Saturday, February 28, 2009

When the Rain Comes

47 mins.
6+ miles
30 mins. pool

For the second consecutive day I "enjoyed" a run in the rain. Actually it wasn't that bad, and since I was already soaking wet post-run it made the transition to the pool that much easier. Plus, I've got to say that it is a spectacular feeling to have the run AND cross-training completely finished by 11am. I almost feel guilty this afternoon doing homework and watching TV without the prospect of another run on tap. It's probably just as well, as my legs are pretty zapped from yesterday and the rain is falling harder than ever. Let's hope the sky clears before my long run in the morning...until then I'll try to enjoy my time indoors guilt-free.

I can't stop the rain
From falling down on you again.
I can't stop the rain
But I will hold you til it goes away.
--Third Day, "When the Rain Comes"

Friday, February 27, 2009

Muddy Buddy Workout

AM: 4 miles
15 mins. active stretching
PM: 2 mile w/u + strides
Target: 3x2 mile @5:50 (revised: 5:45) w/3 mins. rest
Actual: 5:50, 5:53 (11:43); 5:52, 6:06 (11:58); 5:56, 6:04 (12:00)
2 mile c/d
Total: 10 miles

A smaller than usual group of us headed out to McAlpine today for some tempo-esque efforts. As luck would have it, a cold rain fell for most of the afternoon (including during our workout), which succeeded in making the footing a bit slippery on some sections of the dirt path. This wouldn't be of concern if I were just lollygagging around, but given that I was trying to run uptempo (and needed all the help I could get), this was les than ideal. Oh well. Since Jess and I had similar workouts on tap, we warmed up together and then began the workout side by side. Jeff decided to be productive for a change and opted to ride his purple bicycle alongside (henceforth referred to as the "purple people eater," or PPE for short).

As far as the actual workout goes, basically I just didn't have it today. On each interval I started out strong for the first 800m, held up a respectable pace through the mile, and then just hung on for dear life until the end. After the second (and windiest) interval I all but told Jeff I couldn't finish the workout, to which he basically told me to suck it up and stop being such a little girl. Tough love. At any rate, I was disappointed in my splits but not with my effort. I gave it all I had out there today, and if this is the best I could do then I'll take it. Tomorrow promises to be super easy and I should be able to jump in the pool in the morning, so hopefully I'll be recovered enough to put forth another hard effort on Sunday.

Speaking of tomorrow, we have a showdown brewing in the 3k at US Indoors between my teammate Michael Crouch and my BFF Blake Boldon. I think a few other randos will be running as well but nobody cares about them. Mike is fresh off a 7:57 3k at the New Balance meet, while Blake ran 14:00 for 5k in Iowa a few weeks ago and has a 3:59 mile to his credit. Should be a great race and I wish both my friends the best of luck.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Yup, Just Thursday

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

I thoroughly enjoyed this afternoon's long-ish least for the first eight miles. By the final fifteen minutes I was dragging and my legs were screaming at me. Fortunately I ran into Jess about 50 minutes into the run (I'd gone out to McAlpine earlier than everyone else), and she joined me for my final three miles before heading off to complete the rest of her run.

However, I'd say the defining moment of the run occurred about ten minutes previously. Yesterday Jordan bragged about running shirtless, and today the weather was nice enough in Charlotte for me to do the same. Granted, I was wearing a sports bra and my shorts were probably longer than his, but this is about as minimal as my running costume gets. As I ran past a group of boys who couldn't possibly be one candle past their 14th birthday, one of them shouted "Yeah girl, you are sexxxxy. You are running haaaard." Thanks kiddos. Way to make an old lady feel special.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Midterm Schmidterm

AM: 20 mins. core
25 mins. pool
PM: 45 mins.
6 miles

Well, I definitely called it: my legs were quite sore today. Actually, by the time my afternoon run rolled around I determined they weren't so much sore as they were completely dead. Fortunately I was accompanied by Jess and Holly on this jaunt, and we kept the pace nice and easy through Freedom Park and on the greenway. I actually wore short sleeves for the first time in a few weeks and I'm hoping this means the chilly weather is taking a positive turn.

In the evening Jeff and I had a midterm in Theories of Organizational Communication. I felt I'd prepared pretty well, but many of the questions were trickier than I'd expected. On the bright side, I was easily finished and on my merry way by 6:30, which is over two hours earlier than we normally get out of class. To celebrate what was basically a night off, most of the class reconvened down the street at Selwyn Pub for some revelry and merriment. One of my friends and former Brooks coworkers was in town as well, so she met up with us and joined in on the fun. I normally don't enjoy going out around here because smoking is allowed (basically encouraged) at almost all restaurants and bars, but we opted to sit on some of the chairs and couches outside and enjoy the warmth of a few strategically placed heat sources. The fact that it was half price bottle night may have ultimately been to my detriment, but overall it was a great night out with new friends and old.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Shape Cutting x 25

AM: 4 miles
PM: 2 mile w/u
Target: 5x(5x400m) w/1 min. rest (400m jog between sets of 5)
@86, 85, 84, 83, 82 (hammer #20 and #25)
Actual: (86, 86, 85, 86, 85); (85, 83, 85, 83, 85); (81, 83, 82, 82, 81);
(80, 81, 82, 81, 73); (80, 81, 80, 80, 72)
2 mile c/d
Total: 11 miles

First things first: I'm really pleased with how this workout turned out. I really didn't know what to expect, as I haven't done more than 12x400 in quite some time and I felt fairly crap-tastic on yesterday's runs (and, to be honest, on this morning's shakeout as well). Jess and I drove over to Johnson C. Smith early so we could get this effort going in time to salvage some sunlight and make it back for my class (which actually ended up being canceled, but that's beside the point), and we arrived with enough time to warm up and bang out our first two sets of intervals before Jeff and the gang arrived. Like last week, we were granted an afternoon that was quite chilly but full of sunlight and virtually absent of wind--a rarity at Johnson C. Smith--so we had no complaints about our workout conditions.

