Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Off the Bench

I gritted my teeth and white-knuckled my way to another day off on Saturday. It was annoying, but I did it. Instead of running, I planted flowers and helped mrp put the posts in for our garden-protecting deer fence. This fence is serious. It’s 7 feet tall! Mrp worked himself silly getting that thing in this weekend.

I decided to run by feel on Sunday. My schedule called for 11 miles. Theoretically, I can’t really get into the idea of going 0 0 11 for a three day stretch. I like the concept of easing into things. However, I felt really good. I didn’t push the pace beyond my long run pace. I just trotted along for an hour and half. It was especially good considering is was the day after two off days and the fact that it was 10:30 AM sunny and muggy as all get-out. I was certainly a little stiff. But not too bad. The thought of picking up the pace for the last couple of miles or so was out of the question. It made me wonder how some people take the days completely off of running before a big race. That wouldn’t work for me. My legs would be tree trunks. Of course, I could feel my tibialis posterior (can I call it TP? I hate writing that anatomical hoity-toity stuff). It wasn’t sore. It wasn’t even tight. It was just present.

On Monday, I ran an easy 5.5 in the morning. It was warm out and sunny and just gorgeous. I ran up my street, along the river and then made a turn to run through beautiful richy-mcrichville with the old beautiful farmhouse/mansions and lush deciduous forest. It gets pretty hilly through there. I made one big climb and turned around and headed back home. I came home and blitzed my inside chores. Then I took a futile shopping trip. I have to travel a lot for work these next couple of weeks and I wanted to pick up some easy to travel clothes. I also have to go to a bachelorette party this weekend and I was maybe looking to find something a little more fun that the stuff I normally wear. However, I can’t really get down with what the young people wear these days. Also, I can’t stand paying full price for something I don’t absolutely love and I can’t stand buying something on sale I don’t love just because it’s on sale. Therefore I didn’t buy anything.

After I got home, I helped mrp put the actual fence up around the posts. It gave me a new respect for mrp. I know mrp works hard a lot. But, this was really taxing. The fence itself was so heavy and awkward to handle. He worked like this for three whole days and I just did it for a few hours. He’s awesome. I need to work on my upper body strength! When we finally finished I had to go do my evening run. It’s just about exactly 1.75 miles to the end of my street. So I don’t wear a watch for these runs. I just throw my shoes on and trot to the end of the street, turn around, and trot on home. It’s quite nice, really. I was a bit tired last night on the run, but that makes sense. It also makes sense that mrp and I slept like babies.

This morning I woke up at 5:08 to get ready for my first hard workout post-TP blow-up. I was to do 5 x 1000’s in 4:02 (6:28 pace) with 1 minute rest in between. This should be easy since it’s slower than my expected 10k pace. However, I can’t say that. I went up to the local metropark and started out on the bike path. This path is nice, but it has a lot of turns in spots and some rolling little hills that can make workouts tricky. I decided to run out to a lesser used part along a main road. I figured it would be flatter and less twisty-turny. It was, but only slightly. Oh well. As usual, it took me a while to warm-up. My first warm-up mile was 9:04! This wouldn’t be alarming if I felt like I was running 9:04 pace. It freaks me out on these early morning runs that I feel like I’m running 8:00 pace and I’m really running 9:00+ pace!

Anyway, my legs were already kind of heavy on the warm-up. I started the intervals. Per usual, I felt awkward on the first one, but I eased into it and ended up with a 3:59. The second one was the same. The third one was a little slow in 4:04. During the third one, I was looking straight ahead and because I was now familiar with the route, I could see exactly how far I needed to go. This bothered me and made the 1k feel like it took forever. So, on the fourth one I decided spontaneously to turn down another path. I thought it was an offshoot of the bike path, but it turned out to be a road. Not just any road, but a road to the duck pond. When I figured this out I still had 600 meters to go. So, I just ran around the duck pond. All the adoreable ducklings and their mamas ran out of my way as I came careening around the bends. I felt so silly, but I ran another 3:59. Since, I only had a minute rest I had to start the last 1k by the pond. I didn’t want to disturb the waterfowl any more so I turned to get out of there. However, the only way out included a bunch of twists and turns. With my TP still on the watch list I wasn’t completely confident about making tight turns at high speeds. This caused my last rep to be 4:11! Yikes! I know I ran it mostly on pace, I just had to slow down for the turns, so whatever. I definitely didn’t feel that slow. All in all, it was a pretty good workout all things considered.

I’m still keeping my eye on the TP, but I think me and TP are ready to come off the bench and get back to business!

Friday, May 25, 2007

A Muscular Misunderstanding?

