Archive for ‘Training’

December 8, 2014

EDL Tendinitis Update

escalated

It’s now been a week since I first started feeling some mild discomfort from the (self-diagnosed) EDL tendinitis.  As I wrote in this previous post, it escalated quickly.  Walking is hit or miss; sometimes I feel almost no pain, and other times it’s quite sharp.  Running, jumping, or any sort of impact is still out of the realm of possibility. Unfortunately, this weekend I was signed up for the NYRR Jingle Bell Jog, a 4-miler in Prospect Park.  I haven’t run any races that short since the Israel 4-miler this spring, and I hadn’t raced it, so I was really looking forward to letting loose on this one.  It’s rare NYRR races are on my home turf in Prospect and I was hoping to run 7:30ish splits and move up a corral or two.

By Friday it was clear that there would not be any running happening this weekend, but I still needed to finish the race for my 9+1 entry for next year’s NYC marathon.  The Caveboy graciously offered to keep me company while I walked, which was sweet and rather brave given how grumpy I was about the whole thing.  I really was trying to stay positive and upbeat outwardly, but I was in a fair bit of pain by the end and probably not very good company.

My biggest concern was whether all of the walking was going to set me back even further, but on Sunday my foot actually felt a little better.  I was starting to get some taper madness and did an upper body kettle bell workout just so I didn’t feel like such a slug, but I knew it wouldn’t get me the much-needed hit of endorphins.  For the rest of the day I took the opportunity to rest and ice it while watching football and catching up on my holiday knitting, and by evening it seemed like the visible swelling was gone.  I was cautiously optimistic that it was on the mend, but then this morning the puffy spot was back and it seemed to hurt as much as ever.  Exit Optimism.  In an effort to find some kind of cardio outlet, though, I did scope out a pool to join yesterday, and a swim cap and goggles are on my errand list today.

I keep telling myself that I can turn this into a positive.  I can focus on getting stronger and start swimming in preparation for the summer tri.  For the first time in years, though I’m having a hard time finding the motivation to work out when I can’t do any of the activities I enjoy.  I have no idea if this will take days or weeks or months to heal.  (Though if it’s not showing signs of improvement by the end of the week, I’m going to get some x-rays.)  Running is my prozac, and the combination of the frustration of the injury and losing my stress outlet really has me down.  I think what makes this one particularly difficult is that it came on so suddenly.  When I’ve had runner’s knee, plantar fasciitis, or IT band problems I could make (sometimes badly) calculated decisions about whether to run through the pain or not.  I knew that it might ultimately result in having to take some time off, but I at least had a chance to mentally prepare for that eventuality.  There’s nothing to do right now but to keep moving forward in whatever way I can and not let the frustration get in the way.

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December 5, 2014

No Pain, No Gain

After I finished all the cooking last weekend I savored a few minutes of quiet and sat down with my gmail calendar to plan my next few months of training.  I love lists, schedules, and thinking about interval workouts, so planning the next race is pretty much my favorite thing.  My spring A race is going to be the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach in March, but I’m also signed up for the Fred Lebow Half Marathon in January, which is where I had set my immediate sights.  I’m also gearing up for triathlon training in the spring, so I was looking forward to starting to incorporate bike and swim workouts as a two-a-day option for winter training.

Surrounded by a pile of training books (as well as multiple Chrome tabs), I crafted a fairly intense few months of morning runs and evening bike sessions, with swim classes starting up in January.  I enthusiastically kicked all of this off with brick workouts or two-a-days every day over Thanksgiving weekend.  I was feeling like a total beast—or at least enjoying imagining the total beast I would be after a month of biking drills.  Everything was going great until Sunday, as I was finishing an 8-mile run. I noticed some mild soreness in the top of my left foot, but chalked it up to the new shoes I was still breaking in and jumped on the bike another 45 minutes to round out the day.  It was still a little sore on Monday, which is my rest day.  I figured the day off from running was just what I needed, but decided to go ahead with 30 minutes of one-legged pedaling drills in the evening.

Tuesday I hit the gym bright and early, ready for my first official interval session of the training schedule.  Such opportunity!  Such promise!  Such stabbing pain behind my toes!  I stopped, stretched, tried again, and ended up quitting after a quarter mile.  I haven’t actually stopped a run because something hurt since, oh, 2010, so that was a big deal.  “It’s great that I’ve started doing bike workouts, though,” I thought to myself.  “I’ll just do spin intervals instead.”  45 minutes later I was dripping sweat and pleased with my workout as well as my positive attitude and willingness to do something other than run.  I stepped off the bike, tried to put weight on my left foot, and nearly fell over.  After limping around a bit and stretching I was able to walk almost normally again, but it was clear that whatever was wrong, the bike was making it much, much worse.

