Monday, May 30, 2016

Race Report: Loudoun Street Mile, May 30, 2016

I ran the Loudoun Street Mile today, in Winchester Virginia, finishing in 5:36.7.  And I'm pretty stoked.

I came into this race with limited expectations.  I've run this race twice before, in 2012 (5:31) and 2013 (5:30), but a lot has happened since then.  Including tearing my hamstring and turning 40.  I haven't raced a mile in any form since 2013.  And while three years may not seem like a lot, my body definitely feels different from how it did back then.

Additionally, all of my training has been focused on longer distances, including my goal half-marathon, which is now 3 weeks away.  While my teammates have been doing fast 400m repeats regularly the past few weeks, we've been modifying most of my workouts by skipping the anaerobic hard 400s and subbing 800s done at a slower, aerobic pace.  Which makes sense - I'm focused on longer stuff, and anaerobic stuff fries me pretty quickly.  But when you don't run at near mile pace in practice, it's hard to know what to expect when you race a mile.

Looking back at my training log, when I ran 5:30 for the mile, I was also regularly doing 800s in the high 2:40s, low 2:50s.  Now I do them at around 3:00 flat, sometimes 2:55ish or just under for the last one.   Based on that, and the fact that I've done very little anaerobic work recently, I thought that anything faster than 5:50 would be a very good run for me.   It's not that I'm horribly out of shape, but I'm not in "mile" shape.

So why did I even run the darn thing?  My original plan had been to race either a 4 miler or this race on Memorial Day (I wanted to race something, because I get stale if I don't race every few weeks.)  I would have preferred the 4 miler - it works more to my strengths, and my 4 mile PR is still pretty weak.  But the weather forecast was looking pretty steamy for the weekend, and I could also do the tempo workout on Friday if I was only racing a mile on Monday.  So after finally doing a set of 400s on Tuesday (mostly aerobic - I only ran the last one hard), I decided/let myself be convinced to do this race.   What the heck.  Even if it totally sucked, it'd only suck for a few minutes.


I did a semi-taper this week - doing a tempo workout on Friday and 12 easy miles on Saturday, but keeping Sunday light.  I'd normally rest more for a race, but I just didn't see the point here - my legs were only going to move so fast, rested or not.  Then I woke up early this morning, ate breakfast and did some stretching, before hitting the road.   My legs actually felt pretty good - I think the speed at which I recover has improved a lot since I started the daily asthma meds.  Which makes sense, since it's a lot easier to recover when you're getting a normal amount of oxygen.

Winchester is about 80 minutes from my home, and the route takes me through a very horsey area of Virginia that I spent a lot of time in 20-25 years ago.  As I drove down Route 7, I had continual flashbacks to when my friend KT and I would drive down those same roads as teenagers, blasting Nine Inch Nails' Pretty Hate Machine.   So I cranked that one up again and let the waves of nostalgia roll.  I rebelliously whined to the blue ridge about how the world was stacked against me, as I cruised in my Mercedes SUV, carefully heeding all posted traffic signs.

And then I got to Winchester and had to return to reality, adulthood, and running.  I picked up my bib, stretched out my hips again, changed into my racing shoes (went with the Takumi Sens for this one), and started jogging.


I'm one of those people that NEVER feels good in a workout until the 3rd or 4th repeat.  For that reason, I've learned that I need an extended warm-up, with a fair bit of fast running, before a short race.  This morning, I ran about 3.5 miles for a warm-up, including one very hard extended sprint (about 50 seconds) up hill about 20 minutes before the race started, and another very hard quarter mile about 5 minutes before the race started.  In essence, the mile race would be my third interval of the morning, with plenty of recovery between each.

This worked well, as I felt ready to run when I lined up at the start.  I still had no idea how fast I'd go, but I'd find out in a few minutes (hopefully less than 6...).


Having run this race twice before, I know how to run it.  The race is a straight ahead run, with no turns.  But it does have uphills and downhills.  The first quarter is downhill and then flat, while the second is up.  Most of the third quarter is a fairly fast downhill, while the final quarter is flat and then slightly climbing, with the final 300m running through a brick town square.

So... you run this one by going out slow (though everyone else goes out like an idiot).  Start to build slightly as you go up hill - by then, people are already starting to fade.  Start hauling ass when you near the crest of the hill.  Ride your top gear until you hit the brick and then try to find an even higher gear for the last 300.

And that's pretty much what I did.

