Sunday, March 11, 2018

Training log - Week ending 3/11/2018

This week was 52 miles of running, 30 "miles" of pool-running, and 2000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

This was my penultimate week of spring marathon training.  Only two workouts this week - a 25x400m and 2x5 miles at marathon pace.

Doing the 25x400 this week was unexpected.  My (mis-)understanding was that we weren't going to do this workout this cycle, since I was also doing 2x5 miles at marathon pace and was trying to extend my Houston cycle all the way to Boston.   Unfortunately, since I thought I was doing a different, far easier workout on Wednesday morning, I did too many miles on Tuesday (I would have stuck to 7 miles or so, had I known).  

Due to the extra mileage and more general worries about overreaching, I limited the pace on this workout.  It's supposed to be run as twenty-five 400m repeats at 10K pace (6:16, so around 1:33-34 per 400m) with a 100m float in 30 seconds (8:00 pace).  But instead I started more slowly, around 1:38-39 seconds, and then brought it down to 1:35s for a while before getting closer to my 10K pace near the end.  I ended up averaging 6:22 pace for the fast parts - 39:36 for the "10K."  So much closer to my 10 miler pace (6:24) than my 10K pace.

It was interesting how pulling back just a few seconds per lap made a world of difference in the workout.  What is generally a very tough "dig deep" type workout instead became long but not extremely draining.  The overall effort felt much more like a marathon pace workout than a tempo - I could have kept going for a good while longer.

Since I didn't push the workout hard enough to go to the well or stay at my lactate threshold, one could argue that I missed the point of the workout.  I agree, however I thought it was more important not to dig a hole, which I believe I would have done had I tried to force this one.  First rule of training - better too little than too much, especially when you're riding that fine line where you're feeling really good and really fit after a long stretch of training with your goal race still 5 weeks away.

Saturday was another edition of the 2x5 at marathon pace.  Since the Rock N Roll Marathon had much of DC shut down, I did loops of Hains Point, which meant a tailwind for part of the workout and a headwind for other miles.  Despite the shifting wind, I mostly held pretty even splits of 6:45-8 - near the bottom of my prescribed range of 6:45-7:00 (the last mile was a bit too fast due to overcompensating for a headwind).

The nice thing was that high 6:4x pace felt very doable and rhythmic.  My legs got a bit tired at the end, but I could have continued on after the second repeat.  And while doing 26 miles at that pace didn't feel doable yesterday, I think I could have done 10 straight without much issue.  26 miles is why we taper.

High 6:4x pace translates to a 2:58 marathon, which I think I'm in shape to run IF I 1) had a perfect Chicago-type course with 2) perfect weather and 3) executed well.  

Of course, I'm running Boston, so the first point is a miss, and the second point has a low probability.  But, I think that if the weather's not awful there and I pace the race well, I have a good shot of something between 3:00 and 3:05.  We shall see, I guess.

One more week of training, including my last 20+ miler, and then I taper for my tune-up half-marathon and the Boston full.


Monday: 9 "miles" of pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday7.5 miles very easy to the gym (8:54), upper body weights, core, and DIY yoga, and then 3.5 miles very easy home (8:36) plus drills and four strides.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 13 miles, including a workout of 25x400m with 100m recovery - averaged 95 seconds for the 400s and 30 seconds for the recovery jogs; the "10K" less the recovery jogs was 39:36.  Followed with light injury prevention work and 1400 yards recovery swimming  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday:  Yoga and then 9 "miles" of pool-running in the morning; f
oam rolling at night.

Friday: 7.5 miles very easy to the gym (8:53), light upper body weights, core, and DIY yoga, and then 3.5 miles very easy home (8:42) plus drills and four strides.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:  17 miles, including 2x5 miles at marathon pace with one mile easy in between  Splits were 
33:56 (6:51/6:47/6:45/6:47/6:46 - average pace 6:47) and 33:34 (6:44/6:45/6:46/6:44/6:35 - average pace 6:43).  Followed with light injury prevention work, 600 yards recovery swimming, and 2 "miles" pool-running. Foam rolling in evening.

Sunday:  10 "miles" pool-running, followed by foam rolling.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Training log - Week ending 3/4/18

This week was 76 miles of running, 10 "miles" of pool-running, and 3000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

My land mileage was artificially inflated this week since I only took one day in the pool during this 7 day period.  So a mileage bump on paper, but not in reality - I'm still averaging around 60 miles +20 in the pool each week.

This week, I felt like I had finally adjusted to the bump up in mileage.  I felt good and energetic, and had to work hard to try not to run too hard (I didn't always succeed - note the last 800 on Tuesday, and I also let Saturday's easy run get a little too fast - mea culpa).

