Friday, April 8, 2011

Finding my stroke

After weeks of easing myself back into swimming (my long swim up to yesterday was 1400m) in a patient effort to avoid injuring my shoulder, last night I finally found my stroke. I ended up swimming the sets the Masters group was swimming, and some of the "breathe every 3, 5, 7 stroke" sets forced me into a much better body rotation. My balance was good, my reach was good, and my stroke felt strong and smooth. I was kicking a little harder for these sets, and that probably helped. I finished with 2000m and no shoulder pain. It's fun to swim well. BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Training through the holidays

After CIM, I wasn't sure if I still wanted to run the Houston Marathon or not.  I have already paid to register, but there's not much point in running a marathon if I'm not motivated to do it.  After a few weeks of post-CIM recovery, I decided that my weakness at CIM was insufficient training for the hills (and not excessively aggressive pacing, which may or may not be true), since my slow-down was associated with my glutes giving out.  I then decided that, assuming I can ramp my training back up effectively, that I still have a chance to PR at Houston.  So I'm running Houston. 

I eased back into my training plan on the third week after CIM, but missed the tempo workout, then went home to see the family for Christmas (and also missed the tempo workout that week).  I ran my long run (intended to be 20 miles) a day after playing two hours of basketball with my family and a group of guys with whom my dad typically plays.  The long run ended up being 18 miles of hilly misery.  My feet had been aching immediately after the basketball game, and they were pretty painful throughout my long run.  In addition to being painful, the run was ridiculously slow (but I didn't worry about it too much, since I didn't have a target pace).  Not a confidence builder.  I then had 3 full days of inactivity associated with Christmas and traveling, and then jumped on my bike yesterday at lunch.  For some reason, I was really weak on the bike, and my heart rate vs. power output was way higher than for the same ride last week.  I was pretty frustrated.  I went out and ate a heavy lunch of mexican food, then went back to work.  After work, I went to run my track workout, and found that I had no motivation to run.  I went out on the track and ran my 1 mile warmup.  Then I decided I was done for the day- my lunch was not sitting well, and I felt very unmotivated and slow.  On my way off the track, I decided that it was silly and a waste of time for me to bail on the workout, and turned around and set off on my first set.  About 100m into the set, I decided that, indeed, I would bail.  And I did.  I'm not sure if I did the right thing or not, but I do know that letting myself bail is a very slippery slope.  Discipline is key to success.

Today it is rainy and nasty outside, and I still have a track workout that needs running.  Here's hoping I'm man enough to show up.

Monday, December 6, 2010

California International Marathon

We arrived in Sacramento Friday evening for the Sunday race. A and I met my sister and some friends from Houston at the airport, then crammed into a tiny rental car and headed for our hotels. We dined well on Italian food and went to bed.

Throughout the night we were entertained by the drunkards next door, and were relieved to find in the morning that they would be checking out. We got up, had breakfast, and headed enthusiastically to the expo. There's nothing quite like a race expo, packed with vendors selling running/tri paraphernalia, and with other athletes. It's guaranteed to get you excited for the race!

After the expo, we walked over to Old Sacramento and had lunch overlooking the river. We wandered through the shops, then headed back to the hotel to watch the VT game. At halftime we walked to a nearby brewery, where we ate and watched the end of the VT game. Then we went back to the hotel and got our stuff together for the race.
Race Day: we got up at 4am, grabbed some breakfast downstairs (I had oatmeal), and went to meet the buses departing for Folsom at 5am (the CIM is a point-to-point from Folsom to the Capitol in Sacramento). The day was much warmer than we'd expected (uh-oh), with temps starting in the low 50's (instead of high 30's, as predicted). I spent the 45 minute bus ride with my head on the back of the seat in front of me (just like in school!). We arrived in Folsom, took advantage of the longest line of porta-potties I've ever seen (the race organization was flawless), and lined up for the start. I lined up next to the 3:10 pace group, and planned to run 7:06 pace for as long as I could, with the goal of finishing below 3:10.
I may have gone out a little fast (I was still with the 3:00 pace group after a mile), but I felt pretty good, and resolved to just take what the course gave me. The course was way hillier than I had expected, and judging the pace was very difficult when always running uphill or downhill. I finished the first 6 miles at just over 7:00 pace, and finished the Half at 7:06 pace (a 1/2 Marathon PR... Uh-oh!). So I went out a little fast, and I slowed down a good bit between miles 10 and 13. After the halfway point, I started having issues with my left glute/IT/piriformis (not sure exactly what it is, but it's been bothering me on both sides on and off for the last six weeks (although it's been improving of late). Anyway, the one on the left stopped working, and where I had been effortlessly holding 7:00 pace early on, I was now struggling to keep it under 7:40. I had a surge of energy and another fast mile at mile 19, and then the wheels were completely off, and I was running over 8:00. The day had warmed up considerably, and the sun was out for most of my race, which certainly didn't help (at mile 3, a spectator yelled:"the sun is coming out for you guys!", and I thought: "not for me!!").
I ran the last few miles pushing as hard as I could (but not getting much speed for the effort). Nonetheless, I was passing people by the scores. As I rounded the last corner and the finish line came into view, the guy I was passing decided he didn't want to be passed, and we both accelerated into a wild sprint to the finish (just how I like it!. I'm pretty sure I won by a nose, but will have to await the finish photo to be sure. I finished in 3:13, nit good enough for a PR.

