Saturday, December 20, 2014
Today would have been a long run of possibly 20 or 22 miles, but instead I registered for the Reindeer Run 5K. 5K isn't very far when the long runs are over 10 miles, but it's a fun race. You wear fake antlers, and mingle with both serious runners and not so serious runners. Proceeds go to support The Strong Museum of Play, and the awards are toy-themed trophies.
All week long I hadn't been in the mood for a race. I'd been doubting the wisdom of signing up. Maybe I just should have done that long training run instead. Along about Thursday, I realized that I never caught up on sleep from a late night on Monday. Slept late on my Friday off, and got to bed early on Friday. Sure enough, I woke before the alarm on Saturday, just like prepping for that early long run.
I had in mind that I'd do a long warmup, probably a preview of the race course. That would give me 6 miles on Saturday, and I could do a longish run on Sunday, keeping up the training for a half. It didn't play out that way.
First, there was the weather. We got freezing rain Thursday night. Friday morning my driveway was slick, though the roads were fine. The temperature never got above freezing on Friday or Friday night. I have some concern about ice on the route, particularly where it runs along the Genesee Riverway Trail.
Then there was opportunity. The routes for the long training run were in increments, 10-13-16-20-22 miles, with the first 10 being a loop I'd run before. This particular 10 mile loop has a piece that coincides with the start of the Reindeer Run route. Hmm.
Third, there are 400 free parking places at The Strong. Get there late, and you have to find other parking. I kind of know where I would, but I got there early and got one of the close, free places.
So I did the first part of my plan. I did a warmup of running the new race route. There was some ice on the sidewalk going over the Ford Street Bridge, but the race will be in the road. No big deal. Turn to get onto the Riverway Trail, and a pickup dispensing road salt turns onto the trail ahead of me. This is good news. That truck acted as a pace leader for me for a while, and I had to slow down to stay behind it until it got past the wiggly part of the trail. Then it suckered me into running a little faster before it got fast enough that it was obvious I wouldn't keep up.
I took note of where the inclines and declines were. "Uphill" and "downhill" would be too strong to describe this route, but there were inclines and declines. I took particular note of how long the tail end of the course was after it started looking like I was almost there. Having done that really helped me mentally the second time past.
After the warmup, I went inside. Snapped a selfie in the bathroom mirror to show the antlers:
And the iPhone battery died. It had been out in the cold too long, and I turned it on without properly warming the phone first. No charging cable with me, so the phone went back into my car. One less thing hanging from my belt as I run. Took a GU 20 minutes before the gun, on faith that I would need it later.
I prepared pretty well for this one. Lined up very near the front, took off too fast, adjusted to running about a 6:30 mile. Noted early that there was some sort of glitch when the Garmin started; it did not pick up the full time or distance. Oh, well. Just have to believe the chip time.
Ultimately, there was one guy in front of me that I wasn't going to catch. Had to run my own race, and did the best I could. My best turned out to be a PR for a 5K, at 20:02.8 chip time, 20:03.9 gun time. As it turned out, even though I beat last year's gun time by 14 seconds, this year it was only good enough for second in the age group. That guy I couldn't catch finished 7 seconds ahead of me and turned out to be another 58 year old.
On the plus side, there was still a trophy with a toy I recognized when it was my turn to pick:
After the awards ceremony, I was still feeling pretty good. So I decided to run that 10 mile loop, and get about 16 miles for the day. Stopped at the running store where the loop was supposed to start, because by then I needed their restrooms, then ran back to my car. Garmin recorded the day in 4 chunks: 3.32 mile warmup, 3.01 mile race, 8.39 mile long part of the loop, 2.08 mile back to the car, total 16.80 miles. There was almost certainly another 0.2 mile between the mis-recorded race and the parking lot run to the restroom after I stopped the watch at the last light before the running store. Call it a 17 mile running day. Didn't get the 20 miler in, but 5K of the miles were race pace, at an average pace of 6:28. I worked hard enough for those miles.
That puts me right at a normal number of miles for the training week, and I can just run my normal easy 5 or 6 miles tomorrow.
Reflections: My attitude towards a 5K has changed. A year ago, I would have regarded the race as my run, and lived with short mileage. Since then, I've been through half marathon training. The concept there is, if you have a race you make up the extra miles the plan calls for either before or after the race, or some of each.
This was a race where the plan went as expected. Long warmup, to prepare for running a short race fast. Preview of the course, to prepare mentally for running it under race conditions. It all came together for a very good race, except for the fact that there was someone faster in my age group. That just goes to prove the adage that age group results are highly dependent on who shows up.
