Monday, January 26, 2015

Training Log: Surf City Half - Week 11

This was a really rough week training-wise because it ended up being more of a rest week than anything. Hence the roughness. Mentally, for me at least, it's nerve-wracking to be taking extra rest days less than two weeks out from race day due to a hamstring issue.

Compounding the mental issue is the fact that I am slow at work so devoting most of my time to studying for the CA bar (yes, I have to retake the bar exam, and it's 3 days in CA). I'm taking it at the end of February so I'm also stressing about that, which means I would have been so grateful for some head-clearing runs. Alas, it was not to be.

[Insert dramatic caption about injuries being like waves breaking on the shore, or something.]

So here's the full ballad of my right hamstring, for those of you who love reading about semi-injuries or moralistic stories about why it's so important to rest/recover.

The Set-Up: My trainer-approved plan was for decreased mileage with some speed work to keep my legs moving. Here's what the two-weeks-out-from-race-day plan was, for those curious:
  • Monday - post-Sunday-long-run rest day
  • Tuesday - 4 mile repeats at goal half marathon pace + regular strength workout
  • Wednesday - easy run of 4-5 miles
  • Thursday - short tempo run with 3-4 miles at slightly-faster-than-goal half marathon pace 
  • Friday - rest
The Climax: Unfortunately, on Tuesday night, as I started my warm-up mile, my hamstring immediately felt off. It only took half a mile for the tender feeling I'd been having on and off to set in.

At no time in my training cycle have I felt pain when running. I wouldn't have attempted any speedwork or long runs if I had, and I would have immediately instituted some extra rest days. Instead, I just felt a tender ache in my right hamstring near the end of a few workouts, and it always disappeared after some icing.

That's why feeling that tender ache in my hamstring so shortly into my run on Tuesday night seemed like a red flag. I jumped off the treadmill and did 20 minutes on the Arc trainer, without feeling any pain, and my planned strength work, just going light on the weights for anything leg-related. Again, no pain. However, Wednesday morning, my hamstring still felt a bit off. I texted my trainer and was told that I was absolutely positively not allowed to do anything until our session on Saturday (which we'd postpone if it still felt wonky).

"Yoga? Some light strength?" I asked, because this close to a race, I always want to do SOMEthing to feel like I'm contributing to my race success (and yes, I know, that is more often than not "rest" and not "extra speedwork!").

"NO, just focus on recovery. Ice, epsom salt, whatever you can do. And lots of water/hydration and sleep."

The Denouement: So I focused on recovery Wednesday to Friday. I slept at least eight hours a night, I iced my right hamstring twice a day, I went through range of motion stretches that didn't put any actual stress on the right hamstring and I drank lots of water. And hey, what a miracle, by Saturday my hamstring was fine! It felt good on Saturday when we went through strength work (lots of core work with some lighter lower body exercises thrown in) and there was not a (metaphorical) peep from my right hamstring during Sunday's final "long" run of 6 miles with 4 goal pace miles thrown in. Rest and recovery FTW!

...Okay, not the best ballad. Frodo had it a bit worse. Maybe I'll call it a fable since it has a clear moral: rest and recovery are so important.

There was nothing I could have been doing two weeks out from the half marathon that would have been more important than making sure my body was healthy and strong for race day, and if that meant no workouts for 4/7 days last week, that was the best thing I could do. It's hard to remember that, I think, when you're filled with anxious pre-race energy, but I'm so glad I had someone to remind me of it.

Training Log: Surf City Half - Week 11

Monday: Rest day.

Quail Hill is currently my favorite place because it's so green and gorgeous.
Walked Mason with a friend from work and her canine at Quail Hill for a mile or so, then grabbed fro-yo and sat outside enjoying the sun. How is this January??? (Random lawyer/law nerd confession: whenever I read about the Supreme Court doing something, I am always vaguely confused for a second, thinking "but the Supreme Court doesn't meet in the summer..." Then I realize it's the winter and California doesn't have seasons, it just cools down a bit.)

Tuesday: 1 mile + 20 minutes XT + strength.

As noted above, one mile was all I needed to know it was time to call it. Thankfully I haven't had to bag many workouts, but it's always tough for me to do that because I never want to keep going in my warm-up mile -- they always suck -- so part of me wonders "am I stopping this because it's hard or because I legitimately shouldn't keep running?" I know I made the right decision this time, but it's definitely a question I struggle with a bit.
  • 1 mile - blech.
  • 20 minutes cross-training on the Arc Trainer - also blech, I generally hate cardio machines.
  • Dynamic stretching.
  • Three sets of 15 reps of two upper body and two lower body exercises (in retrospect I probably should have also bagged all lower body exercises -- thankful I didn't mess anything up).
  • Two sets of 15 reps of three core exercises.

