Friday, September 26, 2014

Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo... and a Ticket to Boston!

The longest stint of travel I've done was about 6 weeks, but I had about 3 days home, interspersed between the countries.  This month, I had three uninterrupted weeks in Brazil.  I packed enough clothes to last the whole trip.  The company would pay for laundry, but I can't bear the idea of anyone paying the amounts charged by hotels... the cost of the cleaning is more than the original cost of my clothes.  I've come close before... 2.5 weeks, so 3 weeks seemed doable.  I remember the days when 2 weeks seemed like a long time, much longer than 1 week.  As an introvert, the 12 hrs per day of interaction with co-workers can be good and fun, and you get to know people more intimately than you can by living with them, then merely working with them in the context of an office.  I need some balance of time to just decompress and chill, too, though, and moreso as the days go on. 

Through experience, I've found the right balance for me, in a variety of contexts.  For example, you have no choice but to have meals that are not self-prepared, and meal times aren't what you're used to.  I'm more used to adapting to the local meal schedule now, or using snacking strategies to satiate my tummy until the next meal.  I still go out for group dinners from time-to-time, but I also feel ok with missing out on that and getting in some time in the gym after work, too, now.  I've also gotten used to doing hotel room strength sessions.  Finding balance is still a work in progress, and there's always some risk of leaning too much in the opposite direction, but I think there has been good progress.  When you go to a new place, it can be harder to figure out the schedule, so it is easier when you re-visit a place that you've been to.  If I go to a brand new place, there is more uncertainty about how to find that balance, because there's a lot to see and experience, but I am also more energized in the new setting.  I want to see everything, taste everything, and not let an hour go to waste.  If I've been to a place many times before, though, and I feel like I've seen what there is to see, I'm find with just napping and doing nothing in the hotel room all day, as I did once in Argentina and this time in Sao Paulo.


Saturday, September 6:
Still thrilled about the 5K results... 19:49!!!  I had [briefly] considered doing a second race on Saturday morning the previous night, when I was flying high with the results of the race.  The next morning, my body was not up for a second race, though, although I still felt strong.  With my pulled right back/butt, I opted for the spongy Swamp Rabbit trail, for a long-ish run, instead of risking jarring it with uneven, hard footing.  I had breakfast before, since I was hungry.  I didn't drink anything during this 10.5 miler, although I did start missing water at the end.  I had to push myself to do that last 1.8 mi lap, with the motive of breaking 20 for the week and ticking off a long run.  10.5 in 1:31:29, 8:42 ave.  Lap (not mile!) Splits> 8:30, 7:58, 7:51, 7:41, 7:39, 7:27, 7:29, 7:23, 7:19, 7:22, 7:26, 7:17.

Flew out to Sao Paulo, later that day.  The next day, I rested, to recover from the 5K and the 10er.  My legs felt like that would be safest.  I slept and did nothing.

Monday, September 8:
50 min strength session.  For the first time, I brought my elastic tubes to mimic weights.  It was nice... it's light, doesn't take up much space, and it's easier to use than substitutes that I've tried to use for weights in the past (namely, bottles of red wine, in Argentina, haha).

I realized on this day, that I hadn't brought my canister of supplements (multivitamin, glucosamine, and fish oil).  In the past, when I went without glucosamine for a couple of weeks (unintentionally, by completely forgetting), my knees would start to feel it, and then I would remember.  So I was worried that glucosamine was truly not a placebo, and that I really would need it, and would start feeling it some time during the 3-week trip.  To spoil the story, though, somehow, I didn't miss it during the trip.

Tuesday, September 9:
4.3 in 33:00, 7:35 ave.  Ran before dinner.  My body really craved a run mid-morning at work... my body was in the mood for it.  My right back was a good bit better today. Surprised at the fast pace, given the slow start.  This was on an old treadmill that looked like it was from the 70s.

Thursday, September 11:
4.3 in 34:50, 8:06 ave.  Before dinner.  Time went by so slowly during the first mile.  The gym was hot, but cool, crisp early spring air would stream in through the window in front of me about half of the time.  My back was much better.

Saturday, September 13:
Lazy morning.  Laid around.  Got in a run.  6.2 in 50:51, 8:12 ave.  The past week was the first week of registration, for those speedy runners who are able to beat their BQ cutoff by inordinate amounts.  Registration was set to re-open on Monday, though, for people who were within 5 min of their cutoffs.  I was psyched at the opportunity to finally put in my registration and hope that demand wouldn't exceed supply.

