Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Bike Fit/Seat Height

Cycling and swimming are more complicated than running.  Lace up your shoes and head out.  We have been opining about form recently, but this is a recent obsession by a bunch of us who had been running for decades before we started worrying about heel strike/forefoot/midfoot strides and hip rotation.   Swimming has less gear, but small form breaks can have major consequences.  On the bike setup can make major differences, but every body is different.

Max has commented on Chris Froome's awkward position on the bike.  Lance Armstrong and Jan Ulrich had markedly different pedaling styles, though both were the best of their highly juiced era.

When I had my tri-bike fitted, I went to an extraordinarily talented fitter who prays at the altar of steep.  His goal is to set you up in the most "aggressively aerodynamic" position that you can hold comfortably.  I can't really argue with it.  At the group workouts I've attended, I've been among the faster riders.  At yesterday's workout alternating 3.35 mile laps hard and easy, I averaged 23 miles an hour for the hard laps. For folks who know Prospect Park, my fastest lap was 8:38.  My slowest 8:41.

But, and this is a big but, the setup has the seat at the high end of high.  This gives me a lot of power, but it also seems to be bothering my hip.  My road bike setup is considerably less agressively, with the seat lower and further back.  Instead of pulling up on the clips, I tend to pull back with my hamsgtrings.  This leads to a quicker cadence, less powerful stroke, but no kink in my hip.

The place where I really noticed the difference was on the spin bike.  Spin bikes never fit right.  The height adjustment is in 1/2 inch increments.  So, when I tried to set up the spin bike to match the tri bike fit, I lost my spin.  Last week I went back to my old setup, again, lower and further back.  All of a sudden everything feels better (including, knock wood, my heel a bit).

I'm wondering if I should drop the seat a hair on the tri-bike . . .

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I love "train less" advice

A new missive from uber-Coach Greg McMillan saying what we all know.  The hardest thing for me to swallow when I started working with a coach (in 2009) was that even though I could run three or four miles at [X] pace, I really should be running those miles at more like [X+20"].  The difference is not manifested in one workout.  The difference is manifested in 6 workouts, when I've done the prescribed track workout weekly for an entire training cycle and am feeling healthy, rested, and fast.

I say I swallowed that advice.  In truth, I've gotten it right a few times and not other times. I'm in a bad cycle with cramming in workouts and working very hard one day only to take the next day off because I'm too beat, so the Greg McMillan e-mail reminder came along at about the right time.  Hopefully in time to arrest this slide and get several good weeks in before the Ironman taper begins in mid-September.

I did not follow this guy's career . . .

but I just came across this paean to Mark Covert on Slowtwitch today.  You think Cal Ripken or Pete Rose were bad?  You a Morten Anderson afficionado?  Or maybe even Stefaan Engels?

Slowtwitch reports that Mark Covert has run daily from 1968 until approximately one week ago.  His average daily mileage in that 45-year period?  9.  A good hard workout for me represents this guy's norm for a longer period than I've been alive.

I can only think of one reaction.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Calves Like Cantaloupes

Did anybody else take particular umbrage at Rep. Steve King's suggestion that anybody with muscular calves might be a drug runner?

Sore Feet or Sore Knees?

I recently switched back to a pair of neutral trainers (Saucony something, I've had them for quite a while but barely wore them) after this latest foot flare-up. I'm probably jinxing it, but my foot is feeling better after a couple of weeks in PT. (Ted--see if you can find a therapist who is trained in dry needling. Not a miracle, but for me has been great at releasing tight spots I just couldn't get to.)  I do feel like there is more cushioning between my foot and the ground in non-minimalist-style shoes, but I noticed after a couple of runs that my knees have been aching in a way I haven't felt in years. I can't be sure that the shoe switch is the reason, but since I'm probably running differently (less on my toes), it does make sense. I feel like it's possible the knees could settle down after a few more weeks in the old shoes, but I don't want to feel like an 80-y.o. shuffling along anymore if I don't have to. I'm conflicted! And I desperately want to enjoy running during an upcoming long weekend in Deep Creek, MD and then in Cape Cod the following week.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

How long?

