Posts tagged ‘Training’

April 9, 2015

Passover Running and a Squeaky Toe

The past few weeks have been a blur of deadlines, lots of training, and totally inadequate sleep.  By last Wednesday the cracks were starting to appear and I was starting to feel the warning signs of overtraining.  We were headed to Balitmore on Thursday to spend Passover with the Caveboy’s family, so I was looking forward to catching up on some sleep and having a good excuse to back off the 2-a-days.  We had a lovely holiday, but between the cooking and Seders I’m pretty sure I ended up more sleep-deprived that before.  I did manage to get some good runs, though possibly a little too good.

I’ve nearly eliminated easy runs from my schedule to make room for the biking and swimming, and the result has been that I’m now finding pacing much more difficult when I do have an easy day.  I went out for a 6-miler on Friday and a 7 on Saturday with the intention of keeping my heart rate down and running 9:30-10 minute pace.  The neighborhood around the Caveboy’s home is relentlessly rolling, though, and I found myself continually charging up hills, realizing it, and then trying to bring the pace down on the downhills, which never works.  On Sunday I had semi-tired legs and 12 miles at 8:13 pace on the schedule.  It was one of those days where I really wanted to have done my run, but not to actually do it.  For starters, nutrition was a challenge since most of my usual pre-run foods were not kosher for Passover.  While avoiding leavened bread and corn syrup has never been a major issue for me, we also further distinguish Passover meals from the rest of the year by preparing food with separate dishes and utensils.  That means no blender for smoothies, no GU’s, and no Accelerade.  I was hoping to scrounge up some honey packets, but had no success, so I ended up slicing up an orange, putting it in a zip-loc, and smooshing it into my running belt.  To quote Eric Cartman, “Now that’s what I call a sticky situation.”   I didn’t want to stray too far from the Caveboy’s, so I mapped out an annoying multi-loop neighborhood route which would at least avoid any major traffic.  It was overcast and windy and the loop turned out to be even hillier than I’d imagined.  According to the Garmin data, I had two climbs at 5%, and 1,100 feet of gain.  I had to do one section of it three times, which was demoralizing since I knew after the first one exactly how much it sucked.  Since the route was continuously up and down I tried not to look at the Garmin pace too much and just go by feel.  I spent most of the last loop telling myself to pull up my big girl tights and just get it done, which I eventually did.  The verdict was an average 8:14 split, with which I was pretty damn pleased.

I had noticed a weird sensation in the tendon in my big toe the day before, and after the long run I tried to figure out what was going on.  It didn’t hurt, but it felt like the tendon was sliding against something.  When I moved it I could feel friction and it was actually making a squeaking sound.  A visit to Dr. Google determined that this is actually a thing—it’s likely a form of tendonitis in which the sheath rather than the tendon itself is inflamed.  Dr. Google further recommended RICE, which was fine since I wasn’t planning to run on Monday anyway.  By Tuesday morning it was no longer squeaky, so I went ahead with my 5x1K intervals as planned.  Sure enough, post-run the squeak was back.  My initial instinct was to push through the rest of the week’s runs as scheduled since next week will be a taper before the More Women’s Half, but I may actually be getting smarter, because I reconsidered.  The half next week is not an A race, or really even a B race.  It’s too close to the NYC half to be much of a data point, and I’m doing it solely to get my 9 NYRR races in this year.  Risking injury to get a few more training runs in for a race that doesn’t matter is stupid.  I scrapped my Thursday tempo run in favor of a bike tempo, and may skip the 8-mile “long” run this weekend too.  I have a 4-mile race (again for my NYRR 9) on Sunday, but I will probably avoid additional running unless all systems are go.

 

On the Passover fueling front, when we got back from Baltimore this weekend I made a batch of my Passover-approved Caffeinated Quinoa, which has been my pre-workout breakfast all week.

 

Caffeinated Quinoa

1 cup water

1 cup strong black coffee

1 cup quinoa

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cocoa

½ tsp salt

 

  1. Combine water, coffee, salt, and quinoa in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Cover and simmer until all water is absorbed. (The quinoa is ready when the curlicues are visible.)
  3. Stir in cinnamon and cocoa.

 

Serve, or refrigerate for later.  Stir in milk, almond butter, nuts, dried fruit, etc if desired.

 

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March 13, 2015

I need a plan.

