"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

Monday, August 29, 2011

I remembered how to race

My workout race Thursday evening was okay. It was extremely humid, and my decision to run in my gray GRC shirt was questionable. I blazed from the start, a little too fast, because I let up in the last minute of the first mile, which I covered in 5:00, I think. I eased up for a minute, during which an Ethiopian passed me. I would catch him on my fast minutes, then drop when I slowed down, and he was visibly confused as to what I was doing. He left me behind in my third recovery, and I definitely slowed down on my own, though my last 30 seconds were great. I won a gift certificate to the Chris Sloane Running Company. During my cooldown with Laura, a delightful cool breeze transformed the climate, something we could have used 30 minutes prior.

Friday morning was just an easy seven miles on the Pimmit Run Trail. I should finally be able to do some more work on it Tuesday afternoon.

My Megabus trip back took 6:40, thanks to traffic escaping Hurricane Irene. By the time I got to Pittsburgh, my knee and hip joints were about ready to fall out. Dad made linguine with clam sauce and I got to play with Arnie.

The weather was cool but humid in the morning for the Run Around the Square. I knew it wouldn't be an easy race when I saw Curt Larimer. The course isn't very fast, with a flat first mile, an uphill mile+ and less than a mile downhill. Only former Hounds Joe Mahoney and Dan Lesser have broken 16:00 there, and some good runners have raced there. It's a good course, though, and a wonderful race, usually boasting more than 1200 finishers.

We started out fast, and even the mile that is on the road is hard, because the bricks on Milton Street are really uneven. There are dips three feet away from a rise, and it really pays to know the road's contours. It's almost like running through a field that's been torn up, despite the brick surface. It's a fun element to the race. I tucked into the pack behind Playmaker and a dude in red. Some guy in green was directly to my right and someone else was on my heels. My heart and lungs caught up with my legs when we made our first turn.

We turned down the steep hill into Frick Park and Red came hurtling down the hill, almost like he had tripped and was constantly catching himself and we descended, but he was moving with enough confidence that he thought he was going to break the race open. Well, he didn't. Within 30 seconds, the pack, which I was leading by that point, swallowed him up and left him behind, because whoever he was, he didn't break 17, unless he was banditing. He couldn't have run the race before, because nobody in their right mind would try to run away from the pack we had that early in the race with two long hills ahead of him. Playmaker and I started dueling up with hill, and I had a step on him, as we came through the mile in 5:00. When we crested the hill, I put on about seven fast steps to get the flat stretch off on the right foot, and I think I moved a few times to block a pursuer. "Gamesmanship!" Dave Wilson said later. I maintained a slight lead as we rounded the ballfields on South Braddock Ave, wanting to be in position to speed up when we hit the second uphill trail and blow it up with a mile to go, but felt a little worried when we turned onto the sidewalk, whoever was on my tail wasn't interested in running with me.

I swung a little wide on the left turn onto Forbes, and stepped onto the street, for no reason apparently. A few seconds later, Curt and t-shirt passed me, then Playmaker. I jumped back onto the sidewalk before we crossed the bridge, which had a knee-height cement barrier protecting the sidewalk. T-shirt hurdled it, now in a battle with Curt. The pack was moving away from me and I thought I saw Green out of the corner of my eye, but evidently not. I let the three leaders pull away, but once we turned back onto the trail, I just moving again. I remembered how broken I felt in 2009 when Remix and ERF Chaunce dropped me, and I realized I wasn't going to gain anything jogging it in. I couldn't see anyone directly ahead of me, but I knew he was up there somewhere. I hacked away at the hill, and wondered when I'd see the two "mile" mark, which is more like 2.1. When I crossed it in 6:28 (I know... but the whole mile is uphill) Playmaker was about 50 yards ahead of me. We had more climbing to do, and I kept after him.

When we crested the hill, my left foot slipped and I yanked my ankle. It hurt like hell, and I decided that maybe it would make the heavy breathing I was about to do feel a lot less terrible. I launched myself down the hill, intent on catching Playmaker. It's pretty darn hard to catch someone down a hill, but I decided I wasn't going to let him beat me. I didn't know it at the time, but I had a comfortable lead on Andrew Bell. I just started running recklessly down the hill, with a late-race intensity I haven't felt in a long time. I passed Playmaker with about a third of a mile left and put some distance on him. I was shocked and how I was able to fight back there. I eased up a little with about a minute left and I heard him on my tail, so I pushed again and held him off by two seconds to finish in 16:24. It was a second faster than I ran when I won it in 2008. I checked old results later, and only once or twice was my time not good enough for second place. T-shirt (Pat Dantzer) and Curt had run 15:57 and 15:59, by far the best top two the race had ever seen, and Playmaker (Chris Stoddard) was two seconds behind me, so if anyone could see the race in the woods, they got two good shows.

