Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Alexander Graham Quarters

20 min. w/u (2.5 miles) + strides
Target: 20x400 w60 sec. rest; hammer #14 and #19
Actual: 77, 77, 77, 77, 77, 76, 76, 76, 76, 76, 76, 75, 76, 72, 76, 76, 75, 76, 72, 76
12 min. c/d (1.5 miles)
Total: 9 miles

I wasn't very optimistic going into this workout for several reasons: It was early (7:30am), it was cold (~40 degrees), it was solo, and I still can't breathe out of my nose. So, given the odds stacked against me, I think the end result was pretty solid.

Because I had to work from open to close today, I needed to get this done in the most efficient manner possible. Thus, instead of driving to JCSU, I opted to jog the mile and a half from our apartment to Alexander Graham Middle School. AG isn't the best track--it's essentially asphalt covered by a thin layer of rubber, plus lane one is significantly short of 400 meters--but it's nearby and the school is amenable to having non-students on the facility, making it the clear best case scenario for today's efforts.

To help mentally manage the volume of the workout, I told myself to break it up into sets of five. Somehow running four sets seemed much less daunting than biting off the full 20 at once. Knowing the way I typically feel during speed-based workouts, I expected the first few intervals to feel pretty awkward and uncomfortable before I settled into the pace. Today was no exception, and it took the entire first "set" for me to find a rhythm. Once I did, things flowed pretty smoothly. The most awkward part about the whole thing was running in lane 2, as it took a surprising amount of mental energy to keep myself from veering back into the first lane out of habit. Jenna showed up around #8 to help time me and offer encouragement, and I have to say I was pretty happy to have her there. I'm sure it's no coincidence that I picked up the pace slightly once she arrived, as just having someone present to keep me accountable helped tremendously with motivation. My hammers weren't anything to write home about, but I'm pleased that I was able to get back on pace immediately after both of them.

Looking at this workout as a whole, it added up to basically 5 miles at what I would imagine is close to my all-out mile pace. (That is, until I break 5 minutes later this spring, but that's a super secret goal that I haven't revealed to many people.) I wasn't able to average as quick of a pace as when I worked out last month with all the girls, but today I ran four more intervals and had 60 seconds between each one instead of 90. Oh, and I spiked up last time too. Taking all that into consideration (and the litany of excuses I mentioned at start of this post), I'd say the efforts are pretty comparable. Good stuff.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


AM: 7 miles
PM: 5 miles

Absolutely no air flow through my nose today. Mouth breathing while helping customers can't be good for business.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sick and Slow

AM: 5+ miles
15 mins. core
PM: 6 miles

Well, I'm still sick. Even worse, I came home from California to discover that Jordan was sick too. Neither of us can blame the other for this turn of events, seeing as both our illnesses cropped up when we were not together. But that doesn't stop us from sharing in collective misery now.

Needless to say, both these runs were done very slowly. On my afternoon jaunt I almost literally ran into Jordan and his Let Me Run kiddos heading down the hill from Park Road Montessori to the bike path. I stopped and chatted for a few minutes and met his co-coach Melissa. It was fun to see them in action and provided a momentary distraction from the overall crappiness of how I felt.

Positive take-away? The cherry blossoms are fully bloomed in Freedom Park and it's gorgeous.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Week in Review

68 miles
25 laps at Stanford
7 AFDs
3 airports (x2)

As you can imagine, I'm pretty happy with this week. I owe a big thank you to everyone for the shout-outs and kind words I've received via my blog, Facebook, phone and of course in real life. I ran a few solid races indoors but this has definitely been my breakthrough race, and I couldn't be happier with how things turned out. The craziest part is I currently have the top time in the country in D2 for this event. This will change as soon as Tanya races a 10k, if not before, but it's cool to have the top spot for at least a week or two.

So, you might be wondering, what does this mean for the rest of the season? Well that makes two of us, because I still don't have it figured out myself. Coach Simmons and I are currently working on a plan for the next few months, but much of it is still up in the air. Here's what I know for sure: my next 10k will be at the Payton Jordan Invitational (also known as the second Stanford meet) on May 1. In between now and then I plan to run a fast 5k somewhere, potentially at Penn Relays. I want to double at Nationals and, more importantly, want to bring my PR down to a more respectable time. I really think I'm in shape to run sub-16:30 and I'd love to add that to my resume.

My biggest, newest goal--one that I can hardly believe I'm putting in writing--is to qualify for the USATF Outdoor Track & Field Championships this summer. The automatic qualifying time for the 10k is 33:45. I realize it's another big jump, but I have almost three months to make it possible. Considering that three months ago I hadn't even done my first workout, I'm optimistic that a lot of progress can be made in that amount of time. And even if I don't hit the mark, there's nothing to lose by trying. After Friday night's race Jordan told me I need to stop setting such lame goals for myself--basically his version of "congratulations"--so I'm taking that to heart. If I can stay healthy and injury-free, there's no reason why I shouldn't be able to dip below 34 minutes in the right race.

Time to get busy.

Homeward Bound

AM: 72 mins. (10 miles)
PM: Travel

In the interest of time, my burgeoning sickness and race recovery, we opted to forego today's scheduled long run in favor of a medium-length effort. The three of us headed back out to the bay--only a different parking lot this time, several miles closer than the one we'd started from previously--for a relaxed, flat out-and-back along the dirt trail. Despite vowing to keep the pace in check, Tanya and I settled into a faster-than-prescribed clip. Blame it on the flat surface and the cool, crisp air I suppose. At any rate, it felt easy, and though my legs are a bit sore from Friday night they didn't seem to mind.

The remainder of the day was spent traveling back East. All was well until the last bit of our flight back into Charlotte, when we flew straight into the path of a nasty storm that was lambasting the area. I'm not exaggerating when I say the turbulence was so bad that two grown men on the plane, one of whom was seated directly behind me, threw up in flight. Needless to say, I have never been happier to exit an aircraft in one piece and with clean clothes in my entire life.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

San Francisco Saturday

AM: 51 mins. (7 miles)
15 mins. core

So you would think after a long day and a late-night race, Tanya and I would've slept in until at least noon today. Unfortunately that's not how it played out. Despite not getting to bed until nearly 1am, we were both begrudgingly wide awake at 6. That's only five hours of sleep, which is probably about five less than I needed. But what can you do? We watched some bad morning television, raided the hotel breakfast immediately after it opened, did some core work and otherwise wasted time until our 9am run with Simmons. We headed back to the bay for an easy out and back, and I was surprised to find that my legs were barely sore (of course the race was only about eight hours ago, so tomorrow might be a different story).

When in eat clam chowder out of a bread bowl even though
clams are bottom feeders.

