Monday, March 27, 2017

Training log - Week ending 3/26/17

This week was 42 miles of running, 17 "miles" of pool-running, and 3000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

This was a pretty boring week - just recovery from Shamrock and a mini break.  My coach mandates that we skip the Tuesday workout after any race longer than 10K in distance.  By the end of the work week, I was still a bit tired and stiff, so I skipped the Friday tempo as well, keeping stuff easy.

I have to admit I was pretty surprised how much Shamrock took out of me.  Two years ago, I ran it and then was able to race a good 10K 6 days later.  Not this time.   I was surprised to have some difficulty with stairs for the first few days post race, combined with a lot of fatigue.  Not quite as bad as the day after a marathon, but definitely not the normal post-half doldrums either.

I suspect that part of the reason was that I didn't prioritize recovery after the race this time.  Instead of eating quality food, drinking lots of water, gently foam rolling, and then hitting the pool before an early bed time, I went out for (a good but not necessarily healthy) dinner plus drinks.  No foam rolling, no swimming.

It was the right choice (it was our anniversary) and I don't regret it.  But it did have consequences.

However, I wasn't the only member of my team who was really beaten up after Shamrock - quite a few of us skipped Friday tempo.  I suspect that the harsh weather conditions - in particular the powerful winds - made the race far more stressful than a pancake flat half-normally would be.

Bu Sunday I felt good enough to do a normal progression run, though I kept it to 12 miles.  I really love long runs, but I just couldn't justify doing one, given that I had raced Shamrock last weekend, am racing this coming weekend, and don't have another half until June.  My legs felt surprisingly peppy - perhaps due to all the rest.  It was a good sign that I'm ready to race well again this weekend, despite having raced so much the past few weeks.


Monday: In the morning, half-assed yoga and 6.5 "miles" pool-running with the belt.  Foam rolling at night.

: In the morning, 4.5 "miles" of pool-running and 1500 yards of swimming.  Foam roller at night.

Wednesday:  In the morning, 5.5 miles very easy (9:22) to yoga, yoga, and then 2.5 miles very easy home (8:42).  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday: In the morning, 6 "miles" pool-running and some upper body strengthwork+core.  Sports massage in afternoon.

Friday: In the morning, 6 miles very easy to yoga (9:30), yoga, and then 6 miles easy home (8:52) plus drills and strides  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:  10 miles very easy (9:00) plus drills and strides, followed by upper body strengthwork+core.

Sunday: 12 miles progressive, split as first 4 at 9:27, next 4 at 7:37, last 4 at 6:57.  Followed with injury prevention work and 1500 yards recovery swimming.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Training Log - Week ending 3/19/17

This week was 40 miles of running and 12 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

The weather was a big story this week - a snowstorm hit DC on Monday night, forcing the cancellation of Tuesday's workout.  The track was unusable, and roads were too poor early Tuesday morning to safely drive to our back-up location, in the sheltered area under the Whitehurst Freeway.

You'd think that this would be a non-issue for me, since I was done training and in full taper for my goal half-marathon.  This workout really didn't matter.

Except that it did matter.  I've discovered that my best taper is to sharply cut back on my volume, while maintaining moderately high intensity until very close to the race.  Basically the opposite of my natural inclination to do lots of volume while skipping the intensity.  This optimal taper structure is why I do counter-intuitive things like lifting at the gym three days before my goal race (albeit very minimal - just enough to fool my body into thinking it did something).

So I wanted to get some sort of fast running on Tuesday - I didn't necessarily care about the exact format, and I didn't want anything TOO intense - but I needed SOMETHING.

Fortunately, I have both a flexible work schedule and an SUV (is it "an" SUV or "a SUV"?).  Around 8 am the roads were clear enough to be passable with all wheel drive, so I scheduled a "meeting" with the Whitehurst Freeway and ventured forth for 6 repeats of approximately 800m in distance at "fast-but-relaxed-and-don't-kill-it" effort.

The rest of the week was full taper, punctuated by a mile at half-marathon pace (this is usually prescribed as 10K pace, but I decided that I liked slowing it down, both so I could get a feel for half-marathon pace and because it'd be less effort.)

As I noted in my race report, I ultimately decided to redirect to the Shamrock Half-Marathon, rather than the New York City Half-Marathon.    On Sunday morning, my coach and I joked about how I had clearly made the right choice, as my team huddled in the steady rain and gale force winds.  The irony is not lost on me, as I write this weekly report while watching the replay of NYC, featuring clear roads and fast weather (I'm on vacation today, in case you're wondering).

