Thursday, February 26, 2009

Pure bliss.

Today when I went for my run it was 35 degrees, windy, and raining. Not exactly prime conditions for a phenomenal run, right?

I don't know what the hell was going on today, but I felt AMAZING. And I apparently wasn't just feeling fast, I WAS fast, averaging 7:16 mile pace...yet hardly feeling like I was putting in an effort. I was splashing through puddles like a little kid and just laughing at the wind and rain blowing in my face. Sometimes, I think I just run better when I feel like a badass just for getting out there - I mean, I saw ONE other runner out the entire time, and it was a Badger guy. And something about my designated "Thursday" route is just wonderful - around the UBay fields and down the bike path along seems short somehow, even though I measured out the run today and even underestimated it a little, and it turned out to be 7.75 miles. But it just flies when I'm running it for some reason. Maybe it's because Thursdays are always just insane, and just getting out there and cruising for like an hour in my own little world gets me through it. When I got back to the Nat I realized that there was a definite hot spot on my right big toe...I'd been running through ankle deep puddles of ice water so I really wasn't too concious of what was going on with my feet while I was running, but sure enough, a GIANT blood blister. Ouch. But you know what? Worth it.

I couldn't help but smile as I came cruising down the hill by the UBay fields, with "Baba O'Reilly" blasting through my headphones, water splashing everywhere, and my legs feeling like they could go, go, go forever. I don't have to win races, I don't need people to know my name, when it comes down to it, I love running because of days like this.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

"If a McDonald's quarter pounder with cheese were running a marathon..."

May I present the most horrible commercial ever:

When I saw this commercial during House on Monday, all I could do was just sit and stare in horror. They seriously put a McDonald's quarter pounder with cheese and running a marathon in the same sentence? Those two things don't even belong in the same dimension. I have nothing against the occasional McDonald's binge when I'm hungover or after a meet craving pure grease, but running a marathon? Really McDonald's? It supposedly would "show up without even training, because its 100% pure meat and real cheese, it can do this". Well I'd love if I could run the 3K in 10 flat because "I'm really awesome, I can do this", or go out and run a marathon right now for the same reason...but sadly, that isn't the case. As my friend Jade said: "If a quarter pounder were running a marathon, it would die of clogged arteries at mile 5".

Awesome workout Monday. Does working at 6:30 and skipping class just make me ready to kick ass by 5:30? I don't know. We did 10 x [1 min @ 5K pace (uhh...which was kind of more like...somewhere between mile and 3k pace...) and 1 min easy]...I ran with Claire the whole time and it ended up averaging out to 7 minute pace, even with the easy I just suck at doing workouts at their proper pace. If I feel good, I want to go fast, and why not? I'm training to run fast, aren't I? It would be different if I was killing myself to run whatever ridiculous pace I picked, but I think I just took a relatively easy workout and turned it into an awesome one. I don't know. Long ago my high school coach told me "If you raced the way you practice, you'd be our 4th or 5th runner on varsity" (In reality, I was about the 2nd-3rd runner on JV) And still, I think sometimes I tend to push it in practices. But whatever...a month of no racing will not be a bad thing. Time to train hard, get strong, and not feel bad about running 7 mile tempo runs on Thursdays just because its sunny and I'm feeling good. :)

Monday, February 23, 2009

All we know is distance

I was geeking out so much over my race on Saturday that I couldn't really think of anything to post on this until now...even now, I'm not really sure how to explain my race or how I feel about it, but I'm going to try because I feel like it's significant to me, and if its any indication of how outdoor season is going to go, then I am really, really looking forward to outdoor!

One of the few nice things about having a meet at the Shell is not having to get up at some ungodly hour and drive somewhere. I woke up around 9:30, had breakfast, and just hung out goofing around with the BF for a couple hours - it did NOT feel like I had a race. I went over to the Shell around 12:30 which turned out to be kind of pointless since no one from our club was running until 2, but Jade and Brittany and a few other people were there so we just hung out, watched the invitational 1200 (it's always fun watching people run your 400 pace for a 1200. yup.) and the prelims of the sprints and whatnot. I didn't actually start getting nervous about my race until the women's mile started - part of me wished that I had run that instead, just so I could be done. Jade ran an awesome race, she ended up going sub-5:30, and my other teammates ran well too. We watched the guys mile, and then Claire, Brittany, and I (the 3K crew) went to go warm up.

