Sunday, February 28, 2010

Week in Review

67 miles
1 hour weights
50 mins. pool
9 mins. 58 secs. on the Armory track
20 inches of snow

Yet another eventful week draws to a close, and it's hard to believe that Nationals is less than two weeks away. Part of me feels fit, confident and well-prepared....the rest of me feels like there's still so much work to be done. Regardless of what happens in New Mexico, I know I've come a long way in a short period of time. If anything, the past few weeks' training has made me more excited for the upcoming outdoor season. I can't wait to set a new 10k PR and to lay down another fast 5k in the coming months. For now, it's time to focus on one more hard week of training before we depart for the Land of Enchantment.

Standard Sunday

1 hour 35 mins. (13 miles)

Back in Charlotte, back at McAlpine. I can't complain, though; the sun was shining and having Jess and Pezz as company helped pass the time quickly.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

More Manhattan Shenanigans

AM: 48 mins. (~6.5 miles)
PM: Travel

A mere 12 hours after my race, I was out the door with Maraya and Simmons to enjoy a recovery run in Central Park. We had the option to run on our own this morning in case some people preferred the treadmill, but I'm 0 for 3 in outdoor runs since arriving here and was dying of cabin fever. Unfortunately, we made the mistake of taking the subway to Central Park instead of running there--the sidewalks were mostly plowed and vehicle traffic was at a minimum, but we weren't counting on that--which meant that our transit t
ime nearly eclipsed our run time. I'm against that in principle but I knew Simmons and Maraya weren't looking to get in more than 30-45 minutes au pied, so I took one for the team and obliged them.

20 inches later, this is what Central Park looks like...

Once we arrived at the park via Columbus Circle, it was readily apparent that even the native New Yorkers had been itching to get back outside. Throngs of runners, cyclists, dog walkers, and even a few cross-country skiers and snowshoe-ists paraded up and down the park's main thoroughfares. Someone (likely many someones) did a stellar job of plowing the main paved loop, and since our beloved bridle path was impassible we were relegated to the roads throughout this jaunt. Simmons turned back after about 15 minutes but Maraya and I completed an entire loop, gradually picking up the pace as the minutes ticked by. My legs felt fine today--too fine, actually, for having just raced, which is yet another indicator that I didn't perform up to par last night--and I would've been perfectly content to run another loop in the midst of the park's snowy wonderland had time allowed. But, alas, the hotel checkout and a promised brunch with Mad & Co. awaited me back at the Affinia, so I begrudgingly returned home with the other two.

It ended up being worth it an hour later when Made
leine, her brother Tom, Becky and myself sat down for brunch at the iconic Tick Tock Diner in Midtown. Tell me anywhere else in New York where you can enjoy a stack of carrot cake pancakes with cream cheese frosting and a cup of coffee for under 10 dollars. Go on, I dare you. That's what I thought. To steal a recap from Mad's blog (which I cannot link you to because she is super important and thus shares her musings only with the privileged few): "The food was great, the carrot cake pancakes were magical. Conversation was awesome, ranging from the predictable but oh-so-delicious Craig Lake bashing, to my fabulous cousin Patrick who lives in Soho and has a ram coat, to my brother's plans to have a spectacular hair cut by his stylist, Robert, all while having a glass of wine or two. It was great. I think we may have scared Meagan and Becky. Anyway, it was a great brunch. And we made Meagan late. Oops."

Mad, Becky and me eagerly awaiting our tasty treats

No harm no foul on making me late, as the Queens team still arrived at the airport with two hours to spare (somewhere the elder Nedlos are beaming with pride). Another fun, crazy, unpredictable, one-of-a-kind weekend in NYC is successfully in the books.

Friday, February 26, 2010

NYU FastTrack Invitational 3k

AM: 3 miles
PM: 2 mile w/u + strides
3k race in 9:58
2 mile c/d
Total: 6.5-7 miles

Despite being pummeled with what would later be described as the "4th biggest snow in NYC in 141 years," the NYU FastTrack Invitational proceeded as scheduled today. I arrived at the Armory around 2pm with the QU crew and was surprised at the number of athletes who'd braved the st
orm to show up to the meet. There were a few scratches in each event, but overall there were plenty of bodies to fill out the fields.

Unfortunately for me, the 3000 was scheduled as the second-to-last event of the meet. This meant I probably wouldn't be racing until around 9pm, which most of you know is dangerously close to my bedtime. I could've stayed at the hotel this afternoon and ventured to the Armory later in the day, but there's only so much E! News that one person can watch and still feel good about herself. Plus, I wanted to support my teammates in their last-chance attempts to qualify for Nationals.

First up was Simon in the mile. When we were here three weeks ago he ran 4:09.24, just an eyelash away from the auto time of 4:09.00, and he needed to dip below that standard to punch his ticket to ABQ. He ran brilliantly and crossed the line in 4:07.6, a huge PR and well within the qualifying
standards. Maraya followed next in the women's 800. She won her heat with ease, but the pace lagged too much at the start; her 2:18 was about five seconds shy of what she needed. Nelson, on the other hand, absolutely rocked his 800; his time of 1:52.5 is half a second short of the auto time but should put him high enough on the list to ensure his trip to the big meet.

