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

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Late-December lethargy

After dealing with the time change coming back from Seattle, I was pretty useless on Monday and took the day off, sleeping a lot. Tuesday I started to feel a sore throat coming on, but fought through it to run with Karl, heading east on the W&OD to the beltway and back. Wednesday morning, I woke up at 5 am unable to imagine sitting on the metro to go to work, so I took the day off and slept until 10, when some dudes started working on the porches above my bedroom window and ruined my opportunities to sleep. I spent the rest of the day watching Breaking Bad and flirting with the thought of running,despite my illness, which I passed on, ultimately. I did wake up pretty energetic the next morning, and did eight miles on a Westmoreland loop. I toyed with running after my office Christmas party Friday, but that ended up going longer than I had planned. Saturday morning,I ran down to Annandale and did a 10.5-mile loop thought Holmes Run Stream  Park and up Sleepy Hollow.It was ok, but not too exciting. Sunday I did a pretty quick reverse Westmoreland at 6:15 pace. The cold was still a problem, lots of congestion and coughing, but I was sleeping well. Monday evening, Karl and I ran out on the W&OD west to Sunrise Valley for 12.6 miles. It was the longest I had run since my trip to Difficult Run before nationals. I coughed like crazy on the way out but was better on the return.

I ran after work Tuesday, just around Hains Point, and the radio on my mp3 player died. Actually, the whole gadget died, which was a bummer. As much as I like the sansa clip player, it's not that durable. I got up on Wednesday to run before work, but I felt trashed before I hit a mile, so I just did an Idylwood for four miles.I took Thursday off of work and did an hour on the Pimmit Run Trail, definitely feeling out of it when I turned around before Old Dominion. Friday morning I did a Westmoreland ++ and found the new mile splits to be a little better.

Saturday I resumed the tradition of the annual WPIAL alumni run. For the first time in years, Lebo guys outnumbered Baldwin, with Costello, Rad, Sean and me compared to Sheehan, Quinn and Mazzocco. We also had Marco, Slosky, Hack, Anne, Taryn and her brother Nick,  Scott and Megan, Wu, Brandon G. I know there were others, but I can't remember right now. When we finished up, Mazzocco surprised me with the mp3 player I had left at his place when I was in Boston in April. It was a great surprise, and might yet save my winter running.

Sunday morning I did a 10 mile loop through the West End, Elliot, Sheraden, Chartiers City, and Windgap. Pretty hilly, I averaged 6:40s.

Monday I met up with Slosky, Marco, Ann, Maura and Slosky's friend Lauren and ran in Schenley Park. Toward the end, Brandon G showed up, the girls and Sloksy stopped and we sped up for a 3k loop.

Tuesday's 35-degree rain convinced me to take a reluctant day off to try and finish off my cold.

Monday, December 12, 2011


As much as I hate to quote John Madden, "All a prevent defense does is prevent you from winning." That's generally the rule in football, and this weekend I demonstrated its application in cross country running this weekend in Seattle.

In trying to maintain a minimum level of performance, I didn't take any risks at the USATF club cross country championships, but I didn't run a race worth of a cross-country flight for a race. I was a faded copy of the 25:19 runner I was a month ago. My confidence never recovered from the Philly Half, my mind was constantly on my right foot, I felt slow and literally had to carry more when I gained post-Philly weight. Had this race been a month ago, I would have been in a different position, but I just couldn't hold onto what I had. I wouldn't say I was burned out, but I was tired -- tired of waking up early or running late after work. I tried to preserve my enthusiasm with days off, but in the end I just felt more out of shape.

I slept terribly Thursday night, then woke up at 5 to be ready to go to the airport with Shredder. Once there, I had an awful chicken biscuit at Wendy's and sat on a plane for six hours to get to Seattle. The trip kind of kept going and going while we picked up a van, drove it to the hotel and checked in. I could seem to fall asleep before checking out the course. That 35 minute run was so rough that if we had been racing that afternoon, I would be a lock for the last 10 to finish.

Luckily, we had about 20 hours, so after going back to the hotel and having a pretty poor dinner, I went to sleep at 9 and aside from a few tosses and turns, slept soundly until 7:30. Breezy and I took a 15 minute jog and had breakfast. I killed some more time reading and we headed to the course for the race.

I felt decidedly better during the warmup than I had the day before, but still not ready to race. Watching the women's team race was fun, though I never saw Jess' sister, and totally missed both Gretchen Speed and Jessica Winter. I took a lot of great photos, but then somehow lost my camera at the meet.

Despite a steady but light rain, I wasn't cold when it came time to undress for the race. The starting boxes were tight, and we lined up pretty much in single file. I was pretty strong at the beginning, getting into a decent position, I felt, in the first half mile and just going with the flow.
I came through 1k in 3:09, faster than my goal for my average, but right on what I wanted to get started. I cruised on through the rest of the first lap, despite Outlaw telling me I had to move up. I told him to shut up, I was running the race the way I wanted, and that meant really going for it in the last 4k. I came through 2k in 6:25, more like it, and kept moving. Somewhere in lap two, though, I must have slipped, something locked up and I felt like I could barely push off with my right leg. It wasn't my hamstring, and it took me a while to diagnose the problem. Eventually I started feeling my hip again and figured out that was the problem. I passed 5k in 16:42, and extrapolating that I was very unhappy with the position in which I put myself. A month ago, 31:30 seemed reasonable. In the intervening weeks, sub 32 was more like it, but now I just wanted to break 33, and I was a long way from that happening, given the way I felt.
Then I saw an aqua singlet to my right and realized it was a Pacer. Not just a Pacer, but 43-year-old Edmund Burke. Like Lisa, he selflessly dropped down to the open race so his team could score. He might be a fine fellow otherwise, but I sure as hell didn't want to lose to him. So, despite my beaten up body and confidence, I started surging. I'd lose him for a while, then get complacent and he'd come right back. We came through 6k right around 20:30, I think, and soon after I surged again. There was a slight hill, pretty muddy, and I bounded up it and when I got to the top, I took six strong strides, just like Steve exhorted us to so many times at Rosslyn. This time the hill was only a fraction of what we dealt with there, so it was easy. I kept my pace up and started to pass people until I found a good group that was moving. As I hung along a long curve, Outlaw was there. "SEND EM SEND EM!!!! You're crankin' now!" This time I actually was, and I didn't want to punch him. I hit 8k in 27:10, almost two minutes slower than my PR, but considering the condition the course was in, I think being one minute slower than my PR would have been satisfactory, given how things were going.

I just wanted to close it out. I didn't like the way the first 60 percent of the race was going, but in my race plan discussions, I emphasized that I wanted to be opportunistic in the last 4k, and that's the way things were playing out. I didn't catch my 9k split, but at that point I started targeting people and blowing by them. I stayed focus by counting them. First they were on their own, then I started passing clumps. I finally caught up to this skinny dude in green who kept grunting like Chris Sloane at the end of a race. I buried him. With 400 meters left, I tried my best to forget feeling tired, too old for this shit, fat, lazy. I just wanted to pass everyone I could. I got up to 38. I saw the clock passing 33:35. I would be guaranteed to be at least a minute slower than the Great Race, not good. I was sure I could reach the finish line, and all of a sudden I saw two guys who weren't as confident. So, I kicked them down and thanked Joe Pesci it was all over. A few seconds later Murph came came along, having been, I think, the only person to run faster this year than last, in Charlotte. Jason and Jimmy followed soon after. I wasn't there for it, but Jason exclaimed his surprise at the race's difficulty to Dave, "Luggage" Wertz who reportedly said, "Yeah, this ain't no chocolate run!"

For some reason, I was the only one out there soaking in sweat. I actually felt okay while cooling down, but for the rest of the trip, I felt the full brunt of my ultimate uselessness.

I wound up 6th for the team, 204th overall, in 33:51. I was the only GRC runner who had no bearing on the team scores, just kind of sliding into obscurity. I didn't take enough of a risk early in the race to really put myself in a good position, but I also didn't fail and fall apart. I was insurance in that if something had happened to Lug and I had finished fifth, we would have been no worse in the team standings. Luckily we didn't need me.

I was not too in the mood for celebrating afterward. The gluttony I promised myself after the season was over felt revolting, and I just wanted to go to bed. Our morning run was ok, but unremarkable. I thought about running after work today, but as I got close to home, I just wanted to lie down. So that's what I'm going to do now.

P.S. Bigfoot's dick.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Damned foot

The intermediate week between Philly Half recovery and club nationals preparation was tense. A few weeks ago, a shaky-legged woman on the metro lost her balance and stepped on my right foot and bruised it pretty badly. She never apologized, just said "there's nothing I could have done!" That bruising has continued for a few weeks and pierced my confidence. It hadn't hurt while running until my track work the week before Philly, and I thought it was just because I tied my spikes too tight. Initially, I thought it was a stress fracture, and I often do when things start hurting despite having only had one in my life, but having dealt with this before in 2007, I relaxed a bit.

That assuredness did little to restore my confidence when my footsteps started hurting during my runs. I met up with Karl at the Vienna metro and we ran out to the W&OD, though throngs of families on Church Street. With a warmup beforehand, I got a total of 11.

Tuesday night I planned to do the New Virginia Manor loop, but I wasn't feeling great after one loop so I headed home and just got eight miles in.

Besides that 5:30s I had run the previous Saturday, I hadn't really tested my hamstring on anything actually fast since Philly, so Wendesday's track workout was bound to be either pleasantly surprising or a sober reminder that Philly could have lasting physical effects to go along with the mild psychological scarring. I led the first two miles, 5:15 (despite being way too fast on the first 400) and 5:02, stayed in the pack for 4:55, then dropped out less than 200 m into the 4:45 when my left calf got tight. The foot definitely hurt there.

