Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Morning Run with the Heps Champion

58 mins.
~8 miles

After the aforementioned late night with Ozzie and the high mileage of last week, I was perfectly content to wog one easy run today. He only wanted to run 4-6 since he would be running with a high school team in the afternoon, so I took him on the Candler Park loop. Dropped him off at the house at five miles and then finished it off with another ~20 minutes through the Highlands. It was considerably warmer and more humid this morning than it was last week (which could also have something to do with the fact that we didn't get out the door until at least 10am) and my legs felt pretty lifeless. Hopefully our subsequent brunch at Highland Bakery and afternoon of sitting around wasting time on the internet will facilitate my recovery for tomorrow's workout.

Monday, September 29, 2008

I Blame Ozzie

AM: 74 mins.
10 miles
PM: 30 mins.
4 miles

I met Meredith and Jim for an early run at the river. Meredith was starting her new job today (!!) and wanted to make sure she had plenty of time to get ready, so it was still quite dark when I reached the Cochran Shoals parking lot. As a result, we did a full flat loop before venturing up into the more technical trails, but once we got up there I realized how much I'd missed them the past few weeks. The run went by almost too quickly and my legs felt bouncy despite last week's high mileage, which was a pleasant surprise.

Around 3pm I got a call from Jordan, who let me know that Ozzie My
ers was going to be rolling through Atlanta in his Nike van this evening. I gave him a buzz and offered him my luxurious futon as sleeping accomodations, which he gratefully accepted. I also discovered he'd never been to the dirty south before, so I was excited to show him all the places where the cool kids hang out. I was also hoping to convince him to pace my planned workout for Tuesday (perhaps charging that as my fee for the accomodations?) and was pretty much just all-around thrilled to have someone to hang out with. Especially someone who drives a vehicle even more ostentatious than mine. (Jordan: "Who's driving to dinner? Ritz or Sell?")

To sum up the evening, we had a grand time. So grand that I'm typing this at 9:30am on Tuesday having just woken up and already decided to push the workout to tomorrow. If and when Ozzie ever stirs from the futon I will drag him out for at least ten miles and call it a day.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Week in Review

100 miles
2 nights in the Courtyard Marriott
1 bag of Sour Patch Kids
105 minutes waiting in line for gas

To echo what Jilane said in her weekly summary, Team MJ is in a very good place right now. Jilane dominated her "race simulation" (going so far as to win the actual race), and I logged my first EVER 100-mile week. It was somewhat accidental, as I ended up doing last week's long run on Monday and therefore logged two 18-milers, but nonetheless I'll take it. Throw in a solid workout on Wednesday and a lackluster workout on Saturday, and you have pretty much all that one could expect at this stage in the training cycle.

Going forward, there are still two weeks of significant training yet to complete, which I'm facing with a mixture of determination and downright exhaustion. I would be lying if I said I wasn't proud of notching 100 miles this week, but I'd also be lying to say I'm not absolutely drained. The prospect of completing my own race simulation this weekend doesn't exactly thrill me, but I'll have Jordan along for the ride, which should make things more pleasant. I also hope to get back to some softer surfaces this week in hopes of preserving the legs. At this point I need to do anything I can to keep myself healthy and injury-free going into the home stretch.

I leave for DC in exactly three weeks. That's 21 days until Team MJ is reunited and all is right with the world.

Birmingham Long Run

2 hours 13 mins.
18 miles

While Jilane was off winning her 20-mile road race, I enjoyed a surprisingly, well, enjoyable 18-miler in Birmingham. Tracy Poole, a friend and longtime Trak Shak employee, offered to join me for the first 10-12, and I was immensely grateful for his company. He's pushing 50 but still keeps a respectable clip on his runs, so our 7:20ish pace through the hilly streets of Homewood and Mountain Brook felt abo
ut right. Something I'd almost forgotten about Tracy is that he knows everyone, literally EVERYONE, who runs in the greater Birmingham area. We started our jaunt with ~3 miles on the Shades Creek Greenway, and it is no exaggeration to say that we passed at least 25 people and every single one of them greeted him by name. He's kind of a big deal around here.

Congrats, Jordan and Jilane. I'm happy for you both.

