Sunday, May 31, 2009

Week in Review

72 miles
4 different states (OK, TX, KY, OH)
16 mile long run
1 high school graduation (700 students)

Another great week of training capped off with a nice change of scenery. Our goal race will be here in exactly two weeks, and for the first time since my injury I'm actually feeling (relatively) fit and (relatively) confident. Now it's just a matter of getting in a few more quality workouts and fine-tuning things until the 13th.

Mason Long Run

120 mins.
16 miles

Today's run was so relaxed and enjoyable that it almost seems like cheating to give myself credit for 16 miles. After a delicious morning of sleeping in, drinking coffee and otherwise lounging around the house, we joined up with Jordan's uncle Dave around noon to begin this jau
nt. Normally I wouldn't even consider starting a long run at high noon during the summer, but it was such a gorgeous day--sunny, warm but not hot, low humidity--that there was simply no better way to spend the afternoon.

Dave acted as our tour guide for the first half of the run, and he did a fantastic job pointing out all the sights (and sites) of Mason and sharing interesting anecdotes along the way. The pace was unhurried and the weather conditions were still quite pleasant, so the first hour of the run passed almost before I realized it. We marked the halfway point by stopping back at the park where Tyler and Madison had played their games the day before, planning to take in a few minutes of Madison's game that was going on
during our run. Even though I didn't really need a break, it was fun to stop for a few minutes to watch the kiddos and grab a drink and lollipop from Eloisa.

From there we detoured back to the house to drop Dave off. To be fair, he had already consumed three beers and played four hours of golf before meeting us, so we decided to let him bow out at 11 miles while we pressed on. We dropped the pace slightly for the remainder of the run but still kept things comfortable, opting to loop around the neighborhood park and bike path a few times. Once we popped back into the neighborhood at 14 I could tell Jordan was itching to pick up the pace, so I encouraged him to go for it while I jogged in the last two miles at a slower clip. I'm pretty sure this is the longest run I've done since the epic 16-mile DC tou
r with Jilane and Ben almost three months ago, but thanks to the relaxed pace my legs still felt decent at the end.

The rest of the afternoon was spent lounging poolside and prepping for Whitney's graduation ceremony, which took place at Xavier University in Cincinnati. After she successfully received her diploma we adjourned to PF Chang's for some much-needed food and drink. All in all this was pretty much a
perfect Sunday.

The new graduate with her big bro and little sis Madison (Jilane's new bff)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Welcome To Ohio

45 mins.
6 miles

So 24 hours later, we've traveled to three more states. These states include Texas, where we drove after work last night because we had to catch a flight from DFW this morning; Kentucky, which is actually where the Cincinnati airport is located (possibly the only airport located in another state than its name? Could be a good trivia question/answer); and finally Ohio, where we are visiting until Wednesday for Jordan's sister Whitney's high school graduation.

After dropping our stuff off at the house and getting settled, we set off for Jordan's youngest brother's and sister's baseball games. Actually, correction: Jordan went straight to the game, while Whitney and I headed to Chick-Fil-A for a tasty lunch. Jordan had said we would run sometime during the baseball games, but I didn't quite realize that "sometime" meant "approximately 10 minutes after you get back from stuffing your face with waffle fries." So, while I was hoping to relax for a bit upon finishing my meal, Jordan was practically lacing up his shoes by the time Whitney and I got back to the park. Awesome.

So, do you want the good news or the bad news? Ok, good news: by looping around the grass fields surrounding the baseball and soccer games, we managed to stay on soft surfaces for over half this run. Bad news: upon leaving the grass fields and starting the run back home, I may have had to stop and dry heave once or twice. I basically felt nauseous on the entire run. Which was unfortunate, because otherwise I would've totally enjoyed the balmy weather and the change of scenery. Good thing we'll be here for a few more days.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Predator Run, Sort Of

22 min. w/u (~3 miles)
Target: 8 mile PTR, 6:40 down to 6:10
Actual: 51:35 (~6:26 pace)
18 mile c/d (2+ miles)
Total: 13-13.5 miles

Today's workout was a predator run, which is a Simmons/Jeff staple that basically means you start out at a comfortable clip and gradually squeeze down the pace so that you finish faster than you started. In theory it is a grand idea. In execution it is sometimes hit or miss, as mine was today.

As per usual, Jordan and I set out from Main St. with the plan to meet Scotty D. somewhere along Pickard. We'd spent considerable time the night before strategizing our route for this workout, and had come up with what we thought was a simple yet effective plan: two big "loops" around the Timberdell/Jenkins/Imhoff/Pickard grid (each roughly 2.5 miles), then two smaller loops around the Timberdell/Chatauqua/Imhoff/Pickard grid (1.5 miles each). When Jordan uploads his Garmin map this will make much more sense, but for now just go with me.

Since the boys had the Garmin and more familiarity with the streets, they would have a much easier time finding mile markers than me. As it was, I knew roughly where miles 2, 5 and 6 were but that's about it. Not ideal when you're trying to cut down each mile, but it would have to do. At the outset, my plan was to go out very conservatively and to cruise through the 2-mile marker right on 6:40 pace, or around 13:20. Naturally, I came through at 12:41. Oops. So my "predator" run quickly turned into a reverse (prey?) run as I consciously slowed down the next loop to make sure the wheels didn't fall off too horribly.

Although my first plan of starting off conservatively fell through, I was hoping to succeed with my revised objective of staying comfortable through five miles. This worked out fairly well, and I even felt decent through six, but the last two were quite an effort. When I made the final turn onto Pickard for my last ~1/2 mile, I was greeted by Jordan (who of course had been finished with his own 8-mile workout for probably 10 minutes). He was waiting to help me through the end of the workout, which I appreciated, as I certainly wouldn't have pushed as hard as I did along that stretch without his help.

