Sunday, November 30, 2008

Trail relay

Just a short post, since I have been having pleasant but tiring Thanksgiving travels and am now fairly knackered & need to regroup for school tomorrow. I had a truly beautiful run yesterday at the Northern Central Trail Marathon Two-Person Relay in Maryland.

It was the perfect day for a run; though it was very chilly first thing in the morning, temperatures hit forty or so by mid-morning and it was beautifully clear and still and sunny. There were a couple miles in the middle where my thigh muscles were utterly protesting (and I have slightly made them a promise - a provisional non-binding promise?!? - that I will not ask them again to run a half-marathon, even a flat one at a very easy pace, so soon after a future marathon - I did not even time myself on my watch, it was really just for fun) - but I would not have missed it, it was a delightful day.

Such bucolic and beautiful scenery - I do not have pictures of the course, though I will post another one if I can link somewhere that does justice to the loveliness of the setting (it is rather like the Wissahickon near where I grew up in Philadelphia, only more southern and farm-countryish, very soft and green), but I offer up one of me and Brent and Brent's friend Jim (John, not pictured, is taking the photograph!) in the elementary school near the race start (the second runner on each relay team goes on a bus to the halfway point and takes over from there - it is also an option to do the full marathon):

Thanks to John and family for organization, transportation and general hospitality!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thursday run

4 miles easy. Very nice, too - it is the perfect day for a run, sunny and clear and still.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Race pictures

Link is here. Not a great selection, but these are both pretty good (the technology is annoying, they are low-resolution unless you home in on a bit, and I am not sure they are going to come through non-blurry here -proprietary technology!):

NB the sweaty hair at the back of my neck was frozen into spikes because of the low temperature!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Lunchtime swim

A very nice one, too. Quite a few people there, but more orderly than the evening ones. That time slot does not usually work well for me, but it might be that I should reconsider based on my spring-semester schedule...

Can't guarantee this is exactly what I did, but along these lines:

600 warmup: 100 free, 50 breast, 50 free, 100 back, 100 fly drill, 100 back, 100 free

8 x 50 fly-free at leisurely pace, with 10-15 seconds rest

100 back

100 free

Henning's IM transitions set: 7 x 50 as fly, fly-back, back, back-breast, breast, breast-free, free

Wouldn't have minded doing some more, but a couple more guys were getting into the lane just then and I figured it was time to stop and get some lunch! I am going to make sure to do quite a bit of fly in coming weeks - if I am swimming a short one on my own, it is both nice in itself & really the most effective aerobic cross-training in the world for running!

c. 1550 yards total


High irk factor in the Davidsonian heart this morning - I went over to 8:30 morning swim only to learn that there are no voluntary phys. ed. classes today, i.e. no lane swim! I was wearing my bathing suit under my clothes, and planned to shower at the pool afterwards, but instead I came home and had a proper shower here. I will try for the midday open lane swim hours, I think; the gym closes at 7 for Thanksgiving, so there's no evening lane swim.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tuesday swim practice

Very enjoyable, too, though it passed quickly and in internal chaos - we had a substitute coach filling in, and the intervals were honestly just too fast for our lane, except for one brave fellow leading, who kept on lapping the rest of us in a slightly disorienting way! I am putting in the times, but I cannot say whether I really was making them or not, it was too confusing!

Missed the warmup altogether - a bit late getting there, then heel-dragging on side of pool.

Then (the notion was fast freestyle and recovery stroke):

100 IM on 2:20

2 x 100 free on 1:35 (skipped a 50, that is too fast for me!)

2 x 50 as BK-BR, BR-FR on 2:00

1 x 200 free on 3:10

2 x 50 as before on 2:00

1 x 300 free on 4:30

2 x 50 as before

2 x 150 free on 2:20 (skipped a 50 again on the second one)

2 x 50 as before

2 x 75 free on 1:20

1 x 100 easy

2 x 50 fast kick

4 x 50 hypoxic free (smooth easy strokes): first 2, breathe 2x each 25, second 2 breathe 1x each 25

Very pleasant lane company, we were all in a good mood! It was over almost before I knew it, that was a short swim; I was craving a swim yesterday, but the pool was closed for a meet, and in fact we are coming up on the evil season of pool closures, I will have to steel myself for not as much swimming as I like...

1950 yards total (yes, that's short, I must get there earlier from now on!)

Monday, November 24, 2008


Just took the data from the marathon website and worked out the 5K splits (spurred by coach observing that I had not slowed down nearly as much as I might have!).

