October 27, 2005
One thing I definitely appreciate about being a full-time graduate student and being fortunate enough not to have to have a job as well (besides my internship at the ER) is that I can run during daylight hours. When I was working full-time and going to school part-time, I used to have to do a lot of runs in the dark, either early in the morning or after work before dinner. I never think of myself as someone who generally suffers from seasonal affective disorder, but it is definitely nice to able to take advantage of as much sunlight as possible in the late fall and winter. Of course, this may get a little more challenging when I begin my next internship (site TBD) in January since I'll have to commit to at least 24 hours a week, but I'll still be able to run during daylight at least 2-3 days a week, a marked improvement from years past.
Anyway, in that vein, it was honest-to-God sunny out when I ran this morning at 9:00 AM. There's rumors out there that the rain is coming back for yet another repeat performance this weekend, but I'm ignoring that for now. It was just a nice, chilly, fall morning. I have abandoned my denial about fall finally arriving and at long last succumbed to wearing long-sleeved shirts and tights. I just ran a nice and easy 4 miles, my Pine Manor College route, and I felt pretty good. Which I hope is a sign that my consolidation week is working out as I had planned and my easing off this week will give me renewed energy for next week and beyond.
October 26, 2005
Fartlek with a Side of Beef
I wanted to do a workout today, but the workout that I had planned (3 x 1 lap at the Brookline Reservoir) would have been pretty miserable with the high winds that we had today. So I decided to do my hill/fartlek workout instead over my Newton Centre loop again. The headwind was still pretty tough--I really thought that I was going to be blown off the path at the Chestnut Hill Reservoir and down onto the street! But since the wind was WNW, I only had the worst of it for the first half of my run. Wind being what it is to a runner, the tailwind on the way home wasn't nearly as strong as the headwind on the way out! I kept thinking about one of my high school coaches as I battled the wind--she used to be really into all this very New Age-y, spiritual kind of stuff in sport psychology. I remember her once encouraging us during a particularly frustrating track workout to "ask the wind permission to pass" on the backstretch. We all thought that was pretty hilarious and blew it off--but I think it's even funnier now that I remember this instruction every time I'm confronted with a strong headwind!
Anyway, since I now have a working watch, I kept track of my splits of hard vs. easy/medium running. I came up with a total of about 14:00 of hard running with 5:10 and 3:12 being the longest splits of hard running uphill. The rest of the splits for hard running ranged from 31 sec to 1:00. I think I felt better during this workout than I had the first time I attempted it two weeks ago, although it's hard to compare. I wrote in my log the last time that my "stride felt a little awkward during the hard running" and I didn't really feel that way this time. I felt a little tired, but my stride has definitely seemed to have smoothed out a bit over the last few weeks. Not, mind you, that this is saying a whole heck of a lot!
But I'm feeling pretty encouraged by my training so far. I think this down week will be good for me and I'm looking forward to continuing to up my mileage. It's looking like my next race will be a Thanksgiving Day turkey trot in my hometown and that could possibly (with the exception of the random Fresh Pond race) be my last race before winter sets in. It's the winter that I'm starting to wonder about. I'm thinking about running maybe 3-4 days a week and trying to phase in some swimming/pool-running. But I was also thinking that I want to get back to doing the drill/plyometric workouts that I used to do in college. So I was thinking maybe doing those 1-2 days a week on the small, elevated track at my gym. I'm also trying to decide whether I'll cut racing out completely from December-February or if I want to try jumping into a race on the indoor track somewhere at some point. There are always a few open meets at BU, Harvard, or Reggie Lewis--it might be fun to get into a 3,000m and see what happens, as long as I stay healthy and my training is consistent. Hmmm...lots of questions for the next few weeks...
In the meantime, I'll stick with building my mileage and inserting hills and tempo runs and decide what to do after Thanksgiving.
I spent the rest of the day going to class (a really interesting guest lecture on health psychology and behavioral medicine), running errands, and doing household chores. Now A. and I have just come back from dinner with one of his friends from college and I'm battling food coma. We went to one of those Brazilian "all-you-can-meat" places where servers bring around different kinds of (generally roasted) beef, as well as chicken, lamb, pork, Italian sausage, and kielbasa, and cut pieces for you. It was absolutely insane and I ate way too much--but it was a great way to boost my iron this week!
October 25, 2005
When I saw today's weather I immediately decided that it was a gym day. Not so much because of the rain (we've had so much, it's barely noticeable now), but because of the wind. The gusts are incredibly strong, making an umbrella pretty much useless, as I discovered while waiting for the T today. Yuck. So I decided to make today my elliptical day rather than Thursday as I usually do.
The workout itself was pretty uneventful. I just did 30 minutes on one of the "cross training" sessions--I would have liked to do more, but we're only supposed to use a cardio machine for 30 minutes at a time. I would have done more anyway, but it was pretty crowded at that time of day (around noon) and the ellipticals were in high demand. I like these particular machines because there's a little diagram on the panel that shows which muscles I'm targeting at any given time. This will be helpful for me in the future since I'm trying to work on strengthening my hamstrings, so now I know which incline setting will get at that.
