Friday, February 12, 2016

Track Magic, Y'all.

    "How beautiful it is to run fast, and then rest afterward." ~Runner Proverb

Last week I wrote about my first *proper* speed workout (ie, on the ground & not an elliptical machine) in many months, & how running mile repeats at a pace that should have felt "comfortably hard" (7:20ish) left me sucking wind & completely baffled at how I could have run a 21:50(ish?) 5K in December.

This week, I ventured out to the track for a fairly similar workout (1 mile @ 7:21, 2 x 800m @ 7:05, 1 mile @ 7:21), & based on what happened last week, I don't think you can blame me for feeling SUPER nervous, especially with a 10K coming up this weekend.

Kezar Stadium, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

Still, I was so, so happy just to be back out there. It was sunny and gorgeous and not too warm, so if the running part sucked, I reasoned, at least I still had that.

It was one of those afternoon/early evenings when alllll the local middle & high school track teams are out practicing, so I had to be a little creative with my warm-up laps so as not to interfere with their various dynamic warm-ups. But the warming up felt good, so I started my first mile feeling sliiiiightly more enthusiastic than I had been!

Fair warning: This is where it gets weird.

Remember last week when I mentioned giving myself a little time to settle into a pace that felt right & then being shocked to see 8:30 on my watch? Well, I did the same thing this week, and was stunned when I hit the first turn to see 6:15-6:20s showing up.

Which is, frankly, absurd.

I gradually slowed it down, wary of GPS gremlins & such like, but I still finished that first mile in 7:06 and it felt easy.

The 800m's proceeded in much the same fashion--I was meant to do them at 7:05ish pace, but what felt "right" was 6:00ish. I tried gradually slowing things down little by little, but still finished the first one in 3:22 (6:44 pace) & the second in 3:23 (6:46 pace). (Yes, I could have run them slower in order to end up closer to the assigned pace on average, but I didn't actually want to go slower than the assigned pace, & that's just how averaging works.)

Even the last mile, which I started significantly slower in an effort to not run it 16 seconds too fast, ticked off in 7:11, which felt just ridiculously easy.

Probably not that I'm going to run a sub-45:00 this weekend at Bay Breeze, but with the longer game in mind, I WILL TAKE IT. #bodiesareweird #runningisweird #tracklyfe4eva

(Also, MY GOD, track workouts are like drugs. I had seriously forgotten how great I feel after a good speed session. More of this, please.)

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Speed + Hotness + I have no time this week.

Gaaaaaaah it is almost Wednesday and I am behind because WORK and LIFE and whatever else. I don't really have time to write, like, a full-on blog post, so here's some quick hits, which is all I can really do in ten frenzied minutes when I'm supposed to be sleeping.
  • Jeebus. Speed work (like, real, on-the-actual-ground speed work) when you haven't done it in six months is a freaking BITCH. What a confidence killer. Please die in a fire.
  • El NiƱo + climate change = really kind of insane February long runs. YOU GUYS, IT WAS ALMOST 80°. On Sunday I ran my longest long run post-sfx (10 miles) & a) it was 10-11 minute miles the whole time (no joking) while b) my heart rate was in half marathon race territory. That's some bullshit right there.

    You know we're back to proper-length runs when the Conservatory of Flowers makes an appearance! (Please try to ignore the Superbowl 50 statue, speaking of other things that can go die in a fire, along with the entire NFL.)

    (On the other hand, still feeling good in the skeletal department, so kinda-sorta win??)

  • I can't even tell you how much better I feel when I actually spend some time stretching & rolling after a long or harder run. Maybe if I can manage to remember I'll actually develop, like, a real habit. That would be rad.


Some Numbers:

    * 24.1 miles running (less than planned, but I think all my body could handle this week, actually)
    * 1:00:00 elliptical (as planned; would have been nice to get a little more since I didn't do all the running miles, but so it goes)
    * 3:00:00 strength work (woohoo!)
    * 40:00 stretch & roll (meh. Hey, I haven't quit!)

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

Tuesday: 2 wu, 3 x 1600m @ LT pace / 1:30 jog, 2 cd = 7.3 miles, + 20:00 stretch/roll

Wednesday: a.m. strength work / p.m. karate. We had a bunch of people out sick/injured or traveling, so no karate that night.

