Friday, December 30, 2011

3x2 Mile with 2 Min Rest

3x2 mile with 2 min rest at 600, 550, 540

2.7 miles warmup
3x2 mile at 11:40 (551, 548), 11:26 (5:41, 5:45), and 11:18 (5:39, 5:39)
2.6 miles cool down

I'm trying to mirror everything that I did before Twin Cities in these last three weeks leading up to the Olympic Trials, so I had 3x2 mile on tap for today.  Last marathon cycle, the workout went well on the Dilworth Speed Loop.  This time around, I wanted to be a little more aggressive on the first one and then gradually get faster on each one.

Knowing that I would run faster with the company of another, Juan Morales and I determined to meet at 730AM at the Newport Back Bay and to run our warmup to the Irvine Bike Path, which is flat with two minor uphills.  The uphills are similar to the uphills I'll be running over in Houston, so the route was a perfect choice.  We went out 2 miles and followed the same course for the 2nd interval.  For the third, we went out and back 1 mile.

The hill we ran up on the Irvine Bike Path
The best part about this workout is that I not only achieved my time goals, but I also did so with less rest than last year (2:10 as opposed to 3:00).  The first set didn't even feel hard and my breathing wasn't labored.  Juan and I even chatted through at least 1.5 miles.  For the second one, I took off like a bat out hell in like 5:20 pace and fell asleep a little bit from 1-1.5 but woke up enough to bring the pace back down to a reasonable clip.  By the third one, I could feel some slight fatigue in my legs, but pushed any thoughts of distress out of my head to power through it.  I really wanted my last one to be my fastest interval, and Juan and I made that happen.

With this run, the 20 mile steady state, and the 8 mile wave tempo, I can tell that my body is ready for the Trials.  Now the key is to mentally prepare for the race and to envision multiple scenarios that could play out.  This has always been a crucial preparation step for me as it helps to further cement the mental focus I'll need in the race.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Solo Fartlek in the Newport Back Bay

4 Miles of Speed

3+ miles warmup
1-2-2-1-1-2-2-1-2-2-1-1-1-1-1 with 1 min rest

I did this workout around 3PM in the Newport Back Bay all by my lonesome.  My Cal Coast Track Club buddies were doing a workout (guess where?) on the track and I didn't feel like getting toasted by several men in the "A" group all at once.  I also didn't want to meet at the track after the sun had set, so I opted for a solo fartlek on the Back Bay bike path.  Before Twin Cities, at this same time in my training cycle I did 4 miles of speed work in the form of 2:45 on/off.  I wanted to mix things up and run on feel, so I just did 1-2-2-1 with 1 min rest and then with some extra 1 minutes at the end for added benefit.  There wasn't a Garmin involved, but I was breathing pretty hard for the "on" segments.  I was running fast and feeling strong.  This was a nice way to come back after the grueling 20 mile steady state on Friday, and I could tell that my legs had already bounced back.  Next up, I've got 3x2 mile and a 16-18 mile long run.

Aerial view on the Newport Back Bay
Newport Back Bay Path - Parts are Fine Rock and others asphalt

Monday, December 26, 2011

Week in review

85+ miles
2 doubles
20 mile steady state long run
6 days in California

I can't think of a better way to spend my last big week of training. Five days of running in ideal weather conditions and picturesque landscapes has made for a rather enjoyable week! Of course, taking the standard work schedule out of the picture helped immensely so I soaked up every minute of my vacation time to get in quality workouts and runs.

On Friday I ran a 20 mile steady state that left my legs feeling more sore than ever. I was planning on hitting 90 miles this week but on Saturday I could really only muster a measly five miles out of my legs before calling it a day. Fortunately my run today went much better but I can tell it will take my legs at least one more day to feel fully recovered from the hilly long run at a good clip.

After my Friday long run, my parents and brother arrived from Arizona to reunite with Vanessa, Garrett and I. I am so honored to have such an active family because every morning I've stepped out to run, my parents have followed close behind. It's definitely been a family affair to go running and we even went on a family run / walk on Christmas day to celebrate. Mom, dad, and I all ran while Garrett, Vanessa and Joey went on a hike through the Newport back bay nature preserve.

For christmas, Garrett's mom got t-shirts made for our entire family to wear at the Olympic Trials. My mom already has been showcasing hers. How exciting to have a fun club that will be easily identifiable in bright red shirts!

We finished up our Christmas festivities by watching the sunset on the beach and trying to feed sea annemmaes. I am grateful to spend this week in California and look forward to the rest of my stay. Happy holidays to all and I hope your Christmas run was shared with loved ones!

Friday, December 23, 2011

20 Miles Steady State in Palos Verdes

20 Miles at 620-640 if on flat surface

20 Miles at 6:36 pace for 2:12:00
.76 miles cool down

After emailing quite possibly one of the best high school cross country coaches in the country, Bill Sumner, I was connected with three runners from the Cal Coast Track Club.  Bill Sumner connected me last year with Juan and Juan for a couple of long runs and this year, I would run with Juan and a new guy named Trevor. After several email exchanges on Monday, Juan agreed to pick me up in Newport Beach at 6AM to drive an hour to Palos Verdes, California to meet Trevor. 

Palos Verdes, as pictured below, is different than the rest of the Los Angeles coastal regions.  Instead of being densely populated with asphalt, there are more trees than slabs of concrete.  The region is nestled on the Pacific Coast, in a mountainous region  that has wild peacocks running around.  Since I was warned about the hills, I figured I would need to adjust my goals accordingly.  Instead, I found that I felt pretty good despite the 600 feet climb.  
Palos Verdes from the Mountain

The first mile was uphill, and our first mile split reflected that as we ran just a little under 8:00 pace.  After that, we settled into a rythm that hovered around the 630s until mile 6.  That's when the mountain hit and I ran 7-725 for the hilly parts.  After the 9th mile, my friends told me that the hills were over, but I found out later that just the BIG hills were over.  There were small hills scattered throughout the rest of the course, and after already running 3 miles up a mountain and then back down, my legs were pretty fatigued from the impact.  By mile 14, I was feeling pretty tired if there was even the slightest incline and found myself hoping at every turn that there would be a flat or downhill segment so that I wouldnt feel the burning sensation in my quads and gluteus.  I think that hilly runs bring out the weak points in your body. By miles 15-20 I could tell that my left glut / hip region is much weaker than my right. I hope to focus on strengthening this side of my body in 2012 so it doesn't lead to any injury.
By mile 18, I ran 603 pace and I was 10-20 feet behind my male counterparts who were getting antsy about finishing.  I figured that today wasn't supposed to be my day where I proved myself, so I slowed it down a notch before even realizing that all of mile 19 was a gradual uphill.  I slowed to a 644, but was still able to finish my 20th mile in 6:20 pace.  The full splits are listed in the garmin map below. 

We walked the last 400 meters because I didn't feel like running up the last hill and because I didn't want to log any more than I had to.  After stretching and changing, Juan, Trevor and I went to Starbucks that had a beautiful view of the ocean.  California is so perfect; I am so lucky to have a sister who lives out here to visit!!
View from Starbucks

I am very fortunate to have made the connection with Trevor and Juan because their company pushed me along at times when I really wanted to walk up the mountain.  I feel so grateful and honored to have run with them and I look forward to more runs in the future.  Most importantly, I realized that I am ready for the Olympic Trials in just 22 days.  

This is my last big workout, and I know that my body and mind are ready.  I am just so honored to have this opportunity to race with my closest friends and to be part of a race where so many phenomenal runners will be toeing the line.  There is just so much excitement and energy going on around the Trials this year because American distance runners keep getting better and better.  I am grateful to part of something so incredible and to share the experience with close friends and family.  

