Thursday, April 29, 2010

Taper freak-outs

I HATE THE TAPER!! Time to freak out, and insufficient time spent running to distract me from all the freak-outs. So far I've freaked out about:
- Oh no! My last hair band is stretched out! What if I forget to buy new ones?!?
- Scheduled for rain...can it wait 'til the afternoon?
- What if my digestive system does not believe it's race day?
- Had a dream that I forgot my Body Glide before the race
- Freaking out that I've missed the packet pick-up (which is tomorrow)

We're all pretty excited about race day, but the nerves are starting to run a little high, too.

231.5 + 3.3 + 3.9 = 238.8 miles

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Commence the taper

Yesterday it rained. Today it's raining. Tomorrow it will rain. But for a brief few hours this morning, it stopped. Just long enough for everyone to get out and do their long run. So after a flurry of text messages between Meg, The Gangsta, and me at 7am, we agreed to give it a go.

Thanks to all the rain, it was MUGGY when we started at 8am. The sun helped burn that off though, and by the time we were finished it was downright lovely running weather. We put in 8 miles before heading to Panera to enjoy our faves--breakfast sandwiches and smoothies. YUM.

And now begins the taper. A week of easy and reduced running before race day. A week of freaking out about everything that could go wrong. A week of worrying whether the taper itself is destroying my endurance and speed. A week of anticipation. Then we race.

223.5 + 8.0 = 231.5 miles

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Three Things Thursday

Three Things Thursday (I know, it's been a while since I did one)

1. Last hard run
Last night was the last hard track practice before race day. Coach Paula was there early and had started her 10 x 800m workout, her fave pre-race workout. We took a cue from her and did a scaled-back version, 6 x 800.

1 mile warm-up
800s (half-mile intervals) at: 3.48, 3.43, 3.38, 3.40, 3.39, 3.36
1 mile cool-down

According to this post from last July, these are good times for me. I'm feeling cautiously optimistic about the race! I want that new PR!

Mileage (somehow the addition has gotten screwed up somewhere. I'm going to trust that has it right somehow):
214.7 + 3.9 + 5.0 = 223.5 miles

2. The news!
Mr. Joanna and I bought a house! I will post a few pictures of it later. It's a great place and I feel lucky to have found it. We close in mid-June. I still get tied up in knots regularly about the whole move, but at the same time I'm excited. And anxious about selling our current place.

3. Other odds & ends
I thought I'd throw in some of my recent crafty projects while I'm at it. I've had SO much fun making these. It's a good creative outlet for me and it's productive--two things that make me happy. Check out my recent projects here and here. These are pages from our 2005 trip to Alaska. I'm finally almost finished!

Monday, April 19, 2010

PAUSE please

I need for someone to please press the Pause button for a few minutes. This running recap is so long overdue because these are literally the first free minutes I've had. My Google Reader was overflowing with your wonderful posts, which I'm getting to (!), and now I can turn to this.

Tuesday (4/13): After a busy day at work and playing with the babe, I was left to race against sunset to get my run in. So, foolishly, that's what I did. I just ran as hard as I could for a 2-mile loop around the neighborhood. It felt awesome, and I had a blast, but I payed for it later (read on).

Wednesday: Our regular track was out of commission for some needed repairs, so Meg, RunningFirst, our teammate AM and I decided to run the neighborhood around there instead. It seemed like we started out way fast but somehow our first mile was our slowest. We ended up doing 3.3 miles in 30:57 for a 9:20 pace. Not bad for an "easy" run.

Thursday, o-dawn-thirty, aka, the only time Meg and I could do our dress rehearsal: Meg and I met at 7am at a Meijer (the Midwest's improved version of a Wal-Mart), left one car there with Powerade, left another bottle of Powerade in a park along our route, then parked at our starting/stopping area. It was dress rehearsal time for the upcoming Illinois Half. How did it go? Good and bad.

Let me explain. One thing Meg and I have markedly improved on during this training cycle has been strategy for long runs. We have had at least 2 long runs at each mileage (2 8-mile runs, 2 10-milers, etc). Each time we've had a mileage hike, we've used the first time to ease into it, then the second time to really attack it at race pace. So, our 12-miler dress rehearsal was hard. Really hard, for me (thank you, Tuesday sunset run). But it was good. Why? Because we got through it, and fairly respectably at that. Because we now know what to expect of the course. Because we are now past our peak training run.

This week we run hard. Next week we taper. Then we race, May 1. The goal is to PR (2:06:09); the dream is to sub-2.

After our run we grabbed some breakfast before I dashed home to get cleaned up and drive 2 hours to pick up my mom (nickname: Pepper) from our nearest metro airport. The return trip was eventful, but that story is for another day (Meg is my hero).

