Monday, May 28, 2012

Race report: Loudoun Street Mile, May 28, 2012

I ran the Loudoun Street Mile today -- my first road mile ever -- finishing in a time of 5:30.6 5:31.5 (they do decimals for these things and also later adjusted the results).  That was good enough for 16th overall and 2nd in my age group.  It was also a 18 second PR over my track mile PR from last summer (which is, in fairness, the only mile I had ever raced before today).  So yay.

My plan this summer, as I've noted before, is to race the mile or shorter a lot.  It's great for developing a comfort with running very fast and also a way to race without compromising one's training too much, as it requires very little taper or recovery.  Additionally, the oppressive heat and humidity of a DC summer really isn't much of a factor for a race that lasts six minutes or less.

A few weeks back, I had been browsing the race listings, and I noted a cool-looking road mile out in Winchester, Virginia (about 90 minutes from DC).  It looked like a lot of fun, but as someone who doesn't specialize in this distance, I really couldn't justify three hours total of driving for the race.

And then some friends who lived not too far from Winchester invited us to drive out and visit on the afternoon/early evening of the 26th (Saturday).  Well, Saturday was booked, but....hey!  We could go on Sunday, visit them, then stay over the night in Winchester (saving us a late night drive back to DC) and I could race the mile in the morning.  Brian was on board, and a Sunday visit worked for our friends, and the plan was set.


So, we drove out to Winchester on Sunday (stopping on the way to give my horse a bath), checked in and showered at the hotel, then headed off to visit our friends.  Dinner was fun, punctuated by a cute offer by our (non-running) hosts to provide a special meal so I could carb load for my race...  I explained that this wasn't that type of race, and that steak was actually perfect.

[for the record, steak's pretty much perfect anytime]

We did stay out a bit past my bed time, but I wasn't terribly concerned -- the race wasn't until 9 am, and since it was just a fun thing for me, I wasn't too worried.

Then rolled out of bed in the morning, and did a leisurely jog to the start line (about 1200m from my hotel).  And, since it was a mile race, I could also jog the entire course back and forth, and then some, for my warm-up.  So I did, noting the elevation profile of the course.  My coach had told us to be patient the first quarter mile, and then "let her rip".  But when I jogged the course, I noted that the course had a decent uphill in the second quarter mile.  So, I decided that patience was a virtue that could be extended, and that I'd avoid the temptation to attack the hill with everything I had, saving it for the end.

That was part of my plan.  But the main plan was just to stay as relaxed as I could, run tall, and see what happened.

Jogged, did an extended set of drills and many stride plus one 400m repeat equivalent (done about 10 minutes before the race - my rationale was that since my first workout repeat always sucks, I might as well get it done before the race) and said hi to my teammates.  And then we lined up, with the vibe much different and more intense than the longer races I've done.  Seconds count a LOT in a mile race, and no one was losing even one at the start line.  And the gun went off.


In retrospect, I've decided that a mile race, especially a road mile, is the closest that running comes to a rollercoaster. There's this sheer sense of tenseness/readyness at the start of a mile race that is so entirely different from any other race.  It's very much like the silence right before a rollercoaster tips over the peak of the first descent.  Then all of the sudden, the gun goes, and everything's in motion, and there's no thought at all.  You just fly.  And you're shocked at how quickly the race is over.  Just gunshot....WHEE!...Finish!

I really didn't notice much during the race -- there wasn't much time.  I did note that I was pretty far in the back during the first minute of the race, and then there was carnage as people started slowing on each side.  The same thing happened on the back side of the hill on the second quartermile.  As with everything in such a short race, the fades were very sudden.  No..."I think she's coming back to me," just someone who was ahead, and then suddenly behind.

One fun feature of the race was that they had quartermile markers, with a person calling splits at each one.  I generally ignore splits and just run by feel, but here I listened to them with a bit of fascination.  Here they are, and my reactions:

First quarter: 82 -OK.  I've heard this before, during some of my 400m repeats. Nothing to note here.

Second quarter: 2:48 - Also familiar - this is about as fast as I usually can run an 800m during practice.  Cool. This number is familiar territory, and I'm still feeling pretty in control.

Third quarter: 4:09 - I have NEVER HEARD this number before.  I have no idea how fast or slow this is, it's just foreign.  Oh hey - there's the finish line.  Just RELAX and don't stare at it.

(I was pretty good at the last bit.  I did tighten up a bit at the very end of the race, but I think that's normal for a mile race)

And that was all I pretty much had time to think.  The race went so quickly that even as I was idly processing the fact that I had just passed one marker, I was approaching the next.  Very different from my experience in longer races where it's at least 6 minutes between each marker. 


So splits ended up being:

1:22 (very slight downhill)
1:26 (decent uphill)
1:21 (decent downhill)
1:21 (very slight uphill, plus some slightly rough footing -- the last bit of the race was in a pedestrian mall, so the footing shifted from asphalt to bricks and stone).

