Monthly Archives: November 2005

Running Along the Orange Line

Start time: 11/28/05, 7:00pm
Location: Clarendon, Court House, and Rosslyn
Distance: 3.5 miles
Average pace: 10:14min/mile

After feeling immensely fat/lazy earlier today, I took advantage of the fantastic weather we’re having here in the DC area and went running. I deliberately went slower than the last time I ran along Wilson and Clarendon Boulevards, trying to avoid all that huffing and puffing. The difference did me well; it was much more comfortable despite my slacking as of late, letting me run up to Clarendon metro, then turning around and heading all the way down past Court House and Rosslyn metro and practically to the water.

Of course, there’s still that killer hill coming back up from Rosslyn (especially between Rhodes and Veitch, good god) but it felt really good to just get my legs pumping and to finish up the loop, which turned out (without planning on my part) to be exactly 3.5 miles. If only it was a little flatter I’d be thrilled with the route, but it was still quite nice. Definitely a distance I’ll have to remember for the future.

Oh, best of all? I tried out a pair of Superfeet inserts instead of my orthodics that I had made back in 2001 (and which are starting to wear out). No pain! This is a huge relief, knowing that instead of $300 custom-made arch supports I can stick with a $35 store-bought pair. Phew.

The Worst Organized Race Ever

Start time: 11/24/05, 8:30am
Location: West Potomac Park
Distance: 3.1 miles (5K)
Average pace: 8:31min/mile

All right, “The Worst Organized Race Ever” is perhaps a bit of an exaggeration. This morning was, however, the worst organized race that I’ve run in (and I’m still reeling from the nightmare from trying to get to the start line of the Virginia Beach Rock ‘N Roll Half Marathon in back in 2003). Now to their credit, SOME (who put on the Thanksgiving Day Trot for Hunger 5K) is a good organization and their hearts are in the right place. But… well…

I got there half an hour early with Alma and her friend Monica; while they had their numbers, I hadn’t been able to pick mine up yesterday. What happened next can only be described as an eternity of waiting. Let’s put it this way: I got my bib number faster at every single marathon I’ve ever run. Or for that matter, anything. The pages they were checking people off with weren’t in sequential order, the line moved so slowly I was starting to think that everyone at the front had died, they ran out of safety pins, and they finally said they were going to just start handing out numbers to people in line and you could register it to your name (and get your t-shirt) once the race was over… except they didn’t.

I literally got my number when I heard someone way over a megaphone, “Ok, runners, areyouready?*TOOT*” I swear, that’s how fast between the question and the sound was. And, just like that, you were off down a course that had… no mile markers. Helpful, huh? To be fair, there were some markers along the course, as I suddenly discovered when I passed the 2K point. Kilometer markers only? Were any of the runners here really worried about their per-kilometer pace? It was an out-and-back course through West Potomac Park, so it was nice to run alongside the water in the Hains Point area… well, at least until a Park Services truck that had been parked on the side of the road suddenly decided to start moving and do a u-turn on Ohio Drive. No, I am not making this up. The first two leaders had just passed by me going back towards the finish when the truck did this, nearly wiping out not only us at (approximately) the 2.25K mark but also the rest of the leaders. I saw several of the leaders hit the truck’s side in anger, to which I cheered.

At the far end of the course, there was a water stop… well, sort of. Rather than jugs of water, there were two people using a water cooler to pour water into cups. Suddenly I found myself thankful that I’d actually brought along my water bottle and belt, even though my main reason had been to have somewhere to put my keys. There was no chip timing at this race, but there were people standing at the end of the course writing down numbers as people came through. This is a race that, I should point out, over 2000 people registered for. (Actual turnout was probably closer to 1000.)

Meanwhile, how was I? Well, I felt like crap to be honest. It was cold and starting to sprinkle on us, my nose was running and dripping down my throat (ugh), and I got a stitch in my side. Oh, and I ran almost the entire thing by myself because I wasn’t able to find Alma and Monica again before the race started (they’d gone to use a port-a-potty while I was getting my number and then *TOOT* the race was off!). I saw Alma coming back on the course when I was almost at the turn-around, and I finally caught her around the 4.5K point of the race; I picked up a tiny bit of speed at that point (or maybe Alma was slowing down?) because I ended up going over the finish line first, but certainly no more than 5 or 6 seconds ahead.

Despite feeling pretty bad I still did better than my last 5K, with a new PR of 26:23. Yay! (My old PR was 27:45 from back in May.) Pity so much else seemed to go wrong. Maybe I could just find a nice 5K somewhere warm for January?

Oh, and I think next year I’ll just run the Virginia Run Turkey Trot out in Centerville. Hills be damned, I’ll take a slightly harder course if it means simple competence.

Need for Speed: Season 2

Start time: 11/20/05, 9:00am
Location: American University
Distance: 3 miles
Average pace: 8:30min/mile

Ah speedwork, how I have missed you!

