Sunday, June 25, 2017

Training log - Week ending 6/25/17

This week was 4 miles of running,  34 "miles" of pool-running, and 6000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

Rest week, and quite necessary.  During the past few months, I squeezed pretty much everything out of the metaphorical toothpaste tube of my fitness - quite an achievement.  Especially since I usually toss the literal tube early so I can start a new one.

So, it was break time.  There's differing definitions of "break" of course.  I know that many world class elite runners take several weeks of absolutely nothing.  That's a nice option if you're a world class elite runner and have the free time post season to go somewhere and hike and hang out for a week or more.

For the rest of us, a period of doing absolutely nothing physical equates to a period of dealing with the frustrations and stresses of our day jobs while abstaining from our coping mechanisms.  Not terribly restorative.

 Since the ultimate point of a break is to come back refreshed and rejuvenated, I follow two rules: 1) nothing intense and 2) only activities that I really really want to do.  This time around, that ended up being a lot of yoga, social pool-running, and swimming,   And junk food - gluten-free/nut-free/organic/free-range/humanely-raised/handcrafted chocolate cake for breakfast, anyone?

In case you thought I was kidding.

By Thursday morning I was starting to miss running, which told me I was about halfway ready to run again.  I held off until Sunday, and then I scratched the itch.  4 miles felt way too short, an indication that it was just right.

Over the next week, I'll continue with the easy running.  Depending on how I feel, I may show up for my team's hill workout on Friday - the hill workouts are my preferred way of reintroducing hard running, since they're untimed, and each interval is relatively short in duration with a long recovery.


Dailies 

Monday: In the morning, yoga and 6 "miles" pool-running with the belt.  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday: In the morning, 5 "miles" pool-running with the belt and 2000 yards swimming.  Sports massage in afternoon.

Wednesday:  In the morning, 5 "miles" of pool-running and yoga.  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday: In the morning, injury prevention work and core followed by 9 "miles" pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday: In the morning, yoga and 2000 yards swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:  In the morning, 9 "miles" of pool-running followed by upper body/core work.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday: In the morning, 4 miles very easy (9:20), followed by 2000 yards of swimming and a yoga class.  Foam rolling at night.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Training log - Week ending 6/18/17

This week was 34 miles of running,  6 "miles" of pool-running, and 1000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

This was the last week of my "season" which extended from mid-February all the way through mid-June.  Despite the length of the season, we managed to prolong my peak and run my fastest near the end.  Not an easy accomplishment, and one that required excellent coaching and a lot of patience and restraint.

But now, I'm done.  And just in time, as the Garry Bjorklund half felt almost like one race too many. I'm really mentally and physically tired.  So it's break time.  Not a complete avoidance of activity, but I'm sticking to low-key fun stuff (yoga, social pool-running, swimming) until I feel recharged.  Which will likely be 2-3 weeks.


Dailies 

Monday: In the morning, yoga and 6 "miles" pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday
: In the morning, 9 miles, including a track workout of 5x800 in 2:57, 2:53, 2:51, 2:52, 2:47, followed by light injury prevention work and 1000 yards recovery swimming. Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday:  In the morning, 7 miles very easy (9:15 pace) plus upper body weights and core, and DIY yoga.  Sports massage midday.

Thursday: Nothing but travel to Duluth and DIY yoga plus tennis ball self-massage.

Friday: 3 mile shake out (9:30 pace).  Later did DIY yoga and tennis ball self-massage.

Saturday: 2 mile warm-up and then a half-marathon in 1:26:58.

Sunday: Traveled back to DC in the morning; foam rolling at night.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Race report: Garry Bjorklund Half-Marathon, June 17, 2017

I ran the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon (associated with Grandma's Marathon) yesterday, finishing in a time of 1:26:58.  It wasn't the PR or sub-86 that I had hoped for, but my time was good enough for third female master, which was a thrill.  Grandma's Marathon and the Garry Bjorklund Half are generally very competitive in the masters category, since they pay very well.

This is the third year in a row that I've headed up to Duluth, so I know the drill and many of the tricks by now.

Point 1: Flying into MSP and driving to Duluth is far better than flying into Duluth.  This is because there's a limited number of commuter flights to Duluth each day, resulting in a real headache if you miss your connection (been there, done that).  Plus, MSP-Duluth can be driven in just over 2 hours if you avoid traffic, meaning that the total travel time nets out the same.

Point 2: Staying in the local university dorms is vastly preferable to any hotel in the area.  Usually, I'm all for splurging on a hotel near the start/finish line of a goal race.  But the dorms are a fantastic value - three nights in a dorm costs the same as one night in a Motel 6 that is no closer to the start/finish area.  Plus the added convenience of easy transit via bus to and from the race.

The dorms do lack televisions, phones, and air conditioning.  However, streaming video on a laptop and cell phones eliminate the need for the first two.  And if Duluth is warm enough on race weekend that I need air conditioning in my room, then I'm probably not going to run to my full potential anyway.  In that case, it's better to have spent as little money as possible on the trip.

I prefer to travel two days before a race if it's a marathon or if the travel involves flying.  So I flew into MSP on Thursday morning, and then drove up, arriving in Duluth around 2 pm.  Then I checked into U. Minnesota-Duluth, the same place I stayed in 2015 and 2016.

The last two years, I was assigned a room on one of the top floors.  This year, they placed me on the ground floor instead.  I was annoyed at first - my hall ended up being the one used for prospective student tours, resulting in enthusiastic (and noisy) chatter right outside my door at a time that I craved quiet and solitude.  On the other hand, my room was also considerably less stuffy than my previous rooms - I'm fairly certain that's due to being on the first floor.

***

On Friday morning, I woke, stretched, played on the internet, and then met two other masters runners - Brenda and Alice - for a brief shakeout run near the finish line.  Then I ducked into the expo to grab my bib.  From there, it was on to the elite room to plead my case.

Why the need to beg?  Well...I had registered for this race through the lottery some time ago, when my PRs and recent race times were significantly slower.  At that time, I wasn't a contender for a masters award at this race, so I just entered the regular way, through the lottery.  Fast forward a few months, and things were very different.  But, since I had already paid the entry fee for this race, it never occurred to me that there would be other reasons to request elite status.

Well... that was until I was speaking with Brenda and Alice (both entered as elites), and remembered that if I wanted a shot at masters prize money, I needed to be able to start near the line, not 20-30 seconds back at the 6:30 pace area, since masters awards were based on gun time.  Additionally, access to the shelter of the start line elite tent would sure be nice if it was raining on race morning.

So I (apologetically and nicely) crashed the elite room at the convention center, looking for the right people to plead my case.  (Several of my past performances loaded up on my cell phone as evidence in case needed.).  As it turned out, it was no issue at all - the staff at this race are really wonderful, and were happy to help.  The start line was self-seeding anyway, so no need for a special bib to line up near the front.  As for entry to the elite tent, that was easy - they knew me now, and would let me in on sight.  Access to the bus in the morning and private bag check would be harder to coordinate this late in the game, but I didn't care about either of those, so it was a non-issue.

I have to admit that I was hoping for an elite badge like those that Alice and Brenda had.  Getting one would allow me to live out my newly uncovered lifelong dream of wearing an elite athlete lanyard while chowing down in the front window of a Chipotle in Duluth, Minnesota.  But no badge for me.

Dreams die hard, but I continued forward.  Lanyard-less, my next stop was indeed Chipotle, where I plowed my way through 1.5 rice bowls per pre-race ritual.  And then back to my dorm room for DIY yoga, tennis ball massaging, and reading (finished my book on Jeffrey Bezos and Amazon; started one about the founding and early days of Uber).  Talked some with Brian, chatted some on Facebook, drank a lot of water and my UCan,  and then hit bed in prep for a very early wake up.

***

My alarm went off at 3:15 am local.  Which was 4:15 am east coast time, which is when I normally wake for track workouts anyway.  So no big deal, once I emotionally moved on from the insult of the glaring "3" on my Garmin screen.  I did my morning routine, including my pre-race stretching, and then headed down to hop on one of the first buses to the start (4:45 am departure).

Even leaving on the first bus, I arrived at the start a bit later than I would like. I barely had enough time to hit the portapottie, check my bag, and warm-up.  For my warm-up, I stuck with 2 miles, including about 90 seconds at half-marathon feel, plus drills and strides.  Then into the start area, lining myself up about 2 rows back from the start.  I also placed myself at the very side edge of the field, so that all the faster people behind me could easily stream around me.

Though it wasn't yet super warm, the air was very thick and I was sweating while standing at the start - not a good sign.  It was an absolutely beautiful morning.  Unless you were hoping to run fast.

The start itself surprised me slightly.  I had glanced at my watch and noted that it was 6:14.  But I had heard nothing in terms of "one minute to start."  I wondered if the start was delayed and debated reaching down to readjust my shoe.  And then my watch turned to 6:15 and the gun went off and I was very glad I had left my shoe as is.

***

Since I had placed myself so close to the line, I knew that I was going to be constantly passed for the first few miles.  Even so, I had to work hard to keep my focus and not get drawn out too fast as I was passed by women and men.   Looking back at my splits, I think I still went out slightly fast, though some of the unevenness of my splits might be due to the rolling nature of the course.

