runnerd excitement!

I’m EXCITED today! Let me give a quick run-down on the reasons why….

1.) I am meeting Adam Goucher and Tim Catalano tonight! And having dinner with them! So pumped. I’m such a nerd. They are coming to town for an event Saturday at 11 AM at the Princeton YMCA, where they will talk about their book Running the EdgeThe event is sponsored by a long-time customer of ours at the store, Tracy, and her fitness organization Bee Fit with Tracy. She graciously invited me to have dinner with them since we are partnering with her for the event! I was really disappointed when I learned that I cannot attend the actual event on Saturday because I have CPR training at the same exact time…and it is non-negotiable that I attend the CPR class on that particular day for reasons (also exciting!) that I will share very soon. Because of other very exciting plans on Sunday morning, I cannot work Sunday and therefore must work immediately after the class Saturday, or else I’d catch the tail end of the seminar at the YMCA. Phew. Anyway, I’m super excited to meet them both tomorrow evening, and I will try my best to keep any starstruck runnerdiness to a minimum (how do you do it all the time Megan?!). I suppose wine will help (or hurt?).

Speaking of the Gouchers, and runnerd status….

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2.) Kara Goucher did it! She signed with Oiselle!!! I had a feeling this was going to happen, with all the talk flying around (no pun intended) that she would follow in Lauren’s footsteps. In an interview with Competitor, she admitted to being turned down by Sally at first, then persuading her to come to a symbiotic, nontraditional deal. I thought this was especially interesting and speaks to the fact that she’s following her heart, and gut feeling, rather than a seven-figure offer (!!!). Although on a much smaller scale, this is the way I strive to make decisions in my own life, I believe that no matter the hardships and sacrifices I have to make along the way, staying true to myself and what I want and believe in will consequently be worth it if what I want is to live a happy and genuine life. So, kudos to Kara. Any decision that involves two or three rounds of tears and questioning one’s entire future is one that deserves the utmost respect.

3.) The Boston Marathon is one month from today!!! It’s starting to feel a little more real to me. Of course, I’ve entered that phase where I’m like, don’t do anything stupid, don’t do anything stupid all day every day, but I’m doing a pretty good job staying sane yet still training hard. My 15.5-mile run Sunday in between “long long runs” ended up being at a pace that was faster than I’ve been running for long runs – more on par with my long runs from the fall, which was nice. I went to a new chiropractor Wednesday, and it was a great experience. It was obvious I needed some adjusting, so I’m glad I was able to get in there and realign myself for the weeks to come…it’s nice to run the next day and not feel like I’m making anything worse! And, now that my specialist co-pay has somehow become $15 instead of $40…well, I just might be seeing a chiropractor at my leisure from now on. Cheers to that (and to being under 27 and my dad’s new job, I suppose?). I did two workouts this week, both of which felt really smooth. The second was a little rough because I had to alter my route (for 3 x 2 miles with 0.5 mi rest…same ~10 mi loop I did pre-Philly Half actually). More specifically, I got kicked off the towpath by construction workers. I was really pissed about this at the time actually, because getting off the towpath meant running on the side of a pretty busy road with a slanted, almost non-existent shoulder I never would have chosen to run on, ever. It also meant doing the last hard two mile stretch all uphill into the wind and in the sun as opposed to on a flat dirt path. Oh well. It was one of those workouts that made me stronger, I suppose. I ended up averaging 7:14 for the entire thing; much better than the 7:28 I ended up averaging when I did the same workout in early November. My fastest two-mile stretch was the middle one, probably because I was so angry at the guys on the trucks and also had to stop briefly to climb through bushes…13:19. The other two were “eh”: 13:49 mostly uphill and 13:59 all [unexpectedly] uphill. My recoveries and warmup and cooldown ended up being faster than normal, which made the entire run faster, 7:30-7:45 for those miles (oops?). In an effort not to get worked up again over the towpath thing, since I know the men were probably improving the path in some way, here’s a little PSA to drivers: move over a little more than you think you should. Runners are paranoid, and it may not be entirely their decision to run on certain busy roads. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, or just happens. They’re there. So, slow down and move over a little more so you don’t scare them half to death.

Part of the loop (downhill section) we did for our interval workout Tuesday. First time on a soft surface in sooo long!

4.) Long run plan for Sunday: 20.7 miles to Lambertville! You may recall that I ran to Lambertville (actually New Hope, PA, then back over the bridge) last February. It was one of my favorite runs of the year, and this year I’m doing the whole thing! It will also be the longest run I’ve ever done in training, and the longest run I’ll do until April 21. You bet I’m looking forward to this year’s recoverosas, but only as much as those Sourlands hills.

