Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The rest of the story

After my long post on Sunday where I chronicled what I thought caused my cross country meltdown and what I was going to change to get back on track, I realized I left out a big piece of the puzzle.  I listed the workouts I had done for the 7 days leading up to the race, but neglected to look at what I had done for the other 22 hours in the day for those 7 days.

Sometimes, I forget that a schedule that looks good on paper may not work out in real life.  This was certainly my thought going into last week.  I thought it was serendipitous that a work commitment coincided with this race and that I would just be able to hop from my big meeting in Seattle to Spokane and run my little race.  As an example of how ridiculous this plan was, I give you my schedule for the 48 hours leading up to the race (the rest of the week was similarly packed):

0445 - wake up
0515 - meet girlies and run 10 miles (w/cutdowns)
0700 - walk dogs
0800 - check e-mail/work
1000 - conference call
1100 - work
1400 - conference call
1600 - pack
1700 - drive to airport/eat dinner incl. 2 glasses of wine to take the edge off my nervous-flyer nerves
1900 - flt. to Seattle (+1 glass of wine to cope with this "flight attendants please take your seats" flight)
2100 - arrive in Seattle
2145 - catch train to downtown Seattle
2300 - check in at hotel
0000 - sleep (off and on because the d-bags in the room next door were getting their party on)

0500 - Wake up
0530 - Run 6 miles on treadmill
0700 - breakfast and coffee
0800 - all day, very interactive meeting begins--work through lunch
1630 - walk to train station
1700 - catch train to airport/dinner
1830 - flight to Spokane (yet another white-knuckler)
2030 - Arrive at hotel, chat with runners, unpack
0000 - finally get to sleep

My point here is that just looking at my running schedule for the week was a small part of the picture of how stressed my body was.  I simply was trying to pack too much stuff in and pushed my body to the limit.  I actually think I might have had a chance at a good race, even without a taper, had I experienced relative rest for at least the two days leading up to the race.

I am actually glad I had the bad race when I did, because it is clear that I needed to make some adjustments.  Without hitting a low like that, I might not have taken the time to reflect on the simple things I could adjust to improve my performance and recovery (more sleep, recovery fueling, alcohol consumption).

As I mentioned in my post-race post, I plan to continue my training as scheduled.  I ran 8.5 slow miles on Sunday and 10 easy miles on Monday with hill drills.  Yesterday was my first real test: 21 miles total, split into 5 miles (incl. 3 x 150m cutdowns) + 16 miles (incl. 1 mile at goal marathon pace and 12 x 3 min. hill repeats @ 10k effort w/3 min. jog rests finishing w/10 strides).

I really didn't know how I would feel running the 16 miles in the afternoon.  I started outside and quickly launched into the GMP mile wanting to get it over with.  I guess I anticipated I would crash and burn, but I felt great at a 6:08 pace for that mile.  I jogged back to the gym and hopped on a treadmill to knock out the repeats.  Of course, my treadmill boyfriend, Tready, was occupied by a man walking 25-minute per mile pace, so I started out on one of the inferior machines.

I had decided ahead of time to start at the speed and incline combination that I ended my last tempo effort hill workout on and ramp up from there to keep it interesting.  So, I started my first repeat at 4.5% incline and 8.5 mph.  After the first two repeats, I cranked it up to 8.7 mph.  During the 3rd repeat, I glanced back and saw that the old guy was about to dismount Tready.  I quickly hit the big red button on my machine, grabbed all of my stuff and sprinted over to my love.  I have to give a shout out to Mark (that's right isn't it?) who not only knew my name and said, "hi" to me as I sprinted by, but understood why I was preoccupied with getting that treadmill.  He knew that his name was Tready (well, he thought it was Teddy, but close enough).  That made me feel a little silly, but also made me smile.

So, I continued the workout and felt awesome as I cranked up the incline and speed incrementally, ending on 5% grade at 8.9 mph for repeats 11 and 12.  This is supposedly the equivalent of ~5:30-5:40 pace on flat ground (if you believe Daniels' charts).  Then, I went back outside and cranked on some strides feeling super strong at sub-5:00 pace for the last few.

That was probably the strongest workout I've done this training cycle, and I think I needed it to get my head back in the game.  One other change I'm making that may be of interest is to run my easy runs a lot easier, like 8:30 pace versus 7:30-7:45.  Aside from saving a few minutes of time, there's no good reason to beat myself up on my easy days particularly with the volume I'll be putting in over the next couple of months.

