Monday, September 18, 2017

Training log - Week ending 9/17/17

This week was 43.5 miles of running, 20 "miles" of pool-running and 2000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

This is just a quick entry for the formality of it.  This was the first week of my marathon taper, with a race inserted as a bonus.

Every time I've run a half-marathon as a tune-up during a marathon, it's gone poorly.  In fact, when I think about it, my marathon tune-ups of all distances are almost always disappointing - the only time they've gone well is when I've ended up under-prepared for the marathon.

I know this.  And I know that the smack-in-the-face of a frustrating race sets me up perfectly to approach my marathon with both resolve and respect.

That's the logic.  But there's emotion also.  And the emotion is that tough races are never fun, and it takes time for the sting to ease.  That's just how it is.

I've gone through this process enough to know that as much as the half sucked to experience at the time, it set me up very well for a great marathon.  So now I just need to relax and trust in the process.  And resist that urge that we all feel to try to somehow compensate for the race in my training over the next few weeks, either to subconsciously self-flagellate or to prove my own fitness or to crash-train some extra fitness. 

It's time for the plane to start its safe descent.


Dailies 

Monday: In the morning, foam-rolling, yoga, and 7 "miles" pool-running; 2 "miles" pool-running  at night.

Tuesday: 9 miles very easy (8:56) plus drills and strides, and then upper body weights and core.  2 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 9 miles, including a workout of 6x800 in 3:02, 3:00, 2:59, 2:56, 2:59, 2:52  Followed with injury prevention work and 1250 yards of recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday: In the morning,  7 "miles" pool-running, DIY yoga, and foam rolling.  2 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling at night

Friday: 7 miles very easy (9:04), followed by some light strengthwork and DIY yoga.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday: In the morning, 3 miles very easy (8:46) plus DIY yoga and foam rolling.  Ice bath in the afternoon.

Sunday:  2.5 mile warm-up, and then a half-marathon in 89:03.  750 yards recovery swimming later in the morning.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Race Report: Navy-Air Force Half-Marathon, September 17, 2017

I ran the Navy-Air Force Half-Marathon this morning, finishing in a time of 89:03.  Which was good enough for second masters female.  For the fourth year in a row.  Each time to a different person.

Oh well, better than 3rd master, right?

I have to admit, I didn't go into this race with the best attitude, and I think it showed in my performance.  I've just finished my peak 6 weeks of marathon training, and I'm tired.  Mentally as much as physically.  I find it hard to shift into a racing mindset when I haven't raced in a while - it takes some work to rekindle that fire.

But that's exactly why it was a good idea for me to race this morning.  I knew that the race itself would likely not be my best performance for several reasons: accumulated fatigue, lack of focus on this race, and weather (today was pretty muggy).   But physically it would be a good hard lactate threshold workout, and mentally it'd be a solid kick in the rear.  And three weeks out from the marathon was the perfect slot for both.

Before I get into the race itself, I have to take a moment to praise the race organization.  I've run this race four years in a row now, and each year I've noted changes that were made in response to the feedback from previous years.   There used to be a problem with the 5 miler and the half-marathon runners interfering with each other - the courses were rerouted to fix that issue.   This year, the expo was moved to the DC Armory area - much easier to access than the previous location at Nationals Park.  I also noted that the race shirt this year came in a true women's XS - in previous years the womens' shirts, even the smalls and extra-smalls, were tents.  It seems like many races have a "my way or the highway" attitude towards their runners, so it's nice to run a race that really does value and respond to feedback.  The race isn't perfect. (which race is?)   But they really do try, and they improve each year, and that's worth a lot in my book.

***

Race morning dawned muggy - this type of weather has become a near tradition for this race, so I wasn't too upset.  It was what it was, and we just had to do our best.  Because of the weather, I kept my warm-up on the short side - 2.5 miles with one hard segment of about 90 seconds - and also finished my warm-up with enough time to let my body temperature settle back down.

Then I hopped in my corral, handheld water bottle in hand, to join my teammates.

The gun went off (actually a bell, as I remember) and I went out riding the brakes.  This race and Cherry Blossom have similar first miles and people make the same mistakes at both - hammering up the initial hill and then letting the subsequent downhill lure them out too fast.  Mindful of that, I proceeded carefully.

Somewhere during that first mile, I synced up with teammates Brent and Jason.  I'd run with them for the next 8-9 miles, before getting separated at a water stop.
Thanks to Elizabeth Clor for this photo.
Jason is to my left, and Brent is to
my right (hidden by me).
Other teammate Jamey is behind me,
as is the woman in blue who would
finish first master female.

For the first few miles, I tried to hold a steady rhythm, with the exception of one surge to get behind a taller person as a windblock (we had a very modest headwind for the first 2-3 miles).  I had noted another masters female at the start, so I was also keeping an eye on her - ideally keeping her in sight so that I could chase her.  Around mile 4 or 5 she came back to me and we passed her, so that was good.  Of course, soon after another woman who looked like she might be my age passed us.  I debated going with her, or at least keeping her in my sight, but opted not to.  She was going too fast for me this early in the race.  Either she'd come back to me later or she wouldn't, but blowing myself up now wouldn't accomplish anything.

I held my pace up to the turnaround in Rock Creek Park, but things were getting rocky.  My breathing honestly hadn't been great the whole race (not full-blown asthma, but slightly tight), and I was also starting to feel shaky.  I had drained my water bottle, so I slowed up to refill it, and lost contact with Brent and Jason.  That was just as well, as I sensed that they were in shape to hammer the race home, while this was evolving into survival for myself.

The last four miles were not fun.  I had originally hoped to hammer these, but I was in no shape to do so - my balloon had no helium.  So I struggled home, mentally and physically.   I'm annoyed that I didn't fight harder in the final miles - if nothing else, I could have at least broken 89 (though honestly that doesn't matter much at all - it would have still been way off of my fitness).  But I think the fact that I have a marathon in 3 weeks weighed heavy here - as horrible as it sounds, when I have a goal marathon on my mind, I just don't care that much about the tune-ups, and it shows.

