Sunday, August 17, 2014

Cross training week #6: Swim test and paces

My knee continues to improve overall, although after my workout on Tuesday/Wednesday I had a bit of a set back. I discuss the workout below, but afterwards my knee swelled noticeably and was uncomfortable walking/going up and down stairs, etc. I took Thursday completely off other than some stretching-focused yoga. Friday my leg was much improved and by the weekend it felt better than at the beginning of the week: a week-over-week improvement. Dr. Moore told me to expect some periods of swelling and soreness as I get back into things, but it was nonetheless worrisome.

The day off did give me plenty of time to work on my Papua New Guinea project. I spent several days working with a file covering detailed questions on perceptions of security. The focus of our report is gender differentials, and there were substantial disparities regarding fears of particular crimes. For example, women are considerably more concerned about walking at night and walking to the market, which could perpetuate labor market and income differentials between the genders. Disputes are more common in rural areas, particularly land and water disputes. Women are considerably more likely to seek help for theft in urban areas, suggesting they feel more comfortable with authorities in cities. Could this mean that there are more possibilities for equality in urban settings? What do you think? 

My training week was as follows (the paces will make sense after reading about the 200/800 test at the end):
MONDAY - AJ 54:00 w/ 3 sets of 5 x 1:30 hard, :30 easy; swimming 3,400 yds. w/
300 pull
400 kick
400 paddles/fins
4x100 (25 hard, 25 easy, repeat)
200 pull
4x50 (25 hard, 25 easy)
200 pull
8x25 hard
200 pull
400 kick (fins)
400 back (fins)
100 cool down

TUESDAY - swimming 4,000 yds w/ 200/800 test

WEDNESDAY - AJ 62:00 w/ 3 sets of 4 x 2:30, :30 rests


FRIDAY - AJ 66:00 w/ 3 x 1/2/3/2/1 sets, 1:00 rest; swimming 2,600 yds. w/
Warm Up
200 choice @V2, 20RAS
2 x 100 @V3, 15RPS, 30RAS
4 x 50 as 25 kick/25 swim @VM Effort
Main Set
6 x 100 @V4, 20RPS, 60RAS
600 Start @V2 & build to V4 effort, 60RAS
Cool Down
200 kick @VM effort, 20RAS
4 (2 x 25) kick-swim @VM, 20RPS, 30RAS
400 swim with paddles and fins @VE

SATURDAY - swimming 3,500 yds. w/
400 choice @V2, 30RAS @6:52, did 6:39 (still figuring pace out)
200 drills @VE, 30RAS
8 x 50
- odds (15 m kick/35 m build swim)
- even (35 m easy15 m build swim)
Main Set
1 x 600 @V3, 60RAS @10:21, did 9:54
3 x 200 @V4, 20RAS @3:14.3, did 3:18, 3:15, 3:17
6 x 100 @V4, 10RPS /50 free @V5, 15RPS @1:35.8/42.8, did 1:36, :46, 1:35, :44, 1:33, :44, 1:35, :44, 1:34, :44, 1:35, :44
Cool Down
400 swim/drill mix @VE effort (used fins/paddles, 6:31)

Upper and lower body lifting (TRX, med ball, etc)

SUNDAY - AJ 71:00 w/ 6 x 5:00, 1:00 rests, 10x:45, :45 rest; 60:00 deep tissue massage

WEEK TOTALS: 253 minutes AJ, 13,500 yds (3,375 per swim)

The 200/800 test was an exciting challenge: swim 200 yds. hard, 1:00 rest, swim 800 yds. hard. The purposes of the test were 1) determine my paces for various workouts, 2) find my strengths/weaknesses. As far as training paces, it is similar in function to finding your VDOT when using a Daniels training plan. I recently purchased a Garmin swim watch, so I did not need to worry about recording the distance/time. I did the 200 in 3:00 and the 800 in 13:21. The time differential per 100 yds. is about 11% suggesting that my endurance needs work. Looks like I will be doing a lot more longer reps:) Without showing how paces for my workouts are calculated (coach's secret), here are some of my paces for workouts:

Another week down,

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Cross training week #5

This was my first week after the meniscectomy that I could really get after it in training. My knee continues to improve each day. I note each tiny advance...I can bend my knee a bit more, I can push off of the wall harder, etc. I spent the week working back into aqua jogging, swimming, and research.

