Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Training log - Week ending 12/4/16

This week was 45.5 miles of running, 9 "miles" of pool-running and 500 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

Placeholder for race week.


Monday: 5 "miles" pool-running in the morning; 1 "mile" pool-running and foam rolling at night.

Tuesday: 7 miles, including a track workout of 4x800 (3:01, 3:00, 2:59, 3:03, followed by 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 6 miles very easy (9:32). 2 "miles" pool-running  and a massafe in the afternoon.

Thursday: Very minimal upper body weights and 4 "miles" - mostly easy, but with one mile slightly uptempo, at goal "first-10K-of-marathon pace" (7:17).

Friday: Off.  Travel.  .

Saturday: 2.5 miles very easy (9:36).

Sunday: 26.2 miles in 3:11:11 (7:18).

Monday, December 5, 2016

Race Report: California International Marathon, December 4, 2016

I ran the California International Marathon yesterday, finishing in a time of 3:11:11.

This race has always been a bucket list item for me - I've heard great things about it, and I've never run a net downhill course before.  Nor have I raced in California.  So when I realized a few days after Chicago that a) I was entered in CIM (I entered it much earlier this year) and b) that several online friends from the RunnersWorld Online Forum were entered, attempting a marathon double sounded appealing.

But also risky, both in terms of burnout and potential injury.  For that reason,  this race was a "maybe" for me all the way until I hit the taper.  I knew that I was taking a risk by running a second marathon so close to Chicago, and so resolved to pull the plug if I ever felt burnt out, or if any injuries started flaring.  But neither happened, fortunately.  In fact, I ran some surprisingly good workouts in the shortened training cycle between the two - good enough to make me fantasize that maybe this could be a really good race for me.

Because the race was tentative for me, I booked my flight tickets on Southwest. Because Southwest has no change fees,  if I decided during this cycle that doing CIM was a very bad idea (instead of "not a great idea") then I could just reuse the tickets later.  Flying Southwest meant that I had to fly out of Baltimore's BWI airport, rather than one of the DC airports, but it was a worthy trade off.

The flight was uneventful, except for the strange stares I received when I wore my flu mask once again.  Whatever - better stares than illness.  Since Southwest lets you pick your own seats, I sat myself next to a thin guy in a Boston Marathon hat who was (as I surmised) going to Sacramento for the same reason I was).  My thought was that he would be more tolerant than others of a) my flu mask and b) my constant water drinking and associated bathroom use.  I was right on both counts.

When I landed at Sacramento, I headed directly to my hotel, and hit bed not too long after.  Since I had a very early wake-up time on Sunday, I decided it made sense just to stay on east coast time as best I could, hitting bed between 7 and 8 pm (10 and 11 pm) and waking between 3 and 4 am (6 and 7 am).


Saturday was a lot of resting, HBO watching, and Chipotle eating, plus a slightly longer than planned shake out run, and a slightly longer than planned walk to the expo.

By way of explanation, Sacramento's streets are laid in in a grid, with lettered streets running horizontally and numbered streets running vertically.  So addresses like "13th and K" are very very familiar to me.  At the same time, I'm used to Northwest DC (I lived in Dupont Circle for over a decade), where the numbers and letters increase as one heads north and west.  In Sacramento, it's the reverse, with the letters and numbers increasing as you head south and east.   This small detail left me directionally challenged, and every time I left my hotel, I headed in the wrong direction for several blocks before turning around.


Sunday morning dawned early but not early, per the east coast/west coast differential.  Per the race literature, the buses departed the convention center at 5:00 am for the start line.  However, it wasn't clear if that meant that ALL the buses left at 5:00 am, or if they started leaving at 5:00 am and departed in waves for some time afterwards.  

I had planned to meet my online friends (a step up from imaginary friends) Scott and Mark at the convention center at 4:55 am, but we revised to 4:45.  Which ended up being the right choice, as that's when the queues began to flower.    We boarded a bus a bit after 5 am, and arrived at the start area around 5:40 or so (if I recall).  With a 7:00 am start, this was plenty of time to chill in the bus (we were allowed to stay on board), listen to music, drink water, and eat more breakfast.

Around 6:10 am, I decided it was time to get to business, so I stepped off the bus for my first pass through the portapotties (which were amazingly plentiful - this race gets it right).   It was fairly chilly.

I had been planning to race in my sportsbra, but decided that the tank top was a better choice, so I changed in one of the portajohns in the dark.  (there were minimal  lines at the time).  I somehow managed to accomplish this without a) letting anything touch the floor, b) having anything fall into the void, or c) pulling a muscle.  I credit yoga.  Then I did some stretching, checked my bag, and did some more stretching.  Plus a few short jogs of 50 feet or so.  I don't like to warm-up for a marathon, other than stretching out my hips - why add any more distance to the 26.2?  But I do like to include a few short test jogs to make sure my shoes are tied just right, my gels aren't rubbing too much, etc.

