Saturday, August 27, 2016

MP miles, back sprain, lobster

While I'm still sort of in "pre-season," I've been trying to get to the gym to lift every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning. Sadly, this has not been a good week for it. We got back from LA on Sunday around 6 and I immediately set out on a long run, meaning I wasn't done until around 9. I got to bed late and was more exhausted than usual when my alarm went off at 6am, so I figured it probably made more sense to sleep for another hour rather than drag myself to the gym.

Then on Friday morning, I woke up with my lower back feeling like someone had taken a baseball bat to it. I don't remember doing anything to it Thursday and it was perfectly fine when I went to bed, but when I got up I found myself completely unable to bend more than about 30°forward. Thankfully it was a good day for working from home!

My massage guy is 30 miles away in Palo Alto & usually takes at least a couple of weeks to book, so I was thankful that I managed to get a same-day sports massage with a reputable place here in the city. In addition to a bunch of stuff I already know (I live on the outside edges of my feet, have a super effed-up right hip/groin situation, a petrified left ankle, & generally insanely tight leg muscles all around), the therapist told me that it looked like I had basically sprained my right SI joint, i.e. threw my back out, probably via running (because seriously what else).

It was much improved after the massage though not perfect, and he said I could expect it to take another few days to a week to get back to normal. In the mean time, he said I could do whatever I wanted as long as I could tolerate the discomfort & it was pretty unlikely I would make it worse. Running didn't seem to bother it that much so I went ahead with my Friday pace run as planned -- 2 warm up, 50:00 @ marathon pace, 2 cool down.

This workout was not god-awful (I did complete the whole thing at a completely within-expectations pace & heart rate, pausing only for traffic lights in the Park + 1 water stop), but it was definitely MUCH harder than the 11.4 mile speed workout three days prior. (It was also on rolling concrete instead of the track, so there is also that.)

Part of me really wonders what would happen if I swapped Track Tuesdays with F-pace Fridays. Those speed days don't really feel that hard at the time, but I think they really do have a lingering effect in terms of general fatigue.

At 7:30 I was sitting on the couch in sweats & wet hair when Don texted me like "Let's go out for a nice dinner!" and I kind of snorted because the idea of getting a Friday dinner reservation in SF anywhere good when it's already dinner time is hilarious, but I dutifully fired up OpenTable & SeatMe to see what was available. In a completely random & bizarre turn of events, I snatched up an 8:30 res at Nightbird, a new restaurant that I remembered reading about recently. I didn't remember much about the food except that it was supposed to be really good & people were super excited about it opening.

Well, it turned out it was only their second night, so I have no idea how such a prime reservation for a highly anticipated opening was just sitting there an hour beforehand! The food was an absolutely brilliant five-course pre fixe (plus a couple of snacks) with wine pairing.


Lobster with grilled hearts of palm, chantarelles, & black truffle.
This is the only picture I managed to take because too busy eating.

They also had some really interesting & tasty cocktails. So Bay Area peeps, if you're looking for a splurgy, amazing dinner in the city, check it out!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

"Big Workouts"

As I get further back into this actual training thing, it just becomes so, so completely clear that (to the extent that I was meant to run anything), I was meant to run 5K (or shorter) races and not really marathons. I always get so worried about going back to the track after a big chunk of nothing but super easy miles, but get me part way into that first workout and it's like, "Yes, this is my core competency, I know how to do this. I know how to go fast (for me)." I have never once come even close to running the marathon times I'm "supposed" to be able to run based on other races, but I almost never finish a speed workout, even quite long ones, feeling like I've worked all that hard. (And that's almost always having run a little faster than the assigned paces.)

Last week's 9 mile workout including 10 x 600m @ 5K pace? Not a problem. This week I was a little surprised to see what RunCoach refers to as a "Big Workout," an 11-12 mile workout consisting of a chunk of marathon pace running sandwiched between two sets of harder intervals.

