Sunday, January 30, 2011

Finding a New Rhythm

Week 1 of Boston training is in the books. Got in some solid runs. Runs went well, including Saturday's 8x3 minute efforts (a few included hills). I hit a steep hill during the 6th effort, which was really challenging, and definitely made the final 2 hard as well (felt like I was still trying to recover during those efforts). But challenging is good - knee didn't struggle at all and I felt a good kind of fatigue afterward. Then on Sunday I ran 11.2 miles. It was a good run - the sun came out for the first time in a while. And I came back feeling hungry - both for more running and for food.End of month total was 101 miles - glad to break the 100 mark. Plus, when you count all of the swimming/elliptical time, it was definitely a solid month of training.
The training schedule seems to be good - the variety in the workouts/cross-training is more refreshing than draining, which is good.
On Friday, I watched the Millrose games, which were awesome. I was bummed that Lagat didn't win the Wannamaker, but was excited that Sarah Hall won the 1500m. She definitely deserved it - she waited patiently and then when the time was right, made her move. I had a blast watching them (went to the Greene Turtle in Chinatown, which has a great gluten free menu) - a great way to enjoy Friday night.
And speaking of gluten-free: Within the past week, my Safeway has increased their stock in gluten-free products at least fourfold. Went grocery shopping on Saturday and was blown away: they now carry Schrar and Pamela's Products! So excited and excited to feel excited about food again. I was telling my parents that running was the thing that got me excited about food: I loved going out for long runs and then coming back to a hearty meal. Well, with the Celiac Diagnosis, that desire went away for a bit. Now that I am figuring out my new food routine, I am starting to get excited about food again, and finding it a treat to eat, rather than a hassle.
But in a few ways, it seems like my hunger has gone up. In one aspect, my training has increased quite a bit, so yes, I have a bigger appetite. And that is good - I feel like I did when I was training for Boston 2010 (and putting away meals like a body builder). And now that I am finding more things to eat, I am getting excited about that process. But I am also getting hungry for Boston again. I feel like my training is going well enough that I can trust that I can succeed in Boston. Watching the Millrose Games also helped - watching people push themselves is also a thrill. I also feel like I am starting to see the benefits of my cross-training - I have been able to steadily up my mileage with no problems. When Sarah sent me my schedule, she said, "I'm hoping that you will feel very strong, something that you will notice on the runs more than anything." And I think that's true, I do feel strong, which is exciting - I know that it will make a difference in the final miles of the marathon.
So I am developing a new rhythm. Early early mornings Monday Wednesday Friday, new diet, new kind of pancakes, new kind of excitement.
In other news, another elite runner with Celiac disease has triumphed! In the Houston Marathon, Stephanie Rothstein clocked a 10 minute personal best (2:29) in the Sunday's marathon. Coach McMillan says that now that she has figured out CD (diagnosed in 2009), she has experienced a great deal of success. Between her and Amy Begley, that is really good news. Hoping to experience similar success (and maybe an hour difference in marathon time)!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Swim to Modernity

Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for the past 3 weeks I have gotten in the pool at 7AM for a 2000 yard swim. I will be doing this for the next 12 weeks as part of my preparation for Boston. it is a different mindset getting in the pool for a swim. i dont do a lot of counting when i run. but when i swim, i am counting laps roughly every 28 seconds, 25, 50, 75, etc. So, it is difficult to just zone out, which is what I sometimes do during my runs. If I lose track of my laps, there is no way to figure out exactly how far I've gone. As I push off, the number comes up again, "1225"," "1350," etc. And as I was doing this a few weeks ago, I realized that the numbers sound like dates, not just regular numbers. The more I thought about it, I am doing a swim through the AD timeline - almost to the present day. So, I have decided to rename my MWF swims, "The Swim to Modernity." It is actually good practice for me as I start to think about my PhD comps in the fall. I have to have a fairly good handle on the chronology, and refer to particular events that shaped the Middle Ages (and beyond). So, this is a way for me to review what has happened in 25 year incriments. It keeps my mind occupied and ensures that my counting is accurate. A few examples...
325 - Constantine calls for the Council of Nicea (where we get the Nicean Creed from)
800 - On Christmas Day, Pope Leo III crowns Charlemagne (already king of the Franks at that point) the Holy Roman Emperor
1300 - Pope Boniface VIII declares 1300 to be a Jubilee Year (first time)
1525 - German Peasant Revolt
Now, some events don't happen on "even" years, so I think about them just before I hit the wall
1099 - 1st Crusade
1324 - Witch Trial of Alice Kyteler (who I will do my dissertation on)
All in all, it is a good mental exercise. Plus, if I get to a 25 year segment that draws a blank, I know what I need to work on. Definitely nerdy, but fun too.
Aside from serving as an opportunity to review my history, I am realizing the many benefits of swimming. Yesterday, I did my first 10 miler in 8.5 weeks. I had to run negative splits, which I did, and it wasn't too bad - did not feel like a major stretch. It felt good to do a double digit run - there is something different about sweating it out for a while that really draws out the runner's high. And then afterwards, I went to the weightroom (which I hadn't been there in 2 weeks). Took to the weights (shoulder press, seated row, etc) and had them at the same numbers I usually do. But last night it felt easy. It seems as if swimming has naturally buffed up my arms! So, I am going to have to up the weights, as it seems I am now strong enough to do that.
Many lessons learned in the pool!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Beginning Cycle 1 of Boston Training

I am standing at the starting line of Boston training. I woke up excited today - knowing that I have a plan in hand, a decent base built with my cross training, and still the excitement of standing in Hopkinton again. This is what this week looks like:

Monday, January 24th: AM: Swim; PM, 45-60 minutes cross train/strength and core

Tuesday, January 25th: 45 minutes out easy; back in 41-42 minutes. Total=10 miles

Wednesday, January 26th: AM: Swim; PM, 60 minutes cross-train + strength and core

Thursday, January 27th: 6 miles easy

Friday, January 28th: AM: Swim; PM, 60 minutes cross-train + strength and core

Saturday, January 29th: 20 minute warm-up; 8x 3 minutes at a harder effort, 90 seconds rest (should not be all out, kind of like a longer fartlek); 20 minute cool-down. Total=9.5 miles

Sunday, January 30th: 11 miles easy (go very, very easy)

Weekly Mileage Total: 36.5 miles

Sarah says that for every hour put in on the elliptical, it is about the equivalent of a 40 minute run. So, 36.5 regular miles, plus approximately 15 miles from the elliptical, plus the swimming. Pretty steady mileage, and I just need to remind myself of that.

Went headfirst into training this morning with a 7AM swim. Really cranked it out - 49-50 minutes for the 2000 yard swim. Was chilly after - the ends of my hair froze! Then I had one of my independent study classes at 9 - I think swimming before was a good idea - it woke up my brain too! Seriously, I think running/training has made me a better graduate student - I tend to think through things a bit while I exercise and then am more prepared for class/discussion. Then had my TA course, and after that hopped on the elliptical an hour (7.7 miles) - that helped me to avoid the afternoon crash! Revitalized, I have one more class at 5 - Medieval Documentary Sources, which now I have the energy for.

On Saturday, I did an 8 mile run, which was my longest run of 2011 so far. Now, I am not one to really change my running routes, so the long runs just become various upon similar routes. I had a moment of triumph - I ran past the spot where I had to stop and walk on November 14th - the first sign of the IT band problems. I kept on going and going on Saturday, and it felt like a major triumph. I felt strong - the PT has been working and cross training has served as an adequate supplement to training. Definitely my happiest running moment of 2011 so far!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Family gives a lift (with pics) + training updates