Image5.) Yoga + beer. Well, I’m not excited for this anymore because it already happened. But I was. Also, I found out it happens every Thursday night, so I suppose I could always go again if I ever find I’m lacking excitement in my life (not for awhile at this rate…). Last Thursday I attended a yoga class at River Horse Brewery in Ewing with friends. The yoga wasn’t the hardest, but  I was challenged to do some things I haven’t done in awhile, which was invigorating. I was able to do Bird of Paradise for the first time ever. I remember a couple years ago I tried and it didn’t make any sense at all; my legs just didn’t want to do that move. This time, it happened really naturally and that in itself was super exciting to me! (I didn’t get my leg straight up, but it was a start…marathon-training hamstring status, what can I say….)

Running friends! Jane was the one who told me about the event. As usual.

Running friends! Jane was the one who told me about the event. As usual. 

View from the "yoga studio."
View from the “yoga studio.”

They said they'll fill anything...waterbottles, pitchers....

They said they’ll fill anything…waterbottles, pitchers….

…and of course, I did sell the girl who poured us our samples her shoes before the Philly Marathon. Of course.

6.) Trade a movie for a song? As you may know, I get super excited over songs that often get stuck in my head during runs. I’ve been in a bit of a rut lately though. Any suggestions on what to listen to in preparation for my long run this weekend to call to mind if I happen to be alone in the countryside are much appreciated. In return, I will provide you with a stellar movie suggestion. This film has been referenced over and over by a regular group run attendee at the store, and he finally gave me a copy of the DVD when he learned I still hadn’t watched it yet. I ended up watching it on my bike trainer in my shed in the pouring rain the other night, and it was awesome:

Must see.

Must see. I f I knew how to write that in Italian I would. 

 That’ll do for my exciting news for now!

 

why a new running partner is like a first date

A few weeks ago, I did my 18-miler with a running friend I had never actually ran with alone. As I mentioned when I wrote about the run, we turned out to be great running partners. This got me thinking about what exactly makes a good running partner, or more specifically, a compatible running partner. The phenomenon makes me laugh, because it’s almost like going on a date. I don’t really “go on dates” often with people I just met, but the concerns and questions that float through one’s mind must be similar to running with someone new:

Will he/she like the course I mapped? 

Will he/she be mad that there are so many hills?

Will I get nervous to pick up the pace, and run slower than I would like?

Will I feel too slow, and run faster than I would like?

Will we run out of things to talk about?

How am I supposed to find things to talk about for that long?!

There’s nowhere to escape if I want to.

So many questions! There’s no use in thinking about them before the run either, because the only way to find out if it’s going to be okay is to actually start the run. Some people run exclusively by themselves because they don’t want to deal with any of the awkwardness and incompatibility that may go along with running with a partner. Others try to find running buddies as often as possible. To each their own. I’d say I’m somewhere in between. I definitely appreciate the time to think and do my own thing that a solo run provides. It’s also nice to not feel like a run needs to be scheduled or a route needs to be planned. At the same time, sometimes I really like scheduling a date and time to run with someone else, because it gives structure to the entire day, and also makes it easy to commit to a morning run. I also enjoy chatting for most of the run; I’ve had some really good conversations as well as come to some profound conclusions and ideas while talking to running partners. Group runs (upwards of four or five people) are a breed of their own – they usually fly by and almost all of the above questions are inapplicable. You can drop back, you can go ahead, you can be silent, you can say whatever random things you want. No one notices as much. Kind of like hanging out with a large group of friends. As far as pace is concerned, I find that I usually run faster my myself, unless I’m doing an organized workout like a tempo or intervals…then I’ll hang with whoever I’m running with as best as possible, or go ahead if I feel up to it.

After having ran with so many different people over my years as a runner, here is my proposed model for the Ideal, Compatible Running Partner (I’m talking one-on-one):

The Ideal, Compatible Running Partner…

1.) causes you to not look at your watch for several miles at a time,

2.) doesn’t make you answer questions that are along the lines of, so, what is your career plan for the rest of your life? At least, that’s how you interpret those kinds of questions,

3.) doesn’t judge you if you mention you stayed up (or out) late the night before,

4.) doesn’t follow you into the bathroom if you say you need to stop to go and have conveniently found a real bathroom,

5.) respects your choices in training, if that subject comes up,

6.) makes silences not feel awkward or need to be justified,

7.) doesn’t make you ask yourself all of the above questions mid-run,

8.) appreciates a good story, and yes, thinks all your stories told while running are actually good,

9.) makes you glad you didn’t run alone!

