Sunday, January 25, 2015

Training log - Week ending 1/25/2015

This week was 68 miles of running, 5 "miles" of pool-running and 3000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

This week was fun, in that it illustrated just how much of a difference weather conditions can make.

For much of the week I was in chilly DC, which was just about perfect temperature for running.  But I flew down to Tampa on Wednesday for a two day conference, returning on Friday afternoon.  Which meant that I did Friday's scheduled workout of two miles at tempo/half-mile jog/one mile hard in Florida, on a bike trail abutting Old Tampa Bay.

It was tough getting out there,
but I dug deep.
Tampa in the morning was in the high 60s temperature-wise, with noticeable though not oppressive humidity.  Nothing horrible, but still a shock to my January-in-DC prepped system.  Of course, this was no reason not to run the workout, since I was doing it by effort anyway, rather than targeting a pace.  So I donned my big girl panties and started.

(I appreciate your thoughts and well wishes, BTW.  Few things are more emotionally draining then having to travel to Florida in January, and then having to run your workout along a beach while you're there.  *insert inspiring twitter-esque statement followed by #HTFU*)

I ended up running the two mile in about the same pace I had run the previous week, and with the same perceived effort.  That was a pleasant surprise, given the summer-like weather, and I started to feel really positive about my fitness. 

I continued on, jogging the half mile recovery, then turned around to start the hard mile and realized I had been benefitting from a roughly 20 MPH tailwind....  And that was how I ended up doing my "hard" mile at a pace 10 seconds slower than I had just held for my tempo two miler...

Returned to DC, and did my coach's "4-3-2-1" marathon pace workout on Sunday in absolutely perfect weather.  Let's do some geeky number crunching.

  • Friday: temp of 67, dew point low 60s, strong headwind.  Ran the mile in 6:44 as the second part of what should have been a fairly easy workout, with a heart rate that maxed out at 182.  Perceived exertion: "this sucks."
  • Sunday: temp of 40, dew point in the 20s, no wind.  Ran a mile in 6:35 (after having already put 15 miles in for the day), with a HR that maxed out at 170.  Perceived exertion: "this is kinda fun - I love this workout."
Lesson: paces never tell the whole story.


Monday:   5 "miles" easy pool-running, some upperbody strengthwork and injury prevention work, and yoga; foam rolling at night.

Tuesday:  10.5 miles, including 7x800 (3:05, 3:02, 3:00, 2:59, 2:59, 2:57, 3:00, followed by some injury prevention work and 2000 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 3.5 miles very easy (9:08), followed by a yoga class and then 10 miles very easy (8:40), followed by 4 hill sprints. Foam rolling right after, then caught plane to Tampa.

Thursday:   6 miles very easy (9:08), followed by some drills, some upperbody strengthwork and injury prevention work, and foam rolling.

Friday:  11 miles, including a workout of 3200 tempo +1600 hard (~5 minutes jogging rest between each).  Splits were 13:09 (6:38/6:31) and 6:44.   Flew back to DC in afternoon, and foam-rolled when I got home.

Saturday:   10 miles easy (8:18), followed by drills and strides, and upper body strengthwork/injury prevention work.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday:  17 miles as a "4-3-2-1" workout - segments of 4, 3, 2, and 1 mile at marathon pace, each separated by one mile easy.  Splits were:

4 mile: 28:04 (7:06/7:00/6:58/7:00) ~7:01 pace
3 mile: 20:55 (7:03/6:57/6:55) ~ 6:58 pace
2 mile: 13:34 (6:49/6:45) ~ 6:47 pace
1 mile: 6:35

This was much faster then I was planning, but the perceived effort and heart rate were right where they should have been, and I was able to speak in complete sentences, so I went with it.  Followed with a yoga class and then 1000 yards quick shakeout swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Training log - Week ending 1/18/15

This week was 66 miles of running, 4 "miles" of pool-running and 4000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

Another week in the books.  I'm starting to feel a lot stronger and fitter, which is nice.

I think this improved sense of fitness relates to how I've been approaching this spring.  More specifically, one of my big goals right now is to keep the pace of my workouts under control to the point where I feel like I'm slacking off.  It's a leap of faith, but it seems to be working well for me - I'm seeing gains from week to week.

As background for why I'm "blowing off" my workouts - I've kept my training log since I first started running back in 2007.  With a record that long, I can browse back through it and identify trends.  There are a few things that seem to be correlated with my best fitness at the 5K-half distance: 

1) consistent weekly mileage in the low to mid 60s;
2) regular long runs of 16-17 miles (just slightly over 2 hours), run as a progression;
3) focusing more on the volume of my workouts than the speed - eight to ten 800m repeats at a controlled pace do more for me then six repeats at lung searing effort.
4) running my workouts at about 75% effort - trying to stay relaxed and resisting the temptation to dig deep or try to hang onto a pack.
5) racing at 95% effort, rather than giving it my all.

