Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Pool Thoughts

I hit the pool again this morning because now in addition to the pain in my butt, my foot decided to start hurting last night.

Let's not talk about that anymore.

I reported in my last swimming-related entry that swim helps me focus, but this morning I realized that I might be wrong about that. It is true that when doing my laps, there are considerably fewer random thoughts zipping through my brain. Instead of the barrage of 438502 topics that I visit during a run, I seem to settle in and focus on three things when I'm swimming laps

  1. Look straight at the bottom of the pool, Kathryn, or your neck is going to hurt.
  2. I really hope that all the body hair on these men who are sharing the pool with me has better staying power than my Italian Husband's. Oh who am I kidding... I'm sure I'm swallowing 584520 hairs right now and that really grosses me out. Ugh. So disgusting. I feel sick.
  3. What lap am I on again?

Always these same three, every time.

The more I focus on #1, the more my neck hurts. 

The more I focus on #2, the more I feel like vomiting.

The more I focus on #3, the sooner I seem to finish (weird, right?).

I'm not sure which is preferable - the 438502 topics that come and go in 5 seconds or 3 topics on repeat.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Richmond Marathon Training Take 2 - Week 3

This past week we Central Virginians got seriously spoiled by some beautiful (and atypical) June weather. Low to mid-80s, low humidity and sunshine for the second half of the week. If only it could stay like that for the rest of the training cycle...

3 runs for 19 miles (is this really  marathon training??)
11.5 miles on the bike
1000 yards swimming

Running miles logged so far: 52

Training highlights:

  • An absolutely beautiful 5 mile tempo run on Wednesday morning with a group of fellow Navy team members. It was nice to be joined by Greg, Lauren, and Sarah and I hope the group continues to grow.
  • Another MTT training run spent in the top pace group. We have nicknamed ourselves the "Navy Flyers". We were supposed to aim for an average pace of 8:50 but ended up more like 8:35. I know that long runs are supposed to be slower, but I reaaaaallllllllly wanna sub-4 this marathon, so I figure if I push myself to maintain 9:00 or under during MTT runs and then go even faster for tempos and speed training, I'll have a better shot.
  • Returning to the pool on Thursday was a nice change from the stationary bike. I see more pool time in my future. 

Training lowlights:

  • Getting rained out on Monday morning and being forced to run on the treadmill
  • A persistent pain in my butt. You can look forward to a longer entry on that later.
Unfortunately that nice, non-humid weather has gone out the window and more typical (read: disgusting and uncomfortable) Richmond summer weather has moved in. It is so steamy right now that just the walk in from the parking lot to my office makes me sweat.

It's the kind of weather that is nasty no matter how early you get up to run in it. Therefore, I'm not looking forward to any of my training runs this week and I am extremely thankful that the MTT run is a drop back week and only 7 miles.

Also pretty sure that I have been valiantly fighting off a summer cold for the past 4 days. I know lots of folks who have been struck down by it. I'm really hoping I can activate the superior immune system and kick it because once it goes full-fledged, it's not pretty and tends to be hanging around people for a long time. 

So... onwards with training week 4; hoping that my butt, immune system, and Richmond weather don't bog me down too much. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Richmond Rave: Garnett's Cafe

What follows is going to be one big long love letter to my most favorite Happy Hour spot in Richmond - Garnett's Cafe. Ever since my first trip there, I have been meaning to write a Richmond Rave about Garnett's, but for some reason it just never happens. I've been collecting photos with each successive visit and have finally decided that it is high time that I sit down and tell you all just how much I adore this place.

Garnett's is nestled in the Fan on the corner of Park and Meadow. It's a tiny tiny place that makes me think of my grandmother's kitchen, circa 1950. There's a Kit Cat Klock on the wall along with mish-mash collection of prints and photos; colored glass vases catch the light from the windows; the well loved dishes might be chipped; and your menu is likely to have battle scars. 

It all adds up to a retro, kitsch, pleasantly scruffy, cozy atmosphere. 

I was first introduced to Garnett's as a good Happy Hour spot. Every week day they offer $3 happy hour snacks and glasses of wine until 6:00 pm (I think... could be 6:30...). And on that snack list is my most favorite food item in all of Richmond: Devils on Horseback.

