Sunday, April 30, 2017

Training log - Week ending 4/30/17

This week was 54 miles of running,  15 "miles" of pool-running, and 2000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

I ended up skipping the Tuesday workout in favor of easy running with a friend.  My coach had designated the workout optional for anyone who had raced Pike's Peek on Sunday (to be fair, we're all adults who do this for fun - so all workouts are technically optional).  I might have been fine to do the workout in other circumstances, but I was slightly tired from non-running-life-stuff going into the 10K, and then compounded the fatigue by helping a friend move on Sunday afternoon.  As of Monday afternoon I was wiped, and a Tuesday morning workout would have done more harm then good.  First rule of training - if you're sliding into a hole, reach for a ladder, not a shovel.

By Friday I was feeling recovered, so I headed out for tempo.  The air was a bit thick and humid, so I started out conservatively.  My coach was absent (he had gone with some of my teammates to the US Half-Marathon Championships) so I didn't have him calling out splits each lap.  After the first four laps, I checked the split and was pleasantly surprised that what felt like a super cautious 6:4x was actually 6:28.  And that held true for the rest of the tempo.  All of which is a good sign for the Broad Street 10 Miler this coming Sunday, where I hope to break 65 minutes.


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

: In the morning, 10 miles easy (9:12) with drills and strides, followed by upper body weights and core.  Foam roller at night.

Wednesday:  In the morning, 7 miles (9:11) to yoga, yoga, and then another 5 miles (9:13), followed by drills and strides.  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday: In the morning, upper body weights/core and 9 "miles" pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday: In the morning, 10 miles including a 4 mile tempo in 25:32 (6:28/6:28/6:24/6:12).  Followed with injury prevention work and 1000 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Saturday:  In the morning, 10 miles very easy (8:52) with drills and strides.  Later that morning I did upper body weights plus core and injury prevention work.  Foam rolling in the evening.

Sunday: In the morning, 12 miles progressive, split as first 4 at 8:43, next 4 at 7:50, last 4 at 6:56.  Followed with injury prevention work and 1000 yards recovery swimming.   Foam rolling in the evening.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Training log - Week ending 4/23/17

This week was 34 miles of running,  32 "miles" of pool-running, and 2000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

Another oddly structured week.    After Tuesday's workout, which was great (but too fast), I received an email from my coach confirming that the morning's workout had been great.  But too fast.  And it would be a good idea to pool-run on Wednesday and Thursday to be safe.

My coach doesn't send emails like that for kicks, so I took it seriously.  Pool-running it was (I grumbled).  Better two days voluntarily than a week or more involuntarily.

I suspect my coach was also trying to rest me up for this weekend's 10K.  Unfortunately, and unbeknownst to him, this was not a particularly restful week.  I had a conference in downtown DC on Wednesday and Thursday that resulted in a LOT of walking up and down stairs and from building to building.  

And then Friday and Saturday were my 25th high school reunion.  (yes, I know that I graduated from high school around the same time some of my teammates were born).  More walking.  More standing.  More socializing in large groups, which drains introvert me.  So...not ideal from a recovery/race prep standpoint.  But not every race is a goal race mandating obsessive rest.  Life is important too, and the reunion was awesome and more than worth any detriment to my Sunday race performance.

I did take an ice bath on Saturday to try to pep my legs up a little.  Life got exciting when one of our kittens decided to check out the bar of soap on the opposite side of the tub and slipped partially into the ice bath (back end).  What was hilarious was that Quartz was so focused on the elusive and alluring soap bar that she paid the ice water no heed.  So there we both sat - me shivering and her pawing at the soap bar.  She didn't start squawking until I extricated her from ice bath (and bar of soap).

My recovery tricks didn't work completely - I was still a bit tired on Sunday morning.  But I ran well, so I can't really argue with the result.  I think I got away with it because of the relatively short distance and my marathon background, which enabled me to grind it out.  But I definitely need to prioritize relative rest the next few days to make sure I'm fresh for Broad Street in two weeks, and don't burn out before Grandma's Half in June.


Monday: In the morning, yoga and 7 "miles" pool-running. Foam rolling at night.  (also took the day off from work to track the Boston Marathon)

: In the morning, 12 miles, including a 3.5 mile warm-up (8:58); 2x(1600, 800) in 5:55, 2:49, 5:51, 2:47; 4 mile cooldown (9:08).  Followed with injury prevention work and 1000 yards recovery swimming.  Massage at night.

Wednesday:  In the morning, 12 "miles" pool-running.  Foam rolling at night. (also walked around a conference all day.)

Thursday: In the morning, upper body weights and core and 7 "miles" pool-running.  Foam rolling at night. (also walked around a conference all day.)

Friday: In the morning, 7 miles, most easy (9:05) but with a mile at 6:23 pace.  Followed with drills, strides, and foam rolling.  Touring my old high school at night.

