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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 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,

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Race report: Steve Barden Memorial Swim Meet

You didn't misread...this is a race report about a swim meet. I swam my first swim meet in over 20 years and had a ball. This meet was perfect for getting my feet wet (pun totally intended). It was small and low-key with the added bonus of being in a fun town (Asheville, NC) for hanging out afterwards.

I entered this meet over a month ago to give myself added fuel for cross training during my injury. As the meet got closer I sought help for my start and turns and found it in the Gator Aquatic Club and Brett Fonder. Over the last few weeks he has changed my turn, got me over my fear of the blocks, and made me sprint my butt off.

I swam the 50 and 100 yd. races this weekend. Given times that I had swum off the blocks (high 32s for the 50 and 1:14-high for the 100), my goals were to swim 31/32 in the 50 and 1:10/1:12 in the 100.

The 100 was first and it did not go well. My start was fine, but 15 yards in I realize that I am not sprinting. I was doing exactly what Brett said not to do...pacing myself. I tried to change gears but it resulted in rushed turns and messy form. I swam 1:14.56. I won my age group...but there were only two of us:)

Next was the 50. I wanted to redeem myself. I executed the race just as Brett suggested and was doing well until I started hitting the lane line the last 15 yards. I could not get off that thing! I finished second in my heat in 32.67. Within my goal, but that lane line cost me a few tenths. I am in lane 4 with the red cap on in the video below (second in from the bottom):

The times are a place to start and I had a blast. I have already signed up for another meet in November:) The meet is in Virginia Beach in a 25 meter pool. I entered the 50, 100, 200, and 400.

I get to start running on Tuesday, but I am going to continue to swim at least five times a week and work with Brett with a goal of improving and moving up to distance events (since I do not have a lot of fast twitch muscles!)

Hammer on and don't be afraid to try something different,

Friday, September 5, 2014

August Real Estate Index: The market is strong

Each quarter, in addition to the Consumer Sentiment and Price Expectations Report, I also produce the Real Estate Index using the methodology developed by the Sienna College Research Institute.

The figure below illustrates views on the real estate market in Virginia.
A measure of zero indicates an equal share of respondents feeling optimistic as those who feel pessimistic about the housing market. Perceptions of the market remain strong since the second quarter of 2014 with the only loss occurring in beliefs about buying in the next year. The Fed is likely going to raise rates in 2015 which is a potential determinant of the loss in optimism. 

You can read the entire report here.

The next set of reports will be released in November,

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Two weeks of aqua training, lots of writing, and the start of the new school year

Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines...I need them. Luckily I had deadlines for two projects. One was the second draft of the gender inequality in Papua New Guinea for the ADB. We turned in a 131-page document on Friday. Whew! The project and results are interesting, and considerable inequalities exist in the country across a variety of issues. One that I analyzed was the gender differences in mode of transportation to health facilities. Below is one of the graphics I generated:
Of particular interest was share of urban male patients with TB taking public transportation. At advanced stages TB is quite contagious via coughing/sneezing, thus taking the bus puts others at risk. What else do you notice in this chart?

The second deadline was the August Consumer Sentiment Report which was released last week. An earlier post discusses the findings. Interestingly this report generated interest from some new media outlets including Clear Channel in Richmond, the Roanoke Times, and the Roanoke Star. The Times actually did their own write-up about the report rather than just reproducing our report. 

The 2014-15 AY began this week with faculty contracts beginning the prior week. I was elected the Faculty Moderator for the year so I had two obligations over the last two weeks: our first FAC meeting (which I Chair) and the first Faculty Meeting of the year. There is something terrifying about standing in front of a room full of Faculty and speaking, but once the first few minutes were over I was more relaxed. Thankfully there were no major goofs.

Training in the pool continued to be fun and challenging. I am going to swim in a small meet next Saturday in Asheville, NC, so I sought out help for my start and turn. It has been over 20 years since I last started off of the blocks. I found a great resource in the Roanoke area: the Gator Aquatic Center. I had two sessions with Brett Fonder and it is amazing what a more efficient turn can do for your time! He totally changed my turn, so that I push off from the wall on my back and do not roll over (freestyle) until I am away from the wall. We also worked on my start off the blocks. I am no longer terrified:) During a series of 50 free's off the blocks we got my time under :34 so I am hopeful that I can swim 32-ish in the meet next weekend. For real swimmers that is slow, but hey, I have been out of it for a long time! I am also entered in the 100 which will be a PR because I have never raced the event. 