Just when you thought she was down for the count, she's baaaack! Ok, well, I'm not quite all back, but I feel 900 million times better today than I did last night. I even feel better than I did yesterday before last night's unfortunate calamitous trip through the woods. I can bear my full weight on my left leg. I can flatten my foot out without pulling. I can make circles with my foot. I just have a bit of tightness way down deep in the middle of the calf. I am going to my ART guy in a couple of hours for a massage and ultrasound. I suspect I will know better if I'll be running tomorrow or not. That wouldn't be too bad. I would only have missed 2.5 easy miles from last night, a 50 minute fartlek this morning, and another 3.5 easy miles tonight. I'd be down about 12 or so miles for the week. Not too bad. Better than being out forever like I was sure was the case last night!!

You should have seen me. I came home from the park with tears streaming down my face. Mrp was in the back yard playing in the garden. He was intently measuring. I yelled across the field, "I'm done!" He yelled back, "that's nice." "But I only ran 1 mile!" I yelled back. He yelled back, "good." I limp-stomped away. I went inside and cried and pouted. Mrp waved at me in the kitchen from the garden. I opened the slider and he looked at me this time. "Why are you crying?" he said walking toward me. "I I I I tripped and hurt my calf worse. I only ran 1 mile and limped on the road back to my car." "Oh, I thought you said you ran your miles. I am so sorry." He came up on the deck and I explained the break down and then the hmmphing to the car and then the run in with my friend's dad and the roller blader too. He said, "once I crawled back from a run." I didn't believe him. I made him tell me the story. He made something up. It made me feel better. Then he said, "I understand how you feel, runner to runner. Male to female, I don't get you. But runner to runner I understand." I sniffed and laughed. He said, "you feel like your body betrayed you. You want it to do something and it refuses to do it." It's true. I did. I also felt like I betrayed my body by making moronic decisions like wearing those flats and running on the bumpy trails while overly tired and with a tender calf. I just felt--ugh.

Mrp made me feel better. But all through the evening I'd get down about it. I pictured the weekend with no miles. Tears would well up. I e-mailed my coach. Told him the bad news. I strapped an icebag to my lower leg. I pouted some more. I decided it was ok. I would take one day off and one day at a time. I'd call my ART guy. Just be patient. Or keep pouting, whatever.

I went to bed resigned to my fate. I placed a pillow under my leg to elevate it just a bit. I woke up in the morning and it was very tight. Oh well. I gingerly stretched it. Took a shower. It hurt a bit when I put all my weight on it to shave my right leg. I modified my technique. I got out of the shower. Limped around. The muscle untightened a bit. Felt better. I got my stuff together. Putzed around, had breakfast, chatted with mrp, putzed some more. Finally decided to leave. Got in my car. Felt a little tightness in the calf as I clutched. Got to my parking space. I locked up the car and started on my mile treck to my office. I noticed I wasn't so limpy. Hmmm. Ok. As I walked I felt better and better. I noticed I felt better than the day before walking to my office. Ok. Then I was at work and doing dumb stuff that will bore you to tears. Then I had to meet *P* for lunch. Per usual I was running late. I grabbed my purse and headed out. I got a few blocks and remembered, "hey I thougt I was injured." Seriously, I hardly felt it! Had a really nice and fun lunch. Walked back and again, could hardly feel it. Now as I type I only feel the tiniest bit of tightness deep in the calf. Maybe the muscle relaxed? I don't know what happened, but I'll take it!

PS It turns out I have a minor strain of my tibialis posterior muscle. My ART guy made fun of me because I keep hurting obscure leg muscles. Anyway, it's a very deep small muscle of the calf. It hurts so much because it swells and bumps up against my shin bone and pulls on my plantars fascia aggravated my PF. He performed all the treatments: electrostim, ultrasound, massage, ART. It is a little sore from all the poking at it but he said I can start running anytime. I just have the lay off the intensity. I asked him if there was any benefit for taking a day off and he was shocked! Heh. He said, of course that definitely wouldn't hurt you. He said if I am nice to it I should be back to normal in a week. I might actually not run today (Saturday) and wait until tomorrow to get back at it. What's the rush?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

One Star Day

Well. Bad news. I was running my evening run on my tight calf and tripped on a rock. OUCH! I pulled it something nice. It hurt very bad and I said some very bad words and said screw it and decided to limp the mile back to my car. At first I stayed on the trails so fewer people would see me, but then it hurt too much and I cut through to the road since it would be quicker. Of course as I hobbled down the road and muttered profanities under my breath I ran into my old high school cross country teammate's dad. It was actually nice to see him because he follows the local race results and is always excited about whatever recent race I've run. As I was standing there talking to him a roller blader went by and wiped out. Guess it's just one of those one star days.

Anyway, I'm not yet sure yet how long I'll be on the DL. I'm not running tomorrow. It might be fine, but there's no reason not to give it at least a day off right now. It might be annoying but this kind of annoying stuff just comes with the territory. Luckily, I have mrp to cry to about it and he can tell me funny stories of his breakdowns to make me feel better.

