Saturday, February 28, 2009

20.4 (cold) miles

Well, I've done it. I ran today the longest long run that I will run before the marathon. 20.4 miles through Spencerport and Hilton. It was so cold! High of about 16 degrees, and with the windchill, it was 5 out. But, it was sunny and snowing lightly (very light - nice big flakes), so that was good. I ran to my grandma's, which was just under 8 miles. I had left a gatorade bottle on the porch, so I picked that up. I also took a GU Energy Gel (these gooey sugar things that provide some carbs and sugar and are great for long distance running) at that point. Somewhat bizarre (not really solid or liquid) tasting, but it was great for a boost. The run through Hilton was a bit boring (I stayed on the same road for about 2 hours), but it was fine. Then, I ran up to my driveway, grabbed another GU and Gatorade, and kept going (I had hit about 15 miles at that point).
The last 5 miles were starting to get to me a bit. I was fairly cold at that point, but I kept trucking through. When I only had a few more turns to go, I started to pick it up - I just wanted to finish, cool down, get home, and hop in the shower. I finished in 3 hours and 12 minutes, which meant ny pace was 9:21 per mile. Slightly slower than my estimated race pace, but I'm going to hope that I'll be able to pick it up in 3 weeks. I think that the cold slowed me down a bit, too.
I walked around my neighborhood for my cooldown, and that's when the soreness sank in. I walked a lot, stretched out, and took a good shower. But I have a feeling I'll be a bit sore tomorrow. However, I'm glad I was able to do it, and with relatively little difficulty (the cold was the big snag...I was hoping it would be around 30). I think, had someone been there, I could've kept going for a couple more miles. I'm going to have a nice dinner now, which is going to taste so good.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

So close to Spring Break

I have one Latin class that is between me and Spring Break. Then, I can go home to Rochester (I fly home tomorrow night). I still have a lot to do: lots of reading and running, but I can do it at my leisure.

The past few days have been very nice for running. Tuesday morning, it was incredibly windy (25 mph winds), so I was nervous how my track workout was going to turn out. However, it seems as if my nerves helped to propel me forward, because I pushed really hard and had some good times on my intervals! I was pleasantly surprised. On Wednesday afternoon, it was sunny and 50, so I was able to wear shorts (something which excited the bloggers on Runner's World as well...must've been good weather throughout the country). My schedule only allowed for 3-4 miles, so I did 4, but I wanted to go so much further. But, given that the race is just over 3 weeks away, I don't want to break any of the training rules. I also had a good track workout today.

I'm going to attribute part of my success to "Mary's Ultimate Running Mix" (Discs 1 and 2). Mary put together an awesome set of songs to run to. Among other hits, "Bye Bye Bye," "Thong Song," "Star Wars' Duel of The Fates," "Dies Irae" (Verdi's Requiem) are on it. AWESOME. It's amazing how good music can help.

Tomorrow is my rest day, and then 20 miles on Saturday at home. 20 miles!

22 days and 8 hours until the starting gun goes off!

Sunday, February 22, 2009


While I have no real interest in science or anatomy, I find the body and it's reactions to situations to be fascinating. Today's example is adrenaline. I had a work-related incident last night which woke me up @2:15AM. It kept me occupied until 5AM, and when I got back to my room, I couldn't fall asleep until 6. As soon as I got called, the adrenaline kicked in, and I was alert and ready to go; nothing could stop me. And while I feel wiped today, I also realized that the adrenaline will kick in on marathon day and keep me going. For, if I could be active and alert after a long day (including my long run) for almost 4 hours, I think the adrenaline will give a 4 hour marathon time. So, here's hoping!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

4 weeks to go

4 weeks until the marathon! That's not a lot of time left, and I have a feeling the next few weeks will fly by.

I ran 14.5 miles this morning at a pretty fast pace. Having done almost 18 last week, this seemed to fly by, which was why I pushed myself to go faster today.

As I was heading out this morning, I passed by the Shrine guard who is always so nice and asks me to run one of my miles for him. He was still there when I came back, and we had a nice chat. I finally found out his name: it's Peter. He's such a sweet man, and I feel like he's always there to welcome me back from my run.

Following the run, Seth and Mary joined me at American University to watch Holy Cross play American University. Unfortunately, HC lost. But I had a great time, and enjoyed catching up with some of my classmates and seeing the purple proudly donned. We picked Wes up after, and then drove out to Annapolis for the evening (so much fun).

Despite the HC loss, it turned out to be a good day.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Not quite a repeat of Tuesday

I ran the "perfect mile" workout again this morning, but it was less perfect than Tuesday's. It was raining and windy the whole time, and when I turned on the track, I definitely felt like I had to go faster, just to make up for the 15 mph wind blowing at me. Each of the intervals (1600, 1200, 800, 400) were slightly slower than Tuesday's, and that's ok. I think my frustration came an hour later when I headed to work and it was sunny and clear.

