"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

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Stuff Towpath found between his toes

Monday's run went only a hair better than Sunday's. I slept in, so there was no morning run. I felt pretty good during the day, and worked pretty hard to mindfully eat bananas and kiwi to replace the potassium I had sweated out the prior two days. Though I would have preferred waiting until later, I had to run soon after work, because in my haste I left my phone at Scott's house and luckily Jake was able to bring it to the city, so I ran out to the Towpath to meet him at about 6. I got 5 miles of movement before I met up with him, and we took off up the trail to meet with the Glover-Archibald Trail. He was blazingly fast for what I felt like doing. I was thirsty as heck. We stopped for one drink near the Key Bridge and kept going, but I wasn't feeling much better. We started to climb to read G-A, but my heartrate and respiration were racing. I couldn't handle that. I turned and headed back to my office, but once I reached downtown I started to feel faint. I walked for a bit, then ran a few blocks, got some water at Franklin Park. I ran the rest of the way back and felt depleted the rest of the day. I managed 10.5, though. After two days, repeating 100 miles is not going to happen, not when I'm traveling Friday and have a race at which I would like to try Saturday morning.

I was set for a decent bedtime Monday night when, while lying in bed, I saw some movement near my closet door. It was a mouse. I spent the next two hours clearing the closet and cornering the mouse four times before I was able to successfully contain him and release him outside. Then it was 1 am, most of the contents of my room were in the dining room and I was filled with adreneline from my success that it took me a while to fall asleep. When I woke at 7, there was no way I could run with that amount of energy. I made it through work and came home and tried to get 14 in New Virginia Manor, doing four loops of almost two miles each in the middle. I started to get ridiculously thirsty and cut the last loop and instead added on and finished with 13.31 miles. I averaged 7:37s, which I guess was a good recovery run.

Wednesday I once again failed to wake up early enough to get a morning run in, probably because I ran so late on Tuesday. I headed out around 7:30 to do an extended Woodley. I wasn't exactly sure where the mile markers were, but I figured I was averaging 7:00 miles. I thought I was fine until the point I figured to be 10 miles, which I hit in 1:07:50- surely that meant I was running 7:05 pace. Well, the heat and exertion, which I didn't realize was so great, clearly got to me, I had actually averaged 6:47. I guess I was mixing the tendencies for 6:00 miles with the 7:00s. I chilled out the last mile and hit an even 11.

Thursday I woke up and went outside and it felt miserable- the heat and humidity were both out of control. I sat down on the curb to put my shoes on and felt like there was nothing that running then would do for me- I'd be in a sour mood the whole time, and I'm better off enjoying my running, so I decided to cut my weekly mileage to 80, and instead do 11 miles on the treadmill after work. I took a fan with me to get the air moving around me, so I hope this will be a more productive run than my first two tries.

The key to me hitting my high-mileage goals is just getting a few miles in the morning. Four more miles a day would have me on pace for 100, rather than 82.

My trip to Pittsburgh for the Run for Roch has been cut by three days because of a shifting work schedule and the accompanying deadlines. Now my running retreat will be to southwest Virginia, near Pembroke, to my coach's cabin where I will run, read, explore and eat for five days in two weeks. I was hoping my brother Edward would have moved in to Roanoke College by that point so I could visit him, but alas, he won't arrive for two more weeks. In his e-mail to me about the place, Steve followed every description of a good running spot with "take a camera," so I am really looking forward to the vistas and wildlife. Reno was a nice trip thanks to the dry, cool air, but I barely saw a dozen trees.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

On top of a milestone and below a millstone

The weekend was both exciting and depressing as I saw a technical high but a few realist lows.

On the positive side, I hit 100 miles a week for the first time in my life. Whether I'd feel much different if I had stopped at 95, as I would have liked, or gone ahead and run through it, as Jake suggested, I don't know. What I do know is that for seven days I got in a lot of high-quality work running. I've always been a pretty low-mileage distance runner, so consistency north of 80 miles a week seven of the last nine weeks has been boding well for my marathon training.
The negative aspect is that I had an absolutely terrible race and then spent the next day pretty much depleted and bailed on two runs.