The New York Half is in two days and somehow I still have no game plan.  Despite the countless demi-marathons I’ve run over the years and having run the race last year, I just don’t have a  good feel for Sunday.  The fact that I’m returning from injury and have only been training for 5 weeks with limited mileage is the first question mark.  I’ve been hitting my paces on the intervals and tempos, but I do feel like my speed over distance suffered a bit with the time off for the stress fracture.  I’ve been putting in more training hours in the past few months than I ever have, but the bulk have been swimming, biking, and strength training.  Post-injury I’m still limiting my mileage only to the ‘quality runs,’ so my monthly totals are looking more like my weeklies were last year.   I feel like the change in training approach along with the added strength sessions has definitely made me leaner and given me more power in my legs, but the past few weeks have been almost like getting used to running in new body.

To top all of that off, I got hit with a cold this week, so my running didn’t so much taper as drop off a steep cliff.  I’ve been (for once) erring on the side of extra rest, so I did a short interval session Tuesday morning before the cold really set in, a brisk 3 miles Wednesday night in an attempt to shake the congestion loose, and another easy 3 on Thursday morning.  My last strength session was Monday and I’ve done no swimming or cycling this week.  I’m still feeling a little stuffy, but my five pronged defense of hot tea, Echinacea, vitamin C, bone broth, and frequent use of the neti pot seems to be working.

Still, the pacing question remains.  My last long run was an 8-miler, which I ran at 8:15 pace.  It felt quick, but not bad.  The half marathon A goal this season is sub 1:45, which basically means running 8 flats.  My gut tells me that’s probably a little too fast to sustain right now, but part of me wants to just go out like a Kenyan and let the chips fall where they may.  The course is fast—all the hills are in the first 5-6 miles through Central Park, and then it’s pretty much a gradual downhill to Battery Park.  That said, if I plan to negative split I’ll need to allow a little extra time for the terrain at the beginning and then really book it at sub-8 pace for the second half.  The Central Park hills aren’t that bad, but I know from experience that they can take their toll if you go out too fast.  My worry is that if I get caught up in the moment and take off at near 8’s through the park I’ll end up nursing a side stitch for the rest of the race.

So the real question is, how much can I actually handle right now? How fast is too fast in the park?  To add to the fun, thanks to my Garmin’s altoceloraphobia, last year I lost satellites for most of the stretch through Midtown, so I can’t really plan on reliable pacing once I hit the flat anyway.  In the end this race may be more of an exercise in just going with the flow.  Given the head cold and that it’s my first real race back since my injury, I think I’d be happy to run close to a PR (1:50:44), and then gun for 1:45 next month in the Women’s Half.  Still, the weather is looking pretty ideal—mid 40’s with some clouds, and I want to do my best and start the season on a high note.  This should be my first run in ages not done on tired legs, so maybe there’s still hope for some race day magic.

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.

January 30, 2015

Ups and Downs

It was that kind of week.

It was that kind of week.

You know those Time Warner Cable PSA’s that try to get kids interested in STEM subjects by relating them to sports?  I have a great idea for one:

“Running requires speed, strength, and endurance.  But did you know that it also requires basic arithmetic skills so that you don’t end up doing your tempo run 50 seconds per mile faster than you’re supposed to?  Well, it does.”

I’m still working on the ending.  I actually appreciate a good math error now and then, though.  (Not the Tacoma Narrows sort, but the more benign running-faster-than-I-thought-I-could kind.)  It was a good boost in what’s been an up and down couple of weeks.

Last Tuesday I did my first speed work since before the Brooklyn Marathon, and was thrilled to discover that I was able to keep up with my pre-injury interval paces without much trouble.  I banged out a solid 5-mile tempo run on Thursday and was still feeling some twinges in my foot, but by the weekend it was feeling almost back to normal.  On Friday I had my monthly strength session with my trainer, Kali, Destroyer of Worlds and Abs.  With all of the extra time spent not running for the past few months I had been putting in 2-3 strength sessions a week, and I was curious to see how I would fare this time.  My trainer is not easily impressed, though, and my hopes were not high.  After an hour of brutality, I finally earned a fist bump from her.  Go me.

Saturday I did an hour on the trainer bricked with a 4-mile run.  I had intended to go easy on the run, but I felt good and ended up running an 8:50ish pace.  I’ve been a little concerned that all the strength work might cost me some speed, but my core feels rock solid and I feel like I have much more power in my legs than before, so that’s all to the good.  Sunday was a 6-mile tempo on the treadmill bricked with a 30-minute swim, both of which felt great.  Monday I was back to strength training, as I’m determined to keep up the gains I’ve made.

