Sunday, February 27, 2011

A confidence boost

Today was an absolutely perfect day for running — well, at least it was between 7 and 9 a.m. — it's supposed to get up to 78 degrees later today, so I'm glad I'm finished. The temperature when I started running at 6:20 was about 45 degrees, rising to 55 by the end of the run. The plan was to do 16 miles, with the last 12 at marathon race pace, 8-minute miles. This would be the fastest I've ever run this distance.

Since I only had 4 miles to run before meeting up with the group, I decided to go iPod-less, and was rewarded with the songs of birds for the length of my solo outing, at an easy 9-minute pace.

I cruised back to our meeting point by 7, to be joined by Chad, Jeff, Chris, Terry, Tim, Matt, and Rodney. We agreed on a 12-mile route and headed out. I wanted to try to keep up with Matt, because I knew he was one of the faster runners in our group. After a couple of 7:40-ish miles, he asked if I wanted to slow down a bit, and I was glad to be accommodated. About 8 miles in, Matt and Tim started pulling away, and I joined up with Chris. On most DART runs, we stop every 4 miles or so to regroup, but Matt and Tim didn't seem interested in stopping. Finally at Mile 10 (Mile 6 for the group), we all took a break, mainly because Matt and Tim didn't know where we were going. I was still on pace, but some big hills were looming.

Matt, Tim and I headed off together up the hills and onto Shearer Road, where Chad joined us because we were about to pass the home of a notoriously aggressive unleashed dog. Fortunately the dog wasn't out that day, and we continued to push the pace up the hill. At about Mile 13, we made one last stop. The last few miles had some dramatic hills, and Matt and Tim headed down the first one at a very quick pace. I tried to stay with them, but my legs were sore and I let them build up a 20-yard lead.

We were at the bottom of a long hill, and Matt and Tim headed up the next hill, the biggest on our route. I thought I might be able to catch them, since I was familiar with this route. But familiarity doesn't equal fitness, and while I kept up a strong pace, they were faster. There was just over a mile left, mostly downhill, but I knew there was another hill between us and the finish. There was no hope of catching Matt and Tim, but I wanted to finish strong. About halfway up the final hill, I completed Mile 16 in 8:00 flat. I had finished my planned workout -- as it turned out, I averaged 7:51 over those last 12 miles, even faster than my goal pace! But I was spent, and decided to just jog it in for what turned out to be another 0.8 miles. Matt and Tim greeted me at the CVS, looking quite spent as well -- and they had only run 12.8.

Here's a graph of my splits for the day:

Overall I averaged an 8:12 pace, including the warm-up and cool-down miles. Not bad at all! After a week with basically no fast runs, it was great to see that I still have a bit of speed in me, and important to realize that I can run at race pace after over 2 hours of running.

Week in review:

6 runs
65 miles
3,202 feet elevation gain
534 feet average elevation gain

Although I didn't do any really long runs, three medium-length runs can still add up to a lot of mileage -- that's my second-longest week yet. Next week will be a bit of a break, with a long run of just 15 miles, and 57 total miles planned.

Details of today's workout are below.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Halfway there...

After tomorrow's run, I'll be halfway through my 18-week training program for the Big Sur Marathon.

As Mainers pointed out on his blog last Wednesday, this is one of those points in the training schedule where things feel a bit futile, but you're actually making major improvements. On Wednesday I ran 15 miles at an 8:38 pace, but on Friday, for 13 miles, I could only muster an 8:53 pace. Despite the wind, warmth, and hills on Friday, that feels like a bit of a letdown. But pushing through is still probably the best thing to do, and with any luck it will pay off big when I'm looking for a bit of extra mojo in Mile 22 at Big Sur.

Over these 9 weeks, I've only come short of my target mileage on two or three days. I haven't run my goal pace every day, but I've generally come close, only dropping off on the last couple miles, if at all. I've run farther and harder than I ever have in my life. I was probably a little faster when I was in college, but I've never put in anywhere close to the effort I'm expending right now. I'm pushing the limits of what my 44-year-old body can achieve.

After tomorrow's 16-miler, I'll have logged 500 miles training for Big Sur, averaging over 55 miles per week. This graph shows how well I've done relative to my weekly goals:

As you can see, I beat my weekly goal every week save two: The week of January 16 when we had a horrible ice storm and I was attending a professional conference, and last week, when I was extremely ill on the first scheduled running day. Overall, however, my goal was to run 494 miles over that period, so I beat it by six miles!

Today's run was an easy 7 miler, plus 6 X 100 meter strides. Davidson College's track is finally open again, so it was nice to be able to run the strides on a good rubberized track close to home. As always, the details are below.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Running in the wind

I read a race report for a Big Sur Marathon that took place on a day with very strong winds. Because it's a point to point race, that meant heading into the wind for almost the entire route. The runner did note one benefit of the situation: On downhill stretches, it made it easier to go all-out, because the wind acted as a braking force.

Today I got to simulate that on a small scale; I had a 13-mile run planned, and as it happened, it was a very windy day. I got a late start in order to avoid some morning rain, but after the rains ended, the wind rushed in almost immediately. Plus, it was my warmest day of running yet this year, around 65 degrees -- and the humidity made it feel worse. For just 13 miles, I figured carrying 16 ounces of Nuun would be plenty, but I hadn't taken into account how hot it was. Even though I was well hydrated at the start, by the end of the run, I wished I had brought about twice as much liquid along.

The first six miles were pretty easy; I was running at roughly an 8:45 pace. Then I decided to pick up the pace a bit: 8:26, 8:30, 8:25. That last mile, Mile 9, is when the wind really picked up. I was heading downhill, straight into a strong headwind. Just as I had read, the wind really did help me lean into the hill a bit more than I would normally do. But then things leveled out for a while, and running on the flat felt more like running uphill, so even this "easy" dowhnill leg wasn't any faster than the previous two. Then the big hills arrived: Miles 10 and 11 were 9-minute slogs; Mile 10 with the wind at my back, and Mile 11 into the wind. On Miles 12 and 13, comparatively flat, I struggled to maintain a 9-minute pace. I arrived home after 12.6 miles, so I jogged around the block to get my 13.

