"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

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Chinese uphill

I was ill equipped for this long run. The snow on Saturday meant no long run at Old Angler's Inn, so we went to the Line. I headed out with Dave, Klim, Karl, Sloane, Towpath Murphy and we met up with Jake Marren along the way. My fatigue was managable for a while, but after about nine miles it started to affect me. Here was the mix of failings:

  • Rest- I went to a friend's birthday party pretty late on Saturday night, and didn't sleep too comfortably.
  • Nutrition- I didn't eat much after 8 pm Saturday, though I managed to have a banana, an orange and a few bites of an Odwalla bar when I woke up. It still wasn't enough.
  • Hydration- I had a few glasses of water, but had no water bottle for the metro ride to Rossyln to meet Dave.
  • Clothing- I wore a new pair of astro pants. In my other pairs, the ankles have some elastic, which keeps them tight and prevents flapping. this pair did not have elastic, and the amount of flapping constantly worked the zippers lose on the backs of the legs, and I worried that the seems would tear, so I seemed to have to stop every few minutes to close the zippers and that left me behind everyone else
  • Digestion- It just wasn't happening. Two bathrooms along the route did help.

By 10 miles I had dropped back, thanks to another pant-zipping fiasco, and was pretty far behind everyone else. By mile 11 and 12, I was depleted, and my stride had shortened significantly. It was not fun, but it gave me some mental preparation for suffering and the impetus to further examine why the run had gone sour and how many of the variables were under my control.

With the additional running before in the parking lot and the weaving we did on trails, I figure the distance at a short 14 miles, in 1:40.

Then, I ordered too much food when I was hungry at Einstein Bros. and had an egg and turkey sausage sandwich AND a pizza bagel, the latter of which was delicious but had a bit of garlic. The turkey sausage has ceased to be good. I also drank Powerade too fast and felt bloated the rest of the day.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

How to improve

Stress, adapt, recover

I'm not going to get any better unless I refine my training. Usually this means running faster, and any hope of doing that on Saturday spirited away when I saw how quickly the snow was accumulating and how low the temperature was remaining. I had planned to run 10 miles on the Fairfax Cross County Trail then take in the George Mason Invitational, at which Richmond was running, but an early e-mail from Steve alerted me that the team would not be making the trip because of the uncertain weather. Though I was disappointed to not be able to see the Spiders race and chat with Steve, I needed more sleep, so I promptly went back to bed until 1, which I hadn't done in a remarkable length of time.

By the time I woke, I saw the accumulation, and knew my revised plan for a hard run in Falls Church was short lived. I suited up for 15 degrees and headed out on a new route, and out and back starting in the neighborhood where I got lost on Tuesday. The great thing about snow, especially in northern Virginia, is that it is a deterrent to drivers, leaving the roads practically deserted. The problem is none of the roads were plowed. I worked this out to be a bonus, because my feet where hitting soft surfaces and all the traction I didn't have gave me a chance to economize my running form- and in a place where I used to yell at runners who I saw exhibiting bad form earlier in the decade. Running on slippery footing is the easiest way to see how bad your own form is because your progress will be inversely proportional to your wasted energy. You learn quickly, especially on hills, what motion goes to waste. The wind didn't help things, but made me want to push more.

By the time I was getting really adept at running in the snow, it was time to come in. I would have liked to have run longer, more than 9.75 miles, but the elements were starting to get to me. My eyelids were freezing closed, and the awful headband I got for winning the Jingle Bell Run for Arthritis in 2006, which I was using to cover my neck, was freezing and starting to scratch and chap all sides of my neck.

Despite my increasing efficiency, I averaged only 7:40 pace for 9.75 miles, but it was a good workout. It also cemented Virginia Lane as my sweet spot to run around Falls Church. Everyone should identify one such a stretch, no matter how short, where they can seem to do no wrong while running. If you reach it on a bad run, you seemingly always perk up and regain your composure. If you're having a great run, then look out world. In Pittsburgh, it's in Shadyside, along Emerson Street, a block from my old apartment.
In Richmond, it's around the Collegiate School.

That said, I can't wait to run on dry ground and see if my form improvement "sticks."

Friday, January 29, 2010

Virtual running

While riding a stationary bike at an Orlando hotel in 2003, I first encountered virtual exercise. The bike had a screen in front that displayed landscapes that matched the resistance programmed into the bike. Suffice to say, it was ridiculous, because the display never changed my perception that I wasn't going anywhere. The display was also pretty unrealistic, just some flat-looking colors. Pretty awful.

Google Earth and Streetview have improved on the virtual travailing experience, but I enjoy them not to pretend I am exercising outside, but to see places that I am unable to run at the time. Mapmyrun.com, which I use to, well, map my runs, has a "flyover" option that follows the path you map. It takes a while to load and doesn't take you close to the street level, but it is automatic.

I just discovered Streetview a few weeks ago, a mere three years after it was introduced to the world. I found it only because I zoomed too closely on a map and I damn near thought I broke the Internet. Then I realized I could navigate as though I was walking (or running) the streets. This has been an amazing help as I compile my lists of favorite places to run, because I can take myself to the loops visually. If I constantly click the forward and turning arrows, I can virtually run loops from which I am hundreds of miles. It's good for reminiscing If I can figure out how to capture an image, I'll be set. It's also helpful because when mapping a run in unfamiliar places, I can check to see what a turn looks like, so I will recognize it when it comes time to make a pivotal change in direction.

In other news, I feel amazingly better today. I don't even feel as tired as I normally do, which is remarkable, especially considering the several times I woke up. There's no better day than just after getting over an illness. I plan to run a Park 6 tonight, pretty easily, and cash early and watch the Milrose Games on television.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

You get your way, Emily, but not because I'm smart

Well, Emily Ward, you got your way. I'm taking some time off, but not because I am smart and listening to you, but because I'm actually quite stupid.

No, I didn't hurt myself running.

Yes, much like the rest of my life, my reckless diet has betrayed me.

Last night after the "workout," I inflamed Dave and my tastebuds by talking about McDonald's. In previous week, Mike Smith had done the same to me but we hadn't followed up on it.

Well, I woke up several times that night with paralyzing indigestion. What in the world is this? Am I an adult? I need Tums! I have none! Ugh.

Needless to say, my plan to run to work ended up like many of my morning run schemes.

I spent most of the day acknowledging what I ignored before- I shouldn't be eating fast food. If I am serious about losing weight and running efficiently, I need to cut out the worthless foods I eat.

"Anyone who's ever built an empire cowered in the floor in pain where you are right now."

So, I will take today off. Depending on how I feel, I may take tomorrow off, too. Then when I am back in gear, it's time to eat for nutrition, not expedience.

