Sunday, August 29, 2010

2 seconds

Wow.  I had to change up my photos after seeing this one from Randy Wehner.  Thanks for the great photo Randy! 
I ran the Race for the Arts 5k yesterday and legitimately bested my previous PR of 17:55--by 2 seconds.

The race was part of a long workout that started with the 5k race, a short  cool down, 3 miles at goal marathon pace and a bunch more easy miles.  My total mileage would work out to 22 miles.  This is a big workout that had me just a little afraid.  My coach, before she left for Europe to compete in the World Mountain Running Championships, told me not to be afraid to ditch the long workout if my sore right piriformis wasn't feeling better.  This week was a recovery week, and my butt got somewhat better as I came down in mileage. However, I could still feel the tightness when I woke up Saturday morning.  The last thing I wanted to do was aggravate it even more, but I've also had some luck running a hard race with tightness like this and had the pain completely disappear soon after the race.  

It's tough going into a race knowing that I have a workout afterward.  There's a sort of tug-of-war that goes on between a devil that wants me to push harder and a nymph that reminds me that I need somewhat fresh legs to be able to complete my workout without suffering miserably.  I thought about this tension when I set my goals for the race.  Setting a PR was not one of my goals.

It was in this same race last summer that I ran my faux PR of 17:33.  I raised a ruckus because the course was clearly short even though it had been measured by a trained course measurer and certified by USATF.  I looked at the course map on the race website and it was the same certified course as last year, so I had every reason to believe it would be short again.  I decided the best thing to do would be to compare my Garmin-calculated paces (not actual splits) for each mile with last year's race and hope to be a little faster or at least no slower.

So, I had my paces from last year in my head as I crouched behind the starting mat, ready to take off.  I took off with a bunch of boys and felt like we were running super slow.  When I checked my Garmin, we were right around 5:20 pace, so I knew it was just the adrenaline talking and slowed down.  About 1/2 mile into the race, a fellow Air Force officer asked if I wanted to draft off of him.  He seemed to be out for an easy run, and I shook my head vigorously yes.  I paced off of him through mile 2 when he started speeding up.  I was clearly having trouble hanging on to what was a pedestrian pace for him.  He turned and looked at me before he sped off saying, "You don't want to run alone, do you?"  I didn't, but I couldn't hold his pace any longer.

Within a few seconds, I heard a heavy breather on my left and looked over to see my competition, a much younger runner who sounded like she was going to keel over at any minute.  Nonetheless, she shot by me decisively, and the lead bike went along with her.  I remember looking at her pass and thinking, "hmmm…I should probably go with her.  There she goes.  Maybe I should go with her.  Hmmm."  She quickly put 5-7 seconds on me and held that lead.  I'm not sure if I just was born without that competitive gene or if my lack of competitive fire comes from not having raced or competed before I was an adult, but this is a really typical response for me when faced with competition (*I divulge to all of my competitors*).  When someone passes me like that, my first instinct is to cheer them on, "Good for you!"  Rarely does it ever inspire me to kick it up a notch.

Or maybe, at some subconscious level, my brain was remembering all of the shenanigans I needed to put my body through after the race and decided it wasn't worth matching this youngster for a few seconds off of my race time.  Whatever the reason, I let her go and paced off of a couple of guys for the last 3/4 mile.  As I rounded the corner for the finish, I wondered whether I would be surprised at my time on the clock like I was last year when I saw 17:30, 17:31….  This year I saw 17:50, 17:51…and crossed at 17:53 (chip time).  I looked at my Garmin and she read 3.12 miles.  Perfect.  I talked to the race director later and asked whether she had changed the course.  She said they remeasured and re-certified it.  So, kudos to Fleet Feet Event Management for taking the feedback from last year to heart and taking the time to make an accurate course for the runners that care about such things.

How did my paces compare?

Last year                       This year
Mile 1:  5:37                 5:38       
Mile 2:  5:46                 5:40
Mile 3+:  5:58               5:50

Based on those paces, I was 10-15 seconds faster this year than last year.  I can't complain about that.

My path from William Land Park to bike trail mile marker 2 and back (17 miles RT)
As soon as I finished the race, I grabbed a half of a banana and a chocolate chip cookie and headed out for another 17 miles.  There's a great bike path you can jump on about 1/2 mile from the park where the race was held.  It runs along the Sacramento River, into Old Town Sacramento, Discovery Park and on and on for 30+ miles through Sacramento and Folsom along the American River.  Had I planned it out, I could have just run home from there, all on bike trails.

