Friday, September 30, 2011

Coming Up on Marathon Week

Dear Nike+,
Apparently I can sign up for automatic Facebook updates while I am running the Chicago Marathon. That sounds good. So why will you not let me sign up?
crazy runner

Dear marathon monster in my stomach,
OK, I get it. You are hungry. All the time. But could you please stop waking me up in the middle of the night? Thanks.
crazy runner

Dear Chicago Marathon,
9 DAYS TO GO!! I am so excited I can't stand it!!
crazy runner

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sunday Thoughts O' Random

Dear Bank of America,
Thank you for not sending me my credit card statement for this billing cycle. And thanks for sending my statement to my bulk mail folder last billing cycle. I just barely sent in my payment on time, and that was only because I could do an instant payment from my Bank of America checking account. I am not amused.

Dear Switchfoot,
Thank you thank you thank you for sending my pre-ordered CD so that I would have it in time for its release on Sept. 27. I've had the CD in my hands since Friday evening. Score! 4 days before release date! Your songs are coming along with me on the Chicago Marathon.

Dear marathon monster that lives in my stomach,
I know, I know, you want more food. And I also know you are always hungry. You seem to be unaware of this thing called taper. That means less miles and in theory less food. Enjoy your last two weeks in my stomach.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Marathon Training Week 16

My training plan for the week was cross-train, run 5, 6, and 5 miles, rest, 4 mile pace run, and 12 mile long run. First week of taper. This is starting to look like a regular running week.

That pesky ankle is much better. Ahhhhhh. I'm still monitoring it carefully, but all is good so far. I didn't even need to adjust my training schedule this week. Now it just needs to hold out for another 15 days.

As of last Saturday, I reached 1000 miles ran this year. That includes several weeks off after marathons and injuries. Not too shabby.

Sunday – yoga class. Haven't been to an actual class in several weeks because of tropical storms, holidays, and traveling.

Monday – lunges, lower back, and abs, then a 5.2 mile run. I usually run then do strength training, but the sun isn't rising until later. It must be sleepy. While I have no problem running in the dark and I have the gear for it and I run in an area frequented by plenty of runners and walkers, I'd rather not run in the dark. I worry more about skunks and animals than other people.

Tuesday – 6.2 mile run, plus squats and upper body exercises. Went to the gym, since it was raining and I was planning on strength training. I had more flexibility with my schedule on Tuesday than on Wednesday when I usually do strength training. As in I teach on Tuesday and have a large chunk of unstructured time in between my classes. I use most of the time to do work, but I can also exercise whenever it best fits in.

Wednesday – 5.2 mile run in the evening, almost at marathon goal pace. The only mile that was not close to marathon goal pace was the one that was entirely uphill. My last .2 mile was very fast, just to get some practice at pushing hard at the end.

Thursday – Rest day.

Friday – 4.2 mile pace run. Humid but not hot. Last pace run of this training cycle. Got this goal pace thing down cold.

Saturday - 12.5 mile run. Met up with some running buddies at the start, and then we all went off at our own paces. Humid and slightly drizzly but not too hot. Went about 6 miles on the bike path and then turned around. Some of the trees are showing hints of fall. My Nike Freakishly Amazing tank made it to 10 miles and then I took it off. Not because I was hot but because the tank was soaked and felt very wet. Freakishly Amazing will not be worn at the Chicago Marathon. The sun started peeking through the clouds just as I finished. Hung around to cheer on my running buddies.

Total Miles: Scheduled – 32 Actual – 33.3

Thursday, September 22, 2011

How To Run Faster

The secret to running faster is to ... wait for it ... run faster.

Shocking, right?

I hung around 10 minute miles for a very long time. That was my comfortable easy pace for years. Yes, years. My mid-to-long distance race paces were in the low 9s, shorter distances in the 7s.

Then my comfortable easy pace started dropping into the 9s. No real reason. I didn't do anything in particular to get faster. My shorter distance race paces were still in the 7s, but my mid-to-long distance race paces were in the 8s. I learned how to hit goal paces in half marathons. Aimed for an 8:15 pace and ran 8:13. Aimed for 8:05 and ran 8:06. Hit my goal pace almost exactly. Twice. No easy feat over 13.1 miles.

And now my comfortable easy pace falls in the 8s. I should have ran slower over the last few months because it was the summer. Heat and humidity mean slow down. But unless it was very hot and humid, that didn't happen this summer. I brought my summertime long distance race pace down by 20 seconds per mile. Even when I went out easy and didn't pay attention to pace, I was easily in the 8s. When did that happen?

Oh. Yeah. Hi, Rhody G. Thanks for keeping me accountable.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

3 weeks and counting

I got my confirmation ticket for the Chicago Marathon in the mail today!! A promising sign? I think so.



