Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Need For Speed

20 min. w/u (2.5 miles)
Target (in minutes): 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 2, 2, 2, 1, 1, 1 all w/1 min. recovery
Actual: Above
16 min. c/d (2 miles)
Total: 10.5-11 miles

Caitlin's house, Freedom Park, Booty Loop.

I need to update the details on this but it's time for bed and I have an early flight in the AM. Just wanted to write this down before the week got away from me. It wasn't super fast, but it's a step in the right direction!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Week in Review

70 miles
4? doubles
8 hours in NYC
36 hours in Boston
30+ hours for 100x5k

This week wasn't especially well executed in terms of training, but I somehow managed to cobble together a fairly decent mileage total and three semi-workouts (two extemporaneous tempo runs during the week and one freezing cold 5k on the track on Sunday). If Sunday's run showed me anything, it's that I need to start incorporating some speedier work into my training immediately. Though my knee/IT band still isn't 100%, it paradoxically feels better the harder I run, so at least that won't provide me with any excuses.

Looking ahead to next week, I'll be home for the first few days and then I'm off to the Big Apple again for 13.1 NYC. The race is on Saturday morning, a departure from the more traditional Sunday start, and I'm taking advantage of my time in the city by staying over on Saturday night with my friend and Jordan's former teammate Madeleine. We plan on hitting up the town and staying out until at least 11pm, so needless to say things could get pretty crazy.The only thing that could make me more excited about the week ahead would be a reprieve from the frigid temperatures and snow showers that loom in next weekend's NYC forecast. I swear, spring has to be coming soon, right?? In the meantime, I'll take advantage of this opportunity to bundle up in my Craft base layers for (hopefully) the last time this year and enjoy a few runs along the bridle path in Central Park. New York City, here I come!

CRC Breaks the 100x5k World Record!

Target: Break the 100x5k world record (37:12:53--22:30 avg.) set by the Florida Striders in Dec. 2010
Actual: Victory! 30:56:49 (18:32/5:58 avg.)

Runner #100 Johnny C. bringing it home

Despite temperatures never topping 40 degrees and at least 20 hours of non-stop rain, we did it! Charlotte Running Club is now the (pending) world record holder in the oh-so-frequently contested 100x5k event. I knew that if I waited long enough Caitlin would do the work of writing a blog recap for me, so please see her detailed summary here. I do want to reiterate how much time and hard work was undertaken by so many club members (and, in some cases, club members' family members!) to make this event a rousing success. And while I think all of us involved in this record pursuit would readily acknowledge that the 100x5k is a fairly obscure distance, I don't think that in any way detracts from how impressive it is that we managed to coordinate 100 different people to show up on time, wear their numbers and chips properly, run the correct amount of laps and somehow do it all at an average pace of faster than six minutes per mile.

Waiting for the handoff from JSK

As for my own 5k leg, it was somewhat underwhelming. I went into it hoping I could run 17:15 or better solo in the less-than-ideal weather conditions without having done hardly any workouts over the past month and, shockingly, it didn't happen. I haven't seen an official split yet but I think I ran right at or just under 17:40. My body felt strong and my stride felt powerful throughout, but after opening up with an 80-second first lap I fell into a rut of 84-86 seconds that I couldn't really extricate myself from until the final few minutes. Oh well. If this is where my fitness is at right now then this is where it's at, no excuses. More importantly, I was able to take the baton from Jordan after he ran a respectable 16:05 for his first workout/race back after being sidelined by an Achilles injury for almost all of 2011. To barely run for three months and still record one of the top five fastest times of the entire event is not too shabby as far as I'm concerned. After my own unremarkable performance I handed off to leg #100 John Compton who completed the JMJ sandwich and ran the fastest split of the weekend, something around 15:15. (It is also worth noting that the fastest female award goes to none other than fourteen-year-old Alana Hadley, who managed an eye-popping 17:08 PR on Saturday afternoon.)

