Fall Training: Weeks 18 and 19

I skipped last week’s training report on account of being up in CT enjoying the company of both familiar and newly discovered family members. So this is another twofer.

I’ve documented some of the ups and downs of the past couple of weeks in individual posts, so I won’t repeat those here. Suffice it to say that this season’s training really wore me down. So much so that I’m considering moving to a 10-day schedule (instead of a weekly one). I found it difficult to do three hard workouts per week over such a long stretch of months. Some of that may have had to do with the difficulty of training in heat and humidity. I’ll see what happens over the winter, I guess.

With rare exception, I did all the planned workouts, but looking back on my diary entries, I realize that I never felt recovered and ready for the hard days. As a result, I rarely hit the paces I wanted, and this has done a real number on me mentally. When I compare this season’s training to last, the number of hard workouts each week was never an issue. The obvious difference this time around was the mileage: an average of 91 mpw compared to 76 mpw. If I’m going to do higher mileage training, I think I need to accept that a woman of my rapidly advancing years needs more recovery time in order to make those harder runs really sparkle.

A look back at training week 18:

  • Monday: 6.8 miles recovery pace (AM); 7.1 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Tuesday: 4.7 miles recovery pace (AM)
  • Wednesday: 14.1 mile long run (steady pace) (AM); 4.8 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Thursday: 8.1 miles recovery pace
  • Friday: 5.9 miles recovery pace (AM); 7 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Saturday: 22.1 miles with some at marathon pace (meh)
  • Sunday: 6.9 miles recovery pace

Total mileage: 87.4 miles

And training week 19:

  • Monday: Off
  • Tuesday: Off
  • Wednesday: 3 miles recovery pace (AM); 5.5 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Thursday: 6.2 miles recovery pace
  • Friday: 10 miles with 5 at tempo effort
  • Saturday: 6.1 miles recovery pace (AM); 4.5 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Sunday: 18.5 mile long run (steady pace)

Total mileage: 53.9 miles

Paces these past two weeks:

  • Recovery: 8:50 – 10:40
  • Tempo: Hard to tell on the treadmill; ran at 89-91% max heart rate
  • Marathon pace (sort of): 7:30-7:45
  • Long: 8:16 – 8:46

I was so exhausted during week 18 that it wasn’t even funny. So much so that I couldn’t even run my marathon pace run at marathon effort. I was averaging 82-83% heart rate, so I never hit my times. I just couldn’t go any faster.

I thought taking time off on Monday and Tuesday of this week would help, but I still felt awful on Wednesday. So I cut back the mileage much more than expected and hoped I’d feel better toward the end of the week. Last season I had roughly equal mileage in the first and second weeks of my taper (although owing to injury rather than exhaustion) and it didn’t seem to be a problem come race day.

I felt good enough to do a decent tempo run Friday morning (although since I had to do it inside on our unreliably calibrated treadmill, I have no clue how fast I was running); I broke that run up into two 2.5 mile segments, with a half mile easy pace inbetween. That went pretty well. But I must say that I’m very rattled by the fact that I still have no idea how fast I should be running in two weeks.

Today’s long run was quite the adventure. We had temps in the 70s and 93% humidity. I got about 12 miles into the run and felt a sprinkle. My top was soaked anyway due to the heat and humidity. But then the sprinkle turned into a steady downpour. By mile 15 I was completely soaked. In a way, it’s liberating to just accept the rain and try to appreciate its cooling effect. I also had the running path pretty much to myself once the rain really got going. Thanks, Hurricane Kyle!

I wore a newer pair of shoes this morning: the Asics Speedstar. I’ve been looking for a racing alternative to the Saucony Fastwitch, at least for the marathon. The Fastwitch is perfect for the half distance and below and feels good until about 20 miles. Beyond that point it feels like I’m running on two pieces of cardboard. Since the last 6 miles of the race are the most painful ones, it seems crazy to wear shoes that will only add to the pain. Jonathan’s worn the men’s version of the Speedstar for the marathon and says they held up well. They felt more substantial than the Sauconys on today’s run, and there were no hotspots (even when they were soaked), so I’m going to wear them for Steamtown in two weeks.

