Monthly Archives: September 2007

Leading Up

Start time: 9/30/07, 8:00am
Location: National Mall
Distance: 8 miles
Average pace: 8:54min/mile

Today was an easy 8-miler, the last run before my final long training run of the season. More importantly, though, it was the last run before Laura heads off to Portland, Oregon to run the Portland Marathon. I remember years ago saying, “You should run a marathon!” and her response involved a lot of laughter. This year she’s been out kicking butt and taking names; I have no doubt in my mind that her finishing time will beat my personal record for the distance, because she is just that good. It’s been a real pleasure to train with her—I can’t wait to hear how she does!

(Same problems as last time with the right foot. Time for ye olde tennis ball stretches!)

Less and More than Expected

Start time: 9/26/07, 6:15pm
Location: W&OD Trail
Distance: 10 miles
Average pace: 9:01min/mile

My schedule called for a 12-miler on Thursday, but with book club that just wasn’t happening. Instead I shifted it to Tuesday, with the idea to get the bulk of it run in the morning and the rest in the evening. When I woke up Tuesday morning, though, my legs felt stiff and sore so I decided not to run and went back to sleep. Upon waking back up 90 minutes later, though, they felt fine. Hmph.

After work, I decided to pick up something in the 6-to-8 range and then just call it a day. Heading out, the first three miles were slightly uphill and also heading right into the setting sun. It was an unpleasant run at best, with me feeling too warm (it was almost 90 degrees) and less than thrilled. (8:51, 8:36, 8:55) When I hit the turnaround at marker 8, I decided that perhaps 6 miles would be all I’d get in. By the time I made it back to marker 5 (and my car), though, I’d convinced myself to run at least a tiny bit more, even though I was definitely slowing down a great deal. (8:46, 9:00, 9:08) So, onwards I ran. I hit marker 4 (9:12) and then decided I could pick up another half mile before finally turning around, which would be a grand total of 9 miles, perfectly respectable. As I was closing in on that turn-around point, though, I could sense there was a runner right on my heels, so I turned a bit and said something like, “Sorry about that,” assuming that he was trying to pass my slow butt.

As it turned out, he was drafting off of me to keep going, so we ended up running together for another half mile. His name was Justin, and he’s training for his first marathon this November in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. It was nice to talk with him, and while he dropped back a bit before I hit my turn-around, it definitely made me speed up for what was my eighth mile. (8:54) From there it was a slow uphilll trudge back to marker 5 and my car, and I was glad to stop when I did. (9:17, 9:25) Considering I was expecting to get no more than 8 miles in after work, picking up 10 was a nice surprise even if a bit lacking in performance by the end.

Additionally, I had a brand-new sort of foot pain; a strange sort of cramp on the left side of my right foot. Hmmm. I’m skipping spinning today to let it rest; hopefully that will do the trick!

Your Guess Is As Good As Mine!

Start time: 9/23/07, 8:00am
Location: National Mall
Distance: 8 miles
Average pace: ???

For today’s run, Fred told everyone that watches and GPS units were a strict no-no; the idea was to listen to your body instead of depending on your watch and to pick your pace accordingly. It was a really nice run; Erika, Laura, Paul, a new woman (Diane?), and I headed out for an easy 8-miler around the Mall. Erika soon took off (being much faster than us) and Diane decided to head off with her. Around the same time we also picked up an extra runner (Audrey) and the four of us stuck together up until around mile 5; Paul dropped back then, and while Audrey went ahead a bit, I soon ended up with her and Laura just a stone’s throw behind us. (It was surprisingly hot today for the end of September. Bleah.)

If I had to guess how fast we were going I’d hazard somewhere around an 8:45min/mile pace. It felt good, and that was the important thing.

