Sunday, September 30, 2018

Training log - Week ending 9/30/18

This week was 64 miles of running, 19 "miles" of pool-running, and 3000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

I was pretty happy with this week - it feels like I'm hitting the right balance of getting the work in without overreaching.  

On Thursday, I ran 16x400m at 10K pace with 100m float (the "easy version" of the 25x400) and then, after a 5 minute break, jumped back into the workout to do some extra 400s slightly faster.  (I did this to give a friend some company -she was doing 25x400 and I jumped in for her #20, 22, 24, and 25.)  

It was a really nice hybrid workout - the 16x400 was a decent lactate threshold workout without being too taxing, and then I got a bit extra volume at a faster pace at the end.

Sunday was 4, 3, 2, 1 miles at marathon pace, with 1 mile recovery between each.  As I've mentioned in previous posts, I'm trying to run all of my marathon pace workouts by feel, rather than looking at my watch.  

What's nice is how I can measure my improvement over the pace few weeks- MP has felt the same each week, but the pace associated with that feel is trending faster.  During the last two weeks, 6:50-6:51 has felt like marathon pace, which is good, since that's what I'd like my pace to be at CIM.  Of course, some of this improvement could be due to improved weather over the past two weeks.  On the other hand, the weather isn't that great yet.

I feel like I'm seeing improvement much faster this cycle than I have in previous cycles, and I think that's because I'm not targeting a specific pace.  I seem to be one of those people who needs to approach fitness from underneath - if I chase fitness, it just dances away from me.   Which is another way of saying that I need to train at my current fitness or slightly slower than it, but not faster.  (which is what my coach always says, but it's so easy to disregard when one's ego or anxiety or desire to keep up with others gets in the way).

More specifically, I think that being careful never to run harder than marathon pace effort during this cycle, regardless of what pace that happens to be, seems to be working really well for me so far, based on how my fitness is progressing.  My guess is that it's because I'm getting the right stimulus by training at my current fitness, and since I'm not hammering the workouts, I'm recovering and absorbing and adapting from the workout much better.

Hopefully this trend (and my ability to suspend my own ego) will continue, and I'll peak at just the right time in early December.


Monday: Yoga and 8.5 "miles" of pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday: 12 miles, including 6 hill-strides of 60-70 seconds each, with 2:30 recovery.  Also injury prevention work and 1400 yards of recovery swimming.

Wednesday: 7 miles very easy to the gym (9:00), upper body weights/core and DIY yoga, and then 3.5 miles very easy (8:38) plus drills/strides.  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday: 12.5 miles, including a workout of 16x400 with 100m float recovery - averaged 6:14 pace for the 400s (1:33 each) with the floats averaging 31 seconds.  After some rest,  another four 400s in 87, 88, 87, 85 with a lot of rest between most of them.  

Also injury prevention work and 1100 yards of recovery swimming.  Sports massage in afternoon.

Friday 10.5 "miles" pool-running and yoga.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday: 8 miles very easy to the gym (9:05) plus drills/strides, followed by upper body weights/core.  Later did another 4 miles (8:50).  Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Sunday:  17 miles, including a workout of 4, 3, 2, 1 miles at MP.  Ended up running:
4 miles in 27:24 (6:50/6:53/6:49/6:52) - average 6:51 pace;
3 miles in 20:19 (6:45/6:42/6:54) - average 6:46 pace;
2 miles in 13:50 (6:53/6:57) - average 6:55 pace (may be off due to Garmin, which had satellite trouble during this segment);
1 mile in 6:47.

Averaged 6:51 pace for the full 10 miles.

Also injury prevention work and 500 yards of recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Training log - Week ending 9/23/18

This week was 62 miles of running, 18 "miles" of pool-running, and 3000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

This week had some frustrations.  When marathon training, I prefer to focus on a good quantity of aerobic training, which means 1) a lot of marathon pace work, 2) maxing out the reps on the Tuesday workout while keeping the pace restrained and aerobic, and 3) good quality tempos.  Of those three, I consider the last to be the most important for me, based on my own personal weaknesses and strengths.  

So of course, it was on Friday during the tempo workout that my asthma flared and I pulled myself from the workout rather than dig a hole by forcing the issue  Intellectually, I know it's nothing to be too concerned about - it's just one workout and it was very humid and ragweed was very high and I'm due for my next shot of Xolair on Monday to get stuff back under control.  But still frustrating as hell. 

Fortunately, it cooled down on Sunday - between that and the rain, my breathing was great.  Running at marathon pace effort (not looking at my watch for pace, but just going off of feel) I averaged 6:50 pace for the last 6 miles - exactly what I need to run sub-3.  Woo.  A confidence rejuvenation just when I needed it.


But my own personal aggravations and adventures pale next to the tragedy that happened in DC on Tuesday.  Just awful.

