Training: June 5-18

The patient slog through injury continues.

Nothing happened June 5-11. My log that week is a wall of yellow that says “INJURED.” I do credit myself for sticking to my plan to do core work twice a week, and I managed to keep that up this week as well. Guess what I’m doing this evening? That’s right: core work!

I have a set of exercises I do (around 12) for my core. The current print issue of Running Times has a few other good ones, so I’ve added in another 4-5. I also do some arm/shoulder work with dumbbells, since I have the weakest biceps known to man. I know I don’t need bulging biceps to run well, but I would like to one day do at least one pull-up. A girl can dream.

All of this takes me about an hour. I watch “Locked Up Abroad” or “My Strange Addiction” while doing my routine. Both of these shows always make me feel a lot better about my life than I did before I watched them.

There’s some light on the horizon, at least compared to earlier in the month. I was able to at least start jogging again this week, although my right calf does not like to go faster than 9:00 pace. It doesn’t like uphill either. Nor does it like flat bits. It loves downhill sections, which comprise around 3% of the terrain I run on.

But, you know, I ran 18 miles. That’s a start. See? Positive attitude. The new me. I can run. That’s more than I could do the previous week. The pain is now just a dull ache, and I’m encouraged by the fact that it doesn’t get worse over the course of a run. If I stop every mile or so and stretch my calf, it seems better by the end of the run. I’ll keep doing that.

I’m throwing out the 10K plan for now. It’s still there in my log, but I don’t look at it. What’s the point? I don’t dare do any faster running until the pain is totally gone. When I get back to the training, I may experiment with a 9 or 10 day training cycle, since I don’t think my body tolerates doing three hard workouts a week.

I have rough plans to do the 2-Person Relay (with Jonathan) in Van Cortlandt Park, a 4 mile XC race (it would be my first XC effort) on Thursday July 7, assuming there isn’t a fire drill on my current freelance project that requires I stay late; if there is, I might swap that for the Women’s Distance Festival 5K two days after that on Saturday the 9th. But this is assuming I can even run fast and free of pain soon. That’s a big question mark.

I still hope to compete in the Run for Central Park 4 miler in a month. If I’m not running fast by then…well, let’s not go there.

Here are some good things that are happening:

The summer has been pretty nice so far. Or maybe it just seems that way because I’m not out running much, or when I am it’s about 5:30 in the morning. Aside from a few scorchers, it’s been in the upper-70s to mid-80s most days. So I’m appreciating the season.

I’m able to get home at a reasonable hour most days and have been throwing food on an outdoor Weber I got for my birthday. I find the process of preparing the grill extremely relaxing and gratifying. I sit outside while the bricquets heat up, staring at the fire. I clean the grill later on. I research new grill recipes. I think I might actually be a guy.

My stepmother is on the road to recovery after her near-death, then near-permanently-fucked-up experience over the past two months. She sounds completely back to herself on the phone and she’s been told not to worry about doing any physical therapy, just walk a lot, lift things, etc. I’m still awestruck by her luck and resilience.

Jonathan ran his second race in a year today, and ran fairly well considering the lack of conditioning. He’s not happy with his time, of course, but that will improve. His foot is still stiff and he suspects that will always be the case. But he’s racing without foot pain for the first time in about 16 months. This is a good thing.

Finally, I’m losing poundage in the form of fat. I’ve been holding off on posting about it because the effort is ongoing and has involved quite a bit of experimentation (and deprivation). But I’ll have a full accounting of the good, the bad and the ugly once I reach my target weight of 125.

Here’s some video of the Portugal/Father’s Day run this morning. Jonathan flits through at the 7:35 mark (small, full head of grey hair, glasses, plain blue singlet, stopping watch). That’s NYRR head honcho Mary Wittenberg off to the left. There was some noise about her leaving NYRR to head up USATF awhile back, but, honestly, I can’t see her ever leaving this job. She so obviously enjoys interacting with the runners — all of them, not just the elites — as they come over the line. Much of that action is off camera, but I thought it worth noting since I was so struck by it this morning.

Training: May 22-28

Yeah, so I’m back to into it, officially doing 10K-specific training now. I am also back to self-coaching at the moment, not owing to any displeasure with what Coach Sandra had me doing, but because we’ve not been in much contact lately and I couldn’t really afford to wait around for guidance.

I looked around for a 10K plan and settled on this one from RunningPlanet.com. A few others I looked at didn’t seem to have a lot of variation in the track work. I like all the different workouts here — short repeats, mile repeats, ladder workouts, plus lots of tempo running and a smidgen of hill work — as well as the fact that I could easily slot in several races as logical replacements for certain workouts. Clearly, it was meant to be. So this is my plan.

