Monday, May 25, 2015

Training log - Week ending 5/24/2015

This week was 84 miles of running and 4000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

My mileage is a bit artificially inflated this week - since I raced last Saturday, I took Sunday as my non-running day, and so ran on Monday.  I also skipped Tuesday track and just ran easy miles.

Just one more hard week of training for Grandmas, and then I taper.  I'm feeling pretty good right now.  Well...except for what is either a bad case of allergies or a head cold that blew up on Sunday afternoon.  I had assumed it was allergies since I noticed it after spending a lot of time outside.  On the other hand, antihistamines aren't doing squat.

Whatever it is, I'm hoping it's a 24 hour thing.



Monday:   3 miles very easy to yoga (8:56), yoga and some upper body strengthwork, and then 4.5 very easy miles home (8:49 pace).  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday:  12 miles very easy (8:52), followed by injury prevention work and 1500 yards swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 12 miles very easy to yoga (8:54) plus drills and strides, and then another 2.5 miles very easy to the grocery store (9:07).  Massage at night.

Thursday:   6 miles very easy to yoga (9:16 pace), yoga and upper body strengthwork.  Later did another 3 miles very easy (9:15) plus drills and strides.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  12.5 miles very easy, including a long intervals workout of 3200, 1600 - splits were 12:48 (6:25/6:22) and 6:16.  Followed with injury prevention work and 1500 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:   12 miles very easy (9:33 pace) followed by drills and strides, and upper body strengthwork. Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Sunday:  17.5 miles, including 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: 28:01 (7:03/6:59/6:58/7:01) ~ 7:00 pace
3 mile: 20:50 (7:03/6:54/6:53)  ~ /6:57 pace
2 mile: 13:52 (6:56/6:56) ~ 6:56 pace
1 mile: 6:55

Followed with some injury prevention work and yoga.  Later did 1000 yards easy swimming and foam rolling.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Training log - Week ending 5/17/15

This week was 45 miles of running, 6 "miles" of pool-running, and 4000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

This was a cut back week, as I raced a tune-up half marathon.  It was also a week of fail, as first my beloved fairly new Garmin 920 (yes, that one) and then my back-up Garmin 910 decided to crash.  Followed by the news that my much-loved car had finally reached the point where maintenance/repairs exceeded the value of the car.  All within the space of 36 hours.

My back-up Garmin failed during the first rep of my track workout, raising the runner's ultimate existential question - did a workout actually happen if it wasn't documented?  Fortunately for those who hang upon every detail of my track workouts, my coach was calling out the splits, so I just remembered what those were, and used google maps to guess the distance of my cooldown. 

[*obvious question: why is someone who normally runs with her watch face blanked so dependant on her Garmin?  Many reasons.  I like to have the information for after the fact, especially for racing, so I can prove that I ran the full course if the timing mats miss me (which has happened).   I like to use the heart-rate limit to keep a ceiling on my easy runs.  I like to have a good idea of how far I've run.  And I like covering the tan line on my wrist.

[Plus, once you've swum with a Garmin counting your laps, you'll never go back.  Especially if you never were a real swimmer.  Digression finis.]

By Friday, Garmin had shipped me a free replacement 920, which I christened in Saturday's race (worked beautifully).  The car was a bit harder and more costly to replace.  I ended up visiting three different dealerships to test drive four different cars, all of which were similar - "pre-owned" Mercedes GLK350s dating between 2011 and 2013.  I finally settled on this beauty. It matches both my Garmin and my Takumi Sen racing flats.  So that's nice.

Two more weeks hard training, and then I start tapering.


Monday:   4 "miles" pool-running plus yoga.  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday:  12 miles, including a workout of 2x1200, 800 with an extra 800 at the end in 4:33, 3:00, 4:30, 2:58, 2:56; followed by 1500 yards swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 7.5 miles very easy (9:04 pace) plus drills and strides.  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday:   6 miles mostly easy, but with a fartlek of 4x90 seconds on, 60 seconds off.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  3.5 miles very easy (8:51), plus drills+strides.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:   ~3 miles warm-up and then a half-marathon in 1:32:06.  2 "miles" recovery pool-running and foam rolling in the afternoon.

Sunday:  Yoga and 2500 yards easy swimming in the morning.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Race report: St. Michaels Half-marathon May 16, 2015

I ran the St. Michaels Half-marathon yesterday, finishing in 1:32:06.  It was one of my slowest half-marathons ever, but despite that, I'm pretty happy with it.

But before I discuss the race, I'm going to first bitch about Hertz - the rental car company.

(and yes, this is related to the race).

I've written and then deleted an extended discussion - this is a running blog, not Yelp, and so I'm not sure anyone wants to read me ranting to that extent (if you do, I will gladly do a second post).  The hyper short version is that I needed to rent a car to get to the race this weekend, and arrived at Hertz's counter at National Airport at 1 pm on Friday.  (my parents live about 40 minutes from the race, and about 2 hours from DC - my plan was to stay with them the night before).

It wasn't until 2:15 pm that I actually was able to drive away from the airport. This was not due to computer problems or car issues or anything other than some of the most abysmally slow and unmotivated customer service I've ever experienced.

This 75 minute delay cost me more than just that chunk of time, because at 2:00 pm the highway I was planning on driving through DC was shut down for a procession.  So I had to take an alternate route, which added more time, which then put me into the very rush hour I had hoped to avoid. 

