Interview with Stephanie Herbst-Lucke

I stumbled across this fairly recent interview with former collegiate elite (and masters comeback) Stephanie Herbst-Lucke by Scott Douglas. In it she provides some interesting perspectives on running in one’s twenties vs. forties.

Herbst-Lucke was a central figure in The Silence of Great Distance, Frank Murphy’s excellent history of the development of women’s distance running in the US in the pre- and post-Title IX era. The book provides a biographical survey of key runners and NCAA teams during that era, placing them into a coherent timeline of how the sport was shaped by Title IX, feminism and the earlier rise in stature of male US distance runners on the world stage. The book also provides a nuanced, compelling treatment of the unique psychological and social pressures experienced by those early female competitors and how they impacted — or, in some cases, ended — their competitive careers.

Herbst-Lucke apparently started showing up at local road races a few years back, where she was occasionally recognized by knowledgeable (and shocked) fellow racers. Despite not having focused on the marathon in her earlier running life, she was among the entrants in Boston earlier this year for the women’s Olympic marathon trials, in which she finished in a respectable 59th place.

Crazy windy

It’s crazy windy outside today. Steady winds of 25mph with gusts up to 50mph.

I am about to attempt an 11 mile easy run with 10 minutes at 5K race effort (6:30 or so — although today, maybe not so much).

I hope I don’t get blown into the next state.

Winter Basebuilding: Week 6

09spr-base-06This week’s watchword was “endurance.”

Five out of eight sessions were done by necessity on the treadmill, and that took a lot of mental endurance, given how long some of those runs were. Doing two runs on Christmas also took no small measure of endurance, especially since my outside world was a frozen hinterland populated by crazed Christmas morning drivers.

I even managed to take a spill and bash my hip and elbow, which had nothing to do with snow, ice or bad drivers. I tripped on an uneven sidewalk panel. That was pretty silly. At least it happened toward the end of the run. I took the second run of Christmas day inside, since I figured I’d already pushed my luck and was fortunate to have come out of that encounter with gravity unscathed.

One unfortunate aspect of running on the treadmill (aside from the boredom, the noise, and having to smell myself) is that I’m still too chicken to attempt very fast running on it. I skipped Wednesday’s planned 20 second strides, since the treadmill takes about 10 seconds to get up to speed anyway, by which time I’m already fiddling with the controls so I can stop the belt lest it propel me through the back wall of our guest room.

It was for this reason that I also went rogue on my training on Friday, when the plan called for 12 repeats of 45 seconds at 2M effort, with 90 second rests. 2M pace is about 6:15 for me now. Since 45 seconds isn’t that much longer than a stride, I decided to again forgo the dangers of fiddling with controls while trying not to get thrown off the back of a high speed conveyor belt. I compromised and instead did six 90 second repeats at 5K effort, with 90 second rests.

I was so sick of the treadmill that I moved the run outside on Saturday, where I was met with a still-frozen over running path. So I did about three miles on the roads, then moved to the path and ran through the slush and ice alongside the iced over path. That was like running in sand, and I felt the effort’s effects on today’s 18 miler: the stabilizing muscles in my inner thighs, hips and ankles all asserted themselves this morning. I won’t run in snow again.

As for the long run today, that was also a tough one, owing to the now-familiar winter winds. In shorts and a tee shirt (62 degrees, in December!) I did two repeats of a six mile loop through Scarsdale and White Plains, during which I was pummeled by a steady 7-10mph headwind (with gusts up to 15mph) for all the north-to-south sections. I’d forgotten how hilly that loop is, so I then decided to move the run onto the running path (since the very warm temps overnight melted most of the snow and ice away). I thought that perhaps being on a tree-lined trail for part of the way would shield me somewhat from the wind, but I must have been delusional.

I met up with Jonathan, who was struggling through a longish run with the last few at half marathon effort (straight into the headwind, of course). We traded complaints for a few minutes and then he ran on. He waited for me after his torture session and we jogged the last mile together back to the car. I made our traditional Long Run Sunday Pancakes, then passed out for an hour and a half on the couch. Thank goodness tomorrow is a rest day.

Coming up in Week 7, a recovery week consisting of a mere 60 miles. I’ll do some tempo running at 5k and 10K effort, capping the week with a 16 miler with the last 75 minutes at marathon effort.

