Category Archives: frustration

Week in Review 2.15.16 to 2.21.16

Yikes, a couple days late on this.

Monday: 6 mile run on the treadmill, full body lift after.

Tuesday: 7 mile progression run. Hip core after.

Wednesday: 4.5 mile hilly recovery run.

Thursday: Off day.

Friday: 10.4 mile long run with 4 by 30 seconds hard uphill in Farrell Park. Full legs after.

Saturday: 5 mile run. 300 abs after.

Sunday: Unplanned off day. Skiing and waxing at the Eastern Qualifier

Total Miles 32.9

Not the week I’d hoped for at all. I’m happy that I planned well enough to get my long run in on Friday but frustrated that I got thwarted on other days with such a good start to the week. I feel like I’m walking on a tightrope trying to balance reasonable mileage with enough sleep to be functional throughout the day. On Saturday, for example, we were supposed to be early call and should have been out by about noon. Instead, we were there until 5 and I had to get up early Sunday to head to Craftsbury to coach. Instead of pushing it and getting up to run before Craftsbury, I gave myself the extra 90 minutes of sleep so that I could safely drive 90 minutes each way and get through the day. Definitely the better choice for Sarah the coach but not the best outcome for Sarah the athlete.

This week has started off much the same, with a very long day yesterday and miserably long post-call day today. Trying to stay positive and tell myself that it’s just 3 more weeks until I get to go to California and get some focused training in.

A New Low in Cheating

It hasn’t been the greatest year for running with the NOP scandal and Russian doping bust but I guess we can take some solace in the fact that we have at least avoided putting motors in our legs (to date). For those who missed the headline, a professional cyclist at the World Championships for cyclocross was busted for having a hidden motor in one of her bikes. A motor.

What is going on in professional endurance sports that we have given up on chasing the next level the natural way? Is winning worth a lifetime of knowing you cheated and the risk of getting caught? What is the punishment for someone (arguably barely an adult) who participated in this?

Week in Review 1.4.15 to 1.10.15

As I alluded in this post, this week was a harsh welcome back to the end of 3rd year, although all in a good way. I came into the week with high hopes of a 50 mile week and came out with a 25 mile week but an adjusted appreciation of the time I do have to run.

Monday: 4.2 miles on the treadmill, welcome as it was 3:30 am and 3 degrees out.

Tuesday: 6 miles.

Wednesday: 4 miles with 10 minutes at T pace. Legs afterward.

Thursday: In keeping with my New Year’s Resolution, yoga! The routine wasn’t hard but it was hard for me to do. Lots of work to do.

Friday: 3.1 miles. In hindsight, not sure why I didn’t just do the full 30 minutes.

Saturday: 15K of skiing with the team at U-32. So grateful to be outside and get to coach for the day!

IMG_1412

Sunday: 7 miles in the pouring rain and wind. Didn’t care because I got to be outside!!

Total Miles: 25

A bit of humble pie this week; surgery is an important clerkship for me and it’s a demanding one, so I had to make a choice between being good at work (or at least awake and engaged) and getting all my hoped-for miles in. I chose the former and am actively working on accepting that for the next couple of weeks, even 30 minutes a day is a great thing.

I am working on figuring out my racing schedule for the next couple of months and am toying with doing the All Terrain Runner series with USATF NE. If I do this, I need to find an indoor track 3K relatively soon. In keeping with this, I’m going to aim for a tempo run and an R pace workout this week plus whatever else I have time to get in.

Race Report: Philadelphia Half Marathon 2015

Short Story: 1:22:25 for 24th place.

First, apologies for a bit of a bummer post. To me, it’s more valuable to be honest about disappointments than gloss over them. As another runner said to me in the Elite Tent yesterday, we often learn more from our failures than our great moments.

Second, it’s always a little touchy to complain about a time that many people would love to run, so please know that it’s not my intent to be ungrateful for the time, it’s just that it is far below what I expected for myself given my training and fitness.

Philly Bib 2015

I’ll get to the positives at the end, but unfortunately, this race was one of those where you just never feel good. I slept relatively well on Saturday night, waking up just twice at midnight and at 4 am. When the alarm went off at 5, I felt rested and ready. In hindsight, perhaps I was TOO calm. I ate my bagel and sunbutter and drank a cup of coffee while I put contacts in and got dressed. I left the hotel by 5:30 and walked to the start. It was oddly warm out but the wind was already blowing pretty well. I tried to stay positive and hoped that it would mellow with the sunrise. Security was relatively seamless and I got to the Elite Tent a little after 6. Headed out to jog at 6:15 and felt okay, but not great. Striders, however, felt totally fine so I figured things would snap together.