What, exactly, is a Devil on Horseback? All that you really need to know is that they would be more accurately be referred to as Heaven on a Toothpick and are also known as bacon wrapped dates stuffed with gorgonzola cheese. Here, let me show you:

Just the fact that I got to make a collage of these
babies has made my day.
I know, I know. It sounds a bit weird. Maybe even scary. Before I had DoH, I had never even consumed a date. And truth be told, I am not one of those bacon-obsessed people who has to eat bacon wrapped things if they are available on a menu. But the combination of the sweetness of the date plus the savory, salty bacon and the sharp, pungent gorgonzola is just perfection. 

Marcey and I have been known to order a second plate of these. At $3, it is nearly impossible to resist. 

But it's not ALL about the DoH. The other $3 Happy Hour snacks are delightful as well.

I love how worn this card is
My second-favorite item is the White Bean Spread Crostini

The $3 glass of wine isn't just some sub-par house red or white either; I've had excellent Riesling, Pinot Noir, and a Viognier. Bonus that they are served in these adorable stemless RVA wine glasses.

On one Happy Hour date with my Work Wife, we each had 2 glasses of wine and split 3 appetizers. We walked away full and happy for the total price of $15 each including a 20% tip.  It simply can't be beat. 

Beyond the excellent Happy Hour specials, Garnett's menu offers a huge variety of sandwiches, a handful of salads with unusual but delicious dressings, and a unique sampling of side items. Sandwiches are conventional with a twist: Roast Beef with gorgonzola, for instance; or the Grilled Cheese made with gouda and gruyere. Some other beauties include:

Turkey and Bacon
 {with lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, and garlic aioli}

{roasted garlic white bean spread with lettuce and tomato}

From the special VCU Basketball 2013 Seniors-themed menu:
The #10
{bacon, hard boiled egg, green tomato relish, lettuce, and avocado}
{sliced cold meatloaf, lettuce, and tomato on ciabatta,
choice of garlic aioli or gorgonzola cheese}
My favorite side is the black-eyed pea salad. Until I went to Garnett's, I had never really eaten black-eyed peas before, but I find that this "salad" is a perfect light accompaniment to the hearty sandwiches.

Like many Richmond restaurants, Garnett's offers a slew of vegetarian options and any of their sandwiches can be made with Gluten-free bread, making it a good choice if you have a group of folks with a variety of dietary styles. It's extremely reasonable prices (at $9.75, the Big Daddy sandwich is the most expensive thing on the menu) also keep it accessible to just about anyone. 

For a no-fuss, no-frills, casual, down-home with a twist kind of meal, take yourself right on over to this gem. And even if you think you don't like dates, get the Devils on Horseback anyway. You'll love them... and if you don't, at $3, they will at least have been a cheap adventure. 

The lowdown:

  • Parking is on the street and not metered, so bring your parallel parking skills. I always find something on Park (punny!).
  • It is a tiny place, but I've never had trouble getting a table. Then again, I'm always there extremely early and by the time I leave all of the seats are filled. So if you aren't an early bird like me, you might be out of luck.
  • Their Happy Hour is the best deal in Richmond.
  • They also offer a $30 Date Night Deal every night from 6-9 pm: any two menu items and a bottle of Virginia wine. Not a bad deal, though I have never partaken of it myself. 
  • If you're looking for a fancy, sleek atmosphere, this isn't your spot. This is casual with no frills - in a good way. You'll feel just like you're sitting at your kitchen table, except someone else does all the work.  
  • Service is fast and attentive without being annoying or overbearing. 
  • Devils on Horseback. That is all.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Back In

This morning, after more than 3 months (!) away from swimming, I jumped back in.

If I thought that dragging myself out of bed early to go downtown for a run was difficult, it was much worse when all I had to look forward to was laps in the pool. The staggeringly beautiful weather wasn't much help either - as soon as I stepped outside, all I wanted to do was go back into the house and trade my Speedo for my running clothes. It was really the first time I was really unhappy about the fact that I don't have that kind of freedom anymore when it comes to my running life. 

[dear self: suck it up and stop whining]

Anyway, the first 200 yards or so were very hard. My arms ached and I was breathing hard in between laps. In my mind, I scolded myself: "This is what you get when you decide to drop out for months, you dummy." Instead of concentrating on how exhausting it was to be in the water, I started to try to list all the reasons why I like swimming. This task turned out to be a good distraction, as it took some real thought for me to continue to come up with positives about this activity that I love to hate.

The burning in my arms reminded me that since I have abandoned yoga, swimming is the pretty much the only thing that stands between me and the dreaded chicken wing arm flab. 

