Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Race Recap - Colonies Zone SCM Smackdown

This past weekend I swam in my third swim meet as an adult/masters swimmer.

Since my last meet I have been swimming 21,000-24,000 yards a week on six days while I slowly add in the running mileage (up to almost 40 mpw on six days). The series of workouts from Coach Brett have focused more on middle distance.

A sample workout is as follows:

1,000 warm up
1,000 for time
800 for time
500 for time
200 for time
100 for time
50 for time (rest as needed)
300 swim down

I steadily improved on the workouts over the five-six weeks since the Charlotte meet.

December 13-14 was the Colonies Zone SCM Smackdown at the Freedom Aquatic Center in Manassas, VA. I swam the same events as I did in the last meet (400, 200, 100, and 50 meters). My goal was to improve all of my times, particularly in the 400. Based on my times in the other events and my workouts, our goal was for me to go 6:10-6:15 (yes, for most swimmers this is still painfully slow). In the other events my goals were sub-3:00 in the 200, 1:20 in the 100, and sub-36 in the 50.



The meet did not start well. I only went a few tenths faster in the 400 and swam a lousy 6:37.33. I swam a faster pace for 500 yards in a workout. I felt my form fall apart by the midpoint and just hung on for dear life. I hate the feeling of being out of control and being slow:( About an hour later I rebounded in the 100 by swimming 1:21.00 despite feeling like I was swimming through mud the last 20 meters. Gave it my all for sure and swam almost two seconds faster than in Charlotte.

The next day I started with a decent 200 (3:00.92), knocking 3 seconds of my previous best. I will admit that I had hoped for faster. Earlier in the week I did a 200 yard interval all out in 2:40 (1:15, 1:25 (death the last 50!)) at the end of practice which is faster than what I raced. Grr!! The 50 was an hour later and although I won my heat by 2 seconds, I swam a touch slower than Charlotte, although comparatively the time is better than the others.

To sum up the meet, I came away with three PRs and a continued desire to improve. I need to learn to enjoy hitting PRs as they are rare these days in running. The process of improving my swim times is going to be slow and I need to be patient, something that is not one of my strengths.

Swim on,

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

In search of an online swimming log

Now that I am consistently training for swimming meets and have a training plan, I am in search of an online training log.



I want/need a few features:

1) An actual log where I can enter my yardage and not be forced to put in time (some calendars want total time, but when you are doing repeats there is rest between intervals that I do not want factored in when it spits out average pace per 100).

2) The ability to log meet results by event (SCY, SCM, LCM).

3) The ability to share my log with my coach.

4) The ability to post some workouts/races via email, Twitter, or this blog.

5) Charts illustrating training volume over time (weeks/months).

6) The ability to upload from a device (such as a Garmin) and enter activities manually.

7) A mobile app.

I currently use Training Peaks to log all running, swimming, and cross training activities, but it does not have the features that I want for swimming. I plan to keep using it for running since it is one of the ways that I communicate with my running coach.

I have been experimenting with a few other online logs, including Strava, but have not found one that meets my criteria yet.

I plan to continue searching/experimenting and post the results of the exercise on this blog.

Meanwhile, do you have a go to app for swimming? What features do you value the most in an online log?

Keep logging,

Saturday, November 29, 2014

I'm baaack! Race Report: Wrightsville Beach Turkey Trot


If you know me or read this blog you know that I had a partial meniscectomy in August. This was my first major layoff from running since I started over 20 years ago; counting the injury and recovery, I did not run for three months. Some good things came out of the down time (including rekindling a new love...competitive swimming), but I am glad that it is over.



On Thanksgiving I took the next step in my return to running. I ran a race! I have been back running since mid-September and have done a few tempo runs (around 6:40 pace average) and several hill workouts. My goal for the Wrightsville Beach Turkey Trot 5K were threefold:

1) Start controlled and finish strong
2) Be mentally tough when it starts to hurt (I have been focusing on that with swimming)
3) Enjoy being able to race again

Admittedly, I also had a time goal (sub-20:00) even though Coach Tom Clifford discouraged me from having one.

Thankfully I can report that I did all three (four).

