Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Viva Las Vegas?

Wedding planning really shouldn't be this hard. I mean, seriously. Why is it so complicated? Vegas sounds more and more appealing all the time. Last night, after mrp and I spent a couple of hours discussing what we want out of our wedding I got a phone call. It was our officiant, who also happens to be mrp's family member who I have come to adore over the last several weeks. Anyway, apparently he has a conflict on our date that he can't resolve so he asked us to move the date. This was the ONE thing that was settled. ARGH! I can't get no peace! Well, actually, the place of the ceremony is settled and the identity of our officiant is settled. The rest is so far up in the air. It drives me crazy!!

What also drives me crazy is that I can't get any solid improvement on my 5k time. It annoys me. I ran another 5k on Sunday. I was feeling quite a bit better than I was last week when I ran a 5k. The cold was all gone and I rested up very well on Saturday. The sun was more intense on Sunday, but the temps were a few degrees cooler than the previous week. I really thought that this was going to be the race that I get that 5k down where it should be. My warm-up was good. I felt a little tired still, but that's nothing unusual. I did a few 30 second strides. I lined up behind (unfortunately) three female members of the area's elite* running team, the GD's. I figured I was fighting for fourth place. I didn't care. My goal was to run a solid 5k and to really not take it out too fast.

The horn sounded and off we went. To my surprise I was holding back and running right behind one of the GD's who in recent races has beat me handily. I just cruised along right behind her for a while. Around 3/4 of a mile into it I got closer and she saw me and took off. She was about 5 seconds or so in front of me by the 1 mile mark. Unfortunately, my split was 5:54. Oops. I did not feel nearly as bad as I did the week before. Cool! Actually, there was some downhill action in this mile too, so it really wasn't all that too fast. And, as always the mile marker could be off.

So, as the next mile progressed my goal was to not drop the pace off too much. I just plugged along and as we made a turn I noticed I was inching closer to the third place GD. Hmmm. I just kept my pace and as we headed to a turn around I passed her. I don't think she liked this. I could hear her breathing down my neck. She was right behind me at the 2 mile mark. Our split was 12:12 (hey, not bad! 6:18 for mile 2--if I could pick it up just a few seconds for the third mile I'd be under 19! Woo!) She passed me as we went around a corner and then I could hear her breathing louder. I took the opportunity and surged ahead. We turned another corner and there loomed a hill. I could still hear her behind me. I figured she would think she'd get me on the hill, which meant she was going to gun it up the hill, which meant she was going to feel like poo when she got to the top of the hill, which meant I'd get her back there. That's exactly how it panned out. I maintained effort up the hill, which meant I slowed down. She gunned it up the hill. I reached the top feeling fine and took off blowing past her. I got some distance on her here, but after she recovered from the hill she came back on me. I could hear her very close. I tried to up the pace, but I don't have any real sprinting power to tap into--one of the side-effects of marathon training over 5k training. If she had a kick in her I knew I was toast or else going to hurt myself trying to outkick her. I just tried my best to power to the finish. We were really battling and it seemed like we picked up the pace for mile 3. I was excited to see the clock. We made the final turn and as we headed to the clock I was shocked. 19:25, 19:26, 19:27...as we got closer I could hear her louder and louder. I pushed my slow marathon trained body, but as the clock ticked to 19:34 she passed me into the shoot. We both finished in 19:34, but she was third place and I was fourth.

I was less disappointed about that than the prospect that I slowed down to 6:40 pace for the third mile! Not possible, even with the hill. I talked to third place for a while after and she was surprised too. We think the course was either long or those first two miles were short somewhere--probably the first, if anything--and then the last mile was long. At a minimum, that last mile was long. There's no way that both of us were running over 6:30 pace and feeling like we were running 6:1x pace. With the hill I'll add 5 seconds, but that's it. So, I think the course was either 20-30 seconds long, or those first 2 miles were 20-30 seconds short.

But just like wedding planning and the lack of certainty there, this is just the nature of little local races. They're almost never precisely measured or precisely timed (for the record, I finished right behing my ART guy's brother last week and they credited him with a 19:28 and me with a 19:30--annoying!) Just like I can't count on one date I can't count on one mile marker. And when it's all said and done, is it really that annoying. I got what I wanted out of the race--a good workout. I also got a nice prize--a gift certificate to a fancy salon. However, it was for a pedicure! No one will touch these pups! Seriously, these toenails are beyond help. So, I will just have to see if I can get some other service instead. Heh! And similarly, I can get all my wedding players--mrp, our parents, our officiant, our ceremony locale, our reception locale, honeymoon, etc etc etc...ad infinitum...ad nauseum--on the same page and when that's all said and done we'll have what we want out of it and look back and be happy. None of it is really worth stressing out about, now is it?

I guess, I just am happiest when I know what I'm dealing with. I want to be able to trust that 1 mile split to know how the race is going and what I need to do to get where I want to be. I want to be able to trust the caterers and the officiants that the wedding they say they are going to deliver gets delivered. Sometimes they deliver and sometimes they don't. Since the 5k was probably screwed up, the chances that the wedding goes off as planned should be pretty good now, huh?! We can only hope!!!

*Elite in terms of local running, anyway.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Star Jones Ain't Got Nothing on Me!