My training week look like this:
40:00 AJ w/ 2 sets of 5x1:30 hard, :30 easy and 2:00 between sets;
400 pull
150 kick
400 pull/paddles
50 kick
50 swim
400 pull
50 kick
Total: 1500 yds

40:00 AJ w/ 2 sets of 4 x 2:30 hard, :30 easy and 2:00 between sets
200 swim
100 kick

3x200 build
1x200 75% effort
2x200 neg split
1x200 85%
1x200 DPS
1x200 100%

100 back

45:00 swim (2600 yds)

4x50 drill, swim
4x25 build

100 moderate pace
200 fins/paddles
300 (50easy/50hard, repeat)
400 form
300 (50easy/50hard, repeat)
200 fins/paddles
100 @1:45

100 easy
Total: 3000 yds.

66:00 AJ w/ 3 sets 1:00 hard, 1:00 easy, 2:00 hard, 1:00 easy, 3:00 hard, 1:00 easy, back down
500 fins
400 kick medley w/ fins
300 pull with paddles
200 descending
5x100 on 2:00 (1:35-1:40)
4x25 sprint
8x50 drill
100 easy
Total: 2500 yds

52:00 AJ w/ 4 x 5:00 hard, 1:00 easy between; 6 x :45 sprint with :45 easy

100 easy
200 75 easy/25 hard x 2
300 paddles
400 50 easy/50 hard x 4
500 fins/paddles
400 100 hard/100 easy x 2
300 bilateral breathing
200 25 easy/75 hard x 2
100 for time
100 easy
Total 3062 yds (done in metered pool)

AJ: 198 minutes
Swimming: 15,462 yds

On Friday I had my last post-surgical appointment. Dr. Moore said that he had seen few cases with less swelling one week after procedure. I told him that I though aqua jogging was really helping. Anyone getting a similar procedure should consider the aqua jogging program that I have detailed. It is from my coach Tom Clifford who adopted it from Layne Schwier, UNCW coach.

I am feeling the heat of a research deadline as well. Yana Rodgers and I are nearing the conclusion of our report for the ADB.

I did venture out in public this week as well, after watching two full seasons of "House of Cards."

Keep training,

Monday, August 4, 2014

Surgery and recovery

Last Wednesday I had a partial meniscectomy of my right leg. That Monday I had a pre-op visit with my orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Robert M. Moore (Moore Orthopaedics). The only sad news to come out of the visit was that I was not going to be able to eat after 12:00 am Wednesday morning.

I carried on with my cross-training and research Monday and Tuesday. Monday also marked my first organized swim practice since I was 18 years old. I went to a Without Limits swim practice lead by Kristen Smith at the YWCA. It was a blast. Going into it I was nervous, but everyone was so welcoming that the nerves left as soon as we started the warm up.

The morning of the procedure I attended my second WOL swim practice...who knew when I would get to attend another?! I checked in at noon for my 2:00 pm procedure at Cape Fear Hospital. From the moment I entered until I groggily left, the staff was fantastic. Each person I interacted with made me feel at ease and prepared me for each step of the procedure. I can not emphasize how impressed and satisfied I am with both the care I received at both the Cape Fear Hospital and Moore Orthopaedics.

I remember being wheeled into the room for the procedure around 2 pm, but then it was lights OUT! I woke up in Recovery 1 with my leg in a brace about an hour later. I felt a bit groggy, but was quickly sound enough to move to Recovery 2. From there I was brought home and spent most of the next two days on my mother's couch reading "The Devil in the White City" by Erik Larson and napping.

Day 1 post-surgery 
Friday I went to see Dr. Moore's for my first post-op visit. My brace and stitches were removed. I was surprised at the lack of swelling in my knee. Dr. Moore was also pleased and told me that I could return to the pool Monday. He emphasized the importance of working on getting my mobility back in my knee.
Day 2 post-surgery: Stitches and brace just removed
My mobility improved over the weekend as my love of "House of Cards" became an obsession. I had never watched the series, but had ample time on my hands to get fully engrossed. Now I completely understand the Frank Underwood references that I read/hear. Wow!
Day 3/4 post-surgery: swelling continues to go down
I get to swim for the first time on Monday and go for the second post-op appointment with Dr. Moore on Friday.