The verdict: I'd much rather be running in still air than in the wind. Even on an uphill segment with the wind at my back, it didn't help much, and the brief intervals where I was running downhill into the wind didn't make up for the overall increase in effort. I felt like I expended a lot more energy than I normally would have to complete a 13-mile run. I was absolutely drenched with sweat after the run. Even after drinking three 16-ounce glasses of water, I weighed three pounds less than I had the day before, which means, counting my 16 ounces of Nuun, I probably sweated away 7 pounds worth!

For the fastest recovery, most running guides suggest drinking enough water after a run to bring you back to your pre-run weight. Because some of this doesn't stay in your system, you may need to drink as much as 1.5 times the weight you sweat away in a workout. I spent much of the day drinking liquids, trying to restore some balance to my system.

I have a 16-miler planned for Sunday; here's hoping things cool off a bit and the wind dies down by then!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Why does running downhill cause more pain than running uphill?

I've heard many runners suggest that running downhill is harder on the legs than running uphill. But why? I almost always run faster when I'm going downhill. Running uphill is much more exhausting, which must mean the muscles are working harder, right? If I work my muscles harder, then that should cause more pain, right?

If I do an especially difficult weightlifting session, my muscles ache like the dickens the next day. In an easier workout, not so much. So working muscles harder, like on uphill segments, should be more painful. Yet that's not my experience in actual runs. If I run a few steep downhill segments early in a long run, I can often feel the soreness in my legs by the end of the run.

Biologist P.Z. Myers has a great post that might explain why. He volunteered to serve as a guinea-pig in a student's demonstration. The student had him do an easy weight-training session, spotting him on the lifts but letting him lower the weights on his own. The result: Tremendous pain!
The next morning, I tried to get up. Aaaaiaiaiaeeeaaargh. His experiment had been spectacularly successful, and I could barely move. Let me tell you, brushing my teeth that day was the most exquisite agony — just raising my hand to my mouth was bad enough, but wiggling my arm gently once I got it there? Forget about it.
As Myers explains, when you flex your muscles, all the muscle fibers work together. But when you allow your muscles to unflex in a controlled fashion, the fibers work differently. Individual muscle fibers can either contract or relax; there is no "inbetween." So in order to lower the weight in a controlled fashion, just some of the fibers contract — enough so that the weight doesn't plummet rapidly to the ground - or worse, crash down on some tender part of your body. The effect is very hard on your muscles; they try to contract, but you're allowing the force of the weight to stretch them out anyways.

The top-left image is a section of muscle before exercise; the bottom-left is just after exercise involving controlled lowering of a weight, and the bottom-right is one day later. Only after a couple weeks do the muscles start looking normal again (top-right).

I think this applies to running downhill as well: When you're running downhill, your body is like a weight that you're lowering over and over again with each step. Your muscles are being slowly shredded. So that's my hypothesis about why running downhill makes your legs so much more sore than running uphill.

If you're interested, details about today's workout are below.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My Toes, a Poem

This little piggy has a giant blister too deep to pop.
This little piggy has a scab under the toenail.
This little piggy's missing toenail is just starting to grow back.
This little piggy is somehow unscathed.
This little piggy is pretty much one big callus.

And that's just the left foot.

Sorry, I'm not much for rhyming.

In case you're interested, details of today's workout are below.

Monday, February 21, 2011

My training since September, revisited

I first posted these graphs on January 23. While the trend is still in the same direction, as you can see, there's a lot of variance. When you get up to really high mileages, missing just one day can throw off your whole week, as last week demonstrates. Also, my tempo pace lately hasn't been much better than it was last October. I'd chalk that up partly to injuries, and partly to just the difficulty of running fast and running long at the same time. In fact, for the coming week, I don't have any tempo runs scheduled at all -- just three medium-long runs and three recovery runs. That said, I don't think my speed is suffering: I set a PR in the 5K just a couple weeks ago.

So while the graphs told a very simple story a month ago, now they are starting to reveal the complexity of marathon training.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Another 20-miler

The plan for today was to run another 20-miler. I did 21 last week, and this week I was hoping to at least match last week's performance, while possibly evening out my splits a bit and running faster at the end of the run.

Like last week, I got up early and ran 6 miles before meeting up with the group at CVS. Like last week, I took these miles easy, roughly a 9-minute pace, knowing that the group likes to take things a little faster than my ideal 20-mile pace. With Chad and David at the Iron Horse 100 miler, and Ashley at Myrtle Beach, I knew it would be a small group, and just three runners were there to join me: Todd, Chris, and Jeremy.

Todd wanted to run 14, but Chris and Jeremy only needed 10, so we headed out on the hilly route towards Fisher Farm. I stayed with the group for the first couple miles, 8:12, 8:21, 8:14. Then I let them pull away, but maintained a fairly aggressive pace. It was a perfect, 40-degree morning and the sun was just beginning to peek over the hills, illuminating the clouds with soft purple tones. The was still a bit of frost on the ground in the low areas near the creek. A few walkers were out with their dogs, but otherwise, we had Fisher Farm to ourselves. We stopped to fuel up at the parking lot, then turned around and headed back down the hill towards home.

We ran roughly three miles on trails, and I was a bit worried about my tender knee, but made it through without incident, being especially careful on the downhill segments. This meant the others pulled away from me again quite quickly. Still, I was keeping a decent pace on the rough, hilly route -- 8:45-ish.

Things got even hillier when we returned to the roads for miles 13, 14, and 15, with over 300 feet of climbing. But I still managed to maintain an 8:45 pace. We arrived back in town at mile 15.76. Chris and Jeremy went home, but Todd was glad to join me for my final 4 mile loop. We took off at a brisk pace, and kept it up all the way to the finish. I ended up doing about 19.6 miles. It was a little short, but it was a very hilly route, with over 1,000 feet of climbing.

Unlike last week, there was no slowing down at the end. In fact, my last four miles were some of my fastest, so I'm quite happy with the workout. I've added this week's split times to the graph from last week so you can see the difference:

As you can see, starting at Mile 13 I really picked things up, just when I was beginning to fade last week. This week the average pace was 8:41, compared to 8:58 last week. What's more, I felt much better after today's run. Perhaps the lower mileage this past week had something to do with that, or perhaps I'm just beginning to become a stronger runner. Either way, I'm very pleased.