And that was how, having left my house at 12:30 pm, I ended up rolling into my parents' place at about 6:15 - nearly 6 hours of transit.  I wasn't happy.


Fortunately the drive to the race in the morning went much more smoothly.  Though the half didn't start until 7:40 am, they had requested that runners be in the race by 6:30 am (this is because there's really only one road into St. Michaels, which is the same road that part of the race would be run on.

No problem - left mom and dad's around 5:15 am, and rolled in at around 6:00 am - enough to get a good parking spot right at the start (parking was well managed - they really had it down to a science).  I had over 90 minutes until race start, but I had stretching and warming-up and bag check to do, so it really wasn't that much extra time.

Except, there was no bag check. (To be fair, they had never promised it - I had just assumed).

The keys looked almost exactly
like this photo.
This was a problem, as I had been counting on bag check to hold my car keys.  I normally don't check car keys, but the rental car keys were both keys to the car chained with metal twine to a big plastic tag - far too big for any pockets.  And I've never felt comfortable leaving my keys on a wheel well (and these were likely too big to hide).

With no other options, I stuffed them in my sports bra.  I'll leave the chafing to your imagination; the official race photos featuring my large spiky left breast will be available on Tuesday.


I "warmed up" by jogging about 2.5 miles and then doing an extended stride to get my HR up.  I finished around 7:05 - very early, but the race management stated that we were supposed to be in the start area by 7:15 for the 7:40 start.  I didn't know if I'd be able to warm-up any more once there (as it turned out, we were able to jog).

I use quotations for "warm-up" because I was already pretty warm - this was one of the first really warm weekends in this area, and it felt more like June or July than mid-May.  Not ideal.  On the other hand, I was doing this race as a mid-training tune-up for a June marathon, so having to deal with this weather was good prep.

I got in the area at 7:15, and hung out waiting.  As it turned out, our race start was delayed until just about 8 am.  This was unfortunate, as the temperature and dew point kept rising, but nothing to do about it but keep drinking water.


Finally we started.  My plan had been to go out at about marathon pace feel for the first 3 miles, and then start dropping the pace and chasing people.   I was also carrying my handheld water bottle, which I'd run with until about mile 8 when I'd toss, per my normal practice.

It took some effort, but I successfully reined myself for the first few miles, holding back as I watched everyone pull ahead.  I have a much harder time holding back at the start of a half than for any other race.  I think it's because I tend to think of the 5K as the longer version of a mile, the 10K as a longer 5K, and the 10 miler as a longer 10K.  In contrast, I think of the half-marathon as the short version of a marathon, which leads me to all sorts of impetuous pacing decisions.  Which really suck once I belatedly remember that a half-marathon is indeed a long race.

I had planned to pick it up, but even 3 miles in, I was starting to notice the heat.  With 10 miles left to go, I decided it wasn't such a bad idea to procrastinate picking it up.  Plus, I was already starting to reel people in.  So I kept it conservative, and drank from my handheld water bottle like it was my best friend.

As the miles passed, I continued to modify my race plan.  At mile 5, I was still running in control, and felt like I could pick it up.  But I could also tell I was starting to bake a bit - though I hadn't really picked up the pace, I was working harder than marathon effort.  And I honestly didn't know where my line was, heat-wise.  So I decided to stay conservative a bit longer.

I did note one advantage of my handheld - I was passing a lot of people at water stations.  Almost every runner I saw was slowing dramatically at the water stations to make sure they got a full drink (smart).  But this also meant that I did a lot of passing at water stations as I held my pace and sipped from my bottle.


Mile 8 would have been a convenient point to drop my bottle (near the finish, so I could grab it after).  But by mile 8, that water bottle was my best friend.  Not only did I not want to toss it, I wanted it full.

So, for the first time in my running career, I came to a full stop at the next water station, and took some time to fill my handheld from some of the water cups.  Then capped it and started up running again.  I lost about 15 seconds by doing that, I'm guessing.  But I think I gained more than I lost.


I also modified my race plan again at mile 8, and decided to stay conservative a bit longer.  With 5 miles to go, though I wasn't in trouble and could pick it up slightly, I was feeling pretty darn hot and working pretty hard.  And I was passing down people consistently - I don't think a single person passed me after the 10K mark, while I passed quite a few.  So I decided to play it safe and wait to pick it up until the last hairpin turn, which was about 2 miles out.  Racing this long in weather this hot was pretty new to me, and 5 miles was still fairly far from home.

You can argue either that it was smart, or that I wimped out.  It was probably a bit of both.  But either way, I think it was the right decision.  There are times when one should dig deep and take risks, but 5 weeks out from your goal race on a very hot day probably isn't that time.  And that logic was ridiculously appealing at that point in the race.


By the turn-around at 11.5 my trusty water bottle and I had chased down all the women within reach.  I saw three ahead of me, including my friend and teammate Jillian who won the race (GO CAR)!  The was one guy who was slowly coming back to me, so I reeled him in and just kept running to the finish.  Per my usual, when I got to mile 13 I started kicking like heck, even though there was no one to beat - again, practice kicking every race, so you have it when you need it.

Then I was done, and I was very glad. 


