Monday, July 30, 2007

Dead Legs Too Shall Pass

It's amazing what a difference a few days makes in one's running life. After Sunday's race I felt pretty fine. Nothing hurt. Nothing was overly tight. But, on Tuesday I had to go and do my long run after work. It had rained earlier in the day so the air was pretty muggy and the trails at my park were a bit squishy. Since I am a super-genius, I decided to start off my 14 miler with my hilly loop. Um, duh. If you're looking to do a weekday evening long run two days after a race, eat dinner, take care of weeknight business, and go to bed on time running an uber-hilly squishy trail run is probably not very bright. Yes, I figured this out after 7 miles of having to struggle to keep my head above 9:00 pace. Seriously. I got to the top of the hill and back near the roads and I left those squishy hills for the rolling roads. I was chugging along down to 8:40's, 8:30's, 8:20's and I finally made it down to what my pace is supposed to be 8:00's for the last mile. I felt fine, just the effort level for easy pace was about a minute slower per mile than normal. Yikes!

After Tuesday, my easy runs on Wednesday and Thursday were pretty normal. Friday was my track workout and that too was pretty normal. 4 x 1200 and 4 x 200. No sweat--well, actually lots of sweat and dead bugs mashed all over me by the time I was finished! Then yesterday, I had my long run for this week. I was worried because a) Tuesday sucked and b) I got a late start, as usual, and it was Muggy (with a capital M). I went down to CVNP and headed out for my 15 miler. After I warmed up at about 1.5 miles, I was clipping right along running 7:40's to 7:50's for every mile. (Incidentally, around mile 11, and then again at 13, I passed a huge cornfield. Mrp insisted I check out and report back how the corn along the towpath compares to the corn in our garden. Well, I'll have you know that this summer is truly flying by! The towpath corn is ready, the combines are out, and the air guns are shooting to keep the crows away already! But, our corn is days away from picking, too, so take that real farmers!)

Anyway, at the end of my long run I'm supposed to do a 20% push, which is 3 miles for my 15 miler. So at mile 12 I shifted down. For pushes I don't like to go bonkers trying to hit a particular pace. I just comfortably pick it up and see what happens. I try to stay focused and relaxed. Lately, when I do this I've been hitting a 7:05-7:10 pace at the end of my long runs. The first of my three miles this week was 7:15 (which is about 7:00 since this mile is long). The next two were 6:58 and 6:53. It felt easy! Wow. What a difference a few days makes!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Getting Specific

I know at the end of my Boston recap I mentioned running off to apply for the New York marathon. Well, shortly after that mrp and I started discussing getting married and we decided the fall would be a good time. Since getting married is more important than running (running is important, but not THAT important, now!), we decided that a very expensive weekend in New York to run a marathon around the same time as our wedding might cause us a bit of stress. So, we decided to make alternate arrangements. Instead of New York, I'm headed back to Columbus.

So now, I am ready to switch up my training to be more marathon-specific. To help focus on being marathon-specific I need to get a good handle on my time goal. This is where things get interesting. I'm a very happy running camper right now. I have had two very solid months of training and I feel great. I am also getting stronger. Sure, my races tell me that, but I can just tell. My legs feel super lately (don't worry, I knocked) and that's even with 8 weeks of 60 miles or so for each. Based on my training and my races, my coach says my new marathon target pace is 6:55! The thought of running that pace for 26 miles would have caused me to puke last year, but I actually think I can do it and maybe then some. Which conveniently would get me to the finish with a magical time with a 2 as the first number instead of a 3! Could you imagine?! I know at this point that running a time like that is far from a sure thing. I need to be very careful to stick to my coach's plan (which so far has been brilliant!)--everything from the timing of the runs, to the supplemental stuff like calisthenics, to hitting my target paces, no more no less. I also have to take very good care of myself to minimize my stress, eat well, and get sufficient sleep these next 2 months. Control, self-restraint, and patience balanced with hard work, dedication, and drive is what I need.

