Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Farewell to Canadia

67 mins.
8-8.5 miles

I was up and on my feet early this morning to put in a few miles before heading to the first of many airports. I ventured back down to the seawall where I'd run the day before the race, heading out and back in just about 32 minutes. Once back at the hotel I met up with my dad and Tim, who were hoping to put in a short jaunt as well, so we set off at a relaxed pace for the rest of the run.

Pedestrian path along the seawall

To break things up a bit, I suggested we head out over the Burrard Street bridge (which had been my nemesis on Sunday) and over to Granville Island, a touristy but nice area filled with restaurants, street vendors, a farmers market and other shops. Taking a spin around the island and returning to the hotel put us at almost exactly four miles, which made it a perfect point to finish up the run.

My (least) favorite bridge in all of Vancouver

The rest of my day was spent airport hopping, as I enjoyed some quality time in YVR (yay for customs), Denver and DFW before finally returning home to Norman just before 10pm. Vancouver '09 was a rousing success, and I hope to go back again sometime soon.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Cross-Training and Sightseeing

45 mins. ellip.
15 mins. core

As predicted, I woke up this morning with my fair share of aches and pains, the most insistent of which was my lower right leg. Somewhere around mile 10 of the race I began to feel the beginnings of a horrendous blood blister on the metatarsal head between my first and second toe, so I inadvertently spent the rest of the race trying to avoid it. Naturally, I also favored the outside of my foot for the entire two-mile walk home after the race, which certainly didn't help. At any rate, I was content to take the day off from running and instead pay a visit to the hotel fitness center.

The majority of the afternoon was spent sightseeing with my parents, which was nice and relaxing (although not nearly as relaxing as the one-hour massage I got later at the spa across the street--thanks Dad!). Vancouver is truly a beautiful city, very clean and lush with greenery, and of course the expansive mountain and water backdrop serve to complete the picture. It's too bad I have to go home tomorrow, because I could definitely grow accustomed to this.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Week in Review

63 miles
4 airports (OKC, SLC, SEA, YVR)
13.1 miles from UBC to Stanley Park
69 seconds for my 400 on Tuesday
1 delicious basket of fried pickles

The gorgeous view from Prospect Point, which sits atop Stanley Park

This was a fantastic week all around, from my blazing speed on the track on Tuesday, to a fun night with friends at Jazz in June on Friday, to a great race and time with the fam in Vancouver this weekend. I'll probably take the majority of next week easy, as I'm sure some aches and pains from today's race will begin to surface within the next few days, but it sure would be a shame not to take advantage of the mild weather while I'm here in Canada.

Scotiabank Half-Marathon

~1.5 mile w/u
13.1 miles in 1:22:26
6th overall female
2 mile walk back to the hotel
Course map

Overall, this race experience was head and shoulders above my half in Joplin a few weeks ago. Not only was my time faster, which obviously is the end goal, but I felt much stronger and more focused throughout the entire race.

That said, let's start at the beginning. Tim, Pam, my dad and I caught a cab at the bright-eyed hour of 6am to the race start, which was located at the University of British Columbia's Thunderbird Arena. The morning was cool and overcast, even a touch humid, with temperatures hovering in the low 50s--in short, perfect for a long run.

Now, this may be blindingly obvious to everyone else, but it wasn't until about halfway through the cab ride that I had an "aha moment" realization: there would only be kilometer markers during the race, not mile markers. For someone who neither has a Garmin nor is well-versed in processing pace calculations in terms of kilometers, this induced a slight mini-panic. I spent the entirety of my warmup converting paces in my head and coming up with rough estimates of where I wanted to be at certain points in the race, so by the time I toed the line I felt much better. Actually, as the race went on, I rather enjoyed having the metric system in place. For one, your feedback is more frequent than when dealing with miles, and I found that it almost made the race go by more quickly. It also helped me to break the race up into 5k segments, with the 10k being my mental halfway mark (even though I realize it's slightly short of this). Breaking the race up into four 5ks (or, as I found myself doing it in my head, a 5k followed by a 10k followed by another 5k) really helped me stay focused through chunks of the race where my mind normally starts to wander (sort of like this post is wandering right now).

The race went off at 7:00 sharp without a hitch and we were on our way toward Stanley Park. The first thing I noticed was how much downhill there seemed to be in the first 5k--so much so that I went through in 19:05 instead of the 19:30 I'd planned for. I paid for it during the second 5k, as my legs felt very heavy and sluggish throughout the gradual uphill climb from miles 3 to 5. However, the next two miles comprised the steepest downhill section on the entire course--to the point where I was actually getting tired of it, which is an unusual way to feel about downhill running--and by 10k I was able to get my legs back under me and regain my composure. I crested the 10k mark in 38:33 feeling strong and confident. At this point, I told myself to stay relaxed and conserve my energy for the next 5k so that I would have plenty left for the final 5-6k section. I stopped looking at my watch at this point, as I wanted to just focus on feel, and instead concentrated on passing one person at a time. Unlike in Joplin, where I ran solo for the majority of the race, today I almost always had at least one person trucking along at the same pace as me.

Although I haven't done much justice to the scenery in this post, allow me to pause here and say it truly was a beautiful course. I was flanked by some gorgeous trees for much of the first half, then at one point rounded a corner to find the harbor and the mountains beyond it staring me straight in the face. Just past 10k the sun burst forth from the clouds, adding to the already beautiful morning without raising the temperature too drastically. My legs may have been starting to burn at this point, but I was still aware enough of my surroundings to appreciate the picturesque scene.

Whether it was the scenery or my game of mental arithmetic (my cousin Preston would be proud), I came up on the 15k mark sooner than expected. My plan to really kick it in was foiled when I reached the 3k mark and discovered the long, gradually uphill overpass I would have to traverse for the next mile. This section completely zapped any remaining energy, and from there on out I was definitely in the well. I did manage to pass one girl with 1k to go, which I'm happy about, but was unable to close on one more girl who was within my sights. If I'd only had another 400 meters...but them's the breaks sometimes.

