Wednesday, June 30, 2010


AM: 5.5 miles

My legs were tired and my ego was bruised, so all I could muster this morning was a short Freedom Park loop with Jordan. Besides, I'm pulling a rare open-to-close shift at work (and down at Piper Glen no less), so running in the evening isn't much of an option. Caitlin has some crazy idea that I'm going to meet her at McAlpine at 5:45 tomorrow morning for a workout...we'll both believe it when we see it.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Myers Park All-Comers 5k

1.5 mile w/u + strides
Target: 5k @2 minutes faster than Tim Rhodes
Actual: MRN 16:59.5; TR 18:59.3
1.5 mile c/d
Total: 6 miles

Yes, you read that correctly. My objective was to beat Tim by two minutes. I beat him by one minute, fifty-nine seconds and eight tenths of a second
. I couldn't have scripted a more nail-biting conclusion if I'd tried--except that if I did, obviously I would've amended the ending so that I kicked the last lap about three-tenths faster.

The race began at the conclusion of an already hectic day. I'd worked at RFYL for the morning and most of the afternoon, then headed to school to write my midterm exam. My professor was awesome and agreed to meet me 30 minutes early so that I'd have plenty of time to finish before the race began, but I still couldn't shake the vague nervous feeling that I was running behind schedule. As it turned out, I finished and made it over to MPHS with plenty of time to spare. I warmed up a bit with Paul and Billy--not too much, as there's really no need to do more than a few minutes when it's this warm and humid outside--and we all strategized our respective game plans. Paul hoped to go sub-16, while Billy wanted to break 17 minutes for the first time. I, of course, wanted to beat Tim by two or more minutes, and none of the three of us wanted to be lapped more than once by Jordan. It's good to have goals.

We were told upon our return that the 5k would go off around 7:45, which gave us plenty of time to make some final preparations. Caitlin, Jay and Aaron had showed up to watch, as had a few of my coworkers from RFYL and Tim's oldest son Grant. There may have been 20 other people on the track, but our showdown was the focal point of the evening (at least in my mind). We lined up against the setting sun on the far side of the track, listened to some final instructions, and were off.

First lap, tucked in comfortably behind Paul. Clearly this was the
high point of the race for me.

From the first few strides, I could tell I felt good. Jordan had immediately shot out to the front, but I came through the first lap tucked comfortably behind Paul in 77-point. At that moment I thought to myself that the race might not be too bad, that the heat and humidity wouldn't play as much of a factor as I'd initially feared. I was wrong. I came through the mile in 5:21 feeling decent but not great, but two laps later I would suffer the beginning stages of my implosion as the heat began to take its toll. The wheels were dangerously near coming off, and I felt the lack of workouts and hard running since Nationals catching up with me. Two miles came and went in 10:50, and I was in the hurt tank. I kept reminding myself that my time didn't matter; all that counted was the distance between myself and Tim.

Billy on my heels about halfway through the race.

Speaking of Tim, I caught up to him just a few minutes later and swung around him on the top of the turn. I estimated that lapping him meant I'd put about 90 seconds between us, and now the question was whether I could increase that increment by 30 more seconds in the final three and a half laps. I knew it would have to come from him slowing down, because there simply wasn't anything left in the tank to facilitate me speeding up. I was feeling worse than I had in any 5k in recent memory, and I wasn't even guaranteed to break 17 minutes. Brutal. With one lap to go I tried to feed off the encouragement of Caitlin and Jordan--he, of course, had already finished some time earlier--and kick it in. I saw the clock ticking upward as I ran down the final straightaway and managed to cross just under the 17-minute mark, exhausted and incredibly thirsty. Now there was nothing to do but wait and see what Tim could muster in the final few minutes. As he rounded the final turn, all who were watching knew it was going to be close. He was clearly giving it everything he had and going to the well, determination showing on his face. Still, I couldn't believe it when he crossed the finish line in 18:59, exactly two minutes after me. Only a comparison of the official post-decimal place times afterward confirmed that he had edged me out by a minuscule two-tenths. Unbelievable. Afterwards we shook hands and ran a few cooldown laps together; one of us victorious, one defeated, both relieved to have the battle behind us.

Finishing. Hurt tank.

In hindsight, and not to sound like a sore loser (too much), I believe a few amendments should have been made to the nature of our agreement in order to truly level the playing field. First is the matter of lapped runners. I would say that of the 20 people in the field, I lapped 12. Of the 12, I double lapped 6. Of the 18 lapping incidents, only one person moved out of the way. (Not that I expect them to at this type of meet; I'm just stating the facts.) So, in other words, there were 17 times when I had to step outside my line of motion and add on a small fraction of distance in order to go around someone else. You may say that's just the nature of racing, and I agree with that. But in a scenario when you're racing someone else against a very specific time on the clock, those increments add up. Secondly, I wish there could've been a way for me to start behind Tim and then spend the entire race attempting to reel him in. And by that, I mean a way other than me standing at the starting line looking like a doofus for two minutes after everyone else had taken off. Because, as my heartbreaking final lap in the 10k at Nationals so aptly illustrated, it's much easier to catch someone in the final few meters when they are a visible target in front of you. I didn't have that opportunity tonight.