Those first three things have always been harder for me than the last three, but lately I am starting to really dig pursuiting them. It's worked for the past 2 months, anyway!

In other news, I joined a team.* It's not something I ever really saw myself doing. I've almost exclusively trained alone and I never thought I'd get good enough that anyone would want me on their team (I don't mean to be self-deprecating--I just never expected that I'd have some bit of talent at this!). I'm excited, though to have a network of serious runners to tap into and provide my services as a solid performer for team top-10 finishers bragging rights, relay legs, and things like that. I am one of the slowest people on the team, so I am inspired a) by the dedication and hard work of these amazing runners, and b) to get better and not humiliate myself--heh! Although, in my defense, I think I have been running the shortest amount of time of anyone on the team, too, so I have a lot of room for improvement! So, thanks to *E* for suggesting I do it!

*I should mention that I also ran one race, the one last weekend, as a member of my favorite running store's team. The store guy, *VR* asked me a while back if I'd like to run on his team and I agreed. I wore his uniform once, but I wore it proud running my best race thus far! Thanks VR!! Oh, and anyone in the Hudson, Ohio area (Yeah, G, I'm talking to you) go check out Vertical Runner!

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Johnnycake Jog

Well. I am confident that sub 31 was the right goal for this race. However, I didn't quite make it. I ran a 31:14 (a hair under 6:15 pace)(according to my watch, officially for this non-chip times race it's 31:17). I think if I ran a perfect race I would have run sub-31. I did make a goof in pacing.

I got to the starting line and I was feeling pretty good. This made me happy because as you recall from the addendum to my last post I tripped on a root on Friday night and tweaked my left glute. It was sore Friday night and Saturday and it was tight at the beginning of my warm-up yesterday. But after 5 striders it was loosened up and ready to roll. Another little scare occurred on Saturday. I went to the mall to check out a sale which of course contained nothing I wanted. I was starving though so I grabbed a smoothy on my way out. About 45 minutes after I finished the smoothy my head started throbbing, my stomach got wonky, and I just wanted to sleep! I was at the grocery store though, so I finished up witht that went home and crashed in bed. I felt SO bad! After a nap I woke up and mrp and I went for burritos. Eating helped, but my head still hurt. I took a couple of tylenol before bed and hoped for the best. I woke up feeling much better in the head, but the stomach was still wonky. Luckily, it pretty much un-wonked by race time!

Anyway, back to the starting line. I lined up with mrp right behind my friend *E* and another girl I knew to generally be just a little faster than me. I figured I'd learn from them how not to take it out like a maniac! Off we went. I started my watch as I crossed the start line. The pace felt downright easy. Hmm. I guess this is how it's supposed to be! I was still worried about going out too hard as I passed *E* so I made sure to check myself. I got to mile 1 right on time in 6:12. Perfect, I thought!

I knew the next mile, mile 2, was the slowest on the course. My strategy was to stay strong and controlled on this mile over the hills. I thought I was maintaining my pace perfectly and I was feeling great! A few women passed me in this mile, but I didn't sweat it because I was so controlled. I came to the 2 mile marker and OOPS--6:32! WTF?! Duh! During mile 1 I didn't run 6:12 pace I ran something like 3:00 for the first half and then 3:12 for the second when I was actually trying to reign myself in. Then when I thought I was maintaining the same pace--I was, just the 6:24 pace effort over the hills and not the 6:12 pace effort I was going for!

Well, I knew I kind of shot myself in the foot there. But, I also knew it was possible. I knew it would be very close and I might as well try. So, I picked it up. With the downhills on the section I was able to get the pace down to 6:04. Better! I passed a couple of those women who passed me during mile and they didn't make it easy! After the 3rd mile marker we make a turn and it's about 2 miles straight down an open road with the sun beating down and the wind in your face a bit. I just kept hauling. I could see a woman way ahead of me as I turned. I focused and thought...maybe. I just kept my eyes on her. I'd go back and forth between feeling like my legs were lead and feeling like I had more and could chase her down. I inched closer and closer and closer. My fourth mile was 6:10.

