Monday, August 30, 2010

Week 10 Plan

For your reading pleasure, I have another short and sweet post for you.

Welcome to Week 10! I'm looking forward to the three-day weekend and my family's visit. I have already requested that my mother make a Costco run so that I can have enough toilet paper and rolls of paper towel to build a small fort in my apartment. (I've also requested more olive oil and peanut butter than is probably necessary.) My parents will be here, and I get to run a whole lot this week. Huzzah!

Tuesday - 4 Miles
Wednesday - 4 miles
Thursday - 4 miles
Saturday - 18 miles
Sunday - 3 miles

I'm ready to rock this week...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Run, Baby, Run

I was ready to post on Wednesday about how I was one run away from smashing into a wall, but my run on Thursday went much better than expected so I felt silly. I’m in no way losing motivation. I’m looking forward to the next couple of months, and I’m really excited about running my first marathon. (I’m also looking forward to the changing season which will bring the following: sweaters, hot chocolate, warm blankets, and snuggling. Mmmm…snuggling.) On Wednesday, though, I definitely felt my body reaching the point of “Aw hell no!" but I guess that happens when you try to run when you're sick. I probably shouldn't do that anymore. Then again, my new found addiction to running seems to be calling the shots these days.

Reminder: the goal is to cross the finish line with enough of a functioning body to think about running another race.

I decided not to go to New Haven this weekend, which meant that I got to run a glorious (and I use the term loosely) 16 miles in DC. I started my run at 7 this morning just to make sure that I was able to meet my coworker (who joined me for three miles) by 9 AM. I didn't realize how quiet 7 AM is on a weekend. During the week, everyone's going to work, going to school, or going on morning runs. I started by running up to the boarder between DC and Maryland, coming down through Glover Park and Georgetown, and back to my apartment with just enough time to meet my coworker. (By the way, I actually felt comfortable running the first 10 miles. COMFORTABLE.) Then, my coworker and I hit three miles worth of trails, and I finished my last three on the treadmill.

I tried my first energy gel today -- Lemon Sublime GU. It was kind of gross, but I figured I should try an energy gel before my race. The official gel of the Baltimore Marathon is Powerbar Energy Gel, but the running store was all out. I'll get around to testing the sponsored gel on my longest run. Other than being gross, I think it helped to have the extra boost along the way.

When I finished my run and took my shoes off, I noticed that my left second toenail had turned black. Hypochondriac Alisha freaked out and called both of her parents thinking that she might have a blood clot or some exotic runner's disease. Thankfully, it doesn't hurt. However, I thought about going to the doctor and spent some time on WebMD and Google. (I was still betting on exotic runner's disease.) Then, I sent Matt a message because as a future M.D. and a runner, I figured he would know what was up. It turns out that I bruised my toenail, and I get to watch it die and fall off! Sweet! And gross! Mostly gross. But, kind of awesome.

Three miles tomorrow, and then I roll into Week 10 with a bruised toe, a nearly lost voice, and a knee that hates me.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Is it autumn yet?

If I had to use one phrase to describe how my weekend runs went, I would have to use “Struggle Bus.”

I hate whining about the humidity, but I know that it affected my performance on both days. Saturday’s run included legs through Georgetown and around the Tidal Basin, which is a gorgeous route. I found that as long as I was in the shade, life was fantastic. When not in the shade, it was very easy to feel exhausted. Same deal on today. Of course, I wonder if my sprinting the first two miles this morning had something to do with the fact that I felt like crap for the last three.

Taking a “glass half full” approach, forcing myself to run in crazy heat means that my runs in the cooler September/October months will feel much easier.