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Beach Cruisin' at the Back Bay

8-10 Miles Wave (545-550/615-620) or Tempo (610-605)

2 miles warmup
8 mile wave in 630, 555, 607, 550, 607, 540, 607, 538
2 miles cool down for 12 miles total

After a day of traveling to LA from Charlotte on Tuesday, I was a bit skeptical of how this workout would go.  Since it's my birthday, I figured it had to go better than I expected. Fortunately, I was able to drag Garrett out with me for the extra motivation.  With him there, I push myself harder because I hate explaining why I had a bad workout.  He rode alongside me on my sister's baby blue beach cruiser that three speeds, a basket, and a bell.  Did he ring the bell?  You bet...Every time I finished a mile.  The bike actually was a great addition because I got to bring my cell phone to capture photos of the beautiful Newport Back Bay Nature Reserve and of Garrett biking alongside the path!   

After a 2 mile warmup, I just picked up the pace to a comfortable clip, undecided yet if I would be doing a tempo or a wave.  My legs still felt a little fatigued from traveling but my breathing felt really relaxed, so I decided to go with a wave.  The one and only hill of the workout was in the first mile, but followed by an extremely sharp downhill.  Once my mile split went off, I decided it would be best to start picking it up for the fast part.  The second mile felt easy and when it was time to do my "slow" mile, I found it really hard to actually slow my body down.  Apparently 6:07 pace is my sweet spot because I hit that pace for all of my easy miles.  By the fourth mile, I was feeling great.  The sun was shining directly on my face, so I took of my long sleeve shirt, tossed it over to Garrett, and he stuffed it into our handy basket.  

During the second half of the run, I was rolling - everything seemed to be fitting perfectly together.  My breathing was definitely much more labored for the hard parts because I was dipping into the 540s, but when the 6:07 part came, it felt really easy and my breathing slowed down immensely.   

Overall, I'm very pleased with this workout.  After several days with less sleep than I'm typically accustomed to and a full day of travel, my legs were still ready to rock this tempo.  In just two days, I am doing a 20 Mile steady state at Palos Verdes, California with two other guys from the Cal Coast Track Club.  I am hoping my legs will still be somewhat fatigued from this workout to simulate the feeling of the last 20 miles of the Trials Marathon.  

Countdown:  24 Days until the 2012 US Olympic Trials Marathon 

Garrett's beach cruiser on the path
post workout in the back bay

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Week in Review

90 Miles
3 Doubles
22.5 Mile Long Run
1 Workout
1 Newborn Baby - Eva Penny

No, I didn't have a baby.  But Garrett's cousin Emily did!  On Sunday, December 18th, the Adams and the Bullocks filled Rex Hospital's Nursery 2 to watch as baby Eva got her first bath!  This was my first experience seeing a newborn baby, albeit through a shield of glass, but it was still a life altering experience.  The fact that almost 20 people were there to welcome baby Eva into this world is a clear indicator of the vast amount of love that every single person in this family feels for Eva.  Unfortunately Garrett and I did not get a chance to hold her as we had to take off after the family Christmas gift exchange to make it back to a birthday celebration that Billy Shue had organized here in Charlotte.

The trend of sharing love continued from Raleigh and all the way to Charlotte's Cantina.  Garrett and I arrived at the restaurant, where several of my close friends had gathered to wish me an early happy birthday.  After we got our food, Carolyn announced that all the guests should share a story about me.  As Jay said later, it felt either like my rehearsal dinner or my funeral.  I'll go with rehearsal dinner.  In the end, all of my friends shared a story with the group.  The kind and thoughtful tributes practically brought me to tears as I realized how lucky I am to be surrounded by such caring people.  Matt Jaskot shared perhaps one of the nicest things he's ever said to me in his entire life, but if you want to know what he said, you'll need to ask him so he gets embarrassed.  To top it off, Jay and Lauren made a quick cameo appearance, fresh off the plane from New York City. 

With so much love going around, it really makes the running update seem rather mundane in comparison, so I'll just leave it at this:  running went great this week!  Steve Spada ran the entire 22+ mile long run with me, even though he has no logical reason for doing so!  Talk about dedication!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Workout with Spada


5 mile tempo

2.36 mile warmup
10 - 1.68 miles (5:57 ave) - 602 thru mile (3:00 rest)
08 - 1.41 miles (539 ave) - 5:39 thru mile (3:00 rest)
06 - 1.07 miles (537 ave) - 5:38 thru mile (2:00 rest)
04 - .72 miles (534 ave) - (2:00 rest)
02 - .38 (518 ave)
2.7 mile cool down for 11 miles total

pm:  3.1 miles easy

Going into this workout, I warned Steve that it would probably not be a tempo.  I knew that I wouldn't feel like doing yet another tempo after one last Tuesday and a simulation run on Saturday, so I improvised instead.  This fartlek workout was 30 minutes of work, which is roughly the same amount of distance if we did a 5 mile tempo.  Coincidentally, Steve and I ran 5.26 miles in 30 minutes, which equates to roughly 5:42 pace for the entire distance. 

As we toed the line at the Dilworth Speed Loop, I already could tell that this workout was going to go great.  My mind was in the right place and my legs felt relatively good.  We really just ran on effort and I pushed the pace for the longer distances (10-8-6).  In fact, ever since I found out that my iron level was normal again, I have been practicing mental techniques that will make me strongest for competition and workouts.  I firmly believe in exercising the mind constantly, especially outside of just running.  Mental preparation is extremely important for the marathon, so I am constantly positively reinforcing myself and preparing for the next workout. 

In today's workout, I practiced encouraging myself to push even harder when my body really hurt.  On the 4-minute interval, I was really hurting and hating the road that was stretched out before me.  Steve had already pulled away by at least ten meters, and he was gaining even more ground on me.  I wanted to cave in and just slow down, but instead, I glanced down at my watch, saw there were only 30 seconds left, and committed to making myself hurt for the last segment.  Suddenly I had another gear and I almost caught Steve!  Little mechanisms such as these can go a long way, and I was proud of myself for convincing my legs to push a little bit more. 

So far, my Trials training schedule is coming along quite well. I have noticed that I am really tired all the time, which must be a combination of the higher mileage, the robust "couples schedule" that I've been maintaining, and the 50 hours a week spent at a computer desk.  Needless to say, I am desperately ready to be in California with my family, where I can sleep in and run whenever I want. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Week in Review

79 Miles
2 Doubles
13.1 Miles in 1:18:49 at Kiawah Half Marathon

My iron is higher, my simulation run is done, and there's only really 3 more weeks of solid marathon training before I begin to taper.  I couldn't be more pleased with this week.  After starting off with a mediocre 4 mile tempo, I was able to run a solid half marathon in preparation for January.  I even caught up on some much needed sleep on Sunday morning by postponing my run until 1PM.  The best part about winter is that you don't have to get up before the sunrise to beat the heat.

I've got just one more week left in Charlotte before I head off to Newport Beach, California to enjoy time with my family and Garrett.  On the workout calendar, I'll be preparing for a 5 mile tempo and a 22-24 mile long run on Saturday.  Garrett and I depart on Tuesday, December 20th in the morning for our non-stop flight to LAX.  I'm most excited to spend my birthday with my sister and Garrett in warm, sunny California!!

Countdown to the Trials: 34 Days

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Trials Simulation Success at Kiawah

13.1 Miles to Simulate the first 13.1 Miles of the Trials (1:18:30-1:19:30)

2.5 mile warmup
13.1 Mile Race at 1:18:49, 3rd Place, $250
01 - 604
02 - 609
03 - 607
04 - 603
05 - 602
06 - 605 - 39:55 (halfway)
07 - 609 (turnaround)
08 - 600
09 - 554
10 - 554
11 - 554
12 - 553
13 - 552
.1 - :39  - 38:54 (2nd half)
2.5 mile cool down for 18 miles

What's a better way to go into a race knowing that your ferritin level is now a 25?  I found out the results of my ferritin test on Friday afternoon - my strict regimen of iron supplementation and spinach paid off big time.  As soon as I read the results, I told myself:  You're back; no more excuses.   I wanted (and needed) to run a solid simulation run in the half for my own mental sanity.