It's hard to maintain your own pace and run your own race when being passed from behind, and the longer that period lasts, the more difficult it is to focus.  Here, for the first four miles I was being constantly passed, which challenged my confidence.  Was I holding back too much?  No, it didn't feel like it.  Plus I knew the humidity would make anyone who went out too aggressively pay a high price. So I focused on holding the effort that felt "just right," rather than chasing others.  And nursing my hand held water bottle.

Around mile four or five, the tide of people passing me finally slowed, paused, and then reversed.  Slowly, but surely runners started coming back to me, faster and faster.  It was tempting to get aggressive, but I still had a way to go.  So I held my effort at a hard cruise, remembering to nurse my water bottle.

Usually when I carry a water bottle in a half-marathon, I toss it at or just after the half-way point.  However, I've found that in humid races, I prefer to carry (and drink from it) much further into the race.  That held true on Saturday - at mile 7, tossing my bottle seemed like a bad idea.  So I kept it, continuing to sip from it.

By mile 8, as we approached town, the trickle of those I was passing became a flow, including several women who had passed me previously.  I was working hard, but in control, as I chugged up Lemon Drop Hill and then the unnamed-but-I-hate-it hill that hits between miles 10 and 11 when the course transitions from London Road to Superior Street.

I was feeling fine.  And then I wasn't.  In what seemed like moments, I went from controlled to struggling.  In retrospect, I think that the humidity finally caught up with me, compounded by dehydration despite my best efforts.  But at the time, I wasn't coherent enough to think about that. My world withered to a singular focus - relax and flow forward.   Don't think, just do.  Go.

Based on the splits, I managed to hold it together fairly well.  Part of this was no doubt the slight downhill of the late miles of the course.  Additionally, I normally close pretty hard in races, with my final miles substantially faster than the previous.  Here, I was closing-while-cratering, and the two factors balanced out to a consistent pace.

At mile 12, we turned down into the water-front area, and commenced the maze-like route to the finish line.  I was slogging, just trying to hold it together.  And then another woman passed me.  I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that I glanced at her, concluded that there was no way she was over 40 (in retrospect a risky chance to take - but I lucked out, since she was 23) and let her pass me.  I then let her tow me in.

That's not like me - normally I have a lot of fight in me.  But not then.  In the immediate aftermath of the race, I was fairly upset at myself for not digging a bit deeper to pass her back.  I'm not upset that she beat me to the line; I'm upset that I didn't fight more.

 But as I reconsider, I think I just had nothing left.  Physically, I was gassed.  Mentally?  I think one can only scrape the bottom of the well so many times in a season, and I had done it twice in quick succession at the Loudoun Street Mile and then last week's Purple Stride 5K.

I was done.  And then I mercifully crossed the finish line, and I was truly done.  I noted the finishing time of just under 87 minutes, but I didn't have much time to think about it.  As they had done last year, my calves and feet spasmed painfully within about 30 seconds of finishing,and walking required my full focus.  I had planned ahead, at least, and carried a heavily salted lemonade rocktane with me.  I tossed the salty gel down, followed by a bottle of water, and then commenced the painful hobble out of the finishing area toward the bus back to my dorm.  I was finished with the race, and finished for the season.

***

Splits were:
Mile 1: 6:36
Mile 2: 6:39
Mile 3: 6:37
Mile 4: 6:45
Mile 5. 6:49 (I think I clicked this one slightly late)
Mile 6: 6:29
Mile 7: 6:45
Mile 8: 6:40
Mile 9: 6:36
Mile 10: 6:39
Mile 11: 6:38
Mile 12: 6:39
Mile 13 plus last bit: 7:09 (6:26 pace)

Interesting how the splits don't reflect how the race felt.  The splits look fairly even, with a solid finish.  As described above, the race felt like a solid negative split, albeit with some struggling at the end.

My final time was 1:26:58 - just under 87. which didn't make much difference to me at the time.  I had hoped to run sub-86 or better when I left for Duluth (I think a reasonable goal, based on my fitness), so I was bummed.  Intellectually, I understood that the weather was a factor.  But I think I've gotten really spoiled by all the recent PRs.

***

Post race, I returned to my dorm, showered, and then drove back down to the finish area to see the marathoners finish.  The nice thing about running the half marathon is that I finish shortly before the marathoners start, which gives me a solid 2.5 to 3 hours to get "home," shower, and head back down. After catching up with several friends (Brenda, former DC resident Madeline, my teammate Jamie, and my "one-step-up-from-imaginary" online friend Kevin - sadly I couldn't find my other online friend Steve), I ended up at a Tex-Mex place with Brenda and Kevin for awesome nachos.  Nothing satisfies the post-race munchies like salty chips and frozen fruity drinks.

Around that time, Brenda pointed out to me that it appeared I had won a masters award in the half.  At the same time, texts and messages began to roll in from friends asking if I had won a masters award.  I didn't dare respond - at the moment it looked like I was third master, but I also knew there had been some bib-reading problems, and the results were being reviewed and corrected.  It was quite possible that another master had finished in front of me, but had a chip issue.  I didn't want to get my hopes too high.

So we headed over to the awards ceremony.  Where sure enough, I was third masters (and also third overall in the women's 40-44 age group).  For my efforts, I got a glass tray, some flowers, and an envelope that purported to hold a check for $500 but actually held the forms I needed to complete and return to get the $500.  Brenda was second master in the marathon, so it was a good day for us both.
My schwag.  Clockwise from bottom left, the race medal, the pre-payout-paperwork,
the stuffed animal I bought at the expo (I am 12), the awards ceremony program,
my glass trophy tray, and the flowers they gave to all female award-winners.
Kitten was supplied separately -
sadly that's one of the few perks Grandma's doesn't currently offer.


Other notes:

  • Weather was low to mid 60s, with very high humidity.  We did get some respite, in that we had overcast skies and a slight headwind - enough to cool, but not enough to slow.  The marathoners ended up with warmer temps and bright sunshine, but significantly less humidity as it warmed up.  
  • For those of you who were wondering, I can confirm that the 2016 weather was much tougher than this year.  2016 conditions were dangerous; this year's conditions were just pace-impeding. The one thing that both years had in common: the forecast weather for the day AFTER the race was superior to race morning.  Sigh.
  • At most races on the east coast, if there's an issue with your bib, you go to the "solutions" desk at the expo.  At Grandma's, you go to the "problems" desk.  I find this both illustrative of the honesty and charm of the race organization, and completely hilarious.
  • Took one gel on course - a blueberry-pomegranate roctane around mile 7 - I knew Lemondrop hill was coming up at mile 9, and this gave just enough time for the sugar and caffeine of the gel to kick in.
  • Booked a 12:50 pm flight home on Sunday, but ended up swapping to the 9 am.  Note to future self - always book the early morning flight.  You'll just end up swapping to it anyway if you don't.
  • Major kudos to the race organization for taking masters and age groups awards seriously .  Though the race starts quite early in the morning, the awards are not until late afternoon.  That's so the organizers can review all the finish line photos, videos, and mid-race splits to confirm the validity of the results.  Having lost results many times to bib-swappers, I really appreciate this.
  • Despite the high humidity, my asthma was a complete non-issue.  I can't forget just how awesome and amazing that is.
  • And yes, in case you're wondering, once I realized I'd placed in the Masters division and won money, I felt much better about the race. Funny how that works. 
  • No Grandma's race report is complete without a picture with Grandma.
    Brenda, Grandma, and myself at the awards ceremony.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Training log - Week ending 6/11/17

This week was 44 miles of running,  15 "miles" of pool-running, and 2000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

The highlight was clearly Saturday's 5K, where I broke 19, running 18:51.  In less than two weeks, I've checked off two major lifetime running goals - breaking 5:30 for the mile and 19:00 for 5K.

These times are significant to me - when I was in my late 30s, I ran 19:10 and 5:30, making those goals tantalizingly close.  But then I tore my hamstring and had to take much time off, followed by entering my 40s.  And the long slow hard climb back to fitness.

It's not that I thought those times were completely unachievable for me in my 40s, IF I specifically chased them to the exclusion of other goals.  However, I knew that I couldn't train for all distances at once, and I reasoned that it was better to focus on the longer stuff, where I had more opportunity for improvement.

I didn't think I'd ever be able to break 5:30 or 19 without specifically targeting those distances to the exclusion of all others.  I'm glad to be proven wrong.

***

In other news, I received my third Xolair shot this week (refresher: Xolair is a drug injected once a month that effectively turns off the body's ability to generate histamines, meaning no more allergies or allergic asthma).

Since I know several people are reading my blog to track my experience with Xolair, I'm going to do an entry focused solely on it at some point.  What I will note here is that the side effects that I noted with the first shot (fatigue, concentration difficulties, flu-like symptoms) were much reduced the second time around, and non-existent for the third shot.  So that's good news, and hopefully encouraging to others considering Xolair.  It's honestly been life altering for me.

Since going on Xolair I've been able to transition off the majority of my asthma and allergy medications, and I'm hoping to reduce or eliminate the rest in the next few months.  Notably, I've been running better and better after stopping those meds.  Which supports my belief that those meds hurt running as much as they help.  If you truly need to be on asthma and allergy meds, then you'll obviously run better with them than without - I know I did.  But if you don't need them, you're much better off without them, from both a health and a running performance perspective.

[obligatory note #1: Prednisone is the exception to the above - prednisone is like rocket fuel, and rightfully banned in competition.]

