Monday, December 29, 2014

Training log - Week ending 12/28/2014

This week was 44 miles of running, 17 "miles" of pool-running and 4000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

A bit of a rough week - on Monday I learned that my beloved elderly cat had both inflamed intestines and a liver tumor indicated on an ultrasound.  A tumor isn't always cancer, but in a cat of her age (almost 16) with these findings, cancer is at the top of the list for suspected diagnoses.
Aramina, during a previous hospitalization.

So, that was a cue to a very stressful week.  I've learned that stress in other parts of my life predisposes me to injury and overtraining - I don't recover that well when I'm sleeping, and when I'm distracted, I'm more likely to take bad steps and twist things, etc. 

And despite backing off on my training some, that was what happened.  From an overanalytic standpoint, it was interesting to note just how high my resting HR got as I worried over my cat.  And sure enough, I also took a bad step with my left foot on Wednesday, which aggravated both ankles - the left from twisting it, and the right (my "bad ankle" to begin with) from having to catch myself.  So I backed off the rest of the week - opting for pool-running on Christmas day and keeping my other runs easy pace wise - using hard swimming and pool-running intervals to get the HR up.

And yes, there was a pool open on Christmas morning, at the Jewish Community Center in Rockville Maryland, which was fortunately on the way to my parents' house (and by "on the way" I mean "in the same state").

As for sweet kitty, we met with the oncologist the day after Christmas for a consult.  In a nutshell, it might be cancer, or it might not - it's possible that the inflamed intestines are a result of her kidney disease, and the tumor appears cystic on ultrasound (so not obviously cancerous at first glance). 

But, there's no way to know for certain -- we can't do a biopsy or aspiration to check for cancer, since she can't be sedated or anesthetized, due to her high blood pressure, heart murmur, and kidney disease.  So, we're instead giving her some meds to reduce the intestinal inflammation and watching the tumor to see if it grows or stays consistent.

(obvious question - why don't I put the poor old kitty with kidney disease, a heart defect, high blood pressure, and now possibly intestinal cancer to sleep?  Well, kitty is still enjoying life, playful, snugly, eating and pooping well, acting like a cat half her age, and doesn't seem to be in any pain.  And she doesn't mind being pilled or getting shots, and handles vet visits well.  I'm not going to do any treatment that makes her uncomfortable - palliative care only.  But as long as she's happy and comfortable, we'll keep going.)

Of course, this new veterinary regimen makes for tricky scheduling.  She's now on five meds (carafate, budesonide, atenolol, amlodipine, and pepsid), and one of the drugs (carafate) has to be given every 12 hours, and at a spacing of 2 hours from it and any other meds/food.   So, my workout schedule has been a bit chaotic while I try to figure out how to combine it with cat care (and also work). 

And yes, Aramina now has her own "training log" on Google Calendar, where I document the times of her daily meds, and also her eating and her poo (I kid you not - poo is very important here).  I'm not planning on giving her her own blog, though.  I have to draw the line somewhere.


Monday:   Yoga and 6 "miles" easy pool-running; foam rolling at night.

Tuesday:  7.5 miles, including 6 hill repeats, followed by some injury prevention work.  Foam rolling at night
Wednesday: 10 miles very easy (9:25).  Later did a yoga class and 1500 yards of swimming. Foam rolling in afternoon.

Thursday:   6 "miles" of beltless pool-running, followed by injury prevention work.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  4 miles easy (8:25), some lower body injury prevention work, and 2500 yards of swimming, including a hard 6x100 on 2:00 in 1:38.67, 1:38.73, 1:40.40 (but hit late), 1:39.48, 1:39.64, 1:39.47, followed by a tempo effort set of 200/150/100/5x50 on 2:00 (splits were 3:27.97, 2:33.84, 1:42.98, 50.67, 50.77, 49.72, 51.02, 50.44).  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:   11 miles easy (8:24), followed by yoga and upper body strengthwork.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday:  11 miles very easy (9:04 pace), followed by 6 "miles" pool-running, including a set of 10x3:00 hard, 1:00 easy.  Yoga and foam rolling in the afternoon.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Training log - Week ending 12/21/14

This week was 52.5 miles of running, 9 "miles" of pool-running and 3000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

Not too much to report here - still coming back.  I did my first bit of harder running on Friday with a tempo - the tempo was pretty slow, which is partially because I'm really trying to keep my workouts controlled, and partially because I'm out of shape, both mentally and physically.