Wanting to take advantage of the gorgeous weather and our last afternoon in Cali, we opted to take a trip into San Francisco for a few hours with Tanya's parents. They'd driven in from the desert to watch her race and offered to pick us up on their way to Fisherman's Wharf. I think everyone else in the area had the same idea as we did because the place was packed, but it was still fun to walk around and enjoy the sights. By the car ride home, however, I could tell the race and lack of sleep was starting to take its toll. My throat developed that tickly, scratchy feeling that usually precipitates the onset of a cold, and I felt steadily worse as the evening wore on. Instead of taking part in our planned 3-mile shakeout, I opted to drink a few glasses of juice and crawl into bed just before 9. Let's hope I feel better tomorrow.

View of the infamous Alcatraz prison from Fisherman's Wharf


AM: 3 miles
PM: 2 mile w/u + strides
Target: 10k race @35:30 or faster (5:42 pace)
Actual: 34:37 (5:34 pace); 5k splits 17:23; 17:13
10 min. c/d (1+ mile)

So this was unexpected. I mean, I figured I was fit enough to beat 35:30, but given my lack of 10k-specific training I honestly thought low-35 was best case scenario. I was wrong.

Leading up to the track meet, Tanya and I enjoyed a pretty relaxed day. In the morning we took a field trip out to the bay with Simmons to get in a light shakeout, if for no other reason than to kill some time. We drove past the Google campus to the same spot we hit up last year and spent a few minutes on our feet soaking up the morning sunshine. The rest of the day was spent lounging around the hotel and hanging out at Starbucks before finally heading up to the track around 7. Tanya would be racing in the fast heat of the 5k at 8:30, and when she left to go warmup I booked it back to the car. The air grew chilly as soon as the sun disappeared behind the trees, and I knew it wasn't smart to sit around shivering for the next three hours.

I emerged from our rented Dodge Charger (ballin!) in time to watch Tanya's race from the top of the home curve. Hoping to break 16 minutes, she ran smart and stuck onto the lead group from the gun. I cheered like a mad woman every time she passed me, willing her keep her with the pack. She ran smart and very tough, digging for every second on the last lap, but ultimately came up just a few seconds shy in 16:03. D2 star Jessica Pixler absolutely dominated the field and cruised to a 15:44 victory, firmly establishing herself as the woman to beat regardless of division. Watch her ridiculous performance here.

Before I knew it, warmup time had arrived. I set off into the darkness along the same path that Tanya and I ran last night, alone with my thoughts. This is when I had my first inkling that the race was going to be good. Normally on my warmup I'm able to assess how my legs feel, whether it be tired and heavy, fresh and light, or somewhere in between. Tonight I felt nothing. I knew I was running and I knew my legs were carrying me, but I didn't feel them at all. It was quite strange, actually. At the time I took it as a good sign and hoped the feeling would carry over into the race.

10:10pm was go time. I lined up on the track with 30 other girls, all of us shivering. I would warm up as soon as the race began, but in the minutes leading up to the start the air was downright cold. Just like at indoor Nationals, I felt absolutely calm on the line. I knew that parts of the next 35 minutes would hurt like hell, but I was prepared for anything.

Once the race began, I settled comfortably into a chase pack. Chico State runner (and fellow D2 competitor) Tori Tyler shot out to the lead, gapping both my pack and a smaller pack in front of me after the first mile. I didn't know enough about her to know if the strategy was courageous or reckless; in the end it would turn out to be the latter. In the moment, I told myself to stay relaxed in the pack and find a rhythm. It wasn't until the first mile that I glanced at the clock; it read 5:32. A little faster than goal pace, but it felt like a jog. I rolled with it. In fact, the entire first 5k felt like a jog. Normally I'm in race mode and incapable of having coherent thoughts, but tonight I felt aware of everything: the announcer, the shouts of encouragement from Tanya and Simmons, the mindless songs floating in and out of my head. I don't have any other way to put it except that I knew I was in the middle of something good. I was running with the pack, moving up when necessary. I passed through 5k in 17:23, well ahead of 35:30 pace. I remember thinking how easy it felt, and for the first time the thought of negative splitting the race entered my mind. My breathing was still very controlled, and sounded much more relaxed than the breathing of those around me. But even though I still felt good and was tempted to pick up the pace, I held back.
The 10k is a long race, longer than I'd remembered, and there was still plenty of running to be done. I told myself to stay on pace for at least another mile before making a move.

Meanwhile, Chico State's Tyler was moving backwards. Within the span of a few laps she was swallowed up by the lead pack and spit out the back, and I knew I could catch her before the end of the race. I was still undecided about when to make a move, but fortunately I didn't have to think about it much longer. Rhiannon Jones, an athlete from UAB, swung around me and picked up the pace, and I made the split-second decision to go with her. Though I hadn't met Jones, I knew who she was; my good buddy Blake Boldon coaches her and we share similar PR's from indoors. Miles 4 and 5 passed with me sitting firmly on her shoulder, still feeling comfortable but definitely noticing the shift in pace. I felt antsy, ready to kick, but there were still several laps left. I told myself that with three to go I would move. I swung around Jones, expecting her to fall back, but she responded and stayed right with me. We passed a sputtering Tyler with two laps left, and at this point I finally felt the weight of the race descending upon me. I was ready to finish the thing. At the same time, I knew I was running the race of my life, and part of me wanted to hold onto it for a little while longer. I've never really experienced that in a race before, but I felt it tonight.

At the bell lap, I gave the clock a passing glance and quickly calculated that I would be well clear of 35 minutes. I thought of a text message Simon had sent me earlier in the day--"remember, nobody has beaten you on the last lap in 2010"--and went for it. Jones didn't respond. My legs and lungs burned all the way to the finish, but I never felt out of control. I watched the clock ticking ever closer to 34:40 as I approached, but when I crossed the line I knew I had beaten that time. It was actually hard to believe, that I'd run the time feeling as good as I did. I wasn't truly pressing until the last mile and a half, but even then there was never a doubt in my mind that I had something left.

So, there it is. Almost a 2-minute PR (my previous best was 36:12 from this race last year). I know I still have a long way to go. But, like I said yesterday, it's pretty rewarding to see how far I've come.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Go West

AM: 6 miles
PM: 3 miles + 800m on/off strides = 3.5 miles

What. A. Long. Day. In case I'd forgotten since our trip to Albuquerque a few weeks ago, today reminded me what a pain it is to travel across the country. Despite leaving for the Charlotte airport at 9:30am, we didn't arrive at our hotel in Palo Alto until past 6pm Pacific time. In other words, 12 hours later. This included a layover in Houston and a delayed second leg of our trip, which was already scheduled at four hours long to begin with. Even though I'd been snacking sporadically throughout the day--and by "sporadically" I mean about once an hour--I was beyond ravenous when we got to the hotel. Unfortunately for me, we still needed to get in a shakeout run at the Stanford track before getting dinner.

