Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Pre-Race Workout

3 mile tempo at 600, 550, 540, 2x800m

3 mile tempo at 600, 550, 544, 3x400m at 75-76

Another early morning pre-race workout, and another unremarkable time, but I'm confident I'll be able to piece things together for the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler.  I ran a 3 mile tempo in 17:44 pace, and followed up with some 400m repeats, and felt winded after a mile.  I was fortunate enough to have the company of David, Billy and John F because otherwise I would have been inclined to veer off to the side of the street and stop dejectedly.  But I didn't!   I tend to race better than I work out, but I'm beginning to wonder about the pollen in the air.  Really, why can I barely run a 3 mile tempo at my goal 10 mile pace?  My body isn't cooperating with what my mind wants it to do, and I don't understand it.  I haven't gotten my iron checked since before the Trials, so I probably need to check on that.  I'm hoping that it's just my body recovering from a couple of solid weeks of training.  Here's to hoping for a a breakthrough this year!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Week in Review

75 Miles
3 Doubles
1 Lifting
1 Workout
16 Mile Long Run

Well, this week was largely uneventful as I struggled to gather the motivation to get out the door and run practically every day.  I didn't even want to run in the morning, and then by the time I returned home in the evening, I hadn't consumed enough calories at work, so I would be famished and stuff my face with apples and peanut butter.  Yes, my snack of choice.  All of this would result in further lack of motivation to get off my butt and run....And all of this would result in me not hitting my mileage target of 80-90 miles for this week.  When it comes down to it, I'm not happy with my racing times and I'm not happy with my workout times in the past two weeks...and all of that combined makes one unhappy Caitlin.  I typically am a pretty positive person, but right now, I'm feeling a little down on running, but am still optimistic that I could be feeling normal again in less than a week.

I go through phases like this every now and then, and I know it really means that I need to take some down time.  It's ironic because in some ways taking down time is the very last thing I want to do because I think of my goals for the USA Half Champs and also, even further out on the horizon, the Philly Marathon.  However, I know that for my own sake, I do need a break.  Fortunately, after next week, I get some down time as I am traveling to the Dominican Republic to visit my former teammate Merry Placer.  Fortunately she still runs and knows Spanish, so we'll still be running in the DR, just not very seriously.  More just to burn off the calories of free food and drinks we'll be consuming at the all-inclusive resort that I booked for $12 a day.  No, that is not a typo.

That being said, I embark on another week before racing at the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler, where I have an expectation to have fun and race hard.  After that, April will be here and I'll be embarking on the journey known as winningasmuchprizemoneyashumanlypossible.

Friday, March 23, 2012

5xMile Repeats

6xmile repeats with 2:30 rest

2.5 mile warmup
5xmile with 2:30 jog rest (~400m) at 5:45, 5:38, 5:36, 5:33, 5:30
2.8 mile cool down for 11.3 miles total

Earlier this year, I told Stephen Spada that I would be doing all of my workouts early in the morning, and, so far, I've kept true to that statement.  Actually, almost too true since we started today before Spada had arrived.  Billy, Mike, Eric and I started the workout promptly at 6:06am for our respective workouts.  Eric and I were doing mile repeats, and Billy and Mike were doing a fartlek of sorts.  The goal was to start out fairly conservative, at 5:45 pace and then to get gradually faster.  I knew this would be a tough day for me because my legs are still tired from last weekend's races.  Eric and I hit the target time on the first one, and then really pushed on the second one to hit a time that's more in line with our goal pace in some races.

At the end of the second one, I noticed Spada's car along the loop and realized he must be out on the course somewhere.  About five seconds later, he materialized from behind and hopped in with us, but greeted us with the silent treatment to make us pay for leaving him behind.  He's got a talent at making me feel terrible, that's for sure.  Note to self: never leave without Spada, ever again.  We started the third one and I told Spada he could just destroy us on the intervals to make us suffer both mentally and physically.  He kind of did this and at least pushed us to finally start hitting some more respectable times.

For the last couple of intervals, it was purely the company of Spada and Eric that kept me going forward.  My mind was easily shutting off today, so when I woke back up, I would fight hard to tuck back in behind the guys so they didn't get too far ahead of me.  Even though I didn't do all six intervals, I'm happy with the fact that I pushed through when it was really the last thing my legs wanted to do.  My legs felt heavy and uncooperative, and this was essentially the maximum speed that I could muster out of them.  I really want to start seeing some faster times in my training, but I think that is difficult to see as much on the roads versus the track.  I'm excited to do 400m repeats in a couple of weeks to really test my speed out.

