Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Getting Buff

AM: 65 mins. (23 min. w/u, 20 min. uptempo, 22 min. c/d)
9+ miles
30 mins. strength training
2 mile walk
PM: 4 miles

This morning I had a non-workout workout basically consisting of three miles uptempo. Like I've done before, I intentionally chose the bike path over McAlpine so I wouldn't be concerned about mile markers and splits, and instead just based my effort on feel. I'd estimate I was running about 6:20 pace on the uptempo section, which didn't feel fantastic but wasn't painful either.

After the run I met my new personal trainer Jeff in the fitness center at school to start the process of getting huge. I can't go into too many details--don't want to let all my secrets out, you know--but let's just say there was lots of squatting and lunging and leaping involved. Let's also say that I was sore before I even finished, which is a pretty woeful harbinger of how I'm going to feel tomorrow. I think the plan is to implement this workout or a similar version once or twice a week, so hopefully my body will adapt to it fairly quickly.

Tanya and I rounded out the morning with a walk to Great Harvest Bread Co. We bought a loaf of cinnamon chip bread, a spinach feta scuffin (that's a scone-muffin hybrid) and pre-ordered a bread bunny for Easter. That's right, a bunny made of bread. How could we not? Anyhow, my hope is that the walk to and from the store will serve to both loosen up the legs after this morning's strength session and burn away a fraction of the calories I just consumed in carbohydrate form.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Back to Work

AM: 4 miles
15 mins. core
PM: 59 mins. + 4x10 sec. hill sprints
8 miles

Today Jeff showed me my training for the next month, which looks to be pretty intense. We're introducing a few new elements, such as a new core routine, new strength routine in the gym and a group of short, intense hill sprints within my Monday run. My long runs are also ratcheting up to the 16-18 mile range, effective this weekend. When I lay it all out like that it sounds like a lot, but I'm excited to mix things up a bit and challenge my body in a few new ways.

My runs today were decent and I almost feel back to normal. Tomorrow I will be running a few miles uptempo (but not hard enough to designate it a "workout") and then meeting Jeff in the gym to learn a few new moves. Should be a fun time.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Week in Review

69-70 miles
25 laps at Stanford
4 hours in the Phoenix airport
8 ibuprofen
35 bucks leftover from my per diem

Overall I would consider this week a success. I'm disappointed that I missed the auto time, but the entire race experience at Stanford was fantastic and a valuable learning experience. I'm eager to get back to work at improving my fitness and can't wait to have another opportunity to prove myself, namely at the Penn Relays in less than a month. I will probably tackle the 10k again there and hope to race a 5k soon with the goal of dipping below 17 minutes.

Windy Sunday at McAlpine

AM: 75 mins.
10-10.5 miles
PM: 30 mins. pool

Back in Charlotte, back at McAlpine. Jeff basically gave me the green light to run as far as I felt like today, as short as six miles if I wanted, and I decided from the outset that I would shoot for 10 miles if I was feeling decent. With the exception of a stiff headwind (~20mph) the final few miles, I felt unexpectedly decent on this run. I stuck with Holly throughout, and when the wind got too real toward the end we ducked onto a back trail through the woods. This added almost half a mile to our jaunt but was well worth it for the shelter it provided.

I did some half-hearted stretching when I made it back to the parking lot but honestly, I'm still too sore to really put much effort into it. Jeff said I probably won't run hard again until Friday...I cannot tell you how happy this makes me. Definitely looking forward to a few days of easy, active recovery.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

It's Like An Alarm Clock

46 mins.
6 miles

So picking up where we left off, my throbbing legs gave me a rather rude awakening circa 5:30 this morning. Awesome. Since I was unable to go back to sleep, I occupied my time by blogging, talking to Jordan, walking to the drug store to procure some ibuprofen, and watching the news on KRON 4 (home of the now-famous "Whistles Go Woooo!" news story that I suggest you watch immediately if you've never had the privilege before).

Around 8:30, Mike and I piled into the rental with Scott and headed out to some trail by the bay that Scott knew about. It was actually just past the Google corporate campus and several other Silicon Valley companies in Mountain View. The morning was warm and a touch humid, especially near the marshy area where we were running, but it felt good to loosen up the legs and put in a few easy miles. The view certainly didn't hurt either; after seeing the bay on one side and mountains on the other, I was having a hard time remembering exactly why I lived in North Carolina instead of here.

View of the bay at sunrise from the trails in Mountain View

The rest of the day was spent traveling, which is always exhausting, but by 11pm I was asleep in my own (twin extra-long prison issue) bed. Time to rest up and hopefully make up for last night's fitful sleep.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Stanford Invite 10k

AM: 20 mins.
2.5 miles
PM: 20 min. w/u + strides (2.5 miles)
Target: 10k race @35:50 (5:45 pace)
Actual: 36:12 (5:48 pace: 1 mile @5:43; 5k @17:57)
12 min. c/d (1.5 miles)

Total: 10-10.5 miles

I should still be sleeping. As I'm typing this post-dated entry, it's 5:45am on Saturday morning. Our flight isn't until 12:30 and Mike and I don't even have to go do our recovery runs until 8:30, which is, yup, almost 3 hours from now. However, because my body is still out of whack from the time difference and because my legs are literally throbbing, here I am. So, instead of sleeping, I will attempt to recap my day and 10k race.

Yesterday started out quite pleasantly, and unlike this morning I was able to sleep until almost 8:30. When I awoke I peeked outside and was greeted by clear blue skies and plenty of sunshine; by the time I headed out for my shakeout around 10, it was clear this was going to be another positively gorgeous day. I wished I could've run much farther because it was so nice out, but reminded myself I'm not here to merely go for a jog. Likewise, as I stared wistfully outside my hotel (or, let's be real, motel) room window all afternoon yearning to be laying outside at the beach, I had to remind myself I wasn't here for vacation. Which is unfortunate, because I wouldn't mind spending another day or 20 here.

After sitting around all day--and I do mean all day; it was as boring as it sounds--we headed up to the track around 5:30pm. For me this meant more sitting around, just in a different location, but it was pretty fun watching many of the other distance races. To be honest it was also quite humbling to be in the presence of so many talented runners, and to realize that there were literally dozens if not hundreds of girls there who could beat me any day of the week without a second thought. I quickly learned that everyone is fast at the Stanford Invite, with very few exceptions.

