Sunday, November 30, 2008

Week in Review

46 miles
1 BMX bike
5 runs with Jordan
1 chocolate pecan pie

Looking back on this week, I'm pretty pleased with upping the ante to 46 miles (Jordan and I counted 50 when we were adding it up in our heads, but what can I say, neither of us were math majors). I had a great time visiting my parents and spending the week with Jordan, and I'm pretty excited for the White Rock relay and surrounding festivities coming up in a few weeks. Having just received a winter training schedule from Jeff, I'm hoping to get into some consistent mileage in the coming weeks and perhaps even throw in a workout or two.

My foot continues to be manageable, hurting sometimes but never getting worse, and I'm back on the lima bean and ibuprofen regimen full force. Jordan noticed almost immediately that my stride is weird now; I land with my usual forefoot strike on the left foot but am rolling through an exaggerated heel-toe motion on my right (injured) foot. It's obviously a compensation mechanism but it's throwing me off and I don't like it. I'm ready to kick this nagging quasi-injury for good.

Running the Rock

72-73 mins.
10 miles

Since Team OK Runner Elite has a title to capture in exactly two weeks at the Dallas White Rock Marathon, Jordan and I decided it would be prudent to take in a jog at White Rock Lake and strategize over part of the race course. To the best of my recollection (having run this relay three times previously), the exchanges between legs 2 and 3 and legs 3 and 4 both occur on the lake; as a result, legs 2, 3 and 4 run part or all of their relay section on the bike path and roads surrounding the lake. Obviously it would be to our advantage to strategize these portions (and the related transportation, which could prove to be quite the headache).

View of the downtown Dallas skyline from White Rock Lake

For today's run, we drove down from our hotel in Frisco/Plano and parked across from Flagpole Hill. One loop around the lake is almost exactly 15k, and adding on the extra bit to and from our parking lot made the run just over 10 miles. We kept a pretty decent clip throughout, despite being passed by a few weekend warriors at the beginning and facing a severe headwind toward the end. Jordan's self-esteem plummeted drastically after two dudes rolled us up, but I reminded him he's been doing his charity work by running with girls and shouldn't worry about it.

Pedestrian bridge over the lake near Mockingbird Ave.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Adios, Mt. Pleasant

60 mins.
8 miles

For our last jaunt in Mt. Pleasant, Jordan and I stuck to the newly-paved and low-traffic country roads we'd grown accustomed to during the trip. First we took a spin over to the park adjacent to my parents' house so we could measure the distance of the walking path for my mom with Jordan's GPS. She has been known to take in a power walk after work on occasion and wanted to be sure she wasn't giving herself more credit than she deserved on the distance. Anyway, after looping the concrete path we headed back to the roads for the remainder of the run. As Jordan said, not much else to report other than a wild animal sighting of the coyote varietal. Jordan wanted to play with the little guy but I preferred to hightail it home, and luckily we emerged unscathed.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday

30 mins.
4 miles

After a Thanksgiving day filled with food, napping, food, football, food and an early bedtime, Jordan and I awoke before 5am on Black Friday to help fulfill a Christmas wish. You see, my mom is participating in an angel tree at work, and the 8-year-old boy whose name she drew really wanted a bicycle. We found a sweet bike advertised in the Wal-Mart newspaper insert on Thursday, naturally with the catch being that the sale only lasted from 5-11am, and Jordan took the liberty of volunteering both of us to get up before the crack of dawn and procure it ("Come on, it will be fun!").

Now, let me make something very clear: I love to shop. There is no disputing that. However, as much as I love to shop, I hate crowds and bargain-shopping in equal measure. They could've been selling gold-plated crack cocaine for $5 at Wal-Mart on Friday and it wouldn't have enticed me. Therefore, I have never in my life done the whole "Black Friday" deal or ever had any remote desire to do so. At the same time, I knew nothing would really encapsulate the whole "East Texas" experience for Jordan like meeting half of my graduating class and their families at the one and only local shopping establishment at 5am. I was pretty confident this would be a first and last experience for both of us. Anyhow, long story short, we got the bike. But I kid you not, I have never seen anything as frantic and chaotic as that Wal-Mart. We had to park almost a half mile away to get a spot. Seriously. And yes, we did see plenty of people from my high school and yes, Mt. Pleasant's finest were out and about and certainly didn't disappoint my guest.

As you can imagine, after this exhausting endeavor neither of us were too eager to run. Add to that the intermittent cold rain showers that lasted the entire day, and you've got a recipe for lethargy. We were almost going to scrap the run altogether in favor of an extended nap, until around noon when my dad came upstairs and informed us he'd just logged a few miles. Not wanting to be shown up by the geezer (kidding, Dad!) we set out for a 30-minute jaunt. We arrived home just in time for Jordan to eat all of our Thanksgiving leftovers in sandwich form and then settled in to hibernate for the rest of the rainy afternoon.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey Day

~60 mins.
8 miles

Jordan and I slept in and enjoyed a leisurely morning of coffee drinking before venturing out around 11 for this run. The running in my parents' small town is less than ideal, as there are no trails or bike paths to speak of, but fortunately they live in a nice neighborhood with a variety of country roads within easy reach. Today we set out from their house and meandered out and back on one of these aforementioned roads for a bit. The road has been repaved since my last visit, and the surface was quite nice for a change.

