Sunday, August 31, 2008

Week in Review

68-69 miles
1 day off
1 Chocolate Elvis smoothie

Although this week was intended as a recovery week after Hood to Coast, I must confess that I don't feel very recovered at the end of it. Maybe it's from running so many days in the trails, or from doing several long-ish runs at the end of the week, but at any rate I definitely don't feel any spring in my step. I plan to get a massage early next week, which should help, and I may suffer through another ice bath if I don't notice any improvements soon. That said, this week was fabulous in that I was able to do not one, not two, but five runs with other human beings. After having done so much of my recent training solo, I'd almost forgotten how much easier it is when you have someone to talk to. Also, running with others indirectly allowed me to get in almost 50 of this week's miles on dirt instead of pavement, which is 100% better for my body. I know I'm headed into my most difficult month of training yet, and it's the little things like this that will help keep me healthy and injury-free (knock on wood).

Also, I've been remiss in not mentioning Burma Mission and its relevance to my Marine Corps training. One of my motivating factors for running MCM is to raise money for Burma Mission, which is a non-profit humanitarian group that dedicates its time and resources to providing relief to Burmese people in need. As you probably know, Burma has suffered under a repressive and violent junta for years, and their human rights issues have recently been exacerbated by the devastating cyclone that killed thousands upon thousands and left countless more injured, homeless and/or without families. I am currently accepting pledges from people who would like to "sponsor" me to run MCM on behalf of Burma Mission. Some people are pledging a certain amount per mile, while others are donating a specified sum up front. If you are interested in donating (or if perhaps you know a wealthy friend or family member or someone who owes you a favor), I would be absolutely thrilled for you to be a part of this experience. Please email me at and I can give you more information. It's a blessing for me to be able to help others while doing something I enjoy so much.

Sunday at the River

88 mins.
12 miles

For the fourth day of the last five, I ended up at
the river for today's run. Dad was supposed to do 12 and I was attempting 16, so we both agreed that the flat soft surface would be best. I jogged the first 5k loop with him before we parted ways, he to continue around the loop and me to venture out onto Columns Drive. Since the road isn't marked I'm not sure of any splits, but I sure felt like I was hammering. The only mile I timed was the 11th, which was back on the dirt loop, and I went through the marker right at 6:50. At that point I decided to shut it down because my legs were extremely fatigued--undoubtedly still not recovered from Friday's long-ish run--so I wogged back to the car to wait for my dad to finish. My legs have felt tight and heavy all week and I'm hoping to get a massage ASAP. Hopefully the sweet potato pancakes I ate at Highland Bakery (not to mention half of Jeff's peanut butter french toast) will help replenish my glycogen levels.

Me and my parents outside Highland Bakery after brunch
I look gross and I swear my nose isn't that big in real life.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Dad on the AO

64 mins.
8 miles

Since my dad, who is now also under Jazzy Jeff's tutelage, was scheduled to do a tempo-ish run this morning, we decided to hit up the AO. We jogged down there in ~20 mins. to warm up and then I paced him through six laps (almost 3.5 miles) at 7:30 pace. Despite the heat and staggering humidity (we got a late start), he ran very strong and consistent, starting at 7:40 pace and cutting down to about 7:15 for the last mile. Neither of us were thrilled about the uphill run back to my house but overall it made for a solid run.

Friday, August 29, 2008


1 hour 46 mins.
14+ miles

Since my training has been rather haphazard all week, I decided to further confound things by running long on Friday instead of the weekend. Meredith's parents were coming into town, as were mine, and we both wanted to get it out of the way before family time. With that in mind, I met her and Jim at 7am at the Cochran Shoals parking lot and we set off. The humidity was up but temps were quite cool. As this was my third day in a row to run in the hilly and technical trails, my legs were quite exhausted by the end of the run. This may've only been 14 but it felt like 20. That said, it was great to get my long-ish effort out of the way. Driving to the river three days in a row is a bit excessive, but to be honest it's well worth it to have company each day and to rack up ~35 miles on soft surfaces.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Chocolate Elvis Run

AM: 70 mins.
10 miles
PM: 30 mins.
4 miles

I met Jeff at the river and we basically ended up replicating my run from yesterday. We kept the pace pretty uptempo, but by the end we were both dragging. He's still a bit run down from Hood to Coast and I just get tuckered out trying to keep up on the technical trails, so we were both quite relieved to reach the parking lot at the end. Afterward we took a quick trip to Planet Smoothie and each enjoyed a Chocolate Elvis smoothie, which was undoubtedly the 500-calorie highlight of the morning.

I'm pretty much fully recovered from Hood to Coast, but man are my legs tired. I'm glad we're taking an easy week. My 'rents roll into town tomorrow so I'm looking forward to some easy runs with my dad and a free meal or five.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Doubling Up

AM: 78 mins.
~10.5 miles
PM: 30 mins.
4 miles

My second attempt to meet up with Meredith at the river proved successful. I met her and Jim around 7:30 after already having gotten in ~30 minutes on my own and we headed up into the trails. The terrain was quite muddy and uneven in some parts, thanks to 72 straight hours of rain, and the steep ascents felt especially arduous on my still-fatigued legs. That said, it was so enjoyable to run with the two of them and get to know them both better. I'm hoping we can get into a regular meeting routine soon.

Did a quick Highlands loop in the evening. The rain seems to be on its way out and has been replaced with an autumn-like breeze, which feels quite nice. The August weather hasn't been as bad as I'd feared, and I can't wait for the season to segue permanently into fall.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Raining Cross-Training

AM: 50 mins. ellip
15 mins. core
PM: 30 min. walk

Today is the first day in over a month that I did not run a single step, and it felt terrific. I intended to meet Meredith at the river early this morning, but when my alarm sounded at 6:15 I awoke to a torrential downpour. Set it for 6:45, woke up again, still raining. After that I decided to turn it off completely and didn't move again until almost 8:45. I rarely sleep this late (and I went to bed just after 10 last night), so I took it as a sign that my body was still recovering from Hood to Coast.

