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.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Training log - Week ending 9/7/2014

This week was 62.5 miles of running and 6000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

This was a sort of cut-back week.  By which I mean that I took an extra rest day, but didn't otherwise reduce mileage or intensity.  Actually, I ended up running a bit more in a 4 day period from Thursday-Sunday than I usually do - Thursday is usually a very easy low mileage day for me, but I upped it some this week since I took Wednesday off.
Deja vu all over again.

As for why I took Wednesday off?  See pic.

No, nothing unexpected.  If you've been following along at home, then you know I've had multiple bouts of PRP to stimulate healing in various places (on 11/1/13, 12/17/13, and 5/1/14). 

On Tuesday afternoon I got prolotherapy in my ankle and groin to give a "booster" to the PRP stimulated healing of a small chronic tear in my right groin and the stretched out ligaments in my right ankle.  For the heck of it (that's the medical term of art) we also did some shots in a neuroma that I have between my 3rd and 4th toe on my right foot.

What is prolotherapy?  Basically it's shots of sugar water to stimulate a healing response.  Like PRP, but a bit weaker (and significantly cheaper).  There were a few other differences also.

Difference #1 - it hurt a heck of a lot less.  I went in for my appointment fully prepared for a great deal of pain - multiple shots of PRP in your ankle hurts like heck.  Nope - they explained to me while I was on the table that it wouldn't be nearly as bad, for two reasons. 

First, their type of PRP is slightly more acidic than the body's natural pH, while the prolotherapy solution isn't.  Secondly, while they don't include any painkillers in the PRP for fear of diluting the solution, apparently that's not as much of a concern with prolotherapy.  So they include lidocaine in the prolotherapy.  Woo.   

The prolotherapy itself felt just like a bunch of bee stings.  Which sounds painful.  But trust me, that's a cake walk compared to the PRP.  I didn't even need the squeeze toys.

Difference #2.  You recover a lot quicker.  On Tuesday, Dr. Wagner repeatedly assured me that I was totally fine to do a track workout on Friday.  I was skeptical, and grilled him on this.  He repeated: there was no need for me to spend two days sedentary post injections.  I would be sore, and he recommended that I take the day after the injections off from running, sticking to cross training.  But running was fine for Thursday, and no worries about doing a workout on Friday. 

The only restriction was that I couldn't go in the pool for 48 hours afterwards - he was worried about the rick of infection from the pool water and the injection sites.  I have to admit, I didn't quite get this (honestly, I swim all the time after getting shots or blood drawn), and I was disappointed because I had slotted Wednesday as a swimfest.  But, doctor's orders are doctor's orders.

And yup, the pain played out just as he projected.   Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, after the lidocaine wore off, my foot was very sore and swollen, like I had sprained it all over again.  Another hobble/crutch fest.  

Though Dr. Wagner was OK with yoga, cycling, or arc-trainer on Wednesday, I ended up just taking the day off, except for some quick upper body strength work.  But....by Thursday morning, I was good enough to do a pair of cautious easy runs, with everything feeling better as I ran.  And... Friday morning I showed up for track, started to jog my warm-up, and discovered the injection sites were essentially pain free.  Woo.

Dailies

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

Tuesday:  In the morning, 13 miles, including a workout of 7x800 (workout was 6-8x800).  Splits were 2:59, 2:57, 2:57, 2:53, 2:55, 2:52, and 2:50.  Followed with injury prevention work, and 1500 yards easy swimming. Got prolotherapy around 1 in the afternoon.

Wednesday:  In the morning, a small bit of upper body weights.  Massage at night.

