Saturday, March 31, 2007

Perception, Reality, and a Cookie

Another good weekend in the bank. On Saturday morning, mrp and I went down to the towpath for our last real long runs before Boston. The plan was to first run 3 x 2 miles at tempo and then finish the 16 miles at an easy pace. I started with a nice and slow 1.5 mile warm-up and then off I went down the path.

There are always a lot of folks on the towpath on any nice weekend morning. Most of those people are taking a nice walk or a slow jog. People act all astonished as I go by at anything faster than my normal long run pace. They have this look on their face, like "what the hell is this chick doing? She's going to hurt herself!" For example, right before the end of my first 2 mile rep I passed this group of middle-aged dudes obviously out for their long easy run of the week. As I passed, they just got out of my way and gave me that look. When I reached the mile marker and turned around for my recovery jog one of them said, "we knew you couldn't be doing any real distance going that fast, heh heh heh." I waved when I passed him on my second set and then again on my third--take that for thinking I'm a wussy girl! The funny thing is that mrp runs his easy long runs about this pace and nobody gives him a second look (unless, like me, they think he's cute--heh). I think I must make my pace look a lot faster than it really is. In the fall I did a goal paced run on this path at 7:50ish pace or so and everyone I passed made some comment about how fast I looked, etc. And then there was the guy in the fitness center who asked mrp if he saw that girl on the treadmill "booking" when in fact I was running 9:06 per mile with a raging chest cold. Maybe it's the wonky arm?

Anyway, enough with the self-analytical tangents, eh? So the rest of the run went swell. After the tempo bits I ran an easy pace--around 8:15-8:00, which felt downright slow--until the last mile where I picked it up to about goal pace for the last half mile. The run was a hard one for sure and I was a little slow walking around the rest of the day but definitely a good one!

Saturday night, after my usual chores I did one of my favorite things. I baked chocolate chip cookies. Yum! One thing I love about long run days--I can eat lots of 'em and not worry about becoming a heifer! Anyway, I love baking on Saturday nights while watching Cops. I know that's weird, but it's something I started doing this Winter and I just love it. Mrp goes and tinkers with his manly tooly stuff downstairs and I putz around baking and eating cookies and fantasizing about law enforcement. What could be better on a Saturday night?!

Sunday morning, we awoke to pouring rain. Ick. Luckily I run with a running group that meets ay 8:30 so I had something to motivate me to get out of bed and get the coffee on. After a cup o' joe, throwing some semi-clean running clothes on and taming my bedhead into a run-worthy ponytail I headed over to the park. There was only one of the people I run with there so we went on our way for our easy 5 miles or so. Unfortunately, even though I talked incessantly about mrp--actually, not just about mrp but my absolute adoration of mrp--I think this guy might have asked me out on a date? It was one of those kinds of invites where the invitor would love it if it became a date but it isn't explicitly a date so that if you call him on it and don't want it to be a date he can say, "Date? Heheheh. That wasn't going to be a date! How silly of you for thinking that!" I have to say that I find it frustrating that being nice and listening and giving advice to a guy that you have no interest in whatsoever and even when that guy knows you're taken and totally happy that way does not deter some men from trying to cross the line from casual running buddy to something I don't even want to entertain the thought of. It puts me in a bad spot and makes me feel like a meany. I'd like my running company with no strings attached, please. Luckily, I definitely won't be running with that group for at least 3 weeks and probably never now. Sigh. At least I have two really great female running friend prospects now.

Later that day, I headed out to try to figure out window treatments. Mrp and I (and probably our neighbors) need curtains for our house, bad. I am so domestically challenged. I don't understand this stuff. Luckily, while I was at the mall I found two fabulous clothing bargains. The first is the perfect classic Audrey Hepburne-esque black shirt dress and the second is a polished and pretty white full skirt that it are both unbelievably adoreable and perfect with my red round toe wedges! You thought you had my Spice Girl persona pegged, didn't you?! Surprise Surprise! I'm not just Sporty, I'm also Posh (minus the scary breast implants and weird Soccer dude husband) (Oh, and sometimes Baby--like when there's a bee flying around my room)! Unfortunately, there is no Interior Decorator Spice, so I need to get to work learning the difference between a roman shade and venetian blinds before mrp and I get arrested for indecent exposure.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

103x Awesomer

As for last night’s wild and windy workout, it went spectacularly well. Mrp and I went to my old high school to run on its track. It is in the perfect location in that it’s about half-way to our house from work. It’s also on the lakeshore, which is nice in that it’s pretty but not nice in that it’s always a bit windier there than it would be at a more inland location. But last night it was windy no matter where you went so an extra couple of mph tacked on a gust wasn’t going to make a difference.

Anyway, the first 800 went by in a perfect 3:10—right on the nose. I always feel gangly and stiff and out of rhythm on my first track workout rep. This was no different. Of all my reps this felt the most difficult. After my 3:10 second rest, I did the next 800 in seemingly the same effort in 3:06. Other than one 3:09 in there the rest were 3:06 – 3:04 with the last one in 3:01. I felt great. I was definitely tired by the last couple, but I really made myself conscious of the tired feeling and conscious of the way it felt to push through it. For each rep I assigned a 2.6 mile stretch of Boston. For the last two, it was the 5 mile home stretch and I really tried to picture and feel finishing tired but strong. My high was quickly diminished as mrp lapped me on the cool down though—heh! I didn’t feel like I was going THAT slow. I was definitely putzing, but man! That was harsh! Heh. In my defense, it took him 6 laps to do it, so that’s got to be worth something, right?

I expressed how pleased I was with the workout to mrp who was quick to scold me for running it too hard. Other than the last 800 I didn’t really push it that hard. And for the record, mrp said to make the last one count as I passed him on that one, so there! The wind did make it a bit tough to pace—I would come out of the windy backstretch maybe overcompensating a bit. This was my last real hard workout so I wanted to give it my best, and I feel like I did.

This morning mrp did put his warning in a broader context and really brought to light an important point, one stuck somewhere in a fold of my brain that I am grateful to him for prying out.

Mrp:

You have a nice day.

