Tuesday, December 29, 2009

bad blogger

i haven't blogged in forever. i also haven't run in forever. i'm a bad run blogger :-(

interview traveling has been pretty crazy and with 4 interviews in a 9 days, during which time i wore spiked heeled boots for 8+ hours at a time, i royally screwed up my left foot. serious posterior tibialis issues. bad scene. no running. ginger walking at best.

sunday was the first day i was able to go to my gym (we're back home for 6 days before heading back out for more interviews) and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of my 75 minutes on the elliptical. yesterday i had what seemed like my first good workout in ages. 40 minutes on the arc, 40 minute crazy circuit of chest, back and legs. this morning i went to the Y with james and (after a 3 week long itch to do so) i finally went for a swim. 2000m in 40 minutes. felt awesome. its been years since i swam laps. don't know why i don't do it more often.

ankle is flared up a bit this evening (unfortunately from kicking while swimming i fear). hope it doesn't get any worse.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

year in review?

very little running has gone on this week. i've been "recovering"... well more like i've been hitting the gym for weak-ass workout, complaining, and stressing about interviews/travel. yesterday james and i finally hit the road, drove to boston in the crazy storm, dropped off the girls (kitties) and turned around to drive back down to west haven. right now i'm sitting in a starbucks about a mile from the VA where he is interview this morning. although starbucks NEVER has free internet, conveniently the friendly's next door's signal is reaching in here just enough to allow for some nice blog reading. as i caught up with all of my blog-stalking, i read Mel-Tall Mom's inspirational post. i am not completely decided on my  goals for 2010. but it is good to think about what has happened this year. if i count back to this day last year (rather than 2009 calendar year) there have been many excellent things that i accomplished and that i had the good fortune of happening to me. 1) I got married! - December 14, 2008. I can't believe this Monday will be our anniversary! 2) I shared my favorite place in the whole world with my new husband - Honeymoon - December 15-22 in Sugarbush VT.  3) My first first author paper was published. 4) I completed P90X and was the fittest I have been since high school. 5) I finished collecting my dissertation data. 6) I put in 20 applications for Internship next year and am in the midst of a whirlwind tour of the northeast with my beloved as we interview for more than a dozen of these positions. 6) I took up running and in 12 weeks went from zero running to a 1:52 half-marathon.

After James finishes with his interview in a few hours we are going to try to snag some Pepe's Pizza before heading back to Boston. It gave me a swell of pride (joy?) to think that we, in the next 2 days, will go on a 9 mile run called "3 Ponds", and that I will be able to run the whole thing. Over the summer (the last time we were visiting my parents) we went on this run and, while James was a great sport about it, I had to do way more walking than was cool with me and it took us over an hour and a half to complete.To me, this is the beauty of running. An accomplishment (or progress) is measurable and I am able to give myself some credit for it. This is hard for me in other areas.

Will think on those 2010 goals and get back to you... :-)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Race Day - Nittany Valley Half Marathon

My first half marathon is in the books! Unofficial time was 1:52:00. The snow/ice was only an issue for the first 2.5 miles and then on the steep downhill at 7.5-9 miles. I felt pretty great for the first 10 miles and then slogged for the last 5k. Having told the race "story" to the 3 people in the last 3 hours, I'm a little tired for a full race recap. Here are my splits:
mile 1 - 8:05 - trying not to fall on ice
mile 2 - 8:04 - still trying not to fall (watching others do so)
mile 3 - 8:09 - james handed me water and gushers at mile 2.9. having a support team rocks
mile 4 - 8:24 - this is where the 3 mile long ascent began
mile 5 - 8:45 - still climbing
mile 6 - 8:20 - second wind? still climbing
mile 7 - 8:19 - crested the hill at 6.25 where yuko was there to take my jacket, give me more water and gushers and generally cheer wildly!
mile 8 - 7:55 - steep downhill, trying again not to fall or lose complete control of my legs
mile 9 - 8:05 - actually still feeling pretty good, still going downhill :-)
mile 10 - 9:04 - 3 hills in this mile - legs starting to feel very heavy, just pushing through
mile 11 - 8:47 - a little bit of a flat - legs a little numb, grabbed water at a stop and hands got very cold
mile 12 - 9:06 - just holding on - can't feel legs, can't increase turnover - into the last big hill
mile 13 - 9:42 - all straight up hill - holding on for dear life - vowing not to walk
mile 13.1 - 1:07 (7:27) - could not see finish line so didn't know when to kick, kicked late. oh well.

Afterward, huffed and puffed, gave back my timing chip, drank water, then more water, got stiff, stretching, felt faint, then returned home. Felt generally calm afterward but not elated like after Spirit of Pittsburgh. Race could not have gone better. 1:52?!?!?

Here are some pics from the race

race face (according to james)

now this is what i call a race face. a chilly race face...

my butt and ugly stride - at mile 1.5

sucking wind at the finish line (while removing earbuds)...

trying (unsuccessfully) to capture the crazy dried salt on my face and neck.

post-race smiley thumbs up. not quite as attractive, but hey I just ran a HALF-MARATHON!!!

No finisher's medals or bibs for this race but I intend to wear my race t-shirt to work tomorrow as proof of my accomplishment.

Thanks to James and Yuko for being my awesome support team!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

t-minus 12 hours

There was definitely more snow than anticipated today. I'd say at least a few inches. The first 2.5 miles of the course (on a gravel track around a large field) are going to be messy, slushy, and wet. I hope the roads thereafter are better.


With the weather being what it is I'm feeling even less confident in my time goal. But I guess I will put it out there for the record... I would really like to break 2 hours. I know that on a first race my only goal should be to finish (and with these conditions maybe thats a pretty reasonable goal), but I really want to go sub-2:00. On a flat course I think I could go much faster, but these hills intimidate the hell out of me. I basically sat around today eating carbs (soft pretzels, fruit, pasta) and not doing anything physical. So hopefully I'll have lots of glycogen for those hills tomorrow.

Gonna try to relax now and get some sleep. 

26 hours

26 hours until race time and its snowing. Forecast indicates that the snow should end before midnight with a total accumulation of approximately 1 inch. In past years they have been able to get the roads clear before the race with more snow than this so hopefully this shouldn't have too big an impact on race conditions. Most recent hourly forecast says 30 degrees at guntime and 34 degrees by noon. With windchill its only going to feel like 20 degrees at the start and a max of 26 by the end of the race. Winds are going to be between 5 and 10 mph, not the 20+ we've been having this week, but still will be a factor to deal with on the very open 3 mile stretch of the route near the airport.

All this is making me feel a little better about my tentative decision to wear a windbreaker over my tech shirt. Hopefully I won't be too hot. This will be my first run of the season (or at all for that matter) in a jacket. I reserve the right to throw my jacket on the ground and leave it for dead at any point on the race (although hopefully if I need to do away with it I can give it to either James or Yuko when we do fuel handoffs on the course.

Still not sleeping well. Legs feel a little tired this morning but am struggling to stay away from the gym. Foot is nagging me a little. Should stay barefoot as many hours today as possible.

Friday, December 4, 2009


Thanks to everyone (new bloggy buddies) for the well wishes and votes of confidence! My support team is coming together -- thanks James and Yuko -- and I'm starting to feel the pre-race jitters/excitement. I'm glad to have something to distract me from these incoming job interviews. The mix and mingle of good, bad, exciting and frustrating news is so draining. I can't control the outcome of this race but at the very least it isn't an insane drawn out impotence-stress-fest for the next 2 months. And good day or bad, good race or bad, at the end of the day Sunday it will be done and I will have tried (and hopefully accomplished) something new.

