Tuesday, December 2, 2014

NVM WEEK 3: I learn things. And drink a lot.

Don & I were in Spokane, Washington this past week for Thanksgiving visiting his parents, which is always a quiet, peaceful few days full of good food & amazing wine. This is what happens when your SO's parents are wine educators. (I, for one, have thoroughly enjoyed being educated by them.)

#gratitude #blessed #justkidding #getinmybelly

In addition to eating & drinking my weight in turkey, mashed potatoes, wine, and pie, I learned a lot of things this week. I will now recount these learnings in chronological order.

~*~*~NVM WEEK 3 OF 16~*~*~

Grand Total: 33.15 miles, all easy. Not the week I'd hoped for, but we'll get to that. Still, better than any other Thanksgiving travel week to date, which is something.

Monday: karate

Tuesday: 10 easy

    My schedule called for 9, including 5 miles at goal marathon pace, but given how beat up I was still feeling from last week's sleep debt that refused to die, I decided to take it easy & not push for the faster miles. But, I threw in an extra mile to compensate for the skipped GMP miles, because that is totally how that works.

Wednesday: a.m. strength work / travel

    I had a morning session with AT, which was fascinating. We did basically all transverse ab stuff to start, & learned that I am apparently not awful in that department but still not great. Then she had me work on holding a bridge position & then lifting each leg off the ground one at a time. Which? I learned that I cannot do. Not even a little. Which indicates that something in the glute/core area is just not firing, no matter how well I do on all the strength assessments. So my homework is to lie there in a bridge position & try to pick my feet up off the ground one at a time. Or at least try.

    (Sidenote: Although my sessions with AT have thus far involved only the most basic, simple, non-impressive looking exercises imaginable, they are by far the hardest, most painful, & most sweat-inducing strength sessions I have ever done, and that includes CrossFit.)

    After that I headed home to finish packing & get to the airport, which led to learning #3: If you must travel the day before Thanksgiving & can swing it, try flying out mid-day.

    "Busiest travel day of the year."

    The airport was absolutely empty when we arrived at 1:30 for our 3:00 flight, but the TSA folks told us that it had been a mad house that morning & they expected it to get bad again later with the after-work crowd. Apparently, we were flying right in the sweet spot.

    Learning #4: By far the most pleasant way to kill time at the Oakland airport is to head over to Vino Volo in Terminal 2. (The airport is not that big so it shouldn't take long to find.) Since we'd given ourselves so much extra time in anticipation of crazy security lines, we had a solid hour to kill before our flight even started boarding.

    Also Vino Volo has the nicest, most friendly servers/pourers you can possibly imagine (and probably more than than you can imagine, given that they were working in an airport during the holidays).

Thursday: 8.15 easy

    I haven't been able to run much in Spokane recently thanks to a stress fracture last year & really bad shin splints in 2012, so I was thankful (HA!) this year to be healthy & rested enough to go jaunting around the just-barely-rural area where Don's parents live before Thanksgiving dinner.

    There are miles and miles of empty road rolling past scenic farms, fall colors, & evergreens, with narry a traffic light in sight. It was a little windy but not too cold, & I got a healthy dose of hills that certainly rival anything I run regularly in San Francisco.

    For the first few days there, the temperature stayed in a very reasonable 45-55F range. The low end of this is colder than we typically get in SF, so I was sure to pack plenty of tights, long sleeve shirts, ski socks, & gloves. On Thursday it was still sunny & low 50s, so I wore my thinnest tights, a light long-sleeve, normal socks, & no hat or gloves. It was a little windy in places & there were a few times when I kind of wished I had gloves, but for the most part, my outfit seemed pretty much fine.

Friday: 8 easy

    On Friday I did the same route but backwards, which meant starting with ~1/2 a mile nice, gradual downhill followed by 3 miles of brutal up hill. Given that I don't really run a lot of brutal hills these days, this was, um, an interesting experience. On the other hand, at least it was paired with a 20mph tailwind.

    On the other other hand, that meant I finished with two miles or so of short, brutal ups interspersed with slightly longer but still kind of brutal downs, and a frigid 20mph headwind. (I'd forgotten how hilarious it is to run downhill with a strong headwind, because you actually have to work to move forward.)