We did have some freakish weather come through late in the week - high winds akin to what one would see with a blizzard or tropical storm (60-70 mph gusts), less the precipitation.  The area ended up shutting down, which I think was the right choice, based on the destruction I saw.  If nothing else, shutting down schools and the federal government meant less people getting into accidents and clogging roads, making it easier for emergency personnel and utility workers to do their thing.  

My coach cancelled our Friday morning workout as well, advising us to try to do it on Thursday night instead.  That wasn't an option, so I relocated to my old friend, under the Whitehurst freeway, on Friday morning.  (and yes, this means that I was one of the idiots on the road on Friday morning.)
Under the Whitehurst, facing west.  Image from Google.

This route has buildings and hills to the north (on your right in the image), and thus is very sheltered from wind in that direction.  It's somewhat sheltered from the west and east, and totally exposed from the south.  Since the windstorm was howling from the northwest, I thought this might work.  If nothing else, it was worth a try - the buildings/elevated highways/lack of trees made this the only safe option for running outside that day.  

[my backup options were a) to tempo in the pool, if it wasn't shut down or b) take a rest day.  I have no objections in general to running on a treadmill, but I haven't run on one myself in years, and jumping on one for a workout seemed like an unnecessary injury risk.]

I arrived (parking my car very mindfully in a sheltered location), and confirmed during my warm-up that this was safe and doable.  No blowing debris, and much of the wind was blocked.  An occasional gust would sneak between buildings and lift me off my feet, which was kinda fun.  But in general it was slightly less windy than some epic races I've done on Hains Point or at Virginia Beach.

So I tempoed there, ping-ponging between a boathouse on one end and the intersection with Wisconsin Avenue on the other.  

There's no way to be sure exactly how far I ran - GPS doesn't work there and mapping is also not helpful, since you take a different path each loop (dodging cars, pedestrians, etc).  I know that each back-and-forth loop is around .8 of a mile, so 5 loops equaled approximately 4 miles by my math.  My footpod (I used this opportunity to test it) claimed 4.07 miles in 26:11 - 6:26 pace - which seems about right.  

Not that the exact distance or pace matters anyway.  I got in about 4 miles at the right effort level and felt good and didn't get hit by a tree branch or a flying trash can, so I called it good.

By Sunday most of the wind was gone.  It was still windy, but seemed calm in comparison to Friday.  Despite the gusty conditions, my long run (21 progressive) was a near carbon copy of that from two weeks ago, especially in the splits for the second and third portions.  Two key differences - an extra bathroom break, and lots of good company.  Good people make everything better, including long runs.  I can't think of any group of people I'd rather spend three hours running with than my teammates, and that's awesome.


Monday: 5.5 very easy to yoga (9:21), yoga, and then 4.5 very easy home (8:54) plus drills and strides.  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday: 11 miles, including a track workout of 1600, 2x1200, 2x800 (6:12; 4:35, 4:30, 2:54, 2:49), followed by injury prevention work and 1500 yards of recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 8 miles very easy to yoga (9:00), yoga, and then another 4 miles (8:59) plus drills and strides.  Massage in afternoon..

Upper body weights/core and 10 "miles" pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday: 12 miles, including a Whitehurst tempo workout of ~4 miles in 26:12.  Followed by injury prevention/leg strengthwork and 1000 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:  10 miles easy (8:36), followed by drills, strides, upper body strengthwork and core, and DIY yoga.  Foam rolling at night.

21 miles progressive, split as first 7 at 8:41, next 7 at 7:37, last 7 at 6:46.  Followed with light injury prevention work and then 500 yards recovery swimming. Foam rolling in evening.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Training log - Week ending 2/25/18

This week was 61 miles of running, 22 "miles" of pool-running, and 2000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

For this marathon training cycle, I'm trying to stick to what has worked best for me - reasonably high but not excessive mileage, and a substantial volume of "controlled quality."

By "controlled" quality I mean running between marathon and 8K pace, saving the faster running for when I'm focused on shorter distances. "Reasonably high" mileage means around 60-65 miles a week on land. Certainly not inadequate, but not big mileage.

Different things work for different people, with each of us needing to strike our own balance.  While some people can run very well off of high mileage, history has proven an inverse relationship between my weekly mileage and my marathon performance if I go above the 60s.  At the same time, I run better with a higher volume of quality running, as long as I don't overdo the pace of it, and make sure that I have enough "space" between each workout.

This week, "spacing" the workouts meant that I only did two workouts, intervals on Tuesday and a long run on Saturday.  While I could have squeezed in cruise intervals on Thursday, my gut told me it would be too much too close together, so I went with two hard days.  

