Sunday, December 27, 2015

Training log - Week ending 12/27/2015

This week was 65 miles of running, 2000 yards of swimming, and 7 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

This was my first full week of training, post-marathon, and it's great to be back in the familiar rhythm: intervals/hills on Tuesday, something tempo-ish on Friday, and a long run on Sunday.

Of course, there were a few deviations this week.  On Tuesday, I woke with a sore throat, so I opted to go back to bed and skip the team hill workout.  Later that morning I felt better, so I decided to take a "lunch break" from work and go for a run, perhaps run a hill or two.  As it turned out, I felt better as I went, and ended up cranking out 7 hill repeats, each one of them solid and faster than the previous week.  

The fact that I could have a great workout also demonstrated that I wasn't really sick - it was just my mold allergies popping up with a vengeance due to the unseasonable (and unreasonable) combination of warmth and moisture that we've had in DC this past week.

I normally tempo on Friday, but of course that was Christmas Day this year.  I debated running it on Thursday morning instead, but opted to wait: I wanted the extra day's rest between hills and tempo.  I'll also fess up that Thursday was miserably rainy and warm (in the 70s), while Friday morning was a bit better. 

Xmas team photo.  I'm in the center in the longsleeve
(which was tied around my waist while running
-it was nearly 70 degrees.)
So Christmas morning came, and I treated myself to 2x2 miles around Hains Point, timing my cooldown to meet up with some of my teammates in front of the National Christmas Tree by the White House.  Though it was far from my "best" tempo pace-wise, there was magic in tempoing by myself on a deserted peninsula through the mists as the sun rose.  I ran hard, with a smile.  And then I met my teammates by the Christmas tree, and that was special too.  Running the streets of Washington DC on Christmas morning is reliably one of the best runs of the year.

On Sunday, I did another not-quite-a long run of 12 miles progressive.  I'm running a net downhill half-marathon in late January, so I was glad that today's route had the "fast" part of the progression on a downhill that's just a bit steeper than my half-marathon.  I intentionally pushed the pace to close to half-marathon effort for the final miles, to give my quads a bit of "fastdownhillrunning" proofing.

As an aside, it's interesting to note that my pace for my 2x2 mile tempo on Friday was slower than the final four miles of Sunday's progression run.  Friday's run was definitely the harder workout by far, but it was done on flat ground with temperature and dew point in the high 60s.  By contrast, Sunday's run was in significantly cooler conditions, with a solid downhill assist.  To me, this reflects the importance of training off of effort rather than pace.  And also that I'm one of those people that really gets a speed boost from downhills.


Monday:   Yoga plus 7 "miles" easy pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday:  11 miles, including a hill workout of 7 repeats up Iwo Jima (~500m up, then 200m jog, 100m stride, and 100m jog down to base of hill.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 3 miles very easy (9:57 pace) to yoga, and then a yoga class.  Followed with 7.5 miles very easy (9:08) plus some drills and two strides.  Sports massage at night.

Thursday:   2.5 miles very easy to the gym (9:57 pace) followed by some upper body weights and core.  Then did another 7.5 miles very easy (9:20).  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  11.5 miles, including 2x2 miles at tempo effort with 4:30 jogging recovery.  Splits were 13:35 (6:49/6:46) and 13:15 (6:43/6:32). Followed with lower body strengthwork, foam rolling, and 1000 yards recovery swimming (yes, there was a gym/pool open on Christmas day).

Saturday:   10 miles easy/aerobic (8:16), plus drills and two strides.  Followed with weights work in the gym and foam rolling.

Sunday:  12 miles progressive, split as 2 miles at 8:57 pace, 6 miles at 8:18 pace, and then 4 miles at 6:38 (downhill, but into a headwind).  Followed with lower body strengthwork and yoga.  1000 yards easy swimming and foam rolling later.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Training log - Week ending 12/20/15

This week was 53.5 miles of running, 3000 yards of swimming, and  6 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

I did my first workout since the marathon on Tuesday, followed by my first race since the marathon on Friday.  Both were pleasant surprises, in that I'm in better shape than I thought.

Which doesn't mean I'm in good shape right now, but that's not the point.  I feel rebooted from my few weeks of "do what the heck I want" and that's good.

I'm about a month out from my half marathon on January 24th, and  I've only got two runs longer than 12 miles scheduled before that race.  I'm guessing that this is because I've still got a ton of strength left from the fall cycle, so there's no need to work on that right now.


Monday:   Yoga plus 6 "miles" easy pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday:  9 miles, including a hill workout of 7 repeats up Iwo Jima (~500m up, then 200m jog, 100m stride, and 100m jog down to base of hill.  Followed with injury prevention work and 1250 yards recovery swimming.  Sports massage at night.

Wednesday: 6 miles very easy (9:30 pace) to yoga, and then a yoga class.  Followed with 4.5 miles very easy (9:17) plus some drills.  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday:   2.5 miles very easy to the gym (9:44 pace) followed by drills and four hill sprints, and ome upper body weights and core yoga.  Then did another 5.5  miles very easy (9:40).  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  3.5 miles very easy (9:10) plus drills and strides.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:   10 miles, including a not-quite-6-mile race in 38:29.  Followed with yoga and foam rolling; 1750 yards of recovery swimming in afternoon.

Sunday:  12.5 miles very easy (9:01 pace) plus drills and four hill sprints, followed by yoga.  Foam rolling later.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Race report: PVTC Christmas Caper 10K, December 19, 2015

I ran the PVTC Christmas Caper "10K" yesterday, finishing in 38:29 - a substantial PR.

[In case you haven't guessed, the course was significantly short.]

Despite (or perhaps because of) the mis-measured course, I was pretty happy with the race.  I really just wanted to get back out there and race and have fun and remember why I enjoyed racing.   And this low key inexpensive hand timed small race fit the bill perfectly, and let me do just that.

When signing up for this race, I had my choice of running 5K or 10K.  After thinking about it, I decided to go with the 10K.  Any fitness I have right now is just the remnants of my fall marathon training cycle, and I am far from sharp - the only fast running I've done since before Thanksgiving was a cautious hill workout on Tuesday.  I figured that, given my lack of fitness and training, I'd be running the same pace whether I raced 5K or 10K.  So I might as well race the 10K.

I did have a bit of trepidation about the longer distance, though.  With so little speedwork, I didn't know how I was going to handle 6+ miles of fast running.  However, I rationalized that I couldn't have lost all of my marathon strength, and that would carry me through.  Plus I have a half-marathon in late January that I'd like to run fast at - the 10K would be a better workout.

The other concern about the 10K course was the course itself.  The 5K was one out and back, while the 10K would be two loops, turning just short of the finish line to head back out again. 
That's a bit mentally challenging, especially when you have some trepidation about the length of the race to begin with.  But I decided to don my big girl panties and give it a shot - I'd just go out at tempo effort for the first loop, and then up the effort for the second loop.


As it turned out, race morning featured perfect running weather.  The forecast had been for very windy conditions, which would have been miserable on the exposed peninsula that is Hains Point.  But the wind held off until after the race, giving us crisp and clear conditions for the race, with just a slight wind from the south.

I met with my teammate Patrick to do my standard warm-up - 3 miles very easy.  When he headed over to the start line for the 5K (which started 10 minutes before the 10K), I shifted to drills and strides, plus a pre-race inhaler puff.  Then I lined up with others behind the freshly painted start line.  At these small races, it's always hard to figure out who your competition is.  I noted a few other women who looked like they might be about my speed.  [by the way, this whole visual assessment is quite amusing, given that I don't necessarily look like "my speed."].  I also noted one very young looking blonde girl, either in high school or in college, who looked like she could be fast.  Or she could just be young.  Either way, I'd find out in a few minutes.

The starter sounded "go" and we were off.  I managed to tug on my own reins pretty quickly and restrain myself to tempo effort, letting other surge ahead of me.  Young blonde girl, on the other hand, exploded off the line like a lightning bolt.  I watched her fly, fairly amused.  Going with her was not an option.  Either she was REALLY fast, or she was a high school kid pacing her race like most high school kids, and was going to have a very painful race.

Per my plan, I held tempo effort for the first out and back - an effort level which allowed me to slowly close the gap on several runners male and female.  By the halfway point, I was in third place for women, with the second about 30 seconds ahead of me.  As for young blonde girl?  She was literally out of sight.  

