Category Archives: Training

Cadence of LSR LSD 16 mile terrible run

Last (Terrible) Long Run Before Chicago

Cadence of LSR LSD 16 mile terrible run

As you can see, I stopped to walk almost every 1/4 mile. Just horrible.

Today I covered 16 miles – my last long run before Chicago in 2 weeks.  I realize 16 miles is not really long enough for my longest run, nor is 2 weeks long enough for a taper, but I’m still operating with injury, so I’m just crossing my fingers for a finish in Chicago.

 

I hope both of my race theories are correct, because today’s long run was so miserably horrible I don’t even know what to say.  There was a never a moment during the entire 16 miles (which took 3 1/2 hours, mind you, which means I’ll be running just ahead of the sag wagon cutoff of 6 1/2 hours in Chicago) that I was happy to be running.  It was a beautiful day outside (sunny and low 80s) and all I could think about was how I hated this warm weather.  I never seemed able to catch my breath, and I sweat so much I was almost instantly covered in gritty salt crystals that I felt grind into my skin every time I brushed the sweat away.  The entire endeavor was an exercise in sheer willpower, and left me totally drained for the rest of the day, so I haven’t done anything besides order in delivery (too tired to grocery shop and I don’t have anything fresh since I haven’t been home for 1.5 weeks) and sorta watch TV while aimlessly reading the interwebs.

 

It’s rare when running seems like such a slog (especially on a beautiful day), but sometimes it does, and I think it’s part of running to recognize those moments when you just can’t enjoy being out there.  Sometimes we have bad days and bad runs and that’s ok.  I’m just hoping my aches and pains don’t get worse and I’ll be able to rest and recover now that I’m back home from Washington.  I promise to post the Blerch recap tomorrow – I just don’t have it in me today.

 

What do you do when you have a really bad run?  Are you enjoying this warm weather or do you wish fall would get here already?  Does the fact that my ivy plant bloomed while I was gone mean anything?  Share in the comments!

Run & Chug NYC Fun Run mascot

Run & Chug

Run & Chug NYC Fun Run mascot

The Run & Chug mascot – and yet somehow I was intimidated by this group.

After over a year of lurking, last night I finally went to my first “Run & Chug” meetup.  Hosted by NYC Fun Run, a meetup.com group for runners, Run & Chug happens every Wednesday at a different bar in the city.  Runners meet at the bar, go for a run along a pre-marked route (although you don’t have to run the exact route, all of the route, or run at all), then meet back at the bar for drinking and socializing while sweaty.

 

I’ve made a lot of excuses for never meeting up with this group, usually related to my injuries but also because of the hassle of actually going to the meetup location (instead of just walking out the door and into the park), and because of my fear that the other runners would make me feel slow and fat and lame.  Luckily, there was zero judgment about pace or distance or anything related to running and everyone was very welcoming.  There were runners who were super serious and fast, others who had just started running, and even some who didn’t run at all that night and just came for a drink.

 

Overall, it was a beautiful night, I had a surprisingly good run along the river, and I met a bunch of great people.  The bar even had grapefruit beer, of which I’ve been obsessed with since having it for the first time at Hessen Haus in Des Moines, Iowa, this summer.  The can of beer (UFO Big Squeeze Shandy) wasn’t quite as good as the draft at Hessen Haus (Stiegl Radler Grapefruit), but it was still damn delightful.  I’ll be going to next Wednesday’s Run & Chug and crossing my fingers that that bar will have a grapefruit beer as well.

 

In injury news, my plantar fasciitis flared up a bit last night, but it seems ok today, and I’ll be sure to baby my foot until Saturday’s Pizza Run.  How excited am I for the Pizza Run?  Way too excited.  Irrationally excited.  Pizza excited.

 

Have you ever gone to other meetup.com group meetings?  Have you ever had grapefruit beer?  Do you think pizza and grapefruit beer would go well together?  Share in the comments!