Since I started my new gig in Manhattan on Friday, I had to do my first Ungodly Hour workout. I was at the Bronxville track at 5:00 am sharp. Amazingly, there was a guy (he looked bulky, like a sprinter) just leaving as I was arriving. Then I had the place to myself until about 5:45, at which point I was finishing up. It was nice to be there alone, save for one rabbit who raced me for about 20 metres along the backstretch.

I was able to function well for the rest of the day. I think the key to getting runs in early is going to be getting to bed early. Easier said than done. Or, rather, I can go to bed as early as I like; it’s getting to sleep that’s the challenge.

The workout went pretty well considering the extremely high humidity and that fact that I had no idea what kind of shape I’m in. 800s were in the 3:30 range and 200s in the 00:42 range. That’s about where I was in cooler weather a couple of months ago, so I have not lost any appreciable level of fitness, at least at the shorter distances. I think doing some faster stuff every week has helped maintain speed.

But I’m gonna get faster. I have some very aggressive goals for the year, although I will not share them.

The schedule’s pretty easy for the first month — just two workouts a week. After the Mink 10K on June 11, things start to heat up and I’ll be moving to three hard runs a week. I’ve modified the schedule for race weeks, usually, putting in a mini taper. I’ll be able to run the Mini, a Central Park 4 miler, a Van Cortlandt Park 2 miler (or a 5K up in Rockland, depending on work shedule) and, to cap off this cycle, the Team Championship 5 miler in August. Then I go into around 6 weeks of training for the mile.

Mileage will average in the high-30s to mid-40s, increasing just as my current project commitment (and need to commute) should end. I suspect I’ll have a lot of treadmill running in my future, but that’s fine. I’m doing core work at home, on the living room floor, twice a week. I will work in at least one weight session at the gym on weekends (another mid-week if time permits).

I think this is doable.

Race Report: Scotland 10K Run (squeak!)

My Low Expectations World Tour 2011 continues. And it’s going well.

I ran just under 45:00 (44:59), a 19 second PR for the 10K (my previous one being on the same course at the Mini 10K in June). I had no expectations for today, and no goals other than to race hard. While I wore my simple Timex and took splits, aside from mile split 3 (which I saw by accident when trying to locate the button), I did not look at the watch until crossing the finish mat.

Today was a near-perfect day for racing: wind chills in the upper 40s, overcast, not humid, and almost no discernible wind. I even had all my usual pre-race events that are indicative of racing success: a plumbing crisis yesterday, nightmares about our house being flooded, terrible insomnia and a messed up GI system in the morning. Seeing those bags under my eyes in the mirror, I thought, “Damn. You’ll run well today.”

I’ll cut to the chase. Since NYRR was doing a much better job of enforcing corral placement today, I was able to get up toward the front of the second corral, and crowding was not an issue after the half mile mark. I guess it wasn’t an issue at all, since it was my fastest mile.

The splits: 6:58, 7:11, 7:10, 7:37, 7:10, 7:17; 1:32. Mile 4, which comes around the top of the park, the second of two big hills, always kills people. I passed a lot of people in mile 5, which I was surprised to see the split for, since it felt like I was crawling through that mile. There was a lot going on in my head at that point in the race. I was getting very tired, but telling myself, “The weather is perfect and no one’s in your way; you have no excuse not to apply yourself.” But I was also aware of how spent I was between mile 5 and 6, so much so that I am now seriously doubting my ability to race a half marathon in three weeks. I’ll have to see how things go.

Nevertheless, I was happy with the effort and a PR is always a good thing, although I have run a faster 10K segment in a half marathon (the 43:00 range) way back in 2008. But I am coming back and it’s early days yet. Not looking at the watch helped, although at times I was dying to see how I was doing. I will keep racing blind in this way, since I’m finding that doing so removes a whole dimension of stress, especially in the final miles.

Stats: I was 7th in my AG (there’s a guy from Australia mixed in with us in the results), 132nd (or maybe 131st, given the guy) out of close to 4,000 chicks. Second New York Harriers masters woman (there were only two of us out there today). The big news is that Jonathan raced today too, his first race in 10 months. Given that he’s just started running hard again and his mileage is quite  low, he did not have great expectations either. But he ran without foot trouble and I consider that a major victory.

I saw lots of Harriers both on the course and out spectating. It does help to get acknowledged, even if I’m in danger of keeling over if I try to say anything in response. I also saw many kilts. Was there anything under them? I’m not sure, but thinking about that was a fun distraction while nearly puking my way to the finish. Two Front Runners guys effectively served as my pacers today. I thanked them afterward.

