Friday, October 31, 2008

A royal flush

Portable toilets at the New York City Marathon (the story is by John Branch):
Gathering and placing 2,250 portable toilets for a one-day event — and then removing them almost immediately — is a daunting task. The marathon represents the third-largest annual assemblage of portable toilets in the country, behind the Rose Bowl college football game and parade and the motorcycle rally in Sturgis, S.D. Placed side by side, the 4-foot-wide toilets would stretch 1.7 miles.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thursday swim practice

Hmmm, overly long day, though full of good things. Just back from the theatre - good play! - only it is not sensible to wait to eat afterwards. I had a protein bar and an apple on the subway downtown to tide me over, but it proved insufficient...

Warmup (abbreviated): 200 free (skipped 200 IM drill-swim for goodish reason that I was explaining to another fellow in the lane - he did ask me, I was not just being bossy! - what the common drills are for the different strokes! I like it that I have now found a swim team where people think it is funny and useful that I am an explainer)

6 x 50 free on 1:00

4 x 25, 50, 75 (can't remember intervals: :40, 1:15, 1:40?) for fly, back, breast, choice non-free (I did back - had to skip last 50 of fly due to complete huffing and puffing system overload - led to a revelation later in practice that if I do fly and the folks ahead of me are doing free, I am fatally trying to keep up with them, whereas I can get a very nice comfortable fly going if I am behind a fastish breaststroker on a choice segment - I guess if everyone is doing the same choice non-free, you are sent off as back, fly, breast, from fastest to slowest, but if everyone is mixing it up it does not make sense to reshuffle and it is good for the form to practice it this way... to the longtime swimmers reading, this will all seem obvious, but it is quite eye-opening and novel and interesting to me!)

12 x 100 free (first six on 2:00, next four on 1:55, last two on 1:50)

5 x 50 choice non-free - free by 25 (I did 3 fly and 2 back - I think we were on 1:05)

2500 yards total

Thursday gym

A good workout, though not quite according to plan - I got over there ten minutes early, as always, to warm up, and M. said he was running 5-10 minutes late. And just as we were about to get properly started at ten past, another lady turned up - really she was supposed to come at 11, but she had got the time wrong (and was quite late, if it had really been a 10am appt. - self-sabotage!).

I decided that in the interest of increasing the sum total of workout hours in the world, clearly she should take the appointment! So I did about 45 minutes on my own, it was very good, and then headed home to get on with the real-work part of the day.

It would have been the last of ten sessions that I'd prepaid a couple months ago, so I am not, actually, sorry to have saved it for later, because I think this will be the last one I have for a while. I still do not have details on the apartment situation, but it is almost certain that I will move before the end of the calendar year to an apartment that costs enough more than the one I'm in now that there is clear need for Triaspirational austerity measures. No more trainer sessions, and no more individual swimming lessons! I'll have my last one with I. this Saturday and tell her that I cannot squeeze in any more.

Both things have been, I think, a justifiable extravagance - working out with a trainer was a crucial part, for me, of making the transition from overweight unfit insane workaholic smoker to thoroughly triaspirational exercise fiend, and a once-a-week session is a very nice and easy (but expensive) way of staying on track. I think it will be clear to readers of this blog, though, that I am in fact capable of staying on track on my own! And the swimming lessons were essential last year, because in fact if you genuinely never learned and do not know the non-free strokes, there are pretty much no group/affordable ways to learn them properly - there are adult learn-to-swim classes that are for people who really can't swim at all, and there are freestyle classes (especially with the growing popularity of triathlon) where you can improve freestyle technique, but if you honestly do not know how to do breaststroke or butterfly or whatever and you want to learn, you almost have to go to the one-on-one teaching, which of course (this being NY) is wildly extravagant.

That said, a really wonderful swim teacher like I. (or Jim Bolster, who I had a couple amazing lessons with in the spring) is worth her weight in gold!

My goals for this week's lesson: some work on freestyle breathing and the back end of the freestyle pull; some work on the arm/pull of the butterfly, especially the back part of the pull and the arms flying back over to the front.

Thursday run

It was 6:50 and pitch black outside and thirty-six degrees and as I went downstairs in the elevator to head out to meet H. at 110th and Riverside, I could only think - H. and I are crazy....

(And then - it was dark, I was not wearing my glasses because my prescription sunglasses are what I always run in and it seems absurd to wear them in the dark! - but really the problem is my poor sense of direction - I sort of ran past our meeting spot, and then I ran up and down sort of 'lost' and kept on checking cross-street street signs - argggghhhhh! In an alternate universe, I have a fully functional sense of direction - in this one, I cannot explain it to someone who does not have this, but I honestly look around me and I cannot at all tell where I am, it is partly due to moderate short-sightedness but really the problem is more that it all looks very strange and just like everything else!)

Anyway, a very delightful run - it is beautiful running along the river as the sun comes up, and it really wasn't cold at all - not much of a wind.

5.3 miles, 46:36, 8:47 pace (avg HR 158)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wednesday run

Very good, too!

Ran over to meet up with C. and Triathlete L. at the reservoir. Two quickish reservoir loops with C., then joined L. and J. for a third loop. My times are split into 3 separate bits: the easy run over, the first two loops, and then the last loop plus run to subway (was very tempted to run all the way home, another mile and a half or so, but figured that this will already be a high-mileage week and I should not push my luck).

