Sunday, January 31, 2010

Week in Review

62 miles
20 mins. ellip.
4 AFDs
2 snow days

I'm very pleased with this week. I added a few more miles from last week, completed two solid workouts and soldiered through a very snowy run at McAlpine. More importantly, my body has handled the additional stress remarkably well. I'm feeling strong and much closer to being fit than I have in a very long time. Next weekend's 5k at the Armory will be my first true test of fitness, and I'm both excited and anxious to see what these old legs can do.

Slow and Sloppy McAlpine Run

76 mins. (9.5-10 miles)

I met Jess at Old Bell for today's long-ish run, uncertain but hopeful about the trail's conditions. As it turned out, this run more or less sucked. The snow was several inches deep and too soft in most places to support our weight, which essentially meant we were sinking in and spinning our wheels for most of the run. There were several miles on the Footlocker course that weren't too bad (possibly because it was under tree cover and therefore didn't see as much precip hit the ground?), but overall this was a very slow and frustrating go. On the bright side, the landscape was beautiful and the sun kept temperatures very comfortable throughout.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Snow Day Shenanigans

6 miles

The winter storm we'd all been preparing for came to fruition last night and throughout the day today, blanketing the entire state with more ice and snow than it's seen in quite some time. That meant virtually every activity involving driving was canceled today, including the team's meet at Chapel Hill and my shift at Run For Your Life. Jordan and I planned to spend the day inside reading, watching movies, drinking cocoa and other
wise enjoying being snowed in.

Fixing up some hot cocoa in his robe and slippies

But first, of course, we ventured out for a run. Jordan may have spent four years dealing with these conditions while at Brown, but as a lifelong Southerner I'm still captivated by the novelty of winter weather. Neither of us were too concerned with pace or distance, so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to take some photos of the white landscape while meandering around a familiar route. Just after leaving the house, we made an impromptu decision to trek down to Run For Your Life and pay the staff a visit. Though most of us had been called off, a few brave souls would still be purveying footwear despite the inclement weather. It took right around three miles for us to reach the store after detouring down the bike path and past Freedom Park. We saw a few other runners, nodding our mutual respect as we passed, but for the most part the only folks outside were kids and families who were playing in the white stuff.

Mythbusting in Freedom Park

Surprisingly, RFYL was bustling when we arrived at the halfway point of our run. I'm thinking it speaks volumes for the expertise of the store staff if people are willing to risk their lives for footwear, right? Is it too obvious I'm angling for a raise? At any rate, we spent several minutes chatting with Tim and Ben and enjoying a warm break. Once we'd worn out our welcome, it was time to hit the streets once more and return home to settle in for the long haul. Snow days might grow boring after a while, but when they come this few and far between they're a rare treat.

You can barely see the bike path beneath the snow.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Racing the Weather

2.5 mile w/u
3 mile predator @ 17:52 (5:58, 5:59, 5:55)
2.5 mile c/d
Total: 8 miles

The impending inclement weather was on everyone's minds this morning, so Jess and I planned to go to McAlpine for our workout immediately following her morning class. Though no precip was falling at the time, it wasn't much of a stretch to imagine what would unfold later in the day. Thick, low-lying clouds, temperatures in the low 40s and falling, and a stiff, blustery wind greeted us upon our arrival at Old Bell. There wasn't much dilly-dallying before beginning our warmup.

As soon as we got started, it became apparent that the trail would be running much slower than usual. Normally the densely-packed dirt is almost as firm as your average neighborhood street, but apparently Parks and Rec had recently added more soil in response to last week's heavy rainfall. As a result, many sections of the trail were as soft and uneven as running on a beach. I wouldn't mind during a normal run, but for today's hard effort it would prove frustrating.

After some debate, Jess and I decided to be as un-creative as usual and stick with a familiar course: out and back from the one mile mark on the Footlocker course. This meant that we'd have a nice little tailwind boost early on, but would face a stiff headwind for the last mile or so of the run. Makes you tougher, I suppose. We started out at a brisk clip but due to the wind assistance I felt like I was jogging. In fact, I felt amazing all the way to the turnaround point despite the iffy terrain. By the time I hit the 2-mile marker, however, the wind had begun to wear me down. The section from 2 to 2.5 felt like an absolute crawl; sure enough, I went through the half mile mark in 3:03, my slowest section yet. I dug in and increased the effort as much as possible toward the end, surprising myself by closing in 2:52. It definitely didn't feel easy, but in the end I ran 25 seconds faster than on this exact same workout two weeks ago. Further, the weather conditions were perfect on that day and the dirt was a non-issue, which makes today's run that much better than the previous one. I'm still not fit, but it's satisfying to see that I'm getting there.

Speaking of satisfying, after one of the best hot showers I've experienced, the rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing with coffee and peanut butter M&Ms. The first flurries began to fly around 5, and it occurred to us that we should probably fortify our supplies for the weekend ahead. What started as an innocent and well-intentioned trip to the grocery store turned into a huge mistake. Apparently everyone within a five mile radius of Dilworth/Myers Park was convinced that the apocalypse was upon us and thus needed to stock up on necessities like milk, frozen pizza and alcohol. The line for the self-checkout was backed up farther than at a Jonas Brothers album signing, and we spent a good 30 minutes queueing up with the masses in hopes of taking home our own rations of said necessities. It was absolute chaos. Fortunately we made it home before the streets became undriveable and settled in for the night. Stay tuned for winter wonderland photos tomorrow morning!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Twice in a Row

AM: 57 mins. (~8 miles)
PM: 3 miles + strength

Yup, you're reading the title correctly. For the second day in a row, we managed to drag ourselves out of bed and complete our entire run before the sun came up. I'm beginning to think we could actually make this into a weekly routine (but don't hold me to that just steps). And I will say that while the whole "waking up" process still sucks, I've noticed that I have more energy throughout the day on the days I've gotten up early. During times when I expected to be tired and dragging, I've been surprisingly awake and alert. Further, I've started feeling better during the early runs as well. Today we finished up with a noticeably faster clip than the previous two runs I've done with the CRC group, but my legs had no problem responding. I hate to say it, but I think I might be getting hooked on this early morning business.