I've been ruminating a little bit about goals for race day but am not quite ready to put them down on bloggy paper. I'm going to go hit the gym for some easy elliptical, stretching, and core work and will think more about them. The difficulty I am having is in coming up with fair goals for the hilly course. I know I can run 10+ miles on flat (or gentrly rolling) terrain at an 8:30ish pace but with these hills I could be slowed down a lot. Here is the elevation profile.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

last short run

After getting about 4 hours of sleep last night and then hurdling myself back into the same madness as yesterday, I finally made it out for my last short easy run before this weekend's race. I had hoped to trial my race day outfit but no such luck, its about 20 degrees warmer today than is expected Sunday morning. Oh well. The wind from Tuesday was still in full effect so I got buffeted around for my quick 4.25 miles and tried to keep my pace at 8:30. I have basically avoided hills all this week on my runs which is very nice for confidence but is likely giving me an unrealistic sense of what my 8:15, 8:30, and 8:45 paces feel like. I am hoping that come Sunday the adrenaline (and caffeine) will give me a little boost to help with the crazy hills on the course.

ate some swedish fish on my run (just for kicks, not like i needed the fuel) and they also seem to sit well with my stomach. so swedish fish and gushers will be the fuel of choice for sunday. still gotta figure out the water situation.

run: 36:00min 4.25miles 8:28pace  47degrees, overcast,winds~20mph

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

2nd to last run before NVHM

The weather channel has been threatening snow for this morning since Sunday, but when I woke up the sky was merely overcast and the ground was dry. I had sort of been looking forward to a run in the elements. I've only had one snowy (actually it was sleet, in October) run and there was a wild quality to it that I very much enjoyed. But really, I'm not complaining. I have also been meaning to try out my second pair of running tights (reebok play dry tights) but haven't found a day cold enough to do so. A quick check of the weather indicated that today was the perfect day, 35 degrees as I was heading out. I opted for a short sleeve tech t-shirt instead of my normal tank. This seemed to be the perfect combo. In fact, it was quite chilly outside. And the wind was out of control, gusting to well over 20 miles an hour. It took a solid 2 miles for me to feel warm, and break a sweat. Usually after 5 minutes I'm there. I really wanted to run 5 solid miles between 8:15 an 8:30. This is the pace that I would like to aim for on the flats and down hills of the course this weekend and wanted to get a feel for my turnover and stride at that pace. With the wind holding any kind of steady pace was difficult - into the wind it was hard enough to stay upright and moving forward, with the tailwind it was hard not to fly forward much too fast. You can see from my splits (8:19, 7:58, 7:50, 8:18, 8:30) the two miles where I had the glorious tailwind. At mile three I tried out my prospective race fuel, GUSHERS!!! I've never had gushers before, but they had a good mix of pure suger and other carbs, and were cheap and gelatin-free. Turns out they are pretty awesome. No cramps or GI upset after taking them. Easy to down 90 cal package in 2 mouthfuls and the liquid inside each gusher helped with the chewing and swallowing. In fact, I didn't have my handheld with me and had no problem getting them down. Did I mention the delicious candy taste?!? :-) 

Somewhere around mile 3.5 of the tempo run, a girl blew past me (I didn't hear her until then as I had my ipod blaring - Disturbed, Three Days Grace, Breaking Benjamin) and I had to put my ego to the side and just let her go (she looked to be going sub 7:30, and that is simply not me). I planned the tempo section so I finished as I approached the .7 mile hill leading back to my house. Usually I trudge up this hill and watch my last mile split crash and burn. Today I turned the corner onto this hill and that headwind hit me full boar. I shortened up my stride (a lot) and just kept my head down. After cresting the hill, stopping my watch and  grabbing my knees (you know, the usual) for a minute or so I went back around the block at what was supposed to be a 9:30 pace but ended up closer to 9:00 for another 1.3 miles.  Got home and did some stretching. Finally a good run!!! Lots of mixed up variables today - new tights, new fuel, no handheld, unexpected weather conditions. I definitely think tights could be a good idea for race day, I'm surprised to say. Now I'm going to have to do some serious thinking about my handheld. It was awesome not to have that weight to carry. Maybe I'll convince James to bring me water at strategic locations throughout the course. I'll have to look into that.

2 miles warm up
5 miles tempo   8:19, 7:58, 7:50, 8:18, 8:30
2 miles easy   hill .7 mile 6:06 (8:45) into strong headwind, 1.3 miles @ 9:00
15 minutes stretching

Sunday, November 29, 2009

last "long" run before NVHM

Traveling and running don't go well together. Either that or I'm still psyched out about this race. On Thursday morning James and I went out for a nice easy morning run before heading to Hershey for the Thanksgiving. It was pleasant to go at an easy pace and to be able to talk throughout. We picked a relatively flat route and didn't push on the hills. I had a near accident about 4 miles in but thankfully a gas station was open and I made it to their restroom just in time. On Friday morning after much food and merriment we got up early (my parents still sleeping, uncharacteristically) and went for an easy run. I was having a little bit of tightness in my left ankle/achilles and wasn't sure it was a good idea to go out at all, but figured I could stop at any point. We only went about 3.5 miles before I sent James on his way and I walked for a bit to stretch things out. I'm still not at a point that I can run consecutive days without things getting a little hairy. Gotta give my joints/ligaments/tendons more time to get strong enough for more consistent training. For now I'm glad to have the elliptical, arc trainer, gauntlet, etc for cardio on the other days of the week.

11/26/09   6.5 miles, 57:43, 8:52 pace

11/27/09   3.9 miles, 36 min, 9:14 pace

We ended up cutting our travel plans short so I was able to keep my "long run" for Sunday rather than having to squeeze it in on unknown terrain in Hershey. I woke up this morning to some serious GI troubles and had to delay my departure by about an hour before I thought I would be safe to go. I basically did the same run as 3 weeks ago (my last solo long run) except this time it sucked. I had it in my mind that I did the first four close to 8:00 and the next 5 at 8:30-8:50. So I went out with a similar plan. I should have checked my log, this was not how I did the run last time. Last time I actually intentionally went out slower (8:15 for first few miles) so as not to crash and burn. This time, I crashed and burned. First 2 miles 8:00, next 3 miles 8:05, 8:10, 8:20, then crashed and next 3 miles were terrible with multiple times stopping to grasp knees, suck wind and curse the hills (9:02, 8:55, 8:44). Didn't add any extra loops to the run and ended it just short of 70 minutes. It did not leave me feeling any better than last week's NVHalf Training run about the hills on the course.

11/29/09   8.3 miles, 1:09:50, 8:24 pace

 I think that basically the first 2 months of running went well because I didn't have a lot of expectations for myself. Now that I am a little further on I keeping setting these expectations and making plans and goals; I think its actually making it harder to enjoy myself or to feel good about myself. A few steps forward, and now a few steps back. I'm looking forward to this race being over so I can spend some time just building a stronger base. I may have rushed into this distance. Sigh.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

psyched out

up until the spirit of pittsburgh it seemed like every week i could feel my running getting stronger. over the past 2 weeks it feels like with every run i am slower and losing confidence. i learned my lesson from last week with too much mileage too soon and this week after my twelve miler (horrible and slow - note to self: must fuel during long runs) i took two recovery days despite feeling that i could have run yesterday. today i went out for a 5 mile run. just wanted to do one of those runs where i settle into an 8 minute pace and go...  well i did 4 miles at an 8 minute pace, sort of. the first two miles were a few seconds over and then i cranked on the next two for 7:50ish miles. but it felt hard. the whole time. and when i hit my turn around at the end of easterly i decided to ease off. figured i could just run a 9 minute pace the way home...but it felt hard (i always seem to be slow heading west on easterly - i think its windy there???) and i gave up and switched to modified fartleks. run hard, get tired, walk, regroup, repeat. did that the 1.8 miles home. that was hard too. how is it that this pace feels hard now when i was able to do it for an hour earlier in the fall? this half marathon is psyching me out. big time. and it sucks. boo.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

quick and dirty

its been a crazy week and somehow i've neglected writing. after my awesome run on saturday i went on another outstanding run on monday. i then ran with the nvrc on tuesday for a hills workout. it was brutal and i was not ready. we did a 6 mile course that is all entirely up or down hills, with no flats. in the end i think my pace was around 8:30, but it was brutal. i had to walk more times than i'd like to admit. i ended up doing some serious minor harm to my legs. for the net 36 hours i was in some significant pain in the lower calves and ankles. i had planned to run track on thursday before heading out for our interview in syracuse, but when thursday morning rolled around i still had some significant sensation in my left ankle/calf and decided on just a few easy miles around my house. was one of the worst runs i've had in a long time. tried to run around a 9 minute mile in order not to overtax the system, but i actually think that the slow pace may be part of the problem. there is definitely something about my stride that changes when i go very slow and/or am fatigued. its that feeling of my feet slapping the ground, rather than landing lightly, that seems to precipitate pain later in the day.