Since I only had the two workouts, I had hoped to extend out the Tuesday workout, maxing out the allowed reps.  That got nixed when I accidentally ran the first 2000m rep too fast, due to misunderstanding my coach's instructions (he told me to "group up" - I thought he meant to catch up with the group ahead, when he meant I should join the group behind).  I hit the brakes for the 800s, but the damage was already done, and my coach shut me down after four 800s.  I wasn't happy, but on reflection it was the right call.

Saturday's workout was 2x5 miles at marathon pace - a modification of our normal 4-3-2-1 miles at marathon pace workout.  When mapping out my training cycle for this spring, I had asked my coach if we could try the 2x5.  My reasoning was that it was the same volume of marathon-paced work (10 miles total), but fewer longer reps gave me more time to actually lock into and feel marathon pace.   When I do the 4-3-2-1, it feels like I'm never running at marathon pace for very long.  Additionally, since the duration of each rep is short, it becomes very easy to run the workout too hard, even if I'm trying not too.  Doing two segments of five miles encouraged me to find an honest and not overly optimistic rhythm.

(also, I've done the 4-3-2-1 workout for years now, and while I like it, I'm also bored with it).

Having never done the 2x5, I went into it with caution.  As it turned out, it was surprisingly easy  - it felt as easy or easier than the 4-3-2-1.  The first five was really just a one mile extension of the normal four at marathon pace.  And then the second five felt just like the controlled conclusion of a progression long run.  Had I needed to, I could have continued on longer.  All good signs, I guess.

Normally, the 4-3-2-1 workout would be proceeded by a "25x400m" workout on Wednesday (twenty-five 400m repeats at 10K pace with 100m float).  When discussing the 2x5, my coach had cautioned that he thought doing both the 25x400m and the 2x5 in the same week would be excessive.  

As I thought about it more, I also realized that the 25x400m is a grueling lactate threshold (LT) workout.  While I normally thrive on LT workouts, I entered this short marathon training cycle off of a half-marathon cycle that was focused heavily on lactate threshold - I really don't need to be hammering at that system more right now.  My sense is that the tempo workouts that precede each 20-22 mile long run are more than sufficient for LT work for me for this cycle.  So it was an easy decision to skip the 25x400s this spring.

I only have three weeks left before I start to taper.  This cycle has gone by surprisingly fast.


Monday: 5.5 very easy to yoga (9:29), yoga, and then 4.5 very easy home (9:05).  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday: 12 miles, including a track workout of 2000m, 4x800m in 7:32, 3:04, 3:03, 3:03, 3:04.  Also injury prevention work and 1400 yards recovery swimming. Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 10 miles very easy (9:24) to the gym, upper body weights/core, and then another 2 miles very easy (9:21).  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday:  Yoga and then 8.5 "miles" of pool-running in the morning; 4.5 "miles" of pool-running and f
oam rolling at night.

Friday: 7.5 miles very easy to the gym (9:13), light upper body weights, core, and DIY yoga, and then 3.5 miles very easy home (8:47) plus drills and four strides.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:  16 miles, including 2x5 miles at marathon pace with one mile easy in between  Splits were 
34:14 (6:55/6:56/6:48/6:50/6:45 - 6:51 average) and 33:55 (6:48/6:50/6:48/6:45/6:44 - 6:47 average).  Followed with 600 yards recovery swimming. Foam rolling in evening.

Sunday:  9 "miles" pool-running, followed by foam rolling.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Training log - Week ending 2/18/18

This week was 62 miles of running, 19 "miles" of pool-running, and 3000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

This week had some ups and downs.  I had some fatigue on Tuesday (not surprising, since I had done a hard workout that weekend) and my breathing felt slightly tight.  Then Thursday's tempo was at the correct effort, but a pace about 10-15 seconds slower than I would expect.  

At first I thought the slow tempo was due to a combo of fatigue and being overdressed for unseasonably warm weather.  And then I thought some more and realized that I had been coughing a lot post-workout, and gave the asthma doctor a call.  A quick check of my breathing confirmed that values were low and my asthma was starting to flare again - apparently I didn't rest enough after getting sick last week.  Or perhaps I just would have flared anyway.

Asthma flares are like injuries - running on them just makes them worse.  But they're unlike running injuries in that rest does nothing to ease them, once you're flaring.   The only way to calm a flare is with medication, and the longer you delay hitting the meds, the more meds you need to take.

So onto another dose of prednisone.  Not what I wanted at all, but it was what it was.  At least this time we tried half my normal dose to see if that would be sufficient since I caught this one early - the less prednisone I take, the better.

My long run went very well on Saturday, though it's hard to know how much was improved breathing versus prednisone assistance.  I guess the test will be this coming week.