Week in Review:

5 runs (missed one run due to illness)
52.61 miles
2,306 feet elevation gain
577 feet average elevation gain

I tried to tone down the hills a bit this week to help my IT band recover, and that seems to have helped. Even after today's hilly run, my knee feels much better. Next week, I'm bumping up the overall mileage to 63 miles, but Sunday's long run will be just 16 miles.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Running naked

Okay, I wasn't exactly naked this morning, but it kind of felt that way. I was wearing shorts, a T-shirt, shoes and socks. But no Garmin—and that's what made me feel naked. My Garmin 305 GPS trainer has an annoying habit of getting knocked slightly off its cradle. When it does this, it stops recharging and starts draining the battery. Since the battery life of the 305 is something like 13 hours, it invariably means there's no juice for the next morning's run.

In the end it didn't matter much—it was a beautiful morning and I only had to do a 6-mile recovery run. I can still manually enter my mileage on the Garmin Connect site, to make it easier to track my total miles and so on. There are no splits, but for an easy recovery run, the splits are pretty much irrelevant anyways. If it happened before a big race or a more intense workout, it would be a lot more frustrating. But still....

Below you can see what a GPS summary looks like when there's no GPS there.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Rebuilding confidence

I started this week with a frustrating illness. On top of that, as I've tried to strengthen and stretch my IT band, the short term result is actually a bit more painful than doing nothing. I skipped Tuesday, clipped my Wednesday run short, did an easy (but tougher than scheduled) workout yesterday, and today I was supposed to run 14 miles?

Since I ran a little farther than scheduled yesterday, I decided to do two DART loops -- about 12.6 miles rather than 14. This way, I wouldn't have to carry a fuel belt; I could just stop after the first loop and refuel/rehydrate.

These medium-length runs are supposed to be run slower than race pace; the point is to get miles on the pavement and get used to running when you're tired. Still, since I've had a frustrating week, I wanted to get a strong run in. At the very least, I wanted to finish strong.

I started off at a comfortable 9-minute pace. Everything felt good, and I kept the pace up for the entire first loop, even on a fairly big hill at the end. I got home, used the restroom, drank 8 ounces of Nuun, ate 4 GU chomps, and headed out for Lap 2. It was a beautiful, warm morning -- about 50 degrees. I was wearing shorts and a short-sleeved shirt for the first time this year; I was beginning to get soaked with sweat.

I tried to gradually pick up the pace on Lap 2, and I was succeeding. Here are the splits for miles 7-10: 8:56, 8:45, 8:45, 8:25. Mile 11, mostly downhill, was even faster: 8:09. Now if I could just keep this up for the uphill finish. I was definitely starting to tire, but I managed an 8:25 pace for the last 1.7 miles, with a cumulative elevation gain of 113 feet. I'd say that's an equivalent effort, or even a stronger effort than an 8:09 downhill leg, so I'll take it.

A good run, confidence restored. Ready for another 20-miler on Sunday.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Some Thoughts about Boston

The Boston Marathon has always been a sort of holy grail among marathoners. A friend of mine once told me about a gifted athlete, a woman who had qualified to run in the US Olympic Trials Marathon. This put her in the top 200 marathoners in the nation. She apparently frequently gets asked "but have you run Boston?" -- as if being among the 10,000-plus women entered in that race was somehow a more impressive honor.

Still, outside of special competitions like national championships or the Olympics, Boston remains the only major marathon that requires the vast majority of entrants to meet a challenging qualifying standard. To get a BQ -- a Boston Qualifying time -- is an important goal for many avid runners.

So when this year's marathon filled up in just 8 hours, there was panic in the running community. Many talented runners, including some who had far surpassed their qualifying time, were left out of the mix. Had the qualifying standards become too easy? Some blamed lower qualifying standards for women, others blamed the growing number of tickets allocated to corporate sponsors and charities. But something would have to be done. It didn't make sense to have a qualifying standard for a race, and then have the race slots gobbled up like Justin Bieber tickets, going not to the best runners, but to the fastest and most persistent clickers on the online registration site.

What would the Boston Athletic Association (the BAA), who puts on the race each year, do to address the problem? Yesterday, we got our answer. Next year, registration will be in waves. The runners who beat their qualifying time by 20 minutes or more will be allowed to register first. They'll be followed after two days by runners beating their time by 10 minutes, and in another two days by those qualifying by 5 minutes or more. If there are any spots left after the first week, registration will be opened to all qualifiers, and the fastest runners relative to their age and gender group will be selected to fill out the pool. So effectively, you could run a BQ and not really qualify. In fact, if you BQ by just a few seconds, or possibly even by a few minutes, you almost certainly won't get a spot in the field.

The following year, for the 2013 marathon, they'll follow the same procedure, but with 5-minute faster* qualifying times across the board. Here are the 2013 qualifying times:

So, for example, as a 45-year-old in 2012, my qualifying time for the 2012 race will be 3:30. In 2013, that decreases to 3:25, but if I want to be assured of a spot in 2012, I'd better run at least a 3:25 anyways.

As it happens, my goal for the Big Sur Marathon is a 3:30. I didn't sign up for Big Sur with the intention of using it to qualify for Boston. In fact, Big Sur is such a challenging course that it would be a poor decision on my part to try to qualify there. But what if I do qualify at Big Sur, by the skin of my teeth? It would be awfully tempting to run another, easier marathon, to try to get a better time and improve my chances of getting into Boston. If not for the Boston mystique -- and the new registration procedure -- I'd probably just be content with my Big Sur accomplishment and take it easy over the summer. In the wake of the new registration procedure, I've even had fleeting thoughts of registering for another, easier marathon in mid-April to attempt a Boston Qualifier, then just run-walking Big Sur for fun, turning my months of preparation for that race into somewhat of a mockery.

Frustrating, isn't it?

Still, I think the BAA did about as well as could have in responding to this year's registration crisis. Though obviously it would have been better if they had thought of this a year ago, they were somewhat limited in what they could do. The 2012 qualifying standards had already been announced, so they couldn't very well go back on them. This method assures that the best runners, not the best computer-clickers, have the best shot at getting into the race.

Others, like 1968 Boston winner Amby Burfoot, have suggested scrapping the notion of a "BQ" altogether. Instead, he says the BAA should have all interested runners submit their times, then select the field of 20,000 qualifiers based on the best age- and gender-adjusted times.

I don't like this idea because a crucial part of marathon training is having a goal. Your training runs are all based on an eventual goal pace. A well-run marathon involves the discipline to stay at your goal pace even in the early miles of a race, when it would be easy to run faster. How do you train when your goal is "as fast as you can go"?