Overall, objections notwithstanding, this was an absolute blast. I don't necessarily mean the 17 minutes that I was actually racing, because those were brutal, but rather the nature of the friendly wager between myself and Tim. It's great to work for someone who not only shares my appreciation for the sport but is also not afraid to challenge himself and push both of us to be better runners. Plus, it's not exactly like I lose anything by having to take his job for a day. That just means I get to come in late, avoid phone calls from customers, take several two-hour lunches and then sneak out the back when I'm ready to go home. If that's all it takes to keep RFYL running smoothly, then I think I've got it covered.

Monday, June 28, 2010

First Double in a While

AM: 5-5.5 miles
15 mins. core
PM: 6.5 miles

For the first time in several weeks, I manned (womaned) up an notched a solid double. The morning run was short and slow and humid and not too much fun. The evening run was slightly longer and slightly less slow and slightly less humid and a lot more fun, thanks to the fact that we met up with Caitlin and Jay and ran a new (for me) route through Elizabeth. By the end of the second run my legs were feeling fresh and loose, perfect preconditions for tomorrow night's throwdown at Myers Park.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Week in Review

51.5 miles
1 day off
1 afternoon at the pool
3? AFD's (oops)

I'm finishing up my second "down" week feeling rested and refreshed and ready to get back to some serious training. That was the sole purpose of my time off, and I feel like I've accomplished the goal. After this 5k debacle with Tim next Tuesday, I plan to sit down with Coach Simmons and really talk through the next month or so of training. I'm excited to build on my current fitness and hopefully position myself for some new road PR's in the fall.

Also, I need to get my diet back on track. Most people tend to slim down during bathing suit season, but apparently I'm determined to do the opposite. This week was filled with too much wine, too many fried pickles and dare I say too many chocolate covered peanut butter pretzel sandwiches. (If you haven't tried them, don't. You'll never be able to reclaim your life again.) So yeah, next week I'm back on the wagon.

Perfect Sunday

AM: 73 mins. (10 miles)

Some people might contend that Saturday is the best day of the week. As for me, I'd pick Sunday in a heartbeat. There's nothing better than waking up early for a long run, gorging on a post-run breakfast, then spending the rest of the day relaxing with friends or perhaps lounging at the pool. This Sunday, which was no exception, began with Jordan and I meeting Paul and Billy Shue at McAlpine for a run. Admittedly my "long" run these days isn't anything exceptional, but my legs felt surprisingly springy from the outset and I have no doubt I could've gone another few miles if need be.

We finished up the run at Paul's house, which is conveniently located a half mile from Old Bell, where his wife was hard at work cooking up a traditional English breakfast in preparation for the England v. Germany game. Most of us enjoyed the next few hours with friends (Paul, on the other hand, spent the majority of the time rocking back and forth with his head in his hands) before heading our separate ways. Jordan and I spent the rest of the afternoon watching track and soccer (and I may have snuck in a quick catnap), then later in the afternoon headed over to my co-worker and friend Ben's house for a cookout and slip 'n slide party. (No, I didn't partake in the latter, but maybe next time I'll bring my suit.) All in all this was an awesome Sunday and a great way to cap off the weekend.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Another Day Off

This was a planned day off--yup, the second such day since January 8th--and it turned out to be a good choice. I was up early to spend a nine-hour shift on my feet at RFYL, and it just didn't make sense to try to squeeze in a hurried loop before or trudge through a weary slog after. Instead, I slept until 8, worked all day, then met Jordan at Denise and Tyler's place for a fun family night at the casa. I was almost busy enough to forget that I hadn't run all day...almost.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Myers Park All-Comers Pre-Race? Sure, Why Not.

PM: 3 mile w/u + strides
Target: 2x1k @3:25, 2x600 @2:00, 4x300 @fast
Actual: 3:25, 3:22, 1:59, 2:00, 48, 49, 50, 49
1 mile c/d
Total: 7 miles

You may be asking yourself: "Why is she doing a workout? I thought she had sworn off intense training for the rest of June." Well, for the most part, that still holds true. However, I had to modify things a bit when my boss, RFYL owner Tim Rhodes, challenged me to a race; to be specific, he challenged me to beat him by a minimum of two minutes at the Myers Park HS All-Comers 5k next Tuesday. At stake? Loser does the winner's job (and earns the winner's salary) for a day. Simply put, it was an offer I couldn't refuse.

That's not to say that it will be a cakewalk. Sure, Tim is just a few ticks shy of 50, but this spring he ran 38:30 for 10k and 3:05 on an "off" day in the marathon. I would estimate that his potential 5k time next week could range anywhere from 18:40 to 19:15, which means I'm going to have to hustle to beat the two-minute mark. Also throwing a wrench into the plans is the midterm I have for my summer class that same evening. The all-essay exam is scheduled to begin at 6:00, while the 5k is tentatively set for 8:00, which means I'll be lucky if I can squeeze in a few laps and a stride or two for my warmup. Needless to say, the confluence of these factors is why I decided I should probably cobble together some semblance of a workout tonight. You know, seeing as I haven't done so much as a stride since the Boston 5k two weeks ago.

