the final countdown…

boston3daysGiven that I am leaving for Boston tomorrow morning and hope to get in a shakeout run before I leave, sleeping should really come before writing right now, but I would be remiss if I didn’t capture some of my excitement in these final days before the Big Day in writing.

I’ve been insanely busy and haven’t had time to share my awesome 19-miler last Sunday (the 6th): basically, I ran midday to mimic potential warm and sunny weather (okay, I just wanted to sleep in because it was the one day that week I could…), and decided that my final [very] long run would have to go through downtown Hopewell. I altered the route so that I would get a gradual uphill rather than downhill on Crusher Rd., a road that far exceeded my expectations. Having only remembered being on it in a car at night, I had no idea what beautiful views awaited me. Also on the run, I learned of a new bike shop opening soon in Hopewell called Sourland Cycle, and I found the exact location of a cool quarry-turned-swim club my college team had visited during preseason (aptly named the Quarry Swim Club). I consumed two Tri Berry Gus and 12 ounces of water on this run, and the method seemed to do me well. Farewell, Shot Bloks. Gels were not the cause of my unusual stomach distress, and therefore I will take them during Boston because they are way easier to carry. I averaged 7:47 for the hilly 19 miles, my fastest average yet this spring. I was pretty pleased with that, especially the fact that I finished the last couple miles at 7:28.

The weekly elevation check-in....

The weekly elevation check-in…I honestly think Garmin went a little crazy this day though, so there may be a couple errors.

While I am on the subject of hills, I found a site that previews what some of the vendors will have to offer at the expo, and apparently Brooks is selling THIS beauty:

Brooks-Boston-Marathon-Shirt_2I may just have to purchase it. The pointing finger is quite an open-ended question, however: at first glance, it seems like the statement refers to the one wearing the shirt…but is it really for a girl who convinces her running buddies (running/standing next to her) that hills are awesome as well? Both sound good to me. Expect me to wear this whenever I want to intimidate a new running partner (just kidding).

“Taper” week 1: I did one final hard workout last Thursday the 10th, because I couldn’t bear to start my taper in earnest until the weekend before….I warmed up two miles and did a five mile tempo, and out-and-back on the towpath. The intention was to keep it flat and even, but the wind coming off the lake had other plans. I hard to work much harder when I turned around after 2.5 miles to keep the same pace. Splits: 6:43, 6:40, 6:54, 6:52, 6:45 (average = 6:47). What was most interesting about the entire run was that I averaged 7:32 on my warmup and 7:24 on my two-mile cooldown, which was uphill, and I felt like I was taking it really easy after the tempo effort. Huh. I’ll take it. The next day I did a recovery trail run without my Garmin. I fell in a stream. Not going to lie, it was refreshing. I’m weird. This weekend was a twelve-miler with the usual hills…while it felt too warm (it was 64) and somewhat tiring, it felt really short, so that was a good sign.

Taper week 2: I was a good girl this week, in the world of tapering. Shocker! It helped to be working on my feet 50+ hours…I didn’t feel like running much. I did a really easy 6.5 miles Tuesday afternoon and then some pickups yesterday which felt amazing and left me with 5.3 miles at an average of 7:18.

A year since 4/15/13: Tuesday was an emotional day. All the news reports and the coverage on the memorial ceremonies and such on Boylston Street just brought back memories of last year: how I saw it everywhere I went, and how everyone asked me where I was, what I heard, what I did, how I felt. How I felt the need to read everything about it for some reason, and how I felt unsafe on the crowded streets of my town for a couple weeks. Now that it feels more like springtime here in New Jersey, the memories of those feelings post-Boston are easier to recall and feel again, and that’s a little hard to think about. I’d reflect more, but instead I’ll announce that on this past Tuesday, my aunt Diane and I ended up sharing our experiences last year and our thoughts on running this year with a reporter for CBS Philly, and the article will be run tomorrow (Saturday)! I’ll post a link via some means of social media, but for now I’ll direct you there for what I have to say about all that.

BOSTON 2014: I am so, so, so excited. All I’m nervous about is logistical stuff about race day. I trust that everything I’ve done from January 1 until now has 100% prepared me for this race. I hadn’t decided yet, going into this post, if I wanted to publicly share my specific goals. I probably wrote a long time ago that I definitely want to break 3:20, but that’s old news now. I’ve started to have some more confidence that I can actually surprise myself even more, and so I think I’m just going to leave it at that. I do have a plan, but the plan mostly entails responding to the race itself – the course, my body, the energy, the crowds, the magic. For some reason I’m really not stressing over it. So, track me to see what happens! I am Bib # 13857 (emphasis on my lucky 13!), and for text alerts, text my number to 345678.

On that note, I should stop listening to my “Boston Pump Up” playlist so I can actually go to sleep.

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Tale of two workouts: lemonade & an audience

During what was probably simultaneously the busiest, hardest, and generally most awesome week of my training thus far, the week that just ended, I ended up doing two workouts. I  mentioned two posts ago that I was leaving to do the “Michigan workout.” Well, no such luck. For the second year in a row, something went wrong and I didn’t end up doing it, meaning I haven’t actually done the workout since March 2011. Someday. I swear. Anyway, it wasn’t the end of the world. The track area was completely occupied because of a lacrosse game, and there was too much traffic to drive to another track. I had also already warmed up two miles to the track. I took control over the situation (there was a group of four) and decided we should do mile repeats on the neighboring roads instead. We did a trial loop together to figure out a good mile to use, and luckily got it on the first try (my sense of distance is getting good, what can I say). We basically just ran until our watches said 1.00 anyway, because we were all wearing GPS watches. We alternated directions and there were rolling hills the whole time, especially during the mile where I didn’t make a turn and improvised. Yeah that’s right, I got lost and made up the loop myself. It happens. I could tell I felt pretty tired though, almost moreso than after the 21-miler the week before (I only did 16.5 Sunday), so I chose to just do four repeats and then cool down two miles: 6:17, 6:31 (the one I accidentally made super hilly…), 6:21, 6:28. It was hard to compare the effort to track times, but I’d say I would have been hitting 6:08-6:14 if I had been on a track. Overall I finished feeling like I gave a pretty good effort but felt a bit flat. Being my typical corny self post-workout, I exclaimed that these were the “lemonade miles,” because we made lemonade out of lemons (the lacrosse players occupying the track). Ha, ha, ha.

