Thursday, February 28, 2013

Number of 800 Repeats > Number of Hours of Sleep

2.5 mile w/u
Target: 6x800m @2:38-2:40 w/2 mins. jog
Actual: roughly the above
2 mile c/d
Total: 8 miles

From Charlotte I headed straight to Austin on Monday morning, and never have I been so thankful to be in Texas. The weather was absolutely perfect every day--low 40s and a spectacular sunrise easing into upper 60s and sunny with no humidity (a particularly rare treat for this section of the Lone Star State). All of this plus the proximity to one of my favorite running buddies, Allison, meant I solidly frontloaded my weekly mileage and enjoyed almost every step.

The same could not be said for my workout on Thursday morning--but to be honest, I'm just proud of myself for making it happen. A late flight home on Wednesday night meant I didn't get into bed until almost 1am, and the promise of an exceptionally busy workday on Thursday necessitated getting up no later than usual if the workout were to have the slimmest chance of happening. Fortunately my partner in crime was game for dragging me around the streets of Salem, keeping the pace honest over the undulating terrain--"This is no Dilworth Speed Loop," he remarked at one point--and though I intentionally didn't start and stop my own watch, I know we were close enough to the prescribed splits for me to earn a semi-enthusiastic "nice work" at the end of it all. For today, I'll take it. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Week in Review

82 miles
4 doubles
15-mile long run
60 mins. deep stretch yoga
5x10 mins. core
4 runs with Caitlin

What can I say; any time spent in Charlotte makes for a fantastic week. (Yes, even if it was cold and rainy and dreary half the weekend.) Caitlin and I had a blast reveling in our homebody lameness, and most nights found us double fisting Nuun and wine (well, at least one of us was drinking the wine) before passing out into a deep, blissful slumber somewhere in the vicinity of 9:30pm. It was just perfect.

Other highlights of the weekend include:
  • visiting with one of my all-time favorite people, Dr. Greenapple, who took time out of his weekend to meet Caitlin and I at his office for treatment
  • much-needed Saturday afternoon pedicures with running buddy Laurie (God bless the poor woman who had to handle my gnarly warlocks.)
  • a stellar McAlpine long run on Sunday consisting of Caitlin and I and our male queenmaking entourage
  • powering through all (and I do mean every single episode) of season one of HBO's "Girls" in the span of 24 hours
  • an impromptu Oscar-viewing party on Sunday night which peaked before the first award was announced and somehow devolved into a thorough and detailed Google image search of "side boob" before petering out around 10
As with every Charlotte visit, I'm incredibly sad to leave, but my feelings are assuaged by the fact that I'll see lots of runner friends at Boston next month. Can't wait!

Early to see the good doctor = impromptu core session in his office hallway

Headed out for a cold, dreary, rainy--yet somehow still fun--run on Saturday afternoon

Saturday, February 23, 2013

In Need of Speed

Wednesday, 2/21
3 mile w/u
Fartlek of (:30, 1:00, 1:30, 2:00, 1:30, 1:00, :30) x 2
2 mile c/d
Total: ~9 miles

Friday, 2/23
AM: 4 miles easy
PM: 2.5 mile w/u
Target: 10x400m w/1 min. rest; 5 @78 and 5@76
Actual: 75, 79, 76, 76, 75, 74, 72, 74, 73, 73
2.5 mile c/d
Total: 8 miles
Daily total: 12 miles

Switching gears a little bit after Mercedes, I want to focus on putting a little pep in my step for the remainder of the spring. On Wednesday morning I ventured out for a solo fartlek to test the waters leading up the week's main event...a good old-fashioned Dilworth Speed Loop workout with Caitlin! Yes, I'm in Charlotte for work this weekend, and nothing feels more like coming home than pushing myself up and down the familiar Queen City streets with my favorite Charlotte training partner. (Actually, it would've felt more normal had we done this before the crack of dawn as planned. But maybe we've gotten a little soft in our old age. When we woke at 5:30am to 37 degrees and raining, we opted to catch a few more hours of sleep and postpone the hard effort until after work...when it turned out to still be 37 and raining. Oh well.)