[what's correlated with failure/injury? Short hard running (mile races, 200s), slacking off on yoga/crosstraining, lack of a weekly long run, balls to wall track workouts, low weekly mileage, back to back days of hard running, aggressive plyometrics, stress at work, lack of sleep, not eating protein post workout]

The first two are easy; the third is a bit harder, in part because the final two points are very challenging for me.  I tend to be a "give it everything you got every single time" type person, which makes it very hard to keep the brakes on.  Especially when my teammates are digging deep - I feel like I'm abandoning them.  But running my workouts hard seems to fry me - it's too much stress for me to recover from before the next workout, and so I dig myself into a hole, and don't improve.

I can see how other runners who are more explosive or younger can see greater gains from working hard in their training and being willing to hurt a bit.  But for me, the optimal workout effort is where I feel sheepish because I'm not working anywhere near as hard as I could, or as others are.  And that's the effort I'm really trying to target the next few weeks.


Monday:   Yoga, some upperbody strengthwork and injury prevention work, and 4 "miles" easy pool-running; foam rolling at night.

Tuesday:  11.5 miles, including 8 hill repeats, followed by some injury prevention work and 1200 yards easy swimming.  Sports massage in afternoon.
Wednesday: 10.5 miles very easy (9:09), followed by a yoga class. Foam rolling in afternoon.

Thursday:   4 miles very easy (9:03), followed by a yoga class.  Later, another 4 miles very easy (8:39), and some upperbody strengthwork and injury prevention work,.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  10 miles, including a cruise interval workout of 2x3200+1600 (~5 minutes jogging rest between each).  Splits were 13:16 (6:40/6:36); 13:06 (6:37/6:29); and 6:17.   Followed with some injury prevention work and 1700 yards easy swimming.    Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:   10 miles easy (8:27), followed by  upper body strengthwork/injury prevention work.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday:  16 miles mostly easy, but with the last 4.5 at 7:32 pace.  Then bolted home for hot shower (it was 35 degrees and steady rain, and I stupidly ran in a long sleeve t-shirt and shorts under the assumption that the rain would be clearing soon - it didn't).  In the afternoon did some injury prevention work, a yoga class, and 1100 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Training log - Week ending 1/11/2015

This week was 66 miles of running and 3000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

Surprisingly, this ended up being a solid week of training.  Surprising because of the weather we had - a snowstorm on Tuesday morning was responsible for cancelling my team's hill workout on Tuesday, and also messing up many of the local running routes through the rest of the week.  A blast of abnormally cold weather (single digits aren't normal for DC, even in January) added some more complexity.

Fear not, though, intrepid reader.  In DC, we have a great resource - the Whitehurst Freeway. 
We don't run on the freeway itself, but this elevated highway has another road directly under it - Water Street - which is always free of snow and ice.  So that's where we run when nowhere else is open. 

Runs under the Whitehurst are always time/effort based, because there's no good way to assess distance/pace.  Garmins don't get good signal under it, and you have to vary your route enough with each lap (dodging cars, other runners, pot holes) that you can't just treat it like a trail or track.  For myself, when doing easy runs I just assume that every 8:30 minutes is a mile; workouts are done by running between certain landmarks, but focusing on effort and feel.

I spent a lot of time under the Whitehurst this week.  On Tuesday morning I ran there because it was literally the only outside option (I can mentally handle treadmills, but they often seem to aggravate my ankle issues - I think it's the softness of the belt, among other things).  I had initially planned on just running easy on Tuesday, but about 20 minutes into the run I was a) cold, b) lonely and bored, and c) thinking way too much about my recently departed kitty.  So I ended up doing intervals not out of dedication, but rather because intervals would be a warming diversion.

Wednesday we ran some under the Whitehurst as well, though we also explored the sidewalks of DC
What the track looked like
post snow-storm.
(still treacherous in parts).  Thursday I ran on the beautifully cleared trails of Arlington County, but Friday I went back to Georgetown and a cleared waterfront trail for a tempo workout with my team.  I have to admit, I'd much rather do a tempo on the Georgetown waterfront than the track - it was much more visually interesting, and lacked the constant turning of the track. 

By the weekend, the trails of DC were mostly passable (with some bad sections), so we did our long runs "normally," though I ended up having to split my marathon effort section on my Sunday long run into sections, due to the occasional lengthy patch of ice.


Monday:   Yoga and some injury prevention/strengthwork; foam rolling at night.

Tuesday:  an estimated 11 miles, including a workout under the Whitehurst of 10x~660m (about 2:30-2:50 in time) with 2:00 recoveries. (splits were 2:48, 2:42, 2:41, 2:41, 2:39, 2:35, 2:36, 2:35, 2:36, 2:29).  Followed with lower body strengthwork and injury prevention work, plus 800 yards swimming.  Foam rolling at night
Wednesday: 11 miles very easy (9:11 pace), followed by a yoga class. Sports massage at night.

Thursday:   A yoga class followed by 8 miles very easy (9:08).  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  An estimated 11.5 miles, including a tempo effort workout of a bit over 5 miles (4 laps, with each lap ~1.33 miles).  Splits for the four laps were 9:25, 9:10, 9:05, and 9:08 (but added a bit on to the last lap, so most likely my last lap was actually the fastest).  Followed with lower body strengthwork and injury prevention work, plus 1200 yards swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:   In the morning, 10 miles very easy run (8:37) followed by a quick upper body strength/injury prevention workout and some foam rolling.
Sunday:  14.5 miles, mostly easy/moderate, but with segments towards the end of ~2.5 miles at 6:59 pace and ~1.5 miles at 7:04 pace, split by about a half mile jogging carefully over ice).  Followed with yoga.  In the afternoon did 1000 yards easy swimming, plus some foam rolling.   