I didn't necessarily need to double this afternoon but couldn't resist the opportunity to spend a few minutes outside in short sleeves and shorts in the unseasonably pleasant weather. It's hard to reconcile the 60-degree temperatures with the knowledge that we're bracing for a huge (relatively speaking) winter storm within the next 24 hours. I'm hoping to complete a late-morning workout tomorrow before things get rough, then settle in with a warm beverage and some reading for the rest of the day. Bring it, Mother Nature.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

6AM From the Dowd

AM: 52 mins. (7 miles)
PM: 20 mins. ellip.
20 mins. core + strength

Last night I set out my entire running costume for this morning, convinced it would make the 5:20 alarm slightly less painful. Believe it or not, my plan worked. That's not to say I bounded out of bed but there was definite progress from last week. The run itself was more enjoyable than last week as well, mostly because it didn't take six miles to get my legs under me. I still lagged toward the back of the group at the outset, but overall I think my body is growing accustomed to the cruel and unusual early morning demands I'm placing on it.

My trip to the fitness center in the afternoon was postponed when I was caught in a bizarre traffic jam trying to access the street from my apartment complex. Turns out the intersection of Park and Woodlawn--for those of you who don't reside in Charlotte, this is a major intersection that happens to be about a quarter mile from our apartment--was temporarily closed after a suspicious package was found on a city bus. The subsequent chaos resulted in me having to flip a U and return home for a bit. Fortunately no one exploded and an hour later I was able to move on with my life.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

First Shape Cutting of 2010

AM: 3 miles
PM: 2 mile w/u
Target: 12x400 w/90 sec. rest @~low 80s
Actual: 82, 82, 81, 80, 80, 80, 79, 79, 77, 75, 79, 77
2 mile c/d
Total: 7 miles

Wow, it's been a while since I've done any serious shape cutting. Four hundos are definitely not one of my favorite workouts, but since my foot speed is practically nonexistent they're a necessary evil. At any rate, due to a combination of many factors I ended up having to run this on my own, with Jenna standing by to call out a majority of the splits. Normally Jess and I would do this type of workout together but it was not meant to be today.

I left work at 3:00 on the dot and set out for the JC Smith track, eager to get started before temps dropped further. The weather has been all over the board the past few days, and at the time of my workout it was in the mid-40s and falling with winds gusting at a pretty brisk clip. Not ideal for a solo workout, but them's the breaks sometimes. After a quick warmup I jumped right into the first interval, apprehensive about how my legs would respond to both the speed and duration of the workout. The first few intervals were choppy and awkward as I tried to adjust to the variable wind. It seemed to be strongest on the home curve, but every few laps or so it would suddenly gust into my face on the backstretch. This added a challenging and not altogether pleasant element to the workout, but I suppose it makes you tougher. Despite the wind and to my pleasant surprise, I slowly started to feel better as the workout progressed. Looking back, I felt much smoother and more relaxed running several seconds per lap faster during the second half of the workout.

Overall, I'm pleased with how this went given my current fitness. Workouts like this are great benchmarks for future, and I'm sure within the coming months I'll have several opportunities to better my efforts today. For now, count it.

Monday, January 25, 2010

26 Gusting to 42

AM: 6 miles + strength
PM: 4 miles

As you've probably guessed, the title of my post refers to the wind speed in Charlotte today. Needless to say, my out-and-back along the bike path this afternoon was rather tough. The nice part about today's runs was that both of them were with Jordan, which is something that hasn't happened too much recently (mostly because I haven't doubled consistently since, oh, about July). It reminded me of living in Oklahoma last summer when we did virtually all of our runs together. I credit myself with helping Jordan stay uninjured (and, thus, becoming wildly successful) over the past year by making him run slow as molasses with me all the time. I'm sure he would agree.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Week in Review

60 miles
20 mins. elliptical
5 AFDs
10.5 laps at ETSU

Definitely another positive week, both in terms of mileage quantity and quality. I would've preferred to run a bit faster at the meet, but I'll take it as a step in the right direction. Now it's time to string together a few weeks of quality training before I give the 5k a go at the New Balance Invitational.

Going the Extra Mile

73 mins. (10 miles)

My day started when I awoke at 8:30 to Jordan standing over me and taunting, "I just ran 20 miles. What have you done today?" He's always showing off.

When I did get around to running--10am practice with the team at McAlpine--it pretty much sucked. It was rainy, McAlpine was a soggy mess, and my legs were tired and confused and more than slightly put out about having to run the day after an unusually hard effort. If it weren't for Jenna and Jess to keep me company, I would've really been hating life. Instead my hatred was moderate at worst. The silver lining was that, believe it or not, this is the longest run I've done since before I got injured in the fall. For some reason I've been stuck on a 9-mile plateau, but today I really overachieved.

