Saturday, July 31, 2010

Checking Out Some Booty

AM: 65 mins. (9 miles)

I would've loved to meet up with the CRC group that was running long on the trails of Francis Beatty Park this morning, but unfortunately I was scheduled for work beginning at 9 so it just wasn't going to happen. Instead, I set out for a slow medium loop from home. The 24 Hours of Booty ride, a fundraiser with over 1500 participants, was in progress on the Booty Loop, and I wanted to check out the scene.

Riders taking off at the start of 24 Hours of Booty. Photo credit to the
Charlotte Observer.

I was about 20 minutes into the run--the first two miles of which I'd covered in a blistering 16 minutes--when I ran into AJ of CRC fame. I met him for the first time at an early morning Dowd run a few months ago and since then have seen him around town on occasion. He was just starting out a 16-miler and asked if he could tag along with me. I told him that I was running pretty slow, around 7:30-7:40 pace, to which he responded that he didn't plan to go any faster. I had my doubts. He is legendary for pushing the pace on easy runs, and I could tell by the way he'd rolled up on me that he was not taking it as easy as I would've liked. Sure enough, within the span of a few steps my "recovery" run pace dropped by nearly a minute and I found myself huffing and puffing up the Queens Road hill. Fortunately, things improved after a mile of my legs and lungs fighting the pace change, and for the rest of the run I thoroughly enjoyed the company and conversation. It was also fun to see all the cyclists and crew/spectators out supporting 24 Hours of Booty even at this early hour (and according to this followup article, they raised an astounding $1 million). Definitely made the standard loop a bit more entertaining.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Easy Recovery

AM: 66 mins. (9 miles)

After yesterday's effort, it's no surprise that Caitlin and I were feeling absolutely terrible on this morning's run. Fortunately Jordan had no intentions of pushing the pace and everyone finished in one piece. That's about all you can hope for on a day like today.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Kicking Booty

AM: 3 mile w/u
Target: 3x3 miles @6:20 pace or faster (Caitlin); 2x3 miles @Caitlin's pace (me) w/4 mins. rest
Actual (me): 18:22 (6:10, 6:13, 5:59); 18:00 (6:03, 6:06, 5:52)
2.5 mile c/d
Total: 12 miles

Caitlin absolutely rocked this workout. Anyone who can run 3x3 miles faster than marathon pace at 5:45 in the morning in the middle of summer deserves some serious props. She also did a great job of summarizing it in her blog, so since I'm already behind on blogging I'm going to take the easy way out and link you there. What I will say is that we made a game time decision to switch this from McAlpine to the Booty Loop due to rain, and surprisingly it turned out to be a great idea. The loop is almost exactly three miles (2.88 according to Mr. Garmin, so we only had to add on a little bit), and the direction that we ran sets things up nicely for a negative split. (The first 1.25 miles are uphill, then 1 mile flat, then .75 screaming downhill.) The only drawback is that it's on the sidewalk instead of dirt, a detail that was not lost on my aching legs and feet upon returning home, but otherwise I have no complaints. Another great effort with some great peeps in the books.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

It's a Small World After All

AM: 75 mins. (10 miles)

Today's run covered familiar territory, but it was made significantly more interesting by the presence of a new face. Scott Schilter, the national sales manager for Nuun, is in town traveling with Jordan for a few days. I picked Scott up from the airport yesterday evening and within the span of a few minutes we discovered that we knew about two dozen of the same people, as he previously worked for both Brooks and Adidas. (Those people include, but are not limited to, my buddy Rousey whom we just saw in San Diego, my former hiring manager at Brooks, the owner of RunTex in Austin, and about a dozen more current or former Brooks employees.) In fact, after further conversation we realized we'd met each other once before, and actually sat beside each other at the Gate River Run afterparty in early 2009. In case I haven't mentioned it before, the running world is absolutely tiny (or, one could argue, incestuous). At any rate, the two of us hit it off instantly and I could tell it was going to be fun having him around for a few days. How can you not like someone who gamely agrees to wake up early and go for a run despite sleeping poorly and feeling jet-lagged from west coast time?

Fortunately for me, the pace was kept quite easy and conversational. I'm feeling a bit knackered after yesterday's runs and need to chill out this morning, especially since Caitlin and I bumped our Friday morning tempo run(s) to tomorrow instead. After some time on the feet through Freedom Park and the Booty Loop, we called it a morning and headed home to shower and start the day.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Double the Workout, Double the Fun

Early AM: 3 mile w/u
Goal: 8x800 @2:45 w/250m recovery
Actual: 2:36, 2:36, 2:36, 2:38, 2:38, 2:37, 400 in 73.5
1.5 mile c/d
Total: 9 miles

Later AM: 1 mile w/u
Drills, 5x30m "high knees" uphill
5x2:30 hill circuit
~3-4 miles

If you ever want to make the morning feel like an entire day, try cramming in two workouts and no meals into the span of four hours. That just about sums up my Tuesday.

To be fair, I brought it upon myself. I'd already planned to do 800s with Caitlin this morning when I agreed to help out at a middle school cross-country camp. I guess I just didn't realize how closely in time these two events would occur or how drained I'd be after the first workout. In the end, however, both sessions ended up being a lot of fun and made me appreciate my breakfast/lunch all that much more.

For starters, let's discuss the 800m workout. Caitlin, Justin and I planned to do this on a loop in Dilworth that is apparently widely used for this sort of thing, so much so that it actually has markers spray painted on the ground every 200 meters. When we rolled up to the Dowd at 6am we found that Alice Rogers, Pete Brown and Lat Purser were planning to do a similar workout. This was a pleasant surprise and an opportunity to team up with a few new people for what promised to be a difficult session. Caitlin had prescribed a 2:45 clip for these, but it became pretty obvious during the first 200 meters of the first interval that we would not be running that slowly (mostly because Caitlin and I were sprinting after Lat, who proceeded to demolish us throughout the workout despite not wearing a watch or being remotely aware of his pace). Ultimately we ended up rewarding ourselves for the faster tempo by cutting the workout a bit short, which panned out just as well for me since I'd promised to be at McAlpine by 8:30 to assist with the camp. (Also, here's a special shout out to Rebecca Thomason for mixing Gatorade for me and Caitlin on her porch pre-cooldown despite the fact that we were practically watering her plants with our sweat.)

Driving out to McAlpine I was already tired and hungry but also excited at the prospect of running with the kids at the camp. I knew little about the setup beyond the fact that most of them were future cross-country runners at Holy Trinity Middle School. Turns out there were 10 of them evenly mixed between genders and grades, all possessing an enthusiasm and boundless energy that I would love to bottle up. After a warmup mile and some drills we did a few high-knees exercises up the hill before dividing up into groups of two for a series of hill repeat loops. I ran with a tall eighth grader named Darvy and a small (but oh so spunky) sixth grader named Tyler, both of whom were determined to "beat" all the other groups on the hills despite the fact that we weren't really being timed. They made sure to do one more repeat than everyone else for good measure as well. It was a lot of fun to see them pushing themselves so intently and soaking up the training advice like a sponge.

Needless to say, by the time I returned home just after 11 I was starving and exhausted. Fortunately I had the rest of the day off work to rest and recover and squeeze in a badly needed nap. This may not have been the most conventional of workout days, but it was definitely time well spent.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Freedom Park Meetup

AM: 80 mins. (10.5 miles)

Well, I definitely learned my lesson yesterday. When the alarm went off this morning I didn't even think twice about sleeping in. Instead, I nudged Jordan a few times to ensure that both of us were awake, then got up and put on my costume. In addition to beating the heat, the main incentive for the early run time was a scheduled meetup with Caitlin in Freedom Park. We left our respective abodes at 6:15 and met a few miles into our runs before joining up for the rest of a medium loop. The pace was quite slow--I was going to use "relaxed" or some other euphemism, but no, it was most definitely just slow--as all of us struggled to shake off a weekend of hard running. Luckily for me and Caitlin, Jordan was feeling the worst of all, which meant he was content to meander about at girl pace for the duration. Once back at the park, we decided to add on by escorting Caitlin back in the direction of her house. We parted ways on Morehead and then Jordan and I slogged out the remaining miles home. I can't say this was one of my better runs, but the company and cooler temperatures might necessitate this becoming a Monday morning routine.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Week in Review

69-70 miles
3 days in Cali
4 airports
4 miles o'fun in Dilworth

The first half of this week was pretty swell. It's hard to complain about enjoying a little R&R with palm trees as the backdrop. As for the second half of the week...well, I'm glad it's over. There is certainly something to be said for coming home and sleeping in your own bed, but it's hard to feel encouraged by this utterly debilitating weather. Surely this will be coming to an end by this time next month?? A girl can dream.

Sleeping In

AMish: 80 mins. incl. 5x60 sec. surges (11 miles)

I had the best of intentions this morning. I'd gone to bed the night before planning to get up and join the CRC group long run at McMullen Creek Greenway. But when our alarm went off at 6:30, my body was screaming at me that it needed more sleep. To be fair, I'd already been passed out for over eight hours, but I guess two consecutive days of 9+ hours on the sales floor plus yesterday's race had sufficiently zapped my energy reserves. Jordan got up; I rolled over.

My reward for sleeping in was the prospect of a solo long run in the sweltering heat of the late morning sun. I didn't make it to the Boyce parking lot until after 10, my motivation levels inversely proportional to the ever-increasing time on the clock. I parked, took a final drink of water, disrobed and vowed to at least run 10. Does that even count as a long run? Who knows. It does in the summer when you're taking a break from super structured training!

Surprisingly, the first half of the run wasn't too bad. The first few miles in the shaded back trails were pleasant, and even the exposed section from there to the second mile of the Footlocker course wasn't unbearable. Things got a bit dicey when I tried to incorporate some pickups into the second half of the run. I first experimented with this last Sunday on my run with Jordan. His coach (my former coach) Jeff Gaudette recommends incorporating pickups into longer runs and presents a compelling argument (here is Jordan's preamble with a link to Jeff's original article attached). Last week, though tough, I enjoyed the surges because they helped the second half of the run fly by. Today it was just too much. I guess the combination of yesterday's race in my legs plus the climbing temperatures translated into a death march for the final few miles after I'd completed the surges. Instead of worrying about the pace, I tried to focus on maintaining proper form and arm carriage all the way up the last hill to Boyce. Once back to the car I more or less collapsed onto the sidewalk and painted an indelible sweat outline of my body into the pavement.

Several minutes passed before I was recovered (and dry) enough to get in the car and head home. Once I arrived I found Jordan cooking up flapjacks and eggs and Caitlin suited up and ready to hit the pool. I didn't have long to think about my dismal run, and spending a "family day" with these two certainly helped buoy my spirits. After the past few days I'm eager to put this week behind me and move on to the next one.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Run For Your Life 4 Miler

AM: 3 mile w/u + strides
Target: 4 mile race @22:30 or faster
Actual: 23:07 (5:52, 5:41, 5:54, 5:39)
1+ mile c/d
Total: 8 miles

Hating life

There are several scenarios in which a girl could find herself in the Jack in the Box men's bathroom at 7:30 on a Saturday morning. The least licentious of which, and the one that necessitated my time in said bathroom, was that it was 10 minutes until race time and the port-a-potty lines were too long. The fact that I was already hot, sweaty and unusually tired before entering the bathroom certainly did not portend an enjoyable race experience, a sentiment that was clearly shared by everyone involved. When I passed Paul on my jog over to the Jack in the Box, I asked something along the lines of, "So, on a scale of 1 to 10, our 5k on the track at Myers Park being an 8, how brutal would you say this race is going to be?" He said 10. I nodded my head in rueful agreement. Paul's coach, Tim Budic, recently posted an interesting blog about how the dew point, not necessarily the temperature or humidity percentage, plays the greatest role in affecting a workout or race performance. According to his chart, a dew point in the range of 75-80 is "extremely uncomfortable, fairly oppressive." Anything over 80 is "severely high, even deadly." The dew point when we woke up this morning was 76.

And so, jogging over to the starting line with heavy legs, a small voice in my head told me that both my dream goal of 22-flat and my second-tier goal of 22:30 were both pretty unrealistic. Instead, I told myself that all I needed to do was win so that I could earn the points for the Grand Prix series. Later in the race, my only incentive to not drop out was the fact that this race would actually earn double points for the Grand Prix, which made fin
ishing (ideally in first, but mostly just finishing) crucial. It was not going to be fun.

Jordan taking a commanding lead

The race started and finished in the street directly in front of Run For Your Life, which was comforting in its familiarity. At 7:30 sharp the whistle blew and we were on our way. The first mile was almost entirely uphill, so right away my breathing was unnaturally labored. I told myself that coming through in 5:40 would be a realistic goal for this mile at this effort level, plus I was surrounded by people who usually run the same pace as me during these races--Cory Tretsky, Chad Crockford and Billy Shue, to name a few. When I came up to the first mile marker and saw that it read 5:52, I was demoralized. Unable to reconcile the time on the clock with the level of effort I was expending was pretty discouraging, but I pressed on. A few meters later I was passed by my CRC training partner Stephen Spada, and I literally willed myself to stay with him for the next two miles. It also helped that the second mile on East Blvd. was a gradual downhill, so I was able to regroup and pick up the pace slightly. Around the 2-mile mark was the only water station on the course, and though I never take water during races I grabbed a cup and dumped it over my head and chest. That, plus the close contact with Spada, kept me focused and invigorated through the middle section of the race despite the uphill third mile, my slowest of the race. (Although I would be lying if I didn't admit that as we approached Kenilworth on East, part of me thought about how nice it would be to just turn right on Kenilworth and jog a few easy minutes back to the store.) I kept telling myself that if I could keep it together until 1200 to go, I'd have the reprieve of a steady downhill all the way to the finish. At this point Spada began to falter a bit and I went around him, grateful for the help he'd provided in the toughest section of the race. My legs and lungs were burning and all I could think about was a tasty drink of water, but I put my head down and kept pushing to the finish. I crossed the line in 23:07, a far cry from my goal and 15 seconds slower than I'd tempoed the Shamrock 4 Miler in March. To say the least, the weather had humbled me.

Drafting off Spada. Apparently I was taking a bit of a nap since my
eyes are closed.

After sitting down for a few minutes and drinking about a dozen cups of water, I was able to see how everyone else had fared. Jordan won decisively in 20:30ish, followed by Paul and Greg Isaacs and then Jay and Aaron. Alice and Danielle had taken second and third for the women, with Spada and Cory finishing in between me and Alice. My friend and coworker Ben, fresh off a several month layoff due to a stress fracture, was stoked to finish his first race back in 29 minutes. Overall, we were an exhausted yet relatively satisfied bunch. Next week we'll have a break before getting after it again at the Blue Points 5k on August 7th, hopefully in more hospitable weather. In the meantime, it's time to hydrate and get rested up after today's efforts. Great job to everyone who participated today!

Friday, July 23, 2010


Friday, 7/23
AM: 8.5 miles

Thursday, 7/22
AM: 6 miles
15 mins. core
PM: 4 miles

Can I go back to San Diego now?? Seriously, for the past week I've been jogging 7-minute pace on my easy runs without even batting an eye, but upon returning back to this sauna called Charlotte I can barely maintain 7:30 pace on my morning runs without feeling utterly wiped out. This doesn't bode well for the 4 Miler on Saturday or for the pleasantness of my mood, but unfortunately there's not much to be done about it now. Everyone's dealing with the same conditions, and all of us are hoping that this will make us tougher and stronger come autumn. (The alternative, that the weather is doing nothing but zapping our energy reserves and breaking us down beyond repair, is too depressing to consider.) I'd hoped to set a fast pace at the race but am now adjusting my goal to survival. Set the bar low, clear it every time.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

So Long, Farewell

AM: 57 mins. (8 miles)
PM: Travel

Wow. Where did the time go? As is usually the case, our vacation--and our final vacation run--passed way too quickly. This morning Jordan and I rose early to put in one final loop around Balboa Park and up Oompa Loompa before departing eastward. I can't say I'm looking forward to the heat and humidity that await me, but at least I can confidently assert that I made the most of the advantageous training conditions while I was here.

Prado fountain at sunrise

Until next time, San Diego, thanks for the memories.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Balboa Park Fartlek

AM: 3 mile w/u
Target: 5 min, 5 min, 3 min, 3 min, 1 min, 1 min hard all w/3 min.
Actual: Above
1+ mile c/d
Total: ~9 miles
PM: 29 mins. (3.5-4 miles)

I asked Coach Jordan for a workout, and he did not disappoint. Though it doesn't look that tough on paper, I was completely gassed by the e
nd of this. Most of that I attribute to the undulating terrain and uneven footing of the park. Had I done this same workout at the same pace on the flat dirt of McAlpine I doubt it would've been nearly as tough. As it was today, I pushed myself pretty hard on the uphill portions of the 5-minuters and, as a result, was sucking wind on all the shorter segments. Fortunately Jordan was running with me and keeping the pace honest, otherwise I'm sure I would've been dragging even worse toward the end.

The best part of this workout? The post-run brunch we enjoyed at the legendary Hash House. To say the portions were huge would be an understatement, and even in our ravenous workout-depleted state Jordan and I could only finish half of our respective entrees (griddled French Toast and smoked chicken, sundried tomato pesto, spinach and goat cheese scramble, in case you were wondering). It. Was. Awesome.

This afternoon, after a breakfast-induced coma and family field trip to Coronado Island, we ran another short park loop before finishing up at Trader Joe's. Jordan is in charge of preparing tonight's meal and was in need of supplies, so a dual purpose run made sense. Luckily the walk back home from the grocery store with our heavily laden bags was no more than a mile.

On the beach at Coronado

Monday, July 19, 2010

Easy Oompa Loompa Loop

AM: 55 mins. (7.5 miles)
PM: 33 mins. (4+ miles)

Nothing but easy Balboa Park running on tap today. This morning Jordan and I did an abbreviated version of the loop I ran solo on Friday, including the always humbling shuffle up Upas (aka Oompa Loompa). We enjoyed a few more easy miles on the grass in Balboa Park in the evening before heading off to dinner with my college friend Amy.

Balboa Park bell tower at dusk

I'm not sure what tomorrow holds, but I know I'd like to get in some semblance of a workout in preparation for Saturday's Run For Your Life 4 Miler. We'll see what Coach Jordan can think up between now and then.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Week in Review

77-78 miles
4 AFDs
3 days in San Diego
0 days above 80 degrees =)

Well, as you can see, my mileage experienced a significant bump this week. A quick look back at my 2010 Weeks in Review shows that I haven't run this many miles all year; in fact, I can't find a Week in Review of over 75 miles since the week of March 22, 2009. The fact that I achieved this week's mileage with only two doubles--one of those being a paltry 8 and 3--is even more encouraging. I'm sure it will be difficult to reach this number again until the temperatures cool off in Charlotte, so I'm thrilled to be able to take advantage of the perfect Cali weather while I'm here.

Mission Bay Long Run

AM: 1 hour 36 mins. incl. 5x90 sec. pickups (14 miles)
PM: Rousey!!!

Seeking out a change of scenery for our long run, Jordan suggested we drive out to Mission Bay near the Sea World headquarters and run out along the ocean. Again, this would mean that our enti
re run would be on pavement, but just like yesterday we thought the ocean's stunning vistas would make for more than a fair tradeoff. Jordan's schedule called for 14, and though I haven't run this far in a while I just decided to tag along for the duration. The way I see it, if there's ever a time to bump up the mileage it might as well be when I have a respite from the sweltering heat and humidity of Charlotte.

We parked the car in a large parking lot near the boardwalk, secured our valuables and set off into the morning mist. The sky was overcast and foggy, more like the NorCal weather Jordan is accustomed to than the sparkling sunshine we've seen here the past few days, and for the first few steps we felt a distinct chill in the air. I loved it. I wanted to keep the pace from getting out of control early on, so we made the conscious decision to chill for the first seven miles of our out-and-back journey. These miles took us north along the bay with the boardwalk shops to our right and the crashing ocean waves to our left. After three or four miles the boardwalk came to an end, but we stayed the course by meandering along the undulating oceanside roads. There were a ton of other runners, cyclists, walkers and tourists out and about, all of them keeping us company even though we never exchanged any words. Our turnaround was forced just a few meters shy of seven miles at the La Jolla cove, where to our pleasant surprise we spotted a group (school? pride? flock?) of sea lions basking in the ocean breeze on a craggy outcropping of rocks. We stopped for a few minutes to watch before heading back the way we'd come.

A few minutes later, Jordan announced that he was beginning a set of five 90-second pickups, each with five minutes of recovery in between. Though I knew I couldn't keep up with him, I decided to give it a try since I hadn't really done a second workout this week. Why not count my longest run in months plus pickups as a workout? The best part about this strategy was that it made the remainder of the run pass quickly, so that by the time our uptempo sections were over we only had a few miles left. I was thoroughly exhausted at this point--the distance plus the demoralization of getting absolutely destroyed by Jordan on the pickups had worn me down--but I didn't want to pansy out and slowly shuffle to the finish. Despite my heavy legs I made a conscious effort to keep chugging along at a respectable clip, and after a few rough minutes we reached our makeshift finish line. I was pleased to see that we'd completed the run in just over 95 minutes, a brisker pace than I usually maintain for long runs even though we'd started out conservatively.

In the evening we were in for a special treat, a reunion with my friend and former coworker Mike Rouse. I first met Rousey in the spring of 2005 at the Boston Marathon; I was attending with my dad, who was running, and Mike was working the expo with Mizuno. At the time he was the Mizuno sales rep for San Diego and Hawaii; as you can imagine, it was a pretty tough life. Anyway, several months later when I graduated college and was looking for my first job, Mike and a few other Mizuno-ites helped me land a tech rep position with the brand. Five years later we've both moved on (me to Brooks and then grad school, he to Zoot and now to his current position as the VP of Running for K-Swiss) but we've always managed to stay in touch. Mike knows absolutely everybody in the running industry and is best buddies with Jordan's boss Paul, so needless to say we made sure to try to find a chance to meet up with him while we were here in town. It also should be mentioned that Mike is a pretty hardcore runner and triathlete, having completed numerous Iron Mans and the most excruciating race I could imagine, the Ultra Man (which consists of a 10k swim, 260+ mile bike and double marathon). Just yesterday, in fact, he completed an "easy" five hour training run. His wife Kimmie is no less impressive, and on not a few occasions I've retold the story of the time she competed in the Iron Man World Championships with a broken collarbone. (In case you're wondering, she swam with one arm, rested the injured arm on the handlebars during the bike, and then just let it flop around during the marathon.) To put it mildly, Mike and Kimmie's exploits are legendary and thus there is no shortage of stories when they're around. It was an absolute blast to catch up with him after a few years' absence last night.

The man, the myth, the legend: Mike Rouse

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Harbor Run

AM: 65 mins. (9.3 miles)

Post-run apple fritter worthy of our good buddy Scotty D

My partner in crime joined us late last night, and I was excited for the two of us to have a chance to catch up on the week's happenings while on our run this morning. For the second day in a row we had absolutely gorgeous weather--blue skies, warm sunshine and low humidity--and it was truly a joy just to be outside soaking it all in. Instead of returning directly to the park, I proposed a route that would take us down to the harbor and along the water before bringing us back up through the historic Gaslamp district and, finally, to the park's familiar setting. We did a similar run last time we were here and thoroughly enjoyed it despite the fact that it consisted solely of pavement. The miles along the water flew by as we were engrossed in conversation, and before I knew it we were back at the edge of the park and headed homeward. The pace felt relaxed and easy, and for the entire run I thought we were moving at a fairly pedestrian speed. Imagine my surprise, then, when I heard Jordan's watch beep at 63 minutes. I asked him if we'd just passed the 8-mile mark--that's how leisurely the pace felt to me--but he laughed and said that we were actually at 9. Who knew?!

Entrance to the Gaslamp District

Taking in the scene at the pride parade in Hillcrest

Jordan opted to double in the evening, but I was content to settle in for a delicious nap and a few minutes of reading. Afterward the four of us headed out to a dinner of tapas and tasty sangria at Tapas Picasso around the corner. It was the perfect end to vacation day #2.

Father and son

Friday, July 16, 2010

First Balboa Park Run

AM: 60 mins. (8-8.5 miles)
PM: 3 miles

When I woke up this morning I could hardly contain my excitement for the prospect of running in Balboa Park. We've run here many times since Jordan and I started visiting his dad here, and though I suspect the usual route would grow tiresome after a while we haven't yet come here enough for the novelty to wear off. This time, however, would be the first outing I'd undertaken solo, as Jordan won't arrive from NorCal until late tonight. At 10am I laced up the shoes and headed out the door for what I hoped would be a fun, hard solo exploring effort.

The first few mi
nutes of run took me north down the palm tree-lined streets of Hillcrest toward the edge of the park. Once there I was able to run on the grass next to the sidewalk until I looped back toward the Prado, the long bridge overlooking the freeway and the downtown area that leads to the zoo and the park's many museums. If planned properly 2/3 of this run can unfold on grass and dirt, and I made sure that happened today. From the Prado I ran down the zig-zagging sidewalk to the highway crossing, then ascended the steep dirt path that leads toward the velodrome and the Footlocker XC course on the other side. I was huffing and puffing profusely at this point and loving every second. I meandered around for a few minutes on this side of the park before checking my watch and deciding it was time to head back. I knew from prior experience this would mean I'd have to conquer Upas, the steepest street I've ever ascended, one that had reduced me to walking many times. Today I vowed that Upas (which I at one point renamed Oompa Loompa, because of the similar assonance sounds and, well, because I love midgets) would be my bitch. As I approached its looming facade I looked up, steeled my resolve, and said aloud, "Upas, you are my bitch." I then proceeded to stagger up it at 12-minute pacing while wheezing like a chain smoker. (You can view a photo of this monstrosity here.)

Lily pad pond near the museum area at the
top of the Prado

Heading back along the Prado I felt like I was flying. I knew I couldn't slow down at this point so I picked up the pace even more as I returned homeward. By this point the sun was high in the sky and I was sweating like crazy, but it felt like the right thing to do. The run concluded as every good run should, with me breathless and exhausted but eager for the next go.

But first, it was time to relax with Gary and Roger and take in a flick. I knew Caitlin would be beyond jealous that we would be among the first in the States to view The Girl Who Played With Fire, the second installment in the Dragon Tattoo series. The coolest part was that for the climactic scene in the film, the main character (Lisbeth Salander) is sporting a Craft half zip sweat sweatshirt! She literally wears it for the last 30 minutes of the film, during the course of which time ******SPOILER ALERT****** she gets shot twice, buried alive, rises from the grave and beats the crap out of her father with an ax. Needless to say, she gets her money's worth out of the sweatshirt (as we do from the watching) and it ends up quite bloody and dirty by the end of the film. I guess they say no publicity is bad publicity?? She is the most badass book heroine to come along in quite some time so I'd say it's a win for the brand.

P.S. I will be taking some photos today so I can better illustrate the blog tomorrow. Until then, just picture the most awesome weather and scenery you can imagine. That's what I'm working with.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Must. Remain. Calm.

AM: 58 mins. (8 miles)
15 mins. core
PM: A little piece of hell

To start our respective days o'travel off right, John and I met at Boyce to run a few easy miles on soft surfaces. He's headed to the beach with his parents and I'm off to Cali, and both of us know we'll be running on pavement quite a bit in the coming days. Though driving to McAlpine isn't as convenient as hopping on the bike path from my front door, sometimes it's worth the effort.

The afternoon of travel started off auspiciously enough. Denise came through huge time with a ride to the airport, which meant I was there with plenty of time to check in, go through security, make my requisite trip to Jamba Juice and get to the gate before my 5:27 flight...or so I thought. As soon as I stepped through the sliding glass doors into the lobby of Charlotte-Douglas, I knew things would not go as planned. What greeted my disbelieving eyes was a veritable sea of people, stretched from one side of the airport to the other in a series of lines that snaked around each other like a slow-motion Pac Man game. After checking my bag I had no choice but to queue up with the masses and hope that I would somehow be able to make it to my gate in time. Jamba Juice was out the window. I had 52 minutes.

Those 52 minutes came and went as I inched forward a few steps at at time, commiserating with a few of my fellow travelers about the sorry state of affairs. Apparently one of the security checkpoint gates was closed for remodeling, but I had no idea that a seemingly small inconvenience would wreak such havoc. At one point I witnessed two grown businessmen almost come to blows because one of them tried to cut the line; the worst part is, at that point I would've welcomed the fistfight simply for the entertainment value. Instead, I made it through security at 5:50--a full 80 minutes after I'd entered the line--and took off on a mad dash through the terminal in hopes that somehow my plane was still on the ground. It wasn't. Instead I was greeted by a surprisingly helpful United gate agent who insisted that he would try to reschedule me "on any flight, on any seat, on any airline" that would get me to my destination. He did not disappoint, promptly scheduling me on a US Airways flight--direct!--that would leave in 30 minutes. I was ecstatic at the prospect of flying direct, and even more ecstatic about the opportunity to get Jamba Juice before my flight. Things were looking up.

That is, until I reached my new gate and approached the gate agent for my seat assignment. "Sorry, honey," she said in a tone that didn't convey much regret, "but this flight is oversold. I have no idea why he sent you over here." Must. Remain. Calm. "Do you want to sit tight for a few minutes and see if you can go standby?" At that point I didn't see much alternative, particularly since the next flight out wasn't until the following morning, so I stood there in a state of sullen, silent discontent while my Chunky Strawberry Topper slowly melted. I was so close, yet so far away. At that point I wasn't even ashamed to wish the same fate that had befallen me in the security line on someone from this flight in hopes that I'd be able to snag a seat. Miraculously, that's exactly what happened, and before I knew it I was reclining comfortably in an exit row with six feet of legroom and only one seat neighbor. Things were...looking up? I was hesitant to relax but after a few minutes knew that all was, indeed, right with the world. I managed to finish my book on the flight and we arrived 45 minutes early--a full 4 hours earlier than I would have if I'd caught my original flight. Who would've imagined that missing my flight would've resulted in this best case scenario? And now, friends, my vacation can officially begin.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Controlled Burn

AM: 3+ mile w/u
Target: 8 min., 6 min., 4 min., 2 min., 1 min. all faster than the one before
Actual: 8 (5:56 through mile), 6 (5:37 through mile), 3 (~2:40 through 800), 2, 1
2+ mile c/d
Total: 10 miles

After some debate about whether to do this on the roads or brave the muddy postdiluvian trails at McAlpine, we opted to hit the trails and hope for the best. While completing our warmup it became clear that while there were certainly some treacherous sections, the first 3k of the course was more or less dry and runnable. So, while we knew it might be lacking a bit in the way of excitement, we decided to run the workout portion of the run on that 3k loop (minus the hill). Today the "we" consisted of myself, Caitlin and Spada (plus Justin, who arrived just in time for our second interval), while our cheering squad of Paul, Jay and Aaron were content to put in a few recovery miles instead.

Though Caitlin had only prescribed 6:05ish pace for the first interval, the first few minutes out the gate felt fast; too fast, it seemed, for the early hour in my mud-caked trainers. I've come to expect that the first uptempo attempt of these early morning runs will feel pretty sluggish, but today I made a mental note to at least start doing a few strides to wake up the body going forward. My body gradually began to respond as we finished the eight minutes, and we were all pleased to see we'd split sub-6 at the mile marker. During the rest, which was equal in length to the previous interval, we decided to pick up the pace slightly for the sixer and come through the mile around 5:50. Clearly we misjudged what that slight effort increase would feel like, because my watch read 5:37 as we passed the marker. It actually felt better to me than the slower paced 8-minute section, and I knew that my body was finally ready to get in gear and respond to the effort increase for the rest of the workout. We accomplished our goal, steadily inching down the pace, until the final minute interval felt like an all-out sprint. On the drive out here I'd thought this workout would be a cakewalk, but pushing as hard as we did made it a much more rigorous effort than I'd anticipated. That is precisely why I enjoy working out with people, because I know that by myself I certainly wouldn't have gone as hard.

The best part? With the mileage totaling 10, that meant there was no need to double in the evening. Instead Caitlin and I congratulated ourselves on our awesomeness and went to Yo-yo-yoforia instead.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Easy Tuesday

AM: 77 mins. (10.5 miles)

In what is turning into a Tuesday routine, I rose early-ish to put in a slow, relaxed LFPL by myself. Jordan and John are working out at PDS before Jordan heads to Cali for his Chrome sales meeting, and I can't double tonight because of class. Ten miles is a bit ambitious for a solo run, but once I zoned out and lost myself in thought the time passed quickly. On tap for tomorrow is another now-habitual early morning workout with Caitlin and the CRC crew.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Air We Drink

AM: 61 mins. (8.5 miles)
PM: 5 miles

Within the first few steps out the door this morning, I could tell this one wasn't going to be a record beater. Either I was going to commit to sub-60 from the outset or I wasn't, and today I most emphatically wasn't. Instead, Jordan and I kept the pace relaxed and conversational the entire time, trying to stay afloat in the sweltering humidity. I mean literally the air has so much moisture that you can almost swallow it. I find this utterly disgusting and yet another reason why I'm excited to head to a drier climate later this week.

The evening run was no less humid due to a Noah's Ark-style deluge that broke from the clouds earlier this afternoon. It rained hard enough to cause major flooding in many areas of town, the most predictable of which being McAlpine. Knowing all that in advance, it's unsurprising that when Jordan, Caitlin, John, Jay and I tried to run to Freedom Park via the low water crossing near the hospital, we found it to be completely under water. The only way we were going to get from point A to point B by way of that viaduct was in a canoe or kayak of some sort. Instead, we took the long way to the park entrance before John and I split off from the group to head back early. Also, I don't want to embarrass him in this public forum by detailing the manner in which he tripped and fell face-first and skidded across the grass right in front of his apartment, but, well, he tripped and fell face-first and skidded across the grass right in front of his apartment. It was awesome.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Week in Review

68 miles
5 AFDs
3 CRC runs
1 Medium Loop record

Solid week of running, solid week of spending time with friends. I'm excited to continue training with Caitlin and the CRC crew, and I plan on getting in one workout with them next week. After that, I'm headed to San Diego! I cannot WAIT to spend some time soaking up the California sun (sans humidity, by the way) and relaxing with friends. We'll probably throw in a few runs for good measure as well. With all that to look forward to, Thursday can't come soon enough.

Sunday With Friends

AM: 75 mins. (10.5 miles)
PM: 15 mins. core

Normally I prefer to do my Sunday long runs at McAlpine, since I figure my body needs all the soft surface exposure it can get. However, if my options are to run with people at the Dowd vs. run by myself at the trail, I'll choose the company every time. Plus, I didn't plan to run more than 70 or 80 minutes today, so that further enabled my decision to run with the CRC peeps. Jordan and I rolled up to the Dowd at 7:30 to discover quite a crowd, which is always cool to see. We set off in the direction of the Thunder Road course en masse, more or less taking over the quiet uptown streets.

The pace started off very pedestrian, which was perfectly fine with me after yesterday's uptempo effort and last night's wine consumption. The air was surprisingly cool and breezy, and the miles passed easily as I kept a steady conversation with Caitlin, Paul, Billy, Jordan, Alice, Aaron and a few others. All was right with the world until midway through the run when I needed to find a bathroom. Fortunately Caitlin was also desperate for a drink of water, so we made the executive decision to peel off from the rest of the group and duck into the Starbucks on Tryon. A few minutes later we were back on the streets and in hot pursuit of our group. I didn't know their route but Caitlin did, so we kept trying to catch them with a combination of shortcuts and pace pickups. After a few 6:30 miles and no sighting of our main group, we opted to dial the pace down and do our own thing for the rest of the run. It was during those last few miles that we both realized we were quite hungry, so we started planning the perfect end to a slightly imperfect (although enjoyable) run: brunch! While Jordan finished up his mileage, I accompanied the fastest roommates in Charlotte to Trader Joe's to stock up on the key ingredients for flapjacks and eggs. If we keep chowing down like this post-run, our superlatives might change from "fastest" to "fattest." The worst part is, I think it might be worth it.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

CRC Tempo Run

AM: 3+ mile w/u
Target: 30 min. tempo starting @6:15-20, then faster
Actual: 5.05 miles (6:12, 5:56, 5:47, 5:50, 5:44, :17)
2+ mile c/d
Total: 10.5 miles

I feel like a broken record saying this, but boy was it humid out there today. Ugh. On a more positive note, the other part of this run that is becoming a regular occurrence is the sheer quantity (and, fortunately, quality) of people who came out to partake. Our workout posse seems to increase in numbers by the day; if we keep up this growth rate, our late summer tempo runs could like more like cross-country meets!