The final posted results showed 1521 people finishing ahead of a one hour cutoff on chip time. I feel pretty good about finishing 38th out of 1521, even if there were a lot of inexperienced, casual, and social runners participating in this particular 5K. There were also enough serious runners to make it interesting.
I like the new course better than last year's course. I hope they keep it for next year.
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Today was the departmental holiday lunch at work. This fall, my employer shut down the building I had worked in for 23 years, sending my department to two separate locations. The lunch was at the other location, a 50 mile round trip. I knew in advance that I would not get my walk in at lunch today.
Three years ago, as a newly minted maintainer, the departmental holiday lunch was a concern. What was it like? (Digs through old blogs . . . ) Oh, my. Three years ago, the departmental holiday lunch was a disaster with the day weighing in at 5749 calories:
This year looked different. I've been running, and working on expanding my long runs. I hit the bottom end of my maintenance range on Monday morning, after running 13.5 miles on Saturday and 10.7 miles on Sunday. That's temporary, and this morning I was up from there; but I was still a pound below my target center weight. Adding calories to my normal range was a consideration. I decided not to, because soon it will be taper time for the January 10 half, and today was the departmental holiday lunch. Instead of increasing my regular calories, I gave myself permission to enjoy myself at lunch and go over calories for the day, possibly by a lot.
So . . . I ate far more than normal at lunch. I had three slices of pizza, when two should have been enough. I had um, too many cookies and too many pieces of chocolate. Made my estimates of how many, since I didn't really count while eating them, and tracked after the fact. Lunch came in about 1000 calories higher than a normal workday lunch.
OTOH, most of my normal workday snacks remained unconsumed. I ate my carrots and half my normal hard candies.
After work, I could have come home and just had a salad. I opted instead to pretend it was a normal work day, eat my normal post-work dinner at Taco Bell, and have my normal evening snack, absent any extra calories that I would usually add to make it up to my minimum calorie requirement.
The total for the day came in at 3,643 calories. That's a big number, but right now the bottom of my range is 3,000. So it's only about 600 calories more than I would have eaten on a non-running day without a holiday lunch. And it's still over 2,000 calories below the 2011 holiday lunch disaster.
What's different? First, I have a lot less stress at work than I did three years ago. Part of that is the workload is less crazy, but a big part is that I'm managing what craziness there is better. Running helps. Sad to say, being three years closer to retirement helps. And three years of being in maintenance and dealing with making my weight trend sideways helps a great deal.
The food side wasn't too bad, but I'm more proud of dealing with the exercise side. With this being a work at the office day, and no lunch walk, I knew in advance I would be light on steps today. I simply planned to walk 3 miles in the evening, and I did. Got my step goal in, and not much above it. That's good, for a rest day.
The other thing is, I have a goal of getting some quad and kettlebell work in on non-running days. I've been doing squats in the morning, then TGUs and KB snatches after work. Looking ahead to how today would be, I reversed that. Skipped my daily calf raises on the step in favor of getting the TGUs and snatches in before work. I reasoned that the squats required less energy, and it would be easier to get myself to do them after this particular work day. And it was so. After my 3 mile walk and barely making my step goal, I really felt like winding down. But I had enough energy to get myself to start that first set of squats, then force of habit took me through the other three sets. I even advance in weight, to 70 lbs. from 63 lbs. (That's a 45 lb. KB in one hand and a 25 lb. KB in the other. Alternating hands on the unbalanced weight makes me want to do an even number of sets, hence four instead of three.)
The scale will likely read higher tomorrow. That's okay, I have room for it to read a bit higher. Tomorrow is also a holiday lunch for the building I work in; but I'm taking it as my normal work at home Thursday. When co-workers ask me, I tell them that two days of holiday lunch in a row is excessive. As I left today, I told a co-worker there's a reason it's called a holi-DAY and not a holi-MONTH.
The rest of the holiday season should be pretty easy on the nutrition front. I have three working days left this year, only one of them in the office. There will be a Christmas Tea at church on Sunday, but that won't be a serious challenge to my self control. Taper toward the half on January 10 will start on Saturday, December 27, and I'll be in a familiar environment of monitor my weight and adjust the nutrition range accordingly. I can do that.
Right now, I'm still a bit shocked at how little I was over the top on food today. I gave myself permission to go over, and I really expected to go further over than I did. But I feel much better than I would if I had stuffed myself.
Perhaps I've had some long term habits change. I still don't trust myself to maintain without tracking, but perhaps I will be able to do that some day.
Life is good.
