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November 2005 Archives

November 1, 2005

Intervals Begin With I

In this case, it really is all about me. A lot of you out there in blogworld are in the same boat. We know that speed workouts and hill repeats and intervals are important, but it's just so damn hard to keep up the intensity when you're all by yourself. A lot of the runners on my team train together once or twice a week at the NYRRC organized speed classes, but something about paying to work out rubs me the wrong way. Besides that, I just don't get out of work early enough to participate in those classes. I'm at the end up my rope when it comes to my current job though, so perhaps I'll reconsider once I've finally up and quit.

Meanwhile, it's just me against the world, engaging in some sort of internal child-birthing pep talk (push, push, push!) as I hit the last rise of my 400 meter approximating straight-away. Or in the case of this morning, struggling mightily to stay focused on the task at hand during the third minute of my 3 on/2 off interval session. It was a great workout though. I did a four minute warm up and cool down and then ran the rest of my seven miles using that on and off pattern, with my on's being about at 5K pace or thereabouts.

Pace is another thing that's hard to judge when you're on your own too though. It's been so long since I've run regularly on a track, most of the time it's really an exercise in guesswork. I miss the ability I had in high school to just go out and run a mile in exactly what I was told to. You could have given me a target of 7:14 and I wouldn't have been more than a second off of that, even without quarter splits. This was a great thing the summer I went to running camp and "hit your splits" was one of the competition. I had some sort of internal clock in my head that apparently no longer works so well. But who knows if having running partners on my speed workouts would help with that or not. For the moment, I'm just trying to guage my effort and base my definition of "on" or "off" on that.

November 5, 2005

Ill-Gotten Loot

I still maintain that if the t-shirt doesn't say "finisher" or "participant" on it, then there's nothing wrong with me wearing it. I paid my money to the system and saved my place in the marathon way back in May, so Thursday afternoon I treked over to the Javitz Center and picked up my New York City marathon goodie bag. And then, after dropping a few bucks on BodyGlide and CoolMax at the Expo, turned right around and returned my number. I thought about keeping the actual bib and just returning the chip, but in the end that seemed kind of silly. The race volunteer who canceled my entry thought that it was strange that, being that I'm fairly serious about the sport, I don't own my own chip. I guess I'd never really thought about it before, but as I told her, I guess I'm just waiting for that magic sub-3 race to make me want to keep a race chip. Either that or until some race has one with a really, really cool design on it.

Speaking of cool design, I haven't done a thing as far as working on my new title bar, but perhaps I'll have a second to work on that tomorrow. Most of today was pretty shot as I imbibed a little too enthusiastically last night, and on an empty stomach to boot. Suffice to say, my word choice at the end of that last sentence was apropos. I spent the afternoon at a rather demoralizing graduate school information session and since then, four hours have somehow managed to slip right by me while I wasn't looking. I didn't run at all today, to I'm off to an early bedtime in hopes of running some pretty snappy mile repeats on those famous Harlem Hills that I keep talking about. Then it will be time for the annual viewing of the runners. I've got an ambitious plan to try and see everyone I know in both Brooklyn and on the Upper East Side, so I guess I'll really be getting in two workouts tomorrow.

I'd wish good luck to my friends who will be out there 'enjoying' the balmy weather, but I'll bet they're already tucked in tight, dreaming about the shocking PR's they're going pull off tomorrow. Anyone who does see this though...be sure and smile when you see me with my camera!

November 7, 2005

The Morning After

Friday was bad enough here at work. "Are you running this weekend? You doing the marathon? You ready for the marathon?..." I forced myself to remember that the fiftieth person to ask the question does not know that he is the fiftieth person to ask the question, so I just forced a sweet smile and replied, "No, not this year, maybe in the Spring."

Over and over and over again.

Now here it is Monday and some of those same people are asking..."So, how'd the marathon go?" I'm a nice person; I don't want to slap anyone; I'm hiding in my office.

November 10, 2005

Three Buck Workout

Lactic Acid, I'd like to introduce you to my legs. Legs, this is Lactic Acid. I'm sure the two of you are going to get along just fine. Today must be darn close to peak leaf-color day in the park. This was some comfort this morning as I did manage to register the vivid intensity of the trees as I made my way up and down my unofficially demarcated quarter mile track. Twelve brisk quarters (1 min. rest/2 mins btwn sets) accomplished in the times you see below:

Set 1:84
Set 2:85
Set 3:87
The target was :85 for all of them, so my early enthusiasm did take a toll, but for the most part I think I got the workout I was aiming for. I fit in two 7-mile runs yesterday, so tomorrow will be a total rest day. I'll do some more really easy mileage on Saturday and Sunday takes me back to Van Cortland park to take another whack at the 5K x-c course there. I'll hopefully meet my stated goal to shave thirty seconds off the time I ran there a few weeks ago.
I never did write about my actual marathon day, which despite the fact that I didn't run it, (or probably because I didn't run it) was very fun and exciting. I managed to get to three different spots (Williamsburg, 1st Ave & 5th Ave) to do my cheering and I saw both the elite front runners and my 5 1/2 hour friends and a lot of the people in between twice. Aside from my friends and teammates, my favorite runners were the freaky redheaded Russian twins Olesva and Yelena Nurgalyeva. What with their matching sunglasses and synchronized ponytails, they almost didn't look real.
I felt very inspired by the day and all the more motivated to keep up the effort of working towards a marathon time starting with 2.