Becky, Philip, and Spencer have all had to deal with long layoffs due to injury.  I've had a couple medium layoffs due to tendonitis in 2010, and peculiar breathing issues in 2006.  The breathing doesn't count, because that came on mysteriously and vanished almost as mysteriously.  The rest of our injuries can be classified as mechanical overuse injuries.  Brought on by our favorite activity -- running.  My layoffs, so far have all been a matter of months -- a lost Fall or a lost Spring.  I dread the multiyear layoffs that Philip, Spencer and Becky have endured.

Right now, I am in the middle of what I will loosely call a case of "inflamed heel-itis."  It might be the achilles, it might be bursitis, and it might just be the back-side of plantar fascitis.  It keeps moving around, getting a bit better, and then getting worse again, as soon as I dare to test it.  Grumble, grumble.

I can run on it (as my NYC Tri post from last week will attest), but it's not pretty.  Walking is almost worse than running, as it seems to pull more on the achilles insertion point.  The one thing that seems to be helping is my two new pairs of compression socks.  I ran the race in them, and I've been wearing them as much as possible during the day.  At the end of a day with the socks, the hot spots are still present, but less acute, and much of the surrounding inflammation seems to have subsided.  Anybody else have experience with this?  Theories??  I'm looking for a quick miracle cure! Are they it??

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Best summer movie

Summer movies are supposed to be mindless fun.  Little wonder that exceedingly turgid big budget fare like RIPD, Pacific Rim, the Lone Ranger, the unwatchable Man of Steel, and numerous others this year have been humongous flops.  The answer to your summer viewing blahs is:


The Syfy channel produced the best way to waste two hours this summer for the "budget" of maybe one CGI sequence in the Hollywood flops.  A giant tornado over the Pacific sucks up thousands of sharks and then heads for downtown LA and Hollywood.  People scream, sharks bite their heads off, old people quiver in terror, and some people who are somehow related to each other fight back.  Climactic scene (spoiler alert) appears below the photo.

Dude who used to be on Beverly Hills 90210 jumps head first into a flying shark with a chain saw and cuts his way out and rescues his son's girlfriend who was inside the shark!  Words simply fail to describe how awesome this was.  Needless to say a sequel is already in the works.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Chicago Rock n Roll Half Marathon race report

I have never run this particular race before.  It always seemed a little corporatey and fakey.  But more importantly, it was always really really in the morning during one of the hottest stretches of the summer.  But this year I signed up to see if I am really training for a marathon or just screwing around.  Turns out I haven't done a half race for nearly three years.  So I signed for the RnR and the Chicago half in September in Jackson Park which is one of my true favorites.

My goal was a 2:15 which seemed reasonable given my spotty training and lingering injuries and would translate to a sub 5 hour marathon.  

My faculty colleague and co-blogger Matt Sag signed up as well as his first ever half on his way to running the Chicago marathon in October.  His goal was to break two.

Both goals achieved.

It was hot but not tragic at 6:30 AM on race day.  My wife was generous in driving me to within 2 blocks of the start at 6 in the morning.  The race has about half the runners of the full marathon and a much less intense vibe.  Much less public urination then usual.  The course is very similar to the full marathon course excluding the northern leg past Grand Avenue and much of the south-west leg.  Enough shade from the buildings to prevent too much heat build up until you hit mile 7 and head south on Michigan Avenue to 31st and then back on lake Shore Drive.  That plus high 70s took its toll but there was some breeze for most of the course so a very different feel from the killer marathons of 2007 and 2008.

The bummer was the crowds, or the lack there of.  A few family members here and there but mostly minions from the corporate sponsors with printed signs and pre-planned exhortations.  The bands were on the mediocre side but I had my headphones on most of the time anyway so it didn't much matter except when the bands were bass heavy. 

Good logistics made entry and exit easy for a change.  Caught a cab on Michigan avenue near the start and was home a little after 9 AM. 