Being in the pool makes me feel like a kid again, even if I am just swimming laps. When I was a kid, I spent nearly every day of the summer (if it wasn't raining) at the pool with my brother and my best friend Abby. Like every other grade-school girl in the early 90's, we were obsessed with The Little Mermaid and spent hours pretending we were mermaids. This mainly consisted of seeing how many lap we could swim underwater, competing against each other in grabbing weighted rings and stars from the bottom of the pool, and torturing my brother by making him be the "crab" and try to catch us. That game always ended badly, as my brother is 4 years younger and wasn't ever able to catch both of us. But even to this day, when I hit the pool a small part of me wishes I was Ariel. 

When I'm swimming, I don't sweat. Or if I am, at least I can't tell. Seeing as how I really hate the feeling of being drenched in sweat, this is a definite win.

Gliding through the water gives my prone-to-breakage-stupidly-delicate bones a chance to rest while still torching calories and getting a good workout.

Having to count laps really forces me to focus on one thing. These days, my attention span is so disgustingly short that I can't even write a full sentence in this blog without getting distracted. At the pool, I count a "lap" as one 25 foot/meter length and swim 5 sets of 8, alternating between freestyle and breast stroke. That is a lot of counting and it's easy to lose track if I let my mind wander.

Most of all, I like swimming because it saved me from insanity and kept me strong when I wasn't able to run. Now it is going to get me through marathon season and get me to the finish in November. 

So thanks, swimming!

(But really, you are still a distant second to running. Mainly because I still smell like chlorine even after scrubbing vigorously in the shower. Oh, and the swim cap. I thought hydration belts were dorky but the swim cap really takes the cake. No one - and I repeat - NO ONE can look good in a swim cap. Forget good... no one can even look passable in one of those things.)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Runner Confession: Mornings

Running and mornings, mornings and running.

These two things go together like peas and carrots, Forrest and Jenny, Tom and Jerry, peanut butter and jelly, rum and Coke.

Image Source
Have I mentioned that I love Forrest Gump?
(and that I loved it way before I was a runner)
But not for me.

Despite years of runner friends, Runner's World, and countless other sources telling me that running in the morning is the norm and often a better idea than going out in the evening, I have resisted. It just hasn't been convenient for me for three main reasons:

One: Running in my neighborhood is not really pleasant. I prefer to go to downtown Richmond and run. This means that in order to run in the morning, I have to wake up earlier than I already do, drive 40 min to downtown Richmond, run, then take a shower at the Y (yuck!), then go to work.

Two: I'm just not a morning person and never have been. I love to sleep. A lot.

Three: The few times that I have gone out in the morning (non-race), I have found that my run experience is just better in the afternoon. It is the same for my swimming... when I tried to swim very early in the a.m. it seemed 500 times harder than when I swam in the late morning.

Yes, I know that running in the morning would be cooler during the summer.

Yes, I realize that 99% of my races take place at the crack of dawn (how could I forget? Just ask anyone... early race starts are the source of a lot of whining from me) and that training in the morning would help my body get used to being asked to run X miles just after waking up.

Yes, it can be more difficult to plan fueling for long runs.

Yes, I get home really late when the mileage starts to creep up during training season.

But it has just been way easier and more attractive for me to hit the streets right after work. That, and I am a creature of habit. The prospect of changing my normal routine sends my brain into overdrive, even when it is something as simple as running at 7 am instead of at 5 pm.

For three years, nothing changed my mind about my evening running. Not even the searing heat and humidity of a Central Virginia summer convinced me last year. If it was completely unbearable, I'd just run on the treadmill or indoor track at the Y, which at the time were perfectly acceptable alternatives.

Now, the treadmill bores me to tears and the indoor track is off limits - I'll never forget the "Oh my God you've got to be joking" look on Steve's face when I asked him if running on an indoor track would be a good alternative to pavement after breaking my foot. (His answer was a resounding DO NOT EVER RUN ON THE INDOOR TRACK AGAIN.)

So when faced with the choice between running in 90+ degree heat accompanied by massive amounts of humidity or waking up 30 minutes earlier than usual and using the dreaded YMCA showers, I have been surprisingly going with the latter option.

I have been running in the morning (!).

The first time I forced myself out of bed at 5:45 am and made the trek to downtown to run 5 miles, I was rewarded with a $60 parking ticket for not paying attention to weekday parking restrictions. An ominous start to my attempt at becoming a morning runner, for sure.