Splits were:
Mile 1: 6:55
Mile 2: 6:44
Mile 3: 6:46
Mile 4: 6:41
Mile 5: 6:41
Mile 6: 6:45
Mile 7 6:44
Mile 8: 6:47
Mile 9: 6:54 (hill+ refill water bottle)
Mile 10: 6:46
Mile 11: 6:52
Mile 12: 7:00
Mile 13+last bit: 7:27 (6:39 pace)

So basically, I just raced a half-marathon not too far off the pace I've been training at as "marathon pace."   Normally this would be concerning, but I'm not too worried.  Between the weather (high 60s and 100% humidity), accumulated fatigue, and my lack of focus, I don't take too much from the time.  It is what it is, I'm done, and now I get to taper for the marathon.

Other notes:

  • Took one gel on course, a Blueberry Roctane.  I felt nauseous afterwards, but I think that was due to deydration, not the gel.
  • Speaking of dehydration, it was definitely a factor here.  I felt nauseous and shaky in the last miles of this race and for a while afterwards.  And despite tossing down many many bottles of water post-race, I'm still unable to pee.  (TMI, but it's a running blog).

    I'm not sure what I can do about that - I was definitely well hydrated going into this race, and I drank as much water as I could have tolerated during the race.  In 100% humidity, it's impossible not to get somewhat dehydrated when racing this long.  And the fact I had to go back on my antihistamines a few weeks ago for ragweed season didn't help - Clarinex is a great drug for allergies, but very drying.  Oh well, it is what it is.
  • Amusingly, though this time was far off of what I would normally hope to run for a half-marathon, it's still by far my my best performance at this distance while preparing for a full.  So that's nice.  And it's also just more evidence that I don't race half-marathons well off of full marathon training.

    Over the years, I've noted that some people can race great half-marathons approaching them from the endurance/marathon side - they do most of the marathon workouts, but just avoid the 20 milers.  Those are also the people that generally run better half-marathons as tune-ups for a full.   For myself, I do best at the half-marathon distance when I approach it from the 10K/speed/stamina side - focusing on the track workouts,  avoiding the marathoner workouts, and really limiting the long runs.  That's what I did this spring for Shamrock and Grandma's, and I'll use that strategy again when I next target a half as my goal race.  Marathon pace work is my strength, but the more I do it, the more I get locked into that marathon pace range, and the harder it is for me to find and hold a pace that's just a bit faster.
  • Arrived at the race at 6:00 am for the 7:08 start, which was just about perfect.  I did have some trouble finding parking at first - there were many many open spots along Constitution Avenue and the surrounding streets, but they were all marked with temporary "No Parking" signs.  It was frustrating.  Until I realized that all the No Parking signs were for Saturday (when we had umpteen marches and gatherings, including one for President Trump supporters and another for Insane Clown Posse fans).  And that was how I scored near-rock star parking.   Reading isn't just fundamental, it's also parking-tastic.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Training log - Week ending 9/10/17

This week was 74 miles of running, 24 "miles" of pool-running and 3000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

And...that's the last hard week done - 6 of 6.  Now I have what's essentially a four week taper.  I'll taper this week for a half-marathon this coming weekend, and then recover from that before continuing my taper for the marathon on October 8.

I've done it both ways - last 20+ three weeks before, and last 20+ four weeks out, with a half-marathon raced all out three weeks out.  I prefer the second.  The half-marathon itself is hit-or-miss (and usually a miss, in my case).  But I really benefit from lactate threshold work in general, and so the half-marathon ends up being a great final hard workout before the marathon.

I'm feeling really good about my fitness.  I deliberately held way back on Tuesday's interval workout (with my coach's concurrence).  I've decided that when I'm marathon training, I prefer running the Tuesday interval workouts as a very controlled descending set - starting at somewhere between tempo and 10K effort, and then increasing the pace each interval to end at my normal pace.

Doing the workouts this way, I still reap the leg turnover benefits of the workout, without the stress and injury risk of the "normal" workout.  It's not the best way to train for the 5k-10K distance.  But for the few toughest weeks of marathon training, it's totally fine.

Friday's tempo was the last hard workout before the half-marathon.  Because of the great weather, we were able to extend the distance to 8K - I was really happy about that, since I think the longer track tempos are the single best workout for me in terms of building fitness.  I ended up setting a modest 8K PR during the tempo - my official 8K PR is 31:51 from a few years back.  Of course, I also ran faster than that during my 10K and 10 Mile PRs this spring, so that 8K PR had already fallen anyway.

Sunday's progressive 20 miler was almost an afterthought.  The priority was on getting it done safely and without digging too deep - in a sense, I'm already resting up for the half.  Incidentally, that's why the run was 20 instead of 21 - our usual 21 mile long run loop is closed due to construction, and so we did the run as an out-and-back.  Because of the out-and-back, we could fine-tune the distance, and so we limited the run to 20 miles.  There was no reason to do more, and every reason to be conservative.

***

Several people have commented on my paces this season, and wondered if I was targeting sub-3.  The answer is not really.  I'm honestly training at paces determined by my current fitness and recent race performances.  It just happens that those paces also generally happen to be in the low 6:50s.  Which matches a 3 hour marathon.

If pressed, I'd admit that I suspect I'm in sub-3 shape now, based on objective evidence.  But sub-3 wasn't my goal at the beginning of this training cycle, and I'm loathe to shift goals late in the cycle.  Getting ambitious with marathon goals late in a cycle usually leads to lousy races.  And it would be a shame to be disappointed with a sub-3:05 when that's what I wanted when I started training.

In any event, it's a non-issue.  I always race with my watch face blanked, so I'm ignorant of paces.  Thus, there's really no need to think about target paces or times before the race.  I'll just do what I do every time - target a well-paced race based on perceived effort.  If' I'm in shape to break three hours and the weather and the running gods comply,  it will happen.  If if doesn't, I'll still run the best I could that day.  And that's all I can really ask for.


Dailies 

Monday: In the morning, 8 miles very easy (8:41) to yoga, yoga, and then 2 miles very easy home (8:59) plus drills and strides. 4 "miles" pool-running in the evening.

Tuesday: 10.5 miles, including a track workout of 4x1200+800 in 4:50, 4:40, 4:36, 4:30, 2:52.  Also did injury prevention work at the gym and 1250 yards of recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: In the morning, 8 miles very easy to yoga (9:19), yoga, and then 4 miles very easy (9:19) plus drills and strides.  4 "miles" pool-running and a massage in the evening.