I'm still playing with the running metrics on my 920.  I'm sure they're of limited value in the end (just like paces and HR), but fun to geek about.  Two things I noticed:

1) cadence - I generally have a fairly high cadence - about 190-195.  What was interesting is how much that cadence can change based on circumstances.  Below, the first picture is my cadence for an easy run on a fairly hilly route where I was also dodging puddles and pedestrians, stopping at lights, etc.  Next is my cadence for the 2x3200 on Thursday.  The difference between the two (variable on left, very steady on right) is exactly what you'd expect to see, but still interesting.  (you can click on each picture to enlarge it).

2) ground contact time.  On Saturday, an easy run turned into a hard run for the last few miles - the change in ground contact time really stands out.

Neat, huh?


Monday:   Yoga and 3 "miles" easy pool-running; foam rolling at night.

Tuesday:  10.5 miles easy (8:47 pace), 1500 yards swimming, and some injury prevention work.  Foam rolling at night
Wednesday: 4 miles easy to yoga (9:10 pace), a yoga class, and then another 4 miles home (8:31).  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Thursday:   10 miles, including a sleepy tempo workout of 2x3200 (split as 13:59 -7:09/6:50 and 13:30 - 6:51/6:39).  Followed with injury prevention work and 1500 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  Yoga and 6 "miles" easy pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:   10 miles as an unplanned progression run- averaging 8 mile pace, but picked it up, finishing the last two miles at roughly 6:45 pace (my coach told me to pick it up - apparently I overdid it). Followed with upper body strengthwork.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday:  14 miles easy (8:43 pace), yoga, and injury prevention work.  Foam rolling at night.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Training log - Week ending 12/14/2014

This week was 45 miles of running, 7 "miles" of pool-running and 4000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

Recovery week #3.  Still a bit tired, but definitely starting to feel more normal.  By the end of the week, I had built up to a 12 mile run - it wasn't terribly challenging from an energy standpoint, but did leave me pretty achy after.   It's definitely taken me longer to recover from Philly than from Shamrock, but that makes sense, given the thrashing I gave my quads.  Hopefully in another few days I'll feel ready to get back into training.  I really do miss the workouts.
I also got a new toy this week - a Garmin Forerunner 920xt. 

Did I need a new Garmin?  Well......that depends on your definition of "need."  I've been doing quite well with my 910xt, and have a 310xt as back-up.

Rather, I had a 310xt as back-up until this week. Apparently at some point it sprung a leak in its waterproofing.  It passed in a surprisingly sad splay of air bubbles and screen static during Monday's pool-run.

I named him Homer. 
Cuz no name says
sex like Homer. 
And when I hit the
wrong button I
yell "D'oh"!
Of course, I still had the 910xt.  However, that Garmin was starting to show signs of age - the battery life was half of what it was in its prime, it was starting to forget workouts, and it no longer screen-locked.  Time to put it out to pasture.

And yes, I could have just gotten another 910xt - it's a great watch and now available for a good price.  But I wanted new and shiny.  And I had a gift certificate to blow. 

And that's how I came to own the sex toy pictured at right. 

(it vibrates on command and I purchased with lust in my heart.  Ergo, sex toy). is it?  Well, first of all, anyone interested in the 920xt should read DCRainmaker's review.  Then come back.  (I'll wait).


