Posts tagged ‘long run’

March 4, 2015

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

I’m late in posting, but this week has felt largely like a rehash of last week.  It’s been pretty much run, bike, swim, snow, ice, slush,  repeat.

To further the déjà vu, last Thursday’s tempo run was the same as the previous week–1 easy, 5 at 7:49 pace, 1 easy–with no evening workout.  Friday was a cardio rest day, but I did strength training in the morning.  Saturday I usually do an easy run for my morning workout, but was eager to get back in the pool to continue working the drills from this week’s swim class.  After 45 minutes in the pool my stroke was feeling great, and I believe I also isolated the cause of my swimming endurance problem.  It’s a minor detail, but it seems that I’m not actually inhaling in any meaningful way when I breathe.  I’m not really sure what to do about it yet, but acceptance is the first step, right?

After Saturday’s swim I had a light lunch and then hit the trainer for my first aerobic-targeted workout on Trainer Road.  It was 90 minutes of easy-ish spinning, and other than getting a bit saddle sore, it really wasn’t bad.  I had some errands to run and a pile of laundry to do, so the rest of the afternoon was quickly consumed with that.  I went to the Murder By Death concert Saturday evening with Long Run Buddy, which was super fun, but also had us out way too late.  LRB had a 5K in the morning and I needed to get the Caveboy off to the airport and then bang out a 15-mile run.  5:30 AM came around much too early.  For the run I planned to run a loop of Central Park, then cut west to the Hudson River path and run south, over the Brooklyn Bridge, and back home.  It was the closest I could approximate the NYC Half course without the street closures, and I figured having the bridge climb at the end of the run would be a good challenge.  Per my training schedule I was aiming for 8:30 pace, which was faster than I’d run any of my long runs so far, and 15 miles was the longest I had run since the Brooklyn Marathon back in November, so I was a teensy bit very nervous about this one.    I’d checked the weather the day before and it showed pretty perfect coditions–clear skies and a high of 40, so I threw on tights, a long sleeved race shirt, my Ice Breaker hoodie (love!), gloves, and my sunglasses and hopped on the subway to Central Park.

InconceivablePB

The park definitely felt colder than 40 degrees and the sky looked a bit ominous, but I was undaunted.  I started out the run feeling great.  I was light and fast and it was inconceivable I would ever get tired.  My pace slowed on the Harlem Hills more than I would have liked—and I say “my pace slowed” and not “I slowed my pace” because I felt like I was still running fast.  It’s just that I wasn’t.  Still, I cruised down the back side of the hills and pushed through the rolling stretch that makes up the north west section of the loop.  By the time I exited the park at Columbus Circle and headed for the Hudson River path it had started to snow and I was having to stay focused to maintain the 8:30’s.  The river path is flat and I hoped that once I dialed the pace in it wouldn’t be too hard to maintain.  Other than stopping for a few quick photo ops of the frozen Hudson I did manage to cruise along, roughly on pace.  I knew I’d lose some time and momentum when I cut across the island to the bridge though, and predictably, the climb there felt hard.  What I had not predicted was the ½” of snow that had fallen in the time it took me to get from Central Park to the bridge.  The pedestrian section of the bridge is basically a wooden boardwalk, so in addition to dodging oblivious tourists taking selfies I was also slipping on every step.  I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see a concrete running surface as when I reached solid ground on the Brooklyn side.  Happily, the downhill stretch (or proximity to home) gave me a second wind, and I was able to bring in the last couple of flat miles at 8:15’s.  It was a welcome surprise when I checked the Garmin and saw my average pace was an 8:34.  I arrived back home cold, chapped, and wind burned, and was grateful for a hot shower.

Photo Op.

Photo Op.

I cleaned up, made lunch, and was feeling good until my digestive system suddenly decided to go on strike.  I don’t think it had anything to do with the run necessarily—my stomach had felt fine the whole time I was out.  I curled up on the couch for an hour, but I still had a bunch of chores to get done before I was back to work on Monday.  Other than a headache and the tummy troubles I didn’t actually feel terrible, so I decided just to power through it as much as I could.  Of course, the problem was that I needed to get some calories and hydration back into me, and that was proving to be a challenge.   After several hours, lots of tea, and a couple of yogurt and kefir cocktails, I felt a bit better.  I got the important stuff on my to-do list done and did manage to eat a small dinner without repercussions.  I probably only ended up at net 500 calories on the day, if that, and went to bed at 9.