 YASSO 800s

I don’t know where the fatigue went from Tuesday’s workout, but it was gone by Wednesday night and I was itching to run so much that I did a rare after-work run in the dark around 8:00pm, averaging 7:36 and feeling smooth. Maybe I was partially just mad that my bike tube was flat when I went to ride it in the morning. ( 😦 ) Regardless, the week was not over yet. Friday, I had a marathon of a day that included a 6AM-12PM work shift at one place and a 3PM-7PM shift at the other, giving me less than three hours – more like less than two – to do something worthwhile, running-related. Not to nap, who would think of that idea?

I was torn between a six-mile tempo on the towpath at 6:35-6:45 pace or Yasso 800s. Then on Wednesday night, I saw online that Jenny had beasted her Yasso 800s and it inspired me so much that I knew I had to choose them for my workout too. I got excited to see how my times this year would compare to last year. It was a wet and windy afternoon. I headed to the University track having recently remembered that there was an evening track meet there. A few teams had already arrived, and it looked like people were doing drills. Not many, though. Normally I would leave because I a.) don’t like to be in anyone’s way, I really should work on that because sometimes I don’t even recognize my own rights to be places/etc., and b.) I would hate it  if a coach told me to get off the track mid-workout…especially during Yassos, when I would not be stopping at all. Luckily, I took the risk and everything was totally fine. The meet didn’t start for several more hours, and hardly anyone was running on the track for more than 100 meters, and not even in lane one. Phew (I can only make lemonade so many times in one week).

Last year, I averaged 3:22 or 3:23. I remember there were a couple times I stopped after a hard 800. I was not feeling mentally 100% that day. This year, I did not stop once, or even want to. I know there are different versions of Yassos out there, so for clarity, I did 8 x 800m with 200m recoveries at a not-super-slow pace. I could have done 10 but I was short on time and I thought 8 was sufficient since I did the mile repeats two days before. The results….

So, I averaged ~6:24 pace (I could’ve sworn I calculated a 3:10 average, oops) for the 800s and 8:01 pace for the 200m recoveries, which I consider “normal pace.” I’m pretty sure I can credit the latter faster-than-“recovery” pace to the fact that 1.) There were a few dozen people around me watching, and if I ran them really slow I’d look lame for using the track if someone didn’t see me do the fast portions, and 2.) I was afraid I’d get asked to leave at any moment and wanted to get the workout done as quickly as possible without cutting it short. Sounds ridiculous I know, but hey – there is apparently something to be said for having an audience (of probably very good athletes) during a workout! Overall, it went by really quickly and I felt really good throughout. There was a strong headwind on the backstretch, but just as I made the turn after, I was almost being pushed by the wind, so it was both my friend and foe. While I’m not one to say that Yasso 800 times = Boston times 100%, it was a good workout regardless and it made me more confident in the way any good workout does. One more stat that’s pretty cool to think about: the workout totaled (I know Garmins are a little off on the track, but whatever) 5.02 miles in 33:09, 6:37 average pace. It might be fun to run one of the big five-mile races at the shore early this summer….

Girls on the Run!

The next day was my first day coaching Girls on the Run! It was pretty awesome. The highlight was a literal goose chase: a dog jumped in the pond to chase a swimming goose, and the girls freaked out and started sprinting the path around the pond chanting, “get the goose!” At this rate, they are going to learn the importance of pacing a lot earlier than is in their curriculum. The incident channeled my inner 9-year-old, because I thought it was just as hilarious as they did and proceeded to tell friends about it as I’m sure they did (and, I just told you all now…). I think it will be an interesting adventure for both me and the girls. 🙂

I forgot to take a picture (there are pretty yellow flowers among the brown branches on the little island!), but here's one of the pond we run around (also for Intervals!).

I forgot to take a picture (there are pretty yellow flowers among the brown branches on the little island!), but here’s one of the pond we run around (also for Intervals!).

Next, a recap of my final [really long] long run before Boston on Sunday, a day that ended up having an itinerary mimicking those in my book of hypothetical Best Days Ever (which only exists in my head as of now, if you were wondering).

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….

Image

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!

 

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel…I mean…the shoulder on the side of the road.

My theory of good weeks following bad weeks proved itself valid, as I had a great week of training last week. In my world, the week begins on Monday, not Sunday, a factor that would have made the previous statement untrue otherwise, since my long run Sunday fell significantly short of pleasant. It was only 13.5 miles though, so I told myself it was better to have that run be sub-par and look forward to a solid 18-miler the next weekend.

I miss you, track!

I miss you, track!

To avoid the issue I battled the week before when I tried to do a track workout, I chose to do a workout earlier in the day Tuesday rather than at night (er, at 6:30pm…same thing). As I feared, the track was not shoveled after the snow we got at the end of the previous week. Luckily, the snow had been completely cleared from the neighboring turf field, so I took advantage of its unoccupied state and did 5 x 3 laps, or 1255 meters, with about two minute rests. It was so windy, so that definitely was an added factor, as well as the slightly soggy surface. I ended up averaging 6:30 pace for the intervals, granted my GPS was accurate while running in a square, which wasn’t as fast as I would have liked; however, I got out there and did it, and after the week before, that was okay with me. I was also very grateful to have the turf available for intervals when the track was covered in snow.

Thursday was a workout I was both looking forward to and anxious about…clearly, signs of a workout that was going to be worthwhile. I wanted to do another five mile tempo, maybe even six, but I did not want to do it on roads with shoulders covered in ice and snow, with cars forcing me to break my stride and jump to the side every few minutes. A coworker had told me she did a tempo run in Hillsborough, a couple towns north of here, and there were huge shoulders and no traffic. I didn’t have to be at work until later that day, so off to Hillsborough I went. It helped that it was almost fifty degrees with full sun: short sleeves and shorts, hooray! I will spare the details of how the few errands I had to do before this run caused me to almost pay a frozen yogurt shop worker to use the bathroom as a locker room. It happens. That is all.

