Monday, October 27, 2014

Training log - Week ending 10/26/14

This week was 74 miles of running and 5000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

Another week in the books, with one more to go before taper.

I mixed stuff up a bit this week.  Normally my hard run days are Tuesday (intervals), Friday (tempo), and Sunday (long run).   This weekend I had the final "4-3-2-1" workout on tap, which I had to do on Saturday due to the Marine Corps Marathon being on Sunday. This raised the question of where to fit in the tempo workout.  The only real option was to do it on Thursday, but I really prefer to have at least 2 days between track workouts, since they're fairly hard on my body (the constant turns annoy my hips and ankles).   After talking to my coach, we decided just to skip the tempo altogether this week - it just made sense since the tempo for this week was a fairly minimal cruise intervals - not that important a workout.   And I think I'm better off for having only two hard workouts this week - it's not about packing in as many workouts as possible, but about hitting the proper balance of stress and recovery.


The other thing I mixed up were my shoes.  My quest for the perfect shoe is quite the saga.  By way of background, I ran very happily in the Kinvara for several years, including my first marathon.  Until Saucony changed the shoe on me, so that it no longer fit my foot well.  (Why do companies change good shoes?)

The was the start of a long quest for the perfect shoe.  Or several perfect shoes (I don't ever want to get dependent on one shoe again - damn you Saucony).  After a long cycle of injury, and test driving many shoes, and many consultations with podiatrists, PTs, etc, we determined that many of my injuries were caused by ankle instability.  This ankle instability is accentuated by shoes that are soft and cushioned, allowing my foot to sink and wiggle with each strike. (I also supinate slightly, so despite my instability issues, "stability shoes" that correct pronation just give me peroneal tendonitis.)

So, I swapped to firm, light neutral shoes, and they've worked very well for me.  The Mizuno Hitogami was instrumental in getting me healthy again, and the Adidas Adios Boost has been a good shoe for me too. 
My current rotation, if you're interested.  From left to right -
Mizuno Hitogami, Mizuno Sayonara 2, Adidas Adios Boost,
Adidas Adios Boost 2, Adidas Boston Boost 5

The problem is that neither of those shoes seems to be quite enough cushioning for me for the marathon (I know others have raced marathons well in them, but we're all unique).  I don't feel I can race longer than 10 miles in the Hitogami; I had been planning on wearing the Adidas Adios Boost for my marathon, but my forefeet have been getting pretty sore during my long runs.  Plus, it feels like the Adios is just a bit stiff for me.

So...went back to Road Runner, and picked up a pair of the Adias Boston Boost 5.  On paper it seems like just what I wanted - very similar to the Adios, but slightly more cushioning in the forefoot, and also a lot more flexible.  I took them for two test runs this week - an easy run on Thursday, and my "4-3-2-1" workout on Saturday.  And....yay.  They're not perfect - my forefeet were still slightly sore at the end of Saturday's run.  But my ankles and heels were also slightly achy - indicating that I definitely don't want to go any heavier on the cushioning.  These seem to strike the best balance.  For me.

But the really good news was how ridiculously fast both runs were.  I usually do my runs by effort - on easy runs I don't check pace at all, just heart rate.  On my marathon pace runs, I do check pace, but I still stick to marathon pace effort, even if that means that my actual pace is slower or faster than goal MP.  For both Thursday and Saturday's runs, my perceived effort was completely out of whack with the times I ran.   In a good way - about 15 seconds faster per mile than perceived effort.  These shoes are just a really good mate for my stride, I guess - running slow or fast felt easy and fun in them. 

So, I'm going to run in these shoes 2-3 more times, including my last 20-22 miler this Sunday.  Then I'll marathon in them.  Hopefully they'll continue to work their magic.

I just wish they weren't hot pink.


Dailies

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

Tuesday:  In the morning, 12 miles, including 6x800 in 3:05, 3:04, 3:00, 2:58, 2:57, 2:52.  Followed with injury prevention work and 2000 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday:  9 miles very easy (8:50), then yoga, followed by another 7 miles easy (8:38), plus drills+strides.   Foam rolling in the evening.

Thursday:   In the morning, 3.5  miles very easy (8:47), then yoga, then another 6 miles very easy (8:12) followed by drills+strides and some upper body weight training/injury prevention work. Foam rolling in the evening.
Friday:  10 miles easy (8:22) followed by drills and strides.  Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Saturday:   16.5 miles averaging 7:33; did the 4-3-2-1 workout.  3 mile easy jog, then:
4 miles in 27:42 (6:56/6:55/6:55/6:56), followed by a mile at 8:34 pace (and a quick bathroom break)
3 miles in 20:29 (6:50/6:45/6:40), followed by a mile at 8:03 pace  (and a quick bathroom break - damn stomach)
2 miles in 13:44 (6:45/6:59 - think Garmin lost signal here during the second mile under the freeway), followed by a mile at 8:09 pace
1 mile in 6:34 (felt like 6:50 effort).  Followed by half mile slow jog cooldown.   Total time for the 10 hard miles - 68:29 - 6:51 average pace (was shooting for 7-ish).

Followed with some injury prevention work, 1000 yards easy swimming, yoga, and foam rolling.

Sunday:  Cheering at the Marine Corps Marathon (my teammates rocked it, BTW) - logged 10 miles total jogging to different locations along the course.  Later did 2000 yards of swimming and foam rolling. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Training log - week ending 10/19/14

This week was 80 miles of running and 4000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

And, we're at the heaviest part of the training.