This period was also punctuated by a meeting with my previously online friend Jim, a 61 year old running wunderkind.  It was good to chat with him and finally meet in person.

The start area was all self-seeding, no mandatory corrals, but it worked well here.  This is a race that caters to serious runners - the anti-Rock and Roll -  and my sense was that everyone lined up honestly based on what they intended to run - no first timers with delusions of grandeur.    Since I always like to start conservatively, this was a small race, and I had no real chance at a masters award here (so gun time didn't matter), I lined myself up with the 3:23 pace group.  My thought was that over 26 miles, I could just work my way through group after group - from 3:23 through 3:13 to hopefully 3:08 or faster.


The gun went off and we started.  I had felt pretty energetic the day before, but actually felt a bit off in the first few miles - very sluggish (and the first split ended up being very slow).  It was slightly concerning, but I've also felt that way at the beginning of some of my long runs, so I didn't worry about it too much.  Perhaps it was because of the long wait pre-race, perhaps it was just because.  Either way, I took my first gel a bit early, at the 3 mile mark, and perked up a bit after that.

This race is a rolling downhill course, and I can't help repeat what everyone told me before.  None of the hills are particularly challenging or hard - in fact, towards the middle of the course I found them to be a nice reprieve from the downhills.  But they did keep coming, and each one took back some of the time gained on the previous drop.  In retrospect, I also wonder if I was too cautious on the early downhills - I deliberately held back to save my legs for the second half, but I'm not sure that I accomplished that much by doing so.  My hunch is that I could have flowed down them a bit more (as long as I didn't push them) without additional damage to my quads.

My plan for the race was to stay conservative through around mile 12-13, where the biggest of the uphills ended, and then start opening up.  Carefully.  I still didn't feel great (not horrible, but not sharp), so I just kept slurping gels and drinking water (for those of you who care, i.e. Julia, the total was 9 gels plus three bottles of water).   Around mile 8 or 9, there was a big sign "Dianetics" and a few wide-eyed happy people handing out oranges.  I declined, fearful that I'd end up dropping out and marrying Tom Cruise.

[Of course, 20 years ago, if you had given me the choice between running a marathon and marrying Tom Cruise, I would have chosen door B.  Weird how preferences evolve over a lifetime.]

The second half of the race had a few negligible uphills and a lot of nice gentle downhills, and I tried to pick up the pace some, but my legs were dying.  The soreness had popped up a while ago - this was more of "losing air in the tires" feeling.  So more gels, more water, and careful metering of my effort to the finish line.    I also recalled conversations with several marathoning friends, where we agreed that one of the interesting things is that your legs can feel horrible and wobbly and shaky, but you can still actually be running decently.  I decided I was in that category.

Having seeded myself so far back, I was still passing people even as as I was fading, which helped a lot.  And every time I saw a large group pulling close, I hoped it was the 3:08 pace group.  It never was, though.

I made it through mile 20 without issue, and a few minutes later ran under a "wall" that towered over the course - amusing.  Not as funny as the guy in the Grim Reaper costume that used to hang out at mile 20 of the Marine Corps Marathon, but a nice touch nonetheless.

Then it was over the bridge that was the last "hill" and we were into Sacramento.  I could tell that I was maxing out my legs, but that's part of finishing a marathon.  And since I run watchless, and had no idea what my actual splits were, I was able to fully believe that I was on track for a major PR.

A few weeks back, I had paced a friend through the final miles of the Marine Corps Marathon, as other runners fell apart, cramped, and started to walk.  I encouraged them "relax and flow forward" - when you're tightening up and agonizing about the finish, trying to fight doesn't help - it just makes it worse.  So I coached myself onward, repeating "relax and flow forward, relax and flow forward."

It worked, to an extent.  I got what I could out of my legs, but it wasn't much.  I was running on my heels, in my own variant of the "mile 22 shuffle stride" - not fun, but it was what I had to work with, so I went with it.  At least I was moving forward.   My quads also shifted from painful to numb at this point - which was concerning but also convenient.  On the whole, a plus (marathoner logic).

Somewhere past mile 25, Jim passed me - on his way to a 3:10 (PR!) at the age of 61. (!!!!)  It was both massively inspiring and slightly depressing, as I realized that I probably wasn't running quite as fast as I had hoped.  (On the other hand, I apparently now have a 19 year window to set marathon PRs, so yay!).  But nothing to do except keep motoring with what I had - Jim encouraged me to come with him, but that just wasn't happening.

The course ends with two 90 degree turns - one onto 8th street, and the second into the finish chute.  I counted down the streets...11th, 10th, 9th, and turn on 8th.

This was the point where I was supposed to start kicking.  But just the opposite happened.

 Apparently the bargain I had struck with my legs was contingent on running in a straight line.  A turn was deviation from these terms, and so my legs pulled out of the deal.  They went into full rigor mortification, and I hobbled gamely, if lamely, across the finish line.