It wasn't very hard to hold back the first quarter - since I wasn't expecting to run fast, I wasn't particularly shocked or surprised when pretty much everyone surged far in front of me, making it easier to stay patient.  During the second quarter uphill I pulled close to my friend Margaret, and then I managed to pass her when I hit my top gear after the halfway part.

She managed to hang on close to me, though, and when we hit the final 300m, we each reached for another gear. She had one, and I didn't, and so she surged past me and towed me to the finish.   Though I never like being passed, I have to admit that her passing me towed me to a faster time than I would have run on my own.  

There were no volunteers calling quarter mile splits this year (there have been in the past), so I ran the race just off of perceived effort.  Thus I was totally shocked to see 5:3x on the clock as I approached the finish.  I think it was actually a good thing that there were no splits announced - had I known that I was splitting consecutive 400s at a faster pace than I've been running them as single reps in workouts, I might have frozen up a bit.  Instead, I just ran and raced and that was good.

And as I ran up under that 5:3x timer, I thought to myself: "George (my coach) is right - I really can run pretty fast in short races with little to no anaerobic work in training."  (well, it wasn't phrased quite that clearly...).   I intellectually understood it before, but running is believing.


I ended up second place master female, behind Alisa Harvey - a local legend who has her own Wikipedia page and a Pan-American Games gold medal to her credit.    Though I never like being second, being second to her is pretty cool.  As a result, I got a nice backpack for less than 6 minutes of work  - not a bad day.

So after all this, you'd think I'd be racing more miles, right?  Nope - I'm one and done for this year, unless there's another road mile late in the year.  While I'm thrilled with how well it went, I find that these short superfast races really take a toll on me.  The road races, with their hard surfaces and straight lines, are easier on my ankles and hips than bouncy curvy tracks, but both are hard.  Racing miles regularly has always been correlated with injury for me, so I need to quit while I'm ahead.


Other notes:

  • Weather was surprisingly good: temp of 65, dewpoint of 62, and a slight tailwind.
  • It only took me about 20-30 seconds to catch my breath after the race.  This is as compared to the 5 minutes or more it used to take before the new asthma meds regime.  Yay.  I also noted (again) that I was much stronger uphill than I have been in the past - I think this is because I'm not going quite as deep into oxygen debt as I used to on hills, and I can also recover my breath on the backside, whereas I couldn't before.  
  • Didn't need to use the rescue inhaler at all, before or after the race.  WOO.
  • Once again - my heart rate stayed pretty low for this race - peaking at 176, which is lower than I see in a lot of workouts and longer races.   Diesel, not turbo.
  • Caramel Machiato GU as part of breakfast really hit the spot.  Between those and the Maple Bacon GUs, GU is hitting it out of the park recently.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Training log - Week ending 5/29/16

This week was 46 miles of running, 16 "miles" of pool-running and 3000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

This was the week that the traditional DC area heat finally hit.  While the first half of the week was reasonably moderate, the heat and humidity kicked in for the second half.  The conditions are nothing unusual for DC in late May - dew point in the upper 60s and temps in the 70s and 80s for the morning.  What is unusual is how long it's taken to get to this point this year.  And thus, how unacclimated most of us are.

Though I was sad to see the cool temps vanish, I was also oddly glad for the humidity and heat.  As I mentioned two weeks ago, I've started using an asthma preventative drug (Dulera) twice daily as a preventative.  Hot and humid mornings, especially ones with significant pollen or poor air quality, have been difficult for me in the past.  So my runs on Friday and the weekend were good tests of how my new asthma regimen is going.

So far, it's going phenomenally well.

First of all, it's probably helpful to explain what it feels like when I'm having breathing trouble. Sometimes as runners, when we're struggling (at least when I am) we clench our hands into tight fists, adding tension and stress.  Whenever I find myself doing that, I take a second to relax, shake out my shoulders, and open my hands.

My lungs like to do something similar: grab up into what feels like tight fists in my chest.  When that happens, I can feel the air going in and out, but I don't feel like I'm getting much sustenance from that air.  And unlike my hands, I can't force myself to open my lungs.  They're just clenched.

[In case it's helpful to others, when my breathing does act up, I work though it by trying to keep my breathing measured, deep, and rhythmic - breathing shallowly and fast just makes it worse.  I also slow down slightly, so that I'm not digging a deeper hole.  I try to run as efficiently as I can, and also try not to think at all about how far I still have to go - just focus on my effort in that moment.  If I start thinking about how many laps or miles I have left, my breathing will quicken involuntarily, and then stuff just gets worse.]

