Thursday, December 29, 2011

San Jose Bike Path Workout

2 mile w/u
Target: 3x1k @3:45, 1 min. jog; 10k @3:50/k (6:10/mile), 3 min. jog; 3x1k @3:40
Actual: 3:43, 3:41, 3:50 (got lost); 10k @38:15 (6:08/mile); 3:36, 3:41, 3:36
1.5 mile c/d
Total: 13.5-14 miles

This workout was supposed to take place in Palm Springs, but no thanks to United Airlines that was not to be the case. As we were traveling to the airport from downtown San Francisco with Jordan's aunt Emily (she of "red eye flight before running the turkey trot 10k" fame ), we got an automated call saying our Wednesday evening flight had been canceled due to very enigmatic "mechanical issues." Fortunately Emily was happy to host us at her beautiful home in San Jose; even more fortunately, said home boasts one of the most impressive wine cabinets I've ever seen. Oh, and it's also conveniently located just over a mile from a perfectly adequate bike path. As far as travel disasters go, this one actually turned out just fine.

And so, at 9am on Thursday morning, suffering from the slightest of wine headaches--just doing my part to simulate late stage marathon fatigue--Jordan and I set out into the gloriously warm air with the bike path as our destination. For my final substantial workout before the Trials, Jordan wrote out a mish-mash of intervals all designed to hone in on my target marathon pace, which quite honestly could range anywhere from 5:55 to 6:10 at different points in the race. Thus, the goal for today's effort was to stay comfortably relaxed the entire time and to feel confident running within the prescribed pace range.

To my pleasant surprise, the entire workout felt ridiculously easy. I expected the first few 1k's to jar the system a bit, but my legs eased into six-minute pace immediately with no resistance. (We encountered a brief detour during the third one, when we missed the turn over a bridge and instead found the bike path abruptly ending at the freeway. Oops.) After jogging around for a few minutes, it was time to begin the uptempo segment. Jordan was adamant about keeping the pace at 6:08-6:10, so as per usual I was content to tuck in and follow his lead. After what felt like an eternity, I glanced down at my watch hoping to see that at least 10 minutes had passed. To my dismay, we were only at 3:35--less than a kilometer in! With a loud exhale, I voiced a complaint that may have never previously escaped my lips during a workout: "This is so boring!" And, truly, it was. Other than a few sharp, steep inclines on the path my heart rate never spiked, and the minutes seemed to stretch on forever. It was a bizarre, yet exhilarating, sensation to calmly click off a 38-minute 10k in the middle of a workout without being slightly out of breath. Even the final 3x1k did little to fatigue me aerobically. After finishing the final interval, Jordan looked over and asked incredulously, "Are you even breathing hard?" And, even more incredulously, I responded, "Not really." It was...strange.

I think I'm ready.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Week in Review

102 miles
3 doubles
2 days in Cali
30k long run
4 AFDs

For what may be the first time in my life (although I can only speculate as I'm too lazy to research this), I logged back-to-back 100+ mile weeks. Many of these miles took place in the dark of night (even more in the dark of morning) amid a busy work and travel week. The good news is that it's all downhill from here! With three weeks to go until the Trials I'll enjoy somewhat of a taper in mileage as well as a significant cutback in workouts and "hard" runs. I've still got one big effort on tap for sometime next week, but at this point most of the hay is in the proverbial barn. There's more harm than good that can happen between now and January 14th, so I'll need to take advantage of the extra free time in Cali to focus on the little things: sleep, stretching, core, icing (I've got a bit of a tender left foot courtesy of Annadel), strengthening exercises and wine tasting. (Like how I slipped that last one in there?) Though I won't be doing much to gain more fitness, I have to trust that the accumulated work I've put in over the past weeks and months will all coalesce and manifest itself on race day.

20 days!

Christmas Day Long Run

Target: 18-20 miles @progressive pace
Actual: 30k in 2:06

Greetings from the glorious, sunny, cloudless state of California! After a long Christmas Eve-Eve of travel, we arrived in Santa Rosa and were greeted by Jordan's mom in the wee hours. The following morning we groggily suited up and met Jordan's high school buddy Steve Laurie for a medium long run at Annadel State Park, which both of them remain steadfastly convinced is the best training ground in the country, if not the entire world. (For the record, while the trails are expansive and the views often breathtaking, I found the footing to be far too rocky in many portions for me to settle into much of a rhythm. Not to mention it's ridiculously hilly--something my quads announced with a vengeance the following day.) After Christmas Eve service at Suzanne's church, we once again loaded up the car with Sacramento, and Suzanne's niece's house, as our destination.

And so, on Christmas morning, after all of Santa's presents were opened by 9-year-old Wyatt and his 7-year-old sister Logan, it was time for Jordan and I to step out into the surprisingly chilly air and bang out a good old-fashioned hard long run. Fortunately Tim and Tara live a mere mile and a half from the awesome American River Trail, a bike path that stretches farther than you would ever care to travel in one run. Even better, it's almost completely flat and accompanied by a wide dirt shoulder on either side of the pavement. Though I knew the dirt would make the effort more difficult, I also knew that my body needed as much of a reprieve from pounding as it could get. So we set off into the sunrise with Jordan on the path and me on the adjacent dirt, gradually inching down the pace as the miles (or rather, kilometers) clicked away. We hit 15k in just over 64 minutes before turning around and making a significant effort to increase the tempo. Whereas the bulk of the first half of the run saw splits hovering around 4:10 per kilometer, on the return trip we were pushing around 4:00 and occasionally dipping under. I have no idea what that means, but what I do know is that my legs were absolutely spent. The quads were screaming from the previous day's 14-miler in Annadel, and a searing hot spot had inexplicably developed under the ball of my right foot. The final few miles felt much more difficult than they should have given the slower-than-marathon pace, but with all said and done the goal of the run was accomplished and another 100+ mile week was capped off nicely.

And now, we feast!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

3x20 Minutes in the Dark

2.5 mile w/u + strides
Target: 3x20 minutes w/4-5 mins. rest; first 10 minutes @10k pace, last 10 minutes @marathon pace
Actual: Above (see Jordan's blog for splits)
2 mile c/d
Total: 14.5-15 miles

With only three weeks remaining until the Trials, things are getting pretty serious around here. Jordan wants me to complete three more substantial workouts in the next few weeks, and with several ideas rolling around in his head he put in a call to Jeff "G-Unit" Gaudette to solicit his advice. Together they decided on today's effort, designed to start things off with me pushing pretty hard and then conditioning my body to "buffer the lactic acid" during the second half of each interval. To be honest, I'm not 100% sure what means, but since they both have those big fancy Ivy League degrees I agreed to just go with it.

As has become all too normal these days, my alarm sounded at 5am sharp. I was up immediately to stretch the legs, take in a few sips of coffee and otherwise implore my body to look alive. We were out the door shortly thereafter with our nerd-lamps lighting the way to the Neck. Whether our pace would be affected by the early hour, the prevalent wind or the terrain of the Neck remained to be seen, but as per usual my plan was to let Jordan set the pace and simply hang on for dear life. I knew the ensuing hour wouldn't be much fun, but with his assistance the workout goals should be achievable. Besides, mentally all I had to do was will myself to run hard for 10 minutes and then trust that the remaining 10 minutes would feel like a jog in comparison.

Predictably, the opening meters were quite a shock to the system. If there were any doubt about me being firmly settled into marathon training, the fact that 5:40 pace felt like a sprint definitely solidified this reality. That said, fortunately the first seven minutes of each interval covered almost completely flat terrain. A short, steep uphill in the ninth minute didn't do me any favors, and the fact that more hills were to come in the 11th and 12th minute made the beginning of the "easy" section feel frustratingly difficult. Luckily, Jordan's impromptu decision to turn down a previously uncharted side street shortly thereafter proved wise, as it offered a gentle downhill section and a reprieve for my tired legs and ragged breathing. By the 15th minute I was more or less recovered, and the last five minute of each interval were the most comfortable of the entire segment. If that's how the workout was designed to feel, then I suppose that in itself makes it a success.

And yet, by the final few minutes of the third segment I began to truly feel the weight of the workout descending on my body. I was covering well over 5k on each interval (almost 5.5k on this last one, as it turns out), which meant by this point I was over nine miles into what was more or less an on/off tempo run. I wanted to finish the final 150 meters feeling fit and fast, but instead I found myself sputtering and grinding to earn a respectable split. Overall I wasn't thrilled with the workout, but like I've said before when all is said and done I'm willing to look at it as time on the feet at or below marathon pace. As I told Jordan afterward, I don't think it would've mattered if I'd had three minutes or ten minutes of rest between each interval. My breathing returned to normal almost immediately upon finishing, but there's just no way to force my legs to move faster than they did today. Though not indicative of any blazing speed, it does speak volumes for my strength, and for that I am quite pleased.