At 6:50, they asked us to walk from the elite tent to the start so we did. The wind was blowing and it was much cooler without warmups on. 7 o’clock clicked by with no wheel start. Then 7:05. Then 7:10. Finally at 7:13, they sent the wheels and at 7:15, we were off. Needless to say, any benefit of a warmup was gone and I was happy to just not trip over the starting line. From mile 1, I felt clunky and stiff. I tried to stay calm and hoped I would warm up. I went through the mile at 6:10, a little slower than I hoped, but not an insurmountable deficit.

By the time we reached mile 3, however, it was pretty clear that it wasn’t going to be a banner day. The wind was very strong at times, from seemingly all directions, and it was hard to find or hold a pace. Beyond this, my legs just felt punky. I found myself counting the miles very early which is never a good sign. I didn’t feel like I had gone out too fast, I just couldn’t move my legs. At mile 6, I saw my girls (more on that later!!) and had a few moments of feeling good so tried to capitalize on the moment. In fact, I went through the 10K in 38:24, which is a small 10K PR. By mile 7, however, the wheels were off. The 2:43 pace group for the full went by me, I had a shitty water stop (my fault, I didn’t really need it but thought maybe a gel would help) and I was flailing through the hills. Of note, I don’t think the pace group was running the right pace and I’m pretty certain they lost everyone by the end. When I ran Philly in 2012, I barely remember any hills. Today, it felt like mile 7.5 to mile 9.5 was ALL hills. I saw Erin just before 8 and gave her a thumbs down. At that point, I was just hoping for a PR.

The good news is, I never really crashed, I just couldn’t pick it up at all. I never needed to use one of my faster breathing patterns because I couldn’t turn my legs over fast enough. Even at mile 12 when I KNEW I needed to push, I just kept plodding along. When I rounded the corner and saw 1:22, it was all I could do to not burst into tears. I crossed the finish line and made my way back to the Elite Tent, just stunned at how badly things had gone. I think I would have liked to have cried, just to get some of the hurt out, but I honestly felt too shocked to do so.

The run didn’t feel like much more than a workout, so there may be hope to use the fitness for another race soon. I can’t discount the effect of the wind either; at race time, it was a steady 15 miles per hour with gusts up to 25 miles per hour. Even a modest adjustment for a 5 mph headwind predicts a 1:18 without wind. This is very, very, VERY little solace but at least I feel like it wasn’t all on me. The start delay didn’t help me at all either. Looking back, I wish I’d decided to run the first two miles much slower to warm back up. Ultimately, I don’t think it would have cost me a lot of time and I might have actually been able to make some gear changes.

On the great side, my girls team came down to Philly to surprise me. I was sitting in my hotel on Saturday (in my robe, having just showered) when the front desk called to see if I would take a package. I didn’t know who would send me something but thought maybe Will sent flowers. Imagine my surprise when I opened my door to see my girls!! They had been planning it all season and I had NO idea. They came equipped with giant pictures of me, tinsel and all their screaming voices. I will never, ever be able to articulate how amazing that gesture was but they saved the weekend for me. It would have been very easy to mope for the rest of Sunday but having them there made me realize I have to practice what I always preach to them about moving on from rough races.

I'll never be able to explain to them how much this meant to me.

I’ll never be able to explain to them how much this meant to me.

It’s similarly hard to articulate what I’m feeling right now. Devastated, heartbroken and humiliated all come to mind. I know that one race doesn’t define anyone but I don’t know when I’ll get the opportunity to give it my all again. That’s the risk with taking a big chance! You might not get the result you want and when you put it out there and are vulnerable, failure stings that much more. As my sister said when I was pathetically texting her, it’s just going to be raw for a few days. And as the much more brilliant Lindsey said, some days you just don’t have the magic.

For the next week or so, I’ll just take it easy, run when I want and try to figure out what went wrong, what I can do to salvage the cycle and where I want to go from here. If anyone knows a great December half marathon, I’m all ears!

Week in Review 9.7.15 to 9.13.15

Monday am: 3 miles with the team on a warmup for our hill workout. Hip core afterward.

Monday pm: 5 by 1 mile at T pace in 93 degree temps. 6:20, 6:32, 6:24, 6:42, 6:32 all 168 to 172. On the UVM bike path, so had some small variations in terrain. Exhausted. 10.5 miles.