Miles 1-2: 13:48
Mile 3: 7:01
Mile 4: 6:53
Mile 5: 7:00
Mile 6: 6:53
Mile 7: 7:15
Mile 8: 7:13
Mile 9: 7:21 (water stop)
Mile 10: 7:05
Mile 11: 6:59
Mile 12: 7:08
Mile 13: 6:53
last bit: 37 seconds.

Other notes:

  • This was a tough one, heat-wise.  Conditions at the start were temp of 70, dew point of 64; by the time I finished, the temp was 77, dew point 66.  Plus bright sunshine on a course that mostly lacked shade.
  • The race was also surprisingly windy, with a pretty tough headwind at times, especially during the middle miles.  Fortunately, the course had enough turns that you were never fighting the wind for too long. my friend PJ later noted, when it's as warm as this race was, you develop a new appreciation for the cooling effects of a headwind.
  • First sunburn of the season!
  • The course had three hairpin turns - for each of these, I made a point of taking 5 quick steps as I came out of the turn to get back into my groove - it worked well.
  • This was a really well managed and fun race.  Yes, I wish they had bag check, and I wish they had better weather.  But on the whole, I really enjoyed the race and would recommend it to others.  And the course could be a fast one, if they ever get good weather.
  • One weird thing was that I was pretty certain I finished the race in 4th place - I had counted women ahead of me at the last turnaround, and I wasn't passed after that.  So I was a bit surprised to learn that I was actually 5th, and second in my age group.  I suspected at first that it was a bib swapping issue (men running with women's bibs), but I looked up the woman who apparently beat me, and she's run comparable times to me in the past.  So I guess I must have just missed her while guzzling from my water bottle.
  • Don't judge - you would have looked her up too.
  • This race offers morning bib pick-up and the start, and it's very well run.  So no need to worry about doing pick-up the night before.
  • Net consensus from everyone who ran the race was that they were several minutes off of the time they had expected to run.  While the time on paper does bug me slightly, considering that 7 minute miles are my goal pace for a distance twice as long (that's just how I'm wired, folks), I'm still pretty happy with the race.  And my coach thought it was a great race for me too, given the conditions, so yay.
  • My time is just about an exact match to the half-marathon I ran in January in 18 degrees with high winds and large patches of ice.  The compare and contrast amuses me.
  • Hertz sucks.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Training log - Week ending 5/10/15

This week was 80 miles of running and 4000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

I had to travel to Kansas early this week to attend a memorial gathering for a family member.  I flew out early Monday morning, and though I could have possibly flown back the same evening, it would have made for a VERY long day (and a lousy Tuesday run).  So I stayed overnight and used the opportunity to explore Sedgwick County Park on Tuesday morning.
It had covered bridges!  Neat!

Sedwick County Park was a bit like Central Park.  Except smaller and lacking in tall buildings and people.  And hills.   It did have covered bridges, which Central Park lacks.  And also some nice "bike trails" which would be running trails for my purposes - a lap around the park was a bit more than 4 miles.

My plan was to drive to the park and start running around 5:30 am local time, which would give me plenty of time to finish, drive back to my grandfather's house, shower, and get to the airport.  It was a good plan, but not without hiccups.

For one thing, it turns out that Sedwick County Park doesn't open until 6:00 am.   In DC, a park being closed means that the bathrooms may be locked, or a single bar may block the entrance.

In Wichita, the park being closed means that a large gate (too high for me to climb) blocks the entire entrance, sitting flush with the fence on either side.


Fortunately, there was a neighborhood nearby.  I cruised for a few minutes, trying to figure out what the parking regulations were.  Then I realized that there were none - this was Wichita.  So I stashed the rental and jogged to the park entrance.  As noted before, the gate was too high to climb, but it did have a clearance of roughly a foot from the ground.  After a quick scan in the dark to see if there were any obvious "trespassers will be prosecuted/shot/waterboarded" signs, I dropped to the asphalt and wriggled my way under the gate.

I was in.

From there I started my run.  I had a fartlek workout planned - it's easier just to do stuff by time when in a strange place.  My plan was to do an extended warm-up - running easy until it got light enough to run fast in a strange place.

In case you were wondering
about the differences.
After about 15 minutes of jogging by myself in the dark, a group of lights approached.  It was a group of local runners with headlamps - the "Dillons run" (named after the grocery store they meet at).  They were gracious enough to let me tag along, and so I ran for a few easy miles, chatting about Kansas and DC and the differences between the Pikes Peak in Colorado and the Pikes Peek in Maryland.

Then they turned off, and it was light enough to start the workout - 16 times 90 seconds on/60 seconds off. 

Check out the elevation chart too :)
I didn't shoot for a specific pace for the fast parts, but rather tried to run fast-but-relaxed for the on parts, and easy-but-not -shuffling for the off parts.  There's really no points to reporting splits for the workout, but the sharks teeth pattern on the Garmin report is pretty cool.

The workout ended up being fairly fun.  Part of it was the novelty of running in a new location, and part of it was that 90 seconds is just short enough that running fast is a blast.  Though I will confess that by the last four reps I was more than ready to be done.

The rest of the week was back in DC, where some of our humidity has returned.  Interestingly, though I'm generally the type that REALLY suffers in the humidity and heat, it hasn't bothered me.  During both Friday's tempo and Sunday's long run I kept waiting for the humidity to start bugging me, but it never did.  I'm not quite sure why this is - my leading theory right now is that I'm still defrosting from this winter. I'm certainly not complaining, though.