Life has been busy! It's been over a week since my last post, a sign that a lot has been going on.
I now have 3 weeks of PT under my belt, and it is definitely working! When you think about it, if you put in over an hour a day into something, naturally it is going to improve. Whether it's learning German (which I am also doing), strength training, running, or anything else, an hour a day will make a major difference in one's performance.
Last weekend (MLK weekend), I decided that since it was so early in the semester, I should go away. So I booked a bus ticket, and went to Chappaqua, NY to visit my aunt, uncle and my 2 baby cousins. Rory is 4 and Nate is 21 months. They are absolutely adorable: I had such a blast spending time with them. We just played all weekend: Toy Story, castles (and no, I did not make them play medieval castles, that was their idea), board games, etc. So much fun. My aunt was around a lot for me when I was growing up, and the age difference between me and my cousins basically makes me their aunt. I felt like the weekend also gave me an opportunity to renew my relationship with my aunt. No longer was it like I was the kid and she was "the grown-up." We had lots of good chats, laughs, ate good food, and just enjoyed one another's company. No stress, no concerns of school or work - just family time. I even got in 2 6 mile runs on a very hilly road. They were very tiring, but then when I looked at the elevation, I felt reassured in the strength of the runs (elevation went up and down 250 ft in the out and back run). All in all, the weekend away felt like a retreat. Time away, time with family, all in a peaceful place (so much more quiet than DC!). I came back refreshed and renewed, invigorated about the week ahead and happy about the family time put in.
I have now been gluten free for 11 days and no failures/slips so far. My one temptation: the Starbucks at my school is now selling Red Velvet cupcakes. Looking forward to the day where that isn't even a temptation. My boss even made gluten free brownies that were delicious (2 other staff members are gluten free) - you couldn't tell the difference. While I was at my aunt's house, she stocked the pantry (and then sent them home with me) with lots of GF products. The brand Scharr is really good: we had their crackers, pizza crust, and shortbread cookies. All delicious! One of the tough things has been hearing people talk about foods I used to love - it is a bit hard to tune it out. People mean well, I just think they're not thinking about it. But, I got a lift when I got a care package from home! My parents sent gluten free hot chocolate, cake mix, and pancake mix. I can have pancakes after my 8 miler tomorrow! Amazing what the little things can do, and how a little bit of love can provide such a major lift!
Boston is now less than 3 months away. I am trying to channel a lot of Kara Goucher's energy, since we are both making a comeback (in very different ways), both hoping for success in Boston. My official training will start on Monday, but in the meantime I have been trying to build a good base to be ready. On Tuesday, I did a 7 mile run on the treadmill. I really don't like the treadmill, but we had an ice storm in DC, so I figured bored and safe was the better option. Ended up holding on at 8:04 pace, which was great, considering that is a little faster than my goal marathon pace for Boston. Then afterwards, I saw that the gym was offering a spin class, so I decided, why not? Hopped on the bike and hoped for the best. Thankfully, it was a beginner's class, so the intensity wasn't too bad. And, some of my running/swimming skills translated over, so it's not like it was the first time getting on the bike. So, it ended up being a reverse "brick" workout: run, then bike. I am sure a triatholon is in my future, just not sure that time is right now. But, there are certainly many benefits of training like one!
Plan for this week:
Monday: off (went away for the weekend - Chappaqua NY and was heading back to DC)
Tuesday: 45 minute spin class, 7 mile run
Wednesday: 2000 yard swim, 1 hour elliptical
Thursday: 7 mile run
Friday: 2000 yard swim, 1 hour elliptical, weights
Saturday: 8 mile run
Sunday: recovery run (length tbd) + yoga
Thankfully, school is over for the week, and all I need to do is read and run this weekend. And recover - amazing how much can happen in a 4 day week!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Harder, Faster, Stronger

First of all, thank you everyone for your words of advice/support. It is definitely helpful to know I have people in "my corner" rooting for me as I embark on these new challenges/opportunities. Monday went well. Classes started off on a good note: I am certainly going to be learning a lot this semester! In between classes, I got in a 2000 yard swim (in 55 minutes), and some weights. Then after class, 7.8 miles on the elliptical (in 60 minutes). It felt great to break out in a sweat like that - sometimes, that is when I feel the most "real" if that makes sense. My stress level decreases, the endorphins surge, and I feel normal and happy where I am. At the end of the day, when you add in the stretching and weights, I did about 3.5 hours of training yesterday. It felt awesome, and breaking it down into segments (1/2 stretching in the morning, swim + weights in afternoon, class, elliptical, meetings, then stretching before bed) made it much more feasible. I don't think I am necessarily going to have that much time to train every Monday, but if I can do that sometimes, the intense cross training will make a major difference in my Boston preparation.

