Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Spartathlon

Okay readers: If I ever come to you and say that I want to run the Spartathlon, you have my permission to talk me out of it.  This sounds intense!
These are the last few minutes before the start of the Spartathlon, one of the world’s toughest ultra-marathons. The 310 runners in this year’s race are doing their final stretches. Energy supplements are being taken; running belts are being checked; caps with neck flaps to protect against the sun are being adjusted. Many athletes have a crew to support them during the race; there is time for some final words of encouragement before the runners edge towards the starting line.
At 7am precisely, as dawn approaches, the race begins. The field strings round the Acropolis and past the agora, the heart of ancient Athenian life, before heading into the early-morning traffic. The pace is gentle: an average runner can keep up for the first kilometre easily. But this race is about distance, not speed. After that first kilometre, another and another and another lie ahead. Everyone in the field has completed at least a 100km (62-mile) race. For this event, they will have to run 245km (or almost six consecutive marathons) within 36 hours. Only 72 of them will end up making it all the way to historical Sparta.
 From The Spartathlon: The Lunacy of the Long-Distance Runner, via The Economist

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Operation Sub-2:00 Half-Marathon, Second Attempt

With 2012 coming to close, I've been looking ahead to my 2013 race calendar and racing goals.  As of the beginning of this month, I've registered for two races: the Rock 'n' Roll USA Half and the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler.  And, I'm certain that I will sign up for a few smaller races during the first half of the year.

Last March, I missed my goal of finishing a half-marathon in under two hours. (Actually, I've missed it a few times before.)  I can give any number of excuses for my failure.  I was just coming off a cold. I was focusing on marathon training. I walked through a few water stations.  I just didn't run fast get the idea.

I've come close so many times before, and I'm convinced that I can do it this time. 

There are 11 weeks between me and this year's Rock 'n' Roll USA.  Instead of creating a plan myself, I used the Smart Coach tool from Runner's World to form my half-marathon training plan.  Here are the first three weeks:

I like the idea of three easy runs, but, most weeks, I will do at least one short run closer to my intended race pace. (This plan suggests running an 8:59 pace during the race for a finish time of 1:57:46.)

I'm really excited to do this!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Oh Really: Black Women Avoid Exercise to Preserve their Hair

The Huffington Post covered a study that found that two of five African-American women avoid exercise because of concerns about their hair.

"To find out if women were putting hair above their health, the researchers surveyed 103 African-American women who came to the dermatology clinic at Wake Forest University in October 2007.

They found that more than half of the women were exercising for less than 75 minutes per week, which is less than the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise.

That's also less than U.S. women on average, according to a 2007 study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that found about half of all U.S. women were exercising close to 150 minutes per week.

More than a quarter of the women in the new study said they didn't exercise at all.

About a third of the women said they exercise less than they'd like because of their hair, and half said they have considered changing their hair for exercise.

McMichael and her colleagues found that women who avoided exercise because of their hair were almost three times less likely to meet the recommended physical activity guidelines. That finding, however, could have been due to chance."
Ignoring the survey methodology (this is hardly a representative sample) -- this can't be an actual thing, right?  There are women in this world who are more concerned about their hair than living a healthy lifestyle?  In the words of Mr. Oblaski, such an excuse is "one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard." I fail to see how this can even be considered an excuse especially when African-American women have the highest rates of being overweight or obese compared to other groups in the U.S. 

I mean, to some degree, I get it.  I'm a black woman who has spent many hours (and dollars) at the salon on haircare.  But, a perfect hairdo will never be as important to me as getting exercise.  Then again, I guess it's a matter of priorities...

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Quoted: Is “Fitspiration” Really Any Better Than “Thinspiration”?

Looking at rock-hard body after rock-hard body it occurred to me that fitspo may be thinspo in a sports bra. After all, the problem with thinspo is that the images represent a mostly unattainable ideal that requires great sacrifices (both physical and mental) to achieve and I daresay that most of those “perfect” female bodies, albeit muscular instead of bony, are equally as problematic. Many people will say that while it’s rare to be born with skinny genes but that muscle can be built with hard work in the gym. And I agree. But in most of these pictures, we’re not looking at your average woman who does Bodypump twice a week and can now lift her children with ease. We’re looking at a very exclusive set of dedicated athletes that train very hard and eat a very particular diet to maintain extremely lean figures. A second argument would be that super skinny is unhealthy while exercise is very healthy. Again I agree. Except that for the majority of women to look like the girls in these fitspo pictures they’d have to be young, probably not have had kids and quite possibly have an unhealthy devotion to exercise and eating. And let’s remember that women need body fat not only for spawning but also for our own health. I’m not saying every fitness model has an eating disorder. I promise! I am saying though that compulsive over exercise can be just as deadly as other eating disorders and yet it so socially sanctioned that it’s often promoted as inspiring.
-From "Is 'Fitspiration' Really Any Better Than 'Thinspiration'?" via The Great Fitness Experiment

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Jingle All the Way 8K - Race Round-Up

It's beginning to look at lot like Christmas!

I've started my shopping, trimmed the tree (read: pulled the pre-decorated tree out of its box and fanned its branches), made several holiday playlists, and have started holiday baking.

My dad came to town this weekend for the annual Jingle All the Way 8K.  I've run this race a few times, and it's always always a lot of fun.  This year, the bonus was seeing my dad line up for his first race longer than a 5K since he started running last year.

My goal this year was to run a 40-minute race, which, with the running that I've done lately, seemed like a reasonable goal.  I started off strong and caught up with Stef at the beginning of the race. I settled into a comfortable pace after about the first mile and maintained it for most the race.  I didn't PR, but I'm really happy with my time.

Gun Time: 45:28
Net Time: 44:58
Average pace: 9:03
Division: 239 / 978
8K Personal Best: 43:46, Run! Geek! Run! 8K
Jingle All the Way 8K Course Record: 44:38, 2011

Unless another race comes up, that's it for 2012! I've got a few races on my list for next year, but I'm looking forward to planning my calendar for next year.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Quoted: Sandied

I took it very hard. There’d be no finish line delirium of pain and happiness. Instead, there was just the awful feeling that New Yorkers hated runners—we were self-indulgent and selfish, and how dare we want to run when people needed help.

When my running buddy Terry and I decided to do the Bucks County Marathon in Pennsylvania two weeks later, it didn’t really stand a chance as a substitute. We didn’t know quite what to do with our extended taper, being complete novices. And we just assumed that one marathon could be substituted for another. We’d been told that the crowds of spectators in New York City could somehow transfer their energy to the runners to help them along. But since we’d never actually experienced this, we found it easy to discount the effect. Surely just one spouse or relative would be just as energizing. Plus, our training had gone well. We had two comfortable 20-mile runs under our belts and felt marathon-ready, even if we’d been hitting the bottle while our apartments were dark and cold post-Sandy.

Bucks County had different plans. A dirt course that included several miles covered with newly laid gravel and lacked masses of cheering spectators put paid to my hopes of a 4:20 finish. I spent the last six miles doing a whimpering run/walk, my pace bands long since ripped off in frustration as I fell further and further behind my goal. I crossed the finish line in tears. I was crying for my own shattered expectations and for the pain I was feeling. These were not the delirious tears of happiness I had imagined. I know not everyone had such a negative experience at this race—I just couldn’t get over the fact that it was so different from what I had trained for.
 From Sandied by Noirin Lucas

Friday, November 23, 2012

One Does Not Simply Walk 26.2 Miles While Watching Lord of the Rings

This is awesome!