Slowly but surely the hours and minutes ticked away, and by 8pm it was finally time for me to warm up. Maraya had offered (read: been instructed by Simmons) to pace me through the mile, which meant I had a companion for my warmup in the hallway. Yes, that's right, I ran two miles in the hallway. For the first time since I've been to the Armory, running outside was simply not an option. Finally, just before 9, it was go time. I was seeded in the faster of the two heats, and my plan was to pass through the mile at 5:15 or faster and then go from there. Seeing as I've never run a mile in 5:15 before I wasn't sure how that would feel, but I suppose it's always good to have a plan.

From the gun, I could tell things felt a bit off. I got stuck behind a few slowpokes on the first several laps, which meant by 800 meters in I was way off the back of the leader. Maraya, bless her heart, had never paced anyone before and didn't realize that the pacer is supposed to run in front of the pace-ee. Instead, she sort of danced around me in lane 2, not really slowing the pace but not pushing it either. Ultimately her legs would be too fatigued from her earlier race to make it to the mile; I think she dropped out around 1k. I definitely appreciated her effort regardless of the outcome though.

At this point, I should mention that I had no idea what the pace was. The race officials and the announcer did a crappy job of calling out times at any of the sensible markers (e.g., 1k, mile, 2k, etc.). I also learned afterward that the jumbo-tron time was also off--apparently they hadn't started the clock until we were halfway through our first lap, which meant the time it showed was 20 seconds f
aster than we were actually running. So the clock was telling me one thing but I could hear Simmons yelling out something different, which made for a very bizarre overall race experience. It didn't help that I was behind the leader but a good 10 seconds ahead of the next person, so I essentially ran in no-man's land for the entire race. Not ideal, but I'm not one for excuses either; I should've been able to lock into pace regardless. Actually, I did lock into pace...just not the pace I wanted to run. Apparently I came through the mile in 5:17 (a PR! Woohoo!) and then locked into 80-point for the rest of the race. The leader started coming back with about three laps to go, and I did my best to gain on her, but in the end I needed one more lap to reel her in. I finished in 9:58, well short of my goal of 9:50.

In looking at the positives, I set a substantial 3k PR and ran 25 seconds faster than the 3k at ETSU last month. I also finished 8 seconds faster than I went through the 3k in my 5k several weeks ago. And let's not forget that mile PR either. I also feel good about how easily I locked into 40-second laps; if I have someone to run with, I'm confident I can maintain that pace for 5k.
I should also mention that Madeleine braved downed trees and power lines and Becky gave up part of her rare snow day to come cheer me on! So, all in all, this race wasn't a total wash. It's just frustrating because I know where my fitness is right now and I don't think this effort was an accurate representation of that. Let's hope I can make up for it at Nationals.

Simon and Nelson rabbiting the last race of the evening, the men's 5k.
Futsum would go on to win in 14:35, while Alex set a PR of 14:51.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Tree Falls in Brooklyn

AM: 6.5-7 miles
PM: 20 mins (2.5 miles) + strength

Wow, I don't even know where to begin with today, except to say that I'm officially done complaining about the conditions in Charlotte. That's because I have an entirely new weather system to lament: the storm of the century in NYC! That's right, we left Charlotte today to return to NYC for another Armory meet, only to find ourselves in the midst of a full-on blizzard. I know you're probably thinking, "But she's from the South. Any amount of snow would seem like a blizzard to her." Perhaps, but when the mayor holds a press conference to announce that every school, university, library, museum and department store in the tri-state area is closed on Friday...well, that's when you know it's kind of a big deal. At this point I'm not even sure if the meet will go on tomorrow; and if it does, I'm not sure who all will show up. Oh, and did I mention that a man died in Central Park today when a snowy tree branch fell on his head?? Scary stuff. Needless to say, my afternoon shakeout took place within the confines of the hotel fitness center.

Me, Maraya and Futsum in the limo from the airport. Baller.

The one silver lining to today's snow-laden clouds was the wonderful coincidence of Jordan's dad and Roger being in the city for the weekend. Even better, their hotel was just a five minute taxi ride from my weekend home, the Affinia Manhattan, which made getting to them super easy. (As an added bonus, I found a stray umbrella in the taxi on the way over, which will no doubt serve me well for the rest of the weekend.) Due to the inclement weather, we opted to stay at the Sheraton and dine in the hotel lobby bar instead of venturing outside. It was great to spend a few hours hanging out with them and swapping stories about their darling son. Now it's time to get some rest and hope all goes as planned tomorrow!

