Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Reindeer Run 5k: Vixen and Dasher

I came home to Rochester for Christmas Thursday night. 5 weeks into my higher mileage and happy to shift from the roads of DC to those of my hometown. Although instead of enjoying the bizarre warmth that DC was experiencing, it was a rainy weekend. But my dad and I were doing the Reindeer Run 5k - the largest 5k in Rochester, and ran on the inner loop (the freeway), which they closed part of it for the race. My mom was supposed to do it too, but she wasn't feeling well. Better to skip the rainy race, and so we had father/daughter time. Lots of old friends around too for the race. And this was all about having fun. I had a time goal of sub 21 minutes for 5k in mind, but it was more about having fun. They gave us reindeer antlers to run with, so 2,000 Rochesterians towed the line ready to take on the city on a rainy, reindeer day.
I was in a good mood. I had went out with my best friend and her sisters the night before (2 drinks, no worries), and was just happy to be home. But the start was so bottlenecked. Even though I was close to the front, it was just clogged with people really until for the first mile. I ran through mile 1 in 7:00. It felt slow, and I say that recognizing that that is fast for many. But, used to being able to come through a first mile at least 30-40 seconds faster, it felt slow. Ultimately, this became both a progression run, where I was just trying to speed up from there, and an obstacle course of trying to avoid the enormous puddles and getting soaked immediately. It was fun to run along the highway, donning reindeer antlers, and just enjoy the race. I felt comfortable picking things up, too. The way the course was shaped, there were a couple of times where you could see a section of other runners, so my dad actually saw me (and yelled out to me) twice while we were on different parts of the course. The finish was a bit confusing, as there was a clear mile 3 marker, but the way the course moved, you couldn't see the finish from there (there were a couple of turns before the end). So, finally meandering my way in, I came through the finish line in 20:18. 6:33 pace - not too shabby considering the pace of the first mile (and the 2 drins the night before) 5th woman, 2nd, in my age group, (out of 135) and 45/1667 overall. My dad ran 34:33 - not too shabby after getting over a cold! We were happy to go inside the Strong Museum of Play (sponsor of the race, and a museum we used to go to growing up) afterwards and warm up (even though we were soaking wet). This was my award - a trophy with a My Little Pony on it - one of the funniest awards I've ever seen. After a hot shower once we got home I had a bloody Mary and took a nap. Perfection.
Dasher (Dad) and Vixen (Vanessa)
Went back to the gym to run on the treadmill and get the day's total to 11 miles. Not too bad on the Saturday before Christmas.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Thanksgiving Tradition Continues and Grows: Race with Grace 10k 2013

Written the day after Thanksgiving...just got late in posting this
I have a very tiny memory of doing a Turkey Trot in 5th or 6th grade at my elementary school. I have no idea how far (my guess is a mile or so) it was or how well I did. That was about 1996 or 1997...and had no desire to trot again for well over a decade. In 2009, I did my first Race with Grace 10k, and a tradition began. My parents always came to watch me, and last year, my dad cheered both me and my mom on. This year, all 3 of us signed up - this would be my dad's longest race ever (he did a 5 mile race last spring). Last year, it was 40, sunny, pretty nice for Rochester in November.
This year, we had over 6 inches of snow on the ground already and it was 20 degrees with a windchill of 6. Chilly! At least the sun was out. It looked absolutely picturesque. We picked up my mom's running partner, Sue, who is absolutely hilarious, and had a full car of 10k runners. Pretty funny since 6 years ago it would’ve meant a morning of parade-watching and that was it. How things change.I
I had no huge goals for a few reasons:
My racing season is over
I’ve slowly started to up my mileage (50 miles per week). Last year, this was a failed experiment when I tried to consistently run 60-70 mpw for 2 months. This year, I am being more conservative.  So no point in taking out this race too hard. My best time on this course was last year in 40:22 – I didn’t foresee that being a reasonable goal.
It was so cold! This was not a day for PRs, no matter what. So, why not just go out and have fun, and celebrate my 5th consecutive time doing this.
Me and my parents before the race



Me and my mom after
I blew through the first mile way too fast in 6:20 – I was rather astounded that right now the legs could go that fast. A spectator said I was in 4th, and the next pink hat in front of me was way too far away from me. I was just happy with my position, happy to have a good pace going, and just happy to be out there. I ran through the first 5k in 20:05 – much faster than when I did the 10k a couple of weeks ago. At this part, I started to let up in terms of pace and totally okay with it. I was choosing to slow down, not because I was tired, but because I just preferred to maintain a comfortable pace – no need to be grueling. And while it was cold, I did have all black on and the sun was out.  I wasn’t freezing – the sun was glistening off of the snow banks that lined the sleepy town that was waking up. It was so quiet – there were few enough runners at this pace that it was just peaceful. I was in control, I was having fun, this was great. I finished in 41:30 – not a PR, not a season or course best, but just a good time. It turned out I was the 5th woman (was there a woman that that spectator did not see…or thought were men?), 2nd in my age group, good enough for a $10 gift certificate to a local restaurant, and 64/1068 overall. I did a short cool down to bring my day’s mileage to 8.4 miles, and headed back to the finish to watch my mom come in. I don’t often spectate, but it was fun to watch her and I was proud to see her finish in 57:02. Not a PR for her either, but still a solid time, and she still ran strong. We met up with her friend (who ran 54:xx), and then waited for my dad – it was like a Taylor relay of us coming in at staggered intervals. It hadn’t felt too cold until I realized how long I had been standing still after having finished – the gloves were back on, the jacket was zipped and hood up, but I was just frozen. We were happy to see my dad come in way ahead of his time goal of 1:15 – he ran 1:12:45 – pretty impressive for a late entry 10k debut! He had only really been training since late October for this race, and under cold conditions, did a great job. We milled around a little longer – a reunion with many people from my hometown, and then headed home, to get ready for the arrival of my brother and his girlfriend. We Taylors trotted well, and it was a fun way to kick off the Thanksgiving holiday – much to be thankful for.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Don't tread on me

I am a card-carrying anti-treadmillist. Anti-treadmillarian? Regardless, I'm not a fan. And this sums it up neatly for me:
Seriously, could time move slower? Needless to say, I don't jump at the opportunity to use one. This fall, I used one a few times to do speed work when I couldn't make it to the track, but at least the intervals made it go by a little faster. But just a long run on the treadmill? No thank you.
I had just finished gushing about my higher mileage, so excited to hit 57 miles for 2 consecutive 50+ mile weeks. And the snow that fell Sunday morning quickly turned to ice. And since I chose church over an early morning run, our little town in Northern Virginia looked like this:

Yep, Mr. Freeze got a hold of Vienna, VA and it was not pretty for the runner. Sure, cozy to look at while wearing sweatpants and sipping hot chocolate, but not an enticing one to spend a couple of hours in. I stepped outside, and within 3 steps, I realized that this was a no-go. I love running in the snow - I think it's a lot of fun. But ice? You can't beat the ice, and no one was out salting the roads. So, reluctantly I headed back in, and changed for the treadmill.
And since I forgot to mention, the schedule called for 14 miles. This was not going to be pretty. I hopped on, hit play on a podcast, and began to trudge on the treadmill at 7.7 mph. 10 minutes in, and this felt painful. Maybe I'll just do 3 miles...that's better than nothing. Then I hit 4 miles, then 5. 5 is good, you could just do that. More anguish about the idea of not completing the long run, mixed with dread of being on the treadmill for more than another hour. At one hour, I cranked it to 8 mph (7:30) pace. It wasn't until 10 miles in that I realized it was better to just hang on and finish this. My only saving grace were the podcasts keeping me company:
  • The Nerdist - a comedy podcast where they interview comedians and they are pretty hilarious
  • The Marathon Show - a weekly marathon talk show
I started to switch over from listening to music during runs about a month ago. Rather than hearing Katy Perry's "Roar" for the hundredth time, it's fun to hear something new and be in suspense as to what comes next. So, in addition to the two I listened to on Sunday, I also have to recommend:
  • Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me - NPR weekly news trivia show with Runner's World columnist Peter Sagal - I have been often known to laugh out loud during this...which I am sure looks strange
  • Marathon Talk - a weekly British marathon show with great interviews with elite athletes. Plus, British humor is always fun.
  • House of Run - 2 runners who ran in high school who shoot the breeze on hot running topics
  • Runner Academy with Matt Johnson - good tips and interviews with elite athletes.
  • Anything you want to add or recommend?
So, the Nerdist interview with Tina Fey carried me through the first hour, and then The Marathon Show got me through the rest. That e-card is right, time moves the slowest on the treadmill. I finally finished my 14 in 1:47, averaging 7:38 pace. That's the fastest long run I've ever done on a treadmill. A couple years ago, while getting ready for Boston 2011, I did 19 miles at 8:18 pace. I think if I had to stay on for 5 more miles, I may have gone crazy on Sunday, but I think I could've kept it to under 8 minute pace. I hope I won't have to do that for a while!
But I finished and laid on the floor in our apartment for a while - this knocked me out in a different way than a typical long run. There was a lot more mental exhaustion this time. But I got in my 14, and hit my 57 miles for the week, and now am rewarded with an easy week. We're getting a lot of snow/cold weather for the DC area, so it is possible that if the ice stays, there may be more treadmill runs. But hopefully none so long! 


Of course, this was the daily Runner's World quote of the day the following day by Emil Zatopke: If one can stick to the training throughout the many long years, then will power is no longer a problem. It's raining? That doesn't matter. I am tired? That's besides the point. It's simply that I just have to.

And that's why I couldn't get off the treadmill.


Friday, December 6, 2013

Lost in the miles

Last week, I ran 59 miles, this week I'm going to be running 57. This is the highest mileage I've run in a year. I am really loving my long runs. I've had a longest run of 14 each Sunday, and then a couple of other double digit runs scattered throughout the week. And they've given me just the tiniest bit of thirst for longer distance. I actually ran 15.5 miles - the longest I've ran in over 2 years. I finished it in just under 2 hours, so under 7:30 pace for over half a marathon. I'm not chomping at the bit yet - there isn't a marathon on the horizon. But I've just appreciated how much I've enjoyed that transformation that takes place when you do spend more than an hour on a run.
On pre-dawn runs, when it is pitch black, it is very quiet and still. I'll wake up at 5 (and I know some of you out there get up even earlier - but I have my limits) and there's a lot of hesitation. Did I really need to get up this early? How cold is it? How stiff am I? Oh good grief, just get out there and get moving. I've been carrying a small flashlight to light the way, and occasionally on the trail, I'm greeted by another beacon of light. When it's another runner, the light bobs up and down. When it's a cyclist, it is steady. And for those few seconds, it is the sign of another person out there getting in a workout before the start of a day. But then they would continue in the opposite direction donning neon clothing. Running by houses, I'll see some of the lights on - an early bird rising, but a lot of dark houses too. A bunny hops across the trail, a deer scampers quickly, clearly not expecting company. And it's just me and my thoughts, enjoying the quiet. Plus, as the holiday season is upon us, there are these fun surprises to stumble upon.
Merry Christmas in Vienna (Virginia)
But on the way back, after 8 or so miles, and it's still not even 7AM, the first hints of a sunrise emerge, the sky beginning to pink up. And in the course of that kind of run, you realize the transformation that takes place. We've moved from night to day, and the whole world is waking up. I went from doubtful to exhilarated. I had my first victory for the day, and was ready to fight the other battles of the day.
And there are other transformations too. On my long runs, I've been running on the W&OD trail, which moves from town to town: Vienna, Reston, Herndon, etc. That really shows the distance - traveling from place to place, not just running around a town, but legitimately changing towns. And just feeling comfortable being out there for 2 hours - that's a cool feeling, to know I can comfortably hang out there on the road and not be too trashed/exhausted after.
There are no speed workouts, so the pace of all of these runs are flexible. But other than being perhaps tired from a longer run, there is no soreness that I would feel that day after a track workout or tempo run. So, my legs are actually feeling pretty fresh.
There's no pressure. Yes, I'm following a schedule. But there are no races scheduled yet - I'll do one Reindeer Race, but nothing is even thought of for 2014. And so it is really more just for the fun of it right now. The miles are piling up (as are the desserts!) and I'm just enjoying running in its simplest state. And as Henry David Thoreau said, "Simplify, simplify, simplify!"