And as was my experience with the one other mile race I've done, this was really not very painful.  Oh sure, my lungs felt like they were on fire and my legs couldn't go any faster, but that's been true of many of my longer races too (and the lungs on fire happens during workouts in this humidity also, alas).  But this time, when that happened, I only had about 30-40 seconds left in the race, instead of another mile or two.  Like ripping a band-aid off.  Easy.  When can we do it again?


Other notes:
  • Used inhaler twice an hour before, and twice 20 minutes before race.  Needed it once more after.  My lungs feel like someone took a blow torch to them.  But it was worth it.
  • Temperature of 75, DP of 70, and sunny.  But not a factor during the race at all (except for the sunburn). 
  • This was really fun.  A+ would do again.
  • Started a bit behind the start line, as the field was pretty stacked, and I had no business being further up.  But, since it was not chip-timed, part of me wonders if I actually broke can dream, I guess.  Or just race again, that's more fun.

Training log - week ending 5/27/12

This week was 49 miles of “real running” and “15 miles” pool running, plus 2250 yards of swimming breathing drills -- training log is here.

So, my “break month” is almost to an end. The last 3 weeks have been a mental break – I’ve been doing workouts and runs, but deliberately trying not to dig deep for them, and also not to show up for anything I didn’t want to do.

Of course, since I really like training, I ended up making it to every single workout anyway. So now I’m mentally refreshed, and ready to go. But since I didn’t take a slew of non-running days during my mental break (didn’t want to, and the point was to do whatever I wanted), I’m now thinking I should force myself to take a few.

So that’s my plan for this week. I’ll race a mile on Monday for fun (race report to come), and then take the rest of the week as no-running (or as close to it as I can muster) before doing Race for the Cure on Saturday as a fun run. Then an easy run on Sunday, and back into “normal” training on Monday (first week of June).

Other thing of note for the week was my bout of food poisoning on Tuesday night. In a nutshell, this is the second time I’ve made dinner using clams from a can, and the second time I’ve gotten sick about 6 hours after. I’m NEVER eating canned clams again. In fact, I don’t think I’m ever eating shellfish again.

Funny thing was, it cleared pretty quickly. I had every intention of taking Wednesday off, but ended up feeling good enough to run anyway. Only lingering effect was some nausea and heartburn that lasted into the weekend. But no, never eating clams again.


Monday: In the morning, 70 minutes of easy poolrunning for “7 miles,” and then weight lifting and injury prevention work (also some quick foam-rolling). Foam rolling and stretching at night.

Tuesday: In the morning, 12 miles, including a track workout of two sets of 1600m, 800m; followed by 4x200m. Splits were 6:01, 2:57, 5:57, 2:48, and then the 200's in 37, 38, 39, 37. Followed with injury prevention work and then 20 minutes of shake out pool-running for “2 miles.” Floor barre and foam rolling at night.  

Wednesday: In the morning, 10.5 miles easy (8:10 pace) followed by a yoga class. Later, 3.5 miles easy (7:49 pace). Foam rolling and stretching at night.  

Thursday: In the morning, strength training and injury prevention exercises, followed by 1000 yards of swimming breathing drills and 45 minutes of easy poolrunning for “4.5 miles.” Foam rolling and stretching at night.

Friday: In the morning, 11.5 miles, including a 5K tempo in 20:06 (6:36, 6:27, 6:21, and 42 for final bit - 6:29 pace). Followed with injury prevention work and 20 minutes of shakeout pool-running. Pilates plus foam-rolling and stretching at night.  

Saturday: In the morning, 11.5 miles aerobic (7:50 pace average, but I can’t call easy, simply because we got too dehydrated) plus some drills pre-run. Foam rolling in the afternoon, plus an ice bath.  

Sunday: 1250 yards of swimming breathing drills plus injury prevention work.  Foam rolling and stretching in the afternoon.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Injury Prevention Work

In my weekly training log, I'll often reference injury prevention exercises.  Ever wondered what those were?  Here they are.

Keep in mind that this is my routine, to address my weaknesses (ankle and foot weakness, glutes that don't fire, a tendency for runners' knee, and poor bone density in my spine).  Everyone's different, with their own areas to target, so these may not work for you.

I split my injury prevention exercises into two categories - "challenging" and "easy".  The "easy" ones are those that don't take much out of me, and that I can do every day without fearing that I'm compromising my recovery or taper for my next race.  (and I do try to do them daily)

The "challenging" ones are more physically demanding -- I always do these immediately after my hard running workouts, as the final part of the workout.  That way, I have the maximum time to recover before my next hard running workout (and running IS the priority).