But since then, I have slowly but surely gotten used to my new routine and am actually starting to prefer it. Right now, my weekday runs are 5 miles or less, so if I get up at 5:45 am and leave the house by 6:15, I'm at the Y by 7:00 am and have plenty of time to run my 5 miler, take my shower, and get to work by 9 am. 5:45 am isn't so bad... it is really only 20 minutes earlier than I had been getting up anyway.

Some other plusses and minuses:

+ I really like walking out of the Y at 8:30 am having already completed my work out for the day.

- It's challenging to remember all of things I need to get ready for the work day (work clothes, shoes, jewelry, toiletries, make up, brush, hairdryer, etc etc etc!). I almost always forget at least one important thing... so far the worst was when I forgot my hairbrush. Let me tell you how gorgeous my hair looked that day.

- I am a news junkie so I do miss watching my morning news show while eating my frosted mini wheats (I miss them too!).

+ It's very satisfying to know that during the time I used to sit on my butt watching CBS This Morning, I've instead run 5 miles.

+ I've gotten into the habit of rewarding myself with a coffee from Lift, which just so happens to kinda sorta be on my way to the office.

- Rewarding myself with a coffee from Lift is not so good for my wallet.

+ I like having my evening free for Happy Hour or to just get home in time to make dinner (giving Husband a break from dinner duty).

- I miss not having to wear flip flops in the shower. Doing so takes me right back to my college days and it is not a memory a care to invoke.

- Sometimes the work day, particularly the afternoon, seems to drag on forever if I run in the morning.

+ Even though it's often still a sweaty work out, obviously the mornings are not nearly as hot as the evenings and I think that I might sweat at least a little bit less.

- I haven't been able to convince Prabir that waking up before 8 am to run is a good idea.

+ Greg (and others!) can join me, so I still have company.

Even though I still do hate early mornings, it appears that adding a run has improved them for me. I guess I really shouldn't be that surprised... I can't think of anything that hasn't become more fun once a run has been put into the mix!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Richmond Marathon Training Take 2 - Week 2

It's Monday and I was forced to abandon my outdoor training run for the treadmill thanks to rain, so I'm not in the mood to come up with a chirpy introduction. 

3 runs for 18 miles
21 miles on the bike (those 11's are actually 10.5 each... Daily Mile is silly and rounds everything up)

Running miles logged so far: 33

Training highlights:

  • Finally meeting thatguywiththebeard in real life and running a 5 miler with him in Virginia Beach on Wednesday, ending with a jump into the pool to cool down.
  • Perfect weather for this week's MTT group run and being (wo)man enough to hang with the fastest pace group of our team. When we subdivided out into the smaller pace groups, I immediately noticed that it was 7 dudes and only myself and one other chick who self-selected into the sub-9:00 group. What's up with that?
  • Successfully convinced RunJillyBean to join Team Navy. Woo hoo!

Training lowlights:

  • None!

Right now it's looking like another awesome weather day for our Saturday MTT run, so I'm really looking forward to that. 

My hand is pretty much 100% healed now, so I might hit the mat for some hatha yoga on Thursday too. 

AND I'm super excited to give my new Oiselle Distance Shorts a test run! I've been eyeing them for months (literally) and finally bit the bullet last week, ordering up a pair in the "poppy" color. Based on my preliminary try on at home, I have a feeling I may soon have an Oiselle Monster to feed (much to the chagrin of the Lululemon Monster).

Thursday, June 13, 2013

I Need a Pool

Yesterday, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting up with thatguywiththebeard (aka Greg - yes, yet another "Greg' in my life - I'm up to 4 now) for a less-than-pleasurable run. Not because of the company, mind you, but because of the searing heat and humidity that we experienced during our five mile slog in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

My cousins rented a beach house for a week and invited me to come on down, so I took off work yesterday and reached out to Greg, knowing that he lives in the VA Beach area. I've been a follower of his blog for a while and didn't want to miss the chance to get to meet up "in real life." Luckily, we were able to plan an afternoon run.

I felt especially priviledged to get the opportunity to run with Greg, who usually prefers to go it alone. To be fair, he probably had no idea what he was getting himself into when he agreed to meet me for a 5 miler. I'm a pretty big chatterbox when I'm out for a run, which is odd because in the other arenas of my life I am decidedly a silent type. If he had known about my non-stop talking habit, he might have opted to remain elusive. But he took me in stride (sorry, couldn't help it) and despite the incredibly hot and muggy weather, we had a good time. As many-a-runner has said countless times before me, you never regret a run.

It felt worse than it looks, I promise.