Everytime I warm up for a distance race, especially the 3K, I wonder what the hell I'm doing with my life. And how I got here - wait a second, wasn't it just 3 years ago that I was a SPRINTER? And now I'm running a serious long distance event? This can't be right...this can't be right at all. Its always during my warmup that all my doubts bubble up to the surface, as the 3 of us jog silently around the McClain center, each lost in our own world of thinking about the race. All of your senses are in hyperdrive - is that a side cramp coming on? My breathing doesn't feel right...that left hamstring feels really tight - each random twinge signaling disaster for your race. And yet we jog on, as time ticks down towards the moment when we'll be on that line, staring down 3000 meters of track.

So we came back out to the track, and time seemed to just slooooow down...every race seemed to have more heats than it was supposed to, and I kept doing strides and stretching nervously because I had nothing better to do. In this race, as with most distance races, it wasn't so much running well that I was worried about, although obviously I hoped that's what would happen, but it's just knowing that what you're about to do is going to hurt very, very badly, whether you run your best race ever or your worst. We talked to our coach about what we wanted our splits to be - I said I was shooting for 12 flat-ish, and no splits over 50, and Claire joked with me that I was shooting for 11:50, which I laughed off - yeah right, dropping 22 seconds? That's hilarious. Finally, it was time. We lined up, and then, the gun.

Probably the strangest thing about this race was that I basically ran it alone. Everyone was seeded above me by a pretty large margin, and the one girl who wasn't ended up running a 10:52...and your seed time was a 12:16 why? I honestly can't even say what was going through my mind during the race. I started out in 44, and knew that I had to pull back a bit, but even so my next couple laps were 45 and 46. I came through the mile in 6:12 and all I kept telling myself was "don't slow down. DON'T SLOW DOWN". Of course, I had no idea whether or not I actually was slowing down, or where my competition was, or anything at all for that matter. My only awareness was of the red track stretching out in front of me, the occasional call of my name from a random point on the backstretch, and splits. I kept listening for splits. A couple of times, they didn't come, and I assumed that meant that I had fallen off pace; that my coach didn't want to tell me...but looking back, that makes absolutely no sense, since you would think she would want to alert me that I was off. But aside from listening for splits, only one thought ran through my head - the number of laps to go. Over and over and over...5, 5, 5, 5, 5, like some kind of crazy cadence in my mind. With 4 laps to go, I finally heard another split - "48!" It suddenly dawned on me that I hadn't dropped off pace. All I had to do was make it through 4 more laps without slowing down, and I would PR. After that there was nothing - I just ran. I ran, and ran, and with each lap and the call of another "48" I came closer to home. I had completely given up looking at the clock by the time I reached the last lap. KICK!! I poured it on with everything I had left in me. Coming into the final straight, I finally looked up at the clock and saw eyes were blurry from the dry air and the effort so I had no clue, and in my haze I thought it was that moment, all that mattered to me in the world was reaching the finish line before that 11 became a 12. And in one last glorious moment as I crossed the line before I bent down hands-to-knees and commenced sucking air like I would never breathe again, I saw the glorious, glorious number:
A 22 second PR. I couldn't even believe it. As it turns out, I didn't run a single lap over 48. And that's the thing about this race - yes, I only beat 1 person. But I finally RACED. Even though there was no one else there to race with, I dug down and pulled out what I knew I had. I actually executed the race the way I wanted to - for ONCE in my life! And I don't even feel like I'm anywhere close to my peak this season, especially with the training I've been doing so far. So I guess I'm really going to have to work on that water jump, because I am ready to kick some 3K steeplechase ass in outdoor.

I love long distance. Who would have ever guessed?

all we know is distance
we're close and then we run

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

She said, I think I'll go to Boston

I didn't get into Wisconsin. And I've never been so happy to get a rejection letter in my life.