Thursday:   In the morning, 5 miles easy (8:42) to yoga, and then another 6 miles after (8:25).  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  12 miles, including a four mile tempo on the track in 26:13 (6:44/6:35/6:32/6:22)  Followed with injury prevention work and 1500 yards easy swimming.   Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Saturday:   10 miles easy (8:34); followed by some upper body and injury prevention work.  1800 yards easy swimming and foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday: 16.5 mile progressive long run, split as 8:44 for first 3, 8:15 for next 6, and final 7.5 at 7:06 (and yes, I do now wish I had just run past the finish point at Fletchers to add in the extra 1/2 mile.  At the time, my top concern was the bathroom at Fletchers).  Followed with injury prevention work and 1200 yards easy swimming.  Restorative yoga and foam rolling in the afternoon.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Training log - Week ending 8/30/14

This week was 70 miles of running and 5000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

Upped the mileage back to 70 this week, in conjunction with a bout of really nice weather.   Our track workouts were held in blissfully low dew points this week - a nice break from the humidity of the past few weeks.  While this summer has been relatively cool in DC, it's been miserable from a breathing context - very thick and humid air, with the pollen making an early appearance.  It was nice to have a few day's respite.

Of course, the humidity was back in full force for Sunday's long run.  Temps were only in the high 70s, but the dew point was in the mid-70s - ick.  Usually my team splits our long runs into thirds, with the last third being at marathon pace.  But...given the dew point and the fact that it was still early in the training cycle, I decided to play it safe and just focus on getting the miles in, rather than run myself into the ground.  Amusingly enough, it looks like we ended up running the last third at 7:30 pace, which is honestly about what my pace would be (if not slower), if the dew point was in the mid 70s on marathon day.

(of course, I doubt I would start my race if that was the weather - you only get so many chances to run a marathon, and I wouldn't want to waste one on those type of conditions).

The humidity is back in force this week, which coincides nicely with another cutback - I'm getting prolotherapy done in my ankle and groin on Tuesday afternoon.  Prolotherapy is essentially the poorer cousin to PRP - instead of injecting my own blood, they'll inject (of all things) sugar water.  Basically, it's to give another "push" to the healing "cascade" that was started previously via PRP to those locations.  A booster shot, if you will.

On the one hand, I'm a little bit skeptical of sugar water.  On the other hand, I was also a bit skeptical of PRP previously.  And by this point, I have a lot of confidence in Dr. Wagner and his recommendations.   So we'll take another stab (hardeharhar) at the ankle ligaments (which are better but still not quite tight enough) and the groin, plus the neuroma in my right foot while we're at it.  Jabapalooza encore.

The prolotherapy has a much shorter recovery time than the PRP, and I also don't have to be sedentary for 48 hours post injections.  It is recommended that I cross train the day after the shots, so I'll plan on that.  But hopefully, I'll get the shots Tuesday, swim/yoga on Wednesday, and then be up for an easy run on Thursday and maybe even tempo on Friday.  We'll see.

Dailies

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

Tuesday:  In the morning, 11 miles, including a workout of 2 sets of 1600/800 (ran 6:16, 2:55, 6:05, 2:49).  Followed with injury prevention work, and 1500 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday:  In the morning, 5.5 miles very easy (8:34 pace), followed by a yoga class.  Later another 8 miles easy (8:14) and 800 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday:   In the morning, 4 miles very easy (8:43) to yoga, and then another 2.5 back home (8:17). Also a PT appointment, where I got my glute meds dry needled.

Friday:  11 miles, including an 8K tempo on the track in 32:48 (6:42/6:38/6:34/6:34/6:19)  Followed with injury prevention work and 1700 yards easy swimming.   Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Saturday:   10 miles easy (8:26); followed by some upper body and injury prevention work.  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday: 18 mile long run.  We ended up doing it as a slight progression - split as first 3 at 8:42; next 8.5 at 8:04; last 6.5 at 7:30 (average of 7:58 for 18 miles).    Followed with injury prevention work and 1000 yards easy swimming.  Yin yoga and foam rolling in the afternoon.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Training log - Week ending 8/24/2014

This week was 65 miles of running and 8000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

Yup, as promised, a slight cut back this week.  And I needed it.  On Tuesday, during a post-workout cooldown, I tripped and faceplanted.  This was the second time I'd done that in 6 days.

(I'd also tripped the previous Wednesday during an easy run - this wasn't particularly notable because I didn't get dinged up, and I was running on a broken up brick sidewalk in the dark - tripping was not a surprise).

This time I landed a bit harder, literally taking it on the chin and giving myself a goatee.
My blog - I can post what I want. 
Including gross pictures of my chin. 
And yes, I was showing it off to everyone.

