Monday, May 30, 2011

May 29th - Ken Gar North - 9 miles - 2ish hours

On a hot holiday weekend I didn't expect too many folks to show up, but I guess everyone wanted to run off their Memorial Day meals early. I arrived around 6:40 and it was packed. I had enough time to use the bathroom (porta potties are starting to get that nice summer stank) and meet up with Coach Don who handed me an American flag bandanna.

We had a decent sized crew, though looking around we are probably one of if not the smallest pace groups. And all women, with the exception of Coaches Don and Mike. Poor guys, surrounded by an awful lot of estrogen for an awful lot of miles.

The route was north for 4.5 miles, it's not the hardest path on earth but it's tougher than south. Little hills add up after a while, especially on a hot morning. And as happens, at least with our group, we started to separate a bit. This is always tricky, and I don't envy the coaches. You want the group to stay together as much as possible but if someone's having a bad day there's no sense in beating them down during a training run.

Don hung with the back of the pack, Mike and Kathy moved up. At water stops we would hold up the front of the group until the rest of our runners caught up with us. We're still getting used to Coach Mike and he's getting used to us but I love the way he works. He's legitimately concerned about keeping us a group and if we can't all stay together then making sure subgroups have someone to keep them company. With Mike's leadership skills and Kathy's amazing ability to chat and keep us upbeat and Don's support we're unstoppable!

I lost some mileage when I forgot to restart my Gamin, I clocked 8.66 miles at a 12:44 pace. I know we picked it up a lot in the final charge home after the Silencer so I'm sure we did a little better than that. I clock all of the moving minutes, even if we're walking, but stop the watch when we hit the water fountains or red lights. Given the weather and attempts to keep our group together I think we did just fine. And we had fun, which is the most important part.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

May 25th - MCC Track - 6.45 miles - 1:16

Looks like it's going to be another stupidly hot and humid summer. Yay.

With Bo out of town I stopped home to feed the dogs, then I hit every read light between my house and the track. Normally I would have had a mini-stroke about being less than 15 minutes early, but I'm so much more comfortable and confident about training this year I didn't sweat it (ha - summer joke!).

I rolled up pretty much right at 6:30 to relieved looks from Kathy and Ameenah. We chatted for a few minutes before taking off for the warm-up lap. I stuck with Ameenah and we did it right this time, like a minute and a half slower than I did it the last time. It's got a few little hills, though to me every hill is huge, and I tried my hardest not to wear myself out. I declare that lap a success!

Then to the track - 14 laps with laps 4, 8 and 12 (I think) being 10-20 seconds faster than LSD pace. It took a while to get into a groove, we have a few people who'd never done track runs before and a coach who didn't entirely realise that the outside lane (to which we slowpokes are relegated) is longer than the inside. We would occasionally gain and lose group members as the speed, heat and humidity took their toll. Coach Mike wanted to stop for water only once, after lap 7, but we out voted him and decided to take a quick break every four or five laps. Speedwork or not, on an 85 degree evening with 85% humidity some of us needed frequent water stops.

We finished with a group five strong, and four of us headed out for the cool-down lap. It's a different route from the warm-up but I don't like it any more. Still when Coach Mike gave us the option of five more laps around the track or one around campus we immediately jumped on the campus run. I can only take so many circles! We headed out of the track and went right, most groups seemed to go left. I think I like left better, going right you come back up a hill through a parking lot that seems worse than it is but you usually don't want to do when you're so close to your car. I usually fall behind here but I refused to let Coaches Kathy and Mike one-up me and I stuck with them to the end.

It was hot but I actually had a really good time out there. We ran fast (math shows an average 11:53 pace) and at times it felt a little tough but when it was over I felt happy and strong. And sweaty.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

May 22nd - Ken-Gar South - 8.25 miles - 1:43:14

I was out of town last week joining my husband and crew on part of their epic cross-country motorcycle ride so I wasn't around for the group runs. I did 5 miles last Tuesday with some friends before I left, then the Warrior Dash on Saturday after returning home. If you haven't done a warrior dash, do it! It's amazing, and a little muddy.

With all the travel and few hours of sleep I wasn't very peppy for this morning's run. Not that I ever am, I guess. But I like the long runs so off I went, and got there around 6:40. I used the bathroom and chatted with Coach Don until the rest of my crew arrived. I soon saw the familiar pink shirt across the parking lot and with her was my favorite blue bandanna, Ameenah. She was my rock last year and while we never lost touch I'm glad to see her back after recovering from gallbladder surgery.

Not much to report about this run, I guess. We had a good sized group, one worthy of three coaches. I ran all but maybe the last .75 miles at the front of the pack, not some place I'm used to being. And most of that with Ameenah until she dropped back just a tiny bit (but, man, she is a BEAST and when she wants to do something you can't stop her so she plowed through like a champ). Talked with some friends old and made some new ones, at least one other group member lives pretty close by so I think I found a buddy for my weekday morning runs. That should be a huge help.