Three more weeks. Two more workouts.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Week in Review

100 miles
3 doubles
20 mile long run
20k tempo run
2 runs with Pops
4 AFDs

Praise the Lord, I finally hit 100! The majority of the week was about as un-glamorous as any in recent memory, as I completed more runs on treadmills and by the light of my headlamp than I ever care to again. But where there's a will there's a way--and if that way has to come via a 38+ mile Saturday and Sunday, then so be it. That's right, I followed up Saturday's tempo run with an even longer (albeit much slower) run with Jordan and Dad on Sunday morning. Despite sleeping in for the second consecutive day, Sunday mid-morning brought literally breathtakingly cold weather, the first of its kind since we moved here. With an actual temperature of 20 and a wind chill in the single digits, it took a lot of mental fortitude and about a gallon of coffee to push the three of us out the door. (Trust me, any time you have to strap on this glove you know things are serious.) Two and a half hours later I was very nearly frozen solid and I couldn't feel my legs (which given the circumstances isn't necessarily a bad thing), but at least I got in the miles. At the beginning of this training cycle I wouldn't have even considered attempting a 20-miler immediately on the heels of an 18-mile workout, but by now it's almost feeling routine.

Mileage aside, the most important part of the weekend was spending time with my parents. Jordan and I had a great time showing them our charming New England town and hosting them in one of the fort's ocean view guest bedrooms. (Have I mentioned we have guest bedrooms? And that we want you to come and visit?? Please do!) Though unfortunately we won't be able to spend the official Christmas holiday with them, we will be reunited again in just four short weeks when they come cheer me on in Houston. While my mom may have single-handedly derailed our newfound gluten-free lifestyle with the siren's call of donuts and flapjacks, I don't recall either of us complaining. Life's too short to miss out on good food and good people, and we enjoyed plenty of both this weekend--in between a few miles, of course.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

20k Tempo Success

2.5 mile w/u
Target: 12 miles @6:05-6:10
Actual: 20k @6:05 pace (1:15:52)
19:10 for 5k; 38:05 for 10k; 57:10 for 15k; last 5k @18:42
3 mile c/d
Total: 18 miles

First things first: Jordan actually said he was impressed with my workout. Out loud. And better yet, in writing. This is unprecedented, folks. I'm tempted to just leave it there and call it a day for this blog entry. However, since I know you're dying to continue reading, I'll share a bit of insight into how the workout went down.

For starters, it was a rare treat to sleep in. I woke up before 5am on Friday morning to slog through 10 miles on the hotel treadmill in Nashville--for the record, this was the same treadmill I'd had the pleasure of getting acquainted with less than 10 hours prior--and then booked it to the airport for an early flight. I arrived back home in Boston just in time to greet my parents, who were flying in to visit for the weekend. So not only did I get to sleep in until 7:30--!!!!--on Saturday, but I had the pleasure of lounging around with Jordan and the 'rents until almost 9:00 drinking coffee and catching up. When we finally did suit up for this morning's effort, my dad eagerly tagged along. He wouldn't be attempting the hard effort, but with a nice warmup through town and down the causeway we were able to give him directions for the Neck loop and back home. With many miles of hard work ahead of us, we wouldn't see him again for several hours.

From the outset, I knew it was in my interest to simply fall in step behind Jordan and let him dictate the pace. His queenmaking skills haven't let me down yet, and today would be no different. So even though the first rolling loop of the Neck felt like a jog, I resisted the temptation to ask him to speed things up. With over 75 minutes of hard running required, no heroes would be made in the first 5k. During the second loop I still felt terrific aerobically, though the constantly undulating terrain began to take a bit of a toll on my legs. We exited the Neck into a stiff headwind along the causeway somewhere between 11 and 12k, and at that point I told myself I only (only?) had less than 8k to run. We'd decided in advance to make up this distance with a simple out-and-back on Atlantic, headed first in the Swampscott direction and then returning back to our original starting point near the Neck. This section was nowhere near as hilly as the Neck, but I soon found out it consisted of a lot of false flats and gradual grades. The wind proved even more cruel than the terrain, seeming to shift its diabolical aim every time we turned expecting a reprieve. I was lucky to have Jordan out front, but his 135-pound frame can only do so much.

With 1k to go, we turned back onto Beach for a truly flat final stretch out to the causeway. This was when Jordan told me I was running well enough to "earn" a bonus 12th kilometer. Awesome. Actually I was still feeling surprisingly strong, but that didn't stop me from gasping out to him that I didn't want to be forced to finish uphill on the Neck. He replied, "Don't worry, you'll stop just at the base." As it turned out, he was wrong by about 100 meters. The last minute of the final kilometer was agonizing as I tried to push the pace uphill, somehow managing to finish with the fastest split of the day. (See Jordan's recap for all the gory numerical details.)

Even without looking at the numbers, I was pleased with how today went based on the perceived effort alone. I'm in the middle of my highest mileage week of the entire cycle and straight off a travel day, not to mention the terrain and conditions of today's course are much more difficult than I'll face in a month's time. In looking at the splits, I consistently got faster throughout each 5k and finished the final segment at or just below six-minute pace. That said, when I look at the big picture it's almost incomprehensible to think that I'll need to run an additional 22k at this pace in order to achieve anything close to my goal time at the Trials. I'll just have to trust that my fitness, combined with an appropriate taper and the energy of the competitive atmosphere, will be enough to make me swift on my feet when the time comes.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Downtown Louisville Workout Disaster

4-4.5 mile w/u
Target: 4x1k @3:25, 4x800 @2:45, 4x400 @80, 4x200 hard
Actual: 4x3:15-3:25, 4x2:45, 4x80, 4x40
1 mile c/d
Total: 13+ miles

Well, this was an unmitigated disaster. I'm staying in downtown Louisville for work, and the bike path that I thought traced the outline of the river was practically nonexistent (or at least I never found it). Instead I ran all of my intervals on what was basically a glorified sidewalk in full view of all the morning commuters. I'm sure they were wondering why the spandex-clad lunatic girl was sprinting back and forth in front of them while stopping every few minutes to shout obscenities to herself. (Actually I was shouting obscenities at my new Timex GPS watch which is far too sophisticated for me to understand, and on second thought perhaps this behavior made me blend in with some of the downtown street denizens. Either way, I lose.)

On the plus side, I didn't quit and I didn't start crying. I'm embarrassed to say how many times I came dangerously close to one or both of those outcomes, and with gusto. Instead I finally changed my watch to the one setting I know how to read, chrono, and just ran hard for the approximate amount of time mandated by each interval. If the goal paces were achieved I'd be shocked, but the bottom line is that I put in almost eight miles on my feet at faster than marathon pace. Given today's circumstances, even that seems like a small victory.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Week in Review

94 miles
20.5 mile long run
2 doubles
6 days in TX
3 AFDs (oops)

Once again, despite an insane week of travel and work I somehow managed to hit my workouts and mileage. Even better, I benefited from over half of it--at least some portion of six of those days--taking place on soft surfaces. At this point in the training cycle my body needs every reprieve it can get, and I have no doubt that removing my legs from the punishing pavement helped mitigate the damage done.

That said, with just five weeks until the Trials much of the hardest work is still ahead of me. I'll be presented with more logistical challenges next week, as I'll be traveling with a new sales rep in Nashville and Louisville from Tuesday until Friday. When I touch down Friday afternoon, it will be literally within minutes of my parents, who are coming to visit the magical fort for the weekend. While I can't wait to spend time with them and show them around Marblehead, the reality is that I won't have the luxury of stretching out my weekend training or venturing into the city to run with Emily and Teresa. It doesn't mean the miles won't happen, but I predict many runs that both start and finish by the light of my headlamp in the near future.

Interestingly, I had a conversation that indirectly addressed this topic while in Austin. I was at the hotel bar before dinner one night and ran into Liz Wilson, my friend and former coworker (and Hood to Coast teammate) at Brooks. In addition to being one of the most outgoing and energetic people I know, Liz also happens to have placed fifth at the marathon trials in 2000. Seeing as she knows a thing or two about marathoning, I decided to ask if she had any advice for me leading up to next month's 26.2. Though she didn't have much to offer in that department other than to "drink early and often" (an adage we were, ironically, embodying at that very moment, only not with water), we continued to talk training for several minutes. Like me, Liz has always pursued running and her career simultaneously, and even at the peak of her training she was otherwise gainfully employed. Hell, she ran 2:37 off no more than 80 miles a week simply because she didn't have time to double. Liz said she often considers what we do for a living a form of training in and of itself. The hours spent traveling and standing on our feet working at expos might not count as actual miles, but the weariness and exhaustion they induce on our bodies really isn't much different. It was an interesting perspective, one I'd never considered before, but it certainly makes sense. As I enter into another potentially draining week, I'll hold fast to the principle that each day's own unique challenges will serve to make me a mentally and physically stronger runner.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Indie 5k: Fastest Vendor in America!

4.5 mile w/u + strides
Target: 5k race @17:25 or faster + extra
Actual: 17:22, ~10 minute rest, 5x60-90 secs. @5k pace

Results
2.5 mile c/d

Total: 12 miles



So, having not run a 5k in many months, apparently I forgot that it essentially necessitates sprinting as hard as you can for three miles and then running even faster for the next 40 seconds. This is inherently not what one would call "fun." However, if said 5k takes place in the middle of the biggest running industry reunion of the entire year, in one of the coolest cities in the country, while most of the participants are either hung over or likely still legally inebriated from the previous night's debauchery, and costs approximately zero dollars to participate--well, that's pretty hard to pass up. And so, just like last year, Jordan and I woke up ridiculously early on the morning prior to the longest and busiest day of the entire event so we could jog over to Zilker Park and line up next to several hundred of our friends and colleagues for a good old fashioned road race. Going in, I felt confident I was fitter than last year--when I popped a 17:29 out of nowhere just a month removed from injury--but I also realized that last year's performance did not take place in the midst of a string of 90+ mile weeks. I was hoping to run faster than the 17:29 I posted then, but more than anything wanting to put forth a quality effort and hopefully add on some more substance afterward.