After the race we headed over to Ditch Plains on 82nd and Columbus for brunch with fellow New York Running Show co-hosts TK, Joe, Brenn (and his lovely wife and cute baby) and Steve. There, I eagerly shoveled eggs Benedict into my face, followed by s’mores. The shoveling has continued through the afternoon.

Training: Mar 27-Apr 2

What a weird week. I was sick all week with a cold that kept flaring up and then ebbing. On Tuesday I went out for a progression run that went okay (I was running 7:30 at around 86% effort — I wore my heart rate monitor for the first time since the summer), but my hamstring went nuts toward the end. That was annoying. And worrisome. I wish this thing would just work itself out, but I think it’s going to take awhile.

I rolled, stretched and massaged the living daylights out of it that evening. I’ve learned that this is what I must do now: tend to it. Usually, all is forgiven within the next 24-48 hours.

Wednesday was Zen on the Track Day. That was a good session.

I was supposed to do two 6 mile recovery runs on Thursday, but I questioned the wisdom of that plan. The first run went okay, but the second one was just painful. Since I could not see how running 6 miles on exhausted, aching legs was going to help, I cut the run short at 4 miles.

On Friday my cold peaked and I felt very low energy. I had a 9 mile recovery run scheduled but couldn’t imagine running a mile. So I took the day off. I do this now and I think it’s a good thing. I don’t worry about getting overtrained anymore and, in fact, I see some evidence that my training is actually going pretty well.

I was still dragging on Saturday, but I forced myself out to run anyway. I had 14 x 1 minute surges scheduled. I saved those for the last possible point in the run, doing them over the final 2.5 miles. It was windy. I was not into it at all. But I did all 14 of them and was pretty darned proud of that.

This week’s workouts have been surprisingly good. So much so that I am now worried about Sunday’s 10K. Things seem to be going so well — I expect some sort of cosmic payback this weekend. I am trying to push those worries aside. I will be trying for Zen in Central Park.

Finally, let me offer my apologies to the reader who submitted a comment on my March 30 post with some thoughtful observations about running without goals and, often, without a watch, and the potential for personal liberation in these decisions. It got flagged as spam and then in a spastic move I managed to trash it. Thanks anyway. It was nice of you to comment. If you want to try again, I’ll try not to screw it up this time.

Oh, also, yesterday I had a really good birthday, which included several phone calls from family and friends; a few really sweet cards; some snazzy new earrings; free money; and…flowers! And we had some leftover cake and wine from our weekend celebration. I got to make another wish. I don’t feel any older. Just happier.

Training: Mar 20-26

Another uneven week. I had a horrible run last Sunday, owing to exhausted legs and a hamstring that seems to now reliably conk out after about 10 miles. I look it easy after that run and was rewarded for my patience and discipline with an extremely good speed session on Wednesday.

More rest and recovery followed, and then I hit Central Park to again try for a 13 miler. I decided to take it easier yesterday, since I think shooting for 8:00s is too ambitious at this point. Maybe that — in combination with the hills — is what’s straining my problem hamstring and adductor.

I parked on 108th and Madison only to discover that I’d not only forgotten my Garmin, I’d forgotten to bring any watch. I wasn’t about to drive all the way home, so I went and did the run, watchless. It was actually very liberating, not knowing how fast or slow I was going. I did take note of the time when I left the car and when I got back and figured (allowing for walking, MP3 player fiddling and other forms of dawdling during the run) that I was probably running around 8:40. That’s not terrible, and it’s reasonable for a long run pace.

But. Ugh. My hamstring/adductor again started giving me trouble right around the 11 mile mark. I had to walk for a bit. This issue is annoying and worrisome. I don’t have a lot of confidence that I can race hard for 13+ miles anyway. Now the spectre of nagging injury has been added into that worry mix.

It’s taking a long time to build up endurance. It amazes me that in 2009 I was regularly running 15 miles mid-week and doing 18-22 on Sunday. I don’t think I could even run 18 miles at this point. The good news is, I don’t have to. Yet.

Over the next two weeks leading up to the Scotland 10K I have no long runs scheduled. The longest one is 10 miles. I’ve got a 14 miler a week after that race and then that’s it for long runs until the Long Island half on May 1.

So how far I can run without issue is going to be something of a mystery come May. Perhaps the avoidance of longer runs will help the problem area calm down. I have no idea.

I picked up a bug this week, some kind of throat crud that doesn’t know if it wants to turn into a real cold or not. So I’m low energy today and taking cold medicine that is just making me feel cruddier. I was supposed to run easy today and take tomorrow off, but I’m switching those around and spending the rest of today on the couch.