A woman who goes by the name preservetheverve decided to walk/run 26.2 miles while watching all three of films in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy.  From The Mary Sue:
Here’s what she had to say, “In honor of The Hobbit coming out in December, I decided to have an unexpected journey of my own. 26.2 miles in 9 hours and 18 minutes, a movie marathon marathon.” Before you put on your nerd monocle and fault her for not watching the extended editions, first of all, think about how long that would be, second of all, read this: “When we watch our family LOTR marathon for real we will watch all three extended edition blurays on widescreen with hobbit themed food.” Booya.

So what’s next? “Now I just have to figure out how to do a Triwizard Triathlon,” she wrote. I can see this catching on. Before you try it yourself though, read the comments on her post to hear the entire experience.
Gives new meaning to the term "runnerd," doesn't it?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Run Turkey Run 5K - Race Round-Up

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for having the means to travel to my parents' home in Connecticut.  Even though being here can be weird sometimes, it's still nice to come back.

I'm thankful that I'm healthy enough to run.  This one goes without saying.  I'm thankful that I haven't had any major injuries or illnesses (knocking on wood) that have kept me from doing something that I love.

I'm thankful that I can find and register for a race no matter where I travel.  After the Marine Corps Marathon, I didn't really think about my post-race plan.  I would run, of course, but I wasn't sure that I would race beyond one or two holiday-themed races in DC. I figured that since I was home, it would be a great time to run with my dad so I went on a search for Turkey Trots within a reasonable distance.  I settled on the Run Turkey Run 5K -- the price, distance, and distance from my bed were right.

I'm thankful that I can run with my dad.  My dad basically said, "If this is what you want to do on Thursday morning, this is what we'll do."

I'm thankful for challenges.  Dad drove us to the race. We started together, but I wanted a little bit more of push and went on ahead.  The course was an out-and-back along a trail in Hamden. It was a pretty straight forward course, and there was a bit of bunching at the beginning but things thinned out.   I wanted a PR, so I started the race at about an 8:30 pace and held that for the first mile.  The second mile was a little bit slower, but I was able to pick up the pace for the last mile.  According to my watch, I hit 3.1 miles in 27:25 (Personal Best - 25:47 at the most recent Love the Run You're With). 

I'm not entirely disappointed by this.  I made a lot of progress in my first year of running because I had a lot of progress to make.  Now, if I want to run faster, it's clear that I'm going to have work a lot harder to reach my fitness and time goals.

I would love nothing more than to PR at this year's Jingle All the Way 8K.  It's two weeks away, but I have plenty of time to get in a few really good runs and speed workouts.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Adios Barbie: Binary Thinking About Body Image Hurts Us All

Supporters of the “Black is Beautiful” campaign and several others similar to sought to redefine beauty in ways that both included and uplifted black women from what Princeton professor Imani Perry describes as the “generally degrading and unattractive, or hypersexual and less feminine” images of black women in society. The message was clear: as Bill Cosby famously put it, “It isn’t a matter of black is beautiful as much as it is white is not all that’s beautiful.” Could it be that black women ignore the dominant images of beauty and instead dance to their own tune, or have we simply flipped the coin and replaced one set of controlling images with another?

Being skinny was never a crime. Yet somewhere along the way, African American pop culture took over and a binary standard of beauty once more became dominant among black women. In a classic two-steps-forward-one-step-back scenario, the Washington Post announced what watching any rap music video will tell you: skinny is out, “thick is in,” and having some extra meat on your bones is a virtue (cue the parade of “fiercely real” women with curves, because “real” women obviously come with curves.)
From Binary Thinking About Body Image Hurts Us All via Adios Barbie

Thursday, November 15, 2012

From NYT: Young Endurance Runners Draw Cheers and Concerns

The New York Times has a very interesting piece about two endurance runners - ages 10 and 12 -- who compete in multiple (challenging) events per year.

From afar, they looked like twin pixies, Tinker Bell One and Tinker Bell Two, though the   sisters were actually two years apart. Kaytlynn, 12, and Heather, 10, had long blond hair tied back with elastic, and the younger girl had a tiny stuffed animal — a raccoon — pinned to the front of her sports bra. Each of them weighed about 60 pounds. Their thighs were not much bigger than saucers, and the full loop of their hips was only 21 inches.
These children sweetened the scene with a dollop of cuteness, but curious onlookers were unsure whether to be intrigued or appalled. The trail’s ascent was an exhausting slog, and the precarious downhill required careful balance as swift feet inevitably slid on the loose and stony ground. The dry, thin air could suck the strength out of even the fittest runners.
Were these girls really capable of competing with elite athletes? And even if they were, was it a good idea for children this young to be in a race this tough?   -- From Too Fast, Too Soon

This...this seems a bit much for two girls so young.  Multiple endurance events on the weekends, without a hint that there are rest periods?  Bodies need time to recover.  Hearing your dad say "You quit on us today"? Seriously?  They're 10 and 12 and they're competing in trail marathons that challenge people who have been running longer than those girls are old.  The girls seem to enjoy what they're doing, which is great.  But, I can't imagine the toll that this is going to have on their still developing minds and bodies.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Project Unspoken

This video, from Project Unspoken at Emory University, asks men and women what they do to avoid sexual assault and harassment.  While the interviewed men don't have much to say, the women in this video list how they change their behavior to protect themselves from harassment and gender-based violence.  I can't say that I'm surprised by the responses (or the "I haven't really had to think about that" from the men) but, as Feministing points out, this does show differences in how men and women experience public space.

This sums it up well: "It should be a right to walk down the street and be safe."

UPDATE: The folks at Project Unspoken reached out to me to share their follow-up video.  You can view it on their Youtube channel.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

From NYT: Lessons From a Marathon Not Run

Lessons From a Marathon Not Run:

"As dramas go, this is more pathos than tragedy. One reads about breast cancer survivors going from deadly prognosis one year to the finish line of the marathon the next, and runners from war-torn countries lifting themselves from abject poverty onto the winner’s podium of the world’s major marathons. Then this monstrous Sandy hits and people living just a few miles from me have far, far greater needs than any possible need I have to return to form.

Yet the storm and that soccer ball have kicked me back to running essentials. It has reminded me that running centers and stimulates my life, making me more positive, more capable and willing to do good in the world."

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Marine Corps Marathon Race Round-Up

It's been a week, and I still haven't blogged about the Marine Corps Marathon.

I think I'm still trying to process the race.  I finished, and this may have been the first race that I ran a consistent pace for 30K.  (My Dad signed up for text updates during the race, and that was the thing that struck him.)  But, I didn't PR.  Philadelphia is still my fastest time, and I'm not any closer to beating Oprah's marathon time. I seem to be getting slower at the marathon, and the only way that I can explain it is that I ran three races (two halfs and a 10-miler) before I arrived at the start in Philly.  Is this the plateau that everyone talks about?