Coming up in Training Week 20: Running “doubles” is now behind me; it’s one run per day from here on out. Taper week two calls for equal mileage to taper week one, but with fewer hard miles. I’ve got a short speed session on Wednesday (mile repeats at 5K-10K race pace), and then a shorter long run (13 miles on Sunday). After that, it’s just one week until showtime.

I ♥ WordPress

Because its “stats” are so informative.

For example, someone arrived at my blog today via the search term “running black panties.”

You know who you are.

What not to wear

More from preracejitters on countries’ Olympic uniforms.

Let’s see: The Germany uniforms look like stylish athletic uniforms. Check. The Australians look like a bunch of flight attendants. Check. New Zealand’s uniforms look like what I grab out of my running clothes drawer (or maybe even the laundry bag) in the dark at 5:30 in the morning. Check. And..wait a minute…who knew Canadians could be so ballsy?!

I’m Julie, and I’ll be your cruise director.

Preracejitters has photos of the US Olympic Team’s uniforms.

I think these are what Julie, Isaac, “Doc,” and Gopher wore on “The Love Boat.”

Gack. Where’s Kurt Lagerfeld when you need him?

Fall Training: Week 10

After three back-to-back 90+ mile weeks, I took a week of recovery. I ran 70 miles over 11 sessions this week, many of them inside on the treadmill. The majority of those miles were at recovery pace, with two exceptions.

Aside from early Friday morning, which offered a few hours respite from what has been a multi-week stretch of heat index days at 90 or above, the weather was horrible. You better believe I took advantage of the cool and dry (relatively speaking) temps on Friday. I did some hard running outside that morning: 2 miles very easy, followed by 10 miles with alternating chunks at (well, almost at) my current marathon pace of 7:22.

I couldn’t quite hit 7:22 on most of the miles, but I wasn’t that far off. I do know that it just felt really good to run fast without feeling like a blanket soaked in hot molasses had been thrown over me. I wonder how many more heat and humidity-related analogies I can think up over the summer.

This morning I did 16 miles inside on the treadmill to avoid the thunderstorms and that too went very well. I did 2 miles very easy warmup pace followed by 14 at 8:20-8:30. My heart rate during those harder miles was a mere 70-72%. This is good, because in a week or two I again move my training paces downward from a 3:13 marathon to 3:10. I think I’ll be ready for it.

One of the advantages to training over the summer in New York is that the fall brings big surprises in terms of fitness gains. During last summer I was working on a mileage base rather than training for a fall race. I spent the whole summer running lots of miles at 70% heart rate, suffering through the heat and humidity, wondering if it was doing me any good. Then I ran a few races in the fall, when the weather had turned cooler, and I was completely blown away by how much faster I’d become. And this was with no race-specific training.

So whenever I start whining to myself during a miserably hot run, I remind myself that my hidden treasure awaits in a few months if I remain patient and keep the faith.

A look back at the week:

  • Monday: Off
  • Tuesday: 3.2 miles recovery pace (AM); 4.9 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Wednesday: 6 miles recovery pace (AM); 5 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Thursday: 5 miles recovery pace (AM); 4 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Friday: 12 miles easy pace with 2 x 2 x 1 at slightly slower than marathon pace (AM); 3.1 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Saturday: 6 miles recovery pace (AM); 5 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Sunday: 16 mile long run (steady pace)

Total mileage: 70.2 miles

Paces this week:

  • Recovery: 9:55 – 11:10
  • Easy: 8:00 – 9:30
  • Marathon pace(ish): 7:28 – 7:39
  • Long: 8:20 – 8:30

I’ve got a minor issue with my left shin, a spot on the bone that is sometimes tender to the touch. I’m aware of it sometimes when I run — not a pain, really, but more just a spot that’s asserting itself. A stiffness, maybe. It’s a different sensation than I had with shinsplints last year.

I don’t want to screw around with things like possible stress fractures. So I’m icing it a few times a day. If it doesn’t go away, I’ll probably sacrifice some mileage in the coming weeks and if that still doesn’t help, I’ll go to the orthopedist.

Sort of reminds me of that stupid joke:

“Doctor, doctor, I have this strange pain on my shin.”

“When do you feel this strange pain?”

“When I press on it. What should I do?”

“Don’t press on it.”