I have a confession, dear readers. I can't keep it a secret anymore. Mrp and I are busy planning a wedding. Can you believe it? Mrp hasn't even proposed, yet here I am freaking out about planning a wedding reception to be held in just 4 months! How is that? Well, my long time readers know mrp marches to the beat of his own drum. I adore this about him and I wouldn't change him for the world. But he does things in his own time. The perfect moment to propose has not occurred, but he knows he's ready to marry me in a few months. Really, it just takes him a lot longer to plunk down loads of cash than to make a lifetime commitment to the one he loves. He's a smart shopper and he needs to make sure he gets the right ring. He has the right girl, we all know that! Heh.

This is another reason why I have been BUSY (with a capital B, U, S, and Y!) It takes a lot of mental effort to plan the best wedding you can for as little money as you can. I hate that all these places want to know what my budget it. My budget is for us to get what we want and pay as little for it as possible! We want an inexpensive, but not cheap wedding, you know.

I want a wonderful fabulous celebration of all things mrp and salty. Of course! But, it's not my pretty pretty perfect princess day where I'm willing to drop loads of cash to get what ever I want on MY DAY. (I use the phrase "my day" as if accompanied by a breath of fire and and surrounded by skyscrapers in Tokyo.) I don't want to be the center of attention. I want our happiness to be the center of attention. I want mrp and I to share it with all the others that we love. I want to kick off many decades of wedded bliss in fine form. I want to boogy all night with my mrp and my aunties and my sisters and mrp's niece and nephew and just kick back with mrp and basque in the wonderfulness of it all. The details are not so important. I want to feed my guests something nice but I really don't care if we impress them with our impeccable taste, since we don't even have impeccable taste! Anyway, I guess beyond my cheapness I'm getting to my other point--We're not working hard to plan one day--we're planning the beginning of our life! Yeah!

Can you tell I'm excited?

Friday, June 22, 2007

Ted? Is That You?

Something that has always bothered me is that us women have these cyclic hormonal fluctuations that change the way we behave throughout any given month. We (I anyway) get emotional, moody, nesty, tired, irritable etc depending on the time of the month. But for women, it’s cyclical—you can count on it and it’s part of nature. But to me, there has to be some equivalent in men. Men must have hormonal fluctuations and what not and because there is some order in nature there has to be some system to it like a woman’s cycle, no?

I was reading an article the other day about men’s hormonal changes that occur when they are embarking on parenthood. The basic gist is that when men know they are going to be a father and are around their pregnant partner, their hormones change. Testosterone levels drop a bit. This is important to male parenting because, as the article says: High levels of testosterone … are associated with "incompatible non-nurturing behavior.," … If dads roared along on their usual levels of the hormone, … they'd be too busy fighting other men and seducing other women to do much diaper-changing.

Heh. This is funny. It all made sense last night on my run. For the most part I am a modest person. I’m not into over-exposure. Many runners, male and female, feel perfectly comfortable running shirtless (women, hopefully still have a sports bra on!) I can’t say I do. Sometimes, though, it’s too darn hot and sticky for a shirt and in the interest of getting through a workout I’ll bag the shirt (I definitely have a sports bra on!) Usually, if I do this, I’m running in the woods and not many people see me. Maybe this explains why this is the first time I’ve experienced this.

Last night I did my tempo run. I used the same 2-mile stretch of road as last week. The park tends to be crowded on weeknights when the weather’s nice. Tonight was no exception. Anyway, I did my one mile warm-up and felt uncomfortably warm. I decided that it was time to bag the shirt. I hung it on a rail near the start of my tempo course. I started the workout. The first repeat went great. Often my first mile is slow as I get up to speed. This time, that wasn’t the case. My goal, as always is 7:03. My first set was 6:59, 6:58. Since it was warm, I went for the water fountain. I just finished my first three sips when I felt somebody’s presence behind me, a little too close for comfort. Before I could see who it was or move away to let that person have a turn, he said in a creepy voice, “don’t drink to much. You might get a cramp.” “Ok.” I said in an irritated voice. This might sound innocuous, but I was there and my creepo-meter was headed off the charts. Really. Trust me. Anyway, I was so annoyed. One, I know how much I should or shouldn’t drink and who the heck do you think you are that you know better for me. And two, CREEPY!!!! So you know what I did? I drank more! Heh. Then I turned and jogged until the end of my 2 minute rest and then began the second set.

I really was so annoyed, I cannot begin to explain. Of course, I felt all over-exposed, but darn it if I was going to be uncomfortable just because of some creep doesn’t know how to handle his testosterone. Then I was even more annoyed as I made my way to the ½ mile point a car full of teenaged boys drove by and whooped at me. Poor teenaged boys. They are all passive aggressive in handling their testosterone. They REALLY don’t know how to handle it yet. Heh. On top of that, what should have been the easiest mile was pretty hard because it was so darn windy last night. The wind actually felt good because it cooled me off. But what’s interesting is that I think the headwind here made the miles all equally challenging. With no change in effort that I could tell I ran 6:59 and 6:59 for this stretch.

I have to say, all throughout this time there were plenty of men I passed that were not creepy. They did not whoop or gape or gawk or anything like that. Anyway, back I went for my third set. This one was uneventful. Strangely, it was very consistent again. 6:59, 6:59. This is good!