In the end, I'm just glad this workout is over and now I can focus on running a decent time at Cherry Blossom next Sunday.  I found out that the elite women's start was expanded to include all women who run faster than 63 minutes for the 10 miler, which is exciting because that means that I'll have more people to pace off of.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Tobacco Road Half Marathon Recap

Top three

1st Place,
Half Marathon in 1:20:01, Results here
1st Half:  40:00, 2nd Half:  40:01
6:07, 6:04, 6:01, 6:01, 5:55, 6:23, 6:03, 5:57, 6:17, 6:23, 6:11, 6:01, 5:51, :41

Wow, didn't realize I had run perfectly even splits until I looked up the results for the blog.  I had no idea that would happen given how terrible I felt at mile 9.  More on that later.

So, after yesterday's terrible performance, I was undecided about running this race.  Mark Hadley, coach of Team USA Road Runners, recommended that I don't race, given how terrible I felt in on Saturday.  In the end, I decided last minute to do the race because I knew I came to the Triangle to win prize money and really did not want to go back empty handed.  What's even more surprising about today's performance, besides the fact that I did race yesterday, is that I also found a wedding dress!  After the 4-miler, I drove with Garrett's mom to a Bridal shop two hours away, in hopes of finding THE wedding dress...and I did.  We arrived back in Raleigh at 6pm, just in time for dinner at Chipotle with Garrett's extended family.  Before I knew it, I was already back at Garrett's cousin's house, and in bed by 8:30.

My alarm sounded at 4:53am, and I was out the door by 4:58 to drive to the Marriott TownePlace Suites, to meet the Charlotte Running Club van that Aaron Linz had organized for the slew of runners making the trek to Tobacco Road.  Once I met the group, Aaron drove us all to the VIP parking lot, and we camped out for thirty minutes or so before going for a warmup jog.  Soon, it was race time and John and I frantically ran to the porta-johns to find a very long line.  We spotted several people in the woods, and made our own paths through the weeds and trees to find a suitable rest stop area on opposite ends of the forest from each other.  By the time we sorted that out, it was time to toe the line.

At the start line, I had a solid ten minutes to scope out my competition.  My assessment included Kelly Fillnow (pro triathlete), Molly Nunn (2:46 marathoner), Dalena Custer (ready to break 1:21), Josi (no idea here), and one girl I would discover to be named Erin.  The plan was to stay with Dalena as long as possible and then take off when I felt good.  My internal goal was to stick right behind whoever was the leader and hope that Dalena followed.

When the race director shouted "Get Set, Go," I settled into an overly relaxed pace to make sure that someone else took the lead.  Fortunately for me, Kelly took the bait and bolted to the front.  Dalena, Molly, Erin, and myself settled behind her.  By mile one, our group remained the same.  Aaron jumped in to keep us company for a couple of miles, before veering off to scope out a suitable cheering station. During these miles, Kelly continued to keep the pace honest and by 3 miles, our pack was Kelly, Dalena, Erin and Josi.  On mile 5, Kelly took us through a 5:55 mile, which was good enough to drop our group down to just three: me, Kelly, and Dalena.  Throughout this time, Dalena and I were chatting a little, but not enough to exhaust precious energy. I stayed tucked in behind Kelly the entire time.  I felt extremely relaxed and I couldn't even hear my own breath!  Kelly had me fooled because she wasn't breathing hard either.  That changed at mile 6, when I could tell her breathing had become more labored.  At the same time, we came through our slowest mile of the day (6:23) and I knew I needed to go then.  There was a slight hill, so I shot forward and told Dalena to come with me, which she did.

By the 6.55 mile turnaround, Dalena was still tucked behind me and Kelly was just a couple seconds behind.  After I rounded the turn, I had another burst of speed that I maintained until mile 8.  Somewhere between 7 and 8, Dalena fell back slightly, but I didn't discount her out of the game yet. When mile 9-10 rolled along, I was hurting due to the slight incline and actually doubted my ability to finish because my legs felt like do at the last 4 miles of a marathon.  Aaron materialized out of nowhere and kept me company for these miles, which was a huge life saver.  He told me how far Dalena was, and I told him it would be okay for him to lie to her and tell her that I looked terrible.

