Em oi! #340: The Shiba Inu, part 1

"Maya" is, among other meanings, an alternate name for the Goddess Durga.I’ll admit it, I’ve been a little tired lately, a little depressed.  For various reasons, comics are not getting done as quickly as I’d like them to.  But that’s all going to change (I hope). I’ll be able to officially announce why in a few weeks.

For now, here’s what I’ve got on the docket: a race. This race, in fact. It’s April 9th at 8:00 in the Arb. I’m doing the 50k. If you’ll be in the area, come say “hi.” If you come around 13:00, maybe we can do lunch.

I like lunch.

I’m sure you’re wondering how one trains for a 50k. Let me show you my last two weeks, because they are illustrative:

This was a “cycle down” week, so the longest run was 10 miles (well, 11).
Monday, 21 Feb: Swam 2500 yards.
22 Feb: Ran 8.1 miles (9.4 min/mi pace)
23 Feb: Ran 7.2 miles (10.2 min/mi pace), then 3.4 mi with Bryan in the evening
24 Feb: Ran 8.1 mi (10.3 min/mi pace)
25 Feb: Swam 2500 yards and lifted weights (legs)
26 Feb: Ran 11.3 mi (11.1 min/mi, plus about 1 mile with dog)
27 Feb: Ran 10.8 mi (11.4 min/mi)
Total: 48.9 mi ran, 5000 yards swum

This was a normal week. My weeks will look about like this until the race:
Monday, 28 Feb: Swam 2750 yards
1 March: Ran 8.1 mi (9.5 min/mi)
2 March: Ran 8.7 mi (9.4 min/mi pace) plus 3.4 mi with B in the evening
3 March: Ran 8.9 mi (9.9 min/mi pace)
4 March: Swam 2250 yards
5 March: Ran 22.6 mi (10.6 min/mi pace)
6 March: Ran 10.5 mi (10.6 min/mi pace)
Total: 62.2 miles ran, 5000 yards swum

My training plan has two elements which are quite different from my usual marathon plans:

1. Two days off per week (Monday and Friday).

2. Back-to-back long runs (in the 2nd week here, 22 and 10).

This takes a lot out of a body.  I’m running about 10.5 hours per week, give or take, and swimming about 2 hours.  If I added in another hour of swimming and maybe 5 hours of biking, I could be doing an Ironman.  Of course, B would never get to see me, which is a problem.  And already I’m starving all the time.  I hate to see what would happen to our food budget if I upped my mileage any more.

Anyway, the situation around our house is calming down somewhat. Kali has decided that Maya is not terrifying (more annoying) and is sleeping at my feet as I type this (having the heating pad on doesn’t hurt). Maya is…well, she’s a handful, but things are getting easier. And as for me, I can’t say I’m exactly used to getting up at 6:30 to take her out every morning, but I’m resigned to it, and I’m getting in the habit of getting to bed early enough that I’m not totally non-functional.

Apparently shiba inus are not necessarily recommended for first time dog owners, and shiba puppies have a certain reputation for being hellacious bundles of fur. Now they tell us. Because she’s a rescue, we don’t really know what happened to Maya before she came to live with us, but she doesn’t really have any bad habits (unless you count being kind of reserved around new people as a bad habit). And the screaming is getting better. A little better, anyway. I have to hope it will eventually be totally better, or else I will run mad. Mad I say!

Ok, maybe it’s bed time.

All in all, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend getting a puppy, although there are some benefits (see the aforementioned no bad habits thing). But in general we’re pretty happy with Maya.

This comic is filed under
SF429.S63 L86 2011, which stands for:
Animal culture–Pets–Dogs–By breed, A-Z–Shiba dogs.

Em ơi! #324: Marathon Misery

I know I’ve been posting little snippits concerning my marathon training.  Last week I didn’t do one for a very simple reason – I ran Monday, and then not again for the whole week.  Apparently, I’ve injured my foot, though the PA I saw didn’t actually give me a diagnosis other than it was “some muscle thing.”  (Thanks.)

Yesterday I did 7.3 mi, and the upshot is I need to keep taking time off until my foot is completely better.  I’m really upset about this, but there’s nothing to be done but wait.  I keep telling myself that I may yet make it to the marathon (though I probably won’t be BQing (i.e., Qualifying for the Boston marathon) – I haven’t run farther than 15 miles in one go in several weeks), and I can always run 26 miles any day I want to when my foot allows it.  But somehow that doesn’t make me feel much better.  In the meantime I’ve been biking, both on my regular bike and the spinning bike at the gym, which helps for calorie burn (a little), but just doesn’t make me happy the way running does.

So it’s rough.  I have to continue taking this one day at a time, which for someone who plans things like I do is painful.  My foot aches when the weather changes, makes strange clicking noises when I go down stairs, and sometimes feels better…only to start hurting again when I’ve gotten my hopes up.  Intellectually I know it’s just one marathon and there will be others…but I haven’t really come to terms with it yet.