I'm deferring for a year - emotionally, financially, its the better idea. And I'm moving to Boston in August, then starting PT school next May. It's going to be tough, but its going to work. Why do I bother working myself up so much about these things? Everything works out in the end. And though I'm not a big believer in fate, sometimes I do feel like everything happens for a reason. So I'm going on an adventure!! And I can't wait. :)

Yesterday's workout was awesome. I don't even know if it was that hard, or if it was supposed to be that hard, but it was genuinely fabulous. Maybe it's because I was just in such a good mood anyway, but I felt unstoppable. Minute runs of 6-5-4-3-2-1, with 1 minute rest, theoretically starting at 10K pace and working down to mile pace...well, I was already at sub-7 pace for the 6 minute run, and by the time I got to the 1 minute I was running something like 5:05 mile pace...too bad that's NOT my mile pace...hah. Anyway, I felt great the entire time. Like I was I'm hoping that bodes well for my last indoor race of the season on Saturday.

I have 2 exams on Thursday and studying is not going well, so I should get back to that. But everything is good. It's all good. :)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I wanna dance a tango with chance

I realize I haven't written in awhile and so this is most likely going to be a completely random assortment of thoughts...bear with me. There are lots of random things floating around in my head sooo I guess its about time they were spewed out on paper...or internet, or whatever.

First off, the never-ending Boston debacle. It's really complicated to explain the whole situation but basically its a financial thing and therefore pretty much completely out of my control. Which is the most frustrating thing about it - I am absolutely powerless to do anything about this situation. There's really no point in fighting with my mom about it - there's nothing to fight about, its just facts, there in black and white - she can't give me money that she doesn't have. Simple as that. But at the same time, I just can't accept the fact that I can't do this thing that I want SO badly because of the amount it would cost to move there. And I just can't spend the next 3 years of my life constantly regretting and wishing and wondering how much different and better my life would be if I had just been able to do that one thing. I'm sending in my $200 deposit tomorrow; my spot is saved. And I'm just hoping and praying that I'll actually get to take it. If it were at all reasonable to defer and take a year off, I would do it, but that would mean having to start paying back my undergrad loans, which would basically defeat the purpose of taking a year off to work - I wouldn't be saving anything. So yeah. Things aren't good on that front. I'm pretty much trying to exist with it in the back of my mind and not think about it unless I have to, because it just puts me in a bad mood and makes me feel like curling up in a ball and crying to think that I might not be able to go there.

But onto more exciting things - like running! So I never wrote a Stevens Point race report because I was lazy, but it was a pretty fun and interesting meet. I ended up having to run the 3K first because I was in the slow heat and they were counting on the meet to take forever, so they ran that and the slow heat of the men's 5K at the beginning. My legs felt kind of crappy on my warmup, but I was still excited - I think that's the thing that has made me decide to go LD all the way...because everytime I've raced the mile this season, I've absolutely DREADED it...but the 3K makes me all pumped even though I know its going to suck. I was seeded first in my heat which was really strange and wrong on so many levels...there were a ton of no time girls who I was pretty sure would be faster than me, but I ended up getting out in first and leading for a couple laps - WEIRD FEELING. Obviously I got passed after a bit, but my first lap was 44 and the next 2 were both 46. Then obviously I started to slow down - I was aiming for 48s, but by the mile I was right about where I wanted to be - 6:22. Unfortunately I couldn't hold the pace and I slowed down to 51s for pretty much the entire second half of the race....I was following behind this stupid UMD girl who was running on the inside of the track for like the entire thing which was really bothering me. I think when I race my mind just grabs onto weird things that annoy me - something stupid a girl near me is doing, a piece of paper on the track, the fact that my feet are hot - and just throws them around in a sad attempt to focus on something other than the fact that I'm killing myself slowly via running. But anyway, I don't know where I pulled it out of, but for my kick I rocked out a 40. I passed like 3 people in the last lap, and seriously, I really don't know where it came from...the jets just turned on I guess. I ended up running a 12:12...20 seconds faster than last week and basically 11 seconds faster per mile...yeah, that's a lot. Overall I was really pleased with my race, and I feel like with some more concentrated training I could definitely run under 12...because let's face it, starting out my time with 11 would just look much prettier. :)

Then I ran the mile. Which was a really unfortunate, bad decision. I pretty much knew from the moment I started warming up that things were not going to go well - I'd run an all out 3K, and even though it had been a couple hours I'm obviously not in the kind of shape where I can be doubling like that. And what a disaster it was. I was planning on trying to go out more conservatively (as in, 43 not 40)...well, I went out in 43, and I already felt like I was dying. I don't think I have ever wanted to drop out of a race more than I did from that one. I felt god-awful, everyone was passing me, and I knew that my time was going to completely suck. But there was one thing that kept me from giving up altogether - the Point girl who tripped me at Carthage was in the race. And she passed me. And there was no way in hell I was letting her beat me. Finally, with 2 laps to go I got ahead of her and stayed there, and despite the fact that my kick was a pathetic 43, I managed to pass 2 more people in the last lap. I ended up running a 6:10, and was basically left with an overwhelming feeling of never wanting to run the mile again.