I think a 2:14:58 with a 2:15 goal represents either good planning or massive OCD.  Congrats to Matt on a 1:55 half-marathon debut.  The Antitrust Marathon just added its next participant!


This is a great article about how market makers in aluminum are actually raising the price by exploiting their control over storage.  It reads like an antitrust exam, especially because it doesn't contain any antitrust analysis at all.  As the blogger who has not taught antitrust since the mid '90s, I want to issue a challenge to my colleagues to explain why the Antitrust Division is not all over this.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Why Paris is the best running city

See today's article in the New York Times. 

Max - So I guess they either stole our idea or we weren't actually ahead of the curve on this one.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Tip of the Hat, Wag of the Finger: Tour de France Edition

With less than a week to go, some themes are emerging in this year's 100th Tour de France.  So if Stephen Colbert cared about world sports perhaps he would give the

Tip of the Hat to:

Young American riders Andrew Talansky and TJ Van Gaardren who both have ridden a great tour and give hope to USA fans in a post Lance Armstrong world.

Nairu Quintana, a 23 year old tiny Colombian who, absent an accident, will win the white jersey for best young rider and may be on the podium in Paris at the end of the week.  An amazing climber who is able to hang with the best veterans at an early stage of his career.

Richie Porte and Roman Kreutzinger, the #2 guys on their teams who have made it possible for heir stars Chris Froome and Alberto Contadot to contend for the lead of the overall classification.  Each could probably be the #1 rider on most teams and probably will be soon.

Chris Froome, a strange stork like rider with the weirdest form of any elite rider, both a strong time trialer and a great climber, the probably yellow jersey winner in Paris.

Peter Sagan, a rare strong sprinter and pretty good climber.  Great attitude exemplified by riding a strong long break away on a mountain stage, and when he was eventually caught by the chase group, popped a wheelie in salute... on a 8% incline!!!

and a Wag of the Finger to:

stupid fans who insist on blocking the road for photos and running along and in front of riders while trying to pat them on the back or slap them on the butt as they labor up insane Alpine mountain passes.

Mark Cavendish, a one dimensional peevish sprinter who is basically a one trick pony.  If his teammates ride perfectly and set him up for a last minute sprint he will usually win.  This year he threw a shoulder into a competing rider on a turn near the finish of a stage and sent him sprawling into the run.  Then the next day was caught from behind by the fallen rider's teammate on the final sprint of that stage.  Rewarded for his troubles by a fan who doused him with a bag of urine giving him his only yellow jersey for the tour.

Chris Froome (yes him, see above) , threw a hissy fit because a competing team wouldn't hold back while he pulled over to the side of the road to pee.  Athletes who actually compete against their competitors chortle in amazement.  Also seems incapable of complying with tour rules regarding when you can and can't take on food and liquids and is allowed to get away with it.  50/50 whether he will become the Tour's next icon or the next Mark Cavnendish.

 Chris Froome

Monday, July 15, 2013

Race Report -- Mixed Bag

Thank you Max for the NYC Tri shout out!!  It was really a great day, especially given my limited training this Spring.   I placed in the top thirdish of my age group, and the top 11% for the bike.
As my NYC Tris go, though, it was a bit of a mixed bag.  I rode my fastest bike leg ever, and my slowest swim and run legs.   I'm not sure what I expected, given that my training sort of fell apart in early May, when I decided to try to let my left heel heal.  I've barely run since then, and my best friend has been a bucket of ice.  I did not expect much of the run, but given my new fancy bike, and some breakthroughs in the pool, I was hoping for a strong (for me) swim and a serious PR on the bike.

