Monday, August 27, 2012

Aug 21-26 : 1st Rest Week, Trying Ancillary Work - p v

This week was the rest week of the first cycle.  I'll talk more about my training plan in my next post.  For now, here's a recap of this week:

Aug 21, Tuesday:
60 min strength session, on 2.5 hours of sleep.

Aug 22, Wednesday:
Treadmill run in Newton shoes that's half a size too big.  Oh well, still runnable.  The shoes forced me to take smaller steps, landing under my body, which should be a good form change. My feet were kind of uneven in the shoes, though.  The right foot would roll through just fine, as if the lugs didn't exist.  On my left foot, however, it was as if part of the shoe was missing, and not only did I feel the drop-off of the lugs, but the material on the left half of the toes seemed to almost be missing, and I could almost feel the lugs under my toes.  Don't know if it's my feet or if it's the shoes.

I threw in some hills because it felt kinda good, and even then, the run's effort felt pretty easy.  Earlier in the day, I had calculated the degree inclines of the Philly course.  There's a 1.2 mi portion at 2.5 degrees, a 1 mile portion of negative 3 degrees, a 0.3 mi portion of 7 degrees, and a 0.3 portion of -7 degrees.  The hills, I can sort of train for... not the full feeling of doing uphill then running another 16 mi after having done 10 mi already... but at least the uphill part.  The downhill will be a bit harder to train for, and they may hold a good quad thrashing.  It'll be eccentric contractions.  Maybe some plyo squats will help.

Splits> 8:23 @ 1 degree, 8:03 @ 1 degree, 8:12 @ 3 degrees, 8:07 @ 5 degrees, 8:02 @ 1 degree, 3:52 for 0.5 mi @ 3 degrees.  No well-defined hill pattern... just mixing up the usual run a bit.  5.5 in 44:40, 8:07 ave.

After that run, I tried the Cannonball Cooldown, to help with mobility.  I've been listening to Coach Jay Johnson's podcasts lately, and it sounds like doing that kind of ancillary work really helps with recovery, injury prevention, muscle balances, muscle recruitment, (benefits depend on what kind of ancillary work you do) all helping you to run more, and more efficiently.

Here's the cooldown:

I think it did help me feel better.  I tried it twice this week.

Aug 23, Thursday:
Treadmill again.  Decided to just hold marathon pace, to get used to it.  I only held it for 4 miles, though, before the repetitive stresses were too much for me and I sped it up for another 0.8.  Splits> 8:30, 4x8:00, 5:43 for 0.8.

Friday - lower legs were sore, mostly from the Newtons, probably, and maybe a tiny bit from the hills.  Did the Cannonball Cooldown  again.  Also a bit of self-Sweedish massage to flush out whatever.  I still like static stretching at night, even though there's movement against it.  I wouldn't recommend it before workouts, but I do like it a few hours after workouts.  Feels good.

Aug 25, Saturday:
I saw a video about Mastering Technique Drills, and they looked really good, too. It calls for doing a warmup (I did 3 mi), then doing a set of 10 drills with jogs, strides, and walking afterwards, then doing a bit more running to hard-wire the new firing patterns (I did 3 mi).  It took about 18 minutes.  At first, it felt really easy, and I considered doing 2 sets.  With all the strides, though, it ended up being just right the way it was.  The video is a bit goofy at first during the intro, but the drills are really well thought out, I think.

6 in 47:14, 7:52 ave.   Wore more flexible Kinvaras, to allow for more natural movement, foot muscle activation and strengthening, etc.  Splits> 6:28, 07, 5:53, 38.  After: 5:58, 47, 40, 39.

Aug 26, Sunday:
Went back to the park to get in some more running on soft, varied surface.  Good to be outside, in the fresh air, with natural ground for my feet.  It was getting dark by the time I got out, though.  30 minutes of runnable sunset, and about 15 minutes using a teeny pen light mostly for confidence, while altering my usual lap course to stay on flatter, less rutted surfaces.  5.2 in 46:24, 9:02 ave.

I think the Technique drills stressed my feet more than they're used to, so they feel kinda banged up... hope I don't get a stress fracture or anything like that.  Gotta ease into new things.  I think they help, just gotta ease into it.

STILL waaaay jetlagged.  Go to sleep at 4am, would prefer to wake at 2pm, then nap for a couple of hours in the evening.  Getting up for work every day last week was rough.

