Saturday, February 26, 2011

9 small, medium and large things (with thanks to FastBastard for presumably tolerating the plagiarism)

1. Small: I am fat and out shape. But I am aware enough to realize my fatness and out of shapeness exists only on the runner scale. On the general population scale I am nicely average. My first clue that I have packed on some pounds is always that my hubby finds me attractive. Given my primary mission right now, getting knocked up, being fat & out of shape on the runner scale is probably where I want to be. So it's okay. One weird thing I have noticed in my post-pardum body: i used to gain weight on my thighs and butt but keep a flat stomach. Now I have the thighs I always wanted but a nicely burgeoning pot belly. What's up with that? Hormonal changes after pregnancy? Aging affecting fat storage? Why have I morphed from pear to apple?

2. Small: I did not know of Justin Beaver's existence until last week. Then I spent a week thinking he was Justin Beaver. I have since been educated and now know that his name is, in fact, Justin Bieber.  I am strangely proud of this.

3. Medium (but very disturbing): I cannot name, without googling it, all of the countries in North Africa & the Middle East in which there are protests and revolutions occurring. Although I realize that change is sweeping through this region and that this series of uprisings is and will be of great historical importance. I only have the vaguest idea of what is going on. I am deeply ashamed of my ignorance.

4. Medium: 95% of my caloric intake these past few weeks has been from simple carbs and refined sugar. This no doubt explains, in part, #1. I realize this is far from ideal but I did not realize how far off track I had gotten until I read SteveQ's post about his diet. Waaaaaaay off track.

5. Medium: I am hiring. I recently had to chose between excellent grades and excellent interviewing skills. I chose the former. My decision was deeply impacted by recent happenings at work. On a different day or in a different context, I might have chosen the latter. Important outcomes are so often influenced by hidden factors, factors far beyond the control of the person seeking the outcome. It is so important not to get discouraged by a "no" because it very often has only peripheral bearing on the person being told no.

6. Off-the-scale-huge: I continue to wrestle with terrible emotional angst and conflict. This journey has been life altering, painful (in so many ways). It is far from over. I am somewhat wiser. I am trying to get to where I need to be. But if I ever arrive, I realize that my piece is only half the puzzle. I have no control over the other half. I didn't really realize until I wrote this that this is very much related to #5.

7. Small: I did a kick ass work-out today (despite #1). 10 miles with a downwards ladder of intervals: 2.4 km (@3:57 per km), 2 km (@3:53 per km), 1.6 km (@3:47 per km), 1.2 km (@3:47 per km), 0.8km (@3:45 per km).

8. Large: La cocotte's vocabulary has exploded. She does not speak much but she can readily identify many household objects and pictures in her books. It is so strange that suddenly, when I ask her where her nose is, she knows! She understands! There has been processing going on in that adorable pumpkin head of hers. I mean, of course there has been processing, but here is irrefutable evidence that she gets it. Also frightening because if she understands when I ask her where her or my nose is, maybe she also understands when I let lose a string of curses when I drop a bag of groceries on the floor. Other newly acquired skills include,
* disposing of her own diaper in the diaper pail after diaper change time (cute but problematic bc she wants to do it IMMEDIATELY after the dirty diaper comes off which often results in my chasing my bare bummed toddler around the house trying to diaper her before she lets loose!).
* bringing daddy his glasses and watch and putting both on him in the morning (this no doubt means "Up! Up! get UP! and play with me").
*signing more for more juice
* completing puzzles (those wooden cut-out type puzzles)
* opening doors (she has been able to close them for a long time)

9. Large: I really, really want to get pregnant this month. Statistically I will not. Did you know that humans are one of the least fertile mammalian species? I am trying to work on being okay if I never have another child. I have so many things to be thankful for, it seems almost selfish to ask for the gift of another child. I have so many other areas in my life that could desperately use some of my time and energy. Yet the yearning remains.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Baby Vomit

Prediction: this post sets a new record low for least amount of reads... even on this scarcely read blog.
What is it about a toddler that allows them to be merrily toddling along, haphazardly pulling the entire 200 kleenix from a box or, say, testing gravity (yet again) with the box of cheerios one moment. The very next moment, they casually lean over and vomit an improbably large volume of fluid (larger than one would have thought could be contained in the toddler belly) and, without missing a beat, return immediately and cheerfully to the task at hand (removing the next hundred kleenix from the box for example).

I rarely puke. La cocotte very rarely pukes (three times only in her wee life - she gets it from me) yet strangely we have both puked in the past week. I saw strangely because what I had (bad chestnuts) was not catching. The adult vomiting experience is all shaking and moaning and profuse sweating, so far removed from the casual toddler experience. Also the adult experience smells just so, so much worse regardless of how much time has passed since whatever is coming out went in. Along those lines, ever notice that babies and toddlers don't have morning breath? It is all baby goodness all the time. Also how is it possible that the toddler can have a fever of 40 degrees and still have the energy for bookcase climbing and garbage emptying and laptop stealing, whereas a fever of 40 degrees sees me passed out in bed for days? It's almost like the toddler is a super hero, impervious to puke and fever and bad breath.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Race Report: The I'm-not-pregnant-again-1/2-Marathon-turned-10km

