Thursday, December 31, 2009

NYE Workout

AM: 10 mins. core
3 mile w/u + stretching
Target: 3xmile @6:00, 5:50, 5:40
Actual: 5:57, 5:45, 5:32
3 mile c/d
Total: 9 miles

I woke up this morning excited to don some flats and attempt a baby workout. Originally we'd planned to get out the door in the afternoon, then revised our plans to 11, then bumped it down to 10 once we found out the OU-Stanford game would be starting at 11 our time. It was fine by me, as I was anxious to get out the door. With temps in the low 60s and a sky full of sunshine, the conditions were shaping up nicely at go time.

Since we're sans vehicle for the rest of our stay here, this meant that running to a nearby track was our only transportation option. Fortunately we're just about 3 miles away from the San Diego High School track, and since school isn't currently in session we didn't anticipate getting kicked off like last time. As we were approaching the stadium from the concrete overpass that bridges the highway, we noticed that the athletic department had undertaken some pretty impressive renovations with the football field since we were last here: new high-tech turf, new throwing and jumping areas, and a brand new paint job. It was only when we drew closer that we discovered this had come at the expense of the track. To be precise, the area where the track belongs was still there...but it had been completely paved over and all the lines and lane markings were removed. So essentially we would be doing our workout on a road that just happened to be a 400-meter oval. Awesome.

As I changed into flats and began stretching, Jordan outlined the plan. Basically he wanted to run 1000-m intervals at his goal pace, while pacing me on my miles as his recovery in between 1000s. Essentially he would be doing a long tempo at varied paces, while I would be doing my miles with just over a 3-minute rest. This would give me ample time to jog across the perfectly manicured field to the opposite 200-meter marker, where I would join Jordan for the next interval.

Believe it or not, the plan worked out perfectly. Jordan ran his k's right on target and was able to transition smoothly into my pace each time he picked me up. The "goal" times I came up with above were really just arbitrary ballpark figures; what I really wanted was for the first mile to feel easy, then to focus a bit more on the second one, and finally to open up and see what I had left at the end. And, essentially, that's what happened. I felt very comfortable on the first two intervals and used them as an opportunity to focus on keeping my arms low and driving forward. By the second lap of the final mile I was laboring, but I stayed strong and finished very much under control. Given that I haven't done much in the way of speed work lately, this was a huge confidence booster. The best part was that despite wearing flats and running on what could have been the interstate, my leg felt fine throughout.

As is always the case with this kind of effort, the worst part was the jog home. We kept the pace very relaxed, even stopping for a minute to check out what looked like the makings of a 5k taking place in Balboa Park. I'm not sure what the plan is for the rest of the day, but with a solid workout in the rearview mirror we're both guaranteed to be in a good mood.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Balboa Double

AM: 58 mins. (8 miles)
PM: 29 mins. (~4 miles)

After today, I'm actually starting to feel like a real runner again. Not only did I turn out a legit double, but I'm even contemplating a baby workout for tomorrow. Crazy, right?

The good news is that on both runs, once the leg had 5-10 minutes to warm up it felt just as good as yesterday. I will definitely keep this in mind if said workout occurs and make sure to take ample warmup time. The other good news about today is that I actually ran up the Upas hill without stopping for the second day in a row! Big time. I wanted to include a pic of the hill in my blog just to give you an idea of what we're dealing with, but unfortunately the photo I found on Flickr is copyrighted. However if you click on this link you'll be able to see the photo of the hill in all its glory. It's pretty real. Actually, although our total time/pace isn't that impressive, if you take out this stretch on Upas (which undoubtedly added at least a minute to that mile) and a few of the more tedious zig-zaggy portions going down to and up from the highway crossing in Balboa Park, this run would end up maintaining quite a respectable clip. I felt like I was pressing throughout but was always controlled, which in my opinion is the best kind of run.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Balboa Park with Graddy

67 mins.
9 miles

That's right, folks, I ran 9 miles. And, more importantly, my leg felt pretty darn good once it got warmed up. I haven't run this far in quite some time, so I consider this to be a rather significant development. Perhaps most importantly, I had a lot of fun. Jordan's former Brown teammate Ryan Graddy drove down from his parents' place in Torrey Pines to meet us for a jaunt before he flies out tomorrow. We ran with Graddy last year on the now-infamous "Jordan forgot his shoes" run, and I had a surprise encounter with him most recently at the Stanford Invite early last spring. Needless to say, our group had lots to catch up on since
then, most notably the stellar marathons both of these guys and their teammates have run in the interim. (You can find more details and more bragging by Jordan here.)

We started the run in Hillcrest just after 9am, and already the sun was shining brightly. I was excited to embark on my first long-ish run in Balboa Park since our arrival (though at the outset I didn't know how long it would end up being). However, within a few blocks of setting out, we were very rudely accosted by a (possibly deranged) female on a bicycle who nearly ran us over at a street corner. She dinged her bell angrily and yelled "Idiots!" at us as she passed. Since we were on the correct side of the road and doing nothing wrong, Jordan responded back with an artfully worded suggestion for what she might do. She responded by inexplicably yelling, "Make me, Grandma!" What a way to start the run. Fortunately our spiri
ts were buoyed less than five minutes later when we ran past a Richard Simmons look-a-like power-walking in the park who shouted encouragingly, "Great job! Keep it up!"

From that point on we would have no more close encounters, and we were free to enjoy the beautiful day in the park. Midway through the run we accomplished one of my long-time goals of locating the Footlocker XC course, courtesy of Graddy. Since he'd run there several times in high school he was able to point us to the start and the basic loop. Turns out we'd run on or near the area several times before but never really known exactly where we were.

View of downtown San Diego from the Prado overpass in Balboa Park

The change of scenery made the time pass quickly, but before long I realized I would be in over my head if we didn't turn around soon. Fortunately, Graddy was on the same page, so we persuaded Jordan to turn back. Unfortunately, the quickest way back meant we had to climb the hill on Upas, which I'm ashamed to admit I've never crested without walking before. Whether it was shame or a newfound pep in my step I'm not sure, but at any rate I made it to the top without stopping this time (though you wouldn't have been able to tell by the snail-like pace I maintained). From there we had several miles to go before reaching home, but surprisingly my legs still felt light and fresh. I finished out the run feeling better than when I'd started, which is always the goal but rarely the reality. I'll attribute it to the beautiful weather and the great company. All in all this was a fantastic run and I'm hoping to replicate this feeling tomorrow.

Monday, December 28, 2009

On the Road Again

AM: 45 mins. ellip.
PM: 27 mins. (~3.5 miles)
10 mins. stretching

My parents' brief time in Palm Springs is drawing to a close, which meant that Jordan, Gary and I piled into the car with them today to deliver them back to Ontario airport. Then we thought, hey, we're already halfway to San Diego. Let's just go there. Coincidentally we already had all of our stuff packed so the plan worked out splendidly, and within several hours we had bid my parents farewell and were en route to the Hillcrest neighborhood. I was disappointed that my dad wasn't able to run with me while he was here--he was experiencing some old-person back problems--but at the same time I was glad to take the morning off today so that I'd have a chance to run in Balboa Park later this afternoon.

Though it's been a year since our last visit, things looked much the same in the surrounding neighborhoods upon our arrival. I'm excited to spend the next few days visiting some familiar locales, catching up with friends, running in Balboa Park, and perhaps even visiting some tourist attractions we haven't gotten around to yet (zoo, anyone?). Stay classy, San Diego!

Sunday, December 27, 2009


AM: 15 mins. ellip.
43 mins. (6 miles)

The long-awaited visit to the top of the tram has finally arrived. Jordan and I rose early and were out the door by 7am to fit in our run before the day's festivities began. JSK cooked up a delicious breakfast for everyone, thus ensuring that our energy stores would be topped off and at peak operating levels so we could fully enjoy the aerial experience to come. At 10am on the dot our party of four (me, Jordy and my parents) set off with one destination in mind: the top of the mountain.

