Tuesday, August 18, 2009


While out having a couple drinks with some friends the other night:
"What did you do today?"
"Oh, I ran 18 miles...that's why I'm kind of out of it"
Cue general astonishment and the general "18 miles, I could hardly run 18 feet!" comments.

Yes, I ran 18 miles...but unlike my first 16 miler, this was not all sunshine and rainbows and ponies and runners high fun. This was a struggle, every step of the way, a fight between my mind and my legs who were firmly rooted in the idea that no, we would not be running another step today. I was "lucky" enough to have this run on my schedule on a lovely 82 degree day with 85% humidity. If you know me at all, you know that type of weather pretty much spells doom in my opinion, and from the second I stepped out my door, I was worried. Normally on longer runs, the first few miles feel super easy because I'm running slower than usual, but that was not the case this time. From the outset, my legs felt heavy, and I was hot. I couldn't stop the doubts in my mind, even as I finished the first mile, of "how the HELL am I going to finish this?"

And so I struggled onward. Legs just not feeling into it, sweat dripping all over the place, I'm sure I looked utterly attractive as I trudged along. Through the parkway where I did my first "long" run as a high school XC runner - I remember being proud that I went 6 miles instead of the 5 prescribed for the newbies that day. I kept thinking to myself that my legs were going to shake off the lead one of these miles, surely I couldn't do a full 18 feeling as bad as I was. I was at mile 4.

Into the woods I continued, hardly noticing the wildflowers and random animals nearby. The parkway I was running on is actually fantastic for running, and under any other circumstances I probably would be happy to have found such an oasis from the ugly suburban streets of Tosa...but not today. I felt like I was running in a sauna. As I came out of the parkway, I saw a really sketchy looking van sitting a little ways up the road. I'm not normally one to get really nervous about strange people/things lurking when I run [it would be kind of impossible to run in Madison otherwise] but this road was deserted and it creeped me out. Sooo that meant turning around and running back to where another trail split off, probably adding a quarter mile or so to the run. Whatever...that meant I could skip my lap around the track that would have been coming around mile 16. I trudged onward into the Greenfield golf course...finally, like a mirage...a bubbler! I could have stood there and drank the cold, amazing water all day, but alas. Like 13 more miles to go. Ugh.

Soooo I kept going. I ran into Greenfield Park and began my lap around the outer edge. There was actually a really nice trail through the woods that I enjoyed, and finally I was starting to feel just a tiny bit better. As I turned a corner I suddenly saw a familiar sight - white dashes on the grass...CROSS COUNTRY! I felt a little nostalgic as I decided to run along the course until I got back to my turn around point. Back through the golf course, back to the miracle bubbler, time for my gel! The caffiene and sugar got me feeling a bit better for the next few miles, although a giant hill at about mile 10 almost destroyed me. I had now run through parts of West Allis, Greenfield, and Brookfield, and was heading into my 4th city of the day, Elm Grove. I ran into the park, which was the site of many silly rendezvous with my high school boyfriend, and around the pond they have there...there's a really nice path that goes all the way around - I can't appreciate enough the nice things that parks do for runners/walkers! There was another bubbler which was once again my salvation, and I would have liked to have stopped right there...but oh wait, I still had 6 miles to go.

And those were, hands down, the worst 6 miles of my life. Almost immediately on leaving the park, my legs basically started rejecting the idea of running. Cramps in my calves, my knees starting to hurt...everything was just going haywire as I just attempted to keep moving forward. Frustration...hating my life...why the hell am I doing a marathon...this is the WORST...ohhh why is there a hill here...good thing there aren't any people around to witness this....is this ever going to end? Those were basically my train of thought...with the one underlying thread of - just get it done. Just do it. Just finish.

I trudged up another huge hill towards my former high school - how am I even still running? I had to stop a few times to try to stretch out my legs, but they seemed to pretty much be beyond help at this point. The bubbler inside the school was another glorious, glorious thing...water has never tasted so good in my life. And then I was headed back up the hill..2.5 miles to go...let's do it.

It was a LONG 2.5 miles. When I finally arrived back at my driveway, I felt like I had been severely beaten. I walked into my house, grabbed a water bottle, and lay down on my floor - disgusting as I was, there was nothing else I was really capable of doing at the moment. I really was too tired and sore to even be excited about what I had just accomplished. Pretty much my only thought was: I have to do this, or something similar, for the next 2 months, all leading up to running this + 8.2 miles....WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE???

