On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Friday, July 30, 2010

Week in review: NYCM training week 4

Let me ask you something: is it too much to ask that I look like this at the end of a run?  Is it too much to ask that I be smiling, lovely, and grateful when I finish a run, instead of sweaty, surly, and exhausted?  Maybe the weather up in New Brunswick was better last weekend then it was here (probably).  Or maybe I need to start wearing those little briefs to run (probably not).  Either way, this is Tizita Bogale after taking first in the IAAF World Junior Championships for running a 4:08.06 1500m.

Me, my personal best for 1500m was decidedly slower than that this week.  Here's what I did:

Friday: lovely lovely rest.
Saturday: 4m at the Queens half.
Sunday: 10 long, hard, frustrating miles, punctuated only briefly by running into a friend (also running) in Central Park.
Monday: REST. And 40 minutes on the elliptical, but mostly rest.  Of course, the first nice weather we've had in ages, and my legs are mushy!
Tuesday: 5m with 10x100m strides.  Much better this go-round than the last time. Kind of fun, actually.  Except for swerving out of the way of dead rats on the path, but...
Wednesday: 5m on a treadmill in the middle of the day. Stupid treadmill.
Thursday: 6.5m on a treadmill in the evening. Jersey Shore was on, but that doesn't mitigate against how much I hate the treadmill.

30.5m.  Not bad, but the miles weren't as strong as I would have liked.

I will avenge that Queens half, I've decided.  I'm signed up for the Bronx half in a few weeks.  It promises to be just as hot with just as little shade.

But that's not all!  In a fit of craziness, I registered for two other races:
-"Battle of Brooklyn" 10m (I tend to race well in Prospect Park - fingers crossed that holds)
-Sgt. Keith A. Ferguson 5k across the Brooklyn Bridge (I like a shorter race!)

I'm contemplating doing something EVEN STUPIDER this weekend and registering for the Flying Monkey.  I'll let you know what I decide come Monday (unless I get shut-out, that is - nobody go and take my spot, okay? unless you're my friend (do it, GBN!) in which case it will be cool to meet up there so please go and register).

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Hypocrisy

When I originally started out to write this post, I was going to title it, "What do you do when you know someone is doing the wrong training?"

And then I was like, "Duh, you leave it alone and let them realize it on their own."  Then I thought, "But what do you do when you know someone is not training as hard as they should?"

And then I was like, "Duh, Tracy, welcome to your life.  That is you."  So, I titled it "Hypocrisy," since what I'm about to do is to rant about a friend when this post could be applicable to me, as well.

This friend is not a runner.  Yes, he once did a marathon - at my insistence and on inadequate training, but he finished it.  He was in the Army once, and so he still considers himself a runner in a rather cute, nostalgic way.  But ultimately, although he is fit, he is not a runner.  We tried running together a few times years ago, but I quickly learned that his militaristic, no talking, no fun approach to running didn't mesh with my, um, rather laidback style.  So, I just accepted that he is not a runner.

Right now, he's considering a job that requires a fitness test.  A 300 meter sprint followed by a 1.5m speed test, to be specific, with sit-ups and push-ups added to the mix in between.  His approach, therefore, is to go to the gym twice a week and blow out full-speed on the treadmill and not understand why it is that he's not really improving.  I mean, he basically is a runner, right? or so he thinks.  I've tried to suggest that maybe he could get better through more consistent running, or maybe distances of more than a mile at a time.  I've tried to suggest he should try it outside (since the test will be outside).  But no, he's going to do what he's going to do.  He's close to his goal time, but over the past few weeks he's stayed exactly that: a few seconds away, with no improvement.

Recently, we made plans to go to the track in the morning.  I wanted to stretch out my legs, and he wanted to do a(nother) time trial.  But, when it came time to head out, he revealed that he didn't think he could run (even slowly) to the track - a distance of less than a mile - because that would wipe him out too much to be able to to do the test.

I want to help him.  He wants this job.  But I can't help him any more than I've already tried to, and that's hard.  And I'm a hypocrite - it's far, far easier to criticize someone else's training program than it is to look critically at your own.

(He doesn't read this, so let's just pretend I never wrote it, 'kay?)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Things are not looking good for Tracy

I'm really struggling with this heat lately.

