind in the first few miles, and a tailwind at the end.  My rationale is that it's a lot easier to find a group to tuck in behind at the start of the race, when runners are tightly packed.  By the last miles, we're more strung out, with each runner fending for him/herself.

After my normal 3 or so mile warm-up, plus some drills and strides, I lined up.  I felt tired, and I also felt unmotivated. I've experienced this before in other final pre-marathon tune-up races.. By this point in the cycle, I am so focused on the marathon in two weeks that it's hard to get myself to really focus on the immediate race.  But that was fine - this was a tune-up, and not my goal race.

For the start, I seeded myself decently back in the pack, since these races always start very fast.  Even so, I was surprised by how many people surged past me in the first mile.  It took a lot of mental effort to hold back, but I've made the mistake of going out too fast on this course before.  It can be a very painful last two miles if you charge out too hard.

As I noted above, my legs felt tired from the start, which was concerning.  On the other hand, I'm marathon focused, and 6 miles is nothing to me at this point.  I reminded myself of that fact and just took one mile at a time, holding a steady effort.

After mile 2 or so, I started pulling past other people.  I just held my effort and let it happen.  Around mile 4 or so, a pack that had been running near me picked up their pace substantially.  At this point, we were heading back into the wind, and so I tried to latch on to them.  However, I couldn't quite stay with them. so I had to let them go.  From there on, I just held my hard effort, doing periodic checks to see if my legs could pick up the pace (they couldn't).  And also reminding myself that I'm short, so the wind doesn't affect me the way it does taller runners.

As per my norm, I ran this race with my watch face blanked.  I was a bit disappointed to see 40:0x on the clock as I approached the finish line, but it was what it was.

Splits ended up being
Mile 1: 6:17
Mile 2: 6:20
Mile 3: 6:26
Mile 4: 6:31
Mile 5: 6:37
Mile 6: 6:34
last bit: 78 seconds.

(40:02 on my watch, but 40:07 for the race chip time - I'm not sure where the discrepancy came from, but I'm not going to worry about it).

Based on the splits, it looks like I went out too fast, but I don't think I did.  Certainly I didn't by effort.  I think the splits just reflect the effects of the wind - many people I spoke to had similar splits, including mile 5 being strikingly slow.

Also interesting was just how low my heart rate was in this race - it peaked at 172 - when I usually see in the high 170s at the end of a 10K, and average around 176-177.  I think this points (again) to me being REALLY aerobically fit, but residual fatigue not letting me push to my potential.  Which shows that I REALLY need to taper the next two weeks.

One reason I thought I could run faster was the workout I did on Wednesday - twenty-five 400m repeats at 10K pace with 100m floating recovery (essentially 30 seconds of running at 8:00 pace).  On Wednesday, my twenty-five repeats summed to 39:09, after subtracting the recovery.  I was curious as to how well this workout would predict my time.  Judging from today's race - not that well.  On the other hand, I think my legs were still tired from that workout, so perhaps this morning's race wasn't a fair test.

Time was supposedly good enough for second master female.  I suspect the "first master female" was a bib-swap, but there's no way to know for sure until the race photos come out.  PSA again folks - PLEASE DON'T SWAP BIBS.  Especially if you're in my age group.

Other notes:
  • Weather was awesome - temp 46, dew point 36.  The sun was bright, but that's why they make cool sunglasses, right?
  • Wore my flats (Takumi Sen) for this race.  I normally love these shoes, but they felt a bit strange this morning.  Possibly because I'm in marathon mode, so my stride is slightly different?  It was strange, but I really found myself wishing I had worn my marathon shoes (Boston Boost) for this race.
  • I have a preferred parking spot for Hains Point races - easy to get to from Virginia, and close to the start.  Alas, that area is under construction - imagine my surprise to find "my" parking area coned off.  Fortunately, I got to the race early enough that I was able to drive around and find another parking space.  Though it wasn't the same.
  • Used my Foradil inhaler in the morning; also used my Albuterol inhaler pre-race, though I don't think I needed to.  Breathing was good.
  • Took a Caramel Macchiato GU in the morning, to give myself a spike of caffeine and perk me up.  Alas, I still felt sluggish.  But at least the gel was yummy.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Training log - Week ending 11/1/15

This week was 87 miles of running, 17 "miles" of pool-running and 4000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

And. I'm tapering.  Just about the right time for it, too.   This last week the fatigue started to hit - I'm tired, though I'm still hitting good times in my workouts (and since I run them off of perceived effort, and don't see splits until later, I'm confident I wasn't overdoing them).

This fatigue is a good thing:  I think if you're ready to be done with marathon training during the last hard week, you've done it right.  If I had felt this fatigue a month earlier, it would have been concerning.  And finishing a training cycle feeling uberfresh can be disconcerting - "did I train hard enough?"