5K 28:20
10K 28:14
15K 29:35
20K 29:11
25K 30:19
30K 31:58
35K 33:30
40K 31:56

Race map is annoyingly in miles rather than kilometers, and I am too lazy to sort it out, but I can say subjectively that I walked a couple short steep hills in Manayunk (figured it was not worth letting the HR go up) and felt least good (not terrible, but not great) at the 20-mile turnaround point which comes at the end of Main Street Manayunk, I am not surprised that my slowest chunk was the 30-35K stretch - it was actually all good from there, I felt strong in the last six miles.

That sort of 10:15 mile pace I had in the 35K-40K stretch (I think I was running very steadily, I didn't walk at all during the race other than through slippery aid stations and a couple short late hills) is very comfortable for me to maintain for a long time...

Must get back to WORK, marathon musings are distracting me from my real responsibilities!!!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Further sartorial postscript

It is one of the great mysteries of life why clothes and clothes shopping have always been two of my least favorite things - in my ideal world, everyone would just wear a navy-blue Orwellian boiler suit and have very short unisex hair and there would be no variety and I would not ever worry about such things - but ever since I have been running, I am at the drop of a hat ready to go to a running store and buy a new thing to wear! It does not apply to fitness-related clothing more generally, and in fact I will give the New York ladies among my readership a good tip - the fluorescent lights in the changing rooms at Paragon Sports are so awful that if you go there to try on bathing suits, it will take very great fortitude for you to ever appear naked again in front of anybody under any circumstances!

Sartorial postscript

I inadvertently provoked curiosity among the wardrobe-attentive!

It was some combination of practical good sense and insane last-minute only-a-new-thing-can-fix-the-problem money-spending, but I went yesterday morning to the running store at the Time Warner Center and bought a pair of these (I do not usually run in the tights style, I prefer regular running pants with legs - I have large calves and ankles, and the 2 pairs of tights I had previously both have tapered legs and ankle zippers which dig into the leg!) - and I wore the tights under the RaceReady fitness shorts.

I also had gloves, a hat and a jacket; the gloves came on and off at various points (they are very good ones, lightweight with a sort of windproof mitten cover that you can pull over for extra warmth, and they clip together so that one is less likely to lose them - but I am too lazy to get up and look at the brand and find a link), the hat was only on my head at the start and thereafter in the jacket pocket, and the jacket itself was tied round my waist - Coach Mindy said I could drop it off with her at mile 8, but I thought I would be wise to keep it with me in case I wanted it.

(Coach Mindy was on the course in three separate spots cheering me on - she had another runner there too, who was hoping for a BQ time after finding counterproductive seeding/crowding in Berlin earlier this fall - she was at mile 8, mile 14 and the finish, it was very nice!)

I had a long-sleeved shirt on, but no extra layers - I was pretty warm most of the time, too.

(The jacket was a less strictly necessary part of the purchase, but I somehow did not have the right thing, i.e. a soft medium-warm zippered jacket - I only had a windproof one that chafes at the neck and somehow never turned into a favorite clothing item and then over-the-head fleece-type things that are too inconvenient to get on and off and too bulky to tie comfortably round the waist in a race. Also, and very impractically, fashion outweighed common sense - I bought it in black, because I did not like the other two colors, but this will mean I cannot wear it for dusk or evening running because of the safety issue!)

(And in a typical lesson that one should not look after the fact of purchase for things on the internet - but really the thing was that I needed it that day! - it was this, and though it really is extremely nice it has already been marked down at the Nike website (I paid full price at the running store), plus they have it in several colors that were not at the store & that seem to me - unlike marina and mulberry, the two options they had on hand other than black! - entirely acceptable!)

I need to calm down and go to sleep, because I have a lot of work to do in the early AM due to frittering away my time running and blogging!

Marathon #1

I am in utter heaven - I am a marathoner!

It is not my temperament to do the suspenseful build-up and big reveal, so I will just say up front that I ran quite a bit slower than I had hoped/imagined, but in what I would describe as a good way rather than a bad way! 4:17:03 - an honorable and strong time for me, and I do not honestly think I could have run a lot faster, though obviously my pacing was very uneven and cost me quite a bit of time.

I feel extremely cheerful - exhilarated, really! - and unnaturally energetic!

(The splits on my watch seem slightly useless - I've taken a quick look, and clearly I was pressing the button erratically! But perhaps a general account is more interesting and relevant anyway?)

My "nothing ventured, nothing gained" goal was 4:00, and I ran the first twelve miles with the pace group. So that is fairly disastrous "positive splits" - just to explain for the non-marathoner, even or slight "negative splits" (i.e. first half a hair slower than the second half) have been consistently shown to yield best marathon times across the whole range of speeds - I was a minute per mile slower for the second half, more aptly described as 30 seconds per mile slower for miles 12-18 and into the 10:00s rather than the 9:00s for the last six or eight miles.

