Tuesday, February 28, 2012

3x2 Mile Repeats

3x2 Mile with 2 min rest at 610, 600, 550

2 mile warmup
3x2 Mile in 11:52 (6:00 | 5:52), 11:30 (5:45 | 5:44), 11:19 (5:43 | 5:36)
3 mile cool down for 11 miles total

My alarm went off at 5:20am, and, not surprisingly, the last thing I wanted to do was to workout.  I grudgingly pulled myself out of bed and got ready in less than 10 minutes to head out the door to meet Spada and Eric at the Dilworth Speed Loop by 5:50am.  On my solo warmup in the dark, my legs didn't feel fully recovered from last week, but my hip flexor and glute medeus finally were not tight!  It felt like a huge weight of stress was lifted from my shoulders and I took a deep exhale, crossing my fingers that this feeling of normalcy for the first time since pre-marathon would stay for the remainder of my spring training.

Once I hit the Speed Loop, Spada, Eric and I all jogged to the starting point near the intersection of Dilworth Rd W and Dilworth Rd E.  I verbalized the fact that I wanted to run 6-610 for the first set and to gradually get faster.  Inside, I thought to myself that I would be lucky to hit the 540s today.  I was in for a pleasant surprise. 

We took the pace out conservatively through the 400m, and then I decided to start pushing it.  The mile mark hit right before a nice downhill, so I charged down, hoping to create an equilibrium between the quickly approaching uphill section.  I lead the way on this interval and felt great.

For the second interval, I wanted to make sure it was faster than the first, so after 400 meters of Eric taking the lead, I took charge again to push the pace harder and faster.  It was a lot of fun doing this because I haven't had that desire to push the pace in a really long time in any of my workouts. 

After another two minutes of rest, we began our third and final repeat.  I faltered a bit after the 1.25 mark, but I found it within myself to power up a hill and take the lead once again.  That alone used up a lot of my energy, so after that I fell off the boys a little bit, but I still came through my last mile with my fastest split of the day. 

All in all, this workout was rather enjoyable because of the cat/mouse game that I kept playing with the guys and also because of how well I pushed my body forward.  I felt really awesome and the workout just made me excited to race again.  I haven't raced in almost 7 weeks, but I am beginning to see the payoff from my training over those weeks.  I've also decided not to run a 5k this weekend because I don't want to drive over two hours for $250.  Instead, Garrett, John and I will hang out in Charlotte!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Week in Review (with Meagan!)

83 Miles
3 Doubles
2 Strength Workouts
17 Mile Long Run from 620-700
5 Runs with Meagan

The main thing that was determined this week was that if Meagan and I lived together, our running performances would dramatically improve.  In four days of running (and snuggling) with Meagan, we got in five runs together, two of which were of fairly decent quality.  Our long run on Sunday included Meagan and I pushing the pace together with Alana and enjoying as much of it that we could, considering we had gone out the night before.  In fact, I had haphazardly organized a surprise dinner for Meagan at Press on Saturday night.  Alice, Anna, Matt, Aaron, Billy, Carolyn, John, Pezz, Anna and Michelle were among the guests and I could tell that Meagan missed her Charlotte friends who surrounded her that night.  The after-party continued at Tilt Charlotte, which featured a very eclectic group of people - old men, cougars, young europeans with long hair, and our very own scrawny runner folk.  We took over the small dance floor and proceeded to embarrass ourselves with our graceless dance moves.  Despite a wild night out, Meagan, John, Aaron and I all left by 11:10pm.  We dropped Aaron off at the bus station and then made our way home.  Meagan ate four spoonfuls of agave nectar to make her throat feel better in between thoroughly bashing my cat.  It was a rather entertaining scene, that's for sure.

Since Meagan has been appointed the duty of a bridesmaid, she already has fulfilled all of her responsibilities with poise and grace.  We went wedding dress shopping on Saturday, and we were in and out of the shop in less than an hour.  On Sunday, we continued to prove that we are indeed the fastest bridal shoppers ever as Meagan tried on over 10 bridesmaids dresses at JCrew in less than 45 minutes.  Needless to say, sales clerks like us because we don't mess around nor waste time.