Sunday, November 24, 2013

No more turbo-flexing: Why Lauren Fleshman and Carrie Tollefson Rock

I've made it clear that I follow the elites and love to read about their training. I especially love reading their blogs or hearing them on interviews - it is just fascinating to get insights into those running at the highest level. In the past few years, there has been a new niche in the elite community: mommy runners. They still are trying to compete well, but now doing it after having children. And in the era of sharing everything on FaceBook, Twitter, they not only share what training they do, but the post-baby body! I loved Lauren Fleshman's column "Keeping it Real," where she, a 2-time National Champion in the 5k and now the mother of a 5 month old, showed her post-baby belly and legs. Carrie Tollefson, a 2004 1500m Olympian (who also was the newscaster for the Championship Race) has a podcast and recently posted a 5 minute ab video. And she raises a few good points:
1) Everyone has 5 minutes in their day - I could get off the computer for 5 minutes and do this
2) You don't have to be an Olympian to train like one - you don't need a fancy treadmill or machine to do the same drills that they do.
3) Just because you are a runner and are in shape doesn't mean that all of the core muscles are there. I know that I'm in shape and look fine, but still. It's something we need to work on intentionally. And that's the boat that I am in. Every year I swear up and down that this is the year that I work on core strength. And it happens for a week, and then goes caput. But hey, if I have extra incentive, I am getting married in less than 6 months (6 months!!) - let's get everything all toned and fabulous for the spring!
And I discovered after doing the workout that really, I have accumulated a series of strength workouts that I do, I can add in the core work too. I'll never have 6 pack abs, but the goal is to not have to do any "turbo-flex" when I run in the summer and totally rock a bikini with confidence.
In sum, game on.
Finally, thank you for all of the well wishes after the .US Road Racing Championships. It was such a great race, and gave me such a high. They finally released the finish pictures, so...
The abs may not be there yet, but the smile totally is.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A brush with the greatest: US Road Racing Championships

How often do we get to meet our role models? The people we look up to, who we follow regularly, whose hard work and commitment to excellence play an indirect, yet significant role in our lives.
Growing up, I was not an athlete and accordingly, did not have any role models who were athletes. I knew some of the big names like Michael Jordan and...were, but did not have real interest in sports. But once I got into running, I quickly became engulfed in the world of track and field and road racing. Now, I can rattle off the big races and top competitors, where they train, their backgrounds, etc. And reading about these Olympians and Olympic hopefuls and the 100+ mile weeks they put into training inspired me and motivated me to train hard too.
2008 Olympic Bronze Medalist Shalane Flannagan
I've known for weeks that on the 17th, Alexandria, VA, just a hop, skip, and a jump from my home in Vienna, planned to host the National Road Racing Championships - the culminating race in a year-long series among elite runners. The race (a 12k) was also open to the general population, and they had a 5k as well. I kept thinking about it, and in hearing all of the hype, it was hard not to get excited about it. But my race season had just ended and I was supposed to take it easy. But how often does this happen, when Molly Huddle, Shalane Flannagan, Chris Solinsky, Matt Tegenkamp, Abdi Abdirahman, are all in the same place, same race, and I could be a part of it? So, on a very last minute whim, I signed up for the 5k - just 2 days before the race. At packet pick-up, I saw Abdi Abdirahman in the lobby, but he was talking with someone else. I smiled, he smiled back, and that was all of my failed exchange with the 3 time Olympian. But after I grabbed my packet - it was very cool to see everything with the USATF logo, I headed over to Pacers Running Store, which was doing a meet and greet with some of the greats: Shalane, Chris, and Matt!

Matt Tegenkamp and Chris Solinsky
Prior to arriving, I only knew Shalane was going to be there, so this was a great surprise - a triple whammy of American excellence. I waited as patiently as possible to meet them, all of whom were very kind and took time to speak to each person and take pictures. I tried to just express my admiration for their accomplishments without looking like a blabbering fool. The cool thing was, I had chatted with Chris Solinsky at the Wharf to Wharf in California, and he remembered meeting me. Pretty cool. They all signed my bib with good mantras to keep in mind:
Dream big - Shalane Flannagan
Run fast, have fun - Matt Tegenkamp
Hard work pays off - Chris Solinsky
Anyways, I was a kid filled with all of the anticipation of Christmas before the race.
It was a beautiful morning in Alexandria, and the fog was just lifting as I did my warm up around the historic town. I was totally relaxed. This was a low pressure race - I was here to have fun and partake in this major running event. Now, I think many people were drawn to the 12k because they could run in the same race with the elite runners, so I think many of the more competitive runners did that. I looked around at the start of the 5k and didn't see the usual suspects.here). I yelled as I crossed the finish - I won!
Along the waterfront in Alexandria
It was my goal to go under 20 minutes - anything else was gravy. The siren blared, and we were off. A few women were ahead of men, including this little girl - a pipsqueak who held sub 6:20 pace for at least the first half mile. Impressive! Before the first mile mark, there was a sharp turn and a steep hill, and this was my chance to make a move - hills are my strength. I got myself to second place, and just before hitting mile 1, got in first. Mile 1 to 2 was entirely straight, so I couldn't see how close the other girls were behind me. I was feeling good with my pace - nothing out of control, but still fast. It was beautiful to run along the Potomac - Alexandria was so pretty and the streets were so fun to run on.What was cool was as I made my way through the street, people would clap and say first woman. That doesn't happen often! There was no indication that the next woman was right behind me, but this wasn't verified until after mile 2, when I could sneak a peak at a turn and check. As my first cross-country coach in middle school said when you run on hills or turns "Run like a thief" - make a quick break, and then by the time the person behind you sees you again, it can be psychologically demoralizing. And so I did! I finally got onto the last stretch and could see the finish line in the distance - there was even a big banner held up (and you can watch the finish
Me and my friend Maggie
19:45 - I got my sub 20 and then some.
Winning!
I did my cooldown beaming, and watched the elites finish. They looked so fabulous - these are strong men and women. I congratulated Sara Hall on her 6th place finish, and she asked me how I did in my race. When I said I won, her and a couple of the Boulder team runners said congratulations. What?! How was I in the same space as these people? I saw a friend of mine who I met when we both volunteered at Pacers races - she did the 12k and ran 47:39!
Bib, finisher medal, champion medal
Another friendship brought to you by running. Then they had an award ceremony. Right before they started, I spotted Deena Kastor - I knew she was in town doing some of the coverage, but suddenly my biggest running hero and role model was just a few yards away. I have always wanted to meet her - her bronze medal, American record, and other tenacious races just make her amazing. I have blogged about her a lot - above all other runners, she has given me the most inspiration and drive. They called my name to come up, and there she is, clapping for me and saying "Go Vanessa." Seriously? I was just beaming. By the way, that little girl was 9 and ended up in 3rd place - she was speedy! They gave my medal and then I stepped down and got a chance to talk to Deena.
Thrilled to meet my hero, Deena Kastor
I was beside myself - she congratulated me, and then I talked about how much I looked up to her and was so impressed with her recent 9th place finish at the IAAF World Championships Marathon in Moscow at age 40. It was a dream come true - I got to meet my hero, and not just standing in line for an autograph, but because I won my own race.
Heroes are there to inspire, and I certainly got a big dose of inspiration this weekend meeting some of America's best runners.
Good mantras to keep in mind