2.14 miles / 19:56 (9:19 pace) / avg HR 153
3.2 miles / 26:21 (8:14 pace) / avg HR 160
2.1 miles / 18:12 (8:40 pace) / avg HR 153

It is wintry out there!

Wednesday swim

It was good - I was feeling rather sluggish, and decided after the warmup that it would be a good day to work on a few things with the kind assistance of Coach Henning. I think this will be the way to keep a lot of pool time during my marathon taper, too - figure on the Monday and Wednesday morning sessions as technique work.

Warmup: 500 choice (I did 100 free, 100 back, 100 free, 100 IM, 100 free)

75 kick - drill - swim fly for a bit of feedback. I feel that this stroke is actually working pretty well right now, especially after that great lesson with I., but that there is one thing I do not really get yet - Henning singled it out, but I'm not sure quite how to work on it. It's the upper-body part, that ballistic motion where arms fly forward and you really come up out of the water. He says - go to the gym! But I will ask I. this Saturday if we can do a bit of work just on that - I am fine for now, though, I'd say.

Then I did 30 minutes of flip turn practicing! Hmmm, as a drill I am definitely doing better with these than I was in the spring. (It really is helpful to push off on back so as not to worry about the turn part of things.) But when I did 225 swim with turns in the last bit of time I had, they were pretty awful again! It is just going to take a lot of work. I was thinking - if I could have a magical fitness-related wish, it would be that I just somehow already know how to do a good turn for free and back. Then I thought - well, if I am willing to sink 30-40 hours in it, it will be boring but probably I will be able to do them perfectly well at the end!

100 back to finish

So: not much actual swimming, but some very useful time spent thinking about stuff.

900 yards total plus 30 minutes flip-turning

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Planning for last long run

It seems to me that if I run up to the George Washington Bridge, then back down all along the west side to Chambers Street, then back up to home at 116th St., this gives me roughly a twenty-mile run without the problem of having to repeat a loop or come temptingly near to my apartment at some not-far-enough-along point in the mileage. I will be doing it solo, so it will be a good mental test - I will hope it is not as rainy as it was today, though!

[ED. Afterthought: it divides naturally into thirds, too: roughly 6 up to the bridge and back down to where I live/the entrance to Riverside Park, then 6-7 to Chambers and 6-7 back up. So I can start out easy and run a little faster on segment 2 and then try and hit marathon pace for segment 3.]

Tuesday swim practice

Warmup (abbreviated - I was a bit late getting over there): 100 free, 100 IM

4 x 100 IM on 2:15

3 x 50 free on 1:00, 3 x 100 free on 2:00, 3 x 150 free on 3:00, 30 seconds extra rest, 3 x 200 free on 4:00

4 x 75 as back, choice stroke (I did fly!), breast, free

2250 yards total

Tuesday run

A delightfully exhilarating one, in crazy rain conditions!

If I had realized how hard it was going to rain, I might not have gone out; but I am glad I did, it was enjoyable (cold and wet - exciting!) and there would have been no easy way to make it up later in the week (unless I skipped swimming later, which I am not willing to do).

7.75 miles, 1:12, avg HR 157 (9:17 pace - only actually I jogged over to the park and did the clockwise loop at more of a good clip, then jogged back - I think I was at marathon pace or faster for the main body of the run)

1. The Injinji toe socks are amazing, but even they cannot counteract the effect of several full immersions in ankle-deep puddles! I was soaked to the skin before even half a mile; it was really raining!

2. I am very lucky to have such a flexible job schedule that I can run mid-morning on a weekday if my heart so desires...

3. Running is delightful!

4. Marathon training works - it is amazing how much faster and more effortless my running is now than it was in the summer - now I will have to figure out how to really hold on to that speed over the winter...

Monday, October 27, 2008

Monday swim

Hmmmm, I am sorry I have not made it more of a routine this semester, the Monday and Wednesday morning swims - I do like it, but I went only fairly irregularly in the first part of the semester and the next few weeks are going to be patchy...

(How much can I swim during a marathon taper?!? Time, intensity? Any thoughts are welcome - I would like to swim as much as possible, but do not want to defeat the purpose of tapering!)

(I substituted dolphin for whip kick on all breast.)

Warmup: 400 as 100 free, 100 kick on back, 100 free, 100 3-3-3 fly drill

Ladder with decreasing rest (starting at 15-20 RI, down to +/-5 for short bits):

200 free - 175 IM minus last free - 150 free - 125 back - 100 free - 75 breast - 50 free - 25 fly and back up the ladder

2300 yards total

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Long run #14

I don't have good data - the Pod battery was dead (must have forgotten to turn it off last time), and I started at 116th and Morningside with friend J. We ran over to the park and did the first loop together, but she hasn't been able to run much recently, so it was pretty slow and with a couple of brief walk breaks; then I did a faster second loop on my own (maybe :54 for the second six-mile loop?) Very enjoyable run, in any case - the thing about going slowly is that you feel so strong!

12+ miles

Total mileage for week 14: 28.5

(It is so little! But I swam a lot, we will hope that counts for something. This coming week is the last really big training week, with as much swimming as I can fit in and a real long run on Saturday, of 20-22 miles. That will be good!)