As far as the actual intervals go, I felt extremely comfortable throughout, and even when my legs began to fatigue toward the end I still kept my breathing relaxed and controlled. The first two sets were so slow that I actually struggled to restrain myself from picking up the pace, and once I settled into the lower 80s my stride felt much more natural. Jess ran a fantastic workout and was only a few strides behind me the entire time; certainly both of us benefited from having each other nearby. She only had 20 on tap and I was jealous when she pulled off after our fourth set, but I still felt decently comfortable and was excited to see what I could eek out at the end. My final hammer wasn't quite as quick as I'd hoped for (and I didn't earn the "free trip for Jordan to Charlotte" that Jeff promised me for breaking 70--sorry, babe) but by the final hammer I was working pretty hard and I doubt I could've gone much faster without things turning ugly.

To be honest, the cooldown was the most painful part of this effort. I am going to be very, very sore in the morning.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Another Week Begins

AM: 4 miles
PM: 59 mins. + strides
8 miles

I didn't feel as fantastic as I'd hoped after yesterday's extravaganza of recovery. In fact, my legs felt downright terrible on this afternoon's run and I have no idea why. Fortunately Jess, Holly and I kept the pace easy so I was able to make it through without many complaints. Here's to hoping I experience a dramatic turnaround before tomorrow's shape cutting.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Week in Review

65 miles
25 laps at VA Tech
6 AFDs
5 dining hall meals

This week was a mixed bag. After a solid pre-race on Tuesday and doing all the right things the rest of the week (sleep, nutrition, core, pool, etc.), I closed things out with a less than spectacular 5k on Saturday. The effort was there but the end result was not, and I'm pretty sure "almost" doesn't count in the NCAA. We won't know for another week or so, but odds are I won't be among the field that toes the line in Houston in a few weeks. On the bright side, this might afford me the opportunity to travel to Jacksonville for the Gate River Run 15k instead, which would be a refreshing way to mix things up between indoor and outdoor track. Stay tuned for further developments.

Recovery Smorgasboard

AM: 73 mins.
10 miles
ice bath
PM: 50 mins. massage
30 mins. pool

As expected, I woke up fairly stiff and sore this morning, particularly in my left quad and my right calf (no doubt because, as Jilane would say, my right leg ran farther than my left). Lucky for me, today was tailored specifically for recovery. It started with an easy ten-miler at McAlpine with the team, all of which I ran with Holly. We kept the pace fairly relaxed and I felt better than expected, save for the final two miles when it felt like we were trapped in a wind tunnel. Post-run I visited my teammate and next door neighbor Katie, where we each took a turn ice bathing in her bathtub. I followed that up with an intense session at Massage Envy and then a pool session with the team in the afternoon. Basically I have no excuse for not being completely recovered tomorrow, which is a good thing considering Jeff has already warned me that I have a big week on tap.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Virginia Tech Invite 5k

First Run: 1 mile
10 mins. active stretching
Race: ~2.5 mile w/u + strides
5k race in 17:32
2-2.5 mile c/d
Total: 9 miles

So, the good news is I won the race. The bad news is there was just no one for me to run with. I literally led from the gun and was absolutely solo the entire time, which is super frustrating when you're trying to run a fast time. I ran a few seconds slower than at the New Balance meet two weeks ago, but this race felt like much harder work. The most frustrating part is I could hear Jeff shouting my progressively slower splits each time I passed him, but I couldn't seem to kick into the next gear and do anything about it. To make matters worse, I kept having to pass girls on the curve as I lapped (and sometimes double-lapped) most people in the field. Despite the fact that there are just as many straights as there are curves per lap, I almost always found myself coming up on the other girls on the turns. The way I figure, since I spent most of these turns in lanes 2 and 3, I probably ran at least another kilometer, right? I'm sure Jeff is working on his NCAA petition as we speak.

Coach G-Unit agreed to hug me post-race even though I was
disgustingly sweaty. That's dedication.

Jokes aside, I was pretty frustrated with how things panned out. Not necessarily this race specifically, as I believe I did everything I could do given the circumstances, but it's almost a certainty at this point that I will be left out of the field at nationals when just two weeks ago I was convinced I was a lock. If you look at the other girls' times I'm right in the mix, but when you see how far back I am in the rankings it's obvious I won't make the cut. In addition, next weekend is our last weekend to qualify (yet D1 gets two more weekends, naturally), but the race prospects are slim because most schools run their conference meets at that time. At this point it doesn't look like there's much we can do, and that's disappointing.

Jess and Holly posing on the football field at Va Tech during our cool down

Looking at the bright side, I do think my fitness continues to progress. Jeff said running this effort solo was actually a better performance than my slightly faster go at the Armory a few weeks ago, and knowing how much harder this felt I'm inclined to agree. Yesterday Scott mentioned entering me in the Gate River Run (which is also the US 15k Championships) in Jacksonville in lieu of Nationals in a few weeks, as he thinks this will facilitate my natural progression to the 10k distance in outdoors. Jeff and I will discuss this over the next few days and see if it's a viable option.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Hotel, Motel, Super 8

AM: 15 mins. core
5 miles
PM: 3 miles

As I post this from the lap of luxury (to clarify, the Super 8 Motel in Blacksburg, Virginia), we're just over 12 hours from go time. My legs felt pretty bouncy and light on today's jogs, so I'm hoping everything will come together tomorrow. I'm a little bummed because I checked out the start lists and according to seed times there aren't any girls in the race who look to be notably faster than me. I was really hoping for someone who could pull me along at 17-flat pace but that doesn't seem promising. At any rate, I know what needs to be done. Now it's just time to put the pieces together.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thursday. No Clever Title. Just Thursday.

AM: 59 mins. + strides, drills
8 miles
PM: 3 miles

I decided to get my longer run out of the way in the morning, partly because I wanted to procrastinate studying for tonight's test and partly because the wind was supposed to pick up to 25 mph in the afternoon. Tanya needed to get in three miles for her morning shakeout so we hit the road together, mostly sticking to the grass and sidewalks along Queens Road West. I kept the party train going after dropping her off at the prison and headed down to Freedom Park to finish out the run.

