Monday, May 30, 2022

Training log - Week ending 5/29/2022

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

Another jumbled up week - I did a long intervals workout on Monday in anticipation of another attempt at an IUD insertion on Tuesday.  Fortunately, this time they were able to get it in.  I felt an odd sense of accomplishment even though I literally did nothing but sit there.

Predictably the misoprostol (cervical dilation medication for the IUD insertion) made me feel lousy on Tuesday.  But, I have to admit, I haven't felt great the last few weeks, independent of the IUD insertion stuff.  This of course could be heat and humidity, or also the birth control pill changes.  But since I have had past issues with low folate, Vitamin D, and/or iron, I decided to buy a blood test and check those again.

As it turned out, all of those were fine.  But what was NOT fine was my cholesterol.  My LDL (bad cholesterol) has jumped in the past 6 months from its normal 80-100 (which is acceptable) to 160 (which is bad).  

From a strictly cardiovascular perspective, this isn't that concerning, since my blood pressure is low and my HDL (good cholesterol) is excellent.  But it does indicate that something is going on, and one of the most obvious causes is menopause - the drop in estrogen results in a big jump in LDL.

[obvious question - wouldn't I know that I was in menopause?  The answer is no - until recently I was on continuous birth control so I didn't have a period.  And that same birth control pill meant that we couldn't do any bloodwork to look for indicators of menopause, since the birth control pill would alter the values.]

As it turns out, I was able to get in to see an ob-gyn who is a menopause specialist this Friday.  We discussed, and she pulled some blood to see if there were indications of menopause while also starting me on supplemental estrogen, taken in the form of a gel that I apply once a day.   

There are some obvious questions and answers here:

1) why did I have to go off of the estrogen/progestin pill due to the dangers of estrogen at my age, only to start using estrogen gel? 

- Apparently the stroke risk of estrogen is associated with taking it orally; when you take it transdermally, it's absorbed in a different way that reduces the stroke risk.

2) won't you feel silly for going to all that effort to get an IUD if it turns out that you are menopausal?

- Actually the IUD is very useful.  One of the risks of estrogen supplementation is uterine cancer, which is addressed by also prescribing progestin to protect the uterus.  The preferred form of delivering the progestin to the uterus is an IUD - in fact the same one I just got (Liletta).  So that worked out great.

3) isn't this hormone therapy violating the doping rules?

-not if I'm only replacing estrogen and progesterone - both of those are totally fine, with no TUE required.  It's when you start adding in testosterone or HGH, or taking DHEA, that you get into trouble.  Interestingly (and sadly) when I mentioned to the doctor that I suspected many of my competitive peers were taking testosterone and/or DHEA, she agreed with me. So that sucks.  But it is what it is - I'm going to play by the rules.

4) wasn't there a study indicating that estrogen supplementation was very dangerous in menopausal women?

- yes, but that study was done on women who were sedentary and taking estrogen for the first time in their 60s.  More recent research has shown that if you start estrogen replacement at or just before menopause, and you also take progestin, and you do not have a history of breast cancer, then it's fairly safe.  Nothing's perfectly safe, of course, but I eat red meat and run by myself in the morning - this really falls into the same level of risk.

I started the estrogen supplementation on Saturday, so I'm only a few days in.  I noted as of Monday morning that I felt fresher and less stiff, but of course that could just be the placebo effect.  We'll see how this week plays out.  I ended up skipping my planned marathon pace workout this weekend because I was feeling off and wanted to give the estrogen some time to start working.  Hopefully I'll be able to do it this coming weekend.


Monday:  10.5 miles, including a track workout of 3x2400m in 11:04, 10:58, 10:47, each with about 2:50 jogged recovery.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming. Foam rolling at night.  

Tuesday: 6 "miles" of pool-running.  Foam rolling in evening.
Wednesday:  7.5 miles (9:56), upper body weights/core, 3.5 miles (9:37), and drills/strides.  Foam rolling in evening.

Thursday: 10 miles, including a relaxed track workout of 2x1600, 8x200 in 7:25, 7:06, and then the 200s ranging between 49 and 51.  Full recovery for everything.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in evening

Friday: 4 miles (9:54) and 8 "miles" pool-running.  Foam rolling at night

Saturday: 10.5 miles, including 8 Iwo Jima Hills (a bit over 2 minutes powerful uphill, 90 second jog, 45 seconds downhill stride, 60 second jog to bottom).  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday: 12 miles easy (9:55) and 4 "miles" pool-running.  Gentle yoga and foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Training log - Week ending 05/22/2022

This week was 40 miles of running, 1000 yards of swimming and 24 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

This was a somewhat chaotic week. I was supposed to get an IUD on Tuesday, and so I took some medication (misoprostol) on Monday night to "soften up" my cervix. I woke up on Tuesday morning and felt very dull. I started my warm-up and decided the workout was not in the cards, so I pushed it back to Wednesday and went back home. 