An artist's rendering of me at work.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Never go to a track workout without a watch

A lot of my effort to get a good night's sleep Tuesday night was moot at midnight, when my watch beeped at the top of the hour. It was right next to my head on the bedside table, so I picked it up, turned to alert off and threw it at my gym bag, thinking in my sleepy state that it landed in the bag and I needn't worry about it when I left for work.
Oh dear, I was wrong.
We had a small crowd- me, Klim, Karl and Dave, with the promise of Wiggy doing a distance run on the track. The workout was 6x800, and Karl talked me into trying it out, though I initially tended toward running with Joe. His argument was solid- there are a lot of times I'd come to the line at a race feeling awful, so I should get used to running in that condition.
The other three planned to start at 2:20, which is ridiculously fast for me right now, so I lagged behind and counted when the first of that trio crossed the line to determine my time. 2:29 for the first. 200 meter jog. I got a little precotious this time and left when they did, but after 250 meters was struggling for air. I finished in 2:35 but was done. No need to continue that mockery of a real workout. I ran a few miles with Wiggy while the others finished up their workout, then joined them for the cooldown.
Then Dave and I went to McDonald's. That was my third mistake...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Things got a little better Tuesday. I went out for a 10 mile run, Pimmit-Idylwood, with plans to try an alternative to the end on the W&OD trail by going through a parallel neighborhood. I started feeling a little sluggish, and I took a a few splits when I hit different intersections and later found out I was averaging 6:17 for the first six miles. I picked it up to 5:50 pace for the rest of the run, though once I entered the new neighborhood I forgot the names of the streets on which I was supposed to turn. I ended up running more than a mile extra, but kept the pace up. My legs didn't hurt at all, which was great. I felt excellent from about five miles on.

Monday, January 25, 2010


A day after I felt great running my long run, I feel as though I have no reason to be confident in anything. I ran with Melissa after work around the mall, three miles on my own, four with her, two on my own, and not only was my left leg pain back, but my right hip has started to feel uneasy. I'm worried enough now to schedule an appointment with an orthopedist for next Monday, when I'm at the hospital anyway to be fitted for my oral appliance (read: retainer?) that will help me not choke on my tonsils when I sleep. Admittedly, I felt pretty cruddy all day, and didn't get a real breakfast so I was pretty weak when I ran. Afterward, I hit the treadmill to walk backwards for a while and stretch my legs out, and after a half mile of that I was totally depleted and lightheaded. I'm hitting bed early tonight and planning to make a huge omlette in the morning with the pan my brothers gave me for Christmas. It's capable of some pretty amazing things. I'm running with Alex and some fellows who live in Maryland tomorrow, so we'll see how things feel before I decide on a workout for Wednesday.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

You there- cabbie! Take me running!

Since I was completely wrong about which weekend Matt Ciccone was visiting (and when I was going to run with him in the city), I was now free to join the GRC fellows for a long run on Sunday. Jake Marren suggested Greenbelt Park in Maryland, and when I realized how close that was to the College Park metro station, I thought that was just a splendid idea. I noted it was also close to New Carrollton, though a slightly more complex route, so I wrote directions from both.
I woke up a little later than I would have liked, and thought that trying to transfer to a Green Line metro to College Park was risky, so I took the Orange all the way to New Carrollton, confident in my directions. The trouble started when I couldn't seem to find a road sig confirming that I was on Veterans Parkway. Had I written a few cross streets to look for, I would have been fine, because I crossed one- Ellin. But, I didn't know that was right and turned around and continued on the shoulder of Route 50, which was a terrible idea. When I saw signs for the Landover Metro Center, I knew I was out of my element. I found a Giant grocery store, locked my bike to a pole and caught a taxi idling in the parking lot. I realized only minutes later that I easily could have taken my bike in the cab, especially when I realized how far I had deviated from my course. I arrived to find Klim, Marren, Jake III, Jarrin, Karl, Murphy, Frank, Bain and I can't remember who else ready to go. Three six-mile loops would probably be too much, but two loops, an extra mile detour on another trail and 15 minutes around the nearby high school would suffice for 15 miles. I stuck to the front, not sure how I would feel compared to Saturday's meltdown, but I felt surprisingly good. I hadn't run the kind of quick, steep hills we saw a lot of today for a while, so I took some time to adjust, but it was a good run. I realized at the end how tired I was, but a strawberry waffle at Plato's Diner in College Park helped that. I was really happy with the trail selection, and it honestly didn't feel like 13 miles of running, despite what my watch said. Murphy kindly took me back to Landover to recover my bike, which I managed to park about a half mile from the Landover Metro station.
The best part was a total absence of pain or discomfort in my left leg. That's real progress, and I'm excited about it. It was weird that running 5:08 mile pace felt more comfortable than strolling along, but I didn't feel a bit of pain while running hard.
I'll shoot to maintain 65 miles again this week. With the conclusion foggy on what caused my leg weirdness, there's no use pushing too much mileage now. I'm going to take a day off every two weeks, but also try to not lose too much mileage in that day, so that will give me a medium long run every two weeks, but will also get a minor scaleback in mileage. That should help keep me from overdoing it (maybe) and give me a day of no running in which I will write about something totally unrelated to running, to reward fellows like Dave Wilson and Jason Beery whose interest in running rivals my interest in baseball, but who read this blog nonetheless. Thank you to all of you who fit in that category, you feed my vanity that people care about what I am writing.

Two unremarkable runs

For the 17th or so time this month, I failed in my attempt to run in the morning on Friday, even to do a simple five miles, so the task fell to the evening, when I was a few steps away from flopping in bed and going to sleep when I got home. Fortunately for my training plan, I had to return movies to the Falls Church library (which is outstanding, by the way. I did an altered Park loop. It was dark, boring, and over quickly enough. I erred, however, in staying up to watch the last Conan O'Brien-hosted Tonight Show, because I really needed sleep.