I woke up Monday morning tired, hungry, and fighting what I used to refer to in college as my “tired sore throat.”  I would get it without fail if I pulled a couple of all-nighters during finals, and now it’s become my red flag that I’m overtraining and getting run down.  Once again, I skipped my Monday morning strength training in favor of more sleep.   Tuesday I felt much better and the 5×1000 intervals went off without a hitch, so I’m chalking up the Monday fail to lack of sleep and calories.  We had yet another snow/freezing rain/regular rain event yesterday, so getting to swim class was a bit of a swim in itself.  Class was mostly kick drills and one-arm pulling, which felt weird and awkward and I kept forgetting to breathe (more so than usual).  Then I’d remember about the breathing when my lungs started screaming and completely forget that I was supposed to be paying attention to my arm position, which was unfortunate since that was the whole point of the awkward endeavor.  This morning I upgraded myself to the medium lane and still ran into feet, so something must be working.

February 24, 2015

Freeze, Thaw, Cycle

 

Ice on the water cups at the Al Gordon 4-Miler

Ice on the water cups at the Al Gordon 4-Miler

The good news about this weekend is that it was super productive.  The bad news is that I was completely exhausted by Monday.  I ended up with the schedule stacked against me last week, when I realized that I needed to squeeze in a strength training session with Kali the Destroyer.  I ended up fitting that in on Thursday morning, which moved my tempo run to Friday.  The strength training was great (doing the Jillian Michael sessions twice a week really are making me stronger), and I happy to wake up on Friday without much soreness.  My scheduled tempo was 1 easy, 5 at 7:49, and 1 easy, which I got through without much drama. I had the Al Gordon 4-Miler in Prospect Park on Saturday, and I tried my best to channel the successful tempo to garner some enthusiasm for the race.

 Al Gordon 4-Miler

I had signed up for the 4-miler when I came back from my stress fracture, mainly as an attempt to save myself from jumping right into training for the NYC Half.  That (somewhat) worked, and I really had no goal in mind for the race other than to improve my corral for the half next month.  I should probably explain for those uninitiated in the efficient machine that is New York Road Runners, that all of their races have starting corrals which are seeded by pace.  The catch is that your pace group is based on the fastest average mile split logged in any race you’ve run with them, regardless of distance.  I rarely race anything shorter than a 10K, and when I do, they’re usually social runs with friends when I’m not focused on time.  I was currently in the 8:00 corral based on my last 10K, and was hoping to improve my start position a bit given the crowded field in the NYC Half.  With that in mind, I dragged myself out of bed at 6 AM on Saturday morning and bundled up.  It was 6 degrees out and, not wanting to spend too much time freezing in the corral, I got to the start only a few minutes before the gun.  We were off, and I went into Bill Belichik Do-Your-Job mode—no drama, no whining, just hit my pace and get the job done.  I still had a 14-mile long run to do on Sunday, so the idea was to run hard, but not plumb new depths of pain.  I held 7:30’s on the flats, 8:00’s on the uphills, and tried to take it sub-7 on the downs when I could.   I held off a side stitch with some very focused belly breathing for the last mile and finished in 30:23.  It would have been nice to break 30 minutes, but I was happy with the effort, and it should move me up at least one or two corrals.   After I finished, the Caveboy met me with a warm jacket and asked if the lake was completely frozen, at which point I realized that I had not taken in my surroundings in the least.  How’s that for focus?