The view from our hotel room

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Familiar Story

AM: 53 mins. (7 miles)
25 mins. pool
PM: 60 mins. weights + core

I ran with Jordan from school this morning before pool practice. Not much else to say about today except that it rained. Again. I'm over it.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

NYU Pre-Race Workout

AM: 4 miles
PM: 2.5 mile w/u
Target: 2xmile @5:25-5:35; 2x200 w/full rest
Actual: 5:32, 5:29, 34 high, 34 low
2.5 mile c/d
Total: 7.5-8 miles

The goal for today's pre-race was to get the legs turning over while feeling relaxed and comfortable. If only every Tuesday workout was so easy! Jenna offered to pace me through the first 800 meters of each mile, which I gratefully accepted, so for the first two laps of each interval I cruised along while expending little mental energy. The workout passed in a flash, and before long it was time to cool down and call it a day. If my legs feel as fresh on Friday as they did today, I should be able to notch a solid time.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, it started raining midway through the first interval. I cannot catch a freaking break.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Yet Another Rainy Monday

AM: 25 mins. pool
7 miles
PM: 3 miles

I was excited to head out to McAlpine for a girls' run with Jenna, Pezz and Tanya after pool this morning...until it started raining. And by "raining" I mean more or less flooding the entire city within a matter of hours. I've concluded Charlotte basically sits in a floodplain, and weather like today's just reinforces that dire fact. At any rate, Jenna and Tanya and I resigned ourselves to the prospect of splashing around in the rain near Queens and through Freedom Park for our morning miles. It was cold and soggy but surprisingly not terrible in light of the good company. I know it's too much to ask, but it would be really nice to have agreeable weather for my pre-race workout tomorrow.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Week in Review

68-69 miles
2 hours weights
30 mins. elliptical
4 AFDs

Finally, the trifecta! I notched a successful track workout, predator run and long run this week. It's one thing to feel like I'm getting fitter every day, but it's much more rewarding to see that my workouts are backing me up.

Next weekend I'll make a return trip to the Armory in NYC to attempt a fast 3k. I still don't have a solid 3k time to my credit and would love to run 9:50 or faster. I'll need sub-5:15 speed if I want to close with the leaders at Nationals.

Sunny Solo

1 hour 35 mins. (13 miles)

Instead of joining the team at McAlpine at 10, I opted to go a bit earlier and complete the long run on my own. I planned this so I could accompany Jordan to the Winter Flight 8k he would be racing early in the afternoon, along with several of our other CRC friends. Instead, Jordan made an uncharacteristically smart game-time decision to opt out, which I'll let him share with you if and when he ever updates his blog.

As for my own run, it was nice and relaxed and not as boring as I expected 13 solo miles to be. Mostly this was due to the weather, which is amazing for the second day in a row. Though the air was still cool at the outset, by halfway through my run I was quite warm and content to bask in the sunshine. The nice morning also brought out plenty of fellow runners, dog walkers, bike riders, and family adventurers, so the constant stream of people kept loneliness at bay. Count this as another successful long run in the books.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Breakfast of Champions

AM: 6+ miles

After yesterday's weight lifting session and predator run, followed by a fun girls' night of sushi and wine, I had no ambitions for this run other than taking things super easy. I planned to meet some of my Queens OCOMM peeps at the Original Pancake House for a quick breakfast before heading to work--they were running the Cupid's Cup 5k that had been rescheduled from last week due to the weather--which meant I had to be up and at 'em fairly early. I set out on a familiar loop through Freedom Park and intentionally left the watch behind, expecting the legs to be moving at a glacial pace. Surprisingly, I felt pretty chipper and the run passed before I knew it. It didn't hurt that the Cupid's Cup was taking place not far from the East Blvd. intersection of the park, which meant I spent several miles being entertained by the pre-race music and the throng of participants
milling about before their run. The cinnamon almond french toast and coffee I enjoyed shortly after provided the perfect energy boost for a long day of slinging shoes.

L to R: Bess, Bill, moi, Kim, Jason, Jenny and David
Queens' finest!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Solid Predator Effort

AM: 15 mins. ellip.
60 mins. weights + core
PM: 2.5 mile w/u
Target: 3 mile predator faster than last week
Actual: 17:09 (5:40, 5:53, 5:36)
2.5 mile c/d
Total: 8 miles

Today's predator run kicked ass. This was the best workout I've ever done at McAlpine, and I felt fantastic doing it. It certainly didn't hurt that we had absolutely gorgeous weather this afternoon--when's the last time I've been able to say that on a workout day??--temperatures in the upper 50s, sunny, with a light breeze. I actually went with the team to practice, though none of the girls had workouts planned because most of them had raced at App State the previous day. Instead, I would be starting my predator run with Alex, Mike and Futsum. I guess I just assumed I'd be doing a standard out-and-back since that's what we normally do during predator runs, so my conversation with Simmons at the starting line looked something like this:

Me: So, isn't the mile and a half mark just before the big hill?
SS: Yeah, but that doesn't matter.
Me: Um, yes it does...that's where I'm turning around.
SS: No, you're just running the Footlocker course. I thought I told you?
Me: Oh. Well. Glad we cleared that up.

I wasn't thrilled at the prospect of running the course, as I knew the second mile with The Hill would most certainly slow me down and fatigue the legs for the final mile. I resolved to go out conservatively and then see how I felt post-Hill. That strategy went out the window when I more or less took the pace out at a sprint. To be fair, starting with the guys threw me off. They were so far ahead of me so early on that I just assumed I was going waaaay too slow. Instead, I split the first 800 at 2:44. Oops. For the next half mile I just concentrated on relaxing my breathing and settling into a more reasonable pace, splitting the mile at 5:40. The second mile went better than expected, and I was pleased to split under 6 minutes despite the hill. My legs didn't feel too bad going up the steep incline but I could feel the pace lagging, and unfortunately I wasn't able to gain much of it back on the descent either. I'm kind of a wuss running down the back of the hill, and I tend to tiptoe gingerly instead of barreling full bore. In my defense, the last thing I need right now is a twisted ankle or a headfirst fall into the pond, but my cautious tactics certainly didn't help the overall workout time. The third and final mile went better than expected as well; I kept waiting for the ambitious pace to catch up with my legs, but I felt strong throughout. I know there are debates about the third mile being short (and I've always maintained that it is, though Simmons disagrees), so I added on a few meters past the official mile marker just so I could sleep at night. I couldn't believe I ended up running 30 seconds faster than last week on a more difficult course and felt so much better doing it. Things are going scarily well right now, which always makes me nervous, but I'm not complaining just yet!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Medium Loop With JSK

