Category Archives: Vermont City Marathon

Week in Review 5.23.16 to 5.29.16

Also known as the week of August weather in May. (Seriously: they called VCM halfway through because the heat was just too dangerous.)

Monday: 7.25 miles with strides on the track.

Tuesday: 8.3 miles with arms after.

Wednesday: 9.32 miles with 3 by 1 mile at tempo pace on heartrate. Legs after.

Thursday: 5.5 recovery miles with 4 laps of striders.

Friday: 8.3 mile heat acclimation run. Yeeeeeech.

Saturday: 5 miles on the treadmill courtesy of 90 degree weather.

Sunday: 3 miles on the treadmill with 5 minutes at T pace after call.

Total Miles: 46.8

The Good: I was great about getting striders in this week and about foam rolling multiple times a day. The first 5 days of the week were awesome and I was hitting mileage goals easily.

The Ugly: I have got to get better about assuming I’ll get a run in after ANYTHING. On Saturday, it was almost 80 when I got up and instead of just going out and suffering, we went car shopping all day (I got a new amazing car!!) and by the time we were done, I was so overheated that even suffering for 5 miles on the treadmill was miserable. On Sunday, I was on call and instead of going before work, I planned to go after only to have huge thunderstorms break out.

Next week is a planned adaptation week. Although it’s tempting (really tempting) to just pretend this week was an adaptation week, my daily volume was regular volume until Saturday and Sunday. It’s good timing as I start at a new hospital tomorrow and will be commuting 90 minutes a day, which really uses up my running time. I’m debating hopping in a race next weekend (Causeway 15K) just to keep checking in on my fitness but I’m going to watch the weather before I sign up for a sweat fest!

What All Runners Should Demand from Races

Since the Trials last Saturday where athletes like Shalane Flanagan required medical attention and where almost a quarter of the field was unable to finish, there’s been an increasing amount of criticism of race organizers for not providing a safe, top notch event. Patrick Rizzo wrote a blog post, for example, about some of the things he observed over the weekend. Other OTQ runners have chimed in on LetsRun with similar observations and complaints. Some of these complaints are more centered on what kind of an event the Olympic Trials should be; should it be just a way to pick the Olympic Team or should it celebrate the top runners in the United States? I’m inclined towards the latter but perhaps that’s because the Trials are a huge goal of mine. Whether participants got a good swag bag, however, isn’t as critical as whether 300 runners were put in serious danger for the sake of a TV audience and the ever-present agenda of USATF.

Here’s my take:

All runners, whether they are Trials Qualifiers, likely Olympians or likely last in a local race deserve to have a safe race experience. 

It is embarrassing and frankly irresponsible that athletes didn’t have access to cool water for a four mile segment on the course and that when they did, they were given bottles with tops that were almost impossible to open. It is equally irresponsible that the race was held at the heat of the day for a TV audience. Heat stroke is a powerful demon and an athlete who pushes too far in the heat is lucky to only need IV fluids. Similarly, the course in LA featured portions under construction including a tall cone literally in the middle of the road that runners had to circumnavigate. Runners are tired by the end of a marathon; they don’t need to risk breaking an ankle because the course is poorly thought out.

Perhaps what is most appalling is that this race was a big, televised event that was supposed to showcase American distance running and it failed to adapt for weather conditions and protect the athletes when local races with no budgets and few professional runners do this all the time. I can’t recall a local race where there wasn’t enough water and can only think of one race where I felt unsafe because there was no one directing traffic. My hometown Vermont City Marathon, for example, had an extremely hot year a few years back and asked residents of the “Neighborhoods,” a section of the course between 16 and 20 miles to turn on their sprinklers to cool runners. It doesn’t take a huge effort or a ton of lead time to think about what athletes need to be safe and as we consider where to hold the Trials in the future, I hope that we can all stand up for a safe event that celebrates everything the Trials should be. 