(In fact I add up the five swims I have had this week already and I see I did 10,000 yards exactly! That is exciting. But I think I will swim again tonight anyway.)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Saturday swim

I was locked in yesterday evening and all of today on a work conference. Long run rescheduled for Sunday, but I was pretty much hell-bent on swimming either last night or during the lunch break today, with at least notional willingness to remain flexible on which it would be!

(Am just now unduly irked because restaurant where I made reservation for 7:30 family dinner this evening for seven people just called to ask why we did not appear for 5:15 reservation - ARGHHHHH! - I am now waiting for them to call back and confirm the correct reservation, but I am worried they will not have space!)

Anyway, it turned out that really I did need to go to a reception last night (I'm bowing out of tonight's dinner because of aforesaid family obligation), so today it was - I suffered high irk as the second morning panel ran later and later and the previously generous 1:45-long lunch break shrank to 55 minutes! However I did get in a very nice swim, and it was not at all crowded (as witnessed by lots of backstroke and actual time intervals in workout below!), so that was a plus.

Warmup: 100 free, 50 back, 100 free, 100 back, 100 free, 150 back, 100 free (700)

5 x 100 leisurely IM (whip kick on breast for first 2, then dolphin kick on breast for last 3 - trying to give hip adductor a chance to finish getting better!)

10 x 50 free, odds fast on :50, evens easy on 1:10

50 easy back

1750 yards total

Friday, October 24, 2008

Thursday swim practice

It was good, too, though I felt rather slow. Legitimately slow - lots of exercise today!

Then I raced downtown on mercifully timely subway trains to meet my adopted grandfather at the theatre for an extremely long production of the entire Oedipus cycle - not a good production, very poorly acted - Tiresias had ludicrous floor-length dreadlocks, fistfuls of which he held in his hands with the effect of making him seem utterly and unintentionally Muppet-like - had to get an emergency Coke at the second intermission - did not sit down to (what turned out to be very delicious and relaxing) dinner till 11:30! Hmmmm, an enjoyable but rather long day...

Warmup (abbreviated): 100 free, 25 breast, 25 back, 25 fly drill, 25 free

6 x 100 free on 1:55, which we kept very well (I note that I really have gotten faster - I was leading, and I found it very easy to keep to the interval, with pretty much 10 seconds rest - I could definitely not swim that fast even a few months ago, so that is a happy fact to contemplate)

9 x 100 as 3 IM, 3 choice stroke non-free, 3 reverse IM (utter chaos - I have to get fast enough to lead on IM stuff too, as it is I am hopelessly slower on these than on freestyle bits! We were assigned sendoffs that I think were just unrealistically fast for actual lane composition, 2:30 for the IM and 2:25 for the other - I did back, everyone else did breast, so I led on the middle three - but we were not making them at all - probably 2:45 is more sensible, if there is nobody a bit faster to lead and it is that long a set?)

3 x 200 pull on 4:10, 4:00, 3:55 (but I do not understand why you get given three times when really you only have 2 sendoffs) - a nice surprise here which is that one other fellow is an amazingly fast puller, much faster than he is as a regular swimmer! Which makes me think he should be able to easily figure out how to swim a lot faster also! He overtook me after a 100 & thereafter led - I like leading, but I like it even more when somebody is having a very good swim! Should be he could get a few tips from the coach about body position and streamline and be swimming a lot faster in general...

50 easy swim down

2350 yards total

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thursday gym

A great workout with M. just now. Good thing I ate breakfast beforehand!

Hmmmmm, I am contemplating the possibility of moving to a more expensive apartment (in short, I work mostly at home, and live in a nice one-bedroom apartment currently, but the two things that would wildly improve my life are [a] a separate office at home - like the government, work should stay out of the bedrooom! - and [b] a washer-dryer in my own actual apartment) - but it will mean economizing - appointments with M. are one of life's luxuries - but it might be that I need to find a new income stream rather than cutting this one out...

Very nice and simple: 3 x through on the core routine, 3 x an upper-body sequence and then a bit more core-type stuff at the end. Let me try and write it down now so that I could reproduce the upper-body sequence on my own (that is the stuff I can never make myself do - I like it, it just seems too troublesome to bother with on my own...).

Core x 3: front plank, side plank, 15 x cobra with 3-pound weights, 15 pushups, 12 quadruped on each side with 8-pound weight, 15 v-raise with weighted bar, 15 toe-touches

Upper-body x 3 (seated on stability ball, with free weights one in each hand - not sure I have remembered all the weights correctly): reverse fly (8), shoulder press (8), fly (12), chest press (12), crunch (with both 12lb. weights also), bicep curl (8), kickback (8), lateral raise (5), front raise (5) (am I forgetting something?)

3 x front and side on back extension set-up with 12lb. weight; 3 x leg lifts on incline bench

Thursday run

Very nice early-morning run with new training partner H., who I met last year at early-morning swimming but who was then knocked out of training action by an inopportune broken foot (the result of a training accident - playing soccer in her apartment hallway with her daughter)! She has signed up for the Louisville Ironman race in 2009, and it should be that we can have some great training together - highly compatible run speeds (with the addendum that I only run as fast as I do because of diligent training - my faster running friends run that fast even when they only run once a week!). Omitted to turn on the Polar, so no speed or HR data, but it was 5.5 miles at what I would estimate as 8:45 pace.