The plan was for Jordan and I to drive out to Providence Day just past 6pm today. He had 5xmile on tap, and I would have him there to encourage me in case I completely imploded. My prescribed workout was neither fast nor long, but I'll admit I was a bit nervous since I've been slacking off so much the past few weeks. It didn't help that I'd developed a pounding headache and sore throat--the beginnings of a cold?--a few hours earlier, or that I was still rather full from a late lunch. As we finished the warmup, I was just hoping to get through the intervals in one piece.

Surprisingly, and 90+ degree temperatures notwithstanding, I felt great on the k's and 600s. I'm sure it helped that Jordan abandoned his own workout attempt after a few laps and offered to pace me instead. The pace and effort felt very smooth and controlled, which I wasn't expecting after several weeks out of the saddle. The 300's were a different story. I'm really slow, and getting below 50 is an epic struggle for me. After three I told Jordan I couldn't possibly do another one, but he wiped my arms and shoulders down with a cold washcloth and nicely (but firmly) told me I needed to finish. Somehow I managed, but I'm thankful no one but him was there to witness me flailing about on the final 100 meters.

Afterward, my stomach was wrecked. Blame it on the heat, or the shock to my system, or the aforementioned large lunch; whatever it was, I felt nauseous throughout the cooldown and insisted we cut it a few minutes short. I couldn't even muster up the desire to eat dinner later that night--which, if you know me, is about as dire as it gets. Despite my body being in shambles post-run, I'm pretty pleased with how this baby workout went. More importantly, I'm fired up to throw down with Tim on Tuesday night.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Down Week #2

Thursday, 6/24
AM: 1 hour 15 mins. (10.5 miles)

Wednesday, 6/23
AM: 9 miles

Tuesday, 6/22
AM: 7 miles

Monday, 6/21
AM: 8 miles

So far this week has been quite enjoyable. I've been running some decent distances only because of Jordan; Monday and Wednesday I accompanied him to McAlpine for his workouts, then Thursday I joined him for a LFPL (Long Freedom Park Loop) during which he used me to make sure he ran "slow" instead of his usual easy pace. I don't know whether to feel privileged or insulted, although something tells me there's a fine line between the two.

The most important thing through all of this is that I'm having a good time out there and handling the heat well. It's been a bit brutal weather-wise around here, but honestly I've managed to push it out of my mind and just accept the fact that I'll be dripping with sweat within the first few minutes. As long as I seek out shade and stay hydrated it's not a big deal. (Of course I'm sure I'll change my tune once I start doing workouts.)

Finally, amid all the Wimbledon and World Cup drama, I have to give a shout-out to my TCU Horned Frogs for pulling off a huge win in the second round of the College World Series. It's their first appearance in the tourney, and tomorrow afternoon they'll be playing for a shot in the big game. Go Frogs!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Week in Review

42 miles
1 day off
4 airports
6 AFDs

At long last, I've finally been able to kick back and truly enjoy a down week. After adding up the miles, I'm surprised the numbers came out as high as they did. I wasn't expecting to break out of the 30s. Regardless, all that matters is that I'm taking things super easy and only getting out the door when I truly want to. That, in a nutshell, is the plan for the rest of June.

Frisco Greenway Run

AM: 9 miles
10 mins. core
PM: Travel

A few days before heading to Joplin, I sent a message out to Kimi Shank, a Missouri Southern runner (technically a former runner, since she just graduated). I know Kimi peripherally after having competed against her this year both indoors and outdoors, and at Nationals I'd mentioned that I might be in touch with her about meeting up to run when I was in town. As it turns out, she has since moved to Kansas City, but she hooked me up with the contact info of her former coach. And that's how Jordan and I ended up parking at the Joplin fire station at 6:30am on Sunday morning, slightly groggy but nonetheless excited to run with a few new peeps. The reason for parking at the fire station was that it's adjacent to a gravel, shaded, mostly flat trail called the Frisco Greenway. It runs almost four miles in one direction, and for the life of me I can't understand why I've never known this was here before. Countless miles of running along main thoroughfares and down hilly back roads could've been avoided over the years I've spent visiting family here had I known about the trail. Oh well, at least I know now.

As for the run, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It's always nice to run with new people in new areas, as the combination of the two somehow makes the miles pass twice as quickly. Jordan and I spent most of the run with Jamie, the coach, and Ashley, a distance runner who just missed out on making All-American in the steeple at Nationals. Both of them were super nice and amenable to geeking out with running talk. Though I'm not sure when I'll be back in Joplin, I definitely plan on hooking up with these two again. Good times were had by all.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Joplin Jaunt

AM: 6 miles
15 mins. core

After a busy day of travel and an evening of math games with my cousin Preston--smartest 8-year-old you'll ever meet--Jordan and I were understandably exhausted last night. Does that justify being asleep--not just in bed, but asleep--before 9pm? Perhaps not, but the 10 hours of uninterrupted slumber was absolutely blissful. This morning we took our time getting moving and enjoyed a few cups of coffee courtesy of my aunt Kelly before heading out the door for our run destination: the Missouri Southern State University track. Jordan's schedule called for an 800m workout, and as per usual I would just be tagging along. We figured that a university track would be practically deserted at 9am on a hot and sticky Saturday morning--imagine our surprise, then, to discover that we couldn't be farther from the truth. Since the old timers were on the track, that meant we were relegated to the surrounding areas. We used this opportunity to scout out the MSSU cross country course (future site of the 2011 Division II National XC meet) and the roads surrounding the campus. Certainly not ideal, but we had no other choice given the unforseen circumstances.