After a visit to Dr. Internet, I’ve diagnosed extensor tendonitis.  It’s often caused by pressure from shoes that are too tight across the toe box, and I’m quite sure that my bike shoes qualify.  Tight calf muscles can also contribute, and some aggressive tiger tailing that night did release some alarmingly tight muscles there.  I’ve been icing my foot in the evenings, which seems to help for at least an hour or so following.  After 3 days, though, walking still hurts and running doesn’t feel like a remote possibility.  I also obviously can’t bike, and strapping my feet into the rowing machine seems like an equally bad idea.  I did a solid strength training session yesterday, but I’m at a loss for other cross-training options.  If nothing else, this may motivate me to sign up for a pool membership this weekend.

I’m trying to stay positive–at least this happened in the off season and not right before a race–but having such limited workout options is making me a little crazy.  I’ve also realized that no matter how good of shape I’m in right now, I’m still a newbie at cycling and I’m probably in for a lot of the same frustrations I had when I started running.  Learning new things–it’s awesome, right?  This is all going to be worth it?

October 31, 2014

More Accurate Marathon Time Predictions?

586px-MotherdurgaCrop

Just in time for the New York City Marathon on Sunday, Slate posted this new marathon time predictor yesterday.  The calculator was created by statistician Andrew Vickers, and is based on the reported times across various race distances of 2,500 runners.  I plugged in my most recent half   and 10K, and was given a marathon prediction of 4:09:12, which is only a minute over what I actually ran, and 20 minutes more accurate than the Riegel algorithm predicts.

I have mixed feelings about this.  On one hand, it would seem to indicate that I did not screw the race up nearly as much as I thought I did.  On the other hand, it means I’m much further from running sub-4 than I ever thought.  On the third hand, I really think I could have run much faster on a flatter course.  On the fourth hand, it kind of calls into question the whole approach to appropriate pacing, particularly if most people are relying on the Riegel (or similar) methods.

October 29, 2014

Catching My Breath

After my first full week off running in I don’t know how long, I very happily hit the road again on Saturday.  I had to fill my time somehow (other than catching up on laundry and  putting some effort into cooking again), so during my down time I started reading Budd Coates’ Running on Air.  The Amazon’s description promises that the book will “help runners at all experience levels improve their performance, prevent injury, and experience the joy of running” through rhythmic breathing.  Breath control has long been one of those facets of distance running that I relegated to the “Only Useful for Fast People” category and have thus ignored.  In general my M.O. has just been to belly-breathe as deeply and slowly as possible for any given pace. I’ve struggled with pretty major side stitches several times this season though, and I’ve been starting to think that maybe I’m doing something wrong.

There is also little science available on the causes or treatment of side stitches.  I’ve tried all of the usual recommendations–exhaling like I’m blowing up a balloon, running bent over, running with my arm stretched over my head, applying pressure to the spot–all to no avail.    Given that they don’t constitute an injury and seem to come and go mysteriously, it’s understandable that there is not much solid research, but you’d think some triathlete PhD candidate in need of a thesis topic would like a good mystery…   In any case, the severity and recurrence of mine lately has compelled me to learn as much as I could on the subject and figure something out.

The general theory of side stitches seems to be that they are caused by a spasm in the diaphragm muscle.  At their worst, I have experienced a few that felt like a full-on cramp, which would be consistent with that model.  They most often occur on the right side of the body, and there are several conjectures as to why that is.  One is that since the larger portion of the liver sits to the right of the midline, the weight of the organ pulls more on that side and causes a strain in the muscle.  Another theory is that right-handed runners are more likely to exhale on their right foot consistently, again creating a greater strain on that side.

Running on Air takes a more comprehensive view of the breath and running and, while it is not expressly concerned with side stitches, I found Coates’ description of the mechanics of breathing quite helpful in (perhaps) identifying my problem.  When we breath, the diaphragm essentially operates the bellows of our lungs.  On the inhale, the diaphragm goes into its “working” mode, contracting downward to fill the lungs with air.  On the exhale, it relaxes and rises to the neutral position (or past it) to force the air back out.  According to Coates, significant core stability is lost on the exhale as a result of the muscle relaxation, and the footstrikes that occur during this phase produce the greatest impact and potential for injury.

I have always used a very long exhale when I run, thinking that this would help keep my heart rate down.  When I get side stitches, I tend to try to draw it out even longer.  If Running on Air is correct, however, my approach is probably exacerbating the problem by subjecting a cramping muscle to even more tension and stress.  This was certainly borne out in Baltimore, when running downhill with the side stitch became nearly excruciating at times.  Coates’ method favors a longer inhale and short, strong exhale synchronized with footfalls.  This rhythm reduces the amount of time that the core is unstable and also ensures that the exhale begins on alternating feet.

