Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Training recap

I think I've done a post like this for every marathon I've taken even somewhat seriously since I started this blog.  It's like a confidence-building tradition to look at how my weekly mileage stacks up, and more recently, I like to compare it against past years. 

There's an awesome passage that I've posted before about doing your homework.  All those weekday runs stack up in a training season to get you ready.  When I don't want to get out of bed to go run, I don't give myself that option.  I just make myself go, doing my homework, slogging out those everyday miles, slowly and almost immeasurably building on prior runs.  So on race day, it's just doing the things I've always done, getting out there to run some miles.  Just somewhere new, with thousands of others, and in a different city.  I love that concept.  And it makes me feel good to look at how all those days of running have piled up into some fairly significant (for me) totals. 

This year, here's how my 20 (!!) training weeks broke out, well, actually only 19, since this week is still in progress:
0-30.0 miles per week:  2 weeks (first week of training, and a week with no long run (Saturday the prior week, Sunday the following), plus this week I expect)
30.0-34.9 miles per week: 5 weeks
35.0-39.9 miles per week: 3 weeks
40.0-44.9 miles per week:  1 week
45.0-49.9 miles per week:  5 weeks
50.0-54.9 miles per week: 1 week
55.0-59.9 miles per week:  0 weeks
60.0 or more miles per week:  2 weeks (67.7 miles and 60.3 miles to be exact!)

Note, I was perfectly honest in that and counted runs on the actual day they were done (so if I had to do my long run one day early meaning one week had 2 longs and the next had none, that was how I counted it).  It is notable that both weeks of 60+ had double long runs, so if I were doing my usual "close enough" counting, it would have stacked up to be more even (more weeks around 45 instead of some around 60 and others around 30).  The first 60+ was the week before Labor Day, with an 18 on 8-24 and a 17 on 8-30, plus quite a few in between.  And the second 60+ was the week before last, with a 22 on 9-14 and a 14 on 9-20 (just because there was a race I wanted to do that day, which I was lucky enough to finish with Megan).  I think most years in my recaps, I haven't counted on the actual day, instead, since I never shift my long run by more than one day, I used to kind of roll it over to the day the miles were supposed to be done (and I never rolled it over more than a day), but below in the paper records, that's how I traditionally counted -- actual miles run on actual day. 

With that caveat, I think I can say that this season held my highest mileage week ever with the 67.7, but since it was double long runs, I hestitate to count it.  But my 67.7 week is notable in that it was preceded and followed by weeks at about 45, so it's not like I totally phoned it in around that week.  If I had stuck with the same day every week for a long run, the highest mileage would have been that week still, but it would have been around 60. 

In summary, this year I had 2 weeks under 30 (soon to be 3), 8 weeks in the 30s, 6 weeks in the 40s, and 3 weeks in the 50+s.  That's 9 weeks over 40 miles, which I've always considered my "tipping point" in serious training (at least for the last several years).

I will have logged (just barely) over 800 miles in the 20 weeks of training (I'm assuming (knock on wood) that I'll follow the rest of this week's schedule, but I'm over 795 already).  

How does that stack up against past years?  Here's a big training evolution for me you.

In 2013, for Berlin, I had about 815 pre-race miles over 19 weeks of training, broken out as follows:
0-30.0 miles per week:  3 weeks
30.0-34.9 miles per week: 3 weeks
35.0-39.9 miles per week: 1 weeks
40.0-44.9 miles per week: 3 weeks
45.0-49.9 miles per week: 4 weeks
50.0-54.9 miles per week: 1 week
55.0 or more miles per week: 4 weeks
Otherwise stated, 3 weeks under 30, 4 weeks in the 30s, 7 weeks in the 40s, and 5 weeks in the 50+s.  A total of 12 weeks over 40.  It still marks the most mileage I've ever put into a single goal marathon.  That daily commuting habit I had that year really paid off in mileage (and a PR).  I can see from my times that year that I was much better about hitting my paces and doing the scheduled workout than I have been this year -- when there have been many days with scheduled pace work and instead I've just run easy. 

VERDICT:  WEAKER than 2013. 

In 2012, there was no goal race (that whole thing happened when I cried my eyes out because they cancelled the Beijing Marathon AFTER we had bought plane tickets to China and I had spent the summer training my @ss off, and race day was only about 6 weeks away).  Earlier in 2012, I ran a spring marathon, but it wasn't a regular race, it was a memorial to the Bataan Death March in World War II, and I did it with a pack weighing over 40 pounds on my back.  While it was an awesome race and I performed a lot better than I expected, I did nothing like my usual training mileage. 