I'm sure we made quite a sight as we chugged along the two lane beach road - super tall, lanky Greg and super short Kathryn - both dripping with sweat and red faced (at least I know I was red faced). Two people who, if I had passed by them, would've certainly made me think to myself, "Man, runners are crazy."

But I guess part of the fun of running is meeting other people who are just as "crazy" as you are.

During the last mile and a half or so, even I wasn't chatting anymore. You know it's a hard run when I shut up. After what seemed like an eternity, the beach house came into view. I said, "I don't know about you, but I'm jumping directly into the pool."

Which is exactly what I did (after removing my Garmin, shoes, and socks). It was far and away the best post-run activity I've ever engaged in. I felt like complete sh*t as I approached the pool but as soon as I hit the water, I felt 100% fine. I wish all of my runs ended with a plunge into a pool.

I think Greg agreed.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Richmond Marathon Training Take 2 - Week 1

Just like that, 1 week down, 23 to go.

3 runs for 15 miles
11 miles on the bike

Training highlights:

  • No drama during Saturday's 6 miler with the training team.

Training lowlights:

  • Prabir's OMK (old man knee) basically falling off during our run on Wednesday (National Running Day). He had to cut out at mile 4 and I finished up on my own. This is how we felt about it:

I made him promise to go to the doctor and get that darn knee fixed.

This week calls for 18 miles and 5 of those will be happening with That Guy With the Beard, which I'm super super excited about. I also might hit up Hatha Yoga at the YMCA on Thursday evening. I had been planning on returning to yoga last week, but open wounds on the heels of your hands make it Downward Dog a little bit of a challenge.

Also, only 18 miles? So far, I'm running less than during these first few weeks of Marathon training than I had been just running for the heck of it. Guess I should enjoy it while it lasts, right?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Finally: Bib Organization

I am not a particularly nostalgic person when it comes to "things". I am more of a purger - just ask Husband - if you don't watch me closely, I will clean out your closet while you aren't looking and 1/2 of your clothes will be gone. My motto is that if you haven't worn or used something in a year, you don't need it.

I hate clutter, knick-knacks annoy me, and I just don't get people who collect objects (no, you will never see me with a collection of yarn balls, Coca-Cola themed items, quirky salt and pepper shakers, or anything else). For me, things are generally just things and when they take over my space, they make me feel crazy and therefore need to be gotten rid of.

But I do feel a surprising attachment to two things: my running shoes and my race bibs. Even though they are completely used up, I just can't bring myself to get rid of any of my shoes (well... a slight fib, as the shoes that I ran my very first Monument Avenue 10k in are long gone... but I've kept the rest).

You'd think I'd want to get rid of the ones that I broke my foot in, but I cling to them for some reason.

And then there are the bibs. Like many runners, I've been collecting them for years and trying to figure out a unique way to display them.

Some people make a mural of them:

Bart Yasso's office door
Image Source
You can get them made into (expensive) bags:

Mile 22 Bags

Or coasters (also expensive, but I like this idea and *might* do it for my marathon bib).

Then there are the countless (expensive) Race Bib Albums. I've had one on my Christmas/Birthday/Valentine's Day wish list for a while, but I guess my friends and family members just don't think that a $45 Race Bib Album is a good present. I myself have been unable to justify spending that amount of money on what amounts to a photo album either.

So, my bibs have been living out their post-race days like this:

... in a pile on my desk, held together (barely) by a clip.

Today, I finally decided to remedy the situation. I took one last look at the overpriced Race Bib Albums and then it dawned on me... I can make my own Race Bib Album pretty darn easily and cheaply with one quick trip to Target.

(Never mind that I ended up spending $95 on said trip to Target... otherwise known as the black hole of overspending.)

Here's what I did, in 3 easy steps:

Step One: Obtain snazzy 3-ring binder from Target ($7.05) and clear page protectors ($3.69).

No, the cover doesn't have a runner girl on it but I don't really car.e

Step Two: Convince Husband to help you slip your race bibs into the sheet protectors (free).

Step Three: Put race bibs in chronological order. Use photos from blog to identify mystery bibs (free).

Step Four: Bother your husband again by asking him to take a bad picture of you without make up and in your "lounge shorts" displaying the final project. (edit: after I posted, I realized that 95% of the photos of me on this blog are sans make up so thankfully my natural mug won't be too much of a shock to my readership.)

I think I am still going to add an index card to each page with the race name, date, and my finish time, but overall I'm pretty pleased with my $10 bib album. Certainly much nicer to gaze upon than the crumpled stack of yore.