And be careful with your running. Do not run too fast. I know how fun it is when you can run easy and fast. The WOO HOO rush is awesome. But now is the most critical time to stick to the plan. There is very little you can do now to help your marathon time. There is more you can do to hurt your marathon time. Stick to the plan because the WOO HOO rush at Boston mile #25 in front of hundreds of thousands of cheering fans is an estimated 103x awesomer.


The Salty One:

Thank you for the sage advice, mrpy-san. I take it to heart.

There will be no woohoo today--just 6 9 minute ho hum miles and no worries. Tomorrow will also contain 6 maybe 8:40 ho hum miles and so will the next day after that. There is no more WOOHOO Cleveland awesome for this training cycle--all my WOOHOO awesome is being stored to be unleashed to the masses crowding Boyleston street. Every time I think of tapping into to a little WOOHOO before Boston, I will check myself and remember I'm saving it all up for that moment. Thanks for the reminder!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Ossay Can You Yasso

Today the taper madness was inverted. Mrp and I are headed to the track after work, so at lunch time I looked out my window and saw the sun and whined a little to myself that I had to wait to go out there. As a consolation prize I took myself to the fitness center and did a little stretching and ab and hip exercises. I would have given myself a hug too, but people might have thought I was weird.

It also was a bit comforting to remind myself that yesterday my run was so nice (spoiled only a tiny bit when I whacked my knee into the corner of a bench in the locker room, but we'll just ignore that big purple bump and pretend that never happened). It was basically a much more pleasant repeat of Monday’s run—just a nice easy 6 mile recovery along the shoreway, but this time with a breeze instead of the blow dryer. After 16 easy recovery miles over three days I am feeling ready for the mother of all track workouts. Actually, I’m sure many people do much tougher workouts than this one, but for me it’s a mother, since I haven't been to the track in over 2 months.

In case you're wondering, and even if you're not, I am doing those silly Yasso 800’s.* Some people claim they are worthless and a waste of a good workout. However, I think 10 800’s is a perfect workout for me right now. I need a longer harder workout right now to build confidence in both my speed and endurance. I need to get the legs turning over, especially when they’re tired. I need to be comfortable with a little huffing and puffing and maintaining my posture even while fatigued. This workout also is a balance to the slower marathon paced stuff I’ll be doing and will go nicely with the 5k I plan to run the weekend before the marathon, since 3:10 800’s equals the pace of my last two 5ks. 6:20 pace should make my 7:15 marathon pace feel pretty easy and slow. So I’m doing those 10 800’s.

The only thing is today is a bit on the windy side, again! UGH. That’s one thing I don’t like about Spring. Track workouts in the wind can be pretty annoying, although at least you get a break every 200 meters! I’ll bust out my old standby mental wind dealing withy trick of pretending the windy parts are hills. What else can I do? Gotta suck it up and deal with it. Like a wise sage once said, “Fun, fun in the wind!”

PS The title is my homage to GP. I couldn't quite stoop to calling it "Gettin' Jiggy with Yasso," sorry!

*Definition: Yasso 800’s is a workout developed by some coach dude. The workout is 10 x 800 with equal time rest intervals. The trick is to do them at the same time that you expect to complete your marathon. If I want to run a 3:10 marathon, I must be able to complete all 10 Yasso’s in 3:10 (that’s minutes and seconds, rather than hours and minutes—get it?). It’s a strange coincidence that the numbers workout that way, I guess.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Blowin' Around

So, I have one day of taper down and I am already feeling stir-crazy! How am I going to manage these next 20 days?! I ran during lunchtime yesterday. On our way home from work it was so nice out and I just wanted to go for a run, but I already ran. I felt kind of let down that I couldn’t get back out there to enjoy the gorgeousness. Plus, I’m feeling all kinds of excited and antsy! Nervous, yes, but more than that I can’t wait to get out there and DO IT! Woohoo!!

Yesterday was HOT and so so sunny and I took the opportunity to cruise on out along the shoreway during my lunch hour. There is a wind turbine next to the Science Center that I like to monitor to determine whether I want to run along the shoreway or turn around and get in the miles through the less windy flats. Sometimes the shoreway can be viciously windy and if it is, it is almost always so on my way back to work. If that’s the case, unless I looked at the turbine I wouldn’t know it was windy until I turned around. If I run a 6 miler, that means I’ll have wind in my face more than 2 miles. This can be rather unpleasant. Strong wind sucks when you’re small. It blows you around like a leaf. Sometimes it knocks one of my legs out from under me or moves me from side to side. When it’s windy like that I kind of wish I had the aerobic engine and strength of a man to drive through it. But I don’t so I let it whip me around and just try my hardest to a) stay upright and b) keep moving forward at least a teensh.

Yesterday, the wind turbine whirly gig thing was going nutso, but it was so warm and sunny and I wanted to avoid the hilly flats if possible to help my recovery from Sunday’s hills along to I pretended I didn’t see it and proceeded along the shoreway to the beacon that is Aviation High School, also known as my 6 mile route turn-around for those playing along at home. I ambled along slowly, oh so slowly on my slightly sore and tight right calf and slightly irritated left plantars fascia. As usual, things untightened within a couple of miles and I felt good, but very slow as I turned around. Uh oh! Man was it windy. It was hot too, so it felt very much like I was running into the mouth of a blow dryer. It wasn’t even a cooling wind. A nice hot slap in the face, it was! I know I’m being overdramatic, but I hate strong headwinds. They are the bain of my runner existence. I rather run in extreme cold, or pouring rain, or through thick mud, or up big hills. Just keep that wind to yourself, weather channel!

Anyway, I trudged along just counting down the seconds to the turn. Finally, after 20 minutes I made the turn out of the wind. It’s up a hill, but that thing ain’t nothing after getting tossed around for 2.25 miles. I’ll take it.

I got back to the fitness center to stretch and mrp showed up after his lunchtime run. We bitched about the wind together and decided that if Boston has a headwind like that we’re dropping out and heading to the first bar we see. We hear there’s a nice biker bar in Framingham.

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Cold is Gone and Now, a Bloom

Spring has sprung! I spotted crocuses (croci?) all abloom across the street on Saturday. And we have new birds feasting on our birdseed—finches arrived last week and brown-headed cowbirds this week. The cats are pretty excited about all the activity and so am I.