[obligatory note #2: I'm very careful that everything I take complies with WADA/USADA anti-doping regs, including the Xolair. Wondering how to check whether something is legal? Go here.]


Dailies 

Monday: In the morning, yoga and 6 "miles" pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday: In the morning, 10 miles, including a track workout of 2x800, 1600, 2x800 in 2:53, 2:50, 5:50, 2:50, 2:46.  Followed with injury prevention work and 1000 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night

Wednesday:  In the morning, 8 miles very easy (9:02), followed by drills, strides, DIY yoga.  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday: In the morning, upper body weights/core followed by 9 "miles" pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday: In the morning, 4 miles very easy (8:48) plus DIY yoga and foam rolling.

Saturday:  In the morning, 4 mile fartlek warm-up, then 5K race in 18:51 (6:04 pace).  Followed with 5 miles very easy (9:34).  Later did light injury prevention work and 1000 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in the evening.

Sunday: In the morning, 10 miles very easy (9:20), followed by upper body strengthwork and core.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Race Report: Purple Stride 5K, June 10, 2017

I ran the Purple Stride 5K today, finishing in a time of 18:51, which was good enough for the female win (and thus the female master win as well).  It was also a substantial PR, so I'm happy on multiple levels.

When I race, I mentally categorize races as "target" or "other." To be clear, whenever I race, I cut back on my training a few days before, and toe the line with the intent of giving my best.  I hate "training through the race" or "tempoing the race."  For me, I think that it creates bad mental habits.

But I can't treat every race as a target race with a full taper - I'd never be able to train. Thus, for a non-marathon season, I pick 2-3 "target races" - this year, they were NYC Half (which ended up being Shamrock Half....), Broad Street 10, and next week's Garry Bjorklund Half (aka Grandma's). The other races are secondary.  It's not that I don't care about them - they just don't get top billing.

[For a marathon training cycle, the marathon is the target - there are no others.]

For a target race, I'll take vacation days to ensure I'm well rested, and carefully scrutinize courses, often registering for back-up races to maximize my chances of good weather. Other races I treat like workouts in one sense - if it's a slow course or a bad weather day, oh well.  It is what it is, and we all race under the same conditions.

With all of that said, Purple Stride ended up being both a target and a non-target race.  My intent when registering was to use it as a final tune-up for my half.  For myself, a 5K a week or two before a longer race primes the engine.   However, I knew that, based on my recent PRs at both shorter (the mile) and longer (10K, 10M, and half) distances, I was in shape to finally break 19 minutes for the 5K distance.  And that elevated the priority to kinda-sorta-a-target-race.

Why am I discussing the above?  Because it explains why I was obsessively reviewing 5K course maps and emailing race directors earlier this week.

***

To provide more detail: there are several 5K races each year that start and finish at Freedom Plaza in downtown DC, running a fast and flat course with minimal turns.  That course is USATF certified - a PR there is legit.

But, the course posted on the race website didn't quite match the USATF course.
USATF Certified on left, race website on right. 
The website course showed a different turn back onto Pennsylvania Avenue and the finish, a turn that would cut a slight bit of distance off.   And I remembered seeing some surprisingly fast times from this race in previous years.

I really didn't want to run a sub-19 that wasn't really a sub-19.

On the theory that it couldn't hurt, I emailed the race director, asking (very nicely) to confirm what course they were using, and was it certified.  At the same time, I started reviewing other 5K options.

There was a Pride Run 5K on Friday night (not good - I had a social thing that I wanted to make an appearance at (which I ended up missing anyway due to last minute work, but oh well)).   There was a 5K in Fairfax on Sunday, but the forecast was warm and humid.  There was a 5K on Saturday in Alexandria but it looked very small, and I wasn't sure I'd have anyone to run with - I'm not in shape to break 19 in a solo time trial.

Additionally, the Lawyers Have Heart 10K (also on Saturday) had added a timed, competitive 5K option.   I hadn't been aware of that when registering for Purple Stride.  (The 10K was out of the question as too close to my target half marathon.)

 I debated swapping to the Lawyers 5K - the 5K course was fast and there'd be plenty of people at my pace to chase.  Plus Lawyers started at 7:00 am - 90 minutes earlier than Purple Stride, which could be a significant advantage given the forecast rise in temperatures today.

But in the end, I decided to stay with Purple Stride.  The race director had very nicely emailed me back and confirmed that they would be using the USATF certified course.  And when I looked at the Lawyers 5K course, I noted three hair pin turns.  Hair pin turns are not an issue for most, but I struggle with them - because I need to be careful about putting too much lateral stress on my weak ankles I have to take extra care and slow way down for those turns.  Purple Stride had one hair pin turn that actually isn't that tight in practice, since it goes around a median.

So Purple Stride it was.  A decision that took more time than the race itself.

***

An 8:30 am start meant that I could sleep in (relatively speaking) before stretching and heading over to the race.  Once there, I warmed up - about 3 miles easy jogging (I'm creaky) and then 2 segments of about 2 minutes each at tempo pace, followed by some more jogging.  

The temperatures were definitely heating up - what had felt like good racing weather (well...for June) at 7 am was now feeling a bit warm, with the sun beating down.   For a moment, I wondered if I should have gone with Lawyers instead.  But the air was still dry, my breathing felt great, and the race was a short one, so hopefully the heat wouldn't be much of a factor. Plus, too late to change now - I was committed.

Drills, strides, and I lined up.  I was surprised to see I was the only woman at the start (not counting the obligatory collection of children of both genders).  I had to look several rows back to see any women.  Of course, this didn't mean that I wouldn't have female competition once the race started, but it was interesting.

Then ready, set, go, and we were off.  Interestingly, there was no gun or tone - just a guy saying "go" (arguably a bit too softly).   There was a moment, a delayed reaction, and then everyone realized the race had started and we took off.

***

This course is very very slightly downhill on the way out, and very very slightly uphill on the way back.  As a slow starter and a strong closer, I prefer that to the inverse.  But it does mean that I have to be careful to pull back on the first mile.  Fortunately, I found myself in a pack of several guys who were following a similar strategy - very convenient.  I didn't see any women around me, and I resisted the urge to look.  I knew that at about 1.5 miles, the course would turn back on itself, and I'd be able to see if any other women were in striking distance.

For the next minutes, I focused on holding an even, strong effort.  Like all my other races, I was running with my watch face blanked, so that I couldn't see splits.    That may surprise some - you would think that since I was using this race to chase a time, I'd want splits, even if I normally race without.  

I gently disagree. I knew from my other races that I had the fitness to break 19, I just needed to execute.  And the best way for me to execute is to expend my effort as evenly as I can - something that I do best when running off of perceived effort.  Checking splits just distracts me and sucks mental energy.  I was going to give whatever I had today - checking my Garmin wouldn't help me there.

***

When I hit the turn around, there were no other women to be seen behind me.  The gap was so long that I stopped looking and returned to focusing on myself.  This was good.  I'm competitive by nature, and whenever given the choice between a fast time or a win, I'll go for the win.  And, as paradoxical as it sounds, I find that it's hardest to run my best race when I'm contending for a win.  I end up focusing on my competition and reacting to what they do, or saving something in reserve in case I need to surge later.

Today, I was fairly sure I had the win unless I either dropped out or was surprised by an elite who started the race 30 seconds late (which happens in DC).  So I could put winning completely out of my mind and just focus on emptying the tank, using the men ahead or with me.

***

Up we ran on 3rd Street, towards the final turn onto Pennsylvania.  I noted with a weird combination of satisfaction and chagrin that we were taking the USATF certified route, rather than cutting the turn short.   Satisfaction because whatever I ran would be legit.  Chagrin because mis-marked too-short courses are downright appealing when you're a bit over 2 miles into a 5K race.

The long stretch home on Pennsylvania Avenue is always mentally challenging.  It's very slightly uphill (really, a deceptive false flat), and you can see the finish line in the far distance, but it's not getting closer.  I've learned to stop looking at the finish line, and take this stretch block by block.  The Newseum, then 6th street, then 7th, then 9th, then 10th.  

As I approached the 3 mile marker, I heard the male winner being announced as coming in at 18 minutes.  This meant that I was in striking distance of distance of breaking 19 (I'd have felt more comfortable if I had been AT the 3 mile marker when I heard that).

Now was the time to hammer.  I was fairly uncomfortable - deep into 5K suck, which I personally think is the worst kind of race suck.  But I told myself that I'd regret it deeply if I failed to break 19 and hadn't given it everything I had.  So I dug in.  After a moment, I realized that this situation really wasn't that different from the Loudoun Street Mile.  Sure, now I was racing a clock rather than a really fantastic runner.  But the situation was the same - now is my opportunity to gain something I've always wanted, and I've got to give it everything I have.

And that was how I kicked to the finish line, pretending that Alisa Harvey was right behind me.  As I approached the clock (and swerved to break the tape) I noted the clock at 18:4x.  Safely under 19.

And then I was done, and much like Loudoun Street Mile, I really wanted to sit down.

***

I did take manual splits for later review, though I didn't check them at the time.  Good thing.  I suspect the mile markers were a bit off - my Garmin claims that some were long and some were short.  Below are my splits, and then what Garmin claims was the average pace for the split.

