Sunday, December 16, 2012

#conradical Week in Review

50-51 miles
14-mile long run with Emily
90 minutes of hot yoga
5 AFDs

Despite the fact that I still only logged half as many miles as a "normal" week, I do feel like I got my life back on track to a reasonable degree. As it turns out, barely running affords plenty of time for luxuries like stretching, core work and even yoga, all of which have been vigorously performed with the goal of zipping up my bridesmaid dress for Caitlin's wedding a mere two weeks from now.

Though everything about it runs contrary to the objectives I just outlined, I will admit that I had a great time at the #conradical pub crawl hosted by Terry and Carly on behalf of the BAA on Saturday. It was pretty #conradical to see everyone in civilian attire as opposed to sweaty running clothes. (As a result, I only recognized 1/3 of the faces I spoke to.) On a related note, apparently it takes more than six people with a collective total of 1000 Twitter followers to generate enough momentum for something like #conradical to start trending. But, rest assured, not for lack of trying.


Still nothing? Damn.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Week in Review

55 miles
0 days off
4 days in Texas
2? AFDs

I figured I'd hit somewhere around 40 this week and was surprised to add up the final tally. I didn't feel great at any point but that's to be expected thanks to a lingering cold and an uncharacteristic rock-star lifestyle. Next week I pledge to try to get my life back on track.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Running Event: Indie 5k

2-3 mile w/u + strides
Target: win
Actual: 5th place, 17:05
3-4 mile c/d
Total: ~10 miles

If you've never been to The Running Event, it really is difficult to describe. I've heard it labeled the four most important days of the year in the running industry, which is debatable. One thing is certain, however; there's really no other event within the span of a year that brings together everyone involved in the business of running, from local independent retailers and their employees to brand reps to media outlets to elite runners. Hell, even's Wejo made the trip down to Austin for a few days. Regardless of your purpose or perspective, most attendees view TRE as the confluence of a lot of work, a little bit of running, even less sleep, and drinking. Lots of drinking. All of this makes it all the more remarkable that the Indie 5k, a quiet, non-prize money race open only to TRE participants and held at the crack of dawn on a super hilly course on a weekday morning, is arguably one of the most competitive per capita races in the country.

Last year, no one was as surprised as me to see myself crowned the "Fastest Vendor in America" with a relatively pedestrian 17:22 winning time. This year, despite marathon fatigue still lingering in my legs, I hoped to repeat my title. Having done practically nothing faster than a jog since my 5k cross-country outing the day after Thanksgiving, I wasn't super optimistic. My already tepid confidence waned even further as I spotted at least a handful of other legit-looking women on the starting line. Not wanting to endure his own soul-crushing defeat at the hands of Bobby Mack, Mike Morgan, Andrew Leatherby and who knows how many other ridiculously fit guys (some companies actually fly in their ringers for the sole purpose of earning bragging rights at the race), Jordan gamely offered to drag me along. I had no idea if it would help from a physical perspective, but I was hardly in a position to say no.

To be honest, I could share a minute-by-minute recap of the race, but I'd rather not. Not because it's particularly embarrassing, but merely because there's nothing exciting about detailing the myriad ways that every passing minute felt harder and crappier than the previous one. Simply put, I'm tired. And, despite my refusal to admit it, sick. I knew that going in, and I still pushed as hard as I could, but there was really nothing more for me to give.

The irony, of course, is that I ran over 15 seconds faster than last year, essentially tying my 5k road PR in the process, and yet still finished in an underwhelming 5th place. (The results above are split into three categories; manufacturers (i.e., brands like Karhu), retailers (running store employees), and owners (store and manufacturer owners). Technically I could've still retained my title of "fastest retailer in America" had I won the manufacturer category and still lost overall, but as it happens the top 1-5 women all hailed from the same category. Awesome.)

Going into this race, my only goal was to win. Afterward, however, I was more bummed that I'd once again come so close to dipping below 17 minutes on the road and yet still fallen short. I immediately asked Jordan if I could hop into a faster, flatter road race back home in Boston before the end of the year, a notion he instantly shot down. My season, says the coach, is over.

I'm not going to lie; I pouted for a few unattractive seconds. Then we jogged back to the hotel with men's winner and fellow North Carolinian Bobby Mack, and then I spread the gospel of Karhu and Craft all day, and then I cultivated a raging hangover for the following morning courtesy of the Brooks party and all the free booze on the expo floor. And maybe this was just the cheap white wine talking, but by the end of the day the Indie 5k was already a distant memory.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Week in Review

38ish miles
2 days off
4 days in NC
0 AFDs

Epic life week. Horrific running week. Thank goodness that's as it should be right now. Have I mentioned I'm so glad I picked a mid-November marathon??

Caitlin's Bachelorette Weekend in Pictures

I'm surprising Caitlin at her bachelorette party! Rule #1: find a good hiding spot. This one wasn't quite right.

Then my partner in crime found the perfect thing: a child-size (aka my size) stocking!

This is me (plus three pillows) in "the sack." Caitlin arrived to open her present...

...and SURPRISE! Sweet lord, was it hot in there.

A toast to the beautiful bride-to-be (and to me not suffocating).

Because Saturday morning of every runner girls' bachelorette weekend begins with a group run.
Michelle's streak of terrible mid-stride facial expressions did not end here.

A beautiful morning at Umstead State Park in Raleigh.

How do you make a 10-mile run last two hours? Stop every five minutes for photos. Good thing we're all in the off-season.

Post-run stretching. Totes candid.

Ready for a legit night out. Like, past 10pm. Guess whose color is natural...

"My head feels itchy!"

Our night wouldn't be complete without "the sack." It's like a snuggie with bells!

3/4 hot and 1/4 tranny...I think.

Sunday morning: Dalena's car battery dying and Michelle not wanting the party to end were completely unrelated.

Matching in mustard for Michelle's birthday dinner.

Happy 29th! Ah, to be young again. Happy to finish an amazing weekend celebrating with my fabulous hostess.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Week in Review

32 miles
3 days off
14 miles at Battle Road
1 AFD (new record!)

