Sunday, January 31, 2016

End Of Month

End of January already! Just for fun I went back to add up some numbers... I ran 169 miles this month which was less than Nov/Dec but with being sick and trying to recover from that marathon it makes sense. And it pretty much puts me on track to hit 2016 miles for the year, which isn't a huge pressing goal but seems like sort of a fun thing to shoot for if I can.

I didn't even swim 20K during the whole month. Maybe one of my smallest swim months ever?? GAH. Endurance Corner is hosting another 'challenge' that starts tomorrow... A 2 week "swim game" that I am going to play. Essentially it rewards swim frequency with points per swim... so I'll try to swim a minimum of 2k, six times/week. The way the game works is that to score an extra point for any given swim, I have to get to 5K. I haven't done a 5K swim in I can't remember how long? But if the week goes to plan I'll swim 5k three times this week which might kill me. Lol. If I back off the intensity then I'll better handle the volume. This whole past month, swimming has just completely kicked my ass. Like so so so tired after almost every swim. I'll be interested to see if the giant increase in volume helps that at all? I mean, I expect it to seriously fatigue me in the next 2 weeks but after that I would expect it to get better. So we'll see.

Biked more miles than I ran, but not by much. I rode again today with the small group I rode with last week. Same route, slightly stronger effort today. Avg HR was same as last week but avg power was +7 watts. Progress! If that trend continues then in about 6 weeks I'll be good to go. ;) I am finding that balancing the running I feel the need to do (with 6 more marathons on tap this year) with swimming and riding enough to not feel like shit in both sports is super tough. Tougher than I expected it to be.

Today at our turn around point (Turtle Bay Resort) we saw couple of big buses and a bunch of police cars... Figured it was the Pro Bowl players since they were playing here today (and staying up there at that resort). As we were riding home, a police car drove by then 2 big buses followed by another police car. We were riding single file (4 of us, I was caboose) on a fairly narrow section of road and one of those damn buses buzzed by like a few inches from my elbow. I screamed out loud and then was super pissed off. Seems like the policeman should have seen that and ripped that bus driver a new one. I'm not a football fan but after feeling like my life was endangered today I sort of actively despise them all. I wonder how that would have gone over on the news if fans found out that the team driver took out a group of cyclists on the way to the game? Unfortunately I bet a lot of football crazed fans wouldn't even blink. <Rant over>.

In better news, wow I made the best dessert tonight! I modified a vegan black bean brownie recipe so it included peanut butter... so in the blender (I don't measure anything): a can of black beans, a bunch of chocolate chips, a scoop of peanut butter, some coconut oil, maple syrup, salt, and baking powder. In the oven for like 30min and um wow most decedent dessert ever. I've eaten like half the pan already. Lol. Would go quite well with red wine.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Creating Drag

A couple years ago I wrote a blog post about how to get faster swimming by primarily focusing on 2 things: Reducing Drag and Increasing Power. I've seen a couple posts on the Women For Tri Facebook page and these women are  posting videos of themselves asking for feedback about how to get faster. I rarely comment there because there's just too much to say, but I'll comment here (though this will be a generalization). Commonly for so many newer swimmers what I see is that there is literally NO power being generated by their catch/pull. In some cases the general placement of hands/arms/head looks mostly ok yet they're just not effectively moving through the water.

One way to increase power is actually to purposely increase drag. Now, if you increase drag you're going to swim slower, and it's going to be harder, so obviously this is not a technique we want to use when racing! BUT for training it can be super valuable. I remember back in high school we would wear 3 baggy swim suits to train in, and sometimes throw on panty hose as well! Train like that all the time and then in the race wear one super tight (no drag!) paper suit and it was like magic how fast we could go.

These days a lot of us (me included!) use tools like buoys and paddles and sim shorts to make us swim faster. I definitely believe there is a place for this... #1 for athletes who are discouraged by swimming, using tools to see faster paces is motivating. If that athlete ends up liking swimming more (or even just hating swimming less!) and therefore ends up actually swimming more, well, that's going to benefit them. #2 for athletes who have training partners slightly faster than them, using tools to help you keep up and complete a whole long main set of 2-3k I think can be a good call. Feeling like you're 'in it' while working with others is motivating and everyone works harder in this scenario. So in my mind, if a pair of sim shorts is just enough boost to keep you engaged in the workout with your training partners, then by all means, use the tool!

But let's go back to purposely creating drag. How and why would you do this? Well, when drag is high, a swimmer has to create more power to move forward through the water. If you purposely create drag so you're forced to create more power, and you get used to creating more power because you swim with drag a lot, you're going to get stronger while creating a habit of pulling really effectively! You can create excess drag by tying your feet together with bands, by wearing a specifically designed drag suit, or by pulling a parachute while you swim.

Bands are an easy tool to make and use- just cut and tie an old bike tube tight around your ankles and you've got your drag. I used to swim a ton with bands but have gotten away from it recently, maybe because my training partner Mark is so freaking FAST with his bands on that we can't really swim together when we both use bands. Seriously- bands don't slow that guy down at all. You know why? Because his turnover is insanely fast. I'll have to count his cadence sometime but I'd guess that it's up around 90 strokes/min. Maybe higher? If you combine an effective underwater pull with cadence like that, drag isn't really going to be able to slow you down. It takes a hell of a lot of specific fitness to sustain a cadence that high through a whole workout. Mark has that fitness so it works for him.

Another way to create drag is to wear a drag suit. So like I said in high school we would wear 3 suits- the bottom one was tight but then we'd wear 2 that were super loose and ripped up on top of that and it would slow us down enough that we had to work harder to hold pace through a workout. Finis makes a drag suit that looks like a mesh (male) speedo and it has giant cups/holes that really create a ton of drag. It's been a long time since I used my drag suit but since I was swimming alone I got it out today. Swam 5x100's with it and it slowed me down by 20-25"/100, and swimming with it was HARD work! I find the drag suit way harder to swim with than bands, but this isn't the case for everyone. Even though it's harder, I like it better for forcing power because it still allows me to use the mechanics of a kick. That said, I'm not strong enough at the moment to do much volume using this suit.  I can do more volume with bands through a workout before feeling like I'm really losing it. When I'm strong I can do whole (long) main sets using bands, and we've taken them for use in the ocean as well to slow us down for open water swims. No way I'd even consider wearing this drag suit for a long ocean swim. #NoDrowning

Another way to create excess drag is to swim with a parachute. I've actually never done this, partly b/c I don't have a parachute and partly b/c I can't really imagine that I could use one in the pool I swim in without it getting in the way of other swimmers? It's a long course pool with no lane lines so I can see someone getting caught up in it or something... Maybe it's more user friendly than I'm imagining, but the concept is the same as drag suit so when I want drag I'll just go with the suit. You could probably make one of these though with a race belt, a dog leash, and a plastic bag.