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A slice of humble pie: Veteran's Day 10k 2013

            The Army Ten Miler was my big race of Fall 2013, and the PR of 1:05:41 was well celebrated. That was three weeks ago, and after recovering the first week (I was stiff and sore for 4 days after – nearly as painful as post marathon soreness), it was back to work. I did a few more track workouts, a couple more tempo runs, and a couple of solid long runs. I felt great, and was ready to go after it in one final formal race for the year – the Veteran’s Day 10k. I ran 41:27 there in 2011 and 39:50 in 2012 – this is a good race for big PRs. The build up looked good – I had a nice day on Saturday with a little shower thrown by my DC bridesmaid. And just relaxed at home Saturday night – was able to get a good night’s sleep.
            It was a beautiful morning for our race at West Potomac Park. The sun was just bursting across the National Mall, illuminating the backdrop for one of DC’s premier races. And it is definitely a premier one – our British Olympian Clare Hallisey was there, as were many of the DC racing teams – these are people who have qualified for the Olympic Trials.  It was fairly cold outside with some wind, but still very sunny. I lined up at the start and hoped for the best.
            And we were off! Brr, I couldn’t feel my hands! They would’ve been sweatballs with gloves, but it was taking a while to warm up. The pace felt so fast – I came through the first mile in 6:21 (which was my goal pace), and it felt like an all out sprint. It was one thing to feel like I was working hard, but this did not feel like that. I’ve had days where the road rose to meet me, or days where I just had to hunker down, but this was option C. I was just trying to hold on, and as I passed through mile 2, it became more evident that it was not my day. But I just tried to keep going – it’s not as if I was going to stop. I still had a glimmer of hope that I could reel it back in and negative split. But I went through the 5k in about 20:20, and with that I saw my changes of sub 40 slipping away. That’s not an easy feeling, but the race was still going, and I was just doing my best to be steady and not let too many people pass me. You couldn’t ask for a more stunning landscape to run along – monuments rushing by left and right and the Potomac just glistened in the autumn rays. I just focused on that and willed the mile markers to show up.  With about half a mile to go, I felt another woman come up alongside me, and I recognized her. She lives in VA too and places well in her age group – 50-54. We nearly were running side by side – I was only half a yard in front of her. And I just didn’t want to get beaten by someone over two decades older than me, so my final focus was just on that.

And hey, I respect my elders – Joan Benoit Samuelson and Colleen de Reuck can kick my butt everyday, but this was my last thing to get me to the finish line – all the other goals were gone.
            41:06
I actually moved up in place compared to last year. And while I actually ran this race at a pace (6:37) slower than my 10 mile race pace (6:34), it was nice to see advanced in the standings. Of course, I was a little hard on myself for a bit. This was not at all what I had expected.
            I did my cooldown around the Tidal Basin, and the sun was fully risen – absolutely breakthtaking. And this is my city – I get to do these kind of races any time – what a privilege. I was happy to also see an old running friend of mine who had been in Arizona for Army training – now she’s back! And friendship is more important than a PR. I made my way to my car to head on home.
            As I was driving back, I got a healthy dose of perspective. I have perhaps become entitled to good races – I have come to expect consistently good races. That’s why I love training: hard work + consistency = success on race day. But that’s not an absolute. I thought about the New York City Marathon – Meb Keflezkhi ran a sub-optimal time but still finished the race. At the Dash to the Finish 5k, Shalane Flannagan, a bronze medalist, came in third, in admittedly, not her best race. Kara Goucher pulled out of NYC because of an injury – yet she was come in 3rd in Boston and New York a few years ago. We don’t get good days all of the time, and even those at the highest level of training don’t always get the banner race days that they have worked their careers for. Why would I expect the same thing?

I have all of my limbs. I am healthy enough to complete a 10k race and the synergy all of my bodily systems allow me to compete at a high level. I have a loving family and wonderful friends, and in six months am marrying the love of my life. An off day at the races is not that big of a deal. It was a beautiful day to be a part of a great race.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

5 years later: Thank you, Charlie

An open letter to my friend, Charlie who may not have known it at the time, but changed my life on October 27, 2008

Dear Charlie,
We became running partners in September 2008. You, my boss's wife, befriended me and on Saturday mornings we would drive to the National Mall to run about 5 miles. You taught me how to wake up at the crack on dawn on Saturdays for our runs. I had just moved to DC and was in need of a friend. On our runs we talked about everything from grad school, to religion, to pop culture, DC, anything. We even talked about the preposterous idea of running the marathon, even when we were only running 4 or 5 miles. And on those runs we conquered the day and emerged as the sun rose victorious. I wasn't a regular runner then, but in that month I started to turn into one.
And on October 27, 2008, I returned to DC from a weekend away and to an e-mail from you in my in-box. While I still don't have that e-mail anymore, I know what it said. You said that we had been running long enough and that we should give the marathon a shot. The National Marathon was just under 5 months away, and that we should do it.
Running 13 miles the day before the first Obama Inauguration
And then we said yes to that preposterous idea of the marathon. The next weekend, we ran 6 miles through Rock Creek Park, the beginning our marathon journey. The winter became colder and the runs became longer, moving eventually in the double digits. And our friendship blossomed in the wintry weather of DC. We ran our first race together, the Jingle All the Way 10k, in 55:04, and the desire to race more continued.
You had some injuries, so you switched to the half marathon and I stayed with the marathon. We didn't run as much together, but we met on that fateful morning to run the National Marathon/Half Marathon. It was one of the best days of my life, and it changed my life forever.
All smiles at mile 17 at my first marathon
I became a marathoner and a regular runner, and it was because you took that impossible dream and made it possible. You convinced me that the marathon was doable and now I cannot imagine my life without running. It has introduced me to hundreds of people, brought me to the greatest marathon of the world - Boston, showed me that I was competitive and had the potential for more. It was one of the most meaningful things that someone has ever done me.
And then you moved away in 2010 and we fell out of touch, which happens. I miss you a lot and I just want you to know that you made a permanent, meaningful impact on my life - that is what your friendship has done.
Five years later, I'm still smiling and still very grateful. Thank you for that e-mail, for the suggestion to reach for the impossible dream and show that it was a reality.
Your friend,
Vanessa

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Army Strong Remix: Army Ten Miler 2013