I didn't feel too beaten up after Army 10 miler, but skipped the Tuesday workout anyway.  And then of course, on Tuesday night my massage guy identified approximately 726 different muscle knots that needed to be kneaded.  Very glad I went in.

The rest of the week was really about mileage and marathon pace.  I made the decision to slow down the pace of my track workouts, even if it means I end up "between groups."  I've been able to hang with my present group in workouts, but the fact is a) I feel like I've been redlining a lot of the workouts and b) I'm not running the same race times as others in my same group.  Part b) could be possibly excused by the fact that I never seem to race shorter distances well when I'm in marathon training, and that I also struggle with fall races due to stinkin allergies.  Or maybe not.  Either way, there's no real benefit to me in really crushing track workouts when I'm marathon training.

Additionally, I tend to be someone who really needs a slow first rep or first mile in a track workout before dropping the pace , while most people tend to run more even splits.  So, I go out with the even splitters, get some oxygen debt, and end up struggling to run a time that I hit much easier if I just start a bit slower.  So, I'm going to try starting off my workouts slower, and then upping the pace when it seems right - even if that means I have to solo.

And....the long runs really are key here.  I was pretty happy with today's long run.   For DC area runners - the route I took was from Fletcher's boathouse out to Rock Creek, and then take Rock Creek up to Wise Road before turning and heading back the same way.   Going this way meant that I did a lot of my marathon pace segment on parts of the Rock Creek trail that can be twisty/turny and also have some very annoying (though short) hills.  It's challenging to hold marathon pace here just because your rhythm is regularly disrupted.   But I did.

And then my last 3 miles were on a slight (but noticeable) uphill into a (*profanity*) headwind.  By the last mile, I was running on fumes and sucking a gel just for the sugar kick.  But, it seems that I can hit 7:00 pace running on fumes into a headwind, so that's cool.  If there's one skill I have, it's being stubborn.

In other happy news, I went in for a follow up with my doctor (the one who did all the PRP/prolotherapy).  He confirmed what I already knew - the chronically stretched ligaments in my ankle are now considerably shorter, making that ankle MUCH more stable.  (I knew this anyway, since my balance on that ankle is so much improved).  So, yay.

Dailies

Monday:   1250 yards easy swimming plus yoga in the morning, foam rolling at night.

Tuesday:  In the morning, 2.5 miles very easy (9:21) with drills+strides, then yoga, followed by another 8.5 miles easy.  Sports massage at night.

Wednesday:  9 miles very easy (8:58), then yoga, followed by another 5 miles easy (8:18 - mostly downhill route), plus drills+strides.   Foam rolling in the evening.

Thursday:   In the morning, 4.5 miles very easy (8:58), then yoga, then another 4 miles easy (8:25) followed by drills+strides and some upper body weight training/injury prevention work. Foam rolling in the evening.
Friday:  12.5 miles, including an 8K tempo in 33:16 - my splits ended up screwy due to me zoning out and hitting the watch at the wrong time, but I essentially ran the first 3 miles in ~ 6:46 for 1600, and the last 2 (after finally tying loose shoe when it came completely undone) in ~6:30.   Funny how much the pace picked up for the same effort after I fixed the damn shoe.  Followed with injury prevention work and 1750 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Saturday:   12 miles easy (8:29) and then yin yoga.  Upper body weight training/injury prevention work plus foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday:  22 mile long run (well...21.86, but close enough, right?).  Ran it progressively as first 7 at 8:29, next 6 at 7:33, last 9 at 7:02. Overall pace was 7:37.   Followed with 1000 yards of shakeout swimming, yin yoga, and foam rolling.  And eating all the things.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Training log - Week ending 10/12/2014

This week was 45 miles of running and 2000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

Another cutback week.  I had planned to cut back mileage some for Army 10 Miler, anyway.  Then I picked up a bit of a bug early in the week - nothing horrible, but enough for me to decide to avoid the gym and yoga on Wednesday - I really prefer to avoid others if I'm even possibly contagious.  To that point, yes, I feel bad about going to track on Tuesday - I just didn't figure out that I was coming down with something until after.  Luckily, I don't think I gave my bug to anyone.  Also lucky that it hit early enough in the week to be cleared out of my system for the weekend.

Dailies

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

Tuesday:  In the morning, 7 miles, including a track workout of 6x800 (splits of 2:59, 2:54, 2:54, 2:54, 2:54, 2:58).  Felt dizzy during the workout, so shut it down.  Felt even worse post workout, so skipped the cooldown and injury prevention stuff.  Ended up calling it a half day at work also, and just crashing the balance of the day.
 
Wednesday:  Felt lousy in the morning, so slept in and then went for a jog to see how I felt.  I didn't feel any worse as I ran, and maybe even a bit better, so I ended up doing an easy 10.  Good decision/bad decision?  Who knows?   Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Thursday:   Felt better.  In the morning, 7 miles easy plus some injury prevention work. Foam rolling in the afternoon.
 
Friday:  Felt fine.  7 miles easy, including a one mile pick-up in 6:17.   Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Saturday:   750 yards very easy swimming in the morning.  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday:  3 miles warm-up, then 10 mile race in 1:07:10, followed by mile jog back to metro.  In the afternoon, did injury prevention work, 1250 yards of shakeout swimming and foam rolling.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Race Report: Army 10 Miler, October 12, 2014

I ran the Army 10 Miler today, finishing in an official time of 67:10.  Still a good bit off of my PR, but I'm decently happy with it - I'm making progress.