From Prospect I jumped on the train to Union Square and grabbed a cup of coffee while I waited for Jack Rabbit Sports to open.  They were having their spring clearance sale and I was hoping to snag a tri race kit cheap.  Long Run Buddy was meeting me there, and we both scored major deals.  I was able to pick up two race kits, and I also found a pair of my favorite running shorts and a book on bike maintenance, all for $55.  Win.  While I was waiting for LRB to check out I checked my race results and discovered that I had finished 4th in my age group.  Double win.  We had a celebratory brunch and then Caveboy and I headed home to catch up on laundry and other life essentials.  I had a bike session on the calendar as well, so after throwing in a load of running clothes I set up the bike and queued up an episode of Gilmore Girls.  This was the first session of my base-building training plan on TrainerRoad, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was hoping it wouldn’t be too brutal given the 14 mile long run the next day. “8-Minute Power Test” initially sounded pretty innocuous, but it turned out to be a pretty intense hour-long workout.

Trainer Road

TrainerRoad basically syncs your phone, iPad, or computer with your (Bluetooth-enabled) bike computer to give you a customized spin workout.  It estimates virtual power based on your trainer model and gives you real time stats on your power output, showing you a green, yellow, or red zone depending on how well you’re keeping up with the designed workout.  They also provide real-time on-screen instructions for each session, as well as additional background info on the website and even free webinars on training topics.  I’ve heard really good things about it and given that I have zero experience with bike training, I am basically putting all my faith in their approach.  The workout started with an easy spin warm-up, and then progressed to two very short, hard intervals.  No matter what I did, I couldn’t keep my power up in the green zone where it was supposed to be, and I was starting to get very worried about my biking abilities and questioning why I had taken on this whole triathlon endeavor.  Thankfully there was another easy spin period at that point and the on-screen instructions started describing the two 8-minute power trials that were coming up.  It was then that I realized that point of this ride was to calibrate my functional threshold power, and that the green zone for power that the app was currently showing me was completely arbitrary (i.e. probably calibrated for a large dude who is a much better cyclist than me.)  This is why I probably should not consider reading the instructions to be a sign of weakness…  Anyway, I was at least somewhat relieved, and I got through the power tests within tolerable pain levels.  TrainerRoad spit out a new FTP at the end, and my next workout should be calibrated for my current fitness level.

Slushy Central Park

Slushy Central Park

Long Run

Sunday the temperature shot up 30 degrees into the mid-40’s, and it seemed all of New York was covered in 2 inches of accumulated slush, dirt, and formerly-frozen dog pee.  I had originally planned to run as much as I could of the NYC Half course for my long run, but it was clear that traversing the sidewalks was not a desirable option.  I figured Central Park was probably my best shot at clear roads, so I met up with LRB after his morning spin session and set off.  He had a 1:45 run in HR Zone 1-2 on the menu, so it was much the same drill as last week.  We ran a bit slower than my target 8:30’s, but my legs were feeling pretty dead after the strength/tempo/race/bike whammy anyway.  We were both not wearing headphones for once, so we chatted on and off and the miles ticked by quickly.  The encouraging part about this run was really how undramatic it was given how tired I felt.  Undoubtedly it would have hurt a lot more had I been running 8:30’s instead of 8:45’s, but I did pick it up for the last few miles after LRB clocked out and my endurance felt solid.

Monday morning I had an hour of strength training scheduled, but on Sunday night I decided that I would benefit more from an additional hour of sleep.  I had vague notions of still getting it in after work, but by mid-afternoon it was clear that what I really needed was rest and a massage.  After some aggressive tiger tailing and an hour on the couch after dinner I was off to bed, and felt much more alive this morning.  The intervals du jour were 2×1200  at 6:53 pace followed by 4×800 at 6:49 pace with 2 minute recovery intervals.  After my poor showing last week, I was determined to bang these out without walking a recovery or stopping for a rest, and I. DID. IT.  I downed half a power bar while waiting for the train after, which is part of my initiative to be nicer to myself about post-workout nutrition.  (More on that in a later post.)  Tonight is swim class, and the rest of the week is the usual combo of swimming, Trainer Road bike workouts, hard runs, and beet juice.

February 17, 2015

Keeping Track

Last week was probably my most solid training week since my stress fracture, and I’m feeling pretty good about where I am.  I ran 30.8 miles, biked 19.4, swam 1200 yds (that’s an estimate since I’m still struggling with lap count, but more on that later…), and I also got in two strength training sessions.  Running-wise, I had my mile-repeats on Tuesday, an easy 6 on Thursday, and a 12-mile long run Sunday.  Saturday I bricked my swim workout with another easy 6-mile run, which, happily, did actually feel easy.  I’m still working to build my swim endurance, but my efficiency is improving and I’m definitely wasting less energy on my kick now.

