Monday, November 24, 2014

Training log - Week ending 11/23/2014

This week was 47 miles of running and 2000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

Race week, and not the race I wanted.  But what's done is done.  And I hobble away a bit better educated about the marathon, and substantially fitter than I was when I started.

So where from here?  My legs are shaky, and so are my emotions. What I would really like to do is to take 2-3 days off to let the soreness pass, then start running again, start training soon after, crushing workouts while upping my mileage, and then do another marathon immediately.  I really miss running (it's the day after my marathon, and I'm envying the people I saw jogging on the sidewalk this morning - ridiculous).  And when I have a bad race, I want to get back on the horse ASAP.

Don't worry.  I know how stupid the above is, and I'm not going to do that.  Especially since I think I made similar mistakes this past cycle.

I did two really sub-optimal things this fall.  One was ramping up from basically nothing to a hard marathon training cycle with high volume; in retrospect I think I would have been better to focus on just staying healthy and getting fitter.  It's one thing to jump into a marathon cycle after a season or two of steady and consistent running, and another to do it from where I was.  It was too much, too fast, too soon.

The other mistake was training at the paces that I wanted to be right for me, rather than where I truly was.  I trained at paces that matched the races I wanted to run, hanging with a group that ran the races I wanted to run.   And it was easy to rationalize doing so, since it wasn't too long ago that those were my paces also.  But they weren't the right paces for me this fall.  I was able to fake my way through some workouts fairly well (by running them too hard); the others I excused due to allergies and high mileage fatigue.

[to be clear, these were my mistakes, no one else's, and I own them].

The good news is that I've come away from this training cycle considerably fitter than I was when I started, which is a huge win.  But I fried myself too.  So now I need to consolidate my gains while also letting the damage heal.

The first step to that is to take some time off from running.  For this week, the rule is that I only do any physical activity if I really want to, and what I do will be restricted to yoga, some easy swimming, and some social pool-running.   I'm trying to hydrate really well, but also not setting my alarm clock, and eating as many gluten free cookies as my little heart wants.

I do want to introduce pool-running back into my routine - I skipped it for a while because it was annoying my back before that healed up, and then I didn't want to intro anything new late in the training cycle.

When I do start running again (likely sometime next week) I'll keep stuff easy, fun, and social for several weeks.  If everything feels right, I'll start doing workouts again in mid-to-late December, focusing on running the workouts easier than I feel I should.  I really want to run another marathon, but there will be no spring marathon training cycle for me.  Instead, I'll spend a season doing consistent, controlled-pace training (anybody who knows me in person, you are encouraged to forcefully remind me of this commitment), and then do a fall marathon.

I had been considering Richmond Marathon for next fall, but after yesterday, I kinda want revenge on Manayunk.

Monday:   2000 yards easy swimming in the morning, foam rolling at night. 

Tuesday:  In the morning, 8.5 miles, including a track workout of 1600, 2x800 (6:06, 2:56, 2:52).  Sports massage at night.
Wednesday:  In the afternoon, 7.5 miles (8:02 pace).  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday: Rest day.  Did get my spasming glute dry needled and did some foam rolling.

Friday:  5 miles (8:03 pace), and got ART on a sticky calf in the morning.  Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Saturday:  Rest day; picked up bib and foam rolled.

Sunday:  Philadelphia Marathon in 3:20:17, positive split as 1:35/1:45.  Big ass strawberry margarita at midday.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Race report: Philadelphia Marathon, November 23, 2014

I ran the Philadelphia Marathon today, finishing in a time of 3:20:xx.  This is both the slowest marathon I've ever run and the second fastest.  I like the latter characterization more, so I'm rolling with it.

The too long, didn't read version is that my legs cramped up and the last miles were ridiculous - a combination of horrible and amusing.  The longer story, read below...

Every lengthy overthought race report starts with a summary, and who am I to buck tradition?  My training can be summed up as a rapid build from very low mileage and injury recovery to a peak of 85 miles per week, followed by a taper.  Long runs were alternating 20-22 milers and 16-17 miles with 4-3-2-1 mile marathon paced segments.  Then I tapered.

The taper was, of course, a paranoia fest.  At various points during the last week, my glutes spasmed, my right calf got tight, I got bad indigestion, and I convinced myself I was coming down with a head cold (I'm pretty sure I wasn't). It's strange all the curveballs that your mind and body will throw at you.  I just told myself that it was all part of the taper paranoia and that I'd feel great on race morning. And I did.

