Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Coming Back: 24x200m

24x200m fast but not straining

~2.5 mile warmup
24x200m at 35-37 with my trainers at JCSU with 45-50 second rest
~2.5 mile cool down for ~10 miles total

After the 25k on May 14, I ran 20 miles the first week back and 45 miles the second week back.  I firmly believe in taking down time before your next big training cycle because of the break it provides mentally from all the little things that are required during a strenuous training cycle.  I got a break from the early mornings, stretching, and planning a social schedule around running.  May was a perfect time to take a break because now is really my last chance to run less than 60 miles in a week before the Olympic Trials in January 2012.  Needless to say, my recent post-25k two week break from the grind was especially nice because I got to spend time with family and travel some without the worry of fitting running into the day's events.

I decided that today marked the first day of my training cycle of the Olympic Trials and I determined to envision the Olympic Trials experience on each of my runs leading up to the race.  I want to soak up each and every step I take that gets me closer to that day, and I look forward to every moment. 

Now that my two weeks of regeneration are over, I started the first workout of my training plan with 24x200m repeats. I was dreading doing these in the heat and humidity that has come upon us much too quickly for my taste, but I mustered enough drive and determination to wake up at 530am to get it out of the way.  I left my house at 6am and made it to the JCSU track 20 minutes later.  Jay would be showing up around 630 to do some 1200m repeats, but I wanted to start early.

I decided to click my watch for splits but to not glance at it.  I really wanted to run fast on just feel alone and trust that my times would follow.  I also decided to cut the rest from 200m rest to about 150m rest because I cut across from the start line to the 200m mark after each interval.  This left me with about 45-50 seconds of rest on each 200m.  That probably was not going to be enough later on in the workout, so I also split it into 3 sets of 8.  After the 8th and 16th interval, I drank water with Nuun in it and jogged the 200m stretch, giving me a little over 90 seconds.

Overall, I felt really smooth and relaxed until the 20th one.  I could tell I was getting tired, so I walked a little bit on the rest on those and gave myself an extra 10 seconds of cushion room.  I focused on keeping my head still and maintaining a good form, driving my arms and legs forward.  I did get a little distracted seeing my sweat fly off in drops around me.  It was pretty nasty.  Overall, I am most pleased with the fact that I was able to keep my fastest splits near the end. 

Next up are 4x1.5 mile repeats on Friday!

1st 8:  36-37
2nd 8: 35-37
3rd 8:  35-36

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Week in Review

46 Miles
6 Runs
1 day off
15 min of abs

After an awesome week of seeing Garrett for the first time in two months, I returned to Charlotte feeling out of touch with the running community since I had been gone for so long.  I caught up with a lot of my friends either on runs or over dinner and it was definitely worth it because so much had happened in the time that I was gone. 

To be honest, I didn't really feel that good on any of my runs this week because summer is coming and the humidity is still taking my body some time to get used to.  I am confident that next week my workout will begin to fall into place and that I'll feel good again.  I've got 3 weeks to get into shape for the Running of the Bulls 8k with Meagan.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Week in Review

20 Miles
4 Runs
3 Baseball Games

What a great down week!  The focus this week was not about running.  Instead the focus was on spending time with my family and catching up with friends I hadn't seen in a while.  

I started off the first half of the week in Carbondale, Illinois spending time with my siblings in the house that we grew up in.  I helped pull down a big tree and picked spinach from the greenhouse with Vanessa and my dad.  The spinach was so fresh and delicious! 

Joey, Vanessa, and I all left on Thursday through the St. Louis airport and I got back late Thursday night.  After a day of working at home on Friday, I headed to Asheville, NC to see Garrett for the first time in two months.  Fortunately, two of my former Wake Forest teammates, Erin and Marley, live in Asheville so they went with me to the game on Friday night.  After the game, Garrett put his arm around me for a picture, and I was so happy because it was the first time I had touched him in forever.  I know it sounds silly, but all the sad feelings of missing him were washed away the minute we took that picture.  It was a great way to start the weekend.

On Saturday, Erin and I went to the farmers market and wandered around downtown Asheville together before I went for a run with Marley in the Asheville Arboretum near the Hard Times trail.  Later I reunited with Erin at the Saturday night game.  Erin was a lot of fun to hang out with at the game and she loved Garrett because when we went to see him at the bullpen he threw her a baseball.  Later, after the game he signed it for her.  She told me later that "Garrett is really nice."  I'm glad I have her approval. 

Garrett's family arrived on Saturday night, and we enjoyed so many great meals at the local Asheville restaurants.  I also got to meet several of Garrett's teammates who were so nice and fun to talk to.  Even though I lost most of my voice, it was a great weekend that focused little on running and mostly on good friends and family. 