Sunday, September 14 - day at the Riviera do San Lorenco beach.  Jumped in the waves, played mini-beach tennis, had a nice meal, sat around.  The ride back was something, though.  Sao Paulo traffic is notorious.  It took 2.25 hours to get there, and 4 hours to get back.  It was a long 4 hours.


I had jumped around a lot at the beach, and I had run more on the balls of my feet, to chase loose balls from tennis.  My legs needed a couple of days to recover.

Wednesday, September 17:
I HAD to run today, since it had been 3 days.  The run felt harder than it should have, for such a slow pace.  It might've been the incline of the treadmill.  Only 3.7 in 32:59, 8:51 ave, but better than nothing.  The podcast helped to pass the time, this time.  I stuck the iPhone in my spibelt knockoff to have something to listen to.

I had put in my application for Boston on Monday.  On Wednesday, we found out that there would be some sort of cutoff time, because demand exceeded supply of spots.  On the Runner's World forums in the previous days, people had been guessing that we had a 75% chance of not filling up, but we did.  Most guessed that it didn't fill up by much, so perhaps the BAA would be able to take everyone, if demand exceeded supply only by a small amount.  It would take as long as a week for them to do their calculations, though, and make the final determination of who would get in.

And so my obsessive checking of forum updates began...

Friday, September 18:
60 min strength session at 5am.  My plank fitness has declined, for some reason... 2:15 was hard.

In the evening, 6.2 in 50:29, 8:07 ave.  After some junky snacks to help me curb hunger and decompress.  I've found that if I put off exercise until after dinner, I don't end up doing it... so it's always better to get it out of the way and go for it, even if I have the slightest inkling to do it before dinner.

Saturday, September 20:
We had to work today, and it felt draining.  Did the workout after dinner, because I had been hungry after work.  Legs felt fine enough to do it, even though it was after dinner... gotta go for it when my body is up for it!  5.6 in 46:17, 8:16 ave.

I woke up on Sunday with my right bursa feeling pulled again, so I didn't try running. 

The messages coming from the BAA made the outlook more and more pessimistic, about the idea of everyone getting in.  On the forums, people still held out hope that all would get in, or that if there was a cutoff, it would be small (10-15 seconds... maybe 30 at most).

I find that momentum is very strong, with doing workouts, and with not doing workouts.  I didn't run on Sunday or Monday.  Too tired and hungry on Monday, after work.

Sunday, went to a village outside of the metro area with a craft market.


Tuesday, September 23:
Body felt like it had to run... too long since the last run.  With my Boston fate up in the air, I also had this strange feeling, like the best thing to do about the uncertainty was to go for a run.  The BAA was going to wait until the deadline to make the announcement.  6.2 in 50:35, 8:10 ave.

Wednesday - at around 3pm, they finally made the announcement.  I had deluded myself into acting as if I was in, over the past week, particularly the past few days.  The thought of not making it in, after finally getting under the qualifying time on my fourth attempt was just too much, that I had to completely block it out of my mind.  I had already started making travel plans (the fully refundable kinds).  It was such a relief when I saw that I made it.  1:02 ended up being the cutoff.  I made it.  Then, I realized just how close I was to not making it... 15 seconds.  Imagine if I had to stop to tie my shoelace, or if I had to weave around extra people.  15 seconds, out of 3 hours, 33 minutes, 43 seconds.  That's nothing.  I just squeaked in.  It's like those times when you almost fall down the stairs but you somehow catch yourself and stay standing.  It was close. 

In the forums, I felt so bad for those who didn't make it.  Some had been shut out two years in a row, by the more-than-cutoff time.  For me, I don't know what I would've felt if I didn't make it.  It was too scary to dwell on, when things were up in the air.  I think after digesting it, I would've looked ahead to my upcoming Spartan races, then picked a good qualifier race for the next year.  I've been craving another marathon.  I feel like I'm running better than ever (more fit, despite not training so much), so I can PR and get a better qualifying time.  Maybe... I hope that I would have been able to get over it.  I feel so bad for those who didn't make it.  Oh, man. 

I'm still kind of in disbelief that I'll be going to Boston in April.  It seems unreal.  I've worked towards this for the past four years, and it's finally going to come true.  A dream come true.  I didn't run that night.  I had to celebrate.

Thursday, September 25:
50 min strength session.

Friday - fly home, at last.  I had been counting down the days, then the hours.  3 weeks is a long time.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

RACE REPORT: Beer & BBQ Swamp Rabbit 5K 2014 - First sub-20 5K!