By Saturday, I was fairly tense and bouncing off the walls.  That was when I had an inspired idea - instead of going out to eat, Brian and I ordered takeout and paid for a hotel movie (X-Men Days of Future Past).  It was exactly the right order - I relaxed and put the race out of my mind.  And whadyaknow - I felt good on Sunday morning, right when I needed to be.

I felt shaky/jumpy - very ready to go.  This worried me a bit - there was a real possibility of going out too fast here.  So I seeded myself in the very back of my corral, and started with a friend who was shooting for a more conservative time.  We crossed the start line and chatted for the first mile, and then I started to open up a little more, though still staying conservative.   I focused on keeping an easy effort - I'd find myself picking it up to a pace that felt "good", and then I'd remind myself -"if you don't feel like you're going too slow, you're going too fast" and I'd pull back to what felt "too slow."

As in my previous marathon, I started the race with a carry-water bottle - I planned to drink from that and then toss it, and then get another from either Brian or my coach at the halfway point.  However, for whatever reason, I had completely drained my bottle by mile 5.  And I was thirsty.

(before I get accused of starting the race dehydrated, I'll note that I was peeing clear for the days before (TMI) and also needed to pee slightly when we started the race).

This presented a bit of a quandry - I'm not good at drinking out of cups while running.  At the next water stop, I attempted to refill my water bottle with a cup of water so I could run while sipping, but that was pure fail.  So I tossed the water bottle, and reluctantly slowed down at the next station to grab a cup and down it.  Then I was off again.  (And not too long after, I saw my coach and got my second water bottle).

I continued on like that, running through Philly and enjoying the tour.  Around mile 8, we hit a set of hills that my coach had warned us about - essentially we were to be careful on the downhills not to run them too fast.  The downhills were a bit steep, and it felt like if I slowed too much, I was placing more stress on my quads, since they were doing the braking.  So I decided to focus on running them in whatever way felt like it took the least effort and the least stress, regardless of the pace.

I was feeling good and in control as we turned back towards the Arts Center and the half/full split, and then I noted that both my inner quads (VMO for you physio geeks) were a bit sore.  This was...concerning.  But...I could either freak out about it, or put it out of my mind.  I decided to do the latter, and just focus on running in control.

But the quads started talking louder.  Not good.  I wasn't even halfway yet.  But... the worst of the hills was over, right?  And breathing great, energy level good - I'd just keep working through this.

By mile 14, they were starting to yell at me, and I was having crazy fantasies about KT taping them (my mind is an odd place).  And then I remembered....

On the last interval workout before this race, we did a set of 1600, and 2x800.   I felt like my legs were tying up and I had no knee lift, only to discover that my running tights had slipped down.  The feeling I had now, as my quads tired, was much the same as when I had my wardrobe issue.

So....that was how I rationalized it - if I could hold ~6 minute pace with my tights slipping down, then holding 7 something pace while feeling the same was eminently doable.  So that's what I did as we progressed away from Philly towards Manayunk.

And so I progressed.  Between miles 17-18 there's a downhill for a quartermile, then a 180 turn and you come back up hill.  And that was truly the beginning of the end.  I held it together for that, but the quads were on fire, and in Manayunk, they spasmed.

From there, you can imagine how it went - the last miles back into Philly (most of which were downhill) were a shuffle/slogfest.    In a way, it was really upsetting - no one likes to run a race that way.  But in a strange way, I could also see the hilarity of it - my legs simply were not listening to me, but just doing some variant of a running motion.  It got worse as my right hamstring and calf decided to play along - a symphony of disobediance.

I felt like I was running past crowds of people with my pants half down, both figuratively and literally.   I also came to the realization that the slower you run and the more it's obvious you hurt, the more people start cheering you on - at the very point where I really wanted to pretend like no one could see me.

But... that's racing.  So, I slogged home to the finish.  I realized later that I could have just dropped at 18 and done CIM in two weeks (I'm entered).  But, I didn't want to do that for multiple reasons.  For one, I want a break now, not in two weeks.  Secondly, I didn't want to let this race win.  Simple as that.

And though it was a sucky experience, it was also a good one.  Though this was my second marathon, in someways I felt like it was my first.  My first marathon went so well that I never really felt like I had been tested, or experienced the suckiness of marathons.  I was worried that I didn't respect the distance and all the things that could go wrong.  Now I've been blooded, and that's a good thing.

I think that I'll be a better runner in my next marathon (and there will be a next one, and it might be Philly) because of the experience I had today.  I now have a better understanding of how it can hurt and suck, and I still think it's my favorite distance to race.