Autumn at Battle Road
I probably shouldn't have run 14 miles today, but there was great company (Jordan, Terry, Jenn and a BAA crew) and a great venue (the always pleasing Battle Road) and, well, the loop is 14 miles. I could've turned around by myself at the five-mile mark before the Great Meadow section, but what's the fun in that? However, by the final 30 minutes my legs were screaming righteous indignation and my hamstrings felt tighter than at any point during last Sunday's marathon. I need a day off and a massage, both of which are in the plan for tomorrow. And hey, if these are my biggest gripes one week removed from Philly, I can't really complain.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Fifth Annual Gabe's Run 5k XC Challenge

5k w/u
Target: Win, break course record (sub-18:40)
Actual: 18:25, 1st place and new CR
2 mile c/d
Total: 8 miles

I know what you're thinking: "Umm...didn't you just run a marathon four days ago?!" Well technically yes, but in my defense this race has been on the calendar for quite some time, and for good reason. 

Pre-race photo opp with my coworker Scott, his fiancee Jen and his brother
I didn't know much--nothing, really--about Gabe's Run until a few months ago, when my boss Eric mentioned it. The race takes place just a few miles from his house in Hamilton, which is the next town over from where we work in Beverly, which is just north of our home in Salem. Gabe's Run takes place in memory of a Hamilton High graduate who was bound to run at Dartmouth when he was tragically killed in a car accident the summer after his senior year. Now in its fifth year, Gabe's Run has swelled to almost 800 participants and benefits a student-athlete scholarship fund in Gabe's honor. As far as race beneficiaries go, I can't think of a better one to support. So for the past month or so, Eric and I have been recruiting other Karhu and Craft employees to participate--largely by promising brunch at Eric's house afterward--and even Eric's 7-year-old daughter Ella was eager to tackle her second ever 5k endeavor. I held off on signing up until after the marathon just in case any part of my body imploded in a serious way, but after three days off and a tentative tester jog on Thursday I was confident I could at least shuffle around the course in one piece.

Admittedly, Jordan had initially been against the idea of me racing. But as we began slowly tracing the course on our warmup jog, something seemed to change. Having not really participated in cross-country since high school--Club Nats two years ago at McAlpine's glorified dirt road hardly counts--I really had no grasp of effective racing strategy. Jordan offered several pointers and helpfully suggested that I better "beat all the high school girls if I wanted a ride home." In fact, his last words to me before sending me off to the starting line--the men's and women's races were run separately--were, "The course record is 18:40." So much for no pressure.

Of course, 18:40 isn't exactly fast--but then, neither is the terrain. Deemed a "true" cross-country course by Jordan, most of the route traverses uneven, grassy fields and rocky dirt paths. The real gauntlet comes at 4k, when runners are forced to claw their way to the top of Scilly's Hill. I'm always wary of topographical features that necessitate their own nomenclature, and this one was no exception. A steep, rocky, rooty ascent that goes on much too far--for reference, it's steeper than the McAlpine hill and about three times as long--Scilly's Hill was designed to break people. Possibly me. Still, Jordan and I had talked strategy and I felt good about keeping my composure and, in theory, the lead past that point.

That is, until I stepped up to the starting line and spotted a familiar looking figure in a Dartmouth uniform.

"F@#k me, that's Abbey D'Agostino," I thought to myself (and hopefully didn't say out loud, but I can't be entirely certain.)

If you don't know who Abbey D'Agostino is, a quick search of the 'ol interwebs should tell you that she is the reigning NCAA 5k national champion, came within hundredths of a second of taking a free trip to London last summer, and as recently as last weekend placed second at the NCAA D1 cross-country championships. In other words, it didn't matter whether I ran a marathon yesterday or last year; there was no conceivable scenario in which my legs would be fresh enough (never mind fit enough) to challenge her. It was looking as though the exercise of running the race was a mere formality.

I stepped up to the far edge of the starting line, hoping I would have a straight shot across the field when the course narrowed. The announcer was rambling on about this and that, seemingly building up to an elaborate countdown to the start. "And now we have the women lined up, a great field, let's get them in place and--"


The gun fired literally in the middle of his sentence, and chaos reigned. Half the field surged forward, while the rest of us stood, perplexed, assuming it was a misfire and that we would be called back. After about five seconds it became apparent that the latter would not be the case, so I gamely took off after the stampeding crowd. Within the first two minutes it was obvious that Abbey was just jogging--or possibly pacing a friend/Dartmouth teammate--as I was nearing the front and she was nowhere to be seen. The course narrowed as we passed a baseball diamond, then widened again as we burst into the open field, and at that point I had already assumed the lead.

The morning was absolutely gorgeous, brilliant, the sky a deep cerulean and without a cloud. For late November in New England it was best case scenario, and without a drop of rain in the previous week the ground felt firm and responsive. So too, did my legs, and I passed the first mile in 5:43 feeling relaxed and totally comfortable. If the marathon had induced any lingering fatigue I wasn't feeling it yet.

The second mile was the quickest, and the most fun, as I passed near the start line again and was greeted by a phalanx of spectators. There were several hundred people spurring me on, a feeling which I hadn't realized I missed from cross-country days long past. Passing two miles in 11:19, I'd probably opened up a 200-meter lead--enough to ease any worry about being passed on the crawl up Scilly's Hill, but that didn't mean I wasn't dreading it. Sure enough, my ascent was anything but graceful, and I'm not exaggerating in the least when I say I could've walked faster--practically was anyway--at several points. By the time I reached the top my quads were pulsing with a fire that even 26.2 miles hadn't managed to spark, and for the first time since the race began I was counting down the minutes until I could simply stop. A furtive glance at my watch confirmed I would break the course record, but it was astonishing how much time the hill had eaten away. I crossed the line in 18:25, eclipsing the previous course best by 20 seconds, while Abbey and her teammate finished 2-3 in 19:43. I might just frame the race results, as it is certainly the only time my name will ever be listed ahead of hers.

Starting line of the men's race
The guys were up next, and I'm sure Jordan will appreciate me glossing over the finer details. Suffice it to say he went in expecting to get his doors blown off by scores of high schoolers and returning collegians, and he was not proven wrong. I'll let him share the gory details when he updates his blog approximately seven months from now.

Jordan kicking hard for 25th place

It was during the time I was spectating that a diminutive brunette woman approached me. "Didn't you win the women's race?" she asked. I barely had a chance to respond in the affirmative before she was enveloping me in a hug. "I'm Gabe's mom," she continued. "Thank you so much for coming."

I was speechless. How could I respond? I mumbled something wholly inadequate, and then she was gone. But that brief exchange was enough to affirm why I was there, and why I will return next year, and how this often insignificant sport of ours can actually mean so much more than just numbers on the clock. I won't pretend I came to the race solely for altruistic reasons, but I'm honored to have been a small part of the legacy that Gabe has left behind.  