In 2011, I elected not to do a recap for my fall race since I'd half-@ssed it.  My notes for the first 11 weeks of training are good, about 380 miles, but only 3 early weeks over 40 miles, the rest in the 30s.  For Boston earlier that year (no real recap, just this), this was how it broke out, with about 625 miles in 15 weeks of training: 
0-29.9 = 1 week
30.0 – 34.9 = 2 weeks
35.0 – 39.9 = 3 weeks
40.0 – 44.9 = 5 weeks
45.0 – 49.9 = 1 week
50.0 – 54.9 = 2 weeks
55.0+ = 1 week
That was 1 week in the 20s, 5 weeks in the 30s, 6 weeks in the 40s, and 3 weeks in the 50s.  So 9 weeks over 40 miles.

VERDICT:  WEAKER than 2011 (but just barely). 

When I trained for Twin Cities (Fall 2010, recap here), I about 670 pre-race miles in 19 weeks of training:
0-30 miles: 2 weeks
30.1-35 miles: 7 weeks
35.1-40 miles: 4 weeks
40.1-45 miles: 5 weeks
45.1-50 miles:  2 weeks
That was 2 weeks in the 20s, 11 weeks in the 30s, 7 weeks in the 40s (including a week with 2 long runs due to the Fourth of July).


I've alwasy been a running log person, even pre-Garmin and pre-blog, so I can go back to my earlier marathons as well.

If I look back at training for St. George in 2009, I had about 640 pre-race miles over 18 training weeks (actually, since it was a Saturday race, it shows up in my pre-race week miles (my week starts on Sunday), so my total training including the race, ended up with a creepy 666.6 mileage), broken out as follows (not counting the race):   
0-29.9 = 3 weeks
30.0 – 34.9 = 4 weeks
35.0 – 39.9 = 4 weeks
40.0 – 44.9 = 7 weeks
That was 3 weeks in the 20s (or less), 8 weeks in the 30s, 7 weeks in the 40s.  Never over 45 miles in a week.


Training for Marine Corps in 2008, I had about 680 pre-race miles in 22 weeks, broken out as follows:
0-29.9 = 9 weeks
30.0 – 34.9 = 8 weeks
35.0 – 39.9 = 2 weeks
40.0 – 44.9 = 1 week
45.0 – 49.9 = 1 week
50.0 – 54.9 = 1 week (a "double long" run week, due to Labor Day, followed by a week under 30, but I'm counting it as it was actually run)
That was 9 weeks in the 20s, 10 weeks in the 30s, 2 weeks in the 40s, and 1 week in the 50s. That’s 3 weeks over 40 miles (and one of those was a week with 2 long runs).


Back in 2007, when I trained for Chicago (the run of death), about 585 pre-race miles over 19 weeks of training:
0-29.9 = 9 weeks
30.0 – 34.9 = 6 weeks
35.0 – 39.9 = 1 week
40.0 – 44.9 = 3 weeks
That was 9 week in the 20s, 7 weeks in the 30s, 3 weeks in the 40s.


No full for me in 2006, and while I did full marathons in 2005 and earlier, all my 2005 and earlier records are stored separately, so I won't include them.  It's safe to say they were fairly similar to 2007, likely even less mileage.

So yeah, I'm sure no one is reading this, but I think I'm going to be glad someday that I have all this data in one place. 

We will see if my verdicts as to whether I'm currently stronger or weaker pan out...

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Record

So if you follow professional distance running at all, you probably already know this, but the fastest marathon ever was run this past Sunday in Berlin. 

Dennis Kimetto of Kenya ran a 2:02:57, becoming the first person in history to run the marathon in under 2 hours and 3 minutes. 

Here are a few good news stories: (wow, serious training started in 2010!) (Kimetto's background, and in sum, why I believe the Africans get the records, see my review of Running with the Kenyans (incidentally, I hate when I do an entire year's worth of books in one post, but I'm on track to do the same thing in 2014; I need a June 2015 reminder to break next year into 2 posts))

The same two who finished 1-2 at Chicago in 2013 were 1-2 in Berlin this year.  What I think is especially cool is that even if Kimetto hadn't done it, someone else would have -- yes, two guys broke the previous world record on Sunday!  Second place Emmanuel Mutai, also of Kenya, came in at 2:03:13.  The prior world record was 2:03:23 from Berlin in 2013 (two people ran 2:03:0x at Boston in 2011 (not me), but that course isn't eligible for the world record).  But thanks to Kimetto, Mutai's name won't even show up as a world record for a day.  I kind of feel cheated for him, kind of like Shalene in Boston 2014, who ran her goal time, which she thought would be good enough to win it all (and would have many other years), but there were others who were faster that day, so it was only good enough for 7th.  Further proof that elite racing is almost an entirely different sport from regular mortal marathoning where running the plan and getting a PR is usually prized above all else, rather than what other people run on the same day. 

Anyway, that new world record kind of makes me a little nervous for my own racing future.  The Berlin Marathon is my current PR. 

How can I ever hope to beat that if I'm older and on a different course? 

