Sunday, May 31, 2015

Training log - Week ending 5/31/15

This week was 71 miles of running and 8 "miles" of pool-running-- training log is here.

Last week, I suspected I might be sick.  This week confirmed it.  Unfortunately, I went to a barbeque, yoga, and a movie (Mad Max in 3D) before figuring out Monday night that I had actually been sick, and thus contagious, the past day or two.  Oops.  I'm really sorry to anyone I exposed - I honestly thought it was allergies at first.

So...much of the week was a slog.  There's always the question of whether to run hard, run easy, or just rest when sick.  Since my symptoms didn't include any chest congestion or fever, I decided that I could run at very easy pace to keep my mileage up, while skipping the hard running and also the swimming, which kills my sinuses.

So that's what I did.  It was a real slog at times, and I worried that I was setting myself back when I felt like death after running.   But then, I noticed marked improvement each day in how I felt - sore throat receding, headache subsiding, and resting heart rate dropping back to normal.

By Friday, I was feeling sufficiently improved to try a tempo workout.  I still felt pretty lethargic, but we've had dewpoints in the low 70s recently.  Everyone feels lethargic in those conditions.  So, why not take a shot.

As it turned out - I wasn't as recovered as I thought I was - 3 miles at tempo effort yielded a pace slower than my goal marathon pace.  It was comic, actually - I felt like I was running with a backpack full of bricks in some variant of an Alberto Salazar workout.

It was so slow that it actually didn't rock my confidence at all.  It's funny how that works.  The workouts where you are straining but can't quite hit your splits - those are the ones that shred your confidence.  The workouts that are a full 30 seconds per mile slower than you expect to run...those ones are pretty easy to dismiss as outliers.

Plus I had just had a great marathon pace workout on Sunday - you don't lose that much fitness in 5 days.

But still, it was obvious that I was still really off.  After that workout, my coach and I decided to push back my last 20 miler, planned for Sunday, to Monday or Tuesday.  This would make sure I had enough time to kick the bug out of my system, with the added benefit of cooler weather than was predicted for this weekend.

[I have the flexibility at work to do this since I don't have any major meetings scheduled for Monday or Tuesday morning.  I'm pretty fortunate.]

Thus, my weekend was a holding pattern, with an easy 12 each day.  I'm ready to taper - in fact I feel like I already am tapering - but I need to get the last 20+ miler done first.  

Of course, knowing that I was moving my 20 miler to some other day took me to a whole new level of weather watching.  It's one thing to obsess over what the weather is going to be for the specific day you'll be running 26.2.  It's another to obsess over which of 2-3 days you should choose for a 20+ mile run. 

After spending way too much time on internet weather sites, I decided to take a shot at the 20 miler on Monday morning.  It's a tough call, because Monday morning is still supposed to be pretty hot and muggy, while Tuesday may be cooler.  But some sites are also pointing towards thunderstorms on Tuesday morning as a front passes through.  Though I'm usually game for running in all sorts of weather, I draw the line at lightning.  And I simply need to get this 20 miler done, and done on either Monday or Tuesday early morning (have an immovable conflict on Wednesday, and Thursday is getting too close to the marathon). 

At least I'm feeling a lot better, so that bodes well.

And, as for the obvious question from above - Would I have kicked this headcold bug thing sooner if I had just taken days off?  There's no way to know for sure.  My belief is that this is one of those bugs that takes about a week to clear anyways, and just lying in bed wouldn't moved it any faster.


Monday:   5 "miles" of easy pool-running plus yoga.  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday:  10.5 miles very easy (9:23).  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 3 miles very easy to yoga (9:56) and then a yoga class.  Did an easy 11.5 later (9:20).  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday:   4 miles very easy to yoga (9:03 pace), yoga and upper body strengthwork.  Later did another 6 miles very easy (9:02) plus drills and strides.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  12 miles, including a 3 mile tempo in 21:06 (7:08/7:06/6:52).  Followed with injury prevention work and 3 "miles" pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:   12 miles very easy (9:17 pace) followed by drills and strides, and yoga.  Upper body strengthwork in the afternoon.