Sunday, November 18, 2012

(Philly Marathon) Week in Review

80 miles
2 doubles
3 days in Philly
2-minute PR

The not-yet-released Karhu Flow Light carried me through 26.2--yet another perk of being sample size!
There's not really anything of significance to add that wasn't already covered in today's race recap, but suffice it to say this was a good week. Believe it or not, people are already asking which marathon I'll be racing next, which is a concept I haven't even begun to wrap my brain around. First order of business is definitely some much-needed down time, likely from now until the new year, at which point I'll assess my goals and objectives for the spring. Maybe that means a marathon and maybe it doesn't, but I've got plenty of time to figure it out.

Post-race sushi and a glass of wine (or four) with Madeleine

Philly Marathon Race Report

Goal #1: Run a PR (sub-2:41:06)
Goal #2: Run sub-2:40
Goal #3: Run sub-2:39
Goal #4: Place top 5
Actual: 2:39:02 (chip), 2:39:08 (gun); 4th place female (2nd American)

Going into this race, I knew that on a perfect day in ideal conditions I was primed to run between 2:37:30 and 2:38:30. This would be at least three minutes faster than I'd ever run before, but I had unwavering confidence that it was possible. Every workout I've done in the past four weeks has been better than any workout I did before the Trials--and some of those weren't too shabby. 

It wasn't a perfect day.

It rarely is.

But throughout the mental and physical roller coaster that is the marathon, I persevered. I remained positive. I showed my sisu (and a whole lot more, if you happened to be hanging around near mile 15). But first:

The trip into Philly was uneventful. Jordan and I broke up the 7-hour drive into two days, stopping Thursday night in Greenwich before finishing up on Friday afternoon. The elite athlete coordinator hooked me up with a great room at the incredibly nice Loews hotel, located about a mile from the start and finish line in the heart of downtown Philly. Friday night we met Pezz for dinner and caught up on all the Charlotte gossip. Considering she just debuted in 2:32 as the third American at Chicago and was ready to run sub-1:13 in the half, I figured any time spent with Pezz was bound to rub off on me and translate into a fast race on Sunday. 

Dinner with Pezz on Friday night. "We can have one drink, right?"

Wide awake at 6am on Saturday to catch a stunning Philadelphia sunrise.

On a perfect, crisp Saturday morning we jogged together, and I was pleased to note that my legs felt the freshest I could recall in recent memory. For the rest of the day I tried to balance spending money at Anthropologie with not expending too much energy, and after an ill-fated attempt to meet up with some Charlotte friends for dinner (90-minute wait?! Have fun with that.), I wound up at the aptly-named Marathon with Katie DiCamillo and her dad. ("We're pretty busy right now, so there's going to be a wait...of at least 10 minutes." "Um, yeah, we can handle it.") Katie, who ran a ridiculous 32:31 to place second at the Stanford Invite 10k this year (a mere two full minutes faster than my 10k PR, NBD), had planned to debut at NYC a few weeks ago. So did a lot of people. Instead, she re-routed to Philly and was aiming for a sub-2:35 clocking. I had no doubt she was capable.

I went to bed, and then I woke up, and then I got ready, and then it was 6:55. On the starting line, surrounded by friends from all different aspects of my life--Allison, Sarah, Dalena, Danielle--it almost felt like we were about to head out for a nice Sunday long run. Jordan was there, too; having long since requested an elite entry, then gotten injured, then gotten un-injured, he gamely offered to play queenmaker for the first half of the race for me and Allison. Although I would like to think I'm the kind of person who would insist on doing this thing myself, I didn't hesitate to accept his offer. (I guess I don't really know what kind of person I am.) But I've run behind him dozens of times in workouts over the years and he's never steered me wrong. Why should today be any different?

The first few miles were lightning fast. Left to my own devices I'm certain I would've gone out too aggressively; as it was, despite Jordan's plan of taking us out in 6:10 we were 6:02 through the mile. It felt like walking. The next few mile markers were off, or so I was told by Allison and Jordan. I don't wear a Garmin, and didn't today, and rather than concern myself with any miscalculations I simply focused on doing what I've done so many times before: tuck in and relax.  

We were clicking off the miles effortlessly, 5:55 to 6:00 without a second thought. After four or five miles I felt rather than saw Allison slipping quietly off the back; she'd said in advance that a half split of 1:20 was desired. We were out too fast too soon for her, and I hoped the same was not true for me. 

It felt ridiculously easy until seven or eight. I didn't know the course, willfully hadn't studied the map, and was surprised to discover that the ensuing three miles were almost entirely uphill. Until that point I'd practically been breathing out of my nose; now I found myself struggling to stay physically and emotionally composed. Not mentally composed, but emotionally. If you don't think there's a difference, then you've never truly raced a marathon.

It wasn't exactly hard, but it was no longer easy, and that worried me.

You've got a long way to go.

I pushed the negative thoughts aside; there was no other choice. I knew Jordan planned to take me through halfway, but suddenly I was desperate for more of his help. As the course wound its way back toward downtown Philly, signaling the precise demarcation between Part 1 and Part 2, I spoke for the first time in over an hour.

"Can you go farther?"

"Yes," he said.

I was instantly relieved, but apparently I should've been more specific. Five minutes later, his job executed perfectly up until that point, he was done. He had carried me this far, and now the second half--which was "half" only in the most literal of ways--was up to me.

"Nothing fancy."

A strange mantra, perhaps. But as Jordan left me--solo, in no man's land--around mile 14, those were his words that stuck with me. "Believe in yourself," he said. "I believe in you. Know that it's going to hurt."

And then: "Nothing fancy." Meaning: you don't have to trick it up right now. You don't need to do anything other than what you're doing, what you've been doing for the past 80 minutes, to transform this goal that you've been fixating on for the past six months into reality.

But I was beginning to struggle, in more ways than one. Not only was I completely by myself, entering what would already be the loneliest section of the course, but I was also in desperate need--truthfully, had been for 30 minutes--of a bathroom break. As silly as it sounds or as tempting as it is to make light of the situation, in reality that could've been a game-changer in the worst of ways. Anyone who has faced this sort of dilemma during a race or workout knows how distracting it can be at best, debilitating at worst.

So--and I don't necessarily want to celebrate this but can't in the spirit of transparency leave it out--I pulled a Paula Radcliffe. If you don't know what that means, it's probably for the best. Maybe this course of action cost me my coveted 2:38 (it most certainly cost me my gloves), but as Jordan said later, better a Paula Radcliffe than an Uta Pippig.