To be honest, I think both of us were a little nervous about this workout despite the relatively conservative splits that Jordan had prescribed. I haven't done anything this short and fast in a long time, and Caitlin has only been working out for a few weeks. Plus, the Speed Loop, despite embodying everything its moniker implies, is no track. Negotiating turns, dodging traffic and rolling with the terrain would present an added challenge and would no doubt increase the level of effort required to hit splits that appeared easy enough on paper.

I should've known, however, that there was no need to be anxious. If any two people can strike the perfect balance between competing with and motivating each other, it's Caitlin and me. Despite our burning lungs and legs (hers bright red thanks to the biting conditions and a poorly conceived wardrobe choice), we followed the workout to the letter and ended up easily besting the desired splits. And with only a minute between each rep, the session flew by faster than any in recent memory. Speedwork may never be my forte nor my favorite type of session, but taking on the challenge with Caitlin matching me stride for stride actually made a dreaded workout, dare I say it, a pretty darn fun way to spend a cold and rainy Friday afternoon.  

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Week in Review

80 miles
4 doubles
3 nights in Birmingham
1 night in Memphis
6x10 mins. core

Well, at least my weekly mileage total was respectable.

Mercedes Half-Marathon Results

2.5 mile w/u
Target: win; run faster than last year (1:17:54)
Actual: 2nd place, $750, 1:19:28
2.5 mile c/d
Total: ~18 miles

I should give this race a proper recap, but I'm not going to. I'm too far behind on my blog and, to be honest, I'm too embarrassed to dignify a slower-than-marathon-pace race with a serious play-by-play. All you need to know is my legs felt heavy and tired, my stomach was not cooperating (had to detour to a port-o around mile 9) and I was never even remotely in contention for the win. At least I had a fun slumber party with Meggan Franks! At any rate, I hope I can consider the rust sufficiently busted for the next time around.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Mercedes Half-Marathon Pre-Race Workout

AM: 2.75 mile w/u
Target: 3x5 mins. @race pace and faster (3:40/k, 3:38, 3:36) w/2 mins. jog; 3-5x1 min. hard
Actual: 5 mins. @3:39 pace; 5 mins. @3:36 pace; 5 mins; @3:34 pace; then 3x1 min. hard
2.25 mile c/d
Total: 9 miles
PM: 5 miles easy
Daily total: 14 miles

Running outside is a delightful, joyous gift that should not be taken for granted. After having been confined to my house and the YMCA treadmill since my last outdoor run on Friday, I've been dying to get back into the fresh air. Last night I took my first tentative jaunt on the streets of Salem, mainly to assess the conditions and determine whether or not the roads would be passable for today's pre-race workout. With the exception of a few treacherous sections where the snow banks threatened to encroach upon the majority of the thoroughfare, everything appeared to be smooth sailing. I was wholly, disproportionately elated. So despite the early hour and chilly temps, I was thrilled to lace up the shoes and head outside with my queenmaker for this morning's effort.

As we warmed with the sunrise, a part of me wondered whether my legs would struggle to adjust to an abrupt drop in pace after having done nothing more than basically jog in place for the better part of a week. Fortunately, it only took a few minutes of the first interval to dispel that worry. If anything, the only factor holding me back from feeling light and fresh was some lingering fatigue from a new core/pre-hab routine borrowed from the Nike Oregon Project that I found in this month's Running Times magazine. I normally don't pay much attention to those sorts of articles, but this one includes a great mix of new and familiar exercises that are sure to benefit anyone. They're also sure to induce soreness, which I learned the hard way this morning. I struggled on the closing minuters and opted to stop at three instead of pushing to five, as I was going nowhere fast.