It was a gorgeous morning and I was enjoying the sunshine, so I took my time meandering around the park and bike path. At 45 minutes I stopped on one of the soccer fields for some strides, drills and stretching. My hamstrings were noticeably tight today so I did my best to loosen them up, and they seemed a bit better on the jog home.

After spending the rest of the day alternating between studying, napping and otherwise procrastinating, I headed out for another quick jaunt. I ran into Jess and Holly about five minutes in and continued on with them. Holly turned back pretty soon but I continued for 10 or 15 minutes with Jess around the booty loop. It was nice to have company on parts of both jaunts it's time to get packed and ready for my third weekend in a row of travel.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Mid-Week Recovery

AM: 20 mins. core
25 mins. pool
PM: 59 mins.
8 miles

Today was a pretty solid recovery day all around. I got in some pool jogging, some Oxysocks, a massage from Jeffrey, and an easy afternoon run. Tomorrow should be more of the same, and I'm hoping my legs start to come around and feel snappy by Friday. Fingers crossed.

Also, looks like my decision to hustle up the stairs after my run each day is going to change my life in positive ways, at least according to the New York Times. I guess if the traditional running thing doesn't work out I can always pursue stair racing.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Pre-Race Workout

AM: 4 miles
PM: 2 mile w/u + strides, drills
Target: 1600 @5:30, 1200 @4:06, 2x400 @82 or faster
Actual: 5:30, 4:06, 74, 72
2 mile c/d
Total: 6-6.5 miles

The one silver lining to racing this weekend is that today's workout was revised dramatically. Instead of the 20x400 I originally had on tap, Jeff opted to give me a pre-race workout similar to the one I did two weeks ago when Jordan was in town. Basically Jeff just wanted me to get in some intervals at my target race pace with full recovery in between.

In contrast to the similar workout a few weeks ago, I felt very strong and controlled on today's efforts while maintaining a much faster pace. Jess and Holly alternately jumped in and out with me as they were banging out their own pre-race workouts, and as always it was great to have company. Though it was still quite cold outside, the sun shined throughout and the wind wasn't as much of a factor as usual. I threw on my spikes for the 400s and was quite surprised with how well my legs turned over. I definitely opened up on the final lap but never felt like I was running all out. Without a doubt, today's run is a huge confidence booster for this weekend's upcoming race.

On a completely unrelated note, I told my buddy Justin I would put in a plug for his fab room rental that's available in May. Any of you who live in the DC area or know someone who does, check out his blog to see the digs. If I find someone to rent it out for him I'm totally charging commission...and we all know how poor I am right how about somebody throw me a bone here, mmkay?

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Change of Plans

20 mins. core
59 mins. + 6x30m strides
8 miles

My day started off somewhat frantically, as I arrived at the Austin airport for my 7am flight at approximately 6:36am. Thankfully I wasn't checking a bag and I made it on with moments to spare. Needless to say, my parents would be quite disappointed in my lack of cushioning.

After sleeping on pretty much the entire flight, I arrived back in Charlotte just after 10 and was greeted with the prospect of a day of homework. While I was procrastinating on the internet, I decided to check out the latest updates on the D2 performance lists. Apparently some times from this past weekend just got posted, and I was most unpleasantly surprised to see that my 5k time from the Armory had dropped from 9th to 18th on the list. This is of concern because I'm now basically right on the bubble for getting into nationals provisionally, which is something Jeff and Scott and I hadn't thought would be a problem a few weeks ago.

After consulting with Jeff, we decided I should go after the 5k auto standard at the Virginia Tech meet this weekend. I was previously planning to pace Jess in the 5k and then race the mile, but I would feel much more comfortable about my chances at nationals if I could bang out a faster time. In all honesty I will probably be safe if I can just knock 10 seconds off my previous time, as there seem to be quite a few girls hovering around 17:25, but I would feel better if I could lock in the auto time of 17:09. This is 18 seconds faster than I ran in NYC, but I feel confident that I can hit it if I have a good race. I will be two weeks fitter, two weeks healthier, and will have a much shorter car ride to the meet. Besides, 18 seconds is only 6 seconds per mile, which is slightly less than 1 second per 200-meter lap. When you look at it that way, it doesn't seem like such a big deal.

So, now that plans have changed, I'm going to make a conscious effort this week to get plenty of sleep, eat well (and often), and keep doing the little things like strides, stretching, pool, massage, etc. The game face goes on immediately.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Week in Review

80 miles
2 pool sessions
1 marathon spectated
1 roasted pig

As the French would say, this week of running was just "comme-ci, comme-ca." Basically that means it wasn't anything spectacular. I was glad to see the mileage bump back up to where it should be, but the quality this week was average at best. At least I'm completely free of illness now, so hopefully next week I'll be able to ratchet the intensity back up a few notches.

That said, I had another fantastic weekend with friends and Jordan. I'm so blessed to be able to travel as often as I do (and yeah, okay, sometimes I have to run a race or two en route to the greater good), and I thoroughly enjoyed this weekend with old friends and new ones
. Brian and his housemates were fantastic hosts, Owen put forth a solid performance in his first marathon attempt (although I'm pretty sure he has a slightly different opinion to share), and it was lots of fun surprising Jordan for Valentine's Day. I must admit I was a little sad that he wasn't able to be out there running the race today, but he was a great sport and help to Owen without a trace of pouting. Perhaps next year he will be able to run...and, even less likely, perhaps next year he and Owen will actually be able to win a game in the Brown vs. Dartmouth pong tournament.

Pong table prepares for action

FInally, I need to give a well-deserved shout-out to my buddy Blake Boldon who clocked a blazing 14:00.02 at this weekend's Iowa State classic. He fell only a few seconds short of his 5k PR, and he secured a spot at US Indoors should he choose to use it. Way to go, Blakey!

Austin Marathon Sunday

~75 mins.
10 miles

The wakeup call for most denizens of the Hanley household came just before 5am, since the marathon started bright and early at 7. Many people were running and an equal amount were spectating, so despite the early
hour there was quite a bit of nervous energy buzzing through the house. Jordan planned to ride Brian's bike and shadow Owen throughout the race, offering him Gu and water and words of encouragement like "Hurry up and finish so we can play pong!" I needed to get in a run myself, so I decided to stay behind (possibly so I could sleep for another hour) and then run down to the race course so I could meet them later at the finish. I bid adieu to everyone else as they peaced out shortly after 6am, then crawled back into bed to catch a few more zzzz's.