Meagan leaves on Monday and her visit here further cemented why she's a bridesmaid:  Meagan just gets me...oh and she's a great training partner.  What more could I ask for?  Her visit made me miss her even more, so I hope I get to see her soon.

Meagan and Michelle

Meagan's surprise group at Press

Meagan, Michelle, Anna and I

Carolyn, Billy, Aaron and I

Friday, February 24, 2012

800m Repeats Fail

8x800m with 2:00 rest

3 mile warmup
4x800m with 2:00 rest in 2:41, 2:39, 2:39, 2:36
3 mile cool down

pm:  4 miles

Originally, I had planned to do 16x400m repeats on the track, but since Meagan had just done track work on Wednesday, I compromised and decided to do 800m repeats instead on the Dilworth Speed Loop.  Unfortunately, the weather was uncharacteristically warm and humid, so my legs felt heavy and sluggish on the warmup.  I figured that once I started the 800s, my body would recuperate and feel much better.

I was definitely wrong about that.

After the second 800m, both Meagan and I were breathing like we were racing a mile all out on the track.  In reality, we were just on the Dilworth Speed Loop, pathetically trying to finish an 800m workout at just under 5:20 pace.  In a way, I wish that Meagan would have felt better for her own sake, but we both felt like it was a death march and decided to call it a day after a measly four.  Yes, we could have slowed it down a bit, extended our rest, and just finished the second four repeats, but it just wasn't in us.

Instead of giving in to the fear of overtraining, doubt of my fitness, or any other negative self-doubt, both Meagan and I just put crossed this workout off the list, and moved on to the next one: our long run on Sunday.  After all, this is the first real week back to training for both of us, where we are hitting two solid workouts a week, plus a hard long run. Our bodies just were telling us to give them one more day to recover, and we did just that.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

5 Mile Tempo

5 Mile Progression tempo at 6:10-5:50 pace

2.5 miles warmup
5 Mile Progression tempo in 30:13 with splits of 618, 600, 554, 603, 556
2.5 miles cool down for 10 miles total

pm: 4 miles easy

I'm really behind on my blog due to the wonderful visit from Meagan this past weekend, so I'm playing catch up now!  I was running late, so when I got to the standard meeting spot, Spada was no where in site.  I decided to tentatively "start" my tempo at a measly pace, hoping to find him along the way.  I saw Carolyn and Dalena, who told me they thought they had spotted him around the lake.  I powered forward, hoping to spot him because I had no desire to do a 5 mile tempo along in the dark at 5:40am.  Fortunately, he did one extra lap around the lake, so we ran into each other and I immediately picked up the pace to keep up with him.  In the dark, we ran side by side as we traversed the streets near the greenway.  I started to really hurt near the fourth mile, but I wasn't looking at my watch, so I had no idea what pace we were running. I could tell Spada was feeling pretty good, but he stuck with me until there was just 800m to go.

I really enjoy working out with Spada because he makes everything so much simpler than I tend to.  He keeps me in check and always is guaranteed to finish a workout.  Although my time wasn't anything spectacular, I know that I am coming along.  I tend to race faster than I workout, so I can tell my strength is finally coming back to me.  I'm really excited to put all of my post-marathon training to the test in just a couple of weeks at the NC USATF 4 Mile Champs in Durham.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Week in Review

80 Miles
2 Doubles
2 Workouts
16 Mile Steady State Long Run

This was my first solid week back to training with a full workout schedule.  I had the honor of running with Eric for both of my workouts (5 mile wave and mile repeats), so it was great to have him around to push me to go faster.  My left hip still feels tight, but it's definitely manageable.

After my Friday workout, I prepared for my weekend trip to Winston-Salem and Greenville, NC.  Garrett and I met in Winston on Saturday for a full day of wedding preparations!  We first met with a caterer for a tasting, then met with the wedding coordinator for Old Salem, and then had our engagement portraits done by Andy from Indigo Photography.  It was definitely a busy day, but so much fun!  We topped everything off with a great dinner celebration at the Village Tavern in Reynolda Village with Garrett's family and Elyse's friend.  It was definitely a great way to celebrate one week of engagement!  Then Garrett and I drove back to his parents house to spend some quality time together in Greenville.