Easy  I shoot for doing these daily, or at least 5 times a week. They don't drain me, so the only reason not to do them is time.  And I've decided that the time spent doing these regularly is more beneficial to my overall running progression than an extra 5-10 easy miles a week.  First rule of improving in running - don't get injured.
Bosu.  I have the flat side up
  • Hip hikes. Video here.  Balance on one foot barefoot, and "hike" the other hip for one minute while maintaining correct posture (important).  I do for 60 seconds on each side.  Good for stability and glute activation, plus foot strength.
  • Balance on one foot on bosu. Take a bosu, and turn it round side down.  Then balance on one bare foot for one minute while swinging the other leg like you were running.  Again, posture is key.  Addresses the same issues as the hip hikes.
  • Stool dips.  These are a great exercise that target the glutes and quads, but also get the feet and lower legs.  I balance, barefoot, on a 12 inch plyo box.  I then balance on top of the box/pad on one leg, with the other leg held straight and extended in front of the box.  Then, I bend the knee on my standing leg and perform a controlled single leg squat until the heel on the other leg gently touches the ground, then rise back up.  I do 10 of these on each leg, and then a second set with my dangling leg to the side (rather than to the front).  Big point again is to maintain correct posture and not let one hip or the other collapse.
  • Balancing with my eyes closed.  My nemesis.  I've programmed my Garmin to a "workout" of 8 times 25 seconds on, 5 seconds off.  The Garmin vibrates at the end of each 25 or 5 second interval.  So, start the Garmin, and balance on one foot with my eyes closed for 25 seconds.  Then take the 5 second break to open eyes and shift to other foot.  I do these barefoot.  And I stink at them.  But I will master them.
  • Picking up stones with feet   I keep a small tub full of stones near my sofa.  When I get a few minutes free, I empty the stones onto the floor and then pick each up individually with my feet to return to the tub.  The purpose is to strengthen my feet.
  • Towel scrunches  While my breakfast cooks in the microwave, I toss a towel on the floor and scrunch it up under my toes.  Again, feet strength.
  • Toe yoga.  Name for this was coined by my PT.  Push big toe down for 5 seconds while lifting other four toes up.  Then lift big toe up for 5 seconds while pressing other four toes down.  Repeat for 2 minutes.  Added bonus is that you can do these at any time -- those of you with office jobs and closed toe shoes could even do during meetings.
  • Foot band exercises.  This is ankle inversion/eversion, using a theraband (those latex stretchy bands).  First, tie a loop in one end of a theraband, then tie the other end to something.  Now, stick your foot into the loop, so that the band is around the foot roughly half-way between toes and heel.  Move far enough back that there is tension in the band, then slowly first "invert" your foot against resistance (move the inside of your foot more to the inside) for a set of reps, then "evert" your foot (move the outside of your foot more to the outside).  I do 20 reps each of inversion and eversion on each foot, for 80 reps total, on a daily basis. (here's another article explaining).   These work the anterior tibialis, the peroneals longus and brevis, and the posterior tibialis.
  • Eccentric calf dips Video.  These are the gold standard for addressing (or preventing, which is even better) achilles tendonitis.

  • I use a body bar like one of these
    for my anterior tibialis
  • Anterior tibialis lifts.  This strengthens the anterior tibialis muscle on the outside front of the shin.  I take a body bar, and (while standing) place one end on my toes while holding the other end of the bar in my hand.  Then I lift the bar with my toes.  I do sets of 10 reps; weight between 12-15 pounds.

  • Marching glute bridges and side planks with leg lift.  For engagement and strengthening of glutes medius and maximus.  My PT explains them very well, so I'll send you to his write up (go to pages 10 and 12).  I aim for 3 sets of 10 for each daily.

  • Single leg deadlifts  Balance on one nearly straight leg while holding a weight (dumbbell or kettlebell)  in one hand, then lean forward (keeping torso square) while simultaneously lowering the hand with the weight to the floor in front of you and raising your other leg behind you.  Here's a good description.    It's key to keep the movement controlled and your core engaged, with hips level (no twisting or rotating). This forces your core and glutes to work together, and also makes your feet and lower legs work some to stabilize you.  I do these everyday with light weight or no weight at all as an "easy" exercise that challenges balance and coordination.  Increase the weight, and you have a more challenging exercise (see below).

Challenging  As noted above, these are the exercises that are beneficial, but also can tire me and fatigue the same muscles I use when running.  In order to ensure that these DON'T compromise my running workouts, I do these immediately after my hardest running workouts (intervals, tempo, long run).  That way, I have the best chance to recover from them before the next workout  Effective training isn't just about stress, but about the proper balance of stress and recovery; doing squats on an easy day is a good way to compromise your training. 

And of course, since the goal of these is injury prevention, I skip them if I feel that I tweaked something during a workout.  It'd be pretty stupid to get injured doing the very thing that's supposed to keep you healthy.
Ye olde power cage.
  • Barbell squats.  Pretty self explanatory.  Set up power cage, weight up the bar, and squat.  I do in sets of 8 -- if you must know the #s, I start at one set of 8 reps of 115 pounds, and then up the weight by 5-20 pounds for each successive set - usually ending anywhere between 145 and 155.  My goal in doing these is to place weighted stress on my spine to encourage bone density there (I have osteopenia in my spine that's close to osteoporosis levels, so this type of work is really important).  I only squat to barely parallel; since my goal is spine loading, I'd rather get more reps with a more limited range of motion.