Not much else to say in closing other than that I was proud of my efforts out there today, and I feel like this is a truer gauge of my fitness than my 1:24 in Joplin. I was also proud of my dad and Tim, who ran 1:46 and 1:47 respectively, and of Pam who came within eight seconds of besting her 2:00 goal. I would be lying to say I felt fantastic the entire way, but you'd also be hard-pressed to convince me of a better way to spend a sunny summer morning in Vancouver. Eh?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Canada, Eh?

30 mins.
4 miles

After a seemingly endless day of travel, which commenced when I left Main Street at 6:30am and ended when I finally arrived at the Sheraton Wall Center over eight hours later, I had little desire to strap on the kicks. However, I knew I needed to sh
ake out the legs and the weather was perfect--60 degrees with a light breeze--so away I went.

View of the Vancouver waterfront

Within five minutes of leaving the hotel I found a bike/jogging path that ran parallel with the waterfront. It afforded a great view, and I took the path almost all the way to Stanley Park before turning around. If I had one complaint--which, of course, I do--it's that the whole place was super crowded, and I spent half the run zigging and zagging in between groups of people while trying not to collide with other groups of people. Guess that's what I get for heading out at 5pm on a Saturday. That said, it was great to see so many people out enjoying the beautiful afternoon. I also liked hearing snippets of conversations, many being held in languages other than my own; based on what I've seen so far, Vancouver seems to be a pretty cosmopolitan city. I dig it.

Gun time is 7am tomorrow for the Scotiabank Half Marathon. Myself, my dad, his running partner Tim and Tim's wife Pam will all be toeing the line with about 5000 Canucks. Wonder if anyone else in the race hails from Norman, OK? So far the weather forecast is showing sunshine and temperatures in the mid to upper 50's; perfect running weather. I'm excited to experience what their Web site humbly boasts as "the most scenic half-marathon you'll ever run."

Friday, June 26, 2009

Pickard Fartlek

21 min. w/u (2.5-3 miles)
5x2 mins. on/3 mins. off
~3 mile c/d incl. 1 mile barefoot and 2x100m barefoot strides
Total: 9-9.5 miles

I put in a solid fartlek effort this morning while Jordan and Scotty tempoed. After that we trotted over to the track so they could do some three hundos. Naturally I opted to jog barefoot in the grass and stride it out while they took care of the really difficult stuff. I'm really enjoying the barefoot running and I definitely think it's strengthening my feet and lower legs. Which is a relief, because my man calves weren't quite massive enough already.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

This is Bad, Real Bad, Michael Jackson

54 mins.
7.5 miles

In case you've been living under a rock, the King of Pop died today. To be honest, I'm a bit taken aback by how widespread and deeply felt the reaction to this news has been. I've never been a fervent Michael Jackson fan, although I certainly acknowledge and appreciate the transformative power he's had on modern pop music, and although I may or may not have rocked the falsetto on a Rock Band-inspired version of "Beat It." But--and I feel like I'm being charitable here--he was kind of a weirdo. And not just a weirdo, but an (allegedly) child-molesting weirdo. So I find it a bit absurd that people like, for example, former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung have issued statements saying: "We lost a hero of the world." Shouldn't he be busy managing other things? Like his country? Or keeping an eye on his pesky trigger-happy neighbors to the north? If anyone is excited about this untimely development, it's got to be South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. At last he can enjoy a brief respite from his lascivious media frenzy.

But I digress. Before Michael Jackson died, I ran today. Actually I ran with Jenny Graef, which was great fun. Guess that's all I have to say about that.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Anywhere But Here

AM: 47 mins.
~6.5 miles
15 mins. core
PM: 4 miles

Okay, so I realize I just said a few days ago that I wouldn't dwell on the weather. But seriously, this morning it was 80 degrees with 80 percent humidity when we started our run at 7:30. Not a cloud in the sky. This is the worst weather day we've had thus far this summer, and believe me, that's saying something. I think I'm quoting verbatim the sentiment I expressed to Jordan later today: "We are never, ever, under any circumstances, spending another summer in Oklahoma ever again."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Jordan's 2k Cutdown

2 mile w/u
Target: 2xmile @6:00-6:10; 2x400m
Actual: 5:49, 5:53, 70.7, 69.0 (!!!), 33.4 (for 200m)
2x100m barefoot strides
20 min. c/d (2.5 miles)
8-8.5 miles

Jordan had a bear of a workout on tap today, a cutdown in 400m increments from 2k all the way to 200m, so the Three Musketeers rolled up to the Norman High track around 7am in hopes of beating the heat and getting 'er done. I'd tentatively planned a pre-race workout, in case I end up going for gold in the half on Sunday, and Scotty hoped to jump in and out of Jordan's workout to provide as much help as possible. I also wanted to jump in on a few of his slower-paced intervals; Jordan helps me so frequently in workouts that I would feel bad not taking advantage of the rare occasion when I can return the favor.

Despite the fact that I wasn't supposed to dip below 6:00 on my miles, I hit the first quarter in 84 and just kept rolling. The pace felt like a jog even in the heat and humidity, so rather than fight myself the entire way I decided to just relax and roll with it. Jogging a lap in between each interval kept the workout running smoothly, and soon it was time for me to jump in with Scotty and Jordan.

I'd planned to run the last 400 of his 1200 in ~72 seconds, but somehow I miscalculated the laps. So, when they strode down the homestretch to finish their second lap, I somehow thought it was only their first; as a result, I was at least 15 meters behind the starting line before it dawned on me that my lap was coming up. Without thinking, I immediately broke into a sprint in hopes of catching them, and as a result I was approaching top speed by the time I actually "started" the lap. Did the running start help me run the interval faster? Or did the act of sprinting 420 meters instead of 400 wear me out more? It's hard to say, but at any rate my legs and lungs were burning by the final 100 meters. My second 400 went much more smoothly, as I started at the appropriate location at the appropriate time, and I finally achieved my season-long goal of breaking 70 seconds in a workout. Trust me, my knowledge of how pathetic this is does in no way diminish my joy. Sad, right? I also blazed a 200 at the end of Jordan's 600m effort and felt strong the entire way. He was beginning to labor at this point but stuck with it to finish strong. Scotty also ran well throughout, making it a solid outing for all of us.