At the end of the run we incorporated a detour to CVS as Jordan needed to purchase some razors for his bi-annual shave. We finished up through Dellwood Park, which runs adjacent to my parents' neighborhood, before heading back home. I needed to make myself moderately presentable for the Thanksgiving meal and Jordan needed to actually get in some miles under 7:30 pace, so he headed back out for a few minutes while I went inside to hit the showers. By 1pm the feast was ready and all thoughts of health and fitness went out the window.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Cowtown Jaunt

~57 mins.
8 miles

This morning I awoke at 5am (that's 4am Central, for anyone who can't do the math) and immediately headed to the airport. I had no idea how busy things were going to be on the morning before Thanksgiving--the busiest travel day of the year at one of the biggest airports in the country--and I wanted to make sure I had plenty of time to spare before my 7:30am flight. To my pleasant surprise, everything went incredibly smoothly, and I even had time to read a magazine before boarding the plane and settling in for a catnap.

After a brief flight of just over two hours (which felt even shorter when contrasted with my day-long cross-country travels of the previous few weeks), we landed at DFW. I met Jordan just outside my baggage claim and we headed to the rental car center to procure our luxurious vehicle for the weekend. For a mere $7/day I upgraded us to a Jetta, and I think it's safe to say this is the nicest rental car I've ever had. Sure beats the hell out of that minivan. Anyway, we drove to Ft. Worth to get in a run before driving to my parents' house in Nowhere, East Texas (otherwise known as Mt. Pleasant). A good friend of mine lives along the Trinity River trail, so we stowed our belongings and changed at his house and then headed out the door. I had a loop in mind that I thought was somewhere between 7 and 9 miles and would give Jordan a nice sampling of Ft. Worth neighborhoods.

View of downtown Ft. Worth from the river trail
As it turns out, the loop ended up being almost exactly 8 miles. We headed east on the river trail for a few miles, then crossed a bridge and meandered through the posh neighborhoods around the Colonial Country Club. From there we ran toward Overton Park and then hopped on the bike path for a bit. We crossed Bellaire and continued along the trail until we reached the low water crossing opposite the side of the river we'd started on. I opted to cross on the stepping stones, while Jordan wussed out and took the concrete dam. We jogged the remaining mile back to Cabe's place and then did a few strides in the grass near his house to shake out the legs.
Low water crossing on the Trinity River at sunset

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Chilly Morning at the River

60 mins.
8 miles

When I woke up at 6:15 this morning to meet Jim and Meredith at the river, my first thought was: "Yeah, getting up this early definitely sucks." This was immediately followed by: "Well you better suck it up, because this time tomorrow you'll already be at the airport." So, without further grumbling, I got suited up and hopped in the car to meet them at the river.

The air was quite chilly on the heels of a cold front after yesterday's rain, and the coolness was even more accentuated by our proximity to the river. Nonetheless, we had a solid run, and my legs felt closer to being normal than they have any time in recent memory. All parties were eager to wrap this day up and head home for the holidays--myself to Texas, them to Florida to visit both sets of parents--so most of the run was spent discussing exactly what and how much we were going to eat over the course of the weekend. Good times.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Owen is Old and I am Lazy

In honor of Owen's birthday and because it's raining and because I'm lazy, I didn't run today. The foot is almost 100% so I'm using injury recovery as my legitimate excuse for taking a pass. Tomorrow is a new day.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Week in Review

~31-32 miles
3 elliptical sessions
5 AFDs

Well, this week certainly wasn't much better than last in terms of running. 30 miles?? That's embarrassing. Even Mike DeCoste is running that much. At least I exercised every single day and, more importantly, am finally (fingers crossed) getting rid of my foot pain once and for all. I still feel a few occasional twinges but for the most part things are back to normal. I'm trying to be overly cautious by continuing my icing regimen and jumping on softer surfaces when possible, so hopefully that will be enough to do the trick. I may take a day off before heading home to Texas next week, which should simultaneously allow my foot and body to rest while preparing to run Jordan into the ground over the holiday weekend.

Also, as I hinted at earlier this week, there's a new racing challenge on the relatively immediate horizon. In following with our recently acquired ability for planned, structured spontaneity, Jilane and I both booked flights to come to Dallas/OKC for White Rock Marathon AND put together a dynamite co-ed relay team. Thanks to Mr. Moneybags (aka Tim Thompson) we will be running gratis as Team OK Runner Elite. Our team comprises myself, Jilane, Jordan, Scotty D and Jerry (who is fresh off his VOSV at Tulsa Marathon). Last year's winning co-ed team averaged a paltry 5:47 pace per mile, a benchmark we're confident we can surpass even if still hung over from the McNellie's Pub Run victory celebration on Friday night. I'm stoked to spend the weekend with Jordan and Jilane and our other friends and to run a fun, hard effort at White Rock. Mark December 14th on your calendar as the day that Team OK Runner Elite cements our place in the record books.

