Monday, November 29, 2010


Hello, Internet!

This week saw a) Thanksgiving b) my reintroduction to workouts and c) my internet go down, which is why this is late.

Since this is so late, I'll spare the editorial jacknobbery and get right to the log:

Monday- 9 miles steady with Matt, 54min, felt good.

Tuesday- 3 up, 7.5k tempo at the BC Res with the guys. The group was assigned 10k at 5:20-5:30 per mile and Bruce instructed me to go 5k-7.5k at the same pace. I was pleasantly surprised to manage 7.5k (3 laps) at 5:20/mile quite easily. I was 24:55 for the whole thing, going 8:20, 8:20, and 8:15 for each of the 2.5k laps. This was a good step forward, since prior to this I had been doing mostly moderate running and strides. 9PM- Back to Derry after work.

Wednesday- 10mi on the railroad beds back in Derry, out in 35 and back in 31 (I did what I'm pretty sure was a 10 and 1/4 loop I measured out back in high school). Last 3mi were 6:00 pace.

Thursday- 9AM- 62min easy with friends warming up for, during, and cooling down from the Derry Turkey Trot, which had over 1500 runners this year! I think the first year I ran it, we had maybe 200, so it's really exploded in the last few years. 1PM- 4mi real quick before dinner, since I realized there was no way I'd be running after dinner.

Friday- 4PM- 3+ up, 5x1/3rd of a mile steep hill (for anyone from the area, I did repeats of the hill in the second mile of the Turkey Trot, beginning on Beaver Lake Rd and ending where it hits Old Chester) with jog down recovery and a 3.5-4mi cooldown. Not sure why, but I felt great from the first step out the door today, and ran the hills real hard. 10 tot

Saturday- Noon- 10 mi easy with my younger brother and some of our old teammates from Pinkerton. Strength circuit at the Pinkerton track after.

Sunday- Noon- Back to Boston. 3PM- 14mi easy/moderate by myself from the house. I did 3 laps of Fresh Pond (15:56, 15:28, 15:10) and back, stopping at Harvard to add on a half-mile to make it 14. I ran the last mile hard in 5:28, which was fun because it was way easier than I thought it'd be.

Tot- 75

A good week! I'm rounding into decent form and am looking forward to the end of the semester. Take it easy, everyone!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Mild Progress

Hello, internet! I've been running for three weeks now, and I'm starting to feel like an athlete again. I haven't been up to anything too fancy, just plenty of medium-range running around 6:00-6:30 pace with strides and a strength routine. Unfortunately, my allergies have been bad enough to warrant discontinuing the allergy shots for a few weeks while we wait for a few good frosts to kill off enough of the ragweed and mold to calm my lungs down. The nurse practitioner who administers the shots said we'd be doing more harm than good if we inject more allergens into my system now. However, since I haven't been bad enough to take days off, I'm not too worried about it. After my reaction to being back in New Hampshire last week, though, I'm a little apprehensive about being home for Thanksgiving for 5 days. If I can control the outbreak, I might jump in the local Turkey Trot and see where my chips fall. If I have another really bad reaction, I'll just have to work the finish line or something.

Anyway, here's my log for the week:

Monday: 7mi on the river with a group, 47min, felt good.

Tuesday: 3:30PM- 9+ on the river, ran the last half with Matt and Peter at about 6:20 pace, felt good. 9:30PM- 20min strength circuit after work, really crushed it.

Wednesday: 3:30pm- 11mi hard in 66:08 with Rob, ran to the Arboretum and really drilled the last ~7mi or so. The last mile was 5:34, and I don't think it was much faster than the previous 6 miles. Afterward I put on my spikes and did 5x150 hard on the track. My legs were tired after the hard run, but it was a fun day.

Thursday: 9am- Squeezed in 5mi before class and my allergy shots. I did the last mile on the track striding the straights and floating the turns in 5:26 (8 strides total). When I found out I couldn't get shots and could have run with the team, I was pretty annoyed. Buuut I did see the Deathly Hallows at midnight and it was awesome!

Friday: 2PM- Squeezed in 4mi before Sean and I were supposed to take a bus to his folks' place in New York. We were planning on crashing there, then driving into the city Saturday morning to watch our second squad race the IC4A XC Championships, but it turns out you have to buy Greyhound tickets at least two hours before departure. I screwed that up, but I wasn't too sad about getting to go to bed early and sleeping in.