Yesterday was a perfect day. Mrp and I woke up about 5:15 to get ready to head down for a group long run near the towpath. My schedule had me doing 16 with 12 at goal marathon pace. The group run had options of 13 or 19. I was going to be good and do the 13 and add on a couple of miles to get the 16. But, peer pressure being what it is, I decided, “what the hey? I can just do 15 at goal pace instead and shuffle in to get back to the parking lot!” So, that’s what I did. Luckily our friend *F* came along. He is about my ability do he ran with me. The first mile was a bit of a warm-up in 8:00 and then the second we dropped it down into the 7:20’s. After that we maintained a consistent 7:15 effort I’d say. There were a couple of REALLY slow miles in there due to some REALLY long and absurdly steep hills. But, I focused on maintaining my effort level and recovering from the hills quickly. I was able to drop the pace back down to goal pace after the tougher miles just fine, so I’m happy.

Around the 7th mile, after the first water stop, *F* and I hooked up with a girl, *S*. She ran with us for the remainder of the paced portion. Normally, I don’t like to talk on hard runs because I sometimes get side-stitches, but this time the pace seemed easy enough that the three of us chatted the whole entire run. This makes me happy that this pace was easy enough for me to carry on conversations! That’s a good sign! Anyway, it was great to find yet another female running buddy in the area. It was great running with her, and *F* of course too! I had a blast. After 15 miles *S* continued on at a harder pace and *F* and I eased up and trotted in the remaining 4 miles at a comfortable 8:00 pace. I felt great!

After the run mrp and I headed over to our man, Bob’s for breakfast. Our favorite waitress, Norma, wasn’t there so that was a bit disappointing, but Bob’s is so great we can get over that. We can even get over mrp getting the ham he asked to leave out of his western omelet and I can get over having to wait FOREVER to delivered the much needed protein of my turkey and spinach omelet to my starving and microtorn muscles. Cause Bob’s is good!

We headed back home and then mrp hurried off to his parents’ house to help his dad do some work around the house and I hurriedly got some chores done and then headed off to my parents’ for a short visit. I still have tons of my crap in their house and they’re always very happy for me to take a box or two of it home with me. It was so beautiful outside and it was nice to sit outside and chit chat for a while. My mom seemed really good and healthy and it was fun to talk to her and my stepdad about stupid stuff. I miss them when I don’t see them regularly, but sometimes I don’t miss them too if you know what I mean. Heh.

After the visit, I came home and got in a quick shake-out run. My calves were really tight and the shake-out was needed to get the blood flowing and start the recovery process. Otherwise, I would have woken up with log legs this morning. I started off going about 90 minute hobbled miles, but I managed to loosen up and trot home quite comfortably. A little stretching and application of the stick and I’m feeling pretty darn good this morning!

Last week was 67 miles, preceded by 65, 63, and 63! I can’t believe how strong I feel after all that work! That being said, I’m looking very forward to starting my taper this week! It is well deserved—I’ve worked hard and now I’m ready to count down the last three weeks to Boston! Woo!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Harmony

I'm getting really excited about Boston. I really can't wait. I feel great, and scary numbers not withstanding, I think it's going to be an incredible time! I am determined to make it fun no matter what. If I went out too hard and my legs are shredded at 20, I'm having fun shuffling to the end! If my goal pace was too conservative and I come off the hills fresh, I'm having fun (and flying down to the finish!). I still have some anxieties: what if it's 90 degrees?! what if I get trampled by all those people at the start?! what if I'm not nearly as in shape as I think I am?! what if I pee my pants?! what if the hills are really steep and ouchy?! what if I eat something that makes me have to take a pit stop (or worse many pit stops) and then I have to wait to udse the portapotty?! what if I wuss out and dnf?! But these fears are either about things I really can't do anything about, or things very unlikely to happen (yes--peeing my pants is one of these things!), or things I have faced before in races or training that I have dealt with just fine in the past. Now's the time I need to reflect on my training and my experiences and get confident that I am tough and ready to run the Boston Marathon! Sure there will be moments of pain or doubts but they will pass quickly and be replaced with giddiness and confidence. I love racing--this is why I put in the hours doing long runs on -20 degree windchill days and suck it up and push through to finish crappy tempo runs in horrible wind and pick up the pace in the last two miles of a tune-up race while festering in phlegm. As mrp would say, I've done the work now's the time to reap the rewards!

In other news, last night I was supposed to do 10 miles with 6 reps of a .5ish mile hill. However, mrp and I got lost in conversation and didn't hit the road until after 7! I decided I only had time for 5 reps and this was fine since Boston has 4 biggish hills--so one rep for each of those and one extra for good measure! So, I had to modify things to get the workout in before dark. I ran a faster warm-up than usual--I'm guessing 8:00 pace--but instead of 2 miles I made it 1.75. When I was almost to the bottom I saw something on the trail and it turned out to be a snail with little attenae and a shell! I made sure not to step on it on any of my reps, don't worry!

Anyway, as soon as I reached the bottom I turned around and started the workout gunning up the hill. The goal for this workout, according to mrp, was to "suck wind." So, as I ran I kept evaluating whether I was sucking wind. I didn't really feel any wind sucking until the last 30 seconds or so of the first rep. I finished in 3:00 on the nose. I turned around immediately and ran comfortably, but faster than recovery effort, back down the hill. When I got to the bottom I immediately turned around and darted back up the hill. A storm was threatening and gusty wind kicked up. I felt like I pushed this one a little harder, but again, no wind was sucked until the top of the hill. This rep was 3:01. Again, I headed right back down the hill and again headed right back up it after I got down. This time I was determined to suck more wind! I pushed and pushed and definitely felt a little more wind sucking but it was all at the end again. I couldn't get any wind-sucking going on until the last seconds. This one was 2:57. During the 4th rep I felt a bit fatigued so I guess the lack of wind-sucking did not mean I wasn't running hard enough. The fourth hill was 3:01. On my way back down the hill after 4 it was really dusky and I looked up and saw a bat chasing a bug! "Hey there Mr. Bat, get that icky bug!" I thought. And then I heard a little rustling and I looked to my left and there were three squirrels chasing each other--one gray, one red, and one black! Awww, harmony in squirrel land! By number 5 I was tired but pushed and pushed, thinking about the last few miles of Boston, and came in at 2:58.