Still, you won't find me complaining. The sun is shining, the snow is melting and I'm back on the roads where I belong. With a few days of recovery and easy running I hope to be ready to defend my title at the Mercedes Half!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Week in Review

75 miles
4 doubles
1 day off
2 treadmill runs
3 days stuck in my house

Well, if I haven't earned my stripes as a New Englander after this weekend, I doubt I ever will. As you've surely seen and heard on every news and social media outlet in the world, a blizzard (let's call it "Nemo") hit New England on Friday, and hit us with a vengeance. It is no exaggeration to say that between noon Friday and tonight, I set foot outdoors exactly three times. One of those times was to snap a few of the photos posted below, and the other two times were to go for a run...on the YMCA treadmill. Yes, fortunately we live literally 50 feet away from the Salem Y; unfortunately, even that wasn't enough to grant us access on Saturday when it, like literally every other business in our community, was closed.

So, understandably, this week was a bit of a bust. After billing it as Boot Camp Week #2, I really only got in one quality session and nothing even resembling a long run. Friday morning we set out for the Neck with the hopes of sneaking in a lengthy tempo before the storm deteriorated every inch of road between here and Marblehead, but even before the first snowflakes fell the wind was already gusting hard enough to render our efforts futile. We jogged it in for a solid 20k instead, a respectable morning run but not likely to contribute to my fitness levels.

As I type this, the fate of next week's runs and planned pre-race workout remain a giant question mark. The roads are being plowed like clockwork, which is great, but unfortunately there's nowhere for the surplus to spill over except the shoulders and sidewalks. A business contact of mine at the Y was gracious enough to hook Jordan and I up with a one-week free pass, but I don't know how many days in a row of indoor doubles I can stomach. None of this is exactly confidence-inspiring leading up to Mercedes this weekend, but I'll try to remain positive in hopes of reaping the benefits of a forced taper. The timing could be worse, I suppose.

The view of the "sidewalk" across from our building
Our parking lot on Saturday afternoon...
...and on Sunday morning (taken through our window screen, sorry.) If you weren't sure what 8-ft tall snow banks looked like, now you know.

We're number five! We're number five!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Found By Nemo

I captured the above video--of a plow truck fighting a losing battle with a snow drift--from the vantage point of our living room window, looking out onto (what used to be) our parking lot. Suffice it to say Nemo found us, and I did not run today.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Half-Marathoon Boot Camp: Workout #4

2.5-3 mile w/u
Target: 13k wave alternating every k between 3:30/4:00 (5:37/6:25 mile pace)
Actual: 3:54, 3:31, 3:56, 3:32, 4:00, 3:29, 3:58, 3:29, 4:03, 3:34, 4:03, 3:32, 3:56 = 49:02
(6:04 mile pace for 8.1 miles)
1 mile c/d
Total: 12 miles

While not nearly as fast as a similar (actually, harder) workout I did pre-Philly, I was still relatively pleased with this session. In fact, had I chosen to start and finish with an "on" segment instead of a "recovery" one, the overall time and resultant average pace would've been much closer to that previous effort. But with temperatures not even cracking the 20-degree mark this morning, Jordan and I agreed it made sense to ease into a rhythm rather than attempting to hit 10k pace right from the gun.

Overall, I'd deem this solid but not extraordinary. My body is understandably tired from the (self-prescribed, self-imposed) boot camp, which makes workouts like this just seem like a grind. I have to remind myself that a month ago I wasn't doing much more than jogging around, and here I am finishing my fourth workout of the past week. Quality and quantity have both taken a big leap, and I'm pleased that my body is holding up well, if not necessarily setting any new speed records. Yet. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

(Boot Camp) Week in Review

85 miles
3 doubles
3 workouts
30k long run
6x10 minutes core

Week #1 of my half-marathon boot camp was a success! A challenging, exhausting, satisfying success, which is always the best kind. I'm proud of myself for navigating some tricky weather situations and still managing to finish (albeit not always knock out of the park) three solid workouts and a long run. With exactly two weeks between me and Mercedes, there's no time to waste--boot camp week #2 begins tomorrow!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Half-Marathon Boot Camp: Workout #3, or "30k For Emily's 30th"

Target: 30 min. easy, 30 min. tempo, 30 min. steady, 10x30 secs. hard for 30k total
Actual: 35 min. easy, 30 min. tempo @6 min. pace, 30 min. jogging around looking for Terry, 30 min. steady @~6:20 pace, 5 min. easy for 30k total

