"It's a little self indulgent..." - My mom
"After I read a sentence, I get mad at myself for caring what you're doing." -Karl Dusen

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A sudden drop in mileage

After Sunday's accidental overdistance, I was going to be running much less- just six miles after work. I tried running with the Lululemon running club in Logan Circle. It was alright- we had to deal with traffic lights heading down to the Mall, so that was a pain. There were also two fellows who insisted on racing each other every block, but stopping at the intersections regardless of whether they had the right of way from the light, on the way back. I surged once and got ahead of them with ease and I think that cooled them down a little bit. My legs were a little sore, expecially my right upper quad, so hopefully the easy six was light enough to get them ready for two workouts this week- 3x2 mile Tuesday and 16x400 Thursday.

In other news, Matt Llano ran 28:51 at Stanford last Friday:

Favorite Runs Outside of Pittsburgh #3

Hickory Hill
I moved back to Richmond after graduating in 2004 expressly to live with Jon Lauder and Tim Caramore and train like beasts. I got a job in November and moved after Thanksgiving, which coincided with my taking a lot of time off of running hard. When I started up again, Tim was in relatively poor shape and Jon was pretty much training a lot because he didn't work steady jobs.
In the meantime, I became incredibly involved in my job. I was one of three reporters at a weekly paper based in Hanover County, all of whom were 22.
Our editor was hired to replace the late publisher who lead the Herald-Progress to prominence in local news reportage. The new editor was not quite up to the task of continuing the high performance of the paper, nor was the new management. After buying the H-P, management fired the photographer and wore down two reporters until they left. News coverage was in shambles, and the editor was in over his head.
After a few weeks of orientation and getting to know the county, I started getting more aggressive and ambitious about how the paper would work. With an editor who was a few months longer tenured than I, I didn't have the luxury of institutional knowledge on which to rely. I took bound copies of prior years' papers home with me to study in the evenings and on weekends.
I started experimenting with photography and found, for an amateur, that I had an eye for it and the patience to find the right shot. I dusted off my layout skills and started designing more dynamic pages for the paper. Before long, I was scouring the county, writing the news, shooting the sports photos and putting the paper together. In the face of 60-70-hour weeks, running wasn't a realistic pursuit, and what running I did manage was on my own and usually in Hanover.
Sometimes I'd run in Ashland, sometimes I'd run elsewhere while waiting for appointments, but it was almost always more as a chance to clear my head when the responsibilities I was taking seemed daunting. I didn't have to do all I did, but I found it hard to not try my best to make it a great paper. That's what the readers came to expect for years before. It was hard to hear people decry the drop in quality, even though it was true. It weighed on my self-valuation, and if I wasn't working hard enough to fill the paper with diverse and relevant stories, I was failing.
I immersed myself in the county, and luckily for my running, I saw how many viable routes there were to get away from traffic and people and just run.
Reber Dunkel, sociology professor at Randolph-Macon College, Green Party congressional candidate and limited-growth advocate brought to my attention the huge undeveloped 3,200-acre Hickory Hill property east of Ashland and the threat that it would someday be subdivided. I lacked the basic comprehension to figure out how big it would be based on numbers alone, so I had to see it for myself. On foot. Running. There was a train station there, for goodness sakes!
Chances are it's private property, though I think the signs refer to the land on either side of the road. People who have seen me running there haven't said anything to me, so they either don't care, don't have any authority, or else they wanted to try to take me by surprise.
Wickham and Hickory Hill Roads eventually degrade into gravel and dirt, so the footing gets softer.
From the Hanover County Information Officer Tom Harris: The Hickory Hill plantation spreads more than 3,000 acres between Ashland and Hanover Courthouse and is still owned by members of the Wickham family, who built it in 1820. Trees on the property are believed to have been brought from Japan by Commodore Matthew Perry as a result of his historic visit in 1854. General William H.R. "Rooney" Lee, son of Gen. Robert E. Lee, was captured by Union soldiers on the property but his younger brother escaped capture by hiding in the plantation's famous box hedges. The property is the largest still in the hands of one family in Virginia. The main house of this plantation includes an 1857 wing and an 1875 front section built to replace an 1827 section that burned.
I left the Herald-Progress in July 2005, to work at the Richmond Times-Dispatch. I feel like I gave up a little bit, because I knew nobody would put in the kind of work I once did, and the readers would begin to accept, then expect less from their paper.
Sunday after the Monument Avenue 10k, I headed up to Ashland to run Hickory Hill with some changes to make it 18 miles before I took a train back to DC. I managed to get lost, however, taking the wrong turn on Wickham, and ran 19.6 miles instead.
Emily Ward was waiting for me at Ashland Coffee and Tea, planning to follow my route backwards if I did not make it back in a little more than two hours, so I'd be ready for my train. Realizing I was five minutes slower than I would have run the first nine miles at 7:00 pace, I stayed relatively on pace on the way back, not wanting to be scooped up by the sweeping car. I made it.
For 26 minutes as I ran along Old Ridge Road, I saw nobody- no walkers, no dogs, no cars. It was eerie, but great, because I could run down the middle of the roads.
Afterward I grabbed a copy of the current Herald-Progress. I was unimpressed.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Monument Avenue 10k: Running legs, running nose