Time to settle in with a warm cup of coffee and some homework. Ah, the perfect Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


20 min. w/u + strides (2.5 miles)
3k race @ 10:23
24 min. c/d (3 miles)
Total: 7.5 miles

So, let's focus on the positives. I won the race. I won my heat, which was the middle of three, but also ran faster than the other two heats, so technically I won overall. The second positive is that I negative split. I think I went through the mile in 5:34, then closed the final 1400m in 5:28 pace. Lastly, I felt very controlled and relaxed the entire time, never really straining for the pace.

With that out of the way, let me say I'm fairly disappointed in my run. I'd really hoped to be closer to 10-flat, which is 5:20 pace. And I dunno, maybe if there had been someone for me to run with in the race, I could've dropped a second or two per lap. I ran by myself more or less from the gun, minus a harried opening 200 meters when I decided to run around everyone in lane 3. After that point I was essentially running a solo time trial, with my coaches and teammates and a few hundred strangers standing by. At the end of the day, my hope is to run this pace for 5k in the very near future (say, in two weeks at the Armory). I feel like that's doable based on how I felt today and given a few more weeks of training. Plus, the Armory is a 200-meter banked track. The track at ETSU is completely flat and 276 meters, which makes for very wide curves and bizarre split points.

Oh, and I almost forgot what was truly the highlight of the day: seeing Blake! I haven't seen him in many months, and it was cool to hang out for a bit and watch him in action coaching the girls of UAB. I've definitely missed this crazy kid.

Friday, January 22, 2010

ETSU or Bust...Actually, Both

AM: 6 miles
Late AM: 30 mins. yoga/core

This morning I enjoyed a nice, relaxed 6-miler with Jordan before preparing to leave for the ETSU track meet. Last year the same meet (except it was a week later) served as my first ever indoor track experience; tomorrow it will just be a rust-buster and fitness check en route to a few (hopefully) fast 5ks in the coming weeks. I'm approaching the race with few expectations--after all, I've only been running consistently for about a month--and as such am free from any self-imposed nervousness and/or pressure. Heck, I'm actually even kind of excited.

Oh, except that on the way to the meet this happened. What a fan-freaking-tastic way to start off the weekend.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Rainy Double

AM: 55 mins. (7.5 miles)
PM: 20 mins. (2.5 miles) + strength

Remember how earlier in the week I wished for the nice weather to stick around? Yeah, not so much. Today was rainy and cold and, even worse, windy. The morning run was tolerable, as we got out the door before the wet stuff really started coming down, but by afternoon the conditions were so miserable that I opted to run on the treadmill. I honestly can't remember the last time I've been on one of these contraptions, and after this afternoon's experience I know I haven't been missing much. I've never been more thankful to have gotten the longer run out of the way first, as 20 minutes on the belt was just about all I could handle.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Early Morning From the Dowd

AM: 52 mins. (7 miles)
PM: 20 mins. ellip.
20 mins. core/strength

Last night I made a half-hearted suggestion to Jordan that we try to get up in time for the Charlotte Running Club's Wednesday morning run. They meet at 6am at the Dowd YMCA, which is a mere 10 minute drive from our house, and jog it out through Dilworth and the surrounding neighborhoods for approximately an hour. Now many people who read this blog probably run at 6am all the time (and let's not even talk about my dad, who has already finished running, showering and eating his second breakfast by 6). I, however, prefer to engage in most of my physical activity (or any activity, really) between sunup and sundown. I'm essentially a farmer, only without the Wranglers or the work ethic. Yet the idea of the 6am run appealed to me for several reasons, namely the opportunity to run with other people and the chance to try out a new route.

Note that I said the idea of the run appealed to me. When our alarm went off at 5:15, the reality of the run sounded like a terrible decision. Jordan had to prod and poke me for several minutes but by 5:45 I was more or less awake and ready to head out the door. The run hadn't even started and I already felt like a badass for being so ambitious. Imagine, then, my surprise when we rolled up to the YMCA parking lot a few ticks before 6 and were greeted by a veritable sea of vehicles. I promise I'm not exaggerating to say there were at least 100--maybe 150--cars, the sum of which almost took up every available parking space, that had presumably transported drivers who were already working out. I would even venture to say many of them were probably almost done with said workouts. I cannot tell you how much this boggles my mind. I was simultaneously shocked, impressed, and even vaguely jealous that some of these people had surpassed my badass-ness without even trying.

But I digress. The run kicked off just past 6 with about a dozen of us in a group, composed of a few of people I knew and many who were strangers. Not that it mattered, as I was promptly off the back at the outset. My body just isn't accustomed to being forced to move at this ungodly hour, and the effects of yesterday's workout were lingering in my legs. As a result, it took me at least three miles to feel even remotely comfortable, and another mile before I was able to weave my way up toward the front of the group. At approximately minute 51 of the 52 minute run I started feeling good, just in time for us to call it quits for the morning. After the run, we spent a few minutes chatting and getting to know the faces belonging to the disembodied voices we'd been running beside in the pitch darkness. Everyone was super friendly and happy to have us as part of the group.

