Friday, January 25, 2008

The rest of last year

As April turned to May I gleefully returned all of my TNT training captain gear, got a new job, and started final preparations for the Cleveland Half Marathon. I made the decision to run with the Clif Bar Pace team -- in hopes that I wouldn't come off the starting line too fast and to shave another few minutes off my time. Both things happened along with an unexpected third thing -- I barely used my run:walk ratio. When I look at the finish line photos I remember the elation I felt at the sight of the clock and the realization that I had run almost the whole way.

I then coasted into summer without another race in site until October and faced up to the challenge of training on my own. No coach telling me what to do, just my own self-discipline. (If only I could apply that to housekeeping!) I worked on increasing my run to walk ratio, conquered my pacing issues on the dreadmill/treadmill and discovered the joys of solitary running. (Though on the most painfully humid Saturday mornings I missed my buddies). I trained all summer with the Army Ten Miler and 100 minutes in mind. The race holds a special place in my heart for all it represents... the alternative to Washington's other premiere fall running event, the faces of the young soldiers who call me ma'am, the monuments, and 20 years of being an Army "brat." When the five-day forecast rolled around and it looked an average August day I was forced to reevaluate the whole darn plan. (I won't deny I was a little heartsick about it). I added 5 minutes to desired finish time and focused on finishing safely. I was lucky... many that day experienced heat stroke or worse in DC and Chicago. The final stretch of the 10 miler takes you down an off-ramp and under an overpass, rather like going through the final "chute." It still gives me chills to think I stood in the relative shade of that overpass, waiting and watching for friends to finish and saw the medics rush by on a golf cart. I would later find out that a young man, who probably ran right past where I stood collapsed near the finish line. All of sudden times didn't matter so much.

I ran Philly again in November... an excellent way to burn a few calories the Sunday before Thanksgiving. I gave thanks to my pacer from Clif Bar on turkey day and headed into the blur that is the holiday season. I avoided seasonal stress by setting a mileage goal for December and exceeding it by two miles... but still I busted the goal, in part by being one of those crazy people who exercises on Christmas Day. (For the record I was not alone out there). 2008 looks ok so far but it's a story for another day.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

For Lack of Content I Give You Pictures

From my first and second half marathons

Friday, January 04, 2008

April 2007 - Catch up Post 1

April was about two things -- 10 mile races and job searching. Preparing for the former was a pleasant salve for the unpleasantness that comes with the latter. The worst thing about job searching is the best stuff has a tendency to come to you, through networking or a recruiter seeking you out. This was true for me as well.

The first race of the month was the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler, an annual DC tradition that I was so eager to be a part of that I spent two days attempting to register. (Thanks marathonguide). Only after I had shelled out my money did I put two and two together and realize that April 1 was a week after National Half. In my head I was giving myself a week between races -- given that other runners have told me they did the same thing, clearly it makes perfect sense. Just nod your heads and smile at my inability to read a calendar properly. Race day dawned (too early, but thanks to our early start on daylight saving time not as early as it could have) and I schlepped on the Metro to Metro Center, road a school bus to West Potomac Park, and frankly six plus months later I still remember how flippin' cranky I was. Thoughts such as running 10 miles a week after a half marathon was the dumbest idea I'd ever had, it was too early... you get the picture. I dutifully waited to start with my group and found myself in the front of the corral because it was the only place with room. By the time we started I was at least calm, the weather was decent (no rain like the week before) and I just started running. When we ran across the Memorial Bridge I saw a sign for another runner exhorting her to run in 100 minutes or bust. I have on the fly math calculation issues in the best of circumstances, plus my ability to do "splits" math while running is bad so I thought that's too fast for me. As we rounded the circle at the end of the bridge I realized the split math was painfully easy and 100 minutes wasn't as far out of range as it had been in 2006. I busted 100 minutes, but only went over by 2 minutes. Not bad for cranky pants way I had started the morning.

The other 10 miler was the GW Parkway Classic. A few weeks had passed, I was tuning up for Cleveland Half Marathon, but I still thought I'd see if I could repeat Cherry Blossom. I also grappled with the idea that not every day can be a PR day; a humbling thought for a newbie where every race so far had been a better showing than the last. I finished about a minute slower than earlier in the month and enjoyed a hearty post-race breakfast at The Royal Restaurant with my running buddies. My other enduring memory of the day was the sheepish look on another runner's face when she was the only one dropped off at the 5K start (both races are point to point). Someone assured her that she was probably the sane one.