Mile 1: 6:04 (Garmin says 5:56 pace)
Mile 2: 5:52 (Garmin says 6:04 pace)
Mile 3: 6:18 (Garmin says 6:04 pace)
last bit: 35 seconds (Garmin says 5:11 pace)

[Garmin report here]

The race felt like even pace for 3 miles, and then a hard kick at the end.  It certainly didn't feel like I surged in mile 2 and then slowed dramatically in mile 3.

My hunch is that the first mile marker was accurate - the Garmin signal was just a bit screwy.  And then the second mile marker was short and the third was long.  I think I ran something close to 6:04 pace for three miles and then closed at something faster than 6:04 and slower than 5:11.

But heck, in the end it doesn't matter - what matters is the overall time and the accuracy of the overall course. The inaccurate mile markers do support my preference to ignore splits and pace off of feel. If I had been checking splits during the race, the second mile would unquestionably have been a distraction.

Other notes:


  • It did end up being a bit warm for the race - 72 degrees, with a dewpoint of 61, and bright sunshine (I can hear my friends in the Deep South laughing now).  But since it wasn't traditional oppressive DC humidity, it wasn't all that bad.   I guess I might have run a bit faster if it was 45 degrees.  Or maybe not - running's funny that way.  I don't really care.  I got the sub-19.
  • I wore my Adidas Takumi Sens for this race.  I usually race in either the Takumi Sen Boost (short stuff) or the Adidas Adios Boost 2 (longer stuff, including marathons).  They're very similar shoes - the main difference is that the Takumi Sen has a much lower heel drop, with most of the Boost being in the forefoot.  The Adios has most of the Boost in the midfoot and heel.  

    After experimenting with both, I think I prefer the Takumi Sen for 5K and under, while the Adios is better for 10K and up.  My foot strike varies slightly with each distance.  For the faster shorter stuff, I'm up on my forefoot, and the Takumi Sen feels like rockets on my feet.  It is an AMAZING shoe to kick in.  But it's a miserable slappy stiff shoe to run more slowly in, while the Adios feels great at a range of paces.

    (It's worth noting at this point that the Adios is a fantastic shoe for the end of a marathon.  I've run two marathons in them, and for both, my feet felt wonderful at the end.  That's a real achievement for a marathon shoe.  Of course, your mileage may vary, both figuratively and literally.)

    At some point, I'm going to race a 5 miler or 8K, and that's when shoe choices are going to get hard.
  • I left pretty early to get to the race 90 minutes before, and was glad I did.  I forgot that the Lawyers Have Heart 10K course was now routed down Rock Creek Parkway and near E St.  Meaning that getting to the start of the race I was running required navigating around the traffic jam created by the race I wasn't running.  In the end, it was only a 15 minute delay.  And since I had built in fudge time, it was a non issue.
  • My Garmin read 18:49 for the race, while my official gun and chip time were both 18:51.  I was surprised at the time, as I didn't stop my Garmin until I was well over the line.  In retrospect, I think I (and everyone else) lost two seconds at the start of the race due to the less than obvious start, and resulting delayed reaction.  Since I was at the line, when the race started, the mat caught me, even though I didn't actually start for another few moments.  Oh well, not a big deal.  I would have been considerably more upset if it had been 18:59 versus 19:01...
  • No pre-race inhaler use, no post-race inhaler use.  Awesome.  I will never get tired of being able to breathe deeply and well.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Training log - Week ending 6/4/17

This week was 51 miles of running,  23 "miles" of pool-running, and 3000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

This week was all over the place, with highs and lows.  One big high was Monday's mile race - I was really happy with my placing, and it was great to finally break 5:30.  When I turned 40, I thought that my lifetime mile PR would be stuck at 5:30 - I'd run that same time on three separate occasions, on both track and the roads.  It's nice to break that.

I followed the mile up with, of all things, prolotherapy injections in my ankle on Tuesday.  In the past, my ankles have been the source of many injuries - a result of instability in the ankle joint from loose ligaments.  My PRP and prolotherapy injections a few years ago tightened everything up nicely, but the doctor had warned me that I'd need follow-up injections every few years.

At a follow-up appointment earlier this spring, he noted that my right ankle was starting to feel sloppy again.  I didn't need to get it injected yet, but I should come back in when things started to get sore.  And then, a few weeks ago, I noted that I was starting to struggle with my balance on my right leg in yoga.  Over the next few weeks, the trend continued - left side good/right side wobbly-and-getting-worse in single leg exercises.  I could see where this was going - right into a compensation injury - so I scheduled an injection appointment.

Prolotherapy is much easier than PRP - it's cheaper, far less pain, and you can drive home after.  The only catch was that I couldn't go in the pool for 48 hours after because of the risk of infection at the injection sites.   But running was fine, so there was really no interruption in training.  And I noted near-immediate improvement - my single leg exercises on Saturday were perfect on both sides.  Woo.

***

For this weekend, my coach had scheduled a workout of 2x4 miles at marathon pace-ish (anywhere within a range of 6:45-7:00 pace).  The original plan would have been to do this workout on Sunday, after a cruise intervals workout on Friday.  So three hard days - the mile race, the cruise intervals, and the 2x4.

Since the mile race and the 2x4 were both demanding efforts, my coach agreed with my request that I skip the cruise intervals, so that I'd only have two hard days this week.  I don't recover as quickly as some, and thus I like to err on the side of more recovery.  I don't do myself any favors by doing more hard training than I can absorb.

So...I raced the mile on Monday, took three easy days, and then did the 2x4 on Friday.  I had originally thought I'd do the 2x4 on Saturday, but I felt recovered enough by Friday to do it, and Friday's weather was absolutely perfect - too good to pass up.  Plus, doing it on Friday gave me another 3 days recovery before Tuesday track.  The workout went very well, so that was nice.

***

However, all the good things about the week were counterbalanced by the unexpected loss of a beloved coworker.  Elise was both brilliant and one of the kindest, gentlest souls I've ever known.  She was generous and caring and genuine in a way that was hard to comprehend, let alone convey via words.  Her passing is a huge loss to the privacy community, to our mutual employer, and to the world as a whole.  I can't believe she's gone.

Dailies 

Monday: In the morning 3 miles warm-up and then a mile race in 5:25.4.  In the afternoon, 10 "miles" pool-running and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday: In the morning, a yoga class and 4 "miles" pool-running.  Prolotherapy shots in my ankle midday. Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday:  In the morning, 6.5 miles very easy (8:50) to yoga, yoga, and then another 5.5 miles (9:09), followed by drills.  Massage at night.

Thursday: In the morning, 10 miles very easy (9:09) followed by drills and strides and upper body weights/core.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday: In the morning, 13 miles including a workout on the roads of 2x4 miles at marathon pace, with one mile recovery in between.  Ran 27:30 (6:53/6:54/6:51/6:52 - average pace of 6:53) and 27:24 (6:55/6:50/6:49/6:50 - average pace of 6:51)   Followed with 1500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Saturday:  In the morning, 9 "miles" pool-running, followed by upper body weights plus core and injury prevention work and foam rolling.

Sunday: In the morning, train ride to NYC, followed by 12 easy in Central Park (8:43) and injury prevention work.  Later took the train back to DC.  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The pre-run routine

In a recent race report, I referred to my 15 minute pre-run routine to get everything stretched out.  In response, I fielded several requests to post my routine.  Sure.  It's below.

But first, a disclaimer (because I'm an attorney, and such things are second nature).

This is MY routine that addresses MY specific weaknesses.  I'm not recommending this as a general routine for others.  I think that most runners could benefit from a pre-run routine, especially those who are older or injury-prone.  But the structure of that pre-run routine should be individually tailored to that runner's needs.

***

So... what are my issues?  Currently the big ones are:

  • a wonky left SI joint that likes to pop out of place when I'm asleep (and yes, I've tried different sleeping positions).
  • very tight psoas and quad muscles
  • a right abdominal muscle that likes to fall asleep
  • glutes that like to fall asleep
  • shoulders that are usually tense and tight.
***

The routine to address my issues, in chronological order:

  1.  A yoga supine spinal twist: I lay on my back and then pull one knee into my chest while the other leg remains extended.  Then I twist across my torso - pulling the left knee across to the right, or vice versa.  Most mornings, I get a nice pop in my left hip when I do this (and I walk much straighter after).  Occasionally I get a pop in the right hip, though that's the exception, not the rule
  2. Several gentle lunges, alternating right and left leg forward.  I start with low lunges on each side (hands on floor) and build to a high crescent lunge on each side (torso erect, arms extended above).  Between each lunge, I return to a down dog pose, often including a down dog split pose where the leg that was just forward is now extended and curved behind me.
  3. A warrior two sequence.  I assume warrior two pose from yoga, holding for 5 breaths.  Then into extended side-angle pose, with one forearm gently resting on my knee while the other arm extends overhead.  I prefer the variant where the forearm rests on my knee over the version where one's hand touches the floor because I find the first to be a better stretch for the psoas.

    While holding side angle pose, I do five slow large circles with the extended arm - basically a backstroke-type motion.  Then I return to warrior two.

    Next, while still in warrior two foot pattern, I clasp my hands behind my back and perform a version of humble warrior two, but with my torso folded down halfway between my two legs (traditional humble warrior two has the torso fold much closer to the front leg).  When done this way, it's a nice groin stretch.

