Monday, September 20, 2021

Training log - Week ending 9/19/2021

This week was 62 miles of running, 1000 yards of swimming and 15 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

I had two workouts this week - one bad and one good.  I attempted a 2x5 miles at marathon pace workout on Wednesday morning.

[Why Wednesday?  Because as of early this week it was looking like we might have a major event in downtown DC on Saturday that could possibly  interfere with access to Hains Point.  And Hains Point would be blocked off on Sunday for a race.  Since I didn't do a long run last weekend, there was no concern about two long runs too close to each other.]

The first 5 miles of the 2x5 went well, except that I got a bit dehydrated in the last mile (it was a warm, humid, and sunny morning).  That should have been my cue to stop during the recovery jog and drink a lot of water to salvage the workout.  But I didn't, and the rest of the workout sucked, even with breaking up the 5 miles into a 3 and a 2.  Lesson learned.  Again.

Saturday's workout went much better.  I ran it off of effort (like I always do) and was happy to see how fast the paces were for an honest tempo effort in high humidity.  Now, of course, two years ago that was my marathon pace.....  But, you have to train where you are currently, and this workout indicated a lot of improvement.  I don't think I could have run this workout 4 weeks ago.

In other news, I had a bit of a breakthrough with my recurring balance challenges.  Even after a lot of PT work, I still struggle running on uneven terrain - especially terrain with lots of curbs or chunks of broken sidewalk.

I gave it some thought, and realized that what my body seemed to be protecting me from was catching my toe on something raised.  And as part of that, it felt like I was almost dragging my toes when I ran.

So I did some research on exercises for "foot drop" and began working on strengthening and activating my anterior tibialis muscle (the one in your shin that dorsiflexes your foot).  And after just a few days of doing that, I'm handling curbs and such considerably better.  Neat!

Dailies:

Monday: 7.5 "miles" pool-running and streaming yoga.   Foam rolling at night. 

Tuesday: 10 miles easy (9:14 pace) plus drills and four hill sprints, followed by upper body weights/core.  Foam rolling in evening.

Wednesday:  16 miles, including a workout of 5 miles, 3 miles, 2 miles at marathon effort - splits were 36:16 (7:15 pace); 21:37 (7:12 pace) and 14:27 (7:13 pace).  Easy mile between each in 8:30, plus lots of water breaks.   Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday: 7.5 "miles" pool-running and streaming yoga. Foam rolling at night. 

Friday: 6.5 miles very easy (9:29), upper body weights/core, and then 3.5 miles very easy (8:57) plus drills and four strides.   Foam rolling at night. 

Saturday: 14 miles, including a track tempo workout of 4800, 3200, 1600 in 20:14 (6:47 pace); 13:22 (6:43 pace) and 6:27.  Recoveries of two laps in 5:41 after the 4800, and one lap in 2:49 plus a bathroom/shoe-tying break after the 3200.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  

Sunday: 12 miles easy to moderate (8:27).  Streaming yoga in afternoon, followed by foam rolling.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Training log - Week ending 9/12/2021

This week was 58 miles of running, 1000 yards of swimming and 9 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

I skipped a long run this weekend and instead went up to New York to run the Fifth Avenue Mile.  It was good to focus on speed briefly.  I wish I had more road miles to do this fall - if that was a possibility, I might consider focusing on that instead of marathon training.  But there's honestly not that much in the way of miles or quality shorter races this fall.

Monday: 9 miles very easy (9:27) plus drills and four hill strides, followed by upper body weights/core.   Foam rolling at night. 

Tuesday: 12 miles, including a track workout of 6x800, 2x400 in 3:07, 3:06, 3:04, 3:04, 3:04, 3:01, 85, and 85.  Recoveries of 2:39-2:53 between the 800s; full recovery for the 400s.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.   Foam rolling in evening.

Wednesday: 8 miles very easy (9:27), drills, two hill strides, and two flat strides.  Followed with streaming yoga and then 4 miles very easy on the treadmill (9:16).   Foam rolling at night.

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

Friday: 7 miles on the track, including a quick work-out of 1600 at tempo effort (6:29) and then 2x200m in 43 seconds each.  Followed with 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night. 

Saturday: 4 miles very easy (9:34).

Sunday: 5 miles warm-up, and then raced the Fifth Avenue Mile in 6:00.  Half-mile jog back to hotel to change shoes, and then did 7.5 miles that included a 6 mile progression run on the Central Park Loop (counter clockwise).  The progression was split as 2 miles averaging 8:47 pace, 2 miles averaging 8:04 pace, and 2 miles averaging 7:08 pace.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Race Report: Fifth Avenue Mile, September 12, 2021

I ran the Fifth Avenue Mile today, finishing in a time of 6:00 flat.  Not sure where that placed in my age group (other than that it wasn't top 3).

Fifth Avenue Mile and Cherry Blossom are two of my favorite races, and they both ended up on the same day.  Which of course begs the question - why the heck would I go to the time and effort to travel up to New York City when I could have slept in my own bed and run Cherry Blossom.

The answer is that Fifth Avenue Mile was more appealing and a better fit for where I am right now.  Basically I'm still rebuilding from iron deficiency and all that other fun ulcerative colitis stuff.  And I'm doing that while training for Indy Monumental Marathon.  And due to the way things have played out this year, I haven't had a chance to focus on or race any shorter stuff this year.  I also haven't raced since Grandma's Marathon in mid-June.

I needed a rust-buster - ideally at a distance that would not require too much taper or recovery, and also would let me do a little work on top-end speed.  Racing a mile fit really well into that plan; racing a 10 miler did not. 

***

So I hopped on a train up to New York on Saturday - my first trip to NYC since Covid.  Nothing is ever easy in the time of Covid.  My plan for Saturday was first to pick up my bib at the Cherry Blossom Expo (I was entered in Cherry Blossom, and the expo was on the way to Union Station, so why not grab it.  That way, if for some reason I couldn't get to New York, I still had Cherry Blossom as an option).  Then I'd get lunch at Union Station before taking the train up to New York.  

I left my house fairly early just in case the Cherry Blossom expo was crowded, but it wasn't.  However, I then discovered that nearly everything was closed at Union Station (Covid), so I ended up doing a lot more walking than I had planned, trying to find somewhere to get food.  Not ideal, but at least I was only racing a mile.

The train ride was uneventful, but when I got to my hotel in New York, I hit another snag.  Apparently the hotel was completely booked, and many of the guests from the night before had decided to stay past check out time.  Add to that a shortage in hotel staff to turn over the rooms that were available (Covid), and the result was a lobby full of really pissed off people who had reservations but could not check in, and would not be able to get a room for a few hours.

I looked around, but didn't see any other hotels with open rooms available for less than $1K a night, so I just parked myself in the hotel lobby and played on the internet - fortunately, a room came available about 40 minutes later, so that ended up not being so bad.

(side note: if you are nice to the hotel staff, and acknowledge that they are having a bad day for something that is not their fault, it is amazing what they will do to help you in return.   OTOH, losing your temper generally doesn't help you at all.)

***

My heat of the mile started at 7:45 am, but I had to grab my bib that morning, so I left my hotel around 6:20.  I was about a mile and a half from the race start - that would work nicely as my initial warm-up jog, and then I could grab my bib and check my t-shirt at the start and finish my warm-up with some faster running.

I grabbed my bib and t-shirt at the start, only to learn that bag check was at the finish (y'know, a mile away).   So that was an extra bit of running I'd have to do.  Either that or toss the shirt, but I wanted the shirt.   So back to the finish line I went.

There was an unexpected positive to this though - at bag check I saw my friend Michelle - we had met at the last 5th Avenue Mile where we had battled back and forth.  It was good to see her again and to catch up.

After checking my shirt and chatting, I did my standard warm-up (3:00 at marathon-to-half marathon pace, 4x30 seconds at 5K pace, and 4x10 seconds at mile pace).  And then I joined the masses waiting to enter our corral.

In years past, this race has split men 40-49 and women 40-49 into two separate heats, but this year, for whatever reason, they combined them. They still had two heats, but instead of women 40-49 and men 40-49, they had all 40-49 (faster than 8 minutes) and then all 40-49 slower than 8 minutes.