For the second loop, I tried to up the pace a bit, but wasn't really able to.  I think my limits here were mental, not physical.  Since I haven't done much in the way of hard running recently, I'm out of mental shape right now.  I'm not currently able to be comfortable and relaxed while running really hard and hurting, so I didn't let myself push it to that point.  I'm not too worried about this - it will come back with a few workouts.

I was fortunate enough to pull along side of a male runner partway through the second loop.  Sometimes I'd build a small gap on him, and then he would fight his way back.  For the rest of the race we dueled - it was awesome, because it distracted me from the discomfort of racing, and gave me some much needed mental practice.  At the same time, I could also see the second place woman, and realized I was closing the gap on her.

Unfortunately, before I was able to catch up to her, the finish area came into sight.  Mr. Male Runner (for lack of anything else to call him) started kicking, and I responded. We were neck and neck coming into the corral, but he did manage to edge me at the last second.  No problem - I was so happy to have the chance to practice battling someone else to the finish that I actually didn't care which one of us won - it was the practice that mattered.

As we came through the finish, the clock read 48 minutes.  I knew immediately that was wrong - no matter how out of shape I was, there was no way I had run 48 minutes for 10K.  I then looked at my Garmin, and saw "38:29".  I had about 2 seconds of "holy shit" and then I noted the distance - less than 6 miles.  Yup, the course was way short.  Ah well.

While others were upset about the course (it appears a volunteer misplaced the cone used for turnarounds 1 and 3), I wasn't terribly mad.  I'd have been pissed off if I had paid a lot of money for this race, or if I had been in good shape and targeting a PR.  But neither was the case.  I signed up for this race to get a hard run in, to practice racing, and to have fun.  I achieved all three and also managed to kick my post-shitty-marathon blues, which have been lingering since Philly.  All in all, it was a good morning.

As for fast young blonde girl?  She won the race overall, finishing the short course in just over 33 minutes.  I did some googling afterwards, and read that she had a PR of 33:xx for the 10K on the track.  Just goes to show, no matter how lowkey the race, you never know who is going to show up.


Splits from my Garmin (set to autolap) were:
Mile 1: 6:40
Mile 2: 6:44
Mile 3: 6:44
Mile 4: 6:38
Mile 5: 6:39
Last .79: 5:05 (6:26 pace).

According to my Garmin, the total distance was 5.79.  My Garmin is usually very accurate on Hains Point.  On the other hand, my Garmin does like to short change me on hairpin turns, assuming that I turned sooner than I did.  That may have happened some here, as I know that miles 2 and 3 were run much harder and faster than Mile 1, despite the splits above.  But even if my Garmin was inaccurate, there's still no way this was a 10K, and probably not even close to 6 miles.  But again, I wasn't up for a PR, just for a good time and a chance to race someone else, so it doesn't matter in the end.

Other notes:

  • Weather was 32 degrees at the start - perfect.  I wore a long sleeve and tights for this race, which is more than I'd normally wear for a 10K in these conditions.  But again, I was racing this for fun, not a blazing time, so why not be a bit more comfortable at the start line.
  •  Looking at my Garmin after shows that my heart rate never got out of tempo range (low 170s) which is consistent with my perception that I never really hit true race effort.  I'm not too upset with this - running hard requires practice, which I'll get in the next few weeks.
  • With regard to asthma meds, I took a puff of Foradil in the morning, and then a puff of Albuterol right before race start.  The second (and perhaps the first) might have been unnecessary - my asthma is almost always a non-factor in cold December temperatures.  But there was no harm to playing it safe.
  • As part of my ongoing caffeine experiment, I also had a Sea Salt Chocolate GU in the morning, plus one Black Cherry shot blok.  It seemed like they helped some.  And they were also yummy, so that's a plus.
  • My normal taper for a 10K is 6-8 miles with a mile pick-up at 10K pace two days before, then short and easy the day before.  Since I just started workouts again, I skipped the mile pick-up this time.  It just seemed like overkill to start back with a hill workout, then a mile pick-up two days later, and then a race two days after that.  Better to go into the race cold than cooked.
  • Won my 10 year age group and got a Christmas ornament.  Asked if they had any that were cat safe, and got a strange look.  Oh well.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Training log - Week ending 12/13/15

This week was 60 miles of running, 5000 yards of swimming, and  4 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

This was my last week of ramping back up from the marathon before jumping into workouts.  I hit 60 miles, which is roughly where I'll hold my mileage for a while.  I've found that I get much more injury prone when I drop too far below 60 - my best guess is that I need a decent bit of mileage to stay strong enough to reduce injury.  At the same time, there's really no need to go much higher.  I'm not training for a marathon, and I've certainly got a strong base from the last marathon training cycle that should persist for some time.

As part of my reverse taper, I increased my drills and strides.  I also cut back my yoga some - I've now got my strong core and leg stability back, so my time is better spent on other things. 

One of those things was harder swimming, including 5x100 yards hard on Wednesday, and 10x100 yards hard on Sunday.  I did this to give myself a little mental prep for returning to speedwork next week - the focus needed to complete workouts in the water isn't that much different from what's needed on land.  And it was fun, in that weird runner way, to push my heart rate up.

The hard swimming also gave me a chance to play with my new swimming heart rate chest strap.  Historically, Garmin heart rate straps haven't worked in the water - the ANT+ signal doesn't transmit through water.  However, the latest version of the strap has a memory function, and so stores your heart rate history during the workout, before transferring the data later when one is out of the water.  You still can't check your heart rate in real time, but you get to see the data at some point.

What I've found so far is that my heart rate for easy swimming isn't much different than it is for running.  In fact, it's slightly higher, which probably is an indication that I'm much more efficient at running than at swimming. 

However, during hard workouts, my swimming heart rate is lower than my running heart rate.
Here's my heart rate for Sunday's swim. 
Started and ended with easy stuff and drills;
Intervals (100yd hard on 2:00 base) in middle.
  Hard intervals lasting between 90 seconds and two minutes, with short recoveries, would have my heart rate up into the low 180s on land.  In the water, I peaked at 161.  Part of this is probably due to the coolness and the pressure of the water.  But my sense is that this also reflects that I am much more skilled at running than at swimming - I'm just not a good enough swimmer, technique-wise, to be able to push myself truly hard.

Next week I get to start running workouts (which means no more hard swimming workouts).  I'm excited to be back.  No long runs for me for now - we're capping my long runs at 12 miles until further notice.


Monday:   Yoga plus 4 "miles" easy pool-running and 800 yards easy swimming.

Tuesday:  8 miles easy (8:44) plus drills, plus some upper body weights and core.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 10 miles easy (9:01 pace), and then 950 yards of swimming, including 5x100 hard on 2:00 .  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday:   4 miles very easy to yoga (9:28 pace) followed by yoga and then another 6 miles very easy (9:26) plus some some upper body weights and core.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  5 miles very easy to yoga (9:22 pace), yoga, and then another 5 miles easy (8:42 pace) plus drills and two hill sprints. Later did 1050 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:   10 miles very easy (8:47), followed with drills and strides.  Then did upper body weights, core, and foam rolling.

Sunday:  12 miles aerobic  (8:08 pace) plus drills, followed with lower body injury prevention work and 2200 yards swimming (with 10x100 hard on 200).  Foam rolling later.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Training log - Week ending 12/6/2015

This week was 55 miles of running, 2200 yards of swimming, and  10 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

Second recovery week, and I'm feeling fairly good. I've kept most of my running very easy, but did let myself pick up the pace a bit on Saturday.  I'm also letting some of my easy runs become more "moderate" of lack of a better term.  Still very comfortable, but I don't feel the same need to keep everything to a crawl when I'm not running hard workouts.

This week I also reintroduced swimming and strides and drills.  I realized quickly just how much I missed swimming - it's ridiculous how great I feel post-swim.  On the other hand, drills and strides feel awkward and clunky, which likely indicates how much I need to keep doing them.

One more week until I start workouts again.

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

Tuesday:  4 miles very easy to yoga (10:12 pace) plus drills, yoga, and then 3.5 miles very easy (9:41), plus some upper body weights and core.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 10 miles very easy (9:46 pace), and then 800 yards of very easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday:   5 miles very easy to yoga (9:24 pace) followed by yoga and then another 3 miles very easy (9:06) plus drills and some some upper body weights and core.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  5 miles very easy to yoga (9:33 pace), yoga, and then another 3 miles easy (8:25 pace) plus 600 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:   12.5 miles aerobic (averaged 8:18 pace, started at 9:30ish, ended around 7:30 ish for last few miles).  Followed with drills and strides.  Upper body weights, core, and foam rolling in the afternoon.

