Friday, October 12, 2007

Sound Advice from a Legend

I feel like anyone running marathon within a month of Chicago has taken pause to come up with a contingency plan if the weather doesn't cooperate on our big day. It's smart to do regardless of seeing it actually happen to thousands of people (including the elites) in one of the largest marathon races in the world! Frank Shorter wrote a great little Op-Ed piece that pretty much summarizes a lot my thoughts and discussions with my running buddies since the weekend. I recommend checking it out!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


I have a new freckle! I just discovered it while brushing my teeth in the bathroom at work! How exciting! I thought it was a coffee splash near my necklace, but it won't come off! It's a new freckle!

Record Setting

So as the temperature rose on Saturday, October 6, 2007, so did my half marathon time. i attempted Grete's Great Gallop in Central Park on a 90% humidity day, and I fell apart. I started too fast for the 3rd long distance race in 3 weeks on a morning when the temperature and humidity were record setting for the NYC region. Before the first loop was over I was contemplating not finishing. Then I caught up with my teammate, Caroline, and she helped coax me into running and then walking through the water stations from mile 5 through mile 10. And then I walked until just before mile 12. I did manage to run the last ~1.5 miles at a 9 minute pace and I finished at 2:10 something. I got all choked up as I passed my Hellgate team and Eamonn cheering me on to the finish. Suzanne, my dear friend and team captain, ran me in the last 0.1 miles shouting words of encouragement. I was so embarassed and that was so silly! I know what I have accomplished, and I know what I am capable of, and I know it's ok to have a bad day.

Caroline and I warming up pre-race.

I think I needed to break that 2 hour barrier. As Eamonn said, it's better to have a bad race now than at the marathon. I needed to feel the way I felt on Saturday so I realize the importance of going out at the right pace and possibly adjusting that target pace on race day because of the weather. And it's not the end of the world to still finish a 13.1 mile race at a 10 minute/mile pace. I think as you train for a marathon you think that 13 miles isn't very long when you are constantly facing 15, 16, 18 and 20 miles. However, 13 is a long run. It's nothing to sneeze at. Especially when you do a great paced 18 mile race the week prior!

It's not possible to have a great race every time; you can't PR every race. And this has given me a goal of returning to Grete's Gallop next year and conquering it! I PR'd on the exact same course during the More Half last March. I know I can own that race and that distance. It's too close to the marathon to get down about it. I have to focus on feeling good at doing the 18 miles, nursing my ITB, and keeping healthy for the next 2 weeks and 5 days. Que sera, sera.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Finally Friday!

I'm so happy to have made it through this week! I thought my head was going to explode with rage on Tuesday afternoon and for pretty much all of Wednesday. I've managed to bring it down to a simmer and I don't feel quite as sensitive to an imminent eruption. Work has been incredibly depressing and frustrating over the last month. So frustrating that I actually had the urge to get out of my chair in my drab Cube and go for a intense, fast run with the intention of tiring myself out so as to not have the energy to be stressed out. I was so pent up, I wanted to run!

I couldn't believe it! I wanted to run! I haven't felt that way since pretty much the marathon last year! It felt good to want to and not have to for a change. Unfortunately I couldn't leave The Cube, and I had to return to my exploding universe of dunderheads.
Ahh well, I have managed to survive until Friday. I have decided that since I completed all of my tasks well and kept my poise and played nice despite sitting with matches on a gunpowder keg, I am going to walk out of The Cube for lunch and not return until Monday. I rarely feel a sense of satisfaction at work, but when I get on that elevator in about 10 minutes, I'm going to feel incredibly satisfied.
(San Fran Sept. 07, visiting Eamonn's brother)

Monday, September 24, 2007


Well, I officially posted my worst half marathon time yesterday at the Queens Half out in College Point. The course was hilly with a turn about every 0.1 miles, seriously. But I really liked the course. I had no idea what people were talking about after the race when they were describing this nightmarishly steep hill at mile 8 or the constant "surprise" rise in elevation after yet another bend. I noticed the hills, but they didn’t daunt me. One might then ask themselves why I ran my slowest recorded half marathon if I liked the blasted route so much. The answer comes in 3 little letters: ITB.