As I did, I noted the finish clock at 3:11.  Not what I had hoped to run, but I don't think I could have gotten much more out of my body today, and there is a great deal of satisfaction and pride in that.


Splits were:
Mile 1: 8:11
MIles 2-3: 14:47
Mile 4: 6:59
Mile 5: 7:06
Mile 6-7: 14:10
Mile 8: 7:14
Mile 9: 7:24
Mile 10: 7:09
Mile 11: 7:19
Mile 12: 7:16
Mile 13: 7:15
Mile 14: 7:05
Mile 15: 7:18
Mile 16: 7:14
Mile 17: 7:01
Mile 18: 7:11
Mile 19: 7:10
Mile 20: 7:17
Mile 21: 7:14
Mile 22: 7:20
Mile 23: 7:28
Mile 24: 7:24
Mile 25: 7:24
Mile 26: 7:31
last .21: 1:41 (8:14 pace - just nothing left)


The aftermath of the race was a lot of fun - I got to see Jim yet again, and congratulate him on his major PR. It was really cool to witness that (albeit, from behind...).  Scott and Mark also ran significant PRs, and Katie (the other member of our running group)  had a great race only a few months post-partum.   Katie, Scott, Mark and I (plus sig others and friends) went out for lunch after, where I had too much food and too many drinks, including the watermelon drink I had been anticipating since I made the reservation a few days prior.
Myself, Mark (Seattle Max), Scott (Brewing Runner), and Katie (KK Runner).
Not Pictured  Jim (Jim E 1955) and Robin (RLK117)
This was really good.


As for whether I'm happy I did this race, the answer is a resounding yes.  Though I had hopes based on my post-Chicago training that I might be able to PR at this race (and maybe even get close to 3:05), that was never the primary goal in running it.  I've always wanted to run CIM, and to do it and also meet Jim, Scott, Katie, Mark (and have forum-mate Robin cheering for me at various locations) was the primary purpose.  Mission accomplished, and a total success.

CIM was a great race, and I definitely recommend it to others - it's as good a place as any to take a shot at a PR.  And I'll probably run it again at some point, with a training cycle dedicated to it.

As for why I didn't run faster?   I can't think of anything I would have changed between the two races or on race day.  I tapered well, and I clearly paced it in a way that eked every last bit out of my body.  Perhaps I could have been less careful on the downhills.  On the other hand, perhaps I would have imploded worse at the end, had I not been cautious early on.

I did two things that some other marathoners find slightly odd - one was running this race with my watch blanked; the other was seeding myself fairly far behind the pace I was intending to run.  I don't think changing either of these things would have resulted in a faster race, though.  Chasing goal paces early on would probably worsened the late race fade, and seeing my splits in the last few miles (or even in the early miles) would have been demoralizing.   Running off of feel, I got everything out of myself that I could.

At the end of the day, I think that Chicago just 8 weeks prior caught up to me at CIM.   Some people recover very quickly - I tend to have lingering fatigue that can hide until least convenient, like race day.  I also think that the weird cycle of 3 weeks recovery, 2 weeks training, 3 weeks taper left me a bit short on endurance.  Which isn't to say that I wish we'd done things differently - had I tried to cram more training into that time frame at the expense of recovery, I would have just gotten injured or fried.

So, having tried the two marathons in one training cycle, I now know that it's not for me.  Live and learn, and I'm glad I tried it, rather than wondering.   If you don't experiment, you never reach your potential.   But, for ME, all indications are that it's far better for me to try to parlay post-marathon fitness into shorter distance races, and so that's what I'll do from now on.

Of course, it's not over yet.  Executing the two marathons in one training cycle is analogous to climbing a mountain in one sense - it's not a successful attempt until you've returned to base camp intact and alive.  Or in my case, until I've recovered successfully.  And based on the obscene gestures delivered by my legs yesterday, that's going to take a few weeks of nothing but pool-running, swimming, yoga, and eating.  There will be no January half-marathon for me, and no full marathon in the spring of 2017.  Just plenty of rest and recovery, followed by working on my 5K and 10K PRs.