  • 2 mile warm up
  • Drills/dynamic stretches
  • 3 x 800m @ 5K pace / 200m jog
  • 30:00 @ marathon pace / 1:30 jog
  • 3 x 800m @ 5K pace / 200m jog
  • 2 mile cool down

In my last marathon cycle, I wasn't assigned this type of workout until about six weeks before the race, and I think I only did it maybe twice. Looking over my current training plan, though, there are about nine more of them between now and CIM. Which I suppose is just what happens when you, like, train consistently for more than a few months at a time & don't keep getting hurt or whatever. (Hopefully I haven't just jinxed myself.)

And honestly, a thought I kept having throughout this entire workout was, "This doesn't even feel hard." I mean, it didn't feel effortless, but for some reason running 800m @ 5K pace actually felt easier than running 600m @ 5K pace felt last week. And most of the "effort," I thought, seemed to come more from watching the pace & trying to keep it right around 7:00/mile. Towards the end there were a couple of times when I saw my one lap split & thought, "Hmm, slipping a little," but then it was no problem at all to kick it up a notch & find that next gear. The target heart rate for those intervals was around 200, which I did not even come close to averaging.

For now I've been defining marathon pace as "somewhere between 8:00 & 8:30, that feels like work but not TOO much work, with HR somewhere roughly between 167 & 182." The middle 30:00, I ran at 8:04 pace & 175 average HR, so I'm pretty darn happy with that as well.

Grand total = 11.4 miles

Again, I know there are still 14 weeks to go, and I won't *really* be happy until the tempo/threshold runs are feeling just as good, but things are encouraging right now, and that's not nothing.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A discount code to share, back on Strava, & threshold run #1


This week's big news is no, I have not completely lost the ability to move my body at a sub-7:00 pace. #smallvictories


FIRST: So when I started counting weeks for CIM, I updated my defunct Strava profile & started posting runs again. I don't know why, or what I hope to get out of it. I don't know why I signed up for Strava in the first place. I don't even read other people's workouts because who has time for that once you finish reading blogs, facebook, twitter, & instagram. But there it is, so if seeing my weekly miles unfold in real time before your very eyes will somehow improve your life, by all means click over.

SECOND: I think I've mentioned the awesome folks over at RaceRaves a few times. (See the badge in the right side bar.) They've been kind enough to give me some shirts to race in which, honestly, is pretty flattering because it means they seem to have a reasonable amount of confidence that I won't do something horrifically embarrassing while wearing it in public.

So far I have managed to avoid vandalizing any gas stations and/or public urination, so the way I see it we are both winning.

I wanted to mention them again because if you are angling to run the Golden Gate Half in San Francisco on Saturday, November 5, you can get 10% with discount RACERAVES10. I'll be out of town but you should totally do it!!!

THIRD: Actual running stuff.

This week marked my first speed & threshold workouts since last April, and I would be lying if I said I hadn't been just a tad nervous about how hard they would feel after so many weeks of nothing but super easy runs. As I wrote last week, though, the speed work went just swimmingly and the pace actually felt a little easier than I thought it should (especially as I got further along in the reps).

The threshold run on Friday, though....oh my. I'd thought hard about whether I wanted to add both workouts in all at once vs. just adding speed for a couple of weeks to give myself sometime to adjust and THEN adding then tempo/threshold, but ultimately just decided I'd give the whole thing a shot & see how it went.

For all that I felt great after my Tuesday speed workout, it was pretty clear in my easy runs on Wednesday & Thursday that my legs had worked a lot harder than they were used to. I ran four super easy miles on Wednesday & was very thankful I wasn't going further, and eight on Thursday felt *slightly* easier, but still tougher than usual.