Thursday Karl and I did another 10, out to Hunters Mill on the W&OD from Vienna. A little foot pain.

I was so tired at the end of the day Friday that I just took the day off, in hopes that I would be better off for the cross country workout Saturday. Well, if that was the case, I would have hated to have run the workout after running Friday. It was a pretty simple fartlek, but I fell apart fast. I stuck with Diddy, Witty and Karl for the five minute interval, and dropped in the four after a little more than three minutes, but the three minute drill was awful. We switched into spikes for the last two, and that aggravated my foot bruise. The two-minute drill was a waste for me, but I managed to pull my shit together for a minute of hard running. I definitely need new replacement spikes for my eight-year-old Zoom Fats.

Several people asked if I was interested in the Hot Chocolate races at the National Harbor, and after hearing about the fiasco that ensued there, I felt vindicated in my decision to stay away, though what I saw about the race beforehand couldn't have imagined the magnitude of what happened. Since I wasn't there to witness it, I can't comment on that, but judging from the things I saw in the days and weeks before the race, this is why I expected it to be a poor experience.

First off, since I don't regularly drive, the lack of metro proximity was a huge detractor. I had run out around the National Harbor last fall and it was pretty miserable, I'm not sure why anyone would want to run there, to be honest. After hearing from Dickson, Michelle and Dave how lackluster the last few miles of Wilson Bridge Half was More basic to the entire endeavor, the race seemed to be driven more by the marketers than anyone accomplished in road racing. Most tellingly, the tagline, "the sweetest race" referred to the promise of hot chocolate and fondue afterward. The website lauded the "awesome race jacket." If these are the draws, those giveaways, I can't imagine anyone could have confidence in the race's competence. Then again, if people need things like that to get them to a race, they probably wouldn't know the difference from a poorly-executed race. Perks like that should come on top of basic competences, like a decent course and aid stations. Maybe it was the out-of-town race manager, maybe it was everything else I detailed, but it definitely looked like a race I was not disappointed to miss. That something near 30,000 people showed up is a shock to me, but I guess I give people too much credit.

I took a nap and went out and did a Seaton six and actually felt a lot better. No foot pain, and a lot more energy.

Looking ahead, I will want to keep up my high mileage, so I need to keep my loops fresh. Running with Karl from Vienna helps because I can focus on conversation rather than where I'm going. With the weather as nice as it was on Sunday, I felt like there was no better way to spend the time than to get a zip car and drove out to Difficult Run. I went 21 minutes out on the CCT almost to Leesburg Pike, then 19 back; then 25 out around the Ridge Trail and back. Once I hit Old Carriage Road, I just started punching it and kept it up for about 10 minutes.
I know Jerry wants to keep us fresh for nationals, but I needed something to reinvigorate my love of running--without that, all the freshness in the world couldn't help. Running along the Ridge Trail, I felt like there was nothing better I could possibly be doing with my time. It made me miss the Mon Ridge trail of which I am so fond in Swisshelm Park. The foot felt fine, and I felt ready to take on this last race of the year.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Hills again, but that's Pittsburgh for you

After the long ride back to Pittsburgh after the half, I had trouble getting to sleep. I might have gotten to bed around 2, then slept until 10. I did some work, then headed out for a run. I left my mom's house, went down Shaler, up Kearns, around Clearview and Strathmore, Berry, Stafford and West Carson, then up the McArdle Roadway and home for 12 miles. My calves and hamstrings were still wrecked. I had originally planned on 15 miles, with a loop up William and Boggs before coming back, but I was tired.

It rained all day Tuesday, and I didn't care enough to run, so instead I ate a lot of mint chocolate chip ice cream and watched movies. I spent a lot of that day bemoaning my Philadelphia race, at one point congratulating myself for coming so close to my PR despite the poor execution and latter-mile injury, then alternating to realizing that if I ran that fast considering how much went wrong, I had the opportunity to run much faster if I had done things right. In short, I spent the whole week sitting around my mom's house, pissed about the race and relegated to traveling on foot or arranging rides with friends.

Wednesday morning I picked myself up to run around Mt. Washington and added to it by running the new trails along the face of the mountain. It was wet, covered in leaves and mostly clay. For someone who wants to take a walk, it's ok. For a runner, it's a dangerous disaster. I twisted both ankles was on the brink of slipping off constantly. That said,the trail afforded me some great views of the city and I got about nine miles.

After 12 years of running the Downtown YMCA Turkey Trot, I put an end to it. Although it's very popular and had its best attendance ever this year, it's value as a road race has plummeted in the last few years. It's now a series of out-and-backs starting and finishing on the north side and just a mess of people. Great for the YMCA's fundraising, but its quality as a race has plummeted. I was on the race committee in 2008 when construction limited a lot of the courses the race had used from 2003-2007. Given the restrictions we had, we could only do a 5k but I hoped to be able to bring it back to the five mile course when possible. Then I moved, then the director left and took the focus on quality with him.

I did it for two more years, but also started running Dan Holland's Gutbuster race in Frick Park. I am not exaggerating when I say it's the hardest race I have run. Alternating up and down hills on trails that are often slippery. What didn't help was that I ran a 5k one year and a five mile the next before coming to the Gutbuster, so I was already wiped out. Last year's freezing rain made it miserable. This year it was dry for once, just warm enough, though it had rained all day Tuesday and it certainly wasn't dry.

The first mile is almost entirely uphill, with a flat stretch in the first 200 meters or so. I stuck with a decent pack that included Luke Briola, Jim Hommes, Nolan Wildfire and a little kid who looked like a short Andy Webster. We chatted up the hill, until Webster tried to take off near the mile mark, which we hit in 6:57. I bolted ahead of him and immediately opened up my stride on the loop around the fitness circuit and the sledding hill. I headed back down and saw my mom heading up, the two mile was not supposed to go this way and I told her as much. She just said "I know."

I didn't see anybody for a while, and I had a pretty solid lead. I came down the second mile in 5:17 (where was that when I needed it on Sunday?), then up the next hill in 6:44. I didn't see a four-mile mark, but I think I was a little over 24 minutes. I went back up the first hill and hit miles 4 and 5 in 12:43. I started seeing the people behind me coming down the hill and I was climbing, and I start giving high fives, essentially celebrating with almost half of the race left.
I apparently had no reason not to, my lead appeared safe. The next mile was 5:21, a little slower than mile 2. When I hit the Tranquil Trail, I was a little flat, but I figured I could afford to slow down, mainly because when I tried to run hard, my right hamstring didn't respond.

Again, I figured my lead was safe, so this obstacle shouldn't be too troubling. I saw Leslie and Pete near the bottom of the Biddle Trail, and they didn't say too much. That trail was the hardest part of a really hard course, the steepest section, half of the trail was a creek and the other was jagged rock. I slipped at one point and looked back and suddenly Jim Hommes was on my tail. I was shocked- I had no indication anyone was anywhere close to me. I hadn't seen anyone when I made turns, and I didn't hear Leslie and Pete yelling for him. That leads me to several possible conclusions- 1. he did most of the catching up on the hill 2. he told Pete and Leslie to be quiet so he could sneak up on me 3. I didn't hear them cheering for him.

We were in this same position in 2003 at the Turkey Trot, back when the race was worthwhile. I held him off there, but by that point I had a stronger lead. And I hadn't raced a half four days before and run myself into the ground over the last 3.5 miles.

For a few seconds I felt as though I was going to lose, the surprise that he was there, when I was feeling the weakest, nearly broke me. Jim's one of the toughest masters runners around, and his focus has always been exemplary for long races. I felt like there was no way I could fend him off anymore. I ran like an asshole and I was getting my comeuppance. Until I didn't.

I got to the top of the trail and turned onto another uphill, but less steep, trail. I started charging ahead, hoping to put a lot of distance between us before he joined me on the smoother trail. I split 6:53 on the seventh mile, not unreasonable given the lack of a push I had before I saw Jim. I kept cranking up the hill, then pushed a little more back down the hill. This trail was slippery, so I had to run with more caution than I had before. I also had to navigate around walkers and the runners in their fifth and sixth miles. Once I got to the bottom, I had a clear path to finish, and split 5:22 for the eighth mile to finish in 49:16. I think I had a 20 second lead over Jim, who had run a 50k a few weeks prior.

I would have liked to run under 48 minutes, but I could argue with winning, considering the way the prior few days had gone. Mom had fun doing the four mile, and I was left excited about making the Gutbuster my solitary Thanksgiving race in the future. I don't know if it prepared me for cross country running at nationals, but it was certainly tough.

Friday morning, I tried to go for a run on the Seven Springs golf course, but my hamstring felt incredibly weak. I got about two miles of running in before I realized I was better off resting.

Later, after I was back in Pittsburgh, I drove out to the Richard and did my Standard Beechwood loop, averaging 6:05 for 10.5. I finished right before dusk. I felt much better than in the mountains, and to be able to average that pace on those hills was relieving.

Saturday, I was once again without a car, so I ran from my mom's house down to the jail trail and out to Four Mile Run. I hit 11:01 for a two-mile stretch, but slowed down afterward. I made a rare trip up the Panther Hollow Trail, up Neville and over onto Bayard, past the Huff's old place, before turning onto Craig and Bigelow. Now, Bigelow is not a frequently traveled road for pedestrians. There's a sidewalk, but it was overgrown with dry weeds. Things open up a little bit in Frank Curto Park, then shortly after that the sidewalk ends and suddenly I'm on a busy almost-highway. That lasted about two-to-three minutes, then I was downtown, looping around to Gateway Center and back up the Boulevard of the Allies to the Liberty Bridge and Mt. Washington for just under 13.7 miles.

