Sunday, November 26, 2017

Training log - Week ending 11/26/2017

This week was 51 miles of running, 10 "miles" of pool-running, and 1000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

I was sick for the first part of this week. I wasn't so sick that I couldn't run (and running actually made me feel slightly better), but I skipped anything that would have exposed other people to me.  So no yoga and no gym.   

Of course, this was on top of all the other times I've skipped that stuff over the last few weeks due to marathon recovery or social commitments or travel or other time constraints.  And it's apparent in my running.  My gait doesn't feel anywhere near as powerful or fluid as it did just a few months ago. 

There's a magic formula, more or less, that works for me.  It consists of:

  • Very slow easy days.
  • Regular substitution of pool-running for easy days.
  • Workouts that are mostly controlled, with the last rep or mile run fast if I'm feeling good.
  • Drills and strides before or after nearly every run.
  • Yoga 1-2 times a week
  • Upper body and core strengthwork at least twice a week
  • Leg strengthwork, aka injury prevention work (emphasizing lunges and step-ups with heavy weights) at least twice a week.

Those last 4 points seem unimportant, but they're not.  They're key to keeping my running gait smooth and powerful and symmetric.  When I slack on them, my running deteriorates.   I shuffle with no knee lift, I have no power, and I run slightly twisted.

It's time to get back on the horse (metaphorically), to return to doing the little things, not just the miles.


Monday: 7 miles easy (8:58) and foam rolling.

Tuesday: 7 miles, mostly easy, but with two half-mile pick-ups in 3:10 and 3:05 with a half-mile recovery in between.

Wednesday: 3 miles very easy (8:44) and foam rolling.

 3 mile warm-up, 5 mile race in 32:20, and then 2 mile cool-down.  Foam-rolling at night.

Friday: 10 "miles" of pool-running, followed by foam-rolling and yoga.

Saturday: 10 miles very easy (9:17), followed by upper body weights and core. Foam rolling in evening.

Sunday:  14 miles progressive, split as first 4 miles at 8:50 pace, next 5 at 7:47; last 5 at 6:53.  Followed with injury prevention work and 1000 yards recovery swimming.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Race Report: Alexandria Turkey Trot, November 23, 2017

I ran the Alexandria Turkey Trot today, finishing in a gun time of 32:24 for 5 miles.

I went back and forth about whether to race today.  I've been sick the past few days - nothing awful, just moderate fatigue and an achy throat and sinuses.  However, my runs this week had felt OK (I did take Sunday off, which was the worst of it).  By Wednesday night I was confident that I was no longer contagious.  I was still sleeping a ton, but my fatigue was much improved.   Additionally, since my chest wasn't congested, I wasn't worried about running myself into an asthma flare, which has happened in the past.

 So I gave it a shot.  Some of my best races have been when I had a headache or sore throat.  And it was Thanksgiving, so I had to run a Turkey Trot (I'm pretty sure it's a law somewhere).  Plus, I think you gain both experience and fitness every time you race - if I wasn't going to get others sick or set myself back, there was no reason not to give it a shot.

So I packed up my car for the day and headed down to Alexandria.  My Thanksgiving schedule traditionally involves driving directly to my parents' home on the eastern shore of Maryland post-race, so I loaded up with a change of clothes and a packed cooler containing all the food I was bringing plus some ice packs.  Thankfully (you see what I did there) it was a cold morning, so I had no worries about stuff getting too warm in the 6 hours between when I left home for the race and when I got to my parents' place.

I arrived at the race around 7:30 am (it started at 9), which was the perfect time to find parking.  I've learned that Turkey Trots, though massive, are packed with people who don't show up until 30 minutes before the race.  So no matter how big the race is, if you just show up at a reasonable time, you should find a decent parking spot.

Picked up my bib, swapped into my shoes (I went with the Takumi Sens this time) and then started warming up.  I didn't feel great on the warm-up, but that's normal for me, so it didn't bother me.  The weather was wonderful - just the perfect temperature for running fast.

I lined up and we started.  It's been a while since I've run a Turkey Trot - it might have even been a whole year.  Thus I had forgotten about the unique brand of idiocy that infects these races, with those who run once a year sprinting out to the front in the first 400m.  I almost got pushed down twice, until I raised my elbows and started running a bit more defensively.  Sheesh.