Friday's threshold workout was supposed to be 2 x 2mi @ half marathon pace (~7:40, though let's be honest, I haven't run a half at that pace in years). During my Eugene training, I found that tempo/threshold paces were the ones that seemed to vary the most in terms of how hard they felt, depending on heat, wind, terrain, how tired I was, etc. On some days 7:40 felt like no big deal while on other days even just 1-2 miles felt impossible. (I still remember doing a threshold workout on a treadmill while traveling & honestly worrying that I was one false step away from flying off the back of it at all times.) So before I started doing these runs again, I checked in with Coach Ashley about whether there were heart rate guidelines for different paces. Behold:

  • Short intervals (200-400m) - 100% of max HR
  • Speed work @5k pace - 94% of max HR
  • Speed work @10K/threshold/tempo pace - 85-92% of max HR
  • Marathon pace - 78-85% of max HR

Interpolating, it looked like ~85% max was about right for HM pace.

I'd hoped by Friday I'd be feeling back to normal, but as soon as I started my warm up the answer was obviously no. I wasn't even worrying about the pace during the first tempo mile because it was uphill and into the wind, but even just going by heart rate, I had to laugh; no matter how hard I pushed, my HR just flat-out refused to rise very much, but even so, the thought of running more than a mile at that level of effort was horrifying. I don't know if it was a smart decision considering how worn out my legs were or if I just wussed out, but I ended up doing 4 x 1mi @ HMP instead of 2 x 2mi, and even that felt WAY harder than it should have.

I was shooting for about 180 in terms of HR, so you can see that it took some time to actually get there. The interesting thing about base training is that although the engine is not yet very big (it's hard to generate much power for very long), there is a decent amount of efficiency (even at heart rates a bit below the target, I was hitting the pace or slightly faster with no problem).

So yeah. It was not easy, but this was only week 3 so I'm optimistic.

Grand Total: 45.9 miles + 3:00:00 strength

    * 20 easy
    * 5 speed
    * 4.6 threshold
    * 16.3 long

    Monday 8/15: a.m. strength/p.m. karate

    Tuesday 8/16: 2 warm up, 10 x 600m @ 5K pace / 200m jog, 2 cool down

    Wednesday 8/17: a.m. strength/p.m 4 easy.

    Thursday 8/18: 8 easy.

    Friday 8/19: 2 warm up, 2 x 2mi 4 x 1mi @ HM pace / 2:00 jog, 2 cool down, get on plane.

    Saturday 8/20: Obscene brunch followed by epic dinner at N/Naka


    Giant pan charred pancake with strawberries at Dudley Market.


    Seriously, if you're ever in LA & can get a reservation at N/Naka, just do it.

    Sunday 8/21: Ridiculous brunch #2, get on plane, get off plane, 16.3 long.


    Sweet white corn pancakes with roasted blueberries & lemon zest at Local Kitchen.

    Actually this run was supposed to be 16, but I miscalculated a bit. Finished in the dark, but got it done. #thepancakeswereworthit

Saturday, August 20, 2016

How to tell if your base training is working.

All you need is a GPS watch (or a stop watch & a course whose distance you know) and a heart rate monitor that records data!

I think most of us would agree that endurance athletes tend to have a certain temperament, part of which is the ability to make a long-term commitment to consistently do incremental, sometimes-boring, not-necessarily-gratifying work on a day-to-day basis without much in the way of immediate feedback. Like, if you're the type of person who needs to see progress on a daily or even weekly basis, you probably won't find endurance sports very satisfying.

For the most part, I do okay with the day-to-day grunt work. I'm mostly fine with delaying gratification, but it is still nice to see some evidence that the work you're doing is accomplishing something. I get this urge even more when I'm doing nothing but slow, easy runs, I suppose because it can get soooo monotonous.

Anyway, if you come here often, you probably know that this summer has been a VERITABLE THREE-RING CIRCUS of aerobic base training up in here. Garmins! Heart rate monitors! Maaaaaaaybe breaking marathon pace + 1:30 going downhill with a tailwind!


Settle down, y'all.

I'm not going to completely rehash the whole "Why aerobic base training?" schpiel here, but you can check out the following posts if you want to read more.