As I noted in my blog last week, the plan was to run with Aaron for 5-8 miles, to stay relaxed, and to have as much fun as possible.  Of course, the main goal was to execute the same race plan I'd like to execute at the Trials, practice my fueling strategy, and check my fitness level so that I can set a realistic time goal.

After a good night's rest at the Kasa de Kahn in Charleston, Aaron, Mike, Jason, and I made our way to the Elite tent at the Kiawah Golf Resort, less than 25 meters from the Start Line.  The Elite Coordinator, Beth, was kind enough to invite my entourage into the tent, so I was fortunate to spend some time preparing with Jason Martin.  All the pre-race rituals went along as planned, although I will note that it took me literally 8 different tries to finally get the tightness of my shoe strings exactly right.

At the Start, I spotted Aaron and situated myself in front of him and on the side of the women marathoners.  I wanted to make sure that I didn't go out too fast, so I was in the second row of the elites.  The gun went off and Aaron let out his standard tribal howling sound to pump up the crowd.  I just smiled, knowing that I'll never have that type of personality to exhibit so publicly.

Within the first 800 meters, Lat Purser found us and situated himself in our little group.  Over the course of the next 8 miles, I effortlessly maintained a pace just above 6:00 minutes, talking with Aaron and Lat some, and just enjoying the scenery.  I took a Honey Stinger at mile 5 with some water to wash it down.  BY mile 8, Lat or I dropped the pace to 6:00 and Aaron let us know that he needed to drop back since he still had 18 miles left in the full.  We said our farewells, and Lat and I took off.

We picked up the next 5 miles all between 554-552.  Around mile 9,  I thanked Lat for running with me, curiously wondering why he was even hanging back with me at all.  He informed me that he had been sick the entire week and so running with us sounded a lot more fun than gutting out 13.1 miles solo.  The selfish part of me is happy that he got sick, because it meant that I had a running buddy for the entire race.

Lat ran right beside me the entire way, reported the mile splits, and encouraged me when I was hurting in the last mile.  He prevented me from running off course when I was too busy focusing on drinking water during mile 10.  He even stayed with me in the final straightway when I'm sure he was itching to just blast away from me with his sub-5 speed.

In reflection, I am extremely happy with how this race worked out for me.  I finished with a 3-second PR in the half and I felt really strong in the end.  I finished the second half of the race today over 1 minute faster than the first half.   My fueling strategy worked out quite well and I didn't have any GI issues before, during, or after the race.  I accomplished everything that I wanted to out of this race, and am excited to finish off the next three weeks of training before heading into taper mode.  All in all, I am confident that I can go into the Trials and start out at 610 pace and drop it from there to hopefully negative split.

I am very grateful for Lat and Aaron's company throughout the race, for Mike's generosity in offering us free lodging, and for the Elite Coordinator for granting me entry into the race.  It was a great experience to simulate the trials on a closed course with the same bottles that I'll use in Houston.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

4 Mile Tempo

5 Mile Progression tempo at 615-540

3+ miles warmup
4 mile tempo in 23:58 (601, 558, 601, 559)
3+ miles cool down

I actually don't know if the splits above are exactly right, but they are close enough for you to get the picture.  On this December morning, it was a humid 60 degrees.  Did I mention it's December?  If I'm fantasizing about snowflakes and cuddling near a fireplace in December, then something is clearly wrong.  I'm ready for the cold already. 

Anyways, I did this workout with Spada on the Dilworth 2-Mile Speed Loop in the early morning hours.  It's funny because I thought that I was running much more terribly than I actually was since the darkness made it difficult to read my Garmin splits. I thought that our first mile was a 6:11 (it was 6:01) and I thought that our last mile was 6:10 (it was 6:01).  I felt terrible, but who knows if it was the iron, the low humidity, or the fact that I've run 86, 90, 90 miles for the past three weeks.  Last year around this time I was cranking out 60 minute tempos at 6:00 pace.  I know that I am capable of running 600s for a much longer period of time (in fact, will put that to the test on Saturday at Kiawah), but for now this is what I have to work with it, and I'm pleased with the effort. 

Did I mention how much I love working out with Spada?  Typically we are pretty evenly matched, he is encouraging, and he's just hilarious. Right now, since he doesn't have any big goal race in the near future, it means that he is more flexible with his workout plan.  This also means that, so long as our schedules coincide, that I have a guaranteed workout buddy to replace Jordan. 

In other news, I get my iron checked on Thursday.  The results should be in by Friday or Monday.  I'm crossing my fingers for a number above 15 (which is still ridiculously low, but I know that I can still run fast with that level).  I will keep you all posted!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Week In Review

90 Miles
2 Workouts
1 Day of Lifting
21 Mile Long Run at 717 Pace
3 Dance Lessons

Success!  Second week at my highest mileage ever.  This week was a turning point for me in that I believe my iron has reached adequate levels.  Of course, this is all speculation because I haven't gotten my iron checked again.  I am supposed to get it done tomorrow, but I'm most likely not going because my last visit cost $300 and I can't really fathom spending $600 in less than a month on two blood tests.  Needless to say, I was able to keep up with Alana and Pezz in an 8-mile tempo on Tuesday, run a solid 20x1 min workout, and enjoy 21 miles with at least 10 different people this morning.  Clearly, things are my blood is getting the sufficient amount of oxygen it needs!  With the way I'm feeling now, I am anxious to start setting out at a faster pace, but I'd like to wait one more week to make sure the feeling of euphoria lasts.
Next week, I've got a short tempo on Tuesday before heading out to Kiawah on Thursday night for my simulation run on Saturday morning.  My goal is to run 610-600 pace.  The plan is to start at the same pace I'd like to go out in at the Trials.  Hopefully it will go something like this:
Miles 0-6:  605-610 Pace with Aaron (18:30 through 3 miles)
Miles 7-9:  555-605 Pace
Miles 10-13:  550-600 Pace for 1:18:30-1:19:30
Cheers to full iron stores!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Change of Plans - 20x1 Min

20x400m with 1 min Rest

2.5 Miles Warmup
20x1 Min for 3.86 miles in 20 Minutes (5:10 pace)
3 mile Cool Down for 11.4 Miles Total

Matt and I were supposed to do 20x400m this morning, but he bailed on me and I really didn't want to do 400s in the morning completely solo in the cold.  We decided to do the workout at 4pm instead.  This change would allow for the termperature to warm up and also for Thomas and Michelle to join us.  Garrett escorted me on the bike from our house to the JCSU Track.  We met Matt and we presented us with the news that the Track was closed off for JCSU track practice. 

This is a policy that the team started to enforce this year and I guess since I was a track athlete myself that I should be understanding of this new rule, but selfishly, I'm not.  This track was built as a community track, which means that it technically isn't "JCSU's" track.  It's a public track, not privately owned, which means that the public should be able to use it whenever we want.  Ah, but I digress.

Track or not, I had a workout to complete.  Thomas, Michelle, Matt, Garrett and I made our way to the cemetery and plotted to run "figure eights" through the cemetery road.  This route featured a rolling terrain, so it would be pretty tough on some of the uphill segments.  Fortunately I had my Garmin, so I took a couple of minutes to get the workout set up, and then we were off.

During the workout, I felt really great compared to the last time I did this workout three weeks ago. I can tell that my iron is getting better because my legs felt light and fresh.  Thomas was great company as he really helped push me on the uphill segments.  As always, Garrett was a great companion on all intervals with his steady demeanor and quiet resolve.

