Sunday, March 28, 2010

Palm Sunday, martinis, and a 10-miler

Happy Palm Sunday! Holy Week is my favorite time of the church year. Such a powerful illustration of God's promises and boundless grace and a reminder of my own unworthiness. It's humbling and powerful in a way that shakes me up a little bit every year. This year we read the Passion according to Luke, which you can read here.

Church this morning was a revelation for me in a different way, too. I ushered this morning and as I greeted and talked with people, I realized how many of them I have come to know. I thought back to the first fall we were here, right after we joined, when one Sunday I sat looking around the church wondering if I would ever be able to put names with faces. If Mr. Joanna and I would ever have conversations with and about the other parishioners and the ways our lives had become intertwined with theirs. I guess that happened, and it sort of snuck up on me. I am excited about graduating and starting the next chapter, but I'm savoring what's left of this. Proof: I took a picture today while washing dishes because it seemed like a good reminder of the fun I had last night with some friends I'm going to miss terribly.

Moving on to all things running--yesterday was a slow 10-miler in cold, windy, but beautifully sunny & clear weather. Meg & I decided to take it easy as we did the mileage hike. We just jogged and talked and got 'er done. We also had three coaches there and Mr. & Mrs. LifeSaver. Mr. LifeSaver was on fire! I've never seen him so fast on a long run. (btw, what in the WORLD am I going to do when I have to settle in with a new running group?!?) Next week is a cut-back, then we're planning to really attack the 10-miler the weekend after that. I tried the lemon Gu and loved it. Seriously, how did I not know the glory of the Gu?!?

Meg appears to have sprung an injury. She's pretty sure it's a sideliner, but won't know for sure for about two weeks. I'm hoping, really hoping, she's wrong and it was something like, oh say, the world's worst bee sting (in March, yes...whatever! I'm desperate for an answer...and ignoring how insanely over-qualified she is to self-diagnose). I'll either have the best cheering section EVER or we'll PR together as planned. Either way she's awesome, but keep your fingers crossed for the best.

133.3 + 4.1 + 10.0 = 147.4 miles

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Meg and I played hooky for a few hours today! This is unheard of! It was fabulous! We went to our local running store (shoes for her, runner food for me), had an excellent & cheap lunch, and went cake shopping for my graduation weekend. F.A.B.U.L.O.U.S. (channel your inner Fergie, if you must)

A few hours of super-productive work, then...

The best interval/tempo workout ever.
1 x 1600 warm-up (1600 = 1 mile)
3 x 1600, ~3 min rest in between each
1 x 1600 cool-down

The intervals broke down into these 400m times:
1:49, 3:45, 5:42, 7:39
1:51, 3:52, 5:47, 7:41
1:49, 3:46, 5:46, 7:40

Apparently I haven't run this particular workout since 6/27/2007. According to that post, we ran them faster tonight by 7 seconds, 1 second, and 10 seconds, respectively. Plus, the weather was awesome. Plus, Meg killed it. Plus, RunningFirst kept us on pace. Good, good times.

125.0 + 3.3 + 5.0 = 133.3 miles

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Death March of Crazy

Meg and I went all Kara Goucher on our 8-mile long run this morning. Okok, no, we did not actually set world records, or appear as a blur along the path. But we did run fast for us. We didn't time the run, but from the pacing work I've done this spring I'm pretty sure it was at least 15 seconds/mile faster than what we've been doing. It felt good to run the last 8-miler at race pace, especially because it was windy and cold and any reasonable person would have rather sat inside drinking coffee. But oh no, our chapter of Overachievers Anonymous over here kicked our long runs in the pants. At one point I accused Meg of setting the pace at "Death March of Crazy," but I secretly loved it. The other 6 people from the Team who came all did 10 milers (at least), because they're awesome. I'm not sure about their times (though I'm sure they were great) because Meg and I started & finished early. A move about which The Gangsta had some choice words.

I promised belated pictures from Detroit and here they are. First, it was not a can of tomatoes. It was canned pumpkin. Duck taped. True story.

