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The Big Picture

I just got done writing out races and goals for the year. Since I can’t run Boston due to my calf injury it looks more and more like I will go to Canada which is kind of exciting. My only hesitation is I have an excellent 50 mile backpack with the best friends imaginable in NH that weekend. So I will have to see how it plays out.

This is what my year looks likes and you can get a glimpse of how I lay out my goals so that I don’t go crazy.:

Sunday May 16, Pocono Mountain, PA – (I think this may be to soon) http://www.poconomarathon.org/
A downhill course, it is almost all rolling hills with comparatively very little flat running with an uphill finish. Starts at 1945 feet elevation and ends at 400. Large drop from mile 11 – 20.  Total of 411 finishers – very small race
AVERAGE TEMP
Hi              65°F
Lo              42°F
Marathon Guide, all say excellent volunteers and support but all the downhill running, then the uphills at the end kill one’s quads. I am not a fan of this. It is what I hate about Boston. But low key and near home.

May 7 – North Face Endurance Challenge, 50K trail race, Bear Mountain, NY Goal: Easy jog walk training run. Have a fun and finish.

May 30, Ottawa, Ontario Canada Goal: Improve my consistent 3:49/3:50 marathon time

Ultimate Goal: 3:38
Very Happy Goal: 3:45
I’ll take it goal: 3:48:30
(Some day I will get there goal 3:30 – the real ultimate goal)

http://www.runottawa.ca/
According to my teammate: First half is gently rolling, the final half is down one side and back up the other of a Canal. About  2000 marathoners, but a half-marathon starts a little later so that there are simultaneous finishers, but it’s still not crowded. limit of runners when ½ and full combine: 4, 500

AVERAGE TEMPS
Hi              70°F
Lo              50°
Excellent reviews on marathonguide – 7 weeks to train Cons: did not see any in the reviews – Expense of going to Canada Bonus: If healthy could still run the North Face endurance challenge 50k on bear mountain as a training run May 8th! I love this place, I ran the ½ marathon last year and didn’t want it to end.

Goals for the year ———————————————————————————

VanCortlandt Park, NYX-C Series – I love these races! The winner gets a carrot cake! Goal: Win lots of carrot cakes! May 27, June 10, 24 July 8, 22, August 5, 19

June  26 – New York Road Runners, Front Runners New York Lesbian and Gay Pride Run 5 mile race – Goal: 36:00 Goal based on April 2009 4 miler 28:17 and 10k 45:51

August 7th New York Road Runners, Team Championships 5MGoal: under 36:00

August 22-27 Transrockies, CO Goal: Have Fun and to Finish http://transrockies.com/transrockiesrun/news/
Fully supported, 6 stage, 113 miles, singletrack and forest road trail with nearly 25,000 feet of elevation gain, reaching altitudes of over 12,500 ft.
last year days broke down to 20, 10, 24, 14, 23, 21 miles per day

October 10            Mohawk-Hudson River Marathon Goal:  RACE lower time from Spring marathon

November 7            NYC Marathon, Goal: Goal:  Have Fun, Maybe Pace a friend

There are a few assorted NYRR races I would like to do also, but this is what my focus is.

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I was off 4 days from running because my hip flexor went a little crazy but I was getting it worked on and it was going well.  I went to the track, not to run but  do a few walk through drills, marching instead of skipping, etc. I had a straight knee and when flexed my foot it felt like a bullet tore through my calf. I could not walk, I could not massage it out. I couldn’t do anything but I could circle my foot which was my limited knowledge test that I did not rupture my achilles. There was a team workout out and I almost went to them to see if they had a doc or trainer  because I was stuck 1/2mile from home. But I didn’t. I am also one of those people who refuses to ask directions if lost on the highway.

I was able to slowly walk lightly on my heel and I got home. Unbelievable pain. I had to lay a towel on the floor, kneel on it and use my arms to pull myself across the room. It was hideous. Friday morning I went to see my docs, while doing diagnostic tests my muscle went into a huge contraction state that felt like a vice grip around my entire calf. My chiro was holding my leg, I went white as a ghost and almost vomited from the pain,  you get the picture. She had a grave look on her face, but still she thought there was a minor tear but not serious as the condition of the muscle felt good.  She consulted with the podiatrist in the practice and grew worried that a tear would go into a rupture so she sent me Friday night to the MRI. If there was a tear the podiatrist recommended casting it. I freaked when I heard that and broke down sobbing for the 10th time in two days.

