Thursday, July 29, 2010

Power in Numbers at the Booty Loop

This week marks a significant turning point in the training that I've ever known. I've switched from doing short, speedy workouts and 4-6 mile tempos to doing 8-10 mile grueling tempos that make your stomach hurt three hours after completion, 3x3 mile workouts that give you over 14 miles for your total daily mileage, and long runs that last about as long as it takes me to drive to see my boyfriend. While reading that makes me practically cringe, I've taken this first week of marathon specific training and pretty much enjoyed it.

Mostly, I'm enjoying it because of the people who have braved the 100 degree heat index and who have run some of the grueling miles with me. Just this morning, Mike Beigay and I had a 3x3 mile workout and I expected only Meagan Nedlo and Justin Breland to show up. To my pleasant surprise, we had a few stragglers jump in: Lat Purser, Jordan Kinley, and Brian McMahon. When there are two girls leading a pack of five guys, it feels pretty awesome and I think it gives my legs that added spring of life that is typically hard to find before the sun is up.

This impromptu crowd of runners appearing at a group run is what I hope to accomplish for all pace groups and locations in the Charlotte Running Club. The power in numbers stems from the motivation and the encouragement that we all share with each other. Looking forward to more miles to come!

Side note: Lat Purser has by pure chance jumped into two workouts this week with Meagan and I. He absolutely destroyed us in our 6x800m workout and was rolling like 229-232 on the Dilworth 800m loop. It's nice having him out there!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Beat the Heat 5k Race Recap

There's a certain beauty and excitement that lingers with one after a successful race, and such is the feeling that is still with me today. Racing always excites me because it puts to test all of the hard work that I've pounded out on the pavement, the trails, and the grass fields. When the plans and goals all come to fruition, there is sweet victory for yourself. Or, if the goals are not met, tweaks to the training plan can be made, and you wait for the realization of that plan to unfold with the next race. Such is the cycle, and this cycle allows for us to always push ourselves to the limits and to see what kind of pain we can handle the next time around.

With that being said, I've spoiled the ending to my race recap for Beat the Heat 2010, but you all already knew the ending thanks to all the support that stems from the Charlotte Running Club and Theoden Janes, the Perez Hilton of the Charlotte Running scene.

Regardless, I'll start at the beginning. I lazed around during my day of nothingness, the highlight was when I walked to Woodies' Auto Shop to pick up my car. At one point it dawned on me that the weather could be bad in Winston, so I checked it out and, sure enough, there was lightning in the hourly forecast. I crossed my fingers and hoped that the race would still go on and left Charlotte at 430pm to make the trip to my alma mater, Wake Forest. Since people in North Carolina don't seem to know how to drive in any sort of precipitation from light rain to a couple of snow flurries, there was a bit of a traffic jam on I-85 and this made my trip about 15 minutes longer than normal. I made it to the race with one hour before the start, and I immediately hopped into the porta-jon and then picked up my bib.

I began my warmup and, within 10 meters, I spotted Bill Shires and we ran the entire course. I learned more about Bill's bruised ribs from an unfortunate bike accident and this helped pass the time. Also, I spotted all of the women who I expected to be there. My goal going into the race was to get third place, but I wanted to go in a controlled fashion so that I would not crash and burn in the last half of the this speedy race.

During my drills, I spotted Billy Shue, who was kind enough to drive up from Charlotte to watch Bill and I race. It sure did mean a lot to both of us! By the time I had completed my A skips, karaoke, and strides, and laced up my racing flats, the race was about to begin. I meandered up the hill to the start line, gave the Demon Deacon a high five and said "Go Deacs!" and took off for another stride. I strategically placed myself on the start line far away from any of the other girls who have posted very fast times in the past month - Stephanie Pezzullo, Allison Grace, and Amber Moran. I did not want to get caught up in the excitement and go out too fast, and this proved to be a smart decision.
The race director shouted go and we were off in a tightly packed group. I situated myself in the top 50 of the pack for the first 400m and then it eventually evened out as the half mile approached. I saw Moran and Pezzullo tucked in close behind Grace and I figured the pace was quick. I didn't want to go out too uncontrolled, but needed to keep them within my sights. They were about 20-30m ahead of me. I came through the first mile in 5:26 with Bill on my shoulder. My breathing felt a little more difficult than expected, and I worried for a moment. Instead, I decided to make a conscious effort to keep the pace honest, and latched onto a young man.
The second mile features a slight incline for the latter part, but I didn't much notice. I saw Billy sprinting toward my group to capture some photos of us in action, and I smiled to myself. His enthusiasm goes practically unmatched! During this mile, I could feel Moran fading backwards toward me and I picked it up a bit to make a move on her. When I passed her, I provided some words of encouragement. I figured if she stuck with me, we could help each other post a fast time. At this point, I was feeling pretty confident and came through the mile in 5:32.

