Fall Training: Week 3

I took a recovery week this week, having increased mileage significantly over the past few weeks, up from the ~45 miles per week I did during post-marathon recovery. I took Monday off and spent most of my sessions running at around 66% max heart rate. Very easy paces. I enjoyed all that slow running, actually. It gave me lots of time to think about all the not-so-slow running I’ll be doing in short order.

I had a good race yesterday, all things considered (weather, mostly). Then got my aching legs out of bed at 5:30AM this morning so I could be out doing my long run at 6:30 to beat the heat. Good strategy; I had a much better run as compared to last week’s Sunday death march.

A look back at the week:

  • Monday: Rest day
  • Tuesday: 5 miles recovery pace (AM); 4 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Wednesday: 7 miles recovery pace (AM); 6.1 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Thursday: 7.3 miles recovery pace
  • Friday: 6.3 miles recovery pace (AM); 4.8 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Saturday: 6.2 mile race
  • Sunday: 14.3 mile long run (steady pace)

Total mileage: 61 miles

Paces this week:

  • Recovery: 9:18 – 10:46
  • Race: 7:07*
  • Long: 8:42

Despite the fact that the heat index was around 85 degrees this morning, I felt surprisingly good on my long run. Well, at least for the first seven miles. Once the sun came up over the trees, I had to slow down a bit. I did a repeat of a 7+ mile loop so I could stash a big bottle of water at the halfway point. That seemed to help a lot, as I always felt much better following the three stops for water over the course of two hours.

My legs are quite tired today, though. I know it’s from yesterday’s race, because the fatigue is in the muscles I’m only aware of after running fast up and down hills: adductors, glutes, hamstrings, quads. (Seems like there’s not much left, doesn’t it?)

Still, running in the heat this morning wasn’t that bad. The humidity was actually pretty low (around 60%), so that helped, despite the high temperatures. It was nice to be done with my long run by 9AM (shower included). It typically monopolizes my entire Sunday morning.

During the workweek I’ve been getting up earlier either to do some work in peace (before the rest of the world wakes up and starts bombarding me with email, phone calls and instant messages), or to go running. The flipside, of course, is that I’ve been going to bed earlier and earlier (because I fall asleep in my chair) as a result of getting up at 5:30 AM these days. At least my hours are reasonably flexible, so what I’ve often done is do the bulk of my work starting very early in the day, go out for a run from 11:00-12:00, then knock off work at 3:30 or so to relax or get errands done until I have to go running again at 6:00. Now that summer’s here, however, I suspect I’ll be trying to run as early as possible to beat the heat. In any case, I am so grateful that I don’t have to commute.

Another flipside, though, if you can have three of them, is that since I freelance in addition to my M-F contracting gig, I often have to work weekends to get all the work done to meet deadlines. This weekend was the first one in nearly two months during which I had no freelance work to do! So I’ve enjoyed the hours of nothingness. I’ve watched television, websurfed on the couch, napped and generally avoided anything resembling productivity, such as housework, bill-paying or errands. Even with the oppressive heat, it’s been a great weekend. And now, since it’s Sunday (my “free day” to eat and drink what I want), I think I’ll go crack open that bottle of sauvignon blanc…

Coming up in Fall Training Week 4: The mileage ramps back up to 88. Plus I do my first hill repeat session and cap the week with another 20 miler with the last few at marathon pace. Whee!

*Garmin says I ran 6.45 miles. I believe it; it was very crowded in spots.

The Avis of Olympians

Nice piece in the NY Times on Blake Russell. She tries harder.

Also, a good interview with Magdalena Lewy-Boulet in Runner’s World.

Race Report: New York Mini 10K

A hot race full of hot women. And I’m not talking about Playboy Bunnies.*

I knew it was going to be hot today. It’s funny — I didn’t consider not running it, even as each day’s weather forecast predicted mercury soaring ever higher. I was curious to see how I’d do in the heat, since, aside from last weekend’s hot and humid Sunday long run (debacle), I haven’t done any training or racing in the heat since last summer.

I did about as well as I thought I would. Under normal circumstances, I’d expect to be able to run a 10K in Central Park around 43:30 at my current level of fitness. Today I ran it in 45:54.

I console myself with something Deena Kastor said at a pre-race press conference:

Although I am not peaked or peaked for this race, I’m actually just beginning to launch into my marathon‑specific training, it was a weekend I could not pass up as being past competitors of Magdalena Lewy‑Boulet and Blake Russell, to now being teammates has a really different feel. I really wanted to come together this weekend to celebrate women’s distance running here in New York City, a race that is really truly incredible for 5,000 women to take on the streets of New York and Central Park itself. It’s an incredible celebration of distance running.”

Yes. What Deena said. About not having trained for a 10K and just being at the beginning of marathon training. That. What she said.