I'm Quitting Running and Joining a Band

AM: 63 mins.
8-8.5 miles
PM: Rock Band 2

I met Jim and Meredith at the river late in the morning for an easy run. The problem is, none of my runs seem very easy these days. Today I was severely sore/fatigued in the hamstring and quad area, and my legs never really felt like they loosened up. I was grateful for the company, as I would've probably turned around at 10 minutes if I were solo, but I continue to grow frustrated with how slow and out of shape I feel.

In the afternoon I joined in on a marathon session of Rock Band 2 at Jeff's house. I've played this game once before with Brooke and Jordan at the Starr's and it's definitely a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon/evening. I dazzled the crowd with my vocal stylings on a variety of hits such as "We Got the Beat," "More Than a Feeling," "Simple Man" and "Jesse's Girl." If this whole running thing doesn't work out, I certainly wouldn't rule out professional karaoke singer as one of my fallback options.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

72 Minutes of Glory

72 mins.
10 miles

I woke up this morning in Brooke's pajama bottoms at her parents' house in Woodstock. We had intended to come downtown and go out last night after I took her to pick up her car from the shop, but then her dad Doug E Fresh (who has beaten Jordan in pickleball like a million times, incidentally) offered to take us out to dinner. Fast forward to 10pm, at which point we were still hanging out with the Starrs and just decided to stay there for the evening.

So yeah, we woke up around 7:30 and spent a few hours lounging around and drinking coffee. Jordan called me midway through his morning run and we chatted until he finished at 72 minutes. I was feeling pretty lazy and disgusting, considering that he was an hour behind me and had already finished a lengthy jog, so I vowed to also run 72 minutes at some point today. Given my lackluster outings the past few weeks, that was a pretty bold declaration. I knew I could not accomplish it on my own due to aforementioned laziness, so I texted Ashley and enlisted her company.

Fortunately she was happy to oblige, and she met me at my apartment around 4 this afternoon. We took the long way to Piedmont Park and then just lapped the AO for a while. Neither of us had been down there in a while and we both wanted to get on a softer surface, so it was the logical choice. I felt pretty crappy for the first 30 minutes (my hamstrings are so sore from the hilly runs of the past few days) but perked up the last 20-30 minutes or so. We reached my driveway at exactly 72 minutes and I knew I had achieved victory.

Oh, and I bought that space heater. My apartment is already up to 60 degrees! Life is grand.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Coldest Run Ever

52-53 mins.
7 miles

For the second week in a row, Jennie and I met at Ashley's apartment for a run. Today we were joined by a fourth, our friend Kate who works at Big Peach. It was markedly colder today than it has been on any run so far this year, and I (over)dressed like a hobo to compensate. I wore the shirt that earned me the famous Green Lightning moniker, a top that we at Brooks affectionately refer to as the "Old 98er" because it costs 98 bucks. I even committed to gloves and a headband around my ears, as the wind chill had temps in the low 20s.

Partly because it was cold and partly because we wanted to get to the crux of the morning (i.e. breakfast), we kept things at a pretty decent clip. I'm actually sore from running yesterday, which is more than a little embarrassing, and I was huffing and puffing toward the end of today's effort. Also, my face was frozen. I was pretty happy to pack it in just after 50 minutes and head over to Highland Bakery.

Also, I'm getting a space heater today. The insanity ends now.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


AM: 50 mins.
6+ miles
PM: ~30 min. walk

After arriving home quite late from sales meeting last night, I was content to sit around in my pajamas until roughly noon this morning. At that point I decided to try out a little tester jog on my foot. It's definitely been feeling better with the time off, but I was nervous about how it would feel while running. I decided to set out for a "40 to 45, up to but not over 50" minute run (you Oklahomans will appreciate that reference) to see how things felt.

So, here's the good news: my foot felt fine. Actually, that's slightly misleading. For the first 15 minutes I could not feel either of my feet, as they've succumbed to frostbite. You see, I have a habit of turning off my thermostat when I leave town for long periods of time and then seeing how long I can hold out before turning it back on upon my return. Usually "how long I can hold out" ends up being until I am constantly sweating despite stripping down to my underwear (in the summer) or shivering like a wet cat until I can no longer feel my appendages (in the winter). To the best of my recollection, I turned off the thermostat when I left for Palm Springs on or around October 3rd and it has remained in the "off" position ever since. Usually at this point, when outside temperatures are hovering in the low to mid 30s at night, I would finally break down and turn it on. The problem this time, however, is that my heat runs on gas. And guess who hasn't even contacted the gas company since moving here in July? That's right. So, not only do I not currently have heat, I don't even have the option of heat. Which means when I woke up this morning and saw that the thermostat read, oh, somewhere in the neighborhood of 54 degrees, I had absolutely no recourse except layering on more clothing and staying in my bed.

