Monday, October 31, 2011

Training log - Week ending 10/30/11

This week was 48 miles of "real running" and 18 "miles" pool running, plus 2500m of swimming breathing drills -- training log is here.

After two pretty hard weeks in a row, it was about time for some recovery. I was pretty sluggish for Tuesday’s workout, and so had no issue when I was shut down after 4 repeats. I felt sluggish on Wednesday as well, but was surprised by the distance and pace. The runs were faster and further than I had planned - the hazards of running without looking at your watch until after the run.

For both of these runs, the sluggish feeling didn’t appear to be affecting my paces, but I’d rather pull back from the brink of overreaching BEFORE it starts to slow me. Thus I focused on recovery for the balance of the week, including turning off the computer earlier, less miles, cutting the weight-training, higher carb intake, ice baths, and a massage.

It paid off, as by the weekend I was feeling refreshed, and closed out the weekend with a race that I was pretty happy with - it indicated that I’ve made progress in my efforts to run relaxed in a race situation. Report here.


Monday: In the morning, 50 minutes of easy pool-running for "5 miles", plus 1000m of swimming breathing drills and upper body/core strength training. Foam-rolling and stretching at night.

Tuesday: In the morning, 10.5 miles, including a track workout of 4x1200m at 4:48, 4:41, 4:33, 4:33. Followed by a shakeout 15 minutes of pool-running ("1.5 miles"). Injury prevention work, floor barre class, and foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: In the morning, 9 easy miles (8:38 pace) followed by yoga and then 6 more easy miles (7:52 pace). Too far and too fast. Foam rolling and stretching, plus an ice bath, at night.

Thursday: In the morning, 55 minutes of easy pool-running for "5.5 miles" plus 1500m of swimming breathing drills. Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Friday: In the morning, 9.5 easy miles (8:15 pace), plus drills and strides. A sports massage plus a very easy pilates class in the afternoon

Saturday: 2 easy miles of pool-running for "2 miles", plus a few injury prevention exercises, foam-rolling, and a pre-race ice bath.

Sunday: 13 miles, including a 2 mile warm-up jog, a 10K race in 41:45, and 5 more miles after the race (running or walking along the course, cheering marathon runners -- yes I log this). Followed with 40 minutes of easy pool-running for "4 miles". Yoga at night.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Why I'll always love indoors.

It's October.  To many of my friends, this means marathon time.  To others, the focus is on Halloween.  But while I enjoy a good Halloween party as much as the next person, and I'll be cheering at the Marine Corps Marathon on Sunday morning (after running the associated 10K), to me this time of year has always meant one thing.

Indoors.  AKA "the fall indoor horse show circuit."  A series of year end horse shows held in indoor facilities on the east coast during October and November, where the best horse/rider combinations from the past year come to compete.  It's hard to describe to a non-horsey runner.  The best analogy I can make is to imagine a fall series of three track meets, each a week long, for the 15-20 best in the country in each age group for each distance.  It's special because of the level of competition, and the chance to reconnect with those from other parts of the country, whom you may not have seen since last year.  It's also special because of the spectacle and the excitement.

It's utterly insane, in all the ways you'd expect a sport normally held in rural locations to be when relocated to urban sports arenas.  Madison Square Garden was never designed for horse shows, and yet for many years we were there, and at the Capital Centre just outside of DC, and at the State Farm Arena in Harrisburg, PA.  We lived in campers in arena parking lots, and rode horses up and down concrete ramps.

The horse show starts at 7 or 7:30 am each morning, and goes until 9-10 pm at night.  But that doesn't mean that you start at 7 and are done at night. There's no fields for the horses to be turned out in, and so they need to be exercised, and also to have a chance to look over the ring.  So, they "school" (i.e. are ridden) in the ring at the times the horse show isn't running -- generally between 11:00 pm and 6:30 am.  If you're showing in multiple divisions, you run on 3-4 hours of sleep each night for the whole week.  Even if you're only showing one or two, the excitement and the electricity keeps you up anyway, and you spend the day and night in a ringside seat instead of dozing in the camper.

