Sunday, November 29, 2009

Week in Review

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

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

Wrapping Up the Weekend

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 27, 2009

Afternoon Yoga

90 mins. P90X yoga

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

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

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Mini-Jordan Hits the Streets

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Too Sick For Thanksgiving?!?!

AM: 60 mins. yoga

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

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Back in Mason

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

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

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

Update Soon

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

Monday, November 23, 2009

Big Kids' Nationals

~3-4 miles
Lots of running around

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

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

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

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Angel Mounds Recovery

40 mins.
5 miles

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

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

Saturday, November 21, 2009

NCAA DII National Championships

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 20, 2009

Nationals Course Preview

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Are We There Yet?

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

McAlpine Mile Repeats

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

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

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

Monday, November 16, 2009

Busy Monday

AM: 4 miles
PM: 45 mins. ellip.

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

Three days until we leave for Nationals!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Week in Review

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

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

The Miles Just Keep On Coming

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

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

>>>this guy<<<

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

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

Saturday, November 14, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 13, 2009

Jogging With Jenna

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

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

Thursday, November 12, 2009


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

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

...and the water continues to rise.

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

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

12x400? Really??

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Taking a Break

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

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

Monday, November 9, 2009

Jordan is an Idiot

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

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

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

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Week in Review

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

Almost a real runner again!

Enjoying the Sunshine

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Southeast Regional Championships

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

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

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

Pre-race prayer with QU Athletic Director Jeannie King

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

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

The elusive Dark Knight caught on film while tracking our race

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

Doing work

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

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

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

Oscar's photo finish

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

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

Friday, November 6, 2009

Hotel, Motel...Knight's Inn

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 5, 2009

One Day at a Time

Thursday, 11/5
5.5 miles
2x20 water pump extensions=80

Wednesday, 11/4
AM: 45 mins. ellip.
PM: 3-3.5 miles
2x20 water pump extensions=80

As of Thursday, the hip seems to have taken a slight step back in terms of the way it feels, no doubt because of Tuesday's workout. Jordan all but forced me not to cross-train on Thursday afternoon, so hopefully this will make a difference in the way I feel come Regionals.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Let's Do This

AM: 30 mins. ellip.
15 mins. core
PM: 3.5 mile w/u
6x800m @ 2:56, 2:55, 2:56, 2:58, 3:02, 2:55
1.5 mile c/d
Total: 8 miles

Today's workout was the first I've done with the other girls on the team. They had a pre-race of 3x800, 2x400 on tap, while I was planning to keep the 800s going. Coach Simmons planned for us to run this workout on the third mile of the Footlocker course, which is mostly wooded and slightly rolling. My main goal was just to tuck in behind the lead girls (Maraya, Holly and Jess, with Jenna setting the pace) and try not to die.

After settling into a somewhat comfortable pace on the first interval I knew I would be able to hang in there. Jenna helped out a ton by running with me after the other girls started their 400s around the pond, and without her I'm sure I wouldn't have run as "fast" as I did. As for the hip, I definitely felt awkward the first 10 meters or so of each interval, but developed a rhythm after that. I'm a bit anxious to see how it will feel tomorrow, but as of now I'm pleased to make it through the workout in one piece.

Also of note, this time change is ridic. We were running in pretty much pitch darkness by the cooldown.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Monday From Boyce

AM: 50 mins. ellip. incl. 6x3 mins. on, 2 mins. off
2x20 water pump extensions=80
PM: ~5.5 miles

This was a great start to the week, as everything felt good after my "long run" yesterday. Jordan picked me up from work at 3 and we pretty much headed straight to McAlpine to meet Tanya and Sean. Too bad Sean doesn't live here anymore, because I think the four of us would make a sweet little training group. Anyhow, we met at Boyce for the second day in a row, which I'm always a fan of. It allows for a mile and a half each way on the back trails, plus the parking lot has bathrooms (Old Bell does not) and a baseball/soccer field for strides and the like.

Though I wanted to run longer than 5, common sense and my looming 6pm class mandated otherwise. Instead I turned around once Tanya and I reached the start of the Footlocker course, then coasted my way back to the parking lot. I have 6x800 on tap tomorrow--more or less my first real workout since early August (not counting Friday's baby effort), so I'm both excited and nervous to get out there. Here's to hoping.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Week in Review

28 miles
3 hours 50 mins. elliptical
30 mins. pool
27 years
4 AFDs

This week was action-packed on all fronts, and though I spent much of it exhausted I feel great about what I accomplished. My road to recovery finally feels smooth, and I'm growing increasingly excited about racing with the team at Regionals next weekend. The women have set their sights on making it to Nationals as a team, and if I can even play the smallest part in making that happen then I will be satisfied with my performance.

Also, this week has reaffirmed to me how wonderful my friends and family are. The cards, phone calls, Facebook wishes and general shout-outs I received on my birthday were amazing. Knowing that these people love me in spite of my shortcomings and general dorkiness is humbling. To sum it up best, a quote from one of my favorite films: "The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool."

Meb Is Awesome and I Am Old

AM: NYC Marathon
PM: 8 miles
2x20 water pump extensions=80

So, today I turned 27. Thi
s is significant, as I believe it officially marks the end of my mid-20s and the beginning of my late-20s. Essentially, I am almost 30. While this thought is not one I greet with any particular enthusiasm, I do have to say that as far as birthdays go this one was pretty great. Though I didn't do anything super spectacular or exciting, after a crazy week of work and school it was just what I needed.

The cougar with her prey

The morning started off early with a screening of the NYC Marathon. Jordan already did a thorough job of recapping this experience, so I'll link you to his blog for the details. Simply put, Meb ran amazingly. So did our friend Pat Tarpy...for about 35k. At any rate, it was a lot of fun to nerd out with Tanya, Sean and Jenna and spend a few hours watching history unfold. (By the way, the last time an American won NYC before today was in 1982...which was the year of my birth. And now Meb wins on my birthday. Coincidence? I think not. You're welcome, America.)

By the time the race concluded and we'd grabbed a snack, it was well past 1pm. Tanya, Sean, Jordy and I headed out to McAlpine for our respective long runs. Mine, of course, was the shortest, but the 8 miles I was attempting would be a pretty big deal for me. We started from Boyce, running through the wooded back trails before reaching the main trail with nothing but the sound of leaves crunching beneath our feet. Tanya and I let the boys go ahead and fell into an easy pace, though of course I was still laboring. When we reached the Footlocker course, facing a decent headwind into the first mile, I really started huffing and puffing. I was about to get discouraged unt
il I happened to check our split at the first mile marker and saw that it read 6:50. Whoops. Definitely above my fitness right now. Nonetheless, we kept the pace pretty brisk (for me) for the next few miles, and when I split from Tanya to head back to the car I decided to keep the hammer down. It felt amazing to cover the first 7 miles right around 7-minute pace and then cool down uphill to the parking lot. This is something that only fellow runners would understand, but enjoying an hour run pain-free with my friends was pretty much the best birthday present I could've asked for.

Sean is the only person in the world who is older than me.

In the evening, we rounded up the group once again and headed out to dinner in NoDa. There wasn't much happening on a Sunday night, but I was happy just to share some good food and good conversation with my friends. And the Nutella Peanut Butter Pie for dessert certainly didn't hurt. All in all, I couldn't have picked a better way to spend my 27th birthday.