Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Update: Threshold intervals STILL suck.

I don't know why but a small part of me somehow half-expected that doing the same threshold interval workout as last Friday (2 warm up, 3 x 2 miles @ HM pace / 2:00 jog, 2 cool down) would be a little easier, since I'm now on my *third* post-base training workout and have done a little strength training. Ha ha ha, WRONG! Nope, this workout still sucked, and if anything, it sucked even harder than last Friday.

I guess technically my average pace on the intervals was about one second per mile faster, but that's hardly anything to brag about. Turns out that it takes more than a week for your anaerobic fitness to improve!

From experience, I know that this is *always* how it is when I first go back to doing faster workouts, but getting halfway through even one mile at this pace and feeling like I want to die does sometimes make a person wonder how on earth they ever managed to run FASTER than that pace for 13 miles in a row. And shooting for 15 seconds per mile faster than THAT just a few months from now?

In those moments I just try to remind myself about how throughout my entire CIM training cycle this past fall, there was really nothing besides the work I was putting in to suggest that I would be able to run a marathon at 8:04 average pace. Pace workouts were terrifyingly hard, and I still remember running those 10 marathon pace miles in Texas at ~8:20/mile & feeling like I was about to fall over and die. And then lo and behold, CIM '17 ended up being not only the fastest marathon I'd ever run BY FAR, but also the easiest. So I'm trying to do that thing where you put in the effort and don't really worry too much about what happens in training, and just trust the work on race day.

* * *


Grand Total: 41.4 miles + 1 hour strength

    * 16 easy
    * 5 speed
    * 6.4 tempo/threshold
    * 14 long

This wasn't quite the week I'd hoped it would be mileage-wise, but it also wasn't terrible, so I give it maybe a B-. I'd hoped to be around ~48ish in this last "big" (for rather small-ish definitions of big) week before beginning to cut back for PrideMeet, but lo, life happened, and sometimes you get what you get, and you happily take it because you remember times when despite your best efforts you couldn't string together two 40+ mile weeks to save your life for months on end.

Monday 5/22: Strength work

    Back squats (60 lb, such wee little bunny legs!), seated rows (50 lb), push-ups, step-ups (30 lb), & jack-knifes. (Or is it jack-kniVES? Also, when referring casually to multiple half marathons, do you call them 'halfs' or 'halves'? QUESTIONS.)

Tuesday 5/23: 2 warm up, 6 x (200m / 200m jog), 2 @ ~8:20ish, 6 x (200m / 200m jog), 2 cool down

    The good: After a chunk of base training I'm usually running 200m's in the 0:45-0:48 range & then ratchet down to 0:39-0:42 by the time my goal race comes around, but on Tuesday I ran them all between 0:40-0:43, so that was unusual and cool. The bad: A kids' track meet was finishing up when I arrived so I had to do the first set up on the concrete upper track and tweaked my left ankle a bit. (The faster you run, the more your ankles have to flex, and my left one has been pretty stiff for as long as I can remember. This is why I really, really try to limit most of my truly hard running to the track.

Wednesday 5/24: Karate

    Sadly I failed at getting up for strength work this morning. I'd also planned to run a few easy miles but my ankle was too painful. Boo.

Thursday 5/25: 8-10 easy Rest

    Alas, work stuff got out of control & ended up sucking up my entire day. Double boo.

Friday 5/26: a.m. strength / p.m. 2 warm up, 3 x 2 miles @ HM pace / 2:00 jog, 2 cool down = 10.4 total.

    Failed AGAIN at getting up for strength work (there are reasons but they are not important) but did at least manage to get my threshold intervals in. This was the same workout as last week, which reminded me that I don't like having the same workouts in back-to-back weeks. If I have a workout I haven't done in a while, then it probably won't look too hard and I'll just do it. If I just did it, though, then I still remember just how hard it is and spend the whole day dreading it. I like it better when they're spread out more.

Saturday 5/27: 8 easy

    Flex day, and since I didn't run Wednesday or Thursday, I wanted to get in at least a few easy miles (which...turned out not to be all that easy at all. I blame that on the threshold intervals.).

Sunday 5/28: 14 long

    Long/hard threshold workout + skipped rest day + long run = one of the hardest long runs (though not really *that* long) in recent memory. Thankfully things improved mile by mile and by the time it was over I was no longer feeling completely awful.

On the road again for work this week (back to Hawai'i, as it turns out), so we'll see what I manage to make happen.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Threshold intervals are hard + not hip enough "for the Insta"

Let the actual training commence!!

Friends, I love running fast. Over the last couple of years I've also learned to love leisurely long runs and chunks of slow, easy base training, but letting loose for some heart-pounding intervals on the track or a comfortably-hard-but-not-TOO-hard tempo run is still my favorite part of training for a goal race. In fact, this is how I knew I needed a break back in February/March--when I'd see those workouts on my plan and feel dread, and wiping the training schedule clean felt like such a relief. And that's how I've known I'm ready to get back to work--starting to feel a bit bored with slow, easy jogging, and excited about scary-sounding paces.