Then I called my Coach Benson. I love this man. His incredible years of experience and phenomenal way of explaining things “brings me right back off the ledge” as he likes to say. Here is the very abbreviated scoop on tears and spasms. Distance runners rarely get achilles/calf tears, sprinters get tears when they are running at high speeds in a fatigued state. There needs to be a high level of lactic acid build up and the sprinter is in an anaerobic state. It is common for distance runners to get a spasms, Charlie horse, due to dehydration and electrolytes being out of balance conversely you can drink way too much water and wash out all your salt. In my case I had begun drinking 2x as much water in the last week, because somehow I thought it would aid in healing my hip, and since I was not running I eating very little, and no salt. To support this water-logged mineral deficient theory I got out of bed Friday night and kneeled onto my towel to pull myself across the floor, sexy right?, and for about 3-4 seconds my other calf went into a mild spasm.

So what does Coach say to do. First take aspirin to thin the blood then take 100% RDA of calcium, magnesium, and potassium and stop drinking so much water. Coach said all those water commercials claiming we need 8-10 glasses of water a day is nuts, we need 8-10 of liquid; liquid is juice, water, tea, watermelon, even coffee and wine. Of course not recommending drinking 8 glasses of wine and coffee as your liquid. Next massage. On a scale from 1-10, 10 being the pain is so bad you will fly off the table and punch the massage therapist, it needs to be an 8. It will hurt very badly but the muscle fibers need to be relaxed. And light stretching. The problem is once this spasm gets out it will feel good to walk but once I start running it could come immediately back, therefore,walking, then light running with walk breaks, daily massage and keep the minerals coming.

So while there is a sigh of relief that my muscle is not torn, though I do not have MRI results to back that up yet either, I am walking a bit today. You might be thinking what a big baby it is only a charlie horse. Well do this. Have a friend stand next to you with a Ruger loaded with hollow point bullets let the person shoot you in the calf. That is what this felt like. Full disclosure,  I have never been shot with anything stronger than a b.b.gun. I may have the most extreme taper for a marathon, no running or a couple of weeks, but hey, I can go to Boston and have a great time running, and who knows maybe I will PR. And if you are wondering what the heck I was doing with a b.b. gun, I grew up in Michigan and in those days it was a common Christmas present for 10 year olds.

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Tonight my friend and teammate Megan came over. She picked up my 3rd place age group trophy and 2nd place woman’s team metal from New York Road Runners. It is always very exciting to get some new hardware, but as I wrote about in an earlier post it was not such a good race so my enthusiasm was a bit damped.

I have just five weeks left for Boston. Running is going well, I feel like I am ready to run it already. I rarely feel like that. I am glad I have 5 weeks one of which includes a 22 miler and one a 20 miler, so I think I am going to have a really good marathon. My room is booked and now I just need to find a dog sitter so that I do not need to drive mine 2.5 hours upstate, which is what I usually do.

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I’m In

“You have successfully applied for entry to the ING New York City Marathon 2010. Your entry number is 561646”  That is the message I received today after finally deciding to run it.

I had a terrific 21 miler this week for a total of 53 miles, not too bad. All in all it was a pretty easy week. Six to go!

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I decided to give my Tanita Body Fat / Body Water Monitor a test. Lately my weight has been fluctuating between 117 and 121 within a 24 hour period  which is highly suspicious. Normally I am pretty solid at 118 with a 18% body fat, it can be as low as 16% and as high at 19% depending on how much water I am drinking. The lowest I have ever gotten in the last two years is 14% at 113 pounds, normally a couple of weeks around  marathon time.

If  I am well hydrated the Tanita tells me my body fat is lower. So to put myself in a good mood I drink a liter or so of water, then weigh myself an hour later. My fat will be down, but a liter of water weighing 2.2 pounds  my weight will be up, but that bothers me less.

Because I was born with an obsessive brain I often calculate the hypothetical performance benefit I will have running  marathons at a lower weight. And with Boston  8 weeks away I might want to consider putting aside this bag of pretzels if it will make running easier and faster. So how do I know how much extra fat I am really carrying around and is my scale right? Ah ha! Today I had an appointment at Brooklyn College’s Kinesiology and Sports Medicine lab to be measured in their Bod Pod. The Bod Pod is a funky space pod looking contraption that one sits in wearing weight compression clothing, usually shorts for guys and shorts and sport bra for women or a speedo type swim suit. After a digital reading of one’s weight, you sit in the airlocked  pod. It uses something called Air Displacement Plethysmography to determine the percent of fat, fat free mass, fat mass in pounds, fat free mass in pounds, body mass, body volume and body density. I found it cool to know that if my body was liquified I would fill  51 liters.

