Sunday, November 28, 2010

Week in Review

80-81 miles
2 doubles
6 days in Texas
6 AFDs

I feel like a broken record saying this but, well, all things considered this turned into a decent week. Despite battling sickness and dealing with the now routine hassles of traveling, I managed to notch one okay workout and one respectable long run with friends. It was great to spend some time relaxing with my parents and indulging in some home cooked meals, but I must admit it was a bit of a relief to finally touch down in Charlotte after 16 days on the road.

Next up: a week of (gasp) no travel! Well, that's not entirely true. I do have a Craft and Karhu wear test run at Bull City Running in Durham, but Jordan is coming with me and we'll be spending the night at our friend Sarah's house so it should be a quick fun trip. Otherwise I'm actually planning to remain firmly planted in Charlotte until Sunday. Here's to hoping I can finally get in that big week of workouts I've been hoping for.

Salem Lake Long Run

1 hour 55 mins. (16 miles)

This long run went 100% better than the run in Ft. Worth last week (or, specifically, 100% better than the last 30 minutes of the run last week). I felt strong and relaxed throughout, and for once wasn't dying to stop as we approached the two-hour mark.

The preparation for this run actually began almost a month ago, when Jenna, Tanya and I had agreed to meet up at a new running venue after a hectic November of traveling. Jenna, who now coaches at High Point, often takes to these trails on the weekend with her team, and I've heard Caitlin speak lovingly about putting in the miles here during her time at Wake Forest. For Tanya and Jordan and me, however, this run was the opportunity to try out someplace completely new. As a Charlottean who often grows bored with the monotony of running a million loops at McAlpine to cobble together a long run, I was relishing the change.

After almost a 90 minute drive, the three of us pulled up to the trail parking lot and waited for Jenna's arrival. We'd hoped Caitlin would join us as well but I guess she was too cool for school. At any rate, our group was planning to complete two seven-mile loops of the trail and then add on a few more miles. Jenna didn't have such high ambitions, but we hoped to convince her otherwise along the way. We set off at an easy pace and immediately fell into conversation, which quickly helped pass the time and distracted us from the bitingly cold air. The dirt and gravel trail hugged the perimeter of the lake, gently rolling in spots and shaded by a canopy of trees. We passed a few other intrepid runners on the first loop, but for the most part had the trails to ourselves.

Our first loop passed before I knew it, and after a quick bathroom stop we were off for loop #2. Unable to convince Jenna to man up for the duration, she turned around just a few miles into our second go around. This left the Three Musketeers to hammer out the final few miles together. I didn't notice the tempo steadily increasing, but hearing Tanya's Garmin splits post run indicates that we did exactly that. I felt comfortable closing the final mile at 6:40 pace, a far cry from the dejected shuffle of my final few miles on the Trinity River trail last Sunday. Clearly my cold is on its way out, which makes me happy. What made me even happier was adjourning for breakfast at a tasty local bakery and thawing out with some coffee and sweet potato pancakes. If there's a better way to start off a wintry Sunday morning, I can't think of it.

Friday, November 26, 2010

MPHS Track Workout

2.5 mile w/u + strides
Target: 2400, 2000, 1600, 1200, 800 w/400 jog; start @6:00 pace and cut down
Actual: 8:55 (5:57 through mile); 7:20 (5:52); 5:43; 4:11; 2:42 = 37:20 for 6 miles
2 mile c/d
Total: 10-10.5 miles

Just before bed last night, no doubt wrapped snuggly in a tryptophan-induced haze, my dad asked Jordan and me if we'd like to accompany him to the Mt. Pleasant High School track in the morning. Pops is gearing up for a five-person relay at the White Rock Marathon next weekend and was looking to put the finishing touches on his speedwork. While I'm a tad embarrassed to admit I probably wouldn't have come up with the idea on my own, I was actually happy to acquiese. I'm finally beginning to shake the grips of my cough and cold, so I might as well try to salvage the week of running if at all possible. We said goodnight early and agreed to an 8am departure time.

In contrast to the preceding days in Texas, Friday dawned crisp and startlingly cold. Since our 70-degree rainy run yesterday, temperatures had fallen steadily toward the 30-degree mark, which is where the mercury was hovering this morning. For my purposes, the chilly air meant it wasn't sensible to attempt any short, speedy intervals; instead, Coach Jordan advised a backward ladder starting at just six-minute pace for a mile and a half. It sounded pretty doable.