But, I think I did make the right choice.  NYC is a PR course, and had PR weather that day.  But apparently that was true for Shamrock also.  I wanted a PR, and a 1:27.  I got or surpassed both, while also getting to experience one of those races that may be commiserated about for years to come.  And that's worth something.

The next few days are recovery - not a full break (that will come in June).


Monday: In the morning, yoga and 6 "miles" pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

: In the morning, 10 miles under the Whitehurst including a workout of 6x"800" in 2:53, 2:59, 2:55, 2:57, 2:50, 2:54 with 2 minutes recovery.  Followed with light injury prevention work.  Foam roller at night.

Wednesday:  In the morning, 7 miles very easy (9:08), followed by gentle DIY yoga and foam rolling.

Thursday: In the morning, 6 "miles" pool-running and some upper body strengthwork+core.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday: In the morning, 7 miles - most very easy (9:39), but with a mile at goal half-marathon pace (6:39) plus drills and strides  Followed with foam rolling .

Saturday:  Drove down to Virginia Beach, then did foam rolling and gentle DIY yoga.

Sunday: 2.5 mile warm-up, half-marathon in 1:26:34, and then a half mile jog back to my hotel.  Skipped my traditional post-race recovery routine (foam-rolling, swimming) in favor of celebrating our 9th anniversary on Sunday night.  It was the right choice, but I'm feeling it as of Monday.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Race report: Shamrock Half-Marathon, March 19, 2017

I ran the Shamrock Half-Marathon today, finishing in a time of 1:26:34 - this is a nearly 2 minute PR over my previous "fair" PR of 1:28:28 from Shamrock two years ago, and also eclipses my "asterisked" PR of 1:26:52 from the 3M Half last year.  And was good enough for top masters female and 7th female overall.  I'm stoked.

Shamrock wasn't my original plan for this weekend.  I had registered for the NYC Half many months ago as my goal race for this spring.  But, (per Murphy's law as executed by the weather gods)  as of Thursday morning a snowstorm was forecast for New York City on Saturday evening.  Not a huge amount of snow, just 1-3 inches.   But possibly enough to disrupt the race, making it either a slushy/icy mess that would hamper my PR goals, or a fun run.  I messaged several runner friends in NYC, and they recommended against coming up to run NYC if I had another option.

Which fortunately, I did.  When I register for goal races, I like to register for a back-up race - one that is either the same weekend in a different part of the country, or the following weekend.  It just seems logical - I invest a lot of time and money and sweat in a training cycle - why not invest a little more money upfront to improve my chances of having good weather on race day.  And it's really not that much money if you register for the back-up race early (far cheaper than panicking 7 days out when the weather looks iffy and registering late). I also book hotels for each location, carefully noting the cancellation date.

In this case, I had registered for a) New York, plus DC-NY train tickets and a Wall Street hotel room, and b) Shamrock (drivable from DC, plus a hotel room in the general Virginia Beach vicinity).  So, once I made my decision to do Shamrock instead, I cancelled my train tickets (refunded) and my hotel (no charge), and was only out the NYC registration fee.   Which was fine - the registration was a sunk cost, and a icy race or a fun run was of little value to me, even if it did feature Times Square.

An added bonus was that I managed to score that most elusive of quarries - a one night hotel stay on the beach right by the Shamrock half marathon start line.   This was excellent, because the weather wasn't looking great for Shamrock either - high winds and some rain.  But the thing about the Shamrock half is that it can be very windy and one can still run fast.  Given the forecasts, I liked my chances at Shamrock a lot better than those at NYC.

Well...that was until I checked the forecasts again around 6 am on Saturday morning, as I prepped for the drive to Virginia Beach.  Things had changed.  Now New York was showing rain on Saturday night and a clear Sunday morning, while Virginia Beach was under a gale advisory for Saturday night into Sunday afternoon.

Ugh.  I considered changing plans again - my New York hotel had availability, and there were still seats on the train.  And though I'd eat the cost of the Virginia Beach hotel, that wasn't a crippling amount of money.  But in the end (after messaging various friends and a tolerant coach), I decided to stick with Shamrock.  I had already switched mental gears to Shamrock, and I also didn't want to deal with the scramble of rebooking my New York accommodations and madly dashing to the train station.  Additionally, the forecast might change again, and I liked my chances at Shamrock during a gale much better than those at New York in an snowstorm or with icy roads.

You see, in someways, Shamrock is a magic race.  It seems like the worse the weather is there, the better people run (my marathon PR is still from Shamrock, on a ridiculously windy day).  I think that's in part because it's a super flat and fast course and in part because many people run their best when they let go of expectations - as we usually do when the weather is awful.  Additionally, at Shamrock, if it's really windy in just the right way, the course can work for you.  More on that below.