Sunday morning, I ran a little more than seven miles with Jess Gangjee on Mt. Washington before going back to Virginia.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Fundamental failure

I had an opportunity to run a great half marathon this morning and I blew it by not being aware of where I was less than three minutes into the race.

I took Thursday off when I came home from work feeling exhausted. I ran a solid 10 miles the next morning on the Steelers loop at 6:28 pace. Got to sleep kind of early, then up at 8 Saturday to do a Fisherman's loop. The trip to Philadelphia with Dart, then the Millers, went smoothly, as did the packet pickup and dinner. I got to bed at nine, slept well until five, and felt great when I got up and warmed up to the start. I jogged a bit with Drea, Dart and the Butcher of Damascus, then waded around in the maroon corral (who was it who kept pronouncing it "coral" last year?).

After an unexplained delay, we got started. I had a significant blockade of women in the way, so I swung out to the right to get around them, but I was somehow behind some stupid little guy with his hair sprayed to look like an eyetalian flag. I caught up to a pack of dudes and settled in, and felt nothing out of the ordinary. I saw Wager, so I inched up to him and whispered "send 'em" and we exchanged a quick five. I slide back a little, and suddenly saw the first mile mark and looked at my watch- 5:02. JESUS H. CHRIST.

I immediately dropped back, terrified of the hole I had dug for myself. But in dropping back, I was firmly putting myself in no-man's land between the fast half-marathoners and the marathoners. This wasn't a situation like the GMU 5k, I made the right move in not trying to run with them. There were just so many guys up there, I didn't think they could all be running the half- I figured the majority of guys would be running the full to run 2:18. My plan was to just sit in a pack with them and cover real estate. I literally had no idea how fast I was running inthat first mile. I thought I might be cold and stiff from standing in the corral for so long and 5:17-5:19 was that fast. So, I ran by myself for four miles. 5:17, 5:19, 5:23, 5:31. I was pretty much on my five-mile goal time, but I got there the wrong way.

The group of guys chasing sub 2:19 passed me and I maybe hung on for 30 seconds, but I was tying up already. I hit another 5:31 and a 5:25 on a long straight. A pair of guys gapped me briefly, but I reeled them in and pulled away from them on a long uphill in mile eight, which I hit in 5:43. I was alone most of nine, hit that in 5:40, and thought I had a chance to at least match my 10 mile PR (54:24) with my 10-mile split, though my original pacing plan would have been more than 90 seconds ahead. Nope. Long uphill, mostly by myself, though I saw three guys in red ahead of me. Then, running down the road, with no pothole, my left ankle gave out and I yanked the hell out of it. I came though the 10th mile in 5:54, 54:50-- my second-fastest 10 mile, but not by much, and at this point, I consider my 10 mile PR to be my second softest, after the marathon.

The 11th mile was almost all downhill, but with my ankle probably sprained, I could bear only a 5:31. I came across a 180 turn, which, for some reason, this marathon/half-marathon had. That's ok in a little community 5k, but not in a metropolitan marathon, that's just lazy and unimaginative. I saw Curt Larimer, who I figured was doing the marathon, but did the half. Baressi passed me and I quietly encouraged him, but I was toast by this point. He was running the full, and him passing me was rough--he's very talented, but I should have been well ahead of most guys running the full marathon. I tried to hang, but it wasn't happening.

I thought maybe, with an 11-mile split of 1:00:21, I could keep things together for a pair of 5:30s and at least get in under 1:12. Nope. 5:48, 6:24 with the .1, and I lost ground to a guy in red in the last half mile. As it turned out, I had a healthy (90+) second lead over him at Freedom's Run.

It was just poorly done all around. One of the 13 splits was right. One was 15 seconds fast, the others were all slow. I was disappointed, but more embarrassed that such a stupid mistake, such unbridled enthusiasm led to my downfall. I was, for a while, a cockeyed optimist, thinking I could still run sub-5:20s on my own after a 5:02, but no. I tied up more and more as the race went on, and the last three miles, after stumbling, my calves got extremely tight, and following that, my shins. When I finished the race, I couldn't jog over to watch the marathoners go by.

Scott dropped out when I saw him, cramps forcing him to confront the misery of trying to push throug 13 more miles. We walked around, got some dry clothes and watched the finish. I saw Greg Byrnes, Brandon G., Michelle M., Dart, the Burhams, Mindy S., Katie Sheedy, Sam Howard (who qualified by a few seconds), and Jeff, though apparently I missed Cavanaugh, and left 30 secondds before Ali Belicose came by. I went back to the hotel, took a hot bath, packed and met the GRC people for a few minutes before Michelle Corkum and Andy picked me up. Michelle was eyeing a trials qualifier, having run 2:48 in LA earlier this year, but a last-minute cold left her feverish, achy and miserable and she dropped out at 13. Emily Ward thinks she broke her heel, and she was out at 14. Michelle M. felt the race slip away early and was out of it. Drea PRed in the half, and Dart PRed by more than six minutes, though she wanted to be two minutes faster. No men qualified, Kevin Pool once again coming close. In the marathon, the only person I think who made it was Sam Howard-- Liz Graham's protoge.

That all goes to demonstrate two things- Philadelphia is a hard course, and qualifying for the olympic trials is hard. As it should be. It's not something you can do on a lark, as a girl I met last year seemed to think when she said she and her sister were going to do it. You need to know exactly what you'll be dealing with as the race goes on, and I am positive that means overdistance training, a 30-mile long run. That all said, Hallinan and Blood ran under 1:05 in the half, which was pretty good.
That's disappointment right there
I rode in the backseat of Michelle's car, heading to Pittsburgh, knowing I let a great fall's worth of training, along with the summer full of misery while building my base, go to waste because I didn't figure out where a half-mile marker was so I could be sure I was going out appropriately. Part of what appealed to me about the race was that the marathon and half started together and shared the course for almost 13 miles. That seemed great to me, because I could run with Karl -- he'd have a good feel for the pace, and I could keep him company, help with the pace and he'd keep me calm. When he fell ill, the first thing I should have done was ensure that I had landmarks to check my pace, because I wouldn't know who was running 5:17s otherwise. It was simple preparation, and it was just as imporatant as the long runs, the track workouts, the moderate runs and progressions. A 5:02 mile, when I wanted to be runninr 5:17s, was devastating. I sat in the car, which was way too warm, wondering if I got too excited about club nationals after Richmond and lost focus, or if my heart went out of it when I found out Karl wouldn't be running--maybe I wanted to take responsibility for helping him out so I wouldn't focus on how easy it is to give up.

To be clear, I don't think I gave up, I think given what I did in the beginning miles, dealing with wind along the Delaware River in mile three, plus the trauma I put my legs through in mile nine, I was going about as fast as I could. And, in the end, I was 16 seconds off my PR. I should be happy that considering how much went wrong in several phases of the race, that I was a little more thana second per mile off my PR, but I just can't be happy with it. I was ready for more, much more, than I accomplished today. That PR, which I set when I was sick ,running alone in a cocurse that barely had a mile of flat stretch, let alone the 6.5 this had, in the rain, was from the hard 13-mile run Steve prescribed, it was more a time trial than a race, and I picked that course over Buffalo Creek because I wanted to be sure Philly wouldn't be harder and I would run faster if all went well. Getting congratulatory messages from well-wishers was tough, because if they took the time to care, I wanted to give them something worth seeing when the looked up my results.

Madeline suggested I peaked too early. Absolutely not, I feel like my training was spot on, but I just made the dumbest mistake possible, one that I had several opportunities to prevent, and the regret I feel going forward and the missed opportunity will go a long way toward ensuring I don't do it again. It will also haunt me until I take another crack at the half, probably in Pittsburgh. It starts on Thursday with the Gutbuster. As Mike Tomlin, whose quotations I relish for his locution, said after some boneheaded playing cost a few games in 2009, I'm about to unleash hell. That second loop is toast.

The fall is by no means a failure, I ran a great, strong race on my own at Freedom's Run and fough pretty hard in Richmond. If I had a blase attitude at all toward the race because I was looking ahead to nationals, well, time to seriously focus on that. It's a chance to make up for my failings in Philly.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

No lobster tonight

Jason and I drove to Richmond Friday afternoon, got our bibs (and saw the JARRINs, Benford and Nicol), dinner at Pasta and Such and made it to Emily's. We checked the forecast- it was supposed to be about 30 at 7 am, and when I unpacked I realized I had forgotten my long running pants. FACK.

I slept pretty well and got up at 5:15, and we drove down to the start. It might have been cold, but I didn't really notice. We warmed up, changed out shoes and headed to the starting line. I saw Ryan Lee, Pat Love and Paul Myer wearing the sharp new Richmond uniforms. Some dude in Vibrams tried to sneak up to the elite start, but he was appropriately shooed back. I mean, this guy's standing here, wearing little rubber toe shoes, expecting to be taken seriously...