Wednesday-Friday: Rest days.

Iced my hamstring, foam rolled (not on impacted hamstring), slept a lot, repeat.

Saturday: Strength with trainer.

Melanie told me we'd play training by ear but thankfully by Friday night I felt totally normal. I was under very strict instructions to tell her if anything felt off even slightly.

  • 0.5 mile warm-up on treadmill (it felt fine! YES! Rest/recovery success!).
  • Dynamic stretching.
  • Three sets of 20 reps of core exercises.
  • Three sets of 15 reps of total body exercises.

Any day I can catch a sunset at the shore is a good day. 

Sunday: "Long" run.

I set out for this run with the intention that if I felt anything off whatsoever I'd call it quits immediately. Thankfully that wasn't necessary. The plan was a warm-up mile, four (roughly) race pace miles, and a cool-down mile.

  • Dynamic stretching.
  • 1 mile warm-up.
  • (1) 8:33, (2) 8:35, (3) 8:30, (4) 8:17.
  • 1 mile cool-down.

No pain/tenderness/feeling whatsoever in the right hamstring. I still iced it after the run, just to be totally safe in case there had been any inflammation whatsoever, but I felt really good. It was unexpectedly hot and I felt so dehydrated, so it's a good reminder for me to hydrate a lot and get lots of extra electrolytes this Saturday before the race. Weekends are harder for me on the hydration front because I don't have a water bottle in front of me constantly.

Total Mileage = 7 miles :/

Not an ideal week before taper week, but if it means my hamstring is feeling healthy for race day, it was worth it! I'm getting excited for the race. Only five days before I'll be taking on my seventh 13.1!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Training Log: Surf City Half - Week 10

I'm still recovering from the multiple heart attacks today's Seahawks game gave me. It was apparently the largest comeback in NFC championship history.

Saw this on Reddit and had to share. If you've seen any of Marshawn Lynch's interviews, you'll get why this is hilarious. (Taciturn is probably the best way to describe them... he's a man of few words.)
Also, if you haven't seen this .gif yet, you need to see Michael Bennett take a police bike and ride it around the stadium after the Seahawks won.

For the non-football-inclined, I also have pretty pictures to share! I took Mason on a mini hike Saturday evening to watch the sun set from Quail Hill. Everything in Orange County is green right now thanks to a few days of rain we've had over the past month, and the surrounding hillsides are stunningly lush, considering OC is basically a desert environment.

Every time I get out onto the trails I feel so grateful to live here. As exciting a city as New York was to live in, it makes me a lot happier to climb up a hill and watch the sun set over mountains than it does to be surrounded by the fast pace of New York. Getting outside makes me feel grounded (yes, despite the dyed blonde hair and fake boobs that are plentiful in Orange County).

So now on to training...

Training Log: Surf City Half - Week 10

Monday: Rest day.

Tuesday: 6x800m on San Diego Creek Trail.

  • 1 mile warm-up
  • Dynamic stretching routine
  • 6x800m: (1) 3:42, (2) 3:31, (3) 3:40, (4) 3:35, (5) 3:42, (6) 3:48 with 2 minutes recovery in between
  • 1 mile cool-down
I went out for this workout ready to convert it to five easy miles if my hamstring twinged in the slightest, but it actually felt fine the entire workout. My legs felt like lead from the previous week's Friday night tempo, Saturday morning strength and Sunday afternoon long run combination... but the hamstring was fine! 

Wednesday: 5 easy around neighborhood + core.

After a long day at work due to a deal closing, I was able to fit in five very easy miles with Sourabh then two sets of four core exercises (single leg bicycles, spider-man planks, lateral scissors and a one minute plank). Hamstring unfortunately did not feel good starting at mile two, the earliest it hurt all week.

Thursday: Rest day.

I had to be up for a 5 a.m. closing call that lasted till 6:15 a.m. The night before I'd thought I would just blithely run over to the gym for some strength, but I was utterly exhausted and instead opted for an hour of dozing before I headed to work for real. Given my tender hamstring the previous night, I wasn't sure if I should work out anyway, so I opted to rest the hamstring and didn't go to the gym that evening.

Friday: Rest day.

Knowing my weekend schedule, it seemed best not to push my hamstring three days in a row, so I rested again. Also I was able to leave early and since Sourabh was going to be gone for a week, I kind of just wanted to hang out with him. At the time I felt guilty, but in retrospect I'm glad I took the time off. 