I should also mention that I'm halfway disappointed and halfway relieved that we missed out on this year's Boomtown Days Half Marathon by a mere week. Jordan and I both had horrendous races there last year, but judging by this year's results at least one of us could've won some coin. Oh well, maybe next time.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Easy Does It

Friday, June 18
AM: 46 mins. (6 miles)

Thursday, June 17
PM: 6-6.5 miles

The "down" week continues with more of the same. Part of me absolutely loves it, while a louder, more insistent part feels unnecessarily guilty for not doing more. I guess that's what an abrupt break after months of hard training will do to the psyche. Hopefully this weekend's diversion--a Father's Day surprise for my grandpa in Joplin, Missouri--will allow me to fully immerse myself in this break from training.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Back on the Wagon

AM: 53 mins.
7.5 miles

After one day off I was pretty antsy, so Jordan and I woke up early to meet Caitlin et al at the Dowd for a jaunt through Dilworth. Nothing remarkable to note, just easy time on the feet with friends.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

First Day Off Since January 8th

Well, I think the title pretty much sums it up. Today was the first day I haven't run in almost six months. And, quite frankly, I didn't know what to do with myself. When I woke up in the morning, the first question that came to mind was whether or not I should shower. I had a vague idea that most people do indeed shower before heading off to work in the morning, but in the absence of a morning run I questioned whether it was really necessary. Similarly, my instincts were telling me to eat breakfast, but logical reasoning said I hadn't burned nearly enough calories in the hour that I was awake to necessitate a meal. (For the record, I did end up both eating and showering, but I'm still not entirely sure that either was the right call.)

In the evening, I took a hall pass from my summer class (shhhhhh, don't tell) and joined Jordan out at the all-comers meet at Myers Park High School. Jordan wasn't planning to race, but I knew a few of our CRC friends would be toeing the line. For the dozenth (if that's a word) time today, I felt very out of sorts. It's strange t
o be out at a track meet--albeit the most laid back, low-key meet in the entire world--wearing street clothes, watching all your friends warming up and throwing on the spikes and preparing to race. A few weeks ago I would've killed for a day off, but tonight I wanted nothing more than to be sweating it up out there with Jordan and my friends. Instead, I chatted with Tim and Dr. Greenapple and acted as race photographer while Jordan paced Paul to a blazing sub-4:40 mile. It was still fun, but a vaguely unsettled sort of fun.

Start line of the star-studded MPHS All-Comers mile race

Jordan taking Paul through halfway right on time

Paul bringing home the sweet sweet victory

On that note, I think one day off is about as much as I can handle right now. I'll probably run tomorrow. Lame attempt at a break, I know, but I promise I won't get back to anything crazy until July.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Farewell Run With Jenna

AM: 55 mins. (7-7.5 miles)
PM: 15 mins. core

Okay, so I know what you're thinking: today was supposed to be my first day off. Well, technically yesterday was supposed to be my first day off, but whatever. I really did plan on making it official today...until I realized it was Jenna's last day (and thus last run) in Charlotte before jetting off to various destinations and leaving me behind for the rest of the summer. And what kind of friend would I be if I missed her last run? So, in the spirit of solidarity, she and I met Caitlin at the Dowd at 6:30am for a farewell jaunt through Dilworth and Freedom Park.

But seriously, tomorrow is the day.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Week in Review

64 miles
9 laps at the Boston Twilight 5k
2 days in Boston
5 AFDs

This week was pretty lackluster for obvious reasons, not the least of which including my loss of dignity to Mike DeCoste. If nothing else I am finally able to pronounce closure on this roller coaster year of running. I've had some crazy highs and devastating lows, but overall my final two semesters at Queens have exceeded my greatest expectations. Looking back at where I was before the beginning of the indoor season, barely healed from an autumn of unrealized goals, I never expected to come so far in such a relatively short period of time. After placing fifth at Indoor Nationals and earning my first All-American title, I said in this blog that I would be a different runner going forward. A runner with bigger dreams, with higher expectations, with loftier goals. Now, several months and several more All-American honors later, I want to reaffirm that statement. The person I was two years ago, or even a year ago, was perfectly content to be a mediocre local runner and not confident enough to believe she could dare to hope for anything better. Today, I can both celebrate how far I've come and acknowledge how much farther I have to go in order to truly take things to the next level. I have no idea if that will ever happen--for all I know, my fastest times are now behind me, just a few fleeting moments in an expanse of otherwise unremarkable performances--but at least now I can honestly say I believe in myself and I'm committed to working as hard as I can to make those dreams reality.

But first, I'm taking a few days off. And eating some ice cream. Peace.

Early Flight, Late Run

AM: 60 mins.
8 miles

Jenna, Pezz, Maraya and I left the hotel at 4:30--4:30!!!--this morning to catch our 6:30 flight out of Boston. This meant we arrived back in Charlotte around the time that most people were waking up or reading the newspaper or perhaps enjoying a long run. Lucky for me, Jordan picked me up at the airport instead of doing any of the above activities, which meant he would still need to run later in the morning. Apparently he and Tyler had planned this in advance (possibly before or after Jordan was sleeping off his World Cup fueled alcohol binge on Tyler's couch), because no more than 30 minutes after arriving home Tyler was knocking on our door. Today was supposed to be the start of my "break" from running, but since the two of them were taking a trip to McAlpine I asked to tag along. They reluctantly allowed me to break up their boys' day out, and off we went.