Saturday: 10:30AM- 9 miles with Eric, Rich, and Matt around JP (9:35) and back, plus an add-on in Allston. Afterward we went to the gym and did a general strength/core circuit Bruce made up for us. It was tough, but that kind of crap is always easier in a group. 7PM- Indoors: 2mi easy, 4x200 w/200 float (31, 31, 30, 29, 5:37 for the mile including rest) in spikes, 1mi easy.

Sunday: 2PM- 9mi easy solo to Fresh Pond, around, and back from the house, plus a little bit when I got back, felt pretty good and got clipping along toward the end. Got pretty groinchilled out there. 8PM- 4mi easy on the river after work, dressed better this time.

Tot- 62 miles, 2 strength/core circuits, 3 good stride sessions of varying lengths, one hard run. I'm going to talk to Bruce tomorrow about getting in on some workouts. Have a great week, everyone!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

2nd Week Back- Reality Sets In

Ok, as happy as I am to be running again. . . getting back into shape stinks. I feel like the 5 or so pounds I probably gained are more like 30, my lungs still aren't totally back to normal, and everything hurts. However, it's a hurt much preferable to the restlessness that comes from a month of couch sitting. The highlights of the week were traveling back to my mother's house in NH for a night, then watching my brother run the race of his life for the third week in a row to snag 17th at the New England Championship.

On Wednesday, I went to the allergist to get scratch-tested for a host of different allergies. As it turns out, I'm EXTREMELY allergic to just about everything they tested for. The allergies that are relevant to my ability to run include ragweed, dust mites, alternia (a family of molds that peak in the late fall), cats, dogs, and cockroach poop. The doctor's theory is that my yearly fall "pneumonia/ breathing illness" is mostly allergy-related, since ragweed and alternia peak at about the same time (mid-October to the first frost). I'm glad I've got a definite diagnosis, but it's irritating to have mistreated it for about five years. It could be worse, but damn, that's a lot of wasted cross-country. I started allergy shots on Thursday, and for the next 8 months, I'll be getting three injections (for the worst of the allergies: ragweed, alternia, and dust mites) one a week. For those of you keeping score at home, that's 96 separate injections. I'm told that I "might" feel a difference in 5 months, but it will probably be next fall before I notice anything. With the cold nights, I find that my lungs are probably about 90% of normal. Once we get a real hard frost I'll be even better.

Unfortunately, going back to New Hampshire for about 24 hours reminded me how much worse my allergies are up there than in Boston. If slept more than hour on Friday night, I'd be shocked. It was worth it to see my brother's last high school cross country race, though, even if it did feel like someone was stepping on my face and making me breathe through a straw. I missed a day of running Saturday because there was just no way I was going to be able to do anything productive through that reaction.

Anyway, here's what I got up to this week:

Monday- 8 mi easy with my friend Beth, ran at night through some gentle rain.

Tuesday- 8mi easy with Ken in a cool rain, around Jamaica Pond in 10:00, which is awesome, because I figured we were running 7:40 pace and instead we were closer to 6:40.

Wednesday- 4:30PM- Weak workout with Ken. I think the scratch-testing at the doc's office caused a mild reaction, because I was wheezier on this run than I had been in more than a week. Ken and I warmed up, then he did a 4mi tempo run at the BC Res, averaging about 5:25/mile. I ran the first 11min with him, then jogged in the other direction for 6min, then finished up the last 5min or so with him. 2+ c/d, almost trampled some sleeping ducks.

Thursday- 5mi easy- went out 18min on the river with James, then turned around because I couldn't breathe at all. This run scared the crap out of me because I thought I was getting worse. Allergy shots in the afternoon.

Friday- 3:30PM- Fears of a relapse put to rest. I was wheezy for the first half of the run, then everything seemed to open up. The group of us who didn't run Regionals went out to Fresh Pond nice and slow, ran around Fresh Pond moderate (15:56, just under 6:30/mile) then coming home I felt good and figured if I was going to run, I might as well get after it, so I ran the last two-and-a-half or so at about 5:40 pace. My last mile was 5:34, and it felt good to run hard and honest again. 45min on the T to South Station right after, then an hour on the bus.

Saturday- As mentioned, off due to a really bad attack up in NH. I might be exiled from there until I advance along in immunotherapy more. It was awesome to see my brother run a smart, tough race to finish off his senior season though!

Sunday- Noon- Mayor's Park with James, shocked that we ran the measured 9mi in under 63 minute, because we were just chatting and shuffling along. 8PM- 23minutes of gentle strides and jogging on Nickerson with James.

