Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Awesome Christmas Presents

When the Christmas shopping season was starting, I had been counting on qualifying for Boston. I was looking forward to winter training, but I was running 5-6 times a week and always doing laundry because of the countess shorts, tanks, socks, and bras I went through. I had one set of cold running gear, and I knew that would be a problem. So, I asked for cold running and trail gear for Christmas, and my family really delivered!

From my parents I got a lightweight reflective jacket--something to wear over my fleece in the winter, or during summer night runs, a matching headband, and Brooks pants.

I also got an under-armor shirt in a lovely bright green and black tights.

My grandmother did a great job and I got a black performance shirt, an adorable red vest, and a FILA sport jacket.

My Aunt got me a hydration pack. (and the newest Armani perfume and a great bottle of wine)

So, I'm all ready to go! Yes, I'll still need to do laundry every week, but at least its not every day!

Training log: Dec. 28

Hold on people, I think I actually enjoyed my first speed-workout!

I know that I usually talk about how much I hate speed-workouts, and if I had the chance to run 20 miles a day, I'd prefer that to never doing 800 repeats again. But yesterday, I did four speedy laps and four recovery laps around Lincoln Park, and just being able to open up and really run, felt amazing. Lincoln Park's outer path is .45mi around, or 725 meters (about). So, its not exactly 800s (and I definitely take that into account) but with my watch on autolap based on position, it works out perfect so I can grab my water bottle for my recovery lap.

My splits were 2:59, 3:09, 2:57, and 2:55. The 3:09 is because the auto-lap confused me, and it beeped before I set my water-bottle down, so I was stationary for a few seconds there. I basically was at a 6:30ish min/mi pace, which is definitely not fast enough for speed-workouts, but then it was my first one. Next week, I'm doing six laps, but I wanted to give myself a week to adjust to speed training.

I found a great link describing the Boston course, and it really does scare me. Maybe I'll shoot for that bigger PR at another race! I decided I needed to really focus on that hill training, so I'm going to be taking the metro up to MD and run down into DC. I need to get my quads ready for all those downhill miles.

Monday, December 28, 2009

On 'dem back country roads

This weekend's long run consisted of 14 miles in west Pennsylvania. I headed out for the run in weather conditions that went off and on between snow and rain, with nothing but shoes, clothes, and my iPod. I tend to forget that 14 miles is actually quite long and that I should bring water and some clif shots or sports beans.

I had also forgotten that this was Pennsylvania, and I would not only be doing 14 miles, but 14 hilly miles.

When I got to my turn-around point, I was amazed to see the hill I had just climbed, and took in the beautiful scenery. I didn't hit any traffic lights, and only had to stop running  for cars once! As I strolled along, I envied those that got running conditions like this everyday (yes, even in the rain/snow mix!)

... then I nearly stepped in a deer carcass.

... then a truck flew by me and covered me in water and rocks.

It was a really great run. I got a horrible blister. It took quite a bit out of me (I needed a nap an hour later). But, I'll be glad to return to the Mount Vernon Trail. The 14.17 miles took me 1:57:05. My average pace was 8:15min/mi, but those hills killed me! Two on my splits were close to 9:00min/mi pace, because the entire mile was uphill. But, I pushed through best I could! First long run = success!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Training Log: Dec. 21-24

Tuesday, I felt really sick at work. I still made it to the gym for my leg and hip workout, and I started the spinning class but felt really nauseous. Wednesday, I did a 3 mile run with some extra trips up and down Capitol Hill. Today, I was too hungover for the gym (The Sabres lost) and we will see if I get my 5 mile run in. Its not looking good people.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cancelled classes, a tweet-up, and one hell of a workout

After the snowpocolyspe, the Federal Government was closed yesterday and I got to stay home. A Twitter friend, Joeruns26, asked if I'd like to go running with him that morning. He's very fast, and he's run Boston before, so I thought it'd be a lot of fun. We met at 8:30 (Well, 8:40 for me, I'm always late) and headed out for a lap around the mall. Unfortunately, it was still covered in ice and packed snow. I did 7 miles in 1:06, but I didn't turn it off during my walking break when I left him off and such. We definitely had some higher pace running in there, but he had special screws on his shoes for the ice and I was just petrified of twisting my ankle. 

I did learn that frozen fruit smoothies after a winter run=a really bad idea. After running again, the most sore body part is actually my abs/core. I wonder if its because I'm keeping it very tense while running on the ice.

After, I went to the gym and found that all the classes were canceled. I did a really strong upper body and core workout. I did planks until I was nauseous and my upper body workout was so tough (man, I'm feeling it today) that I couldn't lace up my boots without my arms and shoulders shaking. After the workout, I went to Harris Teeter for some groccery shopping, and got 35 pounds worth of grocceries (I weighed it when I got home).

My refrigerator had been empty, so I really needed most of these items. Walking 1.2 miles home, with my gym bag and 35 lbs. of food, through slush, ice and snow was probably the most tiring part of my day. Especially, after all that upper body work!

I was only supposed to do 3 miles yesterday, and I really want to be running consistently so that my body get used to it, but if I keep my 3 and 5 mile runs this week and my long run this weekend, that's 35 miles. Which is way, way too high my first week back. BUT, I think that the 5 and 3 mile runs are so short that I'm ok, and I know I can run 13 miles, and so I'd really like to. I thought about maybe keeping my weekly miles at 35 for the next 4 weeks, and that can get my body used to it before I start cranking it back up. After two 7 mile runs, I'm not really sore. So, that's a good sign. Is this a bad plan? Thoughts?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Training Log: Dec. 19

December 19th! Its officially 4 months to the Boston Marathon and today marks the first day of training. My Friday and Saturday workout plans were a bust because of a party I forgot I needed to go to and the snow closing down the pool I planned on using. Today I did about 7-8 miles (my garmin ran out of batteries a few miles in) through ice, packed snow, some one-foot deep not-so-packed snow, and *shudder* puddles. It was a lot of fun, although my pace was pretty slow.

The next few weeks are going to focus on gradually starting to consistently run again, cross training, and weight lifting. I have a 20k planned for Jan. 16th, and I want to do it at goal pace for Boston, around 7 min/mi pace. So, most of my running is going to be speed training (once the snow melts), tempo runs, and not so slow long runs. That race is going to sneak up on me, and I want to get some 14 mile runs in before it at a decent pace.

My toe still isn't feel 100%, but I've put in the rest, and its just not getting better. So, I give up. I can't afford/stand anymore down time. I took 3 weeks off after the half, another week off from that short 5-mile run, another week off after my 10k, and now, I'm done. It doesn't actually hurt, it just twinges, and I can live with it.

Monday: Run a light 3 miles. Spinning class. Yoga. Core and upper body workout.
Tuesday: Spinning class. Leg and light core workout.
Wednesday: 5 mile tempo run
Thursday: 4 miles of speed-work. Leg, core, and upper body workout.
Friday: Christmas. I get off today :)
Saturday: 13 miles at 7:30 min/mi pace

Friday, December 18, 2009

Workout update: Dec. 17

As work was coming to a close yesterday, my eyes were drooping and I was just worn out. I went to the gym anyways, motivated by all the cookies that were brought in. When I got there, I realized I was missing two necessities: a sports bra and socks. I was about to pack up and go home, but instead I kept on my everyday bra (its not like I was running) and went sockless (gross). 

It was a good spinning class. She went a little too easy on us for my liking, but my knees started bothering me.  I'm careful to set my bike up right, so I think I just am spinning too much. I did some ab and core workout for a good 20 minutes after the class. Today, I'm going to go a leg and core workout after work and tomorrow I'm going to hit up the pool for the first time. I'm reading up on pool workouts today.

