Thursday, June 30, 2011

June 29th - MCC Track - 6.18 miles - 01:12

Another tough one! And I finally did some math to figure out why.

We run at LSD pace, 12:30/mile. "Fast" laps are to be at 12:15/mile, or a little over three minutes per 1/4 mile lap. Right? Right. Coach had us running 2:52/lap, in the outside lane. My first four mile splits: 11:47, 10:53, 10:45, 11:10. I can run that fast, on a cool morning or during a race. I can't do it on a hot Wednesday early evening after work.

I kept up with the group for a while, then I hung back. I've been having some shin pain and didn't want to push it that hard for that long. As I stopped for water at some point I saw Coach Don, and I've never been happier (other than when he met us with cold water on Sunday) to see him. I ran the last two miles with him, perfectly on pace and feeling good. We did the recovery laps walking, though, and I'm fine with that. I still ended with an average pace of 11:46. Once I realised that I CAN run what I'm SUPPOSED to be running (and not consistent 11 minute miles, if I could do that I'd be in the 11:20 pace group) I felt really good about the workout.

Monday, June 27, 2011

June 26th - Ken Gar South - 12 miles - 02:25

Well that's more like it! A relatively beautiful morning for a run, actually a little chilly standing around in the parking lot. That's always a good sign, the sun never really did come out and the humidity stayed on the lower side of sauna.

There are parts of the run south that I really hate, I don't care for mile 3 and mile 4 past the Mormon temple and through some neighborhood just annoys me for some reason. Tends to sap the energy right out of me, and when I know it's coming up I preemptively get cranky. Instead of letting it get to me I starting cracking jokes, I think there was a lot of talk about butts, and tried to keep my mind occupied. I'm not often a talker during runs, not that I'm not able to but I just don't have much to say. So unless someone's chatting at me, which I don't mind at all, it's just me and whatever thoughts are in my head. More often than not those are negative thoughts so I'm actively trying to banish those and replace them with something more positive. Like butts.

We ran out to the stables where, if you're lucky, you get to see and possibly pet some horses. And if you're even luckier Coach Don will be there with two coolers of ice cold water. What a welcome sight (Don't smile as much as the water). On the way back Coach Kathy and I stopped to use the bathroom, telling the group we'd catch up. The entire group must have been hauling ass, we weren't in the bathroom that long and they were much farther ahead than we thought they would be! So much ass was hauled, Kathy and I ran that mile in about 11:20.

We knew as we were going that we were fast, but not uncomfortably so, and so we pressed on as a group. I think we slowed a little around mile 10 or so, a much needed moving rest, but we finished as strong as we started. Kathy and I ended with an average pace around 12:05 thanks to the bathroom catch-up, the rest of the group just under 12:30. How awesome is that? Seriously awesome.

June 22nd - MCC Track - 5.86 miles - 01:19

Not gonna lie, this was the worst track workout, probably the worst run actually, I've ever done. The weather wasn't the worst it's been, it was hot and humid, but it was worse in the weeks before. But I was tired to begin with - I'd run six out of the previous seven days and I just don't usually do that much running. Add to that some hormones and the fact that I hadn't slept well for weeks and it just was not my day.

The workout was the ladder:
Warmup of 1.4 miles.
1 x 400 (1 lap) ; recovery lap
1 x 800 (2 laps); recovery lap
1 x 1600 (4 laps); recovery lap
1 x 800 (2 laps); recovery lap
1 x 400 (1 lap); recovery lap
1.25 mile cool down.

Not sure I ever did this last year, I know it was on the books a few times but the weather was just so insane more often than not we just tried to run without passing out. I felt very sluggish during the warm up, trying to take it slow but still struggling. And once we hit the track it was all over. I immediately fell behind and had no hopes of keeping up with the group. All plans and intentions went out the window, I just wanted to get a few miles in before calling it quits. Mentally I was a little bummed but in this case it was definitely my body letting me down and telling me to knock it the hell off.

I ran a few lonely laps until I caught up with Ameenah, we ran, or jogged, or walked probably two miles together. We chatted about all kinds of things and kept each other company, I ended up with almost six miles on my legs and that was more than good enough for me. Had it not been for my buddy I would have bailed much earlier.