I finally ran the Monument Avenue 10k, and I had a great time.
I didn't run a great race- I was shooting for 5:20 or below for my pacing and averaged 5:23 to finish in 33:27, running a full minute slower than my 10k PR. I did, however, relish being in Richmond. I have a pronounced tenderness in my heart for Pittsburgh. I like living around Washington. I love Richmond.
The train ride was about three hours, twice as long as it should have been, and I was suffering with serious congestion and a miserable sore throat. The only enjoyable part was a few minutes when I fell asleep sitting up, listening to my Genghis Kahn biography on my mp3 player. I got in Friday afternoon and my Spider teammate Emily Ward picked me up at the train station. I smiled widely when I looked around downtown Richmond. What a place!
I decompressed in her guest room and we joined her neighbors and friends for dinner at Joe's Inn, where I promptly ate too much chicken parm, but it was delicious. We sat in the bar, which inexplicably still allowed smoking, so I had to take a few breaks outdoors to get fresh air. We watched some of Risky Business and I went to bed and read a bit of Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs. The nose and throat continued to be a problem. I came all this way to race, though, and I was going to give it a shot. Shot, not snot...
I ended up waking up 45 minutes late, calling into question the wisdom of walking two miles to the start. It was 31 degrees. WHAAAAAAAAT are you serious Wendy?
Emily did her long run at about 6 am, and having her drop me off beforehand wasn't a great idea. Even after walking far enough, I couldn't find the badly-needed bathrooms or the baggage drop. I was trapped by the children's race and finally found everything I needed with 10 minutes left until the gun. I jogged to the start, found an alley to stash my t-shirt and did a pair of strides. Molz and Mary were up there, as was Hannay. Some dude standing next to me was wearing Asics Harriers, the blue and yellow model my high school team bought in 1999 because they were our school colors.
We started on Broad Street before moving over to Monument Avenue. To be honest, I barely noticed the monuments because my eyes were focused forward the whole time, not up. I tried to stay loose and run a 5:25 first mile, but alas, it was not to be. I slowed as much as I could once I saw the mile marker and checked my watch, but came through in 5:17.
At this point, I noticed how much my nose was running, while I was runnning...HA. I was like a five-year-old, running around with a runny nose...
Second mile in 5:21, more like it... I was hanging back from a pack of women that included William and Mary alumna Kathy Newberry and PACER and Joketon alumna Samia Akbar and while I knew I was taking it easy, I was determined not to let them beat me. In the third mile, I moved up to join them. Third mile in 5:24. A little slow. I kept hearing people cheer for me, I knew one was Emily and the other Sherry Hannay, who wasn't running because of an achilles problem, but the other, no idea. I hoped people I hadn't seen in five years recognized me running around in almost no clothing...
After the (thankfully wide) turnaround I picked it up. 5k in 16:39, 13 seconds faster than two weeks ago, when I was only running five miles. I passed the ladies and started cruising. 5:15. Yeah! That's more like it. I was caught between two groups at that point and stopped pushing. Big mistake. 5;32. Five miles in 26:52, 31 seconds faster than my 8k in DC. I let the group of women and some dude racing in a hat gap me too much, and I tried to reel them in. At the sixth mile (5:30) I caught Newberry and kicked it in in 64 seconds.
I turned and waited for Hannay to finish, but he was just jogging and I gave up. I caught up with Ashish and we cooled down two miles, and I walked back to Emily's.
Molz ended up running ~30:40, Mary was perhaps the sixth woman to finish.
I'm obviously disappointed to have missed my modest pace goal and finished a minute slower than my PR, but considering how miserable I have felt for the past three days, it wasn't bad. My PR was on a point-to-point downhill race, so it's not totally legit... I ran a good portion of the race alone, and I am not sharp. The fastest mile I have run in a long time was the 5:05 with Dave and Joe in the middle of a 2k. I need to get used to running faster, not just for the 5k I have in Boston toward the end of the month, but so 5:15s don't seem so fast. I have managed to apply that relativity to my mileage, though. For me, 80 is now the standard weekly total, what 70 once was. I cut 10 miles out this week on Thursday and Friday, though to be honest it happened Tuesday when I didn't do a morning run. It's almost time to start cutting my mileage, I'll probably run 80 the next two weeks then start bringing it down.
I didn't fight as much for my place, and I still have no idea where I finished. I need to recover from this cold/adjust to the allergies, and getting sleep in the crucial step there.
My next step is to run between 5:20-5:25 pace for Cherry Blossom. I feel like with the right workout this week, that will be feasible. There will certainly be more people with whom to run, and I'm certainly improving. I'm not kicking ass and dominating 5ks like three years ago, but I'm also not running any 5ks yet... I just have to keep putting in the work, attending to the ancillary details and taking care of myself otherwise.
The walk back to Emily's was wonderful. I found my t-shirt and enjoyed a hilly and cloudless morning, smiling until my nose started its own fourth-mile push...
After a party with the neighbors, I'm taking a nap then taking an easy run to get ready for the next training surge.

