In praise of rain gear

I’ll post my week’s basebuilding report shortly. But for now I wanted to extol the virtues of having proper rain gear. Today I did a 17 miler in foul weather. Freezing rain was coating the ground when I started. That quickly shifted to plain old rain, hitting me at a 45 degree angle due to high winds.

I’ve got full body armor, but I didn’t wear all of it today. I needed to run the last two miles fast and my Goretex shoes are real clodhoppers. I also couldn’t deal with the Goretex pants. Not only do they flap around, but I sweat like crazy in them (they are not really as breathable as the marketing would have you believe).

But I did wear two key pieces of clothing for wet weather: my waterproof Asics baseball cap and a bicycling jacket that I picked up last year from, of all places, L.L. Bean. The cap is great. The jacket is okay, but not great for very long runs. That’s because it doesn’t breathe that well. I end up drenched in sweat, which soaks through the base- and mid-layers, which then leads to feeling like I’m on the verge of hypothermia. That’s actually not a bad thing, since it forces me to run faster in order to keep from freezing to death!

The whole run was an ongoing experiment in flexibility and improvisation. I knew that a few of the roads I normally run on would be too dangerous, so I drove to the halfway point and ran north (fewer cars) to the Valhalla Dam. But the footing was really treacherous. So I just did a 10 mile out and back, then took to the streets of Scarsdale, where the layer of sleet and slush had melted somewhat. I also figured that if I did have any sort of problem (slipping and breaking something, getting too cold), I always had the option of knocking on someone’s door for help, whereas I’d be in the middle of nowhere had I headed north again.

I guess it’s time to set up the treadmill again.

I didn’t realize how soaked I was until I got back to the car: waterlogged shoes and socks, soaking tights and nearly-saturated gloves. I wish someone would invent tights and shoes that can cope with wet weather without weighing down the wearer. On the other hand, when I think about what people had to train in just a few decades ago — cotton and leather — I’m grateful that technical fabrics have come as far as they have.


For all who have been curious, I’ve posted a photo (highly stylized) of me with my new blonde locks on the About page.

Mormons, pole dancing, and the Olympics. What you need to know.

I suppose if they can let in the people who twirl ribbons on sticks, they can let these people in too.

Childhood obesity PSA

Saw this great little PSA from the creative minds at ACT this morning on Euronews.

Legally blonde

About two months ago I decided to cut all my hair off. Well, not all of it. But it’s pretty short. But still very feminine. I would describe it as pixie-ish.

That apparently set off some sort of chain reaction in my brain because I then began flirting with the idea of going blonde. I was a towhead for the first few years of my life, so I figured I had the right coloring to start with to not end up looking like a freak.

Yesterday I took the plunge. Having never had my hair colored, it was a real education. Over the course of three hours, I had bleach spread on my head in two separate sessions, some heat lamp time, non-culinary use of Saran Wrap, then the spreading of blonde dye color, and the renewal of my pixie haircut, with multiple washings inbetween. I caused quite a stir, since I’m known at the salon as a normally quiet, reserved person, and my hair is — while not brunette — a subdued brown to start with. Such a radical departure ran counter to their expectations of my personality, it seems.

The intial bleaching revealed an interesting color — sort of an Edie Sedgwick/Annie Lennox white-blonde with buttery overtones. We debated keeping it that way, but ultimately decided it didn’t go with my warmer skin tone. So we went with a straw-colored blonde. It’s very light. So light that I’m practically Finnish. An interesting side effect is that my normally mushy-colored hazel eyes now look very green.

I’ll post a picture or two soon.

Track Tracks: Maria Bamford

I’d say I run with an MP3 player about half the time these days. Typically on longer runs when I’m not doing anything special that I need to pay attention to (like running faster intervals). I usually listen to music, but sometimes for a change I download a comedy album from Rhapsody To Go.

This week’s comedy album was Maria Bamford’s Burning Bridges Tour. And it is funny. So funny that I was occassionally laughing out loud while trying to appear normal and not lose my form. I hope passersby didn’t think I was laughing at them.

Trying to describe someone’s comedy act is…well, it’s impossible, really. So I won’t try. But, for some context, I first became aware of Bamford while watching a show about one of the Comedians of Comedy tours a few years back, which featured another favorite comedian, Patton Oswalt.

Today I’ll listen to her other album, How to WIN!.

“What’s it like to race a marathon?”

Specifically, the New York Marathon? This race report from Pascal Lauffer vividly describes the agony and the ecstacy.

Winter Basebuilding: Week 1


A few days ago I posted about having hired Kevin Beck as my coach. His first order of business was to come up with a plan to help me rebuild my base. This past week marked my initial foray into this new venture.

I plan and track every day of running in Excel. This enables me to not only see what I’m doing at a glance, but I can do other nifty things, like calculate number of sessions, total mileage, miles at recovery pace, etc. I also keep diary-like notes below each week so I can easily see what was going on over the course of a season.

I’ll just post each week’s sessions (sans the diary entries) here. If anyone would like a copy of this Excel workbook, just let me know and I’d be happy to email it (virus free!) to you. It’s offered “as is,” meaning you’re on your own to figure out how to fill it in or make other changes to it (or fix it if you gum up the formulas). If I wanted to work in software support, I’d move to Bangalore.