Anyway, this morning was a bit warmer and more humid than others this week, but overall it wasn't too bad. I felt kind of sluggish for the first hour, but by the time we looped back to his truck at 90 minutes I was feeling pretty chipper. I took a Clif Shot and some water while he toweled off and stretched, then I bid him adieu for my final six miles out and back on the greenway (yes, it's boring, but I was in the mood for something flat and shaded). While I never picked up the pace significantly, I felt strong and light on my feet throughout the remainder of the run, which was a refreshing reversal from yesterday. Not to mention that only having to run ~45 minutes by myself was absolutely wonderful. Props to Tracy for hanging in there for the majority of this outing.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Shades Creek Revisited

24 min. w/u (3 miles)
Target: 4 mile tempo @6:30
3x1200 starting @5:55 pace, faster every 90 secs.
Actual: 6:36, 6:23, 6:23, 6:20; 4:30, 4:30
22 min. c/d (3 miles)
Total: 12 miles

This workout was pretty much a train wreck. I consciously tried to go out conservatively in the first mile and as a result ran it way too slowly. The rest of the tempo felt much harder than it should have at the pace I was holding. As for the 1200s, they just didn't really happen. I didn't have intermediate markers between the miles, so I decided I would just run for 4:30 and increase the pace every 90 seconds. While technically I did accomplish this goal, there's no way that 4:30 was 1200 meters at the pace I was running. I stopped the third 1200 after about 20 seconds when it was clear I was embarrassing myself and extended the cool down jog instead.

I'm tired. I'm hungry all the time. And I'm losing $5 to Jordan on the OU vs. TCU game. Not the best day overall.

Friday, September 26, 2008

525,600 Minutes

AM: 60 mins.
8 miles
PM: 30 mins.
4 miles

First things first: MCM is ONE MONTH from today. Let's all pause for a moment and allow that to sink in.

I awoke early before my trip to Birmingham and did an easy run to and from Piedmont Park, including 3-4 laps around the AO. There was some sort of adult kickball tournament gearing up on the fields inside the Oval, so that provided me with some unexpected bonus entertainment (side note: who plays kickball at 7am? Shouldn't these people be taking their kids to school or getting ready for work or even sleeping?? But I digress).

In the evening I did an easy out and back along the Shades Creek Greenway in Birmingham, which is conveniently located directly across the street from my hotel. I turned around at the mile marker where I started my workout the last time I was in Birmingham and marveled at how long ago that seems. That led to thoughts of other times I've run on this greenway, all of which were when I worked for Mizuno several years ago, and then my mind wandered to the general idea of the passage of time. How some things change and some stay the same. How I change yet stay the same. Without realizing it, I found myself humming one of my favorite songs from my favorite musical. So, rather than expounding upon this topic further, I'll leave you with the opening stanza of "Seasons of Love." Oh and Jordan, stop rolling your eyes; you're lucky you made it this far without me bringing up the greatness that is "Rent."

525,600 minutes
525,000 moments so dear
525,600 minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.
525,600 minutes
How do you measure a year in the life?
"Seasons of Love"

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Massage Thursday

AM: 77 mins.
10+ miles
PM: 29 mins.
~4 miles

This morning was the coolest of the week, which excites me greatly. I was borderline giddy at the outset because my hands were actually cold for the first ten minutes. I took it pretty easy on the continuously rolling route to and from Lullwater Park, and felt decent for about 60 minutes. After that I was ready to wrap things up.

After my evening run I skipped the shower and went for a sports massage at Massage Envy. This is my third time to utilize this location and my second time to be worked on by Robb, and I gotta say the dude is not afraid to bring the hurt. There were a few times I really had to remind myself that this was for my own good. Overall, though, it was pretty relaxing and should keep me loosened up for a while. Tomorrow I'm headed to Birmingham for work and am hoping to recruit a few peeps to keep me company on my weekend runs.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Early Morning on the AO

AM: 23 min. w/u (3 miles)
Target: 5xmile w/3:00 rest faster than Sept. 2
Revised Target: 5xmile w/3:00 rest @6:00
Actual: 6:04, 5:54, 5:55, 5:54, 5:56
20 min. c/d (2.5 miles)
Total: 12 miles
PM: 30 min. walk

I had to get this one done early, so dawn was barely breaking as I strapped on the T5's and started my jog down to the AO. The morning was cool, and I warmed up in long sleeves for the second time in a week. As I hit the Oval at the end of my warmup, I decided to launch into the first interval literally without breaking stride. Apparently this confused my cold, sleepy legs, because they pretty much refused to turn over on the first interval. Luckily I got into a rhythm on the second and stayed locked in the entire time.

So my instructions were to hammer the second half of the fourth interval. Sadly, the effort increased but the pace did not. It was kind of strange, actually. I felt reasonably comfortable throughout the entire workout, but just couldn't crank it into the next gear when I was supposed to. While this was marginally disappointing, I did show solid improvement from this identical workout three weeks ago, which gives me solace. Also, I would not be opposed to weather like today's during the marathon. Someone get to work on that for me.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Running Out of Gas. No, Literally.

AM: 74 mins.
10 miles
PM: 30 mins.
4 miles

My two runs today were fairly unremarkable. The legs felt decent after my long effort yesterday, but definitely tired toward the end of my morning jaunt. The morning was crisp, coo
l and sunny--maybe, just maybe fall has arrived (knock on wood, cross your fingers, etc. etc.).