But I digress. Point being, I couldn't feel my feet for quite some time on the run. However, once the blood did get circulating, I was pleased to note that my foot didn't feel half bad. The rest of my body, on the other hand, felt horrible. Well, not horrible, just slow and awkward and sluggish. Hopefully this is something that I will snap out of pretty quickly. Especially since rumor has it that I need to get my game face on for a race sometime soon...but more on that later.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

It's Better Than Nothing

Monday: 50 mins. elliptical
Tuesday: 45 mins. elliptical
Wednesday: 60 mins. elliptical

So, as much as I'm sure you'd enjoy reading three separate posts detailing my elliptical workouts in real time, I've decided to consolidate them into one posting. After all, there's really only so much that can be said about stumbling bleary-eyed into the workout room at 6am in an attempt to simultaneously wake up and rid oneself of a raging hangover while straining to burn a meager 347 calories. Ah, the joys of sales meeting.

Hanging out with our VIP guest after Sunday's dinner

But seriously, it was a pretty intense week. Meetings allll day every day. If a workout was going to happen, it was going to happen before the Today Show even thought about starting. For that reason, I was somewhat proud of myself for slogging it out every day. I doubt it did anything to mitigate my caloric intake and inactivity throughout the rest of the day, but a girl can only do so much.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Week in Review

~30 miles
3 days off
1 day of elliptical
8 hours of flying
4 time zones

So, 30 miles. Definitely the lowest since I've started blogging. I gotta be honest, I know it's good for my body, but not so much for my self-esteem. It doesn't help when tards like Jordan are posting a 97-mile week. Oh, and speaking of Jordan, if you haven't heard by now I definitely lost our bet. Check out his related post to see the options he is considering as his payment. Sigh.

Mike Tyson tattoos notwithstanding, this was a pretty solid week for me in areas unrelated to running, and I'm looking forward to the next few days of catching up with friends and coworkers in one of my favorite cities. Hopefully taking a few days to allow my foot to recover will enable me to get back to business as usual when I return to the ATL.

Let the Cross-Training Begin

60 mins. elliptical
15 mins. abs/core

Chelsea got up pretty early to head out to her flight instructor certification class, so I decided to get up as well and make my way over to the Westin Bellevue, my home for the majority of the week. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to check in at 9am, but thought at the very least I could stow my bags and grab a workout in their fitness center in the interim. Turns out not only did they have a room available, but they gave me a free upgrade. Mountain view AND water view, bitches.

I changed clothes and headed down to the fitness center, which was quite nice. Since I had the availability of (free) cross-training equipment while here, I decided to truly allow my foot to rest and take a break from running during the entire trip. While the elliptical may be one of the most boring machines ever invented, it does get the heart rate up (and there was a TV on every machine, so at least I had some distraction.)

About halfway through my workout I took a call from Jordan, who was at the Tulsa Marathon with some friends. He and Scotty D had just helped pace their friend Jerry to an unprecedented 2:27 victory and were enjoying the afterglow of their success. I'm pretty sure that's the first time I've ever uttered the words "Do you have a sober driver?" at 9:30 in the morning (11:30 their time, but that's hardly the point).

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Coast to Coast

46 mins.
6 miles

So despite my better judgment, I went out for a wog today. To be honest I was just feeling lazy and gross and notso hotso about myself after the two days off. Stupid? Perhaps. Reality? Absolutely. At any rate, I wanted to get in a preemptive jaunt before heading off to Seattle for a solid week of excessive eating and drinking (and meetings too).

To be honest, this run was about as underwhelming as I expected. In an effort to not stress my foot, I somehow tweaked my calf muscle. So, pro: the foot felt decent. Con: I'm now limping due to my calf. Awesome.

The majority of the rest of the day was spent traveling. Turns out a flight from Atlanta to Seattle, which is lengthy enough when nonstop, actually takes about eight hours when it's broken up by a layover in Phoenix. Needless to say, by the time I arrived at 5pm Seattle time (which was 8pm in the ATL), I was starving and exhausted and a tad grumpy. Fortunately, I got to spend the evening with my friend Chelsea, a girl who I grew up with in East Texas. Over dinner we were marveling at how far each of us have come from our hometowns, both literally and figuratively, as we rejoiced in the recent Obama victory. We grew up in very small, very conservative, very Southern Baptist towns, and we're both pretty thrilled to have outgrown that insular environment (although, it should be said, we both agree that "East Texas is a great place to be from, if you know what I mean"). Chelsea and I have also followed somewhat similar paths after high school, as she went on to study at the University of Oklahoma and is now living and working in Seattle. The fact that I'm dating someone who goes to school (not so much "studies" per se) at OU and work for a company based in Seattle is kind of a quirky coincidence. At any rate, it was great to spend time with her and enjoy a bit of relaxation before the week's craziness begins.