I spent more than an hour getting to Arlington for the Crystal City 5k. I arrived 20 minutes before the start, ran to the packet pickup, got a slight warmup in and got to the line. It was evidently 98 degrees, and muggy as heck.
I was happy, though, to see Wiggy and Jess McGuire before the race, and Pat Murphy taking pictures on the course. I greeted the new Ethiopian additions to the GRC racing team and I am pretty sure they didn't know what I said.
The gun went off and I ran like crazy to get away from the crowd of people that made it seem even hotter. I was way too close to the east African leaders, but I didn't care. I eased up a little bit and cruised for a while. It was so damn hot. Oh my God. The pack of Pacers guys passed me, and I didn't even care.
Sweat was already flying off of my body, pouring into my eyes and I was ready for the race to be over. I wound up running with some fellow I can barely remember, and we came through the mile in 4:59. I was surprised I was able to move that fast in the heat. We came upon the first water stop and I was thrilled- a splash of cold water would certainly help me focus for a few minutes! I reached for a cup and dropped it. A few seconds later, I had one in my grasp and I tossed it at my face, waiting for the refreshing splash.

I would have liked it to have been lukewarm. It was hot. Not boiling, but hot. I was nauseated. Thank God I didn't actually need to drink it. After the race I talked to a volunteer who told me they put the water out at 6:30, so it just heated up for 90 minutes before the race started. So, I kept going, but decided pretty early not to get too excited about the race. I hit the second mile in 5:33, passing some dude named Nelfe Geletli in the process whom I had been following, and realized then any hope I had of breaking 16 or even improving on my two 16:08s was pretty unlikely. I tried water again, and once again it was really warm. I shouldn't be surprised, the Independence 5k, also a Pacers race, gave out hot water bottles after the race, despite it being in the high 70s, so they just don't know how to manage their supply.

On the way back in, I just stopped trying, and slowed down a lot, I saw no use in pushing too hard for a bad time- 6:14 for the third mile. Geletli and six other guys passed me, but I really didn't care. I did notice people cheering for some woman, so I ran just fast enough to hold her off.
I came across a few other people I knew, Lisa and Joanna, and found my compatriots. I was happy to have them there so that I could judge my clarity of mind on whether I was safe to cool down. I was, so I trotted off for a few more miles and rolled over to 100.

I got to Pokey's dad's house around 11 pm and got to bed as soon as I could, sucking down some of the dozen or so Powerades I took from the race (also quite warm). I got up at 5:15 and we headed out to Boyds for Riley's Rumble. The plan was for me to pace Pokey through some 7:19s so he could break 1:36. When we got there and the air was already nearly as stuffy as the night before, I wasn't surprised when they announced the race had been cancelled and was now a fun run. I jogged around the playing fields to get about 4.5 miles in then looked for Pokey at the start, to no avail. The run started and I felt comfortable in the middle of the pack, chatting with some people, having some water. I figured I'd get through the run and have 2.5 more miles to run before I'd hit 20. About 2.5 miles in, though, I started to feel my chances slip, rapidly. At the bottom of a long downhill I realized I couldn't go any farther. I should run the three miles back to the start and run laps around the park. When I stopped to turn around, I didn't start up again. I walked back to the park and sat down for a while, drank some water and waited for everyone else to finish. Jess convinced me to go out for what we planned to be a two-mile cooldown but ended up being just one mile. Pokey ended up running 1:48 or so, which was pretty good, despite the heat.

I recovered throughout the day at Scott Koonce's and after a violent storm, the temperature dropped to the high 70s. Though it was in the 80s by the time I was ready to try an evening run, it felt much better than before. I set off to do a Park++ and add on around Falls Church, and was starting off feeling great at 7:30 pace, then at three miles, I had some severe cramps in my ribs, so I stopped and walked home.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Back to the sauna

Thursday afternoon, I ran 6.25 on the treadmill at work, finishing up with a mile a little under 5:00. I brought a small towel and a sweatband and that helped a little bit this time, but it was still pretty uncomfortable. I think I need a little fan to at least move some air around me.

Friday morning I slept in and ended up doing 6 miles after work, 6:20 pace for the first three and 6:40 on the way back.

Saturday morning I did an easy 3.5 on Fisherman and a few strides in my flats.

