Sunday, October 31, 2010

Week in Review

85 miles
4 doubles
2 AFDs (oops)
3 days in ATL

Wowza! I certainly didn't plan on running 85 miles this week, but I guess that's what happens when you have a plethora of running partners and training venues to select from. In adding this up in my head, it looks like exactly half of these miles were covered on soft surfaces, which makes me feel a little less nervous about seeing such a stout final number. This total also includes an awesome long run, a mediocre workout and some quality doubles. I doubt my mileage will crack 80 again next week, but it's nice to know that I'm physically capable of doing so when the opportunity presents itself.

The week finished itself off in fine fashion as we raced home from Atlanta to meet up with a group of our nearest and dearest at Brazwell's for a few pints. My birthday is Monday, and we figured that plus Halloween made for a legit excuse to round up the troops. We were all exhausted from our respective weeks and thus didn't burn the midnight oil for too long, but it was fun to see everyone for a few hours.

On tap for next week: a trip to Raleigh-Durham with Jordan, a potential tempo run with Caitlin and a quick overnight trip to Ft. Lauderdale for 13.1 prep.

Road Trip: ATL

Sunday: 15.5-16 miles @Kennesaw Mtn. National Battlefield Park
Saturday PM: 8-8.5 miles @Chattahoochee River trails
Saturday AM: 8 miles w/West Stride training group

Twas an epic road trip weekend for Jordan and myself. The destination: Atlanta. The objective: Craft and Karhu wear test run at West Stride. The payoff: Hanging out with friends and knocking out some great runs.

It started Friday afternoon, when Jordan and I loaded up Felix the "sport wagon" and set off in the southbound direction on I-85. We didn't have anything on the agenda for Friday but needed to be up bright and early for a Craft and Karhu wear test run at West Stride on Saturday morning. After a brief stop in Greenville we arrived in Atlanta just in time to grab some dinner and call it an early night.

Saturday morning dawned crisp and cold--quite the relief, as I'd only brought Zero and Zero Extreme base layers for wear testing and it was 80 degrees up until Friday! The gang at West Stride was expecting 50-75 people for the run, which meant that Jordan and I pulled out all the stops by setting up a tent, table, flag and samples in the parking lot. There was a flurry of activity when the wear test samples were brought out, and within minutes I'd handed out every piece in the box. The run through the affluent surrounding neighborhoods was a lot of fun and I heard tons of positive feedback about the Craft base layers--a few people even asked to buy the shirts that were on their backs! Always a good sign when people are that e
xcited about the product.

In the early afternoon Jordan and I paid a visit to Fleet Feet John's Creek, our partner for 13.1 Atlanta, before driving back to midtown to meet my friend Jennie for a photography session. In addition to working at West Stride, training for the next Olympic Trials and earning a massage therapy license, Jennie is also an accomplished photographer (check out her site here). Apparently she is helping shoot for an Atlanta running calendar and was in need of some super hot girls (myself, obviously, and her friend Kyla) to run for some photos. I don't know whether or not we fit the bill, but we did get honked at eight different times by men who appeared to be of all ages and ethnic persuasions, so I consider that a victory any day of the week.

A less technical section of the Chattahoochee River trails

Next on tap after my supermodel shoot was a trail run with JSK at the Chattahoochee River. Jordan has been here with me once before but we barely made it up into the technical trails, so today was a special treat. The weather could not have been better for a run, and the sound of autumn leaves crunching under our feet supplied the perfect soundtrack for our afternoon miles. Having not been on trails for a while I found myself quite timid on some of the more technical sections, which meant that every few minutes Jordan would gap me by about 50 meters before feeling guilty and stopping to wait. This sequence was repeated at least half a dozen times before he grew exasperated with the tortoise and left me to fend for myself. By the time we made it back to the parking lot the sun was dipping below the horizon and I was thoroughly exhausted--and, of course, hungry. We hadn't eaten a proper meal all day and I was ready to tear something up. Fortunately we'd made plans to rendezvous with Jennie and her husband Leo for a fun night out at Antico, an authentic local pizza place. The menu is stark and simple and they import all their ingredients from Italy, which means they close up shop each night when they run out of provisions. The coolest part is they make the food while you watch (the limited selection of table seating is located literally in the middle of their kitchen). Oh, and it's BYOB and BYOD (dessert). How can you not love that? And, just in case there was any doubt, let me confirm that the pizza was amazing and the atmosphere was loud and boisterous, just like I imagine a real Italian pizzeria would be. We left feeling full and tired and ready to crash early.