Tuesday was supposed to be an interval run, which I would usually do on the treadmill.  Thanks to the Storm of the Century that Wasn’t, the gym was closed.  Brooklyn actually got about 7”, and I adore running in the snow, so happily set out with my Yak Trax.  I debated running to Prospect Park, which is really beautiful in the snow, but the 7-mile round trip seemed like a bit much.  In the end, I was happy I opted for a shorter run because my arch/big toe started hurting almost immediately.  There must have been something about the slight slippage that was intensifying whatever change there has been to my gait, and I ended up only doing 3 miles.  To make up for the missed speedwork, I did a 40-minute HIIT session on the trainer to round out the day.

Wednesday was a morning swim/ evening strength day, but I noticed when I was walking to a meeting for work that afternoon that I was rocking to the outside of my left foot to avoid putting weight on my big toe.  Not good.  I hoped it would be better for Thursday’s tempo run, but it was still tender that morning.  I vacillated, vacillated some more, and ended up deciding to swap Friday’s bike ride for the run.  I knew it was the smart thing to do—getting a secondary injury while coming back from the stress fracture is exactly what I’m trying to avoid.  I was still grumpy about it, though, and proceeded to try to set up my new Cat Eye Strada Smart before the trainer session so that I could start getting a sense of my power output.  This was all transpiring at 6 AM, mind you, so I was neither at my sharpest or most reasonable. I knew I didn’t realistically have time to get the bike computer set up, but I was still sulking about the run and resenting the whole situation.  I finally had to give up the set-up process at 7:10, which gave me exactly not enough time to get the full 40 minutes in and still get to work on time.  I also totally forgot that the Caveboy had a big thing at work that day until after he left and spent most of the ride feeling like a bad girlfriend.

That brings me to today and the miscalculated tempo run.  My foot was (thankfully) feeling better, and I was eager to get the tempo run in since I had missed running intervals this week.  I was supposed to be doing 4 miles at 8:10’s, but I obviously messed up somewhere because I set the treadmill to 8.2.  If you’re following along at home, that’s a 7:19 mile, which, for some perspective, is my mile repeat pace.  After the first mile I kind of knew something was up, but decided just to ride it out if I could.  I made it–probably with my heart rate higher than it should have been–but it was a huge confidence boost.  I did manage to finish getting the Strada set up on the bike last night (with the exception of calibrating the power output) so I’m looking forward to starting some more focused cycle training next week.  Until then, Go Pats!

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?

September 4, 2014

Swamp Thing

IMG_2035

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 20, 2014

Run for the Hills

Last week’s schedule went like this:

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Intervals – 4×1200 @ 7:13 pace
Wednesday: Easy – 3 @ 9:30ish (should have been 10’s)
Thursday: Tempo – 10 @ 8:47
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Easy – 4 @ 9:30ish (should have been 10’s)
Sunday: Long – 15 @ 8:59 (9:07 was goal)

 

The intervals were good, I had a lovely run to work on Wednesday, and Thursday I had to fit in a 10-miler.  I ended up running in the general direction of work, ditching my backpack along the way at the gym, and then running another 3.5 out and back to get to 10.  Around mile 5 I passed my long-run buddy going the other direction to his office, which is the sort of thing that makes me love the small town that is the New York running community.

 

As of this weekend, I am officially 8 weeks out from the marathon, which still feels like a long time.  Once I factor in the Dirt Dash, the Bronx 10-miler, and the taper, though, there’s really only five long runs left.  I’ve been trying to do a training assessment every few weeks to make adjustments, and my current consideration is whether to add more hill training.  I’ve been reading race reviews for Baltimore on Marathonguide.com, and the word “hilly” keeps coming up.  That in itself wouldn’t really concern me so much, but the fact that one person described it as “worse than San Franciso” does.  I ran the SF first half (i.e. the hilly part) twice, and it was brutal.  That kind of scared me straight and, being a numbers person, I decided to do a comparison with hard data.

 

Comparison.csv

According to Map My Run, the Baltimore course only has 536 feet of accumulated gain.  The SF first half has 1,052 feet, and the 20-miler route I’ve been running in New York has 852.  That seemed generally encouraging, but when I actually overlayed the elevation profiles, Baltimore does look a lot worse than my long run.  I also know that I’m much better at rolling hills than long, slow climbs, and I think it’s time to remedy that.

My general plan at the moment is to start substituting hill workouts for some of my interval days. To be honest, I’m not particularly jazzed about it.  I love the track, and although I feel like I’ve made my peace with hills this season, I am nothing close to a fan.  I do, however, want to be as prepared for this race as I possibly can be, and that means addressing my weaknesses.  Like a grown-up.  There’s also the added bonus that in addition to building climbing strength, reducing the punishment of track repeats should allow me to increase my weekly mileage a bit over the coming weeks, too.  I know it’s win-win, but I’m still kind of grumpy about it.

