Week in Review 4.25.16 to 5.1.16

Monday: 3 mile run WAY too fast for taper week.

Tuesday: Combo workout at Waveny. 2 by 5 minutes at tempo, 3 by 1 min hard for 5 miles total

Wednesday: 3.4 mile recovery run, again way too fast.

Thursday: 3 mile run on the treadmill.

Friday: 2 mile shakeout progression. Mini arms workout.

Saturday: 2.5 miles with 2 laps of ins and outs on the track.

Sunday: Plattsburgh Half Marathon, 2nd woman in 1:26:44 on goodness knows what length course. 16 miles total for the day.

Total Miles: 35

Total Miles for April: 170

Definitely suffering from cumulative exhaustion from stress, poor sleep and a lot of travel! I drove 5 hours home on Friday night, to Plattsburgh and back on Saturday for the Expo then drove back to Norwalk after the race this morning. I’m also not being careful about my recovery paces (7:15 for my run on Monday, 7:37 on Wednesday?!) and it’s starting to show up in my race results. I’m not unhappy with my run this morning but I’m definitely lacking gears and some of that is coming from an imbalance in stimulus and recovery.

Just a few more days left in Norwalk and I head home to Burlington and hopefully lock into a more steady routine. I’m also hoping some of my 4th year electives lock in soon so that I can really start to look at the next few months and not have absolutely everything up in the air career wise!

Depending on my call schedule for June, I’m hoping to add in the Freihofer’s Run for Women in Albany on June 4th. This is a race that draws some unbelievable talent and we have the opportunity to race through Skechers. It will take a bit of an effort to get some turnover back in my legs but I’m hoping that with my fitness base, I can turn in a PR effort in 4 weeks.

Recently Read: Inspiring Women All Around

No additional narrative is needed to share this beautiful piece about how running can save you, no matter when you discover it. That being said, the story about Ms. Keeling is an incredible testimony to the fact that it is never too late to start and that daily activity will extend your life both in years and quality.

I teared up reading this account of Bobbi Gibb’s first Boston Marathon out of an appreciation for the walls she knocked down for female distance runners without ever asking for glory or recognition. I’m thrilled that she served as Grand Marshal for this year’s event, where almost 50% of the participants were female.

Finally, a not running related article that I’ve shared with every single woman in medicine that I know. I don’t know the woman behind this blog but trust me that if I ever figure it out at a conference, I will hug a stranger for the first time. Her willingness to share her struggles and challenges as well as her advice has been enormously helpful in my own decision making process.

You Can Have It All

You can have it all, just not at once. 

I’ve been in a hurry since conception. I arrived on a warm September day when I was supposed to arrive in late November and besides needing some time under the bili lights, I was surprisingly healthy for a preemie. Thanks to my September birthday, I went to kindergarten when I was 4. When I was 7, I wanted to go to sleepaway camp even though you had to be 8, so somehow convinced my parents and the camp director to let me go. It’s practically in my DNA to want everything all at once and I generally do a good job of juggling 100 priorities at once.

The process of scheduling my fourth year, however, is challenging this lifelong balancing act. Without going into the specifics, trying to schedule audition rotations, interview months, study for another set of boards and prepare to move our entire life plus attempt to continue to train and coach plus maintain a marriage and friendships is almost paralyzing. Unlike the first three years where UVM is essentially the only institution with whom we have to coordinate, fourth year requires coordination with 30+ programs who all run on their own schedules and time frames. This process is not one to half ass; what you choose for a specialty and where you choose to train is arguably a bigger life choice than choosing a spouse and significantly more difficult to dissolve if you make the wrong choice.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve worked myself into my share of tizzies over how to make this all work. I love medicine and feel so honored to have the opportunity to work with patients every day but I also love running, coaching my garden and my family. The thought of not having time to train or at least run regularly is unfathomable to me after almost ten years of consistent mileage and running. Not coaching my “girls” this fall isn’t an option. Will and I would also like to expand our family in the future, which raises a whole other host of issues in a field that is still not particularly welcoming to pregnant or parenting women.