In hindsight, this run was kind of like a first marathon. In the lead-up you think it's a great idea. Then race day comes and you start questioning what you'd been thinking in the first place. During the run itself, you're longing for your warm bed and swearing you'll never do anything as foolish as this ever, ever again. That is, until you finish. Then you can't wait for the next one. Guess that means I'll be repeating this roller coaster of emotions next Wednesday.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Fire On the Track

AM: 3 miles
PM: 3 mile w/u
Target: 6x800 @~2:40-2:45
Actual: 2:47, 2:45, 2:44, 2:43, 2:43, 2:38
1.5 mile c/d
Total: 7.5 miles

I wish I could say my title was in reference to how fast I blazed these 800s, b
ut that's not the case. I ran more or less the same pace as when I did this workout two weeks ago in Palm Springs. Not only that, but I felt worse today too. I'll attribute part of it to running this effort solo (Jess was supposed to join, but she's sick), part of it to the light wind on the homestretch, and the rest of it to me just not being a very good runner.

What the title does signify, however, is the beginning of what Tanya and I have decided to make a Tuesday tradition: two pairs of matching, flame-intensive spandices (yup, that's the plural of spandex according to my interpretation of the dictionary). Tanya purchased these bad boys for my birthday a few months ago, but until today we haven't both been present at the same workout in agreeable conditions, and thus haven't had the opportunity to share our fiery pants with the world. To be fair, we have matched before--there was a well-conceived but poorly executed skort incident at McAlpine last spring--but I think today's ensemble really caused some sparks to fly. Let's just say it made warming up in the 'hood around JCSU that much more dangerous; thankfully, we had Simon along as our bodyguard during the warmup just in case.

I think we pretty much nailed "supermodel"

I'm thinking we should make this the official race bottom for the Queens uniform. Just sayin.

Flames o' fury

Monday, January 18, 2010

MLK Afternoon

AM: 3 miles
PM: 44 mins. + strides + jogging around
~7 miles

This afternoon Jordan and I enjoyed an easy run from the main entrance at McAlpine. We were supposed to meet the team, but they pulled a bait-and-switch and ended up parking at Boyce. Instead of running toward them we opted to just run the Footlocker course twice. As Jordan said in his blog, the park was packed with people and pets taking advantage of the holiday and the gorgeous 60-degree weather, so there was a fair amount of bobbing and weaving involved while navigating around others. I didn't mind though; it's always nice to see people out exercising. Here's to hoping this spring-like weather continues for the rest of the week.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Week in Review

57 miles
1 hour 30 mins. elliptical
6 AFDs
2 workouts

A resounding improvement from last week. I'm feeling strong and slowly but surely increasing my fitness. Next week I'm planning on an early week workout followed by a "race" at the East Tennessee meet next weekend. I think I'm running the 3k, which should be a real treat for everyone considering how out of shape I am, but I'm surprisingly not dreading it too much.

Onward and upward.

McAlpine Flooding

AM: 66 mins. (9 miles)
PM: 20 mins. pool

Another Sunday, another long(ish) run from Old Bell. We're so predictable. Actually there was a bit of excitement before the run today, which Jordan has done a stellar job of recapping on his blog. And come to think of it, the run itself was slightly more exciting than usual due to the excessive flooding at the park. The weirs we normally cross were completely submerged, which meant we had no way of accessing the main park (where the Footlocker course is) from Old Bell without running off the path, up a dirt hill, down the nearby street and around the corner. This made for about a quarter mile detour each way, but otherwise didn't impede our progress.

I put in most of today's easy miles with Jenna and Tanya, which is always fun. Actually, mad props to Tanya; she debuted her indoor season at Virginia Tech yesterday and ran an astonishing 9:22 for 3k. That's 5-minute pace for those of you non-math majors. Needless to say, she won the race, and qualified for US Indoor Nationals in the process. I knew she was fit, but damn. That's ridic. Fortunately for me, the effort took enough out of her that she wanted to amble along at a relatively slow clip today, which is exactly what we did. Good times were had by all.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Busy Saturday

AM: 30 mins. yoga/core
PM: 41 mins. (5.5 miles)

For the second weekend in a row, we had a pretty busy Saturday at Run For Your Life. By the end of the workday I was tired and grumpy (probably hungry too) and not super excited about running. The sky was darkening almost as quickly as my mood, and I knew that if Jordan and I didn't head out the door immediately it would be both too late and too rainy to salvage the evening. And so, away we went for a Freedom Park loop.

I don't have much to report about this run except my legs were killing me. I attribute this partly to yesterday's workout but mostly to my own stupidity. I'd opted to throw on a pair of shoes that I knew were done, and less than a mile into the run I could practically hear my legs chastising me. Fortunately the pace was easy and the conversation was lively, so I managed to soldier on. I actually even enjoyed the light drizzle, believe it or not.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Predatory Musings

AM: 30 mins. ellip + stretching
PM: 3 mile w/u
3 mile predator in 18:17 (6:08, 6:09, 6:00)
2 mile c/d
Total: 8 miles

Jordan and I left around 2 to meet the team for an early afternoon workout at McAlpine. I planned on doing a short, cautious predator run (oxymoron, right?) while Jordan had the world's longest workout on tap. Good thing he's fast so I wouldn't have to wait around for him all day. The best part about today's practice, in addition to it being much earlier than normal, was the absolutely gorgeous weather. I swear the temperature was almost 60 when we started; combined with the ample sunshine and a light breeze, it made me feel like we were back in California for a few hours. I think it's supposed to rain all weekend, but this was definitely a special treat.

Coach Simmons had instructed Jess and I to run together, started at "around 6:30 pace" for the first mile. I knew that wasn't even remotely realistic given the perfect weather and Jess's penchant for starting off too fast. If anything, our second mile would be the slowest since it involved a 180-degree turnaround.(Our course was an out-and-back starting at the first mile marker on the Footlocker course, then running back toward Old Bell to the 1/2 mile marker just beyond the underpass, then returning to where we started.) Sure enough, despite starting out with the intention of being conservative, we passed through the first 1/2 mile in 2:56. From there we slowed to what felt like a jog in order to come through the mile at 6:08, finally locking into pace as we passed the Footlocker staging area.