I had a plan (the fruit of mid-semester mental insanity) that I would then go and swim and then go straight from the pool for the 10am workout with M., but fortunately I realized post-run that I had no fueling plan in place to make this notion a reality. I breakfasted instead, and will go to the 6pm swim workout as initially planned. I'm going to try and make it to one of the Friday-evening TNYA swim workouts at John Jay College tomorrow night, too - I am not really training per se for the 5K sea swim, but I think it will be to my advantage if I could make it to at least a couple ninety-minute masters swims (the CU ones are only 60), i.e. higher yardage in single session, and perhaps one long straight swim up at Riverbank also (Olympic pool) - I do not know if I have the fortitude or the time to do 5K on my own, but I would think I could pretty easily muster the determination for 4K and that would be very good practice also....

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wednesday run

Easy 5 in the park with C., Triathlete L. and her friend J. Very pleasant - brisk cold weather! c. 9:15 pace, maybe? Avg HR 155.

Wednesday swim

Nice little swim this morning. I am determined to start getting to more of these morning swims - it is a good way for me to increase training volume without going super-high-intensity, and it is a good way to start the day, if only I can get myself out of bed. I am not one of nature's early risers - in fact really being up in time for an 8:30 swim is not what most people would even consider early! I was rather late getting over there, but forty minutes is a good length of time to swim for anyway...

Warmup: 300 as breathing every 3, 5 by 50; 200 back; 100 as 50 swim with legs, 50 swim no legs

10 x 100: evens as free, increasing speed through #3 and then decreasing (parabola!); odds as stroke choice, 25 kick, 50 drill, 25 swim (I did three back and two fly)

Swim down: 50 back, 50 free

1700 yards total

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tuesday swim practice

Very, very enjoyable.

Hmmm, strange day, I felt very cold and tired and rather awful except when I was running, teaching or swimming! That means 4 hrs good, 8 hrs bad - but I do not think I am getting sick, because then I would have been feeling bad during the workouts also. Allergies, tiredness? Anyway, I am quite busy for the next week and a half and then I have a week (it's Columbia's election holiday, and I am free from teaching) in piratey tropical island paradise, so I will not grumble in the meantime!


(Even though lanemate K. and I got bumped up to a faster lane and then demoted back down again when it emerged - what I knew already! - that really we do belong in the slower one! Ah well, I can dream - I will swim faster one of these days...)

Warmup (abbreviated): 200 as 100 free, 50 back, 50 breast

Stroke in IM order: 4 x 25 kick, 4 x 50 drill, 4 x 75 swim (cannot remember sendoffs)

5 x 200 free on 3:55

10 x 50 free as one fast on :50, one easy on 1:10

2 x 50 stroke non-free (I did back)

50 easy swim-down

and then it was over! I.'s floppy-paws thing has made a magical improvement in my stroke - by the end of practice, I was more back to the usual technique, I must concentrate on maintaining it throughout - but I felt very strong and easy in the water, it was great. Not faster as such, just much lower effort level than usual. I was leading on the last half of the hour (the slower lane) - I particularly enjoy leading on the long freestyle sets. At first I thought that if someone was more or less on my feet, that really it meant he would rather be in front, but then I realized that I like working a little harder than average and others like working a little less! Pulling the train is enjoyable to me if I am at an appropriate speed not to hold people up...

2450 yards total

Tuesday run

Gosh, that was a good one...

I felt absolutely awful this morning - I got up early to grade papers, and between the lingering Benadryl hangover (taken last night to combat allergies unphased by Claritin & induce mild sleepiness) and the lack of sufficient sleep I could not get warm or dispel extreme bleariness. I finished grading, but could only lie huddled under the covers in bed to try and get a little warmer! By the time I dragged myself back out of bed and got dressed to run, I could see that I only had time for 6 rather than 8 miles. But perhaps because of that, I set out faster than I usually do on my Tuesday run, and it was utterly delightful - strong and easy/hard in the perfect running way. I had Deep Thoughts and it was very enjoyable!

(I think that I have a natural comfortable running pace around 9:15-9:30, which during the summer months is easily slowed by heat and humidity to 10:30, and then as it cools down I stay slightly lazy and accustomed to the slower turnover. Just this last few weeks I feel like I've been running comfortably quickly again - it's great!)

52:26, 6.03 miles according to Pod, 8:41 average pace (avg HR 160)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Monday swim

The morning swim slot really just does not work for me during the semester, but I was determined to fit one in this morning if humanly possible. I did not get up quite early enough to finish my massive xeroxing task in a timely manner, but I realized at 8:35 as I frantically sloughed off the last pages that if I scrambled myself over there I could still have a perfectly good forty-five minute swim, and that is exactly what I did.

(No flip turns, though!)

Warmup: 900 as free with every fourth length stroke (back, breast, fly)

Then Coach Henning gave me a little set: 30 x 25 in sets of 5, build from first length with 2 stroke cycles fast and rest of the length smooth to fifth length sprint, with five seconds rest (10 seconds after the spring length)

100 cooldown (50 back, 50 free)

1750 yards total

Now for another mad scramble to get ready for class!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sunday run

4 miles easy (recovery run). Beautiful day for it. Too bad this season is so short...

Mostly just running around 9:30 pace, but with some stretches of 9:05-9:10 to try and get a feel for that (aspirational) marathon pace. I think it is realistic - my HR was still only in the upper 140s after four miles.