  • Good mornings.  Another good one for placing load on the spine.  Video here.  I do for 2-3 sets of 10 reps, usually between 95-115 pounds. 
  • Single leg deadlifts.  Same as above, only I use a heavy weight - up to about 35 pounds if I'm up to it.  This is great for making your glutes medius and maximus coordinate with your core.  I hold the dumbbell in one hand only, which makes me work a little harder to keep balance, since the single weight pulls me to the side.  I'll do this both with the weight in the same hand as the leg I'm balancing on (right hand, right leg) and opposite hand and leg.

  • Quad presses with limited range of motion.  I have a slight tendency towards runners knee, with a very clear cause -- my vastus medialis ("VMO") muscle on the inside of my thigh tends to get weaker than my other quads, with the result that my knee cap gets pulled slightly out of alignment.  Very easy fix -- keep the VMO strong.  So I sit on a leg extension machine and isolate the VMO by working a very small range of motion - just from knee almost straight to knee straight.  If you increase the range of motion by bending the knee more, other muscles get engaged, so it's better to stick to a very narrow range of movement, and pulse the muscle within that range.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Training log - Week ending 5/20/12

This week was 69 miles of “real running” and 14 “miles” pool running, plus 2500 yards of swimming breathing drills -- training log is here.

This was a good basic training week. DC heat and humidity is starting to hit – it was really bad on Tuesday/Wednesday, and then eased up. But it will be back. I’ve been forcing myself to wear a long sleeve t-shirt on all my runs, simply to force some heat acclimation. But, as of today, I’m declaring it sports-bra weather – I’m about as acclimated as I’m going to get, and the weather will do the acclimation work for me from here.  The next two weeks will be cutbacks, as I’m racing both weekends, and also am taking a light week this week both to force myself to rest and for social obligations.

On Memorial Day, I’m doing my first road mile race, which will be fun. Totally not my focus distance, so just a chance to play with something different. Then the weekend after that is either the “Race for the Cure 5K” or a track mile – which one depends on the weather. I’m leaning towards the track mile, but will do the 5K if we get a break in the weather and I feel like it.

Only other thing of note is the new addition to my injury prevention routine. Having mastered single leg deadlifts, I’m now adding in balancing on one leg with my eyes closed, having been convinced of the value. I’ve gotten it to 25 very tentative seconds… I’ll be pretty proud of myself when I master this for a full minute.

And yes, easiest injury prevention drill ever , seriously. You can do this at any time of day, in nearly any location, and it takes very little time. I’m doing 8 reps of 25 seconds each; with 5 seconds to swap legs (it’s programmed into my Garmin). Takes a total of 4 minutes. No excuses.


Monday: In the morning, 1000 yards of swimming breathing drills and 50 minutes of easy poolrunning for “5 miles,” and then weight lifting and injury prevention work (also some quick foam-rolling). Foam rolling and stretching at night.

Tuesday: In the morning, 12 miles, including a track workout of two sets of 1200, 800, 400. Splits were 4:34, 3:00, 1:25, 4:29, 2:59, 1:25 (ridiculously humid, and I just could never catch my breath, so no negative splitting here). Followed with injury prevention work and then 10 minutes of shake out pool-running for “1.5 miles”. Floor barre and foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: In the morning, 10 miles easy (7:52 pace) followed by a yoga class. Later, 5 miles easy (7:43 pace) plus some drills. Got a sports massage at night.

Thursday: In the morning, strength training and injury prevention exercises, followed by 1500 yards of swimming breathing drills and 40 minutes of easy poolrunning for “4 miles.” Foam rolling and stretching at night.

Friday: In the morning, 12 miles, including a 3.5 mile tempo in 22:25 (6:25, 6:25, 6:24, and 3:11 for extra half mile – 6:27 pace). Followed with injury prevention work and 20 minutes of shakeout pool-running. Pilates plus foam-rolling and stretching at night.

Saturday: In the morning, 13 miles very easy (7:44 pace) plus drills and strides. Upper body strengthwork, injury prevention work, and foam rolling in the afternoon.

Sunday: A progressive long run of 16.5 miles - averaged 7:30 pace, with first 3 miles at 8:27 pace, 7:40 for next 7.5, 6:59 for next 4 miles, and 6:36 pace for last 2. Followed with injury prevention work and then 20 minutes of shakeout pool-running. Yoga and foam rolling are tonight.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Tattoos and other transactions

I have one tattoo.  It's a wavy black line around my ankle that looks at first glance to be an ankle bracelet.  And that was the point -- it amuses me that people keep doing a double-take, trying to figure out which one it is.  After all, a woman with an ankle tattoo is a completely different type of person from a woman wearing an ankle bracelet...

I've never regretted it, because I followed tattoo rule #1 -- I settled on the design, and then waited a full year.  I was happy with the design 365 days later, so I went to Rick's.  Some 20 years later, I still love it.

[I also followed tattoo rule #2 -- I got it on a place on my body that was unlikely to shrink, expand, sag, or wrinkle as I aged]

There's been a few other tattoos that I've debated getting; but no other design has made it longer than 3 months before I changed my mind. 