Most of the flat or downhill segments were run in 4:50-5:00 pace.  For the uphill sections we hit 5:10-5:30 pace, depending on the grade of the hill.   I slowed down way to much on one of the intervals on the uphill, which was just me letting the hill own me.  I also noticed a nagging tightness in my left hamstring, which is my weaker leg.  I'll have to focus on pre-hab activities this weekend so it doesn't turn into anything more serious.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

8 Mile Tempo Run

3x3 Mile with 3 min rest

2.5 mile warmup
8 mile "progression" tempo in 615, 615, 608, 610, 557, 604, 607, 600 for 49:00 total time (607 average)
2.5 mile cool down for 13 miles

Pezz informed me on Monday that she and Alana were going to do an 8 mile progression tempo together.  At first, I was just going to run with them for the first three miles and then try to catch back up with them by the start of my 2nd set.  However, I made a last minute decision  to do the 8 mile tempo with the two ladies instead of my originally planned workout.

After a warmup with Mark biking alongside, I met back up with Alana and Pezz near the 2 mile mark of the greenway.  The plan was to run on the greenway portion of McAlpine, with a total of three u-turns (practicing for the Trials course).  We ran from the 2-mile mark, to the 3-mile mark (turnaround), to Old Bell (turnaround), back to the 3-mile mark (turnaround), and finished at the 2-mile mark. 

Uncertain of what my body would be capable of, I made goals for each segment to help ease any mental unrest and to focus on the immediate goal. I figured that Pezz would take off after the 4-mile mark, so my initial goal was to hang with Pezz and Alana through the 4 mile mark.  After that, my goal was to stay below 610.  After that, my goal was to stay as close to Alana as possible.  The three of us came through the four mile mark together perfectly and I felt really good.  I could tell that my legs were really tired, but I knew that if I committed to the pace mentally that my legs would be able to handle it physically. 

Admittedly, I was running scared, completely uncertain of whether my lungs would carry me the goals I had formed for each of the segments.  After the 4-mile mark, Alana pulled up alongside of me, and we ran side-by-side through 5.  She even told me that she felt like she was running a lot slower than we actually were because of Pezz's sizable distance that she kept creating between us.  Between breaths of air, I gasped out that it would be good for her mental psyche so that when it happens in a race, she'll be prepared. 

By mile 6, Alana had gained a 5-10 meter lead on me, but somehow I found another gear and powered up beside her by the 7-mile mark.  After the u-turn, she gained some more distance on me, but we finished within seconds of each other on a windy last mile.  It was really fun to work together with Alana as it motivated me to go outside of my comfort zone and to push myself, even if my body was revolting. 

I am very pleased with this workout.  I did this workout last year, with fewer u-turns and less winds, and ran slower (610 ave) than I did today (607 ave).  I am excited to see that improvement, especially given that my iron levels have been low in the last couple of weeks.  I think that the iron levels are beginning to reach normal again and that my body will begin to feel more energized.  I'm still en route to run another 90 miles this week, so it's always nice to start off with a great workout. 

Up Next: to focus on 20x400m with 1 min rest on Friday!

Countdown to Trials:  45 Days

we ran from 2 mile mark, to 3 mile mark, uturn and then back to old bell, to the 3 mile mark, u-turn, and finished at the 2 mile mark

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Week in Review

90 Miles
4 Doubles
20 mile Long Run at 700 Pace
1 Massage

Hey, there's always light at the end of the tunnel.  My iron isn't fully back up yet (that I know of), but I was still able to hit 90 miles for the week.  Considering it was Thanksgiving, I'm rather proud of achieving my highest mileage ever when I wasn't even in Charlotte for four days.  One unique thing about this week was that I ran all three of my workouts mostly by myself.  Even though I felt like total crap on two of those workouts, I pushed through them both to hit the mileage target.  Surprisingly, I've found that it's easier for me mentally to work out on my own so that I don't feel self-conscious about my over exertion.

I hope that I can hit 90 miles next week before taking a slight down week for my simulation run weekend at Kiawah on December 10th.  This next week will be a big one for me because I've got 3x3 mile, 20x400m, and a 20-22 mile long run on tap.  With the long run and the two long workouts, I think it will be much easier to hit 90 miles next week than this past week.

Countdown to the Olympic Trials:  <7 weeks or 47+ days

Friday, November 25, 2011

Greenville Fartlek in Lyndale

6x1 mile

2.3 miles warmup for 18 min total

10-8-6-5-4-3 with half rest - paces below
10:  1.65 miles for 605 pace
8:    1,4 miles for 546 pace
6:    1.05 miles for 543 pace
5:    .88 miles for 543 pace
4:    .7 miles for 548 pace
3:    .52 miles for 548 pace

1.8 miles total for cool down

I ended up running this workout in a fancy neighborhood in Greenville, NC after hanging out with Garrett's extended family all day.  It was great to spend so much quality time with Garrett's cousins since I really do feel like I'm on the cousins.  We learned more about Barbara's boyfriend, Emily's pregnancy, Thomas' summer abroad plans, and Elyse's job search.  The aunts started talking about giving birth and the boys all left the room immediately.  It's a great way to get rid of the guys at a family gathering, that's for sure.

After lots of sitting around socializing, I finally decided that it was time to get this workout going, which also meant that I would be running in the dark.  I consulted with Garrett and he advised for me to run in a fancy neighborhood called Lyndale that featured miles upon miles of lighted streets without any traffic lights.

I decided to do a workout focused on time instead of distance so that I would not focus on the speed (or lack thereof ).  I just set Mr. Garmin to beep at me for the intervals and for the jog rest to make sure that I was focusing solely on effort.  I didn't look at the garmin for the entire workout, so I definitely accomplished the goal, which was to not die.  I also made sure that my altered workout would be the same distance as my original workout plans - so over 6 miles.  This would ensure that I got in the same amount of work that I was originally supposed to achieve.

Coming through the 10-8-6-5, I felt absolutely fantastic.  I could tell that I was getting faster on each interval and my legs felt really strong.  My breathing was under control and I felt really confident that my 4-3 were going to go great.  I sure was wrong about that.  By the time I did the 5-4-3, it felt like the wheels were coming off the bus. My hamstrings were screaming and I struggled to get that leg lift that had been so easy to achieve on the longer segments.  Really, I was just hanging on.  My breathing was labored, but I pushed through it. You can tell where I struggled by looking at my pace times.  In fact, I ran faster on the 5-6 than I did on the 4-3.

Despite the shortcomings in the last 7 minutes, I can't help but be pleased with this workout because I ran faster than 6:00 pace for the majority of this workout.  Goals have been adjusted obviously, but this is where I'm at right now, so I am happy with the effort put forth!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

4 Mile Tempo

4-5 Mile Tempo at Whatever Pace You Can Hold

2.4 Mile Warmup
4 miles at 6:48, 614, 553, 558
3 Mile Cool down for 9.4 Miles Total

So my new goal for these next couple of weeks of training is to start off every workout at a pace that is ridiculously slower than I would ever start a normal workout. The reason why I'm doing this is because I'm hoping it will ensure I will have enough oxygen in the later stages of the workouts.  Today during my warmup I even contemplated moving my tempo to Wednesday because my quads were still really sore since my tempo and long run from last week.  In fact, I've been walking down the stairs sideways to avoid the soreness from the descent. 

I didn't want to ditch the workout so I decided to just try to run hard and see how things progress. I also didn't look at my garmin, but did everything on feel.  I think this method helped, but by the end of mile 4, I was panting like I had just run a 400m sprint all out.  I cooled it down, but kept my cool down miles around 650, which is not common for me to do. 

The hardest thing for me right now is to keep my head in the right mindset.  It's not much fun going out to run when you feel like crap practically every time.  I'm really testing my mental strength and tenacity, which should help me prepare for the Trials race. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Week in Review

86 Miles
19+ Mile Long Run
2 Doubles
3 Trips to the Chiro
2 Dance Lessons
3 Runs with Jordan and Meagan

After two weeks of 55 Miles, I am pleased to say that I ran 86 miles, which would tie for my highest ever mileage.  It was actually quite easy to hit this mileage since I was with Jordan and Meagan for the weekend and I could have easily put the mileage at 90 if I had joined the Kinlos for a double on Friday evening.  Not surprisingly, we were in bed before 11pm on both Friday and Saturday nights.  I'm not embarassed to mention this because it's acceptable to go to bed early if you have low iron.  Admittedly, this isn't even an acceptable excuse for my early bedtime because even when the iron is normal, I go to bed before 10. 

