Archive for September, 2014

September 24, 2014

A Very Long Run and My Paleo Power Smoothie

Sunday I had another 20-miler on the schedule and decided to reverse my usual route to avoid getting caught in the climate change march.  Perhaps to underscore the theme of the demonstration, the weather had turned unseasonably muggy and I was eager to get an early start.  

My run started with a loop of Central Park, then south along the Hudson River Greenway, over the Brooklyn Bridge, and up to Prospect Park. The uphill climb from the bridge was a bit of a slog, but when I got to Prospect I felt like a new person. I was at 17 miles at that point, and I decided to run the full loop and finished on the uphill, just for added fun. I was about 2 miles from home when I finished, but my legs still felt pretty good and I decided to keep running the rest of the way. I have to say that cutting the ‘unknown’ mileage on race day from 6 miles to 4 seems huge psychologically. We’re T minus four weeks to Baltimore, and I think I’m actually more excited than scared.

Now for the smoothie that fueled all those miles… My go-to recipe has evolved and over the years I’ve tweaked it to really optimize for long run fueling. The basis is black cherries, which have amazing anti-inflammatory properties.  The anthocyanins they contain protect connective tissue and may actually be more effective than aspirin as a pain reliever.  A few years ago I started using peach instead of banana for a little sweetness, as it’s lower in sugar and also high in potassium.  I recently replaced whey protein with gelatin, which has been getting lots of play in paleo circles recently.   In addition to providing about 6g protein per tablespoon, gelatin also protects joints and aids digestion.  The ginger root has been my latest tweak, both for its anti-inflammatory properties as well as its stomach-settling abilities.  For the liquid component I usually go with almond milk, but depending on your run pace and ability to digest fat on a run, you can swap in coconut milk.

I know there are a million paleo smoothie ideas out there, but I think this is worth adding to the mix:

Modernist Cavegirl’s Paleo Long Run Smoothie

1/3 – 1/2 cup frozen black cherries

1/3 -1/2 cup frozen blueberries

1/4 of one frozen peach, sliced

1/4 cup full-fat yogurt (if you abstain from dairy, throw in more peach for texture)

1 tbsp gelatin

~1/4″ – 1/2″ grated ginger root (I keep it in the freezer)

1/2 – 3/4 cup coconut or almond milk

Throw the ingredients through ginger root into a blender with about half of the coconut or almond milk.  Slowly blend, adding more liquid until desired consistency is reached.

 

 

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September 20, 2014

Taper Tips

And I thought Run Less, Run Faster was deranged for including an interval run during marathon week…
http://m.runnersworld.com/marathon-training-plans/how-to-taper-for-your-next-marathon-or-half-marathon

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September 17, 2014

26 and Change

Old Crotan Aqueduct Trail

 

Unlike most things in adulthood that I look forward to, this weekend actually exceeded my expectations.  Saturday the Caveboy, Long Run Buddy, and I met up at Grand Central and headed north on MetroNorth to Tarrytown.  It was a beautiful day for a trail run, and though the leaves haven’t really started to change yet, it definitely felt like fall was in the air.  Running southward, as we were, the trail is slightly down hill and it made for a perfect easy run to just put on the cruise control and enjoy the scenery.  The Old Crotan Aqueduct trail is now part of the state park system and is wooded for most of the section we ran, but there were a few clearings that overlook the Hudson as well.  After just about 8 miles we reached the northern end of Yonkers and turned off the trail at the Greystone train station on MetroNorth.  One the way back I stopped at NYRR headquarters at 89th St. and I picked up my Tune-Up race number in the hopes of buying myself a little extra time and sleep in the morning.  The race started at 7 AM at the northern end of Central Park, so a few extra minutes of sleep was a precious commodity on Sunday.  I was up at 4:30, at the park before 6:30, and still had to rush to my corral thanks to extra long lines at the porta potties.

 

My approach for the Tune-Up was to really use it as a dry run for the marathon and approximate as many conditions of race day as I could.  I planned to run at goal pace, wear my race day gear, and not to carry my own fluids and test out how I did with Gatorade.  I’ve written before about my struggle with pre-race anxiety, and I fully expected to feel the pressure to perform on Sunday in all its shaky, stomach-churning splendor.  I slept surprisingly well the night before, but I told myself that I wouldn’t try to talk myself out of any anxiety I felt before the Tune-Up, as I knew it would be there on marathon day, too.  At the starting line I did feel some jitters, but they were mostly physical and not the Plague of Doubts that I’ve struggled with in the past.  Mentally I was actually incredibly calm and clear on what needed to be done.  I would simply go run around Central Park three times at an 8:50 pace.  No drama.

