Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Flamingo attacking Rainbow Brite

59 mins.
8 miles

After speaking with Jeff yesterday, we thought it would be best to forge ahead with my training and try to capitalize on my current fitness level for the rest of the fall/winter. For that reason, he thought it advisable for me to jump right back on the workout bandwagon with a 6xmile effort today. I was all about it until I woke up to 36 degree temps and the beginnings of a cold. That's right, after warding off his germs as long as possible, I think I'm finally succumbing to the sickness that Jordan has been dealing with all week. Awesome.

Anyway, because of the cooler temps and me feeling notso hotso, I decided to postpone the workout and visit some accounts in the morning. By 3pm, it was a beautiful 65 degrees outside and I knew I needed to get the run taken care of. I was still feeling under the weather and opted to just take another easy da
y. I jogged down to Piedmont, ran a few miles on the crushed gravel surface of the AO, then headed back home. I had more important things to take care of, namely figuring out a costume for the Halloween party I was attending with Brooke. I'll bet you can guess what I decided on.

Not a bad improvised flamingo costume, if I do say so myself

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Further DC Shenanigans

Monday: day off
Tuesday: 47 mins.
6+ miles
Wednesday: ~60 mins.
8 miles
Thursday: 40 mins.

5 miles

The highlight of my final runs in DC was definitely Wednesday's run with Jordan. We started from Jilane's place and ran through Rock Creek Park and over to the Mall. From there we ran up the entire length of the Mall to the Capitol, crossed over and ran down the other side of the Mall, then banged a right on 12th Street and ran all the way up to the Metro Center metro. Unlike the previous day, we were smart enough to bring money and metro cards, so we hopped on and rode back to Jilane's place. It was a beautiful day, and a perfect chance to see some of the DC sights with Jordan.

View on our run through the Mall

Oh, and the Thursday run was actually back home from my apartment. I just didn't want to create a new post because I'm lazy. Also because I'm mildly depressed to be back home alone without any of my friends to play with.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Week in Review

7 days in DC
1 incomplete marathon
900 hours at the Armory
1 bag of wine

So, this isn't so much a "week in review" post as it is a "going forward" post. For the past few months I just assumed I would quit this whole blogging thing when MCM was over. I mean, what's the point? Lately though, I've come to the realization that this blog and those of my friends--however lame it may be to actually keep a blog about running--has been one of the main catalysts for keeping me motivated and inspired throughout this training cycle. So even though I may be taking a period of down time where I'm not training for something specific, I think I will still keep posting as consistently as possible in order to maintain some semblance of a schedule. I'm almost embarrassed to say it, but I've actually come to enjoy the blogging process (and I get really tense when I don't update for a few days, so you can imagine how I've felt for the past week).

So, for those of you who thought you could delete this bookmark come Monday, the joke's on you. MCM 2008 may be behind me, but Green Lightning Running lives on. Suckas.

Marine Corps Marathon

Well, the Clif's notes of today's story is that things just didn't work out for me. Put simply, I had stomach problems. The entire time. Which is disappointing, because to an extent that wasn't something I could control. My legs actually felt pretty good running at or below goal pace, but unfortunately that wasn't enough to overcome my other issues.

Anyhow, let's go back to the beginning. Jordan, Jilane, Jeff, Aja and I awoke at the dark and early hour of 5am to loosen up, drink some coffee, take warm showers and otherwise prepare for the race. Jordan left around 6 to pick up Owen and get lost for a few minutes, but by just after 6:30 they had returned. Kelly had also arrived, so the seven of us set out for the Woodley Park metro stop to ride to the race. We joined the throng of other runners with the same idea and got out at the Pentagon. This may or may not have been the most expeditious route, as we ended up having to walk/jog a good two miles to the start from there, but nonetheless it helped us keep warm and shake out the legs. The race started beside Arlington National Cemetery and just past the Iwo Jima Memorial (which would be the finish location). The weather at the start was perfect: low 40s, calm winds, and the promise of sun. Jordan, Jilane, Owen and I snaked our way to the front of the pack, while Kelly and Aja hung back (Kelly was hoping to run 3:40 and Aja planned to accompany her through the first 16). Owen and Jordan's tentative plan was to run with us for 16 and then cut across the Arlington Memorial Bridge and wait for us at the finish.

From the start, Jilane and I both felt a bit sluggish. The first two miles were mostly uphill, and that combined with the chill of the morning had us starting off a bit slow (over 7:00 for both of those miles I believe--I didn't take any splits). After a few downhill miles through Georgetown that were substantially quicker, we settled into pace. The first 10-12k of the course is fairly rolling, which kept things a bit challenging, and I could already tell my stomach was unsettled by mile 4, which kept things even more challenging. After waiting as long as possible, I finally jumped in a port-a-potty just after mile 8. Jordan waited for me while Owen and Jilane kept going, and he and I resumed the pace as soon as possible. At this point I began to settle into a rhythm and felt pretty good (at least as far as my legs were concerned). I believe we went through the half in just over 1:28, which is a touch over 6:40 pace (although this includes the bathroom break, which probably cost me 45 seconds to a minute). At this point I knew I needed the bathroom again, so I made another quick stop. I was growing pretty frustrated but also felt utterly helpless, as I had no idea if my stomach would calm down or continue to plague me. Turns out it was the latter. I struggled to put down half a Gu around 14, but opted not to finish it because I knew my stomach wouldn't apprec. Jordan held a water bottle for me the entire time (I think he may have gotten it from Jeff when we saw him around mile 4?) and he was so helpful at keeping me focused and providing encouragement. He rejoined Owen at 16 near the Lincoln Memorial and they bid me adieu.