After the last one it took me a minute to catch my breath. Once caught, I ran another 1.75 miles and I tried to keep the pace up a bit more than my usual cool down just to make the run more workouty. In the end I did 5 .5ish mile hill reps and 8 miles total. I ran today at lunch and didn't feel like I ran hard at all yesterday. That means either I didn't run hard enough yesterday or I'm in good shape for Boston!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

9666

Guess what my number for Boston is. Is this a sign? Should I be worried? Will lightning strike me as I run? Or is it kind of cool? For some reason I get numbers for races with a double at the end--1288 for example or 1433. I like that. In one race recently I got 123. That was cool too. But 9666? There has to be someone with 6666 so I suppose that's worse right? Maybe I should find out who it is and ask if he or she would like to start a support group for people sacked with scary numbers. The spectators are going to shout "Go Devil Girl!" as I run by. Every time I feel crappy in the race I'll chalk it up to Satan having his way with me. Maybe I shouldn't have been too smart for religion and made my confirmation afterall.

I know I'm being ridiculous, but it's funny what power a little thing like a race number has. Anyway, I think I am going to replace all negative thoughts about my number with thoughts of orange julius.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Fly Like a Sea Gull

Take two was quite an improvement on take one. It was nice and sunny at the park by the lake, but again it was windy as all heck! Yikes, was it windy again. The sea gulls were even getting tossed around (and those things own the park I swear. We were driving to the parking space and I had to honk the horn for them to get out of the way. Who do they think they are, anyway?). Mrp says it was a little less windy than last time but it still made it super hard to pace the run. C'est la vie, I said. I was wearing shorts and that wind was brrrrrrr cold! So, I got out of the car and just started running. I did a two-lap warm-up and restarted my watch and I was off.

I currently use a watch I bought at Target last year for $12.99. I’ll spend hundreds on running shoes each year, but won’t spend $30 for a watch that records splits. Doesn’t make sense to me either, but that’s just how I operate. Anyway, with the big marathon looming large I decided it’s time I had a watch to record splits. I’ve used mrp’s and I really thought having that data helps. I ordered a fancy one last night, but for my workouts now I have to use the lime green cheap piece of crap so I am not sure what my splits were from the tempo run last night. I do know that I wanted to run the entire thing at 41:30 and I wound up running 41:45 so that’s much better than the 43:10 I ran last week! The split calculating is further complicated by the fact that the loop is only .92 miles long. I just run 6 loops plus ½ a mile and call it 6 miles, but I assess the splits at each loop, so I have to discount the total time. If I want to run the first in 7:10 pace, I have to run the loop in 6:40 pace. The second 2 loops are supposed to be 7:00 pace, which equates to a 6:24 loop time. The fourth, fifth, and sixth are supposed to be 6:50 pace which is a 6:17 loop and then the last half is supposed to be 3:20.

So, I came around the first loop in 6:30, well below pace. The second one, I came in just shy of 13 minutes so I was a little over pace. The third was about 19:30, again a little over pace. The fourth was pretty good—I dropped the pace like I was supposed to and rolled in around 25:50, then the next was just a tad slow in 32:10, and then the last full loop was right on at 38:35 and I fought for that baby! I then turned out of the wind and gunned it hoping to get down to 6:40 pace and hit the halfish mile point at 41:55, but I ended up gunning it down to 6:20 pace coming in at 41:45! Of course, the huge tail wind helped that, but we can just pretend that wasn’t the case, ok?

Unfortunately, with the wind it’s hard to assess the workout. I felt kind of crappy like I was having a hard time catching my breath at times, but I think that has a lot to do with the wind messing up my breathing. I also don’t know to what extent the wind slowed me down or sped me up. I think the overall net effect is to slow me down, but by how much? But pace isn’t the only thing to assess. I am happy that I didn’t fight the wind. I made it a point to relax through it and not push too hard exhausting myself just to save a few seconds. I pretended like each windy stretch was a hill in Boston. As I turned into the wind I reminded myself that it will pass and to just maintain an even pace. I think that part of the workout was very successful. So overall, I give myself a B+. Not spectacular, but well above average.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I Know I Have It in Here Somewhere

Tonight I am redoing last week's tempo run and I am nervous I won't hit my targets again. Sometimes I get nervous about a workout. I know that's weird, right? Race anxiety makes sense, but workout anxiety? Crazy Talk! I think part of it is that now that I've settled on a goal time I am second-guessing my ability to achieve that goal. If I'm not hitting my marks in my workouts, then that's a sign I won't hit my marks during the race! Oh no!! Of course, that's not necessarily true for a variety of reasons--I don't structure my running to peak for a workout and I do structure it to peak for the race and there might be things like not being fully recovered or horrible wind gusts and crowds of people that interfere with meeting goal times in a workout that won't be there in the race--but it still bugs me out a little when I don't meet my goals. I need a good workout tonight to build confidence. I need to hit (or at least come remotely close to) my 7:10, 7:00, 7:00, 6:50, 6:50, 6:40 mile splits. I can do it! I can do it! I can do it! Sing it with me now!

I do have a lot of things making me confident I can run a 3:10 in LESS THAN 4 WEEKS! I had a very good long run on Saturday. I ran with a new friend for the first 14 miles. It was nice to run with a she who is equally into training as me. It was so fun to compare training notes and war stories. I am looking forward to running with her again. Anyway, we ran on a snowy trail and clipped along averaging 8:34 pace for the 14. The footing was somewhat bad and we both agreed we were probably putting in around an 8:15 effort. The 14 miles just flew by and when new friend left I was feeling good. I picked up the pace a little, dropping it down to about 8:20 or so. I took a second gu around mile 17.5 and ran up one more mile before turning around. At this point I decided to push the pace. I was trying and trying to drop it down to goal MP but the footing in this stretch of the path was really bad. For the last four miles I managed to trip twice and pull out a 7:45, 7:45, 7:35, 7:25 to pull into the final mile marker in 30:30 for the last 4 miles. I jogged the .25 miles or so back to the parking lot logging 22.6 or so miles for the day. I know my effort was much faster than those mile splits indicate, but like I said above I need some quantitative hard evidence I am capable of my goal, dammit!! I am getting frustrated by having to adapt to winter and its messing with my head! Anyway, I know I worked hard because my shoulder was so sore later in the day!!! The wonky arm strikes again!! But seriously, my legs felt fine after the run. They were definitely tired and I was waddling around but they were not in the least bit ouchy!! Even on Sunday nothing hurt. I ran 8 miles pretty easily and hardly feeling like it was a recovery run.