On Sunday, after the Queens Half, I tried to pick up where I left off and do my long run.  My sister/coach was telling me to truncate my scheduled 14m and only do 10, and she was telling me to run/walk - whatever I needed to do to get over the miles.  "Ha ha ha!" I thought.  "Run/walk! As if!"  Well, two miles in and I had already switched to a run/walk.  Another mile or so in and I ran (literally, get it? ha ha ha) into a friend on the path, and seeing him shamed me into running slightly more - barely.  We were running opposite directions on the outer loop of Central Park, meaning that I then ran into him again on the other side of the park.  At that point I was basically crawling... and it didn't get better from there.

I know some of this just is what it is.  This is shaping up to be NYC's hottest July on record, period, at 6 degrees warmer than average.  But why am I not acclimating to it?  There are things I could do better: get more sleep, go out and run earlier, try harder (I do go easy on myself often).  And I have upped my mileage, or at least been more consistent with my mileage, the past few weeks.  But I'm still irritated by it.  I hate how hard I'm struggling and how much it's messing with my goals.  My runs are more often miserable than good and when I'm not running, I'm sleeping or thinking about sleeping.

If you have any suggestions for me, I'd love to hear them.  Otherwise, I leave you with an amusing commercial you may have seen before.  Perhaps I should try this in the heat?  (No actual nudity as all the important parts are blurred, but possibly NSFW if you work in a conservative environment.)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Seriously? SERIOUSLY?

I got this email in my inbox yesterday...


Where to begin with this one.

I find the whole thing wrong.  Am I alone here?  Everything from the flippant "What every marathon gal needs" (what I need: how about, not being talked down to by being called a gal?) to the $25 price tag on a cotton t-shirt to the "fashion-forward design" - flowers and hearts, natch, because that's what we gals like.  If only it had been pink... sigh.

I'm excited to be running the NYCM.  I support the NYRR, even though I've had some complaints about their corral system before.  And I get that it's an expensive race to put on and that a lot of people appreciate the chance to buy merchandise to support their training.  And of course I get that if I don't like the shirt, I should just not buy it.  But... but... I'll save my money for the gloves with the five boroughs on each of the fingers that you can buy at the expo, thank you.  Imma rock those flower-free bad boys every day this winter.

Monday, July 26, 2010

NYRR Queens Half Marathon race report - sort of

The day before this race, I did NOT want to do it.  Record heats predicted.  Course with no shade.  High humidity.

It wasn't just the usual voice in my head that tries to talk me out of stuff, though.  You know, the voice that tells me, "Sleep in! You can do your run on the treadmill tonight," or, "Aren't your legs tired? Just take it easy and give yourself a rest..."  This was a loud, stern voice, saying, "If you do this race, and you run it even remotely hard, you will be f-ed for the rest of the week.  And then you will be sacrificing crucial training for a pointless race that is NOT your goal, one where you stand no chance of PRing and further more, you could hurt yourself/suffer heat exhaustion/risk dehydration.  You're being stupid."

Um, yeah, I was kind of hospitalized for dehydration once.  I was young.  I don't like to stay hydrated.  In my stupid head, proper hydration =  bad things (sweating too much or having to go to the bathroom too often), not good things (one's body functioning properly).  I know this is dumb and I'm getting over it.

You might see me walking around, carrying a water bottle.  Make sure I'm drinking from it and not just using it as an accessory.

My sister/coach told me in no uncertain terms not to do the race.  And then my friend Renee, who I met running the Brooklyn half, told me I had to, to keep her company.  I was kind of leaning that way, anyway, so it wasn't a hard sell.  I mean, I needed to do a long run this weekend somehow, and I'd rather do it with a friend and with volunteers handing me Gatorade.


Long story short: 4 miles in and my race was over.  I walked off the course and took the subway home with a short detour to the drugstore - my sister told me I needed salt and should find some packets of it to take, but I substituted Pringles.*  That counts, right?

Could I have finished?  Who cares?  It was in the 90s and I was dragging by mile 4.  The race was sparsely populated, meaning that when I left a port-a-potty just past mile 4, only 50 minutes into the race (chip time, though), they were re-opening the streets and closing up the water tables.  I was running this race basically as a supported training run, but races (whether  your heart is in them or not) are NO fun when it's clear that you're far, far at the back of the pack.