It was interesting - I had not really thought through the extent to which a pace leader will often be going as much as 30-40 seconds faster than goal pace in order to keep the splits unrelentingly even (i.e. a congested water station needs to be compensated for by some fast running), and I was worried throughout the first half (though I was running pretty well) that I was working too hard.

I also always willfully forget the extent to which HR will be higher in a race situation than during training - I should really be running in the 150s for at least the first third to half of the marathon, but I was in the 160s right away (average HR according to the watch was 164, which is certainly too high)...

At the mile 12 water station, it was incredibly slippery - with temperatures below freezing and water thrown onto the ground in a very thin layer, I walked through out of fear of slipping (the volunteers were recommending this precaution), and felt a fit of anxiety as I saw the pace leader's balloons disappear ahead of me.

It seemed suddenly totally clear, though, that I had really been working too hard already, and that though I could probably hold with him for another 4-5 miles, I was going to risk walking the whole last part of the race if I did so. So I slowed down and ran at a pace that seemed comfortable, and decided just not to pay any attention to time.

It was increasingly slow - I felt the cost of the pacing error for sure. My legs and body were fully fine, and indeed my digestive system was fine also so it was not the more disastrous form of pacing error, but my huffing and puffing system was simply not up to the job!

I ran very steadily and strongly throughout, though, and I really enjoyed pretty much every minute of it!

(Felt a bit queasy in final miles - not actually sick to the stomach, not even really feeling nauseous, but the combination of lactate buildup and too many gels always takes me a bit this way - it was the only negative physical symptom I experienced, I didn't have even any slight twinge of muscle cramp or pain or anything - legs really felt strong, though sore/tired by the end! But I was bursting with energy afterwards, and I didn't get super-cold at any point either, this was good...)

Beautiful day for a run, can I just say?!? Crisp, clear, sunny, relatively windless other than a few stretches - in the 20s for most of the race, I think, but blissful nonetheless!

So, in sum:

With what I know now (but I didn't know it beforehand!), I should have run with the 4:15 pace group. I am pretty certain I could have picked up the pace for the last 4-5 miles and gained a couple minutes, so there's a clear scenario where I could have pulled off a 4:12.

If the pace teams had been on 10-minute rather than 15-minute intervals, it is conceivably possible that I could have run 4:10 - it's funny, at various points this fall I found myself idly thinking (even as I resolved to aim for the alluring sub-4:00) that it was quite possible that 4:08 is my maximum achievable marathon time at current levels of fitness and experience, and I think that that really would have been the utter perfect-day outside limit for this race, but with 4:10-4:12 more likely.

In short, 4:17:03 is a highly honorable result for me!

I have surprised myself over the last few years by being a considerably better runner than I would ever have expected r imagined, but in fact I am not inherently super-fleet of foot - my strengths as a runner are physical and mental stamina and a good work ethic, not sheer zippiness, if you know what I'm saying. And in fact for a female marathoner to go sub-4:00 on a first attempt almost certainly requires either native zippiness or a considerably longer athletic history than I possess.

I overheard a rather funny conversation on the way home on the train - the girl sitting behind me was altogether elated at having qualified for Boston. As I covertly listened (I did congratulate her before we all got off the train in NY, it was benevolent eavesdropping!), it emerged (I do not know how old she was, probably in the youngest age group though - so probable female BQ time in that case is 3:40) that she had run eleven marathons in order to reach that time.

I am the kind of person who likes very much to have a five-year plan! Even when I was a little kid I always had one - and so I can try for 4:10 in the New York Marathon next year, and sub-4:00 somewhere faster the year after, and in fact I am now 37 which means that my Boston qualifying time is the slightly unattainable-seeming 3:45, but once I reach the 40-44 age group it is 3:50, and I am pretty strongly thinking that this is something I could pull off - now that really would be something worth working towards!

Friday, November 21, 2008


I will do a "goals for 2009" post at the end of the year, but I think I am going to be swimming a lot next year & that (I have been consulting with Wendy about this!) I should really resolve to swim in at least one meet, even if it seems very daunting! I had a revelation that really some slow swimmers swim in meets also, and that I could pick some long-distance events that are not especially popular - I have my eye on the 200 fly!

Baby-sized run

Two miles only, very easy!

Have been pestering everyone with questions about shorts versus long pants - I wore a pair of tights just now, and honestly, I am a bit too warm even after a couple miles with temperatures in the mid-30s, I think I should assume I'll stick with the shorts unless the forecast the night before puts it solidly in the 20s rather than the 30s. Will bring 3 different long-pant/tights options just so I can continue making myself crazy trying to decide.