With that in mind, I had a few options. I could take the day off completely and go on with my life like a normal non-exercise-obsessed person. Or I could run in the monsoon like a crazy exercise-obsessed person. Or I could buy a day pass at a local gym and do some cross-training instead. In the end I opted for option #3, which I considered the most rational of the bunch. I actually enjoyed spending some time on the elliptical and attempting some pushups and ab work (which, sadly, will make me sore tomorrow). Today marks the first day since Friday night that I can sit down without holding onto something for assistance like an elderly person, which means my quads are almost back to normal, and I'm confident this off day was just what I needed to facilitate recovery.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Red Eye Hangover

45 mins.
6 miles

If I had to use one adjective to describe today, it would be "groggy." Courtesy of the Tylenol PM I took on the tarmac last night, I slept through my entire flight from Seattle to Atlanta. That's the good part. The bad part is, all I wanted to do for the rest of the day was continue sleeping. However, after a brief nap, I busied myself catching up with office work and other Brooks-related business. It poured rain on and off throughout the day and for a moment I considered not running at all. Then around 4:30 there was a break in the clouds so I headed out for a quick Candler Park loop. My body feels fine with the exception of my quads, which are quite sore and painful to the touch. I contemplated getting a massage but I'm scared to apply any pressure to the area for fear I would scream and cry like a little girl. Instead I'm content to take it pretty easy for the next few days until I feel recovered.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Week in Review

86 miles
30 hours in the van
1 red eye flight

Wow. What a week. I don't even know what else to say. Hood to Coast was an amazing, exhausting, rewarding experience and I'm so glad I decided to participate again this year. While I had to forego my long run and I'm pretty sure I won't be able to attempt any hard workouts next week, I can say without question that it was worth it. I'm looking forward to a solid recovery week and a night's sleep in my own bed.

The Morning After

52 mins.
7 miles

After the soundest ten-hour sleep of my entire life (albeit in a condo housing 20 other people), Gen and I and a few of the guys from the Brooks men's elite team decided to embark on a shakeout/recovery jaunt through the streets of Seaside before boarding the vans back to Seattle. The first five minutes were some of the most painful I have ever experienced, as my quads are indescribably sore. Every bend, squat, shift and step hurts in some way. That said, as the run progressed I began to feel marginally better, and I'm glad I got out there. Chances are I'll stiffen back again on my red eye flight home tonight, but at least I can say I put in the effort.

Now that the dust has settled and the results have been tallied, I am pleased to announce that our team placed third overall in the corporate mixed category in a respectable 21:30:57. Also, our men's elite team placed second out of the entire 1200+ team field in 17:21:52. As for myself, after 18 miles, 2 hours of sleep, 3 Clif bars, about a dozen rice krispie treats and countless baby wipe "showers," I considered my Hood to Coast experience a rousing success. Once the soreness abates and my sleeping patterns return to normal, I'll be looking forward to next year's race. Victory in the morning!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Hood to Coast: Third Leg, or "Victory in the Morning"

~5 min. w/u
5.77 miles @ 36:07 (~6:15 pace)
~4 min. c/d
Total: 7 miles
Course map

I didn't sleep at all between my second and third legs, but we did stop at Starbucks for some early morning caffeine, so I felt relatively awake and lucid at go time. Temperatures spiked dramatically after sunrise, and by the time our van took over for the third and final time at 9:30am, it was well over 75 degrees. My legs were absolutely trashed at this point and I was dreading another long leg with a substantial uphill in the middle. After reviewing the course rating, I discovered that my leg was ranked third hardest on our team, and I was definitely feeling this by the third leg. My goal was to run 6:40 pace but I doubted whether that was possible. Nonetheless, when I took off I was determined to give it absolutely everything I had. Rick's continuous war cry throughout the entire race was "Victory in the morning!" and I figured I should at least do my part to make that a reality on my third and final effort. By this point we had caught up with a much larger group of teams, and I counted 16 people that I passed on this leg as I ran through the undulating country roads. The last two miles comprised 1.5 miles uphill followed by a steep downhill, and by the time I approached the uphill I felt as though I was barely moving. When I crested the hill and began to pick up speed, I decided since my quads were already screwed I might as well sprint it in. I handed off to Alex at pretty much full speed and was pleasantly surprised to see my split. From there it was a quick jog followed by a celebratory Corona that Tara and I shared in the van to cap off the run. Now all we had to do was enjoy the ride while the rest of our van ran, then cruise to the finish in Seaside to watch our team come in several hours later. I can honestly say that the shower I enjoyed at our rented condo that afternoon was one of the best in recent memory...all it needed was some peach Lindeman's.


Hood to Coast: Second Leg, or "In the Still of the Night"

~2 min. w/u
6.06 miles @ 39:35 (~6:35 pace)
~8 min. c/d
Total: 8 miles
Course map

After a fitful two-hour nap, our van rolled into downtown Portland around 2am to make the second exchange with Van 2. I was groggy, stiff, and completely uninterested in running any time in the near future. Unfortunately, Tara only had a four mile leg and then it was my turn again. At this point it was obviously pitch black and quite chilly outside, so I probably should've taken a longer warm up, but honestly I was just not in the mood. I took off from the outskirts of downtown Portland and ran through the streets of an industrial area pretty much the entire way. Had this run taken place in daylight it wouldn't have been described as scenic, but at 3am I didn't really care that much. I was just grateful that the streets were well lit and the footing was even, because I needed all the help I could get at that point. The darkness deceives you into thinking you're moving at a faster rate than you actually are, so while I felt like I was flying I was actually plodding along at a fairly pedestrian pace. Unlike my first leg, I actually saw a few other runners on this route, and passed 4-5 people along the way. My legs grew heavy toward the end and all I could focus on was grinding it out and handing off the bracelet to Alex as soon as possible. After I finally reached my destination and made it through the transition zone, I jogged down the road a bit to cool down before the van picked me up. I was now 2/3 of the way done and had nothing to do but play the waiting game for another six hours.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Hood to Coast: First Leg, or "She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain"

~5 min w/u
5.67 miles @ 33:30 (~5:52 pace)
~5 min c/d
Total: 7 miles
Course map

Van 1 teammates at Brooks headquarters before our journey
L to R: Liz, Rick, Alex, Bri, Tara, me

After a traffic-intensive drive from Seattle to Portland, we arrived at the top of Mt. Hood around 6:30 pm. What a breathtaking view! Since I was in Van 2 last year (which doesn't go to the start of the race), this was my first time to journey to the top of the mountain and witness our team's sendoff. Through a combination of predicted time and lottery, we literally were among the final 7-8 teams to start the race, and our Hood to Coast experience kicked off at exactly 7:45pm. Tara Schwager, one of our customer service girls, ran the first leg and would hand off to me after about six miles. I would then continue down the mountain (literally) for another ~6 before handing off to a guy named Alex who works at our outlet store in Bothell. He handed off to Bri (customer service), who passed to Rick (sales VP), who passed to Liz (apparel sales), who then handed off to the first person on Van 2. Such would be the rotation throughout the entire race.