Because numbers are my favorite (also because I enjoy a little validation as much as the next gal), I've been collecting data on my runs this summer & putting it all into a nifty little Excel table, plotting the date on the x-axis and my running economy (or, really, a decent proxy thereof) on the y-axis. (Units = miles per heart beat. Technically speaking running economy is about oxygen consumption, but heart rate is a pretty good indicator of that and is much easier to measure directly.)

So, after 9 weeks, what have we got?

(See this post for information on my methodology/math.)

Not bad, eh?

As you can see, the data jumps around a lot from day to day and even week to week because there are so many factors that can affect your pace & heart rate on a given day (weather, sleep, stress, medications, general fatigue, GPS issues, HRM accuracy, etc.). Because of this, you need rather a lot of data points before you can see the trend clearly.

BUT, after 9 weeks, there is a clear trend. We can have Excel calculate & plot the line of best fit (which you can see running through the data points.) Much, much cooler, though, is the fact that we can also have it calculate the variance (the number labeled R2). What is variance? Basically, it tells you what percent of the trend the x variable is responsible for. In the data above, R2 ≈ .33, which tells us that the x value (the date, ie, how many days of base training I've done) is responsible for about 33% of the variation. That means all those other things (weather/sleep/stress/GPS/HRM accuracy/etc.) account for about 67% of it.

Essentially, this is telling us that about a third of how efficiently I've run on any given day has been a result of how far into the training I am (and also that there is a lot of noise caused by other factors--weather, device accuracy, sleep, stress levels, etc.).

Now, we can't automatically assume all of that 33% is due to base training, because there are some other things connected to the passage of time besides how much base training I've done. For example, how many days of strength training I've done, or the fact that I have gradually been losing a little weight these last few weeks as my mileage has picked back up. If I wanted to be SUPER rigorous I'd have to control for all those things (which is a little impractical if you're just a normal person training to do your best at a race).

Obviously I expect to still continue getting faster as I add in speed & tempo work due to improving my VO2 max & lactate threshold, but I am curious to keep tracking this data for my easy runs to see if my running economy continues to improve between now & CIM, or if it levels off.

Want to track your own running economy (or proxy thereof)? I have a spreadsheet with all the formulas already set up which I'm happy to share with anyone who's interested. Just let me know.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Speed work, I have missed you.


This place.

It's not sarcasm! I really have!

Something I love about distance running is the periodic nature of training cycles. After giving 110% at a target race, it's so nice to have a week off, followed often by a chunk of easy base training. I like training for races, but there's something very calming about having some time away from that where all I have to do is come home from work, throw on running clothes, grab my watch, & turn my brain off while I log mile after mile of relaxed, easy running. Inevitably, though, I start to get a little bored with the same-ol', same-ol', & find myself longing for faster paces and the sensation of zooming around the curves at the track; before you know it, I'm eagerly counting down days until my first speed workout of the next cycle.

And, full disclosure, I usually also have some butterflies about going back to those fast workouts, too. I always wonder whether I'll be able to hit the same paces as before, and how hard it will feel after a couple of months of hanging out in zone 2, and how my injury-prone body will acclimate to the added strain. I have always been more of a 5K-10K runner than a marathoner, though, so for the most part, knowing it's almost time to get back out on the track gets me excited.

This past Tuesday evening was my first speed session since April, with ten 600m repeats / 200m jogs on tap. The goal was 2:38 for each interval (7:05 pace), and I was curious to see just how easy or hard that felt after such a long break from fast running. Happily, they really didn't feel very hard at all, and I easily kept them between 2:33 & 2:37 (~6:45 pace on average).