The masses started fast, but things settled down within a minute and I moved into a nice pack with a tall VCU runner and a shorter Galen Rupp. We cruised up a slight hill heading west on Broad Street, watching the Afro-centric pack ahead of us and thankful we weren't trying to keep their pace up. We came through the mile in 4:57, though with the delayed start it was actually
4:55, and I felt pretty good. It was nice running with a pack. An African dropped off the lead pack and I pushed the pace to catch him. We got him right around two miles, crossing in 9:57. He tried to struggle and take the lead a minute or so later when we turned on Mulberry and Grace streets, but eventually he fell back again. Shortly after this turn, the tall and short guys pulled away from me slightly, along with a guy in black. I held on as much as I could, but I was losing ground.

My third mile split was 5:14, and I was not pleased with it. As the course started rolling, I put on a long surge to try to catch someone so I'd have a race on my hands at the finish. Every now and then, little Rupp would come back a little, but I couldn't close the gap. I was pleased to see my pace move back the way I wanted it with a 5:11, but I was hoping to be under 5:05. We made our turns onto Cary Street and I really made my move a little early. By the time I reached the .4 mile downhill stretch to the finish, I was kind of floating.
Spectators were cheering for Georgetown when I ran by,and it killed me not to be able to correct them, let them know I was a Spider. That compounded my frustration with the end of the race. I heard Emma Berry and Erin Lunny cheering halfway down the hill, but I wasn't kicking the way I expected and hoped to. You can see in the video both little Rupp and the guy behind me charging into the line, but I just kind of float. It's aggravating to watch. I just kind of stopped when I crossed the line, turned and watched people come in. Jason PRed by 20 seconds and Nicol was chasing him down, running 26:35.

I have to admit I was a little disappointed when I finished. From the four mile mark to the finish, I only ran 4:55, with a downhill like that I was expecting to be in the 4:40s. I feel I could have broken 25, and I blame it on my third mile- that's when the other guys, who did run in the 24s, got away from me. I'm not great at sprinting by myself, that's why I was pushing so hard to catch up with someone else for that last stretch. That all said, it was a 56-57 second PR, from my 2003 YMCA Turkey Trot. I can't believe it took almost eight years to break that PR, but I did it. I never slowed past 5:14, even when I was hurting, and I don't want to try to run faster than that next weekend. As fast as I ran relative to my previous PR, I wasn't exhausted at the end, and I definitely wasn't smelling lobster, my body's signal that I've pushed myself to exhaustion. I hope that means I have room to improve based on my overall training. If I smelled lobster under 25 minutes, I wouldn't be worried, but if I did at 25:18-19, then I would be a bit concerned about my chances to run fast for 13 miles. I left the race feeling pretty good, and the cold never bothered me.

We drove back to Emily's and cooled down from there, running out to Monument Avenue to watch the marathoners pass. Dave Miller looked pretty good at this point, but he was on his own. Of all people, I saw former Spider Sam Beese, then bumped into Julie Rechel, who was waiting for her roommate to run by. I jumped on the course after I ran out of grass median and joined the runners until they got to Cary, then I turned back and headed to Emily's. The weather was gorgeous, and even though I don't want to run a marathon, I think it would have been a good year to run Richmond. I couldn't stop smiling, regardless of my own race, to be in town for such a great day. I've thought this since 2009, but when it comes time to run a competitive marathon, Richmond is it for me. I love racing down here. I'm almost positive I will do the Monument Ave 10k next year, rather than the Cherry Blossom race. It will mean back-to-back weekends down there, following the Spider Relays, and I can't argue with that. I'll definitely do this 8k again.

The Spiders were at the regional meet, and it obviously didn't go as well as last year, but things are looking up.We had three freshmen in our top seven, and Ryan Lee redshirted. He had run 24:16 at the 8k, so he should be ready to go next year.
I headed over to campus to replace my hate that I left at Wiggy's in May and he apparently fed to his turtle. Then back to DC that evening.

The next morning, I was up just in time to grab my stuff and bike and get to the metro so I could watch the Veterans day 10k. I biked from
the first mile mark to the 5k, then back to the finish to watch the GRC go at it.

Around 3:30, I headed out for a longish run and did a shortened Brook. I was averaging under 6:00 pace through six miles, and I started to feel some intense abdominal pain. I slowed down a bit and jumped into the woods at mile seven to alleviate that pain, then got back to work, keeping things under 6:00 pace through 10 miles. Traffic got a little tight for a while on Old Dominion, as it always does, and I slowed a bit. I also missed the turn I wanted to make onto Mayflower and instead took Dolley Madison to where it crossed Mayflower. As I ran through the neighborhood between Westmoreland and Great Falls, I thought my timing must be off, and I must have slowed significantly, or really gotten lost. I hit the point a mile from home in 1:25 and thought I had slowed down completely. I jogged in, mapped my route, along with my intended route that was not much different, and I realized that I had mapped a 15-mile loop, not 14. Oops.
Monday evening I did a pretty sedate eight miles around Westmoreland. Tuesday I planned to do a peppy 13 miles in Annandale. Things were going pretty well, faster than 6:10 pace through six, then I hesitated and turned back when I wound up on a street that turned out to be correct, and added an extra mile to the loop. I knew I was way off and didn't a second longish run, so I stopped when I got to Grove and walked the rest of the way home after running 13.5.

Wednesday didn't go as well as I would have liked. Karl isn't running Philly anymore, so now I will have to latch onto strangers if I want to run in a pack for the half. I was looking forward to helping him pace the first half of his trials attempt -- having his goal in mind would have given me extra motivation to stay with the guys running 5:17-5:18, and it would have been fun. I still should be able to find people with whom to run who are staying loose in the first half of the marathon. I went to BCC to do my now-solitary race-pace run. I planning initially to do three miles, then when I came through the first in 5:16, decided to do 3xmile. I got in the back of the B pack when they started a mile, but didn't really feel like fighting to the front of the group and stopped after a lap. I didn't feel like running, said that to Jerry, and he said in that case I probably shouldn't be running, so I cooled down and headed home. On and off I started feeling some discomfort along the outside of my right foot. It's the first time I've felt anything like that, and though I immediately assumed the worst and decided it was a stress fracture (like I diagnosed with my right hip the days before I went to Oregon), it's probably just the hypersensitivity that comes with tapering and focus for a big race. Luckily the scheduling technicality makes this the penultimate race, decreasing a little pressure.

Philadelphia's Saturday night low is 43, a little warm, but after Chicago, I can't complain. No rain is in the forecast as of Thursday afternoon. Then again, I did fine with rain at the Freedom's Run race. As much of a breakthrough effort as that was for me, and the fun I had doing, I am looking forward to running a pretty fast course with other people this weekend. I, for one, am happy the half and full marathons use the same course for 13 miles, though I'm sure the marathon runners won't be pleased to see the half guys splitting off and heading home.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Late October, early November

I let this go for a while, so I'll hold off on most of my elaboration.

Tuesday I did another Annandale loop for 13. I didn't enjoy it as much as last time, but I didn't dislike it, either.

Wednesday's workout was 2x2k and 4x1k, which I did in 5:04, 5:00, 3:00, 2:55, 2:55 and 2:52. It was pretty damp and cool, and everyone had steam pouring off of their bodies, which added to the light fog on the track.

Thursday night I ran a Thomas for 13. The weather was still great. Friday I ran up to and around Catholic after work.

Saturday morning, I woke up at 6:45 to get a ride from Dangerous Dave up to BCC to run. I stumbled around and tried to tie my shoes, but to no avail. I was too tired to even get dressed. I told Dave to leave me, and I went back to sleep for 4.5 hours. I woke up to what Dave, Dart, Michelle, Sam and Scott ran their workout in- freezing rain. After waiting it out, I bundled up and ran a Park Plus for seven miles and was cold for hours. The rain turned to snow halfway through, but I was already soaked.

Sunday morning, I woke up to Fishstick's voice in the hallway as I lied on the floor of the unfurnished apartment above the GRC store on M Street. I slept there after going out for Halloween in Georgetown, though I just stayed at one party. Chicken neck and Murphy were outside, ready to go, so we jogged across the Key Bridge and waited for the throngs to come along. I jumped in with Breezy in the second mile and tried to keep him under control in the mid 6:00s through the nine mile mark. I headed back to the store to drop off his gloves and hat, then caught Caitlin and ran with her to the 11 mile mark. I then chilled out with Brian Quinn and his parents while we waited for Larry to come through 16 miles. I ran over to the Smithsonian building and waited until the Notorious E.L.I. came through with Emily in tow. I ran with her to the finish, then back to the store for 19 miles total. I felt a little weird when I crossed under the bridge where I sat down and dropped out last year, but didn't mention it to Lauren at the time, she had another mile to run and her calves had been cramping since 16. Both she and Breezy PRed by a minute, so I was pleased to have accompanied them on their runs.

Monday night, I took care of the track work I delayed from Saturday. I had a zipcar for the evening and drove out to McLean to pursue a 10 mile progression, starting at 6:00 and getting five seconds faster per mile. I thought about doing it on the road, the W&OD, the CCT or the towpath, but opted for the consistency and feedback I would have with splits I could check as frequently as I wanted.

I wasn't feeling terribly spry when I started, I think I had heartburn, for some reason. It was dark by the time I started, and the track was practically empty. There were two people jogging, but they were gone a little more than a mile into my workout. I knew I was a little fast on each lap, but rather than slow down I just tried to stay consistent. I wound up generally running five seconds faster per mile than I had planned. I ran six seconds per mile faster for my last three, and the way I did it pleased me. My posture and form petty much the whole time was upright and "distance run," no lean into the curve, I didn't hug the inside, I just sped up. When I got to my eight mile and I went under 5:20, I felt really good about the way the workout was turning out. To finish it off under 5:10 felt great. Although it would have been a bigger mental boost to have done this in the freezing rain Saturday morning, I'm glad I did it this way
My splits were as such: 5:54, 5:52, 5:44 5:38, 5:35, 5:30, 5:25, 5:19, 5:14, 5:09.

