Laura’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day (Week)

Note I am having a very bad week (relatively speaking) – I know I am very lucky and am appreciative of my health, my family, my friends…but:
  • I am back at work vs. being on an awesome vacation in the Philippines watching the sunrise on a sandy beach
  • Kennys dad went into hospice so he is helping his parent out for a few weeks.  Not good.  Pushed out shoulder surgery.  This changes my whole years’ plan.  I’m alone in the country without any cats….
  • I am banned from work for being in Asia so being treated like an outcast.  This actually works better for me giving me back 2 hrs in a day…. I know this.
  • Serious jet lag and issues sleeping – burnt my salmon dinner to a crisp while falling asleep at 6pm, waking up around 11 and being up until 4am.  Thank goodness I can roll out of bed at 7:30-8 and work in my pajamas
  • Feeling like I have the very start of a cold – or possibly corona virus!!!!! Not sure if my unusual crippled status after the long run Saturday was jet lag, due to scuba diving decompression, the beginnings of being sick or what.  I’ve felt weird this week after workouts – unusually tired.
  • Thought Monday as a normal day off and it wasn’t so I missed my workout
  • Having “serious” equipment issues with
    • my HR monitor refusing to work
    • bike setup – just spent 30 min at 10 pm trying to get it projecting zwift to TV for various reasons (partly because I’m old and with my exercise contacts in, I can’t see the cable outlet names to change the TV settings to read in the signal from the apple TV device vs. what Kenny flips it to to watch movies while he’s on the adjacent rower…..again, old age).
    • My butt also hurts because I haven’t been on the bike that much.
    • I also had to work super hard to keep a basic 90 rpm – that used to be easy and now, just like running, I am struggling to do the basics of what I did last year.
  • I have this polyp thing (woman issue) requiring a simple day surgery that I can do now with shoulder pushout do but they won’t schedule it for 2 months, which means I continue to have a period like every day for 2 more months – that sucks (TMI I know)
  • Trying to be strict on nutrition – afraid to get on scale after vacation (I was very sensible by thet way and did exercise almost every day).  Must drop at least 5 lbs.  Ate an entire batch of cookie dough this week – total fail but hit macros yesterday 🙂
  • I’m reading this book “endure” which basically says that everything is my fault – that I could be a world class runner as its all mental…..
And my coach wants me to run a record mile time despite me being a minute slower despite hard effort in the recent weeks.  Is it mental?  My body is stuck in slow mode and hes trying to break me out of it.
At least I have my new Toto toilet (higher to help my quads when they hurt sitting down), and Toto washlet that sprays, heats, lights up and keeps itself clean.

Best Mornings Ever and Avoiding Decompression Sickness in the Philippines

Oh, I’ll miss this! 5:30am Coffee.  Watch the sunrise. Then we would head out for a morning run before the first dive.  I found some good friends there – Amanda and Jake – to share the sunrises and to sweat with up stairs, on the rooftops, up mountains and on the beach.

We did 3-5 dives a day for 10 days down to 98′ in Puerto Galera and Dumaguete. There appears to be a lack of science behind exercising before diving.  After diving, some data shows that if you do intense exercise, you increase risk of microbubbles in your bloodstream which put you at risk for decompression sickness (DCS).  DAN recommends not exercising 24 hours before and after diving to reduce the residual nitrogen in tissues and blood.  Normal air is 21% O2, 78% Nitrogen.  Every 33′ in depth, the pressure due to nitrogen increases by 11.6 psi causing more of it to dissolve into tissues.  Affects of this can be mitigated by:

  • Following dive tables (time at depth, surface time)
  • Diving with nitrox (31% oxygen to reduce total amount of nitrogen being inhaled)
  • Not ascending too fast and doing safety stop
  • Not flying until 18 hrs after diving
  • No hard exercise after diving
  • Hydrate!
  • Avoid alcohol

Think of what happens when you open a soda can, which releases pressure.  This effect is similar as to what causes DCS when you don’t moderate the release of pressure.

We chose to ignore the before and did around 45″ of pre-dive crossfit/running daily and didn’t suffer any affects.  Add that to the scientific data!

Signs of decompression sickness (DCS):

  • Joint pain
  • Headache
  • Dizziness, confusion
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble breathing
  • Inability to urinate
  • Ear ringing

I also think its BS when people say diving burns 400-700 cal/hr.  People may be tired from the sun, exposure to cool water, but it is not due to exertion.

We were just three crazies running with the hounds on the white sands.

In Puerto Galera, we did a stair circuit including rooftop pushups, burpees, air squats and jumping lunges.  What a beautiful view from the roof!

There was also a 3 mile loop up the mountain (320′ elevation) behind us with amazing views up top, a run through town, and a run along the beach at the end:

The diving itself was amazing;

When we were in Dumaguete, we spent one day running partially up a mountain next to farms with chicken and oxen, passing families on motorinos…

Then decided beach runs were more fun and more scenic!  Had one day doing short runs incorporated into 4 rounds of a crossfit workout involving pushups, air squats, planks, burpees and others with just a long run or a run made up of sprints:

Never got tired of that sunrise…

I did lose 1.5 days in bed due to what I think was sickness/nausea due to the water 🙂  It has been a struggle this year emotionally – perhaps because of the upcoming shoulder surgery, or long nights, or ?  This was a great trip also because we just exercised for fun.  I did a long run day we flew out, missed it next weekend just because there wasn’t time, and did a 1:50 run day after we returned so got them all in per training plans.

Who wants to be average?!