I was fortunate enough to have company for my steady state long run on Sunday in dreary Greenville.  The weather was cold and rainy, but Heather Magill made the drive all the way from Wilmington to join me in some long run fun on a new greenway!  It was fun to catch up with Heather and hear about how her training has been progressing.  My favorite thing about running is how many amazing people you meet along the way, and Heather is one of those amazing people!

All in all, this week was a success because I ran my target mileage and booked a wedding venue, chose a caterer, booked reception music, and narrowed down the wedding dress style I like.  Exciting times!

Friday, February 17, 2012

5xMile Repeats

5xmile repeats with 2:30 rest at 5:45 pace and getting faster

3 miles warmup
5:36 (2:30)
5:37 (2:30)
5:34 (2:30)
5:37 (3:00)
2 miles cool down for 11 miles total

Eric and I did this workout on the Dilworth 2 Mile Speed Loop during a delightful North Carolina February afternoon.  The temperatures were in the upper 60s and the sun was shining bright; I couldn't have asked for better weather!  Since we did the 2 mile loop, miles 1 & 3 and 2 & 4 shared the same route.  Mile 5 was a hybrid of the two routes since we had to make it back to our starting point.

We started off a little faster than I had originally planned, but it didn't even feel hard.  On the next interval, there were more gradual uphills so I pressed harder so that I felt like I was actually working.  My time was quite similar to the one prior, even with the uphill!  Unlike all of my other post-marathon workouts, I felt better on each passing interval.  Things were going great.  We took a little bit extra rest after the 4th one because we took a much needed water break at Rebecca's porch.  I really dug deep on the fifth one and could even feel my face contorting a little bit.  Hopefully I never stuck my tongue out because the Dilworth post master would have been scared away.

The best part about this workout is that it's definitely the fastest I've ever run on this course.  Back in September, I could barely muster a 5:38 on this course.  I felt strong and almost 95% normal!  This feeling could have largely been due to the fact that Greenapple worked on me for over an hour last night, helping to loosen up parts of my body that are fighting hard against me.

Oh, and remember how Eric dropped me on my workout on Wednesday?   I dropped him on this workout.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

5 Mile Wave Tempo

5 Mile Tempo alternating every 800m pace between 2:50-2:53 and 3:05-3:07

2.25 miles warmup
2:55 (on)
3:03 (off)
3:00 (fell asleep)
3:04 (29:53 for 5 miles)
2.75 miles cool down for 10 miles total

Wave workouts never cease to amaze me in their difficulty to complete.  They are mentally consuming, physically taxing, and aerobically challenging.  It's the hard workouts that make us stronger, right?

Spada, Eric and I all planned to meet at the Freedom Park Tennis Courts at 6AM.  This meant that Spada and I would actually meet somewhere halfway on the Sugar Creek Greenway since we both left our respective stations at 5:40.  By the time we united with Eric, it was time to get the show on the road.

We started at the East Blvd Entrance to Freedom Park, did a loop and a half around the Freedom Lake, and continued our way to the other end of the Greenway.  We started off a little slow on the first 800m "on," but that was to be expected since it's hard to get the legs rolling immediately when it's so early in the morning.  After the second "on" 800m, I knew this was going to be a tough one for me.  My breathing was already labored and my form felt sloppy.

I was really grateful for the company of Spada and Eric because I really just wanted to stop and catch my breath, but that wasn't an option with them around.  On the fourth one, Eric bolted ahead, and Spada went with him. I heard Eric ask Spada something, but I didn't quite catch what he said.  They rolled about 10-20 meters ahead of me, but pulled back to come get me on the easier segment.  Spada happily told me that Eric had asked Spada: "Did we drop her?"  Well, yes, they had dropped me, because I dropped a bomb of a split on that one.  If it had been light out, I'm sure I would have seen Eric blush in embarrassment, and he immediately stuttered something in an attempt to cover his bases and to not insult me.  Fortunately, I have thick skin and I told him not to worry about it.  In my mind, I was thinking: "Don't worry, I'm going to drop your a$$ in the next workout."  I smiled to myself.