Lining up a good five or six rows back from the starting line, I found myself standing next to my buddy and former employer Tim Rhodes of Charlotte-based Run For Your Life. Several summers ago I engaged in a memorable 5k battle against Tim, in which I agreed to spot him two minutes and still pledged to run him down. On that day I came up literally inches short, my 16:59.5 no match for his valiant 18:59.3. Currently neither of us are in top 5k form, but we agreed that a 2:30 handicap should just about level the playing field. Customary trash talking ensued, and before I knew it another innocent bystander was invested in the outcome. Tim's friend Paul Epstein, owner of Running Wild in Pensacola, FL, leaned over and asked what I planned to run. When I responded with "somewhere in the 17:30 range," he announced his intentions to run with me. I was thrilled, hoping we could work together but also secretly hoping I could crush his spirits later in the race. (Just kidding...but seriously.) A cursory scan of the crowded starting line didn't indicate that there were any women lined up ahead of me, which was surprising. As I mentioned previously, last year my time barely cracked the top five, so I wasn't expecting this year to be much different. Speculation aside, I knew I would find out one way or the other within the next few minutes.

At 7:30, a full half hour after the expected starting time (hence the lengthy warmup), the gun finally went off. Having run the course last year I knew that after
a relatively flat opening 800 meters, we would enter the first of two figure-eight loops. This course layout meant that we would be forced to climb a short, steep, highly unpleasant uphill section not once or twice, but actually four times throughout the race. Two of these climbs would be matched by equally steep and short downhills (think heavy footfalls and pinwheeling arms), while the other two were accompanied by much more gradual descents. As we approached the first uphill, my eyes were glued on the racers ahead as I scanned for other women in the mix. I didn't see any, but found it hard to believe I was in the lead. My hoped-for racing buddy, Paul, put a solid ten meters on me in the first few minutes, but as we approached the first mile marker I found myself gaining on him slightly. My watch read 5:48 as I passed the first marker, but I found it difficult to believe I could be working so hard only to maintain such a pedestrian pace. (Note: I distinctly remember thinking the same thing last year. Either it just takes me an embarrassing amount of time to get warmed up or the first mile is actually mismarked. Naturally I choose to believe the latter. The world may never know.) Shortly thereafter I passed Paul, who hung tough by immediately latching on through the downhill. Near 2k I found myself approaching another familiar face (back?), Donny Forsyth of Charlotte Running Company. Donny is a great athlete and tough competitor, and I knew he wouldn't let me pass him without a fight. Sure enough, despite my best efforts to break away, I could hear his insistent breathing and footsteps right on my heels. I passed through two miles in 11:20 with Donny in hot pursuit.

At this point, it occurred to me that I could actually win. This might sound obvious to someone reading, but again based on past results the thought had never previously entered my consciousness. If there were another woman ahead of me then she was so far gone that I couldn't even see her, much less think about catching her, and for the first time since the race began I actually began to doubt that this hypothetical person actually existed. As I pressed uphill for the fourth and final time, finally beginning to shake
Donny, I knew that if I could just hang on for another thirty seconds I'd be home free for the final 600 meters downhill. I pushed through all the way to the line as the gun time clicked just past 17:25 (which I would learn later was actually a 17:22 chip time), pleased with the strength of my effort but still uncertain as to whether I'd actually won. Finally, after asking Jordan and several other finish line bystanders, the victory was confirmed. I hung by the finish line for a few minutes to catch my breath and to cheer/jeer Tim home as he almost outkicked the 50-year-old lady in front of him before setting off across the street with Jordan to add on a few more miles to my workout. Though my legs were shell-shocked and not a little indignant at what I'd just put them through, they finally began to respond about halfway through the pickups. I finished the workout just how I'd finished the race--feeling not exactly fast but unquestionably strong. And though I'm sure many people would dispute this, I now have a ridiculously heavy Texas-shaped trophy proclaiming that I am the "fastest vendor in America." If the hardware says so, I should probably add it to my business card.


The trophy and sweet Timex GPS watch I won

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Trinity River Trails Fartlek

AM: 40 min. w/u (5+ miles)
Target: 2x1 min.; 1x5 min.; 2x2 min.; 2x1 min. all @5k pace
Actual: Above, plus 5x30 sec. on/off ("Out" in 40 mins., "back" in 34)
1 mile c/d
Total: 10.5 miles
PM: 43 mins. (5.5 miles)

Brrrr, was it cold this morning! Despite my expectation of mild, if not warm, weather in Texas, it's been downright freezing since I landed in Austin on Monday morning. As someone who hails from this glorious state, I should've known that just because it was 70 degrees on Saturday doesn't mean it can't be 30 degrees and raining on Sunday, which it was. By the time I made the drive from Austin to Dallas on Monday afternoon temperatures were barely hovering above freezing, with the wind chill at least 10 degrees colder. Good thing I've got plenty of Craft gear for layering!

At any rate, come Wednesday morning there was work to be done. I spent Monday and Tuesday nights near the stomping grounds of my alma mater and was absolutely thrilled to put in some mileage along the soft surface trails that I know like the back of my hand. I woke up Wednesday a bit apprehensive about trying to run hard in the frigid weather, but fortunately the wind had abated and I had the luxury of waiting until close to sunrise before heading out the door. The mercury was hovering in the low 20s, and I felt every bit of it. The first few miles were dark and finger-numbing, but since the workout was designed as a pre-race for Friday's 5k and thus quite brief, it made perfect sense to indulge in a long, easy warmup before flipping a U-turn and cranking down the pace. And once I did, I felt awesome! Seriously, I have no idea what kind of pace I was maintaining as I don't have a GPS and the unpaved section of the river trail doesn't follow the mile markers, but I felt like I was flying. Once the sun began to poke its first tentative rays above the horizon, my body responded to the slight increase in temperature accordingly by increasing the pace even further. I felt good enough to take the liberty of adding on 5x30 seconds on/off at the end, with the final result showing that I'd completed the return trip a full six minutes faster than the outbound (which means I wasn't dilly dallying too much on my rest segments either). I finished up the run with a huge smile on my face, grateful for the rare moments like this one when the daily grind suddenly feels so effortless.

Next up: back in the car with Austin as my destination. The rest of the week will be jam-packed with The Running Event trade show, reuniting with dozens and dozens of industry friends, tromping the Town Lake trails, competing in the Indie 5k and of course spreading the Karhu and Craft gospel far and wide. It's sure to be exhausting but also incredibly rewarding and a ton of fun. See you in ATX!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Week in Review

94 miles
2 doubles
10.5 mile Boston tempo
20 mile long run
4 AFDs

Even as I type this, I'm shocked that I was able to run almost 95 miles this week. The intensity of my work schedule and the resultant non-running-related exhaustion should've rendered serious training almost impossible, but somehow I got it done. For future, that simply means that barring injury or illness there are no excuses for not putting in the miles!

Admittedly, a substantial long run helps. I ran over 35 miles on Saturday and Sunday alone, which bumps up the total mileage number significantly. However, even more important than the number of miles run this weekend was the company I enjoyed them with. After a great workout with Emily and Teresa on Saturday, they agreed to reciprocate by driving up to Marblehead for the Sunday long run. The three of us plus our trusty queenmaker JSK embarked on a glorious jaunt that took us from the fort, through downtown Marblehead, all the way down Atlantic Ave., along the Swampscott boardwalk, and to the island of Nahant. Jordan and I ran around Nahant with Huub about six weeks ago and have been looking to come back ever since. Today we traversed a similar loop as that first time, admiring the gorgeous ocean views and equally gorgeous ocean view homes, before returning back home the way we came. The pace naturally picked up on the return trip with the wind at our backs, and before long Jordan and Emily had separated from Teresa and me. Though it seemed like we were plodding along due to the distance between us and the other two, in reality we were probably cruising along at 6:45 pace for most of the final miles. This was Teresa's longest run ever and she was definitely feeling it toward the end, but we hung tough and tried to enjoy the scenery as much as possible. It was great to have the opportunity to show the city folk our quaint little New England hamlet, and as we meet more BAA members I envision massive group runs (and possibly sleepovers??) taking place right here at the fort. A girl can dream.

