Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Summer Run Musings

One thing that I've learned about myself over the years is that my body really doesn't tolerate extreme anything particularly well. Heat, cold, elevation...I probably have a story where I've either wound up in an ER or should have.

So after running the Broad Street Run, I chased winter in Colorado and experienced altitude sickness for the second time in the last decade. In my defense, I was completely fine at 9,000', and arguably I would have remained upright if all I was doing was just sitting around on my rear at 11,000' rather than attempting to follow way stronger skiers around A-basin 15 hours after landing in Denver.

Chasing winter
Chasing May!
After catching powder over the weekend (I was fine after some shoe shopping in Silverthorne) and a little more travel, I settled back in to DC last month a complete respiratory mess. The weather was unexpectedly mild and fantastic for running, except I couldn't get my act together to cobble together any good runs. Then it got steamier and toastier here in the swamp, and because I took the bulk of last summer off from running, I forgot how to set myself up for successful summer training. 

Finally, I remembered: get out there before the sun gets too high because I am way better at dealing with mugginess than heat. Or, run a north/south route so that the buildings block the sun. Also, I'm giving my wrist a break from carrying around a Garmin or any timing device for that matter. None of my routes are new. I know their distances, and all I'm aiming for right now is an aerobic base. 

Not all my runs since this epiphany have been great, either, but I'm not as stressed out about something that's supposed to be fun. My road trip wing woman and I are registered for my second half marathon — the Urban Bourbon in Louisville, Kentucky — this fall. I want to run a half in under 2 hours at some point, but my strategy for now is to see where this summer base building thing takes me and go from there. 

We're really running for the bourbon at the finish line, anyway. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

On Being Game Fit and Other Musings

After a whirlwind 24-hours in Philly, I came back with a ten-mile jaunt down Broad Street and a couple of beers and some mussels under my belt.
Last week, I ran exactly 1.25 miles after realizing that I was probably overtrained (thank you, Jonathan, for that insight). And after that short run, my calves were unexpectedly sore. I'm the first person to tell friends to trust their training going into a race. But this time, in building fitness and distance, I had essentially mis-trained, and I had no idea whether a one-week layoff would be enough. I did not trust my training.

So, much to my surprise and delight on Sunday, I turned in a game fit time under the 1:40 mark! And until the last mile – and who really feels good in that mile – the run felt pretty good. I credit much of my result on the net downhill course and deciding very early in the race to focus on staying on a painted line on a (mostly) straight roadway/course.

I'm pleased with my time given my current condition and the level of training I (over)did. Other positives: racers received free rides on the subway, the entry fee was a mere $43, there were water stations at practically every mile for those who like to have stomachs that slosh, and the mobile app was pretty effective.

But, the test of whether a race has grown too big for its britches is if the average-paced runner feels she has had a good experience. If logistics and planning go sideways – say, not so hypothetically, runners need to stop running before the finish timing mat because the crowd of runners who finished seconds earlier are still on the mats due to overall crowding in the chute – the middle to back of the pack is where that impact is felt.

So, as a middle of the pack runner, I'm not rushing to enter next year's lottery. The race has reached its resources' carrying capacity, and unless Broad Street has an emotional connection for the runner, there are other smaller races out there.

Like in the fall. When I'm better trained. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

On (Over)Training

The Broad Street Run is this Sunday! And I may be overtrained! But, it's an improvement from lacking confidence, which is how I felt before the brain trust that I consulted reframed my ailments determined that I was overtrained.

And coincidentally, the local forecast spewed out this:

Just so we're clear, I'm potentially "overtrained" for someone who's doing essentially the couch to 10-miler. I don't really run in the winter, nor do I train for spring races longer than 10K.

I realized two Sundays ago that I managed to write in my calendar some random training plan that had me logging 2 to 4 extra miles per week for the last month than I intended. And not surprisingly (in retrospect), for the last month, I have been complaining to a lucky group of people about how recovery is taking longer than it did 10 years ago. My legs started feeling tired at mile 4 of my runs and crushed by mile 6. Walking up the three flights to my office left me winded. Holding a Warrior 2 in yoga left my quads quivering.