Owen wrote "Don't Quit" on his hand, just above the phone number
of the person he planned to call to pick him up after he quit

I put on my costume and set off from Brian's house just after 8am. Jordan called as I was jogging past the UT track and let me know that Owen was solidly in second place about ten miles in. It sounded like he was looking and feeling strong at this point, and hearing the update definitely put some pep in my step as I continued on my own jaunt. I continued through the campus, then took a left on Guadalupe and ran through downtown. I crossed the race course at several points and silently offered up some words of encouragement to Owen and our other friends competing. The weather was almost ideal, if a bit windy, and I hoped everyone was still having a good go out there.

Owen cruising with the marathon leaders early in
the race. Photo courtesy of our bicycle photog.

By the time I hit Town Lake I still had an hour to kill until Owen's projected finish, so I took a spin on the 5-mile dirt loop around the lake to put in some miles and people watch. At one point the marathon course runs parallel to the lake path (I believe on Lake Austin Blvd.) and the energy was contagious, so it was a great morning to be out and about on the streets of Austin. I spoke with Jordan again just as I was finishing my loop, and he reported that Owen had gotten passed at 21 miles and was currently running in third place. I decided to beeline it for the finish area to ensure that I didn't miss anything, so I took a left on Congress and followed the crowds up to the finish area. I'd gotten in almost 75 minutes at that point and decided it was enough for the time being.

My view of the capitol building near the 26-mile mark

After standing around long enough to begin to feel chilly, the press truck and police vehicles drove by, signaling the arrival of the first marathoner. I watched as the first three runners came by and anxiously awaited Owen's arrival. When I saw Jordan's red hat in the distance as he rode up on his trusty bicycle, I knew Owen wasn't far behind. I'm not gonna lie, he looked to be in some pretty serious agony as he rounded the final curve, but Jordan and I were stoked for his respectable fourth place finish and 2:36 debut. After rounding up the rest of our party (including our friend and Dartmouth alum Pete, who nailed his first marathon attempt in 2:41, and Brian, who cruised in at 3:06) it was time to head back home for a round of naps, a round of beers and a sampling of fresh roasted pig. Although a few people with sore muscles might beg to differ, I would definitely call this Austin Marathon experience a rousing success.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day from ATX

AM: 36 mins.
5 miles
PM: 62 mins.
8.5 miles

I touched down for my super secret surprise trip to Austin late last night and was greeted by Owen and his friend Brian Hanley, my gracious hosts for the weekend. After a late night dinner/breakfast at the Star Seeds Cafe we headed back to Chez Hanley and called it a night.
I woke up earlier than I'd hoped the following morning, which was a tad frustrating, but I tooled around on the computer for a few hours before our group was ready to go out for a run. Brian had over half a dozen friends from college in town for the weekend (and including himself and Owen, there were almost 10 people in our party who were to run the marathon the following day), so we assembled a pretty solid group for an easy pre-race run on Saturday morning.

After the run and a shower, Owen and I headed back to the airport to pick up Jordan, who had no idea I was in town. Fortunately he didn't invite his other girlfriend for the weekend because that would've been pretty awkward. I'd received several suggestions about how to stage my big reveal, including locking myself in the trunk of the car and waiting on the baby changing table in the family bathroom, but I opted for none of those and instead just rode up with Owen in the front seat. Those of you who know Jordan know that he is probably the least excitable person ever, so his "surprised" reaction was about on par with what Owen and I had expected, but nonetheless it was satisfying knowing we had pulled the whole thing off without him suspecting anything.

I had another run on tap for the afternoon, so Jordan borrowed Brian's bike and rode along with me. We headed west from his neighborhood past the UT campus and then just meandered around the local neighborhoods. Jordan found some rec fields tucked in among the houses, so we took a spin on the soft grass for a few minutes. Jordan even dropped the bike and tested out the achilles for a lap. It was a pleasant afternoon and there were plenty of people milling around, and I was content having Jordan along for the ride with me.

Manly men readying the pit for the pig roast

There wasn't too much excitement on tap for the evening, as everyone in the house was either running or spectating the marathon early the next morning, so for the most part we just relaxed and hung out and enjoyed a few friendly games of pong. Oh, and readied the pig for tomorrow's pig roast. Basically the actual marathon is a very small part of this weekend and is just an excuse to indulge in an afternoon of meat eating and beer ponging.

Wilbur prepares to meet his delicious end

Friday, February 13, 2009

On the Mend

AM: 59 mins.
8 miles
PM: 30 mins. pool

After yesterday's abysmal workout and my lingering sickness, Jeff suggested I take the day off today. For those of you who know anything about Jeff's training philosophies, you know this a virtually unheard of suggestion. I was having none of it and insisted on an easy jog, so he agreed to let me go out for an easy eight and see how things felt.

Surprisingly, my legs felt pretty bouncy despite yesterday's effort. I would attribute this in equal parts to the ice bath and the fact that I've been wearing Oxysocks for the plast 18 hours. Like most days this week, the weather was absolutely gorgeous, and by the time I headed out the door after 11am I was completely comfortable (and quite ridiculous looking) in shorts, a sports bra and Oxysocks. My hamstrings felt a bit fatigued the last few miles or so, but overall this was a thoroughly enjoyable jaunt.

A few hours later I hit up the pool with Tanya in hopes of further facilitating recovery. Since everyone knows pool jogging is one of the most mundane activities imaginable, I was pretty stoked to have some company. I'd love to take another ice bath but I really didn't have time this afternoon, so hopefully my time slogging around in the deep end will reap some benefits.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

It's My Workout and I'll Cry if I Want To

AM: 3+ miles
PM: 2 mile w/u + strides
Target: 1 mile @5:30, 2 miles @6:30 or faster, 1200 @4:03, 2miles @6:30 or faster, 800 @2:35
Actual: 5:39; 6:21, 6:21; 1000 @??; 6:32, 6:34; no dice
1.5 mile c/d
Total: ~9.5 miles

Well, I'm just gonna go ahead and put it out there that I cried during the workout. Like a little girl. With little pigtails. And a little lunchbox. You get the idea.