Anyway, there you go. If you feel like you're not creating much power when you swim, try swimming with bands. If you can't get across the pool with your feet tied together, then you've confirmed that indeed you're not creating much power. Get (or make) a drag suit and swim short repeats 25's and 50's and then go back to regular swimming without the drag and see if it feels more powerful and efficient? I did a set of 50's today where I alternated 2 with drag, 2 without drag... repeat repeat... Fun to take the drag off and feel slippery like you're moving through the water so much better! My goal is to bring my drag toys out more often and get good with them again. I think this is a game changer when it comes to swimming faster. It's probably best done when swimming alone but you could also use drag to equalize things if you're swimming with someone who is a bit slower than you.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

On Momentum

I've had a couple of conversations recently with athletes who are struggling with motivation. January can be a tough month, especially when you take a solid "off season" and don't train a lot through the holidays. I think the biggest issue is that when you're not super fit, training sessions don't feel great. Instead, they are a struggle. Maybe you remember your old paces and watts from when you were fit, and you can't hit those now, and heart rate is higher than it should be, and you just feel like garbage.

So then when it comes time to train, you're not super stoked to go. You pretty much have to force it. Because it isn't fun. And races feel really far off. So maybe you skip it. Which just makes it harder to go next time. It's not getting better so you're not training as much as you're "supposed to", but why bother training when it's not working anyway? You're not getting faster and it's not fun. Screw it.

That's negative momentum!

Contrast that with maybe accepting that you took an extended off season and your fitness isn't where it used to be. To get it back you realize that you're going to have to suck it up and pay your dues and deal with the crappy feeling for a while. But you trust that if you do the right work and you do it often enough that it will start to feel better and your paces/watts will improve and your heart rate will come back down and ta-dah! It will feel good again! Once this takes place it's quite easy to get out the door to go train because training once again becomes like an addictive drug. The more you do (to a point) the better you feel.

That's great momentum!

Training is so much easier when you're on a roll. When I've got good momentum I find myself making better choices about sleep and nutrition as well, and when those two factors are on point they serve to further stimulate positive training adaptations. So clearly, the key is maintaining positive momentum. The first step, I think, is just starting. From wherever you are, you just start. And go easy enough in your first sessions that you're able to handle them and not feel too trashed. Then go back out again tomorrow and the next day and the day after that. And if you don't judge yourself too harshly about where you're at, instead just keep chipping away, you're likely to find that one day you feel GREAT.

I'm not yet at the point where I feel GREAT with my swimming and biking (or let's be honest, running) but I have seen some positive signs the last few days. Yesterday I swam and while most of the session was pretty relaxed, it included a total of 3x200's *hard* and I managed to do those all in times that felt somewhat satisfying. Today I rode my bike and while I wasn't watching watts or heart rate, I could totally tell that I had different legs than I had last week. Sometimes its nice when numbers confirm that we are heading in the right direction, but sometimes it's also perfectly fine to just know that you felt stronger. Seeing/feeling progress is motivating, and it supports positive momentum, which results in more consistent work, which results in achieving goals. You just have to start.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Run Run Run

It was a running day today!

2 mile easy trot with Maia first thing. Coffee/breakfast followed that and then I headed out for 11 easy miles on my own. Followed HR on that and kept it low the whole way, which left me frustrated at how slow I had to walk/jog at the end when the sun was out and I was running uphill. You know it seems like after years and years (and years!) of low HR running that I'd be able to run with my HR in the 140's... I guess I can, but not uphill at the end of a long run when the sun is out. I often curse the fact that we live up at the top of a stupid stupid hill.

My plan was to head out again a few hours later for a 4 mile tempo/progression run by feel, but I was playing on Facebook and saw a post about a group track session tonight at Kailua High. I haven't done a group track session in probably 15 years but what the heck? Why not? I swim and ride with people and I totally enjoy that but I almost always run alone. I didn't know any of the people in that run group but that was almost better... No pressure... I could show up and be the slowest one and that would be fine (indeed that's exactly what happened).

The workout was a bunch of short "fast" efforts, supposed to be speed development stuff, which I pretty much never do! Ok I do strides a few times/week, but I'm never really straining on those. Tonight I wasn't giving anywhere close to 100% but it wasn't like I wasn't trying... I'd say the combination of lots of long/slow/easy running recently has simply left me lacking the coordination to turn my feet over quickly. That said, I had NO desire to rip my legs off tonight, but I did want to challenge myself in a new/different way, so I ran as quickly as felt right. I feel like I got what I wanted out of the session- a fun social time and a different physical stimulus. I listened to a podcast today where the guy said something about how when athletes train in groups that they always work too hard and how this was a 'real problem'... and while I understood what he was saying, I'd argue that it depends... depends on your goals and what you're looking to achieve with your training. Will these track sessions help me run a better double marathon in March? Not likely. Will they help me enjoy running more because I'm doing something different and making new friends? Likely.
That's me, at the back every time, on our awesome unmarked dirt track.

So the day ended with another 5 miles which gave me 18 for the day and looking back on that, seems solid. Physically I don't feel like I ran 18 miles today so I'll take that as a good sign!

I brought Moana along with me and she ran a little bit with us which was fun. She said she enjoyed it, which was important criteria if I was going to make this Tuesday night track thing part of my routine... I think I'll go back again next week.

Monday, January 25, 2016

The 2AM Suitor

Maia isn't a barker. She doesn't randomly bark at just anything, but she does bark when something is not right. I read that this is a trait of Ridgebacks... that since they don't bark often, that when they do bark, you should listen.

Over the weekend apparently someone came and stole a car from a house down the street. News about that traveled fast and shook everyone up a bit because that kind of stuff doesn't really happen up here on this dead end neighborhood street. Last night when I went to bed I was thinking that I was glad we had Maia because if someone bad was snooping around our house at night I think she would be alert to that.

2AM I woke up and she was growling. It almost sounded like she was growling in her dreams, but then she started really barking and at the same time I saw the motion sensor light go on outside our bedroom window. Right away I was kicking Scott out of bed GO CHECK THAT OUT! So he quickly got up and went to go outside, bringing Maia with him. He opened the front door ready to launch Maia at the bad guy.

No bad guy. Instead, it was a dog we'd never seen before and within 10 seconds he was trying to mount Maia! GAH! Scott pulled Maia back inside and shut the door. That dog hung around all night (waiting patiently) and was still there at 6 this morning when I went to let her out. I wish I would have gotten a picture of him... You'll have to use your imagination, but I would guess maybe he was a Corgi/Pit Bull mix of sorts? He was wearing a long chain around his neck and had those short little legs- not an attractive dog at all. If you could imagine a canine version of a New Jersey pimp, this dog would be that. It actually made me laugh when I saw him... Like seriously dude NO WAY we would let you mate with our Maia. Give me a break. I told Scott this morning that if Moana ever brings home a human/teenage version of that horny dog we are going to have a problem. He agreed.

Anyway, such is life when you have a female dog in heat I guess. I'm going to keep my eye out for specials that the Humane Society apparently runs to have your dog spayed. When I called the vet to inquire about having it done I was told $700. Argh. That seems insane!?