Just in: one of the attorneys is picking up doughnuts for the office.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Workout update: Dec. 16

Had an amazing spinning class yesterday. I was really glad I took the day before off to rest, because I was able to go all out. It was only 45 minutes, but really intense with awesome hills, speed-work, and hills+speed-work! It was a great class, paired with lots of squats and a hip workout after class.

Yesterday, I was ravenous all day, and so I made a point to eat a bigger breakfast today to curb hunger and cravings later on. I'm going to resist the temptation to go buy really cute workout clothes, because I swear half the men at my gym belong on the cover of fitness magazines...seriously. But, I will NOT be one of those girls! Of course, the day after I make that promise, I forgot a hair tie, and so I was working out with my hair held back in a pretty clip. Hopefully I got sweaty enough to make up for it!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Workout update: Dec. 14

Yesterday, I slacked off during my spinning class since my legs were shot from Sunday's 9.57 miles, a jump from my non-running state for the past month. My quads were a bit achy, so I focused on my glutes for most of the class. I didn't really dig the Monday night instructor. Peri is tonight, and she's my favorite, but I'm still sore. I decided I'll wait until Wednesday to take a rest day, since I know I don't like that instructor either.

I did however, get in a great upper body and core workout in. Which, made the spinning class a little uncomfortable, but I'm only slightly feeling it today. I was at the gym for about an hour and 45 minutes, and got home in time for some hockey, and a quick dinner.

I went to the doctor's office this morning, and I was scolded when she asked if I wanted to lose weight and I said yes. I've a 20 BMI, at 5'2" and 112. My blood pressure was low but good enough and everything else good to go. I really love my doctor, she's so cheery and enthusiastic. She said 7-8 servings of fruit and veggies a day, instead of 4-5. I'm a-okay with that! She said to keep doing what I'm doing, so marathons are awesome.

Also, she said my 2-3 cups of coffee a day are alright. The loop had a great blog post about running and coffee, and I don't like running without coffee in the morning so I had to read it. There are a ton of great benefits to drinking coffee, especially before running. Definitely give this one a read!

Boston training to commence Dec. 19th. I'll be going to the gym everyday this week. Must get into better shape!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Jingle All The Way 10k

I did everything wrong to prepare for this race, mostly because I didn't plan on "racing" it. My friend Natalie was running it for her first road race ever (and she did awesome! Way under her goal time), and so I was going to run it with her. I planned on 6 miles today at 9:30-10:00 min/mi pace. I stayed up late, I didn't get anything ready, I ate cookies for dinner last night, I had run once this week, for the first time in over a month, and I was definitely not in shape to race this morning.

I woke up at 6a.m. and I had nothing ready. I had decided to run to the start, since it was the best/cheapest/fastest way to get there (oh, public transportation). It was 35 degrees and raining, but while running, I didn't feel cold. I had a "fanny pack" water bottle holder with my phone, necessities, and a trash bag in place of the water bottle. As I ran to the start at a 8:20ish pace, I laughed thinking that I was running to the race faster than I planned on running it!

Problem: I couldn't find Natalie. She had checked her bag before I got there. So, as I looked for her, I was thinking "Damn it, now I actually have to run this thing." See, I tend to get competitive. That, and this was my first 10k. Clearly I wasn't going to run it very fast, but I still don't like people beating me. I walked around for the 10 minutes between my arrival and the start, and then literally stood at the start line waiting for Natalie. My first step was over the starting line and then I spent the better part of the first two miles passing people.

I'm really surprised that after all the rest, I was able to push out a 47:06 10k. I paced pretty well, my splits were:

1- 7:31
2- 7:28
3- 7:39
4- 7:38
5- 7:32
6- 7:17

I mean, I was coughing and spitting up mucous on the side, my toe was throbbing, and it was cold and rainy. So, I give myself an A for effort. However, I clearly get an F for recovery. Why does my toe still hurt?! I was freaking out the whole time, because I clearly need another week or so off, and I was supposed to start training next week. I'm going to be living at the gym, apparently, which I'm not happy about at all.

After the race, I was so cold that onlookers were very concerned. A guy on the metro even offered me his coat (I was huddled in the fetal position shivering, I don't do well in the cold). My shower was heavenly, and then I met a bunch of runners for brunch. What a fantastic morning! All in all, I ran 9 miles today, and I feel like a runner again!

Friday, December 11, 2009

First run

Yesterday, I had my first run in the cold. I've been out for over a month now, with one, awkward test run over a week ago. This time, I was recovering from not only a broken toe, but the flu. My plan for winter training was to run after work, so that I was warmed up from the walk back from the metro. The metro is a good 13 blocks from my apartment, it can be a brisk 20 minute walk, or a nice 25 minute walk... yesterday I may have made it in a record 18 minutes. I was in a skirt and little ballet flats and I was freezing. When I finally got into my apartment, I loathed the thought of going back out, except at least I got to put pants on!

I may have overdressed a little, but I headed out with my Garmin for a 5 mile run in my Under Armor tights, turtleneck, my north face, gloves and earmuffs on. Unlike my last awkward run, I felt smooth. I focused on my form, how my foot hit the ground, and looked at the pretty lights as I headed out to the National Mall. I checked my Garmin, and my pace was 10:00 min/mi, but I was blocks into it and just warming up.

As I neared the Mall, I looked again, and I had jumped to 9:30 pace. Still not exactly fast, but I was starting to warm up. I love the stretch of the National Mall, and seeing the monuments lit up. It was empty and I took off, focusing on keeping my stride short, but my legs moving fast. 9:00.... 8:45.... the Mall was empty and I was so excited to be running again that I threw my arms out and mentally yelled, WOO HOOO!!

As I looped the Washington Monument, my pace was hitting 8:15/8:00 and I felt great. My biggest motivation at spinning classes was that when I started running again, I didn't want it to be too hard. I didn't want to hate it. I didn't want to get discouraged. I soared down the National Mall and got to pass this on my way home:

(picture courtesy of google)

This morning, I woke up early from a weird dream, and went out for a couple mile run. Man I missed morning workouts!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Yesterday I sang Taylor Swift during sprints

Mid-monster month for MCM, a lot of my friends (mostly casual friends) thought I was running my first marathon. I guess this was because of how seriously I was taking my training this time around, my lack of going out, and facebook/twitter updates galore about running. Truth is, it was my third, I just never trained hard. My first two marathons, I didn't do speed training, I didn't research running, I didn't even know what a split was. I had multiple 4.5, 6, and 8-mile routes what I did during the week, and a long run on the weekend that went from 8 miles at first to18 miles for my first marathon and 20 miles for my second. I didn't know what my VO2 max was, and I just went out and logged miles.

Now, looking back I shake my head and wonder how I made that 14 minute PR when I didn't change anything, and also how I even managed to finish my first one without any walking breaks (except at water stations, I still don't understand how people can run and drink at the same time). I just really loved running, and the workouts didn't matter has much as lacing up my shoes and logging the miles. Just by making a structured training plan, and incorporating a few speed workouts here and there, some hilly runs, and getting a garmin, I took 55 minutes off my PR.

So, the whole point of that bit, is that I've always been a runner, and this post is actually about something I've been relying on with my injury: spinning classes.

A few summers ago, I ditched running for spinning classes 4x a week, and now I'm reminded why. For a while there, I wondered how I did it, but I've discovered that I really love them! They're so fun, and with such high energy! I feel like every class is focused on intensity, while running always seemed very relaxing to me. For some reason, I find it easier to push myself on the bike, when I can either take off the resistance and sprint, or add it on and go nice and slow. There are so many ways to mix it up, all within an hour!

Over the thanksgiving weekend, I did one 90 minute spinning class that was just fantastic. I've also started loving the instructor at Gold's Gym Midtown location on Tuesday nights. Her name is Peri, and she has such great energy, great music, and switches it up every class. Last week, we did a class of all jumps. Yesterday I came up with the term "ache-ful pleasure" for my level 7 resistance. I'm proud of my new term (wow, I'm such a masochist)... really though, when you get to those high levels and you can really feel it all through your glutes, I really enjoy it.