I have another mammoth hill run this weekend: 23 miles including 8 miles run up a hill @ LT effort.  This time, I will get to the gym early enough so I won't have to fight for my dear Tready.              


  1. i do think that gals like us, who are freaked about flying, do best when we avoid that stress as much as possible. i'm sure the stress of flying did not help you at all (coupled with the other stressers you had). glad you are back in the game. though i will admit... i don't know how you keep track of your workouts the way you do. you have so many elements within one workout... i'm sure i would lose count of where i was with everything!
    anyway... good luck with your 23 miler this weekend. i too have 23 on tap for the weekend... though i have major apprehensions about it, for different reasons then you did for your long run this week. i don't know if you saw my FB post last week, but i tripped and fell and haven't been "right" since. my knees are effed up big time. i'm training through it with lots of anti inflammatories and icing, but honestly i'm not sure if i will be able to heal up for eugene or not. :(

  2. That's a revealing 'between-the-lines' from the race report. You're burning the candle at all three ends!

    Hope Tready is there for the 23 miles (+8 uphill!). Also, I vote 'yes' for the easier pace on easy runs.

  3. Congrats on saying bye to yesterday and getting back to yourself so quickly, great workout for doing that. Have fun on that hill workout - sounds like hell on earth, so why do I think you'll enjoy it?

  4. Have you ever had a bad race?

    I mean this quite seriously. And not a race where you were a bit slower than you hoped. I mean a race that was so slow that your shadow finished five minutes before you did.

    And what's a "5J"?

  5. J --
    A-ha. There's your problem! You shoulda blown off the conference! I mean, what's a job compared to our running, right? Where, like, are your priorities?

  6. So that means that the next time I run onto you on the trail and you are doing an easy run too, I won't be looking at my watch when I get home and wondering why I ran a 7 mile pace two days before Stampede?

  7. *into. I doubt I can run onto you.

  8. t-meat: It is amazing how much of a stress flying can be. I am glad that Eugene is within driving distance. I missed the post about your fall. So sorry to hear that. I hope you're feeling better and are able to get that 23 miles in pain free.

    Ewen: thanks for the vote of support for the slower paces. That, coupled with my new recovery drink (a can of slimfast) will really help, I think. I'm looking forward to a a good long run, but only 8 will be with Tready. I will definitely head outside for the rest!

    Julie: You pegged me.

    GIM: Because I'm crazy like that?

    Joe: Interesting question. I'm not sure about that. The race last weekend was pretty close to the worst I've ever felt. That one and the Marine Corps Marathon in '08 where I was in 2:50 shape and ran 2:57 stand out. Interestingly, many of the same factors were present with both I'm not sure those qualify using your criteria. I tend to be pretty consistent and try not to race when I don't have at least a chance at a decent race. A 5j is a a 5k light (short by about .05-.07 miles).

    Sam: Good point. I need to talk to my boss:)

    Dave: If you did run onto me when you saw me on the trail, that might slow both of us down.

  9. Jaymee,

    I suspected as much. You don't do outliers unless there's something specific to which you can point. The point of that is that if you take away the unique or at least unusual element -- and I think the sudden-impact of cross is the main factor (and especially, and ironically, because of your background having run hard and fast stuff on the surface).

    Just want you to keep this in perspective. Getting more sleep would be good. Less alcohol before a race. Hectic things can help in burning off a lot of nervous energy.

    I should note that I think a marathon is more susceptible to being out of line with races from HMs south.

  10. I didn't get a chance to read your last post until just now when I also read this one. The good part of that is that I got to see right away that you bounced back quickly with a strong training run. I have no idea how you survive on 6 hours of sleep a night with the workouts you're doing. Of course it's easier said than done, but getting more sleep seems like a good course of action.

    Also, I enjoyed your comment about running past Ryan Hall. I had the same moment in Central Park a year or so ago with Kara Goucher running the other way. By the time I realized it was her, it was too late to utter a hello or anything.

  11. Joe, I think I'm missing the point, maybe because you didn't finish the sentence--you got stuck on the cross-specific factor, which I concede may have had a minor impact. I think our brains like to try to find the short list of factors that create that unique crash situation, but sometimes it's a smorgasbord of factors. That's clearly what happened to me.

    About the nervous energy: I had none for this race. I mean zip. I doubt that it was because the hectic schedule burned it off either. I just couldn't get my brain to embrace the race as important enough to get nervous. I suppose that was another contributing factor.


    I think it's now clear that I can't survive off of 6 hours per night. I sort of knew that all along, but I guess I needed the hard lesson to do something about it. Very cool about the KG encounter.

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