Quote of the night: "I mean, it's great that all our high school friends have kids. But shouldn't we get a shower with lots of cool presents for, like, not getting pregnant? Kind of like 'Way to go, Tiger! Keep on keeping the population down.'"

Friday, November 14, 2008

Day Off #2

I didn't run again today. What's worse is I didn't even shower. My foot situation better be improving, because my quality of life on all other fronts is declining dramatically.

And does anyone else find it a tad ironic that I'm about to lose a bet to Jordan about him getting injured while I'm the one who's injured instead?? Yeah. I thought so.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Day Off

I didn't run today. It was weird.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Will Run for Breakfast

56 mins.
~8 miles

So, after talking with Coach Jeff, we decided it would be advisable for me to take a few days completely off in hopes of healing up the foot. I'm pretty sure that was discussed with the implication that those days off would begin today. However, that was before I got an offer I could not refuse: a run AND breakfast with other people! And, even better, this run would occur within steps of my own neighborhood, meaning it wouldn't be necessary to leave thirty minutes early to drive up to the river.

Springvale Park, directly across the street from Ashley's place.
Apparently the swan who lives in the pond is not very nice.

Needless to say, I needed little convincing. I met Jennie, a cool girl who works at West Stride (actually it's owned by John McDonnell's niece, a former high school standout from Oklahoma and an All-American at Georgetown), and Ashley, the Adi tech rep, at Ashley's condo in Inman Park. While I used to live in Inman Park, I never really explored the back neighborhoods behind the main strip, and I am discovering I absolutely love the quaint parks and beautiful houses back there. At any rate, we embarked on a circuitous run (that unfortunately took place mostly on sidewalks and roads) through Candler Park to Decatur, flipped a U at the MARTA station, then headed back down Ponce and finished up through Little Five Points. The pace was respectable and the hills were challenging, so all in all my legs were quite fatigued by the time this jaunt was finished. Afterward we headed to Flying Biscuit for revelry, merriment and carbs. It was pretty much a perfect morning.

Woodruff House in Inman Park. This is where the founder of Coca-Cola
used to live. Now it's clearly owned by some family with a little brat who
likes to ruin this majestic house with his basketball goal.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Recovery Wog

40 mins.
5 miles
15 mins. core/abs

I woke up way earlier than I would've liked to get this run taken care of before commencing the longest day ever. I ended up heading out to the same greenway I visited last time I was in town. My legs are quite sore from basically three days of hard running (two of those three on trails) and my foot is still bothering me, so I was content to take things very easy today.

The nice part about the greenway is that, in addition to being almost pancake flat, there's a consistent dirt/gravel trail worn away besides the pavement. I was able to stick to that that for the majority of the run. The not so nice part was that I got rained on starting from about halfway through. Let me tell you, rain in 40 degree weather does not feel very fantastic. I was eager to finish up and get back to the luxurious Extended Stay Deluxe or whatever it's called.

Unrelated: if loving the new Beyonce song is wrong, I don't wanna be right.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Percy Warner Park

74 mins.
10+ miles

I woke up relatively early to meet Ryan, a guy who works at Fleet Feet Nashville, out at Percy Warner Park for a trail run. A quick check of before getting dressed told me that it was a warm 27 degrees outside. 27 degrees in November is no joke. Vest, check. Gloves, check.

View of Belle Meade Boulevard from the top of the front steps at Percy Warner

At a
ny rate, the sun was already shining brightly by the time we parked at 7:30 on Belle Meade Boulevard, which worked wonders for keeping the temperature tolerable. Either that, or I was working so hard the entire time that I didn't have a moment to think about being cold. I mean literally from the outset I felt like I was putting forth a pretty serious effort. It wasn't that we were breaking any speed records, but the trails are quite rolling and thickly carpeted with leaves, which meant I was struggling for traction while trying to avoid any hidden rocks or roots the entire time. The rare moments when I did have a chance to look around were definitely rewarded by the occasional deer sighting and the striking foliage.

Autumn colors on a winding road in Percy Warner Park

My hip flexors and calves were extremely fatigued by the end of the run, and we won't even discuss my foot. Let's just say I've switched from vegetables to a ten-pound bag of ice.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Week in Review

~63 miles
1 elliptical session
1 day in Central Time Zone
2 bags of frozen vegetables

Well, I suppose this was my first week back in the metaphorical saddle. Given that I only ran six days and did zero doubles, I was pleasantly surprised to see that I hit the 60-mile mark. And I gotta be honest, as much as I enjoyed my lackadaisical down week last week, it feels pretty good to reestablish some semblance of a routine. I know I have a long way to go in terms of fitness, and I'm actually starting to feel excited about running again.