With another quality week behind me, I'll start Monday off less than auspiciously by missing my morning run. I have a 7:20am flight and am simply not hardcore enough to wake up at 4:00. Fortunately after landing in Austin I'll finish the day in Ft. Worth, Texas, home to my horny toad alma mater and some of my favorite soft surface running trails. Come Wednesday I'll be joined in Austin by Jordan and Huub and a few hundred of our favorite industry colleagues at The Running Event, a massive trade show/reunion that I look forward to attending every year. On Friday morning we'll compete in the Indie 5k, arguably the most hotly contested free prizeless race in the country. Last year I ran 17:29 on the rolling course and was the fifth overall woman, if that gives you an idea of the quality and depth of the field. Currently knee deep in marathon training and having not raced a 5k in many months, I have no idea how I'll fare, but I'd be pretty pleased with anything in the 17:20 range. If nothing else, it will be one workout that doesn't require Jordan to do all the heavy lifting! Overall I'm looking forward to the trip and the opportunity to put in some soft surface miles with friends in both Ft. Worth and Austin. Giddyup!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Charles River Tempo with the BAA

2 mile w/u
Target: 60 min. tempo @6:00-6:05 pace
Actual: 1:03:30 for 10.45 miles: 6:25, 6:07, 5:57, 6:00, 6:02, 5:59, 5:57, 6:03, 5:57, 5:53
3.5 mile c/d
Total: 16 miles

After what turned out to be a busy and exhausting week of work--including three consecutive 12-14 hour workdays--nothing could have made me happier than Emily's email suggesting that we start the workout at 10am today. Coincidentally we had nearly identical tempo runs on our schedules, and the idea also interested fellow BAA runner Teresa and BAA coach Terry Shea. I'll admit I was just a tad nervous as Jordan and I made the drive down to the city this
morning as these ladies aren't exactly slouches. Emily is the current Canadian National Marathon Champion, and former Stanford standout Teresa recently qualified for the Trials with a 1:14 half performance in Philly. That said, I know I'm getting fitter by the day, and I was looking forward to the opportunity to have someone other than Jordan dragging me around.

We parked at the Harvard track, adjacent to our meeting spot along the Charles, and set off for a few easy miles. The air was cold and crisp but the wind was calm and the sun warmed our skin almost instantly. In short, it was a great day for a long hard run. The BAA contingent was quite familiar with the 4.2 mile loop we would be traversing, one that turned out to be quite flat but not necessarily fast due to the frequency of turns and some unexpected puddle jumping during the first few miles. However, with no stops or street crossings it was definitely our best bet for today's effort. The plan was basically to run the loop 2.5 times, taking our splits at each mile marker but then clicking our watches again after completing the .2 miles from the end of the fourth mile to the starting point. This meant the tempo distance would actually be closer to 10.5 miles, but with only 10 mile splits taken. (Trust me, it's not nearly as confusing as it sounds. Basically we just had .2 miles of "freebie" distance after each four mile loop.) Ever the overachiever, Jordan was planning to alternate between 1k hard (i.e., solo) and 2k easy (i.e., with us). This meant that only Emily, Terry, Teresa and I would be together the entire time.

Just past 10 the group was assembled and ready to rock. Since none of us had taken a very long warmup, we decided to ease into the pace with a relaxed, "slow" warmup mile. I figured this would be somewhere between 6:20 and 6:30 and was indifferent to the 6:25 split. I knew the pace would quicken soon enough, which it almost instantly did. I could tell that Teresa, who has struggled with injury over the past few months, began to labor when the pace dropped significantly between miles two and three. She chose to stop after the first loop, leaving me with Emily, Terry and sporadically Jordan. By the halfway point, I also found myself feeling decidedly labored. My breathing was fine, but my legs felt tired and heavy. Emily, on the other hand, looked fantastic. She naturally assumed the leadership position in the group and kept pulling me forward to keep up with her short, swinging ponytail. After the sixth mile I told myself to just hold on until seven and then I could back off. After seven, I resolved to complete the second loop before slowing to something more comfortable. Then, just as we approached the starting line for loop #3, I found myself suddenly hit by a second wind of sorts. Within a few meters my mental state went from "Sweet mercy, just hang on for a few more minutes" to "Hey, I think I can pick up the pace." Sure enough, our last two splits were the fastest of the day--although even that wasn't enough to wear out Emily, who went on to complete the full third loop!

For my part, it was exciting to see over half the splits clocking 6:00 or faster, something that rarely happens for me in tempo runs. The other day I said to Jordan--half jokingly, but in reality speaking the truth--that if the Trials were tomorrow I'd have already done significantly more quality than I did before running my qualifying time last year. As exciting as that realization is, it only serves as more motivation to keep pushing my limits and seeing just how much fitter I can get in the remaining six weeks. Working out with people like Emily, who are clearly faster than me but not so far out of my league that they crush my spirit, is exactly what I need right now. I look forward to many more sessions like this one in the weeks and months to come.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sub-6 before 6

3 mile w/u
Target: 5x3 mins. w/2 mins. rest; 5x2 mins. w/1 min. rest; 5x1 min. w/30 secs. rest
Actual: Above
~2 mile c/d
Total: 11.5-12 miles

In my opinion, there is no reason to ever get up at 5am. The one exception might be if you have to catch an early morning flight (which I will be doing next week) or perhaps want to snag some killer deals at a Saturday morning garage sale. Today, however, waking up before the rooster was an absolute necessity due to the rigors of the sales meeting. The fact that Jordan and I were at the office preparing for said sales meeting until almost 11 the previous evening didn't exactly make this any easier, but when there simply isn't another option the excuses tend to run out pretty quickly.

And so, the crack of 5:30 found Jordan and I strapping on our nerd laps and begrudgingly lacing up our shoes for what promised to be a decidedly lackluster workout. Fortunately, either by incredibly shrewd planning or sheer coincidence, Jordan had written up a fairly low-key, effort based workout that I was confident I could tackle. Since the Neck seemed to be the most sensible location, I knew the pace would largely be at the mercy of the wind and rolling terrain (and the ungodly hour), so my plan was simply to tuck in behind Jordan and not stress about the speed of each interval. Based on his feedback and verbal encouragement, I'm pretty sure it was more or less a success. I do know that my first few 3-minute intervals were at 3:38/k pace (thanks to the handy dandy new conversion chart on Jordan's blog, I can tell you that 3:44 is 6:00 pace, so this would put these around 5:50 pace) and I'm fairly certain the shorter intervals were all faster than that despite the abbreviated rest. Any time I can hit sub-6 pace before 6am is considered a win in my book, so I'll take it! Now if I can just stay awake through another 14-hour workday, the day will be a rousing success.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Week in Review

86 miles
3 doubles
21 mile long run
2 nights in State College, PA
30 hours in the car
6 states (MA, NY, PA, WVA, OH, KY)

Praise the Lord, we survived! The drive to and from Ohio was no picnic but well worth the time spent with family and friends. Many would say that the highlight of Thanksgiving is the delicious meal, and while ours was certainly tasty, the running nerd in me must admit that nothing beats starting the holiday off with a spirited race and an enthusiastic cheering squad. (Well, winning would've been better. But I tried.)

Another unexpected result of the race was finding a new friend and potential once-a-year training partner. I met Amy Robillard, who finished a fast charging third behind me on Thursday, as we were both panting our way through the finishing chute. I soon learned that not only does she live in Mason, the Cincinnati suburb where Jordan's family resides, but her house is literally a mile away from theirs. Contact info was exchanged and plans were made to put in a few hours together on a local riverside bike path later in the week. Come Saturday morning, Jordan and I met Amy and a few other intrepid post-holiday runners at Buckeye Running Company, a new specialty shop a few minutes' jog away from the casa. We had a full day of driving ahead, but not before getting our long run out of the way. Though my legs felt weary and lethargic, the run was still made enjoyable by the company and change of scenery. I learned that Amy, who won the Flying Pig Half-Marathon earlier this year, is actually running a marathon in just a few weeks, her first one back since giving birth to her second child a few years ago. Her son, Jameson, has spent the majority of his short life in and out of the hospital battling an autoimmune disease, so Amy's training is often sporadic and squeezed in amid the myriad duties of being a special needs mother. Her spunk and vibrant personality in spite of (or perhaps because of) adversity is incredibly admirable, and with a recent 1:18 half under her belt I have no doubt she's going to surprise herself in her coming marathon. After a few hours spent together on our feet I felt like I'd known her for years--what other sport besides running can create that kind of spontaneous friendship??

And so, with another hectic yet enjoyable week behind me, I continue to feel my strength and fitness steadily progressing. Next week will even be more challenging in terms of training, as our North American sales force descends upon our corporate office for a week of sales meetings, but I'll try to fit in the miles as best I can. With the Trials only weeks away, I can't afford not to! There is still plenty of work to be done.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

102nd Annual Thanksgiving Day Race Recap

2-2.5 mile w/u + strides
Target: 10k race @35:30-35:50
Actual: 35:39; 2nd place overall female
Results
1/2 mile c/d
Total: 9 miles

Ever since deciding to come to Ohio for Thanksgiving, I knew Jordan and I had to run the Cincinnati turkey trot. Two years ago we'd planned to race the 100th anniversary event, even going so far as to pre-register and pick up our packets a few days in advance, but the
n Jordan very selfishly came down with the swine flu the night before. Needless to say, the race went on without us. This year, however, I was determined to toe the line at the oldest (and probably one of the largest) Thanksgiving Day race in the country. (According to Jordan, there is another turkey day race in upstate New York that also claims to be the oldest, but I'm pretty sure the race that owns the URL "thanksgivingdayrace.com" has to hold those bragging rights.) I might also add that though this race is huge--over 14,000 participants this year--and pretty darn competitive--top 3 men under 31 minutes and top 4 women under 36--there's no prize money or even a free pie to speak of. Instead, today's race was about nothing more than putting forth a good honest effort and enjoying the health and good fortune of being able to partake in such a magnificent event with family and friends. In fact, not only were Jordan and I on the starting line, but so were his uncle Dave--fresh off his 60th, yes 60th lifetime marathon a few months back--Dave's wife Stuart and Stuart's sister Emily--herself fresh off a red-eye flight from San Jose that landed a mere two hours before race start. We even had our own spirited cheering squad that braved the overcast and windy weather to come cheer us on, consisting of Eloisa, Jordan's little siblings Tyler and Madison, Stuart and Dave's children Nolan and Sophia, and Jordan's mom Suzanne who was also visiting from the west coast. With that kind of support in the wings, how could you not be fired up to run fast?!