You should be resting.  But instead you're watching others from the other side of the country, or shopping at one of the many vendors, or polishing your boots for the 10th time.  Or gawking at past Olympians as they wash their hands in the sink next to yours.  Or watching the rest of the "show" -- Jack Russell terrier racing, people doing back flips off off galloping horses, bull-riding.
terrier racing at the Washington International Horse Show

I first went to indoors as a little girl in 1983.  My parents knew that I liked horses, and had just started riding lessons.   So the whole family made a night of it, driving the hour long trip around the beltway to Landover so that I could meet Cass-Ole -- the horse that had just starred in the recently released Black Stallion Returns.  I wore my brand new jodphur pants to have my picture taken with the Black Stallion, then happily watched the horse show for the rest of the night while gorging myself on gourmet fudge, show program held tightly in hand.
 the night in 1983 that the Puissance indoor world record was set 
was NOT the night my parents took me to the horse show

Every year after, I went back, collecting a program, watching horse show, and eating gourmet fudge for dinner.  By the time I was 13, I was begging others to drive me to the Capital Centre for each night of the week-long Washington International Horse Show.  While other kids spent Halloween trick-or-treating, I was sitting in the stands.  There, I'd plan how I was eventually going to get my chance to ride in an arena normally dedicated to basketball games, and to see the highlights (or flaws) of my performance replayed on the huge
overhead screen.

Eventually I made it, qualifying in the Junior Jumper division in both 1991 and 1992.  1991 was a fantastic year.  I was by no means a top contender in my division, and so I'm pretty proud of the 8th place I earned in the "Junior Jumper National Championships" that year.

1992?  Well, we'll just say that going off to college for 2 months and riding placid intercollegiate horses around simple 3 foot courses is in no way proper preparation for riding a slightly neurotic mare around a highly technical course of 4'3"-4'9" jumps in a 'small ring.  It's like running a hilly half-marathon off of two months of exclusively pool-running and cycling.  You'll most likely survive, but it will be not be pretty, competitive, or fun.

1992 - a bit of a tougher year

Even after I "aged out" of my division, I returned to indoors year after year to watch, buying a program as a souvenir.  As the years have gone by, things have changed.   They no longer hold the National Horse Show at Madison Square Garden.  The Capital Centre was demolished 10 years ago, with the Washington International Horse Show being relocated to the Verizon Center in downtown DC, where it's struggled some (it's a great location for spectators, but very difficult for the horses, with the result that some top barns decline to show there).  The shows used to regularly sell out of spectator seats, but now they're half empty even for Puissance night (essentially a high jump competition that's pretty popular with the non-riding population).

And I've changed too.  My riding boots are a painful fit over my muscled runner's calves. I get a backache when I look at my old saddle and a headache when I think about cleaning it.  I've subbed a team sportsbra for a team saddlepad, and I'm content with that trade. The happiest and saddest thing about my riding career is that I know I went as far in the sport as I could with the talent I had.  I like to think that I haven't yet hit my limit runningwise.

I don't eat fudge any more, and when I sit in the stands with my patient boyfriend, I'm not dreaming about riding down there.  I'm content to map out how I would ride the posted course, rattling nonstop to poor Brian how it's much smarter to bend the line between those two jumps, so that you add an extra stride but have a much better chance at making the inside turn.... Like most people, I'm a much better rider in the stands then on a horse.   And Brian indulges me and eats fudge on my behalf as I read to him from the program that will be added to my collection when we get home.

After all the nearly 30 years I've been going as either a spectator or a participant, indoors is still magic to me.  If you need to find me this week, this is where I'll be.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Training log - Week ending 10/23/11

This week was 63 miles of “real running” and 18 “miles” pool running, plus 2000m of swimming breathing drills -- training log is here.