All in all, I'm pleased with the final result of this workout, but wish I could've been better in the execution. Running the first two miles so quickly definitely screwed up the objective for my run, but at least I was able to hold it together and close with a respectable effort.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sutton Woods Recovery

59 mins.
8 miles

Scotty, Jordan and I enjoyed an easy run from Main St. to Sutton Woods this morning. Today is the coolest day of the week thus far, and I have to say this was probably my most enjoyable run of the week thus far as well. Comfortable pace, soft surfaces, shade, cooler temps, little wind. Can't really ask for much more.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Windy Wednesday

72 mins.
10.5 miles
Wind: 14mph gusting at 23mph

Like last week, in keeping with our new "quality over quantity" mantra, today's recovery run involved an uptempo second half. Also like last week, Jordan joined me for my uptempo section as his warmup before embarking on his own faster effort, this time with Scotty in tow.

You may have noticed that I included the wind speed up top for the first time in a while. That's because, believe it or not, the wind hasn't been much of a factor the past week. However, you can see that was unfortunately not the case today. Whether it was due to the wind or to my residual fatigue from yesterday, I struggled much more in the latter miles than I did last week. Without Scotty and Jordan pulling me along I'm certain I would've called it quits and wogged home after the 4th mile. Instead, thanks to their assistance I was able to hunker down and grind out splits of 6:32, 6:23, 6:28, 6:27, 6:25.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Norman High Solo Workout

2 mile w/u
Target: 4x1.5 miles @6:05-6:15 w/2 min. rest
Actual: 9:05 (6:03 through mile), 9:08 (6:03), 9:10 (6:05), 9:02 (6:03)
1.5 mile c/d
Total: 9.5 miles

After a very restless night of sleep, exacerbated by several trains, a thunderstorm and some bizarre dreams, I awoke to our 6:45 alarm feeling slightly less than rested. Nothing appealed to me less than putting on the kicks and hitting the track a mere 30 minutes later, so I sent Jordan off to meet Scotty and immediately fell into a deep slumber. I didn't stir again until several hours later after Jordan had already returned and taken a shower, and I instantly felt a hundred times more rested than earlier in the morning. Definitely made the right choice by sleeping in. Unfortunately, this meant that I would have to bang out the workout solo after dropping Jordan off at work. So, if you happened to have been driving by Norman High School sometime between 10:30 and noon, you would've found me tearing up the track. Or something like that.

Kidding aside, this workout went pretty well. To be honest, I was thinking/hoping I could hit the miles right around 6 flat despite the paces Jeff had prescribed for me, and I believe that had the air not been fraught with moisture due to the morning's rains I would've been able to do so. It's just so hard to breathe when it's this humid, but what can you do...that's summer around here. Might as well get used to it. I consciously backed off a touch on the third interval because my breathing felt a bit ragged after #2, and the last thing I wanted was to finish off the workout via a death march. Looking at how the final interval played out, I'm glad I did.

Not much else to add here except that I was pleased to finish fastest on my last interval, and that I'm quite sure my legs will be fatigued tomorrow. This was a toughie.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Merriment

AM: 61 mins.
8+ miles
PM: 90 mins. tennis domination

For a day that started out with hardly anything on the agenda, our Memorial Day turned into quite an enjoyable affair. Jordan and I slept in and lounged for a bit before fielding a call from Scotty requesting a run. He swung over to Main Street and the three of us set off toward Sutton Woods, the 1.5-mile sh
aded trail loop about two miles from our place. Remarkably, this was my first time over there since arriving in Norman, and I was immediately reminded of why I enjoy it so much: plenty of tree cover and soft surfaces throughout. However, I was dragging a bit despite the relaxed pace, no doubt fatigued from the past week's efforts. By the time we finished our loops and popped back onto the streets I was hot and tired. So, naturally, I suggested we detour past the Andrews Park "Splashpad" (finally turned on for the summer) to cool off for a few minutes.

It. Was. Awesome.

Upon returning home, we spent the rest of the morning watching virtual no-name Wesley Korir rack up $189k at the LA Marathon and enjoying a sumptuous brunch of apple-streusal waffles, eggs and potatoes. The food was clearly the highlight of the morning for me, but watching the former Louisville runner win the race of his life was certainly more inspiring.

Less than an hour later, Jordan and Scotty were chomping at the bit to get out onto the tennis courts, so we embarked on an unprecedented third consecutive day of play. After an extended warm-up period which included various combinations of 2-on-1, the boys suggested we play a series of 1-on-1 games, winner stays on the court. Because I am a lady and not one to gloat, I will spare you all the gory details. However let's just say that an hour later I was standing undefeated at 10 games to 0, having bested both Jordan and Scotty in 5 games apiece, before nobly stepping aside and allowing the two losers to play each other for a bit. To say that it was my crowning athletic achievement of 2009 is both sad and true.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Week in Review

70-71 miles
3 soft surface runs
<25 drunk dials from Campus Dance (laaaame)
2 nights at Benvenuti's and Blu
1 jug of apple juice

Looking back on this week, I'm pretty excited about how everything went. The schedule is much more intense than anything I've done recently: workout Tuesday, tempo-ish run Wednesday, double Thursday, tempo Friday and long run Sunday. Definitely more quality and less "filler" miles than I'm used to doing, and it's always nice to crack the 70 mark without having to throw in too many doubles. The weather has definitely taken a turn, however, and I'm afraid the past week's unseasonably mild temperatures are about to be a thing of the past. Oh well, it was going to happen sooner or later. Summer training in the south is no fun for anyone, but it will definitely help me prepare for the half-marathon next month and for the early part of XC season in the fall.

Also, I can't close out the Weekly Review without throwing out some HUGE props to Mike AND Tanya for both capturing individual titles at D2 Nationals. Tanya kicked some serious butt in the 10k and Mike held it down in the 1500, despite naysayers who asserted he'd made a "big mistake" by not focusing on the 5k. I couldn't be more proud of my teammates (and roommate) and am thrilled for their accomplishments. More importantly, since the three of us are sharing a storage unit this summer, I'm hoping their belongings will rub off on mine and somehow facilitate me winning a title next year. Nothing wrong with dreaming big.