Other notes:

  • Weather was perfect - started at 42, ended at 45, really no wind.
  • I had originally planned to stay in the Cal Expo area, a few miles from Sacramento, and rent a car.  However, I opted to relocate to a hotel in downtown Sacramento right by the finish line and the start shuttles - it was my first time in Sacramento, and I didn't want to make things too complicated.  However, if/when I do this race again, I'll definitely stay in the Cal Expo area (saving a good chunk of money) and rent a car - Sacramento is not a difficult place to drive around or park.
  • If you're on the east coast and you fly out west to run this race, just stay on east coast time. The sun sets around 5:00 pm local time, so it's easy to go to bed at 7 or 8 pm local time (10-11 pm east coast time). Which in turn makes the 5 am buses on Sunday easier, AND minimizes jet lag.
  • For a moment during the latter stages of the race, I thought I was hallucinating when I saw signs for US 50.  Only to realize that it was indeed true.  US 50 is also a major road that runs through DC (I sometimes run along it) and runs east to Ocean City Maryland. I spend a LOT of time on that road on the east coast, and so it was surreal to see it on the opposite side of the continent.
  • It was really good to see/meet/hang out with the RWOL 3:20 group.  
  • Had a slight asthma attack post race, which also happened after my Turkey Trot 5K.  Neither was very bad, but still concerning.  Since I'm on Advair, they shouldn't be happening at all.  After allergy season ended, we decided to bump down the strength of my Advair to the lowest possible, but I'm (sadly) thinking I need to bump it back up.  Annoying.
  • To DC natives worrying about the hills at CIM - seriously, they're like Rock Creek Park (and not the bad ones).  If you train in Rock Creek Park, you'll be fine.
  • Wanna know how you carry 5-6 gels on each side?  Here you go.  Apply bodyglide to sides, then safety pin gels to shorts.  Then fold gels over edge of shorts so they're tucked in between shorts and skin, where they sit securely until you need them.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Training log - Week ending 11/27/16

This week was 43 miles of running and 22"miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

This was the second week of my second taper.  My normal schedule was thrown off a bit by a) a trip to Connecticut for work (including a stay at the world's most depressing Hilton Garden Inn) and b) a 5K Turkey Trot.

Honestly, I mainly ran the Turkey Trot because of the work trip - I would have preferred to stick with a Tuesday/Friday workout schedule, rather than race that close to CIM.  But...there was really no place to safely do a workout where I was staying in Connecticut- my running route was back and forth on the shoulder of a state highway, with the occasional diversion into a) a small residential development and b) an elevated parking lot.

The Connecticut run was honestly one of the most depressing runs I've done.  It was sub-freezing, with high winds, and I found nothing enjoyable about jogging back and forth on a mix of broken sidewalk and grass adjacent to laundromats and takeout pizza.  I almost never lose motivation, but it was really really hard not to pull the plug on this run two miles in.  Especially when I was two days out from a 5K and less than two weeks out from a marathon.

But I reminded myself that I get stale when I overtaper, and I needed to get the eight miles in, and trudged on through my first world struggles.   The run was made much easier when I ended up running with another hotel guest who, oddly enough, was also tapering for CIM.  What are the chances?

On the other hand, Thursday's 5K was a pleasant surprise.  I've known that I'm in good shape - I'm finally breaking 20 in 5K tempos again.  However, I don't generally race well at shorter distances when I'm in a marathon cycle - it's just hard to get into the 5K mentality.  So to get within 10 seconds of my PR, given those factors, was a huge confidence boost.  And it gives me hope that perhaps I can nudge my PR a bit lower in the next year or two.

But that's the hopeful future.  Next up, California.


Monday: Core and injury prevention work plus 10 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling.

Tuesday: 8 miles easy (8:51) followed by drills and strides.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 4 miles very easy (9:28). Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Thursday: 3.5 mile warm-up, 5K race in 19:20, and 4.5 mile cooldown.  Foam rolling in the evening.

Friday: 8 "miles" of pool-running in the morning; another 2 "miles" of pool-running and foam rolling at night.

Saturday: 8 miles very easy (9:22), plus drills and strides, followed by upper body weights.  2 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling in the afternoon.

Sunday: 12 miles moderate (7:52), followed by light injury prevention work.  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Race Report: SOME 5K, November 24, 2016

I ran the So Others Might Eat (SOME) Turkey Trot 5K today, finishing in 19:20.

I really had no idea what I was going to run today - my workouts have been going really well in the last two weeks, but I'm training (well....tapering now) for a marathon, not a 5K, and I've never been one to race well at shorter distances when I'm in marathon shape.  Plus, I'm not really a 5K specialist - I hate them, and it shows in how I perform in them.  I much prefer either road miles (too short to think/hurt) or 10K and longer (the longer distance gives me more time to find a rhythm).  5Ks are awkwardly painful, like shoes that are both too wide and too short.

So why did I run this race?  Especially 10 days out from my marathon?  Well....I'm one of those people that tapers best by cutting the volume but keeping the intensity during taper.  So I really had to get some fast running in this week.  And due to various scheduling issues, I wouldn't be able to make any of my team's workouts this week.  I could either do fast running on my own at some point on Thursday or Friday, or race a Turkey Trot.  I chose the latter.  And I went with a 5K simply because I wanted to keep the race distance short this close to the marathon - no 5 milers or 10Ks.