Unlike the bike the swim was a bit of a let down.  The swim in the NYC Tri is a strange animal.  The  Hudson is tidal, so the current varies depending on the relation between your start time and low tide.  Earlier starts get stronger current.   So you can really only compare your times to the folks in your wave.  Another peculiarity of the NYC Tri swim is that you can't do a warmup swim.  This is a big problem for me, as I take about ten minutes to get comfortable and warmed up with swimming in a wetsuit.    I have moved to a later age group start.  I used to be in the first wave of the 45-50s. Now I'm in the second wave of 50-55s.  The Clydesdales and the First Responders were inserted between, and with the new "time trial" start, everything went more slowly.  End result, expect less current.   The temperature was high, as was the humidity, so I put off zipping up the wetsuit as long as possible.  Then boom, jump in the water and start swimming.  I took off slowly, to get settled in.  Even though I've been skipping a breaths, and or breathing bilaterally in the pool, I found myself breathing on every stroke.  I also found myself veering a bit to the left, which took me out of the current, and then having to correct and swing back.   Then, too far to the right, and you got in to heavy traffic.  I was pleased, because I didn't freak out, or have to flip onto my back, but the swim was slow.  25 minutes, compared to 20ish in past years.  Or to compare with a flat water swim, I did Lobsterman in a little bit over 30 minutes, so I apparently was not adding a lot to the current, ugh!!

When I got to the bike, I was happy.  Max was right to label it the high point of  the day.  I pulled everything together in transition, and got out onto the road.  The new bike was great.  I was passing, and passing, and passing.  I did not have any trouble staying in aero for the full time. I was passed sometime in the first mile by some speed demon 35 year olds.  I let them go by, gave them space and took off after them. I stayed with them through the turnaround, and then lost them in traffic.  On the way back I backed off a bit, and set a nice even pace to transition.  Again, for comparison, my bike split in Lobsterman last year was 19.3 mph, yesterday I averaged 20.5.  I'm not in the same shape that I was last September, so the new bike gets some serious kudos.  I wanted to see if this was a PR, so I looked back to my 2009 and 2010 NYC Tri bike splits.  In 2009 I averaged 20.1.  This is pretty remarkable, given the equipment I was using. . . On the other hand, that year, I did much more tri-specific training.  I'd raced two sprints and two duos in the run up to NYC.  Still I'm impressed with my 2009 self.

The run was always going to be an ordeal.  I've barely run in two months, and my heel is still sore.  I ran in compression socks, which helped, and heck, how bad can a 10K be?  Well, it was hot. My legs were pooped from the ride.  I still managed to average a 9:30ish pace.  This seems ridiculously slow to me.  I usually run 8:30s in the back end of an olympic.  Last year at Lobsterman I ran 9s and was annoyed with myself afterwards.  This time, I'm really happy with the 9:30s I ran.   Everyone was dragging.  Even at that pace, I passed more people than passed me.  By mile 5, the heat had gotten to folks, and lots were walking.  I just kept my legs turning over, and slogged it in.

All in all, the day was a victory.  Two weeks ago, I didn't think I'd be able to do the race at all.  I did set a PR on one leg, and even though it was my slowest NYC Tri, ever, it was also my first race of the Tri season, and there's room and time for improvement.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Ted hammered today

Looking forward to hearing the blow-by-blow on this phenomenal race.  For those of you who have happily avoided the triathlon scene for the most part:  1:12 and change on the bike is moving right along at well over 20 mph.  That despite what appear to have been brutal weather conditions!

First run in the Noosa Lights

I got these new shoes a couple of months ago, not wanting to miss any offering from Asics that weighs 8 ounces or less.  That despite their being the ugliest single shoe I've seen off of a Vegas stage.

With the Brooks T7 on their last foam I pulled these out of the box.  They came with elastic lock laces, which I like.  They looked no better on my feet than they did in the box (or in this photo).

The first few miles were blah.  The shoes did what they were supposed to -- my feet didn't actually hit the ground! -- but not much else.  I was surprised to find that Asics, which makes two of my all time favorite shoes (the Hyper Speed and the DS Race), could provide such a flat offering.  On the other hand, I just today finished my taxes and we suffered today under 90+ degrees and soupy air, so I was sort of blah myself.