I attempted the first of 2 planned 20 mile runs in preparation for the Marine Corps Marathon at the long training run in Central Park. Somewhere along the first loop I started feeling a semi-normal for this training season ache in my right knee. It usually disappears after running a bit or focusing on my stride, but it decided on the start of the second loop (after 6 miles) to morph into a sharp stabbing like pain that jabbed me with every step. I finished the second 5 mile loop and called it quits after consulting my running club's president for some sage advise. I was disappointed and frustrated but deep down I knew I made the right decision to ditch the 20 miles. I ran easy, very easy, iced, stretched, and foam rollered all the following week in preparation for the Queens Half.

I also prepared mentally by telling myself I can and should stop if the pain comes back or it's too achy. I have a larger training goal ahead in the 18 mile Tune-up in Central Park this coming Sunday. I need to do 20 that day! Long story short I prepped myself for a "did-not-finish" or a walk-a-thon ending in a 2 hour plus "race". I may not be that speedy, but I have taken a lot of pride in the strides I've made as a runner in 2 years, in addition to the hard work it is. I've never posted a 2 hour half; my second to worst was ironically the Queens Half last year, in April; I did a 1:55:55. The most frustrating part of it all is that I was faced with doing a 2 hour PLUS all because I've neglected stretching and that nagging ache whilst and after I run.

However, despite stopping at nearly every mile marker to stretch my poor, pathetic leg, I managed to keep a pace of 8:30 to 8:40 per mile, and it was more than comfortable. It took a little bit of stewing to realize that I didn’t “feel” the hills because I stopped so often. I also realized that by the time I made it to mile 10, my mild discomfort had not increased, in fact it had decreased at some points in those miles. In the name of conservatism, however I didn't pick up the pace or stop stretching along the course. Also at mile 10 I realized that I might just make it under 2 hours! Barely. I stopped at 11 for a quick stretch, and when I was cruising through mile 12 a glance at my watch told me that if I stopped now my NYRR record would forever record 2... I kept on chugging and even picked up the pace slightly. I ended up finishing at 1:59:42! And you know what? My ITB survived. And so did my record!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Cheers to Recovery Beers!

Ok, so I've had a tough time this marathon training season finding the motivation to fit in my weekly miles. Getting over the first 3 miles or so of a workout is a gigantic accomplishment these days. But there is one tiny bit of motivation (outside of the fear discussed in my 2nd post) that seems to help me get these exhausting long runs completed: the promise of BEER.
E-man (the boy-toy) and I seem to have fallen into a habit of running ridiculous miles then hopping right into a marathon drinking situation. This may seem like we have a problem, but we don't. Honest! We have had a relatively busy social calendar this summer with parties and bbq's and championship hurling games. But we marked on the calendar our key runs, and we've stuck to them despite these social "obligations". (Life is so tough sometimes!)

The promise of relaxing later on a Saturday afternoon/evening with friends and a frosty brew is HUGE at 6 AM or earlier after a long week of work and running! It's like ripping off a bandaid. There is a lot of fanfare and dancing around mustering up the courage, then yank! And it's over. There might be some residual stinging, but eventually it dulls and you get a lollipop or an ice cream (or at least I did sometimes growing up). So beer is my lollipop.

Actually the relaxtion and laughs could be my lollipop; beer is a bonus. It just so happens, coincindentally, that beer has a lot of good stuff for runners to replenish what they've lost running. OK!?!? I don't have a problem! (Note: Mojitos are also highly motivating!)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Determination Vs. Humidity

This Saturday seven of us from my running club made the trek up to Rockefeller State Park Preserve for our weekly long runs building up to our marathons. Now we knew the forcast was for high humidity and temperatures, but we all needed to get in the miles. Apparently a few of us have this belief that Rockefeller exists in its own isolated climatic environment, therefore all locally televised meteorological predictions are not valid. So as we buckled up laughing, we took off discussing our goals for the day: 2.75 to 3 hours worth of running.