Once Aaron dropped me off, I suddenly felt much better. I no longer was worried about Dalena catching me because I knew my legs would carry me to the finish.  I felt more fresh now than I had 10 minutes ago and was able to bring my pace back down.  Thomas showed up somewhere along the way and told me that I could catch Scott Woodbury.  With one mile to go, I did catch him and told him to come with me.  He said, "Are you really going to make me do this?"  Yep, I sure am!  He helped me a ton.  By that point, I knew the win was in the bag, and really wanted to slow down, but I couldn't do that anymore with Scott by my side.  The last .1 of the race was uphill, and Scott slowed down so that I could break the tape.  I was kind of hoping he would run in alongside me so that we could hold hands together.  I didn't think he would be up for that though.  I came just short of breaking 1:20, the day after I could barely run 6:00 pace in a 4 miler.  All in all, a success!

While this is no PR, I still am very pleased with how I competed and really stuck myself out there in a position to win.  Most of all, I am proud of how I was able to push aside any disappointment from yesterday and use it as fuel for motivation in today's race.

Finally, I can't close out this blog without fully documenting the prowess of the CRC this weekend at Tobacco Road.

  • Dalena had a 3 minute PR and took home her first check of prize money with a time of 1:20:51
  • Kelly ran her goal time 1:21:43 for third place
  • Michelle shattered her marathon PR with a time of 2:58:06 and for third place
  • Danielle ran a marathon PR with a time of 2:58:49
  • John got third place in the men's half, despite having a rough day
  • Carolyn, Anna, Allison, Jinnie, Mo, Thomas, and Chad all raced as well and made the most of the day!
I'd also like to thank Emily and Matt Penny for being such gracious hosts to me over the weekend. Also, Uncle Robert and Ann were great to come and support me as I finished the race!  It was all around a fabulous time.

John and I before the race

Charlotte crew!

Week in Review

67 Miles
1 Workout
4 Mile Race in 23:28
Half Marathon in 1:20:01

Most of this week was already recapped in my race reports posted earlier on the blog.  There are some important highlights to take note of.  I am officially a part of the Team USA Road Runners, a new running group that Mark Hadley has formed to promote the sport of running.  The biggest advantage of being a part of this team is the local resources that will be provided for free.  Of course, there's free coaching by Mark Hadley, but other notable benefits include free services from Dr. Greenapple, a free Metro YMCA membership, a stipend toward massage each week, and free Trigger Point Performance foam rollers.  I'm excited to be a part of this group along with Pezz and Alana.  

I also am officially signed up for the USA Half Marathon Championships in Duluth, Minnesota in June.  Meagan Nedlo, Ariana Hilborn, Camille Herron and I are all going to carpool together from Minneapolis to Duluth to take part in an epic journey to get some (hopefully) BIG PRs.  My half marathon PR is no where near as good as my marathon PR and it's about time I lower that.  

Finally, I thought I would entertain you all with some of my engagement pictures that I received earlier this week from Indigo Photography.  My photographer Andy Chen is absolutely awesome. He took all of the pictures of me that on my blog and he's truly a talented, passionate photographer.  I  will warn you that if you don't like seeing mushy gushy, lovey dovey stuff, then you should just stop now.  

Saturday, March 17, 2012

NC 4 MIle Championships Recap

Goal #1:  22:40
Goal #2:  Top three
Goal #3:   Win Prize Money

3 miles warmup
4 Mile Race in 23:28 (5:38, 5:40, 6:04, 6:02), Results here, 4th place
0 Goals achieved
3 miles cool down

Definitely nothing exciting to report here.  I didn't achieve any goals from my rust buster appearance in Durham for the Equinoxalizer 4 Miler / NC Championships.  In fact, I was embarrassed by my lackluster performance and upset that I wasn't able to compete with the two young girls who were in 2nd and 3rd place.  I usually pride myself for my competitive nature, but I wasn't even able to find that today.  Maybe it's because I know I have a race tomorrow where I could win more prize money?

I went through the first mile right with Laura and Kerri, but after that split, I was unable to keep any contact with them.  Soon, they disappeared into the rolling hills of Durham.  By mile 2, I could barely see Kerri, and resolved to keep pushing forward.  Well, a very steep hill right after 2 miles prevented me from making any ground on her.  With no one in front of me, and no one behind me, it was just me against myself, fighting my own physical and mental misery.  My legs didn't want to lift and gravity wanted to pull me backwards down the hill instead of up.  I struggled through the uphills, managed the down hills, and just ran on the flats.  By the third mile, I lost any resolve to go any faster and finished in a disappointing 23:28...almost 50 seconds off my goal time.