It's worth noting that the paces on Saturday's long run are also slightly misleading - my first 7 miles were on mild rolling hills, and then the second 7 were flat to uphill, followed by 2 miles uphill at marathon effort (7:00-ish) and 5 miles downhill at marathon effort (6:40-ish).  

So that marathon pace segment was definitely assisted, and not necessarily a good indicator of my fitness.  But it did achieve my goal of doing some MP work going uphill and then a lot of MP work downhill.  My quads were definitely a bit sore the next morning, which was exactly what I wanted - a bit of quad proofing for Boston.


Monday: 7.5 very easy to yoga (9:28), yoga, and then 1.5 very easy home (9:16) plus drills and strides.  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday: 11 miles, including a track workout of 800, 2x1600, 800 (3:05, 6:17, 6:09, 2:57), followed by injury prevention work and 1250 yards of recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 10 "miles" pool-running and upper body weights/core.  Massage in afternoon..

 11 miles, including a tempo workout of 4 miles in 26:37 (6:39/6:42/6:41/6:36).  Followed with 1250 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday: 10 miles very easy (9:19) plus drills and strides.  Later DIY yoga and foam rolling.

Saturday:  21 miles progressive, split as first 7 at 9:00, next 7 at 7:36, last 7 at 6:45.  F
ollowed with light injury prevention work and then 500 yards recovery swimming. Foam rolling in evening.

Sunday:  14 "miles" pool-running, followed by yoga and foam rolling.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Training log - Week ending 2/11/2018

This week was 39 miles of running, 34 "miles" of pool-running, and 2000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

Last week, I noted my fatigue from ramping up my miles.  As it turned out, a few hours after I posted that entry, my throat started hurting, and by the time I went to bed, I felt lousy.  Awful sore throat (I'm a baby about those), sinus pain, and ridiculously tired.

Yup, sick.  Nothing so dramatic as the flu; just a bad head cold.  But still of concern, since head colds often result in asthma flares.  And once my asthma flares, the only way to get it under control is with a few days of prednisone.  Prednisone is very bad for bone density, even when only taken for a few days at a high dose.  And I already have very poor bone density, hovering on the border between osteopenia and osteoporosis. 

The rule of thumb is that it's ok to run with a head cold if the symptoms are above the chest, and that's what I've always done.  But the last few times I've done that, I've ended up with an asthma flare.  So I took a different tack this time - sticking with complete bed rest or easy pool-running (timing it so that I was by myself and not exposing others) until I was no longer symptomatic.

My reasoning was that asthma is an exaggerated response by the body's immune system to stress.  Asthma flares result from viral infections because the virus triggers an immune response, and that immune response then continues to rage out of control long after the virus is gone.  So....if I could just minimize all stress on my body, perhaps my immune system would settle when the head cold eased, and not take the additional step into asthma.

And, it apparently worked.  No asthma flare.    So yay.  Disappointing in a way, because it means that I really can't run through a head cold, not even easy running.  But that's a small sacrifice if it means I avoid an asthma flare.

This was supposed to be a high mileage week - one of my peak weeks of training in a short marathon cycle.  But due to the head cold/rest my mileage ended up being pretty low.  I can't believe that it will make that much difference to my marathon in the end, as long as I don't have more weeks like this.   I'm prioritizing marathon pace specific work over mileage this cycle, and so the marathon pace workout this weekend was much more important to me than the daily mileage average.  And that went well despite a lingering bit of fatigue, so yay.


Monday: Sick.  Just foam rolling

Tuesday: 9 "miles" pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 3.5 miles very easy (9:18) to yoga, yoga, and then another 8.5 miles very easy  (8:56) plus drills and strides.  Foam rolling at night.

 11 miles, including a workout of 2 miles, 1 mile in 13:03 (6:32/6:31) and 6:22 with a half-mile recovery.  Followed with 1500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday: Upper body weights/core and 11 "miles" of pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:  17 miles, including a "4-3-2-1" workout (sections of 4, 3, 2, and 1 miles at marathon pace with one mile easy between each).  Splits were:

4 mile: 27:15 (6:50/6:48/6:50/6:47 - 6:49 pace);
3 mile: 20:22 (6:49/6:48/6:45 - 6:47 pace)
2 mile: 13:33 (6:48/6:45 - 6:47 pace)
1 mile: 6:45

followed with light injury prevention work and then 500 yards recovery swimming. Foam rolling in evening.

Sunday:  14 "miles" pool-running, followed by yoga and foam rolling.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Training log - Week ending 2/4/18

This week was 37 miles of running, 34 "miles" of pool-running, and 2000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

This was the second week of marathon training.  I'm a bit tired despite the moderate mileage reduction in the middle of the week, and the substitution of pool-running for land-running mileage.  

I find this to be the toughest part of marathon training.  Not the tired part, but rather the judgment call about when feeling tired is acceptable, and when it's a warning sign.  When to back off and when to push through.  