Friday, March 26, 2010


Oh Goooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooood. I'm so sick.
I've given up on the mouthpiece because it dried me out too much, and I hoped that would help clear up more sore throat, but son of a gun, I was just getting worse. I slept in Thursday to get a little extra rest and scuttled my plans to run to work, instead doing an extended Hains Point loop after work. When I hit the wind, I scrapped my plans to do a short fartlek to get me pepped up for the 10k Saturday. I also desperately had to go to the bathroom, but all of the portable toilets were locked. I made it to the bathroom on Hains Point then just kind of slogged on, though things got a little better when the wind was at my back. I decided against running 12 miles and cut it to 10.
Little good is going to come from trying to stick to my recent volume of 80 miles a week. At this point I'm just trying to get by, not keep my training volume up. I paid $50 for the race this weekend, more for the train ride, and have been looking forward to it for months. I've never run, nor even seen the Monument Ave 10k before, and what a time to see it. Last time I lived in Richmond, 16,551 people entered the race. Last year, almost 33,000 did. I'm not often hung up on numbers, because those people won't be adding depth to the race field where I focus, but man, that's a lot of people.
I took Friday off. I wanted to sleep more than I wanted to get a three-mile prerace run in. I might change my mind, go for a spin around noon, but I'm not sure if loosening my legs will do as much good as staying warm and dry right now. It's raining in DC. My train gets in to Richmond too late to do a run down there, because Emily Ward and I are going to dinner with her neighbors.
I think a nap will do me more good.
Jon Molz will be shooting for 30:00 tomorrow. I almost wish I could watch him go for it, rather than probably struggle in several minutes behind. Matt Llano will probably be running a minute and a half faster than that at the Stanford Invitational. Jesus.... Go Spiders!
In other Richmond Sports Backers-related news, I'm no longer doing the Patrick Henry Half Marathon in August. Joe Wildfire's wedding is that evening near Morraine State Park in Pennsylvania, north of Pittsburgh. Although I could possibly make it to both, it's not worth the stress. Although I would have liked to run the race, it's friggin' Joe. And he's getting married.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Getting used to it

Tuesday's workout was a little different than what I had been doing. Since I am racing on Saturday, I moved my workout up a day and met with a few GRC guys at American's track. Murphy and Marren ran 2xmile 2x800, and I planned on something a little longer. Dylan joined me for 4x mile. It was raining and cold, so I kept my long-sleeved shirt and hat on but ran in flats. I am shooting for 5:20 pace at the Monument Ave 10k Saturday, so I wanted to practice running a little faster and having it feel pretty relaxed. Given the chilly rain, my legs never really warmed up, and were totally devoid of any springyness. While this totally blew, I welcomed the chance to practice running hard feeling awful. I stuck a little close to Murph and Marren on the first lap, they went 4:55 and 5;03, respectively for the mile, and so I came through in 75. I cooled it down from there and just took is easy, finishing in 5:13. For the next one, I let everyone go ahead and I chased Dylan down halfway through and ran another 5:13. The same followed for the third and fourth, with 5:14s, but between the third and fourth I had to take a quick bathroom break.

Wednesday morning I ran an easy six on Park at 7:17 pace, then went to Georgetown to run a flatter 6 out and back on the Towpath. I listened to Genghis Kahn and the Making of the Modern World, which was fascinating. I stopped at the turnaround and stretched and immediately felt better, which was also fascinating.

I am starting to be affected by seasonal allergies, which is really a pain in the throat. I didn't sleep well Wednesday night after feeling awful during the day. I gave up on the mouthpiece at 1 am and have just about had it with that thing. I just want to have my tonsils cut out as soon as is feasible.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

43 miles in the hills

I was lazy in writing during my vacation, so it is time to catch up.