Although this isn’t particularly running related although thinking about giving up high level running is part of my stress, this is certainly what’s kicking around in my head while I’m running lately.

What are you worrying about while you run lately? How have you achieved work-life-running balance?

Week in Review 4.18.16 to 4.24.16

Monday: Dehydration plus our first 80 degree day = ugly 5 mile recovery run. Arms after.

Tuesday: 9.2 miles with 5 by 1 min hard, 1 min easy, 4 by 30 seconds hard, 30 seconds easy. Legs pretty tired.

Wednesday: 4.1 miles easy. Definitely starting to feel the grind of standing in clinic all day.

Thursday: Off day, prorated at 6 miles. Much needed.

Friday: 8.6 miles with 3 minutes, 2 minutes, 1 minute, 30 seconds each progressively harder.

Saturday: 14 mile long run on the South County Trailway.

Sunday: 4 mile recovery run in Waveny Park with 4 striders.

Total Miles: 50.9

Good week of training despite having legs that are really exhausted from clinic all day. Psyched to get in two turnover workouts and a long run. The long run was definitely a highlight of the week. I recruited one of the residents who is a kindred spirit into joining me on the adventure and we headed over to New York to check out the bike path. Although it’s not the most picturesque scenery along the Sawmill, 40 car free miles is pretty incredible and we topped it off with epic brunch in Hastings-on-Hudson. We’re planning on heading back to check out the Old Croton Aquaduct trail as well, which is a dirt version of the trail we were on that traces the path that the water supply to New York City used to take.

Now that the Plattsburgh Half is upon us, there’s not much to do this week but sleep and run enough to keep my legs fresh. I’ll do one short turnover workout this week and keep the rest short and easy. As for goals, it’s hard to set a goal with my unconventional training methods this Spring, but I would like to be around 1:25 which is 6:30 pace. There are a few other Skechers people going (Skechers is the title sponsor for the race), so I’m hoping we can all work together towards a great team showing. As is my usual plan, I’ll try to run relaxed and smooth through 10 miles then pick it up if I feel great or hold it if I don’t.

Spring 2016 Inventory

Vermont has many beautiful moments but we don’t usually get a Spring, jumping instead from mud season to summer. Fairfield County on the other hand, exemplifies Spring. It is incredible here right now, with everything in bloom (and everyone coming in for allergies) with warm but not hot days and cool nights. I’m in heaven. Spring is a time of rebirth and of renewal and as I approach May, I’ve been thinking about how my training has been going for the first part of 2016. Here are the goals I set out at the beginning of the year. 

The Good

  • Consistency: It’s not easy to run every day when your schedule changes almost every day but I am proud of the consistency I’ve managed this Spring despite having much lower mileage than I’d hoped
  • Hard Efforts: I’ve done a good job of getting in maintenance workouts each week, usually in the form of a tempo effort and a faster R paced effort.
  • Race Experience: A trail run and a track race back to back with smiles all around? Huge success for me
  • Core: I’ve been doing some iteration of core almost every night which is helping (a little) with my constant back pain

The Not So Good

  • Low Mileage: I’ve been in the 40s for most of this year, far below my goal of 55 to 60. I have to make medical school my priority but I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t frustrate me to not be getting my mileage in
  • Striders: I don’t know what my problem is with striders. During coaching season, it’s easy to get these done on the grass at the end of my run but in Burlington and Norwalk, it’s hard to find a flat place to get these in. That being said, I have to keep making these a priority to work on efficiency
  • Strength Training: I’ve been getting in two days a week of strength training but that’s the extent of it. I really need to find more hours in the day to get this in!

So where does this leave me? I’m actually in decent shape right now but my fitness is totally non-specific. It will be very interesting to see how the Plattsburgh Half goes with this approach. Once I get through Plattsburgh and get back to Vermont, I need to figure out my approach to the summer and if I’m going to put any goal races on for the fall.

How are you doing on your goals for 2016?