Fun at the Expo
Before the race
2012 was the first time I ran the Army Ten Miler. I absolutely loved it. I ran 1:06:10, then a PR in the 10 mile, and it felt like everything came together perfectly. In the spring, I went on to better that to 1:05:52 at Cherry Blossom, while that was more of a hunker down and scrap my way to the finish PR. But my mom, who became a runner in 2010 and completed her first half marathon last year, had heard me talk enough about the Army Ten Miler (ATM) that we both signed up for it this year. She trained at home in Rochester, and I trained here in DC (oh yeah, and that seven week stint in California). We have done a couple of races together, but never one of this scale. In 2011, we ran the NY Mini, which had about 5,000 people - this had over five times that!
My parents arrived late Friday night and we went to the expo together on Saturday at the DC Armory, which hosts many of the large scale DC race expos. Even though I had just went home the weekend before, it was great to hang out with my parents.
We didn't have dinner together though, as P and I were invited to a birthday boat party. No drinking for me (and the birthday boy was a runner too, so he understood), and Pat was willing to make sure I got home in time for my "curfew." 
I couldn't decide if I felt ready or not. I had a really solid training stint since July - workouts went really well, and I didn't go too crazy and overdo things. My races leading up to the ATM were also solid - coach Sarah said I was ready to hit another PR. But a week before the race, I got some sort of stomach bug that turned what was supposed to be a 13/12 weekend turned into 13/0, followed by another goose egg and an easy run instead of my final track workout. I just felt awful and tired. If I had come across this in another blog, I would've commented and said "don't worry, it is just a few off days, you'll be fine for your race." But in my own head, I was freaking out and watching my race plan go down the toilet (which to be honest where everything else was going). But it was just a few days, it couldn't derail it all, right?
We met up the next morning and metro-ed to the Pentagon. My mom was super excited - this was a super big race for her, and I was excited for her too. My dad came along too, as sherpa and holding all of our stuff. It was a cold (about 40 degrees) but clear morning, with some wind. After we each got settled, I kissed my parents goodbye (my mom and I were in different corrals), and headed to the security line. Now, I am absolutely grateful for the thoroughness of that, but it definitely took more time than expected. So, my usual 2.5 mile warm up ended up being reduced to about .25 mile. I did some lunges, squats, and leg swings in my corral and hoped that that would loosen me up enough. A lot of negative thoughts raced through my head in the moments leading up to the race.
And with the boom of the cannon, we were off. I was back further back than last year, and went through the first mile in 6:55. Okay, this was going to be a few miles of warming up, and then I thought maybe I could hone in on the goal pace. I still needed to get rid of that last big of negative chatter. By mile 3, I was starting to feel better and hit goal pace. We ran next to the Kennedy Center at mile 4, and I passed my nemesis/DC running rival (come on, we all have one, right) with confidence and was starting to come alive.
I came through mile 5, the halfway point at 32:39. It was at this point that I remembered how good I felt last year at mile 5, and to be honest, I was starting to wake up and feel good. I was locking into my goal pace, starting to hit my splits on time, and believe again that the goal was possible. It was a beautiful day, and wonderful to be running along the Potomac. When we came onto the National Mall (which was thankfully open - I was so happy that the course didn't change because of the shutdown!), there was a huge surge in how many people were out there. So many people were cheering and that gave me a big boost. I was thinking about my mom and wondering how her race was going. She had come to my DC races - the National Marathon and Marine Corps Marathon - before as a spectator, but now she was competing in a huge DC race herself. I hit the 10k mark in 40:43 and was feeling like I could nail this for the final 3.8 miles. We got on the highway just before mile 8, the final stretch of the race. When I hit 8.5, a workout from early this month trickled back into my head - the crazy continuous 1.5 mile workout, where you do 1.5 miles on the track, changing the pace every 800 meters, and do the 1.5 2 times (for me it was 6:10 and 6:20 per mile pace). The goal is to get used to changing paces during the later stages of the races, and it was coming into play here. I had 1.5 to go and I just needed to lock it in. There was a woman who I had "let go" around mile 3 - I finally had the energy and kick to reel her in and pass with confidence. There's no reason to worry about passing people until the second half of the race, when it becomes evident who has gone out too fast. The memories of that workout were pulling me through, and I got to mile 9. Knowing I would see P and my dad soon was pushing me through. I kept looking at my watch and I knew I was close but didn't have a lot of room for error. I saw P first, so close I could've reached out and touched him, and that was a boost.
Almost there!
It was a while before the finish line came in sight (I don't know what's worse - seeing it dangle in front of you like a mirage for a while or wondering when is it ever going to show up), but finally the balloon arch surfaced, as did my dad. It was my last bit of energy to push to the finish line. I don't think there was a Bangle Pump - but there was inside when I saw the time:
1:05:41 (6:34 pace)
36/11,994 (women)
562/26,025 (overall)
11/2001 (AG) 
I was able to hone in and make it count on the big day, even when it felt like my goal was out the window. It was an eleven second PR and this was the highest I've ever finished in a super competitive race. That being said, Kerri Gallagher, the winner (and 5th place in the 1500m USATF Championship this summer) ran it in 54:56, so that's still a big gap between 1st and 36th place. Also, Olympian Julie Culley (5k) recently moved back to the DC area, and she came in third (she's training for the New York City Marathon) - pretty high caliber competitors! And this is a race without any prize money!
And then I doubled back, caught up with P and my dad and waited for my watch to come in. Because my fiance is super tall, he was able to see my mom making her way to the finish. And she did awesome! 1:35:35...and she (without revealing too much) is in the AARP club! She did so much training this fall, and it all came together on race day.
Victorious!
The rest of the day was spent swapping race stories. After all, we ran the same course and saw some of the same sights, but experienced it so differently. And we all met up to have a celebratory dinner - yum! And there was a lot to celebrate. My mom and I each had victories in our own races, we each ran army strong and got to be cheered in by our loved ones. And that deserves a big HOOAH!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Fun to Race: Navy Federal 5k 2013