Caitlin and I being unsuspectingly "photo-bombed" by Jordan

A few other notable moments from the weekend:
1. Matt Jaskot rummaging through a trash can in the infield dressed as the Karhu bear. Me: Why were you digging through the trash? Matt: I was in character! If a bear were here right now I guarantee he would go straight for the trash can.
2. Mike Kahn running around the infield with a boom box on his shoulder so that Caitlin could have her requested music during her leg.
3. Emily Barrett gamely agreeing to run an "extra" leg (we did a few at the end just for insurance) after having spent more time than anyone else at the track for the previous 30 hours.
4. Spada apparently (I did not witness this) running shirtless with a handpainted CRC logo emblazoned on his stomach.
5. Aaron printing up the "100x5k world record holders" t-shirts prior to the event, Superbowl style.
6. Stan Austin running his exact predicted time (18:40) in the POURING ra
in in the middle of the night on Saturday. You win a free pair of Karhus!

Stan the Man after his duck run late Saturday night.

Many thanks to everyone who made this event a huge success and a great bonding opportunity for the club members!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Publix Georgia Marathon Weekend

Before I get into the details of the weekend, allow me to present a brief outline of my work schedule:

10am to 4pm: Drive to Birmingham, AL
5pm to 8pm: First Annual Karhu Madness Extravaganza @Trak Shak
8pm to 12am: Drive to Atlanta

8am to 6pm: Expo setup @Georgia Dome


8am to 12pm: Expo setup/prep
12pm to 7pm: Expo

6am to 9am: Karhu 5k and "Beat the Bear" promo
10am to 6pm: Expo
6pm to 9pm: Booth teardown
9pm to 10pm: Delivery of booth to finish area in Centennial Park


6am to 2pm: Finish line festival

So, given the above, you shouldn't be too surprised to learn that my weekend didn't involve a whole lot of running. This was largely due to the all-encompassing work schedule, but in truth my low mileage (I think I topped out around 35, but it's too pathetic a number to seriously add up) can also be attributed to a sore left knee/IT band. I think last weekend's double race effort may have been too much too soon after the marathon, and unfortunately I'm paying the price this week. The worst part is, had my knee been a non-issue, I had every intention of racing the half-marathon on Sunday and contending for the $1000 prize purse. Part of me hoped the winner would run a ridiculously fast time, something so absurdly out of reach that I wouldn't have been able to compete on my best day, but unfortunately the first place time of 1:21:55 was not particularly remarkable. (That said, my buddy Leo deserves a shout-out for winning the men's race by a full seven minutes in 66:53 on an extremely hilly course. He may not have that Trials qualifier yet, but I have no doubt he'll achieve it within the coming months.) Instead of racing, I played things uncharacteristically safe and took both Saturday and Sunday off from running. On Sunday afternoon I hit the hotel gym for core and elliptical, but Saturday was completely free of exercise (minus, you know, 14 hours of working on my feet and what not).

My badass electric acupuncture treatment on Tuesday night,
courtesy of the one and only Dr. Greenapple

Fortunately, the overall craziness of the weekend kept me so busy that I hardly had a free moment to think about my running (or lack thereof). The 20,000+ participant Publix Georgia Marathon is the largest event that Craft and Karhu has sponsored to date, and I am thrilled to report that it was a huge success. More importantly than the copious amount of footwear and apparel we sold is the brand awareness and publicity that we delivered to the Atlanta market and to the Southeast in general. Our booth was jam packed from open to close both days and I lost count of the positive comments we received from customers and other exhibitors. The "Beat the Bear" promotion also went swimmingly, as our bear ran just over 20 minutes and beat nine competitors in the 5k. He also spent several hours roaming the expo and posing for photos with children--or, as was the case on more than one occasion, causing them to scream and/or cry and/or run in the opposite direction--and by the end of the weekend the Karhu Bear had endeared himself as the most popular mammal of the entire event!

The bear meets a few of his biggest littlest fans

Bearing down the home stretch of the 5k

The bear was on Comcast Sports South!

So, after such a busy and exhausting weekend, I'll indulge in a full 48 hours at home before embarking on another adventure. Next up: NYC City Sports run club in Central Park on Wednesday night, then a few days in Boston/Beverly with the corporate gang before returning home for this weekend's CRC 100x5k world record attempt. Aaaaand go.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Week in Review

83 miles
4 doubles
2 races
4 runs in the District

Yup, that's us with Mufasa in the background. NBD.