Self Conscious

I had a bizarre experience last Saturday during the 10,000 that has been bothering me since. I didn’t include it in my race report because it was such a positive experience overall that I didn’t want to taint it by telling this story but since I can’t shake it, here it is.

I was maybe 6 laps into the race, feeling incredible because I was clicking off laps effortlessly and feeling strong. As I rounded the curve towards the home straight, someone yelled out “Number 21, open up your stride!!” At first, I thought perhaps I misremembered the number stuck to me and shook it off. When I came around on the next lap, however, a coach in red started screaming again “Number 21, your STRIDE!!!! OPEN UP YOUR STRIDE!!” She was standing in the bleachers screaming at me and I.was.mortified.

First of all, I have a lot of residual embarrassment and fear of being yelled at by coaches from my high school experience so it was a miracle that I even signed up for a race on the track where there is nowhere to hide for close to 40 minutes. I won’t lie that I was extremely self-conscious as I stepped on the track with the lowest female hip number in my spandex at 32 years old next to 18 and 19 year olds. The fact that a stranger, someone who doesn’t know me, coach me or have any stake in my performance felt that it was appropriate to scream at me for my form hurt me more than I can ever explain. I turned and shrugged my arms at her, my feeble attempt to say “f*ck off” and finished my race without incident but it chewed at me for the remainder of the race. I thought about finding her afterward to give her a piece of my mind, both as a coach and an athlete, but decided it wasn’t a battle worth fighting.

Since then, I haven’t been able to go for a run without feeling self conscious about my form. Are those drivers looking at me, wondering why I run so oddly? Do I look ridiculous doing speed work? Why do I even bother to try to run competitively with such bad form?

Here’s the thing: I DO shuffle. Part of that is because I have been running marathons for years and the shuffle comes with the territory. Part of it is because I stand all day long, often in weird positions and my back and hips are ridiculously tight. Part of it is that I don’t do enough dynamic work. But my shuffle also works to my advantage. I have a high cadence and I land on my midfoot, which means my impact is virtually nil. I’m quiet and efficient when I run. I know I could use more knee drive. Most of us could. What I don’t need more of, however, is self consciousness about how I look when I’m running. 

Has this ever happened to you in a race? Would you have confronted her? What’s your body/running hangup?

Race Report: 10,000 Meter FSU Eric Loeschner Invitational

This entire race report could be summed up as round and round it goes. Alternatively, not as bad as expected.

I headed up to the Fitchburg area on Friday night. One of my close friends from medical school lives in Harvard, Mass which is only 20 minutes from FSU so I took the opportunity to visit her (we get pretty far flung during 3rd and 4th year) and have a much calmer race morning. I left for FSU around 8:30 and was onsite by 9 am. They toyed with starting the 10,000 at 10 am instead of 10:15 but one athlete said they wouldn’t be ready so we waited for the 10:15 start. I ran around the campus of Fitchburg State to warm-up, then swapped into my racing flats (wore the GoMeb Speed3) and stripped down to my uniform. It was really chilly and windy when we arrived but by the time we were lining up, it was comfortable when you had a tail wind and just a tiny bit cool with the headwind.

Having never raced a 10,000 meter and since my last track race was 16 years ago, I had almost no idea what to expect from this race other than that the number of laps could lead to some significant monotony. To break this up, I mentally split the race into 4 pieces: 8 laps at marathon effort, 8 laps at tempo effort, 4 laps at high tempo effort then 5 laps at interval effort. The intent was not to pick up my pace throughout the race so much as it was to increase my effort to HOLD my pace. Like last weekend, since I am racing again on May 1st at the Plattsburgh Half, I also didn’t want to go so hard that I’d need a week to recover.

There were about 20 guys on the track and only about 7 women. We lined up behind the guys and we were off. I was hoping we could form a pack to work together through the wind but I led from about 10 meters in. I went through the 400 in 90 seconds, which felt easy but was way too fast for my current fitness so I backed off a bit, going through 800 in 3:08. I felt comfortable and cruised through the first two miles in 6:17 pace. The wind was intermittent. Sometimes it was okay and sometimes we were getting blown around on the back stretch.