At this point, I had a lot going on in my head. On the one hand, I knew if I kept locked into the pace, I could still break 3 hours pretty comfortably despite the two bathroom breaks. On the other hand, I knew my stomach still didn't feel right. I ended up stopping again around 17, and at that point things looked pretty bleak. From then on, while I didn't feel as though I needed the bathroom again, the abdominal pain kept coming in waves and showed no signs of abating. Again, the frustrating part was that my legs still felt pretty good. All things considered, the first two hours of the race had gone by pretty quickly, and I knew that my legs would carry me to the finish at a strong pace if my stomach would only cooperate.

It didn't. Finally, as I started to head up the bridge that leads into Crystal City at mile 20, I gave up. Actually, "curled up in the fetal position on the side of the road and prayed for death" is a more accurate description. I sat there for a while before deciding to cut across the Mall and walk a shortcut to the finish in hopes of seeing Jilane. The "shortcut" ended up being about three miles and taking well over 45 minutes, so by the time I arrived at Iwo Jima the clock read 3:10 and I knew she was done. I found Brooke and Rich and then managed to find Jeff and then Jordan. I may or may not have cried on his shoulder for a hot second, but I dried my eyes once we found Jilane. I was thrilled to learn that she had run 2:58 and looked sassy while doing it, so for at least a few minutes that distracted me from my own disappointment. After that we were so involved with the process of avoiding the masses and getting home that I didn't have much time to reflect on the morning's events.

But, alas, now I am a few days removed and have had adequate time to rehash things. So, what's the take home message here? For starters, I seriously think there may be something medically wrong with me. It's no state secret that I have stomach problems pretty frequently while running (although this was definitely the most intense I've experienced), and I need to find out if I have a food intolerance or allergy or incurable disease or something. After several years of bitching about it I'm finally going to sack up and go to the doctor to get this figured out. Another take home message: my friends absolutely ROCK. I can't put into words how much it meant to me to have so many people supporting Team MJ at the marathon (and at the subsequent party...but that's another story for another post). Jeff, Jordan, Owen, Brooke, Aja and so many others gave selflessly and showed how much they cared in countless ways this weekend and in the months leading up to the event. Their thoughtfulness is such a blessing, even if I haven't always expressed it to them. And finally, like Jilane and I have said time and again, I take with me the message that this whole experience has been about so much more than one day. Sure, I'm disappointed. Yes, I cried. I wish things would've turned out differently. But to be honest, I wouldn't trade a single minute of the past four months, regardless of the outcome.

And finally: Team MJ for life. Love ya Jilane.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Wrapping it Up

Friday: 45 mins.
6 miles
Saturday: day off

From what I can remember (as I'm posting this almost seven days later), I did the Friday run solo in the dark along the Mt. Vernon bike path before the expo. Friday was one of our longest days of work, which meant we had to be in the lobby ready to walk to the metro at 8am and weren't released from duty until almost 8pm. That said, the highlight of the day was definitely Jilane, Owen, Jordan and Aja coming to pick me up afterward for a dinner out with friends. It's great to have the band back together!

On Saturday I simply had no choice but to take the day off. Jordan and I didn't get back to Crystal City from Friday night's dinner until well past midnight, and I had to be in the lobby and ready to depart for the day by 7:30am on Saturday. I half-heartedly set my alarm for 6am but it just wasn't meant to be. After 12+ hours at the expo, all I wanted to do was eat some dinner and relax with my friends.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I Heart Expos

46 mins.
6+ miles
~15 mins. core/stretching

I did a solo run on the bike path this morning, turning right at the fork instead of left for a change of scenery. I made it all the way down to the Washington Sailing Marina before turning around and heading home. It was a chilly 36 degrees at go time and a bit breezy, which is less than ideal, but overall the legs felt pretty fresh.

For the rest of the morning we had a semi-mandatory group sightseeing outing. It involved a lot of metro-ing and walking around to things I've seen before (Lincoln Memorial, Korean War Memorial, etc.) and a few things I hadn't seen (Holocaust Museum--one of the more intense experiences in recent memory). On the way to the expo around 1, we asked a gentleman near the metro if there was someplace good close by to grab a bite to eat. Next thing we knew, he was swiping us in with his badge at the US Department of Agriculture, where we enjoyed a tasty (if somewhat reminiscent of high school) lunch in their cafeteria.

The rest of the afternoon and evening was spent expo-ing. We didn't get out of there until almost 8:30 and I just returned from dinner a few minutes past 10. The only silver lining is that Carson, in an uncharacteristic display of foresight and consideration, scheduled me to work the cash registers, which means when things are slow I can sit down. I hope this helps me out come Sunday.

Okay, time for bed. Can't wait to get up and do it again for 12 hours tomorrow. At least I'll get to see a few of my favorites...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mt. Vernon Bike Path Fartlek

AM: 60 mins.
~8.5 miles
PM: MCM expo setup

View from the Mt. Vernon bike path

Since we didn't have to be at the expo setup until 11, I was able to wait until the sun came up to embark on my run. I had a light fartlek on tap, 5x3 minutes on, 3 minutes off, and was eager to get the legs turning over. I headed down the street in Crystal City toward the same bike path as yesterday (which is apparently the Mt. Vernon Trail, according to the signs I could read much better in the daylight) and again turned left at the fork. It was quite chilly and significantly windier than yesterday, but overall it was a beautiful morning to be out.