It really is kind of weird. I was just commenting on several others' blogs about overdoing it after races, injuries, and the like. I'm going to start writing comments about sub-three hour marathons and winning the lottery from now on.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Half Calf

Note to self: next time, run a little in those racing flats before wearing them in a half-marathon. My poor little left calf muscle is not so happy. It's cheering up, but boy was it tight after the race. After just running 7 easy miles in them, I wore my new racing flats on Sunday which are very low to the ground. My poor lower leg had to stretch more than it's used to every time my heel hit the ground. It's really the only hold out. The rest of me feels pretty good. I was a little worried that after the half I might be broken because maybe I'm still not fully recovered from Boston. I will say I feel a little more beat up after this half than ones I've run in the past, but not too bad. It's mostly due to the shoes--well, my bright idea to wear the shoes, anyway.

Since Sunday, I ran an easy 5 miles--ok, painfully slow and limpy 5 miles --on Monday. I was under strict orders to take a day off on Tuesday. That was my first day off in a month and I can't say I was complaining, especially since my calf probably wouldn't have let me run anyway! This morning, I ran another super easy 5 miles. My calf was super tight at first, but by the end it was better. It feels a lot better now. We'll see how it's doing in a little while when I go for my short and easy PM run.

In other news, I am hanging in this cloud of YEAH! since the race. Really. I am so happy about it. I think it's because I had two big disappointments this Spring that it makes a great race feel extra extra special.

It also has me thinking that maybe full marathons aren't for me. All that prep, all the hassle, all the recovery time and if the race goes bad--YUCK! But if it goes well, it really is pretty awesome. Yeah, I'll probably give it another go.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Hip Hip Hooray: A Tale of Many Races!

So, yesterday was fantastic! I woke up at 5:00 and had some toast and coffee. The race started at 7:00, so mrp and I were out the door at 5:45. I was a nervous wreck. I got stressed out at work on Thursday, then Friday was the excitement of my birthday and by Sunday I was still amped up. I was slightly flustered that we couldn’t find a parking space where we wanted to park, but then we found a better spot with a porta-potty right across the street!! The porta-potty was admittedly gross, but a very small line. And hey, all porta-potties are gross!

I did a short warm-up with mrp and then lined up. I made the mistake of joining the starting area near the back. “Pardon me.” “Excuse me.” “Sorry.” “Oops.” “Thank you.” After about two minutes of this I saw the 4:30 pacer and realized I better get a little more aggressive! So I made my way to the side and hustled my way to the front where I found my friend *P* It was nice to see a familiar face and it helped me de-jitter before the start and to have someone else working toward the same goal.

Before I knew it we were off. I had strict orders not to take it out too hard. I wanted to take it out hard but comfortably. I had the idea this would put me in the 6:50-7:00 range for the first couple of miles. I was right around 6:50 give or take a second for both. The course is somewhat difficult. These first few miles roll a bit as we meander from downtown Cleveland down to an entrance to a free way and the up the onramp and over a bridge. Mile 3 was a bit slow and two women passed me. (One went on to run a 1:27 half and the other came in second place for the full marathon). My 3-mile elapsed time was about 20:35 (just about right on the 6:52 pace I needed to eek in under 1:30). I picked it up for mile 4 and my split says 6:22 (it had to be short or I screwed up the split—it might have been fast, but not that fast!) At mile 4 *P* caught up and I was happy to see her! But then we passed a water stop and I stopped and she didn’t or she stopped and I didn’t and I didn’t see her until the finish. Every time someone crept up on my shoulder I thought it was her. At about 4.5 miles I heard someone right next to me I turned my head and it was mrp!

I was wondering if I had missed him cheering at the side of the course because I hadn’t seen him. What a nice surprise! And perfect timing. I was getting hot with my hat on, so I gave it to him. He sweetly accepted and saved my hat for me! It’s funny. I never said one word to him and he only talked to me once the entire time. We’ll get to that. He quietly ran next to me letting me dictate the pace. He didn’t do any work for me, but he kept me company, which meant so much!!

Anyway, I missed the 5-mile split, but at 6 I recorded 40:52 and at 10k I was 42:19 which is a 6:49 pace (that’s my official 10k split). Doing perfect so far! Mile 7 was 6:49. At the 7-mile mark we got back on the freeway after a short jaunt through a neighborhood. I decided ahead of time to take a gu at mile 7. So, I took the gu. Unfortunately, I took the gu right after the mile 7 mile marker and there’s no water station in sight. It must be just over the hill I thought. Made it over the hill. No water station in sight. Ok, it must be around the corner at mile 8. We get to mile 8 in 6:43. No water. Hmmm. I was burpy and feeling maybe a faint hint of a stitch but I had faith it would all be all right. I let it go, knowing water would have to come soon. Mile 9 is almost entirely up a gradual incline. I now know why I felt so crappy at this point in the race last year! Finally we turned a corner and I could see the water station up ahead—literally up. I had to keep climbing to get there but my need for water actually helped take my mind of the hillage. I thankfully grabbed a cup and kept on my way, happy the crisis was averted. My 9 mile split was 7:00 . I made up my mind that I would not sweat slow splits, especially for things like hills and what not. I just plugged along.