Sunday:  12 miles very easy (8:49) followed by drills and strides, and then some yoga.  Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Training log - Week ending 5/24/2015

This week was 84 miles of running and 4000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

My mileage is a bit artificially inflated this week - since I raced last Saturday, I took Sunday as my non-running day, and so ran on Monday.  I also skipped Tuesday track and just ran easy miles.

Just one more hard week of training for Grandmas, and then I taper.  I'm feeling pretty good right now.  Well...except for what is either a bad case of allergies or a head cold that blew up on Sunday afternoon.  I had assumed it was allergies since I noticed it after spending a lot of time outside.  On the other hand, antihistamines aren't doing squat.

Whatever it is, I'm hoping it's a 24 hour thing.



Monday:   3 miles very easy to yoga (8:56), yoga and some upper body strengthwork, and then 4.5 very easy miles home (8:49 pace).  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday:  12 miles very easy (8:52), followed by injury prevention work and 1500 yards swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 12 miles very easy to yoga (8:54) plus drills and strides, and then another 2.5 miles very easy to the grocery store (9:07).  Massage at night.

Thursday:   6 miles very easy to yoga (9:16 pace), yoga and upper body strengthwork.  Later did another 3 miles very easy (9:15) plus drills and strides.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  12.5 miles very easy, including a long intervals workout of 3200, 1600 - splits were 12:48 (6:25/6:22) and 6:16.  Followed with injury prevention work and 1500 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:   12 miles very easy (9:33 pace) followed by drills and strides, and upper body strengthwork. Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Sunday:  17.5 miles, including a "4-3-2-1" workout - segments of 4, 3, 2, and 1 mile at marathon pace, each separated by one mile easy.  Splits were:

4 mile: 28:01 (7:03/6:59/6:58/7:01) ~ 7:00 pace
3 mile: 20:50 (7:03/6:54/6:53)  ~ /6:57 pace
2 mile: 13:52 (6:56/6:56) ~ 6:56 pace
1 mile: 6:55

Followed with some injury prevention work and yoga.  Later did 1000 yards easy swimming and foam rolling.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Training log - Week ending 5/17/15

This week was 45 miles of running, 6 "miles" of pool-running, and 4000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

This was a cut back week, as I raced a tune-up half marathon.  It was also a week of fail, as first my beloved fairly new Garmin 920 (yes, that one) and then my back-up Garmin 910 decided to crash.  Followed by the news that my much-loved car had finally reached the point where maintenance/repairs exceeded the value of the car.  All within the space of 36 hours.

My back-up Garmin failed during the first rep of my track workout, raising the runner's ultimate existential question - did a workout actually happen if it wasn't documented?  Fortunately for those who hang upon every detail of my track workouts, my coach was calling out the splits, so I just remembered what those were, and used google maps to guess the distance of my cooldown. 

[*obvious question: why is someone who normally runs with her watch face blanked so dependant on her Garmin?  Many reasons.  I like to have the information for after the fact, especially for racing, so I can prove that I ran the full course if the timing mats miss me (which has happened).   I like to use the heart-rate limit to keep a ceiling on my easy runs.  I like to have a good idea of how far I've run.  And I like covering the tan line on my wrist.

[Plus, once you've swum with a Garmin counting your laps, you'll never go back.  Especially if you never were a real swimmer.  Digression finis.]

By Friday, Garmin had shipped me a free replacement 920, which I christened in Saturday's race (worked beautifully).  The car was a bit harder and more costly to replace.  I ended up visiting three different dealerships to test drive four different cars, all of which were similar - "pre-owned" Mercedes GLK350s dating between 2011 and 2013.  I finally settled on this beauty. It matches both my Garmin and my Takumi Sen racing flats.  So that's nice.

Two more weeks hard training, and then I start tapering.