Though my legs (and lungs) were burning after my unusually speedy session, overall I felt great. The best part was kicking off the shoes to run some barefoot strides and a barefoot cooldown mile before taking it back to Main Street. I will probably be sore tomorrow, but today's workout was definitely--dare I say it--a lot of fun.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Shady Sutton

58 mins.
8 miles

Okay, so I promise not to dwell on the weather every single day...but, the 5-day forecast is indicating 100-degree temps on tap from now until Friday. The "lows" at night barely hover at 80. So just bear in mind that when I describe us going on an "easy" run, it's likely more difficult for me than I'd like to admit, owing to the fact that it's virtually impossible to stay cool and even more so to prevent dehydration. Ugh.

With that out of the way, Jordan and I enjoyed an "easy" run to Sutton Woods today. Two days in a row of soft surfaces felt great on the legs and feet, and I was extremely grateful for the shade provided for most of this run.

Also, at this point I can share that I will be venturing to a much more agreeable climate this weekend, as I am rendezvousing with my parents in Vancouver, BC for a few days of their vacation. I can also spill the beans about my "secret" race, which is the Scotiabank Half Marathon that I will be running with me pops on Sunday. If all goes according to plan, I hope to put in a hard effort and redeem myself for my lackluster showing in Joplin a few weeks ago. If things aren't clicking I can always dial it back a notch and cruise with my dad. Hopefully the flatter, faster course and cooler weather (average temps this time of year are mid 50s to low 70s) will facilitate a much more enjoyable race experience.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Week in Review

64-65 miles
2 actual core sessions
1 glorious night in Enid
3 lovely companions for my Sunday run
1 averted dog attack

After spending such a great weekend with friends, it seems like the rest of the week doesn't really matter. I did get in a few semi-workouts and some solid recovery runs, but honestly the best part of this week was just having good times with good peeps. So, with that in mind, I think the best way to approach this "week in review" is to throw out a few memorable quotes/events from our wedding weekend festivities:
  • Participating in an Andre lightning round at the local park before the wedding reception (Holly: "Aren't they going to wonder where half the wedding party is?")
  • Jilane losing a bet to the Ghostbusters guys at the bar (Saker: "Oh look, Jilane's over there with the guys who are about to roofie her.")
  • Jilane, Jess and Scotty running 3.75 miles back to the Holiday Inn after leaving the bar...in flip flops...at 1am...Scotty still wearing his rented tux.
  • Aja and Jilane destroying their back tire after running over an entire cinder block on I-35, then proceeding to change said tire whilst resting their knees on a yoga mat.
  • Me begging Jordan to change clothes before going into Wal-Mart while he was wearing running shorts, casual shoes and Logan's old "Got your tickets...to the gun show?" t-shirt. (Me: "Babe, you look so trashy." Jordan: "Seriously?? We're at Wal-Mart!")
  • Our waiter at On the Border, upon recognizing Jordan as the OKC Marathon winner: "Hey man, it was awesome serving you today." (Me: "Yeah, I think the same thing every day when I'm picking up his dirty clothes and washing his dishes.")
If I'm leaving anything out, do feel free to add on. =)

Where the Blacktop Ends

~75 mins.
10 miles

Despite not getting to bed until 2:00 this morning, several intrepid members of our party reconvened at the hotel-motel-Holiday Inn at 7:30 on Sunday for runs of various distances. Scotty and Jordan planned to do 16, as did Jilane (although her plans changed significantly when she chose to count the 3.75 miles she ran back from the bar the previous evening toward today's mileage). Aja and Kristi were looking for 10, and I was good with 10-12 as well, so without further ado we set off in search of some country roads.

After pounding the pavement and dodging some Sunday morning (read: church-bound) traffic for two miles, the road gave way from asphalt to soft, smooth, almost clay-like dirt. Within minutes we had nothing but cornfields to our left and amber waves of grain to our right; I couldn't have painted a truer picture of rural Oklahoma if I'd tried. The scenery was stunning in its simplicity, and for miles upon miles our only companions were of the bovine variety. That said, as the mileage crept up the temperature gauge followed, and just before the girls' 5-mile turnaround we found ourselves in desperate need of water. Luckily we spotted a large farmhouse under renovation just off our dirt path and decided to take a peek-a-loo around the grounds in hopes of finding a water hose. We made it no more than 20 yards onto the property before three large, angry and surprisingly agile canines came bursting forth from behind the house, no doubt with the intent of chasing us down and mauling us until we were dead. Let's just say I don't think any of us have sprinted as fast in recent track workouts as we did in the next 30 seconds, and if it weren't for the electric fence on the edge of the property I doubt I would be typing this today.

By comparison, the rest of the run was fairly uneventful. We finally found that water hose around mile eight at a church/school on the edge of town, and at this point our minds were focused completely on the Holiday Inn pool and a few rounds of apple juice from the continental breakfast. To be honest, I still felt relatively fresh and would've liked to add on a few more miles, but by the time we made it back to the hotel I was content to rest and relax while we waited for the boys. Overall, this run was great fun with good company and the perfect way to cap off our stay in Enid, America.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Enid, America

52 mins.
7 miles
15 mins. core

Another day, another hot and windy early morning run. Fortunately we didn't have to deal with it for too long, as we needed to make quick work of this jaunt before preparing for a busy weekend. A few laps on the grass track and a big loop through the surrounding neighborhood
s took up most of our time. Jordan and I parted ways near Andrews Park, he to do a few strides at the track and me to book it home for some core work and a shower.