I love the little card tucked in my packet reminding me that I am in a seeded corral. Yeah. 'Cause I totally forgot that I had to submit my corral-qualifying time by printing it out and physically mailing it to the Chicago Marathon. And it's not like I keep looking myself up in the list of registered participants to make sure that I am still in Corral C. 'Cause that would just be strange.


Also, ESPN is streaming Vice Verses, Switchfoot's new CD, before it is released on Sept. 27. As always, there are many songs that I think will be good for running. The War Inside is definitely going on my marathon playlist.

Yeah, it's where the fight begins
Yeah, underneath the skin
Between these hopes and where we've been
Every fights comes from the fight within

I am the war inside
I am the battle line
I am the rising tide
I am the war I fight
Eyes open open wide
I can feel it like a crack in my spine
I can feel it like the back in my mind
I am the war inside

The big things come from the little dreams
Every world is made by make believe

Sounds like good messages for a marathon.

Marathon Training Week 15

My training plan for the week was cross-train, run 5, 8, and 5 miles, rest, 5 mile pace run, and 20 mile long run.

Yeeeeeeeah. Didn't happen. My ankle decided that 15 weeks of marathon training was too much and started acting up again. Bad, ankle, bad.

Sunday – Rest day. Still in DC. Didn't have access to a gym and didn't want to go for a walk.

Monday – 5.2 mile run on the treadmill. I didn't have any desire to repeat last Saturday's run. Scenic, yes, and intentionally slower than usual, but I still ended up dehydrated afterwards. Badly. I got through it, but that queasy dehydrated feeling is something I'd rather avoid. By the time I got back to Rhode Island, it was warm and humid. Riiiiiight. I wasn't running outside if I didn't have to. Did upper body exercises and squats at the gym.

Tuesday – 7.7 mile run. Had to cut it short because my ankle started hurting. It was not an achy pain that goes away quickly. It was a pain I knew I couldn't run through. Bah.

Wednesday – Rest day. Ankle still wasn't cooperating. Best to not push it at this point.

Thursday – Rest day, sort of. Didn't run but did pushups, planks, lower back, and abs.

Friday – 5 mile run. Opted for the treadmill instead of outside in case I had to stop. While my ankle still hurt, it wasn't too bad and it is getting better. The pain almost entirely went away 4 miles in. Good signs. Crossing my fingers that I have nipped this in the bud with more rest, cross training, and stretching. I also think it was not properly Body Gliding my foot before the 8 mile run (which I always do but didn't on that day) and forgetting to do my usual foot/ankle/lower leg stretches. On Tuesday, I saw the Chicago Marathon and 15 weeks of training slipping away, but today's run put the marathon back on the map. I am cautiously optimistic that I will be OK by then.

Saturday - Made myself a 3-hour duathalon at the gym. I figured it would take me around 3 hours or just under 3 hours to run 20 miles. So I broke it into three 1-hour chunks. 7 miles on the treadmill, then 1 hour on a stationary bike, then another 7 (and .2) miles on the treadmill. I somehow managed to pick 2 machines without working TVs, but I had fun listening to my iPod and reading a magazine. If my ankle acted up at any time, I could stop or switch to another machine. That silly ankle behaved!! Minimal pain in the first 5 miles and then nothing after that. Nothing. Hallelujah. I even got the very last 2 miles down to marathon goal pace. I'm still proceeding cautiously and will make some adjustments to my training schedule for next week, but this a promising sign.

Welcome to taper. Now I just have to stay healthy and keep this ankle thing under control for the next 3 weeks.

Total Miles: Scheduled – 43 Actual – 32.1

Monday, September 12, 2011

Rock Encore

This year, I ran the Rock N Roll Mardi Gras Marathon and got this ...

... and the Rock N Roll Providence Half Marathon and got this ...

... and so I also got this special medal because I've completed two Rock N Roll Races. More bling!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11/01 + 10 years = 9/11/11

"Our lives are going to change."

That is how I found out about 9/11/01. From my cognitive psychology professor at the beginning of a 10:30am class.

Even though I grew up in Long Island, I instantly knew that no one in my family was anywhere near the World Trade Center. I did know, however, that it was only a matter of time before someone we knew was there. My dad's colleague who was on the 70th-something floor of one of the towers and got out 15 minutes before the building collapsed. My neighbor's son who was in the Pentagon. Two of my aunt's preschool students who lost their fathers. How do you explain 9/11 to a 4-year-old? It was hard enough for adults to wrap their minds around it, no less a child.

I got sick of 9/11 a few years ago. I had to turn the TV off because I just did not want to see those images over and over and over again. I saw them enough on an endless loop on 9/11/01. I was done.