The small amount of cross training that I got in earlier in the week is as follows:

Monday - WOL swim practice
400 yds easy
3 x 100 drill (10/10 and one arm)
6 x 25 (odd swim fast, even kick fast)

10 x 100 best average @ 2:30 (I averaged 1:32/33 which was a HUGE surprise for me)

100 free

AJ in the ICW - avoiding a big storm I got in 2 sets of 5 x 1:30 hard, :30 recovery

Tuesday - AJ 60:00 (3 sets of 4 x 2:30 hard, :30 easy, plus warm up and cool down), then swim

200 pull
200 kick

5 x 100 - 25 Sprint with Fist, 75 EZ (base +:10)
1 x 300 - Exaggerated Kick every 3rd 25 (:30 SR)
5 x 100 - 75 EZ, 25 Sprint (base +:10)
3 x 100 - 50 Sprint with Fist, 50 EZ (base +:10)
1 x 300 - Exaggerated Kick every 3rd 25 (:30 SR)
3 x 100 - 50 EZ, 50 Sprint (base +:10)
1 x 100 - 75 Sprint with Fist, 25 EZ (base +:10)
1 x 300 - Exaggerated Kick every 3rd 25 (:30 SR)
1 x 100 - 25 EZ, 75 Sprint (base +:10)

200 free

Wednesday - WOL swim practice
600 (2 x (200 swim, 100 kick) with fins)
6x50 (even DPS, odd tarzan(25) & 10/10 (25))

8x25 1-4 rt paddle, 5-8 lt paddle on :35
6x75 25 underwater kick, 25 easy, 25 fast) on 1:30
4x200 100 paddles & buoy, :15 rest, 50 hard, :10 rest, 50 hard on 4:30

100 easy

Sunday - 60:00 yoga and strength

100 minutes AJ
7700 yds Swim
60 minutes yoga/strength

Treading water is the same as drowning for people like you and me,

Monday, July 28, 2014

Research, cross training week #3, and arthroscopic partial meniscectomy-eve

This week was a mix of search committee meetings, research, the pool, the pool, and the pool.

I will wait until the search is over to say more about it, but it was a productive week for the Papua New Guinea project with Yana Rodgers. We are on our second draft after getting comments from the Asian Development Bank. There are some fascinating gender differentials, including the following:

Health expenditures include those for hospitalizations, other health care services, and medications. We look at household health expenditures by national household expenditure (proxy for household income) quintile. The population is split by urban status and gender of the head of household. The bars in each graph illustrate the mean health expenditure (measured in the local currency, kina) while the lines represent health expenditures as a share of total expenditures. In urban areas, male headed households spend more on health care, particularly in the upper quintile. Female headed households are more likely to have a single head of household and less likely to be living with an adult male and be employed for wages. Access to health care by rural households is particularly challenging due to deteriorating infrastructure. We plan to use more powerful statistical approaches to analyze the gender disparities further, but the summary statistics are compelling. What do you see when looking at the charts?

I have continued my cross training. The week looked like this:

Monday - aqua jog (AJ) 2 sets of 6 x 1:30 very hard, 30s rest, 2:00 between sets (46 minutes total); swim 3,000 yds :
300 pull 
10 x 50 odds kick, evens stroke (choice) on 1:00 
200 pull

6 x 50 free on 1:00 
100 back active recovery
200 paddle and buoy
4 x 50 free on 1:00
100 back active recovery
300 paddle and buoy
2 x 50 free on 1:00
100 back active recovery
400 paddle and buoy

100 free kick, 100 back 

Tuesday - AJ 2 sets of 5 x 2:30 very hard, 30s easy recovery, 2:00 between sets (52 minutes total); swim 2,000 yds:
500 easy
400 kick
300 pull
200 progressive
5x100 on 2:00 (hit 1:38-1:40 for each)
100 cool down

Wednesday - 50:00 straight swim (2800 yds.)

Thursday - 1:00 strength session with Coach Carl Blickle 

Friday - AJ ladder with Carmen Graves (1:16:00 total time)
3 sets (14 minute sets)
1 min easy
1 min easy
1 min easy
1 min easy
1 min VERY HARD 
1 min easy

2-3 minute float in between sets

Swim 3,300 yds:
400  (pull , kick)

3x300 (1 hard, 2 moderate, 3 hard)
3x150 active recovery (buoy, paddles)
3x200 (1 hard, 2 moderate, 3 hard)
3x100 active recovery (buoy, paddles)
3x100 (1 hard, 2 moderate, 3 hard)
1x150 active recovery (buoy, paddles)


Saturday - 50 minute yoga session

Sunday - AJ 4 x 5 minutes HARD, 1 min rest in between each, end with 5 x 45s all out with 45s easy (52 minutes total); swim 3,500 yds:

200 pull, 200 kick

500 DPS
3x200 descending
400 DPS
3x150 descending
300 DPS
3x100 descending
200 DPS
3 x 50 descending

200 yds

226 minutes aqua jogging
110 minutes strength, yoga
14,600 yards swimming

This is the last week before my procedure. I have a pre-op appointment on Monday and the procedure Wednesday afternoon. I plan to go to two Without Limits swim practices (my first swim practices since I was 18 years old!) early in the week. Who knows when I will be able to get into the pool after the procedure. I will keep you updated.