Last week, I did a full leg and hip and core workout for the 45 minutes before the spinning class, and man was I feeling it the next day. I've never really done hip strength training, and hopefully this will improve my running. I'm focusing on quad workouts so that I can rock that 13 mile downhill at the start of Boston. Overall, this gym membership is getting me pumped up. My toe is starting to feel a lot better, so I can't wait to lace up again and hit the pavement!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Resting is Training

As training looms in my near future, starting mid-December, I can't help but think about all the awesome workouts I will do, and the reality of a 25 minute PR. Mostly, I think I can do this, because I will actually be doing speed-work this time around. Boston training will provide the base mileage (gulp) for ultra training.

I'm forgetting that, yes, 70 mile weeks will mean I can eat whatever I want, but I need to incorporate rest. I need to work up to this slowly. I swear I'm developing OCD to keep from getting injured again, because I can't handle this time off.

Next week, I'm throwing in some 3-5 mile runs to my cross-training, and then I just need to slowly add the miles over the next 8 months. I want to give myself more time off, and if I'm still sore from the day before, to rest. Its hard to do things in moderation, but I need to remember that resting is training.

I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving! Good luck to all Turkey Trot runners, I will be on a plane that morning, so no racing for me!

Monday, November 23, 2009

New and Creative

If you recall, my mantra regarding my toe was: I will use this as an opportunity to be creative and try new things.

Rock Climbing
I tried indoor climbing this weekend. I really enjoyed it. I was told that the owner of the climbing center, and many of their members, were runners who were injured and needed something new, and then it turned into a cross-training outlet. I can definitely see that. Charlie and I are going to get certified in a couple weekends to belay each other, and try to make it a twice a month activity. I only did 3 climbs, but man am I feeling it. Its a great workout for your whole body! The only problem is that it was no toe-happy. I definitely felt it, both during the activity and the day after. Its a bummer because if it was just going to bug my toe, I should have just gone running.

Jaclyn and I  got up at the crack of dawn Sunday to meet a 20-30s hiking group. We made it to the metro meet just fine, but got lost due to poor directions about 5 different times on the way out. The group left without us, but after two and a half hours of driving, we decided to go ourselves. This was also not exactly toe-friendly, especially since we had to climb over creeks a gazillion times, and my toe wanted to curl under to grip the rocks. Still, it was fun and I had a blast with Jacyln, as usual. She's one of those friends you can just relax around, and although we never, ever run out of things to talk about, we can also walk in the woods or drive in silence, and its comfortable, not awkward.

Gym Membership
From what I've always known about Gold's Gym, especially in the Buffalo area, is that they were always so difficult. So, when I won my 3 month membership to Gold's Gym Ballston (out in VA), I was ready for the midtown DC location to tell me they wouldn't honor it. Not only did they sign me up, but they gave me the rest of Nov, plus Dec-Feb! Totally awesome! Once Feb ends, it'll be monster month and I'll spend all my free time running, and so this is perfect. Today I start my spinning. I have some day passes to the Buffalo Athletic Club for this weekend. Gold's also offers Yoga classes that I want to try. They have a 2-hour Friday class I want to take.

I haven't gone yet, mostly because I'll have to deal first with proving I live in DC and I have to put a bathing suit on, and I'm not feeling it. Maybe I can even go to a public pool this weekend to get started, and steal some goggles from home.

All in all, I've been walking a lot more. I go for walks during lunchtime, I walked home from work a few times last week (about 3 miles), and I walked a lot this weekend. I'm trying to eat less, and healthier, and I'm doing ok with that. One week until I can start running again, but I want to take it easy, with some 3-5 mile runs, and then gradually work up. The last thing I want is another injury!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Run to Read Half-marathon

I found this race today while looking for any Half-marathon between Jan and Mar 2010. Its a 3.5 hour drive from DC, with only a $20 registration fee. It also starts at noon, so you can drive out, not leaving until 7am, and get there in time without leaving super early. Its also the only one even remotely near DC during that time period. Half is on crushed limestone (not too crazy about that) but its held in a state park, and so I'm sure the scenery is nice.

I mean, I can rent a car and drive out myself. But, I thought this could be a fun opportunity do get out with another DC area runner who is planning on a late Spring marathon. Any takers?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Gear advice? Anyone?

This is way too familiar: the post-MCM injury, the weeks off from running, lacking motivation, sleeping a lot, not wanting to do anything but go for long walks (sort of reminiscent of long runs), sit around, eat, and read/watch TV. I'm falling into endorphin withdrawal. I'm still staying focused on "training" and waiting for the three week running hiatus to end, but not gonna lie, I'm feeling really down. Luckily, I've got rock climbing and a hike planned for this weekend, and I'll be going home for Thanksgiving. Its been 10 days since my half-marathon, and 11 days left of toe resting before I start running again. ELEVEN!

I went to the gym three times last week, but this week my firm is at trial, and I've been hanging out until at least 6:30 everyday. I also have a bad infection that I've just started meds on. I've been dizzy and lightheaded all day, getting overheated, head aches, and the infection itself is really uncomfortable, and so I haven't been to the gym at all this week. I don't even want to go for long walks, since I get dizzy just sitting down. The last thing I want is to pass out, alone, in Northeast DC.

With all the clients and expert witnesses here, every meal has been catered with really good, free food that I can't help but eat. I know I'm eating too much, and its really bringing me down. That and I think its adding to my wacky fatigue levels. I've been sleeping about 9 hours a night, and I get tired too early, and I can't get out of bed early enough to keep myself to only 8 hours. However, it is flu season, and I want to stay healthy-ish. So, if my body wants 9 hours of sleep, I'll give it just that.

Hopefully, tomorrow I'll feel good enough for a workout. Unfortunately, I really hated going to the gym last week after work. Getting home so late really put a damper on things. I want to try going to the gym in the morning, but that would mean lugging all my make-up, hair appliances, shower things, everywhere and everyday. I'm not fond of that either!

On another, non-whiny note. I need to put together a Christmas list to get the cold running and trial running gear I need. I need a few new pair of warm running pants, an under Armour base shirt, a windbreaker, a headlamp, and a Camelbak for long trial runs that can hold fluid and basic survival necessities. Also, I need one that will fit well on my tiny 5'2" frame. Any good recommendations for any of these? I'd like to find good pants that aren't $100. I have no idea how to search for a headlight. And, there are so many Camelbaks, most for bike riding, and I'm lost. Help!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Boston Marathon Entry Confirmation, received!

Yay! I did it!

I've been lacking in updates because of a weekend visitor and a work week from hell. But, this needs to be posted. That, and Boston Marathon registration has already closed, nearly two months earlier than last year. Boy am I glad I didn't have to resort to Plan B (Vegas marathon) for my BQ! 

Friday, November 13, 2009

Endorphin fix

Yesterday, I tried out eating a big breakfast, and planning two mid-day snacks, and found that it really helped me with curbing hunger, cravings, and kept me satisfied all day! Also, I ate a small dinner, which was my plan, and was good without a second helping and with a few fig newtons for dessert.

My workout yesterday was awesome. Again, I really didn't want to go to the gym after work, but I took possibly the best spinning class of my life. Bruce, the Thursday at 6:30 class instructor at the WSC Connecticut Ave location, is everything a spinning instructor should be and kicked my ass. The class was pretty hard, with few recoveries, and when you slowed down he would call you out and snap his fingers to the cadence you ought to be at. At first, I thought it was really obnoxious, until I was dying and chanting 2:58 in my head just to finish one set of jumps. I was sweating profusely and worn out at the end.

My favorite thing about spinning classes is that you ultimately control the intensity. I always keep the resistance nice and high, because I feel more in control of the bike. Finally, I felt an endorphin high and that wonderful feeling of completing a great workout. I'm in such a good mood again. After, I did a strong, hard core workout with more planks that you can imagine, playing with the stability ball, and mixed an arm and core workout by lifting weights over my head.