From the first few steps, it was readily apparent that we weren't in Boston anymore. The cool, drizzly weather had been replaced by hot, humid, muggy conditions. Maybe it's because of the stark contrast from yesterday, but I swear this was the most miserable day of the "spring" so far. The back wooded sections from Boyce and on the second half of the Footlocker course were tolerable, but the in-between miles in the sun were absolutely brutal. Luckily I'd only intended on going an hour anyway, because I doubt I could've made it farther if I'd tried. Jordan and Tyler had planned to go 14, but that was quickly thrown out the window when Tyler developed a sudden pain in his foot. Maybe it was the hangover talking, but Jordan even agreed to cut his run short so we could all beat the heat sooner. We headed home for a fun afternoon of pancakes, mimosas and pool time with friends, and all our troubles were quickly forgotten.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

New Balance Boston Twilight 5k...Sort Of

AM: 3 miles
PM: 2.5 mile w/u + strides
Target: 5k @16:25 (5:15/mile)
Actual: DNF (5:17, 10:40)
2 mile c/d
Total: 6.5-7 miles

Yeah, I dropped out.

It started raining in Waltham around late morning and never let up. Fortunately we had plenty to occupy ourselves with until the meet, as we spent the afternoon switching our television back and forth from the NCAA track meet to the World Cup to the Diamond League meet in New York. I couldn't care less about the soccer, but two track meets on TV in the same day?? It was almost like Christmas.

Around 5pm we left for the track, slightly discouraged by the weather and uncertain of the meet status. We thought it might be delayed or even canceled if the predicted thunder and lightning materialized, but upon arrival we were told that everything was proceeding on schedule. Just after 6 I began my waterlogged warmup with Jenna and her friend Jenn, a former App State runner who now competes for NB Boston. (Randomly, I had met her over a year ago when my friend Ozzie was driving through Charlotte. Ozzie and Jenn's then fiance Brian Deal were driving the Nike truck and they all met up with Jeff and me for dinner.) We got back just in time to watch the women's 1500--Pezz placed second in 4:25, while Maraya DNF'ed due to a rare bout of stomach problems--and put on our spikes before go time. Though I wasn't feeling too confident about the race, I tried to put my game face on as I approached the line.

From the gun, a girl I'd never heard of from Saucony shot to the front. Having researched the field before the race I knew she'd previously run sub-16:05, but I had no idea what her goal was for the night. She came through the first lap in 74 with me trailing in 77 and the rest of the field in pursuit. That lap felt surprisingly easy, for the first time I thought the race might go better than expected. That lasted until I came through the mile in 5:17 while simultaneously feeling a slight twinge in my foot. You know how sometimes you feel good and think you're running really fast, only to finish an interval or hear a split and realize you're not clipping along nearly as quickly as you'd thought? Yeah, that. After my first lap I half expected to breeze through in 5:10, so it was a bit disheartening to hear that I was already a few seconds off pace.

By this time a handful of girls had decided to go around me. I was perfectly fine with this, as I'd grown annoyed by having to do all the work until this point. What I wasn't fine with was the fact that once they went around the pace began to drag. If you're going to pass, then you should keep the momentum going. That didn't happen, so I found myself stuck squarely in the middle of this group without making up any of the time I'd already lost. Plus, my foot was still hurting. It wasn't really getting worse, but it definitely didn't feel right. In the matter of a few laps, I found my mindset declining from positive and hopeful to discouraged and resigned. This is not where you want to be in the middle of a race, and I knew it. We came through the two mile in 10:40--at least 10 seconds slower than where I needed to be at this point--and that's when I realized I was over it. I knew I could continue to the finish and run 16:40, but what's the point in that? 16:40 plus a dollar would buy me a Coke but not much else. Besides, it wasn't worth risking a foot injury in this futile pursuit. One lap later, I made the decision to step off the track. For a split second I felt regret, but that feeling was immediately overpowered by a sense of relief. The race, the season, the training--it was all over. I could now take a much needed and long-awaited break, a break I now know I should've taken immediately after Nationals. That championship weekend had depleted my body far more than I'd (perhaps naively) expected at the time; now it was time to finally listen to my body and call it a day.

In the end, the "unknown" Saucony girl won the race in an impressive 15:50, well within the USATF Nationals qualifying mark. She did it virtually solo and looked strong the entire time. Jenn Deal finished in a PR of 16:50, while Jenna ran strong to come through in 17:31. For a small meet in the middle of unquestionably crappy weather, the athletes were able to produce some pretty impressive results. I'm disappointed that I wasn't among those athletes but glad to be here nonetheless.