The Hills Are Alive With The Sound Of Running

Start time: 9/20/07, 7:30am
Location: Wilson Boulevard (Courthouse, Clarendon, Virginia Square, Ballston, Bluemont)
Distance: 6.25 miles
Average pace: 8:54min/mile

I was scheduled for an 11-miler today, so I mapped out a 6-mile run for the morning. The problem was, I’d never actually just run down Wilson Boulevard beyond the 1.5-mile mark. So while my route was great in theory, the reality? I had not realized there was a massive, massive, massive hill in mile 3. I mean, we’re talking so huge that when telling a friend where I’d run their response was, “Um, that’s really hilly” and they only drive that area. I actually ended up walking on that hill for about 30 seconds to catch my breath, which is really bad. Still, I picked it up on the way at the end, which was nice. (9:08, 8:49, 9:21, 8:54, 8:58, 8:35, and 1:48 for the quarter (an 8:03min/mile pace).)

AnticipationStart time: 9/20/07, 7:15pm
Location: W&OD Trail
Distance: 5 miles
Average pace: 8:34min/mile

What a beautiful evening it was tonight. Nice and cool, a gorgeous sunset for inspiration, and after a long day at work it felt good to blow off a little bit of steam. I figured the last two miles might slow down because the last two miles were uphill, but that wasn’t a problem this evening. One normal warm-up mile, then four that just went slightly faster and smoothly. Well, aside from no less than four bicyclists who were riding on the wrong side of the trail and almost ran me over. For two of them I felt the bike whiz by about a millimeter from me. Nice. (8:53, 8:28, 8:36, 8:31, 8:23.)

A graceful and easy tempo. Hurrah!

Support Your Local Military

Start time: 9/18/07, 7:00pm
Location: W&OD Trail
Distance: 4 miles
Average pace: 8:32min/mile

I keep forgetting to post this one—on Tuesday I was supposed to run LTRs, but I just couldn’t muster up the interest. I think it had to do with having the 21-miler on Sunday; after that much, I just needed something less structured, more fun. So instead I went for a 4-mile tempo. It was a gorgeous, cool night and I’d forgotten just how great it feels to go running in that kind of weather. I started off at my regular pace, then began to pick it up on the way back. Apparently it was also “shirtless armed forces running night” on the W&OD because I saw not one, not two, but three different shirtless/muscular/military-type guys running as well.

On the way back, I saw the original one for a second time up ahead a bit. I could feel myself getting closer and closer, and a combination of the prize at the end of the rope, it being a great night, and just feeling really good about running meant that last mile was really flying. Woohoo! (8:55, 8:49, 8:34, 7:51)

A nice break from the schedule for a change, and just what I’d needed to get my spirits back up.

Second to Last

Start time: 9/16/07, 7:00am
Location: National Mall, Hains Point, and Rock Creek Park
Distance: 21 miles
Average pace: 10:00min/mile

This Sunday was my second-to-last long run of the season before the Outer Banks Marathon. Since my last one stopped short, I was pretty determined to get all 21 miles in. We had a radically different course planned for us; lots of East Potomac Park/Hains Point, more portions of the National Mall, and a jaunt up and back through Rock Creek Park.

Since I’m not running Marine Corps this year, it was great to head through Hains Point again; it was as beautiful and peaceful as I remembered it. The Mall was likewise as good as always, and it was fun to head back along Jefferson instead of Madison for a change and see the other museums. Then it was into Rock Creek Park, heading much further into it than I’d ever done in the past. It was here that our group finally splintered; Erika took off, and for a bit I had Dave & Paul running a bit in front of me and Laura a bit behind me. Before long I caught the guys, though, and soon after Laura got back up to us as well (at which point Dave took off).

As we continued along uphill, Paul began to drop back just a tiny bit, but even then it was never a great distance. It was right around the point that we turned around, though, that I started having the return of my problem from the previous long run; some internal distress and a need for a bathroom… of which, of course, there are none along Rock Creek Park. (I briefly considered nipping into the Zoo and in retrospect that might have been a smart plan, but oh well.) As Laura took off, Paul and I headed back as best we could. First I let him zoom off because I was having bad cramps, then after about five minutes of walking I started running again and eventually managed to pass him on the way back in. (By that point Paul had decided to walk for a bit.)

