Category Archives: running

Week in Review: 2.27.17 to 3.5.17

Monday: 10 K of skate skiing at the second part of the State Championships. Kids did AWESOME. Boys ended up third overall and girls were second. Such a fun day and an amazing end (sob) to my coaching career (for now).

Tuesday: Back to reality. 4.5 mile run before work. Legs totally exhausted from skiing. 300 abs at night.

Wednesday: 7 mile fartlek workout with 5 by 30 second hills hard then 4 by 2 minutes at tempo pace.

Thursday: The post call day that just wasn’t. Didn’t leave the hospital until 5 pm and then had to pretend to study for my national shelf exam that was happening Friday morning.

Friday: The niggle of a cold on Thursday turned into a full-blown cold by Friday morning and it.was.gross. I brought a roll of toilet paper to my exam and apologized profusely to my classmates for the 2.5 hours of sneezing, sniffling and nose blowing. 5 miles on the trails behind my house, however, between components of the exam.

Saturday: Down for the count. Couldn’t breathe, think or move. Since Will is gone for the next month, we attempted to have a nice day together but all I could manage was a coffee shop and then sneezing my way through the rest of our errands.

Sunday: Still sick but decided to move (slowly) to try to feel better. 5 miles on the trails again. Didn’t feel great but didn’t feel awful and I’m glad I got out there. Arms afterward.

Total Miles: 27.2

Total February Miles: 137

I am the poster child for burning the candle at both ends right now. I had a few threats of sickness over the past few weeks but was lucky and never fully crashed until Thursday, just in time for my first full weekend off in a while. Compounding this is the fact that tomorrow (Monday) will be my last run for a week because of my Tuesday morning surgery. As I said to Erin Lopez yesterday, this winter has been a total bust for training and only some of it has been in my control. I’m obviously going to play it by ear this week and let pain be my guide but my hope is to be doing light cardio by Thursday with hopes that I can be back to running for next Monday. After that, it’s scramble as best as I can until Unplugged and hope for the best!

Weeks in Review: 2/13/17 to 2/26/17

There’s no filter to undo those circles…

2/13/17 to 2/19/17

Monday: Early morning snowshoe run for 45 minutes because the snow was just too amazing to not play in. Plus, I’m signed up for the Northeast Snowshoe Championships so I figured I’d better get out and practice!

Tuesday: 8 miles with 4 miles at tempo pace. Downhill skiing in the afternoon.

Wednesday: 4.28 mile recovery run.

Thursday: 8 miles with 4.5 miles at steady state on the treadmill.

Friday: 3.25 miles easy.

Saturday: 45 minute snowshoe run at my parents. SO hard in all the snow.

Sunday: Off day.

Total Miles: 23.5 plus 90 minutes of snowshoe running.

2/20/17 to 2/26/17

Monday: 8 miles with 5 by 2 at interval pace followed by a mile at steady state.

Tuesday: 5 mile recovery run

Wednesday: 6.65 mile regular run

Thursday: 5 mile progression run

Friday: 10 miles of classic skiing at the State Meet.

Saturday: Long call. Lots of hospital walking but no run. 300 abs routine before bed.

Sunday: 11.3 mile long run.

Total Miles: 46.0

The last two weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind. When we’re on Inpatient Medicine, we typically work six days a week with one weekend day off. Since the State Meets fall on weekdays, however, I had to stack some weekends so that I could have the time off. This past week, my “off day” from the hospital was very much an on day at the rainy, windy classic State Meet. Needless to say, I’m pretty wiped out and amazed I ran at all!

The toughest girls you’ll ever meet.

And my resilient, wonderful boys relay team.

My workouts have felt pretty good lately, which I attribute in part to my being fastidious about taking my multivitamin with iron. I stopped taking extra iron after last summer because my running had decreased and the high sweat loss season was done. However, because of the size of my hematoma, I decided to add a multivitamin with iron back in and have felt much peppier on runs lately.

I finally feel like I’m getting in a rhythm with my early morning runs…which must mean it’s time to switch schedules again! I have one more week on Inpatient Medicine, then switch to Surgery Boot Camp. This has a later start time but I think I’ll continue to do my runs in the morning. As ski season winds down, I’ll also be looking to add Body Pump back in for strength training.