Sure, there's always the argument that I can't predict marathon day conditions, and training in bad conditions is a way of preparing myself for the unexpected.  That's true.  I doubt it will be this brutally hot on marathon day in November (and honestly, if it is, it would be an odd fluke and I suspect/hope they'd cancel it).  But even still, that's my goal. This wasn't.  Finishing this race would have had a negative impact on the rest of this week's training.  No regrets.**

*I also discovered that mixing Gatorade with seltzer water is truly lovely as a post-run refreshment.  Seltzerade! Gatezer! Seltgatoradezer!

**Okay, maybe a teeny tiny bit of regret.  It'll pass.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Nothing to see here...

I just changed some settings on the blog and I'm testing my feeds.

(In case you're curious, ages ago I was feeling flush so I spent $10 on purchasing the www.gotracygo.com domain, and I finally got around to configuring it to host my blog.  The blogspot URL will redirect and my feeds should continue to work with either address, so there shouldn't be any need to update anything on your end.)

I hope you're having a good weekend! Stay tuned for my not-very-exciting Queens Half Marathon report on Monday.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Week in review: NYCM training week 3

A few notes:

Badwater ended recently (although it feels like those of us trying to run outside in New York are experiencing our own neverending Badwater).  Did you know that Deena Kastor crewed (on the DL) for Shannon Farrar-Griefer, the woman behind Moeben sleeves?  (I love how the Moeben website features pictures of the sleeves worn for fashion, not running.  I love their sleeves, but let's keep them to athletic pursuits.)

You heard it here first: Badwater is a crazy race that I do not aspire to, period.  That said, I'm open to crewing for anyone who needs it.  I'm awesome fun on road trips, I'm a hardworker, and I used to live in Egypt, so I'm down with the heat when I need to be.  Any takers?

Also, in case you don't get enough of me here, once a week or so you can also check out my NYCM blog on NYCRuns.  I'm supposed to do a weekly update of my training there (creating a narrative story of my training over the next few months that hopefully won't involve the words "can't" or "defer" - I'm starting to get nervous about the race, can you tell?).  I have a very simple outline of things I'll likely write about, but if you have any suggestions, let me know.

Now, what did I do this week?
  • Friday: ran Thursday night, so I took the day off.
  • Saturday: Rest.  9-5 training all day and I lacked the will power to get up at 4:30am.  We had some friends in town who swept us away to dinner right after my training, too.  Lame excuses, I know, to disguise my bad priorities.
  • Sunday: Rest, again.  Turns out the highly-touted "24 hour" branches of my gym ALL close early on Sunday nights.  This is NYC, peeps, and one of the biggest gyms in the city.
  • Monday: 10.25m on the treadmill.  My sister/coach gave me permission to truncate my scheduled 13 due to the heat and my race this coming Saturday.
  • Tuesday: 3.5m on the treadmill.
  • Wednesday: woke up too late to run and couldn't run at night, so I ran some errands on my bike instead.
  • Thursday: 6.77m
20.5m.  Considering that I'm coming off of a cold and my schedule was brutal this week, I'm pleased that I picked up where I left off and am back in it.  With the heat, it's becoming harder and harder to manage my running time, though.

I need to get up earlier, but I'd forgotten the fatigue of death that takes over when I up my training.  Combine my sudden need to get 8 hours of sleep (and physical inability to get by on fewer than 7) with the fact that I don't sleep well with the AC unit on in the bedroom and you have a potent situation for Tracy Fatigue.  I'm tired... always tired... and this likely won't abate until roughly mid-November.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Why I haven't been talking about my, you know, running much lately

If you're astute, and I won't blame you if you're not, you may have noticed that I haven't posted any pictures or descriptions of my runs lately.

That's not entirely because I haven't been running, nor is it because of the monotony of the normal run.  Where I run outside along the Hudson River is surprisingly beautiful.

But I haven't been running outside lately.  It's the heat.  This has become my usual run:
Seeing this photo bores even me.  (And I've told you that I look beat to hell when I run!  Do you believe me now?)  Luckily Dateline was on that day - 10 tedious miles - and Keith Morrison is so inadvertently hilarious that it takes my mind off of most anything.  Other treadmill hits include: So You Think You Can Dance, Last Comic Standing, or NBC's Thursday night sitcom line-up.

