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
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 "" 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.


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


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 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!