On Saturday, Jordan drove us to Providence where I was the stranger who attended the engagement party for one of Jordan's college teammates.  The party was pretty fun and I enjoyed learning more about Jordan's college days from his former teammates.  I also ate a piece of a giant red veltet cupcake that was absolutely delicious.  Fortunately for me, Meagan started to get really tired around 10PM and we both snuck upstairs to fall asleep before the party began to get really crazy.

On Sunday, Kim ran with us for 43 minutes before calling it day and left Jordan to lead the way.  We ran through the Brown campus and downtown Providence.  I didn't tell Jordan this, but Wake Forest's campus is much prettier than Brown's campus.  Brown is an urban campus filled with busy asphalt streets whereas Wake Forest is a landscaper's dream filled with finely manicured bushes and colorful flower beds.  I still would go to Brown if I got in for grad school, though.   Anyways, the long run was practically unbearable and Meagan and I couldn't wait for the run to be over pretty much the entire time we were running.  To make matters worse, we ended a little bit early so we had to add on close to Kim's house.  Needless to say, I'm glad I was able to log over 35 miles with Meagan this weekend.

Next week I'm going to continue to push my oxygen stores to their limit by running some more workouts.  They probably won't go as well as I would hope, but they'll keep me feeling fit once everything gets back in order.   I will spend Thanksgiving in Greenville, NC and will have Garrett to bike with me for most of my runs.  This week will be about enjoying time with family and filling my belly with food so that I can run it off in my training for the Trials!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Marblehead Tempo Test

50 Min Progression from 6:30-600 pace

3.3 mile warmup
8 mile tempo at 610 pace
2.5 mile cool down for 13.8 miles total

I had so much fun in Marblehead with Meagan and Jordan that I didn't take the time to update my blog when I was there.  It was a blast to reunite with the Kinlo's in New England for three days and get in some solid runs.  Meagan is very fortunate that she has Jordan to run along with because he's always been the best pacemaker.  Anyone that is heading to the Boston Marathon needs to take the extra drive to say hello and see their beautiful home that overlooks a sound and Fort Sewall.

Fortunately for me, Jordan and Meagan bost recapped the workout on their blog.  Since I'm still struggling a bit with the lack-of-iron thing, I completed 1.5 laps of glory with Meagan before beginning to feel like absolute crap.  Jordan came back to run with me for about .75 miles before running the third lap with Meagan to finish it out.  For the last 3 miles I was alone, but I battled through my physical deficiencies and mental barriers to finish a strong 8 mile tempo, considering everything.  In fact, I ran faster than I had originally intended, which is always a step in the right direction.  My breathing was too labored and my legs felt too heavy, but I will get to the point where I feel like normal again. 

After the workout, we cooled down on a bike path back to Marblehead before beginning a stretching session in the Kinlo dining room.  All in all, it was definitely the right decision to come visit. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

12x1 Min

12x1 Min On/Off

4.1 mile warmup
12x1 min on and off
3.5 mile cool down for 11 miles total

This was just a simple workout back to get the legs moving for the first time in ten days since the debacle at the Savannah Half.  Knowing that my iron levels were low, I went into this workout with Matt, Caleb and my trusty Garmin, hoping to think as little as possible.  The plan was to get in a 4+ mile warmup and then to complete the minuters whenever my Garmin beeped at me, without a concern for the pace.  I wanted to walk away from this work out feeling confident and strong.  Granted, I only put in 12 minutes of hard work, but this was enough to get the blood flowing.  Caleb and Matt were great partners as we pushed each other to run the fastest splits of the day on the last three intervals.  These types of workouts are the best because the focus is not on pace, but on effort.  This will be important until my iron levels reach an acceptable level as it affects what I'm capable of running.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Week in Review

54 miles
6 Days of Running
18 Mile Long Run
45 Minutes of Thunder Road biking
1 Group Dance Lesson
4 Days of Abs
2 Chiropractor Adjustments

Welp - there you go.  I ran 55 miles this week and 55 miles last week.  Two down weeks, along with the help of the iron supplementation I've begun (as well as other adjustments made to things of a female matter) should help my iron stores replenish!  My goal is to keep my long runs strong, to maintain my steady state long runs, and to maintain a calm confidence that everything will fall into place on January 14th, 2012. 

This next week I will ramp my mileage back up to the normal digits of 75-80 and try my first workout back since Savannah.  I will also enjoy 3 glorious days with Meagan, Weezy, and Jordan in Marblehead, MA. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Answer: Iron Depletion!

For those of you who don't know, I've struggled with maintaining an adequate iron level for my entire running career.  In fact, I first found out about the effects of low iron on running during my sophomore year of high school, where I struggled to run faster than 6:30 pace in races.  I couldn't breathe when going up hills and I was gasping for oxygen if the pace ever got fast.  The first doctor I saw diagnosed me with exercise induced asthma.  After the inhaler didn't work, we saw another medical professional who found out that I had a ferritin level of 3, which almost required hospitalization for an iron infusion. 

If you don't anything about iron, I'll give you a quick lesson.  Iron has two essential components:  hemoglobin and ferritin.  Hemoglobin carries oxygen to your blood.  Ferritin helps the body store and transport iron.  Without iron, it feels like all the energy has been zapped from your body. Taken from one source: "In athletes, Iron Deficiency Anemia can lead to dramatic and measurable decrease in athletic performance, work capacity, reduced VO2max—and this effect is reversed when iron supplements are taken."   

I struggle with maintaining a reasonable ferritin level.  Some people may say it's because I'm a vegetarian, but I don't believe that eating meat will magically increase my iron levels.  After all, I was able to get my iron level to a 53 in March of this year, which is the best level I've ever had.  I clearly didn't start eating meat for the first time in 25 years during that time.  Instead, I started eating more leafy greens and beans. 
I have such a history with iron depletion that I have maintained an excel spreadsheet to track my levels since 2004 (see picture below).  The general ferritin level that female athletes strive for is above 20, and this is still on the lower end of the spectrum.  The average ferritin level I've had since 2004 is just 17.95.  My current level is a 5.  For me, I feel like magic if I'm above 15.  I also know that whenever I get below 10, I will experience the fatigue that is associated with iron depletion.  The results of low ferritin levels for runners are significant and I've experienced them too often for my own taste.  Symptoms?  Abnormal exhaustion, increased blood lactate, slow recovery, declining performances, heavy legs, muscular tightness, loss of motivation, and substantially increased risk of injury.
The good news is that all I have to do is increase my iron supplement (fortunately I have a tough stomach and can take a lot) and focus on eating all the iron-rich vegetarian foods that I already know about: kale, lentils, black beans, dried apricots.  After that, the iron level should jump up within 2-3 weeks.  The key is to understand that I will probably need to adjust my target paces for most of my workouts.  The best part is that the effort will still be there and should carryover once I start feeling better.  When that happens, I should feel like I just got back to sea level from running at altitude!  I also know that if I gradually ease into the pace, I usually can maintain a speedy clip. 
Cheers to understanding iron depletion and for not being injured!

Breaking the Funk!

So what's a better way to get out of a funk than to visit two of your best friends / former running partners / owners of your second favorite kitty?  There isn't a better way!!  That's right, I just booked a ticket to go to Boston for a quick weekend getaway to visit Meagan and Jordan!  Well, it will be a quick trip if Boston isn't slammed with three feet of snow in the middle of November.  I'll bring my work laptop just in case I get stuck in some unforeseen New England blizzard.  
I'm trading a weekend with my boyfriend in Charlotte for a weekend with Meagan and Jordan in Marblehead.  I'll pretend like I'm their surrogate child, tag along for runs, and eat at lots of yummy restaurants. I'm secretly hoping we'll play Scrabble!!  Most importantly, Meagan I will reminisce about our glory days - like 13.1 Minneapolis and the Heart and Sole Women's 5 Miler. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Week in Review

~55 miles
1 Double
2 Tired Legs

There's no point in reviewing the past 6 days of training, as the week was reduced to the DNF at Savannah and I already covered that yesterday.  After consulting with Coach Mark Hadley, we both agree it's time for me to take a down week, which would postpone my marathon specific training until next week.  The focus for now will be to run as many (or as few) miles as my body deems necessary.  Leaving tempos and intervals out of the picture for 10+ days should be the remedy for my tired, sore legs. 