Yeah, I'm ready for this heat to break.  You know, in late September.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Thoughts on the Runner's World "First or Fastest 10k" training program

Speaking of Runner's World...  As I've alluded to throughout the past few weeks, I recently participated in a free program cosponsored by Runner's World and the Foot Locker Run store.  It met twice a week, Mondays and Wednesdays, at 6:30pm in Central Park.

Now that the program is over, I thought I'd share some of my thoughts on it.  I truly, truly hope they do this program again.  The coaches were amazing, the workouts were well thought out, and the program was well organized and well executed.  We even got a free t-shirt!  (Sadly they were low on women's sizes and the shirt doesn't really fit me, but I still appreciate it.)

I can definitely say that I pushed myself and did speed and hill repeats that I wouldn't have otherwise.  Between the shaming of the coaches' presence (they were nothing but completely supportive, but I'm not used to having someone monitoring my workouts) and the variety of the workouts they offered, I did the speed and the hills and am a better runner for it.  The coaches gave us a pep talk before the run, telling us what to focus on.  The head coach was good.  I've been leery of being "coached" for naive reasons - "I've been doing this for a decade, how much more do I need to learn?" or, "It's running; it's intuitive."  I was wrong.  His advice was solid and gave me a lot to think about.

I also loved how respectful the coaches were of everyone's individual abilities.  They split us into Beginner v. Intermediate/Advanced, and they made a point of clarifying that this was an experience distinction and not a speed distinction.  So I got to feel like an advanced runner for once!  It felt nice.

My only problem with the coaches is that there weren't more of them.  Being slow as molasses was frustrating at points because there weren't other runners to run with me, and several of the workouts called for us to run some substantial mid-week distance (a half-mile warm up and then the 10k loop, for instance).  The group warm ups were usually done at about a 9 minute mile pace - just enough for me to hold on, but I would be wiped at the end of the warm up.  And then during the workouts, the difference between an 8 minute mile and my 10 minute miles added up to me finishing sometimes 15-20 minutes behind most of the group - and only having one person to run with some days, sadly.  Luckily the person I found to run with is pretty awesome, and I've kept in touch with her now that the program has ended.

Of course, I was out of town during the "goal" 10k race, so I can't measure the effectiveness of the program.  But overall, I liked it.  A lot.  And, I'll admit, I also like that tonight they're having a get together to celebrate the end of the program and offering each of us three free drinks.  As in, more than I can reasonably drink in one sitting these days.

Some alluring eye candy for you to take the edge off the summer heat: me at the start of the New Year's Eve Emerald Nuts Run, a miserably cold midnight experience.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

And this month's Runner's World BRINGS IT

So, I've been kind of off of Runner's World for the past few months.  Maybe it was my shiny new subscription to Running Times (actually not all that new), maybe it was the "Newbie Chronicles" (the author seems likeable, but I think it took that dude something like 6 months to run more than 2m at a time), or maybe it was the fact that their articles seem to repeat every few months.  But I've read it, dutifully, and not really gotten much out of it.

Until this month, when MAN!  So full of advice geared right for me!

Let's start with Ed Eyestone's "The Fast Lane" on p. 36.  Basically, he uses his experience training for the Olympic Trials to explain how you can lower your 5k and 10k time while simultaneously training for a marathon.

This echoes something my sister has been telling me.  I told her I wanted to bring my 5k time down, and she said, "Listen: higher mileage. Just run more," and then cut me off of gchat.  For some reason, I heard the same advice from Ed Eyestone and really listened.  Not that she's not accomplished, but she hasn't exactly run in the Olympic Trials yet.

To be fair, my sister took first female at a 6-hour "Fun Run" this past weekend.  Where she ran 35 miles in 95 degree heat.  And yes, a few of her regular training partners are going to try to meet the Olympic standard.  But I have to rag on her because, you know, she's my sister and all.  That's her on the right at her Saturday race.  Please refrain from stating that we look nothing alike; I know that.  And she actually looks less ripped in this photo than she is in real life.

Anyway, Eyestone's advice goes on, in short, to say that you can speed up for short distances while training for longer ones if you...
-run your long runs a touch faster,
-regularly do intervals at your shorter race paces with a 1:1 recovery,
-do strides to emulate speeding up at the end of races when you're tired, and
-run more miles.

Also geared right for me?  A Q&A about missing a week of running on p. 38. Answer: you're fine, and "Remember, rest is training".