I wasn't sure how long Jess and I would stay together--last track season I was quite a bit faster than her, but she ran an solid xc season and was thisclose to making All-American, so I knew she was quite a bit fitter (and I obviously less fit) than this time last year. As it played out, we stayed together until the turnaround, at which point I began to put a bit of distance on her. I came through the second mile marker eager to see if I could get the legs turned over on the last mile without straining too much--after all, this was supposed to be an "easy" predator run. I'm pleased to report that I split my third mile the fastest, but not so pleased to report it didn't feel quite as lackadaisical as I'd hoped. Seeing as I haven't run any sort of tempo since, well, Nationals, I suppose that was to be expected. Jess came through about 15 seconds back looking strong at the finish.

Also of note, for some reason this workout really wrecked my stomach. Even hours later I felt sick and vaguely nauseous. I'm attributing this mostly to dehydration, as admittedly I haven't been drinking too much water the past few weeks. When the temperature is as cold as it has been lately, the last thing I feel like doing after a run is pounding a cold beverage. Sometimes I'll look at my watch and realize a full hour has passed without me consuming anything liquid except maybe some coffee. Not good. I definitely need to be aware of this and monitor my fluid intake going forward.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Like Sands Through The Hourglass...

AM: 20 mins. (2.5 miles) + Stretching
PM: 48 mins. (6.5 miles)

It's hard to believe that today marks the one year anniversary of my move to Charlotte. In some ways it seems like just yesterday Jeff and I were heaving my futon mattress over the balcony of my Atlanta apartment and loading up his truck with the remainder of my belongings. Yet so much has happened in the past year that it almost feels as though it were a lifetime ago. A few things I've done in the past 365 days include: ran my first indoor and outdoor track seasons; got injured, then healthy, then injured again; completed two semesters of grad school; said goodbye to Jeffrey as he left for greener pastures; driven to and from Oklahoma with Jordan in a Mini full of everything I owned; said hello to Jordan as he (finally!) moved here in August; entertained visits from my parents, Jordan's dad and my bestie Brooke; laughed and cried; and gone for a few runs. In the past year I've traveled near and far to exotic locales like Tennessee, NYC, DC, Vancouver, Cincinnati, Indiana, California, Texas, Oklahoma and Florida. I've met people I never would've known otherwise, experienced amazing highs and disappointing lows, and made friends I hold dear to my heart. It's a year I wouldn't trade for anything.

One of the friends I've made is Tanya, who was my roomie last spring in what we dubbed The Prison (actually the off-campus Queens apartments). In fact, last January 14th was our first run together; and, since she arrived back in Charlotte last night from her extended Christmas break, our run today was somewhat of an anniversary celebration. I'm excited to have my friend back and eager to get in some training together this spring. Seeing as she just ran 21:48 at the New Year's Eve 4-miler in New York, I wouldn't mind having some of her speed rub off on me!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Recovery Day

AM: 30 mins. ellip.
PM: 64 mins. (8.5-9 miles)

I saved the run until after work, when temperatures were warmer and I knew Jordan would be game for joining. We embarked on a loop that he does fairly often and incorporates the greenway, Freedom Park, the Booty Loop, and the surrounding Myers Park neighborhoods. Not much to report other than my legs felt pretty tired and I could tell I was running slowly. Oh well.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Running Late

AM: 3 miles
PM: 20 min. w/u (3 miles)
Target: 3x1200 @ ~6:00 pace or faster (4:30)
Actual: 4:24, 4:17, 4:13
CD #1: ~1 mile
CD #2: ~1 mile
Total: ~7.5 miles

Yesterday Coach Simmons suggested I do a light threshold workout today if I was feeling good, and I was eager to meet the challenge. As we seem to be in the habit of doing lately, Jordan and I had devised an unnecessarily complicated workout schedule; I planned to meet the team at McAlpine at 4:30, but Jordan wanted to join a few Charlotte Running Club peeps at JC Smith for a track workout at 6. In order for this to work, I would have to expedite my workout and cut the cool-down short in order to make it home in time to take him. Nothing like a little extra incentive to run fast, I suppose. As a result, I ran my warmup quite a bit quicker than normal almost without realizing it, and was glad I didn't have to waste time changing shoes or otherwise dilly-dallying. I'd opted to do the workout in trainers instead of flats,
knowing I might sacrifice a few seconds but would hopefully be less banged up in the morning.

While it wouldn't have been my first choice, Coach Simmons opted to use the pond at McAlpine as the focal point of each interval. The distance around the pond is almost exactly 600 meters, which meant 2 full loops would equal a 1200. The nice part is that the terrain is completely flat; the down side was that it's extremely difficult to find a rhythm when it feels like you're constantly skidding around a turn. At any rate, the workout went fine. It wasn't intended to be an all-out effort and didn't feel like one, although I've gotta say it's not nearly as easy to run fast in these cold conditions as it was in San Diego. Such is life. I felt like I was pushing more or less equally hard on each interval, and as such was pleased to see the times fall naturally as the workout progressed. Part of me would've enjoyed doing more but, alas, there was no time. As it was I had to cut the cool-down very short in order to pick Jordan up on time, opting instead to run another mile with him at the track during his warm-up.