Truth is, despite the pre-purchase lust, I didn't love this Garmin at first wear the way I loved the 910xt.  I think that's because there's several radical changes between the 920xt and 910xt that required some adjustment. 

For one thing, the design of the watch is subtly different from the earlier Forerunners.  To illustrate, I've posted a picture of all four of my Garmins.  From left to right, they are the 305, the 310xt, the 910xt, and the 920xt.

If you click on the picture to expand, and look closely at the buttons, there are some key differences between the first three models and the 920xt. 

First of all- for the previous editions the bottom two buttons (lap and stop) are actually on the face of the Garmin, just below the screen.  But for the 920xt, the buttons have been relocated below the edge of the face of the watch, closer to the strap itself. 

This shift in lap button location was mildly annoying during my first run with the device - when trying to lap, I kept poking the screen, where those buttons were in the earlier models.  By the end of the run, I had successfully reprogrammed myself to hit the right location, so it's not too hard to unlearn those old habits.  But it does require a bit of adjustment - I wouldn't recommend using this watch for the first time in a race if getting splits is important to you.

Secondly, while the 305, 310xt, and 910xt each have three buttons on the right (up, down, and enter), the 920xt just has two - up and down.  On the 920xt the enter button is also the start/stop and is on the bottom of the watch.  This resulted in a learning curve when navigating the menu - I kept hitting down when I meant to hit enter.

That wasn't the only source of difficulty menu-wise.  The 920xt's menu structure is different from those of the previous models.  I suspect that this is because there are so many additional features in the 920xt that it made more sense to revamp the menu completely than to try to build on the previous.

However, I found the new 920xt user interface (UI) hard to navigate.  With previous Garmins, I never needed to read the user's manual.  The 305/310xt/910xt interface was intuitive.  Not so for the Garmin 920xt - I've had to review the online user manual multiple times to figure out how to do things that were easy before.  I want to blame this on subpar UI design.  However, I do note that I am very used to the old Garmin menu structure, having used them for 7+ years.  Part of my struggles with the UI (and also the button location) are because I've had to break old habits; someone brand new to the Forerunner series, or alternately, a habitual RTFM'er,* will have less issue.  And the happy news is that 48 hours into my ownership, I think I've got the new interface and button locations down.
*RTFM -> "Read the F'ing Manual"
As for the additional functionality itself?  It's fun, though I'm not sure it's an additional $200 worth of fun.  Running-wise, I got additional metrics on running cadence (about 190 for me), vertical oscillation (8 cm) and stride length (1 meter during Sunday's easy run).  I love numbers, but I'm not really sure what I'll do with these.  
The 920xt also has a "recovery advisor", and smugly informed me after Sunday's run that I would need 5 days before I'd be ready to run hard.  I'm moderately annoyed that I've apparently purchased a device that will lecture me on the virtues of rest - I already have a coach, a PT, and a boyfriend for that. 
Swimming-wise, I do like it a lot more than the 910xt - it offers a lot more in the way of display screen options, and allows me to note the distance of drills at the time I'm doing them.  To explain this to non-swimmers - I liked swimming with the 910xt because it automatically counted my laps - letting me know when I had hit a preset distance.  However, it counted laps via the motion of my left arm, which meant that it ignored laps that I used a kick board for, and got confused by one armed swimming drills.  Now, I can add those in as I do them, to keep the overall yard count accurate.  It's a little thing, but it's so much nicer not to have to keep mental count of how many yards I've kicked.   The screen is also brighter and easier to read in the pool.
There's also some lifestyle functions.  It serves as a pedometer, which has proven surprisingly addictive.  Apparently I'm less sedentary than I thought I was - on a non-running day I've still gotten about 13,000 steps in*.  It will also track my sleep at night - tracking how much I moved during the night as a metric of how well I slept.  Of course, I'm not sure how much use this is - if I had a rough night of sleeping, I generally know it. 
*I pace during conference calls or when I'm trying to figure out something.**
**Lawyers love footnotes
Other pluses - much expanded battery life.  It's designed to be worn as a day watch/pedometer too, and so is designed to go several days between charges.  Additionally, it seems to charge extremely quickly when I dock it to upload data - I really have no excuse for running out of juice with it.*  And, as noted before, the screen is very bright and easy to read. 
*These words will haunt me, I'm sure.
Finally, it's lighter and smaller than the 910xt, following a trend of each Garmin being slightly smaller and more comfortable than its predecessor.  It was really interesting to don my old
305 on left, 920xt on right.
305 for comparison purposes - how did I ever wear that thing on my wrist?  Of course, there was also a time when I thought large car phones that plugged into cigarette lighters were amazingly portable, so there you go.
Downsides are that the vibration function is weaker than it was on the 910xt - sometimes I don't notice it.  And when reviewing past workouts on the watch, it doesn't show heart rate data - you have to download the workout to get that.  I find this annoying, because I like to manually input my workouts - I find it actually easier and quicker than importing the data into Runningahead and then correcting GPS errors and adding notes. (ignore the above - I figured it out).
But overall, after owning it for 2 days, I think I'm happy with the purchase.  And it is awfully pretty.