During the 10th mile, mrp spoke! He said “you’re doing really well. You’re breathing is good and your feet are light.” I was feeling good too! There was that faint stitch and it worried me because I got a stitch just after the 10 mile marker last year. But I felt so much better than last year and I was running a really even and smart race. I pushed it out of my mind and forgot about it. I focused on my light feet and the fact that at this point I KNEW I was breaking 1:30. I just knew it. I felt too good for things to go bad. Anyway, mile 10 was still slow. I had to recover from the hilly 9th mile and there are some tight turns in mile 10. That was fine with me. My mile 10 split was 6:57. My elapsed time at 10 miles, 1:08:25 was right on pace for sub-30 (but cutting it close!)

Mile 11 starts with an uphill as we go over a mile-long bridge. Mile 11 was back on pace at 6:49. I had the idea all along that once over the hill it’s time to pick it up. After the bridge goes up, there is a long gradual downhill for about ½ a mile. I took advantage of it. I didn’t feel like I picked it up this much, but mile 12 went by in 6:35. After mile 12 we split off from the full marathoners. I made the left hand turn. Suddenly there was nobody. Just me and mrp and then two other women in front of me. One was about a block and a half ahead and one seemed possibly in striking distance but still pretty far ahead of me. I focused on her. For a few seconds it seemed like I was gaining on her. And then it seemed like I wasn’t. This stretch seemed to go on forever. Towards the end I knew I could overtake her. We had to finally make the left turn to the finish. As I turned I knew I had her. I also saw the finish. I just dug deep, ignored my now throbbing calf, and just booked it past her. As I passed she let out a breathy “Good job!” I might have said “you too” but I might have just thought it. Anyway, the finish seemed so far still. I couldn’t quite make out the clock. In my mind I was close to my goal. I needed to pick it up to make sure I made it. I felt so crappy at this point but I pushed and pushed. Finally I could see the clock and I couldn’t believe it. I think from the moment I saw it to the time I finally crossed the matt it took that long for it to dawn on me that not only did I break 1:30 I broke 1:29 and came in with a 1:28:38! YEAH!

I high-fived mrp. I was so elated. What a great race. I stayed on pace and then cranked the last couple of miles. I ended up averaging 6:45 pace, running the last 5k in about 20:16 if my splits are accurate! (My 5k PR is only 30 seconds faster!) Not only that, but I ran 10 minutes and 10 seconds faster than last year and moved up 20 places--from 27th to 7th!

Then I remembered *P*. I turned around and waited just a few seconds before she flew through the finish with a big PR. She just missed her sub-1:30 goal by mere seconds, but she’s an absolutely incredible runner, improving tremendous amounts in such a short time. She will get it very very soon!

After we made it through the finish and said goodbye to *P*, mrp and I decided to head out to watch the marathon finish. My calf hurt pretty bad so I figured a cooldown run might be counterproductive so we decided to walk the course backwards until we started seeing finishers. We made it to a spot where we could see the mile 24 marker and just before the mile 25 marker. We watched the leaders storm up the final hill and then come around to 1.5 miles before the finish. We were an island of cheerleaders. There was nobody out there for them, save for mrp, me and another lady waiting for her friends. Most runners appreciated our attention—some were probably just wanted us to shut the hell up and let them finish in peace. Heh.

Anyway, after the 3:10’ers we decided to continue down the course to see if we saw anyone else we knew running. At about 23.5 I saw daisyduc looking good and well on her way to her eventual BQ. In another minute or so we saw our friend *F*, the friend we went to Boston with. He was running in a guy we work with, *K*. Poor *K* was cramping very badly. He was on pace for a 3:30 until 22 and just tied up (this is the icky kind of thing that happens when you run a marathon before your legs are ready!) Mrp and I decided to join in and help him finish. *K* could only run about 30 seconds at a time because of the cramping, but could limp along walking ok. When he ran, we ran. When he walked, we walked. We did this until the last half mile. At that point the marathon course turns to the finish. We tried to get *K* to put the pain aside and just run it out. He tried. He just couldn’t. We got to ¼ mile to go. He winced and limped and hobbled and shuffled. He made it to the finish running with a time of 3:55. Not a terrible finish time at all, but I know those last 4.2 miles were sheer hell for him. Just after he finished I spotted my friend *S*. I was very happy to see her. I knew she was running the full and I missed her while she was running! Luckily she forgave me. She was kind of bummed. She "only" ran a 3:17! Like me, she was out for a sub-3:10. She went out in 1:34 but just couldn't hang on. She too will reach her goal very soon! She's also amazing--she's a semi-pro soccer player who just started running last August!!