Of course, then the IUD didn't happen because apparently my uterus is very small (5 cm in length and also retroflexed), so I need to try again this coming week with a smaller IUD and a sonographer.   This coming Tuesday will be my THIRD try at getting this thing in.  At age 48, I am questioning if it's really worth this much effort - I think if the third try doesn't work, I'll just move on and discuss other options.  

Pushing the Tuesday workout to Wednesday meant that had to rework the rest of the week. I ended up doing a long run on Saturday, which was the first hot day of the year. I had planned to do 3x2 miles at half-marathon effort, but revamped that to sets of 4 minutes on/3 minutes off - do as many as you feel like at between marathon and half-marathon effort. As it turned out - 6 was the right number - each repeat would start at the right effort and then my heart rate would skyrocket.. Then I just jogged a few miles to get to 14 and called it my long run for the week.

The good news is that I handled this Saturday's weather (80 degrees with a dew point of 70) MUCH better than I handled last Sunday's weather (65 degrees with a dew point of 64).  I also stopped taking the Slynd (birth control pill that is very dehydrating) this week.  I am very sure these two points are connected.


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

Tuesday: 2 miles (9:52).  Foam rolling in evening.
Wednesday:  10 miles, including a track workout of 5x800, 2x400, 2x200 in 3:29, 3:23, 3:23, 3:22, 3:21, 98, 1:42, 49, 49.  Recovery of 2:3x-2:4x between the 800s, full recovery for 400s and 200s.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Massage in evening.

Thursday: 9 "miles" pool-running, drills, and upper body weights/core.  Foam rolling in evening

Friday: 3.5 miles (9:41), timed the team workout, and then 5.5 miles (9:39) plus drills, hill sprints, and streaming yoga.  Foam rolling at night

Saturday: 14 miles, including a fartlek of 6x4 minutes at marathon to half-marathon pace/effort with 3 minutes off.  Paces for the "ons" were 7:51, 7:42, 7:33, 7:17, 7:17, and 7:09.   Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday: 5 miles easy (9:51) and 6 "miles" pool-running.  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Training log - Week ending 05/15/2022

This week was 56 miles of running, 1000 yards of swimming and 18 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

So after being on it for about 10 days, I decided I didn't like the Slynd (progestin only birth control pill).  My breathing's just a bit harder than I would like, and I feel fatigued.  So I'm going to try an IUD, which will be a localized dose of progestin (taking the pill means that the progestin affects your whole system).

This week had some ups and downs.  Tuesday's workout looks nice as written, but it was a real struggle, with my legs locking up on me any time I tried to accelerate hard or heard a noise behind me.  The good news, of course, is that what is now considered a bad day would have been a very good day two months ago.

Friday I headed over to Yorktown/Greenbrier track to run a tempo, forgetting that Greenbrier track doesn't drain well (or basically at all).  It was lightly raining, and the track was slick and covered in puddles (and silt in one corner).  But I was there so I just did the best I could.  As it turned out, I relaxed into a tempo rhythm and pace that was just right for an 8K tempo, so I stretched out my planned 16 laps to 20.

To balance out the spontaneous long tempo on Friday, I did Iwo Jima hills on Sunday, rather than a progressive long run.  I wanted to do hills again to work on my gait, given my issues on Tuesday, and a progressive long run just seemed like too much of the same thing (continuous lower end aerobic workout) and too close to the 8K tempo.  The hills went OK - the uphill felt great, while the downhill stride was challenging.  I'm glad I did them.

I did really struggle with the humidity on the cooldown, despite slurping a salty gel and drinking a lot of water - to the point where I had to skip my recovery swim due to cramping.  I'll be glad when I'm off of the Slynd (supposedly Slynd is associated with substantial dehydration and loss of sodium - and I definitely feel like I am experiencing both).