Friday-Saturday: Mr. Joanna and I got up with the babe, got his day started with Pepper, then left for the 3 hour drive to our soon-to-be-hometown to go house hunting. I'm not ready to post details about the trip yet, but I will give you this. On Friday night we had dinner at an Italian place. For dessert I ordered 2 profiteroles. In France, 2 profiteroles makes a nice, reasonable dessert. Here in the obese U.S. of A., it's enough food to feed a family. Not that I'm complaining. We all know I'm a total sugar addict. Why do you think I run?!?

Sunday: We got back around 1 and found, to our great dismay, that Pepper had taken the babe to the grocery store. We couldn't wait to see him and practically smothered him in hugs when they got back. I got in an easy 3.9 miler that afternoon. It was good, even if just to loosen up. And bonus: the babe used his potty successfully THREE times (twice while we were gone, once after we got back) over the weekend. I realize that this may seem like TMI to those of you who don't have kids....

Monday: I took Pepper back to the airport, worked on some stuff around the house, and played with the babe until his bedtime. I got a picture of one of his recent quirks that I wanted to share. He routinely lines up all his trucks/trains when he plays with them. I love this. I also love that he puts them away when asked. He's a pretty orderly kid. And yes, that's a giant duck laundry hamper in the background.

193.2 + 2.0 + 3.3 + 12.2 + 3.9 = 214.7

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Run for the Hills!

This race was brought to my attention this morning and I absolutely HAD to share. This is the "Run For The Hills" half-marathon & 5k hosted by The Mountain Institute, at Spruce Knob, West Virginia. Check this out, it's insane. And fabulous.

Spruce Knob is a place very near to my heart. The two summers I spent there (one as a student, one as staff) played a huge role in my career selection and the sense of identity I have with Appalachia. It also gave me friendships that have endured the test of time.

Running up there is insane. Spruce's elevation peaks at 4863 feet. It's surrounded by national forests. The views are phenomenal. Most of the roads aren't paved. I have a scar on one knee from tripping on a rock during a run on Spruce in 1998. I wear it as a badge of honor.

I'm going to have to cut this short--running recap to come possibly tomorrow evening. I have a mid-week run on deck for tonight and a 12-miler with Meg early tomorrow morning. But the bottom line: if you can get to Spruce to run, do it. You'll never forget it.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

What, we run hills! Well, sort of.

It's been a great weekend full of running and hanging out with my boys. Here's the recap:

Friday: I fully intended to underachieve. Really. I didn't mean to run 3.9 miles Friday morning. I only meant to run 3. It just sort of happened. I might have loved it, too.

Friday evening (like every other evening), I had the pleasure to do some totally different running. Running after my son. Every day when I pick him up and he realizes we're home he starts almost frantically saying "cars, cars, cars!" or "outside" or, my favorite "ball," which we all know is a ruse. He takes the ball, throws it down the driveway, then takes off running down the sidewalk while I run after the ball.

He positively barrels down the sidewalk for 2 blocks, where he stations himself at a busy corner to watch all the cars go by. He often points and says "car" or "truck." We get waved at a lot. I love this kid.

Saturday: 10-miler with the Team. The got through the first 5.5 at a pace I was really happy with. Things got a little dicey for a few miles, but I finished strong. Overall, pretty happy with that long run. And then we ate our faces off at Panera. YUM.

I've been wanting to add more running pics. So yesterday when I met the Team and the trees were in bloom and we had amazing weather, I was kicking myself for forgetting my camera.

Sunday: Meg gave me the chance to correct that error when she missed the Team run. She needed to make it up today, so I decided to tag along, ostensibly to man her water stops and be there in case her injured leg gave her trouble (which it didn't). It just so happened to also be a good excuse to catch up with her a bit, cram in a couple extra miles (2.2, to be exact) and get some pictures.

(above: approaching our first water stop/starting & finishing area)

(above: I've never seen these before--metallic looking green and blue flies)

(above: this is approaching our second water stop, around 5.5 miles)

(above: what most of the course looks like)

(above: most of our course is wooded, but part of it runs alongside a golf course)

AND FINALLY...the dreaded hill. Mr. Joanna looked at this and said, "The old you would laugh at you for dreading that hill." I responded that I laugh at myself every Saturday for dreading this hill. Compared to where I grew up this is nothing...but at the end of a long run it's enough to make us groan. And in fairness, this picture only shows the first half of the hill. It continues past the bend. That's the fabulous Meg charging up the hill, almost finished with her 10-miler.

It was at least 75 degrees while Meg did her 10-miler, so to cool off and refuel afterward we went to DQ and indulged. Man, I love running.