In smaller races, I think that way of splitting makes a lot of sense, and is better - it lets people of similar pace run together.  But....Fifth Avenue Mile is a very big, competitive race - combining it this way meant that you just had too many people trying to run at their top speed on a stretch of road that wasn't quite wide enough.

The problem was compounded by the fact that they had no guidance in the corral on paces.  They really should put up signs for "4:30 pace, 4:45 pace, 5:00 pace" etc.  Not that people always (or often) follow this guidance.  But it does help some.

But it was what it was, so we lined up.  If it was a women's only race, I would have lined up in the first or second line.  But given the mix, I knew I needed to be a bit further back, so I ducked back to around the 5th or 6th line.

***

The gun went off, and it was chaotic, as expected.  Right after the start I was shoved, which caused me to lose my balance (it's getting better but still a work in progress).  I windmilled my arms (I don't think I took anyone out, thankfully) and regained my balance before continuing on.

The rest of the race was a blur, I guess as miles always are.   I honestly didn't notice the inclines/declines of the course because I was too focused on navigating around others.  The whole thing had a very "first mile of marathon" feel in terms of closeness of runners and weaving.   Except that we were racing a mile, and I couldn't just stay patient and wait for traffic to clear.  To be fair, perhaps this race has always been like this for people of different paces, and I'm just experiencing it now since I'm not in great shape.

Crossed the finish line, and then clicked stop.  Since I stopped my watch after the finish I had to look up my official time later.  6 minutes exactly - bummer.

But honestly, even though the time was a bit slower than I was expecting (I thought 5:45 was reasonable on this course), I'm overall still happy with the experience.  I got my rust buster out of the way and got the speed workout that I was looking for.  As a late 40s runner who focuses on the marathon, racing miles is just plain good for me, and I clearly haven't been doing it enough.

I noted that my legs got lactic pretty early on, and had no pop.   In retrospect, not surprising at all.  It's been a long time since I've raced a mile, and my experience has always been that the first mile after time away from the distance is a shock to the system, and just plain sucks.  I've read where serious milers and 800m runners discuss the need to build up lactic tolerance, and that may have been what I experienced here.  

Splits were (Garmin Autolap):

first quarter - 92 (downhill plus lost balance)

second quarter - 90 (uphill)

third quarter - 89 (downhill)

fourth quarter - 89 (flat)

Other notes:

  • The weather ended up great temperature-wise for a mile - in the upper 60s.  Unfortunately there was also a 10 mph headwind from the southwest for my heat. I guess the good news about being so far back was that I don't think the headwind affected my race at all.  I was well-protected.
  • I wore the Puma Deviate Nitro Elite for this race.  I'm kinda neutral on it at this distance - I'm not sure it's the greatest shoe for a mile.  OTOH, I don't think it hurt me at all here.  I plan on testing it with some marathon pace running to see how I like it for that. (It certainly worked for Molly Seidel).
  • Afterwards, I ran back to my hotel, changed shoes, and then did a loop in Central Park.  I think I'd go crazy from repetition if I had to run in Central Park all the time, but it really is a joy to run in there every once in a while.
  • After my Central Park run, I showered at my hotel, only to discover that my shower had only luke-warm water.  I did tell the poor clerk last night that I would happily take any room she could offer me, so I guess that was part of the deal.
  • Taking the train to and from New York also meant that I got to experience the brand new Moynihan Train Hall.  Now, you can board Amtrak from either Penn Station (the old way) or across the street at Moynihan Train Hall.  Thus achieving Amtrak's apparent goal of confusing passengers in new and innovative ways, since they still haven't figured out a way to give you more than 2 minutes warning of which track your train will be on when you board.  

 





Monday, September 6, 2021

Training log - Week ending 9/5/2021

This week was 53 miles of running, 1000 yards of swimming and 24 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

Week 2 of marathon training for Indy Monumental.  Since I had done a 16 mile long run on Sunday of last week, I skipped the Tuesday workout to get an extra day of recovery (I find that helpful anytime I go longer than 14 miles).  

Of course, Wednesday then ended up quite exciting weather-wise - the remnants of Hurricane Ida rolled through around 3 am resulting in a strobe-and-boom show that woke up the entire DC area.  Followed by a tornado watch.  I decided to sleep in and do a tempo workout on my treadmill.  The paces on my treadmill don't map to outside paces (most likely because of incline and how warm the room gets) but I got a total of 30 minutes in at the right heart rate and effort range, so it was a productive workout.

Saturday I did the 4-3-2-1 miles at marathon effort workout on Hains Point in weather that was considerably improved from what we've had.  I was honestly hoping the paces would be faster for this workout, since my iron levels are normal now and the weather was so much better.  But 7:15-ish was what I locked into, and it felt like marathon effort and my heart rate was right in the mid-160s, so that was what I ran.    Running any harder would have just missed the point of the workout (the point of the workout is to work a certain physiological system, not to see how fast you can run intervals of 4, 3, 2, and 1 miles).

[That brings me to my pet peeve about marathon pace training in general.  There seems to be an assumption that if you can hold a certain pace during a "marathon pace workout" then that is your marathon pace.  Not at all true.    It is very doable, and even easy, to hold a pace that is somewhere in between your half-marathon and marathon pace for segments of 4, 3, 2, and 1 miles, or even for longer segments of 5 or 6 miles.  Especially if you jog the recovery mile very slowly and add in water/stretch breaks.  But running the workout that way gives you an inaccurate sense of what your marathon pace is, doesn't work the right system, and also means that the workout takes more out of you.  Lose-lose-lose.  End rant.]

Monday: 8 "miles" of pool-running and streaming yoga. Foam rolling at night. 

Tuesday: 7.5 miles very easy (9:42) to gym, followed by drills, 4 strides, and upper body weights/core.  Then 4.5 miles very easy (9:09).  Foam rolling in evening.

Wednesday: 12 miles on the treadmill, including a tempo workout of 2x10 minutes, 2x5 minutes at tempo effort with 2 minutes jog after the 10 minute intervals and 1 minute jog between the 5 minute intervals.  Treadmill pace for the tempo was 7:04.   Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday: 10 "miles" of pool-running and streaming yoga. Foam rolling at night. 

Friday: 8.5 miles very easy (9:20) to gym, then upper body weights/core.  Then 3.5 miles very easy home (9:08), followed by drills, two hill strides, and two flat strides.  Foam rolling at night. 

Saturday: 17 miles, including a marathon pace workout of 4, 3, 2, 1, miles at marathon effort with 1 mile float in between. Split as:
4 miles in 29:03 (7:16/7:17/7:15/7:15); 1 mile float in 7:45 (plus minute stop to retie shoes);
3 miles in 21:42 (7:12/7:15/7:15); 1 mile float in 8:00;
2 miles in 14:23 (7:08/7:15); 1 mile float in 8:09;
1 mile in 7:04.
Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in the afternoon. 

Sunday: 6 "miles" of pool-running and streaming yoga. Foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Training log - Week ending 9/29/2021

This week was 63 miles of running, 1500 yards of swimming, and 18 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

I was pretty happy with this week, which was the first week of my training for Indy Monumental Marathon.   I feel like I'm absorbing and responding to my training, rather than just pushing through.  And running just feels better each week. 

I did get my iron checked again this week, and unsurprisingly it was much improved - I've gone from an iron saturation of 17% to 40%.  Which matches how I feel. 

I did feel a bit tired for Tuesday's workout - which I suspect is because I was recovering from Sunday's long run.  As my long runs get more intense, it takes longer to recover from them; for that reason I think I'm going to start taking two easy days after each long run from now through the end of this training cycle.

Friday's workout does require a bit of an explanation.  It was warm and humid by the time I started the workout, and so I decided to break it into mile repeats with a short 1 minute jog between each to keep my heart rate from rising too much.  However, after 3 repeats I decided I had been a bit too ambitious (I should have done 5 minute segments instead) so I took a longer jog to get my heart rate under control and then did two more shorter segments.  I still got 30 minutes of work in at tempo, so I called it a success.   It wasn't ideal, but that's tempo workouts in August for you.

