Sunday, March 24, 2019

Training log - Week ending 3/24/2019

This week was 54 miles of running, 16 "miles" of pool-running and 2000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

Recovery week from the Shamrock Half-Marathon.  Since I wasn't really able to max out my legs during that race, I wasn't all that beaten up - this is definitely the least sore I've been after any half-marathon in recent memory.  

But bad races take their toll on the body in their own ways, so I took it easy for the first few days of the week anyway.  Plus, a half-marathon is not just a race but a very hard lactate threshold workout, and relative rest gave my body an opportunity to absorb the benefits from that workout.  Essentially I gained more fitness from backing off for a day or two than I would have from cranking out the miles.

A week late I'm still angry about that race.  However, I am more capable of seeing the positives in it, including what it indicates for my fitness.  

This season, I've been trying to apply the lessons I learned from my CIM cycle, to see if that would also work for shorter races.  That means training with extra restraint and doing no more than absolutely necessary in each workout.  

Though I still don't know my exact fitness, I now know that I'm at least as fit as a 84:45 half-marathon, and most likely much fitter than that time indicates.  So my training has been working.   I'm also feeling very fresh and eager to race.  That's a very good place to be right now, with a slew of races in front of me for the next 10 weeks.   Over the next few months, my plan is to use a combination of very conservative workouts and all-out races to peak and then maintain that peak through June.

Monday: 8 "miles" pool-running in the morning.  Massage in the afternoon.

Tuesday: 8 miles very easy (8:57).  Followed with strengthwork (upper and lower body).  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday:  7.5 miles very easy (9:08) to yoga, yoga, and then 4.5 miles very easy (8:38) plus drills and 2 hill strides.  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday:  Upper body weights/core and 8 "miles" pool-running in the morning.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday: 12 miles, including 2x3200m on the track in 12:48 (6:28/6:20) and 12:38 (6:21/6:17).  Followed with leg strengthwork and 1000 yardsrecovery swimming   Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:  10 miles very easy (8:35) plus drills and 4 strides, followed with upper body weights/core and DIY yoga.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday: 14 miles progressive, split with the first 4 miles averaging 8:34, next 4 averaging 7:16, last 6 averaging 6:42.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 1000 yards recovery swimming.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Training log - Week ending 3/17/19

This week was 39.5 miles of running, 14 "miles" of pool-running and 1000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

Just a belated check-in for my past week (I was tied up with celebrating my anniversary, and then with work and writing my race report) .  Last week I was wondering whether I was in 84-85 minute shape for the half, or faster.  As it turns out, I was in better shape, but ran 84 anyway.  Oh well.  I've got another half in June.

I'm not sure what I'm annoyed about more - the lousy race, or the fact that I ran 39.5 miles instead of 40.

[on second thought, the bad race is more annoying.  Much more annoying.]

At least I know that I'm fit, and that my taper worked well, and that my training has been effective.  All good things.


Monday: Yoga and 8 "miles" pool-running in the morning.  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday: 10.5 miles, including a track workout of 6x800 in 3:07, 3:06, 3:03, 3:00, 3:01, 2:5.  Followed with light leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Massage in the afternoon.

Wednesday:  DIY yoga and 6.5 miles very easy (8:53) plus drills and 6 hill sprints.  Foam rolling at night.

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

Friday: 7 miles, including a 1600 on the track at 10 mile-half marathon effort (6:15).   Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:  DIY yoga and foam rolling.

Sunday: 2.5 miles warm-up and then a half marathon in 1:24:45.   Later, 500 yards recovery swimming.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Race Report; Shamrock Half-Marathon, March 17, 2019

I ran the Shamrock Half-Marathon yesterday, finishing in a time of 1:24:45.  A surprisingly decent time for what may go down as one of my worst races ever.

('s that for an opener).

It all started out well.  I've done Shamrock many times before, and so I know the drill.  I left at 8 am Saturday morning for the drive down, stopping by Chipotle, then the expo, and then my hotel (5 blocks from both the race start and finish).  Ate my Chipotle, did my pre-race yoga, and read my Kindle after multiple failed attempts to get the hotel Wi-Fi to work.

The only hitch the day before was that the hotel walls were surprisingly thin, so that I could hear every word of my neighbors' conversations.  I debated knocking on their door to ask them to be a bit quieter, but I had a hunch that they wouldn't be receptive, and might even speak louder in response.

Just then Brian called.  As we chatted on the phone, I made a point to note, in an ever so slightly elevated voice, how amazing it was how thin the walls were and how I could hear every word my neighbors were saying.