I used to say that I'd never run a marathon.  It was my joke for years -- I did the training, but just skipped the race.  And it worked well for me -- I do strongly believe that marathon training benefits all long distance running, since all long distance events are primarily aerobic.

Why did I say I wouldn't run one?  Because I was pretty sure I'd suck at them.  I handle pain well, boredom less well.  And I was also worried about my nutrition -- at the time I was unable to handle ANYTHING digestively while running.  No gels, no shotbloks, nothing.  They all made me sick.  And I really stink at drinking water from cups while seated, let alone running.  If you can't take on nutrition and hydrate during a marathon, you're in trouble.

And then I joined a running team.  And started training with marathoners, and I started noticing that the long runs were by far the easiest workout for me each week. 

And I also went through a whole long ordeal last spring that resulted in figuring out what was going on with my digestive system.  I made some dietary changes (well, a LOT of dietary changes), and then the longstanding inflammation of my insides subsided and I was able to actually eat gels while running without doubling up on the side of the road.

And I mentally laced up.

I gave myself a 6 month waiting period, and then I asked my coach what he thought about me trying a marathon.  "A marathon would be good!" and so there we were.  But...which one?


I'd love to give myself another long waiting period, simply because a marathon can etch itself upon you, not unlike a tattoo.  If I'm going to commit, I'd best be comfortable with the design.  But in this day, where races can sell out in hours or days, you can't wait too long.

So, I hemmed and hawed and bugged my coach and sent links to my boyfriend and played on RunnersWorld and surfed MarathonGuide.

Here's the ones I was considering, and my final decision.

5.  Rock and Roll Arizona - Phoenix, AZ, January 20, 2013
This was originally my first choice.  It's in January, on the same weekend as the Inauguration, which is a huge plus -- DC suffers a plague of Tourons every 4 years around January 20th that is far worse than the summer infestations. RnR AZ would give me an excuse to escape.  Plus, the January date would allow me to run all of my beloved fall races.  And, the course is fast and flat.
They do the same thing in front of my house. 
While wearing those stupid FBI hats

 But, of course, it could also potentially be hot.  And I was concerned about the super dry air and my exercise induced asthma. And there's also the possibility of December/January snowfall interfering with my 20 milers. And finally, there's the matter of the 5 hour flight each way.  For my first marathon, it's better to be able to focus on the marathon without the additional complication of long travel.

4.  California International Marathon - Sacramento, CA, December 2, 2012
Oh so tempting.  A fast course that "rewards those who run a very patient first half" -- as someone who likes to run hard negative splits, this was music to my ears.  And the weather is reliably perfect in temperature.  Some chance of rain, but I like running in rain, and have cranked out long runs in it before.  And the December date would allow me to run other fall races that I love.

But...again, the lengthy flight to the other side of the country.

3.  Richmond Marathon - Richmond, VA, November 10, 2012
I love the Richmond Half Marathon.  As soon as registration opened for it last year, I was in.  And snagged my hotel room at the start/finish to boot.  And it has a lot to recommend it.  It's within driving distance, and it's a well-run race on a fast course, with weather that was delightfully chilly last year.  And a lot of my teammates are running it and my coach would be there.  And I can swap registrations from half to full very easily, even the day before the race.

So, all those pluses, AND my coach recommended Richmond as a possible first time marathon.  But somehow I'm just not feeling it.  Maybe the fact that I've already run the half makes it harder to visualize running the full, maybe it's something else.  But not feeling it.  And running the Richmond Marathon would mean that I would likely skip the Army 10 Miler, which is 3 weeks before -- my coach is big on the last 20 miler 3 weeks out, and I want to do my first marathon by the book (and more specifically his book).  Plus, no Thanksgiving Turkey Trot race, due to post marathon recovery.

2.  Rehoboth Beach Seashore Marathon - Rehoboth, DE, December 8, 2012
Flat course, driving distance, and perfect timing.  Weather would most likely be COLD (good).  This one has appeal, and is actually my fallback race.  But... it's a small race, which raises some concern about whether I'd have people running at my same pace, and also about the support on course (to be fair, the race has consistently gotten good reviews).  Additionally, since the race is on a beach, there's a concern about high winds on race day, which would mitigate the advantages of the flat course.

1.  Philadelphia Marathon - Philadelphia, PA, November 18, 2012
Ultimately, the winner of my registration fee (paid on Monday).  Fast course, and the weather's been either perfect or frigid in past years.   It's a large race.  Large enough that I don't have a realistic chance at an age group award, and that's a very good thing - I can focus on simply running an intelligent and measured first marathon, rather than being tempted into dangerous aggression.

My coach and teammates will be there, and that's also a very good thing.  It will be fun to be with a group, and additionally, since I intend to race the marathon watchless (since that's worked for all my shorter races), it will help to have my coach on the sidelines in the first miles of the race to yell at me to slow down, since my watch won't do that.

And, though Philly's technically further from DC than Richmond, it's actually an easier trip -- it's 3 hours on a usually moving highway, punctuated by a stop in Delaware for sweet potato fries.  Richmond is 3 hour stop and go nightmare, punctuated by a comfort break at a random 7-11.