Erin, Marley and I

The Bullocks and I at the Saturday game

Garrett and I on Saturday night

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Week in Review

65 Miles
25k Race in 1:35:05
1 Day off
3 States - NC, MI, IL
5 cities - Charlotte, Grand Rapids, Chicago, Bloomington, Carbondale

This week I tapered for a race, traveled to Chicago and then drove to Michigan, and reunited with my friends and family.  I got to spend two great days in a beautiful JW Marriott with Ruth and eat lunch and dinner with my Marinich family from Detroit.  After the race, I enjoyed a night at Second City comedy club in Chicago with my brother Joey from Phoenix, my brother Ben from Cincinnati, my sister Vanessa from LA, and my parents from Carbondale, IL.

After Chicago, we drove three hours south to Bloomington, Illinois to see my grandma and my dad's side of the family.  After a couple of hours there, we traveled four hours south to my childhood home of Carbondale, IL to hang out with all members of my immediate family in Carbondale for the first time since 2009.  It's been a good week.

My Michigan family came on Friday!  How sweet

On Thursday Evening, Ruth and I happy
Around Mile 8

The finish line

Saturday, May 14, 2011

USA 25k Champs Recap

25k at 6:00 pace

2 mile warm up
25k in 1:35:05 (6:06 pace) with splits of:
1- 5:45
2 - 6:03
3 - 6:02
4 - 5:58
5 - 6:02
6 - 6:02
7 - 6:02
8 - 6:08 (hill)
9 - 5:56
10 - 6:18 (side stitch)
11 - 6:12
12 - 6:22
13 - 6:20
14 - 6:21
15 - 6:12
.55 - 3:13 (1:35:05)

At the start of this race at 8:20 this morning, I thought I could run a 1:33 25k.

At mile 7 of this race at 9:01 this morning, I thought I could run a 1:33 25k.

At mile 10 of this race at 9:20 this morning, I did not know if I could finish a 25k.

It's funny how quickly a race can unravel so differently than what you expected, kind of like reading the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo for the first time.  I came into this race feeling confident, even executed the first 8 miles of the race flawlessly with two amazing women, yet in the matter of five minutes, that all came crumbling down. 

I got a side stitch.  It sounds lame just saying it.  I'll get to that part later. I'll start at the beginning.

Before the race even started, I found out that my boyfriend, Garrett Bullock, had gotten moved up to the Lexington Legends baseball team.  I felt like this was a sign that good luck was coming my way, and that since Garrett was doing so well in baseball, that it would mean I would have a great race today as well.  It was a sound line of reasoning before the start.

At the start of the race, the dynamic duo of Caitlin and Ruth struck again.  Only 800m into the race, Ruth and I looked around and noticed a couple of women around us.  Ruth announced: "Alright ladies, we're looking to run 6:00 pace, so if you want to work together, let's form a pack."  Two women, one named Ariana Hilborn and the other unknown, said sure.  Ruth lead us through mile 1, took the lead for mile 2, and Ariana took the lead for mile 3.  We continued in this fashion until mile 9, when Ruth and I fell apart.

Ariana is from Phoenix, AZ and knows Susan Loken, one of the women Ruth and I helped to qualify to the Olympic Trials as a masters runner.  Ariana was a great addition to our duo because she was enthusiastic and supportive. We cruised through the first 6 miles of the course, with each of us alternating leads to take the pressure off the rest of us for a couple of miles.  We were right on pace, even a little under pace on the mostly downhill segment, where we traversed through a tree-lined road snaking along the river.  I felt relaxed and in control; my legs felt light and my breathing controlled. 

After I took us through mile 8, it was Ariana's turn to take the reins.  This also happened to be where the first bit of hills came through.  Ariana charged right up them with seemingly no effort, and I followed close behind.  Ruth fell off a bit here and I glanced back to say "Come on Ruth.  Get back up here."  Ruth pushed herself back with us in the pack so that by mile 9, we were all together again.  Soon Ariana began to pull away again, but I could see her look back when she was only 5 meters ahead.  She was checking to see if we were coming for the ride, and encouraged us to catch back up.  That was really sweet of her.

At 9.5, I began to rub my side.  One of the rules of being in the pack is no negative energy.  Ruth asked me if something was wrong.  I debated lying, but decided against it.  I told her "I have a small side stitch." 

I was still lying. 

In the matter of minutes, everything that had seemed easy, now seemed excruciatingly painful.  I had a terrible side stitch, one that was affecting everything else.  My mechanics were off, my back arched, and my shoulders high.  I felt like the only thing that would make it feel better would be to crumble over and bend at my waist.  Since that wasn't an option, I willed myself forward to the 10th mile marker....then the 11th mile marker...the 12th...