This week I have a progression run of 10 miles, a speed session that I can only describe as nightmarish and then a fartlek run on Saturday for a total of 54 miles. Next week is a pre-race week, so the mileage is low, but there’s still some hard work in there.

My love affair with Warren Zevon came into full bloom yesterday in Central Park. Here’s the mix.

Zevon Memorial Mix

Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner
Excitable Boy
Veracruz
Tenderness On The Block
I’ll Slow You Down
Back In The High Life Again
Finishing Touches
Suzie Lightning
Angel Dressed in Black
Searching for a Heart
Sacrificial Lambs
Basket Case
Genius
I Have To Leave
My Ride’s Here
Desperados Under The Eaves*
Let Nothing Come Between You
Sentimental Hygiene
Boom Boom Mancini
The Factory
Trouble Waiting to Happen
Reconsider Me
Detox Mansion
Bad Karma
The Heartache
Looking For The Next Best Thing
Splendid Isolation
Nobody’s In Love This Year
Backs Turned Looking Down The Path
Poor Poor Pitiful Me
Mohammed’s Radio
*This track is off the collection Preludes: Rare and Unreleased Recordings. It’s a stark, much more raw-edged approach to the song than what came out of the studio version on his eponymous album (and which featured Carl Wilson on backing vocals, along with strings that are a little over the top, in my humble opinion). I like this version much better.

What’s been going on, as presented in Warren Zevon song titles

I’ve been rediscovering Warren Zevon lately. If you have no idea who he is, then look him up and discover for yourself his uniquely sardonic yet humane — and always highly literate — musical take on things. He’s dead, by the way. Before succumbing to lung cancer in 2003, he produced one of my favorite quotes: “Enjoy every sandwich.”

So here’s a Zevonesque take on what’s happening in my life, running and otherwise.

Although we’ve had bits of snow and sleet lately, it is officially spring, even if the weather hasn’t gotten with the program yet. We’ve been able to run Backs Turned Looking Down the Path now that it’s clear of snow, although on many days we’ve also had to Hasten Down the Wind. For the most part I’ve been running in Splendid Isolation because, as I’ve said to Jonathan, “I’ll Slow You Down.”

We traded one lost hour for longer days last weekend. And one night last week They Moved the Moon. Or at least they claimed it was bigger than it would be in another 18 years. Does that mean it was closer? I’ve seen “bigger” harvest moons in the summer, so I was not impressed.

My workouts have spanned the spectrum from lousy to great. Maybe it’s Bad Karma, or just the usual training Turbulence, but I don’t quite feel like I’m training with the consistency I’d like. On the other hand, I can usually come up with reasons for why a workout Ain’t That Pretty At All. For example, I had a scheduled 13 miler in Central Park on Sunday that was, in hindsight, Trouble Waiting to Happen. After a ridiculously hard speed session Thursday, followed by ridiculous weight work and spinning the following day, my legs were dead. I was also at my hormonal low point, and always run like shit on that day. Not surprisingly, my planned 8:00s were rapidly turning into 9:00s. Then my right hamstring and adductor had tandem hissy fits. Poor, Poor Pitiful Me. I cut the run short at 11 and told myself, “You’re a Whole Different Person When You’re Scared. So stop it. You no longer need to let one workout define things. It doesn’t mean you’re headed for a Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School. Don’t worry about it.”

So sure, My Shit’s Fucked Up on some days, but not always. On Wednesday, two days ago, I had a mysteriously great track session. We got up to find it sleeting. I packed my spikes. The Bronxville track was devoid of people and the sleet/drizzle/shizzle stopped. It was cold, but not too. And there was almost no wind to speak of. All I needed for a good session was the right attitude, because everything else was in place.

Attitude was important because I was assigned 1K repeats. Seven of them. How was I going to do seven when I couldn’t even do four of them two weeks ago? One thing I like about working with Coach Sandra is that she doesn’t assign paces. She trusts that I know the right effort to run and that my splits will just reflect where I am on that day. I may be “slower” or “faster” than expected. I may be running supernaturally well or running like dog shit. What matters isn’t the splits in one workout; what matters is doing the work every week and getting faster relative to effort over the course of an entire training cycle. And if that isn’t happening, figure out why and make immediate adjustments. Maybe that’s obvious already, but I think it’s pure Genius.

I ran the first conservatively, as I always do, to see how I was feeling. 4:15. But I knew I could do a little harder. The next six were: 4:11, 4:10, 4:12, 4:11, 4:11, 4:10. Rests were 1:28-1:50. I attacked those repeats like Boom Boom Mancini. This gives me some confidence that I’ll be able to fly over the Central Park hills like An Angel Dressed in Black in a couple of weeks at the Scotland 10K. If I can’t do that, I’ll be Looking for the Next Best Thing, which is just to put in an effort that I can be proud of.

