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!!!

And the butterflies fly away....

I've still been mostly freaking out and scared to death, but at the same time crazy excited about Sunday. So, this is my motivational, confidence boosting post.
  • Last night, I put together my "Official MCM Playlist" based on my "Working MCM playlist" which made me sad that I had to make official labels as if I were at work. Its awesome and I know that when I'm out there the music will really make me stay motivated. I also made up a "Pre-Race motivation playlist"...
  • Which starts out with a new song I discovered, and you can all make fun of me more but its the Party in the USA song by Miley Cyrus. I decided to download it for the lap around the mall and I tried it out this morning. Its pretty great and helps me focus on relaxing and not being so nervous. I could just imagine the runner's high at that point, 15 miles in and the ease of moving through the crowd of people. I was all smiles (hell, its three hours later and I'm still all smiles!)
  • I also discovered Run this Town, by Jay-Z, Rhianna, and Kanye. And I went through the course for my playlist, so I had awesome songs for the uphills and all. And so, I'm thinking along the lines of I own this. This is my city. I've been running up those hills for four years! I cross the 14th street bridge about 5 times a week. I've run the MCM before! I have nothing to be worried about.
  • It seems like my 23 mile run was so far away, so I am thinking back on those moments after running 23 miles at hitting 7:45 pace at the end. Also, I'm thinking back on how I felt after my 16 mile race pace run and all the support from the Loop on I know that I was prepared, and its been less than a month, so I'm still prepared.
  • Even if I don't get the 3:30 time I want (and its motivating knowing everyone knows what my goal is), I have 10 minutes and 59 seconds before I don't qualify anymore for Boston. That's quite the cushion. I know I can do that.
  • The weather should be awesome. Right now, the forecast is 60's and partly cloudy.
  • There will by hot marines at every water station. In '07, my motivational mantra was Three miles to more eye candy!
  • There will be water stations. Period. I'll be carrying around less weight than on my long runs.
  • I took time off work to go to the Race Expo Friday! So excited!
  • I actually got to bed at 9 last night, and woke up at 5 this morning. Hopefully I will get used to this by Sunday. I had a good 5 mile run, and it felt fantastic!
  • My last race, I did the half marathon at a pace to qualify for Boston, and I didn't even train for it. At all. So, I know I can do it twice now. I have my Garmin to keep me accountable for every mile.
  • I'm trying to have my diet revolve around plants, rather than animal products. The multiple red bell peppers I've eaten should keep my immune system pretty solid. I made a giant batch of this Curried Sweet Potato and Lentil soup, but with butternut squash for the week. I have a ton of left over pumpkin lasagna from my baking and cooking party with my friend Amy. I also decided to start eating salads at breakfast. I love it! It has a high water content so its really refreshing and rehydrating. I had a big bowl of corn for my recovery carbs too. I got green, red, orange, and yellow all in before 8 a.m.! My salad was topped with pear slices, pecans and goat cheese, so I got some protein too!
So yeah, I'm ready for Sunday. I can't wait for Sunday. I will most likely go crazy and doubt myself a bazillion times before Sunday. Sigh.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Song of the Week: Lose Yourself

A lot of the music I listen to is rap or hip hop when I'm running. I know its strange, but they all have good beats, and it just gets me in the workout mood. Anyway, Eminem's Lose Yourself is on my playlist at the very beginning. Its just a great, intense song that focuses on doing the best during this opportunity. After all, I really do just lose myself in the music, letting it juice up my run.

You better lose yourself in the music
The moment you own it you better never let it go, oh
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
Cuz opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Its not my fault I can't run slow!


Yesterday, I decided on an 11-mile run instead of the 8 I had planned. I just really wanted to do a decent long run. It was cold, windy, raining and I didn't eat dinner the night before. My breakfast consisted of a pastry and spinach (I had a green craving). I had a cup of coffee and maybe a glass of water. However, I was reading more of Born to Run and as I finished my designated chapter, I was inspired to get out there.