Recovery is my biggest challenge as a runner - I can't train myself into exhaustion and then bounce back with a 3 week taper as others seem able to do, so I have to be mindful.  At the same time, marathon training does mean periods of being tired - especially at the beginning at the cycle (adjusting to the new load) and at the end, when I'm ready to taper.  

My general rule of thumb is that I'm OK as long as I'm not grouchy, struggling to concentrate, or having difficulty falling asleep.  Right now, none of those apply, so I'll hold the course.  If any of those do pop up, then it's time to back way off for a day or two.


In other news, just because I get a kick out of it, here's a video of our blind cat, Topaz, playing fetch.  Completely non-running related, but my blog, my rules.


Monday: Yoga and 8.5 "miles" pool-running; foam rolling at night..

Tuesday: 12 miles, including 3200 in 12:50 (6:28/6:22) and then 4x800 all in 3:02.  Followed with injury prevention work and 1000 yards of recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 7 miles very easy (9:47) followed by drills and strides and DIY yoga.  90 minute deep tissue/sports massage at night.

 Upper body weights and core plus 9 "miles" pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday4 miles (9:02) followed by DIY yoga  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday: 3 mile warm-up, and then 10K race in 40:36. 5 mile cooldown and then 1000 yards recovery swimming. Foam rolling in evening.

Sunday:  16.5 "miles" pool-running, followed by foam rolling.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Race Report: For the Love of It 10K, February 3, 2018

I ran the "For the Love of It" 10K this morning, finishing in 40:36, which was good enough for fourth woman overall.

I ran this race simply to ensure I had another race in between the Houston Half and my next planned race - the Love Run Half in Philly in late March (which will be a tune-up for the Boston Marathon).  Some people can go several months without racing and be just fine - I'm not one of them. 

I've found that I perform my best when I'm racing at least once a month: the more I race, the sharper I get.  And conversely, the longer I go between races, the harder it is to sharpen up again. I can be very fit, but not sharp, and underperform.

This is why, when I'm focusing on shorter distances, I'll do a block of training to get fit and then "coast" by spending 8-10 or more weeks mostly racing and recovering, with a few controlled interval workouts filling the gaps.  If we do this right, I improve a bit each race, and run my best performances at the end, right before I start feeling a bit fried (at which point I call it a season). 

Of course, this practice doesn't work so well for marathon training - I can't race frequently AND put in the volume of training that a marathon requires without overtraining or getting injured.  So marathon training mandates a 7-8 week period where I don't race and just put in the work.  Today was solely to squeeze in one more race before entering the heaviest part of my marathon training, which starts on Monday.  So that the gap between races would be be 7 weeks rather than 10.

Ideally, I would have raced a 5K on Saturday and then done easy paced mileage on Sunday, but I couldn't find any 5Ks that were appealing (appealing in this context means local, held on asphalt, and not a fun run).  However, the For the Love of It 10K did meet my criteria, so what the heck.  It would be a moderately hilly race, but that was a plus, since I'm training for a hilly marathon.


Race morning dawned cold - it was 14 degrees at race start, though at least it was sunny with little wind.  Another small mercy was that packet pickup was inside the high school hosting the race.

I warmed up with three miles, including about a quarter mile at a harder pace, plus some drills and strides that I continued all the way until 2 minutes before race start.  Then I lined up near my teammates Jenn and Matt.  At 8:02 (so two minutes late, and an uncomfortable two minutes at that), the race started.

Because of the bright sunshine, I was wearing sunglasses.  As if on cue, when the horn sounded, my glasses fogged up, rendering the first 15 seconds of this race even sketchier than race starts normally are. I pushed my sunglasses up onto my forehead where they would reside for the rest of the race, and then I could see. 

As the race sorted itself in the first half mile, I found myself behind a pack of around 8 women and men, with Jenn and another pack about 10 seconds ahead.  I tucked in and reminded myself to stay patient during the first two miles before opening up.  Over those next two miles, my pack fell apart, and I found myself alone.   I tried to keep the pack ahead of me in sight, and even to reel them in, but my legs had no spark, and soon they hit a downhill when I hit an uphill, and I lost contact. 

From there it was a lonely race - I had nobody ahead to pull me, and nobody near to drive me, and my legs were leaden.  This was both tough and fantastic.   Frequent racing means frequent practice in handling mentally challenging situations, and being totally alone at mile 4.5 of a 10K with a decent uphill ahead fit the bill.

So I dug in and toughed it out.  It wasn't pretty, but I got it done.  The last .21 of the race was on the local HS track, and so I tried to kick in my finish as if I was running a hard 400 on the track.  No dice - the legs had nothing to give.  I saw the clock ticking well over 40 as I finished, which was a bit annoying, but oh well. 