Good run bad run

Race Theory #2 – Good Race, Bad Race

Good run bad run

At least this ends on a happy note.

Yesterday I shared with you my Race Theory #1.  Today I share with you my second race theory – that races (or significant runs) alternate between good and bad.  That is, if you have a really good race or long training run, your next race or run will be bad, and vice versa.

 

The theory seems to be intuitive in the sense that if you push hard during a run, by going fast or long or both, your next effort might not be as successful since you’re still recovering.  But I’ve found that it goes beyond what it should in terms of recovery.  If I have a really lame last long run before a marathon, even with a three-week taper afterwards, the marathon will go more smoothly than when my last long run is perfect.  It seems to be true whether the reason for my lame run is due to heat or digestive issues or something more serious like injury or fitness.

 

One reason I might feel like I cycle good-bad is that simply having this theory will make me notice these things, but I also think it’s because I have a very short-term memory for running.  If I have a bad, hard run, the next run will seem easy and good by comparison.  Then for the next run I’ll only remember that good run and I’ll feel like this particular run is a real slog, and why can’t I seem to ever catch my breath?  Then the next run I’ll expect to feel like an overheated sloth, but it’s actually not so bad, actually this is really great, this is why I run!  And then the next run I’ll head out all cheery until I’m faced with the specter of death after only half a mile and jesus why is this so hard and does the air feel extra heavy today?  Wash, rinse, repeat.

 

I shared this theory with a couple friends several months ago, and I think I’ve almost semi-convinced them of this good race/bad race theory.  Now we’re all looking to tank a run or race before our next big effort, and tanking a run is something at which I’m pretty expert.  My heartburn run this past weekend is clearly preparing me for the Pizza Run this Saturday, and I’m sure to have an extra-Blerchy run before Beat the Blerch.  What sort of terrible run will I have before Chicago?  Or does all of 2014 count?

 

Do you have any race theories?  Will you be watching the Men’s Final of the US Open tonight?  Are you still enjoying the Song of the Summer “Fancy” in September?  Share in the comments!

6 8 13 16 26.2

Race Theory #1 – 2, 4, 6, 8, What Do We Appreciate? Running!

6 8 13 16 26.2

Logic.

I have a couple of weird race theories (literally two).  The first concerns the distance I need to be able to run to be able to finish a marathon.  It goes:  If I can run 6 miles, I can run 8.  If I can run 8, I can run 13.  If I can run 13, I can run 16.  And if I can run 16, I can finish a marathon.  Using the transitive property I learned in high school math, one can conclude that if I can run 6 miles I can run a marathon.

 

Ok, I don’t really believe that.  But I do feel like if I simply hit those target numbers in-between (8, 13, 16), I can finish a full marathon.  Emphasis on finish, since I’m not talking about speed or time goals or anything.  I never aim to only hit those numbers, and I don’t think I’ve ever actually only hit those numbers (e.g., I don’t think I’ve ever only done 4 weeks of training for a marathon), but those are my psychological milestones.  Eighteen miles is definitely the icing on the cake, but I don’t know if I’ll be hitting 18 this time, and I’ve run a couple of marathons without ever hitting 18 (but hitting 16 more than once).

 

Last week (actually this Tuesday morning) I ran 8 of the slowest, sweatiest miles of my life.  Today I ran 10 miles, almost as slowly but not as agonizingly hot.  That means that I think finishing the half at Beat the Blerch should be completely do-able, and Chicago is looking pretty good (knock wood).  Luckily, the next race on my book is the Pizza Run this Saturday, in which you run about 2 miles and eat 3 slices of pizza – my kind of race.  Unluckily, I suffered from some serious heartburn during my run today, which was really strange because I didn’t eat anything particularly unusual beforehand (multiple ice cream treats and chocolates is not unusual, ok?), and I never, ever get heartburn, so maybe it was just my body getting me ready for any potential problems at the Pizza Run.  I better practice eating pizza this week just in case.

 

 

I’ll share my second race theory tomorrow.

