Sunday, September 26, 2021

Training log - Week ending 9/26/2021

This week was 68 miles of running, 1500 yards of swimming and 18 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

Another week in the books.  I was decently satisfied with Tuesday and Friday's workouts; a bit less with Sundays - 21 miles was a shock to the system - my legs just got tired by the time the marathon effort part started.  I guess that happens when you haven't run further than 17 since June.  

I've traditionally gone with just two 20 milers in a marathon cycle, but they've always both gone well.  This one didn't.  And now I'm wondering if I should have gone with three for this training cycle.  

I guess we'll see how next week goes.  And how the second 20 goes.  It might just be that a) I'm adjusting to a heavy mileage week and b) I did a bit too much leg strengthwork on Friday (my legs were still a bit heavy on Sunday)

Monday: 7.5 "miles" of pool-running and upper body weights/core.   Foam rolling at night. 

Tuesday: 12 miles, including a track workout of 2x800, 1600, 2x800, 2x200 in 3:11, 3:05, 6:23, 3:02, 2:58, 43, and 43.  Recoveries of 2:39-2:49 after the 800s; 5:08 recovery after the 1600; full recovery for the 400s.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.   Foam rolling in evening.

Wednesday: 9 miles very easy (9:43), drill and four hill strides.  Followed with streaming yoga and then 3 miles very easy on the treadmill (9:17).   Foam rolling at night.

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

Friday: 12.5 miles on the track, including a 6400m tempo in 26:40 (6:49/6:44/6:40/6:27).  Full recovery and then 2x200m in 42 and 41 seconds.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night. 

Saturday: 10 miles very easy (9:01), followed by drills and four strides, and then streaming yoga.  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday: 21 miles progressive, split as first 7 miles averaging 9:10 pace, next 7 averaging 7:50 pace, next 7 averaging 7:06 pace.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.

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!


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.