Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Number 33

What’s so significant about the number 33?  

It is my 2009 world ranking in the marathon for women over 40 according to  That’s right.  I ran the 33rd fastest marathon time for women over 40 in the world last year (of course, they may have left out some smaller races, but it is the best available data).  According to the same site, I had the 5th fastest marathon time amongst U.S. female masters marathoners.  Crazy.  To think that I would rank in the top 40 in the world at anything that a lot of people actually do seems impossible.  I do rank second in the world (to the best of my knowledge) for the number of one-legged squats (84 squats) performed in a full vernal pool with fairy shrimp in a beaker balanced on one’s head.  But, only a few people have attempted such a feat, so that doesn’t really count.

When I was running my 13th mile on the treadmill last night at 8:30 p.m., thinking about how much it sucked, I thought about that number: 33.  I told myself, “this is what you have to do to be a world-class masters runner.”  I think the people flanking me on adjacent treadmills were thinking something completely different, as I became the human sweat sprinkler about 3 minutes into my workout.

My workouts have been getting tougher and faster this month.  I am in the speed phase of my training plan, and my legs are very aware of the shift in focus.  Strides, hill sprints and plyometrics all feature prominently in my daily runs as do a lot of repeats at 10k effort or faster.
Last Sunday, I ran 23 miles split into two runs (20 + 3). I was supposed to do this workout on Saturday, but a meeting in San Francisco carved 8 hours out of my day, leaving no time to fit in that much running.  I did, however, have time to drink plenty of wine Saturday night (I haven’t yet banned alcohol this cycle).  I was able, luckily, to sleep in Sunday morning, eat a nice breakfast and start my 20 miler at 11:30.

The workout planned within that 20 miles was a familiar one.  I had done it last summer in my build up to Twin Cities.  I love and hate having repeat workouts like this.  I love them because it gives me a chance to really compare my progress across training cycles.  I hate them for the exact same reason, particularly if I look back on the data and realize that I had a fantastic workout with paces that seem currently unachievable.
The last time I did this workout (blogged about here), I was farther along in my training cycle (13 weeks out from my goal race versus 16 weeks currently).  So, I conceded that my fitness might be lagging behind a bit.  My paces during that July workout were definitely on the quick side, so I was nervous about being able to match them this time around.  The workout included repeats of the following length and sequence in minutes: 1, 4, 3, 2, 1, 4, 3, 2, 1, 4, 3, 2 with half jog rests. For example, a 4 minute repeat gets a 2 minutes jog rest.  The paces (efforts to be more precise) were 10k for the 3 and 4 minute repeats, 5k for 2 min., and 3k for 1 min.  In sum, I spent 30 minutes at or faster than 10k effort.
The workout went great.  In fact, I was actually surprised that it was over when I finished the last repeat. Here’s how my paces compared:

July 2009 paces:          January 2010 paces:
10k: 5:55                     10k: 5:48             
5k:  5:40                       5k:  5:44
3k: 5:31                        3k:  5:23

I was especially pleased that my 10k effort was so much faster since the bulk of the workout is spent at that pace.  I now accept this as a harbinger of progress.

Continuing the 10k-effort theme of this training phase, last night, I treadmilled 13 grueling miles including The Rock Circuit with 3½ minute 10k repeats in place of the strides (like last week’s Tuesday workout only with longer 10k repeats).  This penciled out to be 11 x 1000m repeats with strength-building exercises in between.  I resorted to the gym because I didn't want to flop around on the ground during a rain storm.  The gym was full of resolutionists generating enough heat and humidity to provide climate control for a tropical greenhouse.  I was happy I survived but felt like I had lost about a gallon of water after 2+ hours of exercise.  I’m looking forward to doing this workout outside again over the next two weeks if Mother Nature cooperates.

If what I do seems a little crazy, and I hear that all of the time, I say, bring on the crazy. I want to make the top 30 in 2010!


  1. Wow. That is super impressive.

    Separately, as to Matt Fitzgerald's "Brain Training," I say pass. I'm going to write something up on it, but much of it is covered in "The Runner's Body" by the Science of Sport guys "with" Fitzgerald. It is well worth your $13.00.

  2. Thanks, Joe. You know how masters rankings mean a lot to old folks like me:)

    I'm glad you followed up on my question about Brain Training. I was thinking about getting it. I won't bother now since I did get The Runner's Body for Christmas. Can't wait to find the time to delve in.

  3. Amazing. You worked for it. Congratulations. Keep working!

    What specifically do you think the pylometrics/strength exercises are doing for you? Have you found they have any impact on recovery, meaning you've had to make adjustments to your run schedule now that you're incorporating that non-running work?

  4. Wow, that is some krazy kool number, fast woman. Seriously, awe-inspiring. And the comparisons of the repeat workout bodes wildly well for your race. Sheesh, you just keep getting faster and faster. I LOVE it!! Keep feeding us the speed and excitement, it's great stuff.

  5. Being 33rd is huge. Congrats! That must be such a good feeling. Slow people like me have to look to distances much longer than the marathon before having any chance at a number like that.

  6. Julie, Coach Nicole wrote this article ( about the benefits of the running-specific drills and strength work that I do in my training. The biggest benefit is in improved running economy though she lists injury prevention, superior warm-up and flexibility, improved running form and increased power as additional benefits.

    I have been doing these drills as part of my training for about 2.5 years. I do different drills during different parts of my training, and I do feel it during super long weeks. I can't quite explain why, but somehow, I always feel stronger and a little peppier after I've done them even when my legs are tired. So, they don't cut into my recovery.

  7. GIM, You rock. Thanks for your exuberant enthusiasm. It keeps me going!

  8. RJR, Thanks, and yes, it feels pretty damn good! Don't sell yourself short. You have far more ambitious goals than me.

  9. That IS a great workout, Jaymee! Someday I will try one cycle (maybe two if I'm lucky) of the 1,4,3,2. It actually sounds like a fun way to break up the monotony of a long run. I like anything that does that! And 11 x 1000m repeats with the rock circuit drills between... UH-MAY-ZING! Good stuff, Jaymee. Thanks for sharing. And I have a feeling you'll be in the top 3 fastest U.S. masters women marathon runners this year.

  10. Thanks, Glorybelle. You could do the full cycle of three, I'm sure. I've seen your training plan! Breaking up a long run is key. I can't remember the last time I had a long run without some fancy pants speedwork in there somewhere. I'm not sure what I would do with myself.

  11. Thanks, Jaymee. I'll take a look at the article -- and see if I can tear my coach away from eating shit out of a hat to also take a look.

  12. Jaymee, not sure if I'm looking at the same page, but I get 26th 40-44. I presume the year at the top should be 2009, not 2008? Interesting that you were just behind the fastest master in my city from the previous year - Jackie Fairweather (2:46:01).

    Nice improvement with the paces on those repeats. Certainly bodes well for something special in the marathon - not to mention the 10k and half.

  13. Ah, Ewen, you actually counted! Since I wanted to include all marathon times for women over 40, I had to add in those fast 45+ year olds. You'll notice that there are a few that kicked serious booty last year, including Coleen DeRueck with 2 marathons under 2:40. I also counted the times, and not the runners. There were two runners that each ran two marathons faster than me in 2009. So, I guess you could say that I was the 26th fastest 40-44 year old marathoner in 2009 as well as the 31st fastest masters marathoner. It's all in what you choose to include.

  14. Ah, that makes sense. Don't think you should count all performances in 'rankings' though. For example, in the 100m you could have Bolt with numerous performances in the top-20.