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April 27, 2005

more backs

Yesterday was my first track workout since the marathon. We did 1200s, which in my naive opinion would've been swell pre-marathon but seemed a little questionable a week post-marathon. But I'm not a coach and my scheduled workout was a little lighter than usual anyway, so oh well. Goal time was 4:55 but I ended up averaging 4:48. I'm still not quite able to run with any of the groups so I ran alone.

I always delude myself that the coach sets goal times based on some mystical knowledge of my current fitness, and whatever pace I set out running will magically be that pace. WRONG. He sets those goals sometimes 9 weeks in advance, and they're usually in the ballpark but sometimes in the outfield, and I never "naturally" hit the right pace. I am a lousy judge of pace, worst I ever saw.

This evening saw me back in the gym for the first time in a while. The gym was celebrating its 1st anniversary so there was a mob, lots of junk food and even an acoustic duo playing youngboy emo, ish. Partly because I wasn't in a party mood, I kept it short and easy - 20 minutes stairmaster and a measly 10 minutes elliptical.

I feel really good, and because of that I'm afraid I'll do too much and get injured like I did last year.

Which leads to...like Alison, I also feel a little directionless lately. I've picked a fall marathon but I don't feel like I really have a good plan to get there. I wonder about training plans that involve periodization. We don't really do that in our running club; I think the philosophy is to be ready for a marathon anytime an interesting one comes along. This works very well for the really talented people in the club, but probably anything would work for really talented people. I've had reasonable luck doing this for 2 years, but I wonder if there's a way I could do better.

Posted by joe positive at 9:03 PM | Comments (0)

April 24, 2005

something new

This morning I took part in a triathlon relay. Every year my company foots the bill for anyone who wants to do the thing as a team. As I mentioned yesterday, I signed up a long time ago and agreed to do it mainly as sort of a dare to myself to get over the sfx and keep running.

As a team, we were kind of doomed before we started. Yesterday at registration our bike guy showed up and announced he was too sick to compete. In an event with over 3000 people we somehow managed to find out about a guy who'd showed up from Miami with his bike, looking to ride, so he joined our team. This made him the senior member when it came to tri experience, because the swimmer and I had none. The swimmer also had no competitive swimming experience, no open-water experience, and no wetsuit experience (also no alarm-clock experience, as we later found out), and I was just coming off a marathon and had no idea what I could do for 10k, so we were certainly a motley crew.

This morning: show up insanely early for bodymarking and then hang out for 4 hours waiting to run. In the swim-bike transition area I learned that the swimmer had slept through his alarm (our new friend the bike guy called him and woke him up) so we weren't sure he'd actually made it into the water. It turns out he did, but he got a cramp and had to be pulled out of the water, so we were disqualified. The bike guy and I decided to do our thing anyway just for fun.

Running in a triathlon is weird if you're used to road races where everyone starts together. There's no front-of-the-pack and no one to pace off of; you just go. I was afraid this would work against me (I am highly motivated by fear of falling behind people in front of me), but it didn't at all. I ran fairly even splits, was able to pick it up in the middle and at the end, finished 11s slower than my PR. I felt really good the whole time, and I spent the entire race passing people and nobody but nobody passed me. Of course, by this time the road was full of tired age-group triathletes and I actually felt kind of guilty because there's no way I could do what they do, nor would I ever want to. I passed some women, heard something that sounded like a question and then the answer "yes, she IS" and I knew that the question must have been "is she a relay runner?"

I was struck by the contrast between this thing and Boston. Today someone along the course looked right at me and said "5051, good running, very strong" and it rocked because he was talking to me, and I was running well and feeling good. Compared to the hey-batta-batta jabber of Boston, this was 180 degrees away.

Posted by joe positive at 5:26 PM | Comments (3)

April 23, 2005

nothing broken yet

I started running two days after the marathon, and apart from the usual something-always-feels-a-little-funny, everything seems ok. The runs have all been short so far (the longest, 5 miles, was this morning), and I haven't been trying for any special pace, but I find myself running a good bit faster than usual. This tells me that I'm recovering well, and my legs are responding to the much-lighter mileage this week. I figure as I add more miles my pace will slip back to something much slower.

I could blow all this good fortune to hell tomorrow, because I'm doing the running leg (10k) of a triathlon relay. I signed up for this months and months ago, not longer after the sfx was diagnosed. I was pretty depressed about the injury, and agreeing to a race way in the future was a way of promising myself I wouldn't quit running altogether. Anyway, the thing is tomorrow and I've never done anything like this before so I'm interested to see how it will turn out.