I mapped what I thought looked like a good course ahead of time, and wrote the turns on my arm, like so:

I failed to write one road/turn here, which made me improvise a bit at one point, but it was all good. I used the first two miles as a warmup: 7:46, 7:48. At mile 3 I picked it up to tempo pace and held it for the next 5 miles. There were some gradual inclines and declines, and a steep, short hill during the second tempo mile, but for the most part the course was much, much flatter than places I normally run. Splits: 6:52, 7:10, 6:56, 6:51, 6:41 (34:30, 6:54 avg). I thought about going for a sixth mile, but instead decided to do a recovery mile, then do 4 x 60 seconds hard, 60 seconds easy, then cool down back to the start from wherever I was at that point. This ended up being pretty fun. The easy mile was 7:42, and then the on-off minutes and cooldown looked like this:

I was pleased that my “recovery pace” after the tempo was around 7:30; it felt very comfortable. Overall, I managed to run 10 miles in 72 minutes, for an average pace of 7:12. Although my tempo two weeks before was faster, I averaged an overall faster pace for this run and a farther overall distance, and this route had considerably fewer downhills. It was one of those runs that left me with rekindled confidence as well as a killer runner’s high. I put the windows down on the way home (for about five miles until I was freezing of course) and blasted this awesomeness:

I usually match…but when I don’t, I really don’t (not shown: traffic-cone orange shirt).

Brooks Transcend group run

That evening was our group run with Brooks. I was thinking about doing two miles really easy in the Transcend, but decided against it since a lot of people ended up showing up and so I didn’t feel bad for not participating. I still have yet to test out the shoe, but I recently read Jesica’s thorough review on rUnladylike, so I will direct you there for now! What I did learn was what astronaut ice cream tastes like. I can’t say it’s better than real ice cream, but I’m not even a big ice cream fan, so what do I know.

Saturday was the first long run in my training that felt like a legitimate long run. That is, not a run I would do if I were not training for a marathon. The plan was 18 miles, and I luckily found a buddy for the entire thing. I decided to be smart and not do much besides go to a yoga class and eat dinner the night before. I was already multiple steps ahead of my first super long run last year. In short: this was the shortest 18 miles I had ever run. We talked the whole time, and made for excellent matches in terms of pace, lack of awkwardness, etc. This whole phenomenon makes me laugh when I think about it, because it’s almost like going on a date. I just wrote so much more about this and then took it out, which means…separate post to come – subject: why a first run is like a first date! But back to the run itself: I keep mapping similar things, yet adding on an extra corner or two as the run gets longer. This time, I took us down a road I’ve always been curious about, called Aunt Molly Road. Come on, don’t lie. You’d be curious too. It turned out to be a very interesting stretch of road, including an unpaved section, a farm, a lot of trees, and a vulture sitting atop a telephone pole. Curiosity satisfied indeed. Of course I added the infamous hill in reverse as well…and my running buddy still wants to run with me again sometime. I think. So that’s good. We stopped back at the car for water but that was at 16.5 miles or so…not really necessary but I took a few sips and we did a small loop for 18 (18.33, actually). In terms of fuel, I was also going to have a PowerGel on the run, and one for “breakfast.” I was hungry when I woke up, so I had both for “breakfast.” Oops. The good news is, I didn’t feel like I needed it on the run at all, and felt like I could have kept going. Summary: I feel way stronger than I did at this point in marathon training the first time around (last year). Long miles feel easier. Big hills feel easier. There is very little thirst, or bonking, or slowing of pace. I was excited to have completed this run, and am simultaneously looking forward to the 20-milers ahead of me, because I know they’ll just make me even stronger, especially mentally to be honest. [AND THE SNOW IS MELTING! BIG DEAL. SO EXCITING.]

What I did with my wet clothes after the run...sometimes you've got to be creative....

What I did with my wet clothes after the run…sometimes you’ve got to be creative….

Oh, and let’s not forget my weekly elevation report:

(Watch got screwed up, aka I forgot to restart it for awhile, hence the cut-off.)

So, I’m already well into the week after everything I just wrote about…and contrary to the pattern that developed before, it’s been quite alright! The E. Murray Todd Half Marathon is this Sunday, March 2nd. A couple weeks ago I was feeling pretty underprepared, but now I’m actually excited. The course is rolling the whole time:

emurraytoddelevationchartHowever, it looks like the hills are less massive than the ones I’ve been running. I’m looking forward to putting the work I’ve done so far – and yes, I finally feel like I have actually done some hard work – to the test and seeing what I can do. 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 while I’m not going to state an overall time goal, I will say that I would be content maintaining around a seven-minute-mile pace effort, or slightly faster.

I remember my first workout…

First, thanks for all your support in response to my last post! It means a lot to me to have more people out there believing in me. Also, fun fact about that fortune I posted: I spotted it on the ground during my warmup before a turkey trot in 2012…on my cooldown after the race I was too curious not to go grab it.

I ran [long] hill repeats with two friends this morning. The experience really got me thinking about something…aside from my announcement that there should be a community website for runners to go and color-code roads and sidewalks on a map after a snowfall, indicating what’s been shoveled and what hasn’t (that’s almost better than the porta-potty network idea, I think). Anyway, one friend ran competitively in high school and college like me, and now runs marathons. The other found running, running races at least, later in life and now balances training with a very busy family life. So, the workout idea I had in my head was pretty natural to me; I had done things like this a dozen times before: warm up about two miles, run hard up a medium-grade hill 0.4-0.6 mi. in length five or six times, and use the downhills as recoveries, then cool down a mile or two.

This hill is in the middle of the Princeton Half Marathon course…hence the photo of so many runners on it at once.