From the outset, I could tell things would be okay. Not great, not groundbreaking, but fine enough given my slight chest congestion and the residual Nyquil still lingering in my system. Jordan agreed to set the pace, which meant that save for a few laps I wasn't required to do much thinking. It also meant that I wouldn't have to fight the headwind on the backstretch, as his ample girth was more than sturdy enough to block it for me. Those two factors were no doubt the strongest contributors to my comfort level during the workout today, as only on the final two intervals did I ever feel like I was laboring. I was surprised to see that the entire workout totaled just over 37 minutes, which means that even including the four easy "recovery" laps I managed to average sub-6:15 pace for six miles. Active recovery isn't something I did much of while working out at Queens, but Jordan has emphasized it in all my recent workouts. It makes things tougher, but I can definitely see the potential benefits.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Turkey Trot Meets Great Flood

1 hour 40 mins.
12 miles

While many of my friends in Charlotte, Atlanta and Dallas were lacing up their boots for a formalized Turkey Trot, Jordan and I were meeting up with my dad in the kitchen of my parents' East Texas home to drink some coffee in preparation for our own trot of sorts. Though no such official event exists in the Piney Woods region, my dad nonetheless assembled over a dozen of his friends and fellow local runners to partake in an early morning pre-feast run. Naturally, Jordan and I were the featured celebrity guests, which no doubt accounted for the unusually high attendance.

The sky was just beginning to lighten as we set off down the country roads, naturally clumping into several different pace groups. Jordan and I planned to run a half hour or so with the group before splitting off to lengthen the route. The odds of doubling after the Thanksgiving feast were nil, which meant we needed to get in a respectable distance this morning. So, after 30 or so minutes of shuffling along with the geezers (kidding, Dad), we picked up the pace and struck out on our own. In retrospect, our decision might not have been the most prudent, but we could hardly know that at the time. The first few ominous sprinkles were just beginning to fall as we waved goodbye to our fellow trotters.

Within what seemed like seconds, that all changed. Rain began to fall; steady but pleasant at first, then gradually swelling to an almost deafening crescendo of water. To make matters worse, for the next few miles we were running directly into a headwind, which made the droplets feel like tiny shards of glass pelting our exposed skin. Every time I thought it couldn't rain any harder, it did. At one point I literally turned and ran sideways because the water was flooding my contact lenses to the point of near blindness. The ground, previously dry, became a flash flood in minutes, and at certain points Jordan and I were tromping through ankle deep puddles. To say this made for an uncomfortable middle section of the run would be putting it mildly.

And then, just as abruptly as it began, the deluge stopped. Even more incredibly, it was replaced by what I swear was two-thirds of a double rainbow. A double rainbow, people! We weren't quite as excited about it as this guy, but nonetheless it was a pretty amazing sight. Even more bizarre was the curtain of rain that seemed to dance back and forth just a few meters in front of us, pelting a few square feet at a time before moving on to new territory. We found ourselves briefly soaked again as we ran through its pocket, but were on the other side again in just a few seconds. Mercifully, the rest of the run was dry and uneventful, and my dad even had fresh donuts waiting for us upon our return. My legs weren't terribly banged up, but my body was as exhausted as if it had just endured a natural disaster. Thank goodness there was nothing on tap for the remainder of the day except eating turkey, drinking homemade pumpkin spice lattes and watching the Cowboys lose. After such a crazy morning, I don't think I could handle any more Thanksgiving excitement.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Week in Review

83 miles
4 doubles
5 days in Austin
2 days in Ft. Worth
1? AFD

What a week. Austin was incredibly busy--I enjoyed neither the luxury of sleeping past 5:30am nor cracking open a computer until Friday--but it was also a great time. Rarely does the opportunity present itself to reunite with so many familiar faces, and I'm incredibly thankful that I was able to see old friends and new while down in the Lone Star State.

As far as running goes, overall I'm pleased with the week. If nothing else, getting in the volume was an accomplishment considering how busy I was. I also shocked the hell out of myself with a respectable 5k on a very tough course on Wednesday, which is another tally in the "plus" column. From a self-preservation perspective, the best part of this week was the amount of miles spent on soft surfaces. Thanks to the dirt loop around Town Lake and the almost entirely unpaved Trinity River trail in Ft. Worth, I can literally count on one hand the number of runs that took place on pavement. (That would be the warmup and 5k race on Wednesday and our loop of White Rock Lake in Dallas on Saturday, for a total of 14 paved miles, in case you were wondering.)