i didn't workout yesterday, figured the spiky high heeled boots i was wearing for my interview were risky enough. so hopefully my feet will behave today on the 12 miler i have planned. wish me luck!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

new long run distance = new definition of a mid-length run distance

On Saturday at 8:30am the NVRC had a scheduled long run leaving from Rec Hall that covered a significant portion of the NVHM. Marty Mazur led the slowpokes (which included me, Lee, and his son Ben) while Meira led the speedsters (about 8 of them). We ran out Curtin and straight into the tailgate madness (PSU vs. Indiana starting at noon). Strangely enough, this was the first time I have ever been close enough to any of that to smell the smells and be surrounded by all the people. Needless to say, I was glad when we passed the 1.5 mile mark and got away from all of that. In order to avoid heavy football traffic on the airport road (part of the race course) we cut through some trails that run parallel. This was not bad until the trail got really narrow and we had to start climbing over things and pushing aside branches and whatnot. I wasn't a huge fan of this "bushwhacking" section, but it was nice to mix things up a little bit. We then jumped in to the course in the hilly part around mile 8 (of the course) and covered some rolling terrain. Eventually this evened out for a nice mile or so of relatively flat and open course before we hit the last 2 miles of the course which are known to be brutal (lots of praying and walking said to occur) due to a continuous ascent. I was wanting to test my hopeful pace for this section to see what it would feel like. This meant that I deserted my group temporarily but then twice had to stop (turn off minny) and wait to get within ear shot of marty to find out which direction I was supposed to be going. I felt pretty good about the hill. Only felt like my heart was going to explode towards the very end. I think the trick will be not to look ahead. It looks much worse (especially with the increasing steepness over time) than it really was. Or at least, with 7 miles under my legs (who knows about 11) it was manageable. Somewhere along this hill we lost Lee and Ben. As we came to the final turn of the course, we once again headed into the tailgate area. This kind of busy-ness and density of people makes me want to throw elbows and sprint through. Marty seemed a little tanked at this point (in addition to being popular and people wanting him to stop and chat) and I had to hang back so as not to desert him. At this point (in the last mile and a half) our pace slowed down a bunch. Although I am trying hard to be a good joiner and team player and all that stuff, its hard for me to run slower than I know I could be running. Especially on Saturday, when this was my first 10+ mile run, I was looking forward to hitting that 10 mile mark and seeing the time I was at, so slowing down with half a mile to that point was frustrating (but I kept it in check). I did a little dance (more like a skip and a hoot) when Minny chirped mile 10 and then as our "finish line" came into site I briefly left Marty and ran it in at full speed to see what was left in my legs.

10.41 miles 1:34:15  9:03pace

We stood around for the next 15 minutes or so stretching, chatting, and waiting for the speedsters to get back from their 14 mile loop. I was feeling pretty good. No pain. Handheld worked excellently and my all-natural kiddie fruit chews made for excellent mid-run fuel (mile 5 I think I took them). After we all split up I headed to PETCO to buy toys and then to PAWS to visit with Tarzan again only to find out that since my mother's application was approved that they didn't ask the foster mom to bring him in. I visited with some of the other cats for about an hour before heading home. Didn't feel nearly as wrecked throughout the rest of the day as I have with past long runs.

Sunday I woke up from a weird dream (involving racing, and riddles, and competition with siblings, and losing one's footing) and felt down in the dumps that I wouldn't get to go on a nice Sunday long run, as I have had the pleasure of looking forward to for the past 6 weeks or so. Had trouble shaking that crappy feeling all day, even after heading to the gym for some elliptical and foam rolling (my usual Saturday workout).

Yesterday I woke up and decided that even if Monday is not a running day (I've been sticking to T, Th, Sun), that I could run on this Monday because of the Saturday long run. I planned to do a little out and back on Blue Course, with the turn around at the top of a hill around 2.5 miles in. Around 2 miles into the run I started debating with myself about changing the route to a shortened version of the long run I did a little over a week before. Having looked at that route a number of ways I had the sense that I could make it around 8 miles. So instead of turning around when I crested the hill, I followed down the back side and jumped on the bike path. This run, which had been glorious in the reverse direction was quite tough in this direction. From mile 3 on it was uphill pretty continuously for 3 miles. Having taken the long run nice and easy in terms of pace, I wanted to push this run a little more. I decided that the first four miles around 8:00 and then next four under 8:30 would be very good, given the terrain. The first four were pretty easy actually and Minny chirped at 31:xx. Having pushed mile 4 to keep the pace, the next 2 miles of hills were tough and my breathing was effortful. Those miles were 8:26 and 8:15 or so. I then got a little bit of a reprieve on College before turning back on Blue Course and home. Last 2 miles were around 8:20. I wanted to pick up the pace a little but it seems like after my turnover slows its hard to speed back up, especially when there are hills in the mix. The whole run was very windy, but the sun was nice and warm on the skin.
Overall: 8.13miles    1:06:20  8:09 pace 

As soon as I got home I started to have some foot issues, deep pain in the inner ankles. It lasted most of the day but is feeling alright right now. I haven't quite been able to nail down what it is about the run after the long run that leads to this pain. My new hypothesis is that I wear these cheap faux running socks on my early week run, and the tight "support" band around the arch might be doing something funky. I don't know. Today, NVRC is doing hills. I'm going to try to join although I'm not sure how back to back runs will go.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

track thursdays!

joined the NVRC for my first group track workout today at lunch. a nice 1.5mile warm up to go over to the track. after arriving and stretching a little, marty announced that we will do relay pyramids. "what is a relay pyramid?" you say...basically, you team up and trade off running different length intervals. marty and i were partners so it went as follows. M runs 200, R runs 400, M runs 600, R runs 800, M runs 1000, R runs 1000, M runs 800, R runs 600, M runs 400, R runs 200. being the slowpokes of the group it seemed like a good idea to partner with marty but the catch was that I ran my final interval completely alone on the track with every other person standing at the finish line waiting for me. thankfully i still felt kicky at that point and power sprinted the whole thing. i know that people actually do this workout on their own and that seems crazy to me. last week when i ran those 400's i basically did equal distance on and off. this was pretty different. on the recovery people basically stood around and waited (or when your partner had an uneven distance, shuffled across the track to the other side to await their arrival). so the total distance covered was relatively shorter than with an active recovery. it definitely allowed me to go faster than i would have otherwise. watching speedsters flying past me and around the track at different angles didn't hurt either. humiliation is as good a motivator as any ;-)    but really, this is a super nice group of people. meira, a freakishly fast distance runner, happens to also be super friendly and cheered me on every time i went by her (her rest interval was my work interval). i need to pay more attention to the nice things people say so i can cheer similarly. i'm not very good at that at this point.

workout was as follows:
1.5 mile warmup  12 minutes
400m        1:36 (6:24)
800m        3:24 (6:34)
1000m      4:17 (6:37) 
600m        2:34 (6:31) 
200m        :32  (4:21) 
3.1mi cooldown jog with a cramp most of the way. at the most painful 9:45 pace i have ever experienced. but smiling the whole way.

for the first 10 seconds of that last 200 i felt like this:

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


i'm going to have a new brother!!! my mom's application has been approved and tarzan is going to join our family and move to his forever home the weekend after thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


i'm not a big fan of tuesday running. i don't know what it is, but i always have the most foot pain on tuesday, feel the most tired and slow, and am gripped by the most pessimistic thoughts on my tuesday runs. frustrating. today i had 10k planned. the first 3.8 miles is downhill (on average), following by a large hill (.6 miles up, .4 down), following by another steep hill followed by a continuous climb all the way home (1.4miles). my goal was to average a 9:00/mi pace but knowing that the hills were coming i wanted to bank a little time on the descent so i could do more like 9:30 for the climb at the back end. my run pretty much mapped my plan to a tee, except that it sucked and was hard. clearly i'm a wimp, i don't like when it feels hard. fooey.

splits: 8:44, 8:13, 8:15, 8:37, 8:55, 9:00, 1:50 (9:10)

time 53:37; distance 6.2 miles; pace 8:39.  mission accomplished, i guess.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

forerunner rocks!

a perfect day for a run. it was near 50 when i left the house for the schedule 9 miler this morning. i was determined to maintain a more reasonable pace than i normally do on sunday because this was going to be my first run that was intended to go considerably over an hour and i know that somewhere around 50 minutes that 8 minute pace is not sustainable (yet). so my plan was to run the first 5 miles at a sub 8:30 pace and then the last 4 miles at a sub 9 minute pace. seemed doable despite the rolling hills and large climb from 5.3 to 6.1 miles. and indeed it went just as planned. first 5 miles run at a comfortable pace, allowing myself to increase my turnover on the downhill and glide into the next hill or the flat, but mostly holding back a little so that my breathing was accelerated but not labored. splits: 8:24, 8:17, 8:18, 8:03 (whoops), 8:08. i even looked around, enjoyed the scenery, beautiful bike path, smiled and waved to passers-by, and generally enjoyed myself. went through a short tunnel (made of cement) and garmin immediately lost signal but relocated me as soon as i emerged. changed gears as i hit the hill at 5.3 miles and shortened my stride a little in order to keep my turnover about the same. felt pretty good actually. ate some sport beans (mmmm, watermelon) after i crested the hill at 6 miles. had meant to take them at 5 mile mark but didn't think that hill climbing (heavy breathing) and chewing would be a good combo. mile 6: 8:49. miles 7-9 were on well known and practiced roads (college, corl, westerly, blue course) so i just enjoyed myself and monitored my energy/fatigue and maintained my moderate pace. 8:22, 8:41, 8:29. did away with my normal sprint to the finish (the short hill at mile 8.5 was enough of a test of my will) and then arriving home i plugged in my garmin and downloaded my data. what an awesome toy/tool!!!

went to paws and visited with many wonderful kitties and cats. my mom is gonna have great options when she comes to pick the newest member of her (our) family. didn't manage to eat anything substantial (just a protein shake when i got home) until around 4pm. that was a bad idea. feeling headachy now. fatigue and tightness setting in a little bit as well. time for a little vegging in front of the tv. am feeling hopeful about the half on december 6. add a mile a week and maintain a similar pace and i should be race ready.

