Thursday, February 23, 2012

I think the groundhog was wrong

The last few weeks have been very mild and dare I say even a little WARM for February. My running streak last week continued for 10 days straight and then I was tired so I took a rest day. It was tough because I was on a roll and feeling really good, but something told me 'I should probably take it easy'. I know I have a tendency to overtrain and do too much and I'm really not always good at listening to my body. It's a weakness for sure. I ignore the obvious wisdom that running all the time is not necessarily good for you and continue to chase my endorphin high like a true addict.

Here's what February looks like so far for me:
I'd say I'm well on my way to marathon number 10 (which is in less than 90 days!). Over the next few weeks I'll get up into my favorite distance runs, 16-18-20. I know it's crazy most people cringe at the idea and wouldn't drive that far to go out for dinner never mind run that far just for fun. There's just something peaceful about settling into a comfortable pace and shutting out the entire world for a few hours to be truly in the moment and in your own head. It's almost as if time stops and things become quiet and loud at the same time. I tend to notice things I would never see under any other circumstances. Little things, funny things, random things, all sorts of things. My brain wanders and all my problems melt away and I open myself up to all the magical possibilities the world has to offer. It's hard to describe and you will never really understand it unless you are also a distance running addict.

Anyway, after I broke my 10 day running streak last week, I woke up Friday morning and got ready for work and grabbed my running gear and headed out feeling great and looking forward to the day. Then as I was starting to drive to work I realized something was wrong with my car. I pulled over a mile from my house and discovered my tire had been slashed. I put some air in it and could hear it coming right back out, felt around and found a 1-2 inch slash in the side wall. Drove it back to my house and called work to let them know I wouldn't be in. Then reported it to the police and tried to figure out how I would get it to the tire place to have it fixed. Thank God for great friends.

It was still wicked early in the morning and I knew no one was awake and didn't want to wake them up since I was in no rush because the tire place wasn't even open yet. I texted my Massachusetts Mom Ann and her husband Jack came over and put my spare on for me. I drove to the tire place and lucky for me I got new tires in December and paid the extra money for the lifetime replacement plan and I got a new tire FOR FREE! While I waited for the tire to be put on I went for a run with Ann and then we met Jack for breakfast. So, the day started out a little bumpy but quickly improved. By 11:00 I had a new tire and had already run and visited with friends.

I went home and baked some banana nut bread and did laundry and dishes and cleaned my house a little. Turned into a really productive day. Saturday I had to drive up to Portland for a funeral service for my Godmother. It was really sad and difficult. I had lost touch with her and her family and it sucked to see them like that. I wished that I had reconnected with them before my Godmother's sudden and tragic death. She was the one that called me when my mother got breast cancer and I credit her with bringing us back together. I hope that I can stay in touch with the family a little better now.

After the service I forced my brother to go for a run with me. I wanted to do 6 or 7 miles and he didn't want to run at all so I compromised and we did 4 miles. we took his dog Logan around Baxter Boulevard in Portland. I loved it and Logan loved it, my brother not so much. I secretly smiled inside knowing he was always the more athletic one in the family and now I could claim that title. He struggled a little and I felt fine. I hope he continues to get out and run with Logan (but not too much) because I need to cross off the 'to-do' list item - beat my brother in a sprint tri.

Sunday my long run was 14 miles. My longest run since Disney. I felt really good until the last 4 miles. I still averaged a decent pace, just slowed a little towards the end. Granted the last 4 miles are almost completely uphill. Overall I think it was a successful run. Not pain or boo boo belly, just tired.

Monday was a holiday and I met up with Kim, Ryann, and Nutter for a quick easy 5 miler and then Kim, Ryann and I went to Life Alive for lunch. Not a bad way to wrap up the long weekend. It was a rollercoaster ride, 4 days of ups and downs, ending on a high note.

As the short week started, the run streak and emotional rollercoaster caught up to me and I was feeling a little worn out and tired. Tuesday afternoon I ran 5 miles with Kim in Ayer and then Wednesday I woke up with a sore throat and a little head congestion. I rinsed out my head with the neti pot and drank green tea all day hoping to reduce the duration of the cold.