Last Sunday feels like it was ages ago.  It was strange not to travel to a marathon and have Saturday completely to myself.  I was in bed early and up in time to take Metro to Pentagon.  Rain and wind threatened the start, but it ended up being a nice day (albeit cloudy and a little windy) for a marathon.  Once the race started, I had to remind myself to hold back.  "You're going too fast for the first mile."  "Don't go faster than 10:00."  "Wait until the half marathon marker to let loose."

I kept thinking about how beautiful the race would have been on a sunny day.  After the start, we headed into Rosslyn and looped back near Spout Run and the GW Parkway before crossing the Key Bridge and following Canal Road to the Georgetown Reservoir.  The leaves were golden.  A sunny day would have made them shine.

I kept a 10:20 pace back through Georgetown, to the Mall, and to Hains Point.  My training and racing experience at Hains Point is that it can be boring and lonely.  But, for some reason, it didn't feel that way during this race.  At this point, I wanted to go faster and I did for a while.

We went back toward the Mall and the Lincoln Memorial, and I kept an even pace.  I looked at my watch around 18.30, and that's when things started to go downhill.  (I wonder if I psyched myself out by looking at my watch then.  Mile 18 has always been the struggle.  Did I actually hit the wall, or was it all in my head?)

The 14th Street Bridge seemed longer as we made our way into Crystal City.  At that point, I really wanted it to be over, but I kept running until we were back near the Pentagon and heading toward the finish at Iwo Jima.

Everyone warns about the "hill" at the end, but it wasn't that bad.  Besides, I'm pretty sure that everything feels like a hill once you've run 26 miles.

When I crossed the finish line, an active duty member of the Marine Corps placed the medal around my neck.  Every runner was given a jacket and a box of chow before heading out of the finish area.

Here are the numbers --
Gun time: 5:12:41
Net time: 4:57:59
PR: Philadelphia Marathon 2011 - 4:39:29

I've started to run again but don't feel completely recovered.  Once I get to 100%, my goal is to run a fast 8K and maybe try to get my 5K time down.  After that, I'll give some thought as to whether I want to run a half-marathon or a full in March..

Saturday, October 27, 2012


I really, really hope that the rain doesn't start until after the marathon is over.  Of course, this does seem like excellent motivation to run a fast race.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

One Week to Go!

It's crazy that this is my last full week before the race, but I'm ready.  I've broken in the shoes that I'll wear on race day, bought all of my carb loading food, and tested a new pair of capris.

My plan for this week is loosely based on the tapering strategy I mentioned earlier this month, with the exception of running on Saturday.  I've never run the day before a race, and I'm not about to start now.

Monday: 3 miles
Tuesday: 4 miles
Wednesday: Rest Day
Thursday: Speed workout, 2 x 1 Mile @ 9:33, 4 x 400 @ 8:50
Friday: 3 miles
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: 37th Marine Corps Marathon!

Other than running, my plan is to get ample sleep during the week, treat my body well (these bourbon pumpkin pie milkshakes will have to wait until after the race), carb load properly (starting on Thursday), and not stress out too much.  I've done this three times.  I've done the training. 

I'm ready to rock.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

MCM Taper - Week 2

The weather in DC is perfect for running, and I'm starting to feel really good about the upcoming marathon.

On Saturday, I hit the treadmill for Yasso 800s.  In theory, to run a marathon at a certain time - say 4 hours - you should be able to run repeats of 800 meters in 4 minutes.  I've done this workout a few times during training but finally got myself up to 10-800 meter repeats (7 x 800 @ 4:15, and 3 x 800 @ 4:00).  The repeats were a nice push to get me in shape for the race. 

This week, I started with cross-training, a rest day, and a 4-mile tempo run.  The rest of the week includes:

Thursday: 3 miles
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 8 miles
Sunday: 3 miles and strength training

Monday, October 15, 2012

Runner's World: Sole Sisters of '72

For some reason, Runner's World makes it really hard to share articles from current issues.  That, or I don't know how to use the internet after all these years.

If you can get your hands on a copy (or have the patience to wait until the content is posted online next month), the November issue includes an article, written by Charles Butler, about six women who entered the New York City Marathon after the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) ruled that women could participate in marathons -- provided that the start 10 minutes before or after the men's race.  The gun went off to start the women's race, and they sat and waited until the start of the men's race.

I may or may not have a girl crush on the six women who showed up for the 1972 NYCM.  And, by "may or may not," I mean, "I do." 

The article contains an excerpt from an interview with Nina Kuscsik, the first women to win the Boston Marathon (officially), that resonated:
Philip Nobile: "Long distance running isn't the most womanly thing a woman can do; all that sweating and grunting, so why do you do it?"
Kuscsik: "Just the way you phrase the question shows your attitude.  Who says it is not the most feminine thing a woman can do and who says sweating and grunting isn't feminine? [...] Running is neither masculine or feminine.  It's just healthy..."
I'm adding these ladies to my wall of inspirational women...right next to my framed photo of Leslie Knope!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Beginning the Taper

Last Saturday, I did my last 20-mile run of this training cycle.  I learned that running 20 miles on two consecutive Saturdays is a terrible idea.  It's cool, though, because now it's time to taper.

Runner's World featured an article this month describing a tapering strategy that scales back on mileage but not intensity.

From the article:
In principle, tapering should be simple–run less so you're rested for race day. In practice, many athletes find two to three weeks of cutting back on mileage and intensity makes their legs feel heavy and lifeless. But Spanish coach and physiologist Iñigo Mujika, a leading expert on tapering, sees a way around that problem. Mujika suggests athletes start their taper early, scaling back on mileage but not intensity, then three days before the event, "reload" their muscles with an interval workout. Performing these workouts when your legs are fresher than they've been for months can actually increase your fitness.

Indeed, too much rest or slow running lowers the muscle tension in your legs, says Norwegian Olympian and 13:06 5-K runner Marius Bakken, which is why they feel flat and sluggish. Short, fast bursts of running raise muscle tension back up. If you get your taper right, your body will respond by producing more oxygen-carrying red blood cells, lowering stress hormone levels, and storing more fuel in your muscles–enough to shave about three percent off your finishing time, on average. Here's how to inject some energy into your taper so you shed fatigue and sharpen your edge.
The last few taper cycles (including those for half-marathons), I've taken the attitude of "It's cool; I'm tapering" and totally slacked off when it came to pace.  I'm curious to try this going forward.

My runs over the last week haven't gone as well as I would have liked.  I imagine that it's a combination of trying to do speed work only a few days after running 20 miles and on a few hours of sleep (I had an early flight to Pittsburgh on Tuesday and two intense days of meetings -- who knew my body would hate me for trying to run).  So far, I have about six miles logged for the week with a planned 90-minute speed workout tomorrow morning.

It's getting real, folks...

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Real Bears and Soda

I saw this on A Black Girls' Guide to Weight Loss, and I wasn't sure what to expect.  My first thought was something like, "Oh look - it's a family of cartoon bears!" (Clearly, I'm a two year-old.)

That didn't last long...