Mass

No amount of medical training can prepare you to absorb the words, “we found a mass in your breast.” I am a healthy 33 year old with little family history of cancer and although I by no means think I’m infallible, if you told me I’d start 2017 with a breast biopsy and the placement of a bead for annual followup, I wouldn’t have believed you.

So that the few people who know me personally exhale, let me skip to the punchline first: the mass is benign and everything is a-ok. The pathology came back as a sclerosing papilloma, which is the most common breast mass in women in my age group.

***The rest of this is a little TMI, so feel free to skip.***

This all started in August, when I was in Chapel Hill for a girls weekend with friends and woke up to find that there was blood on my sheets and shirt from my nipple. At the time, I discounted it as terrible chafing from my sports bra. KC and I had run the day before in 104 degree humidity and every other square inch of my body was chafed, so I didn’t worry about it and didn’t say anything to KC or Lindsey. Everything was fine for a couple of weeks and then it started happening rather regularly. Sometime in the fall, I also started having intermittent stabbing pain, usually with movement but sometimes just laying in bed. Without laying too much blame, it took some time to get into my PCP’s office because they were in a transition and I was away for interviews.

I had my mammogram and ultrasound at the end of December. Public Service Announcement: I had heard horror stories about mammograms and they are false. Yes, it’s uncomfortable. Yes, it’s awkward. But it’s never painful and it’s so worth it. Get yours. The mammogram was normal but the ultrasound revealed a mass in my right breast and warranted a biopsy and placement of a bead so that the mass could be tracked for either surgery or further monitoring. A few people have asked if I was scared and to be completely honest, I wasn’t. Somewhere between Katrina relief and medical school, I’ve stopped trying to control things I can’t control and this situation fell firmly in that range for me. I knew that the chances of it being malignant were low and I also knew that the Breast Cancer Center at UVM was incredible and that I was in the best hands possible.

Telling my husband, parents and sister, however, was horrible. Will lost his mother to breast cancer when he was in high school and she was diagnosed in her early 30s. He has been great through the whole process but I can’t help but imagine that this dredged up a lot of things he didn’t want to remember. My family was fantastic and I did my best to prepare them for what was most likely (and what was the worst case scenario).

Will was away for an interview so my mom took me to my biopsy on January 2nd. The team at the BCC was incredible; they are kind, caring and just the nicest people you could ask to undergo this with. The biopsy wasn’t too bad, just a ton of pressure. The placement of the bead, however, gave me an appreciation for 10/10 pain. In a classic Sarah move, I thought I was fine, went out to the waiting room to wait…and promptly vasovagaled down and had to go lay down again. Things went well after that but unfortunately, I had quite a bit of bleeding from the biopsy and formed a large hematoma which earned me a breast binder. It is exactly what it sounds like…the nurses wrestled me into it and I went home to recover.

Because a hematoma is a deep bruise that needs some help to drain, I had to wear the breast binder for a few weeks. The worst part of the breast binder was the inability to expand my lungs. The second worst part was that it makes you stand up incredibly straight. Both of these things made it virtually impossible to ski or run normally, so I skied slowly with poor form and didn’t do much running.

What it took to run or ski…and yes, the breast binder is pink and flowery. Don’t get me started.

The pathology (cell type and behavior) came back as a sclerosing papilloma which essentially means that the cells were normal but they were stacking up on themselves to make this nice little mass in one of my ducts. Because mine is symptomatic and because it’s large and unlikely to stop bleeding on its own, I’ll be having surgery on March 7th to remove it. It’s a straightforward surgery and I don’t even have to have general anesthesia but I can’t run for a week afterward because I’ve already demonstrated that I like to bleed. The long term bummer is that I won’t be able to breast feed on that side due to scarring.

So why share this on a running blog? First, because I am a split inch from being a doctor and I want everyone to pay attention to their preventative health. Second, because I attributed this to running and chafing and easily could have continued that had I not had my background in medicine. And third, because it changes the way I will be approaching my training for New Bedford. Provided I don’t have any complications, I will now be running New Bedford as a long workout in preparation for the Unplugged Half in April. Because I need to take a week off after surgery, it just doesn’t make sense to force myself to try to get a race effort in at New Bedford. I may feel totally fine and get a great workout in or I may have pain and need to just back off and do it as a workout.

Product Review: Honey Stinger Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond Protein Bar

After my scathing review of the Soleus watch last week, I figured I’d better redeem myself with a far more positive post. As I shared earlier this year, I was lucky to join the Honey Stinger hive earlier this year and I do get a discount on their goods. Beyond that, this is not a sponsored post and I’m not getting any additional compensation.