It was cold and rainy. I just had my watch, a long-sleeved shirt and my black yoga pants on. No jacket and no iPod. I was going to get drenched, so I decided a jacket would just hold me down. I felt absolutely fantastic. I was so looking forward to this weekend's long run that I was smiling and moving effortlessly. I always look at other runners, and they almost always look like they're in pain! I never got this.  Not yet a mile in I looked at my watch, feeling like I was at 9:00 min/mi (my usual warm up pace) and I was at 7:20. As I tore down the mall the wind was hitting me hard and I was still way under race pace. I felt as if I leaned over just a bit more, the wind would literally sweep me off my feet and I would start flying. Helloooo runner's high!!

I continued my speed, there were no runners out in the horrible weather in VA. I passed two men at 6:50in/mi pace and for some reason I really love passing men, so this gave me an extra spring in my step. As I was on my last 3 miles home, I stopped at a red light and realized how numb my legs felt. Even worse, when I touched my legs, I couldn't feel that I was touching myself. Since my legs were so cold, I decided to try to keep it at 9:00 min/mi so that I wouldn't strain anything. I really wasn't supposed to be running very fast anyway.

I found this extremely difficult. I kelp creeping back down to 8:30-8:45 pace. It wasn't until I hit Capitol Hill that my ankle felt off again and so I walked up. From there, I was too cold to run fast, although I did catch myself back at that 8:30 pace again a few times. I got home, stripped immediately and curled up next to my space heater as I stretched and ate pasta. Oh how I love living alone.

Overall, it was a great run and I felt fantastic. I really can't wait for Oct 25th. Not for the BQ and the excitement of race day, but mostly so that I can get out there for a 26.2 mile run.

Friday, October 16, 2009

My Single Life: A love story

I woke up at six today and looked out the window to see sheets of rain coming down. Its sort of like mother nature taunting me with "You love running? Run in THIS."  Thursday morning, I was shivering in my room, and put on my heavy duty winter pants and my north face and was still cold. When I opened up the door to see pouring rain, I slammed it shut and went back to bed. I was already freezing, I didn't want to get wet too.

Today, I wanted to get out there (sort of, a part of me did want to go back to bed) and apparently I was the only one who felt this way since Lincoln Park was nearly empty, with only a few dog walkers out. I wanted to do 8x800m with alternating laps in 3min then lap of rest. This was my usual speed workout during training. While standing at the corner, I was shivering and my teeth were chattering as I started getting soaked by the rain. I'm sure that did wonders for my health. I set my auto lap at 0.5 miles and started running around the park. When my first half mile was over I looked down to see a 4:37 time. Right, warm up. I upped the pace for what would be a speed lap, and came out at 4:16.

So, I asked my body, I hauled my ass out here in the freezing rain at 6 a.m. to run over race pace!? I don't think so!

Well, my heart replied, could you give me a little more time to warm up. You didn't even give me caffeine.

Yeah, my stomach piped up, usually you both feed me and give me coffee before making me run.

I started to pay close attention to my body. I left my orthotics at work, and my left foot complained about that lacking arch support. My legs didn't enjoy the hard cobblestone. I looked at my pretty, purple shoes and then at the wet, muddy trail on the inside of the park. It was time to wear these babies in! As I jumped over and started running on the trail, feeling my feet stick a little and some water and mud cover the backs of my legs, I sort of felt like I was a little kid again. I started laughing and took up my pace, looking closely to avoid a tree root or rock.

My legs preferred the soft trail. My hips felt great. My hunger dissipated and my heart-rate started getting up there. My arms were shoved inside my windbreaker, and my hands warm. My hair was soaked and now there was sweat mixing in with the rain, which started to feel really wonderful.

I gave up on being frustrated about my pace, and all of a sudden realized how beautiful everything was. The rain was getting lighter, but it was still dark out, with a hint of the sun rising. The leaves are starting to change color, the streets and cobblestone sidewalk were slick and shiny. The park was nearly empty and since it was raining, I left my iPod at home. It was pretty silent other than the occasional car and then I smiled to myself thinking: moonlight and champagne.

