Monday, May 27, 2019

Race report: Loudoun Street Mile, May 27, 2019

I ran the Loudoun Street Mile today, finishing in 5:37.  [well....5:37.7 to be exact, but I'm rounding down]

I wasn't quite sure what I was going to run today, but had hoped to be much closer to 5:30, if not under it.  My PR is 5:25, from this race two years ago.  

I had most recently run 5:36 at the Fifth Avenue Mile last fall, but that was during a gap period between two marathon cycles, when I wasn't in my best shape (and it was also wet that day).   I'm not really focused on mile racing right now, but I don't have marathon legs either, so I expected better.


I've done this race enough to have the routine dialed down - allow 80 minutes to get to Winchester from Arlington, and then park on Cameron Street right by the finish line and bib pick-up.  I left home at 5:50 am, which was just right.

After grabbing my bib, I changed into my mile racing flats (I always prefer to warm up in them, rather than change right before the race) and jogged to the start.  I went with my normal short race warm-up - 3.5 miles, including two very hard segments of about 70 seconds each to get my heart rate up (finishing about 20 minutes before).  Then drills, strides, and jogging until we had to line up.

This race pays masters prize money, so I knew there would be some solid competition.  And sure enough, two other masters women - Jackie and Alisa - showed up.  Both are very good and specialists at this shorter distance.  Alisa is a living legend with gold (1500) and silver (800) medals from the 1981 Pan-Am games.  Jackie is a lightning bolt, just a year younger than me.  

At their best, I couldn't hold a candle to either of them.  However, Alisa is now a grand-masters runner, and Jackie was just coming off of the Boston Marathon.  I hoped that under those circumstances that I could eke out a masters win if I ran a smart hard race.


We lined up, and after the magic words "on your mark" the starter pulled the trigger.  But....the gun didn't fire.  Just like the last time I ran this race...

After about 30 seconds, he had the gun set for try two, and this time it fired.

My plan was not to go out crazy hard, but to keep Jackie and Alisa in sight if I could, with hopes of powering up to and past them during the second half.  However a pack of women, including Jackie, exploded and were nearly out of sight by the end of the first quarter (downhill).  Well...there went that plan.  

I shifted to racing those around me - as always happens, a pack of high school girls came back to me during the second uphill quarter.  And...there were a few women from GRC (another DC team) that looked like I could reel them in, plus some others.  So....I had people to chase.  I couldn't see Alisa, which probably meant she was right on my heels.

Unfortunately, I was also already heavy in oxygen debt well before the half-way point.  Not good for that early in the race.  I also just didn't feel smooth or bouncy.  I'm not a terribly bouncy runner (good for the longer distances), but I do usually have a bit of spark when racing the mile.  Not today.  I felt clunky.

But it was what I had to work with, so I did.  I was not able to power though the second 800 like I had planned to, but I fought a good fight - nobody passed me after the first quarter mile, and I passed a few others, including one of the GRC girls.  

I gritted my teeth and tried to kick in the last 200, but just didn't have anything - I was borderline tying up.  As I approached the finish, I noted it ticking over 5:30, which was disappointing, but oh well.  At least I had fought hard.

My splits (taken via autolap on Garmin) were 79/88/86/84.  This race is basically downhill; uphill; uphill then downhill; and flat for the four quarters, so my pacing isn't quite as bad as it looks at first.  But I still was just hanging on for the second 800.  

I ended up 14th female over all, and second master female.  Jackie ended up beating me by at least 20 seconds, so her marathon legs weren't enough to balance the difference; Alisa hung behind me for third master.

I'm not terribly happy with this race.  OTOH, I have all summer to work at and improve at this distance after the Garry Bjorklund Half.  


I keep thinking that at least part of the problem today was that I just wasn't running like a miler - my coach took some pictures of me at the halfway point, and I looked like I could have been racing a 10 miler or longer.  No knee lift or power, all long-low-efficient-glide.
Photo by George Buckheit; 
my fault for being in the shadows.
And I look exactly like this in 
a half-marathon.

So...I think that with some more work at this distance, things will improve rapidly.  This isn't a fitness issue or an execution issue (though I did go out a bit fast); it's a neuro-muscular coordination issue.   I need to relearn how to get up on my forefoot.   I don't do that for longer races because it is inefficient and slows me down, but it's how I run my fastest mile.

The good news is that running this race (and especially hanging on the way I did in the second half) should help me be more aggressive in my future 5Ks, and hopefully move the needle towards a 5K PR.