Unless I'm in real trouble, I don't like to drop out of a workout.   I prefer to slow down and work through it if I can, though I'll use a rescue inhaler if there's a rest interval. Working though it during workouts is good practice for races, where slowing down but finishing is often preferable to a DNF. And I also find that dropping out of workouts when my breathing gets bad can create a mental issue - I get worried about potential breathing issues, get more tense, and start a bad cycle. Tension, worry, and asthma like to work together in a swirling feedback loop, and it's really important to keep that storm from forming]

So, I started Friday's tempo run with trepidation.  It was warm and humid, and we were under a code orange air quality warning.  Usually I struggle in these conditions and have to nurse my way through. But not on Friday.  It was a wonderful feeling to be five laps into the 3200 and realize that my lungs were still open.  It wasn't that I didn't notice the humidity - I definitely did.  But my lungs felt great.

I haven't been that happy after a track workout in a long time.

Ditto for Saturday's easy run - in fairly hot and humid weather we ran a route that has a significant uphill climb for the first half.   Usually when I'm having a bad breathing day, any significant uphill is a real challenge, even at a slow pace.  But not on Saturday.  I was pleasantly surprised at how much I was able to chat while running uphill, and how easy the run felt. (And also a bit disappointed by how much LESS easy the downhill return felt in comparison.)

One interesting thing - towards the end of Saturday's run I felt draggy and sluggish.  I couldn't figure out why at first, since my breathing still felt fine.  And then I realized it was from the heat and sunshine - by that point, it was nearly 80 degrees and I had no shade.  I'm so used to any overheating issues being preceded by chest tightness that I couldn't recognize the first if it wasn't accompanied by the second.

So, I'm pretty excited.  There's a been a few other benefits also.  Tight sports bras are not as uncomfortable as they used to be.  In the past, I've had to segregate my bra collection between easy day bras and workout bras - the latter have to be loose around the rib cage.  No more.  And in yoga class I can now hold the "om" at the end as long as my classmates, rather than always cutting out early.  And yes, I know that the fact that I even think about this is amusing.  But there you go....

So woo.  Very happy.

The other news of the week (and next week), is that I'm racing a road mile on Monday.  This is my first mile race in nearly 3 years, and given that I'm coming into it off of half-marathon training, I don't have especially high expectations.  But it will be fun (in that strange runner way), and that's why we do this, right?

I'm not tapering very much for this race.  While I did keep the overall mileage a bit lower this week, much of that was because I was pretty tired after last week's long run, and backed off to recover from that.  The only tapering I've done specific for this race is to take Sunday pretty easy.

Why so little taper?  Well, for one thing, this isn't a goal race, and I'd rather not cut the mileage too low, since I have a half-marathon next month.  Also, I don't feel like I'm in fast mile shape, so I'm not sure I'd have any more leg speed if my legs were fresher.  Plus, it seems that I'm recovering much faster now that I'm on the full time asthma meds (probably in part because I'm getting more oxygen each day), and so I'd like to see how I feel with less taper.


Monday:   Yoga and 7.5 "miles" easy pool-running.  Foam rolling in the evening.

Tuesday: 9.5 miles, including a track workout of 2x400, 800, 1600, 800, 2x400 - splits were 93, 92, 3:05, 6:16, 3:00, 86, 81.   Followed with 1000 yards recovery swimming (skipped gym, since legs still feeling weekend long run). Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 4.5 miles easy to yoga (9:17), followed by yoga.  Later did 7 miles very easy (9:01) plus drills and 4 strides. Foam rolling at night.

Thursday:   Upper body weights and core, and 7.5 "miles" easy pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.
Friday:  8.5 miles, including 3200, 1600 on the track in 13:15 (6:45/6:30) and 6:20.  Followed with light injury prevention work and 1400 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:  12 miles easy (8:42) followed by drills and two strides and then upper body and core strengthwork.  Foam rolling in the evening.

Sunday:  5 miles very easy (9:37) followed by drills and two hill sprints.  Also 600 yards recovery swimming and foam rolling.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Training log - Week ending 5/22/16

This week was 63 miles of running, 17 "miles" of pool-running and 2000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

Project "run slower to run faster" continues.  In retrospect, my splits for the weekday workouts are still a bit faster than they should be, though they felt conservative at the time.

For the weekend long run, I had another "4-3-2-1" on tap.  I've historically blanked my watch and run these off of feel, but this time I used the pace function on my Garmin to make sure I targeted 7:15 pace - a bit slower than I've run these workouts in the past.

I don't have much faith in Garmin's instant pace function - as the GPS receptors jump from one satellite to the next, the pace reading can fluctuate widely.  However, average lap pace seems more reliable - once you're about a 1/4 mile into the rep, there's enough data to smooth out the reading (assuming one doesn't run through tunnels or similar).  So I set my Garmin to display average lap pace, and I was off.