Lake Draper Long Run

AM: 88 mins.
12 miles
PM: 60 mins. tennis

So, sometime last night while Jordan and I were enjoying Pinot on the Patio at Benvenuti's with Coleman and Kristi (or maybe it was later at Blu...who can remember really), I might have mentioned (read: begged) to Kristi that I would love some company for a girl-paced long run on Sunday. Much to my surprise and delight, she needed little convincing, provided we could find some soft surfaces for the outing and that we didn't start too early in the morning. Since Jordan and I were hoping to get out to the dirt roads around Draper anyway, this was a perfect plan.

Fast forward to 10am Sunday, when our group rendezvoused at the lake plus one member (Scotty, obviously). Even Coleman, who's been battling injury since Jesus was a small boy, was up for a few miles. Kristi and I fell into a comfortable early pace, not caring that the boys passed us up less than a mile in, and soon were engaged in conversation. I enjoyed the company enough to almost not notice that we were running uphill the entire way out, or that the heat and humidity were rising markedly. However, by the time we popped out at a paved road crossing near six miles, it became obvious that with no water or shade neither of us were going to enjoy running the 14 miles that my schedule dictated. Since I was already over mileage for the week I was game for turning around early, so we flipped a U a few minutes later and headed back.

Now, while the run up to this point had been nothing if not pleasant, I'm not going to lie: the last 30 minutes were pretty tough. Simply put, we were hot and thirsty. At one point we stopped to "stretch" and ended up practically wading into the lake to splash water on our dirt-caked bodies. We may or may not have enjoyed a few much-needed gulps of Gatorade when we stumbled upon Scotty's water bottle a few miles from the finish; without it we would've all but resorted to Gallowalking the rest of the way in. I was supremely grateful for Kristi's company on this run and hope she'll join me for a few more jaunts this summer.

Oh, and my apple juice cravings from last summer have returned full force. I drank almost an entire half-gallon today after the run and I have never tasted a sweeter nectar.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Easy Run on the GT

AM: 45 mins.
6 miles
PM: 30 mins. tennis

For the first time in several weeks, I did this morning's run completely solo. It felt strange to be out there without Jordan or even Scotty, but they'd taken an early morning trip up to a local marathon to help pace a buddy through the final 6-8 miles of his run. Since I knew that I wouldn't be running their pace and I wanted to sleep in for a change, I slept blissfully through Jordan's 7am departure and didn't stir again until almost 9. Heaven.

Wanting to be on some softer surfaces for the second time this week (the first being on the OU rec fields during Thursday's outing), I headed up to the grass track for some easy loops. With hardly any wind to speak of, it was an ideal morning to be out there, and my body was supremely grateful for a reprieve from the pavement. There's talk of taking the long run out to Lake Draper tomorrow, which means more soft surfaces, so we'll keep our fingers crossed that it doesn't rain tonight and spoil our plans.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Tempoing the Streets of Norman

26 min. w/u (3.5 miles)
Target: 6 mile tempo @6:15-6:25
Actual: 37:34 (6:15 avg.; splits 18:46/18:48)
20 min. c/d (2.5 miles)
Total: 12 miles

Given the intensity of this week's training, today's tempo run went much better than I expected. My expectations were also low because summer seems to have arrived in full force today, bringing the heat and humidity that's more typical of May in the South than the weather we've had the past week or so. Jordan and I were out the door by 7:30 and already soaked a few miles into the warmup. We met Scotty at the corner of Pickard and Lindsey and planned to do two loops--rectangles, really--of a course they'd run before. It consisted of basically a mile straight down Pickard, a left on Imhoff for .75, a left on Jenkins for .5, a left on Timberdell for .75, and repeat.

Since Jordan and Scotty were obviously running much faster than me, this meant I wouldn't have the aid of Jordan's Garmin. I would know where the halfway point/3-mile marker was, but that's about it. Not very reassuring when your pacing skills aren't quite up to par. Jordan had the idea of running the first half mile with me to help me find the pace, which I thought was a grand idea. Apparently my pacing skills were even worse off than I thought; we set off at what I thought was 6:25-ish pace only to have Jordan tell me "Good job, you're on 6:09 pace" as he let me go. Oops. I made the turn onto Imhoff feeling comfortable, but was tested pretty much immediately since the street is gradually uphill for the entire .75. After a bit of weaving on and off the sidewalk and dodging traffic on Jenkins, I made the turn down Timberdell and came through the half comfortably just over 18:45.

The second loop was considerably tougher, but I was pleased with how well I held it together. I definitely struggled going up Imhoff this time but knew I was on the home stretch once I made the turn onto Jenkins. Scotty, who finished his workout a bit before Jordan, was waiting for me at the intersection of Pickard and Timberdell and pulled me through the final half mile. Much thanks for the assistance.

As I said up top, all in all I'm pleased with this effort and with how my fitness is coming along. This week's workouts have been huge for me both in terms of fitness gains and confidence. Now I'm looking forward to a relaxing holiday weekend and hopefully a game or two of tennis.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Finally Throwing Down a Double

AM: 62 mins.
~8.5 miles
PM: 38 mins. incl. 2x10 sec. hill sprints
5 miles

Eaaaasy running.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

An Eventful Morning

15 mins. core
72 mins. (10.5 miles)

According to Jeff's training schedule, the main purpose behind having so few double days is so we can go hard more frequently. So, instead of having a standard post-workout recovery day, Jordan and I both had ten mile runs on tap with the last five miles at an uptempo pace. For me, Jeff set this pace around 6:30, which I figured would be difficult but doable. Since Jordan's tempo pace is obviously much faster, he suggested that I run the first 4-5 miles solo, then pick him up so he could pace me on my uptempo portion (which would be his "easy" portion) before finishing off his final five miles solo. I thought this was a grand idea, especially since he had a Garmin and knew a route already, so after 30 minutes of running I swung by Main Street and picked him up.