Because it was so cold, I set my Garmin to autolap, rather than manually lap at the mile markers (it's hard to hit the lap buttons with my mittens).  My autolap splits were:

Mile 1: 6:37
Mile 2: 6:34
Mile 3: 6:13
Mile 4: 6:15
Mile 5: 6:45
Mile 6: 6:32
last ".28" - 1:40

The Garmin read a bit longer than 10K, but I don't think the course was long.  Just a bit of satellite reception inaccuracy.

My official pace for the 10K was 6:33, which is amusing, because that's the same pace I ran at the Houston Half three weeks ago. 

I don't think this reflects a sudden massive drop in fitness, or poor race execution, or lack of effort.  Rather, I was very well rested (two week taper) for Houston, which was a fast course in great weather.  In contrast, I came into this race on tired legs due to a jump in weekly mileage, accompanied by hard workouts on Sunday and Tuesday, plus a 90 minute sports massage on Wednesday.  While I did cut back on my mileage some in the last three days pre-race, I was still far from rested - I need more than 3 days to truly freshen up.  Add the fatigue to a hilly course and frigid temperatures, and it's no surprise that I was way slower than my half-marathon would predict.  Which is fine - I didn't do this race as a fitness check. 

Despite (or more accurately, independent) of the time, I'm really glad I did this race.  A hilly 10K raced all out on tired legs was a good training stimulus for Boston, and having to tough it out at the end was exactly what I needed to keep me race sharp and confident. 

Other notes:

  • Due to the cold weather, I wore tights over compression shorts on my legs, and a running jacket over a longsleeve shirt over a sportsbra on top.  I was very comfortable for most of the race - possibly slightly warm by the end, but I was fine with that.  Throughout my Boston training this spring, I'm trying to overdress slightly for all my runs, including workouts and races, in hopes that I'll be somewhat prepped if Boston ends up on the warm side.  And the nice thing about running in multiple layers, especially on your legs, is how much faster you feel in shorts.
  • Since I didn't particularly care about this race, I decided to wear my Adidas Adios 3s, to see how I liked them at this distance.  I normally race 10K in the Adios 2.  Despite the fact that the Adios 2 and 3 are nominally sequential generations of the same shoe, I find them very different.  The Adios 2 is very firm and stiff, while the Adios 3 is far more soft and flexible.  As I suspected, I hated the Adios 3 for fast running - I felt like the softness and flexibility of the shoe was siphoning out what little bounce my legs had.  So now I know, and I won't race in them again.

    Why did I even try racing in the Adios 3 if I suspected I'd hate it?  Because it's getting harder and harder to find pairs of the Adios 2, which has been out of production for over two years at this point.  And many of my teammates love the Adios 3 for racing.  I've used the Adios 3 for easy runs and marathon pace work and always found the shoe to be a bit draining even at marathon pace, but I thought I might as well give it a solid test at a 10K I didn't really care about, to confirm whether I hated it for faster stuff.  Yup - hated it.  Won't race in it again.
  • It took me 25 minutes door-to-door to get to Southlakes HS.  Good to know if I do this race again.
  • Major kudoes to the race staff for getting out there this morning, and even maintaining a water station (!!!  did anyone drink from that thing?)  It is so much harder to stand still in these temperatures than it is to run.
  • Really good results from my teammates - Matt won the race on the men's side, and Jenn was second on the women's.  So yay!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Training log - Week ending 1/28/18

This week was 62 miles of running, 17 "miles" of pool-running, and 3000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

This was my first week of marathon training.  I felt sluggish and run down for a lot of this week, which I initially attributed to poor recovery from the Houston Half.  As I think about it more, it's also due to an uptick in land mileage this week.  My four weeks previous had been 42 miles, 53 miles, 38 miles, and 39 miles as I rested and tapered and raced and recovered.  And my only long run during those four weeks was the Houston Half.

When you look at it that way, it's no surprise that I'd feel a bit tired from bumping my mileage back up to my norm and adding in long runs again.  I didn't feel awful though, and I've been sleeping well, which are indications that this was the "good" tired - a temporary symptom of increased workload. Insomnia and difficulties focusing at work are the warning signs that I'm overdoing stuff and need to back off.

I did feel better as the week progressed, and by Sunday I felt pretty good, with a solid long run that felt very controlled.  So that was nice.


I'm targeting Boston as my spring marathon, which requires runners to wake up fairly early to catch a bus, only to wait for several hours at the start line before starting at 10 or 10:30 am.  More than one of my teammates who have run Boston have told me that they regretted not practicing the long wait/late start.  And more specifically, how to eat in preparation for a race with a 10 am start but an early bus ride.