The last mile is broken down in quarters. I tried to go one quarter at a time. Some quarter mile signs helped and some reminded me how far I still had to go! I just focused on the woman ahead of me and used her to draw me to the finish as fast as I could get there. She was way in front of me with 2 miles to go, but just 5 seconds ahead of me at the finish! So close!! But I ended up with a 31:14 and 8th place out of a very competitive field, which is almost a minute off my previous pr and not bad for screwing up mile 2 royally!

I realized that the women who ran in college and have been running for many more years than me run much more evenly paced races (shorter ones anyway) than I generally do. I just don't have enough experience with pacing yet. Something I just have to practice. So a great race and a new lesson learned for next time.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Zucchini

Ahhh! We are being overrun with zucchini! Help! (Have you ever seen Little Shop of Horrors? I hear "Feed me Stanley" every time I look at our 6 monster zucchini plants!) I cannot think of any other way to cook the stuff. I've roasted it, grilled it, sauteed it, put it on pasta, grated it into cornbread and pancakes. I've offered them up free to good homes. Next year, mrp is not allowed 6 zucchini plants. One plant is enough! Geesh! Maybe I can make a pit and put hundreds of zucchini in it like one of those ball pens they have at Chuck E Cheese. Wouldn't it be fun to play in a huge pile of zucchini?! Or speaking of Chuck, do woodchucks like zucchini? Maybe I know how to entice our neighbor out of his unfortunately placed home...

Actually, we think Mr. Chuck has left his anti-building. Mrp's been digging around excavating the hole and I can't imagine it makes Chuck feel warm and cozy down there with some human giving hole burrowing a bad name right outside. We feel comfortable enough that Chuck is gone that we'd be happy to fill the hole in, but the problem is we just don't know how deep it is! We're still trying to figure out what to do. In the meantime, it's nice to see the first real rain of the summer this week while there's a huge gaping hole next to the foundation of our house. Murphy sure knew what he was talking about.

But, really it's nice that there are so many wonderful things to do in the summer. Besides the big stuff, it's fun to experience zucchini overkill and woodchuck surprises. I love the long hours of daylight and the hotness too.

And this summer has been exceptionally great. Running is no exception. I have really been enjoying it lately. I'm knocking on wood as I type this, but my legs have not felt this good probably ever! Seriously, nothing hurts for once.* It's not because I'm not working hard. Believe me, I get kind of worn out by the end of the week. I've been going to the track on Fridays and believe me, doing a workout on Friday night definitely teaches me how to deal with running hard when I'm fatigued. By Friday around 4:00 I am just wiped out from a long week and it is tough to drag myself to the track. Once, I'm there and I've warmed up I'm fine, but passing the happy hourers relaxing on the downtown restaurant patios on our way to our parking space after work and then passing our house (with my nice comfy bed in it!) on the way to the track is hard.

This week is extra nice though. I am not running a track workout tonight. I am just going to go to my favorite trails and relaxedly cruise around in the woods for a while. I am getting very excited about my race on Sunday. I've reached the zen point in my pre-race cycle. I am going to show-up and run what I run. My fitness will dictate what I do at this point. I can't make myself run a sub-31 if I'm not there yet and if I am there, my brain can't stop me!

Anyway, now I have to go master zen and the art of zucchini bread, zucchini burgers, and zucchini derived fossil fuel alternatives.

*Well, of course as I was running so easily and carefree on the trails last night I tripped on a root and almost did a face plant except my left glute sacrificed herself for my face and now it is a little sore--one day before a race. Dammit, Murphy!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Chuck

First things first. The wedding planning is moving right along. I bought a dress and we finally settled on a date and a reception site. Now it’s on to caterers, photographers, and florists. Yeah! All the expensive stuff!