9.2 miles 1:17:13 8:23/mile
first run with the garmin this morning! first proper long run (over 8 miles)! i'm a little nervous. gonna try to take it out nice and slow and do a more appropriate long run pace eventhough i usually find myself booking it on sundays. lots of carbs on board from last 2 days in philly which should be great for energy unless my stomach gets angry. wish me luck. update later today after i go to the animal shelter www.centrecountypaws.org to meet with prospective cats/kitties for my mom's upcoming adoption.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


my wonderful, awesome, considerate, need and wish gratifying husband bought me a Garmin Forerunner 305!!! He didn't even make me wait for Christmas/Hanukah!!!

pics to follow...


Despite needing to be at school to prep for the practicum I am supervising, I decided that I wanted to get out for my run in the morning, rather than waiting until 2pm when my energy is usually pretty low. I went out for a little jog at sundown yesterday and had some pain in my feet (annoying) but it didn't worsen over the course of the evening and I felt fine at 6:45 when my alarm went off. I bargained with myself that if I could get out the door by 7am that I would head to the highschool track and give some 400's a try. So far, in the 2 months or so that I have been giving this whole running thing a try, I really haven't done any speedwork. My endurance has been the thing that clearly needed the most immediate attention. I still think this is true in fact - particularly if I have my eyes set on half-marathon (or longer) distances. Regardless, a little speed never killed anyone.

So, I got up with the sun and checked the weather. A balmy 32 degrees. Finally, a day to try out my new running tights. Yes, they are men's tights. So sue me, they fit better for a rectangular person such as myself. For anyone interested, you can find them here c9 tights. I couldn't decide between a tank and a tech shirt so I went with both, know that I could ditch the long sleeves at the track, without fear of losing or forgetting it and then kicking myself later.

So, all nice and bundled up I headed out the door and ran over to the high school, which to my relief was deserted but with the gate to the track unlocked. I took a few minutes to stretch out my achilles and then decided I would take a first 400 at a comfortable pace just to see how that would feel and what sort of time I'd have as a baseline. First lap: 1:56. Just what McMillan says I should be doing for my cruise intervals based on my race time. Awesome. At this point I decided 6x400 sounds just about right. I planned nice long rest intervals of the same distance as the speed intervals (for ease of knowing my starting and ending spot on the track. My second interval I picked it up, not having a clear idea of my speed. Checked my watch and had run it at 1:41. Eeps! Thats too fast (for a slow-poke like me)... Did another one and weird, 1:41 again. At this point I started bargaining with myself again. Decided 4x400 sounded just fine and was a good first effort. Fourth interval: 1:41!  Okay, okay, I tell myself, how about 2 more back at prescribed pace. Amazing how controlled 1:56 feels in comparison. After finishing I jogged (nice and slow) the long way back home through Orchard Park. An outstanding way to start the morning. Floated around for a solid 2 hours on a pleasant runner's high.

Conclusion: The track was awesome. Felt great on my feet/joints. No hills to contend with (a huge plus). A nice sense of control with the fixed distance to be covered. Running on the straight-away I was reminded of my youth, when I was one of the fast kids. What a memory! 15lbs and 15 years later, I'm not so speedy and not so fit. There is an impulse in me to punish myself for this - to forbid the enjoyment of small victories and pleasant feelings - which I am contending with pretty seriously. Need to continue to give thought to this. If joy is only for the stellar, then...     who among us is without shortcomings?       Enough of this, I'll tie myself in knots. conclusion: first track workout = fun!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Yesterday I went on my second run with the NVRC; hills. Although I was still having some pain in the upper ankle/lower calf, I decided to getting things moving would possibly be a good idea. The plan was the meet up with the group at the bottom of the hill we would be doing repeats on. After a few emails I felt relatively certain where I was supposed to be and when. I arrived 20 minutes early and did some jogging on the Toftrees trail to warm up. After around 18 minutes when I wasn't seeing anyone I ran up the part of the trail I haven't been on before. It popped out after about a quarter mile at the entrance to Sunset Park. This is the "hill" for repeats I guessed. I jogged back down, glad at least to know how long it was (took 2:30 minutes for me to jog up). I then started wondering where everyone was and ran up the other hill toward where I had parked. In retrospect this extra up and down, up and down was not the smartest. Had I known what we would be doing I might have saved some energy. So, eventually everyone arrives (I think about 8 people). Tara tells us where the start of the hill is (grease spot on trail). I don't hear anything from her about how many repeats we'll be doing. For some reason I had in my head that it would be 6 or 8. Then everyone flies, flies up the hill. I trudge, at the back of the pack. After about a minute my lungs always feel like they are going to explode. I'm not a huge fan of that feeling. After the third repeat (my fourth time up this hill), Marty informs me that 4 is the magic number for today. At this point I feel a little better about how fast everyone was going and realized I perhaps could have pushed even harder. The group then departed back toward campus, and I back toward my car parked in the other direction. A very nice group. Not surprisingly I had one of those exertion headaches by around 4pm, but it was manageable. I wasn't too nauseous or in too much pain; just out of sorts with some discomfort. Feet hurt a lot for the rest of the day. Don't know whether to get worried about that or not. For now, I'll withhold judgment.

Does anyone know how asthma is diagnosed? What sorts of tests (if any) are involved?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Spirit of Pittsburgh RESULTS!!!

Spirit of Pittsburgh Half Marathon Relay
Team Manic Defense:
10th place overall Relay Team (10/160)
3rd place Coed Relay Team  (3/64)
First manic leg: 51:17:00
Second manic leg: 46:14
Total manic finishing time: 1:37:31
James was the 185th of well over 2000 to cross the finish line!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

We Rocked the Burgh!

We just arrived back in State College after an awesome mini-vacay/race weekend in Pittsburgh. I beat my A goal (53minutes) and even my super-secret A+ goal of 52:24 with an unofficial time of 51:19. James also rocked the house with a second leg time of 46:11. We finished with an unofficial time of 1:37:30. 184th finishers out of nearly 3400. We may have even come in the top 25 relay racers!

Weekend highlights: First bag of race swag, steins of beer and free pretzels, heinz ketchup triceratops sculpture, creepy cabbie and swarming Penguins fans, stimulants at 5am, RACING, primanti brothers, whole foods...

Race report tomorrow - or when I have a little more time and energy. For now I'm going to enjoy me some football, pizza, and chocolate cake!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

23 hours and counting

honestly, i can't remember the last time i slept so poorly. and the race isn't even until tomorrow. i think the mix of being a little worried about forgetting something at home, traveling to a new city, and my first race were all just a little too much. the caffeine i had at 3pm probably didn't help either. so i lay in bed until well after 1am with my gears spinning. finally fell asleep at some point after that and then woke up at 5am needing to pee. did this thing where i half-sleeping bargain with myself that i will get up but i WILL NOT RESUME THINKING. i will simply focus on going to the bathroom and then relaxing into bed. needless to say, it did not work. my mind was off and running. some time around 6am (which is when, with the change in daylight savings - 5am, i will need to get up tomorrow) i finally started getting really tired. of course it was time to get up soon thereafter.

given that this is my first race really i just want to have fun. but its extremely difficult for me not to get overburdened by the weight of my own expectations. i can tell myself, my only race goal is to finish (or something like that) but i know its not true. i have all these elaborate and obsessed over time (pace) goals that i am freaking out about that i know i shouldn't have allowed onto the table for a first race in the first place. argh.

for now, i am glad to be out of bed. am headed to the gym (very briefly) to work out any kinks on the arc/bike/elliptical for a few minutes and then do some stretching. want to leave plenty in the tank for tomorrow (which would be completely unnecessary, i realize, if my intention were simply to finish and not running for time).

i see a lot of people posting A, B, and C goals before their races and i like this idea. so again, although i realize my C goal should be my only goal, i couldn't resist setting up other goals. i am nervous about these because i have never run in a large group or with nerves seriously in play. what if i have to go to the bathroom and it takes 3 minutes? what if my shoes are giving my trouble and i have to stop to re-tie them? what if i get boxed in behind people? what if i totally freak out being in such a large group? for now, please think positive thoughts that none of these things come to pass and as long as they don't my goals are as follows:
C goal: Finish. My leg is 6.55 miles. This is doable barring bad and unexpected occurrences.
B goal: 55 minutes. This would be an 8:24 pace. Almost all of my tempo runs and long runs have been faster than this. But then again I stop my watch to tie my shoes or if stopped by traffic etc. Although a part of me will be disappointed with this pace I believe this is a respectable achievement.
A goal: 53 minutes. This is a slightly sub 8:06 pace. My pace tends to hover here on longer (6-8) runs and I would be very happy to finish with this time.