Getting home at 8:45 is still pretty rough, but its perfect for a shower, a small meal, and getting a few things done before bed. This cross-training thing ain't too bad!

Its supposed to be 70 this Sunday, so I'm going to try to drag my visiting friend out kayaking in the Potomac and then I'm going to my first swim session Monday. Have a good weekend everyone!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Half-marathons: Love 'em or hate 'em? and Spring Marathon Plans

As I was finishing up last weekend's Half-marathon I was thinking about how this wasn't my best, but I would still technically PR since its been a year since my last one. Do halves of a full marathon count? I want a better half PR than 1:39, I know I can run 13.1 miles faster than that. As I passed Mile 9 I decided I should take a season off from marathons and train for a half. My half training history is made up of...

In 2007, I planned to run the National Marathon, but came down with Mono (huge damper on training). I didn't run for about three months (give or take a few exceptions), and then race weekend came up. The race was on a Saturday and my training consisted of:
  • Tuesday: 6 mile run
  • Wednesday: 8 mile run
  • Thursday: 10 mile run
  • Friday: rest day
  • Saturday: National Half-marathon.
 No, I'm not kidding. And I didn't do bad in comparison to my last marathon (2:05 half, 4:37 full, 6 months before).

The second half-marathon, I didn't really train for either. I had decided to take that season off, because I didn't want to train at home in Buffalo, NY (its all sidewalk training, which is basically torture) all summer long. I was still running, but mostly my favorite loops, one was 4.5 miles and the other around 6 miles. When my friend asked if I would run it with her, I did a 10-mile run the weekend before to make sure I could finish it, and then ran a quick 1:47.

So, I was wondering if I should should take a season off from fulls, after my planned ultra next fall, and do a half-marathon where I focus on speed workouts. Except, I hate speed workouts. I like long runs. I'd really rather start running ultras. And so, I tossed the idea within the next mile. I finally started a good runner's high at Mile 12, only to have the race end a mile later. I mean, where's the fun in that?

I was thinking of running the National Half again, as a BM training run, but it works out that its exactly a month before, and perfect timing for a nice long training run as opposed to 13 miles. I'm gonna run the full marathon, with half at 14-30 seconds below race pace, 10 miles at race pace, and then do a slow jog to the finish line. I know me, and this won't work. Maybe I could force the first half slower, but I will most likely give it all I can at the end. However, the race is a good month beforehand (as mentioned) and I will start tapering right after. The 4-week taper worked for MCM, so its in the plans for April.

On top of that, both races will probably start up ultra training. Then I'll do the 30, 50... uh 75 mile training runs on my own? I should really start researching how to train for a 100-mile trail race in the mountains. From what I've read so far, its the same as marathoning, but longer long runs and mid-week runs. And, I need more hills (I might move out to Rock Creek Park once my lease is out). But, a 75 mile long run sounds like an awesome Sunday activity, doesn't it?

Motivation fail

Yesterday's workout was very lame. I was so unmotivated. It was a miracle I even made it to the gym (the computer screen actually helped get me there!). I did about 50 squats with a 50 lb weight, 50 calf raisers, and then just decided to go up and do the stationary bike. I got out of work 30 min late, meaning I didn't get to the gym until around 6:45, and I just wanted to get home, make dinner, and relax. Luckily, I discovered the joy of having a tv screen at an exercise machine, and was able to sit and watch the Caps game while getting in a (very) light workout.

On the way home, I got ravenous, and so when I stopped for some cheese for my dinner, I ended up grabbing a bag of wasabi peas and snacked while walking home (a really bad habit I picked up from those damn Parisians). My pasta dinner got an entire handful of shredded Parmesan and I craved ice cream, but settled for some salty snacking before headed to bed. All in all, not a very good day. At least I have a lot to improve upon. Spinning workout is planned for 6:30, with a core workout following and a light upper body workout.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Still hungry

I was amazed yesterday to discover that I only have six weeks until Boston training starts. I adjusted my plan so that my training begins with a 12, rather than a 16-mile long run, to give me ample time to get back into running. Right now, I am taking three weeks off to heal my little toe.

Yesterday, I took a 55-minute long spinning class at the WSC, and it was a great workout, but I literally day-dreamed about running instead. Its hard to know you could run nearly 8 miles during that time, and burn about 300 more calories. I topped it off with a moderate core workout and an upper body workout. I had no energy as I left the gym, and picked up some peanut butter filled pretzels to keep me going as I headed home. I guess I need to get used to this whole working-out-after-work thing. The worst was not getting home until after 9 p.m.

Not only am I working out to build muscle, maintain aerobic capabilities, and satisfy my endorphin addiction, but I also wanted to drop a few pounds before Boston training starts, so that I can focus on fueling my workouts and not worrying about weight loss. I want to lose weight to get faster, to conserve energy, and to look more like a runner. But, this is really, really hard.

I know dieting and watching what you eat isn't supposed to be easy, but I am hungry all the time. And, I can eat a helluva lot of food before I'm full (I actually do not remember the last time I was). I realize that my metabolism is on high, but I'm no longer running miles a week to make up for food intake. I'm looking for a plan of attack right now.
  • First, I wanted to shrink my stomach with smaller meals and small snacks, but I need a good shopping trip for that.
  • I'm cutting a lot of animal products, so I am getting less calories from a lot more food. I'm focusing on whole grains, beans, lentils, fruits and vegetables. 
  • I'm also going to start eating a big breakfast, and have my meals get smaller throughout the day, with maybe just a salad for dinner.
Hopefully, that will be enough to trim some weight off my body, and gaining muscle will help too. The impending holiday season may kill me, but I just need to be extra good Thanksgiving weekend. My food journal is under links, check it out if curious and let me know if you think I'm just not eating enough.

Gyms aren't my favorite thing in the world. And, this "dieting" thing is tough. So, I've tried to remember that I'm still "in-training" for Boston right now, because rest is training. I've made the back of my computer screen a runner, with my goal time above. I'm thinking of getting 2:58 tattooed on my wrist... but methinks that would be taking things too far.

I just need little reminders that I want this, and that working hard now will have huge payoffs.

Happy off-season!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Race to End Women's Cancer Half-Marathon: Race report

Sticks and stones may break my bones but they won't keep me from running!

This was my motto as I walked over to the start line. Yesterday, at 4:00 p.m., I decided just to try running, despite my broken toe, and found it hurt less than walking in my sneakers (sandals are best). My baby toe is broken, but I over-pronate so I decided to run the next morning without my orthodics and let my feet work as normal. So what if I hadn't run in two weeks? I clearly had forgotten the post about me actually having limits to what I can and cannot do.

Race morning
Everything went wrong the morning of the race. With little preparation, I had to get my clothes out the dryer, wash dishes for breakfast, put my bag together, and I had gotten less than 5 hours of sleep. Wmata.com told me that there would be a bus I could take at 5:21 a.m., but it never came. I got on the phone to call a cab and started walking to Union Station, in the 25 minutes it took me to walk, I was on hold, and so just grabbed a cab once I arrived. One mile down, 13 to go.

I didn't know what to expect at the start line. The website was poorly done, and I had no idea how many people were racing. I didn't have a bib number until I got to the start area and then had nothing to do but sit around and chat with other single runners. It was then that I realized I forgot my Garmin! What would I do without it?! On top of that, my iPod had little juice left, probably just enough for 2 hours of playing.

My plan was W.A.D.--Wait. Accelerate. Dominate. I promised myself that I would learn how to start slow. There were no starting corrals, we just all lined up and the race started about 10 minutes late. I felt pretty good the first couple miles, although I always think these miles are the worst since I'm not completely warmed up. My biggest fear about running this race did in fact happen: the adrenaline masked the pain. You know, that same adrenaline that during MCM made me think I was running downhill instead of uphill? I was thinking that my toe felt awesome, and it wasn't until Mile 3 that I really started feeling it.

