Saturday, October 30, 2010

Easy Running with Jack

I ran with one of the dogs today.  Jack has historically been the fastest, fittest dog, but he's gotten out of shape because of marathon training.  I neglected our weekend runs when my weekend runs needed to be long and/or fast.  Today reminded me how much he needs to get his exercise in, too.  He used to run six miles with me, dart back and forth to mark trees- thank goodness for retractable leashes.  Today he huffed and puffed just behind me.

Jack would prefer to run off-leash; he's an aussie/blue heeler cross, so it's in his DNA to pretty much stick to me like glue.  Sadly, he got fined at a national park for his freewheeling ways, so it's all-leash all the time these days.
Here's Jack wearing his ticket the day of said event.  What a cute little reprobate.

So, Jack and I ran.  It was slower and shorter than I would have liked, but it's what he needed.  We ran three miles at around 9:45 pace, and I had to cheer him on at the end.  We're going to go for another run tomorrow and as often as possible until January when (gasp!) marathon training begins again. 

Until then?  My goal is to run a sub-22:00 5k by January.  I think it's doable.  If I can run 23:00 on Thanksgiving at the Gobbler with its hilly course, I know I can take off another minute by New Year's.  I'm much better at running long than running quickly, so this will be work.  Here are the races I plan to run:
November 7: Battle of the Triad 5k. I'm not sure about this one, but I have lots of friends doing the half-marathon so it'll be a fun crowd even if I'm slow.
November 13: Alumni Fun Run at Sewanee.  I'm not an alum, but I'll be there and like to run.  Maybe I'll borrow a disguise?
January 1: Resolution Run 5k

Monday, October 25, 2010

When it's good to get rid of a goal

I am still on a marathon high.  Other than one purple toenail that does not hurt, I have fully recovered from the race.  I've been on a few runs, and they felt good.  The next few months will be all about 5ks, and in January I'll (probably) begin training for marathon #2.  Everything is good.

Everything is good.

Everything is good except for this pesky little goal I set for myself back in June.  I decided that June and July would be 100 mile months, August and September 120 miles, and then October back down to 100.  At the time it seemed so logical, but I've run (including Baltimore) about 65 miles and do not plan on running the rest by Sunday.  I need to kill the goal, which involves going to Garmin's website and deleting it after convincing myself that it's okay.

I don't think I've always been a neurotic runner.  In high school I ran cross-country for exactly one week.  It was hard, so I went back to watching Saved by the Bell reruns in the afternoon while eating large quantities of crackers and a few diet cokes.  Somehow, I think my inherent laziness and desire to not have a plan engendered this goal-happy stranger inhabiting my body.  Deep down, I'd like to be sitting on the couch eating Cheese-Its or pizza and watching a lot of television, but that person doesn't seem very interesting.  In order to not be that person, I have created fairly specific goals without much time in between.  Finish a race?  Great!  What's the next one?  It's not just with running, either.  I keep myself busy not because I want to be busy but because I don't want people to perceive me as lazy.  Training for this last race gave me an awareness of why I set goals and the confidence that I can achieve the goals that I set.

That must mean that I can change a goal that is not appropriate.  It's silly of me to stick to a goal that doesn't have value or relevance.  I will delete this outdated goal tonight, from the computer and from my brain.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Race Recap

I did it! The race went so well. Where to start...

Friday Jenn, James, and I drove up to Alexandria to have dinner and carpool to Baltimore with the parents. Dad made seafood pasta and mom made edamame salad; apparently these are the perfect prerace foods. Then we piled into the CRV and drove to Baltimore. Mom and Dad dropped Jenn and I off at M & T Bank Stadium (home to Baltimore's football team- Baltimore has a football team?). This was the first expo I've ever seen, and it seemed huge to me. We finally found the packet pickup and then went on a second odyssey to find teeshirts. There were a lot of vendors, but also a ton of people so we didn't explore too much.

Saturday morning felt a lot better than most long run mornings because I got to sleep in until 6:00! James spent part of the night in our bed, but he was very well behaved. Such a snuggler. I found coffee, bagel, and cream cheese for breakfast in the hotel cafe. When I asked about whole wheat toast and peanut butter, the waitress said she'd order a lot for next year. Runners can be so predictable.

I got all dressed in my racing attire and walked the quarter mile to the start around 7:00. This means I got to Orioles stadium approximately 4 minutes later, and it was very chilly. I hadn't brought a jacket, gloves, or long pants because I didn't want to check a bag. So what did I do? Go back to the hotel, of course! I joined the family for breakfast, drinking down a very refreshing orange juice. James was practicing pumping his fist in the air while saying "Mama!"  Around 7:40 I left again and arrived in a sea of runners all anxiously waiting to start.

A skydiver carrying the American flag landed right before we started. He was shooting red smoke out of his foot, too. I don't know if a gun was supposed to go off, but I didn't hear it. I started conservatively, trying to warm up and get free of the claustrophobic crowd. My legs felt great, but (per usual) I couldn't feel about half of my toes. Oh well.  I knew that the first half was going to feel easy and that I had to hold back a little to finish.

Around mile 4, I made a friend who is the reason I ran such a good race.  Dave and I were at around the same pace and both run better talking to someone.  We ran really well and much faster than I'd expected. Yes, the course was hilly, and at times we slowed down, but mile after mile we chatted on the easy spots and stuck together through the trickier ones. We managed to not get completely separated through the numerous water and Gatorade stops, too. Big accomplishment, in my opinion.