After the finish, I hobbled around cheering for the finishing runners until the rest of my crew trickled in. No one was happy with their race (it's hard to be happy after a marathon), but post-race Mexican food lifted our spirits!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Nov 2 - 14

Boy, was I sore after that aggressively paced 20 miler on Sunday!
Tuesday: I was having a tough week at work, and I was exhausted (residual jet lag?), and I showed up at the track honestly wanting to just go home without running. I spent most of the warmup mile thinking about skipping the workout, but I didn't let myself off the hook.
Goal: 1 mi wu, 3000m @ 6:45, 2000m @ 6:26, 1000m @ 6:12, 800m @ 5:58, 1 mi cd.
Achieved: I beat my target pace on each interval.
My calves were already sore immediately after the workout.
Goal: 1mi wu, 8mi @ 6:45, 1 mi cd
Achieved: 1 mi wu, 8 mi @ 6:54, 1 mi cd
It was really humid, and thus was a really tough run. It took a lot of focus to stay on pace (more or less), and I wasn't sure I'd be able to hold it. I was pretty proud of myself for sticking with it, even I missed target pace by a little. BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop

Thursday, November 4, 2010

November 1 - 7

Monday: arrived in Pau, France for a training class. I spent the afternoon walking around town and checking out the sights. The town has some monster hills, and I actually got a pretty good workout just walking around.
Tuesday: Goal: mixed intervals, as usual
Actual: I was still running my warmup and looking for a good place to do speedwork, when I came across a group of runners. I followed them for about a mile (not particularly inconspicuously), and ended up talking to the guy leading the pack. It turned out to be the triathlon club of Billere, on their way to do a speed workout. So I joined them. Their workout was a series of "fractionnes" (intervals) on a 330m course. The idea was to run 10x 1 min hard, 1 min rest. The coach told me that the course took about 1 min to complete "if you're good". There were about 15 of us. Needless to say, I went out hard on the first one, and blew everyone away. I finished first on the second one, too. On the next three sets, the coach finished ahead of me, and on all of the sets after that, another guy did, too. I finished each set gasping for breath (and, I dare say, in worse shape than some of the others). After the workout, we did an acceleration up a half mile hill (8-10% grade), which Coach and I finished way ahead of everyone else, and I headed back to my hotel. Total distance: >6 mi.
PS: I checked out their website, and both guys who beat me in the workout turn out to have run 1:15 half marathons this year, and one had finished the London marathon in 2:33. No wonder I got my arse handed to me! PPS: the pace of our 330's turns out to be 4:50 min/mile (the slowest one I ran), slightly faster than my typical target pace.
Wednesday: I am ridiculously sore. Like it hurts to walk. It's mostly calves, but seems to hurt at least a bit everywhere. For some reason, its a different kind of pain than typical lactic acid soreness- it hurts!
Thursday: Goal: 1.5 mi wu, 5.5 mi @ 6:45, 1.5 mi cd.
Achieved: 1 mi wu, 5.25 mi @ ~6:50, .75 mi cd. My legs still really hurt. I wasn't sure if I should still run, but it seemed to get better once I was running (except the left calf, which I felt constantly, but which didn't seem to get worse). I stopped twice during the tempo, and both times getting myself going again was like pulling teeth. My legs are still really sore, and walking to dinner was an ordeal. Hopefully I'll be recovered in time for Sunday's run. BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Oct 18 - 24 (Aftermath)