I learned today how my feet work, and that you use your baby toe most when turning (makes sense, right?). Unfortunately, you were turning every half mile in this course. When I came back to the start for the first loop, my toe was throbbing, and just once I hit it wrong and a sharp pain shot through it and I stopped to a limp. The start/finish line was right there, with my bag, a way home, food, and water.  I didn't have to be a rock star today, I already PRed in both halves of the Marine Corps Marathon just two weeks ago.

I felt completely defeated and ran to the right half of the street to end the course. This was a stupid idea, I should have just run the 5k or did the Mile walk. But, I signed up for 13.1 miles. I raised $1,045 for this cause. I want to start running ultras and here I was willing to take a DNF... for thirteen miles? I have never, ever not done the mileage I set out for any run, unless at one point I could no longer run. I was still running, and there was no way I would start quitting now!

So, I didn't have to PR today. No big deal. Today I would PR for the half-marathon I ran with a broken toe. I just ran a 3:22 marathon, I was already a rock star (cue Pink's So What which came onto my iPod). I slowed down, took it easy, and focused on smooth running that didn't impact my toe.

Deciding to slow down during a race can really kill you. People start passing you, and its hard not to feel defeated. I took a lesson from MCM and made myself smile. Somehow, running with a smile on your face is so much easier. The second lap got progressively better, and I learned that if I walked the turn-arounds, it didn't bother my toe. Now the biggest problem was a blister starting on the inside of my foot. Since I didn't have orthotics in, this changed how my shoes fit. That, and I could feel what the lack of support was doing to my legs and my knee even started hurting. At Mile 8 my quads started to burn, I was thrown off by this, and then I remembered that I did just run a marathon two weeks ago.

When I finished the second lap, I wasn't in the best of shape but I kept pressing forward. At Mile 11, I realized that I needed to take a break from running and let my toe heal, that these next two miles were the last two I would run for the next three weeks, and man did that effect me. I don't where the pain went but I was flying. I passed runner after runner. I may have missed the "Accelerate" part of the plan, but I was dominating here at the end. Finishing a race strong like that just feels amazing. I passed a runner that was way ahead on me at the end, crossed the finish line seconds before her and internally pouted; I was just starting to have fun!

As I was talking to some other runners, one of which I approached because the group was talking about his Vibram Five Fingers, I told him to watch out, since I just broke my toe. "You have a broken toe right now?" I shrugged. "Its just my baby toe, not too big a deal." As they all spoke about going home and watching tv, I mentioned I had hiking plans for the afternoon. "Wow, you really are crazy." Why, thank you!

I started the race today thinking that I wanted to channel some badass runner who would rock it out despite an injury, like Jenn Sheldon. And then, I realized that I had enough to draw from myself. I could be badass. I have a thank you e-mail to send out to all the awesome donators, did I want to say "hey folks, thanks for helping me raise all this money, but I got a DNF" or tell them about an awesome race and that I had to work hard to finish?

Last year, I ran a half-marathon in 1:47. My MCM half splits were 1:39 and 1:43. Today, I ran a 1:46. It wasn't my best, but its the best I could do in those circumstances, and that's what matters! 

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Coming out of the closet

Hello, my name is Brittany and I'm a veggie-addict.

Ever find yourself with $20 left in your bank account with 10 days before payday? Well, I get into this situation all too often (I have a shopping problem) and so I spend a week or so getting creative about the food I have in my little kitchen. I tend to cook enough for a small family, when I cook for just myself in reality, so I take leftovers for lunch a couple days after. I found out I was out of spinach yesterday, and low on peas, corn, green beans, cauliflower... and I was also out of broccoli, lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, and brussel sprouts. Oh no!

To survive the next ten days, I needed a quick staples shopping trip: soymilk, onions, canned tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and seven 2-pound bags of frozen vegetables. Yes, I will most likely finish them off. I have a vegetable addiction, and its a problem. I usually do farmer's markets, but I always keep my frozen veggies stocked as well. They are so cheap and convenient!

Tonight, I used up some butternut squash (how I am not sick to death of squash and apples, I do not know) with onion garlic, sage and spinach over Israeli couscous and some tuna patties that I made on my new grill pan. I wasn't expecting much from them, but they actually turned out really delish. Its a shame I tend to just throw things in a bowl when I make patties or meatballs, and so I don't remember exactly what I used. My guess is: some onion and garlic from the squash mix, non-fat yogurt, bread crumbs, and some shakes of various spices, salt, and pepper. Nothing special, but totally satisfied my meat craving.

Speaking of meat, I don't remember the last time I ate it. I'm trying to focus my diet on plants, and I thought I'd get meat cravings, but I have a new bean obsession that's so very satisfying that I don't miss meat at all!

Plus I have a ton of non-seasoned leftovers of the butternut squash, ready to throw onto pasta, or turn into a curry, or just topped with some cinnamon and devoured on its own.

I am also out of nutella, which I had straight off my fingers for dessert :)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Change of plans

I was told today to not run for 3 weeks. THREE WEEKS! (I burst into tears, it was awkward)

I am certain that I will go absolutely crazy. I also know that once I start training, I will value every mile I get to run. Anyway, I'm supposed to be resting, and God knows I don't do moderation very well so maybe this is a good thing. My mantra is I will use this is as an opportunity to be creative and try new things.
Plan for staying sane:
  • Gym membership. For strength-training and spinning classes. I also wanted to try out some boxing lessons. I think it'd be a great workout, plus yoga and pilates classes.
  • Pool access. I found free access to an indoors swimming pool! Fun! Cardio!
  • Weekend activities. Hiking? Rock climbing center? Something to replace weekend long runs. I was told I can do anything but run... perfect right?
I'm going to do the one-mile walk Sunday instead of the half-marathon. I will be sulking and pouting the whole time.

I was told I can run and it most likely won't do damage but it would delay recovery. Its just one, itty, bitty, 13 mile race... right?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


I love the feeling of coming in after a run, totally spent, soaking wet, tired as hell, yet feeling completely invincible. We're always told to "reach for the stars" and "there are no limits"... but there are limits. Maybe with the right preparation we can do anything, but there are in fact limits to what I can and cannot do. This has been a huge theme the last new few months and something that I've been thoroughly learning.

When I hurt my ankle last month, I learned that I can in fact overwork my muscles. After MCM I was scared my how my body was shaking and how dangerous it can be if you don't eat, drink, and keep warm after pushing your body to do more than you ever trained for. I learned that the unexpected, one stupid tree root, can keep me off my feet for a week (I think I broke my baby toe. I know, lamest injury ever). I recently ended a relationship (not that kind of relationship relationship) that I decided I just couldn't do anymore. I wanted it, but it wasn't best for me. The idea sounded right in my head, but I wasn't actually capable of it. I learned that I do, in fact, have limits.

No, this doesn't mean I'm backing out on my 100-mile race, it means that I need to make sure I am totally prepared for it and be willing to back off if I don't think I can do it. And, I'm not getting my heart set on 2:58 at Boston yet, I'm going to see how training goes first because, that's really, really fast. I think the ability of taking lessons learned from one part of your life and applying them to another is a difficult, but useful tool and at 22, I should start practicing.

Monday, November 2, 2009

MCM Splits

Wow, I completely forgot to post these. One of my tweeps mentioned that one our our mutual followings ran a "perfectly paced race" yesterday and so he totally called me out on my positive split! He replied again with "Yup, calling you out on your pacing at MCM, girl! 1:39 and 1:43 for a 3:22 marathon. Pretty bad pacing there...."

I felt pretty dejected, since I had run all negative splits during my long runs, and I ran progression runs! I mean, really, how did I manage that?!