I went to the water fountain and this time, thankfully, was not harassed by any creepo. I turned and headed back into the wind. I was feeling much better and cruising right along. I was just about at the first mile of this set when a truck drove by me from behind. The driver stuck his head out (while still driving, mind you) and turned his head, looked at me with a creepy smile and said, “You. Are. Gorgeous.” And then continued to drive ahead. WTF?! I’ll admit, there is a small part of me that is flattered that some random dude in a truck would risk life and limb to declare his assessment of my attractiveness. But it’s small. The rest of me is fearing for my life. I suppose serial killers aren’t going to announce their presence. The serial killer would be one of the many men to pass that I didn’t take notice of. But. BUT, the fact that these guys said and did these things makes me wonder about those silent guys who handle the testosterone in really unhealthy ways! Yikes! Must I wear a shirt and be uncomfortable? Will this happen every time I do a tempo run in the summer. Are these guys harmless? Is there a Ted Bundy among the many anonymous park goers? Should I invest in a burka? These thoughts all raced through my head as I hustled to the end of my workout, if for no other reason than to get my shirt! 6:48, 6:45.

Anyway, getting back to my original thought. See, just like women can’t help the moodiness and whatnot that comes with their hormonal changes, men can’t help but be apes with their hormonal changes. You know, PMS isn’t so bad!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Una Carrera Larga, Una Tortuga, Y Un Martes

So tired. Just so tired. I am so excited about not having anything major planned for this weekend. I am going to sleep in so late on Saturday! Woohoo!

My running schedule mixed with everything else is kicking my butt. To accomodate racing and travel and air guitar sessions I've had to really do some weird things with running--like doing my long run on Tuesday night after work. Man, I did not feel like running for almost 2 hours when I left work. It was stormy and gloomy all day and my back ached and my hips were uncomfortably tight all day at work. And I already felt worn down and tired. Also, the thought of running in the park post huge storm was not so appealing--the humidity, the bugs, the trail slop, the fallen tree obstacles. But I'll have you know that once I warmed up I really enjoyed the run. It was ungodly humid. Luckily, it wasn't too hot. I made sure to hit a couple of water fountains a long the way and that surely helped.

I started from my usual parking lot and ran a wide flat loop of the bridle path before heading down a steep hill to our local burn-out's paradise known as Squire's Castle. I then continued on the bridle path and was feeling pretty good. I was actually pretty happy to be running and not totally mortified that I still had almost an hour and a half to go. I was trotting along when I saw something big in a puddle and it was moving. "Huh?" I thought. I got closer and realized it was a turtle! La tortuga fue gigante! It was definitely a snapper so I gave it wide clearance. I had to stop to gape at it. Poor guy. Just wanted the big ape thing to move along so it could continue on it's 10 foot long journey to the other side of the path in peace. But yeah, I stood there talking to it in baby talk in awe of it's huge turtleness. Ahh. I love aminals! Good thing the park was pretty empty. Someone might have thought I was crazy. Carrying on, I restarted my watch and got the pace back up. I was meandering down the path to the stream I usually hop across from rock to rock, no problem. Last night, it was a problem. The stream was raging. I turned around and headed back. This time I just teased the turtle and kept right on running. It probably saw me coming and thought, "oh great, it's back." I picture it having a sour-puss Eyore voice and everything.

Yeah, back to the run. So I kept going until there was a place to get on the road where I could bypass the stream. I ran down the road and jumped back on the trail, although the access to the bridle path from the road was pretty grown over and I'm sure I have a patch of poison ivy on me somewhere now. I skipped along mudding myself up on the soft post-storm trails. I decided to jump back on the road for a while before heading back up to the top of the park to give my legs a break from the softness. The road that is adjacent to the park is beautiful rolling hills through the woods, at least in this stretch. I really enjoyed it. I decided to run a side street loop that meanders along the river before turning and joining back up with this main road. This was nice for a while, until I saw a dog up ahead. I figured it had an electric fence and wasn't too worried. "Ok then, no electric fence," I said to myself as I got closer and doofy dog was bobbling into the street. I realized this pretty late too so the dog was ambling right toward me. Nothing to do but pretend I loved it. "Come here pup pup!" I lied. The dog looked rabid. It was jumping around in circles on it's way over to me. I thought of Atticus Finch walking down the sidewalk. Great. Luckily, this dog was not rabid--at least I don't think so. Just overzealous, or perhaps I'm just that attractive in dog circles. I just don't know. The thing was just jumping on me and licking me like I was it's best friend. I said rather loudly, "Where's your home, pup pup." But no one came looking for doofus. I decided he was harmless and decided to just start slowly moving away. This worked. Doofus bounded and circled back to his driveway and looked back at me forlornly as I backed away. Sorry, buddy. I'm a player like that.

So, I continued on my merry way back down the main road and then onto another before heading back into the park. Here's the hill back to the top. Oh boy and it's a doozy. It seems to last forever. I've done 800 meter repeats on this hill and they were only on part of it. I'd say the hill is close to a mile. It came right smack dab in the middle of the run. I felt really good and plugged away at it. No problems. As I was running up it, I saw a lady running down it wearing a heavy track suit and carrying hand weights jogging her way down. I'm never sure if I feel more happy that someone is out excercising or sorry for them for how they must feel in thick polyester when it's in the 70's and 85% humidity out--oh and the fact that they're carrying handweights. I've decided that handweights (and water bottles for that matter) are sort of the universal sign for working out. "Now I will carry my hand weights (or water bottle) which means I am not just moving as a means of transportation--I am working out like Jane Fonda!" Ok, I'll be nice now. I think I am happier that people are out there enjoying the park and taking care of themselves, but sometimes I can't help voicing my mean girl observations.