Your aqua-beast,

Sunday, July 20, 2014

MRI results and cross training week #2

Tuesday morning I had an MRI of my right knee and spoke with my orthopedic surgeon about the results the following morning. I have an oblique tear in the non-vascular (white zone) section of my right meniscus. We decided that given the tear will not heal on its own and it causes so much pain that I will be best served by having a meniscectomy. The procedure is scheduled for July 30th. The care that I have received thus far has been phenomenal so I am confident that the procedure will be a success. If recovery goes well I will be running again by October.

Image downloaded from 
Meanwhile I have continued my cross training in the pool. I am still really enjoying the training plan, so not being able to run has been bearable. For the aquajogging sessions I clip my ipod to a baseball cap for some tunes (idea from running buddy Christa Iammarino) and I purchased a waterproof mp3 player for longer swims. The FINIS product must be one of the greatest items EVER! I have been using it for a week and love it. No earplugs people...this little gem transmits the sound through your cheekbone.

My training week looked like this:
Monday - 54 minutes aquajog with warm up, 3 sets of 5 x 1:30 hard, :30 easy, 2:00 easy between sets, cool down; 3,000 yd swim (300 warmup before aquajog,(Aquajog), 300 pull, 400 kick, 300 pull, 4x200 on 4:00 (3:30 down to 3:19), 100 back drill,100 back swim, 6x25 back hard on :45, 350 paddles/buoy, 200 cool down)

Tuesday - 60 minutes aquajog with warm up, 3 sets of 4 x 2:30 with :30 easy, 2:00 easy between sets, cool down; 2000 yds easy swim (500 easy warmup, 400 kick, 300 pull, 200 free build, 5 x 100 free, 100 back cooldown)

Wednesday - 50 minute continuous swim (2800 yds.)

Thursday - 45 minutes of strength and stretch

Friday - 64 minutes aquajog (3 sets of 1:00 hard, 1:00 easy, 2:00 hard, 1:00 easy, 3:00 hard, 1:00 easy, 2:00 hard, 1:00 easy, 1:00 hard, 2 minutes recovery between sets); 3100 yds swim (250 free, 5x100 on 2:00, 250 recovery, 50 kick, 200 free, 4x100 on 2:00, 200 free recovery, 50 kick, 150 free, 3x100 on 2:00, 150 free recovery, 50 kick, 100 free, 2x100 on 2:00, 100 free recovery, 50 kick, 100 back cool down)

Saturday - 56 minutes aquajog (warm up, 4 x 5:00 hard with 1:00 easy between, 6 x :45 sec very hard with 1:15 easy between, cool down); 2000 yds (400 bouy, 400 kick, 300 paddle/buoy, 300 kick, 200 paddle/buoy, 200 kick, 200 paddle/buoy)

Sunday - stretch focus

The days that I am in the pool, I am working out for 2+ hours so I have started bringing nutrition with me. The best stuff has been Hammer Gel and Heed during the workout and Recoverite afterwards.

Another week down!

What is your favorite pool workout?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A new challenge

Given that I am almost 40 years old and have been running competitively for over half of my life, I am, in part, lucky to never have suffered a running injury...until now. Genetics and my marathon shuffle (low impact) likely played a part in my great "run" of being injury-free, but the streak is OVER.

I started having tightness/soreness on the inside of my right knee-area and directly under the knee cap in April. I originally thought that it was some form of tendinitis as the discomfort would disappear after I warmed up. I did a workout on winding trails in June. During the workout I did not feel a thing, but later that day the discomfort was worse than normal. I picked up my icing sessions, but the discomfort continued to worsen. By late June I realized that I needed to take time off.

I took two weeks of no running. The knee felt much better so I tried a run. I made it less than a mile. Uh-oh.

This week I went to an orthopedist. He took some X-rays and ruled out bone and arthritis issues. The most likely candidates now include a meniscus tear, which I will need an MRI to determine. I am hoping to get in next week for the imaging and back to the doctor for an analysis of the results.