Mom and I on the tram car

Things were already hopping when we reached the base of the tram, and I was somewhat surprised that we had to wait over 30 minutes after purchasing our tickets before boarding the car. (After our descent several hours later, I would discover that things got much, much crazier as the day progressed). Just before 11:20 we were finally called, and before I knew it we were crammed onto the tram car with 80 of our newest friends.

Making our way to the top!

Jordy, me and Mom at the top--that's snow on the rocks behind us.

The ascent lasted 10 minutes and was breathtaking. Though the tram has been in operation since the '60s, they recently added cars that rotate while the tram rises. This makes for a very unique experience, as you are able to catch glimpses from every angle during the 360-degree rotations. Once we arrived at the top, the mountain was ours for exploration. We spent some time watching people cavort in the snow--that's right, there was both snow and pine trees at the top; not your typical Palm Springs scenery--before wandering off to another lookout point to enjoy an expansive view of Palm Springs and the surrounding valley. We'd definitely picked the right day to come, as the sky was strikingly blue and crystal clear. Before I'd realized it an hour had passed and we were ready to make our descent. I can say without hesitation that the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway was worth the wait (and worth the $87 it cost our party--thanks, Dad!) and that I have finally fulfilled the mission I set out to accomplish many months ago.

Panoramic view from the top

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Post-Christmas Double

AM: 15 mins. ellip.
43 mins. (6 miles)
PM: 26 mins. (~3.5 miles)
2x20 water pump extensions=80
10 mins. stretching

Although I'm writing this only two days after the fact, I can't remember much about this day. I know it included lots of family time (insert shout-out to my dad here) and some post-Christmas shopping at the Cabazon outlets. Oh, and Jordy and I enjoyed a nice evening run at our favorite golf course. Tomorrow promises to be an even grander time, as we've planned a trip to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. I've been bugging Jordan to take me on the tram since the first time we came here and he has yet to acquiese. Well he might not do it, but I know my loving parents will. Stay tuned for full coverage of my dream being realized.

Ohhhh, now I remember why this day was significant (other than the parental bonding): it was the first day I doubled since the day before Nationals, which was the first day I doubled since I got injured in early August. So yeah, it was a pretty big deal.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Birthday, Jesus

AM: 20 mins. ellip.
45 mins. (6 miles)
PM: Christmas dinner

Merry Christmas, everyone! On a day when we celebrate the arrival of Santa Claus and the birth of Jesus (not necessarily in that order), we also celebrate my parents' plane finally arriving after a 3-hour weather delay from DFW. They arrived just after noon Pacific time feeling as though they'd already suffered through an entire day of setbacks. Luckily Jordan and I were on hand to greet them in Ontario with high-fives and a plate of Christmas cookies, turning their frowns upside down, and in short order we were on our way back to Palm Springs.

Our stylish Christmas table

In the evening we had a fantastic Christmas dinner with family and friends, lovingly prepared by G.J. Kinley. The meal featured a sumptuous rack of prime rib and lots of champagne and wine--in short, a perfect way to celebrate the day. Oh, and Santa brought us a new camera (with help from my parents), a GPS for Jordan's new job (also courtesy of John and Sharon), and plenty of cash and gift cards (from Gary, Roger and Sheba). I also rang in the holiday by wearing my new Karhu Fast Rides for the first time on our run this morning. They're bright red, so it was only appropriate. The leg continues to improve every day and I have no doubt that new kicks will greatly facilitate this recovery.

Jordan and the parentals

And so, on that note, there are desserts to be had. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Picture Perfect Christmas Eve

AM: 15 mins. ellip.
15 mins. core
45 mins. (6 miles)
Late AM: ~2.5 mile hike

Jordan and I kicked off this warm and sunny Christmas Eve with a jaunt through the streets of Palm Springs. We took a spin past Ruth Hardy Park before venturing back toward the Biltmore, where Jordan dropped me off at 6 miles. I would like to have continued on but I'm still babying my leg, so I reluctantly headed back home while he set off for a short loop.

Later in the morning Roger took us on a hike in the San Jacintos. He and a friend had traversed a trail that went about a mile up and offered breathtaking views of the valley below, so we eagerly agreed to join. Despite how (relatively) fit I claim to be, I was definitely huffing and puffing on the steeper sections of the ascent. It was worth it once we reached the summit and surveyed the magnificent vista below. Like a postcard? Definitely.

Jordan and I spent the rest of the afternoon sunning (or, in his case, napping) on deck chairs, then lounging in the hot tub and the almost equally warm waters of the condo's swimming pool. I can honestly say this is the first Christmas Eve I've ever experienced that's been warm enough to swim outside and hike in short sleeves, but I'll take it anytime. My parents arrive in the morning and are currently marooned at DFW while the storm of the century rages outside. So yeah, I think Palm Springs will do just fine.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Fairway Running

AM: 45 mins. ellip.
PM: 35 mins. (5 miles)

This afternoon I wanted to test out my leg on some soft surfaces, so Jordan and I ventured over to the golf course we discovered last time we were here. The sun was just dipping behind the mountains, leaving us with enough light to navigate our path and simultaneously providing us with an absolutely gorgeous sunset. Unlike the windstorm that raged yesterday, the air tonight was absolutely clear and still. Have I mentioned that every day here feels like living in a postcard? This might not exactly be traditional Christmas weather, but it's certainly just as beautiful.

An aerial view of the golf course where we ran tonight--it's that long
green strip in the middle of the photo

As for the run, it went great, and I could tell within the first few minutes that my leg felt much better than it had a few days previously. Guess my ibuprofen and whirlpool therapy has been working. The lush surface of the fairways offered ample cushioning, and though the terrain was slightly uneven I still benefited from its softness. I was sorry to leave after a few loops on the grass, but the impending darkness and my hesitance to push the leg meant it was time to head home.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Wind, Rain and Cookies

AM: 50 mins. ellip.
PM: 20 mins. ellip.

A rare cloudy view from the pool/hot tub area

In an unprecedented turn of events, it rained this morning. I've spent probably a total of 20 days in Palm Springs over the past few years and this is the first time I can recall it raining. Later this afternoon the winds would pick up and turn the rainstorm into a sandstorm, but fortunately we were safely tucked away indoors and did not bear the brunt of it.

Sandstorm! Photo by the Desert Sun

Instead, we spent much of the day enjoying all things Christmas. By "we" I mean Gary and I, as Jordan was too busy "working" to participate in the wholesome family fun activities such as decorating the Christmas tree and baking up tasty and delicious Christmas cookies. I do find it a bit suspect that his "work" seemed to lull each time there was a spoon or mixer to be licked, but I suppose in the spirit of Christmas I'll take his word for it. At any rate, when the flour settled there were dozens upon dozens of warm frosted cookies, and I invite anyone reading this in the immediate vicinity to stop by the Biltmore and enjoy some freshly baked goodies.

Preparing to make some magic happen

Later in the afternoon we made our first of what will undoubtedly be many trips to Koffi. This delightful coffee shop is literally just down the street and is owned by friends of Gary and Roger's. My personal favorite treat there is the white caramel mocha freeze, but it was breezy and chilly enough outside that I opted for a simple drip instead. Cookies, coffee and Christmas trees...can't think of a better way to spend a December afternoon.

All that's missing is the star on top.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Palm Springs Living

AM: 45 mins. (6 miles)
15 mins. ellip.
PM: 20 mins. ellip.

A gorgeous sunrise in the desert

Isn't it strange how you can be gone from a place for so long, and yet it feels so familiar when you return? It's been almost an entire year since Jordan and I have set foot on the streets of Palm Springs, yet all the sights and sounds seemed to be just as we'd left them last December. I was excited to get out the door for our first desert run, but unfortunately my leg was really nagging throughout. I'm beyond frustrated at this point and desperate to get this thing taken care of. Luckily there's a whirlpool/hot tub on the premises that I plan on using several times a day to loosen up and massage the muscles--I did so twice today for about 10 minutes each time--and Jordan has also put me on a strict ibuprofen regimen until Christmas. I'm not really a huge fan, on account of the fact that it's not good for your body in the long term, but right now I just want to try every possible form of treatment.