It was still dark so the moon really was still out, but I finally popped the bottle of champagne.  The run became a wonderfully sensual and romantic start to my morning. It wasn't all that great of a speedworkout, but I felt so incredibly relaxed and calm. My hot shower when I got home was heaven and I couldn't help but think about how much I love my body--with a confidence I had always lacked. Now, I feel bummed about staying in yesterday morning.

Now, a part of me wants to end this post here about how a lovely morning run was really romantic. I would quote McDougall again ("Grueling, grimy, muddy, bloody, lonely trail-running equals moonlight and champagne."), but a saw a bit of a trend with the way I describe my interests and I think I'm going to digress a bit.

This thought process started after last night's Capital's game, while I was waiting for the bus. I'm wearing red, I'm a DC resident, and I love hockey. Yes, I'm a Caps fan, but I just don't have that draw to the team like I do the Buffalo Sabres. Its like lately, I meet a lot of really, really great guys, but there is no spark, I just don't connect with them like, well, other people (long story).

I got homesick again like the last time I went to a non-Caps v. Sabres game at Verizon, and last night I went to the bus stop, took out my iPod and decided to go to my Sabres playlist. There I have Sabres remixes from the local radio station Kiss 98.5 and the Sabres Anthem from 2007. I have both background songs to the remixes on my marathon playlist: Move along by the All-American Rejects and The Adventure by Angels&Airwaves, so I think I'm gonna replace it with the Sabres version. And, of course, when I do mile dedications, the Sabres get one. Anyway, I realized I had been talking about the Sabres all night instead of focusing on the Caps, and I was sort of feeling like those times I go on dates and just compare them to someone else the whole time.

Once I explained to a guy sitting next to me at a game, that I had the crush on the Caps, I was interested in a long term relationship, but they would have to accept that I would always put my long distance team, real love, first.

So all this makes me wonder why the hell I compare almost everything to being in love and romance? Which is funny, seeing as I'm one of few girls/people I know that don't want to be in a relationship, and is totally fine "seeing other people" but not actually having a boyfriend. And maybe, I realized this morning, its because I've been able to draw those sensual, romantic, passionate feelings from other aspects of my life.

So, next time I go for a run and come in feeling like I just went on a really good date with great expectations for the next one, I'll be thankful I don't need someone else to make me feel like that. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Only 10 more days of freaking out to go!

My 5 lb. weight range has always been between 107-112 lbs. Once I was down to 103 and the most I've ever weighed was 117 after my semester in Paris.  I finally bought a scale yesterday and got on to find I'm 120!! How did that happen?! I wasn't too worried about weight gain during the taper until now. And then, I talked myself into some common sense. Its probably mostly muscle, but that a LOT of muscle.

I don't see a huge difference in the mirror, but there are little hints that let you know you are actually losing fat if the scale doesn't tell you. My rings don't fit anymore. I don't fill out my bra cups as much. My clothes don't fit. In fact, today a co-worker saw me and said "Your clothes look really big. I noticed it right away and I hate you." Unfortunately, I'm already a size 00 (don't hate, I'm 5'2" and that's average). So that means I'm going to need to get most of my stuff tailored or find a brand that makes their clothes smaller. But people who make their clothes smaller tend to be more expensive. Sigh.

Also, I've been thinking even more about it. Weighing more means you have a higher metabolism. It means I can eat more at 120 than at 110. I'm also a little sore from my 14 mile run, which is really bad news. I wish I could build up mileage again, but I will resist the urge and stick to my taper plan. Basically, I'm freaking out over every little detail and everything my body is doing. I told you this would happen!

With ten days until the race, I have a lot to tweak. This weekend, I'll review my playlist. I wore my new shirt on Monday, and there was a little chafing, but otherwise I really liked it. My new Sauconys come in today. I'm going to go buy tube socks, and cut off the feet to serve as arm warmers until I get warmed up. I'll be on the lookout for the weather report to see if I need a hat, or if I should switch to pants. Its freezing out today!! I'll wear the same little black shorts that I wore my last MCM if I think it'll be warm enough. The Friday before the race, I'm getting my bangs cut awkwardly short (which I think looks pretty cute) and thinned out a little so that I dont have to worry about them being in the way or not staying back.