Coach Simmons, Tanya and I rolled up to the track just as the sun was setting. There were a few stragglers still going over their preparations for tomorrow's races, but for the most part we were on our own. Tanya and I set off on an easy jog on the campus trails, enjoying the fresh air and the opportunity to finally be outside. Believe it or not, all my hunger and frustration melted away as we set off into the night, and after a few sluggish minutes my body felt the best it had all day. Funny how a run can do that sometimes. As the miles clicked by, Tanya and I reminisced about how each of us had gotten to this point. Three years ago Tanya attended the Stanford meet as a spectator, fresh off a then-PR of 18:10 in the Carlsbad 5k. Tomorrow she will try to break 16 minutes for the same distance. I came here for the first time last year, as wide-eyed as an 18-year-old freshman in my first collegiate outdoor track race, hoping to best my previous road PR of 37:50. Now my goal is to run at least as fast as the 35:30 automatic qualifying time for Nationals. Not to say that we're out here breaking records now, but we're both pretty proud of how far we've come. Now it's time to put everything together when it counts.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Signs of Spring

AM: 53 mins. (7 miles)
PM: Work

I finally got my morning running buddy back today. Enjoyed a nice jaunt through Freedom Park before heading off to a loooong day at RFYL. The cherry blossoms are blooming and it's fun to wake up each morning and see how many new buds opened up while we were sleeping. Spring has finally sprung in Charlotte, and I couldn't be happier.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Stanford Pre-Race Workout

AM: 2.25 mile w/u
Target: 3xmile @6:00 w/4 mins. rest
Actual: 5:55, 5:57, 5:48
1.75 mile c/d + strides
Total: 7 miles
PM: 20 mins. core + strength
3 miles

As you can probably gather from the prescribed pace, this workout was intended to be a light pre-race effort. Nothing taxing, but quick enough to get the legs turned over a bit. McAlpine was the chosen venue, both for the soft surfaces and because the JC Smith track is still closed for renovations. I persuaded Jenna to join me for this venture, which made things much more enjoyable than they would've been solo.

Since this wasn't terribly exciting I don't have much else to add, but that's sure to change by week's end. Tomorrow I'm working all day and Thursday morning we leave for California, so it's about to get pretty hectic around here. I'll update when I can.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Boring Monday

AM: 63 mins. (8.5 miles)
PM: 3 miles

I set off on a solo MFPL (medium Freedom Park loop) before work this morning. Jordan mentioned some excuse about having just run a marathon or something, and opted to stay inside and drink coffee instead of joining me. Lame. As a result, the run was fine but somewhat boring without anyone to talk to. Tomorrow I have a light pre-race workout and then nothing but easy miles until Friday night's race.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Week in Review

75 miles
4 AFDs
3 races
5 days til Stanford

Just thinking back about this week makes me tired all over again. There were several late nights and early mornings, not to mention races run and spectated. As far as training goes, I'd say this was my best week yet this spring. I hit my highest mileage since the summer and nailed both my workouts. With less than a week to go until the Stanford Invite 10k, all signs are pointing to me being able to hit the auto time for Nationals. Let's hope I can put things together when it counts.

Tobacco Road Marathon Adventure

AM: 85 mins. (11-12 miles)
PM: 20 mins. pool

For a very thorough analysis of the race from Jordan's perspective, click here. For some insights from the best girlfriend in the entire world who woke up at 3am to accompany her boyfriend to his marathon, continue reading below.

The first thing I remember clearly after the aforementioned 3am wakeup is hearing the announcer counting down to the start of the race. After spending the entire drive sleeping, I had apparently crawled into the backseat once we parked and continued napping until 7. I woke up feeling surprisingly refreshed, eager to start my own run and hopefully catch a glimpse or two of Jordan on the course. After asking for directions to the Tobacco Trail from someone in the parking lot, I set off down the winding country road. I'd thought the trail was only a mile or so away, but I misunderestimated (sorry, can't pass up a good Dubya joke on the eve of the healthcare reform vote). Instead, it was closer to three miles away. Fortunately there was little traffic and plenty of shoulder for me to run on, so the beginning miles passed uneventfully.

Once I reached the trail, I realized I had no idea where Jordan was or when I might see him. It was perfectly coincidental that less than five minutes later I spotted the lead motorcycle coming straight toward me. Expecting to see Jordan close behind him, I was somewhat surprised to see a tall guy in a Brooks singlet and a lanky Hispanic (who turned out to be Moroccan). The Brooks guy looked calm and relaxed, but I detected a hint of panic on the Moroccan's face. Not good for what I found out was only mile 11 of the race. About 30 meters back was Jordan, looking fine but not particularly happy. I shouted at him that the second place guy would come back soon enough, then asked how he was feeling. "I'm hurting," was the answer I received but definitely not the one I was expecting this early in the race. As I watched him disappear into the distance, I couldn't help but to feel slightly worried. There was still a lot of running to be done.

The American Tobacco Trail

I continued down the trail for a few miles, enjoying the tree cover and the flat dirt path. I'm sure it would be boring to train here every day, but I really enjoyed the trail this morning. I would've liked to go farther, but at some point I realized I needed to turn around and head back the way I came if I wanted to beat Jordan back to the finish. There was nowhere else for me to see him during the race, which meant I had no idea whether he'd found a second wind or dropped out or something in between. Talk about suspense.

After reaching the car and taking a few minutes to change clothes, I headed over to the finish line just in time to hear the announcer say that the lead marathoner was approaching the 24-mile mark. By my calculations that would put him at around a 2:20 finish, which meant that it definitely wasn't Jordan unless things had taken a dramatic turn for the better. However, there were clearly some miscalculations involved with that first report, because it was almost a full 10 minutes later that he announced the leader approaching the 25-mile mark. This would put him on 2:25 pace, which didn't entirely rule Jordan out as a contender. Still, I wasn't optimistic; the Brooks guy had appeared so strong, and Jordan hadn't seemed mentally prepared to charge after him. Sure enough, a few minutes later the Brooks guy (who turned out to be Gavin Coombs, a former NC State runner and an employee at one of Jordan's accounts) came into view, then crossed the finish line just over 2:25. Jordan was still out there, but how far back? Had he overtaken the Moroccan? Had he dropped out and decided to Gallowalk to the finish? Fortunately I didn't have to wait long for the answers to these burning questions, as I spied his Craft singlet approaching a minute or so later. It was obvious from his facial expression that he was pretty ready to wrap things up, but his stride and arm carriage still looked strong. He crossed the finish line a few seconds later in 2:27.17, a 3-second PR. It would be six full minutes later before the Moroccan finished in third. Needless to say, he'd died a pretty painful death.