I am thrilled to be a Pacers Ambassador again for 2011. They renewed my contract last night, which means I will be wearing some of their gear in DC races. I will also be volunteering at their phenomenal race series. Their races are awesome: well-organized, beautiful courses, and they know how to throw a helluva after-party. If you live in DC, I recommend signing up for some of their racs: they have races ranging from 5ks to half marathons. They also organize some great fun runs during the week and a long run on Saturdays. Those group runs helped me get ready for Boston, as I was running with people who really knew how to push me. Will update on some of the races/programs that I'll be participating in. One of the benefits is that I have met some great runners in the process - am hoping the same will happen again in 2011!

I was very excited to read the RW interview with Kara Goucher concerning her post-pregnancy comeback (racing in the PF Chang's Rock and Roll Half Arizona Marathon on Sunday). She seems ready and pumped to start racing again. Obviously, I am also hoping that she gets a podium finish in Boston too and leads the American women to victory. It provides a sense of optimism about returning strong after any kind of "lay off" from running. Good luck on Sunday, Kara! Speaking of strong returns, I read Meb Keflezghi's "Run to Overcome" over Christmas, and I still need to write a review of it. Stay tuned...

Last night, I ran 5.4 miles - no pain! The PT is working, and I am increasingly becoming a huge believer in the power of stretching/strength exercises. It was amazing - I could've went further, but knew that it was time to stop for the day. We had a "wintry mix" while I was running, and by the time I was done, my jacket actually froze! I feel like I earned my BA points for the day from that.

Harder, faster, stronger - my new mantra.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Everything is new and shiny

Today is a fresh start.
Today is the first day of classes. I already had one (tutorial on medieval monasticism/piety/sanctity), which was a lot of fun. It is just me and the professor, and we talk about one book per week. It is nice to be at the point to have an advanced, intellectual conversation about good books – this kind of thing would have freaked me out a year ago. In a few minutes, I am off to TA for a class about early medieval Rome (400-800), and then tonight will be in a seminar on the late medieval English narrative. All good things! I am also taking German this semester, which starts tomorrow, as well as another tutorial tomorrow on Renaissance education.
Today is my first day on the gluten-free diet. I had pizza and beer last night as a “last hurrah,” and will start things anew today. Went grocery shopping last night. Some of the major staples of my diet: Kix cereal, yogurt, chicken, and rice. Those were my favorites beforehand, and now will be around ALL of the time. I’ll be adding in more stuff too, and will be updating on good meals/restaurants that have great gluten-free options.
Today kicks off 2 weeks of base training before marathon training starts on the 24th. Mondays are cross training days. This afternoon, I am going to swim 2000 yards, and then get on the elliptical this evening after class. XT days will be “double days” – meaning 2 XT sessions a day. I am still in the process of solidifying my school/work schedule, and will be happy when everything is set in stone.
Today is a fresh start. New semester, new diet, new training. Here’s to optimism on a Monday!

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Fresh Start - Let's Go Boston 2011!

I am in week 2 now of physical therapy. I am back in DC, so I am doing all of the exercises on my own, twice a day. It takes about a half hour to get through the whole set, so now I am doing an hour of stretching/strength work a day, which is a lot higher than it used to be. On Wednesday, I ran 3 miles with no pain. Normally, the knee starts to act up at mile 2.75, and there was nothing. I took Thursday as a rest day (plan is to run every other day), and then it was my goal this morning to do 4 miles. Got up, did my stretches, and then headed out. The pace was slow, but I got through 4 miles with no pain! That hasn't happened in over a month, so I was very excited to go that far (I can't believe 4 miles feels far again) without any trouble whatsoever.
The question I've been getting is, What does this mean for Boston? Well, Boston is just over 3 months away (April 18th). I wrote to my trainer, Sarah, and she sent back the follow reply,