  • Lap 1 - 2:35
  • Lap 2 - 2:35
  • Lap 3 - 2:34
  • Lap 4 - 2:33
  • Lap 5 - 2:36
  • Lap 6 - 2:34
  • Lap 7 - 2:37
  • Lap 8 - 2:33
  • Lap 9 - 2:36
  • Lap 10 - 2:33

Something that I've noticed about going back to the track after a chunk of base training is how, although it doesn't necessarily make the pace feel any easier, it's kind of dramatic how much easier it feels to do a longer speed session (9 miles in this case) and feel almost as good by the end as I did at the start. In addition to hitting the pace with no problem all the way to the end, I also did the whole thing start to finish with no pauses or breaks. (Sometimes I end up stopping once or twice for water but I am trying to get out of the habit of that whenever possible.)

Up next: Tempo run #1 on Friday!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Escape From NY (barely)


The Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park. How many times have I met up with friends here for group runs or looped past it during long runs? The world may never know.


This wasn't the dumbest week ever but it was kind of close. (That distinction probably still belongs to this week.)

Grand Total: 46 total miles, all easy, + 1:00:00 strength work

    Monday 8/8: a.m. strength/p.m. karate

    Tuesday 8/9: 10 easy, destroy left calf/Achilles. Spend the rest of the evening limping around the house & trying not to panic. You can read the deets here.

    Wednesday 8/10: Rest from everything, constantly stretch & roll left calf. (Not because I think this will fix it, but because I suspect the lack of keeping up with that stuff over the last couple of months probably contributed to the strain. It's happened twice before.)

    Thursday 8/11: 8 easy.

    Monday morning I got up at the ass crack of dawn to catch a plane to NY at 7:45am, an hour which I consider completely obscene for plane catching. Fortunately, everything ran on time. Unfortunately, we ended up landing at La Guardia in a kind of scary lightening storm & learned that the rest of the airport had basically been closed down for like an hour with approximately a bajillion flights cancelled. This meant that it took me 90 minutes waiting in a taxi line in the rain in 95F & 95% humidity to get a cab to my hotel. (East Coast, what even is the point of you? Ah, right; bagels.)

    It was 10pm by the time I finished dinner, but still being on West Coast time & wide awake, I decided to jump on the treadmill & see how my leg was feeling, since it would be easy to jump right back off if I felt any pain. And, I was kind of stunned to find that it felt completely, 100% normal for six miles. In the last two I kept thinking, "Is that a twinge? I'm not sure. It might be a twinge. Maybe?" But if it was there, the pain was in the 1-1.5 out of 10 range, so I felt totally fine completing the full 8 (and then, yes, stretching it really, REALLY well).

    Friday 8/5: Travel shenanigans!!

    Here is where the fun begins.

    Sadly, though I was wide away the night before & went to sleep at a very reasonable hour relative to West Coast time, I still had to be up at 7am East Coast time, so you can do the math there. Work was fine; I'd been told I would definitely be done by 3pm so had booked my flight for 6pm just to be safe. It turned out we finished more like 1:45, so I had plenty of time for a nice, leisurely trip to the airport and a late lunch around 2:15-2:30.

    Then I got a text that my flight had been delayed. Instead of arriving in Denver at 8:40 to catch a 10pm flight to SF, I was now arriving at 9:10. This was no big deal so I pretty much ignored it.

    Then I went through security & scurried down to my gate, where I was greeted with a kind of barely-controlled bedlam. The weather was getting nasty again and several flights were getting badly delayed or cancelled. I had a bad feeling about this but I proceeded to buy myself a book and snag a prime spot near some outlets & settled in to wait for my flight four hours from now.

    Then, another text. Another delay; I'd now be landing at 9:45pm & trying to make a 10:00pm connection, which is not completely impossible but also not exactly how shall we say probable. The message on my United app: "We're so sorry that your travel plans have been compromised! Please select another itinerary if you'd like at no charge." So I promptly search for another itinerary & learn that "Sorry, there are no other itineraries available at this time."