What do you do with your race bibs?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Plan

For the second time, I have started training for my first marathon.

This time, things are going to be a lot different. First, I will have the support of the Sports Backers Marathon Training Team. Second, I am not going to run 5 days a week ("HERESY!" you say, but I'll address you later on this one). Third, I will actually be running the marathon this year.*

I have felt a bit behind when it comes to selecting a training plan. As I came back from the incident-that-will-not-be-named, I read Run Less, Run Faster and decided that this somehwat unorthodox training plan was my best bet for making it through marathon training without getting injured. Many of you are probably already familiar with this training plan's postulation that in order to successfully train for a long-distance race, you do not need to run 5 days a week, or even 4 days a week. Instead, you run three quality runs a week - dedicated speedwork, a mid-distance tempo run, and one long run - accompanied by high-level cardio crosstraining such as biking or swimming. Basically, those 3 mile, twice a week "easy runs" that are a staple in every marathon training plan are considered junk miles that you don't need. Instead, do a cardio cross training activity that works different muscles and gives your musculo-skeletal system a break. (Very important to me with my apparently-fragile bones.)

When I was recovering and getting back to my normal running routine over the winter, I was kind of already following some form of the Run Less, Run Faster method. Per the advice (... demand ...) of BFF Steve, I was running only every other day and incorporating swimming (albeit less and less...) and the stationary bike into my non-running days. With this training schedule, I ended up setting big PRs at every race that I ran this spring. In short, my success turned me into a believer in the Run Less, Run Faster method.

BUT it wasn't going to be as simple as following the RLFS plan because my long run distances are set by the Sports Backers MTT. Not to mention MTT training is 24 weeks long and RLRF's program is 16 weeks. 

So what I had to do was come up with some way to mesh the Sports Backers 5-run-a-week, 24-week-long training plan with the RLRF 3-run-a-week, 16-week-long training plan. 

Still with me? Yeah. It's confusing.

On Monday evening I sat down with my MTT training book and the RLRF plan and created a giant spreadsheet that compares the two side by side. Once I had that finished, I went week by week and crafted a hybrid version of the two that goes something like this:
  • Long run will always be MTT mileage. For the most part, the MTT group long runs are not wildly different from the mileage recommended by RLRF.
  • For the first 8 weeks, run 3 days a week following MTT mileage and applying RLRF principals of short-distance speed week run, mid-length tempo run, marathon pace+30 long run. Add two days of appropriate cross training (three if feeling good) and at least one complete rest day.
  • Starting in week 9, following RLRF mileage and direction for speed work and mid-length tempo runs, accompanied by MTT long run mileage and two days of appropriate cross training, etc.
  • If progressing with no problems, also attend five MTT-sanctioned and led hill work starting in week 10. During those weeks that I participate, this will mean 4 runs a week (slightly deviating from the RLRF method). If it seems to be too much or I'm feeling anything weird, I'll ditch that 4th run and put hills into my mid-week tempo run instead. I just feel like not doing any hill work at all would be fool-hardy, especially consider that Richmond is not exactly a flat course.
With this plan, I will log about 25% fewer miles than my MTT counterparts (590 vs 819, respectively). My highest mileage week will be 35 miles (Week 21) versus three-50 mile weeks that MTT calls for. I will average 24.6 miles per week; they will average 34.1.

Spelled out like that, it seems a pretty stark and scary looking difference. But I'm going to my faith into the RLRF plan. Running all those extra miles in a traditional plan could just give me the same result as last year... benched with a broken bone. I'm banking that this will be the right plan to get me to the finish on November 16... and that it will get me there in 4 hours or less (yep, I just stated that crazy goal out loud).

So... here goes nothing... again.

*As long as bones cooperate.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

National Running Day!

So, how many blog entries have you read today with that title?

And what kind of running blogger would I be if I didn't jump on the band wagon and tell you all about what I did on National Running Day????

All of these "what are you doing to celebrate National Running Day?" questions on social meeting just make me laugh. Duh... I'm running. What else, exactly, would I do?

I guess  I could say that the mid-afternoon ice cream sandwich that I just had to have and the burger and guacamole that I just ate for dinner were my form of "celebration" but of course those were made possible by my 5 mile run that I took after work.

Oh, and I guess I could say that I also got these babies just in time to "celebrate" today:

I am officially the biggest Run Nerd that you know.