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Training log - Week ending 1/4/2015

This week was 58 miles of running, 5 "miles" of pool-running, 3 "miles" on the arc-trainer, and 4000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

I lost Mina this week.  That's pretty much it. 


Monday:   Yoga, some injury prevention/strengthwork, and 3 "miles" on the arc-trainer for the "fun" of it; foam rolling at night.

Tuesday:  5 miles very easy (8:43 pace), a yoga class, and some injury prevention work/lower body strength work.  Later did another 6 miles easy (8:38).  Foam rolling at night
Wednesday: 12 miles very easy (8:34 pace), followed by 2000 yards of swimming. Foam rolling in afternoon.

Thursday:   6 miles very easy (8:32) followed by a yoga class and some upper body strengthwork/injury prevention work.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  10 miles, including 5K at tempo effort (21:25 - 6:59/6:53/6:47/0:46) followed by a mile hard (6:12).  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:   In the morning, 5 "miles" pool-running (elected to stick to the pool since I wasn't really focused enough mentally to be safe running outside) plus a yoga class.  In the afternoon did a 4 mile very easy run (8:32) followed by foam rolling.
Sunday:  14 miles, mostly easy, but with the last 3 at marathon effort (averaging 7:09).  Followed with yoga and 750 yards easy swimming.   Foam rolling in the evening.

Sunday, January 4, 2015


Mom gave me this framed cartoon back in 2001.

My weakness is that I want to save them all.

Which made that visit to Washington Animal Rescue League such a challenge.  This was back in 2000, when WARL still let you roam a room where different cats were in individual cages, their names and a brief personality description on front.

But I could only take one, and so I had a choice to make.  I struggled.  Until I decided that I'd just pick the cat least likely to be adopted otherwise.  That was one "Socks" - a black adult female, 18 months old, who glowered and hissed from the back of her cage. 

Socks' description was less than enticing - "not appropriate for families with children," "not appropriate for homes with other pets."  There were other words too - I don't remember the exact phrasing, but it was essentially a diplomatic statement that those looking for lap kitties and close companions should choose elsewhere.

So I chose Socks.   I had just started my first "real job" as a first year associate at a large law firm, and I really couldn't offer attention.  What I could provide was shelter, food, water, and vet care, and that was apparently all Socks wanted.

So, I signed some forms and took Socks home in a borrowed carrier.  On the way, I decided to rename her "Aramina" - a tribute to my beloved childhood cat Arabella, who had also been very standoffish.

(I later found out that "Aramina" is also the name of a Filipino starlet, a town in Brazil, a town in Nigeria, and a Barbie doll.  Who knew?)


When I got home, I opened up the front door of the carrier.  The newly monikered Aramina made no attempt to exit, even when coaxed by food and water.  I gave her an hour or so, leaving the room, but when I returned, she hadn't moved. 

This was a problem, as the carrier had to be returned.  And I didn't want to kick off our relationship by forcibly dragging her from the one place she felt safe. 

After a few moments, I realized that the top of the carrier could be removed if I undid some screws.  So I took the carrier apart, prompting a black streak to exit stage right.

And that was the last I saw of Aramina for some time.  I knew she was there - the water and food bowls needed regular attention, and she had discovered the litter box on her own.  But other than the biological evidence, there was no sign of a cat.  Which was fine - I would have liked to have seen her once in a while, but I was also working pretty hard, and I hadn't expected anything more than a pet food bill and a litter box commitment. 

It was amusing - I would travel for work, and ask a friend to check the food/water/box while I was gone.  Invariably I'd get a call:

"I'm a bit worried - I haven't seen her once?  I think she's still there because the food's getting eaten, but I thought you should know...."

I'd laugh and reassure them that that was just Aramina, and everything was fine.


I can't quite remember when it happened, but at some point I started seeing a black object in the hallway, which would scamper off if I turned my head in her direction.  Then more baby steps.  She'd return my gaze.  She'd sit in the same room as me.  She'd watch as I topped off her food.

Then one day, she hopped on my couch.  It was awesome.  The cat I thought I'd never see had come so far.  Me and the shy little black kitty, sitting on opposite ends of the same couch.

She outdid herself again, soon after, tentatively crawling up on my lap.  After a shocked minute of silence, I held my finger out and she rubbed her head on it, and we were best friends.

Selfie - bedside reading mode enabled.
In fact, we were inseparable.  When I came home, she was in my lap.  When I showered, she'd hop up on the tub edge, between the shower curtain and the shower liner - as close as she could be without getting wet.  When I went to bed, she'd curl up on top of me as I read.  When I turned the light off, she'd hop off and do an inspection lap of the condo before hopping back onto my pillow and kneading the back of my neck with her claws (I learned to wrap my head and neck in a towel when sleeping).