I do not want the weather to be the same as that day. A beautiful early fall day with crisp air and clear blue skies.

I do not want to hear the bells. The bells. They always get me. At 12 noon on 9/11/01, 3,000 members of the Boston College community gathered on an open plaza underneath a Gothic tower. The clock bells tolled. Everyone was silent. Scared. Confused.

I am in DC for 9/11/11 visiting my husband. He is part of how I found out about 9/11 because he was sitting in front of me in that cognitive psychology class. I saw the Pentagon off in the distance yesterday. That was ... unsettling. I was out for a run and had to stop. I couldn't just run along and pretend like everything was fine. The 10 year anniversary didn't really hit me until I realized I was so close to where hundreds of people lost their lives.

If I had a choice, I would be back at Boston College today. Just after I graduated, BC dedicated a labyrinth as a 9/11 memorial. It is a series of twists and turns laid out in concentric circles. It is not a maze. There is one path to the center of the labyrinth. It is supposed to offer an opportunity for meditation. Follow the path to the center, spend some time there, and follow the same path back out. I stumbled into the labyrinth sort of by accident the first time I walked it. I've been back many times since then. The labyrinth has taught me something different and something important every time I have walked through it. Focus on now. Don't try to predict the path. Make the most of the journey. How did I get here and where am I going next? See where you've been.

The first time I walked the labyrinth

And the second

The most recent time

Yes, our lives changed. So does the labyrinth, just as what I take away from walking through it changes every time.

On the Rhode Again

This post is brought to you by Washington, DC and the National Park Service.

I was looking forward to a scenic long run around Washington, DC this weekend. There are many things in DC that are free. The Smithsonian Museums, the monuments, and pretty much anything run by the U.S. Government or National Park Service. Public bathrooms and water fountains are everywhere. Thanks, DC. This runner took advantage of both of those.

Starting off at Union Station in sight of the Capitol.


Running down the National Mall

National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden. The garden is interesting, and there is a pretty fountain in the center of it. One of my favorite places in DC.

Washington Monument. Good thing I went to the top the last time I was in DC.

World War II Memorial

Found Rhode Island

Vietnam War Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

Then I headed across the Potomac River on the bridge behind the Lincoln Memorial, went back over the bridge, and followed the Potomac for a few miles.

On my way back, I realized the Pentagon was across the river.

Tidal Basin

Jefferson Memorial

White House

U.S. Capitol. Note to self: there is a reason it is called Capitol Hill. Remember that the next time you run in DC.

Done!! Thumbs up to DC for having lots of public bathrooms, water fountains, many paths suitable for running, and free monuments. (Thumbs down to the sun and humidity, but that's another story).

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Marathon Training Week 14

My training plan for the week was cross-train, run 5, 5, and 5 miles, rest, 8 mile run, and 12 mile long run. Last stepback week before one more high mileage week and taper. Woah. I seriously do not know how that came up so fast.

A few weeks back, I was concerned about overtraining. I didn't know if I was running too fast. I didn't want to push too hard and not have enough recovery time. Recovering from Rock N Roll Providence took longer than I expected and slowed me down for a good week or so. But after running 20 miles with no soreness the next day (which has never ever ever happened) and doing an effortless unscheduled pace run (see Tuesday), I don't think I am pushing too hard or overtraining. Maybe all of the changes I've made this training cycle are paying off.

Sunday – yoga on demand, plus calf raises

Monday – 5.2 mile run, plus upper body exercises and squats at the gym. Easy peasy run. It was like my legs forgot that I ran 20 miles over the weekend. Switched my Monday and Wednesday lifting sessions because Monday was a holiday. I had more time to go to the gym on Monday, and I could do what I planned to do on Wednesday at home.

Tuesday – 5.2 mile run. Even more easy peasy lemon squeezy than Monday's run and yet it was at marathon goal pace. Take a look at my schedule and note that there is no pace run this week. My first mile was at marathon goal pace so I went with it. That's what happens when you get a cool and showery day. Remember my first 5 mile pace run on the treadmill in Week 1? Remember how I thought it was not impossible but challenging? Not so much anymore. Tuesday's run was a breeze.

Wednesday – Supposed to run in the morning, but I was having issues with Rhody G. Again. Bad, Garmin, bad. Please stop misbehaving. I can only get it to turn on by doing a soft reset (hold mode and lap/reset and then press the on button). I haven't be able to upload my workouts to Garmin Connect since last week, although I can see my data on the watch and can manually upload the important data points. Today's issue was because the battery wasn't charged. That's my fault, not a misbehaving Garmin. Did lunges, lower back, and abs, then went to work early. 5.2 mile run in the evening. In some rain. Smartwool socks get a thumbs up from me in the rain. Also did some pushups in the evening when I got home.

