Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Fantastic Workout, Craptastic Knee

Goal: 15x1 min on/off
Actual: 11.5 miles total, 15x1 min on/off, hurt IT Band/Knee

After procrastinating about 8 hours of the day away at the timeshare on Newport Coast, I finally got ready for a workout. This was difficult to do considering that all I did today was watch Discovery Channel, read Franzen's book The Corrections, eat food, and take a nap. Once my parents drove off to pick Sally up in Long Beach, I decided 3:30pm was a good time to go running because 1) it had stopped raining and 2) I would finish before the sun fell below the ocean line.

I ran down the mountain that defines Newport Coast Drive and made my way to the Crystal Cove State Park, where I ran along the cliffs overlooking the ocean. I enjoyed watching the sun drop lower and lower until it finally seemed to touch the ocean and reflect its brilliance straight into my sensitive eyes (I forgot my sweet new Nike sunglasses Garrett's parents gave me at the timeshare).

I noticed for the first 5 miles of my warmup that the wind was terribly strong going one direction, so I started my fartlek with the wind at my back to make it easier. For the first 9 minuters, I ran with the wind. I felt really good and my legs felt like they had lots of bounce to them. However, everything changed once I turned around when the wind was in my face. It was difficult to get my legs up, I was leaning forward too much, and my hair was blowing all into my face. I'm sure I looked like a terrible mess. I finished out the workout, and slowed to a stop, and knelt down to stretch for a moment.

As soon as I stood up, all my confidence from having a good workout slipped away as a sharp, persistent pain pulsed through my knee. A pain that literally came out of nowhere worried the crap out of me, and I wondered if I could even make it home the next three miles. The sun had already set and I knew that if I were any tick past 5:30, my parents would be really worried. Fortunately, the pain seemed to subside just a bit so that I could run to the bottom of the big mountain. I walked/jogged up the mountain and counted down every second until I made it to my temporary abode. As soon as I walked into the timeshare, I grabbed some ice and stretched.

Online research commenced and the pain worsened. I determined that my IT Band was rubbing against the side of my knee, causing inflammation and irritation. I could tell there was excess fluid in the attachment of the IT Band and the knee. I decided to take the next two days off and figured rest, ice, and massages from my mom would do the trick. I could only wait and see if it would actually be a magical formula to recovery.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

18 Mile Progression Run

18 miles with 50-60 minutes uptempo

16.04 miles: 1:48:55 @ 6:47 ave
1st 8 miles: 56:46 (7:06 pace)
nd 8 miles: 51:46 (6:28 pace)

After exchanging several emails on Christmas day with Bill Sumner, coach of Corona Del Mar High School and at the Cal Coast Track Cub, I finally linked up with Juan and Juan...two runners of the CCTC. Bill Sumner was really helpful and I am really grateful for him linking me up with people to do 16 miles with! He has the most wins of any high school coach in California history. Cool stuff!

I met up with the two Juans at 830am at the Back Bay and I soon learned the plan was to do 8 out and back. After that, I was going to run back to my sister's house which was a perfect 2 miles away. We started out with a 7:15 mile and that would be our slowest mile split of the day. For the next seven miles, I enjoyed the view of the snow covered mountains in the backdrop and the beauties of UC Irvine's campus. At 8 miles, we began to dip under 7 minute pace for a progression run. It wasn't anything that we had verbally agreed to, it just felt good for our legs to gradually pick up the pace, and so we did. My legs felt great until about miles 14-15, where they began to feel fatigued. My breathing became more labored, but I had enough in me to finish up right around 6:00 for the last mile.

One of the Juans has never run a marathon and asked for some advice. I told him to go out so slow that he feels like he needs to rip his hair out it's so boring. The other Juan is 41 years old and looks like he is 30. He was the 2010 masters champion at the LA Marathon this year. It was cool running with such a local stud! He told me that he "liked marathons best because they are like a journey." I never had thought of it like that, and I liked his analogy. I'm going to remember that when my marathon training cycle starts for the Olympic Trials.

I really enjoyed the company and might even link up with these guys again for a tempo on Thursday! It's a lot of fun meeting people from other running clubs and hearing about how they work. This club has workouts led by a coach on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. I will continue to get more ides from other clubs to hopefully incorporate into the Charlotte Running Club's future.

After the 16 miles were over, I ran 2 miles back to my sister's and we enjoyed the rest of the day at the timeshare. I went in the hot tub for 20 minutes and wanted to alternate hot/cold, but the pool was heated so it was not worth it to jump out of the tub. It's definitely nice to be with my family during the holiday season.

9 - 6:55
10 - 6:33
11 - 6:37
12 - 6:27
13 - 6:34
14 - 6:24
15 - 6:12
16 - 6:04

Friday, December 24, 2010

6x2 min on/off in California

6x2 min on/off at 520-ish pace
~6 miles warmup
6x2 min on/off at 515-525 pace depending on the uphill
2x1 min on/off
~2 miles cool down for 11.5 miles total

I'm on my third day of taking anitbiotics for my bacterial virus, so I took it easy for the first four days of the week. This was my first workout in 7 days, so I had good reason to believe that my legs would feel pretty good on this one. I was right. After I ran from my sister's house to the Newport Back Bay (only half a mile away), I settled into a nice warmup on the bike path towards UC Irvine. I enjoyed the 65 degrees and hoped the sun wouldn't roast my semi-albino skin too much. I did put sunscreen on my face to prevent from aging prematurely since I'm a redhead and all.

Dad and I before the run

I got in almost 6 miles before I decided to pick it up because a guy was trying to "run with me" and I didn't want him to think he was faster than me, so I pressed the lap button on my garmin and I sped away, leaving him in my dust. I rounded the nature reserve in the Back Bay, enjoying the scenery on my rest intervals and practically ignoring it on my fast segments.

For the fourth interval, I even counted all the way to 90 just to help pass the time. The 6th interval was all on the downhill, so my pace for this one was flying: 5:12. I was pretty happy with that one...but then I paid for it because I could barely finish my minuters that I had planned to do. A stark contrast to how my legs felt for the 6x2 minutes, my legs began to feel like they had no power to lift and drive forward. It didn't matter much because I felt like I had gotten in the quality I needed and ran it back in to the house.

Despite having traveled across the country yesterday and staying up for at least 20 hours before I finally made it to bed last night, I felt really good on this workout. Without any company, I found myself mentally tough and tuned in with my body. I quite possibly got a boost from the temperature, the sun, and the excitement of running on new routes. I'm trying to link up with members of the Cal Coast Track Club to run an 18 miler on Sunday.

I'm looking forward to the Christmas festivites tonight and tomorrow with the Quinn family. Best yet, we check into the timeshare tomorrow so I can get in the hot tub to get the soreness out of my legs!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Week in Review

~69 Miles
6 Runs
1 Full Day Off
17 Mile long run

Hooray, Hooray! This week was a success. This is exactly what I've been yearning for, a solid week in the books. After weeks upon weeks of feeling slow and lethargic, my legs are finally starting to come around. Even with a day off on Monday because I was still feeling sick and tired, I was still able to get in almost 70 miles on just 6 runs. While I did feel pretty tired in my 17 miler today, I'm fairly certain it was due to the two hard workouts I had this week. I had company for both workouts, and felt consistent and strong in both. I'm ready for Meagan to be cleared by Coach JSK to run a workout, but with the holiday coming up, it doesn't look like we'll be able to workout together until the new year. Crazy stuff!

The week was topped off with a fun Christmas light run, followed by hot cocoa and cookies at Freedom Park. We had a huge turn out, and it was a great way for Charlotte Running Club members to meet each other. I got to meet Stephen Spada's kids and also keep Thomas' daughter warm! Santa even made an appearance!

In just four days, I will be in the beautiful and sunny southern California, where I hope to focus on my training and get my mileage back into the 75-80 mile range before 2011 rings in.

Friday, December 17, 2010

3x2 Miles Success

3x2 mile at 5:50-6:00 pace, around the same effort as back in September.

3.43 mile warmup
3x2 mile at 5:48, 5:45, 5:46 pace
1.93 mile cool down

Wow, that workout went much better than I had anticipated! What a great relief because, to be quite honest, I've been feeling rather flat and tired on my runs. This lethargic feeling actually makes sense because today my doctor confirmed what the homeopathic doctor told me last week - that I have some virus. I'm now taking an antibiotic that is supposed to help me get rid of the sickness that has taken over my lymph nodes in the past three weeks.