The next day I did an Oak loop, I think. Wednesday I started the track workout with two miles at 5:16 with Karl. We got started slow because we talked too much on the first lap, but after adjusting, we came through right on pace. Then I did 800s in 2:24, 2:23, 2:21 and 2:20. While waiting for anyone to finish the last two 800s before moving onto 400s, I did another mile at 5:16 on my own. After that, I was kind of cooled down and decided to just run easily and skip the quarters.

Thursday night I did a Scott's Run for 11.5.

Friday I ran a little bit around Capitol Hill, but with no real focus, and just kind of passed 25 minutes.

Saturday was a cross country workout at the Cell Phone Tower field in Bethesda. We did the fartlek workout in flats, and the frosted grass was a little slippery. I would fall off the pace Sam and Witters would set, but most of the time kept fighting, though my quads went numb during the two-minute segment. They're both ready to go. After it was over, I discovered that my right nipple had bled like crazy through two white shirts. It was fairly embarrassing.

Sunday I did an Irvin, with some adjustments to keep me off Maple too much on the way to Crossing Creek. I wasn't terribly engaged through all of it, averaging 6:30s.

My department had a retreat on Monday that ended early, so I was able to get home and run in the daylight, so I did 8.5 miles on the Pimmit Run trail.

Tuesday night I went out to do an easy 13 on the New Virginia Manor loop. I was a little peppy early on, but wanted to just run relaxed. I knew I was moving when I split 24:46 for my first four-mile loop, but just kept cranking it up and did the second loop in 24:12. I ended up averaging 6:14.

Wednesday I did a 30 minute progression- 10 at 6:00, 10 at 5:40, 10 at close to 5:00, and wound up averaging 5:55, 5:35 and 5:08. I might have been a little worn out from my run the night before.

Thursday I managed to get up and rung before work- a Westmoreland. Friday I did a Park Plus, also early.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Surprise hills and more Sunday meanderings

I discovered the W&OD Trail is not as flat as I thought. Saturday morning, I took the metro out to Vienna, then ran to the trail's intersection with Maple Ave. Inconveniently for my purposes, the half mile marker closest to that intersection was on the wrong side of Maple, so I continued another half mile west to the 12 mile mark. I switched into my racing flats and headed out toward Reston, hoping to average 5:40s for 10 miles.

I knew the trail trended uphill heading west, so I was a little worried to split 2:41 for the first half, 2:46 for the second, 2:44 and 2:47 for the second mile to split 11. I was better off in the third mile with 2:51 and 2:56, then I noticed some dramatic but short hills, which slowed me down to 2:57, 2:54 over the next mile. The hills, though they included both and up and down, but the 'up' won. I closed in on Reston and went 2:58, 2:52, before turning around and mirroring my 2:52 and speeding up to 2:44. Another 2:44 and 2:46 as I got to enjoy the down on that hill, then I started to slow exactly where I had been fast before- 2:46-2:50, then 2:54, 3:00. I was getting tired now, and closed in 2:57, 2:53. I even split the whole thing- 28:30s for 57:00, to average 5:42 per mile. A little slow, but given what turned out to be a much more inconsistent course than I expected, I'm okay with it. While I was out there, I saw the off-road trail next to the W&OD which looked a lot better than its counterpart in the Falls Church portion of the trail. Had I not been running with a consistent pace in mind, I would have loved to have tried it out. I ended up with 99 miles that week, feeling no need to run an additional mile just to reach triple digits.

I was as pleased as I could have been with it, considering the surprise hills and my general distaste for 180 turns. Despite some steep but short hills on the Four Mile Run trail in Arlington parallel to the W&OD, I thought the latter was pretty gradual, though the portion near Virginia Lane should have taught me otherwise.

I took a moderate walk in Rock Creek Park to Jack Manner's going away cookout. Though fun, it was bittersweet, because he has been one of my favorite people with whom to run on weekends. His training leading up to the 2010 Boston Marathon was quite motivating, and it's been hard to see him struggle with foot injuries since. Now he's being sent to a farm in Vermont where he can run and run and run. Little by little, a lot of the guys from my early days with the GRC are going away- Dylan, Ernst, Dirk, Towpath is still around but swallowed up by 12-hour workdays. Luckily Bain has had a long streak of workouts at BCC in advance of his New York-Richmond marathon double.

Sunday I slept in and waited for my mom to arrive on her way home from Richmond. We went out to watch Lauren Peterson race her bicycle, then she headed back to Pittsburgh and I went out to enjoy what will likely be my last real long run of the fall. I headed down Grove to West, over to Fairwood, which I had not run in full in more than a year, then up Virginia to Idylwood. I took it all the way north, as it turned into Kirby, until I hit Dolley Madison/Chain Bridge Road. It was more of last week's hectic running on a busy road with a barely-existent shoulder, but a lot more manageable this time, and only for a little more than a mile. Then it was up Glebe and down, up, down and up Military Road again. Quincy was pleasant, and somewhat new, and turning on 14th and back to Kirkwood was totally new. I got to do a little of Spout Run, two blocks, not as much fun as during Marine Corps but maybe I can join Breezy for that part. Lorcom Lane was very hilly, and maybe if I hadn't been 15 miles into a run it would have been more pleasant to run. I just took Lee Highway back to the W&OD and back up Grove. I'm really getting tired of that hill. I was pretty thirsty, so I stopped and bought a Gatorade at Lee and Glebe, that helped a little.

There's a chance I'll take a short road trip in two weekends to do a long run perhaps in Prince Edward County if the weather is really good, but that might be too close to the 8k. I'm doing them purely for pleasure now, which sounds weird, because who runs for more than two hours for the heck of it? Without a doubt, I am extremely sensitive to heat and humidity. I'm not sure if anyone else feels the same dramatic difference, but these days when I run I am thriving, rather than simply staying on my feet, as I do (sometimes) in the summer.

Monday night I planned to go out to McLean High School for some quarters, but shortly after I got home from work, an unexpected rain started (well, unexpected in that I hadn't checked out the forecast). I toyed with taking the day off, but instead went outside, where it was no longer raining, and started instead toward New Virginia Manor. I evidently left my Run for Roch hat at BCC, so my backup was a still-new Gatorade synthetic hat I won at a Steelers 5k in 2007, 2008 or 2009. For a while I thought it was too much, and my head was getting pretty warm, but as I finished my first loop a light rain started up again, and I considered heading home and lying down. Then, without even thinking about it, I kept going and did another loop and felt much better once I made that apparently subconscious decision. I finished that 13 miles in 1:29.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Worth the wait

Thursday after work I started to do a Scott's Run, but changed my mind and ran to Vienna and back, with a little extra, to do 11 miles. It was nice and boring, and I kept it around 7:00 pace.

I ran to work Friday and realized just how much I dislike it, or at least the route I take. Rain was misting when I headed out and I never really felt relaxed. The W&OD trail portion is okay, but once I get on the Custis Trail I just get frustrated with the amount of bike traffic. There's a little bit of consistency with the portion on the Mt. Vernon Trail and crossing the Roosevelt Bridge, but ocne I get downtown, I'm stopping every few blocks for traffic and it leaves the run on a bad note. That said, it still is a nice way to combine a morning run and a commute, pretty much getting 12 miles done in the time it would take me to run three miles, shower and commute to work. Maybe running home would be more pleasant- I'd deal with traffic early, and not feel the long pounding downhill -- I actually prefer climbing. After work I did an easy three-mile loop.

Saturday morning, I had grand visions of the workout I would do. The weather was perfect, I felt rested, and I was ready to get faster every three miles on a 15 mile run though McLean. Unfortunately, I was so well rested because I slept longer than I should have, and didn't start my run until 10 am, which put my in direct conflict with the hordes of shoppers on their way to Tysons Corner. I had to stop about a half mile in while I waited for traffic to pass on Great Falls, then again on Westmoreland at Kirby. I responded by overcompensating with those miles, 5:53 and 5:55, where I was planning to go 6:30s. I was close on the third mile- 6:22, then once I started my 6:15s I once again dealt with traffic- at Chain Bridge Road at Old Dominion (5:45 for that mile) as I tried to cross Dolley Madison Parkway and Balls Hill Road. Spring Hill Road was once again challenging, moreso because of the twists and blind curves in the road, though the undulating hills didn't help.I think I was right on 6:00 pace though the second mile of that segment, then I slowed down to 6:05 in the third. When I hit the Lewinsville Bridge over the beltway, I had to cross through traffic to get to a shoulder, then when I got to the top of the hill at Dolley Madison, I once again had to stop at the intersection. At this point, I gave up, then headed down Chain Bridge Road to Pimmit Hills and ran home that way. Had I started the workout at 7 or 8 am, I would have been in a lot better shape, traffic-wise

Sunday morning I headed out the opposite way, up Great Falls until it became Lewinsville and got out to Brook. I usually stick with Old Dominion all the way back, but this time I took a left on Spring Hill. I found it to be a much better, and safer, segment of the road than between Old Dominion and Lewinsville. It was narrow enough that cars had to drive slowly maneuver properly, and I don't think I even saw any heading north. Georgetown Pike was another story, though. The entire 1.9 stretch west of the beltway had no shoulder to speak of, so I spent most of the constant climbing and descending switching back and forth across the road to make myself more visible to cars and be able to see them myself. Once I crossed the beltway, I had sidewalk paths, but the hills got even tougher. I thought back to the Freedom's Run Half, and how hills seemed to provoke me to run better, and how that was not happening today. I made the turn onto Chain Bridge Road at 13.25, at which point I had averaged 6:25s. I took that short road past the old Kennedy house Hickory Hill and turned onto Dolley Madison before finding the next portion of Chain Bridge. I turned onto Old Dominion and as I passed a segment of the Pimmit Run trail I guessed I had been running 1:39, looked to my watch and saw it was that time exactly. I felt pretty impressed with myself, which then deflated in last 5.5 miles. I looped through Forest Villa, headed down Carlin then up to Birch. Once again, I was climbing and dropping, and I forgot just how long that street is. When I crossed Kirby, I knew I still had work to do, because Lorraine is a bad mother. I had only climbed it once before, the day after the GMU track race, but this time I was able to focus on a walker who was halfway up the hill. The rest of the run was easy, though as I crossed I-66 a block from home, I was a little flabberghasted that I had been heading the other way 2:15 before. It seemed like days ago.