Monday:   Nothing.  Traveled to Kansas and did family stuff.

Tuesday:  14 miles, including a fartlek of 16x90 seconds on, 60 seconds off - workout was 40 minutes total. Averaged 6:20ish for the on, 9:00ish for the off.  Then flew home to DC and foam rolled.

Wednesday: 5.5 miles very easy (9:33), followed by a yoga class.  Later another 7.5 miles very easy (9:05) and drills+strides, followed by 1500 yards of easy swimming to stretch out. Foam rolling at night.

Thursday:  6.5 miles very easy (9:02), followed by a yoga class and then another 4 easy (8:43) plus drills and strides.  Followed with some upperbody strengthwork and injury prevention work.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  13.5 miles, including an 8k tempo of 33:00 - 6:45/6:35/6:38/6:36/6:26.   Followed by some injury prevention work and 1500 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:   13 miles easy (8:42), followed by drills and strides.  Upper body strengthwork/injury prevention work, plus foam rolling, in the afternoon.

Sunday:  16 miles progressive, split as first 3 at 8:45, next 8.5 at 8:04, last 4.5 at 6:56.  Followed with yoga and 1000 yards easy swimming to loosen up.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Training log - Week ending 5/3/2015

This week was 82 miles of running, 5 "miles" of pool-running and 3000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

More marathon training.  Lotsa easy miles plus controlled workouts and my first 20 miler of the cycle.  My legs are pretty tired, but feel like they can just keep going.  Since we're only doing two 20s and two "4-3-2-1" workouts this cycle, the next two weeks will be a cutback in terms of long runs - a moderate progression run next weekend, and then a half marathon the week after.  Then two more long runs before tapering.  I'm feeling really good about my fitness, but also looking forward to an easier weekend.

I have to travel to Kansas on Monday for a family gathering (passing of a relative), so Tuesday morning's workout will be a solo time-based fartlek on a bike path.  I'm actually happy about this - a workout based totally on effort sounds perfect for legs absorbing their first 20 miler in about 6 months.


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

Tuesday:  13 miles, including 6x800 (3:00, 3:02, 2:58, 2:58, 2:58, 2:57), followed by some injury prevention work and 1500 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 5.5 miles very easy (9:18), followed by a yoga class.  Later another 8.5 miles very easy (8:49 - net downhill) and drills+strides. Foam rolling at night.

Thursday:  5.5 miles very easy (9:10), followed by a yoga class and then another 4.5 easy (9:00) plus drills and strides.  Followed with some upperbody strengthwork and injury prevention work.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  12 miles, including a windy 8k tempo of 33:10 - 6:43/6:34/6:39/6:37/6:37.   Followed by some injury prevention work and 1000 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:   12.5 miles easy (9:04), followed by drills and strides, and upper body strengthwork/injury prevention work, plus foam rolling.

Sunday:  20.5 miles progressive, split as first 5 at 8:25, next 4.5 at 8:07, next 5 at 7:41 (tailwind), last 6 at 7:02 (headwind).  Followed with injury prevention work and 500 yards easy swimming to loosen up.  Massage later in the afternoon.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Training log - Week ending 4/26/15

This week was 78 miles of running, 5 "miles" of pool-running and 3000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

And another week of training - I'm now 8 weeks out from Grandma's (marathon, not cookies.  Though maybe they have post-race gluten free cookies up there).  Same theme as before - keeping the track workouts under control and the easy stuff very easy - focusing on high mileage, lactate threshold, and recovery.

I did have a blip though.  On Saturday, I met my team for an easy run.  Everything felt fine during, but about three hours later, while walking in the city, I suddenly felt a really sharp intense pain in my left knee.  The pain hit for about 15 seconds, and then subsided, leaving my knee really sore around all sides of the knee cap.

(and yes, I was wearing running shoes when this happened, not heels)

I had a hunch I knew what it was, since I've felt similar before.  My left kneecap is a bit misaligned, and doesn't always sit in its groove correctly (my right kneecap is also askew, but less so).  And when the kneecap gets out of its groove, it rubs on stuff it shouldn't and hurts like hell.

When I first started running, I had chronic knee pain in that knee.  However, a bit of research pointed me to a simple solution - strengthen the VMO - the inner quad muscle that holds that kneecap in place - and the problem goes away.  And that's been the status quo ever since.  As long as I faithfully hit the gym 2-3 times a week, my knees are good.

But, for whatever reason, it broke our negotiated truce to flare on Saturday.

I reached to a PT friend on Saturday evening, to get her input.  She agreed with me that the most likely cause was just that it had popped out of the groove for an instant, and now all the soft tissue was inflamed.  Best thing to do was to ice it (to bring down the inflammation), foam roll the quad on that side, tape it (to keep the kneecap in place), and then see how I felt in the morning.

In the morning, it felt better, though still slightly tender.  I had my coach's 4-3-2-1 workout on tap (segments of 4, 3, 2, and 1 mile at marathon pace, each separated by one mile easy), but obviously I was only going to do it if the knee held up.  Better one workout too few than one too many.

With some trepidation, I drove on Sunday morning to Fletchers Boathouse (normal long run start location) and started my warm-up jog.  The knee felt fine, so I decided to take a stab at the workout.