AM: 61 mins.
8.5 miles
PM: 3 miles

Jordan and I headed out the door around 8:30 this morning to take in a medium loop. For whatever reason, my legs felt unusually good, and I actually enjoyed picking up the pace a bit the second half of the run. Oh, and it's sunny again for the second time this week! I'll take it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

All By Myself

AM: 53 mins. (7 miles)
PM: 15 mins. ellip.
60 mins. weights + core

So I got up at the usual Wednesday morning hour of 5:15, stumbled bleary-eyed into the bathroom to get dressed, then dragged my uncooperative body over to the Dowd to meet the CRC group...aaaaand no one was there. Or at least, not one of the 10 or so CRC people I know well enough to recognize in the semi-darkness. I couldn't believe it. Not sure if I missed out on a group-wide memo or something? At any rate, I immediately got back in the car and headed home, where Jordan was doing his part to keep the bed warm in my absence. An hour of sleep later, I woke up refreshed and took in some easy miles on the bike path and around Freedom Park.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A New Workout Distance

AM: 3 miles
PM: 3 mile w/u + strides
Target: 10x600m @5k pace w/2 mins. rest; hammer #9
Actual: 1:59 (79 through 400m); 2:00 (80); 1:59 (79); 2:00 (79); 2:00 (78); 1:59 (79); 1:58 (78); 1:57 (78); 1:54 (76); 1:57 (78)
2 mile c/d
Total: 8.5-9 miles

So, I don't think I've ever actually done a 600 workout before. The down side is that I have nothing to really compare this workout too. The up side is also that I have nothing to compare it to. Vaguely I had the notion of coming through the 400 at my goal 5k pace--5:20 per mile, or 80 per lap--then just trying to maintain that pace to the finish, but I had no idea how comfortable that would feel or if I would be able to maintain the intensity throughout the workout.

For the first Tuesday in as long as I can remember, we had plenty of sunshine on the track. Looks can be deceiving, however, as it was still bitterly cold outside thanks to an unfriendly 20mph wind. The problem with the JC Smith track is that it's set up so high relative to the city, which means that the wind can blow from essentially any and all directions at one time. This definitely presents a challenge when you're attempting to run fast, which I was (relatively speaking) today.

Now that I've got my excuses out of the way, I can say that the workout ended up going pretty well. (I'm hesitant to agree that it was my best workout ever, which Simmons told me afterward, but it's a nice ego boost nonetheless.) Looking at the splits, I started out right at goal 5k pace and gradually brought it down to goal 3k pace or faster. In fact, the "hammer" was probably right around goal mile pace (yeah, I'm not a miler, I get it). The wind did prove challenging and made for quite a bit of fighting on the backstretch, so I'm pleased that I was able to maintain the pace throughout. I went through the 400 as fast as I ran my open 400s last week, and put in 6k worth of work today versus 5k last Tuesday. It certainly didn't feel easy, particularly the last few, but given the outcome I can confidently call my first 600 workout a success.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Oh, It's Raining Again? Shocking.

AM: 58 mins. (8 miles)
PM: 3 miles + strength

I had an early morning meeting at Run For Your Life today, so naturally I figured the best way to get there was on foot. This was a great idea except that midway through our meeting it started pouring. Fortunately Tim tossed me a RFYL hat on my way out the door, which ended up saving my return trip from being utterly miserable (and instead was only marginally miserable). I definitely kept a quicker clip on the way home, but it didn't save me from being completely drenched.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Week in Review

68 miles
45 mins. weights
20 mins. ellip.
25 mins. pool

This week was just about perfect in terms of mileage and intensity. I had a solid shape-cutting workout on Tuesday, a so-so "predator" run Friday and a delightful long run on Sunday. The body is feeling strong and I can tell that my fitness is coming along every single day. I'm also excited to get settled in with the twice-weekly weights routine, as improving my strength and form can only help make me a better runner.

As expected, the performance list filled out quite a bit after big meets at UW, Grand Valley State and Iowa State this weekend. To my surprise, only two girls posted times faster than mine this weekend, making me 5th on the list. One other girl qualified automatically behind me, and two more broke 17 minutes, so we're shaping up to have a nice roster on the track come Nationals. There are still two weeks to qualify, but most of the big meets have come and gone, so I'm not expecting the list to change significantly between now and then.

Also, believe it or not, I'm excited to see the two girls on the list ahead of me because I know it will give me more people to run with in the big race. Their times are less than 10 seconds ahead of what I posted at the Armory, and I'm confident that I'll be in 16:40 shape or better come Nationals. That means no one should be out of reach in the race with the exception of Tanya and Neely Spence.