I'm only halfway through the magazine - I've had to balance reading it against reading Pretty Little Liars so that I can stay ahead of the television show. because I'm busy working.  So possibly it's got EVEN MORE good advice!  I can't wait.

Random: Wikipedia tells me that Ed Eyestone was born in American Samoa.  Who knew?

Monday, July 19, 2010

I have a new obsession...

Check it out.  I'll wait, just go and check it out.

Finally, it's here: the black magic all marathoners dream of.

I have only just begun training, and yet this sorcerer's website can tell me that the weather on 7 November, 2010, in New York City, the day of the marathon, will be: high of 54, low of 46, with a chance of some light rain showers.  PERFECT.

Worried about Chicago?  Well, never fear.  If you believe the stats they've posted on their website, it's 83% likely that it will be high of 59, low of 38, partly cloudy and cool.  ALSO PERFECT.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Week in review: NYCM training week 2

Blaaaaaahhhhh.

  • Friday: driving from Seattle to Orcas Island and then stuck in pre-wedding festivities all day.
  • Saturday: snuck in a pre-wedding trail 4m
  • Sunday: nothing.
  • Monday: all day flight/sickness begins
  • Tuesday: sickness erupts
  • Wednesday: nothing.
  • Thursday: 3.5m on the treadmill.

Go figure, one of my stronger weeks is followed by a weaker week.  I'm rolling with it.

Also: I've added two races to my calendar.  I promise this will be it for the fall, though.  One is a 10k out on Governor's Island.  I've never been out there before, so I figured this was a good chance.

The other one, and you can start your laughing now, is a 150m dash - in heels.  Sponsored by Regis & Kelly.  I haven't worn heels in approximately 5 years, since I gave them up cold turkey after my fellowship at the Metropolitan Museum ended.  I even got rid of most of them.  I'll have to dig through the closet to find an old pair.  Evidently high-heeled running shoes have already been invented (and on sale, too, if you click through to the manufacturer's website! but please, don't wear them if we ever hang out), but the rules for this race specify no wedges.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Notes from the gym

-I can run more, and longer, with Britney Spears in the background.  I love that woman's music.  Except for "Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman."  How god awful.  But see the photo?  How far would I go if I were Britney - like, if her music makes me run further, would I just be able to sing myself into running ultras if I had her voice?  Mindblowing.

-Without fail, every single time I get on the treadmill and crank the incline to anything over 10%, there will within a few minutes be a girl on the treadmill immediately next to me doing the same.  I think girls at my gym are competitive.  This makes me laugh.

-I saw a gentleman, dressed in running clothes, take a treadmill diagonal from me a few days ago.  He got on the treadmill and stretched... and stretched... and stretched for about 10 minutes.  Everything about him said "serious runner," from the clothes to the build to the shoes.  He proceeded to start running, and I watched do his first couple of miles... at a 12 minute mile pace.  Just goes to show you: Tracy, you are judgmental.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Relax, relax, relax. Also, strides.

Since I was sick and don't have much to offer from this week's training, a few notes from week 1 of training (last week).

Last week saw my first attempt at strides, which were admittedly a pathetic attempt for a few reasons.  One, it was in the 90s when I was out running, so my run was pretty much going to fail to meet my expectations regardless.  Also, I realized a few key things: I don't have a good visual sense of how long 100m is, and I had no idea what pace to do the repeats at.

I mean "pace" in the relative sense.  I do wear my Garmin regularly, but I rarely look at it.  The pace jumps around too often to be consistent, and I much prefer to run by feel and consult it only for splits or my heart rate if I need it.

So I decided to do my strides by time rather than distance.  I aimed for somewhere around 35-40 seconds, which I figured would be close to or maybe slightly more than 100m.  But, after my first stride it became obvious that I was doing them too quickly.  My "recovery" in between strides (which I wasn't even sure how long it should be!) was instead a walk - partly weather induced, but partly because I was going out too fast.  Any runner knows how good it feels to run fast and to feel carefree and speedy, but this was much too close to my 800m repeat pace.  I had envisioned the strides as fitting into my run, rather than displacing it.  Still... it felt so good to run all out.  I hope that it was the impact of the heat that was killing my recovery.

