Saturday, February 6, 2010

Coming down again

I am nearing the end of a recovery week and my body is thanking me. By Sunday, I will have run only 62 miles for the week with no, I repeat, no double workout days. I had forgotten all of the things I like to do when I don't have runs bookending my day with sleep topping the list. At the beginning of the week, I took some time to re-read the training schedule my coach sent me back in November. I do this periodically to make sure I am still following the plan since my memory isn't always so sharp. Here's the opening paragraph:

Are you ready to work hard?! Your mileage increases in both volume and intensity. I know you did a fine job on recovering hard before, but it will be even more important now to pay attention to the details to aid you in recovering the fastest as possible. In fact, recovery should be the main focus all day and night in between every workout. Every decision you make should be made based on what will help me run fastest and recover quickest.

Recovery should be my main focus. It probably hasn't been. Reading this paragraph over a few times helped me put things into perspective again. It made me realize just how much energy, mental and physical, it takes to make incremental improvements in performance. It's not just the hard work I do while I'm running, racing or in the gym doing strength training. It's keeping track of what I eat, making sure I roll my legs out regularly, the constant life planning I have to do to figure out how to fit these challenging runs in while still staying healthy. It can be really exhausting. Oh, and then there's the life that I have too: two jobs, dogs and cats, a Dissin' Genius to entertain, music, family (not in order of priority, btw)...

A brief rant:

Sam McManis, a local writer for the Sac Bee (he wrote this article about me before the Twin Cities Marathon), wrote an article about Matt Fitzgerald's new book Racing Weight.  He interviewed the author as well as a couple of local runners, including yours truly. I liked the article. The one comment that Sam received about the article came from some curmudgeonly runner that started his/her comment with, "No disrepect to Jaymee Marty or Mary Coordt, but…" Maybe this person isn't aware that those words don't actually mitigate the pejorative words that come next. I generally interpret that phrase to mean, "watch out, I'm about to completely disrespect Jaymee Marty and Mary Coordt and rip the writer a new a-hole."

The part of the comment that I thought was particularly interesting was when said commenter complained, "He seemingly quotes the same women in every article. As a 25-year marathon runner in Sacramento, I've met and become friends with many accomplished endurance athletes. Most of them are not full-time, professional athletes like Mary and Jaymee. And they come in all shapes and sizes, have jobs, raise families and have plenty of interests away from running. To quote only elite athletes who train obsessively misses the point, at least in my opinion."
Full-time, professional athlete? Wow, wouldn't that be great. I realize that this person is just a cranky pants (as exemplified in his multiple other article comments starting with "no disrespect to…"), but neither Mary nor I get paid to do what we do. We both have jobs and lives outside of running. As I pull my butt out of bed at 4:45 to run and repeat the cycle in the evening after working a full day, I think about all of the balls I'm juggling and barely managing to keep in the air. I sometimes question my sanity. I sometimes break down and cry from sheer exhaustion. And then, I sometimes spike the football and do a little dance when I see a glimmer of improvement in my running shine through the cloud of hard work. I do have a life outside of running, though I'm not sure I would argue with this person's characterization of my training as being obsessive.

So, back to my recovery:

Last weekend's long run was tough. I had my 7th rabies shot in the series last Friday morning and felt tired the rest of the weekend. As a result, I put off my long run until 2 p.m. Sunday when I absolutely had to get it in or miss out on a 101 mile week. My long runs always have a quality component to them, and this one was no different. I had 24 miles for the day (20 + 4). The 20-miler included 25 minutes at lactate threshold (LT) effort, a 15-minute easy recovery, followed by a pyramid 5k-10k effort section of 1,2,3,4,5,4,3,2,1 minutes with 1:1 recovery. I ran the LT effort at 6:04 pace and felt pretty fatigued at the end. I had very little energy heading into the 5k-10k effort pyramid, but managed to get through it averaging 5:49 pace for the repeats. I realized that my low energy level was likely due to a lack of fuel since I had only eaten oatmeal and toast before the run. While this would probably be fine for an early morning start, too much of the day had gone by for that to be enough food to fuel a 20-miler.

I had an engagement in the evening that included pizza, salad and cheesecake. I ate heartily, but had to hop on a treadmill at the gym at 8 p.m. to complete my day's mileage. My stomach luckily cooperated, greedily holding on to the mass of food I had deposited. I sure needed it.

The next few weeks of my training will see major hill work. I am presently using this blog post as an excuse to postpone my 16 miler that has me running up a hill for 7 miles at LT effort. This Valley girl will be doing that one on the treadmill, and I do not look forward to it.

Coming up Next week: My first cross country race where I'll be toeing the line with the likes of Shalane Flanagan, Sara Hall, Tera Moody and Magdalena Lewy Boulet. Boy, I hope I don't get lapped!


  1. Great article, busy woman beauty queen. :-) I loved that the best because I'm twisted like that. Congrats on all the great accomplishments.

    Excited to hear about your race next week, what an impressive group to run with. Fantastic. What would it take for you to become professional? Is there sponsorship for you if you qualify for the Trials?

    I'm having weird deja vu thinking you wrote you were on the cross country team for a short time when you were a kid. Maybe it was a year of track? The brain's starting to go.

  2. Flo, I should have guessed you would like that little skeleton in my closet;) I'm afraid that it is a true rarity for Masters runners to have sponsorship significant enough to make a living off of it. Qualifying for the Trials is a big achievement but doesn't come with any bonuses. Qualifying at the A standard earns you a free trip to the Trials but that's about it. I've never really thought that would be a possibility anyway. Plus, I do love my day jobs. I have a feeling I would miss the professional challenge.

    Good memory! It was track in the 7th grade. They had me run the mile a couple of times, and I did the shot put. I was probably all of 90 pounds chucking that shot. Funny. No cross country, though.

  3. You won't get lapped if the laps are big enough ;) Should be fun mixing it with the real 'full-time professional athletes'. Not sure what that commenter was on about - simple jealousy perhaps.

    And I think I'll stick to reading your blog, rather than wading through "Effects of Cattle Grazing on Diversity in Ephemeral Wetlands".

  4. Ewen, Thank goodness the laps are 2k. I think that will save me. I don't blame you for passing on my scientific writing. It is boring. It's actually very tough for me to write in science-speak. I'm always having to cull my personality from it.

  5. Jaymee: don't sweat the comments on It's better for one's mental health NOT to read 'em. There are some bitter people out there. Keep running.

  6. I know they say any publicity is good publicity, but having annoying things like that written can't be fun.

    I'm looking forward to hearing more about the cross country race.

  7. Thanks, Sam. I didn't sweat it really, just wanted to give it the obligatory rant. Poor you, though. He/she/it seems to like to bash you a lot. I guess you develop a tough skin after a while in the biz.

    RJR, it was more the presumption that I somehow had it easy that set me off. Come to think of it, I'm not sure even pros have it "easy".

    I'm getting a little nervous about this XC race. I need to try out my spikes soon!

  8. Jaymee, you rock! Good luck at the xc race, although you won't need it! Although my training is nowhere as gnarly as yours, I came down in mileage last week as well, and it was lovely not having to bookend my days with running. Same for this week too, although I'm not sure how catching the end of The Bachelor would ever be considered a better alternative...

  9. One thing about USATF's XC, I ran it years ago and was probably in the last 25% and had a blast. You will too.