Anyway, as I’m back on the wards now (on late call today which means anything from a 6:30 to a 10 pm departure from the hospital. Blech), I wanted to find some snacks that were easy to stash in my coat or pockets but offered some nutritional staying power. When I found out that Honey Stinger made protein bars, I ordered a box of Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond but prepared myself that I might not like them. I tend to find protein bars too chalky for my taste or way too much for a simple snack. I can’t do the meal replacement bar thing; my brain demands “real” food so if I eat a 500 calorie protein bar, I’m still hungry for dinner.

Simply put, these are fricken delicious. Like, really, really good. They don’t taste fake at all and the combination of chocolate, cherry and almond feels way more like a candy bar than a protein bar. I’ve thrown them in every bag and coat I own and made it through some crazy days of early morning run to wards to nordic practice to the alpine hill thanks to these bars.

Nutritionally speaking, they are a great balance of fats (8 g), proteins (10 g) and carbs (19 g) in a 180 calorie package. Because of this, they are a versatile choice for pre or post workout or a snack between meals. Right now, I’m primarily using them as an afternoon snack to get me through practice and to dinner. I can see myself using them as a quick breakfast in a pinch, however, paired with a piece of fruit and bottle of Nuun.

Product Review: Soleus Pulse HRM

It’s always awkward to find a product that you are totally disappointed in, especially when it’s a relatively new company. That said, one of the beautiful things about the blog community and the endurance blog community in particular are the availability of candid product reviews. In the time of a bazillion sponsored posts, as uncomfortable as it is to give a product zero starts, it’s also important to keep it (really) real. I (obviously) wasn’t sponsored for this review; I saw an internet special on this watch and sprung for it because I wanted a wrist based HRM.

I had EXTREMELY high hopes for the Soleus Pulse HRM. It has a built in heart rate monitor which meant no futzing around with a heart rate strap; I could just put the watch on and go. I really like training by heartrate for outdoor tempo runs and for recovery runs but the strap is uncomfortable and almost untenable in the winter under a bunch of layers. It also featured a GPS, activity tracker and chrono function, so my hope was this watch could become my all the time watch. Not so much. If I can’t figure out how to return it, I’ll probably throw it out.

Right off the bat, the watch disappointed. First, the face is HUGE. I can’t take too many points off for this because I have tiny wrists but the watch face was much broader than my bones and to tighten the watch such that it could even work as a heart rate monitor, I was at the very last hole on the strap before the face. I’m not overly vain but it wasn’t a watch I wanted to wear around work because it was just so bulky.

Second, you need a PhD to make this thing work. I’m a relatively smart person and actually tech savvy but the startup guide that comes with the watch is all but useless. You have to go on to Soleus’ website to figure out how to configure it. Again, not a deal breaker, but it certainly wasn’t plug and play and the buttons still didn’t make sense after reading the manual. I would have been willing to spend more time getting to know the watch, however, had it actually worked once I figured out how to start it.

On my first run, it took me all of half a mile to realize that the heart rate monitor just didn’t really work. When I was doing hip swings, it was close to what I assume is accurate in the 90s, but when I started to run, it went to 99. And stayed there. The entire run. Occasionally it would flash in the 120s, but it was never over 99 for more than a second. When I would stop running (say, at a red light), it would occasionally pick up a more believable heart rate but as soon as I started running again, it went back to 99. This happened on the second and third (coincidentally the last time I used it…) runs as well. Meh.

Not only does the lauded heart rate monitor flop, the GPS doesn’t even work well. I’ve been running in Burlington for enough years and with enough watches and GMaps Pedometer checks to know the length of my routes. On my second run with the Pulse HRM, I headed out for a known 10.25 mile loop. When I got home, it measured just over 8 miles. That’s more than just a little error and it was a bright, sunny day.

All in all, there is just nothing redeeming I can say about this watch except that thankfully, the web special that I bought it under seems to have wiped out the stock so you can’t make the same mistake as me. Back to my good old fashioned chrono Timex!

 

Product Review: Skechers Go Meb Razor

I’m a good secret keeper when I need to be but when Dave showed me this shoe in October, it took all of my self-control not to say something. I had pictures on my phone that were burning a hole in my pocket and I texted him a number of times asking him when the Razor was going to hit the market. When my pair finally came in a couple of weeks ago, I broke it out immediately, even though it was snowy and terrible out and decidedly not the conditions for a sports car like the Razor.