After all, I received a hotel room and a travel stipend to run this race, and I wasn't going to take that for granted.  I am grateful for the USATF Athlete Development Program for assisting me at this race and I didn't want to let them down.  I kept telling myself, "Caitlin, you flew all the way out here, so you better finish, damnit!"

I made a conscious decision to avoid eye contact with what I knew was the medical aid station because it would be too tempting to duck into it and call it a day.  I watched as Ruth gained 5 seconds on me, and continued to battle it out with one guy who was my only salvation on the desolate roads after my friends had all gone ahead. 

During these brutal miles from 10-15 I didn't even bother to look at my watch. I knew it would be to disheartening to see my pace crumble, so I decided to run on effort and not let a single woman pass me.  I fought hard to finish, continued to rub my abs every minute in an effort to relieve the pain. 

The left turn onto the bridge to cross the river couldn't have come soon enough.  I had about 1000 meters left and I was struggling to lift my knees high and to drive forward.  Somehow I managed to bring my pace back down to one within 10 seconds of my goal pace, but was painfully aware of how clenched my entire body felt.  Uptight.  Tense.  The finish line came, and I finished just over 1:35.  I didn't even have enough energy to say much to Ruth except for give her a hug as I was escorted to the Elite tent to get a towel and fluids.

I discovered Ariana and found out that she got 10th and ran 1:32:58.  I am so happy for her because this will give her the confidence she needs as she does Grandma's Marathon in just one month.  I hope that we can work together at the Trials. She ran where I think I'm capable of running, but it just was not my day today.

Ruth and I walked back to the hotel, both disappointed with ourselves.  It was reassuring to know that Ruth contemplated dropping out as well, which shows that we both were struggling out there. 

Now that I've had a couple of hours in the car ride from Grand Rapids to Chicago to think about my race experience, I'm grateful for how well I handled the situation.  Right out of college, I would never have dreamed of being invited to National Championship races or receiving hotel rooms to participate in a race with some of the country's best female distance runners.  I wouldn't have imagined that I would have a coach, Mark Hadley, who offers me his coaching services for free.  I also never knew how many amazing women I would meet along the way in this journey.  The number of women I have met across the country continues to grow and I'm sure we'll continue to exchange words of wisdom. 

It also cannot be forgotten that Ruth and I helped four other phenomenal women qualify for the Olympic Trials through out teamwork and dedication to working together.  My running journey, just like everyone elses, has been a roller coaster ride with a lot of ups and downs, and often the disappointments teach me the most about myself. I can apply lessons learned from these races to the next big one, where hopefully I will reap the benefits and have that euphoric race of a lifetime once again.

Although I ended on a less than ideal note here in Grand Rapids, I am glad that my parents were there to experience yet another national caliber race with me and to have their support during the race.  Not many people have that luxury, and my parents have done a good job of making an appearance at races that matter to me.    I also have a boyfriend to be really proud about, and in the grand scheme of things, my life is full and great.

I've included a video that was posted on Runner Space of Ruth and I.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Week in Review

79 Miles
8 Runs
14 Mile Long Run
Cinco De Mayo Tequila 400m

I finished up a solid week, with just over 7 days until the race that I've been training for since February starts.  This week I celebrated the Charlotte Running Club's second birthday with 21 other people as we took a shot of tequila and then ran a 400m dash.  I was the first female and was too close to Jay for his (or my) comfort. 

Next week will be busy as I fly to Grand Rapids on Thursday, race on Saturday, drive to two hours south to Chicago on Saturday after the race to pick up my sister, and spend a night on the town in Chicago.  We'll be attending a Second City Comedy Club show and meeting up with my brother JOey from Phoenix!  On Sunday, we will drive two hours south to visit my Grandma and then we'll drive four hours south to my childhood home.  I'll be spending almost six whole days at home, where I'll get to try out my mom's iPad, hang out with my family, hike, and enjoy sleeping in a room that has blackout blinds.  First up - the race.  Can't wait!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Fartlek 8 Days Out

1-1-2-2-1-1-2-2-1-1 with 1:15 rest

2.6 miles warmup
1-1-2-2-1-1-2-2-1-1 from 5:00-5:20 pace on Sugar Creek / Freedom Park with 1:15 jog rest
4.5 miles cool down

Not much to report on this workout except I achieved the main goal of working hard and getting in some solid speed work 8 days prior to the big race.  Eric and AJ joined me for this effort and Eric did a good job of maintaining a strong pace throughout the entire interval, whereas I sort of puttered out towards the end of each one.  He is coming along nicely and should be ready to run where he wants to be by mid-summer.  I think that I went out a little too hard on the first intervals, which made it harder to stay motivated towards the end of the work out. 