Sunday:  9 miles very easy (8:24 pace) plus drills and strides, followed with a bit of very easy effort pool-running with friends and 800 yards easy swimming.  Yoga and foam rolling later.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Training log - Week ending 11/29/15

This week was 33.5 miles of running and  6.5 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

Marathon recovery week.  Though I was pretty trashed at the finish line, this is the smoothest and easiest marathon recovery has ever gone.  Part of it might be that recovery gets a bit easier each time, and part might be the effectiveness of my rule: NO SITTING FOR 45 MINUTES POST MARATHON. 

But Sunday's IV drip probably gets some of the credit too.  Too bad you can't do those things every time (doping regs).

For myself, marathon recovery is always a play it by ear type of thing - I don't ban myself from working out; I just limit myself to doing the things I want to do.    And I have wanted to run.  It's not some misguided attempt to preserve fitness (I know that it's best to let things relax and refresh).  Rather, it's because I truly enjoy running.  Every single run this week has been fun, and most of them have been punctuated by good conversations with friends.  Mentally, I'm much fresher this week than I would be had I sulked on the couch.

I also did yoga nearly every day (I skipped it on Saturday because I decided I didn't feel like it - see how that works?)  After a few weeks away from the studio, it was good to be back and see friends there.  I also found that my left hip sciatica has been fading away with my return to yoga - further proof that yoga truly is essential for keeping my hips and gait stable.

I'm going to take at least two more weeks away from workouts before doing any hard running.  Though I'm not sore, I still have the deep down fatigue that follows any marathon.  That needs to pass before I can train again.

Monday:   3.5 "miles" easy pool-running; massage at night.

Tuesday:  Yoga and 3 "miles" of pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: yoga, 3 miles easy (8:59 pace), and some light upper body weights.  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday:   6 miles easy (9:03 pace) followed by yoga and a whole lotta food.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  4 miles easy to yoga (9:09 pace), yoga, and then another 2 miles easy (8:52 pace).  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:   8.5 miles easy (8:49 pace).  Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Sunday:  10 miles easy (8:30 pace), followed with some injury prevention work, yoga and foam rolling.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Training log - Week ending 11/24/2015

This week was 46 miles of running and 5 miles of pool-running  -- training log is here.

This is a tardy place holder for my last week of taper before Philly Marathon.   I'm well into my first recovery week now, and I can confirm that the 20 minutes of easy pool-running on Sunday night helped a lot (as did the incidental IV drip). 

My plan for recovery is the same as for all my other marathons - no strict schedule.  I'll start back with very easy yoga and pool-running, plus some swimming for fun.  When a) nothing feels too sore and b) I can execute a yoga class reasonably well, then I'll start running again.

I use yoga as my "test" for running because I think it's safe.  For one thing it's slower and low impact, and I'm more likely to back off of something ouchy in yoga class than while on a run.  Also, the balancing poses in yoga are a good self-check.  If I can't balance on one leg in yoga, then I'm not stable enough to be running without risking injury.

I'm going to take some downtime (not inactivity, just easy exercise) as a reboot, and then start training again in mid-December.  I'll run a half-marathon at the end of January for fun, and then try to set some shorter distance PRs in March and April.  I'm also planning on a four miler on New Years Eve.  My current 4 mile PR is from 2008, and is at a slower pace than my current half-marathon PR.  So hopefully I should be able to knock that one down.


Monday:   3 "miles" easy pool-running in the morning, foam rolling at night. 

Tuesday:  In the morning, 7.5 miles, including a track workout of 4x800 (3:04, 3:07, 3:02, 2:57).  Foam rolling at night.
Wednesday:  In the morning, 4.5 miles plus drills and strides (9:03 pace).  Massage at night.

Thursday: 4 miles very easy (8:40) plus drills and strides.  Foam rolling at night

Friday:  4 miles easy (8:16 pace), plus drills and strides, and foam rolling.

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

Sunday:  Philadelphia Marathon in 3:22:28.  20 minutes very easy pool-running (2 "miles") in the evening.  Late night IV drip as part of what turned out to be a completely unnecessary ER visit.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Race report; Philadelphia Marathon, November 22, 2015

I ran the Philadelphia Marathon on Sunday, finishing in 3:22:xx.

And...that was my slowest marathon ever.  Despite a strong training cycle and a boatload of confidence going in.

And...I think I'm done with marathons for a while.   I love the training, but I don't train to train, I train to race.

So...with that intro, how was the race?

The taper the week before went much the way one would expect, with various bits of paranoia (does anyone not get that way).  My sinuses stayed scratchy and slightly achy, my sciatica acted up, and carbloading made me feel awful.  But that's all normal for taper - some judicious use of neti pots, stretching, and Pepto had me feeling good.  I hitched a ride up to Philly on Friday night - settling into my nice room at the Embassy Suites.

As an aside, I strongly recommend the Embassy Suites (very close to the race staging area) as the best place to stay for Philly.  It's definitely expensive,  but having your own private bathroom right outside the start line is priceless.  The Embassy Suites also offered free breakfast (great for the non-marathoning significant other) and complimentary late check-out on Sunday for marathoners.  Plus one of my favorite perks - a well-equipped gym with stretching mats and my choice of three foam rollers.

Saturday was intentionally very chill.  In the morning, after a big carb-heavy breakfast, I headed over to the expo to grab my bib.  That task accomplished (I happily noted that the race t-shirt was black - my preferred color), I headed next door to the Reading Terminal to meet up with a friend from the Runnersworld online forum.  Then back to the hotel to meet Brian.  Brian and I grabbed lunch together, and then hung out in the room, watching the second Avengers movie and ordering room service for dinner.  I stuck with the same eating plan I followed before my long runs - a solid carb-heavy lunch and a light dinner.  And lots of water with Osmo.  I was actually pretty nauseous at this point - mostly because I was just sick of carb-loading.  But the stomach issues cleared up over night.

Sunday morning, I was up at 5:15 to eat my breakfast (same as for my all my long runs), get dressed, and stretch.  While last year I had left the room at 6:30 in order to clear security, I assumed that this year security would take longer, due to the recent Paris attacks.  So I was out the door at 6:15, which resulted in me entering my corral at 6:40 - perfect timing for a 7 am start.  (It's important to note that I didn't need time to check a bag or use any portajohns; either would have required an early entrance.)

As it turned out, the race start ended up delayed by 15 minutes.  Not a big deal for me: as a marathoner I was planning on using the first few miles to warm-up.  I felt sorry for the half-marathoners, though - the benefits of their carefully timed warm-ups were waning with each minute.

Finally we were off.  There were pace groups at 3:05 and 3:15.  Since I thought somewhere between 3:05 and 3:10 was a reasonable goal, I had no intention of hanging with the 3:05 group.  I assumed the 3:15 group would be behind me, but if they pulled up, I'd hang with them.

As it turned out, the 3:15 pace group passed me fairly quickly - around the first mile.  This didn't worry me too much - the pace groups aren't always reliable.  I debated hanging with them, as we'd be heading into the wind soon, and they'd make a great wind block.  But I really wanted to be careful with my effort early on, as I knew some of the later miles would be into a strong headwind.  My intention was to run as slow as I needed in order to feel good at mile 20, so I could ride the strong tailwind home.

I felt sluggish and flat for the first few miles, but that's how I feel at the start of every run, so it didn't worry me too much.  Just relax, hang back, and stay on top of hydration and nutrition - 26 miles is a long way.

A few miles in, we turned into the wind.  I looked for others to work with as windblocks, but couldn't find anyone consistent - paces seemed to continuously fluctuate.  So I just ran on, trying to run as efficiently as possible.

Around miles 8-10 we hit the two large hills on course.  Both seemed pretty imposing, and the headwind didn't help much.  I tried to burn as little energy as possible on each, though both still felt harder than I'd like.  I was also disappointed that the headwind seemed worst on the downhill stretch between the two, meaning that I didn't take back much time on the downhill.