I'll spare you the minutiae of the next few hours and skip to Mike's race, which went off just before I was to commence my warmup. He was in the fast section of the 5k--probably the only D2 runner in that section, and one of the few D2 runners in the entire 5k field--and held his own, kicking hard and passing a ton of guys in the final lap to finish in a comfortable PR of 13:46. As soon as I finished cheering for him, I threw on my trainers and headed out to warm up. I was greeted by a truly great surprise when I made it back to the track and started doing my strides: Ryan Graddy and Nick Sarro! Jordan and I ran with Graddy, who is in med school at Brown, when we were in San Diego over Christmas break, but I hadn't seen Sarro since Senior Week almost a year ago. It was great to see them and, later, hear them cheering for me during my race. Definitely made my day.

Ok, now on to the race itself: basically, this was the hardest I have ever run in my entire life. Or, at least, it hurt as much or more than any race I have ever run. I missed the auto time of 35:50 but I can assure you it wasn't for lack of trying. I felt awesome through the mile, comfortable through the 5k, and then the monkey jumped on my piano (or whatever that metaphor is). By 6k I was hurting and desperately trying to keep with my original strategy of staying with a pack. I competed well, passing girls who were falling off pace and catching up with girls who were running ahead of me, but after a while everyone was strung out and I found myself out there in no man's land. When I crossed the line with what I thought was 5 laps to go, I heard Scott yell "6 laps to go!" Um, I cannot quote for you verbatim the thought that crossed my mind in case any women and children are reading, but suffice it to say I was not thrilled. The final mile was absolutely torturous, but I amused myself with thinking of creative ways to sustain an injury and drop out of the race. By the time I hit a lap to go, I was in the red and basically willing myself to keep it together. I passed one girl on the final straight and kicked (if that's how you could describe it) with everything I had, but I had already known for quite some time that it wouldn't be enough to bring me under 36 minutes.

Now that the dust has settled and I've spoken with Scott and Jeff, I can analyze this race relatively objectively. Initially I was crestfallen to have missed the time after putting in so much hard work--and, more importantly, after believing I was fit enough to run it--but I have to look at this as a great first step. This was my first outdoor track race since high school, first 10k track race ever, and first time competing against this caliber of competition. My time was also well below the provisional standard of 37:2x needed for nationals, so there's a strong chance I will get in with this time anyway. As Jeff said, when you look at how my fitness has progressed over the past few months, our strongest feeling should be one of excitement. I have made some huge jumps in fitness and I know I can continue to do so over the course of this outdoor season. I remember running a 10k road race in Dallas almost exactly a year ago and texting Jordan (who I wasn't dating yet but he was so obviously trying to woo me), absolutely thrilled that I ran 37:55 and notched a huge PR (I'm embarrassed to say I don't think I'd broken 39 minutes before). To look back and realize how much my mindset and my personal standards have changed since then...well, it's a great feeling. The glass truly is half full.

Apologies on the length. Photos to come if I feel like it.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Do You Know the Way to San Jose

AM: 45 mins.
6 miles
PM: 3 miles + strides

Welcome to the longest day of my life. I mean, not literally, but it had to be up there. It all started when I woke up early to finish packing and squeeze in a run prior to meeting Scott and Mike. My run was pretty craptastic but I'm not super concerned about it. We left for the airport at 9:30, eager to get to California so we could mentally and physically prepare for tomorrow night's races.

The first leg of our trip, Charlotte to Phoenix, commenced just a few minutes off schedule. We were in the air by 11:30 but, to our dismay, were seated in the very back of the plane. As in, literally the very back seat. As the flight progressed it became increasingly apparent that we would be cutting it very close for making our connection in Phoenix. The time between flights was a mere 30 minutes, which is pretty iffy even under the best of circumstances, and these certainly weren't the best of circumstances. By the time the entire planeload of people filed out and we made it into the terminal, we were looking at about 15 minutes until our flight was supposed to take off. "Don't worry," the flight attendant on our flight had said, "they know you're coming."

Well, they may have known, but they certainly didn't care. We reached our gate at 1:24 only to discover that the boarding door has been irreversibly closed at 1:22. FML. Long story short, we ended up getting booked on the next flight...which didn't leave until 5pm Pacific time. Sigh. I suppose the silver lining is that by the time we arrived in San Jose, procured our rental car, checked in to our hotel, changed clothes and headed to Stanford for our shakeout, it was well past 9pm. Since I'm not racing until 10:10 tomorrow night (which will be 1:10am to my poor, bedraggled body), at least I would have a chance to simulate what the late-night running would feel like.

To my pleasant surprise, I felt amazing on tonight's jog. I guess what everyone says is true; the air around here is magical. Mike, Scott and I opened up the run by taking in a few laps on the Stanford track. Talk about surreal; to think that the very place where I was casually jogging tonight would be the site of my long-awaited race tomorrow night was hard to wrap my brain around. There were a few other athletes milling around and getting in their last-minute race prep (including Sara Hall, who was apparently just learning how to go over the water barrier for her debut 3000m steeplechase), and after a few laps we decided to cruise down the bike path/gravel trail around campus for the rest of the jaunt. I finished up on the track around 22 minutes for some stretching and a few strides. The air was completely still, as evidenced by the motionless flags hanging on the pole, and I can only hope for a replica of tonight's weather tomorrow.

Once Mike and I were finished with our respective routines, Scott picked us up and we packed it in for the night. I'm exhausted and need to get in a good night's sleep. I'm also beyond nervous and could very well vomit by the time you're reading this. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Doesn't Quite Feel Like Spring

AM: 15 mins. core
25 mins. pool
PM: 61 mins.
8 miles

So, apparently winter is back. This was evidenced by the ~40 degree temps and cold drizzle that Tanya and I were greeted with on our way to morning practice at 7am. Seriously?? I'm so over it.

Anyway, the rain abated during the afternoon, and my legs felt relatively bouncy on my jaunt through Freedom Park and the bike path. Almost overnight it seems that the cherry trees have blossomed in the park and, despite today's evidence to the contrary, the burgeoning flora and fauna give hope for a beautiful spring season.

Beautiful cherry blossoms in Freedom Park

I could write more, but it's almost 10pm and I have yet to pack for tomorrow's trip to Cali. Better get on that.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Stanford Pre-Race Workout

AM: 4 miles
15 mins. core
PM: 10 mins. active stretching
2 mile w/u + drills, strides
Target: 2x1200 @10k pace (5:40-5:45); 2x400
Actual: 4:15 (5:40 pace); 4:13; 71.8; 71.4
2 mile c/d
Total: 6 miles

Today's workout was designed to be light and easy, an opportunity to get my legs accustomed to the pace I will (hopefully) be running Friday night. As I was warming up I could tell that the wind would be pretty real on the backstretch, and I silently offered up thanks that I wasn't running a "real" workout. Could've been brutal. As it was, the breeze was quite daunting, and made the 1200s a bit more difficult than I was expecting. Don't get me wrong; they weren't difficult, but it didn't feel as though I was jogging like I'd (naively?) hoped. Oh well. Opening up the stride on the 400s felt pretty good, and I finished the workout feeling cautiously optimistic about Friday.