A few of our adoring fans: Nolan, Madison, Sophia and Tyler

With just a few minutes to go before the start, Jordan and I reluctantly shed our warm layers and stepped to the front of the pack. We saw quite a few collegiate guys who looked legit, plus several women whom I knew could contend for the win. In particular, I recognized Tara and Kara Storage, identical twin elite runners who train in Ohio. For a second my heart sank and I mentally relegated myself to accepting third place, but I quickly nipped those negative thoughts in the bud and told myself that anything could happen if I gave it my best effort. From the moment the gun went off, I did just that. Quickly one of the twins (I had no idea which, but learned later it was Kara) shot to the front, gapping the entire women's field by at least 10 meters after the first few minutes. Twin #2 (Tara) also put several strides on me during the first mile which trended uphill and wound around the downtown Cincinnati streets. I split fairly comfortably in 5:42 before immediately opening up my stride on the mostly downhill second mile. I caught and passed Tara fairly quickly, but Kara remained at least 15-20 meters ahead of me despite my 5:35 second split. At that point we reached one of three bridges on the course, the first of which would lead us over the Ohio River and into Kentucky. This was the first noticeably steep ascent of the morning, and my heart rate responded accordingly. As we crested the bridge and began striding downhill toward the third mile marker, I noticed that Kara wasn't putting much more distance on me. In fact, it seemed as though I was ever so slightly gaining on her. Sure enough, by the time we approached a second bridge (really a mini-bridge in comparison to the other two) on the Kentucky side during mile 4, I found myself within several meters and, during the descent, matching her stride for stride. Though I was laboring, I knew that reeling her in was a good sign. There was a chance I could actually win this thing!

For the next mile we ran side by side, neither of us giving up any
real estate. During this mile mile we approached the final bridge which would take us back to Cincinnati, and this was by far the steepest and most difficult of the three. I knew the pace was slowing, but at the same time she wasn't pulling away. When we finally reached the summit and the grateful reprieve of a long downhill with just over a mile to go, the victory was still very much up for grabs. Less than a minute later, however, two men closed quickly from behind and overtook us, and before I knew what was happening Kara latched onto their backs and found another gear. It was a gear I did not have. Within a minute she put 10 meters on me, a gap I was unable to close for the remainder of the final mile. Despite this, however, I never gave up in the remaining few minutes. My last mile, a 5:30, was the fastest of the day--I don't remember my other second half splits but there was definitely a high 5:40 and even a low to mid 5:50 in there--and I didn't stop pushing until I crossed the finish line. With a few meters to go I could hear our trusty cheerleaders screaming my name, and though I couldn't quite muster a smile on my face there was certainly one in my heart. I crossed the line just under 35:40, shy of the victory but still earning a road PR on a very hilly and windy course, which is nothing to be disappointed with given that I'm in the middle of marathon training. Jordan also ran a great time and outkicked three guys in the final straight, proving he's still got some wheels despite being many months removed from serious training. There is much to be thankful for on this holiday, and I can't think of a better way to start off the day other than maybe having my pops there to toe the line next year. Happy Thanksgiving!


Post-race mimosas (and peanut butter): Stuart, Emily and the KinLos

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Week in Review

95 miles
3 doubles
3 runs with Caitlin
19+ miles in PVD
5 AFDs

Both in terms of quality and quantity, this is one of the best training weeks I've had this year if not ever. I nailed two workouts, ran longer than usual on Sunday and added 95 total miles to the books. Even better, I got to do it with some great friends. It was awesome having Caitlin in town this weekend, just as much for the relaxed hang-out time as the running (although that was pretty grand as well). On Saturday afternoon the three of us loaded up and drove down to Providence for a party celebratin
g Kim and Tarpy's recent engagement (which also doubled as Kim's "holy crap I can't believe I'm actually 30" birthday party). We saw many familiar faces, including Molly, who delayed what was supposed to be her Saturday morning flight to partake in the revelry and merriment; Roisin, who debuted eight-week-old Hope in full party regalia; former Brown teammate Matt and his wife Danielle; and of course Jordan's all-time biggest man crush Keith Kelly.


Lovers

Though the party lasted until the wee hours, I'm somewhat embarrassed to note that Caitlin and I snuck upstairs and passed out well before 11pm. I'm blaming the mileage and my overall lameness. Lucky for us, the party continued the next morning when everyone who stayed the night suited up for a morning run. Since Kim is only now resuming training post-NYC and everyone else is just lazy, our joyful group run lasted a mere 43 minutes. From there on out it was just Caitlin, Jordan and I trying to find another 14 miles around the mean streets of Providence. It was unseasonably warm and far windier than I would've liked, and there were several points during the second half of the run when my body felt more tired than it had in weeks. Fortunately I had Caitlin and Jordan to help me soldier through, and slowly but surely the miles clicked away. Some long runs are enjoyable and some are just about putting one foot in front of the other, and this was certainly the latter. Regardless, we all had a blast celebrating with Kim and Tarpy and other friends, and I'm so thankful we were able to make the trip down.

Looking ahead to next week, it would probably be wise for me to dial things back a notch. The body is feeling strong and healthy but there are still eight full weeks to go before the Trials. Fortunately/unfortunately, since we're driving to Cincinnati for Thanksgiving--that's 15 hours each way for the folks keeping track at home--I suspect my mileage will naturally take a bit of a hit. And since I'm planning to race the Cincinnati Turkey Trot 10k on Thursday, a hard workout Tuesday is highly unlikely. This week will be about surviving the travel and stuffing our faces and spending time with family--and if we get in some quality miles along the way, then all the better. Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Marblehead Neck Tempo With the Three Musketeers

3+ mile w/u
Target: 8 mile tempo @6:10 pace
Actual: 13.47k (8.4 miles) in 51:11 (3:48/k ~6:05/mile)
3k cooldown
Total: 22k/13.8 miles

Caitlin's in town! Caitlin's in town!

Okay, giddiness aside, it was awesome to have my training partner back matching me stride for stride on today's workout. I have no doubt that I pushed harder and ran faster than I would have solo or even solely with Jordan, simply because of the positive energy and affectionately competitive spirit that our presence brings out in each other.

In a stunning turn of events, Jordan is caught up on his blog and already did a stellar job of recapping today's effort, so I won't add much more except to reiterate how pleased I was with the strength and consistency we both exhibited despite the hilly terrain and blustery wind. I ran faster today for almost half a kilometer farther on a much more difficult course than when I did the Ipswich Bike Path tempo a few weeks ago. Considering that I'm in the middle of one of my highest mileage weeks in months, this is a huge confidence booster. I'm excited for some easy recovery miles tomorrow before tackling a Sunday long run with Caitlin. It's such a treat to have her visiting and I want to maximize every mile! Here's to a great weekend ahead.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Longest Track Workout Ever

3 mile w/u + strides
Target: 3200, 2000, 1600, 1200, 1000, 800, 600, 400, 200 all w/400m jog
Actual: 11:50 (5:55/5:55), 7:14 (5:46 through mile), 5:44, 4:14 (2:49 through 800), 3:30 (2:48 through 800), 2:44, 2:01 (79 through 400), 76, 35
Total time: 58:17 for 14.2k/8.8 miles (11k workout plus 3200m jogging)
3k cooldown
Total: ~14 miles

Any way you dice it, this workout was destined to take up a large chunk of time. Jordan and I were up well before 6am to prepare, and after firing off a few work emails we put on our costumes and headed out the door. Continuing with the past week's trend it was unseasonably warm this morning, and I was already sweating in my light windbreaker by the time we reached our destination at Village School. (This is the track that eluded me several weeks ago which I erroneously thought was located at Marblehead High. Turns out it's not that far away, and Jordan and I have been using the adjacent grass fields for some of our evening shakeout runs ever since.) The warm weather also brought with it a prevailing wind which would prove especially obnoxious on the top curve of the track, but fortunately my trusty coach and pacer would be front and center to provide me with a significant drafting opportunity throughout the workout.

Last night when we were discussing this morning's details, we revisited the blog archives to find a similar effort that took place when we were visiting my parents for Thanksgiving last year. This time around I wouldn't necessarily be shooting for drastically faster times, but rather increasing the total workout volume from 8k (6 miles including jog recoveries) to 11k (8.8 miles including jogs). Two weeks after that session last year I ran 21:05 for 6k at USATF Club XC Champs, so I certainly wasn't in terrible shape at the time. With all that in mind, I was interested and not just a little bit eager to see if I could sustain similar paces today for a longer duration.