Jonathan did the workout with me (although his splits were more in 3:30 territory) and had an equally good set. This made him into an Excitable Boy indeed.

It’s hard to know if my perceived gains in speed and endurance are Real or Not, but I’m trying to Roll with the Punches (like I did after my night spent hugging the Porcelain Monkey) and not be too much of a Basket Case about adhering perfectly to the schedule.

Later that evening we attended a A Certain Girl‘s birthday celebration in Manhattan and neither of us was too tired out to enjoy ourselves. It was a late night, but I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead. My own birthday is in a couple of weeks. Will 46 be a Wild Age for me, or will I evolve into a Model Citizen? I think I’d like to remain a Renegade and work on turning Jonathan into more of a Mr. Bad Example and less of a Worrier King. We’ll be celebrating at home because MacGillicuddy’s Reeks.

Our home has become something of a Detox Mansion (“I’ve been raking leaves with Liza! Me and Liz clean up the yard!”). We’ve finished up all of our wine and booze, which I’m not planning to replace, and when the beer dwindles I restock with only a sixpack or two, which takes us forever to get through. This means I’m a total lightweight, something I shall have to be careful about when we head off to search for the Werewolves of London in May, shortly after we run the Long Island Half (please, Don’t Let Us Get Sick). I won’t be bringing Lord Byron’s Luggage; the fees are too outrageous. My Mama Couldn’t Be Persuaded to visit us in April, so they’ll be here in June. That means we have to do something about the Disorder in the House before then.

Whoops. Laissez-Moi Tranquille. I Have to Leave. My Ride’s Here.

Training: Mar 13-19

This was a week that started out rough and then got progressively better as the days wore on. I made a lot of adjustments this week.

After a bout of food poisoning on Sunday, I was in no shape to run on Monday. In fact, I was barely in shape to get out of bed, so poorly did I feel. I had hoped to do a the scheduled harder run on Tuesday early in the day, but my stomach was still not right. Plus I had to spend much of the day on a trip into Manhattan to meet with a client.

By the afternoon things were a little less iffy, although I was still not feeling great. But I went out and did that run, since it only called for a few fast minutes at the end, and now that we’re back on daylight savings time (or off it…whatever), I had no excuse not to go running. I did not bother timing anything since the whole thing was slow. Between being sick and then not having eaten much, I was not at my best. But I did my best.

Thursday featured a brand new speed workout. I won’t go into details, but I will say that it consisted of interval combinations, a longer one followed by a very short recovery jog, followed by a shorter one at all out effort, then a little longer recovery. I did four of these. Jonathan came to the track and did them too. Our legs were so trashed afterwards that we could barely run the 1.6 miles home. The PM run that day was actually funny: 11+ minute miles and lots of walking.

Legs were still trashed on Friday, so much so that I had to cut the planned 5 miles short. I went to the gym and whaled on my legs again with weight work and a short but intense spin.

While my legs were better yesterday, it was insanely windy again, plus I had not dressed warmly enough, which made the recovery run feel like hard work. I have a 13 miler in Central Park later today, so I figured it wasn’t going to help me today if I ran too hard yesterday. I again cut the run short.

Some news: I have cut The Nutrionist loose. I had told myself that I’d give her 3-4 months and if no progress had been made, I’d stop. I’ve really not made much progress in that time, which has been incredibly frustrating. I just haven’t felt that she has acknowledged the lack of progress, nor has she offered any real explanations or remedies. I’ve tracked calories in/out during the time, obviously, as well as micronutrients and timing. I have spent hours analyzing it (which I felt was something she should be doing, but didn’t seem to be) and have a theory that going extremely low fat may be one thing to experiment with, based on subtle patterns. But, Jesus Christ, this is like reading tea leaves.

Anyway, I can be mystified on my own for free. After a year+ of injuries, weird weight stuff, mood disorder reemergence, and other unsolved mysteries, I’m completely burnt out on (and feeling burned by) the entire world of “experts” at the moment. As a result, I won’t be sitting in waiting rooms and writing any more large checks for now. I cannot say the same for Jonathan as he continues to struggle with his foot and another annoying (non-running) problem that has thus far involved several specialists, lots of tests — and no answers. As for me, aside from the occasional shard of generic Ambien, I’m off all medications. I’ve stopped drinking — meaning drinking drinking — save for about 2-3 beers a week. We’re saving a fortune in booze/wine and CVS prescriptions! I’m reading books. I’m taking vitamins and so-called natural supplements. It’s self-help or bust. Let’s see what happens.