This morning I headed to my local hill of choice–Columbia Heights, which runs from DUMBO up to Brooklyn Heights.  The stretch I used is about a tenth of a mile long at 3% grade, so nothing crazy, but it was enough to make my quads burn.  I had an easy 2 mile warm up through Brooklyn Bridge Park, then did 6 repeats at what I’m guessing was about a 8:40 pace, and then 2 miles back home.  Ideally, I also need to find a long, slow climb I can run fartleks on as well, but I may have to make do on the treadmill for that.  I’m sure that will be just as much fun as it sounds.

This week goes thusly:
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Hill Repeats
Wednesday: Easy – 5? @ 10:00
Thursday: Tempo – 1 mi easy, 5 @ 8:47, 1 mi easy
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Easy – 5? @ 10:00
Sunday: Long – 16? @ 9:07

Also on the to-do list: Learn to love hills.

July 18, 2014

The Week So Far…

Things got a little deadliney at work this week, and while I did get all of my weekday workouts in, I haven’t had much time for anything else.  The schedule was thus:

Tuesday: Intervals – 2×1200 @ 7:13 pace, 4×800 @ 7:04 pace, with 2-min. recoveries [so. very. hard.]

Wednesday: Easy run – 3 miles

Thursday: Tempo – 1 mi easy, 5 @ 8:09, 1 easy [not bad]

Saturday: Easy run?

Sunday: Long – 20 @ 9:32

To be perfectly honest, I’m not all that excited at the prospect of another 20-miler at the moment.  To add some interest, I’ve decided a different route and a new playlist are in order.  On the up side, I was looking at my training calendar, and I think in a lot of ways, these past few weeks were one of the hardest chunks of the schedule.  Next week is a cut-back week, and the long runs in my next four-week cycle total 61 miles, as opposed to the 75 from this round.  I’m also giving myself a bit of a taper week before the Dirt Dash in Charleston, so that should break up the monotony as well.

I’m still trying to keep my weekly mileage below 35 right now, which historically has been a good number for me to improve without getting injured.  On that front, I’m also adding some weekly goals for strength training:

15 min of planks a week

Hip/pelvic stability work 5 days/week

Quality time with the foam roller 5 days/week

Relentless Forward Progress.

-ModC

July 8, 2014

Make Mine a Venti

fireworks1
Last week was crazy busy, with pre-holiday deadlines at work, getting ready for my parents, who were visiting for the weekend,  another friend saying with us on Monday night, capped off with prepping for work travel the beginning of this week.  By Friday I was definitely ready for a day off, and we made good use of it.  Before I moved here my parents had really only seen the touristy side of New York, so when they visit now I try to balance museums and the traditional highlights with neighborhoody local activities.  On Friday we walked Brooklyn Bridge Park and DUMBO, went to the Guggenheim, and watched the fireworks from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade.  I had planned to hit the gym for a quick XT session at some point, but according to my mom’s FitBit we walked almost 9 miles, so I figured that counted as active recovery.  Since my parents were leaving Sunday after lunch and I was getting on a plane to Florida on Sunday night, I decided to do my long run on Saturday morning.
Thanks to my foolproof alarm, Hungry Kitten (TM), I was up at 5:30 sharp.  In an effort to not wake my parents, I ground my coffee in the closet and put the Vitamix in the bathroom sink to make my pre-run butter coffee and smoothie.  Ah, New York apartment living…  I was out the door a little before 7 and headed down to Brooklyn Bridge Park.  I planned to meet my parents at Prospect later, which meant that I needed to cram in as many miles before I got there as I could.  It also meant that instead of my usual downhill finish home from the park, I’d be finishing on the hill up to Grand Army Plaza, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
This is one of my favorite public art works of recent memory.  It's a full-scale reproduction of a piece of the Statue of Liberty, in this case, her shoulder and raised arm.  If you look closely you can see the real thing to the left of the small pine tree in the background.

This is one of my favorite public art works of recent memory. It’s a full-scale reproduction of a piece of the Statue of Liberty, in this case, her shoulder and raised arm. If you look closely you can see the real thing to the left of the small pine tree in the background.