    At this point basically everyone around me is shouting (at gate agents, bored children, each other). The customer service line is 30 people long. So, I get on the phone with customer service and am told it will be a 5-10 minute wait to speak to someone. 20 minutes later I explain my situation to a nice lady who proceeds to tell me about all kinds of fantastic options for people who are not me. ("We have a direct flight to SF leaving out of JFK in 40 minutes." Great?) Finally I accept that I am not getting out of New York tonight and next best thing is getting rebooked on a 7am direct flight out of JFK on a different airline. I tell her to do it. We are promptly disconnected.

    I call back and wait another 20 minutes. I have the same conversation with someone else. He starts to rebook me. We are disconnected.

    New text. I am now scheduled to land at 10:05pm for my 10:00pm connection.

    Desperate times call for desperate measures, so I sigh and abandon my prime spot by the outlets, dial customer service *again*, and also jump in the physical customer service line, now probably 40 people long. Will I reach an actual person on the phone before I get to the front????

    The answer is no.

    The poor gate agent at the front looks as if he is living in a war zone. I try to make things really easy for him & tell him about how two different people have tried booking me on this 7am JFK flight but we keep getting disconnected and if he could just finish it up that would be GREAT.

    He taps on the keyboard for a moment, eyes glassy and empty, and shakes his head. "Full."

    Whut.

    More tapping. More head-shaking. More rapid blinking of hopeless eyes that have seen too much.

    "I have a couple of seats on a direct flight at 10pm," he says finally.

    "GREAT!" #winning

    "It's out of Newark."

    "The one in New Jersey?"

    "Yep."

    #notwinning.

    Apparently there's a shuttle bus I can take for $47, and since it's 6pm now, I *might* get there in time.

    "It's up to you," he reiterates. "All I'm saying is, if you want, I can book you on this flight."

    "DO IT," I tell him.

    The clock is now ticking so I sprint down to the ground transportation info desk & enquire about this alleged shuttle. At first I am told "No problem," but after a few minutes on the phone, the gentleman manning the desk tells me, "The shuttle is unavailable," but would I rather take the Express Shuttle instead for $27. I like the sound of 'Express' so I tell him "DO IT."

    He walks me and another woman down to where the Express Shuttle leaves from. On the way we learn that the Express Shuttle is more like the "Express" Shuttle, actually, in that, after leaving LGA, it drives all around Manhattan before reaching the spot where the Newark bus picks up.

    There is a stern-looking woman guarding the "Express" Shuttle line. "These two ladies need to get to Newark," he tells her. She looks skeptical. "When's your flight?" she asks. "10pm," I say. She nods. "You may get in the line." Then to the other woman, "When's your flight?" "8:30pm," she tells her, and the stern woman shakes her head. "You may not get in the line."

    I get in the line. "There is one leaving at 6:30 but you won't get on it," she warns me. "Just wait here. There's another one at 7."

    I wait. Another woman sells me a ticket and asks me where I'm going. I tell her. "You want the second stop," she says, enunciating carefully. "Don't get off at the first stop. You want the second one. It's called Bryant Park. Don't get off at the first stop." Careful eye contact, and again, slow, careful enunciation. "The bus driver will show you where to go to catch the Newark bus."

    I commit this to memory and it gives me a bad feeling.

    The 6:30 bus comes and goes. So does 7pm. There is no second bus. Someone comes to tell us that don't worry, it's stuck in traffic but it'll be here. I get nervous but it pulls up at 7:20pm & I jump on, thankful I have only my small overnight bag to deal with.

    We proceed to drive all over Manhattan. There's a lot of honking and shouting. We arrive at the first stop and I do not get off.

    However. I do hear a Canadian couple at the front of the bus ask, "Is this where we get off for the Newark bus, eh?"

    The porter stares at them like they have seven heads. "The what?"

    "The Newark bus," the man repeats. "For Newark airport, eh?"

    "It's called Bryant Park," adds the woman. "The stop is Bryant Park."

    "This bus doesn't go to Bryant Park!" He looks completely indignant. "Who told you it went to Bryant Park?"

    "The woman who sold us the tickets, eh."