 

My legs did feel a little tight and nervous for the first few miles of the race, but I figured that was to be expected and so it didn’t concern me.  The course started just before the Harlem Hills, so each loop began with a short downhill followed by the longest climb of the circuit.  I spent the first lap finding my pace, trying not to charge the hills too much, and making mental notes about where the aid stations were located.  As I passed the starting line for the second time, I really settled in and relaxed.  I figured that if I could turn in a solid second loop, even if I got tired, I could take the third lap one hill and mile at a time and just focus on holding my pace.  The amazing thing was, I wasn’t getting tired. The hills just came and went.  It wasn’t that it was effortless, it was just unencumbered by worry, second-guessing, and emotional baggage.  It was actually fun. The last lap felt no harder than the first miraculously, and I finished right on target at 8:51 pace.

 

I think the biggest factor, though, may actually have been my attitude about pre-race nerves this time.  I didn’t fight it and actually welcomed it as a training tool.  I’ve always read that the secret to beating anxiety is just to accept it will be there and do whatever you want anyway.  It’s much more easily said than done, but I think I actually did it this time.

 

~ModC
September 12, 2014

Weekend Plans

I have three items of awesomeness to look forward to this weekend:

1. Long Run Buddy found us a great trail, the Croton Aqueduct, for tomorrow’s mileage. Have I mentioned how much I appreciate mass transit for enabling point-to-point runs?

2. I have the NYRR 18-Miler on Sunday in Central Park. If I can run this at or near marathon race pace, I will be thrilled. Three Harlem Hills repeats will probably kick my ass, but that’s what I’m there for. Also, nice people will hand me water and Gatorade, rather than me strapping it to various parts of my body for the duration of the run. Bonus.

3. All week, Weather Underground has been showing a HIGH of 71 on Sunday. Glorious! It gives me hope that fall is really on the way. I know we’ve had an incredibly easy summer in New York this year, but I still can’t wait for the leaves to turn. My personal seasonal rank is:

1. Late Fall
2. Winter
3. Regular Fall
4. Spring
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10. Summer
To quote a favorite Simpsons line, “Everything’s coming Milhouse.”

-ModC

September 9, 2014

Bikram Running

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Several years ago, my friend and I went for a run up Diamond Head on Oahu on the morning before her wedding.  It was summer in Hawaii, there was no shade, and what little breeze there was carried about 90% humidity.  Five miles later and drenched in sweat, we kicked off our shoes and ran straight into the ocean to cool off.  I think it was then that we dubbed the experience ‘Bikram Running.’  I hadn’t thought about that run in ages, but as fate would have it, said friend was visiting New York this weekend.  I planned to see her on Sunday morning, so I moved my long run to Saturday.

It was 77 degrees and 93% humidity when I got up at 5:30, and the sun wasn’t even up yet.  I was scheduled for 15 miles, but had hoped to eek out 16 in preparation for the 18-mile tune-up race next weekend.  In the end, I ran somewhere between 16 and 17 in what I’m quite sure was the sweatiest three hours of my life.  I am still without my Shuffle, so instead of my playlist for distraction, I got through it with the catchy mantra “heat training is more effective than altitude,” interspersed with the occasional stream of profanity.  I’ve been really trying to get better at ’embracing the suck,’ and just the fact that I wasn’t completely miserable out there was a major victory for me.  Even so, this one really was laborious.

I have never been good at feeling a true sense of pride in finishing an ugly workout.  Banging out a good set of intervals?  Sure.  Even a solid tempo day?  Yes.  But the really hard-fought runs with a sweaty face only a mother could love?  No way.  No matter how difficult it was to get through, I still tend to focus on what I should have done better, and that’s largely counterproductive.  I know it’s the really rough days that make me better, and will eventually get me to that holy grail, Making a Formerly Hard Thing Seem Easy.  In that spirit, today I remind myself of my very first 5-miler, about six years ago, run on the bike path and trails in Santa Barbara.  The last mile was excruciating, despite me slowing to something like a 12-minute pace by the end.  Apparently I looked so bedraggled by the last mile that an old man actually jumped into the weeds rather than making me swerve around him on the narrow path.  In the car on the way home, I was so concerned that my blood sugar had plummeted with the exertion of running such a great distance that I binged on half a bag of pretzels.  (This was pre-paleo…)  I’m pretty sure the pretzels then caused an insulin spike that really did tank my blood sugar, because I got home and lay limply on the couch for an hour before I could summon the energy to shower.

So really, 17 very sweaty 9:30 miles… definitely winning.