Looking ahead to next week, I will be volunteering at the Thunder Road Marathon expo on Thursday and Friday for the Charlotte Running Club and also participating as a course monitor during the actual race on Saturday. Garrett comes back into town on Friday, and we're going out to the Ballantyne Resort for my co-worker's adoption agency's party.  This weekend is going to be a blast cheering on all the different racers in our hometown marathon and I can't wait for it to be here already!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Savannah: The DNF

13.1 @ 555-5:50 pace (~1:17:xx)

5:41, 5:56, 5:56, 6:20, 6:06, 6:16, 6:33, 6:28, DNF

First, let's just put it right out there.  I didn't finish the Rock 'n Roll Savannah Half Marathon.  Physically I am overtrained but emotionally I am pretty stable.  I'm not injured, but I'm not 100% healthy.  Mentally, I learned some valuable lessons that I can take with me to Houston.  On the bright side, I got to watch John (1:08:40), Pezz (1:14:32), and Alana (1:16:58) finish superb half marathons, all in blazing fast times, as a result of my DNF.

So, the race.  I woke up at 5:30am and did all my typical pre-race rituals, warmed up with John for an easy two miles, and changed into my Nike racing flats.  I did a couple of strides and could tell my legs were still tired.  I rationalized that I've gone into so many races where my legs were tired and performed fabulously, so tired legs wouldn't be an issue.  After some strides on the start line, I wished Pezz and Alana good luck and waited for the instructions for the start.

There was a stereo blaring "I LOVE ROCK N ROLL" and then the gun went off.  There were no start instructions so no one knew the gun was supposed to go off then.  I looked around to assess the situation and tentatively placed my foot over the start line, hoping I wouldn't get disqualified for a false start.  Apparently, the gun shot during the Joan Jett song was meant to signal the start, and the mass of 40,000 people began the race.

Alana caught up to me after 100 meters and said "That was the worst start ever!" or something like that.  I laughed.  Pezz and Alana took off, I glanced at my Garmin's estimated pace and saw 5:30 and immediately backed off.  They were about 5-10 seconds ahead of me through the mile mark.  I came through miles 2 and 3 in 5:56 and could still see Alana the same distance ahead of me.  At that point I felt fairly confident that I would catch back up to Alana and that we would work together for the rest of the race.

To be honest, I don't know what changed between mile 3 and 4.  I went from running 5:56 to 6:20 pace.  My breathing was fine.  My legs felt like they were made of clay and my form crumbled.  My jaw was clenched and my forehead was creased.  My muscles were clenching in areas that needed to be relaxed.  I saw Eric shortly after mile 3 and he told me that I looked great. I knew that he was lying and that really I looked like total crap.

Between miles 4-6, I got passed by marathoners who were hoping to run my goal time for the Trials.  My legs continued to deteriorate and my gait was altered as my left hip felt like it was locking up slowly. My IT Band and hamstring were tight, but not painful.  I wanted to drop at mile 5, but I didn't know where I was in relation to downtown, so I figured I would wait until i got closer to the city.  Around mile 7 (?) Chris Lamperski passed me and asked if I was okay and told me that I was limping.  I knew that limping 5 more miles to finish a half marathon could very well impact my plans of toeing the start line at the Olympic Trials in just 10 weeks and I didn't want to take that risk.  I passed through mile 8, where Jennifer Hadley waited to cheer me on before running to the finish to catch Alana, before passing through the crowd of people and casually jogging onto the sidewalk where the crowd had thinned out.  I put my leg up and stretched my hip, IT Band, and hamstring.  I asked for directions to the finish and began my trek. On my trek, I felt like a failure and was embarrassed that I got an elite entry and just threw it to waste by not finishing the race.

It's ironic that I dropped out because I'm actually against it in principle unless you're (1) unconscious or (2) on the way to injury.  In some ways, by dropping out, I went against one of my own values.  After all, I don't know for certain if I was on the road to injury. Sure, I've had some IT Band tightness over the course of the past two weeks.  Yes, I've had to scrap a couple of workouts or end them prematurely.  But my knee isn't in any pain like it was in January, so is it an injury?  In the end, my body is just tired and I knew that the toll of putting my body and mind through another five grueling miles really wouldn't be the best for the big goal in January.

I need a small allotment of time to assess positive and negative from this weekend and then move forward.  Then the key is to re-evaluate what I want to do over the course of the next 10 weeks. There are so many more important things in my life than to dwindle on a race that didn't go quite the way I wanted.  With that, I'm putting on my happy face, and focusing on rejuvenating my mind, body, and spirit with a calm confidence that everything will fall into place.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Week in Review

82.5 Miles
2 Doubles
1 Weightlifting Session
1 Dance Lesson
17.4 Mile Long Run

Even though I felt like absolutely garbage on all but one of my runs this week, I know that I am still building my strength and endurance.  I may have struggled to run a quick pace in workouts, but at least I was able to maintain my target weekly mileage and to get in a solid long run.  Most importantly, I'm focusing on the mental preparedness that will be necessary to perform well at the Trials.  After all, running a marathon is fun, yet challenging.  It is easy to get discouraged or to lose focus over the course of 26.2 miles.  Right now I'm going through a patch of training where it is easy to get discouraged.  This rough patch will serve as a good thing because it will only help me to prepare mentally and make me tougher for the big day.  If I can keep my head afloat during a week when layoffs loom in the near future, when work outs don't get fully completed, and when I have commitments after work every single night, then I bet I can handle a marathon with the top USA talent.  It's all about the journey and what I do to get there.  Despite the sub-par workouts, this week has already made me tougher.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

2nd Workout Fail of the Week

5x1 mile at 526-531 with 2:30 rest

2.7 mile warmup

1 mile in 5:50 (2:30 rest)
1 mile in 5:50 (2:00 rest)
10x1 min on/off for 3.1 miles

2.6 mile cool down

This marks my second workout this week that was difficult for me to complete.  I guess either I could have finished the mile repeats at 5:50 pace (my goal half marathon pace in just eight days) or I could just do minuters.  I decided on the minuters because I knew that I wouldn't be able to focus on pace.  Instead, I was forced to focus on the effort and my stride.  Mentally, this was the right decision as I came out feeling really strong and fresh on the Dilworth 2 Mile Speed Loop.

David joined me for this workout and he absolutely rocked it.  It was nice to have his company and I tried to jump in on my minuters when he was finishing so I could provide him that extra motivation on Worthington Road.  Like I stated after my workout on Wednesday, I know that my body is just tired, but that soon it will come out of its funk.  Fortunately my IT Band tightness has gone away.  I've been taking dance lessons with Garrett and I truly believe that moving my legs in different directions is stregthening the muscles in my legs that are not used while running, but that will benefit my own running!

I've got a long run on Sunday that I plan to run at the American Tobacco Trail in Raleigh.  I have a feeling that it's going to go well.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My So-Called Tempo

5 Miles at 545-550 Pace (Adjusted to 550-555 for McAlpine surface)

2.5 Mile warmup

(~4 min rest?)
5:45 pace for next 1.25 mile

2.3 mile cool down

This workout joins the other 3-4 on the list titled "Bad Workouts of the Month."  Even though it can be added to that list, I actually feel pretty good about it, considering everything.   Like every passionate runner, I did some analysis of my running ever since the Minneapolis 13.1 race on August 21, 2011.  I haven't taken a day off from running in over 10 weeks and I've been hitting mileage between 75-85 on all non-race weeks. My IT Band got tight a week ago, but I went into major pre-hab mode to take the necessary "pre-cautions" that I should have been doing ten months ago. 