After I made my way up the hill I headed back to the trails for my last 6 or so miles. These last miles felt good. I realized I hadn't tied my shoes tight enough as my feet felt slidey in them and I saw a bunch of deer, but other than that, nothing exciting. I picked the pace up a bit and cruised along before heading back to the parking lot around 8:30 PM with a run time of 1:54:34 for my14 miles. There might have been more observations but I'm sure my blood sugar was low and my ti ti factor was high, so that's all you get.

I managed to drive home, eat dinner, pack mrp's and my lunch, stretch thoroughly all by 10:30. I crawled into bed and reluctantly set my alarm for 6:00. But I'll tell you, that was the best 7.5 hours I've slept in a long long time!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Oh No, Let's Go!

Things over here are going pretty well. My calf is doing much better. I had a little bit of achiness in it after the 5k (yes, this genius wore the racing flats again), but it’s been feeling fine otherwise. My cold is also just about gone. It was a pretty wussy cold. It was at it’s worst last weekend and I felt in my lungs when running sub-6:00 pace in the 5k, but it never got too too bad. I did go to a wedding and drank a little too much (ok, a lot too much) red wine and I paid the price for it yesterday. Thanks coach for the day off every week—it came in handy!

Speaking of the wedding, on Saturday, before the ceremony, I had to do my tempo since I did the race on Wednesday (which took the place of my interval workout). I headed out to the park around 8:30 AM. The sun was already blazing, but it was only in the low 70’s. I was to do 4 x 2 miles at 7:03 with 2:00 recoveries in between. My coach prefers a slower tempo pace than a Jack Daniels (no, the other Jack Daniels, silly) tempo, which is what most people do. In a Jack Daniels world I should be running tempos around 6:40 pace. Of course, I’d be doing much fewer miles—at least half what I’m doing with my coach. But I have to say, my coach’s tempo pace is very comfortable and nice to run. It’s still challenging, but I can relax into it and enjoy it and not have to try constantly to hold it, you know?

Anyway, I did a slow 1 mile warm-up and decided to incorporate a couple of little hills into my two-mile stretch of road that would be my tempo run course. I started the workout and the first mile was very rolly with the hills. It was difficult but I like rolly hills so I didn’t mind. The second mile of my course, was a long gradual (very slight, but still noticeable) uphill that also made that mile challenging. 7:02, 6:59. The beauty of it is, that unbeknownst to me 2 miles ended at a water fountain! That helped me from having another heat related meltdown. Instead of slowly jogging my 2 minutes. I walked over and had a drink and let it settle. Then I started the second rep.

Going back, the first mile was all slightly downhill. Another genius move (or accident) in course planning! I felt like this one was so easy! Effortless! But then the second mile is rolly, but this time more uphill than down. Not so effortless! 6:50, 7:05.

After the second set, I jogged for two minutes and then began the third. I realized how hilly my route was now that I was getting tired. This one was pretty slow. 7:08, 7:02.

The water fountain again! Woohoo! Took a drink. It was beginning to get pretty hot and there was less and less shade as the sun rose. Started the last set. Again, that first mile on the way back is fabulously slightly downhill. I figured my pace would slow down on the hilly second mile but it didn’t—probably because I was excited that a great workout was just about in the books. 6:50, 6:50. I did a slow 1 mile cool down and raced to the drugstore to pick up some make-up and such for the wedding.

I then got home and realized how bad I am at estimating how much time I need for things. We only had 45 minutes to get ready for the wedding ceremony. We couldn’t be late because mrp was an usher. Oops! Anyway, I think I have achieved a new world record in cuting myself up. We made it just on time.

I do have to tell you a little about this wedding. The priest had a mullet. Ok, that’s all you need to know. After the wedding and after mrp fulfilled his picture taking duties (he even did a cheesy back to back pose with the groom—awesome!), we zoomed our way home, but stopped off at Chipotle first. But, but! I could not eat it yet. I was STARVING. After the 10.5 mile workout in the morning I ate a bagel and had 20 oz of Gatorade. That’s it! Yet, I still had to do my PM recovery run. WAAAAA! We flew in the driveway and I flew in the house, threw on the morning’s dirty running clothes and flew back out the door. Luckily my legs were tired so I didn’t fly threw the 3.5 mile recovery run. Plus it was now almost 90 degrees and it was 3:30 so the sun was really ablazing. I came home and made a bee-line for my burrito. Then I achieved a new world record for re-cuting myself and off we went to the reception where I ate gross greasy mass-produced chicken-marsala and green beans almondine, drank too much red wine, and played the air guitar to Prince’s Let’s Go Crazy all before midnight! Somebody slept good that night!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Happy Flag Day!

Yesterday was quite a day. I woke up and did my easy 3.5 mile run down to the end of my street and back. I love my street. It meanders along a river with some rolling hills, lots of trees, and just wonderful amounts of wildlife. I saw 3 great blue herons in the river yesterday! One was flying low along the river. One was wading looking for fish. One was standing on one leg all yogi-like. I love those things!

After that it was home to water my flowers (which I’ll have you know I haven’t killed yet!) I am so proud of my little flower boxes with the zinnias and sweet alyssum. It’s big pops of red and yellow intermixed with little delicate white. I do have to get more dirt for the one box—remind me, k?