Monday:   4 "miles" easy pool-running; foam rolling at night.

Tuesday:  7 miles very easy (8:38 pace), 1000 yards swimming, and some upper body strengthwork and injury prevention work.  Foam rolling at night
Wednesday: 8.5 miles very easy (8:46 pace) and yoga.  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Thursday:   Upper body strengthwork and injury prevention work, yoga, and 3 "miles" easy pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  10 miles very easy (8:43 pace) and a yoga class.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:   7.5 miles easy (8:28 pace), 1750 yards swimming, and upper body strengthwork.   Foam rolling at night.

Sunday:  12 miles easy (8:28 pace), yoga, and injury prevention work.  Later swam 1250 yards to try out new Garmin (and even out the log).  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Just a quick note: Facebook Blackout Day 2014

So, I'm participating in this event (happening on Monday, December 15) and figured I'd sidetrack my blog to get the word out.

Essentially, Facebook has a policy of forcing everyone to use their "real name" - which may be very different from the name they actually go by or would like to use.  It's a policy that has little effect on white bread middle class mundane people like myself, but is a hardship on many others, including:

  • victims of stalking/domestic violence who are trying to fly undercover;
  • celebrities and children of celebrities who would like to have a normal FB account and not dodge random friending entries every two minutes
  • LGBT individuals who aren't necessarily out to everyone
  • those whose current name doesn't reflect the gender they're transitioning to
  • those who are trying to maintain a sharp division between work life and personal life
  • those who commonly go by a name that is not their "legal" name.
This policy has caused headache and heartache to several of my friends.

Facebook absolutely is a non-governmental institution, and can institute whatever rules it would like.  At the same point, those of us who disagree with those rules can and should express our disagreement with those rules.  Tomorrow's Facebook Blackout Day is a way to do that.  The details are in the link below, but basically you join the event, and then deactivate your Facebook page for the day.

Do I believe it will actually cause change?  Honestly, no.  I think Facebook is too tonedeaf to hear the message.  But I also think there's value in expressing the opinion anyway.

I do believe that people can disagree on this issue - I think the "real name" policy is abhorrent, while others may believe it's not a big deal, and may even believe that Facebook offers sufficient privacy protections to mitigate the concerns of those listed above.  (um....yeah....)

It's an individual choice, and I have no animosity towards those who don't think this protest is needed.  Again, we all have the right to our opinions.  But if you do agree with me and want to participate, a link to the FB Blackout Day event is below.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Training log - Week ending 12/7/2014

This week was 19 miles of running, 10 "miles" of pool-running and 5000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

I started some gentle jogging on Thursday, so 10 days post-marathon.  At that point, the quads were still somewhat sore, but there does seem to be something to "hair of the dog" as a cure.  Or maybe it was the massage I got this week, with instructions to dig into the quads hard.