November 11, 2005

Personal Manifesto

I was inspired by the header of Duncan Larkin's blog where he cites the elements of his personal magna carta that he hopes to follow in his pursuit of a 2:30 marathon. This is a man who has thus far run eight marathons this year, so I'm not planning to buy all in to his running philosophies, but he does write an entertaining blog and to give the guy credit, as of October 8th, he's only two and a half minutes off of his goal.

So, borrowing a few elements from Duncan, this is how my Sub 3:00 Manifesto reads...
1. Long runs (9+) at sub 150 HR 2. Hill Repeats 3. If it's not a recovery run, it involves intervals. 4. No unnecessary racing 5. Consistent 2x/day stretching (esp. ITB/Piriformis) 5. Crunches every day 6. Limit alcohol consumption to 1 drink/day. 7. 8 hours+ of sleep, every night. 8. Drink water, at least 32 oz a day 9. Weekly mileage > 60. 10. Maximize mileage in singles.

This is, of course, subject to future editing.

This is all especially relevant, since I was leisurely perusing the Advanced Marathoner B schedule the NYRRC posts on their site (with all due credit to Bob and Shelly Glover) and I started counting backwards from Boston so see where I'd need to start following the 18 week plan and lo and behold, week number one begins the day after my much heralded sub-40 10K attempt.

November 14, 2005

X-C Lessons

First of all, I did reach my 5K goal yesterday morning, successfully cutting 33 seconds off of my last time for the same course. I didn't do it in quite the way that I had planned though. My strategy from three weeks ago on where to cut those 30 seconds was this:

  • :05 on the flat first mile
  • @ :03 per uphill....so maybe :15?
  • 10 seconds+ on the last half mile, without question
That all seemed terribly sensible until I tried to compensate for the headwind at the start and ended up running the first mile 15 seconds faster than last time, in 6:05. I did feel much stronger on the hills than last time, but by the time I hit the second mile mark, I was pretty much done. My chest felt painful and tight, my arms and hands ached and my legs felt wobbly and unstable as I allowed gravity to fly me down the steepest of the hills. I guess these were all just symptoms of oxygen debt, but the practical result was that I didn't have any hope at all of picking up the pace on the last flat 600 meters of the course.

Still, I met my goal and I definitely am getting faster. Now I need to figure out what kinds of workouts will help me put off the O2 deficit a bit longer... I think perhaps I see some 800 repeats in my immediate future.

This is also a good reminder to me that I'm really going to have to keep myself in check for the first couple miles of my 10K. There's definitely some speed developing in these legs of mine, but if I let myself go all out right at the beginning when I'm fresh, I'm going to be faced with the prospect of three long miles feeling the way that I did at the end of yesterday's 5K and that is not a happy thought.

November 15, 2005

My Legs Are Tired

I made another deposit to the sub-40 bank this morning with six 800m repeats (w/200m walking rest) on the halfsize cinder track at Riverside Park. It's a washed out, rutted loop of slippery sand and autumn leaves, but there's something about a measured circle that makes a workout seem serious. My times ranged from 3:02 to 3:12, which was a little slower than I was aiming for, but not shocking considering that my 5K was only two days ago and my "rest" day yesterday still added nine miles to the running log.
On an unrelated note, I got a notice from in my inbox today related to my blogging. One of my company's executives sent this:
In this time of the exponential growth of blogs, there are employees who are creating and maintaining personal blogs. Before any such blog is created, the Senior VP of Standards must be informed and must approve the blog. For those of you who are already in the blogosphere, you must contact the Senior VP of Standards. There can be no messages or information posted on these blogs that is potentially damaging to the company if made public.

This will be incorporated in the standards section where employees are required to clear, in advance, with the Senior VP of Standards or the President of the company any speech, op ed, magazine article, book or blog.

I kind of feel that this document is part of my personal life and none of my company's business. On the other hand, I do write a good percentage of the entries here at work. If I make a point to only write from home, does that free me from any responsibility to tell my company about my blog? This is really a rhetorical question though, I've already made up my mind that my blog is my business.