Then I did my stretching routine and a LOT of core strengthening stuff. I've been doing my crunches pretty faithfully, but had gotten away from my back extensions and my physical therapy exercises. So I attacked those, with a new resolve to be more consistent about doing them. I'm convinced that these exercises really will help with injury prevention, especially in my hips--but, of course, this is only if I do them regularly. Funny how that works.
October 21, 2005
Is this an officially coined term yet out the in blogosphere? Because I definitely have it. It's been so crazy this past week that I haven't been able to write--but I've had this nagging feeling with me all week that I should be writing. Who was the writer whose motto was, "Never a day without a line"? Joyce, maybe? (Note: According to Google, it's practically every writer's motto.) Then again, the guilt itself seems kind of self-centered--"What will my audience do without me?" ;) Anyway, moving on...
Last week was a pretty good training week. The week before, I hit 30 miles for the first time in forever; this past week's goal was 33 (in keeping with the 10% increase recommendation), but I actually ended up with 36 for the week, mainly because of warm-ups and cool-downs, which I definitely count! This week, I'm dropping back to about 27-28 miles as a "consolidation week" before spiraling back up to 40 miles and beyond for weekly mileage. So far, so good. My body seems to be handling the workload well--although I made the mistake of wearing my boots with heels the other night and my feet and lower shins are still a little sore. I'm sticking to sneakers as much as I possibly can now!
So, let's see, highlights from last week. Here we go:
1) New running shoes! Always a good thing...it feels like I never notice how bad my last training shoes have gotten until I slip on a brand-new pair and feel like I'm walking on air. Yay.
2) I have finally built up enough endurance to be confident that I can run all the way to Jamaica Pond to do a workout and come back and not worry about stranding myself out there, miles from home. I really liked running there, although tempo pace doesn't let me sightsee so much. =) And apparently, I blew by a classmate of mine and didn't even notice! She told me in class today that she shouted my name and said hello and that I completely ignored her. Oops. I had no idea that she was even there. I'm planning to do a long run that incorporates the pond soon, so that I can enjoy my surroundings more.
3) Caught up with a former teammate of mine who's a grad student at BC and ran with her at the reservoir. It was fun to catch up, but she's clearly ahead of me in her training. I felt like I was gasping for air, only able to get a few words out on the exhale, while she was chatting freely and without effort. If we keep running once a week together, I'm going to have make sure that I plan it as a hard run!
4) On Saturday, I went out to my alma mater for their home invitational. I couldn't get over how big the team is--they now have 25 women on the roster. And the women were amazing, shutting out their other two competitors. I really think that they have a shot at going to Div. III Nationals as a team this year if they can stay healthy and focused and they all have a good day at Regionals--all of which may be very large "ifs." But their performance on Saturday truly was inspiring and I hope gives them confidence as they approach the championship part of the season. I ran the course as a tempo run before their race, which was tough. It was real cross country, in the sense that I had to really be careful of my footing, especially in the first mile. So it was hard to settle into a rhythm until the second mile because the first mile was so rocky and root-y. But I thought it was a successful workout with splits of 7:02, 13:57, and a final time of 21:41. I ran about 7 miles for the day after my warm-up, cool-down, and the mile that I'm adding on for running to various points on the course to cheer for the runners.
5) I was also further inspired by the Mayor's Cup yesterday. I had considered racing the Franklin Park 5K, but changed my mind on Friday after deciding that I'd rather do a workout at my college's XC meet and just enjoy a relaxing night out on Saturday with my husband to celebrate our wedding anniversary (4 years already!). When I saw the conditions on Sunday, I was glad I wasn't running! It was one of those days at Franklin Park that you could finish the race, go home, shower, and hours later, still find mud in between your toes, in your hair, or in your ears. I felt like we spectators needed spikes, too!
Anyway, after running an easy 6 miles earlier in the morning, I drove over to Franklin Park to check out the women's race. Another (different) woman from my grad program was racing and I wanted to cheer her on. She ran an amazing race, finishing in the top 5, which was very exciting. Also, it was fun to see Kim Smith race. I had seen her race on the BU track (last year, I think?), but on a cross country course, it just looks so different--she was flying! On the track, a runner of her caliber can just make her race look so smooth and effortless (especially if she's uncontested, as she was), but on a cross country course, I feel like I can perceive the strength and the effort of the athlete more. She was so impressive. And it was, of course, also great to see Alison again and P, and to meet Caitlin!
OK, gotta run--my stomach is grumbling. Time to make dinner!