I cooled down for about 1.5 miles and then started my goal marathon pace (GMP) work.  I ran at 6:10 pace and that felt fairly easy, probably because I had just raced for the same distance 20-25 seconds per mile faster.  Nonetheless, I was happy to have GMP feel doable once again.  My hip started to bug me around mile 12, but I kept at it determined to get in the full day's mileage.  The last few miles, I just thought about sipping a hot cafe au lait while sitting in the American River icing my legs.  Once I finished, I picked up my coffee at Peet's and retired to the river enjoying the cool water on my tired legs.  I found a secondary activity to enjoy while sitting there: aquatic invertebrate surveys!  I only know a few of the critters, but it was fun to try to find water boatmen, caddis flies, mayflies, water mites and other little creatures lurking about.  

For whatever reason, my legs feel better than ever today--much looser for having done all of that work yesterday.  As I said at the beginning of this post, this is not the first time this has happened to me.  In fact, I'd have to say it's more the rule than the exception.  When I'm feeling niggles or even outright pain somewhere in my legs or feet, sometimes the solution seems to be giving them a good fast, hard run in racing flats.  I don't know what it does, but it works for me sometimes.  It worked for me yesterday and I feel ready to finish off this marathon cycle with six more solid weeks of training.        

Thursday, August 26, 2010

"Don't overtrain"

Those were the Miracle Worker's parting words to me as I left his office yesterday.  He had just used his elbow backed by his entire body weight to squish the gristle out of my right piriformis muscle.  I screamed like a banshee as he proclaimed, "there we go" and wandered off to get some ice.  Before he ordered me not to overtrain, he told me that I was right on the edge.  He said I wasn't quite there yet, but I needed to be careful.

I sort of laughed when he told me not to overtrain and made some quip like, " if I knew how to gage that."  His simple comment made me think a lot about what it means to be overtrained and how I might go about preventing this state.  I found it helpful to define overtraining with the help of Wikipedia.
Overtraining is a physical, behavioral, and emotional condition that occurs when the volume and intensity of an individual's exercise exceeds their recovery capacity.  
Reading this definition was a kind of breakthrough for me.  I have always thought of overtraining as simply running too many miles at too high an intensity.  My initial reaction, in fact, to the MW's statement was to think about backing off my mileage for the upcoming weeks.  Of course, what determines how many is too many miles is how effective your recovery is.

I think being in a close-to-overtrained state according to the MW is probably right on for where I am (and need to be) in my training program right now.  I am pushing the limits of my running mileage, intensity and strength training, and I can continue to push that upper limit as long as I tend to my recovery needs.  I just completed my hardest training weeks of this marathon cycle in terms of volume and strength work and my body is definitely worked over.  My wise coach included a recovery week in my plan for this week so I can reap the benefits of all of that hard work.  I take my recovery weeks very seriously because I know that it is in these weeks that my body is becoming fitter, not the weeks when I'm breaking it down with the hard work.

I think the key to avoiding an overtrained state in the upcoming 6 1/2 weeks is to make sure that I take care of all of the little things to maximize my recovery.  These include nutrition, sleep, stretching and icing/compression.  I've certainly run this kind of mileage before and done just fine.  I have also sabotaged my hard training by not providing my body what it needs to recover.  The build up to the Eugene Marathon last winter was my best example of what not to do.  I was trying to complete the hardest marathon training program I had ever attempted, work two jobs including travel, maintain a social life and do all of this on 6 hours of sleep per night.  At about this same point in my training program, my left achilles said, "Oh, no you don't."

So, I'm watching my nutrition very carefully right now including my iron levels.  I am super supplementing in hopes that I can increase my iron stores above and beyond the amount of iron I'm losing in my hard training.  I'll have that checked again for progress next week (4 weeks after beginning my higher supplementation regimen).  As much as it pains me, I'm forgoing my early-morning runs with my girlies most mornings in order to get more sleep.  I have such a hard time getting to bed before 10, but that's what has to happen if I want to get up at 4:40 to run with my girlies.