It was demoralizing, and I was convinced that the last trip around the sun did a number on me. I tried eating more protein and sleeping more. And then I realized that I wasn't even following a training plan.

I don't know my regular resting heart rate and whether it's become elevated, so really, I don't have any measure of whether I'm overtrained. And there's a certain level of weirdness to referring to myself as "overtrained" when I'm nowhere near peak-for-me speed. But it's a reasonable explanation for my ailments.

It's all relative.

Now there's a rain event of ark-building proportions this week = forced rest for someone who does not have access to a treadmill, although I do plan to get out later this week to shake out the legs.

And yeah, for me, having things reframed as "overtrained" has actually helped my lack of confidence. Let's face it: legs regularly dying at 10K when training for 10M is not inspiring. But with my brain in a different frame of mine, I'm looking forward to heading up I-95 to Broad Street.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Winter Yoga Retreating

A month ago, I found out that my restorative yoga teacher was looking for another person to assist at her annual retreat in the mid-Hudson region of New York, which is more or less where I spent the first half of my life. After a little deliberation (What happens if there's another debilitating snow storm on the east coast? What does a yoga assistant at a retreat do?), I told her that I wanted to be an assistant. 

I arrived at Hogwarts the resort on Friday evening, a week after it had reopened to the public following a massive sanitation effort prompted by an outbreak of a gross GI bug. The resort is, simply, amazing. All it needs is a 2000' vertical snow-covered slope, and it would be perfect for me, but who's got time to pick nits?

I assisted classes.

I cross country skied in toasty conditions.

I ice skated.

And completely unexpectedly, I subbed the last class at the retreat. It was one of those clich├ęd "right place at the right time" moments and having the courage (or, more accurately, being only half awake and uncaffeinated) to say yes when the opportunity arose. It turned into one of the most amazing experiences I've had teaching yoga: after the class, one woman told me that it was the fastest 75-minutes she's ever experienced!

I went into yoga teacher training 4 years ago to "deepen my practice." Teaching wasn't the end goal. I had done enough led Ashtanga, Iyengar, and traditions in between to know that I cared about alignment and wasn't into binding into a pose just for the sake of binding into a pose. Besides, I have tight shoulders. From teacher training, I wanted to receive knowledge that I was unlikely to obtain from taking large group classes.

Being too groggy to pay attention to any gremlins that wanted to creep up and whisper to me not to teach on Sunday morning was a good thing. It essentially led me to step outside of my comfort zone, or take a calculated risk where I expanded the level of risk I was willing to accept. And really, the risk was just my ego, right?

Realistically, the class size was not much larger than classes that I've taught in gym settings in DC. The most nerve-wracking thing for me was that people had signed up for a winter yoga weekend with my teacher, not me. I wouldn't have been offended if people had turned around and decided to go snowshoeing instead. But no one turned around. And although I think many in the group initially stayed out of kindness, I really believe that at the end of class, they were pleased that they remained.

I'm still riding the high from the weekend and excited to bring this energy to my regular classes this week....stay tuned!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

February Musings

So I've been somewhat out of sorts for several weeks, despite a hybrid professional development slash ski trip to the PNW and SLC at the end of January. Usually, ski trips rejuvenate me, but conditions have been so meh this year, it's been tough.
Heh. Google+ automatically "awesome-ized" this pic with the falling snow. It amuses me, so I'm posting it. In reality, it was pretty springlike at Mt. Hood Meadows, and I think Charlotte's husband was delightfully surprised when at the top of this I nonchalantly said, "Oh, yeah, that's skiable."

But here's something that cheered me up:
Now, I can't take credit for this hack, but having my packs hanging rather than resting on the floor is awesome. I was a little taken aback by how small the Sea to Summit "accessory" biners were, though. I thought they would be normal sized but just not weight bearing.

And I have small hands, too!

On the horizon, I'm assisting my restorative teacher, Jillian Pransky, at her winter retreat at the Mohonk Mountain Lodge from February 21 to 23. The resort was recently closed for a possible norovirus outbreak – it's scheduled to reopen tomorrow, and hopefully everything will be squared away by the time we arrive!