When I got home, I tweeted something about strides and got back a response from a much, much more seasoned runner than I: the three most important words of any run or race are "relax, relax, relax."  So true, right?  I'll leave you with those words of wisdom for the day.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Some small changes

Wow, this past weekend was more of a wash than I expected.  Not only did I miss my long run for logistical reasons, but then by the middle of the day on Sunday I was down with a bad, bad cold.  Blah.  I'm... okay.  It sucks, but unless it gets worse I should be okay to run (it's only in my head, as in I'm congested).  I'm cool.  I'll add a few extra miles, I won't worry too much about the missed run, and (most importantly) I won't make missing my long runs a habit.

I officially emailed earlier this week and resigned from Pikes Peak.  My spot will go to someone on the wait list.  This race is on my lifetime list, but after Mount Washington nearly killed me, I realize that doing it this year is much too much.  I need to be stronger before I do it.  New York is my fall goal, and I can't afford to do such a hard race all half-assed and have it take me that far away from my goal.  Could I finish?  Probably.  Is it worth it?  Not this year.

Also?  I am racing too much.  I know this.  I know that it's wearing me out and that I've lost any thrill, at least with local races.  I've been using the excuses - and you've seen these, if you've read this before - that they're cheap, they're easy, I like running with other people...  but you know what else I like?  Racing.  I like running all out and knowing that I tried my hardest.  And I can't do that when I'm doing a race every weekend.  I went from not having anyone to run with earlier this year to group runs and races and crowding my schedule with less than ideal running experiences.  I want to get back into a groove of running, maybe with a partner, maybe by myself, a regular schedule.

Monday, July 12, 2010

And the training goes wrong (already)

Like I mentioned before, I was away this weekend for a wedding.  I brought with my running clothes, my water bottle, my will power, and a map of the local state park for Sunday's long run.  But, it was not to be.

The wedding was being held at the inn where we were staying, and the inn was not large enough to be sound proof.  So when the party was still raging at midnight, I was still up, mildly irritated.  (Yes, I am an old person who thinks that midnight is late.)

Then, the timing hit a snag.  We were planning to take the noon ferry, giving me more than enough time to do a ca. 2 hour run before showering, packing, and getting to the dock on time, right?  Nope.  Evidently places on the the ferry are highly competitive Sunday mornings, so we needed to leave the hotel NO later than 9:30.  I briefly contemplated getting up around 5 and trying to get the run in anyway, but the park I would run in doesn't open until 6:30am.

I'll do the long run tomorrow morning.  I'm not going to skip it, but I'm not going to be crazy obsessive about it, either.  (Today wasn't an option - my flight from SEA to JFK left at 6:30 this morning.)

However, I did a trail run on Saturday.  A gorgeous, gorgeous 4m loop circling a beautiful lake.  One of those runs that makes you swear off the treadmill for life because why would anyone ever run on that hamster wheel when they could be outside on a shaded trail tripping over roots and running hills and seeing snakes all next to a lake?

At the end of the run, I jumped in the lake (literally).  If there's one thing I'm not, it's spontaneous.  If there are two things I'm not, it's spontaneous, and a swimmer.  In fact, I took years of swimming lessons as a child at the YWCA and never moved beyond Guppy.  But it was a warm day and the water was clear and inviting.  We took off our shoes and our shirts and jumped in with our shorts and sports bras.  It was amazing.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Week in review/NYCM training

Ah ha, yes, ah ha, training has started! Have I mentioned that?

And I've celebrated by hopping a plane to Seattle for a wedding.  A wedding that I'm not looking forward to, because I'm evidently the only woman in my demographic who actually hates weddings.

So.  As promised, I'm going to lay out what I have so far in terms of my NYCM training.  Basically, my sister looked at my recent mileage and downgraded Pftizinger slightly for me.  We'll reassess in a few weeks to modify the plan again.  It's definitely a work in progress, so please feel free to offer advice.  You can click on it to make it larger and more readable.  A few notes: what's in red are either races or schedule modifications, and LTR are the NYRR sponsored training runs.