My big concern was that I normally do this workout as an out and back - 8 miles one way (3 mile warm-up, 4 mile interval, one mile recovery) and then 8 miles back (the rest of the workout).  But with a knee I didn't trust, I didn't want to get too far from my car.  Especially to a location where it would be hard to flag down a cab.

And that was how I ended up running 18 miles almost entirely back and forth on a two mile stretch of the Capital Crescent trail.

It sounds dreadful, but it actually wasn't that bad.  The intervals broke up the run nicely, and the Capital Crescent had the added benefit of accurate mile markers each half mile, which helped confirm pacing.

On the left is what I ran back and forth this morning;
on the right is my normal route for this workout
But when I completed the final interval of the workout, you best believe I hopped up on the parallel towpath for my cooldown jog back to my car.   The towpath was disgustingly sludgy from the previous evening's rain, but I couldn't bear to run the Capital Crescent any more.

(knee was fine for the workout, BTW.  Totally forgot about it.  Though I'll probably keep it taped up for another few days to be safe)


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

Tuesday:  13 miles, including 2x1600, 800 (6:17, 2:57, 6:09, 2:53), followed by some injury prevention work and 1500 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 13 miles very easy (9:14), followed by a yoga class and drills+strides. Foam rolling at night.

Thursday:  5 miles very easy (9:25), followed by a yoga class and then another 5 easy (9:06) plus drills and strides and 4 hillsprints.  Followed with some upperbody strengthwork and injury prevention work.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  12 miles, including a windy workout of 3200 +1600 hard (~6 minutes jogging rest between the two).  Splits were 13:02 (6:33/6:29) and 6:17.   Followed by some injury prevention work and 1500 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:   12 miles easy (8:25), followed by drills and strides, and upper body strengthwork/injury prevention work.  Foam rolling at night.  This run was about 30-60 seconds faster than my normal very easy pace, so maybe that triggered the knee?  Who knows?

Sunday:  18 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: 27:52 (7:03/6:56/6:56/6:57) ~ 6:58 pace
3 mile: 20:42 (6:56/6:54/6:52)  ~6:54 pace
2 mile: 13:45 (6:56/6:49) ~ 6:53 pace
1 mile: 6:40

Slightly fast (was shooting for 7:00 pace for the first three intervals), but acceptably in the ballpark (i.e. coach wasn't mad)

Followed with injury prevention work and foam rolling.  Later did 1000 yards easy swimming and a yoga class.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Training log - Week ending 4/19/2015

This week was 74 miles of running, 4000 yards of swimming and 4 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

Just another week of training.  Hopefully the next few weeks will look similar, as I load up on the easy mileage and the controlled workouts.  I'm registered for a race this coming weekend, but have decided to skip it - I've raced a LOT in the past 2 months, and I'd rather just focus on consistent training the next few weeks, with one tune-up race in mid-May.

Other than that, not much to blather on about - I'm just tracking the Boston Marathon results like everyone else. :)


Monday:   4 "miles" pool-running, yoga, and then some upper body strengthwork.  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday:  12 miles very easy (9:06) plus drills and strides, followed with lower body injury prevention work and 1500 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 12 miles very easy (9:09 pace), followed by drills and strides, and then a yoga class.  Massage at night.

Thursday:   6 very easy miles to yoga (9:23), yoga, and then another 3 very easy (8:51), followed by drills and strides.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  12.5 miles, including a cruise intervals workout of 2x3200m in 12:53 (6:32/6:21) and 12:51 (6:27/6:24), followed by lower body injury prevention work and 1500 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:   12 miles very easy (9:05) plus drills and strides.   Injury prevention/upper body strength work and foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday:  16.5 mile progression run - first 5 miles averaging 8:42 pace, next 6 averaging 7:54 pace, and last 5 at 6:55 pace (with an extra cool-down jog at end).  Followed by lower body injury prevention work.  1000 yards easy swimming, yoga, and foam rolling in the afternoon.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Training log - Week ending 4/12/15

This week was 50 miles of running, 3 "miles" of pool-running, and 2000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

This was Cherry Blossom week.  Which for most people was a goal race and maybe the peak of their spring, but for me was the kick off of the first week of marathon training.   I tapered for it, and raced it, but it felt more like a beginning than an end.

Which makes me even happier with my race.

It's been a long road.  In 2012-early 2013, I was as fit as I've even been.  Then came the long cycle of injury, followed by trying too hard to climb back up too quickly this past fall.

I had two goals for this spring.  One was to regain some of my speed at shorter distances, the other was to discipline myself to keeping my workouts very restrained - 80% effort.  My belief was that adhering to the second goal of very controlled workouts was the best way to achieve the first goal.  This was because, in the past, I had noted that I always improved the fastest when my workouts were slower and more controlled.  "Going to the well" and "giving my all" in workouts always seemed to result in stagnation.

But it's been hard.  When you have a group of friends running just ahead of you, it takes a lot of restraint not to chase the pack, and to instead run your own pace.  Especially when you finish workouts with plenty in the tank, and feel a bit sheepish that you didn't work harder while everyone else was digging deep.  But I forced myself to do so, telling myself I needed to do this consistently for several months, and then assess where I was.

And...I'm pretty happy with where I am.  Judging from yesterday's performance at Cherry Blossom, as well as my performance at Monument Avenue 10K, I'm close to the same shape I was in early 2012.  There were times I doubted I could get there again, and yet I'm here.  At age 40 (almost 41) no less.

