Race Report: NYRR Colon Cancer Challenge 4 Miler

Oh, happy day. I feel like little Charlie Bucket, having at last found the special, golden-ticketed chocolate bar. Sure, it’s not exactly a candy-filled wonderland with Gene Wilder and a cabal of singing and dancing orange dwarves. But it’s the next best thing: entrance to Corral 1 in NYRR races for the foreseeable future.

After my recent good two miler and Thursday’s fabulous track session, I was feeling pretty good about my chances today. The one worry that I couldn’t do anything about was the wind. Everything else that I had control over, I took care of.

I got to the park ridiculously early: at 8:40 for a 10:00 o’clock race. I did not want to get stuck in the back of Corral 2 again and have to spend the first mile fighting crowds. So I found Baggage, wandered around, did a 1 mile warmup, peed about nine times, and then headed to the corral at 9:30. With a magazine. A guy in Corral 1 teased me about bringing a magazine to the race, and I realized it probably was a bit weird. But it was either that or stand there and be nervous.

It was cold today, but the windchill was above freezing, which helped. I wore a disposable long sleeve race shirt and some disposable gloves, my lightest tights and a short sleeve tee. And my new favorite racers, the Asics Hyperspeeds. I was situated in the front of Corral 2, although Corral 1 was barely a third full. Once they removed the tape separating the corrals and we moved up, I was for all intents and purposes starting in Corral 1 anyway, maybe 5 seconds from the start mat.

Horn blows and I remember my mantra: “Just keeping running hard.” I have my watch set to show average pace. That’s all I need to see. In the first half mile my average pace is 6:36. Probably too fast, but whereas trying to bank time in a 10 miler and up is foolish, I’ve learned recently that you can get away with this in shorter races.

Then, at about the .75 mark, potential disaster strikes. Two giant black trucks are pulling out of a side driveway directly into our path. The first is stretched nearly across the course area, perpendicular to runners. A cop yells, “Hold up! Stop!” Yeah. Uh, huh. That’s going to happen.

This unexpected turn of events greatly displeases those of us who are approaching at approximately 9MPH. We swear at the cops. We call them idiots. I don’t know what’s happening behind me after I veer 90 degrees to go around their vehicles, but I hear a lot of yelling.

I’m so angry and freaked out that my heart rate has soared. I have to calm down. We’re turning onto Museum Mile and I remind myself that this is always a great stretch to regroup, since it’s the closest to flat you’ll get on that course. It’s also a long straightaway. So I cruise it, trying to relax a little and prepare for the hills that are coming in the second half.

I come through mile 1 in 6:47. Good. I have a 12 second credit in my account.

We hit the 102nd Street Transverse. My hands are boiling, so I dump the gloves along the side of the road, just before the turn onto West Side Drive. Second mile split is 6:48. Credit is now 25 seconds.

The worst part of the course is coming, a series of rolling hills, most of them up, that always both slows and wears me down. I know I will give back some seconds here; the question is how many.

Oh, it’s windy now too. There’s a brisk headwind coming from the E/SE. NYRR always underreports the wind in their stats: they say 6MPH. It was more like 10MPH steady with gusts.

Mile three sucks: 7:06. Credit has reduced to 19 seconds. One mile to go, much of it downhill. I do not want this to be a squeaker. But unless I blow up I think I’ve got this. Finally.

But now the wind is making me nervous. Was that last mile so slow because of the wind rather than the hills? If I ran 18 seconds slower in mile 3 than in miles 1 and 2, I could just lose this by a hair again. So I start running a little harder. I focus on hitting the tangents. I am passing people, people who are dying because they ran too hard up those hills. My legs are really starting to hurt. But I know this will be over with soon.

I also don’t see that many women. I see two a ways ahead of me. None are with me. It’s not a huge race, but, still, I’m surprised at how few of us there are. I’m not racing anyone else anyway, just the clock. I don’t give a shit about finishing position or awards or anything today. I just want to be wearing a fucking blue bib when I come back here next weekend.

We pass the Delacorte and the flat bit is in sight. If I can continue to motor along this I’ll be fine. I know it’s less than half a mile. I keep running hard. There’s the turn for the finish. In a final fit of obsessive-compulsive overachievement I decide that I won’t be happy unless I finish with a clock time of well under 28:00. I cross the mat with the clock reading 27:43.