Dailies

Monday: 9 "miles" of pool-running and streaming yoga.  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday
12miles, including a track workout of 2x1200, 2x800, 2x400 in 4:47, 4:44, 3:06, 3:01, 87, and 87  (~3 minute recoveries after each 1200 or 800, 1:40 recovery between the two 400s.   Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday:  8.5 miles very easy (9:36), followed by upper body weights/core and then 3.5 miles very easy (9:09) plus drills, two hill strides, and two flat strides.    Foam rolling at night.

Thursday
 9 "miles" of pool-running and streaming yoga.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday12 miles, including a cruise interval workout of 3x1 mile and 2x5 minutes at tempo effort with 60 seconds recovery between each (except for 3 minutes between the last mile and the first 5 minute segment.  Splits/paces were 6:45, 6:44, 6:40, 6:40 and 6:36.  
After full recovery, also did four 30 second pick-ups with 60 second jog in between.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in evening.

Saturday: 10.5 miles very easy (9:20) plus drills and four hill sprints, followed by upper body weights/core.  Foam rolling in evening.

Sunday: 16 miles progressive, split as first 5 miles averaging 9:29 pace, next 5 averaging 7:59 pace, next 6 averaging 7:14 pace, and then a .5 mile jog.  
Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.   Foam rolling in afternoon.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Training log - Week ending 8/22/2021

This week was 61 miles of running, 1500 yards of swimming, and 18 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

This was the week that things really started to feel like they were turning around.  It's not so much that my paces have jumped up dramatically, but rather that my heart rate is much lower and easy to control for those paces, and that my running stride is starting to get some bounce back.    Tuesday's workout was the best track workout I've had in a long time (the paces were slow, but that was due to really thick humidity slowing everybody down.  I did Friday's tempo work on the treadmill again due to a flash flood warning - the inside temperature and humidity was identical to last week, and yet I didn't have to modify the workout and it even felt too easy.  Sunday's long run felt like a step forward also

So I'm feeling really positive.  It appears that the fatigue I've been struggling with has been the consequence of mild but persistent intestinal inflammation (that also resulted in low iron).  Now that I'm treating the inflammation with Lialda, my intestines are healing, and everything just feels so much better.

It's nice to feel so positive.

Dailies

Monday: 9 "miles" of pool-running and streaming yoga.  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday
11.5 miles, including a track workout of 6x800 in 3:10, 3:09, 3:08, 3:06, 3:05, 3:00.  (Recoveries mostly between 2:2x-2:4x; the one between reps 5 and 6 was a bit long at 3:11.)  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday:  8 miles easy (9:39) with drills and four strides, followed by upper body weights/core and then 4 miles very easy on the treadmill (9:29).    Foam rolling at night.

Thursday
 9 "miles" of pool-running and streaming yoga.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday12 miles, including a tempo workout on the treadmill of 7x5 minutes at tempo effort (pace was 7:09) all with 1 minute jogging recovery. After full recovery, also did six 30 second pick-ups with 60 second jog in between.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in evening.

Saturday: 10.5 miles very easy (9:19) plus drills and four hill sprints, followed by upper body weights/core.  Foam rolling in evening.

Sunday: 14.5 miles progressive, split as first 5 miles averaging 9:41 pace, next 4 averaging 8:13 pace, next 5.5 averaging 7:15 pace, and then a .5 mile jog.  
Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.   Foam rolling in afternoon.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Training log - Week ending 8/15/2021

This week was 58 miles of running, 1500 yards of swimming, and 18 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

The weather was pretty tough for much of this week - I ended up cutting Tuesday's workout way short (it was supposed to be 2000, 3x800, 2x400) when I overheated early on.  Friday's weather was miserable also, so I decided to do a tempo workout on the treadmill.  It wasn't much better inside (temp of 78/dew point of 71) but that way I had shade, a fan, and easy access to water.  I broke the tempo into intervals with very short jogged recoveries (to drink water) and it worked well.

We were promised a nice day on Sunday, but it didn't quite materialize.  The dew point dropped from the mid-70s to 70, which was better, but still sticky.  I was happy though, as I had a good long run on Sunday - rhythmic and controlled.

I did have an MRI-Enterography (an "MRE") of my small intestine on Tuesday - for prep I fasted a few hours, and then drank three bottles of liquid stuff over 90 minutes that bloated me nicely (so that they could see the intestine structure clearly.  Apparently people complain about the liquid stuff, but I didn't mind - I thought it tasted like flat Mountain Dew (I could be wrong, since I haven't had Mountain Dew in a very very very long time).  Anyways, having done several colonoscopies, and having thus drunk several colonoscopy prep solutions, I thought this was much much better tasting, and I was able to chug it easily.

The MRE didn't show any indications of Crohns, which was really good news.  It did show a significant amount of partially digested food in my stomach and small intestine, despite a 4.5 hour fast.  So now I have a follow-up appointment on that.  In sadly humorous fashion, the GI doctor's office called to tell me that the doctor wanted to see me at his next available opening.  That opening?  Late September.  So I'm guessing it's not that urgent.

But the good news is - no Crohns, just Ulcerative Colitis (though one isn't necessarily better or worse than the other).  The better news is that the Lialda that I'm now taking seems to really be helping.  If that's the fix, then I'm a very happy woman.


Dailies

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

Tuesday
11 miles, including a track workout of 2000, 800, and 2x400m in 8:07, 3:05, 91, 89.  5 minute recovery between the 2000 and the 800, full recovery otherwise.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday:  9 miles easy (9:37) with drills and four strides, followed by streaming yoga and then 3 miles very easy on the treadmill (9:35).    Foam rolling at night.

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

Friday10 miles, including a tempo workout on the treadmill of 4x5 minutes, 2x3 minutes, 4 minutes at tempo effort (pace was 7:09) all with 1 minute jogging recovery.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in evening.

Saturday: 10.5 miles very easy  (9:34) plus drills and four hill sprints.  Foam rolling in evening.

Sunday: 14 miles progressive, split as first 5 miles averaging 9:05 pace, next 4 averaging 8:07, next 5 averaging 7:15, and then a .5 mile jog.  
Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.   Foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Training log - Week ending 8/8/2021

This week was 60 miles of running, 1000 yards of swimming, and 18 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

A lot of treadmill running this week so that I could watch the Olympics.  I'll confess that I prioritized watching the equestrian events live and caught up on the running events later.  Your first sport is always your favorite.  

I got my colonoscopy results back and they didn't give any new information - still the same old ulcerative colitis diagnosis.  I'm trying a new medication (Lialda) we'll see what difference that makes.  In the past I've been on another version of this medication (Rowasa) and had some fatigue and weakness issues.  However, that effect seemed to fade within a bit less than 24 hours after each dose (I could tell because at one point I took it every other day).    I had to take the Rowasa at night, but can take the Lialda at any time.   So I'm trying taking it right after my run each day, so that any side effects can fade away before my next run.  So far so good.

In other news I mixed workouts up a bit this week - a friend wanted company for at least part of her marathon pace workout of 4, 3, 2, 1 miles at marathon pace.  So I ran the 4 and 3 mile segments with her at a pace that ended up being between marathon and tempo effort for me.  Not really effective for me as a marathon workout (the effort was too hard), but it was a good big aerobic session for me, and I got to help her out.  

Because I ran a fairly big workout on Friday, I kept the weekend low key; instead of doing a Sunday long run, I just ran easy before doing some running mechanics work - basically a few hills with full recovery, and then drills and two strides on the track.


Dailies

Monday:  5 miles easy on the treadmill (9:51), 6 "miles" of pool-running, and upper body weights/core.  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday
12 miles, including a track workout of 2x1600, 2x800 and 2x400 in 6:38, 6:29, 3:04, 3:03, 88, and 86.  5 minutes recovery between and after the 1600s; 3 minutes recovery between the 800s, full recovery for the 400s.   Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday:  10 miles easy on treadmill (9:53), followed by streaming yoga.    Foam rolling at night.

Thursday
 12 "miles" of pool-running and upper body weights/core.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday12.5 miles, including an extended tempo workout of 4 miles, 3 miles at somewhere between marathon and tempo effort.  Splits were 29:08 (7:22/7:21/7:11/7:14) and 21:58 (7:26/7:20/7:12) with about 10 minutes jogging/water drinking in between.  (Ran with a friend for part of her marathon pace workout).  Followed with
 leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in evening.