In the afternoon I had the pleasure of picking up my newly-logoed Brooks mobile, which now might be fairly deemed the Holy-Crap-Brian-Sell-Is-On-Fire mobile. It's all semantics, really. The good news is I get to drive this bad boy 24 hours a day...aren't you jealous? No? Fine.

As if that weren't enough excitement for one day, on the way home from an evening clinic in BFE, Georgia, Brian Sell and I had the pleasure of waiting in line for approximately 42 minutes for gas.

The "front" of the line...only ten minutes to go!

That's right, folks, the alleged gas shortage is a reality here in metro Atlanta. It took me miles and miles to find a station that actually had gas, and then I waited in the aforementioned line to fill up with premium (no regular, apologies to our CFO). Meanwhile one car was getting towed from the station after having literally run out of gas in line, while another pump ran out while some poor guy was filling up (and he had prepaid for more than he ended up getting). Truly, it was chaos. At least I can rest easy knowing that our advertising dollars were hard at work even in the direst of economic circumstances.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Norman Long Run

2 hours 10 mins.
18 miles

After postponing my long run from Sunday, I woke up Monday morning prepared to face the inevitable. Fortunately, I would not be running by myself the entire time, as Jordan and his friend Scott were going to accompany me for part of it. We left Campus Lodge just after 8am to meet Scott along Brooks St. near campus and proceeded to meander through the streets of Norman. The morning was hazy and quite damp, which meant the humidity was soaring but at least the sky was overcast, so overall the weather wasn't too bad.

After splitting with Scott near campus again, Jordan and I ran ba
ck home so he could bow out early and I could take a Clif Shot and some water. We returned to Campus Lodge at ~70 minutes, which meant I had roughly an hour left to complete, so much to his chagrin I decided on a boring out-and-back along Brooks and Jenkins. If nothing else, it afforded me at least a few miles on the grass, which my body could undoubtedly use after pounding the pavement since Thursday.

My companion for the first 70 minutes: a face that
inspires confidence

I w
as pleasantly surprised to feel pretty good throughout this last section. Jeff wanted me to pick up the pace on miles 12-15, and while I didn't have any miles marked or splits taken, I feel like I definitely cranked it up a notch the last ~45 minutes. I specifically pushed the last 20, which largely comprised the "home stretch" down Brooks, 12th and Beaumont, and finished stronger than I have on any other long run to date. All in all, not a bad way to start the week.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Week in Review

~87-88 miles
2 trips to Chik-Fil-A
3 days at OK Runner
0 minivans

It's funny how your perspective changes. A few months ago I would've been shocked and awed at putting in this much mileage, but as I'm typing this I'm more apt to view this as a "down" week. Had I attempted the requisite long run on Sunday I would've been in the ballpark of 95 miles, which for me might be a bit much, so I'm okay with taking a bit of down time. Plus, as I mentioned previously, the combination of two solid workouts plus a hard steady run meant I had quality that made up for the lack of quantity.

Overall--and I hesitate to type this--everything feels good. My legs are often tired but seem to recover fairly quickly, and I have yet to feel a hint of injury or illness coming on. At this point it's just about keeping it together for another month or so. Team MJ has pretty much already won the war of attrition, so now it's time to finish the task at hand.

Second Laziest Sunday Ever

65 mins.
9 miles

Well, the good news is today was not as completely worthless as the last Sunday I was in Norman. The bad news is, it gave the title a run for its money. While I had 18 on tap today, by 3pm it was pretty clear that just wasn't going to happen. Jordan and I settled for our standard 9-mile loop instead and I vowed to complete the long run on Monday. While this schedule revision wasn't exactly intentional, I think it might actually be for the better since I already did two long-ish workouts and another hard run this week. At least, that's what I'm telling myself in order to feel marginally more productive.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Brookhaven Double

AM: 40 mins.
5 miles
PM: 43 mins.
6 miles

After a pretty real evening on Friday, I awoke groggy and completely uninterested in running. Nonetheless, I knew I needed to slog out at least a few miles in the morning so off I went. I left Jordan passed out mumbling something about running in the evening and headed out the door. Did a painfully slow out-and-back down Brooks and Jenkins that barely qualified as five miles.

In the evening, after hanging out at OK Runner all day, Jordan and I set off on another easy run from Brookhaven. We essentially retraced our steps from Thursday, running through the neighborhoods and down the hill to the longest/flattest road in Norman and back. I felt better than I expected to, which is a small victory I suppose.