I am still full of regret that I could not have a higher-mileage plan this time round, but I guess I know it was for the best! PATIENCE!

Week 13 total: 32 miles

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Swimming lesson

It was very good! I put on a pair of fins and did a lot of butterfly-related things, all designed to really get going better on UNDULATION. Including a very funny drill involving standing and jumping up and diving down into the water and touching the bottom of the pool as a way to capture the right feel before moving into the regular stroke. My fly is not bad, I really enjoy that stroke, but it will be much better if I can really remember these crucial things (head down with the dive, really use the neck; keyhole shape with hands, finishing quite near to the front so that the hands can properly karate-chop their way out of the water; let them fly forward in a ballistic motion rather than doing the work with strength and wasting energy; bottom like a duck's really coming up with every undulation).

A bit of work on turns at the end, only a polite but firm lifeguard told us that while it was OK for I. to give me some pointers, we were not allowed to have a full-blown lesson...

Instead we did some more floppy-paws freestyle (finger-drag and thumbsies) and worked a bit more on turns as they naturally happened at the end of each length. I come in too close to the wall - but really learning to do a flip turn is just difficult, I must start doing them on warm-up and low-key swims again or else I will never learn!

Long run #13

Only five weeks to the marathon - insanity!

A very nice run this morning - my legs felt dead for the first miles, but it is the most beautiful day, upper 40s/lower 50s with bright sun and clear fresh air...

I ran over and met C. at the 102nd St. transverse, and we did three middle loops together. I sort of meant to run home also, but I was too lazy - instead I bought a very delicious bottle of tart cherry-apple cider at the farmer's market stand on Central Park West and drank it while walking home at a leisurely pace! I only had 14 miles on the schedule, so I did about the right distance anyway, maybe a little short...

Main run: 1:48:25, 12.33 miles, 8:49 average pace (avg HR 159, max 170)

That is actually faster than my marathon goal pace - I have been chewing over these questions about pacing fairly obsessively, and I think I have made some decisions but will have to remain very flexible on the day. The Philadelphia course is very flat, and with a late November date it is unlikely to be hot - pretty much ideal running conditions (certainly easier even than this middle-loop course we were doing today, which has one significant hill and a number of minor hilly stretches).

I am therefore irresistibly tantalized by the notion of a (just barely) sub-4:00 marathon - 9:08 pace. I think it is just about possible in a best-case scenario, but that if the numbers did not fall where they do on the "clock" (i.e. lure of number starting with 3: rather than 4: - irrational but strong!) I would probably be safer with a 4:10 optimistic goal and a 4:10-4:20-4:30 spread rather than the 4:00-4:10-4:20. Like, my best possible marathon at current levels of fitness and experience might fall somewhere more like 4:08, if you know what I'm saying...

C. and I have both identified respective times to beat!

[ED. I forgot to say - great first outing for the Race Ready shorts and the Injinji toe socks! Excellent recommendations courtesy of the Athena Diaries...)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Day off after all!

Was slightly sleeplessly up till all hours after trying to go to Mark's gig, which was in the end canceled, but only after considerable hanging-around time. Club-going not compatible with triaspirational lifestyle! Might have a short swim this evening anyway, but will count on the fourth run of the week being a short recovery run on Sunday...

Pet tales

Surfing rats!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Comfort me with apples

Swimming pool mishap. (Via Nico.)

I will do my five-mile run tomorrow instead of today (it is 75 degrees here!) and go to a swim practice in the evening tomorrow also, then have Sunday as my rest day instead of Friday. Tonight I'm going to the theatre and late dinner with my adopted grandfather (plus, if the timing works out right, Mark - who usually appears here as M.! - is singing tonight at 11:30 at a club in the meatpacking district and I will stop off there en route home if it is humanly possible and compatible with dinner timing! Even though I will feel like a fish out of water - I am not the club type - but it would be great fun to see him perform live!).

Thursday gym

8am workout with M. Initially groggy, but felt great in the end!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wednesday run

A really good Central Park loop with C. and Triathlete L. I was a little worried - my legs were dead yesterday, I was afraid I would have to go slowly today! But mysteriously I felt very strong and powerful - I was running smoothly and fairly hard - we were quite a bit faster than last week, too.

Some stomach trouble in the last couple miles - I must figure out what I can do about this, it clearly happens as a result of tipping up over my lactate threshold (i.e. Harlem Hill). We slowed down a hair and I was OK making it to the end of the run, but in a long-distance race situation where I still had a lot more miles to run I would have had to have a couple of toilet stops - not good. On the other hand, in a non-hilly non-hot marathon there is no way my heartrate should get nearly that high until the last few miles of the race. Something to ponder...

6.1 miles, 51:38, 8:28 pace (avg HR 161, max HR 176)

Training is having an effect?!?

On the subway home, I saw something that totally made my day. It was utterly magical! An elderly black man, in a Kangol cap and a rather Dickensian overcoat (it's still nearly 70 degrees here!), was sketching commuters. He had that darting gaze that is the true sign of the high-speed portraitist, and he was most extraordinarily talented - you often see artists in the park and such-like (or at shopping malls!) doing a pretty awful job (generic flattering non-differentiated scrawls), but this was the real thing. It was utterly captivating watching the likeness emerge on the page, with his darting glance jumping up for a split-second assessment of the subject's features and then back down to the sketch with pencil or soft rubbing tool or eraser. Pure magic!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tuesday run and swim practice

am: 8 miles (easy zone 2 - I felt very groggy and with tired legs when I set out, it took about six miles to warm up, that is ridiculous!). In sum, slow but enjoyable.

pm: swim practice!