The big question mark for the week ahead is my health. Jordan and I are spending the week in East Texas with my parents, and I'm anticipating a big week of training including some tough workouts on the undulating blacktop roads behind my parents' neighborhood. Coming down with a cold means we'll have to play all of that by ear. Either way, I hope to spend the week catching up on rest, eating good food and spending time with the fam. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Cowtown Long Run

1 hour 46 mins
(~14-14.5 miles)

Yup, the inevitable finally happened. I'm sick.

In hindsight, this is an ineluctable conclusion to the past few weeks of crazy travel, crazy work hours, a lot of running, a lot of free alcohol and not a lot of sleep. As early as last Sunday afternoon, I came to the realization that it was not a question of if I would get sick, b
ut rather when. In that respect I suppose it's a miracle that I didn't feel the first tell-tale scratchiness of the throat until Friday afternoon, when Jordan and I bid Austin adieu and set off in our rental car toward Dallas. Jordan had already begun feeling badly the day before, which further solidified the guarantee that I too would shortly begin experiencing symptoms.

For the most part, this slowly gathering storm of snot and sniffles hasn't hindered my enjoyment of the weekend. We've still been able to spend some quality time with friends, enjoy our runs and even take in a bit of shopping. But my burgeoning cold finally hit me like a ton of bricks yesterday morning, right smack dab in the middle of what was supposed to be an e
asy long run in Ft. Worth. Let's just say it did not end well for poor little me.

The first hour of the run was great. I'd reserved Jordan and I a room at a hotel where my parents always used to stay when they came to visit me at TCU, just a few steps from the Trinity River trail system that I know and love. Knowing Jordan prefers loop courses to mundane out-and-backs, I'd mentally devised what I thought was a pretty nice route for our run today. It started out with a few westward miles on the trail before crossing over a low water crossing, then continued on a trail/bike path through the shaded Overton Park neighborhoods. After dead-ending at the end of the park, we turned left to head uphill toward the TCU campus. This was the part of the run I was most anticipating, as I was eager to see all the construction and renovations that have taken place in the years since I attended. Turns out that when your football team goes from average to national class, funding seems to materialize out of nowhere. Sure enough, as Jordan and I jogged up throug
h the campus, I hardly recognized any of the buildings--including my own freshman dorm--that had once been as familiar as the back of my hand. Once clear of campus we popped out on University Drive, which commenced a long downhill back to the river trail. At this point we were just over an hour into the run and I was feeling great, despite the warm (70+ degree) weather and excessive (30+ mph) wind. I had no idea how drastically that was about to change.

TCU's Frog Fountain at night: one of the few remaining
constants from my tenure there

I felt the first inkling of my sudden implosion when Jordan suggested that I do a series of one-minute pickups. This is something that he and Jeff have been incorporating into his long runs for a while, and it worked out splendidly for me when I tried it for the first time in San Diego this summer. After the first few segments today, however, I could tell I was struggling. It wasn't so much my legs, though they were beginning to feel fatigued, but my breathing felt shallow, hoarse, panicky. The wind was at our backs at this point, which should've made me feel better, but instead it only filled me with impending dread. If I felt this poorly going into the wind, how much of a death march would the final miles of the run be once we turned around? A few minutes later I voiced my concern to Jordan, who questioned whether we should pull the plug immediately. Instead, I suggested we keep going another half mile or so, as I was growing increasingly thirsty and knew where a water fountain was located. We soldiered on, finishing off one last pickup (our fifth?) before reaching the fountain.

Once we turned around, it was every bit as bad as I'd imagined. Even though I tried to tuck in and draft behind Jordan, sudden gusts of wind reduced me practically to a standstill. I swear my cheeks even started flapping at one point. I could tell I was slowing Jordan down and didn't want to drag him into the morass of my misery, so I gave him permission to go ahead while I slogged through the last few miles. I was defeated, dehydrated, demoralized. Moreover, I was mystified. How was it possible for a run to go from great to abysmal in such a short span of time? We'd planned to run a solid two hours, but clearly I would fall well short of that. Now I know that it can be attributed to one part wind, one part dehydration and about five parts sickness. As the day progressed I proceeded to feel worse and worse, ultimately reduced to eating soup from Panera for dinner and passing out at 9:30 while watching the American Music Awards. People, did you hear that?? I was watching the American Music Awards. That's when you know that things just aren't right in my world. Someone please put me out of my misery.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Running Event Indie 5k