Monday:   4 "miles" pool-running plus yoga.  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday:  12 miles, including a workout of 2x1200, 800 with an extra 800 at the end in 4:33, 3:00, 4:30, 2:58, 2:56; followed by 1500 yards swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 7.5 miles very easy (9:04 pace) plus drills and strides.  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday:   6 miles mostly easy, but with a fartlek of 4x90 seconds on, 60 seconds off.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  3.5 miles very easy (8:51), plus drills+strides.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:   ~3 miles warm-up and then a half-marathon in 1:32:06.  2 "miles" recovery pool-running and foam rolling in the afternoon.

Sunday:  Yoga and 2500 yards easy swimming in the morning.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Race report: St. Michaels Half-marathon May 16, 2015

I ran the St. Michaels Half-marathon yesterday, finishing in 1:32:06.  It was one of my slowest half-marathons ever, but despite that, I'm pretty happy with it.

But before I discuss the race, I'm going to first bitch about Hertz - the rental car company.

(and yes, this is related to the race).

I've written and then deleted an extended discussion - this is a running blog, not Yelp, and so I'm not sure anyone wants to read me ranting to that extent (if you do, I will gladly do a second post).  The hyper short version is that I needed to rent a car to get to the race this weekend, and arrived at Hertz's counter at National Airport at 1 pm on Friday.  (my parents live about 40 minutes from the race, and about 2 hours from DC - my plan was to stay with them the night before).

It wasn't until 2:15 pm that I actually was able to drive away from the airport. This was not due to computer problems or car issues or anything other than some of the most abysmally slow and unmotivated customer service I've ever experienced.

This 75 minute delay cost me more than just that chunk of time, because at 2:00 pm the highway I was planning on driving through DC was shut down for a procession.  So I had to take an alternate route, which added more time, which then put me into the very rush hour I had hoped to avoid. 

And that was how, having left my house at 12:30 pm, I ended up rolling into my parents' place at about 6:15 - nearly 6 hours of transit.  I wasn't happy.


Fortunately the drive to the race in the morning went much more smoothly.  Though the half didn't start until 7:40 am, they had requested that runners be in the race by 6:30 am (this is because there's really only one road into St. Michaels, which is the same road that part of the race would be run on.

No problem - left mom and dad's around 5:15 am, and rolled in at around 6:00 am - enough to get a good parking spot right at the start (parking was well managed - they really had it down to a science).  I had over 90 minutes until race start, but I had stretching and warming-up and bag check to do, so it really wasn't that much extra time.

Except, there was no bag check. (To be fair, they had never promised it - I had just assumed).

The keys looked almost exactly
like this photo.
This was a problem, as I had been counting on bag check to hold my car keys.  I normally don't check car keys, but the rental car keys were both keys to the car chained with metal twine to a big plastic tag - far too big for any pockets.  And I've never felt comfortable leaving my keys on a wheel well (and these were likely too big to hide).

With no other options, I stuffed them in my sports bra.  I'll leave the chafing to your imagination; the official race photos featuring my large spiky left breast will be available on Tuesday.


I "warmed up" by jogging about 2.5 miles and then doing an extended stride to get my HR up.  I finished around 7:05 - very early, but the race management stated that we were supposed to be in the start area by 7:15 for the 7:40 start.  I didn't know if I'd be able to warm-up any more once there (as it turned out, we were able to jog).

I use quotations for "warm-up" because I was already pretty warm - this was one of the first really warm weekends in this area, and it felt more like June or July than mid-May.  Not ideal.  On the other hand, I was doing this race as a mid-training tune-up for a June marathon, so having to deal with this weather was good prep.

I got in the area at 7:15, and hung out waiting.  As it turned out, our race start was delayed until just about 8 am.  This was unfortunate, as the temperature and dew point kept rising, but nothing to do about it but keep drinking water.


Finally we started.  My plan had been to go out at about marathon pace feel for the first 3 miles, and then start dropping the pace and chasing people.   I was also carrying my handheld water bottle, which I'd run with until about mile 8 when I'd toss, per my normal practice.

