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 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!