Incidentally, rundangerously has some nice photos of Deena and others. And there’s a good story on the race in The Final Sprint: Jonathan was among those high-fived by Hilda Kibet and Madai Perez.

I picked up my number and, once I got to the start, was delighted to discover that I was seeded in the first corral, right behind the elites. What a treat!

We spent a few minutes listening to opening remarks from Mary Wittenberg, got a very brief oral history of the race from co-founders Kathrine Switzer and Nina Kuscsik, and were introduced to some of the elites running. One of them, Hilda Kibet, won with a time of 32:49. Not bad in hot, humid weather, and over a hilly course. Did I mention that Kibet is Lornah Kiplagat’s cousin?

The horn honked and 4,104 of us were off.

The race was a challenge, as all races in the park are. We started just above Columbus Circle, heading up Central Park West to 90th Street, at which point we turned into the park. My first three miles went very well. In fact, I ran a 6:30 pace for mile 1, which shocked me to no end. I didn’t even know I could run that fast. But I knew it wasn’t sustainable. For miles 2 and 3 I ran 6:59 and 6:57 respectively.

Then came the big hills. The first one wasn’t too bad, but the second one that rounds the north end over to the East side was very difficult. It seemed much steeper and longer than last time I’d run it. I wonder why.

By the 4 mile mark, my legs felt like jelly and everyone was running noticeably slower. The time for that split was 7:38; ouch. Still, I managed to pick the pace up again on Cat Hill, running mile 5 in 7:10. Mile 6 was very slow, even with the 100 foot elevation drop: 7:25. That one surprised me. I must have done something earlier that I couldn’t recover from, because although my lungs were fine, I couldn’t make my legs go faster, even on the downgrades. Might that first 6:30 mile have had something to do with that?

Rounding the bottom of the park for the last .2 miles, a woman ran with me and said cheerfully, “Come on, don’t slow down now.” We ran together for most of the rest of the race. Nice person, whoever she was. She pulled me along and I managed a 7:13 pace for the last bit.


  • Finishing time: 45:54
  • 169th place overall
  • 28th place in women 40-44
  • Age graded ranking: 70.0%
  • Top 4% of all finishers
  • Top 6% of women 40-44

The race was well organized. There were well-stocked water tables approximately every mile or so (although they really should have had a table right after the big hills; having to run all the way to the boat house before getting a drink seemed way too far). People with misting hoses were stationed along the course, which most of the runners took advantage of. Volunteers were enthusiastic, friendly and knowledgeable. They ran out of small shirts, unfortunately, which was too bad, but no biggie.

The prize (besides being able to stop running) was a lovely, understated medal and a single pink carnation. Classy race. I’ll probably run it again next year.

Next up: The Stratton Faxon Fairfield half in two weeks…

*Follow the oral history link for further explanation of this wisecrack.

Stinking weather forecast…

Since I have a race on Saturday, I’ve been compulsively checking the weather forecast. In the last two days, it’s gone from low 80s and overcast to mid 90s and partly sunny. With high humidity to boot.

June is usually fairly safe, especially early June.

But not this year.

I’m trying to have a positive attitude, though. I’m hoping that a short race in miserable summer weather will jumpstart the acclimatization process, thereby setting me up for a fabulous (relatively speaking, of course) half marathon later in the month.

Fall Training: Week 2

This, week two of my eight week basebuilding experiment, proved a tough one. I ratcheted up the mileage another 10%. In two weeks, I’ve gone from 50 miles to 88 miles. This is bearing in mind that I averaged 76 mpw during training for the spring race. Still, I felt those extra miles by the weekend, and had to make some compromises as a result.

I kept most of the miles as recovery miles — nearly 60% of them. But that wasn’t enough. Read on.

Today starts a much-needed recovery week. No running today and lots of slow running. Then a race on Saturday — so much for recovery…

A look back at the week:

  • Monday: 6.1 miles recovery pace (AM); 5.1 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Tuesday: 5.1 miles recovery pace (AM); 5 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Wednesday: 9.9 miles tempo with 2×2 at 15K-half marathon pace (AM); 4.2 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Thursday: 6 miles recovery pace (AM); 6.1 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Friday: 7 miles easy pace (AM); 4 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Saturday: 6 miles recovery pace (AM); 4 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Sunday: 19.8 mile long run (steady pace)

Total mileage: 88.3 miles

Paces this week:

  • Recovery: 9:50 – 11:20
  • Tempo: 6:59 – 7:13
  • Easy: 7:55
  • Long: 8:57

Things were going well until Saturday. I had a really good tempo run earlier in the week, then felt so good on Friday morning that I raced through seven miles at under 8:00 minutes per mile. And that turned out to be a big mistake.

I was tired on Saturday during both my runs. Then I didn’t get to bed until well after midnight since the Reebok meet ran late. Got seven hours of sleep Saturday night, woke up exhausted. And it was hot and humid.