I enjoyed a long cool down with Aaron, Michelle, and Justin before heading back into the home office to finish out my Bank of America work day. I'm doing a nice and easy long run (14 miles) tomorrow at Latta Plantation with Aaron and Jay.  It will be nice to experience Latta for the first time in over 6 months.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Final Tune Up: 60 Min Progression


60 minute tempo with:
1st 20 minutes: 6:25-6:30 pace
2nd 20 minutes: 6:10-6:15 pace
3rd 20 minutes: 5:55 - 6:00 pace

2 mile warmup
60 minute tempo 
1st 3 miles @ 6:29 average pace (6:35, 6:23, 6:29)
2nd 3 miles @ 6:12 average pace (6:12, 6:15, 6:10)
3rd 3.75 miles @ 5:45 average pace (5:47, 5:42, 5:47, 4:30 for 3.75 miles)
1.8 mile cool down for 13.6 miles total

I was supposed to do this workout this morning, but after hearing the rain splatter on my back porch, I texted the troops and rescheduled for this afternoon.  I was fortunate that the weather would be absolutely perfect, featuring brisk 60 degree temperatures and a bright, shining sun at 5pm. 

Michelle discovered that I was tempoing and we worked it out so that she would run the first three miles of her tempo with Eric and I, and then finish up with Thomas once we picked up the pace.  Once Michelle and I got to the park, we began our warmup with Thomas, Eric, and Meagan.  After a quick bathroom break, we started to the sound of five different beeps on our watches.

The first three miles went by really fast and I was focusing on staying as relaxed as possible.  We carried on a light conversation and even joked some.  Sometimes I zoned out and just enjoyed the loud sounds from the crickets and frogs in the woods.  It made me miss home and feel excited to be there in just two weeks. After 3 miles, Meagan turned around and Thomas and Michelle maintained 630s while Eric and I picked it up.

At the start of mile 4, Eric and I took off a bit too fast, but then settled into a nice rhythm that would put us perfectly on pace.  I really wanted 6:10s to feel easy and comfortable.  I felt extremely relaxed and my breathing was controlled.  I didn't feel like I was laboring at all, which is reassuring since I want to run 6:05 for the first 5 miles of my 25k next week.  Eric and I had to turn around at the 5 mile marker, which was planned intentionally so that I could practice the turns for the Trials.  Given that we came to a complete stop to turn around, our splits are really good.

At the start of mile 7, I took off.  I was feeling great!  I knew that this was my final tune up workout before the 25k, so I really wanted to make it count.  I also decided to run only on feel and to not check my watch for the split times.  Instead, I just clicked the lap button without looking and kept on rolling.  Since the terrain is much flatter at McMullen than at the Booty Loop, I had made my own secret goal to run faster in the final 3 miles than I had in any of my Booty Loop 3 miles that I did two weeks ago.  I did just that; I ran 17:16.  After I passed the 9 mile mark, I still had over 4 minutes left to run.  For sanity's sake, I decided to just ease it up a bit and to run .75 more, which I figured would get me to 60 minutes if I ran 6:00 pace.  I closed the final .75 in 4:30, which was exactly what I wanted. 

Once the clocked ticked in at 60 minutes, I stopped and walked.  It was a rather uneventful end to a great workout because Eric wasn't around to give a high five in celebration of our accomplishment.  Instead, I bent over, caught my breath, and turned around on the trail to find Eric.  I ran into Michelle and Thomas and then eventually Eric and we finished up, recapping the turn of events.  Michelle absolutely rocked her 50 minute tempo at a 6:30 average and Eric rocked his 60 minute tempo, running 5:55s for his final 3 miles.

After tonight's workout, I trust my race plan for the 25k and am ready to race!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Week in Review

79 Miles
8 Runs
~16 mile long run
800m Repeats and 5 Mile Race
1 CRC Social

Not much to report about this week except that I'm ready to rock at the 25k.  My legs are feeling strong and my mind is prepared to compete against some of the best runners in the nation.  Nan Kennard, Katie McGregor and a couple other elite women are running, but after those ladies, I really do feel like I can compete with any else that toes the line.  The USA 25k Champs tends to be one of the less competitive USA Championship races because most of the other professional runners are busy pursuing a season on the track.  For this reason, it will be a good race for me to stick my nose out to place in the top 8.  Further, I'm excited to reunite with Ruth and to work together to execute a great race.

Below are pictures from the CRC social that was hosted on Saturday night.  It was great to see all of my running friends dressed up! 
Michelle, Lindsey and I

Emily and I acting as bouncers

Proving that CR