 

twenty mile fun: hills, trains, and chews

I am well on the other side of my first 20-miler of the year! As all marathoners know (gosh, I almost sound like I consider myself experienced…I don’t yet), getting up and over that hump is a big relief. If you can run one 20-miler without any (well, many) mental or physical roadblocks, it’s safe to say you are prepared for a marathon, if someone was like, Surprise! Run 26.2 in two weeks! What a good feeling. Speaking of “getting up and over,”

I took hills to a new level this weekend. The destination spot of the run can be seen at the very highest point on the above chart. It’s a part of the road I have only ever been via bike, and that whole extra loop in that territory was an area I was eager to explore. Pretty much everyone in the area knows exactly where I am talking about when I reference this hill and this road. It comes with a beautiful view – if you turn around at the top that is – and then another beautiful view less than a mile later.

Here’s a photo my friend took from almost the top of the hill, while biking in the fall:

And no that is not, nor will ever be, my bike. In case you were wondering.

The hill starts way before this, and then there’s the sharp turn you see in the picture. It goes past a stable…not the best smell to waft at that point. Just before the climb, I experienced something that had never happened before on a long run: I HAD TO STOP FOR A FREIGHT TRAIN. See, as I was approaching the base of the hill, I noticed two things: one, there was a herd of cyclists coming up behind me on the opposite side of the road, and two, there was a railroad crossing about 200 meters ahead. I thought, wouldn’t it be funny if a train came right now? So of course, on cue the bells start sounding and the gates came down. I reached the crossing just as the cyclists did. “Great timing, right?” I yelled with a laugh, and threw my hands in the air. While it would have been cool to chat with the cyclists, or better yet, see who was faster up the hill as soon as the gates went back up, I’ve heard stories about freight trains that take twenty minutes to cross, so I decided to run up and down the road. Luckily it was only a few minutes long. So, that was a first….

As soon as that loop was over, I headed to the more familiar stretch of the road, where the previous “biggest hill” is located. And did that one.

This is actually the view from the other side. The side I climbed is more gradual, but longer.

It’s pretty easy to tell where the big hills were….

I must give photo credit to the guys behind Hidden NJ. One thing you should know about me (if you haven’t realized it already…) is that I can’t get enough of learning the history behind places I frequent. Whether it’s photos taken inside a friend’s house from twenty years ago or a historic landmark I pass on a run, it excites me incredibly. I just discovered this site as I was searching for photos and spent way too long on it….If you want to learn about when East and West lines were drawn for New Jersey though, check it out here.

Back to the run. In an effort to experiment with something other than gels after suspecting they may be causing stomach distress (I think it actually was a stomach bug of sorts…but I still don’t want to stop during Boston!), I took along PowerBar Energy Chews. It was nice that I could have just one chew at a time, and spread them out over several miles. It was kind of strange to chew while running…believe it or not, it was my first time doing so. In the future, I think I’ll try the Clif Shot Bloks instead. The PowerBar chews were very, very chewy. There was no one to save me if I choked out there, just saying. I didn’t hydrate well because I didn’t want to carry a bottle…also could not find the bottle pre-run anyway…first sip of water was at the municipal building (this was planned, it was either there or my house) just before mile 18. Needless to say I downed two full glasses of Nuun when I was finished. Other than lack of water though, I have no complaints. I did the entire thing alone, and it wasn’t so bad. Much, much better than last year’s 20-miler, even though nothing really went wrong on that either. I felt fine all day and night after that – much less tired than after my 18-miler for some reason. All of this left me super relieved. Another conclusion drawn from both the long run and Tuesday’s hill loop interval workout: hills are way easier than they used to be, even last fall. Making hills the name of my game was such a good idea. Never looking back. I may be in a relationship with hills from now on.

My friend was in town, and fortunately we both agreed to do the best activity humanly possible right after my 20-miler: MAKE LOTS AND LOTS OF PANCAKES. With peanut butter, Nutella, and bananas. I made so many I had to actually save some for later. Got a little over-ambitious. :/

PANCAKES.

I have a long list of other things I want to write about very soon! I just wanted to write down the 20-miler recap so, you know, it actually happened. 😉

E. Murray Todd Half Marathon recap

I entered a race? Ran with a bib? Finished all 13.1 miles? Wow, that seems like a long time ago. I have strange memories of this race because the sick feeling/virus/plague that immediately followed took all focus off my legs and training otherwise for the rest of the week. I’ll spare the details, but I’ll just say that this basically felt like a 13.1-mile tempo workout, and it caused what I will hereafter refer to as the E. Murray Todd Virus (it’s like e. Coli…only…well, very similar actually. Ick).