This week, as was the last, was all about practicing mental skills, and letting everything else be whatever it’ll be. I have no pace or time goals during my workouts any more. I simply try to perform the workouts as relaxed and fluidly as I can, and to stay as focused in the moment as possible, while smiling and laughing a lot. I disregard laps, split times, or # of reps during my workouts (I do log for later). Instead, I keep going until either I feel like stopping or the coach tells me to, at whatever pace feels fun but not really working. I don’t dig deep or push any more. If that means I run my tempo at slower than marathon pace, then so be it (though that hasn’t happened yet).

It’s a really weird thing, and extremely challenging. Essentially, I’m going into each workout with the intention of blowing it off, and I feel horrible and guilty about it. I despise slackers, and I feel like I should be working harder, giving my all, being tough, etc. But at the same time, this “slacker mentality” seems to be working. The more I try to blow off my workouts, the better they are. The more I try to ease off on the effort level, the faster I run.

Twice I’ve started a long winded explanation of why I think this is, and twice I’ve deleted it. Practicing not overthinking and overtrying doesn’t work if you then over-analyze why you get into trouble from overthinking and overtrying, and digress into a long discussion of how you’re overcoming that.

We’ll just leave it at: my goal for the rest of this year is to develop the skill of blowing off all of my workouts, and slacking off even more during my races.   It’ll be interesting to see where that gets me, and if nothing else, it’s a change of pace.

(bad pun, sorry).


Monday: In the morning, 50 minutes of easy pool-running for “5 miles”, plus 1000m of swimming breathing drills and upper body/core strength training. Foam-rolling and stretching at night.

Tuesday: In the morning, 10.5 miles, including a track workout of 1600m, 1200m, 800m, and 3x400m with half-distance recoveries. Splits were 6:08, 4:27, 2:46, 80, 81, 80. (800m PR). Concluded that track had been shortened. Followed by a shakeout 15 minutes of pool-running (“1.5 miles”). Injury prevention work, floor barre class, and foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: In the morning, 10 easy miles (8:26 pace) followed by yoga and then 3.5 more easy miles (8:16 pace). Foam rolling, stretching, and injury prevention exercises at night.

Thursday: In the morning, upper body strengthwork, 45 minutes of easy pool-running for “4.5 miles,” and 1000m of swimming breathing drills. Foam rolling, stretching, and injury prevention exercises at night.

Friday: In the morning, 10 miles on the track, plus drills and strides, including a 5.5 mile tempo in 36:42 for 6:43 pace. (I was feeling good, so decided to tack on an additional 800m for the heck of it.) Splits were 6:56, 6:45, 6:41, 6:37, 6:33, and then the bonus 800m at 6:20 pace. Yup, track has definitely been shortened. Followed up with 45 minutes of easy pool-running for “4.5 miles”. Pilates and foam-rolling at night.

Saturday: 10.5 miles easy outside (8:21 pace) plus drills and strides. Upper body strength training, injury prevention exercises, and foam-rolling at night.

Sunday: Long run of 18.5 miles averaging 7:28 pace, split as averaging 7:47 pace for first 11 miles, then averaging 7:05 for next 6, followed by a final mile at 6:43 pace, and a quarter-mile kick at 6:00 pace. Followed with 25 minutes of easy pool-running for “2.5 miles”. Yoga and foam rolling tonight.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Corral enforcement frustration

Every year, I run the Army 10 Miler in Washington, DC.  In many ways, it should be my favorite race of the year -- it's a fun course and the weather's usually great, plus I love the 10 mile distance.  But there's one thing that always leaves me sour, year after year.  The starting corrals.

To explain further, Army is a gigantic race, with nearly 30,000 runners.  Like other big races, Army then splits the runners into different corrals, based on a past race time.  Faster runners are assigned to the corrals at the front, slower runners at the back (corrals are color coded to match each runner's number bib).  In large races, the start is also split into waves.  For example, the first three corrals will start in order at 8:00 am as the "first wave," then the next few corrals at 8:10 am as the "second wave," and so forth.  (explanation here)

There's a reason for this practice, and it's not elitism.  In any situation where you have runners with different paces, it works best for the faster runners to start earlier.  The effect is a "reverse accordion," where the runners string out as they run, with the faster runners pulling away.  This means more space for everyone to run.  That's a good thing, especially on a narrow course.