And that fixed that issue.


I slept pretty well, and woke optimistic for race morning.

Since I've been very conservative in my workouts, and since my last race was in pretty bad weather, I really didn't know what my fitness was. I had hopes of breaking 84, but it was quite possible I wasn't there yet.  On the other hand, I had been feeling very good the last few days, and Shamrock is a very fast course, so it was possible I could run quite well.  We would see.  Since I run off of feel and never look at my watch while racing, it wasn't necessary to pick a goal time anyway.  I would run my best and see what that got me.

So on with my morning routine - asthma meds, stretching and mobilization, and breakfast.


I have a long history of gastrointestinal issues - over a decade's worth.  After multiple rounds of scoping and blood work and elimination diets, we've ruled out Crohn's, Ulcerative Colitis, and Celiac, which leaves me with just descriptions - "abnormal mucosa" and "indeterminate colitis." 

So....working with a GI doctor and a nutritionist, I settled on a very careful diet as the best way to control things.  No lactose or gluten, no nuts, peas, garbanzo beans, lentils, etc.   That's why I'm pretty religious about what I eat pre-race.  I stick with Chipotle because I can find it in every major city and I can depend on the food being lactose and gluten free if I avoid certain things.   And I bring my race breakfast with me - brown rice (in those little pre-cooked bags and cups), hemp protein powder, and GU gels/stroopwafels.

I stuck with the standards for this race, eating from the bags and cups of rice I had brought from home.  I always bring extra, just in case I open one and it smells funny, etc.   As it turned out, my first bites out of one thing of rice tasted a bit off- not necessarily moldy or rotten, but just a little strange.  Whatever, I tossed it and pulled out another bag - better safe than sorry.

After breakfast, I did more stretching, another bathroom break, chugged my pre-race Pepto-Bismol, and then headed out for my warm-up.  A mile in, I ducked back into my hotel room for another bathroom break.  My GI tract was acting up (to put it delicately), which was worrisome, but nothing I could really do about it.  And I've learned over time that there are a lot of things that can feel off pre-race, but end up being non-issues in the race.

I finished my warm-up with another mile of jogging, a 60 second hard run to get my heart rate up, and then drills and strides before we lined up.  The weather was great - low 40s with some wind but not terrible, and sunshine - I felt perfectly dressed in shorts, singlet, and arm-warmers.


My plan for this race was pretty much the same as for any other half-marathon.  The first 2-3 miles would be my warm-up, and then I'd ease into pace.  I've gotten a bit too aggressive between miles 3-8 in my last few half-marathons, and paid the price at the end, so this time I resolved to be patient until mile 8, and then start working.

When the gun went off, I flowed into an easy rhythm.  The headwind was nowhere near as bad as I anticipated, but it was still present, so I looked for groups to tuck behind for the first few miles until we would turn into the woods at mile 3.  My teammates Alex and Caroline joined me at this point, and we started running together.  Which was fine with me, as long as they promised to abide by my one rule, which was to NOT tell me what pace we were running.

Together we ran, through the woods from miles 3-5, where I hugged the left side of the road to minimize the distance covered as the course almost imperceptibly curved to the left.  Then after mile 5 I flowed back over to the right, and started to look for people to duck behind - I knew that we would hit a surprise (except to me) headwind when we turned into Fort Story just after mile 5, and so the time to find a pack was now.

Unfortunately, there were no good groups that I could catch without surging, which would cost me more than I would gain.  I did note a man and woman running a bit ahead, if erratically, and thought I might use them.  However, that couple suddenly and surprisingly eased up on the pace - I think they were using the race for a workout of some type.  Oh well.

We were lucky, though, and the wind in Fort Story was nowhere near as bad as it's been in the past, so far so good.  Not so lucky was the runner wearing a hydration backpack who was intercepted as we entered Fort Story.  I'd snark on him for not reading the rules....however, I just checked the race website, and I don't see anything in the rules or FAQ about hydration packs being banned, so....


Backpack runner's plight distracted me from my own.  I had felt fine for the first few miles, and forgotten about my pre-race gastrointestinal concerns.   But now things were roiling.  With each mile, our pace got a bit faster, our group a bit bigger, and my abdomen a bit worse.   By 6 I was starting to cramp, by 7 I was cramping, and then in 8, just before the marker for mile 9, I reluctantly came to the conclusion that stepping off the course and taking care of business was going to result in a faster net time than continuing to fight through.