For her 30th birthday, Emily wanted to do something epic. Or, at minimum, epically symbolic. So after her initial plan of running the entire Boston course was scrapped due to, well, common sense, we enlisted Jordan to come up with something long and challenging but still fun and manageable, all in honor of the milestone of entering one's 30th year of life on this earth. He came up with the target workout above, which looked daunting enough on paper (especially considering it would be my longest run since Philly and my third workout in six days). Fortunately, Emily recruited others to join and help dissipate the suffering, including her former college teammate Christina and a rare joint appearance of Carly and Terry (made possible by Emily's mom, in town for the b-day celebration, virtually leaping at the chance to play surrogate grandmother for a few hours).

The group assembled at Emily's just after 9am, eager to get the run underway and even more eager to finish it up so we could return to a brunch feast that Emily's husband Matt had been slaving away over all morning. In fact, the toughest part of the run was forcing ourselves out the door with the tantalizing scent of fresh coffee and rising frittata wafting down the hallway behind us. Once out the door, however, we fell into a relaxed rhythm on the bike path in the direction of the arboretum. I'd never run there before, and in hindsight I'm glad that was the case, because if I'd known in advance how hilly it was I probably never would've agreed to run the entire tempo portion there. But from a logistical perspective it made perfect sense, since we could all work out at our own appropriate paces and still start and finish together. We prepared to pick it up, agreeing to meet back at our starting point 30 minutes later, and then set off to tackle what would be the toughest part of the run (even more difficult than leaving the kitchen behind, as it turned out). Almost immediately our group split into three natural pairings: myself and Jordan, Emily and Carly, Terry and Christina. As the two most unfamiliar with the territory, Jordan and I made a few wrong turns and came to a few dead ends before settling into a reliable loop, and as a result somehow ended up running the opposite direction as everyone else. This actually ended up being helpful for me, as I knew that every few minutes I would pass Carly and Emily, then Terry and Christina, and no matter how badly I was hurting I couldn't allow myself to get completely dropped at the risk of embarrassing myself in front of them. (That said, my increasingly pained facial expressions couldn't have done much in the way of making a good impression). Our pace fluctuated wildly, dictated by the undulating terrain, and every time we trudged up one particularly grueling hill I felt sure that  mile couldn't be faster than eight minutes. These are the times when I'm glad I don't wear a Garmin. Sometimes it's better not to know.

Somehow, I kept it together for 30 minutes, and shortly after finishing we were rejoined by Carly and Emily. Certain that Terry and Christina were close behind--after all, I'd just seen them less than 10 minutes prior--we dawdled around a bit near our meeting point, finally starting to jog in the direction from which we'd come after standing around became unbearably cold. Fully expecting to see them approaching at any minute, none of us were initially alarmed, but as the minutes ticked by it became clear that they simply weren't there. While I wasn't necessarily worried, I was definitely perplexed. If I know one truth to be constant, it is that Terry never, ever deviates from a plan. If we said to meet back in 30 minutes, he'd be there at 29:55 with a detailed mile-by-mile itinerary for the rest of our run. And yet, inexplicably, he wasn't there.

After another few miles of jogging around the arboretum, we agreed that the only logical explanation was that they'd somehow, for some reason, decided to forego the meeting and head back to Emily's. (Perhaps they were hoping to get a jump on the brunch buffet.) We'd already been on our feet for over 90 minutes and were growing more chilled with each step, so the only logical course of action was for us to do the same. Carly, clearly worried, began to pick up the pace. ("I hope he didn't have a heart attack," she said at one point, only half joking. I resisted the urge to respond with, "Don't worry; we would've heard the ambulance." Somehow I doubted that would provide much comfort.) Before I knew it, we'd crested the two-hour mark and were running uncomfortably close to my previous tempo pace--fortunately on a flat bike path this time, but my legs didn't seem to register much appreciation of this nuance.

Finally, mercifully, the run came to an end, and with it the discovery of nothing but good news: 30k was surpassed, Terry was fine (and somehow hadn't even heard the original "meet back in 30 minutes" plan), none of us received a parking ticket and at long last it was time to eat our collective body weight in brunch. Happy birthday, Emily!