The ladies of Van 1 at the start: Liz, Bri, myself, Tara

By the time I got the baton (read: slap bracelet) circa 8:30, daylight was waning rapidly. Though temperatures were in the upper 50s at this point, the humidity was rather high and I worked up a sweat pretty quickly. Race rules mandated that each of us wear a reflective vest and carry a flashlight during the night runs, and I was glad to have both as I weaved down the mountain around hairpin turns amid relatively heavy traffic. Everyone had warned me to neither push nor hold back on this leg, but rather to let the mountain carry me in hopes of preserving my quads for the next two legs. I tried to take this advice and concentrated on maintaining relaxed breathing and a comfortable stride. I also opted to wear a heavier shoe instead of a racing flat on this leg, which proved to be a wise decision. I've never run downhill for six miles straight before and it was definitely a strange feeling. It would've taken a tremendous effort to stop my downward propulsion; fortunately I didn't trip or stub a toe or anything because it would've been all over.

Van 1 at the start line

When I handed off to Alex at the next exchange I was shocked to see my split. If only running 5:50 pace could feel that effortless all the time! I jogged around for a few minutes and immediately popped an ibuprofen to prevent some soreness in my quads, but I could tell almost immediately that I was pretty toasted. At this point it was time to rest, hydrate and refuel for approximately six hours before my next run. I was just hoping to still be able to walk by then. Remind me again why I signed up for this??

Life is Short, Run Long

AM: 60 mins.
8 miles
PM: Hood to Coast!

Gen and I awoke this morning to a pleasant 57 degree temperature and decided to go for an easy shakeout on the bike path. We ran out and back for about 30 minutes together before parting ways, she to go back to the hotel and me to add on a few more minutes. As I was winding along the path I noticed a bench with some flowers on it. Only as I got closer did I realize it was the memorial for Liz Duncan, a former Brooks custo
mer service employee who was tragically killed when she was hit by a car during a run last year. I didn't know Liz, but she is always spoken of as a beautiful and vibrant girl who touched everyone with her kind spirit and her love for others. I lingered a few minutes at the bench, noting the bronzed shoes and the memorial plaque inscribed with what's become her honorary motto: "Life Is Short, Run Long." I teared up for a moment as I thought about how that has so many life applications, both literal and metaphorical. I sincerely hope that at the end of every day I can look back and say that I have lived that mantra out.

As I type this, I'm sitting at the hotel preparing to head over to our office and board one of the vans that's bound for Oregon. It's hard to believe that 24 hours from now I will have run 3 more times and be completely finished with my Hood to Coast role. I'm excited and nervous and eager to get the race underway. I'll catch you on the other side.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Taking it to the West Side

AM: 75 mins.
10 miles

PM: 27 mins.
~4 miles

Bridge connecting the Sammamich River bike path

After getting in an easy ten miles this morning, I headed off to the airport to catch my 11:30 flight. I'm happy to report that my travel experience was much smoother and less stressful than last week, albeit just about as long. I'd forgotten that it takes five hours to travel from Atlanta to Seattle, even on a nonstop flight. After arriving, my already long afternoon was exacerbated by having to wait over two hours for my friend/coworker/HTC teammate Genevieve to arrive from Boston. By the time we made it to the luxurious Country Inn and Suites down the street from our corporate office, I was hungry enough to gnaw my arm off. It was only 5pm here but felt like 8 to my confused body, and the last thing I wanted to do was go for a run. However, Gen and Carson (one of our bosses who was kind enough to come pick us up) had not run yet, so we set out for a quick jaunt on the bike path. I stole a tasty fresh-baked cookie from the hotel lobby just before we left, and I'm convinced that's what gave me the energy to make it through. Not to mention how much nicer the weather is--what a treat to finish a run not dripping with sweat! Hood to Coast starts tomorrow evening, so I plan on getting in a nice shakeout run in the morning and then preparing for the big weekend.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Miss Congeniality

AM: 90 mins.
12 miles
PM: 25 mins.
3 miles

Today I had the pleasure of meeting and running with a potential new running partner and/or friend, Meredith. I met Meredith's husband Jim at Phidippides (a local running store) a few weeks ago, and he and I struck up a convo about marathon training. Turns out he and Meredith just moved to Atlanta a few months ago from Florida, where they both ran track and xc at Florida State, and are both looking for new places to run and people to run with. He passed my info along to Meredith and we started corresponding from there. Since they live within half a mile from the river, that seemed like the logical first meeting place, so we planned to meet in the Columns Drive parking lot circa 7:45. I arrived a little after 7:00 and did about 35 minutes on my own, then joined Meredith for another 40 minutes through the trails. It was a beautiful morning and the conversation flowed, so the run was very enjoyable (minus the one time I tripped over a root and almost fell headfirst downhill--luckily I caught myself with my (green) lightning fast reflexes just in the nick of time). After parting ways, I decided to continue for another few miles, since I was sure I wouldn't be able to run this evening due to a work engagement. Meredith and I made plans to meet again next week when I return from Hood to Coast, and I'm excited to get to know her better. Just call me Miss Congeniality.