So, I decided to learn from their example, and practice the late start.  This weekend's long run made sense to use as practice - 16 miles is long enough to test my eating plan (i.e. did I have enough energy?  Did I need to make stops mid run?), but short enough that the late start wouldn't mean committing my whole Sunday to long run and recovery.

On Sunday I woke around 5:30 to take my asthma meds and eat my "first breakfast."  I then hung around home for a while before eating "second breakfast" around 8:15 am.  Then started my long run at 10:15 am.

This worked very well from a digestive standpoint.  However, I did feel sluggish at the start of my long run, which I attribute to eating too much sugary stuff plus a bit of caffeine for my first breakfast - 4 hours was just long enough for the sugar/caffeine to wear off, resulting in a crash.  So now I know - first breakfast needs to be light on sugar and caffeine, saving that stuff for closer to race start.  I'll probably use my second 16 miler at the end of the cycle to test this out.


Monday: Yoga and 6.5 "miles" pool-running; foam rolling at night..

Tuesday: 11 miles, including 2000, 4x800 in 7:46, 3:02, 2:58, 3:00, 2:57.  Followed with injury prevention work and 1250 yards of recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 8 miles very easy (9:06) to yoga, yoga, and then 6 miles easy (9:05), followed by drills and strides.  Foam rolling at night.

 Upper body weights and core plus 10.5 "miles" pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday10 miles, including a 4 mile tempo in 25:58 (6:43/6:30/6:24/6:22).  Followed with injury prevention work and 1250 yards of recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday: 10 miles easy (8:45), followed by drills and strides, and then upper body weights and core. Foam rolling in evening.

Sunday:  16 miles progressive, split as first 5 miles averaging 8:45 pace; next 5 averaging 7:38; last 6 averaging 6:48.  Followed with injury prevention work and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Training log - Week ending 1/21/18

This week was 39 miles of running, 12 "miles" of pool-running, and 1000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.  

This was an off week, as I blended race recovery and a business trip.  I was a mess for the first few days.  I attribute this at least partially to poor recovery choices in the 24 hours after the race: margaritas in lieu of water; french fries instead of foam rolling; and aquarium tours rather than pool-running.  But, the mind needs recovery too, and slacking off on the little things for a few days was the right choice for me in the brief intermission before Boston training kicked in at the end of this week.

My trip was to Tampa - the second leg of what I dubbed "fall 2017 hurricane tour."  Similar to my experience in Houston, I didn't notice any hurricane damage.  Of course, it's been several months since the storms hit, and it's impossible to distinguish buildings boarded up from hurricane damage versus those boarded up for other reasons.

Tampa experienced a cold snap during my stay there - on Thursday morning, temperatures were in the high 20s.. Fortunately I had packed some winter running gear - I never bring running tights when I go to Tampa, but this time I had planned ahead.  The local population was in shock at the temperatures, and I don't blame them - they just weren't prepared for sub-freezing temperatures, in terms of building structures or clothing choices.

A friend of mine coined the term "cold-shaming" and I think it applies here.  Throughout this winter, everyone on the east coast or mid-west has been dealing with temperatures 20 degrees or more colder than their norm, and it's tough regardless of where you live.  

The fact that those who live in Tampa (are they properly referred to as Tampans?  Tampanians?  Tampons?) are struggling with temperatures that are normal in DC does not reflect negatively on them, any more than the DC area's shock at conditions that are normal in Minnesota reflects poorly on us.  It is truly relative - we're all handling weather that is far from our norms.


As I've discussed previously, I raced the Houston Half in the Vaporfly 4%s - it was a slight  risk, as I usually don't like to wear a shoe model for a half or full until I've done several long runs in it.  However, I had done a workout and a 5K race in the Vaporflys, and based on that experience, I decided to take the (small) chance.  Some final (for now) thoughts based on my experience with the shoe this past weekend.

  • I've now worn the Vaporfly for two races: a 5K and a half-marathon.  I liked the shoe much more in the half.  The shoe has a rocker-type action, where your foot rolls forward (I understand Hokas are like this also).  This action is more effective when your footstrike is further back, more towards the heel.  The shorter and faster the race, the more forward my footstrike, and the less I like the shoe.  In longer races, I strike further back on my foot, and the shoe feels much more natural.