The beautiful bride and groom, Mr. and Mrs. Stuart Lisle

The rest of the morning and early afternoon was spent at OK Runner, where business was rather slow until (naturally) the moment we needed to leave for Cat and Stu's wedding. Jordan managed to help a few customers while knotting his tie (multitasking and salesmanship at its finest), and by quarter of two we were on the road. Destination: Enid, America for the holy matrimony of Cat and Stu (cue the "Princess Bride" scene: "Mahwege. Mahwege is what bwings us togeva today. Wuv, twoo wuv...").

L to R: Kristi, Aja, Jilane, me, Jess. I heart these girls.

Due in no small part to Jordan driving 20 miles over the speed limit, we arrived at Emmanuel Baptist Church with plenty of time to spare before the 4:00 ceremony. After taking our seats with the likes of other OU former teammates such as Kristi and Coleman, Jilane, Aja and Jess, we were ready for the show to begin. And what can I say, it was beautiful. Cat looked gorgeous. Everything went off without a hitch, and before we knew it Mr. and Mrs. Stuart Lisle were walking back down the aisle from whence they came to the timeless croonings of Justin Timberlake's "My Love." Classic.

Team MJ: reunited and it feels so good

After a few, er, detours, our party headed over to the wedding reception. Like the wedding, this was also gorgeous and tasteful, if a bit swe
aty due to it taking place in a largely unshaded backyard at 5pm. The bride and groom timed their 8pm departure just as the storms were rolling in, which both cooled things off and sent the rest of us scattering to our respective locations for the night. From there, we did what any sane group of people would do when faced with the prospect of a long night in an unfamiliar small town: we hit up the local pub. Callahan's turned out to be a fun spot, though regretfully none of us received the memo in advance that it was 80's night, and we happily spent the rest of the evening catching up with friends and throwing back a few cold ones. Great times all around.


Enjoying the corner booth at Callahan's

Friday, June 19, 2009

Windy Fartlek

20 min. w/u (2.5 miles)
Target: 5x2 min. on/3 min. off fartlek
Actual: 4x2 min. on, 1x3 min. on
18 min. c/d (2.5 miles)
Total: 8.5-9 miles
Wind: 17mph gusting to 25mph

Despite being out the door and on the road by 7:30, today's run was pretty brutal. It was hot, humid and exceptionally windy. I was grateful that I didn't have a "real" workout on tap like Jordan, because it certainly wouldn't have gone well. Instead, I opted to do a fartlek as per the schedule I just received from Coach Simmons. Actually he'd scheduled a short tempo run, but since I did some uptempo miles on Wednesday I chose to borrow this fartlek from next week's schedule instead.

The nice part about fartleks is it's difficult to be precise about the pace, and when the conditions are as uncomfortable as they were today that's probably best. I managed to structure most of my southbound windy sections in my "off" segments, and as a result felt pretty strong throughout this go. I decided to extend the last interval to three minutes, as I had the wind at my back up Pickard, and I was able to close feeling smooth and under control. Having the wind at my back for the duration of the cooldown didn't exactly hurt either.

Oh, and it got up to 97 degrees today. 100 is imminent. Yay for summer in the south.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


AM: 58 mins.
8 miles
PM: 2 miles

For whatever reason, I just wasn't feeling it this morning. My legs weren't sore or even particularly tired but just felt very flat, and by five miles I was completely over this run. Decided to see if I could loosen things up a bit in the evening since Jordan was doubling anyway. He had four on tap but I held myself to two, largely comprising some grass loops around Andrews Park.

Also of note, I received the remainder of my summer training from Coach Simmons and I'm eager to get to work. It looks like the mileage will stay fairly consistent with what I've been doing, which is good, but the intensity will drop back significantly. Most of my workouts will be based on effort and will consist of shorter, fartlek-type sessions. The plan is to return to Charlotte in mid-August with a solid base of fitness and fresh legs.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Pickard Miles

18-19 min. w/u (2.5 miles)
Target: 4-5xmile @6:10-6:20 w/2 min. rest
Actual: 6:10, 6:12, 6:13, 6:10
13 min. c/d (1.5 miles)
8.5-9 miles
Wind: 15 mph
15 mins. core (no really, I swear!)

Against his will, Jeff permitted me to do a "baby workout" today. That said, he advised I not run much faster than half-marathon pace, so this is what we came up with. I recruited Kristi to come along for the fun and Jordan/Mr. Garmin to set the pace, so we agreed to meet just after 8:30am. None of us felt the need to do this on the track since the pace wasn't blazing, so we opted to use the "Pickard mile" (Pickard/Lindsey to Pickard/Imhoff) as our out-and-back section of choice. Since the wind was blowing out of the south, this meant that miles 1 and 3 would be slightly downhill but into a headwind, while 2 and 4 would consequently be slightly uphill but with the wind at our backs. Sort of evened things out, I suppose.

Overall, this effort felt very comfortable for me. It wasn't until the final mile that I felt my breathing quicken noticeably. I attribute this more to the blazing heat (already mid-80s by 9:00) than the pace. Kristi was a trooper and ran with me on the first three before heading home, while Jordan was a metronome as per usual and kept the pace in check. We opted to jog the two minutes between each interval to make the workout feel more continuous, so overall this was a solid effort. I could've done the fifth interval without straining the legs too much, but it was simply too hot and I was sweating too much to make it worth my while.

Upon returning home, Jordan and I did some real actual core work, which I've been completely neglecting since I came to Oklahoma. Now that our half-marathon training is largely over, we want to start incorporating some "extras" like core, plyos and strides into our daily routine, and today was as good as any to start.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Double?? Who Does That?

AM: 59 mins.
8 miles
PM: 32 mins. + 4x100m strides
4.5-5 miles

Jordan and I got a late start this morning, so he only had time to run four miles before getting ready for work. Since I don't have such responsibilities, I opted to continue running and mosey up to OK Runner where I could retrieve my car once he brought it. The ~2 miles up Robinson into a stiff headwind were a real treat, as were the sweltering temps, but fortunately Jordan was waiting for me outside OK Runner with cold water and a towel. See, he can be nice sometimes.