In the days that followed, I noted the same discussions that always happen.  Why was she running there?  Women should always carry a phone/mace/gun.  Women should never run alone.

It's a natural impulse - something horrible happens, and we list out all the things we can and will do differently, to reassure ourselves it won't happen to us.  But...the reality is that sometimes shit happens.  

I don't think Martinez made a poor choice in running down 11th Street at 8 pm - in my mind, that's a safer route at that time of day/night than other choices (like the towpath or Rock Creek).  I don't think a running buddy or phone would have made a difference here -  there were people in the immediate area to observe and help her.   As for weapons, based on my understanding of how the attack played out, she wouldn't have had enough time to draw and use one.  

I sometimes wonder - has anyone who advocates running with spray ever actually used it?  I don't mean practicing pulling it out and using it.  I mean you-have-it-with-you-and-something-that-turns-out-to-be-an-animal-in-a-bush-startles-you-and-you-spray-the-bush.  

(the bush did just fine - I missed it entirely.)

Based on my own experience, I believe amateurs carrying a weapon/spray increases bravado, rather than safety.  It's one thing to "practice" using it in a calm setting; it's completely different in real life (or real wildlife, as my experience turned out to be...).   

I run near where Martinez was attacked on occasion, and come within several blocks of it regularly.  I don't intend to change my practices at all in response - I've given a lot of thought as to what I carry when I run (GPS tracker with panic button, but no phone or weapon) and where I run, and I see no reason to change.

Wendy Martinez did absolutely nothing wrong, other than be in the wrong place at exactly the wrong time.  And that's horrible and awful, just like many other things in life.  But not a reason to change one's habits, assuming one's practices are already well thought out.  All we can do is use our best judgment to control the risk, while accepting that a well-lived life is not risk free.  


Monday: Yoga and 7.5 "miles" of pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday: 12 miles, including a workout of 2000,1600, 1200, 2x800 in 7:46, 6:16, 4:36; 3:02, 3:01.  Also injury prevention work and 1250 yards of recovery swimming.

Wednesday: 8 miles very easy to yoga (9:13), yoga, and then 4 miles very easy (8:52) plus drills/strides.  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday Upper body weights/core and 10.5 "miles" pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday: 10 miles, including a 3 mile tempo (intended to be 5) in 19:39 (6:32/6:32/6:35).  Also injury prevention work and 1100 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday: 12 miles very easy (9:08), followed by upper body weights/core.  Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Sunday:  16 miles progressive, split as first 5 miles averaging 8:55, next 5 averaging 7:39, last 6 averaging 6:50.  Also injury prevention work and 650 yards of recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Training log - Week ending 9/16/18

This week was 59 miles of running, 18 "miles" of pool-running, and 2000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

First week of CIM training in the books, supplemented by the emotional boost of some great runs by my teammates in Berlin this weekend.

We mixed things up this week - a Saturday night rock concert (C-Tec/Chemlab) meant that I had to do my long run Saturday morning.  I tend to need slightly more than 48 hours between workouts to recover, so rather than try to force four hard runs into 8 days (Sunday race - Tuesday intervals - Thursday tempo - Saturday long run), I went with a single mid-week workout of 16x400m.  

This was a variant of my coach's normal 25x400m at 10K pace with 100m "float" in 30 seconds.  Since I'm very early in the cycle, we limited it to 16 reps - which definitely felt like the right number.  Heck - it might be the right number later in the cycle also.   I've done the full 25x400 numerous times in previous cycles, including last fall, but I suspect that I've also left the best part of my goal race in those workouts.

I managed to hold 10K pace for all the reps, but had to slow down the recoveries towards the end to get the 16 done.  This emphasized what I already know - my speed comes back better than my aerobic stamina.  That 5K to half marathon fitness is my weakest link; I do better on the pointy ends of either racing miles or cruising long runs.

On Saturday, I did my progressive long run, finishing with the last 6 miles at marathon pace. 

There's a range of ways to train at "marathon pace."  One extreme is to pick a marathon pace at the beginning of a cycle and target that pace for all workouts, no matter if it feels sustainable for 26.2 or not.  The hope, when training that way, is that by the end of the cycle that pace will indeed be sustainable for the full 26.2 - i.e. that same pace will feel easier as the cycle progresses.  

The other extreme is to train exclusively off of "marathon pace feel," and to hope that by the end of the cycle what feels like marathon pace will match the time one hopes to run.

In past cycles, I've taken a hybrid approach to my marathon pace runs - targeting a pace range of about 15 seconds (i.e. 6:45-7:00) - and letting feel guide me as to where I should be in that range.  This time, I'm going to take it to the pointy end - running my marathon pace workouts completely off of feel and seeing what the pace is post-run (my coach is a big fan of training off of feel - especially in the hot/humid/summer).  Ideally, by the end of the cycle, what feels like marathon pace will match my goal pace.