And now, what I actually did...
  • Friday:  Rest. (Well, that's a nice way of saying "woke up late.")
  • Saturday:  6 lovely miles along the water.
  • Sunday: 12m, also along the water.
  • Monday:  The program begins!  With a rest.
  • Tuesday: 4.3m with some strides toward the end.  The heat was intense and brutal and I went out too fast with the strides, meaning I had to walk in between.  Lousy.
  • Wednesday: 6.05m on the treadmill.  Oh, man, actually only 5.25m on the treadmill.  But I'm counting the .4m each way to the gym because I'm really annoyed that the gym closed before I could finish my 6m run (and I had to sprint to get the last .15m in on the 'mill).
  • Thursday: No running.  Early morning flight to Seattle instead.  (Well, flight to LAX and then on to Seattle, and then a ferry to an island near Canada.  I do have several hours in LAX, where I suppose I could do some exercise potentially.  But I've always found suggestions that one should run during a layover to be kind of weird, frankly.  Feel free to disagree, but I think my fellow passengers might not appreciate me getting on my next flight having just run and I don't think I have quite enough time to find a shower, too.)
28.35m.

Sunday's long run was an interesting one.  If you're curious, you can click through to my log (in the upper right on the main page of the blog) where you can see more details than you want to about my run: my mile splits, a map of where I ran, etc.  On one hand, we averaged a 12mm pace, which is slightly slower than I'm shooting for.  On the other hand, that was with the several generous walk breaks we took the liberty of taking, given that it was relentless sun with temps in the mid-80s (at 9am).  Our pace when running was pretty much spot-on 10:30-10:40, which is actually slightly faster than I'm shooting for.  Now, if I can only lessen my water breaks, I'll be on the right track.  It will be good to do another half again in a few weeks to see where I'm at in a race setting.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

NYCM training

Weekend vacation is long over.  Time to get down to business.  So how to train?

No schedule is perfect, but it's obviously key to have a schedule of some sort.  But at the same time, I'm not espousing any particular training philosophy at this point.  I want to run at least four days a week, possibly five, but I don't dare run six days (fear of injury).  I want to incorporate some speedwork, but I know that what I need most are pace/tempo/steady state runs - however, and importantly, the crucial key to a tempo run is knowing exactly what tempo to go out at.

And therein lies the problem.  I have my realistic "A" goal: under 5 hours.  I have my daydreamy "B" goal: beat my PR (4:43).  And I have my insane and impossible "C" goal: sub 4:30.  Putting aside C, I don't really have a good sense of what's possible for me right now.  My race times have been consistent in suggesting that A should happen easily.  Do I therefore shoot for B?  If so, do I shoot for a 4:40?  4:35?  I will get faster and stronger as I train.  That's the point of training, duh.  But I also know that you train for the marathon you're capable of, and training for something that's beyond my abilities is shooting myself in the foot from the get-go.

Cobbling together races I know I'll be doing between now and then, Pfitzinger's Advanced Marathoning plan, and using Hal Higdon's Int. II as a back-up (the Pftizinger plan is hard), I think my sister has drawn up a schedule of sorts that I'm going for.  But I'm very, very bad at following schedules.  So, later this week I'm going to lay out my schedule for you to critique/tweak/offer suggestions on, and on Fridays when I run down my week, I'll start with my planned runs and then move onto my actual runs.  Help me get to the starting line prepared, please?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Times is at it again

Remember last week, when the Times exposed that most studies of athletic performance are done on men? Well, they're at it again.  This time, it's our heart rates.

Basically, the old adage of 220-your age to calculate your max heart rate doesn't work for women.  Instead, the new study suggests, a better estimate is 206-.88(your age), or 206 minus 88% of your age.  For me, the old formula yields a max heart rate of 187.  The new formula yields 177.  This, then, has an impact on your heart rate when you work out (if you're trying to achieve goals like maintaining 85% of your max, for instance).

Interesting, but in my opinion ultimately not that useful.  Everyone is different and this guideline is (at best) a weak recommendation.  If you're wearing a heart rate monitor to exercise - which you probably will be, if you're one who pays attention to staying in your goal range of 85% - you probably have some idea of your typical heart rate range.  And if you're not wearing an HRM and you're exercising by feel, what does this change for you?

Or, as one of the doctors in the study says,
“Everyone kind of has their own natural pace,” Dr. Church says. “If you like to work a little harder, then work harder. If you like to work less hard but a little longer, then do that. Find what works for you.”
I do like the media focus on the physiological differences between men and women, but I also look forward to the day when even more scientific knowledge can be more readily personalized to each individual.  I'd love to know more about my metabolism, my VO2 max, my max heart rate.  At best right now I can only roughly estimate these things.

