Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Far Away

Far Away by Ingrid Michelson became one of my favorite songs (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdVgCqdV9wI) when I found out that I was going to spend the summer in Santa Cruz, CA.

Far away, far away, I want to go far away To a new life on a new shore line Where the water is blue and the people are new To another island, in another life.

That pretty much sums up how I feel right now - I have another life, far away, on another coast.

I recently arrived in Santa Cruz, CA to start a position as Academic Dean for a summer program for gifted children. While I have worked for this program before, I am at a new site and a new position. Ultimately, I oversee the academic program and all of the teaching staff, which is really cool. I love this program (see "I belong here") and am fortunate to have a new challenge presented to me. Our students arrived on Sunday, and everything is just brimming with excitement and energy.

Additionally, the view from here isn't too bad either…

I cannot believe how gorgeous it is here. I had never been on the West Coast before, and CA is just beautiful. It is actually on the cool side in Southern California, which is fine by me. And the air…I don't know how to explain it. It is just so fresh and pure, it is almost as if I could drink it. It is that refreshing. Every time I go outside, I am just in awe of the redwoods and the view….

The one downside is that the opening week was super busy. So, running was put on the back burner. Now, I needed my energy on getting the camp ready to go. But I know that it will still be waiting for me soon!

Because it is not that I have to do this, I get to do this.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

All about the numbers (?)

Is it really all about the numbers?

Last Friday, I went to see the GI doctor for a followup on my May blood work - a test to see how things looked after 4 months of a gluten-free diet.

Essentially, I failed my test. In December, when I was first diagnosed my number was over 100. The goal, when I went on the GF diet on January 10th, was to lower that number. It is still over 100.

So, why did I fail? In my effort to hold on to some things, I ended up dealing with a lot of cross-contamination that effectively negated all of the gluten free products. So, while I was eating GF bread, the cereal I was eating (Kix) was made in the same factory where wheat products are made. There was enough cross-contamination (which I was initially reluctant to believe) to keep my gluten number high.

What does this mean? It means I need to be a lot more aggressive in how I approach the gluten free diet, in preparation for November blood work. So, if any food says, "May possibly contain wheat," it is out. And, I can no longer take a sandwich, and just eat the inside. Glutens are sticky enough that they can go from the bread onto the meat and effectively ruin it. It means I need to be very specific when ordering at a restaurant that they clean the surface before they make my meal. No more cheating allowed.

I felt like I had failed. All of this change in diet amounted to nothing? I hadn't done enough. It was a difficult pill to swallow. This is now round 2. I get another opportunity to lower my number. I have a new Kix cereal, it's called Gorilla Munch (both kid and celiac friendly), and actually tastes almost the same, it's just more expensive. My hope is that by truly knocking gluten out of my diet, I'll have continued running success, like Amy Yoder Begley and Stephanie Rothstein have experienced.

Is it all about the numbers?

Saturday, my challenge was a tempo run: 20 minutes easy, 20 minutes moderately fast (marathon pace), 20 minutes faster than that, 20 minutes easy = 80 minutes/9.5 miles. But it was already 70 when I headed out, and I felt hot and even sluggish in the warmup (when I'm normally fighting to stay slow). I started my watch after the warm-up and lasted 25 minutes at tempo pace. I then decided it was just better to finish the run then push too hard and be completely zapped of energy with a few miles to go. So, I stopped my watch and just ran without the concern of time. A few miles later, I felt my energy resurge, so I picked it up again. Afterwards, it turns out I averaged 7:33 pace during the tempo part, and 8:12 overall. Okay - that is great! Much better than I anticipated halfway through the run. Those are good numbers.

But is it all about the numbers?

On Sunday, I turned 25. A quarter of a century. While I've had friends be a little antsy about that, I think it is great. It sounds like a real grown up age. Of course I don't think you're fully grown up if you refer to people your age as grown ups, hmm? The only "bad" thing about turning 25 is that I have to say goodbye to the 18-24 age group in road races - I did well in that category. And in the past year, as 25 approached, I kept an eye out for how I would fair in the 25-29 category - there are a lot of fast women in this age division! So that will be a new challenge, to try and place in this category!

I think I can sign off on my first quarter, but I'm also hopeful about what is to come in the second one. A career, love, my own family - those are the things I am looking forward to. And while I don't necessarily look or feel really any different than I did last week, in some ways, life begins anew.

Friday, June 17, 2011

5k and up training begins!