Some comments about this week:

As compared to my last basebuilding round in the summer, there are marked differences. Most notably, no doubles! Note also that the recovery runs on a few days are very short. That will change as my mileage builds back up from 60 to 85 over the coming month. The inclusion of longer recovery runs runs counter to advice I’ve read in various places (including Pfitzinger), the “common wisdom” being that you shouldn’t do recovery runs that last more than an hour. Such rules were made to be broken, or at least questioned, it seems.

Also note that, unlike traditional, old school basebuilding approaches (think Lydiard), it’s not all “easy” (or, here, “recovery”) running, meaning below 70% maximum heart rate. I have some real workouts in here, and it’s only week 1. On the blue days, I’m running most of the miles around the quicker bits (ex: 8K effort segments) at a reasonably hard effort, meaning “easy” pace (between 75-82% mhr). These are challenging workouts, as evidenced by my need for a half our nap after Thursday’s effort.

I also am doing strides on one of the recovery days, something I never did in the past.

Despite all the fast running, I felt very fresh and ready for yesterday’s race. I also feel fine after a 16 miler this morning. True, I’m coming off of many weeks of recovery, and the mileage was low this week. But I’m pleased with how I feel and my ability to run faster paces without late-week exhaustion resulting.

Just to fill in all the blanks, here’s a rundown of what I did during my five weeks of post-marathon recovery:

Oct 13-19: 5 miles recovery pace
Oct 20-26: 39 miles, 75% recovery / 25% easy
Oct 27-Nov 2: 42 miles, 50% recovery / 50% easy
Nov 3-9: 48 miles, 40% recovery / 60% easy
Nov 10-16: 35 miles, 40% recovery / 60% easy, and a bonus cold!

Coming up in Basebuilding Week 2: Ten more miles, longer recovery runs, and still more running at 8K and 10K effort. Plus some delicious lamb on Thanksgiving.

Race Report: Nyack Hospital 10K

Just a short report, since this wasn’t technically a race for me. It was a training run, a “tempo on steriods,” with two miles at a quickish pace running sandwiched on either side, making for a brisk 10+ miler.

It was fah-ree-zing this morning. Jesus Christ. The wind chill was 11 degrees when I did my first two miles and probably “warmed up” to around 14 degrees by the 9AM start. There was also an impressive wind from the WNW, probably in the 18mph range, with gusts. That was most noticeable for miles three and four, although it made for a helpful tailwind for the last 1+ mile.

It was sort of fun to run in a race without caring about the results or feeling the need to push myself. In fact, I was not supposed to push myself, and there were times in the race when I was thinking, “Eh, this feels too easy.” Still, I had the pleasure of handily passing two women in the last 1.5 miles who’d been out of reach by a mere fifty yards or so since the race start. What I lack in raw speed (at least for now) I make up for in endurance.

Here’s another interesting thing: I felt very fresh during this race, despite all the faster running this week. Or maybe because of it? I also think doing a nice, long two mile warmup (which I started at a 9:30 pace and ended at around 8:10) got all systems nice and primed to go fast. I felt loose and relaxed throughout, even during the windy and hilly bits. I think I may try a longer warmup for shorter races in the future.

Although he’s recover(ing?)ed from his injury, Jonathan’s not ready to race just yet, so he opted out of this one. Instead, he graciously played the role of support crew, facilitating numerous changes to layering and accessories, and ferreting out secret women’s rooms. He did get a free bagel out of the deal, though, and the chance to sit in a hospital waiting room for 45 minutes, listening to Muzak.

We didn’t hang around for the awards ceremony because last year it took forever to get started. It turns out I was sixth female overall, third female master (and third in my age group, which was a broad — heh heh — women 40-49). I had a feeling I’d win something, but the awards last year were really cheesy. I know. I’m becoming blasé and snobbish about winning age group awards now. Only because my eyes are on bigger prizes now, like actually placing in the top three overall. I’m close: Had I actually raced today, I could have easily taken third place.

Fookin’ chilly!

As in 2007, winter has arrived a month early in an instantaneous, nostril-freezing blast over the last couple of days. We had one of the longest winters in the quarter-odd century I’ve lived in New York last year, and I’m wondering if this year will be a repeat.

No matter. Except for the problem of ice and the demonic drivers who hurtle over it with aplomb in their two ton deathmobiles (we have precious few sidewalks in our suburban hamlet), I love winter training. The colder the better.

Racing in cold weather is even more delighted squeal inducing, and I’ll have a chance to race in wind chills of around 13 degrees tomorrow morning. I ran my measly five recovery miles this morning at embarrassingly slow pace in anticipation. Race report to come.

For now, it’s almost 4PM on Thanksgiving Week Eve, which means everyone I work with has ceased to care about anything, a situation that I happily embrace. I’m technically working today, but it consists of cleaning out my email inbox and addressing the 14 inch high stack of crap that’s accumulated on my desk over the last 11 months. My manager at Massive Nameless Corporation just dragged me into gifted me with two more months-long projects, so I’m feeling fairly confident that I’ll be able to continue to pay for running shoes, quality beer and interesting cheeses for another year.