Saturday:  In the morning, 3 miles very easy (9:27) plus DIY yoga to open up my hips.  Foam rolling and an ice bath midday.

Sunday: In the morning, 3 mile warm-up, 10K race in 38:56, 3 mile cooldown.  Around noon, did 6 "miles" pool-running and 1000 yards recovery swimming.  Helped a friend move in the afternoon.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Race report: Pikes Peek 10K, April 23, 2017

I ran the Pike's Peek 10K this morning, finishing in an official time of 38:56, which was good enough for second masters female.  I'm also debating whether to call this a 10K PR (more on that below).

First of all - an aside - it really is "Peek" and not "Peak."  It's a play on words, referring both to the famous Pikes Peak in Colorado and the fact that nearly all of this race is run on the Rockville Pike in suburban Maryland.

Also, unlike the "Pikes Peak" marathon (which is uphill), this race has traditionally been quite downhill.  And that was one of the reasons I'd avoided it.  I've run this race twice before, and run a time ridiculously faster than anything I was capable of on a flat course - which then set me up for frustration when I couldn't come close to my Pike's Peek time on a flat course.  And I'd feel utterly trashed after the race to boot.  Thus the downhill course was also a mental and physical downer.

So why did I run it this year? all goes back to several months ago, when some of my high school classmates noted that our 25th reunion was coming up, and wouldn't it be fun to run a race on Sunday morning.  I was up for it, so I researched options, and concluded that Pike's Peek was probably the best choice, due to distance, location, and start time.  So...what the heck.    Plus I had heard that the course was changed and was now significantly slower - it would be fun to check it out.


Fast forward to this week, which ended up being fairly draining.  Wednesday and Thursday were the annual meeting for a professional organization I'm fairly involved in (The "International Association of Privacy Professionals" - and yes, it's hilarious that this "privacy professional" maintains a blog in which she covers all sorts of personal stuff, some of which is TMI).  And then Friday and Saturday were my high school reunion, with cocktail parties both nights.  So... lots of walking,..lots of socializing.

By Saturday, I was pretty tired and tempted to skip the 10K.  And I was honestly enjoying the reunion far more than I ever dreamed I would (seriously, it was so much fun).  But I kept looking at the forecast, which just kept looking better and better.  Cool, not much wind, with the potential for showers.

So...I reluctantly left the Saturday night reunion party early, to ensure an early bed time to match my early wake-up (4:40 am).  It was really hard to leave - I don't think I would have if the Sunday morning forecast hadn't been so perfect.  

(I will note that, as hard as it was to depart the party early, it was easier than trying to explain to my coach why I decided at the last minute to party and sleep in instead of running a very fast 10K course on a perfect weather day).


Sunday dawned, and it was (as expected) nearly perfect.  My only quibble was that I would have preferred light rain - both because it tamps down the pollen and because I think I run relatively faster in rain than other people - literally a competitive advantage.  But the lack of rain was a very small negative.  Still a near perfect day.

As I did my warm-up jog, I noted the change in the course - while 90% of the course is the same, the start line had been moved, so that we ran through the old start line a quarter mile after starting.  This was significant because the previous start was at the top of a hill; the new start was at the bottom of that same hill.

During my warm-up, I made a point of running up the hill, and measuring the distance on my Garmin.  Just a bit less than a quarter-mile.  Then I did some quick math - a quarter mile at 6:20 pace is 1:35; a quarter at 7:00 pace is 1:45.  Thus, even if I went out super slow on the uphill, I'd only lose 10 seconds, which I could easily make up during the next 6 miles.

Armed with that knowledge, I reaffirmed my intention (that's yoga-speak) to go out very carefully.  A quick chat with my coach altered that strategy slightly - I'd stay conservative all the way until the left turn onto Rockville Pike (about a half mile into the course).  Then I'd start racing.

With my race strategy set and my warm-up+strides completed, I lined up.  There was masters prize money on the line (determined by gun time) so I lined myself up close to the front of the race, but off to one side so that I wasn't an impediment.  I had noted a very fast local masters runner warming up, and I knew that if she ran a decent race I wouldn't be near her.  But, anything can happen in a race, so best to preserve my chances for the masters win, even if it was only an outside possibility.

Then we started.  Per my plan, I went out carefully.  I was actually surprised by how few people passed me.  This race usually goes out quite hard, with people paying the price later in the race.  Not this time - everyone was working off of the same memo I was apparently.  Fine with me - it was nice not being over-run from behind.

Then we turned onto the Pike, and I flipped into race mode, scanning where I was versus other people, where the packs were forming, and where the tangents were (the race has some very slight curves).  And also how I felt.  My legs didn't feel great - not awful, but not as bouncy as I'd like for a half mile into a 10K.  Not great - but not surprising - I had been on my feet a LOT this week.