    Then I return to warrior two, and stretch backwards into reverse warrior.  Hold for 5 breathes.  Then return back to extended side angle pose for a second time, this time holding the pose stable for 5 breaths, feeling the nice psoas stretch.

    Once I've done that all on one side, I repeat on the other.
  4. Quad stretching.  I hold the couch stretch as defined by Kelly Starrett for 3 minutes on each side.  For the first minute, I lean fairly forward, for the second minute my torso is at roughly a 45 degree angle from the floor (and the wall).  For the third minute, I'm limber enough for my torso to be roughly perpendicular to the floor (as shown in the picture).
  5. Turning on the abs - I lie down on my back again, and perform 10 eagle crunches on each side.
  6. Turning on the glutes - I perform single-leg deadlifts on each side, holding a old closet rod in both hands as a balancing aid (I find it easier to do single-leg deadlifts with a light bar than with nothing at all.  I suspect this is for reasons similar to why tight-rope walkers use a bar for balance).  I don't have a prescribed number of repetitions here - I do the deadlift motion until it feels easy and I'm not wobbling - at that point, my glutes are awake.
  7. Tight shoulders - I place a tennis ball against a wall and self-massage my shoulders, back, and pectorals, working out all the knots (there are always knots).
Then, I'm done.  That's the 15 minute routine (longer if the cats try to help).  

***

The abbreviated version includes steps 1 and 2, plus extended side angle (from step 3) on each side for 5 breathes.  Then I hold the first minute of the couch stretch (step 4) before skipping step 5.  I do a few quick deadlifts on each side (step 6), and then skip step 7, heading out the door.

I do the "full routine" before any key run - i.e. a race or a workout.  For other runs, I prefer to do the full routine as well, but often I'm crunched for time and do the abbreviated version.  

I never run without doing at least the abbreviated routine.  It's simple - if I don't warm-up before I run, I have a lousy awful run and feel sore after, with my traditional injury areas flaring.  If doing the routine means that I'm late for my run, then so be it.

I'll also do parts of this routine (especially the couch stretch) at other times in the day as well.  The more open my hips are, the better.

***

One obvious question is whether the order I do these exercises in matters.  The answer is yes, if I'm doing these in the morning, pre-run.

I always start with getting my SI joint in whack. (Why do we say "out of whack" but never "in whack"?)  I need to have my hips level before doing anything else to stretch or activate.  

Steps 2-4 are all hip/groin stretches increasing in intensity.  Were I to do the couch stretch first, I'm afraid I'd pull something.

Once my hips are open, then I get the abs engaged with step 5.  I've found that if my hip flexors are tight, then they do some of the work that my abs should be doing, so I prefer to loosen the hip flexors with steps 2-4 before targeting the abs.

The glutes (step 6) come after that - in order for my glutes to fire correctly, I need to have my hips open, and having my abs engaged helps.

The final step, tennis balling my shoulders, is the one exception - that one can be done at any time.  Or shortchanged, if I've got limited time.  I put it last simply because it's the lowest priority.

The other obvious question: where do I get the time?  

Honestly, I just make it happen.  Like brushing my teeth or cleaning the litter box - two other things that must get done before I leave the house in the morning.  I get up earlier in the morning to fit it in.  And if I have to start my run later and run less miles, then oh well.  

Avoiding injury is much more important than any individual run.  

Monday, May 29, 2017

Race report: Loudoun Street Mile, May 29, 2017

I ran the Loudoun Street Mile in Winchester, Virginia today, finishing in a official time of 5:25.4 - this is a mile PR for me, as my previous PRs on both the road and the track were 5:30 (the 5:08 at the Main Street Mile last month doesn't count).

This is my fourth time running this race.  (Previously I ran 5:31.5 in 2012, 5:30.0 in 2013, and 5:36.7 in 2016. 2014 was missed due to injury, and I skipped 2015 because I was tapering for a marathon.)  So I'm familiar with the race, the course, and the logistics.

Getting there is pretty easy - it's an 80 minute drive on a fairly scenic route, and it's pretty cool to fly down Route 7 through the morning mists, blasting Underworld on the stereo.

(until you remember that stretch of Route 7 is where you got your first speeding ticket back in the early 90s, and you back off the gas.  Fortunate timing, as I hit a speed trap soon after)

Once there, I parked in my standard spot (Cameron Street at Boscawen - very close to the finish line and packet pick-up), and then grabbed my bib.  Then I returned to my car and extracted my yoga mat, laying it on the sidewalk next to my car.
.
Over the past 18 months, I've refined a brief 15 minute routine that gets my hips stretched out, my glutes firing, and my abs engaged.  So I do this routine before any key run, and a shortened 5 minute version before easy runs.  Problem is that a long car ride undoes most of what I've accomplished with the routine - my glutes go back to sleep and my hip flexors shorten.   So, this morning I did my pre-race routine before driving out to Winchester, and then reprising part of the routine on the sidewalk. Yoga in front of an antiques store, essentially.

Did I look odd? Yes.  But running and racing are full of odd behaviors - what's one more at this point?

***

Then I was off to warm-up.  I jogged two miles easy, followed by 75 seconds VERY HARD, another few minutes jogging, and then another 30 seconds VERY HARD.  I've found that in order to race a mile well, I need to run one, maybe two segments of 150-400m long at a very hard effort - harder than I intend to run during the first part of the race.  I plan to finish up these segments about 10-15 minutes before the race starts, which gives me plenty of time to recover and recharge before the race. Then just jogging, drills, and relaxed strides in the remaining time before the race.  3 miles total.

This routine obviously doesn't work for everyone, and might be detrimental to some.  But for me, I feel that it primes the engine - I've tried racing a mile off of just easy jogging and strides, and I never feel quite as good.  I'm sure this is all related to the fact that I always feel better at the end of a track workout than the beginning.

I was feeling very slightly crunched for time.  I had left my house about 10 minutes later than planned - 6:10 instead of 6:00 am, which meant I arrived at 7:20 am for the 8:30 am race.  Bib pick-up and stretching had taken some time, and thus my time for warming up was tighter than I would like.  But as it turned out, the race was delayed 15 minutes.  It wasn't the race's fault - apparently the police (responsible for managing the road closures) had shown up late.  It was serendipitous for me, as the extra 15 minutes gave me enough time to use the bathrom (twice) and get some extra strides in.

Then we lined up.  As a contender for a masters placing at most races, I should be starting at the front of the race; as a very slow starter off the line, I despise being there.  So I compromised by lining up very slightly behind my teammate Susanna.  That way I wasn't a road block to the women toeing the line, but I also knew that Susanna, being much faster than I, would start much faster, so there was no chance of me being blocked in.

Thus arranged, tasting that tenseness that's unique to the mile race, I awaited the start.  The starter announced "on your mark" and then pulled the trigger.  And....nothing.  No bang, nothing.  All the runners twitched, and then shrugged and nervously glanced at each other.

The starter apologized and fiddled with the gun.  Then we gave it another try.  "Ready..."  and...click.  No shot, nothing.

Cue a delay of about 15 seconds while the starter extracted a second pistol from his +5 backpack of wonders.    He fiddled with it some, and then cued us again. "On your mark.." and this time the gun fired.  It was hard to believe, but we were finally starting the race.

***

As I noted, I've run this course several times before, and so I know how to run it.  The first quarter is downhill, the second is uphill.  About 50m after the halfway mark, you crest the up hill and then hit a nice downhill.  The final quarter is more or less flat, with the final 300m run through the town square.

So, to run this race well, one needs to start out controlled, and let everyone drop you.  After the first quarter, start to build effort, while still saving some in the tank.  In the second quarter, many many many will fade and fall back on each side of you.  After the halfway point, start building as you crest the hill and then slingshot down the back side.  Keep building pace, but don't kick too early - the finish line of this race always looks deceptively closer than it is, and I've seen many people start kicking when they enter the town square, only to mis-judge and tie up before the finish.

That was my plan.  Of course, I did go out slightly too quick anyways, but I realized that within about 5 seconds and pulled back.   Then, as runners slowed, I began to build, with restraint.

I noted a top masters runner, Alisa Harvey, in front of me as I worked my way up the hill.  I focused on her, using her to pull me up, but as I got close, she pulled away again.  As we crested the hill, I began to build momentum, reeling her in.  I pulled close, and then she pulled ahead again.

I don't do sudden surges or radical changes in pace well, so I knew it wasn't a good idea to trade surges with her.  Instead, I stuck with my steady slow burn (well...relatively slow- this was a mile), and reeled her in yet again.

And then I was beside her.  And then, as I continued to build, I was in front.  With 500m to go, I just barely had the lead in this road mile. In front of a woman who has broken 2 minutes in the 800 (albeit a few years back).

There was no way I was going to win this if it came down to a kick with 200m to go.  She unquestionably, even at the age of 51, had me beat on leg speed.  My only chance to win it was to keep building momentum and use my strength to burn the kick out of her with a very hard last 500m.
So that's what I did.  Not a sudden surge, but each second was just a bit harder than the previous.  I poured everything I had into that last 500m, as I heard the crowds cheering her behind me by name (she's well known in this area).  Every single step, I tried to give just a little bit more. And a little more after that.   All the way through the finish line.

And then I was through the line, and I had somehow pulled it off - finishing ahead of a multiple Pan-American Games medalist and winning the masters award.  I couldn't even process it at first - I was too trashed.  I just really needed to sit down.