So, I was committed.  I left the house just before 8 am, which ensured that the three hour drive to Virginia Beach was in fact a three hour drive, as opposed to the four to five hour (or more) monstrosity it can be.  I arrived at the expo just before 11, where I grabbed my bib and then headed over to a nearby Chipotle for race prep.  (I don't intend to ever race in a location where there is no Chipotle.  Just so we're clear).

The Chipotle was disappointing.  It's the first time I've had to coach the server to fill up my bowl - usually the bowls are overflowing with ricey-meaty-guacamole goodness.  Not this time.  My two bowls (yes, I get two bowls pre-long race - eat 1.5 for lunch plus a bag of chips, and then save the remainder for apres-race) were barely 2/3ds full, despite my pleading.  There was only one solution - purchase a third bowl.  I debated pretending I was ordering for a friend, but I've never been good at lying, so I didn't bother.

Post Chipotle, I checked into my nice beachfront hotel, where I proceeded to email my partner instructions on how to take care of the cats (including litterbox tips). I also thoughtfully included a picture of the ocean from my window, thus cementing my frontrunner status for partner of the year. (BTW, this was our anniversary weekend).

Did a bunch of gentle yoga and foam rolling to get everything mobile, and checked the weather again.  The time of arrival for the apocalyptic weather kept getting pushed back.  Just a few hours more, and it'd miss my race entirely.


In fact, when I awoke this morning very early (I needed to take my Advair at 4 am to ensure it was fully working for the 7 am race), it was still dry and just moderately breezy.  Woo.  But around 5:15 am, the front came in, with moderate rain and a strong wind.

This was bad and good.  I actually didn't mind the rain - I knew it's be miserable while waiting to start, but 40 degrees and rain is also the absolute BEST my lungs ever function.  When I'm on the right asthma drugs, I get to about 90% on a normal day.  But give me a dank dreary drizzle, and my breathing is AWESOME.  No asthma at all.  It's a phenomenal feeling that more than makes up for the chafing and the cold hands and the waterlogged shoes.  If' I'm racing, I'll take 40s and light rain over 50s and dry any day.

The wind was also arguably a positive.  Though it was very very strong (my Garmin says 15 MPH, but news reports pointed towards 20-25 MPH), it was coming from the North, which was very very good, as long as I paced the race correctly.

The proper execution of this race on a windy day is best explained with a picture:

The course is run clockwise - starting and ending at the bottom right. run this course well, you need to go out very conservatively, finding a pack to use as a windblock.   Once you turn off of Atlantic Avenue onto Shore Drive (just before mile 3) you can pick it up as the wind lessens.  But start hunting for another pack after you pass mile 5, so you can use them as wind blocks after the right turn into Fort Story.  Hang with them until the wind turns into a crosswind, then hold a steady effort until the tailwind takes over, and ride that baby home.

If you follow this strategy, then (within reason) the windier the course is, the faster it is.  As long as the wind is from the north. If the wind is from the south, then you should probably start drinking before the race, rather than waiting until after.


The above is what I did, and it worked beautifully.  After a two mile warm-up with a few strides and drills (I deliberately UNDERwarmed up to make sure I stayed conservative), I targeted marathon-pace feel for the first three miles - basically a slight exaggeration of my coach's "start slow/finish fast" philosophy.  I found a nice crew that was holding that pace, and just followed right behind the tallest and widest member of the pack.

(I chose the widest and tallest person both because they were the biggest windblock, and also because it was near certain they wouldn't ask me to split the work, given my small stature).

[During this part, I focused a lot on running tall and relaxed.  I believe that some of the effect from a strong wind is a result of how the runner reacts to it.  It's very natural to want to curl up and hunch over so as to present less of a surface to the wind.  But, in doing so, it can make one's gait much less efficient and lose you even more time.  For myself, I've found that if I avoid the temptation to hunch into the wind, and instead stretch up tall, I actually run much faster.]

Once we turned into the park, I swung wide of the pack and started to gently open my stride.  Not a sudden change of pace, but just a gradual build from marathon effort to tempo.  Around mile 5, I took half of my gel (Blueberry Pomegranate Rocktane) and finished off my water bottle and tossed it (along with my handwarmers). Then I targeted a pack to tail for the first part of Fort Story.

Only to discover it wasn't necessary.  For whatever reason, the wind was no longer as bad there.  I think there are some new buildings that blocked it.

There were other humorous obstacles, though.  The second half of this race is never far from the beach and its sand, and at one point on the course, a large amount of sand had blown across the road, creating a minor sand dune that had to be traversed.  Fortunately the sand wasn't that deep, and this section was only about 20 feet long, but still an unwelcome surprise.