Lessons learned:

1) again, sometimes slower efforts are harder than faster ones.  Though "harder" isn't the best term here - "less comfortable" is more accurate.  My heart rate was slightly lower running 7:1x (as opposed to 6:5x - which is where I naturally gravitate).  However, holding that slightly slower pace felt awkward and I kept wanting to speed it up.  By virtue of continuous monitoring of the Garmin, I managed to stay in control for the most part, but as I got more tired towards the end of the run, it became harder to keep the brakes on.  I ignored the Garmin for the last mile and just ran by feel and...6:56.

2) Since this is supposed to be a MP workout, and 6:55 is NOT a realistic marathon pace for me right now, this tells me I need to do some more work on holding back.  I think each pace works a slightly different system, and I'm slightly weaker in the system that supports MP running, hence the desire to cheat by running faster.

3) At times during the run, I ran into a decent headwind.  When I did, I noted that my pace actually would quicken - a result of me overcompensating for the wind.  That habit obviously doesn't do me any favors when racing on a breezy day.  Mental note to stay relaxed and not fight so much when it's windy.


Monday:   Yoga and 7.5 "miles" easy pool-running.  Foam rolled in the evening.

Tuesday: 11 miles, including a track workout of 1600, 4x800 slower - split 6:17, 3:05, 3:01, 3:00, 2:55.   Followed with injury prevention work (no swimming, forgot my bathing suit). Sports massage at night.

Wednesday: 7 miles very easy to yoga (9:11), followed by yoga.  Later did 5 miles very easy (8:49) plus drills and 4 hill sprints. Foam rolling at night.

Thursday:   Upper body weights and core, and 9.5 "miles" easy poolrunning.  Foam rolling at night.
Friday:  11.5 miles, including 3200, 1600 on the track in 13:13 (6:39/6:33) and 6:13.  Shame I didn't run those splits last week, on Friday the 13th...  Followed with injury prevention work and 800 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:  12 miles very easy (9:26) followed by drills and then upper body and core strengthwork.  Foam rolling in the evening.

Sunday:  16.5 miles including a workout of 4, 3, 2, and 1 miles with one mile recovery.
Splits were:
4 mile: 29:05 (7:28/7:16/7:11/7:10) - average pace of 7:16
3 mile: 21:33 (7:10/7:11/7:12) - average pace of 7:11
2 mile: 14:17 (7:12/7:05) - average pace of 7:09
1 mile: 6:56
Followed with gentle injury prevention work and 1200 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in the afternoon. 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Training log - Week ending 5/15/16

This week was 61 miles of running, 16 "miles" of pool-running and 3000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

One of my big goals this week was to slow down all of my fast running.  More specifically, my coach and I agreed that I've been running my track workouts a bit too fast, and going anaerobic too much. This is most problematic on Friday mornings for tempos - tempos by definition should stay aerobic, but I find it hard to resist jumping the line into anaerobic.  And to be honest, running circles on a track with someone calling splits really tempts one to try to make each split just a bit faster.  Even if you're not racing the tempo, you can still be running it too fast.

So...I need to not do that.  Especially since (as I've always known) anaerobic stuff fries me very easily.  So one of my big goals this week (and for the future) was to keep the brakes on.  For both workouts, but especially the tempo.

On that note, Tuesday's interval workout was a fun surprise.  The announced workout was 1600 moderate, and then 2x800 and 4x400 fairly hard, to get some leg turnover.  However, after I ran the first two 800s, my coach threw me a curve ball.  I was to skip the 400s and do two more 800s, but slower.

It was surprisingly challenging - my habit in workouts is always to dial down the pace slightly with each repeat, with my last one the fastest.  I can upshift better than I downshift - once I've gone anaerobic, it's really hard for me to back off that slight bit back to aerobic - essentially slowing slightly while still running fast.  But, I put the brakes on and ran two more 800s, at 3:09 and 3:05.  Though each was 5 seconds slower per lap, they felt harder than the faster ones, since they had been preceded by the faster ones.  But I think they were also a lot better for me.

I also kept the brakes on Friday, running my slowest set of cruise intervals in a while.  And again, they were harder than they would have been at a faster pace, I think.   I sometimes feel like I have several different running "engines", and running the tempo too fast allows me to cheat and use the wrong engine.  I need to work on using the right one.