Thursday: 1.4 easy to gym, 45:00 easy elliptical, 1.4 home. I really wanted to try doing the pace workouts this week as actual runs, so shifting more of the "easy" stuff to the elliptical so that I don't jump up my weekly mileage too quickly.

Friday: a.m. strength work / p.m. 2 wu, 30:00 @ 8:35, 2 cd 4 easy

Re: doing the pace runs for real & jumping the weekly mileage up too soon, I shouldn't have worried. On Friday I just ran out of time. I got stuck at work late and we had dinner plans with friends, so squeezing in 4 easy miles was all I could do. Which was fine because my legs were *SOOO* unhappy, I'm assuming because of Tuesday's speed work.

Saturday: Rest.

Sunday: 10 miles + 15:00 elliptical + 20:00 stretch/roll. SO FREAKING HOT! Also worth noting that right now, 10 miles definitely feels like a long run, which is not surprising since I haven't run that far since July. Less time total assigned this week, though, since I'm racing on Saturday. I'm still slowly closing the gap between elliptical time and actual running miles, though!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Your yearly reminder that quitting is an important life skill.

So here we are, a month into the new year, up to 20+ miles a week & 8+ miles at once; my legs are feeling good, I haven't had the slightest hint of pain or discomfort, and the spot where I had the stress fracture feels completely normal. Given all that, I decided to wanted to give some faster running on the ground a try this week. On Tuesday I had some mile repeats on the schedule, and I thought those were probably a good choice for a first workout (as opposed to say, 200m's).

As I come back from this injury and start training again, I'm trying to be realistic, both in terms of 1) not pushing my body so hard so soon that I get re-injured and 2) remembering that it's now a good six months since I was in reasonably good shape. This attitude is a little bit at odds with my usual impulse to DO ALL THE WORKOUTS and MAKE ALL THE PACES, no matter what, no excuses, so it seemed like a good time to remind myself of the many virtues of quitting.

Quick recap: Never quitting sounds really good in theory, but think about it. What if you never quit anything? Never quit a relationship you'd outgrown? A job that wasn't working? A bad habit? A club that or hobby that's become more of a chore than a good time? An argument where you realize you're wrong? Something that seemed like a good idea at the time but now is clearly really, really not?

Quitting gets a bad rap, but in truth, it's a key life skill that all adults should master. To go all metaphorical on you, quitting is like weeding the garden. It keeps the soil fresh and tilled and creates room for things that are working to grow and blossom as well as space for fresh, new things to take root. The impulse to quit can also serve as a safety valve to keep us from doing ourselves serious harm.

Of course, sticking with things and seeing commitments through is an equally important skill; the wisdom (as it seems to be with many things) is in learning to tell the difference. Sticking with something because it just has to get done or you gave your word or because it'll be worth it in the end is one thing; refusing to quit things purely on principle is just stupid. Your time and resources are worth more than that!

My workout was supposed to be five mile repeats at 7:25 pace with 1:30 jogs in between. Now, first off, it does not make me feel great to see that pace on my schedule for mile repeats, but such is life when your ass has been parked on the elliptical for the better part of six months. Second, doing the whole workout including a warm-up and cool-down would have been a 9-10 mile run, and given that my longest run so far has only been 8 miles, I wasn't crazy enough to attempt the whole thing anyway. But I thought, "Eh, I'll do three and then do two more 7:25s on the elliptical at the same effort level." Given that I ran a sub-22 5K in December when I wasn't training and now I've had about four weeks of some training, you really wouldn't think (or at least I did not think) that 7:25s would be all that big of a deal. Like, effort required, yes, but not like hard hard.

Har har har.

You guys. 'Humbling' doesn't even begin to cover it.

I gave myself some time to get up to speed & when I thought, "This feels about right," glanced at my watch. And then I kind of wanted to cry when it said 8:30.

Sigh. Fine, I thought, and revved the engines a little more.