October 15, 2005
Confession: I did not race at Fresh Pond this morning. I know I said I was going to, but I changed my mind due to a variety of factors: it was still absolutely pouring rain and continued to pour until 4:00 PM when it took about a half-hour break before resuming again, we have not one, but two leaks in our kitchen (leaks that supposedly had been repaired once already), and I didn't get to sleep until 2:00 AM last night (ok, this morning) because I got a chill for some strange reason and couldn't warm up. I finally got out of bed at 1:30 AM to throw on a pair of sweatpants, sweatshirt, and socks over the shorts and T-shirt that I generally wear to bed. So, when my husband woke me up this morning around 8:30, it felt like I had gone to sleep 2 seconds ago. I burrowed back under the covers, promising myself that I would do a hard tempo run later in the day. Oddly, I woke up again at 10:17--which is right about the time I would have finished the race if it started exactly at 10:00 AM!
A. and I spent most of the morning and early afternoon switching out our summer clothes (so sad) and purging the apartment of all the unnecessary crap we have. We've decided to streamline our life a little bit and are going to have a big yard sale and send a bunch of stuff to Goodwill. So, right now, our apartment looks like a small bomb has gone off in it. But I already feel lighter since we're getting rid of so much stuff.
Finally, we got out the door to run around 4:00 PM; the rain had taken a brief rest and it was just kind of drizzly. A. went one way to do a regular distance run in Chestnut Hill and Newton and I went the other, up to the Brookline Reservoir to do a 3-lap tempo run. I used the trip up to the res. as a warm-up, picked one of the benches as my start/finish line, and off I went. However, as I began my first lap, I quickly began to feel that I had gone out way too fast and that there was no way I was going to be able to do three laps at this pace. So I changed my mind again and instead decided to attempt 3 x 1-lap hard. We used to do this workout in college--it was always our last hard, hard workout before Regionals and signified the beginning of our taper (something I always looked forward to). Each lap is .921 miles; sometimes our coach would measure out the full mile, sometimes we'd just do the lap. I couldn't remember what the old markers were for the full mile, so I just did the laps. Here were my times:
1st - 6:23
2nd - 6:09
3rd - 6:02
I was pleased that I negative-splitted, but I would have liked them to be a little bit more consistent. I gave myself roughly 3-4 minutes recovery between; I didn't time it exactly. I just started a new lap when I felt like I had my breath back.
The path was pretty puddly. On the first lap, I was weaving in and out between them and running well out of my way in an effort keep my shoes as dry as possible for as long as possible. By the third lap, I didn't much care how wet my shoes were and went splashing through whatever puddles were in my way just so that I could run the shortest distance on the inside!
Overall, I felt OK--I definitely felt capable of the work, but my stride still feels pretty awkward at a faster pace. I was pretty tired by the time I was finished and thankful that the way back is pretty much all downhill. For my cooldown home, I really just have to rely on gravity to keep my legs moving, which is nice. I ran about 6 miles total when all was said and done.
I got back to the apartment before A. did and when he came back, he was positively glowing about his run. He had been out for about an hour, so he probably ran more like 7 miles and felt great. It was nice to see him so excited, because I know that he's been frustrated with how long it was taking him to get back into shape and feel good on a run. He said that he just kept thinking about how awful he'd felt just a few weeks ago in the heat and humidity--he felt like he'd traveled lightyears since then!
Now I'm just looking to have a nice, quiet night at home--make some popcorn, some hot chocolate, and settle down to a good movie. Aaaahhh...
October 14, 2005
It's Raining, It's Pouring
The old man is snoring...
I guess this weather makes me sleepy, too, because I really overslept this morning. I jumped awake, feeling well-rested but also like I'd wasted the day. It wasn't just misty with scattered showers and lots of wind, like the past few days. Today was a full-blown rainy day--which I actually prefer. I don't like wishy-washy, foggy, "will-it-or-won't-it-rain"-type days. I like the real thing and boy, did we get it today. But I refuse to complain about it anymore--especially after I saw that Barb has already had snow! Yikes. I'm definitely not ready for that!
Since I felt like I'd killed the day already, I decided to get some household chores done before I went out on my run and give the rain a chance to let up a little. (As much as I like to run, and even race, in the rain, I also like to be able to see where I'm going--and the rain was definitely heavy enough at that point that I was worried about that!) So I pulled out the slow cooker for the third time since this weather began and made adobo. Lately, this weather has really been making me crave soups and stews and stuff. My husband is first-generation Filipino-American and every once in a while, I like to take a stab at a Filipino dish--in this case, adobo chicken. for those of you who don't know, adobo is basically chicken (I use leg quarters, cut up and de-skinned) stewed in soy sauce, vinegar, onion, crushed garlic (the recipe I use calls for 8 cloves!), black peppercorns, and bay leaves. Technically, you're supposed to do it on the stovetop, but I found a "short cut" recipe that uses a slow cooker. It's definitely not as good as my mother-in-law's, but my husband gave me an A for effort. =) However, I was reeking of garlic when I was done and I can still smell a faint hint of it on my hands!