177.2 + 3.9 + 10.0 + 2.2 = 193.2 miles (there's some rounding error)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

So that's how it's gonna go down?

I apologize for the blog slacking! Here's the recap of everything you've missed.

Monday: On Monday while working from home I checked the hourly forecast for the rest of that day and Tuesday. It looked like this:

PERFECT, rain, rain, dinner/family time, dark, windy, windy, windy, windy, dark.

So I got up and went running. A good 4.8 miles around the neighborhood then right back to work. I love that my work can be flexible like that right now. It won't be like this for long.

Tuesday: Admission of truth--I am not a reliable cross-trainer. Actually, I just don't do it most of the time. Which is why I'm going to go ahead and count mowing the lawn as exercise. If Mr. Joanna can count ping pong as exercise (which he does...true story), I can count mowing. When I finished I looked back at the yard, all proud of myself. Then I saw this. One missed strip of grass between rows and no time to weed whack it. FAIL. I still cross-trained. Right?

Wednesday: RunningFirst and I decided to believe's claim that the rain was over, so we headed to the track dutifully at 6pm. The workout: warm-up, 3 mile tempo run, cool down. My mile splits were 8:04, 7:54, and 7:48. Decreasing splits! Unlike a true tempo run, I took short breaks between miles--shorter than if it were an interval workout. I'm happy to report that I was absolutely unafraid of this workout. It was one of the easier ones we've done, intentionally, since we're now close-ish to race day.

In the middle of the cool-down, RunningFirst (who ran parts of the workout with me) lamented the state of his preparation for our race and the difficulty he'd had in joining me for portions of the tempo run. So there on the spot he decided that our track workout was going to be written in the history books like this. I freaking love it. It IS true that I appreciated being paced so well. And it's also true that he's about half full of it. On purpose.

Thursday: A pigeon flew into my office through the one small window that opens. The pigeon and I were both too freaked out for a photo op. I called some people with nets who came and released it back into the great outdoors.

And now, because I'm in a really random mood, I'm going to give you a totally unrelated and unsolicited product review: Lemon Curd.

It has come to my attention that a lot of you have never heard of lemon curd. Let me introduce you. It is sort of like really thick lemon pie filling that you put on toast. You convince yourself that it's as reasonable as eating jam. It's expensive and ridiculous and pretty much the best thing on Earth. You can find it in most grocery stores next to the jam/jelly section. Give it a try!

I'm planning a FAQ post about this blog, so if there's anything you'd like to know please just post a comment and ask!

167.4 + 4.8 + 5.0 = 177.2 miles

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Wind blows but it makes you stronger*

That was all I could think today as I did my 8-mile long run (it was a cut-back week) in 20mph winds. Don't get me wrong, it was a gorgeous day--clear skies (for most of the run anyway) and 72 degrees. Gorgeous. As long as I could ignore the fact that I looked like a mime running against the wind. I kept wondering how I could show you. I realize that a picture of my wind-swept hair would be better, but this flag is all I have. It can't all be brilliant.

Mileage: 155.4 + 4.0 + 8.0 = 167.4 miles

*I cannot claim credit for this clever one-liner. I saw it on a running shirt a few years ago.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The truth about track workouts

I feel like I kind of skirt the truth about track workouts when I talk about them on here. That fact was brought into bold relief for me yesterday when two things happened.

1. I had to explain to non-runner adults what I was doing. First was to a woman (who we adore) who works at my son's daycare. The second was to one of my committee members (who I quite like), who I happened to run into on my way to practice last night. The third was to a woman who looked at me like I was crazy when I stopped at Walgreen's on my way home. She stared, cocked her head to one side, and read my shirt out loud, "Inaugural Rock & Roll Half-Marathon." I decided it wasn't worth explaining it that time.

The truth: Most grown adults put "track practice" in the category of "things high school students do," and explaining that your evening is devoted to it sounds patently bizarre. Like losing toenails and chafing, I just decided a long time ago to file "track practice" with the other runner topics you can't discuss in polite society.

2. I'm secretly intimidated by track practice every single week. How? I have no idea. I ran them for three years in high school and am on my third (I'm not counting '08) year of running them with the Team. I don't remember being intimidated by them in high school, but then I also don't remember obsessing over pace like I do now. I had a moment of panic yesterday when RunningFirst revealed the workout: 8 x 400. I got through them just fine (1:37 to 1:42 intervals, I'll take that!) and it's a workout I've done gobs of times before. Why the worry?

The truth: Even runners get intimidated about running sometimes. It's an ugly truth; I'd rather be fearless. But in just a few fleeting moments every week, I'm not. You don't have to be fearless, you just have to do it.

Mileage (end of March cumulative total): 147.4 + 4.0 + 4.0 = 155.4 miles