Thursday: In the morning, upper body weights and core plus 10 "miles" pool-running.  Another 2 "miles" of pool-running and foam rolling at night.

Friday: 11.5 miles, including an 8K tempo on the track in 31:48 (6:27/6:25/6:24/6:22/6:11).  Followed with injury prevention work and 1250 yards recovery swimming. Foam rolling at night.

Saturday: 10 miles easy (9:07) followed by drills and four strides, and upper body weights and core.  Foam rolling and 4 "miles" pool-running in afternoon.

Sunday: 20 miles progressive, split as first 7 averaging 9:02 pace, next 6 averaging 7:37, last 7 averaging 6:43 (downhill assist on way back).  Followed with injury prevention work and 500 yards recovery swimming.   Foam rolling in afternoon.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Training log - Week ending 9/3/17

This week was 50 miles of running, 38 "miles" of pool-running and 2000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

And that's week 5 of the hard 6.  Only two hard workouts this week: the 25x400m on the track, and the 4-3-2-1 on Saturday.  I was very happy with how both went.

The 25x400 was a dig-deep type morning, but it's supposed to be - that workout is intended to be a mental test.  The 4-3-2-1 felt good - controlled and not terribly challenging.   Well...the last mile at 10K-pace-instead-of-a-bit-faster-than-marathon-pace was arguably not quite as "controlled" but it didn't feel like a massive effort.  More of an "oops."  And my coach was fine with us hitting that pace for the last mile, so no harm no foul, I guess.

As my hard runs got faster, my easy runs got even slower.  I rode the brakes hard on those days to balance out the workouts and ensure I didn't dig into a hole.

***

I do a lot of thinking on my easy runs, and two of the things I was thinking about this week were a) how my workouts felt, both during and after, and b) why I like running my easy runs relatively slow compared to my workouts and races.

If you want to get analytical (and that's the fun of this blog), you can assign three metrics to any run or workout:

-how challenging it was to execute at the time,
-how much it took out of you in the days after, and
-how much of a stimulus it gave to your fitness.

There's a real tendency among runners to view the three as perfectly correlated.  I.e. if a workout felt really hard while you were doing it, or if you were trashed for days after, then it must have done great things for your fitness.

[incidentally, I think that assumption is what underlies the success of stuff like SolidCore and some of the worse Cross-Fit studios.  Due to how the workouts are structured, people leave the studios or boxes feeling really sore, and assume that because they are sore, their workout was effective.]

In my experience, the three qualities (how challenging it felt at the time, how tired/sore you were after, and how much you gained from it) are only loosely correlated.

For example, the 25x400 workout is a fairly tough workout to execute at the time - there's always a point where it's tempting to drop out.  Not so with a 21 mile progressive long run - unless I'm struggling with my training generally, the long runs usually seem easy at the time.  But I feel the 21 mile run much more in the days after - I bounce back fairly quickly from the 25x400.

Thus, how hard the workout felt while you did it may not match how much it takes out of you after.   And similarly, the workout that leaves you curled on a ball on the track may not have benefited you any more than one run a few seconds slower per lap. Sometimes (like the 25x400), you need to go to the well.  Other times (like the 4-3-2-1), if you dig deep you're just accruing more fatigue without a corresponding benefit.  Wasteful and inefficient.

Likewise, for easy runs, there's an assumption that the more tired one is from a run, the more one benefited from it.  I disagree.  At least for myself, I feel that I get a nearly identical training stimulus from 10 miles at 8:00 pace versus 9:30 pace.  But the 9:30 pace run requires much less recovery.   Thus the slower easy run is a better value - same training stress (or maybe greater, since I'm out there longer), at a lower physical cost.

[note here: I don't believe all people are equal.  There may be some who get a significant enough benefit from a faster easy run to outweigh the physical cost.  My hunch is that this depends on physiology and age.]

And that's one of the tricks of training - realizing that those three metrics can all differ, and that we need to be striving to maximize our fitness, rather than simply chasing exhaustion.


Dailies 

Monday: In the morning, foam-rolling, yoga, and 8.5 "miles" pool-running; 3 "miles" pool-running  at night.

Tuesday: 10.5 miles very easy (9:13) plus drills and strides, and then upper body weights and core.  2 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 13.5 miles, including a workout of 25x400m - first 24 repeats averaged 1:32, with 100m recoveries averaging 32 seconds; last repeat in 85.  Ran the "10K" (less the recoveries) in 38:21.  Followed with injury prevention work and 1250 yards of recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.
(since people geek about the 25x400, here's the Garmin report and the Stryd report.)

Thursday: In the morning, foam-rolling, yoga, and 8 "miles" pool-running.  4 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling at night

Friday: 10 miles very easy (9:21), followed by upper body weights and core.  2 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling at night.

Saturday: 17 miles, including a workout of 4, 3, 2, and 1 miles at marathon pace, with ~1 mile easy in between (we took a bit longer after the 4 mile segment for a quick restroom break). Splits were:
4 Mile: 27:27 (6:53/6:49/6:52/6:53 - average pace 6:52)
3 Mile: 20:28 (6:48/6:51/6:49 - average pace 6:49)
2 Mile: 13:35 (6:50/6:45 - average pace 6:48)
Mile: 6:19
Followed with injury prevention work and 750 yards of recovery swimming. Foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday:  8 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling mid-day.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Training log - Week ending 8/27/17

This week was 76 miles of running, 23 "miles" of pool-running and 3000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

My mileage is deceptively high this week, because I ran more days than normal.  Usually I run five days a week on land, while the other two days are pool-only.  But for this period of Monday-Sunday, I ran six days, and only had one pool-only day.  Why?

Well....when I'm in the depths of marathon training, I think in terms of 14 day fortnights rather than 7 day weeks (though this blog doggedly adheres to the 7 day format).   I structure my fortnight like this:

  • Monday1: Pool-only
  • Tuesday1: Easy mileage
  • Wednesday1: 25x400m
  • Thursday1: Pool-only
  • Friday1: Easy mileage
  • Saturday1: 4-3-2-1 long run
  • Sunday1: Pool-only
  • Monday2: Easy mileage
  • Tuesday2: Track intervals
  • Wednesday2: Easy mileage
  • Thursday2: Pool-only
  • Friday2: Track tempo
  • Saturday2: Easy mileage
  • Sunday2: 21 mile long run.
(pool-running days in italics, key workouts in bold)


Structured this way, I never run on land more than three days in a row, and I take a pool-only day (aka a "POD") after each of the key workouts - the 21 miler, the 25x400m, and the 4-3-2-1 marathon pace workout/long run.   I consider those three workouts to be particularly demanding and high risk, and so I emphasize recovery after each.