Immediately upon starting the uptempo section I could tell my legs were feeling good. Like, unusually good, especially for having done a fairly intense workout the day before. I'd told Jordan we could go through the first mile in 6:45 or so before finding the pace, but to my pleasant surprise we clicked off a 6:34 from the gun. The following miles came in at 6:30, 6:27, 6:28 and 6:25. When we turned onto Jenkins for the fourth mile I was itching to cut the pace down closer to 6:20, but the combination of having to run a section on some uneven grass and an ill-timed crossing at a major intersection slowed things considerably. That said, I was surprised--shocked, really--at how easy this felt, as I only truly labored on the final half mile.

Soon thereafter Jordan and I parted ways, and I cooled down the rest of the way home while he continued his workout. We also had some excitement after the run was over. To avoid stealing Jordan's thunder I will simply link you to his blog to tell the story.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ladder Workout

2 mile w/u
Target: 400 (82), 800 (2:50), 1200* (4:15), 1600 (6:00), 1600 (6:00), 1200 (4:15), 800 (2:50), 400 (82)
all w/60 sec. rest
*found out post-workout that the 1200 split was a typo and should've been a few seconds slower than 4:15
Actual: 78, 2:51, 4:17, 5:55, 5:54, 4:18, 2:49, 79
10 min. c/d (1+ miles)
Total: ~8.5 miles

I'm extremely pleased with how this workout went today. The splits didn't look too daunting on paper, but the rather perfunctory rest intervals didn't seem like they would provide ample recovery. In fact, as we were jogging over to Norman High this morning, I told Jordan that I might have to take a longer rest on the way back down the ladder if it looked like I was going to fall too far off the pace. Fortunately that didn't end up happening, which is what I'm most happy about.

As always, it was great to have Jordan and Scotty along for the ride. Jordan had the same workout on tap and Scotty agreed to jump in and out of his intervals, which meant that while neither of them were running with me they were still cutting shapes at the same time. If I can't have someone literally matching me stride for stride, this is the next best thing.

I wish I would've known going into the workout that 4:15 wasn't right, because I felt a bit discouraged about missing both those splits. However, the two 1600s felt absolutely great, completely relaxed and fluid. I might not have been jogging but I certainly wasn't struggling, and I felt like those two intervals served as more recovery between the shorter, faster ones. Good to know I'm able to dip below 6-minute pace again without laboring. All in all I felt like this was a huge step in the right direction.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Monday from Main St.

15 mins. core
59 mins.
8 miles

We started off this run super slow today, which I was grateful for after yesterday's long run and Wimbledon-esque effort. Scotty met us on Main Street for the second half of his run, so we spent our first 30 minutes meandering back to his house. We took a spin through campus, which was pretty quiet several days post-graduation, then headed back to Scotty's place.

Jordan and I picked the pace up a bit on the return trip, and I was surprised that my leggies felt as decent as they did considering yesterday's aforementioned activity. I can definitely tell I'm getting stronger, which is a very encouraging feeling. If I can just string together a respectable track workout tomorrow I'll truly feel like I'm on the upswing.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Week in Review

61 miles (!!)
7 days of running
5 states (AL, MS, TN, AR, OK)
1 hailstorm
2 tornadoes

This is definitely the first week in several months that I can look back on my training and say I felt like a real runner. It's an encouraging feeling, and I can't wait to continue to build upon this over the coming weeks. Having a goal race in mind definitely gives me some focus, so although I'm bummed about missing Nationals I'm going to keep on keepin' on. Having Jordan, Scotty and a few others to run with daily will certainly keep motivation (and accountability) high, which I'm grateful for. Things are looking up.

OKC River Trail & Other Shenanigans

AM: 89 mins.
~12.5 miles
Wind: 13-15mph
PM: 60 mins. tennis

Scotty, Jordan and I were out the door and on the road early this morning for a field trip. Instead of
hitting up the roads around Norman, we opted to venture up to the city for some new turf. Our decision was largely aided by the fact that Lake Draper, our preferred soft surface option, was still wet from the recent rain, and also that there was an international-distance (whatever that means) triathlon taking place in the city. We were hoping to spectate for a bit and let the competitive buzz carry us through our run.

The boathouse, where all the action happened

The drive took at most 20 minutes, and before I knew it we were parked at the Bass Pro Shop just a few hundred meters away from the triathlon start...or so we thought. Turns out those meters were "as the crow flies" or, in our case, "as the cyclists ride," but we were forced to take a rather roundabout route to circumnavigate both the interstate on-ramp and the influx of competitors barreling through on two wheels. As a result, almost four miles of the run had passed by the time we made it to the boathouse. This is where all the action was, so we hung out for a few minutes to observe. After that we headed out on the nearby river trail (no idea which river), which I'd never run on before, so even though the bike path was paved it was still a nice diversion from our typical routes.

A section of the bike path along the river

Oh, and I can't believe I forgot to mention this, but the air temperature was--dare I say--bordering on COLD this morning! As in, a few clicks under 50 degrees when we woke up. Definitely not the norm for mid-May and not what we were expecting, but it sure was a pleasant treat. As a result, the entirety of our run took place under sunny skies and pleasant temperatures. It was so nice that I didn't even complain when the wind nearly blew me backwards on the return trip, or when I got dropped by the boys halfway through the run.

By the time our morning of running and spectating was over, our party consisted of four hungry athletes (did I mention Carrot Top joined us? Yeah, he did. I could add that at the top of the blog but I'm lazy.). Though one would expect our options in downtown OKC to be plentiful, we opted to go for the sure thing and patronized the IHOP a few blocks over. Dad, I know your eyes are welling with tears of pride as you read this.

Not wanting the amazingly gorgeous day to go to waste, Jordan and I suited up again in the afternoon and headed back over to the park for some tennis action. While we're still far from stellar--hell, we're not even adequate at this point--we both agreed that our quality of play was markedly increased from the previous day (which coincided with a decrease in our quantity of shouted obscenities). After two days in a row of this foreign mode of exercise, it's almost guaranteed I'll be unable to walk tomorrow.