We were led during the first half by Don, then by Mike. with Kathy taking the middle or back and keeping everyone in good spirits. These guys are phenomenal pacers, we averaged 12:30 exactly with little variation in our splits. I already knew I loved Coaches Don and Kathy but I really dig Coach Mike too. He's a really awesome "old-timer," I think he's like 74, very supportive and helpful, willing to answer questions and give (and take) advice. The route was nothing new or fancy, but I had a solid run and a fun time.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

May 11th - MCC Track - 5.9 miles - 1:10

I will make no bones about it, I hate the track. I always have and likely always will. There's something about knowing that I have to run in repetitive circles for an hour... it's really not THAT bad and if I didn't mentally psyche myself out every Wednesday it really wouldn't be a big deal.

What is still strange to me is the warm-up lap. As always we go as one big group around campus (through it when school isn't as busy). It's a sight to behold, I'm sure, 100+ runners moving as a herd. The problem is that the front of the herd consists of gazelles and the back of the herd is full of elephants (which I mean in the nicest way possible). So an 11 minute-mile is super duper crazy slow for a bunch of people, but for those of us in the back it's not exactly a relaxing warm-up. We could slow down, then we'd be late to the stretching session and getting on the track so I, for one, will likely never learn and will continue to run this lap too fast. I did the 1.4 mile warm-up at a 11:15 pace.

And then to the track. We almost had more 12:30 coaches than runners. Either the girls from Sunday weren't there or they decided to change groups, not sure. The track is an interesting place, even more so when you're joined by the "regular" runners - hot guys with their shirts off. I don't want to say that the 12:30s aren't a serious group of runners, perhaps I should say that we don't take ourselves too seriously. We're out there every week just like everybody else, and often for much longer, but we have fun while we're at it. We take breaks when needed (after six laps this time around). We joke, we complain, we laugh. And that's why I keep going back.

Coach Mike was tracking our time each lap, but what wasn't taken into consideration was that our laps were like .31 miles and not .25 since we were on the outside and didn't stagger our stopping and starting points. So my Garmin says we ran the miles on the track at 11:37, 11:37 and 11:45. These were supposed to be done as LSD pace so no wonder Don and I were sweating a bit! It always seems tougher on the track, I can run 10 sub-12 minute miles (back in the day I did 13.1 of 'em straight through) but for some reason doing it in circles seems harder to me. Again, it's probably mental.

We enjoyed a slow cool-down lap, then three of us amigos walked a lap together. We hope to get the group together for pizza after track workouts from here on out. These folks have become really good friends and I'm glad we're all back together for another year.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Photos from May 8th run

We have an awesome club photographer who snaps pics during training runs and races. I'm usually not in any of them, and while he got a ton of our group this time I seem to be hiding in most. I'm kind of visible here, in the pinkish shirt, black capris and blue hat:

We were stopped at a light and I tried to get the team to run excitedly across the street for the camera but only two of us seemed to want to do it:

Sunday, May 8, 2011

May 8th - Ken-Gar South - 7.03 miles - 01:27

As soon as I finished the marathon in October I swore I wasn't doing another one, but clearly I cannot be trusted! I am registered for MCM again, and Virginia Beach in March 2012, possibly running Philly in November 2011. Since then I haven't been running too much (a 5k, half-marathon and 10 mile race), usually just weekend runs with some members from last year's 12:30 pace group. I was pretty undecided on actually doing it again I found out that most of my buddies were in and I knew we had great coaches. So here I am, again, running for a good cause.

The first run of the Montgomery County Road Runners' First Time Marathon (MCRRC FTM) began bright and early on a beautiful Mother's Day. I suited up in my CWX capris and new shirt and was at the park by 6:50AM.

The park was crowded and buzzing with the excitement emanating from participants new and old. Unlike last year I wasn't scared out of my mind and Coach Andy commented that I looked ready this year. Quite the compliment!

We had three wonderful coaches - Don, Kathy and Mike. I know Kathy well and she's super-duper awesome, Don is one of the nicest guys I've ever met, and this Mike fellow was a really nice, supportive guy. In addition to my buddy Kathy, Hengameh and Joelle from last year's 12:30s were also there today, and I know a few more will be joining shortly. We had a few members that had done the program before but I didn't really know, along with a couple of total noobs. Coach Andy and his running buddy Jan also hung with us today.

As they said during the announcements, this should be the easiest run you've done in a long time. And so it was, we ended with exactly a 12:30 pace (including two brief walking water breaks). And negative splits! I don't think I've ever actually done that before, so thanks guys!

The run was uneventful, on a course I've seen a million times. We ran slow and steady and enjoyed the weather and the company of friends new and old. I think some of the new folks were getting a little anxious, kept running in front of the coaches and pushing the pace. I know how it goes, I'm pretty sure I did the same thing on my first run last year (I recall Hengameh and I being referred to as "horses galloping back to the stables"). They may stay with our group, they may not. Heck, even I considered moving up a pace group but I'm in it to run with my friends, not necessarily to improve. Running 7 slow miles on a near-perfect day is quite different than running 20 miles at that pace on a miserably hot, humid August morning. But no matter who stays or who goes I think we have a great group this year and we'll have a lot of fun over the next 26 weeks!