For that reason, I came into this workout with less confidence than normal. I knew that I would need to adjust accordingly if my body began to show signs of fatigue earlier than normal. When Thomas and Matt showed up at 4pm to warmup, I warned them of this, they nodded, and we made our way down the Sugar Creek Path to meet Meagan for a quick jaunt before she went right back home to ice her soon-to-be-healed achilles.

After our warmup, we dropped clothes off at Rebecca's house so that they wouldn't get stolen like Billy's Wake Forest sweatshirt, and toed the invisible line near Rebecca's driveway.

On the first set, Thomas stayed with me the entire way. We cruised through the first mile too fast (5:48), but managed to keep it even through the second mile. When I saw our mile split, I kind of freaked out but just kept pressing and crossed my fingers that I wouldn't die on the next two sets.

On the second set, I surprised myself when I still felt good. Matt and Thomas had worked out a scheme where they would meet me at various segments to help out. It was great.

On the third set, my legs felt really tired right off the start, and I contemplated stopping at the mile mark because I didn't want to overdo it. Instead, Thomas pulled me through as he ran with me for the final mile and provided some much needed encouragement.

1st set
11:36 (5:48, 5:48)

2nd set
11:29 (5:45, 5:44)

3rd set
11:32 (5:45, 5:47)

Overall, I am very satisfied with this workout. When I did this workout in September in the same location, I ran 610, 550, and 542 average pace. This is definitely a much needed confidence boost as I head into higher mileage with Houston in sight!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

14x1 Min On/Off

14x(1 min on, 1 min off) at 5:20 or faster pace

14x1 min at just that, for 10 miles total.

Well, I'm trying to get my wheels back on the bus for my Houston training, and minuters workouts seem to always do the trick. I had expected to do this workout solo after work, but I was delighted to receive an email from Will that said he needed to run this evening instead of tomorrow evening. It worked out perfectly as we met on the Sugar Creek Pathway and continued to Freedom Park.

I got in a solid 4+ miles of warmup before we reached the Dilworth 2-mile Speed Loop and began our workout. I was expecting my legs to feel the effects from the 6k XC race on Saturday (or from the night of dancing at the XC Race After Party), but instead my legs felt fresh and light. This could also be due to the fact that I took the day off from running on Monday and slept 11 hours to make up for the lack of running. Clearly, I needed to recover from the USATF Club XC Race more than I had expected!

For the most part, we were able to cruise through the streets of Dilworth, but there were some intersections where we had to slow down because drivers couldn't see us.Considering that Will has only run 200 Miles over the past like 4 months, he did a fantastic job and worked with me through 10 intervals. His company was appreciated, especially after almost 5 months of not having had the opportunity to run with him. Once we finished up two loops, we headed right back to Morehead, where we parted ways.

On my 15 minutes back to the house, I was able to reflect on how awesome it is to know that 99.9% of the time, I can find a running buddy. This is definitely something that should not be taken for granted and that can be attributed to many things - Run With Theoden's facebook page, the Charlotte Running Club, informative blogs on running from local enthusiasts. All of these things have sparked comaradie and fellowship in the running community here in Charlotte. I also like how the triathletes and the runners are training together now more than ever. We're one lucky bunch!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Week in Review

61 Miles
0 Doubles
1 Race - 6k in 21:19
13 Mile Long Run

Well the focus this week was simply to reunite with friends, to cheer loud, and to race hard. I had a great time with Garrett and his mom earlier in the week but still was able to get the miles in, despite the cold weather. I logged a fun workout with Jordan and felt pretty speedy doing it. I felt pretty good about my race on Saturday at the Club XC Champs and was even more excited about our team placement. It was really nice to spend time with former Wake teammates and to reminisce about fun times. I enjoyed my time with Addie Bracy as we invited her over for a pre-race meal with John and Garrett. Best of all, I was able to spend some quality time with all my running friends at the Club XC After Party, including hanging out with Ruth from Twin Cities. This is my sixth week over 60 miles, and I'm gearing up to start hitting 70-80 miles over the next three weeks.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Two Races, One City.

Goal 1: Thunder Road Marathon, cheer for friends in Plaza Midwood section in car.

Actual: Cheered for friends at Thunder Road Marathon at Mile 25.5, attempted to do so in the car, but feared that I would get stuck and not make it to Goal 2. Missed Danielle's 25th mile because I was putting chip on shoe.

Goal 2: USATF Club XC Championships @ McAlpine 6k with 5:45 ave goal pace

Actual: 6k @ 5:42 ave pace
4+ Mile Warm Up with CRC team
6k race @ 21:19 for 60th place, battled out with Colleen De Reuck in final stretch
9th Place CRC Team Finish
2.5 mile cool down

I did so much today that I'm not even sure if I can get it all into a relatively short blog, so I'll try to be as brief as possible. I started off the morning by sleeping in, and then waking up to remember that I still needed to fill my tank with gas so that I could drive to McAlpine for the race. I hopped in the car, but then was put onto a detour due to the GOTR 5k. So, I jumped onto 277 and Independence and went five miles out of my way to get gas. By the time I got back, it was time to get my gear on so Meagan, Jenna, John and I could go to the 18.5 mile mark to cheer Jordan on. We got there right on time and gave him a slight boost of energy as he headed down Caldwell.

We would have liked to stay here to continue cheering for the slew of other friends coming that way, but we had to get ready for our own race, so we headed back to my house to eat a pre-race breakfast and drink some more fluids. Soon, we walked half a mile from my house to the 25 mile mark, where we got to see Jordan again. I thought he looked great. Then we hung out near my house to see Billy and a couple other guys run by, but we had to head back in to start getting our gear packed into the car to go to McAlpine. We left the house by 10:50am, just in time for me to miss Danielle, Kevin, Eric, Theoden, and many more.
Once Garrett, Meagan, and I piled into the car and drove out to McAlpine, we didn't have much time to waste, and began our warmup with the crew of Meagan, Jocelyn, Kelly, Pezz, Alice, and Jenna. It was great to run together as a pack and we immediately realized that we did not have the snazzy warmups like all the other teams. We featured an assortment of different brands, colors, and styles, and we laughed at our ourselves for our authenticity. After a couple of bathroom breaks in the woods with Alice (the bathroom lines were too long), I put my Nike Zoom marathoners on and took a stride to the starting line. My favorite part was when I saw Val and she was wearing our CRC jersey and situated herself in the box next to us. Ben Hovis took some great pictures of us, most of which you will see below, and he snapped a shot right before the start. 12:45 came soon after that photo, and Meagan and I sprinted ahead after the sound of the gun to hopefully get a good position. We cut in to the cinder path and did quite well establishing our position. Since the goal was to run with Meagan as long as possible, I heard Meagan tell me she was on my shoulder. Perfect. We went through the first mile in 5:31 and I didn't panic because we had not dipped under 5:30, which would have most assuredly put me into oxygen debt.

I continued to look ahead at the 75+ women in front of me, and worked with Meagan. Once we hit the grassy turnaround, I fell off of Meagan's shoulder and really began to hurt. By the time the 2 mile mark approached in a split of 5:40, Meagan had already gained 10-15 meters on me and she looked strong. I immediately reassessed my plan and decided to keep Meagan within my sights. I was especially thankful for the slew of Charlotte runners out there to cheer us on because I could definitely hear them and it gave me that added motivation to keep my head up and driving forward.
By the time I hit the 3 mile marker, I was hurting. I didn't want to look at my split because I knew it would be slower than I would have liked, and it was: 5:50. In the final 1k of the race, I spent time trying to get around ladies who were going slower than I would have liked, and on the final downhill I felt like a couple of women were blocking me in and not picking it up for the finish. Once they moved out the way, I made my way past them to come out of the woods for the final stretch. Little did I know that as I battled it in to the finish that I was running stride for stride with Colleen De Reuck, as pictured below. I finished up feeling tired, but realized that I within 15 seconds of my college 6k PR.
In the finish chute, I found Meagan and Pezz and waited for the rest of the team to come in. It seemed like everyone was fairly pleased with their results. After a cool down, we were able to see that the Charlotte Running Club women's team placed ninth overall. Considering the club is just under two years old. I believe this is a huge accomplishment for us to have placed in the top ten of an elite field. It was a lot of fun to run with so many accomplished runners in Charlotte. I can only hope to add in the few that were sidelined today for next year's race. It was also really fun to actually participate in a competitive cross country race again because I hadn't run XC since Nov 2007. This race also served as a semi Wake Forest reunion, as I got to see Caitlin, Marley, Allie, and Liz. It was great to see former teammates! Allie got sixth place overall. She is bound to run a lot of good times next spring!