That said, there are still some issues. Namely my foot. I'm still icing that bad boy regularly, but it really bothered me toward the end of the long run today and throughout the rest of the evening. If it's the type of thing that will only be ameliorated with a few days or weeks off, then I need to figure that out. If it can be solved with a few more days of RICE therapy, then that would obviously be more ideal since I'm too stupid/stubborn to take time off unless we're dealing with, like, a bone sticking out of my foot or something. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

Oh, and we have a new president. Props, America.

Stones River Greenway Long Run

1 hour 50 mins.
~15 miles

I woke up this morning in Knoxville, Tennessee. Good times. After fulfilling my various work duties I got in the car to drive toward Nashville, my home away from home for the next few nights. I texted my friend Taylor, who lives in the Nashville 'burb of Murfreesboro, to see what she was up to for the day. Much to my surprise, she was on board with doing a long run with me, so I headed straight over to her house at the end of my three-hour drive and prepared for our outing.

Taylor planned a scenic route for us that started at the Middle Tennessee State University track. I'd never heard of the school before my first visit to Murfreesboro in July, and was surprised to learn that it actually has almost 25,000 students and is the largest university in Tennessee. You learn something new every day. Anyhow, we started from the track and ran a few miles on the roads/sidewalks through the town square before jumping on the Stones River Greenway. We ran out for 3-4 miles on the greenway and then took a spin around the Stones River National Battlefield. Apparently the battlefield was the site of a pivotal conflict during the Civil War. Today, it was the site of a pivotal moment in our run: the moment when we both realized we were deeply, ravenously hungry. My only sustenance on the day was a bagel (admittedly with peanut butter) that I'd eaten about six hours earlier, while Taylor had only eaten cereal or oatmeal or something. We spent almost the entire rest of the run discussing (read: fantasizing about) what we might want to consume as soon as physically possible. This included but was not limited to soup, egg nog, sandwiches, hot chocolate, pizza, sushi and pancakes.

One thing I noticed, both on the drive over and on the run, is that it looks much more like winter here than it does in Atlanta. Most of the leaves have already fallen to the ground and those that haven't are faded to brown. Today's cold temperatures (45 degrees at the start of our run and steadily falling throughout the afternoon) plus the overcast sky (were it cold enough I would've expected it to start snowing at any moment) definitely made it feel as though the seasons had already changed. I suppose it is almost Thanksgiving, but I'm reluctant to see autumn's departure.

We reached the stoplight near the track at 1:43 and Taylor decided to walk it in. I opted to jog back to the car and then anally looped the parking lot for a few minutes to make it an even 1:50. I had planned to do 16 but didn't want to make her wait around in the cold for another 5-10 minutes. Plus, my foot was bothering me quite a bit toward the end of the run, and that was enough to convince me to wrap things up a few minutes early. We hopped in the car and headed to Jason's Deli to enjoy a meal of food. All in all, it was a successful run that passed ten times more quickly thanks to the company and great conversation.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Solo Trail Run

83 mins.
10.5-11.5 miles

After a fun night out and sleepover with Brooke, I woke up pleasantly surprised that my foot actually felt a bit better. That said, I still wanted to be cautious. So, although I didn't have plans to meet anyone, I hopped in the car and drove out to the river for the second day in a row to put in some miles. After two miles around the flat loop I headed up into the trails for the majority of the run. Last night's rain had packed the pine needles and fallen leaves into a soft (if sometimes slippery) carpet, and the colors were simply gorgeous.

Fall colors on the trails

It's hard for me to nail down the exact distance for this run because the pace was so varied. I felt like I was flying during some portions, but it was pretty slow going on other sections (both uphill and downhill) due to the technical footing. I did clock 3:10 for the final half mile on the flat trail back to the parking lot, but I was consciously pressing at that point. All I know is I was completely cashed by the end of the run and my calves, ankles and hip flexors were quite fatigued. Overall, a solid hard effort.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Lions and Coyotes and Foxes, Oh My

60 mins.
8 miles

I woke up early this morning and met Jim and Meredith at the river for one of our standard runs through the trails. I haven't seen them since before I left for DC, so it was great to catch up and spend some time together. They're definitely some of my favorite peeps in Atlanta. Also, have I mentioned how beautiful the trees are right now? Yup, they still are. It sure makes running more enjoyable when the scenery feels like something from a postcard.

Also of note, Jim mentioned that he heard recently on the news about coyotes that have been roaming the wooded areas of Atlanta. In fact, a female customer came into his store the other day asking if they had pepper spray because she had seen one on a run recently. So it looks like in addition to worrying about falling or getting lost in the trails, I now have to worry about coyote attacks as well. Awesome. That led me to tell them the story about the woman this week who was bit by a rabid fox while running. She managed to run a mile to her car with the fox still eating her arm before stuffing it in her trunk and driving to the emergency room. Unreal. What a badass.