It is fun to race. I like all of it: the music blasting beforehand to get people psyched, seeing the excitement of people getting ready to run their first race, the camaraderie of all of us warm up, seeing the decorated start line, all of it. And really, there are two kinds of road races. First, there are the big, mega races with thousands (and sometimes tens of thousands) of people, with numerous corrals, wave starts, an expo, big names with big times and fancy warm up clothes, where the big goal is to hit a particular time. And setting that PR on a big race day has become very meaningful and gives On the flip side, there are the local races: those run on neighborhood streets, with less than a thousand people, and in my case a chance to place.
Running has taught me that I am a competitive person. I like to do better and improve, but I also learned that there is something about lining up at the start and trying to get a top finish. I have won 2 races in my life, and placed well in a few others and it has provided a different kind of thrill too.
Last Sunday, while I was on my long run, I saw a banner for the Navy Federal 5k, practically in my backyard. It was literally 2.5 miles from my house, and I did want to sign up for one more race before the Army Ten Miler (in 2 weeks). Why not? I was about to start a new running cycle on Monday, so it fit well - a chance to work on my speed and double as a good race. So, I was pretty psyched about the race. And I'll also admit that I had looked up race results from previous years and it looked like my odds were good for doing well in it. Last week, I came in 8th in the Clarendon Day 5k in a new PR of 19:10, but an Olympian was first. Maybe this time I could move up a few places. My goal was sub 20 - it was after a PR race and a week of solid training.
I had a nightmare last night that I was late for the race - couldn't have been more relieved to wake up! I warmed up from my house and got to the start with plenty of time. I know I'm not the only one to do this, but I sized up some of the other women. One in particular stood out - about six feet tall and legs for days. She had that fast look and seemed like not one to mess around with. I got in the second row, right behind her, hoped for the best, and we were off. I would say at least 8 women rushed ahead of me, and that was fine. I was not going to blow up in the first mile pushing unnecessarily hard. It was already 72 degrees at 9AM and it felt hot. I passed all but tall girl and a pair of girls running together. I could see them from a distance, and it seemed reasonable to pass them. Right after we turned onto a side street at mile 1, I passed them and didn't look back. I felt pretty comfortable in my position, and I was just looking to pass some guys. We were running through neighborhoods, and families in their front lawns were cheering for us. I could not even see tall girl, so this was now a race against the clock and against the field. With half a mile to go, I really started to pick it up - and there were a lot of people out and I felt like I started to have momentum. We had to whip around a few corners and go through the Navy Federal campus park. I did a couple of my runs there this week, so this was familiar territory.
I was moving and moving and then the finish line came into sight - and the clock was ticking.
It was up for grabs as I crossed the line, but the results page confirmed it:
19:59 (6:26 per mile)
2nd woman out of 393
13th overall out of 695
I was very pleased with how it went. Afterwards, the two girls from mile 1 came up to me and we started chatting. Half an hour later (and they still hadn't started the award ceremony), we realized how much we had in common beyond running - hooray for new friends! Then it was time for the awards ceremony. I knew I had earned second place, but the presentation was pretty sweet:
Check out the giant check! I got $50 for second place, plus the trophy, and the big check. I was going to run home, but suddenly all of this swag seemed a bit cumbersome - could you imagine me running through the streets with the check and trophy? I was fortunate that my two new friends offered me a ride home, which I graciously accepted. I then did my cooldown (which did not feel cool - this was turning into a hot day) and called it a morning. And what a great one/run! It was just a lot of fun and a great way to settle into my new town of Vienna.
...Vienna waits for you (you knew that was coming)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Hurtling 5k: Clarendon Day 5k

The Clarendon 5k/10k has been going since 2009, and I've run one of either events since its second year, 2010
2010: Ran the 10k in 45:51, a then PR
2011: Ran the 5k in 20:23, a then PR
2012: Ran the 5k in 19:21 - a PR that has stuck with me since then
Kind of fun to go back and look at my history with this race. It is a really fun event (they have an after party with drinks) and it is part of the Clarendon Day Festival, so lots of people were out and about. And my 5k PR has been getting rusty - the other ones have fallen in the past year, and it was about time (pun intended) that this one got an upgrade!
Last Tuesday, I did a workout of 20x400m, all between 6:10-6:40 pace, and I was hoping that surviving that and still standing would bode well for the race. After all, 6:10 seemed doable in the relentless workout (you run 100m recovery in between each and never stop), hopefully the PR was looking good.
I actually got a good night's sleep - about 7 hours and woke up feeling really good. It was about 55 and the sun was coming out. I did my warm up on part of the course, which is always a good way to refresh and remember the major points of the course. This course has a net downhill, which previously has meant I've thrown myself down the hill as fast as possible, only to blow up later on. Last year, the blow up felt like the biggest wall ever in a short race, and I didn't want to repeat that. So, even though the first mile is the fastest (steepest downhill), I wasn't going to take it all out this time. I even bumped into a friend of mine, Brian, who does a lot of the same DC races as me. We met in 2009 and have some affinity for finding each other in 1,000+ person races, like today. It was nice to say hi and catch up briefly. I then lined up, behind the local racing team and behind Claire Hallisey our resident Olympian (GB Marathoner) - no chance of winning today!
And we were off, and I let people swarm around me. I was determined not to set a mile PR in a 5k race - it was goal to go through the first mile in just over 6 minutes, figuring that that was fast, but not blow up and face the consequences fast. I had never felt so in control in a 5k - I knew I could pick it up, but opted to just hold steady, and went through the first mile in 6:05. I saw that there were a ton of girls in front of me, but it wasn't the time yet to get wrapped up in passing. Things started to level out by mile 2 and I felt like I was in control and able to start moving and work on passing girls - hit mile 2 in 12:10 (still 6:05). I was really happy to see my friend Brian at the turnaround, and the little wave was just a nice boost.
I'm always amazed how in racing, everything else shuts off. There is no other time when I can be so focused - no thoughts other than about this moment, this race, were able to get into my head. No thoughts of the dissertation or grading or anything else came up - just go! I simultaneously feel tired and had slowed down slightly, but was still moving forward and felt like I had good momentum. I passed a couple of girls. Almost passed a Georgetown Racing Club girl, but once I crept beside her, she bolted.  I vaguely remembered where the race finished - I knew it turned off into a side street, but didn't see the 3 mile mark, something I remember happening last year. And again, did not see the mile marker, but then the finish line appeared - so close and I was just trying to hurtle myself there.
19:10!
8th woman
46/1241 overall

This was a big PR, and a long-awaited one. I know that it has a net downhill, and by many, that means it doesn't technically count as a PR. But I've seen my 10k and 10 mile PRs fall this year - it was about time that the 5k happened too. There were only 6 women who finished between me and an Olympian - pretty cool. I'll need to get out there and test the wheels out again in the future. Hopefully, this means that sub 19 (dare I say it) could happen in the next year or so. It took a long time for earn these 11 seconds - I am very aware of that. But another 11 seconds would mean...18:59. Why not dream big?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A marathon of a weekend and a request