Saturday I went out to the GRC store for the group run. The weird feeling in my leg went back to my left hip, which just felt like a joint was askew. Coupled with my fatigue, within three miles I couldn't handle the pace and dropped back, and then started to surge to catch up to the pack and then fall back when I got bored. We went out on the Capital Crescent Trail and came back on a series of neighborhood trails in Northwest I wouldn't mind help identifying, and they were great trails, I just wasn't having a good day. Had Dave Wilson not been visiting from Pittsburgh, I really wouldn't have had much to which I would look forward, and even that was so far away at the time. Then I remembered Qboda had breakfast burritos, and there's a Qdoba a few blocks from the store, so I summoned my resolve and finished the loop and devoured one.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Worst Races #9

Old Dominion Athletic Conference Championships 2000-If I was a horse, they would have shot me after this one. I ran six races my freshman year because the Hampden-Sydney team only had five runners, and if I sat out we wouldn't score as a team. Coming from a heavily team-oriented background at Mt. Lebanon, I was ready to push through some discomfort and fatigue to give our team a chance in any race, but I struggle to even think of one team we beat that year. Maybe Southern Virgina? Averett? I'm pretty sure Ferrum beat us. For the conference championships, we returned to the Washington & Lee, a beautiful loops in the woods along the Maury River, where I had run 29:04 in my first race. Surely I could duplicate that, it was my first collegiate race and a difficult course. Wrong. I finished 39th in 31:46-- my worst time all season. I can't remember if I started hard, trying to actually contend with the Lynchburg and Roanoke runners (I can't believe they were once the standard to whom I looked when hoping to be fast) or if I tried to sit back and conserve my energy for later in the race. I barely remember any of the race, other than heading down onto the trail from the soccer field.
I just felt really bad that my mom had driven all the way from Pittsburgh to watch me fail so miserably. To make matters worse, we didn't even field a full team, because our second runner sprained his ankle and had to drop out, so we didn't even beat Emory and Henry. It was the end of a nightmarish season, but at least all the running I would do would be free of Bubba, whose bio at Sewanee conspicuously omits his disastrous tenure as head cross country coach at Hampden-Sydney... For a while I thought about trying to run as an individual at the southeastern regional meet, but I thought it was better to just get out of there. None of the team members came back- I transferred, Matt, Dan and Kennon graduated, I don't know what happened to Jo and Henrick, who was injured for all but two races, played rugby instead. Just as well, I suppose. There was nothing to build on there except frustration and misery.

Some runs are just boring

That includes Thursday's- an eight-mile loop from my office, around the Mall to the Mt. Vernon trail and back around. About 6:45 pace. Eh...it's over. The shirt I bought from Eastbay is too big, I'm kind of swimming in it, though the medium would have been too small. Oh well oh well

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Runs Gone Wrong #2

Welcome to Richmond

I worked myself silly the summer of 2002. I was excited for a chance to run on a Division I cross country team, even if it meant sitting out another semester because I transferred. I knew it would be a big leap from a bad Division III team, even moreso with a year off in the meantime.
I woke up at 5 am to do my long runs before it got too hot.
I dropped my 5k PR to 16:12 from 16:50. I competed well in road races and fought hard. None of that prepared me for what awaited in Richmond.
The first practice of the season was a chance for everyone to show off how much they had worked in the summer. Our initial run, I don't even remember how long it was, or how fast it really was, but it felt like the fastest run of my life. It didn't help that Kevin Rhue was trying to show all of us how fast he was. I'm going to go ahead and blame him. Trying to show everyone that I belonged, I tried to stick in there, but it rarely worked that well. The heat and humidity of our post-dawn workouts was getting to me.
I started dropping from the workouts, sooner and sooner each day. When I fell back during a long run in Pocohontas State Park, I wound up being the guy who got lost that year. It would have been one thing had I trained in Virginia all summer, so I would at least be used to the climate, but stepping up my game while also rearranging my schedule to train before dawn meant a bigger leap when I got to school.
Every morning, I felt like I had fallen down the stairs when I woke up, yet came back for more. In the middle of the second week, we ran to the field hockey field and football practice fields for a workout- 2x15 minutes hard, with five minutes rest, I think. The first interval took all of my strength to stick with the pack, by the time the second started, I was a human wasteland. I kept slowing, my feet soaked in sweat. I kept pushing, because I knew giving wouldn't help anything. I worked on the assertion that I should be pushing my body to the limit. I hadn't, however, put myself in a position where I could grow from each workout. I severely underestimated the amount I sweated, which is a lot on a normal basis, but in the new humid summer, I was killing myself by not forcing myself to drink water.
I ran my afternoon runs like the confused boy I was, trying to prove to anyone who saw me, and myself, that I belonged, hammering away. When Pat Barkhuff saw me, he implored me to slow down, but I didn't have a year of DI running under my belt to tell me that, or the firsthand knowledge of what it takes to compete at that level.
As the second 15 minutes progressed, I slowed down, yet I couldn't force myself to go any faster, which is amazing because I was going so slowly, it would normally be easier to go faster than to go slower. At some point, I got dizzy. Then I was on the ground, then Steve had run over to me, yelling to never give myself a way out, that I was ruining the workout for everyone who was still running, and probably some other things that I couldn't understand because I was so out of it.
I'm not sure if embarassed describes how I felt. Demoralized, not with the verbal lashing- it wasn't even a lashing- everything he said was meant to teach, not punish me. I was more confused than anything. How could I work so hard yet regress to far? I stumbled to finish the 15 minutes, I don't even remember how I felt when I finished, but I dragged myself back on a cooldown. I came across the then-injured Jon Lauder near the pier. I don't remember much of what he said besides "what's happening?" I kept him up-to-date on my training over the summer, so he knew what kind of work I had put in. He told me later that he thought Steve was going to cut me, and at that point, I would have agreed. I was pathetic.
The worst part was that my neglect had put me in that position. I wasn't drinking enough water, or fruit juices, so I was constantly dehydrated. I had suffered from dehydration once in high school, so I already knew it was a problem, but I didn't address it vigorously. I got on that immediately and I showed immediate improvement, which I will detail in a later post.

Baby steps...baby steps.....I said, "GOOD MORNING, GILL!"

This comeback or "go there in the first place" or whatever I am trying with running has been, for the most part, a pleasant enterprise. Save for the times I overdressed for the cold (yeah, the cold never bothered me, the sweat did), didn't moisturize the skin on my ribs when I wore Brooks t-shirts or the still mysterious hip and thigh discomfort, I've been having a great time. But there are still things I need to confront, and one that has plagued me for two years has been my digestion.
Today it interrupted what was a good, and on it's way to being a great, workout.
Six mile repeats, with a 400 jog recovery. Karl, Klim and Murat were starting around 5:00, but since I wanted to last all six, I started a little farther back with Dave, Andy and Mike. I paced pretty evenly thought 5:20 and 5:15 (well, 5:18 and 5:12) and felt so relaxed than the only strain I put on myself was holding back so I would last all six. Dave took the lead for the third and although I got ahead of myself and pushed the pace on a few stretches, we managed to dip under 5:10 to 5:08 low. During the last lap, though, even as I was speeding up, I started to feel weird things happening in my stomach, so that was it for my workout.
Despite my frustration, I am pleased to have run those times with such ease. I can't wait to get back to the point where a 4:50 mile feels like something I just do. A few miles for a cooldown and I had 10 for the day, and I'm on pace for 65 this week.

In other news, Jon Lauder's students made an e-Harmony profile for him. How sweet. And clever.