~ModC

 

September 4, 2014

Swamp Thing

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This race report comes a bit late thanks to a jam-packed Labor Day weekend and the aftermath of digging out at work this week.  Now that the dust has had a chance to settle on I’on Swamp Road, though, I can say with assurance that this was one of the most fun races I’ve ever done.  The Francis Marion Dirt Dash was exactly what I was hoping for–a small race with a ‘for runners, by runners’ feel in an absolutely gorgeous setting.  To top it off, it was only about 73 degrees at the start and the dense forest provided good shade throughout the race.  It was humid to be sure, but overall I found the race conditions to be quite comfortable.

Per the race instructions, we parked at a visitors’ center nearish the start and caught a shuttle van across the highway to the park.  From there we walked back the access road about half a mile to the start line, which was literally just a heel-drag line in the dirt.  We got our numbers, milled around a bit, and I griped with a few other runners about the lack of satellite telemetry at our particular global position. Truth be told, I was a mite nervous about running in the heat without GPS pace information.  The trail ahead looked shady and cool, but I had no idea what to expect for the rest of the course or the weather.  I decided to approach the uncertainty as a training opportunity to run based on perceived effort, and though it did make the whole exercise seem more productive, it did little to calm my nerves.

Before the start

Before the start

The Caveboy was running the 12K race, so when the runners assembled for the start we wished each other luck and my Long Run Buddy and I positioned ourselves nearish the front for the half marathon.  At 7:00 sharp, Chad Haffa, the race organizer, yelled “Go!” and we were off.  We settled in at what felt like a comfortably fast pace for the first out-and-back leg.  LRB had MapMyRun going, so he called out splits for the first few miles.  We were hanging around an 8:20-8:30 pace, which was a little faster than I was aiming for, but it felt pretty comfortable.  There were few mile markers on the course (it actually only may have been at mile 2/11), but somewhere around three and a half miles in my watch found its bearings and I had pace data.  For the next several miles I tried to soak up the scenery and serenity of the place and just enjoy the run.  LRB and I split up around mile 7–he was ready to pick up the pace  and I was feeling like I needed to reign it in a bit.  I slowed to about an 8:40 and plugged along on my own for a few more miles.

I could only judge the distance left based on my assumed pace and overall time, but I guessed the next aid station I encountered to be about mile 10.  I tried to confirm this with the volunteers, but they cheerfully informed me that they had no idea where they were.  I for some reason found this to be quite charming and picked up my cadence a bit.  I passed another runner about half a mile later who agreed with the 10-10.5 estimate, at which point I felt much more confident about my pace to the finish.  The morning was definitely getting warmer, but I was happy with how I was running at that point.  I’ve never considered myself a strong heat runner, but I was holding my own at a faster pace than I expected.  With about half a mile left I passed one more runner, chatted briefly, and then focused on surging to the finish line.

I crossed the line in 1:53:26, less than 4 minutes off  my PR.  Given the trail, the weather, and the fact that I never really made myself hurt, I was thrilled with the race.  The sentiment was further reinforced when I was handed a cold can of beer before 9 AM.  (Breakfast of Champions.)  LRB had finished a few minutes ahead of me, the Caveboy was relaxing with his libations already, and soon we were cheering for the award of the giant pinecones to the overall winners.  (Seriously, best race trophies ever.)  The full results were posted Monday, and I came in second in my age group and was the seventh overall woman.

My one regret of this race was the untimely demise of my beloved gen2 iPod Shuffle.  I usually clip it to a loop I sewed onto the hip of all of my running shorts and skirts, but the stitching pulled out about a quarter mile into the race and I moved it to my bra strap instead.  I promptly forgot about its new location and proceeded to dump water on my head and down my bra at every aid station.  It actually continued to function for the rest of the race, but when I tried it the next day it was unresponsive.  Oddly, the following day it worked again, but has refused to turn on since then.  I tried packing it in kitty litter to dry it out to no avail (good Paleo girl that I am, I have no rice).  I finally gave in this morning and ordered a new (used) one on Amazon.

Anyway, the rest of the weekend was what the Caveboy described as “one of the most tiring, relaxing weekends we have ever had.”  We surfed, kayaked, and stand-up paddle boarded (which I officially love).  I also squeezed in a short barefoot run on the beach before our flight on Sunday.  I’ve been a bit off schedule on running this week, but I did a 5.5 mile run at my parents’ cabin on Monday, a 5-mile tempo at race pace and a 1% grade on Tuesday, 3 miles easy yesterday, and a 7 mile tempo a touch faster than race pace this morning.  My long run is slated for Saturday, and next week the final build up to the taper officially begins.

Happy Unofficial Autumn!

~ModC