Does anyone else have Hilary Duff in their heads right now?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Giving myself a 4-day weekend!

We're suffering a pretty massive heat wave here in NYC these days.  But, I am not to be deterred.  Because...


TRAINING STARTS TODAY OMG I AM SO EXCITED YAYAYAY!!!

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be a teenager these days... to say things, earnestly, like "OMFG" or "ROTFL."  I may not have a particularly sophisticated command of English, but I can honestly say I've never used "LOL".

I don't have too much else to say today because I'm off running!  Yes, training technically started yesterday, but yesterday was a rest day.  So I'm starting my training today with an easy 4m + 10x100m strides.  I've never done strides before; isn't that weird?  Fartleks, occasionally.  Speedwork, sporadically.  Strides? Never.

In the meantime, if you're curious, a fellow runner recently ran a contest wherein she solicited "Why I Run" entries.  I entered; you can read mine in the middle of this posting here (it's my blood clot sob story again).  Or, if you're so inclined, you can just skip to here and vote for #34 (me).  I won't be disappointed if I don't win, so feel free to read all the essays for inspiration and vote with your heart if you're so inclined.  (She asked that they be 250 words or less, and I'm always amazed by people who can't follow directions!)

Enjoy a photo of a much younger me about to fall off of a camel until I have more about my training schedule for you tomorrow.

Monday, July 5, 2010

My own personal holiday

You know what today is, right?  Or rather, you know what today is 18 weeks minus one day away from, right?  The ING New York City Marathon!!!

Training kicks off today!  Yippee!

That said, I'm taking a holiday, and you should be, too.  So enjoy your day - run if you want, or rest if you want!  This is your day!  (After 6m on Saturday and 12m on Sunday, I'm resting.)

Here is some eye candy for your holiday.

First, the Hudson on Sunday morning:




Next, me post-run but pre-Starbucks, in front of the GWB.  You can barely see it, but the NJ side of the bridge is flying a giant American flag for the holiday.  Happy 4th!  I've said before - and I will say again and again - I AM NOT SOMEONE WHO LOOKS ALL GLOWING AND LOVELY AND FRESH WHEN I COME IN FROM A RUN.  I look wasted and red and sweaty and yucky.  But I had a great long run and I was happy.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Week in review

  • Friday: 4.5m recovery run.  Slow and easy to recover from crumminess at the race the night before.  Awesome - I needed that.
  • Saturday: rest from running, technically, although I did wake up embarrassingly hungover, which made my bike class and my ride of about 10m harder than it should be.
  • Sunday:  5m Achilles Hope & Possibility race
  • Monday:  Rest.  The Runner's World training program - my M/W workout - was doing cross-training in the peak heat (low 90s today, with crazy humidity).  I bailed.
  • Tuesday: 5.25m on the treadmill.
  • Wednesday:  Rest. Blew off the Runner's World group (again) because I was feeling completely drained.  Shame; it was the first nice day in a while.
  • Thursday:  5.9m.  Do you see that?  Five point NINE miles.  I was so tired, I didn't even have it in me to run to the corner and back to get to 6m.  Ah, well.

Total: 20.65m.  I don't know what's up with me, but I shouldn't feel this exhausted during a week when I took three rest days.  It was blazingly, disturbingly hot for much of the week, and I can never sleep with the air conditioner on.  Plus, I'm freaking exhausted from racing.  Not from the races themselves - my performance, ahem, shows that I haven't been racing them as strong as I could have.  But just from all of the effort involved in getting up early, getting to the start, standing around, etc., all to run 4 or 5m.  I need a break from racing, and maybe I'll be better at it once I restart!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

To protein, or not to protein?

An article from the New York Times: What exercise science doesn't know about women?

In brief, the article uses a specific study of cyclists - and how their performance in future workouts was affected by consuming protein (versus carbs) after a hard ride - to make the larger point that men and women are physiologically different in important ways that affect athletic performance.  And further, the article states, most studies of athletic performance use men as their test subjects.  This leads to results that are reported as blanket maxims for all athletes (including carbo-loading before long runs or ingesting protein immediately following a run).

Any woman, especially any woman who lives with (or has lived with/near) a man can tell you that men and women's metabolisms are vastly different.  So how does it affect our performance that that commonly issued exercise guidelines may not hold true for women?

Just please, please don't take my post-long run chocolate milk recovery drink away from me.