Mile 4 was 6:42. Apparently I didn’t hit the tangents perfectly because my watch read 4.02. The .02 was run at 6:11 pace. Whee!

My fate is sealed.

I was in such a good mood that I decided to get the 5 mile recovery run out of the way then and there. So after some water and an energy bar I was back out on the course, headed up to the transverse where, to my mild surprise, my gloves were still lying. A retrieved them, turned around, and headed back down the east side. Toward the 4.5 mile mark the 15K race leaders started coming through. I was glad I wasn’t running that race since the wind had picked up and it felt like the temperature had dropped.

By the time I got back to Baggage they’d posted the results. Well. To make a good day better, I discovered that not only had I won my first ever award in a NYRR race, but I’d done it with style: 1st in the 40-44 women’s AG. It’s a good thing my birthday is a week away because the 45-49 winner beat me by 16 seconds. I was 12th overall, out of over 1,300 women. I’m still in somewhat of a state of disbelief.

Manning the awards table was an elderly gentleman named Al Goldstein (not to be confused with the Al Goldstein of Screw Magazine fame). He gave me a congratulatory hug and told me that hugging attractive women on Sundays was the biggest fringe benefit of his volunteer job, which NYRR founding member Kurt Steiner gave to him in 1992.

While I was standing there chatting with him, I had a quintessential New York City moment. A woman came up to the awards table and picked up one of the awards, which are all the same: half inch thick blocks of plexiglass with the award details engraved on the back, so they show through the surface of the plastic (they make good paperweights). Al said, in a friendly yet firm voice, “Please don’t handle the awards.” To which the woman replied, “I was just trying to see if they were glass or plastic.”

Al said, “They’re plastic.”

To which she testily replied, “Well, this is a race to fight colon cancer. They shouldn’t be made of plastic since that causes cancer.”

Al gave her a look that I can only describe as withering. I was somewhat tempted to ask her if she was concerned that runners would insert the awards into their asses. Otherwise, what was the issue? But I decided against it.

So one of my unwritten goals for this season has been met: I’m now a blue bib girl. Next week I do my longest race yet this year, the Scotland 10K, back on those hills. I have no goals, although it would be nice to break 7:00 again.

Spring Training: Week 3

I was a happy runner this week. All my paces dropped and recovery time is also getting back on track after two weeks of very delayed recovery.

It was overall a speedier week, with the exception of Wednesday, which featured some wicked menstrual cramps in the first two miles — so bad that for a few minutes I thought I might lose my oatmeal. That passed, but not after strolling for a third of a mile; hence, the slow overall pace. But by and large my recovery runs are in the 10:00 range, a good minute faster than even a few weeks ago.

Tuesday’s midlength run was an odd one. I started out running inexplicably slow relative to effort. Then something kicked into gear and I was running faster at the same effort. The middle three miles were slowed by a muddy, slippery trail. But I was pleased to break 9:00 pace for a run in the high 70%s for effort.

I returned to the track on Friday morning for what turned out to be surprisingly good session. I say “surprisingly” because I again was running like crap for the warmup miles and had resigned myself to probably having an equally ho-hum speed session. But I started in on the faster quarter miles and found that running 1:34-1:38 felt just right (assigned pace was slower, but it felt way too slow). HR’s were in the right range, so I’m glad I went with the impulse to run them faster. I wore my spikes, which I’m sure helped speed me along.

Saturday’s recovery run (around 10:00, even though I left it off the chart) was also fine. I’m so used to running recoveries at 11:00 pace that it makes me nervous to go faster. But my HR says it’s fine, so I go.

This morning’s 14+ miler was great fun. I started with three miles below 73% then picked things up to 74-78%, throwing in a couple of 81% miles at the end. Ran those at 8:23, a pace that required considerably more effort a month ago.

Next week goes back down to 60 miles, but with three quality workouts again. All my workout paces are getting adjusted downward in light of this week’s data.

I’m feeling confident enough that I’ll be running as consistently as planned this season to go ahead and buy some new shoes to rotate into my colorful menagerie of blown rubber. It’s early in the year, which means the new models are coming out and you know what that means: the “old” models are on sale! I picked up two pairs of Pearl Izumi Streaks for around $70 with tax and shipping each. That’s at least $15-20 off what I’ve paid for those in the past. I’ve got several newer pairs of racing flats of various makes and two pairs of my recovery run stalwarts (the Saucony Grid Tangent 3) early in their mileage lives. So I’m set for the next few months.