As for the fartlek, it went decently well. I went out for three of the "on" segments before turning around (which meant I had three "off" segments and two "ons" on the second half), and I definitely felt the most fluid on the final two intervals. I'm sure much of this was due to having a tailwind after turning around. Regardless, despite having fewer fast segments on the back half, I returned to the hotel over a minute faster than I went out. It felt good to open up the legs and finish faster than I started.

Once again, I had a double on the schedule and once again I took a pass. After five plus hours of schlepping countless boxes of apparel all over the Armory (which just might be the most disgusting building in the entire country) I was just plain exhausted. I even skipped out on the group dinner so I could relax at the hotel. At this point I've got to take advantage of every opportunity I have to rest, since I know those chances will be few and far between for the rest of the week.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

DC Urban Challenge

AM: 44 mins.
6 miles
PM: Urban Challenge
2-3? miles

So this morning I woke up even earlier than yesterday to run before our Brooks meetings began. I met Carson (our west coast supervisor) in the lobby at 6am and we headed out for a pitch-black run through the streets of Crystal City. We hopped on the bike path after about five minutes and turned left, running past National Airport and toward the Mall. Since a short run was all we had time for, we just kept this a very simple out and back along the bike path. For the second day in a row, I was impressed with the number of walkers/runners/bikers out at such an early hour. I suspect this is just an early-rising city in general. I was also impressed that Carson and I were able to engage in a political discussion for about twenty minutes that was both civil and respectful, with neither of us disparaging the other's candidate too openly. That's definitely a breakthrough in our relationship (although it didn't stop me from wearing my "friends don't let friends vote republican" shirt to our subsequent meetings).

Only a section of the escalator at the Rosslyn metro stop

In the afternoon, after I BSed my way through my 30-minute presentation and managed to somehow not fall flat on my face, the girls were pitted against the guys in a DC Urban Challenge. Basically both teams were presented with a list of items we had to acquire or tasks we had to accomplish somewhere within the city, often with photographic proof required. A few examples: take the entire group's picture in front of the 9-11 memorial at the Pentagon, run up the stairs featured in "The Exorcist" movie and take a picture looking down, find a local specialty running shop and take your picture in front of it, etc. Because there were dolla dolla bills at stake for the winners, the girls team (which comprised myself, Gen and Megan Sierveld) were determined to outwit, outplay and outlast the boys. This involved a lot of rather brisk running in places such as the metro (and up the longest escalator I've ever seen at the Rosslyn stop), the Pentagon (I wondered briefly if we would get shot down by snipers, but I guess we got lucky), the Key Bridge and the Arlington National Cemetery. Suffice it to say I was sweating profusely the entire time and my quads are still throbbing from running up so many stairs. It was all worth it in the end, however, as we returned to the hotel before the boys and each of us ended up $130 richer. Should I actually count this as my second run? Perhaps not. Am I going to? Absolutely.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Early Bird Run

AM: 58 mins.
~8 miles
15 mins. core/stretching
PM: 30 mins
4+ miles

So apparently Jilane has a real job that necessitates getting up early to go running. Lame. At any rate, we both fairly leapt out of bed when the alarm went off this morning and bounded out the door, eager to tear up the streets of DC (read: we groggily slapped the alarm a few times before dragging our butts out of bed, bundling up into more clothes than I've worn in a year, and stumbling down the hallway). It was freezing cold outside (and I'm almost being literal here), and Jilane and I could see our breath as soon as we stepped outside. I'm definitely not in Georgia anymore.

Whether it was the darkness or the extreme cold or just our general lethargy/apathy toward running right now, this run seemed to pass in slow motion. Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed the bonding time and quality conversation with Jilane, but it felt like we were out there for hours.

After spending literally the entire day sequestered in Jilane's apartment under the pretense of finishing (read: starting) my presentation for work, I was unusually eager to lace 'em up and head out for my second run. Unfortunately, since I needed to be at our hotel for a Brooks dinner at a specific time, I couldn't wait for Jilane to get home before starting my jaunt. We passed and high-fived in the hallway--I was headed back to hit the showers and she was venturing out for her own double. I could definitely get used to this whole "Team MJ being together" business.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Week in Review

70 miles
1 day off
2 runs with Team MJ in its entirety

Well, this has been quite the week, capped off with me spending two entire days in DC with Jilane. Spontaneity is not my strong suit (it has a time and a place; that's what I always say), but I'm confident that changing my flight on a whim to come out here a few days early was the right call. I still haven't started my presentation for work, but that's what the rest of this evening is for.

From a running standpoint, this was certainly my most slack-ass week of the training cycle. And I'm okay with that. At this point, Jilane and I realize there's nothing much we can do to improve upon our fitness, and it's a good feeling to have the past five months' hard work in the proverbial bank. Next Sunday holds no guarantees, but I'm proud of us and what we've accomplished during this training cycle.

And so, inevitably, we've come to the point in this penultimate weekly recap where I must quote "Rent." Jordan is already aware of this and is preparing himself accordingly. But in all seriousness, the lyrics from my favorite song in this musical--about friendship, love and living every day to its fullest--could not be more appropriate for how I feel less than one week from go time. Throughout this training cycle, I have grown so much closer to Jeff, Owen, Jordan and Jilane. Especially Jilane. I could not have gotten through the past five months without knowing we were equally miserable at times and equally happy at other times. Regardless of what happens next weekend, the past few months have been more of a blessing than I could've ever imagined.