Schedule for Week 9 (less than two months to go!):

Monday: Technically, I have Monday scheduled as a rest day but I’m going to hit the gym to work on core and upper body strength.
Tuesday: 3 miles
Wednesday: 4 miles
Thursday: 4 miles
Saturday: 16 miles
Sunday: 3 miles

I’m considering making a trip home this weekend, so I may end up running 16 miles in glorious New Haven. (Plus, that means I will get to escape the Glenn Beck/Sarah Palin hullabaloo that’s going to going to go down on the Mall.) We'll see, though -- especially since my parents are coming for Labor Day weekend. (Time to hide the disinhibitors...)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mid-week update

Lesson learned: Hills are not my forte, and I need some serious practice if I plan to survive the marathon.

You can see the elevation chart here:

The increase in elevation is gradual, and I hear that last leg is almost completely downhill. I'm sure it'll be fine, but uphill running is about as fun as a root canal.

On Tuesday, I purposely planned a route that would force me to run up a few hills. The first mile and a half was almost entirely uphill -- which I didn't realize. (It's funny how I can choose to ignore elevation on gmap-pedometer.) Running that distance uphill certainly wasn't terrible, but I definitely had to pump myself up to make sure that I kept going. The second, third, and fourth hills were a little more of a struggle. The inclines weren't steep, but I'm really bad at maintaining form when running uphill. Developing strongle muscles might be a start, but I the internet tells me that the strategy for running uphill just involves shortening one's stride and lifting one's knees.

I made the decision to skip my run on Wednesday in preparation for my week to host lady pod. (Lady pod involves cooking a delicious dinner for my lady friends in DC, telling stories, and plotting adventures. I went Tex-Mex this week with fish tacos, peach salsa, appropriate fixings, and fresh guacamole. I honestly thought that I would have enough time to run after work and cook dinner, but let's just say that I'm glad I didn't attempt to run.) My training schedule has been readjusted to make up for the miles that I didn't do on Wednesday. Tuesday ended up being five miles because I'm still directionally challenged, today I ran 5.5 miles, and I will run 5 miles on Sunday. The long run for the week is still 10 miles; the key here will be to plan a new route that is a.) different from my usual long run routes and b.) includes a few hills to keep things interesting. Suggestions?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

Matt, a good friend of mine who is also going to be a fantastic doctor one day, informed me that there was a rumor going around that I would destroy the GRE and tow its mangled corpse behind me on my 15-mile run. I want to clear the air a bit and confirm that this rumor was, in fact, true.

Sort of.

Yesterday’s GRE went much better than expected. The problem with knowing that the test adjusts depending on how many questions you answer correctly can be a little demoralizing when you are faced with what looks to be an easy question. On the Quantitative section, this seemed to happen a lot but I guess I was actually okay. The Verbal Section, as predicted, was fine. Score wise, I’m close to or above the curve for most of the schools to which I plan to apply. The writing is the only section that I’m worried about (as it was the only section that I didn’t really practice) but we’ll see. I may surprise myself.

This is one of those things where I could be very happy with my score if I was not an overachiever or worried about being a competitive applicant in the Ivy League. I’m going to wait to get my writing score to decide if I want to be happy with my score or try the test again in late October or early November.

So anyway --

Steve and I ran 14 miles today…


We started at Woodley Park and ran down to the Rock Creek Park Trails to the Capital Crescent Trail (or so we planned). Steve pointed out that we actually ended up on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National History Park Trail, which is parallel to the Capital Crescent Trail except until when we went up a bridge to go up to the street. This only caused minor confusion and we just went back the way we came. All in all, it’s not a huge deal because as Steve pointed out “We didn’t die or drown…and still ran 14.”

Running with someone whose company you enjoy is awesome. First, there’s someone to listen to your rambling. (Not that I rambled, and I’m pretty sure my internal monologue made a lot more sense this time around.) Second, it helps a lot with pacing. Both of us decided that we wanted to run slower than our race pace, and both of us made adjustments throughout the run to keep steady. Third, I definitely felt a lot safer on the trails with someone else. (But, that’s probably because I watch way too much Law and Order.)