November 16, 2005

Blog Propriety

It's amazing how the knowledge that you are being watched makes you feel as if you have to censor yourself. I can't imagine that my comments are generally of much interest to anyone outside the running community, but all of the sudden I feel self conscious that I'm going to type something inappropriate. Suffice to say, I turned myself in to my company. This means that you all have to behave yourselves for at least a while and please do try to refrain from leaving comments that are too outlandishly off color. Who knows, maybe this is a good thing. It can't hurt for management to see that I'm capable of stringing together coherent sentences and that my little niche blog consistently gets more comments than the company's blog (which did not hire me).

NYRR posted the results of Sunday's cross country meet and I was chagrined to find that I have somehow been disappeared from the record. The nice finish line people handed me my age group trophy as I walked through the chute, but the website skips right over me. I was also not thrilled to see that the little girl who outkicked me at the end was only 13, but at least she won her age group. The crotchety old woman in me couldn't help but grumble, "Just wait until she hits puberty..."

Personally, I'm much more interested in the athletic exploits of the over thirty crowd. I've spent an undue amount of time closely examining the race history of two local runners in particular, in an attempt to glean some kind of training guidance, not to mention some inspiration! Both Michelle Bleakley (who has unfortunately moved back to Australia)and another local runner, Anne Kugler, ran 2:43 marathons this fall. But I went back in both their race histories and found that just three years ago, when they were my age, their race times were only marginally faster than mine. Michelle Bleakley did have a baby during the interim time and there is some evidence that there is a physiological boost from going through that "training regime", but still...it's hard to look at the results of their efforts and discipline and not think...Why not me?

To end on a light note, a little marathon humor.

November 18, 2005


My nose was running this morning; I think I may be coming down with pneumonia. I sometimes get a pain right above my belly button when I do sit-ups; I think my hernia may be back. If I'm feeling this fatigued on only 50 miles a week, does that mean my iron could be low? And most urgently, there's a specific spot on the front of my right shin that's been hurting when I run and lately, even hurts when I walk; could it be a stress fracture??

We become so sensitive to the feedback we get from our bodies that it's incredibly easy to start analyzing and overanalyzing to the point that we just know that we're always on the verge of injury. You're probably especially prone to this tendency if you've ever struggled with a chronic strain or pain that just won't go away, even after icing and resting and taking time off and doing all the things that are supposed to make you whole and healthy again.

According to a family medicine website that I found, "significant injury occurs in 50% of runners each year." So maybe we're not so much paranoid as we are acutely aware of the risk we are putting ourselves at.

So as I sit here on the couch poking and prodding the achy spot on the side of my shin, I'm doing a little online research as to what it might be besides a tibial stress fracture. I'm comforted by the idea that I probably have shin splints, which is a little sick in itself, but I feel like shin splints are a diagnosis I can handle. There's something else called exertional compartment syndrome that doesn't sound too terrible either, but few things do when you're comparing them to a stress fracture. Everything I'm reading recommends rest, which seems like a luxury I can't really afford during the three weeks before my target 10K, but as another runner used to say to me, the first rule of training is always Don't Get Hurt.

Luckily, tomorrow is a rest day anyway and according to the somewhat overly cheerful folks at Road Runner Sports, I've got a brand new pair of super cushiony, supportive shoes running to my door as we speak, so I'll reevalutate next week and see what's best to be done. I haven't yet taken advantage of the indoor trainer that I got for my birthday, so this may be the perfect time to balance out my outdoor track work with low impact endurance workouts on the bike. I guess I need to start adjusting to the idea that I may not reach that goal of 2,000 miles for the year after all. I just went over 1,700 today, so it will be close...

November 24, 2005

Tender Loins

Three days of not running and my leg hurts worse that it did to start with. I stretch, I ibuprofen, I rest, I ice...well, I keep meaning to ice...and still, the darn thing keeps aching. I'm trying to think of it like a paper cut. The kind of thing that hardly hurts at all when the injury in actually inflicted, but then the real pain starts once it starts healing. So I'm trying to stay positive while I visualize that the pain means the fibres of my shin bone are fusing and the tears in my calf muscle are fading away.

Meanwhile, I'm currently undergoing the process of adjusting to the new training regime on the bike. A hour to start with on Monday night while watching the first half of Evita, 22 minutes yesterday morning, and another hour and a quarter tonight while watching the rest of the movie. Getting the seat position right has been a bit of a challenge and the delicate little bones of my lower pelvis are the worse for it. My bike seat is hugely padded compared to the little split wedge of titanium that plays the role of "seat" on my boyfriend's bike, but it still seems to dig into my nether regions in the most unpleasant way.

At the same time, my whole body seems pitched forward at too great an angle. I'm not used to the weight on my hands and arms that riding necessitates and can't tell if that means the bike needs to be adjusted somehow or if I just need to get used to these new physiological demands.