Last year, the GRC sent a group of eight to battle the Pacers at the Crystal City 5k. This year, it's....me. Andy evidently backed out, so it looks like it will be me taking on Graham, Moran, Viviani, whoever else they have. And I probably won't compare favorably, either.
But, I've always been better on a hot night than a cooler but humid morning. I have nothing to lose (except my entry fee): I am finishing up my first 100-mile week, I didn't exactly get to bed at a good time last night and didn't act as healthy as I could have and I'm facing down the adversary at one of their own races. I'm planning to douse myself at each of the water stops and just run myself into the ground. All I will need is a one-mile cooldown and I'll have 100 and that volume, moreso than a great race, gives me confidence. I just want to get out there and race.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Lost again

The conference wrapped up Tuesday afternoon and I headed back to my room for a nap. I woke up and took a six-mile spin around the river trail again, careful to mind the bums throughout the park, out and back to the main street downtown. It was pretty hot and dry. When I came back to the hotel, our new president’s inaugural ball was in progress, and when my coworker told me about the food selection- delicious roast beef and a variety of vegetables, I hurried upstairs to get dressed for it.

I had a delicious White Russian that hit me pretty hard, thanks to my dehydration. That, plus my post-exercise euphoria and boosted energy thanks to my nap made me positively giddy, AND THEN I discovered the ice cream bar. I loaded some melty vanilla with tiny m&ms, strawberry sauce and chocolate and went toward town.

I woke up early the next morning with a route written on my arm to get me 14 miles and up onto one of the surrounding foothills to the south. I ran clockwise around the Reno-Tahoe Airport until I got to Mira Loma Road and followed it to the neighborhood surrounding the Hidden Valley Country Club. I followed the road there south and looked for the intersection with Alexander Lake Road, which would take me into Huffaker Hills, where I could get my view of the city from a hilltop. I moved away from the neighborhood and onto a remote looking road, and figured I was right on track. Then, the houses started popping up again. I saw two familiar-looking walkers, and then a sign for Mira Lorma. I knew that road ran south, so I thought perhaps I had gone too far, but as it turns out I had run around the circumference of the golf course and was back where I started. It was too late to keep exploring—an ice bath was probably out of the question and I would need to rush back to be ready for my flight.

I followed the rest of my route clockwise around the airport, and at times seemed to be going way out of my way, but it was a certain way back to the hotel. I ended up running 1:43, but had to wait until I got home to find out how far it was. It turned out to be a little over 16 miles, so I averaged 6:28.

This is how the road was supposed to look...

I also had a chance to look at a more detailed map when I was on my computer. It turns out Alexander Lake was connected to Short Lane and Hidden Highlands Drive. I passed Hidden Highlands, but to the right, it looked as though it ended.

After another day of traveling (I made my flight), I got back to humid, stuffy Virginia, with its trees and shade that does no good in stopping the moisture. I did an easy four miles at 7:28 pace and hit the sack.

Thursday morning I ran 6.75 at 7:58 pace around the Park ++ loop. It was rough, running in the brunt of the humidity. All told, I ran 83 miles in the five days I was in Reno, and that wasn’t bad. Now it’s time to test my legs at the Crystal City 5k Saturday night, help pace Pokey in his half marathon, hopefully add enough distance Sunday morning to make 20 miles, and see if I can keep this volume up when I don’t have dry air making it seem so easy to run.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cool and dry

I don't think I can go back to Virginia. The humidity...it's just too much... In the meantime, I am having a productive trip to Reno. Through Tuesday afternoon, I have run 58 miles through four days. I am running another five tonight.

Sunday afternoon, I got an easy seven miles in, nothing special. I tried to follow the trail along the river, but a lot of drifters in the parks made me think again about that.

Monday morning, I left at 5 am to do my long run. I had a 20-mile loop mapped out that would take me into the hills west of the city, to get a little elevation change, because the most I have climbed or dropped was 92 feet over the course of 6.25 miles on Saturday. I got lost, of course, about three miles in, when I crossed the Truckee River. I wandered around for a while and when I realized how lost I was, I figured I would either run the extra distance when I got back on course or adjust things. I probably had added about four miles when I got back on track, and I was cool with that. Running in weather that was cool and dry enough to wear a shirt was a treat, and I didn't care if it meant doing a little extra distance. When I got about halfway up the hills, I realized I had to be at the conference at 8:30, I realized my chances of getting back, showering and eating before my first workshop were slim if I ran another 28 minutes, I headed back. Toward the end, I thought I saw a sign that said "Robert Goulet House, right on McDonald"

I turned around and went back, but it turned out to have said "Ronald McDonald House, right on Gould." Bummer. I ended up running 7:07 pace, 2:24:30 for 20.3 miles. I felt fine the rest of the day.