Around 10-11 we turned back towards the art museum.  At this point, a bit of a side stitch popped up.  It was concerning, but also mild, so I tried to ignore it and focus on my breathing - hopefully it would ease in a few miles (and it did).  At 12 miles, we approached the split for the half and full marathoners.  I grinned as I reflected on how much better I felt there this year, as compared to last year.  And then we were headed up Kelly Drive - away from the finish line and into the wind.

The wind was blasting pretty strongly - supposedly sustained at 15 with prolonged gusts to 25.  I looked for others to work with, but the population was much thinner now that the half-marathoners had left us.  And I also noted that those who were running my pace weren't running the tangents of winding Kelly drive, instead blindly following the shape of the road.  So I reluctantly opted to follow my own course, minimizing my distance covered.

As I noted above, I wanted to make sure that I'd feel good at mile 20.  So as the wind blasted us and I started to strain, I kept pulling back on the throttle - trying to keep even effort rather than even pace.  And to stay relaxed.  I wanted to come into mile 20 with energy in the tank for the trip home.

But even with all the restraint, by mile 17 I was fading. I kept drinking water and sucking on a gel, but neither seemed to help.  By the time I hit the turnaround in Manayunk, and finally had a tailwind, I was completely gassed, both mentally and physically.  It wasn't really a crash, but a feeling that I had no spark, no energy, and just didn't care anymore.  And so I plodded home.  I wanted to be done, as quickly as possible, but had no interest in fighting for a few extra seconds or minutes.

Splits are below

Mile 1: 7:53
Mile 2: 8:23 (long)
Mile 3: 6:37 (short)
Mile 4: 7:30
Mile 5: 7:25
Mile 6-8: 22:23
Mile 9: 7:18
Mile 10: 7:47
Mile 11: 7:25
Mile 12: 7:23
Mile 13: 7:23
Mile 14: 7:25
Mile 15: 7:31
Mile 16: 7:36
Mile 17: 7:53
Mile 18: 7:45
Mile 19: 8:01
Mile 20: 8:40
Mile 21: 7:42
Mile 22: 7:49
Mile 23: 8:17
Mile 24: 8:32
Mile 25: 8:06
Mile 26: 8:08
last bit: 1:32.

It's interesting to see these splits, as they show that I clearly didn't fall apart too horribly.  It just felt like I was running through water instead of air - a sharp contrast from how I felt during my long runs.

In retrospect, things I would have done differently?  There's quite a few.

The first is the training cycle - my coach believes that my training cycle was too long, and had too many long runs.  Though I only did two 20+ mile long runs, I had three runs of more than 18 miles, and five runs of 16 miles or longer.  It's worth noting that at this point, my coach knows me better than I know myself, and so I take his view here as the gospel.
At the time, I wondered if my struggles at Grandmas Marathon in June were the consequence of a very short training cycle.  But a longer training cycle only resulted in a similar struggle for a much worse time, without the weather excuse that I had at Grandmas.

Plus, I frankly prefer a shorter training cycle in the future, simply because it means that there's less invested in the damn race if it goes sour again.  I'd rather waste 6-8 weeks than the 14+ I did here.

I also think that I may have overdone the carb-loading.  Several of my teammates did a very heavy carb-load for the Chicago marathon, with great success.  So I tried to match them here, carb-loading much more than I have for any previous marathon, to the point where I felt sick to my stomach at times.  This was a massive change from my normal diet, which is generally more protein and healthy fat focused than the average runner.  In my daily life, I find that too many carbs make me feel bloated and sluggish - I run much better off of steak and eggs.  I'm thinking that the massive dietary shift in the days before the race may have hurt more than helped.

Finally, I think I backed off too much on my yoga and injury prevention work before the race.  It's a difficult balance, because those activities do add stress and fatigue to my legs, and so they need to be tapered.  But as I got into the last week of taper, I could also feel my gait falling back into old bad habits, with old injury spots and trigger points reawakening.  Next time I won't cut out that stuff until a few days before the race.

But "next time" for a marathon won't be for quite a while.  After previous marathons, good or bad, I was thinking about my next in the finishing corral.  Not here.  At mile 17 I decided I was done for a while, and I still feel that way several days later.  I'm going to spend the spring trying to parlay the fitness I built this fall into some shorter race PRs.

Other notes:
  • Carried a water bottle and refilled it with quick breaks at water stops.  I've figured out that if I uncap my handheld ahead of time, and talk to a water stop volunteer as I'm approaching, it only takes 2 seconds for he or she to dump a cup of water into my bottle - that's two seconds well spent.
  • Unlike last year, my quads held up great this year.  I have a theory that my coach's preferred long run route, which features a long stretch of downhill running, makes one's quads much more resistant to eccentric fatigue.  How I felt in this race certainly supports that theory.  
  • It was tough, but I didn't let myself sit down for an hour post-race, and dragged myself to the pool Sunday night for an short aqua-jog.  This helped a lot, as I felt much better on Monday morning than I expected to. epilogue (because it explains why I'm so late writing this report).  A weird thing happened during the marathon, right after the halfway mark.  My right eye got very "wonky" for lack of a better term - like it had been dilated at the optometrist.  I could still tell light from dark, but I couldn't focus it or see out of it.  Not itchy or painful, just not working.

I kept running, both because I was in continuous-forward-motion mode and because I thought it might be from some dust that was blown into my eye much earlier in the race.  I only really needed one eye to run anyway.  Several miles later, in Manayunk, it started working again, and I finished with two working eyes.

Later Sunday night, I was speaking to my father (a doctor) and mentioned the eye issue - was it worth calling an optometrist sometime next week for an appointment?   My father was much more concerned about the eye issue, noting that sudden vision issues, especially an inability to focus, can be an early warning sign of a possible stroke in women over 40 (and I'm 41).  So... he asked if I would mind getting it checked out that night at the ER.

It's apparently not hypochondria if you have a medical degree.

Somewhat reluctantly, I headed over (the ER is pretty close, so this wasn't a huge hardship).  It was now 9pm on Sunday, so there was no wait.  I was admitted right away, got my bracelet, and shuffled to a room where I waited for a doctor to shine a light in my eye, ask me what my name was, and send me home, so I could write up my race report.

Except it didn't quite play out that way.  After telling my story (including noting that some dust had been blown into my eye earlier), I found myself trapped by a blood pressure cuff, a heart rate monitor, and an IV drip.    Lovely.    At least the saline drip would be useful - I was recovering like a Salazar pro.

And then there was the blood draw and a trip off to radiology for a cat scan of my head (seriously?), before I was wheeled back to the little room where I waited for several more hours.  Finally, around 1:30 am, the results were in, confirming that I was fine.  I got home around 2 am and crawled into bed - an annoying appropriate ending to a lousy day.  And I can't wait to see the bill from this one.

But at least I got the saline drip. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Training log - week ending 11/15/15

This week was 56 miles of running and 10 "miles" of pool-running  -- training log is here.

And, I'm in full taper.  And the crazies are starting to hit.

Relevant to this is the fact that Brian got sick this week.  Really really sick. It's quite possible that he got the bug that I had the previous week, meaning immunity for me.  But I wasn't taking any chances -- my normal taper paranoia about getting sick went into complete overload.  

Not kidding.
Thus, I implemented my anti-germ protocol, at the Ebola level.  I changed the bedsheets daily; and my handwashing met the clinical criteria clinical for OCD.  And that's not mentioning the Listerine and neti pot use, or the vitamin C and zinc consumption.  Since all crises are best addressed by shopping, I also stocked up on antiseptic wipes - one dispenser for each countertop.

Brian was a hero and nobly quarantined himself in his basement mancave for the first two nights, relocating to our bed once I was up for the day (and no, I didn't ask him to do this - he's just boyfriend of the year).

After that, he returned to the bedroom for the evenings, and I invested in (wait for it) a flu mask to sleep in.  Those things ain't cheap - but peace of mind while sleeping is worth a lot.
Not kidding about this either.

Luckily, I seem to have avoided getting sick (or, as noted above, I'm the one that got him sick).  Scratchy sinuses and a mild headache all week have contributed to a sense of impending doom, but so far they haven't erupted into fullblown sickness- I think they're just my mold allergies acting up.