Not sure if it was lack of sleep or if I rode too hard yesterday and didn't recover or if it was the wine last night... but yikes I felt like a ton of bricks this morning in the pool. Managed to get 3700m in but it was slow to start and got worse from there. 1000 w/u followed by a 45min main set that went 3 rounds of: 300; 2x150's; 3x100's all at 1:40 base send-offs, no extra rest between rounds. I think part of my issue with swimming right now is that I am not fit enough to swim as hard as I am trying to swim, but when I have a training partner pushing me I don't want to back off so instead I just drill myself the whole time. I think physically I would likely be better off if I backed off the effort a bit on long sets like these for now, but mentally/emotionally I prefer the training partner(s)... So I'll prob just keep drilling myself until my body adapts again. A set like that didn't used to kill me so seems like if I stay consistent with it, eventually I'll get back to the point where I can pull it off without wasting the rest of the day needing to recover.

My plan was to run 8-10 miles today but that swim hurt me so I only went 4 and did those stupidly easy b/c I was so tired. That is what tells me the swim was too hard (and a mistake) b/c I compromised my run training and given my goals this year the run training really should take priority.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Just Like Old Times

Ten years ago... 2005(!) Wait I can't do math that's eleven years I had recently moved to Hawaii but didn't really know very many people. One day I was swimming (same pool I still swim at today!) and saw a gal swimming who was wearing an Ironman Florida swim cap... Ah ha! Possibly a new friend? I struck up a conversation with her, found out she lived down the road a few miles from me, and met her and her husband for a ride that weekend. For several years I felt like we were the 3 Musketeers riding together pretty much every Saturday like clockwork.

Things changed a bit when I hired a coach and had more specific types of bike sessions to do (mostly it was that I was assigned a HR cap and those drop rides grew over the years and got big/fast and I couldn't do them and stay within my prescribed HR range, so I stopped doing them). Last night though I got a bit of a wild hair up my ass and sent them a message asking if by chance they were riding today... They were! Score! I warned them that I hadn't been riding and they said ok no worries just Sunday cruisy ride. Ya right I knew better than that but whatever.

So last night I spent a bunch of time prepping my TT bike which hasn't been ridden since Oct (I was riding my road bike this week). Took the race wheels off, adjusted the brakes, pumped the tires, lubed the chain, checked the flat kit, dusted the spiderwebs off... I even got my new power tap pedals working and pared with my garmin. I was genuinely stoked to go ride with my old friends today!

It was a gorgeous perfect morning to ride. Seriously perfect. I enjoyed the ride, even though I pretty much got my ass kicked. About 30 min into the ride Mike and I were chatting and riding along at a moderate pace... he asked what my heart rate was. Ha! 151. I told him but I think he thought I was lying. No really. That's how out of shape I am on the bike! It was the kind of day where avg heart rate was higher than avg power, though there were some times where I would think GAH THIS IS SO HARD and look down and see a 30sec avg power at 190+ so at least my perceived exertion isn't broken. Anyway, I didn't mind seeing HR and power data today. I'm currently missing ~20 watts across the board (which didn't surprise me) but I rode 58 miles and felt stoked enough about that to let go of the lack of power. I have hope that my cycling just might come back at least to a point where I won't be like an anchor on a group ride.

Later, Moana and I went to a painting party. I'd wanted to do one of these for a long time... She had a blast too and enjoyed it a ton. Art seems to be a passion of hers.

I hadn't run today but I didn't want to break my streak, so after consuming the better part of a bottle of wine at the painting party, I took Maia out for a mile jog down the road and back. Turns out, 8PM is a great time for the dog jog because all the cats are out. Everybody won.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Left Leg Left Leg... Right Leg Right.

My plan was to run today... All week I've only been dog jogging 2ish miles and while every day my legs feel slightly better than they did the day before, I'm still dealing with a spasm (or something?) in my right lateral hamstring. Funny that all fall/winter my left side was the one giving me issues... left achilles, left knee. I gave my left calf and quad so much attention that my achilles and knee handled the marathon distance last weekend without any issue at all. To be honest, that was shocking! I really thought I was going to be managing knee pain for at least half that run last weekend. But instead, it was my right side that talked back to me. Right glute is a tight mess, right hamstring feels like it's all glued together, and consequently right calf is achy as well. I've been working on it the last few days with my Supernova ball (best tool out there!) and its getting better but my gut said that a longer run today might set it back so I opted to ride instead.

It's possible that the heavy gear work I've started doing the last few days on the bike is pissing off that glute/hamstring as well, but I did it again today anyway. I rode less than 2 hours today, purposely included some repeat sitting/standing climbs, and finished feeling trashed and like I needed a nap (took one, yes!). I haven't yet started using any data on my rides b/c I just don't even want to know any of that. One of these days though I'll get my garmin back out and start collecting bike data again.

Maia lived with us for a full 2 months and never saw me get on my bike. After seeing it a few times this week, today she figured it out- what the bike kit meant- and wouldn't even look at me. Full on guilt trip.

I specifically asked Scott to keep the doors closed while I was gone today so Maia wouldn't go wandering the neighborhood. She is actually in heat right now. I've never had a dog in heat before so I had to do a bit of research on that to learn about how to handle it. I'm guessing that her last heat cycle was when she ran away- like maybe she was looking for a boyfriend? (She found one b/c she ended up having a litter of 9 puppies right before we adopted her.) Anyway, my fear is that she might be overwhelmed with hormones to the point where she might run off again? Sure enough I got home from riding today and Scott said that somehow she managed to escape. He found her down at the neighbor's house. There's a handsome Ridgeback male named Keola who lives there and they *love* each other... He whines and groans in agony when he smells her walk by (he is often locked behind his fence) and sometimes on our walks she just stops in front of his house and won't budge. I'd admit that it's super cute but I don't want to deal with a huge litter of puppies this spring so I'm trying to keep her on the short leash for the next week or so. This might be a warm up for Moana's teenage years...

Friday, January 22, 2016

Strength Endurance

Photo by Sergio
I swam alone this morning, which was probably good b/c I was able to put in some work at my own level without feeling like I was just getting my ass kicked at every turn. I figured I'd use my time to get in some long strength endurance work. When I'm fit I tend to have a pretty high level of strength endurance. Right now it's lacking a bit but that's to be expected. I got 4K done which is my longest swim in a really long time! Main set was 7x400's pull. I gave this one to a few of my athletes a few weeks ago and none of them had anything nice to say about it afterward so I thought maybe I needed a good personal reminder of just how hard that set can be. I did them off 6:20 and my goal was to see if I could get them all under 6:00. I didn't really think I'd be able to when I started, but thought I'd give it a go and if I blew up, I blew up...

5:58, 5:57, 5:58, 5:56, 5:58, 6:00, 6:00.