Where I do see a problem is if the new 2013 times still end up being too slow. What if more than 20,000 people meet these new qualifying times and want to register for the race? Then the BAA says it will select the best of those who don't beat the qualifying times by 5 minutes or more. That sounds an awful lot like Burfoot's plan. To avoid, this, the BAA should re-evaluate its qualifying standard each year, to make sure that the official BQ times actually guarantee you a slot in the race.

Oh, and if you're interested in my workout today, there's a summary below. I'm feeling much better, thank you very much!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Our tenuous condition

It started at about 3 o'clock Monday afternoon, just as I was finishing my post on IT band syndrome. My stomach just didn't feel right. The discomfort got worse and worse, until I finally felt the urge to...

...I'll spare you the details. Suffice it to say, over the next 24 hours, I became very familiar with the interior of my bathroom. There was no question I wouldn't be running on Tuesday morning: Walking or even sitting upright in a chair was nearly impossible. But almost as soon as my illness began, I could tell I would probably recover quickly. At 7 p.m. on Monday, I couldn't imagine eating anything. By 7 p.m. Tuesday I was consuming a huge plate of rice. When my alarm went off at 5:40 this morning I was a little woozy, but I actually felt pretty good.

I decided to do an abbreviated version of the run I had planned for the day. I was planning on 9 miles: Running into town, meeting the group for the DART loop, then running back home. Instead, I drove into town, taking 2.6 miles off the run.

Chad and Rodney were there. Chad was feeling under the weather too, so we thought we might take it a little easy. Then we cranked out a 7:47 first mile. Maybe not. The next three miles were 8:00, 7:47, and 8:05, so we weren't going to break any records, but we were moving along at a good clip. Mile 5, however, always seems to determine how well DART loop is going, and today was no exception: 8:20. I picked up the pace a bit on Mile 6 and and the final .3 miles: 7:53 and 7:33, but still, the overall pace of 7:57 was nothing to write home about.

It's amazing how quickly we can be humbled by an illness. If I have a similar stomach bug on the day of the Big Sur Marathon, I simply won't be able to compete, even if I put in two and a half months of solid training between now and then. I'll do everything I can to stay healthy for the race, but there are some things I just can't control. Such is our tenuous condition.

Monday, February 14, 2011

I probably have IT Band Syndrome. Now what?

A couple weeks back I discussed a possible injury to my knee. After investigating a little further and talking to some other runners, I'm fairly well convinced I have IT Band Friction Syndrome, or ITBFS.

But there's IT band, and there's IT band. One runner in our group, Marc Hirschfield, has been so gravely affected by IT band that he hasn't run since early January. Another, Jeremy Alsop, has been bothered by the condition for weeks, but that didn't stop him from running in a 50K ultrarunning event last weekend. I've had niggling tweaks, but not a lot of pain, and my running has hardly been affected at all. I'm setting PRs and running farther than ever. What's the difference?

It's probably just a matter of degree. According to this article, there are five grades of IT Band syndrome:
  • Grade 1: Pain does not occur during normal activity, but generalized pain is felt about 1 to 3 hours after sportspecific training has ended. Tenderness usually resolves within 24 hours without intervention.
  • Grade 2: Minimal pain is present towards the end of a training run; performance is not affected. Appropriate treatment may be necessary to prevent a Grade 3 injury.
  • Grade 3: Pain is present at an earlier onset of training, and interferes with the speed and duration of a training session. Treatment and training modification are necessary to prevent a Grade 3 injury from progressing to a Grade 4 injury.
  • Grade 4: Pain restricts training and is also noticeable during activities of daily living; the athlete can no longer continue sport-specific training. Low-impact training, such as swimming, running in a pool, and biking, can be implemented for cardiovascular fitness and aggressive musculoskeletal therapy can reduce the severity of the injury. The goal of therapy is to reduce inflammation and restore strength and flexibility of the hip and thigh musculature, allowing for the athlete to return to pain-free sport-specific training.
  • Grade 5: Pain interferes with training as well as activities of daily living. Aggressive therapy is required and surgery may be necessary.
I'm probably somewhere around Grade 2. Jeremy might be more like a Grade 3, and Marc is at least a Grade 4. I'm a little skeptical of the article I linked above, though. While it gives a good description of the condition, to my mind it's not very scientific in its analysis of the possible treatments. If you surf around the web, you'll see dozens of different stories about sure-fire treatments, many of which are mentioned in this article. It's possible that all of them are doing some good. But what really works and what represents wasted effort? For that, we need serious clinical research. 

I found one review of the clinical research on ITBFS here. Ellis, Hing, and Reid assessed all the research they could find on the topic, but only four studies were well-controlled enough to merit review. Each study looked at different approaches to treating the injury, and even in these cases, the control wasn't ideal. For the most part researchers assumed that stretching and massage should be part of the treatment, and generally just studied additional remedies beyond the basics. Few checked to see if the stretching and massage were actually doing any good. For the most part, the studies all worked the same way -- treat for a week or so, then put the runners on a treadmill and see how much pain they feel. All the studies were quite small, with a few dozen participants at most.

Here's what Ellis's team found: Anti-inflammatory medication and pain medication is good, and probably helps. A cortisone shot definitely helps in the case of acute, rapid-onset ITBFS but the evidence is less clear for chronic ITBFS. Immobilizing the knee does not help. And one study found that deep massage probably doesn't add any benefits beyond what is obtained from stretching exercises and ultrasound.

But ITBFS is complex. Does an anti-inflammatory without stretching help? How well would you do if you just rested a couple weeks with no treatment at all?

Based on what I see here, I will probably try to do some strengthening exercises. There's a good list of them here. I'll also do some stretching, as instructed here. For now, I'm not going to invest in a foam roller, although many people swear by them—given the lack of evidence that massage helps much, it sounds like it might be a fruitlessly painful experience. But if you're interested, here's a video explaining how to do that. I will probably continue to wear a knee brace most of the time, primarily to keep my knee warm while running. Unless things don't improve or start to get worse, that's about it. Keep your fingers crossed!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The longest run yet

Last night Greta and I went out for a nice dinner with old friends. Since I knew I had to get up early for my 21-miler today, I volunteered to be the designated driver. Over the course of our 2-hour meal I had perhaps 8 ounces of wine. My friends were intrigued with the idea of the run but weren't sure exactly what to do about it. Since I wasn't drinking much, should I be eating less, too? (Of course not, I'd be burning about 3,500 calories the next morning!)