So I reluctantly excused myself and did a Paula Radcliffe London 2005 (not a Shalane Boston 2018 - that would have taken too long), before hopping back into the race.  I felt much better, and my group was still barely visible in the distance.  Perhaps I could reel them back in.

I set off, my pace newly renewed.  But bliss only lasted a mile or so before the cramps returned, as bad as before.  Stopping again clearly wasn't going to fix anything, so I just gutted my way (literally) through the final miles.  I'll spare the details, but it was up there in terms of miserable running experiences - I'd rather relive Boston 2018 any day.


Manual splits were:

Mile 1: 6:44
Mile 2: 6:34
Mile 3: 6:32
Mile 4: 6:29
Mile 5: 6:25
Mile 6: 6:01 (mile marker short)
Mile 7: 6:56 (longer mile to balance out)
Mile 8: 6:16
Mile 9: 6:49 (bio break)
Mile 10: 6:09 (short)
Mile 11: 6:27 (long)
Mile 12: 6:25 (cramps)
Mile 13: 6:20 (cramps)
last bit: 38 seconds

My PR is 84:22, so I really wasn't far off of it, which makes me really frustrated for what might have been.  There's no way to be certain, but I can't help but think I might have broken 84 without the gastric issues.

[and I guess that's the good news - I am apparently in better shape than I realized, and hopefully that will show at Cherry Blossom.]

As for what caused this episode, I'm really not sure.  The most obvious culprit is the funny tasting rice, but I only took one or two bites, and I didn't experience any nausea, which I would expect if I had somehow gotten rapid onset food poisoning.  I could blame it on getting accidentally gluten-ed, except that everything I ate was marked gluten-free, and my symptoms would frankly be longer lasting and more severe. 

And that's what's even more frustrating than the time.  I've had GI issues for a long time, but they've been very well managed for the past few years - to the point where I'd pretty much forget about them except for the occasional realization that normal people eat Wheaties with milk.  The only time I'd have problems would be when I made a mistake, and then it'd only last a few days to a week and be done. 

I thought I had it fixed, as long as I stuck to the plan.  Akin to staying healthy as long as I did my injury prevention routine.  And now my confidence is shaken.

This has now been several weeks of problems popping up, not always with an obvious trigger.  While it's quite possible that I've just had a string of bad luck and errors, I'm also going to get stuff checked out again - I'd rather have a medical professional tell me that this was just a fluke than assume it myself.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Training log - Week ending 3/10/19

This week was 60 miles of running, 16 "miles" of pool-running and 3000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

This was my last week of focused training for a while, as I'm going to be shifting into goal race mode for the next few months.  The first of those goal races, Shamrock Half-Marathon, is next weekend. 

Of course, this doesn't really change that much - I'll still be training between races, and it's not like I haven't been racing the last few weeks.  It really just means that I'll be focusing a bit more on the pre-race pullback/sharpening and post-race recovery than I have in the previous weeks.

To that point, I really considered my 8K tempo on Friday to be my last real workout before Shamrock.  After that I started pulling back some by reducing the mileage of my Sunday run.  I also conveniently started chatting in the last few miles of the Sunday run, and ended up running a bit easier than marathon effort for those miles.  Normally I'd be annoyed at myself for the lack of focus, but I don't think it was a bad thing to be a bit too easy this weekend.  (and also, it's a good sign that 6:5x pace was "a bit easier than marathon" effort - that wouldn't have been the case a few weeks ago.)

Next week will be pretty chill, doing just enough in my workouts to keep my legs sharp.  As for how I think things will go?  I had entered Shamrock with hopes of breaking 84 minutes, but I don't think I'm quite there yet.  (hopefully, I'll be there in June for the Garry Bjorklund half)  If I had to guess, I'd put my fitness at 84-85 minutes right now.  I'm definitely not in the shape I was before the Richmond half-marathon (where I ran 84:22).  

On the other hand, I'll be fresher for Shamrock than I was for Richmond since I won't have a marathon cycle on my legs, and Shamrock is also a faster course.  Additionally, I've historically run very well at Shamrock, so maybe some of that magic will happen again this year.  I'll know by this time next week.