But, life can never be so simple. No. When everything is going according to plan, the woodchuck gods must mess it up! Mrp and I have a woodchuck living next door. And I mean, right next door. The silly thing decided to tunnel under our deck and right along the foundation of our house! ARGH! This is what I get for saying how cute they are eating their clover and hustling their chub across the street just about every day. I think they are one of the cutest animals out there. Well, on Saturday mrp spied one eating clover just outside our bedroom window. We snook close to the window and delightedly watched it munch away. But then instead of scampering across the field to the woodpile, Mr. Chuck sauntered over to the daisies next to the deck. It ate a couple (which was fine, since we haven't really decided what to do with the back landscaping yet anyway) and then snuck under a hosta. We watched the hosta leaves wiggle and then everything became still. Hmmm. We decided to investigate. We ran outside and out around the deck. We both stood shell shocked staring at the mound of dirt abutting the house and the huge hole under the deck next to it! Oh man! Not a good place for a chuck! So, we’re still trying to figure out how to evict Mr. Chuck. I’ll keep you posted!

In running news, I wish there was something exciting to report here in Saltyland. The running has been going according to plan, which is great, but not exciting. There are no blazing fast track workouts or workouts gone awry. Just sticking to the schedule successfully.

I, guess this is somewhat blog-worthy: I am planning on running a race on Sunday. It’s one of my A races if you want to be all running geek about it. It’s a local 5 miler that always brings out the speedsters. It’s kind of cool because the top 5 men and women and all the age group winners get their picture in the paper. Last year I ran it and shocked myself by running just under 7:00 pace, finishing in 34:57. I couldn’t believe I ran that fast!! Even more shockingly, I won my age group and got my picture in the paper. I felt like a superstar—heh! This year, needless to say, I expect to better that time substantially. I think if all goes well I can improve my time on this course by 4 minutes. Other than a few 200’s here or there I haven’t been training to run fast, so we’ll see how this goes. I should at least be able to better my 32:07 5 mile PR and I’d be happy to do that, but if I can eek in under 31:00 I’ll be thrilled!

I have been feeling pretty good lately and training is going well. Mrp and my coach both think sub 31:00 is well within my capabilities. I just have to make sure not to go out too fast. I really think that’s the one thing that stands in my way. If I go out under goal pace, I’m screwed! 6:08-6:12. 6:08-6:12. 6:08-6:12. That has to be my mantra for the next week. I hesitated to articulate my goal for fear of looking like an idiot if I don’t reach it. But, then I thought what the heck. I might as well put it out there and have a couple of extra people rooting for me, right?! Plus, maybe by admitting it here I can get as confident as mrp and my coach are that I can do it!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Control

Janet Jackson is a weird creature, isn't she? I used to think she was pretty normal (relative to Tito, Michael and LaToya, anyway), but then I heard all about her secret baby back in the 80's, then there was the nip-slip which was just plain odd, and then there's the fact she's just another Jackson with a nose job. I don't know. I actually always kind of liked her. Especially, in the early dancing on the chairs Control and even Rhythm Nation (although I never got her and her brother's strange military inspired looks--I prefer a less structured Janet).

Anyway, I have been meditating on the word "control" lately and that's what had me thinking about Janet. Ms. Jackson if you're nasty. Ok, I'll stop. Yes, back to the running... I remember running track workouts last summer and I would basically just start running really really fast and hope I hit my target split. Hard running was this weird exertional chaos--arm wonking wildly, feet slapping unelegantly, and all that wonderful stuff. Tempos are somewhat new to me. I really didn't do a lot of true tempo running until last training cycle. My same run-hard-and-hope-for-the-best approach was taken with them too.

I think it started with my long tempos last month. I was given a very specific pace to hit and it wasn't a particularly fast pace, although it really wasn't slow either. This sort of hard-not-too-hard pace maintained for a very long time really taught me how to run hard but controlled.

At the beginning of last month I attempted my coach's faster workouts and really struggled. On one in particular, I was supposed to run 3 x 1 mile at 6:35 pace with 1:00 rest in between. I thought this would be so easy! So, I went out hard for the first mile in 6:24. Well, with one minute of rest (plus getting used to higher mileage and the heat of the day) I was fried by the time it was time to do the second one. I felt like a failure.