So...  I spent the rest of the weekend recovering from my idiotic pacing during my 19 mile Saturday run.  I pulled something in the middle of my right calf, and spent the weekend wearing compression socks to (hopefully) aid recovery.  We drove to Austin to cheer on some friends in the Longhorn 1/2 Ironman, so I had plenty of time in the car to unobtrusively wear my silly looking socks (I don't have the sporty looking sleeves; mine look like knee-high black dress socks). 
Monday: HRTC Beerathlon (chug a beer, run a mile, chug a beer, run a mile, chug a beer)
Averaged 6:10 min/mi, even counting the beer chug in the middle
My right calf was hurting noticeably afterwards, so I decided to take Tuesday off.  Since I had a 1/2 marathon coming up on Sunday, I wanted to give myself some chance at recovery. 
I missed the group ride at work on Tuesday (meeting/injury), so I went out for a ride on my own on Wednesday.  I took it relatively easy, but did manage a 15 minute effort at around threshold power.  (probably not clever)
Goal: 1mi wu, 6.5mi @ 6:45, 1mi cd.
I made it through about 3.5 mi of my tempo interval (6:48), and suddenly felt something give in my right calf.  It hurt.  It felt suspiciously less pleasant than the "good" sore-muscle hurt.  I slowed up, and the pain wasn't nearly as prominent.  I ran about a mile at a slower pace (8:25), then gutted out 1.5 miles at a moderate pace (7:08). 
I am now very, very concerned about the calf injury, because it is clear that it has the potential to completely derail my marathon training, which had been proceeding so well.  Aaagh!
Rode the bike at lunch with my Thursday group (didn't want to miss riding with friends).  I took the ride pretty easy, but still was faced with pretty much constant calf pain.

I spent the rest of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday being nice to my calf.  Stretching, compression socks at night, the works. 

Sunday: Houston 1/2 Marathon.  Goal: 6:50 pace and/or finish without season-ending injury.  I went into this race very concerned about how my calf would hold up, and concerned that I would run through any issues that did arise, eliminating my chances of training well in the upcoming weeks.
Result:  It was hot and humid (78 deg, 90% humidity), and I started out on pace, but my speed quickly tapered off, and I found myself running consistently above 7 minute pace.  At mile 8 I developed a mean side stitch, that dropped my speed dramatically (I averaged 8:25 over a mile, pushing through it).  It took a significant emotional toll, as I felt my hopes for a great run completely shattered.  Eventually the stitch eased, and I finished out the last 3-4 miles at a 7:26 pace.  Result: ~1:36, 7:23 pace avg.

This actually was a PR for me, since I've only run one other half, and I ran it injured.  The real bright spot in an otherwise miserable race is that I finished with my legs feeling healthy.  This bodes well for the upcoming week of training, and I can't help but feel fortunate to have made it through the race without aggravating the calf injury or injuring something else.  I'll take being healthy over having a kick-ass race in this case.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Oct 11 - 17

Monday: 1000m swim
20 mile bike at lunch
Goal: 1mi wu, 2000m @ 6:45, 1600m @ 6:26, 1000m @ 6:12, 800m @ 6:02, 1mi cd
Achieved: 1mi wu, 2000m @ 6:38, 1600m @ 6:16, 1000m @ 5:58, 800m @ 5:48, 1mi cd (7:00)
Felt great. Killed it!
Goal: 1mi wu, 6mi @ 6:45, 1mi cd
Achieved: 1mi wu, 6mi @ 6:48, 1mi cd
Felt good! Huge sense of accomplishment from managing to maintain pace.
Goal: 18mi @ 7:40 - 8:20
Achieved: 19mi @ 7:55.
Today I was really, really dumb. First 4.5mi @ 8:48 (with the group), then was feeling pretty good; decided to aim for 7:15 pace, so 4.75mi @ 7:17. Slowed down to 8 min pace for 4 miles to talk with a guy in our group, then ran the last 5.6mi @ 7:35. Ran way too fast for my longest run in months, and regretted it the rest of the weekend.