Running Philly means that I can also race the Army 10 Miler (4 weeks before).  I don't get to race a Turkey Trot, or the Richmond Half, or the Marine Corps 10K  But sacrifices have to be made.

Let's hope that I'm as happy with this decision as I was with the tattoo.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Training log - Week ending 5/13/12

This week was 67 miles of “real running” and 14 “miles” pool running, plus 2000 yards of swimming breathing drills -- training log is here.

This week was dedicated to a) recovery from Broad Street and b) recovery in general. I’m basically taking the next few weeks as a break of sorts – I’m still planning on doing workouts, but I’m keeping them very relaxed and social, and not forcing myself to do anything I don’t feel like doing (this also means that if I wake up and decide I don’t feel like running, I won’t – but that hasn’t happened). 

Basically, mental recovery. No pressure running, just fun (and workouts with my teammates ARE fun, so I don’t want to miss them).

I’m pretty much done with racing for the Spring – I’ve accomplished everything I wanted to, and had some great races. I also feel that I’ve developed a lot as a runner, mentally as well as physically, and I’m actually prouder of that then I am of any of my races. So, now to relax and recharge.

This summer, I’m going to focus on track race miles as a change of pace (pun intended). There’s a few reasons for this – for one, I don’t particularly enjoy racing long distance in heat and humidity, and my breathing issues can sometimes limit me in those conditions, resulting in frustration – I don’t face the same issues in races that take (hopefully) well under 6 minutes. Additionally, running short and fast will make the slower paces of my longer distance races feel easy by comparison. And… I seem to be VERY good at holding my speed over longer distances – I can’t help but think that developing my top end speed will help me at all distances. And, it will be fun.


Monday: In the morning, 1000 yards of swimming breathing drills and 40 minutes of easy poolrunning for “4 miles,” and then some light weight lifting and injury prevention work (also some quick foam-rolling). Attended injury prevention clinic at Road Runner Sports at night.  

Tuesday: In the morning, 12 miles, including an abbreviated track workout of 2000m, 1600m, and then 6x200m. Splits were 7:40 for the 2000m and 6:01 for the 1600m; the 200m were untimed per coach’s orders. Followed with injury prevention work and then 15 minutes of shake out pool-running for “1.5 miles”. Foam rolling at night.  

Wednesday: In the morning, 9 miles easy (7:51 pace) followed by a yoga class. Later, 6 miles easy (7:43 pace). Foam rolling and stretching at night.  

Thursday: In the morning, strength training and injury prevention exercises, followed by 1000 yards of swimming breathing drills and 45 minutes of easy poolrunning for “4.5 miles.” Foam rolling and stretching at night.  

Friday: In the morning, 12.5 miles, including a short 5K tempo in 19:43 (6:27, 6:18, 6:14, and then 44 seconds). Followed with injury prevention work and 20 minutes of shakeout pool-running. Pilates plus foam-rolling and stretching at night.  

Saturday: In the morning, 11 miles very easy (8:10 pace) plus drills and strides. Upper body strengthwork, injury prevention work, and foam rolling in the afternoon.

Sunday: A relaxed progressive 16.5 miles (averaged 7:41 pace, with first 3 miles at 8:29 pace, 7:49 for next 3, 7:27 for next 7 miles, 7:11 pace for last 3). Followed with injury prevention work and then 20 minutes of shakeout pool-running. Yoga and foam rolling are tonight.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Training log - Week ending 5/06/12

This week was 37.5 miles of “real running” and 15 “miles” pool running, plus 2500 yards of swimming breathing drills -- training log is here.

Mileage is super low for 2 reasons: First, I got sick this week. Nothing horrible, but a combination of a mild fever, achy body, congestion, and elevated resting heart rate convinced me to skip Tuesday’s workout – I had nothing to gain and everything to lose from forcing a workout when I was feeling run down. Especially since I was racing Broad Street on Sunday.

The second reason for the low mileage was my taper for the Broad Street 10 miler. Though the race wasn’t what I had hoped for, I’m still pretty happy with it.


Monday: In the morning, 60 minutes of easy poolrunning for “5.5 miles” and then some light weight lifting. Foam-rolling and stretching at night.  

Tuesday: In the morning, a yoga class followed with 45 minutes of pool-running for “4.5 miles”. Floor barre and foam rolling at night.  

Wednesday: In the morning, 11 miles easy (8:08) followed by weight lifting and injry prevention work. Got a massage that afternoon.

Thursday: In the morning injury prevention exercises and 5.5 miles easy (7:46 pace), followed by 1500 yards of swimming breathing drills. Pilates plus foam-rolling and stretching at night.  

Friday: In the morning, 9 miles. Most were at easy pace (7:46), but also included a mile “pick-up” at 10K pace feel (ended up being 6:31 – 76 degrees with DP of 70). Also did strides and drills, as well as injury prevention work. Foam rolling at night.  

Saturday: In the morning, injury prevention work plus 1000 yards of swimming breathing drills, followed by foam rolling/stretching.  