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

Tuesday: 11.5 miles, including a track workout of 2x1600, 2x800, 4x200 in 6:45, 6:38, 3:15, 3:14, 48, 46, 46, 48.  4:3x-4:5x recovery after the 1600s; 3:00 recovery between the 800s; full recovery for the 200s. Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.   Foam rolling in evening.
Wednesday: 7.5 miles very easy (9:49), plus drills and strides, and then upper body weights/core, followed by 3.5 miles very easy (9:31).  Foam rolling in evening.

Thursday: 9 "miles" pool-running, drills, and streaming yoga.  Foam rolling in evening

Friday: 11 miles, including an 8K track tempo in 36:11 (7:25/718/7:16/7:11/7:01).   Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night

Saturday: 10 miles easy (10:08), drills, and upper body weights/core.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday: 12.5 miles, including 8 Iwo Jima hill repeats (a bit over 2 minutes powerful uphill, 90 second jog, 45 seconds downhill stride, 60 second jog to bottom).  Followed with leg injury prevention work.  Foam rolling at night.

Monday, May 9, 2022

Training log - Week ending 05/08/2022

This week was 51 miles of running, 500 yards of swimming and 21 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

My big change this week was swapping my birth control pill.  For a LONG time (longer than I've been a runner) I've been on a combination pill called either Lybrel (brand) or Amethyst (generic).  It's supposedly an awful birth control choice for runners - causing weight gain and fatigue.  Despite that, I always felt like I ran well on it, and was at a good healthy and athletic weight.  So I stayed with it.  If it ain't broke....

But....the Lybrel/Amethyst is a combination of estrogen/progestin, and apparently now that I'm in my late 40s I'm too old to be taking it (this is because my risk of stroke increases as I get older).  Last fall I was told that I needed to stop taking it as soon as I was willing to do so, and in any event within the next year or two.  

So I took the leap this week and swapped to a progestin only "mini-pill" called Slynd, which might be better for running.   The "might" is because mini-pills are supposedly better for running, but the progestin in Slynd is Drosperinone, which is supposedly not a good progestin for running.  So we shall see.

So far, I'm sleeping better (win), have less muscle aches (win), have lost several pounds in water weight (neutral), and feel like my breathing is a bit more labored (lose).  I'll give it another few weeks to see how things settle.  If I don't feel like this one is working for me, the other options are an IUD or going au naturale.


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

Tuesday: 4 miles very easy (10:13), upper body weights/core, and 3 "miles" pool-running.   Foam rolling in evening.
Wednesday: Streaming yoga and 10 miles (9:56) plus drills.   Foam rolling in evening.

Thursday: 9 "miles" pool-running and upper body weights/core.  Foam rolling in evening

Friday: 10 miles, including a track workout of 3200, 1600 in 14:10 (7:09/7:01) and 6:47 with 5:30 jog in between.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night

Saturday: 8 miles easy (10:13), streaming yoga, and 3 miles easy (9:42) plus drills and strides.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday: 14.5 miles progressive, split as the first 5 averaging 9:46, the next 5 averaging 8:23, and the next 4.5 averaging 7:30, plus a mile cooldown.  Followed with leg strengthwork (forgot my bathing suit, so no recovery swimming).  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Training log - Week ending 5/01/2022

This week was 40 miles of running, 500 yards of swimming and 18 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

Tapered for and ran Broad Street.  It was one of my slowest 10 mile runs ever, but still an improvement over my previous races.  The trend remains in the right direction.

My paces have been improving for workouts as well.  At the same time, my workout paces are not in sync with my race performances - the workouts predict faster than I am actually racing.  This could be in part explained by the fact that I face obstacles in racing (crowds, downhills, mats) that I don't in training.  But I suspect that I'm also running my workouts a bit too hard, out of frustration with where I am currently.

That's not how you get better.  It's time to pull back on the workouts slightly, to make sure they are matching my true current fitness.


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

Tuesday: 11 miles, including a track workout of 2x1200, 2x800, 400, 4x200 in 5:04, 4:57, 3:13, 3:09, 91, 44, 44, 4,5 and 45, with 2:2x-3:0x recovery between the 1200s and 800s.  Full recovery for the 400 and 200s.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.   Foam rolling in evening.
Wednesday: 8 miles (9:45) plus drills and strides.   Foam rolling in evening.

Thursday: 9 "miles" pool-running and upper body weights/core.  Foam rolling in evening

Friday: 7 miles, including a 1600 in 6:53 and 8x100 with full recovery (just working on form and gait) all in 22-23 seconds.  Foam rolling at night

Saturday: Just travel and a bit of DIY yoga and foam rolling.