Speaking of painful, Jordan looked to be in rough shape after the race. It wasn't until several hours and a few pieces of pizza later that he started looking and sounding like himself. Though he hadn't had the best of races by any measure, I was tremendously proud of how he stayed tough even when things weren't going well. I guarantee he will learn more about himself and about the nature of the marathon from this race than from any of the others he's run. And while I didn't enjoy the whole 3am thing, I was glad that I finally had the chance to accompany him to one of his races. Actually, come to think of it, he won the two marathons I didn't attend and now placed second at the one where I showed up. Hmmm. Maybe I should stay home next time after all.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Shamrock 4 Miler...But Wait, There's More!

AM: 2 mile w/u
Target: 5 mile predator @5:50-5:45
Actual: 4 mile race @22:52 (5:43 pace); ~5 mins. rest; 1 mile @5:41
~2.5 mile c/d
Total: 9.5 miles

PM: 2 mile w/u
Target: 800m race @don't drop out

Actual: 2:28 (in trainers sucka)
1 mile c/d
Total: 3.5 miles

Start line of the Shamrock 4 Miler. Photo courtesy of Ben Hovis and FB.

More later. I just got home and I need a shower, a snack and a glass of wine. In no particular order.

Update: Okay, it is now Sunday evening and I have a bit more time to update this entry. First, let me say how much I enjoyed the Shamrock 4 Miler this morning. I haven't done a road race in a very long time, and I'd almost forgotten how much I appreciate the atmosphere of an early Saturday morning spent with a few thousand fellow runners.

From the start, my plan was to run this at tempo effort, then to add on another hard mile at the end so I could approximate the five-mile effort that Simmons desired. I'd spoken to Caitlin Chrisman the night before and she said she was hoping to run between 5:55 and 5:45, so I figured I'd tag along at the same pace. Paul Mainwaring was also looking for a tempo-ish effort and agreed to be our escort/bodyguard, so it appeared a though a good group was shaping up. I learned from Paul and from our pre-race warmup that this course wa
s ill-suited for a predator run, as the first two miles were gently rolling downhill followed by two reciprocal miles of gently rolling uphill. Oh well. On the flip side, it was a gorgeous day for a run: sunny, cool but not cold, and absent any traces of wind. As we toed the line, I felt excited to spend the next several minutes enjoying a hard run.

From the start, I could tell that the pace was quick. I wasn't laboring but definitely wasn't comfortable, yet the noticeable downhill of the first mile prevented us from reining in the pace. Caitlin, Paul and I passed the first mile marker in 5:41, then continued to press the pace. Just after the 180-degree turnaround we hit the second mile marker in 5:35. At that point I knew I was in trouble, in the sense that I wouldn't be able to continue cutting down the pace for the remainder of the run. We were returning uphill and I didn't want to feel the effort crossing the threshold from tempo to full-on race mode. Caitlin was running strong and she and Paul began to pull away from me slightly, and I made the conscious decision to keep my effort where it was instead of pressing. The third mile was my slowest--I think my watch read 5:49--and this was also the section that felt the hard
est. It was also when I was blown away by the number of people cheering for Caitlin and me from the opposite side of the road. (Since we were re-tracing our steps at this point, that meant the majority of race participants were still heading down the hill in the opposite direction.) At one point I asked Caitlin aloud if she personally knew all of these people, as I lost track of the number of "Good job, ladies!" and "Way to go, girls!" that were shouted in our direction. Their support provided a much-needed boost during the toughest portion of the race.

The final mile was neither easier or harder than the third; we were still running uphill, though not quite to the same degree as the third mile. Caitlin and Paul were still just ahead of me at this point and running as strong as ever, and it became clear that I would have to throw in a serious surge if I wanted to catch her. Instead, I kept the effort where it was, crossing the line before 23 minutes and notching a huge 4-mile PR (although, let's be honest, I didn't really have much else to compare it to). I took a few minutes to stretch, drink some water, congratulate Caitlin, chat with Jordan and Dr. Duffy, and catch my breath before embarking
on another hard mile. After that I barely had enough to cool down and enjoy a slice of the coveted Great Harvest bread before I had to head home and get ready for the track meet.

Doing work (sort of) at UNCC

Flash forward to three hours later. This entry is already long enough, so I'll spare you the sordid details of my parched and sun-chapped afternoon at the UNCC track. I will say that I broke 2:30 in the 800 in trainers, which I consider more impressive than both my recent All-American placing and my four-mile effort this morning. This says less about those efforts and more about my complete lack of speed. But seeing as my goal was to not drop out (I like to shoot for the stars), I'd call this a rousing success. In fact, let's call the entire day a rousing success. I ran five miles just slightly over the pace I need to run for the 10k next weekend, and the best part is that there are no hills on the Stanford track (unless they've been added since I was there last year). I'm confident that unless something goes horribly wrong, I can hit the auto time next weekend. Today was also the first time I saw a glimpse of what the racing scene might be like once I graduate from Queens this summer, and it looks pretty darn good. Great people, positive attitudes, competitive performances, and did I mention Great Harvest? Nice work, Charlotte. Nice work.

Friday, March 19, 2010

UNCC Spectating

AM: 58 mins. (8 miles)

I had a great time on this relaxed run from Boyce with Jordan and Jenna. The weather has taken a turn for the better around here and it's a pleasure to be outside enjoying it. My legs felt greatly improved from yesterday as well, which always makes the time pass more quickly.

Speaking of quickly, some speedy times were recorded by Queens lady tracksters at the UNCC 49er Classic tonight. I watched as Maraya hit the provisional mark in the 1500 (4:37), Patricia rocked her first race as a Royal (17:53 for 5k), Jess FINALLY and after many hard-fought attempts broke 18 in the 5k (17:59) and Holly cruised to a PR and victory in the slow heat (18:22). The air was cold for us spectators but the vibes were good and it was a beautiful night to be outside. I will return to the meet tomorrow after the Shamrock 4 Miler, as it appears I will be suiting up and quite literally taking one for the team after all. Look for an 800 in the 2:40-2:45 range from these old legs.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

2 x Loop

AM: Loop (5+ miles)
15 mins. core
PM: Loop (5+ miles)
Total: 10.5 miles

Ever original, I chose to run a short Freedom Park loop in the morning and follow it up with--you guessed it--another short Freedom Park loop in the afternoon. The first was solo, the second was with JSK, and both were with heavy legs. I blame the combo of yesterday's workout plus pulling an all-day shift on my feet at the store (10 to 7), neither of which left me feeling very chipper today. I ran both loops without my watch to ensure that I would take things slow and easy.