Thursday – Rest day. More rain. A good day to not run.

Friday – 8.2 mile run around the East Side of Providence. Humid but comfortable. I realized that walking aggravates my ankle. On Thursday I walked a lot, including a break after lunch. Running doesn't bother it, but walking does. Go figure.

Saturday - 12.2 mile run in Washington, DC. Went on a tour of most of the major monuments and attractions, stopped where I pleased to look around, and took advantage of the many public restrooms and water fountains all over the city. Nice job, DC. The sun and humidity were getting to me by the end, but all in all it was a good run and certainly a scenic one.

Total Miles: Scheduled – 35 Actual – 36

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Marathon Training Week 13

My training plan for the week was cross-train, run 5, 8, and 5 miles, rest, 5 mile pace run, and 20 mile long run. Another high mileage week and the first of two 20 mile runs. Bring it, marathon. 35 days to go!!

Darkness in the morning? I am not a fan. It used to be light when I got out of bed. Right now I am lucky if the sun has risen before I head outside. Bah. I have gear for running in the dark, but that doesn't mean I want to start using it yet. I'm going to switch to the treadmill or running in the evenings soon. Or I could take advantage of my flexible work schedule and go in a little later than usual.

Sunday – Tropical Storm Irene. Power got knocked out in the morning. Went for a 3ish mile walk after the storm subsided, and did some calf raises and pushups.

Monday – 8.2 mile run, plus lunges, abs, and lower back at the gym, plus 3/4 mile walk home. I switched the 8 mile run with one of the 5 milers because the power was still out and I decided to stay home to start cleaning up. Hence I had more time. It's actually a good thing to have a day off from work during a high mileage week. Despite no power at the gym either, the gym was open. Plenty of people were there.The only equipment that wasn't working were the treadmills. Can I count sawing up a large tree branch and cleaning up the yard as exercise? I think so. The power came back on just before lunchtime. Yay.

Tuesday – 5.2 mile run. It was supposed to be my first day of class, but the campus was having power issues. So I went to my other job at my other campus, which did have power (at least my building did).

Wednesday – 5.2 mile run in the evening, plus upper body exercises, squats, and planks in the morning. I was all dressed and ready to head out on my run. Rhody G refused to turn on. The instruction manual didn't have instructions on how to reset it. I had power but no Internet and couldn't get online to figure out how to reset it. So I grabbed my iPod, water bottle, and lifting gloves and headed to the gym. Reset Rhody G when I went to work. Went for the run in the evening. I really need to remember that I cannot eat anything orange before I run. That means Goldfish crackers, oranges, carrots, and other orange stuff.

Thursday – Rest day. First day of class take 2.

Friday – 5.2 mile pace run. Nailed it with relatively little effort. Another day bringing a taste of fall.

Saturday – 20.2 mile long run. Ran the first 13 miles with running buddies at various paces, then went off on my own for the last 7 miles and dropped it down to marathon goal pace. Finished in about 3 hours. I broke out the iPod for the last 7 miles. As much as I like running without music, I definitely needed it to get through this run. Legs felt a little sore at the end but were otherwise OK. I took a walk break at mile 19 because I was running out of water and getting too hot. No, I do not feel bad about that. Overall it was a good run.

Total Miles: Scheduled – 43 Actual – 44

August total: 166 miles, 20 runs, average distance of 7.56 miles, average speed of 7 mph (8:34 pace). Thanks, Garmin!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Hello Hurricane

Or hello Tropical Storm Irene.

I lost power for just over 24 hours. There were a few scary bands of high winds. Lots of tree branches got knocked down. That was about it. Thankfully, there was no damage to my house or car. Just a large branch that fell down and lots of leaves and smaller branches. It was all cleaned up the day after the storm. My basement did not flood. My freezer gets high marks. After being off for 24 hours, the temperature was 28 degrees. Everything was still frozen. The fridge was a different story. It got up to 61 degrees, but I opened it a few times and there wasn’t much in the fridge anyway.

It could have been worse. Much worse.

And then there's Vermont. Poor beautiful Vermont. They are not used to dealing with tropical storms. You'd think a land-locked state would be OK, but not so. Vermont has mountains and many rivers and streams. Dump several inches of rain on a mountain and all the water rushes down. Just about every major road has washouts. Route 4 in Killington-Mendon? Three-lane road sections are completely gone. I've traveled on that road more times than I can count. Town of Killington? Isolated. The Quechee Covered Bridge? Yeah, I've been there. Had lunch several times at Simon Pearce overlooking the bridge and a waterfall. The bridge is hanging by a thread.

But Vermonters are hardy resourceful people. I bet they will be back up and running faster than anyone anticipates.