Saturday: 10 miles easy on treadmill (9:47) and streaming yoga.  Foam rolling in evening.

Sunday: 10.5 miles, mostly very easy (9:23) but with four 60-70 second hill repeats near the end, followed by drills and two strides.  Injury prevention work and foam rolling in afternoon.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Training log - Week ending 8/1/2021

This week was 60 miles of running, 1500 yards of swimming, and 18 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

My coach was on vacation this week, so I subbed in for him, supervising the Tuesday and Friday morning workouts.   Which meant that I did my own workouts on Monday and Thursday mornings.  

Apparently odd things happen when you mix up the days.  On Monday I encountered a woman walking clockwise in lane 1 who insisted that she was correct in doing so.  (She left after I emphasized to her that she was going to get hurt if she continued.) 

Thursday I headed to Hains Point only to realize that Thursday mornings are apparently "Hains Point Hammerfest" time for cyclists, meaning that both lanes of Hains Point (usually shared somewhat peaceably by runners, cyclists, and drivers) were dominated by pelotons of cyclists hitting upwards of 30 mph.  I was debating heading home to do my tempo on the treadmill when their Hammerfest ended and I was able to safely focus on my tempo.  (by then it was late enough in the morning that the weather just sucked).

Saturday's long run, in unseasonably nice weather, was mostly OK - the only hiccup was the woman who was laudably picking up her dog's poop on one side of the path, but less laudably allowing her leashed dog to explore the other side of the path, meaning the leash extended over the entire width of the path...  

I'm still way out of breath at any sort of of aerobic exercise, be it swimming or running.  Last week I swapped my iron supplement from Vitron-C (taken every other day) to SlowFE (every day), and I thought I felt slightly better as the week went on, after adjusting for the weather.  But of course, hard to know for sure.  

My next doctor's appointment is on Tuesday, so we can discuss what next steps are then.  In the meantime, I've just been trying to train by effort and heart rate, figuring that as long as I respect those and ignore paces I won't do any damage.  If I stopped training altogether, I'd have no way to be sure whether the out of breath feeling was from being out of shape or from iron deficiency/IBD (or from something else).


Dailies

Monday
12 miles, including a track workout of 2x1200m, 2x800m, 2x400m, and 2x200m in 4:57, 4:51, 3:10, 3:08, 92, 90, 43, and 43.  3:00 recoveries after the 1200s and 800s; 90 second recoveries after the 400s and 200s.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming. Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday: 3 miles easy outside (9:30), supervise team track workout, then 9 miles very easy on treadmill (9:36), followed by streaming yoga.  
Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday:  12 "miles" pool-running and upper body weights/core.   Foam rolling at night.

Thursday
 11 miles, including a tempo workout of 2 miles, 1 mile in 14:05 (7:12/6:53) and 6:51, with 5 minutes jog in between, and then four sets of 30 seconds at mile effort with 60 seconds jog.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday2 miles easy outside (10:00), drills and supervision of team track workout, and then 8 miles very easy on treadmill (9:38), followed by streaming yoga.  Foam rolling in evening.

Saturday: 15 miles total, split with the first 5 miles averaging 9:49 pace, the next 4.5 miles averaging 8:20 pace, and the next 5 miles averaging 7:20 pace, before jogging to make it 15 miles.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.   Foam rolling in evening.

Sunday: In the morning, streaming yoga and 6 "miles" pool-running.  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Training log - Week ending 7/25/2021

This week was 53 miles of running, 1000 yards of swimming, and 21 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

I moved closer to my "normal" routine this week, with both track intervals and a tempo.  Both were quite unimpressive - I'm just struggling aerobically - out of breath with a high heart rate.  It's not asthma (lungs feel great and peak flow meter reads normal), and my legs also feel quite good.

I had some blood drawn on Tuesday - checking my CBC (complete blood count), iron levels, folate, and B12.  I haven't yet discussed the bloodwork with a doctor, but to my reading, it looks like my iron is still low - that's certainly consistent with how I feel.  

We'll see what the doctor says when I have my appointment in early August.  In the meantime, I'm already on iron supplements - I've been on them since this spring.

Dailies

Monday: 10 "miles" of pool-running and upper body weights/core.  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday
11 miles, including a short track workout of 2x(1600m, 800m) and 2x200m in 6:41, 3:10, 6:33, 3:04, 44, and 43.  Very long recoveries after each.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday:  9 miles easy (9:41) with drills and two hill strides, followed by streaming yoga and then 3 miles very easy on the treadmill (9:46).    Foam rolling at night.

Thursday
 11 "miles" of pool-running and upper body weights/core.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday12 miles, including a 4 mile tempo in 28:12 (7:06/7:10/7:07/6:49) followed by two approximate 200s at mile effort, and then leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in evening.

Saturday: 10 miles easy on treadmill (9:50) and streaming yoga.  Foam rolling in evening.

Sunday: 8 miles easy (9:44) with drills, two hill sprints, and then upper body weights/core.  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Training log - Week ending 7/18/2021

This week was 51 miles of running, 500 yards of swimming, and 11 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

I added in a conservative track workout on Monday (really just wanted to get my feet wet again).  The weather was warm and humid and I'm out of shape, so I was pleasantly surprised that the splits were as fast as they were.  

A personal trainer that I've exchanged friendly greetings with for many years on the track approached me after Monday's workout to ask if I was all right.  He explained that he didn't want to overstep, but that I didn't look right - "you used to float, and now you're not."  

I wasn't upset at all, honestly.  It was really validating to have someone else notice what I felt - that I'm just lacking oomph and have been on and off for months.   The question, of course, is why.

Which leads to Wednesday's upper endoscopy and colonoscopy - essentially they put me under and then sent a camera down my mouth to check out my esophagus, stomach, and first part of my small intestine.  Followed up by sending a different camera up the back end to check out my large intestine and the last part of my small intestine.  Unfortunately, you can't reach all of the small intestine from either direction - for that you have to either get a CT scan or swallow a pill with a camera in it.

They found some inflammation in my large intestine - not surprising since I have ulcerative colitis.  They also saw some inflammation in the antrum (bottom part) of my stomach.  So they took biopsies of the inflamed areas, plus everywhere else, to determine the nature of the inflammation.  I should hear back on the biopsy results and next steps in about 10-14 days.

As odd as it sounds, I'm actually glad they saw some inflammation in the stomach.  My on-again-off-again nausea has become much more on than off over the past year, and my issues with iron and folate malabsorption also point to an issue (plus the fatigue and lack of oomph/floating).  So it's good to have a possible explanation.  

Colonoscopies with biopsies are hard on the body, so I spent Thursday in the pool and waited until Saturday to do my next workout - a repeat of Iwo Jima hills.  I've been really happy with how the uphill portion of these workouts feel.  Usually, when I start these workouts, my legs burn and struggle until I adapt.  This time, my legs have felt great from the start; it's just my aerobic capacity that lags.  I suspect that my focus on squatting in the gym has really helped with the hills.

Dailies

Monday: 10 miles, including a short track workout of 2x1600m at tempo (6:38 and 6:33) with 3:00 jog in between, and then 2x200m in 42 and 42 with full recovery in between.  Followed with leg strengthwork.  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday: 7 miles very easy on treadmill (9:38) and streaming yoga.  Also a lot of lemon jello and margarita shot bloks.   Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday:  Colonoscopy and upper endoscopy in the morning; a bit of foam rolling later.

Thursday
 8 "miles" of pool-running and upper body weights/core.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday7 miles easy (9:48) plus drills and 4 hill strides, and then streaming yoga followed by 3 miles very easy on the treadmill (9:40).  Foam rolling in evening.

Saturday: 12 miles, including 8 Iwo Jima Memorial hills (~2 minutes hard up, jog, 25 second downhill stride, jog) plus leg strengthwork, 500 yards recovery swimming, and 3 "miles" pool-running.  Foam rolling in evening.

Sunday: 12 miles easy (9:38) followed by drills and streaming yoga.  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Training log - Week ending 7/11/2021

This week was 42 miles of running and 18 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

I added hills into the mix this week, starting with short hills and then moving on to longer hills at the Iwo Jima memorial.  Hills, weights, and a bit of tempo work is the plan for the next few weeks.