Monday, March 23, 2009


AM: 4 miles
PM: 58 mins.
8 miles

Beautiful day, enjoyable runs. That's all I have to say about that.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Week in Review

78-79 miles
2 runs with my dad
5 meals at actual restaurants
0 airports!!

This was a thoroughly enjoyable week, both from a training standpoint and a social standpoint. I was quite pleased with my shape cutting on Tuesday, and glad to see my mileage hovering at 80 miles despite omitting a long run. As I look ahead to next week, it is both exciting and overwhelmingly terrifying that I race at Stanford in exactly five days. Eeek. Nothing much I can do between now and then except make sure I take care of the little things like rest and nutrition. The money is already in the metaphorical bank at this point.

Also, it was wonderful having my parents in town this week. I enjoyed showing them around town (and, in many instances, discovering places I hadn't yet explored) and spending time together. Also, for the record, my dad would like my loyal readers to know that while we didn't have time to go grocery shopping together, they did slip me some spending cash expressly for that purpose. Everybody wins.

Sunday at McAlpine

AM: 73 mins.
10 miles
PM: 25 mins. pool

Another beautiful day, another lovely run at McAlpine. I kept company with Holly during this jaunt, and our conversation passed the time quickly. My legs were fairly fatigued the last few miles but that's to be expected at the end of another relatively heavy training week. I had a good chat with Coach Simmons after the run; he's definitely optimistic about my upcoming race at Stanford and seems confident I can run the auto time. Good to know both he and Jeff think I'm ready to throw down.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spectating at UNCC

AM: 4 miles
15 mins. core
PM: 56 mins.
7.5 miles

With the promise of another busy day, I was up early and out the door soon after. After my standard morning loop around the park and back, I headed out to meet up with my parents one last time before their 10am departure. We had a great visit and I was sad to see them go, but glad they got to see so much of the city and enjoy some of the nicest weather we've had since I
moved here.

Tanya and I spent the rest of the morning running errands and planning our afternoon trip to the track meet at UNC-Charlotte. Several of our teammates ran the 5k and 1500 the previous evening, and more of them would be racing the 800 and 3k today. We also learned that our guys team would be putting together an impromptu team for the 4x4, consisting of Devin (800/miler), Nelson (800/miler), Mike (5ker) and Eli (rando kid from the soccer team who doesn't actually run for Queens but volunteered to help us attain the 14 participants necessary to earn our status as an official "team"). I will say with no hesitation that this relay ended up being the highlight of my entire day. Basically it went down like this:

Leg 1: Mike leads off. He splits a blaz
ing 51-high and puts the team comfortably in the mix.
Leg 2: Devin takes control, totally demolishes the field and hands off with a ~10m lead.
Leg 3: Nelson, wearing a singlet four times too large for him, runs strong and widens the lead to at least 25 meters. Granted this is the slow heat but still, they're running strong. Eli (rando soccer kid) looks increasingly panicked as Nelson approaches.
Leg 4: Eli takes the baton and sprints like he's been poked with a cattle prod, maintains the lead through the first 100 meters. By the time he hits the backstretch we all know that disaster is imminent. Sure enough, the field chews him up and spits him out before they hit the final turn. Eli is giving it his all, fists pumping, arms flailing, trying to hold off the one kid who is even farther out the back than him. He drives to the tape to finish in an official time of 3:35.

Sadly, his 61-second split is about ten seconds faster than I could run. Sigh. Needless to say, this was a fantastic way to end the meet and good times were had by all in

The most entertaining relay team at the entire meet
L to R: Devin, Eli, Mike, Nelson

Friday, March 20, 2009

A Walk in the Park

AM: 59 mins.
8.5 miles
PM: ~32 mins.
4 miles

Jeff had originally scheduled me for 4 miles @6:10 pace today, but amended that to 4 miles reasonably uptempo. We both know there's no chance of me gai
ning fitness between now and Stanford, so today's effort was just meant to wake up the legs and break up the monotony of every other day's easy runs. Because of this, and because I wanted to save time so I could meet up with my parents sooner, I opted to hit up Freedom Park and the adjacent greenway instead of driving to McAlpine. This meant I wouldn't have any mile markers and therefore no real idea of how fast I was running, but for the purposes of today's run I was fine with that.

Overall this outing was pretty fantastic. I felt great on the uptempo section, probably moreso than on the "easy" segments, and I was almost sorry to slow down when the "workout" portion was over. I would estimate my pace was somewhere in the 6:20-6:30 range, with a few minutes perhaps a bit faster, but I felt very relaxed and could've run quite a few more miles at that p
ace. Always nice to feel that way at the end of a harder effort.

Freedom Park fountain

This afternoon I took my dad back over to Freedom Park for my shakeout. It was a gorgeous afternoon and it seemed as though everyone from the Myers Park neighborhood was out and about. A few times it was a bit tedious weaving around dog walkers, baby joggers, little kids on bicycles, etc., but I have to say it makes me happy to see so many people outside enjoying the day. My dad was very impressed with the park and couldn't stop raving about how clean and new everything looked. I've almost gotten to the point where I take this for granted, but days like this certainly make me appreciative.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Busy Day With the Fam

79 mins.
10 miles

This morning I was excited to have the opportunity to take my dad out to McAlpine for the first time. The beautiful weather rolled in with my parents' arrival yesterday, and this morning we were greeted with clear blue skies and warming temperatures. He was looking to put in an easy hour on the feet and I had ten miles on my schedule, so we set off from the Old Bell parking lot with the hope of getting in 5-6 miles together.

Due in no small part to the weather, the park was unusually crowded this morning with cyclists, dog walkers and other outdoors enthusiasts. Add to that the sights and sounds of birds, frogs, squirrels, ducks and other animals, and it's obvious that spring is finally here. Dad and I ran together for five miles--two from Old Bell to the start of the Footlocker course and then one loop around the 5k course--before parting ways; he in the direction of the parking lot and me to take another spin around the Footlocker course. My legs definitely appreciated the relaxed pace while we were running together, and they were none too pleased when I tried to pick it up a bit on the second half of the run. I was pretty beat by the last two miles and was perfectly happy to call it a day just short of 80 minutes.