After our cool down, we went to cheer the men on and I enjoyed spectating as the men stormed on by.

As a reflection of the race, considering that I've been hitting 45-60 miles in the past 8 weeks, the race was a good effort. I would have liked to run faster in that final mile, as opposed to running the slowest at that point. However, it was strategically necessary to get out pretty fast to get a good position at the start. I think I paid for that decision in the latter parts of the race. As I have six weeks until the Houston Half Marathon, I know that there is a lot of work to be done over the course of the holiday weeks.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Exciting weekend to be in Charlotte

This Saturday, Charlotte is going to notice an influx of runners wandering the streets. Thousands of runners from all over the country will be arriving today and tomorrow for both the Thunder Road Marathon and the USATF Club XC Championships. These runners will make drivers mad when they jay-walk/run diagonally across the street, they will give local Italian restaurants a boost of sales when they flock in for carbo-loaded meals, and they will showcase their finishers' medal after the races in pride. Some of these runners you will not know, others you will know, or should have at least heard of. Friends from out of town, former teammates, and old high school rivals will all be coming to Charlotte for the same reason: our shared passion for running. There will be a slew of professional women out there - Tera Moody, Nicole Feest, Colleen de Reuck, Renee Metivier, Sara Slattery, and many more. I'm sure there are talented men coming out, but I'll leave it to Bill Shires to track them down.

This is an exciting time to be in Charlotte if you are a runner, and I would highly recommend that you take advantage of the events. The expo is going on uptown at the Convention Center on Thursday evening and all Friday. The Thunder Road Marathon starts at 7:45am. It's most likely that if you are a resident of Charlotte that you know of at least one person running the race, so get out there and cheer for them!

The Men's Masters XC Championship race is at 11:30am. The women's XC open race is at 12:45 and the men's start is at 1:30pm. The XC Champs after party starts at 5pm at Whiskey River and makes its way over to Strike City.

The Charlotte Running Club will have a booth at the Expo, which will really give us a lot of exposure. I think it's important for us to promote our club more and more as people are still under the misconception that it's for "faster" runners. We just want people who are passionate about running, and if you have that passion, then you are the best fit for the Club. I highly urge everyone to make it out to at least one of the events listed above!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Last Workout Before USATF Club XC

3.72 mile warmup

Fartlek cut Down

~3-2-2-3-2-1 with ~ 2 min rest @ ~5:14-5:25 pace

~ 4 miles cool down

Jordan is running the Thunder Road Marathon on Saturday. This didn't stop him from doing a workout with me today...or from putting in over 20 miles on each of those days. Despite the three days until his 26.2, he has run two workouts with me in the past week. He not only ran two workouts with me, but before each workout, he already put in at least 9 miles with a different group. Take, for instance, last Saturday: Jordan ran the Thunder Road course preview run for 13 miles, and then ran over 14 miles with us at McAlpine for a tempo. Today, his running schedule was a bit tamer as he had "only" run 8.6 miles prior to meeting up with me, where we ran at least 11-12 miles. While this sort of training approach would probably tear my Achilles in half, this seems to be working fine for him as he has not been injured in over a year. It will be exciting to see how Jordan does on Saturday. He's definitely put in the work.

So back to the workout. Jordan and I left our respective houses to meet halfway on the Sugar Creek Greenway. I got a late start and pushed the first two miles of my "warmup" to run under 7 min pace for both miles. Once I caught Jordan, we eased the pace back down to a more respectable range. I like to keep my workouts before races as fun and low key as possible. So, today I decided to do something different. Jordan and I would run around the Dilworth Speed Loop twice for our workout. I just chose markers to run fast towards, and once we reached those markers, we slowed to a jog rest. We repeated this cycle for two loops and ended up running at a pretty speedy clip. I really just wanted to maintain a solid form, control my breathing, and focus on the target. Although Jordan created a gap between us on several occasions, I visualized picking off girls in the race.

Splits On (off)
3:18 (1:36) at 5:22 pace
2:06 (1:44) at 5:23 pace
2:01 (2:02) at 5:14 pace
3:07 (2:20) at 5:30 pace (felt terrible)
2:18 (1:36) at 5:20 pace
1:16 for 400m

My splits were faster than anything I've done since the summer, which would explain why I felt so oxygen-deprived on the third interval. I got a boost of energy on the last 400m when Rebecca drove by and shouted words of encouragement. As we finished, we walked back to her house to check for some water, and, as a testament to how much Corbett and Rebecca support runners, they had water bottles conveniently out on the porch since the water dispenser wasn't out. I'll keep dreaming up the day that I own a house on the Dilworth speed loop and do the same thing.

In other news, Garrett took me to a homeopathic doctor in Kings Mountain, NC. His great aunt goes to this place, and they told me lot of cool stuff about my iron deficiency and then gave me a vile of liquid that I'm to take twice a day. They told me that I had had the flu (just got over that a week ago) and a bout of food poisoning (no idea) recently and that I'd been exposed to pesticides. Considering that I eat mostly organic, the only thing that could explain the pesticides exposure would be when I got the house sprayed for ants. Anyways, it was a great birthday present for a wannabe hippie like me. Now let's see what happens to my iron levels. Granted, it would be best for me to get my iron checked right now, before I start taking the liquid concoction. Stay tuned.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Week in Review

69.3 Miles
1 Double, 8 runs
2 Workouts

Well this week I hacked up 2 ounces of phlegm, coughed 197 times, and drank over 20 bottles of water. In between all of this, I still managed to run almost 70 miles, get in two solid workouts, and almost get over my sickness by the end of the week. While I'm not necessarily exactly where I'd like to be with my fitness right now, I know that as long as the effort is there, the times will come in races. One of my key weeks will be over Christmas, while I'm enjoying the warmer temperatures in southern California, so I'm guessing that will be a good week for me to get in some great running.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

50 Min Tempo with Friends

14-15 miles with 8 mile tempo in between at ave. 610-615 pace

34 min warmup, 14.5 miles with 8 mile tempo at 610 ave pace

Today I woke up at a normal hour of 8am to meet a group of 20+ runners for a long run, and, for those who wanted to hurt a little bit more, a tempo mixed in. I rolled into the parking lot at McAlpine to find a slew of runners, some of which I had never met, and some familiar faces. Once we got on the trail, we picked up another group so that combined we had over 20 runners. The best part was that there was an equal ratio of females to males, which is a rarity in itself. After 33 minutes of fun with the large group, about half of us split off for a restroom break before we started the tempo. Thomas, Lat, John, Ben, Meagan, Jordan, and a new guy joined us for this. John warned us that after the four mile mark, he would be picking it up, so we started off at a respectable pace Meagan and I leading the entourage of men. Fortunately, Jordan took over pacing duties after Meagan "gently" urged him to take over the pacing efforts.

The first four miles of the tempo were fun as we made our way from the start line of the course, to the 4 mile mark, and then back around to the course. Then we did the back loop of the third mile of the 5k course, and around there my pace group of Meagan and Thomas stopped at mile five. At this point, John and Jordan had picked up the pace to something under 5:40 and I could see them pulling away. Lat had joined them, and I didn't want to run the next three miles of this tempo watching as everyone pulled away from me at a quicker pace. For this reason, I decided to turn in the opposite direction of them, and to circle backwards onto the XC course from mile 1.5 back to the start. This was definitely the toughest part of the tempo, as I was solo, but I pushed a good bit to keep the effort solid. I ended with an overall average pace of 610, and was pleased with the strength I was able to maintain for the latter parts. I am finally getting over my sickness, and I hit my target pace for the workout. Ironic how this is the same pace I ran in the marathon over two months ago, but I know that with time I will begin to feel stronger. The sooner the better!

for 49:21 total

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Jordan's Club XC Workout for Meagan

3+ Mile Warmup
Set 1: 3x6 min w/ 1st 90 sec hard (3 min jog rest) from Club XC Start Line to past the mile mark
Set 2: 4x McAlpine hill loop (500m) (1 min jog rest)
Set 1: 3x6 min w/ mile splits of 5:42, 5:34, 5:32
Set 2: 3x McAlpine hill loop @ ave 1:53
1.8 Mile Cool Down

Meagan asked me to do parts of this workout that Jordan had crafted specifically for her upcoming race at Club XC in just 10 days. I blindly gave in to Meagan's pleas for company, knowing nothing except for the fact that Jordan was creating a workout that would (hopefully) make Meagan puke. Since I am coming off a sickness, I figured I could jump in for parts of it, and once Jordan sent me the workout, I was pleased to find that it was similar to what I had on schedule originally (5x5 min) and to find that I could jump out 2/3 the way through without feeling like I had let Meagan down too much.