Fortunately, I was able to bring things back into respective digits for the final hard segment, and then we called it a day.  I continued on my way on the greenway back to my house, grateful that was over.  Things are slowly coming together and I'm really enjoying this training.  My left hip flexor is still tight, but definitely manageable.  Looking forward to mile repeats on Friday.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

(Engagement) Week in Review

~77 miles
2 Workouts
2 Doubles
16 Mile long run
2 Lifting Sessions
1 Engagement

This week was simply perfect.  I hit all of my workouts - 8 mile progression and 7x1000m repeats - and I got to see my boyfriend...er, fiancee!  Since we all know how much I love my cat Cicero, it was only fitting that Garrett would incorporate my kitty into the proposal.  On the way back from my Lululemon run on Saturday morning, he called me to say that he had just given Cicero his Valentine's Day present.  That's cool, I said.  I got home a couple minutes later, and he was holding Cicero (indeed, he was mostly restraining Cicero from sprinting away with the ring).  He told me to look at the collar he got Cicero.  I barely glanced at it because I knew Cicero hates collars.  Then he kept prodding me, telling me to check out the bell that was included.  I was even less interested at that point, because I didn't want to hear Cicero ringing all around the house as he runs up and down the stairs.  Finally, mainly due to Garrett's enthusiasm, I moved in towards the collar to give it a good look, and there was the ring!

Garrett didn't get down on one knee and I didn't bawl my eyes out.  Instead, I just got a little teary eyed and asked if that was his way of proposing.  He said joyfully, YES!  A little while later I think he actually asked to marry me, and I don't even know if I said yes.  He knew the answer already.'

The next two hours were spent calling our family members and close friends.  Then, I finalized this fancy video that I had worked on the night before (yes I had an inkling he would propose this weekend) so that I could tell people in the virtual world.

The engagement weekend was indeed slightly bittersweet because this is Garrett's last weekend in Charlotte before he heads off for Spring Training.  Regardless, in the next seven months while he's gone, I can plan our wedding and train a ton so that I can win as many prize money races as possible to pay for our wedding in Winston-Salem.  Oh - and save the date for December 29th, because that's when we're getting married!

Friday, February 10, 2012

7x1000m Repeats with Josh

7x1000m repeats with 2 min jog rest

1.8 mile warmup
7x1000m at Dilworth Speed Loop
Split (Rest Time)
3:36 (through half in 2:50) (1:22)
3:34 (through half in 2:50) (1:16)
3:32 (through half in 2:49) (1:28)
3:31 (through half in 2:49) (1:55)
3:30 (through half in 2:48) (1:27)
3:29 (through half in 2:47) (1:56)
3:28 (through half in 2:47
1.8 mile cool down for 9 miles total

pm:  3.5 miles easy with Jason (12.5 miles total)

Since winter is finally making its appearance in the Carolinas, Josh and I opted to perform this workout during our lunch break when it would be a little warmer.  Right now is a perfect time for me to work out with Josh because he's got a goal to break 18 in the 5k, while I've got a goal to get my legs back under me after the marathon.  Really, it's the perfect match.

After a warmup that was just short of two miles, I was already feeling tired.  Feeling tired beforehand is never a good sign, but I brushed aside any thoughts of doubt, determined that I was going to hit my goal times, which were to start at 2:50 through the 800m and to get faster gradually from there.  I knew that my times wouldn't be close to other occasions where I've completed this same workout on the same terrain, but I had to start somewhere.

Josh and I ran through the first one and we both felt relaxed.  We came through right on the target pace, and my legs felt strong.  I made the executive decision to just start the intervals when we got back to the start line, which was a little earlier than our prescribed 2:00 rest.  This was fine though, and when we felt like we needed that extra 30 seconds, we took it.  Towards the last three intervals, my left hip flexor and upper quad felt fatigued, but nothing painful.  I saw Greenapple the night before, so I wasn't surprised that the leg was tiring easily because of the exercises performed.