In terms of food, this week I'm eating a ton of vegetables, fruit, lentils, whole grains, and I'm sticking to trying to eat meat only three times a week. Since I'm still a little worried about weight gain, no added sugars for me, except for a baking extravaganza on Sunday with my friend Amy. Next Wednesday, I will start adding an extra carb portion to every meal.

Shout out to my awesome mother who visited and brought me about 10 boxes of pasta and a giant jar of peanut butter!

Next Friday, I'll eat a whole, whole lot of carbs. Saturday before the race, I'm going to do the typical Nando's peri-peri as a late lunch with a light dinner and eat as little fiber as possible. Race day, I'll have a yummy bowl of oatmeal and a banana with peanut butter.

I'll be reviewing the race course almost every night before bed so that I have it memorized. The week prior, my bedtime is 8:30-9a.m. and I'll be up by 4:30-5:00 a.m. so that its habit by race day. And, if all goes wrong and I don't get my BQ, then in December I'll be going to Vegas.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Gynecologic Cancer Foundation's Half-marathon

I just registered for the inaugural Gynecologic Cancer Foundation's half-marathon! I'm excited to do another distance race this season. I've been tempted to try to run the marathon even faster, but I'm sticking to my 3:30 goal. So this race, I'm just going to run full out. Its 13.1 miles and I'm going to race on feel more than pace.

For the first time, I'm going to ask for donations for a race. You can access my fundraising page here. I've had many friends diagnosed with cervical cancer and because they were able to catch it so early, it was easy to fight. Not only does awareness play such a major role in fighting women's cancers, but also health. If you take care of your body, it'll take care of you. :)

So, please donate! It's a very personal issue to me and it'll be even more motivating to race it if I've reached my goal. Thanks so much!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Song of the Week: The Climb

Go ahead, make fun of me. Yes, I'm putting Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana on here.  But, this song came out as I was starting and it'll end up being the song that I associate with training for MCM09. Mostly, because training is really difficult and takes a large amount of dedication, discipline and patience, all of which do not come naturally to me.

The Climb is really motivating in reminding me that every workout counts, and you need to push on no matter what; each one builds on the last.  My only issue is with the line "It doesn't matter how fast you get there," since really, that's almost all that matters right now.

So, I'm throwing her at the end of my playlist, when I'm running up that last hill, I'll be reminded of getting up early for a run every morning so that I could make that climb and give everything I have. 0.2 miles later, I can throw up/pass out/stuff my face with bagels--might as well give it my all. On that hand, I decided my mantra is going to be: "It's 3 1/2 hours of your life--make it hurt."

Sane and friendly again

I go back and forth all day with one of these thoughts: I miss training already, I can't for December, and Wow, I really don't want to do that again.  I read about people who are only 6 weeks into training, and I thank God I'm finished. But, they talk about 16 mile runs and I get jealous at the same time. I've finally been running again, although my ankle sometimes gets uncomfortable. Most of the time, it feels great.

Friday, I had to stay an hour after work since everything was going wrong with the project I had. I was so upset that I started giving Lucy, the attorney that I love, attitude, snapped at the cashier at CVS, legitimately yelled at a tourist on the metro, and finally called my mom, who was just getting into town, yelling that I needed to go for a run since I was in such a bad mood. Seven miles later, I was much, much more friendly. Who knew I could be such a bitch when things get in the way of me running?

Sunday, I went on a quick 6 mile run with my Aunt's friend, and actually didn't mind running with someone else at all. Most of the time, I really don't like it. We didn't talk very much, still listened to our iPods, and it keeps me from stopping at all or slowing down--which I do sometimes when I'm alone.