It took some effort, but I successfully reined myself for the first few miles, holding back as I watched everyone pull ahead.  I have a much harder time holding back at the start of a half than for any other race.  I think it's because I tend to think of the 5K as the longer version of a mile, the 10K as a longer 5K, and the 10 miler as a longer 10K.  In contrast, I think of the half-marathon as the short version of a marathon, which leads me to all sorts of impetuous pacing decisions.  Which really suck once I belatedly remember that a half-marathon is indeed a long race.

I had planned to pick it up, but even 3 miles in, I was starting to notice the heat.  With 10 miles left to go, I decided it wasn't such a bad idea to procrastinate picking it up.  Plus, I was already starting to reel people in.  So I kept it conservative, and drank from my handheld water bottle like it was my best friend.

As the miles passed, I continued to modify my race plan.  At mile 5, I was still running in control, and felt like I could pick it up.  But I could also tell I was starting to bake a bit - though I hadn't really picked up the pace, I was working harder than marathon effort.  And I honestly didn't know where my line was, heat-wise.  So I decided to stay conservative a bit longer.

I did note one advantage of my handheld - I was passing a lot of people at water stations.  Almost every runner I saw was slowing dramatically at the water stations to make sure they got a full drink (smart).  But this also meant that I did a lot of passing at water stations as I held my pace and sipped from my bottle.


Mile 8 would have been a convenient point to drop my bottle (near the finish, so I could grab it after).  But by mile 8, that water bottle was my best friend.  Not only did I not want to toss it, I wanted it full.

So, for the first time in my running career, I came to a full stop at the next water station, and took some time to fill my handheld from some of the water cups.  Then capped it and started up running again.  I lost about 15 seconds by doing that, I'm guessing.  But I think I gained more than I lost.


I also modified my race plan again at mile 8, and decided to stay conservative a bit longer.  With 5 miles to go, though I wasn't in trouble and could pick it up slightly, I was feeling pretty darn hot and working pretty hard.  And I was passing down people consistently - I don't think a single person passed me after the 10K mark, while I passed quite a few.  So I decided to play it safe and wait to pick it up until the last hairpin turn, which was about 2 miles out.  Racing this long in weather this hot was pretty new to me, and 5 miles was still fairly far from home.

You can argue either that it was smart, or that I wimped out.  It was probably a bit of both.  But either way, I think it was the right decision.  There are times when one should dig deep and take risks, but 5 weeks out from your goal race on a very hot day probably isn't that time.  And that logic was ridiculously appealing at that point in the race.


By the turn-around at 11.5 my trusty water bottle and I had chased down all the women within reach.  I saw three ahead of me, including my friend and teammate Jillian who won the race (GO CAR)!  The was one guy who was slowly coming back to me, so I reeled him in and just kept running to the finish.  Per my usual, when I got to mile 13 I started kicking like heck, even though there was no one to beat - again, practice kicking every race, so you have it when you need it.

Then I was done, and I was very glad. 


Miles 1-2: 13:48
Mile 3: 7:01
Mile 4: 6:53
Mile 5: 7:00
Mile 6: 6:53
Mile 7: 7:15
Mile 8: 7:13
Mile 9: 7:21 (water stop)
Mile 10: 7:05
Mile 11: 6:59
Mile 12: 7:08
Mile 13: 6:53
last bit: 37 seconds.