(NB:  I'm also about 3-5 pounds heavier than I was then, but that's something I can control.  The age, not so much.) 

I suppose I could go for a cheater course, something like St. George that is a net descent and not eligible for the world record (though I've already beaten my St. George time).  I understand the distinction in needing a flat course for consideration for the world record, but I don't feel like it's something I would disqualify in terms of my own personal records -- as long as the course is a certified distance, I'm inclined to count it.

So on that note, my marathon future may consist entirely of downhill courses! 

On another note, I might need to change my sub-2 prediction.  I've always though of the world record as improving by about 1 minute per decade.  Sometimes 2 minutes very quickly, sometimes no real movement for more than a decade.  There's no real historical data to support this if you look back a while, but for most of my lifetime, the 1 minute per decade has been about right. 

In the 60s, it went from 2:15 to 2:09.
In the 70s, it held in the 2:09s.
In the 80s, it dropped to the 2:06s.
In the 90s, it dropped to the 2:05s. 
By the end of 2009, it had dropped to 2:03:59.
And now, in 2014, we're down to 2:02:57.

So it's a question of whether we'll get to the 2:01s very quickly now, or if there is going to be another long break before it happens.  After breaking into the 2:01s and the 2:00s, I would think that much like the 4 minute mile, that 2 hour barrier is going to create an extra hurdle in breaking it given the mental aspect.  So maybe it will stall out at 2:00:04 for 20 years or something. 

If I weren't worried that it would lead to possible (additional?) use of performance enhancing drugs (no idea how much of an issue that is among marathoners), I would say that some of the big marathons right now should buy insurance and put out a HUGE prize for the sub-2 and offer it up every year for the next decade.  Like a million dollars huge.  I wonder if that would be enough to make it happen before 2035, which is roughly when I would guess it would happen (not by me) (winky face). 

Monday, September 29, 2014


What a weekend!  It pains me to say this, but on the way home from boot camp, for just a minute, I considered stopping at Denny's for a monster-sized breakfast.  Don't they have something like an ultra grand slam I could modify to make vegetarian? 

Is it possible that:
a.) my stomach expanded after just 3 days?
b.) my body is expecting roughly 5 billion calories per day after just 3 days?
c.) tapering is making me want to eat all things?
d.) all of the above?

I am starving!  I got some free dietary advice from Megan this morning at boot camp while we were doing ab work toward the end of class.  I was complaining about already being hungry after eating my normal pre-boot camp breakfast.  She reminded me that eating normally might kind of feel like the first few days of a diet.  So basically it's going to be ugly.  I'm having breakfast now and I was tempted to supplement it with veggie breakfast sausage, which I do on heavy workout days -- but today wasn't a heavy workout day.  It was a day of taking it easy and slow at boot camp to move a little but not wear myself out.  So no extra breakfast sausage for me...

I'm going to try to be super-good about my eating this week anyway.  I am going to aim for fairly balanced meals, no sweets, and protein at every dinner this week (and hopefully real protein, not a frozen crutch like the veggie breakfast sausage).  Well, balanced at least until Thursday, then I will make an effort to increase carbs and decrease fiber and dairy for a few days. 

But this week is going to be doubly ugly because I have a feeling this is going to be a sad and lonely week. My husband will be here of course, and I'll be home the normal amount (maybe less, going to aim for extra yoga this week). But my folks are at the airport and the house feels empty now as I have breakfast.  You know how you just get used to having someone with you all the time?  My husband and I always joke about going through withdrawal when we have to go to work separately and be apart after vacation where we're together 23:45/7.  But now it's my folks that I miss.  It was so much fun being together.  I didn't sleep anywhere near enough and my feet and ankles are sore from more time on my feet this weekend than I've done in ages.  But totally worth it for a weekend that was just filled with good times together.  It just went far too quickly.  I feel like she should be sitting next to me now drinking her coffee and reading a book while I play on the computer.  When I got home from boot camp and walked past the guest room where they stayed it almost hurt my heart to see it empty.  Living away from family is so hard sometimes.  I have no desire to move away from Dallas but I wish they'd all move to Texas. 

Anyway, as promised I took pictures of all the horrible-for-me food that we ate yesterday at the Fair.  I need to pull them off my real camera to share tomorrow.  My husband may have put it best, I wish I could remember the exact wording.  Something to this effect:  The Texas State Fair is like Liberia, but it's the epicenter of the obesity epidemic instead of the ebola epidemic.  That was the most apt description for the people-watching at the Fair.  I'm very lucky that it's only once a year since sadly, I do like much of that artery-clogging stuff...

Friday, September 26, 2014

Fair Food Plan

After much contemplation, I have selected the three foods I will be seeking out at the State Fair on Sunday.