Then it was the mad dash to work. Mrp and I work at the same place, which is great. We don’t work in the same department, so we don’t really work together so it’s all the convenience and none of the weird awkwardness of working with the one you love. Anyway, we commute together, and mrp drives us in the morning. I enjoy this time. We listen to NPR or chit chat about this or that. I used to fall asleep, but now that I’m running in the morning I am usually wide awake and ready to take advantage of this little bit of time alone together. Once we get to work we have to run to the fitness center, shower, and do all that and then finally I run upstairs and plop myself in my office and get cracking on my blog—I mean work. Heh.

Yesterday, I had to run over to my rental property on my lunch hour. I bought a house a couple of years ago before mrp, before going back to school, and all that stuff. Luckily, I had the forethought to buy something that I could eventually use as an investment property—I bought a duplex in a popular suburb. When I decided to go back to school, I just rented out the side I used to live on. Since then, both sides are rented. This has not been too much of a hassle. The house is old though, so there is always something to fix. Well, one side’s tenants called me and told me the a/c wasn’t working well. So I had a heating and cooling guy over yesterday to check it out. The a/c is essentially fine, but we discovered the furnace needs to be replaced. Since the other side’s furnace is around the same age he strongly encouraged me to replace that one too. Yeah! Two furnaces! Ugh. At least that problem is easy to solve. It’s expensive, but relatively simple. And it’s a capital improvement that I can write off, so that’s always good.

Of course, my lunch hour was more like a lunch 3 hour, but whatever. I took some stuff I had to read and got that done while I waited around. I came back to my office and kicked some butt on some of my projects, so I don’t feel too guilty about it. I did have to head out right at 5:00 to make sure I had enough time to drop mrp off at home and get to the race on time. (I bet you’re reading this and thinking—SHUT UP about this crap—how did the race go?!)

Anyway, I got to the race and registered and all that. I started my warm-up and I spotted this guy I used to talk to when I did workouts at a local track. Last summer we ran really similar times at races—I came from behind and beat him twice—Sorry B! He’s super nice. And he’s a mailman. Anyway, he gave me the bad news that his knee is shot. He was able to run until 61. Not too shabby! I know he’s bummed. Maybe they’ll figure something out for him. I hope, anyway.

After chatting for a few minutes with him, I headed off for the rest of my warm-up. I found a nice loop in the shade and ran around and around. I passed two women headed in the opposite direction. I came around the corner and passed them again. One of them said my name. I turned and she said, “Hi. It’s me, E-speed.” “Hi!” I yelled back. It was so nice of her to introduce herself. I always wonder how I’d do that—introduce myself to someone I only know in blogland. Could I bring myself to actually refer to myself as Salty? It’s funny, I have this blog persona and it is very much like the real me, but it’s still a persona. It’s not actually the real me, you know? Ah, the metaphysics of blogging.

Anyway, it was about time to make my way to the starting line. I turned off my loop, and oops, wrong turn. Uh oh! I ran back, and was a little worried. I picked up the pace. Ok, time to do strides!!! Heh. Luckily, I made it with a few minutes to spare. First, let me tell you about the adoreable WWII vet color guard making the Flag Day 5k very festive! I love those old guys decked out in their uniforms, all solemn and holding their flags in just the correct way.

Anyway, I lined up right next to E and we chatted some more. That girl is cute as a button! She was worried she wasn’t recovered fully from a ultra(?) relay she ran a few days before. I’ll have you know she kicked @$$ out there! She ran (a minute or so?) faster than she’s been running her 5ks. Awesome! I think those big long run workouts she’s been doing—the marathons, the relay legs, etc--are catching up. I’m telling you, there’s nothing like mileage to boost your fitness!!

Oh, I’m getting ahead of myself. Where were we. Yes, the race director’s speech, the national anthem, yadda yadda yadda (not making light of the national anthem, just the pre race rituals), horn! Off we go. Weeeeeee down a hill. OOOOOOOooooops going WAY too fast. Pass a girl who I KNOW will be passing me later. Oh well. Two younger girls go flying by me. At about the half mile point, I go flying by them never to see them again. Just before the mile marker, the girl who I KNOW will pass me does and that’s good. She’s been on fire lately and better kick my @$$ today! I hit the first mile in 5:50! Double oops!

At this point, the course is completely open with the sun blazing. I could feel the pace in my chest probably since my cold is not completely gone. I decide to ease up—afterall, this is for C race workout purposes, not A race setting solid PR purposes. I also knew I was in third and not going to move up and would probably hold as long as I maintained even this slower pace. We hit a spot where it’s uphill, in the open sun, on blacktop. Yuck! Although I see my grandparents sitting on lawn chairs here (the course passes their condo). Awww. Thanks guys!! We run up the hill to a sharp turnaround and back from whence we came. My mile two split was something atrocious like 12:20!

After that we headed up to some paved trails in a wooded section. It’s nice to get out of the sun, but the trails are hilly, twisty, and bumpy. I passed some people in here. I actually felt really good, like the pace wasn’t too hard. I felt like I wasn’t running all out. This is good. I decided with about a half mile or so to go to start pushing it a little bit. I did and came in with a little PR of 19:29. The low tech race is crediting me with 19:30, but I know I ran a 19:29 and I am clinging to that one second! I came in third and got a gigantic flag festooned trophy.