Another busy, fun, challenging week draws to a close. Looking back at my goals from last week, I succeeded in increasing my mileage and definitely in upping the intensity. My two days of back to back racing have left me with a bit of a sore left knee/IT band, so I will probably take things pretty easy tomorrow and try to get in to see someone at Dr. Greenapple's office ASAP. Still, it was totally worth it. As my friend, Pacer's manager Robbie Wade, said to me after our race through the National Mall on Sunday morning, it's not often that you have a chance to run down the most important street in the entire world and have it closed down just for you. (And he's not even American, so there was no ethnocentric bias to his comment!)

As is often the case with these trips, one of the best parts was the opportunity to spend some much-needed quality time with friends. D-Night was once ag
ain gracious enough to allow us to crash with him for three nights, plus we got to hang out with several of Jordan's friends from college including Tushar (who is brand new to DC and possibly more directionally challenged than I am), Ben Clark (not to be confused with his doppelganger Pat Clark or his other doppelganger Napoleon Dynamite), pong host extraordinaire George McArdle and the famous/infamous Ben Stern. Our weekend culminated with a late Sunday brunch at Open City--a favorite of Jilane's--and a spontaneous yet thoroughly rewarding trip to the National Zoo! We arrived back to Dave's on Sunday night exhausted and content and smelling vaguely like monkeys--in short, a perfect way to end the week.

Tush, Ben S., Jordan and Ben C. taking a stroll through their natural habitat

Looking ahead, next week promises to be even crazier as the Georgia Marathon looms on the horizon. This is our first year as the title sponsor so it will be all hands on deck from early Thursday morning until late Sunday night. I'm also squeezing in a trip to one of my favorite accounts in the entire world, the Trak Shak, for a Karhu-sponsored fun run and St. Patty's Day costume contest on Wednesday night. Winner gets a free pair of green Karhus! Bring your green hat! If you're reading this in the Birmingham or Atlanta area, be sure to stop by and visit me sometime this week. It's going to be non-stop action and excitement and of course I wouldn't have it any other way.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Double the Treasure, Double the Fun

Saturday, 3/12
Four Courts Four Miler
23:43, 1st female, $100

Sunday, 3/13
St. Patrick's Day 8k
29:31*, 6th female (boo), $100 (yay)
*23:40 through 4 miles

So the title is a play on words...get it...treasure because of the sweet dolla dolla bills and also because treasure is what a leprechaun finds (or leads us too, I can't really remember) at the end of the rainbow on St. Patty's Day! Okay so it might be a bit of a stretch but just know that I am laughing at my own perceived cleverness. Perhaps it's my current state of travel- and work- and running-induced exhaustion that has me spouting bad puns. I'm definitely too tired to finish this blog entry right now but wanted to post up the results so that you don't think I've been slacking all week. Details to come, hopefully tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

May Angels Lead You In

4 mile w/u + strides
Target: 5x6 mins. w/2:30 rest, starting @5:50 down to 5:30; 4x90 secs. hard w/2 min. jog
Actual: 5xmile @5:50, 5:49, 5:43, 5:48, 5:40; 4x90 secs. hard
10 min. c/d
Total: 12+ miles

Within minutes of waking up this morning I learned the tragic news of Sally Meyerhoff's death. Instantly my heart sank and all previous worries about my workout suddenly seemed inconsequential, almost silly. Though I didn't know Sally well, I've always admired her fearless spirit and seemingly indomitable capacity for hard work. Sally was only 27, just a year younger than me, and she undoubtedly had a bright and robust future ahead of her. Possibly the saddest aspect of this tragedy is that it seems as though it could've been avoided. Sally was a seasoned athlete and well-versed on the rules of the road, and yet she made a small mistake that engendered devastating consequences. How often do any of us hit the streets for a run or ride with careless abandon, failing to notice--or worse, choosing to ignore--potentially dangerous traffic situations because we feel invincible and have gotten away with the same recklessness a thousand times before? For me personally, today's news was a sobering reminder that none of us are immune from these risks. I would implore you to never take your safety, or the awareness of other drivers and pedestrians, for granted. Please, please be careful out there.

With heavy legs and even heavier hearts, Caitlin and Billy and I dedicated our workout this morning to Sally and the people who loved her the most. Our run was not particularly good--in fact, it was one of the poorer workouts I've had in some time--but we all understood that wasn't the point. To quote Caitlin, Sally was on our minds every step of the way. "The only thing that matters today is that I have the opportunity to live and breathe, which is something that should not be taken for granted. You are in our hearts, Sally!"