Let’s back up for a moment. As I’ve raved about here before and in the real world, the inspiration for the Razor was the GoMeb Speed, which is my all time favorite racing flat, and the GoRun Ride which has been my regular workhorse shoe for the last year. Suffice to say, there was little chance I didn’t love the Razor. With a 4 mm drop, it’s what I’m used to running in and with an improved sole (no holes for rocks to stick in) and upper (comfortable cloth that actually moves with your feet), this shoe nails it. One of the other bonuses of all Skechers shoes is that they come with two insoles which allows you to further customize the fit. I have two different sized feet and if I wear a shoe that fits my left foot, my right foot gets slammed around in too much toebox. With Skechers, I can order a 7, take the insole out on my left and wear the insole on my right and voila, happy feet on both sides. For other people with narrow, wide or some other bizarre foot issue, the insoles give you a chance to essentially get quarter sizes out of the same base shoe size.

I’ve now done a regular run, tempo run, long run and track workout in these shoes. They were great for all uses but I think their real strength is for long tempo runs, marathon race shoes and long runs with quicker effort. They have excellent return off the pavement for workouts but are not quite as responsive on the track for the super-discriminatory. That said, if you were looking to only purchase one shoe (I realize that most people don’t have a quiver of shoes like I do), the Razor is an excellent all-purpose shoe that you can train, race and recover in.

Week in Review: 1/30/17 to 2/5/17

Monday: Tempo run outside on the new part of the bike path! 3 by one mile with 90 seconds rest between. Total 7.4 miles.

Tuesday: 3.25 mile Treadmill Express Hills. 

Wednesday: 5 mile regular run with 4 by 30 striders in the end on the treadmill. 1 hour of easy classic skiing in afternoon.

Thursday: 7 mile steady state run with 4 miles at steady state.

Friday: 11.5 mile long run along Lake Michigan. Windy and cold but insanely sunny.

Saturday: 3 miles easy on treadmill pre-interview.

Sunday: Ugh. Done with interview season and instantly sick. Achy, sore throat, nauseous. Miserable.

Total Miles: 37.2

The good news is that I got all three workouts in this week: tempo, steady state and long run! I did a good job of getting glute activation in daily and did some form of core and basic strength before bed every night. The bad news is that I didn’t manage to explicitly lift a single day, my diet was somewhat of a scatter and I still didn’t do any yoga. Not great…

This is a pattern for me (and I presume many other people) that when mileage creeps up (even if it’s half of my usual mileage), all the extras get pushed out. My focus this week is on keeping the extras in, even if my mileage isn’t quite as high. It’s good practice for next year when I’m going to have almost no time to train.

The week ahead may be complicated as I go back on clinical medicine service (for the first time since August) and right back onto Internal Medicine, which is 6 days a week with rotating call. I start tomorrow post-call, which means that I probably won’t be there too late tomorrow but as the week goes on, the hours get crazier. The approach for this week? At least 30 minutes of running in the morning (varying between workouts and recovery) with lifting at night (I already wrote what I’m doing into my schedule) and a hope that I’ll be around 40 miles.

The hurdle may be how long I feel miserably sick for. I am rarely too sick to run but felt like if I could lay low today and go to sleep early, I might be able to stave off whatever this is.

Express Workout: Treadmill Hills

I’ve become a bit of a master at express workouts over the last year and wanted to share one of my favorites here. If you have 30 minutes, you can get a great, full workout in AND stave off boredom on the treadmill.

If you have more than 30 minutes, you can keep adding on 5 minute repeats or swap to my Long Hill Stamina run which I’ll share next week.

Training Approach for New Bedford

One of my strengths/weaknesses (can you tell I’ve been on the interview trail…) is that I am a hyper-analytical person and I am constantly thinking about how to change a process to make it better. While this is generally a good thing, at times it makes it difficult for me to relax, enjoy and experience. It also makes me attempt to exert control over situations where that is just not feasible. In terms of running, however, it allows me to look over past training cycles and evaluate what worked and what didn’t work.