Almost equally exciting, my help ended up not being needed at the spike night I was supposed to attend, so I managed to sneak in a quick shakeout through the Highlands this evening. My legs felt decent, the one upside to bailing on the workout yesterday, and I kept the pace slow and relaxed throughout. Now it's time to overpack my bags and get ready to hit up the west coast tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Jilane Kind of Day

25 min. w/u (3+ miles)
Target: 2k in 7:30 (w/800m rest), mile in 5:55 (400m rest), 1200m in 4:21 (400m), 1k in 3:35 (400m), 800 in 2:44 (200m), 600 in 2:08 (200m), 400 in 65 (200m), 200 fast (collapse on track)
Actual: 2k in 7:33 (800m), mile in 5:59 (400m), 1200 in 4:22. Kicked off the track.
23 min. c/d (3 miles)
Total: 10 miles

After a lower mileage weekend and a lackluster run yesterday, I was really hoping for a solid workout this morning. But, alas, it was not to be. Unfortunately the combination of arriving home at midnight last night, plus needing to catch up on office work, plus having a 9:30am conference call resulted in me not even heading out to the track until after 10. At this point it was dreadfully hot and humid (not sure where last week's mild weather went), and I was feeling sluggish and thirsty before the workout even started.

That said, I ran the first few intervals decently, but could tell I was losing steam quickly. My fatigue dovetailed nicely with the arrival of the world's largest PE class. That's right, high school is back in session here in this glorious state, and apparently they're trying to induce heat exhaustion on all their students. That's the only logical explanation for why a coach would bring a class of 50 15-year-old kids out to the track in the middle of the day in August. Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for that, but at least have the courtesy to wait until I'm done wogging. For a millisecond I entertained the idea of continuing the workout on the AO, but I knew it would only go downhill and I wasn't up for the humiliation. If I'm gonna go to the well this week, I'd rather it be during Hood to Coast. Would've loved to double this evening, but I had a work event from 5 to 9, so I'm hoping to catch up on mileage during the back half of the week.

Oh, by the way, the title is her words, not mine. =)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Norman Run

70 mins.
10 miles

Easy run with Jordan and Scotty D. through the streets of Norman. We left Campus Lodge at 8am, met Scotty along Brooks, then continued to meander through the neighborhoods for another hour or so. It rained on us pretty much the entire time (and basically nonstop for the rest of the day), so the temperature was quite pleasant. I expected my legs to feel light and refreshed after an easy weekend, but for some reason I felt pretty heavy and sluggish throughout. No double today, as I will be traveling home into the wee hours. Hopefully with fewer obstacles than last time.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Week in Review

73 miles
1 massage
2 rental cars

Had I followed the prescribed schedule this week, I would've run right at 85 miles. As I type this on Tuesday morning, I'm actually kind of glad that I fell short. I'm of the personality type that always wants to do more or better than I did the previous week, and an 85-mile week would've set me up to keep attempting higher and higher mileage the next few weeks. Sounds good in theory, but I know my body's limits, and it would be too much. I do want to be a bit higher than 73--closer to 80 is ideal--but I'm comfortable with not exceeding that, at least for the remainder of this month.

The positives from this week: two solid, though not spectacular, workouts AND a massage. My hamstring is starting to get tight again, but Jordan wailed on it Sunday night, so I hope to see some immediate improvements. The negatives: the two intense workouts plus the front-loaded mileage and travel had me very tired by Sunday. I'm traveling again this weekend to Seattle and Oregon to run on a Brooks team for the Hood to Coast relay, and I hope I'm able to turn in a solid performance. Two weekends in a row of experiencing a different training environment will be refreshing as well.

Nine weeks and counting.

Lazy Sunday

72 mins.
10+ miles

In stark contrast to yesterday, today was filled with...a whole lot of nothing. I am not exaggerating when I say we did not move at all from when we awoke circa 8am until just after 2pm. We got more than our fill of Olympic equestrian jumping (or whatever they call it), badminton, table tennis, trampolining, soccer, and several others that I'm sure I'm leaving out. Finally our feelings of lethargy, exacerbated by my increasing hunger levels, motivated us to actually get up and be functioning members of society for a few hours. We made a mad dash to the grocery store, arrived home in time to watch the mens 10,000m race, and then continued to procrastinate our run for a bit longer. Actually, we were in sort of an unspoken contest with Jilane to see who could put it off the longest.

By the time 6pm rolled around, we knew we had to get out the door. I had 14 miles "hard" on tap and was sure from the outset that that wasn't happening. Instead we routed a 10-mile loop from Campus Lodge through the streets of Norman, keeping a fairly uptempo pace the whole time, and then closed the last two miles in under 6:40 pace. I felt decent for an evening run, but not spectacular by any means, and felt moderately guilty for cutting yet another day's run (and my weekly mileage) short.

I blame Jordan. Obviously.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Slingin' Shoes

32 mins.
4 miles

After finally recovering from the emotional roller coaster that was yesterday's travel experience, I was ready for a relaxing Saturday in Norman. Unfortunately, that's not what I got. Jordan and I ran 4 easy in the morning and planned to do another hour or so in the evening. He was scheduled to work at OK Runner, and lured me to the store as well on the premise that we would leave when things started to die down. Instead, we ended up participating in one of OK Runner's top sales days ever. From the moment we walked in at 10am until the moment the store closed we were absolutely slammed. Gus, Sarah, Jordan and myself were working nonstop and could've used at least one other person.

Needless to say, by the end of the day we were all exhausted and Jordan and I had no desire to go run. We opted for dinner and swirls at the mont with Gus and his wife Anna and called it a day. Since this is such a low mileage day I won't end up coming close to the 85 miles I expected to hit this week, but sometimes real life takes precedence over running.

Friday, August 15, 2008

"Let's just say I'm on my way and I'm in a minivan."

63 mins.
8.5 miles run
~800 miles flown
~200 miles driven

When my alarm went off at the unholy hour of 5:35 this morning, my initial reaction was one of confusion. Why would I possibly be getting up so early on a Friday? Then I remembered, I was meeting my friends Colleen and Kristin for an early run before heading to the airport. Once I got out the door it wasn't too bad, and we actually had a group of about 7-8 people who met up at Inman Middle School and ran through Little Five Points, Inman Park and Candler Park.