I’ve been using Coates’ method for all of my runs this week, and the results have been interesting.  This pattern is comfortable, but MUCH faster than the breath I’m used to, and I’m curious to see how that translates on harder efforts.  I’m on my second week of marathon recovery and only starting to return to real workouts, so I only have one tempo run and some fairly brisk Central Park hills for data at the moment.  Still, the only time I’ve felt the side stitch start to pull has been when I’ve lost my breath rhythm.  In every case, as soon as I’ve gotten back in sync it has quickly subsided.  I find the 5-count somewhat difficult to internalize (maybe it’s all those years of marching band), so I have to consciously count to myself to maintain the rhythm.  (You can forget listening to music, too.)  I do find that tying my breath directly to my footfalls has made me much more aware of my pace and level of effort, and also makes me feel more fluid as I run.  I’m curious to see if that awareness continues once the breathing patterns becomes more automatic and ingrained (assuming that happens).  I also suspect that with time the faster breathing rhythm may actually strengthen my diaphragm and intercostal muscles.  Overall, I’m very encouraged.

October 14, 2014

Taper Jitters

Marathon Taper Legs

I’m one week into my taper now and staying reasonably sane, although I do keep thinking of those Restless Leg Syndrome commercials from the early 2000’s.  (What ever happened to that, anyway?)  Last week I ran a somewhat normal workouts, though at about half my usual mileage.  I did a 10-miler Sunday at race pace, and this morning I had one last interval session (4×400’s).  That will probably be it until the race, with the possible exception of some quick strides on Friday just to stretch the legs out.  I’ve been trying to bank some extra sleep this week as well, though the kitten seems to have other ideas at 5:30 in the morning.

Predictably, the jitters have set in, but I’m trying to face them head-on this time, rather than letting myself become the victim of my nerves.  The problem with anxiety is that it tends to put you in a circular bind that’s difficult to escape.  Aside from the feelings of panic and negative self-talk it can induce, anxiety also tightens muscles, quickens the breath and heart rate, and interferes with fine motor coordination—basically working against every aspect of athletic performance.  Of course, knowing this, my biggest pre-race fear is that I’ll get nervous and it will compromise my race; it truly is the fear of fear itself that gets me.

Yesterday I could feel the pangs of anxiety creeping up and I decided it was time to take the bull by the horns.  I’ve worked my ass off this season, and I’ve earned my place at that starting line.  I know I’ll be nervous.  There’s no point wasting energy wondering if it will happen; I need to just accept it as a given.  But it’s also a given that when I look around at the starting line at all the other runners, they’ll all be nervous, too.  Even the pro’s get nervous.  (Kara Goucher famously discussed her pre-race nerves in a Runner’s World interview, and Shalane Flanagan, who races as though she is completely fearless, discusses the issue here.)  Knowing that it’s not just me always helps.  I also realized that if everyone is nervous and some people are still  managing to race well—maybe even better—with the nerves, then it’s really up to me how I handle it.  Instead of looking at it as me against a force I can’t control, I need to take charge of how I channel my energy.  Of course, that’s always easier said than done.

Preparedness is always a good first step, so I started by making a detailed, day-by-day list of everything that needs to happen this week.  I’ve been working on my packing list for weeks, but there are a million other details to race day and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.  There is nothing worse than realizing you don’t have cash for parking or that you don’t know where baggage drop is when you’re trying to get to the starting line.  Any stress I can eliminate through good planning is a major victory.  I keep reminding myself that physically, I’ve done everything I can.  I’ve run every workout, hit every pace, and despite the nerves, my body has delivered every time I’ve pushed it this season.  I have to trust my training and know that it will this time, too.

The thing that has really helped me calm to down and focus, though, was kind of unexpected.  On a whim, I googled “athlete inspirational video” and watched a few.  (And just for fun, I also looked for this.)  Attitude is everything, and maybe a good pep talk at the start line is just what I need.

 

Clear Eyes, Full Hearts!

-ModC

October 1, 2014

Shut Up and Run

Five Borough Series: Bronx 10-Mile

Sunday was the Bronx 10-Miler, and with it I ticked off borough number four on my list.  I planned to run it with Long Run Buddy, and we decided to shoot for an 8:15 pace, which was my distance-adjusted equivalent marathon pace.  Rationally, I knew I should be able to do it, but 8:15’s sounded fast and, truth be told, I was a wee bit concerned about keeping it up.  Sunday was fairly warm and I was coming off a hard week of training with only one rest day before the race.  If there’s been an emergent theme to this season though, it’s that I’m tired of being scared to run fast*.  As I shuffled up to the starting line, I decided that I was not really interested in listening to any more neurotic self doubt.  My new motto was shut up and run.