Friday, June 11, 2010

I Think I'll Go To Boston

AM: 5+ miles
15 mins. core
PM: 4 miles + 4x100m strides

This morning I departed with Jenna, Pezz and Maraya for a girls' weekend in the greater Boston area. We're all slated to compete in tomorrow night's New Balance Boston Twilight meet--Jenna and I in the 5k, Maraya and Pezz in the 1500. Maraya and Pezz both qualified for US Nationals (Pezz in the steeple and Maraya in the Junior 800) and are looking to get in a fast tune-up race. I initially planned on using this race to set a new 5k PR, but that was before I realized how completely and utterly depleted I would feel after Nationals. Plus, my left foot has still been nagging. I'm thinking it's tendonitis, and icing seems to help, but I don't expect that wearing spikes tomorrow night will do it any favors. At any rate, we set o
ff on Friday eager to spend the weekend in the city.

Upon arriving after a pleasantly brief flight, we snagged our rental car and hit up the city for the remainder of the afternoon. Pezz grew up in nearby Narragansett but neither Maraya nor Jenna had ever been to Boston, so we spent some time downtown checking out Quincy Market and all that good stuff. Also, random side note: So we were downtown at Whole Foods grabbing some snacks for the trip. I was meandering around the bakery (naturally) when I heard a male voice calling my name. I assumed he was speaking to someone else, since I was absolutely certain no one in the city knew me, but when I looked up I was surprised to see a familiar face. Turns out a kid I lived down the hall from in the dorms my freshman year at TCU now lives in Boston and works part-time at Whole Foods. So random. I'd been in the city for all of an hour and had already been spotted by someone I hadn't seen in years.

View of the iconic Citgo sign and the Charles River in Boston

The rest of the evening was fairly tame. We headed out to the 'burbs of Waltham, where our race would be held, then changed clothes at our hotel and headed over to the track. Despite a day of travel my legs felt fairly good, no doubt due to the manageable humidity and markedly lower temperatures. I think the high today was 70 and it's expected to be 65 tomorrow. Considering the daily lows in Charlotte have been warmer than this, I'll take the New England weather any day. Hopefully this will be conducive to fast running tomorrow night.

The picture below is of Jenna icing her Achilles in the bathroom at the hotel while I took an ice bath in the tub. It makes me smile.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Incident

Thursday, 6/10
AM: 8.5 miles

Wednesday, 6/9
AM: 5.5 miles
PM: 5.5 miles

The middle part of the week was devoted solely to recovery miles, with mixed results. I thoroughly enjoyed Wednesday's easy PM jaunt with Jordan, Jenna and Caitlin through Freedom Park. Despite--you guessed it--my legs feeling like crap, the company was good and the conversation flowed well enough to easily pass the time.

In contrast, my Thursday run was very nearly ruined by an unfortunate Incident with a neighborhood hobby jogger. Now I know that many of my male running friends also have to deal with the situation I'm about to describe, but I assure you that it's much, much worse for girls. I was just stepping onto the bike path near Hillside when the Incident began. This jogger--male, probably mid- to late-20s, average weight and height--was also approaching the bike path from a neighborhood street, and happened to step on about five meters in front of me. From that point on, we were racing--at least, according to him. I was just minding my own business, trying to take care of my Medium Loop and get home in time for work, not in the least concerned with seeing who could dip below the elusive 7-minute barrier first. For this dude, however, the next 30 minutes would be a battle of wills, and it was clear that he did not like the idea of a girl threatening his manly training pace. Every few minutes he would cast a furtive look behind him to determine if I was still there--which I was, of course, trying all the while to block him out and enjoy my easy run. Once he ascertained my presence he would proceed to sprint ahead for the next few steps in an attempt to shake me. Instead of responding, I would continue at my same clip, then watch as he grew tired and slowed down within the next few minutes. This sequence repeated several times throughout Freedom Park, to my increasing annoyance. When we reached the tennis courts near the top end of the park, I was absolutely certain we would go our separate ways. The Medium Loop calls for a right on East and a right on Queens, and I expected him to just turn left at the tennis courts and loop back the way he came. Unfortunately, this would not be the case. Still trailing him by five meters, I watched in dismay as he turned right on East and then right to head up the hill on Queens. The Incident was clearly not finished.

As we proceeded up Queens, it became increasingly apparent that he was running out of steam. Without trying, I was gaining on him with every step. About a half mile up the road I passed him for the first time during our unspoken duel, confident that the issue was settled. Imagine my disbelief thirty seconds later to hear his lumbering footfalls and ragged breathing as he careened his way past me on the narrow sidewalk. I could not believe that he was so determined to be in front of me that he was willing to risk cardiac arrest in order to pass. Unreal. Fortunately we were approaching Selwyn and he didn't turn left, which meant that the Incident was finally over. I guarantee he spent the rest of his wog home patting himself on the back for winning our imaginary race; meanwhile, I was just relieved to not have to share the second half of my run with that toolbag.

So gentlemen, in conclusion, allow me to use this platform to present you with an earnest entreaty: Stop. Bothering. Us. We girls are not remotely interested in watching your labored perambulations on our easy runs, nor do we find it remotely impressive that you can stay within five meters of us at all times. On the contrary, we very much value our personal space and have training goals much more important than toying with you for an hour. Let's just all mind our own business and I promise the world will be a happier place.