What's even cooler to note is that my workout paces on the track are consistently slower than they were both in 2012 and this past fall (by about 5-10 seconds a mile).  Back in 2012 I was running 800s in the low 2:50s, with the occasional 2:4x.  Now?  They're generally just under 3 minutes.  Maybe low 2:5x for the last one or two.  Similarly, I'm tempoing about 10 seconds per mile slower than I was 3 years ago.

So...not only have I improved a TON over the past few months, but my differential between my workouts and my race performances has exploded.  I'm tempoing 4 miles on the track SLOWER than I'm racing 15K, which is awesome.

Apparently I've managed to hit that balance of training to race, rather than racing my training.  Yay me.

There's a trap that most runners fall into, when doing workouts.  We see a chart where paces on the chart for different intervals correspond to race times, and we think that if we can just gut it out and hit those intervals in practice, we'll achieve the corresponding times on race day.

In actuality, it's the reverse, at least for me.  It's not your goals that should determine your training paces (with the exception of practicing specific race pace); rather, your current fitness and how you feel that day should determine how you train.  Exhibit A, of course, is that fact that I'm now running race times faster, and my workouts slower.

It makes sense, when I see it mapped out here.  But I have to keep reminding myself of this, as I go into marathon training.  The fastest way to achieve my goals is, ironically enough, to continue to keep my workouts very controlled.

Likewise, I've also slowed my easy runs way down.  I used to run them in the mid-low 8:xx pace.  Now I shoot for 9-9:30+ pace.   Heck, 10:00 is fine.

There were a few reasons I used to get sucked into running my easy days at the faster speed - one was simply keeping pace with others (I'm now more careful about whom I do my easy days with), another was picking up pace because I had to be done by a certain time (I now start earlier or just run less miles).  The third was that I was afraid that if I ran too slowly, I'd fall into bad form habits and become a shuffler.  I address the last concern by doing drills and a few gentle (5-10K pace) strides after each run.  It definitely seems to be working.

The test over the next two months will be whether I can adhere to these easy and yet so tough principles (controlled workouts, very slow easy runs) while marathon training.  Only one way to find out.


Monday:   3 "miles" pool-running plus yoga and some upper body strengthwork/injury prevention work.  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday:  11.5 miles, including a workout of 6x800 in 3:03, 3:00, 2:58, 2:58, 2:56, 2:54; followed by 1250 yards swimming and some light injury prevention work.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 10.5 miles very easy (9:12 pace).  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday:   5.5 miles very easy (9:11 pace), plus drills and strides, and some light injury prevention work.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  6.5 miles, plus drills+strides, and a 1 mile pick up on the track in 6:16.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:   3 miles very easy (9:05) plus drills and strides.  Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Sunday:  3.5 mile warm-up and then a ~9.5 mile race in 62:01.  Yoga and 750 yards recovery swimming in the afternoon.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Race report: Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, April 12, 2015

I ran the Cherry Blossom not quite 10 Miler this morning, finishing in a time of 62:01.

As you can probably tell, the course was short, due to a last minute rerouting.  Supposedly around 9.5 miles (9.48 on my Garmin).  But even with the issues with the course, I was pretty happy with this race.

Cherry Blossom is always one of my favorite races.  Not because I love flowering trees.

In fact, I hate flowering trees.

And the fact that these particular trees are baby pink and surrounded by swarms of tourons does nothing to endear them to me.

(I mean seriously - why do people get so freakin excited about pink trees?

But I still love the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler.  It's a fantastically managed race on a fast course that normally has good weather.  And that more than compensates for the stupid trees.

And the weather for today was forecast to be absolutely perfect for racing.  Low to mid-40s, with no wind and low (but not too low) humidity.  Great weather plus fast course means high PR potential for most people.

But not for me.  My 10 mile PR is 65:31, from this same course in similarly fantastic weather.  And though I'm getting into good shape, I didn't think I had quite the fitness I needed to challenge that PR.  But that was OK.  It was still great just to be racing this race, especially after how last year went. I've noted below, I benefit most in my training from lactate threshold work.  And any race between 15K and the half-marathon distance is a fantastic lactate threshold workout, regardless of how the race goes.  I couldn't think of a better way to kick off the first official week of my training for Grandma's Marathon.


Race morning was pretty much the same as always.  Woke up, ate breakfast, puffed my asthma meds and mobilized my hips and ankle, plus some glute firing for the heck of it.  Then donned my throwaway shirt and set off.

You can't tell from the photo, but this top is very sparkly.
My throwaway shirt, btw, was awesome.  A few weeks ago, at a friend's 80s themed birthday party, another friend had worn a sparkly pink Little Mermaid shirt.  It was the subject of some discussion - she explained that the shirts had been on sale at Target for about $3, so she grabbed one.

The next day I was at Target, stocking up on $3 throwaway shirts.  If you know me at all personally, then you know that my personal tastes tend towards dark nail polish and skulls, with the occasional infusion of dayglo.  A pink sparkly shirt featuring a Disney Princess is pretty close to a costume for me.  Which is what made this so hilarious.

So... accompanied by Ariel, I made my way to the race, checked my post race bag, and started jogging. I did a 3 mile warm-up very easy, and then some drills and an extended stride around the Washington Monument - running hard until my heart rate got into the 70s. I've tried this extended stride for several races now, and I feel it really warms me up and gets me prepped in a way that shorter strides don't.

