Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cookin' and Readin', Breakin' the Sched

Over the past couple of days, I've ditched my curfew, allowed my facebook status to remain the same for over three days, and swept the floor every night. By ditching these seemingly mundane activities that seem to be a regular part of my schedule, I have been able to go back to my roots and do things that I've always tremendously enjoyed but have done too little of: baking and reading.

Of course, growing up, the bulk of my young years revolved around anything that didn't have to do with TV. Seeing that we only had four channels, it was much more entertaining to run around the woods with my best friends Sarah and Willa, play baseball with brothers (using the trees as bases in my backyard), or, on those wintry mix days, to have a tea party, read, or bake. In turn, I figured out some pretty crafty ways on how to have a blast without all the technical garb.

Yearning for those feelings of accomplishment knowing that I did something that required the use of my own creative skills (as opposed to becoming a vegetable in front of the TV or Facebook), I decided to bake. I was also feeling completely stressed out, and so for these reasons I decided that baking a cake would do the trick. Even though I knew I would barely eat said cake, I was making it, darn it. John and I trekked over to Target to pick up supplies on Thursday night...and only three hours later, I had a cake!

I made a triple layer chocolate cake (courtesy of Emily's Grandmother (in-law) which included the very cumbersome task of hand grating three bars of Lindt Chocolate Bars and chopping up 1 cup of pecans for the frosting. After smoothing the last of the frosting to hide the cake entirely, I felt accomplished. I felt like I had used all of this negative stressful energy and transferred it directly into the cake.

Typically running does this for us, but I don't run all the time, and I didn't feel like running even more than I already had in the morning. Really, it was a way for me to do exactly the opposite of what I have been doing with my free time - which I would consider be nothing because my facebook surfing has gone too far. Since I keep thinking I am getting dumber the further I get from my college graduation, I feel these urges to stimulate my mind - and baking definitely does that, especially if it is a new recipe (and the Chocolate Cake was).

Funny - too - because several people mentioned to me that I was so motherly since I love to bake cakes for people and bring them slices on their birthdays (Billy). I think it also has to do with the fact that I own two aprons and most definitely wear them when I am concocting some sort of new dish. Regardless, my reputation among the running circle has now moved from crazy ginger girl to aspiring Julia Child. Okay, Okay. I won't go THAT far, but they are probably wondering if I'm addicting to the Food Network.

That was the cooking expedition.

The next thing I did was read "The Shadow of the Wind" by Carlos Ruiz Zafon in less than three nights. On Tuesday night, I stayed up until 11:30pm to read a book. Was this a bad idea? Probably, considering I had just finished a semi-tiring workout at 730pm, was racing four days later in a (predicted) winter storm, and that the stated time was two hours past my normal bedtime hour. Combined with the fact that I woke up this morning at 538am to meet the Dowd group at 6am, that tallies up five reasons why it was a bad idea to finish my new favorite novel.

...Ah - but it was so worth it. I almost escaped in the fantasy of the book, forgetting my own realities and trashing them out of the window. Curfew? Rubbish! A race on Saturday? This book is more important! The race on Saturday will go great, because Julian Carax made me believe so in "The Shadow of the Wind."

but I digress....

Coming back to the roots does take a little effort, but some disruption to the typical schedule is always good, and, in fact, beautiful. Now I just need to do it more often so that cooking and reading are mere replacements for my Facebook addiction.

Ta Ta for now

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Single, and (May) Be Looking...

...for a coach, that is.

For the past couple of months, I've been contemplating whether or not I want a coach. Before I go into the reasons why, I should explain what I'm doing now.

For those who do not know, my current method is a collaboration effort with Jay and Aaron. We figure out how our workouts can sync together in some way so that we can have the company of each other for hard workouts. Obviously, I am much slower than those two speedsters, but they can still benefit by running with me at times for their Lactate Threshold runs.

I also incorporate a little bit from what I learned from my coach Annie Bennett while at Wake Forest. For instance, I build up to my highest mileage, then back down one week, and then do three weeks at peak mileage right before my hard training cycle starts.

Further, I take a little bit from my high school coach/surrogate uncle. He always taught me that running purely off of strength is what will help me run some of my fastest times. Therefore, I make sure that I run hard when I feel good and easy when I need rest.

While I feel really good about my own coaching method for half marathons and below, I miss having the structured phases of training handed to me. It does sound rather nice to have the direction of a coach, thereby creating less work for me on my end. As much as I love figuring out what workouts to do in order to peak for Cherry Blossom Ten Miler, it does sound quite tempting to

I definitely would want to have a say in whatever training plan my to-be coach would give me. I would expect for them to look into what's worked for me in the past and how they could build upon that success in the future. I would want them to tweak the things that did not work or were just plain stupid. I want it to be a collaborative relationship, like what I've got going on right now, and someone that I know I can call every now and then to make sure I am doing things right. I'm not looking for someone to talk to every night or to coddle me. I'm not that kind of girl.