The racing calendars are starting to take shape as well. I’m going to do as much racing as I can in Central Park this season (in pursuit of my coveted bib, plus there are a few races I enjoy, such as the Colon Cancer 15K). I’ll take it month by month, but it looks likely that I’ll be racing at least every 2-3 weeks. Some weeks will be back to back. I’ve even got one weekend where I might do back to back races on Saturday and Sunday (short ones).

But I’ll play it by ear. The first goal — enjoying training again and seeing improvement — is starting to take shape. Having fun racing again is the next goal on the horizon.

To wear: whatnot

The weather forecast for tomorrow’s race over the past 10 days has evolved from cool and rainy, to cold and cloudy, to freezing and sunny. I can’t get any read on the wind situation, as it seems to shift (like the wind!) every time I check, going from reasonable to downright ugly. But it’s going to do whatever it’s going to do, regardless of how much I worry.

I won’t be running in a Mr. Peanut costume tomorrow, so I won’t be easy to spot. But if you’d like to try, here’s my planned ensemble: black shorts, a bright orange tee shirt, black armwarmers, cheap black gloves (which I’ll abandon by mile 3 or so) and my orange “Kentucky racers” (courtesy of my virtual running pal, Tracy, who spends her days experiencing New Running Shoe Smell). I’ll start off with my Ted Corbitt Memorial 15K white cotton longsleeve, which I’ll also abandon early on.

I should also note that my experiment with living life as a blonde is drawing to a close after a year of fun with chemicals. I’m now more solidly on the brown side and will probably stay that way since the time and expense of maintaining my flaxen locks has become too burdensome. I’ll update the blog photo once I get a shot where I don’t look like Richard Lewis.

This will be my first outing with armwarmers, which I admit I felt a little douchey about buying, but when I have them on they actually look kind of cool, and they make my arms look less porcine, which is always a bonus.

The forecasted temps are actually ideal for me. I race best when it’s just above freezing, and start to get too warm if it gets anywhere near 50. But I know a windchill of 27 at the start is too cold for just a short sleeve shirt, and I didn’t bring any technical clothing I’m willing to throw away. If I wear a long sleeve tech shirt, though, I’ll be sweating by the end, when the temps are expected to be right around 40.

Armwarmer bonus: Extra storage space. I will take five gels during the race. I can fit four in my shorts’ pockets. Now I can stick the fifth one in the sleeve of my armwarmer rather than carrying in my hand it all the way to mile 3. Hooray!

Review: Nike Lunar Trainer

Short review: I hate these shoes! I have never actually hated a running shoe until these showed up on my doorstep.

They feel mushy and cheaply made. Also, the outsole flares out in such as way that it actually makes running feel awkward. And there are no extra eyelets to lock the laces in place. I’m sure there’s a lot of other things wrong with these, but I haven’t run in them enough to discover them.

Jonathan, however, loves the Lunar Trainer. Go figure.

Review: Pearl Izumi Peak XC

A few months back, on a lark, I sent a note to Pearl Izumi and told them how much I loved the Streak, their road racing shoe. In the process, I asked if they’d be willing to send me any other shoes to try, with the promise that I’d do a review on this blog. To my delight, they responded with an offer to send me the Peak XC, which is basically their trail running version of the Streak.

I did a few long runs in the Peak XC, but didn’t feel comfortable doing a review until I’d put it through its paces in a wider range of running environments. My recent trip to South Africa provided the perfect opportunity to evaluate this shoe.

I only wanted to bring two pairs of running shoes (I know — this is one pair more than most people would pack!): the Saucony Fastwitch 3 for racing a half and something else for everyday training. Where I was going, the only paved roads were the major highways. Everything else consisted of dirt, clay (or mud on some days) or gravel. Perfect conditions for a trail running shoe.

From what I can tell, the Peak XC is nearly identical to the Streak in construction and fit, with a few differences. While it weighs the same as the Streak (very light, at just over 7 oz. in women’s size 7), the midsole seems slightly thicker, the better to protect your soles from rocks, roots and other potentially painful foes. The outsole is also slightly more robust, with more pronounced treads for better traction; I’d swear that the outsole also feels “grippier” on slick pavement, but that may just be my imagination, as I don’t know how they’d do that. By comparison, the Streak has nearly no tread — it’s literally a “flat” in that regard.