The next four miles were the worst. I was rudderless, completely alone and with no reliable grasp of how fast (or slow) I was running. In fact, shortly after 16 I was overtaken for the first time by another woman. She was running shoulder to shoulder with a young guy, and I instinctively latched onto him. She was Fifth Place.

Do not let them get away.

He is the new Jordan.

The girl yo-yoed 10 to 20 meters in front of us, but I stayed glued to the unnamed guy's back. At one point, somewhere around mile 20, I found my voice.

"I hope I'm not bothering you," I said, as polite and civilized as if I were tapping him on the shoulder in the middle of a crowded room. "But you're helping me more than you realize."

"Hell no," he responded, then nodded to the girl just ahead. "And don't let her get away." 

In another scenario I would've been somewhat amused and not a little bit suspicious of his seemingly abrupt shift in allegiances, but right now I was clinging to him for dear life. At 21 he accelerated and I matched him stride for stride, edging past this Fifth Place woman. Another target loomed just ahead, a woman who had been at least 100 meters ahead of me at the most recent turnaround. I passed her without hesitation, then turned to Fifth Place and gestured for her to do the same. I was now in fourth with no other women in sight.

But I was passing men, and lots of them. I didn't feel spectacular but wasn't dying either. There was no wall, only the grim resignation that the remaining minutes would not be remotely pleasant. Yet now, more than at any other point in the race, my self-talk was wholly, unequivocally positive. It was as though my brain, deprived of oxygen and taxed beyond the point of sustainable reasoning, only had room for a handful of fragmented thoughts.       

"This is my day," I told myself. I remember that moment, that realization with striking clarity.

Today is for all the people who told me I could. Today is for all the people who told me I couldn't.

Mile 25. Photo courtesy of P. Ciccarello

Since July, I've been envisioning the clock at mile 25. In all my scenarios it read between 2:30 and 2:31. Today, it flashed 2:31:40. Slower than I wanted, and with one significant uphill remaining before the final downhill push. (Not that I knew any of this in advance. Maybe I should actually do a modicum of research before tackling my next marathon course.) I didn't have much left, but I pushed as hard as I could. Five minutes. Four minutes. Three.

Just like all the previous times, I crossed the finish line with little fanfare. It's difficult to comprehend, really, how much thought and effort and work points toward one moment, one end, only for it to pass almost before you realize it's upon you.

Katie finished 15 seconds ahead of me, and Fifth Place finished in fifth place a few minutes behind me, and together we comprised the top Americans today, on this unusually weighted Philadelphia Marathon day given that NYC was canceled a mere two weeks ago. Pezz was the first familiar face I saw, and she came sprinting towards me, and it meant so much to know how sincerely she felt overjoyed at an accomplishment that paled in comparison to hers. Then Jordan was there, and I found my phone, and saw the posts and texts and calls that were already overflowing with genuine happiness for me.

It humbles me every time.

When I wrote my blog about the Trials, it felt like the the natural end. The end of a chapter, the end of a pursuit, the end of a very distinct period of my life. Today, here, this feels like a beginning. I still don't consider myself an elite runner, honestly. Maybe I never will, and maybe I never will be. But right now, in this moment, all I can think about is the future. I can't wait to run faster. It's not a "what if" or a "maybe," but when. I've done the work before, and I'll do it again, and everything from here on out is a step toward the marathon trials of 2016.

It wasn't the perfect day.

But today was perfect.

Receiving my fourth place award with the Philly mayor and race director.

Philly Marathon Results

2:39:02; 4th place female (2nd American)

Will blog soooooooooon!

Maintaining the perfect sorority squat even on post-marathon legs

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Almost Famous Thanks To The Trailer's Jon Gugala

My favorite journalist Jon Gugala recently profiled me for his kick-ass running site, The Trailer. Check it out here.

This photo (and the ones in my article) courtesy of my awesome co-worker and friend Nora Lohrenz
(Also, because a firestorm has ensued surrounding my alleged dislike of pumpkins, please allow me to clarify: I love any and all pumpkin-flavored tasty treats. What I do not like is having one thrust in my face. Or unexpectedly waking up next to one in my hotel room. But that's another story.)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

(Taper) Week in Review

70 miles
1 day off (!!)
2 doubles
3 days in FTL

I'll save all my philosophical musings on Philly until a few days closer to the race. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Rare Day Off

Yup, that happened. I wasn't necessarily planning for it--in fact, was easily roused by my 6am alarm--but one look outside at the wind-whipped trees and lashing rain was enough to send me burrowing back under the covers. I made a half-hearted pledge to run at lunch, but with the weather still uninviting at best I made the call to bag it. The last thing I need right now is to slip on a slick patch of sidewalk or get broadsided by a hydroplaning Masshole. Besides, I'm tapering. Lay off me.

Considering I routinely fail to blog about runs that actually do happen, you might be wondering why I'm taking the time to mention one that never even got off the ground (or, rather, off the bed). Normally I wouldn't. But when perusing the archives to identify the last time I took a day off--the last week of June, in case you were wondering--I thought it was neato to see my frame of mind then and my outlook on the upcoming summer of training. At the time, I'd just dropped out of the US Half Champs and then fallen deathly ill at the Fleet Feet Conference in DC. Yet I was optimistic that I'd be able to embark on a summer of quality training and lay the foundation for a solid fall marathon. Little did I know then that the "80-90 miles" I hoped to amass for "8-10 weeks" would turn into almost 15 straight weeks of 100+ completely healthy miles. Without a doubt, I'm a stronger runner now than I was when I wrote that post or, for that matter, at any other point in my life. It's an exciting feeling, one that I can't wait to capitalize on a mere 10 days from now.

But today, I rest. And get a massage. And go to bed ridiculously early. I'm tapering. Lay off me. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Outpacing the Nor'easter

2.5 mile w/u
Target: 2x5k @MP (~18:45) w/full rest; 5x30 secs. hard
Actual: 18:30, 4 min. jog, 18:20; 5x30 secs. hard
0.5 mile c/d
Total: ~10 miles

I should've done this yesterday. Less than 24 hours ago it was ideal workout weather; cold, but not frigid, with virtually no wind. Instead, still recovering from a hard 20 on Sunday, I opted to wait until this morning and was punished by a biting, blustery 20+ mph direct headwind for the first half of each interval. Fortunately I was able to tuck in behind Jordan and fortunately he's tipping the scales a few pounds overweight right now, but even despite his ample girth the gusts forced us to slow to what seemed like a crawl. (Mercifully we'll never know, since Jordan forgot to charge his Garmin, so other than the overall time we only had estimates for splits.)