As you can read in Meagan's post, she was a little worried about it, and I was too. After all, I hadn't worked out in 8 days and was still feeling congested and tired. Regardless, I made the drive out to McAlpine, arrived a little early, and began the warmup early. Eventually Meagan and Jordan arrived, and we enjoyed a nice warmup on the first miles of the course. After that, I did a couple of drills, 1 stride before we headed to the USATF Club XC Start Line. Jordan wanted to simulate the start of the race with the first 90 seconds hard, and that's exactly what we did. I tried to tuck in behind Jordan, expecting me to feel terrible, but I soon realized that I actually felt pretty good so I ran alongside him. After the first 90 seconds, Jordan always said "Settle" which at first I thought it meant slow down, but I soon used that phrase as a mental note for me to just relax, but maintain a pace fairly similar to the quick 90 second pace. It worked quite well. I felt much stronger on this section that I was expecting. Meagan tucked in behind us and her presence was reassuring. I envisioned it to be like this at the actual race - side by side! To be quite honest, I was guessing that I would have had a hard time hitting 6 min pace.

Then we went straight to the hill. This is the part where I went from having a great workout to a mediocre one as it was fairly difficult for me to keep my breath even with the symptoms from my cold and sore throat. I felt pretty good on the 1st one, but the 1 minute rest was too short for me given the circumstances. I felt lightheaded on the third one, and cut the workout short. I guess I could have given myself an extra minute and gutted out the fourth one, but it didn't seem worth it. Meagan continued on to dominate the third part and I was definitely amazed. I cooled down a short bit and drove back to get to work on time.

On my drive home, I reflected on the fact that the Charlotte Running Club team could have a strong appearance next weekend at McAlpine. While we are missing the speedy legs of Megan Hovis, I am confident we can represent our city! Be on the lookout for the CRC Jerseys on both men and women!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Week in Review

60.9 Miles
0 Doubles, 7 runs
5 miles below goal weekly mileage
1 workout

So, if you're actually a regular follower of my blog, you might be wondering why I did not post about another workout this week. However, knowing that my blog doesn't quite have the comedic effect that Megean Nedlo's blog has, I'm doubting that you questioned my lack of workouts. Despite the fact that Meagan and Jordan were 1,197 miles away from Charotte in Texas, I picked up the exact same bug that they recently just overcame. The sore throat, scratchy voice, sniffles and mini coughs have plagued me (and my running) over the past three days. You read that right, I picked it up after Thanksgiving. While I had a 6x3 min fartlek planned for Friday, I scrapped that as my head felt like it might explode and that my lungs might be displaced while I coughed. For that reason, I kept it simple, but was still able to get a nice long run in of 16 miles on Sunday with Matt and John at Davidson in the mid afternoon.

I hope to return back to my normal routine of workouts next week, with the understanding that effort is the important aspect to focus on until this sickness passes. I won't focus so much on pace so that I walk away with a positive attitude.

Most importantly, I was able to still reach a respectable weekly mileage while away on the Thanksgiving holiday and spending time with Garrett's family. I had a great time cooking a Thanksgiving meal with their family. Undoubtedly, I missed my own family, but since I still have Costa Rica still fresh in my mind, I felt much better than I otherwise would have.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

4-Mile Tempo with Lat

Goal: 25 minute tempo at 6:00-6:05 pace
Actual: 4-Mile tempo at 5:51 pace (5:57, 5:49, 6:00, 5:41)

This morning I woke up at 5:45am to prepare for a 4 mile tempo with Lat. I was supposed to meet him at the Brixx at East Blvd at 615am, so I had 13 minutes to get ready. I was out of the door by 5:57am, an accomplishment in itself. I met him right on time, and we ran back a couple of blocks to our unofficial start line at Dilworth Road East / East Blvd.

For the first mile, we went out a little quick, and Lat pulled us back in to a respectable pace. This mile was flat, then downhill, then a little uphill as we turned on Sterling Ave, Mr. Garmin showed 5:57. The second mile we both knew was going to be the toughest, but we pushed forward and ran actually quite fast on this rolling section. Our breathing was more labored at this point, and when Mr. Garmin beeped, I knew why the breathing was heavier, as we came through in 5:49. To me, the flat section of the Booty Loop is always the toughest because it is flat and you think that you can slow it down a little bit because you were just pushing on the hills, but you really can't. The effort seemed to be most difficult on this third mile and I focused on keeping my breathing under control. We came through right at 6:00 flat and you can tell by this time that Lat and I settled in a little bit during this mile. The fourth mile was flat and then downhill, so definitely the easiest of the four segments. It's pretty fun to just let your legs run with a mind of their own down a hill at the end of a tempo, and that's exactly what I did. Running this last portion didn't require too much thinking; I just trusted my legs would carry me to a fast time.

Next time I do a similar workout, I hope that my breathing feels better. I also felt pretty uncomfortable at that pace, so I want to feel like the tempo is an easier effort the next time I do it. I am pleased with the time as it is faster than my goal going into it. Lat's company was essential, and I am grateful for having him out there to push me. On that note, I am ready for Nedlo and Kinley to return from the great state of Texas so that we can all run together again.

2 mile warmup

4 mile Tempo (23:27 for 5:51 ave)
1 - 5:57
2 - 5:49
3 - 6:00
4 - 5:41

4 mile cooldown

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Week in Review

64.8 Miles
1 Double, 8 runs
15.5 Mile Long Run
1 Day in Winston-Salem

I don't really remember much about this week except for the fact that Liz was in town, which was a great time. As my first week back into "real" training, I posted two solid workouts (3x10 min and 12x1 min) and a long run of 15.5 miles. I feel more tired on my easy runs and more spent on my cool downs. I know that in just a couple week's time, I'll feel very strong, but I just need to be patient to get there.

I also can't help but think about how different/difficult it is going to be to train hard over the holidays, as this is something that I have never actually done in my entire running days. I am preparing my mind for this since I'm not used to actually working out over Thanksgiving and Christmas weeks. This Half Marathon training cycle will get me prepared for what it will be like next winter when I'll be training for the trials. This week I feel like I did not run with as many different people as I usually do, since Aaron, Jay, and Paul just finished up with the Richmond Marathon, and since some girls are sidelined with injuries. I'm sending everyone healthy vibes!

Friday, November 19, 2010

12x1 min

Goal: 12x1 min on/off at good effort
Actual: exactly that for 3.73 miles in 24 minutes

Today I had the honor to run with Liz, my old teammate and roommate from Wake! She had a workout too since she was selected to run for the BAA at the USATF Club XC Champs. I got together a solid group of Thomas, Aaron, and Eric to meet up with us at McAlpine so that we could check out the race course. In the late afternoon, we warmed up 2.34 miles and then really went right into the workout. In hindsight, I should have done strides since this was the first speedy thing I've done in quite some time, but Mother Nature's clock was quickly ticking to hours of darkness, so we jumped right in.

We started at the 1 mile mark on the bike trail and made our way into the 5k course. The entire time I felt strong and relaxed. I focused on my form and breathing to make the mintuers feel as effortless as possible. It was mentally taxing when Aaron and Thomas began to pull away from me on the 12th one, but I sucked it up and ran around the same pace I had for the previous 11.