Four weeks to go!

Valentine's Day Long Run

1 hour 27 mins. (12 miles)

Twas a beautiful morning out at McAlpine today. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, the geese were squawking, and the muddy trails were traversed by many Queens athletes in pursuit of their long runs. I maintained a very relaxed pace with Tanya, Jess and Jenna for the first hour or so, enjoying the sunshine and conversation. Jess fell off a bit after that, complaining of hip pains, so our group was reduced to three for the remainder. We picked things up to sub-7 for the final few miles but never really pressed beyond that. Despite this being my longest run since August, my legs felt light and fresh throughout. Definitely a positive way to close out the week.

It is worth noting, however, that today's run wasn't nearly as exciting as last year's Valentine's weekend festivities. Oh well, I suppose you can't have a cross-country surprise visit and a post-marathon pig roast every year.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Snowy Saturday Morning

20 mins. core
5+ miles

We woke up to a winter wonderland outside for the second Saturday in almost as many weekends. Fortunately, there was far less ice than last time, making our short loop through Freedom Park less treacherous than we expected. However, with all the powdery stuff on the ground we certainly weren't breaking any land speed records, but given that both of us needed a recovery day it was probably for the best. Overall this run was a fun, relaxed way to start the day before enduring 7 hours of craziness at Run For Your Life.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Predator Run, Sort Of

AM: 20 mins. ellip.
45 mins. weights/strength
PM: 3.5-4 mile w/u
3 mile predator @17:39 (5:52, 5:53, 5:54)
4+ mile c/d
Total: 10.5-11 miles

In an effort to get caught up on blogging at my dad's behest, I'm going to quickly run down the most important points from the day:

1. As of this week, the QU track team is starting a circuit routine in the weight room twice a week. This is designed to improve our overall strength and form. What it will do in reality is make me sore in a brand new variety of areas.
2. My predator run turned into a prey run. It pretty much sucked. I felt like I was pushing pretty hard but just could not drop the pace. Oh well, I still rolled up on the guy wearing the Fuel Belt.
3. It is, in fact, much farther from Providence Day School to Boyce Park (and, consequentially, to the main path at McAlpine) than one would think. This explains the unusually lengthy warmup and cooldown and possibly also the fatigue I felt while running.
4. It snowed. Again. I had only finished the workout portion of my run a few seconds earlier when the flakes began to fall, slowly at first, then in earnest. At that moment, as I stood alone on the trail, surrounded by nothing and no one save for the snowflakes and my own thoughts and a few deer prancing across the path, I paused to admire the beauty of my surroundings and thoughtfully mused: "I am so freaking ready for winter to be over."

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Sleeping In

AM: 61 mins. (8.5 miles)
PM: 3 miles + strength

I set my alarm last night with the best of intentions. When it rudely awakened me at 5:15, I rolled over and asked Jordan if he wanted to get up. His reply: "You're the one who set the alarm." With the ball in my court, I turned the offending object off immediately and we fell back into a delicious slumber until 7:30.

It. Felt. Awesome.

Don't get me wrong; I missed running with the CRC crew at the Dowd. But it was toe-numbingly cold this morning and I didn't have to go in to work today, so there really was no compelling reason to rise before the sun. Instead, Jordan and I caught a few more zzz's and then embarked on what he has termed the "medium Freedom Park loop" shortly after 8am. We've both been busy this week and haven't spent much time together, so it was nice to have an hour to ourselves while putting in a few miles.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Windy Wednesday

AM: 53 mins. (7 miles)
Later AM: 25 mins. pool

Man, was it hard to get up this morning knowing that 20-degree temps and 35 mph winds were awaiting me. Only the knowledge that I'd be happy to get the run out of the way propelled me out the door. That, and the fact that Jordan got up before 5am to get some work done before leaving for the day. Once I made it to the Dowd and met up with the 6am group, things weren't so bad. Good conversation and a relaxed pace almost made me forget about the wind...almost.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Track Action

AM: 3 miles
PM: 2 mile w/u + strides
Target: 12x400 w/90 sec. rest faster than two weeks ago
Actual: 80, 80, 79, 78, 78, 77, 77, 75, 77, 77, 76, 74
2 mile c/d
Total: 7 miles

I stepped onto the track today with the goal of running this workout faster than two weeks ago while staying controlled and smooth throughout. As the splits show, I achieved that. My average today was 77.3, as opposed to 79.2 from the previous workout. Granted, the conditions weren't great that day--cold and windy--but today wasn't much better. Though the wind wasn't a factor, it was raining on and off all day; as a result, the track was very slick and the cold, damp air permeated my copious layers of clothing.

As is starting to become the Tuesday routine, I ran this workout completely solo but with company on the track. I wasn't able to leave work until 3 to head to JCSU, but I arrived just as Simon, Nelson, Futsum, Brian and Alex were beginning their own intervals. Better yet, since Jenna was there to supervise she stuck close by to time my intervals and offer encouragement. While I can't say that I felt fantastic today, I'll definitely take it as a solid step in the right direction.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Back at Home

AM: 57 mins. (7.5 miles)
PM: 4.5 miles
20 mins. core/strength

Nothing much of note to report about today's runs, other than that my legs finally feel completely recovered from Friday's race. Just in time, as I've got some shape cutting on the docket tomorrow.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Week in Review

68 miles
20 mins. ellip.
25 laps at the Armory
4 days in NYC
2 nights awake past midnight

Wow, where do I even begin to describe this week? Certainly, without a doubt, it was head and shoulders above my expectations. After having such a crappy fall and early winter riddled with injuries, I can't even articulate how much it means to me to finally achieve a breakthrough.