Training over the last few weeks included several weight sessions (I can now do single leg squats on my leg that I had surgically repaired which is promising), AJ workouts, and swimming. Since I have missed a week, I will not bore you with two weeks of a daily training log, but I did have several sprint oriented swim workouts from Brett in preparation for the meet. I got in over 16,000 yds swimming this week, but a bit less the week before due to a crazy work schedule.

Here is to my goggles not filling with water in my races next weekend,

Friday, August 29, 2014

Consumer Sentiment in VA hits a record high

I have worked with the Roanoke College IPOR to produce the quarterly Consumer Sentiment and Inflation Expectations Reports since November 2011. Although the report has a short history, it is exciting to see new records (in the positive direction). The history of the Virginia Index of Consumer Sentiment (VAICS, shown by orange bars) against the US measure (produced by the University of Michigan, shown by blue line) is shown below. The 2-period moving average of the US measure is shown in black. The national number is generated each month (that's what happens when you have a HUGE budget!).
You can read the full report here.
Things are better in VA. If you live in VA, do feel that way? If you live elsewhere, how are things where you are?
Confidently yours,

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,

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Appointment to the Virginia Joint Advisory Board of Economists

I am honored and excited to announce that I have been appointed by Governor Terry McAuliffe to the Joint Advisory Board of Economists. The announcement is here.

The Board advises the Governor and the Secretary of Finance on the outlook of the Commonwealth prior the estimation of state revenues and development of the state budget.

Another economist also joining the Board is Stephen Fuller of George Mason University. He discusses the role of the Board and its challenges here.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Presentation for the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce's Economic Summit XI

Yesterday I had the pleasure of being an invited speaker for the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce's Economic Summit XI. I spoke about the VA and Roanoke labor markets during and after the Great Recession.

The conference was quite interesting and had quite a mix of speakers. The two other speakers were a CEO of a software company in Roanoke and an author of a book (and PhD in Political Philosophy).

I met several people that will be great resources for future research, including folks from the Virginia Employment Commission.

Prior the conference I was interviewed by WFIR and Channel 10. You can hear the radio interview and view my presentation slides below.

WFIR interview

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Elderscholar Presentation at Roanoke College on Sentiments in the Commonwealth

Stephanie Garst of Roanoke College runs a wonderful program for seniors and retirees in the local community called Elderscholar. I presented to this group several years ago about my research on aging adults and obesity.

Today I will give a presentation on economic indicators in the Commonwealth. You can see the slides for my presentation below.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Presentation for the 2014 VAE Annual Meeting - Using Twitter in the Classroom

I am presenting twice at the 2014 Virginia Association of Economists Annual Meeting March 20-21. One of my presentations is of my paper (out next moth in the Journal of Economic Education) on using Twitter in the classroom to improve writing, reflection, and community.

You can see the slides of that presentation here:

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Presentation for The Management Institute, Roanoke College 3/13/2014

I gave a presentation on health and health care issues in the workplace for the 2014 class of The Management Institute @Roanoke College. My presentation can be seen below:

Health Care in the Workplace TMI 2014

Thursday, February 20, 2014

February Real Estate Index - Request for additional questions

Included in the survey administered to produce the Consumer Sentiment and Inflation Expectations Report are questions used to generate a Real Estate Index for Virginia. We began this index and release in November 2013, so it continues to be a work in progress.

Today the February release came out and can be found here.

The first figure in the release is shown below and it sums up our findings: the real estate market is improving, but sentiments are stronger for sellers. Why? We plan to add probing questions in the May survey to better discern this, but I believe that it has a lot to do with low inventories (increasing optimism of sellers) and rising interest and flood insurance rates (decreasing optimism of buyers).

The overall measure shows respondents sentiment of the overall real estate market where they live, both today compared to a year ago (current) and next year compared to today (future). "Sell" and "Buy" uses respondents answers about the current/future environment to sell/buy a property. The index value is the difference between those reporting optimism and pessimism; a value of zero suggests a balance between the two. The black line illustrates a thriving market.

What probing questions would you like us to ask? We have data on income, race/ethnicity, age, etc., but would like to add follow-up questions to get to the details of respondents' beliefs.