And so we went on, best of friends.  I couldn't believe my luck.  So many emotionally rough moments in those first years - all the stresses of law firm life, 9/11, the sniper attacks.  And when I'd get teary in those horrible terrible times, she'd jump in my lap and purr with all her might while rubbing my face until I settled.

She'd still vanish for strangers.  Every time someone came over, be it repairman, friend, romantic visitor, and/or catsitter, they'd ask the same question.

"Are you sure there's a cat here?"

"Yes.  She's just a bit shy around strangers."


In early 2003, I took her in for a routine vet exam, and the vet noticed a murmur.  That led to an ultrasound appointment, and a diagnosis of an enlarged heart and tachycardia - hypertrophic cardiomyopathy ("HCM").  I asked the vet what the prognosis was - he evaded the question and told me we'd try betablockers to see if they made a difference.

And then I went home and looked up HCM on line.  And didn't like what I saw in terms of prognosis.   It was horrible - about two months earlier my horse Tony had been euthanized after he broke his leg in the field - I couldn't handle this again, so soon. 

I wasn't ready.  I was only in my 20s, and she was still so young.

But all I could do was faithfully pill her - a half pill in the morning and a quarter pill at night.  And so I did.  And when we came back for our follow-up ultrasound, her heart was much reduced in size and the heart rate notably slower.  The vet and I both beamed. 


And so time passed. Each year was borrowed time, treasured dearly. 

Brian and Mina, sacked out together.
Brian and I started dating and she fell in love with him too - running up to greet him when he entered, playing games with him, climbing over him like furniture when he sat down. 

When we went to bed, she'd cheerily clamber back and forth between the two of us before settling down for the night - either between us as a furry chaperone, or on my head like a fuzzy chapeau, purring with the utmost certainty that nothing else in the world mattered but her family and a warm bed.


In late 2012, I noticed that she was acting oddly.  Hiding under furniture and walking like she was hung over.  It was Sunday, so I ran her over to the emergency vet clinic, where she was hospitalized for days with a diagnosis that finally resolved as chronic kidney disease.  It was scary and horrible -  her values kept falling and she refused to eat. 

I wasn't ready for this.  It was too soon.  I was only in my 30s, and she was still so young.

But all I could do was tearfully ask if I was allowed to visit her in the ICU before she passed.  Apparently, there was no restriction on owners in the ICU (I was confused) and so I came immediately.  And when I showed up, she raised her head weakly, then lumbered over to rub my face, before turning to start nibbling at her food dish, to the great excitement of the vet on duty.
Mina in the ICU

Her values started improving immediately, and a day later she was released to my care, along with instructions to give her a 1/4 tab of Pepsid twice a day, as well as subcutaneous injections of fluids to keep her adequately hydrated. 

I was a bit nervous about giving her shots, especially by myself with no one to restrain her, but there was nothing else to do but try.  And amazingly enough, it quickly became easy and routine.  Just draw the fluids, scruff her, inject her, and toss her a treat while disposing of the needle in the sharps box.

It was a game to her sometimes though - she knew when it was that time, and she'd trot off with her tail high like a flag, making me chase her from room to room until I'd finally trap her.  That was only when I was healthy, though.  If I was injured and hobbling, or very stiff and sore from a race, she'd walk up to me when it was time for medication or shot, and let me pick her up, no fuss.


And so we continued on, pills in the morning and at night, shots every other day, borrowed time so very precious.  I'd get upset at something, and she'd purr until I settled.  She'd puke up stomach acid (not unusual for a kidney disease cat) or a hairball and I'd clean it.

And then the Monday before Christmas, I noticed a bit of blood in her stomach acid.  It was bright red (less concerning than dark), and I figured it was likely from a cut in her mouth.  But still worth calling the vet about.  The vet asked that I drop her off so they could check her out.

An x-ray and an ultrasound later, the news was grim.  She had significantly inflamed intestines and a tumor on her liver.  In a 16 year old cat, the most likely diagnosis was cancer, with palliative care the kindest choice.

And I wasn't ready.  I was only in my 40s, and she was still so young.

But all I could do was choose palliative care, order the pills, and go on.  And for the first days she thrived.  We had no prognosis for her, since we had no confirmed diagnosis.  But I grew hopeful as she acted younger and younger, more energetic, happier.

This is what you would have seen
if you were a webcam on
Friday afternoon, 2 pm.
And then, late on Friday afternoon, after a wonderful day spent with me working under her close supervision, she crashed.    She was gone quickly, saving me from the hard choice I was prepared for but dreading.  One final kindness from a shelter kitty who gave me so much more than I gave to her.

I wasn't ready. 

And I would never be ready, no matter how old I was. 

In the end, we're all imposters when it comes to handling loss.  And that's a good thing, I guess.

But it hurts like hell.


I wish there was some way I could have kept just a tiny bit of her forever.  I wish I was good with a camera.  I wish I could paint.  I wish I was better with words. 

I wish that "happily ever after" wasn't followed by "the end."

After all these years, I still can't believe how lucky I was.