From here, however, there is much to be done. Currently I'm sitting at #3 on the DII national performance list behind Neely Spence and Tanya (Spence's teammate Mary Dell, who guided me through much of the race on Friday, is in fourth position with her 17:04 showing). That said, there are still four weekends before Nationals and many girls (including but certainly not limited to those from Adams State) have not yet run the distance. Look for the list to flesh out quite a bit in the next few weeks.

So what does this mean for me? For starters, I need to continue logging consistent, injury-free mileage. I almost hit 70 this week and would like to stay between 60 and 70 for the remainder of the indoor season. I also need to work on my speed. Championship races are rarely run at record pace; I'm anticipating Nationals to be a two-mile jog followed by a one-mile sprint. I can't close in sub-5 like Spence did this weekend (and trust me, no amount of track workouts will make that dream a reality), but I'd like to be able to run the last mile in 5:15 or faster if need be. Finally, I'm going to do everything I can to get my iron levels up. When I got my serum ferritin tested in August it was 16, which is very low (ideal women's numbers are above 30). As of last week my number is 25. I'd love to see it at 40 or even 50 within the next few months. This means continuing to supplement twice a day with vitamin C, plus eating lots of red meat and dark green veggies. Anyone who knows me knows that eating is my favorite hobby, so I'm hoping this goal can be achieved pretty easily.


Central Park Sunday

85 mins. (~11.5 miles)

This run was hands down the best way to close out our spectacular weekend in New York. For the first time since our arrival, we didn't embark on our run until after 10am and were greeted by blue skies and sunshine upon stepping outside. All seven of us plus Coach Simmons met in the lobby and headed over to Central Park together before going in separate directions to enjoy the gorgeous morning. I ended up doing the majority of the run with Tanya--I was supposed to meet up with Ozzie but through some sort of miscommunication we completely missed each other--and we ambled along at a relaxed pace for the entire run. Our desire for soft surfaces kept us on the bridle path the entire time, which made for lots and lots of loops, but the scenery was charming and the people watching was entertaining, so neither of us minded.

After showers and lunch it was time to head to the airport, so we all headed outside to hop into what we assumed would be two c
abs. Instead, we were greeted by the following...

Ballin'. Whatever that means.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Saturday in the City

AM: 3 miles + strength
PM: 4 miles

After yesterday's race and a fairly late night in the city, it would've been ideal to sleep
in this morning. However, Tanya, Jess and I really wanted to make it back to the Armory for Simon and Nelson's mile race at 10:50, which necessitated a fairly early start to the day. Despite snowstorms all around us, Manhattan somehow managed to dodge the winter precipitation, which meant the streets were clear and dry when we ventured out for an easy shakeout run. It was still windy and very, very cold--I was layered up like a homeless person--but I suppose that's all part of the NYC experience.

Brrr! Jess and me layered up in Central Park

Inside the fountain at Columbus Circle

The girls and I meandered around very slowly, which my weary legs appreciated, stopping every so often to snap a few photos. The turnaround point came before any of us were ready, but we had to get back quickly in time to clean up and make the 45-minute walk/subway/walk trip to the Armory. Turns out the trip was even longer for the boys this morning--they accidentally hopped on the #2 train instead of the #1 and made it halfway to the Bronx before realizing their mistake. They managed to hop off and run the rest of the way to the Armory, making it to their race with a few minutes to spare. Nelson didn't have the best race, clocking 4:18, but Simon ran brilliantly and missed the D2 auto time of 4:09 by an eyelash with 4:09.24. I know he would've liked to hit the mark, but I'm confident he'll make the cut with this provisional time.

Keeping it cool on the subway

Coach Simmons, TZ, Mad, Oz and Becky taking in some Armory action

After the morning race excitement subsided, I took a short walk from the Armory to Ozzie and Becky's place on 175th. Becky had graciously offered to cook brunch for me, Ozzie, and fellow Brown alums Madeleine and Pat, which meant that pancakes and eggs were soon enjoyed by all. Before long it was time for me to ride back downtown so that I could get in another easy run, shower, and then head back up to the Armory to watch Tanya race the mile. (Yes, it would've been easier to just bring my clothes to Oz and Becky's but no, I'm not that smart.)

I ventured out for my second Central Park run of the day solo (Dad, don't tell Mom) and had a great time. Despite the weather--neither the wind nor the cold had abated much since the morning--there were tons of people out and about, and I enjoyed every minute of this relaxed (read: slow as molasses) jaunt. An hour later I found myself back at the Armory to watch Tanya. She ran well, clocking another automatic qualifying time of 4:53 despite hoping to run a bit faster, capping off
a solid showing by Queens Track and Field at the New Balance Invitational.