In the evening I reaaaally didn't want to double, mostly because I was hungry (and lazy), but Jordan had promised Scotty that he would put in a few minutes with him after Scotty closed up shop at 7:00. Not wanting to sit around and be bored by myself, I reluctantly joined in, but I have to say I'm very glad I did. Not only was it cooler, less humid and less windy than 12 hours prior, but my legs felt fantastic. The boys jumped into some in-and-out laps as soon as we hit the Norman High track, but I opted to kick off my shoes and run barefoot on the Astroturf infield instead. I absolutely love the feeling of running barefoot--it always makes me feel strong and healthy--and tonight I was consciously grateful for every step. It was only a few months ago that it took me 10 excruciating minutes to put on my right shoe because my foot hurt so badly, but tonight there was absolutely no trace of my old injury. I capped things off with some barefoot strides/buildups on the football field and loved every step.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Unlucky Run

48 mins.
6.66 miles

Had I known we'd ended this run at exactly 6.66 miles, I would've probably jogged another minute or two. Hopefully no bad luck will ensue. At any rate, the run was fine. We dropped off our PT Cruiser (good riddance) at the rental place at 8:00 and then decided to kill two birds with one stone and run home. Jogged up 36th, down the bike path on Robison, took a spin around North Base and then headed home. The legs still don't feel sore, but are a bit more fatigued than I'd previously realized. Hopefully a few more days of easy running will bring things back to normal.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Week in Review

53 miles
13.1 miles in Joplin
8 hours in the PT Cruiser
3 days with family
10 (at least) cookies

Me, Jerry, Jordan and some other unimportant people at the start
of yesterday's race

Well, there's not much to say about this week that hasn't already been recapped in Saturday's race entry. I'm neither pleased nor upset about my race performance, not satisfied but not terribly disappointed either. I simply did the best I could given the conditions at hand, and "the best I could" just wasn't that great. I'm still glad I put in some quality training over the past month, glad I ran the race and most of all glad I had the opportunity to spend some long-overdue quality time with family. If nothing else, I've come away with a better grasp of my long division skills thanks to Preston's mathematic acuity.

As I've mentioned before, both Scott and Jeff have advised that I "rest" between now and August. To that I would say, have either of them ever met me?? So while I'm taking their instructions under advisement, I'm not making any steadfast promises. I may even have a super secret race on tap in a few weeks, but without any solid information I'm hesitant to say more. I suppose the best part of my race experience this weekend is that I've come away from it eager to improve and to become a "serious" runner again, and that's a good feeling.

Not Gonna Happen

Day off

To be honest, part of me wanted to run today. I wasn't sore from yesterday's race, which is supremely disappointing, but I'm sure my body could still use the rest. (As an aside, I'm pretty sure this is my first exercise-free day since Easter Sunday.) So Jordan and I spent the morning sleeping in, drinking coffee, watching the Spongebob Squarepants movie with Kelly and Preston and attending their church. We capped off the trip with Mexican food and cookies before departing the Show Me State. It was great to spend time with family this weekend, and I'll admit I was long overdue on visit, so I'm definitely glad we made the trip.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Boomtown Days Half Marathon

~1 mile w/u + strides
13.1 miles in 1:24:42 (minus ~50 secs. bathroom break, obviously)
0.00 mile c/d
Total: 14-14.5 miles
3rd overall female

First of all, big thanks to Jilane, Tush, Jeff and Ozzie for their blog shout-outs. I do this for the fans.

Secondly, this race sucked. Or maybe I sucked and the race was just fine. At any rate, whoever put together the elevation chart for this run certainly wasn't a math major (and, for that matter, wasn't even as good at math as my seven-year-old cousin Preston, who wowed us at dinner Friday night with his swift addition, subtraction and multiplication skills that included negative numbers).

Anyhow, let me start from the beginning. Jordan and I made it safely to Joplin and to my Aunt Kelly's house yesterday evening and enjoyed dinner and family time before hitting the hay early. We were on the road to the race bright and early at 6am, and managed to easily find parking and secure our chips and numbers by 6:30. This left us a bit of time for jogging around and otherwise warming up before the 7am start. At this point the sun was already peaking through on the horizon and the air was fraught with humidity--in short, it promised to be a typical steamy summer morning in the Midwest. Not ideal race conditions, but certainly no different than what we were expecting.

The gun went off at 7am sharp and we were on our way. I quickly spotted a few other speedy ladies in the mix, although no one who looked as though they could light the world on fire, so I decided to take off conservatively and see how the first few miles played out. Though I felt like I was jogging, I passed the first mile marker in just under 6:10 (also, side note here: since I didn't have Jordan's Garmin and I'm fairly incapable of operating even a standard Timex watch, I don't have splits for each mile). I felt absolutely great the first five miles, clicking off splits in the 6:08-6:15 range fairly easily (31:10ish through five, I believe). I soon learned that this would be my fastest section of the course, as just past five miles we started what would be a steady ascent for virtually the entire second half of the course.

Also, naturally, this was the point in the race where I realized that I would, um, have to make a bathroom stop. Those of you who have ever run with me know this is pretty much the norm, although I would've liked to not have to deal with it during a race situation. However, stopping was better than any conceivable alternative, so when I spotted a port-a-potty around 7.5 miles I ducked in. To be honest, part of me was grateful for the break, as we'd already been climbing steadily for over two miles at this point. I doubt I would've run faster than 6:30 for that mile regardless, but with the stop included I clicked my watch at 7:15, so you can do the math as to how this impacted my total time (I'll give you a hint, it didn't help).