This comic is filed under RC1220.M35 L86 2010, for Internal medicine — Special situations and conditions — Sports medicine — Medical and physiological aspects of special activities.  By activity, A-Z — Marathon running.

This week in running: Week eight

It was a week: 16-22 August

Monday: biked 17.1 miles, lifted (chest)

Tuesday: AM – 3.3 mi (9.1 min/mi)

PM – 4.4 mi (11.2 min/mi)

Biked 17.1 mi

Wednesday: 3×2 mi at MP with 1/2 mi recovery (total 7.3 mi, avg. 8.4 min/mi); biked 17.1 mi; lifted (biceps)

Thursday: AM – 3.3 mi (9.4 min/mi)

PM – 3.3 mi (10.4 min/mi)

Biked 17.0 mi

Friday: Biked 31.3 mi

Saturday: half marathon – 13.1 mi in 1:46:02 (8.1 min/mi) – 19th in my division.

Sunday: AM – ~6 mi in 1:00:14

PM – 4 mi (11 min/mi)

Total running: 44.7 miles in 6:56:05 (9.3 min/mi, slightly faster than last week)

Total biking: 99.6 miles (This is the largest number of miles I have ever biked in a week.  Yikes.)

My goals for the half marathon were a) do it in the Vibrams, and b) try to do it at marathon pace or better, to see if doing my marathon at that pace is tenable.  MP is 8:25, so I was well within the “or better” part – 8.1 is about 8:05.  It is clear that I’ll have to pay careful attention to pacing myself so I don’t go out too fast.  I used to run very consistent splits, but as I’ve gotten faster that has faded somewhat.  For example, my splits on Saturday ranged from 7:54 to 9:00 (at least!).  So I will have to watch myself.  My feet and calves are sore from running in the VFFs, but though I was worried toward the end that my feet were bleeding or something, I only had one major blister, which is pretty good.

I’ll try to post the before/after pictures from the half tomorrow; they’re quite droll.

Running log, week 7

I had to take my cat to the vet to get her teeth cleaned.  I scheduled it for Monday because I usually take Monday off running.  Is this:

a) Weird.

b) Good planning.

c) Stop running already.

Don’t answer that.

This is what I did last week:

Monday (9 August): Ran 3 mi (9.6 min/mi); biked 17.4 mi; lifted legs.

Tuesday: AM – ran 7.5 mi (10 min/mi).  PM – ran 3 mi (10.9 min/mi).

Wednesday: 2x3mi with 1/2 mi recovery between – first 3 mi at 7.8 min/mi, second 3 mi at 8.3 min/mi; biked 16.5 mi.

Thursday: Ran 7.8 mi (9.9 min/mi).

Friday: Ran 10 mi (9.4 min/mi – this was split between the track and treadmill – I had been planning to do 15 before it rained.  Oh well.)

Saturday: Ran for 1:09:09 on the Lakefront Trail in Chicago (about 7.6 mi).

Sunday: Ran for 49:55 on the Lakefront Trail (about 5 mi).  Ran 3 mi (10.4 min/mi) in Madison.

Total: (approx) 54.4 miles in 8:39:12, 9.5 minutes per mile.  That’s exactly the same as last week’s pace.

So I failed to take an off day, and after Wednesday’s combo of speed work plus bike my knee (left) started to play up and I had to tape it on Thursday/Friday.  But today it feels fine.  I took today off from running and I’ll probably take Friday off too – I have a half marathon on Saturday.  Hopefully it will predict the marathon time I should be aiming for (I’m hoping I’ll go sub two hours, which would give me a shot at a sub-4 marathon).  Whee.  A lot will depend on the weather, though – I do all right with wind, and decently with heat, but humidity, especially when combined with heat, really slows me down.

Em ơi! #320: Bears, bears, bears

Finally another comic.  This one files under QL795.B4 L86 2010, for Zoology — Animal behavior — Stories and anecdotes — Special.  By common name of animal, A-Z — Bears.  You can read some articles about the bears here and here.  It turns out black bears are pretty harmless (they like to eat fruit, not runners), and there haven’t been any mentions of them in the paper since the beginning of the summer, so I’m probably safe.

My favorite new classification is officially HQ76.965.B42, for The Family. Marriage. Woman–Human sexuality. Sex–Sexual minorities–Homosexuality. Lesbianism–Gay and lesbian culture–Special topics, A-Z–Bears. I just found it while I was looking the QL795 one up.  I will have to come up with something to file under that.

Continue reading “Em ơi! #320: Bears, bears, bears”

Marathon Wrap-Up

I can’t believe it has taken me so long to get to writing about this.