Tomorrow and Friday the Queens team will be participating in the UNCC 49er Classic just up the road. It's still undetermined whether or not I'll have to run--this is one of the meets where we need a certain number of participants in order to maintain our team standing with the NCAA--but if I do it will be something inconsequential. Either way, Coach Simmons has me down for a five-mile predator run on Saturday morning, which I plan to complete at the Shamrock 4 Miler put on by RFYL. I figured it would be more fun than running solo at McAlpine, plus there's the promise of a green t-shirt and free Great Harvest samples after the race. I'm sold. As of now I plan to run the race, take a quick break to walk through the chute and drink some water, then run another hard mile to finish out the five-mile predator simulation. Then eat the bread.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

McAlpine Mile Repeats

2.25 mile w/u
Target: 6xmile @5:40 w/3 mins. rest
Actual: 5:44, 5:36, 5:33, 5:32, 5:34, 5:29
1.25 mile c/d
Total: 9.5 miles

Considering that this workout was done on the trail, at 7am, in 40-degree weather, I was pretty pleased with how things went. Jordan already stole my thunder and posted a solid recap, which means I'm once again taking the easy way out and linking to his blog for all the details. One thing I will add is that I found a similar workout from last spring for comparison's sake. Almost exactly a year ago, Jordan and Scotty paced me for 5xmile on the OU track, averaging about 5:45. Today I averaged 10 seconds faster per mile for six intervals on the trail, which is a significant improvement. Two weeks after that workout I ran 36:11 at Stanford. Two weeks after this workout I'm shooting for the outdoor auto time of 35:30.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Back at Sea Level

Tuesday, 3/15
AM: 44 mins. (6 miles)
PM: 4 miles

Monday, 3/14
AM: 65 mins. (9 miles)
PM: 3 miles

I know I'm taking an unacceptable shortcut by both merging two days into one blog and by linking to Jordan's blog instead of typing my own entry, but I'm getting antsy about being a few days behind and this seemed to be the best remedy. I'll shape up tomorrow with a legit entry. Promise.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Week in Review

67-68 miles
7 days in New Mexico
7 AFDs
25 laps in ABQ

I feel like everything to say about this week has already been said. Good stuff. Time to move on to outdoors.

Rio Grande Finale

AM: 75 mins. (10+ miles)
PM: Travel

Tanya, Jenna and I didn't get much sleep last night, and it wasn't because we were out late celebrating (although I'll plead the 5th on whether or not Simon and Nelson could say the same). Instead, a combination of springing the clocks forward plus a late morning flight meant we had to be up and out the door for our run before 7am. I'm not going to lie; there was some grumbling when our alarms went off just after 6, and the thought of sleeping in briefly flashed across my mind. Instead, we got dressed and met Jenna in the lobby to drive to our now-familiar destination: the Rio Grande River trail.

The sky was barely lightening as we started the run. For the first few miles no one spoke, and the only sounds were the shuffling of our feet and the exhalation of our breath. It wasn't until our five-mile turnaround that we all felt awake enough to maintain some semblance of a conversation. My legs felt tired, though not sore--that's what happens when you run a slow race, I suppose. Even my calves weren't nearly as tight as I'd expected, despite running 5k in spikes (which, for those of you who are counting, is about 4.9k farther than I've run in spikes in the past year). By the end of the run today I finally felt decent, though not great. I've got to admit, part of me is sad to leave New Mexico behind. It's a great training venue and the dry air does wonders for my hair. But overall I'm excited to be returning home this evening.

Thanks to everyone for their support and encouragement over the past week! I'll see you back in Charlotte.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

D2 Indoor Nationals 5k Race Recap

Since I have free time and free internet while on a layover in Phoenix, I figured it would be ideal to recap last night's race while it's still fresh on my mind. Before I do, let me say a few quick words about Nelson's stellar performance in the 800. Tanya and I were able to watch his race from the corner of the convention center just before leaving on our warmup, and it's no exaggeration to call it inspiring. For a guy who didn't qualify for Nationals until the last chance meet, then almost didn't make the finals, to run in second position wire to wire in the finals is pretty incredible. Everyone who knows Nelson knows that he is an amazing person, and now they will realize he's an amazing runner as well. Kudos.

But now let's talk about me. That's what this blog is about anyway. (Edit: I ran out of time on my layover. I am now writing this on Monday evening after a marathon day of travel Sunday.) Tanya and I warmed up on the sidewalks of downtown ABQ, saying little but sharing similar emotions. Her goal was to beat pre-race favorite Neely Spence and claim the individual title; mine was to finish in the top 8 and make All-American. Both of us knew what we had to do; now we just needed to execute our race plans and run smart.

With just a few minutes before the race, the group of 15 runners was led onto the track and permitted to run a few strides. The crowd immediately erupted into cheers once we stepped out, and I fought to keep back the nervous energy welling up inside. I tried not to think about my parents watching in the stands, or about Jordan watching the live feed at home, and just blocked everything out. I toed the starting line feeling unusually calm. For a moment everything was still, and then the gun went off.

Immediately it became apparent that no one wanted to lead the race. Within a few laps I could tell the pace was lagging, though I had no idea how much. Even if Simmons or Jenna were to read out splits there was no way I could hear them, as the crowd noise swallowed everything. At any rate, it felt like we were literally jogging. The first time I spied the clock was as we crossed the 1400-meter mark. It read 5:00. Later Jenna would tell me that the announcer described the pace as "pedestrian," and I couldn't agree more. We passed through the mile a lap later around 5:42, still bunched up in one solid group. I remember being surprised to look up and see Tanya directly in front of me; shouldn't she be at least half a lap ahead? For a moment I thought about passing her and then checked myself; in hindsight I wonder what that kind of move would've done to shake up the race. Instead, I stayed wedged inside the lead--and only--group, taking pains to avoid being spiked and elbowed with every step. Because of the painfully slow way that things were playing out, this ended up being an extremely physical race. I'm no stranger to jostling within the first few laps, but it's a bit unusual to be forced to jockey for position throughout the entire race. No one wanted to cede their positions, and I have no doubt it took a toll on everyone as things progressed.

The middle portion of the race is more or less a blur, as not much changed. I remained consistently in the back of the lead pack, never falling off but not really moving up either. I kept waiting for a big move to be made by Tanya or Neely up front but it never came--at least not until the last possible minute. With three laps to go I could sense the feeling of urgency overwhelming the group, and I knew that it was almost time to go. A quick head count told me I was in 10th place, two spots out of All-American. Something had to change, and quick. With two laps to go I heard Jenna's voice for the first and only time, as clearly as a bell: "Just go around the outside!" I didn't even think about how risky it was. I just went. Swinging wide, I gathered myself on the backstretch and prepared to kick at the bell. Tanya and Neely were just out of reach, but I saw everyone else as fair game. I sprinted with everything I had on the last lap, swinging wide into lane three to move around the group from which I'd sought shelter for most of the race. I had no idea who I was passing, or how many, but I knew I was digging as deep as I could in the final meters. I crossed the line breathless and exhausted, knowing I'd made All-American but unsure about the final standings. It wasn't until I saw Jenna at the rail that I learned I'd placed 5th, and that Tanya had been outkicked by Neely to earn 2nd.

