Saturday, October 06, 2007


Sub-2:00! I did not make my ambitious pace goal of 1:58, but this was as fast as I could cover the ground on a hot and disgustingly humid morning on a hilly course, and I am pleased with my time. The first five miles felt fabulous--my taper really worked. After that, it was a slog, with more heat and humidity than seemed bearable, and extra will-power required at several stages. Further details follow below.

(I had brunch afterwards with my training partner L., and then had to hustle straight to my 2pm swimming lesson, having fortunately realized around midnight last night that smooth scheduling today would depend on bringing swimming stuff with me and checking the bag at the race, since the brunch restaurant is only 10 blocks from the swim-lesson locale and there was not really enough time to stop at home between. I was a little worried about whether I would be functional for the lesson, but it worked out well, we worked on backstroke which is not rough on the legs...)

(Then I came home for literally about 25 minutes, had a quick shower--much needed by that point, swimming pool kind of washed away the sweat with chlorine!--and raced off to see a quite delightful new musical called Sherlock Holmes: The Early Years, part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival. I was tipped off to it by one of my correspondents, and I'm extremely glad I made the effort to get there, as it's quite hilarious--the book, the lyrics, the music, the acting, everything was great. I never see musicals, the conventions of musical theatre are quite bizarre in ways this show lovingly acknowledges...)

Sports-related content follows below.

Further thoughts re: the race:

I've been doing my weekly long run at a considerably slower pace since that half-marathon in early August, and I must say I think this kind of training strongly suits me. (Well, maybe it's just common sense and everyone trains like this--certainly it is rather orthodox in the good books about running training, nothing shocking here.) The fact that I took a minute off my last time though I've been running rather less suggests to me that I should keep up the long slow(ish) distance thing through the winter and not worry too much about speedwork. If I did some hill repeats every couple weeks, and a shortish tempo run each week, but keep all the long ones and some of the other short ones sort of 10:00 pace or even slower (since I am not quite iron-willed I find this difficult, easier just to run faster, but it can be leveraged externally by arranging to do a run with a friend who's slower), I think it will be good. I really want to raise my mileage--I think I still have not had a week over 25 miles, or maybe one or two weeks just over but not seriously--35 would be better, and not at all immoderate I think. But the constraints of triathlon training make this a bit daunting (swimming plans through the next couple months have me swimming five times a week for instance, and I must start having at least 3 weekly sessions on the bike!), and I'm still paranoid about injury--so keeping things slow will be good as I try and squeeze in some additional short runs during the week.

(Actually now I think about it, I can see it will be a real strain to get anywhere near 35 unless I cut back on other stuff. 10-12 for the weekly Saturday long one, add in a couple 3s to existing exercise sessions--like do 3 on the treadmill after working out with the trainer on Monday morning, and 3-4 more on Sunday post-conjectural but as yet unrealized bike ride--and a Tuesday 6 and a Thursday 5 still only makes 30, and that's optimistic. I shouldn't do a 12-mile run every week yet, much as I'd like to--this is better saved for when I'm a several-steps-more-experienced runner. Will mull this one over... maybe sticking with a consistent 25 will do me fine for now.)

The problem with doing those long slow runs is that I'm a much worse pacer now than when I was really concentrating on it over the summer! I ran too fast at the beginning, and it hurt me in the middle, though I pulled things together for the last couple miles for sure.

My mile splits were as follows, off the device (I do not have splits for the August race, because I forgot to check the battery on the pod, but my pacing was much more even--the terrain of course is quite uneven):

9:01, 9:04, 9:01, 8:56, 8:46, 9:12, 8:40, 9:23, 9:30, 9:03, 9:28, 8:43, 8:32 (plus a little bit at the end not worth counting). My actual running speed didn't change nearly as much as these numbers suggest, but I had to take some walk breaks in the last five miles.

Average pace: 9:05. But I have a feeling I could have shaved maybe 30 seconds off my total time if I had just done the first seven miles a hair slower...

(The urge to "build up" a time reserve by running fast in the beginning of a long race is exactly as misguided as the urge to "save calories for later" if you're keeping food intake low for weight loss--i.e. DO run slower at the beginning, DO eat food in the morning--another thought I was pondering as I ran, there is a lot of time to think out there!)

Finally, rest. I had significantly better sleep this week--or more of it at any rate--than I did the week of the Nike half. I could always use more, but I actually slept eleven hours on Thursday night and then took Friday pretty much totally off. Slept maybe six hours last night too, which is very decent. Obviously it makes a great physical difference--in the Nike race, I was laboring right from the start, my HR went up to the low 170s right away and I couldn't get it back into the 160s except very briefly. Today, solidly in 160s (upper 160s, but that's the heat...) until mile 10 or so when I definitively tipped over into the 170s.

(Hmmm, top HR late in the race was 188, that certainly gives me a number I can use as official max, at the end I was running so hard I was practically hyperventilating--avg. HR 184 in final quarter of a mile.)

But the real thing sleep does for you is restore willpower. Cumulative tiredness of the kind that results from multiple weeks of neglecting sleep erodes willpower, and the thing you need to meet your goal for a race like this is to be able to say at whatever moment(s) things seem most difficult (I definitely had a moment of this around mile eleven point something, where I thought, "Goodness I do feel mildly queasy, and it is hot, and I am awfully tempted just to walk the rest of the way, it would be entirely understandable") OH, NO, OF COURSE I AM CONTINUING, I WOULD NOT THINK ABOUT STOPPING! And it is a lot easier to say this, and more plausible that one can utter the words with conviction, if one has had some rest.

(I used up about six months' worth of stamina in the last week of working on my tenure materials and book manuscript at the beginning of September--I will just confess it, though it is mildly inappropriate, but I was working about as hard as is humanly possible, culminating in a Mon.-Tues-Wed.-Thurs. night stretch where I don't think I slept more than three and a half hours each night--you know, where you get up at 5 so that you can write for a couple hours before sorting out notes for your nine o'clock lecture. It was brutal, and I hope not to submit myself to that discipline again soon--on the other hand, there was something perversely comforting about it, it reminded me of many a time before in my life when I have worked in exactly this way! But I am striving for better balance, it is my goal to be a calm and non-workaholic person who takes things easy ... [!])


  1. Congratulations!!! No longer an aspirational club! w00t!

    The benefits of proper sleep cannot be understated, as sleep is a restorative process for both mind and body.

    On another note: as you know overtraining brings with it (sometimes unforseeen) problems.

    Perhaps if you were to make up your training and competition plan for next year as someone training for triathlons rather than someone training for distance running and triathlons, it might make things a bit easier.

  2. Congratulations on making your time!

  3. Hi Jenny, I just came across your blog and really appreciate your insights about your running and progress toward your goals. I look forward to reading you more often.