So I went with SOME, which was a 5K, a fast course, and conveniently located partway between my own home and my parents' place.  As I noted before, I had no idea what I'd run.  If you had asked me on the starting line, I would have told you somewhere between 19:30 and 19:45.  Any of which would have been a good 5K time for me - though my PR is 19:10, that was set several years ago.  Since turning 40 and returning from the torn hamstring (I'm not sure which was the bigger setback), my 5K times have been:

2014 - 20:24, 20:24, 20:16
2015 - 20:29, 20:16, 19:51 (but also managed to break 40 for 10K)
2016 - 19:48, 21:05 (asthma), 20:22

I've had plenty of decent and some great performances at other distances, but my 5K races have been relatively mediocre.  Hence my modest expectations.   And my delight at running 19:20.


The SOME 5K is a very fast course in downtown DC.  It's pancake flat, and though it has two hair pin turns, they come early enough in the course that you don't lose too much speed.  When you get great weather (like we did today), it's a great race to shoot for a PR on.

SOME did start at 9:00 am, lending itself to a casual morning.  I left the house around 7:40 am, which was more than enough time to find parking, chill out, warm-up, and hit the bathrooms a few times (5Kolitis).  I noted that the (mild) wind was coming from the east this year; usually it's from the west.  Since the race starts heading east and ends heading west, this was good news - I'd have the headwind for the first part, when there would be others to draft off of, and then the tailwind would help me home.

As always in shorter races, I timed my warm-up to include two hard running segments of 60-90 seconds about 15 minutes before the race start.  Yes, I've tried racing shorter stuff off of just easy jogging and strides, and it doesn't work well for me.  The first few minutes of hard running are always really tough for me, so I prefer to get them out of the way before the race.

Then I lined up.  Holiday races are always packed with people who go out like idiots, so I seeded myself a bit further back than I normally would, so that I'd start the race with people who (in going out too fast) would be running my pace).

The race start was a bit odd - at 8:59 the airhorn sounded.  No advance warning or announcement, it just went off.  Everyone flinched, then looked at each other and shrugged.  Nobody actually crossed the starting line (that I could see).   At 9:00 am the airhorn went off again, and this time we started.  I'm still not sure what was going on - whether the first airhorn was a mistake, or whether we were supposed to start but nobody did.

But anyways, we were off.  I ran this race with my watch blanked like always, so my pacing strategy was based on feel - be patient for the first half mile, then start moving up, but try to stay relaxed throughout.  Patience was necessary in the first half mile, as people surged and faltered and surged and swerved.  All part of the Turkey Trot experience, I guess.  I dodged runners carefully - the last thing I wanted to do was to twist my ankle before CIM.

After a few hundred meters, the worst of the logjam cleared, and it was smooth sailing.  Too smooth, in fact - I had a distinct feeling of a) not working that hard but b) not being able to find the next gear.  That's normal for me when I'm in marathon training -and while some of it may be physiological, I think more of it is mental - I'm just not used to the 5K flavor of hurt, and so I can't go there.  And it's compounded by the fact that my goal marathon is so close that it's hard to care about a 5K.  And if I don't care about the 5K, then I have no appetite for 5K effort.


This course has been changed slightly from the last time I ran it, and so it was difficult during the middle section to know how far I was from the finish.  Especially since mile marker two was missing.  Fortunately, almost all of the last mile of the race is on Pennsylvania Avenue, and so once we turned there, I could see the finish and measure my energy.   Additionally, I know the route well enough to know that:

  • 12th Street - the finish
  • 11th Street - 3 mile mark
  • 9th Street - 400m to go
  • 6th Street - 800m to go
  • 3rd Street - 1200m to go.  
So, really the last mile of this course is like a track race.

I ran this race with my watchface blanked as always, and so I didn't know my time until I approached the finish.  I was pleasantly surprised to see it counting up from 19:1x.  I kicked and kicked, and when I finished and hit "stop" my watch read 19:19. Unfortunately the official race time is 19:20 - a slight bummer, but the difference between 19:19 and 19:20 is nowhere near as painful as the difference between 19:59 and 20:00.  Especially when neither would have been a PR, and both are significantly faster than I expected to run.  Appreciate what you have.

Splits were:
Mile 1: 6:20
Miles 2-3: 12:21
last bit: 0:38 (5:48 pace).

Other notes:

  • I ended up second masters female, to a local woman I wasn't familiar with who ran just over 19:00.  For a bit I thought this might be another case of bib-swapping - a good news/bad news thing.  Then I confirmed that she was legit - she just mainly does triathlons, not road races.  No cheating here, and I was second.  So that was good news/bad news too.
  • Weather was high 40s and overcast, perfect!
  • Debated on whether to wear my marathon shoes (Adios Boost) or my preferred short distance shoe (Takumi Sen).  Decided to play it safe and race with the Adios - it's still a very fast shoe that many people use for 5Ks.  And racing a 5K 10 days before a marathon is risky enough without compounding it by wearing flats you haven't worn since May.
  • Ended up a bit tight chested in the morning, so had to use my rescue inhaler pre-race.  My guess is that this is because I didn't get a good puff of my Advair this morning (I was interrupted mid-puff this morning by a cat litter box altercation, and that's all you need to know).
  • Had an expresso GU in the morning pre-race, plus some shot blocks (Tropical Punch).  Yummy in that runner way.  GU really does have the coffee flavors down.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Training log - Week ending 11/20/16

This week was 58 miles of running, 28 "miles" of pool-running and 2000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

This is another abbreviated entry, since life's still pretty busy, and will remain so through this week. The good news is that my workouts have been going great - hopefully an indication we've hit just the right balance of stress and recovery here.