Aramina - ?, 1999 to January 2, 2015

Monday, December 29, 2014

Training log - Week ending 12/28/2014

This week was 44 miles of running, 17 "miles" of pool-running and 4000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

A bit of a rough week - on Monday I learned that my beloved elderly cat had both inflamed intestines and a liver tumor indicated on an ultrasound.  A tumor isn't always cancer, but in a cat of her age (almost 16) with these findings, cancer is at the top of the list for suspected diagnoses.
Aramina, during a previous hospitalization.

So, that was a cue to a very stressful week.  I've learned that stress in other parts of my life predisposes me to injury and overtraining - I don't recover that well when I'm sleeping, and when I'm distracted, I'm more likely to take bad steps and twist things, etc. 

And despite backing off on my training some, that was what happened.  From an overanalytic standpoint, it was interesting to note just how high my resting HR got as I worried over my cat.  And sure enough, I also took a bad step with my left foot on Wednesday, which aggravated both ankles - the left from twisting it, and the right (my "bad ankle" to begin with) from having to catch myself.  So I backed off the rest of the week - opting for pool-running on Christmas day and keeping my other runs easy pace wise - using hard swimming and pool-running intervals to get the HR up.

And yes, there was a pool open on Christmas morning, at the Jewish Community Center in Rockville Maryland, which was fortunately on the way to my parents' house (and by "on the way" I mean "in the same state").

As for sweet kitty, we met with the oncologist the day after Christmas for a consult.  In a nutshell, it might be cancer, or it might not - it's possible that the inflamed intestines are a result of her kidney disease, and the tumor appears cystic on ultrasound (so not obviously cancerous at first glance). 

But, there's no way to know for certain -- we can't do a biopsy or aspiration to check for cancer, since she can't be sedated or anesthetized, due to her high blood pressure, heart murmur, and kidney disease.  So, we're instead giving her some meds to reduce the intestinal inflammation and watching the tumor to see if it grows or stays consistent.

(obvious question - why don't I put the poor old kitty with kidney disease, a heart defect, high blood pressure, and now possibly intestinal cancer to sleep?  Well, kitty is still enjoying life, playful, snugly, eating and pooping well, acting like a cat half her age, and doesn't seem to be in any pain.  And she doesn't mind being pilled or getting shots, and handles vet visits well.  I'm not going to do any treatment that makes her uncomfortable - palliative care only.  But as long as she's happy and comfortable, we'll keep going.)

Of course, this new veterinary regimen makes for tricky scheduling.  She's now on five meds (carafate, budesonide, atenolol, amlodipine, and pepsid), and one of the drugs (carafate) has to be given every 12 hours, and at a spacing of 2 hours from it and any other meds/food.   So, my workout schedule has been a bit chaotic while I try to figure out how to combine it with cat care (and also work). 

And yes, Aramina now has her own "training log" on Google Calendar, where I document the times of her daily meds, and also her eating and her poo (I kid you not - poo is very important here).  I'm not planning on giving her her own blog, though.  I have to draw the line somewhere.


Monday:   Yoga and 6 "miles" easy pool-running; foam rolling at night.

Tuesday:  7.5 miles, including 6 hill repeats, followed by some injury prevention work.  Foam rolling at night
Wednesday: 10 miles very easy (9:25).  Later did a yoga class and 1500 yards of swimming. Foam rolling in afternoon.

Thursday:   6 "miles" of beltless pool-running, followed by injury prevention work.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  4 miles easy (8:25), some lower body injury prevention work, and 2500 yards of swimming, including a hard 6x100 on 2:00 in 1:38.67, 1:38.73, 1:40.40 (but hit late), 1:39.48, 1:39.64, 1:39.47, followed by a tempo effort set of 200/150/100/5x50 on 2:00 (splits were 3:27.97, 2:33.84, 1:42.98, 50.67, 50.77, 49.72, 51.02, 50.44).  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:   11 miles easy (8:24), followed by yoga and upper body strengthwork.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday:  11 miles very easy (9:04 pace), followed by 6 "miles" pool-running, including a set of 10x3:00 hard, 1:00 easy.  Yoga and foam rolling in the afternoon.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Training log - Week ending 12/21/14

This week was 52.5 miles of running, 9 "miles" of pool-running and 3000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

Not too much to report here - still coming back.  I did my first bit of harder running on Friday with a tempo - the tempo was pretty slow, which is partially because I'm really trying to keep my workouts controlled, and partially because I'm out of shape, both mentally and physically.

I'm still playing with the running metrics on my 920.  I'm sure they're of limited value in the end (just like paces and HR), but fun to geek about.  Two things I noticed:

1) cadence - I generally have a fairly high cadence - about 190-195.  What was interesting is how much that cadence can change based on circumstances.  Below, the first picture is my cadence for an easy run on a fairly hilly route where I was also dodging puddles and pedestrians, stopping at lights, etc.  Next is my cadence for the 2x3200 on Thursday.  The difference between the two (variable on left, very steady on right) is exactly what you'd expect to see, but still interesting.  (you can click on each picture to enlarge it).

2) ground contact time.  On Saturday, an easy run turned into a hard run for the last few miles - the change in ground contact time really stands out.

Neat, huh?