Friday, September 19, 2008

OU Track Workout (Was My Bitch)

15 min. w/u (2 miles)
Target: 6x1.5 miles @6:25 pace w/4:00 rest
Revised Target: 6x1.5 miles @6:15-6:20 pace w/4:00 rest
Actual: 9:24 (6:17 through the mile), 9:28 (6:17), 9:24 (6:17), 9:18 (6:10), 9:19 (6:11); 9:13 (6:09)
12 min. c/d (1.5 miles)
Total: 14 miles

Yesterday afternoon Jeff emailed Jilane and me to congratulate us on being ahead of schedule in terms of fitness. Our reward was having the privilege of working out harder than originally planned today. Yay for us. That said, I was looking forward to the workout primarily because Jordan was going to run it with me. I can't remember a workout, much less a track workout, that I've run with anyone during this training cycle, but it can make a tremendous difference. Since Jordan is quasi-injured and didn't want to run the whole way, we planned for him to drive our rental car to the track (PT Cruiser, holla) while I ran from Campus Lodge. He would meet me there and then pace me through the intervals and lollygag around during my recovery jog.

The morning dawned clear and cold, and for the first time in months I actually wore a long-sleeved shirt for the warm-up. By the time I arrived at the track, the sun was shining brightly and the sky was crystal clear. And, surprisingly, there was no wind to speak of. Put simply, it was an absolutely beautiful morning.

I had instructed Jordan to start us out conservatively for the first few intervals, and he did a perfect job. We couldn't have been more consistent during the first half. On the fourth interval (which was his last, as he had to catch the bus and open the store) he took things out a bit quicker and we split the mile in 6:10. For whatever reason, this actually felt more comfortable than the previous intervals, and I ended up basically maintaining that pace on my last two solo segments. In fact, by the end of the workout I felt pretty fantastic, almost as though I could've done a few more at the same pace without tiring (although I opted not to test that theory out). I'm not expecting anyone to give me a cookie, but I was pretty happy with how this workout panned out. Definitely a confidence builder.

Also, to echo what Jilane said in her post yesterday, days like today remind me of how blessed I am. Undeservedly, inexpressibly, unconditionally blessed. "Thank you" is an inadequate response, but it's all I have. So, thank you.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Chik-Fil-A: Dinner of Champions

72-73 mins.
~10 miles

While part of me wishes I had another glorious travel story to recount, the rest of me is happy to inform you that my trip to OKC was without incident. In fact, this was the smoothest travel experience of recent memory (which probably doesn't bode well for the trip home, but I'll cross that tarmac when I come to it). Nonetheless, by the end of the day I was tired and hungry and not thrilled about going for a run. Fortunately I had Jordan along for most of it, which made things much more pleasant. I ran ~30 minutes by myself in the Brookhaven neighborhoods before doubling back to OK Runner and picking him up. We ran back through the neighborhoods before banging a left on Rock Creek Road and cruising down what is perhaps the only hill in all of Norman. In fact, upon reaching the bottom of said hill we proceeded for about ten minutes on what has to be the flattest and straightest road that has ever existed. It was completely surrounded by...well, by nothing except some farmland, and I marveled at what a far cry it was from the urban environment I train in every day. Quite a refreshing change, actually.

After the run we skipped the showers and went for a big night out at...Chik-Fil-A. Norman just opened a Chik-Fil-A a few weeks ago and Jordan has actually--brace yourself--never been to one in his ENTIRE LIFE, so I felt like I would be failing him as a girlfriend, nay, as a person if I didn't indoctrinate him in the ways of the best fast food restaurant in existence. We had two "free sandwich" coupons, so after purchasing the requisite waffle fries and drinks the two of us dined for a grand total of $4.72. It was pretty much a perfect evening, as far as I'm concerned.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

It's All Happening

AM: 47 mins.
6+ miles
PM: 58 mins.
8.5 miles

Well. Guess who slept right through her alarm and woke up an hour late? >>>this guy<<< So, my planned "10/4" structure to today's runs morphed in more like a "6/8," due to my need to get out the door and on with my life at a respectable hour this morning.

For whatever reason, I started off the evening run strong and then just decided to hammer. I haven't felt that fast on an "easy" run in...well ever, actually. Whether or not this will end up having been a good decision is pending how I feel tomorrow, but for now I'm quite pleased with it. I walked 20+ minutes to and from Figo to get dinner immediately afterwards, so hopefully that will help keep my legs loose.

On another positive note, the skies were overcast all day and the temps were quite nice, ranging from mid 60s to low 70s. While the humidity is still too high for me to deem this weather fall-like, I can see those days approaching sooner than later, and that makes me happy.

Tomorrow morning I have a taxi coming bright an early at 6:10 to take me to the airport. It is my sincerest hope and dream that my trip to Oklahoma will be less eventful than last time. Let's all take a moment to cross our fingers and send a few positive thoughts my way.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

At Least There Were No Cops

20 min. w/u (2.5 miles)
Target: 2x4 miles @6:40 pace w/800m jog
Actual: 3 miles @6:36, 6:35, 6:34; 5 miles @6:40, 6:35, 6:37, 6:36, 6:30
20 min. c/d (2.5 miles)
Total: ~13.5 miles

Today was the first day I can remember when the air felt--dare I say it--cool upon opening the door. 64 degrees to be exact, according to weather.com. So, while the humidity was still quite high, thankfully the weather was not a factor in today's workout.