Week In Review 5.18.15 to 5.24.15

What a whirlwind week! Inpatient Pediatrics has a far more demanding schedule than I thought it would; I’m up at 4:30 am every day and by the time I work, run and shower, it’s time for bed again! I’m on nights this week which frees me up to get some stuff done during the day and sets me up for a more temperature friendly running schedule.

5:45 am sky walking into the hospital this week. So pretty over Converse Hall!

5:45 am sky walking into the hospital this week. So pretty over Converse Hall!

Monday: Long warmup into 6 by 30 seconds hard uphill. 9.2 miles total.

Tuesday: 6.66 mile recovery run with Carl.

Wednesday: 7 mile run with Will on the bike path. Calves killing me.

Thursday: 8 mile run with Carl, Will, Joe and Billy. Awesome to have friends!

This pretty much sums up third year; laughing at each other and being totally clueless.

This pretty much sums up third year; laughing at each other and being totally clueless.

Friday: 9.5 mile fartlek run. 5 minutes at T, 4 minutes easy, 3 minutes at I, 3 minutes easy, 2 minutes at I, 2 minutes easy, 1 minute hard, 1 minute easy, 1 minute hard, 1 minute easy, 30 seconds hard. Hips actually felt pretty good, just felt like I didn’t have a lot of strength for uphill sections.

Saturday: Schedule got a little crunched (because I went sailing…) so just 4 easy miles before Pitch Perfect 2 with Jordan!

First day on the lake this year. Wind was a little finicky but it was amazing to get back out there.

First day on the lake this year. Wind was a little finicky but it was amazing to get back out there.

Sunday: 14 mile cheering long run. It was so odd to watch VCM rather than participate! Nice to experience that as a spectator, though.

Total Miles: 58.3

Adaptation week this week, which is welcome after some serious sleep deprivation. Got talked into running the Craft Beer 5K for a local brewery on Saturday so will use that as my second workout this week, probably progression run style. The race isn’t until noon so I expect we could be in for some nasty race conditions.

Overall, I’m feeling really good about the progress of my running. Standing/walking all day makes it hard to feel fresh but I have almost 6 months until Philly and feel confident that I can really make some progress between now and then. Also got the AWESOME news that I got accepted into the Elite Start for Philly, which makes a huge amount of difference for race morning. I get an F bib but more importantly, a tent and porto-potty at the start.

USATF NE Grand Prix 2015

The USATF NE Grand Prix was announced on Monday, which may not seem like headline news to most. For me, it will help finalize my calendar for 2015. The biggest item is that the marathon was moved to be Vermont City. I didn’t plan to do a spring marathon this year (because I am focusing on a fall OTQ attempt) but VCM being the USATF marathon changes a lot for me.

USATF NE Schedule

Have you done the USATF Grand Prix races before? Anyone racing as soon as February 22nd?

Week in Review 5.19.14 to 5.25.14 and a VCM Half Report

This was a really solid training week and my first above 60 in a long time.

Monday: 7.7 mile recovery run with a still-broken Garmin.

Tuesday: 9.15 miles with 4 strides at the end. (4 by 60 meters at a pretty-darn-quick pace).

Wednesday: Best workout post-surgery!!! 8 mile structured fartlek on the Causeway. 2 mile warmup, 5 minutes at slower tempo effort, 5 minutes recovery, 4 at faster tempo effort, 4 minutes recovery, 3 at interval pace, 3 minutes recovery, 2 at interval pace, 2 minutes recovery, 1 all out, 1 minute recovery, 30 seconds all out, 30 seconds recovery, 2 mile cooldown. Felt awesome the whole time which was a miracle given that I did this at 1 pm in 75 degrees and sunny. So encouraging to have a good workout. Hipcore after.

Slow Tempo: 6:45

Faster Tempo: 6:35

Interval: 6:10

All Out: 5:40

Thursday: Scheduled Off Day, prorated 7.5

Friday: 8 mile run with Annie, extremely humid out.

Saturday: 4.5 mile run with Will and Annie with 4 strides after.

Sunday: 20 miles. 2 mile warmup, 13.1 at tempo effort in 2-person Vermont City Marathon relay, 5+ miles of jogging around the course afterward.