 

 

As always, never base your training on my terrible example, unless you’re using it as what not to do.  At any rate, how’s your training/recovery going?  Do you think we’ve reached the pinnacle of reality dating TV shows this summer?  Are you disturbed that the hottest weather we’ve gotten this year has been in September?  Share in the comments!

50 States Marathon Club hat and countdown shirt

Race Shirts, 50 States Gear, & Haircuts

50 States Marathon Club hat and countdown shirt

My 50 States Marathon Club gear arrived!

Last night was “wear your race shirt to class” night at NYRR’s running class.  Well, not really, but it seemed like over half of the room was wearing some type of race shirt, from last weekend’s 10K in Central Park to Hamptons Marathon shirts, it was like a fashion show for race sponsors.

 

I had to make a tough decision last night – Continue reading

so many cupcakes

I Just Ran/Walked 13.7 Miles & Now I’m Gonna Go Die

so many cupcakes

This is all and everything I want.

The last several weeks have been going as well as can be hoped.  I haven’t suffered terribly from my recurring knee injuries and I’ve been steadily increasing my long runs with a goal of hitting one 18-miler before the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon.  But I have been slow.  Like, really slow.  Super-duper slow.  At this rate, not only will I not be a flying pig, I’ll barely be a trotting one.

 

I always feel sluggish during the first 2 miles of any run, but recently I feel like I hit “The Wall” at mile 6 or sooner.  After just a few miles, I want to stop, have a nice lie-down, and eat cupcakes.  And I don’t feel like I should be so slow.  I’m getting rest, I’m hydrating, fueling, and training more regularly than I have in months.  Yet each long run feels more difficult than the last few miles of a marathon.  I walked so many long stretches during my LSD run today I have to call it a run/walk, and I couldn’t even bring myself to cover the last .3 miles to officially hit the 14 I was aiming for.

 

I did miss the last two NYRR classes because of volunteer activities, and moved my long run to today (Thursday) because it’s supposed to rain tomorrow and I’m volunteering all day Saturday and assume I will be tired on Sunday.  So yes, I pushed my long run a few days early, but it’s not like my other runs have been much better.  This endless “wall” hitting is perplexing.

 

But the big news is that the Central Park water fountains are ON!!!  Fresh, free NYC water, available for a limited time only.  Get yours while it lasts!  (I hear it goes well with cupcakes.)

 

Have you ever had weeks of sluggish running?  Are you going to partake of the Central Park water fountains or do you think they’re gross?  Do you have any cupcakes?  Share in the comments!

First Day of NYRR Running Class

Central Park at dusk in March 2014

I had my first NYRR running class tonight and it was excellent.  I was so nervous beforehand, kinda dreading it all day, and then feeling like an awkward teenager waiting for the class to start – I was the new kid left out of the groups that already knew each other from previous classes or friendships.  But then Shelly Glover led us through some stretching and gave us a pep talk.  It’s a ten-week class (meeting every Tuesday night) with the basic goal of making you a faster runner.  Coach Glover encouraged us to pick an appropriate pace group and not one that is too slow, as we should be challenged in the class (and that’s what we’re paying for).  She said she’ll be picking people out and bumping them into the faster group as they progress, and your response to that should be, “Thank you, Coach!” said with enthusiasm, as that means you are now a faster runner.

 

We jogged into Central Park and split into pace groups according to our race pace for a 4-mile race.  I joined the 10:00 to 10:20 group (guessing as to my pace, since I don’t really know at this point), and it turned out to be the perfect pace group for me, as I was continually challenged to keep up but didn’t fall too far behind, either.

 

We ran two 1-mile repeats, first downhill, then uphill, at about an 8:45 minute pace, give or take a few seconds.  It was exhilarating to run that fast after running 10:30+ miles for the last many months.  On the run home my endorphins must have kicked in, because I felt on top of the world. I feel so thankful to be (relatively) healthy enough to run again, and so excited for the spring (it was still dusk when I was heading home!) .  This is one of those random high-points of running, and I’ve had enough low points to savor every moment of it.