So the first 7 day period ends up having three PODs and low land mileage while the subsequent 7 day period has only one POD, and thus higher land mileage.

Per this schedule,  I did last week's long run on Saturday, and then took my normal post-long run pool day on Sunday.  Because of this, Monday of this week ended up being land, not pool.  So only one POD this week, resulting in a high land mileage tally.

If you just looked at the weekly numbers, you might be very concerned at the injury risks inherent in these land mileage fluctuations - bouncing from 50 to 76 and back again.  But I think this is an example of where weekly mileage totals aren't the best metric for assessing workload/stress.

I could have forced a land run of 10-11 miles last Sunday after the 4-3-2-1, delaying my POD until Monday.  Doing so would have looked more balanced on pixels/paper - with weeks of 61 and 65 miles, respectively.  But, in the real world, I'm certain that taking my POD the day after the 4-3-2-1 is the best choice for me in terms of recovering from and absorbing the workout, and is far easier on my body - even if the weekly Monday-Sunday total argues otherwise.

Reviewing my training over the fortnight period - I ran 126 miles plus 61 miles in the pool.  Averaged over 2 weeks, that comes to 63 miles on land and 30 miles in the pool each week - exactly what I'm targeting, and a perfect workload for me.

It's a nice reminder to myself to let the training drive the numbers, rather than the other way around.

[And now, an aside that oozes hypocrisy.  While training absolutely drives the numbers, that doesn't mean you can't enjoy the numbers when they work out well..]

[As you can see, for one brief moment, I led the weekly mileage chart for my team on Strava.  This was an unexpected perk of running early on Monday morning.   I couldn't resist screencapping it for posterity (this may never happen again).  If you're on Strava, you're not allowed to judge me for this.  If you've resisted Strava, judge away.]

[and yes, I am on Strava.  However, I am being pretty conservative in whom I'm allowing to follow me.  Please don't be hurt if I don't accept your follow request, especially if I don't know you personally.]


Dailies 

Monday: In the morning, 4.5 miles very easy (9:03) to yoga, yoga, and then 6.5 miles very easy home (8:50) plus drills and strides. 3 "miles" pool-running in the evening.

Tuesday: 11 miles, including a track workout of 6x800 in 3:05, 3:01, 2:57, 2:59, 2:58, 2:51.  Also did injury prevention work at the gym and 1250 yards of recovery swimming.  Massage at night.

Wednesday: In the morning, 8 miles very easy to yoga (9:25), yoga, and then 4 miles very easy (9:02) plus drills and strides.  4 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling in the evening.

Thursday: In the morning, upper body weights and core plus 10 "miles" pool-running with the belt.  Another 2 "miles" of pool-running and foam rolling at night.

Friday: 11 miles, including a 4 mile tempo on the track in 25:15 (6:25/6:20/6:24/6:06).  Followed with injury prevention work and 1250 yards recovery swimming. Foam rolling at night.

Saturday: 10 miles easy (9:07) followed by drills and four strides, and upper body weights and core.  Foam rolling and 4 "miles" pool-running in afternoon.

Sunday: 21 miles progressive, split as first 7 averaging 8:52 pace, next 7 averaging 7:38, last 7 averaging 6:49.  Followed with injury prevention work and 500 yards recovery swimming.   Foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Training log - Week ending 8/20/2017

This week was 50 miles of running, 38 "miles" of pool-running and 2000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

(note: this is a repaste - at some point this week this entry vanished from my blog.  I'm not sure why.  Fortunately it was in my browser cache, so I was able to fix the issue fairly easily, by cutting, pasting, and re-posting.  I'm pretty annoyed, through.)

Week 3 of the hard 6 is done.  The star this week was my first "25x400" workout - it's 25 repeats of 400m each at 10K pace with a "floating recovery" (not a jog) of 100m between each (targeting around 30 seconds for the 100m recovery). 

Physically, it's an extended lactate threshold workout - you alternate 400m above LT and 100m below it.  Mentally, it's a head game - since you never truly take a break - you just downshift/upshift again and again and again.  While trying not to think about how far you still have to go (just like the marathon).

I was fairly happy with how the workout went.  It was quite humid, with the track wrapped in a warm fog, when we started the workout  I started the workout cautiously, willing to pull the plug if I ever felt like I was in a hole.  But I didn't start struggling until the last few repeats, and by then I was close to done.

Anyone who wants to geek about the workout can check my Garmin entry or training log report, and note how the recoveries got a bit longer as the workout progressed, and dipped at the end, when things got hard.  Having done this workout several times, I feel that the recoveries might just be the hardest part of the workout - it's just so easy to ease off the gas a bit too much.

It is absolutely hilarious where the mind goes during that workout.  Towards the end, when I had just a few 400s left, I struggled with the fact that I had two more 400s left in 94 seconds each (plus a final 400 hammered).  Having that much left was unbearable.   However, an 800 in 3:08, followed by a hard 400, sounded much more reasonable.  So I reframed the workout that way.

As we all know - tough runs often result in lousy, emotional math.

***

It was still quite humid for Saturday's second go at the 4-3-2-1 workout, though not as thick as Wednesday.  Respecting the conditions, we backed off the pace for the workout, though we ended up holding a faster pace than I had first predicted- only slightly slower than what we held two weeks ago.  Despite the humidity, this edition of the 4-3-2-1 took much less out of me than the previous did.  A good sign.

When doing MP work, I usually pay attention to a) my perceived effort, b) my pace, and c) my heart race.  I like to use all three as limiters to make sure I'm not overcooking the workout. 
During Saturday's run I was a bit concerned at how high my heart rate got at times - completely out of sync with my perceived effort. 

I worried, and then I shelved my concerns.  While I often like to use heart rate as a limiter for MP workouts, my coach has told me before that in extreme humidity or cold, heart rate can be distorted, and isn't the best metric (this view is shared by Jack Daniels, among others).  I've definitely noted this in extreme cold, when my heart rate barely budges during intervals and tempos.