Perhaps Jordan aka Moses can perform another miracle
and heal my leg...

Unrelated, one other thing I've noticed here is that I'm in more or less a constant state of uncertainty about what time it is. My body feels like it's three hours later than the clock purports, plus the sun goes down so early here that once 5pm hits it could easily be any time between 5 and midnight. As a combination of these factors, so far I've been unable to stay awake past 9pm and equally unable to sleep in past 5:30 or 6. The jury is still out as to whether this is a positive or negative development.

An eager running partner for when I finally get back out there

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Travel Musings

AM: Travel
PM: Travel

First and most importantly, we made it! Hello, 70-degree temperatures! Hello, sunshine! Hello, mountains and palm trees and happiness!

That said, traveling from coast to coast pretty much sucks. Since Gary and Roger had oh so benevolently given us a few free tickets to use for our travels, we were at the mercy of the often convoluted airline schedules. Throw in the usual holiday travel traffic and add a dash of east coast weather delays, and you've got a recipe for complication. As a result, our trip would involve not one but two stops, a 20-passenger prop jet and some delayed luggage before we would finally arrive in beautiful Palm Springs 12 hours after leaving our house this morning. I can say without hesitation, however, that it was so worth it--and I'm glad I have a two-week reprieve before undertaking that task again.

Just a quick question/observation on that front: So, the plane taxis down the runway and coasts into its stopping point at the gate. You hear the long-awaited "ding!" which signifies that you are now permitted to unfasten your safety belt. Why is it that as soon as they are granted permission to move, every single passenger--including those seated all the way back in 192Q--insist on flinging their coats to the side and leaping out of their seats? I mean, don't we all realize by now that it's going to take at least, best case scenario, a good 10 minutes before the people in the back will be allowed to deplane? Yet every single passenger still insists on springing up and flailing about just in case every row in front of them inexplicably decides to remain motionless and allow the passengers seated in row 94 to disembark first. I just don't get it.

And while we're at it, allow me to share something else that slightly disturbed me yesterday. As we arrived at our first stop of the day (Chicago O'Hare, in case you were wondering), the captain came over the loudspeaker and said, "Flight attendants, please disarm the doors for arrival." Now I don't know about you, but I've never heard the phrase "disarm the doors" used in that context before. It's usually something like, "Flight attendants, please prepare the doors for arrival and cross-check," or something like that. So you'll understand that I find it slightly disconcerting to know that the doors of our jumbo jet were laden with bazookas or machetes or whatever arms the captain might have been cryptically referring to.

But I digress. We've made it to California alive and well, and all is right with the world.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Peace Out, Charlotte

Saturday, 12/19
AM: 45 mins. yoga
PM: 5 miles

Friday, 12/18
AM: 50 mins. ellip.
15 mins. core

Thursday, 12/17
AM: 50 mins. ellip.
PM: ?

In an effort to get all caught up, I'm lumping these days together. Don't judge me. It's been pretty crazy around here trying to finish up the semester and get all packed up for California. I would be lying if I said I wasn't absolutely thrilled to be leaving the cold, wet, dreary North Carolina weather behind and spending the next few weeks with friends and family in gorgeous southern California. Tomorrow promises to be a long day of travel and a run is not guaranteed, but after that Jordan and I are looking forward to putting in some solid training (and sunning, and shopping, and Koffi coffee drinking) over our Christmas vacation. Look forward to some more interesting blog posts and photos in the coming days!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Itty Bitty Teeny Weeny Baby Workout

AM: 30 mins. ellip.
PM: 2.5 mile w/u
2xmile w/3 min. rest (6:00, 5:44)
2 mile c/d
Total: 6.5 miles

I figured today was as good a day as any to attempt a super easy, teeny tiny baby workout. Almost everyone is gone for the holidays already except me and Jess, so we agreed to meet up in the early afternoon for this effort. We decided the best course of action was to run to Myers Park High. The overwhelming pro for this is that the track is a very easy two-mile jog away. However, the con is that more often than not Queens runners have been kicked off before finishing their workouts. This would be my first attempt, and I figured that since we would be out there for literally less than 20 minutes that we just might evade detection.

I was wrong. Within a few minutes of our arrival, school let out and members of the MPHS track team began trickling over to the oval. Since no coaches seemed to be present (at least not at first), we had no option but to cross our fingers and keep rolling. As for the workout itself, things started horribly. This was my first hard run since Nationals almost a month ago--and, as you may recall, I wasn't exactly in top shape for that either--and my leg has been iffy the past few weeks. But still, I expected 6-minute pace to feel like a jog. It didn't. Both of us were surprised at how much we were laboring during the first interval, our legs and lungs burning at the effort of bringing the pace down to a respectable clip. The rest period--a time interval I would normally scoff at--seemed over before it had begun, and I didn't exactly have high hopes for the second mile.

And then, surprisingly, things turned around. We went through the half in 2:50--a full 13 seconds faster than we'd opened the previous mile--and I felt like I was barely laboring. On the third lap we were nearly brought to a complete halt by a group of utterly moronic high school boys who apparently had no idea what to make of words like "Track!" and "Lane One!" and "Move!" being shouted at them; even so, we managed to pick up where we'd left off and finish strong, closing to the line in 5:44. Now, I get that 5:44 isn't fast, nor is it a time I would be proud of during a workout when I'm even remotely fit. But to run the second mile a full 16 seconds faster while feeling significantly better--that's the part I'm pretty pleased with. In fact, I felt so good at the finish that I contemplated tacking on another interval, but the coaches had arrived at that point and were giving us the evil eye. It was clear we'd worn out our welcome.

So, congrats to me; I can run one interval at the pace Jordan runs for a marathon. Olympic Trials, watch out.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Riding the Snake

AM: 40 mins. ellip.
PM: 5.5 miles

I can finally see the light at the end of this semester's tunnel. Today I turned in two of the three final papers I have to complete, plus worked on my project for the fourth class. The past few weeks have been busy and stressful, but now that it's nearing the end I'm able to look back and think euphemistically that it wasn't so bad.

One thing I remain frustrated about is my left leg. What Jordan professionally diagnosed as my soleus turns out to be, in the actual professional opinion of the good folks at Greenapple, my posterior tibialis. Basically this is the muscle that runs along the medial edge of the tibia. A little too close to the tibia, as far as I'm concerned. I had a stress fracture in this bone about three years ago and am not looking to deal with something like that again. So far all signs point to soft tissue, but you never know. As of now it's very stiff/sore when I wake up in the morning, but some good stretching usually loosens things up nicely. I can still run with a normal gait and only experience discomfort, not pain, while logging the miles. If the threshold from discomfort to pain is crossed then I will know I need to re-evaluate. In the meantime, I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing.

Monday, December 14, 2009

You Know You Spend Too Much Time at the Gym...

AM: 45 mins. ellip.
PM: 5.5 miles

...when you walk in at 7:45 instead of 7:30 and the guy behind the front desk says, "You're late."

Sunday, December 13, 2009

I Prefer the Term "Band-Aid"

PM: 60 mins. ellip.
20 mins. pool

Well, it's happened once again. Jordan is now the local celebrity and I am his groupie. Honestly, I had to endure enough of this after Oklahoma City...looks like I'm in for another few months of stardom-by-association. Remember the waiter who said it was a "pleasure serving him today?" Or how about the guy who was supposed to be buying ME a drink at the wedding reception we crashed, but got distracted when he spotted Jordan across the room and whispered in awe, "Is that...Jordan Kinley?!" I mean really, a girl can only take so much.