Add in the use of a wave start, which gives each wave of runners time to clear the first mile of the course and string out before the next wave starts, and everyone gets a chance to run the race at their own pace.

It works great.  But only when enforced.  And at the Army 10 Miler it never is.  At all.  To the frustration of many.


Army is notorious for runners from the slower corrals and waves starting in the initial wave.  I understand their motivations for doing so.  Army, like many other races in DC, has a time cut-off.  All runners have to pass the 5 mile mark of the race on or before 9:35 am (the race starts at 8:00 am with the first wave) in order to be allowed to continue.  So, runners from the back waves and corrals jump into the lead corrals so that they can start the race as early as possible, to give themselves the most time possible to hit the five mile mark before 9:35.

I'm sure many of them think that it's a victimless crime, and simply don't understand the effect of their actions on others.  Well, here it is.


The net effect of the slower runners starting in the front corrals is a traffic jam, as faster runners are forced to dodge and dart around them.  The faster runners, most of whom are targeting specific times, have their race potentially ruined, due to losing too much time in the first miles.  The dodging and darting also increases the chances that a runner will trip, twist an ankle, etc.  As someone who has a time goal and starts in the first wave, I debate each year whether to enter Army, for the simple reason that I have no assurance that I'll have the opportunity to go for my goal.

Those that jump into faster corrals also ruin the races of those in their original corrals.  If the first wave is slowed, then it doesn't clear the course fast enough.  So then the start of the second and third waves is delayed, making it harder for those runners to achieve their goal of hitting the 9:35 cut-off time, since they have less time to do it.


One cause is likely lack of education -- many of the runners in the later waves don't understand the reasoning behind corrals and waves, or the fact that runners are assigned to corrals by times.  On the train to Army that morning, I had a group that was complaining about being in wave 3 observe that I was very smart to have registered so early so I would be in wave 1...  Sadly, I also think there are some runners that are aware of their consequences, but don't care -- as long as they get to run their own race, no one else matters.

Another aspect of the issue is enforcement -- unlike the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler (my favorite race of the year), Army doesn't monitor the corrals at all, effectively perpetuating the issue.  Army could enforce simply by having race staff monitor the entrances to each corral to check bib color.  Or alternately, by looking at race times afterwords, and noting runners who crossed the start line before their assigned wave.  But they do neither.  I honestly can't understand why.


So, wave 2 and 3-ers, when I can't totally suppress my dirty look as you enter my corral, it's honestly NOT because you're not wearing a team singlet, or that you have a different body type from me, or you're wearing a fanny pack or hydration belt, or you're not wearing racing flats.  That's not how I roll.

It's because your number clearly indicates that you've hopped into a corral you don't belong in, so that you have a chance at a good race even if you ruin the races of others.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Training log - Week ending 10/16/11

This week was 61 miles of “real running” and 17 “miles” pool running, plus 2000m of swimming breathing drills -- training log is here.

Still sick, though finally felt better by Sunday. Interestingly, though it was really hard to get out of bed in the morning, the bug didn’t seem to interfere with my workouts at all. Big focus this week was on trying to get all “zen” in my running (which don’t come easy). I successfully managed to lose track of how many laps I did on my tempo on Friday (just figured I’d keep going until I’d hit at least 33 minutes, and that’d be 20 laps), so that’s progress.


Monday: In the morning, 50 minutes of easy pool-running for “5 miles”, plus 1000m of swimming breathing drills and some light upper body/core strength training. Foam-rolling and stretching at night.

Tuesday: In the morning, 12.5 miles, including a track workout of 6x800 at 3:06, 3:01, 2:56, 2:59, 2:57, 2:52 (coach stopped me at 6), followed by a shakeout 15 minutes of pool-running (“1.5 miles”). Injury prevention work, floor barre class, and foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: In the morning, 6 very easy miles (9:16 pace) followed by yoga and then 7.5 more easy miles (7:58 pace). Foam rolling at night.