Here, my perceived effort was definitely not matching my heart rate - the effort felt much easier than the heart rate indicated, and my pace seemed objectively reasonable.  I wouldn't have had the same concern I was overdoing things if I wasn't wearing a heart rate monitor.  So I decided that, in these conditions (humidity, heat, caffeinated gel that wasn't agreeing with me), heart rate was a flawed metric.  How good I felt post-workout and the day after seems to support that view.

(tl;dr version - for the n'th time, don't get hung up in the metrics and the overthinking.)

Dailies 

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

Tuesday: 10.5 miles very easy (9:16) plus drills and strides, and then upper body weights and core.  2 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 12.5 miles, including a workout of 25x400m - first 24 repeats averaged 1:34, with 100m recoveries averaging 32 seconds; last repeat in 85.     Followed with injury prevention work and 1250 yards of recovery swimming.  Sports massage at night.

Thursday: In the morning, foam-rolling, yoga, and 8 "miles" pool-running.  4 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling at night

Friday: 10.5 miles very easy (9:26), followed by upper body weights and core.  3 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling at night.

Saturday: 17 miles, including a workout of 4, 3, 2, and 1 miles at marathon pace, with ~1 mile easy in between (we took a bit longer after the 4 and 3 mile splits to top off our water bottles). Splits were:
4 mile in 27:54 (7:02/7:01/6:55/6:56 - average pace 6:58)
3 mile in 20:49 (6:56/6:58/6:55 - average pace 6:56)
2 mile in 13:52 (6:59/6:53 - average pace 6:56)
1 mile in 6:43
Followed with injury prevention work and 750 yards of recovery swimming. Foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday:  10 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling mid-day.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Training log - Week ending 8/13/17

This week was 65 miles of running, 30 "miles" of pool-running and 3000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

The week started out cautiously.  Though it never seems that hard when I'm doing it, the "4-3-2-1" workout that I did last Sunday always takes a lot out of me the first time I run it.  My guess is that it's the combination of a) 10 miles of marathon pace work (a hard effort in itself) with b) the distance - 17 miles won't feel long by the end of the cycle, but at that time it was the longest I've run since last December.  (that record has since been eclipsed by this Sunday's long run)

So, I was tired on Sunday.  And, frustratingly, I dealt with some insomnia Sunday night - a feeling that my body just could NOT turn off.

I've learned through hard experience that this insomnia is my early warning sign that I'm overreaching.  I've also learned (again, the hard way) that when I'm starting to dig a hole, the proper response to to back off, not to fight through it.  The quicker I get out of the hole, the better.

So, Monday became even easier than normal.  I wore a belt for pool-running, and kept the effort very easy - just wiggling my legs in the water.   Thus, what would normally the equivalent of an easy run instead became an extended ice bath.

[why didn't I just take the day off?  Because I truly believe that gentle pool-running with the belt works far better for recovery than pure rest.  At least for me.]

[and I'll also note here that one benefit of pool-running with the belt is that I can take the off day that I need and still log the "mileage" that my type A personality demands.  Ugly, but the truth.  Know your weaknesses and work with them.]

I slept far better Monday night, which was a good sign, and felt much better on Tuesday morning, though still a bit tired.  To be stay on the safe side, my coach and I agreed that I'd back off of the pace for Tuesday's workout.  The prescribed workout was 4-5x1200m.  I'd normally run each in 4:2x, but instead I bumped myself back a "group" and let them set the pace - that ended up being a range from 4:40 down to 4:31 for the fourth repeat.

By the fourth repeat, I was feeling pretty darn good, and ready to go for a fifth.  However, my coach split that into an 800 and 400 instead, which I ran at my normal effort.  End result was that I felt great physically and positive mentally after the workout - unquestionably a far better result than if I had gutted out four repeats at my normal pace.

And the rest of the week went very well, with a solid tempo on Friday, and a good long run on Sunday.  All very positive.

I'm clearly in good shape.  The trick now, for the next several weeks, is not to get greedy and try to build even more fitness by hammering workouts, but instead to refine and carefully reinforce the fitness I currently have.

Dailies 

Monday: In the morning, foam rolling, yoga and 8 "miles" pool-running with the belt. 2 "miles" pool-running in the evening.

Tuesday: 11.5 miles, including a track workout of 4x1200 plus 800, 400 in 4:40, 4:36, 4:36, 4:32, 2:54, 82.  Also did injury prevention work at the gym and 1250 yards of recovery swimming.  Foam-rolling at night.

Wednesday: In the morning, 8.5 miles very easy to yoga (8:55), yoga, and then 4 miles very easy (8:40) plus drills and strides.  4 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling in the evening.

Thursday: In the morning, 9 "miles" pool-running and upper body weights and core.  Another 3 "miles" of pool-running and foam rolling at night.

Friday: 11 miles, including a 4 mile tempo on the track in 25:16 (6:25/6:22/6:21/6:08).  Followed with injury prevention work and 1250 yards recovery swimming. Foam rolling at night.

Saturday: 10 miles easy (8:58) followed by drills and four strides, and upper body weights and core.  Foam rolling and 4 "miles" pool-running in afternoon.

Sunday: 21 miles progressive, split as first 7 averaging 8:51 pace, next 6.5 averaging 7:43, last 7.5 averaging 6:52.  Followed with injury prevention work and 500 yards recovery swimming.   Foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Training log - Week ending 8/6/17

This week was 62 miles of running, 28 "miles" of pool-running and 3000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.  (edited to correct the long run - I accidentally left in the long run from two weeks ago...)

I generally think of the 14 week cycle as a few weeks ramping up, then 6 "serious" weeks, followed by taper.  This is week 1 of the serious 6.

It went fairly well.  If you measure workouts by how I felt and how fast I ran, then I had three good workouts this week.  Which is both good and paranoia inducing.

I've done enough marathon training to know that there's a very easy trap to fall into - where you run your workouts just a hair too fast, and get just a bit overconfident.  You accumulate just a bit too much fatigue, and race day fails to live up to the expectations set during your cycle.  And the worst part is - you can't know for sure if this is happening until race day.