There's only us
There's only this
Forget regret
Or life is yours to miss.
No other road
No other way
No day but today.
--"No Day But Today," Rent

Team MJ's Non-Workout Workout

10 min. w/u (1+ miles)
Target: 3x2 miles @6:40 pace, no faster w/4:00 rest
Actual: (6:44, 6:20); (6:32, 6:42); (6:33, 6:50)
10 min. c/d (1+ miles)
Total: 10 miles

When Jilane and I spoke with Jeff about this workout, he was very adamant about it being easy (and not wanting it to really feel like a workout). In fact, he originally wanted us to run 6:30 pace but then amended this to 6:40, with specific instructions to "not get all excited because you two are together and start hammering 6 flat pace." As you can imagine at this stage in the training cycle, Jilane and I were happy to oblige.

We ended up sleeping in embarrassingly late this morning--embarrassing not necessarily because of the hour, but because we did nothing even remotely cool last night to necessitate extra sleep. That said, by the time we headed out to the C & O Canal (that's the "towpath" to the locals) around 10am, temperatures were still hovering in the mid-40s. Both of us wore capris, a move we regretted once we were in the sun for a few minutes, and it was a good reminder to dress down next we
ekend if the weather is similar.

A portion of the dirt/rock trail along the C&O Canal

From the outset of the first interval, Jilane and I were consciously trying not to press too hard. In fact, throughout the entire workout we kept up a steady conversation, which is an encouraging indicator of our fitness. The second mile of the first interval was a bit quick, but otherwise we reined things in and kept the rest of the run fluid and controlled. I never really felt like I was pressing at any point, and parts of the "workout" felt like a similar pace to yesterday's continuous run. We cooled down slowly through the trails to the car, happy to be done with our final medium-hard effort and eager to enjoy the beautiful Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Together At Last

59 mins.
8 miles

Today I awoke at an hour my body normally would not appreciate. However, on this occasion I didn't mind in the slightest considering that each passing moment brought me closer to my reunion with Jilane. I arrived in DC around 9am and was picked up shortly thereafter. It's definitely a bit cooler here than it has been in Atlanta, but the trade off is that the fall colors are absolutely gorgeo
us, so I'll take it.

After spending an hour or so lying around and catching up (as if we don't talk approximately 9 hours a day anyway), Jilane and I headed out for a run through Rock Creek Park. We opted to stay on the flatter, paved bike path for most of the run, and were definitely clipping along for most of it. I tagged this run as 8 miles but it was probably a tad more.

Seasonal colors at Rock Creek Park

After a brunch of eggs and pumpkin waffle at Open City we headed out for an afternoon of power shopping. After 3-4 hours on our feet, we made the executive decision to scrap the proposed double and instead took a trip to Whole Foods for dinner. I mean, shopping counts as cross-training, right?

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Real Actual Day Off. No, Seriously.

This day started with the best of intentions. Jim and Meredith both had the day off, so we planned to meet a tad later than usual at the river for a wog followed by breakfast. About halfway there, the rain started falling. And, as I type this almost 12 hours later, it hasn't stopped since. So anyway, I made the call to Jim that went something like, "I'm just throwing this out there. Feel free to throw it right back. But what do you say we skip the whole running part and just go straight to breakfast?" Fortunately they were happy to comply, so fifteen minutes later we were enjoying coffee and seasonal pastry items (pumpkin bagel with peanut butter for me, plain bagel with pumpkin cream cheese for Mere, and a delicious frosted pumpkin muffin for Jim) in the warm, dry comfort of Einstein's Bagels.

Lackadaisical morning notwithstanding, after speaking with Jeff around noon I still had intentions of running later in the day. That plan lasted about fifteen minutes, until my next gchat with Jilane. The conversation went something like the following Clif's notes:

me: I have nothing to do this weekend except my presentation for work.
Jilane: You should just come here a few days early.
me: I'll call Delta.
(five minutes later)
Jilane: Okay, well I'll pick you up tomorrow morning at 9am.
me: Sweet.

So yeah, in a highly uncharacteristic display of spontaneity, I decided to change my departure to DC from Monday to Saturday morning, which means Team MJ will be reunited by the time most of you are reading this! However, this also means that I had to cram an entire weekend's worth of reports for work, laundry, packing and other miscellaneous tasks into the next 12 hours. Add to that the ongoing torrential downpour, and I finally called the day's running a wash (no pun intended) around 6pm. Not to worry, Jilane and I will make it up tomorrow.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

8 Mile (Not the Eminem Version)

AM: 1.5 mile w/u
Target: 8 mile tempo; 4 @6:40 then cut down
Actual: 25:55 (6:29 pace); 6:30, 6:19, 6:18, 6:14
1.5 mile c/d

Total: 11 miles
PM: 26 mins.
3.5 miles

Today was pretty much my last hard workout before MCM. Let's all pause for a moment to allow that to sink in and perhaps throw up a celebratory fist pump. Anyhow, I decided to do this out at the river, utilizing the road on Columns for the first five miles and finishing with the three-mile loop on the dirt. The air was cool, if a touch humid, and I was quite chilly in my racerback top for the first mile or so.

Once I got out onto Columns, I settled into a comfortable pace rath
er quickly. Unlike last Saturday's tempo, which involved fighting a substantial headwind, today there was only a light breeze to speak of. As a result, I felt quite comfortable throughout the first five miles, and my breathing was steady and even. That feeling was short-lived once I stepped back onto the dirt path, however, since I was simultaneously trying to pick up the pace and struggling to maintain traction on the loosely-packed dirt. Don't get me wrong, it's a great training surface, but it definitely felt slow when contrasted with the asphalt. That said, I was pleased with my strong finish (and even more pleased to be done with workouts!), so I was quite the happy camper on my wog back to the car.