Army's always a bit of a logistical challenge.  The most common (and recommended) way to get there is by metro, but the metro stop at the start isn't large enough to accommodate a large group of runners (and Army is a VERY large race).  Plus, once you get there to the starting area, you still have to go through a security checkpoint to get to the corrals.  And then there's really no good place to warm-up pre-race.  And they make you get into the corrals very early.

I live in Ballston, which means that I'd normally take the orange line metro (which was running a train once every 20 minutes) to the Rosslyn station, and then swap there to the blue line (running once every 6 minutes) to go two stops to the race start.  But....I had a bit of inspiration.

Where I live is about 2.5 miles jog from the Rosslyn station.  So....why not just jog to Rosslyn, and use that as a shakeout and the bulk of my warm-up?  (and also save myself the aggravation of waiting for a train that was running 3 times an hour).  So that's what I did, and it worked perfectly (except for the bit of chafing on my shoulder from my bag).  I left my house at 6:15, and the combo of easy jog plus blue line got me to the Pentagon station at 6:55.  Of course, it took another 10 minutes to actually exit the metro station, but I had planned for that, and had time.  Between getting to the surface, doing bag check, hitting the portapotties, and jogging the half mile to my corral, I ended up at my corral around 7:35.  Did a few quick strides and drills, and then hopped in to wait, chatting with friends.

We stood around for a long time (long enough that I think everyone in the corral with me lost the benefit of any strides they had done), and then we were off.  This course is always crowded, and I needed a lot of time to warm-up, so I took the first mile pretty slow (7:11), and then started nudging the pace down.  Even with such a cautious start, I still felt like I was in a bit of oxygen debt from the get go, which was annoying.  But nothing to do but work with what I had.

My breathing was a bit tough the whole race, like I had cotton wadded in my upper chest.  This was was frustrating.  But it also makes me feel even better about this race - I was able to run a decent race despite the fact that it wasn't my best day (not the weather's fault, BTW - it was perfect racing weather).

This was never going to be a PR race for me - I'm just not in that shape right now.  The whole reason to do it was to get a good race effort run in and to practice racing skills, and I did just that.  By mile 5 I was hurting, by mile 7 I was swatting away buzzing fantasies about dropping out (we've all had those, right?) and by mile 9 I had no freakin' clue how I was going to make it to the finish. But I held it together, focusing on my form and relaxing and positive thoughts, and somehow my last two miles were my fastest.  And that's a confidence boost.  The next time I'm REALLY hurting, it will be good to have in my mental back pocket the knowledge that I can really hurt and hold it together.

Splits were:

Mile 1: 7:11
Mile 2: 6:45
Mile 3-4: 13:31 (6:46)
Mile 5: 6:38
Mile 6-7: 13:25 (6:43)
Mile 8: 6:38
Mile 9: 6:33
Mile 10: 6:31

Other notes:


  • They really need to offer space blankets at the finish if they're going to have bag check over a mile from the finish area.  October is late enough that the clothes that are comfortable for racing are not the ones comfortable for standing around in after.
  • My stomach was pretty sour, so I ended up not taking any gels during the race, just a bit of water during the first mile.  I usually take a gel during a 10 mile race - not sure if that would have made any difference here.
  • Used Dulera in the morning, and then when stuff still felt tight I used my albuterol about 10 minutes before the start.  No full out asthma attack, but my lungs were definitely not great today - far worse than they were during the Navy Half.  I'm guessing this is some combination of my weed allergies, standing around in the corrals for a bit of time before the start, and maybe the bug I had earlier in the week.  As I do every year, I'm crossing my fingers that this will end once we have first frost (I often struggle until then).  If not, back to the pulmonologist.
  • Every year, someone describes this course as "fast and flat" - they're right on the first part - this is a very fast course.  But it is NOT flat - there's several gentle inclines/declines.
  • My gait still feels just bit off, despite all the work I'm doing on it - still like one of my axles is bent, to use a car analogy.  More stuff to work on.
  • 6:15 was the absolutely perfect time to leave my house.  But....NO LATER.
  • This is the one year anniversary of getting the MRI that confirmed a tear of my left hamstring at the attachment.  It's so great to be here, and not there.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Training log - Week ending 10/5/14

This week was 70 miles of running and 4000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

This graphic pretty much captures where
my right hip was tender,
and the referred pain.
The first part of the week was recovery.  As I noted last week, I was feeling like I was on the cusp of overtraining.  9+ hours worth of sleep on Sunday did a lot to help that, but I then woke up with a tight right calf and hip on Monday, making skipping Tuesday's workout even more of a no brainer.  So, kept the mileage low and easy on Tuesday, and got into my PT for some dry needling of my glute medius, glute minimus, and calf trigger points (I tried to release them first myself with a tennis ball, but sometimes you just need the big guns).

The dry needling did the trick - I felt better on Wednesday, and the calf was totally fine by Thursday.

And thing is, the rest early this week was probably more constructive to my training than another
This is NOT a good model
for a marathon training plan. 
Both literally and figuratively.
heavy week.  Proper training is NOT like constructing an ice cream sundae - trying to pile on as much as you can while hoping the thing doesn't topple over before your taper.  Rather, it's like baking a cake - adding too much of an ingredient can screw the whole thing up and the whole mixture needs time to set.

Next week is Army 10 Miler; after chatting with my coach, I've decided to do the same cutback I did for the Navy Air Force Half - it strikes a good balance between letting me rest up enough to be fresh but not falling too far off of marathon training.