The extra time on my hands combined with taper madness also led me to run some stats on this training cycle.  By the numbers:

  • 17 week cycle - 14 weeks training plus 3 weeks taper.
  • I averaged 74 miles of running per week over the 14 weeks of training, including race weeks.  Also averaged 14 "miles" of pool-running and ~3500 yards of swimming each week over that time.
  • Cut out the race weeks, and I averaged 80 miles of running per week.
  • Raced five times: two 5K races early in the cycle (20:12 and 19:52), a half 10 weeks out (1:31.37), a 10 miler seven weeks out (66:28), and a 10K three weeks out (40:02).
  • Three "pick-ups" workouts of 4, 3, 2, and 1 miles at marathon pace effort with an easy mile in between.
  • Two long runs of 21.5 miles, each with the last third at marathon pace effort.
  • Five long runs of 16-17 miles distance (including one of the 4-3-2-1s).
  • Three long runs of 18-19 miles distance (including two of the 4-3-2-1s).
  • Two track workouts of 25x400 at 10K pace, with 100m recovery.
  • Four 5 mile tempo workouts on the track (plus two 5K tempos and a 4 mile tempo).
  • One skipped workout, where I felt lousy and just bagged the day (this workout was every bit as important as the workouts I completed - I think I avoided digging a deep hole by taking that day off).
  • Averaged 9:10 pace over my easy runs (which is why I was able to hold my high mileage).

Wow - when posted like that, it looks like a lot.  And I didn't even log all the sweet potatoes and brown rice and sportsdrink I used to fuel those runs (my grocery bill has been massive).

I do log my sleep (because the fact that I log it encourages me to prioritize it).  Over the 14 weeks, I averaged 7:45 hours of sleep per night.  Which likely has everything to do with my making it through this cycle uninjured and relatively perky.

So now I go into the final week of taper.  Eat, sleep, try not to do much else.  And don't cut out the junk food this time.

As for my goal for this marathon?  Easy.  I want to feel good in Manayunk (mile 20).


Monday:   5 "miles" easy pool-running in the morning and some light injury prevention work; foam rolling at night.

Tuesday:  10 miles, including a track ladder workout of 400/800/2x1200/800/400.  Split 1:31, 3:05, 4:36, 4:31, 2:57, 81.  Followed with a shakeout "mile" of pool-running. Foam rolling in evening.

Wednesday: 8 miles very easy (9:35), followed by drills, two strides, and two hill sprints and then some very light upper body weights work.  1.5 "miles" easy pool-running and foam rolling in the evening.

Thursday:   8 miles (9:11 pace), followed by drills and four strides.  1.5 "miles" easy pool-running and foam rolling in the evening. 

Friday:  10 miles, including a 5K tempo in 20:05 (6:34/6:29/6:18/0:44). 1 "mile" easy pool-running for recovery and foam rolling in the evening.

Saturday:  8 miles very easy in the morning (8:57) followed by drills and two strides.  Later some core work and foam rolling.

Sunday:  11.5 miles easy (8:35) followed by drills and two strides.  Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Training log - Week ending 11/8/15

This week was 60 miles of running, 10 "miles" of pool-running and 3000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

The week didn't start off too well, with a headcold.  The bright side was -  if you're going to get sick during a marathon training cycle, the beginning of a three week taper is really the ideal time to get it out of the way.  It was after my last 20+ long run, and far enough away from the race to get it out of my system.

By Wednesday, I wasn't 100%, but good enough to at least give the workout a try - another 25x400 at 10K pace, with 100m "float" in 30 seconds (8 minute pace).  The workout went well for the most part, though I definitely felt off and had to dig deep at times.  Once I got to 18 reps, my coach gave me the option of pulling the plug, but who wants to stop then?  I'd gotten that far - you better believe I was finishing the damn thing.

After that, it was easy running until Sunday, when I raced a 10K, finishing in 40:02 by my watch.  On the one hand, that time is a very good sign for my marathon two weeks hence, especially since my legs still were pretty tired from Wednesday, and from the whole cycle.  On the other hand, I was just 7 seconds off of my PR (which I think is weak), and ever so slightly on the wrong side of 40 minutes to boot.  And I can't help but think I would have made up those 7 seconds had I not chosen to gut out all 25 repeats on Wednesday.

But that's just one example of the trade-off of marathon training - you sacrifice optimal performances at shorter distances in exchange for one big race at the end.  (and hopefully that 25x400 will pay off in two weeks).  Which just makes me hungry for another season focused on shorter stuff.

I had idly wondered how good the 25x400 at 10K pace was as a predictor workout of an actual 10K.  Well.. on Wednesday, after subtracting my recoveries (which averaged 30 seconds, so they were honest), I ran 39:09 for 10K.  Then, on Sunday, I raced a 10K in 40:02.  So...maybe it's not that good a predictor.  On the other hand, I'm not sure this was a fair test, since the 25x400 and the 10K were so close together - the fatigue from the workout itself may have had a biasing effect on the race.  The clear answer is: I just need to race more 10Ks.

But that's not in the immediate future.  I need to taper and run a marathon first.  This upcoming week I'll pull back a lot more on the mileage - the hard work is all done now.  I was going to keep swimming on the schedule for another week, but since my sinuses still hurt (last remnants of the darn headcold) I'm just going to cut it now.

Tapering is HARD, though.  It's not that I'm fearful of gaining weight (it'll come off during the marathon) or losing fitness (I know I won't).  Rather, it's that over the past few months I've ingrained a habit of adding MORE any time I feel like I can.  More miles onto the end of my easy run if I'm feeling good; more repetitions during a track workout if I think I have them in me. In marathon training, you're always trying to add as much pure volume as you can handle, without falling prey to exhaustion or injury or unemployment or spousal/partner abandonment.

 Now, I have to go cold turkey for the next two weeks, and keep everything sharply limited.  No more running a few extra miles because I miscalculated my route or got into a good conversation or it's a beautiful day and I have the time.  And that's a habit that's really hard to break.


Monday:   Off.  Sick.  Nothing but some foam-rolling in the afternoon.

Tuesday:  4 miles very easy to the gym, (9:21) and then some upper body strengthwork.  Later, another 8 miles very easy (9:31), followed by drills and two strides.  2 "miles" of pool-running and foam rolling in afternoon.

Wednesday: 11 miles, including 25x400m at 10K pace with 100m active recovery on the track.  I'm not going to list out all 25 splits, but they averaged 93 seconds (my pacing was a bit erratic at times, unfortunately).  Recoveries averaged 30 seconds.   The full workout, with splits, HR, cadence, etc is here.

Followed with 4 "miles" easy pool-running and 1250 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling in the evening.

Thursday:   10 miles very easy (9:04), with a break for drills and two strides in the middle.   2 "miles" easy pool-running in the afternoon and foam rolling at night.

Friday:  7 miles, mostly very easy, but with a fartlek of 4x90 seconds moderately hard, 30s easy to get the legs turning over.  Followed with light injury prevention work and foam rolling.  2 "miles" easy pool-running in the afternoon.

Saturday:  4 miles very easy (8:51).   Followed with drills and strides and foam rolling.

Sunday:  16 miles, including a 3.5 mile warm-up, a 10K race in 40:02, and then a six mile cooldown.  Followed with 1750 yards recovery swimming and foam rolling.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Race report: Veterans Day 10K, November 8, 2015

I ran the Veterans Day 10K today, finishing in a chip time of 40:07.  Strangely, I'm both happy with this and a bit bummed.

I'm bummed because I believe I'm in much better shape than this.  I'm also a bit frustrated that I couldn't even break 40 on a good weather day and a fast course.

On the other hand, my legs feel like marathon legs.  They can keep going and going, but aren't tuned to speed.  They also felt very heavy this morning, which I attribute to the past three weeks of high mileage, plus last Sunday's 21 mile long run and Wednesday's hard track workout.  My legs are far from fresh.  Which isn't a horrible thing, because they don't need to be fresh now, as long as they're fresh in two weeks.

I'm a bit sad, because I missed an opportunity to run a great race here.  But there will be other opportunities - this gets me hungry for another season focused on shorter races.

So other than that, how was the race?  

Well...the race was held on Hains Point in DC, which is about as fast as a course gets without being assisted.  Hains Point is essentially a pancake, and the 10K course is also a lollypop-shaped route, meaning that there are no truly sharp turns to lose your momentum.  Super-speedy.

Hains Point can often be windy, as it was today.  But even when windy, it's still a fast course, and one primed for PRs.  And, of course, the weather was beautiful.