Oh, and have I mentioned it was a gorgeous day? What a perfect end to the weekend, and a great beginning to the summer.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Back in the Swing of Things

AM: 6 miles
PM: 45 mins. tennis

True to our word, we decided to take advantage of an easy single-run day to smack a few balls around on the courts. Given that neither of us have played since the last time we played together, which was, oh, about 11 months ago, let's just say things were pretty ugly at the outset. That said, we've made the commitment to play twice a week this summer in hopes of regaining some semblance of our former racquet-wielding prowess.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Norman High Track Workout

18 min. w/u (2.5 miles)
Target: (800 @3:00, 200 jog, 300 @55-58, 300 jog)x5
Actual: 26:40 for 4 miles; 800s @2:53, 2:55, 2:57, 2:57; 300s @60, 61, 62, 61
2 mile c/d
Total: 8.5 miles
Wind: 13-15mph

The workout we had on tap today was sort of an interval session within a longer run, giving it the feel of an extended fartlek or a disjointed tempo. Jordan had the same effort planned (obviously at a much faster pace), so we decided to jog over to Norman High before work this morning and get 'er done.

Though we arrived at the track just after 8:30, it was already quite warm and sunny out. It was also fairly breezy, particularly through the turn preceding the home stretch. I've decided that since I now reside in what has to be the windiest city in America, I'm going to start noting the wind speed and direction when possible along with the rest of my daily stats. That way I can have a convenient excuse at the ready whenever I bomb something.

For me, the workout today was a mixed bag. My times are certainly indicative of what I need to work on, as I breezed through the majority of the 800s but floundered miserably on the 300s. Because of the way the intervals were set up, the first 100 meters of each 300 was run directly into the wind, which didn't exactly facilitate me breaking any land speed records. The wind and the heat wore me down enough that I opted to stop after four controlled sets rather than flailing through the fifth one, but in hindsight I should've probably just slugged it out. It definitely helped having Jordan on the track with me, and even though we weren't exactly running together I still felt energized by his presence.

One positive that I'm taking away from this is I felt a hundred times more relaxed and natural than the track workout I did last week in Charlotte. I still don't have any speed in my legs, but at least today I felt like an actual runner out there instead of a clumsy, awkward imposter. At this point i've got to just keep plugging along and hoping things will fall into place sooner than later.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Reason to Live

59 mins.
8 miles

After chatting with Jeff today, it looks like I have one more race on the agenda before taking a bit of a summer break: the Boomtown Days Half Marathon in Joplin, MO on June 13th. I found out about this race purely by coincidence; my mom met the race director at a hospital in Joplin while she was visiting my grandpa after a recent surgery. My grandparents have lived there for the past 10-15 years, so I've spent my fair share of holidays and "vacations" in the "Show Me State." The race offers a pretty sweet cash breakdown of $1000/$600/$400, which of course I cannot partake of, but that's where Jordan comes in. He will also be training for this event and hopefully pocketing some sweet moolah for his troubles. Though I won't be eligible for any prize money, I'm excited about putting in a fairly intense training block for the next five weeks and (hopefully) notching a respectable time in the race.

That said, we have our first workout on tap tomorrow after an easy single run today. It looks like neither Jordan nor I will have many double runs during this training block, which leaves us feeling somewhat lazy, but we're planning to fill our evenings with other activities like tennis and drinking.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

High Five

AM: 38 mins.
5 miles
PM: 29 mins.
4 miles

A quick look outside this morning told us that the sustained winds of 25 mph gusting 30-35 meant that we would keep things short and sweet on the run. As we neared four miles we made the executive decision to extend it to five...for me, five sounds legit whereas four is pretty lame. Like I was telling Jordan, if I ran five miles in the morning and then for whatever reason couldn't run in the evening I would still feel like a successful human being. On the other hand, if I'd only done four, I definitely wouldn't feel quite as pleased with myself. So yeah, we did five.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

First Norman Run

AM: 44 mins.
6-6.5 miles
PM: 28 mins.
3.5-4 miles

Our first run from the new home base almost didn't happen, as just a few minutes before go time the skies opened up and spit forth a storm of...hail?? Yup, pretty large pieces coming down at a pretty intense velocity. It was so distressing that I immediately sent Jordan down to hop in the car and find somewhere, anywhere, covered to dock for a few minutes (apparently backward through the ATM drive-through at B of A was the closest place). After 10-15 minutes of hail, the precipitation changed over to rain, and we glumly acknowledged that we were going to get pretty wet on this outing.

However, being the badasses that we are, we simply threw on an extra layer and headed out. We'd agreed beforehand to meet Scotty D along Pickard, so after 1.5 miles or so the three of us were running side by side. We took a spin through the neighborhoods, past North Base (the location of the Westheimer airport and some National Weather Center buildings) and by Andrews Park before finishing up on Main Street, completely drenched. Welcome to Oklahoma.

Oh, and btw, I missed Nationals by 3 seconds. FML.

Monday, May 11, 2009

CLT-OKC Road Trip: Day 2

15 mins. core
48 mins.
~7 miles

After a fun night hanging out with Brooke and Biscuit, Jordan and I were up early to get in a quick run before hitting the road again. We stuck to the streets of Homewood, the neighborhood where Brooke lives
, and meandered around with no particular destination in mind. Jordan's keen sense of direction extended this run by about a mile when he took us down one street in the complete opposite direction of where we were supposed to go. Nice work.

Loading 'er up for Day 2

By 9am the car was re-packed and we were back on the road. Today's travels would take us through Mississippi, Tennessee (for all of 10 minutes), Arkansas (for waaaay too long) and finally to Oklahoma. Our first stop on the day was at the Mississippi State Welcome Center, which proved to be quite the diamond in the rough. In addition to having clean bathrooms they also served free drinks inside AND had a duo of country banjo players to keep people entertained. They may have also been flying the Confederate flag outside, but I'm willing to let it slide for a free Diet Coke.