While I'm not crazy to have lost -- had I at least stuck with the leaders in mile two I would have had a chance -- I was pleased to have been able to recover and run Playmaker down in the last mile. It seemed for a while like it would be a lost race, but I recovered well. When I think back to the time I started chasing him in earnest and when I caught him, I'm amazed that I was able to do it, and as fast as I did. If nothing else, I regained some resilience and courage that I had been missing for a few years. The prize was a gift certificate to New Balance, but they didn't have much worth buying, so I picked up some socks and bodyglide. At least it wasn't another Elite Runners and Walkers gift certificate...
Dan Holland raced, the only Hound to compete.

Sunday morning I headed to the West End for my favorite long run loop- 20 miles. I made a few changes for some turns, so the mile markers were very general.

I woke up at 7:30, not terribly excited to run. After dropping my bottle off, I finally got started at 8:30. I was hoping to get going early enough that I'd be heading down Noblestown Road when Nate and his gang were heading up, but that would have required me to start much earlier. I definitely felt the race still in my legs when I got started, somehow the flat stretch on Wabash Street felt the same to me as when I started climbing Steuben and Chartiers. My first change was turning onto Stafford and Stadium, a long downhill and a steep uphill. When I got to the top and hit Motor Street, a nice breeze cooled me off. Sheraden Park looked really nice, as did the hillside near the pool for which I coordinated the landscaping work in June. I picked it up, relatively, a bit in the Sheraden Park coop, then slowed down when I climbed Kelvin and Mutual, another slight change.

I didn't exactly roll down Chartiers past the cemetary, and I knew it wouldn't be a fast run. My calves were really sore, so I decided to just finish it and not try to run too fast. I grabbed my bottle or raspberry lemonade propel that I found in a cabinet, took a few swigs and dropped it at the top of Broadhead Fording. The Ingram section was uneventful, and someone said hi to me on West Prospect when I got into Fairywood. Man, that neighborhood is just so run down and isolated. I ran through the project and past the Giant Eagle distribution center, the most hopping place in the area, and jumped on the tracks. I had to walk over most of the rocks near the railroad yard fence. The weeds had grown pretty tall and dry near Napor, but they didn't itch too much when I ran right through them. Someone was walking along the Industrial Highway, which seemed to fly by, but also look like it was hilly for some reason. The sun wasn't terribly hot, and when I got to Mazette, it was overcast enough that I didn't notice it. Some blonde girl almost hit me with her car in Emerald Gardens.

I grabbed my propel and headed up Clearfield, which was completely overgrown- I had to slow to climb it, which gave me a good chance to drink more. It's a ridiculous hill, really. Middletown Road was no better, though I really didn't have any trouble climbing it. When I got to the bottom of Stratmore I left the bottle and my shirt and just kind of cruised in the last few miles, not going too fast and not having any doubt about finishing, unlike last week's sweat box. I noticed a little trail between Clearview and Crafton, maybe that would be better than the brick laden, and uneven,Clearview. I explored a bit in Crafton Heights, and when I hit Noblestown, I just cruised it in, giving my legs a break, though I love to just tear it up for those last two miles. I finished with 20.75, averaged 7:01 and was tired for the rest of the day. The hills were rough, but I was never too tired to keep going, I was just beaten up from the bus ride, the race and almost 21 miles of climbing and descending.

Monday morning, I ran at 5:15 before taking the bus back to Washington. I just did eight laps of Chatham Village- 3/4 mile. I was surprised to run 5:29 for the first, then 4:58, then six 4:45s.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Distance hangover

Last week, I had a great workout despite feeling lethargic even after the warmup, so as I moped my way to the track this week, I hoped I was in for an encore. I finished my warmup with a 74 second quarter, and didn't feel too stressed, so things boded well. The workout was 6x1200 with two apiece at 74,73,72, certainly attainable, and I was eager to do it. I led the first one in 3:41, after a 76 second first 400. The second one, also 3:41 felt fine. Our pacing was perfect for the first lap of the third, but I suddenly got extremely tired, and I showed why running 21+ miles the day before a workout is a bad idea. I took Lily for almost two miles around the track, then did another mile or so before hitting the road for another cooldown.

I was still feeling wrecked in the morning when I did a Park Plus, so I cut off the second time on Highland and came up Grove instead for 6.5. Because I didn't push myself too hard last night, I will take another shot at the workout tonight at NOVA's fundraider 5k for Jerry. It just so happens I'll be doing one of my other coach's workouts- running the first mile hard then fartleking the rest, probably 1:15 on, 1:30 off. That should give me a good workout but not drain me for the Run Around the Square Saturday morning in Pittsburgh.

