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.

Monday, October 8, 2012

First 20-Miler of the Training Cycle

Target: 20 miles w/last 3 @6:00 pace
Actual: 1-8 @6:50-7:00; 9-16 @6:30-6:45; 17-20 @6:00-6:10
Total: 20 miles @2:15, then 1 easy

All things considered, I'm really pleased with how this run turned out. By "all things," I mean a hilly weekend of running in Atlanta, a 14-hour work/travel day with no dinner on Sunday and an uptempo half-marathon "workout" sandwiched somewhere in the middle. Without a doubt, this inaugural long run attempt could've unfolded much worse had I been on my own, which initially looked to be the case. Jordan's hip/leg/quad is still iffy and most of my Boston-area buddies had either raced the BAA Half on Sunday or would be racing/tempoing the Tufts 10k on Monday (or, in the case of my intrepid friend Caroline, both). But proving once again to live up to his reputation as the man with a plan, Terry stepped in and connected me with Princeton alum (and friend of Emily and Betsy) Sarah Cummings. I'd briefly met Sarah, a NYAC team member who often runs with Heidi and Jay in NYC, on a run in Central Park last winter. She is now training for a marathon debut at New York and was hoping to get in 16 miles while on a quick holiday weekend trip to Boston, and fortunately our schedules aligned perfectly. We arranged to meet around 9am, giving us ample time to run long and then shower (her) and eat (me) before cheering on our friends at Tufts. Good grief, I love it when a plan comes together.

The run began auspiciously, under sunny skies and crimson falling leaves, with a crisp tinge to the autumn air. I don't run along the Charles River frequently enough to be as thoroughly bored with it as Emily and some of the other BAA girls, and as I trotted from my car to our planned meeting spot I was thoroughly enjoying a view that looked to be plucked straight from a New England postcard. I met Sarah and her friend Katie at the Mass Ave bridge and we set off together with no particular route or destination in mind, content to follow the river path and make things up as we went along. From the outset I found myself a half step behind Sarah as my legs rebelled against a brisker-than-usual early tempo. But as the minutes ticked by, their exact number fading into the backdrop of our steady conversation, I found myself feeling stronger and lighter. At one point, approaching the 90-minute mark, Katie checked her Garmin and remarked that we were clipping along at a 6:35 pace. I was pleasantly surprised, not because of the pace itself but because of how unremarkable it felt. Katie peeled off a few minutes later, at which point Sarah and I continued on for a few more miles while maintaining if not tightening the pace. I dropped her off with a mere three miles remaining, incredibly grateful to have spent almost two hours engrossed in conversation as opposed to constantly checking my watch. Without a Garmin I have no concrete idea of how fast I closed the run, but I do know I pushed harder in the final 15 minutes than I had at any previous point. I finished feeling equal parts hungry and exhausted, strong and exhilarated, and totally excited for my next long effort.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Philly Training: Week #2 in Review

103 miles
11 runs
15-mile "long" run
4 days in Atlanta
5 AFDs

This week wasn't quite as successful as week #1 in terms of following my prescribed training to the letter; I only earned a (self-assessed) B- for my workout progression on Wednesday, then completely missed a scheduled wave tempo and long run that were supposed to take place over the weekend. This could hardly be helped given my hectic travel and event schedule which involved me working late on Friday and Saturday and starting well before sunrise on Sunday morning, but unfortunately the marathon clock does not award bonus time for legitimate excuses. Lucky for me, Christopher Columbus managed to royally eff things up but somehow still earn Americans everywhere a much-needed day off on Monday--so I plan to travel into the city tomorrow morning and knock out my first 20-miler of the training cycle, albeit a day late, then stick around and do some Tufts 10k spectating. With no travel planned next week, I hope to get back into somewhat of a "normal" schedule and check off every possible training and recovery box.

One thing's for sure, with a bevvy of of inspiring race performances this weekend at Chicago, Twin Cities, the BAA Half and everywhere in between (special shout-out to Pezz for a mind-boggling 2:32:42 debut and top three American placing at Chicago), I'm more focused than ever on achieving my best possible race performance six weeks from now.

13.1 Atlanta Race Results

1:23:35; 3rd place; $250
Total: 15+ miles 

Realized early on in this easy run that I was in third place so decided to run a bit faster than planned and take home some cash! Note: Not endorsed or approved by my coach. Must buy him a cheese tray at Gulu Gulu tonight to apologize.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Eight By Mile By Moonlight

2.5 mile w/u
Target: 8xmile w/1 min. rest: 2x5:50, 2x5:40,2x5:35, 2x5:30
Actual: 5:47, 5:48, 5:38, 5:39, 5:37, 5:36, 5:34, 5:32
0.5 mile c/d
Total: 11 miles

Actually, there wasn't much moonlight. I just liked the alliteration. In reality, this evening was just as drizzly and cloudy and gloomy as the handful that have preceded it. The only bright spot was a metaphorical one, the opportunity to work out with a strong contingent of BAA ladies. For the first time in many months, I made the trek down to Harvard for the Wednesday night workout and ended up being incredibly glad I did. This lengthy but not particularly fast workout, which looked benign enough on paper, ended up being a bit of a grind. I suppose that mentally I was flashing back to the last time I did mile repeats on this track, a cool spring evening almost six months ago when I'd clicked off six repeats with two minutes rest and averaged around 5:20. Never mind that I'd been at the peak of my spring fitness and running significantly less weekly volume; in my mind, running just two more intervals at a significantly slower pace should be a breeze.

In summary: it wasn't. But with a little help from my friends, I got through it.

For the first two intervals, I jumped in with a group that was running 1200 repeats. Unsure of what 5:50 pace was supposed to feel like, I tucked in at the back of the pack and hoped we would settle into a rhythm. Instead our first few laps were all over the place, resulting in me overcompensating and inadvertently splitting an 81 last lap to ultimately finish ahead of schedule in 5:47. That may not have been the smartest move on my part, but I reasoned that I'd rather be a few seconds ahead than a few seconds behind. (Easy to say at that point.) Emily and Hilary--the girl who gave me a good throttling at 13.1 Boston a few weeks ago--entered the workout at the start of the third interval and immediately picked up the pace. For the next several repeats I found myself a good 20 meters behind Emily with Hilary equidistant between us, but fortunately there were plenty of other girls around to help me settle in and not get discouraged. I was quickly learning that the term "one minute recovery" was somewhat of an oxymoron, and as we progressed through the workout like clockwork my legs grew increasingly heavy.

By this point, the track was almost completely dark save for the ambient light spilling over from the adjacent soccer fields. (Apparently one of the richest institutions in the country does not have an endowment dedicated to lighting its outdoor track facilities, or at the very least its track alums are not as beneficent as its soccer alums.) Most of the other girls had departed for their cooldown, leaving just Emily, Hilary and myself with the always trusty Terry holding the stopwatch. Unlike the previous intervals, I actually led off for the first lap of this one and stuck close to the girls until they pulled away on the final straightaway. Hilary, less than two weeks removed from her goal marathon, was finished at this point--as were my legs. Had Emily suggested bagging the final repeat I would've struggled to find a reason to demur, but instead I found myself to agreeing to trade off leading each lap. Both of us were obviously laboring--myself clearly more so--but when your training partner is putting forth such a team effort there's really no justification for giving up. 

Overall, I'm pleased with completing the workout but a bit disappointed that I wasn't able to achieve the desired progression. My average was probably right on, but instead of overachieving on the first half it would've been nice to feel strong clicking off low- or sub-5:30s through the second half. Regardless, I have no doubt I'll reap tangible fitness gains from both the pace and volume of this workout.