In other news: blogger reunions or blogger first dates are kicking into high gear. First there’s a Green Mountain Relay reunion to look forward to. And then a few virtual blogger friends, Flo from Philly and Ewen from Down Under, are coming into town in July. I hope we don’t all hate each other. I don’t think we will.

Also, I’m getting excited about the Scotland 10K race. Probably more than I should allow myself to be, since it’s only three weeks away and I don’t feel at all prepared. But with my new lowered expectations approach to racing, I am anticipating at least putting in a good effort and having a good time. If I can get a good finishing time in the process, that’s a plus. But it’s not the primary goal. I’m not even thinking about the Long Island Half on May 1, as that’s just too scary.

Training: Mar 6-12

I realized just now that I did three hard workouts, plus a race, this week. That probably wasn’t the smartest way to schedule things — and I take responsibility for this schedule. In reintroducting Coach Sandra’s original schedule for the summer, I wanted to get back to doing long runs on Saturday. This seemed as good a week to shove that run up a day as any.

As usual, the workouts this week were a mix of gratifying and disappointing. But I won’t label anything as a “bad workout” for reasons previously stated.

So. Coogan’s went pretty well. Then, with only a day’s recovery — which featured 10 miles of running — I headed up to the streets of Scarsdale (since our running path was flooded) for a progression run. My legs felt dead that day and I nearly abandoned the run. Or, well, kind of. My thought process moved from “I’m going to cut this short at 5 miles” to “Maybe I’ll make this a recovery run” to “I’ll run a decent pace, but drop the 2 fast miles” to…”Well, goddammit, I’m gonna run those last 2 miles hard.”

Why did I make this decision? For one, my legs began to feel better after about 4 miles and I was naturally picking up the pace anyway. For another, Coach’s rule is: if I can’t do the workouts in a given week, I have to go back and repeat that week until I can. I hate repeating weeks.

It worked out and I did better than expected: Mile 7 was 7:36, run into a stiff headwind; Mile 8 (wind assisted) was 6:50.

Thursday’s speed session was nothing to write home about, but I’m calling it close enough to count. Coach said I should have either deferred the workout to Friday or substituted a fartlek run (as she instructed me to do, but I ignored, because I’m a weirdo and I happen to like 1K repeats, at least when they’re going well).

I took yesterday completely off. No running. No cross-training. Nothing. And I’m glad I did because today’s 12 miler in Central Park was a satisfying run indeed. After a 9:20 warmup mile I was solidly in 8:15-8:20 territory. There were several miles run well under 8:00.

The last mile was ridiculous: 6:59. I did not intend to run it that fast, but as I was coming off the north section of Museum Mile, ready to hit the downhill before the 102nd St. Transverse, I passed a guy. He did not like being passed. So he caught me. I did not want him to pass me. So we both kept running faster and faster. Soon we were racing. At one point my watch said I was on pace for a 6:20 mile. This was getting silly (and I was getting out of breath). So I let him “win.”

But the funny thing was, once he got a few feet ahead of me, he slowed to around 7:10 pace and I was still about a meter behind him. When we hit the downhill around the top of the park, I decided to open up. I felt good and I was half a mile from the 12 mile mark, so why not. I passed him again, tearing past him down the hill. He looked a little annoyed. Or maybe I surprised him. But he didn’t race me this time. Average pace for the run was 8:07. I want to get that below 8:00 by the end of the month.

Today featured yet another new mix. But I ran so fast that I didn’t get through it. The Keane and Nick Drake were good for the drive home.

Long Run Too

Consequence – The Notwist
Handson Us – The Notwist
Lover’s Spit – Broken Social Scene
Texico Bitches – Broken Social Scene
Kids (Soulwax Mix) – MGMT
Flash Delirium – MGMT
Our Time Has Passed – Pernice Brothers
She Heightened Everything – Pernice Brothers
Barely Legal – The Strokes
Alone, Together – The Strokes
Human – Pretenders
Popstar – Pretenders
Untitled – Social Distortion
Far Side Of Nowhere – Social Distortion
Finer Feelings – Spoon
My Little Japanese Cigarette Case – Spoon
Breaking Into Cars – The Raveonettes
Heart Of Stone – The Raveonettes
Some Might Say – Oasis
The Shock Of The Lightning – Oasis
60 Miles An Hour – New Order
Regret – New Order
Hold It – Marshall Crenshaw
Right On Time – Marshall Crenshaw
Perfect Symmetry – Keane
The Lovers Are Losing – Keane
Which Will – Nick Drake
Pink Moon – Nick Drake

Listen on Rhapsody

Training: Feb 20-26

This was a week of “firsts in a long time”: first tempo run outside, first speedwork session, first run over 10 miles, first week over 50 miles.