Saturday: Progression tempo run along San Diego Creek Trail + strength training with Melanie.
  • 1 mile warm-up
  • (1) 8:42, (2) 8:32, (3) 9:20, (4) 8:13, (5) 7:58
  • 1 mile cool-down
I was feeling guilty about the two rest days but that was (mostly) cured by a fantastic tempo run with Sheila. She helped set the pace and we clocked a nice progression. I mean, look at those splits, right? My right hamstring started to ache a bit around mile 5, but it was fine till then. It was a nice confidence booster because we talked the whole time, and while the paces didn't feel conversational, it also wasn't extremely difficult to talk during them. Really happy with the run and thankful to Sheila for the excellent pacing! 

After breakfast with Sheila, I headed to the gym for strength training with Melanie. I am not happy that I only got in one strength session this past week, but in retrospect it might be for the best, for the hamstring at least.
  • Two sets of 15 reps of three core exercises
  • Three sets of 20 reps of lightly weighted total body exercises (lower body portions were more PT style exercises for the hamstring)
  • Quality stretching time

Just one more from my gorgeous sunset hike up Quail Hill. Don't worry, no hamstrings were harmed in the hiking of this hill.

Sunday: Long run from Cedar Grove Park to Back Bay (13 miles).

It's the middle of January and it's in the 70s!

Last week was one large 12 mile loop and this week was a 13 mile point-to-point course with a friend from New York, Allie, who was in town. Previously I've done a lot of out and backs, oftentimes multiples so it would be 2 miles one direction, 2 miles back, then repeated. I've loved starting my long run with a sense of adventure. 

Today, half the route was brand new to me and it was neat to think we'd be running 13 miles from the base of the foothills in Tustin to the Back Bay in Newport Beach. After leaving my car at our destination, we drove up to Cedar Grove Park in Allie's car. Her car was left there, so at the end of the run, I dropped Allie off at her car. 

We saw a coyote on our run! He was utterly uninterested in the humans pointing at him and taking pictures, and was much more interested in whatever food he could find in the creek bed.

Pacing plan: 4 miles easy, 4 miles up-tempo (whatever that felt like), 3 miles easy, 2 mile fast finish

Splits: (1) 10:02, (2) 9:49, (3) 9:20, (4) 9:51, (5) 9:21, (6) 8:56, (7) 8:40, (8) 8:40, (9) 9:44, (10) 9:56, (11) 9:56, (2) 8:49, (13) 8:25

Some notes: 
  • Right hamstring started aching around mile 6. Never escalated to pain, but I avoided underpasses and opted to cross roads to avoid hills, just to try to prevent any potential tweakage. 
  • I ran with a handheld water bottle and didn't mind the weight but probably won't run with one on race day
  • I fueled with a Picky Bar (that new Cookie Doughpness flavor is tasty) and coffee before the run and a salted caramel Gu and a half (one at 4 miles and half at 8 miles) and never felt fatigued. I'm pleased with how minimal fueling has made me feel fairly comfortable running without much fuel and I'm hoping I'll get a bump in energy from taking 2-3 Gu's on race day. 
  •  I am really liking Oiselle's distance shorts for longer runs since I can keep my phone, car keys and fuel in the pockets. My one problem? They're not available in green and I want to wear green and blue on race day since it's on Super Bowl Sunday. 
  • I wore my Seahawks cap both Saturday and Sunday and ended up preferring it to sunglasses for keeping the sun out of my eyes. I may wear a cap instead of sunglasses on race day. 
Our final destination: the ocean! Or at least, an estuary

I got home and parked myself on the couch for the Seahawks - Packers game. Well, put my legs up the wall and iced my hamstring then parked myself on the couch. I'm taking the recovery game seriously, guys.

Total Mileage = 30 miles
Speed Mileage = 14 miles

After texting with my trainer, Melanie, she emphasized the importance of resting my hamstring over the next two weeks and making sure not to strain it further. 

Regarding the hamstring situation, I have the feeling I'm going to pull it on race day since it's felt a bit twingey on almost every run longer than five miles. So, the goal is to keep it as healthy as possible in the lead up to race day, then see what I've got on the morning of February 1. Only two weeks of training left!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Training Log: Surf City Half - Week 9

On paper, not a perfect week. Only 28.5 miles and my schedule was thrown off a bit. But that 12 mile long run on Sunday? It felt like a game changer. I felt SO good during the run, despite high humidity and rain for the first six or seven miles. The up-tempo miles felt easy breezy (until the last one, of course), and the entire run left me feeling reinvigorated when I'd previously been feeling just so over the whole training process.

While there wasn't the mileage I was aiming for this week (30+), the miles I did fit in were quality and I was happy with them. Goal this week is to hit that 30+, assuming my right hamstring cooperates. It felt a bit off from roughly mile 9 onward during my long run. It wasn't pain so much as an awareness of the right hamstring. I iced and elevated immediately and will be resting today. I may have to adjust this week depending on it because I am not about to injure myself so close to race day.