After showering and packing up, I took a cab to the airport and arrived about an hour before my 9:50 scheduled flight. Aaand that's when things started going downhill. We boarded about twenty minutes late and seemed poised for an 11:30 or so arrival at DFW--my interim stop--which already made me nervous because my connector was scheduled to leave from Dallas at noon. Things went from bad to worse as we sat on the tarmac for over 30 minutes due to weather in Dallas. During this time, I decided to be my usual proactive self and call AA to see about changing my reservation to a later connection. They put me on the next available flight at 2:20 and I thought I was good to go. Our pilot hauled ass to Dallas, and a quick check on my crackberry revealed that my original connector had also been delayed and I had a chance of making the flight. So, I literally run through the airport to the skylink, rode to another terminal, and ran through the terminal to the gate in hopes of catching the flight before it left. My initial relief upon seeing that the plane was still there quickly turned to frustration when I found out that not only did my original reservation no longer exist (which I pretty much expected anyway), but I wouldn't be able to go standby because there were about 50 other standby passengers whose original flights had been displaced due to weather.

At this point, I weighed my options. A quick check of the flight status info indicated that my 2:20 flight was already being pushed back to a 3:30 departure, and would most likely be delayed further, and I was not jazzed about spending 4+ hours in the DFW airport just to take a 50 minute flight to OKC. My next thought was to take matters into my own hands and get a rental car. Because Jordan is not a normal gas-guzzling American and does not own an automobile, we had already reserved a rental car for the weekend to be picked up in OKC. Or, more specifically, I had reserved the car because he is too young and irresponsible to rent one and cannot be trusted. At this point in the ordeal, I thought it sounded logical to go ahead and rent the car in Dallas and just drive the freaking thing up to Oklahoma. I would end up getting in an hour or two before my flight and would feel much more productive in the process. So I took a bus to the rental car center, where I was informed that a) it would cost me $150 to rent a "one way" car to Oklahoma, and b) all they had available for one ways was a minivan. I think this is the point where I almost started crying. But what options did I have left?? I was already committed to this doomed mission.

Fast forward to twenty minutes later, when Jordan texted "So how did things go with the rental car people?" My response: "Let's just say I'm on my way and I'm in a minivan."

Needless to say, I did eventually arrive in Oklahoma, but in hindsight I probably should've done a few things differently. After all that, Jordan and I still had to drive to the OKC airport to swap out the van for a normal car AND retrieve my luggage. Clearly unaware that I was not in the mood for constructive criticism, Jordan was quick to point out that I should've followed his top two rules. Rule #1: Always wing it. Had I not been my usual responsible self and re-scheduled my connecting flight, I could've retained my seat on the original connector and gotten on in Dallas without a hitch. Rule #2: Never check a bag. And to that, I'll add my own Rule #3: Don't be so impatient. It cost me the equivalent of a new pair of shoes or half a handbag.

Life lessons all over the place today.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Return to the AO

AM: 20 min. w/u (2.5 miles)
Target: 5x1.5 miles @ 6:25 pace w/800m jog rest
Actual: 9:38 (6:25 through the mile), 9:38 (6:25), 9:31 (6:20), 9:34 (6:21), 9:29 (6:19)
23 min. c/d (3 miles)
Total: 15 miles
PM: 40 min. walk

Since I'm taking an early-ish flight to Oklahoma tomorrow, I got permish to tackle tomorrow's workout today. I wasn't sure how spry I was going to feel after doing 300s a few days ago, but sometimes you have to roll with it and hope for the best. I was debating between driving out to the river or doing the workout on the Active Oval and decided to stick with the AO mainly due to its proximity to my house. The workout was going to take long enough without a 45 minute round-trip drive (not to mention I was still recovering emotionally from yesterday's traffic situation).

As I jogged down from my house, I could tell my legs felt decent but not great. In talking with Jeff G. yesterday, he basically told me to expect to feel tired from now until the end of September, and to go as much by effort as time on the workouts. That said, I was optimistic I could hit the splits (unlike in the track workouts) as long as I didn't take things out crazy fast the first 800m. Long story short, the workout went well. I was able to steadily squeeze down the pace through each interval and never felt like I was pressing too hard. The last two intervals were definitely an effort, and I'm pretty sure I was flailing around a bit during the final 400m, but otherwise I kept things controlled. The rain of the past few days kept skies overcast and temperatures comfortable, but the humidity has definitely shot up again. I was a hot mess by the end of the run.

I don't know how sound this reasoning is, but the aspect of this workout that actually gave me the most confidence was how I felt on the cool-down. If you'll recall, the last time I worked out on the AO, I ended up collapsing on the steps of Inman Middle School and hoping for death (okay so perhaps I'm being slightly dramatic). Today, I kept the pace fairly brisk on the way home, even adding on a few minutes to make it an even three miles. It's difficult to put into words how my legs and body felt toward the end...definitely exhausted and mostly numb, but almost weightless at the same time. Like I could've picked the pace up indefinitely without feeling any different. It was...weird. A good weird, I suppose. If I can replicate this feeling during the last 10k of the marathon, I just might be able to pull it off.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Stuck in the Middle With You

AM: 67 mins.
9 miles
PM: 34 mins.
4.5 miles

When I woke up this morning it was pouring rain, so it took me about .05 seconds to make the executive decision to text Jeff and tell him I wouldn't be meeting him at the river. Unfortunately, he texted back before I was able to crawl back in bed and told me it wasn't raining up there. So I begrudgingly got dressed and headed out the door. We ran from Cochran Shoals, doing part of our usual route and also exploring some neighboring trails. He was pretty banged up from a hard 14-miler yesterday, and my legs were noticeably fatigued from the 300s, so we kept a pretty pedestrian pace throughout.