This week my Swiss sunglasses (which Jonathan won in the Westchester Marathon last fall) began to fall apart. At $129 retail (and Swiss made, no less), I’d expect them not to fall apart. But even Krazy Glue was not up to the task of keeping the right lens from popping out with the slightest pressure applied while cleaning. So I’ll keep them as my “backup” glasses to throw in a gear bag. Too bad, because aside from the fact that they were a bit too dark and had frames that obstructed the ground view and had a tendency to fog up, I liked them. Er, maybe I didn’t like them that much, on second thought. To replace them, I ordered new ones from Zappos that have photosensitive lenses and are nearly as light as the dying Swiss pair. I hope they don’t fall apart in nine months, but at $62 I won’t be heartbroken if they do.

The NYC Half Marathon was run this morning. And I am glad I wasn’t there. Jesus, those people looked HOT, and I don’t mean “hey, baby” hot. I know that NYRR is planning to move it to another month. Good idea! July is the hottest month, usually. I’d consider running it during the fall or spring, or even winter, but not in high summer. At least it gave me something to watch during my long run this morning.

Coming up in Fall Training Week 11: Back up to 97ish miles and — weather and bodyclock permitting — a 20 mile marathon pace training run in Central Park at 7AM.

Fall Training: Week 7

In this, the final week of my “base” period, I ran 90.6 miles — just a hair more than three weeks ago. That mileage is starting to feel comfortable, which is a good thing since it’s still going to go up in the coming weeks.

This coming week starts the “build” period, during which I reintroduce the midweek long run and bring the number of quality workouts up to three per week on a consistent basis (with the exception of recovery weeks).

I did three good workouts this week anyway, plus some weight work for the first time in about a year. Coming off of a recovery week, my legs felt good, so I thought I may as well take advantage of that fact with the runs.

As for the weight work, I put together a routine of exercises to focus on back, shoulder, arm and core strength, which I’ll do at least once per week during training. My form tends to fall apart late in races and I don’t want it to anymore.

A look back at the week:

  • Monday: 5 miles recovery pace (AM); 6 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Tuesday: 5 miles recovery pace (AM); 6 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Wednesday: 10.5 miles with 5 x 1 mile hill repeats (AM); 4.3 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Thursday: 6 miles recovery pace (AM); 5 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Friday: 5 miles with 3 x 1 at tempo pace (AM); 6 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Saturday: 6.1 miles recovery pace (AM); 5 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Sunday: 20.7 mile long run (steady pace)

Total mileage: 90.6 miles

60% of the miles were at recovery pace. Next week, that goes down to 40%. I’ll see how that feels.

Paces this week:

  • Recovery: 9:14 – 10:29
  • Hills: 7:43 – 8:12
  • Tempo: 7:00 – 7:04
  • Long: 8:42

The tempo run, which I did on the treadmill, felt somewhat easy. To be fair, though, I only did a mile at tempo pace at a time. Next time, I’ll try two. There’s always the chance that the treadmill is off, which is why I prefer to do them outside on a track, weather permitting.

I bit the bullet and did my other two quality runs outside in very high humidity. The hill run surprised me, as I managed to do the repeats 10-20 seconds faster than last time around. And yesterday’s long run was done in 75 degree weather and 80+% humidity, and it didn’t feel that bad. I guess I’m getting acclimated. I was sweating like a pig, which is a good sign. There was not a dry spot on my shirt when I got home.

I ran with my Camelbak, filled with close to 70 oz. of water, which I’ll continue to do in these conditions despite the fact that it’s an added 4 lbs. to haul around. I managed to get through most of the water (and shared some with Jonathan when we crossed each others’ paths in White Plains). I also took an Endurolyte during and after the run — something new I’m experimenting with.

After those monster runs on Sunday I’ve learned not to fight the impulse to nap. If I allow myself an hour or so of napping (or even just dozing), I feel good enough to do things like go food shopping amongst the madding crowd at Trader Joe’s on a Sunday afternoon. Naps are good. I just wish I could take them mid-week during the peak phase of training.

I feel good today, too, having slept like a rock for 9 hours. I dreamed of being stuck with two grape-colored hand grenades that I couldn’t get rid of. I don’t know what that means — what am I afraid of accidentally blowing up, I wonder? Maybe the hand grenades represent my legs. Or maybe dreams really are the expression of meaningless mental noise.

