February 26, 2006
three weeks out
The marathon is three weeks away and I'm not really nervous yet, what gives? In fact, I haven't really been thinking about it yet. Usually by this point I'd have all the local Norfolk and Virginia Beach TV, print, and radio sites bookmarked so that I could compare weather forecasts, but I had to remind myself even to check weatherunderground.com yesterday.
This week was something like 77 miles, something of a cutback after the Big Week the week before. It took a few days before my legs felt normal but I'm happy to say they did get normal and stay that way. Yesterday I ran a 15K in 1:02:22, which was a little PR. It was a little warm, and windy both out and back, but I still think I could have done better if I'd pushed myself harder. I don't know whether my reluctance to push is from fear of pain or from fear of looking (or being) out of control: redfaced, wildeyed, unpretty and ungraceful, mouth open, sweat flying from hair and body, drooling wheezing heaving puking (or worse) in front of a bunch of people, and worst of all still slow. I think there's probably a little of both in there, but I sure wish I could just get over it. Bob Glover's Competitve Runner's Handbook has this chart where you can look up a race time and see where you're supposed to be for all distances. With two exceptions - yesterday's 15K, and of course the marathon - I still occupy the same line on that chart I did in November, and my race times line up like obedient sheep. I've been running a bunch since November, and I want to get off that line and onto another line further up the chart.
This week will be another Big Week (97 miles) and the last with any significant mileage before the marathon. I'm planning on a tempo run Tuesday and some MP later in the week. Friday I was offered a job for a little less money, but with no on-call and only prearranged and prescheduled overtime, and I think I'm going to take it. The lighter work weeks won't have any effect on this marathon training; my boss is on vacation the next two weeks so I won't be able to give notice until the week of the race. But maybe I can train for the next marathon without a single 7-day week or overnight shift, whoohoo. Like normal people.
February 21, 2006
6k at 5k pace
not really, but sort of. Today's workout was 10 miles including 3k-2k-1k with 3min rest in between items. I ran the 3k 18s faster than goal, then had my comeuppance during the 2k (13s slower) and 1k (6s slower). Still, I managed to run the 3k + 2k 2s off my 5k PR. Of course, I don't get to rest 3 minutes in real 5k races.
After feeling ragged the past couple of days I didn't think I'd ever run fast again, so it was good to get this done.
February 20, 2006
Went out for 9 easy miles this morning. My legs are feeling less beat-up every day, but they're still not fresh. I spent the run lamenting the days 5 or 6 weeks ago when I just couldn't stop myself going sub-8 on easy days. Today, when I pushed into the first circle of discomfort, the pace would be something like 8:13. Ach. I should stop lamenting, I guess.
Watched part of Garden State today (the stock market's closed, so it's a day off from work for me). After about an hour I got up to check email and never went back. There was a time I would have maybe liked it more - hell, there was that whole year about 10 years ago I spent chasing after a deep-but-not-really guy that very much resembled the protagonist - but it just left me cold. Too precious, too self-conscious. I found myself thinking, this guy's trying to be Hal Hartley, this other guy is trying to be young Bill Murray. And the movie appropriated a song I really like ("The Only Living Boy In New York") for its soundtrack. Maybe I'm finally too old for something.
I have a job interview tomorrow, and another either later this week or early next week. I figure I may as well keep trying.
I really, really, really wish that Emily LeVan would keep a blog.
Not sure if it's the incresed mileage or something else, but I just want to eat all the damn time.
February 19, 2006
random thoughts about pain
translation: I'm not a very good writer, so this will be a bunch of semi-coherent paragraphs that may get across what I'm trying to say. Not bloody likely.
I ran a lot of miles this week. The schedule said 94, and I ended up with just over 95, the most ever. The schedule included two hard workouts and then a lot of whatever miles. It was no piece of cake, and I'm tired. The work week included some too-early meetings and some late evenings, and what with the doubles and all, I was into sleep deficit by mid-week. And I broke the cardinal rule of training (easy means easy, dammit), running faster than I needed to on easy days, hanging with my fast friend Jaymz D (he of the 17ish 5K and 37ish 10K) for 8 of his "easy" miles the night before a long run, etc. Of the two hard workouts, I managed 75% of one and 0% of the other.
The 0-percenter was yesterday's 22-miler. I was supposed to run the last 8 miles at marathon pace (a pace which seems to creep down a second or two every time I get a new schedule), but my legs felt like they were full of mercury (heavy, not swift) and ached every step. After the first couple of miles I knew there wasn't gonna be any marathon pace anything, and it was going to take a lot just to get the 22 at all.
It took over 3 hours, which gave me a lot of time to think. And I started thinking about the pain of hard training. Not the discomfort of a single workout, but the pain I read about from people who train hard day in and day out for a long time. This guy goes through a lot of pain in his training, and he writes very eloquently about it. I feel like a slacker even reading his blog, because he trains so hard and endures so much, and has more stuff to deal with than I ever will: kids, single-parenthood, living up north where it's cold, more. And he gets results; he's fast (though he probably wouldn't agree), so there is something at the end of all that. On the other hand, there are those who trash themselves daily with no end, triumph, or failure, only the right to post about all that constant pain in one online forum or another.