Clearly, my body is pretty tired. 

Fortunately though, my mind feels fresh, excited, and alive.  Now, if I wasn't having fun and I felt tired mentally, then clearly I would be freaking out right now, but it's the exact opposite.  Sometimes your body will not cooperate with what your mind wants it to do, and you have to take a step back and adjust accordingly to what your body needs.  That's how I'm looking at these last few weeks of training before I really start to ramp things up with marathon specific workouts. I am taking the week before Savannah Rock 'n Roll Half very easy since this will be my last weekly mileage below 75 miles until after the Trials. 

With all that being said, there isn't much to report on my tempo except that I felt tired from the get-go.  Meagan and I came through at a perfect 5:51 pace, but I felt like my feet were slogging through mud.  By mile 2, we had picked up Pezz and I had already dropped back a few strides behind them.  By mile 3, I wasn't even hitting marathon pace, so I slowed down to 7-min pace.  Then I came out to the lake, and suddenly I felt re-energized and decided to try to run the last 1.25 miles with Meagan and Pezz.  I took the lead and could tell they were both hurting, so I took it upon myself to take some of the work off their shoulders and to relax behind my lead.  Somehow I was able to finish a lot stronger than I had expected.  Clearly, it wasn't anything mind blowing since I had just taken a 4 minute jog rest, but I still pushed myself when my body wasn't exactly cooperating. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Week in Review

~85 Miles
2 Doubles
1 Lifting Sess
1 Failed Workout
15 Mile Steady State Run @ 6:28 Ave

After going into this week excited with the prospect of nailing two solid workouts, my mind ended in a roller coaster.  On Tuesday morning, my IT band felt tight and I bailed on my 1000m repeat workout.  I immediately began doing my rubber band exercises every other day and got a massage.  My legs were garbage by the time Friday rolled around, and I couldn't barely sustain 6:20 pace for 6 miles.  My excitement from earlier in the week was hampered by the disappointment and the fact that I was struggling.  The worst part was that I did not know why I was struggling physically.  All I could do was focus on the emotional side and keep my head above water, holding myself strong with a confidence that everything would eventually go back to normal. I could only hope that my Sunday long run would be the light at the end of the tunnel.  Sure enough, it was.

Since I lifted on Friday evening, my legs were a little sore from that, but I knew that I could run 15 miles at 630 pace with Alana on Sunday morning.  Alana and I did just that.  Toward the end, it was a little bit more difficult to talk and breathe at the same time, but we still managed a couple snippets of conversation here and there.  I threw down my fastest split during 14th mile, as I said farewell to Alana and kept on going to the 2 mile marker before turning around and stopping at the .5 mark.  I stopped, stretched a little, before jogging a half mile as a feeble attempt at a cool down; my legs were stiff!

In the end, the most important learning lesson this week is to keep up the lifting routine.  I'm doing abs every other day (3-4x/week) and lifting 2-3 times, using a program that Mark Kane created for me back in January.  The best part is that Garrett gets back next Tuesday and will act as my personal trainer to tell me what I'm doing wrong and right.  I tend to only have tendon issues as I've never had a stress fracture in my life.  The important thing it to keep my glutes and hips strong so my IT doesn't have to do any more work than it's already doing!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Being Smart

8x1000m at 320-324 with 2 min jog rest

11.3 Easy miles

Typically I wouldn't post about a workout that I bailed on.  However, I think it's an important reminder that sometimes you have to make the right decision for the long term. 

Today I woke up at 510AM and it felt like any other workout day as I went through my regular routines.  Once I got out onto the roads, I noticed that my left IT Band was much tighter than usual.  Immediately memories from January resurfaced:   
  • Limping down Dilworth Road East, waiting for Jordan to come pick me up in his car since my IT Band was pulling so much on my knee that I couldn't even walk, let alone run. 
  • Spending my entire FSA allotment for the year in just the month of January on physical therapy
  • Icing my bruised leg from "scraping" treatment
Given my history with IT Band, I knew it would be dumb to start this work out, even though I had recruited a solid group of four guys to do this (Stephen, David, Eric, and Billy).  I know that speed can aggravate the IT, so I opted for an easy run around Dilworth.  Carolyn and Dalena ran by just as I made this critical decision, so I was able to log miles with them. 

While the last thing I want right now is to miss a work out, I would rather miss it now than in December.  I don't want to have a sporadic month of training due to IT Band issues, so I am being smart in October.  I will continue my band exercises three times a week and begin my lifting regime twice a week.  I've been slacking on the little things, which could lead to bigger, badder things further down the line.  I'm confident that I'll be good to go with the right focus on the pre-hab activities.  On the plus side, I am not in any pain!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Week in Review

~79 Miles
2 Doubles
1 400m workout
19 Mile Long Run at 719 pace
2 days at Wake Forest

This week was fairly uneventful from a running perspective since I ran easy every day until Friday, when I did a 16x400m workout with Liz, Thomas, and David.  Liz is in town visiting from Boston for Wake Forest homecoming weekend.  After successfully completing 16x400m repeats at 73-77, Liz and I stalked old friends on Facebook, went to Lululemon, and ate froyo at Menchie's.

On Saturday afternoon, Liz and I arrived at Wake Forest and reunited with a lot of the former Wake Forest runners.  I should note that even though it was Homecoming at Wake Forest, I didn't go to the Wake Forest v. Virginia Tech football game, nor did I take a single sip of alcohol.  Mostly I enjoyed catching up with my friends who are either in med school, getting their masters in epidemiology, or a phD in History.  Out of this group, I feel like an undereducated fool, but it's okay.  Maybe I'll join them with a higher degree later.

In the end,  I did log some long miles at my old stomping ground, Salem Lake, with two of my former teammates and assistant coach.  I enjoyed running a slightly lower mileage week with a solid long run.  Next week I'm on track to run 85 miles to continue my preparation for Rock n Roll Savannah Half Marathon.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Week in Review

69 Miles
1 Double
1 Workout
10 Mile Race in 58:33

After missing some key miles early on the week and then missing my warmup for the race, I still was able to fall within my target mileage for the week.  I definitely wanted to run 75-80 miles this week but I know that I only have two more "down" weeks before the Trials, so it's critical for me to take advantage of them now. 

Overall, this was a great week.  I achieved a new 10 Mile Road PR and enjoyed lots of quality time with close friends in DC.  My ten mile PR confirms that Mark Hadley's training program is a good fit for me.  In 2009, before I was coached by Mark, I ran 1:00:50 on the same course.  Two years later, I ran 58:33, almost 90 seconds faster, with a cold!  I trust that as I continue to increase my mileage each year I will continue to see improvement. This race also gave me the confidence I need going into the Trials. Now I know that running in the high 230s is a realistic goal for me.

On a personal level, it was definitely bittersweet to run a race with Meagan as I knew it would be the last one together for a while.  It is hard for me to admit that she and Jordan have left Charlotte, and I really won't accept that fact until after their final visit in late October.  In the end, I am really happy for them and am excited to visit them next year when it's not freezing outside.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Army Ten Miler Recap

10 Mile PR...58:5x something

~1 mile warmup
10 mile race in 58:33
Mile Splits: 551, 551, 551, 548, 554, 555, 553, 549, 553, 543
Half Splits:  29:18, 29:15
10k Split:  36:28
~3 mile cool down

I guess you could call this race a success, not just because of my PR, but because of the PRs that both Meagan and Boriana achieved, after an adventure that included plenty of time in the metro underground and little time warming up above ground.