And that I took this completely ridiculous picture to mark the occasion:

Can you honestly say you know someone nerdier than me?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Resolution Check In

Goal: Run 800 Miles

Through May 31

January: 55.1 miles
February: 45.3 miles
March: 65 miles
April: 77 miles
May: 55 miles (2 weeks off in Italy... whoops)

Total for the year:  297.4 miles 

Three PRs:
10k - 47:49
10 Miler - 1:26:16
Half Marathon - 1:51:52

Goal: Run a Full Marathon - this one will have to wait until November

Goal: Do a Sprint Triathlon - this one has to wait too

Goal: Read One Book Per Month

January Books
George, Elizabeth - Mary, Queen of Scots

February Books
Davenport-Hines, Richard - Voyagers of the Titanic
Mantel, Hilary - Wolf Hall

March Books
Galbadon, Diana - Voyager
Galbadon, Diana - Drums of Autumn

April Books
Pierce, Murr, Moss - Run Less, Run Faster

May Books
Cross, Donna Woolfolk - Pope Joan

Dust Yourself Off

As it happens, I had to dust myself off and get right back to it today. I had the Run Like a Girl 4 Miler to run with Marcey and Sheila - the third year in a row - and I wasn't going to let yesterday's spill stop me. Admittedly, getting my running top with built-in-bra on was kind of a challenge (God bless poor Husband, who has not only been dressing my wounds but also myself), but once I was dressed and bandaged up, I was ready to go.

This year, the organizers of Run Like a Girl made significant changes to the race. It still took place at Pocahontas State Park in Chesterfield County, Virginia, but this time the course was 4 miles (instead of an 8k) and in a completely different location. All in all, I thought it was a positive change.

+ Nicer bathrooms
+ Parking was much closer to the staging area
+ Staging area was nicely laid out and located in a horse paddock (not kidding; sans horses) and no longer in a marshy field at the bottom of a long staircase and next to a body of standing water (hello mosquitos)
+ Better corraling of runners. Groups were called one at a time and taken down a trail about 100 yards to where the actual Start was. It helped keep the corrals organized.
+ Course was on what I am assuming were wide equestrian or fire trails, covered with either a shallow layer of sand or gravel.

The course was supposed to be "easier" but I'm not really sure if that's the case. Previously, the first mile or so of the course was on narrow, challenging, and hilly trails. Not the case here - trails were wide but I feel like the inclines lasted longer. When I compared the elevations from my Garmin last year and this year, last year we gained 40 more feet (is that a lot? I'm not sure... I don't really know anything about elevations). Here are the charts:



So yeah... I don't really know if the course was that much "easier" when it comes to hills. I also have no idea what those spikes are in the elevation chart from this year. Any guesses??

Anyway, given that I had run 7 miles the day before and was full of open wounds, I wasn't going to push myself during this run. I was just running to run and enjoy the time on the trail, which was actually quite relaxing.

And of course, to have some fun with Marcey and Sheila.

I pouted about my wounds for one second.
I particularly love how the sun bean is
hitting me in just the right spot here. Ha!
(photo credit: Sheila?)

Marcey was in a bit of a funk so I had to slap it
out of her.

(Totally staged slapping btw)
Sheila headed to the finish

Marcey about to round the corner to the finish
Did I run a PR today?

Do I care?

I'm just glad that I got to hang out with a bunch of awesome women who aren't above a silly pose.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

How To Make an Impression

Today was my first day with the Sports Backers Marathon Training Team (or MTT, as it will henceforth be referred to). It felt like the first day of school - I thought very hard about my outfit, laid everything out the night before, and slept fitfully, waking up numerous times convinced that I had overslept and missed the whole thing.

Last year, I debated joining MTT and ended up going it alone. Although I made it halfway through training before the incident-which-shall-not-be-named, I wasn't looking forward to slogging through the increasingly lengthy long runs by myself. I probably could've done it, but it wasn't going to fun in any way.

This year, I'm thrilled to being a part of MTT and look forward to meeting lots of new people and being part of a team. Over 1,200 people participate in MTT so the Sports Backers divide the group into smaller training teams based on pace and intensity. Since Greg and I have been having such success training together, I opted to self select into the Navy (Intermediate) Team, which he has run with for a few years now.

This morning, all participants met at the Sports Backers stadium for "orientation" and our first group training runs. After what felt like forever (it was really only 40 min or so), the speeches were finished and we broke out into teams to finally run.