As I mentioned last month, I am taking some time away from the marathon to focus on my shorter distance running. Still running on circles, on the track and on the road. Beyond MCM, the marathon is put on hold for some shorter distance training (it worked for Desi Davila, right?). So, this week began my "5k and up" training, still designed by my friend Sarah, who has helped me me go from a 3:39 marathon down to 3:27 in less than 2 years. Last week was my final week of regular running, no plan:
Monday: 2k yard swim, 16 mile bike ride
Tuesday: 7.5 mile track workout include 2 x 1 mile, 4 x 400: 6:51, 6:47, 1:38, 1:36, 1:35, 1:34
ploys, weights, 3k row, 4 miles on bike (Tenacious Tuesday!)
Wednesday: 2k yard swim, weights, 16 mile bike ride
Thursday: 6.5 mile run
Friday: 3.4 mile shakeout run
Saturday: NYRR Mini 10k: 46:07
Sunday: 4.2 mile run
Total running mileage: 27.8
bike: 36 miles
swim: 4000 yards

Week by week, the training will look very similar to marathon training. I'll run 4 times a week: track on Tuesday, regular run on Thursday, tempo run Saturday, long run (10-12 miles) on Sunday. I'll still cross train 3 times a week, but instead of twice a day like I did for Boston, it will be just once a day, aiming for an hour.

I had a killer track workout on Tuesday that totally made me feel better about Saturday's race. The weather cooled down and it just looked like a great day for speed (unlike Saturday, when I felt like I couldn't push it at all). The task: 2.5 mile w/u, 6 x 800 starting at 3:22 and knocking off 3 seconds (1 lap jog in between each interval) 2.5 mile c/d.

And I went off - that number seemed fast: start at 3:22? I had times when that was one of the last of the 800s, not the starting one. But I just felt like I was flying I started, and not too tired: 3:19. And so it continued, each time, the first lap didn't seem too bad, it wasn't until the final 300 that I ached to finish. Ultimately:
3:19, 3:14, 3:11, 3:07, 3:05, 3:05.

I think I've only ever run sub 3:15 in mile trial attempts! But they clicked off relatively easy, I was so surprised! The last 2 were really tough, and after my recovery laps, I had to just stand there and just mentally ready myself to do it, "Come on, you'll only be uncomfortable for 185 seconds, you can do it."

It was a great workout and a great way to kick off the shorter distance training. I just felt, well, proud. Those times were unimaginable a year ago, and in my opening workout of the season, I got them. I have a tempo on tap tomorrow - last run in this AG!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Mini Magic with Mom RR

In April, after a long run, I called my mom, and mentioned that I had been wanting to run in the NY Mini for a few years - maybe this was the year it could happen? And then she asked, "Do you think I could do it too?" She had run a 5 mile race in March, so yes, I thought she would be ready to make her 10k debut by June.

The Mini is historic enough to begin with - the first women's only race, established in 1972, and founded to get women into running. But this year was the 40th running of it, and because of the recent passing of 5 time Mini winner and 9 time NYC Marathon winner Grete Weitz, a race to remember Grete. Over 5,000 were registered for this event, which was going to not only be my mom's longest race ever, but her largest too.

For the life of me, I could not sleep Friday night. This never happens the night before the race. Tossing and turning, I could hear the pouring rain outside my aunt's house, and started to worry. I am fine running in heavy rain, relish it even, but my mom does not. Would she be okay? Was the race even going to happen if there was a thunderstorm? Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, and I could not fall back asleep and the 5:15 wake up call happened way too soon. We hoped and hoped that the rain would stop by the time we got to the city (we were staying an hour away), and by the time we had eaten breakfast, the rain had stopped. And we arrived in the city, dry and ready to go.

As we approached the park, the excitement began to build as we saw more runners head toward the start.

And then, I even saw Kathrine Switzer run by, warming up! When we got closer to the start, and she was talking to a group of people. When we saw her in Boston, I told her that my mom would be making her 10k debut at the Mini, and that Kathrine would be there. And since Kathrine has a good memory, she remembered that, and greeted us like old friends. I was so happy that my mom could meet her, not as my mom, but as a fellow runner.

Before we knew it, it was time to head to our respective corrals, so we hugged goodbye and prepared for the start. There were a bunch of nice tributes to Grete Weitz, from Mary Wittenberg (NYRR President), Katherine Switzer, and even Deena Kastor - so cool to see her up close! And then, the gun went off.

It was almost instantaneous, as soon as I took off, I knew it wasn't my day. it was very hot and humid, and things just didn't feel right. I went through the first mile in 7:07, slower than anticipated, but I wanted to attribute it to the crowds. But then hit 14:20 for mile 2, and I just felt like I had no energy to pick it up. I just felt awful - I don't think I've ever felt that crummy during a race, especially so early in the race. Just zapped. I hit the 5k in 22:30 and at that point, knew I wasn't going to PR. Rather than getting too down, I just decided to hang out, run the best I could, and enjoy the experience of running through Central Park, my first time doing so. Once I did that, the miles clicked off a little easier. The guys at the mile markers were great cheerleaders, they were awesome and very encouraging. And seeing mile 5 go by, it was encouraging to know just 1.2 remained.