Everyone was tremendously impressed with my plan, and seemed a little bit in awe that I would be able to manage such a feat. From my perspective, thousands of people finish marathons each week, and I didn't see it as a very big deal. On the other hand, billions of people don't run marathons, so maybe I should cut myself some slack.

I needed to do an early run because my daughter was planning what I considered to be a truly impressive achievement, playing a difficult bassoon prelude in front of hundreds at church. Now, that's something I can't imagine ever doing! That meant I need to complete my run and be back home by 10 a.m. at the latest, to give myself time to shower and get dressed for church.

The plan was to run 9-minute miles, which should take about 3 hours and 10 minutes, plus time for a few water breaks. In order to be sure I'd make it to church, I decided I'd be on the road by 6 a.m. I set my alarm for 5:40.

When I awoke, I ate a banana, drank about 20 ounces of water, and packed up what seemed like an inordinate amount of gear -- an iPod, 32 ounces of Nuun, 2 packs of GU chomps, 3 shirts, a jacket, headlamp, gloves, a towel, and a fuel belt. Then I got in the car and drove down to the usual DART meeting point at the CVS in downtown Davidson. I didn't expect anyone to be there because normally our Sunday run starts at 7. I'd run the 6.3 weekday loop and meet up with the group at 7. I drank a little Nuun, put on the headlamp and iPod, left my water belt in the car, and took off at a nice, easy pace, a little slower than 9-minute miles.

About 4.5 miles in I saw Ashley approaching from the opposite direction. She had arrived at around 6:30 and figured if anyone was out on the loop, she'd meet them. She turned around and ran back into town with me. Ashley is a gifted triathlete and it's usually all I can do to keep up with her. I knew I should keep to my 9-minute miles but it was nice to have company, so we cranked out a 7:50 mile on the way back into town.

There, we met up with 9 more runners: Chad, Tim, Matt, Terry, Chris, Jeff, David, Gabrielle, and a new member of the group, Amy. The plan was to run a 10-mile out-and-back route. Then I'd have 5 more miles on my own for a total of 21. I ate some GU chomps, drank some Nuun, and we got started. Once again, the group took off quickly, and I stayed with them for the next mile or so before backing off to an 8:30-ish pace. Still not as slow as I should have been taking it, but it felt quite comfortable. Around Mile 11, we reached the turnaround point and everyone stopped for a rest. I had more GU and Nuun, then stayed with  the group for a couple 8:30-ish miles before backing off once again. The return to town was a long, gradual uphill, and I was beginning to feel it. I ran with Gabrielle and Terry for a while, then left them both behind, running pretty close to 9-minute miles as I returned to town.

Back at the CVS, my Garmin said I'd finished 17 miles. Just 4 more to go. I was pretty sure these would be on my own. I finished off my GU, drank some more Nuun, and left my belt in the car. I had planned to wear my iPod and play some fast-paced music to get myself through these last few miles, but in the excitement, I forgot it. Everyone wished me well and gave me words of encouragement as I hit the road one last time. Chad said he'd wait for me at the coffee shop.

As I started off on the last bit, I realized it was going to be a lot tougher than the preceding 17. My legs felt okay except for an occasional twinge in my knee, and I wasn't out of breath, but I just felt worn out. In addition, I really needed to take a dump, but I didn't want to stop for fear I'd stiffen up. Mile 18 and 19  were respectable, roughly a 9:20 pace. But on Mile 20 I hit the steepest downhill section on the route, followed by a tough uphill. My legs were quite tender and I half-shuffled down the hill, fearful that I wouldn't have the strength to slow myself and would just tumble into a heap at the bottom. I made it down, and tried to maintain good form running up the next hill. But as I finished the mile, I saw that I'd slowed considerably: 10:06. I was determined to pick up the pace for the last mile, which still involved 63 feet of climbing. Somehow I managed a 9:37 before slowing to a dazed walk back at the CVS.

I had done it -- my longest run, ever, at an average pace of 8:58, my planned pace. I was happy that I didn't totally fade in the last couple of miles, and happy at the overall pace. Yes, ideally, I should have started slow and gradually picked up the pace over the entire run, but it would have been impossible to do that if I wanted to have any company at all along the run.

I felt like I should stretch my back, but I was worried that if I tried to lie down I wouldn't be able to get back up. I took off my jacket and compression shirt, toweled off, and put a long-sleeved cotton T on before heading into the coffee shop, where Chad, Ashley, and Amy were there to congratulate me.

I will post the link to the Garmin record of the run at the end of the post, but I thought it would be good to make a separate graph of my pace, without all the typical Garmin wobble. Here it is:

Other than miles 6-10 and 20 and 21, I kept quite close to the planned 9-minute pace. Yes, ideally the graph would slope gradually down from left to right, but I don't mind. For my first run ever over 20 miles, I'll take it. Plus, I made it to church in time to hear my daughter play a beautiful prelude, Beethoven's Menuetto in G-Flat, the most difficult piece she's ever played. Now that's an accomplishment!

Here's a summary of the week's progress:

6 runs
67.69 miles -- my most ever
3,231 feet elevation gain
539 feet average elevation gain

A tough week, with the most mileage I have planned for any week leading up to the Big Sur marathon. Things get a little easier this coming week, but only just. I still have a 20-miler planned for Sunday, and a total of 62 miles to log.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Still searching for a decent track

Today's workout called for 7 miles of General Aerobic running including 10 X 100 meter strides.

On Thursday evening I was at Davidson College and walked past their football stadium, where the track has been closed because workers have been resurfacing the field for the past couple months. It looked like it was finished, but in the darkness I couldn't see the far end of the track. But hurdles were set up for a workout on the back stretch. Surely this meant that the construction work was done.

So this morning I did an easy run of about 4 miles (General Aerobic is supposed to be somewhere between a normal long-run pace and a slow recovery pace), finishing up at the track, only to see workers and heavy equipment still swarming around the field. Argh! I decided to head down to the practice football field to do my strides there.

The turf was quite soft, and I was a little worried about getting injured, but I managed to crank out the strides without incident. Would have been much nicer on a solid, rubberized track, though. Maybe next week.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Running in the cold

Me with an ice beard after this morning's run
I'm fortunate to be training in a state where the winters are relatively mild. A "cold" morning here might be 20 degrees, where in a place like Chicago it could easily be below zero. Still, it took me several years to figure out what clothes work best on a cold day.