Overall, I would describe the effort as decent though unremarkable. The first interval felt incredibly easy, almost like I was jogging. I had to switch things up due to an unforseen bathroom break, but I returned to the Active Oval confident that the second interval would be a piece of cake too. And...not so much. I felt sluggish and heavy from the start, finally settling in to a comfortable pace around the third mile and cruising in at the end. I was really hoping to hammer this one but the legs just didn't respond at the end. I do find solace in the fact that the AO runs ~5 secs/mile slow, so if you adjusted the splits accordingly it looks like a decent effort.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Another Week? Seriously?

AM: 74 mins.
10 miles
PM: 30 mins.
4+ miles

After another long week and my longest run to date yesterday, I was expecting my legs to feel pretty stiff and heavy on my morning run. Lucky me, they did not disappoint. I wogged around the Freedom Trail, then ventured down to Piedmont Park and did a few loops before heading home. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a terrible run, but I certainly didn't feel fresh.

In contrast, I did my evening loop two full minutes faster than usual because I felt frisky, then proceeded to add on the two minutes because I'm obsessive-compulsive. Oh, and I topped off the evening with a manicure and pedicure. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a laconic yet complete description of myself in two sentences.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Week in Review

91-92 miles
1 lost toenail
1 jar of pickles

Another week of 90+ miles and I'm happy to report that I'm still in one piece. I had a solid workout on Tuesday, a horrible workout Friday and a long run that was somewhere in between, so overall I'd deem this a respectable week. September is now halfway over, and I'm going to try to hold on for a few more weeks before going on vacay and starting my taper. I'm headed to Oklahoma for a long weekend starting on Thursday, and my primary goal is to actually run while there and not allow Jordan to be as bad of an influence as last time.

Unrelated but of note, my sustained high mileage has resulted in some, um, curious food cravings/fixations as of late. I've been on an apple juice kick basically all summer and have come to look forward to a juice box at the end of all my longer runs, but that's not too unusual. However, over the past week or so my waking moments have largely been consumed by thoughts of pickles. Dill pickles, to be specific. This is odd because I'm not a big pickle fan in general (and loathe cucumbers, from which pickles derive), but I've already powered through an entire jar of them this week. A guy at one of my accounts also just turned me on to Wickles, and I'm on pace to blow through a jar of those within the next few days as well. My reasoning is that pickles are pretty high in sodium and that's why I'm obsessed with them but still, how bizarre. Perhaps this will end up being my secret weapon at mile 20 of the marathon.

Sunday Funday

2 hours 27 mins.
20 miles

For the second weekend in a row, I was fortunate to have Ezra's company on my long run. Opting for a course that was considerably flatter than last week (although admittedly more boring), we decided to meet at the river. Our plan was to run on the dirt loop to Columns, run down Columns to Johnson Ferry (where I usually turn around), then cross the road and run through a short wooded trail on the back side of Johnson Ferry, then return on Columns and finish the dirt loop. This comprised almost exactly ten miles, so doing it twice would provide us with the requisite mileage.

Overall, the run went very well. Even at my lowest point I felt ten times better than I did throughout most of the run last Sunday, which I consider a small victory in itself. Per Jeff's instructions of "don't
eat anything before or anything during" I didn't take a gel at halfway, which would've probably helped, but we stopped 2-3 times for water and stretching and I felt better after each of those "breaks." After one of these, I suggested to Ezra that perhaps the marathon distance would be more fun if everyone had to take one or two mandatory time-outs throughout the race. You could all stop and start at the same time, so no one would gain an advantage, but just imagine how much fresher you would feel at the end! However, Ezra, unimpressed, said, "Well what about Phidippides? He was the original marathoner and he never even thought about stopping." My response: "Well yeah, but he also died at the end."

In retrospect, I struggled the most during the middle portion. Miles 10-15 were a drag, largely because of the pounding on Columns and the rising heat and humidity. According to my car, temps were in the upper 70s at the start and in the mid 80s at the end. Needless to say, it definitely doesn't feel like fall yet. Pum
pkin spice latte notwithstanding.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Taking it Easy

AM: 5k
PM: 66 mins.
9 miles

This morning I hosted a "rep and run" at Phidippides, one of the specialty shops in Atlanta. Basically that entailed me showing up for their group run, giving away fabulous prizes and occasionally talking about shoes. Not a bad gig, and I'm able to buy people's friendship and affection. Since I sponsored the run it was only fitting for me to run with their group, which meant enduring the slowest 5k of my entire life. I didn't even time it but it couldn't have been any faster than 28-29 minutes. Despite how painfully slow this felt, it was probably good for me, and I was content to take it easy after a hard (albeit failed) effort yesterday.