Long story short, this is what we did, but I was reminded during the workout that piecing together something like that might come very easily to me and my one workout partner, but not as easily to someone who was not introduced to competitive running (meaning, training to run a race for which you have a time goal in mind) by a coach at an early age. I seem programmed to use some of the same things I did in high school and college when it comes to workouts, such as two mile warmups and cooldowns, an ab workout and stretching immediately following a cooldown instead of another time during the day, not doing “workouts” two days in a row, not lifting two days in a row…the list goes on. To be fair, I guess the things that have stuck with me are things that worked for me. I don’t run my long runs the day after a race anymore, because that doesn’t feel like a good idea to me most of the time. I don’t do 2-3 mile runs in the morning if I’m doing a hard workout at night, in fear of too much mileage. These were some other things my teammates would be advised to do sometimes. I’m lucky to have had good coaches who understood my bad luck with injuries; I don’t blame them at all for the times I got hurt.

It all got me thinking about how other people started to grasp the concept of a “workout.” Did it just make sense to you? Did you look up workouts specific to your race distance online? Seek out a coach? A friend who seemed to have experience? I think runners on both sides of the continuum can learn from one another: there are probably things ingrained in a former high school/college runner that need to be given a dose of variety, and there are things that a runner new to the whole training-to-race thing is missing and can find within a typical college cross country team workout schedule. Then there is the concept of a sport-convert: the marathoner who played soccer (or another sport) all her life without once touching the track aside from the preseason fitness test. This also has given me a different perspective on the newbie runners I talk to everyday. I fitted a collegiate swimmer for running shoes yesterday; he told his sister he would train for the Disneyland Half Marathon in August with her (what a nice brother!). A “half marathon” to any college or high school runner doesn’t sound daunting: increase the length of your tempos and the number of intervals you are already familiar with, maybe increase your long run by a mile or two at the max, run the race. To imagine myself as the runner I was when I started, however…running 2-3 miles a day for fitness and not knowing how fast I was going at all…or to imagine that all my workouts had been done in a pool and I was in shape for an entirely different sport…well, a “half marathon” doesn’t sound so easy anymore, I guess.

I’m glad I had such a gradual transition to marathon training…but tell me, what was yours like? What was the first faster “workout” you ever did, and how did you go about choosing it? 

It just occurred to me before I hit “Publish” that I might have evidence of my first track workouts in spring of 2006 in a folder a foot away. Success! Check it out:

march 2006

The in-between season (and Santa is real…)

I hardly ever have “in-between seasons” in terms of training. Why? Well, I’m usually injured, and that takes the place of an in-between season. So, I’m either “getting back” from an injury, training and training well, or I’m injured. After the New Jersey Marathon, I thought I would finally have an in-between season, when I could rest when I felt like it, and run when I wanted to. Less than three runs into this period, I hurt my IT band…so that was that. I’m back at that place again: my goal race is over (though I’ve done some speed workouts and raced a 5k since then…oops?), the next race on my plate will be the biggest of my life to date, and I want to do everything in my control to train 100% healthy for it, as I did throughout the fall and for my first marathon.

I’ll be the first to admit it: I don’t know how to have an in-between season. Or rather, I’m pretty bad at it. I had a plan to treat the Philly Half like it was a marathon, to ward off any injuries since I was doing so well in that department. Then, start running whenever I felt like it, and cross train. I only followed that plan for less than a week. Why?!?!

Well, here’s what I did instead that does not follow the plan at all, and why:

Helped pace a friend to a 10k PR

The Saturday following Philly, I went to a run at 7 AM with a group I normally don’t run with, just because it usually involves a lot of stopping, and slower running than I prefer even on easy days. When one member of the group announced he needed to do a tune-up “race” at around 7:20 pace, and others were joining him, I thought it would be a great opportunity to finally run with everyone. Why should I say no because I’d just done a half, when others who had ran the full (or three fulls this fall…guy is nuts) were going? Insert peer pressure, exhibit 1. The route he chose was pretty hilly, and I mainly just ran right with him, or slightly ahead of behind. When he kicked it in, I didn’t follow. So at least I was good about that. My legs were still tired and I had a “looking forward to actually recovering” mentality going on. Overall, it was fun to help a friend and I’m glad I did it.

Ran with a new, fast group

A friend sent me a message following the half, inviting me to join an “enclave” of runners in my area for runs. Since I had a friend coming to visit, I had off work, and I didn’t think the PI workout scheduled would help me prepare for the 5k Thursday, I decided to skip the PI workout and go to one of these runs at 3:30 the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. It was cold and rainy, and I ended up doing a nice 8.3-miler with one other girl from New Brunswick (who ran a 3:06 marathon debut in October). We had some good chats and warmed up to average a pace of 7:45, a pretty solid medium-length run with rolling hills. I think it will help me to run with fast runners as I train for Boston. More on this later, but I almost have an overwhelming amount of training-partner resources becoming available to me for the winter and spring right now….I definitely need to look at all my options when the time to set a plan gets closer and take advantage of every single one. Not many runners can say this, and I know I am lucky. Back to the run…I have no pictures from this run because my hands went numb. I will say that I wore my Oiselle Flyer Jacket from Hood to Coast…and it was the perfect weather for it.

Seattle-20130822-02376Insert peer pressure, exhibit 2: these runs are happening weekly, and everyone seems to be training hard despite having raced a marathon or half recently. How do I know if my body has truly adapted to training and won’t fail me like it used to on any random day? I don’t. I know it’s better to be careful until after the holidays, when I should start training for Boston (on fresh legs). It’s really cool to be invited to run with 3:0x marathoners and feel like our training paces are similar. It’s inspiring and motivating to think that maybe my body is finally making sense, and I can do what they do at last: reach 40 mpw, run more than one faster workout a week, etc. But if it’s not ready yet, I can’t risk it. I’m having trouble differentiating between listening to cues from history versus listening to cues from my body, and knowing what’s best in the long term to run as fast as possible. Perhaps in normal jargon this is the issue of overtraining vs. undertraining, on a personal basis?