From the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the creators of the film:

The Real Bears tells the story of a family of polar bears who, even in their distant Arctic environment, are not immune from sunny marketing messages from Big Soda. The whole family is consuming too much soda… and is experiencing everything from weight gain to tooth decay to problems in the bedroom. Only after recuperating from a terrifying visit to Doc Fox's chilly surgical suite does Pop Bear come to realize that soda has brought nothing but sadness to his family. In the film's stirring dénouement, he leads his family to reclaim their health—and their happiness.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

MCM 37: Weekly Round-Up (6)

Twenty-five days to go!

I received my MCM eCard today, which included my bib number and information about the expo.  I can't believe that it's almost here -- which is also to say, where did the last four months go? 

Last Saturday, I had one of the best three-and-a-half hour runs ever.  It may have been the fact that the weather was gorgeous, that I tried a new route, or that I was looking forward to baking this chocolate stout cake.  Whatever it was, I felt great.  I was able to run for 45-minute intervals, stopping only for gels and restroom breaks.  Finishing 19 miles and feeling like I could run more was a huge confidence boost.

This is my last week before the taper period.  Already, I've done a short hill workout, cross-trained, and ran 4 miles.  Left for this week are a speed workout and a 22-miler for Saturday.  Here's hoping that it goes well.

Monday, September 24, 2012

MCM 37: Weekly Round-Up (5)

I swear, I'm still training for this marathon.  I'm just really bad at writing about it this time.

Early last week, I started to stress about my training.  I haven't run more than 19 miles yet, and I'm down to the last two intense weeks before taper.  But, at the same time, I've been doing a lot more speed work and felt great after ninety-five percent of my workouts over the last two weeks -- including after my most recent long run. 

I think the key for the next few weeks is to really put in the work.  I've got three marathons under my belt so, in theory, I can run 26.2 miles.  With hill and speed workouts, and putting in all of the miles on the next two long runs, I should be in great shape by October 28th.

Here's the plan for this week:

Monday:4 miles
Tuesday: Speed Workout + Strength Training
Wednesday: 5 miles
Thursday: Cross/Strength training
Friday: Off
Saturday: 20 miles
Sunday: 3 miles

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

For the LOLs: Paul Ryan Time Calculator

This has been making the rounds on the internet and has provided endless hours (okay, maybe a few minutes) of enjoyment as I adjust all of my race PRs using the Paul Ryan standard.  A special thank you to Brad for getting this in my inbox!

The Original Paul Ryan Time Calculator

So, my current marathon PR is 4:39:29.  But, the Paul Ryan-adjusted time is 3:22:26!

If only BAA allowed participants to register using their Paul Ryan-adjusted times...I guess I'll just have to train really hard to qualify for Boston.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Proud Daughter

Yesterday, my dad ran his second New Haven Road Race 5K.  I've mentioned before that he started running in 2011 to train for the Run with Dad 5K in Reston and has been bitten by the running bug.  I called yesterday to check in about the race, and he seemed pleased.  Today, he sent this text message:

"Official time was 26:53 -- so happy iwth my time.  Thanks 4 getting me started, I luv it. Gonna try 2 beat my new time"
I can't even tell you how proud of him I am.

Marathoning VPs

From Gawker:
It was bad enough that Paul Ryan compulsively lied about his marathon time, but now comes word that, among recent vice-presidential candidates who ran marathons, Ryan is only the third fastest. John Edwards posted the fastest time at three hours and thirty minutes. Impressive, if not super surprising; you don't get to be as monstrously vain and awful as him without a masochistic workout regimen. The real surprise here, though – and the one sure to sting the most to Ryan – is the report that former Alaska Governor and current reality TV matriarch Sarah Palin ran a marathon in three hours and fifty-nine minutes, a full two minutes faster than Ryan's time.
One of my goals is to be faster than Sarah Palin and Oprah (at the 1994 Marine Corps Marathon, Oprah ran a 4:29:20 race).

If I manage to beat Palin's, Oprah's, and Ryan's time during my next marathon, I will be one happy marathoner.

Monday, September 3, 2012

MCM 37: Weekly Round-Up (4)

Without fail, I hit a wall at Mile 18. 

I realized it during last Saturday's long run.  During races and training runs, Mile 18 is usually the hardest and everything after that mile is a huge struggle.  By then, I think my brain has communicated to the rest of my body that it's been running on Gatorade and Gu for the last three hours and that it's in pain.  I have a few long runs left, so I'm going to work on running evenly before mile 18 and pushing through the last few miles of my runs.

Week 10:
Monday: 30 minute interval run
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: 7 miles
Thursday: 6 miles
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 20 miles
Sunday: X-Training

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Lessons Learned from Running Twice in One Day

1. Do the harder workout first -- even if it is 6 AM and you just want to go back to sleep.

2.  Properly eat after your morning workout.  Failing to do so will result in eating your lunch two hours before intended and that oh-so-special hangry (you know, hungry+angry) feeling for the rest of the day because you're too stubborn to buy snacks.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

MCM 37: Weekly Round-Up (3)

Summer's winding down, and I'm moving on to my next phase of training.  If all goes according to plan, my mileage will increase from 38 miles per week (starting this week) and peak at 45 miles in early October.

I feel great about my training so far.  Yesterday, instead of a long run, I ran 13 half-mile intervals starting at an 9:15 place (a little faster than my planned race pace) and increasing to an 8:00 pace.  During the workout, I felt like I could run all day.  It was a great confidence boost.

So, on to Week 9!

Monday: 6 miles
Tuesday: Off
Wednesday: 6 miles
Thursday: 6 miles
Friday: Off
Saturday: 20 miles

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Oh Really?: New York City Marathon Eliminates Bag Drop

So, NYRR decided to eliminate bag check at this year's New York City Marathon.

From NYT:
The New York Road Runners, the club that organizes the race, said the new policy was designed to reduce the bottleneck at the end of the race, when tens of thousands of runners are forced to walk around the park and adjoining streets in search of the trucks carrying bags containing their sweat pants, cellphones and wallets. 

To eliminate what the Road Runners called “overwhelmingly the No. 1 complaint of our runners for years,” the bag drop was scrapped. Runners will now be given a wrap and a fleece-lined poncho to keep warm. Kiosks will also be set up so that runners can call family and friends, who presumably will be able to bring them other items.
If this wasn't a marathon, I could see eliminating a bag check.  But, for such a taxing event, I think it's reasonable to want to have access to whatever items you've made part of your post-race routine.  (Changing socks after some races has felt absolutely amazing!) 

I think it's great that NYRR will provide runners with something warm (as much as I love the shiny heat sheets race organizers distribute after marathons), but I imagine that the kiosks will be just as much of a disaster than whatever bottleneck is created at bag check. 

(Also, NYRR, you've been doing this for a while.  Don't you have your system streamlined by now?)

But, what else can you do?  I've thought about - gasp! - capping the number of allowable registrants. It's great that marathon running has gained popularity and that so many people want to do the big races (Boston, New York, Marine Corps) but at some point, you have to cap registration at these larger events in favor of logistics.  Granted, yes, I will be among the first people to fret about qualifying standards (my 4:39 PR certainly wouldn't cut it) but it ultimately improves race conditions and logistics, why not?

Although, now that NYRR isn't providing the service, I think this is a great opportunity for an enterprising person to make a few dollars by schlepping bags across boroughs.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Mo Farah Meme

I'm back after an amazing weekend at home to celebrate the marriage of two wonderful people.  Congratulations Jane and Nate!