The only protection is to be cautious, perpetually mindful of how hard you are working during the cycle.  Asking "do I need to be working this hard?  Can I work a little less and get the same benefit?"
That mindset is completely opposite from the ethos bandied around running sites that whomever works the hardest or cranks out the most mileage runs the fastest on race day.  But it's the best way for the type A personality to marathon train.  Marathoning is about being very patient and cautious for both the cycle and the first 20 miles of the race.

I don't feel like I pushed stuff too hard this week.  But I need to be very careful to ensure that I don't get too enthusiastic (especially given how positive I felt after my workouts this week), and continue to train with what will feel at times like excessive restraint.

Dailies 

Monday: In the morning, foam rolling, yoga and 8 "miles" pool-running. 2 "miles" pool-running in the evening.

Tuesday: 12 miles, including a track ladder workout of 400, 800, 1200, 1600, 1200, 800, 400 in 90, 3:01, 4:29, 5:57, 4:25, 2:49, 83.  Also did injury prevention work at the gym and 1250 yards of recovery swimming.  Foam-rolling at night.

Wednesday: In the morning, 8 miles very easy to yoga (9:07), yoga, and then 4 miles very easy (8:50) plus drills and four strides.  A massage at lunchtime; 4 "miles" pool-running at night..

Thursday: In the morning, upper body weights and core and 9 "miles" pool-running.  Another 1.5 "miles" of pool-running (lightning shut down pool) and foam rolling at night.

Friday: 11 miles, including a long intervals workout of 3200, 1600 in 12:24 (6:18/6:06) and 5:56. Followed with injury prevention work and 1250 yards recovery swimming. Foam rolling at night.

Saturday: 10 miles easy (9:05) followed by drills and four strides, and upper body weights and core.  Foam rolling and 3.5 "miles" pool-running in afternoon.

Sunday: 17 miles 17 miles, including segments of 4, 3, 2, and 1 miles at MP with one mile easy recovery between each. Splits were:
4 miles - 27:30 (6:52/6:54/6:53/6:51 - average pace 6:53)
3 miles - 20:36 (6:55/6:54/6:47 - average pace 6:52)
2 miles - 13:43 (6:53/6:50 - average pace 6:52)
1 mile - 6:37 (allowed to go faster on the last mile if we wanted)..  Followed with injury prevention work and 500 yards recovery swimming.   Foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Training log - Week ending 7/30/17

This week was 38 miles of running, 34 "miles" of pool-running and 2000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

Week 4 of marathon training.  I cut back the mileage significantly after Tuesday to rest up for my mile race Friday.  The race went well, so I was happy with that.

The downside of racing the mile was that I couldn't do my scheduled long run on Sunday.

I know myself, and though I adore racing road miles, they take a lot out of me.  I wouldn't think twice about running 16 miles easy the day after racing a 5K.   But miles are harder on my body, and paradoxically require more recovery.

I actually didn't feel quite as sore after this race as I have after previous ones - perhaps it's because this one was flat, perhaps it's because I didn't have that extra gear that I had earlier when I was focused on shorter distances.  Either way, I was tempted to do 16 on Sunday when I woke up and felt mostly fine.  But I resisted.

I've learned that there are several situations that predispose me for injury.  One is a mile race, another is long distance driving, and a third is sleep deprivation.  I checked all three boxes on Friday night, which meant no long run on Sunday, no matter how good I felt.  Just not worth the risk - especially when the most important weeks of the cycle are coming up.

So instead I did 12 on the road, and then doubled with 8 "miles" in the pool (and yes - I know this sums to 20 miles, but pool-running miles are far easier to recover and absorb than land).  My original plan had been to run 12 on land and then jump immediately in the pool to finish the run.  However, I ended up starting my land run a bit later than planned, and decided to make it into a double (with lunch between) instead.  I honestly don't think the break between the two runs made that much difference.

What was most important was that I did the land run first, and then the pool run.  When doing "combo" runs, I always like to do land, then pool.  This is because the greatest risk of injury is when I'm tired, at the end of my run.  IMHO, it makes much more sense to do the riskiest period of the run in the pool, where it's considerably harder to injure myself.  I worry that tiring my legs out in the pool and then finishing the run on land is playing with fire.

Next week I have my first "4-3-2-1" workout in about a year (segments of 4, 3, 2, 1 miles at marathon pace with one mile recovery).  I love this workout because it plays to my strengths (which is also why I prefer not to do it too often).  So I'm really looking forward to indulging in it again.

Dailies 

Monday: In the morning, yoga and 7.5 "miles" of pool-running.  2.5 "miles" of pool-running and foam rolling at night.

Tuesday: 9.5 miles, including 3 mile warm-up, and then 6x800 in 2:59, 2:56, 2:58, 2:55, 2:55, 2:53. Followed with 2.5 mile cooldown and 1000 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 8.5 miles very easy to yoga (9:12) followed by drills, 4 hill sprints, and upper body/core strengthwork.  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday: In the morning, DIY yoga to stretch hips and 7 "miles" pool-running.  Another 3 "miles" of pool-running and foam rolling at night

Friday: In the morning, a 3 mile shakeout (9:18).  Then drive to Pittsburgh.  DIY yoga to stretch hips followed by 4 mile fartlek warm-up and a mile race in 5:34.  Then drive home.

Saturday: In the afternoon, 1000 yards recovery swimming and 6 "miles" pool-running, followed by foam rolling.

Sunday: 12 miles very easy (8:47) followed by drills.  8 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling in afternoon.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Race Report: Liberty Mile, July 28, 2017

I ran the Liberty Mile in Pittsburgh, PA, finishing in a time of 5:33.86 by my watch (the official results say 5:34 chip time/5:35 gun time - which is consistent).

One sentence in, you're probably wondering some variant of "why did she go all the way to Pittsburgh to run a mile race?  Isn't she in the middle of marathon training?  In DC/Northern Virginia?"

You're not the only one wondering that.  Brian thought I was nuts.  (aside: I am.)  But this trip also made some convoluted/runner-logic sense.

***

I first heard about this race several months ago, when my one-step-up-from-imaginary-friend/RWOL forumite Sam mentioned he was running it.  I checked it out.  Hmm....a road mile.  I love road miles - they're one of my favorite races.  And this one had a separate masters heat with solid prize money.  The prize money was obviously a draw, but so was the separate masters heat - in many races I find myself staring at the women near me, trying to guess how old they are.  Not this time - every woman lined up would be a direct competitor.