Run stats: 18.1 miles, 2:32:40 (8:27 pace)
Really, I think the stats make it look a little more successful than it was, since I had to stop a bunch of times for water, stoplights, and just a few general "I'm about to die, if I don't stop in the next 3 seconds my legs just might collapse underneath me" stops. Wimpy, but with the heat they were really the only way I was going to make it through. I am pretty pleased with my average pace when I WAS running though. I swear, I try and try to slow down, but it seems I hover between 815 and 845 no matter what.

So what's next? Well, I am headed up into the Wisconsin wilderness for 5 days with the BF, so all of my running distances will probably be approximate, and I'm taking a "down" week and making my long run ~10 miles, partially just because I feel bad leaving the BF alone, and partially because I don't want to get lost in the woods. Hopefully I'll get in at least a decent tempo or fartlek or something, but we'll see. Week after next is the MMM, so that will be a solid hard 13.1 miles. It's a challenge getting the miles in with all this moving and traveling and business, but I'm trying to get it done.

And for those interested, my weekly training rundown...
Monday - off [though I did swim 2000 meters without stopping, which I'm fairly proud of]
Tuesday - 9 miles easy [733 pace]
Wednesday - 2 miles easy + 8 miles moderate [731 pace]
Thursday - 3.9 miles easy [w/ sister, no watch]
Friday - 6 miles tempo [718 pace] awesome, awesome run!
Saturday - 4 miles easy [cut short by a blister that made it impossible to run without a limp for the second half...thank you blister band-aids for saving the day on Sunday!]
Sunday - 18.1 miles long [827 pace]

Rock the house. I will likely be on a blogging hiatus for the next week or so at least, but I mean, this post is long enough to make up for a few days I think...hopefully I'll be back after the long weekend with tales of running in the north woods and all sorts of other fun stuff!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Well I'm taking my time, I'm just moving on..

Well, I am officially no longer a resident of Madison, WI....how 4 years do fly by. I'm currently living in a ridiculous limbo at my house in Tosa, with all of my crap lying around in boxes...oh the fun. In 2 weeks I'll be hopping in a UHaul with the BF and shipping off to Boston...how insane. So anyway, yesterday was a day full of walking up and down stairs carrying heavy boxes, hauling furniture around, and climbing in and out of a truck about 1000 times. Talk about a good workout...my quads HURT today! I really wasn't planning on going running after all that, but when I got home I was incredibly surprised to find that my sister [not a runner, not one bit] wanted to go on a 4 mile run with me...how fun! We probably averaged about 8:30 or 9:00 pace, and she told me about all her boy drama from the summer. It was great to give my legs a bit of a break and I was just so excited that she wanted to run, I couldn't have cared less how fast we were going!

My last night in Madison was just another example of how much I love the WTC. What more perfect way could there be to say goodbye to a city than hanging out at the terrace with a few good friends? Nicole got me a cake which was so sweet, and we enjoyed plenty of Wisconsin beer and running stories and overall good times. My friend Ben basically tackled me before leaving which cracked me up, and it was just an incredibly wonderful, fun time. After the terrace, the 21+ crowd in the group headed to State Street Brats, one of my favorite bars and perhaps the most quintessentially "Wisconsin" - brats, Wisconsin beer, cheese curds, cows, Bucky Badger everywhere...etc. We grabbed a drink and after hanging out for awhile, were about to leave when suddenly, I heard the familiar opening strains of a certain song...


If you know me at all, you know that this Journey classic is one of my favorite songs in all the world. It's pumped me up for races, nights out, and everything in between, but most important to the scenario on this night was that it is MY song, the song that will forever be connected with my college life in Madison, being randomly played at my favorite bar on my last night in Madison. Could there be anything more fitting and perfect? At that moment I was torn between laughing and crying, so I picked a better alternative - singing. Oh, I sang that song with all my might...and it was glorious.

It was pretty hard saying goodbye to Nicole - even though I'll probably see her in 2 weeks when I'm up for the Madison Mini Marathon. She has been one of my best friends throughout all of college, from the day we met at the Med Scholars picnic, to suriviving Math 221 together, to telling her about track club and our days as hurdlers/sprinters, all the way up until both of our conversions to the church of distance running. We've had endless discussions about our [ok...MY] random hookups, track boys we liked [culminating in her ending up in a relationship with one!], school, life, and everything in between. Over hurdle practices and endless runs through the arb we became really good friends [had I not bailed out on Med Scholars, we would have been sharing an apartment and going to med school together right now], and she's one of the people that I definitely want to keep in touch with beyond college. So it was a bit sad to realize that who knows when we'll see eachother again, but at the same time I'm confident that we'll stay friends.