Splits for the hell of it:

Mile 1: 7:59
Mile 2: 7:35
Mile 3: 7:21
Mile 4: 7:22
Mile 5: 7:17
Mile 6-7: 14:14
Mile 8: 7:11
Mile 9: 6:57
Mile 10: 7:18
Mile 11: 6:57
Mile 12: 7:04
Mile 13: 7:15
Mile 14: 7:10
Mile 15: 7:12
Mile 16: 7:14
Mile 17: 7:12
Mile 18: 7:13
Mile 19: 7:18
Mile 20: 7:28
Mile 21: 8:10
Mile 22: 8:35
Mile 23-24: 17:34
Mile 25: 9:42
Mile 26: 9:22
last bit: 1:38

Other notes:
  • Weather was absolutely perfect.  Doesn't get better.  Started in high 30s, ended in mid 40s, overcast, little wind.
  • I stayed at the Embassy Suites, which worked well.  It was right outside the secure zone for the marathon start/finish, and had a TGI Fridays as the hotel restaurant.  The one trouble spot was that the elevators were slow and we were on the 14th floor - I was worried that the elevators would get VERY slow when everyone decided to come down for the race.  So I left my room early and headed to the gym on the second floor for some final stretching.  Gym was empty and had a bathroom - perfect for some pre-race relaxing.
  • Hit the security entrance at 6:30, which was perfect timing for getting me into my corral at 6:40.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Training log - Week ending 11/16/2014

This week was 50 miles of running and 3000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

Taper, week 2.  Just resting up and recharging.  And starting to feel really good, albeit with some "taper aches" that I attribute to paranoia.  Both Tuesday and Sunday's "workouts" felt awesome; Friday's was a bit harder, but I attribute that to being significantly underdressed for conditions that ended up being a lot colder than I expected.  
On Sunday, I did the last few miles of my "long run" at "goal marathon pace" - the hope was to hold 7:15 (3:10 pace) for two miles and then drop to 7:05 (~3:05 pace) for the last mile, just to lock in the feel.  I know that's slower than the pace I've held for my runs, but I really believe in setting conservative marathon goals at the start and then re-evaluating as one goes.  I run my best races with negative splits, so going out "too slow" isn't a concern.
As it turns out, I ended up running a bit fast than those paces anyway.  I'm not too worried, though - my heart rate for those miles was at the low end of my normal marathon pace HR, so the effort was conservative.  I've reinforced my knowledge that I need to run easy and restrained and "too slow" for those first miles, and to trust (as always, I'll race with my Garmin screen hidden) that the pace will be right.
From here until this coming Sunday it's just a matter of sleeping and eating well, and dodging injury and illness.  The training's done and the die is cast; all I have to do now is show up on Sunday and run.  Simple.  Easy. Awesome.
And it reads cheesy, but I really am proud of just getting to where I am today as opposed to where I was last year. (for fun I've pasted in my training log from this week last year.)  The past 12-18 months have been their own endurance test - blood (literally), sweat, tears, pull buoys, injections, MRIs, missed races, PT sessions, alternating dejection and hope.  Emotional bonking and then the slow climb up.  But now, with the help/support/love of teammates and friends, I see the finish line, which is also the start.
Completing a training cycle is its own achievement, and its own reward. But what's even better is that I get to race. 

Monday:   1500 yards easy swimming in the morning, foam rolling at night. 
Last year: In the morning, injury prevention/rehab work and 4000 yards swimming, 50/50 with and without pullbuoy.  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday:  In the morning, 10 miles, including a track workout of 6x800 (3:01, 2:58, 2:57, 2:54, 2:52, 2:52) followed by injury prevention work and 750 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.
In the morning, injury prevention/rehab work and then 3000 yards of swimming, 1/3rd with pull buoy. 2/3rds without.   Foam rolling at night.
Wednesday:  In the morning, 8.5 miles very easy (8:22).  Massage at night.
In the morning, injury prevention/rehab work and then 4250 yards of swimming -  1/3rd with pull buoy. 2/3rds without.  Sports massage at night.

Thursday:   In the morning, 5.5 miles easy (8:11) followed by a few drills+strides and some upper body strengthwork and injury prevention work.  Foam rolling at night.
In the morning,  injury prevention/rehab work, upper body strengthwork and walking 2.5 miles.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  8 miles, including a 5K tempo in 20:11 (6:34/6:24/6:27/0:46), followed by 750 yards easy swimming.   Foam rolling in the afternoon.
In the morning, injury prevention/rehab work and 3750 yards of swimming, 25% with pull buoy.  Also some walking.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:   8 miles easy (8:18) followed by a few drills+strides; foam rolling in afternoon.
In the morning, injury prevention/rehab work and 4000 yards of swimming, with about 500yards pull buoy (rest without).  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday:  10 miles with the last 3 at marathon pace (two miles at 7:08 pace, last mile at 6:50 pace).  Foam rolling at night.
In the morning, injury prevention/rehab work (including testing out the arc-trainer for a few minutes) and 3000 yards of swimming (no pull buoy).  Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Training log - Week ending 11/9/14