The Alexandria Turkey Trot is a variant of an out and back - basically you run a bit to the north, go around a curve and head south for a long time, do a loop at the south end, and then run back north a bit past the start area before curving around to the finish.  There was a bit of a headwind and an elevation climb in the first part of the race before we'd turn.  My game plan was to stay conservative until we turned south, and then start building.

Plans don't always go the way we want them to.  In one of those "of course" moments, my right shoe came untied just as I came around the corner.  I unleashed a volley of profanity (mostly with my inside voice), and stepped off course to remove my gloves and retie my shoe.

The unfortunate thing about this happening so early (besides the fact it happened at all) was that the course was still packed with runners.  I had stepped off on the inside part of a turn, which meant a steady stream of runners that I now had to merge into from a standstill.  More lost time as I waited for a gap - only a few seconds, but it seemed like longer.

Finally, I was able to rejoin the race.  I reminded myself not to panic, but instead to stay patient and build.  Sprinting wasn't going to accomplish anything except a blow-up.

Plus there was the unfortunate detail that my legs were feeling dead anyway, with no spark to them.  Unfortunate, but not all that surprising.  Oh well.  I resolved to put that out of my mind (along with the shoe issue) and just try to chase down as many people as I could during the remainder of the race.

And so that's what I did.  My breathing was actually good the entire race - great even.  And I was pleasantly surprised to discover that what had felt like a downhill run heading south also felt like a downhill run heading back north. I'm not sure how that was possible, but I really didn't mind.

The bad news was that my legs were maxed out.  There was no power and I couldn't turn them over.  Even when I'm dying, when I see the finish line I can still usually find something.  But I had nothing this time.

My final time was 32:24 gun time (this race didn't do chip time).  I unfortunately accidentally paused my Garmin during the shoe tying episode and didn't notice it was paused for some time, so my watch reads 30:15 (not right).  The "elapsed time" on my Strava reads 32:20, so I'll go with that.  Not like it matters anyway.

My splits were:
Miles 1-2: 1.67 miles in 11:02 (I think this was actually 2 miles in 13:08)
Miles 3-4: 2 miles in 12:57
Mile 5: 6:16

I had originally hoped to run significantly faster than 32 minutes here, and I think I'm actually in shape to do so.  But between headcold recovery and the shoe issue, it just wasn't meant to be today.  Oh well.  Sometimes things don't go your way, and at least this wasn't a goal race.

Other notes:

  • The weather was perfect today - low 30s and clear, with mild wind.  The wind was notable in a few stretches, but not awful, especially compared to the past few weeks.
  • This is a really fast course and a great race.  I've done several different Turkey Trots in the DC area over the past few years, but I think this one is my favorite.
  • My one suggestion for improvement - the mile markers were very hard to see here.  This could be improved very easily by purchasing some brightly colored balloons, inflating them, and tying them to each mile marker.
  • I wore the Takumi Sens for this race, rather than my Adios 2s.  In retrospect, I think I would have been better off with the Adios 2s.  The two shoes are very similar, except that the Takumi Sen has a much lower heeldrop and more of the boost in the forefoot (in the Adios, more of the boost is in the heel).  My footstrike differs depending on how fast I am going, and it seems like the Takumi Sen only feels good when I'm up on my forefoot, which means I'm running close to 6:00 pace or faster.  At slower paces - even 6:30-ish, the Takumi Sen feels awkward.  I'm not running 5 miles in 30 minutes right now (no matter what my Garmin says), so I need to stick with the Adios for this distance.
  • The weather was great - temp 34, DP 23.  I wore shorts, a tank top, and arm-warmers, which ended up being the perfect choice for these temps.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Training log - Week ending 11/19/17

This week was 41 miles of running, 10 "miles" of pool-running, and 1000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

For all sorts of non-running related reasons, this was a tough week.  Just a very rough week at work, complicated by a quick trip to central Kansas that I really couldn't do (for work reasons) but also really had to do (because it was my Grandfather's 100th birthday).  So I made it happen.