Being a terrible pacer (and Greg wasn't stopping me), we ended up in the front of Team Navy and were happily making our way through the North end of Richmond. I was having a great time chatting it up with the other Team Navy members who were hanging in the front of the pack. One of my favorite things about running is making new friends, so I was in heaven.

We were on Brook Road, running in the shoulder against traffic. Greg hopped up onto the sidewalk and after a few paces, I jumped up to join him. "Running on that grade will probably not be good for my foot. The sidewalk will be better," I said and then...


Generally, I am not a clumsy person. In the hundreds and hundreds (maybe thousands?) of miles that I had logged, I have only fallen once before. It was two years ago on my birthday. I was running Monument Avenue with Prabir, teasing him about his taste in women, when karma got me and I fell, tearing a huge gaping wound in the heel of my left hand. I don't fall over myself often, fall off of things, drop stuff, spill waters, etc. By no means am I the most graceful person in the world, but I'm not accident prone.

But this morning, just as I finished my statement about sidewalks being better for me, I caught my right toe and found myself body surfing. I'm not positive, but I'm pretty sure that my Garmin actually signaled Mile 2 as I skidded to a stop.

Anyway, I immediately heard people yelling around me and my first thought was, "I am such an idiot. All of these people probably think I am such an idiot" followed quickly by, "GET UP. NOW."

I jumped up and didn't even bother to take stock of my injuries. I knew I was scraped up, but nothing really hurt (except for my pride), and dammit, this was Day 1 of training, mile 2, and I wasn't stopping!

We jumped back in and it wasn't until I looked down and saw the stream of blood running from my shoulder to my wrist that I stopped - not because I was worried about bleeding - but because I was wearing my most favorite yellow Lulu running tank and I did NOT want to get blood on it.

Priorities, people. Priorities.

Greg tried to offer me his shirt to wipe off the blood. As he was wearing his Florida Keys RAGNAR shirt, I said, "No freaking way man! I am NOT putting my blood on your RAGNAR shirt!!" At that point, one of the other team members who was going by stopped and offered his washcloth and some water. Thank goodness for him, whoever he was. I protested - I didn't want to take his cloth and ruin it - but he insisted. So we rinsed off my shoulder, where there were two pretty deep gashes, and my right hand which is not pretty either, and wiped up the blood.

I was determined to keep going, so we did. Another 5 miles during which I got to meet and make friends with a few more people, which almost took my mind off of my oozing cuts.

When we got back to the stadium, I immediately sought out a Coach or Sports Backers employee. Greg found Lisa Randolph first - the Race Director of the Richmond Marathon. She was awesome, and helped me peroxide up my wounds and try to clean them as best as I could. I was literally singing opera when she poured the hydrogen peroxide on my hand. Another fellow team member was a paramedic, so he came to have a look at me, along with a second team member who was a doctor. I was hating having such a big fuss made over me. This was NOT the impression that I wanted to make on people! And besides, if I could run another 5 miles on top of the spill, it couldn't have been that bad.

The paramedic was awesome and I am very grateful for his help. After looking closely at my shoulder, he told me he thought that a stitch or two would be a good idea for my shoulder. As he explained his reasoning to me, I started to panic. With my needle phobia, the thought of stitches was making me feel quite faint. I think Lisa could tell I was freaking out, so she went and found the doctor who took a look and told me that it would be ok if I cleaned it out well and then used butterfly bandages to hold the wound together. I liked that diagnosis, so after getting some neosporin and band aids, I creaked to my feet and walked to my car with Greg, who was awesome and stuck with me to make sure I was ok.

"Well, at least you got to meet Lisa and some of the coaches," he said. "And, for the rest of the season, you'll be known as the girl who fell on day 1 of training! Everybody knows who you are now!"

"Great," I replied.

Apparently news of my spill had traveled up and down through the coaches and teams - I learned that coaches on bikes were looking for me and that lots of people who saw me go down have inquired about me. A few even messaged Greg on Facebook, asking after me. I am truly grateful and overwhelmed by their concern, but 100% humiliated at the same time.

So... my Marathon Training has gotten off to an inauspicious start. In addition to taking the spill, I forgot to restart my Garmin, so I don't even know how we did pace wise. I know that we ran just over 7 miles (that felt overall pretty good considering the circumstances of heat, pollen, humidity, and open wounds).

I just hope that this is the worst thing that happens and that it's smooth sailing from here on out.

Next week I'm going to have to do something to somehow lose the title of "The Girl Who Fell on Training Day 1." Other than streaking for the last mile of the run, I'm not sure how I'm going to live it down, but I'll come up with something.