Hmmmm, I do not know why I cannot just have peaceful acceptance of things in life, why always so thoroughly triaspirational?!?

It was a very enjoyable swim - but really I must get fast enough that I can regularly lead that slow lane, it was a very fun group dynamic but we were not following the coach's instructions with any great precision! The fellow at the front politely but impractically (because if there are 4 in a lane, leaving 5 seconds between will always have roughly 15 seconds lag time for last swimmer to get in, even assuming even pacing - it can easily be more if I am slow & at the back!) believed that it was best to wait for the last swimmer to arrive before setting off on the next bit, regardless of sendoffs (and of course there is not always supposed to be as much as 15 seconds rest...).

Then I was laughing at myself, because about halfway through, I thought, "Hmmm, I do not feel that I am swimming especially slowly today, why I am getting so far behind these guys on each bit?" And then I took a look and saw that they were subbing in free for fly and doing swim on the kick lengths! NO WONDER! Anyway, it was all good, but I have a yen to be in charge and enforce coach's instructions!!!

I cannot remember all the sendoffs, and I suspect we were not always making the intervals on some of the tighter ones anyway, but let us say that it was along these lines:

warmup 50 free/25 stroke (alternating through back, breast, fly) for total of 450

6 x 75 free on 1:35 (450)

6 x 150 as fly-free-back-free-breast-free on 3:20 (900)

8 x 75 of 2 x each stroke, in IM order, as swim-kick-swim by 25, on 1:35 for the stroke and 1:25 for the free (this was the interval we did not at all make!). I did free instead of breast, I clearly twanged some muscle - the hamstring is better, but it is that same thigh, I think it is the hip adductor i.e. inner thigh - at the end of my lesson with I. the other day! (600)

2500 yards total

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Brief Sunday swim

Only a very short one - as anyone who has ever been a teacher knows, a Monday-morning class means lots of work late on Sunday night, for some reason it is not in human nature to spread it evenly over the weekend!

warmup: 100 floppy-paws freestyle, 100 floppy-paws finger-drag drill, 100 IM easy (fly drill), 100 back, 100 free

Then I got in a very slow lane with a kickboard and pull buoy and did some of those drills from yesterday: 50 whip kick with board on back, 50 ditto on front; 50 sculling with pull buoy, 100 regular breast pull with pull buoy and body dolphin/head diving down; 50 breast. It felt good, but thigh muscles tired out from yesterday, so I did another 100 or so of free and called it a night.

The floppy-paws stuff is great! I. said it looked like a different swimmer when I did it yesterday, and I could feel it again today.

900 yards total (short!)

Then a quick trip to the pharmacy to replenish the Claritin supply - it does not seem like a miracle drug when I am taking it, I still have some allergy symptoms at this time of year, but I took the last tablet in the bottle on Friday and by this morning my eyes and nose were streaming, my nose and upper lip are so red from nose-blowing that I really look as though I either have an awful cold or have been crying all day! I have just taken a pill, but I think that once you let it go out of your system it takes a little while for the effects to kick back in...

Week 12 recap

I only ran three times rather than four this week (8 miles on Tuesday, 6 miles on Wednesday, 16 miles on Saturday), and it's a beautiful day for a run, but I have regretfully concluded that the recovery time will be more valuable than a lovely five-mile run, arghhhhh!

I will swim later instead - it was reading Misty's advice to take two days off from running after the long run that reminded me I should be more cautious and less inflexible vis-a-vis the schedule and notions of total weekly mileage! I will swim later instead, and I will wait to run again till Tuesday.

Week 12 total: 30 miles

I am finding myself very hungry for more miles - I think that I must take the long view, I would like to keep my mileage in the region of 25-30 on a permanent basis (8 easy/flat, 6 hard/hilly, 4 easy, 12 long - or another approach is to build up frequency first, and try a five-day schedule in which two of the runs are only 3-4 miles), if I do that for the next 8-10 months then I could do a significantly higher-mileage fall marathon training program next year without a big risk of injury. Anyway, I should just wait and see - but certainly I am feeling the opposite of burned-out on running, I wish I could be having a lot more of it, however common sense recommends parsimony!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Swimming lesson!

I took steps re: the scandalous breaststroke!

Had a great lesson with I. earlier this afternoon - we met up at Riverbank State Park and did an interesting series of things designed to improve that stroke in particular.

A drill kicking on back with the board, really concentrating on keeping the knees together and drawing the heels up to the butt and then flexing the ankles and kicking properly round and outwards, for power and feeling the glide; and then on the stomach but still with the board, focusing on the whipness of the whip kick, as it were, and the feeling of jumping ahead in the water.

Some kicking in streamline position (keep head down!).

Some sculling and pulling drills with pull buoy and bringing some dolphin undulation into the stroke.

I felt there was a great improvement by the end of the hour - my breaststroke is not actually terrible, I think the contrast with other people's is mostly just that for many people it is their strongest non-free stroke whereas for me it certainly is not that, but it certainly tends to be very flat and shallow with relatively little power in the kick.

I will keep on doing some of these drills, focusing on kicking in particular, on keeping the head-dive and undulation and on keeping the front end of the stroke fairly tight and narrow rather than diffuse.

