*For mice only.

And then there are those of us who actually enjoy distance running.

Nice profile of Magdalena Lewy Boulet

In the East Bay Express.

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.

And…it’s over

Our atmosphere is back to providing an experience similar to that of running inside of a giant gas dryer vent.

Oh, well. It was good while it lasted. For all of two hours.

At last, relief

This morning I woke up and it was as if Satan had given me a day pass out of Hell. It was 65 degrees out with a dewpoint at 55. It almost — almost — felt like fall.

I’d pushed a 12 miler with some at marathon pace out to this morning, hoping the weather would cooperate. It’s a recovery week and this is the only hard workout I have (unless you count the easy 16 I’ll do on Sunday). Damned if I was going to suffer through it in a heat index of 95.

I had, for the first time in weeks, an enjoyable run. Cool and breezy, and hardly anyone out clogging up the running path at 7:30AM. Oh, I still sweated like a fiend, but I didn’t feel as though I was melting. Big difference.

Today was the highlight weatherwise, although it doesn’t look like tomorrow or Sunday will be too bad. I’m sure I’ll be back living and running in Hell soon enough.

Slippery semantics

Fellow blogger Greg Dempster was confused by my use of the term “basebuilding” in relation to the training I’m doing right now. I’m not using it as it’s typically used in the classic sense. So in the interest of reducing confusion, I’m going to rename all those weekly logs to “Training” — just like the springtime series.

Thanks, Greg!

Fall Training: Week 9

Well, I’m in the thick of training now. This week was designed to be a little easier than last, although when you factor in the heat wave’s effects, I probably worked about as hard as last week. I just felt much worse doing it!

We’ve had temps in the 90s and dewpoints above 70, which means heat indices in the 100F range. Yoiks, that makes for some lame paces.

I did just over 96 miles with three hard workouts: hills on Wednesday, an easy run on Friday and a 22 miler today. The muscle soreness reported last week has eased off, although I did wake up at 3AM last night with it again, but not as severe as last week. I’m hoping this means it’s going to repeat last season’s pattern as something that shows up early in the training cycle, then disappears as my legs get used to the load.

No Billat surges on the Friday run since I wanted to preserve my legs for today. I still had trouble, mostly owing to the weather.

A look back at the week:

  • Monday: 6.1 miles recovery pace (AM); 6 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Tuesday: 6.2 miles recovery pace (AM); 6.1 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Wednesday: 11.8 mile easy run with 6×1 hill repeats
  • Thursday: 6.4 miles recovery pace (AM); 5.6 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Friday: 9.9 miles easy pace (AM); 4.8 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Saturday: 6.1 miles recovery pace (AM); 5.2 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Sunday: 22 mile long run with 3 miles at 105% of marathon pace

Total mileage: 96.1 miles

Paces this week:

  • Recovery: 10:00 – 11:03
  • Easy: 8:31
  • Long: 7:45 – 10:00

I managed to get in the hill run before the worst of the heat wave took hold. I did them a bit slower this time around, with the net effect being that not only did I not have to walk during any of them, but my rest periods were slower and the repeat times completely consistent. In other words, my performance didn’t dramatically crater for the fifth and sixth repeat. That has to be good for something.

The long run today was a real bitch. I’d originally wanted to do 12 miles at easy pace followed by 10 at 105% x marathon pace. That plan quickly fell apart after mile 15. Oddly enough, my heart rate was in a very reasonable range, but my legs felt dead and I was out of breath (might have something to do with the heat, humidity and bad air quality). And this was inside on the treadmill. I can’t fathom how Jonathan managed to run 22 miles outside this morning.

I eased back on most of the remaining miles, running around 8:30 pace with the final two at a 9:40 crawl. At least I ran the whole 22, despite several attempts to talk myself out of it.

In other news, I registered for the first of two NYRR training runs in Central Park. I’ll be doing some marathon pace running on this one (if I go; at $7, I won’t feel too bad if I decide to bag the idea for one reason or another come August 2). It’s a good deal: race-like support and a crowd to pull me along. I do wonder how I’ll hack getting into town by the 7:00AM start. If I get DOMS again, maybe I’ll be up anyway!

Coming up in Fall Training Week 10: A much appreciated recovery week. Ahhh.

Something to make summer training even more unpleasant

High levels of lactic acid, carbon dioxide emissions and body heat are mosquito magnets, apparently. Enjoy that evening run!

Fall Training: Week 8

Week one of my “build” period of basebuilding went off with a bang — and ended with a milestone: I ran just under 97 miles this week, which is the most I’ve run in a week. Ever.

There was a lot of variety this week, with no less than four quality sessions* including an experiment with a relatively unsung method for improving VO2 max (more below). I also did two harder workouts back to back on Tue/Wed, just to see how I’d feel later in the week.

I know this week’s cumulative mileage, combined with some harder workouts (and the back-to-back sessions), was enough to facilitate some adaptation because I had two incidences of the dreaded DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) late in the week, back to back (surprise, surprise). This happened in the early days of hard training for my spring race, but it eventually went away, so I’m not worried about it. Unfortunately, it always seems to strike in the dead of the night, which totally disrupts my sleep cycle. It’s annoying, but I’m not annoyed enough to shift my harder runs to late in the day.