Shortly after mile 7, I felt the full effect of the tailwind.  (it says something about a tailwind if you actually feel it while you're running).  I had been wearing a longsleeve over my singlet, but was finally warm enough to toss it, so I removed it while running.  Not without some difficulty - I was wearing a hat because of the rain, and ended up having to take my hat off so that I could remove and toss the shirt (all while running about 6:30 pace). Luckily, I often do clothing changes during my long runs for just this reason, and so I managed to do it all without losing too much pace.

From then, it was game on.  Just staying relaxed and continuing to reel in person after person.  Not chasing as much as flowing and letting them come back to me.  And a lot of them did, including several women.  I was 11th woman, then 10th, then 9th, then 8th, then 7th.

This part of the race was not without comic relief.  Around mile 9.5, the course makes a slight left turn back onto Atlantic Avenue. There was a large puddle at that point that the runners around me were dodging.  I didn't see any reason to deviate from my "shortest distance to the finish" track, especially since I was already soaked.  So I ran directly through the large but shallow puddle.  Only to discover it was a large but deep puddle - above my ankles.  Whoops.  But I managed to a) stay on my feet, b) not lose much speed, and c) not bark out TOO much profanity in front of the group of children cheering.

The last few miles were some of the most fun I've ever raced.  I was running hard, but completely under control, with the mile markers passing surprisingly quickly.  I thought 1:27:xx was a good goal for today, and so it was wonderful to see the clock ticking down 1:26.  And then I was done and hugging friends and collecting my finisher's prize (a towel - how appropriate).


I took manual splits at mile markers, which was made a bit more difficult by the wind.  More than half the mile markers were on their sides, and thus hard to see until you were close.  It seems like quite few were slightly off as well - my guess is that they were moved some distance by the wind.  So... my rough mile splits.

Mile 1: 7:02
Mile 2: 7:10
Mile 3: 7:00  (so averaged 7:04 for first three miles - marathon pace)
Mile 4: 6:45
Mile 5: 6:31
Mile 6: 6:48
Mile 7: 6:32
Mile 8: 6:20
Mile 9: 6:24
Mile 10: 6:20
Mile 11: 8:19 for 1.3 miles - 6:25 pace
Mile 12: 4:26 for .7 miles - 6:20 pace
Mile 13+last bit: 6:58 for 1.11 miles - 6:16 pace

Other notes:

  • Warmed up wearing a cheap CVS poncho over a disposable long sleeve T-Shirt over my singlet.  Also wore gloves with handwarmers, a running hat for the rain, and carried a water bottle.  And bodyglided EVERYTHING.  I tossed the poncho right before the start, and the handwarmers+water bottle at around mile 5.    The longsleeve shirt was tossed around the halfway point.
  • The weather got even worse for the marathoners.  The precipitation let up briefly, only to return as sleet.  Tough day.
  • The drive once again took 4.5 hours to get back to DC, thanks to the misery that is I-95 between Richmond and DC on a Sunday afternoon.
  • As it turned out, New York had better weather than Shamrock.  Oh the irony. On the other hand, my goal in signing up for New York was to run a fast time - I actually think (never having run it) that New York can be faster than Shamrock if the weather's equal.  I wanted a PR today, and I got one.  So mission accomplished, and no regrets about my choice.
  • Just so everyone can mock me, I carried four gels for this race, though I only intended to eat one.  Why?  Because then I'd have extras if I dropped one (or two) and could also share if a teammate dropped theirs.  Plus my stomach can sometimes get quite iffy during races, and so I like to carry several different flavors to be sure I have something I can tolerate.
  • This race was awesome for several reasons, but one of the sweetest was the reassurance I got from it.  My coach has us train in groups, and for the last few weeks, the group that's felt like the best fit, pace-wise, has also been finishing far ahead of me at races.  Triggering some questioning about whether I shouldn't back off the training - if you're running with people in workouts, but lag behind in races, it's usually a sign of overcooking the training.  But today, I managed to finish right in the midst of those I train with.  That felt good.  Both for the performance itself, and for the confirmation that I haven't been overdoing my workouts.
  • Because this was my goal race for the first half of the spring, I tapered for this similar to how I would for a marathon - 3 weeks of reduced volume while preserving the intensity until the last few days.  I think it worked.
  • They didn't have an awards ceremony - instead mailing out the awards, including overall.  Fine with me.
  • As always, I got nauseous when I took my Ucan the night before my races, and my sinuses hurt like crazy during the last few days of taper.  Same note to self as always - don't worry about this - the nausea will ease by morning.  And you're not getting sick, it's just taper.  Take Tylenol and you'll be fine.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Training log - Week ending 3/12/17

This week was 46 miles of running,  13 "miles" of pool-running, and 2000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

Quick place holder for the past week of training.  Last weekend was tightly scheduled: race->concert->afterparty  on Saturday, and then run->visit by the "in-laws" (quotes because we're not married)->work.  Fit the race report in there somewhere, but didn't get around to the weekly until now.