For the remaining five miles I was pretty much in the hurt tank. None of the hills were particularly steep, but they seemed to just keep coming and coming. Every time we rounded a corner I expected to find some relief, only to find that the course continued to go uphill. I helplessly watched my splits hover in the 6:25-6:30 range and knew that survival was the only goal going forward. I simply could not find a groove in the second half of the race, what with the sun climbing higher in the sky and the unrelenting terrain. It was all I could do to keep it together to the tape, as I wogged the final 1.1 in 7:10.

After the race, I sat on the curb with Jordan and our friend Jerry absolutely dripping sweat--I looked like I'd taken a dive headfirst into a swimming pool--and completely exhausted. When Jerry asked, "Do you guys want to do a cool down?", my response was, "Not really." So we didn't.

I'll let Jordan tell the story from his perspective when he gets around to blogging, but he ran an extremely tough race, finishing 4th behind three Kips in just under 69 minutes. On another course I know he is fit enough to run 66, just as I think/hope I'm capable of running under 1:22, but today wasn't stellar for either of us. I will say that for a first-time event the race was extremely well-organized and everything ran incredibly smoothly, so props to the Boomtown folks and race director Audie Dennis for putting all the pieces together. Perhaps we will be back next year with a better idea of what the course will be like and a tougher mental mindset. For now, it's time to enjoy a few days of rest and relaxation.

Thanks, Boomtown Run. It's been pretty real.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Destination: Joplin

43 mins. + strides
6 miles

The legs felt great this morning on our short shakeout jaunt. Shortly after 2pm we hit the road in our rental car (which was a PT Cruiser and NOT the Pontiac G6 we were promised), bound for Joplin. A few weeks ago a customer at the store said, "Wow, it's sure pretty up there" when Jordan and I mentioned we were headed to Joplin for a race. I would contend that this man was confusing Joplin with another locale, seeing as how I've spent quite a few Thanksgivings and other holidays there with my mom's side of the family and never once thought, "Wow, it's sure pretty up here." That said, I'm excited to spend the weekend visiting family that I haven't seen in a while and (hopefully) watching Jordan bring home the big bucks.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Date with Kristi and Mr. Garmin

61 mins.
8+ miles

Because I'd pre-planned a run with Kristi at 9:30, I enjoyed sleeping through Jordan's entire morning run. Kristi and I met up along Jenkins and embarked on a simple route up Lindsey, across 24th and back down the bike path on Robinson before heading back to Main Street.

Since I wasn't running with Jordan for the first time in forever, he offered to let me use his beloved Garmin. I had no idea what to do with it, but he showed me a few key buttons and assured me that it wasn't difficult. It seemed to work fine for the first few miles, until about halfway through the run when I looked down to discover it was displaying some sort of bar graph telling me the percentage of accuracy. Percentage of accuracy for what, I'm not sure, nor did I care, but I couldn't find the right button to push to take me back to my data screen. After fiddling with it for a few minutes I decided to leave it alone, only to look down several minutes later at a full-screen compass of some sort. I'll give it some credit, I was indeed headed due north, but I was still more interested in knowing my distance and pace than the fact that I was making my way directly to the North Pole. At any rate, no combination of buttons I pushed seemed to change things, so after several frustrating minutes stopped at an intersection I decided to just leave it alone. Sure enough, a mile or so later it miraculously went back to displaying precisely the information I was looking for. Go figure.

Oh, and the run felt great. Legs are feeling fresh. The few mile splits I did catch were 7:07, 7:10, thereabouts. Now all I need to do is run a minute per mile faster on Saturday for five more miles...no biggie.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Running is Boring; Let's Talk Movies Instead

58 mins.
8 miles

Nothing too exciting to report today, just got in some easy miles around town with Jordan and Scotty. We did put in about half of this run on the OU rec fields, which can be a bit repetitive but at least affords plenty of soft surfaces. I'm feeling a bit sluggish compared to Monday, no doubt a result of the blazing speed I threw down on those four hundos yesterday, but I supposet that's to be expected come taper time.

Rather than leave you with this lackluster posting, I thought I'd pass along some movie reviews. Jordan and I have been on a bit of a Red Box tear as of late (which we watch on his Mac since we have nothing in the way of a DVD player or a TV manufactured before 1992). Our first selection, Revolutionary Road, was deemed unacceptable by Jordan because there was "too much talking" and Kate Winslet "isn't attractive." I would beg to differ slightly on count two, though not on count one, and simply add that while I found the movie to be a realistic (albeit heartbreaking) portrayal of 1950's suburban discontent, I certainly would not recommend it to anyone who is already in a less than cheery mood.

Second on our list was Taken, an action flick that casts Liam "I-want-my-daughter-back" Neeson in an atypical role as an angry avenger pitted against, well, everyone. Jordan gives this picture two guns up, while I would agree that it was entertaining if not edifying. (Favorite monologue, Neeson on the phone with adversary: "I have a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.") Bad. Ass.

Our next selection, The Wrestler, is probably our most highly-rated film to date, though I found it too visceral and difficult to watch in some scenes (I'll leave you with the words "wrestling match," "staple gun" and "barbed wire"--you can fill in the blanks). Mickey Rourke, virtually unrecognizable (and virtually indistinguishable in real life from his character Randy "the Ram" Robinson), gives a brilliant turn in a film that shoulda-coulda-woulda won him the Oscar this year.

And finally, we'll close this chapter with last night's viewing of Rachel Getting Married. Jordan apparently forgot to put on his big boy pants for this one, as he deemed it "boring" and, you guessed it, "too much talking," but I was mesmerized by Anne Hathaway's portrayal of a drug-addicted nightmare of a wedding guest fresh out of rehab to ruin her sister's big day. An Oscar nomination well deserved for a performance that is richly-layered and subtly nuanced throughout.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Boomtown Half Marathon Pre-Race

21 min. w/u (~3 miles)
Target: 2xmile @6:00-6:10 w/3 mins. rest; 2x400@72-76
Actual: 5:56, 6:00, 74.4, 73.6
18 min. c/d (2+ miles)
Total: 8 miles
Wind: 16mph gusting to 22mph

Today's pre-race "workout" was a nice, relaxed session aimed at finding race pace and turning the legs over a few times. It would've been a breeze (pun intended) had it not been so, well, breezy outside. Having the wind in our face on the final turn and half of the home straight meant that it was never really at your back, but fortunately today's intervals were designed to be pretty easy regardless.