After the race, I had the pleasure of talking to the second place woman (the one who I KNEW would pass me and did) and her dad. Her dad is from Slovenia so we had a lot to talk about there. It was fun. Oh, and she ran a great 18:49! I also met my ART guy’s brother who I always end up finishing around—he just edged me out at the finish yesterday. I’ve heard a lot about him, so that was nice. I also met a lady named Leslie who ran about a mile of cooldown with me. She was nice too. It was a really fun time and a great workout to boot, just like I knew it would be. It made up for the crappy news about my furnaces, I got to talk to all kinds of great people, and I even had fans (can I tell you how cute my grandparents were on their lawn chairs!) Just as I predicted, I am happy I did it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Time to Stop and Run the 5ks

I have a love hate relationships with days off from running. Part of me loves the flexibility it offers my schedule. I can sleep in! I can go shopping at lunch! I can meet a friend after work! I don't have to lug my big ugly gym bag full of crap every where I go! But part of me feels like I'm missing out on something. It's a beautiful day out there! I miss the woods! What if a woodchuck would have hussled his chubby self across the street as I ran by?! I'm back up to a solid 60 miles per week even with the day off and that's with a short long run and two hard workouts a week so my schedule is pretty demanding. I suppose I should suck it up and fully enjoy the full 8 hours of sleep I got last night, my lunchtime sneak down to Forever 21 (that place has amazingly cute, albeit often cheap to the point of disposable weekend clothing), and my unburdened mile long walk down to my car after work in the beautiful weather we're having today.

As for that 5k tomorrow, I think I'm just going to do it. I really don't care if it sucks and it'll be way more fun to race than to do a tempo workout alone. And really, this is the only time in the next few months in which running a random 5k is really feasible. Things are due to get more intense next month as I prepare for my A races (I'm such a running dork--when did this happen to me?!) And, to my coach's point, I really don't care a whole heck of a lot how I race this thing. I'll admit that I think under the right conditions I could run a pretty hefty pr in the 5k. I think it's one of my softer pr's (I've only really run 2 since I've been training: one was a 19:42 last December and one was a 19:43 in February when it was 12 degrees, snowy, windy, the course sucked, and I was in the middle of marathon training). Although, I have to bear in mind that I don't train for these short little races so maybe my short distance speed is not commenserate with my longer distance abilities. Oh, and the whole having a cold and the totally running myself ragged thing. And perhaps tomorrow will suck. But I have faith that despite the hectic schedule, the stuffy nose, the probable blazing sun and heat, that tomorrow will be fun and I'll be glad I did it. In the end, isn't that all that really matters when it comes to running anyway?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Airborne

So, after that horrible workout on Friday, I went to work and over the course of the day felt worse and worse and by the time I got home I had a full-on cold. Nothing like an extra excuse for the suckage! I actually did do my evening easy recovery run and I felt better. It was just 3.5 miles, down my street and back home. No big deal. I also did my Saturday morning 7 miler and that was just peachy too, even with the sore throat and swollen nodes.

On Saturday afternoon I did the unthinkable--I boarded yet another plane. I headed over to Chicago to spend 22 hours with my best friend and her daughter. I felt kind of crappy but I already planned the trip and spent the money. I drank lots of fluids and took a few airborne fizzies and napped on the plane. It was a fun low key time consisting of eating, talking, and goofing around. I got to do my long run up along the Chicago lakefront on a GORGEOUS morning yesterday. It was a very nice, albeit short trip.

Today I did another easy 7 miles and felt good. My cold isn't much more than a slightly stuffy nose at this point. This morning's run was slightly snotty but very very pleasant. I think 7 miles might be the perfect distance! As for the rest of the week, my was to shuffle my tempo to Saturday so I could run a 5k on Wednesday evening, but part of me thinks I'd be better off sucking in solitude doing a tempo workout in the woods by myself on Wednesday night instead. My coach thinks the latter is the better option, but he said it's up to me. He said I can run it but I shouldn't expect more than to get a good workout out of it. Does this mean he thinks if I expect a good race I'll be sorely disappointed?

Friday, June 08, 2007

To Iowa and Back

I just got back from the bland Midwestern capital-ok, it was Des Moines. I have to say I really like it there. It is a charming city--very clean with just the right amount of open space to building ratio. I also love the rolling hills covered in prairie grass-stunningly beautiful!

I also love litigating. I am definitely better at the writing piece, but the oral argumenting is pretty cool too. I can’t begin to explain how hellishly nervous I was all day Wednesday. We (my colleague and I) arrived in Des Moines and met the lawyer we’ve been working with there in his office. This guy was awesome! He’s about 60 and from Iowa and all Iowaish. He says things like, “well, he doesn’t know sh*t from shinola” and things like that! Anyway, after we spent some time chit-chatting he said to me, “Ok kiddo, why don’t you give us a read through.” Gulp. Ok.

Now, keep in mind that up to this point the most I had done was read a written out script from the paper. Oh, I like to write out a script first and then this gives me a baseline to work with. I ultimately don’t use the script—maybe bullet points, but that’s it. It’s always really scary the first time you don’t use the script!

Anyway, I was nervous as heck, even though it was just the three of us in the office, but I just sucked it up and gave it a whirl. I’ll admit it. It sucked! I could just tell they were politely stifling the cringing. They both gave me a little advice. Try not to say, “As you may know” so much. Watch the hand-wringing (heh). Ok. Let me try again. I tried again. It still sucked, but not quite as bad. More feedback—I don’t remember what they said. We talked about some other stuff for a while. But, again Iowa guy said, “do you want to try again?” “Ok,” I said, “but this time I should try it standing up.” I didn’t want to stand up. I felt stupid enough sitting down, but I figured I better do it in case the judge required it of me. So, I stood up and did it. It was 900 million times better! I was more relaxed. I moved around. I had a little fun with it. Much better! It was actually more comfortable for me standing than seated. Cool!