The other awesome thing that happened was the downpour that started somewhere around mile six or seven. While this confirms that is a bloody liar, running in the rain is great – except for all of the puddles and mud. Even then, once you get home and you realize that you’re filthy, soaked, and just ran a shit ton, you feel amazing and proud of your accomplishment. Then, you run a warm bath and all is right in the world.

With Week 7 in the bag, I'm moving into Week 8. Whoa, we’re (almost) halfway there. Whoa-oa, livin’ on a prayer.

The plan:

Monday: Stationary bike and weights
Tuesday: 4 miles
Wednesday: 4 miles (temperature pending with running group)
Thursday: 4 miles and weights
Friday: Off
Saturday: 10 miles (special goal: beat time of last 10-miler)
Sunday: 3 miles and weights

With no GRE in my immediate future, I’m going to cook delicious dinners, pleasure read, work on my plan to become more bold (details later), and sleep like it’s going out of style.

Until next time…

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"No, no, no, light speed is too slow."

I find it rather amusing that some weeks seem to drag and seem to whiz by as if, at some point on Sunday, I ordered Colonel Sandurz to prepare the ship for “Ludicrous Speed.”

What’s that? You have no idea what I’m referencing? Well, you need to go to the video store and rent yourself a little movie called Spaceballs.


Seriously. This week is going by way too quickly if you ask me. It must be that I have quite a few tasks to complete at work and fill every minute of my day once I get home. I’m not complaining, but I do wish that Wednesday wasn’t nearly over.

Runner's Log:

I planned to check out one of two running groups tonight (the DC Run Club organized by City Sports and the Potomac River Running Fun Run Group) but decided against it because it’s a little too humid for outdoor running. Both run groups seem like a great way to meet new people while completing my daily workouts. And, I imagine it will help me get used to running without my iPod. Hopefully, the humidity will break by next week so that running outside is pleasant. (And, I certainly hope that the temperature this weekend is cool enough to make running 15 miles not suck.)

My four milers have been okay this week. I did run outside yesterday and noticed that my time per mile has improved. Of course, the last two miles dragged because I’m obviously not ready to run the new speed in humidity. Today, I went for the treadmill – which was totally fine. I tried checking out my form in the mirror (after reading this post about running form) but that got awkward real fast when other gym goers started to get between the mirror and me.

Tomorrow is my last short run of the week. Then, it’s walking and cross training until Sunday’s long run.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Week 7 Plan

Tomorrow begins Week 7 of training.

Earlier, I mentioned that I'm terrible at math (though all three of this weekend's practice GRE exams showed improvement). I counted incorrectly and the training schedule needed to be reconfigured. I spent some time yesterday moving things around, and I believe that I should be okay from here on out.

The schedule for this week looks like this:

Monday, August 8 - Walk to and home from my office
Tuesday, August 10 - 4 miles
Wednesday, August 11 - 4 miles
Thursday, August 12 - 4 miles
Friday, August 13 (superstitious Alisha is superstitious) - Walk
Saturday, August 14 - X-Train AM, last minute test prep, pleading with the ETS gods, GRE 12 PM
Sunday, August 15 - 15 miles

Total: 27 miles

I'm nearing my 48th hour without prolonged human interaction. I left my apartment once yesterday, and that was to run eight miles. Real clothes didn't happen. Hardcore GRE studying did. As a reward, I purchased two new video games and spent the remainder of my Saturday night glued to the television. Today was very similar, except I opted to study outside after my practice test and put on real clothes. Of course, spending so much time alone means so much time to sit with my thoughts and flush everything out. I think I've got Mama Odie's wisdom down to an art.

Things I need for this week: complete focus, strength, and endurance.

Time to get to work.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

An easy eight

I'll keep this one short and sweet.

Things to celebrate:
1. I've reached the point in my life where running eight miles feels comfortable. Sweet!
2. I crossed a state line on my run. The Arlington Memorial Bridge is gorgeous.