Now I did run three mile repeats at more or less the right pace (7:21, 7:26, 7:22), but finishing every single one of them felt like the end of a 5K, and that was with stopping at red lights. (Side note: I may have uttered a "Dear sweet lord Jesus, thank you" at every one.) It was not pretty. More than once I wanted to shout to the universe, "I RAN THREE BACK-TO-BACK 7:00ISH MILES IN DECEMBER UNTRAINED, WHAT THE HELL!"

There were two interesting things worth noting.

1) Once I started running fast, I had a very hard time getting my heart rate up. At that pace it should be *at least* 180 and it took almost the entire first mile--during which I felt like I was dying--to get above 165. (Normally for me 165 = running casually up a steepish hill.) Even in the last one, I only *averaged* 180. That is really, really weird.

2) I did forget that the first mile was uphill, so 7:21 when I was shooting for 7:25 really was probably WAY too fast. Like maybe that mile should have been closer to 7:40ish.

At this point I was so. So. Done. Maybe a little part of me had been thinking, "Eh, if I do 3 and they go pretty well, *maybe* I'll just go ahead and knock off the last two so I can say I did the whole workout." But that was so not happening, both because I felt half dead and also because I could feel how hard running even just that much faster had been on my poor legs which are NOT used to this right now. It just seemed like the worst idea ever. And, to be honest, I'm not sure even just doing two more time/effort wise on the elliptical would have been smart, having just experienced what that effort level apparently was today.

So, I quit. I still logged 7.3 miles for the day and logged my first successful speed workout since July (if you don't count the December 5K), and honestly, that really did feel like enough for where I am right now. I do not feel bad about it.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Things that are and are not the main thing.

Recently I finished reading Matt Fitzgerald’s latest, How Bad Do You Want It?, because Matt Fitzgerald and duh. To vastly oversimplify things, the book is about the psychological aspect of endurance sports, and how the more we learn about optimizing training and performance, the larger a role those mental and emotional pieces seem to play (for better or worse).

I have this feeling that what this book will mean to an endurance athlete & what they get out of it probably has a lot to do with where they are in their “career”/”journey”/whatever you want to call it as such. (As an extremely non-professional athlete, neither of those words feel right to me, but I can’t come up with anything better.) I think if I had read this book say five years ago, it wouldn’t have meant as much. Like, I might have just shrugged & been like, “Cool story, bro.” But reading it in January 2016, it resonated with me at some critical frequency. I think I read it in two days which is fast even for me.

Sometime soon (whatever that means) I really want to sit down and give it a proper review, but for the time being I’m still letting my thoughts marinate. I bring it up because some of the big ideas Fitzgerald touches on seemed connected to a fantastic blog post I read this morning courtesy of Mario Fraioli. (If you don’t get The Morning Shakeout, you should! Or you should at least check it out to see if you should.)

The post, The Art of Keeping the Main Thing The Main Thing, was penned by elite runner Phoebe Wright. Have you ever had a moment where something’s been bothering you for a while and you couldn’t put your finger on it, and then someone comes along and perfectly sums it up with exactly the right words and you go YES! YES, THAT! THANK YOU!

This was one of those moments.

During the time I’ve been reading and writing blog posts about running, there is a certain genre of post that is obsessive about little details and their effect on race day outcomes.

  • "My race was almost ruined because I forgot my extra special never-fail breakfast and we had to drive all over x city in order to find it. DISASTER AVERTED."
  • "In order to run my best I know it is critical for me to do y warm-up, exactly, and god help the fool that gets in my way."
  • "I was awake with nerves most of the night so I knew from the start that my race was doomed."
  • "Here are my extremely detailed taper nutrition/hot yoga plans, I have done exactly this for every race and this is obviously why I have PR’d every time."

And yes; I have definitely authored my share.

Something about it always bothered me, though; something I couldn’t quite get my head around.

Because the details are important, right? Aren't the details what separates a good race from a great one? Find out what works for you and then do exactly that every time, right?

Just a couple of paragraphs into Phoebe’s blog post, it hit me:

    ”We’ve all heard the advice: “It’s about the little things,” they say, “Do the 1%” they say.

    Well, this is kind of misleading advice. There, I said it. Because focusing on the 99% is probably going to get you farther than focusing on the 1%. That’s math. Or common sense? Sometimes, we get too zoomed in and can’t see the forest through the trees. This is a problem. It is good to take care of the little things, as long as the little things don’t become the main things.