As a result, I had to flip-flop my runs and go longer in the afternoon. This isn't usually my preference but I felt surprisingly good today and enjoyed hitting up the Freedom Trail and the Highlands neighborhoods. My reward at the end was an evening of good sushi and good wine with even better friends, so having that as a goal definitely lent a spring to my step.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Lucky 13

Target: 7 miles @7 min. pace, 7 miles @ 6:30-6:40
Actual: ~13.5 miles
95 mins.

I headed out to the river for today's run, mostly because I wanted to do the majority of it on Columns Drive. I figured I could warm up on the jog from the parking lot to Columns (1.5 miles), then do two out-and-backs on the road (10 miles), then just add on via the dirt loop. If nothing else, the run would be mostly flat and I would have several opportunities to stop for water.

To put it simply, this run sucked. I may have mentioned this before, but my legs are tired. "Dead" would be an even more accurate way to describe them. I struggled to stay under 7 minute pace, and even at that I had to stop several times to stretch out my perpetually tight left hamstring. Add to that a burgeoning hot spot/blister on the sole of my right foot and humidity that felt like I'd jumped into a swimming pool, and I can say with confidence that I both looked and felt like a hot mess by halfway. By the time I finished my second trip down Columns, all I wanted was to get back to my car as soon as possible. I opted to cut the run short in hopes of salvaging my upcoming 20-miler on Sunday.

At least September is almost halfway over.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Insert Creative Title Here

AM: 60 mins.
8 miles
PM: 30 mins.
4 miles

This morning's run was made quite enjoyable by the presence of Jim and Meredith and Ashley, the Adidas tech rep who apparently lives in Inman Park. They all met at my house and we did another "city" run, meandering through the Highlands neighborhood down to Piedmont Park, taking a few laps around the AO and other areas of the park, then meandering back home. Other than the sweltering humidity it was a wonderful, relaxed jaunt. Afterward, I took Jim and Meredith to Highland Bakery for another tasty breakfast. To my surprise and admiration, Jim ordered the peanut butter french toast and then proceeded to eat the entire meal. Props.

Fun fact: Forbes just ranked Atlanta the top city for singles in the US. That statistic doesn't impact me nearly as much as the other "top" spot Atlanta claimed, which is worst traffic in the entire country (as if anyone who lived downtown didn't know this already.) Good thing I can expense my gas.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Are We There Yet?

AM: 60 mins.
8 miles
PM: Yogurberry

Not much to say here, except that Jeff and I did our Wednesday loop a full two minutes slower than usual. He's pretty sore from doing the Blue Ridge Relay last weekend, and my legs are just tired from...life.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Breaking the Law, Living on the Edge

25 min. w/u (3+ miles)
Target: 25x400m @85 secs. w/60 sec. rest
Actual: 86, 85, ~7 min. jog, 86, 84, 83, 85, 84, 85, 85, 85, 84, 86, 85, 85, 83, 83, 84, 84, 83, 84, 85, 85
18 min. c/d (2+ miles)
Total: 12 miles

I mean, why must everything be difficult? All I wanted to do was go to the track, run a few laps, mind my own business, and get on with my life. Things started to go awry early on when I discovered that every gate I'd ever used to enter the Grady track was padlocked. Being the resourceful gal that I am, I did find one entrance that opened onto a ramp that led to the bleachers, which I proceeded to run down and then hop over the wall onto the track. I had no sooner finished my second interval when I noticed the police officer standing on the other side of the fence and motioning me to come over. Long story short, my presence was no longer welcome there.

At this point, I had few options available. I could cry about it (which I did, literally, but only for 2.7 seconds), I could jog around and turn this into a distance run, or I could run over to the AO and attempt the workout on the gravel surface. None of these sounded ideal, but I was determined to get in a quality run, so off to the Oval I went.

To be honest, this whole debacle threw me off my game both physically and mentally, and my attitude was pretty piss poor as I jogged through the park.
Once I reached the Oval, the workout started out shaky but I finally found a rhythm. I gotta be honest though, the gravel surface felt so slow after being on the track and it was frustrating to feel like I was literally spinning my wheels the whole time. By the time I got to 20 (22 total), I was pretty much done. I think the frustration of transitioning from the track to the oval caused me to push too hard too soon, and I wanted to end on a positive note instead of straggling home on the last few. Also, the humidity was so ridiculous that I was actually wringing sweat out of my shorts after each interval...lucky you, now you can enjoy that visual for a while.