Last night at Wegmans, Marty Mazur (from the NVRC) came up to me and started chatting about the race this weekend. People with really good memories are risky to tell things to - let me say that. On our run 2 weeks ago I mentioned wanting to run an 8:00 pace for the race and so last night he brought this up, in the context of wishing me luck and conveying that he thought I could do it. Now I feel all this pressure to go sub 8:00. I don't want to be torturing myself about this. I am going to try to stop.

In conclusion. Wish me luck! Think speedy, healthy, and non-socially phobic/claustrophobic thoughts tomorrow. Gun time is 7:30am (don't forget the clocks fall back tonight). And please don't ask me which of my goals I achieved. Everyone else should pretend that my only goal was to finish, and be happy for me if I do that.

Friday, October 30, 2009

t-minus 2 days

2 days til the race. woke up this morning and am not having any more pain than yesterday. i can feel some uneasiness in my left ankle on the outside below the bone even at rest, but the pain is maybe a 1. walking and even pretend running seem ok, with no increase in pain as long as my foot falls squarely. as soon as there is some lateral motion i have more pain. will continue to ice and relax and hopefully will be painful by tomorrow evening. am heading to the gym now to do a little light crosstraining - not sure what i'll do, cardio, weights, core - we'll see. gotta do a last minute load of laundry with some stuff we want for race weekend (most importantly james' new racing socks).

dreary day. dreary mood. still trying to figure out about this USATF rule about no headphones as both james and i would really prefer to run with music.

i am committed to an awesome weekend, so i gotta turn this day around -- how often do we get to take a mini-vacay. we will enjoy ourselves. i insist!

update: workout was not too painful. things don't feel quite right but my pain did not increase and no swelling or major discoloration. feeling a little more hopeful again about the race on sunday. even indulged in a little fantasy about sprinting to the finish and cheering james as he starts his leg of the race.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

crappiest run of the season

that was like the crappiest run ever.

i had an immediate cramp from the powerbar i was testing as prerace breakfast food that didn't particularly go away at any point. there was traffic and i had to keep craning my neck to make sure i didn't get hit. felt like i was going so slow but didn't have much to push because didn't want the cramp to flare up. and then an waupelani there was a guy with a leaf blower who had covered almost all of the sidewalk with leaves. and of course, right as i am coming to the end of that section (having been all careful to watch my footing) i turned my ankle. crunch, crunch - in both directions... not pleased about that. as i come to the door and dig into my shorts to retrieve my key (i had tied it by a string around my hips as my shorts have no pocket) the key has rubbed away a big chunk of skin leaving an angry and now painful patch.

Last run before race: FAIL. :-(

(4.25miles 35min)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

my very first bib

Team Manic Defense: Bib #3548 --  Its official!


having some foot pain that i do not want to be contending with on race day, but decided i should still go out for my easy run today. overcast 45 degrees when i left the house around 9am. have repeatedly failed on the weekend to achieve my prescribed "easy" pace so today wanted to make that happen. figured that 9min/mile would be just right not to tax the system (mostly its my joints, tendons, and ligaments i want to coddle). ended up running 5.9 miles in 53 minutes, so was right on my projected pace. that being said, my first two miles were right on, my middle 2 miles were too slow (closer to 9:20 - no wonder i felt like i was crawling and my perceived exertion was way down) and then my last two had some hills so 8:55 miles felt steady with a little added effort. my right foot bothered me for the first 2 miles and then opened up a little. my left foot actually got worse during the run. i think that my mechanics at any pace slower than 8:45 (on the flat, 9ish on hills) do something bad for feet. makes running long slow distance difficult at this point. i get pessimistic about what this means for my ability to do longer distances but just need to wait and see. sigh.

after an unexpected addition of a fifth letter writer (louis) and the appic portal shutting down for maintenance and then rebooting with some "display" issues - my materials were finally all set and checked twice around 10:30 this morning and i submitted all 20 applications. so i can enjoy my race weekend and look forward to a month (or so) of other work before we start hearing about interviews.

Monday, October 26, 2009

blog envy

i am having blog envy. i am now reading lots of different people's blogs and increasingly am aware that they have very cool stuff all over their blog - images, PRs, race reports, upcoming races, pics, etc. I am not very good with the whole technology thing so my blog format is pretty lame. i'd like to spruce it up, but i can't seem to figure out how people do the cool stuff they do. For example. I have this picture i'd like to put in the top right corner of my blog. whenever i try to include it in the title part it goes to the left. I also can't seem to make a picture go that high up if its not in the title. etc. etc. i could include a little PRs thing on the sidebar - but does it count setting PRs on training runs?

ah well.

after much tightness yesterday after my run, the pizza (which gave me crazy bread body) definitely helped my energy rebound. Right hammie, was somewhat tight this morning. Did some hill intervals on the arc trainer. Have 2 easy runs on the docket for this week but kind of have a hankering to go to the highschool track and run some 400s -- perhaps a masochistic side of me is vying for attention. We shall see.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

t minus 7 days and counting

pooped at the end of a long day of annoying internship application stuff... run was good. details below. apologies for the lack of narrative.

route: whitehall to college, to shingletown, to west branch, to atherton, to university, home...jogging up and down the block to cool down.

time        dist    split

755        1           7:55
804        1           8:04
1442      1.87      7:52
921        1.15      8:10
714        .89        8:08
123        .175      7:54
1215      1.44      8:31   (last leg up university hill was slower than i'd like. having trouble breathing, think was a little dehydrated by that point. had plenty in my legs when wind subsided and i was able to breathe in last 200m and i pushed it in.)

total 1:00.53  7.55miles (8:04)

good deal of foot pain in the first 4 miles. had tied shoes tighter for more support as this spot on right front ankle had been bothering me but then the tongue of my shoe kept sliding to the right and onto the painful spot. at mile 3ish i finally loosened up my laces quite a bit and although the tongue kept sliding i had less pain. had some slight tighteness in left inner ankle (usual spot) starting around mile 5.

looks like i should (other conditions permitting) be able to sustain my goal 8:00 pace during the race, as there won't be any significant hills to contend with.

now i just need to get pain free and things should be all good for race day.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

in my dream last night i was experiencing an overwhelming loneliness that was untouched and unsoothed by seeing my childhood bestfriends, my parents, and even by being in one of my favorite "safe" places in the world. i woke up with an aching in my chest and had to talk myself out of the feeling, remind myself of my loving husband lying next to me in the bed. since then i haven't been able to shake the residual diffuse anxiety that came with this dream. no good excuse for feeling bad, yet can't seem to get away from it. harumph. workout didn't help either. hopefully tomorrow will be better. last long run before race day...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Patience is a virtue...

...that I do not possess.

It wasn't until James and I started dating (and then got engaged and married) that I realized that the way my family celebrates holidays and engages in gift-giving may not be the norm. As a young child I remember saving up my allowance (it may have been $3 per week back then) in order to be able to purchase a very large and awesome stuffed animal I so much desired. My mom and I came to an agreement that when I was able to cover half of the cost ($50) that she would cover the other half plus tax ($55). The day I had enough money we went to FAO and the huge Gund dog was mine. There was no waiting for my birthday or Hanukah. Gifts centered around either saving up the money or wanting something badly enough and having a good rationale for purchasing it. Fast forward 20+ years and the idea of waiting for gifts until 2 predetermined days of the year is hard to wrap my head around. Don't get me wrong, my first Christmas at James' parents' house was a fabulous treat. I have never received so many gifts at one time. But there is a cost. If I want something, I am supposed to wait, maybe even for months, and not purchase it myself in order to facilitate this process of getting longed for gifts on these 2 special days. I am NOT good at this. When I want something, I want it. I think about it every day. I go back and forth in my mind about whether I have enough money to buy it that very day. When James says "don't buy it" -- I understand that this is likely code for, "you'll get it soon" but... 
I WANT IT NOW!!!  (excuse my infantile outburst ;-) ). Strange that it is not made easier by knowing that this item is gratuitous and I am living and running fine without it...