Whatever it was, I'm happy to report that the quads have finally stopped hurting, except for some twinges when going down stairs.  Took them long enough - it wasn't until Saturday of this week that I was able to jog mostly pain-free (so, just about two weeks).  But I really shouldn't complain too much - the pain was, after all, self-inflicted.

While on the topic of self-inflicted pain, I'll also note that I went in for another follow-up with my PRP/prolotherapy doctor on Tuesday.  We discussed getting a follow-up prolotherapy injection in my right SI joint at some point (previously we did the left, but now that's much better, and the right is weak by comparison).  I decided I wanted to go ahead and get it done; he then offered to try to squeeze me in that same day, so I didn't have to schedule an appointment and come back.  I went ahead and did it, so that was an unscheduled rest day on Wednesday.  Perfect timing since I'm still in marathon recovery anyway.  So woo.


I also went in to see a nutritionist this week (I cashed in some use-or-lose vacation time this week, so it was easy to find the time). 

I had two questions for her: 1) I wanted to go over my nutrition/hydration before/during the Philly Marathon, to see if I had made any mistakes; 2) I was dealing with a recurrence of the nausea/lightheadness/digestive issues I experienced during my taper, and wanted to see if she had any thoughts about that.  If she didn't, the next step for #2 (har-de-har-har) was the GI doctor - and I didn't want to go there.  GI doctor appointments generally result in unpleasant procedures requiring consumption of nasty stuff.

As it turned out, the answers to questions 1 and 2 were the same, and annoyingly simple. 

The short answer: woefully low salt intake.  The longer write up?  It's below.


As background, I used to have major salt cravings and was never without a salt shaker.  I literally caked it on everything, and felt crappy if I didn't.  I also had low blood pressure.  Then I went on calcium channel blockers this spring, which had the happy and completely unexpected consequences of raising my blood pressure to normal and eliminating the salt cravings.  Woo.  I stopped caking everything with salt and embraced normality.

Fast forward to my taper for Philly.  During the training cycle, I ate about 90% healthy, but also indulged in tortilla chips/salsa and gluten free cookies- my weakness.  For the taper, though, I decided to cut out the junk food, and just eat quality food.  I don't eat processed foods, with the exception of the aforementioned junk food, so my diet was basically eggs, chicken and buffalo, potatoes, rice, and veggies, all flavored with a small amount of butter or olive oil.  Plus hydrating with water mixed with Ultima - my preferred electrolyte mix.

Ultima has no salt.  And the foods I was eating had very little salt included in them, since they weren't processed and I wasn't adding salt.  And I had cut out my chips and salsa and cookies, which were how I was getting my salt while training.

No salt is bad.  The body likes to keep a balance, so when I wasn't getting in enough salt, my body just dumped water like crazy to keep the balance and avoid hyponaetremia (which is both trendy to reference and hard to spell).  The ironic result was that I actually was dehydrated despite peeing clear and often.  It was all just going through me.  And I was dealing with nausea and shakiness and problems concentrating, but attributed it all to taper and marathon nerves.

So the marathon happened and I crashed and burned in a way that appeared to be hydration related, even though I drank a ton and it was a cool day, because I didn't include ALL the necessary electrolytes.

And after the marathon, I hit the salty junk food through Thanksgiving, but then cut it out.  I knew my body was really beaten up, so I decided that I needed to prioritize quality food to promote repair until the quads stopped feeling like hamburger meat.  And...sure enough, I started feeling nauseous and sloshy stomach and dizzy again.  But I didn't make the connection.

I was so used to being the person that caked salt on everything - it never occurred to me that I might now be salting too little.  Especially since I was using the Ultima, and never realized that it didn't include salt, because it had never been an issue before.

So, I've added salt back in, and the nausea and lightheadedness has drastically improved.  Ridiculous.

Obvious question #1 - But weren't you craving salt massively?