At the start of the third mile, there's a legitimate hill about 200m long and I passed a couple of guys here as I tried to post a faster mile split than my previous one. Luckily, the last 600m of the race features a nice down grade which propelled me to make some ground on Pezzullo, now within 5-8 seconds of me. I wasn't sure how far back Amber was so I was listening for someone to cheer for her. When I passed the three mile mark in 530, I heard someone say "You can catch her" which triggered a response in my legs that I haven't felt in quite some time. I pressed at an all-out sprint so that I could ensure a third place finish. While my legs were turning over at a speed that they have not seen since college, I saw the clock tick over to 16:47 and I knew I had a legit shot at breaking 17:00. When I crossed the line, I had closed in 31 seconds (4 seconds faster than I closed at CPCC Skyline) with an overall time of 17:01.
In the chute, I congratulated Pezz and Grace and thanked Amber for helping me out. I'm always impressed at how encouraging and supportive the women at these races are. In the end, I think we all recognize that we all share the same love for running and that, despite the competitive nature that seems natural to us all, there is a shared sense of respect.

In comparison to last year's race, I ran 38 seconds faster than 2009 and posted much more even splits. I can't complain about the improvement that is indicative in those times. This served as a huge confidence booster as I am one week out from beginning my marathon specific workouts in preparation for Twin Cities Marathon in less than 3 months!

I found Billy and Bill so we all cooled down together even though Billy was rocking a WF polo shirt and cargo shorts. I got a horrible side stitch 2 miles in so I called my cool down short by one mile and opted to find some grub instead. I ran into Joel Tull, who was our massage therapist when I was at Wake, and happens to still be the favorite massage therapist of both Garrett and I. We enjoyed a short but pleasant conversation before he had jet off to get back to Greensboro to give a rub down to a client.

Like last year, I was impressed with the post race food - bananas, oranges, watermelon, energy drinks, soda, water, pizza, granola bars - that never seemed to run out. The race organizers got the results up in a timely manner and presented the awards before the sun set so that I still had time to get to Whole Foods to pick up a cucumber avocado roll. I think the Twin City Track Club does a great job at organizing races and I always look forward to attending their events.

Overall, it was great to post a solid time, run with some great competition, and see some old friends from Wake Forest. I look forward to the next weeks of training with the CRC!!

Friday, July 16, 2010


While my cat lazes around in my bathroom sink all morning in the luxurious air conditioning, I burst into the swell of humidity that's been lingering around Charlotte for far too long now and frolic through the streets. Such has been the theme for the majority of the runs since the cold spell blew onward to other parts of the country, leaving Charlotte in it's typical sweet summer swelter.

These seemingly unbearable temperatures haven't deterred the numbers of runners coming out to our scheduled workouts or easy runs. In fact, it's had the opposite effect. It's quite inspiring to see over 15 people show up at a Thursday Dowd run at 6am. Even though we feel our sweat drip onto each other, stop for water numerous times, and feel like our lungs have been filled up with water, we've suffered more miles over the past couple of weeks than we did together in the spring. I'm not sure if it's a testament to our Club's success in for the 7-8 min runners or if it's just marathon season and lots of people are gearing up for fall races. Regardless, I appreciate the large numbers at the Thursday run.

Meagan and I have been organizing a large group to work out at McAlpine before the sun peaks over the horizon. Flanked with our reliable men, we've created an encouraging group that shares in our individual successes, whether it's a good workout or a fast race. Ideally, I'd like to see this workout group expand to accommodate all paces. For me, starting a workout with a large group of people is especially motivating in getting me excited for the upcoming interval. We're a pretty friendly group!