OK, enough nostalgia for now. My 10 mile progression dealio ended up being kind of a fail, thanks mostly to the fact that I haven't run in 85 degrees and sunny for awhile - UGH! My initial attempt turned into a pretty pathetic 2 miles as I realized that I was starving and this run wasn't happening without food. A few hours and some Panera Bread later, I took my expectations down to 8 miles, with the goal of pushing myself a bit. The result was a pretty respectable 7:31 pace - so failure on progression, but success on overall pace I guess. It was really hot and I struggled quite a bit, having to stop for water a few times and feeling like I was overheating, but I made it somehow. My legs just didn't feel speedy, they felt kind of dead. I'm trying to ease off the next couple of days so hopefully that feeling doesn't present itself during my 18-miler on Sunday...oh dear sweet lord.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

All that you can't leave behind

Well it's been awhile again since I last posted...life has been relatively crazy with attempting to work, train, and get ready to move all at the same time. By far the worst part of that equation is moving - UGH what a pain. On Saturday (before the BF moved out) the two of us plus our other (cool) roommate spent the day making the kitchen, stairway, and bathrooms look cleaner than they were when we got here...and seriously, we succeeded! Buuuut problem with that is, now we have no shower curtains, not to mention I don't want to take a shower in the tub that I spend 2 hours cleaning...and all of my cooking stuff is packed away. So I've been living off microwave meals and showering at the SERF (campus rec center)...aka I am not a happy camper at the moment. Plus I am alone in my house, with random crap lying around from my other 3 roommates who seem to have moved out but left half of their stuff sitting in our living room and haven't cleaned anything...but wait! That's not what this blog is about! It's about running...so let's talk running. :)

Besides all the other stuff, this past week has not been the greatest on the running front. My one "quality" workout day turned out to be not-so-quality due to a late lunch that caused some major stomach issues on the tempo portion of my run [aka, nearly puking on the side of the bike path...lovely!] Afterward I was feeling better enough do do some circuits with one of my WTC buddies, which also turned out to be an awful idea as I was ungodly sore for 3 days afterwards and ended up taking an extra day off as a result - FAIL! None of the other runs from this week were particularly notable with the exception of my long run - another 16+ miler, and while this one was a bit slower, it was a morning run [ugh] and I may or may not have stayed out a bit too late the night before. Also, it poured the ENTIRE time which I wasn't excited about at the outset but turned out to be pretty fabulous. Running with my friend Claire for 12 of the 16 miles was great...it was such a nice change from just being lonely! Highlights of the run included being forced to climb under a fence to get to the trails we wanted to run on because they had been blocked off for a beer festival, and people trying to ID us as we just wanted to use the bubbler. Yes, sir, we are trying to break into a beer festival 3 hours before it starts wearing sports bras and shorts and soaking wet...obviously!

So anyway, here's the rundown of the week...not great, but whatever. We move on.
Monday: off (planned)
Tuesday: total miles was 7.65 with a 30 minute tempo run in the middle [giant fail thanks to my stomach. I was maybe rocking 7:30 pace during the tempo? So not good.]
Wednesday: 6.7 easy (7:25 pace. I don't really know if that's right though..) [oh yeah, I totally forgot I ended up cutting this run short too. Apparently I hadn't eaten enough on Tuesday or Wednesday because I felt dizzy and like my legs were shaking underneath me by mile 2. Unfortunately I didn't realize how much this would eff up my day until I was beyond the turning back point, but luckily there was a cutoff I could make to shorten the run at least by a mile or so. Still, a pretty worthless run.]
Thursday: off (unplanned = FAIL}
Friday: easy 8.5 (7:36 pace) [finally, a non suck-fest! I was planning on doubling this day but ended up doing all my miles at once because it was raining and I like rain :)]
Saturday: 16.6 long (8:23 pace) [marathon goal pace, hello!]
Sunday: 6.3 easy (7:38 pace)
Total miles: 45.7
Days off: 2 (FAIL)
Suckfests: 2 (Tues/Wed combo platter)

So the plan for this week, especially since last week kind of failed, is that its going to be a HARD week. I'm going up north with the BF next weekend and running a half marathon the weekend after that, so long runs are going to get a little sketchy with how long they actually are. This is fine, since I'm still plenty of ways out from marathon day, but nevertheless I want to put my miles in when I can. Yesterday was my day off of running, but I decided to take to the pool and swim a mile...which turned into a mile and a quarter because I was feeling that good...without stopping! I really, really enjoy swimming. It's such a nice change, especially when its hot out, to just be in the water, and I feel badass when I just keep going and going and going as people around me keep stopping for breaks. Thanks, distance runner's cardiac system!