Tuesday: 5.7 mile recovery run. Core afterward.

Wednesday: 9 mile run, previewing the Downtown 10K course with striders in the last mile.

Thursday: 8 by 800. Cooler but still struggling with the humidity and apparently my legs. 2:54, 2:55, 2:56, 2:57, 2:57, 2:59, 2:58, 3:00. 10 miles total. Legs afterward.

Friday: 4 miles at St. Johnsbury.

Love when we get the opportunity to run all together! Sharing all my wisdom pre-race...

Love when we get the opportunity to run all together! Sharing all my wisdom pre-race…

Saturday: 8 mile run in Saratoga Spa State Park. Super pretty.

Sunday: 16.15 long run with a bunch of Olde Bones. Arms after.

Total Miles: 67

Things are just not snapping together for me this cycle. I’m sleeping at least 9 hours a night, lifting and doing core, stretching and foam rolling and generally doing all the extras but feel worse than I did on 5 hours of a sleep and no extras. Hard to describe what feels wrong, but I just don’t feel like I can get my legs to move fast anymore. Pressing on because I have the time to do so, but definitely not encouraged for Philly at this point. I do need to work on prioritizing my own runs in addition to coaching, as I lost some mileage there this week when I tried to combine the two and ended up needing to focus more on coaching than on myself. I’m also still having a lot of right hip pain so giving that some extra focus throughout the day.

I have two big workouts and a race this coming week. I’ll be doing 3 by 2 mile at T pace on Tuesday, 6 by 1K at I pace on Thursday and then the Downtown 10K on Sunday. Haven’t quite formulated a goal for that race yet. I’m somewhat near where I was when I ran my PR there in 2012 but I’ll wait to see how my workouts go this week and what the weather is looking like.

No Body’s Perfect

At first blush, running seems like it should be easy. After all, we’ve been doing it since we were running away from wooly mammoths and the like. Spend fifteen minutes at a race, however, and you’ll note that although there are many different ways to “run,” they are not all equivalent in terms of efficiency or speed. As a result, running form is a constant focus of coaches and athletes alike. We spend time doing drills, striders and looking through video and pictures to assess the progression in form from the first 400 to the finishing stretch.

Despite knowing that my running form needs work, I haven’t spent a lot of time on it in recent years. Some of that is just from my schedule but some of it is stubbornness; my knees haven’t driven for almost 32 years, why would they start now?! However, behind this stubbornness, I know that if I want to get to the next level, I can’t fight my forward progress with low knees and a twisting upper body.

A skips. My face tells you how hard this is for me...

A skips. My face tells you how hard this is for me…

Now that I have the luxury of more time, I’m starting and ending every run with a routine of hip swings, cycle steps and skips to enforce good form and practicing good form in spurts throughout my easy runs. During my striders, I’m focused on driving knees and open arm swing. Finally, I’m lifting daily to make sure my muscles are strong enough to support all these new patterns of motion.

A physical reminder to stand tall.

A physical reminder to stand tall.

As a team, we are also working on posture this year. As most of us tire through a run or a race, we tend to collapse our shoulders inward which impedes our breathing and collapses our pelvis. Our taping project is the brain child of a team parent who is a PT. The tape (KT Tape) is placed such that you get a small tug on your lower back when you start to collapse inward. It definitely helps with running but I even notice its benefit when I’m just standing around and start to get lazy.

What parts of your form are you working on? Are you open to change or stubborn about your form? What drills do you do regularly?

Doubt Versus Faith

The last few weeks haven’t been the best in recent memory. Some of that is the weather; it’s hard to have any faith when you feel like you’re melting into the sidewalk. Weather doesn’t tend to rattle me for long though: almost everyone is dealing with it and it always gives way to training perfection by mid-September.

What IS rattling me is this creeping sense that things just aren’t going to pull together for me this year. The logical side of my brain tells me that it’s way too early to tell anything but the emotional part nags that I’m behind past years and certainly behind the markers that would predict the run I’m seeking in Philly. There are a few recent moments contributing heavily to that sense of doubt. The first is the Montpelier Mile. In a vacuum, it was a totally acceptable race run off very little specific training at peak mileage but I am struggling to let go of the fact that I a) missed my (arbitrary) time goal and b) got outstepped at the line. Since then, I’ve felt…deflated. Not long after the Mile, I had a horrible training week where running was painful and slow and my legs felt like they were filled with concrete. I slogged through my miles and ended up in tears after almost every run. My recent adaptation week helped me to feel better but as soon as I did, the heat settled in and all of my workouts have been effort rather than pace based. Even though I understand that effort is the way to go, it’s extremely hard to work at interval effort that turns out to be usual tempo pace (or slower). All of this is compounded by the fact that I went out on a huge, terrifying limb and took time off school to train and feel like I might be the world’s biggest failure if I don’t get a huge PR out of the effort.