Thursday: In the morning, upper body strengthwork, 60 minutes of easy pool-running for “6 miles,” and1000m of swimming breathing drills.

Friday: In the morning, 10.5 miles, including a 5 mile tempo in 34:06 (6:52 pace, splits of 6:51, 6:55 (traffic), 6:51, 6:52, 6:44, plus drills and strides. Followed up with 20 minutes of easy pool-running for “2 miles”.

Saturday: 7 miles easy outside (8:07 pace) plus drills and strides. Foam-rolling at night.

Sunday: Long run of 18 miles averaging 7:37 pace, split as 7 miles at 8:06 pace, then 9 miles at 7:27 pace, then 2 miles at 6:54 (plus final quarter mile kick at 5:50 pace – had a tail wind). Followed with 25 minutes of easy pool-running for “2.5 miles”. Yoga and foam rolling at night.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Lets just hypothesize that a certain someone goes pool-running this morning, around 7 am.

And that certain someone then realizes that it's 8:00 pm, and she still hasn't showered, due to work pile-on (said person works from home). 

That's not too bad right?  Chlorine, right?

People in the dark ages went without showers, and had no chlorine, and did just fine, right?

(well, except for the fact that they all died at approximately the age of our protagonist, but we'll ignore that for the nonce)

This is one of the advantages of pool-running, right?

Anyone? Bueller? 

*shuffles off to the shower*

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Training log - Week ending 10/9/11

This week was 46 miles of “real running” and 21 “miles” pool running. No swimming – wasn’t an option with my damn sinuses-- training log is here.

This was a planned taper and race week that turned into a recovery week, due to some damn flu/cold bug that I’m still fighting the remnants of. Did my planned 10 mile race as a fun run, and in the process proved a lot about how much my mind gets in the way of my running in the process. Race report. So, in some ways a sucky week, but in other ways a fantastic one.


Monday: In the morning, a mixed intervals workout of 12 repeats of coughing intervals plus 20 nose blows. Also worked my sore throat. More sore throat in the afternoon, plus fever. On the plus side, I did get to watch 8 hours of streaming horse show coverage. 50 minutes of gentle pool-running at night for “5 miles”, plus foam rolling.

Tuesday: In the morning, 2.5 very easy miles outside (8:44 pace), and then 55 minutes of easy pool-running for “5.5 miles” followed by injury prevention work. Very light upper body strength work (unless coughing and sneezing counts), floor barre class, and foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: In the morning, 8.5 very easy miles (9:05 pace) followed by injury prevention work and then 4 more miles (8:15). Pilates class plus foam rolling at night.

Thursday: In the morning, 13 easy miles outside (8:02 pace). Some upper body strengthwork plus injury prevention exercises and foam rolling at night.

Friday: In the morning, 8 very easy miles (8:37 pace) plus drills and strides. Followed up with 25 minutes of easy pool-running for “2.5 miles” and injury prevention exercises. Foam rolling at night.

Saturday: 40 minutes of very easy pool-running for “4 miles”, plus foam-rolling and stretching at night.

Sunday: 10 mile race-as-a workout in 69:09. Followed with 40 minutes of easy pool-running for “4 miles”. Yoga and foam rolling tonight.

Race report: Army 10 Miler, October 9, 2011

 I ran the Army 10 Miler this morning as a training run, finishing in an unofficial time of 69:09.  Ironically, given that I a) didn’t race it, and b) finished nowhere near my PR, it was one of the best races I’ve had.

Things started out inauspiciously when I was sick as a dog this week with what was either a bad cold or a mild flu.  It was bad enough for long enough that I opted to swap this week’s plan from “taper and then race” to “take a recovery week with a hard workout on Sunday.”

By Friday, I was feeling OK if not great, but then Saturday afternoon I had what felt like a relapse and debated skipping the race.  I decided that I’d just show and decide whether to do it as a workout or as an easy run.  Either way, my focus was going to be on running relaxed the entire course, with no straining, whether that was at 7 minute, 8 minute, or 9 minute pace.