So I didn't race this weekend because I wanted to take the weekend off for the sake of my legs, and of course to spend Valentine's Day with the BF. But of course being me and never being able to turn down racing (and wanting to get a workout in that I knew would be a lazy 5 miles otherwise), I ended up racing the UW Running Club Valentine's Day 5K. I pretty much ran it as a tempo run, my first mile was 7:11 and I actually negative splitted, which is kind of funny since I was just trying to hold pace. I passed a lot of people and only got passed once, ended up finishing in 22:08 and got 14th for women, 61st overall. All in all, not a bad performance considering I pretty much decided I wanted to do it like 20 minutes beforehand. And road races are so nice...I love being an a situation where if I don't feel like killing myself, I don't feel obligated to. :)

Today's long run was amazing. Basically any time I get into double digit mileage on a run I'm left feeling so good about myself that I completely forget how much it sucked while I was doing it. I was a bit hungover from the track club shindig the night before, and so the way out was extremely unpleasant...then on the way back, we were running into a killer headwind, but for some reason I started feeling exponentially better and by the time I got home I felt fantastic. My knees are hurting a little now - I really need to get some new shoes - but it was 12 miles of awesome. We ran up State Street around the capitol where they were having a cyclocross race which was quite entertaining to watch, then down around Lake Monona and onto the bike path past Olin Park. It was a really beautiful, sunny day, even though it was cold. The only sad part of the run was that I lost one of my awesome Nike running gloves! I had taken them off because my hands get ridiculously hot sometimes when I run, and at that point we weren't running into the wind, and I put them in my pockets...sometime about half an hour later, I realized one of them had fallen out. :( Luckily it wasn't the one with my house key in the pocket...that would have been really problematic.

I should stop rambling! There's so much other crap I should be doing right now, but I just get so excited about running that I go on and on. Today a girl in my biomechanics lab group was talking about how she did the Valentine's 5K and it was her first race ever, and she asked me how you build up to running 12 miles...and I seriously just get giddy when I talk about that. Running is truly my passion...whether or not I'm winning races or running fantastic times isn't really relevant to how incredible I feel when I'm cruising along some random path somewhere and feeling like I'm invincible.

I also had a glorious Valentine's Day. The BF and I cooked dinner from the "Intercourses" cookbook my sister got me, and now I understand why these foods are apparently aphrodisiacs. It was possibly one of the best dinners I've ever had. The coup de grace was the main course - seared sea scallops stuffed with this incredible basil puree and asparagus with some really wonderful spicy, crunchy topping. Mouth-gasm? Yes. And of course I'm lucky to be able to spend the day with my favorite person in the entire world. :)

OK, I think I'm finally done for now.

[Final random comment, I'm doing a dance to "Going North" by Missy Higgins for Optima, and its been in my head pretty much constantly over the past week, and I realize that it has nothing to do with running but the lyrics kind of make me think of when you're all along in some sort of beautiful, natural place (like the Arb) running and feeling like everything is perfect and right in the world.]

up where the hunted hide unseen
under the arms of eyeless trees
up where the answers fall like leaves
where your love is all i need
i'm going north

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I strolled alone through a fallout zone

I feel like the last few days have been like watching my dreams crumble. I'm not going into the details right now, because I feel like if I try to explain myself to one more person today my head is going to explode, but suffice it to say, I'm frustrated. I'm frustrated with running and my legs and the fact that I ran a shit, shit, shit mile time on Saturday (and doubling is no excuse for that kind of shit), and even when I kill myself in the 3K I'm still 20th/27, and I'm never going to be able to go to Boston because I don't have the money, but according to my mother things would be fine if I was paying $10,000 more a year for tuition in Chicago, because I could drive there for orientation so it would all be good.