I'll post a training update later this week, but, first, it's time for LOLs.  Here is a collection of Mo Farah running away from things


Thanks for the link, Stef!

Monday, August 6, 2012

MCM 37: Weekly Round-up (2) - Alisha Versus the Angry Sun

Bear with me for a second, folks.  Do you remember the fourth stage in Super Mario Brothers 3?  You know, in Desert Land? When Mario spends his time running away from a very, very angry sun? 

Kind of like this?

(Source: AwesomeGIFs)  
I know what that feels like...

I went out Saturday for a 16-mile run.  I should have started earlier, I know, but waking up before 6 AM on a Saturday almost feels wrong.   When I went out around 9:30, it felt cool;  I honestly didn't think it would be that bad. Plus, I was actually prepared with a hat, sunscreen, water, and gels. 

You know where this is going...

By the time I hit Mile 7, it was actually too dangerous to attempt to run another nine miles so I decided to head home, with 10 miles logged for the day.  It was a smart move, but I'm really starting to worry about the rest of my training.  I need to suck it up and start waking up at 5 AM and pray that September is much cooler.

This week, I'm going to try to get in as much running as I can before Thursday -- fun times are ahead!

Monday: 3.5 miles (easy)
Tuesday: 5 miles (easy)
Wednesday: Speed Workout, 45 minutes 
Thursday: 6 miles (easy)
Friday: Off
Saturday: Optional early morning AM run
Sunday: Off

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

MCM 37: Weekly Round-Up (1)

(Although I wrapped up my fourth week of training, I'm starting my training round-ups at one for good measure.)

Week 4 started off really well.  I ran 6 miles last Monday, 5 glorious miles on Wednesday, and felt like a boss in the swimming pool on Thursday.  I was looking forward to a strong 14-miler on Saturday and, with that, a boost of confidence and affirmation that I have a mileage base and can focus on speed during this round of training.

The long run didn't go as well as I would have liked.  I set out a little before 9, and it was already hot.  I took the first few miles slowly and felt really good until about Mile 6.  My clothes were soaked, and I felt like I wasn't drinking enough to stay hydrated.  (By the way, there is something really scary about drinking 64 ounces of water and Gatorade over the course of a 14 mile run and not once needing to stop at a restroom.)  I stopped to walk often and, even though that's totally fine and a smart thing to do, I felt really discouraged about my overall fitness level.  I just didn't have it in me to run, and I wanted to quit running (and possibly training) right at that moment.

Of course, since I was quite far from my apartment and didn't really have a choice, I kept running and things started to improve.  I ran below my goal pace and took walk breaks when needed.  When I got back to my apartment and hopped into a tub of ice water (running clothes included), I realized that the run wasn't all bad and that I'm still in decent shape. And, there's a bright side of training outside during the summer: running a marathon in October is going to feel like a breeze -- well, as much as a breeze that running 26.2 miles can feel.

I'm still in this, folks.

Week 5 started off with a rest day yesterday and a hill workout today.  So far, so good.  Here's what I have planned for the rest of this week:

Wednesday - 6 miles (tempo)
Thursday - optional AM easy morning run/swimming pm
Friday - off
Saturday - 16 miles
Sunday - 4 miles

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Murphy's Law: Runner Style

This has been making its way around the internet.  I always seem to get caught on a rainstorm during a long run when I get new shoes.

(via theRUNiverse)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

MCM 37: Training Update

The blog has been very quiet these days, but I'm in training for Marathon #4

The shorter runs, speed workouts, and hill runs have gone really well.  But, truth be told, I've had to push myself to get my long runs in.  If we don't count the long run I cut short because heat exhaustion was a very real possibility, I've only done one run over 10 miles in the last three weeks.  (I did some rearranging, too, to accommodate a lovely weekend getaway.)  There's a part of me that's very chill about the whole thing because I can run the marathon distance -- the three finisher's medals prove it.

But, after Providence, I want to run 26.2 miles well.  
I want a PR.
I want to get closer to a BQ time.
I want to be faster than Oprah and Sarah Palin.

I can say "I'll put in the miles in August and September" but now's the time to really work on becoming a stronger and faster runner.

Out of the 17 planned weeks of training, I've completed three and will be moving onto Week 4.  This time around, I used the Smart Coach tool from Runner's World to build a plan to get me across the finish line in just over fours.  Given my current PR, it's ambitious.  But, if I put in the work, I should be able to reach my goal.
Weeks 1-6 of my plan
Week 4 is coming up:

Monday - 6 miles
Tuesday - Rest
Wednesday - 6 miles
Thursday - 5 miles AM/swimming PM*
Friday - Rest
Saturday - 14 miles
Sunday - XT

*I've decided to take the plunge into the world of triathlons...except how I look more like a drowning turtle when I swim.  I think the swimming classes have started to correct that.

It's going to be a fun next few months!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Oh really?: "Plus-Size Friendly Gym" Bans Skinny People

So, this is...interesting:

(via Time)

For some gymgoers, a plethora of thin, peppy gym rats can prove to be too big of an obstacle to overcome. That’s why Body Exchange, a Vancouver-based gym, has made a bold business move and banned skinny people from their establishments in the hopes of fostering a friendly work-out environment for a primarily plus-size clientele.

Body Exchange isn’t the only gym to launch a weight-based policy. According to the New York Daily News, similar rules exist at gyms like Buddha Body Yoga in New York City and Downsize Fitness, which has branches in Las Vegas, Chicago and Dallas. Marty Wolff, a former competitor on the reality show  The Biggest Loser, owns and operates Square One in Omaha, Nebraska which caters to people who aim to lose 50 pounds or more. ”Clients want a place where they can get fit without feeling like they’re being stared at or criticized,” he told the Daily News. “My whole life, I have always wished there was a place for other big people. So I created one.” 
Read more:

I'm torn.  I can understand a need for a safe space where people can feel comfortable working out, but I think it contributes to the us-versus-them dialogue that sometimes pops up during discussions about weight loss.  (Check out the comments on the article.)  Erika at A Black Girl's Guide to Weight Loss raised great points on this:
Five things really made me uncomfortable while reading this: 1) the idea that “skinny, healthy people” being around is a problem; 2) the implied assumption that “skinny” and “healthy” are one in the same; 3) the idea that there’s something wrong with being a “peppy gym rat;” 4) the belief that the answer to people being “fearful” about becoming active is to create a space where the thing that so many people want… is unwelcome; and 5) the idea that it’s only “skinny, healthy” people are the only ones doing the staring and ostracizing.
What happens to the clients once they reach their fitness/weight goals?  Or, is this going to be one of those places that doesn't actually encourage people to reach their goals?  (This is about making money after all.)

I'm curious to see how long this business model lasts.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Get Inspired: Fit Seniors

Okay, folks, it's been a while since I've posted a "Tuesday Inspiration."  It's also Thursday, but if I don't share this now, I might burst from all of the awesome.

via Colorlines: 64-Year-Old Great-Grandmother Takes Second Place at Bikini Contest

Ruby Carter-Pikes is 64, and she placed second in the FitSciences Championships.  From the post:
"It's like showing people age is only a number and you don't have to get cut up or do anything crazy, just be healthy and take care of your body."