Other notes:

  • Weather conditions were a temp of 73 and a dew point of 66 - not ideal for longer races, but great for a road mile, where I prefer it to be at least 65 degrees.  I did notice a mild headwind for the race - but it was more of an annoyance than a real factor.
  • Pollen was high, and my throat was pretty tight - again, not something that would be a factor in a mile, but might have affected a longer race. 
  • I wonder if I screwed up a little in the days before the race.  I swam and pool-ran the day before, rather than do a shake-out jog, because I wanted to avoid running 4 days in a row.  Perhaps I would have been sharper with the shakeout jog.  I also did 3200, 1600 on the Friday before.  I did the same exact thing before this race two years ago when I PR'd, was less humid then, and perhaps two years of age does make a difference.  All food for thought.
  • And...once again my heart rate stayed low for this race - maxing out at 176, while I hit 180 at the end of my marathons.  I don't think this is a lack of toughness thing - otherwise how could I hit 180 at the end of a marathon?  Just a weird physiology thing for me - no matter how well warmed up I am, my heart rate is very slow to rise when I'm running if I start from a stand-still.  Which is probably why I like to ease into my longer races, and also why workouts feel much easier on my body when I jog the recoveries and don't pause before the next interval.
  • Wore my now-ancient Takumi Sens, which carried me to both my mile and 5K PRs.  I love this shoe, and it frustrates me that I haven't found a good replacement yet - the newer Takumi Sens just aren't quite as stiff or bouncy.
  • Saw a few people wearing Vaporflys for this race, which amused me as always.  The Vaporfly is a great longer distance shoe (though not magic).  But it's an awful shoe for a road mile, even one with no turns.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Training log - Week ending 5/26/2019

This week was 42 miles of running, 20 "miles" of pool-running and 3000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

I'm racing a road mile on Monday, so no long run for me this weekend.  My plan for Tuesday's workout had been to cruise the 1200s and 800s, and then use the 400s and 200s for turnover.  But...high pollen made for a tough breathing day, and I ended up turning the 400s and 200s into extended form drills instead.  

I would have preferred to have hammered the 400s and 200s, but frying myself isn't great for race prep, so I chose the best option.  

The rest of the week was pretty relaxed, with just a moderate long intervals effort to ensure I got some work in while still saving energy for the mile.  

I'm curious to see how the mile will go - I feel like I'm in very good shape in general, but I'm not sure I'm in my best mile fitness.  We shall see.  I plan to focus on this distance and race it a lot this summer after my June half-marathon.

In other news, I finally got the pathology report back from my colonoscopy.  It took two weeks because I was a low priority, which I didn't mind - it's a very good thing to NOT be the pathologist's urgent case.

The pathology results confirmed what I had already suspected after the colonoscopy - ulcerative colitis.    Not a big surprise - there's an expression in medicine about hoofbeats, horses, and zebras, and when you have a history of auto-immune issues, symptoms like mine, and ulcers in your large intestine, then ulcerative colitis is the Clydesdale in the living room.

The good news, of course, is:

a) I have a mild version of it (as evidenced by the fact that I'm currently running very well with it);

b) since I have a long history of "indeterminate colitis" (doctor-speak for "there's something autoimmune going on in your gut but we're not quite sure what") I've already done the hard work of coordinating with a GI doctor and a nutritionist to figure out the right diet to manage symptoms;

[if you're wondering - I eat a lot of well-cooked rice, corn products, well-cooked veggies, and lean meats - I avoid gluten, oats, lactose, nuts, and legumes like chickpeas and garbanzo beans]

[and, it's also worth noting that while I am absolutely happy to trade notes with others on how to manage GI issues, I am not receptive to suggestions that I try the vegetarian/keto/vegan/paleo/SCD diets, or any other diet based on a best-selling book, interest group, or high-traffic website]

c) there are medications, completely legal under USADA, that can hopefully prevent any progression of the UC and also reduce the chances of another flare like the one I apparently had earlier this year that wrecked my race at Shamrock.  I'm starting a drug called Rowasa on Monday, and hopefully that will work well without side effects.

So we'll see how that goes.  In the meantime, I have a mile to race.


Monday: Yoga and 8.5 "miles" pool-running in the morning. Foam rolling at night. 

Tuesday: 12 miles, including a track workout of 2x1200, 2x800, 2x400, 2x200 in 4:30, 4:24, 2:56, 2:53, 86, 83, 41, 41, with jogging recovery between 2:20 and 2:30 after the 1200s and 800s; 90 seconds between the two 400s (full recovery for the 200s).  Followed with leg strengthwork and 1000 yards recovery swimming. Foam rolling at night. 

Wednesday: 5 miles very easy to yoga (8:59) and then yoga. Followed with another 7 miles very easy (8:43), plus drills and strides, Massage in afternoon. 