I set my Garmin to autolap each quarter for this race.  It vibrated exactly at each quarter mile line, giving me accurate splits.  My splits were:

.25 mile - 1:19.24
.5 mile  - 1:25:43 (2:45.07)
.75 mile - 1:22.49 (4:07.56)
last quarter - 1:17.80 (5:25.74)

So, I ran a negative split of 2:45.07/2:40.67, with my last quarter the fastest.    Woo.   Pretty happy with how I paced this one.

For my work, I ended up being 9th female overall and top masters female.  Since this race was also the "RRCA Virginia State Mile Championship" that means that I am the RRCA Female Masters Mile Virginia Champion for 2017.  Which is a mouthful to say, a lot of typing to write, and also amusing, as I don't consider myself a miler.  Yay.  For 5 and a half minutes of work (plus some other stuff, of course), I got a medal, a check for $75, and a nice backpack.  Not bad.

Other notes:


  • As I noted above, I left my house at 6:10 am, arriving there at 7:20 am for the 8:30 am race.  This left me feeling slightly rushed - I need to leave a bit earlier next time.
  • While I'm psyched about the PR and the performance, I had thought I might be able to run a few seconds faster today.   It seemed like all of the women ran slightly (by few seconds) slower than anticipated.  I'm wondering if the multiple delays of the start - both the 15 minute delay and the gun mis-cues - sucked away from our collective adrenaline, resulting in very slightly slower times.  (I want to be clear though, I don't blame the race - I think it was just a Murphy's law type day).
  • My team ended up having a really good day, with wins in the women's overall, women's masters, and men's masters awards.  I think we also won the women's grand master awards (there was a bit of confusion there).  So yay Capital Area Runners.  


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Training log - Week ending 5/28/17

This week was 49 miles of running,  16 "miles" of pool-running, and 2000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

Another week of training, though I skipped the Sunday long run in favor of resting up for my mile race on Monday.

Tuesday's workout was interesting, in that we mixed up the recoveries slightly.  My team normally does a half-distance jog after each interval, but for Tuesday's workout we shortened the recovery after the 1200 (to just 400m, instead of 600m), and lengthened the recovery to about 250m after the 400.

That fact, combined with the jumping back and forth in interval lengths - we usually do pyramids, descending ladders, or intervals all of the same length - made the workout a bit tricky to figure out how to execute.

My group ended up running the 400s fairly conservatively so that we didn't fry ourselves for the 1200s.  I think that was the way to do it - we practiced restraint on the 400s, and also got to practice switching gears.  The latter is my weakness, so this was a good workout for me.

I also started cranking my way through the leaked USADA report on Albreto Salazar and the Nike Oregon Project.  I'm only about halfway through, but what I've read leaves me uncomfortable on multiple levels.

One level is the obvious - the allegations about the NOP's L-Carnitine infusions in violation of the WADA limits on IV delivery of any fluid.  Along with descriptions of how Alberto Salazar allegedly became the go-between for his athletes and an endocrinologist - concerning both from a medical ethics standpoint and from the treatment of the athletes like unquestioning tools, rather than adults.

But I'm also concerned about inaccuracies that I noted in the report.  For one thing, the report characterizes Dathan Ritzenheim as injury-free until he started training with Salazar.  Any fan of the sport knows that Ritz has been injury prone and fragile his entire career.  The report also refers to "Advair 250/250" and "Advair 500/500" - drugs that don't exist.  (The formulations are 250/50 and 500/50 - a subtle difference, but an important one).

If I noted those inaccuracies, then just how many more errors are there that are not obvious to me, because I don't have direct knowledge of the facts?

It was reported that this document was a "draft" so perhaps the errors would have been corrected in the final.  But if it was a draft, why wasn't "draft" watermarked on each page, as is standard when drafting investigative reports?

(I spent the early years of my legal career at a law firm doing corporate internal investigations and contributing to reports just like this one, so I have some experience here.)

The report also reads as aggressive advocacy, rather than measured review.  Which raises the question of just what role USADA plays - independent investigator, prosecutor, or adjudicatory body.    The answer may be all three, which leaves me uneasy.  Which role dominates?  Determining the truth?  Or winning their case?

I'm no fan of the NOP, or doping.  But I'm less confident in USADA now than I was before I began to read this report.

Dailies 

Monday: In the morning, yoga and 7 "miles" of pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday
: In the morning, 11 miles including a workout of 3x(1200, 400) in 4:29, 83, 4:27, 86, 4:24 81.  Followed with injury prevention work and 1000 yards recovery swimming. Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday:  In the morning, 7.5 miles easy (8:51) to yoga, yoga, and then another 4.5 miles (8:42), followed by drills and strides.  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday: In the morning, upper body weights/core and 9 "miles" pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday: In the morning, 10.5 miles including a track workout of 3200m, 1600m in 12:24 (6:18/6:06) and 5:54.  Followed with 1000 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Saturday:  In the morning, 9.5 miles very easy (9:00) with drills and strides, followed by light upper body weights plus core and injury prevention work.  Foam rolling in the evening.

Sunday: In the morning, 6 miles very easy (9:11), followed by DIY yoga to open hips.  Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Training log - Week ending 5/21/2017

This week was 61 miles of running,  15 "miles" of pool-running, and 3000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

It's been a while since I've posted a "normal week."  I've been racing a lot, and so it seems that most weeks I've been skipping one or both of the workouts due to pre-race rest or post-race recovery.   The racing's been great, but it's the right time to switch back and spend a few weeks training consistently.

Since I'm not writing about racing, I get to write about other stuff.  Including the new running power meter I started playing with a few weeks ago.  It's a footpod that clips to the laces of one of my shoes. It syncs up with my watch and captures a ton of metrics about my running that I can later view.

What metrics?  Well...stuff like "power" and "form power" and "leg spring stiffness" and "vertical oscillation" and several other fields.  Power is how much work I am doing while running; the other metrics are various ways to assess the efficiency of my running form.

[for an example of the metrics, here's my report from Broad Street a few weeks back.  The power meter metrics are towards the bottom of the page]

Of course, there's no consensus on what the optimal values are for the metrics, or even if there are optimal valies.   I'm honestly not sure how useful the metrics and graphs are, other than being pretty to look at and fun to compare.

From what I can tell, my running is very efficient but not very powerful.  I already knew that. And that knowledge doesn't change anything for me, other than giving me running efficiency bragging rights on an extremely obscure corner of the internet.

[Aside: my hunch is that any success I've had as a masters runner is because my speed comes from efficiency, rather than the ability to generate force.  My reasoning is that efficiency declines at a much slower rate than power as one ages, and so I'm not losing speed as fast as others.  My high efficiency is also probably why I can run passably even when my asthma is flaring.  I can "fake it" much better than someone whose running ability stems from power.  It's also probably why I feel my running benefits greatly from time spent in the gym - because stuff like barbell lunges and step-ups develop power, which is my weakness.]

I've spent a fair amount of my free time on various fora reading about power meters and power and various applications. There is a group of runners who have found religion about training and racing "with power."  And they are working to spread the gospel to the masses.  Via the internet, of course.

These runners assert that power is a better metric for pacing one's run than either heart rate or pace.  Why?  Because heart rate changes can lag several seconds behind effort changes or be affected by heat or hydration.  And pace can be affected by inclines or wind - 6:40 pace uphill into the wind is more work than 6:40 on a clear morning on the track.  In contrast, power changes instantly to match effort and the measurement of power is not affected by heat or hydration.  Power also changes to show that you are doing more work when running uphill than down.

Proper pacing is about expending your effort most effectively. Thus, since power is the best and most accurate measure of effort, it's the best metric to use for pacing a workout or race.

That's the argument.  And it makes sense.  But then everyone gets buried in the details.  They spend hours conducting power tests and then calculating power targets based on the tests, and then debating how the power target for a race should be modified if it's a warm day or one is not fully recovered.

Which makes me realize (again) how few people rely on the true best metric for pacing - perceived effort.

Admittedly, it's tough initially to shed the numbers and just rely on how you feel when you race. Because it's really hard to trust how you feel, and to distinguish between the bullshit that your body will tell you and the truth of your own effort.  But once you learn to pace by feel, it's unquestionably the best measure.  Perceived effort is instantaneous, accurate, and accounts for weather, incline, nutrition, etc.

Additionally, perceived effort avoids the potential self-limitation that comes with other metrics.  What if you've improved very recently?  So that your target pace or power level for a race is no longer the limit of what you are capable of on race day?  Fixating on a goal number on your watch, be it pace or power, can keep you from reaching your potential.  If you run off of feel, you'll run the best race you're capable of that day, rather than talking yourself into a slower time because the numbers didn't look right.

Dailies 

Monday: In the morning, yoga and 6 "miles" of pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday
: In the morning, 12 miles including a workout of 2x800, 1600, 2x800, 2x400 in 2:53, 2:50, 5:50, 2:50, 2:51, 84, 82.  Followed with injury prevention work and 1000 yards recovery swimming. Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday:  In the morning, 8 miles easy (8:53) to yoga, yoga, and then another 4 miles (8:53), followed by drills and strides.  Massage at night.

Thursday: In the morning, upper body weights/core and 9 "miles" pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday: In the morning, 11 miles including a track workout of 3200m, 1600m in 12:33 (6:17/6:16) and 5:55.  Followed with injury prevention work and 1000 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Saturday:  In the morning, 10 miles very easy (8:44) with drills and strides, followed by upper body weights plus core and injury prevention work.  Foam rolling in the evening.