Tuesday morning I headed to the north and went five miles out and five miles back, with a few hills thrown in there. I ran 7:00 pace on the way out and 6:00 on the way back.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Facing two fears

Friday afternoon, I became a little more flexible, philosophically. After years of resisting treadmills, I was faced with a difficult decision- try, and possibly die, running seven miles outside in 97 degrees with suffocating humidity, or run on a treadmill.

After stepping outside to feel just how bad it was, I opted for the treadmill. It wasn't fun- I tried to watch the television in the console, but the earphones gave me little electrical shocks in my ears, so I switched to my mp3 player that was possessed by my sweat and plays what it wants to. I managed four miles averaging 7:00 pace and then had to wring my shirt out, because despite the air conditioning in the gym in my building's basement, it was hard work, and I was soaked. Two more miles, under 7:00, and I wrung the shirt out again. One more mile and I was done.

Though it wasn't great, I probably will end up using the treadmill for some miserably hot or humid days to complement outdoor runs over the next six weeks or so, just to save my body some trauma and my psyche from the grind.

After a day's worth of air travel Saturday, I arrived in Reno for a conference. I was free for the rest of the day, so I hung out for a few hours until 7:30, when the weather cooled down. I wanted to run in the foothills to the east, so I headed out that way, looking for Cleanwater Street, which would possibly take me there. Upon arriving, a sign told me it was a dead end, so I went north, looking for the next road that would take me there. I found Greg Street, so I went with it. The split that I took at what turned out to be 3.2 miles told me I went 6:20 pace, and it didn't feel that fast. It was amazing how much better I felt in the dry air in Nevada.
I hit a trail that looked to take me into the foothills after 28 minutes, so I took it. It followed the Truckee River, and eventually ended, though I hoped it would take me to a bridge I saw in the distance. I had given up on the foothills, or even running through the valley, but I wanted to make it to the bridge. I figured it was about 42 minutes out from the hotel. I decided to hop on the train tracks and try to reach the bridge. I just recently got over my fear of train tracks, almost 10 years after the passing of my friend Conrad Frazier, who was struck by a train.
I was cruising along, then I saw my second fear:

A g-d rattlesnake. It scared the living crud out of me, hissing and rattling and stuff. I leaped high in the air and did a karate kick, just in case he could jump too. He did not, and we both rushed off in opposite directions. I picked up my pace to get to the bridge and back to the trail, and believe me, I was vigilant in looking out for him the second time around. Terrified, in fact.

I figured I had gone at least six miles out, though it turned out to be a quarter mile longer, and after eight and nine miles I was feeling pretty good. The best part was that I wasn't drenched in sweat. I was dehydrating, certainly, but it was a pleasant dehydration that didn't bog me down with its byproducts. I slowed down for the last mile or so and ended up averaging 6:37 for 12.5 miles, feeling a lot better than I had in weeks.

The next morning I woke up at 6 to run a 40-minute tempo around a reservoir and get 10 total in before a day of work, but during my warmup I could tell I hadn't rehydrated from the flights and the run less than 12 hours before. I tried the tempo anyway and made it about eight miuntes before I packed it in and just explored Reno or a while. It's a little skanky, and Sparks, where I ran on Saturday, was mostly buildings for lease.

Ending note: It's been a bizarre week for Pittsburgh's West End, which I have come to love over the last 18 months. I haven't been able to ruminate completely on the murder of Lauren Deis because the details are just so revolting and I haven't really been able to settle my mind around it, but there was some good news. Reprinted from the Tribune-Review's Laurels and Lances:

Laurel: To saving the Old Stone Tavern. Pittsburgh's second-oldest building -- at Greentree Road and Woodville Avenue in the West End -- appears to be on the road to restoration. Thanks to a historic designation, the two-story brick structure dating to the 1780s can't be torn down. It once served as a toll house and might have played a role in the Whiskey Rebellion. Kudos to all those behind the effort to preserve yet another piece of our marvelous history.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Oh God, it's so humid

This seems appropriate

It’s time I faced the reality that sometimes the elements are too much for me. I thought I was adjusting to the heat and humidity, if not nicely, then at least effectively. I managed a 90 mile week despite temperatures breaking 95 four straight days and was faring pretty well. I learned to handle mornings as cooler-but-humid fiascos and evenings and hot-but-drier times to muscle through runs. Sunday, though, I was pretty tired. I was dragging throughout my trip to the Newseum (not worth $20, as far as I am concerned) and just managed to do my afternoon run. I slept 10 hours on Sunday night and woke up too late to do a morning run, and when I got home and set out for 10 miles, I didn’t feel like doing it after a quarter mile. It turned around and walked home.

