"It's a little self indulgent..." - My mom
"After I read a sentence, I get mad at myself for caring what you're doing." -Karl Dusen

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Out of the pool and onto the roads

Thursday morning, (March 1) I PRed for aqua jogging with 2:30. I did about an hour of biking in the afternoon, then set off on a path that evening that left me too tired to even think about waking up early on Friday to get to the pool.

When Saturday came along, I thought about the smell of an indoor swimming pool and figured I would take my chances running, rather than risking having the smell of chlorine torment me. It felt like it had been months, rather than 12 days. That said, it had been 18 days since I had run from home, the longest I had gone since living here. I went off on an extended Idylwood and felt great, going a little too fast in the beginning (11:45 for the first two miles) and tried to balance my excitement that I was running again with some restraint. I ended up averaging 5:58s for 6 miles.

I took and nap and went right back at it- a reverse extended Westmoreland, ended up averaging 6:30s or so. That first run was a little traumatic, though my quads felt like I had run a marathon earlier in the day. Afterward, I had trouble walking down steps and off curbs.

I had to work at our legislative conference the next day, which meant lots of standing around and little relief for my sore legs. When I got home, I started on an Irvin, switched onto Cottage from Gallows and came back from Vienna on the W&OD, my quads basically numb. It was pretty soon to do a long run, but I got in 14 miles at 6:27 pace.

Monday I ran from the Chevy Chase store but got lost on the route I planned and ended up heading to the Line, then the Western Ridge Trail and back to the store for 9 miles. The quads felt better.

I felt pretty miserable Tuesday, so I took the day off.

I had no idea what I would be able to do when I got to the track Wednesday. I decided to just give the workout a shot and see how it went. The goal times for 8x800 meters were 2:32, 2:30, 2:28 and 2:26. I started in the back of the pack for most of them, and frequently moved up throughout, so I ended up fast for all of them- 2:30, 2:29, 2:27, 2:27, 2:26, 2:26, 2:24, 2:23. I would have liked to have done two more, because Saturday's Van Metre race was a last-minute adventure to give me the feeling of racing I didn't get when I scratched the RRCA 10 mile, but I wasn't feeling like those additional 800s would be successful. As soon as I was done, though, my whole body started feeling awful, and my quads, fine during the track work, were now in terrible shape. Things didn't get any better during a long meeting afterward, and I soon felt pretty cruddy.

Thursday I knew something was going wrong, but I was always just able to keep going. Karl and Mike wanted to run in Vienna,and I wanted to give it a shot, so I went out there to meet them. We kept about 7:00 pace out to Hunters Mill and headed back, but then stopped for gyros on Maple. We walked back to the cars while eating, and when we returned I was pretty cold, despite the sweat drying. I changed into long clothes and went to the Metro, then started shivering violently. I got home and took a hot shower, hoping to stabilize my temperature, but it delayed for a while before shooting way up. I went to bed hoping I could somehow just get a few hours of rest for this all to calm down. I felt like I was on the brink of death until I got about two straight hours of sleep. From then on, it was on and off, but the fever was gone. I realized I was no longer in danger of dying, so I started thinking about my next priority- the Van Metre race, where my participation could affect our team prospects.

When I woke up, I decided to see how running would go. I started with a lap around my complex, but 1:15 in, I was walking and heading back in. I started thinking about when I had felt that bad before. I recalled 2010, right before the Monument Ave 10k, when I had to take a day off, and I realized I wasn't suffering from a cold I had caught from one of the county officials visiting for the legislative conference, I was getting hell from the pollen that was hitting the air earlier this year, thanks to the unseasonably warm weather. I then got a lot more confident that 24 more hours of recovery was all I needed and that I would be able to race Van Metre after all. I went to work and took it easy, then came home and rested some more.

When Liz Elk-oh-yeah and I headed out to Ashburn in the morning, I felt dramatically better. I still had no assurances I would perform the way I wanted, or even be able to run more than 75 seconds, but it was a beautiful sunny day and I was going to a road race, so that was enough for me. Breezy would be able to pick up the slack if I died or something. Then I got a call from Karl- he was headed out to run after all.

The three GRC men went out for the warmup and I was thrilled to be able to go much more than 75 seconds. I wasn't feeling great, but hopefully I could grind out a decent five miles.