Of course, I still have two more weeks of trying to hit that balance of doing not too little but not too much.  It's an art as much as a science - listening to your body while also keeping it chained.

This coming week is a bit of a departure from my norm for taper.  I'll be out of town for my normal Tuesday workout, in a location where I'm really not going to be able to do any type of fast running.  And the Friday tempo is cancelled due to the holiday.  So I'll be racing a 5K Turkey Trot to get my legs turning over.

(and no, I'm not "tempoing it" - I know that there's no way I can show up for a 5K and then hold myself back enough to honestly call it a tempo.  And I hate it when people show up for a 5K, race-it-but-don't-really-race-it, and then declare it a "tempo" afterwards.)

Racing a 5K 11 days before a marathon is not the greatest decision.  But it's not a horrible decision either, if done thoughtfully and with enough recovery.  Which is the theme of this multiple-marathon experiment anyway.  So what the heck.

(I really should get a tattoo of "this wasn't a good idea, but wasn't a bad idea either" - it would work on multiple levels.)


Monday: Foam rolling and 7.5 "miles" pool-running in the morning; 4 "miles" pool-running at night.

Tuesday: 10.5 miles, including 6x800 in 3:07, 3:03, 2:57, 3:00, 3:00, 2:52.  Followed with injury prevention work and 1000 yards recovery swimming.

Wednesday: 4 miles easy (9:14) to yoga, then yoga.  Later did 7.5 miles easy (8:48).  2 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling in the afternoon.

Thursday: 8.5 "miles" pool-running and upper body weights/core in the morning.  3 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling at night

Friday: 10 miles, including a 4 mile tempo on the track in 25:57 (6:40/6:33/6:29/6:15); followed by injury prevention work and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday: 10 miles easy (9:22), plus upper body weights. 3 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling in the afternoon.

Sunday: 16 miles, split as progression of first 5 miles at 9:21; next 5 at 7:45; last 6 at 7:02.  Followed with 500 yards of recovery swimming.  Sports massage in afternoon.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Training log - Week ending 11/13/16

This week was 63.5 miles of running, 29 "miles" of pool-running and 2000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

Work is busy the next few days, so not much time to make an entry here.  Except to note that I am now in taper (again).  And that the symmetric splits for Friday's tempo crack me up (6:36/6:26/6:16).

(and yes, I did do the math and kick very hard in the last 200m to come under 20.  Unquestionably that was a questionable decision.  But fun.)


Monday: yoga and 7 "miles" pool-running; 4 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling at night.

Tuesday: 11 miles, including 6x800 in 3:01, 2:59, 2:56, 2:55, 2:54, 2:52.  Followed with injury prevention work and 1000 yards of swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 5.5 miles very easy (9:25) to yoga, yoga, and then another 5.5 very easy (9:01).  3 "miles" pool-running and a sports massage at night.

Thursday:  Upper body weights and core and 10 "miles" pool-running  in the morning.  2 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling at night

Friday: 10 miles, including a 5K tempo in 19:59 (6:36/6:26/6:16/0:41).  Followed with injury prevention work and 700 yards of swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday: 10 miles very easy (9:52) plus drills and strides and upper body weights and core.  2 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling at night.

Sunday: 21 miles, split as first 7 averaging 9:00, next 7 at 7:38, last 7 at 6:54.  Followed with 1 "mile" of pool-running (chatting with friends) and 300 yards of recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Training log - Week ending 11/6/16

This week was 59 miles of running, 24 "miles" of pool-running and 2000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

I'm back of the swing of things this week.  And it's very familiar but also strange.

The "4-3-2-1" workout I did on Sunday was simultaneously easy and challenging.  Since I ran marathon pace for a bit over 26 miles not too long ago, I subconsciously have this naive expectation that any shorter distance I run at marathon pace - for example, 4 miles - should feel as effortless as the first few miles did at Chicago.  So when I started the workout, and realized that I was actually having to work a bit, it was a bit of a surprise.  It shouldn't have been a surprise, but it was.

But once I accepted the fact that marathon training requires one to buckle down and do work, it was fine.  Almost easy, in fact.  It wasn't terribly hard, it just wasn't effortless.   The paces I ran were slightly faster than what I held for this workout during the Chicago cycle, but my heart rate was exactly where it should be for marathon pace - I think the faster pace can be attributed to the 25 degree drop in temperature between then and now.