We finished up and cut the cool down short so that we wouldn't get locked in to the Main Gate parking lot. Minuters are always harder than they sound, but the workout went well.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

First real workout since the marathon - 3x10 Min

Plan: 3x10 minutes with 2 min rest at 6-610 pace
Actual: 3x10 minutes with 3-4 min rest at 600-606 pace

After 48 hours back in the states, I decided to set my alarm for the early hour of 4:58am and to lace up my shoes for the Miner's Run at McAlpine at 5:30am. Mike and I had planned to run our workouts somewhat together as I did 3x10 minutes with 2 min rest and he did 3x2 mile repeats. After a 3.35 mile warmup with the Miner's crew of Paul and Bill, fresh off their weekend marathons, Mike Kahn, Ben, Billy, and Jinnie, we ran the workout on the first 2 miles of the USATF Club XC course, including the big hill. We started the first one way too fast, going through the 800m mark in something ridiculous like 2:41. After that, we ran much smarter intervals by running perfectly even 555 pace.

For all three intervals, Mike would pull away from me at around the 2k mark and create a 10 meter gap. I struggled going up the hill in the second half of the interval, and you will see this reflected in the paces for the last 4 minutes. Also, running down the steep hill was difficult in the dark, and the footing was loose. I was grateful when the sun came up for the third set. Since Mike was running to the 2 mile mark, I had some more time to rest since I had to wait for him to get back to the starting line.


1 - 10:53 (5:50, 5:03) for 1.82 miles at 6:02 ave pace...(3:03 rest)...ran past 2.8km mark
2 - 10:02 (5:55, 4:07) for 1.67 miles at 6:04 ave...(4:00 rest)
3 - 10:27 (5:56, 4:32) for 1.74 miles at 6:00 ave...stopped at 2.8km mark

1.65 mile cooldown.

Overall, I am quite pleased with this effort, especially after vacation. In the past, when I've returned from vacation, it's been very difficult for me to post decent times in workouts. I felt controlled and relaxed on the first mile, and a tad weak on the hill. However, with some more speed workouts over the next couple of weeks, I think that I can run with confidence at USATF Club Cross.

Mike did exceptionally well and ran negative splits on all of his intervals. Yes, he negative split on the second mile, even with the steep hill!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Week in Review

45.1 miles
0 Doubles
1 day off
6 full days in Costa Rica
countless hours hiking up and down mountain

Considering my goal was the run 40 miles while on vacation in Costa Rica, I'm basically satisfied with this week. However, I am also a little bit disappointed in myself for not putting in the mental effort to run a couple more miles. It was difficult to run up and down the steep mountain in Manuel Antonio and it was both mentally and physically taxing to run up them. Also, who else wouldn't be drawn to the scenery below?

The rocks outside of Manuel Antonio National Park

The view from our ocean villa

Once I returned to Charlotte late Saturday night, Jordan was kind enough to run an easy four miles. Then, after a 12 hour turnaround, I picked up my parents at their airport hotel, drove them to McAlpine, and picked up some miles at McAlpine with Megan, Anne, John, Ben, Mike and Jordan. Overall, got in some good runs. No more international travel for me until after January 2012....

Monday, November 8, 2010

Week in Review

60.7 miles
1 double
1 Flight to Costa Rica (4.5 hours)
1 Van ride to Manuel Antonio (4.5 hours)
5 miles of walking

The first part of this week (Mon-Thurs) was spent in Charlotte, so I was able to get in a decent amount of miles before heading out on a flight Thursday mid-day. Meagan and I had a mediocre workout on Wednesday morning and then I had a rainy morning run on Thursday before going to the airport with Garrett. Once arriving in San Jose, I ran in a gated neighborhood by repeating a 1-1.5 mile loop about 4 times on both Friday and Saturday. Sunday I ran down a mountain, walked back up, ran down another mountain to the beach, ran on the beach, and then walked back up the mountain to end my run. Overall, if I can keep this pattern up to run every day, I'll be good to go upon my return to Charlotte.

Also, thanks to Jay Holder and Mark Hadley for providing me updates on Shalene Flanagan's NYC Marathon Debut. Studly.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Costa Rica Update

After getting stranded in San Jose for two nights instead of making the drive to our villa in Manuel Antonio on the Pacific Coast, we finally arrived in our villa last night. That sentence makes our trip sound much easier than it actually was. But, an adventure isn't truly an adventure until things go awry, not as planned. Garrett, mom, dad and I all arrived in San Jose on Thursday around 3pm. The plan was to spend the night at an eco-friendly hotel in San Jose until the next day, when Vanessa, Sally, Joey, and Anna were arriving from LA. Instead, there was a hurricane that swept through the Pacific and Caribbean islands, which flooded towns and caused roads to collapse. This meant that we had no way to get to Manuel Antonio. After a lot of frustrating phone calls with our host, we finally found out that we could get to the villa after 36 hours of thinking we would never actually arrive at the villa and also not get an entire refund.

We are very grateful that everything worked out. I'm also grateful that everyone is now safe and able to repair their homes. We drove through a really poor town that housed many of the people who worked on the palm tree plantations and all of their houses were under water. It was definitely a sad drive through and we donated some of our clothes to them to help them recuperate from their losses. Our drive was through very winding, mountain roads. Coffee beans are grown on the side of a steep mountain. It is very scary and sad to know that those workers do not get paid much money. It made me feel better that I do not drink coffee. The roads were so bumpy that Vanessa and Garrett both felt nauseous that we had to stop for Ginger Ale at a street mercado.

When we arrived in Manuel Antonio, our driver was told the road was down and we had to wait at the bottom of the mountain road for our host to come pick us up. The adventure just kept getting better and better. Whenever we thought we were close, another curve ball would be thrown our way and we our original plan was thrown out the window as our future was not in our hands. After 4 hours in the car, 1 hour of waiting on a street in Quepos, and switching from one tour van to two random SUVs, we made our way up an old gravel mountain road that had not been used in over twenty years, but was being used since the main road had collapsed due to the five days of rain. We finally arrived at our four-level tree-house style villa at 730pm. We received our tour, put the boys in the crow's nest at the top of the house, and settled into our beds.

Now that you know all the background, you're probably wondering how the heck I am running here. If not, then you don't know that this blog is typically about running. In Manuel Antonio, I am able to run up and down the mountain road. There are several hills that are much steeper and longer than my running legs can handle, so I'm forced to walk. There also are not any sidewalks and ticos drive pretty crazy here, so I need to be very aware of the cars on the road. Fortunately for me, though, the closed mountain road is still accessible for pedestrians, so that means I have an entire mile of road that is free of cars. I've been able to run about 6 miles per day, which is what I had aimed for. I would like to get in more than that, but it's tough on my legs to do so many hills. At least it feels like I'm working out when I'm not actually doing a scheduled workout. My parents have run behind me for each of the runs, so it always helps to have company. We've also been walking at least 3-5 miles a day since the beach is about 1.5 miles away and since we have been walking to the grocery store. We've been a pretty active bunch of people on vacation.

Well, that's all I've got for now. I'll see you all when I get back to the States. Hopefully I'll be in the same running shape as I was before...

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Week in Review

63.2 Miles
0 Doubles
10k Race in 38:13
Long run of 12 miles

Hey hey, it was my first week over 50 miles since the marathon! I guess I need to start getting my rear in gear anyways, since it's been four weeks. This week was pretty uneventful as I didn't feel great on any of the runs, workouts, or races. Fortunately, I've got a good feeling that my legs are finally going to bounce back next week. The highlights came mostly from the company: the workout with Thomas and Michelle on Tuesday, an easy run with Kelly Fillnow on Wednesday, and then an easy run with Justin on Friday. I took advantage of sleeping in most days, so that was a huge plus. I plan to frontload this next week before I take off for Costa Rica at 1045am on Thursday. Looking forward to a tempo with Meagan on Wednesday.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Fall Harvest Run 10k Race Recap

Goal: Run a 10k at Marathon Pace (6:10)
Actual: Pretty much that (6:08 pace) for 38:13

Well this was a mediocre race for me. For all intents and purposes, John and I made the trek up to Huntersville in the hopes of winning a cash prize. To our defense, the website leading up to the night before the race had publicized "cash prizes" for top three overall finishers, and Ben Hovis recollected how he took home some cash in 2009. After a 3 mile warmup, John and I showed up in all-out racing gear at the start line and discovered rather quickly that we were in the minority. We spotted Allen Strickland at the starting line, and he even referred to losing out on the opportunity "to win money." We smiled and continued our strides.

Other than the cash, the other motivation for me running this race was to get in a solid workout. I had a 60 minute progression tempo on the calendar, but opted for a race of that effort at the 10k distance. I figured that by running the race, I'd still be achieving the goal of a hard effort.