The fact that I am able to recover so quickly from all that hard stuff in the beginning of last week and the long long run this week really gives me confidence. I am also actually excited to do a goal pace long run on Sunday and I know I can hit my splits. I am just having anxiety that all the rest of my workouts are going to be messed up by wind or crappy running surfaces or chest colds and I won't get that empirical evidence this numbers junky needs to have coucoucoucourage on race day!

Friday, March 16, 2007

National Holiday

Now if that's not the face (and wonky arm and festive green gloves) of a champion, I don't know what is! Props to anyone who can come up with a good caption for what that guy must be thinking. I can't think of anything funny but the look on his face seems goofy and someone must be able to think of something!

Anyway, now that the tune-up races are over and we're down to one month until Boston, it's that time again, party people. You guessed it! I'm at the point when I have to decide once and for all what pace I want to aim for in Boston. Choosing a goal time is a big decision in any young runner's life, and even in old runner's life like mine.

When I ran my first marathon last fall, I chose a goal time that was challenging, but definitely achievable based on my fitness level as evidenced by my tune-up races. My races indicated I could run a 3:20 but since it was my first marathon I thought I should handicap myself 5 minutes. So, I went for 3:25. It wasn't easy by any stretch, but I don't think it was the most difficult thing I've ever done or anything. I was still able to do math at mile 26! Surely, I could have pushed it harder! Of course, I could be wrong, but I do think I ran a conservative race and that if I had experience I could have gone quite a bit faster.

Fast forward to this training cycle. After Columbus, I picked a goal time of 3:18 for Boston because that would be a little faster than the 3:20 I think I was fit enough for in Columbus. I figured I could improve my fitness by 2 minutes in 6 months, right? Subsequently, I've seen my shorter race times plummet--often to my complete and utter surprise! In fact, the races I've run since Columbus indicate I can run anywhere from a 3:13 to a 3:08 (yikes!). Around Christmas, I was thinking a 3:12 might be doable. I asked mrp last night and he said he thinks I can hold a 7:10 pace, which would be a 3:07! Part of me thinks, of course I can do that! And part of me thinks, of course I can't do that! What to do? Do I go for broke aiming for the fastest possible time out of the gate or do I go for a slightly more conservative time, just for a healthy pr?



See, part of the (very relative) success I think I've enjoyed as a runner is that I really have little fear to go after what I believe I can do. I mean, what do I have to lose? But with a marathon, the stakes are higher. It's not like a 5k. If I screw up and go out way too fast in a 5k I can hang on for one mile and run another one next week and do better. With a marathon, if I go out too fast I could have to hang on for 6 or more miles and I can't try again in another one for about 6 months! Also, part of me is shocked and amazed that it's even possible for me to run a sub 3:10 marathon at all!



So, picking the right goal time and strategy for achieving that goal is critical and it's critical to do now! This is because I have to start honing in on the pace I want and I have to mentally prepare and go over my strategy again and again to best protect myself from doing something idiotic during the race. With all that in mind, right now I'm thinking I'm going to go with the 3:10 option. I'll aim to run 3:10 pace (7:15's) through mile 22 and from there I will intend to pick it up a little and get the end result as far under 3:10 as I can. I think this is still an ambitious goal, but not so ambitious that I am super at risk of blowing up. If I do fade, I should still be able to get a healthy pr. I'm going to sleep on it and weekend over it and then hopefully have it all figured out soon. If you have any thoughts on this plan, I'm all ears!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Jogger Frogger

There are people standing right outside of my office discussing baseball. How am I supposed to concentrate on my WORK while they bs about that crap. If you want to be unproductive, at least don't bother people who want to work! I'm sure I've been guilty of this in the past, but right now I am morally superior, so I have the right to complain. Heh.

So, last night mrp and I headed out after work to a lakefront park in the city to run. It was sunny and 73 degrees! Woo! But, it was WINDY. Oh, was it windy! It's always even windier at this park because it's a little peninsula that sticks out into the lake. Oh well, we figured it wouldn't be that bad. So, we pull in and it is just JAM-PACKED with city folks out enjoying the gorgeous weather. There were roller bladers and horny couples and little kids on bikes and kite flyers and pitt bulls (yeah, I know) and crazy homeless people. You name it and it was there! Of course, all these people were clustered on and around the running path. Back in January mrp and I went to this same park and it was PERFECT for tempo running. No one was there and the path is a .92 mile loop and made up of a nice solid paved surface. Well, what a difference a couple of months makes! Anyway, we would not be deterred! Well, actually we thought about it. We opened the windows of the car while we were changing and the wind just tore through it. Yikes! We thought about bagging it and heading to the metropark by our house. But, we were already there and it would be maybe less windy at our park, but windy nonetheless.

So we soldiered on through the throngs and the gusts. I stayed on the tried and true loop while mrp headed off through the areas neighborhoods. I did a twoish mile warm-up and then started my 6 looooooong miles of tempo. I was shooting for 6:50's. I started out ok, maybe a bit fast and I was doing good until I rounded the first corner. Wham! Right into a gust of wind. Whatever, I pushed on through a half mile of wind in my face and was so relieved to turn the corner and be out of it. I was still on pace, actually a little ahead at this point and I was happy. As I came around the final turn of the lap there was the first couple walking a pitbull and luckily it seemed docile and was on a short leash. I had to run out a bit though to make sure I gave it wide clearance. Those things freak me out and I don't want to take any chances. Then, just when I thought the pit bullage was over, I spotted another couple walking one. This one was UGLY and rambunctious and the couple weren't exactly being gentle with it. Oh my. I thought I gave the first one wide clearance. This time I ran WAY around on the grass even. The couple laughed at me, but in a nice way, and I was relieved el vicious doggo was behind me (hopefully still on his leash!)