Monday:   Yoga and 3 "miles" easy pool-running; foam rolling at night.

Tuesday:  10.5 miles easy (8:47 pace), 1500 yards swimming, and some injury prevention work.  Foam rolling at night
Wednesday: 4 miles easy to yoga (9:10 pace), a yoga class, and then another 4 miles home (8:31).  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Thursday:   10 miles, including a sleepy tempo workout of 2x3200 (split as 13:59 -7:09/6:50 and 13:30 - 6:51/6:39).  Followed with injury prevention work and 1500 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  Yoga and 6 "miles" easy pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:   10 miles as an unplanned progression run- averaging 8 mile pace, but picked it up, finishing the last two miles at roughly 6:45 pace (my coach told me to pick it up - apparently I overdid it). Followed with upper body strengthwork.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday:  14 miles easy (8:43 pace), yoga, and injury prevention work.  Foam rolling at night.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Training log - Week ending 12/14/2014

This week was 45 miles of running, 7 "miles" of pool-running and 4000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

Recovery week #3.  Still a bit tired, but definitely starting to feel more normal.  By the end of the week, I had built up to a 12 mile run - it wasn't terribly challenging from an energy standpoint, but did leave me pretty achy after.   It's definitely taken me longer to recover from Philly than from Shamrock, but that makes sense, given the thrashing I gave my quads.  Hopefully in another few days I'll feel ready to get back into training.  I really do miss the workouts.
I also got a new toy this week - a Garmin Forerunner 920xt. 

Did I need a new Garmin?  Well......that depends on your definition of "need."  I've been doing quite well with my 910xt, and have a 310xt as back-up.

Rather, I had a 310xt as back-up until this week. Apparently at some point it sprung a leak in its waterproofing.  It passed in a surprisingly sad splay of air bubbles and screen static during Monday's pool-run.

I named him Homer. 
Cuz no name says
sex like Homer. 
And when I hit the
wrong button I
yell "D'oh"!
Of course, I still had the 910xt.  However, that Garmin was starting to show signs of age - the battery life was half of what it was in its prime, it was starting to forget workouts, and it no longer screen-locked.  Time to put it out to pasture.

And yes, I could have just gotten another 910xt - it's a great watch and now available for a good price.  But I wanted new and shiny.  And I had a gift certificate to blow. 

And that's how I came to own the sex toy pictured at right. 

(it vibrates on command and I purchased with lust in my heart.  Ergo, sex toy). is it?  Well, first of all, anyone interested in the 920xt should read DCRainmaker's review.  Then come back.  (I'll wait).


Truth is, despite the pre-purchase lust, I didn't love this Garmin at first wear the way I loved the 910xt.  I think that's because there's several radical changes between the 920xt and 910xt that required some adjustment. 

For one thing, the design of the watch is subtly different from the earlier Forerunners.  To illustrate, I've posted a picture of all four of my Garmins.  From left to right, they are the 305, the 310xt, the 910xt, and the 920xt.

If you click on the picture to expand, and look closely at the buttons, there are some key differences between the first three models and the 920xt. 

First of all- for the previous editions the bottom two buttons (lap and stop) are actually on the face of the Garmin, just below the screen.  But for the 920xt, the buttons have been relocated below the edge of the face of the watch, closer to the strap itself. 

This shift in lap button location was mildly annoying during my first run with the device - when trying to lap, I kept poking the screen, where those buttons were in the earlier models.  By the end of the run, I had successfully reprogrammed myself to hit the right location, so it's not too hard to unlearn those old habits.  But it does require a bit of adjustment - I wouldn't recommend using this watch for the first time in a race if getting splits is important to you.

Secondly, while the 305, 310xt, and 910xt each have three buttons on the right (up, down, and enter), the 920xt just has two - up and down.  On the 920xt the enter button is also the start/stop and is on the bottom of the watch.  This resulted in a learning curve when navigating the menu - I kept hitting down when I meant to hit enter.

That wasn't the only source of difficulty menu-wise.  The 920xt's menu structure is different from those of the previous models.  I suspect that this is because there are so many additional features in the 920xt that it made more sense to revamp the menu completely than to try to build on the previous.