In short, the first 15 miles were great – very fast.  I hit the 13.1 mile point in 1:58:something, faster than I’ve ever run a half-marathon.  Despite the fact that I was having stomach cramps from the shot bloks I was trying to eat, I had a great time.  Then, somewhere between 15-17 miles in, my left knee’s iliotibial band began to ache, a pain which only got worse over the next several miles.  By mile 23 I was nearly in tears, hobbling through Crystal City and wondering if I was going to have to walk the last three miles.

Fortunately, after I stopped to stretch several times, the pain began to recede and I was able to lurch back to a run (though my stomach protested with a wave of nausea that slowed me down again).  I finished in 4:20:34, about 20 minutes faster than my first marathon.

Lessons learned:

  1. Marathons are about dealing with the unexpected.  As a runner, I tend to have tunnel vision – I like to do things by my plan and not deviate from them.  While running a marathon, things will come up that need to be dealt with immediately.
  2. I probably went out a bit fast.  Should have reined myself in a little until the 5k mark.
  3. Should have ditched the shot bloks (which I hadn’t used much in training) and brought another GU.

All the speed work I did leading up to the big day totally paid off.  I’m pretty glad of that.

T-4 days until the Marathon

The average daily temperature in Madison has been about 40 degrees, sometimes cooler during the time that I have been out running.  There were even a few flakes of snow when I was out doing 13 miles two weeks ago.

This coming Sunday, the temperature in DC is forecast to be 62.  I am in so much trouble.

When ultrarunners are training for some of the more extreme races (races like the Badwater which goes through Death Valley, CA, or the Western States, which is known for its temperature extremes), they do what’s called heat training – wearing long sleeves and trousers even in warm conditions, sitting in saunas, driving around with the heater on (during the summer, mind).  The idea is to raise your core temperature up to what it might be during the event so you can start to get used to it.

When I first realized what the temperature differential was going to be, I started trying to do something similar – running in long sleeves, a sweatshirt, and tights even when the weather was in the 50s and I didn’t really need these accouterments.  But when it’s 35 degrees out (thank you, bank clock in Verona), will the concept really work?

I suppose we’ll find out on Sunday.  I have a couple of advantages working for me: I have a strong base, having run about 40-50 miles per week since January, and I acclimate to heat a lot more readily than most people.  My goal is to come in right around the 4 hour mark, but finishing at all will be great.

I think in general it should be a better race than last year.  Here’s hoping, anyway.  We fly out Friday morning.  Wish me luck!

Running in Outer Space

“…If I travel but four foot by the squier
further afoot, I shall break my wind.”

–Falstaff (1 Henry IV: II, ii)

You can stop at red lights, but then keep running again when they turn green.
You can stop at red lights, but then keep running again when they turn green.

I ran 20 miles this morning.

There’s something weighty about the distance itself, quite apart from the pain it inflicts.  Twenty is such a large, round number, a distance often driven and rarely traveled afoot.  In America, where people rarely put shoe leather to paving stones, I doubt most people understand how far 20 miles actually is.  I wonder if three hundred years ago most people would have known someone who lived farther than, say, 50 miles away.  And yet it’s a requirement of modern society that we be able to travel and communicate across these distances at great speeds on a daily basis.

For fun, take a look at these two graphs:

Total Milage per Week 2008
Total Mileage per Week 2008

This is a graph of my total mileage from 2008 with three points marked:

C: The week I injured my ankle and had to take several days off (this follows a half marathon and my black belt test, so I’d been putting it through the wringer).  My marathon training really began after this.

A: My peak of 64.1 miles, reached the week of 31 August.  Also the week before I met the guy who’s now my fiancé.  Coincidence?

B: The week of the marathon.  I ran 42.5 miles that week, though a little more than half of that was the marathon itself.  This is because I don’t know how to turn it off, even when I’m supposed to be relaxing.

Training for 2009
Training for 2009

My average weekly mileage is a lot higher, although my long runs are generally shorter (I’ve only done one twenty-miler so far, compared with four before the marathon last year).  I’m also doing a lot of speed work (it helps that my training partner is working on improving his 10k time), so my runs are getting faster (instead of the 12 minute miles I was running in 08, I’m doing mostly 10s and 11s with a handful of 9.5s thrown in – a marked improvement for me).

Although I’ve been running for years, I’ve only really been doing serious distance since Fall 2007 (when I ran my first 10k).  It’s really interesting to see how my running has changed over time.  I’ve been routinely hitting close to 50 miles per week for half the year (my standing goal is “at least 36”).  I’ve also noticed that while my absolute minimum for a run (that is, the minimum I had to run to feel okay) used to be about 5 miles, now it’s between 6 and 7 miles.  Any more and  this is going to start cutting into my life a lot…I guess it’s a good thing I’m getting faster.

The marathon is 25 October, a little more than a month from now.  I think I’m ready.