The run picked up a few miles in.  By the time I hit the shade on the Capital Crescent trail heading south from Bethesda I felt downright sprightly.  Maybe I didn't love the shoes, but they weren't interfering.

Just shy of 9 miles at a good casual long run pace.  I'll take it.  And I'll keep these shoes in the rotation.

Tour de France and antitrust

No, this is not my yearly rant about collusion between teams of allegedly competing riders. Just amused to regularly see a tv ad during the coverage for a racing team not in this year's tour co-sponsored by Hagens Berman, a plaintiffs antitrust class action firm based in Seattle with an office in Chicago.  For more on this highly competitive firm see  On the antitrust side, they are one of the lead counsel for the private treble damage e-book case.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Whole Midfoot Striking Thing

I've had foot problems off and on for months now (years, if you count a bout of plantar fasciitis). Things seemed to improve after physical therapy and some intense work on my tight calf, but after admittedly slacking off on the foam rolling, I'm having pain again. I've changed orthotics recently, but they are custom orthotics so they shouldn't be too different. I've also been experimenting with shoes a bit as alluded to in a comment on one of Ted's posts. I liked the first iteration of the Brooks Pure Project line but the 2.0 version just wasn't comfortable from the moment I put it on. Thus, I've been alternating between an older Kinvara and the Evo Cursoris. Could it be an issue that the Brooks Pure Connect is a "transitional" minimalist shoe and the Cursoris is a zero-drop shoe? I've done the majority of my longer runs in the Evos. This situation is also complicated by the (gross) fact that I end up sliding around in my sweaty shoes and socks on any humid run longer than 50 minutes.

Should I just forget the minimalist idea and go back to more shoe? 

In any case, the top of my foot is very sore and I am trying to keep myself off of Google. Thoughts from the more technically-oriented of you?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Guilty verdict

This surprised me (Apple ebooks).

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Best running song lyrics

Mostly I just listen to the music and let my mind drift away.  But two songs on my running play list have such incredible lyrics that they have made an indelible impression that I actually looked them up to make sure I got them right (not wanting to make the classic mistake of thinking the Creedance Clearwater Revival song was called "There's a Bathroom on the Right".

So my nominees for best running lyrics are The Decembrists Down by the Water which include these words to a driving beat reminiscent of vintage Springsteen:

 The season rubs me wrong
The summer swells anon
So knock me down, tear me up,
But I would bear it all broken just to fill my cup
Down by the water and
Down by the old main drag

Sweet descend this rabble round
The pretty little patter of a seaport town
Rolling in the water and
Rolling down the old main drag

All dolled up in gabardine
The lash-flashing Leda Of Pier Nineteen
Queen of the water and
Queen of the old main drag

and Death Cab for Cutie with the equally pulsing Soul Meets Body:

Cause in my head there’s a greyhound station
Where I send my thoughts to far off destinations
So they may have a chance of finding a place
where they’re far more suited than here

And I cannot guess what we'll discover
When we turn the dirt with our palms cupped like shovels
But I know our filthy hands can wash one another’s
And not one speck will remain

And I do believe it’s true
That there are roads left in both of our shoes
But if the silence takes you
Then I hope it takes me too
So brown eyes I hold you near
Cause you’re the only song I want to hear
A melody softly soaring through my atmosphere

I welcome your votes and additional nominations of songs with poetry and a beat that help you while away the miles while actually appearing to mean something.

Twilight Run

Golden Hour.  The fading sunlight reflecting off the downtown high rising and changing by the minute.  An awful hot humid day incrementally turning into merely uncomfortable.  Hundreds of volley ball players stretched out over one half mile of the beach.  Last fifteen minutes guided home by the flickering of fireflies.  Can't remember why I don't run in the evening more often during the long summer days.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Bike Shares

Ted blogged a while back about bike shares in Brooklyn.  There's a opening brief, several opposition briefs and a reply in the NYT Sunday Review today titled "Cycling in the City"; the thrust is that one writer thinks the emphasis on cycling is creating an unholy mess and most of the others think he is a dinosaur from the diesel age.