My ice bath: compliments of the American River.
As for icing and compression, I have been trying to jump into the American River after my longer, harder runs to help with recovery, but I'm also icing my butt as per the MW's instructions.  I've started wearing my compression tights to bed, and yes, it is as attractive as it sounds.  I typically wake up at 3 a.m. and find myself wrestling them to the ground because they just get too damned hot and uncomfortable.  Finally, I am rolling out the kinks with my massageballer, doing yoga a few nights per week and some simple stretches throughout the day to keep my body as loose as possible.

I am running a race on Saturday: the notorious Race for the Arts 5k.  Last year it was a 5J.  I'm not sure if they've changed the course to make it the full 5k distance.  If not, I can always compare my time this year with what I ran last year as a benchmark.  After the race, I get to tack on a few more miles to total 22.  Next week, I'm back up to 95 miles before I begin a long, slow taper to October 10th.     

Fashion update:  I've added a bit of flair to my hair with a fierce Anna Pierce racing stripe.  Chicago, here I come!

Friday, August 20, 2010


Meb recently wrote about the importance of day-to-day maintenance for runners in this article.  The bottom line seems to be: skimp on the little stuff, and you will find yourself either injured or at least not running to your potential.   So, I thought I'd mention one of the things that has been the key to me staying healthy and out on the roads.

Jenner asked in a recent comment what the deal is with the TPMassage Ball.  The manufacturer's website has a lot of information about their line of massage tools, but I thought I'd explain how I use the set.  I basically work on my legs with the toolkit and follow the instructions in the booklet that comes with the Ultimate Six Kit.  I do my rolling in three steps.

Step 1:  I work on my calf muscles in three ways.  I start by using the Footballer and Baller Block to roll straight on the achilles and soleus as shown in this picture.  I start at the heel and work all the way up my lower leg.  The motion, as described in the instructional materials, is a quick and short roll back and forth to slowly inch up your leg.  I then turn my lower leg slightly so that I am rolling the inside of the calf, targeting the gastrocnemius again starting at the heel and working up the leg.  Finally, I turn the leg slightly out so I'm working the outside of the soleus and gastrocnemius.  When I hit a good knot, I always settle in for a spell to try to work it out by just rolling back and forth.  Every 10-20 seconds I spread my toes apart and roll my ankle which seems to get the blood flowing and help release tension.

Step 2.  I use the Quadballer to work on my quads and IT band.  I do this in a similar was as the Footballer in that I start off straight down the middle of my quad (top photo), moving from the knee to the hip, slowly inching my way up.  I then position myself part way between the two positions shown above, so not quite straight on but also not completely sideways.  I work the roller from knee to hip.  By far the most painful roll out for me is on my IT band.  You pretty much work directly on the band again from the knee up to the hip.  When you get it right, you will yelp with pain.  A good kind of pain, of course.

Step 3.  I don't always use the ball that comes with the kit, but lately I've had a knot in my piriformis that this little monster can really dig into like nothing else.  I basically just plop my butt down on it, starting out like the woman pictured above and try to find the spot that's knotted up.  Sometimes, I recline onto my elbow so that I can get better leverage.  I don't think there's a right way to do this one.  You know when you've hit the right spot.  I can't explain why this ball works better than a tennis or other kind of ball, but it does.

All of this rolling takes me about 20-30 minutes depending on how much I have to work various body parts.  I usually do it at night, after I'm done with all of my running for the day and typically while watching TV or listening to podcasts.  I've had the kit for 3 years now, and I can safely say that the $140 investment was well worth it.  I would not be running as well or as consistently as I do with out.

A question for you

Finally, I wanted to ask a question of others.  When I first started running I had a personal trainer that also did massage.  I would get massages about once per month from him.  I haven't had a massage since I stopped working with him, about 3 years ago.  I have always seen the TriggerPoint system as a cheap, but effective alternative to massage.

So, I ask you, what are your experiences/feelings about the importance of massage?  I recognize that the right massage therapist is key, but I wonder if I am missing something by not getting them regularly.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Running 101

For whatever reason, I've always thought of myself as a high-mileage runner.  I recognize that this is a relative term, but I had somehow inflated my mileage in my mind to believe that I eat 100-mile weeks for breakfast.  In fact, I've done exactly 3 weeks of running totaling 100 miles or more, in my life.  My highest weekly mileage came last year leading up to the Twin Cities Marathon where I ran 102 miles.  When I investigated a little further, I found that my first ever 100-mile week was in March of 2009.  I've done maybe twenty, 90-mile weeks.  Regardless, there's a certain mystique that comes with logging that 100th mile in a week that makes you think you've really accomplished something special.