Today I did a 9 miler which was kind of rough, due, AGAIN, to stomach problems...seriously, my tummy is soooo finicky about what it will accept before a run. Any other time, no problem, but if I'm going to be running around its going to eff me up if what I ate wasn't fantastic. So today was also my last day at my job, and my managers got a cake for me [which was one of about 7 different things that almost started me bawling]...pretty sure the massive dose of frosting, combined with my crappy Bowl Appetit lunch, wasn't sitting so well. But anyway. As if it hadn't been an emotional enough day, I came to realize that this was most likely going to be my last run through the Arboretum. For those who've never been to Madison, the UW Arboretum is a gorgeous, gorgeous place with tons of trails and a 10K loop that goes through it that is extremely popular with runners and cyclists. The first time I ever ran this loop, I was about to be a college sophomore, and my freshman year housefellow was a runner and invited me to come run it with him. At the time, I was not all about distance running - 5 or 6 miles seemed like a long run to me - and so this 7.5 mile epic journey was just ridiculous in my eyes. I can't even count the number of times I've run through it since then...long runs, summer runs with Nicole, lonely runs when I just needed to think or get over a bad race...anyway. Sentimental value lies on that road for me, to say the least. As I ran I found myself thinking about all this, and suddenly 'Baba O Riley' came on my ipod and I had to fight to keep myself from just crying, again! Well then I started to hyperventilate and needed to stop and it was just absurd. But I really don't care...it's another one of those things that "normal" people just don't understand. The memories, and the sweat and tears and rubber worn down from your training shoes that lies on these trails that we come to know as runners are hard to leave...especially when its in a place as beautiful as this.

I really suck at putting pictures up on here...oh well!

So yes - hard week this week. My plan for tomorrow is to do 10 miles with the first 2 at goal marathon pace (8:20), next 2 at HM pace (~7:45-7:50), next 2 at 10K pace (~7:20-7:30), then back to HM, and finally marathon again. Sounds like a fun little progression-ish run...I kind of made it up but it sounds good to me. I don't have much of a solid plan for the rest of the week other than that I think I'm going to attempt 17 or 18 miles when I get home, just because I know I won't be able to do much longer than 10-13 over the next couple of weeks and I want to get a really solid long run done before that. Soooo we'll see how that goes! I'll probably get lost...I haven't run in Tosa in like 2 years...ooh well!

OK, well I really think this post is long enough now...maybe if I would post more than once a week, this wouldn't be such a problem!

Monday, August 03, 2009

Into another dimension

Oh boy...

5Ks on the track, triathlons, and now marathons - 2009 certainly is a year of me pushing the boundaries and seeing what I can do. So here it goes - there were only 79 spots left, and if it was going to happen, it was going to happen now. I am officially registered for the Baystate Marathon on October 19, 2009. I'm scared as hell, but I ran 16 miles yesterday and it was absolutely incredible, so I think - no, I KNOW - that in 11 weeks I will be ready to toe that marathon line.

But first, the tale of my first 16 miler, longest run ever, etc, etc, etc, as told through the songs I was listening to during it...I made a sweet long run playlist and was absolutely loving it the entire time...so enjoy my ridiculous and random music selections. :)