View of Midtown skyline at sunset from Piedmont Park

This evening was my third night in a row for group runs, this time a Nightlife run at the Phidippides location in Midtown. I ended up falling in line with a few guys who work at the store and, as a result, the pace was a touch quicker than I was expecting or would've liked. We dialed it back a notch on the back half of the run, which felt much more comfortable. Afterwards I enjoyed samplings of pizza, cookies and pumpkin-flavored Hershey's kisses--that's right, I said pumpkin--and counted the run a success on account of the free dinner.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Brooks Rep and Run, Round 2

AM: 58 mins.
8 miles
10 mins. abs and stretching
PM: 29 mins.
3.5+ miles

The air was noticeably cooler this morning than any previous day this week, and I had some pep in my step pretty much from the outset. I ran through the Highlands and down the Freedom Trail, past my old apartment building and all the way to where the trail terminates at the MLK Memorial. Flipped a U and headed back toward the Highlands, then turned right on Ponce and hooked up with the bike path there.

In the evening I ran with the group at Phidippides in Sandy Springs, as Brooks was sponsoring a Nightlife run. Since this is the store that Jim works at, I was happy but not surprised when Meredith showed up, and I spent most of the run chatting with her and another employee, Gretchen. We kept the pace very slow, which I didn't mind since we were essentially on the sidewalks in Sandy Springs the entire time.

Of note: Meredith informed me that Dairy Queen is currently featuring a pumpkin pie flavored Blizzard. She recently mixed in M&M's with hers and pronounced it delicious. I must look into this tasty treat ASAP.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Double Down in Decatur

AM: 74 mins.
10 miles
PM: 26-27 mins.
~3.5 miles

I took it nice and easy on my morning jaunt throug
h Lullwater Park, and surprisingly felt decent. I went the short way to the park (down Briarcliff to N. Decatur to Clifton), which involves more time on the sidewalk, but also allowed me to take two loops through the park instead of one. The fall colors were beautiful and I thoroughly enjoyed this jaunt.

Beautiful autumn colors in Lullwater Park

In the evening I participated in a Brooks-sponsored fun run at Fleet Feet Decatur. This was their first night for the run, as their store is fairly new, so most people opted for a three-mile loop. By default, I took the lead with a guy named Scott who knew the area pretty well--however, not well enough since we missed one turn-off and ended up adding on a bit. I didn't really mind, as it was a very nice night and I was enjoying being outside.

Monday, October 13, 2008

I Heart Mondays

AM: 90 mins.
~12.5-13 miles
PM: 30 min. walk

So today I was technically scheduled for 16, but I had a pretty solid hunch that wasn't going to come to fruition. My legs are experiencing some residual soreness from the 6x2, and yesterday's massage left me feeling pretty banged up as well. I headed to the river with hopes of at least getting in a solid 90 minutes, but beyond that I didn't expect much.

Since Meredith had a planned day off, it was just Jim and myself today. Pretty much from the outset I could tell we were banging out a decent pace, and when we hit Columns Drive at 1.5 miles we settled in to about 6:55-7 min. pace for the next five. From there we hit the dirt again, took a brief detour uphill through the wooded trails (which slowed the pace but definitely didn't diminish the effort), then finished up with another mile or so on the dirt path. I dropped him off at the Cochran Shoals parking lot just after 9.5 miles and decided to do another 5k dirt loop before calling it a day. By this point my legs were pretty fatigued, but I timed the final mile just for kicks and was surprised to see the split just over 6:40. I jogged around in the parking lot for a few minutes to finish things up. While I didn't meet the distance requirement for this run, I'm pretty sure I ran at least 8-9 miles of it at or below 7 min. pace, so I'm pleased with the effort.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Week in Review

80-85 miles? Probably 82? Who knows.
5 runs with Jordan
1 trip to the beach
1 bottle of peach Lindeman's

So, I'm basically over this whole "running" business. As I told Jilane a few days ago, it's convenient that our tapering coincides perfectly with our general apathy. It was wonderful to have Jordan's company and a change of scenery for most of the week, and I can't wait until this time next week (!!) when I'm finally in DC and reunited with the better half of Team MJ. Overall, I'm confident that my fitness is where it needs to be, so at this point it's just putting on the finishing touches and tune-ups and trying to stay healthy and rested for a few more weeks.

Sunday Morning in the Trails

AM: 90 mins.
12 miles

PM: Excruciating massage

Since yesterday's workout was pretty lengthy, I was able to dial things back a bit on Sunday. I spoke with Jim and Meredith last night about meeting me, and they were 75% in but thought they might want to sleep in for a day. Meredith said she'd call me by 7:15am (15 mins. before our scheduled meeting time) if they were going to bail. When I arrived at the Cochran Shoals parking lot around 7:25 I still hadn't received a call, so I decided to jog around for a few minutes and then meet them back at the lot. I checked my phone at 7:30 and saw I'd had a missed call from then a few minutes earlier...not a good sign. I waited until 7:35 and then r
esigned myself to the prospect of running alone.