Monday: Upper body weights/core and 8 "miles" pool-running in the morning.  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday: 12 miles, including a track workout of 2x800, 1600, 2x800, 2x200 in 3:06, 3:02, 6:09, 3:00, 2:52, 41, 40.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 1000 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 8 miles very easy to yoga (9:06), plus drills and strides, and then yoga.  Followed with another 4 miles very easy (9:04).  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday:  Upper body weights/core and 8 "miles" pool-running in the morning.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday: 14 miles, including an 8K tempo on the track in 32:36 (6:38/6:32/6:31/6:30/6:25).  Followed with leg strengthwork and 1000 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:  10 miles very easy (8:49), plus drills, 4 hill sprints, upper body weights/core.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday: 12 miles progressive, split as first 4 averaging 8:46, next 4 averaging 7:21, last 4 averaging 6:51.   Followed with light leg strengthwork and 1000 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Training log - Week ending 3/3/2019

This week was 60 miles of running, 8 "miles" of pool-running and 2000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

I started the week off with a good rock concert on Sunday night (Cruxshadows w/ opener Korine) and a day trip up to NYC on Monday for work.

[Video somebody took from Sunday's show.  One of the things I love about
this group: while other bands zealously police filming and photos
at their shows, the Cruxshadows embrace it, including regularly
collecting cellphones from audience members, taking selfies on stage, 
and then returning the phones, all while continuing to perform.]

If I had really wanted to, I could have squeezed in a pool-run on Monday - the pool opens at 5:30 am and my train left at 8:10.  But I just didn't see the point - I'd have to wake up early after a late night to fit it in, and I've discovered that whenever I need to choose between working out or adequate sleep, sleep needs to win. 

If I force myself to run/pool-run/whatever while sleep-deprived, I don't reap any benefits from the workout, since my body doesn't absorb it.  At the same time, I increase my fatigue and my injury risk.  Double whammy and pointless - better to take the day off.

[Of course, my type A instincts were screaming at me, but they always do.  It's funny how we runners are so terrified of undertraining, when it's overtraining that we should truly fear.]

My coach and I reworked stuff this week so that I would do 16x400m (at 10K pace with 100m floats), and then a marathon pace workout on Saturday.  Unfortunately, I ate something that disagreed with me on Monday (not hard to do, given my problematic GI system), and the lingering effects interrupted the Wednesday workout 11 reps in.  

After taking care of business, I jumped back in, thinking I'd extend the workout to another 10 reps to balance out the break (the whole point of this workout is very limited recovery).  But my large intestine had other ideas and spoke up again after another 6 reps, at which point I just called it a day.  Frustrating, but it was what it was.

I hoped that stuff was cleared out by Saturday, but unfortunately it was still an issue (albeit a lesser one).  I was able (with some discomfort) to make it through each 3 mile segment at marathon effort, but had to duck in and take a quick bio break during each recovery.  I kept my watch running, and was able to keep the bio break very quick (Shalane has nothing on me) but it still changed the workout, which was frustrating.  

When doing a workout, the duration of the recovery is just as important as the duration of the interval, and the nature of the recovery also matters - standing (*ahem sitting*) recovery is fundamentally different from jogging recovery.  So, my GI troubles forced me to modify the workout in ways that didn't totally ruin it, but did reduce the value slightly, and that was annoying.  Which is probably why I ran the final mile (ideally at half-marathon effort) too fast.

Nothing to do about it of course.  Except to make sure to avoid a recurrence and to hope this bout soon passes.  At least the workouts went well other than for these transient issues.

If anyone wonders why I eat nothing but food from home or tried-and-true Chipotle the last few days before a goal race, this week was a nice illustration of why.


Monday: Off.  Nothing but a bit of foam rolling

Tuesday: 8 very easy (9:11) plus drills/hill sprints, and then upper body weights/core, before another 2 very easy home (9:02)

Wednesday: 11.5 miles, including a workout of 11x400m and 7x400m averaging 94 seconds with 100m float recovery averaging 29 seconds.  Involuntary 2:30 break between sets.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 1000 yards recovery swimming.  Massage in the afternoon

Thursday:  Yoga and 8 "miles" pool-running in the morning.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday: 10 miles very easy (8:55) plus drills and 6 hill sprints, followed by upper body weights/core.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:  16.5 miles, including 3x3 miles at marathon pace plus 1 mile faster, split as: 

Set 1: 20:35 (6:53/6:48/6:54 - 6:52 pace) (9:03 recovery including bio-break)
Set 2: 20:41 (6:51/6:55/6:55 - 6:54 pace) (8:32 recovery including bio-break)
Set 3: 20:18 (6:45/6:54/6:39 - 6:46 pace) (10:08 recovery including bio-break)
Faster mile: 6:21

Followed with leg strengthwork and 1000 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday: 12 miles easy (8:31), followed by yoga.   Foam rolling in afternoon.