Post #300

That’s right, I’ve found enough gibberish to fill 300 posts over the past few years. I have a grand total of five Bloglines subscribers, attesting to the wild popularity of this blog among runners (and my family members) the world over. Won’t you join me in celebrating my bloviations, which are anonymously spewed into the echo chamber that is the blogosphere?

The reaching of milestones often leads to philosophical ponderings and the seeking of perspective. Or it should. So, rather than “waste” this post on a workaday subject (my weekly training log, an interview with someone much faster than me, or a funny story about what I saw a squirrel do today), I’ll make some observations.

When I started writing this blog in 2006…

… I had a 32-33 inch waist. Now it’s around 28 inches in girth.

… A 10 miler was the week’s big workout; a “long” run that would knock me out for the entire day. Now it’s what I run on my recovery days.

… My resting heart rate was around 60 bpm. Now it’s at 42 on a good day, 48 when I’m tired.

… My 5 mile race pace was 8:00. My marathon race pace today is around 30 seconds per mile faster than that and dropping.

… I had shin splints. All of the time.

… I had just run my first half marathon. I was still too intimidated by the full marathon distance to conceive of running it myself.

… I was happy if I placed in the top 40% of all female finishers. My goals have gotten significantly more ambitious since then.

… It was a year in which I would run just over 1,100 miles. For 2008, I will have run over three times that distance.

… I designed my own marathon training plan and, even though I didn’t know what the hell I was doing, still managed to break four hours on a challenging course for my 2007 debut at the distance.

… I couldn’t drink water from cups during races. I still can’t without inhaling it through my nose and/or spilling it down my front.

… I thought coaches were only for the pros.

I could go on, but I won’t. It’s 5:40 PM on the Sunday after Christmas, and I think that’s as good a time as any to raise a glass in honor of Post 300.

Sammy Wanjiru interview

Nice interview with the young Olympic phenom from Kenya. Also, this piece in the Times, which I can’t see the point of — a race recap four months after the race? Must be a slow news day…

Nike ad

Courtesy of Rinus.

Winter Basebuilding: Week 5

09spr-base-05A notable week for two reasons:

First, three days of doubles were reintroduced after many, many weeks on a luxurious once-a-day schedule; back-to-back doubles, no less. I was a little tired on Wednesday morning after Tuesday’s longish easy run. Fine by Wednesday afternoon. But Thursday’s longer session, complete with intervals, completely wiped me out. That evening I was reminded that this was how I felt all summer long. I was grateful for the little 3 miler on Friday.

The other event of note was running the Ted Corbitt 15K as a training run. I probably ran it a bit too fast, since I didn’t adjust the plan for the conditions. Or not. I’m pushing the paces slightly on all of my quicker runs these days. I can’t help myself. It’s a long way from 3:19 to 3:05 and somehow, with only five months to do it in, I feel very pressed for time.

The weather has been dreadful. We’ve had one big snowstorm, followed by a ministorm the next day. And it’s been wickedly cold. I don’t mind running in sub-zero temps, but the cold is trouble when it means the ice and snow can’t melt.

We’re in for a day or two of warmer temps and rain, so I’m hoping that will wash away a lot of the mess in the streets and on the running path.

Week 6 is another ~85 miler, with some tempo running, intervals and an 18 mile run on Sunday. And Christmas, on which I will run not once but twice.

Take off that race bib and pick up that drink!

Pigtails Flying and I are trying to organize a meet and chat for NYC area running bloggers. Go vote on the best date in January for our meetup.

Race Report: Ted Corbitt 15K


This was toward the end of the race, since I'd been trying to pass that woman in blue for eight miles. Note the efficient heel strike.

It seems fitting that for the inaugural race to honor Ted Corbitt — known as the father of American ultrarunning, among numerous other distinctions — we would have truly treacherous and trying conditions. A race of 9.3 miles is hardly an “ultra.” But today’s race felt a lot longer than it actually was.

Despite yesterday’s surprise storm — which dumped six inches of snow on NYC, followed by sleet and a plunge in temperatures — a few hundred hardy souls convened on Central Park’s 102nd St transverse this morning to honor Ted. The race was declared a “fun run” to discourage people from going nuts and turning it into a speed skating event. Our timing chips were collected and we were on our own to judge our performances against the clock, the conditions and our peers.