(On the bright side, with no bicycle and no wetsuit involved, preparations for this race seem like a piece of cake - simplicity itself!)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Race tracking info

This link should work. Site registration required, unfortunately. My bib number is 4859 but I think it is not needed.

Thursday swim

I did a bit of the workout, then switched over to a quiet spot elsewhere in the pool for some flip turn work with the coach (the others who were supposed to be learning were not there!), then back in the lane for the last bit of workout. Strangely hard work practicing those turns, much more tiring in a way than having a real swim - that said, I feel slightly underexercised now, but I think that I am meant to feel this way because of tapering! Will do my last 2-mile run tomorrow am, there was no sensible place to squeeze it in today...

Warmup (truncated): 150 free

First set: 12 x 50: 2 of each stroke in IM order as kick-swim by 50, then 4 x 50 free (swim) (I think we were on 1:15?)


Segued back in at 2 x 100 free on 2:00

6 x 50 free on :55

50 back easy swim down

I will count that c. 1800, I think - only 1300 proper swim, but I should get some credit for the floundering turns?!? ...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wednesday run

I felt lazy and tired before going out, but it was very nice once I got out there - wintry, windy, just coming up on dusk as I got home...

3.5 miles

Wednesday swim

Very relaxing, too - I really enjoyed that. I can't say I feel well rested, but I did get what I would call an adequate night's sleep last night, so that is a step forward - I have been sleeping very badly the last week and a half or so.

I am full of yearning and striving plans for improving my swimming - it is my goal to learn to swim the 200 fly!

(That's just a random thought unrelated to what I actually just swam this morning.)

No coach or workout in evidence, so I took it pretty easy and did a lot of freestyle drill. I really felt the benefits, too - I was watching the last bit of the women's team practice on Saturday as they finished up before the TNYA swim, and they were swimming "long and smooth," it was fairly amazing to watch - I had a good bit of that feel myself, though I am sure to an outside observer it would have looked no such thing!

100 free
100 back
100 right arm, left arm, catch-up, swim
100 back
100 thumbs and salute
100 breast (I cannot always be skimping on breast just because I like back better!)
100 as 25 "floppy paws," 25 swim
100 back
100 finger-drag
100 back

4 x 75 IM no free on 2:00

1 x 200 IM

2 x 50 free hard on 1:00

1 x 50 back easy

1 x 50 free easy

1700 yards total

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tuesday run and swim

I am in a world of frazzle - I am sort of simultaneously shoveling plastic forkfuls of pasta (mildly disgusting, in which I have just spotted a stray hair, ugh!) into my mouth, writing this blog post and trying to figure out what I am doing in the editing workshop I have to run at 8 o'clock! (21 minutes from now?!?)

(Hmmm, I think I will just throw away the rest of this pasta and get something else later....)

2 miles on indoor track, c. 8:45 pace

Nice swim workout! I was splitting a lane with friend H., who has succumbed to the lure of TNYA - she was getting some coaching, so not doing the full workout, but it was good company anyway. Harder mental effort to stay on the intervals when I'm swimming alone like this - I could not hold the interval for the 75s at the beginning, I was more like on 1:50 (for 10 seconds rest).

50 warmup (curtailed!)

8 x 75 IM no free on 1:40

6 x 150 free on 3:00 (this gave me a sense of accomplishment, I had very steady pacing)

6 x 100 on 2:45 as 2 x (75 fly, 25 back; 75 back, 25 breast; 75 breast, 25 free)

5 x 50 free on 1:00

2400 yards total

Monday, November 17, 2008

Monday swim

Bit late getting there - have not been sleeping well, could not get out of bed this morning...

Warmup: 2 x 150 free + 75 stroke choice as kick-drill-swim (I did the first back, the second fly) [450]

5 x 200 as 200 free, 150 free + 50 stroke, 100 free + 100 stroke, 50 free + 150 stroke, 200 stroke (I did back) [1000]

2 x 75 stroke as 50 drill, 25 swim (I did fly)

25 free sprint

2 x 50 kick (I did kick on back)

25 free sprint [300]

1750 yards total

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday run and week 17 recap

6 nice easy fastish blustery wintry miles (52:57, 8:50 pace).

Lungs still sore, but rest of body benefiting from effects of taper. Almost came to a complete standstill as I ran into a great gust of wind around mile 2 - fallen leaves blizzarding - a cyclist passed me and turned around to say hello, I was very happy to behold the smiling face of Triathlete L.! She had been out riding for about four very windy hours already, she said she was ready to be home - I guess she still had about ten more miles back to Brooklyn...

On an unrelated note, I regret to report that in the last couple weeks, I have completely given in to the temptation to blow my nose on my sleeve, setting a bad example to small children everywhere.