A bit of work at the end on freestyle - some finger-drag drill (which is definitely a drill I do not do well) really concentrating on high elbows and relaxed forearm in the part of the stroke that is above the water. I told I. the story of how my mother's childhood piano teacher would hold her wrists and shake them loosely until they really flopped and say "Floppy paws!," so we had some floppy-paws lengths of finger-drag drill - stopping stroking now and again to kick on side and make sure that the elbow was pointing up to the ceiling and the forearm was just hanging down with gravity and not held in a tight and stressful position - and it was most helpful.

We'll have a few more here and there as we can - very good stuff...

Long run #12

Not quite the run I imagined, but very nice all the same.

I did it with the Running Center folks, on a four-mile out-and-back course in the park (from W. 106th and CPW into the park at 103rd, along the lake to the road and then onto the reservoir at 86th, around that loop and back by the same route). I had hoped to do 20, but I called it after 16 (Mindy's schedule for me had 16-20, and I'm still six weeks out from the race - of course I would always rather do the larger number, but...) - stomach trouble!

I took a bathroom break after loop 3 (a lot of stairs up to the toilet at the 106th St. track!) and another one after loop 4 and regretfully decided it was more sensible at that point to stop than to keep going.

I don't know that it was something I ate, I think that I was just fairly lethally tired this week - bad insomnia on Thursday, I didn't fall asleep till after 4, and it took me a couple hours of tossing and turning last night also before I could get to sleep, so I had only a bit less than six hours last night, not enough to make up for the previous night's awful shortfall.

Felt pretty tired walking over there this morning, and then we did the first couple loops really fast because it was such gorgeous weather - my HR was a little higher than it should have been, and it is predictable that the stomach then starts acting up.

Uneven pacing - it was not as good a training exercise, in that respect, as that NYRR run I did a couple weeks ago. We were at 9:15 or faster pretty steadily for the first eight miles, and most of the third loop also; my last one was quite a bit slower because I was trying not to set off the stomach stuff. I don't have detailed lap data.

Anyway, 16 miles, 2:30:21, 9:23 average pace

It really was a nice run despite these drawbacks! And best of all, I have found a training partner for that 20-miler on Nov. 1 that I was a bit worried about (it is the day before the NY marathon, so all the usual suspects are unavailable) - one of Mindy's runners lost a week or two of training because of a minor injury and has decided to run Philadelphia instead of NY, and we can easily run the same pace, so that will be great. We will do it together on the middle loop in the park, and it will be much easier and more enjoyable than doing it alone.

One other regretful observation: as much as I like these Brooks short-sleeved running shirts, they are no good for long runs; even with massive amounts of Bodyglide, the underarm chafing is unacceptable! I am going to be yelping when I get into the shower shortly...

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Thursday swim practice

A very tiring and demanding practice! I think there were multiple factors at play:

1. I have had a couple really good days of working out - for once I actually feel like I could use the rest day tomorrow, instead of chafing at the constraint!

2. A fair bit of fly at the beginning - early oxygen debt...

3. Nobody really fast in the lane - we were all roughly commensurate, with different strengths and weaknesses, and took turns leading - but the intervals were definitely aspirational, and we could not hold 'em (I am leaving them out, but assuming challenging to impossible - like the last 5 x 100 descending we were assigned 1:55, 1:50, 1:45, 1:40, 1:35, which it is possible we could have just about done with a couple fast guys holding solid at the front but which is really too fast for me at this stage of things).

Anyway, a very good swim! Nice folks, too - a very good sense of camaraderie, especially as we were respectively pleading to be allowed to go nearer to the back of the lane...

Warmup: 200 free, 200 IM easy (but as Wendy coincidentally observed to me earlier vis-a-vis her own workout, really there is no such thing!)

4 x 25 fly
4 x 50 breast
4 x 75 back
4 x 150 free (we set off on this doing 4 x 150 IM no free, but I think the coach changed his mind once he saw the state we were actually in - or else perhaps I just misunderstood the assignment! I was leading on the second half of this set - my backstroke and longer-distance freestyle are my strongest suit, though my turns are very inefficient and slow)

8 x 25 kick with board in IM order

5 x 100 free descending from 1:55

3 x 50 swim down choice (I did free, back, free)

2450 yards total

Thursday gym

Good workout with M. I did not get up early enough to run 4-5 miles beforehand (which really necessitates getting up enough earlier to eat and digest breakfast also - 1 hr. exercise on empty stomach is fine, 2 hrs. not sensible), and I regretfully observe that my day does not have the space in it later for such a thing either - I will have to do it on Sunday or else skip it. Vague possibility I might be able to squeeze something in before swimming, but I need to see how the afternoon work schedule plays out first....

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Wednesday run

The central park loop, with C. and Triathlete L. Very good, too - I cannot say why it was that we were a minute slower than 2 weeks ago (L. had done boot camp class yesterday, and C. raced a half-marathon over the weekend, so perhaps they were just both less fleet of foot than they sometimes are?), but it was a good strong hard run anyway - I never quite caught my breath again after letting my HR go too high as we ran up Harlem Hill!

6.05 miles, 54:09, 8:57 pace

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Heavenly Tuesday swim practice

OK, I am 2 for 2 today, that was absolutely heavenly. Let me write it down before I forget...