Happy 100th, Grandpa!

Running wasn't my biggest priority this week, but I managed to make that happen as well.  Mostly.  This week was a little light on the "little stuff" - the yoga, injury prevention work, and recovery swimming.  But that's OK - sometimes something has to give.

While in Wichita, I managed to squeeze in a run in Sedgwick County Park.  I've run there before, and really enjoyed it.  The park features multiple loops of bike trails that are between 1 and 5 miles in circumference, making it easy to string together a decent run.  It's also visually interesting - covered bridges, wind mills, lakes, etc.  Much like Central Park in NYC, I'm sure I'd get sick of it if I had to run in it every day.  But as a "every once in a while" thing, it's great.

In terms of workouts, I adhered to my goal of keeping everything controlled.  Well, mostly - that 2:48 to conclude Tuesday's workout was an exception (though I'm usually allowed to hammer the last rep in a workout if I feel good and don't have a race coming up, so not a huge foul).  
I stole this photo
from the official park website

It was interesting to me how running 800s in ~3:00 felt harder than 2:55.  I've noted this before and I think it's because the slightly slower reps place more stress on the aerobic system (as opposed to anaerobic).  Since I'm a distance runner, that's a good thing.

Friday's tempo was done in the Park, on a very windy morning.  Yes, I know the splits are all over the place.  I assure you the effort was consistent, though - the splits were dramatically affected by the direction I was running.  

This one too.
I mixed things up a bit with a 5 mile warm-up (mostly because I didn't want to start running hard until after sunrise so I could see where I was going), and then 2x2 miles at goal half-marathon pace (so slightly slower than our normal tempo intervals) with a quarter mile recovery (usually we take half a mile).  The workout felt "just hard enough" which was good, and I also liked having the opportunity to practice half-marathon pace.

All the stress and travel finally caught up to me on Sunday, when I woke with achy shoulders and a scratchy throat.  I didn't feel like going running, which was a good indicator (as if the scratchy throat and aches weren't) that I shouldn't go running.

(I was also craving chili, which I only do when I'm sick).

So stayed in bed and took the day off, except for some foam rolling and much zinc and water (and chili).  Hopefully that did the trick.


Monday: Foam rolling, upper body weights/core, and 6 "miles" of pool-running.

Tuesday: 11 miles, including a track workout of 6x800 in 3:05, 3:00, 3:01, 2:58, 2:56, 2:48.  Also injury prevention work and 1000 yards recovery swimming. Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 5 miles easy (9:31) to yoga, yoga, and then 4 miles easy home (8:59) plus drills and strides.  Sports massage in afternoon.

 4 "miles" of pool-running and then traveled to Wichita; a quick upper body weights workout and foam rolling in hotel gym once I got to Wichita.

Friday: 11 miles, including a workout of 2x2 miles at goal half-marathon pace (targeting 6:30-ish) with a quarter mile recovery.  Split 13:08 (6:29/6:39) and 12:51 (6:34/6:17).  Traveled back to DC.  Foam rolling in the evening.

Saturday: 10 miles very easy (8:58), followed by upper body weights and core. Foam rolling in evening.

Sunday:  Off.  Just foam rolling.  And zinc.  And chili.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Training log - Week ending 11/12/2017

This week was 41 miles of running, 13 "miles" of pool-running, and 1000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

First full week of training, punctuated by fast intervals on Tuesday and a race on Saturday.  I'm definitely in good shape for where I am.  Which doesn't mean I'm in great shape right now.   I raced a 5 mile race at what was my 10 mile race pace this weekend.  Which looks awful until one considers that I usually come back from a break by racing 5K to 4 miles at what was previously my half-marathon race pace (and it hurts like heck).  From that perspective, this was a pretty good start.

Tuesday's interval workout looks impressive. Primarily because I ran it way too hard and dug a hole.  Mea culpa - I run my workouts and races off of feel, but when coming off of a break, my feel needs to be recalibrated.  And restraint re-instilled.

I'll back off on the effort some next week, though doing so will mean dropping behind the pack I normally run with.  I've learned over the years that I accomplish nothing when I chase the fitness level I wish I had or used to have, rather than training where I am currently.  Put another way - just because I can run that fast during a workout doesn't mean I should.  And on Tuesday, I shouldn't have run that fast.