After all that it was time to go find something to eat and go home and take a nap! We had enough excitement for the day (although still not as much as some of the 10k runners!)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Nice Surprises

I am tired and need to go to bed soon. I wore myself out running a nice fat 1:28:38 half marathon this morning! Woohoo! I am so pleased with the race this morning. It couldn't have gone easier, except it would have been nice if mile 7 or 8 had a water stop considering I took a gu at the mile 7 mile marker. I had to cross my fingers for almost 2 miles that my stomach wouldn't rebel with the gu rock sitting in it with no water to wash it down! Luckily, I didn't sweat it or really anything else during the race and it paid off with a really satisfying performance. Hopefully, I'll have time to write more about it tomorrow.

In other news, I had a wonderful birthday. After going to the bar at the Ritz, mrp surprised me and took me out to a fancy shmancy sushi restaurant. I love love love sushi, but it's never enough food for mrp so we never get it. We ate tons (and drank a bit--I had these wonderful kumquat/lime drinks--mmmmm). Mrp was so thoughtful. Sigh. Oh, and my mother got me a kitchenaide mixer for my cookie baking! Definitely a great 32!

Ok. Time to get to bed!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Signs Point to...

So, did I tell you I'm running a half-marathon on Sunday? Can you explain why I thought that was a good idea? No? Ok, fine, I'll do it myself. Because it will be fun! I actually kind of think so. Part of me is all "UGH that is going to be 90 minutes of ouch and I am so not ready to race again and the longest I've run in 5 weeks is 9 stinking miles." And the rest of me is all "it will be fun to see what kind of shape I'm in and to run around my city and half-marathons only really hurt the last couple of miles anyway if they're paced right." Yeah, I love the idea that races are sort of this magic eightball that reveals whether your in the shape you think you're in. Races will tell you: if your training is right for you; if you're overtrained; if your undertrained; if your smoking crack thinking you can run that particular time; or if you're way underestimating your sheer awesomeness. They can also just say, "yo, you're having a bad day" too.

But seriously, do I really care how it goes? Well, the answer is yes and no. I do want to break 1:30 for a half very badly. I KNOW I was in shape to do it at the end of February but that stupid cold/flu/tuberculosis or whatever I had just prevented that from happening. I suspect I'm in shape to do it now. I worked my booty off these last few months getting in shape for Boston. Surely if I was in shape to run a 3:10 marathon a month ago, I'm in shape to run a sub 1:30 half now. Plus, my legs actually feel alive now, which has to be worth something. At the same time, I don't really feel like this is the be all end all kind of race. I know if it doesn't go well that I'll have a good race again one of these days. If I have a bad couple of races this Spring, what's the big deal? I can't force it anyway. So, I'll just keep plugging along, working hard and being patient and that good race will come just like that cream always rises to the top.

Oh, and in the interest of self-promotion I should let you know tomorrow is the day I have to change my little profile blurb because it will no longer be accurate. It's the day I turn...gulp...32!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A History Lesson

Mrp reminded me this morning that I've officially been back in Cleveland for a year (well, technically 364 days, but close enough). I was in NYC for just about 9 months, but man was it difficult. Mostly it was hard being so far from mrp. I can't tell you how much I missed him. That's actually the origin of my cookie baking. I'd stay in my apartment on Friday night while my roommate was out on the town and bake cookies for mrp. Just spending time doing something for him made it feel almost like I was spending time with him. It's pretty much the same now. I love baking cookies.

It's funny. My New York period was almost like an incubation. I went away for a few months and came back a better person. This is true on many fronts, but it's especially true with running. New York is where I got my comeuppance for being an overzealous newbie and where I wised up and started to smartly train.

I started running the first Monday after I took the bar exam: August 1, 2004 to be exact. I was so disciplined. Starting then, I went out there 5 days a week. For the first week I walked 2 minutes, ran 1 minute for 30 minutes. For the second week, I walked 1 minute and ran 1 minutes. And so on and so forth and by about mid-October I was able to run a whole 30 minutes at about 10 minutes/mile! I remember one run at the end of October of that year, and I pushed the last mile of my 30 minute run so hard. I huffed and I puffed and I'm sure my wonky arm was going crazy and I pushed and came flying into the mile marker at...drumroll...8:50!

In November, I started running a little longer once or twice a week. I'd run a 5 miler here or there. By December I was up to 7 or so once a week and I think I ran 9 miles once--it took me about an hour and a half. All through this time I consistently ran at least 3 miles 5 days a week. By February I was up to about 27 miles per week! I was slowly improving. I ran a 5k race in 24 minutes (just a hair under 8 minute pace). I remember I still had the tail end of a flu and I ran the first mile in 8:30 and then picked it up and really redlined the last mile at around 7:30 or so. I was hurting!

