Sunday, November 27, 2016

Training log - Week ending 11/27/16

This week was 43 miles of running and 22"miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

This was the second week of my second taper.  My normal schedule was thrown off a bit by a) a trip to Connecticut for work (including a stay at the world's most depressing Hilton Garden Inn) and b) a 5K Turkey Trot.

Honestly, I mainly ran the Turkey Trot because of the work trip - I would have preferred to stick with a Tuesday/Friday workout schedule, rather than race that close to CIM.  But...there was really no place to safely do a workout where I was staying in Connecticut- my running route was back and forth on the shoulder of a state highway, with the occasional diversion into a) a small residential development and b) an elevated parking lot.

The Connecticut run was honestly one of the most depressing runs I've done.  It was sub-freezing, with high winds, and I found nothing enjoyable about jogging back and forth on a mix of broken sidewalk and grass adjacent to laundromats and takeout pizza.  I almost never lose motivation, but it was really really hard not to pull the plug on this run two miles in.  Especially when I was two days out from a 5K and less than two weeks out from a marathon.

But I reminded myself that I get stale when I overtaper, and I needed to get the eight miles in, and trudged on through my first world struggles.   The run was made much easier when I ended up running with another hotel guest who, oddly enough, was also tapering for CIM.  What are the chances?

On the other hand, Thursday's 5K was a pleasant surprise.  I've known that I'm in good shape - I'm finally breaking 20 in 5K tempos again.  However, I don't generally race well at shorter distances when I'm in a marathon cycle - it's just hard to get into the 5K mentality.  So to get within 10 seconds of my PR, given those factors, was a huge confidence boost.  And it gives me hope that perhaps I can nudge my PR a bit lower in the next year or two.

But that's the hopeful future.  Next up, California.


Monday: Core and injury prevention work plus 10 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling.

Tuesday: 8 miles easy (8:51) followed by drills and strides.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 4 miles very easy (9:28). Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Thursday: 3.5 mile warm-up, 5K race in 19:20, and 4.5 mile cooldown.  Foam rolling in the evening.

Friday: 8 "miles" of pool-running in the morning; another 2 "miles" of pool-running and foam rolling at night.

Saturday: 8 miles very easy (9:22), plus drills and strides, followed by upper body weights.  2 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling in the afternoon.

Sunday: 12 miles moderate (7:52), followed by light injury prevention work.  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Race Report: SOME 5K, November 24, 2016

I ran the So Others Might Eat (SOME) Turkey Trot 5K today, finishing in 19:20.

I really had no idea what I was going to run today - my workouts have been going really well in the last two weeks, but I'm training (well....tapering now) for a marathon, not a 5K, and I've never been one to race well at shorter distances when I'm in marathon shape.  Plus, I'm not really a 5K specialist - I hate them, and it shows in how I perform in them.  I much prefer either road miles (too short to think/hurt) or 10K and longer (the longer distance gives me more time to find a rhythm).  5Ks are awkwardly painful, like shoes that are both too wide and too short.

So why did I run this race?  Especially 10 days out from my marathon?  Well....I'm one of those people that tapers best by cutting the volume but keeping the intensity during taper.  So I really had to get some fast running in this week.  And due to various scheduling issues, I wouldn't be able to make any of my team's workouts this week.  I could either do fast running on my own at some point on Thursday or Friday, or race a Turkey Trot.  I chose the latter.  And I went with a 5K simply because I wanted to keep the race distance short this close to the marathon - no 5 milers or 10Ks.

So I went with SOME, which was a 5K, a fast course, and conveniently located partway between my own home and my parents' place.  As I noted before, I had no idea what I'd run.  If you had asked me on the starting line, I would have told you somewhere between 19:30 and 19:45.  Any of which would have been a good 5K time for me - though my PR is 19:10, that was set several years ago.  Since turning 40 and returning from the torn hamstring (I'm not sure which was the bigger setback), my 5K times have been:

2014 - 20:24, 20:24, 20:16
2015 - 20:29, 20:16, 19:51 (but also managed to break 40 for 10K)
2016 - 19:48, 21:05 (asthma), 20:22

I've had plenty of decent and some great performances at other distances, but my 5K races have been relatively mediocre.  Hence my modest expectations.   And my delight at running 19:20.


The SOME 5K is a very fast course in downtown DC.  It's pancake flat, and though it has two hair pin turns, they come early enough in the course that you don't lose too much speed.  When you get great weather (like we did today), it's a great race to shoot for a PR on.