Ran PI workouts + fast 300s

I went to the workout last Tuesday night. I thought about why I shouldn’t go: I should still be resting in the “in-between season.” I thought about why I should go: I wanted to. It was as simple as that. I missed it, and I’d rather be running fast around a track on a Tuesday night than anywhere else. So, I went. We did 4 x 2000m. I thought it would be a good goal to try to hit 8:00-8:07 for 2000m, or 6:24-6:30 pace. My first one was 8:14, bleh. I didn’t want to leave with a sub-par workout effort, post-“season” or not, so I managed to run 8:02, 8:02, and 7:56 for the remaining three intervals. That was better. The cooldown back to downtown was a peculiar experience, as I somehow got colder and colder as the two miles went on. Weird. Peer pressure, exhibit 3: running fast is fun. 

On Thursday, I wanted to run 4 x 300 very fast in preparation for the 6th Annual PI Mile (which is tonight!). It was warm-ish and humid, and after running about 4.5 miles as a warmup, I stopped at the track and ended up running the 300s in just a sports bra…in December. So humid. Anyway, I have hardly had good workouts on this particular track for whatever reason, but I was shooting for 60 seconds per 300. I gave myself as minute rest of walking/slow running. I felt very, very good on these 300s! As in, smooth and fast. I actually felt fast, like I wasn’t just a “marathoner.” I ended up running 60, 60, 58 high, 57 high/58 low. I considered running even more 300s, I was having so much fun, but I decided to save it and run back. The cooldown was slow and sluggish – funny how that works. Self pressure, exhibit 4: now I think I could be “fast.” Oh dear. 

Explored a new trail

It isn’t really “new,” but it’s improved. I checked out the Lawrenceville-Hopewell Trail on Saturday. I thought I’d get off the roads like I used to, during the “in-between season.” It was pretty fun, though I was tired and just didn’t feel like running a full 8 miles like I thought I would (so I didn’t; I ran 7.4), which almost never happens. I wrote all about the experience  (as well as some cool history about the area) on our store page on Run.com, so you can read about it here.

Ran in the first snowfall

It snowed for real in NJ on Sunday. I wanted to run in it! So I did. Back-to-back days of 7+ miles, not my normal schedule. I probably should have only done 3, but I started from a location from which I would need to run farther to run anywhere fun.

This brings me to today. The PI Mile is tonight. After the 300s, I think I’ve got it in me to go pretty fast. My goal is always a year-best time…since I hardly ever race a mile. This year, that would put me at sub-5:49, which I ran at TCNJ (a week before the marathon…) in April. I do think I have the potential to dip under 5:40, but we’ll see what happens. The first matter of business will be a non-traditional warmup…because you see, it currently looks something like this outside:

I have no idea how long it takes to shovel the entirety of lane one of a track, but that is what I’ll be attempting to do soon. I also brought spikes with me. Might as well do it right…. [My left foot is feeling slightly weird, as of yesterday (a day I didn’t actually run). Hoping, wishing, praying it’s not a stress fracture. I haven’t had any pain yet, or felt it running, but this is a glimpse into my paranoid mind, if you were wondering….]

*    *    *    *    *    *   *

Last but not least…this is entirely unrelated, but I should announce it as a follow-up to my last post: SOMETIMES, SANTA IS REAL. As you know, on Thursday night I had officially accepted the fact that I was unable to do Ironman 70.3 Princeton next September. I couldn’t spend $300 on it on December 16th; it just wasn’t practical. On Friday, something ridiculous happened. I was not expecting it at all. Thanks to the generosity of two friends, I now have the means (via a gift card) to register for the race. I was so surprised and happy I was practically crying. What an amazing gift. So, I still need to register and officially get into the race, but I am registering for the Princeton Half Ironman on Monday at noon. Scream with me. AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! I still can’t believe that happened.

Questions for you: Am I doing the “in-between season” all wrong? How do you handle running peer pressure? Should I run when I want to, or make myself hold back? Have you ever shoveled a track (wish me luck…)? 

costumes, headlamps, and a little more on writing…

My first order of business going into the weekend was Halloween, as I mentioned previously. It did not disappoint. In fact, now that the real Halloween is still to come, I’m quite concerned about how fun it will actually be. Probably not nearly as much as round one. Anyway, I’ll post a costume picture so you know what the final result was.

The rest of the weekend was pretty great, and it included a 14-mile run on Sunday before work. A few things about the run….It was hilly. I don’t know why I mapped a route with steep climbs at mile 2 and mile 11, but that happened. The reward for the first was the scenic Mountain View Rd., which Kate showed me back in February. It did not disappoint. I was only planning on running 13 miles, but it turned into 14 due to a bathroom excursion (it was locked! What a tease!). It was so nice to enjoy a long run without having to worry about a race; the Perfect 10 was two weekends prior, and the Runner’s World 10k was last weekend. It’s like too many parties: there is definitely a limit; sometimes I just need a solid, steady long run on which I don’t care about pace at all. I wore my Garmin but turned off the tones. The result was an average pace of 7:51. Looking back later, my splits vary quite ridiculously, but that was due to the sudden elevation changes, I think (I went from a 8:16 twelfth mile to a 7:16 thirteenth mile!). It was finally cold enough to warrant gloves (46 degrees)…but not cold enough for me not to sweat profusely through a short sleeve shirt and shorts of course.

Headlamps on the track

I used this for my warmup and cooldown for the first time….clipped it to my tank top/bra in the back. I didn’t feel it at all and I felt safer!

I know it sounds like it sometimes, but I don’t always have an incredible run. My interval workouts aren’t always perfect, and I don’t always have the mental stamina when I set off to the track or all throughout the workout. On Tuesday, I had off from work. I could have done a workout in the daylight at any time. I could have done an easy run, because I had slight ITB paranoia after Sunday’s run (spoiler: I’m fine now). But I went to the intervals practice to meet the group. And I am so glad I did. On my cooldown, I asked myself, why was I ever considering not going? We all brought headlamps, and we were little bouncing beams of light bobbing around the track, for 12 x 400m. I had no idea what pace I was running when we started, since it’s always hard to judge depth perception and whatnot. I came through in 84 seconds, and thought that was a little fast. Then I hit 84 again. I strung a few 85s in a row, hit 86 just once, then steadily ran 85 seconds for most of the remaining quarters, with one or two more 84s, and an 81 closing lap. Conclusion: I’m pretty certain it was my fastest 12×400 workout ever, especially at that effort level, and that workout was a weekly staple during high school track. Any time I break through a barrier like that, no matter how minute in the scheme of things, it makes me happy. 