It hurts way less than that Nashoba hill… Mental prep for lactate threshold runs

Last week I was working in London and had a 30″ tempo run.  My coaches notes said “you will need to be VERY focused and maintain concentration throughout the run.  Get amped up before going!”  These 5k type speed runs are my most dreaded workout.  I was listening to a podcast where a 100-200 miler was being interviewed and she said she’d rather run 100 miles than do a 5k.  They’re hard!!  I’m out of my element these days.  Mentally I’m pissed because when I was 17, I could run 8″/mile pace for as long as I wanted and I struggle to get that for just one mile today.

I have to get past comparing myself to when I was 17.  I know this 🙂

I had a few revelations around/in this run:

  • It should be fun.  Holler, smile, say hello to folks.  Have a more positive attitude knowing you will be better for doing it and don’t take it too seriously.  I am an amateur after all – back of the pack right now so I can only get better!
  • In the middle of the run I compared myself to what I felt like running up that 2 min Nashoba hill and realized I was way, way better off.  This was not even painful.  That put things in perspective.  That hill is my new comparative for what being close to utter failure feels like (that day stays in my head I almost literally fell over about 30′ from the top from poor pacing).  It wasn’t that bad really.
  • I’ve been wheezing and my breath is more limiting than my legs so I may get an inhaler to help out in this cold weather.

I ended up doing a 9:13/mile pace, way faster than the 9:37/mile I did 12/25/19.  It also takes time to get your pacing back and acclimate to speed work after the long runs.  I was pretty discouraged at my start of year benchmarks but after a few weeks, I think I am better than last year.  I also researched a little on how these extra 10 lbs affect me, which I calculate as being worth 2 s/mile/pound or a good 20-30 seconds.  Working that.

I ran around and around St. James Park, which has just spectacular huge trees, beautiful against the moonlight.

There is always fun/drama during the run.  I got slightly slowed in second mile as I started to pace with the ducks quacking!  My eyes cried a few times for no reason, and I think concentrating on not tripping and falling took my mind off the run.  Good effort with 30 s/mile improvement since December 25 for same distance!

Hello Old Friend, 2/2/20

It’s been a while since we’ve spent time together!  Nashua rail trail has been a steady place to do longer flat runs but I left it in June of last year to hit the trails and mountains.  Doing 80″ “long” Sunday runs adding 10 min a week – around the same time as last year but in Z3 vs. Z2 and @ 180 cadence (last year I didn’t start using metronome until spring).  Keeping up the cadence adds pressure for sure!

Lesson learned last year:  You will always be tired at the end of a workout.  You will always think, if I’m this tired at this distance/time, how will I ever make it for as long as I need to go….. but you will.  Doing intervals, doing hills will never be “easy” but your recovery after will be shorter.  Last year, I would have been absolutely crippled for the rest of day with my lower back issues – mostly resolved!



Bruise is fake.  Took a wilderness first aid class two weeks ago with NOLS through REI.  As my distances in the mountains/trails get longer, I feel much better feeling a little competent around how to help myself or someone else with an injury.

I also debriefed with my PT biomechanics master, Mike Roberts, this week about last years races and my current hip pain.  Had a few interesting thoughts:

  • Durability takes time to build up.  I slowed down the second half of both long races.  This year I hope to be more consistent with a year of experience/mileage under me.
  • Even though I still have hip pain, which started on the flatter long runs after Killington, he thinks its not because of some mobility issue to fix but normal recovery and a little beefing up of my glue mead will help as well.
  • Training/performance for a high elevation race like Killington (12,200′) vs. the Stone Cat 50k (2,500′) is different.  Going up and down hills alternates which muscles are being used.  Continuous flatter runs are beating the crap out of the same ones the whole race.  That didn’t occur to me when I thought StoneCat would just be super easy vs Killington and it crushed me.
  • He thinks a little run downtime during my upcoming shoulder surgery is great timing and will help me fully recover from last year.

My questions remain:

  • How long do you need to recover between races?  How many can you do a year vs. years of experience… I’d like to lay out a plan between now and 100 mile UTMB qualifiers.
  • What does recovered mean?
  • When do you need to just run vs. cross train with bicycle to build up that endurance?  At some point cycling may not stress you enough to get used to it.

2020 Goals: Kilkenney Ridge 50 Miler

I am working first two months to build what strength I can before going into shoulder surgery.  Then it will be a year of rebuilding and lower strength/running trying not to fall and reinjure myself on the trails.  I am still recovering with hip pain from race last November – have to beat this or will be limited this year.  My goals are to get more competent at 30 milers and try this 50 mile, 15,000′ course which will require some rigorous hill training as well/just like last year.

Current primary races:

  • Vermont Ragnar ultra 30 mile
  • Kilkenney Ridge 50 miles, 15000′
  • Stone Cat redo 30 mile, 2500′

I plan to volunteer at the VT 100, which will be my target race in 2021, and is a qualifier for UTMB.

It bothers me a lot being so slow and I think the way to improve that is interval training – I lived in fear of my first interval runs this year.  I have slowed down a lot since the last ones ins August but hopefully will improve quickly.  I am afraid of what I’ve lost and need some experience to understand these training cycles…will feel better when I competently run some long distance and feel strong/better than last year to know that I do have a better base that will payoff this year.

I am excited about trying for a 50 miler and love those long training runs in the woods.  Got my husband a pair of trail shoes so he can throw down a few with me 🙂

Race Schedule 2020

Winter Snowshoe 5k Dion Nor’easters 1/11

Winter Snowshoe 10k Dion Nor’easters early Feb

Half Marathon – early Mar

Shoulder surgery 3/5/19 – out six weeks

Ragnar Zion  5/8 15 mi

30 mile race – end May

Vermont 100 volunteer – Mid July

VT Ragnar Ultra 30 mi – 7/24

Kilkenney Ridge Race 50 mi – 9/19

A Journey in Professional and Personal Continuous Improvement

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