All things considered, I deem this workout a success. I kept the rest at no more than a minute (barring the 7-minute jaunt between #2 and #3), and I felt strong and in control throughout. Now I just need to find another place to do track workouts, I suppose. And a new pair of shorts.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Starting it all Over Again

AM: 77 mins.
10+ miles
PM: 30 mins.
4 miles

The way I felt on my runs today was largely dictated by their respective weather conditions. This morning I awoke from a beautiful 9-hour sleep and was in no hurry to start the run before 9 am or so. Unfortunately, around 8:30 it dawned on me that I had a conference call at 9:30 and another at 10, which meant I wouldn't be able to start until much later than I'd planned. Very poor strategery on my part. As a result, I didn't get out the door until after 11, and it was quite warm and humid outside. I ran the long way to Emory, through Lullwater Park, and then back home, which was a nice change of scenery. That said, the last 20 minutes or so was brutal and the midday sun was beating down intensely. Upon arriving home, I bumped into my new neighbor who was chain smoking on the stairwell and offered me a few words of advice: "Not exactly the time of day to be exercising, is it?"

In sharp contrast, I set out on this evening's run just as a storm was rolling in. The skies were overcast and a cool breeze was blowing through the air. About halfway through, the skies opened up and poured on me. It felt wonderful.

Tomorrow is 25x400. If you do not hear from me by this time tomorrow night, let it be known that I was beating Jordan in Facebook Scrabble at the time of my death.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Week in Review

90 miles
1 Clif Shot
1 bottle of wine

If I had to sum up this week in one word, it would be "exhausting." 90 miles plus two workouts and a long run is, for me, uncharted territory. Without a doubt, Jilane's 5xmile was the highlight of Team MJ's week. I had a few decent workouts but nothing outstanding, and the long run today was simply brutal. That said, despite my overall weariness I'm feeling nothing outside of the usual aches and pains and (knock on wood) don't foresee any injuries cropping up on the horizon. If I can just keep putting one foot in front of the other I know I will end up stronger at the end of this month.

Near Death Experience

129 mins.
~16.5-17 miles

Okay, I'm just going to put this out there up front: this was the hardest run I've done in this training cycle. Period. I'm sure it's a combination of finishing off my highest mileage week yet, plus having done two relatively hard and lengthy workouts, plus not being able to start the run until mid-day. For whatever reasons, I have honestly never been more relieved to finish a run than I was at the end of this effort.

Also, today comprised a series of firsts for me. It was my first run at Kennesaw Mountain (which, you may recall, was the site of my painful hike-a-thon a few months ago). Si
nce I had to give a tech clinic at a store in Kennesaw this morning, it seemed only logical to drive a few miles to the mountain and do my run there. Change of scenery, new trails, and I was able to hook up with Ezra, a guy I recently met who works at the Big Peach in Kennesaw (and was also looking for a long run today). This was also my first run to experiment with a gel of some sort (apple cinnamon Clif Shot, to be exact), which I took at approximately nine miles. The main point of "practicing" with this was to see how it affected my stomach, and surprisingly everything was kosher. In fact, that brings me to another long run "first" for today, which is that I didn't have to stop for the bathroom. Now that might not sound like a big deal, but anyone who knows me understands that I structure my runs around the availability of restroom facilities. That's just how I roll. But for whatever reason, today the bathroom was not needed, which is auspicious for MCM. Somehow I don't think I'm going to have many spare minutes to play with on race day, and it would be tragic to miss my goal due to an unexpected detour. Finally, this was also my first long run that finished in the heat of the day. While certainly not ideal, I didn't have any other options today due to work. Fortunately the trail was well-shaded and the heat wasn't too much of an issue.

Just some scenery along the trail. No big deal.

Nonetheless, all that aside, the take home message here is that the run sucked. The trails at Kennesaw are extremely hilly (perhaps the word "mountain" should've tipped me off)...they're constantly rising or falling with nary a flat stretch to establish any semblance of a rhythm...and the mixed dirt/gravel/rock/tree root surface makes for minimal traction as well. Good for the Civil War soldiers who once had to defend themselves against invaders here? Perhaps. Good for non-combative runners like myself? Not so much. Had Ezra not been with me, I would've either a) gotten lost; b) died; or c) gotten lost, then died. I say with no exaggeration that I couldn't have finished the run if he hadn't been there. Actually, the one silver lining in this whole debacle was thanks to him. We stopped at a water fountain along the trail at what my watch said was 47 minutes, which made me want to cry because I couldn't believe we'd only been out there for 6 miles. Turns out I'd forgotten to re-start my watch after a road crossing or something, because he was quick to inform me we were really at 67 minutes. I cannot tell you how much that positively impacted my outlook on life, if for only a short time. Had he not been there I would've never known we were really almost at 9 miles instead of 6. Like I've said before, it's the little things.