I decided to do a loop and a half on the dirt path and then head up into the wooded trails to kill some time. I was about two miles into the run when I saw Jim approaching from the other direction. Turns out he and Meredith has arrived just a few moments after I left Cochran Shoals and decided to split up and each run a different direction around the loop in hopes of catching me. Jim and I turned around and met Meredith about a half mile back, then continued into the trails for the rest of the run. I was pretty much thrilled to see them, as I was feeling tired and slow from my Columns Drive workout and wasn't stoked about grinding this out solo.

That said, the run still felt fairly hard, as we were back in the hilly and technical trails for most of it. Fall has definitely, well, fallen around here, and the multicolored leaves that now carpet the ground are quite pretty. Unfortunately their presence necessitates paying extra close attention to where you're putting your feet, as it's now easier than ever to overlook a stray rock or root that's in your path. The absolute last thing I need at this juncture is to twist an ankle. Luckily this wasn't an issue today, and I thoroughly enjoyed running and catching up with my friends.

In the afternoon I headed to Massage Envy for my first session with Michael, who specializes in cranio-sacral massage. Basically he thought that my hamstrings were constantly tight because of issues with my lower back, which is plausible, and so he did a series of techniques designed to balance out my spinal fluid or something. Apparently my sacrum was stuck in the extended position, which is not a good thing, so he tried to relax it back to how it is supposed to be. Then he explored my hamstrings and quads and had a jolly time breaking up all the myofascial tears. I just tried not to cry, as it was extremely painful. He seemed quite pleased with his work by the time we were finished and I signed up for another session next Sunday before leaving for MCM.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Columns Drive Workout

Target: 2x6 miles @6:30 or faster w/10 min. rest
Actual: 15 min. w/u (2 miles); 6:29, 6:26, 6:26, 6:15, 6:27, 6:29; 10 min. rest (1 mile); 6:29, 6:33, 6:25, 6:32, 6:25, 6:23; 4 min. c/d (.5 miles)
Total: 15.5 miles

There are some workouts you look at on paper and know you'll be able to hit out of the park. There are also some you just hope you won't screw up too badly. For me, this workout certainly fell into the latter category. I decided to utilize Columns Drive for five of the six miles, finishing up the final mile of each interval on the dirt loop. After sleeping in way too late before driving out to the river, I finally started this workout around 10am, which made the conditions a tad warm but not terrible.

One thing I recently noticed about Columns when I started doing harder runs there is that it's a false flat; the first 2.5 mile section out to Johnson Ferry is a very gradual, continuous uphill, which obviously means that the 2.5 miles back to the river is slightly downhill in equal measure. Today there was a strong headwind on the "out" sections, which meant that the first 2.5 miles of each interval were, put simply, a struggle. I definitely looked forward to the point where I could turn around and feel a reprieve. As you can see, I took full advantage (perhaps too much so) of the return trip on the first interval, where I got a bit carried away and clocked a 6:15 mile in the middle of things. Otherwise the splits were very consistent, acceptable but certainly not spectacular, and I managed to grind things out at approximately the correct pace.

Nothing much else of note except that I took an espresso-flavored Gu in between the two intervals, which was quite tasty. Until now I'd been "practicing" with Clif Shots because that's what's provided at MCM, but after sampling Jordan's berry Gu last weekend I discovered that I liked the consistency and flavor much better. With this the case, my new plan is to carry a few in my pockets at the race and also make sure Jordan has some at the ready.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Back to Reality

AM: 75 mins.
10 miles
PM: 31 mins.
4 miles

So after running with Jordan for the past seven days, my run this morning was, well, boring. I find my runs so much more enjoyable when I have someone to talk to, which meant that today I was having to force myself to refrain from checking my watch every ten minutes. My legs felt fairly stiff from yesterday's travel and from our hilly run in Balboa Park, so I kept the pace relaxed and even.

Of note, this is also the first day of my self-imposed dry spell until after MCM. That's right, no alcohol at all for the next two weeks. It's not that I often drink to excess, but I can easily fall into a routine of enjoying a glass or two of wine a night (see my entire vacation as an example). At this point, two weeks out from MCM, I want to make sure I'm doing everything possible to facilitate a good performance. That said, if someone chooses to meet me at the finish line with a bottle of peach Lindeman's, I certainly can't stop them.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Bidding Adieu to Balboa Park

90 mins.
11-12 miles

On our last morning in San Diego, Jordan and I decided to go on a long-ish run and expl
ore a few more sections of the park. This was by far my favorite run in San Diego, as we spent most of the time wandering around with no idea of where we were or where we were going yet being perfectly content.

The Prado fountain at sunrise

During the course of the run we ran through or past the Prado, the Haunted Trail, the sports complex with the velodrome, the Balboa Park Golf Course and several other dirt and rock trails. Several portions of this run were up and down steep embankments and also through some wooded areas (most of which seemed to take us in rather convoluted circles and ended up depositing us right back where we'd entered them). We kept the pace pretty uptempo on the flats, but there were plenty of hills and uneven footing to slow us down.

Balboa Park trails

After the run it was back to Hillcrest to shower and eat breakfast before heading to the airport. I was sad to see the vacation come to an end, but what a fantastic week.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Workout That Was Not Meant to Be

Target: 1 mile @5:40; 3 mile tempo @6:40; 1200 @85 sec. pace, 3 mile tempo@6:40, 800 all out (no rest)
Actual: 2 mile w/u, 5:37, 3 mile tempo, 1200, ~3 mile c/d=DISASTER
Total: 10? miles

So, our location basically in downtown San Diego meant that finding a place to do this workout would be a challenge. After the velodrome turned out to be, well, a velodrome, we started exploring other options. Jordan's trusty iPhone found what looked to be a school with a track on the edge of Balboa Park, so we planned to borrow the car and head there in the morning to work out.