As I hit the third and fourth mile, I started to pick up my effort a little bit, running 6:13 and 6:15 for those miles. I had started to lap people which made it easier to stay focused mentally but I was definitely starting to zone out as I ran round and round the track. In the fifth mile, I continued to cruise but found myself unfocused a number of times, lost in thought rather than focusing on my pace. I wanted to know my pace for the last mile so clicked my watch for the 2000 meters of 5 and a hair of 6, clocking in at 6:19. Ooops, definitely paid for my loss of focus. For the last mile, I focused on picking it up and running strong and ran a 6:13 for a total time of 39:10. I’m bummed that I didn’t break 39 but definitely zoned out for a few laps where I could have gotten that time back. I was psyched to have my effort feel spot on for the race and to hold almost exactly the same pace for 6.2 miles. It’s also nice to have an update on what is likely close to my current tempo pace!

After the race, I chatted for a bit with the other All Terrain Runners there for the race. We all stuck out like sore thumbs at a race where the mean age was approximately 20 so it was fun to hang out with my own peers for a bit. I cooled down with Susan who had also been at the Merrimack River Trail Race and we commiserated on how long our legs took to recover after that effort.

All in all, I had a blast trying out the 10,000 and regret that I didn’t run the event earlier! I think it’s a nice combination of endurance and speed and plays right into my wheelhouse. I came into the race thinking I’d never run another one but now I think I’ll look for one later in the summer to see if I can post a better time with some more competition. The All Terrain Series is definitely injecting fun back into my racing and I’m so glad I pushed myself to get into it. I’m also loving the bonus of automatically getting a really good workout in weekly and looking forward to seeing where my fitness is at the Plattsburgh Half in two weeks.

Week In Review 4.11.16 to 4.17.16

Monday am: 20 minutes on the elliptical to start moving things a bit

Monday pm: 3.37 very pathetic miles. Flats and uphills were fine, downhills were a disaster!

Tuesday: 6.87 miles with 4 by 50 meter striders. Feeling mostly better although left quad still a little sore.

Wednesday: 8.6 miles with 5 by 1 minute hard, 1 minute easy, 4 by 30 seconds hard, 30 seconds easy. Endurance legs and core after. Felt really good once I got going but definitely found some residual soreness after!

Thursday: 5.65 easy.

Friday: 2 mile morning shakeout.

Saturday: 10,000 meters on the track! 39:10, race report to come but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d anticipated. 11 miles for the day.

Sunday: 7 miles really easy at Waveny Park in New Canaan. Beautiful place for a recovery run!

Total Miles: 45

Tricky week to balance recovery and fitness but I think it went okay. I didn’t feel the fatigue from the trail run until about 4 miles into the 10,000 so that was a welcome surprise. Even more exciting is that I’m absolutely loving racing again because everything is so far from my comfort zone, there’s no way to be disappointed!

Back to the grind this week miles-wise, as soon as I’m recovered from Saturday. I’ll be keeping to my tempo/R pace schedule with some fast, quick intervals to work on my efficiency between now and the Plattsburgh half.

Congratulations to all the Boston Marathon runners yesterday! That women’s finish was something else. Ain’t over til it’s over…

Race Report: Merrimack River Trail Race 2016

There aren’t many races that I feel compelled to do every year, but this race was such an exceptional experience, I’m adding it to the list to try to do whenever possible. It was challenging enough to feel like a real accomplishment, fun without gimmick and an experience I’ll be thinking about for a long time.

Short Version: 1:16:20, 12th woman overall.

All smiles post-race. Should have taken a shot of my shoes...yikes.

All smiles post-race. Should have taken a shot of my shoes…yikes.