Don't get me wrong, though; those first few post-base training workouts are never easy, and this week was no exception.

It was a short one since we didn't get back from Hawai'i until early Wednesday morning. Like most runners, at this point I know what all my funny little biomechanical things are, all the places that are injury prone if I don't tend to them with stretching and rolling and strength work (and let's be honest, I really have not been as of late). For some reason I still have this idea in my head that if I take a few days off or take a break from running due to vacation or recovery from a big race or whatever, all those things will heal up and I'll feel fresh and healthy and ready to run when I go back to it.

Except it's completely not true. Almost without exception, my cranky feet and gimpy right hip and curmudgeonly SI joints ALWAYS feel worse after a vacation or a week of post-race rest. It's actually getting back into running (and weirdly, running longer or faster or both) that settles them down (as long as I'm doing the work to take care of them).

So, it probably should not have been a surprise to me that after a week+ of not running and then six hours on a plane, my entire body hurt, and kept hurting, to the point that when I finally laced up on Thursday for a few easy miles, I was nervous and not at all certain that this run would last more than a couple of miles. (It did, but it took my feet and hip about 1.5 miles of threatening to implode before all the muscles kind of went, "Uggghhh, FINE" and loosened up a bit.)

I have been super slacking on the strength work during my little base training interlude these past few months, so I dragged myself to the gym Friday morning for my first post-vacation strength workout. I promised my body I wouldn't overdo it but knew I really needed to at least get back into the habit of doing *something* 2-3 times per week. I didn't overdo it, but I probably did just about as much as I could have without overdoing it (10 sets of deadlifts, 4 sets of weighted lunches, clamshells, a hundred-some-odd crunches, and some arm stuff). The legs were like, "Seriously why," and continued being not happy for the rest of the day.

Which was AWESOME because Fridays are tempo/threshold days!

Friday's assignment was a 2 mile easy warm up, 3 x 2 miles @ HM pace w/ 2:00 jog recoveries, and a 2 mile easy cool down. Usually these are my favorite sorts of workouts, and when I get into the swing of training, it's really no big deal to do strength work in the morning & then 10-15 miles of tempo/threshold in the afternoon. Except I am definitely definitely not into the swing of training yet, and was also still kind of sleep deprived, and sure enough, I could tell as soon as I started my warm-up that this one was going to be rough. 10:30-11:00 pace felt like work, so internally I was sort of cracking up at the absurdity of ratcheting down to 7:30-7:35. Then again, that's happened plenty of times before and I've almost always managed to get through it somehow, so I stuck to the cardinal rule of "If you can't do it, you can't do it, but you have to PROVE you can't do it."

And WOW. Definitely the hardest workout in recent memory. Like I can't even remember a CIM training run that felt this hard. In addition to my having base trained only for 2 months, being underslept, and running on unhappy post-strength work legs, it was warm and windy and the first interval was uphill, and the 7:46 in which I ran the first mile felt like the absolute fastest I was capable of cranking out. With the exception of that first uphill-and-into the wind section, I did manage to hit the pace but felt like I was working WAY harder than the workout intended. The cool-down was miserable and other than showering and eating dinner, I pretty much did not move from the couch for the rest of the evening and then proceeded to sleep for 12 (much-needed) hours.

Needless to say, my Saturday plan changed a bit:

  • Plan A: 13-14 mile long run, since Saturday will be logistically easier than Sunday this week.
  • Plan B: Short easy recovery run since threshold intervals are going to suck so much.
  • Plan C: Screw it, recover, recover, recover.

I just found out recently that it's apparently super trendy to brag about your really stupid-ass training/racing decisions on social media, to the point that there's now a COUNTER-trend of social media-runner-people getting really hand-wringy & castigating others about it. I really wasn't aware of any of these trends until now, but I did recently discover the @restdaybrags Instagram account, which I can 100% get behind. #MakingRestGreatAgain

(Story time: Because I am old and not that hip, I also only recently learned of the phrase/concept of doing something "for the Insta," usually something really dumb or dangerous or otherwise ill-advised in order to get lots of likes, since apparently we are all still in high school and doing really stupid shit for the approval of our peers/strangers on the internet is still a thing. I was explaining this concept to Don on our vacation &, despite not even having an Instagram account, he's now taken to using the phrase "for the Insta," completely straight-faced, any time he wants to take a kind of cheesy picture of one or both of us. I don't know why but it cracks me right the hell up.)

"Hold on, I have to take a selfie for the Insta. Am I millennial-ing right?"

* * *


Grand Total: 32.4 miles + 1 hours strength & 1.5 hours karate (& 2 hours snorkeling if we're counting that). A short week but pretty decent for having been on vacation for half of it if I do say so myself.

* 12 easy
* 6.4 tempo/threshold
* 14 long

Monday 5/15: Vacation

Tuesday 5/16: Vacation

    Wednesday 5/17: Karate

      Our plane landed in Oakland at 12:30am Wednesday morning & we didn't get to bed until around 2:30am, so Wednesday pretty much sucked. I slept until 10am & then worked from home & called it good. At one point I thought about getting in a short easy run between work and karate, but I was still a) so behind with work and b) so freaking exhausted that it didn't really make a lot of sense. We wouldn't even have gone to karate had we not had to teach.