First, there were hills, and I love rocking the downhill.

Second, it wasn't until Mile 14 that I told myself I needed to slow down or I would die out soon. So, running slower was on purpose, not because I couldn't do it anymore. I tried to keep at 7:45 the second half until Mile 20, but the first mile was too fast and then it really killed me (that, and the heat. The sun was really hot). That last 10k is disappointing, but I did every mile under the 8:00 goal pace, so I can't complain. But anyway, here they are:

Mile 1: 7:51
Mile 2: 7:43
Mile 3: 7:13
Mile 4: 7:05 (But! 137 ft of descent! Not my fault!)
Mile 5: 7:30
Mile 6: 7:26
Mile 7: 7:54
Mile 8: 7:25
Mile 9: 7:31
Mile 10: 7:21
Mile 11: 7:28
Mile 12: 7:28
Mile 13: 7:42
Mile 14: 7:47
Mile 15: 7:42
Mile 16: 7:46
Mile 17: 7:41
Mile 18: 7:44
Mile 19: 7:34
Mile 20: 7:44
Mile 21: 7:25
Mile 22: 8:00 (woot! only mile at goal pace! This was a hard mile)
Mile 23: 7:30
Mile 24: 7:57
Mile 25: 7:52
Mile 26: 7:52
Last bit I averaged 6:48 pace.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Favorite Workouts

I'm taking time to rest, both my broken toe and my body, but I'm excited as hell for training to begin again. When I started my MCM training, an 8-minute mile was really pushing it. I remember thinking it was too fast, too hard, and I would never get used to it. On race day, I averaged a 7:40 minute mile. I think the key was running race pace, and sub-race pace as much as possible so that I got used to it. So, here's a list of my favorite workouts!
  • Hill workout. I love hills. Some say they're a speed-workout in disguise, but a hill is one way to wipe me out completely that my recovery is actually needed. 
  • Hilly speed-workout. Most of the time, I keep my pace even to slow on hills, but actually trying to speed up them=awesome. It's just absolutely brutal.
  • Stairs. I love incorporating stairs into my workouts, especially the Memorial Bridge stairs. I want to try out running up the stairs to the Capitol Building, and then down Capitol Hill. I do stairs a LOT, so this really could have been a major key.
  • Mile repeats. These are not fun at all. I actually call them mile repeats, but do 0.82 mile repeats since it works out best on the National Mall. But hey, they work!
  • Yasso 800s. I really love the 800 meter distance for speed workout, and these are just so much fun. You shoot for 800 meters in your hour:minute goal. For example, I want to run a 2:58 at Boston, so I would shoot for 800 meters in 2 minutes, 58 seconds, and then recover for that long. I start with four in the beginning of training, and then build up to 10 at a time.
  • Tempo Runs. My favorite way to do these is to just rock out the chorus during the song and stick to the song pace. The best songs on my playlist for this are Total Eclipse of the Heart and 7 Things... I stole them from spinning classes.
  • Mile alternates between race pace/30 seconds sub-race pace. I swear this is what made me so speedy at MCM. I like doing at least 10 miles of these, with one mile warm up and cool down, and then all the other miles alternating between race pace and 30 seconds sub-race pace. For MCM it was 8:00/7:30. Now, its 6:50/6:20. Holy shit. Well, I'll work up to that... eventually...
  • Progression runs. LOVE! Especially when they are super long. Basically, you find a loop that you can do 3-4 times and get faster each time. My favorite place is the National Mall with loops at race pace, then 15 sec faster, then another 15 seconds faster. With a mile warm up and cool down it was a solid 14 mile run. 
  • Long Runs. I love going out for a good long run, but a lot of people run these too slow. I did my first half at a pace 20-30 seconds slower than race pace, then the last half sped up to race pace, and then rocked the last 3-5 miles out even faster. Yum!
For "easy runs" I still try to run close to race pace. I think my 16-mile run at race pace, the morning after an evening run with alternate miles 8:00/7:30 was my toughest workout, and I can't wait to do it again!

Happy resting!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Songs of the week: MCM edition

Last night was a total guilty pleasure night. I drank a lot of beer, went to a hockey game, and then got a pint of Ben and Jerry's on the way home and ate it all with the 1/2 apple pie I had left while watching the Disney channel.

Needless to say, I needed to run this morning. I'm still waking up too early, so I headed out for a 3-mile slow jog in the rain. It was an epic fail. My quads are still completely shot. Last night, I was 15 minutes late meeting my friend because the high and steep downstairs escalator for Dupont Circle wasn't working. There was no way I could survive that, so I walked across the Circle and had to use the elevator, and waited another 7 minutes to use it. Yes, I am certain I can do a 100-mile trail run, but walking downstairs two days after a marathon: no way in hell.

The Song of the Week for Sunday's MCM was a tie.

The All-American Reject's Move Along  was almost left off my playlist. I had remembered it last minute, and man did it come at a great time. Just as I was reaching the 23rd Mile Marker, that song pushed through into the last 5k. Its so cliche, but it really pushed me into the right zone.

Run this Town, by Jay-Z, etc. never really made it to Song of the Week, and it deserves it. I kept thinking this was my race, my day, and my city. When Megan ran with me in her GW gear, a group of guys yelled at us saying "This is your town! Your turf! You own this! You got this! Etc..." Man did that pump me up!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Go Big, Or Go Home

When I make a decision, or get a crazy idea floating through my head, I usually stick to it. When I tell people about my crazy idea, then I almost always do it. A couple weeks ago I made up my mind on which ultra I want to be my first. At first, it was going to be the Mountain Masochist Trail Run, or the JFK 50-miler. But then, I read the description of the Grindstone 100:

Grit, endurance, temporary loss of sanity. You might need all of these if you want to attempt Grindstone. If you want to finish, well, just keep in mind this is, without a doubt, the hardest 100 miler east of the 100th meridian.
Now that you're hooked, Grindstone is going to be an incredible adventure for each and every entrant. From the beautiful start/finish location at Camp Shenandoah to the monster climbs and the solitude of single track ridge running, you just can't beat Grindstone... 
but you can try!
Come and join us for a wonderful event and experience what this 100 mile course has to offer you. It will be an experience you'll never forget!

When I decided to run a marathon, the longest distance I had ever run was 6 miles. I never did a 5k, or a 10k. So, I decided to keep up the tradition. The 6 to 26.2 mile ratio is close to the 26.2 to 100 mile ratio. I made up my mind, my first ultra would be the 100 mile run through the Shenandoah mountains. I know, I'm fucking crazy.

Well, I thought about this more over the last few weeks--a little more reasonably. First, there are no mountainous trails to practice on in DC. I've never been hiking before in my life. And the big thing I don't like about the 100 mile races, is the whole 24-hours-of-running-no-sleep part. And, its actually quite dangerous. Then, I found the Virgina Happy Trails Running Club and they host night-time long trail runs. I have friends that go hiking up there, maybe I could tag along and run the trails while they hike?

The club even hosts a night run. I love these points on the event site:
  • Have many rocks and roots. Are your ankles accustomed to this?
  • Will have little, if any water or aid. You must carry water and be prepared to go long distances without aid.
  • Will be a long way from help if you need it.
  • Could be very wet, dry, snow covered, icy, slippery, hot, cold, etc.
  • Do you like to crawl over or under trees? Do you like briars? Poison ivy?  Ticks? Snakes? Bears?
I have an entire year to train for this thing, and I've been researching it like mad on my lunch break, work hours, and so on. I mean, I've been wanting to run an ultra since last December. When I get done with my long 20-mile runs, I want to go again. I love challenging myself in distance over speed. I'm craving the ultra experience.

Today, I discovered something to push me over the edge and write this post to get it out there that I'm gonna run this thing:

It starts on my 23rd birthday!

I mean, how cool is that?!? And you are probably thinking "starts?!"