Thursday: Upper body weights/core and 7.5 "miles" pool-running in the morning. Foam rolling at night. 

Friday: 10 miles, including a long intervals workout of 3200, 1600 in 12:29 (6:14/6:15) and 6:08 with just less than 5 minutes jogging recovery in between. Followed with two uphill strides and 1000 yards recovery swimming. Foam rolling at night. 

Saturday:  8 miles very easy (9:00), plus drills, four uphill strides, DIY yoga, and light upper body weights/core. Foam rolling at night. 

Sunday: 4 "miles" pool-running, 1000 yards swimming, and some DIY yoga.  Plus foam-rolling and an ice bath to perk up the legs.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Training log - Week ending 5/19/2019

This week was 61 miles of running, 16 "miles" of pool-running and 2000 yards of swimming -- training log is here

Finally, a normal week of training - it's been a long time. Overall, things went well. 

I had a bad workout on Friday, where I had been aiming for 4 miles but pulled the plug after 3 miles. I don't like dropping from workouts, but sometimes it's the best choice.  Here, I felt like I was running through quicksand and slowing and working much harder than tempo effort.  Finishing the workout would have been a race effort . made sense to stop rather than go to the well to finish it.

Sometimes, especially when one hasn't raced in a while, I think it's important to finish those tough workouts. But I've raced plenty recently, so I don't need any practice with digging deep. And I do need to make sure I don't overdo things as I look towards my half-marathon 6 weeks away. 

I'm not too worried about the bad workout on Friday - I think it was a combo of a) recovery from Broad Street (extended by the colonoscopy), b) having my sleep schedule screwed up twice this week due to evening obligations, and c) reacting to my allergy shots on Wednesday (I think they gave too strong a dose, since I felt awful after). 

I went to bed early on Friday night and slept 9 hours, and felt much better Saturday morning. And then Sunday's long run went well, if somewhat adventurously.  

[Low-lights included a long stretch of ankle-deep water on a flooded Hains Point, a collection of people carrying oars who thought it was fun to swing those oars like toys across the running path, and a cyclist who played "chicken" with me.]

Sunday was the first somewhat warm and humid long run I've done this year - it's been a relatively cool spring, and so I've been spoiled.  I was pretty happy with how the run went - marathon effort yielded me mostly mid-low 6:50s pace (had two slower miles due to a) dodging people with oars and b) lost Garmin signal that threw the average off).  That's obviously not my goal marathon pace for the fall, but I obviously also hope not to be running my fall marathon in 73 degrees with a matching dew point!

Next week will be a bit of a pull-back, since I'm racing a road mile on Memorial day.


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

Tuesday: 12 miles, including a track workout of 1600, 4x800 in 6:02, 2:56, 2:56, 2:56, 2:51 - recovery of just under 5 minutes after the 1600, and a bit over 2:30 after the 800s. Followed with leg strengthwork and 1000 yards recovery swimming. Foam rolling at night. 

Wednesday: 8 miles very easy to yoga (8:52), plus drills and strides, and then yoga. Followed with another 4 miles very easy (8:55). 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 a tempo of a bit over 3 miles in 20:16 (splits were 6:26/6:22/6:26/1:01 before bailing). Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming. Foam rolling at night. 

Saturday: 10 miles very easy (8:53), plus drills, strides, upper body weights/core. Foam rolling at night. 

Sunday: 14 miles progressive, split as first 4 averaging 8:39; next 4 at 7:23; last 6 at 6:57, and then a cool-down of a bit less than a mile. Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming. Foam rolling in afternoon.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Training Log - Week ending 5/12/2019

This week was 45 miles of running, 19 "miles" of pool-running and 1000 yards of swimming -- training log is here

This week was about race recovery.  And...about following up on my Shamrock troubles.  

As a result of my GI troubles earlier this year, I went in for a check-up with the GI doctor.  Who told me I needed another colonoscopy to check stuff out.  I wasn't thrilled, but it was what it was.  And he allowed me to delay it to after Broad Street, which meant that it didn't interfere with my spring training.

Of course, this also meant that colonoscopy recovery overlapped with my 45th birthday (which was Thursday), but...priorities, y'know.

As for the colonoscopy itself, I'll now describe the process generally - with the understanding that it may be TMI to some, who are free to stop reading at anytime.  I operate under the theory that there are also people reading who are reluctant or embarrassed to ask about stuff like this, but also really want to know.  So...the next few paragraphs are for them.

Anyways, it's commonly said that the prep is worse than the procedure.  I would agree with that, but I would also argue that a) the prep really wasn't bad, and b) the things that preceded the prep were worse.