All kidding aside, allow me to say very un-sarcastically that I'm incredibly proud of his run yesterday and excited to see what he trains for next. Want to know what I'm not excited about? Writing final papers. I banged out a 10-pager this morning/early afternoon and a brief 3-pager tonight. I've still got several more to cross off the list before I can consider this semester complete. So, until then, I'll probably be off the radar, writing and folding Jordan's laundry or whatever it is that groupies do.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Saturday, 12/12
AM: 50 mins. ellip.
~1 mile jog

Friday, 12/11
AM: 50 mins. (7 miles)
10 mins. core

Thursday, 12/10
AM: 50 mins.ellip. incl. 3x3 mins. on, 2 mins. off

Wednesday, 12/9
AM: 50 mins. ellip. incl. 3x3 mins. on, 2 mins. off, 3x30 sec. sprint
PM: 55 mins. (7 miles)

Tuesday, 12/8
AM: 45 mins. ellip.
PM: 30 mins. yoga

Monday, 12/7
AM: 45 mins. ellip.
PM: 40 mins. (5.5 miles)

Okay okay, I apologize for being so incredibly lacking on updates for the week. In my defense, it's been crazy. The Charlotte Thunder Road Marathon was this weekend (more on that later), which our store is heavily involved with, so that means I worked more hours at my "part-time" job this week than ever before. Not that I'm complaining, but it's just been a lot. Add to that the final week of school, which means that between Wednesday the 9th and Wednesday the 16th I have approximately 30 pages of writing due for 3 different classes. Anyhow, it's been a crazy week. Instead of doing a respectable job of catching up, however, I'm afraid I'll have to half-ass this recap. I've linked to Jordan's blog for the runs we did together, as he's done a good job of filling in the details that I've left out. Apologies all around, and I promise to be much more interesting and engaging after the madness ends next week.

Speaking of Thunder Road, apparently on Thursday Jordan decided he wanted to run the full marathon. In shoes that were two sizes too small. I never said I liked him because of his smarts. Anyhow, as you can imagine, he's already working on a witty and entertaining recap of the race-day shenanigans, so once again I will link you to his blog for the relevant details. Oh, and he won. Typical.

Edit: After reading his blog post, allow me to note that his first 10k split is my 10k PR. This from the guy who didn't train for the race, was wearing shoes two sizes too small, and just recently recovered from the swine flu. Oh, and he still had 20 more miles to run. Sigh.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sunday From Old Bell

AM: 58 mins. (8 miles)
PM: 20 mins. pool

For the first time in what seems like forever, I met up with the rest of the team for a Sunday run at McAlpine. I covered most of these miles with Jess, Jenna and Tanya, keeping the pace relaxed but upbeat. The first few miles were painfully cold and windy, but once the sun crested the trees the conditions grew much more bearable and I actually began to enjoy the run.

I have to admit, however, that this whole lower leg/soleus thing is still not completely gone. I wouldn't say that it's painful, but I do experience some nagging discomfort that should've gone away after taking four days off this week. At this point I can't tell if it's something I can run through without making it worse, or if it will require a complete layoff (obviously longer than the one from this week) before things are back to normal. Right now it's annoying but manageable.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Girls' Morning Out

AM: 49 mins. (6.5-7 miles)
PM: Fried pickles

After laying off for several days, I was eager to get out and run this morning...until I woke up and discovered that it was 40 degrees and raining. Yuck. Fortunately/unfortunately, last night when Tanya and Jenna were over we'd made plans to rendezvous at my place at 7:30am for a jaunt. (In hindsight we should've just had a slumber party. Perhaps next time).

Once we finally got out the door, the run was fantastic. My legs felt light and bouncy, and though my left soleus area was a tad bit tight it was much better than earlier in the week. We did a fairly standard loop down the bike path and through Freedom Park, but good company made the miles pass quickly. I was sad to see the run come to an end and face the prospect of an entire day at work, but the bills don't pay themselves.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Gym Rat

Friday, 12/4
AM: 50 mins. ellip. incl. 5x1 min. on, 1 min. off; 5x2 mins. on, 1 min. off; 3x30 sec. sprints
PM: 30 mins. yoga

Thursday, 12/3
AM: same as above

Wednesday, 12/2
AM: 45 mins. ellip.
PM: 30 mins. yoga

Tuesday, 12/1
AM: 50 mins. ellip. incl. 6x3 mins. on, 2 mins. off
PM: 30 mins. ellip.

Monday, 11/30
AM: 42 mins. (5.5 miles)
PM: Chiro
45 mins. ellip.

Well, as you can see, I decided to take a few days off from running. My left lower leg (soleus?) still isn't feeling 100%, and it just seems silly to run through something in the beginning of December when there's just no need to. So, instead, I opted to take a few recovery days in the fitness center and then see how things felt by the weekend. Stay tuned for further updates.

Also, I'm publishing this before actually doing the yoga I claim to have done on Friday afternoon. At this point, having it in writing is the only thing that will motivate me to actually commit to it.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Week in Review

25 miles
3 hours 45 mins. yoga
7 days in Ohio
2 rental cars
1 fried turkey

Well, all things considered, this was a successful week. It's hard to expect much considering all the travel, sickness, post-race fatigue and family gatherings that took place. Ohio was good times, Jordan's near-death experience notwithstanding, and it was great to relax and spend time with Jordan's family. I return to Charlotte with several weeks of final papers and projects ahead of me, so now seems like a good time to focus on resting my body and healing up this nagging lower leg issue before the serious track training begins.

Wrapping Up the Weekend

Sunday, 11/29
AM: 15 mins. ping-pong
35 mins. (4.5-5 miles)
30 mins. yoga

Saturday, 11/28
44 mins. (6 miles)
30-45 mins. ping-pong

Once it was affirmed that all members of our party were alive and well, the remainder of our time in Mason was passed with leisurely relaxation. We spent copious amounts of time lounging on the couch, watching football, eating leftover pie and celebrating Madison's 9th birthday. I finally managed to drag Jordan out for a run on Saturday and had the pleasure of hearing his symphony of coughs, snorts and nose-blows along the way. Charming. In the evening we played a few spirited games of ping-pong, and by "played" I mean I destroyed him (he would redeem himself slightly the following morning but that's hardly the point).

Jordan with the birthday girl earlier in the week at
her class program

We were up and at 'em early on Sunday, eager to get in a run before starting the long trek back to Charlotte. Actually the drive wouldn't have been bad except that every other living person who'd traveled for the holidays also chose to come home down I-77 through West Virginia. God bless. What should've been a 7-hour drive dragged out to almost 9, and if it weren't for the sandwiches and other snacks Eloisa packed us I have no doubt we'd be wasting away along the roadside somewhere. Needless to say, we were thrilled to finally make it home on Sunday night, but also sad to see our time in Ohio come to an end. I'm already recruiting the Vinson clan to head this direction and visit us soon...especially if Eloisa brings snacks.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Afternoon Yoga

90 mins. P90X yoga

There was no shopping and no running for this girl on Black Friday. My leg was bothering me a bit and I just felt like taking it easy...until I got bored midway through the afternoon. My solution was popping in the yoga DVD and watching it on the giant projection screen downstairs. Like I said before, the first 30 minutes moved a bit more slowly than I would like, but by now I'm familiar enough with the format that I can sort of ad lib my own killer moves when it gets stuck in a lull. This also provided entertainment for the various passers by who had the good fortune of wandering by while I was contorting myself into awkward poses.

I must confess, however, that part of me is now conflicted about the benefits of yoga in light of this article I found today in the New York Times. Unlike most of the "is stretching good for you?" articles I've read, this one draws some very running-specific conclusions. Though I recognize their findings are only representative of one viewpoint, the article does provide some very interesting points to ponder. I still maintain that I find the strength, balance and core benefits just as significant, if not more so, than the stretching benefits; so, in that case, it might be worth the time after all. Either way, at least it helped me get through the day without feeling completely useless.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Mini-Jordan Hits the Streets

Part 1: 24 mins. (~2-2.5 miles)
Part 2: 30 mins. (4 miles)
Total: 6-6.5 miles

Thanksgiving morning dawned cold and crisp in Mason, and I would be lying if I said I wasn't a bit sad about missing out on the downtown race festivities. However, Jordan's survival was slightly more important, and I was immensely relieved to see that his temperature had dropped back down to normal levels over the course of the night. Still, he was in no condition to run and I wanted to put in a few miles, so the next best course of action was to enlist a (miniature) replacement. Luckily 7-year-old Tyler was more than eager to strap on his kicks and accompany me for a jaunt through the neighborhood park, so we grabbed our sweatshirts and gloves and hit the streets.