A map of our Sunday run--we went from the Visitor Center
to Kolb Farm and back

Sunday morning saw us returning once more to West Stride for a staff meeting/clinic, which wrapped up around 10:30. From there it was time to conquer the mountain--Kennesaw Mountain, that is, a spot just north of Atlanta with miles and miles of glorious wooded trails. I'd only planned on putting in 12 or so miles, but about 30 minutes in Coach Jordan decided I must be feeling peppy (not sure what part of my labored breathing and heavy footfalls offered that indication) and encouraged me to keep going. Since he wasn't dropping me every two minutes like yesterday I decided to take him up on it and continue to the eight-mile mark at Kolb Farm. The trails were hopping with runners, walkers, horseback riders and even the occasional costume (several times we passed a guy wearing a full body skeleton suit who unbeknownst to me was actually my friend Kate's husband). My quads and hammies were throbbing at the turnaround point, already fatigued from an hour of undulating trails, but from there I had no alternative but to return from whence I came. The final 20 minutes were incredibly tough--I'm too lazy to look it up now, but I don't think I've run two hours more than a time or two in the past year--but I still managed to enjoy the serene beauty of the trails and the gorgeous autumn weather. Nature could not have delivered a better morning, and despite my aching body I had a blast exploring new terrain with Jordan. What a perfect end to our weekend road trip.

Beautiful Kennesaw Mtn. trails

Thursday, October 28, 2010

First (Short Bus) Workout

AM: 3.5 miles
15 mins. core
PM: 2+ mile w/u
Target: (600m @6:00 pace, 100m jog, 300m @5:20 pace, 200m jog) x 6
Actual: Basically that
2+ mile c/d
Total: 9 miles

For my first workout back post-injury, Jordan devised a "fun" (his words) track workout involving changing gears while running continuously. I thought/hoped the 6-minute pace segments would seem fairly easy--after all, I'd just run that pace for a half hour last weekend and today was only being asked to do so for a few minutes at a time--but I figured that the shift in pace, combined with the whole "jogging rest" aspect, would wear me out pretty quickly. The 80+ degree, 80+ percent humidity certainly wouldn't do me any favors either. The only thing I had going for me was my trusty pacer, a one mustachioed Jordan Kinley, who promised to keep me on target pace throughout. He's never let me down before, so I was more than happy to let him take the lead.

I wish I could say that I knocked this workout out of the park, but to be honest it kind of just solidified the reality of where I am right now. As predicted, the 600s felt easy and relaxed, almost a jog, but as soon as I tried to ratchet things down to a faster clip I just felt off. My left hamstring and glute tightened up, my stride felt jerky and the pace was just plain uncomfortable. Knowing that this was my 5k pace just a few short months ago was a bit humbling, but I was determined not to allow myself to get discouraged and wallow in self-pity. Where I'm at is where I'm at, and the silver lining here is that any sort of workout will equal significant fitness gains at this point. I may not have set the track on fire today, but I'm willing to accept this as a starting point.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Week in Review

70 miles
0 days off
6 AFDs
6 days in Dallas
8k of fun

Without a doubt this was a long and exhausting week, but there was plenty of upside as well. I got to see my parents, caught up with a few friends, enjoyed runs in new (old) places and had the opportunity to test out my fitness on the roads. After four weeks of nothing but easy running (minus this morning's effort), I think I'm ready to finally begin ramping up the marathon training. While I don't expect my mileage to increase much in the next few weeks, I would like to begin slowly incorporating workouts in a few times a week as well as completing a decent long run. Let's do this, November.