A look back at the week:

  • Monday: 6.1 miles recovery pace (AM); 5 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Tuesday: 11.8 miles easy pace with speed intervals on the track
  • Wednesday: 15.2 mile long run (steady pace)
  • Thursday: 6.1 miles recovery pace (AM); 6.2 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Friday: 10.1 miles easy pace with Billat surges (AM); 4 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Saturday: 6.2 miles recovery pace (AM); 6.1 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Sunday: 20 mile long run with 4 miles at marathon pace

Total mileage: 96.8 miles

Paces this week:

  • Recovery: 9:10 – 10:33
  • Intervals: 6:46 – 7:02
  • Easy: 8:02 – 8:58
  • Long: 8:32
  • Marathon pace: 7:25

Although I’m much better acclimated to the heat and humidity (and it was bad early in the week), my reaction to it seems very inconsistent. For example, on Tuesday I really struggled with doing intervals (1200m), when the temp was 75 and the humidity 85%. I’d planned to do 4-5 at 4:55-5:10 each, but ended up doing 3, dropping the workout when I had legs of lead midway through the 4th. It was quite uncomfortable running in the heat, and a brisk wind of around 10mph on the backstretch was also a factor.

The combined heat and humidity was even worse on Wednesday (same temp, but 87% humidity), yet I managed to run an 8:32 pace over 15 miles (less than 24 hours after speedwork, no less), with no water stops. I’ve always been better at long running, but I was very surprised by how easy the run was, and even pleasant at times. It was so bad out that I could actually wring sweat out of my shirt when I got home.

On Friday I did an easy run over 10 miles and threw in something I’d like to experiment with: I call them “Billat surges” (maybe other people do too, but if they do I’m not aware of it). What are Billat surges? They are a series of surges of faster running at V02 max, broken up with recoveries of equal time length at 50% of V02 max. They are based on several studies by French researcher (and 1:18 half marathoner) Veronique Billat. Information here and here.

In my case, this worked out to running for 30 seconds at around 6:20 per mile pace, followed by 30 seconds at 9:30 pace. It’s a great idea, but unfortunately my execution was lousy. I attempted to do this along Pipeline Road, a long, unsidewalked stretch of road that runs between Scarsdale and Hartsdale train stations (and the only way to get from the south to the north paved pedestrian path). It was rush hour (which means lots of crazed SUV drivers who can’t be bothered to slow down and move over 12 inches to keep from killing me) plus there was construction going on, so it was pretty chaotic.

Also, I’ve discovered that the Garmin takes just about 30 seconds to figure out what pace you’re running, so it’s very difficult to know if you’re going too slow, too fast or just right. The result was a series of 12 on/offs at anywhere from 5:55 to 6:45 pace for the “on”s. Not exactly on target. I want to incorporate these workouts into fall race training, so I’ll probably end up going to the track and doing them there, where I can put down some sort of markers for distance and just use the watch as stopwatch.

The muscle soreness appeared at 3:00AM on Friday night and then again, like clockwork, at 3:00 AM again last night. So I’ve gotten around 11 hours of sleep between those two nights. And yet, despite that, I felt pretty good this morning. Good enough to do a 20 miler inside on the treadmill with miles 16 through 19 at a pace equivalent to a 3:15 marathon (7:27ish — nothing’s exact on the treadmill).

I started this training cycle two months ago at 3:18 paces and guessed that I could move down to 3:15 at this point. Now I’m thinking I should move down further, since my heart rate for the marathon pace miles was between 81-84%. Pretty low effort. So I’ll start training (at least inside, where it’s not insanely hot) at 3:12-3:13 paces for the next few weeks as I attempt to work my way down to 3:08 training paces for October.

My, how the mind wanders while running 20 miles inside. Over the years, when trapped in a tedious environment, I’ve made up a little mental game of thinking up names for nonexistent rock bands (here are three: Girl in Trouble, Shudder To Think and Gay Baby). I thought up a good one for a band consisting of runners today: Cardiac Creep.

To further fill the three hours of tedium in my little room of torture, I listened to a newish mix of mp3s while watching parts of various movies. If you’ve never combined random music as background to popular movies, it’s time you tried. You could probably skip the next Whitney Biennial because you will hit on something approaching art, since wildly incongruous pairings of musical and cinematic artistic expression can result. Some of the odd (and, I suppose, ironic) pairings this morning included:

  • “Let The Good Times Roll” (The Cars) playing behind a scene from “Cape Fear” (the remake) in which Robert DeNiro takes a chunk out of poor Ileana Douglas‘ cheek with his bare teeth.
  • “More Human Than Human” (White Zombie) playing behind a scene of Edward Norton getting the crap beaten out of him in “Fight Club”.
  • “Highway To Hell” (AC/DC) playing behind a scene of Molly Ringwald sewing what looks like a pink potato sack prom frock in “Pretty In Pink”.

What else is there to say? I’m a strange person.

Coming up in Fall Training Week 9: I hold the pace at 97 miles, but with a little less intensity. I’ll do another attempt at the Billat surges, another set of hill repeats, and a little more marathon pace running. All capped by the first 22 miler in about four months. This is assuming my legs don’t explode in the middle of the night first.

*Probably too many. But, hey, I’m excited.