Despite the chilly breeze and overcast skies, we encountered several runners, walkers and dog enthusiasts enjoying a holiday morning in the park. Tyler started with a strong pace out of the gate, but found himself distracted and in need of a few breaks after several minutes. We paused for some action on the playground after the first mile, but it was simply too cold for me to enjoy dilly-dallying for very long. Tyler apparently did not feel the same way, as he found it necessary to stop and show me the field where his football team practices, his favorite tree, his favorite piece of playground equipment, his favorite spot in the get the idea. Things really threatened to veer off course when he suggested we run to his grandmother's house, an idea I promptly vetoed. I knew it was time to head home when he asked if I'd brought along any money to buy him a soda at the machine in the park. Several walk breaks later, I safely delivered my companion back to Fairway Drive and headed out to finish the rest of my run. While the second half was definitely not as entertaining, I did manage to clip along at a slightly quicker pace. I'm optimistic that in a few years and with some proper training, Tyler could be a serious contender to follow in his big brother's footsteps. I sense a family running dynasty in the making.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Too Sick For Thanksgiving?!?!

AM: 60 mins. yoga

My leg wasn't feeling that great today, but the reason I skipped the run was because I am positively, definitely sick. I'm afraid Jordan has incurred the worst of it, however, and we're almost 100% sure he has the swine flu. He spent literally all day in bed, refusing to participate in life's basic activities such as bathing and eating. Definitely not a good sign. I'm a bit apprehensive that I'll feel the same tomorrow as he feels today, which would pretty much be a catastrophic way to spend Thanksgiving. Needless to say, our plans of participating in the Cincinnati Turkey Trot are effectively dashed.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Back in Mason

AM: 4-4.5 miles
PM: 45 mins. P90X yoga

For our first morning in Ohio, Jordan and I decided to enjoy an easy run through the neighborhood park. Unfortunately my left leg was hurting and Jordan yelled at me for being slow so it didn't end up being as much fun as we'd envisioned. Nonetheless, I was glad to get outside and shake the legs out after the previous day's travel.

In the afternoon, I popped the P90X yoga DVD into the living room TV and went to work. The DVD came courtesy of Jilane, who slipped it into a care package of clothes I left in DC last month. A few years ago I was consistently taking several yoga classes every week, but ever since I moved to Atlanta and then to Charlotte I just haven't made time. The DVD was a nice refresher course, though I decided early on to only attempt half of its 90 minutes on the first go. The first half hour moved a bit too slowly, so in future I will probably fast forward through this part and only focus on the last hour. Still, this was a good start for some basic strength and flexibility training.

Update Soon

Yeah yeah, I know I need to update. It's been a crazy weekend and I just haven't had time. But today will be the day, my friends! I will get things caught up ASAP.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Big Kids' Nationals

~3-4 miles
Lots of running around

Our long day started bright and early with an 8am departure from Jennifer's house. We'd almost made a disastrous error in planning, forgetting that Terre Haute was in Eastern time instead of Central, and had we not realized this late Sunday night we would've ended up leaving too late to catch the D1 meet. Instead, we made it with just minutes to spare before the start of the men's race at noon.

From the gun, we were sprinting around the course as fast as we could, weaving around people and dodging potholes in the tall grass to make it from one point to another. I was huffing and puffing like a chain smoker and was ready to shed a few layers within minutes despite the cool temps. There's really no point in recapping the races for you--anyone who has even a modicum of interest in the sport already knows the outcome, seeing as I'm posting this three days later--but suffice it to say both races were exciting and thoroughly surprising. Equally exciting was unexpectedly running into so many people we knew at the meet--just off the top of my head I can think of Camille and Conor Holt, Christian Tabib (former Brown XC), John Alewine (Adidas rep), and Rick Patterson (one of my former co-workers at Mizuno). Jordan also engaged in awkward banter with Craig Lake and a brief snippet of conversation with Martin Smith (Jordan, around 5k: "How are the OU guys doing?" Coach Smith: "Overwhelmed.")

After the conclusion of the races, Jordan and I decided to jog the course with Jenna while we waited for the parking lot to (hopefully) clear out. Though I was thoroughly enjoying the atmosphere and the beautiful weather, by 5k it became apparent that pretty much every part of my body hurt. Guess it's that whole "delayed onset" kicking in. My lower left leg is particularly nagging. No idea what's going on there, though I'm sure it can be traced back to Sunday's race, but I'll have to keep an eye on it for the next few days. At any rate, I decided to part ways with J&J and head back to the car, content to snack on a piece of leftover pizza while they continued to burn calories. Once the run was over it was time for Jordan and I to load back up and hit the road. Ohio, here we come!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Angel Mounds Recovery

40 mins.
5 miles

I woke up this morning surprisingly un-sore. (That would change later, but I made sure to appreciate it for a limited time.) Coach Simmons had offered to drive everyone who was so inclined for a run (and a few people who weren't, but that's a different story for a different day). He'd tried to scope out a place ahead of time and found something that sounded promising: Angel Mounds, a park/levee system that was supposedly near our hotel. After a 15-minute drive we had reached the desired destination, and it did indeed look promising. With no further ado, I set out with Jess on what promised to be a very slow, very short recovery run. Unfortunately it didn't take long to discern that the park--or at least the section Coach Simmons had stumbled upon--was quite small. In fact, the side trail we'd meandered down ended up looping us back around to the main trail that led back to the parking lot. Normally this would've been very frustrating, but since we only needed to run two of these loops to hit our "goal" mileage it wasn't a big deal.

After showers and lunch, it was time for QU to vacate the Holiday Inn Express that had become our home for the weekend. The rest of the team departed to the airport, while Jordan and I set off for my cousin Jennifer's house for the night. She and Jade graciously offered to host us before we continued northbound to Ohio for the Thanksgiving holiday. Time to drown my sorrows in gravy and cranberry sauce.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

NCAA DII National Championships

Early AM: 5 min. shakeout
Noon: 2.5 mile w/u + strides

6k race in 22:57
~1.5 mile c/d
Total: 8-8.5 miles

My littlest fan, my cousin Jennifer's daughter Jade. They live in Evansville
and came out to watch me run.

It's hard to believe that today is actually the National meet. Even harder to believe that I actually have the opportunity to run it, what with everything I've gone through this season. It hasn't been easy, but dammit, I'm here.

The girls loaded up and headed to the course around 10 so we would have plenty of time to warm up. We lucked out and were treated with an absolutely gorgeous day for a race, almost identical to the conditions at Regionals if just a touch warmer. As
we warmed up, I felt myself growing increasingly nervous. I was telling Jess this morning how ironic it is; the entire point of our season is training for these races, then when they finally arrive we can't wait to get them over with. That was definitely the case today, and the last half hour before gun time was absolute torture. For me it was particularly bad because, unlike almost everyone else in the field, I knew I wasn't fit. I knew I wasn't going to have the race of my dreams, and most of all I knew it was going to hurt like hell.