Ever since I did my first marathon in 2009, I became more sensitive to the word marathon - my ears would perk up when someone would talk about a marathon. At the same time, I realized how much the term gets thrown around "It's a marathon, not a sprint," (used typically to describe any long project) "Friends marathon coming up next," "this is a marathon event,"" etc - but things not generally referring to the 26.2 event itself. Even last week, I picked up my bib for the Navy 5 Miler, and the security guard said, "Oh, are you here for the marathon?" (I then told him that it was not a marathon) "Well, it's a marathon to me!" he replied. Perhaps in spirit, but not the standard 26.2 Well, I had a marathon of a weekend, and it's not too far from the truth. My Saturday workouts are speedwork on the road (paved trails): either some sort of tempo run or farleks - something generally between 10-12 miles. They are probably my most productive workout of the week - definitely the one I think about the most. Now that the weather has mercifully cooled down, I've been putting off those weekend runs until later in the day. I'd rather do some work in the morning and then get out there later in the day. Of course, as soon as I got out on Saturday and got my warm-up done, the sky opened up and it started to pour. But to be honest, as long as I'm dressed fine, the rain doesn't bother me. Sometimes, it feels like it pushes me to run faster, and that was the case on Saturday. This was the workout:
2.5 mile warm-up. 3 miles x 2 miles x 2x 1 mile on the trails.  Aim to use the first 3 miles as warm-up, aim for 7 minute pace.  ½ mile jog;  Aim to hit about 6:50 pace for the 2 mile.  ½ mile jog.  For the first mile, aim for 6:40; ½ mile jog; aim for 6:30 on the second. 2.5 mile cool-down.  Total: 13.5 miles
I did a pretty good job with this one: slightly below 7 minute pace for the first 3, 6:50 for the 2, 6:39, and then I "blew up" and ran 6:49 for the last mile. And I had put everything I had into trying to fly in for that last one, but this is definitely a workout of cumulative effort. Even a few fast seconds early on can quickly catch up to you. The rain just kept coming down, and I could feel the water build up in my shoes and squish along the way. Just me and a few cyclists trying to get home. At the end of it all, I stumbled back into the house, drenched, wiped, and exhilerated. It was hard, but it went well. My legs felt beat up, but I had my celebratory glass of wine (which is how like to cap off speed days) and called it a night.
It was a monster week of training, and there was still one more run left: the Sunday long run. These tend to be 10-13 miles, with no concern of pace the day after a workout. Of course, this was a weekend when it was the longer end: 13 miles. And my quads felt it every step of the way. I don't think mentally I've ever had to work so much to get through a 13 mile training run. It wasn't really just the soreness that got to me, just the overwhelming tired feeling. And I couldn't have been checking my watch more - were the miles really adding up so slowly? But then I did some simple arithmetic: 13.5 + 13 = 26.5. I was running the equivalent of a marathon in 24 hours. No wonder my legs were hurting...it was mile 7 on Sunday...not unlike the mile 20 feeling of a marathon. And I fully realize that this is not a marathon - it was not done consecutively, mile by mile in a single day. But at the end of the long run, the second 13 (and yes, I threw the .1 in too), done in 1:48, my legs stumbled up the stairs and I was done. Had a big bowl of gluten-free pasta and called it a day. It was a marathon of a weekend and my little leggies were sore sore sore. Not quite waddling like a pregnant woman (which I did after my first marathon), but more sore than usual. So much running! But it all was a success and the more you can get used to running on tired legs, the better.
And speaking of marathons: a request:
My future brother-in-law Jack is running the NYC Marathon in 6 weeks to support a great cause, academic support and career development for first-generation college students. For more information on his organization, check out his infographic here: http://www.imagebam.com/image/916722275232572
It would mean a lot to me if you could also support the cause by donating even a small amount on his team's page here: http://www.crowdrise.com/NewYorkNeedsYouNYC2013/fundraiser/teamNYNY
Thanks!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Rust Busted at Navy 5 Miler 2013

Early on in the race

Pre-Sunrise Washington Monument
Today was my rust-buster race for the fall season: the Navy 5 Miler. It is also held in conjunction with a half marathon, and so there were a few thousand people out on the National Mall this morning for the race. The hot weather dissipated for the day, and it was a lovely 57 degrees at the start. I didn't sleep well last night, but I didn't care, I was going to have a good race. run, run, run - other than trying to go forward, everything else was blocked out. I was happy when the 4 mile sign came up - I could hang on for one more mile. I had already realized that my A-goal of sub-32 was out the window, and I was just hoping to better my time from my last year. And then, the urge to look behind hit me and boom, this girl just sprinted by me. And that's not on me - she clearly had a few more gears than I did - I watched her sail away. But I was just doing my best to dig in and hang on through the finish.
Less than a mile to go
Last year, I ran 32:32 and came in third - it was my hope to better that this year. I did my warm up and was ready to go. And with the clang of the Navy bell, we were off! I went through the first mile in 6:14 - way too fast! I was in third briefly, but then one of the girls from one of the local racing teams blew by me. So quickly she was over 50 yards ahead, so I worked to just protect fourth. It felt fast, and I held that up until mile 2. At that point, I could feel a bit of a side stitch coming on, and rather than fight it, I eased up a little. It didn't feel comfortable, for sure. Some races everything just flows...this wasn't one of them. But the weather was perfect, and the flat course made it easy to just motor through. There was a Navy guy running about 2 steps in front of me, so I just tried to lock in behind him and go. There weren't a lot of people around (it was so quiet - no spectators on Haines point, and with not a ton of runners, you didn't even hear footsteps). All of my thoughts were gone (nothing about the dissertation even) - it was just
32:14 (6:27 pace)
5th woman
33/1358 overall
1st in age group! So check out the bling! This was the medal for the age group win, and the finisher coin went to everyone (that is a tradition in the military to give out coins for special achievements).
Finisher coin
 It wasn't the race I had hoped for - the A goal wasn't there. But I did better than last year - I knocked 18 seconds off from last year. I may have "lost" 2 places, but the women who beat me are also on racing teams. So, I'm taking this as a victory. We don't always get A+ races, and this was still very good. I am excited that the racing season is off and running and looking forward to working towards that A+!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Need to remember both the starting line and the finish

