Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Random thoughts about running.

I feel the need to generate blog content.  Hence, another installment of (booming voice) random thoughts about running.
  • Is it really a "cool-down" when it's hot outside? On Saturday, my friend referred to our post-race jog as a "warm-down" - much more appropriate, IMHO.
  • People regularly often state that their Garmins read long at the end of the race because they "didn't run the tangents."  To the right is a Garmin upload from a recent race - the red line is what my Garmin reports I ran; the pink line is my addition, indicating the path I actually took.  As you can see, the Garmin believes that I ran through three buildings during my race.  Do you really think a Garmin is accurate enough to tell which side of the street you ran on?
  • There's a whole range of possible gel flavors not currently offered by any company.  Birthday Cake!  Coconut!  Irish Creme!
  • There's also quite a few potential gel flavors that would NOT work well.  Guacamole, cheeseburger, and tuna come to mind.
  • I'm still undecided on Pepto Bismol as a potential gel flavor.
  • Confession: I really didn't like "Spirit of the Marathon" -- too many different runners being followed, too much "woo marathon."  It could have been a fantastic documentary if they had just focused on Daniel Njenga.
  • Dear Competitor Group.  I'd actually pay money to run a race that did NOT feature your version of "rock bands."
  • Yup.  Nearly 2 pounds at the hot bar. 
    The bastard love child of Jeff Galloway and Suze Orman strongly advises you NOT to go shopping at Whole Foods immediately after your long run.  And if you do engage in such, NOT to hit the hot foods bar.  (The bastard love child of Jeff Galloway and Suze Orman also laments cruel fate at being given such parents as s/he run-walks to the bank offering the best rate on 90 day CDs).
  • Large races are invariably accompanied by spectators compelled to scream "you're almost there" at seemingly random (but NOT "almost there") points on course.  Fail.  Here's a handy reference guide for the zone (specific to each distance) where it is appropriate to claim that the finish is near.
    • Distance: 10K and further - in the last .2 of the course.
    • Distance: 5K-10K - in the last .1 of the course.
    • Distance: shorter than 5K - never.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Training log - Week ending 9/23/12

This week was 70 miles of “real running” and 19 “miles” pool running, plus 1000 yards of swimming breathing drills -- training log is here.  

Unplanned slight cutback week.  I felt lousy, and it just didn’t make sense to force my normal routine – when you’re in a hole, stop digging.  So I cut back some, and tried to get some extra rest any chance I could get.   I don’t feel horrible/can’tdragmyselfouttabed, just “NQR” as is sometimes said with horses – “not quite right.”  Bitchwhinemoanwashrinserepeat.

Though I felt off, I still raced a 10K on Saturday, just for the hell of it, and was glad I did.  Because I raced on Saturday, we changed my Sunday run from the scheduled 16 with 4x2 miles at marathon pace to just “16+ miles at easy pace.”  (This after a proposed 20 miler that I uncharacteristically nixed.  I’m usually up for a 20 miler whenever it’s an option, but I just didn’t feel up to it).  As it turns out, after 16.5 miles at easy pace I was feeling a bit better on a gorgeous day, so I added a few more miles for the heckuvit.  Perfect weather and good running friends do a lot for the mind and the body.

As of Monday, I’m still feeling off, but better than last week, so hopefully whatever this funk is is finally passing.


Monday:   In the morning, 60 minutes of easy pool-running for “6 miles”.  2 easy miles (8:20 pace) and foam rolling at night.

Tuesday:  In the morning, 10.5 miles including a pyramid track workout of 400, 800, 1200, 1200, 800, 400 – splits of 85, 2:51, 4:28, 4:24, 2:50, 79.  1200s were tough.  Followed with injury prevention work and 15 minutes of easy pool-running.  4 easy miles (8:02 pace) at midday and foam rolling at night.

Wednesday:   10.5 miles easy (7:58 pace) plus upper body strengthwork and injury prevention work.  Yoga and foam rolling at night.

Thursday:   In the morning, 65 minutes of easy pool-running for “6.5 miles.”   Foam rolling in the afternoon, and then 7 miles, including a mile pick-up at 6:17 pace.