I'll be anxious to see how I feel tomorrow with a workout (albeit a baby one) in my legs. Until then, it's time for stretching and ice. If all goes as planned, I'll attempt another uptempo effort later in the week.

Monday, January 11, 2010

McAlpine Monday

AM: 30 mins. ellip.
10 mins. stretching
2x20 water pump extensions=80
PM: 44 mins. (6 miles)
10 mins. stretching, water pumps

I felt absolutely great on the afternoon run today. Despite arriving late to McAlpine and having to play catch-up (thanks to Jordan, of course), it only took a few minutes for my leg to warm up and feel normal. Just after the first mile marker, Jordan and I ran up on a guy wearing a pair of Karhus. Needless to say, Jordan was pretty excited, and I would wager that this marked the first time ever that three people were running in Karhus at McAlpine concurrently. History in the making, folks.

At the start of the Footlocker course Jordan found a few of the Queens guys, and I opted to venture backwards from the pond in hopes of running into Jenna and Jess. About a mile later I found them, and we continued on together for the rest of the run. My legs were itching to squeeze the pace down but I could tell they were comfortable where we were, so being the team player that I am I just relaxed and enjoyed the company. Still, it's a great feeling to have some pop in the legs.

Oh, and because I'm growing tired of typing it, unless otherwise specified I'm doing the water pumps and other lower leg strengthening exercises twice a day. I feel like this is a prudent course of action given where I'm at right now and where I want to be going forward. I'm also back on the liquid iron twice a day too (I took an inadvertent break when I left my bottle here instead of toting it to California over the holidays). At this point I'm teetering on the edge of not sucking, so I need to utilize every possible advantage to keep things headed in the right direction.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Week in Review

33 miles
2 hours 45 mins. ellip.
1 day off
4 airports

Well obviously this week was a bust compared to last week. I'm chalking it up to a combination of the lost travel day and the unseasonably cold weather. The week was bookended with a solid workout on Monday and two really fun weekend runs, so all hope is not lost. The primary goal for next week is to get in some solid mileage without compromising the condition of my leg. A secondary goal would be getting in another workout, ideally a tempo or progression run. We'll see.

Will Run For Breakfast

AM: 55 mins. (~8 miles)
10 mins. stretching

It took several attempts, but sometime around midnight last night we concocted a plan for this morning's runs. The problem was that Jordan wanted to meet a few fellow Thunder Roadies at Old Bell at 8am for an uptempo long run, but Jenna wasn't really interested in meeting me much earlier than 10. Since Jordan and I only have one vehicle between us, this called for some compromise. The group finally agreed on Proposition 3C: I would take Jordan to Old Bell at 8 to drop him off, then return at 10 to meet Jenna and give the car back to Jordan. In return for my inconvenience, Jordan would have a tasty home-cooked brunch awaiting us upon our return post-run. If you know me at all, you know that I'll endure almost any hardship if promised pancakes and eggs in return, so this was a shrewd move on Jordan's part.

Despite starting our run under clear skies and ample sunshine, it was still frigid at 10am. I was thankful Jordan loaned me one of his Craft baselayer tops, as otherwise I would have been quite uncomfortable. Instead, thanks to the baselayer plus several other accoutrements, I was more or less warm after the first 10 minutes. Jenna and I and her friend Cole kept the pace a touch uptempo throughout, no doubt in anticipation of the breakfast awaiting us, and we covered the almost 8-mile loop a minute or two faster than normal. My leg felt just as good as it did on last night's run, which is also encouraging. Most importantly, the post-run breakfast did not disappoint. I will glady chauffeur Jordan to future runs in exchange for this type of tasty reward.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Saturday Night Skyline Run

AM: 30 mins. core/yoga
10 mins. stretching
PM: 46 mins. (6 miles)

Whether due to New Year's resolutions, an influx of gift cards, or some other unrelated cause, business was booming at Run For Your Life this afternoon. We were packed with customers well past closing time, which meant I didn't get out the door until after 5:30. Normally I wouldn't mind, but I'd hoped to both run and go feed Coach Simmons' dogs (whom I'm watching all weekend while he's out of town), as well as shower and clean up the apartment a bit before some of our friends came over at 7:30. With less than two hours to accomplish all that, there wasn't any time to waste, so I decided to combine the first two duties by running over to Simmons' house to give Jackie and Sidney their tasty dinners. Despite having already run over 15 miles on the day, Jordan was game to come along, so 10 minutes later we were bundled up and headed out the door.

The run took us through the usual territory, ru
nning to the end of Freedom Park before crossing East and continuing down Kings to our destination. Despite my familiarity with our surroundings, it was a bit disconcerting to run through Freedom Park in the almost pitch darkness. Not that Jordan would've been able to fend off any attackers (in fact, he'd be more likely to outrun them and leave me behind), but I was pretty glad to have him along. As a reward for our sense of adventure, we were treated to a spectacular view of the downtown skyline with lights ablaze. Not something you see on a morning run (unless you go as early as Jordan did this week). The doggies were happy to see us when we arrived at our halfway point, and after a few minutes thawing out indoors we were retracing our steps home. In an impressive burst of productivity, I managed to accomplish all my goals with time to spare before our guests came. Not too shabby.