2 mile w/u + strides
Target: 5k race @sub-18
Actual: 17:29 (5:47, 5:38, 5:37); 5th place woman
2 mile c/d
Total: 9 miles

For those of you not familiar with The Running Event, it is essentially a giant industry trade show. Virtually every vendor you've heard of (Asics), and some you haven't (Thermajock), attend and set up display booths in a giant expo hall. When I say "every vendor," I mean everything from footwear to socks to accessories to nutrition products. If you can picture a brand that exists in your local running store, it's a safe bet that some of their sales reps and corporate office representatives are in attendance. So to whom are these vendors displaying all their wares? Again, if you picture your local running store, this is where the fun comes in for them. The Running Event is more or less an all-expense paid vacation for their owners and buyers to one of the coolest cities in the US of A. In addition to the huge expo full of products at their disposal, they can also attend several days of clinics and breakout sessions, plus several fancy dinners and a few fun extracurricular activities. One of the most popular of those extracurricular activities is the Indie 5k, a small race that is set up just for Running Event participants on Wednesday morning. Though it may be small, I would venture to say it is one of the deepest and fastest non-prize money races in existence.

When my alarm went off at 5:30 on Wednesday morning--which, unfortunately, is the latest I would be able to sleep for the entire week--I woke up and immediately began my pre-race preparations. The Indie 5k is just a fun and light-hearted event, but having hardly run a single sub-6 minute mile since my injury I was a little nervous about what I could do. I knew from past years that the course, a hilly and winding figure-eight loop through Zilker Park, was by no means easy, and I really wanted to avoid embarrassing myself if at all possible. My new coworker Keith Pierce--a 2:20 marathoner and top-3 finisher at the San Antonio Marathon this past Sunday--picked me up at 6:15, and just a few minutes later we were pulling up to the race location. I located Jordan and his co-worker Lee right away, and we immediately set out into the cool morning air for a warmup jog. Lee was just here for the freebies--the "title sponsors" like Nuun and 2XU were giving away schwag including free $50 compression socks--but Jordan also hoped to post a top time. Considering that former All-Americans like Grant Robison had won the race in previous years, Jordan wasn't too optimistic for the overall victory, but both of us harbored dreams of winning the coveted Fastest Vendor award.

We finished our warmup and started stripping down for the race, mingling and chatting with other friends and race participants. We saw Tim, Beth and Dawn from RFYL, my buddy Mike Rouse from K-Swiss, Scott Schilter from Nuun, North Carolina NB rep Mike Moran, a gaggle of Brooks peeps, Lou and Chuck from Runner's Depot in Ft. Lauderdale, and about 100 other people I knew. The Running Event is essentially a glorified high school reunion for those of us who have been in the industry for a few years, and today's race was no exception. As we lined up at the start I craned my neck to see if I could spot the ringers. Traditionally the women's race is won in a pedestrian 18:40, but I could already tell that wouldn't be the case today. For one, NB professional athlete Sarah Bowman was on the line just a few yards from me, and I knew that I had no chance against a multiple D1 All-American like her. A few other girls looked pretty speedy, though I couldn't recognize any by name.

After a rather long and drawn-out version of the National Anthem--or at least it seemed that way due to the brisk temperature--the starter sent us on our way. Immediately I felt like I was sprinting. I'm not sure if this was because of the early hour, the temperature, the fact that I've done zero speed work in the past few months, or a combination of all three. At any rate, I know that I never felt like I had a chance to settle down throughout the entire race, which is a bit of a new sensation for me. Even in short races like the 5k I usually have at least a mile where I feel calm and in control, but that wasn't the case today. Surprisingly, however, once I mentally acknowledged that this was going to hurt like hell the entire time, my mind was able to relax a bit. The first mile was a grind, as it contained the longest uphill on the entire course, but to my surprise it actually felt kind of good to be working this hard. From the gun I'd fallen firmly into fifth place, with Sarah Bowman just a few yards in front of me and several other girls leading the charge up front. For a brief moment I entertained the thought that they might come back, but by the first mile marker it became apparent that this was wishful thinking. I was slightly discouraged to see how slow my split was--rudimentary math told me 5:50s wouldn't be fast enough to break 18 minutes--but the frustration (and the approaching steep downhill) only fueled my desire to push harder.