The downsides, of course, was the distance between DC and Pittsburgh (just under 250 miles one way).  And the race also fell several weeks into my marathon training cycle.  While the race was on a Friday night, and some people might be able to get away with racing a mile on Friday night and a Sunday morning progressive long run, I'm not one of them.  Racing this mile basically meant a missed week of marathon training.

Oh well.  I had mentally placed the Liberty Mile in the "some other year" file, but ran it past my coach anyway.  And (somewhat to my surprise), he actually really liked the idea.  To him, the missed week of marathon training wasn't a negative but a plus - a good opportunity to take a break.  And this week was a good time to pull back a bit and have some fun - the real meat of my marathon training cycle starts next week.

***

So that was that.  Logistics were going to be a challenge, though.  I looked at flight and train schedules for Pittsburgh, and concluded that neither was a good choice.  More money than I cared to pay for something that wasn't a goal race, and the arrival/departure timing options were lousy also.  So I was driving.

Pittsburgh was also just close enough that it was hard to justify a hotel.  I would have booked a hotel if this had been a morning race, but for an evening race doing Pittsburgh as a day trip was doable, and the most efficient option from both a price and "spending time away from home" perspective.

So, I went to my back-up: Golds Gym.  I checked out the map, and confirmed that there was a Golds Gym right around the corner from the packet pick-up/runner's festival area (which was itself a block or two from the finish and start lines).  Excellent.  I picked up a free "travel pass" from my home Golds.  When arriving in Pittsburgh, I'd present this, sign some forms, and be a member of the Pittsburgh Golds Gym for the evening - meaning I could store my stuff in a locker while I raced, and shower there after.

***

The one thing that I couldn't plan ahead of time was the weather.  Which I wasn't that worried about.  I won't melt if I run in the rain, or blow away in the wind.  And heat/humidity aren't the factors in mile races that they are for longer distances.

But, as luck would have it, the evening of the Liberty Mile was also the evening that a "summer nor'easter" was to blow through, complete with lightning.  Ugh.  Lightning is one of the very rare situations where I won't run outside (the others are substantial ice and wind that is blowing trees over).  I really didn't want to drive 4 hours to find out the race was cancelled.

I debated, and decided to head up anyway.  Since the race was so short, they'd likely shuffle schedules or combine heats rather than cancel altogether - a mile race with heats has a bit more flexibility in timing than a single long distance race.  If the race was cancelled, I'd just head back home and do a 16 miler on Sunday after all.

***

The drive up to Pittsburgh had some challenging aspects.  I left home at 10:00 am (so as to miss heavy traffic).  Unfortunately, this was about the time the first of the heavy rain squalls moved into the DC area.    Just crossing the American Legion Bridge into Maryland was a miserable experience, and I-270 north wasn't much better.  Slogging through stop-and-go traffic in a downpour that was overwhelming my windshield wipers, that Sunday 16 miler was sounding better and better.  I decided that if things hadn't improved by the time I hit Frederick, MD, I was turning around.

But fortunately. somewhere north of Urbana, MD (just south of Frederick) the rain and the traffic eased.  And from there, it was a relatively easy and scenic drive.  I've never driven to Pittsburgh before, so it was a bit touristy.  I got to drive under a mountain, and that was really cool.

About 4 hours and 45 minutes after leaving DC, having refueled my car for the return voyage, I parked my car at the garage next to Golds, and then parked myself at Golds.  I hung out there or in the nearby Market Square, eating my pre-race meal, reading my kindle, and stretching, until it was time to warm up for the race.  It was overcast, but so far only breezy and light on-and-off rain, not the predicted apocalypse.

***

My heat was scheduled to start at 7:25, but I started to warm up at 6 pm.  This is very early, even for me.  My reasoning was that there was a solid chance the start times of the heats would be changed with little notice to work around the weather.  To that point, the race had specified that runners should be in the starting area 30 minutes before their scheduled race.  I inferred from that statement that the start times might be moved up by as much as 30 minutes with little notice, and so I planned my warm-up as if I was racing at 6:55.    If the race did start at the normal time, I could just extend my warm-up.  The nice thing about being in marathon training was that adding an extra mile or two to my warm-up wouldn't affect my mile race at all.

My warm-up was the same old mile warm-up.  Jog some miles easy, then run 2 segments of 30 to 90 seconds very hard.  Since I never feel good in the first interval of a workout, I try to get that out of the way before the race.  Then drills.  Plus some strides right before the race starts.

My heat did end up starting at the normal time, so I just repeated part of my warm-up again with about 20 minutes to go - jogging another half mile plus another 90 seconds HARD.  Then more drills and strides, and I lined up.

***

As I expected, I didn't recognize any of the other women on the start line, and thus had no idea how this would play out.  Since I was going for prize money, I needed to start very close to the line.  However, this was a mixed masters heat, and so there were men who were not prize money contenders who nevertheless would be faster than me.   In this situation, I always start in one "corner" or the other, so that I don't block others.

A group of women, all presumably going for the money, were grouped on the righthand edge of the line.  After thinking for a moment, I took the left hand corner.  This was for two reasons - one, I could see that about 50 meters ahead, the course narrowed from the right.  Someone starting on the far right could get blocked in there.  Second, I wanted to be able to run the first 5 or 10 seconds of my race ignorant of what the other women were doing, so I could set my own rhythm.

I could see the argument for starting on the right - the course does a U turn to the right at the half-way point.  But I decided the cost of the extra 5 feet I was adding to my race was balanced out by the benefits of starting on the left.

***
The course, from the USATF website.

***

With 10 minutes to go, we were called to the line.  About 2 minutes before the gun, the rain started to fall, again.  At least it wasn't heavy.  (and as it turns out, it apparently faded away during my race, since it wasn't raining much when I finished)

Then the gun went off.  I took a few quick strides to get off the line and out of the way of others, and then established my rhythm.  I wanted to come through the first 400 controlled before gently building.  After feeling my rhythm, I looked for the other women .  There were at least seven women, and likely more, in front of me.  As always, I briefly fought the urge to panic, reminding myself that leading a mile race in the first 200m was rarely a guarantee of success.  A mile can be a very very long race.  I'd stick with my plan to stay controlled through 400 before building.