Sunday: In the morning, 16 miles progressive, split as first 5 at 8:59, next 5 at 7:44, last 6 at 6:56.  Followed with injury prevention work and 1000 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Training log - Week ending 5/14/17

This week was 35 miles of running,  28 "miles" of pool-running, and 3000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

This was an "intermission" week - no track workouts, just four days of pool-running, fun stuff like swimming and yoga, and junk food.  This was followed by easy running at the end of the week before returning to "work" on Sunday.

Why?  Well...in the past 10 weeks, I've raced 7 times (one road mile, two 5ks, two 10Ks, a 10 miler, and a half-marathon).  That's a lot.  I've got another 6 weeks to go before the conclusion of my self-defined spring season with another half-marathon, So I eased off  this week to ensure I'm fresh in mid-June.

I could tell I was due for some extra recovery because I didn't hate the idea of downtime.  In fact, this was actually my idea, though my coach signed off on it.   As soon as the idea of a break isn't annoying, I know I need one.  And I also know it worked, because by the fourth day of pool-running and junk food, I was really resisting the urge to go running.  And it took extra willpower not to show up for the Friday workout (in my defense, the weather was perfect).

Another reason to back off this week?  I've been running very well.  As I've learned from both observation and direct experience, those magic periods of PR after PR are also extremely high risk. That's when you get greedy, and try to build just a little bit more.    And that's when you break.  By pulling way back this week, I'm trying to control that temptation, and the near-inevitable result.

As the careful reader will note, I wasn't sedentary.  Rather, I used this week to enjoy stuff that I skip or limit during training.  For example, I did a fairly long swim focusing on different drills - something that I can't fit in during a running training cycle.  I also took yoga classes on the days that I'm normally at the track so that I could experience different instructors.  The result that I was mentally refreshed, more than I would have been had I sat on the couch.

Dailies 

Monday: In the morning, 7 "miles" pool-running. Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday
: In the morning, gentle yoga and 6 "miles" pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday:  In the morning, 6 "miles" pool-running and 2000 yards swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday: In the morning, upper body weights and core and 9 "miles" pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday: In the morning, 7 miles easy to yoga (8:42), yoga, and then 4 miles very easy (8:42) home  followed by drills and strides.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:  10 miles very easy (9:02) plus upper body strengthwork and core.  Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Sunday: In the morning, 14 miles progressive, split as first 4 at 9:03; next 5 at 7:34 (too fast - should have been no faster than 7:45); last 5 at 6:57.  Followed with injury prevention work and 1000 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Training log - Week ending 5/7/17

This week was 38 miles of running,  12 "miles" of pool-running, and 1000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

Broad Street race week.  Which of course was also the week that the buckle on my Garmin 920xt wrist strap broke.  Thursday evening, to be exact.

This resulted in a high level of stress utterly disproportionate to the significance of the issue - I don't check splits when I race (I just use the watch to have the data later), and I have an old 910xt that is still serviceable.  It would be tough running without the ability to upload the workout to Garmin Connect, or to digitally confirm my recovery.  But still, like Gloria Gaynor, I would survive.  Because, like Patty Smith, I am a warrior.

Or maybe not.  Reluctant to rely on musically inspired fortitude, I turned instead to crude commerce.  I ordered a replacement 920XT strap to be delivered Friday night.  Then, I had a better idea.  There's a jeweler two blocks from my house, and sure enough they had a watch repair guy on site.  He repaired my Garmin strap buckle for $3 - significantly cheaper than the replacement strap (which arrived a day late anyway, after I left for Philly). So that's a lesson learned for the future.

***

I normally do a pick-up mile two days before I race - my coach counsels 10K pace, though I've been modifying that to 10 mile/half marathon pace (I'm sure he doesn't mind).  So...I headed out to do my mile pick-up on Friday morning, using a downhill route (the W&OD trail) into a headwind.  Cuz that would mimic the predicted weather for Broad Street.   There was a downpour as well, which fortunately was not predicted for Broad Street.

I ended up running the pick-up mile way too fast, at 6:04, which is not half-marathon pace or 10 mile pace or even 10K pace for me, even if downhill  (it didn't feel like it took too much out of me either).  Whoops.

So clearly one of two things was true.  Either I had just irretrievably effed up my race, or I was set up for a PR.  (because there is no middle ground to race jitters.)

Since there was nothing to be gained from assuming the first option, I chose to believe in the second.  And fortunately, I was right.  I need to not do that again, though.

Dailies 

Monday: In the morning, yoga and 6 "miles" pool-running. Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday
: In the morning, 11 miles, including a 3 mile warm-up (8:41); 2x400; 4x800; 2x400 in 90, 91, 2:56, 2:57, 2:56, 2:54, 81, 78; 3 mile cooldown (9:19).  Followed with injury prevention work and 1000 yards recovery swimming.  Massage at night.

Wednesday:  In the morning, 7 miles very easy (8:58) plus drills and strides and DIY yoga.  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday: In the morning, upper body weights and core and 6 "miles" pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday: In the morning, 7 miles, most easy (9:02) but with a mile at 6:04 pace.  Foam rolling and an ice bath at night.

Saturday:  Nothing aerobic.  Just travel to Philly, DIY yoga to open hips, and foam rolling.

Sunday: In the morning, 3 mile warm-up, and then a 10 mile race in 63:55.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Race Report: Broad Street 10 Miler, May 7, 2017

I ran the Broad Street 10 Miler today, finishing in a time of 1:03:55, which was good enough for 4th Masters Female, and also a significant PR.  I'm pretty happy.

I had high hopes for a PR going into this race - in March I had run a half-marathon at my 10 mile PR pace - a sure indication that I could PR the ten miler on a good day and course.  And many of my training partners had run 63-64 minutes at Cherry Blossom a few weeks back, making me think that a time in that range was possible for me as well.

I think Broad Street (point-to-point, net downhill, and yes, I'm counting it as a PR) is a faster course than Cherry Blossom if all other things (i.e. weather) are equal.  However, historically Broad Street has been a significantly warmer race than Cherry Blossom (last year being a notable exception), limiting any benefit from the course.

The good news was that we were getting Cherry Blossom-like temperatures for Broad Street this year (51 at the start and dry).  The bad news was that the wind was from the south, meaning a headwind for 10 miles.

I was particularly worried about the wind, as I was planning to start in the first "elite/seeded" corral. I had "seeded" status for this race, meaning that I had a choice between starting in the very front or starting with the corral associated with my projected finishing time.  Last year I had started at the front, and it had been a miserable experience.  Basically 10 miles of being passed by faster people, while running into a headwind.  I wasn't anxious to repeat that experience.

On the other hand, I knew I was in far better shape this year then last, and that I had a shot at a masters award, including prize money.  However, masters awards were awarded based on gun time, meaning that I had to start at the front if I wanted to contend.  What to do?  Start at the front to target the masters award?  Or start further back where I'd have others to block the headwind, to maximize my chances of PRing?

Fortunately, as it turned out, I didn't have to make that choice.  Instead of giving the elite/seeded corral a head start, this year the first corral behind the elite/seeded corral started with us.  This was huge, as two of my teammates/training partners were in that corral, giving me the option of running with them.  So woo.

***

Race day dawned, and I left my hotel room at 6:05 to get to the subway stop at 6:15 to get to the start for the 8:00 am race.  This wasn't overkill - Broad Street is huge, and though it doesn't take long to get from Center City to the race start area, if you wait too long, it's impossible to board the subway due to the packed cars.  As it turned out, 6:15 am was perfect.

Once there, I did my standard warm-up of ~3 miles including some uptempo running, plus drills, strides, and multiple bathroom breaks.   Then into my corral at 7:40, which was when the corrals were supposed to close.  Though this race isn't quite as strict as Chicago, it's still not a race that you can count on ducking into your corral at the last minute.

I noted two good things - 1) the headwind was not as awful as forecast, and was also intermittent rather than constant; 2) the corrals were't being enforced this year.  While this would normally annoy me, this year I was grateful - it meant that I had plenty of people to work with/potentially use as windblocks.  Rachel and Catherine ended up right next to me, which was awesome.  Well, until Rachel helpfully reminded me that I needed to be starting at the line, not a few rows back.

The gun went off, and everyone went out super fast, as they always do in this race (once again - fast courses are not freebies - you can't do stupid stuff and not pay for it).  Rachel, Catherine and I quickly grouped together, and ran the first mile patiently, letting the masses stream around us.

I hung on to the two of them for the first mile, but then they began to pick up a bit of speed.  It felt a bit too hard for me this early in the race, so I reluctantly dropped back.  About this time, the wind started gusting.  Fortunately, there was a pack of large guys just to my right, so I pulled up slightly and ducked in behind them.

Over the next few miles, the headwind gusted and then subsided.  I remembered the lesson I had learned at Shamrock about being patient and biding my time during a headwind, and I applied it here - when the wind calmed, I'd move out to the side and build pace, an when it picked up again, I'd find a pack of tall guys and tuck in, even if I had to slow down slightly to do so.  Better to bank energy now that I could use at the end.