Posted by joe positive at 3:11 PM | Comments (0)

April 20, 2005

back on the chain gang

First day back to work since Thursday, and oh dear god I am completely snowed under. My partner just left for a 3-week vacation in China, so I have to cover for him while he's gone. We work on something that is So Dang Important That It Must Be Up 24/7 Or Else so there's never really a day off. I'm also scheduled to be on call next week and the week after. Many's the time I think about leaving IT altogether.

But on to happier things...although my quads are still a little sore and I'm still very dehydrated, I ran (trotted is more like it) a little over 2 miles this morning. It was completely stress-free, and actually helped my legs feel better. I think I'm going to run the Baltimore marathon this fall.

Posted by joe positive at 8:09 PM | Comments (1)

April 19, 2005

race non-report

I'm not much for writing race reports. I enjoy reading other peoples' reports, but I can't understand how anyone can remember the blow-by-blow for each mile. I tend to lose my mind in races. Anyway, here are some things I can remember:

I started in the 11th corral, though I was hoping for a much faster time than that indicated (ah, hubris). It took over 9 minutes to cross the start line. We walked pretty much the whole way but once we crossed I found myself running shoulder to shoulder with people who were running, as someone else very nicely put it, "at a pace a good bit slower than their qualifying pace." The first couple of miles were slower than I'd have liked but still acceptable, but the 3rd mile was something like 8 minutes and I lost a whole lotta love for humankind and all their inventions, particularly the Boston marathon. I began to feel like a circus animal trotting along for the entertainment of the people lining the road.

Things gradually began to thin out and I was able to pick up the pace, and I turned my attention to the problem of how to take in enough water. It wasn't that hot but it was very sunny and very dry (to this Floridian), and I knew I wouldn't be able to handle any calories if I didn't have enough water. In my only other marathon I didn't eat anything, and the wheels came off at 21, so this time I'd tried to train my stomach to accept something along the way. To make a long story short, the whole thing backfired. I ate a gel at 8 miles, stopped in a john to lose it at 17 miles, also lost 3 minutes in that mile.

After that I never really gained back full momentum, either physically or mentally. I was nauseated by the food smells from the roadside partiers. I started walking through water stops (and continued this even as late as mile 24 or 25). I needed the water, but at the same time it made me feel sick. As I was walking through one stop a girl downed her water, patted me on the back and said "c'mon, let's go." I never saw her again (actually ended up passing her), but she had "Mexico" on her shirt and she has my undying gratitude. With a mile to go I decided I wasn't going to walk any more, and I finished with a chip time of 3:32:42, which was a tiny 3-minute PR but nowhere near what I'd hoped for. I ran a 12-minute positive split, and even with the time lost in the john and the gallowalking, that's still a lot of time.

After taking off my chip I lay down on the street, tried to puke or pass out, decided it wasn't necessary, stayed down for a while until I was sure I could get up.

Amazingly, after a bath and a little bit of horizontal I felt pretty ok, and we went out with a few running club people for dinner, drinks, and a little crazy dancing, doing the hotdog to a horrible cover band playing horrible 80s top-40 tripe. The hotdog, for those of you too young to remember the Patty Duke show, "makes you lose control." I suppose that if I could do the hotdog hours after a marathon I didn't run hard enough.

Some stuff I learned today:

Uphills don't really bother me. Downhills are harder. I missed Heartbreak Hill, didn't realize where it was until I'd passed it.

I can run a marathon in flats after all (though my finishing time suggests that maybe I shouldn't).

Sunday's sore leg didn't hurt at all during the race, was just the tiniest bit sore last night, might be gone altogether. In fact I feel much better than after my other marathon. I'm looking forward to a little 2-mile trot tomorrow.

This may be heresy, but I really didn't enjoy all those things that make Boston Boston. This seemed less a race to me than a spectacle. The race, and especially the start, is too crowded for me (granted I am a misanthrope). You run next to Tess for a few miles and all you hear is "go Tess go Tess go Tess you can do it Tess" until you switch to the other side of the road to hear "go 3462 go 3462 go 3462 you can do it" for another few miles. I ran past Bridget sometime in the last few miles, and seeing someone I knew lifted my spirits some, but for the most part I just felt like I was running down a road where for some reason a lot of people were screaming, and I wanted to tune it all out so I could concentrate on the race. Alas.

Posted by joe positive at 9:22 AM | Comments (4)

April 17, 2005

do not read

Here comes a giant crisis in confidence. 28 hours from now it will all be irrelevant and maybe I'll even delete the post. For now, though, I want to spare my husband this last bout of whining and anxiety. Yesterday I noticed my left leg was a little tight. It persisted through a very easy 4 miles with Alison and Bridget (yay! to that part of the day, anyway), and stayed sore throughout the day, periodically tightening up while I sat around doing nothing.