I cleaned up a little before going out to run--I wanted to do laundry, but wanted to include today's running clothes in the load. So it was time to run. I had been warned by a running friend that the Chestnut Hill Reservoir path was a mess of puddles, but I headed over there anyway--it's just a prettier run and I really like to avoid pavement whenever I can. Besides, there was no way I was going to avoid getting wet on this one!
I just ran an easy 3, but enjoyed every minute of it. I left my watch at home and just ran for fun, weaving in and out between puddles when I could, and splashing straight into the ones I couldn't avoid. We used to do this in high school all the time. It was great! I kept thinking about John Jerome--he has a passage in his book, The Elements of Effort: Reflections on the Art and Science of Running (Simon & Schuster, 1997), entitled "Child's Play":
"Somehow my running keeps getting serious on me...I have to remind myself not just to stick to my side of the road and grind it out, but to go leap ditches and climb hillocks, to bushwhack, to break out of that rigid plodding that is good for the coronary arteries but not necessarily for the heart or the soul. To go ahead, every once in a while, and jump in that puddle with both feet. It takes conscious thought to keep play in our running." (p. 26)
Still, I'm hoping that it all rains itself out tonight (it is, yes, pouring even as I write) because I'd like to race at Fresh Pond again tomorrow morning. I don't mind racing in the rain, but I'm not a big fan of warming up or cooling down in it--and there's no parking garage, unfortunately, like there was at the Tufts 10K! (I thought that was a brilliant stroke of Alison's--I'm definitely going to remember that for the future!)
Anyway, I spent the rest of the afternoon doing laundry and schoolwork. I really just wanted to spend a quiet evening at home with A., but unfortunately, I had to go to the annual fall meeting of the "Friends of Athletics" alumnae group for my college. I am the Alumnae Weekend Fun Run Committee Chair (and the fun run committee's sole member! =). But the athletic department decided to hold the meeting at a really nice restaurant with incredibly good food--a restaurant that I could never afford to go to otherwise, so I was looking forward to a great meal. And I was treated to a bonus in that, halfway through our meal, who shows up for a 7:30 reservation but Tom Brady of the Patriots and his fiancee, Bridget Moynihan! I was psyched, but I did my best not to stare--it was probably fortunate (for them, anyway) that my back was to them, but it was killing me not to turn around and gawk. =) I never see famous people. It's a joke with my husband and me. Once I joined him on a business trip to L.A. because I'd never been to California and we specifically went to certain places, like the Ivy, supposedly a "celebrity hot-spot," to see somebody famous. A. had been told by a co-worker that he had never been to the Ivy and not seen a famous person. However, this being my luck, I did not see any famous people, but I did run into someone I went to high school with! =)
Anyway, I left gloating messages on two of my sisters' cell phones (MA, who will think it's cool and K., who will not care and need a minute to remember who Tom Brady is), but I did reach the one sister, M., who would care most of all (she and her husband are huge Patriots fans) and she was appropriately envious. ;)
Well, I should try to go to bed already if I'm going to race tomorrow! I don't feel the least bit tired--probably because of my sleeping late this morning combined with the two cups of tea I had at the restaurant. But I should give it a shot, anyway.
October 12, 2005
Did You Just Fartlek?
Sorry for the title--I couldn't resist. A friend of mine from the cross country team in college used to have that on a T-shirt and, since I'm writing about my fartlek run today, it just popped into my head.
It is true that I've been trying to ease back into a complete training program, similar to the one I used to do in college, but the "easing back" has been hard. I'm feeling pretty good, it's looking like I'll crack 30 miles for the week for the first time in I-don't-know-how-long, and since starting this blog as well as watching the Tufts 10K, running a race at Fresh Pond, and meeting other bloggers, I've definitely been feeling inspired...and antsy. So I've sort of been picking up the pace in terms of how quickly I'm adding new elements--but I've also been doing "baby versions" of these elements, for example: my weekend "long" run has been holding steady at 6 miles, my tempo run will stay at 2 miles for a while before I aim for my goal of 4-5 miles, and I'm doing my strides only 6 at a time and, so far, only once a week. Thus far, my legs are holding up well as is my overall energy level and enjoyment--all good signs. And I've been pretty disciplined about stretching (I don't let myself go upstairs to my apartment after a run until I've completed my full stretching routine), which I think was part of my downfall last time. All of this is basically to explain why I don't seem to be sticking to my original promise to phase all this in sloooooowly. I'm now phasing in "slooowly."