This morning started off kinda sucky.  I woke up feeling lousy, and once again considered bailing on the race.  But I didn’t feel so bad that I couldn’t jog 10 miles at easy pace, and so that became my back-up plan.  Plus, I was committed to meet Cheryl to lend her some KT tape for the race.  So I dragged myself out of bed and to the bathroom, where I proceeded to knock my Army 10 Miler coffee mug (bought the year I set a PR at Army) off of the counter, breaking it.  Arguably, not an auspicious sign.

The rest of the morning was a similar exercise in frustration.  I drove to the Farragut West metro station, arriving at 6:35 under the assumption that I’d have plenty of time to meet my friend Cheryl at the bag check for the race at 7:15 (it’s normally a 10 minute ride, plus the time you spend waiting for the train).  Nope.  Mechanical difficulties meant that my train was delayed for more than 20 minutes on the buried track between Arlington Ceremony and Pentagon.  My train finally arrived at Pentagon at 7:05.  Then it took a ridiculous amount of time to exit the station, with the result that I didn’t get to bag check until 7:20.  Spent some time looking for Cheryl, and then decided that she had likely already given up on me.  So I cut a few strips of KT tape for her, checked my bag, and headed off to find my corral, doing a walk/shuffle/jog through the crowd that would end up being the bulk of my warm-up.  

By the time I got to my corral, I was annoyed, feeling sick, and debating (again) why the heck I was here.  I did one pseudo stride (at goal 50 miler pace) and a single skipping drill that made me aware of just how sleepy I still was.  Then I saw Cheryl and remembered why I was at the race.  Got her taped up, and then joined the crowds in my corral.  I was surrounded by people with “wave 2 and wave 3” bibs - a lot of people in slower waves cheat by sneaking into the first corral to maximize their chances at meeting the cut off time for Army, with no care for whether they’re ruining others’ races.  I normally get infuriated by this, but I frankly didn’t care this time – I wasn’t racing, so they couldn’t really ruin my race.

Then the race started, and after a minute or two walking to the start, I crossed the start line and hit my Garmin and picked up easy pace, hanging with the wave 2-ers.  I had my Garmin screen set to “bike cadence” which means it was effectively blank.  I was going to run this relaxed and easy, and not let the watch tell me otherwise.  

Since I didn’t run this race with any plan except “have fun, stay relaxed and easy, run through the finish line,” I have no overanalytical blow-by-blow, just an extended essay of interest to few save myself.


 I felt horrible through the first mile, and then loosened up a bit.  I smiled a lot, waved at my friends, and chatted with other runners.  I thanked the wounded soldiers running as I passed them, and focused on how much I liked running.   It was a bit hot, but I decided to ignore the fact that I hate running in sunshine, and instead bask in how nice it felt.  

Every time I felt like I was hitting what I think of as race effort, I backed off to a pace I felt I could hold forever.  I slowed up and drank at every water station to practice drinking from a cup while running, and ignored the mile markers, trying even to forget which mile I was in (I did click lap at each one, just to have the info for later).

At the turn onto the 14th Street Bridge, I started falling into my old habit of anticipating the finish line, and started to push/rush.  And then I said stop (mentally), hit the brakes, and returned to zenning out.   I decided not to dread the rolling hills, but instead enjoyed them, as a roller coaster of sorts.  The infamous “grim reaper” was on the bridge, and I waved at him and laughed as I passed.

[To explain, there’s somebody who always stands on the 14th Street bridge during the Army 10 Miler and Marine Corps Marathon races, attired in a skull and black cloak, holding a scythe and a sign reading “the end is near.”  Depending on your perspective, this is either hysterical or infuriating, as the 14th Street Bridge is a set of rolling hills with no crowd support, and is also a) where those racing Army are starting to struggle and b) those racing MCM are hitting the 20 mile glycogen depletion wall].