I had the opportunity to cool down with Esther Erb from Zap Fitness and she had a disappointing first performance since the Trials as well last weekend. It made me feel better to know that other people have also struggled coming back from the Trials in their first race back.  All I can do now is put it aside and focus on the Tobacco Road Half Marathon and then the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Pre-Race Workout

3 mile tempo + 3x400m

3 mile warmup
3 mile tempo in 17:21 (5:51, 5:46, 5:40) + 4x400m in 79, 79, 80, 76
2 mile cool down for 9 miles total

Not much to report on this workout.  Billy joined Eric and I for this one, and it was the first time I had worked out with him in quite some time.  It was nice to push the pace with the two guys alongside me.  I was pleased with the effort of the tempo, considering that I didn't sleep well two nights ago and then also last night.  I can feel a sort throat coming on and there's a lot of mucus build up.  It didn't affect my breathing, but my body felt slightly achey throughout the effort.  I hope it's only sinuses and goes away before my big weekend of racing.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Week in Review

87 Miles
3 Doubles
18 Mile Long Run
2 Successful Workouts
1 Friend in Town

What a fantastic week on all levels!  Running, work, time with friends, and wedding planning all went perfectly, and I couldn't hope for a better week before my first race in months.  I had a great time working out with the always-reliable Stephen Spada and thoroughly enjoyed catching up with Jay and Lauren over beer (water for me) at Selwyn Pub.  I spent my free moments trying to finalize the last of my big wedding preparations--booking a florist--so now all I have to do is wait for their estimates to come in.

The week was definitely highlighted by Sunday's long run with our special guest, Jay Holder, and a slew of other runners.  Anna Donlan showed why she is one of the top female runners in Charlotte by two-stepping the group the entire time to keep the pace below 7:15.  After the run, I had the honor of having almost 10 hours of Jay's precious time as Lauren had an earlier flight that morning.  Jay and I enjoyed a walk in Dilworth, Dilworth Coffee, a tour of surburbia near the Promenade, and SNL/ACC Champ Game at Aaron's house before I had to drop him off at the airport.  The time spent with Jay further confirmed how much I miss him and how much we all really want him to move back to the Queen City.  It will happen one day, I'm sure.

Now that I'm back at home, I have clicked on practically every Craigslist posting about apartments, condos or houses available for rent in Dilworth or Uptown.  That's right, the next order of business is to find an apartment that has enough room for Garrett, Garrett's baseball stuff, and all my clothing.  It's exciting looking for new places to live, but scary at the same time!

In the next week, I'll enjoy my first week under 85 miles in almost five weeks!  I get to take a lower mileage week since I'll be racing on both Saturday and Sunday in Durham and Raleigh.  Running up and down the Morehead Hill to cheer on my fellow CRC'ers in the Corporate Cup Half Marathon further cemented my excitement to toe the line and compete!   Just 6 more days!

Friday, March 9, 2012

8x1000m Repeats

8x1000m with 2:00 jog rest

2.5 mile warmup to Dilworth Speed Loop
3:34 (2:03)
3:25 (1:57)
3:24 (1:56)
3:24 (2:30)
3:22 (2:00)
3:23 (2:02)
3:21 (2:02)
2.5 mile cool down for 11 total

This morning I woke up at 5:30am, expecting to hear the sounds of the wind howling and branches hitting the sides of my house, which is what the weather man predicted would happen. Instead, I just heard the normal whir of my fan and checked my phone for any texts. Eric, who was supposed to meet me at 6am, had texted me at 3:27am: "It's pouring and radar looks bad for entire run. Can we push to afternoon?" Wondering who in their right mind checks the radar at 3:27am, I wearily got out of bed, walked two steps to my back door, stuck my hand outside, felt no rain, and texted him back: "It's not raining now." In other words: I'm still going. (Side note: I found out later that Eric wakes up regularly in the middle of the night because his dogs wake him up…yet another reason why I have a cat right now).

In fact, everything about the weather seemed quite agreeable. There was little wind, the temperature was in the upper 50s, and there was no rain, lightning or thunder. As long as I didn't see any great flashes of light in the sky, then I had no excuse to not run, even if it had been pouring. After all, there's no guarantee that it won't be raining later in the afternoon. I continued getting ready and figured that since I hadn't received any texts from Spada, that he was already en route to the Dilworth Speed Loop. I ate half of a PB Bonk Breaker, wishing that it was actually their new flavor, Fig, before heading out.

I jogged slowly from my house to the RBC Bank on East Blvd, where Spada and I gave each a fist bump and added another loop of warmup for good measure. During those final minutes before we started, I truly had no idea how this workout would go. I wasn't feeling too amazing and I had done a 30 minute ab/glute circuit the night before with D Willis. I figured I could just take it easy on the first one and then push from there.