SOME did start at 9:00 am, lending itself to a casual morning.  I left the house around 7:40 am, which was more than enough time to find parking, chill out, warm-up, and hit the bathrooms a few times (5Kolitis).  I noted that the (mild) wind was coming from the east this year; usually it's from the west.  Since the race starts heading east and ends heading west, this was good news - I'd have the headwind for the first part, when there would be others to draft off of, and then the tailwind would help me home.

As always in shorter races, I timed my warm-up to include two hard running segments of 60-90 seconds about 15 minutes before the race start.  Yes, I've tried racing shorter stuff off of just easy jogging and strides, and it doesn't work well for me.  The first few minutes of hard running are always really tough for me, so I prefer to get them out of the way before the race.

Then I lined up.  Holiday races are always packed with people who go out like idiots, so I seeded myself a bit further back than I normally would, so that I'd start the race with people who (in going out too fast) would be running my pace).

The race start was a bit odd - at 8:59 the airhorn sounded.  No advance warning or announcement, it just went off.  Everyone flinched, then looked at each other and shrugged.  Nobody actually crossed the starting line (that I could see).   At 9:00 am the airhorn went off again, and this time we started.  I'm still not sure what was going on - whether the first airhorn was a mistake, or whether we were supposed to start but nobody did.

But anyways, we were off.  I ran this race with my watch blanked like always, so my pacing strategy was based on feel - be patient for the first half mile, then start moving up, but try to stay relaxed throughout.  Patience was necessary in the first half mile, as people surged and faltered and surged and swerved.  All part of the Turkey Trot experience, I guess.  I dodged runners carefully - the last thing I wanted to do was to twist my ankle before CIM.

After a few hundred meters, the worst of the logjam cleared, and it was smooth sailing.  Too smooth, in fact - I had a distinct feeling of a) not working that hard but b) not being able to find the next gear.  That's normal for me when I'm in marathon training -and while some of it may be physiological, I think more of it is mental - I'm just not used to the 5K flavor of hurt, and so I can't go there.  And it's compounded by the fact that my goal marathon is so close that it's hard to care about a 5K.  And if I don't care about the 5K, then I have no appetite for 5K effort.


This course has been changed slightly from the last time I ran it, and so it was difficult during the middle section to know how far I was from the finish.  Especially since mile marker two was missing.  Fortunately, almost all of the last mile of the race is on Pennsylvania Avenue, and so once we turned there, I could see the finish and measure my energy.   Additionally, I know the route well enough to know that:

  • 12th Street - the finish
  • 11th Street - 3 mile mark
  • 9th Street - 400m to go
  • 6th Street - 800m to go
  • 3rd Street - 1200m to go.  
So, really the last mile of this course is like a track race.

I ran this race with my watchface blanked as always, and so I didn't know my time until I approached the finish.  I was pleasantly surprised to see it counting up from 19:1x.  I kicked and kicked, and when I finished and hit "stop" my watch read 19:19. Unfortunately the official race time is 19:20 - a slight bummer, but the difference between 19:19 and 19:20 is nowhere near as painful as the difference between 19:59 and 20:00.  Especially when neither would have been a PR, and both are significantly faster than I expected to run.  Appreciate what you have.

Splits were:
Mile 1: 6:20
Miles 2-3: 12:21
last bit: 0:38 (5:48 pace).

Other notes:

  • I ended up second masters female, to a local woman I wasn't familiar with who ran just over 19:00.  For a bit I thought this might be another case of bib-swapping - a good news/bad news thing.  Then I confirmed that she was legit - she just mainly does triathlons, not road races.  No cheating here, and I was second.  So that was good news/bad news too.
  • Weather was high 40s and overcast, perfect!
  • Debated on whether to wear my marathon shoes (Adios Boost) or my preferred short distance shoe (Takumi Sen).  Decided to play it safe and race with the Adios - it's still a very fast shoe that many people use for 5Ks.  And racing a 5K 10 days before a marathon is risky enough without compounding it by wearing flats you haven't worn since May.
  • Ended up a bit tight chested in the morning, so had to use my rescue inhaler pre-race.  My guess is that this is because I didn't get a good puff of my Advair this morning (I was interrupted mid-puff this morning by a cat litter box altercation, and that's all you need to know).
  • Had an expresso GU in the morning pre-race, plus some shot blocks (Tropical Punch).  Yummy in that runner way.  GU really does have the coffee flavors down.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Training log - Week ending 11/20/16

This week was 58 miles of running, 28 "miles" of pool-running and 2000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

This is another abbreviated entry, since life's still pretty busy, and will remain so through this week. The good news is that my workouts have been going great - hopefully an indication we've hit just the right balance of stress and recovery here.