Teetertotterfinished

There are plenty of factors that can explain my funk, both actual and perceived. I’m barely sleeping courtesy of third year and when I do sleep, I need to recover both from my workouts and from standing all day. I’m in a constant state of flux (the curse of third year: you’re always new somewhere and almost always in the way) and because everything is so new and unfamiliar, prone to microbursts of adrenaline every time a new situation crops up. Even my nutrition is suffering. The past two weeks on clinic were better because lunch breaks were built in but on other services, it’s “grab what you can, eat when you can” which is the enemy of effective fueling.

One of Will’s philosophies is that the process is the goal. That is, it’s more important to build day by day and week by week than to be hyperfocused on only the final goal. Self-doubt is diametrically opposed to the idea of process as the goal. Doubt is fixated on the end goal only. Trusting the process requires enormous faith in self and faith in coach. And the training sweet spot is somewhere right between the two, where you have enough doubt to stay hungry and humble and enough faith to persevere through a training cycle.

Since I started thinking about this post two weeks ago, I’ve actually made some progress towards the middle of the doubt/faith teeter totter. I’ve slowed down my non-workout runs to try to spare my legs, adjusted my expectations significantly before heading out for workouts and am trying to be more honest and open about my feelings of doubt, rather than bottling them up to manage on my own.

How do you ward off self-doubt? Which side of the teeter totter do you naturally fall on?

Week in Review 7.13.15 to 7.19.15

Monday: 6.23 mile run with horrible OR legs.

Tuesday: Last case didn’t roll out of PreOp until 6:30 pm so no run for me.

Wednesday: 11 miles with 6 by 30 seconds hard up Depot Street. Legs pretty dead but felt smooth during the hills.

Thursday: 8.5 run just slogging along.

Friday: Fit 9 in and ran into Amy which made it much more enjoyable. Striders in the last mile.

Saturday: 7.5 mile speed workout. Another day with a dewpoint of 70. 6 by 400 on the track. Dying with the heat!

Sunday: Quite the weather potpourri run; thunderstorms and rain for the first hour, then opened up to sun for the second hour. 15 miles, grateful for Erin’s company for all but the last bit. Full body lift after.

Total Miles 65.3

Not going to lie, this week was not the best. My schedule was pretty crushing and I was just in low-grade pain all week. Hoping it’s just fatigue from this new rotation but making plans to get my hemoglobin checked regardless. Heading into an adaptation week next week and will assess from there.

Dear Cyclists

We’ve had a bit of a rough summer here in Vermont, with three fatalities already following car versus bike. Two were alcohol related and one was speed related. All have heightened the intensity of conversations about what it really means to share the road. Some people are blaming the cyclists; from what I understand of these three accidents, this is wholly inappropriate. All three were experienced riders, wearing helmets and following traffic laws. All three drivers were incredibly irresponsible and totally out of control of their 3000 pound vehicles.

The impact of all of this is that many of us, both runners and riders, are feeling a little skittish about being on the roads. Last weekend, Will and I talked about going for a bike ride and then decided we just didn’t feel comfortable given the current climate. It was also a topic of conversation in the OR this week; one person stated that she won’t ride anywhere but the bike path now. Another said he’s been riding more, almost in homage to the three riders who passed away.

I am a fervent supporter of safe running, biking and whatever other person powered movement you want to engage in, but with that said, I am also LIVID at some of the behavior I witness as a driver and as a runner. The saying “one bad apple” comes to mind and although I think most of the cyclists in town are fantastic, I have two enormous pet peeves that I just need to get off my chest.

1. The Surpriser. He comes up behind you silently either on the road (why he’s riding against traffic is another issue) or on the bike path and without saying a word either pushes you off into traffic as he passes or scares the life out of you as he blows by. Related to this is the peloton of who come upon you at 40 miles an hour or the person who yells “On Your Right!” If you’re on the bike path, ride a reasonable speed to accommodate all the other people using the path and pass on the left. Passing on the left is such a convention that when I start to hear someone speak, I automatically move to the right. Following this convention keeps everyone safe; I don’t jump in front of oncoming bikes and you don’t hit me as you pass on the right.