This week was 50 miles of running and 3000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

Taper, week 1.  And for the first few days I enjoyed it.  Needed it.  Tuesday's workout was a struggle, run on legs that had done 22 with a fast finish less than 48 hours before.  After that, I cut back sharply.    Before my last marathon (Shamrock) I did a fairly steep three week taper and thought it worked well, so I decided to do the same this time.   So, 45-50 miles with 3 weeks to go, 45-50 miles with 2 weeks to go, and then 15-20 miles in the week before the race.

I'm also tapering all my other activities.  This past week was my last week for yoga - I'm skipping that for the next two weeks both to rest and to avoid any contagious fellow yoga students (it always shocks me how many people will drag themselves to a group class when sick - it's really selfish).  I'll swim some this coming week (though not much), and then will cut it out for the final week of taper.

I'm definitely starting to feel the benefits of the taper.  I had several warning signs over the last two weeks that I was overreaching - high resting HR, insomnia, concentration issues.  The first two have resolved.  As for my shortened attention span, I seriously doubt that will improve during taper.  I'm also starting to get a bit jumpy, with taper anxiety.  Did I do enough?  Did I do too much?  Am I resting too much now?   Should I be resting more? 

There's no real answer, except not to worry about it and to find something to distract me (I am stocking my Kindle well).  In the end, I don't think there's one perfect taper, just as there's no one perfect training cycle or perfect race.  Just get to the starting line healthy, and see what happens. 

I did race on Sunday - it was one of the best bad races I've had in a while, if that makes sense.  It was bad in that I went out too fast, which is a mistake I rarely make.  But this was a good time to make it - to remind me to be cautious in the marathon.  And working my way through a mental tough patch at the end was a confidence boost of its own.  And it was nice to see that I'm now fit enough to run a major positive split and still run just over 40 minutes.


Monday:   Yoga and upper body strengthwork/injury prevention work in the morning, foam rolling at night.

Tuesday:  In the morning, 10 miles, including a track workout of 4x1200 (4:38, 4:26, 4:27, 4:29) followed by injury prevention work and 2000 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.
Wednesday:  In the morning, 9.4 miles very easy (8:24) followed by yoga.  Later an easy 2.5 (8:37).  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday:   In the morning, 3 miles very easy (8:46) to yoga.  After yoga, did another 4 miles (8:09), followed by a few drills+strides, some upper body strengthwork and injury prevention work.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  8 miles, including a 1600m pick-up in 6:18.   Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Saturday:   1000 yards easy swimming and foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday:  13 miles, including a 10K race in 40:13.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Race Report: Veteran's Day 10K, November 9, 2014

I raced the Veteran's Day 10K today, finishing in a time of 40:13.

I have a preferred racing style - I usually go out fairly slowly and cautiously, and then drop the pace gradually, with a strong second half.  I'm pretty good at pacing, if I do say so myself.

But every once in a while, I screw it up.  Ooops.


The Veteran's Day 10K is held every year on a very fast course (Hains Point) in DC.  It's flat except for one tiny hump, and there are no sharp turns.  It's essentially an asphalt track, and can be very fast if there's no wind. 

There was no wind today, and temps were perfect.  This race brings out a lot of fast people, and so everything was in place for a fast day.

I warmed up by jogging for about 3 miles.  My legs felt a bit marathon heavy still, so I inserted a quarter mile pick-up to get everything moving.  Then some drills and strides, and lined up.

And we were off.  Fast.  I backed off a little, to a pace that felt controlled but still fast.  It felt uncomfortable, but frankly anything faster than 6:50 feels uncomfortable right now. so I went with it. 

As it turns out, someone was calling out splits at the first mile, and I heard a "6:20" as I went by (and I started a few seconds after the gun).  That was a bit faster than I was anticipating.  Huh.  Arguably not good, but maybe I was just having a good day.  Nevertheless I was feeling a bit uncomfortable, so I decided to back it off a bit so that I could come home strongly. 

As it turned out, I couldn't quite repair the damage, by mile 4 my legs were pretty much done and I was just hanging on from that point.  I nursed myself through the last 2 miles, reminding myself that I might feel like this during my marathon, and so this was good practice coaxing everything out of my legs.  And I'm pleasantly surprised at just how well I was able to hang on, given how spent I felt.  Usually when I blow up, I REALLY blow up.  This time I just fizzled.  Marathon strong legs FTW.  I can be dead, but the legs will still do their thing.