This is why I decided to attempt this little hill/fartlek run of mine, which I've haven't done in over a year. It's just a typical 6-miler into Chestnut Hill and Newton and back that has a number of good hills, including Heartbreak Hill (well, a portion of it). My neighborhood is loaded with hills. The "fartlek" comes in when I run each uphill hard during the run. It doesn't matter how long the uphill is; any upward slope discernible to the eye is fair game. For this run, that means that I put in a good surge over roughly 7 hills of varying length and steepness--from the 10-sec. easy incline up to our apartment to the 5-min. (?) monster that is that portion of Heartbreak. At the crest of each hill, I slow to a jog until I've resumed relatively normal breathing and then move it back up to regular distance-run pace until I get to the next hill.
It was, of course, still drizzly and wicked windy (I really thought that I was going to blown into the Chestnut Hill Reservoir after one stiff gust), but the workout went pretty well. My legs weren't turning over quite as easily today; my stride felt pretty awkward. But I liked the challenge and it made the 6 miles go by really fast. On the first big hill up Beacon St. by Boston College, I felt pretty out-of-breath and my quads were already burning--but as I got more into the run, both my breath and my quads seemed to adjust (as if they were saying, "Oh, OK, if we really have to."). By the end, it was actually my butt and my hamstrings that felt tight and tired, which makes me think that I still have a lot of work to do to fix the muscle imbalances that I believe led to my last injuries. I ran about 49-50 minutes total.
Tomorrow will definitely be an easy day--I'm planning to go the gym and get on the elliptical for half an hour and then focus on core strengthening. I'm not going to run at all. The elliptical is a little bit of an experiment. Last Thursday, I took the day completely off, but I felt a little stiff and weird when I returned to running on Friday. I'm trying the elliptical this week to see if I can still get a "rest day" effect without any stiffness or weirdness the next day. We'll see.
October 11, 2005
"Late for Class" Pace
This morning, around 10:00 AM, I once again confronted the foggy, misty, chilly, soggy weather and struck out down Comm. Ave. for a brisk 5-miler. My body actually felt pretty good, but I wasn't especially into it mentally. I ran east, figuring that with more pedestrians around, I could do more people-watching to keep my mind occupied. I felt like I was skimming along surprisingly well, but had no real sense of what my pace was. My route took me through the BU campus and at one point, I got caught at an intersection. When I was finally able to cross again, I was running alongside some girl dressed in street clothes with a backpack--we ran pretty much stride for stride for almost two blocks before my route turned me down another street. I figured that she was probably late for class or something. It was funny to me and I wasn't sure of the proper protocol--should I pick up my pace and attempt to run past her, or should I drop back a few strides? Is this weird that we're running together like this, at the exact same pace, for what was obviously completely different reasons? Am I bugging her? Is she bugging me? I felt like saying something--like "C'mon, you can make it" or "Late for class, are we?" or "Race you to the streetlight"--but I chickened out. =) I got back to my apartment in about 41-42 minutes for just over 5 miles, so apparently "late for class" pace is about 8:00 mile pace. I have a feeling, though, that "late for an exam" pace would be quite a bit faster.
October 10, 2005
Inspiration with a Touch of Jealousy
Watching the Tufts 10K today was both great and gut-wrenching. I loved seeing all of these amazing elite runners battle it out at the front as well as the camaraderie of the back-of-the-packers. I've never competed in an all-women's road race (well, all-women's for the most part: I saw a few intrepid--or intrusive--men, depending on your point of view), so I'm looking forward to next year. I remember that my aunt used to run this race all the time when I was little and the race was known as "the Bonne Bell"--she always used to say that we'd run it together some day. I really enjoyed myself--in between the breath-taking pangs of jealousy I experienced every time I saw a woman dig in for her finishing kick. Oh well, there's always next year!
And it was really great to see Alison and meet her boyfriend, the famous "P.," as well as Blondie. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to meet Audrey, since I didn't catch them until after their cooldown and wasn't able to join the group to go to P. and Alison's apartment. But it was really fun putting faces to names. I was really impressed with Alison's race and, since I didn't have a watch on the race, I was hoping for good things after she passed me with a brilliant smile on her face! So I was glad to hear she chalked up a new PR.
My own run this morning was pretty uneventful. My husband joined me again--this time for a 4-miler including a loop around the Brookline Reservoir. He only wrinkled his nose slightly when I suggested it--I am not known for the most adventurous runs, especially very early in a training cycle, as I am now. A. much prefers to dodge in and out of new neighborhoods, doing house-hunting-type neighborhood tours, and follow hunches that a new road will lead to a familiar place.
So we ran the Reservoir with only the ducks for additional company and ended at the park near us where we ran 6 strides before jogging home. It was chilly and misty, although not actually raining. Unfortunately, the harder, steadier rain wouldn't come until the middle of the Tufts race later on, but I was well bundled-up by then and shrouded in an enormous green poncho.
Well, it was a nice, sweet long weekend, but it's back to reality tomorrow, so I better get to bed!