Despite all that, I finished the first of my 6.5 loops and I was just a little under pace. I was already tired a bit, but I pushed on determined to keep pace. This time I rounded that first corner of the loop and the wind was worse. I didn't care I pushed through it and pushed and came to the half mile mark and was still slow. Ugh!! I was starting to feel bad about the workout, like it was pointless to keep going, but I did. I made it to the turn out of the wind. I continued on around pitbull bend and had to laugh when I spotted pit-bull walking couple #2 were sitting at a picnic table and had now put a muzzle on Fluffy. I made it to the end of the second loop and now I was a little slower than goal pace. I felt crappy, but I kept going. Again, the corner with the wind. Again it seemed worse than the time before. Again I wanted to quit and felt like a loser for being so far above pace now. I don't even remember anything funny about this lap. I finished the third lap now way above pace.
I rounded the first corner again, I made almost to the half-mile point of the loop which was just a little over the half-way point of the tempo run and I just couldn't keep battling the wind. I was so frustrated. I just stopped. I almost quit. I walked a few steps and then just turned around and started running the other direction around the loop. It wasn't any better, but the different perspective helped take my mind off of how crappy I felt. It also allowed me to rethink my approach since the windy part was now the same part of the loop that was by far the most crowded. I decided to chill out in the wind and the crowds. Why fight? Just maintain an even effort which is what you're supposed to do anyway. I still felt like crap but taking the pressure off myself and being all zen through the yuck parts allowed me actually kind of enjoy the rest. I even picked it up the last quarter mile or so and finished strong.

As I cooled down I was able to actually look around at all the little ones playing and the couples cooing and just was so happy to be there. I still felt like total shit and wanted to stop running, don't get me wrong, but I just felt at peace and appreciative of the little things like the rasta dude jogging in his funny hat and mrp stretching on the par course bench thingee and encouraging me to complete my cooldown even while I'm sure he was anxious to get home.

This morning my legs feel dead, just depleted of all energy. They don't hurt (for once) they are just ti ti. This is right where I want them to be at this point in my training cycle, so I'm happy. I don't know if I'll be saying that in an hour or so when I'm out for my recovery run today, but I certainly can say that now.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Making the Most

My amicus brief is finally done. Well, for the most part, anyway. I am waiting for final comments from the petitioner's lawyer and from my boss (boss's boss, whatever). So, to celebrate I caught up on one of my new favorite blogs http://irong2015.blogspot.com/. The author is new to running and she very smartly and humorously discusses her progress, anxiety, and accomplishments. So many running blogs are: This week I did ran X miles on Monday, 5 x Y on tuesday, Z at W pace on Thursday. Or worse they are just catalogues of how awesome they are. But there are at least a couple that I like that actually give insight into the hobby and talk about how it impacts their greater life and how their greater life impacts running. The other one I really like is http://fastchick.blogspot.com/ although Chelle hasn't updated in a while. She is way more experienced than me so it's fun and inspiring to read about her struggles and accomplishments too. As for my blog becoming a running only blog, it just isn't going to happen. Personally, running to me is not isolated from the rest of me. It's a part of the whole and I like to blog about the whole more than the parts. Plus, I'm lazy and unfocused and I have enough trouble committing to one blog!

But back to running. On Sunday I ran an appallingly slow 16.5 miles or so in shorts in the sunshine. It was only about 35 degrees when I started but it was lovely and springlike! I slogged for a while on lactic acid filled calves until they loosened up and I finished, tired but feeling pretty good. On the cite where I keep my running log now (http://www.running2win.com -- way better than the old corporate sponsored one I used to keep) I can see other people's logs. Sometimes its disconcerting that people run a race and the the next day run a hard 20 miles while I am poking along barely eeking in my bare minimum for a long run. And then the people that run 7:xx pace every single day and still run slower than me in races. What's up with that? It makes me feel inadequate sometimes.

But then there is a very elite runner whose log is there and she sometimes dips into the 8:xx's so she always makes me feel better. She also writes a lot about each run and admits to feeling fatigued or sore or deadlegged too sometimes. Her husband is not an elite runner yet coaches her. I think that's cute. Once she wrote that she has him make out her training schedule because she doesn't have the objectivity to coach herself. I'm thinking that if I do another training cycle after this one that I'll get a coach. Not that that will make me an elite runner--I know that! But it will save me from at least some of my obsessing and mrp harrassing and will give me more confidence that I am making the most out of all the time I spend training. I think I would really enjoy having a coach. As an extrovert (and having a Leo Moon), I like feedback (ok, adoration), you know.

Well, I started talking about work and I suppose I should end talking about it too. Mrp has been feeling very disgruntled about his job. He has big dreams of orchards and tractors and stuff yet he spends his days underappreciated and in a cubicle next to sleeping people who make more money than he does. I wish I could give him the orchard and plenty of money to get started. I too wish I could quit my job and coordinate apple picking excursions and dream up apple recipes for a living. Of course, I would do our orchard business's taxes and tax planning just to make that education I got was worth while.

Coming back to earth, I have to say being able to write that brief was awesome. In some ways it makes the weeks of sheer boredom and questioning my sanity for entering this profession worth it. Although, I always come back to wishing I was doing something more important. I sometimes wish I was dealing with real people and helping them solve their problems instead of dealing with suits and helping them solve the problems of a corporation. A corporation can't smile with gratitude, you know? I feel like I'm a happy person with a lot of useful experience and I'd like to share that for my living. I'd like to help others to be happy even if it's just helping them have fun for a few hours. At the same time, I'm learning a lot about stuff here too. I can make the most of it and mrp can make the most out of his job too, but is this the most for us?

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Over the Hills and Through the Flats to St. Malachi's We Go!

So that whole thing about not going out too fast. Oops, I rounded the corner and heard the mile mark caller outer yell 5:38, 5:39, 5:40 as I passed. YEAH RIGHT!!! I have never run a mile that fast in my entire life!!!!! It was definitely short, but quite flattering--heh. I went with it. I ended up running a pr by almost 50 seconds. I averaged 6:25/mile and I felt great. I eased up on the uphills and used the downhills and flats to recover and push and then when I rounded the final corner to my buddy hill I pushed and pushed and if it was flat I would have come in under 32 but it wasn't and I'll just have to be proud of myself for passing a couple guys and closing the gap between me and the 4th place woman coming in just 1 second behind her and 13 seconds behind 3rd place. 3rd place actually ran with me most of the race, but she surged ahead with about 3/4 of a mile to go and I didn't go with her knowing my buddy (the hill) was still waiting for me. Looking back, I should have and probably could have. Oh well. I haven't really spent much time even caring about actually racing other runners versus running a good time for myself. I suppose that will become something new to try next race.