20140302_105824First, I stated in my last post the following goal for the morning’s shenanigans:

 I’m not gunning for a PR, or even a PR effort, but rather a hard effort over 13.1 miles that will serve as a benchmark and confidence-booster for the rest of my training for Boston. It would be nice to run faster than I did on the somewhat hilly Caesar Rodney Half course last year, though.

So, spoiler: the race went exactly as I expected. This was nice. It was even and relaxed for the most part, but not so much so that I would be able to talk at regular intervals or anything. I warmed up almost three miles. It was kind of humid at the start. I ate a banana and a PowerGel when I woke up at around 6:40 AM and had nothing else but water and Nuun until the race, terrified of any acid reflux or other stomach issues (foreshadowing). I knew better than to start with my female 3:04 marathoner friend who was “not in shape,” because she actually was in shape and was definitely going way under 90 minutes (she did). As far as the hills were concerned, they were as I expected: nothing was flat, but every incline was less than what I run in training. I averaged right around seven minute pace for the first five miles, which started downhill and then ended up being a net uphill.

miles1thru5

I passed this guy wearing a black and yellow bodysuit who was clearly pacing a girl. Passing the girl was obviously the important part. The bodysuit was just odd. Since I’ve been doing five-mile tempos, the thought crossed my mind that these first five were a little slower than I ran those, but not too much, so I just had to extend that effort over the rest of the race. I felt like I wasn’t working as hard as I was at the end of those tempos.

The next five miles brought some hills, but I was right: none were as intense as the ones I do during training, and  I was able to maintain generally the same pace for those miles as the flat miles. What did happen in this stretch was my stomach decided to start acting up….you know, the way it has on every long run, yet I haven’t found a solution. It’s the kind of discomfort that sends your eyes darting from tree to fence to bush, wondering how much time you would lose if you stopped for a moment of relief. In case you haven’t been there: this is no way to run a race. It sends you through conflicting mindsets – if you slow down will it ease the discomfort? If not, should you just hammer it out? In short, it’s an awful feeling. I pressed on, as always, telling myself there’s no way in hell I’m pausing for that reason during Boston so I might as well practice now. Mile 10: insert the feeling getting even worse, a long uphill, hail, and wind. That was the split I’m not proud of, but to be honest, I didn’t even look at my watch when it beeped then. The focus was getting through without any disasters occurring.

miles6thru10

I passed a friend after the tenth mile heading into Thompson Park who was also having stomach problems. His mentality: “We have an entire 5k to go.” Mine: “Only 5k left!” My fastest mile was admittedly the eleventh, so I definitely had something left in the tank; the way my gut felt just made me debate whether or not I wanted to risk the aforementioned disaster. My last 5k was about 21:25.

last5k

The stats, which were much less important than visiting the bathroom post-race: Official time 1:32:09.5, average pace of 7:02, 62nd overall, 6th female, 1st F20-24.

I thought I did a pretty decent job passing women during this race; I passed three speedy-looking women throughout and didn’t get passed by any. HOWEVER, there was a woman who I was apparently gaining on throughout the race who I hardly even saw who finished ten seconds ahead of me for fifth female overall. Instead of giving separate awards to top three overall like most races, of course this race had to award the top five, so I just missed winning a sweet golden goblet by ten seconds. Oh well. I still got a cool plaque for first in my age group, and my speedy running buddy got third overall (her BF was second overall!).

The three of us from the Intervals group with our bling.

The three of us from the Intervals group with our bling.

20140307_211829

Up close.

So as I said, the aftermath of the race on my body was not pretty. It had nothing to do with my legs/muscles/etc., which is good. I recovered really quickly. It was a wake-up call for my pre-race nutrition though…I’m going to experiment with fuel that is NOT in gel form tomorrow on my 20-miler. The goal is no bathroom stops in Boston. If I can’t manage to get in a long run without one, how will I expect not to stop during the race? It was a frustrating week, that’s for sure. Back to the race though: I am happy with how it went. I know I was in shape to run faster. And I’m okay with that, I like that. If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be as confident for the big race, which is six weeks from now. 

Tell me though, do you have “porta potty vision” as I like to call the selective recognition runners have for porta potties on their runs? Any advice for me about what’s worked for you in avoiding this awful curse?!?

porta-potty-rental