Also, in my mid-morning fatigue, I laid my head on my plastic jar of peanut butter and noticed the 7-3-09 expiration date. Maybe that explains my gastrointestinal ills, starting with the Brentwood 5k. Hmmmmmmmmmmm

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

14-hour delay

I once again planned to run in the morning- eight miles, probably a Woodley. When I woke up at 6, I tried to hide under every blanket I had and had I been of clearer mind, I would have hid under the bed. I figured if I started before noon, it would count as a morning run, but as noon approached, I just wasn't having it.
I rescheduled my dinner plans so I could go home, run and crash, because I was feeling pretty awful. I left my bag of running clothes in my office so I wouldn't have to bring anything for practice Wednesday, and thought I was pretty clever. At least until I was back in Falls Church and noticed I didn't have my house keys...because they were in my backpack...at work.
So I headed back to Capitol Hill exclusively to get my keys and head right back. By 7:45, when I got home, I decided to start running some of my neighborhood loops backwards. It doesn't work with all of them, because some stretches, like Idylwood, are kind of boring and I need to be warmed up and deadened to boredom, but it worked for Woodley. Coming down Highland is always pleasant, as is the Allan section. I managed 6:20 pace for 8.1 miles. I ended up finishing my run 14 hours after I had planned... That'll do, Pig, that'll do...

Monday, January 18, 2010

Land of Confusion

For some reason I keep invoke song lyrics as titles for posts, and I hope to put an end to that soon.
That will probably happen as soon as I decide on my fall marathon. Initially, I was gung ho about running New York, mainly after watching Run for Your Life. Then I recalled that the race is in New York, which is a huge downside. Considering the arrangements that go into running the race, it doesn't seem as attractive. Plus, it's in New York.
Watching Richmond pumped me up for a competitive, but not overwhelming, race in a city I enjoy. Seeing Molz, Emily, Watson, and the Hannay race fired me up a lot, but unfortunately, it's the same weekend as the NCAA Regional meet, and I may want to watch Richmond race.
Other options include Chicago, in early October, which a number of GRC guys are doing; and Philadelphia, in late November. Both of those offer pretty fast courses, though I was less than thrilled with Philly when I ran with Lauren in 2007. Of course, Marine Corps is the easiest to reach and I like 80% of the course, but that last five miles is pretty boring.

Saturday morning, I Metroed and biked out to Joketon to the Difficult Run Stream Valley Trail, part of Fairfax County's cross county trail. There were a few paved stretches, but for the most part, the six-mile stretch I ran was dirt and wonderful. It was muddy at times, but that comes when a lot of snow melts.
It took me a while to get in a rhythm, but I enjoyed it. Once I figured out exactly where the trail went, I just kind of enjoyed a longish run in the woods. My watch battery died and I have yet to replace it, so I have no idea how long it took, but time was not my concern.

I took the Metro out to Landover to watch Klim, Karl, Mike and Pat Reeves run the 3k on an indoor track, and was delighted to see part of the Richmond team up there for the race. Only a few distance runners I knew- Nicol, Beth, Emma, Carter and Rachman, but I got to catch up with Lori and see Chris York run the 3k. Karl and Jake did pretty well in the fast heat, and watching them race was fun, and the experience told me three things.
1- I was glad I didn't decide to join them for this race. Not only am I out of shape for racing, but I hate indoor track air. I have never handled indoor races well, and the air is a big part of it. I am totally uncentered, even watching a race, indoors.
2-I do want to race soon, if just to get the feeling of competing again
3-There's no room for extra body weight if you want to have an efficient form.This was exaggerated coming around those tight turns, but it's a huge factor.

I hit 60 miles for the week, despite taking Tuesday off when my leg hurt. It hasn't bothered me while I run lately, but when I walk is a little different.

Sunday- I got a text from Towpath at 3:45 that he wasn't feeling well and wouldn't be running with the GRC in the morning, and I wasn't motivated enough to try to get a ride from someone else, so I slept in and waited for the rain to abate. When it didn't I decided to just go for it. I tried out a new route that took me north, almost to the Potomac River, up a steep hill from the Chain Bridge onto Glebe and back south. Unfortunately, I missed the turn and added about 2.5 miles.
My clothes were soaked and got pretty heavy, and I was tired by the time I finished and rather hungry. Even so, I am glad I didn't take the long trip for a run, the guys who went were pretty miserable.

Monday- Ran 10 miles at the Line with a bunch of GRC dudes, had a chance to get to know Patrick Reeves a little, whom I've been told I resemble a good bit. Those people are right. It's a little weird, to be honest, but he's a good fellow. I ran hungry, wishing I had somehow capitalized on my desire for a cheesesteak the night before. I still want one.

Friday, January 15, 2010

I'm gettin' jacked, I'm breakin' myself, I can't believe they taking Charlie's health

I planned to do a six-mile tempo on the track at George Mason HS next door on Wednesday, but after warming up and running to the stadium, I found the facility locked. Oh, piddles! I ended up just tacking on an eight-mile Hollywood loop instead to get 10.

Thursday, I ran the 8.2-mile loop around the Mall and Mt. Vernon trail that Laura introduced me to, but first I warmed up with five minutes on an exercise bike in my office's gym. It helped immensely, and I didn't feel any pain.

The hip/thigh issue doesn't seem to be getting worse, and does bother me so much, so I am feeling good about that. What I am not enjoying is a general feeling of being worn down. I resolved to get a good night sleep every day this week, but I have failed spectacularly. By Friday morning I am a human wasteland. I planned to run to work on Friday, and left clothes and toiletries in the office, but when I woke up at 6:45, I barely managed to reset my alarm for an hour later. Suffice to say, the run didn't happen.

Tonight, after I run eight miles around Falls Church or McLean, I will sleep until I wake up, uninterrupted by an alarm. Hopefully that will help things, at least for a day.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

2009 in review -- part one -- racing

Inspired by Jake, I am looking at my 2009 in running. I don't like what I see.
Also, I started this two weeks ago and didn't finish.

I failed miserably in regards to my racing- only once being satisfied with my effort in competition. Running itself fared a bit better. I'll save that for the new year, to start off optimistically.

I started with intent to put dents in my two-year-old 10-mile PR, with races in North Park and Washington, DC. My Schenley Park tempos were great, as I averaged 5:17s for five mile, hilly courses in cold weather. Training with Steve Strelick was great- he kept a solid pace and was fast. At the Spring Thaw, however, I got too aggressive early on and after a 5:15 second mile, I began to wear down in the fifth mile and after a decent first half (27:39), I struggled in the second half, giving up the last mile to finish with a 29:04 split to finish 56:42, almost a minute slower than my PR, which I set running alone the second half. My second attempt at the distance ended a few days before the Cherry Blossom race, when I woke up Thursday morning sounding like a car without a muffler.