I spent a fair amount of time this week experimenting in order to answer some basic questions here, at the start of a new training cycle. How fast should I run 1K intervals? How much running should I do the day after a tempo run? Is it a good idea to do some spinning the evening before a long run?

I am also trying to reintroduce some regular core strengthening work, since I am aware of how weak I am after I hit about the 8 mile mark on a run. My back is not happy the next day, so I need to work on the muscles that keep me upright. Have I mentioned how dreary and uncomfortable core work is? I hate doing it. But it sure beats pool running. Everything’s relative, I guess.

I managed three hard workouts again this week, from your staples of training run types: tempo, speed, long. The tempo run was difficult, the speed session not so difficult — and today’s long run was just meh on account of being scaled down from the original plan, which was to run 11, but do the last 2 at 7:30.

Although the rest of me had plenty of energy, my legs were not into it today. So I turned the run into what Sandra likes to call a “listen to your body” run — just run whatever effort/pace you feel like running. The result was wildly varying paces — from 7:45-8:30. But it was fine and I didn’t beat myself up about bailing on the original plan. A few miles at 7:45 is close enough. I will not do a moderate spin effort beforehand next time. Too much.

The Coogan’s 5K is a week from tomorrow, so I’ve only got two hard workouts this coming week — another speed session and a run with a few miles at race effort. The rest is easy with mileage around 40. The adductor was only an issue today, for part of the run. I have no clue what triggers it, since you’d think 1Ks on the treadmill would piss it off. But it was not too bad.

This post was boring. Sorry.

Training: Feb 13-19

In which I worriedly, hurriedly prepare for a short race

I am quite aware of the fact that I have a 5K race looming on the horizon. I don’t like 5K races but, to be fair, I haven’t raced that many of them, and only a handful have been since I started running competitively. In two weeks I’ll cover the Coogan’s course in Washington Heights. I have been doing what I can to prepare for a short, fast race while also trying to not do anything that’s going to irritate the adductor injury that continues to hang on for dear life. But I feel I’ve turned a corner in that if I’m careful and do a shit-tonne of stretching and strengthening, it’s under control and on its way out, however slowly.

That said, this was another okay week, featuring two decent workouts and one half-assed workout. I did not hit the 52 miles I’d originally planned, but that’s life. I do, however, now feel pretty confident that I can handle real training. With that I will get back in touch with Coach Sandra (whom I’ve not wanted to bug during this period of testing the waters) this week to talk half marathon training.

I’m at the point where running 10 miles at any pace doesn’t feel like a 20 miler. But endurance at faster paces continues to be an issue and time’s a-wastin’. So I am trying to add in some substantial efforts at speedier paces. This campaign to not embarrass myself in two weeks began with Sunday’s trip into Central Park. This time I dragged Jonathan with me, who managed 12 miles with some discomfort in his foot. But, heck, he ran 12 miles, some of them on the faster side. So that’s progress.

We ran 6 miles together to warm up, then split up to do our little workouts. I did an inner loop, he did an outer loop. I managed three miles at sub-7:30 and a last one at 8:00 (me so tired). That was pretty good for that course, in wind, coming off a “big” week. Having learned last week that a longer recovery run on Monday is a no no, I split things up into two runs.

Tuesday was a big social day as was Wednesday evening. On Wednesday morning I decided to try a fartlek run again. There has been some slight improvement over last week’s fartlek in that I could do two sets and the speeds were slightly faster. I also shortened the between-sets recovery time from 5 to 4 minutes.

On Thursday I didn’t feel like doing anything, least of all running. I spent pretty much the entire day finding ways to avoid running. Then I forced myself to go to the gym to do some circuit stuff and figured I’d just try getting on the treadmill and if it sucked I’d climb off and call it a day. Mostly, I wanted to go there so I could use the sauna. After the first couple of miles I felt okay so decided to at least do something a little more productive than a 9:50 plod: a couple of miles at faster paces, if not stellar ones. At least the 20 minutes in the sauna seemed well-deserved.

Friday I was flat out exhausted, so I skipped exercise entirely. Saturday featured an evening run at home on the treadmill. For some reason I felt compelled to tack on a half mile to the planned 6. I think I felt bad about bailing on Friday’s run entirely. A half mile here, a half mile there. Pretty soon you’re talking, like, a whole extra mile.