On the bridge, I also ended up running next to the boyfriend of one of my running friends, Emily – Jake was running with a group of friends at what was clearly a very easy pace for them.  I called out and said hi, earning myself a gentle rebuke – “hey – shouldn’t you be working harder!”  I laughed , because the same was more than applicable to them.

And then I just enjoyed the rest of the run.  A few times I felt the urge to start pushing towards the finish line, and each time I thought “BRAKES” and returned to zoning into my rhythm.  I wasn’t slowing, but I was also making sure not to push.  Then suddenly the finish line was 150m ahead, and I decided to kick for the heck of it.

Crossed it and hit stop.  I was breathing easily and walking comfortably – a marked change from my last few races, where I’ve been unable to stand on my own at the finish.  It was weird.  Racing’s supposed to hurt like hell, and this didn’t.  But then again, I wasn’t racing.

 I shifted screens on my Garmin, expecting to see around 72-73 minutes or so, and…69:09.  A minute off of my PR (set on a flat course in perfect chilly weather as an all-out collapse at the finish effort), and faster than I had run both Cherry Blossom and Broad Street this year, both of which were faster courses than this, and all out efforts.

I started laughing.

Splits were:
Mile 1: 7:38
Mile 2: 7:02
Mile 3: 7:17
Mile 4: 6:57
Mile 5: 6:53
Mile 6: 6:48
Mile 7: 6:57
Mile 8: 6:47
Mile 9: 6:37
Mile 10: 6:14.

So, what can I take from this?  That I need to relax more and just enjoy my running, and forget about pushing to the finish line, or even racing.  Do that, and the times will come.  The last three miles were the hardest and hilliest, and yet my fastest.  And my final mile was well below my 5K PR pace, and yet I was barely out of breath, and felt less drained after this race than I do after a tempo on the track.

Yup, clear proof that my body’s capable of running much faster than my hyper-competitive type A personality will let it.  And that I run my best when I have fun and DON’T try to get competitive and race others or the clock.  Though you can never know what you WOULD have run, just what you did, I think I might even have come close to my PR with the same relaxed effort level had I been a) not sick and b) warmed-up.

Having fun is NOT one of my strengths.  I actually really suck at it.  I like work and achievement and pushing hard and winning, not grins and waves.  But I guess 37’s not too old to learn a new skill.  I’ll start on that tomorrow.  Tonight I’m hitting the vitamin C and Zinc.  And doing some smiling drills.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A different sort of race report

[Race reports generally include a combination of rationalization, overanalysis, and self-justification.  This one is no different.]

So, I competed in the annual "congestionachessorethroatsleepy 5k (at least)" this week.  You'll note the distance isn't entirely determined -- that's because the damn symptoms have lasted at least 4 days, aka 5760 minutes. 

I prepped pretty well for this one.  Felt achy, stiff, and sore on Saturday (mostly shoulders, oddly enough), but figured it was allergies.  Sneezed umpteen times, but had to be allergies. Couldn't sleep on Saturday night, but figured that maybe it was because I was racing on Sunday.

Showed up for 10K race on Sunday.  Felt cold, but figured that was because it was cold.  Felt very achy and sneezing a lot, but figured it was allergies.  So I raced.  And then decided to be lazy and not change out of my sweaty soaked racing clothes right after.  And then decided to push through what just felt like exceptional post-race fatigue and jog an easy 6 miles that afternoon.

Prep was perfect.

The cold itself started out pretty promising, with major congestion, low grade fever (99.1 -- my normal temp is generally in the low 97s), sore throat, and the inability to do anything requiring upper body strength.  Unfortunately, from there I faded, with the throat and congestion lessening with each day.  In retrospect, I could have prolonged this thing a lot longer if I had forced myself to do a 10 mile run on Monday, followed by ice bath.  I'll do better next time.

Day 1: hours spent sleeping: 4; hours spent awake in bed: 4; hours spent awake but useless on couch watching on-line horse show - 12.
Day 2: hours spent sleeping: 8; hours spent awake but useless on couch watching on-line horse show - 10.
Day 3: hours spent sleeping: 8; hours spent attempting to work: 8; hours spent awake but useless on couch watching on-line horse show: 4.
Day 4: hours spent sleeping: 8.  Hours spent attempting to work versus being awake but useless -- TBD.