There's not much else to add as this session was pretty unremarkable, but it is noteworthy to compare to an almost identical workout I did 10 days out from the Trials in January. Today was faster with commensurate effort, as it should be. If I don't run a PR at Philly it won't be for lack of fitness.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Week in Review

95 miles
2 doubles
2 days in TX
4 days in NYC

Two weeks until Philly!

Making the Most of the Marathon Sunday that Wasn't

For the past month, Jordan and I have been planning to travel to NYC for marathon weekend. Though we didn't have any official race or expo duties, there were several media meetings to attend on behalf of Karhu. Plus, Thursday happened to be my birthday and we knew there would be plenty of friends in town for marathon festivities, so not unlike last year we were looking forward to making a long weekend of it.

Then, Hurricane Sandy hit. Actually, even before landfall she was screwing things up. I ended up marooned in Texas until Tuesday afternoon, only to arrive home and find that the storm's devastation had left the marathon and everything surrounding it in question. But it seemed as though the show would go on, and so we traveled down as scheduled on Thursday. Instead of spending my birthday at a Cracker Barrel off the Mass Pike like last year, this time around--for the first anniversary of the 29th anniversary of my birth--we had drinks at the Marriott Marquis and took in an evening showing of "Once" on Broadway. (It was so good that Jordan didn't even fall asleep!) The next morning we met our favorite news producer for a run around Central Park--literally "around," as the park itself was still closed in Sandy's wake--and heard his insider's view of how Sandy and her aftermath were impacting the impending marathon. We attended our one remaining media meeting, grabbed lunch with Tarpy, then headed back to our hotel to relax a bit before meeting up with friends at the Runner's World party for a fun night out.

Then, they canceled the marathon.

Enough news articles, editorials, blogs, interviews, podcasts and tweets have already reported, dissected and over-analyzed this decision; to do so here would be both redundant and inadequate. On a completely superficial level, however, one positive result was the opportunity to spend more time with friends. Jay, who had spent months preparing marathon coverage, suddenly found his weekend wide open. Same with Jon, who'd planned to spend his time interviewing elites and listening to emo music while writing for several running publications. (He also profiled each day of his NYC trip on The Trailer. See if you can spot my incognito cameo in one post. Hint: it's Friday.) Heidi and Sarah and several other NYAC girls who'd been training for Sunday were now free to join me for an easy 10 on Saturday and a hard 20 on Sunday, the same day as would've been their marathon debut. And despite the absence of an official sanctioned race on marathon morning, or maybe because of it, the sheer volume and energy level in the Park were like nothing I've ever seen before in NYC, nor anywhere else for that matter. It was electric, and overwhelming, and something truly extraordinary to be a part of.

So the marathon didn't happen, and all our plans changed, and the trip turned out drastically different than it was supposed to be. And I wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

All Tricks and No Treats: My Biggest Workout(s) Ever

AM: 2 mile w/u
Target: 10k @5:45 pace (35:45-35:50)
Actual: 35:46
1/2 mile c/d
Total: 8.5-9 miles

PM: 1 mile w/u
Target: 8-10 miles @6:10 down to 6:00 pace
Actual: 10 miles @61:00
1/2 mile c/d
Total: 11.5-12 miles

I don't have much time to blog, because I (finally) made it back to Boston and we are (finally) headed to NYC for the marathon weekend that almost never was (not racing, obviously, just here for work/birthday shenanigans/spectating/revelry and merriment). 

So let me just say this: on paper, executing these two relatively difficult workouts individually looked tough. To do them both on the same day is something that I would've found impossible a year ago if not a month ago. Heck, as recently as Saturday I felt flat and sluggish maintaining marathon pace for half the distance. So, needless to say, nailing both of these segments is a big, huge, gigantic confidence boost as I begin counting down the days until Philly. After having not run together for over a month due to his various injuries, Jordan rallied today and emerged from retirement to play queenmaker. He couldn't have picked a better time, as his presence was invaluable. (In that light, it would be poor form for me to mention that I dropped him near the end of both of these workouts. But, since that has happened only one other time in my life and may never happen again, I'm still going to put it out there.)

Today, I know for sure: I'm ready.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Week in Review (and Obligatory Hurricane Sandy Post)

101 miles
2 doubles
15-mile long run
5 days in Dallas
1 hurricane

At some point on Saturday, I found myself adding up the week's miles and being perplexed by how difficult (and tiring!) it seemed to hit triple digits as opposed to other weeks. Then I realized I'd only doubled twice--as opposed to four or even five doubles in a typical week--had started the week with a 15-miler on tired legs and then knocked out possibly my most challenging workout of the cycle on Wednesday morning before hopping a flight halfway across the country. Now it all makes sense!

I would like to say the weekend went swimmingly and I returned home from DFW tonight and am now writing this from the comfort of my own home with my kitty cat on my lap. Unfortunately, if you happen to have turned on the tv or the radio or picked up a newspaper or logged onto Facebook or checked your Twitter feed or interacted in any way with any other human being at any point in the past 48 hours, then you know there's a little storm a-brewin' on the East Coast. Despite the fact that this beeotch Sandy isn't scheduled to make landfall until some point tomorrow night, my flight home today was prematurely canceled. After waiting on hold to the tune of some lovely background music from Jet Blue for a mere 32 minutes, they were helpfully able to schedule me on the next available flight to Boston.

On Thursday morning.

So, after exploring a variety of plans, options and travel routes that involved not one or two but four trips up to the American Airlines ticket counter at DFW (and the potential for a night under the stars in some random Oklahoma state park with the Three Stooges in the Airstream trailer), I was able to tentatively book myself on a flight headed to Boston on Tuesday afternoon. (I say "tentatively" because for all I know Boston could be underwater by then and only approachable by cruise ship. But I've got my fingers crossed.) Fortunately I was with my parents at the time who, barely able to contain their glee at this turn of events, gamely attempted to almost convincingly feign sympathy for my situation whilst hurriedly ushering me back into their waiting vehicle and whisking me away to the boonies of East Texas for a few nights at home.