It was a gorgeous day and BBP was somehow spotless after hosting a crowd of hundreds of thousands the night before for the East River fireworks.  (Thank you, NYPD and Parks Conservancy!)  I tried to just relax and enjoy the view as I did two out-and-backs for a total of 8.5 miles.  I had a gel and then headed over to Prospect, about a mile and half from there, arriving at GAP on schedule at mile 10. The first lap went by quickly and the Mt. Prospect hill really wasn’t too bad.  The west side of the park was still in the shade, so I had a chance to cool down a bit for the first half of the second lap and refilled my bottle and had another gel at Lakeside.  The second run up the hill at the top of the loop was a little more arduous, but after a quick stop for water I took off for lap three.  I ran into my parents at the west gate, and we agreed to meet at Grand Army in 15-20 minutes.  That gave me no out for avoiding the last hill, which I figured was for the best.  I was really happy with how I was feeling; I was physically and mentally tired, but was still holding my form together and wasn’t having any major problems.  My left hip was a little achey and both knees were a touch sore, but on a run that long it’s really to be expected.  I was able to hold it together up the last hill (I think I even kept the pace at around 9 flat), and finished in 3:04:16.   I was feeling pretty low-blood-sugary by the end and I probably should have had a third gel, but I’ll chalk that one up to experience for next time. After finding my parents, I made them wait around for 10 minutes while I laid down under a tree and elevated my legs.
tree
I think the really good news from the 20-miler was that I was able deal with a full day of tour-guiding activities afterward and I really didn’t have any soreness the next day.  I am traveling this week, so I did an easy run last night and will do my intervals either tonight or tomorrow, depending on when I get to go home.
-ModC
June 24, 2014

Week 2.1 Recap and Queens 10K Race Report

I made it back from Florida on Thursday night, having gotten in two 5-ish mile runs while I was there.  Friday after work I went out for another easy 5, primarily to celebrate being reunited with my running bra collection.  (It was glorious.)  We had the Queens 10K for the Five-Borough Series on Sunday, so I planned to get in a cross-training session on Saturday to wrap up the cut-back week.  As it turned out, the Caveboy decided he needed to shake his legs out a bit on Saturday morning, though, so instead I joined him for another easy 4 in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

 

IMG_1877

On to the good stuff:

Race Stats:

Location: Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Finishers: 8,410
Weather: 67F / Overcast
My Course Rating: 6.5/Perfect Day in Central Park

The Pros:

+ Flat, fastish course
+ Proximity to Queens’ amazing ethnic food
+ Baggage check was conveniently located between Registration and the starting line
+ Plenty of parking

The Cons:

– Course itself is not particularly scenic
– Tight turns on crowded paths slowed the pack down a bit
– Despite abundance of parking, getting in and out of lots was incredibly slow

Sunday morning, after a sitting in a 15-minute traffic jam to enter the parking lot, we arrived none too early at the start.  The Caveboy and I were in different corrals, and we had decided to run this one separately.  I really had no plan for this race going in, but when I don’t have a particular time goal in mind, I usually just make a bargain with myself about how much I’m willing to suffer. That gives me some threshold for what counts as a cop-out without being too results-driven.  This time I decided that I was willing to practice dealing with a bit of pain during the race, but nothing that might linger and hamper my training schedule this week.  I had forgotten to check what my 10K PR was before the race, so to kill time in the corral I looked back in my Garmin history and determined that it was 51:11.  That was an 8:15 split, so I figured I would try to hold an 8ish pace for the first few miles and see how that felt.

I loves me an Olmstead park, and Flushing Meadows seemed lovely, but unfortunately the race course stayed mostly on the perimeter.   There really wasn’t much to see, so I mostly just focused on slowly picking off runners ahead of me.  I seemed to be able to hold about an 8:05 pace pretty comfortably, so I tried to hang there and push it to 7:55 when the field opened up a bit.  The weather was about as perfect as one could hope for this time of year–high 60’s with a light breeze and overcast for most of the race.  I felt good throughout, and really only had a bit of discomfort maintaining the pace for the last mile or so, which was an out-and-back with a pretty tight lollipop turn.  I still gave some guy who tried to pass me in the chute a good sprint to the line, and finished feeling tired but not wrung out.  My official time was 49:45, which is on pace with my last half and the predicted marathon finish I’m aiming for.

This week is pretty jam-packed if I do everything on the schedule:

Monday: cross-train
Tuesday: Intervals –
1200m @ 7:13 pace
1000m @ 7:09 pace
800m @ 7:04 pace
600m @ 6:58 pace
400m @ 6:53 pace
Wednesday: 8 miles with Caveboy’s office crew
Thursday: Tempo – 1 mi easy, 5 @ 8:24, 1 easy
Friday: Strength training with Kali the Destroyer
Sunday: 17 mi @ 9:32