Sunday: 3 mile warm-up, and then a 10 mile race in 1:11:40.  1 mile easy after.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Race report: Broad Street 10 Miler, May 1, 2022

 I ran the Broad Street 10 Miler today, finishing in a time of 1:11:40. 

My pre-race adventures were a bit messier than my normal preference.  The weekend started off with a Friday night wedding for one of my partner's best friends.  Definitely not the best way to spend the evening 48 hours before a race, but it was what it was, so I just went with it and tried to enjoy the wedding and not worry too much about the lost sleep.

Saturday I took a cab to Union Station to catch my 10:20 train up to Philly.  I chose the cab, rather than Metro, because Metro has been very unreliable on weekends.  However, what I hadn't planned on was a race closing down downtown DC, adding an unplanned 15 minutes onto a 12 minute trip.  Fortunately I had left early, so I still had enough time to make my train.

[I realized pretty quickly that the road closures were for the Purple Stride 5K - 5 years ago I set my 5K PR at that race.  So I really couldn't get too annoyed with the road closures. The road race giveth and the road race taketh.]

Of course, my train was then delayed, with multiple changes and uncertainty on the departure board - apparently a car was blocking the train tracks south of DC, delaying my train from rolling in.  Eventually the train did arrive and then depart.  The delay was actually good for me, as I was hungray and the delay allowed me to buy Chipotle in DC and eat it on the train (my seatmate might not have seen it in the same light).

Once I was on the train, things were relatively smooth.  I got to Philly, snagged my bib, and then settled into my hotel to watch the cross-country phase of the Land Rover 3 Day event.


Sunday morning I awoke to much better weather than the last time I ran Broad Street.  High 40s and not much wind - really ideal.  I ate breakfast, pooped, and stretched, and then left my Center City hotel at 5:55 to grab a train to the start.

[Broad Street pro tip - the trains running from south to the start line in the north fill up quite early, so if you have a choice of two train stations, go with the one further south.]

My bad transportation luck continued, as I waited a full 20 minutes for a train to roll in.  Finally one did, and I was on my way to the start, arriving there around 6:45.

This was just enough time to use a restroom, check my bag, and warm-up.  At Broad Street they want you in the corrals early, so I jumped in mine at 7:40 and hung out.  I had a seeded bib which meant I could start at the front, but I knew I wouldn't be running fast enough to belong there, so I re-assigned myself to the purple corral for those targeting 60-70 minutes - I thought 70 minutes might be a reasonable time for me, so I placed myself in the very last row of the corral.

As we waited to start, I noted that it was warmer than I had expected.  I was wearing a tank top, shorts, gloves, and arm-warmers, but I really didn't need the last two.  It was too late to go back to bag check, so I stuffed the gloves into my bra (the race photos are going to be excellent) and slid the arm-warmers down around my wrists.  I also belatedly wished I was carrying a water bottle, but too late for that too.  I'd have to use the water stops like everyone else.

The 8:00 am race start was delayed (it always is) until 8:05, and then there were a few minutes more delay before the purple corral was released.  But finally we were on our way.


As I've noted before, I'm currently working my way through some weird neurologic coordination-balance thing, where I'm prone to lose my balance or have one leg or the other go spastic on me while running.  Basically, my muscles stop listening to my mind and start firing out of order.  

These coordination issues have multiple triggers, including downhill running, faster running, running in groups, being passed from behind, and uneven pavement.  I've also figured out that immersion therapy - i.e. putting myself in situations that trigger the coordination issues and then working my way through them - seems to be at least part of the cure (pointing to a psychological aspect).

And that's really why I ran Broad Street - I knew that I was going to hit pretty much every single trigger for my issues while running this extremely large downhill race.  If I could handle this race, then I could pretty much handle any race.  And that's a big step forward.

I hit the first trigger right out of the gate, with the downhill start the race is known for.  I managed to hold it together, in part because it turned out that I had many runners going 9:00 pace or slower in front of me. (why were they in this corral?)  I had to weave, and I'm not good at weaving right now.  But I managed it.  And that's what I came here for.

About a half-mile in, I saw the equivalent of manna from heaven - a woman handing out water bottles.  I managed to grab a bottle from her while running (I was pretty proud of myself for that), and carried that until mile 6 or so.

Broad Street is a pretty consistent race - some very gentle inclines sprinkled into the net decline, and a few turns.  So there's not really that much of interest to note during the race - I just tried to hold a steady effort and let the miles pass.