So I slogged along a full 90 seconds slower per mile than I was supposed to be running, sore from butt to toe, and thought about hard-training pain. There are people who run a lot more than 95 miles every week, and can get some quality in without bailing, and their pain comes from working much harder than I did, or do. I thought about trying - just trying - one mile at 7ish pace, but I didn't. Wouldn't. I was too sore and tired, and I didn't want to try, get even more sore and tired, and fail anyway.
There are times when running seems like the most important thing in world to me, and I feel I'd do anything to improve. Then there are days like yesterday, when I know I need to push myself harder and harder into discomfort, and I refuse.
February 14, 2006
florida is where it's at
A couple weeks ago when I tried (unsuccessfully) to quit my job, one of the things my boss mentioned was being more diligent about taking comp days in exchange for working weekends. Since this past weekend had one of those all-nighters, I am dutifully taking today off from work. It's sunny and cold (high 30s this morning, coldest it's been all season), and just beautiful for road 400s. I've owned a GPS for over a year but only recently discovered that you can program simple interval workouts on it. You can't do ladders or descending-rests, but 20*(400s with 100m recovery) works, unless you're a techno-dolt like me who programmed the recoveries as .1 mile (doh!).
I've run some fake track workouts on the road before, but never anything as regimented as this. The watch would beep and I'd go bat out of hell for a quarter-mile. At the next beep I'd slow to a jog, then exactly a tenth of a mile later the thing would beep and I'd have to start bat out of helling again. None of the usual ways of fudging (bathroom breaks, water breaks, etc) were available to me as long as I kept moving forward. I suppose I could have come to a complete stop during the recoveries (to gain more rest time), but I didn't think of that. I was surprised and happy to find the goal pace was completely reasonable, and I was doing pretty well for 8 or 10 reps when my calf started getting tight. I decided to ignore it, but by the 14th item it was noticeably tighter, so I stopped after 16 quarters (boo). I have a lot of miles to run this week, and I want to make sure I can run all of them. Also, I'm a wuss.
February 12, 2006
on being forced to listen to the national anthem
If you go to road races you probably know what it's like to stand tense at a starting line, part of a captive audience forced to listen to some rendition of the national anthem, be it a recording, an instrumental, or an a capella version courtesy of the RD's highschool daughter. It's not that great a song, and it's very hard to sing, and if you go to enough races you'll hear a variety of mangling. I really, really hate the singers who countrify or urban-contemporize the thing, because it sounds to me like they're just trying to fudge the really hard parts. Some of the national anthems that stand out in my mind:
- We stood facing what looked at first like an empty lot, but if you looked past the empty lot you noticed a community college half a block away, and sticking up behind a building was a flagpole with a flag on it. Behind us a large woman belted a soulless R & B version of the anthem, all trills and technique and sloppy phrasing, culminating with
oer the la-and of the brave
and the-uh ho-o-ome
- A Florida winter cold front was passing through, and we stood at the starting line in the dark with rain pouring down and a north wind whipping up. Since races never, ever start on time, we all stood like cattle waiting for the RD to get his shit together and someone started singing the national anthem, and then a lot of the crowd joined in. When the song was over, the RD appeared and said thanks for singing, but we have this person who came specially to sing to you at 7am so you're gonna have to let her sing. So we had to stand there for another round before we were allowed to start running off the shivers.
As it happened, this was the morning it was announced that US troops had captured Saddam Hussein. The RD thought the runners were singing out of some spontaneous show of patriotism, but I think people were just tired of waiting in the cold rain for the start of a half-marathon.
- (this was kind of cool): a guy played the national anthem on classical guitar, unamplified. You could only really hear him if you were near the front, which I was.
- coolest by far: at the Parkersburg Half-Marathon in West Virginia, they have a long-standing tradition of playing the national anthem from the rooftops surrounding the square where the race starts. On each of three buildings is a brass player (trombone, trumpet, and sax, if I remember right), and three people play alternating phrases of the anthem. The only way this could possibly be cooler would be to play it as a round, which I don't think is possible.
restarting vulture9 due to mount errors on stingray
I was going to call this entry "40 something," but I just got an email with the above as its subject, and that settled the question of blog-entry titles once and for all. The 40-something refers to a 10K I ran yesterday, but first I'll fill everyone in on my running week:
M: AM 6mi elliptical, PM 6mi elliptical, all to spare my calf but very boring
T: AM 7mi (8:57), PM 7mi (8:36), calf much better
W: 9mi incl 3 "tempo" (6:36 pace). This was supposed to be 12 miles with 5 tempo, but I bailed on the tempo just as the calf began to tighten up, also bailed on most of the cooldown
R: 11mi (8:37) incl 6 x strides
F: 3mi (9:23), just puttering. Noontime massage really helped the calf. My massage therapist warned me against racing on the calf just yet, so I...