Nothing relating to running was injured, so not a big deal, except that (as a friend noted), if one is tripping repeatedly during easy runs, it points to some underlying fatigue.  Which was also a good argument for cutting back slightly, with slightly lowered mileage and a shorter tempo.  I _am_ marathon training, and fatigue is part of that.  But I don't want to get too fatigued too early.

Dailies

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

Tuesday:  In the morning, 11 miles, including a workout of 400/800/1200/1600/1200/800/400 with half distance recoveries (1:30, 3:02, 4:35, 6:09, 4:29, 2:59, 1:25).  Followed with a faceplant, injury prevention work, and 1500 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday:  In the morning, 5.5 miles very easy (8:48 pace), followed by a yoga class.  Later another 7.5 miles easy (8:26) and 500 yards easy swimming.  Sports massage at night.

Thursday:   In the morning, 4 miles very easy (8:45).  Later did 2000 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  11 miles, including a 4 mile tempo on the track in 26:28 (6:40/6:37/6:38/6:32)  Followed with injury prevention work and 1500 yards easy swimming.   Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Saturday:   10 miles easy (8:40); followed by some upper body and injury prevention work.  1000 yards easy swimming and foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday: 16 miles as a progression run, split as first 3 at 8:45; next 8 at 8:07; last 5 at 6:56.  Average of 7:53 for 16 miles.  Followed with a yoga class and 1500 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Training log - Week ending 8/17/2014

This week was 71 miles of running and 6000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

Didn't really mean to get up into the 70s, it just kinda happened.  Oops.

Actually, looking at it, my mileage build-up hasn't been too crazy-- looking back, since May it's been:

53
57
>50
60
62
>44
62
65
66
>50
68
71

(">" points a cutback week).  So, a pattern of 2-3 weeks build, 1 week back off.    Even so, 70+ miles may still be a bit high for me this early in a training cycle (I'm still about 14 weeks out from the Philly marathon), especially given my injury history over the past year.  So I'm going to try to ease up a bit this coming week.

Actually, looking at it, oops was pretty much the theme of this week.  Friday's ooops was misunderstanding how far I was supposed to go for tempo, while Sunday's ooops was finishing the long run a bit too fast - I revisited an old bad habit I have of speeding up when I start getting uncomfortable, in an attempt to just get the run over with.

Oh well.  The good thing about training is that even if a workout isn't executed perfectly - i.e. you run the tempo too slow or the long run too fast - it still counts for something.  Just recognize the error, grin, recover, move forward. 

In other news, I got my ferritin tested this week.  It's up to 50 (a few weeks ago when I was crashing, it was at 30).  Historically I run best at 60-70, so I've still got a lot of iron pills to pop and OJ to drink, but I'm making progress, and it shows in how I feel.  Running a long run too fast was not a possibility a few weeks ago - it is now.

Dailies

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

Tuesday:  In the morning, 11.5 miles, including a workout of 6x800 with half distance recoveries (3:05, 3:01, 2:57, 2:57, 2:56, 2:55).  Followed with injury prevention work and 1500 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday:  In the morning, 6 miles very easy (8:51 pace), followed by a yoga class.  Later another 8 miles easy (8:27) and 1500 yards easy swimming.  Sports massage at night.

Thursday:   In the morning, 5 miles very easy to yoga (8:46) then yoga followed by 3.5 miles easy (8:30) and then a bit of upper body strengthwork and injury prevention work.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  12 miles, including an 8K+400 tempo on the track in 6:53/6:49/6:48/6:44/6:43/1:43  (A bit of miscommunication - I thought I was doing a 10K tempo (25 laps); but it turns out my coach didn't want me going more than 8K.  Ooops.   Followed with injury prevention work and 2000 yards easy swimming.   Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Saturday:   11 miles easy (8:15); followed by a yin yoga class and some upper body and injury prevention work.  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday: 14 miles as a progression run, split as first 4 at 8:31; next 5 at 7:39; last 5 at 6:53 (oops - ran a bit too fast the last three miles).  Average of 7:36 for ~14 miles.  Followed with injury prevention/leg strengthwork, and then a yoga class and 1000 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Training log - Week ending 8/10/14

This week was 68 miles of running and 6000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.