I've done that race three times- had my ass kicked once, run away with it once and done alright once. In 2004 I just couldn't handle the hot and humid weather that floored me before the first mile was over. In 2008, I ran with the overflowing enthusiasm of having returned to a job I liked, but in 2009 I had just done too much hard running that week, including a 12-mile tempo two days before, to be able to hang with Remix and an SOB from ERW.

The temperature has been cooling consistently, and soon I'mm feel secure in going out for 12 or 13 and can get back to some of the places I have been neglecting, Annandale in particular. And, with my new Zipcar membership, evening runs at Difficult Run are much more feasible.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I guess I'll just run home

I finally had a good night's sleep Sunday night, so good that it was hard to wake up Monday. I dragged myself out and ran a Westmoreland pretty smoothly, though I was definitely dragging. That afternoon I joined Elyse, Will, etc. at Lululemon in Logan Circle for a little more than six miles around the Mall. I hadn't run there in months, I can't even remember the last time- probably June while courting the Striders for the Father's Day race. It was clear and in the low 80s, which made for a pleasant run, though I was feeling pretty dehydrated and was thrilled to stop at the water fountain on the north side of the Capitol. It was a nice change from all of the times I ran with them from the store that dare not speak its name and just ran out to the Arlington Bridge and back.

Tuesday morning's temperatures were in the high 50s, and I was a little more excited to get out and do a longer morning run- 13 miles on the Thomas Loop, another I had neglected since June. There was barely any traffic on Williamsburg, more on Military, though I got really really thirsty around mile nine and slowed significantly.

I was planning to go home, run and easy and get to work on my section of the Pimmit Run Trail. Then there was this earthquake. The metro slowed to 15 mph and the roads were jammed, so I went for a third option and ran home after work. I just had a pair of racing flats in my office and no socks, so I walked to City Sports in Chinatown to buy some, but my debit card, bent by an overzealous clerk, did not work, so I had to walk back to the office to get some cash. With my socks finally purchased, I started on my way home, cut to about 10.5 miles from my normal 13 mile route. I had to carry my phone with me in a plastic bag because I was expecting a call from someone in California at 8 p.m. I ran to K Street, over the Key Bridge and along Route 29, which was a lot more pleasant than I remembered. I like the section in miles two and three of the Marine Corps Marathon, but unfortunately the fellow called me around then, 45 minutes early, and I tried, for a while, to interview him while running. It worked well, for the most part, but I got a little sweat in the speaker, so it was hard to hear and I eventually had to stop and talk to him standing still. Afterward, I went back on my way and found 29 to be a lot more agreeable than the last time I ran that section- January 2010 when I missed my turn from Glebe onto Williamsburg, when I was still new to the area. I stopped when I got to the East Falls Church Metro and rode home, getting another 8.25 miles for 21.25 for the day.

Wednesday morning I felt as though I had run many more miles than I had the day before, and my Fisherman's 3.25 wasn't much fun.

I guess I should fill in the two weeks I haven't documented...

Friday, August 5, 2011


Last August was tremendous for training. This August, so far, has been horrendous.

Right now I can't imagine running hard for a long time. Which is why the framework of my season is so refreshing right now. As much difficulty as I am having running with ease right now, I'll be racing in a totally different climate. Last summer was no peach, either, but by the time I got to early October, and even the beginning of Chicago. I'll be doing the long workouts in September, October and November, all of which will be a lot more appealing to my delicate temperature sensitivity. ("Just get a skirt that wicks the sweat away, Nancy." - Joe Wiegner)

I have a week in Madison County, Va. to keep me motivated, I need it right now.

Tuesday night I did an Oak loop for 10 miles at 6:50 pace, with nothing significant to note. It wasn't fun, but it wasn't miserable.

Wednesday morning I got up to do my typical workout morning Park Plus, but 41 seconds into the run, I just had no desire to keep going, so I stopped. That afternoon it was cooler (high 70s) but extremely humid. I dragged through the warmup and decided against the 3x2 mile, instead planning on 5x1200. We started out with two 3:45s, and they went smoothly, though I noticed I felt no different during the intervals than I did during the recovery. This became a much bigger problem when I led the next one, intending to run 3:42,and I found myself two seconds fast for the first lap. I stopped running and just had enough. By this point rain was falling, but the temperature and humidity did not change. My head was mired in a cloud of heat and the rain drops did not help it at all. I certainly did not want to run anymore, so I went home in hopes of getting a good night's sleep.

Thursday morning, I thought I had it all figured out- a frozen squeeze bottle of gatorade should get me through my run to work without the crash I felt last week. For the most part I felt alright, though I stopped at 8.25 to completely wring out my shirt. I started getting overheated at 9.5, crossed the bridge and again stopped at Leo's at GW for more gatorade. I made it exactly 12 miles, then I stopped for a traffic light. When I took my first step off the curb when the light went my way, I started to lose my balance, so I stopped immediately and walked the last mile.