Since I race off of feel and do  nearly all of my other workouts off of feel, it's not too hard to ignore my watch during the long run.  At the same time, when one is targeting a specific pace for a marathon (6:52 or under, in my case, for a sub-3), it is disconcerting not to be training at that pace currently.  Training by feel means that you don't get the reassurance of looking at your log and seeing all the runs you did at your goal pace.

However, in my case, I suspect I've overdone things just slightly in previous cycles by being a bit too aggressive early on with my marathon pace.  I run best when I let my fitness come to me, rather than trying to chase it down.  Hence, experimenting with training totally by feel this cycle.

Of course, another argument for training at goal pace is that one's exact marathon pace needs to be practiced because there's a mechanical benefit to teaching your body to run at that paceI don't buy this because I don't believe that there's that much mechanical difference between paces 10-20 seconds apart near marathon pace (I'll agree that there is a difference when we're closer to mile pace). 

In my case, running at marathon pace-feel is close enough to my goal pace that the mechanics are essentially the same, but running by feel means that I don't gradually dig myself into a hole by forcing a pace that's slightly faster than what my body is currently ready to run.

The nice thing is that what feels like marathon pace has been improving in the past weeks - hopefully that trend continues.

[other notes: the C-Tec/Chemlab show was awesome, and totally worth the late night/lost sleep.]


Monday: Yoga and 7 "miles" of pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday: 5 miles very easy (9:41), then upper body weights/core, followed by 4 miles very easy (9:02) plus drills and strides.

Wednesday: 12 miles, including 16x400m with 100m float recovery.  Averaged 6:17 pace for the 400s; cheated a bit and averaged 34 seconds for each recovery (was supposed to be 30 seconds).  Followed with leg strengthwork and then 1000 yards recovery swimming. Sports massage in the afternoon.

Thursday Upper body weights/core and 10 "miles" pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday: 6 miles easy to yoga (9:02), yoga, then 5.5 miles very easy (9:05) plus drills/strides.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday: 16 miles progressive, split as first 4 miles averaging 9:06 pace, next 6 averaging 7:46 pace; last 6 averaging 6:59 pace.  Followed with leg strengthwork, 1000 yards recovery swimming, and 1 "mile" pool-running (to chat with a friend).  Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Sunday:  10.5 very easy (9:21) and foam-rolling.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Training log - Week ending 9/09/18

This week was 49 miles of running, 18 "miles" of pool-running, and 1000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.  

Another down week, since I rested up to run the Fifth Avenue Mile on Sunday. 

I was pretty happy with Sunday's race.  It was obviously way off of my PR from last year, but it showed that things were trending in the right direction, both fitness-wise and in terms of focusing and competing well during the race.  I'm actually a bit sad that I don't have a few more weeks to focus on shorter stuff - this past weekend was the first time I "felt like myself" at shorter stuff, if that makes sense.

But...CIM calls, so I'll just write off these past few weeks as a speed-intermission in my year of marathon training.

Reviewing my year so far, my training log has reinforced my belief that it takes me a fair amount of time to recover from a marathon and switch back to running shorter distances well.  Not weeks, but more like months.  

When I ran the Houston Half-Marathon this past January, I felt like the 13 weeks I had between the Hartford Marathon in October and Houston in January were not quite enough to run my best at Houston (though I was still happy with the race).  And similarly, now that I'm 12 weeks out from Grandma's, I feel like things are just starting to turn around, and that in another 4-5 weeks or so, I could be running well at shorter stuff.

In contrast, it seems much easier for me to move up from shorter distances to longer, or to add a second marathon after the first, as I did this spring.  [Note: easier, not easy.]  At the same time, I know that just sticking to marathons is a formula for staleness and stagnation at that distance - the short fast stuff preserves my speed, which is the first thing to go as one ages.  (Plus road miles are so much damn fun.)

Mapping stuff going forward, I think that after CIM, I'm going to skip a spring marathon.  Instead I'll spend the spring focusing on shorter stuff, with the goal of running very fast in March/April/early May before a shortened marathon cycle to support a return to Grandma's Marathon in June 2019.

(it's just a shame that there are really no road miles in March/April.)


Monday: Upper body weights/core and 9 "miles" of pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday: 10 miles, including a track workout of 400/800/1200/1200/800/400 in 1:38, 3:04, 4:35, 4:29, 2:53, 83.  Also injury prevention work and recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday:  7 miles very easy to yoga (9:29) and then yoga.  Later, another 5 miles very easy (8:50) plus drills and strides. Foam rolling at night.