The other challenge of the past week was trying not to do too much.  It's the same battle I think most marathoners face when tapering - you're trying to do just enough to maintain your fitness, without overdoing it from a fear of losing fitness and sabotaging your race.

It's hard to ride that fine line for a 3 week taper.  It's harder to ride that fine line for 8 weeks between marathons, when the temptation is to pile everything on and rack up as many miles and hard workouts as you can in that short time between races.  So far, I think I'm hitting the right balance of doing enough but not too much.  But it's tricky, to say the least.


Monday: yoga and 7 "miles" pool-running; 3 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling at night.

Tuesday: 11 miles, including 4x1200 in 4:43, 4:39, 4:40, 4:38.  Followed with injury prevention work and 750 yards of swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 10 miles very easy (8:56) plus upper body weights.  4 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling at night.

Thursday: 9 "miles" pool-running  in the morning.  Foam rolling at night

Friday: 11 miles, including a workout of 3200, 1600 in 12:37 (6:28/6:09) and 6:07.  Followed with injury prevention work and 850 yards of swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday: 10 miles very easy (9:15) plus drills and strides and upper body weights.  3 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling at night.

Sunday: 17 miles, including a workout of 4, 3, 2, and 1 miles at marathon pace, with 1 mile easy in between. Splits were:
4 mile in 28:08 (7:06/7:01/7:02/6:59 - average pace 7:02)
3 mile in 20:57 (7:01/6:58/6:58 - average pace 6:59)
2 mile in 13:59 (6:59/7:00- average pace 7:00)
1 mile in 6:41
450 yards of recovery swimming and foam rolling in afternoon.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Training log - Week ending 10/30/16

This week was 55.5 miles of running, 16 "miles" of pool-running,and 1000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

I'm not sure whether this was a recovery week or a training week.  Basically a hybrid.  My very short training cycle for CIM officially started with a 14 mile progressive run on Saturday.  However, my coach and I decided that I could do an abbreviated workout on Tuesday to ease back into things.  So I showed up for 4x800 - which is also traditionally the final pre-marathon workout for my team.  Lovely symmetry there.

The 4x800 was a nice surprise - the first rep was the toughest and also by far the slowest, as I shed cardio cobwebs.  But then each one felt a bit better, and the fourth felt the easiest and best.  I was tempted for a second to ask if I could finish the workout with two more.  And then I reminded myself that we're walking a training tightrope right now, and too much is worse than too little.

As part of easing back into things, I skipped tempo on Friday, and then did my "long run" of 14 miles on Saturday, so I could cheer on Sunday at the Marine Corps Marathon.  The 14 miler went well also - the 5 miles at marathon pace were mentally hard, but not physically challenging.  I did run them slightly faster than what I targeted during my marathon pace work for Chicago.  But, it's also about 20 degrees cooler than it was when I trained for Chicago this summer, and so the effort was less, and my heart rate stayed in the lower end of my "marathon heart rate" range.

Two weeks of marathon training starts this week, with a 17 miler "4-3-2-1" workout on Sunday, and then my first (and last) 21-miler next Sunday.  Then I taper (again).


Monday: Upper body weights and 8.5 "miles" pool-running in the morning.  3 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling at night.

Tuesday: 10.5 miles, including an abbreviated track workout of 4x800 in 3:09, 2:59, 2:57, 2:56.  Followed with injury prevention work and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 4.5 miles easy to yoga (9:23), yoga, and then 5.5 miles very easy (8:54), followed by drills and strides.  Sports massage at night.

Thursday: Yoga and 7.5 "miles" pool-running in the morning.  3 "miles" pool-running in the afternoon.

Friday: 10 miles very easy (8:51) plus drills and 2 hill sprints, followed by upper body weights and core.  2 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling at night.

Saturday: 14 miles progressive split as the first 5 at 9:26, next 4 at 7:45, final 5 at 7:01.  Followed with injury prevention work and 1500 yards recovery swimming, plus foam rolling.

Sunday: 11 miles very easy (9:29) plus lotsa standing and walking.  Foam rolling at night.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Training log - Week ending 10/23/16

This week was 48 miles of running, 16 "miles" of pool-running,and 1000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

Race recovery week #2, and I'm happy to say that everything feels pretty good.

The only day that I felt a bit run down was Thursday, though that might have been due to insomnia that I've been dealing with - the result of stopping my prescription antihistamines.  I decided to take Thursday very easy as a precaution anyway, just doing some very easy conversational pool-running with the belt.  My reasoning was that especially in the first two weeks post-marathon, one should err on the side of more rest.  Especially since I'm trying for a quick turn-around and a second marathon, which won't be successful unless I'm fully recovered and fresh from the first.