As far as the weight work goes, here’s the strength workout I put together (a set is 12 reps). For the first few weeks, I’ll do one set each of these. Then I’ll add in extra sets over time. We have free weights and a Bowflex*, which I’ll mix and match for these.

  • Squats
  • Calf Raises
  • Standing lateral raises
  • Military presses
  • Lower back extension
  • Seated biceps curl
  • Seated abs crunch
  • Trunk rotation

Coming up in Fall Training Week 8: Five more miles. A speed session in high humidity, which should be very uncomfortable (although, looking on the bright side, maybe the track will be less crowded). The return of the regular Wednesday long(ish) run. And another 20 miler, with the last few at marathon pace.

*Yep. We fell for the ads.

Big racing weekend…in Joizy!

We’re heading out to Long Branch, NJ for a morning of racing tomorrow. The forecast is for thunderstorms, low 50s and low wind. Except for the thunderstorms bit, perfect weather for racing! I won’t even have to wear my bug sunglasses.

Jonathan’s doing the marathon, which he’s been training for over the past five months. He’s gotten very speedy, so I have high hopes (all of them based in reality) for him tomorrow. At the very least, he’ll look fetching in his spiffy new racing togs. And I’m hoping to update my “Personal Bests” ticker with a new, faster half marathon time. If I can bring home some cheap hardware, more’s the better. We’ll see.

One side note: Can you believe what a piece of shit the NJ Marathon’s Web site is? What is this, 1996? Check out the tee shirts too; I think someone let their kid loose with Adobe Illustrator rather than spring for a professional designer. No wonder people laugh at New Jersey.

I’ll also be doing my first race in my hazmat orange Sauconys, which I wish I’d had for the April marathon.

I just hope we don’t get lost. Every time I got to New Jersey, I get horribly, irredeemably lost.

In other news, REI has the Garmin 405, for all you people who have to have the latest. I’m sure if there was a Garmin store in Manhattan, there would be a line of skinny people with ridiculously low heart rates lining up with lawn chairs 24 hours before the thing went on sale. I’m happy enough with my hulking 305 model for now, although I’ve promised myself that once I get down to a proper racing weight (meaning I’m not obviously fatter than everyone who beats me), I’ll spring for the new toy.

Race report to come…

In Iowa

I’ve been in Iowa for the past few days. I flew out here on Wednesday to attend to what I suppose is meant when someone uses the term “family crisis.” My beloved 93-year-old grandmother suffered a stroke a little under two weeks ago and she was aiming to slip from this mortal coil, or so it seemed. She’d been in a great deal of pain and discomfort, with reduced capacity in key areas (can’t walk, can’t swallow, double vision in one eye). She raised her hand for the “no extraordinary measures” option and stopped taking water and food on Monday.

But you know what? My grandmother may be one of the few people I’ll ever know who left a hospice facility alive. She looked like she was fading on Thursday morning, and we were all getting prepared to say goodbye sometime during the coming days or weeks. I was even working on a draft of her obit. Then, in the afternoon, she perked up and began talking about wanting to fight on. From heartbreak to hope in the space of a few hours — Thursday probably ranks up there as one of the worst and best days of my life.

Now she’s out of hospice and back in the hospital rehab unit, taking food and water through a tube, as well as starting to manage food by mouth. She handled her first round of physical therapy yesterday like a trouper. Her sense of humor is intact, as is her fighting spirit. She has lots of hurdles in front of her: first, to learn to swallow, stand and walk so she can get out of the hospital. Next, weeks or months of work in the skilled nursing area of her retirement home. Then, if that goes well, a move over to assisted living. She even has an outside shot at getting back into her apartment.

I am in awe at her ability to survive.

I head back home tomorrow, but will probably make another trip out in May or June to cheer her on (and up).

Since this is a running blog, some obligatory running stuff is in order: I didn’t run for three days post-marathon, which seemed to be the perfect thing to do. On Thursday I did four miles at 10:30 on the motel treadmill, then five miles at 10:00 on Friday. Yesterday the entire exercise room was put out of commission until sometime next week due to a broken door.

So I headed out onto the streets of Cedar Rapids into 20 mph winds (I’m used to it!) and horizontal sleet. It ended up being a fantastic run. I hammered out six miles, despite the wind, for an average of 8:30 per mile. I’m running in my new Saucony Fastwitch 3’s and they are hands down the best running shoes I’ve ever worn. They weigh 6 ounces and make me feel like Gete Wami. Finished up the run at 7:50 (the tailwind helped on the way back), pleasantly relaxed and ready for the whatever the day had in store, which was good news all around, as it turned out.