Tot- 50 miles, plus pushups, core, and a strength circuit most days after running.
I'd like to get in another two weeks of building mileage and plenty of easy striding before getting down to some serious work after Thanksgiving. Part of the reason I want to take my time is that once I get under 6:00/mile, I start wheezing again, and I think at this point, interval work would only discourage me. Plenty of strong, aerobic running is in order while I wait for a hard frost.

I couldn't end this week without mentioning Boston University's 7th place at the Northeast Regional meet, only 7 points behind Robert Johnson's Cornell team. It was a solid end to a season that saw the team take several large steps forward from last year. Next year's team will miss Eric, but we return our 2nd through 8th men, and I'll be added to the mix, hopefully free of my inability to breathe in October.

Best wishes, internet!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

First Week Back and the NYC Marathon

I think I got a little too used to the hiatus I took the last month. I nearly forgot to write this week's (oh-so-exciting, edge-of-your-seat) entry!

There's nothing very interesting to note about my running this week, but I'm very happy to be running again. My left side is doing its standard out-of-whackiness that it does whenever I build up mileage-- it's a weird weakness/pain in my left lower back, butt, and hip-- but it'll go away in around a week. I think most of it is just from sleeping on it funny.

Before my (hilariously inadequate) log, some comments about NYC:

I hope Geb's retirement proves to be more Favresque than a real retirement. His career as a runner is unparalleled and his decision to use his money to create sustainable middle-class jobs in his home country is a model for other runners from developing nations to follow. The reason I hope his retirement pronouncement was premature isn't because I believe he's going to pop a 2:02 marathon, or because I think he owes running fans anything, but because it's sad to see such a storied career end on such a bitter note. A teammate of mine asked me "Did you see the flotrack video? Did you hear the news?" about Geb's retirement like the Emperor had died (Geb the Emperor, not Palpatine. . .).

As for the Americans, well, look- there's a reason the 2:05 marathoners who come to New York run 2:08-2:10. I hope Meb makes the most of the years he has left, Ritz doesn't get too discouraged, and that Tim Nelson hits a flat marathon on the spring and cuts a couple minutes from his time. On another note, my fellow Pinkerton alum, former national champ, and on-again off-again mentor, Matt Downin, ran 2:20 in what has to be his eight millionth unretirement race.

Anyway, I'll spare the rambling. Here's my first week back:

11/1- 30min easy, 15min out with the team.

11/2- 35min easy, first half with Sean. Ran early in the cold, which was great, because the colder it is, the more allergens die.

11/3- 40min easy with Matt and Eric, including 4x100 strides. We did a loop Eric said was at least 5mi in 34min, and I was conversational, so I'm happy about that.

11/4- 45min easy easy in the rain (sensing a pattern, yet?) after a microeconomics midterm, got down to about 6:20 pace on this one without really noticing it. Pushups and situps after.

11/5- 50min moderate/hard mostly with Matt and Rich on the river. We ran the first mile in about 7:00 dead, then settled into low 6:00 pace until about 5 miles, then ran the last three harder. I went through 8 in about 47:30 then finished off my 50min. My lungs still aren't 100% once I get under 6:00 pace, but the adjustment is only about 10-15 seconds/mile. It felt good to run hard, though, even if it was awkward and not particularly fast.

11/6- 55min easy solo in the early evening, including 3x400 on, 400 off on Nickerson, with the "ons" in 74, 71, and 67 and the offs around 7:15 pace. The loop I did was shorter than I thought it would be, and I needed to add some laps on the track, so I figured what the hell, mix it up a little.

11/7- 8mi easy on the river after work, cold and rainy, left hip pretty annoying on this one. The first 2-3 weeks back are always the roughest, so I'm not displeased with this week being not too bad.

Tot- 45mi

Monday, November 1, 2010

Don't Call it a Comeback! (ok, call it a comeback)

Hello, Internet! I'm back after an (almost) uneventful hiatus with mostly good news.