Friday:  In the morning, 1000 yards of swimming breathing drills and 30 minutes of easy pool-running for “3 miles.”  Followed with injury prevention work.  4 easy miles (8:02 pace) plus foam-rolling in the afternoon.

Saturday:   In the morning, 12.5 miles, including 3.25 mile warm-up, 10K race in 39:42, and 3 mile cool-down.  In the afternoon, some light weight training and injury prevention work, plus foam-rolling and an ice bath.   

Sunday:   In the morning, 19.5 miles as a very easy slight progression – 8:08 pace overall, split as 8:34 pace for first 10.5 miles, 7:54 for next 6.5 miles, and then 7:05 for last 2.5.  Followed with injury prevention work and 20 minutes of shakeout pool-running.  Yoga and foam rolling at night.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Race report: Clarendon Day 10K, September 22, 2012

I ran the “Clarendon Day 10K” today, finishing in a time of 39:42.  The time is what it is, but I’m satisfied with the race – I did what I came to do.

This race was a late addition to my fall racing plans, picked after I dropped out of a race the week before.   One holdover from my horse-riding days is the belief that you have to “get back on the horse” as soon as possible after a fall – I think it’s a concept that transfers well to running.  So, with my coach’s OK, I looked for a race this weekend.

There weren’t many, and most of them were 5Ks – I wanted a 10K if possible, simply because it’d be a longer distance and more similar to the problematic race from the week before.   But this was a 10K, and local, and this weekend, and that was good enough for me.

Normally, I would have shied away from this race – it’s a net downhill course, with the first two miles being a fairly steep downhill – the type that sometimes aggravates some hip issues.  And the race didn’t start until 9:00 am, which interfered with my normal uber-packed Saturday schedule (namely, run/take care of horse/grocery shop/catch up on work/go to gym/foam roll/see boyfriend).  But, I needed to run a race, and this was it.

So, I registered and showed up.    Super early, in fact.  9:00 am just seemed so late that it felt odd not to be leaving my home, so I started my warm-up jog from Brian’s place super early (around 7:50).  Jogged there, grabbed my number, and then had some time to chill out and wish good luck to some friends who were racing the 5K, which started at 8:25.  To be honest, jumping in the 5K was really tempting.    It’d mean that I was done sooner and could get on with my day faster.  And, the weather was warming up as the morning progressed.  But, I’d come to do the 10K, and I’d do the 10K.

So, watched the 5K racers off, then jogged around some more, did some drills and strides, and lined up.  And we started.

The first two miles were, as predicted, a downhill and very fast.  And everyone went out extremely fast.  I deliberately hit the brakes pretty hard – taking extra time to relax, and even to wave to friends on the side as a way to keep myself relaxed (got chastised by them for that, but it worked for me).   I was being passed on all sides by crowds, but I just chilled, let it happen, and reminded myself that the key thing was where I was at the end of the race, not at the beginning.

And then we hit the flat part of the course – an out and back on Route 110 to the Pentagon, and the tenor of the race changed.  It was a warm morning, with the sun shining brightly, and the wind also gusting, and all those factors hit simultaneously.  It got a bit tough out there.  And as runners started to suffer the consequences of the superfast start, it got a bit lonely also.  I kept looking for other runners to “borrow” as windblocks, but everyone kept slowing up it seemed.  So I just ran solo for the most part.

Which was hard, which made it very good.  It was warm, it was windy, it was lonely, and I felt lousy.  It was an excellent exercise in keeping my running focus and running within myself.  And the fact that I did just that during this race was exactly the confidence boost that I wanted, time be damned.  It felt good to power across the finish line, and even to feel like I had a bit left in the tank.

Splits ended up being:
Mile 1: 6:06
Miles 2-3: 12:22 (6:11 pace)
Mile 4: 6:40 (included hairpin turn)
Mile 5-6: 13:12 (6:36 pace)
Last bit: 81 seconds (6:26 pace)

This looks like a positive split, but by effort this was a strong negative split. The second part of the race was completely different from the first.  And I ran both parts well.