The rest of the morning and afternoon was spent with my parents, as we strolled around uptown Charlotte (I've recently learned that only complete idiots call it "downtown"), enjoyed manicures and pedicures (Pops excluded) and ate lunch. In the afternoon we were fortunate to have the opportunity to sit in on Thomas Friedman's lecture at Queens. He is a well-known author and New York Times columnist, and he also holds the distinction of having been pied in the face while delivering a lecture at Brown last year. Coincidentally, this occurred in the exact same auditorium and on the exact same stage where a certain group of fellow bloggers and myself hid in a rather cramped A/V closet for an indeterminate amount of time prior to Campus Dance last spring to avoid paying the steep entry fee. So basically what I'm saying is Tom and I were pretty much BFFs prior to today's presentation are even more so after it. All kidding aside, it was pretty cool to see him in such an intimate setting (~100 people) and to hear his thoughts on the challenges and opportunities facing our nation and world at the present time.

I opted not to skip class for the second night in a row, so the rest of the evening was rather anticlimactic. Fortunately I have the entire day off tomorrow so I'm looking forward to more quality time with the 'rents.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Special Guests

AM: 20 mins. core
25 mins. pool
PM: 62 mins.
8+ miles

It's a beautiful day and my parents just arrived for their first Charlotte visit. No complaints here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Patty's Day Shape Cutting

AM: 4 miles
PM: 10 mins. active stretching
2 mile w/u + strides
Target: 16x400 @80-82 cut down to 75 w/1 min. rest
Actual: 81, 81, 81, 81, 79, 78, 78, 78, 78, 77, 77, 77, 75, 76, 75, 70
2 mile c/d
Total: 8 miles

After several days of cold and dreary weather, we were treated with a gorgeous spring afternoon for today's workout. It seems like our last three or four track workouts have taken place in similar conditions, and it continues to make me happy. If I had one complaint (which, let's be honest, of course I do) it would be that the wind was quite brisk on the backstretch. Like, really brisk. Okay, now that I've gotten that out of the way, we can talk about the workout itself.

So, basically this went really well, both in terms of times and feel. It wasn't until #12 or 13 that I truly started feeling fatigued; I also noticed at that point that my breathing was pretty ragged during the rest periods, whereas I'd been able to carry on a conversation previously. I really tried to open up my legs on the last one, but it seems that I just can't break 70 seconds no matter what the bribe/enticement is for doing so. Good grief. Um, seventh grade called; it wants its mile relay split back. At any rate, I felt very strong and controlled throughout, and was pleasantly surprised when Jeff complimented me on how much my form has improved. That probably says more about how my form was before than how it is now, but I choose to see it as a compliment.

Looking back on some of my recent shape cutting sessions, my progression is pretty solid. I ran much faster than on the 25x400 last month, which is to be expected, but keep in mind that I also had one lap jog after every five intervals during that workout; today the rest was 60 seconds throughout. Looking a bit further back, almost two months ago to the day I did 12x400 in 78-79 average. Today the average was a bit faster for more intervals, which is definitely what we want to see.

I always say this after track workouts, but I am going to be extremely sore tomorrow. Yay.

Monday, March 16, 2009

New Life: Day 1

AM: 4 miles
15 mins. core
PM: 76 mins.
10-10.5 miles

This morning Tanya and I celebrated the beginning of our new lives. Basically this consists of not eating candy all the time, not snacking late at night and eating more fruits and vegetables. Well, she already eats plenty of fruits and vegetables...that last part was for me. At any rate, we both rose early and took care of our morning workouts--I did four miles easy and she aqua jogged/swam--then we took a trip down the street to the grocery store and came home to do some core. She made us oatmeal with blueberries, strawberries, almonds and brown sugar for breakfast. So far so good.

In the afternoon, I joined the team at McAlpine for a very muddy slog. By the time Jess and I finished our jaunt we were pretty much splattered from hamstring to foot. Guess that's to be expected since it's been raining on and off in Charlotte since Friday. My left hammy was pretty tight by the end, but after Jeff did some work on me he determined that my low back is much more jacked up than my legs...probably a correlation there. I'm not sure what I can do about it in the long term, but for now I'm going to keep putting Jeff to work on a regular basis.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Week in Review

74-75 miles
7 airports (BWI, MEM, OKC, IAH, JAX, ATL, CLT)
4 destinations (DC, OKC, JAX, CLT)
7 runs with Jordan
5 pancakes eaten with a spoon

Okay seriously, this week feels like it started a month ago. I can barely recall Blake dropping Jeff and me off at the Charlotte airport to pick up a rental car last Friday...surely that was in February sometime. Good grief. My prison cell never looked so welcoming as it did when I finally arrived home just past 5pm today. And, guess what, I will be at home for 10 WHOLE DAYS before traveling again! Woohoo! I'm also excited because my parents are coming to visit later this week, so that should be a good time and an opportunity to score some free groceries (hint hint; I know you're reading this, Dad).

Now, reflecting on the past week, obviously it was a mixed bag in terms of running. My mileage wasn't as high as it needs to be, and obviously I bombed the US 15k race, but I also had a really solid workout on Tuesday and some quality doubles. Also, if you look at the accumulation of the past 2-3 weeks, I've strung together quite a few solid workouts and long runs in a row. The fact that I've been able to enjoy these runs in the company of some of my favorite people in destinations all over the lower 48 is a pretty sweet bonus.

Going forward, my goal is to really lock down this hamstring issue and put together another solid week of training. Some members of our team will be opening up at the UNCC meet this weekend, but I won't hit the track until Stanford. I hope to put it some quality efforts this week and further sharpen my fitness before my first track race.

10 Days Later

AM: 45 mins.
6 miles
PM: 4 miles

I woke up before sunrise this morning to bang out an easy run before departing for the airport. I was actually supposed to fly out last night, but after checking my flight status online I learned it was already 2+ hours delayed, which meant I might not make my connection and definitely would not arrive home prior to 2am. I put in a quick call to AirTran and they were surprisingly accomodating with switching me to a morning flight sans fee. So I happily enjoyed a short-sleeve run this m
orning while watching the sun come up over the Jacksonville Riverwalk as opposed to shivering through what promised to be a cold, rainy slog in Charlotte. I also had the opportunity to attend the post-race party at the race director's house last night, which was revelry and merriment for all involved. Overall I feel good about my impromptu decision to stay another night.

"River Runner" statue on the Jacksonville Riverwalk

The rest of my day was largely spent traveling, which is always a grand waste of time. Basically my two flights comprising a total of three hours were broken up by a four hour layover in Atlanta. By fortunate coincidence, Jeff and Tanya and Mike were also laying over for approximately the same amount of time en route from Nationals in Houston, so I was able to spend most of the afternoon hanging out with them at B28. Mike was flying high (and hungover) after celebrating his first national championship win in the 5k, while Tanya was a bit disappointed about her own 5k race. She's been struggling with plantar fascitis and basically hasn't been running the past three weeks, but by all accounts she ran a super tough race and couldn't have done anything more. I'm proud of both of them and excited to see what the outdoor season brings.