October 9, 2005
Catching Up Again
I've been sort of AWOL the past few days blogging-wise since I've been busy with school, internship, and spending quality time with A. I've also just been moving a little slowly in general since I think I'm coming down with a cold--I always seem to get a cold when the seasons change. But, anyway, now that I have a few minutes, here's the update:
Thursday--I took the day entirely off. I don't think I'm at the point yet where I can run every day without risking too much, so I decided to factor in a day off. Thursday's a good day for me to do this because of my class and internship schedule--it doesn't give me a whole lot of time to dwell on the fact that I didn't run that day!
Friday--If Thursday's day-off should have made me feel all bouncy-springy during Friday's run, it definitely didn't. My 4-miler, which included 2 laps around the Chestnut Hill Reservoir, was a real slog from start to finish. I felt tired, my breathing was labored, and my legs felt heavy, but I was glad that I at least stuck it out for that second lap of the reservoir to make my run a full 4 miles.
Saturday--A. decided to join me for a 6-mile loop into Newton and back over Heartbreak Hill, nice guy that he is. Having company made me more willing to get out there. After Friday's slog, I was sort of dreading my run, especially since it was so warm and humid and just generally soupy. I had been toying with the idea of throwing 2 miles of tempo into the run, but couldn't get psyched about it--especially with the very humid conditions and light, but steady, rain. I just decided to get out the door and start running and if the running gods were in my favor, I'd attempt the tempo. It turned out that they were--or at least, A. did a nice job setting an easy pace for the first 2.5 miles, the perfect warm-up. At that point, he gave me the house keys and said, "Go--I'll see you back at home." So I took off at tempo pace (probably somewhere between 7:00 and 7:30) for a little over 2 miles. I ran 16 minutes at this pace just to be sure that I covered a true 2 miles. I was surprised how good I felt--even going up the third hill of Heartbreak Hill (don't ever let anyone tell you that Heartbreak Hill is singular!). I trotted the last mile and a half home for my cooldown--not that I would have been able to go much faster anyway with all the people on the sidewalks making their way to the BC football game!
Sunday--This morning, A. and I got up and pretty much went right out the door. I wanted to do another 6 miles today as my "long, slow distance" of the week and I wanted to get off-road for at least part of it. So we chose a course that took us for a loop each of the Brookline and Chestnut Hill Reservoirs. Again, we started out together for about 2.5-3 miles before A. shooed me ahead of him (with his work schedule, he hasn't been able to run much lately, so our levels of fitness aren't quite in synch. But usually we're pretty compatible running partners.). So I went on ahead. Today was much nicer since the temperature had dropped and it was just kind of misty or drizzly without actually raining. I felt OK--nowhere near as terrible as Friday, but definitely not as good as yesterday. Just a normal run. Not bad.
Tomorrow I'll probably just run 4-5 miles with some striders before heading down to the Tufts 10K to do some serious spectating. I'm very excited--I need the inspiration! Good luck to all who are running tomorrow! Unfortunately, I only know what Alison looks like, so I'll only be able to cheer for her directly. But know that I am cheering on all participating bloggers in spirit!
Last year, I went to the Tufts 10K by myself--I was supposed to run, but ended up giving my number away since I injured my hip just before it. I cheered my little heart out all by myself on a stretch of Comm. Ave. on which I was the only spectator. I kept getting weird looks from some of the elite athletes who I would cheer on by name--"Do I know you?" Anyway, I hope that next year, I'll be able to join in the fun and I'm looking forward to everyone's recaps!
Good luck to all and to all a good race!
October 5, 2005
A Chance Encounter
Today's run was pretty uneventful. I ran about 4.5 miles by going up to the Brookline Reservoir, doing 1.5 laps there, before jumping onto Rte. 9 and going down to Brookline Village. From there, I picked up the D line and pretty much followed the D line by weaving back and forth through the neighborhood that runs alongside it back towards my neck of the woods. On the way back, I stopped at a park and did 6 x 25-sec. striders on the soccer field there. It felt weird to do striders; I felt kind of rocky. It's been so long since I've tried turning my legs over that quickly.
As I was trotting back up the hill to our apartment, I saw this little old lady walking up the street ahead of me. As I passed her, I noticed that she had pretty decent muscle tone in her legs for someone of her age (she looked about 80-85 years old). She was wearing shorts, a flower-printed T-shirt, and sneakers and carrying a big green Nalgene bottle, giving me the impression that she walks like this a lot. She eventually passed by our apartment building where I was stretching out front. She stopped to talk to me and started telling me about how she used to run when she was young and how she once won a white ribbon for coming in third place in a 75-meter sprint, but she "could never win the blue ribbon, no matter how hard [she] tried." She had a very high-pitched, sweet voice, a lot like the little old lady in "The Wedding Singer" that Adam Sandler gives singing lessons to. She had the same big eyes as well. I really enjoyed talking to her. But my favorite part of her story was when she told me that she used to think that the races she ran were so unfair--because her legs were so short and everyone else's were so long. (She was well under 5 feet, maybe 4'9".) She said that she used to try to get the officials to group the competitors in the races according to leg length, but "for some reason" they would never listen to her! =) She was so kind and friendly that she totally made my day--even now, I've got a big smile on my face as I write this.