I managed to hit the bathroom once more and get to the line, where the crowd looked a lot smaller this year. Also, the start was moved back about a block, which was odd. We got started, slowly. I was in the lead, despite taking it pretty easy. Two Thopians were hanging around. I stuck next to Karl for about two more minutes, then realized how quickly the pace could escalate, so I dropped back. The wind, which was so bad during the warmup, was calm as we wound up a lot hill during the first mile. They went through in 5:15, me in 5:24, and I was pleased with that. I figured I would crank it up in the last three miles. I was in no-man's land pretty soon. I hit the second mile in 5:32. I was hoping to be a little faster, just because I wasn't going uphill anymore. I hit the long out-and-back hill and tried to push, but felt my quad aching return and disable me to a point. I had a little trouble making the turn, I tried to follow some barrels that went the wrong direction. I tried to hammer down the hill, but my legs weren't responding and my lungs weren't helping. After what seemed like forever, I hit mile 3 in 5:44, and I wasn't happy with that. I was starting conservatively and getting slower. It was worse after 4- 6:01. Jesus...  and I was smelling lobster, so I was going all out for that.. So much for not losing much fitness. I cranked it a bit in the last mile and finished with a 5:34, but it took a lot more than it should have to run that fast. 28:17, pretty bad. Very bad. I tried cooling down my my quads weren't having it, so I headed back and stretched. The results were all fast- they said I ran 27:47, but my watch would seem to be the right source for the duration of my race. It was disappointing, but again I was glad to be able to run. Breezy, Maura, Susan and I all won $50 gift certificates to the Glory Days Grill, so we went there for breakfast. It was generally low-grade dog food, but it was free. I did six miles on the Seaton loop that afternoon, which went decently well, though not thrillingly.

I figured the best way for my quads to recover on a run was somewhere soft, so I went out to the Pimmit Run Trail. I was determined to finally get to the downstream portion. I tried to get there once last summer, and wound up just running a few laps around a nature preserve before heading back. I skipped it this time and went right to the street from which I could apparently find the trail -- Maddux Lane -- and took a chance on a sidewalk-like path that lead me to a stream. With a few jumps over some rocks, I was on the other side and finally exploring the downstream portion. It was a lot softer and I was thrilled to see where it went. It eventually dumped me off on a private drive off of Kirby with some ridiculously nice houses, then led me back to a trail when eventually ran parallel to the northern portion of George Washington Parkway, which I have always thought would be just the greatest place for a trail. Unfortunately, I had to turn back and head home because of time constraints, but that also means I get to explore more, later. I planned to do a second run that evening, but instead, I didn't.

Monday evening was the second day of extra light in the evening, and I headed out for an extended Oak loop with a few fast miles in the middle. The first came a little more than two miles, once I hit Shreve Road. I started off pretty smoothly, but evidently came through the half in 2:32, much faster than I expected, and finished the first mile in 5:09. After looping around 29 and Gallows, I got to Cottage and let loose, splitting 2:32 again, but facing a long uphill afterward. I managed only 5:23. The next mile was going to be much worse- a long stretch on Oak, but then turns and a steep uphill. I stopped when I hit the beltway for a half mil in 2:40something. By the time I got to Idylwood Park, I had to go to the bathroom, which rendered my last mile useless, and I stopped after a minute and jogged home.

Tuesday after work I ran around Hains Point. The pollen was a little rough, and I was struggling for most of it, averaging 6:47s and not feeling like I was moving that fast. There was some isolated rain when I was on the east side.

Wednesday night didn't promise much. I felt wrecked and was coughing up most of what was in my lungs during the warmup, and I felt beaten before I started. I joined the weekend racing group for nothing too taxing- miles, however many we wanted to do. The first was 5:30, and it was pretty rough. We went 2:50- 2:40, but the 2:40 actually didn't feel so bad. 5:25 for the next one,and that got better. Then I led through 5:20 and 5:15, before Miler offered to take us though 800 at 78 pace. We almost hit 79 for the first, then 79.99 for the second, with me passing in the last 50 to take the lead. Then I went 70 and finished in 72 flat for 5:01, and suddenly I was feeling a lot more optimistic about my Cherry Blossom chances. Back in early Feburary, I was looking at sub 52. That might be out of the question now, but I can still run a fast 10 miles if I am under control early on. Now almost two weeks after coming back from my time off, I realize it haven't lost too much, but I'm nagged by my allergies. If I follow my pattern, though, I should be adjusted very soon. The next 13 days will be big for me- I need to nail my long workouts, get plenty of rest and recover well.

I met up with Jarrin Thursday morning for some time on TRI, my first trip there since 2010. It was good to catch up with him and hear what's new, the most notable thing being the impending first birthday for Iris. I got about 12.5 miles in, and given the quick turnaround from the workout the night before, I was pretty happy with that.

Friday night I headed out to McLean High School for the Spider workout, but grew worried when I saw the packed parking lot. When I got around to the track, I saw a crowd watching a lacrosse game and headed home. I was a little light headed by the time I got a mile away, and I declined to make an attempt at doing the workout on the road.

In the morning, I got up and headed to my office, the last place I'd want to spend Saturday morning. Luckily, it's in the right place that I was able to drop off dry clothes and head out to the National Marathon course. I ran out to the Ellipse and waited for people to come by- Marco, with Burnham in tow, Murph, then Breezy and Lavar. Then I headed up to mile 10 near Capitol and M and waited for them to all come by. I was heading back to my office to fill in the rest of my time when Lisa Sikora popped up out of nowhere- her dad, Joe was running and we were evidently right on time to see him. I ran a few blocks with him then finished up about eight miles before I headed over to see Murph, Breeze, Panther and Beth as they started their St. Patrick's Day celebrations. I went home for a nap, then did a Park++, though on my way back, a driver forced me into a car's sideview mirror and my forearm started swelling like a mother. I ended up getting 80 miles for the week.

