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

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.