Both Friday and Sunday were big confidence boosts - I came into both feeling tired (with a mild sore throat to boot on Sunday).  Per my coach's advice, I ran both cautiously, with a conservative feel.  It was really nice to check the splits post run and see how fast I had run - they were my best runs this training cycle.  I'm in a really good place, fitness wise.

So now I just need to taper.  And since I know from times past that it's impossible for me to taper TOO much, I'll be cutting back fairly sharply.  Starting with a very easy Monday, since my sore throat has decided it didn't like Sunday's long run too much.

On my plate for this week - a set of 400s at 10K pace with 30 seconds recovery (exact # of 400s TBD by my coach on Wednesday morning) and a 10K race on Sunday as a final sharpener.


Monday:   Yoga and 7 "miles" easy pool-running in the morning; another 3 "miles" easy pool-running in the afternoon, plus foam rolling.

Tuesday:  14 miles, including a track workouts of 2x1600, 3x800 (6:22, 6:03, 2:57, 2:56, 2:55), followed by injury prevention work and 1250 yards of recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Wednesday: 8.5 miles very easy (9:20) to yoga, followed by yoga.  Later did another 8 miles very easy (9:12), followed by drills and two hill sprints.   2 "miles" easy pool-running and a sports massage in the evening.

Thursday:   5.5 miles very easy to yoga (9:34).  Later did another 5 miles easy (8:36 pace), followed by drills and two strides, and some upper body weights work.  2.5 "miles" easy pool-running and foam rolling at night.

Friday:  12.5 miles including an 8K tempo on the track in 32:35, split as 6:45/6:31/6:29/6:28/6:23, followed by injury prevention work and 1400 yards of easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:  12 miles very easy in the morning (8:45) followed by drills and two strides.  Later did upper body weights and 2.5 "miles" recovery pool-running, plus foam rolling.

Sunday:  21.5 miles progressive, split as first 1.5 miles at 9:34, next 5.5 at 8:34; next 7 at 7:28; last 7.5 at 6:55 (downhill assist).  Followed with some injury prevention work.  1350 yards recovery swimming and foam rolling in the afternoon.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Training log - week ending 10/25/15

This week was 85 miles of running, 19 "miles" of pool-running and 3000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

This week my schedule got mixed up a bit.  Normally I run intervals on Tuesday, tempo on Friday, and my long run on Sunday.  However, this week my long run shifted to Saturday (the Marine Corps Marathon on Sunday basically shuts down my regular long run routes).  As for my normal weekday track workouts, the two were combined into a single workout on Wednesday morning - the "25x400."

The workout is (as you would expect) twenty-five repeats of 400 meters each.  Normally, when I do 400m intervals, I run them at mile race pace (~85 seconds) with a very slow jog for 200 meters after each to catch my breath.  But for this workout, the goal was to run each repeat at 10K race pace (around 95 seconds for me), with short recoveries of 100 meters after each.  Furthermore, each recovery was to be run in 30-35 seconds (8:00-9:20 pace), substantially faster than the shuffle-jog I normally use to recover. 

The workout has two purposes - one is as a lactate threshold ("LT") workout.  By alternating paces above and below your lactate threshold, you are able to average LT effort for a longer time than you would during a continuous workout.

The other purpose is mental callousing.  It takes a lot of focus to run 25 repeats on the track, especially when you can't check out mentally during the recovery, both because the recovery is so short and because you can't slow down too much during the recovery. 

You never get to use the brakes during this workout - you just alternate how much pressure you have on the gas.  And while recoveries are a key aspect of any workout, they were integral here - requiring as much concentration and work as the interval itself.

And there's also the fact that, at the end of the workout, you've run 31 continuous laps on the track - a bit less than 8 miles.  This is because, after completing each 400, you run the 100 to the next corner of the track, so that each repeat starts and finishes at a new point on the track.  As my coach put it, the workout is a head game.

It's also a good simulation of the marathon in many ways.  A good friend who had done this workout several years ago advised me to start it conservatively and feel my way in - it's a long way to run, and if things go bad halfway through, you'll be suffering for a long time.  Just like a marathon.

And at multiple points during the workouts (starting about seven reps in, if you're me), you realize just how far you still have to go.  Just like a marathon.

But the beauty of the workout is that it also sets you up for success.  You just focus on running the current interval, and since each interval is just one lap of the track at 10K effort (or 100 meters at 8:xx pace), each interval is easily manageable and not that imposing on its own.  So you work your way through, taking one rep at a time and then you're at the last lap and it feels awesome.