Monday, June 18, 2012

Dash4Dad 4-Mile Race Round-Up

My dad starting running in 2011.  He routinely strength trained, but cardiovascular exercise was never really his thing until I suggested running the Run with Dad 5K last year in Reston.  I felt an incredible sense of pride when we crossed the finish line together.  After that race, Dad caught the running bug and has raced 3 5Ks over the last year.

This Father's Day, Dad and I decided to run the Dash4Dad 4-Miler.

Sunday was an absolutely perfect day to run.  I hadn't raced since Providence, so I was itching to see what I could do after my month off from intense training.  Dad and I started together, but I found my happy pace quickly and went with it.  (We registered as a team, and Dad and I discussed that I should run ahead if I wanted to and was able to run faster.)  The course was very similar to the Love the Run You're With 5K, with a modified start and finish location.  After the first hill, I pushed faster but felt very comfortable.

At the turnaround, I tried to see if I could spot my dad on the course.  I didn't, but figured that he wasn't much farther behind.  With the finish line in sight, I made a final push and crossed the finish line.  My dad -- awesomely -- was less than a minute behind.

The race by the numbers:
Gun Time: 36:42

Net Time: 36:10
Average Pace: 9:03

Net Time: 37:01
Average Pace: 9:16

Among Father-Daughter Teams (by daughter's age group), Dad and I placed 5th, with an average time of 36:36:01.  What an amazing way to spend Father's Day morning!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Disney Princess Running Gear? Yes, Please!!

Sometimes, I feel like the internet knows exactly what I want.

I spotted this yesterday on Fashionably Geek and The Mary Sue: Disney Princess running attire from the Etsy shop This Princess Runs

Does this item come with Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather -- just in case I need a color change? (image source)

The designer also has an amazing Wonder Woman running costume at her shop.  Now, don't get me wrong -- I love the Disney Princess franchise and would love to tear up a marathon dressed as my favorite, but think about how much more awesome it would be to tear up the same course dressed as Wonder Woman!

I'm going to exercise a bit of restraint and hold off on spending all of my extra money on running costumes. For now...

Friday, June 15, 2012

New Shoes!

I'm moving on to my sixth pair of the Mizuno Wave Alchemy running shoe.  I do wish Mizuno would get around to changing the color combination.

Time to break these in and train for Marathon No. 4!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Weekend on the Jersey Shore

I spent the weekend at a friend's beach house in New Jersey.  It was lovely to get away from DC for a few days, and I'm finding it hard to acknowledge that I have work in the morning after spending my days lounging around and eating delicious food. 

I packed my running shoes and put in a few miles on Saturday morning along the boardwalk.  This run, more than any run that I've done since finishing in Providence, has gotten me in the mood to plan my fall training and get ready for the Marine Corps Marathon in October.  Maybe it was the scenery...

Monday, May 21, 2012

From the NYT: Caballo Blanco's Last Run

"The race was the best of True’s good deeds. He described himself in the third person, all at once modest and grandiose: 'Caballo Blanco is no hero. Not a great anything. Just a Horse of a little different color dancing to the beat of a peaceful drum and wanting to help make a little difference in some lives.'"
The entire article is wonderful, but the above quote was most striking.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I Can Take a Hint

I've been using dailymile to track my workouts since January 2011.  It's an incredibly motivating tool -- I can compare my mileage from month to month, check out my stats since joining the site, and see how my training compares to my friends.  There's nothing more motivating than seeing that my friends have logged miles while I was sitting on the couch watching reruns of Arrested Development.

The site also sends users a weekly e-mail with total mileage, stats from friends, and some motivating adjective describing that week's training.  It's very nice to receive an automated pat on the back each week.

This came instead of my usual weekly e-mail on Sunday:

Okay, so it has been eight days since I last logged a workout but did you have to rub it in, dailymile?

I went out for my first run since the marathon earlier today.  I'm not going to lie: it was hard.  Even though I felt great cross training and lifting last week, it's very clear that I'm no where near recovered from this marathon.

I'll get there, though.  My plan is to try a few more easy runs this week and try a long run of eight miles some time this weekend.  I have to get in shape for summer 5Ks!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cox Sports Marathon Race Round-Up

It's taken a while for me to sit down and write this race recap.  I started to draft something on Monday, but I think I needed some time to review my performance before I wrote about my third marathon.  (That, and I really wanted to take a nap as soon as I started writing.)

I'm happy to report that made it across the finish line.  I ran 26.2 miles (again), and I'm proud of that.

A finish time of 4:15:00 or faster did not happen at this race.  In fact, it took me an additional 11 minutes to make it across the finish line compared to my time at the 2011 Philadelphia Marathon.  Oddly enough, I'm not disappointed about it.  It would have been amazing to set another personal record, but I still feel the same sense of accomplishment as I felt when I improved so much between the Baltimore Marathon and Philadelphia. 

Could I have run faster?  Yes.

Could I have not mentally whined for the entire second half of the race because I was tired and bored? Of course.

Will I train harder and set a PR at the 2012 Marine Corps marathon? Yes. Yes, I will.

Here's the scoop on race weekend:

I flew up to Providence with Stef on Saturday, just in time for carb-heavy lunch at P.F. Chang's and one of the smallest marathon expos I've ever attended.  To be honest, I actually enjoyed the fact that I wasn't completely overwhelmed at this expo.  My bank account always appreciates it when I don't spend a lot of money on things that I don't actually need.  For dinner, Matt took us to Cassarino's on Federal Hill (and I ate the most delicious pesto dish...ever).  Stef and I turned in early in anticipation for the race.

In the morning, we walked from our hotel to the staging area.  There were no corrals for the marathon, and I think we nestled ourselves in the middle of the pack -- which was perfect. I went in to the race with a plan -- run a 10:00 pace for the first 13.1 miles, and a 9:00 pace until I crossed the finish line.  It seemed doable, especially after running consistent races in March and April.

The course was advertised as flat, with a few "hills", so it would have been very easy to pick up speed.  The pack stayed close for the first few miles, so I didn't realize that there wasn't much (and, by that, I mean close to zero) crowd support along the course until I got to Mile 4.  Having people to cheer you on makes such a difference.

I also didn't anticipate that the roads wouldn't be completely closed for the race.  So, yes, we ran along the side of the road with cars whizzing past.  This would become frustrating later when we ran through a few residential areas and cars were pulling in and out of driveways. 

For the first 10 miles, my splits hovered between 10:20 and 10:30.  I felt really good.  For a few miles, I ran and had a conversation with another runner.  (It was a huge clue that I was in great shape to pick things up for the second half of the race.) Around Mile 13, I started to pick up my pace.  By Mile 15, I was in such a blah mood about the race that I slowed down.  I lost complete motivation when I got to Mile 20 and realized that there was the not even a slim chance that I could run a fast 10K to set a PR.  I had to convince myself to get to the finish line.

By the time I neared Mile 25, I expected there to be crowds and cheering -- enough to make me run the last mile fast.  There wasn't much support until passing Mile 26 and heading toward the finish line.  When I saw Matt and Mike, I felt so much better about running and ran as hard and fast as I could toward the finish line.