And second, proof that you CAN fit 3 adults and 2 toddlers in a Honda Fit. And everyone looks sooooo happy. This cracks me up.
Mileage: 113 + 4.0 + 8.0 = 125.0

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Joanna vs. Joanna

We had a great group show up last night for our first outdoor (wootwoot!) track practice of the season. It was RunningFirst, the guy who wrote the Life Saver post and his wife (long time alums of The Team), Dr. Speedy, Meg, and me. Except guess what? I was the only person who ran the workout! It was Joanna vs. Joanna in a battle of 5 x (2 min fast + 2 min slow). Meg ran most of it, to give her credit. RunningFirst was allegedly timing us & counting the intervals, and Mrs. LifeSaver is nursing a bad injury. With our warm-up and cool down I put in 4.5 miles. It was a gorgeous evening and I was grateful for the structured workout.

Until Mr. Run-the-Wrong-Direction-on-the-Track showed up. The first few times we passed each other running in opposite directions on the track, both in the first lane, he clapped at me as if to say, "hey, good running!" I may have smiled or nodded at him the first time, but after that I started glancing at him in annoyed wonder or avoiding eye contact. By about the 4th time we passed, still with both of us in the 1st lane, I wanted to clothesline him. On lap 9 RunningFirst told him to turn around. On lap 10 I told him. It would have been much less annoying if he'd moved to an outer lane while running in the wrong direction. During the cool-down we saw him talking to RunningFirst (our coach). We assumed he was asking about track rules or about the Team.

Turns out I don't know what they were talking about. When Meg and I started to leave the track, he walked up to us and started asking questions about joining our group, what we do, where we meet, how to contact the group, etc. I was totally creeped out. I wasn't about to give him information about where we meet on Saturdays, my personal contact info or that of Meg or RunningFirst. But he kept asking questions as he followed Meg and me toward our cars. Finally I ripped the cover sheet off an old Team training schedule so he would have the Team in Training website, which seemed harmless. The whole time I was getting it out of my car I was thinking, "Meg, don't leave me, Meg, don't leave me!"

In other news, my MIL sent the babe a box of St. Patrick's Day goodies, including a themed shirt which we dressed him in yesterday. I couldn't resist taking some pictures while we played outside after work.

108.5 + 4.5 = 113.0 miles

Monday, March 15, 2010

Duck tape & kimonos

Maybe 6 weeks ago I called my brother, ODP, and we randomly picked a weekend that looked good for a visit. So this past weekend the babe and I went to Detroit to visit Kdot, ODP, and The Princess of Detroit (their 1 year old--this is their nickname for her). It turned out to be a great weekend for a getaway. We've had SO much going on in our lives here that the away time and silliness was much appreciated, plus it was a great excuse for the kids to see each other. Here are some highlights from the past week, including the trip (which I'll have more pictures of in a few days).

The Bestie
I had to cancel my weekly lunch with The Bestie last Tuesday due to a house-related meeting. I was pretty bummed about this. So when hunger struck at 11am on Wednesday, and my brown bagged lunch looked unappealing, I shot her an email asking if she was up for an impromptu lunch together. After a few emails back and forth we decided to make a dash for it and make it work into our essentially conflicting work schedules for the day. I know an impromptu lunch doesn't sound like a big deal, but it's pretty unusual for us and it was a great time. I also learned a few funny things about her but I think she'd kill me if I posted them here.

With me out of town and with her constantly hectic work schedule, Meg was left to fend for herself for this weekend's 8-miler. But oh man, am I sorry I missed it. I had this email waiting for me upon my return:
"Dude, running 8 miles without you on a cold, overcast, windy day sucks....And I lost my shorts around mile 5. Yes, I was wearing tights, but it was not a hot look."

Enough said.

My college roommate had a Redneck Point Allocation System for estimating how redneck someone might be. She allotted me a substantial number of points simply for being from West Virginia. It is true that when you're from where I'm from, you are given a certain amount of redneck points at birth. I've heard it said (jokingly) that all babies born in CA are given sunglasses and bathing suits at birth. We're given redneck points.