Dailies


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

Tuesday: 9 miles with 8 short hills (70-80 seconds up a 5% slope with 2:30-2:40 recovery) plus leg strengthwork.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday:  9 miles easy (9:37) plus drills and two strides  Foam rolling in evening.

Thursday
 6 "miles" of pool-running and streaming yoga.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday: 10 miles, including 6 Iwo Jima Memorial hills (~2 minutes hard up, jog, 25 second downhill stride, jog) plus leg strengthwork.  Foam rolling in evening.

Saturday: 7.5 miles easy (9:46), upper body weights/core, 3 miles very easy (9:24) plus drills and four strides.  Foam rolling in evening.

Sunday: 3 miles easy (9:51), 6 "miles" pool-running, and streaming yoga.  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Monday, July 5, 2021

Training log - Week ending 7/4/2021

This week was 34 miles of running and 14 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

Not too much of interest here, just squats, split squats, and barbell lunges on Tuesday and Saturday.  Saturday's workout was supposed to be on Friday, but getting very little sleep on Thursday night due to a tornado touching down a few blocks away led me to push back Friday's squats by a day.

The tornado was an EF1, so I imagine people in Oklahoma don't even bother getting up for those, but it was impressive to me.  No damage to our house/yard whatsoever, though those north of us weren't so lucky.

I also got some good news when I went in for a DEXA scan to check my bone density (since I'm on the border of osteopenia/osteoporosis, I get it checked every 2 years).    I've been fearful of what this scan would reveal, since Covid prevented me from using the gym (and heavy dumbbells/barbells) for much of the past year.  Concerning, since weight lifting is key to maintaining bone strength.  But...looks like my combination of bands and kettlebells at home plus running did the trick - the rheumatologist was "thrilled" with my latest scan.  So yay!


Dailies


Monday: 6 "miles" of pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday: 6 miles (9:42) and leg strengthwork.   Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday:  Streaming yoga and 6 miles very easy on treadmill (9:42).  Foam rolling in evening.

Thursday
 6 "miles" of pool-running and upper body weights/core..  Foam rolling at night.

Friday: 8 miles easy (9:28) including some short gentle hills, followed by some DIY yoga (we had no power, so streaming yoga was out).  Foam rolling in evening.

Saturday: 6 miles very easy (9:21), drills and two strides, and leg strengthwork.  Foam rolling in evening.

Sunday:  8 miles very easy on treadmill (9:38) and 2 "miles" pool-running.  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Training log - Week ending 6/27/2021

This week was 10 miles of running and 30 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

Recovery week.   I started with pool-running and a bit of yoga and light weights, progressing to some easy running plus lifting by the end of the week.

During the pandemic, I lost access to a few cross-training modalities that I had been really dependent on:
  • heavy lifting at the gym in the power cage (mostly barbell squats, split squats, and lunges);
  • long pool-runs of 90-120 minutes in duration; and
  • sauna sessions a few times a week to build heat acclimation (regular sauna sessions in 2018 and 2019 really helped with my heat tolerance when running).
Now that things are shifting back to the pre-pandemic times, I'm reintroducing these.  Since I now have access to a power cage and sauna again, I'm adding in both.  Over the next few weeks, I'm going to keep my runs slow and relatively short (no more than 80 minutes in duration) while focusing on my squat and split squat to bring those back to where they were pre-pandemic.  In the summer of 2019 I was doing split squats at 115 pounds; now I do regular barbell squats at 105 pounds.  So there's a lot of ground to cover there.  Once I've got that strength back, then I'll add in track workouts.

Currently at the pool I'm limited to 60 minutes per session still.  However, those limits will be lifted on July 11, at which time I'll be able to start increasing volume there as well, which will be plenty of time before I start training for my fall marathon.


Dailies


Monday: 6 "miles" of pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday: 6 "miles" of pool-running and streaming yoga.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday:  Light upper body weights/core and 4 "miles" pool-running.  Foam rolling in evening.

Thursday
 6 "miles" of pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday: Full body weights/core and 4 "miles" pool-running.  Foam rolling in evening.

Saturday: 3 miles easy (9:55), 4 "miles" pool-running, and streaming yoga.  Foam rolling in evening.

Sunday:  7 miles (9:43) plus drills, followed by upper body weights/core.  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Training log - Week ending 6/20/2021

This week was 41 miles of running, 500 yards of swimming, and 12 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

Just a placeholder for my final week before Grandma's.  


Dailies


Monday: 6 "miles" of pool-running and DIY yoga.  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday: 8 miles, including a track workout of 400, 3x800, 400 in 88, 3:01, 3:02, 3:01, 85.  Followed with light injury prevention work and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 4 miles very easy (9:10) plus light upper body weights/core.  Foam rolling in evening.

Thursday
 Travel in the morning.  DIY yoga and some tennis-balling/use of the stick in the evening.

Friday: 2 miles very easy (9:22, plus DIY yoga and some tennis-balling/use of the stick.

Saturday: 1200m warm-up and then a marathon in 3:18:56.  Fly home that night.

Sunday:  6 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Race report: Grandma's Marathon, June 19, 2021

I ran Grandma's Marathon yesterday, finishing in 3:18:54.  Which was a bit (about 15 minutes) off what I thought I was in shape to run.  But it was still great to be able to run a "real" marathon.

***

The trip up to Duluth on Thursday was much less eventful than I thought.  I was prepared for difficult passengers on my flight, but there were none. I was prepared for issues and delays in getting a rental car, but there were none (other than the exorbitant price).  By 10 am local I was on the road, first stopping at a Minneapolis Target, then a Minneapolis Chipotle, before heading up to Duluth.

[A side note:  Minnesota gave me some Covid culture shock, as compared to Northern Virginia/DC.  In NoVa/DC, though mask mandates have been lifted, many stores are still requiring them or strongly recommending them.  And even in stores where they are not requested, many people still wear them, and you may feel a bit self-conscious without one.  It's not rare to see people wear masks outside.  Even while exercising.  In contrast - very few people were wearing masks anywhere in either Duluth or Minneapolis.  Not at Target, not at the grocery store, not at the race expo, not in the dorms, not anywhere.  No social distancing; not much plexiglass either.

[I'm noting this without judgment (there's been WAY too much judgment about anything related to Covid).  It made no difference to me, it was just different - first jarring, and then relaxing.

[also worth noting - both Minneapolis and Duluth are about as politically blue as Northern Virginia, so this wasn't a matter of political tendencies.  Just cultural differences.]

***

Like always, I stayed in the University of Minnesota dorms.  I like the location, and $360 for 3 nights beats the heck out of several hundred dollars per night for a lousy Super 8 motel further from the start/finish.  The dorms do have several downsides, though - shared bathrooms (fine); no televisions (fine); no tiny shampoo bottles (fine); and no air conditioning.  

The lack of air conditioning was NOT so fine, given how hot it was on Thursday and Friday in Duluth, including overnight.  I bought a fan at Target on Thursday; after a lousy night's sleep on Thursday, I bought a cooling blanket from Target.  However I still slept lousy on Friday night.  The room was just way too hot.  Regretfully, I may need to splurge on a hotel room from now on whenever I do the full marathon at Grandma's.

***

Friday morning, I headed down to the expo - my first indoor race expo since Covid.  The only real difference was that the area had been expanded to use more space, so that the vendor booths were much further apart.  In years past, there was one big room that hosted the pre-race pasta dinner, and another just beyond for the expo.  This year, the expo had the same # of vendors, but spread out over both rooms, with the pasta dinner somewhere else.

There were two other changes - this year bag check was done at the expo rather than at the start of the race.  (in practicality this meant no checking your dorm room key at the start of the race to collect at the end).  Grandma's also broke from its tradition of handing out finisher t-shirts at the finish line, instead giving them when you collected your number.  Since most races give shirts at the expo, I didn't find this change strange at all.