Total: 64.9 miles

Finally feel like I’m hitting my stride this week. I still need to be better about the extras, in particular lifting, drills and core, but things are starting to feel better and I don’t feel so clunky all the time. I see Dr. Kevin on Wednesday and am hopeful he can help me keep working on improving my form/getting back to pre-surgery form.

VCM Half Marathon Race Report

Giving Laurel her singlet pre-race.

Giving Laurel her singlet pre-race.

I was really happy to only be running the half this year. It started off as a very humid morning and progressed to just plain hot by the time the second half of the race rolled around. It was reminiscent of 2011 when I led the pace group and people were just dropping like flies. I saw multiple pace leaders drop out yesterday and many experienced runners come in far off goal times. The weather really is getting too darn unpredictable at VCM recently.

I ran a full volume week so this race was intended to be a big workout for me and another opportunity to get back into racing. My only hope was to pop up a VDOT level with my performance and get through it without hurting myself or ruining this coming week of training. I’m glad for that, as I was drenched with sweat by mile 2 when I am not typically a heavy sweater. I didn’t wear a watch but remember a few splits from the course clocks. We went through mile 1 in about 6:45 pace and then Katie took off. I spent the rest of the run working through the pack (people went out SO fast) and just focusing on keeping good form. My pace was between 6:40 and 6:50 for the whole run and the only negative was that I felt like I could never get into a groove. My higher gear felt too fast and the 6:45 pace felt too slow. I was in the process of beating myself up for my second slowest half ever but corrected my attitude as we went through Church Street the second time when I reminded myself to be grateful that I was running a half 5 months after surgery. I finished the half in 1:29:05 (6:47 pace) which pops me up a VDOT level. Mission: successful!  Even after hours in the sun and lots more miles, my legs felt fresh. I’m happy to find that although my quads are a little tired today, everything else feels great and I’m ready for another week of training.

I have 2 weeks until the Causeway 15K and am looking forward to another opportunity to race the 15K on a flatter course with a few more weeks of fitness.

How was your weekend? Anyone race? How do you monitor your progress?

Kara Goucher…again, a massive hurdle pileup and an ethical dilemma

It’s getting a little old (in a good way) to write about Kara Goucher every week. This week, she, Nick Symmonds and Alysia Montano all signed with Soleus, which is a watch and GPS company. I actually checked their product line out after the announcement and am really interested in trying them out. They have a nicer aesthetic than Garmin and since mine is totally and utterly broken, maybe now’s the time. This most recent announcement is another awesome example of the quiet shakeup occurring in professional running. Goucher, Symmonds and Montano were all Nike runners at one point but all now run for shoe companies that allow them more latitude in other apparel and gear contracts. It’s also interesting to me that Goucher has a young child and is currently injured while Montano is pregnant and not competing this year, but Soleus was still happy to sign them. In the world of professional running, non-performance punishments are part of the business, but it seems that some of the smaller companies are starting to realize that elite runners are human too.

In more local news, an amazing story about a Vermont runner who had Guillain-Barre this winter and came back to be able to run half of VCM. We just did GB in a case study this week, so this story was about as timely as possible. My only objection to the story was the mention that the flu vaccine was a plausible cause of his GB. While the influenza vaccine can cause GB, it is FAR more common for a diarrheal or upper respiratory virus to cause GB (although GB is not at all common).

In another collision of my worlds, an interesting editorial was published on KevinMD this week, written by a resident who was running Boston and taking pictures for the Boston Globe to commemorate the experience. When a medical emergency occurred, she stopped to help and took a picture of the first responders. She also inadvertently got a picture of the victim and took considerable criticism. Her situation is somewhat unique but brings up both the interesting experience of the physician-runner and of social media rules for physicians. Every year at VCM, there are medical issues along the course and friends/colleagues of mine have to stop their races to provide medical care. It’s part of our job; whether we’re on duty or not, we have an obligation to help. I’m still getting used to that responsibility/requirement.