Dimension - Wolfmother
After an incredibly hectic shift at work complete with a dog stealing my bagel out of my bag and wolfing it down in 2 bites (so much for a pre-run snack!) and getting off late, I finally headed out with one thought in mind - SLOW AND EASY. The first mile was around 8:45 pace - exactly what I was going for. Sweet.
Drumming - Florence And The Machine
Caves - Jack's Mannequin
Prince - Vanessa Carlton
Somewhere around mile 3, a nice downhill. "Willing and able to run, I am..." Yes indeed, yes I am. Only a half marathon to go, no sweat, right?
The Internet Is For Porn - Avenue Q Soundtrack
The Climb - Miley Cyrus
(shhh...you can't deny its inspirational...)
In The Summertime - Mungo Jerry
Headed onto the bike path, feeling a bit of fatigue already since I had been running around after dogs all day, but this song put me in a good mood and since it has a little slower, but bouncy beat, made me concentrate on noooot speeding up.
What Would Brian Boitano Do? - South Park Movie Soundtrack
Oh, hell. How can you not speed up when listening to this song?
Transatlanticism - Death Cab For Cutie
Slowing things down a bit, and it's an 8 minute song...so practically a mile had gone by by the time it was over! Nice.
I Am Free - Newsboys
"I am free to run..." I'm not really religious but this song has a fantastic beat and you can't beat those lyrics!
Laughing With - Regina Spektor
(Just Like We) Breakdown - Hot Chip
Starting into the Arboretum. I love this song to run to, the beat is perfect, its kind of weird, and you get into a good groove.
Baba O'Riley
Annnnd cue speeding up again. Duh.
Untouched - The Veronicas
Around 7 miles, still feeling awesome. This is going to be no sweat!
Purpose - Avenue Q Soundtrack
Swim - Jack's Mannequin
My absolute favorite pump up/running/inspirational song. If you've never heard it...do. It's incredible.
Blues Run The Game - Counting Crows
Doctor Jones - Aqua
Coming out of the Arb, around mile 8.5ish...still feeling great, and yeah. It's Aqua. Don't even worry about it.
Here It Goes Again - OK Go
Absolute - The Fray
If You Were Gay - Avenue Q Soundtrack
Avenue Q really brings some much needed humor into my runs...and I was getting really excited for...
Take Me On The Floor - The Veronicas
9.75 miles, I arrived at the beach with a bubbler. I was really excited for a bunch of reasons - WATER, I got to take my gel (and get my gel out of my sports bra, where it had been driving me nuts for the past hour and 20 minutes), and I love this song! Oh, and only a little more than 6 miles left..that's nothing, right?
Death And All His Friends - Coldplay
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner - Iron Maiden
I really kind of can't believe this song exists, but it does and its completely awesome.
I Know You Want Me - Pitbull
On the bike path by Lake Monona, headed towards the Capitol...finally headed home! I also saw a houseboat on the lake that literally looked like someone had put their sun porch on a raft and thrown it into the lake...hilarious.
Peace Of Mind - Boston
Mount Gagazet - Final Fantasy X Soundtrack
This is so embarassing and I don't even care. It's the most calming song I can think of, and you can thank the BF for why I know it exists :P
Nom Nom Nom Nom Nom Nom Nom - Parry Gripp
This one just makes me laugh, I had to put it on the mix. Here it is if you've never heard it...

Ease On Down The Road - The Wiz Soundtrack
Usually this is the song that picks me up when I feel like I'm about to die, but on this run, I was still feeling amazing...what the hell is going on??
On The Radio - Regina Spektor
Headlock - Imogen Heap
Unsung - Vanessa Carlton
Still Fighting It - Ben Folds
How Far We've Come - Matchbox 20
At this point, I had about a mile to go, and if anything, I was picking it up. I still felt incredible and I think, at this moment, I felt the fabled "runner's high" for the first time in my life. I was honestly grinning as I cruised down the bike path towards home.
Konstantine - Something Corporate
The perfect song to bring me home :)

16.25 miles - 2:12:59 (8:12 pace) :) :)

And now, because this post isn't long or boring enough, I'll just add on my week in review. 55.4 miles...a new weekly PR by over 5 miles!!
Monday: off
Tuesday: Yasso 800s @ 3:20-3:40 with about 3:40 recovery...total miles ended up at 9.7
Wednesday: 6.25 easy (7:49 pace)
Thursday: 8:15 easy w/ last 10 minutes hard (7:29 pace) This run really sucked, a lot, but I made it through somehow.
Friday: 10.9 easy (7:53 pace) Found some bike trails I'd never been on before!
Saturday: 4.2 easy (no watch) Felt soooo good to do a short run
Sunday: 16.25 long (8:12 pace) YAY!!
Total miles: 55.4
Days off: 1
Suckfests: 1 (there's always one....)

This is really quite a big step for me in my training. I really never expected to be able to do 2, almost 3, double digit runs in a week, but I didn't really feel like my legs felt any worse for the wear. I really think as long as I take 1 day off a week, I can handle relatively high mileage. I think pretty much things are going to stay pretty similar to this schedule for the next 10 weeks with the only real increase being at the long run, which I really want to get up to 22 miles before the marathon. It's going to be interesting working things out with moving twice in the next month and all, but I think as long as I make absolutely sure to get in my long runs, if I lose a few miles here and there it won't be the end of the world.

So, here it goes! I'm officially going to do the 26.2. I'm nervous...but man, am I excited. :)

Sunday, August 02, 2009

July Rundown

I'm really, really proud of this month - its by far the furthest I've run in a month in summer (hell, it's probably pretty close to the furthest total distance I've run in a summer, period...) and one of my higher months this year, even counting during track and XC season. Granted, this makes me a little sad that I'm not going to have a cross season to see what actually building an awesome summer base would get me...but I guess that's the way it goes.

July 2009
Total miles: 195.7
Days off: 6
Longest run: 13.7 miles

Woo hoo! That's a damn good month for me. Tonight I'm running 16 miles, and I'm really scared about it...but if I successfully make it through this run, I'll have given myself permission to sign up for the marathon...