I was also mentally in a bit of a funk - I think it was just mental fatigue from all the events of the past week.  I always have to work during races to stay in a positive place, and I was straining today to do that, due to the mental fatigue.

Somewhere pretty early in the course, my coach had parked on the side of the course, to observe us as we came through.  When he saw me, I was running by myself.  He barked a command at me to catch the pack ahead - which had the desired effect - I snapped out of it.  In short order I caught the pack, and then passed them (they were slowing).  So I was by myself again.  But I was also in a different mental place now - more focused - and that made all the difference.

The next few miles were the Pike's Peek I remembered - rolling hills, with the uphills being surprisingly significant.  For out-of-towners - this race has a similar feel to CIM, and the hills are similar in the steepness and length.

There was a pack ahead with two of my teammates, and so I spent the next few miles reeling them in - I had hopes of catching their pack, but wasn't quite able to do it.  But just having them creep back towards me helped.

By Mile 5 I was running on fumes.  Somebody announced "the winner has just crossed the line," and I thought "fuck you."  (Apparently everyone else thought the same thing - what a demoralizing thing to announce.)  But I reminded myself that I was a marathoner, and one more mile was a very short distance.  And I grinded on.

This course ends with another left turn onto Marinelli Road, and then a downhill sprint to the finish.  I kicked with what I had, which didn't seem like much.  But I got myself across the line respectably, and noted with satisfaction that I had broken 39.  Woo.

Splits were:
Miles 1-2: 12:35 (6:18)
Mile 3: 6:12
Mile 4: 6:16
Mile 5: 6:19
Mile 6: 6:24
last bit: 69 seconds (5:30 pace)

So...a positive split, but I think that's in part the course - the first half is unquestionably faster than the second, and the last mile appears to be uphill, according to the elevation profile.

As for the fastness of the course - that's definitely changed as well.   While most of the course is the same, the changes to the start (now uphill) and the finish (no longer as downhill as it was) really have changed the nature of the course.

Looking at USATF course documetation (because I'm a numbers girl) - the old course had a drop of 5.8 meters per kilometer.  This course? 2.2 m/km.  By comparison, the Boston Marathon has a drop of 3.23 m/km, CIM has a drop of 2.45 m/km.  The Broad Street 10 Miler has a drop of 2.59 m/km.  All more than this race.  And that doesn't mention the crazy-fast-eyerolly courses like Clarendon Day 5K (12.2 m/km)

Plus... my 10K time today is close to but not quite as good as my half-marathon performance at Shamrock.  Similarly, my teammates who ran Cherry Blossom a few weeks back had equivalent performances today.

All of this points towards calling this a legit PR.   I just need to (over)analyze it (to death) a bit more before I electronically etch the new number onto the eternal granite of the ephemeral internet.

Other notes:

  • Weather was awesome - temperature of 45, DP of 42, not much wind.  What a great day.
  • Warm-up was 3 miles, including a quarter mile at hard tempo effort about 20 minutes before, plus drills and four strides.  Cooled down for 3 after to give me 12 for the day.
  • The pollen was notable, but not a huge issue.  Watery eyes and I was snotty, but that doesn't affect my running much.   I can't say my breathing was perfect today, as I did feel slightly tight.  But nothing like the issues I had a few weeks ago.  Yay for Xolair.  (I did puff my inhaler pre-race just to be safe).
  • I left my house at 6:15, which was perfect for getting me to the race start by 6:45 (race started at 7:50).   I made a point of not parking in the first lot available, but the very last,  Which was also the closest to the start line.  So woo.
  • I did nearly forget to run with my metro farecard - that would have been an issue, since we park at the start for this race, and metro back to the start from the finish after.  I guess worst case scenario I could have run back to the start.
  • I am tired, but nowhere near as sore as I've been in the past after this race.  I think less drop also means less abuse on the body.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Training log - Week ending 4/16/17

This week was 46 miles of running,  12 "miles" of pool-running, and 2000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

My running week generally has a routine - intervals on Tuesday, tempo on Friday, long run on Sunday.  This week I wanted to race a mile on Wednesday night, which threw everything into flux.   A Wednesday evening race meant that I couldn't do a workout on either Tuesday or Friday.  Tuesday was too close to the race, while Friday morning was too soon after.  Yes - there are others who can race a mile on Wednesday night and tempo 36 hours later, but experience has taught me (painfully), that I personally need more recovery time.

So, that meant that I could only do one of the three prescribed workouts this week.  I felt that since I'm not marathon training right now, I was better served by a 4 mile tempo than a progressive long run.  My coach agreed, so I ended up tempoing on Saturday morning, followed by an easy 12 miles on Sunday.