    The porter shakes his head as if this is complete crazy talk and what kind of idiot would believe something like that. "Psh. Bryant Park."

    There is some additional conversation. I'm in the back so I don't catch it all, but I do see the three folks I know on this bus are going to Newark airport frantically making their way towards the door so I grab my bag and follow them.

    It takes me a while to get out & by the time I do they're almost a full block ahead of me, the bus driver walking with them. I have no idea what's going on but I run in my very non-running-friendly office shoes to catch up.

    We stop at a corner. "Just wait here and a bus will come," he tells us.

    We stare.

    I am acutely aware of the fact that I am now farther away from an airport than I have been for this entire trip. Geographically, this is indisputable anti-progress.

    But, against all odds, a bus DOES come, a bus clearly marked as the "Newark Airport Express," and we get on it. However this also ends up being an "Express" rather than an Express, and we're treated to another tour of Manhattan with all the same honking & shouting, just in the dark this time.

    I keep checking the time & try to relax. My phone is about to die (that sweet seat by the outlets feels like a lifetime ago) but I risk pulling up Google Maps to see how far we are from Newark Airport Terminal B. 22 minutes and it's 8:40? That'll do, pig.

    At long, long last, we pull up at Newark Airport, which you would have thought was Valhalla from my reaction. I thank the gods of air travel for TSA Pre-Check, breeze through security, & walk approximately half a mile to my gate, which is about as far as geographically possible from security.

    I have received no more United texts, but there is nothing anywhere at this gate about a plane going to San Francisco. I check the Departure boards and find that my gate has been changed (because of course it has), which would not be a big deal except that the new gate is, it turns out, about as far as it is physically possible to be from the old gate and still be in the same terminal. This time I thank the gods of marathon training for my fitness and race-walk about a mile through the terminal, finally arriving at my gate.

    San Francisco. 10pm.

    These shoes are not made for walking and my heels are now a bloody mess, but I collapse in a chair and try not to think about it.

    I grab some terrible airport sushi and wash it down with a $4 bottle of water. It's a shit show here, too; everyone around me is shouting and jockeying for position in the boarding lines. This flight has been delayed a bit further due to a personnel problem (it was originally supposed to leave at 6:40pm), but I couldn't care less. There is a plane outside and it is going to San Francisco and so help me I am getting on it.

    The rest of the trip is uneventful. I arrive at SFO at 1am, take a shuttle to long-term parking, drive home, eat something, and pass right the f#ck out.

    Saturday 8/13: 10 easy. I'm still not fully caught up on sleep so it is not the easiest run, but it is also not terrible.

    Sunday 8/14: 18 long.

    I'd debated turning this run into a trek out to the Palace of Fine Arts so I could take some sweet pictures, but I'm still not feeling 100%, so I opt instead to do nice, predictable loops of the east side of Golden Gate Park. It was cold and mizzly (mist + drizzle) and a bit on the windy side, so I was surprised that there were so many people out still. This is definitely the earliest in a marathon cycle that I've run this far, and I'm pleased to find that although I'm certainly ready to be done by the end, it doesn't feel that hard and I don't feel completely awful.


  • Do you also abhor the East Coast?
  • What is the longest taxi line you've ever waited in and was there also a lightening storm?
  • What is up with NY/La Guardia airport transit, anyway?

Saturday, August 13, 2016

What's a blog good for anyway?

Well, so much for not injuring myself early-on.

On my long run last Sunday, I felt a tiny twinge in my left calf/Achilles area. Nothing major; just one of those niggly little pains that shows up sometimes for no good reason and disappears quickly enough. Otherwise I'd had a great run so I barely thought anything of it.

On Tuesday, I had an easy 10 on the schedule. The first bit was fine, but then after two or three miles, I started to feel something in that same calf. You know how it is; I waffled & wavered about whether it was really there, and how bad it was, and whether I was being smart or paranoid by considering cutting the run short.

Mile 4: "Mmmm, yeah, that kinda hurts."