My 5k racing started off poorly- showing up late for Just a Short Run and racing without a warmup. My first two miles were great, averaging 4:58 pace, I think, but my third mile -- when I lost focus in the long stretch -- was horrendous, and I wound up at 16:15. In April, my 4:42 first mile in Scituate, Mass. didn't do much good when traffic and a train on the course slowed me in the third mile when I again finished 16:15 (right). I took the Race for the Cure too easily in the first mile, hoping to run a massive negative split where I had been worn out the year before. I ended up running a mediocre time in no-man's land (above).

I planned to do the bare minimum to win the Ohio Valley Hospital 5k on my birthday, given the wear and tear I had put on my body the night before, but worries about high school kids who didn't make the WPIAL final provoked me to be more aggressive in the beginning and put myself in a position to be easily picked off by a kicker -- luckily there were none. And I won money for running 17:15. Kind of embarrassing, but I still won. I managed to cut a little time off at Kevin Gatons, to 16:07, but I wasn't competitive in the last mile and was even further from my runaway 2007 victory pace. I let people get ahead of me on a downhill, one of my weaknesses.

The Twin Boro race seemed like a great opportunity to recapture some "just plain fast," but that was before it was scheduled for 1:30 pm. Steve Strelick was in New York, so I figured I wouldn't have to deal with someone that fast, but an NA kid who runs at Penn State showed and dropped me from the beginning. The heat and humidity hammered me and the almost total lack of shade caused the sun to just sap all of my vitality. Another 16:07, and the NA kid broke my course record. Michelle told me the following Friday that the Riverview Park 5k was that afternoon, and I figured, why not race it? The problem was that I had biked to work and would not finish my work until after the bus left, forcing me to bike home. I sprinted, until a car in East Liberty forced me into a parked car, badly bruising my forearm. Michelle picked me up and we idled in traffic from the arts festival, pride week and Pirates game and made it to the course three minutes before the gun. I rushed in with a check, grabbed a number and thanked a high school kid for singing the national anthem so slowly. With enough adrenaline pumping, I decided to just burn everyone from the gun. I did it. Then the Penguins won the Stanley Cup. Good day, besides the bruised arm.

I was actually satisfied with the Father's Day 5k (left), despite a mishap. Steve dropped me in the first mile, but I started to claw my way back up to him after the turnaround. Shortly after, though, we hit the wall of walkers headed out way and had to practically jog. He said we should just jog it, but I told him to keep going and push me, because I wanted to run a fast time. He thought there was no way we'd run a fast time, but he obliged me, then dropped me, but we both broke 16, and I ran 15:47, the best I had ever felt after losing a race and not PRing.

That race gave me confidence to shoot for sub 15:25 at the Brentwood race, and I planned to start conservatively and hammer on the way back. I ended up starting slow and getting slower. I had no energy, despite holding back at 5:05 pace (compared to a dozen or so people who ran 4:50). I hemorrhaged places in the race, and after mistiming my kick to try to catch Larry Quinn, I was totally gassed. I wound up 25th place, more than 80 seconds off of my goal, compared to 2008's third place in 16:00.

I recovered slightly with a guts-out race at the BLAZIN 5k in Penn Hills, just pushing from the very beginning and totally wearing myself out in the heat and sun. I managed to run faster alone on the hills and in the heat than I did in the competition-aided Brentwood race.

When Ryan Sheehan showed up at the Run for Roch, it let me off the hook in terms of realistically trying to win. He jogged a 15:39 in trainers and a long-sleeved shirt, and I went with him for a half mile, while Timmy Wu fought everyone behind me. I ran 16:25, as I had a year before, but this time I was a lot more relaxed and not as serious about the race, since I had to drive to Dave and Jess' wedding right after.
I had another race mishap in Wheeling at the Debbie Green 5k. Despite my poor training the week before and the heat during the race, I ran intelligently, picking it up in the second mile and reeling in Africans, who puzzlingly dropped out when I approached. That opened a huge stretch between Jeff Weiss and me, and by the time we rounded the last corner, he was so far ahead that I couldn't see him through the sweat in my eyes. I did, however, see a large arch of balloons over the street, so I sprinted to it and stopped. Thinking I had crossed the finish line. I hadn't. After standing around for a while, people started yelling at me, I looked back and saw people coming at me and sprinted in, just holding off the women's winner and former Miami runner Jerry Claunch and adding at least 20 seconds to my time.

The next weekend was another fiasco, this time at the Brookline Breeze. After mowing down three guys in the second mile, I followed the second place guy down the wrong way, and by the time we realized it we were far behind. I only managed to catch a few people who passed me in the meantime, finishing fourth in 16:25.

Two weeks later, after a long, successful training week, I bombed the Run Around the Square in 17:02, a race I so easily dominated last year. I should have rabbited the first mile for Remix to give him a good workout, but I didn't think of it until it was too late.
I had a measure of redemption at the Steelers race, where I ran a second faster than I had the year before and held off Paul Zimmerman for the third straight year. I was fast out of the start, running with Fitzgerald through the mile in 4:50. I then started to push it, and he sat on me until it was time to go. After running by myself, I was gassed and he, Steve and Remix passed me, though Steve caught him at the end. The Richmond alumni race also went better- 16:15, compared to 16:37 in 2008.

I had planned to run a 5k in Sewickley instead of IKEA, but it was cancelled, so I instead wasted my time and knees with the Ohio Township 5k, with a blazing 18:10.
After a month of partial time off, I ran an even-split race in Shadyside, but lost in the last mile.

Then I moved, took time off, started up again and ran some pretty awful races as I got back into shape.
Alex convinced me to run the Candy Cane City 5k in Chevy Chase, where I started the race with both shoelaces untied (right) and stopped twice to tie them, finishing in 18:33.

A few weeks later, I ran 17:33 at the Pittsburgh YMCA Turkey Trot, and 17:08 at the Ryan Jobes 5k.

I didn't race many 10ks, just the Great Race, Martha's Run, where I ran away in the first mile and had a big cushion at the end to win my second title there, Genesis, where I switched at the last minute from the 5k and ran 4:42 and 9:45 for the first mile and two mile splits to win easily.

By the time I got to the Great Race in September, I was running three or four times a week and was amazed to have broken 34 (33:39).
The Pittsburgh Marathon relay dominated my spring training. The Hounds had never lost a relay, and I was focusing my training to optimize the 7.1 mile first leg. I practiced the leg as tempo runs and managed 5:30s with traffic on the roads, but two days before the race I crashed my bike and bruised most of my ribs. The first three miles, around 5:00 pace, were okay because the adrenaline covered up my rib pain, but as it wore off I felt every breath and started looking like a guy who was trying to race with freshly bruised ribs.