Thursday evening was just about getting 8.5 miles in before I traveled back to Pittsburgh for Matt Ciccone's 30th birthday party. I did a backwards Woodley at about 6:40 pace. I got to my mom's house rather late and tried, for the first time, the oral appliance my ENT prescribed to help combat my sleep apnea. It seemingly only makes my sleep worse, because it keeps my mouth open all night. Not only is it uncomfortable, but my mouth dries out and leaves me chronically dehydrated. It most certainly does not aid my sleeping. Of course, I did not know this the first night I sleep wearing it. I woke up late in the morning, planning to run an easy six mile around Chatham Village, a route I routinely ran while living in Pittsburgh. After one loop of my typical eight, I decided to head out to see more of the city. I ran down William Street to the south side, ran part of the half marathon course and back up the McArdle Roadway. That hill reminded me what had been missing from my hill work in Virginia- intensity and duration. After a little more than six miles, I needed a break.

After a trip to my old office, I went to visit the Gangjees in O'Hara Township, another hilly part of a hilly city. Javed said that Jess had been complaining of not having a hard enough workout lately, so he charged me with the responsibility of pushing her pace. Our out-and-back into Fox Chapel nearly decimated me. I was gasping for air on hills that I used to treat with anything from mild annoyance to delight. Clearly, Pittsburgh had gotten tougher while at the same time, I got softer. I have never begged for her to slow down, but I did then.

The next morning, I met up with a gang of cyclists in Sewickley to be part of their ride in spirit, though they were going 20 miles starting in the other direction and I wouldn't be able to keep up on foot. The plan was to run a two mile uphill warmup and then a 10 mile tempo, but once again the hills a dehydration were too much. Six miles in, I was still climbing and just stopped with my hands on my knees, trying to stop the ground from moving. I was too far out to make going back any easier, so I trudged on. Eventually I hit a mile-long downhill that lifted my spirits, but in the end I mustered maybe three miles of tempo effort.

Sunday's long run marked several points- my adjustment to the hills, a stunning recovery from eating a lot of steak and drinking a lot of bourbon at Matt's party the night before, and the welcomed improvement in sleep when I eskewed the mouthpiece. I met up with Shafer, Jo, Brandon G,Greg Brynes and Steve Garand to have them test out the 18-mile permutation of my Wild Wild West End loop, which I am constantly refining. Jo was only planning for 17 miles, so she and Shafer adjusted the loop a little, and we managed to nearly kill Brandon with his continuing dehydration, but Steve and Greg and I had a solid run. I hid some water at mile 11, and that helped a bit, and I still fell off a bit on two hills in miles 13 and 14 in which we climbed 322 feet. These were the same hills I used to conquer during my long runs, but no matter, the whole run was progress. For the most part, people enjoyed the loop, though I did take come critiques to heart when I redesigned it.

It was a total of 43 miles of hills in three days. I finally got the hang of it and realize what I need more of in my training- long, serious hills.

I got back to DC on Monday and ran 10 miles on an out-and-back to the west on the W&OD Trail.

Shafer checks out Jo's legs while Greg indicates that he's a badass.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Not the way to run a workout

Tuesday I recovered from my long run with an easy six miles in Bethesda, warming up withDirk for his working and adding 3+ miles around the track in lane six. Then I did some drills and HMDs while Dirk, Wiggy, Pat and Jimmy did a workout.

I got some fast running in Wednesday night, but it wasn't the way I wanted to do it. I planned for 3 x 2 miles (11:00, 10:50, 10:40) on the Greenwich loop, the one-mile road loop a half mile from home. I like doing workouts there because, well, each loop is a mile and it's a departure from the controlled and evenly-measured track, plus unlike the George Mason High School track, it's open for my use all the time. Plus, since I am not racing on the track, it seems more useful to practice running fast on the roads and learn how speeds feel.
As it turns out, I have no idea how paces feel, and have no real control. First off, I needed to do a more aggressive warmup, because I was too energetic at the start. I wasn't in a workout state, and so I struggled to find my pace, hoping for 5:30. Instead, I came through the mile in 5:07. Way off. Rather than slow down dramatically, I figured I might as well get used to running like that, and held on to run 5:08 for the second mile and 10:15 overall.
Slow it down, I told myself. 5:15 and 5:15 for 10:30. I was surprised I was able to run that fast despite feeling a little beaten from the first interval. At the end of the second, however, I started to feel a familiar GI issue brewing.
After taking care of that, I headed out for my third. My first ~.2 was very slow, and though I recovered, it wasn't enough, and I came through the mile in 5:28. I shut it down there and thought about heading home, but after a quick recovery, maybe two minutes, I gave another mile another shot and ran 5:20, feeling fine.
I would have much preferred to have cut down the pace, rather than cut the intensity. It's about time I figured out the quarter-mile marks to avoid making these blunders in the future. I like this loop because I'm not thinking about splits, just about effort, but if I continue to sabotage my workouts by starting too fast, I won't be doing myself any good.