Mile 5: "Yep, still hurts, and now I am five miles from home."

Mile 6: "Yep! Pain! Ow ow ow pain!"

I had my phone so I could have called a cab but to be honest I'm pretty sure no one would have let me in their car at that point. Also, it would definitely feel worse after stopping for a traffic light, but then kind of-sort of feel a little better after a few minutes of running, and I'd find myself thinking, "Ugh, this sucks, but it's not that bad, just ____ more to go." But then every now and then I'd feel a very sharp pain in my Achilles tendon and panic a little. After a while I also noticed that my right knee was starting to hurt (and I don't generally have knee pain).

The bad news is, by the time I got home, I was actively limping. The good news, on the other hand, is that at least after an hour or two of walking around barefoot, it felt about ten times better (but still hurt pretty badly if I tried to stand on the ball of my left foot).

For all but the most charmed of runners, this (some injury that seems to appear out of nowhere) is a thing that sometimes happens. It has certainly happened to me more than once!

And here's the other good news: I have gotten waaaaaay better about how I handle it.

  • Angela handling a sudden, debilitating running injury ca.2008: "INJURED WHO'S INJURED LA LA LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU!"
  • Angela handling same, ca.2011: "But, like, injury's just a state of mind, man. All that matters is whether I feel like I can run 10 miles safely."
  • Angela handling same, ca.2014: "I am definitely, definitely injured and cannot even THINK of running and this SUCKS and I hate my body, running, life, the universe, and EVERYTHING. If anyone needs me I will be sobbing under the covers with a bottle of cote d'rhone."

The nice part about becoming older and wiser is that you remember going down all those paths, and also how much they sucked and also did not fix the situation. When all this happened Tuesday night I could sense how easy it would be to let myself fall into the Pit of Despair that running injuries have been for me in the past, especially since this was supposed to be my "peak" week of base training, 50 easy miles before cutting back to add speed & tempo & prep for a September 10K.

But, thankfully, I caught myself falling into that trap & instead tried to react to it the way I know I should react in a race that has taken a crappy turn: "Well, look, this is happening, and throwing a tantrum about it isn't going to make it NOT happen. So let's just accept it and start from there."

I think just getting into that state of mind let me think more rationally and come up with some objective, non-emotionally charged facts, like:

  • It isn't even mid-August and my 'A' race isn't until December.
  • Trying to run on it every day or every other day "just to see" is almost guaranteed to drag the healing process out even longer.
  • A few days or a week or even two weeks of not running will suck a lot psychologically, but it is unlikely to have a huge effect on my race day fitness this far out.

The other thing that's helped, honestly, is having this blog, where I've recorded just about everything that's happened to me running-wise for the last five years. When this first happened, I remember thinking, "Didn't something like this happen to me two years ago in Vancouver? Also, I have a vague memory of something similar happening like five years ago too during the summer. Or was it the other leg?"

Nope; it was the same leg, both times. Not surprising, considering this is the leg my PT was always raising his eyebrows about & constantly cupping & grinding on with various tools, and also the leg where I've had the plantar fasciitis (mostly caused by tight calf muscles, it turns out).

And guess what also definitely happened the first time? The weird right knee pain, which I'd completely forgotten about until I went back and read that blog post. (I'm pretty sure it's some kind of stride/compensation thing.)

The icing on the rational, objective, non-melodramatic cake? Being able to look back at exactly how long each had taken to heal. Both times it seemed like the end of the world (or at least my 'A' race), but in June 2011, the injury apparently happened on a Tuesday & I was back to 6 easy miles the following Monday, and in 2014, the worst of it happened on a Thursday & the following Tuesday I was healthy enough to run a 10 mile track workout.

So. Self, I know you won't like it, but can you handle 4-6 days of taking it easy/cross training?

Answer: Yes. Yes, I can. (Thanks, blog!)

(Update: I wrote this a few days ago and I think it's mostly fine now.)