Anyway, from the top: Jeff drove Jess and I out to McAlpine fairly early in the afternoon to bang this out. It was a beautiful sunny day, if quite breezy, and we certainly didn't have any complaints about our running conditions. What we did have some beef with was the workout, and specifically the amount of rest between each interval (which would be zero, just to clarify). Jordan and I attempted to do a version of this workout when we were in San Diego in October and were met with disastrous results, and I wasn't much more optimistic about today's effort. My legs did feel decent on the warmup so I maintained a sliver of hope.

Unfortunately, simply put, I just didn't have it today. Jeff thinks it's because I'm still sick, but it's actually just because I'm slow (shhhh don't tell him). I started out slow on the mile, but maintained a decent clip on the first two-mile segment. However, when I turned around at three miles and attempted to pick it up for the 1200, my breathing got really panicky and I just couldn't catch my breath. I finally had to stop about 200 meters short and just suck wind for a minute. As soon as I regained my breath I trotted to the next marker so I could begin the second two-mile segment. This went a little slow but i wasn't worried because I was directly into the wind at this point. However, when I attempted to pick it up for the 800, same breathing issue as before. Sooo basically I just stopped short and started crying. Like a little girl. With little...we've been over this already. Point is, I finished (or failed to finish) this workout frustrated and discouraged, and also disappointed in myself that I couldn't suck it up and see it through. I know it's just one day and one workout but still, not what I was hoping for.

After returning to town, Jess and I took a field trip to Jeff's apartment to take an ice bath in his outdoor swimming pool. The locked gate and "Pool Closed" sign did little to deter us, and as soon as Jeff McGyvered open the door we were good to go. Surprisingly, the water temperature was quite refreshing. I mean don't get me wrong, it was freezing cold, but thankfully we were standing in the warm sunshine and managed to tough it out for 10 minutes.

Just as we were toweling off and preparing to leave the area, one of Jeff's crotchety AARP-aged neighbors decided to come harass us on the grounds that being in the pool was "illegal." Now I'm no legal scholar, but I did just pass the North Carolina drivers license exam, so I feel as though I'm fairly well-versed on local policies and procedures. Nowhere on the drivers license cheat sheet did I see a reference to "standing in the shallow end of a swimming pool" being deemed illegal. Driving past a school bus that is stopped for unloading children? Illegal. Passing a tractor before it has an opportunity to pull off to the side of the road? Definitely illegal. Standing waist deep in a swimming pool? Pretty sure that's kosher. Anyway, after a threat to find out which apartment Jeff lives in and sic management on him, she left. Never a dull moment around here.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Official North Carolina Resident

AM: core + massage
5 miles
PM: 63 mins.
8.5 miles

After another 3+ hour day at the DMV, I am proud to say that I passed my written test with 100% correctness and am now an official licensed driver in the state of North Carolina. Even better, I took all my homework with me and was able to get a ton completed while I waited.

As far as running goes, I felt pretty sluggish today. My afternoon run was particularly off, but I'm not really sure why. It's not like it was difficult, but I just never felt relaxed and my breathing wasn't as comfortable as usual. This could be because my bubonic plague is still working itself out and I was having some serious congestion problems today. I'm pretty frustrated with this and wish it would hurry up and go away. I'm also contemplating an ice bath in Jeff's apartment pool before or after tomorrow's workout in hopes of waking up the leggies. We'll see.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

You Can't Yell "Bomb" at the DMV

AM: 4 miles
PM: 8 miles + strides

Today I had the pleasure of wasting my entire morning attempting to procure a North Carolina drivers license. Before we go any further, let me clarify that I have no desire to obtain said license. I have a dynamite picture on my Georgia license and I would be content to keep it for the rest of my life (sort of like what Jordan is doing, only my picture is actually good). However, because I purchased a car in North Carolina and therefore need to register it here, I must have a NC license. Ok. Fine. However, the state has decided to make this much more difficult than it should be by forcing me to pass a 20-question written test AND road sign identification test before having the privilege of paying them $28 to declare me a competent driver. I've been fortunate enough to obtain a cheat sheet for this test, which includes such pertinent and oft-used facts such as:

*If you take any medication before you drive, you should...find out what effect the medication has.
*When traveling on rural highways, farm equipment usually...travels at its maximum speed of 15-20 mph.
*When you get tired on a long trip, you should...stop and rest.
*If you are following a car at night, you know the road is bumpy by...watching its taillights.

Really riveting stuff. Anyway, I was pretty excited to locate a DMV that actually wasn't in the ghetto, only to stand in line for 30 minutes before being told that they don't do new license testing at that location. I didn't know off the top of my head where another location was, so I put in a call to Jordan and had him Mapquest it for me. Luckily it was only ~15 minutes away, but it was definitely in the hood. When I walked in the scene was absolute chaos and I knew I was in it for the duration. I'll spare you the rest of the sordid details, but let's just say that two hours later my number was still no closer to being called (nor was the woman's next to me, who had arrived over an hour before I did). I finally decided to peace out and return tomorrow, this time with my computers/textbooks/other reading in tow. If I'm going to be spending another wasted day at the DMV, I might as well get some work done.

Oh yeah, and I ran today too.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Back to Reality

AM: 20 mins. core
20 mins. pool
PM: 73 mins.
10.5-11 miles

Jeff and I arrived home late enough for me to garner a mere six hours of sleep before practice this morning. I was not too thrilled to wake up before the sun, but I knew I needed to get in the pool and break up the junk in my legs as soon as possible. I may incorporate a few more pool sessions this week if Jeff and i feel it will be beneficial.

After an incredibly busy day that included picking up Tanya and Sean from the airport and filing my taxes (yay refund!), I returned to school for afternoon practice. I had a 12-14 mile long run on tap but Jeff wanted me to incorporate some
speed, so he suggested blocks of 3-mile, 2-mile, 3-mile at 6:30-6:40 pace, with the caveat that I could call it at any time if my legs were feeling dead.