As is often the case with me, the first half of the first interval felt uncomfortable and a bit choppy. It took well over a mile for me to settle in and allow my limbs and breathing to relax. I quickly learned that checking my watch after each lap would make for an extremely long morning, so I decided just to glance at key markers in each interval and otherwise simply focus on tucking in behind Jordan. There was a point midway through when I had a minor mental freakout--for some reason I thought the sequence went "1600, 1200, 800" and I had no idea there was actually a bonus 1000 tucked in there--but otherwise I grew more comfortable and confident as the workout progressed. Once the 1000 came and went, I knew the most difficult sections were behind me. While Jordan added on an extra 200 meters hard after each of my intervals, I tried to keep the 400-meter jogs between 2:15 and 2:25. This seemed to be just the perfect amount of time to allow my legs and lungs to recover, maybe even a bit long as the interval length decreased. I may or may not have run blades out for the final 200, which was more of an homage to my training with Tanya at Queens than an actual attempt to muster up more speed; either way, the lighthearted moment indicated that I hadn't completely drained my energy or gone to the well.

Overall I was satisfied with my execution of the workout, especially compared with the November 2010 workout, and I could tell that Jordan was as well. I cannot stress enough how much of a help he was from start to finish--I literally could not have done this, physically or mentally, without him. So often he sacrifices his own training to improve mine, and I try never to take that for granted. His efforts certainly did not go unnoticed today.
I know Caitlin and I both are already looking forward to him doing the same for Friday's tempo. It will be just like old times! Just a few easy runs between now and then before the band gets back together again. Can't wait!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Week in Review

87 miles
3 doubles
2 runs with the BAA girls
5 AFDs

Believe it or not, I actually spent the entire week at home--that's seven consecutive nights in my own bed, which is just craziness--and actually began forming some semblance of a routine. Jordan was gone from Tuesday until Saturday night, which made my solo Wednesday workout particularly challenging, but his absence also afforded me the opportunity to hook up with a new group of girls that I will hopefully continue to train with throughout my Trials progression.

On Friday evening, facing a completely empty calendar for the following day, I sent a note out to my friend Betsy who is temporarily living in Cambridge before starting a new job in January. Betsy resides full time in NYC and runs for the NYAC team; I met her through Heidi (who made a guest appearance in last week's blog for our NYC Marathon spectating/long run adventure) and she also ran at Dartmouth with my friend Melanie who is our favorite shirtless buddy Jeff's girlfriend. Got it? Good. At any rate, I hadn't connected up with Betsy since I was in NYC for 13.1 last spring, but in a recent email she'd mentioned that she often does weekend runs and workouts with the BAA competitive team. Turns out they had several runs scheduled for the weekend, so I happily agreed to drive into the city both Saturday (solo) and Sunday (with Jordan) to take advantage of the new scenery and company. And what a good decision--it was definitely worth it! On Saturday, Betsy and I met up with her friend Carly--whose husband, Terry, coaches the BAA team--for a fantastic 95-minute jaunt around the Charles River. The air was crisp and cool but our skin quickly warmed under the bright sunshine, and it was simply a gorgeous day to be outside enjoying the picturesque New England autumn. On Sunday morning I returned with Jordan in tow, and we set off again with Betsy to meet a larger group of BAA girls. Needing a more masculine environment, Jordan quickly parted ways, and I spent the next two hours exploring new territory and making new friends. I spent the final half hour with Emily Kroshus--a Canuck who actually went to high school with my North Carolina friend and competitor Heather Magill and also knows Meggan Franks--and it sounds like she will be a perfect training partner for me to link up with on my upcoming marathon-paced efforts. I can't tell you how I excited I am to find some like-minded women to run with, even if it's a bit of a hike to meet up with them, and I'm sure Jordan is just as excited to break away from my slow pace for a bit and actually meet a few guys. It's win-win!

Of course, next weekend I won't have to look far to find a training partner since Caitlin is coming to town. We're already planning a tempo run on Friday and a long run on Sunday--with any luck, interspersing several brunch outings before and after--and I can't wait to show her our perfectly quaint New England town! Things are still a bit hectic as Jordan and I get settled into our new lifestyles and surroundings, but life is very, very good.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Threes

2.5 mile w/u + strides
Target: 10-12 x 800m @2:40 w/90 sec. rest
Actual: 2:40, 2:42, 2:40, 2:41, 2:39, 2:40, 2:40, 2:40, 2:40, 2:39
2.5 mile c/d
Total: 10+ miles

After Saturday's workout debacle in Central Park, I was feeling less than confident about hitting even faster splits for just a slightly shorter distance today. It also didn't help that Jordan is busy changing lives in upstate New York all week, which meant I would be rolling solo. The section of trail I'd selected along the Marblehead dirt path, which is flat as a pancake and almost as straight, is great for training but not necessarily conducive to blazing fast times due to the nature of its dirt and gravel surface. Still, I resolved to approach the session with a positive outlook and made a conscious decision up front not to allow any negative thoughts to permeate my mind. Success was attainable, but only with the right outlook.

From the outset, I could tell this was going to be difficult. The brisk pace and early hour made for a rude awakening for my entire body, and 90 seconds of rest simply isn't much. I tried to make the most of it by walking for the first minute, then jogging for 30 seconds to ease into the next interval. Halfway through I came to the realization that while things certainly weren't going to get any easier, they didn't seem to be growing much harder either, and I knew that if I stayed calm and focused I could hit the remaining goal times. I didn't exactly knock it out of the park or produce any extraordinary splits, but in the end I hit the goal that Jordan prescribed. On the one hand it's easy to get discouraged when I look back on much faster 800m workouts that I did while at Queens, but I have to remind myself that I was deep into 5k and 10k track training then, not preparing to race 26.2 miles. For today, the goal was met.

If successfully completing the workout was the first positive thing to happen this morning, the second was learning that Caitlin had booked a flight to come visit us next week. We started talking a few days ago about the possibility of an impromptu trip, then after finding some reasonable fares online it looked like our idle conversation might become reality. Sure enough, next Thursday night I'll be picking her up from the airport for a weekend of hanging out, exploring my new town (which is still largely uncharted by Jordan and I), eating good food, cuddling with Weezy and, of course, running. I can't wait!

Since it's common knowledge that all good things come in threes--or is it bad things? I can't remember--then I knew it wouldn't be long before getting more good news. Sure enough, later in the morning I received an email from the president of Bonk Breaker letting the Bonk Breaker team members know that they would be launching a yummy new flavor, Apple Pie, just in time for Thanksgiving. I absolutely love Bonk Breakers and eat at least one per day, so needless to say I'm abundantly grateful for their sponsorship and thrilled to learn about a new flavor. So far my favorite is PB&J, followed in close pursuit by Espresso Chip, but I have high hopes for Apple Pie.

With all this good news coming before 10am, it's hard to believe the day could get any better. In reality, it probably won't. Either way I should get back to work.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Week in Review

87 miles
1 double
3 days in NYC
27 hours in the car
8 states + 1 district

The fact I was able to run almost 90 miles during what could arguably be considered one of the busiest weeks of my life is a small miracle. That I also managed to complete two workouts (notice I said "complete," not "successfully complete," thanks to my underwhelming effort in Central Park) and a long run, all with only one double, gives me the confidence that my upcoming marathon training cycle can be executed no matter the location or life circumstances. Each week, each workout will build upon itself incrementally, until before I know it I'll be in the best shape of my life. This belief is what drives me forward every day with renewed excitement for the challenge ahead.

NYC Marathon Weekend

Friday, 11/4: Rockefeller Preserve w/Madeleine
78 mins. + strides
10 miles

Saturday, 11/5: Central Park w/Jordan
4.5 mile w/u
Target: 8x1k @3:30 w/2 min. jog
Actual: 8x1k @slow w/2 min. jog
4 mile c/d
Total: 14 miles

Sunday, 11/6: West Side bike path, Prospect Park, Brooklyn w/Jay, Heidi and Jordan
1 hour 48 mins. + 7 mins. ; 16 miles

Wow, what an amazing weekend of all things running-related. If you aren't a fan of the sport you could probably think of better ways to spend a few days in the Big Apple, but as far as Jordan and I are concerned it was an absolute blast.

Things started out as is becoming routine these days with a lengthy car ride. Less than 48 hours removed from pulling our overladen Uhaul trailer up to Fort Sewall Lane, Jordan and I were back behind the wheel headed south. Our destination on Thursday night was Madeleine's place in Pleasantville, just north of NYC, and we reached it around 11pm. The sun wasn't even contemplating rising when the three of us awoke the next morning and set off for the amazing Rockefeller State Park trails. We could barely see for the first 40 minutes and spent a few dicey moments dodging fallen tree limbs from the previous weekend's snow, but it was blast tromping around in the woods for a bit before heading into the city. From there it was a whirlwind of activity as we moved from place to place meeting with various editors in conjunction with the Runner's World media summit. I've never been part of those types of meetings before, and it was valuable experience for me as I transition into my new role at Karhu.

Once the trip's primary business was finished, it was time to fully soak up the NYC Marathon weekend experience. For once, I was attending a major race without the intention of either running or working the expo, which is a rare experience not to be taken for granted. Over the course of the next two days we spent time with literally dozens of friends all involved in the marathon in some capacity or another, whether that meant racing or working the expo or supporting a loved one's race efforts. We saw friends from Charlotte, friends from Brown, friends from Brooks and Mizuno, friends from local running accounts and many more as we enjoyed great meals, visited the enormous expo and took down a pint or two. On Friday night we rubbed shoulders with the running industry elite at the Runner's World VIP party in Midtown, then bumped fists with the running nerd elite at the LetsRun.com soiree in Union Square. It was one part work, one part play and all parts exhausting, and by midnight I was already several hours overdue for bedtime.