Saturday, December 13, 2014
Today's long run options were 10, 12, or 20 miles. When the routes came out, I didn't like the way they were laid out. The first 10 miles ended with a spiral around some blocks near downtown, with plenty of options to bail early and cut some distance. The 12 and 20 options started on the same path, with the 12 turning left and going back early while the 20 went on to a different route with only one opportunity to cut a couple of miles, with a choice having to be made about mile 14. It would have been better for me to have the second 10 miles first, with the opportunities to bail early from the first 10 coming after mile 15 when I might need to bail.
Seeing that the routes included a lot of minor streets in the city, and looking at the snow that fell on Wednesday and Thursday, I decided that wearing trail shoes would be prudent. Got up this morning, and found a light coating of new snow on my driveway. If I hadn't already decided on trail shoes, that would have made the decision easy.
Today enough people showed up to be called a pace group. There were the pace leader, New Guy, and two guys who run multiple marathons per year, plus me. Most of us were generally familiar with the streets we would be running, and there would be no surprises in the route. The first six miles or so were pretty routine winter running, with typical issues of narrowed shoulders and being aware of drivers who might not be aware of runners. No big deal.
The next four miles, with that rectangular spiral pattern, were mostly on minor roads. There was packed snow or slush almost to the point of being packed snow on most of the roads. Some of the sidewalks had been cleared, but there was that coating of fresh snow and there were many places where plowed driveways or streets created little hills of snow to cross on the sidewalk.
Some places, it was better running on the sidewalk than in the street. Other places, it was hard to choose which was better. We did the best we could, and finished our 10 miles. The last 4 miles were almost like trail running, or so said various people who run more trails than I do. The pace leader's standard comment for conditions like that is, "My legs are doing 8, but my body isn't moving that fast." It was interesting, and we stayed close to the target 8:30 pace for the 10 miles.
The pace leader was done for the morning, because he woudl be running a 5K at 4:40 PM. The two marathon guys were going on for another two miles. I took a rest room break, then came out to run the extra two miles, having decided that 10 more was too much to attempt given the effort involved with the snowy 4 miles. New Guy decided to come with me.
A half mile into the extra 2, New Guy bailed. He was having calf issues, probably from running the snowy route, and decided to walk/run back to the store. I went on alone. Got to the turn to a pedestrian bridge I'm not fond of, thought about 2 miles hardly being worth the effort of re-starting, and chose to run a different standard route that started the same. That gave me 3.5 miles, including some familiar hills. Part of that turned out to be snow like the last part of the first 10, only with hills. That was interesting, but not terribly long.
Final numbers: 10.23 miles with the group in 1:25:04, for an average pace of 8:31 per mile. 3.50 miles solo in 29:18, for an average pace of 8:22 per mile. Mile 3 of the solo run was a 7:53 split, but it was all downhill. Other than that, every split was over 8. That's good for pace control, but the conditions meant is was more effort than an 8:15 or so pace would be on clear roads for the same route. It was probably more effort than an 8:00 pace would have been on clear roads.
Thoughts that went through my head on my last three miles included a lot of what I blogged yesterday. New Guy seems to be in the learning curve for listening to his body. He knew he had a problem at a half mile, but he didn't know enough to not start the second part of the run. I hope he learns without having anything drastic happen to him. He reminds me of myself 10 or 11 months ago. For my part, the decision not to attempt 20 miles was pretty easy. It would have been a harder decision with clear roads, but the road conditions made it clearly unwise to try that distance, particularly solo with no good options to bail early. In hindsight, I might have redesigned the route to run 5 instead of 3.5; but I ran far enough. I have no regrets.
Got back to the store, and the pace leader was still hanging around. We had a pleasant chat. He had the same concerns I did about New Guy, plus some other concerns about things I hadn't been watching. But that wasn't the most unsettling thing he said.
"You're ready for Buffalo. Just do the pace pass for next session, and train 2 other days a week, and you'll be fine. I know you wanted to do Rochester as your first, but you can't because of the Four Seasons Challenge."
Say what? Last week, I ran 18 miles. "A marathon is only 8 more miles." Yeah, but I didn't have 8 more miles. I didn't even have 2 more miles in me last week. I showed him the splits from last week. "You run different when you know it's 26. When I run a half, I can't go on to run 14 miles. But when I know it's a marathon, it's no problem running another 13 after the first half. You just slow down that extra half minute [per mile] and you'll be fine."