We managed to pull into the packed parking lot just after 7 AM. We climbed out of the cars, hit the porta-potties, and hashed out the general plan of attack. We had different paced runners with us, so we decided to play follow the leader. You kept track of the people just ahead of you and when there was a fork in the trail the person ahead was responsible for checking that the people behind saw which trail was chosen or double back some (therefore continually running) making air traffic control signals until noticed.

Three of us took one short break after an hour back at the parking lot for gatorade/water and then headed out again. By this time you couldn’t find one dry speck of alleged wicking material on my tank top; my hair was drenchedl and I still had 1:45 left to go. UGH. We took back up on the trails. Funny! I was running with 2 runners I admire who happen to not be doing a marathon this fall. They just wanted to run long up in Rockefeller.

We ran into the rest of group in fragments – it seems the follow the leader game fell apart when we turned back for our break. Everyone was doing ok though. We decided that we’d run out for ~45 minutes then head back, so we’d trick ourselves into running 1.5 more hours before having to fight the siren’s call of water, rest, and fresh clothes! In retrospect it was the smartest decision of the day!

With each drip of sweat that fell from my hair, my chin, or my shorts, minutes came off my goal of 2.75 hours of running. I cunningly thought that if I could guide the gal who only wanted to do 2.5 hours back to the car so she won’t get lost, I could do a lap around the lake and be done forcing myself to 2 hours and 40minutes. There was just no way. I was out of water and energy; I really was tired of my sweat streaming off my shorts down the back of my legs. I passed the path to the visiter center like I was gonna make it around the lake but who was i fooling!! I forced myself for another minute, doubled back and ran to the car to make it to exactly 2.5 hours. So I lasted a whole 5 minutes more than my last long run.

We were all determined to get our runs in and done with on Saturday: determination. I found out from my running pal and team captain that the humidity was 10% higher in Tarrytown than in Astoria that day: humidity. No more do I believe that Rockefeller exists in its own perfect running weather world. As determined (and/or insane) as we might have been, we didn't let humidity win. And at the end of the day I know we were all satisfied.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

9 Weeks to GO

So, I'm posting twice on the first day! I figure might as well jump right into the deep end! I'm training for my second marathon - the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington D.C. on October 28th! My amazing boyfriend and 4 of my awesome running club friends are also running it. It has been a tough summer of training. I bit off a sprint triathlon (last Sunday), and I am feeling some pressure of a time to beat! I also have been running consistently for 2 years now, but I'm still learning a ton! Mostly I'm learning how to keep motivated to get out that door and run. (I also am learning that I love swimming!)

A question that hovers in the background for me these last couple months is how do I repeat the fantastic experience that I had during my first marathon last year in NYC? It still makes me gush like a chatty teenage girl! I'll admit I'm scared to have a bad marathon. But I'm getting in my longs runs; it's my weekly mileage that has suffered.

Although I'm slowly gaining confidence in my training as the summer wanes. I guess you just have to put your head down, grit your teeth, and do the runs and have the faith that your plans will prepare you for those 26.2 miles. You know, I believe my Mom would call this a healthy fear. A marathon is an animal that you have to respect. One day an encounter might be full of playfulness, another wariness, and yet another full of anger and fear. But if you know all sides of the beast, you know how to tame it or attack it. That is the beauty of it I guess: the uncertainty of it all.

I'm wearing a suit jacket today.

So today I am wearing a suit jacket to work. I have never done that before. Everyone keeps asking me if this is my "church outfit" or "how did the interview go?". I vowed when I was in college to never wear a suit. Now I am. I decided that I needed achieve another first today; so I decided to finally post for the first time on my blog. This is also something I have never done before.

I do have 3 to 4 drafts saved up for future editing. One has been stewing for over a year I think. I start writing and then the pressure to be witty and set the theme becomes overwhelming and I can't get it all into a succinct and coherent entry. Simply put: I run and I work on tunnels. I like to write and I love to talk. I have lots of dreams (one is to stop working on tunnels) and wishes (one is to win the lottery so I can stop working on tunnels).

And here is when I start to feel like I need to write something profound or amusing or - I don't know! But today is different. I'm just going to post. I have never done that before.