Previous Record: 4:39:29, 2011 Philadelphia Marathon
Gun Time: 4:51:23
Net Time: 4:50:32
Average pace: 11:05

After the race, there was (much deserved) pizza at the finish line and I picked up my medal.

I'll be spending the next week or so getting myself back to my regular eating habits (though I do love a good carb-loading session) and doing a few very easy workouts.  After that, I've decided that I want to run a sub-25:00 5K.  If anyone has any 5K recommendations for June or July, send them my way!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Countdown to Providence

And, I'm back!

I'm not going to lie - the last few weeks have been rather interesting.  With work travel to Montana and Michigan and having to address a few issues when I returned to DC, I haven't had much time to sit down and write.  Thankfully, things have calmed down a lot and I feel a heck of a lot better than I did last week. 

Just in time too -- because the Cox Sports Marathon is four days away!

For whatever reason, I'm more anxious about this race than I have been for any other marathon.  I spent part of my afternoon thinking about all the things that could go wrong before and during the race, which wasn't productive at all.  But, it forced me to start making a mental list of everything that I need to pack and things I need to do before leaving for Providence. 

I also started to think more about my strategy for the race.  Ideally,  I'd like to finish this race in 4:15:00 or faster.  Looking back at Philadelphia, I definitely started too fast and was pretty wiped by Mile 18, which is when the frequency of my walk breaks increased.  For Providence, I'm going to try to run negative splits (a revolutionary idea, I know).  I should be able to handle running the first 13 miles at about a 10:00 pace and then pick up to 9:00 miles in the second half of the race.  It sounds manageable, and I should be able to reach my time goal if I stick to the plan.

The race will be a lot of fun.  I just need to calm down, trust my training, and focus on the present. 

It's the final countdown, folks!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Taper Time!

On Saturday, Stef and I ran our first (and only) 20-miler of this training cycle.  Leading up to the run, I was worried about how it would go. It had been a while since I ran anything close to 20 miles.  Aside from a few issues - mostly related to a poor wardrobe choice - I felt strong during the run.  We took it easy, of course, because of the temperature and the number of miles ahead of us.  At the end of the run, I felt strong and could have run another 6.2 miles if I had to.  I feel ready.

As I think more about this race, I'm set on trying to run a 4:15 marathon, which would be 24 minutes faster than my Philadelphia PR.  It's a reasonable and attainable goal, and I'm excited to see if I can do it.

I have a bit of business travel ahead.  I'm a little worried about what this means for my training, but I think I'll be able to make everything work.

Monday - 5 miles
Tuesday - 40-minute speed workout
Wednesday - 3 miles (easy)
Thursday - 60-minute tempo run
Friday - Rest
Saturday - 15 Miles
Sunday - Rest

Sunday, April 8, 2012

One to Go Until the Taper

I had a thought during my short run today that I might need a new challenge to keep running interesting.  With less than a month to go until Providence, I'm finding hard to get as excited for this race as I was when I was getting ready to go to Philadelphia.  I'm not sure what it is, really.  It's going to be a great race, and I'm so excited that I get to see Matt - who's preparing to run a marathon of his own this month (in Boston!!!) - while I'm in town for the race.  I'm probably just anxious about a few things that I have on my plate before the marathon, including a bit of work travel. I'm sure once I have those things done, I'll be able to focus on the race.

But, getting back to setting a new goal:  I've been thinking that 50K might be in my future after I run the Marine Corps Marathon in October.  I've joked about ultramarathoning before (warning my friends that they should stop me if the word ultramarathon came out of my month as something that I should do), but I'm starting to think that a 50K would be the perfect challenge since it's not much farther than a marathon.  Call me crazy, but I think that's where I should head next.

I'm coming up on the last week of intense training before I start to taper. Here's to making it count!

Monday: X-Training/Strength Training
Tuesday: Speed Workout - 60 minutes
Wednesday: 6 miles
Thursday: 3 miles (easy)
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 22 miles
Sunday: 5 miles (easy)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Cherry Blossom 10-Miler Race Round-Up

It's April, which means that it's seriously crunch time for the Cox Sports Marathon.  The reality is this: I have two weeks of training before the taper begins, and that's it.  I'm finding that I oscillate between being really stressed out and not worrying about this reality.  I think I had the crazy idea going into training  that I would be table to train hard enough to take another significant chunk off of my marathon time.  Sure, it would be great (and I still wonder if I'll be able to do that), but I have also thought about setting a more realistic goal for this race -- say, shaving 15 minutes off of my marathon PR. I have the base to finish a marathon, and - as Stef has pointed out - racing has its benefits to marathon training.

Yesterday, I ran my second Cherry Blossom 10-Miler. I'll say up front that I did not set a PR for my 10-Mile time (in fact, I was seconds slower); however, I was exactly three minutes faster compared to my 2011 Cherry Blossom 10-mile time.  Awesome!

There honestly isn't much to report from the race itself. The experience was very similar to last year's race, though it was a little harder to find good running space for most of the race and most of the blossoms had already lost their beautiful pink color so there wasn't much to look at on the course.  I am proud that I ran consistent splits during this run.

Split 7 and Split 8 should be combined.  Split 11 shows me hitting my watch at the race's ninth mile marker so I could keep track of my pace from the race's ninth mile marker to the finish line. It's always amazing how much I had by taking the longest possible route around turns.
I'm happy with my time, and I'm looking forward to moving onto the second week of the Cox Marathon Crunch.

Week 2
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 3 miles
Wednesday: 5 miles
Thursday: 3 miles
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 18 miles
Sunday: X-Training/Strength Training 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

My Third Journey to 26.2 Miles

It's no secret that I haven't been blogging as much during this training cycle. There isn't a particular reason. I'm not any less excited about running a marathon and sharing my training progress than I have been for my other races. I enjoy writing about my running because it keeps me accountable to my training; it also helps me keep a running log of my progress so that I can look back down the road and put everything in perspective.

Case in point:  I would be lying to you if I said that I wasn't disappointed that I did not run the Rock 'n' Roll half-marathon in under two hours.  (I may have accepted it, but I really thought that I had it in me to reach my goal.) It also didn't help that my time was only slightly faster that my time at the 2011 Baltimore Running Festival.  But, I went back to my recap of the 2010 National Half and saw how much I've improved in a year:

In 2011, I ran the National Half in 2:09:33.  In 2012, I ran the same course for the RnR USA Half in 2:04:29.  I might not be making huge gains from race to race, but it's affirming to see my progress over a longer period of time.

Next Sunday, I'll be running the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler for the second year in a row.  (The lottery has been favorable.)  I want to PR, and I hope that I can run the race in 1:30 or faster.  

After that race, it'll be crunch time for the Cox Sports Marathon in Providence.  I've been anxious about the training for this race and will be until I drag myself across the finish line in May.  Because of my aggressive race schedule at the start of the year (and other excuses I can make for myself), I really haven't been putting in the longer runs (18-22 miles) and won't until after the 10-Miler.  I'll take them slowly, for sure, but I felt so confident going into Philly because I had done many longer runs.  

My goal for this final week of March and April is to train in earnest.  No skipping runs because I don't feel like it.  No cutting speed workouts short because I don't feel like doing another interval.  No whining. No complaining. No making excuses.  

Just running.