Even as I type this two days later, the emotions I felt immediately after the race are almost tangible. I came into this indoor season without enough training or enough confidence, and totally lacking in expectations. To qualify for Nationals last month was, at the time, a huge surprise. Even as my training has progressed, even as I arrived in New Mexico last weekend, part of me still felt like it was a fluke. Like I didn't deserve to be here. After this championship race, I know that not only do I deserve to be here, but that I can run with anyone. Well not, say, Usain Bolt, but you know what I mean. When I crossed the finish line I became a different runner than I was when the race started. This new runner, the one I will be going forward, is ready to face new and exciting challenges.

Outdoor season, bring it on.

Three Queens All-Americans

AM: 3 miles
PM: 2 mile w/u + strides
5k race @17:26; 5th place
(-27 sec. altitude conversion = 16:59)
2 mile c/d
Total: 7 miles

I'm stealing the title from Jordan but that's because it's late and I'm exhausted. I'll write more tomorrow. For now, let me share that Queens will be taking home three All-American honors from this weekend's meet: Nelson placed 2nd in the 800, Tanya was 2nd in the 5k and I placed 5th. Not a shabby day for our program, I'd say.

I'm stealing the photo from Jordan too. This is the top 8 accepting our
All-American awards after the race.

A full race update will be forthcoming. It was very slow, very tactical, very physical, very much unlike any other race I've run. Overall I'm satisfied with the race, but I'm sure I'll have more insight once I've had time to sleep and reflect. Good night!

Friday, March 12, 2010

D2 Indoor Nationals: Day 1

AM: 45 mins. (6 miles) + strength
PM: Meet

And we're off to the races! Today was the first day of the national meet, and I was front and center for most of it. We started the day with a nice relaxed run along the river--it was as flat and sunny and perfect as yesterday, and I loved every minute of it. Tanya and I ran the first half of this run with Jenna, then parted ways with her at the turnaround as she had a tempo run planned for the second half. We ran into Coach Simmons and his f
riend Mike Hillyard, the coach at Southern Indiana, a few minutes later and joined up with Mike for the rest of the run. He joked that he was going to gradually work the pace down to wear us out before the race, as we will be competing against his best athlete tomorrow night (Mary Ballinger, the 2009 outdoor steeplechase champ). Fortunately Tanya and I were too smart to fall for his scheme, and refused to run faster than 7:20 pace for the rest of the run.

I headed over to the meet early in the afternoon, as my parents had arrived in town and were waiting for me at the convention center. Huge props to John and Sharon for not only flying out for my race, but also sitting through countless races they had absolutely no interest in just to spend some time with me. Oh, and for buying my dinner too. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

Simon on the starting line (far right)

Now back to the meet: Simon was the first Queens athlete up to the proverbial plate, and he took off just past 4:30pm for the second heat of the mile. Three athletes would automatically advance from each heat, plus the next three overall on time. This meant that only three athletes would be cut from the finals. Simon was stoked when he found out yesterday that he would be in the second heat, as the first heat is usually notoriously slow, but unfortunately things didn't go to plan today. Apparently Adams State wanted to make sure all six of their guys advanced automatically, because the three of them in the first heat shot out like cannonballs--on 4-minute pace through 600 meters--breaking the rest of the field and finishing in 4:10. The final runner in the first heat finished in 4:13--much faster than Simon wanted the race to go--and as a result he was forced to run for his life from the gun. He did his best but couldn't respond when the pace changed at halfway and struggled to a 4:16 finish. He would not go on to the finals.

Nelson preparing for his race

Next up was Nelson in the 800. Also in the second heat, he would have the advantage of seeing those before him. The first heat wasn't as slow as he'd hoped, but wasn't untouchable either, and I knew Nelson would have a chance to advance if he ran smart. Though he didn't end up running one of his fastest times, he competed well and hung on when the pack kicked the final lap. He nabbed the 9th and final spot for tomorrow's finals, which means he will claim All-American honors if he can beat one guy.

The rest of the meet was fairly predictable. Adams destroyed the field in the men's DMR, and Jessica Pixler ran down Neely Spence to earn Seattle Pacific the women's DMR title. Tanya and I watched this race with interest, as several of our competitors for tomorrow night were competing in tonight's DMR. Naturally, we're hoping they're all too exhausted from their efforts today to challenge for the top spots tomorrow. Could be wishful thinking, but I'm going to run with it. Pun intended.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Rio Grande River Trail

PM: 51 mins. (7 miles)
4 laps on the track = 800m
tal: 7.5 miles

This morning we departed our home in Santa Fe and traveled down the mountain to Albuquerque. Our residence for the next few days will be the Holiday Inn Express--not quite as exotic as the Hotel St. Francis, but not as creepy either (and it has a bigger fridge and microwave). Though still incredibly windy, the temperatures in ABQ are noticeably warmer than in Santa Fe, and blue skies welcomed us into town.

Yup, it's this flat the entire way. Heaven.

Jenna and Tanya promised me a flat run this afternoon, and they did not disappoint. Just a few minutes' drive from our hotel is the Rio Grande River, and alongside it runs a pancake flat bike path and dirt/gravel trail. I was in heaven. Don't get me wrong; this would be boring if it became a daily run, but after all our mountainside shenanigans on this trip it was a much needed respite. Take a look at our run time too--we actually averaged 7:15s today as opposed to 7:45+ on other days with the same amount of effort. Obviously the drop in altitude factors into that, as does the change in terrain. Whatever the case, it makes me pretty happy.

Not quite dressed to compete just yet

After the run we took a quick trip to the convention center to do a few laps on the track. Stepping inside and seeing the venue was the first time I felt a wave of nervousness wash over me, but it quickly subsided once Tanya and I strapped on our spikes and stepped on the track. Simmons wanted us to do a few laps at race pace just to get a feel for the rhythm. It felt relaxed and easy, just as we'd hoped. Now there's not much to do between now and Saturday except to rest up, relax and cheer on our teammates.

QU at the pre-meet banquet. Not a bad looking group.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cerrillos Adventure

AM: 62 mins. (8+ miles)
PM: 3 miles

Always nice to wake up to a snowstorm.

When we woke up to discover that six inches of snow had fallen overnight, we knew that running on the rail trail was not an option. Simmons' idea was basically to start driving in the direction of ABQ until there was no snow on the ground, pull over on a dirt road and have at it. So that's what we did. About 30 minutes after leaving the hotel we stumbled on the ghost town of Cerrillos, New Mexico, which looked as though it could double as a set for a horror movie (probably one with zombies). Despite the portent of danger, Simmons had no qualms about dropping us off and tasking us with running out and back along a deserted farm road. Okay so I'm kidding a bit; it wasn't at all dangerous (just slightly creepy), and zombies aside the run ended up being pretty fun.