Off to bed for a race manana.

Monday, July 12, 2010

New Products in my Running Life

For those that don't know, Jordan just started carrying Nuun Hydration Tablets. Since Jordan is pretty much the most generous person ever, he let me try the Lemon Lime flavor after an easy 4 miler in the 100 degree heat on Wednesday. I really liked it because it's a sugar free solution to stay hydrated and doesn't leave me feeling like I just drank a juicy fruit in liquid form. There are 12 tablets in one case, which is enough to fill up 12 water bottles. To prove how much I like it, I've already consumed 12 tablets and I just got my Nuun on Saturday at 1pm. It's now Monday...

In other fueling news, I decided to google "natural energy bars" and came across the Honey Stinger Brand. Made with mostly organic / natural ingedients, and honey as the main source of energy, this brand boasts a variety of different snacks - a 20g protein bar, a 10g protein bar, organic gels that taste mainly like honey, energy bars and energy chews. I like the old school flavor of simple things such as honey, so this brand now carries all my favorite protein bars and chews. I ordered the Fruit Smoothie energy chews and Meagan and I chopped them down after our Sunday recovery run. I ordered these from because I have free two-day shipping, but if anyone knows where I can get this in Charlotte, please let me know because I'm addicted!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Fourth of July Weekend

Could anything get more American than watching a baseball game and enjoying the celebratory fireworks in a baseball stadium on the Fourth of July? Sure, if I had eaten a hot dog at the game. I didn’t want to throw my status as vegetarian away though, so I opted for a bottle of water instead.

Baseball was clearly a main theme of this holiday weekend for me, but I must also include Applebee’s and Family into the mix. To start from the beginning, after the long run, I hung out at the pool with John and Thomas for a couple of hours before I retired back to my house to catch a quick nap before I got on the road. I woke up in frenzy around 4pm, where I frantically threw all my stuff in the back seat of my car, and headed for the mountains. I made a last minute to decision to drive to Garrett’s away game in Bristol, VA, even though I knew he would not be pitching. It was not too far out of the way, and I knew Garrett’s parents and sister would be there, so I could hang out with them.

After three hours in the car, my body was stiff and my bladder was ready to burst. I made it into the stadium to discover that the women’s bathroom was behind the away team’s dugout with no windows and only one toilet for a stadium that had over 3,000 attendees. It was a long wait. Finally, I reunited with Scott, Ann and Elyse, who had situated themselves directly behind the Greeneville Astros bullpen. For games in which Garrett does not pitch, it’s pretty amusing to observe what goes on in the bullpen, which, as far as I can tell, doesn’t include much more than gossiping.

These pitchers had decided to be savvy with their time in the bullpen by creating a coin drop. Only quarters are allowed; if a kid gets the quarter in the cup, they are awarded with a baseball. If a kid gets four quarters in the cup, they are awarded with a broken bat. Why anyone would want a broken bat, I am left dumbfounded, but I’m not a baseball fanatic like most kids in the mountains. The coin drop spreads by word of mouth because all the pitchers have to do is tell one kid to tell all of his friends and then a flock of kids surrounds the coin drop…and the cycle repeats itself. Anyways, this coin drop earns these poor minor leaguers anywhere from $10-$40 a game, and they will use the money to buy “snacks” for the end of the season. You can guess what they are going to buy.

Meanwhile, I busted out my paparazzi dSLR so that I could capture some memories of Garrett as a Greeneville Astro for the scrapbook that he will never make. Unfortunately, he seemed to avoid the camera like any normal boyfriend would do. Instead, his teammate Jack Frawley gave Elyse and I more attention as we stalked all of the players and even showed his pearly whites for the camera.
After the game, we stalked the bus so that we could say hi to Garrett and I snapped a couple of pictures of the family as you can see below. The real highlight of the weekend came on the Fourth of July home game in the Greeneville Astros complex, which happens to be much nicer than the Bristol Stadium. Elyse and I were under strict orders from two of Garrett’s teammates to win their special edition baseball hats back from the silent auction. These hats had the stars and stripes in honor of Veterans and you could sign your name to bid on the hats at a table. Since we wanted to be sure to win the hats, Elyse and I had to regularly stalk the table to make sure no one had outbid us. I got into a decent competition with another man with a last name of Bullock who wanted Garrett’s hat. One man even said to me in shock, “You are stealing from his DAD?!?!” and I reassured him that it was not his dad that was trying to win the hat and introduce him to Garrett’s real dad, who was essentially acting as my body guard. In the end, Elyse and I were successful in redeeming the hats, thanks to Ann for the cash, and earned a spot on the field at the end of the game.

