Sunday, June 30, 2013

Race report: PVTC Track Mile, June 30, 2013

I ran the mile today at the PVTC meet, finishing in 5:39.  Yup, another mile. 

This one was frankly disappointing.  Got there, warmed up like my usual, and then waited for the mile to start.  Just like every other time, there was the bit of debate about which heat to jump in.  They announced the final split as 5:25, and based on that, I decided to go with the second heat, which had the added benefit of several teammates (all three named Jessica, amusingly) that would start the race around the same pace as myself.

So the gun went off, and I tucked into the pack of Jessicas and hung out there for a while (as I recall, around 2 laps).  Then it seemed like the pack was starting to fade a bit, and so I swung wide and started what felt like a steady push towards the finish.  Except in retrospect, looking at the splits from my Garmin, it looks like I just hit steady 84s and 85s for the whole race.  Like a workout.

I had every opportunity to pick it up.  I had people to chase, and one of the Jessicas went with me and then accelerated hard in the last lap.  I had all the will in the world to go with her, and pumped my arms and lifted my knees, but I just didn't have that extra gear. 

Again, frustrating.  I raced like this once before, in my first mile this summer, but I just attributed to not having raced many miles and slacking on drills.  I've been pretty good about doing my drills, adding box jumps, etc, but still couldn't find that gear.

Annoying.  Maybe that's just the mile, and why people have such a love/hate relationship with it.  Who knows.  But bad races are frustrating, even when you remind yourself that you're NOT trying to run fast right now, but just to work on different things in your racing.  The goal is to race well in the late fall - October and beyond.  But it'd be nice to be a bit more consistent right now.  Especially since I've been trying to work on explosiveness and power.

At least I didn't go out too fast again, so corrected that.  And now I'm a bit angry, and that does good things for my running generally.  So we'll see what the next race brings.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Training log - Week ending 6/23/13

This week was 72 miles of “real running” plus 14 “miles” pool running -- training log is here.  

More working on slowing down this week.  My coach wrote several weeks back:

"I realize that it is counterintuitive to think that training slower will make you faster on race day, but it is true that most distance runners consistently overtrain which leaves them unable to perform at their best on race day."   

Consistent with this point, I've noted that the best runners in my training group seem to run their workouts slower relative to their race performances then I do. Plus, my best racing has come when I've made an effort to back off of the workouts.  I've noted a consistent pattern in my running - when I train very hard in my workouts, I see advances for a few weeks, maybe a PR or two, and then plateau.  When I back off, to the point where I get insecure and feel I didn't work hard enough in my workouts, I see steady continuous gains.

All of that adds up to one clear conclusion - discipline myself and back off now to run faster in the future.  Much easier said than done, but that's what I'm working on.  Plus, I definitely don't want to be running my best races now.  That's what the fall is for.

In other news, a bit of a bummer this week.  I got formally diagnosed with osteoporosis in my spine.  (t-score of 2.7, for those of you know the numbers).  Not a big surprise - this has been where my bone density has been trending for the past 10 years (I get a DEXA scan every 18 months).  But still unfortunate.  I've been trying to combat with consistent upper body and core strengthwork, but obviously it didn't stop it. 

What does this mean for my running?  Honestly, not much.  Running is one of the best things I can do for my bones - it would be really stupid to cut back the mileage.  And my bone density in my hips and femoral neck is acceptable and consistently improving (which also indicates that I'm doing the right thing nutritionally).   If I was still riding, I'd have to give some consideration as to whether to dial back or exercise more discretion in the beasties I got on.  But that's not the case.

My asthma inhaler does include a corticosteroid, which can negatively affect bone density.  But, my 3-4 puffs a week are substantially less than the dosage associated with significant bone loss.  And there's also the point that I really need my inhaler in order to run hard, especially when it's humid or high pollen.  My doctors are agreed that I need to stay on the inhaler, but just be mindful of only using it for workouts and races. 

So, basically I'm staying consistent with my running, my inhaler, my calcium/Vit. D. intake, and my strengthwork.  The two changes I'm making are 1) implementing more back raises and other exercises that elongate the spine, and 2) avoiding spinal flexion (no more plow pose or crunches).  No Fosamax or Boniva for now - we'll take another scan in a year and determine then if I need to go on the meds.


In the morning, 35 minutes of easy pool-running for “3.5 miles," plus some upper body strengthwork.  3 miles easy (8:13) plus drills and strides, and then foam rolling at night.