At mile 8 I saw my family! It was so exciting to see them there; I was practically on top of my mom before she spotted me. I was ahead of schedule and they weren't really expecting me yet.

I saw them again at mile 13 after running past Fort McHenry. James was not impressed, but I'll forgive him.  Here he is on the overpass that they used to get between the two sightings.

The second half of the course was much hillier and we slowed down quite a bit. Between miles 16 and 20 we pretty much climbed, but miles 20-22 were around a lake. The clear day and wide open water created quite a pretty view; at every point around the lake I could see a constant stream of runners. Lovely.

Miles 21-23 were, sadly, also uphill. Dave's mantra was "don't stop running" and this helped me a lot. I didn't ever stop, not once. Around mile 23 we started the descent back into the Inner Harbor. Dave and I got separated but I kept chugging. The last three miles were fairly solitary; I picked up the pace but it took a lot of concentration. By the end, as I ran through Orioles Stadium towards the football stadium, I could do nothing but run and think about the next step or two. I've never run like that before, and I loved it.

After crossing the finish line (chip time 3:50:31!) I sat down on the ground. I just couldn't move. My shoulder and arm hurt so bad, and I couldn't remember for a second which arm was the heart attack arm. My right arm hurt, so it was okay. I got a medal, a pretty silver blanket that I wore as a skirt and then as a cape, and then I borrowed a spectator's phone to meet up with the family. I found Jenn, James, Mom, Dad, and Susannah (yay for Baltimore friends!) in the kid's fun zone. We stayed around long enough for me to try to stretch and then walked back to the hotel so I could bathe and eat. It was a very slow walk back to the hotel.  I shuffled and my mom insisted I wasn't going that slow.  I was tired. Nothing hurt besides my gimpy right arm, but I was exhausted.

The race exceeded all of my expectations. I killed my goal and can see 3:40 as a distinct possibility. Having family there cheering for me was amazing as well; it wouldn't have been as much fun without them. Speaking of family, my fans feel that their first attempt at spectating, while fortuitous, could be improved. They have therefore decided that I will run the National Marathon on March 26 in Washington, DC. They won't tell me what they're planning.  I know it involves props and bright colors.  I think there might be a vuvuzela.  We'll see...  I can't commit to another marathon right now.  In a few weeks it may sound like a great idea.  I know I'll do another one someday, but in the Spring?  Really?  So soon?  Right now I'll focus on speeding up my 5k times.  I want to run a sub 22:00 5k, and for me that will take a lot of work.

Here's the route according to Garmin:

Monday, October 11, 2010

Saturday's Race Day!

Thanks be to Off n' Running for ordering me a new usb antenna to make my watch speak to me computer. Yesterday's run was really good; I did ten miles, alternating fast and slow miles starting at mile 3. It felt great; my fastest mile was sub-8:00!

I might have run too fast for a taper, but I certainly didn't run too long. It felt great to get out there and run quickly. Today I'm taking a rest day, and tomorrow's All-County Orchestra auditions mean that I'll be on the elliptical. I'll try to run easy Wednesday and/or Thursday before making the trip to Maryland Friday afternoon. Other than that, I plan to eat a lot (of mostly good food) and rest up for race day!

Friday, October 8, 2010


My Garmin and my computer won't speak to one another, and this has left me without the pretty maps, graphs, and tallies that I love so much. I posted this fact on Facebook hoping to get sympathy from my runner friends- no dice. Instead my so-called friends told me that addiction is real and that there is life after Garmin. That's not what I'm looking for!

I got the Garmin for my birthday and I love it. Sure, it tells me how fast I run and knows my heart rate, but my favorite thing is having all of that data to play with at the end of a run, a week, a month, or a training cycle. And if my watch can't tell my computer how far I ran last night (3.5) or this afternoon (2.4), how will I know where I stand? I love how I can set a goal and it keeps track of my progress. I love seeing my pace and average heart rate for all of my runs. I do not love neurotically plugging and unplugging a piece of technology in the vain hope that the tiny wizards (or elves or whatever) that make it do its thing will wake up and perform.

The usb antenna has been limping along lately, and I'm pretty sure this is because James likes to grab it while it's in the computer and give it a little jiggle. In the past the issue has only lasted a few hours; then, miraculously, the computer sees the ant stick which listens to the watch which tells the internet that I ran. This time I've waited more than 24 hours. I've tried different ports, I've tapped the ant stick, I've even blown in it the way we used to do with Nintendo games. Nothin'. Grr.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Only 10 Days...

I cannot believe that in ten days we'll be in Baltimore for the marathon! This weekend's long run was a non-event; Sunday morning came and I couldn't breathe correctly. Stupid allergies.

It might also be because there was already a car parked where I like to park. Before sunrise I am extremely paranoid. I will not park next to another car for any reason and don't even want a car driving by as I pull in; in my head, each car holds a psychopath stalker intent on my demise. I know it's irrational, but before the sun comes up rational is overrated. I drove around for twenty minutes waiting for the sun to rise. When it did, I discovered that the car parked in my lot was owned by a thirty-something female runner out for her long solo run as well. Had I had an iota of faith in humanity we could have possibly run together or at least exchanged knowing "hey there!" waves as we set off. Oh well.

I managed to squeeze in a six mile run today which left me feeling great. I kept a quick pace (for me) and didn't slow down. I plan to do another six Thursday night from Off n' Running and then run an easy 10 Sunday. It'll be my last long run before race day!