Tuesday I ran 10.5, 7.5 of it with Pokey, around the mall and across the river to the Mt. Vernon Trail. I felt better then. I slept in again on Wednesday and by that point decided I would cut my mileage to 70 this week, rather than 80. I went up to B-CC for a GRC workout, my first track workout in more than two months. Dickson, Wiggy and Karl and I stuck together for some thousands on the track. I had planned to start out at 3:10 and widdle my way down by a second on each successive repeat for a total of eight, but after the first I reconsidered. I hit 3:07 even, taking it pretty easy. I tried to take the next one easier, but hit 3:06. I hit 3:05 for the next two, hanging back as the other guys went at it. Everyone asked if I wanted to lead the next one, and I eventually gave it a shot. 3:05 again. I felt pretty successful, hitting the majority of my 1ks in 3:05. By that point I was completely soaked and pretty happy with my workout, but the guys goaded me into trying another one. So I gave it a shot. 100 meters in, I felt a raging cramp in my right side, so I stopped and cooled down with Murph on the grass, barefoot. It was nice, but the grass was saturated with water. After that, I didn’t much have the strength to run anymore, so I capped that day at 7.5 miles. I was really happy with the workout that I did, though. My first time running fast in a while. I feel like as much as I expanded my endurance so far this year, my speed hasn’t budged at all.

Thursday I was about to leave for my run to work, when the fire alarm went off in my building. Wanting to live, I left immediately, but before I changed into my running clothes. Unfortunate, because by the time I was allowed back in the building, it was 8:45 and the temperature was well over 80, with the humidity raging. I headed off and took some sport beans about 3.75 in and followed that up with some water on the Custis Trail. I wasn’t exactly cruising, but I was moving somewhat. When I got to the Mt. Vernon Trail I was pretty worn, and by the time I crossed the TR Bridge and passed through the Kennedy Center parking lot onto the Rock Creek trail, I was fading quickly. When I got to the volleyball courts, I stopped completely, and could go no farther. I walked the last three miles to my office, shirtless, sweaty, meandering along the sidewalk through throngs of tourists. I hope I gave them something to think about…

Throughout the run I had Warren Zevon's "Poor, Poor Pitiful Me" in my head.

I spent the rest of the day in a daze, then came home and did a very easy 3.5 (8:00 pace) around the Fisherman’s loop.

Friday morning I got up in an attempt to run a road workout on the Greenwich mile. I got to the start an changed into my shoes and set out on what I planned to be 1xmile, 1x2mile, 2xmile. I hit the first half in 2:33, but I dropped my effort substantially in the third quarter. I picked it up for the last quarter, but managed only 5:22, and I aborted the workout. I’ll run this evening with Melissa, hopefully not sweating on her, and get a few miles in before I head to Reno for a conference. I am sad to miss the Rockville 8k Saturday evening, but I’m going to have quite a training opportunity for three whole days and parts of two others-

Saturday- 63-102 Blazing sunshine

Sunday 62-98 Sunny, breezy and hot

Monday 59-95 Sunny and breezy

Tuesday 58-92 A day full of sunshine

Wednesday 57-93 Plenty of sun
The humidity tops out at 20%.

I wonder if anyone who compiles this information for Websites thinks about how the weather summaries look when viewed in a series like that, if it affects their choice of descriptors...

It’s been a good week to ease up on my training, because I am going to do some damage to my legs early in the morning and in the evening the next five days…

My former coworker’s daughter seems to like running in the heat more than I do. But, as I am reminded every day, it's not the heat, it's the humidity.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Out of gas

I stayed home Friday night to rest up for my Saturday morning long run. Turns out I rested too much. I ate dinner at 8:30 and planned to run at 6:30 am, but I ended up sleeping until 9:50. With Emily Ward coming to visit any time in the afternoon, I scurried off to run, discounting the significance of my 13.5-hour fast.