Apparently Oliver Coconut is a full-blown alcoholic

The remainder of the evening was spent hanging out with Pat, Oz, Becky, and their beloved bird Oliver Coconut back on 175th. We rallied for a trip downtown later to meet up with Madeleine and her bro, which made for my second night in a row of a post-midnight bedtime. Crazy, right? Better get to bed so I can enjoy a Central Park long run in the morning.


Great times with great friends--no better way to spend a Saturday night!

Friday, February 5, 2010

New Balance Invitational 5k Recap

AM: 3 miles
PM: 2 mile w/u + strides
5k @ 16:54.67
Link to results
2 mile c/d
Total: 7 miles

Okay, so now that I'm finally back in Charlotte and have had a few hours to recover from my crazy weekend in NYC, I can share my official race recap from Friday's 5k. First of all, let me just state the obvious by saying that this went better than expected. And I'm applying that as a blanket statement, because I'm pretty sure every single person who knows me (including myself) had no idea things would play out this well. Given the relatively short amount of training time I've had leading up to this, both in terms of overall weekly mileage and workout volume, I wasn't expecting to run much faster than I did at this meet last year. And, to be honest, I would've been okay with that. I truly was just viewing this race as an opportunity to compete and gain experience for the rest of the season, with relatively few expectations. So, needless to say, a 33-second PR came as a pleasant surprise.

Anyhow, back to the beginning. I arrived at the Armory via subway about an hour before my race. Upon checking in I was told that the meet was running about 15 minutes ahead of schedule, which more or less threw me into a panic. Hence, I rushed through my warmup, hurriedly put on my number and uniform, and booked it back to the holding area--only to find out that, in my 30-minute absence, somehow the meet had gone from running early to running 15 minutes late. Awesome. I suppose the 29 heats of the 200 were to blame. At any rate, I went from a shortage of time to an excess, which proved to be equally frustrating. Lots of standing around, stretching and sporadic strides ensued. Finally, around 2:25pm, the race was ready to go.

I toed the line with 13 other girls, none of whom I knew personally but several I'd heard of. In particular, D2 star Neely Spence (whose father and coach at Shippensburg is the legendary Steve Spence) was easily recognizable; I knew enough to understand that she and I would practically be running two different races and that I shouldn't be concerned with her. Mainly my plan was to latch onto someone who was running approximately my pace and stick with them as long as possible. In a 25-lap race, it's critical to maintain contact with at least one other person. Running in no man's land is both physically and mentally exhausting and often proves futile, and I wanted to avoid that scenario if at all possible.

From the gun, the pace was quick. I wasn't sure how quick, as I was solely focused on falling in with the group, and had no real idea of pace until we approached the first mile marker. At this point in the race we were all more or less strung out in a long line, with Spence and Texas A&M's Christina Munoz near the front. I was sitting near the back of the pack, but this didn't trouble me. I knew many of the girls would come back, and I also knew we were cruising along at a much faster pace than I'd ever maintained before. Sure enough, I came through the mile at 5:22. In case there are women and children reading this, I won't be specific about the thought that went through my head, but suffice it to say I thought I was toast. This was much faster than I'd (perhaps naively) planned for, but due to the adrenaline and the crowds and the whole atmosphere I wasn't feeling much of anything in my legs or the rest of my body. In a situation like this, that's best case scenario.

The middle part of the race is pretty much a blur. Every time I came around the first turn, I could hear Simon yelling that I was on 17-flat pace, and I fought the urge to yell back that there was no way in hell I was running that fast. For the next few kilometers I planted myself squarely behind Mary Dell, a teammate of Spence's from Ship. She was running like a metronome and reeling in those who were falling off the pace, and I knew that under no circumstances could I let her gap me. 3k came and went in 10:05--yup, that's almost 20 seconds faster than I ran the open 3k two weekends ago--and at that point I first entertained the idea of breaking 17 minutes and attaining the automatic qualifying time for Nationals. The pace lagged slightly for the next kilometer--in looking at my splits post-race, I threw in a few 82-second laps as opposed to the 80s and 81s I'd been maintaining throughout--and with 1k to go I knew I'd have to find another gear and go around Dell to crack the 17-minute barrier. So, caution to the wind, that's what I did.

Meanwhile, in the actual race for the lead, Spence had broken away from the pack around 3k and was now blazing her way to a sub-5 minute last mile. As I was approaching two laps to go, she passed me to begin her bell lap. At that point I remember thinking that my mom would be able to see me on the live internet feed, as they usually follow the leaders and this was the one point in the race when I was sharing a frame with her. Hi, Mom! Spence would go on to finish in 16:13, the exact same time Tanya ran at UW last weekend, while Munoz finished second in 16:37. As for myself, I crossed the line to begin my own bell lap and spied 16:18 on the clock. I knew at that moment that if I could just run sub-40 for the last lap, I would break 17 and punch my ticket to Nationals. Thirty-six seconds later, that goal became a reality. I crossed the line in 16:54, utterly exhausted and in disbelief about what had just transpired.

To say I've been on an emotional high since the race would be an understatement. More than anything, it's given me a confidence and excitement for racing that I've never really had before. I know I still have a long way to go, but I'm encouraged by how far I've come in such a short amount of time. Five weeks remain until Nationals, and I know I can gain a ton of fitness between now and then. I mean, five weeks ago I was just getting my groove back when we were vacationing in California. There is still much work to be done, but this race was the best start to the season that I could've imagined.