The other news of the week was that I've modified my use of asthma meds slightly.  I had been using Dulera (long acting inhaled asthma medication that reduces lung inflammation) only for races and the occasional workout.  Why?  Because Dulera has some nasty side effects, including bone density concerns, and I like to use as little meds as possible.  Plus, I thought by skipping it on easy days I was altitude training :)

But I've struggled a lot this spring with my breathing, and also with feeling tired all the time.  So after some tracking of my daily peak flow (a measure of how obstructed my airways are) and consulting with the pulmonologist, I shifted to taking it every 12 hours.  I'm now using it as a full-time preventative drug, which how it's normally prescribed.  And so far, I've been pretty happy with this.

Just in the past few days, I've noted a lot of really cool things.  For one thing, I'm sleeping much more soundly, and feeling more rested in the morning.  I'm also concentrating better at work, and my mood has been a bit perkier.

And all of this makes sense, when you think about it.  If my breathing's been slightly restricted, then I'm getting slightly less oxygen in my daily life - which could lead to stuff like lousy sleep, concentration problems, grouchiness, and slower recovery from workouts.

And the bonus - I haven't been tempted once in the past few days to use my rescue inhaler.  That's noteworthy, since the past few days have been tough breathing conditions.   Friday's tempo was in extremely thick and humid air, while the pollen levels on Saturday and Sunday were fairly high.

Usually, in conditions like this, I'd take a puff of Dulera an hour before the morning workout, and then still have to use the rescue inhaler at sometime before or even during the run.  But not this weekend. While I definitely noticed the humidity on Friday and the weekend pollen, there was no sensation of things closing off or binding in my chest.  Never any fear that I couldn't get enough air.  And it was amazing how quickly I caught my breath after each interval.

It was wonderful.  And also made sense, in retrospect.  By only using the Dulera on certain days, I've allowed my lungs to get irritated, and to stay that way.  When I then puff the drugs before a race or hard workout, they have to undo that broncho-constriction and inflammation.  By using it regularly, I'm preventing the issue in the first place, so there's less to fix, and no need for the rescue inhaler.  Yay.


Monday:   Yoga and 7.5 "miles" easy pool-running.  Foam rolled in the evening.

Tuesday: 10 miles, including a track workout of 1600, 2x800 fast, 2x800 slower - split 6:22, 2:59,  2:55, 3:09, 3:05.   Followed with injury prevention work and 1500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 2.5 miles very easy to yoga (9:41), followed by yoga.  Later did 10 miles very easy (9:06) plus drills and 4 hill sprints. Foam rolling at night.

Thursday:   Upper body weights and core, and 8.5 "miles" easy poolrunning.  Foam rolling at night.  
Friday:  12.5 miles, including 2x3200 on the track in 13:24 (6:45/6:39) and 13:18 (6:41/6:37).  Followed with injury prevention work and 1000 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:  12 miles easy (8:48) followed by drills and then upper body and core strengthwork.  Foam rolling in the evening.

Sunday:  14 miles progressive, split as first 7 miles at 8:40 pace, next 2 at 8:13, last 5 at 7:13.  Followed with yoga.  500 yards recovery swimming and foam rolling in the afternoon. 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Training log - Week ending 5/8/16

This week was 24.5 miles of running and 4 miles of pool-running-- training log is here.

This was a pretty easy week to log.    I shut things down completely for a few days as a reboot before building back up for my half-marathon in June.

By the middle of the week I was cranky, depressed, and my muscles were ridiculously sore and tight. Wednesday's massage was one of the yelpiest I've had in recent memory.  I blamed the tightness and depression on several days of completely sedentary life, and reasoned that some light yoga/pool-running (with my coach's permission) would help.  They did, but only slightly.

I started running again this weekend, and both runs were rough slogs, despite the fact that they were moderate in distance and pace, with good company for each day.  But by then I was pretty sure what was going on.  

When I saw my allergist/ENT doctor a few weeks back, we discussed how my sinuses were dry and painful this spring, not congested.  He commented that those symptoms possibly indicated a mild chronic staph bacterial sinus infection in addition to the allergies.  The bacteria lies dormant deep in one's sinuses, and then revitalizes when it has pollen or mold to feed on.  He prescribed the antibiotic Clindamycin, so that I could do a week-long course of it (150mg every 8 hours, if anyone cares).  If my sinus problems are bacterial in nature, that should take care of the issue.

Of course, antibiotics are medicine's double-edged blade - very good at what they do, but not without unwanted side effects.  In the past, antibiotics have knocked me for a loop, so an off week was the logical time to take them, since I had the luxury of choosing when I'd start them.