Oh and about running: yesterday I ran an easy 4 miles in 34:30. Have a strange spot on the widest part of the my left foot then has been feeling bruised after each of my last 3 runs, don't know what is up with that. Only one more long run this Sunday and then 2 very easy runs before RACE DAY!  (oh and I am only awaiting one final letter and then I can submit all 20 applications ---could be done as soon as Monday!!!)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I am an Extreme Sport Bean

My goal for this morning was to do 5 miles at an 8:00 pace in order to see if that would be feasible on race day. I intentionally picked a relatively downhill course. To be accurate, the first two miles are on the uphill but then its flat and downhill for miles 3 through 5. I had some butterflies in my stomach before starting and was feeling the pressure a little bit, psyching myself out. The first mile or so of every run seems to be the hardest for me. As my lungs and legs get used to the exertion, I have these thoughts like, "I won't be able to keep going" "this is too fast" that I have to not pay too much attention to. Even though the route I took I've done a number of times, I still don't have a very clear sense of pace so I was basically pushing myself as hard as I felt I could without coughing up a lung, puking, or passing out. Okay, okay, it wasn't really all that fast or all that close to any of those possibilities. Just felt "hard." If I had had a heart rate monitor on I'm sure I'd have been in the 90+% MHR range and would have backed off. I think thats what a race pace is supposed to feel like though, so I kept slogging along. I didn't actually ever feel like I got in a good rhythm, but mile after mile ticked away and each one was sub 8:00. I have trouble reading my watch while moving, without risking banging it into my face (vision is rapidly declining as a consequence of advancing years and graduate school) so I wasn't quite sure where I stood... I came to my "finish line," pressed the stop button and looked down. 38:11!  Splits below:

I grabbed my knees, gasped for air, hocked a nice loogie, rested for about 30 seconds then continued on at an "easy" pace (meant to be around 10:00) for the 1.4 miles back home. Took just under 13 minutes before I arrived at my door. Legs felt heavy, not sure whether that was from the all out running or the 2/3mile hill to end the run. Stopped to stretch. Noticed the gorgeous blue sky, mild breeze, perfect day -- whoops! missed that during my run...  Came inside and munched on some watermelon sports beans, mmmm... In my pleasant endorphiny state thought to myself - "I am an Extreme Sport Bean"

Am now sitting here shivering under a blanket. Am not doing exactly as much reveling as I should be. This was a good run. A hard effort. Gave me a sense of how hard I might be able to push on race day (not quite this hard, as I don't think I could have done 1.55 more miles without giving in, but close). And really, it was quite a bit faster than I realized I could go. So I should feel good about this. Let me ponder that while I shower.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Trail Run

Awesome! Awesome! Awesome!

Met up with the NVRC to go for my longest run of the season. Was pretty nervous. Arrived at the designated location to find that the park and parking lot were closed due to all the fallen trees from the October snow. By 9am there were only four of us there and we decided to relocate to another entry point along the Toftrees path (at Waffle Shop parking lot). We were - Marty, Dave, Denise and me. Almost immediately Marty and I pulled away from Dave and Denise as we settled into an easy mid 9s pace. It was only about half a mile before we encountered the first large fallen tree obstructing the path. We climbed under and around and proceeded on. Marty had lots to say and told stories of the various runners in the group and their running successes and failures. Maybe about 2 miles in we were caught by Jeff another NVRC runner who had been searching for our group having missed us at the start. He seemed to be a much faster runner but stayed with us the whole way. There was much climbing under and around and through thick brush along the trail. When we popped out the back end of the trail (4.1 miles) Marty and I had some blood running down our legs. We made a nice little loop of the residential area at the end of the path before turning around. We then made our way back along the same trail. The weather was pretty gorgeous - low forties with hardly any wind. On the way back I was even a little warm in my shorts, tank and long sleeve technical t. I am very glad I didn't wear tights - I would have been too hot and I think I would have been worried about them getting torn or mangled by the brush. It wasn't until around 7 or 7.5 miles in that I started to feel a little bit of fatigue. The pace was so comfortable - I was able to talk throughout. Marty calls this one's "forever pace" - the pace at which you feel you could run forever. In the end the run was 8.8 miles and took 1:23.40. Without correcting for the time spent climbing through brush that put as at a 9:30 pace.  Felt awesome. Running with people is super fun. I hardly thought about the running part or how fast we were or weren't going. Perhaps this is a consequence of being at a moderate pace. We definitely ran faster on the way back than on the way out. 41 minutes for the first 4.1 miles (10:00). 5 1/2 minutes for the little residential loop of .6miles and then that leaves about 37:10 for the 4.1 back (9:04). I figure its safe to say we lost at least 2:40 to the wreckage. Correcting for that the pace was more like 9:12 overall, sub 9 for the back half. Unintentionally I think I just ran my first "distance run" with negative splits. My ego probably prevents me from running that slowly on the first half of my runs but it feels very good to have spring in your step on the second half.

So in conclusion: AWESOME.

group run

i'm going on a group run with the nittany valley running club this morning. the plan is a 9ish-miler around the toftrees area. this is my first run in a group and my longest run of the season...i have no idea how fast they will run...and i'm nervous... wish me luck!

Friday, October 16, 2009

gym closed due to power outages across the area. ground covered in slushy slippery snow. 45 minutes of Dance Dance Revolution counts as a workout right? what if i do some bicep curls, tricep extensions, and overhead presses?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

bring it

turns out 35 and driving sleet is gorgeous running weather!!!  my gear was not perfectly matched to the weather but not too bad. man tights have a slight disadvantage that i wouldn't have anticipated: the space in front for man goodies makes it difficult for me with my internal sex organs to keep them from sagging in the crotch and leaving a little area exposed to friction - for any sort of longer distance this could have been a really painful proposition. fleece did provide a nice barrier against the rain and then sleet but it was a little warm (for me) for above freezing temps. will need to look for an even lighter fabric.  the rain kept me relatively cool. i particularly like the sensation of the hot sweat coming out of the pores and mingling with the cold rain hitting my face.

run specs: 37 minutes, 4.44 miles (8:20 pace), 4 breaks to hike my tights back up into place (sorry to anyone who got a glimpse of this funny show).

snow in the forecast

right now its 36 and drizzly. i have bundled myself up in some running tights (james' not mine), a long sleeve t and a 100 weight fleece. can't tell if i'm going to be way too hot or too cold. i anticipate being very wet. think i am not going to run tempo as i need to get used to the wet road. we'll see how this goes. wish me luck.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Post results

Energy up!
Legs felt a little heavy but turnover was okay.
Blew a few very satisfying snot rockets. Running nose made catching my breath a little difficult, but nothing too bad.
Totally forgot about my aching heart.

Love running in sunny 40's, perfect weather. Took about 2 and a half miles for my hands to get warm, an another mile or so for the sweat to start flowing... Was running a new transition between to other legs that I've done a few times, thought I had looked closely enough at the map to know my turns but leave it to State College to have a missing road sign or two to throw things off. Got to my 4 mile marker and knew I needed to turn right on Sparks within .1 or .2 miles. I pass a road that looks promising but is unmarked so continue to the next road marked Gill -- can't remember from the map whether this is the road before the turn or the road that was supposed to tell me to I had gone too far. Decided to take it and then realized that I had no way of knowing which way to turn to get off of Gill which I didn't think went all the way back down to Westerly. Intuition kicked in and told me to cut through an alley back to that unmarked road and follow it. After a few blocks I at least knew I was converging on Westerly, even if I might hit a deadend and have to circle around a bit. But then, this cute little park emerged which I knew flanked my desired road-- and there I was a steep descent and Westerly appeared. Hit my lap button at the pre-determined marker for mile 5...turns out the mile was about 1.19 with the little detour. Ran pleasantly along Westerly toward Pugh and then uh-oh the hill on Pugh is serious; I couldn't even see the top. Trudged up and then thought my lungs might explode for a descent. Stopped to clutch my knees and take an FRS chew for about 30 seconds and then pressed on. This time I forgot where my mile 6 marker was an opted to wait for my lap with 1 mile left. For the first weeks of training I avoided Waupelani at the end of runs - .6miles straight up hill on tired legs is not fun. Today was not fun either. Told myself all I need was to stay under 10 minutes for that last mile, with the hill and I'd be under an hour for my run. Push push push and then home! More clutching of the knees and then James came outside (also just back from his run) and we stretched and shared details of our runs. Here are my specs:

9:18 / 1.19mi  (7:49)
9:09 / 1.10    (8:19)
8:57 / 1.02    (8:47)

58:56 / 7.31mi  (8:04)

Feel pretty good about this run. Still haven't run a whole hour, but given that I averaged more than 7mph, I'm happy with that as a "long" run for a half-marathon relay training program. Despite the stretching, legs feel tight right now -- probably one of the bigger disadvantages of running in the cool temps. Think I would have been too warm in tights.

pre-post experiment = successful.