After 30 minutes or so of driving around trying to find this place (and then trying to find a place to park that wouldn't get us towed or ticketed or both), we located said track. Immediately we noticed several problems. First of all, there appeared to be a large PE class playing flag football or something on the infield (apparently this stadium was shared by the high school and adjacent college). Secondly, the track was sunken down considerably lower than ground level, accessible only by a series of ramps and stairs, which would make the "no rest between intervals" aspect of the workout a bit difficult. And finally, there was pretty much nowhere to do the tempos that didn't involve dodging traffic and/or running uphill on the sidewalk most of the way.

Nonetheless (and sweltering temperatures notwithstanding), we set out to give it our best effort. By the time we finished our warm up the track was clear, so the first mile went off without a hitch. To be honest, I was surprised at how easy that pace felt, given I haven't run a mile under 5:50 in approximately forever. The tempo was another story. Since we kicked it off by running up the stadium stairs and over one of the aforementioned ramps, I was already wheezing like an obese chain-smoker after the first 400 meters. Once again, Jordan was great, carrying water for me and offering encouragement, but I pretty much felt like crap and never regained my breath during the entire uphill section. When he updates his blog you can see the splits, but I have no idea what they were since I didn't even bother starting my watch.

By the time we returned to the track for the 1200, chaos had taken over. By "chaos" I, of course, mean a throng of high school kids. Literally, there were over 100 of them, and their arrival to the track coincided in devilish perfection with ours. This meant we spent the entire three laps dodging these little turds, most of whom seemed to make it their personal mission to stand directly in our way (and the ones who didn't were so absorbed in their IPods that they managed to get in our way accidentally). Words can't even do justice to the cluster-eff that this scene entailed. As soon as we finished the interval, one of the "coaches" started yelling at Jordan and telling him we had to leave (Aw, really? That's a shame. I really wanted to hang out with the kiddos.) We were happy to do so, save for the fact that for a few excruciating minutes we were actually locked INSIDE this torture chamber. By the time we were finally set free, I was pretty much done and done with the whole workout debacle. We cooled down for a bit along the Prado and called it a day.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Discovered by the Germans in 1904, they named it San Diego, which of course in German means...

AM: 38-39 mins.
5 miles
15 mins. core/stretching
PM: 42-43 mins.
~5.7 miles
3.5 hours walking around

~5-6 miles

Jordan and I ventured out for a quick run this morning in Palm
Springs before heading to San Diego for the remainder of our trip. We were looking forward to some cooler weather, which unfortunately didn't pan out as we'd planned. Temps were well into the 80s and perhaps even low 90s when we arrived, but nonetheless we wanted to walk around and explore the Hillcrest area and the neighboring Balboa Park. We spent the entire afternoon meandering around, spending most of our time in the park and even taking a spin through the Museum of Man. Jordan insisted on walking around without his shirt on ("We're in a park!") so I pretended not to know him for most of the day.

A fountain and one of the museums along the Prado

After taking a few minutes to relax and drink a gallon or so of water, we headed out for an evening run around 5pm. It was still quite warm and sunny, but at least the humidity was low, so overall the run was quite enjoyable. We headed back over to the park and ran along Prado, the main street where all the museums and fountains are located, then meandered down through some of the trails before crossing a busy street to hook up with more trails. We passed a sports complex which included some baseball fields and a velodrome (not a track, which we'd thought/hoped it was after looking at a Google map), then decided to turn and head for home. Unfortunately this involved running up the steepest hill I've EVER seen on a street called Upas. To add insult to injury, Jordan charged up it about 90 miles per hour and left me behind. I walked. Life's like that sometimes.


Jordan finds a friend at the Museum of Man

Monday, October 6, 2008

Pre-Nuptial Jaunt

65-66 mins.
~8.5-9 miles

We kept this run pretty short, since there were more pressing matters to attend to on Monday morning. I was feeling a bit stiff and heavy-legged from the marathon simulation, so I was fine with keeping this one brief. It's funny, after only a few days in Palm Springs it feels like I've run on these roads a hundred times. Since they're flat, even and well-paved I can't really complain. Plus the beautiful blue skies and des
ert landscape make for some interesting scenery.

At the wedding: Turns out we clean up pretty nice.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Week in Review

85 miles
1 raging hangover
2 pumpkin spice lattes
3 days in the desert

So, this week was actually much more enjoyable than I expected. Not only did I get in a ton of runs with other people (Ozzie (1), Big Peach (1), Jordan (2), Meredith (2)), but I also got to see some new scenery and, of course, start my long-awaited vacation. I also completed what I would probably consider to be my two best workouts of this training cycle with the 3x3 on Wednesday and the marathon simulation on Sunday. The first I conquered solo and the second I couldn't have done without Jordy's help.

Overall, like Jilane said, at three weeks out I have no unusual aches or pains, no burgeoning injuries, no lingering soreness. After speaking with Jeff yesterday I'm definitely pumped, not only for the marathon but also for a few things on the horizon soon after. Life is good.