I’d been looking forward to this race for weeks, since it was slated to be a true HTFU* effort. Just how HTFU it would be wasn’t clear to me until I actually headed into the city this morning and saw the conditions we’d be running in: Temps in the 20s with wind chills  between 7 and 18; a steady 8-10mph wind from the north; an outer loop coated in a thin layer of semi-frozen slush; transverses consisting of hard-packed snow. I’d say about 15% of the course was totally clear of snow or slush — I can see exactly where those sections were when I look at my GPS route map vs. the speeds I was running at various points.

Not only was I scheduled to run a 15K race, but I also needed to sandwich it in-between 9 miles to make an 18 mile long run. I ended up with a total run of 16.8 miles. The trains and subways were delayed, so I had to cut my pre-race run from 4.5 to 3.5 miles. Then I ran the race. Then — and this was the last thing I wanted to do — I set out to run the third leg. That ended up being 4 miles since the wind chill plunged 10 degrees in the final 15 minutes, my feet were soaked, and I was on the verge of hypothermia.

I do this for fun, remember?

Race time (unofficial): 1:09:10. I’m very pleased with that time considering the crap I ran through, on a course that’s normally pretty difficult anyway. Average pace was 7:24, but I managed a 6:55 for mile 7 (nice downhill) and a 7:07 for mile 9 (flat).

There were so few of us running that the volunteers recognized me as I did multiple loops. Three cute guys, all bundled up and huddled together, saw me approaching prior to the start, with a race number. At first they were confused, thinking the race had started and I was in the lead. Then they figured out that I was just warming up and instead yelled, “You can do it!” For some reason, we all thought that was hilarious. A few others noted that they’d seen me three times rather than two (since I passed by them on my third, extra leg of 4 miles), with one cajoling me, “You can stop running now!”. I thanked a lot of volunteers today.

Despite the conditions (and the considerable effort it took to get there and back on foot from Westchester), I’m glad I did this run today. Central Park was stunning, with a fresh, white coating of snow over everything. People all around us were sledding, cross country skiing and throwing snowballs. A winter wonderland oasis in a city where snow otherwise presents little more than a filthy burden.

After struggling to get out of my wet shoes and socks in a portapotty and endeavoring to get the feeling back in my fingers, I didn’t have the energy to trek the quarter mile to get a half frozen bagel from the boxes on the 102nd St transverse. Unfortunately, the one piece of food I brought with me, a PowerBar, had the appeal (and consistency) of a slate roof shingle; frozen solid! So I found a great little diner on 103rd right across from the subway stop, Jimmy’s, where I got a toasted bagel and hot chocolate.

*Harden The Fuck Up.

Oh, Ted.

For those of you without TV or radio, the east coast is in the midst of a major snow dumping. We’ve gotten about 6 inches of snow so far, and it’s still coming down steadily. I trudged into Manhattan today via foot, train and subway to pick up my race bib and chip. Surprisingly, there were other idiots at NYRR’s offices doing the same thing. But I wonder how many of them came all the way from Westchester. I’m the biggest idiot, dammit! Me! Me!

And apparently the online world abounds with still more idiots. I’ve had hits from lots of people using keywords related to tomorrow’s NYRR race in Central Park, the Ted Corbitt 15K (formerly known as the Hot Chocolate 15K). The search referrals started last week and picked up to a frenzy (eight searches) today.

I don’t dare drive in this mess tomorrow. The traffic report today was comical: “It’s accidents, accidents, accidents all the way up the NY State Thruway and I-95!” So, I will again make my way in via shoeleather express and public transportation. And, since I’m not only racing tomorrow but also doing 9 training miles around it, I’ll need to arrive in Central Park at the ungodly hour of 7:30 at the latest. That means leaving the house by shortly before 6:00.

The alternative is doing this run inside on the treadmill. Frankly, I’d rather run with a bunch of other idiots in sub-freezing temperatures and high winds. Anyone who’s ever done an 18 mile training run on a treadmill will understand this. Besides, there’s free hot chocolate and bagels awaiting. And, if some of the faster runners turn out not to be idiots, I could always place well in my age/gender group.