10:15 (5:07,508), 10:30 (5:15, 5:15), 5:28, 5:20

Monday, March 15, 2010

I don't give directions well when I am running hard

Simply put, this long run wasn't as fun as I had anticipated.
Having seen where I erred last week, losing the Four Mile Run Trail when I crossed Shirlington Road without also crossing the bridge, I figured I was in for a smooth run today when I did the trail I had intended. I was wrong from the very outset. My calves and shins were both extremely tight and didn't respond to stretching the way I wanted them to. I think I tied my shoelaces too tight, so I had to loosen them a few times. My plan was to run 7:00 pace until the turn onto the Four Mile Run Trail and then drop down to 6:00 pace for 10 miles, with a mile and change cooldown. I was having trouble hitting my pace when I passed my first three time points, but thought I was on track for the fourth, 4.5 miles in. It turns out I was way off and almost a half mile wrong. If the mile markers on the Mt. Vernon Trail were to be believed, I ran 6:04 and 6:34 for two of the miles heading south, and was not pleased.
Regardless, I picked it up when I hit Four Mile Run. I made the correct turns and caught the trail on the steam's south bank, but I was pushing too hard to hit 6s. The shins were a little looser, but I didn't feel great, so I just quashed the tempo and decided to just run it in. I ended up missing a few turns, then hit some more significant hills than I had realized were on the trail, and was glad I didn't try to push up them. For a steady tempo effort, the W&OD is pretty solid, if boring. Four Mile Run was nice in that it was scenic and had some topographical variety.
When I got to Columbia Street, I felt a lot better, and decided to push home. When I got to the intersection of Great Falls and Lincoln Ave, some woman yelled to me to ask how to get to I-66. She seemingly just came from the interchange, so I pointed northwest and might have yelled something, but it surely wasn't helpful. I didn't want to be helpful.
Anyway, I ended up getting 18.5 miles averaging 6:40 pace. Not the way I wanted to get the miles, but again I ran decently well despite feeling awful. My right hip and thigh didn't feel uncomfortable, either, so that's progress, too...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

So that's how racing feels...

I feel like disappointed in my running ability but pleased with my prognostication acumen.
I came into the St. Patrick's Day 8k with pessimistic, realistic and optimistic projections.
Pessimistic- based on my 2x4 mile workout two weeks ago, when I averaged 5:40 for all of them, I felt at the very least I could run 28:20.
Realistic- since I ran those miles alone, in the dark and in trainers, I should at least run 5:30s for 27:30.
Optimistic- I felt my reasonable limit was 5:15 pace for 26:15. Perhaps 5:20s for 26:30 would have been good.
I wound up 18th in 27:23, and I needed a strong kick to make that happen.

It was pouring in Falls Church, but only drizzling lightly in DC.
I held back at the start, wary of getting out with the Africans and Dirk. I still pushed at the beginning, and I can tell I was pushing too hard. 5:25 would have been a great first split, but I hit 5:18. Despite how fast it was,I felt good. The course, though pretty flat, was questionably designed, with four 180-degree turns. Two are within about 200 meters in the second mile, and as odd as it is to say, I started to get a little lightheaded after the second. I noticed some cottonmouth at the start, but I didn't think too much of it. In the second mile, however, I started seeing little black spots in the bottom halves of my eyes and I started to feel woozy. That's a little too early to have problems like that. I faded from the group with which I was running and just kind of tried to make progress.I regained my sense of urgency after the last turnaround with about 600 meters left and put on a burst that dropped four guys, including the ubiquitous "Sheehy"whom I heard people cheering most of the way. With 200 meters left I kicked hard. finished and immediately undermined my months of training and declared my efforts a failure.
With a little time, I reconciled my disappointment with the conditions- it was my first serious race since the Richmond Alumni 5k Labor Day weekend, I'm not exactly sharp right now, I felt as though I had been dehydrated, the course was the kind I tend to avoid, and I had a dubious sleep schedule coming in. I planned to spend Saturday evening socializing with Matt and Amy and taking in a few birthday parties, plus dealing with the time change that would rob me of an hour. I took a 3.5-hour nap in the early afternoon, hoping to store some rest for the next day. This is all very logical, because I rarely sleep more than an hour or two without waking up, choking on my tonsils. In the end, I stayed home but didn't sleep well. That tomfoolery needs to end...