As for how it went?  Fairly well, I think.  I heeded my wise friend's advice and made sure not to start too fast - this was pretty hard to do, since the pace feels so stupid easy during the beginning (again, just like a marathon).  I tend to be a rhythm runner, so once I got my feel for the pace of the interval and the recovery, it wasn't too hard to shift back and forth.  Not every interval was exactly 95 seconds, but they were pretty darn close, and I had enough left to "kick" into sub 6:00 pace for the 25th and final rep.

There was one hiccup: I realized early on (after the first rep) that I didn't know where the other 100m lines were on the track.  I was only familiar with the mark my team uses to start/finish our workouts, not the other three.  And in the darkness of the early morning, it was really difficult to see where the track was marked.  So I ended up working off of other things in the area where the 100m line should be - generally painted markings on the infield bordering the track.  Doing this way probably means that some of my recoveries were a few feet longer than 100m, while others were a few feet shorter.  I don't think this really mattered - what was important was that each 400m lap stopped at the same point it started and that the recoveries averaged out to 100m.

I did have one question about this workout.  It's done by runners with a range of abilities - on the one hand there are those who run 10ks in roughly 32 minutes, and so run their repeats in around 75 seconds.  On the other end, you have myself.  I run a 10K in about 40 minutes, and my repeats in 95 seconds.  So why do all runners get the same recovery of 100m in 30-35 seconds - a pace that is relatively much quicker for me than for them?

After thinking about it, I realized that it was because this is a lactate threshold workout, and we are trying to average LT effort.  Lactate threshold is generally defined as the pace one can hold during an hour-long race.  So...if you race 10K in 32 minutes, your 10K pace is a lot faster than your LT pace - there's a wide gulf between 32 minutes and 60.  On the other hand, since I race a 10K pace in 40 minutes, my 10K pace is closer to my LT pace.  In order for both runners to average to LT effort, the 40 minute 10K runner needs to keep the recoveries more active.  The 32 minute guys are running their repeats harder, and so get relatively easier recoveries to balance out the effort.

And that's probably also why this is not a workout that will work for runners of all paces.  At some point, a runner's 10K pace is too close to the recovery pace, and so the recovery pace is too fast for them.  At that point, it makes more sense for that runner just to do the standard continuous tempo.  The other option would be to give that runner more time for recovery, but if you do that, then the average effort for that runner won't be lactate threshold.  And the runner will also be on the track for a very long time.  The workout itself, excluding warm-up and cool-down, had me running continuous circles for ~52 minutes - I don't think it's a good idea for most runners to be running continuous circles for too much longer than that.  Crazy ultra runners, as always, excepted.

One more week of hard training, and then I taper.


Monday:   Upper body weights, yoga and 7 "miles" easy pool-running in the morning; 3 "miles" easy pool-running and foam-rolling in the afternoon.

Tuesday:  6 miles very easy to yoga (9:28) and yoga.  Later, another 6 miles very easy (8:48), followed by drills and two strides.  2 "miles" of pool-running and foam rolling in afternoon.

Wednesday: 14 miles, including 25x400m at 10K pace with 100m active recovery on the track.  I'm not going to list out all 25 splits, but the first 24 repeats averaged 95 seconds, with most being between 94 and 96 seconds (two outliers at 93 and 97).  Kicked on the last for 88 seconds.  Recoveries averaged 31 seconds.   The full workout, with splits, HR, cadence, etc is here.

Followed with lower body strengthwork and 1500 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling in the evening.

Thursday:   8.5 miles very easy to yoga (9:35).  Later did another 5.5 miles very easy (8:42 pace), followed by drills, two hill sprints, and two strides.  3 "miles" easy pool-running in the afternoon and foam rolling at night.

Friday:  12 miles very easy (8:56) and then some upper body weights work.  2 "miles" easy pool-running in the afternoon and foam rolling at night.

Saturday:  18 miles, including a 4-3-2-1 workout - intervals of 4, 3, 2, and 1 mile at marathon pace feel, with one mile recovery between each.  Splits were:

4 mile - 28:08 (7:08, 7:05, 6:58, 6:57 - gentle rolling hills)
3 mile - 20:49 (6:59, 6:56, 6:54 - gentle rolling hills)
2 mile - 14:11 (7:10, 7:01 - slight uphill)
1 mile - 6:44- slight downhill.

Averaged 7:00 flat pace for the 10 miles.  Followed with lower body strengthwork and 1500 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling in the evening.

Sunday:  8 miles running to the Marine Corps Marathon to cheer, another 3 miles running to other spots on the course, and then 4 miles back home.  All very easy.  Also did some upper body weights stuff.  In the evening, 2 "miles" easy pool-running and foam rolling.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Training log - week ending 10/18/15

This week was 86.5 miles of running, 16 "miles" of pool-running and 3000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

Well, this was a nice week.  Army 10 Miler really didn't beat me up, so recovery was relatively uneventful, and I was feeling relatively fresh (for marathon training) by Wednesday.