 

Also, I freaking love my Garmin 620 watch, and I promise to post more about it later.  Did you run the NYC Half this past weekend?  Any races you’re planning in the next few weeks?  Share in the comments!

New Garmin 620 & Weekend at Mount Snow

20140224-123645.jpg

This picture sums up the overall ambiance of the Snow Lake Lodge at Mount Snow, Vermont.

Just got back from a fun, non-running weekend at Mount Snow, Vermont. Although the hotel at which we stayed (pictured above) was less than luxurious, my friend and I met a lot of great people and I did not injure myself with my terrible snowboarding, so overall the weekend was a solid win.

 

Today I went for a 5-mile “long” run in Central Park with my new Garmin 620 (!!), and despite some worrisome knee pain that cropped up after a walk break at mile 2.5, I managed to finish the lower loop without much problem and with a big smile on my face by the end.  It was so nice to be outside in the sunshine, running in my favorite park, especially after such a long absence.  I’m stretching and knocking on wood that I’ll feel ok the rest of the week, and that I’ll manage to pull off the seemingly impossible this weekend and finish the Little Rock Marathon despite persistent injuries & essentially zero training (13 total miles logged in the last 9 weeks, including today’s 5 miles).

 

More on the Garmin 620 later, but my first impression is super positive.  It found the satellites almost instantly (astonishingly faster than my old Garmin 110, which didn’t start tracking me until over 1/3 of a mile had passed) and its touchscreen was very responsive (with or without my gloves).  I look forward to learning more about its features and live-tracking abilities.  If you’d like to learn more about the Garmin 620 or 220, check out this crazily detailed review here.

 

Were you also in Vermont this past weekend?  Are you enjoying the brief break from the Polar Vortex?  Are you interested in a gently used, perfectly functional Garmin 110?  Share in the comments!

First Run in Over a Month!

Slush in NYC

That’s all slushy water at that crosswalk. Deep and delicious.

Today I went for my first run in over a month (breaking my “opposite run streak,” as it were).  It was only 2 miles, but it felt ok, so I’m pretty sure my marathon in a little over a week will be no problem.

 

Ok, not really.  The idea of going to Little Rock and covering 26.2 miles under my own power sounds insane.  After terrible pain after a short run in mid-January, I wanted to take some time off, but I didn’t think it would be this long, and I didn’t think I wouldn’t run a single step during my long trip out west.  I also didn’t think I’d gain even more weight during the cruise… Ok, I thought that was definitely possible, but those 3 extra pounds on top of the 10 extra pounds I’m already carrying do not fit into my marathon plans, much less my pants.

 

Luckily, I wear tights, not pants, when I run.  When I got back to NYC, I kept waiting for it to warm up enough so I could run outside and not crack my tailbone on black ice, or drown in a river of slush dammed up by mountains of dirty snow.  Today it finally hit 40, and after a rainy morning I headed out to Central Park.  I was about to run the carriage trail to the reservoir when I saw it was still fully covered in slushy white snow.  (I don’t know why I was expecting it to be clear.)  Instead of soaking my feet I ran the short, paved lower loop of the park.  Not surprisingly, it felt like I hadn’t run in over a month.

 

I still hope to get a longer (at least 6?  maybe 8?  even 10?) mile run/walk in this week before making the final decision on Little Rock, but all signs point to me flying out there and at least attempting to walk it.  The time limit is 6 hours for a normal start, which means I’d have to average 13:43 per mile, which sounds do-able until I realize I’ll be walking the majority of the race, and I can’t walk that fast, especially if I need to stop for any reason.

 

At any rate, it was nice to be able to run today, even if it was for only 2 miles, and I hope to get back into this whole bizarre running thing again.  And when it’s humid and 95 this summer, I will remember this terrible winter and be even more annoyed at the continuing bad weather.