As is often the case, the wind was from the north, meaning that it would help us the most in miles 1 and 2, and hurt in the last few miles.  Unfortunate, that - I prefer a headwind in the first few miles, and a tailwind at the end.  My rationale is that it's a lot easier to find a group to tuck in behind at the start of the race, when runners are tightly packed.  By the last miles, we're more strung out, with each runner fending for him/herself.

After my normal 3 or so mile warm-up, plus some drills and strides, I lined up.  I felt tired, and I also felt unmotivated. I've experienced this before in other final pre-marathon tune-up races.. By this point in the cycle, I am so focused on the marathon in two weeks that it's hard to get myself to really focus on the immediate race.  But that was fine - this was a tune-up, and not my goal race.

For the start, I seeded myself decently back in the pack, since these races always start very fast.  Even so, I was surprised by how many people surged past me in the first mile.  It took a lot of mental effort to hold back, but I've made the mistake of going out too fast on this course before.  It can be a very painful last two miles if you charge out too hard.

As I noted above, my legs felt tired from the start, which was concerning.  On the other hand, I'm marathon focused, and 6 miles is nothing to me at this point.  I reminded myself of that fact and just took one mile at a time, holding a steady effort.

After mile 2 or so, I started pulling past other people.  I just held my effort and let it happen.  Around mile 4 or so, a pack that had been running near me picked up their pace substantially.  At this point, we were heading back into the wind, and so I tried to latch on to them.  However, I couldn't quite stay with them. so I had to let them go.  From there on, I just held my hard effort, doing periodic checks to see if my legs could pick up the pace (they couldn't).  And also reminding myself that I'm short, so the wind doesn't affect me the way it does taller runners.

As per my norm, I ran this race with my watch face blanked.  I was a bit disappointed to see 40:0x on the clock as I approached the finish line, but it was what it was.

Splits ended up being
Mile 1: 6:17
Mile 2: 6:20
Mile 3: 6:26
Mile 4: 6:31
Mile 5: 6:37
Mile 6: 6:34
last bit: 78 seconds.

(40:02 on my watch, but 40:07 for the race chip time - I'm not sure where the discrepancy came from, but I'm not going to worry about it).

Based on the splits, it looks like I went out too fast, but I don't think I did.  Certainly I didn't by effort.  I think the splits just reflect the effects of the wind - many people I spoke to had similar splits, including mile 5 being strikingly slow.

Also interesting was just how low my heart rate was in this race - it peaked at 172 - when I usually see in the high 170s at the end of a 10K, and average around 176-177.  I think this points (again) to me being REALLY aerobically fit, but residual fatigue not letting me push to my potential.  Which shows that I REALLY need to taper the next two weeks.

One reason I thought I could run faster was the workout I did on Wednesday - twenty-five 400m repeats at 10K pace with 100m floating recovery (essentially 30 seconds of running at 8:00 pace).  On Wednesday, my twenty-five repeats summed to 39:09, after subtracting the recovery.  I was curious as to how well this workout would predict my time.  Judging from today's race - not that well.  On the other hand, I think my legs were still tired from that workout, so perhaps this morning's race wasn't a fair test.

Time was supposedly good enough for second master female.  I suspect the "first master female" was a bib-swap, but there's no way to know for sure until the race photos come out.  PSA again folks - PLEASE DON'T SWAP BIBS.  Especially if you're in my age group.

Other notes:
  • Weather was awesome - temp 46, dew point 36.  The sun was bright, but that's why they make cool sunglasses, right?
  • Wore my flats (Takumi Sen) for this race.  I normally love these shoes, but they felt a bit strange this morning.  Possibly because I'm in marathon mode, so my stride is slightly different?  It was strange, but I really found myself wishing I had worn my marathon shoes (Boston Boost) for this race.
  • I have a preferred parking spot for Hains Point races - easy to get to from Virginia, and close to the start.  Alas, that area is under construction - imagine my surprise to find "my" parking area coned off.  Fortunately, I got to the race early enough that I was able to drive around and find another parking space.  Though it wasn't the same.
  • Used my Foradil inhaler in the morning; also used my Albuterol inhaler pre-race, though I don't think I needed to.  Breathing was good.
  • Took a Caramel Macchiato GU in the morning, to give myself a spike of caffeine and perk me up.  Alas, I still felt sluggish.  But at least the gel was yummy.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Training log - Week ending 11/1/15

This week was 87 miles of running, 17 "miles" of pool-running and 4000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

And. I'm tapering.  Just about the right time for it, too.   This last week the fatigue started to hit - I'm tired, though I'm still hitting good times in my workouts (and since I run them off of perceived effort, and don't see splits until later, I'm confident I wasn't overdoing them).

This fatigue is a good thing:  I think if you're ready to be done with marathon training during the last hard week, you've done it right.  If I had felt this fatigue a month earlier, it would have been concerning.  And finishing a training cycle feeling uberfresh can be disconcerting - "did I train hard enough?"

Both Friday and Sunday were big confidence boosts - I came into both feeling tired (with a mild sore throat to boot on Sunday).  Per my coach's advice, I ran both cautiously, with a conservative feel.  It was really nice to check the splits post run and see how fast I had run - they were my best runs this training cycle.  I'm in a really good place, fitness wise.

So now I just need to taper.  And since I know from times past that it's impossible for me to taper TOO much, I'll be cutting back fairly sharply.  Starting with a very easy Monday, since my sore throat has decided it didn't like Sunday's long run too much.

On my plate for this week - a set of 400s at 10K pace with 30 seconds recovery (exact # of 400s TBD by my coach on Wednesday morning) and a 10K race on Sunday as a final sharpener.


Monday:   Yoga and 7 "miles" easy pool-running in the morning; another 3 "miles" easy pool-running in the afternoon, plus foam rolling.

Tuesday:  14 miles, including a track workouts of 2x1600, 3x800 (6:22, 6:03, 2:57, 2:56, 2:55), followed by injury prevention work and 1250 yards of recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Wednesday: 8.5 miles very easy (9:20) to yoga, followed by yoga.  Later did another 8 miles very easy (9:12), followed by drills and two hill sprints.   2 "miles" easy pool-running and a sports massage in the evening.

Thursday:   5.5 miles very easy to yoga (9:34).  Later did another 5 miles easy (8:36 pace), followed by drills and two strides, and some upper body weights work.  2.5 "miles" easy pool-running and foam rolling at night.

Friday:  12.5 miles including an 8K tempo on the track in 32:35, split as 6:45/6:31/6:29/6:28/6:23, followed by injury prevention work and 1400 yards of easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:  12 miles very easy in the morning (8:45) followed by drills and two strides.  Later did upper body weights and 2.5 "miles" recovery pool-running, plus foam rolling.

Sunday:  21.5 miles progressive, split as first 1.5 miles at 9:34, next 5.5 at 8:34; next 7 at 7:28; last 7.5 at 6:55 (downhill assist).  Followed with some injury prevention work.  1350 yards recovery swimming and foam rolling in the afternoon.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Training log - week ending 10/25/15

This week was 85 miles of running, 19 "miles" of pool-running and 3000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

This week my schedule got mixed up a bit.  Normally I run intervals on Tuesday, tempo on Friday, and my long run on Sunday.  However, this week my long run shifted to Saturday (the Marine Corps Marathon on Sunday basically shuts down my regular long run routes).  As for my normal weekday track workouts, the two were combined into a single workout on Wednesday morning - the "25x400."

The workout is (as you would expect) twenty-five repeats of 400 meters each.  Normally, when I do 400m intervals, I run them at mile race pace (~85 seconds) with a very slow jog for 200 meters after each to catch my breath.  But for this workout, the goal was to run each repeat at 10K race pace (around 95 seconds for me), with short recoveries of 100 meters after each.  Furthermore, each recovery was to be run in 30-35 seconds (8:00-9:20 pace), substantially faster than the shuffle-jog I normally use to recover. 

The workout has two purposes - one is as a lactate threshold ("LT") workout.  By alternating paces above and below your lactate threshold, you are able to average LT effort for a longer time than you would during a continuous workout.

The other purpose is mental callousing.  It takes a lot of focus to run 25 repeats on the track, especially when you can't check out mentally during the recovery, both because the recovery is so short and because you can't slow down too much during the recovery. 

