NYC Half + Fresh Air Fund = Doing Good

Sure, the insanely popular* NYC Half Marathon is sold out, but you can still run in the footsteps of Catherine the Great and other fast ladies (and gentlemen) by signing up to run with the Fresh Air Fund. FAF is just one of a boatload of charities you can run for. Just think how good it will feel to run through the streets of NYC…in order to help a kid get a little break from the streets of NYC.

*And I do mean insanely popular. A race of over 10,000 run in the high heat and humidity of NYC in August? That fills up in a couple of hours? Along the West Side Highway? Yeah. Um. Insane.

Random observations from four days of faux-parenting

I spent some time last week and today playing host to my nephew, who is 12 going on 13. Here are just some of the things I learned:

Kids like to know how long it will take to get somewhere. Setting low expectations doesn’t help.

A child can block out all other ear-splitting ambient noise and is able to hear the single Guitar Hero game they are playing in an arcade.

Children find it highly amusing when you scream.

Crazy, ranting bag ladies at bus stops bring out my protective instinct.

A 12-year-old who consumes a large Monster energy drink will spew a frenetic stream of consciousness ramble for a good half hour — just like someone who’s totally coked up.

Loud plaids over loud t-shirts is all the rage in teen fashion right now.

Children find televised track meets just as tedious and dull as the adult members of the general public do.

Kids need protein fairly often or they get woozy.

No matter what the time of day, cereal is the perfect snack.

The Coney Island Sideshow is the city’s best entertainment value. And it’s family friendly.

Preteens need sleep. A lot of it.

Preteens also think everyone else around them is aware of them and everything they are doing.

It’s fun to expand a kid’s vocabulary. Some new words covered: manifesto, satire, parkway, origin/meaning of the phrase beyond the pale, assume vs. presume.

Kids forget that not everyone has the same area code.

It’s official: I’m completely effed up

I dutifully forwarded the last two weeks’ worth of SportTracks logs to Coach Kevin and got a reply shortly thereafter (I’m paraphrashing): “You are really messed up! Stop training right now.”

I’ve known my running was rapidly going from bad to worse, with the abysmal 8 mile race on Sunday being the cardiac Klieg light. But it was helpful to have a third party confirm this, with exclamation points.

It’s probably this iron/vitamin deficiency business, but there’s also a chance of some kind of weird overtraining effect at work. So I was told to run very easy this week, 3-5 mile sessions at most. Since I’m a woman of extremes (which is what got me into this mess in the first place), I’m going to up the ante by not running at all this week.

In the meantime, I’m huffing 27mg of Ferrochel, 1,000 mg of Vitamin C and 4,000 mg of Vitamin D on a daily basis. And rediscovering the pleasures of chicken livers, leafy greens and roasted pumpkin seeds. The cast iron cookware is getting a good workout too.

Now we wait and watch. I’m awaiting whatever modified training plan I’m to start on next week. Then we’ll set up some sort of pace vs. HR workout to do as a baseline for evaluating how I’m doing over the coming weeks.

This is so frustrating. I feel as though now, rather than spending the summer in preparatory mode for marathon training in the fall, I’m instead going to be just trying to get back to where I was in April, before things when all pear-shaped and running a 7:30 mile became a huge challenge.

The fact that something like this has happened probably shouldn’t surprise me so much. When I look back over my training, I realize that I’ve been working very hard and running at high mileage now — at least for a newcomer to competitive running — for two years, pretty much without a break. If I ever wondered what my limits were, at least in training, now I know.

It’s better than being injured, I suppose. But it still sucks.

Summer Basebuilding: Week 1

sum09-base-01Here we go again.

Now that the dark days of May (and somewhat drunken days of June) are behind me, it’s time to put nose to grindstone once again in preparation for the California International Marathon, taking place on December 7th. On that morning, at 7AM, I will run from Folsom to Sacramento. And I plan to run it a lot faster than an anemic 7:45 pace this time around.

Was my pace in Newport literally anemic? I’m beginning to think it may have been at least flirting with anemic the more I read about blood test results and after a couple of dismal performances in local races. In any case, I’m taking action to try to correct the problem via handfuls of iron and vitamins B, C and D.

I’m also working on dropping some fat during the coming weeks of basebuilding. I’ve found it impossible to lose any significant extra fat while actually in the throes of marathon training, but I’ve had luck doing so in the past during basebuilding. Throw in a pledge of complete sobriety until after Labor Day (since weekend drinking tends to derail the weight loss effort) and you’ve got either a recipe for success or misery.