The fun never stops at the Miss. Welcome Center

By the time early afternoon rolled around, our stomachs were rumbling and we knew they would only be satisfied by an authentic Southern road trip meal. Helloooo, Cracker Barrel. While I took advantage of the all-day breakfast and ordered some pancakes, Jordy went for broke and indulged in chicken fried steak, gravy, fried okra, biscuits, mac and cheese, coleslaw and mashed potatoes. Needless to say, he passed out in a glucose coma within minutes of returning to the car.

Several hundred miles later, almost 12 hours to the minute after our departure, we finally arrived at our final destination on Main Street. Miraculously, we bested the over/under I set at noon for when we would engage in our first argument; in fact, we didn't argue at all (which I attribute 100% to the fact that Jordan slept almost the entire time that I drove). Even better, all of our breakables survived the treacherous Arkansas highway system (pay your taxes, you rednecks) and the Mini performed without a hitch. I can unequivocally pronounce our CLT-OKC road trip a rousing success.

Welcome home!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Week in Review

50 miles
2 hours 30 mins. ellip.
7 hours on the road
6 trips to the storage unit
4? AFDs

My running is starting to come around again and my foot is feeling good, which is a sentence I've been waiting to type for over a month. I was pleased with my long run on Saturday, and about being able to keep up with Jordy on Sunday despite him being over his post-marathon gimp. I'll find out early next week whether or not I made the cut for Nationals, a prospect that is slim but still possible, so I suppose I should at least keep up a semblance of serious training until then. In the bigger picture, I'm excited about having some new stomping grounds for the summer and about the prospect of hopefully putting in some miles with Kristi and Aja.

CLT-OKC Road Trip: Day 1

AM: 15 mins. core
51 mins.
7 miles
PM: 7 hours in the car
3 states (SC, GA, AL)

Jordan flew in late last night to help me load up the c
ar and start the epic road trip to Oklahoma. We had a rather lopsided itinerary on tap, planning to only drive ~6-7 hours in Sunday which would leave us with almost 12 hours in the car on Monday. However, structuring the trip this way meant we would have the chance to hang out and spend the night with Brookelet in Birmingham on Sunday, which for both of us made the disparity well worth it.

As for the run, we got out the door fairly early and hit up a standard route past campus, through Freedom Park, and down the bike path and back. As expected, my legs were pretty stiff and tired from yesterday's "long" run, but Jordan was feeling unusually beneficent and didn't push the pace too much. I must admit I felt a twinge of sadness knowing this would be our last few miles in Charlotte for a while, but these brief feelings were overshadowed by my excitement about the great summer we have ahead of us.

Ready to hit the road

Once we were back at the prison we had a fairly intese mission ahead of us: somehow cramming the remainder of my belongings into the Mini. To put it mildly, I don't drive the largest car on the road. Despite my certainty that I'd pared down my superfluous crap to a manageable amount, Jordan remained less than confident that it was all going to fit. After working some serious magic we managed to wedge almost everything in, leaving only a few casualties behind, and without further ado we were on the road.

Giant peach on the side of the road. Pretty sweet.

The downtown Atlanta skyline as seen through our windshield wipers.

ur relatively brief drive on Sunday took us through South Carolina and Georgia before sending us west on I-20 into Alabama. We saw all the sights that the greater southeast region had to offer, including but not limited to a giant peach (statue? water tower? monument?) on the side of the road in Gaffney, SC, the Talladega Motor Speedway and a plethora of "world's largest" fireworks stands. We stopped for a quick treat at Arby's outside Atlanta (and learned that they have apparently made the egregious error of eliminating the "5 for $5.95" deal from their menu...sorry Jeff). By the time we arrived at Brooke's it was just past 5pm Central time and we were ready for a much-needed break. Day 1 was successfully in the books.


Dinner with Brooke...the perfect way to cap off Day 1

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Put It On the Board

88 mins.
12 miles

Despite the fact that I was a good girl last night and caught a ride home with Jenny around midnight, I was still groggy and slow to rise this morning. Perhaps subconsciously I was putting off my slated 12-mile run, which, if successful, would be about four miles farther than the longest run I've done in, oh, about six weeks. By the time I made it out to McAlpine, it was just shy of 10. The sun was shining brightly and the heat and humidity were in full force. I made the smart move and parked at Boyce instead of Old Bell, which would afford me a mile and a half each way in the shaded back trails.

By the time I hit the start of the Footlocker course at ~2 1/2 miles in, I could tell my legs were feeling much springier than any time in recent memory. I clock
ed one of my miles just to get an idea of what pace I was running, and 7:10 looked to be about the norm (although I have no doubt I slowed a bit on some of the final miles). While I understand 7:10 pace is by no means fast, I was still pleased with the fact that I felt much more comfortable than I have in quite some time...almost like my old self. My foot felt great the entire time too, so much so that it was a non-issue, which is by far the most important thing at this point.

McAlpine Park's most prolific denizens, seen here on the path near the lake.
This time of year their favorite pasttime is to hiss at all the passers-by who
get too close to their babies. Needless to say, I'm on that list.

I knew the second loop of the Footlocker course would be a bit of a test; by 11 the sun was almost directly overhead and the humidity was intensifying. Plus, by the time I hit the last mile of the course I was at nine miles on the day, which in itself is more than I've run since before my injury. There was some significant self-coaching going on for the final three miles, as things certainly got tough in spots, but overall I was pleased with how strong I finished the run. As I audibly reminded myself about 10 miles in, "You don't have to finish fast; just finish strong."

As I type this several hours later, my hamstrings feel pretty tight from the effort, but otherwise I don't think I'm too beat up. Something about the run definitely rocked my stomach though, and I spent several hours afterward curled up in the fetal position on my couch. I still wasn't feeling particularly chipper by the time I showed up to Katie's graduation party at 3pm, and opted to pass on all the free-flowing wine, beer and margaritas that were being offered. That's right, I turned down free drinks...and they even had Ecco Domani. Needless to say, I'm pretty disappointed in myself.