I agree that you will need to alter your marathon training, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Of course, you are still in a "testing" stage with running, so you shouldn't jump into long runs and workouts pronto. But, here is a general outline of what I think would be fantastic training:
Cycle 1: Focus on "base" training. Run 4 days a week, Cross train/strength 3 days a week. For example, Tues, Thurs, Sat and Sun would be runs. Sunday would be your "long" (whatever that is based on how your knee is feeling). At some point, we'd convert Tuesday and Saturday into hard workout days, but not in the first few weeks. Thursday would be just an easy run. Monday, Wednesday and Friday would be cross-training days with strength/core work after. If you could do "doubles" these days, I think that would be an excellent way to get extra aerobic "mileage" for the marathon. So, if you were able to swim in the mornings and then do 45-60 minutes of cardio (bike or elliptical) in the afternoon/evening that would be great. After the afternoon/evening session, I would tack on a 20-30 minute strength/core/stretching session.
We could see how that works for the first cycle and assess if you want to stick with this routine throughout the training or if you think you'd like to toss in an extra day of running. We could even try an extra day (5 days of running) every other week or so to be on the safe side. But, I think with even 4 days you'd be able to run well. I would also encourage you to do at least half of your runs per week on some soft surface. I am also thinking that we may just do track every other week, so you can do more road workouts instead, and the track would be a good check-up on pacing.
I bet with the new gluten free diet and all of the new strength/cross training, you'll actually feel really revitalized! Let's go Boston 2011!

And so that is the plan! A lot of cross training, and we will do 12 weeks of marathon training (beginning January 24th). And as far as stuff with Celiac Disease - I had a biopsy on the 29th which confirmed the diagnosis (moderate to severe intestinal amage). I am starting the new diet on Monday (01-10-11) to coincide with the start of the new semester. A fresh start - they say that a year of being gluten-free will clear the damage. And I have heard people say that even within 4 weeks, PT clears IT band damage.
Here's to a fresh start - getting to Hopkinton healthy!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Physical Therapy is Hard/IT Band Syndrome

Well, after having knee pain off and on since mid November, I finally saw the doctor last week. They took x-rays on Monday, and nothing showed up. I met with the orthopedist on Thursday. Diagnosis: IT band syndrome. Cause: weak hips and core. Perscription: Physical therapy and a whole lotta cross training. So after I met with the orthopedist, I went right to physical therapy associated with the University of Rochester with a nice therapist named Amanda. It's funny, when I was younger, I wanted to be a physical therapist. I even spent all of my Saturday mornings in high school volunteering at a PT unit at a local hospital. I eventually came to realize I didn't have the science abilities to do it, which is why went for history instead. Still, I have a tremendous respect for physical therapists, and Amanda was no different. Enthusiastic and smart - just what I needed She had me do some exercises with a band to stretch out my quads/hamstrings and strengthen the IT band. They were hard! She said to do those 2 times a day. Yesterday I got on the elliptical for an hour, and did the same today. No pain on the elliptical, so that will be a big part of my (cross) training, along with swimming.
Went back to physical therapy today for a double session, since I am leaving Rochester tomorrow to go back to DC. This was very intense! Last week, I had 5 exercises to do - she added about 6 more to do. Lots of hip ab/adductions and some others. I was exhausted by the end - the exercises really single out the problem areas. But at the same time, they'll make them a whole lot stronger. I am choosing to be optimistic about this, and I hope this will faciliate an easy return to regular running in the near future. I still very much have my eyes on Boston - it just might be a different kind of training series than normal - less mileage for sure.
I remember seeing Meb K doing some of these exercises in the RW video "Meb Comes Back Again." So, I'll do what the pros are doing - he came in 5th in Boston last year, not too shabby. 2011 is starting off much different than 2010 did, but that doesn't mean I can't be tenacious and subsequently, victorious as I go down this different path. So we'll see. I am learning much more about ITBS, but also about how to strengthen my weak spots too. Here's to strong hips!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year: Goals for 2011

Happy New Year!
Time for some goal setting!
Mileage: 2050 (conservative, but since I am easing back into running, I am guessing the first few months, I will have low mileage).
Mile: 5:59
5K: 21:30
10k: 44:15
Half Marathon: 1:38
Marathon: 3:33
Overall, I think these are conservative goals, but I am also anticipating a slow start to 2011. If everything works out right, I would aim for 21:15, break 44 minutes, 1:37, and 3:32. But I will stick with the first set and hope for the best.
Other goals:
Strengthen hips and core
Improve swimming form
Continue high grades in grad school
Pass my PhD comps in the the fall
Here's to victory in 2011!