In the morning, 11.5 miles, including 6 hill repeats - nonstop circuit of up a hill for about 2 minutes, a 90 second easy jog, a stride, and then some more easy jogging to the bottom (whole circuit takes ~5 minutes) We averaged 7:06 pace for the full 6 repeat circuit (just over 4 miles).  Followed with injury prevention work and 20 minutes of shakeout pool-running.  Foamrolling at night.

:   In the morning, 10.5 miles (8:11 pace), followed by yoga.  Another 3.5 miles (8:20) plus drills and foam rolling at night.

In the morning, 35 minutes of easy pool-running for “3.5 miles," followed by some injury prevention work and weights.  3.5 miles (8:22) plus drills in the evening, followed by foam rolling.

In the morning, 13.5 miles, including a interval workout of 3200m at tempo pace, and then 4x800.  Ran 12:39 (6:31/6:08) and then 2:53, 2:53, 2:52, 2:48.  Followed with injury prevention work and 20 minutes of pool-running   Foam rolling at night.

In the morning, 9 miles easy (8:04 pace) plus drills and strides.  Did another 4 (8:07 pace) later plus weights, injury prevention work, and foam rolling in the afternoon.

In the morning, 13.5 miles as a moderate progression (8:33 for first 2.5 miles, 7:44 for next 8, 7:00 for final 2.5), followed by injury prevention work and then 20 minutes shakeout pool-running.  Yoga and foam rolling at night.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Training log - Week ending 6/16/13

This week was 46.5 miles of “real running” plus 15 “miles” pool running and 1000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.  

OK week for the most part, though I was pretty disappointed in my race on Saturday.  But it taught me a good lesson.  Once again, I've been falling into an old bad habit of starting out my races and runs too aggressively.  Two workouts in a row, I've run the last repetition on fumes; those workouts, plus Saturday's race, indicate a trend that I need to nip in the bud.  It's not so much trying to run my workouts and runs slower overall, but rather a matter of starting them slow - slower than it feels like I need to.  So I can finish strong.

I'm not too worried, though.  The best time to break bad habits is right when you feel them starting.  The good thing about falling off of the wagon is that you can always just climb back on.


In the morning, 50 minutes of easy pool-running for “5 miles," plus some upper body strengthwork.  Foam rolling at night.

In the morning, 11.5 miles, including an interval workout of 400, 600, 800, 2x1000, 800, 600, 400 (ran 87, 2:09, 2:51, 3:37, 3:37, 2:54, 2:05, and 84).  Followed with injury prevention work and 20 minutes of shakeout pool-running.  Foamrolling at night.

:   In the morning, 10 miles very easy (8:27 pace), followed by yoga.  Got a massage at night.

In the morning, 25 minutes of easy pool-running for “2.5 miles," followed by some injury prevention work.  7.5 miles in the evening including a 1 mile pick-up at 6:10, plus drills, followed by foam rolling.

In the morning, 1000 yards of swimming breathing drills.   Foam rolling at night.

In the morning, 3 mile warm-up and then 5K race in 19:35.  35 minutes cooldown pool-running in the afternoon..

In the morning, 11 miles aerobic (averaged 7:45 pace, but most of the second half of the run was at around 7:15/7:20 pace), followed by yoga and then 20 minutes shakeout pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Race report: Purple Stride 5K, June 15, 2013

I ran the Purple Stride 5K this morning, finishing in a time of 19:35.  However, I did set a 2 mile PR of 12:02.


And that's pretty much the story in a nutshell.  :)

I'm not usually a fan of summer races (ones longer than a mile) but the forecast was for somewhat cooler temps and lower humidity, so I thought I'd try a 5K, and see what all my mile training had earned me.  Plus, I'm feeling like I'm awfully close to breaking 19 for a 5K, so it'd be nice to see where I was.

Verdict: I was totally capable of breaking 19 today.  Just needed to pace it a bit better.

I had picked up my bib the night before, so I didn't have to show up at the race until 7:45 or so (it started at 8:30).  Jogged for 22 minutes or so, then did drills and strides, and lined up.  We started, and I made an effort to go out at what felt like a fairly slow pace.  In retrospect, I think my perception of what is a "fairly slow pace" is a bit off - I've been racing miles, and so anything slower than mile pace feels slow.  Even though it wasn't.