Rogue Running posted another great training article this week, this time on de-training and re-training. I know way too many people who go from marathon to marathon to marathon, only to have results stagnate or even get worse. This article is a simple explanation of why this happens.

Finally in “newsy news,” one of the most epic hurdle crashes I’ve seen in a long time. Hurdles and Steeple make for fantastic spectator fodder, but this almost takes the cake. I was never a great hurdler, but it seems like the guy in the lead fouled a few times, kicking through his hurdle instead of over it. You can clip a hurdle without a DQ, but not if it is intentional or impedes the progress of others. I don’t know about the former, but the ramifications of his clip clearly impeded (impressively) the entire heat.

What new equipment/gear companies are you loving? Do you use periodization in training or are you guilty of jumping from cycle to cycle? Best race related wipeout you’ve been a part of or witnessed?

I’m off to pick up our bibs at the Expo. Seems strange to have it be VCM weekend and not be preparing for a big race but also nice to know that I get to stop at Oakledge Park tomorrow.

Have a great weekend!

Ode to Joey and Meredith

Medical school is hard. Really hard. Like running, it will take what you give it and you can always give it more (even if that isn’t a good idea). And although medical school may not always mimic Grey’s Anatomy, there are certain undeniable truths within that show, the biggest of which is that you have to find your person. This road is miserable and long and if you don’t have your people next to you, downright impossible. I am so proud of two of my people who will be running part and all of VCM on Sunday.

my person

Meredith is not a runner. She’ll tell you that immediately upon broaching the subject. A yogi, a teacher, a sister, a daughter, a girlfriend, a Jersey girl. But not a runner. Still, Meredith bravely signed up for the half way back in January and I’m so proud to tell you all now that she actually likes it. She admitted that she looks forward to her runs. She even talked about her next half today. I haven’t told Meredith yet, but she IS a runner.

Joey was also not a runner. A bad ass lacrosse player, Joey is the girl you want on your kickball team or for any athletic event. As Meredith’s boyfriend remarked this spring, “if it’s athletic, Joey wants in.” Joey is in for the whole marathon and like so many former college athletes, is likely to have a great debut performance. She’s worked her butt off this winter, transitioning from a side to side carry of her arms from years holding a lacrosse stick to a form that looks downright practiced and professional. When we were running on the Causeway last week, I blurted out “you look like a runner!” And she does.

The aforementioned Causeway run.

The aforementioned Causeway run.

Running has always been my solace but what strikes me about these two amazing women is that they took a chance on running in a year where exhaustion is the only guarantee. They took a risk on distances far beyond keeping their hearts healthy. I couldn’t be more proud of them or excited for them.

Motivation

It’s hard to stay motivated in the winter, let alone a winter where I can’t run if I want to. Sure, I doubled in the pool on Wednesday and even jogged a few steps in the shallow end, but I’m far from in peak form. I even had to turn down an opportunity to pace at the Vermont City Marathon this week. I don’t know if I’ll be ready to pace a 3:15 in May and even if I am, I need to be careful about how much “quality junk” goes on legs I’m asking a lot of over the next year.

I badgered Will in the pool (it was his fault I had to double aquajog) about whether he thought the OTQ was insane. As the eternal pragmatist in our marriage, I expected him to tell me it was. Instead, he told me it seemed like the next logical step. I was both relieved and terrified to hear this. VCM was an epic disaster for me last year. I was ready to run a 2:50 with four weeks to go and then ended up with a sliding slope of injuries and pain associated with my foot and an atrocious weather day. With a new foot, a renewed dedication to lifting and functional strength and dialed nutrition, however, maybe it isn’t as insane a goal as it feels right now when a flight of stairs is a challenge.

So here’s how I get motivated to aquajog or bike: I want my name on this list for 2016, among other bucket list goals for my running career before I start formulating master’s goals.

The path between here and LA is a long one, but I’m excited to have something to pin in front of me, to drag me out of bed every morning and get me back to the gym for doubles.