In March I started to push the pace on my treadmill runs. I would usually finish below 8:00 pace for the last few minutes (or at least that's what the treadmill said--it probably was miscalibrated). I remember I'd have a heck of a time cooling myself off and getting my face to unflush as I tried to get dressed and back to my office! In April I decided to add another day of running. I was running about 6 miles each day now. If I ran on the treadmill I often would start the run at 8:00 pace now and end at about 7:40 or so. Sometimes, I'd drop it down to 7:20 for the last half. I'd end my runs feeling all bad-assed for running a 10k PR on a daily treadmill training run--how awesome was I?! I remember my legs started to get sore more often and I'd get this pinchy feeling in my butt but I ignored it since I could keep on going.

I switched to outdoor running once the weather warmed up. I think this saved me from getting injured since I didn't know my actual pace I'm sure I slowed it down. Plus, I ran at the park on the soft trails for each of my 6 running days a week. By the end of summer I was up to about 42 miles per week or so. I don't know how fast I was running them. I'd guess in the lower 8:00 range. Somedays faster, somedays slower.

This is when I went to New York--the end of August. Mrp stayed with me for the first few days. After he left I had tons of time on my hands. Classes had just started and I didn't have a whole lot to do. All my friends had jobs and lives. I might as well run, I figured. So of course, I added another day of running to my schedule and I also started doing a long run and going to a track twice a week. Do you see where this is going? I remember getting up on a Sunday and just starting hard and running 12 miles and wondering why I'd get stitchy and feel like crap the last couple of miles. Duh! (Of course I blamed it on being dehydrated and just knew I'd solve the problem by drinking on the run. Didn't help!) Then even after that I'd go to the track a couple of days later and pound out 6 800's as fast as I could. Then a couple of days later I'd go up there and run 2 miles as fast as I could. Yes, within about 6 weeks of this I was toast. Down for the count with severe Piriformisitis and IT Banditis (I made these terms up--they mean ouchy piriformis--a butt muscle--and ouchy IT Band).

I remember being devastated! How could this happen to me?! WHY me!!! I took myself to the gym and would elliptical for 90 minutes because I was petrified of losing the fitness I had gained. Mrp tried to reason with me. I thought I was above all that ease into things, be patient stuff. But somewhere between elliptical sessions it started to make sense. Instead of going gang-busters right back into training the next week when my legs felt better, I decided to ease back and be smart. Of course, Rome wasn't built in a day. But instead of 8 hard miles through Chinatown, I'd run 3 hard miles on the nice flat and soft resevoir path (I remember those runs fondly, because this wonderful little old guy who was out there rain or shine wearing a medal would say enthusiatically, "looking good today!" in his thickly accented English everytime I saw him there).

I took it easy and by the time I came home for Christmas my legs were much better. While home, I talked to mrp about training for a Spring marathon. He strongly urged me to wait on a marathon. Afterall, I had only been running a little over a year, I was just recovering from an injury, and finishing school. "FINE," I'm sure I hmmphed. I'll do a half. He offered to help me but I had to listen to him. I was actually excited about this, until he told me I had to run most of my runs at 9:00 pace. "GOD! That is SOOOOOO slow!" But, I didn't want to be injured again, I trusted mrp more than anybody, and I wanted to improve. So I listened and I did.

Monday, May 14, 2007

No Sweat (At Least Not Yet)

Well, as soon as I accepted the low miles and trusted the plan, I found out that I was actually supposed to be doing doubles 2 x a week! Darn, I could have run 6-8 more miles these last couple of weeks and I didn't even know it! My coach wasn't really explicit and I haven't quite figured out his shorthand so we had a little miscommunication. Oh well, my legs are probably happy about it. I get to do 3 days of doubles this week, anyway. I like evening runs so I am looking very forward to it. I'm not quite sure how I will get everything I need to get done each day done, but I'll figure it out.

I am a little worried that my low low mileage won't support a solid half-marathon effort on Sunday. I suppose I have built a solid enough base to do just fine. Plus, I'm not sure I care so much how it goes. Don't get me wrong, I have a very concrete goal. I don't know why, but I am (uncharacteristically) just sort of whatever happens happens about the whole thing. Maybe it's a post-Boston big race hubbub hangover.

In other news I finally submitted the brief I wrote to the US Supreme Court this morning. I am so proud of that and feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to work on that and get paid for it! Sometimes my job is painfully boring and sometimes it's rad. Unfortunately, I now have to travel a whole heckuva lot the next few weeks. Waaa. Speaking of work...