Dailies

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

Tuesday:  In the morning, 6.5 miles (8:33 pace), and a yoga class, followed by dry needling.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday:  In the morning, 7.5 miles very easy (9:12) followed by yoga.  Later an easy 7 (8:31 pace) and 1000 yards easy swimming.  Sports massage at night.

Thursday:   In the morning, 4 miles very easy (9:20) to yoga.  After yoga, did another 4.5 miles (8:33), followed by a few drills+strides, some upper body strengthwork and injury prevention work.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  12.5 miles, including a workout of 3200, 1600 (12:41, split as 6:28/6:13, and then 6:09), followed by lower body strengthwork and injury prevention work, and then 1500 yards easy swimming.   Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Saturday:   11.5 miles easy (8:18), followed by some drills+strides, yin yoga, and injury prevention/upper body strengthwork.  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday:  16.5 miles averaging 7:36; did the 4-3-2-1 workout.  3 mile easy jog, then:
4 miles in 27:52 (7:05/6:57/6:55/6:55), followed by a mile at 8:28 pace
3 miles in 20:45 (6:57/6:56/6:52), followed by a mile at 8:25 pace
2 miles in 13:51 (6:56/6:55), followed by a mile at 8:18 pace
1 mile in 6:42.  Followed by half mile slow jog cooldown.   Total time for the 10 hard miles - 1:09:10 - 6:55 average pace (was shooting for 7).

Followed with some injury prevention work, 1500 yards easy swimming, and some yin yoga.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Training log - Week ending 9/28/14

This week was 80 miles of running and 4000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

This was a week of some ups and downs.  I started the week off feeling a bit beaten up from last week's 4-3-2-1 workout.  I felt good enough by Tuesday to do a cautious version of the interval workout - doing the minimum number of reps and not pushing the pace.  I felt good after that workout, and so continued to build my miles.  Note that I did manage to slow most of my easy runs to ~ 9 minute pace.

However, I did note some trouble signs later in the week - basically insomnia and a slightly elevated resting HR, plus feeling a bit mentally fuzzy and blue, with concentration issues.  These could be signs of not recovering adequately, or maybe just my allergies affecting me (weeds, including sage and "chenopods" have been high for a while, and really surged the last week or so.).

I discussed with my coach on Sunday, and we agreed that I'd crank out the scheduled 20-22 miler (that's not one you want to miss, if possible), and then focus on rest for the next day or two.  Monday is always an off day anyway, but depending on how I feel, I may skip next Tuesday's workout as well in favor of easy running.

Dailies

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

Tuesday:  In the morning, 13 miles, including a track workout of 2x1600, 800 (splits of 6:14, 2:55, 6:05, 2:55), followed by injury prevention work and 1000 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.
Wednesday:  In the morning, 6 miles very easy (9:05) followed by yoga.  Later an easy 8.5 (8:23 pace - in my defense, a lot was downhill) and 1000 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday:   In the morning, 5 miles very easy (9:27) to yoga.  After yoga, did another 3 miles (8:55), followed by a few drills+strides, some upper body strengthwork and injury prevention work.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  13 miles, including a 4 mile tempo in 26:08 (splits were 6:41, 6:33, 6:29, 6:25), followed by lower body strengthwork and injury prevention work, and then 1100 yards easy swimming.   Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Saturday:   12 miles easy (8:37), followed by some drills+strides and injury prevention/upper body strengthwork.  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday:  21 miles averaging 7:46, split as 7 miles at 8:33, 6 miles at 7:33, and then the final 8 miles at 7:06 (but with two water breaks included - it got a bit toasty/sunny out there).  Followed with 900 yards shakeout swimming; foam rolling at night.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Training log - Week ending 9/21/14

This week was 67 miles of running and 6000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here

The first part of this week was pretty light.  Last Sunday's half-marathon beat me up a lot - the course ended with a fairly steep downhill that killed my hips.  I normally take Mondays off anyway, so that was no different than the norm.  Tuesday I was planning on an easy double, but after the first four miles I decided that cross-training was the smarter option.

A bit of extra rest, plus a 90 minute sports massage (wow, did I need it) did a lot to put me back together in time to get some volume in during the second part of the week.

Good thing, because now the training is kicking into high gear.  I did my first "4-3-2-1" workout this weekend (the workout is 16-17 miles total, with segments of 4 miles, 3 miles, 2 miles, 1 mile at marathon pace, each divided by a mile at easy (not recovery) pace).

I had done this workout once before, while training for my last marathon.  I remembered it being fairly easy then.   Of course, as I later realized, I did the workout that time on relatively flat terrain, in 30 something-degrees.  As I learned today, it's a bit tougher when done in hilly Rock Creek Park in warmer weather.  But I got it done.

[I feel compelled to note here that for some reason, though we had warm weather in DC, it was nowhere near as hot and humid as it was in Philadelphia (2+hours to the north) where many of my teammates raced today.  Strange.]

I wasn't sure what pace to shoot for, so I asked my coach - he advised me to shoot for 7 flat.   That worked for me - though that pace seemed slightly aggressive as a target, it also made for easy math.  And...looks like I ended up averaging 6:59 pace over the 10 miles at marathon pace (individual miles were above or below that, but I attribute that to the terrain).  Woo.  I was a bit tired and achy after the run, but that's in keeping with my coach's characterization of this as a hard workout.

Next week is my first 20+ miler.  Along with lotsa easy miles.  I'm once again going to try to slow down my easy runs - I realized while talking with some of my teammates that there are a lot of faster people who run their easy runs slower than I do.  Setting my heart rate limit at 150 BPM was working for a while as a limiter, but it's probably a bit too high now (increased fitness and lower temperatures mean I run faster for the same HR).  So I'll play with lowering that again, maybe to 145.
 