It was no surprise that I am classified as “lean with lower body fat levels than many people”   The weight specifics on my scale was right, I weigh 118.517, 94.163 pounds of that are muscle, bone, organs and water or 79.5%;  24.354 pounds are fat which is 20.5.% Hum, that is more than my scale says, 24 pounds of fat? Yuk!  To put it in perspective, to live,  women need essential fat, 12% – 15% meaning I could weight as little as 109-112 and still function. But what is function? Does that mean I can still run 40-65 miles a week? Probably not for any length of time. But what if I lost 3 pounds or 2.5% body fat. I have read in many articles that for a 1 percent loss of body mass, primarily as body fat, there will be an approximate 1 percent increase in running speed. To put this in perspective, if you currently run a 10K at a pace of eight minutes (8:00) per mile, losing 5% of your excess body fat will improve your time to 7:36 per mile (8:00 x 0.05 = 24 seconds faster; 8:00 – 0:24 = 7:36). Consequently, you will run the 10K about 2.5 minutes faster, and your marathon about 11 minutes faster. That is something to think about.

I always want to run faster. I have no problem going out in blizzards, rain, cold, or heat to run. But, especially, after a 20 miler, my body is like a magnet being pulled into the bodega to get a pint of ice cream. Food is much harder to control. But maybe as an experiment, just for 8 weeks I can give it a try. 1% of fat = 1% faster? Well let’s see if I can put away the pretzels.

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I can’t believe that I still have 8 weeks and  350 miles to run before the marathon.That is pretty nice since I am already feeling good about it. Yesterday I had a 20 miler to run and Saturday  I had to move my art studio. One of the reasons I have not posted much is that I had to move out of my studio.  I have been spending my non job, non running time with building a new space and  preparing for the move.  After 8 hours of hauling boxes on Saturday I had 12 hours to rest before my run.

My brilliant idea was to run at the Rockefeller State Park in Westchester, NY just 30 miles north of the city. There is an excellent website by Joe Garland that lists all the trails. I read Joe’s description of the trails and figured it would be an excellent change of scene. Plus running 20 miles on asphalt is not ideal, whereas trails are always super fun. I called ahead to see what the trail conditions were.  I was told the cross-country skiers where having problems because they were hitting dirt patches. How my brain actually processed this information was, “it is mostly dirt and a few snow spots.”

After a 40 minute drive I arrived at Rockefeller and paid my $6.00 parking fee, there are many alternative free parking places as well as metro-north transit. I jumped out of my car and hit the Sleepy Hollow Trail. A nice downhill, 100% snow and slush. After about one mile I turned onto 13-bridges loop. I will spare you all the gruesome details to say, there was no dirt and only about 800 meters of mud in the whole 20 miles. At mile 9 I was so frustrated with the slow pace of slipping and sliding in the snow that I almost quit, but I knew I would hate myself if I did. Joe said in his website, “The Rockies has very few flat stretches. There are loads of little ups-and-downs, often in switch back format.” That did not scare me, I like running hills and come on it is NY how hilly could it be? Well at the end of my run, I had covered 5948 feet of ascents and 5886 of descents. Between the hills and the snow it took me 30 minutes longer to run than it should have. And while 30 minutes does not sound like much time to regular people,  those of you long runners out there, know what 30 minutes means at the end of a 20 milers. Let’s just say I could have completed a good fast marathon in the time it took me to run this 20. Joe was  accurate in describing it as loads of little ups and downs. The other thing is there are no long stretches. You do not get  5-10 mile trails but rather lots of twists and turns sharing 26 trails over about 1100 acres. At one point I ran into a cow barn, and later a pig farm. That was kind of cool. This is a beautiful place to train-when the snow is gone. This would be the perfect spot to run a 5-10 milers, but for me I like nice long stretches rather than running around in circles which I felt like I was doing.

So my goal to save my feet from the pounding of the asphalt was completely sabotaged by the snow. My feet were soaked early on, blistered, and water-logged.  I have never seen them look worse, but today, today they feel great and I am a bit tired but feel strong.

I can’t wait to run there again.

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Way over Due

I am always way over due with posts. Just a quick note to saying training is going very well, 10 weeks to Boston! Last weekend I finally got up to 50 miles, that included 6 miles of hill repeats and an 8 mile steady state run.

I am mostly preoccupied with moving my studio, currently located in Brooklyn back to Manhattan. I am very excited about this. I will only have to walk 12 feet to get from my bed to my studio an 5 feet from my espresso maker to my drawing table. If it sounds like I am working at home that is right. I have designated 50% of my home to my work studio and I am really excited about having a live work space. I think my dogs will like it too.

I will have photos for you soon.

Highlights of 2010
A 10 mile run along the Atlantic Ocean in Iceland and a full day at the Blue Lagoon Spa.
A week in Breda, Netherlands visiting my artist friends with a trip to the Fran Masereel Center, Kasterlee, Belgium
Registers for TransRockies, 113 mile multi-stage race in Colorado
Registered for Tough Mudder, the toughest one day event on the planet (they say)
and looking forward to running a PR Boston!

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