The worst, by far, was spending an hour on the phone confirming that my HMO insurance plan would cover all the various charges for the procedure, including GI Doctor, anesthesia, facility charges, and any pathology work that needed to be done.  

Second worst was the fasting that started Tuesday morning.  I had to go on a clear liquids diet - only fluids with no pulp and no red/blue/purple dye.  For purposes of a colonoscopy, lemon-lime jello, lemon Italian ice or sorbet, and sports nutrition gels and blocks of the appropriate color are also allowed. 

Thing's awfully hard to get enough calories on a clear liquids diet, and the calories you get are very sugary.  And I really don't function well on a sugary diet.   I ended up shutting down work around noon on Tuesday since it was apparent that I was too hangry and dizzy to be at all productive. 

 [When you have a meltdown about Jello that has failed to set, it's bad.]

Once I just stopped eating altogether, I felt a bit better.

And then the real good stuff started on Tuesday night, with the prep.  This was two bottles of medication that each mixed to 16 ounces that tasted like cough syrup.  I took the first dose at 6:30 pm, chased by 32 ounces of water.  Then, at 3:30 am I took the second dose, with another 32 ounces of water.  The prep didn't taste wonderful, but it wasn't awful.  It was much better tasting than the last prep I did, and there was also a lot less to get down.

[the co-pay for this prep was $70 - that's probably why it tasted so non-bad.  You get what you pay for, I guess.]

The evening, of course, was spent doing what the prep was supposed to do.  All flowed smoothly, and by the morning I was clean and clear.  Just in time to get a cab ride to the facility, where I lay down for a nice nap and woke up 45 minutes later to a nurse offering me really good corn chips and bottled water.  And then Brian chauffeured me home, where I caught up on Game of Thrones.

As for what the colonoscopy found?  No polyps, which is always good news.  My understanding is that colon cancer nearly always starts as polyps (not that we suspected I had colon cancer anyway).  

The examination did find some "non-bleeding mucosal ulceration," which I Googled just like anyone else would.  The doctor took some biopsies, so I'll know when the pathology comes back what is causing this - possibilities include auto-immune disease, an allergic reaction, or a virus of some sort.  Or maybe something else - that's what the doctor is for.

Because of the anesthesia, I wasn't allowed to do anything on Wednesday (I did DIY yoga to keep myself mobile, but I don't consider that to be activity - it's active stretching).  Thursday I planned to run, but my gut felt tender - I'm guessing from the biopsies - so I stayed in the pool to avoid jostling stuff too much.

By Friday, I felt pretty much normal, though slightly drained from the electrolyte depletion and dehydration that is part of colonoscopy prep.   Even though I felt OK, I skipped the track workout and ran easy anyway.    

My reasoning was that I'm really fit right now, and I'm trying to stretch this fitness another 6-7 weeks to mid-June.  That's exactly the place where runners get greedy, try to hammer too many workouts, and end up stale or fried by their goal races.  So... pulling back some this week by skipping both track workouts was an investment in a fast June - I gained more from skipping the workout than I would have from doing it.


Monday: 9 "miles" pool-running in the morning.  Massage in afternoon

Tuesday: 3 miles very easy (8:46), yoga, and 5 miles very easy (8:27).  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Wednesday:  Colonoscopy in the morning; some DIY yoga and foam rolling at night

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

Friday: 7 miles easy (8:56), yoga, and 5 miles very easy (8:37) plus drills and four strides.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:  10 miles very easy (8:48) plus drills and four strides, followed by upper body weights and core.  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday: 14.5 miles, split as first 8 averaging 8:29, next 6 averaging 6:54, and then a half-mile cooldown.  Followed with light leg strengthwork and 1000 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Training log - Week ending 5/5/2019

This week was 38 miles of running, 14 "miles" of pool-running and 1000 yards of swimming -- training log is here

Just another placeholder for race week.  The weeklies will get more interesting when I'm racing less and starting to train up for the Garry Bjorklund Half.


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

Tuesday: 10 miles, including 2x(1600, 800) in 6:00, 2:53, 5:55, 2:53.  Also leg strengthwork and 750 yards recovery swimming.

Wednesday:  7 miles very easy (8:52) plus drills and 4 hill sprints.  Then DIY yoga.  Foam rolling at night

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

Friday: 7 miles, including a 1600 up-tempo (6:09)  Followed with DIY yoga.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:  Travel, DIY yoga and foam rolling.

Sunday: 3 mile warm-up, Broad Street 10 Miler in 62:28, 1 mile cool-down.  Travel home and then 750 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.