I did a lot of running in rough conditions: roads that consisted of packed mud, very gravelly roads and in extreme heat. The shoes were perfect for all three. On mud, they were reasonably stable despite some very slippery spots. On gravel, they made my feet impervious to the surface, even when running hard. I could run on 1-2″ rocks and not really feel them. And in the heat, my feet stayed cool thanks to the perforated upper throughout. I should also add that they performed like champs on hills. I had enough traction to climb, and the shoes were roomy enough in the toebox to save my toenails on the downhills.

Speaking of the upper, this is the aspect of the Streak that made me fall in love with the shoe. Pearl Izumi touts its “seamless upper” on the Streak and Peak shoes. These shoes fit like a glove with no seams to rub anywhere. They are sold as a neutral shoe, although I’m neutral with some slight pronation and they are suitable for me. They feel responsive when running at all speeds: good ground contact, lots of flexibility, bouncy toe off. They are also durable. I’m on my fourth pair of Streaks and all have lasted 300 miles before feeling dull. That’s pretty good for such a lightweight shoe. I typically need to retire shoes in the sub-8 oz. range around the 250 mile mark.

I should note that I’ve done 22 mile runs in these on pavement and I did an 18 miler on dirt/gravel. In both cases, they held up well and didn’t cause the kind of fatigue you might risk experiencing by doing a long training run in what’s billed as a racing shoe.

One important tip on the Streaks and the Peaks: These run exceptionally small. I normally wear a size 8 in running shoes, with some exceptions (Saucony Grid Tangent 3 and Adidas Adizero Ace) in which I have to size down to my regular 7.5 shoe size. In the Pearl Izumis I need an 8.5.

Finally, I’ll add that these shoes are versatile. I went on a 9 mile hike in them over rocky/sandy trail. True, they can’t replace hiking boots for seriously “technical” hiking due to the lack of ankle protection, but the same can be said of my “dayhike” shoes. Those are waterproof, so I’d still use them for rainy day hikes. But for sunny days I’ll wear the Peak XCs. They’re lightweight, sturdy, have adequate toe protection and as such are perfect for mixing walking with running on the trail.

Since I’m mentioning Pearl Izumi, I’ll also put in a good word for a model of shorts they make, the 42K short. [Edited: Tracy has astutely pointed out that the 42K shorts are made by Sugoi, not Pearl Izumi. Either way, they're damned good shorts.] These are split shorts for racing, but they are so comfortable that I’ve started running in them exclusively. Although they’re splits they have enough material to be reasonably modest. The exception is when it’s very windy, in which case I may as well be wearing bun huggers, as the leg material blows up a la Marilyn Monroe and nothing is left to the imagination. They have a low waist with a drawstring that’s long enough not to get lost.

The best aspect of these shorts are the velcro-tabbed side pockets, which can hold gels. I modified my pockets by sewing up the bottom part of the pocket, just below the velcro tab. I found that gels could fall out otherwise. Now I can carry four gels easily, which is usually what I use in a full marathon.

As always happens, Pearl Izumi Sugoi has discontinued the 42k short. So I’m now hoarding them.

Race Report: 2009 Westchester Half

Short report since work is nuts, I have lots of training logs to catch up on, and I have to run 90 miles this week (eek).

Like the Whale Half in South Africa two weeks ago, I came into this race with an open mind and no real expectations. But unlike that race, the conditions were near perfect, with a starting temperature of around 48 degrees and almost no wind until the last few miles. True, the course is hilly, but not as bad as what I faced in South Africa. Plus I was familiar with the course, so I could come up with something resembling a pacing strategy.

I tried three new things in this race. I know you’re never supposed to try new things in a race, but this wasn’t an important race for me, so what the hell. The three experiments were:

  • Shoes: I wore my new pair of Adidas Adizero Ace’s (with only 8 miles on them), just to see how they compare to the Saucony Fastwitch 3’s for racing. They were great racing shoes and I’ll wear them again in my next few races. I’m not sure how they’d hold up over the marathon distance, but I plan to try them on a 22 miler this Sunday in Central Park to see.
  • Warmup: I tried a new warmup routine, a modified version of what’s discussed in this online article in Running Times. While I didn’t follow it to the letter (it was for a 5K anyway), I used the principles: a solid block of very easy running, followed by some active stretching and skipping, topped off with some short intervals at close to race pace.
  • Mental approach: I dumped the data, at least during the race. Meaning I decided not to look at my watch and run completely by feel. Although I was 3.5 minutes off my PB for the half, this was a very successful race and I suspect that this data-free approach had a lot to do with that.