Headlamp on the track: not so bad.

Speaking of happiness, now that running is finally loving me back after all these years, it’s becoming the only time I truly feel 100% strong and confident in my ability to plan, and execute that plan. Sometimes I think about other things when I’m running and that statement applies, sometimes it applies to just…more running. Either way, as I wrote about as a tangent in my RW 10k race report, I have been loving writing. Running and writing have been the two things lately that just make sense, and make me feel organized and in control and accomplished and happy. The fact that they can go hand-in-hand is nice, because basically, I can write and write, and then I can run out all the things there are no words for. 

There are, inevitably, things I want to write about that aren’t blog-worthy. At least, public blog-worthy. I used to write in a journal every single day…until a day when I didn’t want to recap my life, or think about it any more than I had to. When I finally got over that, I “caught myself up” on everything, then immediately got tangled in crazy confusion again and had no time to write. I could really use it now though.

So tell me, if you’re still reading, do you keep a journal? Are there journals online that aren’t public, so you can access it anywhere and not lose what you write? (I thought I was more of a handwritten person until I started this blog…typing’s not so bad anymore.) 

I changed the end of this post’s title to “a little more on writing.” It said “non-running crises” before. Dramatic much? But that’s just the thing: why not be dramatic? It makes life interesting. I say “a little” because there is more to say/ask/ponder about this later.

Running lately

I have had some noteworthy long runs and workouts lately that I have failed to write about, mainly because I have had other running-related news to share that has been a bit more engaging than writing all about myself! (See: Perfect 10 Miler course preview, Savannah trip…and I guess I thought it was imperative to show you my t-shirts, huh.)

Let me take a step back…

September 22 long run: I ran twelve miles as my long run this week, and had some good company. I mapped a somewhat engaging route, taking us down to the towpath, turning right, and continuing farther than I have been in quite some time. We got off the towpath a couple miles down, taking a road all the way out until it intersected with a common, hilly running route. All if this formed a big loop, with nothing repeated twice. It was a lovely, 64-degree sunny morning, and I could think of nothing else I’d rather be doing. The longest stretch of time during which I wasn’t talking was probably five or ten seconds, making this run certainly classified as “conversational.” It was a notable long run for me because of how the stats compared to this fact.

Sometimes it’s not the races, or the speed workouts or tempos, but the ordinary runs that are the runs that boost us to a new level of confidence. I definitely could run Boston at that pace was the first thought that came to mind. Heck, I was talking the entire time. I wasn’t exactly well-prepared for the run, sleep-wise, or hydration-wise. But it was totally fine, and easy. And I averaged 7:36. So while 7:36 for 12 miles isn’t super fast by my standards, I still think it was my strongest “normal long run” to date given how I felt and the fact that I wasn’t concerned about my pace, and that made me happy. So did the Starbucks protein fruit smoothies we got immediately afterwards, after salivating over the thought of water and/or fruit juice the last two miles (little did I know, this smoothie would become a weekly tradition…).

Note: This was my first run in my new North Face Better Than Naked Singlet, which took me way longer to buy than it should have. New favorite shirt – I’ve been digging TNF lately.

September 24 PI workout: The workout two days after this was one I actually came up with: 2400-1600-1200-400-400 meters on the track. This was a good one because it started with a distance long enough to need to conserve some energy and find a good rhythm, then a “mile” because it’s always nice to have a mile split, a similar interval but a little faster, and then two much-faster laps. I ended up doing a third 400, and I’m not really sure why. I guess I felt I had more in me…and that wasn’t the best feeling post-last-400. I started it with some runners aiming to go slower, as their pacer of sorts, then decided to just speed up, why not. My splits were: 9:36 (6:24 pace), 6:14, 4:38, 1:24, 1:20, 1:23.

This is a pic of the track we've been using for workouts...this was taken during an all-comers meet in June, though...hence all the people and the warm sun....

This is a pic of the track we’ve been using for workouts…this was taken during an all-comers meet in June, though, hence all the people and the warm sun….

October 1 mile repeats: The first PI workout of this month was a bold one: 5 x mile. There was some debate over if it was 5 x 1600m or 5 x mile, so we (my sub-group anyway) ended up doing the first one as a full mile and the rest as 1600m. I was feeling pretty tired going into this due to the insane amount of time I spent in a car the weekend before, plus the draining Monday I had following that. I wasn’t really sure what my goal should be going into it, but I decided I would be happy if a.) I executed the workout better than I did in the spring, and b.) I averaged around 6:17 (ultimate goal 5k pace if I were to race one all-out right now, especially on a track).

The results:

apriloct

Note: 6:23 mile = ~6:21 1600. So, I averaged 6:19 in April and 6:16 in October. A small difference…but I did it in a much better way.

This day for me also included a 1.94-mile warmup and cooldown to and from the track, at about 7:49 average pace, bringing my total mileage to almost 9. This is the kind of Tuesday I would like to have. While the easy miles aren’t necessarily quality miles, it does allow me to get them in, and I think feeling strong in the last mile or so (finished at 7:21 pace) of a cooldown post-hard workout does actually benefit you.

I’ve already shared this past Sunday’s run – it was the course preview for Sunday. I got in seven miles on trails Tuesday instead of the intervals workout (it was hill repeats this week) to get in some more recovery. I’m feeling very confident about the race, and getting more and more excited by the day! To make things even more epic, I checked my bib number the other night and this is what I saw:

bibnoI’m not sure if I can explain how excited I got without sounding crazy. Numbers just really excite me, okay? It doesn’t take much sometimes….13 is my favorite number – it’s my birthday day, when I used to play team sports back in the day I always insisted on being #13, it has been my house number once…AND it’s the year 2013, the race is on the 13th…I could go on and on. It’s like they knew I’d want it. Somebody did point out to me that it would be pretty cool if I was #10, since it’s the “Perfect 10.” But now two of us can feel lucky.  