Week 17 total: 16.5 miles

This time next week the race will be over. I've only got three little mini-runs for this week (3 miles, 2 miles, 2 miles and I suppose I'll run just for 10 minutes or so the day beforehand?), so this was my last real actual run pre-marathon.

I've had several small setbacks in training (the hamstring injury in September, the illness last week), but on the whole it has gone very much as it's supposed to, with fairly noticeable increases in speed, stamina and endurance. I don't know that I have a secret weapon, but if I do, it's that I often run on hills but am doing a fairly flat race; and that the time I put in swimming makes up for the relatively low run mileage. I wish I could have had a couple more really long ones, and in general I would like to run higher mileage in 2009, but I have enjoyed the training a great deal and am pleased with how it's gone.

I took the plunge and signed up for the 4:00 pace team - I think it is worth a stab at it, it may be that this is just too ambitious at current levels of fitness and experience, but there is no way of knowing unless I try! And I have promised myself in advance that I will take whatever comes my way without excessive self-criticism or post-race dissection - if I finish half an hour slower than that, or more, and find the last six miles utterly horrible, it will be my own responsibility and the time will still be well within the bounds of respectability - because, really, finishing a marathon at all is highly respectable! The splits will be informative, at any rate...

(The race site promises some form of athlete tracking, but with no details as yet.)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Saturday swim practice

I had an ambitious but unrealistic plan to run and swim this morning, thwarted by the fact that I am a bad sleeper and (not unrelated) a recidivist alarm-snoozer and also by the need to eat breakfast and caffeinate pre-exercise.

On the bright side, I went to the pre-swim stretching session as well as the swim workout, and it seemed quite beneficial - more stretching and yoga-type stuff over the winter, that's what I think...

(I have been to a grand total of one yoga class all semester! That hamstring injury made it seem inadvisable for a while, and now that it's pretty much better I don't want to switch anything up so close to marathon time, so I have just let it go...)

Very good swim today. My technique felt poor, due to insufficient recent swimming; I noticed myself bending my neck to breathe in a way that I have worked very hard over the past six months to eradicate. Still with a lot of lung gunk, and generally rather knackered after a long week. But I enjoyed it very much, and the last long part of the set was a fairly easy endurance set - I could have gone on a lot longer, pity it's not a 90-minute workout!

Warmup (curtailed): 300 as free-fly drill by 25; 50 (would have been 200) back-breast by 25

3 x 200 free on 4:00 (I led on this - fun, but I had to work very hard, there was a fast guy right behind me! We came in pretty solidly around 3:30-3:32, that was good)

2 x 200 IM on 4:30

15 x 100 free on 2:00, with 1:00 extra rest after the first eight

2850 yards total (is that possible? Oh, I guess 'cause it was a mostly freestyle set we swam a couple hundred more yards than usual).

Good news: Coach Conrad is going to do a mini-flip turn clinic at Thursday's practice!

Friday, November 14, 2008

In which I am crestfallen

I asked for a pool locker key, and the attendant gently informed me that there is no lane swim this evening because of a meet. I have obtained a schedule of this winter's meets to try and preempt future disappointments of this sort...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The voice of reason

The trouble is that by upbringing and temperament, I am strongly inclined to ignore the voice of reason when it tells me to skip a workout. But no swimming for me this evening - I was actually on the very steps of the gym when I checked in on how I was feeling...

I realized that I have been criminally tired all week, that I have had a slight headache all day (possibly related to never having quite gotten around to eating a real meal as opposed to snacks) and that my lungs are still only at 80%. And that I already exercised for an hour and a half this morning.

So I turned away and went straight to my local sushi restaurant and had salad and sushi, which immediately relieved the headache. Then I bought a slice of carrot cake at the West Side Market (it has been a guilty recent revelation that that grocery store sells pre-packaged individual slices of cake - I cannot explain to the non-runner the extent to which marathon training has given me an appetite for cake, it is ridiculous!) which I am now going to eat as I read a detective novel and have a quiet evening at home!

(I can have a quiet swim tomorrow evening, I think, and I will go the TNYA workout on Saturday at 11 - I have missed most of the Saturday CU ones due to Saturday long runs, but I am only running six on Saturday morning, so there will be plenty of time to do both.)

Thursday run/gym

c. 3.5 miles easy, plus one hour of solid workout with M. My last one for a while! It was mostly very good, but I began to feel quite queasy at the end - I think it was an underfueling problem, I ate a modest breakfast at 7 (I had to do one work thing that I couldn't face finishing last night) but it ran out about ten minutes before the end of my session...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wednesday run

4 miles easy, 34:16, c. 8:30 pace, avg HR 152

Very nice, too - beautiful afternoon for a run, I was getting home just as the sun set...