*nailed it*

    ”Let’s talk for a second about the things that aren’t the main things:
      What you ate pre-race.
      If you got a cup of coffee.
      If you got a massage.
      What spikes [or whatever] you are wearing.
      How you felt in your pre race workout
      What your weight is.
      What the pace is supposed to be.
      Doing too many strides.
      Doing too little strides.
      Doing too fast strides.
      How much you hydrated.
      Talking about all the race plans.
      How much you were on your feet yesterday.
      How much you slept last night.
      The workout your competitor tweeted about.
      How fast you did your warm up.

Is she looking directly at me? I think she might be looking directly at me.

I’m a detail person. I LOVE details. Especially details that involve numbers! I love love love obsessing and quantifying and organizing and analyzing. Give me a good data set and you may not see me again for days. A data set drawn from my own obsessive, overly competitive hobby? I’m lucky if I remember to feed myself.


Part of this is just my personality (data analysis just makes me happy), but I felt like there was something else going on with the running part, particularly when it comes to what does or doesn’t happen on race day. Cue Phoebe:

    ”Reasons why the details are easy to focus on:

    1. Details help you take the pressure off. It’s like a defense mechanism. It resolves you from responsibility of your race. If you don’t race well, it is a nice excuse to fall back on. “Well, I would have raced well, except…”

    It’s really scary to try and lose and have to be like, “Well. I’m not as fit as I’d like.” Or “I didn’t try as hard as I wanted to.” That makes you feel bad on the inside. Where if you raced badly because of that Chicken Phad Thai spicy level 4 stomach issue, then it’s not really your fault!"

Ah! Right in the gut. HOW DID SHE KNOW??

    "2. Details allow you to zoom in so much that you don’t have to think about the race or the outcome. It is scary to line up and have no clue if you are going to win. It is stressful."

Truth. Keeping your head in the game when you really care is uncomfortable and stressful, so any excuse to take one’s head OUT of the game (while still pretending to be in it—‘Oh, whether I’m going to have a gel every 20 minutes or 25 minutes is CRITICAL TO MY RACE and obviously a VERY IMPORTANT THING to focus on right now’) can seem super attractive.

    "3. Details allow you to feel like the race result is predetermined. If you take care of all the details, then it is the universe’s way of saying, “Don’t worry, Phe, all the evidence suggests that you have already won this race.”

I think another way of describing this last one is “bargaining.” Okay, so maybe you didn’t do as many long runs as you should have and cut a few speed workouts short, but you carb-loaded, slept well, and wore the right shoes, so OBVIOUSLY you SHOULD PR.

(Or, alternatively, you ate like crap all week, barely slept, and probably picked the wrong shoes, so no need to stress yourself out trying too hard since a personal worst is pretty much guaranteed.)

    ”Let’s talk about the main things that are the main things:

    1. The work you put in over the last few months.
    2. Your mindset.

    THAT’S IT.”

On the one hand, it sounds liberatingly simple. Work hard, and get your mind right. That’s it.

But the simplicity of it is precisely what makes it so scary. It frees you of obsessing over details, but it also takes any excuses off the table. It bans the distractions that keep you from having to keep your head in the game.

Now, don’t get me/Phoebe wrong (because now I’m kind of going to speak for her a little). We shouldn’t completely ignore details. We should definitely do everything we can to have our best possible race, including eating what works for us, wearing the gear we’re comfortable with, doing our best to be rested and fresh, warming up however works best for us, etc. But we should never fall into the trap of thinking that those things are going to make or break our race (except in the most extreme situations we have no control over anyway) if we’ve done the work.

I’m hoping I’ll be able to keep this in the front of my mind as I start actually, like, running real races this year. Definitely book marking the page to come back to….

Monday, February 1, 2016

Eugene Week 4 of 17: Dr. Who is gone but at least lifting heavy things still works.

This wasn't exactly the week I had planned. Not least of which because it was the last week of Dr. Who on Netflix, and WTF?? I have like three seasons left to watch before I catch up. I shell out $8 for that crap and now there is nothing left to watch except Jessica Jones. And Broadchurch. And The Fall. And reruns of X-Files and House. Shut up.