For the end of the work week and the weekend we had perfect weather.  Friday I was rewarded with one of the best tempos I've had in a while.  The splits my coach was calling were much faster than my perceived effort, so I just let myself cruise, reluctantly stopping at 5 miles since my coach didn't want me going longer.

On Sunday, I did "the loop" for the first time for my 20 miler.  The loop is my team's traditional long run route, which features a steady, sometimes sharp descent for the last five miles.  While I've done many 20 milers, I had previously avoided the loop due to the pain the long downhill finish caused my right groin/hip.  But that was before I had several rounds of PRP/prolotherapy to that area to heal a chronic tear in my groin.  I had tested running fast on that section a few months ago, and found that it no longer caused pain, so the loop was now an option.

And it was the easiest and most fun 20+ miler I think I've ever done.  Part of it was that I had a running buddy for almost the entire route - since I've historically done a separate route for my 20+ milers, I've always soloed the last 10-15 miles.  Having good company made the miles fly by.

The long downhill stretch at the end (plus tailwind) also made it easier.  I ran the final five mile section at perceived marathon pace effort, not checking my Garmin.  As it turns out, I ran it substantially faster than goal marathon pace, so I guess that's an oops.  But I don't feel terribly beaten up or trashed, and the effort was conversational, so probably no harm no foul.

New stairs
So yay for a successful week of training.

In other news, I'm adjusting to life in our house and new addition (not to be confused with New Edition).  The unifying theme of the house is stairs - it seems that any time I go anywhere in the house, stairs are involved.  I expect my hill running skills to improve substantially.

More new stairs, plus more boxes to unpack

old stairs.

And... a picture of our shower, which is our "party piece" in Brian's words.  Two person shower, with a central rainhead and a wand.  And in black with black grout, so I can dye my hair without too much worry.  We spent more on the shower than was practical, but it was worth it - I grin every time I use it.
I love this shower.


Monday:   Upper body weights, yoga and 7 "miles" easy pool-running in the morning; sports massage at night.

Tuesday:  7 miles very easy to yoga (9:24) and yoga.  Later, another 7 miles very easy (9:22).  1.5 "miles" of pool-running (pool closed early) and foam rolling in afternoon.

Wednesday: 8 miles very easy (9:16) to yoga, followed by yoga.  Later did another 8 miles very easy (9:04), followed by drills and two strides.   3 "miles" easy pool-running and foam rolling in the evening.

Thursday:   6 miles very easy to yoga (9:27).  Later did another 4.5 miles (8:48 pace), followed by drills and two strides, and then some upper body weights work.  2 "miles" easy pool-running and foam rolling at night.

Friday:  12.5 miles including an 8K tempo on the track in 32:37, split as 6:38/6:31/6:28/6:32/6:27, followed by injury prevention work and 1650 yards of easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:  12 miles very easy in the morning (8:45).  Later did upper body weights and 2.5 "miles" recovery pool-running, plus foam rolling.

Sunday:  21.5 miles progressive, split as first 2 miles at 9:52, next 5 at 8:41; next 7 at 7:47; next 2 at 7:23; last 5.5 at 6:38 (downhill with tailwind).  Followed with some injury prevention work.  1350 yards recovery swimming and foam rolling in the afternoon.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Training log - Week ending 10/11/15

This week was 55 miles of running, 16 "miles" of pool-running and 2000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

Tapered for and ran Army 10 Miler this week, which went well.  This upcoming week I have a 20 miler, plus lots more unpacking from the move.  Moving sucks, kids.  Especially when moving into a house that's still under construction.


Monday:   In the morning, some upper body strengthwork, yoga, and 7 "miles" easy pool-running.  2.5 "miles" easy pool-running and foam-rolling in the evening.

Tuesday:  12 miles, including a workout of 6x800 (split 3:07, 3:08, 3:04, 3:00, 2:58, 2:58)  followed by some injury prevention work and 1150 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling in evening.

Wednesday: 6 miles very easy (9:19), followed by a yoga class and then another 4 miles very easy (8:37 - not sure why so fast), followed by drills and four strides.   2 "miles" easy pool-running in the afternoon.  Sports massage at night.

Thursday:   8 miles very easy (9:24), followed by drills and four hill sprints.  1.5 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling at night.

Friday:  5 miles, including a mile up-tempo at 6:15.  Later did another 2.5 miles very easy (8:40 - downhill).  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:  4 miles very easy (8:54) plus drills, two strides, and two hill sprints, followed by foam rolling. 

Sunday:  2.5 miles warming up, 10 mile race in 66:27.  Followed with a lot of unpacking and 3 "miles" pool-running plus 850 yards recovery swimming in the afternoon.  Foam rolling at night.