Why was I 3.5 minutes off my best? I chalk it up to several factors:

  • Course: My best half was run on the nearly pancake flat Long Branch Half Marathon course. The Westchester course has significant hills throughout the race.
  • Training cycle: I’m in the middle of a marathon training cycle. When I ran my best in NJ, I’d had over a month of rest after a good full marathon race.
  • Jetlag/stress: I got home on Wednesday afternoon after close to 30 hours of travel on two flights. On subsequent nights I was sleep-deprived. We also had to deal with the burglary/rental car damage in the last few days of the trip and that caused a lot of mental stress.
  • Terrible nutrition: I’d spent the past 2+ weeks eating garbage and drinking like a fish.
  • Weight: I gained about three pounds while on vacation. So I guess I was literally hauling ass during this race.
  • Lack of recovery: Thursday featured a run that was supposed to be 8 miles at 70% MHR with four 2:00 repeats at 91-92% and 2:00 rests. Instead, I ran an average effort well into the low 80% range and only did 1:00 rests between repeats. Not until I got home did I realize my error. So my legs were still somewhat tired going into Sunday.

All things considered, this was another good race. Unfortunately, as with the Whale Half late last month, lots of factors conspired to obscure the quality of my performance. But I feel good about both races.

The Westchester course featured a steady climb in the first mile, and two other notable hills in subsequent miles, but the first half is a net downhill drop. That means the way back is uphill. So I reserved energy in the first half and ran at a manageable pace.

During the first half, some people passed me and I passed other people. I was cruising along and not really worrying about what other people were doing. The pace was hard, but comfortable, a full breath every three steps. About a mile before the turnaround I spotted the leaders and was happy to see Jonathan in sixth. He held that position to the finish. Then I started counting boobs and by the time I hit the turnaround had figured out that I was in ninth. Suddenly, I cared more about this race.

So I made a deal that I would do my best to work my way up to fifth, but exercise enough control that I wouldn’t kill myself in the next few miles only to fade in the last two. I easily passed the first woman in my sights, who was fading fast anyway. The next one was tougher, although I surged by her as she slowed at a water stop and that seemed to work. I spotted the next just beyond the 9 mile mark, right before a big hill. She was holding her pace on the hill so I thought it would be foolish to try to pass her then (especially since I’ve done no hill training). As we crested the hill, a friend of hers on the sideline yelled, “Go, Mary! There’s someone right behind you.”

I wanted to ask her friend, “How old is Mary?” but I didn’t. Instead, I felt slightly annoyed that my cover had been blown. But it was a great motivator. So I followed Mary down the hill and recovered over the next few hundred yards. Then I decided to try a longer surge on the flat bit that was coming up. So I passed her “decisively” (as they say in strategy articles) and held a pace of about 20 seconds per mile faster than she was running for a good quarter mile, then picked up the pace again on subsequent downhills. She came in a minute behind me, so I guess this was the right thing to do.

After that, the only other woman I saw was blowing her Wheaties just past mile 11 (isn’t racing fun?). I thought she was the leader at the time, but now I realize she wasn’t. She may have been a quarter marathon runner (we bumped into them on the way back), but I don’t know. But for a good couple of miles I was convinced I had fifth place, and it was a good feeling to know I did everything I could to move up. [Updated: it turns out I did get fifth.]

The penultimate mile ends with a huge hill and I felt done at the time. But I managed to rally in the last mile and ran that one the fastest, a good 20+ seconds faster than the overall average pace for the race. This makes me wonder if I should have run the whole thing slightly faster if I had that much left.

I ended up with sixth fifth overall and first in the 40-49F age group, with a net time of 1:37:35. The woman I passed, Mary Fenton (2nd in our AG), came up and congratulated me, which I appreciated. The other funny thing was seeing a young woman win an age group award and go completely batshit with excitement. It was very endearing and a good reminder that I need to remember how hard it was to win awards until very recently. Jonathan won the 50-59M age group. We have matching ugly trophies, New Balance gift certificates and enough powdered Heed drink mix to poison a small cult.