Dailies

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

Tuesday:  In the morning, 4 miles very easy (9:05), followed by a yoga class and then 2500 yards easy swimming.
Wednesday:  In the morning, 6 miles very easy (8:53) followed by yoga, and then an easy 7 (8:23 pace).  Massage at night.

Thursday:   In the morning, 4.5 miles easy (8:44) to yoga.  After yoga, did some upper body strengthwork and injury prevention work, then another 4 miles (8:20).  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  13 miles, including a short workout of 3200, 1600 (800 recovery) (splits were 12:45 (6:26/6:19) and 6:14).   Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Saturday:   11.5 miles easy (8:42), followed by yin yoga and injury prevention/upper body strengthwork.  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday:  17 miles, including the 4-3-2-1 workout.  3 mile easy jog, then:
4 miles in 28:20 (7:20/6:57/7:00/7:03), followed by 1 mile in 8:44 (mostly uphill)
3 miles in 20:49 (6:56/6:59/6:54), followed by 1 mile in 8:07 (mostly downhill)
2 miles in 13:51 (6:52/6:59), followed by 1 mile in 8:31 (downhill, then slight uphill)
1 mile in 6:49 (slight uphill).  Followed by mile slow jog cooldown.   Total time for the 10 hard miles - 1:09:49 - 6:59 average pace)

Followed with 1700 yards easy swimming, yin yoga, and lotsa foam rolling.  (Honestly, the easy swimming/yin yoga/foam rolling combo is fantastic for relieving soreness/stiffness from a long run).

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Training log - Week ending 9/14/14

This week was 50.5 miles of running and 2000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here

I cut back a bit this week, prepping for a Sunday half-marathon.  It's always a bit hard to gauge just how much to cut back for a half when you're in marathon training; I ended up cutting 2-3 miles off of each day from Wednesday-Friday, replacing Friday's tempo with a 1 mile pick-up, and then taking Saturday off altogether.  Looking back, I think I would have cut back some more if this was my goal race, just to be sure I was rested; however, I do think I went into the race fairly fresh while still getting some miles in, so I'm happy with the balance I struck.

Next week (which is now this week, since I'm just getting around to this post...) will be some race recovery and then back into marathon training.  The training really starts this upcoming weekend, when I have my first "4-3-2-1" workout (basically a descending ladder of marathon pace miles within a long run).  I'll have 6 hard long runs (3 of which will be progressive 20+ miles, the other 3 "4-3-2-1" workouts) over 7 weeks (taking a week off to race Army 10 miler) before taper.

Dailies

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

Tuesday:  In the morning, 12 miles, including a workout of 4x1200 (workout was 4-6x1200).  Splits were4:36, 4:29, 4:30, 4:24.  Followed with injury prevention work, and 1000 yards easy swimming.
Wednesday:  In the morning, 9 miles easy (8:25) followed by yoga.  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday:   In the morning, 3 miles easy (8:48) to yoga, and then another 3 miles after (8:15).  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  8 miles, including a mile pick-up in 6:27.   Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Saturday:   1000 yards easy swimming with a pull buoy and foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday: 2 mile warm-up, and then half marathon in 89:33. Yin yoga and foam rolling in the afternoon.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Race report: Navy-Air Force Half Marathon, September 14, 2014

I ran the Navy Air-Force Half Marathon today, finishing in 1:29:33.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about this performance.  On the one hand, this time is not what I had hoped I would run.  I really didn't know exactly what I would run, but I had assumed I'd break 89 minutes at a bare minimum, and possibly be 1:27:xx.    I never know exactly what I'm going to run - in the end, I race watchless and by effort and see what happens.  But I had some expectations based on workouts.

On the other hand, I ran a well-paced mentally tough race and left it all out there on the course.  And just getting to start and finish this race is a vast improvement over last year at this time, when I was sidelined with multiple injuries.  My coach was actually fine with the time - he noted that I was still coming back, and that this was a big improvement over where I was last month.  So there's that.  But of course, we all always want to run faster.  And we want to do it now.

The race itself was a set up for big PRs.  It's a very fast course (think Cherry Blossom with an added segment in Rock Creek park), and the weather was absolutely perfect - mid-50s, low dewpoint, pollen wasn't too bad, no issues with wind.  Perfect.  This is absolutely a race to target if you want a half-marathon PR.

There were a few management glitches, though - I think the race management is still learning.  Packet pick-up on Saturday was a bit disorganized, with unnecessary long waits, and a bit of a search to find just where the pick-up was (it was in a baseball ballpark, which is not a small area, and there were very few signs).  I ended up spending over 60 minutes on my feet, which I prefer not to do the day before a long race.

They also made arrangements to open Metro at 6:00 am so that runners could get to the race, which started at 7:10 am.  It was a nice gesture, but not early enough for metro to be a viable option for most people.    Metro opening at 6:00 am doesn't mean that a train leaves your station at 6:00 am.  And since trains on the orange line (my line) were running once every 24 minutes, I decided I didn't want to take the risk.

The most annoying difficulty was the combination of the courses of the half-marathon and the 5 miler - the 5 miler started 30 minutes after the half, and used the last 4 miles of the half marathon course.  Obviously, this created issues at the end of the half, as we had to navigate slower runners.