2. The “I’m a Car No Now I’m a Pedestrian.” Pick one. You are either operating as a vehicle or as a pedestrian. You cannot invoke the privileges of both as it is most convenient. I see this most often at stop lights and on cross walks. If you are on the sidewalk (which, by the way, is not allowed in Burlington), stop at the Pedestrian Cross, dismount and wait for your turn to cross. If you are on the road, it is 100% not acceptable to blast through the red light that all the other cars had to stop at. I see this at stop signs all the time as well; cars dutifully stop and wait their turn while bikes blast through. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve almost been hit by a bike while running as I cross an intersection when it’s my turn as a bike blows a red light to turn across the cross walk.

We are all responsible for sharing the road and most of us use the road in different ways throughout our week. When we are drivers, we need to be aware, drive the speed limit and give as much space as we can to other users of the road. As cyclists, we need to ride single file, follow traffic signs, wear bright clothing and lights and generally use common sense. As runners, we need to do much the same. Anger over cyclists trickles down; one bad experience as a driver makes it more dangerous for the next cyclist or runner.

Sharing the road is every single person’s responsibility.

Race Report: 10th Annual Montpelier Mile

Alternate Title: Years of marathon training do NOT prepare you for a road mile.

I made the last minute decision to run the Montpelier Mile instead of Clarence DeMar earlier in the week, in some part because I wanted a new experience and in some part because there was a lot of cash on the line. Regarding the latter, I should learn that if in any other year I would have won going away, assume that if I’m there, at least four other faster women will show up. Sarah Luck. Anyway, with a $15 entry fee and the opportunity to race through my hometown in front of tons of people, I signed up to donate my lungs to the streets of Montpelier.

Since I’ve never raced a road mile and my last 1500 meter run was literally in the 90s, Will and I hit the track on Wednesday to try to calibrate me for a 5:30 mile. My job was to run 3 200s in 41 seconds. I was not successful. The first was a 36, the second a 39 and the third a 38. Eff it, we’ll do it live.

I will admit to being incredibly nervous. I spent most of yesterday worrying about how to approach the race. I realize that the plan is to run as fast you can for a mile but I worried that I’d either go out too fast and suffer for 300 meters or go out too slow and run out of real estate. The course was set up well with two turns and a round-about. The best part, however, were the crowds. I’ve never run a race with so many people out to cheer us on! Brilliant to have the race just before the parade.

I didn’t wear a watch because the course wasn’t marked, so I have no idea what my splits were. There is a “Dash for Cash” built in for the first 400 so I just tried to stay clear of all the people sprinting for that line. The top 4 women (of which I was a part) were all within steps of each other at the 400 meter mark but a high school girl (she’ll come back into play later) got there first then as we rounded the turn, dropped back quickly. I had my eyes on Christina’s back (ok, her braid, it’s swingy and easy to watch) and the woman in 2nd but was just trying to stay calm. Just before the Roundabout and 800 meter mark, I heard my godparents cheering. As I moved around the Roundabout, people were dropping back quickly and I actually felt pretty good. Somewhere in here, however, Christina and 2nd Woman got away from me. I’m not sure if I was slowing down or they were speeding up but I lost contact big time.

My original plan was to round the last corner and kick for home, which seemed like a lovely plan when I was talking it out with Will. When it came time, however, I rounded the corner and wanted to die. The finish banner was SO SO SO FAR AWAY. And by so far away, I mean 400 meters. I just tried to keep it together but my legs were done with the idea of a mile. As we closed in on the finish, suddenly the high school girl from the start was back and before I could respond, we were over the line. 5:31 for her (and $125) and 5:32 and $0 for me.

To say I spent the first few minutes (like 30 minutes) seriously effing pissed is an understatement. I actually took my singlet off and threw it. Dramatic. I don’t know why I expected to have an amazing mile in the middle of a 70 mile training week, after years as a marathoner but somehow I did. I was more frustrated that instead of staying focused and kicking it in, I just let someone by me in the last 10 feet. Yes, the prize money would have been nice but I was (and am) more frustrated that I didn’t fight all the way to the line. Definitely a race lesson that I need to learn and improve upon…

All in all, it was a great experience to race a totally different distance and I’d actually like to continue to do more short races, both because it hurts in a completely different way (I mean seriously, what’s with the lung pain?) and because it forces me to be razor-focused from the start. I’m already looking forward to the next track meet to keep honing my speed skills!