Maybe an overreaction, maybe not, but I felt really good the rest of the week, so I think it was the right choice.  A very easy day at the right time can make all the difference.   I had a "long run" of 12 scheduled for this weekend, which I ended up spontaneously running on Saturday, since that's the distance my friends/teammates were running that day.  I was surprised at how good my energy levels felt.

 (I'm normally a Sunday-long-run type.  The Saturday/Sunday long run divide is similar to the toilet roll on top/underneath split -  there's not that much practical difference between the two positions, but each has strong and heartfelt advocates.  For me, the Sunday long run just makes sense.  Like toilet paper rolling from underneath.)

This coming week, I'll ease my way back into training, with a shortened track workout and a long run of 14 (on Saturday, again, so I can cheer at the Marine Corps Marathon on Sunday)  Then the world's shortest training cycle (one 17 miler, one 21 miler) before tapering again.


Monday: Upper body weights and 7.5 "miles" pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday: 4.5 miles easy (9:14) to yoga, yoga, and then 3.5 miles easy home (9:01).  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 5 miles easy to yoga (9:38), yoga, and then 4 miles very easy home (8:57), followed by drills and strides.  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday: 7 "miles" of very gentle pool-running with a belt. Foam rolling at night

Friday: Yoga and then 9 miles very easy (8:59) plus drills and strides.  1000 yards of very easy swimming and foam rolling at night.

Saturday: 12 miles aerobic (7:57) followed by upper body weights.  1.5 miles pool-running and foam rolling in the afternoon.

Sunday: 10 miles very easy (9:29) plus drills and strides and a yoga class.  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Training log - Week ending 10/16/16

This week was 21 miles of running and 17 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

Race recovery week.  I followed what's become my normal post-marathon week plan.  Start with very easy pool-running with the belt, then add in yoga.  When I'm able to hold all the yoga poses, especially the one-legged balance poses, without being especially shaky, then I'm ready to introduce easy running again.

The first run was a bit achy and sore, and that seems to be the case whether I wait three days post-marathon or ten (I've done both).  But my legs improved rapidly, and Sunday's 10 miles felt surprisingly good - I could have gone further, though it would have made no sense to do so.

So, recovery's in progress and I'm already thinking to the next race.  In this case, it's actually fairly soon.   I may be running the California International Marathon in early December.

Why would I do such a uncharacteristic thing?  Because I'm entered (entered way back in March), because I've always wanted to run this race, because I'm curious to see how my quads handle the net downhill course, and because I know quite a few people on the west coast who are running it this year.  

I have no delusions about this being a great idea that will advance and improve my running.  But it's not a horribly stupid idea, if executed carefully and correctly.  And it will be fun.  Which is why I do this, after all.

There is some risk, of course - there are good reasons - injury and overtraining - why people space their marathons well apart.  But to my mind the risk comes not from running two marathons in eight weeks, but from training too much between the two, and short-changing recovery from the first.   That's not my plan.  Though I will be racing CIM (not just jogging or pacing a friend), I'm not running this marathon in hopes of bettering my Chicago time, and am not going to crash-train with the intent of improving fitness between now and then.

I'm not saying it would be impossible for me to run faster than Chicago - CIM is a very fast course, and I should be off of my allergy meds by then - meaning more energy and hopefully less water stops.  But if the best prep for running a fast marathon was racing another marathon all out two months before, everyone would do it.  Additionally, Chicago was a great weather day on a very fast course and I felt really good during taper and I paced my race well. It's greedy to hope that the stars will align twice, and there's really no errors that I made during Chicago that I could fix for round 2.   So running faster might happen, but most likely won't, and isn't the goal here. 

My plan is to first recover fully from Chicago with several weeks of easy mileage - the same as always.  The same as if CIM wasn't in the forecast.  If I'm still feeling good mentally and physically then we'll do just enough training to preserve what fitness I may carry over.  Most likely one 18-20 miler, a tune-up race, and go.  And if any injuries pop up or if I feel fried or if the weather forecast looks abysmal 5 days out, I'll DNS.  No big deal - I already got to enjoy a great marathon this fall.  The hotel can be cancelled until noon the day before and my flights are on Southwest, so the tickets can be used for another trip without penalty.

We shall see.


Monday: 5 "miles" pool-running with the belt (just gently waving my legs in the water and chatting - no real effort here)

Tuesday: Yoga.

Wednesday: 4 "miles" pool-running and some very light injury prevention work in the gym.  Massage (much needed and appreciated) at night.

Thursday: 8 "miles" of pool-running plus yoga. Foam rolling at night

Friday: 5 miles (9:28) - basically warmed up with my teammates for 3 miles, watched the workout, and then cooled down for another 2 miles.  Also some light upper body weights and foam rolling.

Saturday: 6 miles easy (8:51) plus foam rolling..

Sunday: 10 miles very easy (8:41) plus a yoga class.  Foam rolling at night.