After this last run through. We headed out in Iowa guy’s beamer. Normally, I am not into flashy cars but I liked Iowa guy and his flashy car—a nice balance. He drove us to his country club in West Des Moines. I am also not into country clubs, but again, same balance principle holds true in Iowa guy’s case. It was so cheesy and country clubbish. There was a guy playing a baby grand in the corner, and a bunch of upper middle aged dudes eating steak and drinking manhattans while their wives drank chardonnay with cardigans around their shoulders. Too funny. Afterwards, Iowa guy decided he’d show us around town and proceeded to show off the finest McMansions Des Moines (and probably the entire state of Iowa) has to offer. Meanwhile, it’s already my bedtime in the Eastern Time Zone and I want to get back to the hotel (which was the Holiday Inn by the Airport, complete with a Holidome—I even had the pleasure of having a Holidome room in which I could hear the kids screeching in the pool until 10PM—because we couldn’t get a room downtown because the pork expo was in town. I kid you not).

Finally, finally, Iowa Guy took us back to our rooms. After saying goodnight to sweet mrp who helped me relax by reminding me of fuzzy bunnies*, I locked myself in the bathroom where I couldn't hear the holidome activities and did a couple of run throughs of the argument. Then I completed my stretching routine, tucked myself under the stiff polyester bedding, and watched the Sopranos before finally forcing myself to admit the hearing was imminent and to go to sleep!

I woke up around 5:45. I made some coffee and did a run through. I got my suit together and showered and all that and headed downstairs to meet my colleague for breakfast. At this point, just like a race, there’s no use training now. Just relax and trust it will workout. We headed out to the front of the hotel to wait for Iowa guy’s beamer to pull up. We hop in and head over to the courthouse.

I am a nervous wreck. It really is just like standing at the starting line. Finally the other side’s attorney enters. Then the judge. She cuts to the chase. Here I go!

“May it please the court. Good morning your honor…” I began. “Wait! You’re going to have to slow down!” The judge said with a smile. “Ok.” I said, “Let’s try this again.” So I started again and was reminded to slow down every time I saw the pained look on the court reporter’s face. Finally, I was done. I made it through the hard part. Now I had to take notes and get ready for the rebuttal!

The other side did their schtick and I came up with some doozies. By now, I was all warmed-up and fired up to refute everything the other side said. When it was my turn again I got up and fired back—tactfully, but with some emotion. Afterwards, my colleague and Iowa guy said I did well on the opening but really nailed the rebuttal. Of course, I was no Johnny Cochran, yet, but for my first time I think I did pretty well and I feel good about it. Whether we win or not is a different story!

After the hearing we had some time before we had to head to the airport so I suited up and headed out. I ran around Des Moines. I passed a rottweiler who ran after me, but luckily was on a long chain. Then I ran by the zoo. Then up a big hill—in Iowa! And then down a long hilly dirt road where I was chased by another dog, but just a little Benji dog who was curious to meet me. I ran about 7 miles. I ran back in my room and hurriedly got dressed and we headed across the street to the airport.

Now may I talk about what I hate? O'Hare freakin' airport! I HATE that place. Oh GOD! It sucks. It sucks so bad I don't even feel like typing all the crazy sh*t I had to go through to get home last night! UGH! Let's just say I was supposed to arrive in O’Hare from Des Moines at 3:00 and connect to a flight out of O’Hare around 3:45. I ended up flying out of Midway at 9:15 PM. I rolled into my driveway around 12:30 am and made into bed finally sometime after 1:00 am! I was wrecked. I just wanted to decompress after a couple of VERY stressful days and what do I get? More stress! And tons of it--and I had to experience on my feet in heels the whole time! UGH!

Let's just say my workout this morning in 87 degree heat, 20 mph winds, blazing sun, and high humidity didn't go so swell. Ok, I'll tell you a little about it. I was supposed to do a 2 mile w/u including 5 x 200 @ 5k pace. Then 3 x 1600 meters at 6:37. Then 6 x 200 @ 43. Then a 2 mile c/d. Well. I was ok through the warm-up. Then mile 1 was a bit fast in 6:24, especially considering I was running on blacktop in that heat and sun. Then during mile number two, all I remember is starting it in the shade and then I came around the corner and could see the shade ending and the sun shining on the road and before I knew it I was just standing there--my legs just stopped. I had only gone 400 meters! I didn't know what to do. I stopped the garmin and stood there in disbelief. Then I turned around and started running back into the shade. My pace was picking up and I thought I might salvage the workout and I looked down and realized I never restarted the garmin. I hit the button and pushed on for 900 more meters. Close enough! Then, I got on the bridle path for the last one to try to get out of the heat. I totally just wanted to quit especially when I came to 800 meters in 3:27 or something awful like that. Whatever. I made myself finish it. 6:47! AWFUL! I was also going to bag the 200's but instead, I made myself do them. I didn't look at the time, just the distance. I did 200 hard and 100 easy 6 times. Then I took off the garmin, erased the workout, stuffed the watch in my pocket, and commenced the slowest most pathetic 2 mile cool down of my life. The end.