Sunday morning, Dickson and Emily picked me up to go up to BCC for a long workout. We met up with Dickson's friend Stefan and headed off on a 16.5 mile run through Chevy chase, Northwest, Rock Creek Park and Bethesda. From the very start I was feeling like I was hanging on, because Stefan definitely liked to push the pace, but as the run progressed, I found myself up there with him, somewhat consciously trying to take the pressure off of Dickson, whose real work would begin when we got back to the track.I enjoyed the loop, which gave me a chance to see some of the neighborhoods where I will be running once I move (I liked them) and once we entered Rock Creek Park, I truly enjoyed Ross Drive for the first time, perhaps because it was the first time I was running it without a banana-toting chap in tow. I eased off a bit when we hit the trails near the Line, but got back into it shortly after. We got back to the track in 1:45, changed shoes and started a 10k. Dave O'Hara was there to help, and I'm glad he was, because I could be of much help to Dickson at that point. I hung on the back of our little pack as we went through the mile in a little under 5:35, but on that fifth lap I just fell apart and stopped. Considering my longest run in more than a month had been the 14 miles I did on my second day back after my layoff, getting to 17.5 was enough of a stretch.

I was disappointed to not be able to do the meat of the workout, and hung my head a bit while trying to watch Dickson run a solid 33 minute 10k. It seems to me like he'll be ready for Boston. I ran a while longer to get 20, then had a few burgers and a chocolate milkshake to prepare me for the mild consequences of what I had done to myself. I was pleased to feel none of the soreness in my quads that had been plaguing me. I hope this would be a big step toward eliminating that pain which I feel could affect me in long races; it certainly did at Van Metre. That evening I did an easy three miles.

Figuring I was already on pace for some significant mileage this week, I stripped down my Monday evening run to a progression and cooldown for a little more than seven miles. I did my usual loop, designed for 10 minutes at 6:00 pace, 10 at 5:45 pace and 10 of up to 5:00 pace, though I was planning for more like 5:10-5:15. It was warm and a little humid, but far less oppressive than my alarmist protege had warned. My right hamstring felt a little odd on my way home on the metro  but once I was dressed to run and ready to go, it didn't hassle me. I came through the half mile in 2:40- 20 seconds fast, the mile in 5:25- 35 seconds fast, and reached the end of my first segment a minute early, so I ran in circles until my 10 minutes were up. The 5:45 segment was 8 seconds fast at the half, 15 fast at the mile and not sure about the next intermediate point, but I was 30 seconds fast for the whole segment. The uphills on Virginia and Barbour helped temper me a bit, but I was definitely faster than I needed to be. On the fast segment, I hit the half+ in 2:32 pace, then the mile+ in 5:05. I think I slowed a bit when I had to start crossing streets in Falls Church, but I finished up feeling great (and likely hitting two miles in 10:10-15) and took a nice slow jog to get home, completely soaked with sweat but not minding too much. I have some solid miles coming up Wednesday, hopefully a good moderate run or Spider workout Saturday and some cruise miles Tuesday, then it's time to rest and get ready for Cherry Blossom.

Where my season will go after that, I'm not exactly sure. As long as I run something decent, I'll send it off to the Pittsburgh Half people to see if I can get a comp. I have a feeling I likely won't, so then the options spread out:
A.Convince the Pittsburgh people to let me pay to run, despite the race being sold out
B. The Frederick Half
C. The LEAD Strong Half in Maryland, on a trail
D. The Maryland Half Marathon, all May 6, or
E. Try to get into the St. Luke's/Runner's World/Lehigh Valley Half in late April.

or, I could do two halves, a few weeks apart, starting with the
Park to Park Half in Waynesboro, then
A. the Historic Half in Fredericksburg (May 20),
B. the Run to Dream Half in Williamsburg (May 20),
C. the MAC Half Marathon in Maryland, or
D.the Alexandria Distance Festival Half. (May 27)
or....Cleveland (May 20)

Those late May races could be pretty warm. The Alexandria course looks awful, but it's so convenient. I'll probably go with either the Frederick or LEAD Strong. Or maybe I'll give up on running.


  1. A.: convince the Pittsburgh people to let you pay for an entry-LOL! What about sending the 1:12s you ran last fall-I guess they need to be faster? Hopefully you'll have a good race at CB anyhow. Also, I would go for a half marathon closer to end of May-that will give you sifficient time to gear up for a strong race-or come out to do USA Half Champs!

  2. The HM champs would be nice, but it's the day before the father's day 8k, so managing that will be my priority. I'm really worried about the heat later in May...