The tempo was a pleasant surprise.  After Wednesday's race, I was trashed.  For whatever reason, mile races always beat me up more than 5K races, and this one was no exception.  The fact that I "recovered" from the race by first driving for 80 minutes and then taking a hot shower before having a sleepless night didn't help either.  My post-race/workout recovery routine of a swim in cold water really does make a difference, and I missed it here.

So, even by Saturday I was still a bit sore and sluggish.  But the workout was a tempo, which is not supposed to be a really hard workout, so I thought I'd give it a try anyway.  Because I suspected I'd be running slower than my norm, I set my Garmin to autolap each mile and resolved to run the tempo off of effort, not checking splits until I finished.  That way I'd run the workout at the correct effort, rather than getting frustrated if my splits were slower than usual.

So, I did the workout on Hains Point - a flat and fast circular road with perfect GPS reception.  I checked my Garmin when I finished, and....I had just run my fastest 4 mile tempos in several years- notably faster than anything I've run on the track this year.  So that was a very nice surprise.  Especially since I felt sluggish for much of the workout.

Even better yet was that the pollen on Hains Point was a total non-issue.  I credit my Xolair shot - the "hail mary" of allergy/asthma treatment - for this.

I got the Xolair shot (my first) on Monday at noon.  [reminder - this is an "IGE inhibitor" drug given to people who have allergies/asthma that is not completely responsive to other drugs.  Xolair is totally legal under WADA/USADA both in and out of competition]

The Xolair injection is a structured procedure.  First, I have to call the doctor's office 30 minutes in advance to confirm that I'm coming in, so that they can mix up the medication.  This is because it's extremely expensive (about $1K a shot, and I get two shots each session) and is only usable for four hours after being mixed - they don't want to mix it up and then have me no-show.

Once I get the injections, I have to sit in the waiting room for 2 hours, because of a very small risk of going into shock.  After the two hours is up, then I'm free to go, but I have to carry an epi-pen with me for the next 24 hours, just in case.

[BTW, epi-pens are huge and hard to run with.   About the size of a baton used in a high school relay.  So no tucking in a sports-bra - I had to run with a spi-belt to carry it the next morning.]

In case anyone's wondering, I did NOT go into anaphylactic shock and force a reenactment of Pulp Fiction.  So that was nice.  I did suffer from silent hypochondria while I sat in the waiting room, but I think that's normal.

There were some side-effects over the first few days after the shot.  Basically, mild flu-like symptoms - my resting heart rate was elevated, I was more tired than normal, with a lot of trouble concentrating and a headache.  Also achy muscles, hot flashes, and nausea.  Not fun.  I felt lousy enough on Wednesday morning that I debated skipping the mile race.  But, it was only a mile and I'd always wanted to do it, so I gave it a try anyway.  And was glad I did.

By Friday (four days post shot) the side-effects had subsided, with the exception of the injection sites on each arm.  Those are still sore and apparently will be for some time to come - just the nature of the shot.  Wonderfully, I noted that the pollen was bothering me much less.  Almost like tree pollen season had passed, though according to we're still peaking.

So that was great news. If it continues to work, I should be able to reduce or even eliminate all my other asthma/allergy medications, which would be awesome.  Even better was the call I got from my insurance on Saturday confirming that they would cover my future injections (you have to submit an application to be covered, with evidence demonstrating that you have "moderate to severe allergic asthma" and that you have tried literally everything else first).  So woo-hoo.

It was a good end to a good week.


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

: In the morning, 7 miles easy (9:02) plus drills and strides, and then upper body weights and core.  Foam roller at night.

Wednesday:  In the morning, 3 miles easy (9:17)).  In the evening, foam rolling and stretching, then a 3 mile fartlek warm-up (most at 9:00 pace, but with a minute nearly all out), followed by a 1 mile race in 5:08.  1 mile cool-down after (9:28 pace).

Thursday: In the morning, 1000 yards swimming and 6 "miles" pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday: In the morning, 9 very easy miles (9:23) plus drills and then upper body weights and core. Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Saturday:  In the morning, 10 miles, including a 3 mile warm-up (8:43), a four mile tempo in 25:28 (6:31/6:23/6:18/6:16), and then a 3 mile cool-down (8:32). Followed with injury prevention work and 1000 yards recovery swimming, plus foam rolling.

Sunday: In the morning, 12 miles very easy (8:45), followed by drills and two strides, and then foam rolling.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Race report: Main Street Mile April 12, 2017

I ran the Main Street Mile in Westminster Maryland last night, officially finishing in 5:08.87 - good enough for third overall female.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I'll kick this report off with a image of the course profile, via my friend PJ's Strava.

Yes, we ran it from left to right
I've wanted to run this race for years.  I really enjoy road miles - they're low pressure and usually don't hurt until they're almost over.  And they exclude all the things I dislike about the track - pack-running, soft surfaces, and turns.  However, there aren't that many road miles within driving distance, and many of those that do exist conflict with other spring races.  To that point, this race conflicts with a) recovery from the Cherry Blossom 10 miler, and b) tapering for the Boston Marathon.  Fortunately, this year I did neither Cherry Blossom nor Boston, which left me open to run this mile.