Sa: 11.8mi incl 10K race (40:58, a pr and 2F40), calf ok
Su: 12mi (8:53), calf miraculously still ok
total: 60.8 miles running, 12 miles elliptical, kind of a light week but I think I dodged another bullet. I may just get to the starting line next month.
The race yesterday wasn't too exciting, mainly because after the 2-mile mark I ran the thing completely alone. There were times when it felt more like a hard training run than a race. On the other hand, it was nice not having the panicky pressure of having to pick it up, pick it up, stay with the pack, should I pass? what if she passes me right back? and so forth. I was at least 30s in back of the person in front of me, and (mostly) out of earshot of people behind me. In the last mile I heard someone noisily coming up behind me; there was so much noise I thought it might be 2 people I knew had been 15 or 20s behind me the whole way. It turned out to be not 2 people but just one very very noisy guy, and I was happy to let hm blow by. I did manage a little tiny kick in the last .2 miles and snuck in just under 41 minutes. I didn't achieve either of my goals (run 6:30 pace, and do it running 6:30s more or less), but I'm fairly happy to see 40-anything.
Last night we had to move a whole bunch of stuff from one server to another, so I was in the office from 6pm to 3:45 this morning. After a few hours' sleep I started lucid-dreaming about transactional replication (don't ask), so I got up, had a coffee, and set out for 12 of the most relaxed miles ever. I'd have closed my eyes if I thought I could do it without falling down.
February 6, 2006
dodging another bullet, I hope
That sore calf I mentioned started feeling better on Saturday, so yesterday I treated it to a 21-miler with the last 10 at someone else's marathon pace. That turned out not to be such a great idea, but I still got about 7 of those 10 miles, albeit with half-mile rests in between. I spent the rest of the day being extra-solicitous of the now extremely-sore calf - icing it, massaging it, heating it, stretching it, chanting spells, whining to my coach - and this morning it was a lot better. Still, my coach advised me to stay off the road for the day and get on the elliptical, so I did. This morning's 6 miles was fun, but by afternoon the novelty had worn off. I'll be glad to get back to normal running tomorrow.
What's on tap this week:
A new episode of The Shield (Forest Whitaker, cool!) Tuesday night
5 miles of tempo embedded in Wednesday morning's run
Maybe a run with Real Live Company! Thursday night
An appointment with the massage therapist Friday noon
10K race Saturday morning, in which a twentysomething co-worker guy and I have agreed to try and pace each other at 6:30s, ha!
Some overnight work Saturday, but at least I didn't have to work this past weekend and I don't have to work weekend after next, and I said I wasn't going to whine about it anyway, so I'm not.
February 4, 2006
not quite the end times
Yesterday a freak herd of thunderstorms dumped 8 to 15 inches of rain on the 2 counties I spend the most time in. It rained all day, sinking the office park where I work under serveral feet of water in some places, including some of the places I need to drive through to get out of the park and onto the road home. Since I drive a little car, it was touch and go for a while, especially with the hummers and SUVs making waves as they plowed through the water. Most of the drivers were surprisingly nice, and allowed me to cut in front of them to get out of the deepest water. But the guy who drives the SUV with vanity plate UP TICK can kiss my mini cooper's ass.
There was still a lot of water on the road today, so I put off the long run until tomorrow. Which is just as well, because yesterday morning my left calf got tight, then tighter, then so sharply painful I had to stop running for a bit. I have no idea what I did to it. A few weeks ago I developed a blister on the sole of that foot; though I've made a conscious effort not to limp or run funny, maybe conscious isn't enough. I've noticed lately that my easy pace is faster than it used to be; maybe it's not easy enough. I ran 6 easy miles on the treadmill the other night, but again, easy isn't what easy used to be, so maybe it wasn't easy enough for a treadmill run.
Anyway, today my leg is still tight but a lot better. I ran 11+ this morning and I could feel it, but never to the point where I wanted to stop. Tomorrow is 21 miles, which isn't scary in itself, but the workout has a last-10-miles-at-MP clause, which is sort of scary. I will try.
February 2, 2006
I decided to quit my job, was all set to tell my boss and yet I didn't. He's talking about how things are going to change, and I have to give him credit for that. Though I almost wish he'd said something like "welp, that's just the way it is around here, and you're just going to have to deal with our way of doing things." That would've given me the push I needed. As it stands, I didn't have the heart.
Anyway, since I have decided not to quit (or at least not without another job in the wings), I should stop bitching about it, and I will try. On to running: yesterday was real nice, 13 miles in 40-degree weather as the sun was coming up. The schedule said "steady" but the only steady thing about it, really, was the pace was steadily somewhere between 7:20 and 8:00. I was starting to get tired at 11 miles and decided to run the last 2 as a cooldown, but almost immediately I got the idea to find a good hard pace (without the aid of the GPS) and run it for a mile and see what it came out to. After that fun I moseyed on home.
This morning I ran 7ish and tonight I'll run 6 easy. I feel pretty good - no aches or pains worry me at the moment or threaten to become serious - but I've got a scary 21-miler looming on Saturday. The last 10 miles are supposed to be at some pace I will never run a marathon at. We'll see.