On the bright side, I used nocturnal time to make some really good chocolate chip banana bread.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Aug 14-19 : 1st Philly Cycle Done

Back in GVL.  Still jetlagged.  In the last 2 days, I didn't fall asleep until 4-5am (after taking a 1 hr nap at around 10pm).  I'd wake at 2:30pm or so.

This week was the peak week of the first cycle of my Philly buildup.

Aug 14, Monday:
65 min strength session. 

Aug 15, Tuesday:
Progression run my accident.  It just felt so good.  It was supposed to be a base day.  Splits> 8:43, 8:09, 8:00, 7:47, 7:32, 7:10, 1:22 for 0.2.  6.2 in 48:36, 7:50 ave.  Was forced out of a nap, my body hot and screaming.  Stiff at the start, so I started, slow, but after 2 days off of running, my legs wanted to stretch out.  They still felt fresh at the 5 mile mark that the schedule called for, so I kept going.

Aug 16, Wednesday:
4.5 in 35:02, 7:47 ave.  Tempo run day.  1 mi warmup in 8:38, 3 mi @ 7:29 pace, 3:54 for 0.5 mi.  76 degrees.  Easier this time than last time (a week ago), though still not a walk in the park.  Stopped 0.5 mi early, partially because of a slight twinge developing in my right knee, partially because a boy was probably waiting for the treadmill.

Friday midnight - Hunger Games release party!!!
I had forgotten to track it until my dad emailed to let me know about the Walmart release parties, where you could get a DVD+Pendant combo.  They'd also be giving away packs of trading cards.  I was so excited.  I wore my Katniss gear and drove out to my local Walmart, only to find out that they weren't having the party because they weren't a 24-hour Walmart, so I drove to another. 

There, they had cake (none for me).  I got the DVD, and later when I opened the cards, I found that I had gotten one of the random packs that had an autographed card! (Clove)!!  The odds were in my favor!!!

I had thought about bringing my Bow, but good thing I didn't, since nobody else was dressed up.  It would've been even worse if I had worn the bow into the Walmart that wasn't having the party, haha.

Aug 18, Saturday:
It was supposed to be a 4 mi base day, but my legs felt fresh after a day off, and they wanted to be stretched out.  3.5 in 29:01, 8:17 ave.  0.25 warmup, then 4x[1/4 @ 1 degree, 1/4 @ 5 degrees, 1/4 @ 7 degrees], 0.25 cooldown in 2:06.  Did a hill workout, to work my muscles while keeping things still not too intense.  Although it was quite a challenging workout after all.  The first rep was fine.  The second, I was getting into it.  The third was tough.  The fourth, I didn't know if I'd be able to finish, but I pushed through to stay on my mileage target for the week.

Aug 19, Sunday:
Longest LR in a while!  Since the March marathon, in fact!  The longest after that was 13.3, which was a couple of weeks after the marathon.  15.2 in 2:23:22, 9:26 ave.  Always fear the LR a bit, but gotta get it done.  I've been reading Born to Run.  It starts somewhat slow, but it picks up and gets hard-to-put-it-down exciting after a while.  Ultramarathoners are able to do what they do by learning to love the pain, be its friend.   I thought about that some while I ran.  I also thought a bit about Kara and Shalane's performances in the Marathon.  You could tell they gave it everything.  I have such respect for that.  That's what I love about this sport.  Inspiring.

(Aww, friends :)  )

Meb's performance was also incredible.  To finish 4th in his last Olympic marathon.  He gave a gutsy effort in a brilliant race.

Having been traveling during the marathons, I wasn't able to catch up on the coverage until this week.  So glad they posted full recaps at

Anyway.... back to my baby run...  I had a brownie during it, and it was so good that I thought "if I can have a decadent brownie every time I do a LR, I'll do a LR every weekend!!!".  It was a leftover packaged brownie from the airplane... not bad other than the high sugar content, which was fine for LR food, since sugars get processed differently during exercise and won't do damage then.  It was good.

I had knee pain on my outer right, lower knee at mile 8.5.  I tried to run it off, do small steps, but it didn't work this time.  I thought I'd have to cut the run short - boo.  Straying from the plan.  But, I stopped, deep-tissue massaged my Tibialis anterior, then went on.  This time, I tried purposely overstriding but still keeping my landing foot perpendicular to the ground during landing.  That helped, and my knee was fine for the rest of the run!!!  Another tool for my arsenal.  It sucked to encounter it during the run (although I did feel it on my past 2 runs... will need to be careful about that and foam roll and/or massage), but knowing that I can get through it through a quick massage break is a good lesson for the future. 