On the way home, I was greeted with metro Atlanta's greatest treat: a mid-morning traffic jam. From the moment I merged onto I-75, I felt like I was sitting in a parking lot. While this alone would normally be enough to make me antsy and/or enraged, today's situation was compounded by the fact that I needed to be showered a
nd at my hair appointment by 10am. My original plan--which had me leaving Cochran Shoals parking lot by 8:30 and arriving home no later than 9--allowed plenty of time for a shower, a leisurely breakfast, some internet browsing, etc. I was now going to be in a race against the clock (although one could hardly call idling motionless on the freeway a "race"). I resolved to take the first available exit and figure out an alternate route from there. It ended up taking me literally 30 minutes to make it to this exit, which was but a mile away, and from there I had absolutely no idea where to go. I managed to wing it and re-route myself, arriving home at 9:45. (For those of you metro drivers who may ever find yourself in the same situation, I took Mt. Paran to Paces Ferry through Vinings, got back onto 285 South, exited I-20, took 20 East to Moreland, which turns into Briarcliff). Since I know you're all concerned, you can rest assured that I took the fastest shower ever and arrived at my appointment a mere five minutes late. And my highlights look terrific, by the way.

A replica of my view for one hour and 45 minutes this morning

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Back to the Track

AM: 27 min. w/u (3.5 miles)
16x300 w/100m jog (35 sec.) recovery
Target: 4x60 sec., 4x59, 4x58, 4x57
Actual: (58, 60, 61, 60); (60, 61, 61, 60); (60, 60, 59, 59); (59, 59, 58, 58)
20 min. c/d (2.5 miles)
Total: 10 miles
PM: 29 mins.
4 miles

My hamstring was a bit stiff upon waking up this morning, but I think it might be more due to the massage than anything. Regardless, I took an extra-long warmup to make sure it was nice and loose before hitting the track. Today was a preview of what fall workouts will be like: lower temps (70 degrees at the start), lower humidity (51%) and a light breeze. It was even overcast the entire time, which kept things mild throughout. Definitely best case scenario weather conditions for a morning track workout in August.

Looking back on when I attempted this same workout exactly one month ago, some clear fitness improvements are evident. For starters, I actually completed the workout this time instead of bailing at 12. Also I kept every one of the "rest" jogs between 33-36 seconds, whereas last time I was struggling to keep them at 40. That said, I was still nowhere near hitting the desired splits (deja vu from last Thursday), so clearly I still have a long way to go. But my legs felt pretty bouncy on the cool down jog, and my hamstring was loose throughout, so overall I was okay with how things panned out today.

I set out for my pm jaunt about 4 minutes after it started raining. Now I don't mind if it starts raining mid-run, but I'm kind of a pansy when it comes to starting out in the rain. Nonetheless I put on my big girl pants and headed out and back on the Freedom Trail along Ponce. Wouldn't you know, it actually felt kinda nice.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Massage Monday

AM: 60 mins.
8 miles
PM: 30 min. walk

Defying all expectations, the weather has continued its unprecedented mildness for another day. After sleeping in until 8 (!!) and doing some office work, I finally made it outside for my run around 9am. Temps were in the low 70s and the humidity was quite low as well, which made for a very pleasant run. Did the Candler Park loop plus out and back on the Freedom Trail to Highland Bakery to make it an even hour.

The true highlight of my day was the long-awaited massage I enjoyed this afternoon. After still not hearing back from Jeff's friend, I decided to roll up to Massage Envy and see what they could do for me. I was a bit skeptical of this massage "chain," but their web site said they could do sports massage and their introductory rate was $39/hour, so I figured it was worth a shot. Turns out they're pretty legit, or at least Richard is. Per my instructions he spent a good bit of time hunkered down in the hamstring/butt/hip region and really loosened things up. There was even some active release and rolfing involved. At least that's what I was told...I really have no idea what either of those things are. Don't tell anyone.

I debated an evening double even though it wasn't on the schedule, but opted for a walk and some stretching instead. We shall see during my track workout tomorrow if the massage produced any tangible benefits. Also, while walking I ran into (walked into?) my friend Colleen. She was sitting in front of Figo waiting to meet a friend for dinner. We chatted for a bit and made plans to run together one day this week. I was just complaining to Jordan about how boring it is for me to run by myself every day, and then I bump into a running partner in my own neighborhood. Great way to end the day.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Week in Review

81-82 miles
A few walks
97,352 hours in the car with my boss

Not only was this my highest mileage week to date, but it also included two legit workouts and a respectable long run. While I'm still a long way from where I need to be, I'm pleased with how quickly I was able to recover from the workouts each day. My hamstring is still an issue, as is my burgeoning obesity, but I aspire to start resolving both ASAP. Next week I'm back to eating only cereal, at least until my weekend trip to Norman. I didn't do my body any favors with the sheer volume of calories I consumed this week.

Chattahoochee Long Run

1 hour 44 mins.
~14.5 miles

After getting a late start this morning, then having to wait in a line of cars to enter the Cochran Shoals parking lot for 15 minutes (how I love the weekend warriors that screw things up for the rest of us), I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was still only 68 degrees outside at 8:45am. Thus, my long run was much more enjoyable than those in recent memory. I basically did my usual "long run at the river" route: one 5k dirt loop, half a loop then out to Columns Drive, out and back to Johnson Ferry on Columns, back to the starting point, then another 5k dirt loop to finish it off.

Truthfully the only negative part of this run was my left hamstring. It's still quite tight, and I had to stop several times to stretch it out because it kept locking up. I put in a call to a massage therapist that Jeff C. recommended the other day, but she still hasn't called me back and therefore I still have no appointment scheduled. I might try to call someone else tomorrow to see if I can get in ASAP.

Finished the last 5k in ~21 minutes, which isn't breaking any land speed records but felt like a solid effort.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

77 mins.
10+ miles

Ran to Emory via the long route through Druid Hills, did a loop in the park, then took the long route home. We've been experiencing some uncharacteristically nice weather the past few days, so this run was quite enjoyable. I checked before heading out and it said that the humidity was only 58%--practically unheard of for the morning this time of year. It was only 33% last night for my double--again, very unusual. I hope this will continue for my long run tomorrow.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Breakfast Club Revisited

AM: 58 mins.
8 miles
PM: 30 mins.
4 miles

Woke up early to meet Jeff and Dave Howe, my sales rep, at the Big Peach for the Friday breakfast run. We stuck with the same route as last time, running straight down Peachtree to Midtown and then winding through the neighborhoods and the park before finishing up at Flying Biscuit. The course is pretty tough, as it's downhill for the first half and then quite hilly for the second, and my legs were tired from yesterday's workout.