At the starting line, John and I scoped out his competition. It turned out to be a triathlete wearing a plaid shirt and a mullet wig. My competition turned out to be a man in a taco costume that seemed particularly uncomfortable to run in. Once the gun went off, we had a solid downhill for the first 400m, and about 10 people sprinted in front of Allen and I.

I felt like the pace was a bit fast, but figured the downhill was the reason. I came through the first mile in 558. I figured the ten people in front of me would fall back. Sure enough, after the second mile (603), I had already passed six of them and would pass the other two after the third mile (601). We ran around the Huntersville Business park and then rounded back out toward the highway. I was familiar with these streets since I had run a tempo here back in September.

Once we got back onto the highway, I only had the taco man to look towards and I passed him at mile 4 (613). After that, it was a race where I was running against myself and I blasted my decision to run this race. I would have had much more fun if I had run with one of my buddies over at McAlpine. Oh well. I kept on trucking, looking at the rear end of the guy 100m in front of me. The fifth (610) and sixth (611) miles were uneventful as I crested the top of a gradual hill and then turned onto the road towards the finish. The entire time down the home stretch, I was amazed at how much easier the last 10k of my marathon felt.

I cruised into the finish in 38:13, where John was waiting for me, and freezing his tush off! He got the win, with a new road PR, just edging out the mullet man. The two of us enjoyed a nice warm down together, and both felt really sore and tired. We saw Allen later, and he ran 42:01, and was upset that he lost to a taco.

In the end, we got a blanket for our endeavors. We waited around while the race directors figured out why these crazy runners thought there was cash prizes. Turns out they had used the "old" website from 2009 up until the night before the race. While it was an honest mistake, it was definitely a letdown. The blanket is very nice, but the $20 gift certificate that the age group winners received would have been an added bonus.

In the end, I realized that about a month after the marathon, it's still hard to recover from workouts and races. It just takes a couple of more days than it typically does, when you don't have a marathon under your belt. I'm ready for this recovery period to get back to normal!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Since you asked...

A lot of people have asked me over the past couple of weeks if I am planning on running another marathon before the Trials in January 2012. Most of the time, people have asked this with the expectation that I have a goal to run faster and to try to hit the "A" standard (2:39). To be honest, shortly after running at Twin Cities, I already knew that I did not want to run another marathon before the Trials.

The reason? I left TCM with such a great feeling of elation, confidence in myself, and contentment. I want to enter the Trials race with the complete and utter confidence that I gained from the Twin Cities Marathon. That is not to say that I don't believe in myself; it is to say that the idea of chasing a time in a random marathon doesn't sound nearly as exciting as running my heart out at the Trials with, quite possibly, the same group of women I ran with at TCM (with the addition of Addie Bracy, Megan Hovis, and potentially Meagan Nedlo). Really, I'd like to use the positive experience as a driver for my training in the next 13 months.

On the horizon of 2011, I hope to achieve a new PR at the USA Half Marathon Championships in Houston, Texas. This course will be run on miles 1-9 and 23-26.2 of the US Olympics Trials course. I am honored to have the opportunity, yet again, to run with Ruth Perkins. I also will get to watch Meagan Nedlo race for the Olympic Trials qualifying time. Not to mention that I will also be starting the race from the Houston Astros Minute Maid Field, which is Garrett's minor league affiliation, supplying me with yet another reason to run this race. Symbolically, my running endeavors will come full circle with Garrett's baseball endeavors as I run from the place where he strives to be in a couple of years. For these reasons, I am really looking forward to this race. Before then, I've got the USATF Club XC Champs in Charlotte as well as a 9 day excursion to Costa Rica with my family.
Further, Mark Hadley and I agreed that it would be best to focus on some of the USA Championship Races, such as the 15k and the 25k. I'll know more once 2011 gets here, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fartlek on Hills in Plaza Midwood

Goal: Hilly Fartlek of some sort
Actual: 6-5-4-3-2-1 on some hills, all on feel

I've been working out with Thomas a bit more lately now that he's back from Oklahoma and also now that he lives 3 miles from house. Last night we planned to meet this morning, to run from our respective houses at 550am and to meet halfway somewhere on Central. Michelle was doing 6-5-4-3-2-1 with 2 min rest so we essentially stole her workout and did it over the rolling hills of Plaza Midwood and Myers Park. We warmed up about 4 miles and then started our first interval.

Once we started, my body didn't feel great but it also didn't feel terrible. Over the past week or so, I've felt really out of breath on my workouts. I think it has to do with the weather and not really being used to the changes in humidity. Regardless, this workout was fun because we just went on feel and had no idea what pace we were going. It was nice to finish the rep and then run back to Michelle to pick her up. I tried to focus on maintaing a solid form and running as efficient as possible. I was glad to have Thomas there to push me because there were moments where I really wanted to just slow down. After the last 1 minute interval, I cooled down about 1.5 miles.

In other news, with the guidance of my mom, I did some research on what might inhibit the absorption of iron. I found that gluten is a main inhibitor, along with coffee, caffeine, tea, and calcium (but I already knew about those). In the end, I'm trying to limit the amount of wheat products I eat over the next couple of weeks to see if it helps increase my iron levels. At the same time, I have never had a ferritin level higher than 20 when I'm not injured, so I guess between 12-20 is a normal level for me. Yet, it won't hurt to try something a little different for now. I also ordered several vitamins based on my own research and then Garrett's research:

Vitamin B12 (vegetarians don't get B12)
Beta Alanine (helps in a faster recovery for endurance athletes)
Lysine (helps with the absorportion of iron)
L-Glutamine (i don't remember what this one does)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Shortened Long Run at American Tobacco Trail

Goal: 13 miles
Actual: 11 miles

After a weekend of fun with the Bullocks in Greenville and a couple days of running on my own, I was ready for some company on a run and opted to run with Addie Bracy at the American Tobacco Trail in Apex, NC. I woke up at 640am and got all my stuff, including my cat, packed into the car so that I could meet Addie and Aaron by 930am. Turns out that I completely overestimated how long the drive would take and arrived at the trail at 9am. Fortunately, Addie drove over as soon as she could so we could start a little bit earlier.

The conversation was great as Addie told me about her Chicago marathon experience and her running goals. We also exchanged stories about socially awkward runners. Addie trains completely on her own and, to me, that makes her that much more of a stud. She trains 99% on her own and pushes her mind to the limits every workout because she doesn't have any obligation to meet someone out there on the trail every day, so that means she must will herself out of pure dedication. Fortunately for me, willing myself out of bed in the early hours of the morning is a bit easier when I know that I'll be meeting a group of my five closest friends in Charlotte. I think that all of the runners in Charlotte who have a dedicated group to run with should not take this for granted. You are very lucky to have such great company on runs because not everyone has that luxury!

Enough preaching. Luckily the conversation helped the time go by pretty quickly, and, judging from how my legs felt at 11 miles, I think we dipped under 7 min pace for a couple of the last miles. They just felt tired and sore so I opted to veer off to the parking lot when Addie called it quits.

I had planned on running 13 miles to hit 50 miles for the week, but instead opted for 11 miles to top off at a whopping 48. I figure it's best now to be smart and take things easy instead of rushing my mind or body.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

11x1 min on/off

Goal: 10x1 min with 1:30 rest
Actual: 11x1 min with 1:15 rest

For my second workout back after the marathon, I opted for a simple and light fartlek of 11x1 min with 1:15 rest. I was fortunate enough to have the company of Thomas for the run, so we met at my house at 620am. I enjoyed the conversation with Thomas, but seemed to have trouble breathing. I felt like I was gasping for air and that I needed to stop talking to conserve more energy. I'm guessing it's the change in weather that's affecting me.