Central Park

Central Park, with not another person in sight…

 

For Sunday’s long run I met Long Run Buddy in Central Park, which we had nearly to ourselves, thanks to the 14 degree temperature and frigid wind gusts.  We bundled up and decided a legitimate warm-up was in order.  After a shuffley mile we picked up the pace for our park loops.  LRB had a 90-minute easy run in HR Zone 1-2 on his schedule, so we ended up pulling back a bit on the 8:30 pace I was targeting and settled in around 8:40.  At mile 10 LRB peeled off at 92nd street to wrap up his workout, and it was at that point that sucked on my water bottle in vain and discovered that the nozzle had completely frozen.  I do love winter running and generally don’t really mind the cold, but that seemed a bit much.  Consoling myself that I could always eat snow if necessary, I got ready to push up the Harlem Hills the second time.   I was nervous curious about how I’d do on the hills, especially on loop two, but I felt pretty strong throughout.  I was definitely not able to push the pace as much as I was in the fall, but I’m confident that I’ll get the uphill speed back with a some focused time and effort.  In any case, I still felt good endurance-wise, and I was able to pick up the pace for the last two miles.  I finished my 12 in the park and still had about mile back to LRB’s apartment, and in an effort to stay warm I opted to just jog it back.  All-in, I ran 13.8, which makes me feel much better about my 14-er coming up this weekend.  After a hot shower the feeling returned to my fingers and nose, and LRB and I hit up a beer hall for some post-run sustenance.

LRB's liter o'beer and my teeny-tiny Riesling.

LRB’s liter o’beer and my teeny-tiny Riesling.

Monday I was off work for the holiday and logged a 45-minute strength training session, 8 miles of HIIT interval biking, 3 loads of laundry, and some marathon cooking.  My running bras are clean and my freezer is well stocked, so that made me a happy girl.  We had our wine critic friend over for dinner last night which resulted in more imbibing than was perhaps prudent, especially given this morning’s intervals.  I hit the treadmill feeling a bit sluggish and fought my way through 10×400’s at 6:40 pace.  It was not my most stellar performance and I had to take a couple of my recovery intervals at a walk, but I gritted my teeth and made it through the full set.  In fact, I know that I made it through because I used my snazzy new counting bracelet, which I made yesterday to keep track of my pool laps.

10 beads on the left.  Count 'em.

10 beads on the left. Count ’em.

I got some great suggestions last week on how to keep count in the pool, but apparently I’m hopeless.  I think the real problem is that I’m still concentrating so much on technique that I just don’t have the mental bandwidth for anything else.  Right now, my thoughts during swimming go something like this: “1, 2, 3, breathe!  Lead with the crown of your head!  3, breathe!  Don’t push the water down! 2, 3, breathe!   1, 2, head down! Breathe!  Straight legs!  Relax! 3, breathe!  Turn!  Breathe!  Crap, is this lap 11 or 13?  Breathe!

I was racking my brains all week trying to think of a low-tech solution, and I remembered that in my knitting travels I’d seen instructions for making row-counting bracelets.  I dug around in my crafty bins and found some stainless steel beads, jump rings, and black cord and I was all set.  I think the result looks moderately adult enough that I can wear it all day, and it worked beautifully for ticking off my intervals this morning.  I’ll be trying it out in the pool tonight.

The general idea is that the cords are a bit longer than the beaded area, leaving a short gap.  The beads will slide along the cord, leaving a space between the counted beads and the ones ‘on deck,’ but there’s enough friction that they don’t slide around on their own.  I’ll put up a separate post this week with the materials I used for my bracelet, along with instructions and photos.  It’s a fast project and these would make a useful gift for your favorite runner or swimmer.  (Or knitter.)  These could range from masculine to feminine, simple and elegant to colorful and fun depending on your choice of beads and hardware.  The only real constraints are selecting beads and cord of compatible size, and making sure your materials will survive the water if you plan to swim with it.  I tend to gravitate towards minimalism, but you could easily incorporate number and letter beads for a personal touch, too—names, inspiration, a mantra, or PR’s.