Fast forward to this past week. On Wednesday I was to do a short tempo of 3-4 miles (after warm-up and before proper cool-down* of course) at a new pace--short tempo pace(just about Jack Daniels tempo pace) or about 6:40/mile. I was very fearful of this workout as I had become quite content with my 4 x 2 miles at 7:00 pace. But, I used my mastery of the 7:00 pace to figure out about how I should feel at 6:40 pace and off I went. My first split was 6:39. I held steady and the next mile was 6:40. I was feeling surprisingly good. I turned around and headed back making sure to maintain. I finished in 6:35 and 6:36.

Then on Friday night I did what all of us party-people do. I headed to the track for a CV workout. I was to do 6 x 800 in 3:13 with 1:00 recoveries. Again, this is considerably slower than my 5k pace so this shouldn't be killer. The first couple were 3:10. Then I slowed all the way to 3:11 for the rest. I was really pleased with the consistency. I really noticed that as I got tired it was harder and harder not to go crazy and run them really hard. I had to consciously hold back. I don't mean that to say it felt slow, because it didn't. It's just sometimes easier to just go all out crazy gritting your teeth to the finish than it is to maintain a solid even effort at a particular pace. This is key for races, especially longer ones. You have to trust yourself at the outset that you'll hit your pace, rather than running like a maniac out the gate and hoping to end with a fast time. So, next time I run a 5k, I'm not running the first mile under 6:00! I get it!

And this new found wisdom helped me this morning. I headed to the park at 6:00AM to do this week's short tempo. It was already 83 degrees and humid when I got there (luckily, the park pervs aren't up that early because there was no way I was going to wear anymore clothing than necessary!) After my warm-up I headed out at what felt to be exactly the same effort level as last week's run. Well, instead of 6:39, I came to one-mile at 6:48! Yikes! The second wasn't 6:40, but 6:42. The third and fourth weren't 6:35 and 6:36, but were 6:45 and 6:45. I was a little freaked out after seeing the first split and started to pick it up, but it just didn't feel like the right effort level. I still had 3 miles to go and then I was going to have to do 6 x 100 in my cool-down* so I knew it would be idiotic to run anything other than the effort level I was prescribed. So, I maintained my pace and was satisfied when I was done even though it was slow. Sure, it's cooler to run fast times, but sometimes it's better to be a nerd and do the right thing. Control!


*I refuse to use the lingo of these modern hipster runners who call it a "warm-down." I'm old-school in my running jargon, and proud of it!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Seven!

At the gym I belong to a lot of people ask me for advice about running. My gym is at work and it's small so most people know that I run a lot, so I guess it makes sense to them to ask me. Whether or not they're wise to look to me for advice, is not for me to decide. Anyway, a lot of people ask me about how to deal with things like side-stitches, IT bands, and the like (not unlike the blog world!)

The answer, at least in my mind, to most of their questions is to ease into running, allowing the rigid old body to adapt to the abuse. Sure, humans were meant to run, but they were meant to run regularly (read: daily), not every other year or so! You can't expect a body that has adapted to sitting in a chair day in and day out to suddenly be capable of winning a 5k race. It just doesn't happen. It takes a long time--years. I'll be running regularly for 3 years straight on August 1, and my body is still adjusting. Somehow, me and my body have a deal worked out. It tells me it is struggling to adapt and I figure out a way to make it more comfortable.

This post is how I help the old bod to feel comfortable in its relatively knew role as a runner. The first thing I do is I stretch every day. I can't remember the last time I went a day without a full leg stretching routine. I stretch on vacation, I stretch at work, I stretch at home half-asleep in front of the tube before bed. I've stretched in the shower. I've stretched in the car, on picnic tables, on a concrete parking lot, on a blanket in the park, in the bed of mrp's truck. Somehow, I manage to squeeze it in. I stretch my quads, then my calves, then my hamstrings, then my IT bands, then my lower back, then my abductors, then my adductors, then my butt. Most days I do this routine--30 seconds each muscle group x 2--twice a day. Amazingly, with all this stretching, I'm not any more flexible than I was the day before. However, I'm not crippled, so there's the payoff!