So I almost made it. The effort on the last two was higher than the effort on the first five, but overall I was pleased with this set. I didn't fall off as bad as I anticipated I might. I've done this set as 8x400's off 6:10 holding 5:50-5:55 though (and feeling strong at the end), so I have a bit of work to do before I get back to that point. As I was cooling down today I was thinking about my motivation and why it actually matters to me that I get my swim back. I came to the conclusion that it's not about racing faster- it's simply about being able to enjoy good solid super tough swim sessions again. I genuinely enjoy pushing my limits in the pool, but I enjoy it more when the limit is way the hell out there and hard to hit. So for me it's more about enjoying the training because I feel strong/invincible vs about racing fast. I'd say the same for bike and run as well.

Speaking of the bike- and strength endurance- I rode again yesterday. Same route as I did Tuesday but this time I kept it mostly big chain ring and pushed a bit harder. HR stayed fairly low but muscularly I got some work done. I think my problem on the bike the last two years was that I was doing too much of my riding too easy (and too high cadence). I had some thoughts yesterday about being motivated to really get good and strong on the bike again... strong like I was from 2011-2013. But then I had another look at my logs from those years and I don't know if I can do that again? It was A LOT of time invested in riding. And not much of that time could be considered "easy". I'm not really that natural of an athlete so it requires a lot of work for me to get strong/fit. I feel torn b/c I'd like to get back to that awesome feeling on the bike but wanting to be there and wanting to do the work to get there are two different things. I know the kind of work it takes and I'm just not sure I'm willing to do that again right now. Plus, I still have 6 more marathons to run this year. Lol.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Back At It

I swam a real set this morning. First one in 2 weeks. I feel like I need to get back into a solid swim habit again so swimming doesn't kick my ass so badly. Mark and Lectie showed up this morning which was a huge help. Having my wetsuit on helped too. But seriously, it was only 2800M this morning and I feel trashed right now. Plus, my nose is running and I am sneezing up a storm. I am allergic to that pool I think? All pools, really. The sneezing and nose running is 100x worse though when I haven't been exposing myself regularly to the chlorination. Anyway, we did a decent main set. Some of my athletes will recognize this one:

4x50's fast @:55; straight into:
3x400's pull @6:10; Paddles + wetsuit I still couldn't keep up with Mark/Lectie while they swam... so sad.
10x50's "fast" @1:00; I wasn't very fast on these. Arms felt like cooked noodles by this point so it was more like just try to swim without completely losing it.

Maybe in a few weeks I'll feel like a swimmer again? Not sure how long it will take to get it back. I've been highly inconsistent for ~3 months now so it might be a while before I truly feel good again.

In other news, I rode my bike yesterday! First time in ~3 months... Had to dig around looking for my pump and helmet/shoes... lubed the chain and was surprised the brakes/shifters worked after sitting for so long. I'd like to say I really enjoyed the ride, but my legs weren't working very well. Toward the end it felt a little better I suppose, but I got home and my thought was damn, I have some work to do if I want to not embarrass myself at Honu!! Really, the only thing I need to do is get fit enough to ride 56 miles once this year. Honu is the only real triathlon on my schedule for 2016. But still, I'd like to not feel like I'm going to die in T2 at that race.

I've only done enough running so far this week to keep my streak alive. I *almost* bailed on the streak on Monday, but in the evening after we got home from Maui I took Maia out for a little over a mile very slow/easy trot, so the streak remains alive. I'm not sure I'd be streaking if I didn't have a dog. Speaking of the dog, she is quite happy to be home.

Pictures are starting to surface from our Maui trip. Scott was pretty stoked to get to surf Honolua Bay while we were there... Kurt had his good camera which helped b/c we were watching from on top of a cliff. I was really glad that on that trip we all got to do fun stuff that we liked... so it wasn't just about me and my thing... It was a trip that was fun for the whole family. That was part of my thinking when I decided to run all these marathons... figured it was a good excuse to get us all out to visit Maui and Kauai, which we hadn't done in years. Kauai Marathon is Labor Day weekend so that will be another long weekend family fun trip for us.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Marathon Experiment

I woke up (dark and early) on Sunday morning and for the first time in over a week, yawned without coughing. Good sign, I thought! I'd been depending on Mucinex and an inhaler for several days but that morning I thought I felt ok enough to go without. I'm not a big fan of inhalers b/c I don't like the shaky feeling they give me so I was glad to not feel like I needed to take that in order to breathe.

Maui Oceanfront Marathon is a point to point course, mostly along Maui's south shore, from Wailea to Lahaina. It starts at 5AM so we ran the first 90min or so in the pitch black. It's mostly flat in the beginning and the end, with some pretty legit hills in the middle miles.

I genuinely had no plan going into this marathon. I wanted to leave myself open to the possibility that I might have a decent day, but I wasn't going to beat myself up if I didn't. I didn't use a garmin and figured I'd just run by feel and see how it went. The night before the race Kendra asked me what time I thought I might run and I didn't answer b/c I really didn't know. I thought I could be anywhere between 3:55 if I felt great to 4:30 if I didn't... That's a pretty wide range!

First 1-2 miles I started out at what felt super easy and not fast. But then I found myself running a little faster and a little faster and by mile 4ish I'd caught Heidi, which honestly I didn't really take as a good sign- I did not expect to get to the finish line before Heidi! When I came up beside her and asked her how she felt, she said she was good and just trying to hold 9' pace (she had her garmin!). At that point the smartest thing I prob could have done would have been to just run with her, but I didn't. It was a conscious decision at that point because I genuinely prefer running alone vs with anyone. It was shocking to me though how at that point I felt so much better than I expected to feel... like my core was connected and my hips were open and my stride felt strong like I was actually pushing off my back leg with every step. And while part of me thought maybe it was suicide to run ahead, another small part of me thought What if this is your magic day? What if this is where all those higher mileage weeks you ran pay off? So I carried on, accepting the risk, and wondering how long this awesome feeling might last...

It lasted ~12 miles. Too bad this wasn't a half marathon! Lol. My limiter was definitely muscular in nature. Running 20"/mile too fast for 10 miles was a muscular challenge I was not prepared for and that effort came back to bite me in the ass. Literally. In good news, feeling that fatigue in my glutes and hamstrings I take as a good sign that I'm running in less of a 'quad dominant' manner than I used to. Anyway, once it was clear to me that I wasn't going to get in under 4 hours, I shut down the effort and just jogged it in. Funny how my brain worked in that way- like I was willing to take a risk and hurt myself for that slight possibility that I might crack 4 hours, but I was not willing to dig for a 4:05. Somehow in my mind, the difference between 4:05 and 4:30 was nothing and all I was considering at that point was damage control... like just get to the finish without causing any more damage. Scott and Moana were waiting for me at the finish and Moana jogged across the line with me (4:20) which was super fun! Within 30' we had several champagne bottles open and it was a big party on the beach. Everyone finished and everyone agreed that it was harder than we thought it would be. Funny how marathons are like that. :)

My coughing fit started at the finish line and didn't stop for a few hours. It was definitely worse after a few bottles of champagne because laughing was not something my lungs were capable of doing at that point! Anyway, I don't know how much of that back half meltdown had to do with the fact that I'd been sick the week prior, or if it was lack of fitness/strength, if I just didn't care enough, or if it was simply risky pacing. It doesn't matter to me though. I have no regrets about how I tried. In a situation like this I would rather try and blowup vs play it conservatively then wonder what if at the end...