One last thing – I am now cross-blogging for work on Run.com’s new WordPress site! Chances are my posts on there will be less personal versions of what I write on here (like the course preview post, which is all I’ve done so far), but there will also likely be posts about more local events and running routes that will be useful to you if you are in the NJ area, so check it out from time to time!

Perfect 10 Miler Course Preview: 1 week to go!

The Perfect 10 Miler is next Sunday! With a course like THIS (see below), I thought I would be a responsible runner and check it out as part of my long run a week early. This ended up being a great idea. For all readers who don’t/didn’t have a chance to run the course, or are coming from far away to run next week’s race, I’ll write some details about it for you here! Disclaimer: I used it as a workout so you’ll also have to read allll about how that went. 🙂

I woke up to 100% humidity in both the air and, it seemed, in my head (nose, throat, etc.). Not an ideal combination (I think the roadtrip to GA, plus a busy week and hard running caught up with me). Ten miles of sweat would be a great way to flush it all out, but I was concerned I also wouldn’t be able to breathe. Oh well. It needed to be done. The plan was to run the first four miles at a normal, conversational pace, then bring it down to 7:00 pace (average goal race pace for the first half or so) for the next four miles, then run the last two easy and/or “normal.” And, of course, to learn the course. We had done a packaging-tape-laminating job to a miniature version of the course map to be pocketed during the run and referenced when necessary.

Miles 1-4: 7:28, 7:36, 7:28, 7:30

start

We imagined the start line to be precisely where the dog park parking lot narrows into a road, which leads to the main park road (Paxson Ave.), so that was where we began. The course turned right onto Paxson and did a u-turn onto the other side of the two one-way roads just  before the park sign at the end (close to Old Trenton Rd.). The first mile was just after that. Mile two is on the same stretch, just before the Marina lot entrance.

At the West Picnic Area entrance, the course takes a right. The surface changes here slightly, to rougher pavement, but not enough to make a difference. I just noticed. I usually park in this lot when I come here to run, so it was very familiar territory. There is a grass hill in the center of the parking lot – the lot loops around it. The course follows this loop and heads back out the same road, then makes a right back onto Paxson. The third mile is on the far side of the parking lot, when you are about halfway across it. A note about elevation: this course only fluctuates by about 87 feet, which is nothing. There was a little downhill during mile three, which might get you excited for about ten seconds, until you realize it’s, um, already over.

wpicnicarea

Miles 4-8: (goal: ~7:00) 6:57, 7:00, 6:46, 6:57 (6:55 average)

My watch hit 4.00 miles about 200 meters from Hughes Dr., where the course takes a left. I felt pretty decent for these miles, but I knew they would feel easier come next Sunday if I manage to kick this head cold (and I will).

ontohughes

So, left onto Hughes and then the first (real, don’t turn onto the dirt road) left onto Mercer County College’s campus. Then, the course takes the second right (the first right that makes sense) onto the road that circles the campus and initially borders a parking lot. The fifth mile comes up just before the road veers to the left.

Then, the unexpected happens. The course makes a left…over the grass?! I’m going to call this a grassy knoll, because that’s totally what it is. It’s a very slight (emphasis on very) incline to get up and over the grass, and then you basically roll down the other side, over one walkway, and turn right onto a second, parallel walkway. I’m sure on race day this will all be marked with cones or caution tape. I had no idea there was grass involved, but luckily my trusty pacer leader did (I’m not saying pacer – yet – because he ended up almost running out of my sight during these four faster miles!).

Garmin's path is a little wonky as usual, so look at the white arrows.

Garmin’s path is a little wonky as usual, so look at the white arrows.

Then, you basically blaze through the center of the campus between academic buildings on a wide brick path, which opens up to a wide sidewalk leading to another parking lot. There was apparently a walk for autism this morning, through which we ran through the middle…but they were putting away the clock so it was all good. The course turns left after passing two grass and tree medians and goes through the lot to meet up with another path by the athletic fields.

I started to feel better around this point, as my watch hit 6.00 just before the softball field. This path is fairly narrow and windy, so it’s a good thing it isn’t in the first couple miles of the race. It spits you out right at the side of the Welcome Center, and then you get on the main road almost all the way to where you first entered the campus…but there is a sharp right onto a paved path that leads back to the park. This snuck up on me, and it kind of felt rebellious, like I was recklessly abandoning normalcy and heading for the hills (hey, why not make this description more fun?).

The course just runs along the paved trail north until it intersects with the path that runs parallel to Paxson, where you make a right. That path gradually curves toward Paxson, where it will intersect and the course makes a smooth right again.

In general, the paths were fine; while some of them were windy (read: wind-y, not talking about weather here), I didn’t really feel like it made them “slow.” Footing was just as good as the road except for one small spot as you cross over the powerline overpass in mile six…there was a  bit of sand/dirt (nothing to trip over though). The eighth mile ended on Paxson, so I slowed down to a recovery pace at that point, taking it pretty easy to get myself feeling back to conversational pace, but not stopping.

Miles 9 & 10: 8:08, 7:28

One thing we were unsure of was the turnaround point to head back to the finish, during this little out-and-back that happens in these miles. This right turn is at the same road where the race started, but after you enter it, the course goes on a road to the right (that is, do not turn left; continue). This out-and-back road is arc-shaped, with grass on the right (heading out, that is), and parking lots and basketball courts on the left. We ran all the way to the last side parking lot and did a loop around the grassy median, as the course map suggests:

The finish: We didn’t run into an issue until the very, very end. In fact, not until after we had ran a perfect ten (well okay, 10.06) miles. The issue was, we stopped running at the end of that arc-shaped road, not where we started the ten miles. You can see the tip of the “stop” icon at the top of the above picture (that “9” is on the way down to the turn-around, by the way), and how it isn’t anywhere near the green “start” pin. The official course map groups the start and finish together, like so:

…but if we were to make a right and head back to the spot where we started, it would put us at about 10.22 miles. So…is the course fairly long? Is the finish at the end of that road where we decided to stop? Is it somewhere in between? We’ll find out right away next weekend, when we see the “FINISH” banner positioned in its proper location. Perhaps I can shoot an email to the race director since we’ve met before; it’s a simple question.