This week was similar to last week - workout on Tuesday, 5K on Saturday.  Since the 5K was on Saturday, I just kept stuff easy between the two hard days.  I did wear more clothes for the 5K, and I thought it was the better choice.

Next week is my goal half.  I'm targeting the NYC half, but I may reroute to Shamrock (held on the same day in Virginia Beach) depending on how the weather forecast plays out.  I don't need to make a final decision until Friday.


Monday: In the morning, yoga and 6 "miles" pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

: In the morning, 10.5 miles including a workout of  6x800 in 3:03, 3:00, 2:57, 2:55, 2:54, 2:51.  Followed with injury prevention work and 1000 yards recovery swimming.  Foam roller at night.

Wednesday:  In the morning, 9.5 miles (9:18), followed by drills and strides and upper body weights/core.  Sports massage at night.

Thursday: In the morning, 7 "miles" pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday: In the morning, 5 miles very easy (8:40)  Followed with foam rolling .

Saturday:  In the morning, 3 miles warm-up, 5K race in 19:52, and then 3 mile cool-down, followed by 1000 yards recovery swimming and foam rolling.

Sunday: 12 miles very easy (8:43) followed by injury prevention work+upper body and core, plus foam rolling.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Race report: Rock 'n' Roll DC 5K, March 11, 2017

I ran the Rock 'n' Roll DC 5K in 19:52 today, which was good enough for the female win, so that was nice.

(wow, that 'n' just looks weird)

Running this race was sort of a late decision.  But in other ways not...  To explain in more detail, I hadn't planned on running this race until I received an email confirming my registration.  For a race I had completely forgotten I had signed up for a year ago.

So, I emailed my coach, and confirmed that he was OK with me racing it as a substitute for my scheduled Friday 5K tempo.  Running this race meant that I'd be racing three weeks in a row - 5K, 5K, and then half, but he thought (and I agree) that the recovery from a 5K is quick enough that I could get away with it.

So, I was in.  IF I could work out logistics.  The 5K race starts and finishes at RFK Stadium in DC (also the finish line for the half and full marathons - the second half of the 5K course is the last mile and a half of the marathon course).  RFK Stadium is very nicely on the DC Metro system, and I've just metroed to and from in years past.  However, due to "Safetrack" Metro no longer opens early on race morning, eliminating that transportation option.

Rock 'n' Roll had opened up a few of the parking lots at RFK for runners.  If you prepaid $30 in advance.  Which was a ridiculous amount to pay for a 5K I didn't really care about anyway.  Especially to park in a lot with a high likelihood of a) traffic backup getting into the lot and b) my windows getting smashed once I was in the lot.  (as friends of mine have learned in the past - that high parking fee doesn't cover any sort of security).

After looking at road closures and the race course, I decided to drive into Capitol Hill (using 395 to Massachusetts Avenue, which would route me underneath the closed roads) and then park somewhere in the residential area of the Hill before jogging the mile to the start as part of my warm-up.

This worked beautifully - I left home at 6:40 and found parking around 7:05.  Then jogged to the start for the 8 am race, using my running backpack to carry my stuff to check for post-race.  An additional perk were the portapotties strewn all over the area for the other races.

Longsleeve attire.  Yes, the team logo
needs to be rescreened on this one.
Photo by Cheryl Hendry Young.
I got to the start area with plenty of time to check my bag and finish my warm-up.  The temperatures were actually mid-20s, so slightly warmer than last weekend, but the wind was brisk from the west.  Since I had felt way too cold in last week's 5K, I decided to go with a longsleeve shirt this week.
Drills, strides, lined up, and we were off.

I had gone out too fast in my race last week, and wanted to improve that this week.  So I held back for the first half mile, watching a pack pull ahead of me, including two other women.  The race starts with a very nice downhill - steep enough that you can run fast, but not so steep that you are braking.  I let that hill bring me up to speed, and then after a few minutes I started to build, catching one woman fairly easily.  The other took a bit more work to chase down, but I passed her, plus a few guys, just before the first mile marker (which was facing the wrong way).

I was still running fairly easily here, which was part of my plan - come through the first mile very controlled, then build in mile 2 before pushing mile 3.  After the first mile marker, we rose out of an underpass and continued to climb (moderately, but annoyingly) to the turnaround point.

It was a relief to hit the turnaround point, and go back downhill.  At that point, I noted that I had put at least 8 seconds on the second place woman in the last half mile.  Not as much of a lead as I wanted, but my hunch was that she had gone out too fast and would fade more.