It was a beautiful morning and 2,000 runners came out to participate. I went out in 6:30 pace per mile for the first 800 and picked it up each 800. I was surprised at how my body responded to each drive and it was exciting to finally have control of my body/legs/pace again.

Of course it hurt as races do towards the end, but I was pleased with how I responded mentally and physically. Swimming has clearly helped me in both departments.

I ended up taking the women's title in 18:56. I have not been that thankful after a race in a very long time.



Many people told me that time away from running would end up being a good thing. They were right. I did not enjoy the time, but they were right. The body is an amazing machine and with some hard work it can return better than before after a set-back.

The next four months will be an experiment in combining swimming and running while preparing for a 26.2 mile PR. Less running mileage than before, but I have become a believer that less can be more, especially when some of the pounding is replaced by non-impact aerobic training like swimming.

Be thankful,

Thursday, November 6, 2014

NETA 2014 Presentation - Using Twitter in the classroom

Earlier in the year my paper "Tweeting you way to improved #writing, #reflection, and #community" was published in the Journal of Economic Education. The paper discussed how I used Twitter to improve writing in my principles of macroeconomics course. Since then, several other economists have joined in the literature regarding using social media in the economics classroom. Data analysis regarding the effectiveness of the pedagogy remains sparse.

In an attempt to fill that void, Dr. Michael Enz and I collected data across three economics classes (two intermediate micro and one principles of macro) in an attempt to measure the effectiveness of the methods detailed in my work in my 2014 JEE article.

We are presenting some of the results from that data collection today at the National Economics Teaching Association's 10th Annual Economics Teaching Conference in San Diego.

The PowerPoint for the presentation is below.


Happy tweeting,

Friday, October 17, 2014

Big week! Mile repeats and meeting the Governor

Although I am currently on Fall Break, this week has been an exciting one.

Over the summer I was appointed to the Governor McAuliffe's Joint Advisory Board of Economists (JABE). We had our fall meeting October 15th in Richmond. What we discussed in the meeting is confidential, but I can share non-confidential items. JABE meets each October. In this meeting, each member of the Board presents their take on the current/future US/Virginia economy. The comments are discussed and used to set the state budget. Pretty big stuff. This year we met in the Patrick Henry Building in downtown Richmond. Once we were settled we were told that the Governor was going to give a press conference mid-day and that we would break our meeting to hear it. His comments can be found here. Governor McAuliffe joined us after the press conference for a few minutes. After he departed we resumed our closed session meeting until around 1:00 pm.

I left Richmond for Wilmington in a downpour, but made it safely to the River City by dinner. Thursday morning I attended my first Without Limits track practice since June. Not only did I attend, but I was able to do the scheduled workout, albeit at a pace appropriate for getting back into the swing of things. We were given progressive mile repeats on the track starting at 7:00/mile and cutting down 5-10 seconds per mile each repeat. Most people did five, but I was told to only do three. Our paces for the first two were 6:52, 6:45. Coach Tom told me that I could push the third one, but not much faster then the fastest pace of my progressive run the week before (6:20s). He of course added "Don't try to impress me yet"... a Tom Clifford regular. I ran perfectly even splits for a 6:10 without totally gassing myself. Success! After the workout we did strength training with weights and resistance bands.

During this post-surgery phase Coach Tom wants me to work on my form. There are three major issues that I am going to address.

1) I lean back, sit in a bucket. I need to run tall and keep my hips tucked in. Currently my drive phase is being minimized. If I run tall and over my hips I will drive forward and not apply the brakes with each step.

2) My right arm flies out to the side. I need to keep both arms tucked in. I am wasting a lot of energy and not prompting my knees to lift with my arm swing.

3) My torso rotates too much. I am expending a lot of energy twisting up top. I need to keep my upper body "quiet". Doing so will also promote the forward drive that I am hoping to accomplish in fixing problems 1 and 2.

Coach Tom showed me a slow motion video of the Boston 2013 elite woman at mile 24. Their from, especially Shalane Flanagan's, is on point. You can see the video with Flanagan here and a great article on running form analysis here.

Perfect form...at mile 24!

The rest of my Fall Break will be spent working on a research project (draft due at the end of the month), catching up with friends and family, and getting in miles in the pool and road.