Did I say this would be a short post?

In praise of the training diary

I reported a few weeks back that I’d been diagnosed as having either a cyst or “thickening of the sheath” of a major ligament on the top of my left foot. I got a cortisone shot and the problem went away. Until the other day, when it cropped up again after a fast 16 miler.

Enter the training diary. I looked back over my notes concerning when the problem first appeared (10 miles into another fast mid-length run), and when it had flared up over subsequent runs. The common factor turned out to be a certain model of shoe: the Asics Speedstar. I have two pairs of these that I don’t wear all that often, as they are just “okay” shoes. I have other lightweight models that I prefer (the current favorite being the Pearl Izumi Streak) for faster running, so the Speedstar tends to be the neglected stepsister who only grudgingly gets taken out every few weeks.

I hadn’t worn them since the cortisone shot until the other day, after which — wouldn’t you know it — my top of foot pain was back. So I’m going to stop wearing them until after the marathon, and even then I may retire them if they aren’t suitable for shorter recovery runs either (I hate to throw away perfectly good shoes before their time).

I track everything: resting HR, running HR, distance, speed, weather, calories, weight, sleep hours (and quality of sleep), mood, shoes worn (and mileage on each pair), pains/niggles, and the quality of every run. Some may say this is overkill but it truly pays off at times like this.

Spring Race Training: Week 5

09spr-training-051

I originally wrote a beautifully worded and utterly fascinating post for this week. But then WordPress failed to autosave it and it’s gone forever. So the clumsy, awkward presentation that follows will have to suffice.

I ran a shade under 90 miles this week and it feels quite natural to do so. To be fair, this was my average mileage over the summer, so it’s not a new experience. However, what is different this time around is that I’m not completely flat-on-my-back exhausted all the time. I’m doing three days of doubles per week now (and that’s set to go up to four days soon). Over the summer, I was doubling at least six days a week, sometimes seven, and I think that was way too much. I also didn’t have as much variation in the mileage from day to day as I do now, which I believe also contributed to an inability to truly recover.

Previous posts already talked about the bad run on Tuesday followed by the good one on Friday. I was thinking about these two runs and what made one bad and the other good and remembered a subject I’ve meant to write about but haven’t gotten around to. So I may as well do so now. The topic is hormonal fluctuations and how they can affect athletic performance in some women.

As I’ve tracked my training over the past couple of years, I’ve noticed a distinct pattern of performance degradation or enhancement depending on where I am in my menstrual cycle. To put it in simple terms, I run with all the speed and grace of an arthritic platypus in the days before and during my period (luteal phase), after which I gradually, but quite dramatically, evolve into a gazelle hopped up on speedballs in the four days or so before ovulation (follicular phase). If you find that you mysteriously run better or worse at certain times in the month, you might try tracking where you are in your cycle to see if there’s a predictable relationship. On a related note, some studies have shown that women taking oral contraceptives may also experience lower VO2 max during the luteal phase and/or elevated body temperatures (which can affect hot weather running), so there’s a double or triple whammy for some of us.

So you know all about Tuesday and Friday already. To bring this full circle: If you look at the four days that are outlined in red, that’s my period. Tuesday fell on the first day, which is often my nadir in terms of running performance. After that, things start to look up. I hope this means that I’ll be at my apex come the weekend.

Apologies if this is way too much information, and more than you wanted to know. It took me awhile to figure out that there was a connection between cycles and performance. I wish I’d read something similar much earlier so I could have cleared up some mysteries (and timed my races a bit better).

What’s left is a few recovery days during which I was pretty tired. But that’s what they’re there for. Today’s long run was a blast, actually. I woke up after 9.5 hours of sleep feeling great. The predicted inch of snow didn’t materialize overnight and we instead had a day of light rain, but never heavy enough to soak me through. I felt so good on my run that I threw in an extra mile, and picked up the pace in the second half, running several at 7:50 or well under. I’d like to be doing my garden variety long runs at a slightly faster pace than I’ve been doing them thus far (a flatter course on a clear path with no wind certainly helped today), so I’m going to be trying to get my average down closer to the 8:00 and below range over the coming weeks.