Clindamycin's reported side effects are generally gastro-intestinal, not fatigue or muscle soreness, so I wasn't really expecting to feel quite this lousy.  But on the other hand, this is consistent with my experience with every other antibiotic I've ever taken.  So really not such a surprise after all.

The good news is that I took my last dose this afternoon, so I should be feeling better in the next few days. And the better news is that I haven't had any sinus pain this week, though that could also be due to the anti-inflammatory aspects of Clindamycin.  Or the endless days of rain that we've had cut down on the pollen.  Clindamycin does have the nasty side-effect of killing off all your good intestinal bacteria, so the next few days are going to be heavy on the probiotics.


Monday:  Nada but foam-rolling.

Tuesday: Nada but foam-rolling.

Wednesday: Light upper body weights in the morning, massage at night.

Thursday: Yoga and 4 "miles" pool-running.  Foam rolling at night. 

Friday:  Yoga and upper body weights in the morning.   Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:  10.5 miles aerobic (8:20), also foam rolling.

Sunday:  14 miles aerobic (8:03) and yoga.  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Training log - Week ending 5/1/2016

This week was 40 miles of running, 15 "miles" of pool-running and 2000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

This is a belated entry for last week.  My coach and I agreed that I'd take a few days off before ramping up for Grandma's half in mid-June; it's funny how when I take a break from running, I tend to forget about everything else related to running: foam rolling, blogs, etc.

Last week was focused on two separate but similar goals - recovering from my crash and burn at the previous week's 5K, and tapering up for Broad Street.  My legs were pretty dead at the beginning of the week, but freshened up a little more each day.  By Saturday they were feeling OK, but apparently weren't totally good to go on Sunday.

I'm a bit bummed, since in some ways that was the best weather I've raced Broad Street in (I'd much rather run in 45 and rain then low-to-mid 60s and Sunday.  But oh well.

As I noted, I'm taking a few days completely off this week to reboot before ramping up for my half.  I suggested this to my coach, and he agreed.  I asked him how many days to take, and he told me to rest until next weekend, which was a lot longer than I had expected.  But that's coaching - don't ask a question unless you're willing to comply with an answer you don't particularly care for

The plus side is that next week's training log won't take long to write up at all.


Monday:   Yoga and 7.5 "miles" easy pool-running.  Foam rolled in the evening.

Tuesday: 10.5 miles, including a track workout of 1600 at tempo, 3x800, 2x400 - split  6:37, 3:08, 3:04, 3:00, 86, 83.   Followed with 1250 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 8 miles very easy (8:58), followed by some upper body work and core. Sports massage at night.

Thursday:   7.5 "miles" easy pool-running.  Foam rolling at night. 

Friday:  5.5 miles, including a mile pick-up in 6;27.   Followed with 750 yards recovery swimming Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:  3 miles easy (8:49) and foam rolling.

Sunday:  2.5 mile warm-up and 10 mile race in 67:40. 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Race report: Broad Street 10 Miler, May 1, 2016

I ran the Broad Street 10 Miler today, finishing in 67:40.  Not a bad race, though not as fast as I had hoped to run.  At least the weekend was fun.

For Brian and myself, away races within driving distance are also road trips.  This weekend, the trip up was both parts fun and frustrating.  When Brian and I go to Philly, we have our traditions - Iron Hill Brewery in Wilmington, DE on the way up, and Santa Fe Restaurant (also in Wilmington) on the way back.  Our northbound plans were thwarted though, due to a scheduled beer tasting at the Wilmington Iron Hill that would make it hard to get a table.  So we rerouted to...the Iron Hill Brewery in Newark, DE (they're a chain).

Alas, we discovered that the restaurants, though superficially the same in name and menu offerings, were very different otherwise.  One has fast service, reasonable prices, large portions (good for pre-race), and is right off of the interstate.  The other is....none of those things.  So - we learned a good lesson for next time: stick with Wilmington.


That lesson charted, we continued on to Philly and our hotel.  This year, I decided we'd try the Marriott Courtyard in the Navy Yard - conveniently two blocks from the finish area.  This is my fourth time running the Broad Street 10 Miler, and something like my 20th time staying in a hotel in Philly (I've raced there several times, and also gone up a lot for rock concerts, or for work in my previous law firm life).

Despite all my experience with hotels and Philly and the Broad Street 10, I've yet to find a hotel that's really ideal.  If we stay in Center City, then we have to deal with the hassles of a) getting back to the hotel post race and b) getting out of the city post race.  If we stay near the finish (as I've done twice), then post-race is relatively easy.  But the downside is that there's no restaurants in the Navy Yard, and if you drive somewhere else to eat on Saturday night, you risk not having a parking space at your hotel when you return (we learned that one the hard way a few years back).