It was a really small group of us; me, Rick, Cal, and Pam. Now that we’re post-marathon, I decided it was as good a time as any to push my speed training pace up. My original thought was to try out a 9:00min/mile pace (my old speedwork was at a 9:30min/mile), but after I did the first lap I was waaaay off. The other laps of the first mile were at an 8:45min/mile pace, so I figured that was as good a speed as any. Of course, trying to hit that is something entirely different; that pesky first lap keeps coming in a little bit fast and throwing it all off. 🙂 I may just stick with actually trying to an 8:30min/mile pace for speedwork since that’s really not that much faster for the remaining laps. (2:07 per lap.)

More importantly, afterwards involved eggs and canadian bacon at City Diner. Mmmmmm, so tasty.

Mile 1 (8:25): 1:56, 2:10, 2:11, 2:08
Mile 2 (8:39): 2:04, 2:13, 2:09, 2:11
Mile 3 (8:26): 1:59, 2:09, 2:09, 2:07

Rolling Hills and Prickly Feet

Start time: 11/16/05, 7:50am
Location: Arlington Boulevard Trail
Distance: 5 miles
Run:Walk ratio: 5:1
Average pace: 9:53min/mile

I finally forced myself to get up early on a weekday and go running. Sure, I do it on the weekends all the time, but the last time on a weekday where I went running before work rather than after? Apparently March 22nd, 2005… which is also noted as the only time in 2005 up until that point where I’d run before work instead of after. Yeesh.

I decided to give the Arlington Boulevard Trail a try since it was actually daylight; I don’t know how well lit it is at night and wanted my first experience to be one that I could walk away from. Well, I’ve driven up and down Route 50 may times before but it seems the one thing I never noticed is that it’s full of rolling hills, or at least in the portion between 10th Street and Hudson Street. On the whole it went well; the on- and off-ramps for Washington Street didn’t get me killed like I feared, and running back and forth twice on a 1.25-mile stretch that I’d mapped out felt almost like old times. (Even down to segment #2 being the slowest: 11:56, 12:37, 12:31, 12:18.)

I actually had two concerns while out there. The first is a minor one: I need new headphones. My old running headphonese broke months ago and while I’ve been trying to give those earbuds that all my iPods come with a whirl, they just don’t stay in very well. Hopefully a stroll up to Myer Emco will fix that. The second one was a little worrying; around mile 3 it felt like my left foot was on the verge of falling asleep. This is a problem I actually had back in 2002, where it was determined that I have several blood vessels clustered around a nerve in my left foot and when I ran they were expanding and pinching the nerve. The solution turned out to be wearing wider shoes so there was a little more room for my foot in there. Hopefully this was just because I wasn’t wearing thin-enough socks this morning, because the idea of wearing 4E shoes is a little terrifying. (Cue up the circus music.) Fingers crossed!

Oh, and Amy Ray’s “Blender” (from her second solo album Prom) is one of the all-time best running songs ever. Just thought everyone should know that.

The Winter Season

Start time: 11/12/05, 8:00am
Location: W&OD Trail
Distance: 8 miles
Run:Walk ratio: 5:1
Average pace: 10:30min/mile

Saturday morning I met up with a handful of people from my pace group (Ali, Carla, John, Mark, and Randy) for a nice and brisk 8-miler. I say brisk because it was a wee bit nippy outside; between a running jacket (that later went around my waist as I warmed up) and some shirt layers, though, life was good. It felt good to be out with the group again, and more importantly after last Tuesday’s crash-and-burn jaunt around the neighborhood it was also quite nice to get back into the swing of things.

It’s always a big mystery to see who will actually show up throughout the winter. Mark and Randy are definites, of course; they were out most weekends last year too, and they’re both probably going to run the Frederick Marathon at the end of April. It’ll be nice to have the others as well with us, though. They’re all great people and it really does make the time pass by so much more enjoyably. (And Julie, of course, will be back as well once her toe finishes healing. Right now she’s taking all of November off so hopefully… fingers crossed… Christmas will come early this year.)

Not too much else to report, other than it was nice to have the group moving a little faster than our normal group runs and everyone seeming to be good about it!

Back in the saddle

Start time: 11/08/05, 6:30pm
Location: Clarendon & Wilson Boulevards
Distance: 2.7 miles
Average pace: 9:28min/mile

A funny story by way of introduction. Before I ever started up this crazy running thing, I remember seeing people run up and down Wilson Boulevard (while eating dinner at Whitlow’s) and thinking how everyone who ran by looked really buff and athletic, and how cool it would be to be like them.

Fast-forward half a decade… and I’d finally gotten off my butt post-marathon and out running. Nine days of no running and apparently that’s all it takes for me to be huffing and puffing as I did a loop around the neighborhood. I just felt beat after a mile or so. Still, the important thing was to get back out there, finally.