Then some more drills, and two shorter strides, and into the corral.

While I was warming up, the race director came onto the loudspeaker and announced that due to a police investigation on course, we'd be rerouted.  He continued on to explain that the rerouting would occur between miles 4 and 6, and that the mile markers from 1-4 and 6-the finish would be accurate.  The total race distance would be confirmed later, but was between 9.5 and 9.75 miles.

I have to stop here and praise the Cherry Blossom race management here.  They were presented with a very difficult situation - for a major race with over 10,000 runners, they had learned less than 90 minutes pre-race start that the course was blocked.  They couldn't use the course as posted, and they couldn't delay the race (they had a strict time limit for reopening the roads).

So they had to modify the course.  Which they did in a way that flowed seamlessly.  And they clearly communicated to us exactly what was happening.  This is how you do it, folks.


With 5 minutes to go, I ducked in my corral and tossed Ariel aside like last century's VHS tape.  I had a chance to briefly greet my podiatrist, which was fun -- it was great to see him under better circumstances than last year's race :).

The race manager made another announcement, reminding us of the course change that would occur between miles 4 and 6, and also describing where we would be turning.  Again, it was a great example of how to handle a last minute rerouting.  Then we were off.


My plan was to go out conservatively for the first and second miles, and then pick up my pace on a downhill section after we crossed the Memorial Bridge - about the 2.5 mark.

Cherry Blossom does tend to go out fast - both because people are amped, and because the first mile is moderately down hill.  And despite my best efforts, I did get sucked out.  I didn't go out monstrously fast, but it was not the conservative start I had planned.  When we hit the first mile marker, I didn't feel out of control, but it wasn't the easy feeling I had been shooting for.

I debated for a moment, and then decided to pull back on the throttle.  As we crossed over the bridge I slowed up just slightly, and held that easier feeling for the next two miles, establishing the relaxed feel I had hoped to start the race with.   Once I had that down, then I opened up again.

During this time, I was also looking for a place to toss my water bottle and gloves.  I always start races longer than 10K with a water bottle that I toss.  Around the 2-3 mile marks I was ready to heave it, and on the watch for cheering friends, but I didn't see any of them on the course.  So finally I tossed it when we crossed under the Roosevelt Bridge - if I had a chance, I'd come find it later.

I wasn't willing to toss my gloves, though.  I love those things.  So into the bra shelf of my top they went - the pictures from this race will be lovely.


From then on, it was just game on, trying to keep my stride relaxed but powerful, and at the proper effort level.  I can't quite describe where we went on course or how we were rerouted, but I can tell you that it was done seamlessly.  The only indications from my perspective were the missing 5 mile marker and the fact that everyone's Garmins kept squawking where we were nowhere near mile markers.

As I noted in my last race report, I sometimes like to use a gel during races shorter than a half, even if I don't need it - the sugar rush seems to help.  To that point, I took one slurp (about 1/3rd) of a root beer GU at the 4 mile mark and a second slurp at the tip of Hains Point (around 7.5).  It's hard to know how much for sure it helped, but I did feel sharper and more focused during the race.


The latter part of this race is on Hains Point in DC.  Hains Point is very straight, flat and fast, but also a bit soul killing, as it seems like you're just running in a straight line forever.

Hains Point also has an added challenge for allergy sufferers - the damn trees.  I've learned from years of running and racing on Hains Point that if you have allergies, they will hit there very hard.  To the extent that it feels like you're running up hill.  Luckily, I've known this and I now always pace my races as if Hains Point will be a slight uphill climb.

Also, I had some solid memories of Hains Point to pull me through.  Way back in February, some teammates and I met on Hains Point to do a long broken tempo workout in horrible conditions - temperatures in the mid-teens, high winds, and snow starting to fall towards the end.    It sucked, but we rocked it and felt like stars after.

From Alien (1979), of course.
No matter how much Hains Point sucks, it will never suck anywhere close to that ever again.    And it wasn't sucking that much right now - relatively speaking.
So I just kept trucking.   At one point, I saw a group of friends cheering, and I (finally) tossed my gloves to them.  Better late than never - at least some of my photos wouldn't look like an alien was trying to erupt from my chest.

Finally we hit Mile 9 and the end of Hains Point.  From here on out things were easy mentally, if not physically.  The race has markers every 400m for the last mile, which makes it easier to hang on.  The largest hill (and really, the only big hill) of the course hits with about 600m to go.  It sucks, but it never sucks as much as I fear it will - it's almost a relief to use different muscles after running on flat terrain for so long.  Then over and downhill to the finish.


My final official time was 62:01.  Again, for a distance of about 9.5 miles.  My Garmin says 9.48 miles at a pace of 6:33.  This actually makes me pretty happy, as that's my PR pace for 10 miles.

And no, I'm NOT going to claim that I went out and PR'd a 10 miler today.  Or even that I would have PRd had it been 10 miles.  Right now, sitting in this chair, it's easy to talk about holding that pace for another 800m.  But I assure you, when I crossed that line, I was damn ready to be done.

(side question - should I write "PR'd" or "PRed" or "PRd"?  These are the questions that cause me to lose sleep).

But... holding that pace for something close to 10 miles does indicate that I'm in better shape than I thought.  I didn't think I was anywhere near 10 miler PR shape, when apparently I was close.