The Marriott Courtyard opened about 2 years ago (it's been a few years since I raced Broad Street) and I thought it was worth a try.  Mostly due to the location - I'm all about staying at either the start or the finish of a race, if feasible.  For Broad Street, there's really not much at the start, so the finish was the best option.

And how was it?  I'll give it a mixed review.  Location was great.  Staff was very nice.  Shower had very hot water and nice towels.  Mattress was nice.  Gym was nice and had foam rollers.

The downsides?  They were many.  For one, I had been assured that there'd be a microwave in our room for me to make my pre-race breakfast. (don't judge - I get neurotic about pre-race breakfast) Only to show up and learn that there would not be one, assurances or not.  We also learned that the "state of the art bistro, offering all-day dining" was not all that in practice.  While you could order SOMETHING at any time of day, the menu was very limited.

There were also a few other hiccups - a clattering heat/AC system, extra blankets that came with extra hairballs, and very thin walls between the rooms.  The last resulted in a 10:30 pm visit between myself and our 20 something next door neighbors, where I explained to them that I could hear them talking loudly.  The fact that they were keeping me awake didn't seem to concern them at all.  However, pointing out that I could hear the details of their conversations, including some very private stuff, did concern them, and thus accomplished my desired result.  They shut up, and I got a good night's sleep.


So after all of that, how was the race?

Building up to it, everyone except me had been concerned about the weather - 48 degrees and a light to steady rain.  For myself, every year I've run this race, it's been too hot for my tastes.  48 degrees and a light rain to kill pollen sounded divine.    I knew it had the potential to be miserable at the start, but after Grandma's Marathon I had learned my lesson - I donned two throw-away shirts, plus a cheap CVS poncho.  Also, unlike Grandma's, I knew there'd be shelter - since I was taking the subway up, I could hang out there for a while.

As I learned when I got up there, a local church had also thrown open its doors, allowing runners to take shelter in a warm reception area (they were even handing out bottles of water).  Very nice.

I did about 2 and a half miles of jogging, including some up tempo running, and then got into my corral.  Which corral was a matter of debate - I was a seeded runner this year, which meant that my bib was for the elite corral, at the very front. But, if you placed me in a corral based strictly on time, I really should have started two corrals back.  I hemmed and hawed on which one to go with - I have enough manners to stay to the side and out of the way of faster people.  But it can also be demoralizing to be continually passed.  And I knew from the forecast that we might have a headwind - if so, it would be better to be further back.

On the other hand, I was getting cold, and I really wanted to start the race as quickly as possible, rather than wait a few more minutes (the corrals each were delayed in start by a minute or so).  And the headwind didn't seem terribly bad.  So I went with the elite corral.

The race started (about 5 minutes late), and the front pack took off like a gun, leaving me and a few others in its wake.  Within about 30 seconds, I was a pack of one.  I just ignored the others and reminded myself to start slow, finish fast.  The first downhill mile felt slow and controlled.  Perfect.

And then I started to notice the wind.  It was nowhere near as strong as Cherry Blossom, but still a factor.  It would gust, sometimes fairly strongly, and then let up.  I kept looking for someone to draft behind, but with very little luck.  So I just dealt with it.

It was tough though.  I don't mind running by myself normally - I actually prefer not to be in a pack for tempos.  But...when there's wind, it really does make a difference to have others around you.

At Cherry Blossom, I ended up starting too far back, with people aiming to run 5-15 minutes slower than me.  And I remember that for the first few miles of that race, the massive headwind didn't seem much of an issue at all.  It wasn't until I pulled further ahead, closer to those that I "should" have started with, that I really started to notice the wind.

In contrast here, though the headwind was nothing like what it was at Cherry Blossom, the fact that I had no one near me to break it made it more of an issue.  In fact, I noted the wind lessening considerably as I got further into the race, and had more people from the later corrals joining me.

The lesson I'm taking from my combined experiences in these two races - if headwinds are forecast, it's really not a bad idea to seed yourself back in the pack if gun time is not a concern for you.  Any energy you lose from dodging people is more than made up for by the wind shielding purposes.

It was also emotionally tough to be passed constantly.  Because I started in the corral in FRONT of the sub-64 minute runners, who were released a minute after me, that meant that by the second mile, I had a steady flow of runners passing me on each side - this continued for most of the race.  I'm used to a certain rhythm in my races.  For the first bit (1-3 miles), I'm getting passed.  Then I'm usually running with the same group.  And after the 1/2 way point, people start fading as I start building momentum, and I'm passing from that point forward.