Things could be worse. Recently, they sprung for an upgrade from dial-up internet. They also have season one of Homeland available on demand (and, for that matter, every available season of every available television show recorded in the past five years, including but not limited to the complete Law & Order annals (and all of its subsidiaries)), and the free laundry detergent flows like wine (a nectar which, on the other hand, is one of the bare necessities that is glaringly absent here). The fact that the quality of cell phone reception is worse than that in an Afghanistan POW bunker (I'm already on episode four of Homeland) is merely an excuse for me to stretch my legs every few hours and bask in the autumn sunlight by traipsing down to the street at the end of the driveway and, much to the neighbors' amusement, thrusting my "smart"phone skyward. Plus, I plan on coercing my dad into joining me for my afternoon double in a few hours and then guilting my mom into going on a nice brisk walk in the neighborhood park after work. (She hates exercise, but loves my company. A dilemma!)

If I do get home tomorrow, that would be swell. If I don't, at least I'm safe and sound here with the Nedlos. And that feisty CIA agent Carrie Mathison.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

13.1 Dallas Race Recap (by the Karhu Bear)

2 mile w/u
Target: 13.1 miles @goal MP (6:00-6:05)
Actual: 1:19:04 (6:02 pace); 2nd place female
Results; Dallas Morning News article

I could write my own report of this race, but why bother? That's what I keep The Trailer's Jon Gugala around for! His article, which recounts his own experience of racing in the Karhu bear costume and details Karhu Airstream driver Joe Moore's dominant half-marathon victory, is far more entertaining than reading about how I ran marathon pace for 80 minutes. (On the other hand, my efforts netted me $500 and all Jon got was some bizarre head chafing and the punishment of dressing up in Hooter's hot pants, so who's the real winner now?)

Oh, and by the way, my dad ran 1:35:57. He is 63 years old. This is officially more badass than anything your dad has done this week. The end.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

3x5k Success

2.5 mile w/u
Target: 3x5k @18:15, 18:00, 17:45 w/3 mins. rest
Actual: 18:08, 17:56, 17:39 (slowest 1k @3:44; fastest @3:27)
1 mile c/d
Total: 13 miles

No time to blog, but I want to note a few points before it slips my mind.

Going into this workout, my legs were particularly tired and sore, no doubt residual effects from Sunday's hard 10-mile race effort. Usually if my legs are sore after a race or hard workout it always feels most pronounced in my calves, rock-like. To my surprise, this time my calves feel totally normal but my quads are absolutely trashed. As I slowly trotted my warmup, I reminded myself that this was precisely one of the tenets I'd planned to focus on during this marathon training segment: running hard and fast while tired. No small task today, but I gritted my teeth and pushed through. From the outset, even during the "slow" first segment, this was work. In particular, the second and third kilometer of each 5k segment (done on the 5k course from the Thursday night Wicked group run) were quite a grind; the second a long, gradual uphill straight into the wind, and the third with several sharp turns and another short but steep uphill section. The lingering fatigue in my legs manifested itself swiftly and acutely in the second half of this workout, but I managed to push through. By far this was the fastest workout of its kind I've ever done--I'd have to look back, but I think I've even done 3x3 mile repeats slower than this--and definitely a huge confidence booster at this stage in my training.

Monday, October 22, 2012

DC Morning Run Sites/Sights

The Capitol, the White House, the Mall, Lincoln, Washington, Arlington National Cemetery, Teddy's Island, the Key Bridge, Georgetown, the C&O Canal towpath, the Capital Crescent Trail, the Kennedy Center, the Arboretum.

Aaaand that's how an easy post-race recovery run turns into 25k.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Week in Review

90 miles
3 doubles
3 PRs (5 mile, 10k, 10 mile)
2 days in DC

A successful week on all counts. I got to spend time with Jilane and Caitlin, two of my all-time besties, nailed my workout on Wednesday, scratched and clawed my way to a big PR on Sunday and enjoyed some gorgeous fall weather in one of my favorite cities. I'll be spending one more day in DC before traveling home on Monday evening, and I'm already sad to leave such a great weekend behind...

...but now it's time to look ahead to my ultimate goal for the season: four weeks to Philly!

Army 10 Miler Race Recap

1 mile w/u
Target: 10 miles @57:00-57:30
Actual: 57:21 (5:44 pace); 6th place female
Splits that I remember (gun): 2 miles @11:11; 3 miles @16:52; 5 miles @28:20; 10k @35;23  
2 mile c/d
Total: 13 miles

Ever since having such an awesome time running this race together last year, Caitlin and I have been planning to return. In 2011 I entered the race feeling relatively unfit and unprepared after taking some time off due to injury the previous month, only to surprise myself in on game day by sneaking in under 59 minutes. (I'd only been hoping to manage 6-minute pace.) This time, coming off a solid summer of base mileage and a few great weeks of marathon training, I expected much more from myself. Jordan set my goal at 57:30, an even 5:45 mile pace, but for some reason I was convinced I could run close to 57-flat if not faster. (I'm not sure why, since I haven't done nearly enough pace-specific work to indicate that my fitness levels corroborated this idea. Good thing he's the coach and not me.)

I flew in to DCA late morning on Saturday, then was immediately picked up by Jilane and whisked off to meet Caitlin, Garrett and Garrett's sister Elyse at perennial brunch favorite Open City. We spent the next few hours waiting eagerly for our food to arrive, catching up, devouring said food, and making a plan for the following morning. After last year's Metro disaster, we decided not to take any chances. Fortunately our invited athlete status also afforded us a parking pass for the Volunteer lot just on the other side of the Pentagon, so the plan was for Garrett and Caitlin to head over early and stake out a spot, then for Jilane to drop me off at their car shortly thereafter.

Way too much energy for 6am on a Sunday morning.
Shockingly, all the logistics went perfectly to plan in the pre-dawn Sunday hours, and before long the three amigos were walking toward the starting area on the opposite side of the Pentagon. Things got a little hectic as we merged with the other 30,000 runners all trying to make it through the baggage screening area--at which point Garrett was not allowed into the starting line zone since he didn't have a race number, which was slightly panic-inducing since we were planning on ditching all our warmups with him before the race--but soon we were through and ready to begin a somewhat hasty warmup. The air was cool and crisp with just a light breeze, and as the sun slowly crested the horizon it became obvious that the conditions were going to be absolutely perfect. I was nervous and a little anxious but also giddy with excitement on the starting line.