This is a 101-mile week and will be my highest mileage week leading up to Chicago.  It was originally scheduled to be 82 miles in a training plan that topped out at 86.  My coach kept the volume low for this plan to be safe given the fact that I became injured during my last marathon cycle.   I negotiated the mileage upward for the entire training cycle, promising that I would back off if I felt too tired or had concerns about becoming injured.  I reasoned that the last cycle was anomalous and that I had successfully navigated high volume for several other training cycles without getting injured.  I also believe that I'm trying to achieve something big which means I have to be willing to take some calculated risks to achieve my goal.  There's a big psychological aspect to this, of course.  I need to feel like I have trained as hard as I can and that I am indeed fit enough to run 2:45 or better in Chicago.

Since I seem to be on a roll disclosing the daily drivel of my life, I thought I'd show you how 101 looks over the course of the week.  Before I go there, I wanted to share an interesting episode from the movie Effin' J Goes to Visit the Miracle Worker.

For the last few weeks, I've felt soreness in my right butt cheek and tightness in my left foot.  I get these kinds of niggles in my heaviest mileage weeks, so I am unconcerned.  However, I also want to make sure that the niggles don't turn into injury due to lack of attention.  So, I scheduled a visit to see the Miracle Worker on Wednesday.  As I lay on the table, he picked up my feet and twisted them in and out and asked what was wrong.  I told him about my yin and yang right butt/left foot problem.  He said, "Well, of course. Your left side is completely locked up."  My left side is always completely locked up.  He proceeded to yank my left leg nearly out of its socket and manipulated my left, then my right hip.  He asked about my shoes and I mentioned that I had been working on a couple of pairs that had gotten pretty worn out.  He indicated that was a problem too.  I lamented the fact that I now only safely get 200-250 miles out of my shoes.

I then asked him about my car.  When I had my achilles injury, I hated driving my manual transmission car.  It killed me to depress the clutch, and it seemed like I was doing it hundreds of times a day.  That got me wondering about whether this action, which was only being experienced by my left leg, could be the reason my left side is always locked up.  When I asked Lino about this, without even blinking he said, "how far back is your seat.  Can you drape your wrist over the steering wheel without your left shoulder blade losing contact with the seat back?"  Who knows to ask these questions? I told him I press in the clutch with my left toes, and he just shook his head.  He explained that I am using my entire leg, including my left hip to press in the clutch rather than just an easy press of the lower leg.  Now that my seat is properly adjusted, I feel like a granny, but I can see a huge difference in the muscles I use to get the clutch in.

I then wondered how many "reps" I was doing with the left leg and not the right.  I counted the number of clutch depressions I made on a round-trip drive from my house to the Trader Joe's about 4 miles from my house driving all on city streets.  105!  I pressed in the clutch and let it out 105 times in that short drive.  I can safely say that I press in the clutch 1000 or more times per week under normal driving conditions.  The obvious fix is to get an automatic, and I might if I didn't have the best car in the world already.  Well, and I don't want to spend the money to buy a new one.  So, I'll try out the new seat adjustment and see if that helps some.  At least I know the source of at least part of my problems.

Here's what my week's workouts looked (will look) like:

Monday, Aug 9
6:00 PM:  10 mile moderate run (7:50 pace) including 5 strides and 2 x Everest Hill Drills 

Tuesday, Aug 10
5:15 AM: 16 mile total moderate run including 1 mile @ GMP (6:09 pace). Full recovery then 10 x 3 min hills @ 10k feel (5-5.5% grade; 8.7-9 mph) w/3 min jog rests. Finish run w/10 strides
7:30 PM: 5 mile easy run (8:01 pace) including 3 x 150m cutdowns
8:30 PM:  30 min. of rolling using Trigger Point Massageball (TPM)

Wednesday, Aug 11
5:15 AM:  8 mile jog (8:26 pace)
6:30 PM: 45 minutes of weights and strength training
8:00 PM:  Roll with TPM

Thursday, Aug 12
6:00 AM: 6 mile easy (7:53 pace)
7:00 PM: 11 mile moderate run (7:35 pace) including 10 x 45 sec’s @ 3k effort (5:00-5:15 pace) w/45 sec jog rests
9:00 PM: Roll with TPM