So - the question is. Do I really want to pursue this whole coach thing? Or, should I continue to just do my own thang, with the help of others, and building upon my own knowledge as a coach?

Thoughts appreciated!

Right on Track

ON Tuesday night, the Charlotte Running Club headed out to the JCSU track for a variety of different workouts om the blue oval with the Bull looking over us.

I met Todd and Aaron outside my house and we met up with Matt, Jay, Paul, Boriana, Billy, Jordan, William (I think is his name), Allen, and Justin. We warmed up some more together on the outskirts of campus and then did a couple of strides. Before we started the intervals, there was one man out coaching another sprinter and I approached him to make sure we would not be getting in his way. He assured me that he would not, and then asked me how much longer we intended to be out there. I told him maybe thirty minutes, and he offered to keep the lights on. I wasn't positive if it was the JCSU coach or not, but it was a kind gesture that was most definitely noticed by all of us.

What was most unique about this workout was the sense of camaraderie we had amongst a varying degree of paces. Despite having over four different pace groups starting at different times, everyone had someone to start with or at least to cheer them on. Aaron, Jordan, Jay and Paul teamed up for the milers as the super fast group. I led Justin, William, Todd, and Boriana for a down ladder starting at 1600m. Allen did his own thing, but we made sure he had a good cheering crowd!

In essence, I saw the Club's mission come to life: even though we were all running around the track at different paces, we were all still there together as a cohesive group and sharing in the accomplishments of the night. It was a fabulous feeling and it was so great to hear people cheering at all turns of the track. My favorite part was that Boriana probably had the toughest workout of all because she wanted to start with us all. As a result, she took an extremely shorter rest to always be with us at the line. It was great to know that she was there and cared enough to shorten her rest by practically a minute to share in the motivation of someone saying "Go!".

What I realized about track workouts is that it is easy to accomodate everyone's workouts. One thing that I would like to pursue for the Club is to get multiple groups out when we do venture to the track. It would be great if Allen and Boriana all had their own mini pace group that they could lead and have company every stride of the way. I'll work on making this happen.


- Jay and Paul had a great mile workout with Jordan doing his own thing hopping in. (Paul is still recovering two days later as you can read in his blog)
- Crazy Aaron did three mile repeats after doing a 30 mile race three days prior.
- Billy wouldn't stop talking about his workout he was so excited it went so well and even more excuberant that he has found a coach in Chris Lamperski.
- Everyone in the ladder group hit the times they wanted.
- According to Facebook, Allen Strickland enjoyed watching all of blaze by, and we enjoyed figuring out what he was doing. :o)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Garbage Legs

Most people go on vacation to get out of a daily routine. If you don’t, I sure as heck do. I yearn for that disruption in the daily routine for weeks on end leading up to a hiatus in the mountains or on the beach or with my sister. Then the actual disruption comes, and it’s like a slap in the face. I want my crappy schedule back, the boring routine. Of course, I enjoy the vacation and the new scenery for a couple of days, but that’s the extent of it.

Seriously? Why would I want to have back my schedule of a 515am wake up time on Tuesday to make a 10 miler at McAlpine? Why would I want back my 7am wake up (on the weekend!!) for a 730am long run of over 14 miles? Even when the running trails are 1003403x better than the trails in Charlotte, NC, I want back home so that I can run on the Charlotte trails.

The reason I bring this up is because Jay and I ran yesterday at 130pm. The sun was shining, the temperature was a whole twenty degrees warmer than when we typically run (I didn’t even need gloves), and we had half the day to laze around. Any sane person would assume that we felt fan-friggin-tastic for this mid-afternoon frolic in Freedom Park. Nope. As John Compton likes to say, our legs felt like “garbage.” Like they had been thrown into the dumpster, tossed around a bit, and thrown back into the streets for a bus to roll over them. We mused that our bodies were just used to running at the extremes: either early in the morning or late in the evening. I wonder if there is any scientific evidence that proves our bodies grow accustomed to a scheduled workout time.

So – is it the fact that we are runners who plan their races for December 2010 in January of 2010 that we want our routine back? Is it the fact that we obsess over our weekly mileage and whether or not we will still make that while on vacation?

I’ve got my own answer. I just love running so darn much. So much, in fact, that I’ve become accustomed to a schedule that includes waking up before the sun comes up and finishing a run before that same sun comes up…and enjoying (mostly) every moment of it. It’s pretty nice to get done with a run before 8 or 9am and still have the rest of day to yourself on the weekend.