In the picture below, you can tell that Elyse and I look like we fill the role of cleat chasers absolutely perfectly. To outsiders, we may look like we are eyeing the locker room for other potential suitors, but really we’re just the girlfriend and the sister. HA!

After the game in which they lost (the Astros went from being tied for the best record in the league to having a five game losing streak), we watched a fireworks show that was better than Charlotte’s 2009 show. It lasted approximately 21 minutes, which is exactly 9 minutes longer than Charlotte’s.

After two nights of eating out at Applebee’s because that’s the only restaurant in Greeneville, TN that is open past 11pm, I had become accustomed to blocking out Garrett’s 17 complaints about how unhealthy it was because it was getting too repetitive. Luckily, on the third night, we cooked a meal of chicken on the griddle and Garrett and I ate spinach plain out of the bag like it was full of potato chips.

In the end, while it was great to see the Bullock clan and hang with G's awesome friends, I was ready to get back in my normal schedule. Since all the games are at night, Garrett’s schedule features eating out late (past 11pm), going to bed past midnight, and sleeping in past 9am. Compare this to my schedule in which I wake up at 530am, run, work, eat at 630pm, and then sleep at 930pm.

Did I mention that Garrett seems totally happy? It was absolutely awesome to see him completely in his element, making the most of this opportunity.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Long Run Starts the Weekend

Since Aaron is out of commission with his strained calf, I took it upon myself to organize a group long run at McAlpine. I was pleasantly surprised when all my CRC buddies showed up, right on time at 630am, ready to roll. We had a solid group of guys mainly – Paul, Steve, John, Ben, Mike, Jason, Jordan, Thomas - and a pair of girls – Michelle and I. We started off nice and easy, which is expected during the early morning hours. We started a good 50m ahead of Jordan as he used the first 10 minutes to wake himself up. When his legs finally got rolling, he greeted us by spanking John so hard that I thought it was John’s foot hitting the pavement. For the first half of the run, I participated in some small talk with various people, but mainly enjoyed the weather. After all, it seemed like the winds from Northern California had blown their cool weather our way so it makes sense that I was thoroughly enjoying the 60 degree temperature and the low heat index.

That being said, the first hour of the run went by fairly slowly and I was hoping that the second half would go by much quicker. Once we got out of the Boyce trails, we began to pick up the pace. Jordan and I began to run down a very slender / muscular middle-aged man who was running at decent clip. As we were chasing him, Jordan and I lead the pack to a pace in the 630s. Right when we thought we were about to catch him, he turned the opposite way as we turned onto the cross country course.

At this moment, I made a silent decision to pick up the pace. My legs felt fresh and the weather was great, so I figured – why not? I assumed the guys would follow my lead, and fortunately they did with no complaint. We got in a solid mile on the XC course, and then once we hit the trail, Jordan took off hard, with Steve following. Mike and I held on together to complete the mile with the hill in a solid 613. We eased up to “cool down” to find out later that even during our cool down, we were still going at a clip of 630. It felt easy and relaxed and I ended the run with my endorphins running high. Damn, I felt good!

After some light stretching, Thomas, Michelle, Jordan, John and I all met up at Zada Jane’s to enjoy some berry pancakes and biscuits smeared with the best apple butter in town. It is true that we went to Zada Jane’s directly after our long run, without having taken any sort of shower. That’s how runners do it!

The long run and breakfast were a great way to start the rest of my weekend, which featured a getaway to the grand town of Greeneville, Tennessee to reunite with Garrett and his family and enjoy some minor league baseball at the same time!