Lately, if it's been below about 45 degrees, I prefer to wear tights rather than shorts. I know some people think they look dorky, but they keep my legs warm, and warm legs are less likely to get injured. I haven't tried compression sleeves, which seem to be all the rage lately, and I know the folks who have tried them really seem to like them, but given that my knee has been a weak point lately, it seems unwise to leave the knees uncovered in the cold.

Up top, if it's below freezing, I wear a long-sleeved compression shirt. This does an amazing job not only keeping me warm but wicking sweat away from my body. It's now hard for me to believe that for years I ran in cotton T-shirts and sweatshirts, which get sopping wet and can end up literally freezing on very cold days. I top it off with a light jacket—I tend to run hot. On extremely cold days, below 20 degrees and/or windy, I add another layer, either a long-sleeved or short-sleeved T-shirt.

If it's above 25 or so, I wear my regular running cap; if it's colder I wear a beanie, and on really cold days I'll add a thermal headband to warm my ears. I have a love-hate relationship with gloves. My hands tend to run very hot or very cold. I've noticed that I'm generally the first person to remove my gloves as I warm up on a run; I've run for miles on sub-freezing days with no gloves at all. Today, when it was about 24 degrees out, for some reason my hands were very cold for most of the run, even with gloves on. I finally decided to just crank out an extra-fast uphill mile, and that warmed everything up nicely. I've also found that socks are important -- I'll wear thicker socks on colder days.

Today I was scheduled to run 11 miles, another long-ish midweek run. For me that's on the borderline for whether or not to carry a water belt. I decided not to; I hydrated well beforehand and ate a banana before I started. This week involves so many miles that I've decided not to push the pace on any one run; I just want to make sure I get the miles on the pavement. So once again, I shot for about a 9-minute pace. But today I was running the hill route, so it was really a more aggressive pace than I ran on Wednesday. I also decided to go without my knee brace; I wanted to test my knee out on some hard downhills. I was a little reluctant to go full-stride on the downhills, but overall the knee felt all right. I think I'm going to wear the brace tomorrow when I do a little speed work, and Sunday for the 21-miler. As I mentioned, I was a little cold for most of the run—I wonder if it was actually a bit colder out in the countryside than what my home thermometer reported. I could have done with an extra layer. But other than the one quick uphill mile I mentioned above, I basically maintained a steady 9-minute pace throughout—a little slower going up; a little faster going down. And with an overall elevation gain of 743 feet over those 11 miles, I got a good dose of hills in as well: That's the same elevation gain as on the still-hilly Wednesday run, but in 3 fewer miles.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A needed break

It was a lovely morning for a run, with a light dusting of snow covering everything but the pavement. I only needed to do a 5-mile recovery run today, and for that I was very thankful! My body feels a little beaten up, from the long run yesterday and still a little nagging soreness from Saturday's 5K.

Hopefully today's recovery run helped me do just that. Tomorrow it's back to the grind with 11 miles of hills.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Staying consistent

It wasn't long ago that I considered 14 miles to be an extremely long run. It's still a long run for me, but today for the first time, it was a part of my midweek schedule. Given how my run went on Sunday, I was aiming for a little more consistency today. I would start out slow, and only speed up at the end if I was still feeling good.

I was also trying a slightly different hydration plan. Instead of water, I carried 16 ounces of Nuun electrolyte drink. You prepare the drink by dropping a tablet in 16 ounces of water. Since I had two 8-ounce bottles, I broke the tablet in half and dropped one in each. Then it starts fizzing like an Alka-Selzer for about 2 minutes. This is a bit of a problem because it means you can't put the lid on your bottles until it is ready, and I was hoping to meet the DART bunch for coffee (well, tea, in my case) after they finished their 6 a.m. run and before I started mine. When the Nuun had finally dissolved, I headed down to Summit to meet the group, but no one was there. Chad told me later that he was the only one who showed up this morning, so he hadn't stuck around for coffee.

I drove back home and started my run from there. It was a chilly morning, about 25 degrees, and it didn't warm up much over the course of the run. My plan was to stick to 9-minute miles until I was nearly finished. After four miles at that pace I stopped at a public restroom, drank 8 ounces of Nuun, ate 4 GU chomps, and refilled the bottle with water. After running about a half a mile, I noticed that my Garmin had shut off. Were the batteries dead? I turned it back on and fortunately it was working, but I lost a bit of the run, and now my mile splits were coming up at odd times. I think maybe I had accidentally hit the lap/reset button when I restarted the Garmin after the break. But that wouldn't explain why it shut off. These are the sort of niggling things that start to bother you on a long run.

After another four miles at a 9-minute pace I ate the five remaining chomps and finished off my second bottle of Nuun. I was feeling pretty good, but frankly I was getting a little bored. Normally I run at least a part of my long runs with other people. I was listening to podcasts, but at this point I was starting on podcast #3, and I still had 6 miles to go. This stretch, on Shearer Road, was a long uphill climb, and I started picking up the pace just a bit in Mile 11. When I reached the top of the hill near the end of Mile 11, I stopped one last time, drank my water, then headed down Grey Road towards home. Mile 12 involved a steep-ish downhill and a major uphill, 103 vertical feet, and I tried to push the pace: 8:26. Mile 13 was downhill, and so I kept up my faster pace, 7:59. By mile 14 I was finally beginning to wear out, but kept up the pace for the last .56 uphill miles, an 8:38 pace. I was home, but at this point due to the earlier snafu, the Garmin only indicated a 13.65 mile run. I recorded the final lap time, then jogged around the block so that my digital record clearly indicated 14 miles.

A good training run. My legs never felt like they did on Sunday or on the Idiot run, where at a certain point they just shut down. I don't know if that's due to the electrolyte drink, or the fact that it was a little shorter than those runs. After all, I didn't really shut down on the Idiot run until Mile 16. I'll try drinking some more Nuun on Sunday for my 21-miler, and that should help me figure out if it's making a difference.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The start of a long week

This week involves a lot of mileage. I've got a total of 67 miles planned, including 14 tomorrow, 11 on Friday, and 21 on Sunday. Today I was still feeling a little sore from my 5K on Saturday, so I decided to take it easy on the planned DART tempo run.