Sunday: In the morning, ~ 2 mile warmup, and then 10M race in 65:36. Much later, did 45 minutes easy pool-running.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Race report: Broad Street 10 Miler, May 6, 2012

I ran the Broad Street 10 Miler this morning, finishing in 65:36, which was good enough for 5th in my age group.  So that was nice.

I'm actually a bit ambivalent about the time (I concede that "a bit ambivalent" is duplicative).  I ran 65:31 at Cherry Blossom last month, and Broad Street is a faster course, so I had some hopes of beating that time by a bit.  On the other hand, I can honestly say that I ran the best race I had in me today, both mentally and really can't be too upset with that.  And it's REALLY cool to be in a place in my running where I feel like 65:36 is a meh time.


Brian and I headed up to Philly on Saturday, and the first part of the weekend was a lot of fun.  The trip up was uneventful (except for the highlight of a stop at Iron Hill Brewery in Delaware so I could carb-load on sweet potato's become a Philly race tradition for us).  I had seen some horror stories on Facebook about the lines at the expo, but when we got there at about 1:30 on Saturday afternoon, it wasn't bad at all.  I was in and out in 35 minutes, including a bit of obligatory shopping (Kinvara 2s on closeout for $50!).  Then to the hotel, where we ended up with a great view of City Hall.

Rested for a few hours, and then we ventured out to Jersey for a catch-up dinner with our friends Sarah and Chris from the DC area, who were also in the area for Dracula's Ball.  Pretty sad that we find it easier to get together with friends when we're all out of town together, but I was grateful for the opportunity.  And dinner was great - I didn't want to say goodbye, but I had to get my sleep.


Getting up to the race start on Sunday was also pretty easy -- grabbed a cab around 7:00am, and was there by 7:15.  As an aside, I've become a big fan of cabbing to the start of races, if it's a reasonable option.  I invest a lot of time and effort in my running and racing, and the extra $15 I spent this morning to get to the  start in a timely and relaxed way was a very wise investment, IMHO.

Warmed up by jogging around 2 miles, then headed over to the corral (I remembered last year they closed them really early).  They were a bit more relaxed this year, so I stepped out again to do some drills before getting back in.  Hung out for a bit, including getting to say hi to Melody.  I felt the urge to whine about the weather (a bit hot and humid for my taste, reminiscent of what we had at the RNR half), but restrained myself for two reasons.  1) I couldn't control the weather, but I could control my attitude (and no whining is a big part of that), and 2) Melody had just run a kick ass race at Boston in ridiculous conditions -- no way I could whine to her with a straight face.

[and of course, she ran a really awesome race here as well]


Then we were off.  I was definitely uncomfortable, with my breathing tight, but I just focused on relaxing and enjoying the course (including doing a few high-fives of kids -- more for myself than for them).  And that was what I did for the whole race.  Just maintain the correct effort level, and RELAX anytime I started to feel like I couldn't get enough air.   A few times, I'd spot someone and want to chase them down, but resisted the urge.  And as we got closer to the end of the race, I'd feel that same urge to push REALLY hard, but I just recalibrated and relaxed, reminding myself that the finish line would still be there for a few hours.

The mental focus issue was particularly challenging during the last mile, and especially when I could see the finish line.  But I resisted the urge to charge at the finish line, and instead just focused on my rhythm, not looking at the clock until the very end.  And once again, in trying really hard to relax and NOT kick, I kicked pretty hard, apparently.

Splits were:
Mile 1: 6:40
Mile 2: 6:40
Mile 3: 6:36
Mile 4: 6:40
Mile 5: 6:30
Mile 6: 6:41
Mile 7: 6:31
Mile 8: 6:25
Mile 9: 6:39 (I think mile marker 8 was slightly off - the Garmin shows 8 as short and 9 as long)
Mile 10: 6:16

Total time was 65:36 (6:34 pace).


Then...after the race was another adventure.  Poor Brian left our hotel (4.5 miles from the start) at 8:15 am.  Due to horrendous management by both SEPTA and the race management, it took Brian a ridiculous amount of time to take the subway to the nearest stop, about a mile from the finish line.  And then there were NO shuttles from subway to the finish line (there were tons last year).  About the time I finished, he gave up on waiting for a shuttle and walked to our pre-arranged meeting place, meeting me about 30 minutes post finish.

And then, of course, we just turned around and headed back.  And it took us another 90+ minutes to get back to our hotel (again, just 4.5 miles -- we could have walked faster).  It left a sour taste.  Ah well.


Overall, I'm satisfied with the race.  It's not what I wanted to run here (my heart sank a bit when I saw 65:xx on the finish timer), but it was the best race I had in me today, and that's something to be proud of.  And, as was the case with RnR Half, a lesson to me that though I'm happiest racing in frigid conditions where I can kick ass, I can perform decently when the conditions aren't quite what I like, and hold my own against hot weather runners.  Again, it's all about managing one's attitude and staying focused.  And I did that really well today.