I had 2 bottles of water - one halfway, and one towards the end.  Glad to have 2.  Normally, I only bring 1, but during my last 9.7 mi run, 1 wasn't enough. 

My gear was sooooo wet with sweat afterwards.  Nasty stuff, haha.  Glad to have all-weather floormats in my car.

My iPod shuffle was struggling a bit during the last part of my run, with the sound cutting in and out a bit, from the sweat, I'm pretty sure.  Poor iPod.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Aug 5-13 : Striding through Shanghai

The last stage in the month-long global whilwind... Argentina, Philly, Atlanta, Greenville, and finally, Shanghai.

Left GVL on Sunday at 6am, arrived in Shanghai on Monday at 3pm, local time.  The longest leg of the flight was 15 hours.  Watch a couple movies, sleep your way through the rest a much as you can, and drink whenever you get a chance to avoid compromising your immune system.

Rode the Maglev from the airport into the city.  It goes a pedestrian 301kph during business hours, instead of the 431kph it hits at other times.

(Maglev "tracks"... no real tracks... just looks like a flat wood surface with 2 narrow gutters)

Monday evening, I did a bit of exploring on the Bund, the river bank where many colonial powers set up their official buildings back in the day.  Looking across the river, you can see many modern skyscrapers.  I stuck around that area until nighttime, which gave a different perspective, even more stunning.

I intentionally sought out opportunities to drink juice and eat produce, to stay healthy through all of the travel.

That night, I hit the well-stocked gym for 5.6 mi in 48:11, 8:36 average.  The run went well despite doing it after hours of walking on tired legs.  Watched the Olympics during the run, in Chinese, of course.

I thought I'd be able to adjust to the 12 hour time difference pretty easily, since I tend to sleep 4-6 hours per night (wish I could do more; it would certainly help my running and make me feel less tired) and my sleep schedule is so messed up.  But... I didn't, and 4pm-7pm was always rough.  On two nights, I went straight into a nap after work and just hit a Seven Eleven at like 11pm to eat snacks for dinner.

Breakfast and lunch buffets at the hotel were good, though, with many options to suit Western and Eastern tastes of its diverse clientele.  I always went for a variety of veggies with some lean protein and a bit of fruit.

(big breakfast)

What was awesome about being in China during the Olympics was that they had multiple channels with coverage of the games like 24/7.  I'd usuall wake up at 2am after managing only a couple hours of sleep, and Olympics were there to keep me company through the night.  I only have antenna TV at home, and NBC PrimeTime coverage limits you to intermittent coverage of certain popular sports, so the all-you-can-eat buffet of Olympics was a nice change. 

Wednesday, got in another 5 mi.  1K warmup in 5:39, 2 x [1.6K @ 14kph (6:52... about a mile), 0.4K @ 11mph (2:08)], 3K cooldown.  Total time 39:02, ave pace 7:48.

Friday, another 5 mi.  This time, easy, in 46:02, 9:12 pace.

The flight was $1000 cheaper if I stayed the weekend, so I did.  Took advantage of the opportunity to explore.

(Old teahouse)
(Old city shopping)


(Zhu Jia Jiao - one of the 7-or-so "Venices" of the Shanghai area)

(Got my name carved in a seal)

This was week 2 of marathon training, so I still had to get in a 12 miler.  On Monday, before checking out, I hit the gym at 7am to get in the miles. I alternated 2K at 1 degree, 2K at 3 degrees, to vary the use of muscles for the long run.  I also varied the pace to whatever was comfortable.  I eased up on the pace during the 3 degree portions.  I was so proud of myself for fitting it all in this week, despite the heavy jet lag and social and work obligations.  The gym felt like a sauna, and I was soaked with sweat afterwards, even after drinking 2 bottles of water during the run.  12.1 in 1:53:01, 9:20 ave.

Shanhai in general was super hot and humid, making GVL feel cool in comparison.  Just step outside for a minute, and you start sweating, even though it's usually cloudy.  Don't know if it's a cloud of smog.  Makes me thankful for the clean air in the States. 

Made it through the trip back.  Touchdown in Newark... you can see Manhattan in the background. 