Other notes:

  • This was a tough one, heat-wise.  Conditions at the start were temp of 70, dew point of 64; by the time I finished, the temp was 77, dew point 66.  Plus bright sunshine on a course that mostly lacked shade.
  • The race was also surprisingly windy, with a pretty tough headwind at times, especially during the middle miles.  Fortunately, the course had enough turns that you were never fighting the wind for too long. my friend PJ later noted, when it's as warm as this race was, you develop a new appreciation for the cooling effects of a headwind.
  • First sunburn of the season!
  • The course had three hairpin turns - for each of these, I made a point of taking 5 quick steps as I came out of the turn to get back into my groove - it worked well.
  • This was a really well managed and fun race.  Yes, I wish they had bag check, and I wish they had better weather.  But on the whole, I really enjoyed the race and would recommend it to others.  And the course could be a fast one, if they ever get good weather.
  • One weird thing was that I was pretty certain I finished the race in 4th place - I had counted women ahead of me at the last turnaround, and I wasn't passed after that.  So I was a bit surprised to learn that I was actually 5th, and second in my age group.  I suspected at first that it was a bib swapping issue (men running with women's bibs), but I looked up the woman who apparently beat me, and she's run comparable times to me in the past.  So I guess I must have just missed her while guzzling from my water bottle.
  • Don't judge - you would have looked her up too.
  • This race offers morning bib pick-up and the start, and it's very well run.  So no need to worry about doing pick-up the night before.
  • Net consensus from everyone who ran the race was that they were several minutes off of the time they had expected to run.  While the time on paper does bug me slightly, considering that 7 minute miles are my goal pace for a distance twice as long (that's just how I'm wired, folks), I'm still pretty happy with the race.  And my coach thought it was a great race for me too, given the conditions, so yay.
  • My time is just about an exact match to the half-marathon I ran in January in 18 degrees with high winds and large patches of ice.  The compare and contrast amuses me.
  • Hertz sucks.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Training log - Week ending 5/10/15

This week was 80 miles of running and 4000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

I had to travel to Kansas early this week to attend a memorial gathering for a family member.  I flew out early Monday morning, and though I could have possibly flown back the same evening, it would have made for a VERY long day (and a lousy Tuesday run).  So I stayed overnight and used the opportunity to explore Sedgwick County Park on Tuesday morning.
It had covered bridges!  Neat!

Sedwick County Park was a bit like Central Park.  Except smaller and lacking in tall buildings and people.  And hills.   It did have covered bridges, which Central Park lacks.  And also some nice "bike trails" which would be running trails for my purposes - a lap around the park was a bit more than 4 miles.

My plan was to drive to the park and start running around 5:30 am local time, which would give me plenty of time to finish, drive back to my grandfather's house, shower, and get to the airport.  It was a good plan, but not without hiccups.

For one thing, it turns out that Sedwick County Park doesn't open until 6:00 am.   In DC, a park being closed means that the bathrooms may be locked, or a single bar may block the entrance.

In Wichita, the park being closed means that a large gate (too high for me to climb) blocks the entire entrance, sitting flush with the fence on either side.


Fortunately, there was a neighborhood nearby.  I cruised for a few minutes, trying to figure out what the parking regulations were.  Then I realized that there were none - this was Wichita.  So I stashed the rental and jogged to the park entrance.  As noted before, the gate was too high to climb, but it did have a clearance of roughly a foot from the ground.  After a quick scan in the dark to see if there were any obvious "trespassers will be prosecuted/shot/waterboarded" signs, I dropped to the asphalt and wriggled my way under the gate.

I was in.

From there I started my run.  I had a fartlek workout planned - it's easier just to do stuff by time when in a strange place.  My plan was to do an extended warm-up - running easy until it got light enough to run fast in a strange place.

In case you were wondering
about the differences.
After about 15 minutes of jogging by myself in the dark, a group of lights approached.  It was a group of local runners with headlamps - the "Dillons run" (named after the grocery store they meet at).  They were gracious enough to let me tag along, and so I ran for a few easy miles, chatting about Kansas and DC and the differences between the Pikes Peak in Colorado and the Pikes Peek in Maryland.

Then they turned off, and it was light enough to start the workout - 16 times 90 seconds on/60 seconds off. 

Check out the elevation chart too :)
I didn't shoot for a specific pace for the fast parts, but rather tried to run fast-but-relaxed for the on parts, and easy-but-not -shuffling for the off parts.  There's really no points to reporting splits for the workout, but the sharks teeth pattern on the Garmin report is pretty cool.