Generally, I was in good shape this year, but I rarely put that together for good races. I probably erred by switching my Genesis race and could have contended for the win and a fast time there, and wish I had entered the BAA 5k before the Boston Marathon, so I could have had good competition when I was in peak condition. My exhaustion caused by my sleep apnea got worse this year, but I have high hopes for my lifestyle once I can have my tonsils removed.

I clearly raced a lot, but after a certain point I knew my plans were somewhat scrapped, so I just decided to have fun with it. In a more serious approach, I would have eliminated the following-Spring Thaw, Just a Short Run, Patterson, Ohio Valley, Riverview Park, Blazin, Brookline Breeze, Run Around the Square, Ohio Township.
I would have run the Genesis 5k if I couldn't have run the BAA 5k, and I would have run Cherry Blossom.
Racing summary (* serious efforts):

Feb 28 Spring Thaw 10 mile, North Park, Pittsburgh 3rd 56:42*
March 28 Just a Short Run 5k North Park, Pittsburgh 1st, 16:15*
April 12 Martha's Run 10k Mt. Lebanon, Pittsburgh 1st: 34:58
April 19 James Patterson 5k, Scituate, Mass. 1st, 16:16*
April 25 Genesis 10k, North Side, Pittsburgh, 1st 34:18*
May 3 Pittsburgh Marathon Relay, leg 1- 7.1 miles - 2nd 38:42*
May 10 Race for the Cure 5k, Schenley Park, Pittsburgh 3rd 16:30
May 16 Ohio Valley Hospital 5k, 1st 17;15
May 25 Kevin Gatons 5k, Greensburg 4th, 16:08*
June 7 Twin Boro 5k, Oakmont, 2nd, 16:07*
June 12 Riverview Park 5k, Pittsburgh, 1st 17:06
June 21 Fathers Day 5k, 2nd 15:47*
July 4 Brentwood, 25th, 16:49*
July 10 Blazin 5k 1st, 16:27
July 18 Run for Central Park 4 mile did not register, 22:12
July 25 Run for Roch 5k, 2nd 16:25
Aug 1 Debbie Green 5k, 7th 15:56*
Aug 8 Brookline Breeze 5k, 4th, 16:25
Aug 22 Run Around the Square 5k, 3rd 17:03
Aug 30 Steelers 5k, 6th 15:44*
Sept. 5 Richmond Alumni Race, 12th, 16:15*
Sept. 12 Ohio Township 5k, 1st 18:10
Sept. 27 Great Race 10k, 16th 33:39
Oct 3 Run Shadyside 5k, 2nd 16:41
Nov. 7, Candy Cane City 5k, 23rd 18:33
Nov. 26 YMCA Turkey Trot 5k, 14th 17:33
Nov. 26 Gutbuster 4 mile, 4th, no idea, pretty slow
Dec. 20 Ryan Jobes 5k 4th, 17:08

Runs Gone Wrong #3

Carnegie (November 1996)

This was early on in my running career, right after the state championships my freshman year of high school. We didn't do particularly well, though we at least made the state meet that year, but I myself was terrible. My first season of cross country alternated between excruciating shin splits and bizarre injuries, like a twisted knee. I managed to get some consistency toward the end of October, and after the state meet, I was pretty pumped about continuing the scant progress I had made.

I woke up on a cold morning and decided to go out exploring while running. That was my first mistake.
My second mistake was heading west into Scott Township and Carnegie, neighborhoods I knew only in the context of passing through to get somewhere else, the secondary streets of which I was totally unfamiliar, except for Carouthers Street, where I took trumpet lessons.
To be quite honest, I'm not sure where I went or how I got lost. All that I know is that I was somewhere between I-79, I-376 and Greentree Road. I also know it was really cold. Looking back now, I don't think I would have been able to spend as much time in such a pretty limited area without getting bored, but I wasn't running as fast back then.
My sense of direction has always been pretty good, but my fatigue and hunger probably conspired to keep me from finding my way back.
I remember coming across 79 and having absolutely no idea where I was, and I somehow ended up under a highway.

I managed to find my way to the bottom of Greentree Road and then climbed a long hill to get back to Cochran Road. I probably ended up running 13 miles or so. This is my best guess as to where I might have gone.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Day off

I start to run a Park Six after work, but my left thigh hurt, so I turned around after a minute, came back and did some bike errands, instead. Since I am worried about a stress fracture, I will cut my mileage goal to keep it the same as last week- 60. It just means adding a mile to Thursday's run.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Hip to be Square

I foiled my plans to run in the morning today by not managing to wake up early enough. Actually, once I did wake up, I didn't really feel up to running then, either, but at 7:45 there's less of a choice to sleep in. It was 16 degrees when I left for work, so in retrospect I am glad I slept in, because I enjoy running in the cold a lot more when I have been awake for a while.
I've noticed I tend to sleep on my right side later into the night, and that is starting to wear on my left hip, because I don't think to get a knee pillow or something to keep my left leg from straining while I'm asleep, and it's starting to make my left hip uncomfortable, so I am going to be mindful of that. I seem to only be able to fall asleep on my back, though I unknowingly shift around, probably because my unwieldy tonsils choke me when I sleep and I am not too keen on choking.
Anyway, the hip was bothering me a good bit at work, and I jumped to the worst conclusion and diagnosed it as a stress fracture. There are few things worse than feeling tired at work, yearning (yes, yearning) to go running and wake myself up but also constantly feel like I caused the pain myself. It actually just feels like I have to crack the hip joint, like a knuckle. Sorry for the imagery.
I worked a little later than I had planned and started my run a little late, but by then it was 32 degrees. I did 10.3 miles, with six different segments throughout to check my pacing. I averaged 6:20 pace, with a slow point from 6.92 to 7.81 at 6:43 pace, but after than I dropped to 6:10 pace for 1.17 then 6:00 for the last 1.33. I felt pretty good and my hip wasn't a problem.

Favorite Pittsburgh Runs #9

Freezing Highand Park Midnight Run

I showed up at the Pitt indoor track one Thursday night in February, hoping to get in a workout when the temperature outside was around 10 degrees. To my chagrin and delight, I found the Mt. Lebanon track team, among many others, using the track for a meet. I waited it out, and started to warm up, but was soon interrupted by the custodian, who said he had to close the facility in 10 minutes. Furious, sweaty and forced to go home, I waited for a bus in the cold and upon reaching home, I went out and ran in spite of the cold and the advanced hour. I could have come back after running five miles, or 7.5 miles, but instead I didn't turn on Staunton and ended up doing almost 13 miles. A medium long run at night is one thing in the middle of July. In February, it's something entirely different. But I wasn't terribly cold. Obvsiously, wind would bother me after a while when the sweat would build up, but I think I mentally and physically broke through during this run, and cold weather hasn't bothered me since, aside from some dry skin.