This race was different.  Even though I negative split the race slightly (34:01/33:39), I probably passed less than 10 people the whole time, while getting passed by what seemed like several hundred. That's a hard way to experience a longer race.

The bright side is that I'm actually a bit proud of this race for that reason, time be damned. Like a lot of runners, I sometimes get sucked into a bad mental place when I race.  And it was extremely tempting to go there today, as tides of faster runners continually streamed past me each mile.  It was an incredibly hard hour plus of mental focus, as I ignored what was happening around me and just tried to stay positive and do the best I could.  And I did just that.  Even if the time wasn't great, I'm really proud of that.  It wasn't easy.


My plan was to pick it up more in the second half, but I just didn't have much more to give.  My legs were running out of juice, and it took what I had just to stay steady and keep on chugging.  My teammates Layth and Lisa, who had started several minutes behind me (and both ran massive PRs) passed me around mile 7 and encouraged me to follow them, but I didn't have enough extra to talk back to them, let alone try to hang.  So I let them go, and just kept working at staying relaxed and fluid and fast.  I held it together, and when I hit the quarter mile mark to go in the Navy Yard, I tried to kick, but had absolutely nothing.  Ah well.


The finishing area was pretty miserable - cold and wet.  It was very nice to be a scant two blocks from my hotel.  What was even nicer was what awaited me in my hotel room upon my return.  Brian's been dealing with some tendonitis, so between that and the weather, we had agreed that he'd probably skip the race finish and stay at the hotel.  So... he took the opportunity to play race concierge.  As soon as he got the text that I had finished, he turned on the shower as hot as it could go and closed the bathroom door.  When I got back to our room, the bathroom was effectively a sauna.  Just outside of the bathroom were clean and dry clothes, plus my recovery foods.  It was awesome, beyond any description I can give in this blog.

I took a lovely long shower, and then we checked out and headed to Santa Fe restaurant in Wilmington where I indulged in a very large and very girly drink.

 Followed by a Facebook debate on whether I should sober up before writing my race report.  [Sorry guys - apparently it takes longer for my fingers to type words than for my liver to process blue curacao - hence this post is written with a headache rather than a buzz]

Other notes:
  • Splits were:
    • Mile 1: 7:02
    • Mile 2: 6:59
    • Mile 3: 6:38
    • Mile 4: 6:46
    • Mile 5: 6:37
    • Mile 6-7: 13:30
    • Mile 8: 6:43
    • Mile 9: 6:40
    • Mile 10: 6:46
  • Temp 45 and rainy.  I liked it.
  • Got 6th in my age group.  Top 5 got trophies.  Bummer.  (I have one from a few years back, but I'm greedy)
  • Left my hotel at 6:05 to jog up to the AT&T Septa stop.  Picked up an express train to the Olney Station, and was there by 6:45.  Then camped out in the station for a bit.
  • My Philly race issue continues.  I have yet to have a truly good race in Philly.  Yet every time I've raced in Richmond or Virginia Beach I've PRd.  So why do I ever go up to Philly?
  • Took two puffs of Dulera for asthma; didn't use rescue inhaler.  Breathing was good. 
  • I am thinking that some of my lack of speed today was also due to last week's unfortunate asthma issues - I was pretty much trashed at the beginning of the week, and even as late as Friday I was still a little lead legged (though I felt good on Saturday's shakeout).   When I have a blow-out like that, it takes me a long time to recover, and there's really only so much I can do to accelerate the process.  So that's a lesson for next time - be really careful about not running yourself into a hole a week before your goal race (you'd think I'd know that by now). 
  • Just for the heck of it, I decided to list all the Philly hotels I've stayed at over the years:
    • Holiday Inn on Arch St (now closed) - Nine Inch Nails concerts, visits to Shampoo Night Club
    • Club Quarters Philadelphia - Broad Street 10 Miler, RNR Philly
    • Ritz Carlton Philadelphia- law firm work trips, Nine Inch Nails concerts (and yes, the staff loved it when I walked through the lobby in my concert attire)
    • Embassy Suites Center City - Philadelphia Marathon
    • Residence Inn City Hall - Broad Street 10 Miler
    • Holiday Inn Philadelphia Stadium - Broad Street 10 Miler
    • Westin Philadelphia - law firm work
    • Philadelphia Marriott Downtown - law firm work
    • Marriott Courtyard South Navy Yard - Broad Street 10 Miler