Splits were:

6:05 (mile measured .95 ~6:26 pace)
6:47 (mile measured 1.05 ~6:26 pace))
6:35 (oof)
6:36 (oof)
last .21 in 1:23 (also ~6:26 pace - this was all I had for a "kick")

40:13 - which was good enough for a top 10 female finish and second in my age group.

I am a bit wistful, because I think I could had run faster had I run a better paced race.  On the other hand, this race was primarily a final tune-up for my marathon in two weeks.  I'm pleasantly surprised that I had this much speed in my legs, given the focus of my training the past few weeks and months.  And after hanging on so well the last two miles, I feel ready for what the marathon may throw at me.

Next race report in two weeks :)

Other notes:

* Weather was absolutely perfect.  About 50 degrees, calm winds.
* Wore my my marathon shoes (Boston Boost) rather than my normal shoe for this distance (Hitogami).  I prefer to run my last tune-up race in my marathon shoes, rather than my flats - it gives me an extra bit of confidence to know that I can run significantly faster than MP in my marathon shoes.
* Parked on Rock Creek Parkway just on the far side of the Lincoln Memorial from the start - worked perfectly (one does need to get there before 7 to snag a spot, though).

Monday, November 3, 2014

Training log - Week ending 11/2/2014

This week was 85 miles of running and 4000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

And this is it.  Taper starts now.

And it's just at the right time.  I've hit that marathon training zombie mode.  No real speed, but I can go between easy and medium-hard forever.

By the end of this week, I was unquestionably tired.  There was a substantial differential between when I got out of bed on Friday (early), and when I actually woke up (about halfway through my tempo workout). The last two miles of my tempo actually felt pretty good (being awake helps), and I briefly debated adding another mile, but decided against it - if I was feeling that tired, I really didn't need to be stretching out any workouts.

(the astute reader will note that I swam a bit more than normal on Friday post workout.  Why?  Especially since I was already tired?  The answer is that I was in zombie mode and I completely lost track of time and laps, and basically swam half-asleep until the guards blew the whistle to indicate the end of morning swim.  Ooops.)

Slept a ton over the weekend, and cranked out my last long run on Sunday morning, which went fairly well (the windy conditions reminded me of when I raced Shamrock last year, which is actually a pleasant memory). 

Of my three 20-22 mile runs, this last one felt the easiest and left me the least sore afterwards - that's a good place to be.  The only bummer was a blister I developed under my left foot on Sunday at about mile 11 - apparently my compression socks don't play nice with the Boston Boosts.  It's all good - that's why I test stuff out during my long runs, so I don't learn stuff like this during my goal race.

So now I just need to rest and wrap myself in bubble wrap for the next three weeks.  Memories of my last training cycle for Philly haunt me a bit, so I'm being VERY careful.  I'll probably race a 10K this coming weekend as a final tune-up, but I'll wear my marathon racing shoes for it, just like I did during the Shamrock cycle.  I like to do this because it makes marathon pace in my marathon shoes feels a bit easier.  And I also feel I'm reducing the risk of injury by doing so.

So much nicer to be here than where I was last year at this time.


Monday:   Yoga and upper body strengthwork/injury prevention work in the morning, foam rolling at night.

Tuesday:  In the morning, 14 miles, including a track workout of 400,800,1200,1600,1200,800,400 (splits of 1:32, 3:06, 4:34, 6:06, 4:32, 2:57, 1:24), followed by injury prevention work and 1250 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.
Wednesday:  In the morning, 10 miles very easy (8:48) followed by yoga.  Later an easy 6 (8:28).  Sports massage at night.

Thursday:   In the morning, 4.5 miles very easy (8:48) to yoga.  After yoga, did another 4 miles (8:20), followed by a few drills+strides, some upper body strengthwork and injury prevention work.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  12.5 miles, including a 8K tempo in 33:31 (splits were 6:52, 6:47, 6:45, 6:36, 6:31), followed by lower body strengthwork and injury prevention work, and then 2100 yards easy swimming.   Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Saturday:   12.5 miles easy (8:18), followed by yin yoga.   Injury prevention/upper body strengthwork and foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday:  21.5 miles averaging 7:27, split as first 1.5 miles at 8:42 pace, next 5 at 7:54, next 6 at 7:27, last 9 at 6:56 (took a ~5 min break about mile 16 to chase down water when the water fountain I was relying on was off).  Followed with 650 yards shakeout swimming; foam rolling at night.  Skipped yin yoga to watch the second half of the Maclay finals