Overall run stats: 10.06 miles in 1:13:50, average pace of 7:20

One more note about the conditions…

weather10.6

Yeah, that is 100% humidity. So don’t knock on me for looking like I jumped in Mercer Lake.  I virtually did.

Thoughts on the preview run…I’m very glad I did it. Specifically, I’m glad I didn’t decide not to do the uptempo portion because of feeling congested, or shorten it to three miles, which I could have easily done since I wasn’t sure whether to do three or four in the first place. I was glad I hit those miles in 7:00 or under, feeling like they were more like 7:05-7:10. The fact that the faster miles were also during the entirety of the technical part of the course is also advantageous; I have already ran through those sections at race pace, so next week I’ll know exactly where to go and what to expect next. Even writing this blog post (OMG it’s actually taken longer than any one – besides HTC – to date I think…) has helped me draft some racing/pacing strategies in my head! I was having a rough training week from Wednesday onwards this week (mostly because of feeling sick-ish, not really leg-wise), and since that hasn’t happened in awhile (yay!), I was a bit discouraged about the race heading into this run. I’m learning,though, that I have reached the point where excuses aren’t options: barring rare, extreme unfortunate circumstances for legitimate reasons, I just run the pace I want to run because I said I would, I want to, and that’s that. It’s simple.

Goals…

I always said “sub-70” when anyone asked me about it, and that still stands. What I really meant was “sub-7-minute pace,” so if the course is in fact ten and a quarter miles, those won’t mean the same things. I would like to average sub-7 pace. I would like to negative split in my recent fashion. And I would like to have awesome amounts of fun. I may have another thing in mind too but I’ll just tell you how that worked out afterwards. 😉

first workout back!

On Tuesday, I did my first workout since before the marathon (and injury, of course)! To many people, all these other things I have done over the past three months might be considered “workouts”…but I’m sure runners can relate to me when I say that forms of exercise ≠ “working out.” A workout must be some sort of faster running – intervals, repeats, tempos, etc. I never attempt workouts post-injury until I feel I’ve established a decent base without any pain. So, on Tuesday I was ready to return to Princeton Intervals not as the coach! I was very excited, because I coached the previous two weeks’ workouts, and was itching to jump into both of them with my friends.

First workout in my new(er) color of the Brooks Epiphany Stretch short! I was all decked out in purple for this….

The workout was originally 12 x 400m, but because we didn’t secure access to a track this week, we improvised at our modified track loop (where we did this workout…and this one…and the mile repeats I apparently never wrote about in April). It’s 533 meters for one loop, or 1/3 of a mile. I didn’t know what goal time to set for myself; I usually hit between 2:00 and 2:05 for these, so I figured I would be happy with anything in that range. A big group of us stayed together for the first one and hit 2:05. Then, the front runners dropped the hammer and never stopped. I was glad though, because it resulted in my fastest times for these loops ever! My splits were:

9 x 1/3 mi: 2:05, 1:56, 1:54, 1:59, 1:58, 1:58, 1:58, 1:59, 1:59

I actually wasn’t planning on doing the entire thing. Since it was my first workout back, I was going to stop at 8 if we did 400m, so 6 for the 533m. However, I felt fine after the 6th, so I did a 7th…and then an 8th…and then I just did the 9th to make it complete. To be honest, my brain tricked me into doing this because I was waiting for two people who were supposed to show up to do the workout. Each time I rounded the bend and the start/finish line was in view, I would think either one or both of them would be there, having arrived late. Each time, neither of them were. So pretty soon, logically, all nine reps were done and they just hadn’t shown up to the workout.

Funny how the brain works sometimes.

One of the people was a Mizuno rep (er, different kind of “rep” I’m talking about now). He did say he would be really late, so it was more the other person I was expecting to see. Regardless, I wore these kicks because I thought he would be there:

Princeton City-20130404-01871

I did not have any of this stout post-run this time, unfortunately. Had to make do with Triumph’s Witbier (still awesome).

Remember when I got them at the Mizuno Group Run? It’s not like me to test out shoes for the second time ever during a speed workout…but I did. I think they felt fine; I noticed my shins were a little tight warming up, and the left toebox felt particularly spacious (almost too much so; I thought I was getting blisters but then couldn’t detect any later) on my cooldown. Overall, they felt light and fast. I think the toebox room would be an issue for me, but maybe I’m just used to not moving around as much in the Ravenna. I did see my Mizuno rep friend shortly after and got to tell him I ran in these, so it wasn’t for naught. On my cooldown I managed to climb a big hill twice. Not sure how I managed that; it’s my own fault. At the very end, I was spent in such a terrific way – it had been so long since I had been satisfied like that! Since the marathon, in fact.

The aftereffects: I am a little sore, mostly in my quads/hamstrings and abs. I also did all my ITB PT and a long core workout in the morning Tuesday, after a short bike ride. It’s a good sore, I’m okay with it. 🙂

Rain run

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Soaked.

Today I went for a great run in the rain! I did the most logical thing possible during a downpour: ran through some muddy, overgrown trails. I was able to do the entire loop though – the stepping stones at the stream weren’t washed over yet! My Garmin got confused around the time I started hopping over downed tree trunks and circumventing thorn bushes, but it’s all good. The run was topped off with a swim immediately after. And a trip to the bike shop to mend my less-than-a-week-old bike tube, which already managed to get punctured (I rode it twice since the last time…). Can’t win everything, that’s for sure….

Time to rest up for RIVER TO SEA!!!