With almost 10,000 people running down Grand Concourse, the first few miles required the usual NYRR bob-and-weave techniques.  Eventually we found a pack running at our pace and tried to settle in.  The course was shaped like an arrow with very short arms, with the first turn around mile 4 and the return to the vertical leg at mile 5.  About 3 1/2 miles in I heard a wave of applause from the runners ahead, and cheered as the leader (and eventual winner) passed by.  A minute or so later we passed another lone runner, and shortly thereafter, a larger pack that included the first two women.

I wish I could add some interesting local color of the Bronx here, but I really completely failed to take in any of the scenery.  The course was rolling enough that a lot of runners weren’t holding a steady pace, so between the crowd and the grade changes, I was primarily focused on holding my speed and not tripping myself and others.  At the halfway point I was still feeling good and not really registering the uphills too much.  I had been fighting a slight side stitch since the first mile, but I tried to stay relaxed and belly breathe as deeply as possible.

By mile 7 I definitely felt like I was working, though, and that was where the mental game really began.  My brain was making a very good case for slowing down–I had Marathon Hell Week coming up, it was hot, who was I to think I was fast enough to run 10 miles at 8:15 pace, and why did I really need to pass these people, anyway?  As all of this was running through my mind, though, I noticed that my legs seemed strangely unaffected.  I was holding pace just fine, nothing hurt, and my breath was even and controlled.  Sure, I would preferred to have the whole thing be over at that point, but it was really going perfectly well.  I repeated “Shut up and run” to myself, pulled it together, and enjoyed a few blissful minutes of brain silence.  I wasn’t in the Zone exactly, but I did feel a bit like my body was doing what it already knew how to do and I was free to experience the ride without the incessant chatter from upstairs.

It was up and down a few more small hills, and then I was in the chute before I knew it with a good crowd cheering us in.  I tried to pick off a few more people as I approached the finish line, and then it was over.  As soon as I was clear of the runners coming in behind me, I checked my watch. My average split was 8:14–right on target.  I’d like to say that I’m over the race and pace anxiety and I now fully trust my fitness and the training.  The reality is, though, I’m already worrying over my last 20-miler this weekend.  I’ll continue to work at building my confidence, and I really want to have the courage to lay it all on the line on race day, Shalane Flanagan-style.  From here on it, the gameplan is shut up and run.

*Yes, I know that 8:15’s aren’t actually fast in the grand scheme of things.

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 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

August 27, 2014

Tired Legs

In theory this week was going to be a cut back/mini-taper before the Dirt Dash in South Carolina this Saturday.  Since it was an extra week that I added to the marathon training schedule, I planned just to wing it on workouts based on how I was feeling.  Sunday I decided on a 16-miler, which seemed long enough to be hard, but not completely leg-deadening.  Rather than doing my usual steady pace, even-split approach, I opted for a fast finish run, which I thought might get me primed for the half this week.  I started out running 10 minute miles with the Caveboy, then dropped to around 9’s after about 5 miles, and mid-to-low 8’s for the last 4.

I finished the long run feeling great, and I headed into this week flush with optimism.  I also happened to catch this article on Runners’ World this week on increasing training just before a taper, and I started getting ideas.  Monday would normally have been an off day, but instead I decided to go for broke and scheduled a strength session.  After 45 minutes with Gillian my legs and core were quivering and I was high on endorphins.  I chased that workout with an easy 5 on Tuesday, and then decided this morning to squeeze in an interval workout.  I now have two days of travel and enforced rest, and if you count the rest of today, it’s really almost 3 full days before the half.

I’m generally a worst-case-scenario type of person, but I’m feeling uncharacteristically optimistic about the Dirt Dash.  I hadn’t planned to really race hard on Saturday, but once I got the runner instructions email this week, I realized two things:

1. This race is really small.

2. It is on an access road through the woods and swamp.

The course, on I'on Swamp Road.  Not making that up.

The course, on I’on Swamp Road. Yes, that is the actual name.

For some reason, that got me really excited.  I know I’m completely in denial about the heat, humidity, and pterodactyl-sized mosquitos we will likely encounter.  Still, the idea of just running through the woods sounds like a nice change from stampeding through Central Park with 4,000 other people and being pampered every step of the way by New York Road Runners’ fabulous volunteers.  (Not that I’m knocking it.)  I know I could totally melt down in the heat, and I may have pushed myself too hard this week to recover in time.  Still, I feel like this is going to be fun.