May angels lead you in
Hear you me my friends
On sleepless roads the sleepless go
May angels lead you in

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Week in Review

75 miles
3 doubles
4 days in FL
6 AFDs

This first week back to "normal" training was good, not great, but probably the best that could be expected given my crazy travel and work schedule. Next week I hope to increase the mileage while maintaining the intensity (i.e., completing two workouts in some form or fashion). It's good to be back!

13.1 Miami Beach 5k

~2 mile w/u + strides
Target: 5k race @hard effort
Actual: 18:09 (1st female, 2nd finisher overall)
1/2 mile c/d
Total: 6 miles

Wow, so much to say about this weekend's 13.1 event and so little of it has to do with my running. In fact, as you can see from my results above, the weekend was so nuts nuts nuts that I ended up deciding to "race" the 5k instead of the half marathon; even at that, we were so slam packed at the Karhu and Craft booth that I'm almost embarrassed to count the few minutes that comprised my warmup and cooldown as they were so scattered. Though the race began at 6:23am, a time when I am rarely awake much less trying to run hard, my "cooldown" didn't take place until roughly five hours later when I was sprinting back to my South Beach hotel in an attempt to shower and check out in time to make my afternoon flight. So, why was the morning so crazy? Let's start from the beginning.

In the beginning, my alarm went off at 4:15. And I hit the snooze button. By 4:35 I begrudgingly acknowledged that I could not afford to sleep any later, so I w
oke up and dazedly began going through the motions of getting dressed for a run and preparing for a morning of Craft and Karhu sales. As I jogged the half mile from the hotel to the race start in Lummus Park, I couldn't help but be amused/amazed by the masses of people who were still milling about enjoying their Saturday night while I was up early to begin my Sunday morning. They say NYC is the city that never sleeps, but based on my weekend here in Miami I would argue that South Beach during Spring Break could easily contend for that title. At any rate, I arrived at the race site just before 5:00 and immediately began setting up our race booth along with my coworkers Nora and Aaron and our partners from Runner's Depot. As is always the case at 13.1 events, our goal was to be set up and ready to rock before most of the participants arrived. For a 7 or 8am start this is often challenging enough, but for today's 6am start it required an even more concentrated effort. Fortunately we worked like champs and had things ready to rock and roll within the hour, which gave me just enough time to jog five minutes out and back while the half marathoners were lining up. Normally I'd prefer to run the half at these events, but given the proximity to my recent marathon and, more significantly, the less than ideal weather--80 degrees, 90% humidity and windy--I must confess I was relieved that I'd only have to run hard for 20 minutes or so. Little did I know then that my own aversion to the weather would be the least of our concerns.

Once the half-marathoners set off at 6:13, we 5kers lined up. Though I'd almost been awake for two hours, the barely lightening sky and my general fatigue from the weekend made the idea of running a race seem preposterous. I lined up near the front of the pack and spent a few minutes enjoying the antics of Karhu the Bear, who was suited up and making a show of stretching out before the race began. Due to the success of LA's "Beat the Bear" promotion we decided to extend the same challenge here: any participants who beat the bear during the 5k would win a free pair of Karhu shoes. In LA our bear ran 18:45 and was beaten by less than 15 people; today we expected our bear to run closer to 21 minutes and hopefully fall in behind 20 or fewer finishers. Didn't that turn out to be wishful thinking...

Karhu the bear during happier times, warming up
for the 5k

The race began just before 6:30, and almost immediately I shot toward the front (after spending the first 20-30 meters navigating around people who had no business taking up the first row of the starting line, of course). Within the first 400 meters it became clear that there would be one guy leading the way, then a decent gap, then myself following suit, then another decent gap, then everyone else. I won't bore you with the details as that's a verbatim description of how the race unfolded, save for myself taking an accidental 10-20 second detour in the wrong direction midway through the third mile. As soon as I crossed the finish line I grabbed a bottle of water--it sure was warm and humid, even without a furry mascot suit--and stayed in the finishing chute to wait for our bear to finish.