No one is ever going to hire me to brand their races... I come up with such terrible names. I discovered on Friday that I was not expecting. I had been expecting not to be expecting but hoping to be expecting nonetheless. Anyhow once it was clear I was not to have any expectations on the baby front this month, I began searching for racing possibilities for the week-end and came across the Hypothermic Half Marathon. I ran this in 2009 as a consolation for not being pregnant and wanted to do so again. But it was sold out. My training partner encouraged me to call up the race director and talk my way in as an "elite" athlete. Ah... the misplaced enthusiasm of training partners... I decided to bury my pride and make the call which went something like this:

me: "Hi, I understand the Hypothermic Half marathon is sold out for this week-end but I was wondering if you had any room for elite athletes. Well, not elite per say but somewhat fast. Ok I'm not super fast right now but I feel confident that I would place in the top 5. [Long, uncomfortable silence, which prompted me to continue blathering]. I ran this race in 2009 and was second, I think I could really, probably place in the top 5... or top 10... almost certainly."

disinterested employee: "yeah, sorry, we're sold out."

So, onwards I looked for other racing possibilities and found the first race of the local circuit at which I used to be a regular was this week-end. I signed up for the 10 km.

I am out of shape. Let's just say that I have been training about as much as I have been writing about training. Since the New Year I have had the occasional, oddball 50 mile week but most of my weeks have been around 30 miles (and those 30 miles are usually run between Friday and Sunday with not much else the rest of the week). I am following the trying-to-get-pregnant training plan i.e. train hard between day 1-11 of cycle (and not even so hard then) and then nothing but easy running (or nothing at all) until the end of the cycle. I was expecting to run somewhere between 39 and 40 minutes... and that's exactly what I did, 39:06 to be exact. I split the 5 km in 19:37 and managed to come back with a solid negative split of 19:29. Slowest km was 4:18 - uphill into the wind, fastest km was 3:33 (same km run in reverse).

All in all, it was fun to exert myself even in the -18 deg C temperatures. It was good to get back out there and run a competitive race. Exciting to be passed and try to hang on and to pass and try to break away. I had forgotten about that good old racing vibe. Also it's nice to know where I am at i.e. what kind of times I can run on bare bones basic training. Makes me think if I can be a bit more consistent, actually do some work-outs, I can get back down to sub-38 again in time for the spring road race season. If I get even fitter than that, and really ready to race hard, than undoubtedly I will get pregnant and forfeit my spring road racing season... and I would have ZERO complaints about that trade-off :)

p.s. while it is never really fair to play the game of "where would I have placed had I run this race, in looking at the results I think it is safe to say I would have been almost definitely in the top 5. Certainly it probably would have been maybe likely :)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The slowdown factor

Every runner who has toed the line over any distance is all too familiar with the inverse relationship between the distance of the race and the speed of the runner. In other words, inevitably the longer the race, the slower the runner's speed. But how does this relationship play out among the pros? I have been meaning for awhile to plot velocity versus race distance for the world records, male and female in the various road and track distances. Today I am home with food poisoning and unable to concentrate on much between trips to the bathroom (rancid horse chestnuts... ohhhhhhhh) so I thought I would finally get to this post.
Here is the big picture:

A couple of things I find interesting, first the long held belief that the performance gap narrows between the genders at longer distances appears to be absolutely true. It would be nice to have some data points between the marathon and the 100 km to see the progressive narrowing but it is already evident at the marathon distance and even more so at the 100 km distance. As an aside, I thought it was strange that wiki did not post records beyond 100 km - I guess the longer ultras are not IAAF events? Incidentally, at the oddball distances of 15 km, 20 km, 25 km 30 km I could chose from the track or the road record and I thought it was really interesting that the road record was always faster, by a lot! Often more than a minute faster... this is probably due to how rarely these distances are raced on the track versus the road. The 20 km world record road performances were, for both genders, the split on the way to the half marathon world record.

There is also a popularity effect evident in this plot. The marathon data point is out of line with its less glamorous cousins (30 km, 25 km, 20 km, 15 km) to the left. Clearly being a premiere event that is often raced by the fastest of the fast has an important effect on the world record. This effect is also evident in the shorter distances, if we zoom in on the women's data we see that the velocity for the 3 km world record (6.17 m/s) is actually higher than the velocity for the 2 km world record (6.14 m/s) which, even given the huge differences in how frequently these two events are run, is pretty amazing. After all, the 3 km is 1.5 X longer than the 2 km and also at these distances we are on the steep part of the velocity curve:

We also see that the effect of distance is equal between the two genders. Let's get rid of the 100 km data point and look at the two genders together again:

In both cases the big drop off in velocity occurs after the mile, I guess this bend in the curve represents the transition from one metabolic system to another... anaerobic to aerobic? It has been forever since I read about the physiology of running... Also the effect of race distance is very predictive of velocity for both genders. For the men, 95% of the variance is accounted for by the equation 7.991x power -0.103 whereas for women 93% of the variance is accounted for the by the equation 7.1545x power -0.105. Or, for those not familiar with modelling, in plainer terms, say you wanted to know at what velocity the world record would likely be run for some random distance like 18 km for women, you could plug 18 into the above equation which yields 5.28 m/s (NB it would take 56:48 to run 18 km at 5.28 m/s). 93-95% of the variance explained is pretty darn good (at least compared to the data I am normally work with), I guess this means the effect of distance on velocity is governed by very rigid physiological principles. Or something like that.

Finally, for my own entertainment:

Yup, I seem to be governed by a similar yet slower equation.