And upon due reflection, as long as the course (which race management is measuring now) was at least 15K (9.32 miles), I've decided I'll count this as a 15K PR. I'm not going to adjust the time down to count for the extra distance - I'll just take the time as is.

My reasoning is that if I happened to run faster than my 5K PR on a 3.2 mile course, I would definitely count that time as my 5K PR (and then go looking for another 5K that had an accurate course).  So no reason not to do the same here, though I can't really go looking for another 15K - they're very rare here.


Splits were (manual splits - Garmin was giving me 1.01 for most miles)
Mile 1: 6:36
Mile 2: 6:44
Mile 3: 6:37
Mile 4: 6:32
Miles 5-6 ish: 9:13 for 1.40 (6:34-sh pace, according to Garmin)
Mile 7: 6:36
Mile 8: 6:39
Mile 9: 6:38
Mile 10: 6:28

Other notes:
  • Left home at 6:00, and drove to race, arriving at 6:15 - plenty of time to find good parking.
  • One puff Foradil in the morning, 4 puffs albuterol before race.  And I needed it.  Damn pink trees.
  • Found my tossed water bottle post race - yay.  At about $12 each, it's not a huge loss if they're gone.  But always nice to save a little money.
  • So we ran a totally random distance this morning, where the actual time means very little.  And yet I'm annoyed that I couldn't have run two seconds faster to dip under 1:02.  Runner logic.
  • Wore my Adidas Takumi Sens for this race, and was really happy with them.  I haven't worn them for longer than 8 miles before, but after they performed so well in the 10K in Richmond, I thought I'd try them for 10.  Now I'm wondering if they'd work for a half.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Training log - Week ending 4/5/2015

This week was 73 miles of running, 4000 yards of swimming and 3 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

The mileage is a bit deceiving this week, as I ran 7 days instead of 6 this week, due to shifting my normal rest day from Monday to Sunday last weekend.  So, though it was technically over 70 miles, it didn't feel that way.

Which was good, because this was supposed to be a moderate week. Despite the fact that I'm 12 weeks out from a marathon.

Yup - I'm marathon training.  I entered Grandma's Marathon on Tuesday, after getting my coach's approval.  12 weeks out is generally not enough time to prepare for a marathon.  Unless (like me) you've been training solidly since January, with a focus on 10 milers and halves.  The training for 10-13 miles and for a marathon is not that different - training for halves just meant a greater focus on stamina and no 20s.  But my overall mileage has been decently high, and I've had several long runs in the 17-18 mile range.

Upon getting my coach's agreement (and after formally entering), I drew up an abbreviated training schedule that looked like his normal one, including the same overall weekly mileage, with a few slight differences.   He normally schedules three or four 20 milers, and three marathon pick-up workouts (4-3-2-1 mile intervals with one mile recovery between each).  My proposed schedule had only two 20 mile runs, and only two of the pick-up workouts.

Why did I cut out the 20s?  Because I honestly don't think they're the best use of my training time.

I think they're essential for someone with speed who is working on sustaining that speed over a longer distance; however endurance is not my limiting factor - stamina/lactate threshold is.  So I think my time is better spent working on my lactate threshold and turnover - less 20 milers mean that I'll be recovering a bit better, and have more energy to dedicate to longer tempos and to maxing out the volume (though not the speed) on the track workouts.  I'm not terribly worried about my ability to cover 26 miles - my natural endurance plus my generally high weekly mileage will get me through that, with the two 20s on my schedule being as much for my mental confidence as my physical preparation.

Happily, my coach agreed with my training schedule, with two slight corrections.   I had scheduled 16 miles for this weekend, and 18 for two weekends from now.  He nixed both of those in favor of no more than 14 this weekend, and a max of 16 on April 19th - he noted that I had been training fairly hard since January, and so it was better to ease off on the distance of the long runs for a few more weeks, so that I wasn't fried come June.    So we made that change.

And the end result is, having made a fairly late decision to jump into marathon training, we're starting off the condensed training cycle by....backing off on the distance of the long runs.  It amuses me, but I think it's the right decision.  I've found that I don't need to build up to the 20 milers the way some others may, so it makes more sense to take the next 2-3 weeks to refresh (and race Cherry Blossom), and then build up steeply before tapering and hopefully peaking in mid-June in Duluth.


Monday:   4 miles very easy to yoga (9:06 pace), yoga, and then 5 miles easy back home (8:38), followed by drills, strides, and some upper body strengthwork.  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday:  11 miles, including a workout of 4x1200 (4:43, 4:38, 4:38, and 4:31). Followed with lower body injury prevention work and 1500 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 11 miles very easy (9:24 pace), followed by drills and strides, and then a yoga class.  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday:   4 very easy miles to yoga (9:20), yoga, and then another 2.5 very easy (8:58), followed by drills and strides.  Later did 3 "miles" pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  11 miles, including a fairly windy 4800m tempo in 26:29 (6:38/6:38/6:42/6:33), followed by lower body injury prevention work and 1500 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:   10.5 miles very easy (8:58) plus drills and strides.   Injury prevention/upper body strength work and foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday:  14 mile progression run - first 3 miles at 9:03 pace, next 4 at 8:47 pace, next 2 at 7:38 pace, and last 5 at 6:53 pace.  Followed by lower body injury prevention work and 1000 yards easy swimming.  Yoga and foam rolling in the afternoon.