I noted several women ahead of me, and that gave me some (possibly false) reassurance that I was going out slow also.  I let them go ahead for the first half mile, and then slowly started reeling them in.  By about the 1.5 mile mark, I had the lead.  I was hurting, but not that much.  Not as much as I've hurt in the last bit of a mile race.

Of course, in retrospect, I still had 1.5 miles to go.

People were cheering for me on all sides as the first woman, and I tried to pull strength from that as I hurt more and more, and my legs grew heavier.  I kept it up through two miles, but the third mile was just a nightmare (and yes, I got passed.  Several times.  No win for me).

Splits were:

Mile 1: 6:01
Mile 2: 6:01
Last 1.11 7:33 (don't wanna do the math as to what type of pace this was).

Finally got myself over the finish line, and sat on the curb for a long time, catching my mental and physical breath.  Blowing up ain't fun, guys.

So yeah, this race was another wakeup call for me.  My last two workouts have involved me fading badly on the last rep or two - between that and this race, it's become clear that I'm falling into an old trap again of starting a bit faster than I should, and also of running my workouts a bit too hard. So I need to fix that.  That's next on the docket.

Other notes:
  • Found nice parking at 15th and F.  If you get to the race around 45-60 minutes before, parking ain't too hard.
  • Weather was temp of 70, DP 61.  Lotsa sunshine, plus a nice breeze.  Not optimal racing weather, but probably about as good as you're going to get for June in DC.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Training Log - Week ending 6/9/13

This week was 60.5 miles of “real running” plus 14 “miles” pool running and 1500 yards of swimming -- training log is here.  

Another week.  I've been adding in a short run on most Monday and Thursday nights, just a shakeout that also gives me a chance to do drills.  I actually feel a bit better in the mornings after doing this, usually.

This week was also notable for a mishap that happened at the end of last week.  I (rather comically) tripped during my Sunday long run and fell down, banging up my right knee and giving me some road rash.  I a) kept running right after and b) went to a concert that night - the combo of those activities seemed to keep the knee fairly flexible, and it held up to running well.

Yoga was another story.  Suffice it to say - this past week I have dreaded child's pose like never before.

Raced another mile on Sunday, running 5:35.  Still not where I want to be, but I'm getting there.  Definitely feel a bit stronger and springy. 


In the morning, 40 minutes of easy pool-running for “4 miles."  3 miles very easy (8:36) plus drills in the evening, as well as some foam rolling.

In the morning, 12.4 miles, including an interval workout of 6x800, 2x200 (ran 2:53, 2:53, 2:51, 2:48, 2:48, 2:50 and then 38 and 38).  Followed with injury prevention work and 20 minutes of shakeout pool-running.  Foamrolling at night.

:   In the morning, 10 miles very easy (9:01 pace), followed by yoga.   Later did another 5 miles (8:32 pace).  Foam rolling at night.

In the morning, 30 minutes of easy pool-running for “3 miles," followed by upper body strenght work and some injury prevention work.  3.5 miles very easy in the evening (8:50), plus drills, followed by foam rolling.

In the morning, 11 miles, including an abbreviated tempo workout of 3200 (12:50, split as 6:31/6:19).  Followed with 25 minutes shakeout poolrunning. Foam rolling at night.

In the morning, 1500 yards of swimming breathing drills; foam rolling in the afternoon.

In the morning, a 3 mile warm-up and then a mile track race (5:35) with a 3 mile cool-down.  Later did another 8 miles easy.  Yoga and foam-rolling in the afternoon.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Race Report: PVTC Track mile, June 9, 2013

I ran the mile today at the PVTC meet, finishing in 5:35.  Yup, another mile.  And faster than the last time I ran this meet, though slower than my road mile.

And yes, you'll be seeing a lot of these - the DC area has a whole slew of mile track races, and I intend to run nearly all of them?  Why?  Because I like racing, and I like working towards a goal.  And though my ultimate focus is on the longer stuff, this shorter stuff is good for my form and my speed.

So, headed down to the track, again.  Jogged the warm-up with first my friend PJ and then my friend Claire, and then lined up in the field with the other milers, while the race officials decided how to split the race.  They divide it into heats, with the exact dividing time hinging on everyone's projected time.  Usually they split the fastest heat at 5:30, which meant that I fell right on the dividing line between the two (and could fairly pick either).  In the past, I've tried both heats, and run much faster in the faster heat.  Today, however, they divided the heat at 5:20.  I debated for a bit, and then put myself in anyway.  5:2x was possible for me on a good day, and I didn't want to be the fastest one in the slower heat.  I wanted to be towed, rather than the tower.