And....I felt really good this week.  I'm still running out of gas slightly at the end of workouts, but it's nothing like it was a few weeks back.  Or even last week.

There's all sorts of possible explanations - my allergies aren't bugging me nearly as much as they were a few weeks back, for one thing.  Nor is my asthma.  Another possible cause is that I swapped brands of iron supplements after another check of my ferritin levels showed that they weren't rising as quickly as I wanted. (I'm now using "slow FE"; I was using a generic brand of ferrous bisglycinate).  Or maybe it's just that I'm getting fitter.  Or that I took a down week last week.  Or that I took two vacation days from work this week as much needed mental health days.  

In any event, things are definitely progressing the right direction.  Friday's 5 mile track tempo was over 30 seconds faster than two weeks ago, though the effort felt the same (and the weather was the same).  And on Sunday, I thought I was holding about 7:10-15 pace at the end of my long run, only to discover when I checked my watch that I was running ~7:00 pace.   And I'm feeling perky on a Monday morning, not dragging.

Whatever the source, I'll take it. 

Dailies

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

Tuesday:  In the morning, 11 miles, including a workout of 2x1200,800,400 with half distance recoveries (4:35, 2:58, 87, 4:29, 2:55, 81).  Followed with injury prevention work and 1500 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday:  In the morning, 5.5 miles very easy (8:48 pace), followed by a yoga class.  Later another 8 miles easy (8:27) and 1500 yards easy swimming.  Sports massage at night.

Thursday:   In the morning, 2 miles to yoga (8:51) then yoga followed by 6 miles easy (8:30) and then a bit of upper body strengthwork and injury prevention work.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  11.5 miles, including an 8K tempo on the track in 33:05 (6:47/6:35/6:36/6:37/6:30).  Followed with injury prevention work and 1500 yards easy swimming.   Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Saturday:   10 miles easy (8:12); followed by some upper body and injury prevention work.  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday: 14 miles as a progression run (8:53 for first 3 miles, 8:12 for next 4, 7:44 for next 2.5, and last 4.5 at 6:59. Average of 7:52 for ~14 miles.  Followed with 1500 yards easy swimming, injury prevention/leg strengthwork, and then a yoga class.  Foam rolling at night.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Training log - Week ending 8/3/2014

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

Cutback week.  I also ran a race on Saturday, but the reduced mileage was less about the race and more about the fact that I was feeling a bit rundown (which makes sense - I've been at 65 miles per week the last two weeks, which is a number I haven't seen in about a year).  Since I haven't even formally started marathon training yet, I thought a down week was a good idea.

Plus, I had a lot of stuff going on.  Brian and I visit my parents and sister and my horse fairly regularly, but we always do it as a day trip (they're 2 hours away, if no traffic).  My parents had suggested several times that we stay over at some point, and this week made sense, scheduling-wise (once I get into marathon training, it will be hard, since I don't want to miss the Sunday long run).

So, we visited this weekend, and it was fun.  Amusing anecdote: Brian and I idly debated on the way over whether my parents might put us in separate rooms (I was fairly sure they wouldn't).

Nope.  We ended up not just in the same room, but in a double bed (we always share a queen - Brian is not a small man, and I sleep in a way that requires real estate).  And in a room with a steep pitch to the ceiling, so that I had to do a fair bit of contortioning to get out of bed.   No Lucy and Ricky set up here.  (points if you get the reference).

Yup - I think my parents approve of Brian.

Dailies

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

Tuesday:  In the morning, 10 miles, including a workout of 3x1600, 2x800 (6:18/6:09/6:08/2:58/2:59).  Still fading a bit at the end of workouts, which coincides with my ferritin still being on the low side.  Followed by 1000 yards of easy swimming; foam rolling at night.

Wednesday:  In the morning, 3 miles very easy (8:38 pace), followed by a yoga class.  Later another 7 miles very easy (8:31).  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday:   In the morning, 8 miles, including a half mile pick-up in 3:09.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  1000 yards of swimming with a pull buoy.   Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Saturday:   7.5 miles, including a 5K race in 20:16 (report). Followed with long car ride to visit mom+dad (traffic).   Foam rolling in afternoon (not too embarrassed to admit that I took foam roller to mom+dad's).