The Student Becomes the Teacher

Last Saturday, I went to the State Meet to cheer my chickies on. I figured they needed me there for another familiar voice as they ran around the track. It turns out that I needed them. As long as I’ve been coaching them, I’ve enforced the rule that one can’t be mad about a PR and that you can’t control bad weather or how anyone else runs. I’ve heard myself say these things a hundred times but wasn’t sure that they heard them. It turns out that they did, because all of them came up throughout the day to remind me that I don’t get to be disappointed with my run at VCM because it was a PR, because the weather wasn’t in my control, because my run had nothing to do with anyone else’s run. And they were/are right.

VCM was a 7 minute PR over a year ago and an almost 20 minute PR over my first marathon five years ago. That’s a lot of time. It’s okay to learn from mistakes that I made during the race, but it’s not okay to dwell on and be disappointed in my performance. As such, we move on.

So what went well at VCM?

1. Nutrition. We nailed it. I had plenty of energy, my stomach felt great and I never had foggy moments of glycogen depletion. For no other reason, this makes VCM a complete success because nutrition can be such a wild card. Taking this element off the “to-do” list is a huge accomplishment.

2. Patience. The women’s field went out fast. Really fast. And I didn’t go with them. I stuck to my race plan and felt great throughout the entire race. I didn’t have a lot of drive to do much at the end (the word that keeps coming up is bored), but I moved from 14th at the 10K to 9th at the finish, and that doesn’t count at least two invited women who dropped out. I worked hard throughout the early parts of the race to remind myself that the marathon is a long race and that anything can happen between the start and 26.2 miles.

3. Recovery. After my first marathon, I was so sore that I could barely walk for a week. Last year, it took me over an hour to walk half a mile in Waterfront Park. This year, I was walking and talking almost normally after a shower and a snack. Although my shins were inexplicably sore on Monday and Tuesday, I was able to walk without a hitch by Wednesday. I also took an entire week off of running, which I often don’t do. Even this week, I’m keeping runs short and still taking rest days to let my body and mind heal.

Shhhh I’m Resting

I haven’t run yet. And I haven’t finished my hissy fit yet, either. Work was busy enough this week that I didn’t really have time to dwell on VCM 2013, but I still have a sour sense of disappointment and frustration that we got the weather we got and I missed a chance for a better performance. More of the frustration comes from realizing that I didn’t execute a particularly strategic race and mentally gave up when I felt as fine as one is going to feel in the marathon.

Regardless, we move on. I’ve turned back into a bit of a gym rat this week, as I’m taking a little time away from pounding on my legs. Monday and Tuesday, I hobbled including a comical walk home from work. I thought I was ready to tackle the big downhill between my office and my house but I was wrong. Picture a woman in dress clothes and loafers walking down a steep hill with completely straight knees. I had a few moments where I was sure I was going to fall. On Wednesday, I peddled a recumbent bike, lifted arms and found out that my new capris are 100% see-through. My sincere apologies to everyone lifting with me. Yesterday I tested out my “run readiness” on the elliptical. Not ready. After 25 minutes, my legs felt like jello and things were starting to hurt. Maybe tomorrow.

In the meantime, Will, Seth and I spent a number of hours last night gearing up to apply for elite status for Olde Bones.  USATF designed this program “to support USATF’s efforts to develop nationally and internationally competitive athletes by increasing and enhancing the number of year-round training environments available to post-scholastic and post-collegiate U.S. athletes.” We plan to apply for this status in January and our meeting was to clearly delineate steps towards that application. Much more will be out soon on the Olde Bones site, but we made some new team “web stuff,” so if you’re interested in runners other than me (and some really, really talented runners…):

Website: oldebones.tumblr.com

Twitter: @OldeBonesTC

Facebook: facebook.com/OldeBonesTC

Furthermore, if you’re interested in potentially joining the Olde Bones, you can email us at oldebonestc@gmail.com. A optimal fit for us would be a post-collegiate athlete interested in continuing competition who has performed at at least a 70% age-graded level in the past year.