Training Log: Surf City Half - Week 9

Monday: Rest day.

No workout, but I did snap this picture of a vivid sunset.
Tuesday: 3x2400m + strength workout.

  • 1 mile warm-up
  • Dynamic stretching routine
  • 3x2400m: (1) 8:43, (2) 8:38, (3) 8:21 <-- pace, not actual time each took
  • 1 mile cool-down

Hadn't done 2400m repeats in a while. Warm-up mile was rough (go figure) but the actual repeats felt good. The pace felt pretty easy to maintain for the length of the repeat, but my right hamstring was a bit tender (theme of the week). My left shoulder was also tight and got worse during strength.

  • Three sets of 12 reps of four exercises using a 40 lb bar (squat to press -- became just a squat because of shoulder pain, chest press, hip raises and single leg deadlifts)
  • Two sets of 15 reps of core exercises (single leg bicycles on BOSU, toe taps on BOSU)

Wednesday: Easy 4 miles.

Just sort of meandered around the surrounding paths/parks for a total of four miles. It was a beautiful morning and I really enjoyed the time spent outside. Left shoulder was still hurting but my right hamstring felt fine.

Thursday: Rest day.

Life happens and I had to push Thursday's workout. Since I didn't want to take two rest days in a row, I decided to move Saturday's tempo run to Friday evening so that my legs would still be fatigued for Saturday's strength training and somewhat tired for Sunday's long run.

Friday: Progression run (6 miles total).

Unfortunately I wasn't able to leave the office till 6:30 p.m., so I needed to shorten the tempo run up a bit. I made it more of a progression run and pushed harder on the last mile to try to make up for the shorter distance. This time my left hamstring was feeling incredibly tight.

Saturday: Strength training with Melanie.

We focused largely on the upper body while being mindful of (1) hamstrings that had been tender, (2) left shoulder that had been tight and painful, and (3) random right knee pain when I squatted too low. These are the times I'm really happy to be working with a trainer because she can really hone in on my form during exercises and tell me what to avoid and what to strengthen.

  • 0.5 mile warm-up
  • Two sets of 15 reps of eight exercises (squat to press with one arm, kneeling row, jumping lunges, weighted v-ups on exercise ball, etc) -- we did four exercises then repeated, three exercises then repeated, and finished with two rounds of a core exercise.
Has anyone seen these new self-powered Woodway treadmills? I hopped on one for about a minute and felt like it was too easy to go out of control but I want to give them more of a try next time I'm at the gym.

Given how many areas of my body were complaining throughout the week, I made an appointment for a sports massage post-training. My back and neck were a mess of knots, which I think was causing the shoulder pain, and my legs were also really tight. The massage therapist at Equinox, Christian, was fantastic and everything felt a lot fresher on Sunday -- no shoulder pain and legs were much less tight. Highly recommend him if you're looking for a sports massage in the Irvine/Newport Beach area!

I'd intended to do some easy shakeout miles, but both Melanie and the massage therapist thought it was best to just let my legs rest post-massage, so I took their advice.

Sunday: Long run (12 miles).

As I mentioned, I felt really strong during this run. I ran a large 12 mile loop around Irvine with the same run buddy from last week and it was so nice to have company again. I think I easily could have had a negative mental state, given the rain, if not for having someone to chat with. We ran in the afternoon, about two hours after brunch, so didn't fuel at all other than plain water. I brought along a gu just in case, but didn't feel like I needed it.

Plan was four easy, three up tempo (but not goal pace), three easy, last two fast. Splits are messy, I've indicated where a pace is for less than a mile:

(1) 9:53, (2) 9:43, (3) 10:00, (4) 10:07, (5) 9:05 pace for 0.67 miles, (6) 9:04, (7) 8:49, (8) 9:01, (9) 9:59, (10) 9:25, (11) 8:53 pace for 0.25 miles, (12) 8:36, (13) 8:04, (14) 8:00 for 0.1 miles. 12 miles total.

In the fifth mile, we hit a ridiculous puddle. It was roughly 30 feet long and looked to be about a foot deep so there was no way we were wading through it. We spent a good 10-15 minutes clambering along the muddy hillside (there was no way along the side of the pool), grappling with trees and brush and trying not to slide into the pool. We made it to the other side without any casualties, although our shoes were caked in mud.

The pause threw off our splits because my Garmin turned off to power save. Then in the middle of the first of the last two fast miles, my Garmin switched off again, so they're a big mess. But the average pace was 9:18, and since this route was actually fairly hilly in places, we were both happy with that.

Total Mileage = 28.5
Speed Mileage = 13.5