October 6, 2014

Fast

Last week was the final push of my overload month before the taper.  I had strength training Monday, intervals Tuesday, easy run Wednesday, tempo Thursday, and an easy run Friday, followed by the Yom Kippur fast on Saturday.  It took until Thursday for the soreness from the strength training to finally subside, and by Friday I was pretty wrung out and facing  26 hours without food or drink.  To top it off, I had my final 20-miler scheduled for Sunday, which gave me about 10 hours to fuel up and rehydrate.  Oh, and I needed to get a good night’s sleep in there, too.

I’m beginning to think that Paleo might be the answer to Jewish dietary laws, though… It’s easy to find dairy-free meat recipes, Passover is no sweat, and it turns out that being fat-adapted makes fasting much easier.  Friday post run I made sure I hydrated thoroughly, and I made us some Bulletproof herbal tea after dinner to kick up the fat-burning.  I got through it without too much difficulty this year, and as soon as it ended I started pounding water.  Sunday morning I felt surprisingly good, and it was time to get down to business, as I had a tight schedule to keep.

Grete’s Great Gallop – Race Report

I had signed up for Grete’s Great Gallop in Central Park, which started at 9, but I needed to get in another 7 make it a 20-miler.  I wanted it to be as continuous a run as possible, so I had worked out some fine-tuned logistics with Long Run Buddy.  Caveboy and I took the train into lower Manhattan, then started running up Hudson River Greenway toward Central Park.  I was hoping to hold a 9 minute pace for the duration, and getting to the corral on time put some pressure on holding pace.  LRB was also racing the Gallop, and had kindly agreed to pick up our numbers and shirts and handle the bag check.  I arrived at the park about 10 minutes before the start with three quarters of a mile left to run.  After a couple of out-and backs near the start I met LRB at our corral just as the Star Spangled Banner ended.  I was fastening the last pin on my number as our group shuffled toward the line, and we were off.

The weather could not have been more perfect for a race—it was 50 degrees and sunny at the start with a light, cool breeze.  My goal for the run was to do the 20 under 3 hours, and I was hoping the race atmosphere would keep me focused for a strong finish.  The course was just over two laps of the park, run clockwise (not the normal direction), presumably to emulate the end of the New York Marathon.  Looping that way, the hills are shorter and steeper, and I felt a little sluggish on the climbs for the first lap.  I tried to keep our pace right around 9’s, but like the Bronx run, the crowd and terrain made keeping a steady pace nearly impossible.  Also, LRB and I evidently don’t like getting passed.  Right around the start of lap two we caught the 1:55 pace group leader, who seemed to be running too fast and appeared to have largely lost his pack.  We decided to stick with him for a while, mainly just to outsource the pacing duties.  Maybe it was the psychological relief of knowing that I was ticking off each hill for the last time, but somehow during lap two I felt better and better with every mile.  We ended up passing 1:55 Guy a few minutes later and at that point I stopped checking the Garmin for the rest of the race.  I had a bit of a kick left for the finish, and by my watch it was 2:59:43 for 20.2 miles. I still haven’t come down from the high.

This week it’s on to the taper, and I’m planning to follow the Runners’ World recommendations here. I’ve never tapered for more than a few days for a half marathon, so I’m curious how I’ll handle two weeks.  If only I could apply all that excess energy and enthusiasm to cleaning out my closets.

-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 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.

 

 

September 9, 2014

Bikram Running

IMG_2060

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

 

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.

August 11, 2014

Relentless Forward Progress

You know those days when you feel light and fast and like you could run forever?  Sunday was not one of those days.  Last weekend I got really lucky with the weather for my long run, but this Sunday was hot, bright, and cloudless.  I prepared for my third 20-miler as well as I could–I hydrated and beet-loaded, filled my water bottle halfway and froze it, and got to bed early on Saturday.