Thursday Upper body weights/core and 9 "miles" pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday: 9 miles, including one mile up-tempo in 6:18.  Followed with light injury prevention work and DIY yoga.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday: 5 miles very easy (8:51) , DIY yoga, and then some foam rolling

Sunday:  3.5 mile warm-up, and then a mile race in 5:36.  Followed with half mile jog back to gym to change shoes.  Later, did 8 miles very easy (9:02) to enjoy Central Park.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Race Report: Fifth Avenue Mile, September 9, 2018

I ran the Fifth Avenue Mile today, finishing in a time of 5:36, good enough for 4th in my age group.

I've always wanted to do this race, but life, in the form of October marathons, has always gotten in the way.  Not this year, though.

Getting up to New York was an adventure.  I dislike staying overnight at races if I don't have to. It isn't due to finances or not sleeping well in hotels; rather, I just like my home and my boyfriend and my cats, and hate to be away from them.

So that's why I decided to do this race as a day trip.  Of course, a 9:10 am race in New York makes for an early DC train - 3:10 am to be exact.  Which in turn meant a 2:10 am alarm.  And a 6:30 pm bedtime.

(No - I couldn't actually drift off at that time. rule is: if I'm lying on a bed with my eyes closed, it counts as sleep.)


Sunday morning, I rolled out of bed at a time that I would have been getting home just 10 years prior.  With apologies to the cats for not feeding them and to the boyfriend for the noise of the unfed cats, I got dressed, brushed my teeth, and grabbed my bag.  About 40 minutes later, I was back asleep, curled across two Amtrak seats just like everyone else in the quiet car. 

My train got into New York about 20 minutes late, at 7 am, but I had built fudge time in my schedule.  I took the E train to 54th and Lexington (doing pre-run yoga on the station platform while waiting to save time) and then bought a day pass to the local Blink Fitness gym.

There, I finished my prerace breakfast, did some stretches, and then jogged over to the start to pick up my bib, where I ran into my teammate Phillippe (who very graciously checked the 5th Avenue Mile hat that was my race schwag in his own bag).


The weather, though not ideal for a mile race (drizzle and slightly chilly) was much much better than what we've had in DC recently.  An added plus was a slight tailwind.

I had packed a plastic poncho, so I wore that while warming up, tossing it right before the start.

For my warm-up, I did about 2.5 miles easy and then a half mile at 5K-ish effort, followed by drills and then two hard 200m repeats.  All with plenty of recovery in between, finishing up about 15 minutes before.  Then a mix of walking and relaxed strides until we were corralled at 9:02.


The gun went off at 9:10 sharp.  Like almost every mile race I've done, I was in 25th or 30th place after the first quarter.  But then, as we hit the uphill second quarter, many started coming back.  I worked my way through them, picking off one after the other, while trying also to not work too hard too early.

We crested the hill at the 800 mark, and then I rolled down the back side, trying to build speed and recharge for the final 400.  But when I hit the final 400 I couldn't find that top gear.  I had the gas in the tank, but no turbo.  I finished feeling strong, like I could have gone longer (but not faster). 

Despite the above, I was still pretty happy - I ran a stronger, more focused race than last week.  And this was a solid way to end my "marathon intermission."


After the race I was able to catch up with my former DC teammate Jessica (now living in NYC), my friend Steve from RWOL, and Phillippe, who also had a good race.  Then a cooldown jog, a hot shower at Blink, some Chipotle (of course), and back to Central Park to watch the elite races.

Thankfully several buildings along 5th Avenue were under construction.  Which meant scaffolding.  Which meant I could stand along the race course AND be sheltered from the rain. Win.

Then I grabbed the 3 pm train home.  A long but fun day, and worth it.


Splits were (garmin autolap): 83/88/83/81.

If I had to do it again, I'd probably push a bit harder up the hill in the 2nd quarter - I think I was too cautious there - saving energy to support a kick I didn't have.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with this.  Slightly bummed that I was 4th in my age group (top 3 got awards), but I don't think I had another 4 seconds in me today (5:32 was third).

As for whether I'll do this as a day trip again next time?  It depends.  If I'm in really good mile shape next year at this time, I might go ahead and stay the night to maximize my shot at running a really good time.  But I don't think the early morning wake-up and train ride cost me much, if anything.

Other notes:

* Apparently for this race, if you miss your heat you can run in a later one.  Good to know if I do the train thing again and it gets delayed.

* Wore my Takumi Sens for this race - this is the distance where they shine.   I did see a few women in my heat wearing the Vaporfly.  None of them in front of me.  I can't imagine racing a mile in that shoe - even a mile with no turns.  But apparently they could.

*Wrote this race report on my phone on the train ride home (I didn't want to lug a computer with me). Worked surprisingly well.  I also grabbed an old school paper copy of the Sunday NYTimes so I'm going to enjoy that for the rest of the ride.