In HS, my 5K cross-country PB was 21;40 or so, going down from 23:24 my freshman year.  I only ran for fun in college, since I would’ve had little chance making the team.  After college, I got my PB down to 20:40, and that brought a sub-20 PB into the realm of possibility.  I thought I had just about plateaued there, though.  If I wanted to break through, I figured that I would have to have dedicated training for that distance, with a focus on speedwork.  I was more absorbed by conquering the marathon over the past few years, though, as I was eager to make it to the top of amateur sport by qualifying for Boston.  I still raced 5Ks, though mostly as fun ways to practice racing, throw in some speed, and enjoy the thrills of competing. 

This past  October, on my 4th attempt at the marathon, I qualified for Boston.  With that goal checked off the list, I’ve been taking this year pretty easy.  I had felt like I had been there / done that with road races, so I started getting into obstacle races.  I was travelling a lot, too.  My mileage has been maintenance.  I did start adding in fartlek-style runs through the Zombies, Run app, though.  Between that, and perhaps accumulated mileage and endurance, I had a couple of good runs recently.  I was still super-low mileage, though, and travel can wear on you a bit and throw off workout plans.

I started missing road racing again, after about ¾ a year with near zero road racing.  I signed up for a couple of 5Ks.  I’ve gotten into beer over the past couple of years.  I like collecting the bottle caps, and it’s also exciting to experience the colors, flavors, aromas, and mouthfeels of the wide spectrum of craft and global beers.  When I found a couple of races this year that were beer-themed, it was a no-brainer. 

I was recovering from travel, but I had a good taper, coming in to the Swamp Rabbit Beer & BBQ 5K.  I decided to take Friday off, so that I wouldn’t have to worry about traffic, and so that I could take some much-needed rest.  It was hot as I sat in the car for 2 hrs before the race, as I had wanted to beat traffic.  During the warmup, I was shocked by how asleep my body felt, though.  I was nervous.  I wanted to podium so badly.  Going for me, was some pre-race nutrition and a pre-race cooling protocol. 

At the gun, we were off.  There were 5-6 women around me.  After about ¾ of a mile, it was down to 2.  It was such a relief.  The good thing about not over-extending myself at the start, is a better race time overall.  It can be nerve-racking, though, to have to be catching people the whole time, with uncertaininty about whether you’ll make it.  There were no mile markers, but the race was against others, not against the clock.  Ahead of me was a girl running with her little pug.  I was floored by how fast they were going.  I was barely able to reel them in, catching them with about ¾ of a mile to go.  While I was still chasing, I thought to myself how it must be tough for a dog, since they don’t have the benefit of the central governor in their brain to tell them that they were close to the finish line and only had to push a bit longer.  For all they know, they may have to keep up that pace for a while.  At the same time, they were driven by something also very powerful – love for their owner.  Such were my thoughts as I pushed through the pain.  It was starting to feel pretty hot, but I pictured myself at the park where I spent many a summer evening.  The 1st place girl was pretty far ahead, so it was all about staying strong and not letting off the pedal. 

I reached the final stretch to the Swamp Rabbit Brewery and went in to the line.  I saw 19:XX and figured that the course was probably a bit on the short side.  I was excited about the podium finish, and I won a growler, as I had hoped.  It didn’t come with a fill-up, but that’s good, as I was travelling the next day, and would’ve had a dilemma if I wound up with all that beer.  All finishers got BBQ and what turned out to be world-class beer that has won many medals.  The Wit was amazing, and it lives up to its medals 100%…. It’s hard to believe that we have a place that brews some of the best beer in the world, right in our backyard.  I sat in the taproom and soaked up the ambiance… it has a really fun atmosphere.  I even made some friends there, and we spent about an hour talking.  

I found out the next day that the 5K was USATF-certified, so the 19:49 was legit!  That was 50s off my PR, on a hot day.  Still can’t believe it.  It came out of nowhere… or maybe out of Zombies and a few good years of consistent running.  I’m thrilled.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Back in the US and Labor Day: Aug 16-Sep 2

Saturday, Aug 16 - In ATL, I helped my sister move out of her apartment.  She's going to NYC.  I'm going to miss visiting her in ATL, although NYC is going to be fun, too.  Travel is just a bit more complicated, with less of an opportunity for last-minute trips.  I should have run, wish I had run, but I was too lazy after the long flight and slept, instead.  Carrying stuff back and forth at least got me moving, though.

Sunday, Aug 17:
Zombies at the park in the evening.  6.1 in 50:35, 8:18 ave.

Monday, Aug 18:
1 hr strength session.

Tuesday, Aug 19 - Decided to sleep, because my body felt so off.  Slept 7pm-2am, then 4am-6:30am.  Took maca root.