Not much to report on my evening run, except that I picked up the pace a bit more than expected. I guess it's good that my legs are feeling decent, with just a few twinges in the hamstring, so hopefully next week I can get back on plan without skipping too many beats.

Gate River Run 5k....Er, 15k

~2 mile w/u + strides
Race: 5:59, 6:04, 6:00 (5k~18:50); dropped @~3.5
3.5 mile jog back to start
Total: 9 miles
Post-race: 2-3 mile walk back to hotel

Well. I'm going to be brief with this so as not to dwell on the negative...it's not good for my chi. Anyway, the legit reason why I bailed on this race was my left hamstring. It's no state secret that it's chronically tight, but today it was bothersome to the point of seriously altering my stride. I've gone over it in my mind as to why today would be different than other days and I'm not entirely sure. Perhaps I was dehydrated? It's much more humid here than anywhere else I've been recently, so that might have something to do with it. Combined with my constant traveling as of late, that might be the culprit. Honestly though, I have no idea. I just know that by 5k I was certain things weren't feeling as they should and I faced the decision to 1) continue on, hope it worked itself out, possibly cause more damage; or 2) drop out, wog back to the start, be upset/embarrassed that I didn't finish. Sounds like a lose/lose situation but I went with #2. Sigh.

On the one hand, I'm extremely disappointed in how things played out today, but on the other hand the goal remains unchanged. This was just intended as a tune-up for the first Stanford in two weeks, and I still have my sights on attaining the auto qualifying time in the 10k there. I need to try not to let this race affect me psychologically, continue to build my fitness for the next week, and be extra vigilant about stretching/massaging my hamstring.

Oh, and just as an aside, I would've absolutely gotten rolled had I continued the race anyway. There were some sick times out there today. Props to all the studs who finished in the money.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Rolling With the VIPs in JAX

AM: 31 mins.
4 miles
15 mins. core
PM: 45 mins.+ strides
6 miles

I took my time waking up this morning and spent a few hours lounging around my luxurious room at the Wyndham Jacksonville Riverwalk before heading out for an easy wog. I've never been here before and hadn't the slightest idea where to go for my run, but I saw a bridge with a pedestrian path that looked promising so I headed off in that direction. A few minutes later I was over the bridge and running parallel to the river on the Jacksonville Riverwalk. In sharp contrast to the climate I just left, it's quite warm and muggy here. Definitely better than what I left behind in Oklahoma but horrendous for my hair. A
t any rate, both my runs were fine. I wish I could say I felt bouncy and spectacular leading into tomorrow's race, but in all honesty I feel a bit flat. The good thing is there are little to no expectations put upon me for tomorrow other than to put forth a solid effort, so if I royally embarrass myself there's a good chance not too many people will find out. Fingers crossed.

The bridge I crossed on my runs today

The most interesting/comical part about this whole experience is that I've somehow managed to sneak my way into the elite athlete section, which earns me all sorts of privileges such as access to the elite hospitality room, free pre-race dinner at the hotel, shuttles to and from the race, etc. There are about 100 other elites just like myself here for the race and I would say I recognize about 20 of them. Which is about 20 more than recognize me, that's for certain. I keep waiting for someone to tap me on the shoulder as I'm slathering a bagel with PB in the hospitality room and tell me that I'm not supposed to be there, but so far no one seems to be onto my ruse. In return I've been afforded a rare glimpse into the private goings on of the nation's finest distance runners, at least when it comes to their choices of food and beverage. With each passing minute I am made more aware of how I don't belong here in the slightest. Oh well...I'm off to grab a few more Powerades.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Last Day in OK

59 mins.
8 miles
15 mins. core

A few seconds after Jordan went downstairs to sync his Garmin, he returned with the ominous statement, "You're not going to like this." After I stepped outside and was greeted with wind, freezing rain and frigid temps, I was inclined to agree. Definitely not ideal running weather. Unfortunately I didn't have many options, as I was scheduled to fly east in just a few hours. We both begrudging added another layer of clothing and set off in the direction of campus.

About three miles into our rainy run Jordan fielded a call from Scotty, whom he'd tried unsuccessfully to reach prior to our outing. Scotty asked where we were and Jordan informed him that he had exactly 8 minutes to get ready before we reached his house. Moving with uncharacteristic haste, he obliged and was waiting outside when as we approached a few minutes later. From there we proceeded backwards on a familiar route--some would call it the "Meagan Loop" and some would beg to differ--while the rain kept falling at an increasing intensity the entire time. I was not a happy camper at this point, mostly because my Raynaud's was kicking in full force and I was fighting waves of nausea. Once we turned out of the wind I gradually began to feel normal again and was able to complete the run with last night's dinner staying put.

The next few hours passed quickly, and before I knew it Jordan had hijacked Craig's car and was driving me to the airport. I was sad to be leaving so soon after what felt like a short trip, but excited to leave behind the craptastic weather and spend the next few days in sunny Jax for the Gate River Run. Should be a fun few days and a great race atmosphere.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Looks Like Winter is Back

AM: 4 miles
PM: 8 miles

Jordan was off work today so we enjoyed a relaxing morning at Winans sipping cafe au lait and perusing the internet. Around 11am it dawned on me that I needed to put in two runs today, as my travel plans tomorrow will make doubling impossible. Oops. So we hit up the GT for our "morning" run just before noon. Sometime yesterday afternoon the wind shifted and a cold front blew in, meaning that while 24 hours ago we were wearing shorts and tees, today we were bundled up in as many layers as we could find. Sucks.

To fill the few hours separating our runs, we took a field trip to the downtown laundromat. Jordan has been content over the past few months to wash his clothes in the sink, eschewing conventional methods like a washer and dryer. Add that to the list of "conventional" items he is currently doing without. At any rate, the laundromat was pretty sketchy but it got the job done, both in terms of cleaning our garments and passing the time. Jordan even got to play a game of Pac Man on an old school arcade machine. It was fun for the whole family.