Long Version:

I got to the race at about 8:00 am and after a quick porto-potty stop, headed out to warm up on the trail and was happy to find that at least the first mile (and thus mile 10) were totally runnable. The first few feet of the course were seriously muddy but then it opened up to dry pine needle or sand trail. I did 2 miles, took my Gu and a couple more sips of coffee then got in line to pee again. This is when I knew the race was going to be a blast. The Race Director, who is clearly a native given that I didn’t hear an “r” uttered all day, started heckling in the porto-potty line that everyone was on a time limit. It cut through the anxiety (although it was a pretty low key crowd) and made me relaxed going into the race. With just a couple minutes to go to the start, I decided to lose my long-sleeve because I was worried about overheating. EXCELLENT call on my part.

I knew the race funneled down to single track quickly, but when I saw the distance between the start line and the trail, I realized it was really quickly. Like 15 feet. I didn’t even bother to position myself near the front and decided I’d just try to get through the start cleanly (fall-wise, mud-wise was a foregone conclusion) and deal with the rest in the first mile. Although we did slow down significantly, I was running free within 30 seconds and didn’t have any trouble with traffic til much later in the race.

Given that I have a 10,000 meter on the track this coming weekend, I tweaked my race plan a bit to make sure that I didn’t totally crush my legs. From my course research, my plan was to tempo effort the first 3 (which were allegedly flat), survive the middle section then tempo effort the last 3. My knowledge of the course profiled was a bit off but I was proud to go through the first two miles in 6:27 and 6:28 and feel in total control. The course got harder in the 3rd mile with some mud and a few bigger hills and my pace dropped to 7:19 while my effort stayed constant. Mile 4 was even harder with hard but manageable climbs and some descents that scared the LIFE out of me. Area of Improvement #1: Learn how to tackle terrifying downhills. Enormous apologies to the guy behind me when I hit the brakes before sliding down the steepest hill I’ve ever attempted to run down. (This would become like the 4th steepest hill I’ve ever run down shortly…) I finished mile 4 in 7:41 and was proud that I was holding my pace. Trail running is fun!

Too soon, Sarah. Mile 5 starts with a bang. And by a bang, I mean a sandy climb called Powerline Hill that necessitates walking and occasionally the use of hands and knees. This is the first time I’ve walked in a race since Junior High and by later in the race, I was kicking myself for ever resisting it. By the time I got to the top of Powerline Hill (incidentally where spectators and cameras were…can’t wait for those photos), I was literally seeing stars and had some moments where I wasn’t sure my legs could go on. Incidentally, I wish I’d had a heart rate monitor on because I’m pretty sure it would have identified my actual max heart rate. I was stumbling over the trail, just trying not to fall down. Of course, what goes up must come down and I started down the other side, just praying I wouldn’t fall down because I was pretty confident I’d never get back up. Just about this time, the lead runners started coming back towards us so we started the game of “get out of the way.” In trying to get out of the way for a group of guys, I rolled my ankle hard enough to make it numb for a couple of miles, which impeded any hope of feeling confident over the terrain. As I made my way towards the turnaround, I realized that it had flattened out again and urged myself to pick it up. Area of Improvement #2: Don’t give up time on easy parts!

I went through the turnaround, was almost caught up to the woman ahead of me when I stepped in serious mud and SQUELSH. Off came my shoe. I had this ridiculous moment where I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do and literally stood there for about 10 seconds considering my options. Once I got it back on, I took off again but had lost sight of her and let my gap ahead of the next woman essentially close. I also realized that I’d forgotten to hit the split on my watch at the turnaround, so decided to just let it run til the mile 6 marker. At the next river crossing, I jumped into mud and SQUELCH again, as my left shoe ripped off. Area of Improvement #3a and 3b: Tie your shoes tighter than you could ever imagine and learn how to deal with river crossings cause clearly, mud isn’t the answer. My split for those two miles? 18:53. Seriously. It was hard…