I winged it last week since Coach Kevin was still off in the wilds of Colorado, basically taking an early week from our last go-round of basebuilding and modifying (okay, bastardizing) it. I also threw in a race yesterday, which didn’t go nearly as well as I’d hoped.

Highlights of the week: Lost of slow recovery running as I continued to try to become acclimated to the summer heat and humidity. On Wednesday I went to the track and attempted some faster running. It was quite hot and humid, though, so it was hard to run fast or particularly hard. I got my HR up to 92% but found that my lungs gave out before my heart did on those efforts.

Yesterday I did an 8 mile race, the Putnam County Classic, which I’d thought would be flat, as the majority of the course was running around a large lake. But it was actually quite hilly, with lots of sharp ups and downs and very little flat bits. The weather was very nearly ideal, at least for a race in July: 65-70F and dew point around 58 or so. Since I’ve been racing so badly lately I decided to just run the whole thing by effort and not even look at pace during the actual race, since I’ve found it so depressing to do so. It’s hard to keep running the remaining miles when you know how slow you’re going.

I ran at as high an effort as possible, which averaged 93% MRH, although I did finish up the last half mile at 95%. Still, I was slloooowww. I was not happy to see a time well over an hour upon reaching the finish line. All I could muster was an average 7:40 pace. Barely faster than I could run for 18 miles five weeks ago in Oregon. Sheesh, it’s so depressing to see how far I’ve fallen, and continue to fall.

I should note that I’ve become a chronic napper lately. I needed a 3 hour nap on Friday (thank goodness it was holiday for the company I contract for and I’d already put in my work hours for the day). Then another yesterday post-race (not quite as surprising). It’s probably a reaction to the increased mileage + heat/humidity running + two races in eight days. Still…uh…what the fuck is wrong with me?

Today I felt okay and the weather was fantastic: mid-60s and an unheard of July dew point of 48. I had to take advantage of it since it will be hotter than Hades soon enough. So I did a hair short of 16 miles up past White Plains at a halfway decent pace.

My experience over the past few weeks has shown me how performance issues can sneak up on you. Everything can seem fine during regular “bread and butter” runs like recovery and long, steady distance efforts. The problems only make themselves known — and in quite dramatic fashion — when trying to run fast, or at least they do for me.

I may do a few more races over the summer if the weather isn’t horrible, just to try to gauge if taking supplements is helping at all. There’s a nine miler later this month that I might try, as well as the Van Cortlandt Track Club’s summer series of 5K races on Thursday evening. And I’ll definitely do the 10 miler I do every September in South Nyack, the weekend after Labor Day. I really hope I’m in better shape by then. I ran that one in 1:14:20 last year (with 80 miles on my legs already going in). I’d love to break 1:09 this time around.

Don’t get me wrong — I know so many people right now who are struggling with injuries and who can barely run at all. I’m grateful that I can run. I just wish I could run fast again.

Running the bloody numbers

I don’t know why this should surprise me, but I’ve received feedback on the order of “so, when are you going to post your bloodwork results?!” I’d thought that was way too much detail to share, not that I mind sharing it.

It is interesting to compare numbers to other athletes, although as the saying goes, “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” Without knowing a lot about what the numbers really mean, well, it’s hard to know what the numbers really mean.

So without further adieu, here’s what’s going on in me that is not visible to the naked eye. I’m just sharing the highlights, not every single reading.

Note that test reference numbers are based on the subject’s age, gender, etc.. So you may have a completely different set of “normal” criteria if you go get these tests done for yourself.

Thing measured           Result           Reference
                                          (Lab's "normal" range)

Blood pressure           108/59           Damned good!
Pulse rate               45               Sweet!

CBC/Platelet
  WBC                    4.4              4.0-10.5
  RBC                    4.17             3.8-5.1
  Hemoglobin             13.3             11.5-15.0
  Hematocrit             39.8             34.0-44.0
  MCV                    95               80-98
  MCH                    31.9             27.0-34.0
  MCHC                   33.5             32.0-36.0
  Platelets              259              140-415
Iron and TIBC
  TIBC                   456 (high)       250-450
  UIBC                   353              150-375
  Iron, Serum            103              35-155
  Iron Saturation        23               15-55
  Ferritin, Serum        35               10-291

Vitamins (ordered on suspected deficiency)
  Vitamin D              36.4             32.0-100.00
  Vitamin B12            456              211-911

Lipid Panel (for shits and giggles, and gloating rights)
  Cholesterol, Total     143             100-199
  Triglycerides          54              0-149
  HDL Cholesterol        71              >39
  VLDL Cholesterol       11              5-40
  LDL Cholesterol Calc   61              0-99
  LDL/HDL Ratio          0.9             0.0-3.2

Discuss.

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