Getting to Westminster was a bit of  headache - while only 70 miles from my home, it's still a tough drive. The first half of the drive involves the Potomac River crossing on the Beltway, followed by Interstate 270 - both are major clog points during rush hour.  The second half traverses MD Route 27 - a two lane state highway that can be fast if you're not stuck behind a truck or school bus.

As it turned out, I wasn't able to leave until just  after 2:30 pm, which meant that I caught the beginning of DC rush hour (in DC, evening rush hour lasts from 2:30 to 8:00 pm...) .  And then once I hit Route 27, I was one of the lucky ones to be caught behind (yup) first a truck and then a school bus that was apparently also going to Westminster.  And that's how it took me 2 hours to drive 70 miles.

Fortunately, the race didn't start until 7 pm, so arriving at 4:30-ish still gave me plenty of time to grab my bib, head over to the local Golds Gym to stretch out my hips, and then park at the race finish before starting my warm-up at 6:15.


I knew that my friend PJ from Baltimore was planning on running this, and fortunately I ran into him and a friend at the very start of my warm-up.  Our warm-up consisted of running up the course, grateful that the race itself would go the other way.  Once at the top, there were some side roads to jog back and forth on to complete warming up.  Consistent with my plan for mile races, I did 60 seconds hard about 15 minutes before race start (my first interval in track workouts always sucks, so I like to get that one out of the way before I race).  Then I just did a mix of jogging, standing, and strides to keep my blood up while not wasting too much energy.

The city did not close the road until right before the race was to start, so there was no clear indication of where the start line was.  I wasn't quite sure where the finish line was either - it wasn't marked when we jogged up to the start.  So I programmed my Garmin to auto-lap and vibrate every quarter-mile.  I wasn't planning on checking splits during the race, but I wanted some sort of cue to let me know where I was on the course (and more importantly, how far I was from the finish).

At around 6:59, the police closed the road down and we entered the street.  Still no formal indication of a start line and no timing mat, just a race official pointing at a place on the road.  And then we were off.

PJ had run this race several times before, and had advised that the first quarter mile was very fast, and that it was best to try to cruise it.  OK - I could do that - fit very well with my usual (and coach-driven) strategy of "start slow/finish fast."

I didn't follow my plan very well.  I think part of it was that I was impatient to get the race over with (I had spent way too much time driving up to and hanging out in Westminster at this point).  Part of it was that everyone went out fast.  And lot of it was the screaming downhill start (see graph above).

I realized fairly quickly that I had gone out too fast, and started to pull back some - I already felt the first bits of lactic acid.  It's a downhill course, and so I still had a shot of saving it.

And then my watch pulsed for the first time, and I realized I still had most of the race to go.  While already feeling the burn I normally associate with the third quarter.  Ooops.

Nothing to do but try to hold it together.  It was a downhill race, which would help.  But this one was going to hurt.

The next four minutes were some of the longest of my life.  When people call the mile a "middle distance" I think that should be caveated - it's only a middle distance if you pace it well.  If you go out too fast, it's a very long distance.

I held it together by ignoring how far I had to go, instead concentrating on holding my form together. Stretching tall, keeping my core engaged and shoulders relaxed, and not overstriding - the downhill could do the work for me if I could just keep from tying up.

At one point I started to lose focus - on the "uphill" part of the course in the third quarter (which was actually a nearly flat section that felt uphill because it wasn't downhill).  Fortunately, PJ and I were running close together at that point, and he said something encouraging  - I can't remember what it was, but I refocused.

Then my Garmin buzzed wonderfully for the third time, and I knew I had less than 90 seconds left.  I just closed my eyes and focused on form even more, if possible.  I was tying up, but if I could just keep loose, the downhill finish would save my race for me.  And it did.

I did open my eyes enough to a) steer into the finishing chute and b) note the clock.  It was still reading 4:xx when I first saw it, which was surreal.  But I was hurting so much that I didn't really process it.  I just wanted to be done.  And then I was.


Official time: 5:08.87.  (it was 5:10.84 on my Garmin, but I didn't hit stop until I crossed the second timing mat, and I also had to fumble at my watch some).

Splits (per autolapped Garmin) were 71/80/83/76.  So, I flagrantly violated the "start slow/finish fast" rule, instead kicking off the race with a 71 second quarter.  To put this in perspective, I don't believe I'm capable of running a stand-alone 400m on the track in 71 seconds.

(I could probably do 76 seconds from a flying start.  Or 90 seconds if I used sprinter blocks.)