Come Saturday morning, after a few much-needed hours of sleep and even more needed sips of coffee, it was time for a workout. Jordan and I waited until almost 11am before venturing out onto the bustling streets of Chelsea, a short but hectic two-mile jog from Central Park. He'd written 8x1k on my schedule at a pace I was confident I could nail despite the fact that we planned to use the soft surface of the reservoir and carriage trails. We entered the park and were immediately swept up in the excitement of the next day's race. The finish line and clocks were set up and the air fairly crackled with energy and buzzed with the voices of countless different nationalities all converging for one singular purpose. The spirit was infectious, and I trotted toward the reservoir with 100% certainty that I was about to knock the workout out of the park.

But remember earlier this week, when I learned that the way you feel during the warmup doesn't necessarily indicate how the workout will go? Turns out that can work against you just as easily as it can work in your favor. After two intervals I was in disbelief at how hard I was working to run so slowly. After the third interval it was so bad that Jordan took my watch away so I couldn't see the evidence. I would've dropped out in an instant had I been solo, but he encouraged--read: mandated--that I press on. After a particularly dismal seventh interval even Jordan was ready to pull the plug, but at that point I'd come so far that I wasn't about to quit. It was humbling and not a little embarrassing to know how royally I'd failed at this workout, particularly since it shouldn't have been that challenging to begin with, but what can you do? At the end of the day it's still time on the feet (barely) under marathon pace, and sometimes that's all you can ask for--particularly when you're wrapping up one of the most exhausting weeks of your entire life. To be sure, I spent a few minutes pouting on the cooldown, but with such an exciting weekend on tap and the crisp fall sunlight on my face it was hard to stay despondent for long.

If Saturday's run was decidedly lackluster, Sunday more than made up for it. Jordan and I met Jay--who, by sheer coincidence, literally lives one city block away from the friend we were crashing with--and then ran down to the West Side bike path to rendezvous with our friend Heidi. Jay had mapped out a route that would take us across the Manhattan Bridge and into Brooklyn, where we'd head all the way up to Prospect Park before finishing near the 8-mile mark of the race. Even more brilliantly, he'd timed the run so that we'd arrive just a few minutes before the elites were scheduled to pass. The run flew by in what seemed like only a few minutes, and before I knew it we were lined up with the other spectators eager to catch a glimpse of the day's contenders. Though I didn't know many of the top male competitors, our friend and roommate for the weekend Mike DeCoste would be shooting for 2:30 pace and of course we had Spada and Theoden and many others in pursuit. On the women's side, our good friend Kim Smith was gunning for the win and would be joined in the elite start by our friend Camille, my former D2 rival Sarah Porter and several other familiar faces. We stood literally inches from the course as Mary Keitany flew by well clear of the field, then cheered like crazy as Kim passed after the next chase pack. The men followed shortly thereafter, still bunched together in a small pack with Meb tightly wedged in the middle. At that point it was too soon to tell how the race would play out, and we were all eager to watch the remaining drama unfold. From there our group hopped onto the subway, each bound for different destinations to finish our race spectating. Turns out that Keitany's early recklessness would catch up with her, while Kim's patience meant she was able to secure a top five finish and a London Olympic birth. Records were shattered on the men's side with a simply extraordinary performance by Geoffrey Mutai, while Meb hung on to best his own personal record by several seconds. No matter who you were rooting for, the finish was inspiring to witness.

Several hours later, after reuniting with more friends (including a random run-in with our buddy Dave Nightingale in a ghetto grocery store on the Upper East Side), it was time to reluctantly say our goodbyes and head home. We still had a train ride and multiple hours in the car before returning to our barely lived in house in Marblehead. We were exhausted and already in need of a weekend to recover from our weekend, but I wouldn't trade the past few days for anything. If this experience doesn't get you pumped up to train and race, I don't know what will!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Ipswich Bike Path Tempo

3 mile w/u + strides
Target: 8 mile tempo @6:05-6:10 pace
Actual: 13k (8.08 miles) @50:00 (6:10 pace)
2 mile c/d
Total: 13 miles

After two consecutive days totaling 20+ hours in the car, a 10pm arrival to our new home in Marblehead and an alarmingly early 5:30 wakeup call on Wednesday, I was not super pumped about attempting this workout. My legs were still quite sore from packing and moving, not to mention tight from being crammed in the car, and I was running on little sleep. Fortunately/unfortunately, when your boyfriend also doubles as your roommate and coach, there's little chance of a workout like this not happening. We quietly packed our bags for work and sipped some coffee in the darkness before hopping back into the car a mere eight hours after we'd left it. Jordan knew of a flat unpaved bike path that he'd spotted near our office when he was driving to Newburyport a few weekends ago, and ever since then he'd pegged it as the site of my next tempo run. For better or worse, that run was happening today.

We found the path relatively easily despite the darkness and our unfamiliarity with the area, and after strapping on our headlamps we set off into the darkness. The cold and damp air permeated my multiple layers, and though I was wearing spandex shorts underneath my tights I doubted I would be able to strip down when the time came. Fortunately by the time we turned around halfway through the warmup the sky was lightening ever so slightly, and after 25 minutes of easy jogging I reluctantly admitted I'd be able to shed a few layers. Still, my body felt terrible. The strides were halfhearted at best, tired and sluggish, and though Jordan tried with uncharacteristic enthusiasm to pep me up I was having none of it. Before we began, I was 100% sure I was about to bomb this workout.

And then, inexplicably, quite the opposite happened. From the first few steps I found myself surprised at how easily the pace came. Jordan set the tempo and I clipped along with him, sometimes behind and sometimes beside, my stride fluid and my breathing relaxed. Often during tough efforts I catch myself engaging in negative self-talk and discouragement, but this morning my thoughts were positive and upbeat. Even when the path ran out unexpectedly and we had to make an unplanned u-turn, even when we had to literally mark time at several road crossings and waste precious seconds waiting for morning traffic to pass, I remained composed. With 4k to go we crossed the road where we'd parked our car and ventured over to a new side of the path, and I had every intention of crushing the final 15 minutes. Unfortunately, however, at that point the trail surface changed significantly. What had previously been firm, densely packed dirt and gravel now gave way to loose sand and rocks interspersed with awkward bumps and divots, all the while grading consistently uphill. In short, we'd left a greenway and found a cross-country course. The scenery and foliage was beautiful, and I'm sure I would've loved this path on another day, but for the purpose of this morning's run it was definitely sabotaging my efforts. I finally turned around with 2k to go and tried to pick the pace back up on the downhill slant, but overall the final section proved frustrating. That said, when I finished at 50 minutes I couldn't believe how manageable the workout felt relative to my body's (and life's) general state of shambles. On a paved surface without any interruptions I'm confident I could've run close to 6-minute pace with ease. I guess I need to always keep in mind that the way my body should feel or perform during a workout isn't necessarily indicative of how it actually will. It's important to keep an open mind and always remain optimistic rather than counting myself out before the first steps are taken. I'm sure there are more important lessons to learn in marathon training, but that one definitely has to be near the top of the list!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Week in Review

66 miles
0 doubles
1 workout
1 night as a flamingo
4 AFDs

True to plan, I took a glorious "down" week from running, which consisted of only one workout, no long run and absolutely no doubles. It was quite od
d. Also true to plan, I managed to make the most of my downtime by fitting in a massage with Byran, a stretching/bone cracking session at Greenapple Sports & Wellness, and plenty (read: too many) meals out with friends and glasses of wine. The week culminated with a wicked going away/costume party on Friday night, my best friend Brookelet's wedding on Saturday night (and also the only public event I've attended since knowing Jeff Gaudette during which he has not removed his shirt) and, much less enjoyable, a full 12-hour packing/boxing/loading/disposing marathon on Sunday. I was more sore from going up and down our stairs a hundred times than after the hardest workout in recent memory. It's a good thing I didn't have any grandiose running plans for the week, because it simply would not have been possible to fulfill them.


Walter White from "Breaking Bad," some loser who didn't
dress up, a saucy flamingo and her devil friend


Standing on one leg. It's what flamingos do.

If you thought I'd have a less hectic week on the horizon to start the month of November, you would be drastically mistaken. Tomorrow morning, bright and early, Jordan and I will lock the doors to our Uhaul trailer, unceremoniously dump our bewildered cat into the fully stuffed backseat of my car, and drive away from Charlotte forever. Well, definitely not forever, but for the time being. We hope to conclude our two-day drive sometime on Tuesday evening with our belongings intact and our kitty cat (and the areas of my car she will no doubt use as her personal litter box) no worse for the wear. We'll have less than two days to get somewhat settled in before jumping back in the car and heading down to the Big Apple for NYC Marathon weekend. For what might be the first time since starting my career in the running industry over five years ago, I'll be attending a major marathon without the intention of working the expo or participating in the event. Instead, Jordan and I will be joining our CEO and footwear designers for some industry media interviews on Friday plus a Runner's World party on Friday night. After that, the weekend is our oyster, and we plan to take advantage of the trip into the city by meeting up with friends from literally all over the country--some Charlotteans in town for the race, some industry peeps working the expo, some Brownies and some actual NYC residents--for a weekend of running, socializing and of course marathon spectating. As much as I desperately need a quiet weekend in our new place to spend some time settling in, there's absolutely no way I would pass up what's sure to be an amazing weekend in an equally amazing city. Time to hit the road!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

McAlpine Tempo Run

2 mile w/u
Target: 5 mile tempo @5:50ish pace; 5x30 sec. surges w/1 min. jog
Actual: 29:14 (5:50, 5:56, 5:54, 5:48, 5:46); 4 min. rest; 5x30 sec. w/1 min. jog

Once more for old time's sake, I met Caitlin an
d Pezz at Old Bell for some good, solid tempo action. I was not solo, as my friend Dane is in town for a quick visit and I somehow managed to convince him to join us for this early workout despite his body being firmly set in Mountain time. We all rolled up to the parking lot a few minutes early, a rare enough occurrence on its own, and promptly set off into the darkness for an easy warmup. The plan was for Pezz to start a few minutes ahead of us with a hard mile followed by a few minutes of rest, then join us as we passed the mile marker and continue on together for the rest of the tempo. The mid-40s temperature felt even colder down by the creek, but we all reluctantly shed our top layers in preparation for the hard effort ahead.