After returning home, Jordan fielded a call from our new friend Dwight. He was game for a run and we opted for Sutton Woods in hopes of shielding ourselves from the wind. The run there was pretty brutal as we faced the gale force gusts head on, but once we were on the protected trails things weren't bad. My legs are definitely tired and I'm glad I have a few more easy days prior to Gate River.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

OU Track Workout

AM: 2 mile w/u + strides
Target: 5xmile @5:45 w/3 mins. rest
Actual: 5:49, 5:45, 5:44, 5:44, 5:39
1.5 mile c/d
Total: 9 miles
PM: 25 mins.
3 miles

Jordan and I woke up bright and early this morning with the intention of heading over to the OU track and banging out my workout before Gus picked us up at 9:30. Otherwise we would've had to wait until after Jordan got off work at 7, which I wasn't too keen on, especially since the wind was forecasted to pick up to 20+ mph by then. As it was, the flags were already billowing in earnest (weather.com said 16mph when we headed out the door), but I was optimistic in hoping it wouldn't be too much of a factor during my workout. Besides, I had my very own pacers/wind blockers/bodyguards in the form of Jordan and Scotty D. I was a little wary of letting Jordan on the track for the first time in several months, but he promised to let me know if his achilles started to bother him.

After some strides and stretching, Jordan and I geared up for the first interval. Scotty D was running a few minutes late and wouldn't arrive until after #1, so at the starting line I cautioned Jordan not to take us out too quickly. "Remember, 86 feels reaaaally slow to you." Be careful what you wish for, I suppose, because when we crossed the finish line after a very pedestrian first lap the watch read 91. Oops. We came through the half in 2:57 and finished the interval in 5:49, so you can do the math on how fast we were booking the second half.

For reasons undetermined other than the fact that he is mean, Jordan took my watch away from me and flung it to the track before the second interval. This meant I would be running on feel and/or just keeping pace with him and Scotty going forward. I was confident that their internal clocks would hit the correct pace so I wasn't too distressed about being sans timepiece. Sure enough, we hit the next three spot on, and I felt increasingly comfortable as the workout progressed. The wind was a slight factor on the back half of the track (Jordan and Scotty's 130-pound frames can only do so much), but for the most part I felt controlled and fairly relaxed throughout. As I'd hoped, we cut the pace down slightly on the final interval and I was able to cruise in just under 5:40. Overall this was a solid workout, due in no small part to my handsome and talented assistants.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Jordan's Almost a Real Runner Again

AM: 47 mins.
6+ miles
PM: ~50 mins.
6-7 miles

Today's runs were fairly standard for me, but pretty significant for Jordy considering that he hasn't doubled since pre-injury. Fortunately I run slow enough to keep him from getting too crazy, and he didn't complain of pain at any point. I'm stoked to see him on the road to recovery (mostly because it means he won't be in a bad mood all the time) and am looking forward to enlisting his help on tomorrow morning's workout.

Not a whole lot else to report. We did part of our morning run in Sutton Woods, which meant we had soft surfaces and a respite from the wind. In the evening I doubled from OK Runner through Brookhaven, and was joined for the second half by Jordan, Scotty and their friend Carrot Top (he has a real name but I don't actually know what it is). I turned back a few minutes early due to tired legs and an upset stomach, opting instead to stretch while I awaited their return.

Upon arriving back at Jordan's apartment, he proceeded to prepare us a delicious pancake-and-egg dinner. What's remarkable about this is that he is currently lacking a mixing bowl, forks and a spatula, among other things. Good to know that a coffee pot and spoons can be used improvisationally in this and similar situations.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Week in Review

~85 miles
1 rental car
3 airports
8? boxes of wine
27 miles in DC

The reason why some unnamed members of our party weren't
feeling too chipper on Sunday morning

I mean, we could talk about this week from a running perspective, but why bother? Yeah I had a great workout on Thursday and a few solid long runs, but the best part of this week was far and away the time spent with friends. Any time I have the opportunity to see all my favorites in the span of one weekend is pretty phenomenal, regardless of what events actually transpire. The fact that this trip included some sightseeing, some fun running, a birthday surprise and a pretty rad party just makes things all the better. I am undeservedly blessed to have some truly wonderful people in my life, and I wouldn't trade this time with them for anything.

Travel Day

AM: 4 miles
PM: 47 mins
6+ miles

Despite all expectations to the contrary (including but certainly not limited to the whole "springing forward" situation with the clocks), Jilane and I were awake and chipper with plenty of time to squeeze in a short run before shipping me off to Oklahoma. We did a fairly standard out-and-back along Connecticut, across the bridge and over to Dupont Circle before flipping the script and bringing it back home.

After a few hours of cross-country travel (which, incidentally, is starting to become a fairly routine part of my average weekend), I was picked up at the OKC airport by Jordan and Scotty D. It was an absolutely beautiful afternoon, sunny and surprisingly wind-free, and all three of us were eager to put in a few miles before dark. We jogged from Jordan's apartment over to the GT (Jilane, I know you're jealous) and met Dwight, a customer from the store who is in town for work for a few weeks. I lost count of how many laps the four of us did around the outer loop, but at any rate it was enough to bring us to almost 40 minutes as we began the run home. Overall the pace was relaxed and it felt good to stretch out my legs after a long day of traveling. Jordan's achilles is feeling almost back to normal, and I'm pretty excited about getting in some good runs with him during my visit this week.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Food, Fun and Friends...And a Few Miles

AM: 120 mins.
16-16.5 miles
PM: ~3 hours of Mall walking

What can I say, today's run was awesome. It started a bit unconventionally, as Jilane and I picked up Ben and then headed to National airport to drop off the rental car I'd taken on the previous day's drive. Since there's a bike path conveniently located adjacent to the airport, we jettisoned the car and literally started the run
from there. Excellent strategery if you ask me. I had 16-18 on tap and Jilane had graciously agreed to tag along for the whole effort. Ben, on the other hand, made it clear from the outset that he would under no circumstances run for two hours, but we were honored to bask in his presence for as long as he would allow.

At any rate, we hoppe
d onto the bike path and proceeded toward the heart of the District. I've run on this path many times before, as it runs very near to the hotel I've stayed at several years in a row while working the MCM expo. After a few miles we crossed the bridge over to Teddy Roosevelt Island, which I've driven by countless times but never actually set foot on. The island has several miles of shaded, soft surface trails and we enjoyed a few meandering loops before crossing the bridge again and continuing along the bike path. From there we crossed the Key Bridge into Georgetown, where we took a quick break at the Georgetown Running Company. Owen was rumored to be working that day and we'd hoped to pay him a visit, but as it turned out he wasn't there yet and therefore missed out on a sweaty and thoroughly disgusting hug from yours truly. His loss.