(I got a calf cramp in the last 150 and had to sit it out, so I won't count it in my total, but it went away almost at once and I was able to swim the last couple hundred without any problem. I was too rushed today, I did not have time to procure and consume enough calories, that is the fact of the matter!)

I like swimming in a lane with people a bit faster than I am. These intervals were all very tight, but I can just about make them and I will never get faster if I do not swim hard. We all took a bit of extra rest after the first two of the 4 x 100 free, but otherwise hewed fairly closely to these times.

Warmup: 4 x 100 (50 free, 25 back, 25 breast)

#1: 6 x 100 IM, first three regular IM and second three reverse IM, on 2:10

#2 (all freestyle, with 30 seconds set rest between each 4):

4 x 50 on :50
4 x 75 on 1:20
4 x 100 on 1:50
4 x 150 on 2:45

That last one is a great set for me - it doesn't have any breaststroke in it!

swim down: 2 x 100 as back-free by 25 and then breast-free by 25, plus 50 free

2600 yards total

Tuesday run

8 blissful and utterly beautiful miles. V. grateful to be running outside! Perfect day for it - low 50s, sunny, breezy - ran down the west side to 34th St. Marred only by sharp corner of toenail digging into other toe - but if there is not some small imperfection, we do not appreciate things properly. Must now HASTEN into shower & out the door, or I will be late for a meeting!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Monday swim

Just a short one - I fell deeply and inconveniently asleep for 90 minutes in the early evening, woke up ravenously hungry but also desperately in need of a swim and with many an hour of work still to do this evening! I have swum, I have grocery shopped, I am blogging, I will shortly put away groceries & feed myself & buckle down for some hours of reading. It is not good sleep hygiene, but it is better than nothing...

1200 yards only - it was a bit crowded, not bad. Mostly freestyle, but in there I did 2 x 50 breast, 2 x 100 back, 100 fly drill - along those lines, anyway.

I feel I am on the verge of a mental breakthrough about the importance of a streamline kicking off the wall - often in a week after I didn't swim much I find myself more aware of something like this, but I think I am really ready to get this working properly. It is one of those things people have to explain to you many a time before you are really ready to internalize it! But one of the swimming-related books I read recently had a very vivid description of the cost of lazy pushing off the wall in the 1650 freestyle, and it somehow has stuck. I am doing a plank often enough when I work out with M., I should not be confused about this...

Saturday, October 4, 2008

"It was about a million degrees of heat"

I am laughing at myself now, because even a pretty bad run puts me in a sunny mood, but I really had an awful treadmill run just now! It is a recovery week, and I only had 6-8 miles on the schedule, but I could barely eke out six...

It was lethally hot - after 1 mile I realized that there was an unplugged fan standing idle & no reason I should not plug it in and direct it towards the evil treadmill, but in fact there is no turning back the clock on that sort of overheating. I spent the rest of the hour fondly but ruefully recalling my genetic and temperamental affinities with my beloved English grandmother, who would always in hot weather (and it was only mildly hyperbolic!) describe her face getting like boiled beetroot! Also I had a stomach-ache from eating lunch too late in the day. ARGHHHHHHHHH!

The mental shenanigans of a recovery week do not suit me, I will be glad to be back to a regular build week in coming days - tomorrow I'm traveling, Monday I'm very busy and will only have time for a quiet short evening swim, but I will hope for a good run Tuesday morning to restore confidence and a good swim workout Tuesday evening to get the blood flowing properly again...

9We did get in 20 minutes of sea swimming after all this morning - it was, of course, the most beautiful shining morning at the race start time, though in fact it was raining again not long afterwards and it's the lightning that makes it a safety issue.)

Anyway, let us call this week's run mileage (week 11 - only seven weeks till the big race!) 21 and move on forward...

Friday, October 3, 2008

Puppy paddle

Endless Pool bit at the FT (site registration required).


Sea swim canceled, due to weather!

End-of-week roundup

I have been prevented from posting by rain-related internet outages rather than by some more sinister reason - if I go silent again, it's almost certainly due to another outage! Hmmmm, I always think it is good for the character to have some brief spells of internet-free existence, it is an awful time-waster, but I was mighty glad when it came on again this afternoon about half an hour ago...

Yesterday: good master's swim, just an easy workout because many of those in attendance are planning on doing the sea swim tomorrow! I had a great swim, I must say - halfway through, I realized I probably should have been in a faster lane, but by leading a slightly slower one I was really able to focus on form and felt very strong in the water. September was a good month of swimming, and I feel like I'm starting to see some real benefits on both swimming and running compared to an August of heat and pool closures!

c. 250 warmup; 2 x 200 alternating 25 easy and 25 fast, 4 x 100 drill choice (we did right arm, left arm, full catch-up, finger-drag), 4 x 100 breathing every 5, 100 cooldown (50 free, 50 back)

1550 yards total


6 treadmill miles (easy zone 2)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Watery experiment

Tried some experimental pool-jogging this afternoon. I think on the whole it is a failed experiment - either I'm using the flotation belt and have a hard time mustering the appropriate intensity, or else I am doing it with no assistance and frantically pedalling legs to stay above water... When I did it before, it was a coached workout with interval bits, which made it easier to get a really good intensity level going.

Anyway, 40 minutes, I will swop it in for 4 easy run miles but tomorrow I must do a real one!