Anyway, maybe the reason why I am not worried about it is that I have a bunch more opportunities to try to crack the marathon code this year. My goal for 2016 is to run all the Hawaii Marathons in the calendar year. There are 7 in total. The next two will be a huge challenge as they fall on the same weekend... So in March I will be attempting a Marathon Maniac qualification by running Maui Valley to Sea Marathon on a Saturday, then hopping on a plane and flying to Hilo and running the Big Island International Marathon the next day. I genuinely don't know how I am going to run two in a row?? I will most certainly have to wear a choke collar type leash during the first one...

Thursday, January 14, 2016


Finally I feel like I'm really on an upswing. Not 100% healthy yet but I woke up this morning and my headache was only maybe a 4 on a scale of 1-10 (yesterday I would have called it an 8). Two aspirin and a cup of coffee took care of that. My cough is still there which is annoying, and I'm not at the point where I can comfortably take a full deep breath, but my energy levels are better and I don't feel as winded at the top of a flight of stairs as I did the last few days.

I have to say, I think that oil of oregano stuff is the magic. I figured out how to take it- I empty out the powder from a supplement capsule I don't take/care about and put 4 drops of the oil in the capsule, then swallow the capsule with a ton of water. I can still feel the heat of the oil in my stomach and sometimes it comes up into my throat but it's nothing like swallowing it the way I did the first time. That stuff is truly like poison and I think it could/would kill just about any virus/bacteria/fungus in it's path, so I'll keep that tidbit tucked away for next time I start to feel any sense of being unwell. I made a capsule for Scott too- just in case. It would suck if he ended up sick this weekend while we are in Maui!

I did the exact same run this morning as yesterday morning... same route, same HR MAF-5, but pace was ~1'/mile faster than yesterday. Progress! I swear I've never been so happy to run 10:30 pace. Lol. I think there's a possibility that in another 48 hours I'll feel almost completely normal. So then running a marathon the question would be, How much fitness does one lose when holed up for a week with the flu? I guess I'll find out. I haven't really written out my year long goals here on this blog yet, but achieving my 2016 goal pretty much requires this marathon finish, so if it's at all possible for me to finish, I will finish, even if I have to walk a ton of it. In good news, it's point to point and we will have champagne at the finish, so there's no real "out" once we get going. Relentless forward progress will land me at the finish line.

So we're off to Maui tomorrow. I'm partly packed but still have a ton of stuff to do before we go, including dropping Maia off at the dog sitters and I'm not looking forward to that. I'm sure she will be fine but I've been telling her all week that I'll be back... I don't want her to think I'm abandoning her! I am looking forward to a fun weekend though with friends and family. Heidi, Nalani, and Kendra are all running the marathon (and none of us are at our physical best at the moment) so I think we can all go into it with a "fun" outlook and just enjoy a morning running along the ocean looking for whales!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Accepting What Is True

I didn't write last night b/c I had a wicked headache. And no energy. It was a weird day yesterday b/c there for a while in the afternoon I kind of thought maybe I was feeling better, but then around 3:00 this headache came on and pretty much debilitated me for the rest of the day. It's really rare that I get headaches. I ended up taking a couple of Tylenol PMs so I could sleep last night. That worked ok and I slept, but I woke up in the middle of the night soaking wet. I guess that was an episode of night sweats, which I'd never actually had before. It was terrible though my pajamas were soaked through, as were the sheets. I changed my PJs and moved to the middle of the bed to sleep, but that was weird.

I got up at 6 to swim this morning, because it's Wednesday. I went into the kitchen, had a moment of clarity about my actual physical state (pounding headache, no energy) and within a minute I accepted it for what it was... Took 2 aspirin and went back to bed. Ugh. Will this virus ever lift or does it just change form every 48 hours?

I read a blog that Lauren Fleschman wrote yesterday... About learning to accept what is true. So not that you stop dreaming or trying... you still do all that... but you live in reality and don't kid yourself about how things actually are. That hit a chord with me.

I feel like I'm doing everything I know to support my immune system... I always tell my athletes when they get sick... Sleep and Plants! Plants and Sleep! So I've been doing that and taking in all the nutrients (green juice, check!) and avoiding processed foods and avoiding excess stress. I think this virus is just a nasty one. I don't know if its the same one Moana had over Christmas break or not? Hers lasted ~2.5 weeks. Seems like a long incubation period if I got it from her, though that's the only thing that makes sense. I don't actually have a ton of contact with people since I work from home and tend to be alone a lot.

Anyway, by mid morning I thought I felt ok enough to attempt a jog. I strapped my HR monitor on and decided I would jog along at MAF-5 to ensure it was indeed super easy. I was sort of curious about how much slower than normal it would be? I figured maybe a minute/mile? Turns out, it was 2'/mile. I shit you not. 4 miles in 46:15. I went back and forth about how I should feel about that... Hey, being out jogging was better than being in bed, right? Progress! But, um, 2'/mile slower than I was 6 days ago? Ugh. Damn virus- you suck. I do believe I did the right thing by obeying my HR today though, even if it was ego crushing to do so. Justin Daerr wrote an article a while back with some advice on run training, and a key point was about training at the level you are at, not the one you want to be at. Gold. So that sort of goes along with what Lauren Fleschman was saying too... I think had I run my normal 9:30 "easy" pace this morning, it would NOT have been easy and I likely would have set myself back. So as much as I don't like my current situation, denying it doesn't make it not true.

I'm hoping tomorrow will be a bit better.

Monday, January 11, 2016


I thought maybe I felt a bit better this morning. Jogged down to the pool and swam an easy 2K. It's been sunny the last few days so the water was a bit warmer (maybe 75?) but I wore my wetsuit anyway primarily b/c I didn't want to put my immune system under any excess stress. I wasn't hot in my wetsuit but it was nice to be able to swim truly easy and not feel cold.

I had the thought today about how I'm totally capable of coming up with swim sets that are quite interesting and fun and challenging, but when I'm just swimming alone, I do the most boring main sets ever.



I could tell later in the day that I was most definitely still fighting a virus. It almost felt like a new/different one!? Ugh. In my throat/chest. Nooooooooo!! A friend suggested I go to Jamba Juice and get a lemon/ginger/cayenne shot. So I did that. It was quite good and seemed to hit the spot, if only temporarily.
It was so good that I figured that rather than going back to Jamba Juice 3x/day, I would get everything I needed to make my own. So I went to the store and bought lemons and ginger and a new container of cayenne. I also bought propolis and kefir and kombucha and oil of oregano and some wellness supplement thing... Let's just call it what is is. Desperate.