Teddy R. keepin it real on his island

At this juncture we had almost reached our halfway point and fully expected Ben to peace out and head back home. Instead he surprised us both by offering to tag along for a few more miles. We hopped down onto the towpath and followed it to the Glover Archibald trail system, which was muddy and hilly and rather technical. That's where things got pretty real, at least for me. The pace slowed because of the terrain but the effort ratcheted up significantly, and I was huffing and puffing by the time we crested the last hill and popped out near M Street. At about 90 minutes, Ben finally parted ways with Team MJ, and Jilane and I caught our breath along the downhill stretch on Connecticut before following it to Rock Creek. I'm not gonna lie, the last ~20 minutes were pretty brutal, and there was some talk of walking up the final uphill on Connecticut, but in the spirit of Team MJ we rallied and finished up the run with our pride intact. All in all, I can't think of a better way to hit up almost all the sites in the District while burning a few cals.

Chef Brooke's feast...it almost (but not quite) looked too good to eat

The morning kept getting better when we arrived back to Jilane's and discovered that Brooke had cooked up a brunch-tastic feast in our absence. I'm talking eggs, bacon, pancakes, hash browns, biscuits, coffee, fruit and pretty much anything else you could ever want to eat after a long run. The danger of a food coma immediately following this binge session was very real, but fortunately the group rallied and decided to embark on a Mall sightseeing tour for the benefit of Brooke and Jaclyn, our DC newbies. I don't know if the subsequent three hours on my feet will help or hinder recovery from this morning's effort, but I do know that the weather was beautiful and the company was fantastic and there was nowhere else I'd rather be on a Saturday afternoon.

Four of the loveliest ladies on the Mall. Photo courtesy of our handicapped bodyguard.

Friday, March 6, 2009

A Beautiful Night in the District

AM: 25 mins. pool
PM: 46 mins.
6+ miles

After 6+ hours in the car with Jeffrey today, we arrived in the District and at Jilane's place of employment, the NFL Players Assocation. Jeff kicked me out at the curb so he could pursue some shenanigans, which meant I got to enjoy a glorious reunion with the better half of Team MJ. After she wrapped up a few things at work, we changed into our running costumes and headed downstairs to meet the rest of our crew: Ben Stern, George McArdle and Chris Rigali, a former Brown teammate of Jeff and Jilane and Jordan. It was an absolutely gorgeous evening and we decided that a spin around the Mall and the Tidal Basin was in order.

The Tidal Basin at sunset

Despite some stops and starts due to crossing busy streets during rush hour traffic, the run was fantastic. I'm a bit sore/tight from yesterday's workout combined with today's car trip, but the easy miles this evening did just the trick. That plus the stunning scenery and free-flowing conversation made for a thoroughly enjoyable jog, and I'm pretty stoked to be spending the rest of this weekend in DC.

One of many scenic views during tonight's run

Things just got better after we returned to the PA, as our friend Rich stopped by with Brooke in tow to pick us up and deliver us back to Jilane's. After a quick round of showers, my two besties and I headed out for an amazing dinner at Sushi Sushi. The three of us were absolutely ravenous and proceeded to down an entire school of fish in a matter of minutes. After dinner we headed back to Jilane's apartment just in time to present her with a special birthday surprise: Jeff flew Jilane's sister Jaclyn in for the weekend! As predicted, Jilane was appropriately shocked and overwhelmed and blubbered like a schoolgirl for at least ten minutes. So far the weekend is off to an amazing start.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Great Workout, Crappy Title

AM: 4 miles
PM: 10 mins. active stretching
2 mile w/u + strides
Target: 12x800 @2:50-2:52 w/2 min.rest (hammer #11)
Actual: 2:50, 2:48, 2:50, 2:48, 2:47, 2:47, 2:46, 2:46, 2:45, 2:45, 2:38, 2:40
1.5 mile c/d
Total: 9.5 miles

Before I get into the details, the basic take-home message is that this was unequivocally my best track workout since coming to Queens.
Looking back at my most recent 800 workout, which took place almost eight weeks ago in Atlanta, my progression both in endurance and speed is apparent. One could argue that says more about those previous workouts than it does about this one, but nonetheless I'm pretty excited about where my fitness is now and where it can be later this spring.

As for today's effort, Jess and I were fortunate to have an absolutely gorgeous day to work out. I'm talking temps in the low 60s, plenty of sunshine, low humidity and a slight breeze. Perfection. Add Coach G-Unit calling out splits and Blake shouting encouragement (he opted to do his 8-mile recovery run entirely on the infield at Johnson C. Smith; don't ask me why), and you have all the pieces in place for a terrific afternoon jaunt.

From the outset I could tell things were going to go well, mostly because running 2:48-2:50 felt so easy. I honestly felt like I was jogging for the first 4 or 5; I kept waiting for my legs to suddenly absorb the fatigue of all the previous intervals, but that never really happened. It definitely helped that Jess was also having a great effort, and that Jeff was visibly excited about how things were progressing. I threw on my spikes for the last two and made a conscious attempt to open up my stride while still keeping things under control. I was originally only supposed to "hammer" the 11th one, but when I went through the 400 on #12 in 81 I decided to see if I could bring it home in 2:40. I was definitely fatigued afterward, but honestly I think I could've done a few more in the 2:43-45 range if I'd had to.

As I type this, it's 10pm and I have yet to pack a single item for my 9-day, 3-city tour that commences tomorrow morning. I should probably get on that. Tomorrow evening's recovery run will be with one of my favorite people in one of my favorite cities...can't wait!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Nothing But Blue Skies

AM: 4 miles
PM: 62 mins. + 6x30m strides
8+ miles

Today was an absolutely gorgeous day, with a hint of spring on the horizon. I must admit, it was a little strange to watch the weather forecast and see mid-70s on tap for the weekend while we still have traces of snow on the ground outside, but I'm all for it. Just a few more days of studying and homework before kicking off what promises to be a fantastic spring break...I would be lying if I claimed I wasn't getting antsy. My legs are still a bit heavy from Monday evening's long run, but Jess and I kept the pace relaxed on our afternoon jog and I felt better at its end. Other than some residual (one might say chronic) hamstring tightness I've got no complaints.

On a bittersweet note, I received several very thoughtful messages from friends and former Brooks coworkers today who were embarking on a trip to Seattle for Guru Symposium. Including our bi-annual sales meetings and these types of training meetings, we typically made the trek out west 3-4 times per year, and this marked the first time I was absent. These kiddos are some of my best friends, and a part of me wishes I could be there as well. Here's to hoping they have a great time--but not too great--without me.

Group photo from my very first symposium, Feb. 2007. Great times with great people.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Mid-Week Recovery

AM: 15 mins. core
25 mins. pool
PM: 60 mins.
8 miles

There's not much to say about today except that it was much less eventful than yesterday. Which, given the way yesterday's events played out, is probably for the best. The only occurrence of note is that Blake finally talked his way onto a flight, which meant I had the pleasure of picking him up from the airport and enjoying a delicious dining hall lunch with him and Jeffrey (and a late-night "Tool Academy" bonding session). It's always great to see this goofy kid and I'm happy to have him in town for the rest of the week.