Yes, but I thought I was craving junk food, and resisted.  Everyone loves chips and salsa and cookies, right?  And because my past heavy use of salt had approached cliche, it never occurred to me that I might be too low on it now.  As for the lightheadedness and nausea?  I thought it was just nerves/taper paranoia.

Obvious question #2 - And don't you feel really really stupid now?  And a bit embarrassed (and yet perversely compelled to blog about it?)



Monday:   Yoga in the morning; foam rolling at night.

Tuesday:  6 "miles" of pool-running in the morning plus some injury prevention/upper body weights.  Prolotherapy in the afternoon.

Wednesday:  Massage - heavily quad focused.

Thursday:   3 miles easy running (9:01 pace) and yoga, plus some injury prevention/upper body weights.   Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  4.5 miles easy running (8:54) and 2500 yards easy swimming, plus a yoga class.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:   4 miles easy running and 4 miles pool-running.  Yoga in the afternoon, plus some foam rolling.

Sunday:  7.5 miles easy running, including casually running a holiday 5K with some friends.  Followed with 2500 yards easy swimming and some injury prevention work.  Yoga and foam rolling at night.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Training log - Week ending 11/30/14

This week was 0 miles of running, 20 "miles" of pool-running and 2000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

Recovery week.   Raising the question of how to best recover?  Go completely sedentary, or do some activity?  Throw dietary caution to the wind or focus on nutrition?

I'm certainly no expert, but in my opinion, recovery is both mental and physical.  The first few days for me were pretty light on the fruits and veggies and sweet potatoes and lean meats, and heavy on the gluten-free cookies and turkey drumsticks with the skin on.   Perfect nutrition might have been better for the body, but it was restorative to do a traditional ugly American Thanksgiving.

As for activity, I _attended_ yoga the day after the race.  Which doesn't mean I really participated in the class.  I showed up at Tranquil Space, did the opening stretching bit, and then childs-posed my way through much of the rest of it, though I did do a few gentle lunges.  It did feel good to move my legs through their general range of motion - probably much better for recovery than just laying around.

[that's the great thing about having an unlimited annual yoga membership -- since I'm not paying by the class, I really don't feel any pressure to do the whole class - it's not like I've wasted money if I just do happy baby for 40 minutes].

And that was pretty much how the rest of the week went.  I went to yoga each day, gradually expanding on the amount of the class I was actually doing, and branching out to more intense classes.  By Thursday I was pretty much doing the whole class, though my chair pose was...restrained.  I did some pool-running also, though it was not at all intense - just gently wiggling my legs in the water while chatting.

My quads were tight enough to gimp up my walk for most of the week, though they finally felt better on Sunday, enabling me to walk like a normal person. I can now get up from a chair (or toilet) without using my hands to assist.  It's the little things, y'know.

As of Monday, they are still shaky and weak, though.  Which seems ridiculous since we're now 8 days post marathon - by this time after my first marathon I was feeling just about normal.  The other signs of overreaching  have resolved - my resting HR is back where it should be, and I'm sleeping soundly.  I'd like to start up with some gentle jogging, but I'm debating whether that's a good idea, given that the legs seem to still be recovering.  I don't know whether doing some easy jogging will make my legs feel better, or slow my recovery. 

My plan is to take a few more non-running days, and do some more foam-rolling and other recovery stuff.  If the quads are still shaky in another few days, I may try some gentle short jogging to see if that makes a difference.


Monday:   Lie on my back during a yoga class in the morning; foam rolling at night.

Tuesday:  Half-assed yoga in the morning; massage at night.
Wednesday:  30 minutes conversational pool-running plus a quarter-assed yoga class.  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Thursday:   30 minutes easy pool-running and a yoga class (full-assed).  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  70 minutes conversational pool-running and a yoga class.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:   70 minutes conversational pool-running and a yoga class.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday:  2000 yards swimming and a yoga class.  Foam rolling at night.