I'd never had oil of oregano before but heard it was the bomb for killing viruses. The oil I bought said take 1-4 drops and could dilute it with water... So I put 4 drops in maybe 3-4 oz of water, swished it around until it seemed mixed enough, then drank it down sort of quickly like a shot. Um. HOLY CRAP. Have you ever had that stuff? It tasted like poison. Just absolutely nasty. I watched some online videos afterward to see if I was missing something (I wasn't). It's possible I didn't dilute it enough, but really, that stuff is nasty. I'm not sure I'll be able to force myself to try it again? I can see how it might kill viruses though. I think it could kill just about anything.

Later I made another cup of the ginger lemon cayenne drink, but made it as a warm tea and added the propolis. I genuinely like the taste of that and like the burning sensation I get in my throat when I drink it. Unfortunately the combination of all that throat burning was too much and it seems I've zapped my vocal chords. I'm pretty sure it was more the oregano oil vs the cayenne, but still. The ultra-deep voice I have right now is proof that I don't do anything half-assed.

Anyway, I opted to not run this afternoon b/c it didn't feel like the right thing to do. Hoping tomorrow is better. I couldn't have finished a marathon today. I have 5 days to kick this thing. I'm trying.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

73 Days

I woke up yesterday morning and my first thought was Damn. I feel old. Right away I noticed my quads were sore, which was weird, b/c Friday's run should NOT have left my legs sore!? As the morning passed, I noticed the achy feeling moving into my head, my neck, my back... Then it occurred to me... Ah ha. I have the flu. Shit. It got worse and worse and I spent the whole day in bed, which sucked, because it was a perfect day outside and some friends were having a birthday party at the beach and that would have been way more fun to attend than the Netflix marathon I had. Though I have to say... Making A Murderer... WOW. Unbelievable. It's a really compelling documentary so if you're ever holed up sick for a few days and need something other than Facebook and blogs to keep you occupied, watch that! I watched the whole thing this weekend, all 10 episodes. That's how inactive I was. Blah.

I feel sort of silly admitting this, but my biggest concern yesterday was that I was going to break my run streak. I went back in my log to see when I started... Turns out, I've run at least 1.5 miles every day since Oct 27. I had a 73 day streak going! And yesterday there I was I was laying in bed, groaning when I had to roll over, debating whether or not I should go run. I shit you not. I didn't run, for the record, but I was quite sad at the thought of breaking that streak. I did make a promise to myself (once I sort of realized that I was streaking) that I would only do it if I was healthy, that I wouldn't become super obsessive about it, etc. I thought maybe breaking the streak would come as a bit of a relief, but it didn't at all. I was genuinely enjoying that streak.

Today I felt marginally better, and continued on an upswing as the day passed. By noon I felt well enough to take Maia out for a 30' walk (go me!). By 5:00 I felt well enough to go for a dog jog, and Moana came along on her bike. So I started my Streak #2, Day #1 with 2.2 relaxed miles. :)

Obviously I need to rethink my taper plan a bit. Maui Marathon is a week from today. I don't feel like I can make any real plans for the week b/c I need to see how I'm feeling each day, so I'm just going to make it up as I go with these goals in mind:

#1 goal is to be 100% healthy at the start line.
#2 goal is to not be over-rested. I do not perform as well when I am over rested.

Those two goals might be tough to balance. I only got in 26 miles this week, which is my smallest week since I can't remember when (by a lot!!)... So I'm really not sure what I will do this week. It'll all be about going with my gut, I think.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Thrill of the Chase

Winds have been quite light the last few days, which leads to some quite amazing ocean swimming conditions! I swam straight into that sun as it was coming up. Aloha Friday, indeed.

Water was warmer than the pool. How is that possible? Seriously. Anyway, it was also as clear as it ever is on that side, and glassy smooth on the surface. Mark and I swam ~55min this morning, all quite easy. He wasn't motivated to swim hard today because he is swimming the Maui Channel on Sunday morning (~9 miles) so he spent a bunch of time 'treasure hunting'. He has a good eye and manages to find all kinds of stuff. Mostly sunglasses and goggles/masks, but sometimes GoPros end up on the ocean floor and he's always looking for those, especially on a clear day like today. No GoPros today but we did find 2x sunglasses and a pair of surf shorts. Somebody must have a good story about losing those shorts.

Afterward my plan was to take advantage of the flat roads Kailua has to offer (there are no flat roads in my town) and run some steady pace miles. Of course I forgot to pack my garmin (argh!) but I made the best of it and figured I'd run/repeat a loop I know to be right ~3 miles and just time the whole thing and could figure out pace (close enough) and call it good. I guess that went ok. I ran the first loop at what felt like MAF- it was quite easy. Then my plan was to try to run a loop ~40"/mile faster, which I figured would be in the range of +10 heart beats... Just steady tempo. I ended up running that loop 3min faster than the first time, so it was a full min/mile faster, which is ok I guess but the effort was too hard I think for what I was going for today (def more than +10 beats!). I knew it while I was running too... This is harder than you're supposed to be going Michelle... but damn I just had a hard time making myself back off. Pacing is a pretty critical skill when running a marathon and I just feel like I kinda screwed it up today.

Maia had a successful Cat Hunt today. She's encountered this gray stray before and he holds his ground and doesn't run away. He defends himself quite well with some solid hissing and sharp claws. Maia is obsessed though. I think her dream scenario is that she wants the cat to run, and she wants the freedom to chase it. For her I think it's the thrill of the chase she's after. Then again maybe that's what we're all after?

Thursday, January 7, 2016

A Fun Story

I wasn't blogging much back in September, so I never really told this story...

It was a Sunday morning, about 3 weeks before Ironman Louisville. On my schedule was a 90' hilly run- a specific treadmill set. We were having a stupidly hot/humid summer (we got the effects of El Nino- in the form of hurricanes, heat and humidity- before most of the mainland) so most of my key run days were prescribed to be inside so I wouldn't die. The thing was, this particular morning happened to be quite cloudy and not that hot and I had an option for an outdoor run that was hilly and ~90'... so I made the call at the last minute to run in the botanical gardens instead of on the treadmill. Not many people would blame me! I still sort of felt like I was cheating by not following the plan to a T, but...

Anyway, as I approached the turn-around at the end of the gardens, I came upon what appeared to be a professional photoshoot. There were two thin young gals dressed in cute clothes, bounding up the hill and smiling like no real runner would do. Essentially, this is the scene I came upon. Trust me, that hill is steep and nobody's ponytail swings like that while running up it.

So they stopped shooting so I could run past. I sort of felt bad for interrupting them. I got to the top of the hill and saw their whole camp set up.... Several big cars, a few tents, a bunch of food, a changing tent, lots of clothes on a rack, and a couple people hanging out. I smiled and waved to them, made a comment I can't remember now, then started my run back home.

I ran past the two bouncy girls again and after I was down the hill, a van drove up next to me... windows down... A woman seemed to be asking me about a photo shoot? I took an ear bud out and said, "Yes there's a photo shoot going on it right back there..." and I pointed to where I'd just come running from. It took a minute for me to understand that she was asking me if I would join their photo shoot... What? Me? Um, seriously?