On the "new life" front, today I reached an unprecedented low by eating all three meals out at restaurants. Guess that's what happens when you're traveling with your boss and coworker all day, but still...ugh.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Cutting Shapes: the ATL Version

23 min. w/u (3 miles)
20x400 in sets of 5 w/30 secs rest b/t each; 1 lap jog b/t sets
Target: first set 83, second set 82, third set 81, last set 80
Actual: (82, 83, 83, 84, 84); (82, 82, 83, 83, 84); (83, 82, 83, 84, 84); (82, 82, 84, 83, 81)
16 min. c/d (2 miles)
Total: ~11 miles

So, remember how a few months ago we did 10x400 for our first track workout? With one lap jog after EACH interval? How I miss those days. Today's formidable workout basically doubled the number of intervals while cutting the rest in half. To be honest, I was pretty sure going into it that things were going to go badly. In fact, even though Jeff had told me I had no "outs" (meaning I couldn't call the workout even if I started falling off the pace), I was fully prepared to peace out after three sets if things were going south.

That said, I felt decent on my warmup down to and through the park, and by the time I hit the track at Grady High School I was ready to put forth my best effort. The first set was quite a shock to my system, as I'm just not used to running at this pace very often (read: never). The second set wasn't much better; in fact, looking back, I probably felt my worst on intervals 7-9. Even though the 30 seconds between each interval flew by, I tried to keep the rest as honest as possible, so I was pleased with that aspect. I wasn't so pleased with how closely I hugged the inside of lane 1 the entire time. Had I been running a real track meet I would've been disqualified for riding the inside stripe like my dad rides the bumpy things in the center of the road.

Somewhere around interval 12 I got my second wind. Actually, it wasn't so much a second wind as it was me getting pissed off at my pansy-like attitude. I figured if Quentin Cassidy can run 20x400 three times in one workout, then I sure as hell can do it once (granted, he is a fictional character in a fictional story, but let's not focus on all the wrong details). After the third set I approached a group of maintenance workers in the infield and asked--nay, begged--in the crudest broken Spanish ever spoken if they could spare any water. I'm not sure whether they understood the words as much as recognized the look of sheer exhaustion/dehydration on my face, because they handed over an entire bottle of tasty refreshing agua and wished me luck. If only they had spoken francais, I could've thanked them much more eloquently.

With a new lease on life, I pressed on into the last set determined to give it everything I had. I closed the last interval in my fastest split of the morning--still slower than I was supposed to be running, but who's counting. I wasn't too stoked about the uphill run home, but my legs felt decent and I made it back uneventfully.

In summary, I was proud of myself for finishing the workout. Granted, I was nowhere close to hitting the splits, and I'm clearly far from attaining my desired level of fitness, but I was pleased to run these intervals only slightly slower than I did on the first "baby" workout in June. I would love to run a few easy miles tonight to shake things out, but my boss is coming into town to travel with me for the rest of the week so it's not likely. Goal for the day is to use every spare moment to rehydrate.

It's been a long time coming
And I can't stop now
Such a long time running
And I can't stop now
Do you hear my heart beating
Can you hear that sound
Cause I can't help thinking
That I won't look down
--Coldplay, "Gravity"

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Doubling Up

AM: 67 mins
9+ miles
PM: 31 mins
4 miles

I met Jeff at the river at 7am for our newly established Wednesday trail run. Actually, I arrived a few minutes early, so I jogged 10 minutes while I waited for him to arrive. Once he got there, we set off along the dirt path for a few miles before heading up into the trails. Maybe it's because this is still a novelty to me, but for the second week in a row I was amazed at how quickly the time passed while we navigated the trails. I didn't look at my watch once (as compared to about 20 times on an average run), and spent most of my time alternating my energy between attempting to carry on a conversation and watching the feet in front of me to make sure I didn't take a tumble. We kept the pace fairly uptempo the entire time, and I definitely enjoyed the challenge.

For my evening run I was prepared to follow my usual out-and-back along the trail on Ponce, but at the last minute decided to weave through the Virginia-Highland neighborhoods instead. I ran down St. Charles, crossed Highland and continued down St. Charles as though I was headed to the park, but instead just meandered through the residential streets for a while. I absolutely adore the neighborhoods in this area, with their charming houses and lush foliage, and runs like this make me happy to be a Highlands resident. I finished up on St. Charles and then down Briarcliff to home.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Lackluster Tuesday

AM: 59 mins.
8 miles
PM: 30 min. walk

My legs weren't so much sore this morning as they were heavy and exhausted. I plodded along to Piedmont Park and basically just looped around the AO indefinitely. Not sure how many loops I did, but it was nice to zone out for a bit without worrying about where I was going.

I fully intended to double in the evening, but got home late from working an event at City Sports. I was tired and hungry and tired. Ate a quick dinner topped off with a cookies 'n cream pop tart and then went for a walk. I'll make up for my underwhelming day tomorrow.

Monday, August 4, 2008

4x2 with Peanut Butter on Top

AM: 17 min. w/u (2+ miles)
4x2 miles in 6:30-6:35 w/800 jog in between
(6:29, 6:33); (6:28, 6:36); (6:26, 6:36); (6:27, 6:35)
11 min. c/d (1.5 miles)

Total: 13 miles
PM: ~30 min. walk

As I mentioned yesterday, due to some scheduling conflicts we've had to rearrange things a bit this week. Normally I would not do a tempo on Saturday followed by a long-ish run on Sunday followed by intervals on Monday. However, Jeff said he wants some of our workouts to simulate the fatigue we will feel toward the end of the marathon, and this certainly ended up being one of those (whether he intended it to be or not).

So, for the second time in three days, I strapp
ed on the trusty T5's and headed out to the river. Since I needed each mile to be accurately marked, I knew I had to stay on the dirt path the entire time. In general, this workout felt harder than I expected it to (which I would attribute to it being my third medium-to-hard run in as many days). I never really felt comfortable or fluid, and the last two intervals were especially taxing. While I tried to stay fair with the 800m jogs in between, I ended up taking an extra minute or two before the last two intervals to catch my breath. I desperately needed water before the last set, but was nowhere close to the fountain, so I pressed on without. The dirt was running especially slow today, so I would conservatively subtract 3-4 seconds per mile for that.