Until I realized just how much help the hitherto tailwind had been.  It was a tailwind no more, and it was annoying.  The good news was that I had plenty of energy in the tank.  The bad news was that I had no one near me to work with.  Whatever, nothing to do but to dig in.

To be honest, I didn't work anywhere near as hard here as I would have if I had someone close to chase, or if I had been second place woman.  All of that is obviously psychological - part of it was subconscious, while part of it was a conscious decision to keep something in reserve in case I needed to kick later.  (which is another way of saying that I knew I was winning and that made me lazy).

The second half of the race sucked - I was basically running solo into a substantial headwind which would persevere for the rest of the race.  And the downhill assist after the turnaround went away too fast, to be replaced by a gentle climb (and the second mile marker, also backwards), before we rounded the turn at the Stadium and doubled back to climb the final hill (no marker for the third mile) to the finish line.  But then the finish line was blissfully there, and I got to break the tape, which is always fun.

Splits were:

Mile 1: 6:13
Mile 2: 6:31
Mile 3 plus last bit: 7:08 (6:26 pace)

The splits look very uneven, but I think that's in part a reflection of the course, with the downhill start, and the strong tailwind for the first half that became a headwind in the second.  I also suspect that the turnaround point may have been misplaced, making the course slightly long.  My Garmin reads long for the second mile, which is not probative in itself, since Garmins are not perfect (and my signal did get screwed a bit by the underpass).  But the very slow split is also odd and doesn't match how the race felt, and the entire course felt a bit long.  Plus, misplaced turnaround cones would be consistent with the screwed up or missing mile markers.

But not like it mattered anyway.  I ran the race to get another 5K under my belt and to practice going out a bit more patiently.  Which I did as measured by effort, though the splits don't show it.  And it was fun to break the tape.


Other points:

  • Temperature was 27, DP of 5.  15 MPH steady wind from the west supposedly.  I think the half-marathoners had that as a tailwind for nearly all of the second half of their race, which had to be nice (of course, they also had to fight it for the first half, plus run up my least favorite hill in DC).  The marathoners had to fight it for the last miles of their race, which had to suck for them.
  • The second and third place women ended up running well over 21 minutes.  So apparently I really had nothing to worry about in terms of preserving the win - in the second half of the course, my lead went from 8 seconds to over 90.  
  • Parking on Capitol Hill worked great for getting home post-race also.  Just cruise over to the exit ramp for 395, and then drive back under all the road closures to exit the city.
  • I debated which shoes to wear for this race - my flats (Takumi Sen) or my longer race shoes (Adios).  I decided to go with the Adios again.  My goal half-marathon is next weekend, and I decided I'd feel REALLY dumb if I tweaked something racing a frigid and slow 5K that I didn't really care about in flats.
  • As I noted above, I also wore a longsleeve this week, to test how I liked it versus a singlet for short races in the 20s.  The longsleeve was the better choice.  I felt comfortable, and not too hot until the third mile of the race.  I have few different longsleeves with the team logo, and I wore the one that was most form-fitting, to minimize wind.  Yes, I think about these things. Feel free to judge.
    My heart rate reading for the 5K.
    Note the big jump in HR that correlates with
    when I started to feel like I was overheating.
  • Normally, I'd be a bit worried about a 5K this slow as a tune-up for my half.  But I've run this race before (albeit on a slightly different course) and was slow then also.  I think it's just not a fast course.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Training log - Week ending 3/5/17

This week was 43 miles of running,  16 "miles" of pool-running, and 2000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

This week was bookended by a great workout in great weather and a decent race in somewhat less good weather.    I asked my coach afterwards if he thought I should back off of the workout paces some -- I have a bad habit of running my workouts a bit too hard that I'm always trying to resist.  And when a race time doesn't quite match up to workouts, it's a warning sign.  But my coach seems to think that I'm fine, and I trust his judgement more than mine on these things.

I did play around with my pre-race schedule a bit this week.  Traditionally, my coach recommends a mile at 10K pace two days before a race if there's a gap of several days between the previous workout and a race.  I like this as well - I feel that I get stale if I don't have something to turn my legs over.   The trick is to do something that perks me up but doesn't take anything out of me, and the mile at 10K pace is a good mix of intensity and limited duration.

However, though the mile at 10K pace seems to work well as prep for races of 10K or longer, I don't like it so much for shorter races - it's just too long and not fast enough for the shorter distance.  So I tried an 800 at 5K pace this time.  Which I ran too fast.  Which was a precursor to my going out too fast on Sunday.  So either I need to be sure to slow that 800m down to true 5K pace, or experiment with something else.