In other news: NBC4 Washington, the official media partner for the 2009 SunTrust National Marathon & Half Marathon, has launched its own home page. It was cool to check out some of the pictures from previous races, as well as get more information about the day itself.

Race Day Countdown: 29 days 16 hours 37 minutes until the gun goes off!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The perfect mile

While I do not have a real coach, Runners World has been instrumental in my training. The website provides lots of good workouts, nutrition advice, tools (like calories burned calculators, etc). So this morning, I used the workout called "the perfect mile." You run 2-3 miles to a track as a warm up. Then at the track, you run 1600, 1200, 800, and then 400 meters, with about a minute in between. Then you finish by running 2 miles back.


1600 7:31

1200 5:28
800 3:40

400 1:40

I did this slightly slower than the gauntlet last week, because this run was in between 2 sets of 2 mile runs (and this one includes a 1200, unlike the gauntlet). Overall, I was pretty happy with the results. I felt pretty tired afterwards, which was evidenced when a woman stopped my for directions at the Shrine, and I was wheezing the directions to her.

Today really was an appropriate day for speedwork (aside from it being on my schedule). A 72 year old widow in England was robbed by some teenage girls. But Mrs. Jean Hirst (a former 100m sprinter champion) decided to take on the muggers, and she got her purse back! You go girl!

Today is also Rob Denien's 23rd birthday. Rob was Evan's roommate in college, and a very good friend of mine. During our junior year at Holy Cross, he challenged me to a foot race (from Healy to Mulledy on Easy Street). Evan, confident that I would beat Rob given the fact that I was more in shape than him, told Rob that I would do it. I lost. A second race up the Fenwick steps happened about a week later. I lost then too. Cut to March of senior year. We decided to take a winner-take-all race through lower campus. We even had our friend stationed throughout different points to watch the race. I drafted behind Rob, it was going perfectly until the end. I didn't sprint early enough, and he beat me, for a third time. The sad thing is, I felt fine after, and Rob was on the coach moaning for a few hours after. More shame for me.

In a series of voicemails and missed calls: I wished Rob a happy birthday, he told me he's going to be in DC March 20-25, and I told him that that's when my marathon is. Rob, ever the cheeky one, told me he'll race me in it. While that might not happen, he might be there to watch me, which would be pretty neat.

And I will not be ashamed about my running anymore, Rob!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Inspiring Stories

Recently, I have come across several inspiring marathon stories that remind me that I have no legitimate excuses to give up in my training. Their stories are good kicks in the butt and help me to get out and running for the day. These people, whose stories I'll now share with you, have overcome a lot in order to run, something which I think I've often taken for granted:

Matt Long, an NYFD, was a runner his whole life, until he got hit by a 20-ton bus. After 2 years of intensive therapy, he ran his first mile in 22 minutes. Following months of preparation, he ran the NYC Marathon in 3:33 He did celebratory push-ups at the finish line.

Team Hoyt is a father-son triathlon team. Dick Hoyt pushes, pulls and bikes with his son Rick during marathons and Ironman competitions. They've completed 26 times in the Boston Marathon and 6 Ironman competitions.

I just heard of this last story yesterday. The Discovery Health channel did a show called "Marathon Love," which featured the story of Jamie and Lynn Parks. Lynn was in a serious car accident five months before the 2 were supposed to get married in 1987. Even though her brain stem was severely damaged, their love continued to grow. They eventually married. Jamie, an avid runner, wanted to have Lynn around always, so he would push her in her wheelchair. In 2008, they completed the Boston Marathon in 3:25.

It may sound silly, but I cried a little bit watching all of these videos - they are very touching stories. There was something in particular about the Parks story that moved me. So, I e-mailed Jamie this morning, to thank him and his wife for some much needed inspiration and motivation. Within a few hours, I got a very nice e-mail from him, wishing me luck with my training and saying that he would keep me in his prayers.

There's an amazing community of runners and people out there, and I feel as if I've just barely scratched the surface.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day/Long Run

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

This past week was pretty hectic with schoolwork and my job. Needless to say, I had fallen behind on my sleep - more so than normal. So, instead of getting up early to do my long run, I got 10.5 hours of sleep (which was about equal to the previous 2 nights in total). That helped a bit! Taking it easy (especially since yesterday was my rest day, which meant reading Bede's commentary on the Apocolypse and watching some tv) was great.

I had a quiet morning, which included reading Erasmus's In Praise of Folly and yoga. Then, I set out for my long run. Very nice day (I've been fortunate with the weather on my long run days) and lots of people (families, couples, kids) were out and about. Some guys were playing Ultimate on the National Mall, people were riding their bikes, etc.