Uptown skyline view

Oh, and I can't believe it's taken me this long to mention it, but my leg felt great! More or less completely normal on tonight's run. I guess whatever I'm doing is working, so let's keep our fingers crossed that this positive trend continues.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Way Too Cold

Friday, 1/8
AM: 50 mins. ellip.
PM: 30 mins. ellip. + stretches
2x20 water pump extensions=80

Thursday, 1/7
AM: 45 mins. ellip. + stretches
PM: ~1 mile run, 1 mile walk

It is with a heavy heart that I inform my loyal readers I've had to take a few days off from pounding the pavement. Simply put, this weather ("cold" doesn't do it justice) is absolutely terrible for my shin/leg issue. I left California feeling great and am now reduced to hobbling around every time I attempt to run. I started what I'd hoped would be a delightful evening run with Jordan on Thursday, only to be forced to turn back at the beginning of the greenway due to my compromised state. Friday I didn't even try, instead opting to visit the fitness center a few times and get the blood flowing sans pounding. I've returned in earnest to the water pump extensions, the stretching, the tiptoe walking, the ibuprofen, and the ice cupping. Let's hope this is enough to get me back on my feet again soon. Or, we could move to California permanently....I would make that sacrifice for the greater good at this point.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Belated Title

Tuesday, 1/5: Off

Wednesday, 1/6
AM: 51 mins. (7 miles)
PM: 3 miles
15 mins. core/stretching

Tuesday was completely off due to travel. Jordan and I tried to fit in some extra credit, rising before 5am to hit up the fitness center, but turns out the doors don't unlock until 6. Not cool. Approximately 12 hours later we found ourselves touching down in Charlotte and being accosted by the bitterly cold temperatures. Remind me why we left California??

Wednesday morning I met Jenna at McAlpine for a nice catch-up jog. I haven't seen her in almost three weeks so it was great to put in a few miles while swapping stories of our warm holidays back West. The only thing that wasn't great was my leg. It's looking like the cold weather is kryptonite for my shin splints, and I need to figure out some way to get this issue cleared up. The trip to Greenapple post-run helped, but things still didn't feel quite normal on my afternoon jog. Needless to say, I'm growing increasingly frustrated. I guess I need to be super vigilant with the heat/ice/ibuprofen/stretching regimen that worked so well for me the past few weeks.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Palm Springs High School Workout

AM: 30 mins. ellip.
15 mins. core/stretching
PM: 20 min. w/u (2.5 miles)
Target: 6x800 @2:45 w/2:30 rest
Actual: 2:46, 2:47, 2:44, 2:44, 2:42, 2:37
16 min. c/d (2 miles)
Total: 7.5-8 miles

Won't be seeing these again for a while...

Well, kids, we've pretty much reached the end of the line. Tomorrow morning we depart our desert paradise and return to the frigid and barren tundra that is Charlotte. With that in mind, Jordan and I couldn't think of a better way to spend our last afternoon here than working out in the warm sun with the San Jacintos as our backdrop. Just after 3pm we laced up the boots and set off in the direction of Palm Springs High School, hoping to find the track open and relatively quiet. Our fantasy was rudely interrupted when we rounded the corner and saw that every man, woman and child between the ages of 5 and 45 had decided to utilize the cinders and the infield. I'm exaggerating, of course, but in reality I would say there were about 100 kids from neighboring schools scurrying around playing soccer and "running" on the track. Those of you who know me know how I absolutely adore children....Needless to say, the heavenly workout we'd envisioned was en route to becoming a little piece of hell before it even began.

Like last week's workout, Jordan planned to attempt a longer sustained effort while alternating between his fast sections and my fast sections (which, as always, were his slow sections). Also like last week, the plan worked out relatively well, save for a few close calls with the aforementioned kiddos. There were several times when I screamed "WATCH OUT!" at the top of my lungs in hopes of alerting one of the youngsters who was in our path (I didn't even kid myself into thinking that yelling "track" would register as a coherent message in their small brains). Somehow they always managed to dart away at just the last moment, but there were a few close calls. You would think they might be at least vaguely alarmed by the sight of a shirtless and sweaty Mexican barreling toward them, but then again we are in Southern California so perhaps they see that kind of thing every day.

At any rate, the workout went fine. My first few intervals were slow enough to help me ease into the groove, and by the third one I was clicking along. I didn't really have to press until the final effort, but in the end I was pleased with how strong and controlled I felt throughout. (Note: If you see that some of the splits are slightly different on Jordan's blog, it's because he was taking splits at the half mile and I was taking them at the actual 800m mark. It only made a second or two of difference, but when you're as out of shape as I am right now you'll take every second you can find.) It's a shame we can't stay here for, oh, another few months or so. I might actually be fit by then.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Week in Review

59 miles
60 mins. elliptical
6 days in San Diego
3 successful Upas runs

I've neglected the Week in Review for the past month or so because, well, I kind of forgot. Besides, there wasn't anything exciting to write about. But without question, I couldn't have asked for a better week than this one to bid farewell to 2009 and usher in 2010. Sixty miles isn't much to brag about when I'm actually fit, but it's certainly more than I've been able to do in many months. Thursday's respectable workout lifted my spirits by proving that I'm not as hopeless of a case as I'd feared. If I can string together a month or two of solid training and stay injury-free, I just might be able to run some decent times indoors.

As exciting as this week's training was, it pales in comparison to the triumph I achieved last night. Several of you may have observed that Jordan wasted no time in skewering me after his two luck-fueled wins at the Trivial Pursuit 1968 edition we found in San Diego. Unfortunately for him, upon our return to Palm Springs yesterday we found that Gary and Roger had been given an updated version of the game in our absence. Obviously a rematch ensued, and I'm pleased to report that I trounced him twice in a row. Somehow I suspect he will neglect to mention this in his blog, so I feel obliged to note it here. This was a delicious way to close out the week.