Three minutes is a considerable amount of rest when you're not particularly fatigued from the intervals in the first place (considering I ran 4xmile on Friday at a quicker pace with 1/3 of the rest), but I tried to keep it honest by following Jordan and Scotty's lead and jogging a lap between each. This meant I had less than a minute of standing around once I got back to the start line while sneaking in a bit of extra time on the feet. Also--and I realize this is sad--I was quite pleased with how relaxed I felt on the 400s, given that I haven't run a single step faster than 80-second pace since before I got injured.

Nothing but easy running on tap between now and Saturday.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Dear Splashpad Manager, You Suck.

57 mins.
8 miles

Jordan suggested we get in some "heat training" by running later in the morning today, which I agreed to on the condition that we could finish up the run at the Andrews Park splashpad. He was happy to comply, so shortly after 10:30 we hit the roads. By two miles in, Jordan said out loud what I had been thinking: "My legs feel the best they've felt in at least four days." Sure enough, both of us felt quite peppy, to the point where the pace dipped below 7:00 without me noticing. I'm usually more in the 7:10-7:20 range on easy runs, but today the pace came easily.

Just over halfway through our run, we came up on Kristi at the corner of Chatauqua and Timberdell. Stopping to talk to her for a few minutes was the perfect excuse to enjoy a respite from the 80+ degree temps, but eventually we set off again. I could sense my excitement mounting as we passed through campus and headed in the direction of the park. I could almost feel the cool and refreshing water from the splashpad and was literally counting down the minutes until we got there. Imagine, then, my chagrin when we arrived only to discover that it was OUT OF ORDER. Yes, that's correct. The splashpad was splash-less. To say I was devastated would be like saying that Jeff likes to take his shirt off at parties: a gross understatement.

Dear splashpad manager, you suck.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Week in Review

66-67 miles
2 days in Ohio
1 day in Ft. Worth
4 hours of valet parking
2 new running friends

Another solid week of training in the books, minus Tuesday's botched workout, and I'm feeling pretty fit headed into next weekend's race. To be honest, not being eligible for any prize money really takes the pressure off; instead I'm just out there to run hard and put in a good effort. Obviously I would like to run a PR and somewhat redeem myself for a lackluster outdoor season, but whether I do or don't it's not going to drastically impact my life.

Both Scott and Jeff have advised that I take some time off after the half, but as I was telling Jordan the other day, I've really enjoyed getting into a routine and establishing some consistency. I'm hoping to find a few other pursuits to divert my attention for the rest of the summer, including but not limited to tennis and perhaps something yoga-esque. For now, it's time to focus for one more week and hope for the best.

People Like Me. They Really Like Me.

88 mins.
12 miles
Wind: 16-20mph

Today was a very exciting day for me--and probably equally so for Jordan--because I actually met up with and ran with girls! Other than running with Kristi a few weeks ago at Lake Draper, this was the first time since moving to Norman that I didn't have to spend the entire run worried about slowing down the boys. As I said, I'm sure they were just as happy about it as I was.

At any rate, thanks to Jordan's social coordinating efforts, I met up with Jenny Graef and Andrea Larabee at Sutton this morning. Jenny is a grad student at OU and Andrea is a local and both of them are pretty serious runners. Jenny was actually leading the OKC Marathon until she passed out from heat exhaustion near mile 22, and is just now getting back on the training saddle after taking some recovery time.

Jordan, Scotty and I left Main Street together and made the ~2 mile jog up to our meeting spot before parting ways for the rest of the run. The girls and I set off from the far parking lot at Sutton, then made a loop in the trails before hitting the streets. We traversed the now-familiar roads near our apartment, past campus and beside some of the local parks before heading back in the direction from which we'd come. The pace was relaxed and conversational, but by the 75-minute mark I was feeling fatigued due to the rising heat and humidity and the brisk breeze. I turned back at the corner of Jones and Robinson, as I'd told Scotty and Jordan I'd meet them back at the casa, and bid adieu to my new friends and (fingers crossed) new running partners.

The rest of the day was spent as any Sunday should be, reading the paper, drinking coffee and enjoying a homemade breakfast. We also watched the always-exciting Prefontaine Classic on TV and there may or may not have been a nap involved at some point as well. Now that we're less than a week out from the race, we need as much rest and recovery time as possible. Or at least that's how I'm justifying it.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

She Works Hard for the Money

60-61 mins.
8 miles
Wind: 20-24mph

This morning we put in an easy eight at Sutton with Scotty D. The weather is heating up in a hurry around here and I have a feeling that 8am start times are about to be a thing of the past, but at least on the shaded trails of Sutton the conditions were bearable.

We got in another workout of sorts this evening, only in much nicer clothes and slightly different footwear, valet parking cars at Scotty's sister's friend's wedding (you got that?). In addition to the ten bucks an hour plus tips we were also afforded access to the open bar and several plates of the catered food. Jordan also may or may not have coerced me into snagging several almost-full bottles of wine at night's end, with the hopes of subsequently turning them into a tasty batch of sangria. Yes, this is indeed what both my social and professional lives have devolved into on a Saturday night.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Miles at Norman High

20 min. w/u (2.5 miles)
Target: 4xmile @6:00 w/1 min. rest
Actual: 5:57, 5:55, 5:54, 5:43
22 min. c/d (~3 miles)
Total: 9-9.5 miles

Jordan, Scotty and I started at the same time (granted they were aiming to run almost a minute faster per mile than me, but who's counting) on a sunny yet fairly mild morning at the Norman High track. The breeze was a bit stiff on the homestretch but its effects on the pace were negligible, so overall it was a pretty great morning to be on the track.
On paper this workout looked pretty easy...until I noticed there was only a minute rest between repeats. That would definitely kick the intensity up a notch, but I still felt confident I could hit the splits.