***

I debated whether to drive my car in and try to find parking, or to take a cab in and metro home later.  I ended up doing the latter, though next year I think I'll drive in - there was plenty of street parking not too far away.  I scheduled a cab for 5:50 - very early, but I wanted to have fudge time in case the cab showed late or didn't show at all.  As it turned out, the cab showed early, and I ended up getting to the race at 6:00 am - a bit earlier than I would have liked, but not too bad.

After doing bag check, I jogged for about 2 miles, including a 2 minute pick-up to about 5K pace.  Then hung around some more, until just before getting into the corral, when I did two strides.  My legs felt fairly perky, and I was psyched for a good race.

The gun went off, and I went out pretty conservatively, per my norm.  I like to go out pretty slow, and then pick up the pace when I "feel like it", which is generally between 2-3 miles out.  I felt controlled and in the groove, then about mile 4 I actually started to feel a bit tired.  It was a bit early, but I decided to take a few slurps of  my Rocktane to see if that would perk me up.  (I generally don't take gels in one shot when racing; I prefer to work on them slowly over 2-3 miles - the slower extended delivery of sugar seems to work better for me).

I did perk up a bit, but by mile 6 or so, I was feeling a bit tired again, and ready to be done.  No real reason for this - I was rested, tapered, well fueled and hydrated, and the weather was great.  It wasn't a breathing issue either - my breathing was great.  My legs just felt heavy.  Crazy, when we weren't even halfway.

Of course, I am in marathon training, where all I do is practice running fast on tired legs.  So, if nothing else, this was a great opportunity to practice doing just that.  And, though I was hurting, I was fairly certain I was having a good race.

So that was the rest of my race - just working on staying positive, continually checking in to see if I could give a bit more.   The miles seemed to creep by, but I know perception of time can be off sometimes when racing, so I put it out of my mind.    If there's one thing I can do, I can grind out long runs at a fast pace.  I was running very tense for some reason, but I just kept focusing on relaxing forward.

The last few miles on Hains Point were a bit frustrating, with what seemed like large crowds of slower 5 miler runners to be dodged.  My splits showed that my last two miles were some of my slowest, but I don't think I actually faded - it was just that I lost a bit of time with all the congestion from a large group of half marathoners trying to pass through a larger group of walkers and slow joggers.

Then I came over the hill and crossed the finish.  I didn't see a finish clock, so I didn't know my time until I flipped screens on my Garmin.  I was pretty disappointed to see my time, but it is what it is.  And much better than sitting on the sidelines.

Splits were:

Mile 1: 7:08
Mile 2: 7:07 ( I think this was long - Garmin shows 1.03 miles)
Mile 3: 6:25 (I think this was short - Garmin shows .97 miles)
Mile 4: 6:50
Mile 5: 6:53
Mile 6: 6:50
Mile 7: 6:47
Mile 8: 6:47
Mile 9: 6:45
Mile 10: 6:47
Mile 11: 6:49
Mile 12: 6:55
Mile 13: 6:55
last .11 - 36 seconds (but very steep downhill)

Other notes:

  • Used Dulera for my asthma before the race - worked great - no issues.
  • I've been dealing with an annoying neuroma in my right foot for some time.  It's been flaring on long runs and after workouts, so I was a bit worried it would bug me here, but it was a  non-issue.  Which is consistent with the fact that it seems to be aggravated more by slow running than fast running.
  • The part of this course that was on Rock Creek was somewhat banked, which aggravated my hip issues a lot.  It worried me and threw off my gait for a while, and my left hammy started to feel ouchy (which always scares me, given the issues I've had with that hip in the past).   Luckily, I just focused on my posture for a few miles and it resolved.  Still, I'm going to watch it pretty carefully over the next few days.
  • Debated what shoe to wear for this - I feel a bit faster in my Hitogamis, but the toebox is slightly tight,.  I was worried about my neuroma (neuromas are aggravated by compression of the toe area, which pinches the nerve), so I went with my Adios Boost 2s, and their wider toebox.  (I'm planning on wearing either the Adios Boost or the Adios Boost 2 for my marathon).  I doubt the shoe made much difference pace-wise, but at the same time I think I'll probably go with the Hitogami for Army Ten Miler.
  • One benefit of racing halves and 10 milers - it's not just a race, but also an extended lactate threshold workout, which is a type of workout I really thrive on.    I generally get a big boost in fitness about a week or two after racing the 10-13 mile distance, which makes running this race a win regardless of the time.
  • Shoulders and upper body are pretty achy now - I really need to work some more on that "running while relaxed" thing.
  • The half-marathon conundrum continues (I really thought I would beat it this time).   My PRs at both the 10 mile and marathon distance are better than my half PRs.  I've run mid-65s very consistently for 10 miles, but I've only managed to crack 89 once for the half.  I think part of this may be that the only half marathons I've ever been happy with are those that I targeted as a goal race (actually, I don't think I've ever been happy with any race I've run during a marathon training cycle).  Mental note to focus on a half marathon for a season, maybe this spring.
  • Ended up finishing second masters, which earned me a nice trophy and a call up onto the awards stand.  This aging thing ain't bad at all.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Throwback Thursday

I was one of many just like me.  Mid-to-late 20s, with a recent law degree and a job at a large law firm downtown - offices at 10th and Pennsylvania, halfway between the White House and the Capitol, with plenty of marble and dark wood.

I was just starting my second year at the firm, which meant that I:
  1. still didn't know what I was doing but
  2. now had to fake it for the incoming first years while
  3. feeling very insecure about the fact I didn't know what I was doing.

(I later learned that no one ever really knows what they're doing - the antidote to imposter syndrome is realizing that it's universal.  At least among the sane.)