This loop had been a mainstay even before this miserable night, but it was a lot more fun after. And warmer.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Getting there

I managed to lose most of the update I was writing for Saturday, so I am going to blend the two days into one. I doubt anyone cares.
Saturday marked my return to 60 miles a week for the first time since August. I topped it off with a 10+ mile out-and-back on the Towpath with a large (20 person) contingent of GRCers. The trail was icy in the middle but it worked. I had a chance to talk to Chris Sloane for a while and really develop some pity for him having missed out on the Steve Taylor era at Virginia Tech, but in talking to him about the pleasure of running at Richmond, I reminded myself how fortunate I was to go from such a quarter-assed team at Hampden-Sydney, a school where I wasn't enjoying myself terribly to an excellent program at Richmond, where I loved pretty much everything and gained a higher appreciation for the sport that continues to motivate me.
After the run, Jake Klim introduced me to Mimi's delicious egg sandwiches.
Sunday morning I came into the city to run from Amy Lazarus' place in Logan Circle. I really should have had the presence of mind to bring my running clothes when I went to her birthday party the night before and slept on the couch. Matt Ciccone has committed himself to running the Pittsburgh Marathon, and so we met up for a 4+ mile run, but first I had to get some extra mileage to make up my long run. I initially planned for 13 miles, so that would figure nine miles before picking him up. Amy's birthday brunch, however, necessitated I get Matt back to her place by 12. Because I was so late getting to her place to start the first portion of my run, I ended up cutting off what turned out to be a mile, giving me only about eight miles for part one, which, with part two, only equaled 12 miles. I also made the mistake of running counter clockwise around Hains Point, so I had the wind in my face on the way back, after I was already sweaty. I still ended up running 6:34 pace, though besides coming back of 14th street I didn't deal much with hills.
So, hitting 60 brings me two weeks from hitting 70, my optimal mileage. I did feel a little worn down this week, but I attribute that to my poor sleep. When I just went out and ran 10 miles, I felt great, and actually felt really at ease. I controlled my pace pretty well during the 20 minutes "on" during Wednesday's workout, and without the crippling stomach cramps at the end of last Sunday's 12 miles, I probably would have averaged under 6:10s.
Three major points for the next week:
1. Get to sleep before 10:30, or even 10.
2. Mix up some Gatorade with my water.
3. Run in the morning at least twice. Monday and Friday. Maybe doubles on Thursday.

I'm not running the indoor 3k on Sunday with the GRC boys, because I don't hate myself enough to force that right now, but I'll go and watch. Depending on when the race is scheduled, I may run in the afternoon and have breakfast early, to see how that works out for me.

Time for a nap.

Matt Ciccone and me running, not today, but rather when I bumped into him and Suj Shyam one December day in 2008.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Best Races #10

YMCA Turkey Trot, 2003- I was disappointed yet understanding about my senior cross country season. I had improved only four seconds over 8k (though the initial PR the year before as on a course reputed to be short) and I struggled to find consistency, even on the easy flat course in Orlando. Part of it I attributed to my inexperience, even at 21. I ran in a dysfunctional program at against poor Division III competition where I coached myself--extrapolating my high school coach's teachings to a longer race, took a year off, then trained myself into both good shape and a stress fracture before running only one Division I race. When I balanced the need for an aggressive start against my propensity to start too fast to stay in position, I found mild success- I made big moves at the LaSalle and William and Mary races, but when it came time for the Atlantic 10 championships, I took the first half way too easy. I moved up significantly, passing 30-some runners over the last two miles, but I was too far back to make a difference. Although I finished seventh on the team, I found no fault with my coach's decision to race my friend who tended more towards long distances in my place at the regional meet two weeks later. I wasn't happy about it, because I failed to put myself in a position where keeping me in the race was a no-brainer.
I tell that story to set the stage for the race. I continued training past the end of the collegiate season, running a pretty strong mile workout on the track by myself. If nothing else, continuing to hammer away while my teammates took their time off gave me added confidence in the volume of my work.
My chance to make something of my training came on Thanksgiving, when the Greater Pittsburgh YMCA debuted its new five mile course. The old course, an out-and-back on the Jail Trail, was flat and fast, but awfully boring and crowded. The new course was much more scenic, albeit windy. It ran along all three rivers and was a wonderful change.

I started at a measured pace, about 5:20 through the first mile, which had a few dramatic turns in Point State Park. I was a good bit behind Brad Hunt, who was then an assistant coach at Kent State, who regularly came to Pittsburgh for Thanksgiving. I tried to follow him, but focused more on keeping a steady pace while running alone. It was a pretty lonely 2.75 miles until shortly after the turnaround, when I started running into the crowds. Amazingly, they left room for me on a narrow sidewalk and I heard a lot of my name from friends in the crowd. I dropped a 5:05 in the next mile, but as I started to deal with the turns in the park again, my curiousity got the best of me and I started looking back to see where my pursuers were. Pharaoh Hounds (before I knew them) Jim Hommes and Hans Rottman and Roch Ferguiele were close behind, so I started running for my life. I ended up second in 26:15, a 35 second PR, and substantial for me, having run alone for the entire race. It remains my five-mile PR, but I don't run it much.

1. Brad Hunt 25:21
2.Charlie Ban 26:15
3.Jim Hommes 26:27
4.Hans Rottman 26:50
5.Jeff Haines 26:51

The above picture is actually from the 2006 race, when I stuck with Brad Hunt for four miles, he still beat me, though.

Boring out and back, with snow and ice

I planned to run 8 with Alex when I got home Thursday, but I fell asleep somewhere underground on the Metro ride home and woke up feeling awful, so I nixed the run and took the day off. That meant I was risking my 8 miles the next day with the predicted snow, but at that point I wasn't about to argue.
My plans to run before work were quashed by my inability to wake up, so I ended up running after work, in the snow and ice and cold, heading east on the W&OD Trail. I wore a wind jacket, which was a poor choice, because two miles in I was sweating like crazy. I ditched it and ran to the turnaround at Wilson Boulevard and back, picked it up, and sweated like crazy on the way back. I ran 6:40 pace for 8 miles, but it wasn't pleasant, given the uneven snow atop uneven ice. I'm glad it's over.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Worst Races #10

Steelers 5k, 2007- I know it's odd to put a 15:36 race as my 10th worst, but hear me out.

I came into the race on a 12-race winning streak, I had broken 15 minutes and a lot of my competitors. I broke 16 minutes on the Run for Roch course with a few hours' sleep. For the Steelers race -- a flat course on the North Side with no turnarounds, good competition, cool weather and ample preparation -- I should have dominated and PRed easily.