The week worked out okay, though once I found out Dr. Who is on Hulu and I can just give them my $8. Better than okay, actually.

We'd planned to be in Tahoe skiing with friends over the weekend, but said plans changed unexpectedly just a few days beforehand, which was just as well because it was around then that I started feeling a bit sick. I felt unusually tired on Wednesday, & by the time I got home I had a sore through & was also stuffed up and sniffly. It never got really bad, but pretty much all I did for the rest of the week was sleep, work from home, and get my workouts in.

In other news, I'm really enjoying getting back into proper strength work again, even though it's tough sometimes. I think I said this a few weeks ago, but MAN, it is a different world when you walk into the gym with an actual plan written by someone who knows what the hell they are doing than when you walk in going, "Eh, I'll just hang out for ~45:00 & do some deadlifts & push-ups & core & clamshells & whatnot & then hit the showers and call it good."

Now, don't get me wrong; I don't want to malign anyone's efforts at doing something instead of nothing when it comes to ye olde strengthe worke. I have certainly spent many years of my running life doing exactly that, and I really do believe it's far from useless. But two summers ago when I was hanging out with the SF Crossfit Triathlon group and last summer when I was working with AT and now these last four weeks doing the New Rules (ie, the poor woman's personal strength trainer), it is an entirely different experience when someone actually spells out for you what to do and there is an actual plan behind it.

For one, I've pretty much come to accept that it hurts. I mean, not in the "WOW-I-think-I-just-threw-my-back-out" kind of way, but definitely in the "Sweet-baby-Jesus-I-do-not-not-NOT-want-to-do-four-more-reps" kind of way. I can't sleepwalk my way through it and often find myself using the same mental tactics I use to get through speed workouts.

But, it freaking works. I have upper body muscles again and also abs (been a while since I've seen those! They actually kind of startled me when I first noticed them), and in terms of pounds of lean tissue and body fat percentage, I am definitely seeing numbers much closer to what I prefer. (To be honest, I'm more than a little surprised to see such big changes in just a few weeks. Though running consistently again also helps.)

(Look, I'm sorry there's no pictures. I just can't be one of those people with my phone out at the gym taking pictures of shit, and I am really trying to get through these workouts as quickly as possible. Please enjoy instead this picture of my post-long run beer in one of the beautiful "Buy a Lady a Drink" glasses my sister got us for Christmas, which provides clean water access for women in draught-ravaged countries. My sister is awesome.)


Some Numbers:

    * 23.8 miles running (even more than the 20-22 I was shooting for - yeah!)
    * 1:54:00 elliptical (solid)
    * 3:00:00 strength work (woohoo!)
    * 30:00 stretch & roll (meh)

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

Tuesday: 2.5 easy to gym, 12 x (0:45 hard / 1:15 easy) elliptical, 1.5 easy home + 10:00 stretch & roll.

On my training plan this workout was 12 x (200m hard / 200m easy). If these had been longer, slower intervals, I think I would have tried them on the treadmill, but I have never had great success running that fast for such short periods on time on the ol' 'mill. Next week I have some mile repeats at LT pace, which seems like a pretty reasonable workout to try on it.

Wednesday: a.m. strength work / p.m. 1.4 to gym, finish strength work, 1.4 home, karate.

On this day, I was working on the Peninsula, about halfway between home and work. One of the reasons I switched my gym last fall was because I've been doing more work off-site, and since my old gym was the one by my office, this meant that I was starting to miss quite a few workouts and shuffling the days around was becoming a huge hassle. So now I have a 24-Hour Fitness any club pass (only $5 more than what I was paying for my old gym with one site only), which helps a lot since they're freaking everywhere. So I was pretty pleased to see that there was one less than a mile from my work site.

Except no. I arrived there to find it had been replaced by a PT place. So I had to book it to the NEXT closest 24HF (so like ~2 miles away). I had enough time to get ~2/3 of my strength workout done but had to finish the rest when I got home, which meant jogging the ~1.4 miles to my local 24HF & back.