Week 6 bumps things up to 95 but removes the tempo running on Tuesday, adds a speed session of 300m repeats (for which I may break out the shiny new spikes), and ends with a 25K race/training run on Sunday.

Spring Race Training: Week 4

09spr-training-04
This was a good week.

I’m going to try to make this short because:

  • I’m enjoying some red wine and it’s apt to take a toll on my writing and typing ability shortly
  • I’m roasting a chicken, which requires frequent attention, and — when combined with the wine — one major responsibility is about all I can handle
  • I’m waiting to watch my DVR’d Tyson Invitational (no relation to the chicken) and this post is the only thing holding me up

So here’s the Morse Code version, taken straight from the training diary:

Mon
Feel quite fatigued today, almost fluish.

Tue
Felt right again this morning. Did the run on the road and all the strides on the track. Did two extra since I felt so good. Leg issue is very mild, almost gone.

Wed
RHR back down to 45. Good run. Legs felt fresh and groin issue is very minor, almost gone. 1.5 fast miles were hard but not awful.

Thu
Leg sore at 5:30AM, but okay after some ibuprofen. Windy, cool run outside AM — very relaxed pace. Nice afternoon run, still very windy.

Fri
“Leg is still bugging me, so put off run until the afternoon. Used heat and Nabumetone in AM, which seems to be helping.

V. windy with headwinds of 17mph. Avg windspeed was 11mph. Felt like I had dead legs for the first one, then loosened up and the others felt better. I didn’t try to hold to the pace since the wind was ridiculous for half of each lap.”

Sat
Tired today and pace shows it. Fell down and bashed my hand and knee. Taking ibuprofen for the leg, which was back with a vengeance this morning.

Sun
Good run — had lots of energy and running the fast bit at the end wasn’t too hard. Windy in spots, mostly on the way out. Stomach a bit screwed up afterwards. Leg okay during run.

People, if you’re not keeping even a basic training diary, it’s high time you started. I can’t tell you how many times having even this sort of shorthand record has helped me pinpoint an issue, whether it be exhaustion, impending injury or run-of-the-mill training “staleness.”

This week was a real confidence booster because, I nailed all of my key workouts. The highlight was this morning’s 17 miler with the last two at 7:00 pace. At this point, running this fast tends to frighten other people on the running path. While I don’t do this deliberately, there is something satisfying about watching people do a double take and then leap out of the way as I pass. Jonathan’s passing them at 6:00 pace, and he says the effect is even more dramatic at that speed.

It was also a great week because I ran all but one session outside. At last! The snow is gone. Good riddance.

I’m playing it by ear with the groin thing. It doesn’t hurt a bit while running, and heat/ice/anti-inflammatories seems to keep it at bay. I’ve got a 90 mile week coming up with lots of faster running. I’ll see if it gets worse as a result and, if it does, go get it looked at. If it doesn’t get worse, though, I’ll live with it. I’ve trained with worse problems.

Also — this is totally unrelated — I want to sing the praises of an excellent shoe: Pearl Izumi’s Streak. I started wearing this for races and have been interested to see if it can hold up for the full marathon distance. I wore it for the 17 miler this morning and it was great for that. I’ll wear it for next week’s 20 miler. It’s probably the most comfortable shoe I’ve ever worn — it’s almost like running in a pair of slippers. I still love the Fastwitch 3 from Saucony, but it’s not quite enough shoe for 26 miles. This one may be the ticket. If you decide to try it, though, be forewarned: it runs very small. I have to wear a full size larger.

Week 5 features a longer tempo run, an 800m intervals session and a 20 miler, all totaling up to 90 quality miles.

I will not catch this cold. I will not catch this cold. I will not…

Jonathan has come down with a wickedly awful cold. We think he must have touched the wrong door handle at NYRR’s offices when he dashed in to get our bibs and chips on Saturday.

I’ve done more vigorous washing and disinfecting than Meryl Streep in “Silkwood,” but I nevertheless have that vaguely crappy “uh oh” feeling. Fortunately, I have several bottles of the mysterious Gan Mao Ling tablets my sister turned me on to.

Did I mention our entire neighborhood is now covered in a thick sheet of ice? I bought these, which get me down the steps to our ice mobile car without breaking my neck. But I don’t dare attempt to run outside.

This has been the Worst Winter Ever.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 38 other followers