A summary of my training since the last post is below:

Week #5
Four runs including a 20:00 run Wednesday with the last 10:00 progressive (I got down to the 620s thanks to the help of RVE teammates Steve and Ed), a total of two hours and fifteen minutes of running for the week; 23,050 yards including huge personal bests in the timed 1000 (15:55 vs. 16:58 from three weeks before) and 500 (7:29 vs. 7:54 from three weeks ago).

Week #6 (current)
On pace for five runs including the mile repeats on Thursday and an hour on Sunday for a total of three hours of running for the week; 23,150 yards in the pool including a break through on repeat 100s Tuesday (main set: 10 x 100 on 1:50 to be under 1:30, I went 1:26; 5 x 100 on 1:50 to be under 1:25, I went 1:18, 1:19, 1:19, 1:20, 1:21). For experienced swimmers this looks slow, but for me it was HUGE!! I hoping for some PRs in my swim meet next weekend.

Keep setting your goals high,

Friday, October 3, 2014

Getting a new pair of running shoes has never been so exciting

One consequence of being a marathon runner is the need to replace trainers frequently. Given that I did not run a step for three months, there was no need to replace my running shoes.

I started running September 9th and did two 20 minute runs that week. I noticed that my repaired knee was still uncomfortable running in minimalist trainers and that my trainers with more cushion were done. Each person is different, but I can tell when my shoes need to be replaced in my knees (perhaps because of the hilly terrain around Fincastle that gives the knees a workout.) My go-to "bulkier" trainers are the Brooks Adrenaline which I find are great for easy and long runs. My new pair arrived this week and have been taken on one 35:00 tour of Fincastle.


Usually ordering and getting new trainers is not this exciting, but the fact that I actually needed a new pair of shoes because I was RUNNING AGAIN was thrilling.

The return to running is progressing. After the first week, my dry land training has been as follows (currently running is a cross training activity for swimming:)):

Week #2: 25:00, 30:00, and 25:00 (with Sarah who I missed running with terribly!)
Week #3: 30:00, 30:00, and 45:00
Week #4 (current): 35:00, 35:00, and 50:00

The first run this week was the first run in which I felt normal. Coach Tom Clifford totally called this as he told me on Week #1 that I would feel awkward running until the early part of Week #4. I felt like a moose laboring up the hills until that 35:00 run in which I had a spring in my step. I felt much less moose-like. Swimming and AJing maintained my cardiovascular fitness, but my legs were not used to the impact that running entails.

Swimming has continued to come along as well. I have been hitting 20,000-25,000 yards a week and have my fast 100 yard repeats (on the 1:50) in the 1:20-1:23 range which is a big improvement for me. Thanks to Coach Brett Fonder for all of his help!

Enjoy the fall temperatures on your runs,

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I can run!

Last week was the first week that I could start running after my surgery. Coach Tom Clifford had three runs for me to do. Each were easy 20:00 runs.

The first (Tuesday) was so exciting. I was finally running again. My legs felt heavy and awkward, but there was no pain in the meniscus and my aerobic capacity was great. Throughout the day I did not experience any swelling or soreness.

I ran again on Friday morning and felt a bit more stiff and still quite heavy. When I finished running, my legs felt like they might give way when I finished, but my lungs/breathing were fine. My knee started to bother me throughout the day, but not where I had my procedure. There was a pinpoint pain where Dr. Moore had seen mild arthritis under the knee cap.

The knee was still bothering me on Sunday, so I bagged my third run. After talking to Coach Tom and thinking about what Dr. Moore told me to expect, I should have run. My knee is supposed to be a bit achy. There is scar tissue and my legs are not used to impact. Additionally, my muscle in the repaired leg has atrophied some, so my stabilizer muscles need building. It is something that I have to get through and stop being scared about.

I continued swimming and had my highest weekly total ever: over 21,000 yards!

This week I have three runs planed, getting up to 30:00. I will finally get to run with one of my favorite running buddies, Sarah Glenn. How I have missed our runs! I also have over 25,000 yards planned in the pool as I continue to improve my swim times.

Kirk YMCA, Roanoke, VA (becoming one of my second homes)

Have you had a surgical procedure on your knee? If so, what aches and pains did you experience as you started running again?

Until next week,