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Thursday, February 28, 2019

This, that, and karate

I FINALLY took my yellow belt test for Shotokan karate, so we can move on along to some new stuff. I was supposed to test back in September, but I was in Scotland. And then I was supposed to test in December, but I was in Huntsville. The next test was in March...while I plan to be in Mobile for the Azalea Trail 10k! When I told my Sensei that, he pretty much forced me to drive an hour to Ponchatoula and take the test with another group. That all went well; the first belt test is really, really easy so not a big deal (although we learned different sparring defenses for each type of attack, whereas the Dojo in Ponchatoula just defended with a basic punch). Even though we only do the most basic karate, it has an impact on my running. I hope that over time it makes me a stronger person overall, and that I gain strength in muscles or movement planes that running doesn't develop. But in the short term, it leaves me a little sore for Tuesday workouts and, more seriously, does sometimes irritate my hip. How far I progress in karate definitely depends on how much it affects my post-surgical hips (oh, and also my coordination. You know.)

Training has been going mostly well. I hit about 265 miles for February, good for a short month, and the majority of my workouts went really well. This is totally surprising considering I had a marathon earlier in the month and was struggling with anemia for about half the month. I don't actually know my iron status now, but at this point I'm much more attuned to the symptoms than I was before, and I can hazard that I'm doing better. The thing is, my ferritin is so very low that I become symptomatic right away with any blood loss, because I don't have any back up stores! Right now, we don't have a cause for the problem, but the educated guess is some kind of autoimmune destruction of platelets. No mature platelets = no clotting = blood loss = anemia. If blood work bears that theory out, I think we'll do a short course of steroids to see if that helps. I have already been screened for various clotting disorders and thrombocytopenias when I had chronic nosebleeds in my early 20's, so that narrows things down (weird that I've already been through this sort of thing, though).

But actually, I am running pretty well! Even without being fully oxygenated! I like to think that anemia is kind of like altitude training, ha! Here are some of my more key workouts from the month:

20 miles with 4x2 at marathon pace. I actually struggled on this run. My marathon pace looked pretty good, but my rest paces were supposed to be aerobic and I had to run them easy instead. I also felt like DYING that day. This was the first long run - workout in the Boston cycle (we actually did 20 the week before, but no pace goal, just finish strong).

7x1k on the track. This workout was the Tuesday following the 20 miler described above, and I could tell I felt better. I ran 3:58, :55, :52, :54, :53, :57, :55. This is mostly notable because we repeated the workout later so I have a comparison - see below!

10 miles with 3xtempo, 2xtempo with 2 minute jog between. Less than a week after my "long run marathon" and I hit 6:31, :30, :34 followed by 6:32, :23. The final 6:23 gave me confidence that the marathon didn't tear me down too much, and gave me confidence that I was on the right track with workout paces.

Worst tempo ever. Six mile road tempo - not that bad, right? Uh... I totally bombed with workout. I couldn't even hit marathon pace. Maybe it was hot, maybe it was the puddle jumping, maybe I was just exhausted? I was feeling terrible that night, but everyone else had a bad night, too, so it could have just been weather related. It was hot, humid, and raining.

16 with 10 at marathon pace: This long run went really well. I averaged 6:47 for ten miles, and it was ten miles on the roads with no stopping. I think being able to run that pace on variable surfaces without taking water breaks or anything is very good for me. By the way, 6:47 is NOT my marathon goal pace, but it was what my effort brought me that day. My goal pace is 6:54.

8x1k on the track. A few weeks later and one rep longer and I ran 3:59, :51, :47, :48, :52, :47, :49, :49. Faster. Good!

It's kind of crazy to me that I've felt my running improve this month, even while I have been dealing with a health problem that directly impacts my running. The human body is amazing! I also want to note that our group separated out into two teams for Boston training: Boston high mileage, for those rock stars like Paige running 6:18s for MP (!!!). They're hitting multiple 90-mile weeks. And Boston low mileage, which includes me, and I am doing much better there. Grouping us all together held the fast people back, and it was more than I could physically handle. I'm not durable enough for that stuff, and I think a training plan with fewer miles makes sense. Sadly, I am still alone for training: our group is too small but also too fast for me to have any training partners at my pace!


  1. I guess I missed that you were doing karate or forgot. Either way, that’s really cool. Hopefully you continue to enjoy and benefit from it and it doesn’t keep bothering your hip.

  2. Bummer that you have to run alone but it sounds like running in the "lower" mileage group (which is still pretty high!) is the smart decision! I hope you get to the bottom of your anemia issues. It sucks to not feel well, especially when you are training hard for a race! My sister is running Boston, too, so I'll have 2 runners to track that day!

    Congrats on the karate belt. My coworker did karate with his son and got so into it that he has his 2nd degree black belt! I can see how it's great cross-training. I hope it doesn't irritate your hip too much, though!

  3. That is truly amazing how much quality (and quantity) running you were able to fit in with your health issues. AND marathon recovery, even though you weren't racing all out. Your body seems to be adapting well. Also, congrats on the belt! That's so cool!!!