Uptown Run 8k

2 mile w/u
Target: 8k race @don't drop out, don't embarrass the brands
Actual: 29:57 (5:58, 5:54, 6:07, 5:54, 6:03)
2nd place female, 4th place overall
2 mile c/d
Total: ~9 miles

I must admit, I had literally no idea what to expect going into this race. This is only my fourth week back running, and since I hurt my foot at Greek Fest two months ago I've done exactly zero workouts. Wait, I take that back--I did two strides after my run at White Rock Lake yesterday. Does that count? As you can imagine, this type of race preparation doesn't exactly inspire self-confidence. But, given that I was already going to be at the Uptown Run working the Craft and Karhu tent, I figured I might as well take advantage of the free entry and try to earn some exposure for the two brands.

Contrary to the weather that my Charlottean friends have been enjoying this week, the weather in Dallas is warm, muggy and windy. When I left my parents' hotel room at 5:30 this morning it was 72 degrees and 88% humidity. I knew it wouldn't exactly be ideal racing weather, but to be honest that was the least of my worries. At the top of the list? Not going out too fast, not dying and not embarrassing myself, in that order. I honestly had no idea how my body would respond to a pace it hadn't so much as hinted at in several months, but I didn't exactly have anything to lose by lacing up the boots. Might as well give it a shot.

I warmed up just after 7am with Brett, a new friend of mine who works at Lukes; Andrew, an old friend of mine I haven't seen in a few years; and Dawn, a speedy local runner who I knew would be the woman to beat. (Turns out she was almost the man to beat too, but I'll get to that in a minute.) I spotted my pops (representing with his Karhus) and our family friends who'd also come up for the race, but there wasn't much time to chat. After warming up and waiting in line for 10 minutes for the bathroom there wasn't even time for a few strides before lining up at the starting line. Ready or not, it was time to test out these rusty legs of mine.

The gun sounded promptly at 8:00 and we were off in the Uptown direction. Within the first 800 meters it became apparent that, simply put, there were no fast dudes in the race. My friend Andrew was just tempoing the thing and he was already far ahead of the next male, with Dawn and myself close behind. Allow me to say again just so we're clear: Dawn (a girl) and me (another girl) were in third and fourth place overall. This would not change for the remainder of the race. Now guys, I get it that there was no prize money to be had and that the Uptown Run no longer carries the prestige it once did (hence why it will become a 13.1 race next year). But seriously? We girls weren't exactly running world beating times here, so it was a bit of a surprise (at least to me) to find ourselves front and center from the gun.

Approaching the first mile marker, I still had no idea of my pace, but I was relieved to find myself feeling somewhat comfortable. Seeing 5:58 on the clock gave me a slight confidence boost and armed me with the conviction that I could finish in a respectable time. At this point Dawn was only a few meters ahead and I harbored some hopes of her coming back, but midway through the second mile she started to pull away. Unsure as to how my body would respond as the race progressed, I was hesitant to follow. I kept reminding myself to stay relaxed and focused and to take the race one mile at a time. Sure enough, the second marker loomed before I was expecting it, and I was pleased to see a slightly faster split accompanying the downhill mile. The third mile was a series of turns and a gradual incline, and at that point I felt my legs and breathing begin to labor. Dawn had pulled even farther ahead and I was right in the middle of no man's land, flanked by the Uptown buildings and accompanied by a brisk headwind. Things had the potential to go downhill fast if I didn't keep myself together. Fortunately the fourth mile was solely flat to downhill, which meant I was afforded the opportunity to accelerate slightly while collecting myself mentally. Just past the fourth mile marker was a 180-degree turn and the promise of retracing the hill we'd just coasted down, which made for a physically and mentally draining final mile. With 600 meters to go I made the final turn--no thanks to the cop who allowed me to run five meters off course before halfheartedly calling after me to turn around--and could see the finish line straight ahead, and a quick glance at my watch confirmed that I could dip under 30 minutes if I hustled in. I made it with just a few seconds to spare, hot and exhausted but also pleasantly surprised at my performance.