Upas Loop Encore

AM: 60 mins.
8+ miles
PM: 15 mins. ellip.

For our last morning in San Diego, Jordan and I were once again greeted by warm sun and clear blue skies. In light of the rest of the country suffering a severe cold snap, I'm equal parts appreciative of our mild conditions and dreading the return to Charlotte in a few short days.

We planned to run what I now refer to as the "Upas Loop," or, inexplicably, the "Oo
mpa Loompa" (because it sort of sounds the same and I like midgets?), which essentially involves a big loop around the upper part of Balboa Park and across the Prado, then crossing the highway and making a mini-loop up the trails and across the Footlocker course, then a hellacious climb up Upas, then a return down the Prado and back home. It adds up to almost exactly 8 miles and provides a mix of grass, road and dirt surfaces. As one might expect, there was lots of action in the park, and the miles fell away quickly. The only downside is that my legs were more or less trashed. I guess it's to be expected; it's not too much of a spoiler for my forthcoming Week in Review to say that the quality and quantity of mileage I did this week is more than I've notched since before my August injury. As such, I was dragging up Upas, but fortunately retained my pride and managed to keep from walking. Jordan and I split up once back on the upper section of the park, as he had to run to pick up the rental car, but I tried to keep the pace as uptempo as possible until reaching home.

Which is better? A San Diego sunset...

Fast forward to a few hours later, and we loaded up in our new Chevy Aveo and departed back to the desert. Our time in San Diego, though relatively uneventful, was an absolute blast. I'm looking forward to enjoying our final few days in paradise relaxing in the comfort of the Biltmore. On that note, I'm headed to the hot tub. Strictly for rehabilitation purposes, of course.

...or a Palm Springs sunrise? I'll take both.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Touring the Harbor

AM: 60 mins. (8+ miles)
PM: 28 mins. (3.5+ miles)

Yesterday I was shaking my head ruefully and commenting about how much different you can feel from one day to the next. Today I was saying the same thing, but in a positive way. Looks like the afternoon/evening of rest and relaxation last night--combined with a few hits of ibuprofen and some of Jordan's newfangled healing techniques--did just the trick, as my leg (and entire body) felt dandy on this jaunt today.

In search of a change of scenery, Jordan and I decided to forego our usual park route and instead venture down to the harbor for this run. Turns out it takes right around two miles to run down to the airport (good to know for our rental car pickup tomorrow morning), and from there it takes about, oh, 20 yards to find the shoreline. From there we turned left and headed in the direction of downtown and all the seaside action. And action there was; the next few miles were filled with lots of bobbing and weaving and stops and starts as we navigated around other runners and cyclists, as well as tourists and dock workers, all of whom were out enjoying a beautiful morning seaside. After making fitful progress the crowds finally thinned out a bit, and the next few minutes went by relatively smoothly. We finally reached what appeared to be a large convention center adjacent to the stadium where the Padres play, and at that point we made the executive decision to exit the shoreline and attempt to meander our way home through downtown.

View of downtown and the harbor

When you're feeling crappy, not knowing where you are located on a run can be a source of frustration. When you're feeling good, it usually ends up being a lot of fun. Fortunately the latter was the case for both of us; even though we weren't exactly sure how to get home, we didn't mind taking a tour of the Gaslamp and other areas not normally seen on our jaunts here. After several minutes of wandering we discovered our bearings and found a straight shot up to Balboa Park. When I say "up to," what I mean is that we spent the entire last half of the run climbing uphill. I'd known it was coming; the run started with a few steep downhill miles followed by a flat section along the harbor, so it was only a matter of time before we'd have to retrace the incline on the way home. I was flat out hurting the last three miles of this run, but unlike yesterday's pain this was a welcome feeling. We finished up feeling hot (both of us), tired (mostly me), hungry (me again) and thoroughly satisfied with our sightseeing efforts.

Catching some sun on a perfect Saturday afternoon

After treating ourselves to a weekend brunch at Urban Mo's, we found ourselves back at the park for some afternoon sunshine. My leg felt good on the long walk there and back, enough so that I was confident in my ability to embark on a very easy double. Jordan was a sport and didn't mind ambling along at my pace for the first 20 minutes or so. At that point he turned back for another upper loop and I headed back home, content with the day's endeavors. Balboa Park may not be the best training venue ever, but it's hard to beat a few warm and sunny afternoon miles under the palm trees enjoyed in the company of other runners, cyclists, dog walkers and volleyball players. Oh, and there was even one guy pushing his baby in a baby jogger--while riding on a skateboard. True story.

Our afternoon view in Balboa Park

Friday, January 1, 2010

Hobbling Into 2010

AM: 45 mins.
~6 miles
PM: 25 mins. yoga/core

Well, I must admit that my first run of 2010 wasn't nearly as glorious as my final run of 2009. Instead of feeling fast, light and strong like I did yesterday, today I felt stiff, awkward and hobbly. I barely made it around two loops of the upper section of Balboa Park without Jordan falling asleep, not to mention that my leg never really warmed up or felt normal. I'd harbored grand intentions of doubling today, but after such an embarrassing showing this morning I put all such thoughts aside. Instead, I spent the afternoon icing and yoga-ing while Jordan trotted out his second run. We also got in a long walk earlier in the afternoon, probably 3-4 miles total through the Hillcrest neighborhood and around the upper section of the Park, so hopefully that will facilitate a better showing tomorrow as well. Not an auspicious beginning to the new year.