Now, back home for the near future. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Decided the night before the race to do this race.  I was going to travel the next day, and it had been a month and a half since I raced last, so it would be an injection of fun.  It would be hard to fit in races within the marathon schedule later on, so I should get it in now if I can.

It's been 11 years since I last did a 10K race!  8th grade was the last time, I think.  There aren't as many 10Ks, and when there are, I can't make it, or there are Halfs, etc.  Looked up the McMillan calculator to see what I could expect.  I had a fairly light week, so my legs should've been fairly fresh.  Based on past 5K-HM times, I could expect 43:11 under ideal conditions.  It would be a bit warmer than that, though, and it turned out to be moderately hilly.

Just went by feel.  5K race pace is 6:41, and ideally, this would be 6:56, so just go a bit slower than 5K pace.  We started off at 7:30am.  The Olympics had been going on for a week.  I wore my USATF 2004 Olympics kit to mark the occassion.  That was a big reason for my decision to run this race - to have fun and pretend to be racing in the Olympics, haha.

In the first 0.2 mi, there were 3 girls leading.  One was wearing light green, one was wearing red and white, and one was me.  I was tempted to say "you're Brazil, and you're Canada", but I contained myself.  I got a few "Go USA"s and the like, which was fun.

Hills started in the latter parts of the first mile.  Practiced my arm form - relaxing during downhills, in preparation for the energy conservation techniques I'd need during the marathon. 

There were 3 water stops, which was nice.  It was a smaller race compared to the bigger ones in town.  The signage could've been better at a couple of turns, but nothing too serious.  Sun came out in mile 4.  It had been cloudy and threatening to rain before.  Cloudy is perfect.  Mile markers were probably a bit off (first long, last short), but they could still be used to reset my watch everytime so that I could estimate how far I had gone between the splits, based on the elapsed time. 

Finished first for the women in 45:54.  Considering the warmth and the hills, not bad!

(Photo credits: Pace Magazine - Greenville's pure Running Mag)

No prizes, so it was truly a fun run / awareness run.  Had fun, raised awareness, check, check.

I still had 10 miles to do on my training schedule, so it was a double!!!

After eating and napping, my legs still felt stiff, but while packing for the next day's trip, my legs loosened up, and I headed out to the park.  9.7 in 1:28:18, 9:05 ave.  Fairly consistent pacing.  Practiced using my glutes to power the run.  It was great!!!  Took a load off of other muscles.  A Running Times article that I had seen but not read yet had mentioned people underutilizing glutes.  It'll be a technique to use in the future.

First week of marathon training - done.

July 28 - Aug 2 - ATL and GVL - p

The traveling whirlwind continues...


July 28th - Saturday: Went to ATL to visit my sister, who had just moved into a new apartment.  Double excitement: Olympics had started the previous night with the opening ceremonies.  We stopped by Sam's on the way there to pick up a flat sreen so that we'd have something to watch it on.

 (Pooky bear is pooped out from watching so much Olympics)

Dragged myself out to the apartment's super sweet fitness center for a workout.  Felt a bit lethargic.  5.0 in 38:20, 7:40 ave.  Workout: 1/2 mi warmup @ 7mph, 6 x [800 on (3:33 or 8.5mph), 400 off (2:07 or 7mph)].  Watched lots of Olympics.  Ate lots of produce today.  I had had about 2 weeks with little produce, so I craved it.  Feels good to eat clean.

July 29 - Sunday: Spin session - 40 minutes.  Legs had felt a bit banged up from yesterday, but I still wanted cardio.


Back home for a week.  Marathon training begins!!! 

July 30th - Monday: 6.5 in 54:08, 8:20 ave.  Not too hard - could've gone longer.

In the past 2 marathon cycles, I did my own pace distributions for the workouts and only followed the Runner's World Smart Coach as far as mileage/workout went. I did my own kind of speed sessions and just did whatever pace I felt comfortable with. This time, to try something new to see if it will help, I'll follow the workouts and prescribed paces as much as I can.

Aug 1 - Wednesday: 4.6 in 35:47, 7:47 ave.  1 mi warmup in 8:26, 3 x 7:30 tempo run, 0.6 mi cooldown in 4:51.  Expected it to be an easy workout, but holding 7:30 was surprisingly hard.  Dunno why.  I guess I'm used to progression runs that build to 8mph in the last bit, and I do 0.75mi reps @ 9mph for speedwork, but doing 8mph continuously for 3 mi, real tempo work, is something I pretty much never do.