The weather was gorgeous today, even warmer than yesterday afternoon in DC, and by two miles in hardly anyone was wearing a shirt. I ran most of my first interval with Jess (who was doing a similar effort with 3x2 miles), then was on my own for the rest of the run. Basically, the first interval felt pretty good, the second one felt progressively crappier, and the third one just didn't happen. I made it about ~400 meters into the last interval before deciding to call it a day and head back to the Old Bell parking lot. It would've been nice to get in more mileage, but I'll take averaging sub-7 for almost 11 miles.

On a related note, an early bedtime is most definitely in order for tonight. And for the rest of this week, for that matter. I've got some catching up to do.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Week in Review

65 miles
7 states + 1 district in 4 days
(NC, VA, PN, NJ, NY, MD, DE + DC)
25 laps at the Armory
1 bottle of Andre
22 hours in the car with Jeffrey
1 Team MJ run

I don't have the slightest idea where to begin on recapping this week's events, so I probably won't even try. Suffice it to say this weekend was an amazing, exhausting, stressful, exciting couple of days. My 5k at the Armory was very encouraging, and I am cofident I can run faster. I told Jeff yesterday that I want to break 17 minutes during the outdoor season, and there is no doubt in either of our minds that I can accomplish that goal if I'm willing to put in the work. My immediate training goal for the next few weeks before nationals is to kick this cold once and for all and put in some quality mileage and workouts. I don't like being as low as 65 this week, but it was pretty much unavoidable due to Jordan's visit, my sickness and my race prep. I'm kicking off the week with a long run tomorrow so that should give me an early boost in mileage.

Also, to echo what Jilane said today, I was profoundly blessed this week to spend time with so many of my wonderful friends: Jilane, Owen, Jordan, Madeleine (who finally gave in and started her own blog, check it out), Ben, and of course Coach G-Unit, among others. The only person missing was Brookelet! Jilane and I were talking on our run yesterday about how fortunate we are to have found each other and to have formed such lasting friendships despite having only known each other for a short time. There are people who you cross paths with for a reason, people who stay for a season, and friends you keep for life. I am fortunate to have such a wonderful group of lifetime friends, and even more fortunate to have spent time with some of them this week.

It's a Beautiful Day

88-89 mins.
12 miles

Words cannot express how excited I was to run with Jilane today. Not so much because of the "running" part, more for the "Jilane" part. Jeff and I were fortunate enough to be able to crash with her in the District last night and spend some quality time out with friends, including but not limited to Owen, Ben Stern and the infamous Tom's brother George. It was a good time but I was pretty exhausted and still feeling under the weather, so Jilane and I called it a relatively early night.

Team MJ rallies for a night out on Saturday

By the time we got up and at 'em on Sunday it was well past 10am and temps were already in the mid 50s. After a bit of deliberation we both opted for shorts and short sleeves, and man was I glad we did. It got really warm out there by 20 minutes or so, and we could not have asked for a more beautiful day for a run. Apparently everyone else in town had the same idea, and I lost count of the numbers of cyclists, dog walkers, runners and frisbee players we saw on our jaunt through Rock Creek Park. My calves were pretty rocked from wearing spikes in yesterday's 5k, so Jilane agreed to take it easy on me and we kept the pace nice and relaxed.

The signature coffee and animal crackers at Open City

Once the run and shower was complete, we continued the day in fitting fashion with brunch at Open City and then some leisurely strolling around the Mall. Have I mentioned it was an absolutely beautiful day? Jeffrey and I were not looking forward to our 6+ hour drive home, but it was hard to leave when we were so enjoying the sunshine and the company. Spending so much time with Jilane and other friends was such a wonderful surprise for the weekend, and I would've gladly driven twice as far for the same opportunity.

Jeff frightening Jilane with his patented overbite dance move

Actually, that's a lie. I would've made Jeff drive.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

New Balance Invitational

1st run: ~5 min. shakeout run
Race: 2 mile w/u + strides, stretching
Target: 5k race in 17:30
Actual: 5k race in 17:27
2.5 mile c/d
Total: 8 miles

When I woke up this morning in my 10x10 "room" I was still feeling pretty under the weather. Despite pounding cold meds for the previous 24 hours, I was still very congested and runny and sneezy and otherwise not attractive. I was frustrated, but what can you do? I crossed my fingers that I could feel decent for the 20-minute segment of the day when I would be racing but wasn't too optimistic.

Jeff and Jilane had already gone over to the Armory with Matt (who was running the earliest race), so the rest of us had until 8am to pack our things and get in a quick shakeout. Jess, Tanya and I used the shakeout as an opportunity to run back over to Central Park and take some pics (all of which were on Tanya's camera so I'll post them when I get them). The day was cold but clear and would've been beautiful weather for an outdoor race or perhaps a leisurely jaunt through the park. With the way my stomach was tossi
ng and turning with nerves, I would've preferred either of those options to the race I was actually about to participate in.

Once we arrived at the Armory there wasn't much time to sit around before it was time to warm up. The girls and I jogged around the nearby streets, which aren't exactly in the trendiest part of town and are probably exactly what you think of when you picture the dirty an
d crowded streets of this city. Checking in for our race took forever, which meant a truncated warmup, and by the time the race approached I wasn't feeling as loose or prepared as I'd liked. Unlike in Tennessee, when the track was fair game for strides and stretching between races, at this meet you weren't allowed on the track at all until you were lining up for your race. Makes things more professional, I suppose, but also more nerve-wracking for the competitors (or at least for me).

Me at the starting line, third from left. Photo credit Owen Washburn
and the "screen capture" feature

Before I knew it we were toeing the line, and then the race was off. I tried to push all thoughts of nervousness and sickness aside and just compete in my race. I was able to locate Jeff and Jilane almost immediately by the sound of their voices as I rounded the first curve, and I told myself to tune everyone else out and just listen to their splits and instructions each time I went around. As an aside here, I cannot tell you how amazing it was to have Jilane there cheering me on at the meet. She helped calm me down and kept me encouraged throughout the race, and I couldn't have been happier to have her there on the sidelines (I suggested that she run unattached and help pace me, but that didn't go over too well).