I want more than anything else to be financially independent. All I want is to have the money to just DO THIS. I've spent my entire life in my comfort life, in running, in everything. I'm sick of it. I refuse to sit and wonder what would have happened if I had taken that one chance.

My head just feels like its going to explode right now. I have no idea what I'm doing, I don't know what I should be doing, and I feel like I have no one to help me. My dad says he supports me, which is great and all, except that's really not much use when all my problems are financial and there's nothing he can do about that. I don't think I've ever felt this frustrated, angry, upset...I don't even know. I wish I did. I need to, and I don't have a clue, and I'm on my own.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Again to Carthage

I've run a race at Carthage College 7 years running. It's the place where I won the only race I have ever won: 55 highs and lows at Woodland Conference indoor senior year of high school. It's also the place where I came out of nowhere to place 2nd in 55 lows as a sophomore and fell in finals as a junior. Basically, there are a lot of memories for me in the Tarble Athletic Center, and when it dawned on me that this could be my last time racing there (at least for awhile), it made me a little sad. That said...I think this meet left a lasting seriously had to be one of the most ridiculous days/races ever.

First of all, I accidentally got drunk on Friday night. I promise, I did NOT plan on this. I was thinking I was being all good, drinking a couple beers slowly and drinking water constantly, etc. Well, as it turns out, I had 2 full pints of 10% ABV beer (Ale Asylum Mercy and Bell's Hopslam, which I must say, was absolutely spectacular). Then of course, Andrew and I stayed up talking for like an hour, and in the end I got about 4 or 5 hours of sleep....obviously, a GREAT start to a double race day. Before we even left Madison, we saw a hitchhiker and a man dressed up as the statue of liberty standing on the median of East Wash...clearly, this day was going to be ridiculous.

We arrived in Kenosha around 10, with the meet scheduled to start at 11. I was feeling exhausted and kind of sketchy at that point, but once we started warming up for the mile I started feeling better. We warmed up on this amazing path next to Lake Michigan, and the weather was fantastic - around 35 and sunny. It was so pretty I had to take a picture:
So we got done warming up outside, and just kind of hung around stretching and doing strides and stuff. 6 out of the 7 girls who went to the meet were running the mile, which was kind of ridiculous. Both of the girls in the first heat ran 5:43...pretty awesome. I was in the second heat with 3 other girls from my team...hoping to finish ahead of at least a couple of them, but sadly that was not the case. Once again, I went out in 40 for the first lap which I immediately regretted - my hamstrings started to cramp up terribly and I just couldn't keep pace with the other WTC girls who were starting to pull ahead. By the 5th lap, I was just trying to hang on and keep the girl in front of me in range. Finally, we got to the last lap, and I tried to drag something out of me for a kick. The clock was at 5:15 when I came around and I knew that I was going to be incredibly angry if I didn't run I started to try to pull something together for the last lap. In the meantime, I had gotten right behind this girl ("girl in the red shorts" and was getting ready to pass her, except this other girl from Benedictine was straddling the lane line and I could not for the life of me get around her. Obviously I could have just gone to the outside, but I didn't really feel like running the curve in lane 3, so I was just sitting behind the two getting increasingly irritated. Finally, we got into the final straight and I was so done with this situation - I squeezed in the gap between the two and passed the obnoxious tall girl first, and pulled even with the other girl...who then stopped short of the line and I ended up beating her by a 10th of a second. The thing is, I'm really annoyed that those girls were there...because I found out later that 2 of my teammates finished only a second in front of me...and I feel like if I had been aware that they were there, I would have pushed it harder the last couple of laps. But anyway, I finally ran a sub-6 for the season (5:58) and improved on my season best by 2 seconds again, so I guess I can't complain too much.

So we had some time before the 3K...I watched some other WTCers race the 600, 800, and 1000, then we went to warm up when they started the 200s because there were 20 heats of that or something. I spent way too long trying to figure out what spikes to wear...seriously, I brought every pair of spikes I own to this meet. I didn't want to wear my Asics that I wear for the mile because I figured my shins would hurt, and I didn't have time to clean out my XC spikes, so I ended up wearing a pair of spikeless Nike Zoom Janas that I stole from my sister's closet...I think she wore them once for indoor pole vault or something. They're identical to my XC spikes except spikeless, and they're silver and powder blue and awesome! They didn't feel too good with socks, but I took my socks off and they fit perfectly! In the meantime, we had also decided to enter a 4 x 400...which I was going to be in. Kickass? I think so.