About halfway through the course we approached the figure-eight section, which meant crossing paths with the slower folks while simultaneously trying to fight up another hill. I was struggling at this point but knew that if I could keep it together I'd have the opportunity for another steep downhill in the third mile. Seeing a 5:38 split for mile two bolstered my confidence--though I was still working as hard as before, at least my pace was reflecting the effort--and I knew that if I maintained my focus I'd have a chance to run a decent time. I was in no-man's land in terms of race competition, as Sarah Bowman et al had long since disappeared into the distance, but there were plenty of men around for me to work with. The familiar steep uphill/downhill came and went, and for a moment I rejoiced that there were no more hills on the course. A few yards later, to my chagrin, we turned again to go up the figure-eight hill. At this point I was working as hard as I could and would've no doubt fallen apart if the terrain hadn't begun to slope downward toward the finish. With less than a minute to go I could see the finish line banner looming and began to kick for home. Though tired, I felt the strongest at this point than any other in the race, which in hindsight I see as quite encouraging. I crossed the line just a tick under 17:30, ecstatic to have run such a respectable time in my first 5k race since August.

A few seconds later I spotted Jordan, aka Pancho Villa, chatting with some people from Craft and Karhu. I thought it was awesome that our GM Eric, our President Jay and our Bike VP Gilles got up early and jogged over here just to cheer for me. They had plenty of other responsibilities for the day, so to see them take time to come support me meant a lot. As it turns out, Pancho had gone out hard and finished fourth behind former Texas sub-4-minute miler Darren Brown and a few other ringers, with OK Runner friend Jerry Faulkner and my marathon wearied coworker Keith just behind. None of us were sure where our performances would stack up in their respective divisions, as the official results wouldn't be announced until tonight's dinner, but we'd no doubt represented the brands well. Now it was time to spend a few miles cooling down with friends--our OK Runner peeps Jerry and Scotty D, plus Tim Rhodes and Chris Bradle--as we all trotted back down the Town Lake trails to our respective hotels. The Indie 5k was just the beginning of yet another busy day in Austin, but there's hardly a better way to start than a nice hard run with a few hundred of your closest friends in the industry.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Week in Review

80-81 miles
4 days in FTL
2 doubles
13.1 miles along the beach

Apologies all around, as I'm seriously behind schedule in typing this up. Though the post is dated for Sunday, it's actually the following Friday as we speak. Things have been crazy busy in Austin (which is another post) and this is literally the first time I've cracked open a computer since I blogged about my race in the hotel lobby on Sunday afternoon.

What I do remember about the week in question is that it was seriously frontloaded to accomodate my travel and work schedule for 13.1. When I embarked for Ft. Lauderdale on Thursday morning I'd already put 52 miles on my feet for the week, but would only notch 28 more for the remaining three days. It would've been kind of cool to see how high I could've taken things had I not been working 12-hour days all weekend, but it's probably best that I don't push the limits too much right now. My health and fitness are finally starting to come around and I shouldn't do anything dumb to mess it up.

13.1 Ft. Lauderdale

2 mile w/u
Target: 13.1 @not super slow
Actual: 1:25:30 (minus a few, er, stops); 3rd female
Total: 15-15.5 miles

If there's one thing I love doing on a Sunday, it's waking up at 3am. Let's just say that neither myself nor Nora, the Florida sales rep, were super pumped when my alarm sounded at a time when cool people are probably still awake. For uncool people like us, the alarm meant it was time to wake up and head over to the finish line where we would be setting up our wares for the 13.1 Ft. Lauderdale race. This morning's festivities would cap off four days in South Florida, which began with a packet pickup at Runner's Depot on Thursday and continued with two days of packet pickup/expo at a local hotel before concluding on the beach today.

We arrived just after 4am and immediately began setting up our tents, tables, footwear and apparel as best we could in the darkness. Even with daylight's savings time the
sky wouldn't begin to lighten until well past the race's 6:13 start, as I would find out several hours later. By 5:45 our setup was complete, which meant it was time for me to strip down to my race skivvies and jog the ~2 miles to the start line. I wasn't anticipating any record beating times given my current state of fitness and my even more current state of exhaustion, but what the heck. Might as well get in my long run with a few thousand strangers and some supported water stops, right? Since the race offers no prize money I entertained thoughts of winning, but there was no way to tell who else would show up just for kicks. Once I reached the start line I spotted three other women who looked reasonably legit, all of whom were a bit older than me and all of whom were wearing racing flats. I, on the other hand, was sporting the Fast Rides I'd been rocking all week, as I didn't think the increased speed was a fair trade for how banged up my legs would be after pounding the pavement for 13 miles. Were this a serious race I would've definitely gone for the lighter shoes, but for today I didn't deem it necessary.