I was upset about it afterward, but not overly so. I didn't crawl home in tears like I had last year. I sucked it up, chalked it up to a bad day, ate some pizza and hoped for better runs in the future. When I actually did look at my Garmin I found some decent miles 12:02, 11:23, 10:56 WHAT, 12:37 - the fast laps were only supposed to be at 12:15/mile pace so I think I did a pretty decent job when I was actually running. That did make me feel better, but I still ate pity pizza anyway.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

June 19th - Bethesda to Union Station - 11.2 miles - 02:20ish

This run made me a little nervous on Sunday morning, for a few reasons. I made it through last year's Union Station run (which was a week later in the season) before I was down with tendonitis for three weeks and I somehow convinced myself that run was to blame. And Sunday would be my third running day in a row - I rarely run two in a row and NEVER three. Friday I did about 4.5 miles with a friend, Saturday I ran the Run for Roses 5k with the group I helped coach. It was a hot, muggy, sweaty race but we had a lot of fun and I think I've created some new monsters who are ready for bigger challenges. My work there is done.

I also knew we'd be short two coaches who were out of town, but we had a stand-in, so we'd hopefully be able to get to the metro on our own. I've run it before but once I get past mile 8 into DC I'm pretty much completely lost and dependent upon the kindness of coaches with good senses of direction (or, failing that, Google maps).

The good part about this run, which starts on Capital Crescent, is that it's downhill and never goes back up. It's a gradual decline down to the river and while that's much better than going up I find it tough on the knees after several miles. There also aren't a lot of stops - there's water at mile 3, water and a bathroom at 4.75, and if you're lucky a hose to use around 7.5. Then you're out in the open through DC, past the Lincoln Memorial and reflecting pool, up the mall. Luckily it wasn't sunny this year, and not too hot.

And it's scenic - the trail is lovely, then you run along the river before hitting the monuments. This year we got to check out a bit of the Dragon Boat races as well as folks participating in the DC Triathlon. We had to stop to cross the street between bikers or runners, and cheered as loudly as we could. Seemed like crowd support was pretty light and DC was eerily quiet despite two big events, I felt bad for the athletes out there with nobody clapping and yelling and telling them how awesome they are. I know it's a silly thing, but seeing a familiar face along a race route goes a REALLY long way. I didn't know any of these athletes but I sure cheered like I did.

I always get lost in DC and am always surprised to end up where I was meant to. But sure enough we made it. My Garmin's batteries died somewhere around mile 8 so I don't know total time or splits, I do know that the last three miles were definitely the fastest. I was shocked and pleasantly surprised to have that much energy left in my legs after two previous days of running. I enjoyed a completely unhealthy cookies & creme smoothie (all the other ones are made with bananas and I really really hate bananas) while we all chatted and relaxed before getting our stinky selves on the metro for the ride back. I have no idea what I did the rest of the day but I'm sure it involved using my legs as little as possible and almost as sure that it involved downing some Manhattans.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

June 15th - MCC Track - 6.93 miles - 01:24

What is this? It's... springy! Nice and cool last night, I think the high yesterday was only about 80. Downright chilly at first, but a much better night for running than last week.

The workout was to be 16 laps, every other one 15 seconds faster than LSD pace. But, frankly, it's really hard to keep track of that! I lose count of laps after the first one but usually someone's on top of it. We ended up running pretty quick anyway and when we got a little tired we just slowed it down. By lap six I wasn't sure I'd finish the first half, let alone the whole thing - I had some pretty awful cramps that made my abdomen and legs feel like bricks. Coach Kathy saved me with some Advil which I think really helped and I didn't have any problems during the last two miles or the cooldown.

We ran the last half of the cooldown much faster than we should have, trying to keep up with Coach Mike. But we couldn't, that guy is FAST. He said his legs were just starting to warm up by the end, but mine were exhausted. I don't usually have that problem and I'm glad I was able to finish strong despite it. I hope this weekend goes better - I have a 5 mile training run Friday morning, a 5k race Saturday and a 12 mile point-to-point Sunday!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

June 12th - Ken Gar South - 10 - 02:06

A decent morning for a run, cooler than the last few weeks but still humid and sticky. Apparently this year's Sunday group is more punctual than usual and I never get the good parking spot I used to get so I have to park in the little neighborhood and I always feel bad about it. Nobody wants their quiet little street lined with cars and people before 7 on a Sunday morning.

Nothing much to report from this run (especially three days later when any significant thoughts I may have had have evaporated). I didn't get much sleep Saturday night but I was up and out of bed at 5:30 in a decent mood and feeling like I'd have a decent run. And we did, though it was a little slow for the first half. We picked it up and ran at least the last two miles faster for a decent average pace.