Don had a work event that night so I went to karate alone, but that was around when I was starting to feel not too great. Since there were 2 other instructors there, I bailed after half an hour.

Thursday: 6 easy + 20:00 stretch & roll. No tempo/threshold this week. And it's a good thing since I was still feeling like poo, and it absolutely showed in my pace. :-/

Friday: a.m. strength work / 1.4 to gym, 45:00 easy elliptical, 1.4 home. Trying to keep gradually upping the length/frequency of my longest runs while keeping my weekly mileage increase in check, so decided to do most of this one on the elliptical. After that I went home and slept.

Saturday: Rest. And MAN, did I need it. So much sleeping.

Sunday: 8 easy + 45:00 easy elliptical.Thankfully I was feeling a lot better Sunday morning. We went rock climbing in the afternoon, & then I went out for my coldest run in quite sometime. I know I run hot so often I'll run in a tank & shorts even into the low fifties/high forties, but Sunday evening it was tights, tank, and a tech jacket, and I was perfectly comfortable the whole time.

Also, 8 miles is another post-sfx distance record! Physically this run felt easier and more comfortable than any of them have in a while, all the way to the end, so I'm feeling pretty good right now about continuing to jump up the long run mileage ~1 mile per week.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

I go to PT, again.

I was super happy that UCSF was able to book me with the therapist I was seeing back when I had all my hip problems in 2013. He's the head of the department so sees fewer patients & is harder to schedule, but he also happens to be the guy that knows about running, so my doctor wanted me to see him specifically.

We started out as usual with all the basic mobility assessments where he watched me walk, run, squat, balance/hop on one leg, etc., then did some strength testing where he pushed and pulled on my legs in various ways while I tried to resist. The good news is that he said overall my strength is good and my movement/mobility is improved from 2013.

The bad news is that basically my entire left side is clearly significantly weaker than the right--hamstrings, hips, glutes, and wrapping around to my right lats. (Apparently it's kind of like how the left side of your brain controls the right eye & vice versa--the upper body muscles that help stabilize the pelvis/upper leg are on the opposite side. Like if you push off & back with your left leg, it's your right lats/upper core that resists the rotation & helps you balance.) Sometimes those imbalance things are a little tricky to tease out and determine, but this was just so immediately obvious in every strength test he did, even to me.

Before we started I told him about my theory regarding my left foot & how striking wrong & not engaging my arch might be causing all sorts of other problems up and down the line, and the article from AT, and how taping my left foot seemed to work magic, which he acknowledged was not entire ridiculous. (I call that a victory.) After doing all the strength testing & determining my left leg was clearly weaker, he explained how it it could be that weakness further up that's making it hard for me to use my left foot properly. So step 1 is definitely to do some targeted strength work on that left side for a couple of months & see if that helps.

In a way, this is the kind of bad news that's actually good news, in a way--He found a clear, unambiguous problem that *could* realistically be connected to the injuries I've had in my lower left and upper right legs over the last couple of years. It's when I see a medical professional and they just kind of look at me and shrug and say I'm perfectly normal as far as they can tell that it gets frustrating.

As it tends to go with PT, the exercises he gave me for my left hamstring and hip muscles are pretty simple but also incredibly difficult (which is a good sign I need to do them). He also recommended that I go back to doing some single-leg eccentric glute stuff, which I've been neglecting lately. Finally, he suggested that because my left heel and arch are definitely visibly collapsing a bit, even just when I walk, I should stick a Superfeet insert in my left shoe as a short-term solution while we work on strengthening the muscles. So hopefully that will give me some immediate relief.

On the plus side, he did not do this to me again:

I found this picture the other day and it was so cringe-inducing that I felt like it was worth sharing again. You're welcome. :)

Monday, January 25, 2016

Eugene Week 3 of 17: allllllllll the cross training (oh & some running)

This week wasn't everything it could have been, but I feel like I probably did reasonably okay under the circumstances. I'm trying to gradually up my actual running miles each week while still doing the rest of my workouts on the elliptical; last week I ran 17 actual miles with ~1.5 more hours on the elliptical, and this week I'd planned on 20 miles with ~2:10ish on the elliptical. Alas, sometimes one's body just has other plans. (Spoiler: Everything is fine now.)