But that's the power of race adrenaline and a steep downhill, combined with a momentary lapse of judgment.  It's also worth noting that I don't necessarily know if I would have run any faster if I had gone out more conservatively.  Start slow/finish fast is my mantra, and it's always worked well for me.  But in a super-short downhill course - perhaps that's the one time that it works best to go out hard and hang on.

The time and the "PR" is all sorts of asterisky - the downhill nature of the course definitely helps one's time.  Especially if you're a really fast downhill runner, as I am.  (I know some others would disagree with me on this - and that's why they call them "personal" records.)  Additionally, I suspect the course may have been slightly short of a mile - it's not a certified course, and the informal nature of the start reduces my confidence of the accuracy of the distance.

But that asterisk doesn't detract from the fact that this was a really fun race, and I'm glad I finally got to do it.


Other notes:

  • I had shown up at the race with hopes of earning the cash prize ($25) for top masters female.  As it turns out, I finished third female overall, and won $30 instead.  The race did not allow "double-dipping" in awards, so another woman got the $25 for masters.  Too bad - it would have been nice to leave with $55.  On the other hand, I've benefited many times from the no double-dipping rule, so I can't get too upset about its application now.
  • Wore my Takumi Sens for this race and loved them - those shoes are awesome for mile races, where I'm running on my forefoot
  • A friend of PJ's was handing out Halls cough drops after the race - absolutely inspired.
  • Eating for evening races is always a challenge, and is one of the reasons I hate racing at night.  I ended up going with my normal pre-run "breakfast" at 1:30 pm, complete with caffeinated gels (Maple Bacon and half a Triberry).  It worked well - I had plenty of energy and a clear gut for the race.  The only downside was the insomnia on Wednesday night.  Which would have most likely happened anyway - evening running screws up my sleep. Another reason I hate running at night.
  • The drive home only took 80 minutes since there was no traffic.  So much better.
  • Despite the very high pollen, no asthma issues (I did take my inhaler before just to be safe).  I was coughing after, but so was everyone else.
  • This course is definitely faster than the other road mile I've run - the Loudoun Street Mile.  How fast exactly?  I don't know.  Hopefully it's not 22 seconds faster, as I'd like to break 5:30 at the Loudoun Street mile next month.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Training log - Week ending 4/9/17

This week was 66 miles of running,  14 "miles" of pool-running, and 1000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

The land mileage is slightly inflated this week, since I ran six days instead of five.  This was because my gashed knee was still technically an "open wound" on Monday, so I couldn't go in the pool.  By Thursday my knee had healed enough that I could go back in the water, so yay.

In other regrouping news, I did a five day course of prednisone this week (Monday through Friday) to try to get last week's asthma flare under control.  By the end of the week my lungs were better - not 100%, but much improved.  And, of course, the prednisone had my legs feeling awesome, so the result was a great workout on Friday despite the remaining tightness in my chest.  I think the math is 80% lungs x 125% legs equals good workout.

As I've noted before, prednisone is allowed outside of competition, but banned in competition.  And there's a very good reason why you can't compete while on it - in my experience, prednisone combines the best parts of a caffeine buzz, the runner's high, and being 20 again.  No aches, no pains, bounce out of bed in the morning.  Uber-woman.

Which doesn't mean that you aren't working hard when you hit the track while on prednisone.  I assure you that both Tuesday and Friday's workouts were hard work.  They were just hard work with a near-guaranteed good result.    Which highlighted to me just how easy it can be to rationalize PED use.

To explain: there's an implicit myth that PEDs like prednisone are a substitute for doing the work - that the cheaters who use them are putting less effort into their training, or not giving their all in races.  It's the PED that does the work, not the runner - hence the cheating.  Or so the thought process goes.

In actuality, I don't doubt that dopers (at least the successful ones) are working very very hard. Doping isn't a substitute for hard work and effort; it's a supplement that enables you to work even harder without breaking.  Taking PEDs means that you can race and then do a hard workout without breaking or overtraining.  It means that if you run your heart out, you're assured of having a great day.

I suspect this myth makes it easier for people to rationalize their own doping.  After all, if "cheaters" use PEDs to make gains without putting in the work, then....if you're putting in the work, then you're not cheating, even though you're using PEDs.

It's elementary level mental gymnastics.  But it's still wrong.


Back to the allergies/asthma: on Monday, I'm trying a new (to me) drug - "Xolair" - to get my allergies/asthma under control (per discussion above, it is allowed in and outside of competition).  It's a once a month shot that stops the "inflammatory cascade" that results in allergies and asthma.

To explain in more-but-still-oversimplified detail for the geekily-inclined... there are people (like myself) who react to pretty much everything, due to having too much "immunoglobulin E" (aka "IGE") floating around in our bodies.  This excessive IGE bonds to "mast cells" and then waits for pretty much anything odd (the "allergen") to show up.