    Thursday 5/18: 8 easy

      Still not feeling great. This 8 mile "easy" run was a lot harder (and slower) than usual, and way more things felt sore and unhappy than seemed reasonable to me. I had been kind of excited about my first threshold run in two months the next day, but after this I was feeling a bit nervous.

    Friday 5/19: a.m. strength / 2 warm up, 3 x 2 miles @ HM pace / 2:00 jog, 2 cool down = 10.4 total.

      See above.

    Saturday 5/20: #MakeRestGreatAgain

      Spent most of it cleaning & shopping. No regrets.

    Sunday 5/21: 14 long through the raging dumpster fire that is the aftermath of Bay 2 Breakers

      There are things I will never understand in life, like doing really dumb shit "for the Insta," why we have to set the city on fire every time one of our sportsball teams wins some kind of championship, and why we must trash the Panhandle every damn year during Bay 2 Breakers. It's so gross. Freaking put your shit in a trash can, or take it home with you. Also extra special kudos to the drunk girl who dropped an entire six pack on my foot and everyone who yelled, "THE RACE WAS THIS MORNING!!"

    I guess that's enough curmudgeonly bitching for one week. Next week we start cranking the mileage up & do some 200m's on the track! Hell yeah 5K training!

    Friday, May 19, 2017

    Pretty Sunsets + My First Track Meet ( ~20 years)

    Hello again!

    We made a valiant effort at coming up with some sort of plan that would keep us from having to return to the mainland, but alas that whole pesky bill-paying thing kept coming up, so finally we surrendered and shuffled onto the plan. I'll post a few more Big Island pics here & there once I've had some time to go through them, but there are a few down at the bottom of this post.

    But let's be real, you don't come here to read about my vacations. The big news lately is that I just signed up for my first track meet in nearly 20 years, the 10th Annual PrideMeet on June 17, put on by the SF FrontRunners (the same group that puts on PrideRun 5K/10K every year in Golden Gate Park).

    There are shockingly few all-comer track meets in the Bay Area, at least that I've been able to find. (If you know of others, please share!) I've wanted to run on the track again for years but it's never worked out schedule-wise. In the future I'd like to try my hand at some of the shorter distances I've pretty much ignored for these same 20 years, but as I'm gearing up for 10Ks & half marathon(s?) this summer and fall, I thought it might be cool to try to jump start things with 5000m on the track. (The fee covers as many events as you want to run, but honestly, if I'm going to go all-out, I'm not sure I'll be good for much after the 9:00am 5K. If I were doing shorter things like the 400m, 800m, or mile, I'd probably opt for multiple events.)

    To be honest I'm a little scared out of my mind, BUT I am also feeling rejuvenated and ready to get back to training after a week off. I ran 40+ miles for each of the three weeks preceding vacation, which is a lot for my body right now, but I figured three higher volume weeks followed by a mini-break was probably a good balance. We also managed to stay pretty active in Hawaii with lots of hiking, walking, swimming/snorkeling, and a bit of cycling, so I'm feeling fairly ready to gently amp up the speed & tempo work & also get back into a consistent strength work schedule.

    So, having not raced on a track since ca. 1997, I may completely tank, but that's okay! It'll be a new (low-stakes) adventure, so I'm still excited to give it a shot.

    Meanwhile, please enjoy these shots from Big Island. We mostly stuck to Volcanoes National Park and Kona, with brief forays into Hilo/Puna & down the Saddle Road, so there is definitely plenty left on that particular island to see, but I can't recommend the parts we saw enthusiastically enough. We were only there for 8 days but we packed it so full that I swear it felt like a couple of months.

    (Apparently I took 1,375 pictures, not counting the ones on my phone, which, if you're curious, is the equivalent of, oh, a little more than 57 rolls of old-school film. I promise not to post them all here.)

    Haume'uma'u Crater, Volcanoes National Park

    Hiking Kilauea Iki Crater

    Petroglyphs in Volcanoes National Park

    Cycling out to the Pu'u O'o ocean entry

    At Pu'u O'o ocean entry (just outside Kalapana)

    Pu'u O'o vent flowing into the ocean, making more Hawai'i

    Spelunking at Kaumea Caves (outside of Hilo)

    Rainbow Falls (outside of Hilo)

    Rainbow Falls Hike

    Onomea Bay, just outside Hawai'i Tropical Botanical Gardens

    Hawai'i Tropical Botanical Gardens

    Onomea Falls

    Sunset outside our condo in Kona

    On our way out to a night snorkel with manta rays

    Snorkeling in Honaunau Bay ("Two Step")

    Place of Refuge, Honaunau Bay (~20 miles south of Kona)

    Place of Refuge, Honaunau Bay (~20 miles south of Kona)

    One more sunset (because, sunsets)

    Aloha, Hawai'i. See you again in, oh, two weeks or so....