After the expo and a short shakeout jog, I headed to Chipotle (of course).  Then back to my dorm to rest up for the next day.    The Chipotle did not sit at all well, and I had some bad bouts of nausea in the evening and overnight.  The last time I got nauseous the day before Grandma's, I set a 6 minute marathon PR the next morning.  So I decided not to worry about it.  I had consumed enough calories/carbs/salt/water, and I hadn't puked anything back up, so I'd be fine.

***

Race morning was done slightly differently this year.  It was advertised as a rolling start - 8 athletes at a time - you cross the start line when you are ready after arriving in the start area.  No bag check, no warming up.  You just get there, use the portajohns, and start when you feel like it.  With "faster athletes" requested to get on the earlier buses.  The buses started leaving at 6:30 am for the 7:45 marathon start.

Since I need a (very slight) warm-up before even a marathon, I left my dorm-room at 6 am for a quick shakeout of less than a mile.  Then back to my room, where I grabbed a stroopwafel to snack on and a water bottle, before heading down to get onto a bus to the start.

When I got to the start, I noted a few things.  a) There was indeed enough space to do a bit of jogging plus some strides.  (since I had already done a shakeout, I settled for a few strides plus some pre-planned glute activation stuff).  b) the sun was out and bright.  It wasn't necessarily hot, but it was warm enough to hang out comfortably in a t-shirt - not a great sign for a marathon.  Oh well.

I also noted the start line, with an array of cones.  The idea was that instead of starting the race as one unit, the elite field would start, and then runners could follow the cones when they felt ready to start.  However, that's not how it worked in practice.  Instead, with about 5 minutes to race start, crowds started gathering behind the start line. 

***

I had been wondering how and when exactly to start this race.  It's hard to know where to place yourself when a) you're not going to be one of the top finishers, b) people are starting at all different times, and c) there are no pace signs or other guidance.  

I know from past experience that starting ahead of faster people is demoralizing - you are literally passed from behind the entire race.  So I didn't want to do that.  At the same time, I didn't want to start behind tons of slower people.  Ideally I'd start with people slightly slower than I planned to run.  I would ease into the race, and then start chasing people down.

[I think this staggered start would have worked much better if they had given some basic guidance - i.e "sub-2:40 runners - plan to start asap after the gun goes off; sub-3 hour runners- plan to start around 7:47; etc.]

But without any such guidance, I just had to go off of my best instinct.   I decided that older men wearing Vaporflies would probably be reliable peers or close-to peers.  So I entered the crowd and worked my way up toward the front, stopping when I hit an acceptable concentration of older men in Vaporflies.

***

At 7:45, the elite race started and the corral started moving up towards the start.  The announcer reminded people to only start 8 at a time and to walk until they hit the start line, but by the time I reached the start nobody was listening.  It was a normal race start, just with cones in the way.  So I followed the crowd, started jogging, and then clicked my watch and started running as I crossed the mats.

Immediately I was presented with a large crowd of slower people to navigate through.  Oops.  The good news was that this was a marathon and I had plenty of time to navigate, so I weaved my way through (running a lot on the shoulder) for the first 2 miles before things cleared up.  

Mile marker 3 passed and with it the first water stop - a reminder to drink even though I wasn't thirsty.  I also pulled out my first gel (when marathoning I generally go through 9-10 gels - motto "always be slurping.").  I slurped and focused on my own effort - not too hard, not too easy.

Generally in marathons I like to ease into the pace over the first 3-6 miles.  But when it's warm or has the potential to get warm, I prefer to stay conservative for the first 16-20 miles, and then race the last 6-10.  Since this felt like it could be a hot day, I went with the latter plan.

But by mile 5-6, I was already starting to feel like I was going out a bit too hot.  One of the golden rules in marathoning is that you need to hit the half-marathon mark feeling in control and good.  I wasn't on schedule to do that, so I eased off slightly.  I was also getting thirsty, so I drained my water bottle so I could refill it at mile 7.  I decided that refilling it every 4 miles wouldn't be overkill today. ( At Grandma's the water stations are at every odd number mile from 3 to 19, and then every mile from 20-25.).  The good news was that the clouds had decided to move in, and we were no longer in bright sunshine.  There was also a slight cooling breeze.  All good things.

***

I cruised that way for the next miles.  There is a point where the marathon shuffle gait becomes mandatory and not optional, and it seemed like I hit that point very early in this race, before the half-marathon.  But hey, I was still moving, so whatever.  It never seemed like it got super hot, and yet I kept draining my water bottle.  I readjusted my plan to refilling my bottle every two miles.  After mile 19, water stations were every mile, and I decided that sounded great, since that was about the rate I was draining my bottle by then.

(I should mention that I don't stop or walk at water stations - I carry a handheld, and remove the top as I approach the water station and tuck it into my sports bra.  Then I slow my run to a jog, grab a cup of water and pour it into the bottle.  Repeat with a second cup, and then screw the cap back on and resume running.  I lose very little time this way while also getting a lot more fluids in.)

The last 5 miles were just mind over matter - trying to stay positive and stay in the present, rather then letting my mind go bad places.  The nice thing about racing without checking splits or pace on my watch is that it's much easier to stay positive and give my best effort since I'm not getting demoralizing information - it would have been very hard for me to finish my race yesterday if I had known just how slow I was running.  But since I didn't know, I kept on chugging.  Emptying the tank, which was now on its fumes.  

Finally, mercifully, we weaved our way through the waterfront and I counted down the turns of the last mile.  I had really just nothing left in my legs when I finished.  Which was comforting when I checked my watch and saw my time.  Not at all what I had thought I would run.  Very far from it in fact.  But at the same time, it was all I had to give today.

***

Splits were:

Mile 1: 7:32
Mile 2: 7:18
Mile 3: 7:17
Mile 4: 7:23
Mile 5: 7:18
Mile 6: 7:27
Mile 7-8: 14:52 (7:26 pace)
Mile 9: 7:44
Mile 10: 7:00
Mile 11: 7:39
Mile 12: 7:31
Mile 13: 7:58
Mile 14: 7:31
Mile 15: 7:39
Mile 16: 7:40
Mile 17: 7:43
Mile 18: 7:45
Mile 19: 7:24
Mile 20: 7:52
Mile 21: 7:53
Mile 22: 7:45
Mile 23: 7:41
Mile 24: 7:50
Mile 25: 7:45
Mile 26: 7:50
last bit: 1:36

***

Oddly, (or maybe not) I'm not that upset about the time.  For myself, when evaluating my running, I tend to focus first on execution, then on competitive placing, then on time (I think most runners put time at the top of the list).  I've run much faster marathons (I think this is one of my slowest marathons ever) where I was upset post-race because I screwed up somewhere.  This time, I think I honestly ran the best race I had in me today - a good balance of patience, smart choices, and staying positive and tough when things got hard.  I just didn't run very well. 

So...equally oddly, in many ways this race was a confidence boost.  I haven't finished a marathon since late 2019, and that one (Richmond) went poorly for reasons both in my control (bad pacing choices) and out of control (that whole being hit-by-a-truck thing).  And heck, though I was really happy with my time at CIM 2018, I also made some pacing mistakes there (too fast in the middle) that I was annoyed about after.

In contrast, this race reassured me that I still know how to get the best of myself out of 26.2 miles.  I just need to have more to offer than what I had yesterday.

As for why I had such an off day?  The whole nausea and lack of sleep thing could be an excuse.  Except that I've run great races in the past after such.  So I don't think those are good explanations.  

Nor is weather the explanation.  It was definitely warmer than optimal for marathoning (according to Weather Underground - it was 64 degrees/60 degrees dew point when I started in Two Harbors, and just about the same when I finished in Canal Park).  But that's "adjust your expectations by a few minutes" weather; not "congratulations for finishing" weather.

A better explanation might be how I've felt over the past two weeks - consistently warm and flushed, whether I'm indoors or outside.  Water and electrolyte consumption make no difference.  Something's been ever so slightly off, and my heat tolerance while running outside has been ridiculously poor.  (and no, I don't have a fever.)  I just haven't felt quite right.