Hmm. This would require some planning, and some changes to what I will do from January through April. I can't train for a marathon and do volunteer tax work. There aren't enough hours in the week. And I would have to learn to *travel* to a distance race at the same time I'm running my first marathon. I'd be more comfortable learning to travel to a half, but there won't be any half marathons to travel to that would fit into my running schedule between now and May 24. And it would be rather pointless to just register for the Buffalo half in addition to the four local half marathons I have in 2015.
I'll have to think about the Buffalo Marathon, but I don't have all that long to think. If I don't decide to go for Buffalo by the end of December, I will by default have decided to pass on it.
Friday, December 12, 2014
Yesterday Robert (ON2VICTORY) posted something on Facebook that I wanted to respond to in more length than the Facebook format easily allows. Today he kindly reposted it as a blog on SparkPeople:
This is a cautionary tale, a result I hope to avoid. I don't think I push myself as hard as Robert tends to push himself, but I have pushed myself hard enough to get on the disabled list three summers in a row. One quirky result of this is that while I know a great deal about how to run in the winter, I'm a novice at running in hot weather.
I aspire to learn how to run in hot weather in the summer of 2015. To do that, I need to stay healthy. The common advice, repeated by medical professionals, trainers, and experienced distance runners, is to "listen to your body." That's a great sound bite, but not so easy to learn.
Robert doesn't mention listening to your body, but he does provide a good description of the results of not listening to your body: "The best piece of advice I can give anyone here is you only have one body and us distance junkies have a bad reputation for training through pain because we have learned early on that progress happens at the end of our comfort zone. So we dose up on Ibuprofen and keep going. We fret over missing runs, obsess over bigger numbers, and push hard until we are clutching the railing just to make it up or down stairs. "
That's a bit more extreme than I've been, but I can see myself in the description. Yes, I've dosed up on ibuprofen in the mistaken belief that it would aid healing. Later, my podiatrist told me it did not help and could hurt the healing of my stress fracture. I haven't taken any ibuprofen since learning that.
I have a problem with the word, "pain." I don't know what level of sensation qualifies as pain as opposed to a lesser label such as ache or discomfort. Here, Robert is helping me out. I don't want to get to the point where I have to clutch the rail just to make it up or down the stairs.
Then Robert says something else that I can relate to: "We often make the mistake of thinking that just because it doesn't hurt, we have recovered enough. We fail to realize that tendons and joint inflammation doesn't go away after a rest day and that is if we actually took a real rest day. Often we satisfy our compulsiveness by filling rest days with alternate cardio believing that rest is a four letter word."
Been there, done that. Didn't like the results, and I'm trying not to do that any more. The most recent red flag was the week I did a Fitbit step challenge. I learned that there is such a thing as taking too many steps on my non-running days. Now, I'm okay with hovering just above my minimum step goal, and having most of those steps be easy steps on a non-running day.
I've mostly learned to pay attention to my feet. They are my weakest point, and where I have been repeatedly injured. But recently, the podiatrist put my in some support straps in addition to inserts. That has resulted in no dangerous foot twinges, and allowed me to run 18 miles last Saturday.
An interesting thing is happening now. My feet are not always the limiting factor on how much I can run. I've had sore quads, and minor soreness in my calves. This is not dangerous, hurting soreness; it's more like training, DOMS-type soreness. But I've been listening to it, and trying to figure out what to do about it. For the calves, a little bit more stretching in addition to the calf raises I've been doing anyway seems to be enough. For the quads, more stretching when they're sore, plus adding some lower body strength training on non-running days seems to be helping.
I think I'm doing a better job of listening to my body than I did when I first started consciously trying to listen. The messages are still obscure at times, but I'm getting better at deciphering them. When I am always trying to listen to my body, some of the things I might have missed become actionable items. That is how I hope to avoid needing that rail to traverse the stairs.
An odd thing happens when I pay attention. This week, I noticed that my body was soaking up more sleep than it had been. I'm not sick; but I did run those 18 miles 6 days ago. I have advanced in weight on the kettlebell exercises I added back a couple weeks ago. I tentatively conclude my body is telling me it needs that extra sleep to repair/rebuild the muscles that I've worked pretty hard. Okay, I can live with that. I'll give the body the extra sleep.
That's where I am right now. I run 4 days a week. The other three days, I do some squats, Turkish getups, and kettlebell snatches. On the non-running days, I walk; but I don't obsess about walking fast. I walk at whatever pace is comfortable, and deliberately refrain from measuring how fast that pace is.
Still, I know myself to a certain extent. It is always possible that Mr. Testosterone could talk me into doing more than I should. I may be better at ignoring him when I need to than I was, but I still need to pay attention. So I worry about whether I am attempting more than I should. But as long as I feel healthy, and the body isn't telling me something is odd, I still attempt new distances.