Without question, the positive takeaway from this effort is that all has not been lost over the past few months. I've obviously forfeited a bit of fitness but not nearly as much as I'd feared. Houston Marathon is a full 13 weeks away, which should be plenty of time to whip myself into respectable shape. I view today's race as a great starting point on the path toward much bigger and better things.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Falling Down on the Job

No, literally. I fell down. I can honestly say that as far as I can recall, this is the first time I've ever fallen while running, and I sure made the most of it. It all went down, so to speak, on the darkened pre-dawn streets of suburban north Dallas; Plano, to be specific, at Luke's Locker. I'm in Dallas for the rest of the week working the Uptown Run, and my first stop was the Wednesday morning social run at Luke's. It was a mere five minutes into our run that I took a tumble just as we were crossing on a concrete overpass. One minute I was bipedal and the next I was on the ground. The brunt of the impact was absorbed by my left knee, the remainder by the palms of my hands. My first thought upon impact was, "Holy crap this HURTS." My second thought was, "If I just ripped my brand new Craft capris I'm going to be beyond pissed." Fortunately, while the skin beneath the capris was more or less shredded, the fabric remained unscathed. What a testament to the brand!

As I'm typing this now, 36 hours later, I'm still a bit battered. I was going to upload a photo that I snapped on my phone, but the photo doesn't adequately capture the various shades and contours of my mangled knee. Suffice it to say that my kneecap is swollen not unlike a reddish blue grapefruit and I'm probably going to have a killer scar. Let me also add that trying to bathe and wash your hair when your hands feel like they're on fire is one of life's least pleasant experiences. Fortunately I've run several times since then and, though the knee throbs a bit on the downhills, there doesn't seem to be any serious damage. I've got to tell you, when I promised I'd stop blogging about mundane runs this isn't exactly the alternative I was envisioning. I suppose the moral of this little story is that I'm a klutz and I'm lucky I didn't bust my head open. Every day is a gift.

Thankfully my day took a turn for the better late in the afternoon when I had the chance to drive to Ft. Worth and visit my good friend Cindy and her kidlet Eloise. When I last saw Cindy she had just given birth; now Ellie is almost two and Cindy is pregnant again! How time flies. We had an awesome time hanging out and catching up on life, and I'm so glad I had the chance to make it out there. I made the most of my time in Ft. Worth by sneaking in a run on the Trinity River trail while Cindy and Ellie went for a walk. The late afternoon a
ir was warm and dry and the sun was slowly setting on the horizon, painting a truly picturesque scene from my vantage point on the crushed gravel trail. It's funny; when I lived in Ft. Worth I always complained about how boring it was to run here. Now that I've traveled and lived in so many other places I can honestly say the river trail is a near perfect training venue. 25-30 miles of crushed gravel trails that are wide, clean, flat and well-maintained, not to mention safe and accessible by at least a dozen different spots around town. I may not have appreciated it while living here, but I can assure you I enjoyed every minute of my run this afternoon.

View of downtown Ft. Worth from the Trinity River Trail

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Week in Review

67-68 miles
3 doubles
4 days in Ft. Lauderdale
5 AFDs

Remember when I advised myself during last week's Week in Review to tone down the mileage this week? Apparently I interpreted that to mean just the opposite. Instead of backing off from last week's ambitious 55 miles, I instead increased to 68 to round out my third week back to running. And the result, fortunately, is that my foot feels completely fine and the rest of me feels about 75% normal. I'm still huffing and puffing a bit on longer runs and I'm not yet confident enough to try a workout, but otherwise the abrupt jump in mileage seems to be inciting no ill effects. If anything, I found myself for the second week in a row surprised to tally up the week's miles and see such a steep number staring back at me. I guess when 75-80 is the norm, anything less seems a bit lenient.

