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Monday, July 17, 2017

First few weeks

Briggs Field, MIT

I have been fully back to training after marathon/cellulitis for two weeks and am trying to be patient and adapt to training and the weather. So far so good.

Not surprisingly I am building back strength and endurance on land and in the pool and trying to incorporate running on soft surfaces as much as possible.

Last week was what I image to be a typical one for the next month or so (although the mileage will increase over that period.) I was in Boston Sunday-Tuesday presenting a paper at the International Health Economic Association Meeting, so I got to run in some new places.

Monday was 6 x 3:00 at tempo interval pace with 2:00 jogs between. My hotel was near MIT so I used Briggs Field, their intramural grass field (real grass, not artificial turf) which spanned 2 x 3 soccer fields. Perfect! Given that I will race 2-4 cross country races this fall, practicing running on surfaces that are not smooth like a road or track is important. My paces per mile were 6:10-6:20 for each 3:00 segment which I was pleased with. On the track or road that would have been 6:00-6:10 pace for a tempo effort.
I used fields 1-9 which all connect even with the track!
Due to travel I did not do the second workout until Saturday. I had a 20:00 tempo run. I have a love/hate relationship with tempo. I hate the pain but love the results. It was a typical humid morning in Virginia and I was OK with the 6:36/mile average pace (through three miles in 6:38, 6:36, 6:34) especially since I descended slightly and did it alone. Looking back at training from this time last year (which is not always a wise thing to do as we age) I am well ahead of what I was averaging back then.

Sunday was a longish (not long for a marathon runner) 1:20 run on the hills of Fincastle which went well even on the tired legs.

What I was most excited about was my swim session! I got a new batch of workouts from Coach Brett. One of the workouts I did was a total of 5,000 yds. with a main set of:

17 x 100 kick on 1:30 for 1-5, 1:25 for 6-10, 1:20 for 11-14, and 1:15 for 15-17.
17 x 100 free with fins and paddles do the same way except on 1:35, 1:30, 1:25, and 1:20

I did it! I love swimming and working with Brett who is so positive and encouraging. Plus it builds me into a better runner. Win-win-win.

In the next post I will write about the conference in Boston and our paper.

Run & swim,

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Starting over

My blog fell into disuse! 10 months passed before I could blink. No excuses. I'm just going to get it back on track (and a face lift before too long!)

This post will focus on the running part of the Running Economist. I will save the exciting projects that I am working on and have had published recently for another post.

The good news: my fitness post knee surgery and last year's battle with vocal chord dysfunction progressed throughout the year. I got into 3:02-3:05ish marathon shape for the Wrightsville Beach Marathon (March 2017) put on by my coach Tom Clifford, but the weather did not cooperate. Most people, including me, were slowed by the heat and humidity and I ran just under 3:08 (and won the female masters division.)

Coach Clifford suggested that I recoup and try a second round at Grandma's Marathon in June. I recovered from Wrightsville Beach faster than any marathon before and had a great training cycle going into Grandma's getting into 2:58-3:02ish shape. And then....I got stuck by a thorn a week before the race.

A thorn! Yes. I made it through 20+ mile runs, countless tempo and interval sessions, 3-4 x week swim workouts, but was felled by a thorn. I have no idea how the thorn found my finger. I do not have roses. But it did and with it brought a nasty case of cellulitis. A few days before the race my entire arm was swollen and the lymph nodes in my neck were inflamed. I went to the hospital in Duluth Thursday (yes, I went to the race hopeful it would just go away!) and was put on antibiotics. I do not run well while on antibiotics, but that was better than letting the infection get worse than it already was.

I went through the motions and toed the line Saturday morning having made a deal with myself: Execute your race plan, but if your body tells you that the infection is bigger than your heart, DROP OUT. No running race is worth dying for.

A few miles in I felt weak and not my peppy self. I focused on staying positive and hoped that my body would loosen up. It was not to be. By 6 miles I needed a walk break. I took three more before I got to the drop out zone with buses to the finish at 13.75 miles. Dropping out was the best decision for me. Had I pushed through I could have spread the infection and worse. I felt OK about it knowing this and that I gave it a go. There were no "what ifs".

Tears were shed on the bus back and on the phone with Coach Clifford. I was so darn frustrated. Following his suggestion, I took a few hours to get the hurt out, and then focused on the positive and the future.

So what is the future?

Several USATF Masters races and a full cross country season. I am excited! My tentative plan is:

August 19 - FAB 5K (Roanoke) (half grass, half pavement)
August 25 - USATF Masters Road Mile National Championship (Flint, MI)
August 26 - Crim 10 Miler (Flint, MI) (...yes the next day. But I am there anyway, so why not)
September 9 - Knights Crossing (Roanoke) (XC)
October 6 - Royal Invitational (Charlotte) (XC)
October 15 - USATF Masters 5K XC National Championships (Boston)
October 28 - Runway 5K (Charlotte) (road and a MAYBE)
November 4 - USATF 5K National Championships (road and a MAYBE)
November 23 - Wrightsville Beach Turkey Trot (road)
December 9 - USATF Masters 6K XC National Championships (Lexington, KY)

I took time after Grandma's to heal (similar to recovery for a completed marathon) and started intervals and pool work two weeks ago. After a few days of feeling sluggish (the last of the antibiotics and infection?), I am back to feeling strong. With my awesome training buddy Sarah, I hit a 20:00 tempo faster than I have in at least two years despite the humidity (farty shoes by mile one) and did a broken 500 yard test set in the pool faster than I did to start last swim season. My strength from six months of marathon training is still there. Whew!

My goal is to stay positive, push my limits, and embrace the training for the rest of the year. I will make more training posts this season not because anyone is interested, but because putting it out there holds me accountable. I can be my own worst enemy in the mind game arena, so hopefully writing and posting my thoughts will keep me on the positive track when things get challenging.

I am on Strava (as Alice Kassens), so follow me!

Welcome back to the grind,