(I've also gotten a bit lazy about my easy runs, and let them start rolling a bit.  I need to be riding the brakes more on those as well, now that I'm back in the grind)

I toasted my legs nicely on Tuesday morning, and then compounded the damage Tuesday night by first bouncing around at an industrial show way too much, and then getting too little sleep of poor quality.  Sadly, I don't bounce back from nights like that the way I used to (possibly because I'm 10-20 years older; possibly because I didn't do hard track workouts in the mornings before concerts in the old days), and I felt it for several days after. 

Not that I regret it - I loved catching up with my DC Industrial Scene family (aka "the scene"), and that's what the off season is for.  But now it's time to buckle down and start prioritizing training (and recovery) again.

I entered the Alexandria Turkey Trot (a five miler) on Thanksgiving Day.  It's a fast course, albeit slower than the Richmond 8K (and obviously also 45 meters longer than Richmond).  But I'm still thinking that I may be able to take some more time off of my 5 miler/8K PR.  I'll have a few more workouts under my belt by then, will have better feel for race effort and fast running in general, and also hopefully will be a bit fresher, since I don't plan on frying myself with workout+industrial show+sleep deprivation before that race.


Monday: Foam rolling, yoga, and 7.5 "miles" of pool-running.

Tuesday: 10 miles, including a track workout of 1600, 1200, 2x800, 400 in 5:59, 4:25, 2:53, 2:53, 83.  Also injury prevention work and 1000 yards recovery swimming.  Front Line Assembly/Cubanate/Vampyre Anvil show at night.  (really, a second workout, so deserves note)

Wednesday: 9 miles very easy (8:50) plus drills and strides.  Upper body weights, core, and foam rolling in afternoon.

 DIY yoga and 5.5 "miles" of pool-running; foam rolling at night. 

Friday: 3 mile shakeout (8:45).  Foam rolling in the evening.

Saturday: 3 mile warm-up, and then 8K race in 31:48.  1 mile jog back to hotel. Foam rolling in evening.

Sunday:  10 miles easy (8:58).  Foam rolling in the evening.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Race Report: Richmond 8k, November 11, 2017

I ran the Richmond 8K today, finishing in 31:48 - nicely a PR (with an asterisk) by a few seconds, and also good enough for third master female.

I've wanted to run this race for a while now, but the timing has never seemed to work out.  This year, it fit in nicely as a post-marathon rust-buster.  Admittedly an expensive rust-buster, since I'd have to drive down a day before and get a hotel (I prefer my rust-busters cheap and local).  But what the heck - it would be fun to finally get to race it and then stay to cheer my teammates on as they ran the half and full marathons.  And the Richmond 8K is a very fast course.

I ran the Richmond half-marathon several years ago, and one of my takeaways from that year was to leave early on Friday, lest I be caught in traffic.  So I left DC around 9:30 am, which meant that I only hit two stop-and-go patches on I-95.  I ended up in Richmond about 11:45.  Longer than it should have taken in a perfect non-existent world, but not bad for the Friday of a long weekend.

I stayed at the Richmond Marriott downtown, right by the start line.  I had reserved this hotel back in March of this year, when I had been considering running the Richmond Half.  The Marriott was expensive, and so I debated switching to a cheaper hotel further out - the shorter the race, the less I care about being very close to the start.  But I decided to stay with my hotel - the forecast was for frigid temperatures, and having the option of running back into my room to adjust clothing choices on race day would be nice.


Race morning dawned in the mid-20s, about 40 degrees colder than the finish of my last race.  And it had been long enough since I had been faced with cold weather that I wasn't quite sure what to wear.  After reading through my race reports from this past March, I decided to go with a long-sleeved t-shirt and tights, plus my running mittens with hand-warmers.

Though my race didn't start until 7 am, I stepped out at 6 am to start warming up - this would give me a chance to run back to my room and change my clothes if necessary.  Which I did - about a mile into my warm-up I started feeling a little too comfortable in my longsleeve.  So up I went to change into my singlet plus arm-warmers (being very careful to transfer my number, lest I leave it in my room).   Then I placed my longsleeve in a bag for bag check, and also quickly customized a trash bag into a temporary throw-away shirt.  Then back down to finish my warm-up.