This afternoon's run with Jess at McAlpine was cold, slow and executed with very heavy legs. Glad I have another recovery day on tap tomorrow before Thursday's 12x800.

Monday, March 2, 2009

"We Gotta Get Outta Here. I Think I Just Broke That Kid's Nose."

2 mile w/u
Target: 4 miles @6:50, 800m jog; 3 miles @6:40, 800m jog; 2 miles @6:30, 800m jog; 1 mile @6:20
Actual: Pretty much the above
1.5 mile c/d

Total: 15 miles

A snowy view of Queens Road West from my balcony

Wow. I don't even know where to start with today's post. Trust me, my run was the least interesting part. Basically I did 15 miles hard at McAlpine. The end.

Now here's what really went down. Names have been changed to protect the innocent (and the guilty). So, around noon today I was riding to the dining hall with my friends Donya, Schmave and Zeff in Zeff's truck when a group of teenage hooligans made the unfortunate mistake of hurling a few densely packed snowballs at our passing vehicle. A few of them managed to land a glancing blow or two, but one of the projectiles really connected. Before the rest of us even had an opportunity to process what was going on, Zeff slammed on the brakes, sw
erved over to the side of the road (after putting on his turn signal, what courtesy) and unceremoniously threw the car into "park." With the parting words of "I'll meet you guys at the dining hall," he was bipedal and en route to chasing after the kiddies.

This is basically what we were dealing with today.

Except, not so much "chasing" because he has a boot on his foot right now due to a recent surgery. So while the little brats were scurrying in every direction, Zeff was slowly and methodically hunting them down. The only visual I can liken it to is that of the crazed sociopath played by Javier Bardem in the movie "No Country For Old Men." About 2/3 of the way through the movie he gets shot in the leg during a particularly heated gun battle, then bandages the wound and proceeds with his maniacal killing spree while dragging the injured leg behind him. Unfortunately for the kiddos today, this situation didn't end too differently than it did for the ill-fated movie characters.

Back to the real-life scene: the three of us were still sitting in the truck, somewhat stunned and a bit apprehensive about what is about to transpire. The two delinquents Zeff was stalking scurried off to hide behind what was presumably their house, and Zeff followed them to presumably rat them out to their parents...or so we thought. All I know is, by the time Schmave slid over into the driver's seat and flipped a U to pick up our angry friend, there was no one in sight. As we slowly cruised down the street, we saw Zeff walking/hobbling toward us and quickly picked him up. That was the moment he uttered the words that will live in infamy (and probably in the court reporter's transcript) forever: "We gotta get outta here. I think I just broke that kid's nose."

Needless to say, we skedaddled out of there pretty quickly. According to Zeff's version of events, apparently one of the culprits made the mistake of answering in the affirmative to the fairly rhetorical question, "So you think it's funny to throw snowballs at people's trucks?" Big mistake, little dude. Suffice it to say I'm certain this is a decision he won't make again. Also suffice it to say I'm going to try my hardest not to provoke Zeff's wrath any time soon.

Like I said at the beginning, my run was quite tame by comparison.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Week in Review

80 miles
25 400s
5 dining hall meals
3 rainy days
1 midterm exam

Even though this morning's long run didn't materialize, I still concluded the week with positive feelings about what I've accomplished. Tuesday's workout was definitely the highlight (while Friday's could arguably be considered the lowlight), and it was great to bump my mileage up to a respectable amount while still maintaining all the "extras" like massage, pool, core, etc. If I can string together another couple of weeks like this, I should perform well in my 10k outdoor debut at the first Stanford meet.

Also, can I please say that I'm pretty freaking excited about the next few weeks from a non-running standpoint as well. My BFF Blake flies in tomorrow (Boston blizzard permitting) and will be in town for the whole week, which should make for some great wholesome family fun. Then on Friday, Jeffrey and I will make the trek to DC (didn't we just do this?) to celebrate a birthday extravaganza with my besties Brooke and Jilane, as well as a solid supporting cast including but not limited to Owen, Richie Rich, JPDC, KP, B. Stern and others. I cannot WAIT to see these crazy kids and, more importantly, to snuggle up in a J-M-B sandwich. Then on Sunday night I'm leaving on a jet plane for everyone's favorite spring break destination (Oklahoma, obviously) to spend the week with a lucky gentleman friend. Honestly, this is almost too much excitement for me to handle. I think I need a nap.

The Best Laid Plans

AM: 15 mins. core
63 mins.
8.5 miles
PM: 31 mins.
4 miles

I woke up this morning to the dismal sight of pouring rain. While this wasn't entirely different than what I've been dealing with since, oh, Friday, this was significant because 1. it was hovering around 32 degrees, and 2. a quick check of the weather showed that we were supposed to receive 4-6 inches of snow by nightfall. Naturally, my first thought was about how this was going to impact my running. Pretty much everyone on the team had a long run of sorts on tap for the morning, and Jess and I in particular had a fairly difficult workout incorporated into our 14-mile efforts. As the last two days have shown, I have no problem with running in the rain (turns out I don't melt after all), but freezing temps and rain is another story. Add to that the certainty that, sight unseen, McAlpine was undoubtedly flooded--the park has seen knee-high water after fewer hours of rain than we've experienced the past few days--and the prospects of this morning's long run seemed, well, unlikely.

After a few minutes back and forth on the phone with Jeffrey, we decided to scrap the idea of a long run and/or a workout for the day and instead opted for two easy doubles around campus. If worst came to worst I could use the t-mill in the campus fitness center, but after speaking with Jess we decided to take advantage of a break in the weather around 10am and put in a few miles on the roads. Remarkably, the rain ceased falling for most of our hour-long jaunt, but the blustery wind and ubiquitous standing puddles made for an effort not unlike a steeplechase. I suppose I can't complain, as the deluge really started coming down once we were back indoors and proceeded to worsen for the rest of the afternoon. Am I the only one who realizes that it's March? Isn't winter in the south supposed to be over by now?? Sigh.

On a positive note, I gotta give a shout out to my girl Aja for winning the 5k at Cowtown in my home state yesterday. Also, props to Blake and Mike for running solid races at US Indoors yesterday. The only collegian in the field, Mike boldly led the race early on before finishing 11th, while Blake hung on for a 6th place finish. Whether either of them will be able to fly home from a snow-covered Boston is an entirely different story, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.