However, I found the new 920xt user interface (UI) hard to navigate.  With previous Garmins, I never needed to read the user's manual.  The 305/310xt/910xt interface was intuitive.  Not so for the Garmin 920xt - I've had to review the online user manual multiple times to figure out how to do things that were easy before.  I want to blame this on subpar UI design.  However, I do note that I am very used to the old Garmin menu structure, having used them for 7+ years.  Part of my struggles with the UI (and also the button location) are because I've had to break old habits; someone brand new to the Forerunner series, or alternately, a habitual RTFM'er,* will have less issue.  And the happy news is that 48 hours into my ownership, I think I've got the new interface and button locations down.
*RTFM -> "Read the F'ing Manual"
As for the additional functionality itself?  It's fun, though I'm not sure it's an additional $200 worth of fun.  Running-wise, I got additional metrics on running cadence (about 190 for me), vertical oscillation (8 cm) and stride length (1 meter during Sunday's easy run).  I love numbers, but I'm not really sure what I'll do with these.  
The 920xt also has a "recovery advisor", and smugly informed me after Sunday's run that I would need 5 days before I'd be ready to run hard.  I'm moderately annoyed that I've apparently purchased a device that will lecture me on the virtues of rest - I already have a coach, a PT, and a boyfriend for that. 
Swimming-wise, I do like it a lot more than the 910xt - it offers a lot more in the way of display screen options, and allows me to note the distance of drills at the time I'm doing them.  To explain this to non-swimmers - I liked swimming with the 910xt because it automatically counted my laps - letting me know when I had hit a preset distance.  However, it counted laps via the motion of my left arm, which meant that it ignored laps that I used a kick board for, and got confused by one armed swimming drills.  Now, I can add those in as I do them, to keep the overall yard count accurate.  It's a little thing, but it's so much nicer not to have to keep mental count of how many yards I've kicked.   The screen is also brighter and easier to read in the pool.
There's also some lifestyle functions.  It serves as a pedometer, which has proven surprisingly addictive.  Apparently I'm less sedentary than I thought I was - on a non-running day I've still gotten about 13,000 steps in*.  It will also track my sleep at night - tracking how much I moved during the night as a metric of how well I slept.  Of course, I'm not sure how much use this is - if I had a rough night of sleeping, I generally know it. 
*I pace during conference calls or when I'm trying to figure out something.**
**Lawyers love footnotes
Other pluses - much expanded battery life.  It's designed to be worn as a day watch/pedometer too, and so is designed to go several days between charges.  Additionally, it seems to charge extremely quickly when I dock it to upload data - I really have no excuse for running out of juice with it.*  And, as noted before, the screen is very bright and easy to read. 
*These words will haunt me, I'm sure.
Finally, it's lighter and smaller than the 910xt, following a trend of each Garmin being slightly smaller and more comfortable than its predecessor.  It was really interesting to don my old
305 on left, 920xt on right.
305 for comparison purposes - how did I ever wear that thing on my wrist?  Of course, there was also a time when I thought large car phones that plugged into cigarette lighters were amazingly portable, so there you go.
Downsides are that the vibration function is weaker than it was on the 910xt - sometimes I don't notice it.  And when reviewing past workouts on the watch, it doesn't show heart rate data - you have to download the workout to get that.  I find this annoying, because I like to manually input my workouts - I find it actually easier and quicker than importing the data into Runningahead and then correcting GPS errors and adding notes. (ignore the above - I figured it out).
But overall, after owning it for 2 days, I think I'm happy with the purchase.  And it is awfully pretty.


Monday:   4 "miles" easy pool-running; foam rolling at night.

Tuesday:  7 miles very easy (8:38 pace), 1000 yards swimming, and some upper body strengthwork and injury prevention work.  Foam rolling at night
Wednesday: 8.5 miles very easy (8:46 pace) and yoga.  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Thursday:   Upper body strengthwork and injury prevention work, yoga, and 3 "miles" easy pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  10 miles very easy (8:43 pace) and a yoga class.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:   7.5 miles easy (8:28 pace), 1750 yards swimming, and upper body strengthwork.   Foam rolling at night.

Sunday:  12 miles easy (8:28 pace), yoga, and injury prevention work.  Later swam 1250 yards to try out new Garmin (and even out the log).  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Just a quick note: Facebook Blackout Day 2014

So, I'm participating in this event (happening on Monday, December 15) and figured I'd sidetrack my blog to get the word out.

Essentially, Facebook has a policy of forcing everyone to use their "real name" - which may be very different from the name they actually go by or would like to use.  It's a policy that has little effect on white bread middle class mundane people like myself, but is a hardship on many others, including:

  • victims of stalking/domestic violence who are trying to fly undercover;
  • celebrities and children of celebrities who would like to have a normal FB account and not dodge random friending entries every two minutes
  • LGBT individuals who aren't necessarily out to everyone
  • those whose current name doesn't reflect the gender they're transitioning to
  • those who are trying to maintain a sharp division between work life and personal life
  • those who commonly go by a name that is not their "legal" name.
This policy has caused headache and heartache to several of my friends.

Facebook absolutely is a non-governmental institution, and can institute whatever rules it would like.  At the same point, those of us who disagree with those rules can and should express our disagreement with those rules.  Tomorrow's Facebook Blackout Day is a way to do that.  The details are in the link below, but basically you join the event, and then deactivate your Facebook page for the day.

Do I believe it will actually cause change?  Honestly, no.  I think Facebook is too tonedeaf to hear the message.  But I also think there's value in expressing the opinion anyway.

I do believe that people can disagree on this issue - I think the "real name" policy is abhorrent, while others may believe it's not a big deal, and may even believe that Facebook offers sufficient privacy protections to mitigate the concerns of those listed above.  (um....yeah....)

It's an individual choice, and I have no animosity towards those who don't think this protest is needed.  Again, we all have the right to our opinions.  But if you do agree with me and want to participate, a link to the FB Blackout Day event is below.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Training log - Week ending 12/7/2014

This week was 19 miles of running, 10 "miles" of pool-running and 5000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

I started some gentle jogging on Thursday, so 10 days post-marathon.  At that point, the quads were still somewhat sore, but there does seem to be something to "hair of the dog" as a cure.  Or maybe it was the massage I got this week, with instructions to dig into the quads hard.