I have to work on my brief today--I'm actually in the middle of working on it now but having a hard time focusing. I was so thrilled yesterday when the attorney for the petitioner (the party asking the Supreme Court to take their case) told me my brief was really good and added a lot of value to their petition. My boss (actually, boss's boss, but who's counting) also gave me his stamp of approval. I was so sweating it, worried it sucked, but it's good! Hoorah!


In other news I still heart mrp. He is so supportive and funny and tolerant of my shenanigans. Ok, I need to get back to work now.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Zen and the Art of Dodging Potholes

Soooooooo. Looks like Mercury is slowly starting to behave. Last night I found the check with just a few scoops into last weeks garbage. And yes, it was YUM just as I predicted yesterday! I also decided to run the race this weekend. I need to come downtown to work anyway on Saturday so I might as well start off the day running a really hard five miles on pot-holey roads and up a ridiculous amount of hills. Since I decided to run the race, I bagged todays scheduled long tempo workout and did a fastish easy run and checked out the beginning and ending hills of the race. The race will finish up a beauty of a hill. I ran up it twice today and feel like it is now my buddy. I will look forward to the lactic acid dump that it will give me on Saturday. I am actually less worried about that than I am about the messed up roads and weird bridges we have to run over. I'm all wussy and worried about twisting an ankle or something.

But yeah, I'm actually kind of excited about it. I thought it over and I honestly don't care that much about my time. I am more interested to run up the hills fatigued and to concentrate on not going out to fast on the downhill start (just like I'll have to do in Boston). I am just going to show up and run. Whatever happens happens. This is not an important race at all, so if it sucks--who cares?! If I ran 8:00/mile I wouldn't doubt my ability to meet my goal in Boston because everything else about my training and recent racing experience says I can meet my goal. If it sucks. It just sucks. It's one day in a long running career and one unimportant race of many. But hey, if I rock it, that's cool too!


Other than that I have to go because I still have to write loads.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Fast Backward

Mercury is in retrograde and it's the retrogradiest retrograde that ever retrograded. All kinds of misfires and miscommunications have been happening since Valentine's day. My trip was all weird and my race plans went awry and then I tried to find cute shoes and found nothing in the entire swank mall! On top of that I went to the running shoe store and they had every size except 9AA in the only shoes I can stand and then mrp went to buy his work shoes and they had every size except his 12.5 EEE or whatever it is he needs for his boats. Now, the worst thing is that I lost a check. It's a check from Mr. Important and I sure as hell don't want to go groveling to him for a new one because that, I'm sure, would provide him license to reassert his importance in this world and I frankly would rather gouge my own eyes out with a pencil than do that. So, luckily tonight's trash night so it's still got to be on our property somewhere! Unluckily, that probably means revisiting the weekend's garbage. Yum!

In other news, I still don't know if I'm running that race this weekend. I am also way in the tar pit of this amicus brief. Oh god, I have so much left to do on it so I better go and write like I've never written before. But, all that writing will probably be for nothing since Mercury doesn't get it's act together until Friday so sometime between now and then my computer will blow up taking my brief down with it. All I can do is pretend like I am ignorant to the universe and get to work just in case, on the off chance all that astrology stuff isn't for real.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Blogs Are for Not Shutting up about Running

To run the St Malachi race? That is the question. It feels nutty to run 3 races in 4 weeks. But, it's a fun race, it's hilly and I need practice racing hilly, and I would like to practice not going bonkers out of the gate in a race one more time before Boston. But the thought of racing just isn't getting me excited. I think part of it is my mild disappointment lingering from last week's half. I don't want another disappointment. That's silly talk, I know, but I can't help it. I suppose if I come to terms with my expectations and the performance I would have to give to not be disappointed it won't be so bad to race. Maybe I can settle for less than a pr? A pr would mean I'd have to run about 6:30 pace on all those hills and craggy road. Why am I fussing about these piddly hills when I'm running Boston in 6 weeks?! Ugh. Race anxiety. Seriously though, I think I can run 6:30's on those hills as long as I don't go out in 6:11 like I did in the last 5 miler I ran (oops!) Anyway, why does running take on this mythic importance in my life every now and then? I love it and all, but I have no pretense that I'm all that good at it. I'll never go beyond grabbing chili-bedecked trophies in the local races. That is the extent of the glory I can expect. But, I know I can run a little faster for those plastic and marble beauties and that knowledge seduces me into working harder and caring more than maybe I should? And Boston is in 6 weeks!!!! I suppose I don't have to decide right now. I can wait a couple of days and see if I get hipper to the idea of racing on Saturday.

Mrp said my blog is turning into a running blog. I suppose that's true. I need a forum to dump all the stuff about running so I don't talk about it more incessantly than I do. Plus, I'm happy now and I don't need to purge all my anxiety and stress like I did several months ago. THAT is a good thing.

Anyway, I'm working away on my amicus brief. It's going pretty well. I have the equivalent of my thesis hammered out and now I just have to fill out the argument from there. I wish I was a faster writer (and runner!). Luckily my writing is pretty polished so there usually isn't a horrendous amount of editing to be done. Yes, I see how silly it is that I'm complaining about being a slow writer while I write away on this time-wasting machine. So I will go now. Bye!



Friday, March 02, 2007

Wonky-armed Terrorist in a Crumb-covered Bunny Suit

Heh. It says "butt paste" over there on the wall next to me. And can I tell you how perplexed I am at my wonky arm? In every picture of me running my left arm is swinging across my body. I feel normal when I run, I swear! But I look like a freak (and short--don't I look short? and melon headed? Damn I have some chubby cheeks!) Oh, and that is the Superdome, y'all! Seriously, just a year and a half ago there were people overheated, undernourished, and stranded there. Sigh.

Anyway, I am fighting off some serious writer's block. I need to get this amicus brief written, yet I cannot seem to get started. It isn't even going to be long or anything, but I just can't seem to find my awesome lawyer voice. Sigh.