Obviously, a 100 mile run with 23,000 feet of both climb and descent takes about 24 hours, silly people. It starts Friday evening, the first weekend in October and then the cut-off is 38 hours. So yeah, my first ultra will be a 100-mile run, through mountains, on a course with 23,000 feet of both climb and descent. The most difficult course on the East Coast. The Grindstone 100. 

Go big, or go home.

Btw, here is the Grindstone elevation profile and the MCM elevation profile. Ha! 

Monday, October 26, 2009

Post-MCM Plans: What I want from 2010

I'm not sure what I want my goal to be for Boston. I'd really like under 3:10, but then I'd really, really like to do under 3 hours. That's really fast, but my body just keeps surprising me and I really think I could do it. My MCM time was 55 minutes below my last, with minimal speed work. Imagine what I could do if I did speed work as planned?! Also, a goal like that will really encourage me to work hard. I knew I could run a 3:40 marathon, and it wasn't until I challenged myself with 3:30 that I got more into training. There is lots of room for improvement.
  •  Pre-training shape. I want to enter training for Boston totally comfortable with a 13 mile long run the first week of training. I will keep up at least 30 miles a week until then. I have a 3 month gym membership and I plan on working on lots of strength training to get my core, hips, and legs in great shape. I also plan on going on a bit of diet, since dieting during training is difficult as hell. I just want to lose some extra fat that can slow me down. I love my body now, this isn't a body image issue, its more of an issue with looking like the runner and athlete that I am.
  • Cross-training. I don't do it. Period. And, that needs to change. I will start with cycling classes at the gym, and after that membership prize dies I want to go on and off with monthly access to boxing classes (which I think I will love) and a pool. This will help me stay injury free and test my body in new ways. Also, I want to start hiking and rock climbing! I will replace easy miles with cross-training sessions.
  • Speed Workouts. I usually dread them, but this time around I'm going to focus on them in the beginning to get my speed down to where in needs to be for a sub-3 marathon. Then, I have 2 months to get used to it. However, I refuse to run so much that its not fun anymore. If I really start to feel burned out, I'll take a rest and do runs that I want to do (long runs)!
  • Run/life balance. MCM training technically started in June, but my July was horrible. I got stuck in a mid-summer slump and then I had to make up for it in August and September. If I really work through 4 months of training, I'll be able to fit in more of a social life. Also, I know I won't want to run out in the freezing, dark mornings, and so I'm switching my workout time to after work. On off days, I can make plans with friends, or get dinner together. And then on weekends, I'll be able to stay up past 10p.m.
Those are Boston plans, but I also want to work on my life and running style. This starts this week when I've recovered from MCM.
  • Barefoot training. Now that I've read Born to Run and purchased a pair of Vibram Five Fingers, I'm making the switch over to these minimalist shoes. I'll take it slow, but I hope to strengthen my legs and feet so that I'm not dependent on orthotics and there is less of a chance that I get injured. Plus, I hate being dependent on good shoes and orthotics.
  • Food. I mean, I eat pretty damn well, especially for an American. But, I've been reading up on animal products and I want to start limiting them and focusing on a plant-based diet. No, I will not become vegetarian or vegan, its just changing the focus of my diet. I'll get plenty of protein through whole grains and legumes.
Now that everyone thinks I'm turning into a barefoot, trail- running, vegan, hippie, I'll throw another curveball. I want to start running ultras. I've been wanting to do this since last winter, and I've been stalking the world of ultra-running the last few weeks and not only am I ready to do it, but looking at 100-mile mountain races made the marathon look like a 5k. So, I'm gonna start running on trails more and looking for more hills in the area. Next fall, I'm planning on my first ultra.Why? Because all through training I end my long run and just want to do another one. I really hate speed-work, and I'd prefer to challenge myself with longer distances. If I can throw in a 55 mile weekend as part of a training plan, hell yeah I'm signing up!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Marine Corps Marathon

My alarm went off at 4:30a.m.... finally. I woke up three times at night and had a lot of trouble getting to sleep. I took a long, hot shower, getting my muscles warmed up. My clothes were all set out and my bag ready. My body was itching to run, so I jogged to the metro. I told my body we had a 26.2 mile run today, but it just didn't believe me and wanted to get moving.

I got there too early, and I was anxious as hell at the start line. I reminded myself I had nothing to worry about, I worked hard for this. The first mile was one of my slowest. The road was wayyy too crowded. The first hill wasn't bad at all, and then I rocked the downhill. I did a 7:05 min. mile. I tried to run slower, really I did. But at mile 6, I thought I was going downhill, when I was really going uphill. Now, you may say that's totally impossible, but I'm between delirium and just lots of adrenaline.

I told myself I was allowed to rock the downhills, so I wasn't freaking out about my high pace. But then, I was consistently hitting 7:30ish miles. From miles one through 13, all but two were under 7:30. Yes, I was running 30 seconds under goal pace. I tried to slow down once the course got flat, but I sucked at that too. I was seriously concerned, but the only thing that was hurting was my face. Smiling for an hour and 45 minutes can get tough :)

The crowd was awesome! And my iPod was taking me through this race easy. When I tried to slow down, I felt sluggish. When I concentrated on my pace and put a smile on my face, I felt awesome. When Megan joined me, it was Mile 16 and I seriously had no idea. I stopped thinking about the miles, and just enjoyed a run with her, keeping it at 7:45 pace.

I was starting to think, just ten miles to go. But then, I wasn't even sure I passed mile 16, so I asked Megan. She informed me that she met me at Mile 16, and we were coming up on 19 now. I laughed and said (rather loudly) "You're JOKING! Why is this so easy!"

I followed immediately with "I should not have said that aloud. People are going to hate me." The guy in front of me looked back to confirm it. So did a few other people. Megan and I focused on picking people off, I sang Baby Got Back to her, saw some friends in the crowd and yelled out "I'm 10 minutes ahead of schedule!" I felt amazing.
People say a marathon is the easiest 20 miler, followed by the hardest 10k of your life. After Megan left me at Mile 20 with some awesome encouragement,  I continued finding people to pick off. I was starting to lose steam, but kept going.
At Mile 23, I was at 2:56. If I ran a 24 minute 5k, I could do this in under 3:20 (Note: I must have been delirious, I think it was 4 miles to go, not 3) . I rocked it out to a few good songs, and then I wanted to stop. I wanted to walk. I was completely out of steam. I kept going. I had my only 8 minute mile in the last 5k. I'm bummed about the weak finish, but I kept going, all under goal pace and finished in 3:22:23!!!!!!

Its so... symmetrical! That's a 55 minute PR! I am not only going to Boston, but starting in the first wave!! I still can't believe I have a 3:22 marathon PR! Holy crap!

I finished 10th in my division (20-24 females, there were over 750 of us!), 92nd female, and 801st overall! 801 out of over 20,000! Woo hoo!!

Huge thanks to Megan, and to Tyler, Jaclyn, and Natalie. I like to think I'm completely invincible and they took care of me when I was shaking uncontrollably and didn't want to eat or drink anything. It wasn't until 2 hours after the marathon that I had to go to the bathroom--yikes!

When the sun was beating down on the bridge, it felt way too warm. The sun was so hot. I could feel the salt burning my skin, my eyes, my chapped lips. At the end I dumped a bottle of water over my head. It felt amazing. Amazing amazing amazing... until I was freezing. So, post-race was a bit hard. Here I was imaging having friends there and glowing from the awesome run, and instead I was dead tired!

The best about my Boston plans is that I'm feeling no post-race blues at all. After all the training, its hard to be done in such a short amount of time (this morning flew by! Especially the first 8 miles!). But, I have so many awesome plans! And my finish line isn't until April. So... I'll be outlining those plans at one point, and I'm ready for an amazing marathon in Boston.

Note: So I wrote this that night, and while I'd like to go through and polish the post, I think it works... being inside my excited, enthusiastic, but tired as hell mind.