Monday I had another nice nighttime run, this time though Annandale. It was a similar to a 13 mile run I had done one morning in July, back before Oregon, but with the stark difference that I didn't worry about whether I would survive until I got home. The last time I ran it, I started with a squeeze bottle of solid ice, drained it halfway though, then had to find a water fountain so I could refill the bottle. Monday's run was much more pleasant. I'm so glad the weather is cool and I can train without fear of overheating

Tuesday night, I ran five miles out to McLean High School, via Powhatan, Birch and Old Chesterbook. I did 12 400s with 200 jog- 74,72,71,73,71,71,72,71,72,71,72,71 and ran home on Great Falls. 13 total.

Wednesday I pretty much just ran around the Tidal Basin until the GRC people showed up on the Mall for a workout, warmed up with them and then headed back for a miserable 13 miles.

Thursday I biked to McLean High School for a long workout- 6x2k. It wasn't too ambitious- starting at 80 and getting one second faster per lap in subsequent repeats. YF2K53 was there walking his laps on the outside lane in the dark. It wasn't a memorable workout, I ran 6:36, 6:32, 6:28 and 6:25, but during the third and fourth, I felt increasing gastrointestinal distress. After neutralizing the situation, I resumed the workout, but my legs felt weak. I came through the 1200 a second fast- 3:47, but slowed dramatically and stopped after a 5:07 mile. I thought about doing another 2k at 5:18 pace, but 200 meters in I just didn't have the will for it anymore, so I went for a long cooldown to total 13.

Friday morning I woke up to run before work, but felt terrible, so I slept in and only did 3.25 miles and after work got in another seven.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The last big month begins

Although my illness came at an unfortunate time because it took me a few days of holding back running in great, cool weather, it kept me under control last week. I took Sunday completely off and slept in every day except for Friday. Monday I was able to get through the work day with a minimum of misery and went out to run with no real plan. I wound up doing two loops of New Virginia Manor for 13 miles, right around 6:50 pace, and I felt fantastic. No breathing trouble, a little congestion, but a delightful run.

Tuesday after work I did a 10 mile loop at Hains Point at 6:30 pace, great weather there.

Wednesday evening I joined Hanson, Sam and Outlaw for their pre-Army Ten Miler workout- 1600-1200-800-400. Though the pacing (72, 70, 68, 66) was feasible for me, I didn't want to risk bombing and ruining my newfound confidence for the Great Pumpkin 5k on Saturday, I did a 1600 earlier- in 4:56, then did one fewer lap than the pack. I definitely felt like I could have done the whole thing, I felt totally under control running 3:36, 2:19, and 67, but I was left hungry for more. So I joined in for the 400 in 66, but cut loose with 200 left and ran 62, my fastest 400 since April 2007. And I still wanted more.

Thursday I did a reverse Steelers loop. Friday morning and afternoon I did Fishermans loops.

Saturday morning I felt alright when I woke up and got a ride to Reston with Fun Lizard, whose hips have unfortunately become unaligned, rendering her Lame Liz. It was cool but humid, and I felt okay when I went out for a warmup. I wasn't feeling quite right when I got to the line, though, and within about five seconds of the race starting, I knew it wasn't going to be good. I rushed off the line to keep up with two Africans and the creepiest boy in the world, but it was only a matter of time before I dropped. I could tell they were scared, because "Contagion" is still playing in the theaters and my lungs were making a hell of a racket. Within a half mile they had five yards on me and the gap only grew when we headed downhill, did a moronic turnaround and my fate was sealed on the way back up. I came through the mile in 5:04, two in 5:08 and the third in 15:24. It was a pretty boring course around Reston Town Center, and I spent most of the time coughing and blowing my nose. I saw Liz and Rich, but otherwise it was lonely. My third mile split, 15:36, was just five seconds faster than my three mile split of my half the week before, and my 5k time 16:15, was just a little faster than my 10k pace from the Great Race.

I reasonably expected to run in the low 15:20s and on my best day would have hung with 2 and 3 in the mid 14:40s. That course in no-man's land was brutal. Wind, general apathy, just terrible. I'm sure it would have been a lot more fun if I was racing someone, but when the race was over, I realized I had raced 20 out of 22 miles in the last three weekends by myself. No matter what, I'm running with someone in Richmond, even if it's slower of faster than I would like.

After the race I took a three hour nap and felt a lot better afterward. I went out and ran another 13, starting pretty fast- 5:30 and 5:15 for the first two miles of a Marymount-Florida loop. By 9.75, I had run 6:05 pace mainly out of frustration with the race and eased into finish 13 miles.

Sunday morning I ran around the Army Ten Mile course with Klim and Murph.

Monday morning I slept in, thanks to Columbus Day, and biked out to McLean High School for some quarters at 68-70 and HMDs. In the afternoon I did 11 miles on the Pimmit Run trail.

Tuesday's trip home for what I hoped would be an early afternoon run was complicated severely when a metro disruption at Clarendon stopped all traffic between Rosslyn and Ballston. After taking a train to the cemetery, which then turned and went back to Rosslyn's upper deck, I spent 20 minutes trying to get out of the station, then walked 2.5 miles to Ballston to avoid having to wait for a shuttle bus. By the time I got home and was ready to run, it was 8. I did a New Virginia Manor, 13 miles in the dark, and it was glorious. The whole time I was in the four-mile loop, I came across four cars, and three were together. Wide, luxurious, smooth roads, long hills and an almost out-of-body experience. I can barely see anything, especially in the first, second and fourth miles,

Wednesday I woke up for eight miles on the Westmoreland loop, then in the evening did a long medium workout on the track. Since I had done 400s recently, I instead opted for a Richmond classic- 20-8-20. It was entirely successful- the first 20 minutes at 5:28 pace, eight minutes easy, then 20 minutes at 5:20 pace. I ran smoothly the whole time, didn't kick or anything, and I had a maximum lap-by-lap variation of .3 seconds. It was more successful than the same workout I did several Sundays ago, and I know I could have gone on longer, which is how I guess you want all of your workouts to feel.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Paying the fiddler

I had to pick up my rental car for my trip to the Freedom's Run Half Marathon around 5 on Friday, but I didn't want to sit in beltway and 270 traffic all evening, so I went home for a few hours to wait it out. While watching a few episodes of Mad Men, I noticed a real pain my the top of my throat when I swallowed. It was an alarming symptom, I predicted, of an impending sickness.

I hoped a good night's sleep would help, but getting to my motel in Hagerstown was tougher than I thought. I had to pull over and take two breaks during the 75 minute drive. I had dinner and got to bed, but sleep was evasive. I woke up constantly, including once following a dream in which I was late for a race of some sort because the bus driver taking me to the starting line got lost. I didn't want to take any cold medicine, for fear of dehydrating myself.

I woke up with the sore throat spreading and congestion setting in, and a steady chilly rain falling. I thought about not going, but the money was already spent on the car, motel and entry fee. I drove down to Shepardstown, passing a Hoss's--the only roadside steakhouse worthy of Coach A's time during high school cross country and track--and got to Shepherd University.
I warmed up the first mile and back, and actually felt alright as we gathered on the starting line.

After the start, I bolted to the front, seeing two Newton-sponsored guys in the pack. By the time we got to the bridge over the Potomac, only one was near me, and by the time I climbed the first hill in Maryland, I was clear. Made the first turn and headed down a hill that was a little too steep to race down, but almost jogging down it helped relieve whatever tension the uphill had caused. I turned onto a delightful road that paralleled the towpath and hit the first mile in 5:14. I hoped to stay on it for a while, but had to make a sharp turn over a bridge and onto the towpath. I started rolling there, remembering a much different morning six or seven weeks before when I tried to hang on with Tex during a long run before wilting in the humidity and ultimately walking the last two miles. The heat wasn't a problem this time, and I split 4:59 for my second mile. I was keeping that pace up in the third mile until the course turned off of the towpath and headed up a long, long hill, partway up I hit 5:27 for my third split, the rain starting to sputter through the trees.
However much skepticism I had for the recounts from various four-hour marathoners I had read about the course in regards to its difficulty, I knew this would be the long hill and getting up it without surrendering my lead would be an accomplishment. I worried that I was going out too hard, especially going under 5:00, but I never felt like I was in over my head. I was bummed for my fourth mile split- 6:01, but I knew I was working hard for the ground I was covering, and almost all downhills had been immediately followed by sharp uphills, so I knew the course wasn't doing me any favors like the flat second mile. I thought about taking some water or Gatorade along the way, but my throat hurt too much to consider drinking anything, so I declined. My fifth mile, 5:33, was back on track, and I was a little surprised to only be a minute slower than my split at the same point last week. The next two miles, 5:32 and 5:53, we largely uphill, with a few instances to get a feel for my lead. By then, the rain was constant, and it just provoked my willingness to put aside discomfort, which probably helped my race.