I was supposed to double in the evening but took a pass, in equal parts because it was pouring outside and because I wanted to rest my foot. I continued the pea/lima bean icing system throughout the day and really started to notice an improvement during the evening. I'm hoping a steady icing regimen can nip this problem in the bud.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The AO Owns Me

20 min. w/u (2.5 miles)
Target: 6xmile @6:10 and cut down w/3 min. rest
Actual: 6:08, 6:05, 6:04, 6:04, 6:05
20 min. c/d (2.5 miles)
Total: 11 miles

Well, I wish I could say my first workout back was a rousing success, but it pretty much wasn't. I was glad to be out there and at least get the legs turning over at a decent clip, but it's definitely depressing to see how quickly one can lose fitness. Especially since it takes so long to gain said fitness in the first place.

Since I had a work event all day I had to get started with this workout around 7:15. Temps were in the mid-40s at this point, which is a bit cooler than I'd like for mile repeats, and I definitely felt that during the first few intervals. Also, since my foot has still been bothering me (as I type this I'm icing with a one-two punch of peas and lima beans) Jeff and I agreed I should forego the flats for a while, which means for the first time in months I was going to attempt an up-tempo workout in trainers. I opted for the Ghost, which is pretty lightweight and has a nice springy forefoot, figuring it's the closest thing to the T5s in my repertoire.

So, pretty much from the outset I felt off. For one thing, my breathing wasn't great--though my cold is improving, apparently trying to take such rapid deep breaths wasn't ideal, as I was hacking like a chain smoker throughout the entire workout. Not attractive. Anyway, since my breathing was never under control I felt vaguely panicked the whole time. My legs never really settled into a comfortable pace either, so overall I just felt like I was struggling. I don't know what I expected for my first time back in the saddle, but I was definitely envisioning something better than this. I called the workout at five and wogged home in defeat.

If I can take away something positive from this experience, it's that I'm definitely getting to know various intervals and distances on the AO much better. For example, I realize now that the first few times I did workouts here--namely the first 6xmile and maybe a few others--I definitely misjudged where the mile marker should be. Through trial and error, I've now learned I need to run about ten seconds farther than I did during those initial outings to make it a true mile. It doesn't bother me that I didn't run far enough then, since at the time it was all about effort, but it feels good to know that I'm more precise now (and, consequently, went through the old "mile" marker around 5:50 each time today).

The other highlight of the day was during the Mobile Fit event I attended with Big Peach at the Coca-Cola corporate headquarters. We spent four hours fitting people at their corporate health fair and eating their free catered lunch. The best part was that throughout the entire building they have tons of Coke machines with FREE drinks in them. You just press the button of your drink of choice and in just seconds you can enjoy a tasty, refreshing caffeinated beverage. I was double-fisting Coke Zero and Dasani like it was my job. I may have taken a few roadies too, but that just stays between you and me.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Realizing the Audacity of Hope

75 mins.
10 miles

I woke up this morning feeling like I was ten years old and it was Christmas morning. The happiness, excitement and almost surreal disbelief of having experienced a moment unlike any other in United States history is difficult to put into words. While I wasn't as fortunate enough to experience things firsthand like Jilane did on Tuesday night, it's still amazing to know that I will forever be able to look back on this as one of the most historically significant events of my entire lifetime. As Brooke said in her related blog post, I can honestly say I'm still not 100% convinced that Obama is prepared to bear the weight of our entire disfigured country on his shoulders. I didn't vote for him in the primaries. But I have never in my life seen someone who is able to unify and inspire a people like he can. Barack Obama believed in the audacity of hope, and he has earned the opportunity to see it realized. And for that, I too am hopeful.

Due in no small part to this residual excitement, I had no problems getting out the door with some extra pep in my step this morning. I took the long way to Lullwater Park and did one loop before heading home the way I came. This run is enjoyable but definitely challenging, as it's quite rolling throughout. Also--and please know that I'm embarrassed to admit this--I'm pretty sore from my cross-training activities on Tuesday. My glutes and hamstrings are quite fatigued from the elliptical, and my arms, shoulders and abs are definitely feeling the effects of my core work. It's sad because it's true.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Vote and Run

59 mins.
8 miles

I woke up fairly early this morning after a restless evening (due in no small part to the complete lack of air flow through my nostrils) and was eager to get out the door before a morning of conference calls and other office work. I also planned on allotting most of the afternoon for standing in line at the polls, since I've read so many horror stories the past few days of people waiting hours in line to cast their ballot. In a flash of brilliance, I decided just before heading out the door to grab my ID and take a spin
past my polling place to assess the line. If nothing else, I could at least make sure I knew where it was and where to park later in the day.

After meandering around on the Candler Park bike path, I hooked a left on Candler Park Drive near the golf course and headed uphill toward the elementary school that would serve as my polling place for the day. A cursory glance showed no one waiting outside the building, so I decided to stop my watch around 25 minutes and head inside. To my pleasant surprise, the line in
side was almost nonexistent as well, so I decided to stick around. The entire experience took fifteen minutes and then I was back outside to complete my run. Now that's multitasking at its finest.