Friday, Aug 13
5:30 AM: 10 mile easy run (8:11 pace)

Saturday, Aug 14 (scheduled)
11:00 AM: 3 mile jog (8:04 pace) 
6:30 PM: 22 mile total moderate run (7:07 pace overall incl. hills) with 60 min run up a hill @ LT effort (4.5% grade, 7:03-7:13 pace)
10:00 PM:  Roll with TPM

Sunday, Aug 15
10:30 AM:  10 miles easy (7:42 pace) followed by a soak in an icy river!
PM:  45 min. strength training
PM:  20 minutes Core Workout
PM:  20 minutes Yoga for Runners 

The good news is that I don't recall ever feeling this peppy at this point in my past marathon cycles.  Of course, I haven't run for an hour up a hill yet.  We'll see how I feel tomorrow! 

UPDATE:  It's tomorrow.  I just finished 101 miles, and I'm still feeling peppy!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Genetic gifts and booby prizes

Self portrait of me and my Mom at the park.
A man asked me the other day after hearing me perform in a concert and learning about my running success if I felt guilty for having so many gifts (he asked this just before he asked me out, so take it for what it’s worth).  I think I gave him an “awe shucks” response and probably blushed appropriately.  He is right that I have been blessed with many amazing gifts, and I cannot deny that good genes play a major role in my running success.  But, I have been awarded some booby prizes too, and I was reminded of a couple of them last week.

I completed my two-week annual military tour with the US Air Force last Friday.  During my annual tour, they do a cursory physical assessment to ensure I’m fit to fight.  The assessment includes a blood panel, and I always ask for an iron test, specifically a serum ferritin test, since I struggle with low iron stores.   I consider this tendency toward borderline anemia to be one of those genetic booby prizes.  I have posted about this previously, so if you want more details, please refer to my bitter irony post from last year.  

In 2007, my levels were low (12 ng/ml), and it took me about 6 months of iron supplementation to recover to the point where I felt good training hard again.  It took even longer before I was racing well.  I have been pretty consistent about taking my iron supplements, but about 6 months ago I started to take the iron every other day to see if I could get rid of some of the nasty side effects (plumbing back up, stained teeth) that come along with it.  I had my ferritin levels checked around that time and they were 27 ng/ml.  As my coach put it, they were dangerously low since the general rule is that a reading below 20 can affect athletic performance.   So, I needed to be taking more, not less of this stuff.  I was in Whole Paycheck one day and noticed that they sold a plant-based product that promised it would not back up my system like I suspected the ferrous sulfate elixir was doing.  I bought a couple of bottles and took double the recommended dosage daily.  My test results last Friday showed my ferritin levels had dropped down to 21 ng/ml on this new supplement.

While I am training well right now, this low level is likely affecting me in some way whether I feel it during my training or not.  I do know that I will really start to feel it if I drop any lower.  I have already switched back to the old ferrous sulfate elixir and am trying to eat at least one meal with red meat in it per day.  I am so grateful for having this test done when I did.  I just hope that I can increase my iron stores sufficiently as I continue to train hard over the next couple of months in preparation for the Chicago Marathon.

The blood tests also revealed that my total cholesterol is holding steady at just under 200 mg/dL (193), but my "bad" (LDL) cholesterol is over the magical limit of 100 mg/dL (104).  The good news is that my running keeps my "good" cholesterol (HDL) level high at 69 mg/dL.  I know that having higher than optimal LDL levels doesn't mean that I have a huge risk of heart disease or anything like that, but it does make me appreciate how diet and exercise don't seem to affect my LDL reading beyond a certain point.  My levels have been much higher in the past with total cholesterol pegging out around 240 in my early 20s.  But, they have never gotten lower than they are now.  One of the main reasons I originally switched to a low-fat diet (among other dietary changes) was to lower my LDL levels, and it worked.  However, they just won't seem to drop below 100 regardless of what I try, and maybe they don't have to.