New Balance Invitational 5k

16:54! I'm going to Nationals!!!

Will write more later, and results are incorrect on Armory web site for now, but who cares. Guess I better start my altitude training for ABQ...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Greetings From NYC

AM: 53 mins. (7+ miles)
PM: 3 miles + strength

What a busy day! It started before the crack of dawn, when Jordan and I dragged ourselves to the Dowd to meet the group again. (Remember how I said waking up early would get easier? For some reason that only applies on Wednesday. Thursday still sucks.) I hung back with Ben for most of the run, wanting to keep things super easy in light of tomorrow's race, and felt very relaxed and comfortable throughout.

The rest of the morning was spent packing and New York City! Woohoo! I'm so excited to be here for the weekend and to race tomorrow! The group o'travelers includes myself (racing the 5k), Coach Simmons, Jess (5k), Futsum (5k), Alex (5k), Simon (mile) and Nelson (mile). Tanya is also running the mile and will join us tomorrow. Our hotel is located right in the middle of everything; we are next door to the Letterman show, a block from Times Square, a 3-minute jog to Columbus Circle and Central Park, and less than half a mile from the Museum of Modern Art. The rooms, while small, seem palatial compared to the shoe boxes we stayed in last year. The best part about racing on Friday afternoon is I should have time to enjoy the city and explore my surroundings, plus meet up with some friends while I'm here.

Columbus Circle, with Central Park to the upper left of the frame

After settling in for a few hours, Jess and I embarked on a shakeout through Central Park. We entered through Columbus Circle and immediately found a wide dirt path on which to run. We ran past the soon-to-be defunct Tavern on the Green, then passed through an underpass where a bagpiper was playing a song that seemed to be just for us. We reluctantly turned around after what felt like just a few minutes; both of us were eager to continue, but needed to be mindful of the reason we were here. Besides, we'll have plenty more opportunities to explore the park before our 5pm flight on Sunday.

Tavern on the Green, an NYC landmark

The rest of the evening was very low-key. We're both anxious to race tomorrow--I run in the Championship section at 2pm and Jess runs in the Collegiate section at 9pm--and I'm looking forward to challenging the PR I set last year at this same meet. See you after the race!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The New Routine

AM: 56 mins. (7.5 miles)
PM: 20 mins. ellip. + strength

It looks like this whole "early morning from the Dowd" thing is becoming my mid-week routine. Good stuff.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Great Flood

AM: 3 miles
PM: 3 mile w/u + strides
Target: Mile @5k pace; 800 @2:40; 2x400
Actual: 5:44, 2:43, 73.5, 73.1
2 mile c/d
Total: 7 miles

Well. Just when I think the weather can't make things any worse around here, it ups the ante. Today I left work at 2:00 and met Tanya, Jenna, Simon, Futsum and Alex at JC Smith for our respective workouts. Upon pulling into the parking lot it became apparent that the track was flooded. Okay, not the entire track, but essentially the first 75-100 meters were several inches deep in water out to lane 5. It was also bitterly cold and drizzly, but that was the least of our concerns.

From that point we were faced with several options, none of which seemed particularly appealing. We could acknowledge that running is dumb, go home and put on dry clothes like normal human beings, and try again tomorrow. We could run the workouts as is, strapping on floaties and wading through the first 100 meters. Or we could slightly modify the workouts, starting each interval in lane 5 and swinging back out into 5 on the watery section of each lap. For better or worse, we chose option three. Needless to say, this meant that both our pace and distance would be more or less incalculable (or at least not accurately calculable). I wasn't too concerned, since my pre-race tuneup was more about putting some snap in the legs with a few short, brisk intervals. Tanya, on the other hand, was less than thrilled about attempting 5 x mile in the middle of a swamp.

Once we got started, everyone became focused on just grinding through and putting in work. As corny as it sounds, I was as proud of us today as I have been at any other race or workout this year. It was tough, it sucked, and everyone was miserable, but we put our heads down and stuck it out. In the end I'm not sure how fast I was actually running, as the 400s were the only intervals that actually measured the correct distance. (I started in lane 5 at the stagger...brought me back to my high school days.) The mile and the 800 were definitely longer than the prescribed distances, but I'm not sure how much longer. Oh well. What matters is that I felt strong and smooth the entire time, which is a feeling I hope to carry with me into Friday's race. I might not have gained much fitness from today's efforts, but I certainly earned a few points for toughness.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Mud Wrestling at McAlpine

AM: ~5.5 miles
20 mins. core/strength
PM: 7 miles

Good news: Most of the snow is melting at McAlpine. Bad news: The entire park is now a slushy, muddy, watery mess. Yes, to my chagrin, it was just as slow going as yesterday, only throw in some mud-splattered shorts and filthy shoes for good measure. In some parts the trail was still snowy and mushy, making for terrible footing, and the spots that had melted were just yucky. Overall this made for quite a bit of frustration and not too much fun.

Muddy feet, legs and apparently butts post-run

On the bright side, I need to give a shout-out to Tanya, my running partner for today's slog at McAlpine. She ran 16:13 at UW on Saturday, placing 2nd overall, and completely decimating her previous PR (which I think was around 16:50). Huge props for a job well done.