In hindsight, maybe I was a little too excited. When the starting cannon (yes, cannon) sounded, my body sprang into action as though I were racing a 5k. Knowing that Caitlin has been struggling with iron issues I didn't expect us to be able to run side by side for the entire race, but I was a little surprised to see her fall behind me almost immediately. "Man," I thought to myself, "she must be starting very conservatively." After seeing the digital display on the first mile marker flash 5:37 as I passed, it became obvious that Caitlin was probably running exactly to her plan. Instead, I was the one who was disobeying orders--having been firmly instructed to go out no faster than 5:45--and I knew that if I kept up this dangerous pace I would pay the price later. I needed to slow down.

Except, in an incredibly bizarre way that I have a difficult time articulating, I really couldn't. It was almost as if my legs were being moved by an invisible, intangible force, propelling them along at an imprudent speed but powerless to stop them. I truly didn't feel at this point that I was running hard, despite the cold reality that my pace was faster than what would be sustainable mere minutes down the road. Instead I allowed myself to be carried along, intermittently tucking in with groups of men and the occasional woman, watching the captivating backdrop of the Lincoln Memorial and the National Mall and the Potomac River flash past me. By five miles, it was becoming work. I was pleased to split a 10k road PR and see that I was still well within my goal 10k split of 35:30, but I also knew the hardest effort--and the most difficult section of the course--was yet to come. At 6.5 I heard Jilane screaming for me from the sidelines, but I was already too tired at that point to expend any energy searching for her face in the crowd.

Less than a mile later, as I knew it would, the incline began. From 7.5 to 9.5 the course rolls over a series of bridges and overpasses that transport the runners back to Virginia, and just like last year all I noticed were the uphills. Two girls passed me during this section--undoubtedly my slowest of the day but mercifully I didn't have the mental energy to calculate splits based on the mile marker clocks--and I fought hard to stay with them. Intuitively I could feel my upper-end goal of 57:30 slipping away, and all I could think about was how disappointed Jordan would be if I managed to throw the entire race away in the first feverish miles. With a mile to go, the girls gradually pulled farther away, and as I pushed and flailed over the the final hill I found myself growing increasingly frustrated. "There's no way they're running 100 miles a week like me," I thought. "Use that strength and get your head back in the game!" As we rounded the final bend with a few hundred meters to go, I could almost imperceptibly feel one of them foundering. I charged hard, passing her definitively with less than ten meters to go. I don't need a finish line photo to tell me it wasn't pretty, but I'm proud I was able to track her down. As I crossed the line just over 57:20 I found myself filled with mixed emotions: excitement that I'd chopped over 90 seconds off last year's time, disappointment in my rookie pacing tactics, and eagerness to come back next year and give the Army 10 Miler another go.

Caitlin came through a few minutes later and we found Garrett shortly thereafter. I could tell they were both disappointed that her race didn't go as she'd hoped, but all hurt feelings were at least temporarily assuaged once we entered the "commissary" area chock full of freebies. If 80 protein bars, 7 jumbo packs of gum and 21 chocolates--this is the real true tally that she later sent me via text--can't turn that frown upside down, I don't know what will. More than anything, I was so happy we had a chance to spend some time together this weekend and be running buddies again just like the old days. I hope we can do it again for Army 10 Miler 2013!

(P.S. f you have a chance, read this post-race article. Women's winner Kerri Gallagher started training under Matt Centrowitz Sr. a few months ago and sliced a whopping 3 1/2 minutes off last year's Army 10 Miler time! The article also mentions that the runner-up (who won last year) is training for the Philly Marathon, meaning my chances at an overall victory just got even slimmer.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Early Morning Workout Improvisation

2 mile w/u
Target: 8 mile wave tempo alternating every 800m: 2:50/3:10 (48:00 total); 2 miles @11:40
Revised Target: 13k wave tempo alternating every 1000m: 3:33/3:58 (or 5:42/6:23 mile pace = 48:50 total)
Actual: 3:39, 3:57, 3:32, 3:49, 3:29, 3:50, 3:29, 3:52, 3:23, 3:53, 3:31, 3:52, 3:31 = 47:47 for 13k (8+ miles); 4 min. rest/jog; 3k @11:00
1 mile c/d
Total: 13 miles

I was up dark and early this morning for another solo marathon workout. My favorite! At 35 degrees, it was one of the coldest mornings thus far this fall, and I was barely adequately dressed with a light jacket and gloves. As I jogged around for an easy warmup, I tried to refamiliarize myself with Jordan's Garmin. After using it rather successfully last week, I was hoping I'd be able to operate it with minimal bungling today. Jordan spent some time last night and this morning poking and prodding various buttons to ensure that it would display pace in miles instead of kilometers and would also beep every half mile--perfect!

Or so I thought. Soon after beginning the first interval, it became obvious that the pace was being displayed in relation to kilometers. Not ideal, but no biggie. The same thing happened last week but it still beeped (and displayed splits) every mile, so I was confident it would do the same at every half mile marker today. So when 2:50, then 3:00 came and went, I just assumed that I'd somehow missed the beep indicating the interval had elapsed. I slowed to the "easy" pace of the "off" interval, only to hear and see a 3:38 split shortly thereafter. For a fraction of a second I came to the incredulous realization that I was actually running that slow for 800 meters before realizing that it must've split at the kilometer. This too was frustrating, considering I definitely wouldn't have backed off the pace so soon and probably would've split closer to the target pace had I known. Once I realized that half mile splits weren't an option, it only took a few seconds to settle on the least confusing of my remaining options: I would abandon the half-mile paradigm and instead adjust to kilometers. A simple solution, if slightly ambiguous. After all, I had only a vague idea of what kilometer paces equated to 5:40/6:20 mile paces, so with little concrete info to go on I sort of decided on the arbitrary range of low 3:30s/low 3:50s. If nothing else, it gave me a goal to aim for with each split.