The race started precisely at 6:13, and immediately I settled in behind the lead g
roup of women. The three I'd spotted at the start shot out in front of me, and although Jordan had counseled me to start with the leaders regardless of pace I thought it best to hold back. I kept trying to remind myself that feeling good in the first few miles meant nothing; the lack of quality workouts still missing from my regimen would surely catch up with me later in the race. Despite this mentality, I still split 6:06's quite comfortably for the first two miles; by this point I'd passed one of the women, but the lead two were already a good 10-15 seconds ahead. I had no idea what kind of time they were hoping to run, but sub-1:18 pace was simply not something I was willing to go for right now. I continued to hold back, instead trying to find a few dudes to latch onto.

About four miles into the race we approached a causeway bridge that would take us back toward the beach. This was one of only two "hills" in the race (the other coming in mile 2 when we ran down into a tunnel and then came up and out the other side); other than these minor blips the course was perfectly and completely flat. I'm confident the same could be said for most races tha
t take place in the Sunshine State. While the terrain is an undeniable "'pro," a few marks could be made in the "con" category regarding the weather. Turns out it's warm, humid and windy here pretty much year round, and today was no exception. While my coworkers are suffering through freezing temps in Boston I'm sweating it out in 70-degree weather (near 80 by later in the morning.) Pretty crazy.

Shortly after descending the bridge, the course hooked a left to pop out on the A1A, which runs parallel to the beach. This is when the wind began to play a noticeable factor, as evidenced by the swaying of palm trees surrounding us. This is also when my stomach began to play a noticeable factor. Everyone who knows me is aware that I struggle with digestive issues while running, though mercifully they usually seem to abate on race day. For whatever reason, this was not true today. About halfway through the race I felt my stomach beginning to cramp up, and a mile later it became so uncomfortable that I actually stopped and wa
lked for a bit. Had there been a bathroom nearby I most certainly would have utilized it, but I didn't spot any in the vicinity. After about a minute of walking I began to run again, more than a little frustrated about my condition and also the fact that I had actually been gaining on the two lead women. The turnaround point came just past mile 8, and at that point I was able to gauge that they were about 150 meters in front of me. I stepped on the gas a bit in hopes of catching up.

My comeback was going smoothly until a few miles later, when I realized it was imperative that I stop for the bathroom. Fortunately one was within striking distance, but unfortunately this put the leaders hopelessly out of reach. Again, I was frustrated, and again I channeled this into running hard. I covered the last three miles at 6:15 pace--by no means blazing but a strong finish for where my fitness is right now--somehow m
anaging to hold off all the other women to finish third. Had I been passed while in the loo I probably wouldn't have crossed the finish line, but it seemed silly not to since I managed to make the podium in spite of myself. 1:25 is slower than I've run in quite some time, but subtracting a few minutes for the stops puts me right at Olympic Trials qualifying marathon pace. Did this feel like a marathon-paced run today? Definitely not. Am I confident I can run 6:19 or faster after 11 more weeks of training? Absolutely.

For better or worse, I had no chance to cool down after the race. The Karhu tent was bustling with activity and I'd already left Nora alone for long enough. I spent the remaining few hours selling schwag while admiring the aquamarine ocean waters, still in awe of the disparity between our climate here and the rest of the country. It truly was like a postcard, as you can see below.

I'd like to write more, but as I type this I'm in the lobby of the Hyatt Place Ft. Lauderdale, finishing up a load of laundry before catching my airport shuttle, a full 12 hours into my day. I'm off to my home state for our sales meeting and the Running Event in Austin. I can't wait to reunite with friends, coworkers and even Jordan for the next few days. I'll follow up soon from the Lone Star State!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Success! (Finally)

2 mile w/u + strides
Target: ~5 miles uptempo (~6:30 pace) down the McMullen Creek Greenway; then in-and-out miles back (3 hard @6:00)
Actual: 35:35 for 5.8 miles (6:15, 6:06, 6:05, 6:04, 6:03, 4:37 for .8); 6:30 (.8), 5:52, 7:28, 5:50, 7:30, 5:58 (on dirt)
1 mile c/d
Total: 14.5-15 miles

Praise Jesus, I'm not as terrible as I thought. In fact I would venture to say that, not unlike the greatest runner of all time, I'm contemplating coming back from brief thoughts of retirement. (Obviously that's where our similarities end.)