Wednesday, Aug 20:
I had been eating lots at work and after work this week - stress?  a different schedule than the one in Argentina?  making up for a calorie deficit of some sort?  Had to fight to get this run done - my body felt off, and my head has been feeling off all week.  Plus, I had to stop due to a bathroom need.  2 degree treadmill, 4.0 in 32:37, 8:09 ave.  Splits> 8:30, 8:19, 8:10, 7:36 = 7:50 ave effort.

Thursday, Aug 21:
After laying on bed half-asleep for a while, then doing dishes to wake up my legs, I decided to go for intervals, to do a real workout for the first time in a while.  I was surprised it worked, and it was a good workout, too!  I was glad to be able to throw down the 15 miler a couple weeks ago, then do this speed session, without much prep.  I did some arms afterwards.  Feeling better today.

The workout: 4:04 for 0.5 mi warmup, 3x[0.75mi @ 9mph (5:00), 0.25mi @ 7.5mph (1:58)], 3:27 for a 0.5mi shakeout.

Saturday, Aug 23:
After eating, I was barely able to run, let alone do Zombie fartleks, so I just did a normal run at the park.  Slow, but better than nothing.  Did pushups afterwards.  Loop Splits> 7:54, 7:28, 7:11, 6:58, 6:51, 6:34, 6:12.  5.2 in 49:12, 9:22 ave.

Sunday, Aug 24:
Legs felt used in the morning.  Figured I would do an easy run, but my legs were feeling good, so I got in some decent miles until it got dark, and my legs were getting tired.  8.2 in 1:15:56, 9:12 ave.  Splits> 7:49, 7:29, 7:12, 7:14, 6:54, 6:47, 6:33, 6:34, 6:27, 6:05.

Monday, Aug 25 - legs were recovering today.  Body still tired and sick-ish.  Slept only 5 hrs last night, due to long naps in the daytime on Sat/Sun.

Tuesday, Aug 26 - legs still recovering.  Too risky to run.  Body didn't even feel safe enough to do a strength session.

Wednesday, Aug 27:
Stressful day.  Tired, but not as bad as usual. Had chocolate beforehand.  Decent base run.  5.0 in 40:39, 8:08 ave, on a 3 degree treadmill = 7:31 effort.  Splits> 8:31, 8:21, 8:15, 8:03, 7:27.

Thursday, Aug 28:
After 1/2 a night's sleep, did a 1 hr strength session at 2am.  Not in the mood to use the elevation mask for some reason.  Good session, though.

Friday, Aug 29 - spent the night packing/cleaning, in preparation for a trip to CHS to visit my dad, while my mom and sis were in NYC for my sister's move.

Saturday, Aug 30 - didn't make the effort to wake from my evening nap to go outside for a run, or to run late at night in the gym when I woke from the nap.  Regretted it.

Went to Westbrook Brewery, which is not far at all from where I live.  I heard about it from the Craft Beer Anonymous podcast, and if those beer critics loved it, it must be awesome... and it was.  I shared a flight of sours with my dad, followed by a brewery tour.  Such a little place, close to my home, makes such good beer!

Sunday, Aug 31:
Did 3 2.25 mi laps around the neighborhood while my dad biked alongside.  Didn't think the third lap was possible, but my dad encouraged me to do it.   Charleston is way more humid than Greenville.  Didn't have breakfast before the 8am run.  Didn't miss the food, but I missed the water.  I only drank a bit beforehand.  A lame week for workouts.  6.6 mi in 1:00:27, 9:06 ave.  Splits> 20:51, 19:20, 20:11.

Went shopping that day.

I wish I had bought this, which I found in the kids halloween costume section:

Afterwards, we went to the boardwalk in Shem Creek, which made me wish even more that I had bought the dolphin.  It was pretty and relaxing there.

I even saw a stand-up paddle boarder with a dog!  Stand-up doggie paddle board!

Although I didn't get the dolphin, I did find a shadowbox table, so I was finally able to make my beer cap table!  Only about half of my caps fit, with this design, though.  I like it.

Monday, Sep 1:
I had woken up this morning with what felt like a torn glute.  Maybe it was from moving furniture around over the weekend.  It improved a wee bit as the day went on.  After driving back home, I managed a run ok.  4.0 in 32:25, 8:06 ave at 2 degrees = 7:47 effort.  Splits> 8:28, 8:14, 8:07, 7:34.

Tuesday, Sep 2:
I planned to race on Friday.  I barely made it out to the gym, and I only managed to get in 2.6 mi before it closed, but with the race and the need for my back to heal up, it was probably for the best.  Better than nothing, and I felt pretty good.  2.6 in 21:13, 8:10 ave.