We warmed up for about 20 minutes and started when the Garmin beeped at us. After looking at my splits, we got faster for the last 5, so that was a good sign. We also ran an extra one because I apparently don't understand the Garmin's timed workout setting. While my breathing felt off, my hip flexors did not cause me any discomfort this morning, and it felt like most of the aches in my legs are gone. Overall, it was a successful workout and I can walk away from it with confidence, especially given the fact that I haven't done something super speedy in a while. I think I like the longer stuff better though. :o)

PS. I got my blood drawn yesterday for a check on my iron, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin D levels. Should get the results back early next week. Keep in mind that my highest ferritin level ever was a 25 and my lowest ever was a 4. Last time I got it checked in May, I was at a 10. Obviously, high iron levels are not my strong suit.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

First Workout Back

After receiving my running plan for the next three months from Coach Mark Hadley, I was ready to finally test the legs after the marathon with a workout. My goal for the next few weeks is to run workouts for fun, without wearing my Garmin or worrying about pace splits, and just running on feel. If that means even just jumping in random workouts, then so be it. Going on that mentality, and wanting to make things as casual and fun as possible, I decided to invite myself to Bill Shire's workout and even invited Mike Beigay for more company.

We met at 8am Saturday at McAlpine for some miles together. Being the Illinoisan that I am, I jumped out of the redmobile in shorts and my favorite yellow Craft t-shirt, and immediately Mike made fun of me for my lack of warm clothing. At that moment, I felt great and wasn't that cold, so I scoffed at Mike while Bill noted that they were Southerners and I was technically a crazy Northerner. Once we started running, the cold immediately hit me as a light breeze made the cool air even colder on my dry skin. My wrists immediately felt numb and I instantly regretted not at least wearing gloves. In the end, we ran a solid 5 miles of warmup and then I ran back to my car so I could find something in the bag of clothes I had stashed in my trunk, ready to go to Goodwill. I found an 80s style long sleeve that worked just fine.

Mike and Bill were planning on a 5 mile tempo, and after my long schedule of 10 hours standing and barely eating enough, I had decided on the warmup I would only do 4 miles. We started out, with Mike and I as the fearless leaders, and Bill sitting comfortably on my shoulder. We went out at a solid clip, and I felt pretty good. Towards the end of the tempo, I could feel soreness in my hip flexors, which I figured was a remnant from the marathon.

In the end, our splits were:


While my legs were tired, I was pleased with this workout. With Costa Rica in less than three weeks, I'm trying to build up my strength before I take over a week of some downtime as I enjoy time with my family and Garrett in the rainforest of Manuel Antonio. Upon my return from tropical paradise, training will become more regimented as I begin to build up for the USATF Club XC Champs and then the USATF Half Marathon Championships in Houston on January, 30th 2011.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Jumping Right Back In...Week in Review

Now it's been over a week since the marathon, and I'm pleased to say that my legs feel 99% recovered. In fact, they started feeling fairly decent about three days after the marathon. I had to fight the euphoric feeling to just run my heart out, and instead chose to follow the advice from my wise high school coach. He had told me on Sunday after the marathon that I would find myself to be in euphoria with running, the most in love with it than I ever had been before, but that it would be in my best interest to keep running to a minimum. Like a high school girl trying to get over a bad-boy crush, I ignored my desires and took it easy...but only in running.

Despite the newly acquired free time, I was rather busy with other commitments.

Spent 17 hours in a car with John and Garrett over the span of 48 hours to go to a Wake Forest teammate's wedding in Nashville, TN. Reunited with several of my old WF XC teammates. Danced. Watched Matt get married. Tracked Kelly Fillnow in her Ironman in Kona. Worked...a lot. Baked vegan pumpkin cornbread and pumpkin bread. Caught up on emails and wrote people back. Partnered with Mark Hadley to make a race plan. Outlined my 2011 Race Schedule. Ran with friends.

Most importantly, I realized that a lot of people are a part of my "team." After all, if you have a great race or have a terrible race, people come out of the woodwork to show their support. You really come to discover who is cheering for you or who is supporting you, who is a true teammate.

I believe that all of the people in the Charlotte Running Club deserve to feel as a part of a team and I hope that the Club can continue to build upon this sense of shared accomplishment. An accomplishment doesn't just have to be a success story. An accomplishment could be coming back from an injury, finishing a race even when your body is shutting down, or mentally tuning out negative energy around you. There are accomplishments every day in a runner's life, and there are people here to acknowledge that and to cheer you on every step of the way.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Twin Cities Marathon: A Race to Remember

Goal: Qualify for Olympic Trials B Standard...2:45:30 and don't die
Actual: 2:41:53 with a negative split (1:21:37, 1:20:16)
After what seemed like an eternity of waiting, Sunday morning finally arrived. I had a fitful night of sleep from 3am and on, and finally got out of bed at 445am, 15 minutes before I had set for my alarm to go off. I immediately ate a white chocolate macadamia nut Clif Bar and then got all my race gear on. I ate a bowl of oatmeal mixed with Silk around 515am too. By 530am, I was ready to roll. I asked my dad to go down to the garage to grab the car and wait in front of the hotel so that we could easily jump into the car once Ruth, Mike and I met in the lobby.

I knocked on Ruth's door at 535am to tell her I'd be heading down soon, and I swear she must have thought I was crazy because the Elite buses did not leave until 6am, and we were only a two minute drive from the buses. However, she was a good sport and was ready to go right on time. We waited for a couple of minutes in the lobby for Mike and we all jumped into the car that my dad had already warmed up. He's the best. :o)

We pulled up in front of the race headquarters - the Crowne Plaza - and made our separate ways to our respective buses. Mike and I hugged each other good luck before he boarded the citizen buses and Ruth and I boarded the Elite bus. I sat in a seat with Bill and Ruth settled across from us. Bill and I enjoyed a great conversation with a woman from Buffalo and we shared stories about the differences in weather in our states. It was a great way to keep our mind off of the race.

Soon enough we could see the Metrodome in the distance, and I knew we were close to the start. The bus pulled to stop in front of the Church that had kindly offered its basement to the Elite Athletes to lounge in before the 8am start. Since we arrived at the church around 630am, I thought the 75 minutes we had to wait would feel like an eternity. The minutes actually flew by. The elite coordinators had put out gatorade, water, coffee, bars, and vaseline for the athletes to use. There was also a nice bathroom facility that never seemed to have a long line. Bill and I chatted a bit and had a good conversation with another masters runner. By looking around the room, I noticed that were several more elite masters runners than Open Elite runners. This made sense since it was the USA Masters Championship. I checked some emails on my phone and listened to a couple of songs with my legs elevated on the wall.

Before I knew it, I had bundled all of my stuff into the bag they had provided and threw it into the gear truck. I did a couple minutes of jogging in the parking lot and heard someone calling my name. I looked around, clueless, and finally I noticed that it was Mike calling my name. I was thrilled to see him! We gave each other a high five and scoped out the finish line. I did a couple of strides and then I found Adam Mayes...Such a great way to start a marathon by seeing your own folk. After the wheeler start at 755am, Ruth and I found our way to the front of the start line. Of course, once the elite men came out, they pushed us back a couple of feet, but we were still within one second of the gun time with our chip time, so we did a pretty good job.

The gun went off and I used my elbows to ensure I wasn't tripped. I situated myself with Ruth in my site. After about 400m, I heard Mike come up and he attached himself to Bill who was in front of me. I had an urge to go with Bill and sped up a bit, but Ruth, the true marathon veteran, called to me that we were too fast and to fall back with her. Bless her soul, because she saved my marathon only 400m into it.

Over the course of the next 20 miles, I shared in an unforgettable, unique experience. Ruth and I became captain and co-captain of a pack of four to five women as we maneuvered through the sea of marathoners. Five goals of making an Olympic Trials Qualifier became one goal; our camaraderie propelled us forward, to eventually pass over eight women together as a group and to all gain the Olympic Trials Qualifying B Standard. By encouraging each other, we had so much fun and made the marathon feel almost effortless for the first 18 miles. My advice to everyone is to make friends and to run as tightly together as possible to work together. If you do that, your chances of success in the final 10k should be much greater.

Now to get into a bit more detail...Ruth and I ran together for the first 2 miles and we eventually came upon two other women - Carol and Krista - who ran for LaSalle and were looking to run a qualifying time. Ruth's proposal for them to group up with us must have seemed pretty good, because they accepted and we all tucked in together. Ruth coached us in those first minutes - she told us that we needed to glue to each other and that we needed to all cut as close to the turns as possible so that we run the shortest possible distance. She also realized that it would be best for us to alternate leads. Carol and Krista took it starting from mile 3 and we alternated from that point forward. Eventually, we realized it was best to lead in pairs, so Carol and Krista became a pair, while Ruth and I became the other pair.