Friday, October 23, 2009


 Today, I went to the MCM expo. I got socks, double fisted beer and chocolate soy milk, and I got to hear Bart Yasso, the "Chief Running Officer" of Runner's World talk about all his cool running experiences. He spoke about Badwater 146, 20 years ago when there were only some 8 competitors, and marathons in Africa, Antarctica, and the Arctic circle. They were all amazing stories, but my favorite was his race in Africa, where he raced with all West Africans, and finished in 2:40 to find the finish line closed and the race was over after 2:20. Ha!

His whole theme was that there are no limits to where running can take you. He also gave some pointers re the course, which looked like nothing compared to the 146-mile trek through Death Valley to the top of Mt. Whitney in the middle of July (it averages 135 degrees). His advice was to get a negative split (meaning you run the second half faster than the first), take the hills slow both up and down in the first 8 miles. The rest of the course is pretty flat. That's one bit of advice I never take, and it always works. I just take advantage of the downhill, instead of using up energy to stay slow, and it hasn't hurt me yet.

I still don't know how much time I should give myself on the miles uphill. I'm hoping to only slow down my 8:00 pace by 15 seconds, but we'll see.

Here is a little quote from the Badwater site, by Teddy Roosevelt:
It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A good start

I mean, its important right? You need to line up with people doing your pace, you can't run too fast, you need to get to a porta-potty first, down some last minute salty pretzels, take off warm up gear in time...

Yay! Time for stories.

In 2006, I contracted pink eye the week before the race. Meaning, I had to run without contacts. Meaning, I was nearly blind. All I see are blurbs (I'm at -4.25). Literally my strategy was "follow the people in shorts." So, I dropped off my bag last minute with my glasses, after a 5am train from DC to Baltimore (while downing a bagel) and a cab from the train station. Kept my long sleeved shirt on because I was freezing. And used the bathroom. So, my strategy didn't include that there was a half marathon. I didn't even know the race started, I got a "honey, are you running the marathon?" I answered yes, and was informed that the last marathoners crossed the start line. So I nearly sprinted to what I thought was the start line, and was one of the last runners to start. I spent the entire race passing people.

The Baltimore marathon is really awesome. The best part is that the last 6 miles are all downhill. My goal was to finish, and I finished well. I remember passing the 26 mile mark, but I couldn't see the finish line. And that last 0.2 mile is a lot longer than you imagine at that point. So, I run for a bit and then I actually just stopped running, and was like "Isn't this thing over yet? Did I pass the finish line?" I actually could not see, and I had never done a race before. Someone told me it was up ahead, and only then did I sprint to the finish (which was really obvious once I got there).

Now, you'd think that I would have learned my lesson with MCM. Unfortunately, I had still not started a race right, and with the long walk from the bag check to the starting corral, I started with the 4:30ers instead of the 4:00ers, so once again, I spent the whole race passing people.

Even my last 1/2 marathon, I ran by feel, so I started with the 2:00ers, my goal was to just get sub 2 hours, but I secretly wanted 1:45. I once again was continually passing people, and based on feel got a 1:47.

So, I promise I'll do it right this time! Check my bag, jog to the start line as a warm up, bring pretzels and a water bottle to toss, and line up toward the beginning/middle of the 3:20-3:39 corral... ten minutes early.

Today, I did a lovely 4-mile run, with 2 miles at race pace and the last 0.2 at a 6:00 pace. It felt so fantastic, I really love my race pace. Actually, I was running like 15 seconds below race pace, which I'd love to do the last half in for an awesome negative split. We'll see how I feel at mile 14!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My MCM playlist!

Just finished a really yummy dinner of eggplant, spinach and artichokes with shrimp over whole wheat linguine. I listened through my iPod while walking home from work, which takes about an hour, and I think I have my mind made up on my playlist. My friend Megan is going to jump onto the course when I pass by GW and run about 5 miles with me! I'm really excited; I know she'll keep my pace up since she's a Cross Country champ. She runs 5ks at like, 5 minute mile pace.

I looked through the course while putting it together and came up with the following songs. I went off DCRunnerGrrl's directions, and as I read through her songs, realized we had a lot of the same music and found some great finds. As she did, I'll forewarn with "what pumps me up might leave you feeling flat and  (or offended, considering many of my pump-up songs are angry, misogynistic gangsta-rap songs that send my gender, and the human race, back a good century or so)."

Miles 1-3 are uphill, but I know I’ll have adrenaline like whoa. So here are 27 minutes of uplifting, but slower music so I don't burn out:
Born to run—Bruce Springteen
The Distance—Cake (Thanks Amy!)
I Gotta Feeling—Black Eyed Peas
Gives you Hell—The All-American Rejects
All Star—Smash Mouth (One of the best songs of the 90's)
Beautiful Day—U2
Miles 3-6 are downhill, so I’ll need 22 minutes of awesome songs, to keep my pace up but the effort will be easy anyway.
This is why I’m Hot—MIMS
Poker Face—Lady Gaga
Good Life—Kanye West (one of the best runner's high songs eva)
What you know—T.I.
Shakin Hands—Nickelback
Shut the Club Down—Girl Talk
Miles 6-8 are uphill, so I want 17 minutes of upbeat songs:
You Can Do it—Ice Cube… so you know, I’m reminded to put my ass into it
Harder Better Faster Stronger—Daft Punk
Shut up and drive—Rhianna
Mercy—Duffy (Since I will mostly likely be begging for it)
Shine—Joanna Pacetti
Run this Town—Jay-Z, Rhianna, and Kanye (Such a awesome song)
For the next two miles, I’m running downhill. So I just need 5 songs to get me down.
I Get Knocked Down—Chumbawamba
Lets Go—Trick Daddy
Beautiful, Dirty, Rich—Lady Gaga
Amour du Sol—Yelle
Kryptonitel—Purple Ribbon All-Stars

Miles 10 to 26 are pretty flat, so I can do the rest in 5-mile increments. From here we have 16 minutes until we need some Bon Jovi.
A Cause de Garcons—Yelle
Fame—Lady Gaga
Soldier—Destiny Child (you know, for the Marines at every water station)
Fighter—Christina Aguleria
Stronger—Kanye west
Living on a Prayer—Bon Jovi (Ooooh we're halfway there...)
Everything’s Magic—Angels&Airwaves (great runner’s high song)
Check Yes Juliet—We Three Kings (run baby run! Don't ever look back…)
Shake it—Metro Station
Miles 15 to 20 are around the National Mall to the 14th Street Bridge. I’ll need the motivation, but I’m saving my best songs for the last 10k. Plus, Megan will be joining me!
Welcome to the World—Kevin Rudolf
Party in the USA—Miley Cyrus
You can’t stop the beat—from Hairspray! :)
So What—Pink
The Adventure—Angels&Airwaves
I know you see it—Yung Joc
Over my Head—the Fray
Baby Got Back—Sir Mix A Lot
Starstruck—Lady Gaga
Let it Rock—Kevin Rudolf
If U Seek Amy—Britney Spears
Instigator—Kaci Brown
Don’t Stop—Michael Jackson
Burn it to the Ground—Nickelback
Last 10k: All my best songs, whether it’s a repeat or not!! This is when I put everything I have left into it
The War—Angels&Airwaves
Remember the name—Fort Minor
The Distance—Cake
Lose Yourself—Eminem
Move Along—All-American rejects

Bombs over Baghdad—Outkast
Je Veux Te Voir—Yelle
Lets Get Loud—J-lo
You can do it—Ice Cube
Run this Town—Jay-Z, etc.
Bombs over Baghdad—Outkast (Twice, because its proven that faster songs make you run faster)

Harder Better Faster Stronger—Daft Punk
The Climb—Miley Cyrus
That's it! If you have any awesome songs I need to have on here, please let me know!!!