After the first one at a conversational clip--heck, we were going the same pace we had in 2 mile repeats the week prior--I decided it was time to pick up the pace. Through the first two, I took the lead. After the 3rd one, Spada woke up out of his early morning daze and took over leading responsibilities. He mentioned even that he was now doing "medium-speed" on 3/4 and was planning on doing "faster-speed" on the next 5/6. I told him I didn't know if I had another speed because, truly, I had no clue. My 4th interval in 3:24 felt strong--not all out, but not comfortable. I surprised myself by digging deeper on the 5th one. I also realized that Spada splits his workouts into thirds or quarters, depending on the workout. Today, for instance, he broke the workout into quarters, and approached each set differently in his mind. He determined to make the effort gradually harder with each set. This realization was good for me as it's exactly what I'm trying to do in, well, all of my runs and workouts.
We finished the day with the fastest splits posted in the last half of the workout. I was pleased, especially considering the air that was thick with humidity. Afterwards, Spada jumped into his car to make it back in time to get his kids to school (also known as "pulling a Spada"), while I slogged my way to Rebecca's porch for some much needed water, satsified with this morning's work.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

5 Mile Wave Tempo

5 mile wave workout alternating every 800m 2:50-2:55 and 3:05-3:10

2.5 miles warmup
5 Mile Wave Tempo in 29:44, Splits:
2:52 (on)
3:07 (off) 5:59
3:04 (5:57)
3:03 (5:55)
3:05 (5:59)
3:02 (5:54)
3 miles cool down for 10.5 miles total

pm:  4.3 miles for 14.8 miles total

Three weeks ago, I ran this exact same workout on the same course, but 9 seconds slower than I did today.  Granted, 9 seconds isn't too much of an improvement, but it's an improvement.  Most importantly, I completed this workout after hitting 86 miles the week before and also en route to hitting 85-90 miles again this week.  I also felt much stronger and less exhausted this time around.  The company was pretty much the same with Spada, and then Justin Breland in replacement for Eric.

In the early morning hours, and after an uncharacteristic cold front blew in, we toed the imaginary start line at the gate to Freedom Park.  I knew on the warmup over that I was going to feel good on this one. Mentally, I was in the right state to have the confidence and physically, my legs felt the best they had in at least three months.  I wanted to rock this workout by hitting my goal times on each segment.  Justin and I worked together for the first two hard ones, while Spada was a couple of steps back, which is rather unusual for him.  Don't get me wrong, Spada always makes me do the work on the first half of the workout, but normally he's tucked right behind my left shoulder.  After the second one, he even noted that his quads were really tight from the 400s we had done on Friday.  Oddly enough, he bolted ahead on the 4th hard wave portion, attempting scare tactics on Justin and me.  It definitely didn't work on me because I knew I would catch him again, which I did.  On the fifth and final hard one, he pulled ahead of me, but I maintained the distance he had gapped in the first five meters of the interval.

In the end, I realized it had been a almost 10 months since I had worked out with Justin and I remembered why I used to work out with him so much - he's just so darn fun to train with!  Justin has a sense of humor that mostly goes over my (strawberry) blond head, but when I do get his jokes, they always make me chuckle.  I'm hoping he keeps this streak alive so that Spada and I can continue to do speed work with him!

Even though none of my times are lightning bolt fast right now, I'm really getting my confidence back and am really excited to race in less than two weeks.  Time to put all this hard work to the test!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Week in Review

86 Miles
3 Doubles
2 Workouts
18 Mile Long Run
1 Wedding Website Published

A lot was accomplished this week, not only in running, but also with the wedding planning and my job.  I started my new job on Monday, and after a couple of days, I already knew that I was going to love it.  I'm now supporting the Online and Mobile Emerging Technology team to partner with a tech startup.  We've got a collaborative research agreement to pilot, prototype, and hopefully develop mobile apps for the Bank.  I'm really excited to expand my technical knowledge and also to grow in this new role.  I actually already screwed something up, but I hope I get one pass since I was only five days into the job.

On the running front, I've been successfully completing all of my workouts before 7AM, which helps me get to work by 8:30AM.  This week was definitely fun because I ran some of my favorite workouts, with some of my favorite people.  Spada has clearly turned into my consistent training partner, and adequate replacement for Jordan Kinley.  My long run today featured a group of 15-20 people, including guest appearances from Danielle and Chad Crockford, which is always exciting considering they don't usually get up that early.

On the wedding update, Garrett and I met with the priest who will be marrying us on December 29th, 2012.  I also finalized the content in our wedding website, so that guests can find all the information they need to know while planning for our wedding.  The only things that need to be added are the engagement pictures and the wedding gift registry.

Just two more weeks until my rust buster in Durham and Raleigh!!!  Getting excited to toe the line again and to hopefully win some prize money.