This morning I felt ok when I woke up, and decided that today's Big Worry would be how on earth I could hope to run an OK time despite starting pretty far back. This excerpt from Kevin Beck's blog helped put it in pespective:

I mean, what difference does it make to you what direction the wind's blowing? You'll be starting in the seventeenth corral! Get real -- you're not going to Boston to race, you're going to enjoy the experience and buy up all sorts of unicorn-covered merchandise at the Hynes Convention Center, to include, without a doubt, an official Boston Marathon jacket with which to impress your homies.

I'm not quite in the 17th corral, and I didn't buy any unicorn-covered stuff or even a jacket, and yes I am taking this out of context, but this does provide an extra excuse if I don't get near my goal. Thanks, Kevin. We've never met, but you help me.

So anyway off I went in the nice chilly morning to the Freedom run only to find that my leg did indeed hurt. Worse, even than last night, and it wasn't loosening up during the 2.something-mile jog. All sense of perspective gone at this point, I spent the whole run wondering how much did it hurt. Was it the kind of thing that would go away after a few miles like things tend to in races? Well then, why wasn't it going away? Was it the kind of thing that was going to turn into howling agony during a marathon? If I were home right now, doing my usual Sunday run with club people, would I be thinking about this at all? Would this keep me out of a race at home? I seem to recall that few of my runs and none of my races this winter and spring have been 100% pain-free, but I honestly can't tell how much this hurts.

I really need to calm down.

Posted by joe positive at 11:05 AM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2005

badger badger badger badger mushroom mushroom

There's this site, www.badgerbadgerbadger.com, with a flash animation of badgers and a very addicting song that goes, mostly, "badger badger badger badger badger mushroom mushroom." It's pretty cute; check it out. Anyway, even if that song weren't stuck in my head it would be stuck in my head, because that's what my brain feels like. The week has both flown by and crawled. Since I'm leaving for Boston tomorrow my vacation has officially started, so I feel like it's the end of the week already.

I've expected to feel like crap this week, but apart from some totally imaginary twinges I feel ok. Tuesday I did the traditional Forerunners (that's the name of my club) pre-marathon track workout, which was supposed to be 4 continuous miles at start-o-marathon goal pace (7:40). Somehow I got confused and thought I was supposed to go at end-o-marathon goal pace (7:20). I compounded that mistake by doing the whole thing at 6:59 pace despite trying to slow down, so I'm not sure I got any of the benefit coach intended.

The rest of the week has consisted of 5- and 6-mile runs. It seems so strange to go out for 5 miles. I've been staying away from the little hills and just running easy. This morning's temp was around 67F, and as I trotted around marveling at how nice and cool it was, I decided to try and remember that on Monday instead of cursing the 65-degree heat. Wish me luck.

Posted by joe positive at 7:42 PM | Comments (3)

April 10, 2005

too much excess energy

Does anyone enjoy a taper? I'm not crawling the walls yet, but I wouldn't call it fun either. I have a lot more energy than usual, but it's not real productive stuff, more the foot-tapping, chair-rocking, hair-twirling kind.

Training week: Thursday was a nondescript 8-miler and I felt a little tired. I wore a newish pair of shoes (not a new model, just a new pair), and after I got home I noticed some moderate pain in my toes while walking around the house barefoot. FREAK OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!! After a couple advil, some ice, and some more ice later on, it was completely gone, but I used that as an excuse to bag the 5k I'd planned to race Friday evening. Friday was another nothing 8-miler. I worked a regular day Friday, then babysat a process all Friday night (I had to get up to check on things every hour between 11:30 and 5:30). By 7:30 am Saturday, things were looking pretty good, so I went for 7 miles in the shoes I want to wear in Boston. I especially wanted to see how the low heels would feel up and down hills. I think they'll do, but I'll bring some other shoes just in case.

The best thing about working all night Friday was that it freed me up to do my last (medium-) long run with club people ths morning. We had great weather, and for some reason I just wanted to go go go. I ran 16 miles at 7:40 avg pace, and finished feeling like I could run some more. In fact, I wish I could run some more right now. Maybe it would stop me grinding my teeth.

Posted by joe positive at 3:39 PM | Comments (0)

April 6, 2005

yesterday, and today

(cannot think of a better title; this will have to do) I've not posted that much about my actual training, but I will today. Because I'm coming back from an injury, my mileage isn't where I would have liked it to be. In February I finally got back to 60+ mpw, and March saw 65 - 75. Last week I ran just over 85, but that was because my work schedule made me flip long-run days last weekend. Most of this mileage has been dog-slow; the exceptions have been track workouts, long-runs, and races.