At the time, based on the perceived level of effort and the loose adherence to my admittedly arbitrary pace standards, I had a general sense that the workout was going pretty well. It wasn't until afterward, when Coach Jordan did all the math and scrawled a few tallies on a scrap piece of paper, that I was told I had "crushed it." Those of you who know Jordan are aware that such high praise doesn't flow frequently, so I chose to take his word for it. I haven't tackled many of these wave workouts previously, so I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I could switch gears and juggle different paces at will. If I can do it in a cold, solo early morning workout, I'm confident I can carry the ability with me to race day! 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Week in Review

95 miles
8 runs
21-mile long run
17-mile medium long run
7 days at home

After opening up with a 21-mile Monday and another planned 16-18 miler come Sunday, this could've easily been one of my highest mileage weeks ever. Instead, my coach had other plans. A firm 90-95 was written as the upper limit on my schedule, and once I acquiesced and allowed myself to relinquish my 100+ streak, it was actually quite enjoyable. In fact, to ensure that I didn't go over the prescribed mileage, I found myself having to cut back a ridiculous amount during the week. I only doubled once, a very easy lunchtime jog with a co-worker on Friday--normally I double four or occasionally even five times per week--and several days saw only a measly "8" or "10" written in my mileage log. This led to a curious paradox of mentally and even physically feeling as though I were indulging in a down week, when in reality the quantity was still respectable and the quality was the most I've done thus far in the training cycle. Overall I'm pleased with every aspect of this week--my mileage self-restraint, my workout and long run execution, my quick post-workout recovery, my pumpkin donut choice after today's long run--and I'm excited to see it all translate to a wicked fast Army 10 Miler one week from now!

Lazy Sunday Long Run

Target: 5k easy; 15k alt. 400m hard, 600m easy; 5k easy
Actual: 30 mins. easy; 58 mins. w/1:30 hard; 3:00 easy, 25 mins. uptempo
Total: 17 miles @1:52:35 

For the first time in as long as I can remember, my weekend approximated that of a normal American. Last night we hosted friends from the city who came over, joined us for a great dinner out and then spent the night. This morning we slept in, refusing to set an alarm, then awoke at a leisurely 8:30 and started the day with some pumpkin spice coffee. I'd planned to depart for my long run once our company departed for their yoga class, but unlike yesterday's picture perfect autumn weather it was dark and dreary and intermittently pouring rain. So instead, Jordan and Weezy and I crawled back under the covers and commenced a good old-fashioned lazy Sunday. We watched Meet the Press, tracked Emily as she raced the Toronto marathon, snacked and drank more coffee. By the time I headed out the door it was well past noon and I was already counting down the minutes to when I could hop back in bed.

Perhaps because of that eagerness to be done, I was already clipping along at a slightly quicker than usual pace even during the warmup. Once I hit the Neck--where I planned to complete two loops including the lighthouse lollipop both times--I was really rolling, maintaining a decent tempo even on my recovery segments. I continue to harbor a love/hate relationship with the Neck; on good days, my legs seem to gobble up the rolling hills, but on bad days I'm the one who feels consumed. Fortunately today fell into the former category, and in fact just like on Thursday the toughest portion of the entire run was traversing the perfectly flat causeway while battling a stiff headwind.

Once I completed the workout section of the run, my instructions were to jog an easy 5k back. But I was on a roll and feeling no worse for the wear, so I decided to keep pressing all the way home. The final five minutes were tough, but having already decided to reward myself with chocolate milk and a pumpkin donut I was able to keep my eye on the prize and press to the end. After all, the sooner this run was complete the sooner I could return to my lazy Sunday! 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Another Fun Solo Marathon Workout

2.5 mile w/u
Target: 4 miles @6:30 pace; 3 miles @6-6:10 pace; 2 miles @5:50-6 pace; 1 mile @5:40; all w/2 mins. rest
Actual: 4 miles @6:40, 6:24, 6:28, 6:16; 3 miles @6:18, 6:05, 6:11; 2 miles @5:53, 5:46; 1 mile @5:42
0.5 mile c/d
Total: 14 miles

Given that this workout was solo, cold, windy and early in the morning--are those enough excuses??--I'm pleased with how things went. I utilized a familiar route, running from our place in downtown Salem to the Marblehead rail trail, to and around the Neck, then back the way I came.

Section 1: 4 miles in 6:40, 6:24, 6:28, 6:16
Last night, Jordan showed me how to work his Garmin. Believe it or not, save for an ill-fated attempt to time a marathon workout on the streets of downtown Louisville last December, I've never personally utilized a GPS watch. But this workout was meant to achieve a specific range of paces, not just focus on effort, and so I tried my best to pay close attention when he was demonstrating the steps necessary to time this workout successfully. So when, midway through the first mile, I encountered a street crossing with a steady stream of vehicles parading past, I chose to trot back and forth down the sidewalk and wait my turn rather than attempting to stop the watch and somehow inadvertently render it unusable for the remainder of the workout. All that to say, there's a good reason why the first mile split was so slow. Once that barrier was hurdled, things went swimmingly for the remainder of this section.

Section 2: 3 miles in 6:18, 6:05, 6;11
Believe it or not, this was the most difficult and tiring segment of the entire workout. The first two miles took place on the back portion of the Neck, which is consistently rolling. The last mile, while perfectly flat, sent me across the causeway straight into a stiff headwind. With nothing and no one to block it (where's Jordan when you need him??), I floundered mightily. At one point I actually turned on my heel and ran in the opposite direction for a minute simply to regain my composure. (Naturally this meant I had to run even farther into the wind once I turned back around, but it sounded like a good idea at the time to my oxygen-deprived brain.) At any rate, running 6:10 pace hasn't felt this hard in a long time. It would've been easy to get discouraged and downtrodden after altogether botching the splits on this segment, but I forced myself to remain focused...

Section 3: 2 miles in 5:53, 5:46
...and it's a good thing I did, because this segment was by far the best of the bunch. I felt strong and fast despite the loose dirt and gravel of the rail trail underfoot.

Section 4: 1 mile in 5:42
Admittedly, I misjudged the route a bit. I didn't think I'd already reach the terminus of the trail before starting the last "on" section. This wouldn't be a huge deal, except for the fact that the road back to downtown Salem is almost exclusively uphill and highly trafficked during the morning rush hour. In fact, those of you who are my friend on the book of faces might recall a lengthy rant I posted last week castigating some asshat who nearly flattened me to a pulp while I was finishing up a run. So it was with a certain degree of trepidation that I began the final push, constantly scanning the road ahead to ensure that I wouldn't have to slam on the brakes at any point (because God knows any approaching driver wouldn't). The Garmin screen, which inexplicably was still displaying the average pace in kilometers per hour despite beeping splits at each mile, showed me hovering in the 3:27-28 range (mid-5:30s) early on. Then there was a school bus and a bunch of kids and a dog and whatever other impediment that forced me to jump onto the sidewalk, navigating the broken cobblestones and an occasional leftover puddle, and my triumphant charge to a speedy last mile slowly dwindled to a rather lackluster 5:42. Sure, it was faster than race pace, but still slower than my target and much slower than the first half of the interval had prognosticated. Overall, however, I'll take it as a solid end to a relatively successful solo workout.