Good points:
  • I went through 5k in 16:54, 14 seconds faster than I ran for 5k in December. Obviously that was December, but the point is I ran almost two more miles after.
  • Dirk and Robbie Wade were convinced the course was long. Wade's GPS device said it was 5.05 miles, and those things tend to underestimate, if anything.
  • I ran 5:30 pace while feeling pretty awful. There's something to be said for that.
  • I ran most of the race in no-man's land.
In the afternoon, I ran an easy 3.25 around Falls Church on a boring but effective loop.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Whole buncha' raindrops

I'm combining Friday and Saturday's runs because they are pretty much the same in my mind and I really don't think anyone cares if I don't have separate titles for each day.
Friday I waited until after work to run and make a whole production of it, with a two-mile stationary bike warmup in the gym in my office basement, then a 6:55-pace 10 miles around the Mall and Hains Point in the driving rain. It stung the eyes. Then I did some backwards walking on the treadmill to loosen my calves and more stretching.
Saturday, after 10 hours of sleep, I joined Alex for part of his run, a Park 6, though I finished up Grove to avoid the hill on Highland. after trying to give my legs some semblance of a massage, I took a 3.5 hour nap, then ran 3.5 miles around Falls Church. I tried to keep the whole thing easy before my race, despite totaling 80 for the second straight week.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Favorite Defunct Races #3

Frick Park Cross Country

Frick Park, in Pittsburgh, is one of my favorite parks for running, and it just so happened when I finally had the time and vicinity to train there routinely when I moved to the city in 2004, there was a healthy series of races managed by the West Penn Track Club and sponsored by Saucony.

When they're not fielding teams of mercenaries who they happen to pick up the day before the Great Race, West Penn is a decent enough organization. I think one person exerts too much influence in the competition division, but I digress.

The rank-and-file members of the club are quick to volunteer to help hold a race, Janice Boyko does a great job organizing and Dave Sobal puts together safe and high quality courses.
Sadly, I was only able to make it to one of the three races in the summer cross country series because of conflicting road races. Each meet offered three different races:

2k- out and back on the Tranquil Trail
4k- out on the Traquil Trail, along the lawn bowling courts on Reynolds, right on the Horseshoe Trail, right on the Kensington Trail, left on the Homewood Trail and back on the Tranquil Trail.
8k- The 4k course, then up the Falls Ravine Trail, around the exercise circuit twice and back down Falls Ravine.
If they wished to double, 4k runners could continue on the 8k course.

I ran the 4k in July and broke the course record by one second (13:02). It still stands, but only because Saucony dropped its sponsorship after that summer and West Penn ceased the race.

The club still holds a fall race, the Pittsylvania XC Challenge, though it too has waned. There was talk in 2008 that West Penn would drop it, too, and I made a bid for the Hounds to keep it running, but once Janice took the offer to the board, it was swiftly quashed by someone in charge. The club later cancelled its Gold Medal Alumni 5k scheduled for the summer and replaced the Pittsylvania race. The new race raises money for scholarships dedicated to two camp alumni who died in car accidents in the late 90s. A noble cause, but the race now goes against the behemoth Spirit of Pittsburgh Half Marathon, and its growth will be somewhat limited as a result.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Some Van Metre 5 Mile photos

I just realized how recently I ran hard

Tim Aldinger (known to some as Tom Aldridge) is in DC for the week, and has some time to hang out tonight, so I decided to get my run out of the way by running to work. The 12-mile route is gradually downhill, so I figured gravity would do a lot of work while I tried to wake up. A half mile in, my left patella started hurting like crazy, so I stretched out a little more and took it easier. I realized three miles in that since it was just about 7:50, I was pretty much just finishing my workout 12 hours prior. My fatigue started to make sense.
It wasn't a terribly interesting run, just along the W&OD and Custis trails and through the city. I averaged exactly 7:00 pace.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Competence and confidence