The new academic year is off and running, as is my fall training cycle. There are not a lot of noteworthy things to write about, no major mile stones, and it got me to thinking about the past year.
I remember what last September felt like. I didn't know exactly what my dissertation proposal was going to be. I didn't even feel as if I had a future in academia - I was just plagued with a lot of doubts. The running was going okay - I was re-acclimating back to the heat after Santa Cruz, and it took time to get my groove back. I was looking at the starting line of a long race, with no finish line in sight. There was just a glimmer of hope.
The attitude for the year was: keep my head down and just do my work. It wasn't always pretty and it wasn't always glamorous. It meant a lot of quiet hours, often alone, with some books, my laptop, and a barrage of thoughts. When people asked how it (meaning the dissertation) was going, my response was always fine and I put on my best poker face to hopefully hide the mounds of fear beneath the surface.
By January, there was measurable progress and I started to feel a sense of momentum. Things were picking up and I started to feel more confident reporting my progress to inquisitive friends (certainly without a lump in my throat!).
May was the finish line - my proposal passed for my dissertation - the department and university said yes, this is a feasible project and we support it. It was glorious. And the fact that I engaged 2 days later made it all the sweeter.
4 months have passed since that sweet victory. And I feel some of those feelings surfacing again. I'm now in dissertation land and it is me, the laptop, and a blinking cursor as I'm trying to essentially write a book. Some of the crippling fears are back. I have an end goal in mind: defending in Spring 2016 (a month shy of my 30th birthday). Will it happen? The committee says that it is a reasonable goal and now that I've decided on it, I needed to have that single-minded focus again. And I need to remember both the start and the finish. There were some very tough and trying parts last year, but the end result was so sweet. We all go through the valleys...it is the promise of the peak that keeps us going.
I've been having some pretty good runs - about A- I would say. A couple runs have been cut short, but more for time constraints. It is definitely better to go into races slightly undertrained than overtrained. I did a 5 mile tempo run on Saturday and averaged 6:45 pace. The weather was unseasonably cool - just 60 degrees at 7:30AM, and it felt like a race morning. There were over 50 Team in Training runners out there on the W&OD trail - amazing! I also did a track workout on the treadmill today: 11 miles with 5x1k (4:01, 3:57, 3:54, 3:52, 3:49), 4x400 (91, 90, 89, 88) - phew! It was so hot outside that I could not stand the thought of doing the workout outside. So, I did the warm up and cool down outside (sweating all the way), and then hopped on the treadmill. I have actually done that a couple of times now, and while I'm not a fan of the treadmill, there are a bunch of positives for doing speedwork on it. It regulates the time, so I know I'm not going to go out too fast and risk blowing up. It keeps the past honest and and even, and while it's as dull as watching paint dry, it definitely is a good thing.
There is a finish line, there is a medal awaiting. I'll just need to remind myself of that every step of the way.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tempos heating up as it heats up

Beyond mile repeats, beyond long slow distance (you know, the other kind of LSD), beyond any track workout, the run each week that both bolsters my confidence and speed is the tempo run. Also known as the progression run, it is part of a longer run where you pick up the pace as the run progresses. So, rather than going out too fast and burning out/hitting the wall, you pick things up when you are theoretically running on tired legs. For me, they tend to range between 3-7 miles, and they are always slower than goal race pace. I think it is the best way to simulate race conditions, and now that I've learned how to do them (mostly - I'm no master - I still start too fast sometimes), I absolutely swear by them.
These were fantastic to do in California on Saturday mornings. I wasn't in charge of the kids, it would be about 55-60 degrees, cloudy, and I could just go out and knock these out. Now that I'm back in DC, there are other things to do, and it's hotter. I've actually taken to now doing a lot of my runs in the evening when I get home (generally after 6), so things are cooling down, rather than heating up. Plus, I've found that my legs are lot looser from moving around throughout the day, rather than just from the few steps to the coffeepot and to go outside. All these benefits, plus, I can accomplish a lot during the day, and the run is an end of day treat.
Anyways, Saturday was an 11 mile run, with 6 miles of tempo. THe goal was to start at 7:30 pace and either hold it (depending on the weather), or try to cut down. I knew it was a hot day, and all I wanted to do was stay inside...but I was not going to can this run. It was my monster week of cycle 2 training (46 miles) and I was determined to get all of these runs in. The warm up wasn't too bad - I wasn't pouring buckets yet, which was a good sign. I lined up at my starting spot on the W&OD trail and hoped for the best. I was 3 weeks out from my rust-buster, and wanted this to be a strong workout. Bang! The invisible gun goes off, and I go through the first mile in 7:03. Whoa nelly, slow down. It is hot and you have 5 miles to go. But I was feeling good, and then another 7minute mile came. Then another. So, it was the turnaround point, and I told myself the goal was to not blow up. Last Saturday, I had sought to do a 40 minute tempo run, and only got through 20 minutes. Didn't want to bonk and scrap the workout again. But this time, I was feeling more confident. I was definitely more hydrated - I had drank lots of water throughout the day, filling up the tank, as it were, rather than just the morning cup of coffee after a night of sleep (which is when you get dehydrated). There were some hills on the way back, but I kept hunkering down. I was thinking of Deena Kastor and her recent 9th place finish at the World Championship in Moscow, running the marathon in 2:36 at age 40 when the heat was I'm the 90s. Surely I could maintain seven minute pace for just 6 mile. My finish line (a wooden post) was in sight, and I came through the last mile in 6:50. It was the best hot tempo run I had ever done. I walked around for a couple minutes, just catching my breath and calming down, then did my 2.5 mile cooldown.
The finish line of my high mileage week was in sight. All that remained was a half marathon long run and that would bring me up to 46 miles. Again, procrastination kicked in and window washing, vacuuming, church, and much more all happened before my long run. So again, I put off the run until the evening. I was excited because I just got an iPhone and was looking forward to trying one of the running apps. I downloaded run keeper and set off. I haven't been in our new apartment for that long and mainly had been keeping on the W&OD trail. This time, I was going to add some variation and visit some of the neighborhoods in the area. The only problem with running at dinnertime is that people are out grilling and it all smelled so good! I was pleased with my pace - just under 8 minutes, and was appreciating that there was low pressure. I didn't have anything to get back to, no school assignments or work meetings awaiting - this wasn't going to be crammed in. And I kept knocking off sub 8s without feeling I was expending too much. At the end of it all, it was a beautiful run and fast too 1:40:58 for 13.15 miles - probably the fastest 13 I had ever done in a training run. Stumbling back into the house, I made gluten-free spaghetti and sausage for dinner (you can carbo load after, right?) and put my legs up in sweet victory.
I'm in a recovery week now, and given that it is the first week of school (teaching 1 class and working on my dissertation), I could definitely use the free time!