Two of my most data rich training cycles are my two lead ups to the Philadelphia Half Marathon, one where things went well and I felt amazing and strong through a 1:21:45 half and one where I struggled to a 1:22:25 finish. Some of the differences may have been due to weather and iron deficiency, but one of the biggest things I noticed in my 2015 attempt at Philly was that I a) never felt comfortable and b) had no extra gear to kick up to. At first, I assumed that this was because I hadn’t done enough interval work but as I looked over my training log, the biggest difference was that in 2012, I did a TON of stamina and steady state work and very little frank interval work.

As I’m approaching New Bedford with less time than I had to prepare for the “Phillies” (both week wise and day to day time wise), I’m trying to train smart with the time that I do have. As such, I’m splitting my hard effort days between four major categories: interval, tempo, stamina and steady state. I pair interval and stamina in one week followed by tempo and steady state in the following week. My long runs are easy and one of my easy runs is a hill focused run. The rest are easy peasy.

  • Interval: Still important, just not the main focus of my training cycle. My workouts are time based because I’m almost exclusively on the treadmill due to footing and are either 10 by 1 on, 1 off (emulating 300 meter repeats) or 4 on, 3 off (emulating 1K repeats).
  • Tempo: If you only have time for one workout a week, science and numbers say this is your best bet. I alternate between mile or 5 minute repeats at T pace and continuous tempo. As I get in tuning phase in early March, I’ll add 200 meter repeats after my tempo workouts to tune up my top end speed.
  • Stamina: My FAVORITE kind of run. I do these as progression runs, starting incredibly easy then gearing up until I am at tempo pace. I’ll share my treadmill version of this workout later this week but I love that this workout is challenging but not killer. When the footing is better, I also do these as long hill repeats.
  • Steady State: The ultimate awkward run, this is a continuous run done at approximately marathon effort. It is not as hard as a tempo run but was incredibly helpful for me in preparing for Philly 2012 because I learned how to cruise comfortably.

The other benefit of this approach is that although it sacrifices some specificity for the half marathon, it builds a stronger base for whatever events I jump into for the remainder of the year.

Week in Review 1.23.17 to 1.29.17

Monday am: Thanks to odd January weather, actually made it to the outdoor track for 5 by 800 at interval pace. Enormously humbling to be struggling along just a bit faster than what I consider my usual tempo pace but felt great to get it done. Legs after.

Monday pm: 45 minute skate ski with the team.

Tuesday: 4.7 mile run in the snow/sleet/ice storm. Stayed upright, which is all a girl can ask for.

Wednesday: 5.65 miles while the car was getting inspected. Sidewalks still a little hairy but trail shoes did the trick. Skied with the team in the afternoon, probably 20 minutes or so of real skiing and a lot of coach standing.

Thursday: No run. Had I known how busy the end of the week would get, I would have run on Thursday instead of taking it as a scheduled rest day but I was trying to be good. I downhill skied all day and the conditions were INCREDIBLE.

Friday: 7 mile progression run on the treadmill. Massage in the afternoon.

Saturday: All of the activities day. 3 mile recovery run, 30 minutes of nordic skiing plus coaching then 5 hours of downhill skiing then three rounds of bowling.

Sunday: Got slammed by my schedule (and my own bad planning) and didn’t get any run in, let alone my long run. Disappointed but trying to view my accessory activities as deposits into the fitness bank.

Total Miles: 33.1

The good? I got two solid workouts in, lifted a lot and got a massage which did wonders for my glutes, hamstrings and back. The not so good? I didn’t do a good job managing my schedule and messed up my long run. My senior research abstract is due on Friday and I’m still scrambling to review charts. Interview season and HIPAA made it impossible to do this project on the road so I’ve been working hard to get through it since my travel wrapped up.

I still didn’t manage to get 20 minutes of yoga in this week, which is more a reflection of my prioritization than schedule. I need to make this investment, period. My DQS was > 15 on 5/7 days and even the days it wasn’t, I was making good food choices. Planning meals on Sunday makes a huge difference for me and surrounding myself with good choices for fueling makes it easy to get to 15.

This week brings my LAST interview. Wahooo!!! I’m headed to the Windy City where I’ll get my long run in on Friday, hopefully along the Lakefront Trail if there’s not too much snow. Will has shoulder surgery on Thursday and will be out of commission for 12 weeks so I’ll also be trying to pick up more of our household stuff that he usually manages. Finally, this is my last weekend before I go back on service on Monday for my Medicine Acting Internship. My AI will be a great test for my workout plan during Residency and my goal is to just get my workouts in (including that long run!!) and be at least at 40 miles a week. Everything else is gravy!