One other encouraging development is that I just learned the results of a blood test I took last week. Specifically, I wanted to see how my CBC, serum ferritin and vitamin D levels looked after a month of no running and diligent supplementation. If you'll recall, when I first got tested while running for Queens in early 2009 my ferritin was a paltry 18. Over the next year and a half it steadily climbed to 24, then 36, then 44 most recently in May. Since then my goal has been to top 50, no easy feat when training hard in the throes of a Carolina summer. Needless to say, both Coach Simmons and I were shocked to read that my current ferritin number is 82! I can't remember ingesting any nails or other construction materials recently and thus can attribute this meteoric rise solely to the recent time off and the aforementioned supplements. My vitamin D is also on the high end--68, which according to Simmons is just a few ticks short of being dangerously high--which also bodes well for overall bone and blood health.
I realize that these figures will wane slightly as my training volume increases, but for now I'm thrilled to use this as a starting point.

This week finished as all great autumn weeks should, with a group long run at McAlpine followed by a group brunch of pumpkin pancakes at our place. Life is good.

On Traveling

As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, my new super cool job involves a substantial amount of traveling. Since I officially started a month ago, I have been to Boston, Atlanta, Atlanta again, Ft. Lauderdale, and on Tuesday will be leaving for a week in Dallas. I think I spent a few days in Charlotte too, but it's hard to remember. While my previous positions with Brooks and Mizuno made me no stranger to life on the road, I can confidently say that I have traveled more by air in the past month than I did in an entire year at either of those jobs. (And, having just sketched out my travel schedule for the rest of 2010 and the first quarter of 2011, I can tell you that things aren't about to change any time soon.) With that in mind, I'd like to share a brief list of travel pros and cons that I've taken note of in the past few weeks.


1. Running in new places. Ever since I started working in the running industry, one of my favorite perks of the gig has been running in new places and meeting new running friends. That's not to say that ideal venues always abound--I've done my share of boring out-and-back traffic dodging runs--but more often than not I can usually find a trail or a bike path or a park that gets the job done. This past week in Ft. Lauderdale I was fortunate enough to stay less than a mile away from a huge golf course. I'm fairly certain I was not supposed to be running on it, but for the most part I got there early enough and avoided eye contact with the landscapers and went about my business undeterred. Friday's run in particular was absolutely awesome, as I spent the better part of an hour charging up and down the perfectly manicured greens as the sun rose steadily in the background. It wasn't until I was a few meters from exiting the course that I was approached by an employee on a golf cart, who muttered "No jogging allowed" as he drove by. I stopped, turned around, put my hands on my hips and indignantly responded, "I am not jogging. I'm running." For a few seconds he was rendered speechless and I was afforded enough time to make my exit with dignity.

2. Lots of frequent flier miles and hotel points, for free. No explanation needed.

3. The opportunity to catch up on books and movies. There is no better time than when traveling to indulge in oft-neglected diversions. In the past month I've read several books and watched more movies than in the preceding six months combined. This is especially true when my hotel has HBO, a luxury not afforded to me at the good 'ol Franciscan Terrace condos. Just yesterday morning I watched the heartwarming family film The Blind Side, less than 24 hours after finishing the equally heartwarming and slightly less family friendly Baby Mama. I finished The Wives of Henry Oades for my book club and perused countless airline magazines. (By the way, the absolute best case scenario is when your first leg of your travel is at the end of the month and your return trip is at the beginning of the following month. This ensures two different Delta/US Airways/United magazines will be there to greet you upon boarding.) Currently I'm midway through At Home by my most favorite author, Bill Bryson, whose acerbic wit and sarcasm I aspire to imitate in blogging and in daily life.

1. Dealing with the hassles of flying. Pretty much everyone who knows me knows that I always check a bag. Always. (Overnight trips being the only exception.) However, for last week's trip to Florida I knew I would only be gone for four days, wouldn't need anything cute for going out and, most importantly, would be wearing minimal clothing in an attempt to combat the 90-degree heat, so I decided to fight my instincts and carry on. I quickly realized this was a mistake when I boarded my first flight from Charlotte to Atlanta and found the overhead bins nearly full before the plane was even close to reaching capacity. For starters, this is a problem that could be easily remedied if the airlines rescinded their policy of charging an arm and a leg for each checked bag. Then people like me wouldn't insist on trying to shove our suitcases into the already straining overhead bins even when we know they probably won't fit. Sure enough, a few minutes later a flight attendant came by and yanked my bag out, telling me she would have to check it to my final destination. (Which was fine with me, as I got my original wish--checking my bag--without having to pay the fee. Take that, suckas.) She took my bag and my boarding pass up front to write me up a baggage claim ticket, then returned a few minutes later with said ticket in hand. "You're all set," she said brightly. "You can pick up your bag in Las Vegas!" She was already turning on her heel to walk away as I quietly, but with audible alarm, whimpered, "But I'm going to Ft. Lauderdale?" "Oh, right," she responded briskly. "That's what I meant." Needless to say, I spent the next five hours in a near panic, firmly convinced that my bag would be off playing slot machines by the time I touched down in the other side of the country. (Fortunately, that didn't happen...this time.)