Once an allergen appears, the IGE-mast cell thing does stuff that releases histamines. The histamine release causes the classic allergy symptoms. And then, if you have asthma, the asthma gets triggered by the allergy response.

So....IGE -> IGE+Mast Cell -> histamine release -> allergies -> asthma.

(more technical discussion here)

I'm currently on a combination of asthma drugs and antihistamines, both of which attack a late part of this chain reaction.   In contrast, Xolair addresses the very first link in the chain, blocking production IGE. histamine release, no allergies, no allergic asthma.   Brilliant.

It really is a cool wonder drug (if it works...), without the side effects associated with antihistamines and asthma meds. And yet, it's not in wide use - the obvious question is: why not?

Simple - it's pretty expensive.  On average, about $1000 a shot.  And it's also a bit inconvenient to get the shot - due to a very-very-small-but-not-nonexistent risk of anaphylactic shock, one has to hang out at the doctor's office for a few hours after each shot.  (but at least there's wi-fi).  And it doesn't always work.

But it does work often, eliminating the need for all the other drugs.  It's worth a shot (literally).  What else are health savings accounts for?


Monday: In the morning, 6.5 easy to the gym (8:55), upper body strengthwork and core, and then 1.5 easy home (8:54) plus drills.  Foam rolling at night.

: In the morning, 11 miles including a workout of 6x800 in 3:01, 3:00, 2:58, 2:58, 2:56, 2:52.  Followed with injury prevention work.  Foam roller at night.

Wednesday:  In the morning, 8 miles easy (8:48) to yoga, yoga, and then another 4 miles (8:54), followed by drills and strides.  Massage at night.

Thursday: In the morning, upper body weights/core and 10 "miles" pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday: In the morning, 11 miles including a track workout of 2x3200m in 12:46 (6:26/6:20) and 12:35 (6:20/6:15).  Followed with injury prevention work and 1000 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Saturday:  In the morning, 10 miles very easy (9:07) with drills and strides.  Late that morning I did upper body weights plus core and injury prevention work.  Foam rolling in the evening.

Sunday: In the morning, 14 miles progressive, split as first 3 at 9:17, next 6 at 7:53, last 5 at 6:57.  Later did 4 "miles" pool-running.  Foam rolling in the evening.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Training log - Week ending 4/2/2017

This week was 36 miles of running, 6 "miles" of pool-running, and 1000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

Heh.  Not the greatest week.  It started to go downhill on Tuesday, with a workout that felt far harder than it should have.  My breathing wasn't great, which I attributed to the slightly warm and humid weather.  A puff of my rescue inhaler got me through it, and I decided to put it out of my mind, except for making an effort to really rest up over the next few days before my weekend race.

On Wednesday, my plan was to run short and easy, followed by drills and strides.  The "drills and strides" part was cut after I tripped and fell during the run.  My left knee took the full brunt of the fall.  Fortunately, no serious injury - just blood.

[at this point, I'll note that the world can be divided into people that do NOT want to see bloody knees, and those that can't resist the runner's version of a car crash.  For the first group, I omitted any pictures from this post.  For the second group - you can go here to see it in all its glory.]

So...I skipped my drills and strides and went directly home to clean it up.  Only to realize that what I thought was road rash was in fact a deep gash.  So off to the local urgent care center to get it checked out, cleaned up, and bandaged by professionals.  The good news was that no stitches were needed (because there was nothing left to stitch).  The better news was that the knee was a complete non-issue when running - no pain, no distortion of gait, nothing.

The bad news was (and is) that I can't go into the pool until the gash is no longer an "open wound."  No pool-running, no swimming.  As of Sunday it's still not ready for prime-time, so I suspect I'll be out of the water a few more days.

My breathing continued to be a concern for the rest of the week - which I attributed to the high pollen.  Not horrid, but not great.   I went ahead and targeted the Monument Avenue 10K anyway - rain was in the forecast for the day before, and my hope was that it would tamp down the pollen. Plus, between the fact that I'm in really good shape and the relatively short distance of a 10K, perhaps some race magic would happen.  It has before, after all.

But not this weekend.  Oh well.  Without the bad races, the good races wouldn't be so sweet.

After the race, I didn't feel great, so I skipped a cooldown.  No reason to pound my body more.  I decided to skip running on Sunday as well, save for a bit of jogging around at Cherry Blossom (where the weather was fantastic, though the pollen continued to be horrid - I HATE BLOOMING TREES).  Better to take a day off to recover, especially since I can't pool-run on Monday.

I have a prescription for a five day burst of prednisone to take when my asthma flares, so I'm starting that to get things under control again.  Under WADA/USADA rules, prednisone is legal out of competition, but not in competition.  So if I had started it this week, I would have had to skip racing this weekend.  But I have no races planned for the near future, so no reason not to take it now.  I'm also going to see the asthma/allergy doctor to see if there's anything else we can try.