I've been surprised at the unmitigated success of the bike share racks here in DC.  The bike lanes through mid-town are a little harder to gauge -- it sure is confusing when driving, but I never drive downtown, so perhaps it just takes practice.

But for a city like DC, which is prevented from taking revenue from out-of-district commuters, heavily emphasizing bikes is sensible economic policy.  NYC's story is more cloudy.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

UnAmerican Sports

This is my favorite time of year and NBC Sports (formerly Versus) is my favorite cable channel.  Wimbledon. Tour de France. and coming in August English Premier League Football.  Just awesome, particularly as the Tour enters the Pyrenees for insane climbs at the end of 200 kilometer rides.  Thrilling to watch Nairo Quintana the young Columbia take the first big climb of the tour summiting at 6500 feet altitude, a mere three thousand feet below the altitude of the town in the Andes where he grew up.  Then even more amazing watching Chris Froome (the favorite) and Richie Porte (the second best rider on Froome's team) overtake Quintana and finish one/two on the second climb at the end of the stage to also go one two on the leader board for the overall tour.  This is the only sport that makes me tired just watching it.

And to complete my un-American Fourth of July celebration, I am taking the family to seeing an international exhibition featuring Lionel Messi, plus some indefinite number of international stars play an exhibition match in Soldier Field with various ex-college folks to round out the teams.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Grousing about Triathlon

I've spent much of this year grousing about triathlon (for example . . .)  I've more or less concluded that this is the last year I spend the time and money signing up for and participating in this Franken-sport.  A short list of serious gripes:

1.  It's expensive.  The triathlon equivalent of a 10K -- the Olympic distance -- is a $95 event for a small race and can run into the $200 range for a big production like the Nation's Triathlon.  (Ted, how about NYC?)  That's before the gear, the travel, and the training requirements.  (Running?  I can find expensive marathons, but the par for a half marathon or shorter is $50 or less.)

2.  It's a pain in the neck.  Even for a local race I have to commit the entire weekend to getting gear together, showing up early to rack the bike and to let somebody write on my legs and arms with a permanent marker, racing, and rewinding all of the above.  For a remote race think more like four days.  (Running?  Except for silly permit requirements on federal land, it's the norm for me to show up the morning of, to sign up, and to race.)

3.  Training is a pain in the neck.  Basically I train for two different sports.  (Swimming comes along for the ride.)  I can run a marathon PR on ~40 miles/week of run training.  An ironman requires that same run mileage plus ~150 miles/week on the bike, and then some.  Because of the onerous training requirements, there is a huge premium on quality over quantity.  Note that does not mean training is made any easier.  Quality can briefly be described as "whatever is most uncomfortable to you at the time."

4.  The sport is very top-down.  Every race I run is certified in some way by USA Triathlon.  I need to be a member of USA Triathlon to compete.  The problem is that USA Triathlon is an abysmally run outfit.  I've now signed up twice this year and will need to fight with that organization to have my second membership refunded.  I look forward to the day when the major promotors separate from USAT entirely.  (Running races frequently are certified by USA Track and Field, but that organization imposes much less in the way of direct obligations on participants.  My guess is that most races would be perfectly happy without USATF certification so the governing body has minimal leverage.)

5.  Triathletes tend to preen.  The gear is pretty.  Uni-suits are bought to match bicycles.  I know at least one guy who paid big money for custom paint work on his helmet.  There's a whole lot of talk about whose position is most aero.  Amazingly, those factors can overcome raw race times -- many the athlete has worried more about a monster bike split than s/he has about the overall time.  (Running:  have you ever heard somebody say "sure, she's faster, but she's a heel-striker so it doesn't count."?)

There may be more serious complaints.  There are certainly myriad comedic ones.  Perhaps you all can help to hold me to this:  after Timberman (August), Nation's (September), and Lake Tahoe (September) -- barring my qualifying for a championship event -- I'm done at least until the end of 2014.