(james also rocked his run -  over 8 miles, under 1 hour...3 weeks til race day!)

Pre-post experiment


Slept poorly with vivid and disturbing dreams.
Glutes are sore.
Head is congested but at least my cough seems to be under control and my breathing is unobstructed.
Heart aches. (Do you ever wake up and your heart aches for no apparent reason?)

Now I will put on my runner's armor (tiny shorts, tiny tank top, sneakers, tiny ipod shuffle) and head out for my longest run of this training season. See how many of the above outcomes I can shake free from...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Running: its not just for loners...

Yuko and I had the brilliant idea of joining forces for our Tuesday morning run. We make an excellent team. She kept pace and I for the first time ever, experienced what its supposed to feel like to run at an "easy" pace, at which you are not at all winded. It was awesome. Then it comes to my attention that my very sweet husband wants in on the action. We are going to go for a little run tomorrow morning. Its actually been about a month since we've been out on a run at all together, and two months since we were out on a 9 mile run around Brookline. I'm sort of excited to see if my running specific fitness is apparent tomorrow. In the past when we'd fun together I always felt like he was sort of dragging me along and I in turn was slowing him down. Now, I know that I'm still much slower than he is (my guess is we have a 30+ second discrepancy in various training paces: easy, tempo, strides), but my Sunday runs seem to indicate that I should be able to hang. Unlike my run with Yuko, I'm going to have to keep my mouth shut - conserve oxygen for the heart and legs, rather than spending on the talking.

Now its time to map out a nice little route. Wish me luck.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

chi running?

anyone tried out "chi running"?  thoughts? reactions? comments?

4 weeks out...

After a week of pathetic workouts and a nagging cold/virus that was just bad enough to keep me from working but not bad enough to make me feel justified in sitting around like a lazy ass, I am finally back in the saddle. Woke up this morning to a beautiful blue sky and temps in the high 40's. Had a nice 6 mile run all planned out and headed out the door right at 9am, with some caffeine on board and plenty of glycogen in my muscles from philly soft pretzels at dinner last night. About a quarter mile into my warm up I had an abrupt change of heart and decided that I was going to break with tradition. Rather than running a completely planned out route, in which I knew every mile marker and would therefore be racing myself for splits, I decided to change my route, run on feel and go for time rather than distance. After about a mile and a half I turned on Westerly Pkwy, which if followed until it terminates (now named Easterly) at University Dr is all on the flat or downhill. Felt very nice. For once I had a sense of what a comfortable pace is supposed to feel like. As I came upon University I decided that the large hills were not going to float my boat, so I turned around and ran back in the opposite direction and skipped the hills. The nice tailwind I had been riding (without realizing) now turned into a headwind which made things a little cooler and a little slower. I practiced Jenny Hatfield's technique for running on hills for the little .6mile hill on Waupelani heading back to my house. Finished in my driveway a little under 48 minutes (5.8ish miles), took a minute long break (that was niiice) and actually started running again. Did a little 1+ mile cool down, rounding out my run at 6.86 miles in a little over 57 minutes. The whole thing felt pretty good. I think I accomplished one of my goals, to run easier and a little slower.

Then, me being me, I came inside to look at my pace for the various legs of my run. I had wanted to run at a more moderate pace, not pushing so hard. The pink (rather than fire engine red) flush on my cheeks suggested that in terms of efforts I was on the right track. I didn't feel totally wrecked. My feet were not too bad. A little tightness in the left ankle, but manageable. My overall pace was 8:21. At first this was pleasing. Perceived effort was down but the pace only slacked by a little over 10 seconds. Then I started feeling that this was too slow and that I should have run faster. What is wrong with me?

All in all, a great training run. I wish I could have weekday runs like my Sunday runs. 4 weeks til race day! 3 weeks, 5 days til applications go in. (16 cover letters drafted as of Friday. 4 to go. Oh and one beast of a neuropsych report that I need to finish off.)

57:19min  /  6.86miles  = 8:21min/mi

Thursday, October 1, 2009

note to self: being sick is not useful for fitness or training.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

lots of people ran in races today...i can't wait to hear all about it and must limit the number of times i press refresh on my blogger page.

i also had a great run this morning and will try to find time to write a little diddy about it before sundown when yom kippur begins.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Days of Awe (day 7)

Day 7: Silence - Sh'tikah
The book of Kohelet teaches us that there is a time to speak and a time to be silent. Silence is illusive as we are constantly followed by soundtracks to our lives and the noise of the world permeates our thinking at all moments. To seek silence opens our minds and souls to profound contemplation. Moreover, the most common way we choose to hurt another is through our words. We gossip, give backhanded compliments, share rumors, both true and untrue, that hurt ourselves, hurt the one who hears our words, and injure the reputation of another human being. Too often, we use our tongues as swords.
During this past year, about whom have you spoken poorly or insulted behind their back or to their face? How can you begin to repair the destruction caused by your words? What commitments might you make for the coming year to use words to heal? How will you seek the silence you need from our noisy world to clear your head and develop your inner thoughts?

Days of Awe (day 6)

Day 6: Enthusiasm - Zerizutay
Does "enthusiasm" really measure up to the rest of these values? Mussar teaches that it does. It is simply not enough to just show up in life. We are plagued by the heavy weight of laziness that keeps us sitting on our couches instead of engaging with the world, the obstacle of anxiety that clouds our abilities to act with joy and fervor, and the process of rationalization that permits us to put off all of the good we can do in our families, in our communities, and in our world. Something is standing between us and running to do what is right with the natural spark of spiritual energy that infuses our souls.
How can you act with enthusiasm to accomplish all of the wonderful things you want to accomplish this year? When you feel lazy or rationalize putting off doing good for another day, what will give you the strength to act with the virtue of zerizut? How will enthusiasm add to your spiritual life, your justice work, and your personal life this year?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hot and Sweaty

So after yesterday's exceedingly painful run my faith faltered. I went back and forth and back and forth and finally decided to head back to Rapid Transit to talk to the shoe guy. My shoe guy (ok we only met once) wasn't there but another shoe guy was more than happy to help. We tried on a bunch of other pairs of shoes, some better and some worse than the Saucony Omni 8's I already had. In the end he felt that I shouldn't keep running in shoes that were giving me pain at a level 8, so I made a switch. I am now the proud (actually, more like cautious) owner of a pair of Adidas Supernova Sequence 2s. I haven't worn Adidas in more than a decade, but they felt good in the store, even on my aching feet. The other thing that I took away from this anxiety driven visit to the store was that all these running guys think I need to be running more often than I am. In some ways this runs counter (no pun intended) to everything Jeff Galloway and other coaches seem to be saying about only running 3-4 days a week. These shoe guys seem pretty confident though. Shoe guy #2 even said that it was better that I go out for a 1.5 mile run every day with only one longer run each week, than to do 3 4-6 mile runs per week. He also felt like I shouldn't be running such a large proportion of my weekly distance on any one run -- that is, that my long run is too long given my total mileage. So blah-dee-blah-blah, here we are at Wednesday. I went to the gym this morning and had a quick 30 minute rendezvous with the Arc trainer followed by a 25 minute weight circuit. Not a great workout by any means. Feeling hesitant on my feet and again worrying about my shoes and whether I shouldn't have kept the Saucony's in the first place. Then it rained all afternoon. At 5pm the rain stopped, just long enough for me to take shoe guy #2 up on his suggestion of a quick run around the block (even on a non-running day). It was hot and humid (my least favorite combo) and my legs felt a little leaden from my squats and deadlifts, but this was meant to be just a jog, so I had no excuse. 12 minutes later, back at the house, feet feeling ok. Phew. Shoes are definitely not as cushy as the Saucony's but no pain for now. We'll see how they do tomorrow with a few more miles. Now, I need a shower.