Edit: Upon re-reading this post, I realize I should clarify that the preceding paragraph is in no way directed toward the fairer sex's male friends and training partners. We love running with you and having you push us in workouts. We are not at all opposed to the idea of running with dudes. But here's the thing: the dudes who run with us and push us in workouts are much, much faster than we are--but they don't feel the need to assert that every single time we run together. And that is why they rock and dudes like the one from The Incident suck. That is all.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

NB Boston Twilight 5k Pre-Race Workout

AM: 3 mile w/u + strides
Target: mile @5k pace, 2x400 @75, 4x200; all w/full rest
Actual: 5:15, 74, 73, 34, 33, 33, 33
1.5 mile c/d
Total: 7 miles
PM: 3 miles

I was out the door at 7am to get this one out of the way before a 9am marketing meeting at work. The AG track was my destination and running comfortably fast was my goal. That's not always the easiest thing to accomplish while running solo first thing in the morning, but I was willing to give it a shot.

I started out aggressively on the mile--a bit too aggressively, as evidenced by my 75-second first split--and tried to concentrate on keeping my breathing relaxed. This would prove difficult as I passed through 800 at 2:35, but I managed to hold it together and still finish in 5:15. Nothing spectacular, but nonetheless this was the fastest mile I've run on the track all year (other than the opening mile in the championship 5k a few weeks ago). Nice to know I can do it solo.

The trade-off? Feeling like crap on the rest of the workout. I huffed and puffed my way through the 400s, then struggled to dip below 34 on the 200s. (Remember, I blazed a 30-point last week.) It's a bit embarrassing to see how much 5:15 took out of me, but at least I was able to finish the workout and amble home without completely falling apart. Still, all signs point to taking some time off after the race this weekend.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Monday Single

AM: 57 mins.
7.5-8 miles

It was an absolutely gorgeous day--sunny, warm but not hot, breezy, low humidity. I wanted nothing more than to enjoy a nice morning run with Jordan...except my freaking stomach is still upset. No idea what's going on. I turned back early because I didn't feel well, only to realize a few miles later that I felt better after all, so I doubled back to catch Jordan for the final part of the run. A bit unconventional, but at least I put in time on the feet.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Week in Review

63-64 miles
3 days on the road with JSK
2 crappy motels
5 AFDs

The post-Nationals letdown has hit me pretty hard. I'm feeling tired and lethargic and am even struggling with a niggle in my left foot that flared up during the championship 5k. Overall I think I just need to take a break, and after next weekend's New Balance race I intend to do just that. Hopefully I can keep it together until then and still run a respectable time.

On a positive note, this much more relaxed week was a lot of fun. I had a great time playing co-pilot for three days with Jordan, celebrating his birthday with Queens/CRC folks on Thursday and getting in some quality brunch/pool/run action with friends on Sunday. Weeks like this make me feel incredibly fortunate for the great people we've met in a relatively short period of time since moving to Charlotte. It's nice to be reminded that running isn't everything.

McAlpine x 2

AM: 45 mins. (6 miles)
15 mins. core
PM: 45 mins. (6 miles)

It's not often that I get out to McAlpine twice in one day--sometimes I don't even make it out there twice in one week--but today the opportunity presented itself for several reasons. The first of those was, unfortunately, an unpleasant one: my stomach. Yes, my stomach has been topsy-turvy ever since Friday. And those of you who know me know I'm no stranger to running-related stomach ailments, but this weekend things have been much worse than usual. Maybe I have the Ebola virus or something. At any rate, I finally decided to cut my attempted 12-miler short halfway after my stomach just would not settle down. I felt especially bad because I was also inconveniencing Jordan, but he didn't seem to mind. We tabled the run and resolved to try again in the afternoon.

But first, the pool. Specifically, the JCC pool with Denise and Tyler and a few other friends. Shalom! We spent a few hours lounging and relaxing in the sun--maybe not the best recipe for a successful run later, but I figured even my best attempts to sabotage myself couldn't make things worse than they already were. Besides, the JCC is just off Providence near McAlpine, and Jordan caught word that Jay and Aaron were meeting at Old Bell around 4:30. It seemed like a good fit.

With Tyler in tow, we pulled up to Old Bell just a few minutes after Aaron. As it turned out, Jay was literally just arriving into town on a plane and was running a few minutes late, so we decided to go out and back for a few miles before picking him back up. It's a bit unorthodox for me to be at McAlpine on a Sunday afternoon (get it...Jew pool...orthodox...I crack myself up!), but slightly lower than usual humidity levels kept things quite tolerable. Even better, my stomach was inexplicably night and day from this morning. I was able to make it through the entire run without having to dart off into the woods somewhere--maybe I'm not setting the bar too high, but that's a win in my book! Oh, and the company and conversation was not too bad either. Despite a rocky start, I would say this turned into quite a pleasant Sunday. We thoroughly maximized our time outdoors and enjoyed some quality time with quality friends.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

King Tiger 5k

~4 mile w/u + strides
5k @17:47 (5:33, 5:38, 5:56)
2 mile c/d
Total: 9+ miles

Terrible. Absolutely terrible. I haven't felt this bad in a race since...well there was that 5k I ran a week ago that was pretty tough too. The only difference is in that race I ran a legit time and today I shuffled my way to a near 6-minute mile up the final hill.