So we lined up, and the gun went off.  Mindful of the fact that most likely everybody in this group was a bit faster than I (and that I like to negative split anyway), I resolved to let myself fall to the rear of the pack for the first 400m at least.  My hope was that people would start to fade, and I could pick them off.

By 200m, I was in the rear, and happily, in lane 1.  There was an older guy about 2 seconds in front of me - my hope was that I could use him to tow me.  So I essentially just focused on him for the next few minutes, trying to close the gap, and ignoring the somewhat satisfying burning that hit about 800m or so into the race.  Unfortunately, I couldn't quite seem to catch up, and his lead built on me by another second or so with each lap.

By the last lap, he was far enough ahead that I had lost contact.  I did spot someone else ahead, what looked like a teenage boy who was struggling.  I worked to hunt him down, while keeping my form as relaxed as possible, and my knees lifting.  With about 150m to go, on the last turn, I passed him to the outside.  This woke him up, and he surged,  I surged back, and kept my lead for a split second, and then he took off (I'm guessing from the spandex and the way he took off that he does some sprinting).   I pumped my arms for all they were worth, while keeping the rest of my body relaxed and moving fast, but I just didn't have the gear he did.  Argh.  I came rolling in through the finish in 5:35.  Not the 5:2x I'd like, but not bad.  I'm getting there.

I once again set my Garmin to autolap at around the start point, which in practice means somewhere between the start and finish (since it's a mile on the track, there's a bit of difference).  Splits, each for something slightly over 400m, were 82/83/85/84.  Not the negative split I would have liked, but no big fall off.

I was thinking that I might have gone out too fast, but my coach nixed that.  And I see his point.  If' I'm going to run 5:2x, then each lap needs to be 82 or faster.  So I need to work more on that second half.  I did a credible job today - I just need to do more work over the summer to make it better.

It'd also be nice to be able to surge.  3-4 years ago, it seemed like I had more of an ability to find that higher gear when I needed it (though I wasn't racing anything shorter than 5K).  But then again, I also ran a lot of my workouts in a way that included surges - for example, one of my favorites was a tempo run at half marathon pace but with 10 seconds at mile pace every half mile (did this one on the treadmill).  Now, my workouts are much more metronome like and even.

Of course, I'm also running significantly faster overall.  And I wouldn't trade that for an ability to surge.  So I'll just work on making my mile races a faster metronome.  :)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Padding the truth.

Running's always made me like my body. 

Most fast runners tend to be on the shorter side, and my stubby legs, though a deficit in horse riding, give me an efficient stride with a high turnover.  I have solid thighs that do a great job of stabilizing and propelling.  Ditto for my rear.  And though some people try to claim that "real women have curves," I know that my "boyish figure" with its narrow hips is girlish too.  Fast and girlish.

And then there's my chest.  

In middle school, I waited for the a-cups to blossom.  They never did.  And that was sad.  But years later, when I heard repeatedly about other runners' struggles with back pain and bounce and their quests for wired and strapped contraptions, I realized I had been spared.

I'm just aerodynamic.  And structurally sound.  No need for external support. 

So I was happy.  Running offered all sorts of clothes like stretchy tops and sports bras and split shorts, all of which fit me and were comfortable and functional, and came in plain colors or simple geometric designs (with a lot of black).  I'm a simple dresser (and I really like black).  Heck, the underwear was even included in the shorts, so you didn't have to wear it separately.  Brilliant!


People run dressed like this?
But then, there was a shift in running culture.  First came the fancy pricy clothes - stuff with all sorts of extra straps and flowers and sparkles that I really didn't get the need for.   And the running skirts - crazy things with waves of silly fabric that added resistance.

I'm not into this stuff, and don't get it.  But I'm fascinated by the phenomenon, and the people who buy this stuff.  Plus I like expo shopping.  And that was how I ended up browsing the "Running Skirts" booth at a race expo last fall. 

I drifted over, full of humor tinged with a slight bit of scorn, and saw, behind the brand reps (all coordinated like dolls) the sports bras.  Padded sports bras.  Supposedly for "modesty" (seriously, there's nothing "modest" about this much padding).  Amplifying that which I was so happy to be without.

I bought two of them. 