PS I just realized I'm down about 10-12 miles for each week! UGH! Now I am worried I don't have enough miles to support a good half this week. Or maybe I'm better recovered. Or maybe I'll die at mile 10. We'll see in a few days, I guess.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Pass the Toothpicks

I am so sleepy. I feel like Tom when he puts the toothpicks in his eyes to hold the lids up, but they’re so heavy they snap in two.

Adjusting to a morning running schedule is not as easy as I hoped it would be. The first day was great. I felt well-rested and bright-eyed and I had a wonderful morning run. Day 2 was alright. Not the best, but ok. I just ran a 4+ miler around my neighborhood. I left my hairbrush in my office, so I had to smooth out my long hair with my fingers. It was kind of one of those slightly annoying, not necessarily bad kind of days.

By day 3, today, I was just dragging my poor ti ti butt out of bed. I had to wait for the snooze on the alarm clock because I didn’t even hear the coffee maker finish. Then I went to the park for my 4 mile tempo. I had mrp’s garmin for the occasion to track the distance and my pace. If it’s any indication how I felt, the first mile of my warm-up was 10:06! YIKES! The second was a sprint at 9:04. Sometimes, having a garmin is too much information. I would have been so blissfully ignorant believing I had run 8:30’s. I hope it’s the morning lead-body and the hilly semi-rugged trail loop I was running on. Oh well.

Anyway, the tempo portion was actually just dandy. There was actually very little if any wind! It was already a little steamy out at 5:50 AM, making me have the first dripping wet ponytail of the season by the time I was done (except for when I was in New Orleans a couple of months ago). I did a better job with pace, although the last one was still a bit too fast: 3:39, 3:34 (7:13), 3:28, 3:36 (7:04), 3:34, 3:34 (7:08), 3:24, 3:27(6:51). I kind of don’t like this slow tempo thing. I am used to tempo pace being closer to half-marathon pace. Seeing as I have a half marathon in my very near future, I’d like to get to know that pace as much as possible before the big day. That’s alright—I trust the plan, remember?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

50 Minute Fartlek

*LOUD ANNOYING ALARM CLOCK MUSIC* It's 5:00 (eek!) and I fumble my way to the coffee maker. I press start (I set it all up the night before) and then fumble back to the bed. 5 not-enough-minutes later I hear it make it's final gurggley gasp signaling the end of its coffee-making process. I fumble back out of bed, let the cats out of their basement nighttime confines, and over to the now-quiet coffee-maker and pour myself a cup. I plop down on one of our hand-me-down yellow vinyl kitchen chairs (on wheels!) and click the remote to watch the morning news. About halfway through my cup of coffee mrp arrives in the kitchen all sleepy-eyed and bed-headed. He makes his way to the cookie bars as I wait with baited breath for the weather forecast.

With my head full of 5 days worth of highs and lows, I find my running clothes and suit up. White long sleeve. Check. Pink sports bra. Check. Lime green running shorts. Check. Goofy black running socks. Check. Green Mizuno Elixers. Check. Hair in a ponytail. Check. Forgetting anything. No. Ok. Oh, wait. Nerdy digital running watch. Check.

5:45, time to go. Pulled the brown-bagged lunches out of the fridge and peeled two bananas away from the bunch. One for mrp. One for me. Grab my gym bag all stuffed with work clothes for a change. Grab mrp and we're off for the 2 minute drive to the park.

The Jetta pulls into the park and the sun is rising right along. We lace up our shoes and mrp goes his way and I go mine. I am intelligent and follow the lady with the dog off its leash. The dog, obviously sensing my intelligence, jumps all over me sniffling and snotting all the way. I stand there dismayed at my choice in routes. Happy drooly dog realizes quickly I am no fun and scampers off after its rule-breaking mistress , while I scamper off in the other direction, lest my heart rate endanger my life.

Within minutes doofus dog encounter is a memory and I am awash in woodsy happiness. Up this hill, down that one. Look out for that stick. Ooo, that fallen tree is a fun obstacle on the course. Hello, Owl friend! 17 minutes makes a good warm-up. One minute makes a good 5k pace pick-up. Flying through the trees and over the dirt trails for 60 seconds of bliss. Then 2 minutes, relaxing soaking up the quiet and the possibility to see more deer eating tall grass in the meadows or leaping through the forest. Repeat 6 times.

Time to slow it back down for good now. Soak it all up before heading back to boring mctuesdayville. That way's almost two miles. Turn right. Looping around for a while and now there's civilization. Still need 4 minutes in the woods--phew, not done just yet! Keep going. Take the long way back. Darn. 17 minutes makes a good cool down too. Time's up.

Friday, May 04, 2007

There's Nothing Better than the Best

After overstaying my welcome in negative doubtersville, post-Boston, I think I'm finally coming out of the trees and seeing the running forest. I am now satisfied, having done the best I could with what I had to work with, and I've learned a few valuable lessons to boot.