The return trip over Powerline Hill and the rest of the big hills in mile 7 was much better as I stopped trying to run them and powerhiked them like everyone else around. SO much more comfortable. It was tricky to navigate around runners still heading out but people were incredibly polite and stayed to the side, although I’m sure my flailing arms and sliding feet encouraged some of that. Again, apologies. Rookie. Area of Improvement #4: Know when to hold em, know when to fold em walking wise. Mile 7 passed in 8:07 and I started to think I might just survive this race. Mile 8 was much more runnable although jumping onto bridges on tired legs was a little more sketchy than on the way out. I went through Mile 8 in 7:51 pace and as we hit the flat sections, picked it up to tempo pace, cruising through Mile 9 in 6:59. My last mile is what really made me so fricken proud of myself. As we hit the last mile (which is definitely the easiest in the course), I shifted gears again and worked on quick turnover (a feat in soaked shoes) and pressing onward while keeping things at high tempo effort and came home in a 6:32 last mile, just a couple seconds slower than I went out. I crossed the finish line in 1:16:20 with just the biggest smile. (This may have actually been in my head, I’m not sure what my face looked like…)

Coming into this race, I had hoped to run around 1:10 but after seeing the course, I realize that I was unprepared from a technical (and likely physical) perspective to do so. My downhill running skills are poor and I didn’t do a good job on the way out of managing my energy. All of that is not to indicate any unhappiness with how yesterday went. I’m brand new to trail racing and I’m thrilled to both have such a good experience and to feel pretty normal today, minus very tired quads. I didn’t think I was particular fit going into this race and although I’m clearly not sharp (see, giving up time on flats), my fitness is actually in a good place and I’m excited for the races ahead.

Splits:

Mile 1 6:27

Mile 2 6:28

Mile 3 7:19

Mile 4 7:41

Mile 5/6 18:53

Mile 7 8:07

Mile 8 7:51

Mile 9 6:59

Mile 10 6:32

 

Week in Review 4.4.16 to 4.10.16

Monday: 3.25 mile recovery run with big arms and core.

Tuesday: 5.5 miles with 10 minutes at tempo pace plus 4 by 30 seconds hard uphill. Still feeling the residual of a lot of hours on the trails. Legs after.

Wednesday: 4.27 miles with striders.

Thursday: 4.4 miles.

Friday: 2 mile progressive shakeout.

Saturday: Merrimack River Trail Race, aka the “Rivah.” Finished 12th for women in 1:16:20, which was momentarily disappointing, but overcome by the realization that I a) had a ton of fun b) executed my race plan and c) smiled for almost the entire (really flipping hard) race.

Sunday: Off Day. My legs are tired from yesterday but nothing appears broken. Given that I have to turn around and race a 10K on Saturday, however, I opted for more rest so I can get a little training in this week around that.

Total Miles: 32.4

This week (well really weekend) was one of the most refreshing ones I’ve had in a while. On Friday night, I drove up to Boston and caught up with my Uncle on the drive. He’s a retired physician and has been an enormous support to me throughout this process so it was great to catch up with him. I stayed with my best friend from college and we got to giggle and catch up all weekend. Then today, I got to catch up with another dear friend on the way back to Norwalk. Medical School is BRUTAL on personal relationships and I am so grateful to have friends who stick by me and to have a few hours to just be a regular person.

The race was also an amazing experience. I’ll recap it more in my race report, but I am just overwhelmingly proud of my execution. It wasn’t my best race and I’d hoped to be faster but I did a great job of just running my race plan, putting in a solid performance without risking my race next weekend or the half in May and had a total fricken blast.

As I’ve alluded a couple of times, the 10000 meter component of the All-Terrain Runner series is coming up next Saturday. I didn’t intend to race back to back weekends but finding a 10K on the track is a bit of a feat and I can’t make the only other guaranteed date this Spring so next weekend, I’m heading up to Fitchburg State University to run in a college meet for 27 some odd laps!

All of this means that my week gets shuffled a bit. I need to recover from yesterday, sharpen for Saturday and still keep my eye on May 1st. I’ll do a glorified strider workout tomorrow even though I won’t be fully recovered, another workout on Wednesday (trying out the Greenwich Running Company workout this week) then two easy days, use Saturday as a workout/heavy tempo and long run Sunday.