In case you're wondering what they look like. 
(I bought a third later)
By way of explanation/justification/excuse, I really liked the pattern on both of them.  And I tried them on, and they were an absolutely perfect fit.  And the price was right.  So I swallowed my own hypocrisy and let the mannequin in matching skirt, top, long socks, and armwarmers swipe my card.


Gloves, inhaler, and
two gels in this bra.
I wore one of the bras a few days later. just didn't feel quite right.  Like I had changed the nose of my aircraft.  It was comfortable, and yet not. 

And padding meant less space to store stuff in the sports bra, which is really the true purpose of that item of apparel.

The bras drifted to the back of my drawer.  Until last week, when I wore one on my easy Saturday run (I really need to do laundry).  I was running around DC, and stopped by the local track to do drills, only find the normal entrance completely blocked by construction.

I asked one of the workers how I could get onto the track.  He started to tell me that I needed to walk around the other side.  And then looked up.  And told me I could just step through the construction site and duck around that gate.  He even cleared some stuff out of my way.  Yay.  Easy.

I didn't make the connection.

Post drills, I was jogging down 9th St.  I came upon another construction site blocking the sidewalk, and started to mentally map out how I'd dodge the various workers.  When suddenly, they looked up, and parted, allowing me to pass.  With smiles.

I made the connection.  And I grinned.  And I decided I'd move these bras to the top of my drawer, for easy runs.

You see, while I may feel a bit silly wearing the things, I've also come to realize that in this world, a woman's ample chest (or _relatively_ ample, in my case - these things aren't THAT padded) is still the equivalent of a skeleton key.

I may brag that I made my way in the corporate world based on my skills and merits (and my chest proves it so), but I'm not adverse to using other tools in certain situations.  Especially when my pleasant easy run is a bit more pleasant and easy on a beautiful Saturday morning.

I'm practical, you see.  (And the bras do fit really well, and I do like the patterns).

Do I feel a bit dishonest?  Well, sure.  In a way, it's deceptive advertising.

But that's why I've ordered this shirt, as a disclaimer.

I'll wear it come fall.  Promise.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Training log - Week ending June 2, 2013

This week was 72 miles of “real running” plus 9 “miles” pool running and 1000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.  

Project speed development continues, with some better results.  I ran 5:30 officially (5:29 by my watch) at the Loudoun Street mile on Monday.  It's a very slight PR, but I'll take it.  It's improvement over last week.   

Ironically, as part of Project Speed Development ("PSD" as we call it 'round these parts) I'm trying to slow other things down.  Most significantly, my easy runs.  I don't push them, but I think I could be running them even slower, resulting in better recovery. So I've reverted to an old trick - the HR monitor limit.  Basically, any time I'm running easy by myself, I set the monitor to buzz me when I hit 150 BPM for my HR (that's pretty low for me).  I'm also trying to back off some in workouts - using them as opportunities to practice good form, rather than hit a specific time.  It's not about the split, but rather about whether I kept my body relaxed and ran with reasonable knee lift. 

So, I'll take this path for a while, and see where it leaves me come fall (and serious racing).


In the morning, 2.5 miles warm-up, and then a mile race in 5:29/5:30, followed by 4 miles cooldown. 20 minutes shakeout pool-running later for ("2 miles")

In the morning, 8 miles very easy (8:33 pace) plus upper body strength training and injury prevention work.  Foam rolling at night.

:   In the morning, 9.5 miles very easy (8:48 pace), followed by yoga.   Later did another 5.5 miles very easy (8:31 pace).  Sports massage at night.

In the morning, 1000 yards of swimming breathing drills and 20 minutes of easy pool-running for “2 miles," plus upper body strengthwork and injury prevention work.  3.5 miles very easy (8:33) plus drills and foam rolling at night.

In the morning, 12.5 miles, including a tempo workout of 6400m in 26:26 (split as 6:45/6:36/6:40/6:25).  Followed with 25 minutes shakeout poolrunning.   Foam rolling and some injury prevention work at night.

A double of 9.5 miles very easy (8:19 pace) and 3.5 miles (8:03 pace) plus drills.  Also injury prevention work and some upper body strength training.  Foam rolling at night.

12 mile progression run, averaging 7:47, split as 8:50 for first 3 miles, 7:53 for next 3 miles, 7:30 for next 3 miles, and 6:44 for last 3.  Followed with injury prevention work and 25 minutes shake out pool-running.  Also yoga and foam rolling.