You never get to use the brakes during this workout - you just alternate how much pressure you have on the gas.  And while recoveries are a key aspect of any workout, they were integral here - requiring as much concentration and work as the interval itself.

And there's also the fact that, at the end of the workout, you've run 31 continuous laps on the track - a bit less than 8 miles.  This is because, after completing each 400, you run the 100 to the next corner of the track, so that each repeat starts and finishes at a new point on the track.  As my coach put it, the workout is a head game.

It's also a good simulation of the marathon in many ways.  A good friend who had done this workout several years ago advised me to start it conservatively and feel my way in - it's a long way to run, and if things go bad halfway through, you'll be suffering for a long time.  Just like a marathon.

And at multiple points during the workouts (starting about seven reps in, if you're me), you realize just how far you still have to go.  Just like a marathon.

But the beauty of the workout is that it also sets you up for success.  You just focus on running the current interval, and since each interval is just one lap of the track at 10K effort (or 100 meters at 8:xx pace), each interval is easily manageable and not that imposing on its own.  So you work your way through, taking one rep at a time and then you're at the last lap and it feels awesome.

As for how it went?  Fairly well, I think.  I heeded my wise friend's advice and made sure not to start too fast - this was pretty hard to do, since the pace feels so stupid easy during the beginning (again, just like a marathon).  I tend to be a rhythm runner, so once I got my feel for the pace of the interval and the recovery, it wasn't too hard to shift back and forth.  Not every interval was exactly 95 seconds, but they were pretty darn close, and I had enough left to "kick" into sub 6:00 pace for the 25th and final rep.

There was one hiccup: I realized early on (after the first rep) that I didn't know where the other 100m lines were on the track.  I was only familiar with the mark my team uses to start/finish our workouts, not the other three.  And in the darkness of the early morning, it was really difficult to see where the track was marked.  So I ended up working off of other things in the area where the 100m line should be - generally painted markings on the infield bordering the track.  Doing this way probably means that some of my recoveries were a few feet longer than 100m, while others were a few feet shorter.  I don't think this really mattered - what was important was that each 400m lap stopped at the same point it started and that the recoveries averaged out to 100m.

I did have one question about this workout.  It's done by runners with a range of abilities - on the one hand there are those who run 10ks in roughly 32 minutes, and so run their repeats in around 75 seconds.  On the other end, you have myself.  I run a 10K in about 40 minutes, and my repeats in 95 seconds.  So why do all runners get the same recovery of 100m in 30-35 seconds - a pace that is relatively much quicker for me than for them?

After thinking about it, I realized that it was because this is a lactate threshold workout, and we are trying to average LT effort.  Lactate threshold is generally defined as the pace one can hold during an hour-long race.  So...if you race 10K in 32 minutes, your 10K pace is a lot faster than your LT pace - there's a wide gulf between 32 minutes and 60.  On the other hand, since I race a 10K pace in 40 minutes, my 10K pace is closer to my LT pace.  In order for both runners to average to LT effort, the 40 minute 10K runner needs to keep the recoveries more active.  The 32 minute guys are running their repeats harder, and so get relatively easier recoveries to balance out the effort.

And that's probably also why this is not a workout that will work for runners of all paces.  At some point, a runner's 10K pace is too close to the recovery pace, and so the recovery pace is too fast for them.  At that point, it makes more sense for that runner just to do the standard continuous tempo.  The other option would be to give that runner more time for recovery, but if you do that, then the average effort for that runner won't be lactate threshold.  And the runner will also be on the track for a very long time.  The workout itself, excluding warm-up and cool-down, had me running continuous circles for ~52 minutes - I don't think it's a good idea for most runners to be running continuous circles for too much longer than that.  Crazy ultra runners, as always, excepted.

One more week of hard training, and then I taper.


Monday:   Upper body weights, yoga and 7 "miles" easy pool-running in the morning; 3 "miles" easy pool-running and foam-rolling in the afternoon.

Tuesday:  6 miles very easy to yoga (9:28) and yoga.  Later, another 6 miles very easy (8:48), followed by drills and two strides.  2 "miles" of pool-running and foam rolling in afternoon.

Wednesday: 14 miles, including 25x400m at 10K pace with 100m active recovery on the track.  I'm not going to list out all 25 splits, but the first 24 repeats averaged 95 seconds, with most being between 94 and 96 seconds (two outliers at 93 and 97).  Kicked on the last for 88 seconds.  Recoveries averaged 31 seconds.   The full workout, with splits, HR, cadence, etc is here.

Followed with lower body strengthwork and 1500 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling in the evening.

Thursday:   8.5 miles very easy to yoga (9:35).  Later did another 5.5 miles very easy (8:42 pace), followed by drills, two hill sprints, and two strides.  3 "miles" easy pool-running in the afternoon and foam rolling at night.

Friday:  12 miles very easy (8:56) and then some upper body weights work.  2 "miles" easy pool-running in the afternoon and foam rolling at night.

Saturday:  18 miles, including a 4-3-2-1 workout - intervals of 4, 3, 2, and 1 mile at marathon pace feel, with one mile recovery between each.  Splits were:

4 mile - 28:08 (7:08, 7:05, 6:58, 6:57 - gentle rolling hills)
3 mile - 20:49 (6:59, 6:56, 6:54 - gentle rolling hills)
2 mile - 14:11 (7:10, 7:01 - slight uphill)
1 mile - 6:44- slight downhill.

Averaged 7:00 flat pace for the 10 miles.  Followed with lower body strengthwork and 1500 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling in the evening.

Sunday:  8 miles running to the Marine Corps Marathon to cheer, another 3 miles running to other spots on the course, and then 4 miles back home.  All very easy.  Also did some upper body weights stuff.  In the evening, 2 "miles" easy pool-running and foam rolling.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Training log - week ending 10/18/15

This week was 86.5 miles of running, 16 "miles" of pool-running and 3000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

Well, this was a nice week.  Army 10 Miler really didn't beat me up, so recovery was relatively uneventful, and I was feeling relatively fresh (for marathon training) by Wednesday.

For the end of the work week and the weekend we had perfect weather.  Friday I was rewarded with one of the best tempos I've had in a while.  The splits my coach was calling were much faster than my perceived effort, so I just let myself cruise, reluctantly stopping at 5 miles since my coach didn't want me going longer.

On Sunday, I did "the loop" for the first time for my 20 miler.  The loop is my team's traditional long run route, which features a steady, sometimes sharp descent for the last five miles.  While I've done many 20 milers, I had previously avoided the loop due to the pain the long downhill finish caused my right groin/hip.  But that was before I had several rounds of PRP/prolotherapy to that area to heal a chronic tear in my groin.  I had tested running fast on that section a few months ago, and found that it no longer caused pain, so the loop was now an option.

And it was the easiest and most fun 20+ miler I think I've ever done.  Part of it was that I had a running buddy for almost the entire route - since I've historically done a separate route for my 20+ milers, I've always soloed the last 10-15 miles.  Having good company made the miles fly by.

The long downhill stretch at the end (plus tailwind) also made it easier.  I ran the final five mile section at perceived marathon pace effort, not checking my Garmin.  As it turns out, I ran it substantially faster than goal marathon pace, so I guess that's an oops.  But I don't feel terribly beaten up or trashed, and the effort was conversational, so probably no harm no foul.

New stairs
So yay for a successful week of training.

In other news, I'm adjusting to life in our house and new addition (not to be confused with New Edition).  The unifying theme of the house is stairs - it seems that any time I go anywhere in the house, stairs are involved.  I expect my hill running skills to improve substantially.

More new stairs, plus more boxes to unpack

old stairs.

And... a picture of our shower, which is our "party piece" in Brian's words.  Two person shower, with a central rainhead and a wand.  And in black with black grout, so I can dye my hair without too much worry.  We spent more on the shower than was practical, but it was worth it - I grin every time I use it.
I love this shower.


Monday:   Upper body weights, yoga and 7 "miles" easy pool-running in the morning; sports massage at night.

Tuesday:  7 miles very easy to yoga (9:24) and yoga.  Later, another 7 miles very easy (9:22).  1.5 "miles" of pool-running (pool closed early) and foam rolling in afternoon.

Wednesday: 8 miles very easy (9:16) to yoga, followed by yoga.  Later did another 8 miles very easy (9:04), followed by drills and two strides.   3 "miles" easy pool-running and foam rolling in the evening.