The course had no actual spectators to speak of besides a few concentrations of volunteers. I would listen to when they stopped yelling for me and wait for when they would start cheering for my pursuer. After seven miles, though, I stopped running like I was scared of him catching me and started running like I wanted to make my mark on the race, it was time to push myself and see what I was all about, discovering how hard I could push. I did with the next two miles, both in 5:16, both of which featured nice rolling rural roads in the Antietam Battlefield. With the lead biker ahead of me, I had something on which to focus my attention and a few times caught up with her while climbing particularly steep hills. In mile 10, she sped away to make sure intersections were clear ahead, and I had to readjust my focus. I came through that mile in 5:44, splitting 54:58 for 10 miles, just 34 seconds slower than my 10 mile PR on a flat course with competition. I was buoyed significantly by this, because I was averaging just under 5:30 per mile and blowing away my pre-race prediction that I would hit 10 miles in 58 - 5:48 pace. It was my second-fastest 10 miles ever, beating my Spring Thaw time from 2007 by 50 seconds. And I still felt strong.

I thought, looking at the elevation profile, that the last three miles would be steadily downhill. That was wrong, so my hopes to run close to 5:00 for the last few miles were out the window. I was largely relegated to the road's narrow shoulder or the beaten up sidewalk and couldn't quite cruise like I did on the open roads. The rain was pretty much constant now, and passing cars and trucks soaked me with filthy splashes. Two more miles, 5:39 and 5:25. As I came upon the last mile, I knew it would have to be solidly downhill back to the bridge, I just didn't imagine having to switch sides of the road in poorly-controlled traffic, with no real direction from course marshals, or overtaking the 10k runners and 5k walkers on a

very narrow stretch. For a while, it helped to have the runners to pick off, until they thought they were competing with me and tried to block me. I got close to the stadium containing the finish and started to navigate some tight turns on a narrow walkway and ran right into a pack of older women walking the 5k. Three courses were bottlenecked at the finish onto a steep downhill and a 180 degree turn in the mud. I squeezed by when I could, yelled as much as I could to look out, pretty much stopped to let a woman walk by and then surged to the finish, my last mile a disgraceful 5:47 and a frantic 31 second .1 to finish in 1:12:19 -- a course record by 1:08.

As nice and scenic as the race was prior, the finish was an absolute disaster. It wasn't good for competitive runners and it certainly wasn't safe for runners or the walkers. I am pleasantly surprised I didn't hurt myself or anyone else on the course in the last tenth of a mile.

After a few seconds of trying to convince the race director there was a continuing problem, I relented and thought about my race. I had bit of an internal debate about how much by which I PRed. My fastest half marathon to that point had been 1:18:19 from the horrible Pacers Half last spring, but I had run 13.1 miles in 1:15:16 in the first half of the Chicago Marathon last year. Will had been insistent that my actual PR was the prior. Now, it's not an issue.

I can't remember the last time I felt so satisfied with a race, maybe 2007's Dash for Dogs and Cats, when I could impose my will on my body to run a certain way. I got exactly what I needed out of the race- a solid hard run, and it pretty much turned into a time trial as soon as I dropped second place, and to be blunt, that's what I wanted- just me and the course ahead of me. It was hilly, and the course was difficult, but I seemed to draw motivation from that. I'm left feeling like I'm in a great position to take a swing at what I would like for the rest of the season. A little break and some turnover work should get me ready for the Great Pumpkin 5k on Saturday, but then back to some long workouts in the cooler fall temperatures. A year ago I was tapering to get ready for Chicago, now I'm just getting started on the hardest work I have to do. There's no better time of the year to do it, either.

I got in a five-mile cooldown to hit 20 for the day and 90 for the week, then headed home, knowing the impending sickness was going to hit me like a shoe in the face. As I was finishing my cooldown, the reality of how cold I was hit me, and I started shivering to a ridiculous extent. That kept up for about two hours, and I was absolutely miserable. I had no appetite, I could barely swallow anyway, and I just wanted to feel warm again. That night I went home miserable and slept in Sunday, taking the day off of running and not leaving my apartment until the evening to go grocery shopping. Monday afternoon I'm coughing like crazy, congested so much I feel like my sinuses will burst and unmotivated to do anything. I ran from the cold as much as I could on Saturday, but it caught me, and now I have to deal with it.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Off to western Maryland

I'm in for some lonely running tomorrow, and this time I won't have the crowd support the Great Race offered. The weather looks great for the Freedom's Run Half Marathon tomorrow.

I've gotten a flurry of e-mail from the organizers, including one which links to several news articles and personal blog posts about the race. All remark on its beauty and historic setting--several miles run through the Antietam battlefield, but also on the relatively solitary setting for the race. Aside from the volunteers at aid stations, I don't expect to see anyone for most of the race. The marathoners will be headed for the same turn toward the park I will, from the opposite direction, but I won't see any of them.

I don't know if I'll PR, chances are I won't, because it's not really that kind of course.
It's half hilly, but most of the bloggers who ran it seem floored by the hills. That said, most of them are also hovering around the four-hour mark for the marathon, so our opinions of a 'difficult' hill may differ.

Pretty much, my race plan is to run the first few miles, mostly on the towpath, pretty quickly, then dig in for the uphills. There's a sharp, long uphill in mile four, then a downhil before a few more climbs, then some rolling hills in miles 6-9 before another uphill. At that point, I hope to just be in a rhythm I can relish. The last 2.5 miles are consistently downhill, and I plan to go all out at that point.

I wanted to do a rural half in the middle of the fall season, and the other main option was the Buffalo Creek Half near Pittsburgh, more specifically, near Tarentum. Once the variety of local government officials in Buffalo Township and Freeport found out I was a runner, they encouraged me to run that race. I would love to, someday, but it's heavily downhill, and I worried that with that faster course was the chance I would run a time I wouldn't have a chance of eclipsing at Philadelphia, despite another month of training and a taper.

The Great Allegany 15k is the same day in Cumberland, and I would like to run that, too, but doing the half just makes more sense right now. It looks like I'll be running the Towpath Marathon near Cleveland next fall with Pokey, Nate and Evan, so I will be able to fit the Allegany Run in the weekend before.

Wednesday night I ran at B-CC, trying to get the life back in my legs after the Great Race. I joined a bunch of guys for a slowed-down B group workout, starting with miles at 5:30 and 5:15 before some 800s, but halfway through I decided to do a series of miles, starting at 5:40 and working my way down. Unfortunately, the quick start on the 5:30 mile meant it would be hard to slow down properly, so I finished in 5:31. Then 5:30, 5:15 and 5:15 and called it a day. With a longer cooldown I had 10.

Thursday morning I ran a sedate five miles on an extended Idylwood, then eight in the evening on Westmoreland, feeling great with the lower temperature and humidity.

Friday's pre-race was six miles on a Park loop.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Lonely in a crowd of 9,000

I don't even remember where I ran on Wednesday- I think a Woodley in the morning, something from my barbershop -- where I failed to get a haircut -- in the evening, for 16.5. Thanks to backloading my mileage the prior week and frontloading it this week, from Thursday to Wednesday I ran 120.5, so I cut the next few days' mileage so I could recover a little for the Great Race.

I slept in Thursday morning, then finally got that haircut in the afternoon. I warmed up back to my place then did a 10-10-10 p-word run on my usual loop. It was really humid, and the little bits of hair from the barbershop were spreading all over my body, thanks to the sweat. I was a little fast for the first mile- maybe 5:54, and about 30 seconds ahead of schedule at 1.6 miles. I was right on for the first mile of the 5:45 segment, but fast overall, 5 seconds perhaps. I was slow for the 5:00 chunk- 2:33 at the first measured half and 5:07 for the measured mile, but felt okay. It was pretty uncomfortable, but given how much I had run the week before, I felt alright.

The next morning, I set out to do an easy Oak loop, but the humidity made me feel like garbage a little more than two miles in, so I went a little more, turned onto the W&OD and ran home for 5.

The next morning, in Pittsburgh, I did my pre-race 5 on the Schenley Park course.

When I woke up, my room felt cool, so I had a good feeling about the Great Race. When my mom and I left the house, though, the air didn't feel quite as light, and it was warming up quickly. We didn't have to wait as long as we feared for a bus ride to the start.

I warmed up to the first mile and back, seeing Jason Baim and Brian Romine along the way.
The gun went off quickly, thankfully giving me little time to tense up on the starting line. The hoi polloi cleared out relatively quickly and the pack was pretty well set before we turned onto Forbes and I heard the first few people yelling for me. Outlaw, Luff and Hanson were all up in the front, with Steve Strelick up there looking tall and Brandon G by my side. I heard and saw Scott Rosenblum and Sarah Ordaz near St. Edmund's. The leaders went through the mile in 5:10, I was a second behind, pretty much right on pace. The lead pack pulled away up the hill shortly after the mile mark, but heading down, I wasn't sure if the three guys in the chase pack with me, including Greg, were going to be running the way I wanted, so I put in a surge to catch up to the end of the lead pack. They kept accelerating when they hit CMU, and I noticed Outlaw start to fall off. I hit the second mile in 4:55, a few seconds behind the leaders, but a world away. As I turned onto Fifth Avenue, I already felt like I was done and saw black spots on the bottom parts of my eyes. Well, if I passed out, at least someone would see me...