Maybe it's just in my mind, maybe it's menopause kicking in (though menopause hot flashes are usually 3-5 minutes in duration, not two plus weeks).  Or it could be yet another malabsorption issue popping up to match the trouble I already have with absorbing folate, iron, and magnesium.  Because of the malabsorption issues I've had in the past year, my GI doctor suspects that what was diagnosed as ulcerative colitis may actually be Crohn's disease (while UC is limited to the large intestine, Crohn's affects the small intestine, where nutrients are absorbed).  Lucky me has an appointment in the next few weeks to get all that checked out (for obvious reasons, I scheduled all the scoping for post-marathon).

One way or another, I'll figure it out.  In the meantime, I'm going to take my end of season break.

Other notes:

  • At the expo, there was a booth promoting pork, with a sign for "Pork Power."  In light of the recent Shelby Houlihan doping bust (she attributes her positive test to pork being included in her burrito) I found this hysterical.
  • My rental car ended up being a Buick Encore.  I am not a car person, and I don't generally advertise cars in my blog but wow - I really enjoyed driving that thing.  Of course it could also be that I've only owned three cars in my over three decades of driving, and my current car is a 2012 model.  I'm still awed by rear view cameras, so having little lights flash when I get too close to the car ahead is amazing.
  • I just got an email from MarathonFoto that included the link to my race photos and the statement "you crushed it."  It would be really nice if MarathonFoto first polled runners "how exactly did you feel about your race" and then structured the email with the photo links accordingly.  
  • On the flight home, I saw the coolest thing ever.  We flew just to the side of a massive active anvil thunderhead.  The cloud pulsed continually with active lightning inside - as good as any light show I've ever seen at a concert or club.  It's killing me that I couldn't access my cell phone to get a good video.  I'm really hoping someone else did, and it makes its way onto Youtube.
  • Post race, pretty much everyone I spoke to had the same impression about their race - not as fast as they had hoped to run, but wow it just felt so good to be running a real marathon again. Appreciate what you have.






Friday, June 18, 2021

Training log - Week ending 6/13/2021

This week was 47 miles of running, 12 "miles" of pool-running, and 1500 yards of swimming -- training log is here. 

(whoops - I never hit publish).

Second to last week of taper for Grandma's.  It's been fairly warm and humid here for the last week (of course, recognizing that all weather is relative).  I struggled some on Tuesday's workout (temp/dew point both were 75 degrees) - the workout was supposed to be five 800s and then some 400s; I dropped out of the fifth 800 and made up the difference with 400s and 200s to get something out of the workout.

Friday's tempo was memorable as well.  It started as a warm and humid tempo, with a light refreshing rain.  Sometime in the second mile, the rain turned heavy, and it was a deluge by the third mile.  Comical.  There was a part of me that wanted to bail on the workout, but....I was already soaked, so quitting wouldn't have made any difference.

Fortunately, as of now the forecast for Duluth is looking much better than the weather down here.  Let's hope it stays that way.

Monday: Upper body weights/core, DIY yoga, and 6 "miles" of pool-running. Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday: 9 miles, including a track workout of 4x800, 2x400, 2x200 in 3:04, 3:03, 3:01, 3:03, 90, 86, 41, and 41.  Recoveries of 2:35-2:43 between the 800s; full recovery for all else.   Also leg strength work and 500 yards recovery swimming. Foam rolling at night. 

Wednesday: 8 miles very easy (9:20), upper body weights/core and 2 miles very easy (9:05). Foam rolling at night. 

Thursday: 6 "miles" of pool-running and DIY yoga; foam rolling at night.

Friday: 10 miles, including a 3 mile tempo in 19:51 (6:36/6:36/6:39).  Followed with light injury prevention work and 500 yards recovery swimming.

Saturday: 8 miles very easy (9:21) plus drills and 6 hill strides, followed by light upper body weights/core and foam rolling.

Sunday: 10 miles aerobic, split as the first 3 miles averaging 8:40 pace and the next 7 averaging 7:44 pace. Followed with light injury prevention work, 500 yards recovery swimming, and foam rolling.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Training log - Week ending 6/6/2021

This week was 63 miles of running, 1000 yards of swimming and 12 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

This was either my first or second week of taper, depending on how you look at it (and whether you consider the 10 mile and marathon tapers to be separate or merged).  I took the first few days easy, and then started ramping things back up. 

It has gotten fairly warm and humid around here - daytime temperatures peaking in the 90s (with my weekend runs finishing in the 80s).  No complaint here - since I'm tapering I'll happily accept the opportunity to get some heat acclimation in.  That being said, Sunday's long run totally sucked.  It was really just a matter of trying not to do much damage.

Separately, I checked my iron and folate levels again, and they've improved.  My folate (which hadn't dropped out of the reference range this time) is rising again, and my transferrin saturation increased to 26% from 15% - meaning that it's now in the normal range.  And all of this correlates with me feeling a bit better, so yay.

Monday: 6 "miles" of pool-running and streaming yoga. Foam rolling at night. 

Tuesday: 5 miles very easy (9:15), upper body weights/core, and 3.5 miles very easy (9:09) followed by drills.   Foam rolling in evening.

Wednesday: 11.5 miles very easy (9:03), drills and two hill strides, and streaming yoga.  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday: 4 miles very easy on treadmill (9:47), 6 "miles" of pool-running and upper body weights/core. Foam rolling at night. 

Friday: 12 miles including a track workout of 3200, 1600 in 13:08 (6:36/6:32) and 6:24; 5:22 jog in between. Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming. Foam rolling at night. 

Saturday: 10.5 miles very easy (9:12), plus drills and 6 steep hill sprints, and then streaming yoga. Foam rolling in the evening. 

Sunday: 16.5 miles progressive, split as the first 5 miles averaging 8:49, the next 6.5 miles averaging 8:02, and the next 5 miles averaging 7:46.  Later did leg strength work and 500 yards recovery swimming. Foam rolling in afternoon.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Training log - Week ending 5/30/2021

This week was 39 miles of running, 500 yards of swimming and 12 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

No much to report, other than what was in the race report.  Looking back on my week, I think I may have over-tapered slightly for Sunday's race.  Wednesday was quite muggy and humid, so I pulled back on the paces and the number of reps.  But I think I might have felt a little sharper if I had added in a 1 mile pick-up on Friday.  Or maybe not - who knows.

Monday: 6 "miles" of pool-running and streaming yoga. Foam rolling at night. 

Tuesday: 9 miles very easy (9:01) plus drills and two hill strides, and then upper body weights/core.

Wednesday: 10 miles including a track workout of 3x800, 4x200 in 3:04, 3:04, 3:03, 42, 43, 43, 42;  2:30 and 2:27 recovery between the 800s; full recovery for the 200s.  Followed with 500 yards recovery swimming. Foam rolling in evening.

Thursday: 6 "miles" of pool-running and DIY yoga. Foam rolling at night. 

Friday: 6 miles very easy (9:02) plus drills and four strides, followed by light upper body weights/core.  Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Saturday: Off.  Just travel and some DIY yoga. 

Sunday: 3.5 mile warm-up, 10 mile race in 66:57, 0.5 mile cooldown.

Monday, May 31, 2021

Race Report: Miles on the Mohawk 10 Miler; May 30, 2021

I ran the "Miles on the Mohawk" 10 Miler yesterday in Schenectady, New York, finishing in a time of 1:06:57, which was good enough for top master female and 11th woman overall.

The trip up to Albany/Schenectady started off with a minor headache when I realized on Thursday that I hadn't received the normal "we look forward to welcoming you" email from the Courtyard Marriott, where I had booked a room.  A search of my email could not find any confirmation message, and a call to the hotel confirmed that a) I had no reservation and b) the Courtyard was sold out.  Ooops.

Fortunately the other hotel at the finish line - the Landing Inn - was still available.   Unfortunately it was both more expensive and had a non-negotiable 11 am checkout.  But at least it was right by the finish line - my room overlooked the finish.  With my race starting at 9 am, time would be a bit tight after the finish, but doable.  So I booked a room, with relief.

For the next few days I was repeatedly taunted by internet ads reminding me that I had not yet booked my room at the Courtyard Marriot - Schenectady.   Our internet overlords can be cruel indeed.

I flew from Baltimore to Albany on Saturday - my first flight since the pandemic.  I flew Southwest, like I usually do.  I'm a fan of Southwest's irreverent approach to pre-flight briefings, communications from the pilot, etc - any flight you can start with a grin is a good flight (assuming you don't crash - that's my biggest requirement for a good flight).   