Of course, I still have two more weeks of trying to hit that balance of doing not too little but not too much.  It's an art as much as a science - listening to your body while also keeping it chained.

This coming week is a bit of a departure from my norm for taper.  I'll be out of town for my normal Tuesday workout, in a location where I'm really not going to be able to do any type of fast running.  And the Friday tempo is cancelled due to the holiday.  So I'll be racing a 5K Turkey Trot to get my legs turning over.

(and no, I'm not "tempoing it" - I know that there's no way I can show up for a 5K and then hold myself back enough to honestly call it a tempo.  And I hate it when people show up for a 5K, race-it-but-don't-really-race-it, and then declare it a "tempo" afterwards.)

Racing a 5K 11 days before a marathon is not the greatest decision.  But it's not a horrible decision either, if done thoughtfully and with enough recovery.  Which is the theme of this multiple-marathon experiment anyway.  So what the heck.

(I really should get a tattoo of "this wasn't a good idea, but wasn't a bad idea either" - it would work on multiple levels.)


Monday: Foam rolling and 7.5 "miles" pool-running in the morning; 4 "miles" pool-running at night.

Tuesday: 10.5 miles, including 6x800 in 3:07, 3:03, 2:57, 3:00, 3:00, 2:52.  Followed with injury prevention work and 1000 yards recovery swimming.

Wednesday: 4 miles easy (9:14) to yoga, then yoga.  Later did 7.5 miles easy (8:48).  2 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling in the afternoon.

Thursday: 8.5 "miles" pool-running and upper body weights/core in the morning.  3 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling at night

Friday: 10 miles, including a 4 mile tempo on the track in 25:57 (6:40/6:33/6:29/6:15); followed by injury prevention work and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday: 10 miles easy (9:22), plus upper body weights. 3 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling in the afternoon.

Sunday: 16 miles, split as progression of first 5 miles at 9:21; next 5 at 7:45; last 6 at 7:02.  Followed with 500 yards of recovery swimming.  Sports massage in afternoon.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Training log - Week ending 11/13/16

This week was 63.5 miles of running, 29 "miles" of pool-running and 2000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

Work is busy the next few days, so not much time to make an entry here.  Except to note that I am now in taper (again).  And that the symmetric splits for Friday's tempo crack me up (6:36/6:26/6:16).

(and yes, I did do the math and kick very hard in the last 200m to come under 20.  Unquestionably that was a questionable decision.  But fun.)


Monday: yoga and 7 "miles" pool-running; 4 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling at night.

Tuesday: 11 miles, including 6x800 in 3:01, 2:59, 2:56, 2:55, 2:54, 2:52.  Followed with injury prevention work and 1000 yards of swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 5.5 miles very easy (9:25) to yoga, yoga, and then another 5.5 very easy (9:01).  3 "miles" pool-running and a sports massage at night.

Thursday:  Upper body weights and core and 10 "miles" pool-running  in the morning.  2 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling at night

Friday: 10 miles, including a 5K tempo in 19:59 (6:36/6:26/6:16/0:41).  Followed with injury prevention work and 700 yards of swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday: 10 miles very easy (9:52) plus drills and strides and upper body weights and core.  2 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling at night.

Sunday: 21 miles, split as first 7 averaging 9:00, next 7 at 7:38, last 7 at 6:54.  Followed with 1 "mile" of pool-running (chatting with friends) and 300 yards of recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Training log - Week ending 11/6/16

This week was 59 miles of running, 24 "miles" of pool-running and 2000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

I'm back of the swing of things this week.  And it's very familiar but also strange.

The "4-3-2-1" workout I did on Sunday was simultaneously easy and challenging.  Since I ran marathon pace for a bit over 26 miles not too long ago, I subconsciously have this naive expectation that any shorter distance I run at marathon pace - for example, 4 miles - should feel as effortless as the first few miles did at Chicago.  So when I started the workout, and realized that I was actually having to work a bit, it was a bit of a surprise.  It shouldn't have been a surprise, but it was.