I passed Outlaw near Central Catholic but he didn't go with me. Then I heard Gillian off to the right, a very enthusiastic pick-me-up. I hit that third mile in 5:25, about15-20 seconds slower than I wanted. I was hoping to go through 5k in 15:45 and go from there, but I forgot how difficult running alone on Fifth Avenue, especially in the sun, was. Jen Taylor, of all people, was on the curb cheering, too. I saw a dude in orange ahead of me, and kept myself going to catch him with a bit left to go in the fourth mile. I hit 5:03, giving me a 20:36 split, right on pace to break 32, which was my moderate goal.

The fifth mile is always the worst for me. Almost every time I have run the Great Race, I've
been alone in the fifth mile. In 2007 I had Cavanaugh with me, but even then I split 6:00 for it. This year, Beth Shutt was riding along the course and shouting to me, but I felt like I was plodding. All I had to focus on was Hanson in the distance, also struggling alone. I feared a bit better than before -- 5:38, and came through five miles matching my PR for the distance- 26:15. After that, though, it was ugly. A minute later, Greg, the guy in orange I had passed a while ago, and some other dude passed me in a pack as yet another person I didn't recognize yelled to me. The downhill on Boulevard of the Allies did me no favors, and I knew I was unlikely to match the 4:53 I had once run for it. Matt, Shafer and Jo all cheered on Fort Pitt Boulevard, but so was some yinzer who yelled, "Get up with them! Don't run alone!" His insight into the dynamics of distance running sadly lacked the pragmatism of how I would suddenly get about 100 yards ahead. I ran 5:14 for my last mile and 1:07 for the .2 -- terrible -- to finish 10th in 32:36.

On one hand, it was just 9 seconds slower than my PR, and I rarely run 10ks. I ran almost 140 miles in the 10 days prior to the race. It was 70 degrees in the middle of the race and a slight tailwind was just enough to keep a runner's body heat moving with him, so there wasn't much relief there, though at least it wasn't a headwind in mile 5. When I ran faster in 2007, the weather was ideal. A lot of people complained about the heat and humidity, so I know I wasn't alone in feeling their effects.

I also ran alone for the last four miles, which seems more and more ridiculous. I wound up in that situation because I wanted to run a conservative first half, but I wasn't competitive on my own in the second half. Might I have done better if I had stuck with the lead pack, gone out faster and at least had people with whom to run? Maybe if I had more confidence in my ability to hold up? A few days later, I realize I definitely should have stuck with the lead pack and seen what I could do. This three-week racing segment is supposed to be a test for what I can do without the late-season taper, and taking a chance like that is exactly what I should have done.

But those excuses don't make up for a lack of discipline and ability to keep my pace when I needed to do so. My third and sixth miles were troubling. I didn't take any chances by pushing myself in the third mile. My goals coming in were to run faster than 31:30 on a great day, under 32:00 on a decent day and under 32:27 on an acceptable day, and I didn't accomplish any of them. I did match my five mile PR, but that was eight years old, and I barely run fives.

Using the Great Race as a benchmark, I am a little short of the shape I was in during the latter half of 2007, definitely my best year. That said, I don't feel like it- part of it might have been the humidity, but I am not as competent running hard on my own.

I did get to run in the last mile with my mom, which was fantastic. She also didn't feel good about her race, though with all the people she had to dodge in the first few miles, I'm sure it didn't even feel like a race for a lot of the course.

That evening I ran 9.25 around Mt. Lebanon, feeling pretty wrecked by seven miles in and definitely dehydrated. That place is a lot hillier than I appreciated when I was running there every day...

The next morning, after a doctor's appointment, I ran in Frick, starting at the Biddle parking lot, wrapping around to the start of the Braddock Trail, down to the Nine Mile Run trail, up the Tranquil Trail and my usual two loops near the lawn bowling courts. I got to the bottom of the Falls Ravine Trail and stopped, with no interest in continuing, but having gotten in 6.5 miles. After a trip back to DC with Sam that was a veritable GRC Heritage Trail (we passed the Wiggy's Mom birthplace in Hopwood, Pa., the Towpath Birthplace in Cumberland and the Towpatch Conception Point Monument in the Shady Grove metro parking lot) I ran another 6 on the Seaton loop.

Wednesday morning, I am still wrecked from the race. My quads, especially, are heavy and don't respond when I want them to do something. My back is stiff and my head is pounding. Even my hands hurt. It's like someone beat me up while I was recovering from the flu. I just want to sleep. I got home and started to run the Double Pimmit, but eight miles in I was feeling poor, so I stumbled back home, and ate a most of a rotisserie chicken for dinner. I slept in the next morning, thanks in large part to a heavy morning rain that relaxed me so much that I just waited for my alarm to stop.

The weather is looking good for the Freedom's Run Half this weekend in West Virginia and Maryland. With a low of around 48 Friday night, I should hopefully have the tools with which to have a good race. It's a hilly course in miles 4-9, but that leaves seven miles that are fast. If I take the quick splits when I can get them and stay focused when it's rough, I can come out with a good race. The last three miles, especially, are consistently downhill, I want to take advantage of that and cross the line kicking, not sputtering. What I would like, ideally, is an opportunity to get in a rhythm that embraces an undulating, rural course and enjoy the uphills and much as the downhills. I see, at least in my imagination, a similarity to my Hickory Hill loop in Hanover County, Va, in both the weather and topography.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

He was night running, just running at night...with the 15-year-old daughter of the dean...

We finally had a crowd for the store run Saturday morning- the Fox, Terrible Terry, Big City, Luff Daddy, Rod, the Powerbar dude, Wilson the Lecturer and Wardian. The latter two turned back after a few miles, but the rest went out and back 30 minutes each way, then a few went on for more. I was tired, and fine with stopping short of nine miles. A nice run.

That afternoon, I did a loop in Bethesda from Nora's- up Old Georgetown to Greentree, out to Burning Tree and back on Bradley, just about 6:50 pace. Very pleasant.

Sunday morning, I had my first half-marathon-themed workout planned -- a long "p-word" run.
My plan was this- three miles slow, maybe 7:30 pace, three at 6:30, three at 6:00, three at 5:45 and then three Greenwich miles at 5:20. The loop would take me on rolling hills through McLean outside of the beltway and back.

The first three miles went by in 20:40- just under 7:00 pace, and much faster than I had expected or even felt. As I headed off on Chain Bridge Road to start my first segment, I felt like I was taking it easy, so I was shocked to see myself hit the first mile in 5:45. I slowed it down a little bit on Dolley Madison, but when I got onto Old Dominion things just got a little fast again. I came through the second three miles at 18:15- 6:05s. When I turned onto Spring Hill, I realized just how uphill it was and how wrong the elevation profile was on mapmyrun.com, and I started pushing. I hit the end of the third segment at 17:45- only five seconds fast per mile, but fast nonetheless, and I would eventually have to pay the fiddler for my transgressions.

The fourth segment ended up being right on- 17:15- but in the middle, I dealt with cluttered sidewalks, jumping over barriers, dodging a car that ran a stop sign with the driver not looking and subsequently performing pantomime outrage-fueled gesticulations at the driver for having been so careless. The uphill back to Dolley Madison was a little tough, but somehow the timing worked out that I didn't need to stop at the major intersections, a simple gift but significant. My right sock sagged a lot and I developed a blister on top of my right achilles tendon.

For the most part, I didn't feel like I was working that hard. I certainly didn't feel like I was running as fast as I was, and maybe that's how it got hazardous. When I got the the Greenwich Mile, I was pretty tired, and when I jogged over to the start and wrung out the sweat from my shirt, I noticed that my bellybutton was saturated in blood, for some reason I never determined. I started a quarter mile into my usual Greenwich loop, which gave me a significant downhill in the first quarter this time, which I passed in 70 seconds. I'm not sure where I found the speed for that, but once again I ruined the workout by going to hard, too early. The next 400 was uphill, and i came through the half in 2:32, three quarters in 3:55, and a mile in 5:28. I felt no need or push to go on.

In the evening, I did an easy six on the Seaton loop around 6:45 pace.

Monday I did a relatively easy 13 miles on the New Virginia Manor loop, with darkness spreading six miles in. It's a great loop to run at night- barely any traffic, good roads, and time to focus on the feeling that comes with a good distance run. No watch.

Tuesday morning was eight plus on a Westmoreland loop. I thought about cutting it short at 6.5, but kept going. It rained lightly, but it wasn't a hassle. No watch.

That evening, I biked over to McLean High School and did my warmup loops, finishing at 8. A thick fog rose from the field and covered the track, obscuring the three or so joggers doing laps. No lights, aside from a single bulb above the door along the 300m mark. Every now and then a car would head toward the track on Westbury, illuminating the fog on the back stretch and blinding me. I didn't mind because I could barely see if there were no lights at all. After a while, I was the only one out there, so with that came the security of knowing I wasn't going to run into anybody. I forgot how big the track was for a while and just ran. 3:05, 3:04, 3:04, 3:04, 3:04, 3:06, 3:04, a false start, then 3:03. They weren't impressive times, but I ran pretty consistently. When I dropped the last 200 of the sixth, I came back and ran a little fast for the last two, almost hitting 3:02 for the last on the virtue of the last 200. To run it that consistently on my own, too, was encouraging.

Wednesday morning was just 8.5 miles on a Woodley loop- it had been a while since I hadn't included the Presidents' loop portion. 6:49 pace.