Brittany and I were doing some striders and stuff waiting for the 200s to be done...I went to get some water when all of a sudden Taylor was yelling at me "they're starting!" So yeah....I almost missed my race. I had to sprint across the infield and arrived at the starting line with my heart pounding and completely ideal way to start an almost 2 mile race. But wait, it gets better. The gun went off, and I went through the first lap in about 41 seconds. Everyone was in a pack, but people started to peel off, and by halfway through the second lap I was running with Claire just in front of me, a Stevens Point girl on my ass, and Brittany just behind her. And then, just before the second curve, it happened.

To be completely honest, I couldn't tell you exactly what occurred, but all I know is all of a sudden I felt something catch my back leg, and then I was down. On my knee that was already causing me problems. My guess is that SP girl was riding way too close and caught my leg. It was one of those moments that it takes you a second to figure out what's actually going on, but as soon as I did I was up and sprinting around the curve. I HAD to pass that girl. I got next to her on the curve, and for the first, and probably last time in my life, I threw an elbow. Unnecessary? Maybe. It's not like I hit her, I just made a little contact. I was pissed, and there was nothing else I could think of to do but that. The hilarious thing is some guys who were sitting on the side of the track definitely saw it, and so I heard "oooooh" coming from the sidelines as I passed her and went on my merry way...haha.

Well obviously this put me at a huge disadvantage - Claire was now a solid 15 meters ahead of me, I'd wasted a bunch of energy sprinting around the girl, and my rhythm was totally gone. I was trying to keep track of my splits but I kept forgetting to hit my watch so that was honestly no help whatsoever haha. I was trying to get myself back into some kind of groove. 15 laps is A LONG TIME. I kept pretending I was on the track at the shell...just count to 7 twice, and then kick for the last lap. The last half mile was basically torture - I had nothing left and it was all I could take just to stay on something that resembled my pace. Somewhere around my 2nd last lap, I LAPPED the girl who tripped me (hah), though this does irritate me because there's no reason she should have been riding my ass if I was going to beat her by a MINUTE. I had almost no kick, but I finally finished in 12:32. I wasn't that pleased, since I was really hoping to beat my seed, but I'm also pretty sure that between the sprinting across the gym and the getting tripped and falling, that's at least 15-20 seconds I could take off my time pretty easily. I'm not going to lie - I really, really liked the race. Something about the longer but slightly slower pace seems to be working better for me than the kamikaze death sprint of the I definitely think I'll be running it again. But for the first race in an event - holy crap, it doesn't get much more ridiculous than that.

But let's not forget that I still had to run the 4 x4! And seriously, I love that race. Always have, always will. I think the think I love about it is that I never really care if my team does well, or even if I run that well, its just the adrenaline rush of sprinting all out and it being at the end of the meet with everyone watching. And to make things even more ridiculous...I ran ANCHOR. Hahahaha...that's just silly. I smiled through my whole leg haha...even stuck out my tongue at Jade for a picture. It was pretty fantastic. Our all-distance crew did our best :)

We finally left at around 5 but the fun was just was really windy so apparently all this snow had blown from the surrounding fields to build up to like 4-5 inches on the highway...and apparently so many cars had gone into ditches that the state patrol closed the road! Sooo we had to take a half hour detour through Kenosha to find our way back to the freeway...then I somehow got off of 94 but luckily it didn't end up being a problem...and THEN I got pulled over because one of my headlights was out. Seriously. And the cop thought I was in high school...sad! By the time I finally made it home I basically just wanted to legs were cramped up so badly since we didn't cool down after the 4 x 4, and my shins and knee were killing me. But hey! It was an amazing meet. I love Carthage, and like I said, I'll never forget that track...and it's sort of fitting that I would fall there :P. I mean, I was used to falling in hurdle races, but distance? That's just crazy.

And yet, even though my races weren't great, even though I fell, if there's one thing I'll miss when/if I move to Boston, it will be days like this.