When I did this workout back in September, I was able to run 3:22s with 2:00 rest.  I was only 6-10 seconds off of those times, with at least 30 seconds less rest this time around.  I'm definitely still a little rusty, but I'm really excited about this workout and how things are coming around.  I've outlined my race schedule for the first half of the year, and the main focus is winning prize money and just having fun! Looking forward to the next couple of weeks!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

"Soft" 8 Mile Progression Tempo

8 Miles Progression without looking at Splits

2-ish warmup
8 miles in 51:14 (6:24 ave) with splits of 653, 614, 621, 628 (u-turn), 624, 618, 619, 617
2-ish cool down

In an attempt to adjust to doing early morning workouts to prepare for the new role that I've accepted at Bank of America, I grudgingly pulled myself out of bed at 5:15AM to prepare for this workout.  I was out the door by 5:30 to meet Dalena, Spada, and Eric on the greenway near Freedom Park.  Somehow, I convinced Dalena to join us in the fun and it was a welcomed addition because I realized that this was the first time I've ever actually worked out with her and I liked her positive spirit.  Regardless, after an uneventful warmup, we started our tempo...very slow.  After a couple of minutes of leading, Spada annoyingly told me to pick up the pace.  That's probably why my fastest split was seen during mile 2...because I was scared of Spada.

The last six miles of the tempo went by just as you would except - at least as normal as any tempo can go when it's still dark out on the streets of Charlotte.  We ran back and forth on the greenway between East Blvd and Brandywine twice.  I didn't feel too labored in the first half, but the second half I did, embarrassingly enough...At least labored enough where I had no desire to expend any precious energy trying to keep the conversation going.

I finished the workout on my own as I continued on the path towards my house while Spada and Eric turned around to head back to Freedom.  I was glad I had the last half mile of the tempo to finish on my own so that I could be left with my own thoughts.  Coming back after a marathon is tough.  It's mentally grueling - even more so than the training leading up to a marathon.  I've been spending the last couple of weeks really trying to keep my spirits up, but it's been really tough for me to do that. I've had this nagging discomfort of weakness in my left hip flexor, and I was freaking out just a little bit that I might have an injury coming on.  Even my right knee started to hurt on Tuesday, and I had quick flashbacks to January 2011 when my left knee hurt due to IT Band issues.  Fortunately, it's been a couple of days since then, and all of that has gone away.  My body must still be in the process of healing itself from the unforgiving concrete in Houston, and I just need to be patient and let it do just that.  And, of course, I need to keep doing all of my prescribed exercises to correct my weakness.  See you in the gym doing good girl/bad girl folks.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Week in Review

65 Miles
2 Workouts
13 mile long run
2 Doubles
2 Lifting Sessions
4 Ab Circuits

I realized this week how much more time I have when running 65 Miles a week.  Don't get me wrong, running 65 miles is an amazing accomplishment for any runner, fast or slow, but of course it's less of a time commitment than 90 miles.  In fact, since I got in two doubles this week, I only had to run 4 miles on Saturday, which left me plenty of time to bake two different types of cupcakes:  chocolate PB and also hostess cupcakes.

In the early part of the week, I spent every minute, that I wasn't at work or on a run, writing the February Charlotte Runner newsletter.  For those of you who may take the newsletter for granted, please don't.  I dedicated at least 30 hours over the past two weeks to transfer the newsletter onto a new software, Apple iPages.  This massive reconstruction meant I had to insert new links, create new layouts, and write more columns.  I also realized that the newsletter would be much more interesting if we recruited some of Charlotte's best writers to be guest columnists.  Between acting as a graphic designer and Editor in Chief, my night schedule was filled through Friday.  Fortunately, as much as I may have just complained, I truly am passionate about this kind of stuff and am excited about the new format.  (Note:  If you aren't happy with the newsletter, then suck it up.  No, just kidding...please send me some feedback).

When I wasn't writing the newsletter and baking cupcakes, I mustered a couple of low key workouts.  I did a 5 mile tempo, purely on effort, on Tuesday and completed 12x1 minute on Friday.  After the Friday workout, I didn't stretch as much as I should have prior to sitting at a desk for the next four hours and I definitely paid for it later.  I had trouble walking around and limped painfully through the parking garage to Trader Joe's.  Fortunately, Dr. Greenapple told me not to fret and that it was probably just some after effects of the numerous exercises I completed on Thursday evening.  As much as I'd like to cheat, I've been sticking to the plan of lifting and doing abs regularly.  I've got a major weakness in my left hip/glute area and to get to that next level, I need to get it under control.  Pre-hab is the key for the next four years.