After "warm"-ing up, I lined up in my corral.  My trashbag was accomplishing very little, but another woman generously handed me the jacket she had been about to toss away.  I gratefully took it, hanging onto it until 2 minutes before the start.


The Richmond 8K is a out-and back course, heading west for the first 2+ miles, and then rounding a block before heading back, with a major drop in the last half-mile.  I knew that we'd be running into a slight headwind on the way out, and then a tailwind on the way back, so my plan was to stay controlled until the turnaround, and then chase people down.  I also wanted to push as if the finish was at 4.5 miles, because with that steep a drop, there was no point saving anything for the end.

When the gun went off, I eased into my pace and then started building into what felt like a controlled effort, while looking for people to use as windblocks.  Unfortunately, I picked the wrong group, because after a mile they started fading, and I had to duck out and run on my own.  Fortunately, I only had another mile or so before the turnaround, so not a huge deal.

We hit the turnaround, and I started chasing.  The road here was a bit odd - bricks with the occasional gap instead of asphalt.  We were running east, facing the sun, and so I pulled my sunglasses down only to push them right back up.  I couldn't see the road well with my glasses down, and I was fearful I'd trip on one of the gaps in the bricks.  Squinting beats tripping and falling.

I kept pushing, and then my legs crapped out on me just after the 3 mile marker.  This was not unexpected - the same thing had happened in my workout on Tuesday, and is normal for me when coming back (my leg-speed/bounce always comes back first, with my stamina following).

And the good news was that I could still run pretty fast on crapped-out-legs (especially with a tailwind assist).  I just didn't have the next gear I had been saving.

So I hung on, reminding myself it was only two miles (actually a bit less).

Somewhere after the 4th mile marker, I passed another woman who looked like she might be my age.  I used that thought as strength to keep going, even as I really wanted to back off.   We took a few turns and then we were at the glorious downhill to the finish.

The downhill was really steep - had I had a kick left in me, I wouldn't have been able to use it.  I found myself braking a bit, and then I put a stop to that.  The other woman was possibly right behind me.  If I kept pushing, I might trip and fall.  But tripping and falling beats being passed.

I was pretty trashed when I crossed the finish line.  Definitely not an easy race for me.  But that's the point of getting out there - getting familiar again with race discomfort.  It's like pulling a band-aid off.


Splits were:
Mile 1: 6:33
Mile 2: 6:39
Mile 3: 6:31
Mile 4: 6:15
last bit: 5:50 for .97 miles

So it looks like a hard negative split, but I think that speaks more to the course than to good pacing on my part.  This is a course that rewards someone who likes to go out hard and hang on (not my preferred way of pacing).  It's also a course that can save you if you're falling apart.


I ended up as third master overall and with a very small PR (my previous 8K PR was 31:51).  (PR is asterisky since this course has so much drop - my blog, my rules.)  Of course, I also split the second half of the Broad Street 10 Miler in this exact same time - 31:48 - this spring, so I should be able to lop more time off when I'm in better shape.  But I'm pretty happy with this for where I am in my training right now.    And I got that whole first-race-back monkey off my back.

Other notes:

  • Staying at the Marriott was definitely the right call - it was so very nice to be able to run back to my room after for a hot shower.
  • Checking my shirt for post-race was a mistake.  In the time it took me to find bag check and get my bag, I could have been back in my hotel.  Note for next time.
  • I'm still not sure the arm-warmers were the right call - in these temps I think the longsleeve would have been better.  (had I run in the longsleeve, I'd be commenting right now that I thought it was too hot.)
  • After seeing the forecast, I debated swapping into the half-marathon.  I'm glad I didn't.  The way I fatigued in the 8K tells me I would have imploded in the half, perfect weather or not.  
  • No cool-down post race, except for shuffling back to my hotel.  I just didn't see the point - I was trashed, and there's no need to be piling on mileage right now.
  • I definitely need to get a few more races in between now and Houston.  It always seems to take me a few races to find my groove, and then I start racing well (see this past spring for an example). Fortunately, there are plenty of races between now and then.
  • Weather at race start: Temp 26, DP 15.  The air was pretty dry, and a few people noted it, including me.  I don't think it affected my time very much, though.  I'll take that weather over 60s and humid any day.
  • Debated whether to wear my flats (Takumi Sen) or the Adios 2 Boost for this race.  I wear the Takumi Sens for 5K and under, and the Adios for 10K and longer.  I went with the Adios partially because of the distance, and partially because of the cold.  When it's this cold, I worry about the additional strain on my tendons from racing in a low drop shoe.  If this had been an end of season goal race, I would have gone with the Takumi Sen.  But better to play it safe here.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Training log - Week ending 11/5/17