2. Dealing with all the other stupid people who are flying. In my wise old age I've gradually come to the ineluctable conclusion that the world is overwhelmingly made up of people who are, despite their best efforts, quite stupid. Worse than being stupid, however, are the people who are stupid and annoying. Yesterday while waiting for an eternity to deplane from seat 48Z or whatever row I was in, I found myself unwillingly eavesdropping on the cell phone conversation of another passenger. I say "unwillingly" because there was literally no way short of purchasing the Bose Noise Canceling headphones (did I mention I've also been reading Sky Mall?) that I would've been able to tune out his loud and obnoxious voice. From my perspective, the climax of the conversation was when he informed the poor friend or family member on the other end of the line that he needed to go to Target to procure some new jockeys because he was "completely out of clean underwear." Now friends, I ask you, was this necessary? Did I or 40 of my closest neighbors really need to know that this guy had apparently soiled all his previously worn briefs? Spare me.

3. Missing out on fun happenings at home. Jay's birthday dinner, Caitlin's marathon debut, the Queens cross-country meet, the LungStrong 15k, the CRC Halloween costume party (although, in my defense, Halloween is still two weeks away); these are just a few of the important events in my friends' lives that I've had to hear about second-hand due to being otherwise committed. Unfortunately, as I said before, this trend doesn't look to be reversing any time soon, which means there are likely many more festive occasions that I will not be able to attend in the near future. And that, it's safe to say, is the worst part of all.

This list is by no means comprehensive, and I imagine I will be adding to it (at least mentally) in the coming weeks and months. In the meantime, it's time for a nap. The only thing more exhausting than traveling is recounting the roller coaster of emotions that is traveling.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Week in Review

55 miles
90 mins. elliptical
7 days in Charlotte
5 AFDs

Well, that got a bit out of hand. I have a feeling Jordan is going to be slightly put out when he sees that number (which serves him right after all the times he's snuck above the 100 mile mark and then left me to find out upon reading his blog). But, honestly, how could you blame me for ramping up the mileage? My foot feels good, the weather is delightful, I've actually been home for the entire week and Jordan isn't around to monitor me. With that said, I do plan to be a wee bit smarter and dial things back a notch next week, which shouldn't be too difficult considering I will be in Ft. Lauderdale for work Wednesday through Saturday.

The good thing is my foot feels absolutely, positively, 100% normal. And, as I've said before, the absolute best part about being so out of shape is that I literally gain fitness from every run. So although I still feel terrible, I feel about 10 times better than I did this time last week, and I know I'll feel even better a week from now. It helps that I'm able to pass most of my runs alongside Jordan, Caitlin, Tanya and other friends; no matter how bad I'm feeling, it's easy enough to get lost in conversation and forget about the miles ahead.