Strange to set out deliberately for such a short run! The pod has not yet resurfaced from my strewn possessions, so I do not have precise distances.

Wednesday swim

OK, now I feel like I'm back in the groove of regular life.

(Still haven't had time to unpack from my trip, though! That is what I will do shortly - Monday and Tuesday are utterly chaotic this semester, but the rest of the week is less overwhelming.)

Lungs still v. gummed up with junk, but I am a little better each day, and I am also starting to get that interesting taper-y feeling where the muscles in my arms and legs seem to be springing with excess energy - they want me to give them something challenging to do, they are antsy!

Warmup: 300 choice (I did 100 free, 100 IM drill, 100 IM)

3 x 500

1: 4 x 100 free, 25 fly

2: (this was a "super 500" exercise, but I wanted to keep effort levels moderate, so I subbed in something that made sense with the rest of the set) 4 x 75 free, 50 breast

3: 4 x 75 free, 50 back

Then there was still enough time for something else, so Coach Henning gave me a little set that brought a smile to my face: IM transitions...

7 x 50: fly, fly-back, back, back-breast, breast, breast-free, free


2150 yards total

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tuesday run and swim

As is often the case during the semester, I didn't get up early enough, and yet I still got up far too early if you count it by total rest!

I was determined to run and swim this morning - I won't be able to swim later, and I have really been missing it. Compressed morning schedule, though, meant it made more sense to run on the indoor track at the gym (my lungs are still very congested and sore, so it may have been wise in any case - it's a beautiful day outside, but brisk).


3 miles c. 9:00 pace

Swim (all at fairly easy effort level - not sure I am remembering this exactly, it was impromptu!):

Warmup: 100 free, 100 back, 100 free, 100 breast, 100 free, 100 fly drill, 100 free, 100 IM

100 back, 100 free, 100 IM, 100 free, 6 x 50 as 25 stroke 25 free (2 of each stroke), 2 x 100 reverse IM

50 easy swim down

1750 yards total

Now to caffeinate and prepare for class...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Mildly disastrous week 16 recap

Well, I meant to gut it out for a 10-12-mile treadmill run, but in fact I am still with lung & head congestion enough that I called it quits after 6 miles. (Dreadfully hot and disgustingly slow, as usual!)

Week 16 has been a wash - literally! On the bright side, it was the first week of a three-week taper, so it is not the worst timing to have had an awful cold. I am glad I got in my last long run last weekend (although that run is also clearly the straw that broke the back of my immune system).

On the bright side, I saw a particularly prosperous rooster strutting around the parking lot in front of World Gym!

Week 16 recap: a meager 11 miles total, plus one masters swim. Talk about tapering...

Friday, November 7, 2008


Well, I still have a slightly dire cold, but exercise is in any case contraindicated - because we are about to be hit by Hurricane Paloma...

No swimming in the sea!

And I will have to wait and see, based on illness and power/hurricane situation, what I can do about the 10-12 mile run that is my weekend marathon training obligation. It will probably just have to be skipped - if things are more or less back to normal by Sunday morning, I could probably just do a short one outside in the am, my cold will hopefully be mostly better by then, or gut it out on the treadmill if the gym reopens...

My flight back to NY is late Sunday afternoon, and I am hoping that transportation will be back on schedule by then. In the meantime I have attended my first hurricane preparedness meeting, where I gathered authenticating details for future thriller-writing purposes...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Brief update

I am having a very nice trip, but I have a cold and it is torrentially raining, with forecast of a tropical depression and thunderstorms through the weekend! The cold (illness, not weather - still v. warm, just rainy!) is well-timed for my taper, though - it will be OK if I do very little exercise this week, and it should ensure that I will not have a cold the actual week of the marathon....

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Tuesday run

Just a short one - hmmmm, good for tapering purposes that this is a warm/humid or treadmillish week, eh? .5 mile jog over to gym, 4 slow and warm treadmill miles (bad for my morale, but I am sure it is still worth doing), .5 jog home - count it as 5 miles total. I think I will try and do my other runs while I'm here outside rather than on the treadmill - it is fairly rainy here this week, I like running in the rain and as long as the sun is not beating down it can probably be arranged even if I do not get up at the crack of dawn...

A guest race report from Training Partner L.!

A rare treat today for Triaspirational readers. On Sunday morning, I was on a plane to Grand Cayman, but two of my most cherished training partners were running the New York Marathon. The first thing I did when I got here was get online to check their splits - C. had just finished (in 3:46 - slower than he intended, but a great time, eh?!?), and I watched the numbers with bated breath as L. ran her last few painful-looking miles. Now she has written a race report for me to post on-blog!