Instead, I blew it.
I started out in a dominant position. Ryan Erdly said I had a commanding lead during the first mile. How long that first mile lasted was up for debate, however. A course volunteer said five minutes as I passed, 10 seconds slower than my goal pace for the first two miles, but also not where I was expecting the mile mark. I immediately surged and kicked up my pace significantly, but started to slow right before the two mile mark, which I passed in 9:28. I didn't think I was capable of running 4:28 in the middle of a race, so I tend to think the first mile was a little long, which it indeed was, based on measurement with Dan Holland's wheel and the subsequent first mile timer placement in other years.
My struggles increased dramatically as I tied up when I covered the first half of the third mile, and some fellow in spandex shorts passed me and I didn't fight him, I just kept grabbing for some feeling of comfort by running as slowly as I could. On my way back to Heinz Field, 47-or-so-year-old Paul Zimmerman caught me. After June's Greenfield Glide, he told Mark Schwartz that he would have caught me, given another half mile, which was hogwash because I put 18 seconds on him in the last mile. I reeled him back in with the encouragement of Matt Meurer and Dave Hackworth and managed to gap him by three seconds. I won tickets to a game, but lost my true fighting instinct. Since then, I haven't felt in control of a race- even races where I have had minute-plus leads. The race broke my confidence, and so far two years later I haven't repaired it. The next week, I actually ran slower at IKEA. I capitulated to several runners in the Great Race and surrendered to a high schooler at the Pittsylvania 6k. The Philadelphia Marathon's 8k, the centerpiece of my fall racing, was a disaster, and I feel like I owe much of it to my poor racing at the Steelers race on a course I should have known well enough to be confident about the pacing.

The final results:
1.Josiah Lunenberger 15:17
2.Charlie Ban 15:36
3.Paul Zimmerman 15:39

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Workouts in the dark

I had a partially good, partially bad workout at Bethesda-Chevy Chase's track Wednesday night. I eskewed the GRC short distance workout for a Steve Taylor classic- 20-10. 20 minutes hard, 10 minutes easy, 10 minutes harder. Chuck was also not feeling up for the short workout, so he accompanied me for a while for the tempo. I started with a 5:50, then worked my way down the next two miles to 5:40 and 5:30 and slowed down for the last two laps to around 5:45 pace. The 10 minutes easy was five laps, then I started the 10 minutes with my legs not quick back beneath me, but I was on 5:20 pace, until the end of the third lap when I just didn't see myself holding it together. I had a short cooldown and totalled 10 miles.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I doubt Long John Silver would lend his name to an inferior product...

This was a tough one. I haven't felt rested after sleeping the last two days, and by this point it was really catching up with me. I had to force myself out of bed each morning and by noon today I was a human wasteland. Work was no picnic, either. With my goal mileage of 60 this week, I was definitely hoping to stick to it by running decent chunks daily, even if it meant doing so in the dark, but dark, cold and sleepy is no way to run. Luckily, the temperature had warmed to 29 by the time I got home, despite a 19 degree windchill that didn't really bother me, so I managed to get going. The hardest part for me, often, is motivating myself to be cold for a few minutes, even if I am sweating by the end of the first mile. I am also invariably colder in my room, no matter where I am, than I am outside, usually because my movement is pretty limited in my room and by the time I'm outside, I've walked down the hall and the steps. So, just getting outside is the big obstacle. There, that's your motivational technique, Shara.
I left my watch at work, so I didn't worry too much about the time for this new amalgamated Pimmet-Idylwood loop I debuted, 10.75 miles. It was really nice, aside from a few blocks on Idylwood toward the end in which the sidewalk ended in someone's yard. The residential streets in southern McLean are almost always clear, so they're good for night running. I'm up to 31.5 for the week, so I will either take Thursday off or make it a really short day and have a short run Friday.
Non sequitor- I enjoyed some food from Long John Silver's Monday night and while it might not have been the healthiest dinner, it was really satisfying.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Look! There's the sun!

I took a long lunch today to run with Laura O'Hara from the Mall, and despite missing my lunchtime nap, it was a good decision. Running in the sunlight was one of the best motivators, after the painful last few miles the night before with stomach cramps. It was windy, but nearly as cold, probably in the mid 20s when we ran. I can't remember exactly where we went, crossing the Arlington and 14th street bridges, but it was a nice relaxed run, trading stories about health disasters while running in college. Totaled 63 minutes, and I'm calling it nine miles.
Crossing the Potomac reminded me of Caitlin Palko running the Marine Corps Marathon in October, and since I have this picture of her running around North Park with her dad, I might as well use it now, to add a little color to an otherwise-bland series of posts.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

It somehow gets colder

I again slept in, hoping the conditions would be better later in the morning for my "long run." Since college, I have had trouble considering anything lasting less than 90 minutes to be a long run, but at this point, building my base from very little mileage in late October, running 12 seems pretty good. I technically had run that far a few weeks ago, when I went from my Mall run with Melissa to join the other group ad hoc, but I ran with a little more intensity this time. I waited until after watching the Steelers game with the O'Haras, so it was pretty much dark at that point, but it didn't bother me too much.

I mapped out a course that was exactly 12 miles, adding onto the Woodley 8, but it being dark and adding some turns in a part of town that doesn't present street signs prominently, I wound up taking a wrong turn, which I realized quickly, which caused me some distress, wondering how much it would affect the measurement. In the end, it added .1 miles, and I was happy enough with the result. The only issue was some intense abdominal cramping around mile 10, which coincided with another new stretch for me- Idylwood Road. I had no idea how close I was to the turn onto Leesburg Pike, so I lost some focus there, but I wound up averaging 6:26 for the 12.1 miles.

The temperature, 22 with a 1 degree windchill, wasn't that bad. The wind was bad as I crossed Leesburg Pike, so much that it nearly pushed me over, but after that I just kept going. I was nice to finish, though, and get ready to be warm and asleep.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Eff the cold

I had to sleep in one of these days, so when I woke up and saw it was 27 degrees at 8, I bailed on the GRC run and slept until 11:30.
So I ran 10 out and back on the W&OD, the first 2.5 with Alex. I averaged 7:00 per mile on the way out, 6:30 on the way back. The wind was pretty strong, the NWS reported it as gusting up to 34 mph, though I doubt I encountered anything that harsh.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Charlie Ban = not paralyzed

I woke up on Jake Marren's living room floor, thinking I was paralyzed, since I slept on the floor, though Ella gave me a yoga and camping mats to sleep on. Jakes Klim and Marren and I went off to The Line to get 10 miles on the trails, but when we met up with a crowd of other GRCers and started, it became quickly evident that the trails were not practical, given the ice that resists melting in the woods. Switching onto Beech made it a lot easier on our ankles, and we ran about 10 at 6:30 pace.