    As a result of all the hills and wind, I actually got several good stretches in at close to marathon heart rate, which I figured was probably fine since I didn't run any GMP miles earlier in the week. It wasn't that cold (high forties, maybe) but thanks to the wind & little bit of drizzle, I definitely felt a bit frozen in places when I got back.

Saturday: Rest/eat/drink/etc.

Sunday: 15 long 7 easy

    In my fondest dreams, I had hoped I would get a proper long run in in Spokane. Alas I wasn't feeling great Saturday night & then slept a grand total of 3 hours, so when we woke up to single-digit temps, I was very close to just calling it altogether. After lunch with friends, though, I was feeling considerably better & proclaimed when we got back that I'd just run until the sun went down. Unfortunately, that only ended up giving me a little over an hour (what with the sun setting at 4:30pm up there this time of year). But given that it was about 18F at that point & dropping fast, even in my thickest tights & ski socks, two shirts, two pairs of gloves, & a hat, I am not sure I would have lasted much longer (which is a shame, really, because I was just starting to get into a groove & totally could have run happily for way longer, except for the cold/dark/empty rural roads/etc.).

    When I got back, I couldn't feel my skin in most places & couldn't actually stand more than luke-warm water in the shower because otherwise it actually kind of burned. I pretty much spent the rest of the evening sitting in front of this & trying to thaw out.

    But yeah. If we'd gotten back from lunch say an hour earlier, I actually MIGHT have been able to get a long run in with no problem. Still, this is the most miles I've ever run in Spokane (by a lot) so I'm trying to be happy with it.

Also, let us briefly talk about what I learned regarding what your heart rate does when you travel.

These days, down in SF, my easy runs have pretty much all been in the 142-148 bpm range. Up in Spokane? *Completely* different world. At what felt like the same level of effort, I was consistently averaging 155-170 bpm. Yes, the routes were hillier, but even slowing to what felt like a super easy effort, I still routinely found myself in the 170+ range on long uphills, and almost never saw that number drop below 150. I can understand this somewhat on the colder days, but the first couple of days weren't THAT dramatically different from SF, so I've had a hard time trying to figure out what the difference could possibly be.

(And I'm pretty positive it has something to do with location. Six easy miles in Spokane on Monday, 12/1? Average heart rate 163 bpm, which is an all-time high for this particular base training cycle. Eight easy miles in SF the next day? 143 bpm, among the lowest averages I've seen. Go figure.)

My only real goals for this coming week are to break 40 miles & get a 15 mile long run in. If both of those happen, no complaints.


  1. A friend of mine is a TSA agent here in PDX, and she was thrilled to have Wednesday off, and instead worked Thursday and Friday when it's incredibly slow traffic.

    Since you have a connection to Spokane, have you ever run Bloomsday? My dad grew up there, and did it a few times when I was kid and relatives do it often (my aunt and uncle met there, in fact); I finally did it for the first time two years ago. It's huge (it's got to be one of the largest in the state, at least - more than 40k people), but incredibly well organized. 12k, so a fun unusual distance, and there's a timed "Doomsday Hill".

    1. I haven't (we're usually only there around the holidays), but Don's dad has run it several times & keeps saying I should come do it. I would love to someday, just for the experience!

    2. You definitely should try to do it at least once sometime!

      And seeing the other comments about the altitude in Spokane, which I totally didn't realize, I'm going to use that to excuse my performance always being poor compared to what I thought based on my training (which is always not good training, cause it's right after my busy season at work) when I've done Bloomsday.

  2. Regarding the heart rate, could it be the altitude? I looked up Spokane, and it's about 2,000 feet above sea level.

    1. I was going to make the same comment. Altitude... or even humidity? Wind? Something is definitely different in the air, it seems.

    2. I wondered about the altitude thing, but I didn't think it would be enough to really make a difference. Maybe, though!

      The wind definitely made me slower, but that seems to be the only difference between the two windy days & the two non-windy days. Still, both days, the same super easy effort level seemed to result in high heart rates.

      Who knows!!!

  3. I'm with everyone else - even a slight altitude change has your heart doing more work.