And the winner for the Waller fall marathon is ...

the California International Marathon,  December 8th, Sacramento.  Why International?  Who knows?  But a gentle 400 foot descent over the length of the course.  And Max approved!  Plus I can do my long runs in the late fall instead of the heat of the summer.  Just hope I make it to the start line in one piece.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

New Personal Worst

I never even liked 5Ks when I was doing regular speed work. Today was a good reminder of why they are even worse when your body doesn't have another gear. I drove far into the suburbs of MD to run at the same pace I ran my ten-miler in the spring. Yes, it was ridiculously humid, which has always bothered me, but I just couldn't get into race mode. It was like I was moving in slow motion. I'm trying not to let it get me down...but it's always an ego blow. Will use it as a baseline to see if I can teach my body to change gears.

Happy 4th from the nation's capital of humidity!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


My s-i-l A__ shared with me this story about a number of high performance endurance athletes' shift to the "paleo diet," which emphasizes higher-than-normal amounts of fat and protein and lower-than-normal amounts of carbohydrates.  The general idea seems to be to train your body to run on fat (for stamina) and to consume protein to maintain muscular strength (for explosive power).  I'm tempted to say "ugh, another fad" -- but (a) it makes so much sense, (b) Dave Zabriskie,Tim Olson, and Simon Whitfield make pretty good spokesmen, and (c) let's get real -- high carbs was a fad once, too.  Part of my interest is in the line about putting off the effects of aging -- I noticed my first gray hairs just the other week.  One more thing:  if I read this to mean that I can carry beef jerky instead of gel packs when running, I'm sold regardless of performance benefits!

Anyway, I've ordered the book.  One more volume for my shelf of partly read "improve your athletic performance" how-tos.

Monday, July 1, 2013

The New Normal

I'm not sure where I fit in exactly among the other authors of this blog--given that I'm neither an academic OR a lawyer--but I was honored when Ted welcomed into the inner circle. I suggested that maybe we could broaden the meaning of the blog's name to include not just "profs" but "professionals." I may not be a professional runner, but I do have a full-time job and I run. 

Ted and I spent the summer of 2005 training together in the early mornings. I was a full-time grad student spending the summer in Brooklyn with my husband...whose mom happened to be dean of BLS. Although a freak squash accident prevented Ted from getting to the starting line of NYCM that fall, I think we both agree that our summer training regimen got us into pretty good shape. 

At that time, I was running 60-75 miles per week and getting to the track every Wednesday night to work out with CPTC (and my Boston club once I was back up there). I was so hard on myself when I felt sluggish or had a bad workout, but I would have appreciated what I had far more had I known that I would develop a bad knee injury shortly after PR-ing at Boston the next spring. We graduated and moved back to D.C. and I tried everything I could to fix my knee--including finally having arthroscopy to clean it up in April 2008. 

Things improved, but I never felt like I was back to where I had been. I was spinning more than I was running and I wasn't completely pain-free. I just kept thinking it would take more time. Then I got pregnant and had a baby (and a C section) in early 2011. Despite my best intentions, my ability to run during pregnancy was limited and it was a very long road back that next year. And I never could get back to the days of 8 minute pace being easy pace. 

Even though I harbor secret thoughts of getting back some speed in time to become a masters runner, I am slowly but surely accepting the fact that a slower me is the new normal. I did a ten miler, my first race since Boston 2006, this spring--and I ran 8 minute pace. And it didn't feel easy (but it didn't feel that bad, actually). I'm learning to test myself again and trying to introduce some "speed" work when I don't have some niggle or another. A lot of it is on the treadmill, something that I still find unpalatable but would have found inconceivable 5 years ago. But getting in my run inside is better than not getting in my run at all. 

I do not enjoy 5Ks (more so now that it takes me about that long to warm up) but I think I'll be doing a low-key race on July 4. I also signed up for the Parks Half-Marathon, and my goal for that is to (to paraphrase a recent interview with Shalane Flanagan) is to "embrace the discomfort."

Mom loves the treadmill!