I had one of the worst runs I’ve had in awhile on Sunday. I couldn’t drag myself out until after 9AM on Sunday (I usually start much earlier). I knew by mile five that it was going to be a tough run. I was tired, my legs hurt and it was 85 degrees and humid, with me sweating up a storm at high noon.

I must have been on crack when I thought I could run 20 with the last five at marathon pace at the end of this particular week. I gave up on that idea early on and engaged in a process of lowering my expectations with every mile. Finally settling on trying to keep the average pace under a 9:00 mile (just made it).

Anyway, I beat myself up over it and then realized that this is basebuilding, after all. I got my mileage in and there’s plenty of time for fast long runs later on. Things should get easier as I get more acclimatized to the heat and humidity too.

I registered for the NYRR Mini 10K on Saturday. It’s probably going to be hot and humid, but I’m still excited to run it. The olympic marathon team will be running it, as well as some big name international elites. They will, of course, be too far ahead of me to see, but I’ll know they’re there nevertheless.

This will also be the first NYRR race I’ll run since they instituted their seeded corrals policy. I wondered how they would figure my pace. It turns out they take the fastest per mile pace you’ve run in a NYRR race. It works to your advantage if you run shorter NYRR races, but it’s not so great if all you run are the longer ones. It seems like it would be easy enough to seed runners based on their best paces relative to other distance/pace equivalents. But them’s the rules and I shall not argue with the NYRR gods.

I don’t have a hard time goal, since the weather will be a factor. I just want to run as fast as I can. Wish me luck!

Coming up in Fall Training Week 3 (which started today): A day off, lots of slowpoke miles, a race and a long run on Sunday. All adding up to a mere 61 miles.

Meet Report: Reebok Grand Prix

I took some really awful photos and even worse video. The video is boring and the photos are blurred. I suppose I should read the manual before being allowed out of the house with my camera.

Anyway, here’s a report on the Reebok event last night. Sure, you can read all about the results on some of those other sites. I’ll give you information about the things you really wanted to know about.

For instance, who knew Jamaicans were so nuts for track and field? We arrived to discover that the audience was basically 8,000 Jamaicans and us. They were an ebullient crowd — cheering for the high schoolers (who seemed well-represented by family and friends in the crowd, many of whom were dressed to the nines) and the elites alike.

And there were many, many Jamaican elites running, especially in the shorter events. They received enormous support, although the crowd was great in acknowledging pretty much everyone. And I do mean everyone

We had lots of thunderstorms moving through last night and at one point the events were delayed for about 45 minutes. The MC, Lewis Johnson, did a good job of keeping us all entertained by asking people to come volunteer to sing their national anthem in a “sing your national anthem” competition. We were treated to the U.S. anthem, the Jamaican anthem (of course), the Trinidad-Tobago anthem and China’s anthem.

Not surprisingly, Jamaica’s got the best response, although not the least of which was because the song sounds like a song you’d hear sung at a Dartmouth football game in 1936. It’s very much a “rah! rah! rah!” song that you’re supposed to sing along to. Much better than Trinidad-Tobago’s, which was more like a funeral durge. Who writes a national anthem in a minor key?

Once the novelty of that wore off, we all just sat there looking at the rain. But then, the announcer screamed, “Ladies and gentlemen! Lane six!”

And, lo, there was a squirrel running in lane six. Right toward the finish line. The squirrel bolted forward, then stopped just short. The crowd applauded. The squirrel reversed. The crowed applauded more. The squirrel turned around and raced across the finish line. The crowd went completely batshit, like the squirrel had just broken a world record! It was hilarious.

In short, it was more fun than I’ve had for $36 in a long while. I’m definitely in for more of these, especially if the crowd’s Jamaican again.

It’s hard to know what to highlight because there was so much talent out there and some very exciting races. Some of the best races were the high schoolers, especially the relays. Other notable events were the men’s 3000m steeplechase, the men’s 800m, the women’s 5000m, the men’s 5000m, the women’s 100m and, of course, the sub-10 second battle between Gay and Bolt.

Some good reports and photos, plus results:
RunBlogRun’s report
Selective recap on LetsRun.com
Some good quotes from the athletes
Prettier pictures than mine
NY Times on Bolt’s new world record
Complete results

Like a horse race…but with people

We spent a little over five hours last night watching some of the best track and field athletes in the world run, vault and throw heavy objects last night at the Reebok Grand Prix on Randall’s Island.

Full report later, but the best was saved for last: the men’s 100 metres, in which Jamaica’s Usain Bolt broke the world record. So we saw the fastest man ever recorded, running about fifty feet in front of us. Very exciting stuff. I’m hooked on track meets now.

I’m off for a 20 miler with 5 at race pace. Ugh.

More later, after pancakes.