The route was a variation on the usual Brooklyn to Central Park run.  I skipped Prospect this week and ran straight to the Brooklyn Bridge and up to Central Park, picking up my friend along the way.  From the north end of the park we peeled off to Morningside Park, enjoyed* the hills of Morningside Heights, cut across Columbia’s campus, and ran south along Riverside Park.  It was a beautiful day and a lovely route, but I really had to work for this one.  I probably started off a little too fast given the heat, but I think this was mostly just a case of having an off day.  Despite the struggle, I was happy that I was able to pull it together mentally enough to get through it.  I keep reminding myself that having a lackluster 20-miler is still something of an uptown problem, especially compared to a few years back when I was trying to fight through and IT band injury.

Sunday also marked the end of what I’m thinking of as my first major training block for the marathon.  Next week’s long run is only 15, and then I’m debating whether or not to squeeze in another  20 before the half marathon on Labor Day weekend.  From there on, I’m taking advantage of the NYRR fall race calendar to spice up my long runs.  As it stands right now, starting in September I’ll have a race every other weekend until the marathon.  That is not to say that I’ll actually be racing them, but I thought that it might help dispel some of the pre-race anxiety to make the starting line feel a little more routine.  It also gives me the chance to practice race day fueling and decide if I’m going to carry any of my own hydration for the marathon. It’s going to require some creativity to get the distances on my schedule in some cases, but I can always keep running after the finish line.

*By ‘enjoyed’ I mean, tried to convince myself that the burning in my quads was a unique gift from the universe, to be treasured and savored.

August 4, 2014

Only Happy When it Rains

The Caveboy has been away on business this week, so I’ve made destressing and catching up on some rest my priorities.  To that end, I’ve been meditating at least 10 minutes a day and trying to get as close to eight hours of sleep as I can.  My running schedule this week was:

Tuesday: Intervals – 12×400 @ 6:56 pace

Wednesday: Easy – Brooklyn Bridge run commute

Thursday: Tempo – 2 easy, 3 @ 7:54, 1 easy

Sunday: Long – 18 @ 9:17

I used to run the 400 when I ran track, so I was actually looking forward to the intervals this week.  They were fun, but tiring and Wednesday my legs felt pretty heavy.  I was not overly enthused about the gym and decided to run to work instead. It was a fairly cool morning and the beautiful day and views from the bridge more than made up for my general lethargy.  The tempo on Thursday wasn’t bad, and I skipped the easy run/cross train workout on Saturday and brewed beer instead.  (It’s a black saison, which is now bubbling away happily in the basement.)

Gray Manhattan Bridge View

On Sunday morning, the smell of the malt syrup and hops still lingered in the apartment when I left for my long run.  I was planning to do the Prospect-Central Park run again, but made a few adjustments to the route to avoid the New York Triathlon that was staging in Riverside Park.  Sunday was perfect summer run weather as far as I was concerned–overcast, light rain, and about 65 degrees.  I made good time through the Brooklyn section and started over the bridge around 8:20.  I saw a few police officers wielding orange flags as I passed the halfway point, but no one stopped me and there didn’t seem to be any blockades to pedestrian or bike traffic.  As I came down the slope to the off ramp in Manhattan, though, I saw a wall of runners forming a starting line up ahead.  Two bagpipers were piping away enthusiastically, and I figured the start was imminent.

Brooklyn Bridge 5K

 

I jumped up on a lamp pedestal behind a race photographer just as the gun went off, and waited 4-5 minutes while several hundred runners took off toward Brooklyn.  Once the flow had stemmed to a trickle of walkers, I jumped into the fray and made may way 100 yards upstream and off the bridge.  From City Hall Plaza it was a short jaunt across Chambers to the Hudson River Greenway.  I met a friend just before the turnoff to Columbus Circle and Central Park.

By the time we got there, the the triathlon run was in full swing and going the opposite direction we were, so we got to enjoy lots of cheering spectators and the energy of the triathletes as they entered the home stretch of their race.  I was able to finish strong through the Harlem Hills, and ended up averaging a 9:02 split.  Having someone to act as a pacer with fresh legs at the end of my long runs for the past few weeks has been a huge help, and I hope I’ll be able to maintain the same intensity without one in the race.  Then again, maybe I just need to make a fast friend on the run.