It was also sort of funny that I met this woman, because all during my run today I had been thinking of this neighbor of my parents, another elderly and very active person. H. is probably about 80 years old now himself and has run for years. As far as I know, he never misses any of the races held in the town I grew up in--whenever I've run the same ones, his name is always in the results. One of my favorite stories that my dad told me about him was a time when my dad ran into him when they were both running. I think it was winter and pretty cold out, so both were bundled up pretty well. H. waved to my father who called out, "How ya doin'?" or something along those lines. To which H., raising his gloved fists over his head like a prizefighter, replied, "I'm 70 years old today!" I hope I'm like H. and this woman when I am of such advanced years!
October 4, 2005
Online Again--In More Ways Than One
Well, my computer is back online again. It's been very sick with a nasty virus over the past couple of days. But my hero of a husband, with the help of his tech-savvy friend, seems to have healed it--thank goodness. I've become attached to blogging already! I go around all day with a little narrative in my head, like Fred Savage on "The Wonder Years" or JD on "Scrubs," trying to decide what of the minutiae of my running and everyday life is worth recording here. "And at that moment, I knew..." =)
Sunday--Since I had to go to my internship in the afternoon, I had to forgo the fun apple-picking trip that my husband and a few of our friends took that day. This would be very sad if I wasn't enjoying my internship so much--I'm learning how to do psych assessments in the ER of an area hospital and I'm loving it. Two of our friends, B. and C., who were going apple-picking, suggested that I hang out in their apartment in the South End, which is closer to the hospital, until I had to report for duty. So my husband dropped me off when he picked them up and I did my run from their apartment instead.
That morning, I woke up with a little soreness, but nothing that told me that racing the day before had been a bad idea. This gave me a lot of confidence and I decided that I'd do a slow run of 6 miles to flush the lactic acid out. Six miles is the farthest I've run (at one time) so far, so it's my only "long run" distance at the moment.
I did a very Boston-y run--weaving through the streets of the South End, making my way over to the Prudential Center, cutting across Boylston and Newbury Streets, and down the Comm. Ave. Mall to the Public Garden and the Commons. I did a loop each around the Garden and the Commons before making my way back pretty much the same way. It was beautiful out and tons of people were around, making the most of the weather. There was a festival of some kind happening on the Commons, so it was fun to people-watch.
Monday--Yesterday, my body reminded me what the "two-day effect" is all about. Still nothing to be too alarmed about, but I was definitely more sore and heavy-legged than I was on Sunday. So I did an easy 3-miler that included a lap around the Chestnut Hill Reservoir and made sure to stretch and do my physical therapy exercises very conscientiously.
Tuesday--Today I woke up feeling completely back-to-normal and my 4-mile run backed that feeling up. I ran a loop between Comm. Ave. and Beacon St. that took me through the BU campus and Coolidge Corner. I tried to run on whatever dirt or grass I could find, usually on the borders of the sidewalks or on the strip that divides the street from the parking lane. I like running in busier areas with more people and stores on occasion, but the hard surfaces are tough on me. You know you've been running in the city a while when you feel like you can tell the difference in "give" among concrete, asphalt, brick, and cobblestone!
So, I'm back online again, computer-wise and running-wise. I'm thinking I may try some striders tomorrow after my run--yay!
Good night all!
October 1, 2005
The Race That Wasn't A Race...At Least Not At First
I woke up this morning before the alarm and just lay there for a little bit thinking, "Hmmm...do I really want to run Fresh Pond this morning? It's so nice and warm here in bed...and I might not be ready yet to even do a tempo run...and I kept waking up during the night, so I didn't get a great night's sleep...and I can tell I'm going to be stiff as soon as I get vertical...and did I mention that it's nice and warm and comfy here?" After I ran out of excuses, I got up and stumbled to the bathroom, stumbled into the running clothes I'd laid out the night before, stumbled into the kitchen to make my pre-Fresh Pond breakfast of tea and toast, and stumbled out of the apartment and to my car. Can you tell that I'm not much of a morning person? Especially on the weekends...
I left home around 9:10 and got to the starting line around 9:30. The race started at 10:00, so I knew (theoretically, anyway) that I had plenty of time to warm up with a lap around the pond. Whenever I run Fresh Pond, I always like to warm up with a full lap around, yet I'm always afraid that I'll take too long and won't get back in time for some stretching, a pit stop, etc. Thus, I always end up running my warm-up a little faster than I find comfortable. Today was no exception. My warm-up was definitely faster than it needed to be, which made me feel tired and heavy-legged--which, in turn, made me worry that racing was a bad idea and that the race would be a horrible slog from start to finish. Oh, I was a negative little runner this morning!