I still want to run a marathon. I don't yet know when that will happen, or necessarily what marathon will be my first. I do know I have a lot to learn to be ready for marathon distance in a race environment. For now, I'm trying to learn what I can while listening to my body and avoiding injury.
I hope I can pull off the balancing act of expanding my capabilities while not going so far out of my comfort zone as to cause problems. Robert very eloquently describes what happens if I get this wrong. It's worth the effort to avoid that result.
Saturday, December 06, 2014
Today is Saturday, a day for a group run. At 7:30 AM it was 37° with light rain and negligible wind. The forecast was for these conditions to persist for 3 to 4 hours. This is better running weather than walking weather, and much better running weather than standing around weather.
I run with a pace group that is attached to a half and full marathon training program. I never know till I get there who will show up. Today, there was the pace leader; the running buddy who pushed me to his marathon pace the week the pace leader wasn't there; and one other guy I've run with a few times. Everyone there was doing their own program, and just following the routes provided for the group training programs.
Today's routes offered 9, 12, 18, or 20 miles. I had decided I was going to run 18 or 20 miles, depending on how the run went. This would be a new PR distance for me; my previous longest single session run was 16.6 miles.
The first 12 miles were a pleasant group run, with the typical conversation. The other two guys had run marathons fairly recently that qualified them for Boston, and were happy about that. Because they have already qualified, they regard the other marathons on their schedule as just for fun.
I had to ask. My running buddy needed to run a marathon in 3:30 to qualify for Boston. He ran one in 3:25. The whisper mill says the real qualifying time will be 45 seconds faster than the nominal time, because there are a finite number of spots and qualifying times will be shaved to limit the field. My buddy felt good about making the cut, because he has over 4 minutes to spare between his time and the whisper number.
After 12 miles, I broke for a rest room stop. The pace leader was done, because this is his off season and he's just keeping in shape. The two other guys have nothing to prove. Their plan is to keep up runs like this, run the Winter Warrior Half, then plan for their next marathon.
I aspire to run a marathon. Even though I don't have one scheduled, I'm using this training cycle to see what happens when I stretch to marathon training distances. So I set out to run the rest of the route. This involved traversing some of the same roads a second time.
One thing I noticed was a hill that I had been told was tough. The first time it was no big deal. The second time past, at around 15 miles, I felt what the guys had been talking about. Looked at my watch. Oops, I need to slow down. That happened several times. It's easier to hold pace when there's a pace leader than when I'm running solo.
Along about mile 16 or so, as I started a long uphill stretch, I decided it wasn't a day to stretch the run to 20 miles. 18 would still be a new long distance for me. Got to the turn to cut it off at 18, and took the turn. I don't know whether I had two more miles in my legs today, but prudence dictated that I not test it. When I stopped running, my legs were very heavy for the walking cool down. I think I made the right call there.
After I was done, I was sure I ran the last 6 miles too fast. But there was nothing to do about it at that point. It was still raining, so I came home to strip off the wet running clothes, stretch, and ice my feet.
Checking the stats later, I did better than I initially thought. The total run was 18.03 miles in 2:29:29.4, for an average pace of 8:17 per mile. This included perhaps a bit over 2 minutes for the restroom break, but probably did not average below 8 for moving time.
Mile splits, with the pace group: 8:36, 8:19, 8:13, 8:11, 7:55, 8:12, 8:09, 8:12, 8:24, 8:18, 8:18, 8:13, 8:17. Mile splits, solo: 10:05 (including the rest room break), 7:54, 8:23 (including two brief stops to adjust my reflective harness and to pull out the third GU), 8:00, 8:00, 7:56. I was probably average right around 8:00 moving time, solo. That's faster than I should have been running on a long run, but not a disaster.
Body part inventory: My left foot, the one that had the stress fracture, feels totally normal. The arthritis in my right foot bothered me a little, but really no more than after any routine 5 mile run. About mile 14, my left quad barked a bit on a downhill; it got better, and it's quiet now. I'm pretty sure that two weeks of squats and kettlebells on the off days helped there. The post-run general stiffness in my legs worked itself out as I puttered around the house doing laundry and other normal household weekend chores.
I don't think I was ready to run 20 miles today. But I can see the day coming when I will be able to do that. Running a marathon seems quite possible. Now the question is whether I stick to my original plan of pointing at the 2016 Rochester Marathon, or if I find another marathon to run in 2015. Hmm. At least I have a decent pace group program to run with while I think about that.
Life is good.
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