I was initially very upset about being "for real" hurt, imagined every worst case scenario possible, and was absurdly weepy. This response was of course ridiculous and inefficient. Reason #100021 to have a good coach. Coach Clifford challenged me to embrace the forced time off as a time to work on my form and take a mental break from running. Additionally he gave me an aquatic plan that should allow me to maintain my fitness. Challenge taken.

I am about to complete my first week of cross training and I have no doubt that I will be an aqua-beast by the time I return to running. I was in France for the first few days of the week (without a pool), so the week looked like this:

Monday: 30 minutes stationary bike, 30 minutes strength and balance training; plenty of walking around France (shopping!!)

Tuesday: 30 minutes stationary bike, 30 minutes strength and balance training; travel back to the US

Wednesday: 2400 yds. (500 free warm up, 400 kick, 300 pull, 200 build, 5 x 100, 500 free cool down); got some stroke tips from Coach Tom

Thursday: 20 minutes stationary bike, 50 minutes strength and balance training (pool closed due to thunder); aquajog in the ICW (10 min. warm up, 2 sets of 5 x 1:30 hard with :30 rest (2-3 minutes between sets), 10 min. cool down)

Friday:  300 free warm up, aquajog workout (5 minutes warm up, 2 sets of 14 minutes (1 hard, 1 easy, 2 hard, 1 easy, 3 hard, 1 easy, then back down), 10 minute cool down), 300 pull, 2x50 on 1:00, 2x100 on 2:00, 2x150 on 3:00, 1x200 on 4:00, then back down, 200 back alternating kick and pull, 100 cool down for a total swim of 2500 yds.

Saturday: 500 free warm up, 400 kick, 300 pull, aquajog workout (3 minutes easy, 4 x 5:00 hard with 1:00 easy between, 3:00 easy, 5 x :45 very hard on 2:00, 10:00 cool down), 300 pull, 5x100 with paddles and alternating with buoy, 200 back alternating kick and swim, 4 x 50 free hard on 1:00, 100 cool down for a swim total of 2500 yds.

Sunday: A scheduled day off from the pool with 45:00 of yoga/stretching/balance/strength

Total swimming: 7,400 yards
Total aquajogging: 2:21:00
Total strength/balance: 2:35:00
Total bike: 1:20:00

Whew. Bring it on! My hopes are still alive for running Cal International Marathon in December.

Until next week,

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Update, update, update

It has been a while since I actually typed up a detailed blog entry, so this is a stab at updating my running, research, etc.

This has been a productive spring/summer on the research front. Other than the reports for IPOR, I have primarily focused on a project with my former professor and now running buddy and friend Yana Rodgers (Rutgers University). We were contracted by the Asian Development Bank to analyze the Household Income and Expenditure Survey from Papua New Guinea. In particular we are looking for evidence of gender differences across items including health status, employment, disputes, and assets. Without disclosing details we have found some substantial differences in some areas. We submitted our first draft to the ADB this week, which was a milestone for such a large project. I am reminded through this process how much more enjoyable it is to co-author work with a diligent, and intelligent friend.

This area of my life has been odd. I focused on shorter distances (1500-5000 meters) this spring because I needed a break from marathon training and was looking for a challenge. The exciting part was that I consistently hit paces on intervals that I have never run before. The addition of hitting the weight room several times a week certainly played a part. It was a relief to know that at 39 years young I can run faster than ever over 200-800 meter intervals. The frustrating part was that after some great races in February, including an indoor 3,000 PR, my races did not reflect my training. Perhaps I relied too much on my marathon base from the fall? For the first time in many years I was gassing out over the last half to third of each race, regardless of distance. This happened consistently from March-May.

I have already signed up for the California International Marathon in December and have plotted out a fall racing schedule. I am hopeful that the speed I rediscovered this spring, when coupled with marathon strength and endurance, will result in some fast times. Getting my mileage back up over the hot southern summers will be a challenge, but a necessity. I am still chasing that sub-2:55 marathon.  I hope to use this blog to update my training and hold myself accountable through the fall. I tend to be my worst enemy when I hit a rough patch in training and lose my confidence. By typing out what I am doing and thinking maybe I will see the bigger picture!

In other exciting news, I have a new member of my family. Meet Zoey, a sweetie that I adopted from the League for Animal Protection. She is almost a year and a half and I am completely in love with her. After a few weeks she has found her place in my pack and seems happy.
My little Zoey
Zoey calling an audible
Keep training,