There were a few patches in Center City where we had to cross brick sidewalks that were slightly uneven - these would not have been an issue for me in years past (or likely for anyone else this year) but I did have to work my way through them.  Ditto for things like the chaos of water stops, or people reaching out to get me to slap their hand, or crossing timing mats.  These were, as crazy as it sounds, challenges for me that required me to really think about keeping my balance.  But again, that's me.  And that's why I ran this race.  Mentally, this was one of the harder races I've run - staying on my feet and holding things together requires a level of focus that I haven't needed in the past.  And 10 miles is a long way to go while working that hard, mentally.


Like always, I didn't look at my watch and just tried to ride a hard steady effort.  By mile 8, things were starting to get tough and my gait was breaking down.  I was wobbly and had to really focus on keeping my gait smooth and relaxed.  In a nice touch, my feet were also hurting*.  But I knew I didn't have that much further to go, and also that the point of this race (for me) was to work through that stuff.  If you give up when stuff gets hard, you're not completing the exercise.

[*My feet were hurting because I was wearing my Takumi Sens, which always seem to be either too tight or too loose. In this case, they were too tight, and as my feet started to swell towards the end of the race, what had previously been slightly noticeable became exquisitely noticeable.]

So I held it together as we made a left and then two rights to loop around a baseball (I think) stadium before the final homestretch to the finish.  I knew that the finish line was 800m after the last turn (having measured it on Google Maps), but it really did seem like longer than that.  Part of the issue might have been that for whatever reason, there was no finish arch this year, and so nothing to sight on.

This was compounded by the fact that there was a mat about 100m from what turned out to be the true finish, and this mat had a clock with it.  The end result was that there were two timing mats, 100m apart, each with a clock on them, and neither with an arch.  The fact that everyone ahead of you was still running was the only clue that the first mat wasn't actually the finish.  A definite area for improvement next year.


I crossed the finish line (awkwardly, as has been my norm recently) and stopped my watch.  1:11:38 (officially 1:11:40) - a bit slower than I had hoped, but still a much superior performance to the 5Ks I've recently run.  So there's some improvement there (though it also could be that I'm better at 10 milers than 5Ks).

As soon as I could, I pulled over in the finish chute, sat down, and loosened my shoes.  Ahhh....much better.


As it turned out, I was concentrating so hard on staying on my feet that I missed a lot of mile markers.  My splits, as recorded on my Garmin, were:

Mile 1: 7:30
Mile 2: 7:10
Miles 3-4: 14:16 (7:08 pace)
Miles 5-8: 28:44 (7:11 pace)
Mile 9: 6:59
Mile 10: 7:00

So, the two miles where I felt like I was totally falling apart ended up being my two fastest.  That's good to know, and a confidence booster - I still can close, even when hurting.

At the end of it all, this is not a personal worst for the 10 mile distance (I ran my first Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in 1:14 and change) but it's not far from it.  It's also nearly a minute per mile slower than the last time I ran this race.  

Despite all that, I'm not upset with this race.  Sure, I would have liked to have run a bit faster and dipped under 70, but at the same time, I feel like I've come a long way in the last few weeks.  Furthermore, I now have the confidence to enter a race of nearly any size and know that I will be able to manage it - that's a far cry from about 9 weeks ago, when the start line of a 200 person 5K was a struggle.  There's a lot to be happy about here.

Other notes:

  • I wore my Takumi Sen 8s for this race.  As noted above, the upper does not fit my foot well, which is a shame, because I otherwise really like the shoe.  I was considering wearing them for my June half-marathon, but I think that's a no go.  Hopefully I'll be up to wearing Vaporflies by then.
  • The race ended up a bit warmer than expected - mid-50s.  Still great running weather and no complaints, but I do wish I'd checked my gloves and arm-warmers.  At times, we had a headwind, which was annoying, but also nicely cooling.
  • I wore a heart rate strap (as always) but it slipped down around my waist at the half-way point, resulting in this amusing heart rate chart.  It's too bad - I was in the high 170s at the middle of the race, and I'd like to know what I ended at.

  • My breathing was not great for this race, though I think ultimately my limiter was still my wobbliness and general fitness.  I checked post race, and the pollen was high and the air quality "moderate" so perhaps that was the cause.  Or maybe I'm just whining.

    Now you tell me.

  • I did brunch with friends after the race and they had gluten-free tater tots and that was pure win.