I choose to display my allotted redneckedness in a few key areas. I have a healthy level of suspicion about both The Man and the government. I am more or less completely undiscerning about food unless it's escargot, wine, or chocolate, which we can safely blame on my time spent in France. I have a totally unwavering love of sheet cake. And I slip a casual "y'all" into conversation every now and then. ODP, on the other hand, keeps his redneck points in a Swiss Bank Account, metaphorically speaking. He would really rather pretend he didn't have a redneck point allocation stemming from birth. And you would almost always believe him. We wears a kimono as a bath robe (it's not as crazy as it sounds, actually--you'd have to see it). He likes Russian baby names. He owns an espresso machine. And all sorts of other things he would kill me for posting.

He even almost had me convinced that he'd sold or somehow dispensed of his redneck points. Until I discovered the stewed tomato can in his refrigerator. After using part of the can, he'd resealed it....with duck tape. I wish I'd gotten a picture, but fortunately for him the camera was in The Princess of Detroit's room and the kids were napping.

Today's Run
I tried to run in Detroit, I really did. Friday afternoon I was beat, and it rained the rest of the weekend. So, no dice. But it was OK. I really did need some down time. So today I made up my missed 8-mile long run. I could hear Meg cursing the windy, overcast weather she'd faced, as I faced it today (although it wasn't cold, at least). I did a 4-mile loop around my neighborhood twice. Between loops I stopped at my house to ditch my jacket and grab some runner food. It's been a long time since I stocked up, so I was stuck with my Gu Chocolate Outrage that I got at the Detroit Marathon in October. During the race I carried it as a back-up (read: security blanket) in case of an energy emergency. Since then I've been pretending it wasn't in my kitchen. Truthfully, I've always dreaded Gu. I always thought it had the consistency of half-set Jello, which makes me want to wretch. So it was with MUCH apprehension that I tore open the pack today and tried it.

It was freakin' delicious! Look at this--I squeezed that packet until it was FLAT! It was way more like chocolate cake frosting than half-set Jello. I might be a new believer. Maybe.

100.4 + 8.1 = 108.5 miles

Monday, March 8, 2010

Not just another Monday!

Today was not just another Monday in my life. Today was a day I've worked toward for a very, very long time. It was one marker of the achievement of my biggest life goal. It was a day that, at times, I had to have faith that it would eventually come.

Today I successfully defended my dissertation.

Today I was addressed for the first time as "Doctor" (though in its strictest sense won't be technically accurate until I deposit, at a minimum, perhaps until my degree is conferred in May).

Today it felt like the weight of the world was lifted from my shoulders. It felt like this:

The best part is that it looks like revisions will be minor, and that I should be able to deposit in fairly short order. The end is really in sight! This is real! Plus, Mr. Joanna got to attend the defense (and take the picture), and that meant a lot to me. To those of you who prayed for me, I cannot thank you enough. God gave me peace. God reminded me that HE called me to this place. That this was His work.

I almost hate to mix topics in this post, because it means SO much to me. However, I reached another (smaller) milestone today that deserves to be noted: I surpassed the 100-mile mark for the year.

Last Friday I did an easy 3.9 miles, mostly to try to loosen up after the track workout last Wednesday. Then on Saturday Meg and I did an 8-miler, though a bit slower than our last long run. We were both still sore from our first track practice and decided that combined with our mileage hike, it wasn't the week to be heroes. It was a great run and we had a great time. Then this morning (in all my anxiety), I did another 3.9 miles. I ran hard and enjoyed every second of it. It was nothing short of perfect, with foggy, cool weather.

84.7 + 3.9 + 7.9 + 3.9 = 100.4 miles

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Fun? No. Rewarding? Yes.

Yesterday morning I was in the middle of talking myself out of doing my run, when Caution: Redhead Running's marathon recap popped up in my Google Reader. I've been following her training blog for a while and was pulling for her to reach her race goal. I don't care who you are or whether you run, I dare you to read a race recap and not admit that it makes you want to go run. When I finished reading her race recap I said to myself, "ok, time to go put on some running clothes." And out I went. Even though it was gray and windy out, I thoroughly enjoyed the run. It was a classic example of the runner's creed: you often regret the runs you don't do, but rarely regret the runs you do.