After a day full of rehydration, I went home and ran a Seaton, six miles at 6:40 pace. I was shocked at how fast I went without even trying, when just 10 hours before I would have just been happy with being able to run another mile.

My mom came to visit, and she wanted to run Friday morning, so after a good night's sleep, we drove to McLean high school, and I warmed up for what I planned to be 5xmile speeding up a second per lap starting at 5:16. I did so for the first mile, but I felt wrecked afterward, so I just did another 2k loop as a cooldown. Mom felt no better after four miles on the track. Suffice it to say, we will not be doing Riley's Rumble.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sometimes it dries, most of the time it doesn't

Once back from Oregon, my primary focus was to regain whatever heat acclimation I had shed while running comfortably for a week. Rather than risk the logistical folly of trying to do the Dirk farewell run from Bethesda to Alexandria Sunday morning, I planned to run from home and then go to Alexandria. What I didn't count on was the persistence of Pacific Time in my blood. After the Crystal City race, I went home with the intention of being in bed by midnight. I was, but I remained alert and anxious until well after three. I don't remember if I woke up with my alarm at 7, but I definitely woke up at 11:30, so the running would fall to the evening...
The heat during the day didn't seem that bad, so when I went out for 13 around 7:30, I didn't anticipate any trouble. It quickly became apparent that even though I recognized it was much hotter, my legs did not, because my splits through 6 miles of the Double Pimmit averaged 6:20. I slowed my ass down, but it was too late. I got the water bottle I had stashed at eight miles and just ran home for nine. It became pretty clear that this would be the recovery week I had planned a week later.

Monday morning, I wasn't waking up, and when I did, I realized what my body had been hiding since Friday- a pernicious cold. I dragged myself through work and headed down to the gym to use the treadmill. The earphones I brought didn't work, so I found myself listening to the serious steps I was taking on the belt, in comparison to the walkers next to me. I got pretty self conscious about it, and without anything to really keep my focus, I lost enthusiasm quickly and stopped at three miles. I went home, had some Benedryl and went to sleep.

The next morning I did a pretty evenly-paced 10 miles on the Oak loop, ending up a little faster than 7:00 pace. I felt good for eight miles of it. That afternoon I did six easy with Will to the Memorial Bridge and back.

I didn't run Wednesday morning, then totaled 12 at practice that evening, which was delightfully dry, though hot. For 8x800, I went 2:31, 2:30, 2:26, 2:27, 2:26, 2:24, and 2:21. Though it was nice to run fast, I think it might have been more useful to just run 2x :32, :30, :28, :26 for consistency's sake, to get a better feel for the times in the heat.
The dryness was a godsend, though. I was dry by the time I did the cooldown.

Thursday morning saw nothing of the sort when I ran to work. For most of the first 10 miles, I was okay, stopping twice for water fountains. I was soaking wet two miles in, but able to keep an easy seven minute pace, mainly thanks to the gradual downhill on the W&OD, Bluemont Junction and Custis trails. To be frank, it would be a lot more interesting to just run on roads to get to work, since the trails are pretty miserable and boring as all getout. When I crossed the Roosevelt Bridge and passed the Kennedy Center, my dehydration hit me. I needed HALP.
Luckily I came across a deli near GW and bought a squeeze bottle of Gatorade, immediately feeling a difference when I had some cool fluid replacing the waterfall on my epidermis.
That evening I ran an easy five on Idywood.

Friday morning I felt like crud, and waited until after work to run on the treadmill in the office gym. I just did 20 minutes of 5:30 pace at a 2 percent incline, with a warmup and cooldown.
Saturday morning I ran another easy five on Idylwood.

I was in Hyde Park, NY Saturday for Mikey's wedding, and the weather was a bit more fair, up there, so I thought about doing a long run Sunday morning. I remembered I could do a long run any day, and this was a rare opportunity to spend with my high school friends, so I backtracked on that commitment. Instead, I just started running a little loop I put together that would hit 10.5 miles, but took a wrong turn early. I saw an opening into the woods, and thought I'd check it out. I kept pressing and eventually found a little trail, which I followed for about 15 minutes until it started feeding back on itself. I headed the other way and found myself on Roosevelt Farm Lane and its various spurs. It was shady, and certainly cooler than DC, but gigantic flies kept biting my back and shoulders. I really could have done without that. The brunch was looming, so I hurried back and ended up with about 9.25 miles.

Monday I woke up and did a Westmoreland for 8 miles, then did an easy four on the treadmill after work, slightly uncomfortable because I left socks at home.

Tuesday I slept in a bit, after getting home late from a baseball game, so I just did the Seaton 6 at 6:40 pace.