I wouldn't say my workout plans were dangerously ambitious, but given the limits of my previous workouts, I had cause for doubt.
Wiggy suggested 4-5 x 2k, and that sounded like a good interval to me. He also said 5:10 pace, a pace I had matched or broken twice since August. So, I knew I could run a mile that fast, I just had to do an extra lap. Then do it three more times.
I switched from the Puma flats I had been wearing to my old adiZeros, the shoes that had run 14:57 their first time out of the box. They instantly felt a lot better and I was glad I switched back. We started out slowly on the first one, 78, but recovered with a 7 and two 76s for 6:27. Not bad. Then we got a little out of hand the next one, splitting 5:05 for the mile and 6:21 for 2k, but I still felt strong and able to keep doing it.The third one went smoothly in 6:26, and the fourth one was the same, but the middle was filled with a struggle over self doubt and insecurity.
Was I actually in shape to finish this workout? There were some stretches where my breathing seemed to tighten my stomach, but my body never burned from the effort, neither my legs nor lungs. It wasn't easy, but it wasn't difficult. In the end, it was just the way a workout is supposed to be. The repetition of such a fast pace desensitized me to to fear of running 5:10 pace and blowing up. Admittedly, in the last 2k I worried that my collapse was inevitable, and when Joe, Dave and Dirk picked it up in the last 500 I figured that time had come, but I just kept running and hit my pace exactly.
With this newfound confidence in my relative speed, I am heading to the Shamrock 8k Sunday morning downtown. The course isn't great- four 180-degree turns, but it will be flat and a chance to get used to racing again before I go to Richmond in two weeks for the Monument Ave 10k.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Relaxing is hard

I gave easy running a try on Monday, and found I didn't much like it. I had hoped to wake early and double, but fatigue from my afternoon long run carried over and made it hard to get up. I ran a Presidents' loop in the afternoon, which I erroneously thought to be 10 miles. It was 10.7, turning what I thought to be a 7:20 pace into 6:50.
Tuesday I got out of work early and arrived home at about 4:30, but was exhausted, so I laid down to take a quick nap. When I woke a few minutes later, I set off to run 5 miles west on the W&OD trail and then come back. I was at 6:30 pace at 2.6 miles, so I did as much as I could to hit the brakes. The number of bikers and walkers on the trail helped, as did my general feeling of awfulness that increased as I forced myself to slow down. I finally met my goal when it was over of 7:13 pace. It's not quite 7:20 or 7:30, but hopefully it was good enough.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The long climb

I had to work on Sunday at the legislative conference in Adams Morgan, so that eliminated me from the GRC trip to Riley's Lock. I measured out a course from the office in Capitol Hill back home along the Mt. Vernon, Four Mile Run and W&OD trails that would be about 17.5 and incorporate a 10-mile climb. After my work was done, I headed to the office to change and set out. On the heels of last week's enjoyable and passion-affirming long run, I was excited, but was skeptical I could match the experience.
I am sure I ran it faster, but I did it wrong. I planned to speed up noticeably after 7.5 miles, about when I would turn onto the Four Mile Run Trail, and push the 10-mile hill to the finish. Instead, I was rolling a mile in and though I sped up, it was not exactly what I wanted. I was down to six minute pace by the time I hit the Mt. Vernon Trail, trying my best to stick to the worn grass along the paved path. When I reached the airport, I traded leads and smiles with an attractive rollerblader, though I eventually dropped her after the turn. Or maybe she went back to the 90s.
I was into a breathing pattern when I hit Four Mile Run that suited the pace, but did not give me much leeway to greet Dave O'Hara when I crossed his path. I just let out a bizarre exhale that sounded like I was laughing. Unclear signs led me a bit astray, and I eventually left the Four Mile Run Trail when I failed to cross to the south side of the creek. I jumped on the W&OD earlier than I had planned, and the straightforward path cut about .2 miles from the total, leaving me with this route.
A new trail meant a new set of half-mile markers, and new travelers. After a young bicyclist nearly ran me off the road with his awkward riding, I sped ahead and ran in the wake of a middle-aged man who was going steady at 6 minute pace. After hitting Bon Air Park, though, I tired of him and pushed ahead, approaching what was initially the 15-mile mark with a chance to hit 90 minutes. I knew I was running fast, uphill, but I didn't realize how far off my distance was. With the route deviation, the 15-mile mark was at the top of the second-steepest hill I would climb, and once I made it to the top I began to slow down and cool down. I had another significant hill a half mile from the end on Highland, so I felt at this point I needed to tame things.
I wound up averaging running about 6:11 pace for 17.33 miles, with six minute pace or under from miles 4.5 to a little before 15, so it was good work. I just didn't have the same satisfaction and enjoyment as I did during my run last weekend. Part of it was the confusion over where the Four Mile Run Trail went near Shirlington. I think it would have been a more attractive and better experience had I followed that trail to the end, but the dropoff wasn't terrible.
It's just hard to appreciate the run for the qualities that it possessed.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Doubling for 8.5 miles....