Then today, the stars aligned and Meg and I could both go to track practice with the Team. Plus, it's time in our training schedule to get some speed work in. Yeeeeow!! It was only 4 miles total (1 mile warm-up, 8x400, and a mile cool-down), and a workout I've done dozens of times. But, wow. That's gonna hurt in the morning. I did each 400 anywhere between 1:37 and 1:48 (I think). According to a post from last May, I'm right on pace with early speed work from last year. So, woohoo for that! Meg killed it tonight. She tore it up.

Conversation when I got home:
Mr. Joanna: "Did you have fun?"
Me: "Fun? No."
Mr. Joanna: "Well, are you glad you went?"
Me: "Yes."

That pretty well sums up speed work. It's not fun (although the camaraderie is), but man is it productive.

77.0 + 3.7 + 4.0 = 84.7 miles

The Life Saver

## The following is an email sent out by one of my Teammates. I thought it deserved to be shared. This is in the "why I run" category. Enjoy. ##

Hey Team,

Just a personal triumph.

I’ll call it “The Life Saver”

Well it all started with me deciding that today would be the day I would start the Fat Man Time Trials. I decided this with much thought as I pulled into the parking lot at [the park].

9.6 Miles was the goal with my intent to do the same in 1 Month to see if I could drop 1.5 minutes a mile. All of this of course within my Heart Rate Monitors approval.

Of course I am ahead of myself.

At 5:30 this morning as I lay in bed with my left calve pulsating and ready to respond to any sudden movement at any moment, I thought to myself, if my body was built a bit different I think I could be a decent runner. I mean a lot different, the taller, thinner, Gesell like physic that I know is in here somewhere.

I rolled out of bed tried to stretch those pesky calves along with a quick attempt at touching my toes and got dressed.

After quickly shrugging off any doubts and of course not looking in the mirror I jaunted out the door to my destiny.

I have spent two weeks watching the Olympics. If they could achieve their goals, I could to. After all mine is just 2:29:59 Half Marathon in Champaign. I really just want to get to the finish line so I can see my friend Harley finish his Full, I figure if he has a good day this is the time I would need, he’s a real runner. Never mind the leaders would have run twice as far as me. What a thrill it would be just to be that close to the Marathoners. My own personal little Gold Medal. I could be an Olympian. Cool . . what an achievement passing thru alongside and with the fast people it’s almost like I was right there with them. WOW . . . aanywho back to the story.

Well I started out slow and eased into a slower rhythm and finally found my pace somewhere in the real slow category. But I was feeling good. I f I kept my heart rate below 140 my calve would not cramp very hard, it was great.

Somewhere around Mile 5 I thought to myself, “why stop at 9.6 Miles let’s do 13.”

Somewhere around Mile 5.5 I thought to myself, “this is bullshit I need to lay down in that snow drift over there.”

I made it back to my truck at Mile 6.4 and had to call myself many horrible things, to which I am not proud of, to run back away from it and start my last leg. After all Saturday is so close to Sunday a person should not use this type of language.

At Mile 7.5 I was surprised at how good I felt, maybe I could do 13 today, I am such an overachiever.

At Mile 8- I was done. Done, Done, Done. . . . Done. . . . Done.

It was then I realized my truck was at Mile 9.6. What I sinking feeling that was. Instinctively I spun around to look behind me, I don’t know why I guess to see if I could hitch a ride. But there was nobody here but me. I was committed to this destiny of mine, by default.

As I walked a bit to get my wits back I spotted something in the distance on the ground. I knew what it was as soon as I saw it, 30’ away. I ran up to it and scooped it up. It was a Life Saver, no a real Life Saver still wrapped in plastic and everything, how cool was this. I have been by here twice already it was not here, I do not miss food on the course. It has to be a sign. Even after all of the bad language, a sign. I did not hesitate I plopped it in my mouth with the intent of it lasting to the end. Of course that is not my M.O. either so I quickly chewed it up before the next curve, 100’ away. It was goooood.

Mile 9.6 was there before I knew it.

I was done. But just for today.

There is always next week.

We could use some company out here on Saturdays at 8AM.

The Team seems to be amiss.

If not to Run or for the Team n Training spirit but at least to drop candy on the path.

All of which just may be a Life Saver.

Happy Training