My long run consists of running to the city, through the city, and then back. Each week, the run stays the same for the most part, but I had a bit at the end, so as to increase my mileage. This week, I needed to do 17-18 miles, and I got to 17.9 miles. It felt good, and I think had someone been standing there at the end and said, "You need to run 2 more miles," I think I could have done that.

As I go through the run, I have different checkpoints in my head. It's too overwhelming to think of the whole thing at once (it doesn't feel assuring when you've done 1 mile and realize, only 16 miles to go). Some of my checkpoints include: the Capitol, Washington & Lincoln monuments, Arlington Cemetery, the Jefferson Memorial, and the Full Yum restaurant on North Capitol. It's pretty nifty to have such beautiful buildings (Full Yum aside) to run towards.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

And I must be an acrobat

And I must be an acrobat

To talk like this

And act like that

And you can dream

So dream out loud

And you can find

Your own way out

And you can build

And I can will

And you can call

I can't wait until

You can stash

And you can seize

In dreams begin


And I can love

And I can love

And I know that the tide is turning 'round

So don't let the bastards grind you down

That's the ending from the U2 song "Acrobat" (in the Achtung Baby album), which Mary played for me today (rather, we went in her car, drove around CUA and listened to it) in order to pump me up (after a tumultous Latin class).

The jig is up! I am going to take my frustrations (with the Latin language and almost everything about it) and turn it into something good. My anger is going to transform into a great tempo run tomorrow morning, and my determination into a success.
The tide will turn around!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A 6:49 mile

This morning was my speed workout. Now normally, this run is more intense, but I generally do not do any sort of intervals. The speed workouts are probably the thing I do not put the most time into. I really don't like them - I've never been a big speed fan, which was I got into long-distance running in the first place.

Mary, who played lacrosse at Colby, has given me some advice on training. One of the things she had to do at Colby was the Gauntlet: a series of descending intervals: 1600, 800, 400, etc (I think there were intervals than that). Each of these had to be done in a certain time. This morning, I couldn't remember what exactly the times were, or how much time to rest between intervals, but I went to the DuFour Center track (and the lacrosse team was practicing, which made me think of Katie Riddle). Anyways, I did the gauntlet, at least as much as I could remember:
1600 M: 6:49
800 M: 3:22
400 M: 1:34
400 M: 1:31 (I figured I should try it twice, since I had a sneaking suspicion I was neglecting another interval)

I don't think I've ever been able to run a mile under 7 minutes before today. The closest I got to that was 7:15 in high school, when I ran track my freshman year (and that was considered to be slow in comparison with my teammates). I realize that it makes sense that I can now, given the training I've been doing. But it felt like a big moment to break through that time barrier. It went by really fast (not even 2 songs on my mp3 player - "In the Navy" by the Village People" and "Single Ladies" by Beyonce); I was shocked. Now, I want to make a goal to shorten that time - because I feel like I probably could've push a little more to get to 6:45 (I think if someone was standing there at the end waiting for me, I could've gotten there in that time).

Which brings me to another point. While I love the independence of running alone and knowing that I am totally in control of everything I'm doing, there are days when I wish I had some sort of coach or person waiting for me at the end. Yes, I am motivating myself to finish, but sometimes I cannot summon enough self-determination to keep going, and that makes me want to have a coach of sorts. If anything, at least I'll get that on Marathon Day, when I'll have friends and family (my parents are coming!) waiting for me. :-)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Enjoying 16.5 miles

I did it! For some reason, getting over the 16 mile mark has been difficult over the past few weeks. This morning was the first time I was able to successfully do it. It was a beautiful day in DC: about 50 degrees and sunny. I was able to wear my new shorts (with pockets), and they were great. I saw at least 100 runners out and about. I love how all runners share mutual waves, smiles, and even grunts, which help to keep each other going.

When I turned onto Michigan Ave to round the bend of my run, and once I could see the Shrine, I realized that even after 14 miles, I still felt good, and more importantly, capable of continuing onward. It felt great to go over the hills, and not feel like I was going to colapse or fall down. I think I could've gone beyond the 16.5 miles - but that was the length planned in my marathon workout (in case anyone was wondering, I've been using the "Rookie Marathon" on - here is the link:,7120,s6-238-244-255-11937-0,00.html). I've been sticking with that plan, and so far, it's been working out well.

As exciting as that experience was, it is somewhat alarming to know that after that (16.5), I'll still have slightly less than 10 more miles to go on marathon day (exactly 6 weeks away). Right now, I feel as if I have the energy to go a few more miles, but 10? I'm not sure. Then again, I just need to keep reminding myself that in October, I could only run 4-5 miles at a time. I think that's progress.