I had shown up fairly early for work, around 8:30 am.   For the DC outpost of an NYC law firm, this WAS early.  Generally those firms didn't get rolling until 10 or so.  But I was there early, driven by a naive brew of type A personality, billable hours, student debt, and a first AND second mortgage.

I was both driven and easily distracted, and so the email telling me that the New York office's email was down right now pulled me away for a second.  And then I turned back, only to have my friend Melissa call me on the interoffice line to ask if I'd heard about the plane that had flown into the Trade Center.  Wow, no I hadn't.  Crazy thing.  Are planes really that hard to steer?

But I had lots of work to do, so I turned back to my monitor.  I wasn't concentrating well, though.  I was tired and my eyes hurt, and I kept looking out my office window into the beautiful day, staring at the FBI building right on the other side of 10th street.

***

You know how it goes from there.  Most of us have some variation of a common theme  - watching TVs at work or school, video replays of Katie Couric and Matt Lauer and burning towers.  Just like everyone else, my concentration was shot, so I switched to a mindless non-billable task (I think I was organizing my desk), while listening to the local 24 hour news station - WTOP.

The normally cheery chat was somber and discombobulated.  Chaotic.  (They did, however, doggedly persist with "traffic and weather on the eights").  More reports - smoke rising from the Pentagon; car bombings around DC targeting various government buildings. The State Department had been damaged by a car bomb; there were a few scattered reports that the Capitol and IRS had been bombed also. 

The IRS building was just across Pennsylvania Avenue from my building - certainly close enough that I would have felt it (and that's an understatement) if if had been bombed.  So I was sure that was untrue.  But I also realized that my downtown DC office sandwiched between several high profile federal buildings was not a safe place to be.

So I was leaving.  No announcement had been made about whether the office was closing or not, but I didn't care.  My friends Jacqueline and Melissa were leaving also - each of us packed a box of work to take home and met in the hall.  We weren't the only ones doing so.

***

I had debated briefly whether to walk home or drive my car (I lived two miles away).  I took my car - as the reports on WTOP grew more scary and chaotic, I realized that I might need to evacuate DC - if so, I'd want to have my car as an option.

So down to the garage we went.  (I remember that we debated whether to take the stairs or the elevator; I don't remember which one we chose.)  I was giving Melissa a ride home to her place in Cleveland Park; Jacqueline lived in Alexandria, and thus had no way to get home - all bridges from DC into Virginia were apparently closed, and Metro was shut down as well.  So she'd come home with me, and then figure out next steps.

My car was on the lowest level of the garage, which meant no radio reception.  No problem - it usually took about 2 minutes or less to get out onto the street and then we'd hear the news again.

But not this time.  Unsurprisingly, everyone in the building had made the same decision about the same time I did, and was leaving.  Even given the volume of cars, it seemed ridiculous how slowly we moved.  Far worse than any post-concert traffic I'd experienced.

We sat down there, in my car, underground, tense.  The last we had heard was that buildings were being bombed - what if they bombed a building next to us while we were trapped down here?  Why was traffic moving so slowly?  What was going on in the streets above?  We just didn't know. 

I was surprised at how little panic I felt.  There's a certain resigned peace that's the next step beyond fear - it was a strange emotion to feel.

Finally, after 45 painful minutes, we reached the surface, and saw that the delay was capitalistically mundane.  The parking company had NOT simply thrown the gates open as I had assumed they would.  Instead, each person had to swipe their parking card or a credit card before leaving.  And since the card machines were failing repeatedly, many people were having to give a credit card number to an attendant (who clearly didn't want to be there) to write down.

It was a triumph of process over common sense.  And one of the stupidest things I've ever seen.

***

But, we were out, into the sunshine, finally.  I didn't know what we'd see when we emerged into the light, except I was sure there would be traffic - this was DC, after all.  And there was.  The volume of cars equaled a normal rush hour, but there the similarities ended.  Nobody cared about red lights or turn signs or medians any more; we drove on the sidewalks and ran or walked in the streets.  Everyone just wanted out.

One way signs were apparently decorations now, though traffic did seem slightly thicker on the "correct direction" streets.  So I picked one of the wrong way streets - again, expediency.  Even then, it was still a slow crawl.  And the sights were crazy.

We could see smoke in a big diffuse cloud to the south east, and WTOP was reporting that the Pentagon had been bombed.  Or maybe a plane had flown into it.  No one knew.  I didn't know whether the smoke was coming from the Pentagon or the National Mall, and in the end it really didn't matter.  We were leaving.

Pedestrians were tapping on car windows, asking to be let in.  Armed men in combat gear with rifles were running, military trucks as their back drop - where the HELL did all this stuff come from?  Where did they keep it?  It was surreal to see the military presence, though in retrospect it would have been more concerning if they weren't there.

What really struck me was that in the midst of all this chaos, the figures of authority weren't focused on us at all.  In a US city, when you encounter chaos, you expect those in uniforms to be instilling order.  Directing traffic, setting up police tape, etc.   Not here.  This wasn't police, this was military, and they didn't care about me other than that I was in the way.  For the first time in my very sheltered life, I was in an active military zone.

***

After a bit of creative driving, we were home.  Cell phones were mostly useless with the networks overloaded, but Jacqueline had managed to get a call through to her boyfriend, Andrew.  Melissa and I gave him contact numbers for our families, and he called each of them to let them know we were OK.

Then Jacqueline and I sat and watched TV (I didn't have internet at my home).   The chaotic stories coalesced into the one you know today - there was no State Department bombing.  Or any car bombs at all.  Just planes and targets.  But we still didn't know what would happen next.  Was this just the first wave?  Who was doing this?