I really have no interest in recapping this race, other than to say it was hot and I'm tired and I'm pretty sure I need to take a break for a few weeks. Today I ran a full 10 seconds slower than at the arguably hillier Great Harvest--and I was trying much, much harder. However, I've already committed to racing the New Balance Boston Twilight Series 5k next Saturday--I promise, two weeks ago this seemed like a great idea--so I can't shut things down just yet. Instead of dishing out the gory details of my slow and painful death today, I'll merely echo Paul in saying that the best part of the race was the free shaved ice afterward and the glimpse of the lady pushing her cat in a baby jogger. I have half a mind to throw Weezy in one for the next 5k but I'm pretty sure she would exact her revenge by waking me up at 4am for weeks afterward.

Friday, June 4, 2010

All Shook Up

AM: 6-6.5 miles
PM: 3 miles

Wow, my stomach was absolutely rocked today. I blame the $2 drafts and my spinach dip-intensive dinner. But still, I neither drank nor ate that much and felt absolutely fine when I went to bed. But for whatever reason, I could tell from the first few steps of this run that things were going to be a bit touch and go. In fact, if it weren't for Jenna coming over to hold me accountable, I could've just as easily skipped and stayed curled up in bed in the fetal position. Instead I toughed it out and even unknowingly used my early bathroom stop as a chance for Jordan to catch up with us after he left the house late. Let's hope whatever is going on in my innards clears up before tomorrow's Grand Prix race, the King Tiger 5k up in University.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Jordan's Birthday

AM: 4 mile w/u + strides
Target: 1200 @82s (4:06), 2x400 @80, 3x200 faster
Actual: 4:02, 78, 80, 32.8, 32.2, 30.8
1.5 mile c/d
Total: 7-7.5 miles

Normally I wouldn't be excited about the prospect of hitting the track at 7am for a workout. However, today I didn't mind--mostly because I knew there was a very abridged effort on tap, but also becaus
e I had a support crew joining me. So, although each of us had our own agendas once we reached the track, Jenna and Tyler agreed to meet at our apartment at 7:30 and jog over to AG together. After dropping Tyler off at the track at 1.5 miles--he's primarily a cyclist and sorta new to this whole running thing--the Three Musketeers continued for an extended loop through Myers Park. Once we arrived back at AG, Jordan prepared for his prescribed drills and sprints while I laced up my flats for some intervals.

Predictably, the 1200 felt awful. This is the first time I've tried to run hard since last weekend, and it showed. I felt slightly better as I progressed through the shorter stuff (when have I ever said that before??), and my spirits were briefly buoyed by the two maintenance men on the backstretch who proclaimed me fit to join the Olympic team. But still, this was not one of my finer track sessions.

Of more importance than my lackluster wogging, today is Jordan's birthday. He has now joined me on the dark side of the mid-20s from which there is no return. To celebrate, we met up with some fellow runners (and a few fellow running bloggers) for the first ever Queens/CRC social at Dilworth Neighborhood Grill, then swung over to South End for some pints and shuffleboard at Tyber Creek. It was a
pretty late night for grandma over here but well worth the sacrifice. Happy birthday, babe!

The birthday boy and Bill Gary Jr.

Tyler threatens to get physical with Jenna after a poor shuffleboard move

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Road Trippin'

Wednesday, 6/2
AM: 6 miles
15 mins. core
PM: 3 miles

Tuesday, 6/1
AM: 4 miles
PM: 2 mile w/u
1 mile barefoot, 1 mile w/shoes, 4x100m strides
2 mile c/d

Total: 6-6.5 miles

Monday, 5/31
AM: Driving
PM: 45 mins. (6 miles)

After a fun but thoroughly exhausting weekend, getting away for a few days sounded like a great idea. Jordan and I planned a mini-road trip that would allow him to visit a ton of his accounts while also taking us to some new places. As such, we were up way before the sun on Monday to hit the road for Virginia Beach. Neither of us had been, and we wanted to see the boardwalk and stay
in a (crappy) hotel on the beach. In hindsight, planning this for Memorial Day might not have been the best idea, as it seemed as though every person in the tri-state area had decided to set up camp in our personal space for the entire evening. Nonetheless, we had a great time eating an overpriced meal at a divey Mexican restaurant and then walking back to the Super 8 with the sand between our toes. We even squeezed in a sunrise jog along the boardwalk the next morning before taking off.

VA Beach sunrise. Too bad I didn't actually take this myself.

Tuesday night found us in Chapel Hill at the UNC track. Jordan had a quick pre-race workout on tap and I just wanted to get in some barefoot running and strides. All went well save for the sauna-like air quality, but I suppose we better get used to it. Also of note, the UNC track is just about as soft as a sponge. Seriously. It could not be more different than JCSU. I'd take it for training (but not necessarily racing) any day.

Neptune statue on the boardwalk in VA Beach

Wednesday morning we cut some loops around the UNC cross-country course near our hotel. The course was fine and I was happy for the soft surfaces but I pretty much felt terrible. I'm surprised last weekend's races took so much out of me but clearly they did, as it's almost a week later and I still don't feel recovered. I did feel marginally better on my evening run from home, but that's possibly because I was so focused on not getting struck by lightning or washed away in the monsoon that I didn't have time to pay attention to my legs. Either way, I have a mini-workout on the track tomorrow so I'll get to test things out then.