The workout ended up being fairly fun.  Part of it was the novelty of running in a new location, and part of it was that 90 seconds is just short enough that running fast is a blast.  Though I will confess that by the last four reps I was more than ready to be done.

The rest of the week was back in DC, where some of our humidity has returned.  Interestingly, though I'm generally the type that REALLY suffers in the humidity and heat, it hasn't bothered me.  During both Friday's tempo and Sunday's long run I kept waiting for the humidity to start bugging me, but it never did.  I'm not quite sure why this is - my leading theory right now is that I'm still defrosting from this winter. I'm certainly not complaining, though.


Monday:   Nothing.  Traveled to Kansas and did family stuff.

Tuesday:  14 miles, including a fartlek of 16x90 seconds on, 60 seconds off - workout was 40 minutes total. Averaged 6:20ish for the on, 9:00ish for the off.  Then flew home to DC and foam rolled.

Wednesday: 5.5 miles very easy (9:33), followed by a yoga class.  Later another 7.5 miles very easy (9:05) and drills+strides, followed by 1500 yards of easy swimming to stretch out. Foam rolling at night.

Thursday:  6.5 miles very easy (9:02), followed by a yoga class and then another 4 easy (8:43) plus drills and strides.  Followed with some upperbody strengthwork and injury prevention work.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  13.5 miles, including an 8k tempo of 33:00 - 6:45/6:35/6:38/6:36/6:26.   Followed by some injury prevention work and 1500 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:   13 miles easy (8:42), followed by drills and strides.  Upper body strengthwork/injury prevention work, plus foam rolling, in the afternoon.

Sunday:  16 miles progressive, split as first 3 at 8:45, next 8.5 at 8:04, last 4.5 at 6:56.  Followed with yoga and 1000 yards easy swimming to loosen up.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Training log - Week ending 5/3/2015

This week was 82 miles of running, 5 "miles" of pool-running and 3000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

More marathon training.  Lotsa easy miles plus controlled workouts and my first 20 miler of the cycle.  My legs are pretty tired, but feel like they can just keep going.  Since we're only doing two 20s and two "4-3-2-1" workouts this cycle, the next two weeks will be a cutback in terms of long runs - a moderate progression run next weekend, and then a half marathon the week after.  Then two more long runs before tapering.  I'm feeling really good about my fitness, but also looking forward to an easier weekend.

I have to travel to Kansas on Monday for a family gathering (passing of a relative), so Tuesday morning's workout will be a solo time-based fartlek on a bike path.  I'm actually happy about this - a workout based totally on effort sounds perfect for legs absorbing their first 20 miler in about 6 months.


Monday:   Yoga and some upperbody strengthwork and injury prevention work, followed by 5 "miles" easy pool-running; foam rolling at night.

Tuesday:  13 miles, including 6x800 (3:00, 3:02, 2:58, 2:58, 2:58, 2:57), followed by some injury prevention work and 1500 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 5.5 miles very easy (9:18), followed by a yoga class.  Later another 8.5 miles very easy (8:49 - net downhill) and drills+strides. Foam rolling at night.

Thursday:  5.5 miles very easy (9:10), followed by a yoga class and then another 4.5 easy (9:00) plus drills and strides.  Followed with some upperbody strengthwork and injury prevention work.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  12 miles, including a windy 8k tempo of 33:10 - 6:43/6:34/6:39/6:37/6:37.   Followed by some injury prevention work and 1000 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:   12.5 miles easy (9:04), followed by drills and strides, and upper body strengthwork/injury prevention work, plus foam rolling.

Sunday:  20.5 miles progressive, split as first 5 at 8:25, next 4.5 at 8:07, next 5 at 7:41 (tailwind), last 6 at 7:02 (headwind).  Followed with injury prevention work and 500 yards easy swimming to loosen up.  Massage later in the afternoon.