Other notes:
  • Supposedly I was 67th female overall -- I'm disappointed by this, as I was hoping to crack the top 50 and get myself guaranteed entry for next year.  But, a) after they correct bib-swappers, maybe the results will change and b) I can just plan on running faster at Army in the fall.
  • Starting temp was 62, with dp in mid 50s.  Not horrible by any means.  I ran with a handheld bottle (pink, sigh) and though I didn't drink, I dowsed myself overhead with water regularly.  Definitely helped.
  • I was damn woozy at the end, and it took me about 20 minutes to catch my breath (seriously).  Yup, gave it my all.
  • 2 puffs of inhaler an hour before, and another 2 puffs 20 minutes before.
  • I've got a year to figure out the finish line logistics for next year, to avoid a repeat of this year's issues.

Friday, May 4, 2012

The go bag

Standard stuff
for overnight horse show.
In my horse showing days, one always had to cart a ton of stuff around to each competition.  Usually in a collection of trunks.  Some of it would be stuff that you knew you'd be using (bridle, helmet, feed, supplements, water buckets), some stuff that you might need (rain sheet for horse, different types of spurs, duct tape), some stuff that you hopefully wouldn't need (first aid kit and medications for horse and rider).

And it was force of habit to keep this packed and ready to go.  When you got home on Sunday night, one of the last things you'd do would be to clean everything and put it back (or replace used stuff), so that you were ready to go again.

Running is a lot simpler in so many ways, including the fact that there's a LOT LESS stuff to worry about.  But the idea of a "go bag" - a portable collection of stuff that you will or might need -- still applies.

Here's what's in the backpack that I take with me to races, to check at the starting line and (hopefully) be reunited with at the finish. Obviously, the contents do get modified some depending on weather conditions, length of race, etc.  And I have to pare stuff down when the race requires that I use their bag rather than mine.
  • Miscellaneous
    • A magazine to read if I'm waiting around
    • Marker and pad of paper - surprisingly convenient
    • Business card -- in case my bag gets misplaced, there's some hope that my bag will get back to me
    • Cell phone -- I used to have a nice pricy smart phone that I would never leave in my bag (rule: never leave anything in your bag that would be really bad to lose).  But now I have a crappy phone that I'm looking to replace.  So sure, I'll leave it in my bag.
  • Pre-race stuff
  • Seems silly to carry, until you need it. 
    Then everyone's your best friend
    • "Disposable clothing" to wear and then toss; I'll usually have both a long sleeve t-shirt and a sweatshirt, so I can pick the one most appropriate for the conditions.  I'll also have a pair of old crew socks to use as mittens until race start, if need be.  Also a large plastic trash bag, in case it rains.
    • Toilet paper - invaluable if the portapotties are out.
    • Pepto-Bismol - if you want this pre-race, you'll REALLY regret not having it
    • Bodyglide and vaseline - 'nuff said
    •  Extra safety pins - surprising how handy these are.
  • Race stuff
    • Sunglasses
    • Running hat with brim (in case of rain)
    • Disposable handwarmers -- I have a fairly bad case of Raynauds, so these are essential anytime race temps are below 60.  I use "Little Hotties."
    • Headband/earwarmers
    • You can get for a good price
      at Road Runner Sports
    • Gloves
    • Gels (I usually bring more than I'll need)
    • Asthma inhaler
    • Extra Garmin -- yes, I have an old Garmin I don't use any more, since I upgraded.  So I keep it in my bag, as a back-up.
    • Disposable hand-held water bottle (for longer races).  Run with it for the first 5 miles, then toss when empty.
  • Post-race stuff
    • Change of clothing - usually a top with my team's logo as well as a pair of sweatpants/tights.
    • Laundry bag for my race clothes.  I usually use one of the bags provided by the Rock N Roll races for bag check - they're the right size, and the fabric they're made of seems both to fight odor and to let clothes breath.
    • Really invaluable for post race chill.
    • Shoes and socks - don't underestimate the luxury of swapping into dry socks and shoes.
    • Clean-up and first aid:  My "kit" includes
      • Anti-bacterial wipes, bandaids, and Neosporin for blisters
      • Naproxen, arnica gel, KT Tape, plus spare Patt Strap and heel lift, in case I develop any injuries
      • Cold pack in case I strain something (also keeps my eggs cold).
    • Post-race nutrition.  My stomach's pretty iffy, so I usually can't rely on the race to provide stuff I can eat.  And, I'm a huge believer in having your post workout nutrition within that 20 minute window -- if you wait to eat at home an hour later, you've missed a valuable opportunity. So I bring my own.
      • Bottle of coconut water
      • Recovery drink (for me, 32 oz of water combined with one scoop of Ultima and one scoop of Heed)
      • Two hard boiled eggs, kept in a insulated bag that also holds a cold pack -- both to keep the eggs cold and in case I need to ice something.
      • Salt shaker -- I'm a VERY salty sweater, so this ain't optional.
      • Shot Bloks and Sport Beans.  I like Margarita Shot Bloks and Fruit Punch Sport Beans.
I will note that there are a few things that I always keep on my person when I race. They are my house keys/car keys and about $20 in cash.  The idea is that if my bag does disappear, I'm still able to get home.