Back in the race, the first mile passed almost before I knew it. I was supposed to go through around 5:35 and I was just a few seconds faster at 5:33. This was only 3-4 seconds slower than I went through the mile during last weekend's 3k, but today it felt much more comfortable and relaxed. After hearing Jeff and Jilane's instructions to "tuck in," I was fortunate enough to latch onto a group of two girls (one was from BYU, possibly both) who were running remarkably even splits. I decided to just sit on them for as long as possible and harness their energy. At this point we weren't passing many people but weren't being passed either, but I knew from Jilane and Jeff's comments that the pacing was dead on what I was supposed to run so I continued with my plan. I still felt comfortable through the second mile and knew I really needed to dig in and start competing all the way to the finish line.

I'm not sure exactly when it happened, but somewhere around there I got lapped by the leaders. According to Owen and Jordan, who were both watching the race online, it looked as though I adopted their pace and started running with them for a bit, which is how they both knew I could probably run faster than the pace I was actually maintaining. I don't really remember that, but at any rate I knew the pace was finally starting to feel a bit difficult and my breathing a bit labored, and I was ready to wrap things up. With one lap to go I took off and passed several girls immediately, then tried to maintain the pace toward the end. Unfortunately one of the girl I passed totally snuck up on my on the final straight and ended up passing me back, but nonetheless I finished strong and clocked an official 17:27 as my time.

Needless to say, when Jilane showed me the stopwatch (the official clock stopped after the winner crossed the line, so I wasn't really sure what I'd run), I was pretty ecstatic. This was my first 5k ever indoors (or outdoors, for that matter), and I was pleased to run faster than I'd expected while feeling comfortable doing it. Granted, this track is super fast (as my friend and former Princeton runner Ben Stern said later that night, "It feels like you're running downhill the entire time!"), and the surface combined with the way it was banked felt awesome. But regardless, I know I can run faster. This time is already a provisional qualifier for the DII Indoor National meet, and both Jeff and Scott are 100% confident I will get in, so that's another goal checked off the list. This means that for the rest of the indoor season I can just focus on training and improving fitness rather than preparing for a specific race (until nationals, of course), so I hope to make some quantifiable fitness gains within the next month.

As with most race recaps, this post is already way too long, but I hope it conveys my general excitement and eagerness to get back on the track again. I would be remiss to not give Tanya and Jess shoutouts, as both PRed. Tanya ran an NCAA auto qualifier of 16:54 and Jess set a 15-second PR of 18:28. Overall this was a great race for us and an amazing experience at one of the best indoor track meets in the US.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Central Park West

AM: 3 miles
PM: ~5.5 miles w/2x3 min. uptempo

View of the frozen pond in Central Park West

The story of yesterday's craziness picks up after class last night, when Jeff and I rolled out in our Chrysler 300 rental car and hit the road in hopes of catching Scott and the rest of the team somewhere in Virginia. I'll spare you the details of this journey and skip to 3am, when we arrived at the Ramada Inn in Strasburg, Virginia. Sean: If you thought Johnson City was lacking in fun and excitement, my cursory exploration of Strasburg would indicate that JC is akin to an urban mecca. This "town" was just downright depressing, but after driving half the night through the middle of nowhere it was a welcome sight.

Less than five hours later it was up and at 'em again, as the group needed to head out for our morning shakeout run before completing the journey to NYC. It was very cold, very windy and all around misera
ble on this run, made more so by the fact that my cold has worsened overnight rather than improving. Simply put, I woke up feeling like crap and my condition didn't really improve much throughout the day.

One "perk" of my deteriorating physical condition was that Scott wanted to quarantine me and thus gave me my own room in our next hotel, the Comfort Inn Central Park West. It's a good thing he did, because otherwise I would be sharing with both Tanya and Jess in a room approximately the size of a small closet. I don't know if any of you have ever taken a cruise, or perhaps traveled in a foreign country; if so, think of how small those rooms were and then divide that down the middle. That should give you an idea of the size of my cozy domicile. I'm eyeing it right now and if it's an inch over 10x10 then Michael Phelps didn't inhale.

Half my room. Seriously.

That said, I'm glad we're staying here because of the stellar location. We are literally 200 yards from Central Park, which made for a great run this afternoon. The air was freezing cold but absolutely still, and our surroundings were completely blanketed with snow. The whole scene was indescribably beautiful, and even in my drugged state I was thrilled to be there. And, if possible, even more thrilled that Jilane was waiting for me when I returned to the hotel!!! That's right, the Team MJ reunion came to fruition. Jilane willingly drove up from DC today to watch my race and allow me to infect her with my burgeoning malaria. If that's not true love, then I just don't know what is.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Blogging Study Break

AM: 20 mins. core
59 mins. (8 miles)
PM: ??

Welcome to one of the busiest days I've experienced in quite some time. In addition to attempting to squeeze in two runs and morning core practice, I also have to finish (read: start) studying for my exam in tonight's class (20 questions over three chapters comprising 150 pages--where the heck do I begin with that??), finish emptying my moving pod, pack for this weekend's trip to NYC and find some time to get my hamstring massaged. Also did I mention that Jeffrey and I are leaving AFTER our class lets out at 9pm to drive halfway to NYC tonight? Good times. The only silver lining in this crazy day is that there is a fairly solid chance for a Team MJ reunion in the next 12 to 24 hours...fingers crossed!

As I mentioned, I have another run slated for this afternoon. I will be both shocked and awed if that actually happens, but I suppose it's good to have goals.

Update: It's 5:01pm and I just finished the reading for my test. As predicted, didn't get in the second run. Also of note, I seem to have developed a bit of a cold over the past 48 hours or so. I bought some Cold-Eze zinc tablets this afternoon and will be pounding them religiously until this thing clears up. So far my symptoms are scratchy throat, runny nose, and a bit of an earache on the left side. Fingers crossed that this clears up tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A Sushi Sendoff

AM: 30 mins. core
10 mins. active stretching
7 miles
PM: 3 miles

When Jordan and I awoke in the warmth and comfort of my prison cell, we were surprised to look out the window and see a healthy dusting of snow on the ground. A quick online check of the weather revealed that it was 21, feels like 8 (!!) and not expected to war
m up much during the day. Needless to say, I was none too eager to get out for my run, but we had a busy day on tap and I could only postpone for so long.