Friday, May 8, 2009

That's Right, I'm Actually Going Out

AM: 50 mins.
6.5 miles
PM: 4 miles

Normally I would give myself the benefit of the doubt and say that 50 minutes is closer to 7 miles than 6, but I was moseying along pretty slowly this morning. My legs still aren't quite recovered from Wednesday's track workout, plus this is the first week I've started incorporating consistent doubles back into my training, so I think overall my body is in a state of confusion.

In non-running news, tonight is commencement for the graduate school at Queens. My friends Jason and Clint (of Great Harvest 5k fame) are hosting a party at the Aloft Hotel bar in Uptown immediately following the ceremony, so I'm looking forward to actually going out on a Friday night for once. Should be good times.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Thursday Double

AM: 15 mins. core
4 miles
PM: 51-52 mins.
7 miles

Yup, I'm pretty sore from yesterday. Embarrassing.

This morning I meandered down to Freedom Park to check out the scene post-flooding. The park looked a bit...waterlogged, but surprisingly otherwise seemed none the worse for the wear. In the afternoon I headed to McAlpine with Jeff, Mike and Futsum. Jeff appears to be serious about getting back into this whole running thing, and we ran stride for stride the entire distance (which was actually supposed to be closer to 6 miles, but I misjudged the distance since we started from Boyce instead of Old Bell...oops). The humidity was killer today, a rather depressing harbinger of things to come, and I felt/looked like I'd jumped into a swimming pool by the time we finished. Brutal.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Back on the Short Bus

AM: 2 mile w/u + drills
Target: 6x800 w/2:30 rest @2:50
Actual: 2:47, 2:51, 2:49, 2:50, 2:50, 2:50
1 mile c/d
Total: 6 miles
PM: 2 miles

I have to admit, I was a bit apprehensive about getting on the track today for several reasons. This would be my first attempt at a workout since I effed up my foot five weeks ago while doing, well, a similar workout. I was nervous about how my foot would handle the added stress of running on my toes, and I was also dreading the opportunity to quantify exactly how slow I've become in a matter of weeks. I know that's taking a "glass half empty" lens to the situation, but knowing that it would be a struggle to run slower than normal for half as long of a workout doesn't exactly inspire self-confidence. That said, I was willing to give it a shot.

My foot felt decent on the warmup, but I could tell right away that the 90% humidity wasn't going to do me any favors. Last night's monsoon may have subsided, but the moisture hung in the air almost thick enough to touch, ensuring that maintaining even a pedestrian pace would prove more difficult than normal (To give you a more graphic illustration, during the workout I tried unsuccessfully after several intervals to bend over and put my hands on my knees, but they were so slick that my hands just kept sliding off. Hotttt.). While Jeff was off on his own jog, I sneakily donned my racing flats in hopes of gaining any advantage I could find. That plan was foiled when Jeff returned to the track, glanced down at my feet, and simply said, "No."

Once the trainers were back on, I was ready (relatively speaking) to begin the workout. Jeff wanted me to ease into the first two around 2:55, but I must confess I have absolutely no concept of pace right now. That became readily apparent when I came through the first 400 in 81 and finished the interval in 2:47...oops. After that I made a conscious effort to go out more conservatively, with better results. I have to be honest though; not one step of this workout felt easy, or even comfortable. I felt so...awkward out there. Clunky. Like I'd never set foot on a track before. It was very disconcerting. I mean, I guess I have to start somewhere, but I somewhat naively imagined it would come back a bit more naturally than this.

I'm embarrassed to say I was already sore within hours of completing this workout. I wanted to shake out the legs on the elliptical this evening but, alas, the fitness center is closed for the next week since today is the last day of finals. Instead I gingerly set out for a slooooow jog down to campus and back. While my body felt pretty wrecked, my foot didn't seem irritated, which was definitely my greater concern. It will be interesting to see how I feel tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Moving Day

AM: 30 mins. ellip.
PM: 45 mins. ellip.

I was up and at 'em very early this morning, as there was a ton to be accomplished on the day. Namely that involved Tanya and I (with our trusty male assistant) moving virtually the entirety of our apartment into a storage unit, a chore which would end up taking most of the day and many trips to and from Public Storage. As I type this on Wednesday, the mission is 90% complete, a
nd I should probably be good to go with just one more moving trip before I head out of town this weekend.

Torrential downpour

I fully intended to run this evening, but in literally a matter of minutes the skies opened up and unleashed a monsoon. Flash flooding was almost immediate, to the point where I was actually nervous at a few points on my ~1 mile drive to the fitness center. I was soaked instantly upon sprinting from my car, and I'm pretty sure I looked like a drowned rat throughout the majority of my workout. Oh well. It turns out I couldn't have done my usual run through Freedom Park anyway since apparently it was under water at the time.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Elliptical Double

AM: 50 mins. ellip. (incl. 10x2 mins. on, 1 min. off; 5x1 min. on, 1 min. off)
PM: 15 min. walk
30 mins. ellip
10 min. walk, 5 min. jog (1/2 mile, count it)

I decided to play it safe and give my foot a break today, opting instead to bang out two elliptical sessions. After an incredibly productive afternoon, I decided to do my part for the environment and for my health by walking to school rather than driving. Naturally, the skies opened up on my walk home and I got absolutely soaking wet. Despite having just put down a substantial dinner in the dining hall and despite carrying my workout bag, the driving rain forced me to jog/waddle the rest of the way home whilst looking like a complete tard. FML.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Week in Review

45-46 miles
2.75 hours ellip.
3 special visitors
2 final exams
2 5k "races"

A few members of the girls team before last Sunday's awards reception
L to R: Leslie, Amanda, Katie, me, Tanya, Holly

I didn't get in as many miles (or elliptical "miles") as I would've liked this week, due to a combination of having Jordan and his fam in town and also being swamped with final exams and projects. I've got one more week in Charlotte before embarking on the epic road trip to OK, with the main activity on my agenda being packing up all my stuff and transferring it to a storage unit. While I'm dreading that project more than the swine flu, in reality it shouldn't take more than a day, so hopefully my exercise time will be restored to its normal, obsessive level.