Unfortunately I was running a little late and so I had to go a little quicker than I wanted on the 1.3 mile warm-up run into town, so instead of running 9-minute miles I did an 8:50 and an 8:20 pace. Then I met up with Chad, who is still taking things slow because of a stress fracture and tendonitis. We did roughly 8-minute miles for the first 4 miles of the tempo run, and then I decided to pick it up for the last 2 (actually about 1.6 miles). I did Mile 5 in 7:38 and the final .6 miles at roughly a 7:20 pace. Then I sat down with Chad and Marc for coffee before my run home.

On the run home, I could still feel soreness in my hips. But once again I did these miles fairly quickly, roughly an 8:20 pace. So instead of a tempo run with a warm-up and cool-down, I just ended up doing a medium-length run at an 8:07 overall pace. Tomorrow I've got 14 miles; my goal is simply to maintain a consistent pace throughout. I will start out slow, around 9 minute miles, then if I'm feeling good near the end I can pick things up, but if not I should still be able to complete the run without slowing down.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A 15-mile recovery

My original training plan didn't feature a 5K race yesterday; I was supposed to do an easy 5-mile recovery run. So I knew the 15-mile run I had planned for today wouldn't be easy.

But when I arrived at the CVS to meet my fellow DARTers, there was a big group, and everyone there was faster than me, and planning a shorter run that I was. I should probably have realized this right away and taken off slowly, but instead I got caught up in the moment and dashed off at an 8-minute pace. Under the best conditions, I can probably sustain that pace for 15 miles, but today wasn't the best conditions. In addition to having done a hard run the day before, I had forgotten my GU Chomps at home, so I had no food for the workout. After about 3 miles, Chad and I decided to slow down a bit and the other runners took off ahead of us. But we were still knocking off 8:10-8:20 miles.

After 8 miles, we returned to the CVS, Chad was done for the day, and the other group members weren't anywhere in sight -- as it turned out, they had taken a slightly different, longer route and weren't back yet. I decided to drive home to eat some Chomps, get my iPod, and run the last 7 on my own. Normally I would eat 4 Chomps — about 90 calories — every 4 miles. Today, I was only getting half of that. After running on my own for just a mile or two, I began to realize that the last half of the workout was going to be a lot harder than the first half. My hips were sore, probably from yesterday's hard run, and as I ran farther, both legs began to feel it as well. I tried to maintain the pace I'd been running earlier, but my legs just wouldn't cooperate. This graph of my pace probably tells the story of the workout better than words can:

By the end of the run, which I cut mercifully short at 14.47 miles, I was struggling forward at just an 11:00 pace. I finished, but it wasn't pretty.

Here's a summary of the week's progress:

6 runs
50.42 miles
2752 feet elevation gain
390 feet average elevation gain

As planned, this was a short-mileage week. Somehow I thought I was planning just 45 miles, but clearly I simply added wrong when I was planning the week— I executed all my runs, basically as planned. My knee is feeling much better. I also got a PR in the 5K distance, and although the long run wasn't great, I got it done. Next week, I've got some serious mileage planned—about 69 miles, including a 14-miler on Wednesday and a 21-miler on Sunday, my longest run yet.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Race Recap: UNCC Homecoming 5K

I'd been feeling like I'd been getting quite a bit faster lately, so I decided to test myself this week with a 5K race. I settled on the UNCC Homecoming 5K—after all, I am an alum (I got a Master's in English there about 7 years ago). The course turned out to be fairly challenging, with significant hills in every mile. It was a misty day, quite chilly, and it had been raining all day the previous day, so there were puddles all over the course.

I met fellow DARTer Mark Ippolito at the UNCC track where the race started, and we jogged a few laps before settling in at the starting line in the second row. We both had similar goals -- better than a 7-minute pace, and in a dream scenario, break 21 minutes for a 6:45 pace. We agreed to shoot for a 6:45 starting mile.

At the starting gun, everyone ran a lap around the track before heading out on the roads. Mark was about 10 yards ahead of me as we left the stadium. It seemed to me that he was running a bit faster than planned, so I wasn't worried. The first mile had rolling hills, which actually added up to a 122-foot vertical gain. Still, my Garmin logged a 6:32 mile, a little faster than planned. As usual in a race, my Garmin recorded a longer course than the actual mile markers, so I passed the official marker closer to 6:40. There was a clock at the mile marker, but it was broken. Sigh.

Mile 2 started with a quick downhill. I tried to cruise down the hill as quickly as possible and actually passed a couple of people. Then the rest of the mile was mostly uphill, and I worked on keeping good running form, with my head up, and eyes on the pavement about 5 yards ahead of me. I probably passed five or six people, but some other runners were staying close to me. Mark was still 10 to 20 yards ahead. The plan had been to run this mile in 7 minutes flat, but it was really a bigger hill than I thought it would be, a total of 140 feet of climbing, so I was happy when the Garmin gave a time of 7:13 for the mile. After combining the fast first mile and the slow second mile, I was right on my planned pace. Again, the official marker here was a little farther along, and again the timer was broken. I didn't look at my watch to see my time.

I was thinking of Mile 3 as a downhill leg, but the first third of a mile was uphill, and it wasn't a subtle climb. There was a total of 49 vertical feet of climbing in this mile. Finally we got to the downhill segment and I tried to pick up the pace. Mark was still 20 yards or so ahead, but I felt like I was slowly reeling him in. I passed a couple other runners on this section. Garmin recorded this mile as a 6:46. I don't remember passing the official Mile 3 marker. A 5K race is 3.1 miles, but my Garmin had it as 3.18, definitely within the margin of error, but still a bit frustrating, because in Garmin-land, I was on pace to run the race in 21 minutes flat. As it was, at 3.1 miles, we were running back into the stadium and still had over 100 meters to go. I was gaining on Mark, who was the only runner between me and the finish line. I heard a race volunteer say "this looks doable," so at least someone thought I could catch Mark. But as I went into an all-out sprint, Mark picked up the pace just enough to stay ahead of me as we crossed the finish line, one second apart.

My watch had me timed at 21:30 for 3.18 miles, for a 6:46 pace per mile. But officially this was a 5K race, 3.1 miles, not 3.18, so my pace was more like 6:55 per mile. This was still faster than my goal of 7-minute miles, but I didn't break 21 minutes.

Either way, 21:30 is a PR for me at the 5K distance, and the course was very hilly, so I'm quite satisfied with my finish. I'm also pleased that I was doing the passing during the final mile, instead of getting passed, as happened in my previous 5K.