I was soaking wet but they insisted I get in their van (it was a rental) and they would drive me back to the shoot for 'hair and make-up'. Ha! Hair and make-up... If they only knew how non-standard this is in my world. To be honest, I think the Hair and Make-up guy was grossed out by me because I was all wet. Normally I guess they coat the models in this bronzing oil b/c it makes them look like they are glistening with sweat. He decided I didn't need any of that. And since I hadn't combed my hair in a few days and it was all knotted up, he opted to just give me a hat (that's how I typically deal with the issue as well).

The whole thing was already taking longer than I anticipated it would and I was starting to get hungry. Honestly my biggest concern was that I still had 5 miles left to run home and I didn't have any food with me (it was only supposed to be a 90' run) and I was 3 weeks out from an Ironman which meant training was huge and I was eating ALL THE TIME... so when they offered me some food I jumped on that opportunity! I filled up a plate with a granola bar, some fruit, some yogurt, etc. When the 2 young thin gals saw me eating, they had lots of questions. Carbs?!? I ate carbs?!? I thought the one gal might actually faint. Ha!

Anyway, they toweled me off and dressed me up in their clothes (I'd found out at some point that it was Athleta, which got me excited b/c I have loved Athleta clothes for a long time!) and we spent maybe an hour jogging like 10 steps at a time back and forth back and forth in several different locations while they took a billion pictures. The models were quite nice and asked me a lot of questions about how much "exercising" I did.

The gal in charge took down my contact info and handed me a couple of gift cards so I could order some free clothes online (score!) and I grabbed another granola bar and then set off to run back home and explain to my husband why I was 3 hours late.

I sort of forgot about it until a few days ago when I got a text from an old friend of mine about how she saw my picture in the Athleta catalog! Oh ya that's right... Then more texts started coming in... It has been fun to hear from some friends I haven't heard from in years telling me how surprised they were to see me running up that hill! (And um, I had no idea how many friends I have who get that catalog?) Trust me though, nobody was more surprised than this 40-something year old mom becoming an 'Athleta Model', even if it was just a one off thing! Though I heard a rumor that they used another picture in the next catalog, so that will be fun to see too... :)

Flipping through the catalog I saw that they took some fun shots in a few more familiar local places where we train and play... A nice reminder... #LuckyWeLiveHawaii!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016


I jogged down to the pool this morning with my wetsuit stuffed into my backpack. It was pissing rain and not warm so I put my wetsuit on while we were standing outside the gate waiting for the pool to open. Then the lifeguards told us that there was a mix up and (whoops!) nobody had a key to open the pool. This happens at least once a month- for a second I considered that I was just not meant to start back swimming yet, but I had my wetsuit on already so I opted to wait it out and 20 min later the pool manager showed up and opened the pool for us. So I got 2400m in by myself. Felt terrible. The wetsuit helped me to not be slow (plus, it was too cold to swim slow!) but I was reminded why I don't often take breaks away from the water. Swimming just sucks when you don't do it enough! I might go back tomorrow b/c I think the best way to feel good in the water is to swim often, even if you don't swim a lot during the session. 2K tomorrow then an ocean swim on Friday will set me back on the right path.

So sad 2400m left me feeling quite fatigued today. Ugh. That's what I get for being a full on wimp about swimming lately.

For my run this afternoon I wanted to do something quality, so I opted to repeat a neighborhood loop that goes ~1/4 mile up then ~1/4 mile back down (so it's a bit over 1/2mile total). I'd done this session before but it's been years. I like it because it feels like I get a bit of everything... strength work up the longer hill (2+ minutes to get to the top) then try to stay on the gas after being tired... some quicker/fast running on the way down. It's long enough that it's quite uncomfortable so I get some mental toughness benefit as well... This is the elevation profile from MapMyRun.

Going in I figured I'd do 5-6 loops, depending on how it was going. I timed them and found I was descending each one, but the 4th one felt hard... harder than I intended to go today. I wanted these to be solid but didn't want to feel like I completely left my legs out there (or be a session that I wouldn't recover from). The fact was, I started racing myself and going harder than I should have been. I fixed that problem by not starting my watch on the last 2x loops- that allowed me to get the right work in (by feel- it felt right- strong but not max) without racing myself. It feels good to be able to have confidence about a session without needing to see all the data that went along with it.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016


Not much to report for the last 2 days. Just two days of short easy running with the dog, plus a bit of FST type stuff. I mapped out a little taper plan for myself and 2 stupidly short/easy days is the start of it. Athletes tend to either love or hate taper. You can probably guess which camp I personally fall into. For me I think it is less a fear of losing fitness than it is about the fact that when I'm training big/hard, I feel motivated/fulfilled in a way that I don't when I'm not training big/hard. I like feeling like I'm on a roll, and stopping that momentum with a drastic taper doesn't feel right to me. That said, I've convinced myself that this is the right thing to do right now so am not really fighting it... mostly b/c tomorrow I get to do a decent workout again!

I still haven't swam. I jogged down to the pool yesterday morning with the intention of swimming, but the heater is not fixed yet and the water is so so cold. I had my suit + cap/goggles on and I just stood on the pool deck trying to convince myself to get in. One of the older ladies (braver than me!) got in and swam 100m and came back to the wall and said It's so cold I can't breathe! And that was all I needed to hear. I took my swim cap off and walked back to my dry clothes and jogged right back home. Then later of course I get email updates from my local athletes who are swimming and they are saying the water is cold but they did it and I thinking BLAH I am setting a shitty example right now!! The fact is, if I had an Ironman this year, I'd be gritting my teeth and getting in that icy water. But I don't have any reason/motivation to be swimming well right now. Clearly, one has to care about their performance in order to put up with the discomforts of training. Right now I don't care enough about swimming to put up with water that is 70 degrees. That said, I do plan on taking my wetsuit with me tomorrow and forcing 3K even if it kills me. Ok, maybe I'll start with 2K. I am tapering after all.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

How To Have A Great Run

I ran my hilly Gardens Run again today. It was hands down the best run I've had in years. When Scott asked how it went and I told him, he said "Running is so finicky". His point was that it seems, to him, that whether or not I have a good run or a crap run is completely random. Maybe sometimes it is, but I did some things today to set myself up to have a good one, so I don't think it was a complete random fluke today. Anyway, here's what I did.

~I ran stupidly easy yesterday.

~I massaged my quad like 3x throughout the day yesterday, in hopes that my knee would feel solid today (it did). The management stuff I'm doing for my knee is clearly working! It's not 100% perfect, but I'd say it's 90% and I'm able to run. As long as I stay on it, I feel at least somewhat confident that it won't stop me.

~I ate oatmeal for breakfast this morning. I am not on the anti-carb bandwagon. At all.

~I took Maia for a 20' walk this morning. I think that really easy movement like that is a great way to start the day!