Today, I did a 14-mile long run... what the hell!! It was August last time I counted a 14-miler as a long run. I went out to do my thing and just enjoy the long run, my average pace was only 8:30min/mi, but I also forgot to stop the clock a lot. Many times, I was enjoying a really nice, comfortable pace and looked down to see I was under race pace--an uplifting discovery.

I'm pulling a big no-no and also running an extra 3 miles today over to GW to teach a dance for Greek Week. I know 17 miles on a taper day isn't good, but I had a few hours and a meal to recover and I plan on taking it easy. I'll still get there faster than public transportation. Also, I have off tomorrow!
The rest of the week consists of a 6-mile run, a 4-mile speedworkout, and a 4 mile easy run. Saddest thing: on Sunday my long run is only 8 miles.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I'd rather be running

Ok, I'm allowed at least two more of these.
I'm going crazy!

I really, really hate the taper. Everything I do, I'm thinking: "I'd rather be running." My ankle is feeling better so I'm thinking 8 miles tomorrow and 14 on Sunday. I'll feel so wonderful that I may cry. The spinning classes have been a lot of fun, but I obviously prefer running.

The thing that drives me most crazy is my appetite. I'm hungry all the time, but I'm sooo worried about weight gain. I really wish  I had a scale because I really can't trust the mirror. As an example, yesterday I had a gigantic veggie burrito from Baja Fresh... as a snack. Along with a breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And never did I feel full. The worst is I'm still immersed in reading a book about running, following blogs, following people on twitter... and all I want to do is run out the door and go for a long run. I'm guessing that my first mile at MCM will be a 6:30 mile because I'll be so excited to finally run it.

So, if I decide to shave my head, jump off a bridge, or attack innocent people with an umbrella... Don't sweat it, all I'll need is a good run to get me on track.

Monday, October 5, 2009


In these, I'm 5'7"... the world looks different in 5-inch heels. They are on my staircase, calling my name.

Twenty days until MCM! I'm extremely restless and its such a beautiful day. I wish I could be out running, but I did a good amount of walking, which was nice enough. Yes, another shoe-related post. I have a couple points to make.
  •  My shoes today are ugly. I've been in flat boots, supportive shoes, or sneakers since Tuesday. I even had to wear flats for my birthday. Its not fair. My ankle needs to feel better ASAP.
  • I read that Achilles tendons (the one I think I strained), are aggravated by the switch from heels (over 2") to flats or running shoes. So, the question is which one do I ditch!?
  • I had no injuries at all, until I switched sneakers. So, was the ankle strain because of overtraining, or my new shoes? Do I go back to the Sauconys for the race? Even though they're shot? My new Asics feel great, and they are a light stability shoe as opposed to the neutral shoe I was wearing. I do like them a lot, now I'm just worried. In the past, I've almost always worn a stability shoe. I mean, I did a lot of miles in the days prior to my strain, it could most likely be from overtraining.
I took three days off after the strain, had a light 5-mile run on Saturday, which felt ok, but then I was sore the rest of the day. I got lost looking for the gym on Sunday--so I ran about 3 miles and felt sore still. Today is an ankle rest day. The rest of the week is comprised of 3 spinning classes, along with a 3 mile run (1.5 to the gym and back). I wanted to try another 5-mile run on Saturday.

Despite my now super-extended and relaxed taper, I still feel pretty confident. I worked really hard, and now its time to let my ankle recover. I'm going to see how I feel toward the end of the week, and maybe I'll still do the 13 mile run planned for Sunday. It'll be an easy 13 miles, of course.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Born to Run

 As a preface, this post is three weeks early. This is what my race day, or day before race day post, should be. Nevertheless, I'm tempted to write it now.

I'm glad I'm hurt.

As I walk around DC the last five days, I've seen plenty of runners. Each time they catch my attention. I'll be in the middle of a conversation and ignore the person, while I zero in on the man or woman with the earbuds in, athletic wear on, and watch their feet hit the ground rhythmically, and much faster than my walking or sedentary place (unless, I'm on a bus). I feel a sense of wistfulness and jealousy. Then there are the people I follow on twitter, the Runner's World "Loopsters," and the MCM message board posters, who all go on about long-runs and weekly mileages and I sit at my computer upset, frustrated, and close to tears.