The official results aren't posted yet, but I'll provide a link when they are. In the unofficial results, Mark finished 4th and I finished 5th in our age group, and we were something like 27th and 28th out of about 400 runners.

Update: Here are the results. I was 31st overall and 28th out of 189 men, with a chip time of 21:32, officially a 6:56 pace.

Epilogue: If you ever run a race and you're recording your progress on a Garmin, don't forget to reset your timer when you are done. Otherwise, you're likely to make the same mistake I did and accidentally press the start button while you're taking your jacket off. So my Garmin summary, which I'm posting below, looks a little goofy, with an extra ten seconds of me fumbling around with it 20 miles away from the actual race location. Also the elevation gain for the race is off because my house is at a different elevation from the race start. By my calculations, there was about 338 feet of elevation gain during the race, not 500 as the summary says.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Getting Ready

Tomorrow I'm going to be running the UNCC Homecoming 5K. I don't run a lot of races, but I do think it's important to get used to running in race conditions. There's definitely something different about a race compared to a training run. You push yourself just a little bit harder when you're competing against hundreds of other runners, even if most folks are just there to have fun or maybe get a PR.

At my last 5K, I was disappointed at my finish. I wasn't sure how much I could push things, so I eased off a bit and let two guys pass me; it turned out they were in my age division and if I had held them off, I would have placed second in my group. As it was, I was fourth by two seconds, and just eight seconds from a first-in-group finish.

This time I think I'll have a better feel for what I'm capable of at the end of a 5K. I still might not place -- that depends more on who shows up than how well I run -- but I think I can do better than last time.

My goal for tomorrow is to run at a 7-minute pace or better. That would be a time of about 21:45, compared to a 22:18 in my last 5K. Here's a map I made of the course. The plan is to start out at a 6:45 pace for the largely-flat first mile, then try to hold on for a 7-minute uphill second mile. The final mile is downhill, so it'd be great if I could run that at, say, a 6:30 pace, but even if I slow down to a 7:15 pace, I should still meet my goal. A dream finish would be under 21 minutes, which requires an average 6:45 pace.

Today I ran an easy 5.5 miles. As usual, GPS data below:

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Equipment change

Today I was testing out two new bits of equipment: A new compression shirt, and new insoles for my shoes. The plan was to run a 7 to 9 mile hill workout, depending on how I felt during the run. Normally I do a longer hill workout on Fridays, but I've got a 5K planned for Saturday and I didn't want to wear myself out too much in advance of that. So, despite the fact that I did a hard tempo run yesterday, off I went.

About 3 miles in I realized that I had forgotten to wear my knee brace. That's a much more dramatic equipment change, and I hadn't even even noticed. Needless to say, the knee wasn't bothering me, so I kept going. I was a little worried about the hard downhill stretches on this route; the insoles were supposed to help with that, but I wanted the extra support of the knee brace too. I took the downhill sections relatively easy, running about 8-minute pace on those sections. I felt okay, but I didn't want to push things with the full 9-mile hill workout, so I improvised a bit and ended up with an 8.15 mile hill workout, with a total of 491 feet of gain (compared to 670 for the full 9 miles). Tomorrow I'll run a 6 mile recovery run instead of 5, and I should be fresh for Saturday's 5K.

Although the knee feels great, I think I'm still going to wear the brace for the next week or so, just in case. It also helps to keep the knee warm, so that will be a good thing on days when I'm not wearing tights.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Warming up

While blizzards are raging across the midwest, somehow today we got a bit of a winter warm spell. But the weather reports were unclear as to exactly how warm it would be this morning, with estimates ranging from 40 to 54 degrees. My thermometer read 44 when I awoke this morning, which is a borderline temperature for me. Usually when it's above 40 degrees, I wear shorts and a long-sleeved shirt, but because my knee is still sore I wanted to keep it warm, so I opted for tights and a long-sleeved compression shirt.

The plan was to run nine miles -- 1.3 miles into town, a 6.3 mile tempo run with the DART folks, and 1.3 miles back home. When I arrived in town, Chad, Jeff, and Chris were there, and none of them was interested in running any faster than 8-minute miles. I was hoping for closer to a 7:30 pace, so I ended up taking off on my own pretty quickly. It was a damp, foggy morning and I was worried about my glasses fogging up like they did last week. However, I had bought some anti-fog solution and it seemed to be working well. Most of the fog was in the air, not my glasses. Miles 1, 2, and 3 were pretty quick: 7:40, 7:38, 7:25. But I was a little concerned because on last Tuesday's fast run, I pulled off mile 3 in 7:14, and I was feeling quite tired already. Miles 4 and 5 were okay: 7:50 and 7:53, on two hilly legs. But I was struggling. The combination of the humidity and being a little overdressed were causing me to overheat a bit. On Mile 6, I was just trying to hang on: 7:59. I finished a little stronger, a 7:25 pace for the last third of a mile. Overall, this works out to a 7:43 pace, a little slower than last Tuesday, despite the fact that I got a quicker start today. I faded more than I wanted to at the end.

The lesson: Do a better job dressing for the weather. Still, it was good to meet up with the group afterward for coffee, and I was still able to muster an easy jog back home. The Garmin summary of the whole run is below:

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Making strides

I've been treating my knee gingerly ever since it was injured a couple weeks ago, avoiding some speed workouts and running a bit slower than I might. But today I was scheduled to do 100-meter strides, and I decided I'd give it a shot.

The knee has been feeling better, and it's never been especially painful while I'm running, which is always a good sign. So I took off for an easy 8-miler, which would include about 2,000 meters worth of strides. I wanted to try out the track at our local high school, which I've only jogged around once. It's a great track, made of nice, springy rubber. Unfortunately, when I arrived at the school after a 4.5 mile warmup, the track was locked up. I decided to improvise and plotted out a course on a nearby greenway. Instead of running round and around, I'd run back and forth, like this:

Trust me, there's a greenway in there
I had to guesstimate the distance using the GPS. The course is longer than 100 meters because I cooled down and turned around between each stride. The knee felt good the whole time, but occasionally I felt a twinge in my glute in the other leg -- overcompensation? About halfway through I was tempted to quit early because it felt like I might be pressing my luck, but I decided to just dial it down slightly and finish the workout. I don't think I took it quite as fast as I have in the past, both because I wasn't on a track and because of the potential for reinjury, but still, it felt good to give the knee a serious test.

Let's try a new thing, embedding the Garmin data for the workout right in the post, below: