Sunday, August 29, 2010

Week in Review

59-60 miles
1 day off
1 gimp foot
5 AFDs

I'll spare you another emotional rant when summarizing this week, but I think you all get the point. Tomorrow I'll pay Dr. Greenapple a visit in hopes of getting this thing diagnosed, which is the first step on the road to recovery. Regardless of what he says, I'm pretty sure I have a few weeks of runners' delight, aka pool jogging, in my very near future. Sweet.

Silver Lining

Day Off

Have you ever seen the video of the world's largest man dancing? The man who remains confined to his bed for all hours of the day, whose only exercise is when someone turns on the radio and he is able to slowly wiggle his upper body around? I bring this up not to belittle him, nor to make any direct comparisons between my situation and his, but at the same time I can honestly say that I've gotten a glimpse of what he must feel like (minus about 1000 pounds) in the past 24 hours. During that time I have been largely confined to my bed--we recently got rid of our couch and only have floor cushions in the living room, although Jordan did inflate our new deluxe air mattress (with headboard) so that I could watch tv in the living room--and have been rendered more or less immobile. Standing hurts. Walking hurts. Putting any weight whatsoever on the ball of my foot hurts.

Yesterday afternoon, growing weary of my situation, I decided it would be a nice diversion to head down to the pool for an hour or so. The pool in our complex is located roughly 100 yards from our building, and I figured it wouldn't be too much of an ordeal to hobble down there. Midway through what felt like a five-minute descent down our staircase (we live on the second floor), I encountered an older woman who lives on the floor below us. She has mobility problems and usually gets around with the aid of a walker, today being no exception. Naturally she noticed my unusual condition and asked what was wrong. Not wanting to get into all the details, I replied merely that I'd hurt my foot. With a look of genuine concern, she wished me well and then asked if I would like to borrow her extra walker.

Is it sad that by the time I'd dragged myself down to the pool a full five minutes later, I almost wanted to take her up on it?

Needless to say, the pool excursion was the extent of my activity for the day.

I continued my pity party on Sunday morning when Jordan rose early to join Caitlin and co. for her badass marathon simulation run. They absolutely rocked it and of course I was beyond jealous. Isn't that the irony? We runners spend so much time complaining about and dreading long runs and workouts, always yearning for a few more minutes under the covers or a Saturday night that doesn't involve a 9pm bedtime. Then as soon as we are granted--or forced--these very luxuries, we instantly want things to go back to the way they were before. Such was certainly the case today.

Fortunately, I have some great friends. Friends who forced me out of my funk by, well, invading my house. (To be fair, Jordan invited them.) I got a call from my dear boyfriend just as the long run had concluded, telling me that Caitlin, Billy and John were coming over for breakfast and asking that I clean the place up a bit. I surveyed the condition of the apartment, took mental note of my own condition (still in bed, still unable to walk) and asked him how much time I had. "Twenty minutes," he said in a tone that suggested it was a perfectly generous window. Thus I stepped down onto my good foot and commenced frantically trying to make things presentable.

And so, despite my precious mental and emotional state, the day ended up being a lot of fun. We had breakfast, we went to the pool, we went to dinner and some old-fashioned porch sitting at Denise's new place. Tyler even gifted me with his state-of-the-art walking boot, a souvenir from his own recent stress fracture. To say that all was right with the world today would be a bit of a stretch, but I certainly came away with a renewed appreciation for my friends. If I can't spend my time running, at least I'm able to spend it surrounded by people who love me even though I'm a gimp.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Greek Fest 5k and Other Misadventures

AM: 3 mile w/u + strides
Target: 5k race @17:00 or faster
Actual: 17:04 (5:16, 5:37, 5:30)
Total: 6+ miles

The morning started as most race mornings do, with an early wakeup, a cup of coffee and some last-minute preparations. Jordan and I headed over to the Greek Orthodox Church around 6:30 with plenty of time to score a good parking spot, snag our race chips and wait around for our friends to arrive. I warmed up nice and easy with Paul, Billy, Brian and a few others and was r
elieved to note that my foot didn't hurt at all. Though it's been getting better the entire week, this was the first day when I can honestly say it felt completely normal from step one. In hindsight, that makes what transpired late in the race even more perplexing.

Back to the race start, just before 7:30 we were all lined up and ready to go. I was situated on the far left side of the median next to middle school phenom Alana Hadley and not far from a large group of CRCers. I knew that my main competition in the race would be none other than my good friend Pezz, who rarely races in Charlotte but is fresh off a 16:51 on the roads a few weeks prior. I also knew she planned to go out pretty fast, between 5:10 and 5:15, and since I doubted I could handle that pace I decided to wait and see if she would come back later in the race.

Early in the race, flanked by Cory (26) and Chad (white CRC jersey)

Sure enough, from the gun she shot out in front. For that matter, so did everyone else. The first mile is flat with some gradual downhills, so the terrain combined with the typical early race adrenaline meant that the pace was hot from the gun. I wasn't feeling all that great, but since Pezz was already a good distance ahead I figured that I must be running fairly conservatively. I was wrong. I passed through the first mile marker with the clock reading 5:16, a pace faster than I typically went out on the track this spring. Oops. Simultaneously my thoughts alternated between panic (at how quick the pace was moving), dread (at how badly it was going to hurt when I died later in the race) and wonderment (at how fast Pezz must've split the first mile--I found out later it was an eye-popping 5:02). Sure enough, a few paces later I spotted my trusty cheerleader Caitlin, who quietly informed me that Pezz had gone out too fast. (I know that she said that in hopes of encouraging me, but I also know that two seconds later she turned to our friend AJ and told him that I had also gone out too fast. Both of these were true statements.)

Predictably, I slowly started to implode during the next mile. This section contains the only moderate uphill of the entire race, and my legs were growing heavier by the second. I knew I was running much slower, but I was pretty surprised and discouraged to split 5:37 at the marker. (Side note: post-race several people mentioned that their Garmins were off from the race clock by as much as 6 seconds during the first mile, meaning that the first two splits on the course might have been incorrect. On the one hand I'm inclined to believe this because 5:37 is awfully slow, but on the other hand that means that I would've had to split the first mile closer to 5:10, which is even more improbable. Who knows.)

Running with my trusty companion Caitlin late in the race

Fortunately for me, this was the exact moment when Caitlin jumped in to help keep me company through the final mile. I'd told her before the race that I wanted to finish in the low 5:20s, but it was simply not to be. The last mile was utterly torturous, and I felt frustrated and embarrassed that Caitlin was having to drag me along at a clip that would not even break 5:30. I tried to refocus, but the first reckless mile had already sealed my fate. I was counting the seconds until our final turn back onto East Blvd., but at that point there were still 600 seemingly endless meters left until the finish. Caitlin was practically ordering me to pick up the pace but I just couldn't do it. I knew that sub-17 was tantalizingly close, but I just didn't think I could push any harder than I already was. Caitlin pulled off at the three-mile marker entreating me to pass Spada--yes, Spada was having his best race of the season and had passed me a mile or so earlier in the race, though he was coming back to me now--and I resolved to put my head down and fight the final remaining meters to the finish.

And then, inexplicably, it happened. Simply put, somewhere in those last 50 meters I felt something pop in my foot. I don't know any other way to describe it other than it felt like a pop. In that exact moment I felt no pain--too much adrenaline surging, not to mention I think my quota of pain was already maxed out in other areas of my body--but I knew instantly that the situation was not good. That is the last part of the race I remember. One second I was catching Spada, and after that I don't remember anything until 15 minutes later when I was stretched out on the table at Dr. Greenapple's tent. I'm not trying to be dramatic, nor am I claiming that I blacked out or anything like that, but I am saying that as soon as my foot popped I lost all interest in the race. I didn't even know if I had passed Spada or if I'd broken 17 minutes, though I learned later that I'd failed on both counts. All I knew was that I had seen the upcoming weeks and months of training and racing slip away in the span of a single step. I was devastated.

To wallow in my own self-pity, however, is to neglect acknowledging all the standout performances in today's race. Jordan won, though not quite in the time he was looking for. Paul, Billy, Chad, Danielle, Alice, Ben, Stan, my new friend Dean and many others ran season bests. And Pezz, with the performance of the day, notched an incredible 16:35, just as fast as she's run on the track this entire year. It looks like the Greek Fest course is worth every bit of the hype bestowed upon it. Though it may not have ended up being the best experience for me, I can guarantee that I will crack the 17-minute barrier (and, hopefully, not crack my foot) this time next year.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Quick Update

Friday, 8/27
AM: 8.5 miles
PM: 15 mins. + strides (2 miles)

Thursday, 8/26
AM: 89 mins. (12 miles)
15 mins. pool jog
15 mins. core/stretching

This post is just a quick catch up before I delve into the weekend's drama. And by "drama," I, of course, mean injury. I mean, come on? Do you know me at all? If so then you realize it's virtually impossible for me to go an entire year without getting injured. In frustratingly predictable fashion, 2010 is turning out to be no exception.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. On these easy and relaxed Thursday and Friday runs I still had no idea what the next sequence of events would portend. Stay tuned for all the sordid details.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Worst Idea Ever

AM: 3 mile w/u
Target: 2xmile @5:20; 2x400 @faster
Actual: 5:21, 1200 @4:00; 800 @2:38; 2x400 @73, 72
2.5 mile c/d
Total: 9-9.5 miles

Initially my schedule had dictated mile repeats for today, but since I want to be somewhat rested for Greek Fest I decided to craft a pre-race workout instead. A nice, easy, confidence-boosting pre-race workout. I'd entertained the idea of meeting Pezz, who was running a similar workout, at McAlpine in the morning, but opted instead to jog from home over to the AG track. Since I irritated my foot doing some harder running at McAlpine on Sunday, avoiding the loose gravel seemed prudent. I hadn't set foot on a track since my failed duel with Tim at the Myers Park All-Comers meet two months ago, but for some (naive) reason I didn't think the layoff would be too big of a deal.

I was wrong.

From the first lap I felt awkward and uncoordinated. Oh, and winded and hopelessly out of shape. I didn't expect 5:20 pace to feel like a jog, but I certainly didn't plan to be seriously laboring halfway through the first mile. It was so bad that I realized immediately I would have to adjust the workout on the fly and focus on maintaining the same pace for shorter intervals. Even still, I wasn't able to relax and certainly never felt comfortable, despite taking full recovery (a lap jog plus some stand-around time) between each. If there was anything positive to take from the workout--and believe me, I'm reaching here--it's that I was able to negative split every interval. Otherwise I felt hopelessly locked in to 80+ pace from start to finish.

Needless to say, this was a rude awakening for CVS. Recent workouts have proven I'm fit for longer distances, but if I want to avoid embarrassment at the 5k champs in a few weeks I need to get my rear in gear.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Jogger Wars, Part Deux

Tuesday, 8/24
AM: 11 miles

Monday, 8/23
AM: 10 miles
PM: Greenapple

Both of these runs were solo jaunts along the familiar Freedom Park/Myers Park/Booty Loop roads. Tuesday I did venture out on a bit of an exploratory route that found me taking the newly completed bike path all the way past Super Target, then heading back toward Queens on some pleasantly shaded side streets. I also ran into Coach Simmons trotting up the median on Queens Road so we jogged along together for a few minutes and caught up on life, running and his search for an assistant coach to fill Jenna's shoes.

The only other thing of note is the jogger war I was forced into on Monday. I've mentioned this before, but apparently I haven't been clear enough to some people (i.e., the toolbag who wouldn't leave me alone on Monday): Stop. Following. Me. More specifically, either run at an appropriate distance behind me or man up and pass. Either of these courses of action would be completely acceptable. What is not acceptable is when you speed up in an attempt to catch me, then sit on my shoulder for three miles of what was supposed to be my easy, relaxing recovery run. Despite what you might think, the sounds of your labored breathing and heavy footfalls are not exactly music to my ears. By the time I reached the intersection of Providence and Providence I'd had enough. I knew I could either come to an abrupt stop so he would be forced to pass or throw in a surge to shake him off my shoulder. In weighing those two options I thought not about what would give me more satisfaction, but rather what would shame him the most. Naturally, I opted for the surge. For a few seconds I heard him scrambling behind me in an attempt to respond and then he faded into oblivion. Serves him right.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Week in Review

60 miles
3 workouts
1 day off
700 kids at McAlpine
1 visit to Dr. Greenapple

As I said in Sunday's entry, this week represented both an increase and a decrease; a decrease in the number of miles run, but an increase in the pace and quality of those miles. As I gain strength and fitness I would like to see an increase in both. For now, however, I need to work on sufficiently rehabbing this foot and making sure nothing else crops up. I certainly owe a big shout-out to the folks at Greenapple Sports & Wellness for everything they've done over the past week--heck, over the past year--to keep me up and running. They're always able to work me in even at a moment's notice and I consistently leave feeling better than when I arrived.

Looking ahead to next week, I've got the Greek Fest 5k on tap for Saturday. Though I've never run the race before, it is widely known as the fastest and flattest 5k in Charlotte. With a little help from the terrain, the impending cooler weather and the added push from special race participant Pezz, I'm hoping to turn out a respectable time. After that, it's time to shift my focus to the US 5k Champs in Providence!

Tired Long Run

AM: 12 miles incl. 3 uptempo (~6 min. pace)

I'm beginning to think it's physically impossible for me to have a good Sunday long run. There was no reason why today shouldn't have gone well; I'd arranged to have Caitlin with me on the easy miles and Jordan and Nick to pull me along through the uptempo section. In between there were plenty of familiar faces dotting the trails to keep things interesting. Yet despite all this, I ended up feeling like crap and cutting the scheduled 14-miler a few miles short.

In part, this was due to my foot. After experiencing a near perfect recovery, owed in part to a forced day off and in larger part to a clutch visit to Greenapple Sports & Wellness, I expected smooth sailing today. All went according to plan until I twice--not once, but twice--managed to step on a rock on what felt like the precise place where my foot had been hurting. And just like that, it was inflamed and irritated enough to make me conscious of it (and, consequently, annoyed by it) for the rest of the run.

The second reason I cut the run short is because, simply put, my body was just tired. I'd naively assumed that I'd be raring to go after yesterday's day off, but I conveniently forgot to take into account the fact that I'd still been working on my feet for a solid 12 hours. And, despite the fact that my overall mileage will be lower for the week--close to 60 as opposed to last week's 80--today's "uptempo" run would be the third workout I've attempted to cram in to the last six days.

That said, I'm not one for excuses. Running six-minute pace today was a struggle, despite the fact that in recent workouts I've run faster than that pace for twice the distance and not felt exhausted at the end. To put in as much effort as I was to run as slowly as I did today was discouraging, so after the less than stellar section with Jordan and Nick I just decided to call it a day. Maybe I should've pushed through, but I just didn't feel like it. What I did feel like was taking a nap. On the ground. In the Boyce parking lot. So, for the second Sunday in a row, this tired puppy did just that while waiting for Jordan to finish his run. Oh, and I also took a three hour nap at home later.

Thankfully, mercifully, tomorrow marks the beginning of a fresh week.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Kickin' Grass XC Challenge

Day Off

Every once in a while a forced day off is just what you need. This was certainly true for me today. Logistically it would've been virtually impossible for me to run, and I'm pretty sure my foot thanked me for it.

The morning started when my alarm went off at 5 on the dot. Begrudgingly I acknowledged that hitting snooze was not an option. I needed to be at the main entrance of McAlpine in just over an hour to begin setting up for what I hoped would be the greatest cross-country event of all time. (By that, I mean that my goals were: no broken bones, no drownings in the pond, no food poisoning from the hot dogs, etc.)

Simply put, from the moment I arrived until we broke down at noon, I was running around like crazy. So while I technically didn't "run" today, I'd be willing to bet I got in at least a mile. There was the time I had to run back to my car for a camera, and the other time I had to run up to the park offices on a quest for Band-Aids, and that one time I had to run after a coach to get his signature on something. Hosting almost 700 runners, their coaches and their parents is no easy task, and today my appreciation for race directors everywhere increased tenfold. The amount of work that goes on behind the scenes is immense, and rarely do any of the participants realize that unless something goes wrong. Fortunately everything went smoothly today and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, which makes this a resounding win in my book.

Though I wish I could say my work day was over when the last team left McAlpine, in reality it was just beginning. The next six hours consisted of unloading the truck back at the store, working the floor for a few hours and unpacking box after box of product. I needed a shower worse than if I'd just finished a marathon, but unfortunately for everyone I encountered that afternoon I wasn't able to indulge in one until I arrived home around 5:30. Could I have gone running then? Perhaps. Did I contemplate the idea for even one second? No way. All I wanted was a glass of wine or four and a relaxing evening with friends, which is just what the evening had in store. The first annual Kickin' Grass XC Challenge was successfully in the books.

Friday, August 20, 2010


AM: 74 mins. (10 miles)

Let me preface this entry by saying I am not opposed to getting up early. As the past few months have indicated, rising before the sun and hitting the pavement by 6am is becoming routine. So when Jordan said he planned to get up and meet Paul et al. at the Providence Day track for an early workout, I thought it sounded like a great opportunity for me to join them and then head down to the trail.

Then Jordan set his alarm. For 4am. And just like that, I was out.

Instead, I slept until the indulgent hour of 7am and ran 10 miles solo around Myers Park. After that I headed to work for 10 hours to prepare for tomorrow's first annual Kickin' Grass Cross Country Challenge and Cookout Classic. That's right, RFYL is putting on a pre-season xc meet and I'm in charge. Pretty scary, on several fronts. It looks like we have 18 teams who will to bring a total of 700 kids, to whom we plan to feed hot dogs and sell spikes and otherwise entertain. At this point it is equally likely to be awesome or disastrous, so keep your fingers crossed for me!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Keeping Up With the Boys

AM: 61 mins. (8.6 miles)

This morning I knew I was in need of a nice, easy recovery run. So when Jordan and I jogged over to Freedom Park so he could meet Nick, I opted to continue running along the bike path instead of hanging out and waiting for Nick by the lake. This way, I reasoned, I could continue along at my pedestrian pace and not worry about trying to keep up with the two speedsters.

That line of reasoning worked out great for the next mile or so as I exited the park and turned right to head up Queens on the Booty Loop. Before long, however, I heard the sound of footfalls and familiar voices behind me and I knew that the boys were gaining ground. To keep things interesting, I decided to try to stave them off for as long as I could. This meant picking up the pace a bit and throwing in a few surges as they drew closer. They caught me in front of the university about a mile later, but instead of just letting them go I stubbornly held on for the duration of the Booty Loop. Fortunately they decided to do another loop and I had to return home and get ready for work, so once we parted ways at the park I resumed my previous turtle-like pace for the rest of the run.

At least the shenanigans made a familiar route a bit more interesting.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Another Workout? Why Not.

AM: 3 mile w/u
Target: Caitlin's workout of 10 mins., 8, 6, 4, 2, 1 w/half rest
Actual: 10 (5:54 through mile); 8 (5:49); 6 (5:33)
2+ mile c/d
Total: 10 miles

"Wait a minute," you're telling yourself. "Didn't she just work out yesterday?" Why yes, loyal readers, yes I did. But I couldn't very well leave Caitlin and Pezz to their lonesome for this morning's pre-dawn interval session at McAlpine, now could I? So Jordan and I woke up at 5ish and were soon watching Felix's (his Jetta's) headlights illuminate our path toward Old Bell. My legs, quads in particular, were feeling heavy as bricks after yesterday's hill session, and any sort of quick movement sent waves of soreness throughout my lower body. To say I wasn't in prime workout condition would be an understatement.

However, maybe that's my new training strategy. Though I've never really practiced this philosophy before, there is something to be said for working out on back-to-back days and conditioning the body to push through on tired legs. I could see this being particularly beneficial for marathon training, for obvious reasons. So while I'm not saying I'll be making plans to do this every week, I can certainly see the potential benefits.

After a few miles of warming up and grabbing some water it was time to get down to business. As he always does, Jordan gamely joined us ladies as both a pacesetter and bodyguard. We knew the 10-minute segment would feel the longest (probably because, you know, it actually was the longest) but we also hoped it would feel the most relaxed. Sure enough, we came through the mile marker at a pace that felt not much faster than jogging. It's good to know that sub-6 feels this easy on tired legs; I can only hope I'll be able to say the same when I race the 10-miler in October. After a lengthy rest, the eight-minute segment didn't feel much more difficult. It was the six-minuter that really put me over the top. As soon as we started I could feel myself crossing the threshold from comfortable to strained, and I knew that my post-workout legs were finally begging for mercy. Even when Caitlin offered to skip the four-minute segment I still declined to join them for the final few minutes. Instead I jogged around at a much more leisurely pace and tried to stretch out a bit. Simply put, I was toasted.

But, as I said before, that was kind of the point. Further, looking back at the last time we did a similar workout, you can see that our pace today was faster even though we didn't have the first 10-minute interval last time. So today we were running faster for longer periods of time. Considering that the weather was absolutely disgusting this morning--we all agreed it felt exceptionally humid, and that's really saying something given what we're used to--that's exactly the kind of progress we were looking for. Solid work by everyone involved.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Training Camp

AM: 3+ mile w/u
12x1 min. uphill, jog down
2.5-3 mile c/d
Total: 10 miles
10 mins. pool jog
15 mins. core/stretching

My schedule for this week called for 16x1 minute hard, which seemed fairly doable. It just so happened that Jordan and his new buddy, former professional triathlete Nick Frank, would be doing a similar workout today with one small catch: their "minutes" would be straight uphill. Warily I agreed to join, as it meant I would be afforded the opportunity to sleep in as late as I wanted on my day off and still make their 10am workout time.

As we warmed up down the bike path to meet Nick in the park, Jordan and I scoped out a few prospective inclines. We finally settled on Tranquil Rd., the only one we deemed both steep and long enough for our endeavor. I must admit I was a bit apprehensive. Sure, I do plenty of runs that incorporate hills, and none of my recent road races could be described as "flat." But short, steep, nearly all-out repeats straight up the asphalt? I haven't done a workout like that in as long as I can remember.

After a few strides and some last-minute strategizing we were ready to go. Nick, who is just getting back into fighting shape, would be running the first 30 seconds of each repeat with Jordan. I would be trailing behind trying not to completely embarrass myself. I'm accustomed to being one of the faster people in my workout group, so having my butt kicked up and down the road is somewhat of a foreign concept. It's good for me.

The workout itself was tough. Really tough. Basically my legs and lungs were burning from the very first interval and I knew the sensation would not abate for the duration of the workout. If there is an upside, it's that things didn't get much more difficult from there, but that's hardly any consolation when you're as far into the hurt tank as I was. Despite the rapid approach of the noon hour the overcast skies kept temperatures at bay, and for once the humidity didn't seem to be a distraction (maybe that was due to the aforementioned leg/lung burning). Though I doubt my pace increased throughout the workout, I did make a conscious effort to drive my arms and dorsiflex through my toe-off all the way to the top. I may not have been breaking any speed records, but dangit if I didn't look good trying.

After a very slow extended cooldown, Jordan and I returned home with the intention of following up with some recovery measures. We took our yoga mat and flotation belt to the pool and took turns stretching, pool jogging and doing core work. This was followed up with a hearty brunch of flapjacks and potatoes and a long, delightful nap. If it weren't for my lingering foot situation, I would've joined Jordan for a slow double run with Caitlin and Jay in the evening too. In many ways our day felt like that of a professional runner, something I could certainly get used to if I allowed myself. Instead I savored this rare respite from my otherwise busy week and made plans for more of the same on my next day off.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Starting Off on the Wrong Foot

AM: 9 miles

I. Felt. Horrible. Jordan and I did a standard medium loop plus a few quick detours this morning, but for whatever reason I just didn't have it. The humidity is high even by our standards, so I'm hoping that has something to do with it. Plus my foot isn't getting any better, which is starting to concern me a bit. Today it was a bit creaky for the first few miles but then loosened up just fine, but I'm certainly not seeing any progress. Time to go on an ice/ibuprofen binge for the next few days and see if that clears it up. Fingers crossed.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Week in Review

79 miles
1 double
4 AFDs
0 classes left

This week may have finished with a whimper courtesy of Sunday's sluggish long run, but overall I'd say I achieved a good balance of quality and quantity. Any time I can hit just about 80 miles with only double and two solid workouts I know things are on the right track. Though I'm not feeling particularly sharp, I am feeling quite strong and confident with the direction my training is heading. I'll need to add in a few quicker workouts in the coming weeks to prepare for the CVS 5k, but after that I'm shifting my focus to the longer distances for the rest of the year.

Oh yeah, and I finished my summer class this week. This means I am now officially a master of stuff. Sweet.


AM: 1 hour 40 mins. (14 miles)

This long run was disgusting. There's just no other way to describe it. The humidity and dew point were through the roof and I struggled mightily after the first half hour. I suppose it's true that misery loves company because Pezz and I seemed to be hurting in equal measure. Then again, the last time I had an abysmal long run was with her a few weeks ago so perhaps she's just a bad influence. Whatever the case, I shuffled on home up the final hill to the Boyce parking lot as though I'd just finished a marathon. Then I fell asleep on my towel on the ground while I was waiting for Jordan to finish. No, I'm not kidding. In case it weren't already scheduled, I'd say a proper nap is definitely on order for this afternoon.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Saturday, 8/14
AM: 1 hour 26 mins. (11.5-12 miles)

Friday, 8/13
AM: 63 mins. (8 miles)

Normally I wouldn't take the time to go to McAlpine two days in a row (and, in fact, after tomorrow's long run it will be three in a row), but I've had a bit of a niggle in my right foot the past few days and I want to keep confined to soft surfaces as much as possible. I don't think it's anything serious, either tendinitis or perhaps some irritation from slogging out Tuesday's 800s on the trail, but regardless I want to nip it in the bud. In any event, both of these runs were made enjoyable by the company; Friday it was Jenna and Patricia, a Queens runner, and Saturday it was Paul, Spada, Justin and Jason.

Speaking of Jenna, the time has come to pass al
ong her exciting/disappointing news: she has accepted a position as the assistant track and field coach at High Point University. It's exciting because she will be moving up to a D1 program and will have the opportunity for hands-on coaching with the women's team, but it's disappointing because she is one of my favorite peeps in Charlotte and I will miss our runs and chats and lounge sessions on the couch. Fortunately High Point is less than 90 minutes away so I hope that means we will still see each other frequently.

As a sendoff of sorts, Jenna joined about 75 of her closest running friends at the CRC social on Saturday night at Thomas Street Tavern. Fun times were had by all (maybe a little too much fun for some folks to handle) and it was great to see what people look like when they're not sweaty and swathed in spandex. (Unless that happened later in the night. I left pretty early.)

L to R: Alice, me, Caitlin, Jenna
Also, a special shout-out to Alice who joined the sub-18 club at this
morning's Rock 'n Run 5k!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Booty Loop Domination

AM: 3 mile w/u
Target: 3x2 miles w/3 mins. rest @faster than Caitlin's MP (6:19)
Actual: 12:07 (6:00, 6:07); 11:38 (5:50, 5:48); 11:24 (5:43, 5:41)
2.5 mile c/d
Total: 11.5-12 miles

This workout was very, very tough. It was also a lot of fun and quite possibly Caitlin's and my best workout of the entire summer. Have I mentioned before that she's in badass shape? She is absolutely destroying all her "marathon pace" workouts, and this one was no exception. Of course, it didn't hurt that we once again had a studly male entourage consisting of Mike, Justin, Lat and Billy. Most everyone seemed to be having an "on" day and we really fed off each other's energy. For more specific details, see Caitlin's detailed recap here.

Also, this workout mini-breakthrough could not have come at a better time, as today I found out I was accepted for the second ADP race I applied for, the US 5k Champs at the CVS Downtown 5k in Providence. I immediately went online to check flights and discovered nonstop tickets for $138! This is delightful news, especially considering that PVD is not the largest airport in the world, so I immediately booked a flight for myself and Jordan for race weekend (September 18-20). Now I have a real, tangible goal (read: to not embarrass myself) that's less than five weeks away! This should give me ample motivation to keep soldiering on through these final brutal weeks of summer.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Scientific Method

AM: 64 mins. (8.5 miles)
PM: 30 mins. (3.5 miles)

After yesterday's 800 session I was in the mood for a super slow medium loop today. Luckily Jenna, Caitlin, Danielle and our male bodyguard Jordan were happy to comply. In the evening I headed over to the Queens sports complex on Tyvola to help Coach Simmons out with a body temperature study he's doing. I don't want to reveal all his secrets, but basically he is exploring the cooling effects of a substance similar to dry ice, specifically when being held in hand. For my part I had to jog around the soccer turf for 30 minutes holding what looked like small hairspray cans and stopping every 10 minutes to have my temperature taken (in the ear, thankfully). The turf was so lush and pristine that I almost felt guilty wearing shoes, so after the first break I chucked them to the side and reveled in the feel of the soft surface on my bare feet for the remainder of the run.

I returned home to find Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, aka Jordan and his boss Paul, drinking beers and "working" in the living room. Paul is in town traveling with Jordan for a few days and we've really enjoyed his company. For his final night we walked over to Duckworth's for a few pints (them) and sweet potato fries (me). It was a great way to cap off the evening and Paul's visit to the Queen City.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Spinning Our Wheels

AM: 3 mile w/u + strides
Target: 8x800 w/2 mins. rest
Actual: 2:43, 2:43, 2:42, 2:42, 2:40, 2:41, 2:40, 2:39
2.5 mile c/d
Total: 9.5-10 miles

The only thing that makes me happier than working out with Caitlin is coming home from working out with Caitlin and discovering that she's already done a stellar job recapping the workout on her blog. Though one could argue that it's cheating, this development means that I get to be lazy and defer to her description of today's efforts. The one thing I will say, which she touched on briefly, is how much more difficult this felt versus doing a similar workout on the roads a few weeks ago. Today I felt like we were pushing just as hard but only managing 3-5 seconds slower per interval than we were that day. I guess that's the tradeoff for affording the body some time on soft surfaces, and to be honest it's a tradeoff I'm willing to make on occasion to avoid (or postpone) getting injured.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Accidental Long Run

AM: 90 mins.
12 miles

Well, that got out of hand. What started out as an intended 9- or 10-mile loop gradually morphed into an outing just 10 minutes shy of yesterday's long run. It started when I ran into Jay en route to meeting Caitlin in Freedom Park, where we found that she had brought Matt and John along for the ride. Apparently we'd just missed Matt face planting on Morehead, which was unfortunate (that we missed it, not that he fell). So, as a larger-than-expected group, we embarked along the familiar loop of booty.

About 45 minutes into the run, instead of turning left to head back toward the park, Caitlin continued straight with her domestiques. Since I'd decided to run close to 10 miles I thought I should tag along for a little bit. However, I got a tad carried away and since these weren't my normal streets I wasn't aware of how far I'd gone. By the time I turned around, I was north of the Target shopping center. Considering I live south of Park Road shopping center, this presented a bit of a problem. Not a problem, really, just a boring 30-minute run back home. The upside is that any brief thoughts of doubling in the evening were tossed aside summarily and without guilt.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Week in Review

73 miles
2 loops of the Blue Points course
3 $5 footlongs (and I don't even like Subway)
4 AFDs

This week was one of the busiest in quite some time. Combine 70+ miles with a race with a project for class with planning an XC meet and tax-free shopping weekend at Run For Your Life and you've got a recipe for exhaustion. Luckily I managed to be moderately successful on all fronts, which is all I could hope for under the circumstances. As is becoming the norm, I enjoyed quite a few of my runs and workouts with friends this week, which always makes things more enjoyable. And with a new race goal--the US 10 Mile Championships--on the not-so-distant horizon, I've finally got a game plan in place for the next few months. To quote one of my favorite films, it's all happening.

CRC Long Run

AM: 1 hour 41 mins. (14 miles)

This morning's long run was very much a group effort, as most of the best ones are. With a 7:30 start time, Jordan, Jenna and I comprised the "late" group, but fortunately the "early" group was amenable to swinging by Boyce and picking us up. And what a group it was! Jay, Caitlin, Megan, Ben, Mike, Alana, Brian, Alana's dad (on the bike) and several more crested the hill to the parking lot seeming very chipper and cheery and much too energetic for halfway through their long run. This meant that it took me several miles to get in gear and feel comfortable with the relatively brisk pace, but once I did it was smooth sailing. It also didn't hurt that the weather was similar to yesterday morning, though sunnier, but overall much more manageable than on Sundays past. It was almost--dare I say it--pleasant.

After several miles meandering through the back trails in Boyce (amazingly, these were trails I never knew existed until today), we popped out onto the main path and headed out for an easy loop of the Footlocker course. On the way back we inadvertently separated like a middle school dance, with boys headed one way and girls headed another, but only because the boys were finishing up at Old Bell and we girls wanted some more shade in the Boyce direction. For several miles it was just me, Jenna, Alana, Caitlin and Megan, and I found myself thinking about how impressive of a group this was. I mean, not to toot our collective horn, but among us you've got a 2:50 marathoner, a sub-2:40 marathoner and two-time OT qualifier, a 1:20 half marathoner (soon to be an OT qualifier herself!), a 16:30 5ker, and the second fastest 12-year-old 5k runner in US history behind Jordan Hasay. (Speaking of, there's a great article about Alana in this month's Running Times magazine, as well as this accompanying article on their web site. You should check them out. She's sort of a big deal.) If Pezz weren't out of town you could've thrown her 16:30 and 10:10 steeple credentials into the mix as well. Now I realize there are plenty of post-collegiate training groups with this kind of talent, but to have all of us living and training here as part of the non-sponsored, non-paying Charlotte Running Club is pretty cool.

But I digress. Like the last spoonful of peanut butter in the bottom of the jar, all good things must come to an end, and this group run was no exception. Before long I'd deposited Jenna at Boyce, dispatched Alana back toward Old Bell and said farewell to Megan and Caitlin at the main entrance. This left me with about four miles of solo running ahead, a prospect that I did not relish. Surprisingly, however, these ended up being some of the best miles of the entire run. My legs felt unusually fresh, almost as if I were just starting the run instead of finishing it, and when the parking lot came into view I was almost sorry to stop. Then Jordan returned and promises of flapjacks and eggs were made and all thoughts of running were tossed by the wayside.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Blue Points 5k

AM: 2 mile w/u + strides
5k race @17:23 (5:23, 5:37, 5:49, :33)
~10 min. break
5k tempo @18:55
1 mile c/d
Total: 9 miles

You know it's been a brutal summer when you wake up on race morning and are absolutely elated to see that temperatures are in the 70s and humidity is in the 80s. Such was the case today, and I couldn't have been happier. I'd heard plenty of warnings about the difficulty of the course from Paul and Jay, so at the very least it was reassuring to have the weather on our side.

Jordan and I left home just past 6 and headed Uptown. We parked at the Dowd, about half a mile from the race start but much less crowded than the suggested parking deck (and it didn't cost five bucks). Thus, our pre-warmup warmup was a light walk/jog down the hill to the Panther stadium. Things were already hustling and bustling when we got there, and before long a familiar group had formed. I warmed up a few easy miles with Jay, Spada, Billy and a few others, checking out part of the course for the first time. Basically it was laid out like this: 1.25 miles straight downhill, turn right, .25 miles uphill, turn right again, 1 mile uphill on Morehead, crest the overpass beyond the Dowd Y, then .5 miles downhill with a slight right turn to the finish. Though I had no doubt the final mile would be taxing, I was confident the course would be doable.

The gun/whistle blew at 7:30 and we were off. I quickly settled in around some of my now-familiar racing counterparts like Cory, Spada and Chad. Chad has beaten me in every single heads up race this year, so today my goal was to stay tucked in behind him for as long as possible. I accomplished that goal easily in the first downhill mile, coming through a bit faster than usual in 5:23. I'd expected as much because of the sharp downhill grade and also realized that I'd (unfortunately) make that back up on the return trip, so I tried not to think much about the splits. In an episode of deja vu from the four miler, I felt Spada coming up beside me and then passing me just before the mile marker, which meant for the second time in as many races I would rely on him to pull me through the middle section of the race. The righthand turn up the hill was a rude awakening from the cruise control we'd all been maintaining, and from there to the finish the race would be nothing but work. The worst part about coming up Morehead is that it's a straight shot as far as the eye can see, so while I had my sights set on the Dowd and the accompanying overpass for many minutes, it seemed to take forever to get there. Once I did the race was all downhill to the finish. By this time I'd overtaken Spada and Chad had distanced both of us, which again seems to be about par for the course these days. I kicked pretty hard the last 200 meters because I was gaining on a few college-age guys and it's always fun to pass them. (Mainly because at that age I know how much it probably irritates them to get beaten by a girl. It's a life lesson they might as well learn now.) For a few minutes after crossing the line all I wanted to do was drink some water and catch my breath. In that time I learned that Jordan had won (so predictable), that Jay and Paul had duked it out to the finish (with Mainers edging him out this time) and that Billy had finally accomplished his elusive sub-17 goal.

With everyone settling into the post-race relaxation phase it was hard to get motivated to run the course again, but fortunately my trusty domestique was willing to perform pacing duties so away we went. Jordan had come up with the crazy idea of taking it easy on the downhill in an attempt to negative split the course, a task that seemed daunting to say the least. However, since he rarely steers me wrong (at least in running scenarios) I decided to give it a shot. It turned out to be for the best, since the first 400 meters were spent weaving in and out of the throngs of people gathered around the finish area. The rest of the first mile felt just slightly faster than regular pace and helped me recover enough to push the last two miles. Don't get me wrong; I was still deep in the hurt tank coming up Morehead, but with Jordan's help and the knowledge that my workout was nearly over I managed to split 5:49 for the final mile, the exact same split I'd recorded on that mile in the race. (Whether this says more about the tempo or the race is beside the point.) And, miraculously, I'd accomplished the goal of negative splitting the distinctly un-negative-splittable course. For that reason in itself I deemed the workout a success.

Unfortunately I couldn't stick around to pick up the mini-autographed Panthers helmet and goody bag at the awards ceremony, as I had to shower up and then head to work. Even so, I enjoyed the time spent at the race this morning with friends and appreciated the hospitable weather. Another Grand Prix race is in the books.

Friday, August 6, 2010

No Boys Allowed

Friday, 8/6
AM: 8.5 miles
PM: 20 mins. (2.5 miles)

Thursday, 8/5
AM: 80 mins. (10 miles)

Caitlin and I and special guest Danielle enjoyed a very early, very slow run on Thursday morning. It was for girls only so we talked a lot about feminine topics such as boys, clothes, hair and makeup. Also if this run was a step over 10 miles I'd be surprised, but I couldn't have been more pleased to keep the pace relaxed.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Trials of Miles

AM: 3+ mile w/u + strides
Target: 4xmile w/4 mins. rest
Actual: 5:23, 5:24, 5:23, 5:24
2 mile c/d
Total: 9.5-10 miles

Sometimes I have the unhealthy tendency to compare a workout to the best time I did the same workout. So, for example, if I'm having a solid session of 800s on the track, in the back of my mind I'm thinking about the time I ran 800s even faster. As you can imagine, this line of thinking can quickly become problematic. So this morning, knowing that it is one of the hottest days of the summer, that's it's six in the morning and that I'm running in trainers, I made a conscious decision to push thoughts of previous workouts out of my head. Specifically, the best time I ran mile repeats on the last mile of the Footlocker course was in April with Tanya, when I averaged 5:19 for six. I knew that wasn't within the realm of possibility today, but I hoped that something around 5:25 would be feasible.

After finishing up the warmup with Pezz, Jordan, Aaron and Paul, I wasn't so sure anymore. Even though it was barely light outside the air was so hot and heavy that I felt suffocated. Further, since the boys were just running easy and Pezz was doing a pre-race, I would be doing half of this workout solo. My confidence wasn't exactly skyrocketing.

With that said, the workout ended up being fine. I ran the first two solo and the final two with Pezz, and she definitely pulled me along when I was struggling through the final interval. My legs never felt particularly poppy but there were sections when I felt quite strong. Overall it was just a constant battle to keep my body temperature down, and no doubt it would've been a losing one had I attempted any more. I'll definitely take it easy the next few days before attempting a 2x3 mile session at the Blue Points 5k on Saturday.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Early Week Runs

Tuesday, 8/3
AM: 66 mins. (9 miles)
15 mins. core

Monday, 8/2
AM: 10.5 miles
PM: 4 miles

Apologies to all my loyal readers (i.e., my dad) for falling behind this week in blogging. I've recently started doing marketing full time at Run For Your Life so I've been working what most people would consider to be normal hours. In addition to running and trying to finish up this summer class my time has been pretty well occupied! (Sorry, Dad, I know that's no excuse. You raised me better than this.)

So, as far as I can remember as I'm typing this six days later, these runs were unremarkable. I do remember that Tuesday morning was with Jenna, who is freshly returned from her summer in Arizona and Hawaii. She hasn't been running much the past few weeks and was looking for a pretty easy pace, but the conversation and the lower than usual temps helped pass the time quickly.

A few other items of note: 1) I'm famous. 2) I found out on Tuesday that I got accepted by the NC division of USATF to represent their "Athlete Development Program" at the US 10 Mile Championships on October 3rd. I'm pretty excited because they're paying for almost all of my travel and lodging expenses as well as my race entry. I'm even more excited because this will be the same day as the Twin Cities Marathon that Caitlin and Megan Hovis are running, so I'll be there to cheer them on after my race! (And, of course, join them for the post-race celebration festivities.) On that note, it's time to seriously start getting in shape. I have no interest in embarrassing myself in the elite section of the race in t-minus eight weeks.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Week in Review

75 miles
5 AFDs
6 loops of Booty
8 runs with friends

I mean, what can I say? I'm just trying to make it through this sweltering Southern heat and humidity one week at a time. The way I see it, every week of the summer that I'm able to put in some quality mileage with friends while staying uninjured is a gift, plain and simple. This week I was lucky enough to run with company every single day. Sometimes you don't realize how much better it is to run with people until you're forced to do without, but in this weather I'm aware of and grateful for the distraction every single day. As for the training itself, well, the real work will come in the fall. I can only hope that magical season is somewhere on the horizon, because I don't know how much more of this we Charlotteans can take.

Terrible, Horrible, Not Good, Very Bad Run

1 hour 41 mins. (14 miles)

Wow. I felt absolutely terrible this morning. The worst part is that I have no idea why. I got plenty of sleep last night and ate a sensible dinner, not to mention the heat and humidity were much lower today than they have been in recent memory. But for whatever reason, my stomach was rocked and my legs were weak and I spent most of the run feeling dizzy/shaky/woozy. I was very poor company for Pezz, whom I met up with for the first time in several weeks, but fortunately she is rebounding from a down week and didn't complain much. I'd really hoped to take advantage of the conditions and crank out a good one but, alas, twas not to be. If there's anything positive to glean here, it's the knowledge that I can persevere and finish out a long run even when I feel abysmal from the very first step. So I've got that going for me, which is nice.