But sadly that was absent on both my flights this weekend - replaced by entreaties to be kind to each other and to please wear our masks at all times and we would be wearing our seatbelts the whole flight and there would be no inflight service.  After my first flight I learned of the Southwest Flight Attendant who had her teeth knocked out by a passenger, and the other recent issues with abusive passengers.  I guess that explains it.  

***

Race morning dawned as forecast - cool and overcast.  At 7:05 I left my hotel so that I could be on the first bus to the start, leaving at 7:15 (which turned out to be 7:25).  It was both very odd and very normal to be on a bus to a race start surrounded by fellow runners (this time masked) chatting about the current course and past races.  

Once again, I was on a bus with a confused driver, who made two wrong turns (but did execute an impressive three point turnaround in a tight residential neighborhood).  It reminded me that one of the secrets for a successful race morning is to ensure that at least one person on your bus is local and knows where the start is.  (How you actually accomplish that is beyond me - consider this an aspirational goal).

Once there, I used the portajohns and then headed out to warm up.  The best (and really only option) to warm-up was on the half-mile of the course on the road.  Unfortunately, the road would not be closed to traffic until the start of the race, which meant that I and others were sharing the road with various trucks and cars.  

To be honest, I found it nervewracking, and had to pause my warm-up a few times to step off of the road until a car/truck had passed by.  Granted, most of this is my own emotional baggage and I'm guessing the other runners didn't find this situation as stressful.  At the same time, I think this race would benefit from closing off this section of the road (or at least coning half of it off) about an hour before the race, so that there would be some place for runners to warm-up without dodging trucks and cars adhering to a 35 MPH speed limit.

Unfortunately, during the warm-up it also started to drizzle - the forecast had been for the rain to hold off until around 11 or so, but oh well.  Fortunately it was very light - just enough to wet the roads and make me wish I had worn a hat.  (had I worn a hat, I'm sure it wouldn't have rained).

My Running Ahead forums friend Jon was also running this race, and he and I managed to meet up before the start, which was great.    We chatted as we waited for the start of the race, which would be done with the now-almost-normal staggered start.  There were several lines of 8 dots before the start line - when you were ready to start, you'd step onto one of the 8 dots furthest from the start to join that line.  Then, as each row of 8 runners started the race, the runners behind would advance one row closer to the start.  There was a 10 second interval between starts, with a 5 second countdown before each (which must have been tiring for the announcer, but was nice for us).  So...."5, 4, 3, 2, 1, go"  then the rows behind would advance and the cycle would repeat.  About 9:01 am Jon and I started.  We wore masks until we crossed the line, and pulled them as we began the race.

***

The race started in the parking lot of historic Mabee Farm, before exiting onto State Road 5S.  We'd run north on that road for about 2/3 of a mile before making a left onto a side road and then a left again onto the multiuse paved trail that would be most of the course.  The parking lot of Mabee farm was slick with the rain, making for a slippery start, but fortunately that was only about 10 seconds of running, and then we were on the road with much better traction. 

From a social distancing perspective, this set-up worked great - even though they were only starting 8 people at a time, people were still close enough at the start that the trail would have been a bit crowded.  However, 2/3s of a mile was enough distance for people to sort themselves out into smaller packs that worked well when we entered the trail.  

We hit our first bit of rough pavement when we made the left turn on to the side road and then the side road was broken up in spots - I struggled some navigating both of these areas, but was able to pick up speed again once on the trail.  From there, it was mostly smooth sailing.  There were a few rough patches where I'd have to slow up, but most of the trail was conducive to a nice steady hard rhythm.  

Example of a rough patch. I struggled a bit here. 
I'm guessing most people were fine.

There was also a short section where the marathoners and the 10 mile course intersected with the marathoners running in the opposite direction and crossing paths with us.  However, the marathoners were very few and spread out, and this ended up being less of an issue than having an oncoming runner approach during a normal tempo on a bike path.

For the first 6 miles I had groups to chase down, but then there was nothing but open trail ahead of me (and one other runner behind me).  By this time we were facing a mild headwind, and so I encouraged him to share the work with me.  I had to do it a few times, but finally he caught on and pulled up ahead so I could tuck in for a mile before he slowed and I took the lead again.

Mile 8 had the one notable climb of the race, which was notable because it was the only one - not because it was especially imposing, steep, long, or anything like that.  Also notable because it was about this time that the on-and-off light rain turned more steady.  At least I was almost done.

Soon after that, we were directed off of the trail and onto a set of sidewalks and streets, where I once again struggled with my balance - I let my impromptu running/racing partner pull ahead as I slowed to navigate this section, before catching up to him once we were on the paved trail again and then passing him on the final stretch past my hotel and to the finish.

***

After crossing the finish, I stopped my watch and checked the time - 66:57, which was about 30-60 seconds slower than I had expected to run.  Oh well - it had felt like a good effort and a well executed race, and both those were good things.  If you can just consistently execute a good race every time, you'll run fast when everything else falls into place (fitness, etc).  And I really wanted a good all-out run at 10-13 miles to give me a fitness boost, and I got that.

My splits ended up being:

  • Mile 1: 6:52
  • Mile 2: 6:52
  • Mile 3: 6:40
  • Mile 4: 6:37
  • Mile 5: 6:38
  • Mile 6: 6:32
  • Mile 7: 6:36
  • Mile 8: 6:40
  • Miles 9-10: 13:28 (6:45)
Miles 1-2 and Miles 9-10 were my slowest, and also where I felt there was the most issue with uneven footing, turns, etc. So I guess that makes sense.  

If you're noting a tone of frustration, you would be correct.  My right ankle has improved dramatically since I got my PRP injections in it last fall, and my standing balance is immensely improved.  But I'm still struggling with things like tight turns onto bike trails or navigating uneven pavement or curbs when I run.  

I honestly haven't focused on this that much, since the ankle wasn't limiting me when I was doing fast running on well maintained pavement, and the fast running is what I most care about.  But this race really showed me that I'm not done rehabbing that ankle - I need to get it to the point where I can run confidently at speed on uneven pavement, rather than slowing down and picking my way through like grandma while others pull ahead.

Fortunately, my next race, Grandma's Marathon, should have consistently stable footing.  But I need to get this fixed.

(obligatory note - I haven't been ignoring the ankle altogether - I do 15+ minutes of ankle exercises daily - single legged balance on the floor and on a wobble board, plus sets of calf raises.  But I've gotten complacent in my ability to do these exercises well.  Clearly I need to revise this routine to get to the next level - I've got good stationary balance, but lousy dynamic balance.)

Other notes:
  • The weather for this race ended up being 50 degrees, light to steady rain, and wind of 7 mph from the east (so a light headwind that we were mostly shielded from).
  • I got to see Jon again at the finish and do a short and very soggy cooldown. It was great to finally meet him after so many years.
  • I wore my Vaporflies for this race, with my ankles taped instead of using my braces.  This was because I've been planning to race in this combination.  I discovered during my first 20 miler that the ankle braces I normally wear for hard runs become too tight and painful during longer runs, due to foot swelling.  Hence my swap back to tape, since I can't really race the marathon in ankle braces.  But I don't think my current taping job is supporting the ankle enough - I need to do some work on that the next few weeks, and get some professional advice.
  • I ended winning my age group.  Awards were given out based on chip time, but due to the staggered start, you couldn't grab your award until 30 minutes after your finish time (to ensure nobody starting behind you ran faster).  So I went back to my hotel, checked out, and then back to the finish line to pick up a nice water bottle that perfectly fit into my back pack.
  • This was a really well managed race, and I recommend this race org (AREEP) to everyone.  I wouldn't hesitate to fly up again for another one of their races.
  • I did successfully make my 11 am checkout post-race (and even managed to get a good shower in).
  • Flying to and from Albany reminded me of how much I enjoy the actual flying aspect of airplane travel.  The acceleration of the takeoff, the sensations as the plane banks, the views of the clouds or ground, and the satisfaction of a solid touchdown.  I just loathe every other aspect of airplane travel (security, boarding, deplaning, reclining seats, navigating airport bathrooms).