Details to follow soon, but suffice it to say I felt about a million times better than on last week's tempo run. I was able to run controlled and relatively relaxed throughout, only truly fatiguing on the final few "in" miles. The tempo portion in particular felt surprisingly easy, as I was able to approximate the pace I ran for a five mile race last month with significantly less effort.

Whew. I needed this.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Week in Review

80 miles
2 doubles
1 day in Ft. Lauderdale
5 AFDs

Unfortunately there's not a whole lot to share this week. Other than Wednesday's well-intentioned but poorly executed tempo run, all my other runs were just "easy" jaunts designed to put in the miles. Saturday morning I took part in an early morning run club with the Runner's Depot crew in Davie, then Sunday I was back in action at McAlpine enjoying the crisp autumn temperatures with Jordan. I wish I could say I felt awesome on either or both of those days, but the truth is every part of me just feels tired and flat. I suppose it's to be expected as my body absorbs the accumulation of the last few weeks' miles, but I can't wait for things to click back into place again.

The only real news of note for the weekend was the NYC marathon, which Jordan has already done a great job of recapping here. (How I love when his blog is actually up to date.) Watching the action unfold provided me with some much-needed motivation and excitement for the day when I might actually line up for 26.2 myself. Hopefully that day comes sooner than later.

On tap: 13.1 Ft. Lauderdale expo Thurs-Sat, 13.1 race Sunday, flying to Austin on Sunday night for sales meeting and the Running Event. Another busy week ahead!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Craptastic Tempo Run

2+ mile w/u
Target: 60 min. tempo starting @7:00 and cutting down
Actual: 52 mins; splits
7:18, 6:52, 6:31, 6:23, 6:22:, 6:19, 6:20, 5:08 for .81 miles (6:23 pace)
(courtesy of OK Runner blog)
2.5 mile c/d
Total: 12.5 miles

Welp, this pretty much sucked. Though I can't remember the last time I did an hour long tempo, both Jordan and Caitlin assured me that the first half would feel easy because we'd be starting at such a lackadaisical pace. That was the plan, but when it came to executing it I fell flat on my face (well, metaphorically; I feel like I have to clarify that since I did indeed fall flat on my face a few weeks ago).

We met before sunrise at McAlpine, both Jordan and I peering through the murky pre-dawn darkness until we spotted Caitlin's bobbing headlamp approaching from the distance. After a few miles warmup we settled into the uptempo portion of the run, hoping to start around 7 minutes. The cool air warmed me almost instantly as my effort level increased, and before long I was regretting the choice of gloves and multiple layers on top. Immediately I could tell that this was not going to be the relaxed, enjoyable romp I'd so naively envisioned in my head. Caitlin and Jordan chatted back and forth while I tucked in behind and attempted to will myself to relax. My spirits were further dashed when we came through the first mile exceedingly slower than planned; knowing that I felt this uncomfortable at a pace I normally maintain for "easy" runs wasn't exactly an impetus for success. As our splits dropped with the passing mile markers I was forced to mentally coach myself through each subsequent minute. I felt myself growing increasingly frustrated, discouraged and embarrassed as the run progressed, as memories of stellar workouts from last spring flitted through my mind like the taunts of a playground bully. At mile 5 I was convinced I'd drop out. At 6, I was definitely done. Mile 7 was for sure the last one I'd suffer through. Before I realized what was happening, Jordan and I were back at the Old Bell parking lot just short of 8 miles (Caitlin had peeled off to return to her car at 45 minutes), and mercifully he allowed me to cut the run short. Normally I feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of hard workouts, a mixture of relief and satisfaction, but today I just felt tired and out of shape. It was not, to use the expression literally, my finest hour.

At this point you must be asking yourself when I plan on snapping out of my self-pity and closing up this post with some nice and tidy positive thoughts. Guess what kiddos, it ain't that kind of blog today. Sometimes training means acknowledging your shortcomings and accepting your inadequacies without wrapping them up in a neat, cheerful, Runner's World-esque sort of encouraging bow. Today wasn't my day, and I'm pissed. Nothing else to do but get back out there tomorrow and keep trucking.