As far as the actual workout itself, I'm not going to lie: it was pretty tough. Caitlin and I had planned to start around 6:15-20 and then drop down to sub-6 by the end, but after warming up we realized the stifling humidity would play a major factor in how things turned out. At that point there was not much to do but cross our fingers and hope for the best. We started the tempo portion at the start of the Footlocker course, with the plan being to turn left at the 1/2 mile mark and follow the paved greenway to its terminus on Independence. From there we would flip a U and enjoy a slight downhill back to the Footlocker course, then turn left and continue to follow the course (minus the hill) until we reached the 30-minute mark.

From the outset our group fell naturally into position: Caitlin and myself up front, flanked by Aaron, with John and Paul tucked in behind us (and, much to my chagrin, chatting away like 8th grade girls the entire time), then Billy, Mike Beigay and a few others bringing up the rear. John and Paul, who are much speedier than us, were just along for the company and to provide motivation when necessary; Aaron, nursing an ailing calf, was also there to provide assistance. The rest of the boys would be pushing pretty hard to keep up. All in all, it pretty much felt like Caitlin and I were (running) celebrities and they were our entourage. I could get used to this.

The turnaround on the bike path came quickly enough, and immediately the downhill slant was palpable. Because of this, the third mile would be the most comfortable for me of the entire run. I was thirsty but not too parched, and the overcast skies meant that the temperature was manageable despite the fact that we were all literally soaked with sweat. I knew things would start to get tough once we hit the loose dirt of the Footlocker course, and I wasn't disappointed. With 1.5 to go I was tucked in beside John and Paul, with Aaron and Caitlin in hot pursuit. The contrast between the pavement and dirt was striking, and I couldn't help but wishing that we'd been able to finish up on the harder surface. The trail is much more forgiving for the body, but it doesn't do any favors when you're already hurting to hit a respectable pace. The final five minutes seemed to crawl by in slow motion, but fortunately we were all able to hang on and finish up with our fastest mile yet. (Actually, on that note, I never took splits on my watch because I rarely heard anyone's Garmin beep. I did see/hear that we hit three miles in 17:53 but that's it. The splits I list up top are an amalgamation of what I was later told from Caitlin, John and Paul.)

All things considered, I was pretty pleased with how this went. Excluding race scenarios, I haven't done a tempo run in several months. The last time I did a tempo at McAlpine I averaged slightly faster than the pace I hit today, only for six miles instead of five. This was just a few weeks after I'd run 34:37 at Stanford so obviously I was pretty fit. That workout was also done in the afternoon and in much more pleasant weather conditions. The week before, which was only one week after Stanford, I averaged the same pace for what was supposed to be a five miler, only I dropped out at four because of the pollen and the humidity. So while I don't think I'm quite where I was then, it's encouraging to know that I'm not far off despite the lack of hard-core training over the past month. Also, I can't stress enough how much it helps to have Caitlin and the CRC boys to work out with. The overwhelming positivity and level of encouragement from other runners makes even the hardest workouts seem a little bit more bearable. If we can just survive the next few months, we're all going to be in pretty badass shape come autumn.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Early Medium Loop

AM: 8.5 miles

Jordan and I woke up pretty early to put in an easy medium loop before a day's work. Before bed last night I'd made tentative plans with Caitlin to meet up on the bike path in Freedom Park, but for whatever reason that encounter never took place. Either way it kept me committed to getting out the door when I said I was going to, so as far as I'm concerned she held up her end of the bargain!

In the evening I had fleeting thoughts of doubling but quickly displaced them with a two hour nap. That might hinder my standard 10pm bedtime, but it sure felt nice. Big tempo with the CRC crew in the morning.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


PM: 6 miles
15 mins. core

All I remember about this run is that Jordan and I went through Freedom Park and it was really hot. Since that same sentiment could apply to about 98% of our summer runs, the rest of the details remain hazy and indistinct as I'm typing this three days later.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

(Another) Way Too Early Morning Workout

AM: 3+ mile w/u
Target: 6x1200m w/3 min. rest
Actual: 4:18 (2:56 through 800m); 4:04 (2:44), 3:57 (2:39), 4:00 (2:42), 3:59 (2:43), 3:59 (2:43)
2+ mile c/d
Total: 10.5-11 miles

For the second time in less than a week, we had a stellar turnout for this 6am workout. Basically it was the usual suspects from last time (myself, Caitlin, Spada, Thomas and Justin), plus a few newbies (Billy and Pezz) plus Jordan and Paul, who were apparently just along for the warmup and some easy miles. The most notable of these additions was Pezz, who would probably contend that 6pm is too early to work out, much less 6am. I had doubts that she was coming until I received a text from her at 5:45 that simply said, "I hate you."

After an easy extended warmup, a bathroom break and some last minute preparations, we were ready. Caitlin had already planned for us to run the intervals on the first 1200m of the last mile of the Footlocker course, then jog back to the starting point during our rest segments. As everyone except a delusional few are willing to admit (I'm talking to you, Jay Holder), the last mile of the Footlocker course is slightly off. Specifically, it's a few meters short from the 800m to 1200m mark, i.e. the final 400 meters of our workout distance today. We all realized this meant the times would be a little bit fast, but since the terrain includes a hill and since the workout is focused on effort and since it's the ass crack of dawn we decided not to worry too much about it.

Just before setting off on interval #1, I told Caitlin and Pezz it would be smart to ease into things. I was thinking this meant 2:50ish through the 800. Instead, we apparently fell asleep while on our feet and jogged through the marker just a few ticks shy of 3 minutes. Oops. Well, we certainly accomplished our goal of taking the first one easy. The combination of the legs waking up and me panicking slightly at the lackadaisical pace meant we kicked things into gear on #2, and from there on out the pace and effort increased noticeably. Pezz was unquestionably the all-star out there this morning, as she took off at the beginning of #3 and never looked back. I spent the last half of the workout just trying to stay close to her, which proved to be a much more motivating challenge than simply tracking the splits on a watch. Everyone was working hard and encouraging each other between intervals, which kept spirits high even when fatigue was mounting. Like I said last time, this workout was about best case scenario for 6am. If all goes to plan, we will be replicating this atmosphere with a 30-minute group tempo on Saturday morning.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Unintended Double

AM: 10.5 miles
PM: 3 miles

Normally, when I don't skip class and/or request my professor to meet me early so I can attend a track meet duel, doubling on Tuesday is not an option. As such, Jordan and I parted ways after one Freedom Park loop this morning, he to run home and me to continue onward for a Long Freedom Park Loop. I've only done this loop once or twice and never solo, but this morning the time passed surprisingly quickly. I vowed to be super conservative after our uptempo run yesterday morning, even going so far as running in the grassy median on the Booty Loop (a practice I despise) to keep the pace in check.