Recovery Sunday

AM: 60 mins.
8 miles
PM: 30 mins. ellip.

Foot was a little sore today, but runnable. I did a super easy session on the elliptical this evening to shake out the legs.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

5k x 2, or "Getting My Mojo Back"

AM: 1 mile w/u
5k "race" in 23:xx
Total: 4+ miles
Original Pancake House
15 mins. core
PM: 2+ mile w/u
2.5 miles of 5k "race" @6 min. pace
2 mile c/d
Total: 7 miles

So, at the risk of calling this prematurely, I'm marking today on the calendar as the day when I kinda-sorta-almost turned a corner and felt like my old self again. If the next few days go well, I might actually withdraw from my funk. Fingers crossed!

Now for the recap. First of all, this morning's "race" was super fun. Tanya and I were up fairly early for a Saturday so we could jog the easy downhill mile from the prison to the start of the Great Harvest 5k. We met up with Jeff, as well as my friends/classmates Jenny, Clint, Jason, Chris, and our awesome professor Kim right at 7:40 by the chip-timing table. Some of them, like Jason, were running their first 5k ever, which I thought was pretty cool. I guess having been a runner and worked in the industry for so long, I forget how fun and exciting the everyday neighborhood 5k can be for people who are just discovering the sport, but it's pretty cool to see my friends genuinely pumped about trying something new. (As an aside, here's my plug for you to watch and "vote up" Jason's documentary on Mixed Martial Arts, which he just produced for his Master's thesis project.)

For Tanya and myself, this "race" would just be a fun, easy run and a hope to score some freebies. It was much more significant for Jeff, who would be attempting his first steps since before his epic foot surgeries. Just like some of the newbies, he was nervous and excited, but for different reasons. Wanting to rally with our "team," we joined them near the back of the 500-person pack at the starting line so that we could ease into the pace. Naturally, our first mile was super slow, but Jeff and Tanya and I gradually picked up the pace until we were running comfortably by the end. I think I caught our final mile at 7:10, which is neither fast nor slow, and we were all pleased to see that Jeff felt comfortable and pain-free the entire time. The three of us stopped short of the finish line so we could cheer for each of our friends as they completed their races. It was pretty awesome to see each of them finish strong with grins on their faces, and I was proud to see them out there pushing themselves.

Almost 12 hours later, Holly and I set off for High Point (which, incidentally, is a gorgeous campus in the middle of a trash dump of a town) to race another 5k. She was hoping to break 19 minutes for the first time, and Jeff wanted me to take her through the early stages of the race and keep her from going out too fast with the rest of the pack. Of course, this implied that I was capable of running ~6-minute pace in my current state of woe, which hasn't exactly been proven over the past few weeks. I was desperately hoping I would be able to do my job, for my own sake but especially for Holly's, and I wasn't taking this responsibility lightly.

The gun went off at exactly 9:35, and I found the pace almost immediately. I could tell Holly was feeling antsy, but knew she needed to save herself for the final mile, so after fighting her for a lap or two I basically ordered her to fall in behind me and stop thinking. We cruised through the first mile in 6:02, and I was pleasantly surprised to feel pretty strong. By no means was I jogging, but the pace wasn't forced at all. Jeff was in the infield on the backstretch, and I looked for his splits each time we went by to make sure I was on pace. I guess I can be a metronome when the situation calls for it, as I never wavered from 90's or 91's for the first two miles. We passed the two-mile mark in 12:04, and at this point I told Holly that it was time to race. We picked up the pace a second or two on the next few laps, and I could tell she still had plenty left in the tank.

Just short of 2.5 miles, I felt a slight twinge in my foot. It was nothing major, but I knew I should probably be smart and heed its warning. This was my first time wearing flats since the day I hurt myself, and I didn't want to risk anything tonight. Also, a small part of me wanted to see Holly finish this off by herself. I wanted her to know that she was capable of doing this solo. After a few final words of encouragement, I pulled off the track and into the infield. For her final three laps I still got my exercise, sprinting back and forth on the grassy infield to cheer her on. She was really dropping the pace, and at this point the question wasn't whether she would break 19 minutes, but by how much. I don't think I've ever cheered for someone so intensely as I did when she rounded the final turn and I started running alongside her to urge her on. I could see the determination on her face and knew she wanted this more than anything. She crossed the finish line in 18:37 and immediately dissolved into tears, exhausted and proud of what she had accomplished. As a freshman who couldn't break 20 minutes in cross-country, she's come a long way in less than a year. I'm so proud of her and can't wait to see what she achieves throughout the rest of her running career.

Sorry this entry is so long, but it was a huge day. I ran twice, I didn't feel like crap running 6-minute pace, I helped Holly set a PR, I watched Jeff successfully complete his first run in months, and I enjoyed some cinnamon nut French toast with a group of cool new friends. It would appear as though all is right with the world.

Friday, May 1, 2009


AM: 45 mins. ellip
PM: 5 miles

Nothing whatsoever notable about today's outings, except that my foot felt halfway decent on the afternoon run. I'm supposed to pace Holly at the High Point meet tomorrow night and she's looking to run ~18:50 for 5k. Given that once upon a time (i.e. a month ago) I went through the 5k of a 10k approximately a minute faster than this, one would think I should view the pacing duties as a walk in the park. However, if one would also kindly remember that I am now woefully out of shape, one would be (as I am) crossing their fingers and praying to sweet Jesus that I don't blow up. Ah, how the times have changed.

In other news, Jeffro will be attempting his first run in goodness knows how long tomorrow morning when we bandit the Great Harvest 5k. A few of our friends from the OCOM program (and our fave professor) are running the race and talked us into it with the promise of breakfast afterward. It also helps that the race starts and finishes literally a mile away from the prison. In fact, I think Tanya might even join us for a few easy miles in hopes of free bread samples afterward. Should be a fun time.