Overall, I was pleased that I basically hit the splits, but I wish they could've
been a bit more even. My pacing was consistent...consistently bad, that is. On every single interval I took the first 800 out too hard (~3:10-3:12) and ended up dying a slow death on the last mile. Would've liked to do a better job with that. Also, I should've done a longer cool down, but I just didn't feel like it. I was exhausted and had probably sweated off 10 pounds by the end of the workout, so it was all I could do to wog around for 10 minutes before peacing out. I plan on walking it out with Brooke and Biz tonight to keep the legs from tightening up too much.

Peanut butter french toast at Highland Bakery
Could've used JoKin to eat the second piece

Speaking of those ten pounds I lost, I'm confident I promptly gained them back with the peanut butter french toast I ate for brunch earlier this afternoon. Carbs, protein, fat...pretty much the ideal recovery food, in my opinion.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Week in Review

71-72 miles
several long walks
5 AFD (alcohol free days)

I feel pretty good about the mileage and the "new life" this week, as it was just what I needed to ease back into training mode after last week's down time. The workouts increase markedly both in distance and intensity next week, and Jilane and I are doing a bit of creative scheduling to work them around social and job-related conflicts, so we'll see how things go. As of now, the only nagging issue is my left hamstring, but I'm hoping that more stretching and ice baths like the one I took today can help remedy the situation.

Somewhat unrelated, I want to share with you a link to the message given by Louie Giglio in church today. It's rather lengthy, so if you don't have time to view the entire thing, I would suggest starting at roughly the halfway point where he picks up a girl named Ashley's diary and begins to tell her story. Actually, Ashley is a runner so I suppose that's how I can attempt to make this somewhat relevant. The message she inspires about grace, love and living life to its fullest every day is something we can all take to heart. I dunno, maybe it's because this came at the end of an emotional week for me, but for some reason her story and Louie's message impacted me profoundly. It can be found here:

To where will you go child
Tell me where will you run
To where will you run
--Tenth Avenue North

Candler Park Long Run

91 mins.
12 miles

Freedom Trail bike path overlooking the Candler Park golf course

I woke up this morning with absolutely no route in mind for my run. That usually ends badly, as I tend to misjudge the length of whatever random loop I pick and thus either run way too far or not nearly far enough. Today, however, I was content to do basically a mindless figure-eight on the streets and Freedom Trail in Candler Park and Inman Park. It's always liberating to run these streets on Sundays; I can pretty much run up and down the middle of the same roads that are jam-packed with traffic on any given weekday.

Today I had a lot on my mind and passed most of the run deep in thought. That said, by the 60 minute mark I was pretty much ready to be done. These neighborhoods are so hilly, and while that doesn't bother me much for a 6- or 8-mile jaunt, I was definitely feeling it toward the end of the run today. My left hamstring was stiff and bothersome throughout.

Also of note, I took a much-needed ice bath this afternoon. I can't even remember the last time I did this, but I figured it would be the best way to shake out the legs after a back-to-back workout/long run combo. Ice baths are never fun but are usually effective, so we'll see how I feel tomorrow.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

On the Road Again

11 min. w/u (1.5 miles)
8 mile cut-down starting at 7:00, 5 seconds faster per mile
(6:53, 6:45, 16:30 for 2.5, 16:10 for 2.5, 6:16) ~ 53 mins.
9 min c/d (1+ miles)
Total: ~11 miles

I woke up early, determined to make it out to the river before it got too hot. Apparently there was some sort of party out there that I wasn't invited to, because when I arrived at the Cochran Shoals parking lot at 7:30 every single parking spot was filled. I flipped a U and parked in an auxiliary lot about a quarter mile away, then ran over the bridge to get back to the main trail.

Though I could've run the entire workout on the 5k dirt loop, I wanted to mix it up both to spare the monotony and to spend some time on a "faster" surface, so I opted to start on the loop and then run out and back on Columns. While this section isn't marked per mile, I knew it was almost ex
actly 2.5 miles from the Columns Drive parking lot to where Columns dead-ends at Johnson Ferry, so I decided to go by feel and effort during this part of the run before finishing up with a hard mile on the dirt trail.

Part of the 5k dirt loop at the Chattahoochee River

I started out a touch faster than necessary, but my legs felt good so I just went with it. The flat, level pavement on Columns is ideal for this type of workout, and I was really able to lock into the pace and just zone out during this section. When I hit the dirt loop for the last mile I was immediately conscious of the change in traction--while the dirt might be better for the legs, the road definitely facilitates the pace. Nonetheless, I finished the last mile strong and felt decent at the end. That said, I was definitely aware of my left hamstring tightening up as I worked the pace down. Occasionally it would "catch" mid-stride and I would end up with a really awkward footstrike, which was more distracting than anything. Next week I'm going to find a massage therapist, no excuses (and preferably one who wears Brooks so I can employ the trusty barter system).

Overall, a solid workout, and one I'm glad I postponed yesterday. I'd like to double tonight but I might just give it a rest for a change and save up for the long-ish run tomorrow.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Feeling Notso Hotso

AM: 40 mins.
5.5 miles
PM: 30 mins.
4 miles

I woke up this morning with a serious stomachache. Not sure what it was from, could've been something I ate or my tap water (which I've had my doubts about for some time). Nonetheless, since I had a workout scheduled, I decided to drive out to the river anyway and hope for a miracle to transpire while en route. It didn't. I made the executive decision not to even attempt the workout, and instead wogged a (vaguely nauseous) five or so miles on the dirt loop.

Though my stomach situation was still a bit tenuous, I decided to double in the evening to help make up some of the missed mileage from this morning. Went out and back on the Freedom Trail along Ponce at a relaxed pace. The peanut butter guy was conspicuously absent, which disproves my dad's theory that he was perhaps a very lifelike piece of artwork.

Since the workout isn't too difficult (an 8-mile cut down starting at 7 min. pace) and our "long" run Sunday isn't really that long (12 miles), I feel pretty good about running the workout tomorrow instead of today. Hopefully a solid night's sleep and the peanut butter M&Ms I'm currently eating will alleviate any lingering stomach issues.