I bring all of this up in the context of the discussion that's taking place regarding weight and nutrition in my blog as well as others'.  Restricting caloric intake will certainly lead to weight loss, but I have to be extra careful about getting the proper nutrition.  I track some of the nutritional components of my diet and am always shocked to see just how little nutrition is in a lot of the foods I eat, even fruits and vegetables.  Of course, when I add these nutrients up over the 2300-2800 calories that I eat daily, I generally get the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) proffered by the USDA, but that's really not saying much.  For many of these nutrients, like iron, vitamin D and calcium, I wouldn't even hit the RDA without supplementation because a lot of my vitamins and minerals come from fortified foods like Clif bars, oatmeal and vitamin water.  That's sad.  I can't imagine maintaining a hard workout schedule eating much less than I do right now.  

So, I think about these things when I make food choices.  I look at the cookie under the glass at the coffee shop each afternoon and know that I CAN eat it if I want to in terms of my caloric balance.  But, I also have to question what I won't be eating that might be healthier for me if I do indulge.  The term empty calories has never had more meaning to me than it does at this point in my life.  I am certainly not saying I am a Saint when it comes to avoiding junk food, but I do recognize the trade offs in my food choices now more than ever. 

This week's lab test results were a wake up call.  I was reminded that while I might be meeting my goals according to the numbers on the scale and my reflection in the mirror and even enjoying some great workouts, counting grams of carbs, fats and proteins without paying attention to the rest of the nutritional content of my diet might be doing damage to my body.  This type of damage occurs over a longer timeframe than a typical marathon training cycle.  It's also something I probably won't see until it's too late and presents itself as a random, persistent niggle or even in the form of injury, illness or disease.    

"As someone has remarked, if you are what you eat, it seems the average consumer consists mostly of thickener, water, salt, and sugar."
Harvey Blatt, 'America's Food' (2008)   

Monday, August 2, 2010

Fessing up

While reading some of my posts from months past, I realized that I haven't always been completely honest with you, dear readers, about how my workouts have gone.  I'm not sure why I didn't include all of the details in them, like the fact that I took numerous "water breaks" during my intervals.  I guess I was either embarrassed about admitting that, even to myself, or I had fooled myself into believing my own excuses for why I needed to do this.

I divulged this dirty little secret a few months back and admitted that I had been hiding behind the average paces I was reporting for my workouts.  While overall averages may fool most, my Garmin charts don't let me forget that I did indeed stop and walk during an interval. You may recall that I set a goal in that particular post that I would follow the RWYCH (pronounced R-witch) principle from then on out.  This stands for run what you can hold and is in response to my proclivity for taking short breaks during my long intervals because I can't hold the pace that I'm running.

I believe I've made the point before that this doesn't seem to have compromised my fitness much if at all since I still ran a 2:46 marathon using this run-with-a-teensy break training method in most workouts last summer.  However, I hypothesized that I was probably compromising my mental training by allowing myself to give in to the urge to stop mid-rep.

I have been slightly nervous about resuming hard marathon training considering I was unable to train for a couple of months due to injury and then spent most of the time once I returned to training focusing on short-distance speed.  For some reason I thought my body wouldn't remember how to run fast over the long distances.  So, this past weekend's 22-mile long run was going to be my first real test to see what kind of marathon shape I am in.  Note, this wasn't a formal test, just something that I had concocted myself.

I looked back at my Garmin Training log from last summer and found that I did basically the same workout on August 15, 2009.  So, that would be about 3 weeks farther into my marathon training program.  I blogged about this workout here.  While I talked around the issue of stopping for water breaks, I never came out and said how many I had taken.  The workout looked good on paper: 4 x (3 miles including 2.75 miles at goal marathon pace (GMP) and .25 miles at 10k effort) with 5 minute jog rest in between.  I went on about how hot it was when I started the workout, so I HAD to stop for water.  I patted myself on the back for averaging 6:16 pace for the GMP and 5:45 for the 10k effort.

I left out the 8 water breaks that I took during the intervals (2 per repeat); yes during the repeats, not in between during the actual 5 minute jog rest.  I imagine a few of them were necessary to get through that much GMP work on a hot morning, but I know that many of them were not taken at an actual water fountain.

So, my goal for this weekend's long run was: try to maintain the same paces as last year, but don't take as many breaks.  For me, this meant less than 2 breaks per repeat, but of course, no breaks was better.  Why didn't I set NO water breaks as my goal?  I believe in taking baby steps and recognize that old habits require time to overcome.