Metro opened up again an hour or so after we got home, and Jacqueline decided to try to see if she could get back to Alexandria.  It wasn't the smartest choice - we didn't know what was happening next, and she was arguably safer in Dupont than trying to go back through downtown.  But she wanted to go home.  And I understood - had our roles been swapped, I would have done the same.


Working with horses, you learn the true horror of barn fires.  Horses see their stalls as places of safety, and refuse to leave as the barn burns, even though safety is a few yards away.  That characteristic is true of people too - in the end, we're all mammals, and crave the safety of our dens.  I packed go bags for myself and Mina, my cat - if DC was being targeted, then my Dupont Circle condo, less than 2 miles from the White House, wasn't the best place to stay.  But, I didn't want to leave unless I really had to - though not the safest place, home was where I felt most secure.

***

So I watched TV, Mina in my lap.  I'm an introvert, and loneliness is rare for me.   I like being alone; sometimes I need it.  But, for one of the few times in my life, I was truly lonely.  All I wanted was someone to hug me and tell me everything was going to be alright.

I hate lies.  But this one time, it would have been OK.

But I had no one to lie to me, so instead I petted Mina, mindlessly, and she purred.

***

Finally, I decided I needed to get out.  It was late afternoon, with no more reports of attacks.   So I grabbed my discman and walked over to Georgetown.  Every storefront and restaurant that I walked past was closed.  Despite that fact, the pedestrian traffic was heavy.  I think everyone craved the same as myself - fresh air and others.

On M Street, military stood guard at many of the intersections, with faces that were indescribably severe.  Traffic laws were being mostly followed now - lights were working, cars were keeping to the streets and pedestrians to the sidewalk (well, as much as they ever do in Georgetown).

I walked through Georgetown, to the Key Bridge, and stood there, one in a crowd.  For a long time,  we watched the smoke rise from the Pentagon.  Then I walked home.

***

I slept that night fully dressed, with WTOP at a low volume, and the cat carrier/go bag/car keys prepped.  In retrospect, that seems like an overreaction, but it didn't seem so at the time.  Throughout the afternoon and evening I had spoken to a lot of my friends - we were all fine.  No one was on one of the planes, or at the Pentagon.  Several of my friends were planning on leaving town for a cabin they had in the Shenandoah, called the "Mountainhaus."  They invited me to come, but I opted to stay in DC and wait things out.  And thought about horses in burning barns.

Of course, nothing did happen.  But the next days were far from normal.  Stores remained closed, troops remained on the streets, no planes flew.  The movement towards "normalcy" was tentative and slow.  It took a day or two for most stores and offices to reopen, longer for planes to fly again.   After some debate (including plans to turn it into a shopping mall) a few weeks later National Airport was reopened.

But things were still different.  And it wasn't just the more militarized feel, or the evacuation plans everyone drafted up, or the US flags that were everywhere, bridges, restaurants, night clubs.  It was the sense that risk was the new normal.

A bit later somebody started stuffing envelopes with anthrax.  I didn't bat an eye, just checked the "from" address before opening my mail.   More than a year later, some people started driving a reported "white van" around DC, assassinating normal everyday people as they pumped gas or left restaurants or mowed lawns.  I shrugged my shoulders as I learned to duck and run when going to the grocery store, and to stay in my car as much as possible when pumping gas.  

Whatever, this was the new normal.

***

There was one aspect of the new normal that made my skin crawl, though.  The inescapable social phenomena of the 9/11 confessional.  Someone would bring up 9/11, and everyone would go silent for a moment.  Then another person would describe how they heard, where they were.  That was the cue for everyone, one by one, to describe their experience.

Like some twisted therapy group, we went round in turn.  Eventually, when everyone had told their story, we'd be silent another moment, and then the conversation would turn.  I hated the predictability and the self-absorption and the indirect attempts to one-up each other with patriotism or loss or proximity, even as I participated.

I'm not crazy about the fact that I'm writing this now.

***

So why did I write this very long post?


In the years since, I've become a bit of a local history buff - I love seeing pictures of local places from 100 years ago, or even 30.  I don't really care about the monuments or the iconic stuff - there's always tons of photos of those.  But it's really cool to see a picture of a local storefront or bridge or trail from 10 or 20 or 100 years ago.  And I wouldn't get to see those if someone hadn't taken the picture.   In a way, this is my attempt to do the same.

My experience was nothing special.  I was one of many ciphers (and very aware of such that day).   But the documentation and discussion of that day has always seemed to me to focus on the major parts - the videos of planes crashing, stuff burning, buildings falling, dust billowing, families crying.  It's parallel to photographers focusing on the major landmarks.  My experience is the equivalent of the local storefront.  Not particularly notable.  No one really cares right now, nor should they.  If you've made it this far, congrats :). 

But maybe, some day, someone will be glad I documented what I saw and heard and felt.

Also, it's been over 10 years now, and my memories are rusting.  Did I really see armored trucks on Pennsylvania Avenue?  Or is it an image stuck in my mind because I saw it on the news or someone described it?  Is my mind exaggerating (or downplaying) the military presence downtown?  Were we silent on the Key Bridge as we watched the Pentagon burn?  Or were we speaking quietly?  Chatting? Was someone maybe telling jokes?  Were they at least funny jokes?

I can't remember now.  And I'll remember less next year.  And the year after that.  Better to write it now.

All I know is that my memory now is what it is.  Hopefully not too different from how it was.  And now it's here.