Cox Marathon Crunch - Week 1
Monday - X-Training and Strength
Tuesday - 3 miles (easy)
Wednesday - 45 minute speed workout
Thursday - 3 miles (easy)
Friday: Stretching/Yoga
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tuesday Inspiration: Creating Safe Spaces

“Shit Men Say to Men Who Say Shit to Women on the Street” was inspired by International Anti-Street Harassment Week.

It was created by a group of women and men in NYC who believe that street harassment is wrong, and that we all have a role to play in ending it - especially us guys.

The video shows some non-violent ways that men can interrupt street harassment as it happens. (And it happens all the time. Seriously. Go check. We will wait.)

Join us by sharing this video. And the next time you witness street harassment - and you will - say some shit. Please.

For more information on this video, email:
Thanks for sharing this, Jane!

(Source: girlsgetbusyzine)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

My Strange Addiction

"America's Pandemic: 'I'm Running a Marathon' is the New Meth"

"Remember that fun friend you had, the one you used to go out to dinner with, have interesting conversations with, get wasted with? That person is gone. Their marathon won’t let them be fun. It makes sure they are always sober and in bed by 9 so they can wake up at 6 and inject marathon training into their veins. It keeps your friend talking only about marathon related things. Remember that provocative conversation about high end sweat socks?"
"You are no longer an important person in their life. You’ve been ditched for a less cool, mean girl who dresses your marathon friend in stupid shorts and sports bras and parades them around the city - all the while laughing at your friend’s struggle to run right past that taco stand without slamming headfirst into the nearest burrito. You can’t compete with this new friend. Marathon always wins."
This sounds about right to me!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Rock 'n' Roll USA Race Recap

Operation Sub-2:00 didn't go exactly as planned.  I set a PR but didn't hit my time goal -- and, I'm okay with that.  It was a beautiful day.  I'm healthy enough to run a half-marathon (while still recovering from a cold apparently), and I'm going out to celebrate St. Patty's Day tonight like a college freshman.      

To the recap!

The morning - unsurprisingly - started out with a metro failure.  (It wouldn't be a DC race if I could use the metro and get to the start on time, now would it?) I got to my station at about 6:45, which would normally plenty of time to ride, transfer, and make it to the staging area in reasonable time.  But, it's Metro on the weekend and that means track work.  I had to wait about 15 minutes at the next station for a train, which got as far as Smithsonian before it was too crowded for the doors to close.  We off-loaded, and I waited for two trains before attempting to continue.  I made it to the staging area at 7:55 (the race started at 8), dropped off my bag, and sprinted to the corrals.  I was originally in corral 6 but made it just in time to join corral 12 at the starting line.

Assuming that I would start in my corral, my plan was to run the first three miles at a 9:15 pace, the next seven at a 9:00, and push at 8:00 pace for the last 5K.  Of course, starting six corrals back with people who didn't want to run that pace at the beginning of the race, my strategy became "Get as far away from this corral as fast as you can so you can hit your target pace as fast as possible."  With that in mind, I ran the first three miles in 8:54, 8:57, and 8:06.  Not exactly the plan, but okay.

After the first 5K, I felt myself starting to slow down. By then, I was in a groove but not hitting my target pace.  I did the math in my head and figured that if I slowed down but then pushed for the last 10K, I could still hit my time goal.  I decided to enjoy the run until the second half of the race.

Miles 7 and 8 were definitely the hardest and my body tried to stage a rebellion.  I took a few walk breaks, stretched, and kept trying to figure out what I needed to do to finish in under two hours.

Things started to feel better around Mile 9. By this point in the race, I figured that I could hit by time goal with a finish time of just under two hours if, at mile 10, I pushed myself harder than I've ever pushed myself on a run.  Unfortunately, the rest of my body wanted to hear nothing of it.  At Mile 11, I decided that I just wanted a PR.  With the revised goal, I really started to enjoy everything about the day and the race.

According to my Garmin, which lost satellite reception a few times and was at least a tenth of a mile off from the mile markers on the course, I hit 13.1 miles at 2:02:13.  (An unofficial PR!) I crossed the finish line - after 13.34 miles by my watch - at 2:04:31 (only a little faster than my time at the 2011 Baltimore half-marathon but a PR all the same).  I'll post my official results when I get them.  I'm very curious to know how my official time compares.

Stef and I have earned our St. Patty's Day celebration.  Congrats on your PR!

I imagine tomorrow will be a recovery day. Then, I'll be back in training mode for this year's Cherry Blossom 10-Mile Run and the Providence Marathon...which seems to be approaching faster than I would like.  Time to put in some serious work!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Operation Sub-2: Weekly Round-Up (9)

Alright, folks, I'm five days out from race day.  I feel very confident about my progress, and I'm ready to race this weekend. 

I picked up a cold, and I hope that I can knock this thing out by Saturday. My plan is to take it easy this week, sleep, hydrate, and hope for the best.

Week 11
Sunday: 3 miles (easy)
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Tempo Run (30 minutes)
Wednesday: X-Train and Strength
Thursday: 3 Miles (easy)
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Rock 'n' Roll USA

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Operation Sub-2: Weekly Round-Up (8)

I've been a little down on myself for the past week about my training.  I know I shouldn't beat myself up because I've put in 95% of the work and my most recent 5K PR is proof that I'm getting faster.  But, the thought of not running next Saturday's race in under 2:00 keeps popping into my head.  I even had a hilarious anxiety dream that involved showing up to a marathon completely unprepared.  I even showed up to the start in a pair of flip-flops! In the dream, I decided to just go with it and finished the first 5K in 34 minutes -- nearly nine minutes slower than my personal best.

In the waking world, I've had a few shorter runs during which I've run 8:30 miles and faster. On my long runs, though, I haven't been able to hit that pace during the faster miles.  (Stef and I have started to break up our long runs by doing a few miles below our intended race paces, a few runs at or faster than our race pace, and finishing with slower miles.) 

I know I'll be okay.  Hell, I had a half-marathon PR in Baltimore on a very hilly course and after running the Army 10-Mile Run six days before. I'll just think positively about what I'll be able to do on race day.

So, here we go:
Sunday: 30-minute speed workout
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 40-minute tempo workout
Wednesday: 3 miles, easy
Thursday: 4-5 miles, easy
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 8 miles, easy

Ten days to go until race day!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Zombies, Run!

Should the Zombie Apocalypse actually become a thing, all of the miles that I've put in should improve my survival chances -- especially if the zombies are of the the slow-moving, dimwitted variety

If you're not confident in your survival chances, there's an app for that:
A brand new running app called, “Zombies, Run!” will transform your repetitious run into a game. Boredom is blasted away while you run to seek safety for yourself and those around you. While the story streams straight through your headphones, you can complete 30 missions and 40 runs worth of game-play as you run towards becoming a hero for all mankind. Forget running in that Wonder Woman costume at the next themed race, this is your opportunity to show ‘em who’s boss and save humanity in your favorite run clothes. Click here to find out more about this cool new app!  -- Women's Running Magazine
Sounds awesome, right? I sometimes dread going out for speed workouts, but the threat of a zombie attack would definitely force me to keep my pace on those runs.

Anyone want to use this to train for the Run for Your Lives 5K?