~I spent at least 20 minutes working my key mobility hot spots- ankles, hips, t-spine. I used the voodoo band on my knee and ankle. I used a resistance band to do some 'Monster Walks' around our house. I activated my core with some plank movements and a few perfect form push-ups. I did 200 jumps with the jumprope (barefoot, including some single leg jumps). I guess you'd call this my version of a dynamic warm up. For sure it works for me- I felt super from the first step of my run today!

~I chose light shoes (Brooks Pure Flow) that tend to make my running stride feel smooth.

~I wore a cute running outfit (Pink Tartan by Coeur). Somehow when I'm wearing a cute outfit, I just feel better about everything and that leads to a better run. It's all in my head, but that's what fast running is, no?

~(Possibly most importantly) Before I started, I decided I was going to run fast today. "Fast" is relative, of course, but I think when we make this decision ahead of time, we are somehow more willing to put up with the discomfort that harder running brings.

On this route I rarely wear a garmin, but I know the distance b/c the route is a staple for me. I do start my stopwatch though, and I know my splits at several different check points along the way. I knew I felt good to start, and my goal today was to go ahead and push a little right from the beginning, with the thought that I wanted to whole run to be more of a tempo effort (vs just the back half, which I more commonly do). Mostly I wanted to see how I would feel if I wasn't so conservative to start. I admit I freaked out a bit when my first checkpoint (gate to the gardens, ~2 miles from my house) was over a minute faster than I did it last time (last time I completely blew up at the end!) so, um, yikes... I knew it could turn ugly at any moment but that was a risk I felt willing to take today. At the half, I was almost 2' faster than last time, and I had enough fatigue that it seemed plausible that I might not negative split today... but I tried anyway, and sure enough, neg split by more than 2 minutes, which shocked me for sure! I didn't blow up at all today which was awesome and confidence boosting and damn I needed that after some crappy runs the last few days/weeks. After my failed long run attempt on Thursday, I sort of thought maybe I wouldn't run again for quite some time... so knocking this out 4+ minutes faster than I've gone in years (over a 9.3 mile very hilly route) and not feeling like death at the end- winning! :)

These are the kind of run days that make you feel like all that slow crappy (but consistent!) running you did just might have been worth something after all. I still don't have a ton of confidence that I'm ready for a full marathon, but I do think that in a big picture way, I'm on the right track!

Saturday, January 2, 2016


Just jogged low aerobic 7.5 miles this morning. Felt like a recovery day. It used to be that the best way to get myself to truly go easy was to use my HR monitor as a leash. Recently though this method has started to piss me off, because I'm always 'racing' myself to see how fast I can go while staying within my own prescribed HR cap. Somehow when I'm coming back from a layoff or a while away from true aerobic training, this works great. Once I've spent 2 months doing it though, I get irritated when I don't see improvement every run, and then the uphills piss me off, and well, I need to find another method so I can achieve my objective but still enjoy running!

These days my best bet seems to be to leave my garmin at home and listen to a podcast. I'm not sure what it is exactly about podcasts, but when I listen to them while I run, I tend to go quite easy and stay really relaxed. Today I listened to the 3rd episode of the new Serial. They do such a great job of narrating a story- I genuinely enjoy listening and running while doing so is perfect. I think the thing I like the most about the narration of it all is how balanced it seems. I feel like they present the situations from lots of different angles, without much bias, but in great detail, which I appreciate. Last season I didn't discover Serial until they were like 10 episodes in, so it was great b/c I didn't have to wait a whole week (or two!) until the next one came out. This time around though I'm on it and I find myself  wanting them to come more frequently!

Knee held up today pretty well. Massaging my quads (by hand) seems to be the best thing I can do to manage that situation. Voodoo band has been quite good too, because that tends to make it crack when it needs to.

The last few days were really active for Maia. She spent a lot of time catching up on sleep today.

Friday, January 1, 2016


It occurred to me to do one of those posts where I go over highlights of the year, or goals/plans for the new year, but really, I think I prefer to keep this blog more acute (if that makes sense?). Blogs that gloss over details, to me, are way less interesting.

I'm not big into New Years Resolutions. I think it's funny when people assume that a year is going to be "GREAT!" but they don't set out a plan to make any real or lasting changes. Nothing changes because a page turned on the calendar.  But any of us can make lasting changes any day we want. We just have to decide.

I set out to do a long run yesterday. Ideally I wanted 20 miles and I felt good to start so thought yep I think I'm good for 20 today. But ~4 miles in my knee started talking to me. By mile 6 it was screaming and I had to make a decision b/c I was still running away from my house at that point... Part of me wanted to stubbornly run though it (because otherwise I felt good), but then I thought that might be a decision I would come to regret, so I turned around. I stopped several times on the way home to stretch, and when I could get my knee to crack/pop it would feel 100x better. I ended up with 13 miles instead of 20, which with the Maui Marathon in ~2 weeks felt like a giant failure. The worst part though was laying on my bed afterward, knee throbbing, thinking UGH I'm fucked. I really thought maybe that's it I wouldn't be able to run again for months. And then of course I was berating myself b/c of the jump in volume I'd put myself through the last 2 months. I have some big running plans for 2016 and the idea of not being able to run b/c I'm an idiot and ran too much just wasn't sitting well at all. I did all the rehab I know to do yesterday (reducing inflammation, massaging/rolling quad) and then spent the last evening of the year with some friends, some alcohol, and watching tons of illegal fireworks, hoping our house wouldn't catch fire.

Maia stayed very close to me all evening. At first I think she was trying to protect me from the bombs outside, but after 3-4 hours of constant loud BOOMING, she was shaking like a leaf. She doesn't normally sleep in bed with us, but we made an exception last night. She even cuddled up close while I was reading Moana a book.

I woke up this morning and my knee was hurting. Figured if it hurt while laying in bed, not moving, that was a bad sign. but then I got up and made it pop/crack, and instantly the pain was completely gone. I waited for it to come back but it never did.

We spent the day at the beach with a bunch of friends. 2016 started off in a picture perfect way. Looking at this I made a spur of the moment call to Mark asking if he wanted to swim. Convincing Mark to ocean swim is about as tough as convincing Maia to run, so we spent ~an hour  in this today and it was quite nice.

I came home and was exhausted, took a late afternoon nap (stayed up way past my bedtime last night and I'm too old for that!) and then had this nagging thought about needing to run. I've been on a bit of a run streak... I'd have to go back in my log to see for sure when it started, but I think it's been at least 2 months now where I've run- at least 1.5 miles- every day. Breaking my streak on New Years Day wasn't appealing, and since my knee had felt perfect all day I didn't really have an excuse. So I peeled myself off the bed and put my run shoes on and interestingly, felt awesome. Knee was fine, which frankly was baffling, though I am not complaining. I did a New Years Day themed run just for fun (16x1' on 30" rest), and 5 miles later walked in the door feeling 100x better than I did when I started. Anyway, cheers to 2016. I think if this year is going to be a "successful" one for me, I'm going to have to be diligent about all that rehab/prehab stuff... rolling, massaging, compressing... all of that.