But today was also no exception in that I, of course, got back to the start with plenty of time to stretch and prepare for the race. There were more women stretching and warming up than usual, but most of them were talking about running the 5-mile option. That relaxed me a little, as some of them were pretty intimidating in terms of appearances (which, I know, doesn't mean anything, but still...)--this was supposed to be a "tempo run" for me, after all!
The starter called us all to the line, gave us our instructions, and warned us about the gazillion unleashed dogs on the course per usual. Then he stepped back, saying "Ready, set..." and we false-started! Well, the 10-15 or so of us near the front, anyway. We all just burst out laughing--the weekly Fresh Pond race is supposed to be a very informal, laid-back affair but hey, a race is a race, I guess. =)
The second time, we waited for the "Go!" before jumping off the line. Since this wasn't supposed to be a "race," I wanted to go out faster than a regular distance run pace, but tightly controlled. I knew that the adrenaline would make me go faster no matter what, so I wanted to feel like I was going slow, holding back over the first mile. When I've run this race in the past, it seems that I always ran the first mile in 6:30 or so and then just tried to hang on until the finish, in spite of whatever condition I was in. This has made for some pretty ugly second miles, let me tell you!
So I figured I'd aim for 7:00 or slightly faster for the first mile, and then, depending on how that felt, I'd try to pick it up in the second mile, and then really try to finish strong over the hill in the last half-mile.
Fortunately, the tired and heavy feeling in my legs during my warm-up had completely left me--it often seems like that old saying about a bad dress rehearsal meaning a good performance holds true for me. It was killing me a little to hold back the way I was, especially because there were only two women ahead of me (I was pretty sure) and they were maybe 10 seconds ahead. But I didn't want to sabotage my race plan so early, so I just got into a rhythm and hoped they'd come back to me a little.
I went through the mile mark just about where I wanted to. My watch is still broken (I think I'll have to just break down and buy a new one...sad), so I couldn't tell for sure, but I think it was just under 7 minutes--6:50? 6:55? That boosted my confidence, so I decided to try picking it up the way I'd planned. I settled into a slightly faster rhythm, which was a little scary because by now the adrenaline had definitely worn off and I was starting to really feel the effort. Which is where the unleashed dogs come in.
During the second mile, two dogs at two separate times crossed right in front of me on the path. The second one came so close to me that his side grazed my shin and I really thought I was going to go down. Fortunately, I dodged just the right way and avoided a full-on collision, but it still angered me enough that I swore really loudly (sorry, Mom =). I didn't swear directly at the owner, but definitely loud enough that I was hoping he heard me (again, sorry, Mom =). It's really not the dogs' faults, it's the clueless owners that drive me nuts. I'm really surprised that I've been running this long and haven't fallen over a dog or been clotheslined by a leash.
Anyway, my little hissy fit also dropped a little more gas in my tank and I surged by the second-place woman just before the second mile mark. They don't usually give mile splits at this race, but there was a very nice man there reading them anyway (I think he was a club coach). My split was 13:48 and I was close enough to the first woman to hear her split of 13:44. This meant that I had a decision to make: do I stay satisfied with 2nd place and the gap between us and just coast in...or do I suck it up, trust the fact that my #1 strength in racing is my uphill-running, go after her, and hope like hell I can catch her and hold her off on the downhill into the finish?
I threw caution to the winds and all my caveats about this being "just a tempo run" out the window and ran after her. She was just three strides ahead of me at the top of the hill and I was starting to despair that I'd actually catch her before the downhill (downhill-running is most definitely not my strong suit), when some guy came charging up behind both of us and a voice in my head screamed, "Forget her! Go with him!" He really blew by us, but I took off after him and passed her--still, I could hear her breathing right behind me all the way down the hill and down the stretch to the finish. I have no idea how close we actually finished--I'll check the results in the paper tomorrow, I guess. My final time was 16:48 which, according to the pace calculator on the Runner's World website, is 6:43/mile for 2.5 miles. But Fresh Pond is also notoriously short, so out of curiosity and an obsessive-compulsive desire to be truly accurate, I plugged "2.4 miles" into the pace calculator and came up with a pace of 7:00/mile. So I was probably somewhere in between and either way, it's a good, reasonable tempo pace for me, I think.
The woman and I introduced ourselves to each other--it turns out that she graduated from Middlebury in '98, so we must have run against each other in college, probably even finishing around the same times. We ran our cooldown together, running around the pond again (backwards and without the hill) and had a really nice talk. She's a teacher and pastoral counselor at a local Catholic high school and is thinking about pursuing a graduate degree in social work and since I'm studying to be a licensed mental health counselor and my advisor's been pushing me to do my internship at a multifaith pastoral counseling center, we had a lot to talk about. She's planning to race at Tufts, so now I also have another runner to look out for and cheer on!
That gave me about 7 miles total for the day and 25 miles for the week. This was an awfully long entry for a race that wasn't supposed to be a race, but whatever!