There are two special awards at the year every year for fried foods:  best tasting and most creative from 8 selected contenders. Somehow this year, it's 7 fried foods and one beer.   Fried butter won for most creative in 2009, but in my stomach, it's best-tasting. That year Fried Peaches & Cream won best tasting, and that was actually pretty good too, but not something I have ever sought out since.

But the 2014 Big Tex Choice award contending fried foods were pretty disappointing to me as they all involved meat or nuts, except for the fried bluebonnet, which I will try.

Text and photos from of course! 

Biscuit Fries with Chocolate Gravy – Strips of buttermilk biscuit dough fried to golden brown, sprinkled with powdered sugar, and served with a bowl of warm, delicious milk chocolate gravy.
Biscuit Fries with Chocolate Gravy
Biscuit Fries with Chocolate Gravy

Deep Fried Texas Bluebonnet by Isaac Rousso.  The Deep Fried Texas Bluebonnet is a blueberry muffin, scone-style batter that is stuffed with cream cheese, blueberries and sweet morsels of white chocolate. It is baked and deep fried to a perfect golden brown. This mountain of flavor is topped off with whipped cream, chopped white chocolate morsels, powdered sugar, blueberries, and a delicious blueberry glaze.
Deep Fried Texas Bluebonnet
Deep Fried Texas Bluebonnet

Deep Fried Butter – 100% pure butter is whipped till light and fluffy, then specially sweetened with a choice of several flavors. The tantalizing mixture is surrounded by a special dough and quick fried.
Deep Fried Butter

For the record, I like the garlic fried butter the most -- they're all the same, it's just a question of the flavor of the buttery sauce poured over the top. 

The other finalists in the contender for the Big Tex Choice award this year:
Chicken Fried Loaded Baked Potato:  The creamy and moist insides of a baked potato, loaded with generous amounts of butter, bacon, and cheddar cheese, are coated and battered with a delectable blend of spices and flour that create a perfect combination of fried crispy crust and delicious, creamy loaded baked potato. Served with a ranch dipping sauce.
Deep Fried “Breakfast for Dinner”:  A twist on a favorite American dinner–“Breakfast for Dinner.” This is a 10″ flour tortilla stuffed with eight favorite breakfast items – scrambled eggs, breakfast sausage, bacon, potatoes, ham, onion, cheddar cheese and gooey cinnamon roll bits – that are deep fried until golden brown and served with a creamy country gravy, salsa and a pico-queso dip.
Fried Gulf Shrimp Boil:  Everything you would expect in a shrimp boil rolled into a ball, dusted with Fish Fry, and fried to a golden brown! Baby gulf shrimp, diced red potatoes, onion, lemon, and seasoning are formed around a cocktail shrimp, dusted and fried with the tail sticking out for a handle. Served with a remoulade sauce.
Fried Sriracha Balls:  A lip-smacking combination of shredded chicken, corn, green chilies, tomatoes, and Sriracha hot sauce, formed into balls and coated with crispy tortilla chips. It is then flash-fried until golden brown. For those who like their food higher on the Scoville Scale, extra Sriracha Sauce is available.
Fried Sweet Texas:  Traveling across Texas to try the best and most popular desserts gave inspiration for this fried treat. Fried Sweet Texas starts with fresh pie dough filled with crunchy pecan pie, juicy peach cobbler, and creamy buttermilk pie. It is then deep fried until the crust is golden brown and flaky, and then served up with a side of Texas’ own Blue Bell Vanilla Ice Cream. A real tribute to Texans and their amazing sweet treats!
Original State Fair Brew – Funnel Cake Ale:  A light and delicious ale brewed to be reminiscent of one of the telltale flavors of the State Fair – FUNNEL CAKE! This refreshing English style summer ale has been brewed to be ready and crisp, with just the right amount of toastiness and sweetness, finishing with delicate notes of natural vanilla; all great flavors you find in a perfectly executed funnel cake. For those whose taste buds call for a sweeter finish, take advantage of the option to have the rim of your cup coated with powdered sugar.
Twisted Texas Tacos:  What do you get when you combine the four major food groups of Texas? Chicken Fried, Barbecue, Tex-Mex, and Chili – Twisted Texas Tacos! This taco starts off with tender, juicy hickory smoked Texas beef brisket, double-dipped in a barbecue spiced buttermilk batter and deep fried until it is robust and beefy. It is served in a warm flour tortilla, generously layered with a Mexican cheese blend, crispy fried okra, and a sweet and crunchy tri-color slaw, accented with zesty poblano and sweet pepper corn. Served with a creamy country gravy, spicy Texas Chili and a miniature salute from the Lone Star flag.

Total bummer for a vegetarian.  My husband isn't going with us, but I actually think he'd probably like the gulf shrimp and sriracha ball choices.  Anyway, I think my 10 mile run in the morning will maybe mitigate one of the three I'm going to eat completely?