L. isn't Triathlete L., who I've been running with recently on Wednesday afternoons. L. is rather my first great training partner and running companion - we started running seriously around the same time, a bit more than two years ago, and it has been a great shared adventure ever since. L. used to live about half a block away from where I do, so we could run together very regularly (we run at very similar speeds) - alas, she moved to Chinatown, at the very opposite end of Manhattan, so it does not happen so often these days.

Here is what she has to say about the New York Marathon, her first, which she finished in just under 4:30...

I didn't know that they played "New York, New York" at the start of the New York Marathon. I knew there was a cannon, and I suppose I shouldn't've been surprised--the New York Road Runners always play some sort of inspirational song at the start of a race, usually some appalling 90's dance number. I have a sentimental attachment to "New York, New York." When I was at Oxford it became, for a while, the song that was played at the end of every Drama Society party, and there would be a huge, boozy, circular kick-line of drunken British aspiring thespians, only some of whom had ever been to New York, and only some of whom would actually go on to pursue careers in entertainment. I'm pretty sure the girl who started the trend is a lawyer now. At any rate, the song is about big and potentially misguided ambition, which makes it perfect for undergraduates, and for the marathon, but actually really wrong for the Yankees, who play it at the end of every game, and who, in doing so, have been steadily ruining it for me since I moved here.

So after the start, after the cannon-launcher made a speech about how the previous cannon-launcher had died over the past year, and after he launched the cannon and we were supposed to start running they started playing "New York, New York" and I started crying. So many people! All doing the same kind of stupid thing! In New York, New York! So I spent the first 1/4 mile kind of overwhelmed and teary and trudging up the Verrazano Bridge. I thought I could run maybe a 4:15 kind of time, and set out to do so. I had a pace bracelet and everything. And my first mile was right on target! But that was going up the bridge. Going down the bridge I was 45 seconds too fast, and each of the next four or five miles were also too fast. I tried to slow down, but it was all just too exciting. I was wearing a t-shirt that said "OBAMAthoner" and had a (possibly backwards? it looked much better in the mirror than it did looking at it) drawing of the Candidate. When we came off the bridge I happened to be running next to a girl who had an "I Heart Obama" t-shirt on and a soldier in fatigues yelled at us "I LOVE OBAMA, TOO!"

The t-shirt was very popular throughout Brooklyn. But by the time I got to Fort Greene (mile 8-9 or so,) where people were perhaps the most vocal in their support of Obama, it was pretty clear that the Yes We Can atmosphere (and my own basic lack of self-control) had lead me to run way too fast for the first part of the race. While I was not yet in the World of Pain that Training Partner C had predicted, I could see it over the horizon. I had a hunch that I'd find it in Queens. And, indeed, Queens was fairly rotten. They gave out small banana sections there, which was encouraging, and they blasted "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" from the speakers as we started up the Queensboro Bridge, but it's a miserable neighborhood, and we were starting to be miserable marathoners. The bridge itself was predictably steep, and eerily quiet. You could hear the traffic overhead (we were on the lower level), and the footsteps of everyone around you. A lot of people walked. I didn't. That may have been a mistake.

Back in Manhattan I grabbed a tongue depressor of Vaseline from the med tent (my left armpit had begun to chafe, as had, it turned out, my lower back, but there aren't as many nerves down there and I didn't find out about that till much later.) They're generous with the Vaseline--more than a tablespoon per stick, and it gets everywhere. At this point we were on First Avenue, which is meant to be exciting, because it's long and straight and there are lots of people there. I thought it was just awful, for exactly those reasons. I need surprises, like hills and turns and variation in crowd noise to keep myself going. I started hurting in earnest, and I got tunnel vision, and I missed seeing my family at 98th street (though apparently my mother saw me and she says I looked awful.) By the time I got to the Bronx I was in terrible shape. There was no way I was going to finish in under 4:15. Hell, I might not finish in under 5 hours. I had to do stretches of agonized walking. I lacked the coordination to drink Gatorade and run at the same time, but starting running again after walking to drink the Gatorade was brutal.

But, the Obama t-shirt really helped! People kept saying "Obamathoner, Yes You Can!" at me really aggressively till I started running again. I did see my family at 98th & 5th, and managed to yell out to them "This is horrible! Never do this!" My brother jumped out and ran next to me for a block, and my uncle jumped out into the street with the sign my father had made. In Central Park things got bad again, though, with more limping and cringing, and more encouragement from Obama supporters, and I struggled through it in that fashion until suddenly at the half-mile-to-go mark I felt like I could run the rest of it pretty quickly. I think I ran that part *very* quickly, sprinting even. I passed hundreds of people and came in just under 4:30.