Jenna, Tanya and me doing work at 5600 feet

It didn't start out that way, however. We embarked directly into a stiff headwind, at least 20mph, that chilled us to the bone. Normally we're a chatty bunch but the gusts literally took our breath away for the first few miles. Absent Simon due to an aching foot, it was up to me, Tanya, Nelson and Jenna to put one foot in front of the other in determined silence. The good news, of course, is that we eventually reached the turnaround point. What a relief. The second half of the run was infinitely more enjoyable than the first, and we were actually able to appreciate the stark beauty of our surroundings. I was also tremendously encouraged by how much more relaxed my breathing felt than on previous days. Today we were down at 5600 feet, as opposed to Santa Fe's 7000, which means (I hope) that I'll feel even more normal when we travel down to ABQ tomorrow.


I bet the zombies are up there in the fog somewhere.

Posing for a quick post-run photo with Coach and Sheepers

After the run we were equal parts tired, cold and in need of refreshment. We opted to drive a few miles to nearby Madrid in search of a place to change clothes and a warm beverage. Only slightly less of a ghost town than Cerrillos, Madrid's main drag consisted of a handful of quaint shops and not much else. Fortunately we lucked out and stumbled across Java Junction, a tiny coffee shop which turned out to be nothing short of awesome. Great drinks--I had a heavenly Mexican chocolate mocha--cool knick-knacks and a laid-back atmosphere completely fitting with its remote surroundings. (I also got a kick out of a variety of magnets for sale with slogans like "Clowns are people too...people who want to hurt you" and "I'm gay but I don't really like rainbows." Funny stuff.) Warm and content, our makeshift family piled back into the Tahoe with another successful run under our belts and, of course, another adventure in the books.

Best (and only) coffee shop in Madrid, NM

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Up In the Air

AM: 15 mins. core
4 miles
PM: 3 mile w/u
Target: 3x800 @2:45, 400 @75; 2x200 @fast; all w/full recovery
Actual: 2:43, 2:44, 2:44, 73, 32-low, 31-high
2 mile c/d
Total: ~7.5 miles

My second full day in Santa Fe proved to be just as much an adventure as my first. We started things off with an easy run designed to shake things out for this afternoon's pre-race workout. Though still laboring from the altitude, I already feel slightly better than yesterday, which is an encouraging sign. After the run, I set out with Tanya and Jenna to achieve our real mission for the morning: breakfast. We spied a promising brunch menu at a restaurant around the corner last night and decided to try it out today. I will let the photo below speak for itself, but suffice it to say that we couldn't move from our booth for several minutes after indulging ourselves in these treats.

All 3 of us joined the clean plate club. Respect it.

Once we were able to function normally again, we decided to grab Simon and Nelson and take a scenic drive up to the top of a nearby mountain in hopes of snapping some sweet photos. Somehow I missed the memo that we were going up into the snowy peaks and opted to wear flip flops on this outing...not too smart. At any rate, the climb up to 10,000 feet was totally worth the effort (even though Simon nearly got carsick from the hairpin turns on the way up), and even I was able to frolic about in the idyllic natural setting for a few minutes before my toes went completely numb.


Snow angels?

Three o'clock rolled around soon enough, and it was time to pile into our rented Tahoe and journey to a nearby high school track. We actually lucked out and scored some decent weather for this outing; sunny and 44 meant it was warm enough to wear shorts, though the blustery winds kept us from standing around too long between intervals. As far as the workout itself, this was really just about getting the legs turning over while dealing with the altitude effects. In fact, the main objective was not to run too fast...wish I heard that more often in a workout! With that in mind, Tanya and I elected to wear trainers for the 800s, then spikes for the remainder. I wish I could say this felt easy and relaxed, but unfortunately I'm still not adjusted to being up in the clouds, which meant I was huffing and puffy pretty much the entire way. I didn't necessarily find this discouraging, just frustrating, especially since Tanya didn't seem to be struggling nearly as much as I was. I know everyone adapts to the altitude in different ways, and I know I'll start to feel better soon, but let's just hope it's before Saturday.

Naturally, a post-workout photo shoot ensued. It's not every day you have a postcard backdrop.

One of Nelson's never before seen talents

Jenna and Simmons, our fearless leaders

Monday, March 8, 2010

Rail Trail Hell

AM: 55 mins. (7 miles)
PM: 32 mins. (4 miles) + strides, strength

Our starting point at the rail trail

Wow. The run this morning was absolutely ridiculous. For my initiation at 7000 feet, we ran at the rail trail, which is what it sounds like: a trail that runs beside train tracks. The group did their long runs out there yesterday morning and found it agreeable, although fairly hilly and somewhat technical the first few miles. What changed between then and now was the amount of rainfall the area experienced yesterday, rendering much of the trail a muddy mess. Naturally, we were already committed to the cause before realizing this, which meant portions of this run were spent slipping and sliding around as though on a muddy ice skating rink. The mud was so thick and gloopy (yes, I said gloopy) in some spots that it adhered to our feet not unlike snowshoes, which provided an overall effect of running with ankle weights. So between the mud, the altitude (palpable within the first few minutes) and the searing wind, I was audibly cursing Santa Fe (nay, the entire state of New Mexico) on the way back. Simply put, this run was awful.

One of the flatter sections of the rail trail. At least the view was nice.

Things didn't improve much for me over the course of the afternoon when it started snowing. In fact, I'm beginning to believe that the snow is following me across the entire country. Don't believe me? Let's consider the past few weeks. Two weekends ago I was in NYC, enveloped by the largest snowstorm to hit the city this winter. Today, it's 50 degrees there. I returned to Charlotte only for it to snow last Tuesday; this afternoon, Jordan ran shirtless. And now we have the snow here in New Mexico. I just can't win.

I'll be more positive tomorrow, promise. After all, it's spring break and I'm on an all-expenses paid runner's vacation. But a girl's gotta vent every once in a while.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Week in Review

68 miles
25 mins. pool
2 hours weights
3 airports
1 snow day

I'm typing this entry while sitting on my bed at the Hotel St. Francis in Santa Fe, surrounded by 10 pillows. Yes, I said 10. This is only one example of how this hotel is very nice yet slightly odd at the same time. It actually looks somewhat medieval (check out the pics on the hotel Web site, as they're very accurate), almost equally likely to be featured in a period romance or a horror film.

But I digress. This post is supposed to be about my week of running, and my week of running was good. I would even say my Wednesday track workout verged on greatness, but I'm far too modest for that. At any rate, I'm feeling healthy and strong leading up to next weekend's big race. I'm hoping I'll be able to adjust to the altitude fairly quickly so that I can put that worry out of my head and just focus on competing.