I thought I handled my nutrition pretty well here.  Consumption included:
  • 14 Cold-eeze zinc lozenges 
  • 1 tub Whole Foods Turkey and White Bean Chili
  • 2 pints Vanilla Coconut Milk Ice Cream
  • 2 pints Vanilla Coconut Mile yogurt
  • Too much Vitamin Water to describe
Other notes:  Used Neti Pot and washed pillow cases compulsively.  Gargled massive amounts of Listerine.  Skipped tissue paper in favor of generic paper towels, which seem to hold up more effectively to the unique force of my sneezing.  Took minimum of 3 hot showers per day.  Ran space heater 12+ hours per day (can't wait to see my power bill).  Tripped fuse at least twice each day by failure to recall that I can't run the space heater and make tea in the microwave simultaneously.  Discovered to my frustration that snooze function on alarm clock doesn't work.  Knocked alarm clock off of bed side table thrice while discovering this.  Knocked cat off of bed side table once while wrestling with alarm clock.



Sunday, October 2, 2011

Training log - Week ending 10/2/11

This week was 53 miles of “real running” and 14 “miles” pool running plus 2500m of swimming -- training log is here.

Still working on mental toughness and positive attitude. It’s been working well for the most part, but backfired on me when I went out too fast in my 10K on Sunday (hit the first mile in 6:20, which is the pace I’m supposed to be doing mile repeats on the track in…oops). Race report. I continue to be a work in progress, and underperform in my races as compared to my workouts. Much of this has been due to a lack of positivity on my part, which I'm working to change.  However, confidence and positivity doesn’t equate to lack of conservatism in the early miles.

Felt like utter crap on Saturday and Sunday, but I’m guessing/hoping that’s due to mold allergies – the mold has been sky-high. Like all my allergies, they don’t seem to actually affect me once I’m running, which is a good thing. It is a bit disappointing that I’m affected at all – the quercetin I’ve been taking has made my pollen allergies an absolute non-issue, but it doesn’t seem to do the same for mold.

Since the Philadelphia half I’ve been running all of my runs, including workouts, effectively watchless, and I’m really liking it. I do wear the Garmin, and hit “lap” where appropriate, but I keep the face set to “time of day” when I run. It’s been helping me focus on staying relaxed and focused in the moment, and not overthinking. I run best when I just think about enjoying it and feeling the sensation of my feet hitting the ground – and I’m working to get myself to the place where that’s the norm.


Monday: In the morning, 50 minutes of very easy pool-running for “5 miles” plus 1000m of swimming breathing drills and some upperbody strengthwork. Stretching and foam-rolling at night.

Tuesday: In the morning, 11 miles on the track, including a workout of 7x800m, with splits of 3:04, 2:57, 3:00, 2:58, 3:01, 2:55, 2:59 (planned to do 8, but got shut down after 7). Dewpoint was a hellacious 71. Followed up with 20 minutes of easy pool-running for “2 miles”.

Wednesday: In the morning, 8 easy miles (8:27) and 1500m of swimming breathing drills. Upper body weights, stretching, foam rolling and injury prevention work at night.

Thursday: In the morning, 13 miles outside, including an abbreviated tempo of 2 miles at 6:39 pace. Average pace for the easy miles was 8:11. Followed with 20 minutes of easy pool-running for “2 miles.” Foam-rolling/stretching at night.

Friday: In the morning, 7 easy miles (8:23 pace) plus drills and strides. Followed up with 30 minutes of easy pool-running for “3 miles”. Pilates session plus foam rolling at night.

Saturday: Off, except for foam-rolling and stretching.

Sunday: 2 mile warm-up, 10K race in 41:27, and 6 mile shake out later (8:44 pace). Followed with 20 minutes of easy pool-running for “2 miles”. Feeling like I’ve been run over by a truck, so skipping yoga, though I did some foam rolling.