    To this point, I read somewhere that Bernard Lagat was the only pacer in the Nike sub-two project who did not wear the Vaporfly - he tried it, and said that it didn't work for his stride, since he almost always lands on his forefoot.  Given my experience with the shoe, this makes a lot of sense to me.
  • As for how much the Vaporflys took off of my time in the half?  Of course there's no way to know for sure.  I don't think it was 4% - it may not have been anything.  (to be fair, the representation is not that they make you 4% faster, but 4% more efficient)

    I have a teammate who is very very similar in ability to me when we're both in shape.  I wore the Vaporflys, while she did not, and we finished the Houston Half in nearly identical times.  Had I finished significantly ahead of her, I would have suspected some assistance from the shoe.  But that wasn't the case.
  • My sense is that the Vaporfly's bounce and "energy return" properties work better the more force you apply through the shoe.  I'm not a ground pounder, but more of a skimmer - my speed comes from efficiency, not power.  My hunch is that those who run with a power stride or weigh more than I do may benefit more from this shoe than I do.
  • I tried to kick at the end of Houston, and couldn't - that matches my experience in my 5K with this shoe.  You can't change gears suddenly, you can't speed up your cadence, and you can't get up on your toes.  At the same time, the rocker action of the shoe really helped me when I was just barely hanging on in the later miles at Houston - if I could just keep my form together, the shoes kept me rolling forward.

    Conclusion: if I've made some pacing errors and am struggling late in a race, I want the Vaporfly on my feet.  If I've executed a perfect race and want to outkick someone else at the end, I'd rather be wearing the Adios or the Takumi Sen.
  • One of the big selling points of the Vaporfly is that they supposedly speed your recovery - you bounce back better from the race if you've worn these, due to all the cushioning.  That was not my experience at all - I was trashed after Houston, and my legs felt awful.  Of course, this may also be specific to me.  I do not handle cushioned shoes or soft surfaces well - 10 miles on our local towpath beats me up much more than 10 miles on asphalt.  This relates to my flimsy ankles and related stability issues.  Others, especially those who run in cushioned shoes regularly, may have the opposite experience.

    I was concerned that I would have ankle pain during or after the race because of the softness of the shoe, but it turned out to be minimal - most likely because I taped my ankles heavily pre-race.  I did have some arch/foot pain post-race, which is normal for me with cushioned shoes or soft surfaces.  Luckily that seems to have faded away this week.  But that arch/foot pain is another reason not to train in these shoes, but to save them for goal races where I can take time off afterwards.


MondayNothing except travel from Houston to Tampa.

Tuesday: Yoga in the morning, plus some self-massage with tennis ball.

Wednesday: Upper body weights/core and then 6 miles moderate (9:27) (the pace was "easy" but the effort was not).  Followed with self-massage with tennis ball.  (I really wish I had shipped myself a foam roller).

Thursday:  3 miles very easy to yoga (10:04), yoga, and then 6 miles very easy (8:47).  Travel from Tampa to DC.

Friday12 "miles" of pool-running and some blissful foam rolling.

Saturday: 10 miles very easy (8:33), followed by drills, strides, upper body weights and core.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday:  14 progressive (plus an additional half-mile diversion to a working bathroom) split as first 5 miles averaging 8:56 pace, next 5 miles averaging 7:55 pace, and last 4 miles averaging 6:51 pace.  Followed with light injury prevention work at the gym and 1000 yards of recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Training log - Week ending 1/14/18

This week was 38 miles of running and 15 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.  

This week was all over the place, literally.  I was supposed to do a track workout on Tuesday morning, but opted out after a two mile warm-up on a track that was a bit too icy for my tastes.  So I waited until the sun came up, and then relocated to my old friend, the Whitehurst Freeway, to do the workout there.  As it turned out, the Whitehurst was very foggy, with poor visibility - I'm not sure it was a better choice.  But got it done.

By Friday, the weather had tilted the other way, in the lower 60s and humid.  Just in time for me to run (too fast) a pick-up mile before flying to Houston, which was colder than DC at that time (though warmer than DC has been recently).

The race went well, which was nice.  I'm now taking a down week before jumping into Boston training.  This break is timed with a work trip to Tampa, so I don't have to worry about fitting in workouts or high mileage while here.  Very convenient.


Monday8 "miles" pool-running and DIY yoga.  Foam rolling at night

Tuesday: 2 mile warm-up part 1, then 2 mile warm-up part 2, and then a variant of 1600, 4x800 under the Whitehurst (splits were 6:06, 2:56, 2:56, 2:51, 2:52 for something close to those distances).  Followed with 2 mile cool-down.  Foam rolling at night

Wednesday: 7 miles very easy (8:51), followed by drills and strides and DIY yoga.  Massage in afternoon.

Thursday:  7 "miles" pool-running, followed by light upper body strengthwork and core, plus DIY yoga.  Foam rolling in evening.

Friday6 miles, including a pick-up mile in 6:08 (too fast, even after allowing for the fact it was downhill).  Then flew to Houston.

Saturday: Nothing save DIY yoga and a bit of tennis balling.

Sunday:  2 mile warm-up and then a half marathon in 85:43.