After strides, our pre-race prayer and about 10 trips to the bathroom, it was finally go time. The gun boomed and I was sprinting across the field with 200 of my competitors. I remember distinctly thinking, as I neared the funneling of the field into the woods about 400 meters in, that I was in waaay over my head. I was sprinting for my life and was easily in the back 1/3 of the field. Some people might feel good for the first half of the race or so, but I was already in the hurt tank. We reached the first hill, a short and steep downhill followed by an equal but opposite uphill, then rounded a corner into another open field. Another 200 meters of uphill was followed by a 180-degree turn, then a nice downhill section through the mile marker. I passed the mile in 5:55--about 25 seconds faster than at Regionals--and was still basically in last. However, I was slowly and steadily catching people--in fact, by the end of the race I would realize that after that first 600 meters I was never passed again--and starting to fall into somewhat of a rhythm. Before I knew it, I reached The Hill. Remarkably, it almost felt easier running quickly than it did during our pre-race run, and though my quads were burning I still managed to make it up without too much strain. I passed Holly somewhere in the next uphill section, then continued to wind around the course past the start/finish area. 3k came quickly, but I didn't hear a split. Not that it mattered; at this point I was in survival mode. The second loop of the course seems like a blur in hindsight, but I do remember a few things--slipping in the mud near what was formerly the mile marker; Jordan yelling at me to catch Maraya; seeing someone point at me and say "97" and realizing in disbelief that, despite passing people the entire race, I would still barely make it out 100th place. I kicked for the finish but had nothing left, and managed to cross the line just a few ticks under 23 minutes. Definitely not a good time, but a full 70 seconds faster than I'd run two weeks prior on a much easier Regionals course.

This post is already pretty lengthy, and I haven't even touched on the team aspect of the race, or the men's race to follow. Briefly let me say that the Queens women's team ended up 20th--not great, but a respectable showing for our first ever Nationals appearance. We also trounced Columbus State, the team who beat us by one point a few weeks ago--they ended up last today. Though I know not everyone on our team was thrilled with her performance, we all gave it everything we had. That's something to be proud of.

As for the men, I don't have the energy to recap their entire race. Somehow they managed to get 7th overall, despite Mike not running and our #2 runner on the day, Futsum, dropping out with 1k to go due to an acute cramp. He was in 11th place when he dropped, so clearly that hurt the team score. Oscar ran a great race and finished 7th overall, but several of the other guys went out way too hard and paid the price at the end. One thing is certain however; they ran with heart, and it was evident as each person crossed the line that they had run literally as hard as they possibly could.

I guess I will close out this post and this cross-country season now. It certainly wasn't what I'd hoped it would be, but sometimes you just have to make the most of what you have. I did that, and came out on the other side eager to get in shape for track and redeem myself. More importantly, I'm so proud of my teammates and what we all managed to accomplish together.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Nationals Course Preview

AM: 3 miles
15 mins. core
PM: 4-5 miles + strides

Okay I know this entry should be longer, but as you already know I'm behind on posts and have a lot to catch up on the next few days. So allow me instead to just share a few brief takeaways before moving on to tomorrow's big race:

1. This was my first double since pre-injury. Granted, the two runs together add up to no more than a marginally respectable single, but don't think for a second I'm not counting it.

2. The. Course. Is. HARD. There are several hills, but one in particular that is just as steep as the McAlpine hill and twice as long. When you get to the top, just in case you weren't having enough fun, you continue running gradually uphill for the next 400 meters. Oh, and did I mention we run this hill twice? Can't wait.

3. I wish I were in shape, because this would be much more exciting. On the flip side, it would also be much more nerve-wracking. Not sure which of those situations is more preferable.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Are We There Yet?

Thursday, 11/19
AM: 5.5 miles
2x20 water pump extensions=80
PM: Travel

Wednesday, 11/18
AM: 6.5 miles
2x20 water pump extensions=80
PM: 30 mins. ellip.

The countdown to Nationals is growing shorter and shorter, and by Thursday afternoon we were on our way to Indiana. The trip included a flight to Atlanta, a 3-hour layover, an hour-long flight to Evansville, and a 30 minute drive to our hotel. All in all it was close to a 12-hour adventure, considering we left school at 2:30pm and didn't make it to our hotel until 11:30 Central. Needless to say, we were all pretty ready to crash. Good thing tomorrow is nothing but rest and relaxation, with a jog around the course and a few meals thrown in.

Unrelated, but of note, I seem to have developed a cold again. Perfect timing.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

McAlpine Mile Repeats

AM: 30 mins. ellip.
15 mins. core
PM: ~3.5 mile w/u + strides
3x mile w/full recovery (6:02, 5:55, 5:55)
~1.5 mile c/d
Total: 8 miles

Though I wanted to join the team for their pre-race workout, I had to get this taken care of in time to make it to Greenapple by 5:30. So I set off for the main parking lot by myself just after 3pm to get 'er done. The workout on tap was a modification on the girls' pre-race workout, adding a few more miles but keeping the rest the same. Though Simmons suggested I take 5+ minutes of rest, I figured 3-3:30 would be just about right.

I took things nice and easy on the warmup, going a bit farther than usual to make sure my hip and adductor were fully functional. I selected the first mile on the Footlocker course for my interval, which meant I would be running from the starting line to the first mile marker twice, and the opposite direction once. My goal at the outset was to run hard but controlled, starting around 6:00 and then going from there based on feel. As you can see, that's pretty much what I ended up doing. Though I certainly didn't feel like I was jogging, each interval felt equally difficult as the previous one. I guess that's better than feeling progressively worse. The adductor stayed loose until the final interval, when I felt it gradually tightening up as the minutes ticked by. It was quite sore and tight on the cooldown, which I have to admit is a bit concerning. I also made the mistake of mentioning this to Dr. G, who proceeded to work over my adductor in a serious way. Guess it's probably for the best.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Busy Monday

AM: 4 miles
PM: 45 mins. ellip.

I took today nice and easy as recovery from last week's crazy mileage. Plus, I had to take Jordan to the airport rather early (didn't he just get back here??) so four miles was all I had time for.

Three days until we leave for Nationals!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Week in Review

45 miles
2 hours 30 mins. ellip.
55 mins. pool
1 day off
6 days til Nationals

Onward and upward this week. Despite running 6 days instead of last week's 7, I still managed to log a few more miles. More importantly, three of these days were quality workout or long run efforts, which is what I need to nudge me back into respectable shape. I'm not expecting any miracles come Saturday, but it sure would be nice to finish the race feeling like I'd accomplished something despite this season's setbacks.

The Miles Just Keep On Coming

AM: 9 miles
2x20 water pump extensions=80
PM: 30 mins. pool

That's right, people, you read it correctly. Guess who has two thumbs and just ran NINE miles today??

>>>this guy<<<

So anyhow, Jordan and I met the Queens team at Old Bell for their last long-ish run before Nationals next week. (Incidentally, let me pause at this moment to acknowledge that Jordan got a job while he was in Austin this week. Though video game manufacturers around the country are no doubt cursing this development, I'm pretty darn excited. Especially since I helped him obtain said job and was promised a new outfit in return.) After a week away from Charlotte he was anxious to meet up with his love Simon and I was equally anxious to attempt my longest run to date. Much to my relief, the adductor felt fairly normal upon waking up this morning, which (hopefully) means a crisis has been averted there.

The run started out very casually, with Tanya, Jenna and I sort of heading up a group and Maraya, Jess and Holly close behind. By half an hour in we'd reorganized, and I found myself sticking with Jess and Holly throughout the remainder of the run. We kept the pace very relaxed until the final few miles back to Old Bell, where each of us opened up just a bit and blasted some killer 7-minute miles. Damn, I'm good. In all seriousness, I did feel pretty good, and was pleased that I finished up the run strong and in control despite the distance. The weather was beautiful, the company was pleasant, and the atmosphere among the group was fantastic. Everyone is pumped for next weekend, and I'm incredibly thankful that I finally get to be a part of it.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

If It's Not One Thing, It's Something Else

AM: 2+ mile w/u + strides
~3 miles uptempo
2 mile c/d
2x20 water pump extensions=80
Total: 7 miles

I had to get this workout taken care of before work this morning, and fortunately Jenna was game for accompanying me to McAlpine before the team's scheduled morning practice. (She would then turn around and drive the team back out there as soon as she and I got back--what a trooper.) The air was crisp and cool and the sun was shining brightly, which made for the first truly beautiful morning we've had around here in quite some time. I'll take it.