The first and most important piece is that the Boston University Men won our first America East Conference title in 10 years! It had been far too long since Bruce got a new trophy for his office, and we're all pumped to have reversed last year's injury-wracked 6th place finish. The negative corollary to this is that, unfortunately, I did not get my health issues sorted in time to directly contribute to the victory. The rough order of missed diagnoses went something like this:

1)It's a sinus infection, treat with antibiotics (didn't work)
2) It's viral bronchitis, wait it out, in the meantime, use this albuterol inhaler to breathe well enough to get out of bed (didn't work)
3) I have secret, magical asthma that appeared one day- take 5 days of prednisone and breathe in this nebulized albuterol (didn't do anything except make me hungry and feel like I was cheating, since prednisone is a steroid).
4)Hang on, you say you get weird lung/sinus infections like clockwork almost every fall and beginning of allergy season in spring? Just take this advair inhaler. (also didn't work- but gave me an idea to see an allergy doc)
5) This morning- allergy doc tests my lungs with a spirometer, says I'm at 78% of what the avg sedentary male my height, weight, and age should be at, then says because I'm a runner, it's probably even lower. She scheduled an allergy test for me next week, but observed I fit 100% of the symptoms and timeframe for a ragweed allergy. The next course of action is immunotherapy, aka allergy shots, which likely won't take effect before the frost kills off all the ragweed, but will (hopefully) prevent me from having another spring and fall ruined by allergies.

So, while it stunk that I didn't get to run Conference, I think I've finally got a handle on something that's apparently been ruining my cross country seasons especially for a couple years now. Almost every October, I notice I seem to lose a lung overnight, and all the sudden my pace at every level of effort slows by about 30 seconds a mile. The doctor, who had some experience with runners and undiagnosed allergies, guessed correctly that in the fall and spring I go through weird "funks" where I just stink at running for a month, and that my most consistent, best results are in the mid-summer and winter. She nailed it. Fortunately, my absence didn't make a lick of difference in the team score, because my teammates ran fantastic on Saturday to sneak off with the title. I would have felt horribly guilty if we had lost by a point or something. As it were, it was a little tough to watch the race knowing that in a fair world, I'd be out there, but any frustration or jealousy on my part was more than mitigated by how proud I was of my friends and happy I am for their victory. Since life, of course, isn't fair, I'm glad it was only unfair in my favor, especially after my absence last year cost us dearly.

I can't overstate how well the guys ran, though. Of the 10 BU men who raced, 7 of them set personal records at Franklin Park. I think Eric tied his time from New Englands (he was within one second either way, I hope I didn't shortchange him a slight PR), Peter, our 5th man, managed to come within 2 seconds of his PR despite being a little under the weather (I hope I'm not embarrassing him, but he was like a vomit-zombie after the race- it was an impressive performance) and our 10th guy, Mike, was the only one of us who had off day. I do want to say, though that Mike's "off day" was still about 90 seconds faster than he ever ran for 8k last year, so I hope I haven't sounded like I'm trying to call Mike out. He's improved by leaps and bounds this season, and won't one off race affect him.

With regards to finding out I have an allergy that's bad enough to have kept me from running for about three weeks, I'll say that I have been, in the past, both skeptical and critical of severe allergy sufferers. My foot is now firmly in my mouth on the subject. My best friend, Geoff, used to barely be able to run in the winter due to asthma worsened by exercising in the cold. I used to impatiently tell him to tough it out. Now I feel like a horse's ass, as well as wondering if karma has anything to do with allergies. If I'm going to get anything from the allergy shots, I hope that it's a better capacity for consistency. Looking over my running logs, my best training and racing almost invariably comes in the depths of winter and summer, when allergens are at their most dormant. If controlling the allergies better allows me to carry some of that momentum further into the spring and fall, I'd like to think some good racing results are just around the corner. The colder weather of the last few days has left me feeling a little clearer, and I managed 31 reasonably wheeze-free minutes today. In another 2-3 weeks, I'd like to think I'll be on my way to a nice set of PRs over 800m and the mile.

Lastly, because this entry is 1) disgustingly long and 2) consists of far too much whining/excusing, let me end by saying how proud of I am of my younger brother, Kevin, who finished in 4th place at the NH Division I Championships on Saturday with a time of 15:55 for the Derryfield Park 5k. Not only did Kev's time tie my high school PR on the notoriously difficult course, it also bested my best finish at the meet (4th as opposed to 9th) AND came at a much more significant time in the season (the Division Championships, where his team got 2nd place, as opposed to my early-season performance at the Manchester Invitational). Relative to his 800/mile performances, Kevin is a much better cross country runner than I ever was in high school, and this performance only further supports that observation. He has two cross country races left in his high school career-- the New Hampshire Meet of Champions and the New England Championships-- and I hope to make it to at least one of them.

Regular, less verbose, running-related related posts will resume on Sunday. Best of luck to everyone as they enter their championship seasons!