My plans for the evening changed mid-afternoon when I received an email from my professor that class was canceled. I still wasn't sold on the idea of doubling, but Jordan had a track workout on tap for the evening and I knew I'd feel pretty lazy if I stayed planted on the couch at home while he ran. Instead I accompanied him to AG, where I had a chance meeting with both Emily Barrett (the new social chair for CRC) and Dr. Greenapple. Chatting with them and calling out Jordan's splits kept me from being too bored and also prevented me from being tempted to run farther. I've got an early AM workout with Caitlin and the gang, and I need the leggies to be as fresh as possible 12 hours from now.

Oh, and apparently Tuesday is $1 taco night at Qdoba. You know, if you're into that sort of thing.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Speedy Medium Loop

AM: 60 mins.
8.6 miles

Okay so I know this is a handful of minutes slower than Jordan normally runs this loop solo, but I was still pretty pleased with the effort out there this morning. Especially since we hadn't hit the ground with the intention of pushing the pace. Had I known we were so close to cracking the monumental 60-minute barrier, I wouldn't have allowed Jordan to dilly-dally around to an 8+ first mile like he always does. Next time it's on.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Week in Review

61 miles
12.5 laps at the MPHS track
.2 seconds away from victory
4 AFDs

Oops. So yeah, when I added up the weekly mileage in my head on Sunday morning, I was convinced I'd only reached 55. That's about where I expected and wanted to be. 61, while only a few miles more, is still probably a bit much for my final "down" week. Oh well, I'm feeling good (blistered feet and bruised ego notwithstanding) and I'm enjoying the time on my feet. As far as I'm concerned, that means I should keep doing what I'm doing.

4th of July Shenanigans

AM: 80 mins. (11 miles)
15 mins. core

To start the holiday off right, Jordan and I slept in to the delicious hour of 9am. I'm sure it's just what our hard-working and industrious founding fathers would've liked to see. Fortunately we made up for our laziness by strapping on the boots and heading to Boyce for a hot and sunny romp through McAlpine. After a few weeks of down time my head is full of all sorts of grandiose plans for the fall and winter racing seasons, and our animated conversation meant the miles fell away quickly.

We spent the rest of the day as any red-blooded American should: lounging by the pool, eating meat products and ingesting plenty of domestic beers. (That last part was mostly Jordan.) Neither of us have to work tomorrow, and we were content to spend the evening relaxing with friends and watching the fireworks reflecting off the waters of Lake Norman. Nice work, America.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Solo Medium Loop

AM: 8.5 miles

Sometimes working on Saturday ruins everything. Instead of enjoying a fun group long run followed by a post-workout brunch at Zada Jane's, I was stuck selling shoes to the likes of Allen Strickland all day. Them's the breaks sometimes. I dragged myself out of bed and headed out for a solo medium loop, which was surprisingly enjoyable despite the early hour. There's certainly something to be said for these cooler temperatures.

In the end, work wasn't too bad. We watched the World Cup and Wimbledon, then closed early so everyone could get a jump on their holiday plans. A cookout and an evening on the deck with friends was the perfect way to cap off this Saturday.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Running With the Boys

AM: 5+ miles
PM: 5.5-6 miles

Jordan and I both felt less than stellar on our short morning loop, but fortunately the evening jaunt was much better. It also helps that the temps have cooled down drastically in the past few hours and the humidity is virtually nonexistent. It's almost unfathomably nice for early July, although I can't help being a bit peeved that the front didn't roll in prior to that horrendous 5k on Tuesday. Oh well.

We also had my (former) teammate Mike Crouch along for the evening run. He's staying with us for a few days before traveling to Atlanta to run the Peachtree 10k (which he is doing as a workout), then heading to Florida to compete in the NACAC Under-23 track meet. It's a big honor to be chosen for the team and I know he's excited to wear a USA jersey for the first time. In the meantime he is gracious enough to run with us slowpokes and not push the pace too much.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Way Too Early Morning Workout

AM: 2+ mile w/u
13x1 min on; 1:15 off
2+ mile c/d
Total: 8-8.5 miles

Wow, was this early. I woke up at 5:00 on the dot and struggled to pull myself together before leaving for McAlpine just before 5:30. I would be meeting Thomas Eggar and Stephen Spada at the Old Bell entrance and running with them to meet Caitlin and Justin Breland, who had parked at the main entrance. The sky was still dark as we parked our cars and silently started off down the trail. My legs didn't feel too banged up from the 5k I'd raced a mere 36 hours prior, but I also had doubts about how fast I could actually run at an hour when I'm rarely awake.

Fortunately for me, the workout started at a very manageable clip. The first few minute intervals served as a gradual prelude of what was to come, as we began increasingly the pace and intensity incrementally with each one. This type of workout goes by very quickly and with little thinking; Caitlin plugged in the pre-determined time intervals into her Garmin and we just waited for the series of beeps to signal the beginning and end of each segment. Casual conversation in the rest periods also helped pass the time, although by the time we approached five to go I was struggling to breathe and decided to keep my witty banter to myself. I'm sure everyone else was disappointed.

The final few hard segments were a struggle, but for the most part I was pleasantly surprised with how this went. Honestly it was about as good as could be expected for 6am in trainers less than two days after a track race, so I'll take it. Plus, the knowledge that I would soon be home and back in my bed (I had the day off, thank goodness) served as motivation. But the best part was simply having everyone there working together and encouraging each other. While at Queens I rarely worked out with a group this size, but the one time I did it was one of the most positive workout experiences ever. Hopefully I'll have more chances to put in some miles with the CRC crew in the near future.

Oh and p.s., upon arriving home and checking her Garmin Caitlin realized that we only did 13x1 min. instead of the 14x1 min. that her schedule dictated. During the workout we were all convinced we'd made it to 14. I guess counting isn't anyone's strong suit at the crack of dawn.