The goal of this workout was to run uptempo but not go to the well. During the warmup I could tell I was still not recovered from Wednesday's intervals, and in particular my adductors were exceptionally sore. Despite that, things felt decent on my pre-workout strides, so I hoped the workout would go smoothly. And it did--for about two and a half miles. We split the first mile comfortably in 6:22, settling into more or less that pace for the rest of the run. My legs felt heavy and tired but not terrible, and I was confident I'd be able to complete the workout with a decent though not exceptional time. Then, about 15 minutes in, my left adductor started really tightening up. At first it was hardly noticeable, but after a few minutes I could feel it straining with every step. When Jenna and I popped out of the woods and back around the pond near the finish of the Footlocker course, it was bothering me enough that I voiced my decision to call the workout a few minutes short.

We walked and stretched for a bit before starting the two-mile jog back to the parking lot, and I must admit my adductor was tight the entire time. That said, the intensity wasn't anywhere near the level during the workout, nor did it get any worse during the cooldown, so I'm confident it's not a big deal. Still, this is a reminder for me to continue to be patient and not to rush into training too hard....I'd hate to mangle another part of my body in my haste to get fit again. With Nationals a week away, I can't afford to do something stupid now. Hopefully this is something that an evening of icing and a few glasses of wine can cure.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Jogging With Jenna

AM: 15 mins. core
7 miles
2x20 water pump extensions=80
PM: 25 mins. ellip.

With the day off from work and only a small amount of homework on the docket, I was looking forward to a relaxing Friday. Meeting Jenna for an easy run seemed like the best way to start it off, so we headed out to McAlpine just after 8 to get our wog on. Though still sore, I felt markedly better than yesterday, so hopefully I didn't hold her back too much with my pedestrian pace. The air was still damp and windy but we actually detected a few rays of sunshine for the first time in days, which meant that being outdoors was finally enjoyable. After the run it was time to curl up with a cup of coffee and my slippies and enjoy a relaxing day at home.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


AM: 6-6.5 miles
PM: Chiro
25 mins. pool

Well. I'm in a world of hurt today. My calves, my adductors, my quads, even my abs for heaven's sake--all of these areas and more are sufficiently rocked from yesterday's workout. I suppose I had it coming. As a result, I decided to ditch the watch this morning and embark on 6 of the slowest miles Freedom Park has ever seen. I simply didn't want to feel pressured to run faster than my feeble body would allow. So, I didn't.

...and the water continues to rise.

That's not to say this run ended up being barrels of fun. The weather is still horrible--this is day 3, mind you--and running past downed tree branches while the wind and rain howled around me was very surreal, almost like I was smack in the middle of a natural disaster. They tell me it's supposed to clear up by the weekend, but I wouldn't be surprised if Charlotte floats away by then.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

12x400? Really??

AM: 30 mins. ellip.
PM: 2.5 mile w/u + strides
2 mile c/d
Total: 7.5 miles

Oh, workout, how do I loathe thee? Let me count the ways. For starters, it's hard to get motivated to rip off some hard intervals when it's been pouring rain and gusting 30 mph winds for the past 36 hours. Damn you, Hurricane Ida! Throughout the day as I stared dubiously at the tropical storm-esque conditions outside, I maintained hope that Coach Simmons would come to his senses and postpone the workout until tomorrow. I was wrong.

Come 4:20pm (thanks for being late, Edgar), the entire group of us loaded up and headed out for...Uptown? Apparently there's a small gravel trail running through a neighborhood just past Uptown that Simmons had scouted out for us to use. The trail itself is only about 800m long, but it has a few offshoots that meander around behind a neighboring park; thus, you could complete at least a 2 mile warmup without covering the same territory a dozen times. The reason Simmons chose the trail was for it's consistent grade throughout; basically, no matter which end you started the interval on, the 400m stretch consisted of a steady downhill for 200 meters followed by an equal uphill for the next 200 meters. A bit unconventional for speed intervals, but seeing that the course in Evansville isn't flat we might as well get used to the undulating terrain.

By the time everyone had warmed up, stretched, strided and donned the neon glowstick bracelets that Simmons provided (just in case we wanted to go to a rave afterward), the sky was growing increasingly dark. Obviously the rain had a bit to do with that, but it was also already past 5pm. With the only lights coming from the adjacent neighborhood, we would soon be running in near-pitch darkness. Starting off the workout, I wasn't sure what to expect in terms of pace or feel. I'd hoped to sort of just tuck in behind Jess, Holly and Maraya and lock in to their pace. After clocking a 77 for the first interval, I knew that was just not realistic for me. My lungs and legs were already burning, and the 2:30 interval meant we had just over a minute's rest between each go. By the third one I knew I was unequivocally in over my head. Survival became my only goal, and I literally had to coach myself on each interval to just make it to the next one. Had I allowed myself to focus on the entirety of the remaining intervals, things would've gotten pretty bleak.

As far as pace goes, I'm not sure what I ran. Jenna was standing at the halfway point shouting out splits--mine consistently ranged from 37 to 39, but obviously that's on the downhill section--but the increasing darkness and the fact that I was wearing gloves made stopping and starting my watch impractical. Oh, and the wind and rain didn't help either. Not that it matters anyway; for me this was completely about effort. The final few intervals I was all the way in the hurt tank and felt like I was crawling on the uphill, but I managed to stick it out and complete the workout. Though I finished several of them with Holly, I never caught Maraya or Jess, but thankfully was never caught by anyone else either.

Overall, I suppose I'd consider this workout a success despite how terrible I felt. To say this was tougher than Saturday's race would be a gross understatement. However, I shouldn't have expected anything grand given that I haven't done this type of workout in forever. Not only have I been injured for two months, but even before that I'd stopped doing workouts since before my half-marathon in June. In fact, a quick glance at the blog shows the last time I did 12, 16, 20 or 25x400 was in March. Had I considered that before today's outing I would've probably had more realistic expectations about how this would turn out. Though I wouldn't say this workout was fun, I'm positive it will provide me with some tangible fitness gains come Nationals.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Taking a Break

AM: 45 mins. ellip.
PM: 20 mins. ellip.
15 mins. core
2x20 water pump extensions=80

After 9 (!!!) consecutive days of running, I decided to make an executive decision and take the day off. I've got a 400 workout on tap for tomorrow and I want to be as recovered as possible before I destroy myself again. The good news is the hip is still being cooperative and seems to be gaining strength every day. Things are most certainly looking up.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Jordan is an Idiot

AM: 30 mins. ellip.
PM: 55 mins. (7.5 miles)
2x20 water pump extensions=80

Wow. My legs were absolutely, positively trashed on today's run. I can only assume this is some cruel punishment for attempting to run somewhat fast on Saturday. Despite the gorgeous weather and scintillating compay from Jordan and Jenna, I found myself completely unable to fall into a rhythm despite my best efforts. The last few miles I was all the way in the hurt tank, to the point where despite my compulsive tendencies I was uninterested in tacking on a few minutes at the end to bring this to an even 8. Oh well.

Oh, and just like the title says, Jordan is an idiot.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Week in Review

41 miles
2 hours 50 mins. ellip.
20 mins. pool
2 teams bound for Nationals
5 AFDs

Almost a real runner again!

Enjoying the Sunshine

AM: 6.5 miles
2x20 water pump extensions=80
20 mins. pool

I slept amazingly last night and woke up eager to see how my body felt after yesterday's shenanigans. To my surprise, the hip felt fine and the rest of me only exhibited a little bit of soreness. With the green light from Simmons to attempt an easy run, I hit Tanya up to meet me and Jordan at McAlpine.

By the time we all arrived it was late morning and the park was packed. For good reason too, as the weather was absolutely spectacular. The three of us set off from Old Bell together, each with different mileage goals but content to jog with each other for a few miles. Though my hip felt decent, my legs were a bit more dead than I originally thought, and our blazing 7:35 first mile felt just as tough as the first mile of the race yesterday. After reaching 4 miles right around 29 minutes, I was content to shut it down for my solo jog back to the parking lot.