Other notes:

  • I’ve been feeling lousy off and on this week, and felt pretty crappy during this race.  But, I needed to get back in a race and have a positive experience with a strong finish.  I figured I could do that here, I’d just be slow.  And I did.
  • Decently hot day: Temp of 68, DP 66, plus bright sunshine.  And gusts of wind all over – some of the mile markers blew over.
  • Ended up being 19th overall, and 7th female (2nd in age group of 30-39).
  • I know that route 110 is essentially flat, but it didn’t feel flat during this race – that portion of the race felt like a series of hills.  Not quite sure why that is – things just feel different at speed, I guess. 
  • I was really surprised by how many runners during this race followed the curve of the road, rather than focusing on a point far ahead and running straight to that.  My coach told us last week to be mindful of that when running the Philly Half, and it was advice that applied well here.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Training log - Week ending 9/16/12

This week was 42 miles of “real running” and 9 “miles” pool running, plus 3500 yards of swimming breathing drills -- training log is here. 

Pretty reduced week, as I tapered for a half-marathon on Sunday.  The race ended up not going very well.  In the words of Joan Benoit - “my worst races have been my greatest teachers.”  Pick up, move on.  Sulked until noon on Monday, and now I’m done and picking out my next race.  I want vengeance.


Monday:   In the morning, 30 minutes of easy pool-running for “3 miles” and 1000 yards of swimming breathing drills, followed by some injury prevention work.  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday:  In the morning, 10.5 miles including a track workout of 6x1200 – splits of 4:34, 4:22, 4:22, 4:22, 4:17, 4:14.  Followed with injury prevention work and 20 minutes of easy pool-running.  Floor barre and foam rolling at night.

Wednesday:   13 miles very easy (8:30 pace).  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday:   In the morning, 1500 yards of swimming breathing drills and 30 minutes of easy pool-running for “3 miles.”   Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  In the morning, 7 miles, including a mile pick-up at 6:39 pace – also did drills and strides.  Followed with injury prevention work.  Pilates and foam-rolling in the afternoon.

Saturday:   In the morning, 1000 yards of swimming breathing drills and 10 minutes easy pool-running.   Also drove to Philly.  Foam-rolling at night.

Sunday:   In the morning, 1.5 mile warm-up jog, then 7.5 miles at what ended up averaging to 6:50 pace (dropped out of my half-marathon).  Later, after giving up on the sag wagon ever showing up, a very easy 2.5 miles back to start line.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Race report: RNR Philadelpia Half-Marathon, September 16, 2012

I ran the Rock and Roll Philadelphia Half-Marathon today, dropping out at about 7.5 miles.    I'm pretty disappointed, as all the places were set for a great race.  But, running does have its lows and its highs, and frustrations are part of the game.  I'll lick my wounds, and move on.

Overall, I was looking forward to this weekend.  Work has been pretty stressful recently, and so I had put in for vacation on Friday and also advised that I'd be completely out of pocket over the weekend.  It was a nice change and a chance for a break. 

Brian and I drove up to Philly on Saturday, in a trip that was a bit of a comedy of errors, between my continually making the worst judgment calls possible on which direction to go, our lunch restaurant bringing Brian the wrong meal, and our hotel putting us in the wrong room.  But, it all worked out, and we managed to join my team for a nice dinner on Saturday.

Race morning dawned with perfect weather - 62 degrees and low dewpoint.  I felt very good during my jog over to the race start, and also during my drills and strides.  Relaxed and confident.  I loaded myself into the corral and went "zen", knowing that all I had to do was to run a relaxed race.  Which I did, until stuff fell apart.

Splits for the first 4 miles were:
Mile 1: 6:54
Mile 2: 6:39
Mile 3-4: 6:34 pace (13:08).

Then, sometime during the fifth mile, my breathing started to get strained and my chest started feeling really tight.  OK then, I'd just back off a bit to what felt comfortable, and re-establish.