The first lesson I learned is that I need to trust myself and my training. I now know this because in my preparation for Boston, I really didn't have a training plan. I kind of ad hocced it all the way to the end. I knew I needed to balance long runs, marathon pace, tempo runs, and intervals, but I made up each week as I went a long more or less. I think this caused me to have less faith in my plan than I should have had.

Something else I've learned is that I can't take running too seriously. Sometime before Boston, I started doing just that, betting all my chips on achieving this or that time goal, forgetting the big picture. I think my disappointment in New Orleans, caused me to overcompensate in Boston, believing that I needed to try harder to make myself succeed. In fact, I needed to try less hard to force success and trust myself and my training that I and it would deliver success--success being running my best race, not running a precise time. If I put the stock in doing my best, then I am not so disappointed by not meeting a precise time because of things I cannot control.

Finally the most important lesson of all. It took me a while to meander here, but here it is: I can't do better than my best. In Boston, the fact is that I did the best I could do given what I had to work with. I have to trust when the time is right and the variables in place that my true fastest time will reveal itself. I now know why I keep thinking about one of my law professors when I'm reflecting on Boston. I remember going into his office and fretting about what if I were to have a bad day and tank an exam. He looked at me and smiling, he tilted his head back with a chuckle and told me, "Cream rises to the top, Salty." If I put in the work, the time, the discipline and patience, eventually the race results will reflect it.

And you know what? I ran a personal best 3:18 in Boston and it was just my second marathon. I admit it. I'm a little (ok, you got me--a lot) proud of that.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

But Officer

Well, I'll have you know that the new improved patient Salty* had a wonderful tempo run today! I felt as light and airy as Ralph Macchio standing on a stump balancing on one leg.

I was instructed to run a 3 mile slow tempo (around 1 minute slower than current 5k fitness--for me, about 7:15). And I'm sure you've figured out what the weather was like. As with every single tempo run I've ever done in my life, it was windy as heck out there! However, it wasn't too too horrible since I started into the wind. After my 2 miles easy, I was off pushing through that thick lakefront wind. I felt comfortable despite it and hit the first mile in 7:19. After that I started taking .5 mile splits. The next half was 3:36. Then I turned around and now ran with the wind. The next half was 3:26 incuding the turnaround. I felt like I was putting in the same effort and I felt comfortable so I just rolled with it. The next mile I ran perfectly even 3:20 splits and rolled in with a 6:40. It really freaks me out how easy this felt. Of course it wasn't easy easy, but it didn't feel particularly hard--I never had a negative feeling or felt lactic build-up or huffed and puffed. I just plugged along and felt great! I even briefly thought, "hmmmm, maybe I can run 6:40's for a half in a couple of weeks..."

Even though this was a harder run, and Tuesday was a harder run I want to clarify that I'm running really easy 3-4 milers on the other days (9:00-8:30 pace for the most part)--that's it. I'm running about half the mileage I was running a few weeks before Boston. I also want to clarify that I probably ran this tempo run harder than I should have even if it felt comfortable and I ran a even effort. Even with a 25 mph tailwind, I doubt I could run a 17:35 5k right now! I'll get back to you in a couple of days and let you know if I get busted for speeding.

In other news, I still have every intention to write about the positive side of Boston. I finally feel like I'm done moping about it and I do think it's important for me to get that side of the experience on virtual paper, too. The thoughts are swirling around in my brain and they'll probably be clamoring to be let out very soon. Just not quite yet.

*I must note here that I never in my wildest imagination imagined myself with an alter-ego let alone refer to that alter-ego in the third person! Blogging sure does strange things to a girl.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Patience, Salty-san

Coaches are so smart. I was all, "this schedule is too easy for me!" a couple of days ago. But yesterday, after my first hardish run since Boston I have to say, maybe not! My schedule called for a 45 minute fartlek. I was supposed to run easy for 15 minutes and then do 10 x 30 seconds at 5k pace, with each rep followed by 60 seconds of easy running. Then I was to run 15 minutes easy to cool down. My legs were sort of like "hell no" when I started the first pick-up, but by 3 or 4 I was fine. But I was zapped by the end of the hard 15 minutes. Sure, it might have been the almost 80 degree heat plus the black cap I was wearing out in the open sun (duh!), but man was that workout harder than I imagined it would be. I heretofore promise not to complain that my coach isn't giving me enough miles! Coach knows best. Salty knows not much!

Ok, so I guess the morale of the story is patience. And really, patience ain't so bad. Why rush? I have 6 months before the next marathon. I'll be in over my head in no time! I can be super-Salty later when I'm not risking breaking myself. Now's the time to remember why I run to begin with. Who doesn't need a little deprivation of something wonderful to keep the love for it alive. It's time to rest, recharge, and let all those miles soak into my legs. I'll be back to my peak and beyond soon enough (and less ouchy to boot!) And plus now I have more time to hang out with mrp *sigh*