Amusingly, the pack that I spent the most time with featured a big guy in a "November Project" t-shirt.  I'm not a huge fan of any training program that encourages people to go hard everyday.  But my practicality outweighs my pride, so I tucked in behind him and an even bigger buddy, grateful that the November Project apparently appeals to former football players who can run a decently fast 10 miler.

I also focused on my form.  We've had quite a few windy workouts this spring, giving me a chance to practice dealing with it.  When there's a headwind, I have a habit of hunching and ducking, trying to minumize the wind surface.  But I've noted that I run much faster when I resist this tendency and instead try to run tall.   It's counter-intuitive in much the same way that starting slow is.  But it works.

So, running tall and "hopscotching" (my term for jumping from wind block to wind block).  I made my way down Broad Street.  I like to take a gel during 10 mile races, so I took part of a cherry lime rocktane at around mile 6.  It disagreed with me for some reason, and for a few minutes I worried that I might have to take a quick pit stop.  Fortunately, my stomach settled.

I know Broad Street, and so once I finished the slight uphill just after mile 8, I started to build, abandoning my windblocks.  Around mile 9.5, there's a downhill, and I used that to pick up even more pace.  Then I saw the Navy Yard gate that indicated a quarter-mile to go, and I half-closed my eyes and pretended I was back on the track, hammering a 400.  As I approached the finish line I was estatic to see it counting down 1:03:4x.  A major PR, and I was hopeful that would be good enough for a masters award also.

***
Splits were
Mile 1: 6:28
Mile 2: 6:26
Mile 3: 6:22
Mile 4: 6:27
Mile 5: 6:24
Mile 6: 6:24
Mile 7: 6:24
Mile 8-9: 12:49 (6:24-6:25 pace)
Mile 10: 6:11

Amusingly, despite my hopscotching, my splits were shockingly even.  I also ran a slight negative split, passing a lot of people in the last 2 miles.  Several of the people that I passed late in the race were people I remember pulling ahead earlier, when I was tucked in one of "my" packs.  I think a lot of people expended way too much effort running solo and trying to hit splits, and paid for it in the last few miles.

Other notes:


  • Stuck with the pre-race food routine that has worked for me: rice-heavy Chipotle for lunch, very light dinner with some unsweetened UCAN as a drink.  I'm not sure you need to carb-load for a 10 miler, but I don't think it hurt to go carb-heavy the day before.  Breakfast was my normal pre-run.  I also brought a berry stroopwafel with me to the start, to nibble on to bridge the gap between breakfast and race start.
  • Carried a handheld water bottle for the first two miles before tossing it.  I'm sure this also gets some eyerolls, but I don't care.  It works for me.
  • As I noted above, I ended up 4th masters female.  Which meant I got to hangout in the elite tent, participate in the awards ceremony, and also fill out "paperwork" for the cash award (name, address, citizenship, USATF #, Social Security number).  I'm a dork, and I was ridiculously happy to be filling out paperwork.
  • Temperature 52, DP 40 for the race.  Really great weather.  Probably the best it's ever been in all the time I've run this race.
  • I've had a hilarious history at races outside of DC - until this year, I had PR'd every race that I had run in Richmond or Virginia Beach, and had never had a good race in Philadelphia.  This year, I upended the cycle - horrible race in Richmond, and then finally a good race in Philly.  Woo.
  • Pollen seemed notably high, but again (as it has been since starting on the Xolair), I had little issue with it.  I did puff my rescue inhaler pre-race just to be careful, but I might have been able to get away with out it.  Yay Xolair.
  • Mom and Dad really like these pictures, so I'm posting them here.  My blog, my rules.




Thursday, May 4, 2017

Is Pike's Peek legit?

The Pike's Peek 10K in Rockville Maryland has been historically mocked on Letsrun.com, that bastion of intellectual exchange (full disclosure - I participate on that forum).  Why?  Because of the net downhill.

In the past, I agreed.  Several years ago, I ran this race and bested by a full minute my then 10K PR, which I had set a month earlier in good weather on a fast course (39:16 versus 40:18).  And that was despite blowing up badly in the final stretch and even tripping right before the finish.  A year later, I returned to run Pike's Peek as my rustbuster, right after a break.  And I ran 39:15.  A time utterly inconsistent with any other time I had ever run at any distance.

Yup - the course was definitely assisted.  I noted the time for kicks, with an asterisk, but didn't claim it as a PR.

But then, a few years ago, the course was rerouted slightly.  While most of the course stayed the same, the start and finish were each moved back a quarter mile, adding a solid hill to the start and removing the sharp drop at the end.

This changed the total drop of the course, but it still had a drop.  And so, I reasoned, it still wasn't a course one could count as a PR.  (of course, all personal records are personal, so technically anyone can count anything they want....)

But now, I'm engaging in the pixel equivalent of eating my words.

In my opinion, the new Pike's Peek 10K course - the course that's been used since 2015 - is legit. This conclusion is based on both my own experience running the race this year, and some number crunching I've done below.

That analysis is below.  But first, I want to acknowledge the obvious.  This entire blog post is ridiculous.  Utterly ridiculous.

That being said, I'm probably not the only person interested in this topic, as over-analytical as it is.   So keep reading if you want - it's a guilty pleasure type thing.  Nobody has to know.  Promise.

***

In evaluating the legitimacy of the current Pikes' Peek course for PR purposes, I considered two points: how the net elevation drop compares to other races, and how runners performed at Pike's Peek this year, as compared to what their recent performances would predict for 10K.

Elevation drop

USATF maintains a database of certified courses on its website, searchable by location, distance, name, and other variables.  Each course certification includes a statement as to the net drop of the course, if any, calculated in meters per kilometer.
All information taken from
the USATF website, except for
the Main Street Mile,
which I calculated myself


How do various races measure up?  I've posted a selection to the right.

To be record eligible for USATF purposes, a course must have a net drop of less than 1.0 m/km and a separation between start and finish lines of 50% or less of the total distance of the course.   So...you're not setting a US record on point-to-point courses like Grandma's Marathon or Boston, regardless of net drop.

However, it is possible to qualify for the Olympic Marathon Trials on a course that is point-to-point, as long at the net drop is no more than 3.25 meters per kilometer.    My hunch is that the 3.25 is not random, but was chosen specifically to include the Boston Marathon (3.23 m/km drop) as a qualifier.

Looking at my chart to the right, it's interesting to see how the net drops of the old and new Pike's Peek courses compare to Boston, as well as some other popular courses.  The old Pike's Peek is well above the 3.25 line, while the new course is well below.    Heck, the new Pike's Peek has less than half the net drop of the previous version.

It's also worth noting that the new Pike's Peek course has the same net drop as the Big Sur International Marathon.  Big Sur is a notoriously slow and difficult course - evidence that a net drop doesn't necessarily imply an assisted course.

So...based on net drop alone, there's some basis for considering a Pike's Peek PR (try saying that 5 times fast) legit.  Put another way, there's a solid argument against ruling it out from PR contention based on net drop.  But that's only part of the analysis.

Performance Comparison

I've found the McMillan Guide to be pretty good at predicting equivalent performances for me.  So when I ran 1:26:34 at Shamrock (a legitimate, USATF record eligible course), I entered the time into McMillan, and got a predicted 10K time of 38:50.  I was pretty close, but ever so slightly slower, with my Pike's Peek time (38:56).

So...I got curious, and decided to run a similar comparison for a few other runners.   I selected a group of runners who had run both Cherry Blossom 10 Miler 2017 and Pike's Peek, so I could compare performances between the two races.  Why did I pick Cherry Blossom as my baseline?  It's a USATF record eligible course with no net drop and no separation - very fast, but undeniably fair.  This year, Cherry Blossom also had nearly identical weather to Pike's Peek, and the two races were also separated by less than a month, reducing the possibility of profound fitness gains between the two.

 I limited my sample to people I knew, whom I understood to have had tapered and run both races all out, with no confounding factors (illness, running Boston in the gap between Cherry Blossom and Pike's Peek, etc).

With those criteria, I ended up with a sample of 8 runners.  Certainly not a large sample that would yield statistically sound conclusions, but still interesting.  Below are my results.

A comparison of 10K times, as predicted by performance at Cherry Blossom 2017,
versus performance at Pike's Peek 2017.
I also noted myself, based on my predicted time from Shamrock,
though I didn't include myself in the analysis.
What is striking is that a slight majority - 5 of 8 - ran slower at Pike's Peek than predicted by their Cherry Blossom performance.  Some ran significantly slower.  Of course, others ran significantly faster than predicted.

On average, these 8 runners ran 4.25 seconds SLOWER at Pike's Peek than one would have predicted, based on their Cherry Blossom times.

Of course, this is (again) a small sample size.  And I'll note for the statistics geeks that the standard deviation here is 26 seconds and change, making that "slower-by-4.25 seconds" claim essentially meaningless, from a statistical POV.  I haven't proven that Pike's Peek is equal to or slower than the legit Cherry Blossom course (and thus legit-by-insinuation).

But, it is interesting to look at.  And it's frankly stronger evidence than my previous dismissal of the old course based on the single data point of my own experience.

***

So based on the two points above (plus the fact that I broke 39 and really want to call it a PR), I'm inclined to claim the current Pike's Peek course as legit.    No eyerolling here, no asterisk.

Again, all PRs are by definition personal.  But, personally, I'm a numbers geek.  And what I've written above is what has convinced me, personally.