The one funny thing about my pace is that when we hit the 18 mile point I did look at my watch and got our split time for that point: 2:52:30, which is a 9:35min/mile average. If you look at my overall average pace, it says a lot about how horrible I was feeling those last three miles. (Actual finishing time for all 21 miles was 3:30, which means a crawlingly slow 12:30min/mile pace for those final three.) At least if I have this sort of problem on marathon day, there are regular bathroom stops along the course. Once that’s taken care of, life is much better.

Oh yeah, running

Start time: 9/13/07, 8:00pm
Location: Arlington Boulevard Trail
Distance: 3 miles
Average pace: 9:12min/mile

So, after Sunday’s run I just didn’t feel like running for a couple of days. Lifted weights and used the rowing machine on Monday, did the elliptical on Tuesday, nothing on Wednesday… but I just needed a break. But, break’s over, so last night I went for a gentle 3-mile run in the pleasant evening air. Nothing big, just a little “don’t forget you’re doing 21 of these on Sundays” sort of thing.

I Need A (Slightly Lame) Rabbit

Start time: 9/9/07, 8:00am
Location: National Mall & Capital Crescent Trail
Distance: 10 miles
Average pace: 8:47min/mile

Another 10-miler this morning, but one in which I learned something very important—I need someone in a race that I can pace off, get discouraged by, and ultimately beat. Because if I have all three things, I’m golden. Laura and I ended up losing Dave and Paul around mile 4.5 today; they were about 10 seconds ahead of us, hit a light that we missed, and were gone. But as Laura and I pushed on (and I was still feeling a little beat from this week’s exhaustion, although a lot of rest on Saturday helped a great deal), we were still doing good. I’d told Laura that if she wanted to talk off at any point she was free to do so, and around mile 8.5 she began to pull ahead. Then, as we got closer to the second turn-around (at mile 9), Dave came through—and then we saw Paul hit the turn-around, not that far ahead of us.

Really, all it ultimately took was for Laura to pass Paul for me to end up picking up the pace. I didn’t catch Laura by the finish (she was about 10 seconds of me) but that combination of having a target to focus on and also knowing the end was in sight? Perfect.

Fingers crossed that next Sunday’s long run goes well. After the last one’s disaster (courtesy stomach problems), I need a strong long run.

On a random note, my right foot is a little sore. Hmph.

Stopping Short (again)

Start time: 9/6/07, 7:30am
Location: Arlington Boulevard Trail
Distance: 4.5 miles
Average pace: 8:32min/mile

On the schedule for Thursday was a 10-mile tempo; the plan was to split it up into two parts like I did for the 9-miler. Easy, right?

When I headed out in the morning for the first 5-miler, I was already really tired; not a good sign. I hadn’t slept well and I was just dragging. By the time I began to near home base at mile 3, I was giving serious thoughts to just quitting. Instead, I sucked it up as best I could and pushed on, doing a pretty good job of keeping pace the whole way through. Well, up until mile 4.5 where I decided I really was done and would just use the last half mile as a cool-down. So of course, looking grubby and walking dejectedly home is when Steve and Britt drove by on their way to work, waving merrily away. My timing is impeccable.

I was supposed to run the other 5 miles with Pacers (whom I haven’t been with in ages) but when I left work I was even more tired than I was in the morning. So, I ended up scratching the run entirely, which was disappointing because I’d been really looking forward to it. *sigh* Some days, you just can’t win. Here’s to a better run this weekend, right?

LTRs yet again

Start time: 9/4/07, 5:30pm
Location: Thomas Jefferson Community Center
Distance: ~4.5 miles
Average pace: 9:15min/mile & 7:00min/mile

This was definitely a little harder, as the reps shot up to 6x3min. (Plus no running since the previous Thursday.) Feeling it in the last lap? Oh, you betcha. But on pace, so all’s well that ends well.