Who else has shoe/feet issues? Am I doomed as a runner, or can the story have a happy ending?

Days of Awe (continued...)

Day 5: Honor, Kavod

Every human being is created in the image of God and yet many of us judge others like it's our job. We find every flaw in their appearance, character, and actions, and magnify it. Moreover, we do not act with honor when we feel jealousy over another's good fortune instead of celebrating their success and knowing that happiness is not a zero sum game. To act with honor is to treat everyone with great dignity, to look beneath the surface to find that we are all on equal footing as human beings.
How would your life be different if you didn't judge others or feel jealous when someone else has an achievement? How might you repair any hurt you may have caused this year from acting without enough kavod? How might you practice this middah in this coming year?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Crushing Weight of Expectation

I had high hopes for this morning. Big mistake.  Workout was brutal. For the first time in weeks, I needed multiple walking breaks throughout my run. Both of my ankles were screaming. And once there is screaming involved my mind tends to join in. Of course, it wasn't until mile 5, with under a mile to go that I found any sort of rhythm at all and by then I was pooped (mostly from the battle raging in my head). Thats what I get for wanting something...

Days of Awe (not a running post)

For me, the Ten Days of Awe are the most painful yet the most rewarding days of the year. They are also the time when I am proudest to be a Jew. Below is an initiative from my Temple in Boston. If you prefer irreverent posts, skip all subsequent "days of awe" posts.

    As we travel together through these Yamim Nora'im, the Ten Days of Awe between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we have an opportunity to engage in the deepest kind of reflection into who we have been this past year and who we hope to become. We all have our strengths and our weaknesses, things we have worked hard on and things in our lives that still need our attention.

What is Mussar?

"Everything that came into being during the six days of creation requires improvement - for example, the mustard seed needs to be sweetened, the wheat needs to be grinded . . . also human beings need to be finished" (B'reishit Rabbah 11:6).
Our world is a world of transformation. When we are improving and refining ourselves, we are in concert with the Divine plan - fulfilling our purpose for existing in this world. . . . Not only is the human being created for this purpose, but we are also given the ability and capacity to attain this supreme goal. - Rabbi Yisrael Salanter
Mussar is a process of growth and transformation that helps us to become the person we want to become, our highest spiritual potential. Mussar means "ethics" in modern Hebrew and is a spiritual practice of cheshbon hanefesh, an accounting of our souls. Mussar is also the name of a Movement begun in the late 19th century in Lithuania.
While mussar is a life long practice, the idea of using some of the tools of this practice between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, when we are examining our deeds and committing to teshuvah, a return to God, our community, and our best selves, is an exciting prospect.
The practice of mussar asks us to consider a wide set of attributes that make up our actions, influence our responses to others, and affect how we navigate the world. These attributes, or soul-traits, are called middot (singular middah), or measures.
We will find that we each have our own spiritual path and that the things that I need to work on are likely not the things you need to work on. But the goal is to work on that or those traits so that when the time comes to respond to a situation, we are ready to act how we want to act. That moment, when all our soul-training is about to be tested, when that guy cuts us off on the road, or our friend gets that promotion - that moment is called a bechirah-point. Bechirah means choice and it is the moment that our training becomes real: Who will we be when every one of our buttons is being pushed? How will we act? What will we choose to do?
Mussar is not self help, even as it does help us to become all that we are capable of becoming. It is a demanding and exciting process in which we are asked to hold the needs of others in our hearts, care about how we interact with the world, and grow to be kinder, warmer, calmer, more generous, not for our sake, but for the sake of others who deserve our highest, truest self.
As the text by Rabbi Salanter teaches above, human beings are built to improve ourselves, to engage in the act of teshuvah, return, and to finish creation with the repair of our own souls by the work of our own hearts.

How Do I Do It?

There are many answers to this question and each teacher of mussar might answer it differently. The overarching truth, though, is that any practice that will allow you to transform yourself through the act of cheshbon nefesh is a successful practice.
Traditionally, mussar includes serious text study, meditation, secluded reflection, and sometimes a practice of learning and discussion with a partner. One of the primary tools of this practice, though, is keeping a journal. While we may not all be prepared to commit to a life long practice of mussar, we can hold this journal in our hands and say that the next ten days are going to be different. During the next ten days, called Yamim Nora'im, the Days of Awe, we are charged with taking seriously the process of teshuvah, of return, making real changes in our lives, repairing our broken relationships, returning to our God, our community, our family, and the truest version of ourselves.
This journal affords us an opportunity to take ourselves seriously as the potential for change is never more powerful during the Jewish calendar than it is on these days. Reflecting some basic practices of mussar, each of the pages of this diary are headed with a middah, an attribute of value to the soul (this is just a sampling, there are many more!). Each trait is followed by questions, thoughts, definitions, or descriptions. These are meant simply to guide us as we consider our own lives each day between now and Yom Kippur. We are, of course, free to use our own interpretations of these middot or to replace them with soul-traits you feel are more critical to your teshuvah this year.
As you journal, it might be useful to think about mussar's three-tiered approach to change: Sensitivity, Self-Restraint, and Transformation. First, we practice sensitivity - the art of making ourselves aware of how we react to people and situations that challenge us. Second, we practice self-restraint as we train ourselves to respond, and therefore act, differently as our external actions trigger internal change. Finally, we move to transformation, as we reprogram ourselves so that we simply no longer think to act a certain hurtful way.
This set of emails is a starting point, a way to pass through the doorway and exist in this liminal space between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. It can help make us more aware of the middot we'd like to work on, what we will need to do in order to change, and the soul-training we might want to commit to in this coming year. To consider these middot is to begin anew a process of self-reflection, growth, and a journey toward our highest selves, toward profound wholeness and holiness. May our writings and reflections bring us joy, challenge us in every good way, and open up sacred opportunities for a life renewed.


Day 1: Rosh Hashanah

Humility, Anavah

Humility is about taking up the amount of space that we should take up, but no more than that. A person who has too much of the middah of anavah shrinks from the tasks for which s/he is responsible, but a person who is arrogant and conceited makes no room for others to exist, inappropriately aggrandizing his/her own self above others. Some of us are far more prideful than we need to be while some of us painfully degrade ourselves. Unwarranted arrogance can make others feel small or shut out, while true humility can result in inner dignity.
In this past year, how have you taken up more space than you should have or shut out others' voices or participation? When did you take up less space than you should have, avoiding responsibilities that belonged to you? If your lack of anavah made another feel small, how will you apologize for hurting them? How will you practice the middah of humility this coming year?


Day 2: Patience, Savlanut

Sometimes in life, it's important to be impatient; impatience is a virtue when we are confronted with injustice or the suffering of another. Yet far too often, we are impatient in ways that hurt others, seething or yelling at someone before we even know what's happening. Often, impatience comes from a place in our egos in which the world revolves around "me" and my needs. A driver who cuts us off, a partner who is late in getting ready, a child who can't find her shoes - we see these as impediments to our own plans and, impatiently, we lash out.
During this past year, with whom did you act impatiently? How might you repair that hurt? Were there times when you were too patient? How might you plan to practice greater patience this coming year?

Day 3: Gratitude, Hakarat Hatov

With so much hype about the need for more and more worldly possessions, we can become mired in what we don't have. We often encounter obstacles that obscure our vision of the blessings in our lives, yet to feel and express gratitude for the gifts that we are given can amplify those blessings, help us transcend our feelings of deficiency, and honor those who help us attain what we do have.
What are you grateful for in your life? To whom are you grateful? During this past year, were there times that you wished you had practiced this middah? Who is still in need of receiving your gratitude? How do you want to practice gratitude in the coming year? What can expressing more gratitude do for you and those you love this year?

Day 4: Order, Seder

It is taught that while the pearls of a necklace are the most valuable parts, it is the clasp that is the most important, since without it, all the pearls would fall off and scatter. So it is with the middah of order. We so often live in our own clutter - in our homes, our cars, our offices, our minds, our business dealings - feeling scattered, unable to get out from under it. Yet to value order in our lives, physically and spiritually, is to align ourselves more fully with the order of the universe, honor those who share our spaces and our lives, and create sacred space out of what might otherwise be a real mess. Order, as with our other middot, takes discipline and commitment, but the space it can create for us is immeasurable.
What in your life is in disorder? What will it take for you to put things in order, physically or spiritually? What other attributes will you need to make this commitment to yourself? How might adding a sense of order to your life in the coming year change you, change your mindset, change your relationships?