Aug 2 - Thursday: 65 min strength session.  It had been 2 weeks since the last one, but everything besides the 2:15 plank was at its normal levels. 

Since the last couple of days in Argentina, my nose had been runny, but now, 1.5 weeks better, it's finally getting better.  Maybe restocking on produce helped.  Vitamins are key.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

July 22-26 : Philly Preview - p

I arrived back in the US on Saturday afternoon, and at 6am the very next morning, I was on my way to Philly for training.  Enough to wash my winter laundry from Buenos Aires, and to pack summer clothes.

On Sunday, I spent the day exploring Philly and trying some new vegan restaurants.  I'm a fan of clean food like that.  Lots of fresh and creative recipes, too. 

Jar Bar (raw food place - my first time)
(Chocolate Mousse Pie made of avacado, coconut oil, agave, coconut, cocoa, and Mexican Lasagna made of cashews, nutritional yeast, tomato, basil, zuchhni, spinach)

The mousse pie was awesome.  You wouldn't believe it was made out of avacado.

Blackbird Pizzaria

100% vegan.  Daiya brand soy cheese is the best, and seitan pepperoni.

It was exactly 17 weeks out from when I would be running the Philly marathon, and 1 week later, I would start my 3rd marathon buildup.  The start and finish of that race is at the Art Museum where Rocky ran up the steps.

Psyched for Philly.

Other Sites

(Liberty Bell)

(Independence Hall)

(City Hall)


Late in the day, after lots of walking (in flipflops, as usual... my feet don't like to get hot), I ran in Fairmount Park, which is miles 13-16.1ish, as well as miles 23-26.2ish, since that's an out-and-back portion of the course.  I've run miles 0-13 before, in the Half Marathon in 2008, and much of Fairmount Park will be the same, and that's miles 16-23, so I have a pretty good idea of the course now. 

It's good to be able to visualize a race, because...
... knowing a course makes a run go by so much faster.  You can just zone out.
... you don't mentally freak out if you hit unexpected hills, etc.
... familiarity = confidence.

 I stuck to the grassy sides.

6.3 in 52:52, 8:23 ave.  Going out, the run went by fast, and the miles ticked away easily.  I guess I was excited.  Even after lots of walking (maybe 4 mi?), my legs felt fresh running-wise.  Different muscles, movements?  The way back was tough.  Maybe the heat, dehydration were getting to me, and my legs were tiring.  Finished, though, by running up the Rocky steps.  80 degrees, sunny with bits of shade, 7pm. 

At 11pm after a day of class, I hit the stairmaster.  I was going to bike, but the angle wasn't adjustable and didn't suit my knees.  Durng the session, my left knee was kinda off - that's the one that crackles a bit when I go up stairs sometimes.  So proably shouldn't do the stairmaster too often, since it could cause imbalances if I compensate for the knee thing in some way.  But I got in 35 minutes.  Was tired before, but no reason not to work out.

Meant to nap and go to the gym @ night, but decided to sleep through.

The class was literally blocks away from Valley Forge, so I went to the national park after class was over.  I had done the main loop on a previous visit, so I decided to take a different trail this time.  It turned out to be awesome, since it was shady and truly trail, whereas the main park is grass and under the sun.

I started off on a trail called Happy Creek.  It was flat, and the effort was easy and fast.  It led to a covered bridge.  On my way back, I turned onto a trail called Misery Mountain... found out that they didn't name it arbitrarily.

Compare for yourself....
Happy Creek...

Misery Mountain...

Finally, I headed back on Horseshoe Trail... they should've named that "lose your horseshoe trail", because at some point, I had to go back downhill from the Misery Mountain climb, and this trail was it.  Lots of careful control on the loose gravel.  Surprised I didn't turn my ankle a single time, especially b/c my Saucony Paramount shoe are kind of top-heavy.

The last few miles were tough, back under the sun.  With the trail climbs, it was slow going at certain points.  8.4 in 1:23:08, 9:54 ave.  82 degrees.

This was my breakfast every morning:
(Oatmeal, skim milk, walnuts, bit of sugar-free syrup, and scrambled eggs... sounds yuck, but tastes really good!!!  and covers the food groups... tomato juice completed the vitamin side)