The other thing I do, and I admit, much less consistently, is strengthening. When I was in school last year and had more free time, I used to go to the gym and lift weights twice a week. Well, now that I'm all grown up and in the working world that has long fallen by the wayside. It's hard for me to allocate my precious time to something I hate to do. Since school, I did manage to do Jane Fonda leg lifts to keep my hips strong and my it bands in check, but that's it. A couple of months ago, when I switched away from running during my lunch hour, I started attending an abs pilates class 2 x per week. Before I started that class I thought I was in shape. After the first class I realized I am a huge wussy. I look in better shape than most every body in there, but those ladies ab exercised me under the table! I had to take breaks every few reps, lest my back snap in two. But I've gotten in shape pretty quickly. I can hold a position even with the teacher trying to push me out of it. I can hang out in a plank position for hours. Well, actually a couple of minutes.

That brings me to my next point. My upper body is pathetic! When I do planks, my abs don't sag, but my upper arms and shoulders BURN! Yikes! I know I need to do something about it, but since I hate lifting weights I just kind of hoped abs class would have some tangential effect on my arms. Well, I opened my e-mail the other day and there was my upper body strength salvation. My coach commanded me to do calisthenics including--wait for this--push-ups! It's like I'm in the army! Today I started and I did 2 sets of 7 (yes 7!) whole push-ups. And the big-boy kind, not those wussy knees-on-the-ground chick push-ups (and yes, I see the irony in referring to other people as wussy when I'm bragging about doing 7 whole push-ups!) So, with all of this I fully expect my body to be a happy runner all summer.

Anyway, I wonder if, after watching me awkwardly work through my new calisthenics routine, anyone asks me for advice in the gym any time soon!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Sunday Morning on Monday Night

Last night's long run was one of those runs that reminds you why you do this in the first place. It's funny how all day long you can dread a run and then when you're out there running you feel heavenly, much to your great surprise!

After work, mrp and I headed down to Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Last summer, we'd go here to do long runs every Sunday morning and then go to Bob's for breakfast. Mrp is such a trooper, letting me drag him all over creation and suck up much of his time on a Monday night so I can follow through with my obssession. Heh. Ok, but really, he goes out of his way to facilitate my training and I appreciate it immensely. Anyway, at CVNP there is a wonderful towpath that I LOVE running my long runs on. It is the perfect surface and pretty flat and had mile markers (although many if not most are way off). Last weekend, the top of my right calf was acting up (the popliteus to be exact). This muscle is engaged on down-hills so I really wanted to avoid serious hillage last night, so the towpath was where I needed to go.

The first few miles were a little rough. I was running around 8:05-8:10 pace from the start. I felt kind of stiff and I'd look at my watch astonished that only 90 seconds had passed from the last time I looked. But, by about mile 3 or so I started settling into the pace and feeling pretty darn good. The sun was lowering in the sky and everything looked so golden and beautiful. Plus, the air was not hot or dense with humidity. It was slightly breezy and just perfect. Around 4.5 miles I passed a bunch of shirtless high school boys getting ready to get in a summer run. Even though I was clipping along pretty good relative for me, I knew it was just a matter of minutes before their swarm swallowed me up and left me in their (literal--it's dry out there!) dust.

After about a quarter mile, the first group of three went flying by. Then after about a half-mile the next group of three went by. It wasn't for another mile that the next couple of kids went by. Finally, at about a mile and a half, the last group of three went by. I noticed the groups of boys got less and less in shape--not that I was looking at them LIKE THAT, mind you. I just thought it was kind of funny (but not surprising) that the fastest were very lean and by the last group there was a little baby fat clinging to the middle. It was also kind of funny that after these last two groups passed me they must have slowed down because I started catching back up to them before I turned around. Nothing like a running lady to inspire young men to run a little faster!