Next week I may attempt some actual speed work if I can find a clear outdoor track or uninterrupted flat pathway to run on. That depends entirely on snow meltage. We are scheduled to get more snow this evening, so yeah, ha ha. It’s February, bitches. Have another cup of snow. I suspect I’ll being doing more fartleks on the treadmill. They’re close enough.

My training weeks begin on Sunday (or, put another way, end on Saturday). But I got in the habit of posting these training tomes on Sundays. So I’ll cheat and mention that I did my first outdoors tempo run since the summer today in Central Park. I basically tried to simulate a 5K more or less, but split up into three bits separated by 4 minutes. I managed to run my 7 minute segments at around 6:50 pace, which I’m pretty damned proud of because it was hellaciously windy today. I was running at harder than tempo effort much of the time, but whatever. I’m not going to be a purist about anything at this point. Waste of time. I need to get used to being really, really uncomfortable for around 21 minutes.

Groovy new Tempo Run playlist appears below.

In which I am uncharacteristically social

I spent all day Tuesday with a friend (and part of the afternoon with her five-year-old, who is smarter and more articulate than many adults I know) in Manhattan. She’s one of the few people I’m still in touch with from graduate school from way back in the (gulp) mid- ’90s, and by far the friend from that milieu to whom I’m closest. She’s moving out of the country indefinitely in July, so we’re trying to spend some time with each other fairly regularly before that happens. I’m happy for her, but it’s still a bummer to have to say goodbye. There’s virtually no chance I’ll visit her where she’s headed. That sounds ominous; it’s not meant to. She’s not going to prison or anything. She’ll just be very, very far away in a place I have no desire to visit.

On Wednesday evening I drove up to Rye Brook for dinner and conversation with my heretofore virtual friend, Cris/Darkwave of Well, I’m TRYING to Run fame. I have been trading training notes and amusing quips online with Cris for several years, primarily on this weekly thread on LetsRun (although I have been absent for many months during my injury odyssey). Cris was just as intelligent, interesting and warm in person as I’d expected her to be. It was a fun evening, although I worried I kept her up too late on a school night, since she was up here on a business trip and had to get up at 5:30AM the next morning and be a responsible adult. I, on the other hand, being an irresponsible adult, was free to sleep in late and then spend the day farting around the house.

In which I somewhat reluctantly show some team spirit

I bought a long-sleeved Harriers tech shirt this week, since it was easy enough to swing by Urban Athletics on my way to see my East Side friend. It’s a little weird to anticipate wearing it in a couple of weeks, not only because I don’t want to put further pressure on myself in a race at a distance that is not my forte. I’m not generally a joiner and uniforms of any sort always give me pause. But wearing a shirt in the points races seems to be what people do.

I will say that it looks pretty fetching on me (I look good in black — and somewhat menacing, I hope) and it was comfortable enough on today’s test run, for which I wore it as a base layer so I could continue to stealth train.

In which I go back to my artistic roots

I have more websites than is reasonable for one person. Especially since none of them are making me any money. But I can always launch another one, even as the current ones sit neglected. I expect to launch this newest creative venture pretty soon — probably next month or in April. Those who have known me for a long time know that I have a long history of drawing cartoons. I have had a dry spell of this activity for, oh, about 20 years, although I will sometimes make a painting when under stress.

Anyway, I have been besieged by funny ideas lately. That has led to sketching and frequent giggling. I should do something with these ideas and with the good domain I own but have not known what to do with (people have offered to buy it from me, but I had faith that a use for it would eventually emerge). Yes, I want to express myself. At least I’m not writing erotic poetry or making wallets out of duct tape.

So look for that soon.

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Mix: Tempo Run

Nobody’s In Love This Year – Warren Zevon
Change4Me – Bettie Serveert
No Matter What – Badfinger
1994 – Amberhaze
When I Wonder – Charlatans U.K.
Souls Travel – Bettie Serveert
Meet Me In The Basement – Broken Social Scene
Elephant Woman – Blonde Redhead
The Well And The Lighthouse – Arcade Fire
Sincerity – Charlatans U.K.
Girls Talk – Dave Edmunds
Changes Are No Good – The Stills
Bled White – Elliott Smith
Pop In G – Heatmiser
Gimme Animosity – Superdrag
Godspell – The Cardigans
Better Things – The Kinks
American Girl – Tom Petty
Something’s Out There – Freedy Johnston
Don’t Look Down – Lindsey Buckingham
Billoddity – Mojave 3
Swimming Song – Kate and Anna McGarrigle
My Favorite Mistake – Sheryl Crow
Finding You – The Go-Betweens
Cellophane – Creeper Lagoon
Dirty Secret – Grant-Lee Phillips
I Need Your Love – Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac

Listen on Rhapsody

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