I was planning a 20-mile run—10 miles through Vienna to a point on the W&OD Trail, then an eight mile tempo on the trail heading east, which would deposit me close to home so I could cool down two miles. It was raining lightly and about 75 degrees, maybe it went up three or four degrees from when I would have started but the difference was negligible. I averaged 7:30s on my way to the trail (a paved trail, but one with half-mile markers) and felt pent up. When I got to the first half-mile mark I stopped and wrung out my saturated socks, I felt I might as well at least start off not feeling like I have sponges inside my shoes.

Things went well for a while- I hit 5:45 for the first mile, 5:40 for the second, and 2:47 for the first half of the third mile. Then I got really tired. I started to slow down to 6:00 pace for a while. Then 6:30, almost like clockwork. I figured the point was then to get home- if I felt like going the extra two miles when I got there, great. As I approached the bridge over the beltway, 2.5 miles from home, I felt fine. When I crossed the bridge, I did not. I kept going for a while until I reached Idylwood Park. I sat down on a bench, but only felt marginally better. I lied down, felt better still. Then I put my feet up on the back of the bench and closed my eyes, and felt alright. After a few minutes, I opened my eyes and saw furiously moving pine branches swaying in the breeze set against the gray sky. It looked like an avant garde expression of resilience in the face of adversity. It told me I should get up and go home so that a. I don’t die out there and b. I am back in time for Emily Ward’s visit. I got up and started to walk, but I barely got anywhere before I realized it was a losing effort. I saw a woman I had passed while I was nearing the end of my run and thought I might see if I could hitchhike home, because walking seemed like a bad idea. I presented my case, and she was skeptical of a stranger, as I well understood. I started to walk away and she called for me and asked if I had been the person lying on the bench. I said that was me. She then told me to get in the car and there’s no way I’d be strong enough to overpower her. With a chuckle, I got in and upon arriving home, didn’t want to move for a while. I managed 15.5 miles of running, but I fell far shorter than that in my mind.

I suppose I should start practicing with sport beans… I’ll be sure to pick some up before I go to Reno and attempt my long run where I will be relatively unfamiliar with my surroundings. I can’t have this happen again anyway…Three months until Chicago.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Boring, hot, week


Started running with Murphy, Marren, Sloane and some guy named Jonathon. We took the towpath from the store to the Chain Bridge, then up the trail and on to Glebe, then followed that to the Custis Trail into Rosslyn. The Ms and I went to TR Island, Jake withdrew and Murphy and I ran around for a while. I briefly bumped into Susan Tremblay. Murphy then headed back and I ran another half hour to hit 18 miles in two hours. I knew that was the last time I’d have great weather for a run for a while.


Slept a little late and tried out the Fairview Park loop. I started to get a little thirsty toward the end. Then I tossed in an Idylwood Filler to total 14 for the day and 90 for the previous week (transposing the long run).


I took another shot at the New Virginia Manor loop that failed so miserably last week. It went better this time, and despite climbing temperatures between 10-11 am I averaged 6:50s for 8.25. In the afternoon I did an easy Timber to total a little more than 14.5.


I was back to work and started off with a seven mile Park loop, pretty humid, in the morning. The evening was an easy Idylwood Filler.


I stayed late at work and started my medium run at 9:15 p.m. I did a Double Pimmit but forgot the loop through the townhouses, so I only had 12.6, but I averaged low 7s.


Another Park seven in the morning and a 7.25 mile loop I am calling a Willamsburg in the evening.It's been hot for a while now, breaking 102 a few times, 95 four days in a row. I am getting used to it, though. I've been running with water bottles to try to get used to drinking for the marathon. I'm not crazy about it, though.


Slept in and didn’t run in the morning. Came home and planned to do a Westmoreland, but peeled off on Idylwood and ran around Virginia and the Pinecastle loops for 7.5.


Finished off another 90 mile week with 6.5 easy miles with Emily Ward at Walney Park in Centreville. Great soft trails there, a 3+ mile loop I did twice. Emily stopped after 5, I got a little more. Lots of couples having formal photos taken. It was cool, a little humid, but pleasant.