Monday: In the morning, yoga and 6 "miles" pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

: In the morning, 11 miles including a workout of  4x1200 in 4:29, 4:23, 4:21, 4:18.  Followed with injury prevention work and 1000 yards recovery swimming.  Foam roller at night.

Wednesday:  In the morning, 8 miles (9:14) to yoga, yoga, and then another 3 miles (8:47), followed by drills and strides.  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday: In the morning, upper body weights/core and 6 "miles" pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday: In the morning, 7 miles, most at very easy pace (9:29) but with a fast 800 (2:59) to get legs turning over.    Followed with, drills, strides, and light injury prevention work, plus foam rolling .

Saturday:  In the morning, 3 miles very easy (8:48).  Foam rolling in the evening.

Sunday: In the morning, 3 mile warm-up,  5K race in 19:27, and then 5 miles of cooldown+cheering.  Later did 1000 yards recovery swimming and 4 "miles" of pool-running.   Foam rolling in the evening.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Race report: St. Patrick's Day 5K, March 5, 2017

I ran the St. Patricks 5K today, finishing in a time of 19:27, which was good enough for top masters and 6th female overall.

I'm a bit meh about the performance - I thought I was in better shape, and this is a very fast course.  But it wasn't a poor performance by any means, just slightly slower than I had expected to run.

The St. Patricks 10K and 5K are both held on a portion of the lightning fast Cherry Blossom 10 Miler course.  The 5K starts at 8:15 am, while the 10K starts at 9 am - meaning that it's possible to do both races if you can finish the 5K in less than 45 minutes.  And quite a few people do complete the "double."  It's not for me though.  I know myself, and there's no way I could give 100% in the 5K if I had another race lurking.   One and done.

I was originally entered in the 10K but opted to drop down to the 5K for a few reasons.  The first was that I've run the 10K the last two years, and wanted to try a different course.  Additionally, I had a pet theory that the 5K was actually a slightly faster course than the 10K - this was based on my observation that many friends had been slightly disappointed in their 10K performances last year.   Finally, I'm trying to work on my speed this spring, and racing 5Ks plays right into that.  Even if the race doesn't go as I wanted, I'm getting something out of racing the distance.

When I saw the weather forecast, I debated sticking with the 10K instead.  Frigid temperatures (low 20s) were predicted for the morning, and the 10K would be slightly warmer than the 5K because of the later start time.  Additionally, the longer distance of the 10K meant more time to warm-up and ease into the race - very helpful when it's sub-freezing.  But I decided to stick with the 5K.  I often run very well when it's really cold, so no reason to shy away.


The morning was as cold as predicted (24 degrees, DP of -8), but with bright sunshine and a fair amount of wind.  I had debated whether to race in a longsleeve shirt or a singlet, and started my warm-up in my longsleeve with a jacket on top.   (tights were a given).   But, as I thought more about it, I remembered tempo workouts in similar conditions where I felt too hot in a longsleeve, so I switched into my singlet before donning my jacket again for the rest of my warm-up.   The fact that I find it difficult to get into a racing mindset when wearing a longsleeve also factored in.

(since I was wearing a sportsbra underneath, I just changed from longsleeve to singlet on the lawn by the start area - wearing nothing but a sportsbra for a few comic moments.  This earned me a few stares unrelated to how well or poorly endowed I am, bra size-wise.)

With about 10 minutes to go, I gave my coach my jacket and longsleeve,   And I started to question my choices (sartorial and otherwise).  Oh well, I was committed.  Fortunately there was a metallic space blanket lying on the ground, so I "rescued" it to get me through the remaining minutes in the corral.

With 40 seconds to go before race start, I tossed the blanket.  Then the horn went off and the race started.

The course starts with an uphill for about 60 seconds, while the balance of the first mile is flat to downhill.  I went out cautiously on the uphill, but then picked up the pace as soon as I crested it.  During my last 5K, I had gone out too cautiously for too long, and I wanted to avoid that this time around.    Soon, I ended up running with a pack of masters runners (and friends) from another running club, and so I hung with them for a the first mile.  I could tell we were running a strong pace, but I also felt tight and stiff, with my stride restricted, so that my speed was coming from leg turnover, rather than stride length.  A stiff wind was blowing directly at us, and I was freezing.  I felt tense and locked up - not good.
A bit after the first mile, there is a hairpin turn (the only one on course), and then a long straightaway. After the hairpin turn, I backed off the effort slightly to try to get myself to relax a bit, and to lengthen my stride.  Despite this, I was still passing people regularly, which was reassuring.   I saw a woman in green up ahead slowly coming back to me, so I reeled her in while staying relaxed.  My stride still didn't feel great, but it felt better than it had previously.  Once we passed mile 2, I started chasing in earnest.
I'm a failure as a blogger, because I never include pictures
of myself.  So here you go.  I refuse to do that instagram thing
with the pace and time and distance on the bottom, though.
(photo by Cheryl Hendry Young)

In the third mile, the course has some slight elevation changes.  Only one of them, near the end, is a hill, the others are best described as "undulations."  I worked these very slight rollers, using each "descent" to build a bit more speed as I continued to reel others in.