In summary, my run was very cold and very windy. I layered up pretty extensively (clearly learning my lesson from yesterday) before taking a spin past campus and down to Freedom Park. I was amazed to see a handful of people out walking in the park despite the blustery conditions. I mean, at least you warm up while running, but walking?? That would be miserable.
Guess I'm not as hardcore as I thought.

Statue on the edge of campus that I run by every morning

Before taking Jordy to the airport, Jeff and I treated him to the deliciousness that is the $9.95 sushi buffet at Ru Sans. The buffet was resplendent in both variety and quantity, and suffice it to say we got our money's worth. It was a delicious and nutritious way to cap off his visit, and for a moment I was distracted from the inevitability of having to take him to the airport shortly thereafter. I did manage to put him to work moving a few boxes first, so at least I have that.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I Can't Dress Myself

AM: 3 miles
PM: 2 mile w/u
Target: 2x1200 @5k pace w/full recovery; 2x400
Actual: 4:13, 4:11, 77.6, 77.3
2 mile c/d
Total: 6 miles

So one would think that at this point in my running career, nay, my life, I would be able to pick out clothing that is appropriate for both the occasion and the weather. However, despite all evidence to the contrary (namely the temperature and the wind), I decided to dress for this afternoon's workout in shorts and short sleeves. Naturally I blame Jordan for allowing me to walk out of the house that way, which is why I punished him by stealing his long sleeve half-zip, but that's beside the point. At any rate, by the time we arrived at Johnson C. Smith for the workout it was windy and cloudy and absolutely freezing. The goal was definitely to bang this out as quickly as possible, so it worked out in my favor that this afternoon's workout was light in volume but pretty solid in terms of effort.

Jess and I warmed up (relatively speaking) in the infield, and Jordan accompanied us on our jog. From there he moved on to his next responsibility of timing our workout, as Jeff was juggling about five different groups of people. I wish I could say I felt great on these efforts, but like the past few days I just felt flat. I'm sure the crappy weather played into it, but nonetheless I was a bit disheartened after this effort. My legs better take a dramatic turnaround by this weekend if this is the pace I'm supposed to run for 5k.

Also, I forgot to mention this yesterday, but seeing how I live on the fifth floor of my prison/apartment complex, I've decided that I should supplement my morning runs by running up the stairs when I return home. Hopefully this will give my conditioning a boost and make me feel less guilty for taking the elevator every other time I come and go during the day. It's the little things.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Happy Birthday, Dad!

AM: 30 mins. core
3 miles
PM: 7 miles
30 mins. pool

Today is my dad's birthday and he is very old. Happy Birthday, Dad!

Moving on: with morning practice canceled for the week, Jordan and I enjoyed a lazy morning of sleeping in before engaging in a semblance of productivity. We did some solid core work before I headed out for an easy three. Jordan's heel was feeling better but he didn't want to push it, so he (wisely) opted to stay behind. I hurried back so we could take a field trip to Smelly Cat coffeehouse for a delicious chai and some internet action.

In the afternoon, Jordan napped for "recovery purposes" while I met the girls for a run at school. Normally we would drive to McAlpine but Scott wanted us in the pool afterward, so we ran from the athletic center instead. Tanya, Jess, Holly and I ran down to Freedom Park, completed a large loop, then ran back through the neighborhoods and took a spin on the "booty loop." I enjoyed the company but my legs felt absolutely awful. From about 10 minutes in I was just wanting this run to be over. For once in my life I was eager to get in the pool, for no other reason than I hoped it would help reenergize my tired legs. If not I might have to put Jordan to use for massage purposes.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Week in Review

78-79 miles
1 track meet
2 meals at Chick-Fil-A
3 3-hour classes
1 trip to the dining hall

Overall I would consider this week a success. I completed my first track meet without catastrophe or bodily harm, and during the week I completed several solid runs and a handful of cross-training efforts. I'm pretty stoked to travel to NYC for the New Balance meet next weekend, and I'm anxious to gauge my current fitness in the 5k.

As far as life outside of running goes, things are starting to fall into place there as well. I'm beginning to get a feel for my teachers and classes, and I'm starting to get settled down in Charlotte. Having Jordan in town for the next few days is definitely the highlight of my week, even though he's being a little bitch right now because his heel is bothering him and he can't do anything about it. I'm looking forward to putting him to work unloading my pod o'stuff after it gets delivered tomorrow.

Sunday Brunch (And a Run, Too)

89 mins.
12 miles

I made it home from the meet last night in time to shower and pick Jordan up at the airport. I was excited for his first visit to Charlotte and was hoping to get in some good runs together. Unfortunately that was not to be the case, at least for the first day, as his achilles flare-up from last week is still bothering him. Nonetheless he was a good sport and made the trip out to McAlpine park with me and the rest of the team this morning. He hoped to spend some time stretching and backwards running and doing some other goofy things while the rest of us slogged out our longer runs.

I started off the run with Tanya and Jess and a pedestrian pace. Jess and I in particular were feeling pretty sore and dead-legged from our races the previous day, and I'd received strict instructions from Jeff to keep the pace nice and easy. Even though I made sure to adhere to that directive my legs still felt sluggish and uncooperative. Jess was hurting too, and she fell off the pace right around five miles, leaving Tanya and I to finish the run together. We made it back to the parking lot in just under 90 minutes--almost exactly the same time it took us to run a full mile farther last Sunday. Oh well, that's what recovery days are for I suppose. I definitely need to get in some stretching and an ice bath ASAP.

Upon the conclusion of our run (Jordan completed a stellar 2x14 minutes, by the way) I treated him to his first meal out in the dining hall. That's right; Jeff, Paula, Jordan and I enjoyed a delicious (read: free) brunch of scrambled eggs, biscuits, cereal, oatmeal and other delicacies at the Queens U dining hall. I can't think of a better way to cap off a long run and start our Sunday off right.