But once I accepted the fact that marathon training requires one to buckle down and do work, it was fine.  Almost easy, in fact.  It wasn't terribly hard, it just wasn't effortless.   The paces I ran were slightly faster than what I held for this workout during the Chicago cycle, but my heart rate was exactly where it should be for marathon pace - I think the faster pace can be attributed to the 25 degree drop in temperature between then and now.

The other challenge of the past week was trying not to do too much.  It's the same battle I think most marathoners face when tapering - you're trying to do just enough to maintain your fitness, without overdoing it from a fear of losing fitness and sabotaging your race.

It's hard to ride that fine line for a 3 week taper.  It's harder to ride that fine line for 8 weeks between marathons, when the temptation is to pile everything on and rack up as many miles and hard workouts as you can in that short time between races.  So far, I think I'm hitting the right balance of doing enough but not too much.  But it's tricky, to say the least.


Monday: yoga and 7 "miles" pool-running; 3 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling at night.

Tuesday: 11 miles, including 4x1200 in 4:43, 4:39, 4:40, 4:38.  Followed with injury prevention work and 750 yards of swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 10 miles very easy (8:56) plus upper body weights.  4 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling at night.

Thursday: 9 "miles" pool-running  in the morning.  Foam rolling at night

Friday: 11 miles, including a workout of 3200, 1600 in 12:37 (6:28/6:09) and 6:07.  Followed with injury prevention work and 850 yards of swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday: 10 miles very easy (9:15) plus drills and strides and upper body weights.  3 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling at night.

Sunday: 17 miles, including a workout of 4, 3, 2, and 1 miles at marathon pace, with 1 mile easy in between. Splits were:
4 mile in 28:08 (7:06/7:01/7:02/6:59 - average pace 7:02)
3 mile in 20:57 (7:01/6:58/6:58 - average pace 6:59)
2 mile in 13:59 (6:59/7:00- average pace 7:00)
1 mile in 6:41
450 yards of recovery swimming and foam rolling in afternoon.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Training log - Week ending 10/30/16

This week was 55.5 miles of running, 16 "miles" of pool-running,and 1000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

I'm not sure whether this was a recovery week or a training week.  Basically a hybrid.  My very short training cycle for CIM officially started with a 14 mile progressive run on Saturday.  However, my coach and I decided that I could do an abbreviated workout on Tuesday to ease back into things.  So I showed up for 4x800 - which is also traditionally the final pre-marathon workout for my team.  Lovely symmetry there.

The 4x800 was a nice surprise - the first rep was the toughest and also by far the slowest, as I shed cardio cobwebs.  But then each one felt a bit better, and the fourth felt the easiest and best.  I was tempted for a second to ask if I could finish the workout with two more.  And then I reminded myself that we're walking a training tightrope right now, and too much is worse than too little.

As part of easing back into things, I skipped tempo on Friday, and then did my "long run" of 14 miles on Saturday, so I could cheer on Sunday at the Marine Corps Marathon.  The 14 miler went well also - the 5 miles at marathon pace were mentally hard, but not physically challenging.  I did run them slightly faster than what I targeted during my marathon pace work for Chicago.  But, it's also about 20 degrees cooler than it was when I trained for Chicago this summer, and so the effort was less, and my heart rate stayed in the lower end of my "marathon heart rate" range.

Two weeks of marathon training starts this week, with a 17 miler "4-3-2-1" workout on Sunday, and then my first (and last) 21-miler next Sunday.  Then I taper (again).


Monday: Upper body weights and 8.5 "miles" pool-running in the morning.  3 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling at night.

Tuesday: 10.5 miles, including an abbreviated track workout of 4x800 in 3:09, 2:59, 2:57, 2:56.  Followed with injury prevention work and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 4.5 miles easy to yoga (9:23), yoga, and then 5.5 miles very easy (8:54), followed by drills and strides.  Sports massage at night.

Thursday: Yoga and 7.5 "miles" pool-running in the morning.  3 "miles" pool-running in the afternoon.

Friday: 10 miles very easy (8:51) plus drills and 2 hill sprints, followed by upper body weights and core.  2 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling at night.

Saturday: 14 miles progressive split as the first 5 at 9:26, next 4 at 7:45, final 5 at 7:01.  Followed with injury prevention work and 1500 yards recovery swimming, plus foam rolling.

Sunday: 11 miles very easy (9:29) plus lotsa standing and walking.  Foam rolling at night.