After only one brief costume change, Pezz charged out of the parking lot and onto the trail for her first mile. Caitlin, Dane and I stretched and dawdled around for a few minutes before setting off in hot pursuit. The first mile felt hard, as expected for the temperature and the early hour, but miraculously we went through exactly on pace. Dane, who is fighting a bum Achilles, wisely backed off after this mile while Caitlin and I rejoined Pezz. I wasn't feeling great and was worried that the two would immediately leave me in their wake, but to my relief (not that I wish a bad workout on anyone!), neither of them seemed to be feeling stellar either. We forged ahead together. By the two mile marker Pezz and I had put a slight gap on Caitlin, and I swiveled my head around to make sure she was sticking close. I wanted to shout some words of encouragement but I was already pressing to an uncomfortable level so I kept silent. Pezz and I ran side by side through three, then almost to four, when I saw Caitlin jogging across the pond toward us. Apparently she'd taken a short rest after the third mile and was now joining us so we could finish together. Her reappearance could not have come at a better time, as I was hurting and already contemplating dropping out. Legs buoyed from a few minutes of easy jogging, Caitlin bounded to the front of our train and seemed infused with a new energy. The final few minutes were dangerously close to the redline for me as I clung to them for dear life, resolving not to let down the group on what would surely be our final workout together for some time. We finished in unison, breathing ragged but satisfied with our efforts. After a few minutes of walking (yes, walking), I felt recovered enough to stride out my uptempo sections around the pond before we trotted back to Old Bell together. Regardless of the workout's outcome, I always consider it a privilege to run side by side with these talented ladies, something I'll sorely miss in Beantown. I may have to sneak back down this winter to get in some more workouts together!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Week in Review

85 miles
3 doubles
5 days in Dallas
5 AFDs

Overall I'd consider this a very successful week from just about every vantage point. I found a way to maintain the quality and quantity of my training despite a hectic travel schedule, enjoyed the opportunity to see some old friends and spend time with my parents, and helped the inaugural 13.1 Dallas event go off without a hitch. The remainder of my weekend following the event could not have been any better. I ate good food and took in a movie with my parents, got a facial with mom and took a leisurely early Sunday run with pops before leaving for the airport. Upon arriving to Charlotte I was picked up by Caitlin and reunited with my pr
ecious Weezy after two weeks sans snuggling, then capped off the evening with a costumed CRC fun run from Freedom Park. (Not having packed anything resembling a costume, I went dressed as a Karhu and Craft rep. Very clever.)


A motley crew at the CRC costume run

With only one week remaining in Charlotte (sniffle sniffle), I've got a lot of activity to pack into a short period of time (including literally packing). I need a massage from Byran, some bone cracking from Dr. Greenapple and a few quality runs with Caitlin and the CRC crew. I've also got a stellar weekend to look forward to, beginning with our very own going away party hosted by Caitlin and Rebecca and culminating with the wedding of my dearest friend Brooke on Saturday night. And did I mention packing? We plan to be on the road at some point on Sunday for one more epic northbound drive. With such a busy week on tap, it's a relief that this is a planned down period for my training. After six consecutive weeks of 80+ miles, I'll drop down to 60ish this week with only one light workout planned. My 10-week (gulp!) Trials training plan starts November 1st, and the goal is to wake up next Monday feeling fresh, strong and eager to tackle the miles ahead. I've worked hard since rebounding from injury in early September to lay a good foundation for my winter training, and after a surprisingly good race at Army 10 Miler and a reasonably not bad race at 13.1 Dallas, I'm confident in where my fitness stands right now. The building blocks are in place; now it's time to rest up and prepare for what lies ahead!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

13.1 Dallas Race Recap

~1.5 mile w/u
13.1 miles @1:19:58*
3rd female, $250; Results
Total: 14-15 miles
*includes bathroom break (oops)

As is always the case at 13.1 races, I was up way too early for a Saturday morning to help set up the Craft and Karhu tents. Fortunately my parents arrived yesterday, which means I was able to stay with them at the Marriott mere blocks from the start instead of at the ghetto LaQuinta with the external rooms where I had the pleasure of sleeping with one eye open on Wednesday and Thursday. So I got to sleep in until the indulgent hour of 4:45, which was lovely.

Immediately upon stepping outside into the early morning darkness, I was chagrined to discover that the air was significantly warmer and more humid than any other day since my Wednesday arrival. Earlier in the week I'd run in capris and long sleeves, but with the temperature hovering around 65 and a humidity percentage in the 80s, I was already uncomfortable in my lightweight jacket. This did not bode well for my upcoming race performance, but there wasn't exactly anything I could do about it. I jogged over to the start/finish area and spent the next 90 minutes setting up our space and preparing for a morning of sales. Before I knew it there were fewer than 30 minutes until the start which left little time for dawdling. I quickly warmed up with my friend A
ndrew, then hustled over to a construction site with the hopes of finding a port-a-potty without a line 30 deep. Victory attained, I stripped down to my skivvies under the Karhu tent and then made my way to the start. I recognized several familiar faces from my previous time in the DFW running community, as well as a few speedy ladies who I knew would be contending for the prize purse. One was Melissa Cook, a multiple-time All-American from Texas A&M and a multiple-time Olympic Trials qualifier as well. She's been around for years and is legit. I also spotted Justyna Mudy, whom I recognized from her 1:17 performance on the horrific hills of 13.1 Atlanta a few weeks ago. No question they were both fit, and likely out of my league. I spotted a few other potential contenders but was confident I could run with anyone else in the field.

Once the race began, it quickly became apparent that the placing would be anticlimactic, at least from my perspective. A relaxed 5:58 first mile put me at least 20 seconds behind Melissa
and Justyna and the same distance ahead of all the other women in the field. Though a considerable gap would form on either side of me as the race progressed, my placement would not. Around mile 2 I caught up to a group of guys and inquired if I could tuck in for a few miles. "Sure!" they enthusiastically replied before sprinting off and leaving me alone once again. For much of the race this is how I would remain, though I didn't mind much. Years of living in this area enabled me to recognize almost every street on the course, which was surprisingly comforting. Though my legs were heavy, my breathing felt calm and relaxed, and I made it through the early miles by repeatedly reminding myself that the Katy Trail section would begin at mile 7. This would mean a straight, gradual downhill for almost four miles, and I knew I could use that real estate to make up for some slower early miles as we gradually meandered to the top of the trail.

During mile 9, however, a situation arose. Had my personal race been closer, had a championship of some sort been on the line, perhaps I would hav
e tried to fight through it. Instead, with several minutes separating me from the next woman on either side, I didn't think twice about scampering into a port-a-potty near the side of the trail a few minutes later. Ironically, my split of 6:26 for this mile (including the stop), my slowest of the day, would've actually been my fastest had the brief detour not been necessary. Oh well. Mentally the break did nothing to dampen my spirits as I knew the finish line was within reach, and once we exited the trail near the American Airlines Center I had no doubt that I could push through for two more miles. It certainly didn't help that the last of those miles was almost entirely uphill, the steepest and longest grade in any direction on the course, and with mere minutes to go I got passed by two guys who had been trailing me for the entire race. I desperately tried to latch onto them, succeeding for a few strides, before watching helplessly as they pulled away. Frustrated, I almost shut things down and shuffled in until I rounded the final turn and saw that I could still edge under the 1:20 barrier. I crossed the line just a few ticks under, happy to set a new (admittedly weak) PR and score a few bucks. The last time I raced a half in Dallas was at the 2007 White Rock Half-Marathon, when I was pleased to run 1:26:30 and just barely miss a then-personal best. It's easy to get discouraged now when the top women finish leagues ahead of me, but looking at how far I've come helps put things in perspective.


Karhu Sisu congratulates me, Melissa and Justyna

But enough about me. Let's discuss the real noteworthy Nedlo performance of the day, that of my dad John. Not only did J-Ned win his age group, but he also ran his fastest time in years, a blistering 1:36. Oh, and did I mention he is 62?! Simply incredible. I wish I could've seen the faces of the guys half his age as he left them in his dust. After several years of struggling with injury and motivation, rarely breaking 1:45 in his half-marathon attempts, my dad has finally been able to string together an entire year of solid training (and, not coincidentally, an entire year of solid training in Karhus), enabling him to absolutely crush his goal for the day. Congrats, Dad!


Me, Andrew and my coworker Tinley slinging shoes post-race