Yesterday afternoon was my weekly track workout, the last "regular" track workout before Boston. The schedule called for 11x400 broken into 3 sets (4/3/4), with 200 rest between items and 400 rest between sets. I have a love/hate relationship with track workouts, for some usual reasons (I hate the pain) and for some unusual reasons (I can't quite run with my old club-buddies yet, so I run my workout on the same track with them, but out-of-synch and definitely solo, which is harder for me because I have no one to run at). Since I started back doing track workouts in January, I've had trouble some weeks meeting the goal times my coach set, but this week turned out ok. My goal time was 1:30 - glacial to some of you, I know - but I ended up averaging 1:27. I don't know if this was good for the marathon or good for my legs, but it was good for my head.

Today was another blessed comp day to make up for Saturday's all-nighter, so I slept in, woke up when I wanted and sipped my way through 2 whole cups of cuban coffee before heading out for 8 miles. I wasn't sore or tired from track (hmmmm) but I also wasn't pushing or trying for anything more than "8 miles at some pace." "Some pace" turned out to be about 15 - 20s faster than my average "some pace." Again, good for my head. At this rate my head's not going to fit through the security gate at the airport.

So let's cmon back down to earth and think about this 5k coming up Friday evening: 75F and sunny, big crowds, narrow city streets, I hate 5ks anyway. I am tempted to treat it as "just a hard run," actually tempted to skip it altogether.

If I really wanted to come down hard I could start thinking about that 7:24 pace I'm supposed to hold for 26.2 miles in a couple of weeks. But I'll hold that in reserve :-)

Posted by joe positive at 6:17 PM | Comments (0)

April 5, 2005

and another thing

Last night I dreamed I was running a local marathon, and I fell asleep while I was running it (!) and woke up just before the finish line, which I crossed in 4:20. Boy, was I mad.

Posted by joe positive at 11:16 PM | Comments (1)

to keep from going nuts, I will

To keep from going nuts, I will make an effort to post more regularly. Maybe this will help me make better use of the (much too fast-mounting) nervous taper-tension...

Saturday was my last long run - a 23-miler with my long-run partner Albert. I am very grateful that he's continued to do long runs with me. There was a brief period last summer when I could keep him in sight during short races, but then I got injured and he continued training and got, well, great. How we are able to continue long runs together I'll never know; apparently he likes to do long runs relatively slowly, while I like 'em kinda brisk. Anyway, Saturday's run was characterized by a pretty constant 25 - 30mph wind left over from a fast-moving spring storm. At one point we had to run 1/2-mile up a bridge straight into the wind (which was actually blowing us around a little bit), and it felt harder than any race I'd run recently. Despite the weather we managed an 8:10 average pace, so I was ok with it.

Saturday night I had to work essentially all night long, so by Sunday I was pretty tired and just trotted 9 miles through my neighborhood. Albert emailed me that he felt so good (doubtless from that leisurely 8:10 pace, heh) that he'd done a 9-mile tempo run, yikes. While I was happy for him, this immediately plunged me into the self-doubt that showed up in Sunday's entry (my training has been ALL WRONG, blah blah blah). Anyway, yesterday I had 7 on the schedule and I decided to push the middle 3 miles just to see if I could. And I could: 7:23, 7:07, 7:07 and it felt very, very good. Now that I know I can push when I'm alone, I can go back to mostly easy stuff :-)

Posted by joe positive at 7:37 AM | Comments (0)

April 3, 2005

coming up for air

run, work, run, run, race, work, work, run, work, work wow, it's been 2 weeks...

After yesterday's 23-miler, the hardest Boston training is done, and now comes what passes for a taper in my coach's world - a week of slightly reduced mileage, a 5k race and a 16-miler next weekend, then even less mileage until The Day.

A day ago I was feeling pretty good about the training I've been able to do. So what if I'm not as fit as I was just before the stress fracture last year (I thought) - I'm feeling fairly strong, starting to PR again, nothing hurts, etc. Today, for some reason, nothing is right anymore. Reading all over the internet about everyone and his brother's marathon training, my training suddenly seems all wrong. I should have run harder more often instead of racking up all those easy miles. My bib number is so high I'm starting around the corner from the actual start line. I should have crosstrained more. I should have eaten less. Should have found more hills to run on. aaaarrrrgggghhhh...

Posted by joe positive at 5:04 PM | Comments (1)