I hitched a ride with Dave Burnham to Ashburn to watch the Van Metre five mile race. He, Klim and Dirk were running, and I planned to bike around, take pictures and generally encourage them. I didn't see how I was going to get my 8.5 miles in to finish my 80 mile week in the morning. I did about 2.5-3 miles of a warmup with them around bland developments with no trees. Though Karl's scratch left us with an extra bib and an opportunity for me to race, I didn't want to a. sully Karl's reputation with a 27 minute five mile or b. experience pain. So, I biked. It was windy when I got going, and I wish I had gloves. Dirk surged to the lead and dueled with an Ethopian until the lanky Dutchman put him away down the stretch. Jake followed them up with a 27 second PR in third, and Dave got his legs used to racing again in sixth. Gretchen ended up finished third in the women's race, so the GRCers cleaned up pretty well.
After a 3.5 hour nap, I ran a Park Ave six-mile loop. I doubled to get 8.5 miles... Turrible....

Friday, March 5, 2010

Morning runs

My plan for a morning workout on Thursday was foiled. I got to the track at George Mason High School at about 6:25, flats in hand, ready to do a mile workout- 4x5:16 with 400m recovery. The gates were locked. Son....of...a...bitch..... I looked around, there had to be another way in. A high fence, but a large pile of snow abutted it. Maybe I should jump over the fence? Then I saw the barbed wire on top. No, I wasn't leaping over any fences. I turned around and headed to the road mile loop on which I had done a workout 36 hours before. I'd give it a shot. Sure I didn't know the 400 marks, but it would be better than nothing. I changed into my flats and got ready to run, feeling colder than the 33 degree morning. I started on one interval, and within 46 seconds, I felt drained. I stopped, turned around and put my trainers back on. I wasn't going to make any progress forcing it. I tossed my shoes onto my porch and went out and ran five miles.
That afternoon, I finished up my 10 miles for the day with three laps around the Capitol. I wasn't terribly inventive.
The next morning, however, I woke up early to run to work. It was a nice change from the trip I made the other way in the snow storm. It was 12 miles, and a gradual downhill, though the Custis Trail is pretty undulating. Once I got into the city, it became less of a medium long run and more of a stop-and-go with the traffic lights. When I got to the office, though, I was happy to have my run over for the day. I think I'll do that again.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

THAT's what they're talking about

Like Dirk a few days before me, I finally saw an elusive red fox while running around Hains Point on Wednesday. The absence of snow provoked me to run on the grass during my 10 mile easy run and as I headed up the east side, I looked up and saw this odd combination of a dog and a cat, traipsing toward me on the sidewalk on the edge of the river. I naturally did not handle this with quiet appreciation. I yelled "HEY FOX! RUN WITH ME!" and turned to run parallel with it for a while. It kept looking over at me for a few seconds, then scurried off. I went about my way and then managed to show up late for the free showing of Food Inc. at the Archives.

I looked through several pages of Google images for "running fox" and chose this one????

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Why does Snoop Doggy Dogg carry an umbrella?

For drizzle...
That's what I was dealing with Tuesday night when I went out for an aerobic stamina workout on a little road loop a half mile from my apartment. A light drizzle that seemed insignificant when I started but added up after a while. The neighborhood in question only has two roads into it and it doesn't do much good as a shortcut for drivers on the main roads, so traffic is extremely light. It's also almost exactly one mile around, just a little bit longer. Because of the light traffic, I could run in the middle of the road, so the measurement was essentially reliable. I jogged over and ran one loop as a warm up then set off on 2x4 miles, shooting for around 5:40 pace.
My first mile was 5:30, a little faster than I wanted to go, but without the exact 800 mark, I wasn't checking my pace midway through, and I think that might have defeated the purpose of running this workout on the roads. I consciously slowed down and hit 5:38 for my next three for 22:25. I jogged the loop backwards for a recovery, then started my second set. Two things happened during the recovery, the cold drizzle, about 36 degrees, chilled my legs enough that they became numb, and I forgot the breathing pattern that worked so well for me the last time.
I came through the first mile in 5:41, and while I was a little disappointed to have slowed three seconds from the last, I kept in mind that I could just barely feel my legs, so to be able to run close on muscle memory was pretty good. I slowed a bit the next three laps and averaged 5:43 for 22:52. By the end, the t-shirt I was wearing over a long-sleeved shirt was soaked and pretty heavy.
Overall, I was pretty happy with the workout. Considering I ran 5:40 pace for 2x3 miles on the track two weeks ago, running 2x4 miles on the roads averaging that pace is pretty good. That I only looked at my watch at the mile marks made me pretty confident that 5:40 just became a natural pace. Now, to speed it up...

Monday, March 1, 2010

Nothing too sexy happening here

My morning run plan failed again, so I found myself running my entire day's worth of mileage in the evening, as has been my wont lately. I did Presidents + Seaton to get in 10 miles at 6:49 pace. Crossing Route 7 was a pain, I must have waited three minutes for an opportunity.