Oh, anyone have thoughts on compression shorts? I bought a pair yesterday and tried them today. On the one hand, I don't have extra fabric flopping around. On the other hand...spandex? I suppose this is a new chapter in my life.

Friday, August 6, 2010


Once again, I’ve found myself mega distracted. I’m not having another mini-life crisis or anything (honestly two within a period of a few weeks would be a problem). No, this time, I’m going to attribute my distractions to happiness – things to which to look forward, new adventures, excitement in the lives of close friends and family, and so many happy daydreams. Sometimes, there’s nothing quite like that dreamy, far-off look when you’re dreaming happy things. I’m in a good place right now – even with the GRE eight days away.

Mm…so many happy endorphins!

A few things while I’m thinking about tomorrow’s long run:

I can't decide if I want to run 8 or 10 miles tomorrow. Also, I kind of love that this decision is one that can be made. I remember when two miles was a struggle.

An e-mail from the Baltimore Running Festival’s organizers has pointed out that there are 70 days until the marathon. That still seems far away, but it’s nice to have some sort of perspective on exactly how much time that I have.

I'm starting to get really excited about the coming months. I know that Click proved that fast forwarding through life was a bad thing because you miss all of the moments that make life awesome, but is it autumn yet?

I need to take better care of myself during training. I’m doing an okay job, but I think I was much more strict about my diet and overall health at the beginning of this journey – lots of fruits and vegetables, taking my vitamins consistently, sleeping. SLEEPING. I definitely rode the struggle bus for most of the week because of the pseudo late nights. Factor in the running, and I’m leaving work an hour early to nap. So, I’ve decided to get adequate sleep to sustain training, a forty hour work-week, and a social life.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Oh, hey, August!

Oh, August. How did you arrive so quickly?

No, seriously. How?

Other than my GRE date on the 14th, August 2010 will be a pretty exciting month. On the 15th, I will celebrate my one year anniversary of living on my own and becoming a somewhat responsible adult. By “somewhat responsible,” I mean that I’ve mastered the important art of budgeting, haven’t destroyed my apartment, can cook for myself, and have made several strides in the realm of professional development....but, I still love the idea of drinking a Whiskey Sour out of a squirt bottle and dancing wildly in Adams Morgan. (Not that that happened recently or anything. I did not wake up on Sunday, as a close friend once described, “feeling like Satan took a crap in my brain,” and I certainly did not skip my 3-mile run.)

On the 24th, I will celebrate my first year of gainful employment.. Even though work was sometimes stressful, I genuinely love my job and what I do. My job has confirmed my desire to stay in the education policy field and has sparked a new interest in Out-of-School Time initiatives (after-school, especially). Once this damn GRE is over, I’ll be diligently working on applications to Vanderbilt, UPenn, University of Virginia, University of Maryland, Columbia, and (hissssssssssssssssssssssssss) Harvard for doctoral programs. Stanford is also on the list, but I’m not entirely sure I want to move out west. Basically, I’m having a love-affair with the Mid-Atlantic (sorry New England) and UPenn, UVA, and UMD are looking pretty good.

But, enough about that – let’s talk running.

Important Development: I’m officially registered for the Baltimore Running Festival. There’s no turning back now. Other than completing the marathon, I'm looking foward to exploring the neighborhoods in Baltimore. I realized that my only impressions of the city come from The Wire and through the window of the Acela train (whoo business trips!). I suppose that ought to change. If you're interested, you can check out the map here:

Since August and September require that I kick things up a notch, I’ll be running Tuesday through Thursday, Saturday (long run), and Sunday (except when my long runs exceed 13 miles). This week, I have:

Tuesday: 4 miles

Wednesday: 4 miles

Thursday: 4 miles

Saturday: 8 miles (goal: time 80 minutes or faster)

Sunday: 4 miles

Between running and preparing for the GRE, I say it's about time to kick ass and chew bubblegum. Unfortunately for training and the GRE, I'm all out of gum.