The course ends just like the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler - up a moderate hill, and then a nice downhill to the finish line.  I know how to run this finish - attack the hill, and then let the downhill carry you to the finish.  So that's what I did, surging authoritatively past woman in green.

Only to learn that this strategy works better for the 10 miler - probably because of the lower oxygen debt involved in that distance.   This time, when I crested the top, I started tying up.  The last 200m was run on fumes, with woman in green passing me back - adding insult to my already injured ego.  I still finished respectably, but without the strong downhill kick I'd envisioned.


My manual  race splits were:

Mile 1: 6:03
Mile 2: 6:29
Mile 3: 6:18
last bit: 0:37 (downhill assist)

It's worth noting that the first mile marker was off a fair bit, so these splits aren't as uneven as they first appear.  My Garmin claims that the first mile was run at 6:11 pace, and the second at 6:17.  So not bad by any means, though still a fade from start to end.  Especially since the 6:11 was into a headwind and the 6:17 had mostly a tailwind.

The heart rate data from this race is interesting.

 It's pretty clear that my effort eased up some in the second mile.  Part of this could be explained by the course - there was a substantial wind that was a tailwind for most of the second mile, but a headwind for the rest of the course.  The direction of the wind matches exactly with the dip in heart rate here.  But  I also lost focus and gave up time here, and it shows in both the heart rate and the split  So that's something to work on for next time - go out slightly more conservatively in the first mile, and then stay focused and build in the second mile.

(BTW, anyone who follows my heart rate geeking will note that these are pretty low heart rate values for me - my maximum heart rate is in the low 190s.  However, I've noted that when temps get very cold and I'm chilled, my running heart rate values stay very low for even the hardest of efforts.  I think that's what happened here.)

My other takeaway is that I should make more of an effort to stay warm before and during these very cold short races.   As a friend noted, 5K is so short that if you overheat slightly in the last mile, it won't make too much difference.   My stride, which felt fluid and long during a great workout on Tuesday, felt tight, stiff, short today, and I think that's because I was too cold from being underdressed.  

(Of course, if I'd dressed warmer, I might be writing right now about how I just don't run my best when I'm overdressed...)


Ah well, though not the time I wanted, this race was still faster than last month's 5K, which was on a faster course in better weather.  So there is definitely progress.  And it wasn't too long ago that I wasn't consistently breaking 20, so it's nice to be over that hump again.

Other notes:

  • Got to the race at 7:15 for an 8:15 start, which was the perfect time to find parking.  An added bonus to racing the 5K is the earlier start means better parking and better availability of restrooms.
  • Wore singlet, heavy mittens with handwarmers, headband, and thin running tights.  Right after the race, I thought this was the right choice, since I was comfortable in the last mile.  Problem is - that was only 1/3rd the distance.  As I've already alluded to above, I think next time in these temperatures for this distance, I'll go with the long sleeve shirt.
  • I think I finished my warm-up too early for this race too, and stood in the corral for too long (10+ minutes).  Normally, this isn't an issue.  But I think that when it is this cold, if I'm going to dress lightly, I need to take care to stay moving and warm as long as possible,  Or alternately, I can just wear more clothes.
  • Having now raced the 5K and the 10K, I prefer the 5K course.  Which is unusual, because I almost always prefer longer races over shorter.    But I think the 5K course has a better flow.  And it's nice to be done first, before cheering your teammates on.
  • Breathing was pretty good for this race.  Not great, but then again, the air was very very dry, so challenging for many people, including those without asthma.
  • Got to run next to my podiatrist for part of this race.  It's always nice to be running with him, rather than sitting in an office with him, pointing at my foot.
  • I debated whether to wear my Adios 2s (my shoe for longer races and track workouts) or my Takumi Sens (what I use for mile races - they've also done me well for up to 10 miles).  I finally went with the Adios.  This was partially because I wasn't crazy about the Takumi Sens when I wore them on Friday, but mostly because with the cold temperatures, I wanted the extra protection and structure of the Adios (slightly heavier, with a higher heel).  
  • Nearly all of my teammates in the 10K had great performances, with many PRs.  Which completely disproves my theory that the 10K isn't a great course.  In the best possible way.