A fellow Democrat in Candler Park shows their support

For the rest of the jaunt I enjoyed the beautiful fall colors and cloudless sky of the November morning, running out and back on the bike path to Inman Park before heading home. The leaves are at their peak right now, all radiant reds and rich yellows, but I find myself almost saddened by it because I know in just a few days they will begin their inevitable fade to brown and then it will be time to segue to winter. I've never really thought of it that way before and I guess it's indicative of the doldrums I've been experiencing for the past week. Reminds me of the Robert Frost poem I had to memorize in ninth grade English class (which I am proud/embarrassed to say I still remember verbatim):

Nature's first green is gold.
Her hardest hue to hold
Her early leaf's a flower
But only so an hour
Then leaf subsides to leaf
So Eden sank to grief
So dawn goes down to day
Nothing gold can stay.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Fun Times on the Elliptical

60 mins. elliptical
15 mins. pushup/core/abs

I realize I sound like a broken record every time I say something along the lines of "so I woke up and my cold was worse." But guess what, I woke up and my cold was worse. Soooo annoying. This was coupled with a nagging pain I've been experiencing in my right foot for the past few weeks. I think the first time it started bothering me was a week out from the marathon, but nothing serious. Then it didn't bother me at all during MCM so I sort of forgot about it, until late last week when I felt it again. After describing the pain to Jeff--basically it hurts when I'm walking but not running; it only hurts on the lateral side; it doesn't hurt when I poke/squeeze/prod it--he concluded it's probably an irritated ligament or tendon rather than something serious like a stress fracture. So, while this is a relief, we still want to play things on the safe side. Clearly all signs pointed to a cross-training day today.

After visiting stores and otherwise being productive during the day, I set out for the gym at Ansley Mall around 5pm. They charged me the same outrageous fee for a day pass as the last time I came here, but I'm determined to figure out a way to expense it. Anyway, I jumped on the first available elliptical with the firm resolve to remain there for 60 minutes. Jilane's encouraging-slash-borderline inappropriate text messages kept me entertained, and the hour passed more quickly than I was expecting. After some pushups and abs I called it a night. Tomorrow should be an easy run and then, assuming my cold improves, it's back to business as usual on Wednesday.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Week in Review

41 miles
1 birthday (geez I'm old)
278 tissues

So, this week obviously wasn't anything to write home about (blog home about?) in terms of mileage. Obviously it was a recovery week from my hard (albeit abbreviated) effort at MCM, not to mention that my burgeoning malaria has put a damper on things as well. My goals for the next few days include trying to shake this sickness, helping elect a Democrat to the White House and trying not to continue eating as though I'm running 90 miles a week.

Like Jilane said in her weekly wrap-up, the latter part of this week has kind of been an emotional letdown. I was only half joking in an earlier post when I said I'm depressed to be back home without my friends. Don't get me wrong, I love Atlanta and all the wonderful people here, but there's nothing like literally having all your favorite people together at the same time, and I suppose it's only natural to feel a bit lonely when that time together comes to an end. As I told Jilane earlier this weekend, there are some friends who whose company you share for just a season and some whom you know and love for a lifetime. I'm lucky to have been able to spend the past week with people who will be in my life for years to come.

Sick on Sunday

45 mins.
6 miles

I think it's safe to classify today as one of the most unproductive days of my entire life. I woke up around 7:30 to find that my cold was raging at an unprecedented level. After messing around on the computer for a few hours and trying unsuccessfully to load the NYC Marathon feed, I decided to settle in for a nap around 9:30. Yes, I took a nap at 9:30 in the morning. I didn't head out the door to run until after 3pm, which was actually perfect considering that there wasn't a cloud in the sky and the temps were in the mid 60s. There were tons of people out on the bike path, and I was reminded of how nice it is to live in such an active neighborhood. Unfortunately, my cold seems to be getting worse despite continuously pumping my body full of meds. Hopefully things will look up in the next few days.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Afternoon Trail Run

60 mins.
8 miles

After spending a few hours working at Finish Line this afternoon (I heart my job), I detoured to the river on my way home for an easy run in the trails. I've never been out there in the middle of a weekend afternoon, and there were tons of walkers/joggers/bikers (and one guy doing something jujitsu-like) enjoying the beautiful fall afternoon.

I started the run with two miles on the flat dirt loop, then headed up into the trails that I've run so often with Meredith, Jim and Jeff. This was my first time to run up there alone, and I was mildly concerned about either falling or getting lost (which is why I texted Jordan before the run to let him know my whereabouts in case of any misadventure). Miraculously, neither of these occurred, and instead I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I was almost sorry to see the loop come to an end.

Unrelated, I'm pretty sure my cold is getting worse. Better go pop some pills.