Thursday:   6 miles very easy to yoga (9:27).  Later did another 4.5 miles (8:48 pace), followed by drills and two strides, and then some upper body weights work.  2 "miles" easy pool-running and foam rolling at night.

Friday:  12.5 miles including an 8K tempo on the track in 32:37, split as 6:38/6:31/6:28/6:32/6:27, followed by injury prevention work and 1650 yards of easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:  12 miles very easy in the morning (8:45).  Later did upper body weights and 2.5 "miles" recovery pool-running, plus foam rolling.

Sunday:  21.5 miles progressive, split as first 2 miles at 9:52, next 5 at 8:41; next 7 at 7:47; next 2 at 7:23; last 5.5 at 6:38 (downhill with tailwind).  Followed with some injury prevention work.  1350 yards recovery swimming and foam rolling in the afternoon.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Training log - Week ending 10/11/15

This week was 55 miles of running, 16 "miles" of pool-running and 2000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

Tapered for and ran Army 10 Miler this week, which went well.  This upcoming week I have a 20 miler, plus lots more unpacking from the move.  Moving sucks, kids.  Especially when moving into a house that's still under construction.


Monday:   In the morning, some upper body strengthwork, yoga, and 7 "miles" easy pool-running.  2.5 "miles" easy pool-running and foam-rolling in the evening.

Tuesday:  12 miles, including a workout of 6x800 (split 3:07, 3:08, 3:04, 3:00, 2:58, 2:58)  followed by some injury prevention work and 1150 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling in evening.

Wednesday: 6 miles very easy (9:19), followed by a yoga class and then another 4 miles very easy (8:37 - not sure why so fast), followed by drills and four strides.   2 "miles" easy pool-running in the afternoon.  Sports massage at night.

Thursday:   8 miles very easy (9:24), followed by drills and four hill sprints.  1.5 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling at night.

Friday:  5 miles, including a mile up-tempo at 6:15.  Later did another 2.5 miles very easy (8:40 - downhill).  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:  4 miles very easy (8:54) plus drills, two strides, and two hill sprints, followed by foam rolling. 

Sunday:  2.5 miles warming up, 10 mile race in 66:27.  Followed with a lot of unpacking and 3 "miles" pool-running plus 850 yards recovery swimming in the afternoon.  Foam rolling at night.

Race report: Army 10 Miler, October 11, 2015

I ran The Army 10 Miler yesterday, finishing in a time of 66:27.

(this will be a fairly brief race report, as I'm still spending most of my free time unpacking and dealing with new house stuff, while trying to also balance work and marathon training)

I'm pretty happy with this race.  After the blow to my confidence from the Navy Half last month, what I really wanted was a race that went smoothly - fast but controlled.  And that's what I got.

I did try a different taper for this race.  For the Navy-Air Force half, I cut my running mileage some, and cut my evening pool-running completely, basically reducing the number of workouts I did.  This time, I decided to keep to my same schedule, including evening "doubles" in the pool, but instead cut the volume of each workout.

I think this worked well - I showed up to the race with my legs reasonably fresh.   I wasn't totally sharp, but I've learned that I really don't race my best at any thing shorter than a marathon when I'm marathon training.  I think it's a combination of legs that need a lot of time to shake off the residual fatigue of high mileage and also the fact that I seem to need to "train my gears" - it's hard for me to run at a specific pace if I haven't doing much training at  that pace.   And looking back at my training log, I've really done very little work at or near 10 mile pace - my focus has been on marathon pace running, interspersed with tune-up races.

More specifically here, I had the distinct sensation that the pace was relatively easy, both from a breathing and muscular perspective, I just didn't have any higher gears.  This would have been upsetting if Army was my goal race, but as a tune-up race for a late fall marathon, it was actually a really good sign.

After the mental downer that was the Navy-Air Force half, it was great to finish a race feeling strong, in control, and like I could have gone further.  And getting an age group award (3rd in women's 40-44) was a nice bonus.  I believe I was also 4th master female overall (I write believe because there's a few women ahead of me, but I suspect they were men running with women's bibs - this is why bib-swapping sucks, folks).

Mile 1: 6:51
Mile 2: 6:41
Mile 3: 6:52
Mile 4: 6:27
Mile 5: 6:38
Miles 6-7: 13:20
Mile 8: 6:38
Mile 9: 6:36
Mile 10: 6:25

My splits were a bit uneven, but I think that reflects even effort on a rolling course.  Army can be a very fast course, but it's NOT a flat course, and you have to be able to work the moderate up and downhills on the course.

Other notes:

  • Left at about 6:05 to get to the start, just to allow plenty of time for traffic, other delays, etc. 
  • Took a Maple Bacon Gu (very slightly caffeinated) during the race - 1/2 at mile 3, and 1/2 at mile 7.  In retrospect, I wish I'd taken it earlier in the race, since the peak of the caffeine buzz hit me post-race.
  • Didn't carry a water bottle this time since it was so cool and dry.  Just hydrated very well beforehand, and resolved to use a water stop if I needed one.
  • It was a very bright, sun-shiny morning.  I was massively grateful I wore sunglasses.  Temperature and dew point were perfect, though - low 50s.
  • Because of my struggles with allergies and related asthma, I swapped back to using Dulera as my long lasting inhaler.  Helped a lot - despite the pollen being present, my breathing felt pretty good.  But hopefully first frost will come soon.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Training log - Week ending 10/4/2015

This week was 82 miles of running, 7 "miles" of pool-running and 4000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

Moving week - I moved from my apartment to our almost-finished-construction house a half mile away.  Though the distance was short, moving is still moving and it sucks.  It was further complicated by the fact that our house has stairs.  Many stairs.  Which are architecturally appealing, but a pain for moving boxes around.

Fortunately, my coach and I had decided some time ago to build a "whatever" week into my schedule - a week with no major "must complete" workout, or big race.  So I scheduled my move for that week. It was nice to be able to move without any "MUST DO" workouts to worry about.

Even though I hired professional movers, there was still a lot of work to be done on my end - installing shelves in closets (I *love* Elfa), opening boxes and carrying stuff around, etc.   Plus, due to concerns about flooding from an imminent hurricane, I spent Thursday relocating many of my boxes from a seepage-prone basement up a flight of stairs.  Hurricane Joachim did decide to take a right turn and skip us - everyone in the mid-Atlantic can thank my and my box moving for that.  I assure you that we would have had a direct hit, had I left my boxes in the basement.  The end result was that I was pretty tired, with dead legs.  Lesson: don't expect to have a good track workout if you do an extended "stairclimbing with weights" workout the day before.

As you can see from the log below, I kept my running mileage up this week (with the exception of a shorter long run) but cut out a lot of my normal cross-training, including yoga, evening pool-running, and upper body strengthwork.  Part of this was that I only have so many hours in the day, and moving took up many of them.  Additionally, moving is a LOT of physical work, and reducing the cross-training kept my overall physical workload fairly consistent.  I think this was the best balance to strike to keep the marathon training moving forward without digging myself into a hole.

This coming week is a cutback, as I race Army 10 Miler on Sunday.


Monday:   Yoga, some upperbody strengthwork and injury prevention work, and 7 "miles" easy pool-running in the morning; foam rolling at night (plus packing).

Tuesday:  14 miles, including 3x (1600, 800) with half distance recovery (6:16, 3:01, 6:11, 3:01, 6:08, 2:54).  Then did some injury prevention work and 1500 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling in evening (plus packing).

Wednesday: 7.5 miles very easy (9:39), followed by a yoga class and then another 8.5 miles very easy (9:26), followed by drills and two strides.  Moved that afternoon.  Did foam rolling at some point.

Thursday:   10 miles very easy (8:57), followed by drills, 2 strides.  Also moved lots of boxes up stairs.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  14 miles, including a four mile track tempo in 26:47 (6:48/6:42/6:45/6:32) - legs just didn't want to move.   Followed with some injury prevention work and 1250 yards easy swimming.    Foam rolling and unpacking at night.

Saturday:  12 miles easy (well...high end of easy - 8:27) plus drills and two strides, followed by more unpacking.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday:  18 miles progressive, split as first 3 miles at 9:02 pace, next 4 at 8:30, next 3 at 7:40, last 6 at 7:10.  Followed with yoga.  Later did some injury prevention work and 1250 yards easy swimming plus foam rolling.  Also lotsa unpacking.