In the evening I ran a Barbour, trying to stay around 8:00 pace but eventually averaging 7:30.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Let's see what these legs can do...

Closing in on the end of my first 90 mile week, I was eager to see what I could do in a 5k race- shorter than any run I have done in almost a month. Elyse suggested a race in Alexandria, which was then moved to the George Mason campus.

I got off to a bad start by sleeping in to 9:20, which meant I couldn't do my five mile morning run. I guess it also meant I was late for work, but that is less than relevant. So, I had to smash 11 miles into the evening. I took the Metro out to Vienna with some Lululemon runners and we ended up taking a cab to the campus. I got a three-mile or so warmup in, and got to the line. Of course, being a Pacers race there were at least six of them there, because what better way to give a bonus than to stack a race with your own employees? I knew I wasn't going to be running anything incredible- I hadn't even done a real (productive, that is) workout in a few weeks, but I hoped to at least hang around and get under 16, just to show a little improvement since my even-splitted 16:08 in early June. The gun went off and the pack sped away, and I let them go. Perhaps stupidly, but I didn't think I would gain too much falling apart early. I came through the mile in 5:06, and was feeling pretty good about that. I was hurting, lungwise, but otherwise I felt able. Two guys were ahead of me who looked vulnerable- a tall guy and an asian fellow in a navy blue top. I surged past them both on one uphill and focused on catching a Pacer who was straggling. It was a rolling course, and I was keeping my legs' dexterity, for the most part, though I wasn't driving ahead enough. The second mile was 5:17- not good at all. I thought I was at least holding 5:10 pace, despite the hills and relative no-man's land. At this point, we were heading west, right into the sun. I could barely see ahead of me- I just followed the silhouette of the straggler and ran away from the breathing behind me. As we closed in on the end, I was not feeling too great, especially when I realized my third mile was another 5:17. But, I heard the dude behind me start to marshal some strength for a kick, so I figured as long as I was there, I might as well keep him behind me, so I surged in and held him off by a second. 16:08 again. I found out later that he had beaten me by about 3:50 at the half marathon I did in Arlington in May. So, even though that race was a disappointment, it felt good to improve relative to him.
I got a three-mile cooldown in, looked for the people with whom I came, but saw nobody. I went for another two miles, and realized they ditched me. SOBs...

Anyway, although I wanted to go under 16, and given the wonderful weather it might have been my best shot, I am content to have at least maintained my speed from the last race, considering the last four weeks were 90, 86, 85 and 80.

Worst Races #8

St. Barnabas 5k, 2001- I spent the 2001 summer trying to break 16 for 5k, in hopes of walking on at Miami. This was one of my many, many failures, and perhaps my most painful. I paced myself well at the beginning, running well behind Mike Diano, and coming through the mile at 5:10. Then, it just got worse. I slowed down when I felt my strength totally sapping, and twice I stopped and stood there, unable to see straight. People passed me left and right, and I struggled in and saw my dad, who had come to see me run. It was emotionally throttling for me to know he saw such a dramatic collapse. This wasn't a race where I took it out too hard and burned out- My approach was reasonable! I was prudent! I was a failure.

I finished 13th, in 17:32. I had worse races that year, but after I acknowledged that I was struggling with anxiety problems and lowered my athletic expectations. Had I recognized my anxiety issues that summer, I would have taken a full semester away from college and skipped the Miami fiasco, or gone right to Richmond instead.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Wednesday morning I woke up more excited than I had been in a while- the temperature was in the 60s and the humidity was imperceptible. I ran an easy 6.8 extended Park in the morning and a 6.3 Pimmit Hills in the evening, neither of which were taxing.
I still slept in on Thursday and only got a 4.25 morning run, but reversing the Fisherman's loop made me realize just how hilly Fisher Road is. I complemented that with a 5.75 afternoon run around Capitol Hill.
I will take it very easy for my morning run Friday before the road race at George Mason.
The reprieve from the heat and humidity came at just the right time to refresh my enthusiasm for running high (to me) mileage. I'm on pace to hit 90 this week, and though it isn't the best course of action before a 5k, the fact that it won't be sweltering makes it a good chance for a hard effort.
It's going to get hot and humid again early next week, and I am not sure if I will opt to move my long run to Saturday to dodge it, or at least hit it on the early side. I would like to double on Saturday, because I would like to stay home that evening and relax.