Some Numbers:

    * 18 miles running (okay)
    * 44:00 elliptical (boo)
    * 2:00:00 strength work (woohoo!)
    * 30:00 stretch & roll (meh)

Monday: Rest / rock climbing. Holiday. :) I could have gotten up early & gone to the gym to lift like it was a normal weekday, but for the last two weeks I'd been going to bed more or less on time every night and gotten to the gym for strength work every single Monday, Wednesday, & Friday without fail, so I really felt like I'd earned sleeping in on a holiday.

Also, rock climbing is definitely its own kind of strength workout. I still haven't managed to get all the way up a 5.10a, but I've gone from being able to climb most 5.9s to pretty much any of them. Something that's especially hard for me (due to lack of upper body strength) is climbing routes that are overhung, and on Monday I got all the way up a slightly overhung 5.9 that's been particularly challenging for me for the first time.

It's back there in the corner somewhere

It was so, so hard and I seriously almost quit three times. In fact I may have actually yelled down to Don that "Seriously, I'm done now" on three separate occasions, but every time I'd look up at what was left and think, "Just see if you can go ONE move farther; then you can quit." And then at a certain point I was so close that in spite of the fact that my arms were shaking and my hands felt like Jello, quitting just seemed ridiculous.

There's probably a metaphor in there somewhere, but at the time I was too tired to find it and now I don't care anymore.

Tuesday: 2.5 easy to gym, 8 x (3:30 hard / 2:00 easy) elliptical, 1.5 easy home + 10:00 stretch & roll. (I meant to do 20:00 but got sidetracked by other things.)

I'm really nervous about taking my speed/tempo work back out on the roads/track. I keep thinking back to how I ran that 5K in December and then a few days later feeling 100% certain I had another stress fracture. Something I've been thinking about doing is splitting a speed workout between the treadmill and elliptical so that I can tap out & go back to low-impact at any time if it's making my legs unhappy. We'll see how brave I get and when.

Wednesday: a.m. strength work / p.m. karate.

Thursday: 6 easy + 20:00 stretch & roll. This run felt awesome except for two things: 1) The part where apparently I had a splinter in my foot and it waited until I was 3.5 miles in to show up & put me in agonizing pain every time my right foot touched the ground thereafter. And 2), later in the evening I started to have some shin splints/MTSS pain in my left leg, which is something I've had on & off for, oh, 20+ years.

Friday: a.m. strength work / p.m. 2.5 easy to gym, 3 x (7:45 @ HM effort / 1:00 easy) elliptical, 1.5 home The MTSS stuff in my left leg was bothering me all day, even just walking around, but it started feeling a little better toward the afternoon, so I decided to give running a shot. Alas, I only made it about a third of a mile before it was aching pretty badly. My mantra these days is to be super-conservative about anything going on in my lower leg bones, so I just walked back home & tried not to feel too bad about it. (Another thing I'm working on...)

Saturday: Skiing! If we hadn't spent the day in Tahoe, I probably would have given Friday's tempo workout another shot, but at least I got some form of cardio in (and also had a lot of fun). I neglected to take any pictures this time, but I DID take an actual lesson for the first time ever, and at the end of the day, they sent me this:

LEVEL 6!!!! I have no idea what that means so I'm just going to assume it means I'm *amazing*.

If you really need a picture, here's one from a previous trip.

It was pretty much like that except WAY colder and actually snowing.

Sunday: 7 easy. My schedule called for another 12-14 mile long run, so I had plans to once again do an hour of running plus an hour of elliptical. But after skiing all day Saturday & getting home at 12:30 in the morning, I slept for 10 hours AND THEN woke up feeling really, really terrible. (Like, I couldn't eat & kept thinking I was about to throw up.) Thankfully it finally wore off, but since we had plans to meet friends at 4, I ended up without much time for running/elliptical. On the plus side, 1) this is the farthest I've run post-sfx, and 2) my leg/shin splints felt totally fine. Woohoo!

Next week hoping to get maybe 20-22 miles, & maybe (maybe?) try some faster intervals on the treadmill & see how it feels. Also I think skiing the whole weekend, though, so I may have to get a little creative with my scheduling...