Aside from the physical discomfort, I do think I can get a good workout from the trainer. I've been spinning at a comfortable 90-ish rpm at about a 140-150 HR. It makes me sweat up a storm, even with the window open and the fan on, but it doesn't cause me to feel out of breath. I think I could keep that pace up for quite a long while if not for the aching palms and privates, but I think I'm most of the way towards figuring out the necessary logistical fixes for those problems.

November 25, 2005

Comment Responses

Since I'm not even commenting on the blog from work anymore, I have a little catching up to do. And when better to do it than on a rare day off from work, relaxing after a two hour bike session with a glass of Emergen-C and a big ol' ice pack balanced on my shin?

Obviously I've got some of the kinks worked out on the bike routine, though I think a pair of better bike shorts would probably serve me well and I'll start saving my pennies now for one of those cool Terry bike seats. Lowering the seat stem, sliding the seat forward and propping the front wheel up a little higher all served to make riding much more comfortable. Chris' suggestion to rest my arms flat on the handle bars, however, didn't work so well as that position caused my knees to pummel my chest in a most unpleasant manner.

I'm the first to admit that I know next to nothing when it comes to heart rate training and even less than that when it comes to training on a bike, but anything below 140 just seems like a negligible effort to me. I should do a proper workout to test this, but I'm pretty sure that my Max HR is somewhere just over 200. Using a HR Calculator, this indicates that my aerobic conditioning range should be between 140 and 160. My average for two hours today was 142, but since I'm hoping that my work on the bike will still allow me to keep training for my December 10K, I also threw in several three minute bursts at 170. Alright, that's enough in the way of training minutiae for one entry.

The other matter I wanted to address was whether I have/am planning to run Boston. Yes, I have, in 1994 and 2002. It may not have a reputation as a fast course, but I PR'd there both times and still consider it a reasonable race for my next sub-three attempt. The biggest question mark there is the weather, but that's true for almost any race. I'd consider another Spring marathon, but few of the non-Boston options really appeal to me. Maybe L.A., just because I like big city marathons. I've heard that Rotterdam is fast and I've wanted to run London, but I think it may already be too late for me to even apply for that one. It's silly to even speculate too much though until I figure out how serious this current pain in my leg is.

November 28, 2005

Where The Mileage Ends.

When confronted with an injury, I did the sensible thing. I stopped running. For one week, I've been all about the bike. I've been a bit of a cross-training skeptic, but after my second two-hour ride in a row, I had to admit that my legs were feeling the effort. The shin pain wasn't gone-gone, but it had ebbed to the point where I felt ready to test it a little bit.

So Sunday morning I trekked back up to the Bronx to run the annual 15K cross country race at Van Cortland park. I wasn't planning on pushing the pace at all and it was really more a social thing than it was a race as I was joined by my boyfriend, a runner house guest of ours and my friend Connie and her husband. You feel much less obsessive compulsive when you can actually assemble a group of sane, intelligent friends who also think that running a hilly 5K course three times in a row is a fun way to spend a free afternoon.

The house guest is training for a marathon in January, so he took off at an optimistic 7-minute pace, but the rest of us hung back at a conversational jog. My man, one week after a marathon, pushed the pace a little on the uphills, but for the most part, it was a comfortable effort and aside from a couple of twinges during the first mile, my worrisome leg gave me no trouble at all. As we came out of the woods for the first time, we were right behind another woman and as she passed by one of her teammates watching the race, I heard the fateful words..."fifth woman". "What?? So that makes me sixth?"

After taking the first loop fairly easy, my legs still felt fresh, so less than a minute after that, I'd passed both that woman and the one in front of her and I had my sights on yet another one about fifty yards ahead. It's amazing how quickly my relaxed, comfortable workout turned back in to a real competition once I realized that I was actually in the race. It takes some time for the cross country results to get posted, but I ended up winning my age group and I'm pretty sure I was third overall with a 1:07:45 or so. All in all, it worked out perfectly. I didn't run at a crazy, all out pace, but I still got in a great workout and my leg, knock on wood, seems to be recovering from whatever ailed it. I'm still going to try and schedule an MRI for this week, just to be certain and I'm going to keep riding the bike in lieu of everyday running, but with any luck, I should still be in good shape for the 10K on December 11th.

Any hopes of hitting 2,000 miles for the year however, have been left at the curb with the carcass of Thursday's big turkey. It's easy to look back and see where just a few more miles here or there would have made it possible, but in the end, it's just a number and the numbers I'm interested in have much more to do with my race times.

About November 2005

This page contains all entries posted to Change of Pace in November 2005. They are listed from oldest to newest.

October 2005 is the previous archive.

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