The last week of training, I was beat. I was looking forward to the taper. I missed my friends.  Still, there was a reason I was piling on the miles; a reason as to why I ran about 5 miles more last week than I was supposed to.

Thursday I turned 22. I met with my friends at Chinatown's Jaleo for tapas and sangria and I apologized for not being around much. I did the same thing at my Sigma Kappa family brunch this morning. The only friend I've seen much of is Jaclyn, when I ran the 5k with her, and Charlie, who will eat at home with me. And the boys in my life, because I love flirting almost as much as I love running.

Doing nothing but sleep, run, work and eat for weeks should have had me miserable. I should be celebrating my new free time with happy hours, movie-dates and dinners. Instead, I'm at a loss. I just sit at home and make dinner, and read, and wish I could be 10-miles out, mid-run, feeling like I could run forever. I'm not feeling depressed (yet) but I feel anxious. I feel lost. And now, I get to be sentimental.

I can't put down Christopher McDougall's book Born to Run.  This morning I almost missed my metro stop, and this afternoon I actually did miss my bus stop, I was so engrossed. I'm quoting him in every way on my social networks, laughing to myself in public, and with my strained ankle, I almost started crying. I want to run. And I want to run so bad that I think about it all the time, and I've rediscovered my absolute love for something that humans are born to love--according to McDougall.

To be honest, the reason I run marathons isn't for the race, or the time on my chip. As I've said before, its simply the finish line to over 500 miles of training. I run marathons so I have an excuse to run 20-mile long runs over the weekend. I have an excuse to dedicate myself to searching for that runner's high. I'm no writer, I'm not all that great at articulating my thoughts or emotions. I won't do this any justice. Fellow runners understand what I'm talking about, but if you run anything less than 8 miles, you won't get it. There's always that peak. It's named the runner's high; I often think of it as my second wind.  Its what makes the long run my favorite weekend activity, and often, I got home only to want to go out and do it again.

It starts with a sort of numbness. It no longer feels like you are working your legs forward, they just go. It doesn't matter what the surface, you hardly feel the ground. At this point, no effort is put forth. Its as if you're at rest, or walking, even when you speed up--which I always do. Your heart rate is slow and melodic, as if you're trying to fall asleep. Breathing is easy. Not only is your body singing with an endorphin-induced high, you feel completely in-tune with every step and its as if you can go on forever. This is why on long runs, I drink as much as a 4-mile speed-workout. I forget about the waterbelt and food on me, and just get lost in my music versus the rhythm of my feet hitting the ground.  My last long run was 3 miles longer than it was supposed to be--you can blame this so called runner's high. I didn't really want to stop. I didn't want to turn around to the memorial bridge. Speed workouts feel great when you push yourself, and let the speed roll off you and your arms pump with your legs. No one has ever passed me during my laps around Lincoln park. It takes a sort of wonderful effort. Its painful. I love it, but its nothing compared to that long run ease.

McDougall describes the runner's high according to ultramarathoner Ann Trason, who described trail running as romantic. I love this description:
Gotcha. Grueling, grimy, muddy, bloody, lonely trail-running equals moonlight and champagne.... Relax enough, and your body becomes so familiar with the cradle-rocking rhythm that you almost forget you're moving. And once you break through to that soft, half-levitating flow, that's when the moonlight and champagne show up: "You have to be in tune with your body, and know when you can push it and when to back off,".... You have to listen closely to the sound of your own breathing; be aware of how much sweat is beading on your back; make sure to treat yourself to cool water and a salty snack and ask yourself, honestly and often, exactly how you feel. What could be more sensual than paying exquisite attention to your own body? Sensual counted as romantic, right?
I don't run to lose weight anymore. I don't run for anybody else but myself. In fact, this will be the first time I have a friend at one of my marathons. The first time, I walked into the Sigma Kappa house with a medal around my neck. When people questioned me I answered nonchalantly that I ran the Baltimore Marathon that morning, and went to go use the elevator. When I was told the elevator broke that morning, I started to cry. It was a rough couple days.