One final thought: I will be very, very sore tomorrow.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Just Another Day

AM: 59 mins.
~8 miles
PM: 30 mins.
4 miles

I'm tired.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Good Times at the River

16 min. w/u (2 miles)
Target: 3 mile, 2 mile, 3 mile, 2 mile @6:30-6:40 pace w/800m jog rest
Actual: 19:47 (6:41, 6:34, 6:32); 13:11 (6:36, 6:35); 19:43 (6:34, 6:40, 6:29); 13:11 (6:37, 6:34)
12 min. c/d (1.5 miles)
Total: 15 miles

Well. This certainly didn't end up feeling as easy as I thought it would. The first interval was quite comfortable but things got ugly in a hurry. The second three-mile interval (and particularly the second mile of this interval) was one of the low points of my entire life. Okay, that may be an exaggeration, but it was certainly the low point of this workout. As I told Jilane and Jeff later, "I felt like a Special Olympian out there." To be honest I wasn't sure how the last interval would pan out, but I managed to hold it together and resisted the temptation to fling myself into the river. Round about the halfway point of that segment, I found myself engaging in an internal dialogue that went something like this:

Me #1: I'm pretty sure I can't go any faster.
Me #2: Then don't.

Me #1: But this is embarrassing. I should not be trying this hard and still running so slowly.

Me #2: Well, are you putting forth your best effort?
Me #1: Well yeah.

Me #2: Then that's all you can ask for. Now shut up and finish the workou

I'm not schizophrenic, by the way. Also, a word about the dirt surface of the trail. I have to believe/hope/pray that it adds at least 5-7 seconds per mile versus the road or track. I feel so slow and am constantly without traction here. That said, the ability to run 15 miles and never once touch pavement is wonderful from a self-preservation standpoint, so it's not like I'm complaining per se. Just hopeful that my sluggishness isn't 100% my own fault.

Overall, I thought I would be able to run considerably faster on this workout, and got a rude awakening. I'm trying to put a positive spin on things and say that I ran 15 miles with 10 miles @ 6:35 pace. That doesn't sound too bad.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Tour Guide for the Day

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

Storefronts along McLendon Ave. in Candler Park

I had a great run this morning with Jim and Meredith, who ventured down to my neck of the woods for a change. They recently relocated to Atlanta from Florida and have never been to my 'hood before, so I was excited to show them the wonderfulness that is Highlands/Inman Park/Candler Park. Our jaunt was equal parts bike path and residential streets, and they seemed to really enjoy seeing all the sights. The best part about living around here is that you don't feel as though you're in the heart of a huge metropolis, and I think they were both surprised at how quaint and welcoming the area feels. Naturally, no trip into town would be complete without an authentic Atlanta breakfast, so I took them on their inaugural visit to the Flying Biscuit. I'm pretty sure they're coming back next week for another round.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Pumpkin Spice Latte

AM: 58 mins.
8 miles

PM: 30 mins.
4 miles

Standard Wednesday recovery run at the river with Jeff. We kept a decent pace in the trails, and I felt like I was working the entire time. I can tell that the temperatures are consistently cooler in the morning, but the humidity has still been oppressive. I've said this a million times, but I can't wait until autumn arrives for good.

On that note, the first harbinger of season's change is the introduction of the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks. Today was the first day the drink was made available, so naturally I headed over pretty much immediately after my run to enjoy one. My mom refuses to drink them until the day after Thanksgiving, on the principal that there's just something fundamentally wrong with drinking one any earlier, but I respectfully disagree. It was tasty and delicious and I just might have another one tomorrow.


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Trial of Miles, Miles of Trials

AM: 20 min. w/u (2.5 miles)
Target: 5x1 mile w/3:00 rest @6:10 (hammer the second half of the 4th one)
Actual: 6:10, 6:08, 6:08, 6:03, 6:05
20 min. c/d (2.5 miles)
Total: ~11 miles
PM: 30 min. walk

After feeling so bleh yesterday, I wasn't too optimistic about today's workout. The pace didn't sound too difficult, but I expected the fourth and fifth intervals to be pretty tough. Also, while temperatures were in the low 70s, the humidity was ~83% at the start, which meant I was sweating profusely before I even made it down the street.

Nonetheless, I jumped onto the AO ready to tackle the workout. The first two intervals felt pretty easy, and the third was only marginally more difficult. I decided to pretend (read: try to convince myself) that the fourth interval was the last one, in order to attempt to drop the hammer on the second half...unfortunately the hammer didn't really fall too far. 6:03 on that interval was okay but nothing spectacular. I was more pleased with being able to come back in 6:05 on the final interval, and was also pleased that I kept the rest very honest throughout.

The wog home sucked. I'm going to enjoy taking the evening off.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day Double

AM: 74 mins.
10 miles
PM: 30 mins.
4 miles

Courtesy of Hurricane Gustav, today's run was simultaneously humid and overcast and windy. In fact, this is probably the first day since I returned to the ATL that I could truly classify as "windy," which wasn't necessarily a bad thing considering the humidity. Weather conditions aside, I felt pretty crappy on this run. My legs just felt dead and heavy the entire time. Not a promising way to start the week. My spirits were finally buoyed about 45 minutes in by a 70-year-old man who praised me with "Looking good, lady!" as I ran by. It's the little things.