Six days.

Westward Bound

AM: 74 mins. (10.5 miles)
PM: Travel

Welcome to the longest day of my life.

Not really, but it certainly felt that way. Fortunately things started off on the right foot with a solid long-ish run with Jordan at McAlpine. I was happy to see him crest the hour mark, a milestone in light of the past few weeks, and to see that he felt no pain on our two trips up the hill. It was even sunny and relatively warm outside and, dare I say it, felt just a little bit like spring. I'll take it.

The rest of the morning and early afternoon passed in a flurry of laundry, packing and otherwise preparing for the trip out West. Jenna and I left around 4pm for New Mexico--for various reasons, the rest of the team left last night--stopping for an hour layover in Phoenix. Once we arrived in Albuquerque around 11pm desert time--1pm to my tired, bedraggled body--we still had to shuttle over to the rental car center to pick up a sweet ride for our hourlong drive to the Hotel St. Francis in Santa Fe. That's right, we're spending the first half of our trip in Santa Fe. Simmons decided this would help us get acclimated to the altitude, seeing as Santa Fe sits at 7000 feet (ABQ is "only" 5000). All of this meant that Jenna and I didn't arrive at our hotel until past 1, exhausted and desperate for a good night's sleep. I hope our trip includes lots of rest, because I'm going to need it after this busy weekend.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Two Men and a Little Lady

AM: 51 mins. (7 miles)

This morning I had the pleasure of running with Ben Hernandez, a friend of mine from work, and Jordan, who has finally (almost) put his achilles injury to rest. Ben met at our place at the early (for a Saturday) hour of 7:30 for a few miles of easy running, interspersed with a two-mile uptempo section in the middle. Normally I would have a race or predator run at this point in the week, but since Nationals is next weekend I'm preserving the legs and just doing a few quicker miles instead.

The air was cold at the early hour but the sun was shining brightly, making it a beautiful morning to be outside. Our route was familiar, if unoriginal: a jog down the greenway followed by two big loops around Freedom Park, then a return trip on the greenway. We essentially took the first loop easy and picked it up for the second loop, then cooled down on the jog home. I was happy to see Jordan running pain-free and hope that this trend continues in the next few days. As for me, nothing but easy miles between now and next weekend.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Easy Friday

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

Nice and easy.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Doubling Up

AM: 56 mins. (7.5 miles)
PM: 3 miles
60 mins. weights + core

For the first time in as long as I can remember, I was actually able to join the team for two practices in one day (normally I can't even make one). Thus, my morning run and weight-lifting session were both done with company instead of solo, which always makes things more enjoyable. Things that were not enjoyable include my calves (rocked from the spikes yesterday), the rest of my legs (hurting from the workout) and my stomach (didn't eat a big enough lunch today and suffered a serious sugar low as a result; had to steal saltines from Jenna's bag during weights to avoid total body shutdown).

More importantly, the entry lists for Nationals were solidified yesterday. Everything looks as expected on the women's side, although I was slightly surprised to see that they took 15 girls in the 5k. They only took 12 in the men's 5k, which unfortunately means that Futsum was the first guy out. Terrible position to be in. This was a result of Adams State qualifying--and declaring--6 guys in the 5k and 6 guys in the mile. No, that was not a typo. Yes, I said 6. The depth and talent of their team is absolutely staggering. At any rate, I'm disappointed that Futs is out but excited to travel to ABQ with Tanya, Simon and Nelson this weekend!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Little Help From My Friends

AM: 3 miles
PM: 3 mile w/u + strides
Target: 16x400 w/90 sec. rest @5k pace (80) or faster; hammer #11 and #15
Actual: 76, 80, 80, 79, 77, 76, 75, 75, 74, 74, 71, 75, 74, 74, 70, 75
2 mile c/d
Total: 9 miles

After running almost all of my recent track workouts solo, I'd all but forgotten what a difference it makes to have a solid group on the track together. Somehow the stars aligned and we were able to assemble an all-star cast for today's shape cutting: Tanya, Pezz, Maraya, Holly, Jess and myself. Maraya and Holly would only be running 8-12 intervals but the rest of us were stepping up to 16. Having not run this many 400s in quite a while, I was both apprehensive and excited to see what I could do. Judging from the warmup, I didn't think anything special was in store. My legs felt decent, but it was quite cold and very windy outside, making it almost impossible to get the blood flowing. I did my best to push that out of my mind and just focus on the workout.

With that in mind, you can understand why I panicked a bit when I saw the split for my first interval. The times for #2-5 reflect me fighting to keep the pace from getting out of control; the rest of the workout reflects me throwing my reservations out the window and just going for it. I cannot stress how much it helped to have the other girls out there at the same time. There was always someone in front of me who I could chase, and always someone behind me who I was trying to fend off. In between intervals we encouraged each other and rallied for the next go. When all was said and done, each of us agreed we had a much better workout together than we would have on our own. Even the wind seemed less bothersome than usual. Every way you look at it, this workout brought out the best in us.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that I threw on my spikes for the last four intervals. Believe it or not, I haven't worn spikes in almost a year--I even wore flats in my recent 5k and 3k at the Armory--but I'm planning to bust them out at Nationals. With only 10 days until the race, it's probably time for me to start adjusting to them. I'm pretty sure my calves will be less than thrilled with me tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

You Must Be Kidding

AM: 7 miles
PM: 60 mins. weights + core

The title is in reference to the fact that it snowed today. In Charlotte. From 10am to 10pm. Give me a freaking break. I was prescient enough to foresee this development and get in an adequate run in the morning. (It also didn't hurt that our standard Tuesday track workout was rescheduled for tomorrow, partly because of the weather forecast and partly because it's our last hard effort before Nationals next weekend.) Fortunately the ground temperature never dipped below freezing, which means that none of the white stuff stuck despite its best efforts.

In the afternoon I met Tanya at the fitness center for weights. It was good times and I will undoubtedly be sore tomorrow.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Early Morning Pool

AM: 7 miles
25 mins. pool
PM: 4 miles + strength

As much as I loathe Monday morning pool practice, at least it gets me up and out the door at a respectable hour. Today I opted to run to pool and back, adding an extra loop around Freedom Park for good measure on the return trip. Not much to report; all is well.

I went the extra mile this afternoon (literally) after it was brought to my attention that it might snow in Charlotte tomorrow. Again? Seriously?!? Correct me if I'm wrong, but it's March. Sigh. At any rate, due to the weather forecast and the amount of time between now and Nationals, Simmons preemptively moved our Tuesday track workout to Wednesday. The weather might dictate my runs tomorrow, but hopefully I can still get in some decent mileage.