The night before, Meagan and I had spent an ample amount of time strategizing over our meeting places and the best modes of transportation.  After consulting her friend Jilane, a three-year resident of DC and therefore an expert, we determined it was best to ride the Metro.  Further affirming our decision was the Army Ten Miler packet itself, which proclaimed confidently, "The recommended option for transportation is the metro.  Additional lines will be run to accommodate the racers."  Everything seemed like it would work out flawlessly: Boriana and I would meet at the Rosslyn Metro, go two stops away and get off in the Pentagon Station, where we would meet Meagan.   Little did we know that our plan would immediately be trampled by the crowd of people stuffed below ground in Northern Virginia.

So, what really happened?  Well, Garrett and I met Boriana at the metro at 630AM and when we reached the platform, it looked like this, but fill the empty spaces with more and more people until you can't see the concrete:

When a train finally arrived, we didn't make the cut to get onto the first train.  When the second train arrived, we all fit in and I checked my watch:  6:50AM.  We still had plenty of time to get to the Elite Tent in time for a full warmup.  Life was good, except for being packed in like sardines with several hundred other runners who were complete strangers to me.  I was relatively calm.  After 5 minutes, the train began to slow and I glanced through my neighbor's smelly armpit to look out the window, expecting to see the Pentagon platform.  Just darkness.  The operator came on and told us that the train ahead of us was experiencing technical difficulties.  Great.

After about 15 minutes, we finally were able to get off our train.  Turns out the "technical difficulties" for the train ahead weren't even "technical difficulties."  It was more an overcrowding difficulties thing.  Once we got off the train, we couldn't even leave the platform because the three thousand people ahead of us still had to put their metro pass through the gate exit.  While the three of us struggled to get up the escalator, I texted with Meagan to see how her metro experience was going.  She experienced her own adventure, which I'm sure she'll document on her blog soon.  In the meantime, eventually we finally made it back out to the real world...around 7:20AM.

Just when you thought we had solved all our problems, we hadn't.  Next we had to go through a bag check and then figure out how the heck to get to the Elite Tent.  I threw all my stuff into Garrett's arms and told him I'd see him after the race and sprinted off with Boriana and Meagan to find the North Parking Lot.  We ran lopsided through crowds of thousands of people, shoved innocent bystanders out of the way, and cut people in the bag check line to finally jump on the road to the tent.  We made it to the ten by 7:35AM and immediately jumped in the bathroom line.  We made it!

Immediately we all resolved that our quick jog to the Elite tent would have to qualify as our "warmup." I was pissed that I couldn't do my normal work out routine, but I rationalized that I didn't warmup for Twin Cities Marathon and was still able to run strong.  I would be fine.

Just when I thought things were beginning to be like normal race day, I couldn't find Meagan in the start line, which looked like this:
The Uber-Crowded Start
 She had scattered off to make a last minute bathroom stop at some random porta-john.  I looked around and then suddenly I heard my name.  Meagan somehow found me and squeezed her way through huge army dudes to stand next to me.  Then we waited for five minutes, packed in like sardines for the second time that day, in anticipation for the start cannon.

Now that I've already written way too much information about our initial adventure, the race just doesn't even seem that exciting in comparison.

Essentially, Meagan and I made the most of our last 2011 race together and ran together for as long as we could.  In the first mile, we let the lead pack of women sprint ahead of us.  We both figured they would fall back to us, but in the end, they didn't.

My breathing in the first mile was much heavier than normal, most likely due to the cold and congestion I had, and I was a little worried about my race.  I figured it would pass and decided instead to say good job to the wounded warriors were passing.  Running past a solder who has lost a leg in combat definitely put my own running into perspective.  I made a mental note to be grateful for every day that I have the opportunity to go outside and just run.

Meagan and I stuck together through 6 miles, even though Meagan fall off a little bit before the 5-mile mark, she caught back up and said "I'm back" with the energy of a little kid on Christmas.  I wanted to ask if we should hold hands through the finish line, but instead I decided to push the pace.

When we ran through the Mall, I was so grateful for all of the crowd support (including Brian, Jordan and Jilane) and especially for the slew of men that were around me that served as motivation to run faster.  It seemed like after each guy I passed, there was another one right ahead to keep my eyes on.  I realized around mile 7 how much I truly do thrive off of competition.  I also couldn't help but think about how much fun it was to pass all these people!

Around mile 8, the Grim Reaper stood holding a sign that read: "The End is Near."  I hated and loved this guy.

I finished with my fastest split of the day and with a total time of 58:33.  I was happy and tired.  I turned around to see where Meagan ended up and she was really close behind.  She came in 10th with a time of 58:55.  She had definitely surpassed her own expectations for her race, and we both helped the other to run smart and fast!
At the finish line
Garrett found us and showed us the way to the Elite tent before heading off to go get 30 free samples of Muscle Milk and Detour bars.  He was in heaven.

Boriana showed up a couple minutes later, with a new PR of 1:04:xx!   Before we all parted ways to cool down, we were able to capture a picture of the three CRC women who PR'd!  Shortly after this picture was taken, Boriana took off with Julie, Garrett ran off to get even more free stuff, and Meagan and I cooled down on the interstate back to Rosslyn.

We definitely made the most of our situation today and I am proud of us for remaining relatively calm while it seemed like everything was going completely wrong.  Now I feel like if something unexpected happens at the Olympic Trials, I will be prepared to handle it.  That's the spirit....

PS Many thanks to Boriana for being the best hostess ever to Garrett and I over the weekend!!

In the elite tent with Meagan & Boriana

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Farewell Workout

3 mile tempo at 555-605, then 3x400m at 75-77

4.5 mile warmup
3 mile tempo at 554, 545, 543 for 17:22 total, 5 min rest, 75, 73, 73
2 mile cool down

It seems like it was yesterday when Pezz, Meagan and I all toed the line at the USA Club Cross Country Championships, sporting the CRC logo on our shirts.  Now, less than one year later, I am the lone wolf who still calls Charlotte home.  Pezz relocated to Flagstaff, AZ to pursue a professional running career early this year while Meagan and Jordan are off to continue doing big things for Craft/Karhu.  In the meantime, I am soaking up as much time as I can with these people since time is not on my side.

I met Meagan and Jordan halfway in Freedom Park and together we ran to the Dilworth Speed Loop to meet Pezz.  Jordan was tagging along to give us some company and to keep our chatter in check.  We went out for the first 800m, chatting away like it's no big deal, completely not hitting our target pace, and then Jordan huffed and puffed his way to front, saying "We're slow."  This is why Jordan rocks. He doesn't like to mess around and immediately took over to keep the pace honest and the silence golden. 

I felt like I was the only person breathing hard at the 1.5 mile mark and got a little self-conscious that maybe I was hurting a lot more than I should be.  I waited it out and after the 2 mile mark came and went, I felt increasingly better and stronger with each step.  We finished up well ahead of our planned pace, so I'm hoping this will make 5:55 pace feel that much easier this weekend in DC. 

After a generous break, we started our 400 meter repeats.  To be honest, they were really fun! It was exciting to get some speed back in the legs since I haven't done anything faster than 5:40 in a while. 

Pezz continued to add on since she's kind of a big deal these days, being sponsored by Saucony and all. She's heading up to the USA 10k Champs in Boston this weekend while Meagan and I race at the Army Ten Miler with thousands of hot Army commanders.  This will be my last race with Meagan until the Olympic Trials, but I am confident that we'll coordinate other races in 2012 to reunite at. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Week in Review

86 miles
18 mile long run
2 workouts
3 doubles

I think this week is one of my highest mileage weeks ever. I am not 100 percent certain but I did hit over 85 somewhat unexpectedly since I ran an impromptu cool down with the wake forest girls after their meet at mcalpine on Friday. I am still feeling pretty good but know that it is critical to keep up the stretching and strength training. I head up to dc next weekend for the army ten miler so I am really looking forward to testing my fitness and all my hard work.

On a side note, I have been taking swing dance lessons with Garrett and it is definitely a form of cross training! It is tough and really taxing on my calves since I have to stay on my toes all the time. I am really enjoying all of the quality time I've been able to spend with Garrett over the course of this past week while he is here in charlotte!