I had only made it a few minutes down the main trail when a familiar face popped out from Boyce. Pezz and I crossed paths a few steps later, and I was happy to turn around and keep pace with her for a few minutes to catch up. Turns out she's been struggling with injury too--stemming from a freak steeplechase accident she suffered a few years ago--and was trying to finish up a "big" 35-mile week. It was hard not to laugh at our similarities, especially considering that one of the last workouts I did pre-injury was out here with her. At any rate, it was great to catch up with her for a few minutes and see that she's back on her feet.

The rest of the jog back to Old Bell was uneventful, and the weather was so nice that I didn't mind waiting around for Jordan to finish up. Definitely a great way to cap off the week.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Southeast Regional Championships

Early AM: 1/2 mile shakeout
AM: 2.5 mile w/u + strides
6k race
1+ mile c/d
Total: 8 miles

The morning of my first and possibly last XC meet started bright and early--literally. It started early because the entire team woke up for a 7:15 am shakeout prior to getting the day started. This consisted of me waking up just in time to throw on a pair of shoes and walk out the door. I was immediately greeted by the 31-degree chill that permeated the air, and was thankful that the sun was already shining brightly.

Once our wog was complete, it was time to get packed up and ready to head to the course. The women would be running first, at 9:30, so our warmup began almost immediately upon arrival. I was excited to see so many familiar faces who had made the drive from Charlotte to watch us--Jeannie (our athletic director and, might I add, fellow Horned Frog alum), Tim (our compliance officer), Chandler and pup Sanford (both decked out in
Queens gear), xc alum Sairy, both Jess's and Holly's parents, and of course Jordan and Tanya. This would really make a difference for me later in the race each time I received a much-needed boost from their shouted encouragement.

Pre-race prayer with QU Athletic Director Jeannie King

Over almost before it began, our warmup was uneventful. It also became apparent that despite the cooler temps, the sunshine made previously considered accessories like gloves and arm warmers unnecessary. In fact, once we finished our strides and huddled up for a pre-race prayer, I was quite comfortable in nothing but my singlet and spandex. Mentally, however, I wasn't quite as comfortable. I found myself unexpectedly much more nervous than I'd anticipated, in equal parts because of worrying about my hip (though it felt fine to this point) and about contributing to the team.

Once the gun went off, however, none of that would matter. The old competitive i
nstincts took over and I allowed myself to turn off my thoughts and get swept along with the masses. I knew it was imperative that I take things incredibly easy the first two miles, as I had no idea how my body would respond to almost 4 miles of hard running (considering that my predator run last week was 2 miles and Tuesday's 800s only amounted to 3). The first mile passed quickly, and this would be the only mile split I would hear: 6:21. It's probably for the best that I didn't hear any others, as I would've no doubt grown frustrated with my pace. Instead, I pushed all thoughts of time completely out of my head and instead concentrated on the sole goal of catching people. I was feeling surprisingly in control at this point, and could already tell that some of the girls around me were breathing much more heavily than I was.

The elusive Dark Knight caught on film while tracking our race

Between miles 1 and 3 I saw several familiar faces, including Jordan (several times), Jenna, Scott, Chandler and most of the guys. I'd told them in advance not to patronize me with things like "You look great!" or "You're almost there!" when both of those comments were obvious lies. In fact, I specifically asked the guys to think of something funny to say instead, and I had to crack a smile just before the 3 mile mark when Oscar shouted, "Okay, um, sorry I can't think of anything funny...but...enjoy the experience!"

Doing work

And, surprisingly enough, I was enjoying the experience for most of the race. My deliberately conservative first half meant that although I was certainly fatigued toward the end, I was nowhere near as cashed as I'd expected/feared. I was surprised to find myself passing Holly around the 5k mark, and knowing that Jess and Maraya weren't that far ahead gave me a confidence boost. The last time I saw Jordan he'd told me I was in 14th place, and at this point the realization dawned on me that I was going to be able to snag a top 10 spot. There was a small group of girls ahead but I was gaining on them, and I knew I had enough in the tank to pass before the finishing straightaway. Once I rounded the final bend there was nothing standing between me and the finish line but a 200-meter straight shot (and, of course, the building lactic acid). I launched into my version of a kick, which felt impressive enough to me but evidently wasn't enough to shake the girl who walked me down in the final 10 meters. Sigh. Still, in the end I finished in 9th place, a solid third on our team behind Maraya (5th) and Jess (6th). I knew Holly was close behind and hoped Katie was as well, but at this point I wasn't sure what our team score would be.

Futsum, Oscar and Simon jump out to an early lead in the men's race

There wasn't much time to reflect on our results at this point, as the men were set to start in a few minutes. For the next half hour I "cooled down" by running back and forth over the course trying to catch the Queens guys in as many places as possible. The team making it to Nationals was a certainty despite Mike being injured, but it was still fun to watch them completely dominate the competition (and to watch Oscar win by an eyelash in a sprint finish with a Kenyan from Columbus State). With 6 Queens runners in the top 15, victory was certain before the race was even over.

Oscar's photo finish

For the women, however, the results were still up in the air. We were fairly sure we'd routed former champs Lees-McRae, as we put 4 before their 2nd, but the red and white Columbus State uniforms seemed to crop up quite a bit in the top 20. When the scores were finally posted, it showed us in second place--by one point. 68 Columbus State, 69 Queens. Though this automatically gave us a team berth to Nationals, it also caused a bit of a stir with our coaches. Because the race was not chip-timed, nor were the promised backup cameras in place at the finish, the only scoring system to fall back on was the pull-tag system. Thanks, D2. Scott made a prudent move to challenge the final results and request a recount, though I think we all knew the outcome would remain the same. Was this score correct? Probably, but who knows. Oh, and the girl who passed me in the final seconds of the race...yup, she was from Columbus State. Shoot me.

I've already rambled on far too long, so let me close out now with a few final thoughts. First and most importantly, history was made today for Queens XC. Never before has the school sent a women's team to Nationals. We all know that we sit in a weak region and that two weeks from now we'll be in an entirely different ballgame, but today was simply about celebrating all the hard work and dedication this team has put in this year. For myself, today was a solid start. Honestly I'm just thankful for the opportunity to be out there, even if it is this late in the game. The hip felt fine, and I'm confident my fitness will increase exponentially over the next few weeks. This may turn into one of the shortest cross-country seasons on record, but I'm determined to make the most of it. Overall, I couldn't be prouder of my team and more excited to represent Queens at D2 Nationals on November 21st.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Hotel, Motel...Knight's Inn

AM: 45 mins. ellip.
15 mins. core
PM: 4-4.5 miles
2x20 water pump extensions=80

This afternoon I joined the team and headed to Wingate, NC, home of Wingate University and the site of tomorrow's XC Regionals. My plan was to take it nice and easy while running the course this afternoon, then evaluate how my hip felt for tomorrow. To my pleasant surprise, it was a complete non-issue, virtually night and day from yesterday morning. Not sure what happened in the last 36 hours but I seem to have dodged a bullet there. At any rate, things feel good to go for tomorrow.

As for the course itself, it's hard for me to evaluate it given that this will be my first (and second-to-last) college cross-country race ever. The only other course I have to judge against is McAlpine, which is essentially a glorified dirt road. With that in mind, I would evaluate the Wingate course as neither hilly nor flat, with equal parts grass and gravel, and quite a few sharp turns. I'd give it a solid B, maybe a B-. I don't expect it to run particularly fast tomorrow, but then again I'm not that concerned with times right now anyway. My primary goal for tomorrow is to place as high as I can to help the team achieve the lowest score possible. I'm not sure how realistic that goal is given that this is only my second full week of running, but as I have nothing to lose I'm able to approach this with a mixture of excitement and cautious optimism.

Oh, and we're spending the night at a fine establishment called the Knight's Inn. It looks like the Bates Motel from Psycho, only crappier. Hopefully we will all survive the night and make it to the starting line in one piece.