 

How’s your training going?  Are you watching the TV show Opposite Worlds?  Did you think I was going to say I’d be ok with horribly hot weather because of the cold winter?  Share in the comments!

A Rocky Road That’s Not Sweet

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Snickers really satisfies, except for my running.

Hi there, stranger.  It’s been a long time since we talked about running.  Why’s that, you ask?  Because I haven’t been doing it, because I can’t do it, and that has led me to a life of chocolate.  Ok, I was already living a life of chocolate, but now chocolate fills both the chocolate void and the running void, which is too much chocolate, even for me.

 

After the New Year and the RWRunStreak ended, the polar vortex hit the East Coast and I had a perfect excuse to take a few days, then a few more, off from running.  I did some strength/interval training in the meantime, and on lucky January the 13th, one year after I successfully completed the Goofy Challenge at Disneyworld (the half marathon followed by the full marathon the next day), I ran 3 miles in Central Park.

 

Those three miles felt pretty great.  The weather was nice, and my knees barely hurt at all.  But that all changed overnight, when I woke on Tuesday to crazy knee pain in both knees.  It hurt to simply walk.  I iced, I tried to (mentally) shake it off, and by Wednesday they didn’t hurt every moment of the day, and by Thursday I could do my bodyweight interval exercises (like planks and squats) without much problem.

 

I was planning on doing my “long” run on that Saturday – aiming for 5 or 6 miles, but probably doing 4.  My marathon training program had me at 18 miles, but I was trying not to think about that.  Anyway, I went out into Central Park on the main loop and felt woefully out of shape.  I took a walk break after running up Cat Hill, but when I tried to start running again my right knee was having none of it.  For the past year I’ve been battling my left knee, but suddenly my right knee has decided to get in on the injury game.

 

My knee wasn’t warming up, and any pressure beyond walking made it hurt, so I scrapped the run and walked straight across the park back home.  And that’s when some serious running depression kicked in.  My next marathon (Little Rock, Arkansas) is in only 6 weeks.  I’m supposed to be running almost 40 miles a week right now, with long runs of 18 to 20 miles, but I can’t run one mile without pain.

 

So now I have to seriously consider a DNS (Did Not Start) and waste my nonrefundable airline ticket and race fee, or fly out there and face the pain and embarrassment of a DNF (Did Not Finish).  I say embarrassment not because a DNF is inherently embarrassing (far from it – sometimes not finishing is the smartest thing you can do), but because it’s almost embarrassing at this point for me to even try.  It’s one thing to miss a few training runs and generally run races undertrained, and another to be ridiculously unable to run and yet attempt a race anyway.  I don’t want to be irresponsible, and I know I would never do anything that might cause lasting damage, but I also hate to miss a race, and I think I could walk it without any major problems.  But I also don’t want to start being a marathon walker

 

So, there’s my rocky road choice – ice cream or a Snickers bar.  No, wait… the choice is to skip Little Rock or fly out there and maybe walk it.  I know where I’m leaning now (walk it), but I won’t have to make any decisions until later in February.  Since I’ll be travelling for the next three weeks, I’ll have a lot of time to think about it, a lot of time to do PT exercises and rest, and a lot of time to not run and eat chocolate.

 

Snickers Rockin' Nut Road candy bar cross-section.  Mmm mm.

Snickers Rockin’ Nut Road candy bar cross-section. Mmm mm.

If you’re wondering how that Rocky Road Snickers bar was, it was good.  The marshmallow wasn’t too sweet and was much lighter in texture than the traditional nougat,  the chocolate was dark instead of milk, and the nuts were almonds instead of peanuts.  I love Snickers Almond, and I’ve been obsessed with marshmallow chocolates, so this was right up my alley.  I was worried it would taste cheap or have that unpleasant artificial aftertaste some marshmallow chocolates have, but it didn’t.  Overall it came together beautifully, and I’d definitely buy it again.

 

How’s your winter running coming along?  Have you ever not used a non-refundable airline ticket?  Do you have any magic spells to make knees not hurt?  Share in the comments!