In other news, mrp and I got in a bit of a fight last night. As most of you know I am seriously slobby. I admit it. My slobitude is sometimes conscious, but mostly unconscious--it is just not wired in my brain to be neat, tidy, etc. I wish it was and I do try very hard, but I'm a mess when you get right down to it. Anyway, something you may or may not know about me is that I am very affectionate and likes me some cuddles. Sometimes I get carried away and cuddle mrp every five minutes. Aww, it's so cute you're drinking oj. *cuddle* Oh, how sweet it is you're getting dressed. *cuddle* Look at widdew mrpy-schmerpy put his shoes on. *cuddle* Eeeee. You're brushing your teeth. *cuddle* Mrp makes me very happy and schmoopy and that is generally good, but that in turns makes me a cuddle terrorizer. heh. Anyway, last night these two traits collided. I had a water glass next to the remote AND was eating cookies (and getting crumbs) on the couch--both things which mrp doesn't find ideal. I thought nothing of it, however. Mrp on the other hand noticed and was somewhat annoyed although since he is male he did not register the emotion and in turn did not communicate to me that anything was wrong (save for a "you're not going to eat those cookies on the couch are you?" "Um, yeah, but I'll vaccuum this weekend!" *eyeroll*). Later, he was all cute and looking at the rain out the window and *cuddle* and he said "can't I ever get any peace around here." I was taken a back. Mrp is NEVER mean. Sometimes he isn't into cuddling and says so, but he's never mean to me about it or anything else for that matter. Plus, the meanness seemed out of nowhere. I had no warning. I was feeling all warm and fuzzy and lovey and then all of a sudden I felt like a fool! A fool, I tell you!

Anyway, as it turned out he didn't mean to be mean, but his emotions got ahead of him, just like sometimes mine get ahead of me. But it did scare me and it did conjure up all kinds of bad memories of meanness pasts, that mrp of course has nothing to do with. It took me awhile for the pain to dissipate--like I said it was somewhat shocking that mrp even had a hint of mean and it dredged up old feelings and fears and insecurities. But mrp understood why it hurt and why he did it and how to avoid it in the future and I realized that sometimes my behavior flirts with the meanness line too. I guess in the end it's never bad to be reminded that meanness has no place in the orchard from either of us!

It's also never bad to be reminded that we have to be conscious of our differences and respect each other's differences. Mrp and I share a lot of very important things--like values and ideals and senses of humor and love of hot sauce and Slovenian last names that no one can pronounce right and blue/gray hazel eyes. But we are very different in some ways--the old tamale/cucumber dichotomy and you might also consider the turtle/hare pace differential as one of the biggees. These differences both provide balance but also something to cause tension as well. It will always be a challenge for us to maximize the balance and minimize the tension. It always starts with acceptance. I know that even when I feel like I need cuddles and love and attention or when the tortoise's pace is driving me nuts, I love mrp and I will accept that sometimes I need to comfort myself and sometimes I need to wait for him to catch up to me. I know life can change. I can't completely predict how I'll feel in five years, bla bla bla. But I'd bet the farm that I'll be messy, cuddly, struggling with impatience, and still madly in love with my mrp. Sigh.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Not as Lonely Feeling as I Sound

I wish I felt better on my trip. I did have a nice time with my sister, but it would have been nice to not have to go to sleep by 10 each night and to feel well enough to have more than one stinking rum punch during my whole visit. I didn't even feel up to taking the ferry over to the drydock. I know, I MUST have not been feeling well. I miss my sister and I wish she lived here. It would be nice to go shopping together and to meet on Saturday morning for breakfast and to watch stupid tv together regularly. There are very few people in my life that get me and who I feel really truly comfortable being me around and who I feel at home with, you know? I'm sure it has something to do with the lack of stability I had during my childhood or some shit like that but it is really hard for me to relax and feel comfortable and taken care of and safe around other people. I trust very few people to have my best interests in mind and who will protect me and not judge me. Unfortunately, the only one of these people that lives near me is mrp. Sometimes I feel this way about my mom, but not recently. I feel that my grandparents have my best interests in mind but they can be judgmental. Anyway, the point is that I feel this way about my sister too. She is a little scatterbrained (like someone around here we all know--and love!) but she will be there for me if I need her. She so kindly slept on the lumpy couch so I could have her bed when I was sick. And she put up with tired hungry uncomfortable me wandering the French Quarter looking for the perfect restaurant. And she let me whine about my race and listened to me with an open mind as I grilled her about her plans for her future. I wish she lived here but I understand that here doesn't offer her much. (She needs to go to NYC or LA! Go on, girl. Get on with it and make those dreams come true while you can!!! ) But she can visit! Hint.

In running news I ran with some people from work yesterday for part of my run. It's not noteworthy except for the fact that for some reason people think I'm this blazing fast runner and were afraid to run with me. I explained that I don't run fast most days--which is true! But no one believed me. I think people don't understand running very well. They think it's normal to run as hard as you possibly can every day. I kind of used to do that when I started running. I knew better to some extent. I would say I ran faster than I should have most days. Now, most days I run between 8:00-9:00/mile. It is also interesting that last Thursday in the throws of my illness I mustered a whopping 9:06 pace on the treadmill and was sweating like a pig. Mrp said her overheard the guy running next to me tell someone else that I was "blazing" or something. Hah! Maybe I have a knack for making slow running look a lot harder than it is! So back to yesterday, as I was running with these people they kept asking me how much slower I was going by running with them, when in fact, I was probably running a little faster than I normally would have if I was by myself. Maybe they just didn't want to run with me because I'm a dork in the school cafeteria and they don't want to be seen with me, I don't know. Anyway, as I crossed over the bridge to finish the run alone, I felt, well, kind of lonely.

Today was better. I wanted to run alone in the rain so I suited up in my shorts, rain jacket, and cap and headed outside. I made it one whole mile before saying screw it and returning back to the gym. It was 39 degrees and pouring rain and windy as all hell. This was the first time in my running career when I was worried about frostbite! My legs were fluorescent red and burning cold by the time I got back from the 2 miles. I sheepishly got on the treadmill and finished up with another 4 to make 6. I am scheduled for 10-12 today so I have to go back down and log another 4-6 on the woodway before calling it a day. It will be my first real double, not counting the 4 mile shakeouts I did after my long runs over the summer. I am feeling really good and recovered from Sunday and I'm actually looking forward to a few more miles tonight before heading home for my mrpy cuddles! (Is that TMI? Sorry!)