This week was 57 miles of running, 15 "miles" of pool-running, and 3000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

Back in training again.  My coach's rule is no track workouts for 3 weeks after a marathon.  I fudged that slightly by returning to the track on Friday, a mere 20 days after my marathon.  I don't think the extra day makes that much difference, and since I'm racing the Richmond 8K next weekend, I wanted to have more than one track workout under my belt before that race.

Earlier in the week, I carefully introduced some upbeat running (fast is an overstatement) with some short hill repeats.  This wasn't a workout, but a set of uphill strides.  
I ran a loop in Georgetown (30th -> M -> 29th -> Water), picking up the pace on the uphill 30th Street segment, and then jogging around and back down to the bottom of 30th.  The result was that I ran moderately hard uphill for about 60-70 seconds and then jogged easy for around 2 and a half minutes.  

Since the effort was moderate, the duration short, and the recovery long, these weren't terribly taxing.  And the combination of the uphill and the short duration/moderate effort meant that these were also a very safe way to re-introduce a bit of faster running.  The uphill forced me to keep good form and reduced the impact (running is slightly lower-impact when uphill and higher-impact when downhill).  The short duration with long recovery also made this run very easy mentally - it was a comfortable way to reintroduce faster running.

So that was fun.  Though not hard.  On the other hand, my first track workout back on Friday, a set of 3200, 1600, was a bit tougher.  I find tempos and long intervals harder than intervals as a first workout back.  I'm guessing this is largely because tempos require more focus and concentration.

But I got through it, and it wasn't all that bad.  Surprisingly good in fact.  I felt very rusty and stuck in a low gear for the 3200, but then surprised myself with a fast 1600.  And both runs over the weekend went well too.  I also felt rusty during the marathon pace part of Sunday's run, but that's really no shock, given that I'm just coming back.

So it was nice to see that I lost far less fitness than I had expected (or usually do, post-marathon).  I'm not quite sure why that is, but I'll just appreciate it for what it is.

Next week I'll race the RIchmond 8K.  I have no idea what I'll run there, which is a liberating way to race.   I'd like to think I have a chance of setting an 8K PR, since my 8K PR is weak (31:51 officially, though I ran a faster 8K tempo a few months ago), and the Richmond 8K is a very fast race.  OTOH, I'm not in peak fitness right now.  So we shall see.  Either way, it will be fun to get out there again and race, and then to cheer on my friends in the half and full marathons that day.


Monday: Foam rolling, yoga, and 7 "miles" of pool-running.

Tuesday: 10 miles, mostly easy, but with 8x60 second hill repeats with 2:30 recovery.  Also injury prevention work and 800 yards recovery swimming.

Wednesday: 6 miles very easy to yoga (9:11), yoga, and then 6 miles easy home (8:47), plus drills and 4 strides.  Sports massage at night.

 Upper body weights/core and 8 "miles" of pool-running; foam rolling at night. 

Friday: 10 miles, including 3 mile warm-up (9:13), then a track workout of 3200, 1600 in 12:44 (6:25/6:19) and 5:55.  4.5 mile cool-down (9:49), plus injury prevention work and 1500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in the evening.

Saturday: 10 miles very easy (8:43), drills and four strides, and then upper body weights and core.  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday:  14 miles progressive, split as first 5 miles at 8:50, next 5 at 7:37, last 4 at 6:58.  Followed with injury prevention work and 700 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in the evening.