I love running here. Cornfields, sky and flatness yield expansive vistas like this. The city is more or less a grid, with lots of major avenues, so it’s difficult for even me to get lost. And I rarely see other runners, so I get to feel like a local curiosity for an hour or so.

The weather is similar today (actually, colder at 20 degrees with the windchill), but I’ll head out for the same run in a few minutes.

Julie the Hut

Blorg. I am bloated with Christmas spirit.

I can’t believe how much I’ve had to eat and drink in the past 48 hours.

Christmas Eve featured:

  • a large vodka martini
  • goose pate (“no liver” — I’m not quite sure how to interpret that, since I thought pate was liver)
  • a pound+ sirloin steak
  • an enormous pile of french fries
  • a large piece of chocolate raspberry cake
  • too many glasses of wine to count

Christmas Day wasn’t much better — although since I was still digesting the Eve’s excesses I really didn’t eat much until the “turkey and fixings” extravaganza started around 6 o’clock yesterday. I was sufficiently inebriated and stuffed to fall into bed, semi-conscious, at around 9:15. I won’t enumerate what I consumed yesterday since it’s shameful. But it was delicious. And it only took five hours to prepare.

But, to my credit, I’ve been running a lot despite the bricks in my stomach. I did 10 miles of recovery running on Christmas Eve, a 10 mile easy run (last two at marathon pace) Christmas Day, and a 14 miler today. If I’m lucky, I’ll break even on the calories, although judging by the size of my stomach, I’m not so sure.

Santa, in collusion with Jonathan, brought some good running stuff in this year. This top — in red — from UnderArmour (which I love, although it’s currently embarrassingly form-fitting), and this hat. And this thermos for post-run tea or hot chocolate (when I “park and run” up in Scarsdale for my Sunday long runs). And…and…and…nice, thoughtful gifts from my generous family.

It’s a very quiet week at work, so I’m getting things done like archiving project files and emails, listening to pre-recorded “2008 strategy” calls and trying to decipher their encrypted messages…and generally catching up on other administrata that I haven’t had time to do lately.

Tomorrow morning is the annual “drug the cat” event, in which I administer Kitty Kwaludes to our half-feral cat in order to get her in to the vet for annual shots. It takes her about a day and half to get back to normal, during which time she’s stumbling around like Robert Mitchum at the Oscars, and we’re just focusing on not letting her fall down the stairs. In our household, the excitement truly never stops.

Road Tested: Pearl Izumi Shine Wind Mitts

Since I’ve been trying to lose weight AND up the mileage, my wine consumption has dropped off dramatically. This has resulted in a reduced amount of money being spent every month on wine. But I’ve determined that what used to go for wine is now being spent on running shoes, clothing and other accessories. I wonder if I can deduct these purchases as “necessary medical expenses.”

I have a thin pair of running gloves (don’t know the make since I cut off the chafing tags), but they’re not quite warm enough when the temperature drops below freezing. So yesterday we took a trip to the Westchester Road Runner to do some glove shopping. $72 later, we were the proud owners of a pair of Pearl Izumi Shine Wind Mitts (say that a few times in a row: “shine wind mitts”; doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, does it?) and Brooks Vapor Dry Gloves. Fortunately, our hands are similarly sized, so we can get away with glove sharing, as long as we don’t run at the same time.

I tried out the Pearl Izumi’s today on my long run (19.2 miles). The wind chill temp out at the start of my run was 21 degrees (Farenheit). The gloves were perfect for this weather. I even used the little pull out mitts that slide over the fingers when it got windy. They’re comfortable, windproof and short enough that they don’t interfere with my hulking Garmin 305 watch.

Once the temperature got up to the low 30s (again, wind chill temp), I swapped them for my lighter no-name gloves. I don’t know how water resistant the Pearl Izumi’s are, but they were great for a cold, windy day like today.

Haven’t tried the Brooks gloves yet. They’re thicker (and waterproof), so I’ll wait for a day in the teens or lower to try those. At the rate the temperature’s been dropping lately, it should be “temperature: Pluto” by next month…


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 38 other followers