Then I was in agonizing, generalized pain going through the first few stages of the recovery area--medals, foil thing, and, most distressingly, person-who-comes-to-tape-your-foil-thing-closed, which I didn't expect and didn't understand. All I knew is that this woman was walking straight at me with a piece of tape pointed at my chest. I wanted to fight her off, but I would've had to drop the foil thing to do so, so she taped me shut and said "So you can use your hands now!" and I understood finally and felt like a fool. Then bags of food, then about a mile of very very slow walking in line to get bags and then get out of the park. Amazingly, by the time that was over I wasn't really in pain anymore and I could kind of walk. Turns out you really do need to keep walking for 20 minutes, no matter how awful it feels.

So thank you, NYRR, for putting us into that human cattle-chute, and thank you, Frank Sinatra, and thank you, Supporters of Barack Obama! (And thank you Jenny, for the spiffy running shorts.) Congratulations to Training Partner C for finishing a good deal faster than Sarah Palin, and I hope everyone voted today.

Thanks to L. for her account of the race, and congratulations to both L. and C. on finishing their first marathons on Sunday! (The first of many, I am thinking...)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Monday swim

Too tired to write much, but it was very pleasant! Not sure this is quite right, but along these lines:

c. 250 warmup

6 x 100 as 50 easy, 50 hard on 2:10

5 x 100 as 25 head up, 25 catch-up, 50 swim

5 x 100 as 25 no breathing, 75 swim

bit of cooldown

c. 2000 yards total

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Long run #15

I was in a scramble of lateness all day - I had to drop off the cat at the catsitter, pick up my computer from my office, purchase ice for projected ice-bath and write and upload a letter of recommendation before I could set out for my long run, and it was all catch-up thereafter. I arrived at the pool about ten minutes early for my 3pm lesson only to learn that the pool was closed today!

Normally I would be very disappointed, but in fact it was for the best - mental and physical acuity not at their best post-long run! So I had a nice if brief chat with I. and got a ride back down along Riverside Drive in the family minivan, seated between 2 very lively baby twins in car seats - they were pretty pleased that there was someone to pay attention to them!

My run this morning was excellent. I was a bit nervous about it, because it was my one and only 20-miler - it really needed to go well! But it was the most idyllic morning (in fact it is now in the 60s, but it was sunny and mid-50s for most of my run), I got an adequate amount of rest the last two nights and it really could not have gone better. I am sorry my schedule didn't have 3 20-milers, this seems to me desirable, but there was nothing to be done about it.

(Hmmm, my HR monitor is acting up, that is the one thing that could have gone better! I am not giving HR avg for the last miles, because the numbers are in the high 160s and 170s and that just wasn't right - it was giving me those numbers as I ran, but if I paused the clock it immediately gave me a HR more in line with my subjective impressions, i.e. top half of the 150s or bottom 160s rather than mid-170s which, trust me, I would know if I was in! Not sure what to do about this - I assume the avg HR the device gives me for the whole run is also incorrectly high, but it actually may be more in line with reality.)

So I ran south through my bit of the park and then onto Cherry Walk, which you can follow up to the greenway link and all the way to the base of George Washington Bridge. Then I turned around and went all the way down to Chambers Street, then back up to 116th. It was very good all the way - I was aiming for 9:30 miles for first two-thirds of the run, and round about marathon pace (9:08) for the last third, and I actually really had to hold myself back for the last part - I naturally wanted to fall in more like around 8:45 or 8:50. So this was a very heartening and confidence-building run, very nice indeed. I did take some short breaks (a couple bathroom visits, a couple slightly extended water-and-gel-consuming breaks), and turned the clock off for those, so it is not exactly marathon conditions, but good nonetheless.

21.2 miles - 3:18:38 - avg pace 9:22 - avg HR 159

1 9:50 (144)
2 9:24 (150)
3 9:28 (150)
4 9:11 (153)
5 9:40 (158)
6 9:18 (158)
7 9:28 (158)
8 9:08 (151)
9 9:20 (152)
10 9:32 (150)
11 9:26 (151)
12 9:30 (150)
13 9:12 (157)
14 ?
15 ? (recording glitch - split up into bits!)
16 9:02
17 9:01
18 9:04
19 9:00
20 9:04
21 9:18 (includes brief but steep hill!)

I felt strong when I finished - I was glad to stop, but I could have kept running 9-minute miles for some more miles if someone had given me a significant incentive to do so!

Total week #15 miles: 41

Now - TAPER!

I will stop blogging now and go and use the hour the canceled swim lesson has bought me to get the work stuff I need to bring with me on my trip in order! I have an important work dinner this evening downtown, which will unavoidably keep me out till 10:30 or 11, so I need to seize the moment...

Next up: Pirates Week!