I don't have a coach. I don't run with a running group. Before I got my Garmin, I just concentrated on getting around Lincoln park within 3 minutes when the song on my iPod was over. When I left it at home, I did my speed work until I felt nauseous, then I knew I was at a good pace.  Now that I'm nursing a strained ankle and have barely ran since Tuesday, I'm looking back on the last few months of training and I, without a doubt, had the time of my life.

I barely went out, I didn't see much of my friends, I'll restate that my life was sleep, run, work, eat... and it was fabulous. I was just so happy that now, I'm able to look back and think about how much every run meant to me. My Saucony's are my new best friend. And Princesse Tam Tam, obviously is the best running partner ever. I'm so proud of my training. I can't believe I'm at a point where 8:20 is comfortable, and when I check my garmin on those running highs--I'm at 7:15 easy. 3:10 goal at Boston, anyone?

This post also serves as the song of the week. Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run is probably one of the best songs ever. When that "tramps like us, baby we were born to run" is blasting into my ears, it starts a crazy surge of adrenaline.

Distance running was revered because it was indispensable; it was the way we survived and thrived and spread across the planet. You ran to eat and to avoid being eaten; you ran to find a mate and impress her, and with her you ran off to start a new life together. You had to love running, or you wouldn't live to love anything else. And like everything else we love--everything we sentimentally call our "passions" and "desires"--it's really just an encoded ancestral necessity. We were born to run; we were born because we run. We're all Running People...
- Christopher McDougall

Friday, October 2, 2009

And on the third day, she rested again

I'm glad I have a place to rant.

Three days


I took six days off in the entire month of September, and now its been three days since my last run. My ankle is feeling pretty normal today, and so I'm giving it tonight to rest, and then I'm doing an easy 5-mile run tomorrow. Please God let it be healed!

I'm worried about my now super extended taper, so once I get back into it, I'm going to do a couple tougher workouts next week, but focus on recovering from them. I think I've got this though, I know I will be able to do it on race day.

My appetite is still that of a runner, and I'm worried about weight gain. I'm taking advantage of my 7-day Gold's gym pass starting tomorrow, and fitting in some cross training and weight lifting. So, I have some rough plans, my birthday was fun, I have black hair again... life is good.

Oh, and I'm going crazy. Three days!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Why, hello October!

September stats:
Miles run: 210.11
Total number of training runs: 24
Races: 1
Longest run: 22 miles
Shortest run: .8 miles to the metro...
Average miles per day: 7
Calories burned: approx. 17, 230

Still keeping off my ankle, which is feeling much better. Still eating like a runner. However, it was a joint birthday celebration yesterday, and my birthday is today, so its ok to eat insane amounts of food. I'm dying to go run, I feel totally off. I'm hoping recovery is quick and I can get in a sort-of long run this weekend. October running stats are planning on dropping dramatically. However, due to my ankle, I'm gonna try to fit in some small speedworkouts this month in my taper. I have yet to do Yasso 800s!

Since its my birthday and all, I'm thinking ahead. I'm wondering what my goal should be for Boston. I would love to run a 3:09:58 marathon, so that I can say even if I were a male, I would qualify. That's 7:15 minute miles. That's fast. But, I have barely focused on speedworkouts. I don't cross-train or lift weights because I don't have a gym membership. I'm thinking that if I use that 3 month membership that I won, I could get into good shape (well, better shape) pre-Boston training, and then really focus on speedworkouts in the beginning, I could do it. Its a crazy, crazy goal, but it would only be 20 minutes off my goal for MCM and I did that between my last two marathons. 

Also, I really want to run the Richmond marathon on Nov. 14th. I mean, why just do one marathon a season? Its getting there that's tough. I don't have a car and its about 2 hours outside DC.