The runs end at the same park and when we arrive there are either a ton of people hanging around and relaxing from their runs or nobody left because they've already gone home. There was a decent crowd this day and before rounding the corner Coach Mike gathered us all together so that we would show up as a triumphant, cohesive group. That was awesome, we need to start wearing giant foam fingers that say "WE'RE 12:30!"

June 8th - MCC Track - 4.05 miles - 49:00

Going into this workout I knew I'd have to cut it short. It was my husband's birthday and we had margaritas to get to! I needed to leave by 7:45. I had considered going early to get in the miles I'd be missing but since it was about a million degrees out I decided that whatever I'd get done by 7:45 is what I'd get done. After all, there is no "only 4 mile" run, every mile is an accomplishment to be celebrated.

The showing was light, Coach Andy proclaimed that you were there because you were either running off stress or Type A. Or completely crazy, I guess. There was a heat advisory so we were all reminded to take it easy. Some folks dropped after just the warm-up lap, I wasn't too upset at leaving after 10 of the 16 laps on the schedule (not including the 1.3 mile cool down).

Again, despite the heat, I wasn't feeling bad. I did chug my bottle of coconut water and chia seeds to stay hydrated and energized but I didn't feel the heat like I usually do. Maybe this summer won't be so bad after all.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

June 5th - C&O Canal (Carderock) - 10 miles - 2:09

I'd run the C&O Canal before, but not from Carderock, and had not been impressed. I recall the uneven terrain being really rough on my knees and ankles and wasn't particularly looking forward to this run. Didn't help that I didn't arrive home until midnight the night before then spent an hour on the phone with my mother dealing with family issues.

But there I was, nice and early, arriving at 6:20AM. Plenty of time to use the bathroom - real bathrooms! With porcelain and running water! So nice I used it twice. It was a bit misty when we arrived, and had rained on the way down, which did nothing to ease the humidity. At least it wasn't too stinkin' hot.

The 5 miles out were uneventful, we hit another (real) bathroom and stopped to get a group photo overlooking the river. I don't think we ever got group photos last year, I know we didn't when we ran the canal. Go team!

On the way back we took a vote to see if everyone wanted to go check out the falls, about a quarter of a mile out of the way over some little bridges. How could you run there and NOT go see it? So we did, and well worth the diversion. Amazing how many things you see that you didn't know existed while you're running. I'm not sure what the falls are called, Great Falls maybe, but they're really something incredible. We stared for a good few minutes, I think all of our side trips added an extra 25 minutes to the outing (though I didn't count that in miles or time).

Over the last four miles or so the group started to split up a bit, I stayed in the front (quite a difference from last year when I was straggling at the back of the pack). And we stopped or slowed down every so often to regroup. I'm also experimenting with different things, like coconut water (nature's Gatorade but nature really needs to add some artificial sweeteners because this stuff is nasty) and chia seeds which I do think are helping me feel more hydrated and energized. When we finished we waited for the rest of the pack to show up, cheering for them and forming a human finish line. High-fives all around!

Friday, June 3, 2011

June 1st - MCC Track - 6.16 miles - 1:13

I spent most of Wednesday hoping the track run would be cancelled. Bo had just gotten home from his month-long around 2AM, I didn't get much sleep and it the temperature was well into the 90s. But, alas, it was not to be. And in the end I was grateful for that.

Probably due to the heat there didn't seem to be too many folks out but we did have a good sized group. All three coaches and I think maybe 4 or 5 runners. The plan was to run 16 laps "Ranger style." Apparently they do this workout every year but we didn't do it last year, I think because it was so hot. We were to line up single file, then the person at the end would run around to the front of the pack. Repeat, for 16 laps.

We started with lap one and thought we would pass out if we did it for 16 laps so we debated just running "Ranger style" every fourth lap or so. But it turns out that once you settle into it it's actually not too bad and it made the laps go by MUCH faster, in my head, than usual. What also helped was that we asked questions that everyone would have to answer on their way to the front. Simple questions that implored runners to name their favorite band, restaurant, dessert, vacation or in our case swear word (we answered those quietly).

It was kind of a tough day to try this style of running because it was so incredibly hot, but I actually didn't feel the heat like I usually do. Maybe it's the magical chia seeds I've been using, maybe it's because we were just having so much fun chatting and getting to know little things about each other. By the time we finished the group had split up and by the cool down lap it was just Mike, Kathy and I. We wandered through the campus together, until Mike took off like a horse galloping back to the stables. Sad that I can't quite keep up with a 74 year old dude, but I finished in good spirits. Probably the best track run I've ever had.