The other thing that has helped tremendously is the care and attention I've received from everyone at Greenapple Sports & Wellness. I swear, I would probably be crippled without those guys. Right now Dr. Greenapple and I are discussing the possibility of custom made orthotics. Allow me to say up front that I've never really bought into the whole orthotic concept and have never worn any before. I can't tell you how many times customers brought them into the running store after spending hundreds of dollars on them when they didn't really need them. However, Dr. G thinks that I might be a special case. The issue is twofold: 1. Bunions (thanks, Mom) on both feet, which make toeing off properly through the first metatarsal a herculean task; 2. Bowed legs (appreciate it, Dad), which means that my tibial angle is all jacked up. When you add these two charming attributes together and multiply it by about 300 miles a month, you have a recipe for potential injury. Specifically, Dr. G thinks that my "special" condition means I'm unable to bear enough weight on the first metatarsal and the navicular bone and instead jettison the majority of it over toward the middle part of my foot. This makes logical sense given the manifestation of my recent foot injury. Orthotics come in because they can be designed in a way that simultaneously supports the navicular and also shifts my toe-off medially. To be honest, I'm not opposed to the idea. There's no guarantee it will work, but then again what is there to lose at this point? An issue related to my form or footstrike could be corrected to a certain extent, but unfortunately my inherent deformities cannot. So, from my perspective, it's worth a shot.

In other running news, lots of solid performances at Chicago today. I'll link to Jordan's blog as he somehow managed to post results in between sake bombs. It is definitely motivating to see my friends competing at these fall marathons, and I can't wait to be back on the starting line feeling fit and healthy again. Until then, I'm taking things one week at a time.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I'm Baaaack!

Just when you thought you'd heard the last of me (Dad, I'm talking to you), I'm happy to report that Green Lightning Running and the Green Lightning runner are back in business! I'm back on my feet and taking on the roads again (albeit slowly), which means it's time to get this blog up and running. Last week I had the opportunity to put in just over 20 miles, much of it on soft surfaces, and though I'm sore and achy and hopelessly slow I'm pleased to report that my foot uttered not a peep of indignation.

With that said, I've been giving some thought to the form I want this blog to take going forward. For the last 2+ years I've used it as a daily log in which I record all my runs, workouts, races and cross-training sessions. This has been beneficial in many ways, at least for me, because it serves as a time capsule that allows me to freeze frame exactly how I was feeling and what I was thinking about during a particular run. It also comes in quite handy when I want to compare past and present workouts or races, and when I want to remember where I was or who I was with at a particular time. The down side of this rather compulsory format, however, is that it often leaves me struggling for words when I have a run or group of runs that isn't all that interesting. (Medium Freedom Park loop, anyone?) As time has gone on, I'm not too sure I see the value in recording each of these runs simply for the sake of doing so.

So, going forward, I have a decision to make. I can maintain the status quo and continue to document each day's training, which has worked well in the past (and presumably has been at least moderately interesting to my followers, since my daily readership numbers are decent). Jordan's blog (when he updates it regularly) is an example of this type of template. Another option would be for me to only post about specific runs and workouts when they are interesting or significant in some way, or when I think they represent a crucial part of my training. In between those times, I could continue to grace the world with my dazzling wit and thought-provoking ruminations on other aspects of my life, such as my super cool new job and my cat Weezy. Caitlin's blog leans more toward this format. This means I wouldn't necessarily be posting every day, but some days I could possibly post more than once depending on the circumstances. Either way, I plan on including the staple Week in Review post to keep a tally of my mileage and to summarize the overall mood and tone of my training.

So, what do you all think? Let me know which type of format is the most engaging, and I'm game to try it out for a while.

In the meantime, it's time to get back to some serious training. It was exciting and inspiring and emotional for me to see Caitlin, my training partner (and eating partner and tanning partner and general life partner) absolutely crush her marathon debut at Twin Cities this weekend. She worked unbelievably hard this entire summer and it paid off in a huge way. My main takeaway from this outcome, other than the realization that Caitlin is a complete badass, was simply: Why not me? Is there any reason why I couldn't do the same thing given a few months of proper training and a tiny bit of good luck? After running literally side by side with Caitlin for so many months, I'm fully confident that I could approximate some semblance of her result with a few months of effort and determination. This line of thought solidified my goal to run Houston Marathon in January with the intent of attaining the "B" standard for the 2012 Olympic Trials. It's clear that I need to be patient with my training and physical health before I fully ramp up my mileage, but with just over 15 weeks until race day I know there is plenty of time. I'm healthy and motivated to train and truly grateful to lace up the shoes every day, which I think is a recipe for success. Once again, it's time to move forward.