Palm Springs Marathon Simulation

Target: 14-15 miles @marathon pace (~6:52)
Actual: 1 mile w/u (8:29), 7:02, 6:59, 6:35, 6:40, 6:49, 6:30, 6:26, 6:45, 6:36, 6:45, 6:29, 6:24, 6:25, 3:08 (1/2 mile), ~5 min. c/d
Total: 15.36 miles, 13.86 @6:38 pace
Jordan's recap

Jordan and I got out the door early for my marathon simulation run. He already had a ~10.5 mile route mapped out, so we decided to run this loop back to the condo and then finish with a 4 mile loop he constructed earlier in the week. After talking with Jeff, Jordan agreed to only tell me the first few splits and then to make me go on feel after that. Because the first two miles were continuously uphill, I started a touch off the pace. While this wasn't a problem, it did result in me feeling a bit anxious about being behind pace the whole time. I was pretty surprised when Jordan told me my splits after the workout, which is always a nice feeling.

As you can see from the above splits, unbeknownst to me I dropped the pace significantly after the first two miles. Mile five was a definite uphill (6:49), followed by another mile substantially downhill (6:30). Once we finished the first loop I was in desperate need of a bathroom, but for some reason the condo was locked so I had to scurry over to the coffee shop across the street instead. Jordan met me there and we got rolling as soon as possible. My next mile was a bit slower (6:45) as I took an entire Clif Shot and drank some water, but we picked things back up as soon as I finished fueling. We closed strongly and then jogged a quick cool down before heading back to the condo to get ready for brunch.

Overall, I have to give props to Jordan for doing a fantastic job all around with this workout. He remembered the twists and turns of the loop perfectly, gave me encouragement when I needed it and held my water and gels for the entire second loop. Improbably, we didn't get stopped once at any street intersections, which helped keep the rhythm intact. I'm quite pleased with what this workout indicates about my fitness, and I can't wait to see what Jilane and I can do in T minus three weeks.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Welcome to the Desert

72 mins.
~10 miles
~15 mins. core/stretching

So, I finally found someplace that is actually flatter than Norman. After touching down Friday afternoon in Ahhnold's state, it quickly became apparent that I would h
ave my choosing of long, straight flat roads to train on. Not to mention I'm smack in the middle of the desert. That said, Palm Springs is gorgeous and I'm looking forward to some new running scenery for the next week.

Wind turbines near Palm Springs. They're everywhere!

Jordan and I started off the weekend with an easy 10 on Saturday morning, meandering through the city and surrounding neighborhoods. He showed me many homes where famous people once lived (and have since either moved away or died, or moved away then died) and also a few houses his fam has lived in before. After the run, we showered up and then headed out for a day of shopping. Pretty much a perfect Saturday as far as I'm concerned.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Friday Wog

61 mins.
8 miles

I woke up relatively early to put this run on the board before heading to the airport. My entire left side was tight and my right ankle was a bit stiff, all resulting from a near tumble I took in the trails yesterday morning. It wasn't a big deal at the time, but I'm definitely dealing with some delayed soreness today. I felt much better by the end of the run, but overall this one wasn't the highlight of the week.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

It's a Beautiful Day

74 mins.
10 miles

Had a fantastic morning run with Meredith at the river. It was 48 degrees at the start--definitely the coolest morning in, well, forever--and I actually wore long sleeves and capris. This is pretty much my favorite weather, as fall is my favorite season and October is my favorite month, so I'm all around a happy girl right now. Oh, and my legs felt pretty decent after yesterday's high mileage, which was an added bonus.

I consciously chose not to go out for an evening run, as I'm trying to cut my mileage back this week. Plus I had about five loads of laundry to do and bags to pack for tomorrow's trip, so the daylight kind of just got away from me. Now I'm headed to Jim and Meredith's to watch the VP debate, which promises to be a glorious train wreck. Not a bad day all around.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Starting the Month Off Right

AM: 21 min. w/u (~3 miles)
Target: 3x3 mile @6:40 w/4:00 rest
Actual: 19:12 (6:22, 6:24, 6:26); 19:18 (6:24, 6:27, 6:27); 19:02 (6:15, 6:26, 6:20)
19 min. c/d (2.5 miles)
Total: 15 miles
PM: 43 mins.
5+ miles

As I just told Jilane, if the weather at MCM is anything like
today we should have an awesome run. In contrast to yesterday's hot and humid conditions (sorry, Oz), today was cool, crisp and dry, with a light breeze. Absolutely beautiful. I'm confident that the weather, combined with my relative "off" day yesterday, facilitated what I consider to be one of my best workouts of this entire training cycle.

From the first mile I could tell things were going to go well. Initially I was concerned that starting off at such an ambitious pace would result in disaster by the end, but after about a mile and a half of fighting it I decided to just chill out and allow things to play out as they may. The last interval was definitely tough (especially considering I led off the first mile with a 3:05 800--not sure what happened there) but I felt strong and in control throughout. My hamstring tightened up a bit, but I deliberately took a minute or two of the "rest" betwe
en intervals to stretch, and that seemed to help.

Believe it or not, hammering the workout itself was actually not the highlight of this run. I had just begun the cool down and was still running through the park, basically zoned out, when I passed a pair of girls and heard one of them yell my name. Turns out it was Katherine, one of my closest friends from when I lived here before but hadn't seen since moving back. We stopped and spent a few minutes catc
hing up and made plans to hang out as soon as I get back from California. It was absolutely wonderful to run into her (literally) and I can't wait to see her again. Made my day!

Kat and me back in the day.

In the evening, my sales rep and I did a group run with a few of the employees from the Big Peach in Kennesaw. This was only my second time to run in the trails there, and while they were a bit rocky and root-y in parts, overall the run was quite enjoyable. My legs loosened up after the first ten minutes and I felt decent the rest of the time. Overall I'd say this is a solid day to put in the books.