After coming through the first mile in 5:57 with little difficulty I could tell things would go well. In hindsight, I could've used this as an opportunity to really open up the legs and test myself, but that wasn't necessarily the objective of the workout so I resisted. Even with only a minute recovery I felt comfortable gradually squeezing down the pace per mile, and it wasn't until the last go that I decided to really push myself. My goal was to run sub-5:50, but when Jordan and Scotty joined in to tow me along the last half mile I knew I would come through much faster. That said, I was still surprised to see 5:43 on the watch without going to the well.

We finished things off with a delightful barefoot mile on the infield before putting our kicks back on and hoofing it back home. Except for a pre-race on Tuesday, this is our last workout before the half, so I'm pleased to have ended on such a positive note.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Back on the Streets of Norman

72 mins.
10.5 miles

Due to yesterday's travel we postponed our "half and half" 10-miler to today. Despite the cooler weather this morning my legs were feeling a bit flat and I was wary of the northern wind (which I forgot to look up online, hence not posting the speed above, but I'd put it at 10-15mph). As per usual, I ran 30 minutes solo before joining up with Jordan near our casa on Main St. We jogged another mile before jumping into my tempo, splitting the first mile in 6:31.

While I never felt great on this outing, I definitely felt better than on last week's similar run, at least through three miles. A long uphill into the wind on Timberdell on mile three zapped me (although, paradoxically, this was my fastest mile) and I was left with just enough energy to let Jordan pull me through at the end. My tempo splits in their entirety were 6:31, 6:34, 6:23, 6:32, 6:22.

Jordan also informed me today that he doesn't want to play tennis again until after the race. He claims it's because he's "being smart" for a change, but I'm pretty sure it has something to do with the hurt I put on him last week.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Happy Birthday, Jordan! Now Go Rent a Car.

59 mins. + 4x10 sec. hill sprints
8 miles

When Jordan and I landed at DFW after our early morning flight, we were greeted by an unexpected text from Craig saying we didn't have to come in to work. With the day suddenly wide open, we decided to make an impromptu trip to Ft. Worth and visit a few friends, namely
my great friend and former running partner Cindy. She just gave birth to a baby girl a week ago and I was excited to pay her and Eloise Grace a visit.

After hanging out at her house for a bit, Jordan and I decided to go for a run. She lives near Rivercrest Country Club and the Trinity River Trails that I'm so familiar with (and, more importantly, had graciously offered us food, beverage and shower after the run) so we set off with the goal of getting in an hour on our feet and a few hill sprints up the infamous Hidden Road.

The day was warm and humid but thankfully overcast, and we enjoyed winding around on the golf course, through the neighborhoods and along the crushed gravel path of the trail. We finished up with the hill sprints and a few more loops on the golf course before heading back to Cindy's. After visiting with her for a few more hours, we went to pay a quick visit to another friend and former running buddy Cabe and his four-legged friend Quest. We capped off the day with a spontaneous dinner meeting with Aja in Ardmore before finally returning to Norman. What a great day, and such a special treat to see so many familiar faces

Meet Eloise Grace Craine and her proud mom Cindy

Oh yeah, and it's Jordan's birthday. He can now rent a car and do all sorts of other big-boy things.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Loveland Bike Trail Workout

2 mile w/u
Target: 3x3 miles @6:05-6:10 w/2 min. rest
Actual: (6:18, 6:11, 6:14); (6:08, 6:20, 6:15); (6:25 aaaand stop)
~1.5 mile c/d

Total: 10.5 miles

Well, I suppose I was due a botched workout. The past few weeks have gone unusually well, after all. I won't blame this on the fact that it was already a steamy 80 degrees when we started the run at 10am, or that the sun was beating down relentlessly, or that we stayed up past 1am drinking wine on the patio with Eloisa and Glenn...but none of those things exactly helped, either.

On a positive note, Jordan and
I found a great new place to run the next time we're in Ohio. It's probably a 10-15 minute drive from the house and definitely off the beaten path down some winding country roads, but the inconvenience is definitely worth it. Whitney said this bike path runs over 80 miles, and while we never confirmed that, we did see mile markers in the 37-39 range on our section of the trail, so that figure seems likely. The path is straight, flat, and somewhat shaded throughout, making it pretty much an ideal training surface for cyclists and runners alike.

A section of the Loveland bike path where our workout took place.
We saw a fox, a deer and a turtle on our run--definitely more wildlife
than people.

As I mentioned above, there were mile markers on the trail, but since we didn't really know where they started or ended from we planned on marking our own splits. As per usual, Jordan had the Garmin and I did not, which meant I wouldn't really have any idea of splits. Being the resourceful guy that he is, Jordan came up with the idea of filling a few plastic baggies with flour which he would then drop/spill/scatter as he passed each mile marker so I would know where it was. So that's what we did, Hansel and Gretel style, and it worked out splendidly.

As for my workout itself, the splits pretty much tell the sordid tale. It was just too hot and humid for me to ever feel comfortable out there. Even though I never felt terrible, I was never able to get into a groove, and the legs simply refused to turn over at the prescribed pace. When I split the first mile of the final segment so slowly, I pretty much decided to cut my losses. I found out a few minutes later that Jordan did the same, only he turned his final segment into a 3xmile with some rest in between instead. I suppose I could've/should've done that too, but by that point I was too hot and sweaty and tired to care very much. Hopefully I can redeem myself on Friday.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Monday in Mason

61-62 mins.
8+ miles

Day #2 of sleeping in was just as fantastic as Day #1, even if it meant we didn't head out the door until well after 10. No matter, since we just had an easy eight on tap. We covered some familiar territory through the nearby park, back up to the grass fields where Tyler and Madison played their games (yay for a mile or two on soft surfaces) and back on the local bike path.

I could get used to this whole "being on vacation" business.