Sunday:   First, car ride back from mom+dad's (to beat traffic).  Then 9 miles easy (8:27) followed by a yoga class and then another 5.5 miles easy (8:22).  1000 yards of swimming+foam rolling in the afternoon.

Race report: Crimesolvers 5K, August 2, 2014

This weekend, I ran the Crimesolvers 5K, finishing in a time of 20:16.  I'm actually pretty happy with the race, though I've still got a long way to go to get fit.

I have to admit that I wasn't that enthusiastic about running this - nothing against the race itself; it's just that I really don't like 5Ks.  And I don't like races in August.  (I also don't like green eggs and ham).

But....racing is a skill, and one that needs to be practiced.  And...I also needed to have a cut back week, so it made sense to combine a mileage cutback with running this race.  And my team was organizing this race, so pretty much everyone would be there.  So I signed up.  Like a job to be done.

I wasn't that much more enthusiastic on Saturday morning, when I woke up.  Part of this was that I was completely distracted with a) my plans to go visit my parents for an overnight stay right after the race and b) the ridiculously large assortment of vanities, sinks, faucets, toilets, etc that one has to choose between when building a new bathroom.  The race wasn't the center of my attention. 

It was also moderately cool, but fairly humid.  (inserts grumbling here before removing, since we all race in the same conditions).  And the course had some ups and downs and turns that promised to make life interesting.  But on the other hand, it was good for me to race in the conditions I like least - sort of a callousing effect, if that makes sense.  If you only race on flat courses in perfect weather when you're in great shape, you miss out on a lot.

Warmed up, said hi to all my friends/teammates (a _lot_ of them were there), and lined up.  And then we were off.  Per my norm, I started off cautiously before picking up some - the very first part of the course had a moderate uphill that could really haunt one later if you hit it too fast.

Then, I just ran, at what I'd describe as a very hard cruise.  I think part of my restraint came from the fact that I was completely unfamiliar with the course, so I was a bit hesitant.  I didn't know if or when the next hill was coming, and I knew that if I dug myself into severe oxygen debt, there'd be no saving myself if I hit a hill.  I think it was also that (unusual for me) I just wasn't focused on the race, and was thinking of it as a job to get done before rushing to the rest of my weekend. 

But, so it was.  And I ran on.

During the course of the race, I had been keeping an eye on the women ahead of me, idly debating whether they were masters women or not.    In the third mile, I began making up the distance between myself and one girl ahead of me.  A few seconds of internal debate, and then I decided to see if I could pass her.  Both because she might have been a masters (though I was pretty sure she wasn't), and because the whole purpose of being here was to practice racing.

(and yes, I know I shouldn't have even debated whether to go after her - but as I wrote, I wasn't really in a racing mood for whatever reason).

So, I started to close, with the idea that I'd see what kind of kick I had after the 3 mile mark.  Hit the 3 mile mark, and started pushing around the first turn towards the finish.  I knew we had one more turn, and then about 150 meters or so to the finish.

Except whoops!  Came around the last turn, and it was more like 50 meters.

And (this is the neat thing).  I panicked a bit, and in the adrenaline rush managed to actually sprint.  It felt weird and strangely awesome.  And I chased her down, passed her, and just about tied another female as we crossed the finish.

Not the sort of thing that I'm generally known for, but hey, it happened.  And in the post-race delerium, I just barely managed to restrain myself from crowing about my sprint.  ("didya see me?  I kicked!  Really!).

And all the sudden, I was enthusiastic about racing again.  And I couldn't wait to sign up for the next one, August be damned.  All because I found a kick.  Funny how that works.

It's too bad there aren't more races in August.  Words I never thought I'd say.

Other notes:

-Splits were 6:35/6:31/6:31/40
-Used my new Foradil inhaler, plus a two precautionary puffs of my albuterol - No asthma issues, so woo.
-No allergies either - that's the one positive thing about humidity.
-This really was a fun, well-run race (full disclosure: my running team manages this race, but I had no involvement in the organization, and would have said so regardless).  There was a barbeque stand or similar post race - though I didn't hit it myself, I thought that was an inspired choice for an August race.