Saturday's workout was 3 x 3 miles, so that was one repeat shy of last year's workout.  However, I had a total of 22 miles to run this time versus 17 miles last year.  I decided to set out at the same time of day as last year, but I wanted to be able to have water at the right spots along the course so I wasn't tempted to stop during the interval.  So, I did my 3-mile repeats back and forth on a section of the American River Bike Trail that has two water fountains about 3 miles apart.    

I won't keep you in suspense here.  The workout went amazingly well.  I held 6:12, 6:14 and 6:18 pace for GMP and then kicked it down to 5:45-5:49 for the 10k effort in the last quarter mile of each repeat.  So, how many water breaks did I take?  Only ONE!!!!  That one break came 2 miles into the last GMP repeat when I allowed myself a 20-second stop to get my act together and finish off the rest of the repeat.  I was so excited that GMP felt this doable this early in my training cycle.  I have mentioned many times before that GMP rarely if ever feels like something I could handle for 10 miles let alone 26 even in the last weeks leading up to the marathon.

So, things are definitely looking good for this training cycle so far.  My mileage is on a steep uphill climb right now having completed 82 last week, doing 88 this week and 101 the next.  I am going to be one tired pup.  But, today I am still savoring a minor victory.  Next time, I'm going for broke: no breaks!

Sunday, August 1, 2010


In response to a comment from Jenner regarding my last post on weight, I decided to reveal a little more information about my eating habits and how I track my nutrition.  To track my daily caloric balance, I use a web-based tool called mynetdiary.  This is a free program if you use the internet version.  I also have it loaded on my iPhone and iPad so I have access to and can input my information at any time.  This makes it much more useful for me.  The big drawback to this system is that you can't access the information if you don't have an internet or 3G connection since all of your data is stored on the web.  I don't find this to be particularly problematic because I generally hang out in places that at least have a 3G or Edge connection.

Here's a screenshot of last Monday's food input to give you a feel for the information that is tracked.  

And here is a sample of what I ate Tuesday and Wedensday of last week.  I don't vary my diet much, so these are pretty representative.  You can see that I don't deprive myself of snacks either.  Remember that I have been on a gluten-free diet for the last 2+ weeks.  I actually discovered the root of my gastrointestinal grumblings quite by accident and corrected that about a little over a week ago.  I also had a blood test done to determine if I was allergic to any foods, and that all came back negative.  While I have felt much better these last couple of weeks, it appears I no longer need to avoid wheat, gluten and dairy.  I started adding them back into my diet again yesterday and feel good so far.

Tuesday, July 27 (total calories eaten = 2495 carb-fat-pro ratio 62:24:14)
Exercise: Ran 10 miles moderate
40 minutes of Strength training 
Breakfast (500 calories; 82g carbs/2 g fat/20 g protein)
1 cup non-fat yogurt
1/2 cup gluten free granola
small banana
16 oz. non-fat latte w/splenda

Lunch (445 calories; 49g carbs/20g fat/14g protein)
2 fresco crunchy tacos from taco Bell
1 serving baby carrots
20 edamame crackers
2 tbsp. sun-dried tomato hummus
diet coke

Dinner (651 calories; 120 g carbs/7 g fat/29 g protein)
1/5 total meal of pasta bean toss

Snacks eaten throughout the day (899 calories; 135 g carbs/35 g fat/23 g protein)
2 Larabars
20 cherries
coffee with half and half
1/4 cup trail mix
1 cup fat free frozen yogurt

Wednesday, July 28 (total calories eaten = 2793 carb-fat-pro ratio 68:19:13)
Exercise: Ran 16 miles moderate including 10 x 45 seconds @ 3k effort/60 seconds jog

Breakfast (527 calories; 105g carbs/3 g fat/23 g protein)
1 packet oatmeal complete, plain flavor
small banana
16 oz. non-fat latte w/splenda
30 cherries

Lunch (443 calories; 77g carbs/11g fat/13g protein
2 Trader Joe's black bean and corn enchiladas
30 baked blue chips

Dinner (651 calories; 120 g carbs/7 g fat/29 g protein)
1/5 total meal of pasta bean toss 

Snacks eaten throughout the day (1172 calories; 190 g carbs/40 g fat/30 g protein)
2 Larabars
1/2 cup Orange juice
small bag of Trader Joe's lite kettle corn 
1/4 cup trail mix
1.5 cup fat free frozen yogurt
2/3 cup raspberries
1 tbsp. light chocolate syrup