As I made my way back, I was just feeling so nice. I admired the tall tassled corn in the field on my right. Then I admired the happy little duck family swimming in the sparkling river. As I made my way closer to the finish I saw a deer wading in the river along side some geese. Looked like they were all hanging out together. As I went along I got more and more excited about having such a good run, that before I knew it my splits were getting increasingly faster. I clipped off 7:40/7:30 pace for the last 3.5 miles and hardly felt tired when I was done. Last summer, that would have been a very hard push at the end of a long run where I would have finished huffing and puffing and counting the seconds until I could stop. This summer, it felt almost effortless and I didn't want to stop! Running is definitely something for which hard work pays off and that is something I really love about it.

After the run, mrp and I headed up to Bob's for some good eats and to pay our deepest respects to the man who makes all our breakfasty dreams come true. RIP Bob.

Monday, July 02, 2007

200 Meter Sandwich

Not much to say these last few days. Pretty ho hum in the running department. I traveled to Connecticut for a long weekend to visit some family I have there. It was a great time. A bunch of my family members met up for my cousin's high school graduation party. We always have fun together. My aunties, my sister, and I had a blast karaoking to everything from Baby One More Time, to 9 to 5, to Super Freak! It was a riot!

Other than that craziness, I got all the running I needed to get done while there. I headed out to a track on Saturday morning. I had a couple of miserable speed workouts in the beginning of the month so I decided to run 2 5ks in the next 2 weeks to run instead of the workouts. I was a little nervous that this one would suck too since I slept horribly the night before on a futon in my Aunt's living room next to my snoring, although still beloved, sister. It went just peachy. My targets were very easy to hit even in the oppressive late morning sun and a steady wind that seemed to be in my face regardless of which direction I was heading.

The workout consists of a 2 mile warm-up that includes 5x200 meters at current 5k pace (for me about 6:15 pace or about 48 second for 200 meters). This is followed by 5 x 1000 at 4:01 (~6:27 pace). What makes this workout hard is not the speed, but the very little rest between reps. I only get one minute to jog, swig some gatorade, or wipe the buckets of sweat off my forehead. Then it's back out for another rep. The first one was way too fast in 3:52. I figured it would be stupid and counter-productive to keep them this far below my tareget, so I corrected on the next one and did better with a 3:57. For the third, the wind picked up and I came in right on time in 4:01. The fourth was 3:58 and the last was 4:00.

I just get one minute after the last 1000 and then I have to start another set of reps. This time it's 5 x 200 in 43 seconds with just a 100 jog in between. I managed 42, 43, 44, 43, 43. Like I said, the taregets are nothing awe inspiring, but it manages to be a tough workout. But I actually enjoyed being back out on the track. I haven't run on a track since the beginning of January. When I run on the track, my mind has little games it plays to get through the reps. For 100's, I have a target for every 200. After each 200 goes by, I then focus on the next split I want to see. I always like the middle 200 because it's sort of this no-mans land sandwiched between 2 400's. I don't know why, but it's my favorite part of each 1000 meter repeat. Of course after all that I have to do a 2 mile cool down. Normally, I like to get off the track for my cool downs, but I had no idea where I was so I just jogged 8 boring laps before jumping back in the rental car to head on back to my aunt's house.

I still needed to do a 3 mile shake-out later in the day. I was hoping my relatives would go to my other aunt's house early so I could sneak in another run without anybody noticing. But nooooooooo. Of course they didn't and I was caught heading back out for a short jaunt. My relatives don't understand and of course accused me (semi-jokingly) of being obsessed or overly dedicated. Basically, they think I'm a total whack-job. I really am pretty normal. I just have a tight schedule and need to be disciplined and regimented to get everything done. I think I redeemed myself with the karaoke, though!

So, that's really all that's been going on around here. Now, I have to focus my attention back to planning that big event that is (most likely*) in less than 5 months! Oh, and tonight I have to do (hopefully!!!) my last weeknight long run for a while. I can't wait to get them back to Sundays!

*We have narrowed the date between 2 saturdays. We should probably pick one soon, huh?