Sure enough, by the time I hit 400m (this race has markers and clocks at the 400, 800, and 1200 marks) many of the women were starting to come back to me.  I did glance at the 400m clock as I ran by it and noted "1:18."  A bit fast, but it felt fine (I think in retrospect we may have had a tailwind).  If nothing else, I was glad I hadn't gone out faster.

Over the next 200-300m, I began to reel in the other women.  I tried to be patient, reminding myself that we still had a long way to go.  There was one woman in a black sports bra who kept pulling further ahead - she had been about 4 seconds ahead at the 400m, and her lead was growing.

There was really no debate about trying to catch her at that pace.  Either she was simply much faster than me, or she was going to blow up big time.  Regardless of which held true, my best strategy was continuing my own steady build.

This race has a series of three right turns in short succession at the halfway point.    Things got a bit dicey here as people interacted trying to hold "the rail."  Puddles and torn up pavement didn't help either.  I lost some pace here, but so did everyone else.  By this point, I had passed quite a few women, and was in fourth.  As we exited the turn and headed to the finish line (about 600 m in the distance), I picked up the pace yet again, and pulled past one and then the other.

There was now just black sports bra woman ahead of me, but she was way too far to catch.  I wasn't going to win female masters, but second was mine with a strong finish.   I reached for an additional gear, but it wasn't there - I had that weird "I could go longer at this same pace but no faster" feeling.  Oh well - my fastest was all I could give.

As I approached the last 200m of the race, I started to stiffen.  There was a pack of men just ahead of me, so I distracted myself with them.  They were slowing, and so I chased down as many as I could before the finish.   I found that, as I did so, my gait became more fluid.  Basically, I locked up when I was worrying about holding off the runners behind me, but loosened up when chasing those ahead.  So that's a note for the future - focus on what's ahead of you, not what's behind.

I crossed the line in second, satisfied.  It wasn't the masters win I had hoped for, but I had run a solid race - the first woman was simply faster.  I did note that I was nowhere near as trashed as I had been after my last two mile races this year.  I had to place my hands on my knees and catch my breath, but no wobbling over to a curb to sit down.  I think that echoes the same thing I noted during the race - I don't have the same speed in my legs that I did earlier this year (most likely due to marathon mileage), and so I couldn't hit quite the same intensity.

***

After the race, I hung out to watch Sam run the under-40 heat, and then the two elite heats.  I've never had the chance to watch the conclusion of a mile race of this caliber before, and it was amazing to witness from 20 feet away just how ridiculously fast Ben Blankenship and Emily Lipari can kick.

Then (after confirming my check for $300 would be mailed to me), I headed to Golds to shower and change, and texted Brian that I was heading home.  I left Pittsburgh at 8:30 pm - a bit later than planned because I stayed to watch the elite heats, but it was worth it.

The drive home was...a drive.  I had packed an overnight bag to give me the option of staying at a hotel if I started nodding off during the drive, but I was fine.  I'm usually buzzed for hours after an evening race, and this one was no different.

The drive itself was a bit tough - the further I was from Pittsburgh the worse the weather got, with wind gusts that rocked my car and puddles of water that yanked at my steering wheel.  All punctuated by urgent chirps from my cell phone informing me that yet another flash flood warning was in effect.  But I just eased up on the speed, telling myself I was in no rush.  I had streaming NPR on satellite radio, so a longer drive was just more time to catch up on world events (or soak in my wannabe east coast elitism, depending on perspective).

Interestingly, I also noted that the quality of the drivers decreased dramatically the closer I got to DC.  On the Pennsylvania turnpike and into western Maryland, there was a vibe of "we're all in this together."  Nearly everyone one was driving reasonably for the conditions - staying right except for passing; slowing down when the rain was at its worst.

Not so in DC.  Once I hit 270, the idiocy increased, and by the time I hit the beltway, it was epic.  Every accident I drove past was in the last 30-40 minutes of a drive that took a bit over 4 hours.  Had the drive been like that in Pennsylvania, I would exited and crashed at a hotel for the night.

But finally, I was home, arriving around 12:45 am.  Long day.  But a fun one, and I'm happy I did it.

Returning to the opening notes of this race report - some may say that spending nearly 10 hours of driving to race for about 5 and a half minutes is insanity.   I left my house at 10 am and returned at 12:45 am - so this race adventure took 14:45 hours.

Riposte: I have friends (doubtless the same ones who think I'm insane for driving this far for a mile), who run races in the middle of the wilderness that are 100km or more in length, and can take more than 20 hours to complete. My adventure took less time, and I undoubtedly feel better now and will recover quicker from my mile race than you feel or recover after your ultra marathon.  And I got to stay in civilization and listen to a lot of NPR to boot.

So there.

Other notes:


  • This is a really well run race.  I've raced road miles before, but never one that was a major event, complete with finish festival, media coverage, elite field.  I definitely want to run it again.
  • This race had signs and clocks at the 400m, 800m, and 1200m points, and also signs for 200m and 100m to go.  In a road mile race, when it's hard to judge where you are, that stuff is really helpful.
  • Official conditions for my race were 73 degrees and rain.  As I noted above, I think it only rained for the first minute or so of my race before drying out.  There were gusts of wind from all sides, but I think we were sheltered enough that it didn't make too much difference.  The wet pavement and the bunching up at the half-way point turn were the biggest obstacles to a fast time.
  • I'm both happy and disappointed with the time itself. I honestly had no idea what I was going to run - I have that 5:25 from earlier in the year, but that was with fresher legs, and was in clear, dry weather.  I would have liked to have broken 5:30 again, but it's not the end of the world that I didn't.  I had fun, and I've clearly retained much of my speed from this spring as I head into the heaviest part of the marathon cycle, so that's good.
  • Broke out my Adidas Takumi Sen Boosts for this - best short distance race shoe ever.  I don't know what I'm going to do when this pair wears out.  (they only come in mens, and finding them in size 5.5 is just about impossible - I had to order this current pair from Japan.)
  • I've tried to figure out for some time exactly what I love so much about road miles.  I think that it's the closest I ever come, from an adrenaline/emotional perspective, to my old days jumping horses at speed.    The tension at the start line tastes very much like what I felt when I trotted in the gate and heard "the beep" clearing me to start my round.  And the mile race itself is very much like a jump off - there's no time to question - you just react.  There's just so much more adrenaline in the mile, and (as a recovering adrenaline junkie) it's awesome to get a hit of that.