Ruth and I ended up sharing my special fluids water bottles, and it worked out perfectly. I would grab the bottle, take a swig of water, and then hand it over to Ruth. Once she was done, I would have another opportunity to take another sip, and then hand it back. After we were both through with it, we would toss the bottle to the wayside. I took my first Honey Stinger Gel at mile 5. I also held the bottle for Ruth while she took a Gel Block.

The first half of the course looped through three different lakes in Minneapolis. The crowds here were felt like they had taken a class in Marathon Cheering 101 because they were saying all the right things. The synergy in our group was visible to outsiders as they shouted to us "Looking great ladies - great way to work together" or other things similar to that. It made us smile and feel confident that our teamwork was going to serve as the catalyst to achieving our goals.

Before mile 9, I advised the girls that my dad, high school coach Holda, and Ruth's husband would be at miles 9, 17, and 20.5 to cheer us on. The three men had mapped out the four spots where they would see us and utilized my dad's car to hit those spots on a point-to-point course. I'm impressed with their ability to navigate the streets of Minneapolis while the roads were closed off. We heard them cheering at mile 9 and, as you can see in the picture, I was quite happy to see them.

If a fly had situated itself on my shoulder from miles 9-13, it would have heard so many positive statements coming out of our mouths...Ruth always instructed us when to cut the tangents, I reminded us to relax on the downhills and use them to our advantage, and Krista and Carol affirmed that we were doing great. When we passed one woman, we invited her to tuck in with our group. When someone was falling off, we offered those words to encourage them to stick to us.

Mile 11 came up and I took another Honey Stinger. At this point, there was very sharp, but quick pain that came up in my lower hamstring. I had a slight moment of panic, but the feeling of pain went away in less than 1 second. It happened one more time, but eventually it wore out, so I pushed any doubts out of my mind. I told myself that my legs would hold up. I also did not tell any of the other girls this because I wanted everyone to maintain a positive attitude.

At the half marathon mark, we came through in 1:21:36 and we all stated how we were right on pace, with some cushion room for the last 10k, where the hills were. Our pack had been cruising along at an average of 613 pace. I kept waiting for my legs to start to ache or for my breathing to get out of control, but it never came. The miles from 13-18 flew by. The crowd support never ceased. People were hanging out and cheering us in, so happy to see women together in a pack. We kept on trucking. At mile 17.5, the Caitlin/Ruth fan club cheered us from over a bridge and Holda screamed to me that we looked great and relaxed.

In the next couple of miles, I started to feel really good. I took my last Honey Stinger at mile 19, and here I decided that I wanted to keep going at good clip before the hills hit around mile 21. I pulled away a little after mile 20, after Ruth and I shared our last water bottle together. I urged her to come with me, and then I went for it.

The hills approached and I kept looking straight ahead, focusing on the next guy that I could pass. I used the cheers from the spectators as my fuel - they told me that I (#54) looked really strong and were amazed. At least ten spectators told me this. They could have been lying to me, but in my mind, they were there to cheer just for me. Miles 21-23 are where the biggest hills were, and I barely noticed. My miles splits here were 606, 611, 613. What helped most is that the hill would have a decent incline for 200m, and then level off for 50m, which allowed me time to recuperate. Then it would incline again, but I was catching people, so it flew by and I barely even noticed that I had already covered the worst of the hills. Suddenly I had turned onto Summit Street, where there were only about 4 more miles to go. I remembered what Ruth had said earlier in the race: "Ladies, when we get to Summit, it's in the bag!" I was feeling great. I had already passed 10 people, and two women. Up ahead, I saw Mike Beigay and my heart sank. I knew how well his training went this summer and he had high hopes for a big PR. I cried his name out and tried to encourage him to come with me. He told me to go on.

On Summit Street, the crowds were ridiculous crazy! It's a long straightaway for a mile and a half and I decided it was best to latch onto a young man to get my mind off the huge stretch of road that I could see in the distance. He turned around, said "DAMN!" and kept at it. I didn't want to waste a breath so I didn't say anything. In my head, I thanked him. I was worried about hitting the wall but figured if I just kept barreling forward, I might hit the wall or I might not, so I made a decision: I should just go for it and run with all my heart. Turns out that decision was a good one; it worked out great.
I felt fabulous on Summit Street. I felt like I was running free and that all of my training had prepared me for this final 10k and that these thousands of people out there were cheering just for me. I kept my head up and pushed forward to pass more and more people. In the last 10k, I was so focused that I didn't even notice the mile markers. I didn't catch the mile splits but was able to catch the two-mile splits. I looked down and saw 12:10. I was rolling. At mile 23, I took my last water bottle and was sad that I didn't have Ruth there to share it with me. I tried to throw it in the street so that if she could see me, she could maybe pick it up (I found out later that she did see me throw it and contemplated grabbing it!).

At mile 24, I could feel the bottom of my feet, and I remembered what Jordan told me once that he'd rather wear flats and have feet that hurt for a couple of miles than wear trainers that could potentially slow you down due to the added weight. I decided that my feet really didn't hurt after all. Sure enough, I forgot about how my feet felt. I checked the elapsed time on my watch and calculated that I could potentially run a 2:43 (obviously my math was wrong). I felt my legs in Mile 25 and worried for a moment about their ability to pound on the approaching downhill to the finish. I was afraid they'd turn to rubber and wobble, forcing me to tumble down the hill instead of cruising down it. Fortunately, my legs cooperated and I sprinted toward the finish, with a tingling feeling the entire time. If there were any water stops at miles 24 and 25, I didn't see them and I worried that I would bonk because of the lack of fluids in the final miles. Fortunately, I must have done a good job in the earlier portions of the marathon of hydrating because it did not effect me in the final two miles.

I knew the finish was coming after I rounded a left turn and I felt so great, so fast, and so grateful. Grateful for the women who worked together, grateful for the man who let me latch onto him, grateful for my parents cruising around the course, grateful for the opportunity to run as an elite, grateful for the Minnesotans who cheered for me, grateful for Mark Hadley's coaching, and grateful for the Charlotte Running Community. I thought about all of that in the final .2 of the marathon; how all of those things had culminated into making this debut a success. Those thoughts helped me reach the finish line, and I crossed it with pride.

I didn't even look at the official finish clock, so I didn't realize what my time had been until I looked at my own stopwatch. 2:41:53. A negative split with a second half marathon time of 1:20:17 on the hillier part of the course. My last six miles of the course were: 606, 611, 613, 603, 602, 600. I closed stronger than I started. I was waiting for my legs to give way, but they didn't. I felt fabulous. I was elated. I looked around expectantly for my parents and Holda. They showed up and ran right into the finish chute and gave me hugs. Holda was so happy. I know that my mom wished she could have driven/run with them around the course, but her injured shouldered kept her sidelined at the finish. Next marathon, she'll be with them!

I looked back at the finish line, looking for Ruth, but didn't see her so I congratulated a couple of guys who had helped me out, and then an escort came and ushered me to the elite tent. Inside, I found the room where I could change and spotted Bill and found how that he ran OOO - out of control! He ran a 2:40:02. I'm so proud of him. He bruised his ribs just a little over two months ago and here he was sitting in his chair, having run faster than he did at OBX last year.

Soon, all the ladies who had been part of my pack, came in. Ruth, Carol and Krista all run under the 2:46:00 mark to make it the Trials. Ruth and I hugged and already began talking about how we would do this again at the Trials in January 2012, work together as a group and make the most of our camaraderie.

It was in the tent where I discovered a flood of texts from supportive friends, family, and running partners. I cannot express what a wonderful feeling of elation this provoked from me. I am so happy to be a part of the Charlotte running scene and I am so thankful for all the love that was showcased throughout this weekend. A special shout out goes to Rebecca Thomason for sending me a bottle of wine and two Guinness Chocolate Mousse cups from room service. I want to list off all the people who texted, called, or facebooked me, but you know who you are, and please know that it did not go unnoticed.

Reflecting upon my first marathon, I got spoiled. Everything was perfect. My fueling strategy, my race tactics, and the weather. I know that not every marathon from this point forward will be as perfect as this one; it will always hold a special place in a my heart.

I was lucky: four girls to talk to for over two hours. 40 Degrees. Parents cheering. Water Bottles. No injuries. Everything about this spoiled me, but I'll always be able to use this race as a motivation in those others where I might not get so lucky. Until then, I'm going to relish in its grandeur.