Whatever it was, I'm happy to report that the quads have finally stopped hurting, except for some twinges when going down stairs.  Took them long enough - it wasn't until Saturday of this week that I was able to jog mostly pain-free (so, just about two weeks).  But I really shouldn't complain too much - the pain was, after all, self-inflicted.

While on the topic of self-inflicted pain, I'll also note that I went in for another follow-up with my PRP/prolotherapy doctor on Tuesday.  We discussed getting a follow-up prolotherapy injection in my right SI joint at some point (previously we did the left, but now that's much better, and the right is weak by comparison).  I decided I wanted to go ahead and get it done; he then offered to try to squeeze me in that same day, so I didn't have to schedule an appointment and come back.  I went ahead and did it, so that was an unscheduled rest day on Wednesday.  Perfect timing since I'm still in marathon recovery anyway.  So woo.


I also went in to see a nutritionist this week (I cashed in some use-or-lose vacation time this week, so it was easy to find the time). 

I had two questions for her: 1) I wanted to go over my nutrition/hydration before/during the Philly Marathon, to see if I had made any mistakes; 2) I was dealing with a recurrence of the nausea/lightheadness/digestive issues I experienced during my taper, and wanted to see if she had any thoughts about that.  If she didn't, the next step for #2 (har-de-har-har) was the GI doctor - and I didn't want to go there.  GI doctor appointments generally result in unpleasant procedures requiring consumption of nasty stuff.

As it turned out, the answers to questions 1 and 2 were the same, and annoyingly simple. 

The short answer: woefully low salt intake.  The longer write up?  It's below.


As background, I used to have major salt cravings and was never without a salt shaker.  I literally caked it on everything, and felt crappy if I didn't.  I also had low blood pressure.  Then I went on calcium channel blockers this spring, which had the happy and completely unexpected consequences of raising my blood pressure to normal and eliminating the salt cravings.  Woo.  I stopped caking everything with salt and embraced normality.

Fast forward to my taper for Philly.  During the training cycle, I ate about 90% healthy, but also indulged in tortilla chips/salsa and gluten free cookies- my weakness.  For the taper, though, I decided to cut out the junk food, and just eat quality food.  I don't eat processed foods, with the exception of the aforementioned junk food, so my diet was basically eggs, chicken and buffalo, potatoes, rice, and veggies, all flavored with a small amount of butter or olive oil.  Plus hydrating with water mixed with Ultima - my preferred electrolyte mix.

Ultima has no salt.  And the foods I was eating had very little salt included in them, since they weren't processed and I wasn't adding salt.  And I had cut out my chips and salsa and cookies, which were how I was getting my salt while training.

No salt is bad.  The body likes to keep a balance, so when I wasn't getting in enough salt, my body just dumped water like crazy to keep the balance and avoid hyponaetremia (which is both trendy to reference and hard to spell).  The ironic result was that I actually was dehydrated despite peeing clear and often.  It was all just going through me.  And I was dealing with nausea and shakiness and problems concentrating, but attributed it all to taper and marathon nerves.

So the marathon happened and I crashed and burned in a way that appeared to be hydration related, even though I drank a ton and it was a cool day, because I didn't include ALL the necessary electrolytes.

And after the marathon, I hit the salty junk food through Thanksgiving, but then cut it out.  I knew my body was really beaten up, so I decided that I needed to prioritize quality food to promote repair until the quads stopped feeling like hamburger meat.  And...sure enough, I started feeling nauseous and sloshy stomach and dizzy again.  But I didn't make the connection.

I was so used to being the person that caked salt on everything - it never occurred to me that I might now be salting too little.  Especially since I was using the Ultima, and never realized that it didn't include salt, because it had never been an issue before.

So, I've added salt back in, and the nausea and lightheadedness has drastically improved.  Ridiculous.

Obvious question #1 - But weren't you craving salt massively?

Yes, but I thought I was craving junk food, and resisted.  Everyone loves chips and salsa and cookies, right?  And because my past heavy use of salt had approached cliche, it never occurred to me that I might be too low on it now.  As for the lightheadedness and nausea?  I thought it was just nerves/taper paranoia.

Obvious question #2 - And don't you feel really really stupid now?  And a bit embarrassed (and yet perversely compelled to blog about it?)



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

Tuesday:  6 "miles" of pool-running in the morning plus some injury prevention/upper body weights.  Prolotherapy in the afternoon.

Wednesday:  Massage - heavily quad focused.

Thursday:   3 miles easy running (9:01 pace) and yoga, plus some injury prevention/upper body weights.   Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  4.5 miles easy running (8:54) and 2500 yards easy swimming, plus a yoga class.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:   4 miles easy running and 4 miles pool-running.  Yoga in the afternoon, plus some foam rolling.

Sunday:  7.5 miles easy running, including casually running a holiday 5K with some friends.  Followed with 2500 yards easy swimming and some injury prevention work.  Yoga and foam rolling at night.