But nothing felt comfortable.  And my legs started feeling weaker and my vision narrowed, and the pressure on my chest just got firmer. I walked a few steps at one point, and took some deep breaths, but it didn't seem to help at all.   I kept working forward, thinking positive thoughts and rationalizing that I was just having a bad patch and things would get better, but everything just felt heavier and heavier.   Something just felt very wrong.  I walked some more just past the 7 mile marker, but couldn't seem to catch my breath and felt really wobbly.  So I dragged myself to the next place where I saw race officials, and dropped out.

Splits were:

Mile 5: 6:45
Mile 6: 6:44
Mile 7: 6:54
Last .43 (to band station) - 3:36 (8:22 pace)

Then sat down for about 30 minutes, waiting for one of the sag wagons to pick me up and take me to the finish.  It never showed, so I ended up jogging back to the start.


I'm honestly still not sure what happened, and I'm pretty frustrated.  I really cut back my mileage and also my intensity this week, and made sure to eat well and stay hydrated.  Work's been pretty stressful, but I've run great races before when I was under much more stress.  The chest tightness and shortness of breath felt like asthma, but I used my inhaler pre-race, and I'm also not coughing like I normally do.  So, I just need to rest and recover, and talk with my coach and also my primary care doctor to see what each of them thinks. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Training log - Week ending 9/9/12

This week was 79.5 miles of “real running” and 16 “miles” pool running, plus 1500 yards of swimming breathing drills -- training log is here.

A high week in terms of mileage, but low in terms of intensity.  I developed a bit of a sinus infection at the start of the week.  I was never horribly sick, but I wanted to be sure I didn’t get horribly sick.  My concerns about getting sick were compounded by the fact that work’s also been a bit crazy, which adds to the overall stress on my system.  I guess I’ve seen this story again and again – training’s going well, and then you start feeling sick or develop a niggle, at the same time that life becomes increasingly stressful and you’re running short on rest.  So…you insist on doing your workouts as planned anyway, and next thing you know, you really are majorly sick (or injured or overtrained).   And you’ve set yourself back.

I decided that wasn’t going to happen to me.  So I played it safe by skipping Tuesday’s track workout in lieu of easy mileage (doing everything like I would have done on Tuesday, except the workout), and also kept Friday’s tempo very conservative.  And by Sunday my sinuses were fine again, just in time for some great weather to roll through.  I actually only meant to run 18 on Sunday, but screwed up my run math and went too far out on the trail.  Since the run was scheduled as 18-20, I'm hoping that 19.5 miles wasn't the biggest sin in the world.

This coming week’s a pretty big cut-back, as I’m racing a half-marathon next Sunday.  Work’s looking like it will continue to be very heavy this week, so I’m going to have to make an extra effort to prioritize rest to the extent I can.


Monday:   In the morning, 65 minutes of easy pool-running for “6.5 miles.”  3.5 easy miles (8:16 pace) at night, followed by foam rolling.

Tuesday:  In the morning, 11.5 miles easy (7:59 pace – skipping my track workout).  Followed with injury prevention work and 15 minutes of easy pool-running.  2.5 miles very easy (8:20) at night, followed by floor barre and foam rolling.

Wednesday:   11.5 miles very easy (8:31), followed by a yoga class.  Later did another 4.5 miles easy (7:52).  Also foam rolling at night.

Thursday:   In the morning, injury prevention/strengthwork , followed by 1500 yards of swimming breathing drills and 30 minutes of easy pool-running for “3 miles.”   2.5 very easy miles (8:32 pace) at night, followed by foam rolling.

Friday:  In the morning, 14 miles, including a careful 4 mile tempo in 25:58, split as 6:42, 6:29, 6:26, 6:21.  6:32 pace overall.  Followed with injury prevention work and 20 minutes recovery pool-running.  Pilates and foam-rolling in the afternoon.

Saturday:   In the morning, 9.5 miles easy (8:10 pace).   Upper body strength work plus injury prevention stuff and foam-rolling in the afternoon.

Sunday:   In the morning, a progressive long run of 19.5 miles, split as first 6.5 at 8:02 pace; next 6.5 at 7:12, last 6.5 at 6:39 pace (a bit deceptive, as second half of run was downhill with a tailwind).   Followed with 30 minutes of shakeout pool-running.  Restorative yoga and foam rolling at night.