I was tired, and ready to finish. I was so excited to see the finish line. And you know, I decided to just run happy, and threw my hands in the air as I finished.


Not a PR, and for the first time since I started in fall 2008, I did not PR. It was a bummer for a little bit, but yo

u know, you can't PR every time, and it was bound to happen at some point. There is still room for improvement, I know that. And I was much happier to see some of my statistics:

248/4700 finishers

19/300 in AG (last race in the 18-24 category!)

Yay! That is definitely something to be proud of, and when I was a little bummed out of the no PR, it was how I did overall that gave me a lift. And as far as the greater joy…

After I finished, I met up with my dad and we waited for my mom. Based on her training and performance in other races, I estimated she would finish around 1:05. It was so great to watch her come in and cheer for her!

1:04:54! She broke all of her expected goals, it was amazing! Talk about an amazing time for a 10k debut especially at age XX (I'll keep her secret)!

It was a great mother daughter day (and day with Dad too, who was an awesome navigator getting into the city and terrific spectator). I was very proud to watch my mom - she has only been running for just over a year.

We were proud to wear our medals and shirts. It was a great day all around. Lots of good family time, and memories that will last a long time. That was what the day was about.

And I will certainly seek revenge in Central Park at the 2012 NYC Marathon - watch out!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

In the Heat of the Moment...

...A game change may be necessary.
I set out on Tuesday to do a raceweek tune up track workout. Goal: 3 x 1600, under 7:00. It was 80 when I left the house, and so I was unsure how "well" the workout would go or how I would feel. I was already hot by the time I arrived at the track (2.5 mile warmup). Mile 1: 6:51. Then very slow recovery lap. Mile 2: 6:47, and man, I felt tuckered out afterwards. I was so hot and wiped, that it seemed like a 3rd one was not the smart thing to do, especially with an important race a few days away. No point in being a hero, only to end up a dummy on Saturday. So, instead of a final 1600, I opted for 4 x 400, aiming for sub 1:40, and that would give me my last "fast mile", just in a different form. 1:38, 1:36, 1:35, 1:34. Alright! That works for me! I shortened my cooldown to 1.5 miles and walked the last mile home. All in all, I think it was a smart change. Rather than burn out, a little tweak still allowed for a speed workout that assured a bit of a kick for Saturday's 10k.
Stay cool everyone - this heat is crazy! Sometimes an adjustment to the game plan is necessary - no point of suffering through it when you can come up with a cooler alternative. And definitely remember to "pre-game" - drink water before you go out running and carry water/gatorade with you.

Monday, June 6, 2011

I Belong Here

I work during the summer for a program for gifted children. I've done it for the past 5 years on the East Coast at one site, but I applied for a promotion this year. Which will be bring me to...
California! I am going to be the Academic Dean of our site. I am so excited about this. While I am nervous about the responsibility (overseeing an academic program of 240 students and 34 faculty), it is going to be a great opportunity. This past weekend, I was at our headquarters for a conference/meeting in preparation for the 7 week summer program. It was exciting to meet my staff, and see some colleagues of my past too.
The students who we work with are exceptional - they are in the highest percentage of their peers academically. But our program not only strives to stimulate intellectual growth (they take an intensive course), but social development as well. They live in a dorm, and there is a social component to the program too. For many, it is the one time a year where they get to be with others who are like them. It is a fun place, it is a smart place, it is a safe place. And so one of the phrases/slogans they say with our program is
I belong here.
That is what the kids say about our program, and to be honest, I think that is how a lot of faculty, myself included feel about it too. It is a good place, a fun place, a safe place, a place to get away for the summer. It is a unique place, and even though there are many sites all over the country, all share that same sentiment. And that is why I am looking forward to a new summer, my 6th summer, with this program.
I belong here.
That's how I feel with running too. It is that shared community, the sense of knowing and trust, and a promise of continual belonging that makes me want to keep doing it.
I had a good training week last week. I was a bit nervous about getting in some good workouts in, especially since I was traveling for the weekend, but I pushed my long run to Thursday, and made it work:
Monday: 2000 yard swim, 15.5 mile bike ride
Tuesday: 5.6 mile AM run, 4.4 mile PM run
Wednesday: 3.4 mile AM run, 2000 yard PM swim
Thursday: 11.1 mile AM run, 3 mile PM run, some weights
Friday: 15 minutes rowing (3000 meters), some weights
Saturday: 52 minute run (approx 6 miles)
Sunday: 46 minute run (approx 5.5 miles)
Total running mileage: 39 miles
It can be done - even when traveling! My mom and I are running the NY Mini 10k in Central Park this weekend - very excited! It is her first 10k, and her preparation has been great. Was so excited to read about all of the elite runners participating, including Magdalena Lewy Boulet and Deena Kastor - my big running hero! It is going to be a great weekend. In the meantime, there are a few more books to read, some runs to be done, and preparation for the summer!