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

: In the morning, 10 miles, including a track workout of 4x1200 in 4:24, 4:25, 4:27 and 4:25.  Followed with light injury prevention work and 1000 yards of recovery swimming.  Foam roller at night.

Wednesday:  In the morning, 7 miles very easy (9:22), followed by a visit to urgent care.  Later did  DIY yoga and foam rolling.

Thursday: In the morning, light upper body weights and core plus 5  miles very easy (9:07), plus drills, strides, foam rolling.

Friday: In the morning, 3 miles very easy (9:34), followed by foam rolling.

Saturday:  3 mile warm-up and then 10K race in 41:23.  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday: 2 miles as intermittent jogging at Cherry Blossom, followed by yoga.  Foam rolling in the evening.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Race report: Monument Avenue 10K, April 1, 2017

I ran the Monument Avenue 10K this morning, finishing in a time of 41:23.


For those of you carefully tracking my exact paces (which is only me), you'll note that I just ran a 10K race SLOWER than I raced a half-marathon two weeks previously.  And on the 10K course that was the site of my current PR.

Like I said, ouch.  :)

The splits tell part of the story, but not the whole story.  They were: 6:20, 6:23, 6:45, 6:48, 6:56, 6:57, and then 1.18 for the last bit (downhill to the finish).

A graph does provide a nice visual of the morning:

This graphic does exaggerate the elevation changes.
But the walk breaks?  They're real.  And they're SPECTACULAR.  

Essentially, I had a bad breathing day, and there were a whole lotta walking breaks, starting after mile 2.

I'm disappointed, but not completely surprised.  My breathing hasn't been good all week, which I attribute to the pollen.  I was hopeful that with enough rest and hydration I might be able to pull off a solid 10K.  Monument Avenue is a great race and a fast course, and the forecast was for rain through Friday evening.  My hope was that the rain and dampness would linger and tamp down the pollen nicely.

As it turned out, the rain didn't linger, and Saturday morning was dry.  The pollen was noticeable and my breathing wasn't 100%, but I didn't feel ridiculously tight during my warm-up jog, and my legs felt pretty perky.  And past experience has shown that I can feel sub-par during warm-up and still have a good race.   For those reasons and since Monument Avenue is a fast course, I was confident as I lined up (near the back of my corral, to ensure a careful start).  To be proactive, I took two puffs of my inhaler to ensure no issues during the race.

The gun went off, and per my plan, I stayed very conservative until we hit the first of two early turns on course.

(The course has two turns in the first mile - one 90 degrees to the left, and a second 90 degrees to the right a few blocks later.  From there, you just run straight out three miles, and then run another 3 miles back home).

After that turn, I started building.  By the end of the first mile, I felt like I was working hard, but not excessively so.  But over the next half mile, the fatigue started to build and my chest tightened.  Just after mile 2, I reluctantly stepped off course to use my inhaler.  My hope was that I could quickly get stuff back on track.  However, the inhaler only helped a little.  And things quickly tightened up.

When I'm having a bad race, I've learned that I can either stew on the fact that I'm having a shitty race, or I can try to find something positive from it.  Here, I decided to focus on just staying as relaxed and even as possible - something that always helps my races.

Even doing that, I still found myself taking walk breaks - my breathing kept getting completely out of control, and I just couldn't relax my way through it.  Just a shitty shitty day.  So bad as to be comical.

Some days you're the windshield.  Today I was the bug.

Oh well.  I'm a bit bummed, since I drove down to Richmond specifically to set a 10K PR - something that I think is well within my reach.  And I'm not sure when I'll have another chance to run a 10K PR before late fall.  On the other hand, the bad races are what make the good ones so wonderful.  If in some way this race was the karmic payoff for Shamrock, then I'll happily take that trade.

But hopefully, next race the karmic/pollenic balance will swing back the other way.

Other notes:

  • Left home at 5:10 am and arrived in Richmond at 7 am.  Once there, I used the local Golds Gym as my personal staging area - storing my bag and car keys in a locker there, and using their gym for stretching.  I prepaid (using Parkmobile) for a spot in a city garage, but there was no need - there were plenty of spots right outside the gym. Next time, I'll plan on street parking.
  • Wore my Takumi Sens (racing flats)  However, I wasn't too happy with how they felt during the race. I think the Adios just feel a bit faster for anything longer than 5K.
  • Ended up second master - the top masters woman ran 41 minutes...Ugh.  Of course, perhaps she had an awful day too.
  • It was a slightly warm day - 55 degrees at the start, and 60 when I finished.  Not horrible, just a little warmer than most of my training.  I don't think that was much of a factor in my race, though.
  • In my rush to get out the door this morning, I forgot to hide the toilet paper on the top shelf.  Oops...