*Last fall mrp was getting stiches--well, a stitch--and as he was anticipating the ickiness of the needle I said, "picture fuzzy bunnies." Rrrrrrrrt. The record stopped. The doctor turned and looked at me. Mrp, sat up and looked at me. "Wha...?" I don't know. When I have to get a shot or have blood drawn I think of fuzzy bunnies munching on grass in a field, ok?

Monday, June 04, 2007

32yearoldrunnerladynapped

Wow. I have too much going on right now. Last week was Atlanta. You know about that. But, you didn't know that I was kidnapped and thrown into the back of a cheesy 20 person limo/bus thing and forced to stay out from 5:30 to 3(am!) on Saturday night dancing in 3 inch heels and drinky fruity rum drinks at a bachelorette party. If it says anything about my thoughts of bachelorette parties is the fact that this was the FIRST one I have EVER been to! Seriously. I'm 32! Almost none of my friends are really into that kind of thing and I certainly am not. However, this friend is and that's cool. I was happy to be there.

However, I was not happy to wake up on Sunday and have to run 14 miles in 80 degree heat and 70% humidity! YUCK! Let's just say that sucked. I did it though. Moving along, this week I have to go to the bland midwestern state capital. We lost at the Department of Revenue level, so now this time I'll have to give an oral argument in court! I know. Can you believe it? Me?! I'm excited though. This is my case and I'm ready to win, baby! So that's Wednesday and Thursday. On Saturday I am flying to Chicago for one night to hang out with my best friend. She lives in San Francisco, so we don't often have a chance to hang for a day like normal friends. We talk on the phone a lot, but it's not the same. Since she'll be there for a week I figure I better take the opportunity to see her. I'll have to do my long run along the shores of Lake Michigan--rats! But then that's it. After that I'm hunkering down in my jammies and watching netflix with mrp for a few weeks. Well, I might take a break to run a 5k and a 10k.

PS My tempo run last Friday was so hard! It was 85 degrees and 60% humidity. I am so not used to that. I sweated more than I think I sweated all winter! I hit my targets though (surprisingly--I thought for sure I'd die off the last couple of miles if I finished at all!) I can't complain. On to another week.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Ladies and Gentlemen

I just got back from Atlanta last night. It was a whirlwind trip. We headed out Wednesday morning. Our first stop was a manufacturing facility about 70 miles south east of Atlanta near the Alabama border. The facility itself is unremarkable other than it used to house a Playtex cross-your-heart bra factory. What I found lovely was the slloooowww pace of life down there. We stopped at a gas station on our way in so I could pee. I poked my head inside and a little old wrinkled man with a smokin' stogie hanging out of his mouth was sitting in the corner. He said, "key's ovah thar" as he pointed straight ahead. I grabbed the key, amazed at the Mayberryesque scenario. I opened the door and was amazed that the little lavatory had probably last been cleaned when Mayberry was a popular primetime destination! We met with an Alabamian accountant at the facility. He opened the door of our rental car for me on our way to and from lunch! How sweet is that?!

Theoretically, I don't like gentility. I don't need help--I can do just about anything myself. But, there's a part of me that really digs this kind of thing. There's something so charming about recognizing differences between male and female. It doesn't have to be that female is weak and needs the door opened. It can just be something nice that a man does for a woman just like how it's nice that I bake cookies and make pb&j's for mrp just the way he likes them. I'm still all about female empowerment, as I flutter my eyelashes and twirl my parasol! I've got my running shoes under that hoopskirt, remember.

Anyway, after that little adventure, we headed back to Atlanta to our hotel. To my delight it was two blocks from Piedmont Park. This was great, as PP's a good place for an out-of-towner like me to get her run on, but it's also a place I have read about. One of my all-time favorite books is the underappreciated A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe. Sure, the actual plot is somewhat anticlimactic, but the characters are hilarious. I love how TW is so old white dude about naming his rappers and writing rap lyrics. His characterizations are so on, yet so off. I don't know. I loved that book and couldn't put it down. The point is, he sets up a wonderful scene in and around Piedmont Park. He juxtaposes Freaknik with the Piedmont Driving Club. Imagine the possibilities! Read the book sometime and see what I mean.

So, after we got to the hotel and I went my separate way from my co-workers, I headed out to PP for a short easy run. I front-loaded my running during the beginning of the week so I would only need to run two easy runs while on the trip. I had planned to do the 5 miler, but it was stinkin' hot and I was tired from travelling and the workout the day before, so I just did the 3.5 miler. I ran around the park and discovered that Dave Matthews was playing a concert in the Botanical Gardens later in the day, but it just so happens he was rehearsing as I was running. So, I entertained myself by running the hilly road up and around the Botanical Gardens listening to the rehearsal. I'm not particularly a fan, but I got a kick out of it nonetheless.

Later that night we went to dinner at a great place called South City Kitchen. If you're ever in the midtown district of Atlanta, it's definitely worth checking out. The next morning I ran 5.5 miles with 5 x 100 strides in the middle just to stretch the legs out. It was much nicer than the night before since it was about 15 degrees cooler. It was pretty uneventful really.

This morning I did an easy run from home and tonight I have a 5 mile tempo to do in the oppressive late afternoon/early evening heat and humidity. It will put hair on my chest--well, I actually hope not! But you know what I mean. Yeah, make me tougher. Or something.