I waited. And waited. After a few minutes, I was excited. As more and more people came trickling in, I grew anxious. By the time the race clock ticked past 25 minutes, I became concerned. A few seconds later our bear staggered across the line, literally dazed and confused and more or less suffer
ing from heat exhaustion. Aaron immediately escorted him to the medical tent and I immediately sprinted back to the Karhu booth. A whopping 97 people had beaten our bedraggled and overheated bear, and that could only mean that things were about to get crazy in Karhu land. Sure enough, the next time I looked at my watch over two hours had passed, and the hoopla didn't die down and allow us to pack up until almost 11. To be sure, the buzz surrounding the brand was exciting to behold, but it also made for an absolutely exhausting morning. If I was spared the fatigue of running 13.1 miles, I think it's safe to say the morning madness more than made up for it. Believe it or not, our bear was such a trooper that he returned to the Karhu booth to help pitch in even after spending almost an hour in the medical tent. Now that's the indomitable Finnish "sisu" that our brand celebrates! Karhu the bear may have taken more of a beating than he (or we!) planned for today, but I can guarantee you that he'll be back on his feet and swifter than ever at our next event, the Georgia Marathon 5k on March 20th. In the meantime, I think he and I both need a well-deserved hibernation, er, nap.

Me with one of the 97 (!!) people who beat the bear
and earned a free pair of Karhu shoes

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Rustbuster Workout

2.5 mile w/u + strides
Target: 5k course uptempo (~6:10-6:15 pace), 4 mins. jog; 9xpond loop (600m) w/2 mins. jog: first 3 "easy," middle three "medium," last three "hard"
Actual: 5k @19:11 (6:11, 6:15 (hill), 6:02); 2:09, 2:10, 2:13, 2:04, 2:04, 2:06, 2:01, 2:00, 1:59
1.5 mile c/d
Total: 11-11.5 miles

As the title would suggest, I fully expected to feel a bit rusty during my first workout since the marathon. Having not dipped below 7:30 pace in two and a half weeks, I found myself feeling uncharacteristically nervous as Jordan and I drove out to McAlpine for today's effort. Fortunately Mother Nature provided me with a beautiful, gorgeous, perfect day for a workout, so clear and sunny that I was almost willing to overlook the gusts of wind intermittently whipping around the pond. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I planned to undertake this workout solo. Normally I have Caitlin or at least Jordan along for the ride, but the mid-day hour and Jordan's bum Achilles meant that neither would be able to accompany me. Fortunately Jordan was willing to take my splits; in hindsight, I might've bailed during the tough second section of the workout had he not been there to hold me accountable.

After an easy warmup and some strides I was ready to begin. Seconds before starting, Jordan demanded that I hand over my watch; a cheap trick, I thought, given that I'm hardly a good judge of pace right now. Though he promised to meet me at the mile markers to read my splits, I would largely be running on feel. I took off with the wind at my back and felt great through the first mile, nice and relaxed, and was relieved to hear Jordan calling out my split right on pace. The second mile was a bit tougher due to the hill and the wind around the pond, but the third mile is where I really felt uncomfortable. My breathing was fine, but my entire body felt tight and stiff. My footfalls sounded harder than normal and my stride couldn't have been less fluid. This split ended up being the fastest of the bunch (and don't worry, Jordan moved down farther than the marker to accomodate for this being the "short" mile), but it was also the most frustrating as I was never able to find a rhythm. As soon as I finished I began jogging around the pond, mentally telling myself to put that section behind me and focus on the shorter 600-meter loops to come.

Looking back, the last time I did a somewhat similar workout was just before Club XC Nats in December. I ran that bear of a session with Caitlin and Jordan, beginning with mile and hill repeats and finishing up with 5xpond loop. I remember the weather conditions being similar today and being grateful to have Jordan's ample girth to tuck in behind as we ran into the wind around the lake. Today I would have no such luxury, and it really made a difference both mentally and physically. I felt decent during the "easy" portion (not sure what happened with the 2:13 that snuck in there), but about halfway through I told Jordan that the "medium" intervals felt quite a bit harder than the intended effort. Not only have I not worked out in weeks, but the wind was really starting to wear me down. That said, I was pleasantly surprised to be able to find another gear and finish out the workout as planned despite having to navigate an obstacle course that included, in no particular order of annoyance, a lunging dog, a flock (herd?) of inconsiderate mallards and a variety of wayward pedestrians. My legs were toasted at the end, but I got it done. Though this workout was far short of remarkable, things certainly could have been worse. I'm sure I'll be sore tomorrow, but I have to say it feels good to be back.