I feel pretty good today. A little tired and my throat is scratchy but not sore. I'm a little bummed I didn't run yesterday because it was almost 60 degrees out, but I plan to make up for it today with a run along the Charles River after work. This winter has been really mild. I kinda like it, but it makes me nervous for everyone running Boston this year. My theory is if training season is really rough, race day is perfect and if training season is perfect race day is rough. Take last year for example: by this time last year Boston had over 70 inches of snow and some of my long runs were in the single digits. Then Marathon Monday was in the 50s, partly cloudy, and there was a tailwind. Seriously PERFECT marathon conditions, once in a lifetime PERFECT. This year.....only about 7 inches of snow so far (I'm not complaining, just concerned), temperatures averaging 5 degrees above normal. I'd bet money that there will be a monsoon on Marathon Monday this year, but I REALLY hope I'm wrong.

I sort of wish I was running Boston this year, but also really looking forward to running Vermont in May. I have a few extra weeks to train and I can cheer on the side of the course for my friends this year (another reason I hope it's not a monsoon). In the meantime, I'm just really enjoying the mild winter. The warmer weather and lack of snow makes it pretty friggin awesome to live, work, and run in the greater Boston area right now. Check out the recent temperature trends:
Ideal running conditions. Mother Nature is finally NOT a douche.

Monday, February 13, 2012

I'm like buttah.....

.....cause I'm on a ROLL. hahaha

So, I think I found my motivation. Not sure how or where it was hiding, but I found it. Last week was very productive. I didn't run over the weekend because of the stair climb, but I got right back at it on Monday. After work I went for a run along the Charles River and went one bridge further than I usually go and it ended up being almost 9 miles. I felt great, it helped that somewhere along the run a group of some ivy league cross country runners passed me and I had a nice view for a while. Then I remembered, they're probably not even old enough to get into a bar yet and I felt old.

Tuesday I ran my usual loop from the Mass Ave. bridge to the JFK bridge, including the short distance from the parking garage to the river it ends up being 7 miles. It's a nice loop, I like it. On the Storrow Drive/Soldiers Field side I can do fartleks sprinting every other light post back to the Mass Ave Bridge. It mixes it up a bit. Then I noticed a few weeks back there are these weird numbers painted on the Mass Ave Bridge and I have been wondering what they meant and meaning to google them for a while. I finally looked it up. The numbers go in increments of 10s and every 50 they have the word "SMOOTS" with them. Apparently, its an MIT thing. Way back in the day they wanted to invent a unit of measure to record the distance of the Mass Ave Bridge from the Frat houses to the main part of the campus. One of the frats used the last name of the shortest guy in their frat because his name sounded 'sciencey' like WATT or AMP and so the unit of SMOOT was born. The Mass Ave Bridge is roughly 365 SMOOTS. It's fun to see the numbers go by as I run it and even more fun now that I know the meaning behind the numbers. I envision them laying the poor guy down on the bridge to measure it originally.

Wednesday was another awesome Ayer run with Kim. We did a 5 mile loop and I was so distracted chatting about the stair climb the previous weekend that I didn't realize we were FLYING! I think we shaved 30 seconds per mile off our pace from the previous week. Afterwards I hung out for a bit and watched as Ayer's newest runner cautiously took her first steps. Kim's daughter, Ryann, is going to skip walking and go straight from crawling to running.

Thursday, I wanted to do a little less than the 7 mile loop so I went from Mass Ave. to River St. I know the Western Ave bridge is close to 6 miles so that was a little longer than I wanted too. River St. ended up being 5.25 miles not bad and it went by really fast. I need to find some middle distance runs.

Friday, I tried running along the river in the opposite direction towards the Science Museum instead of towards Harvard. It's not as pretty and I don't really like it. I just went one bridge down, not all the way to the museum. It ended up being 4.4 miles. Not bad for a shorter loop, but I still want to find a different way to go if I need a short run. I just don't like that side of the river for some reason.

Saturday morning I got up early and met up with Kim and Shannon for a long run through Lowell. We avoided the hill. That made me a little sad. I like the hill. It was still a really good run. We did about 8ish miles from Shannon's house and I ran there so I ended up with a total of 11.7 miles. I think I averaged 10:00 miles, so I felt really good. I'm starting to feel like I might get back to the speed I had in Boston last year and I could potentially try for a 4:00 marathon in Chicago this year. That is, of course, assuming I do not get hit by another car this summer and it's not 83 degrees on race day.

Sunday, I wasn't going to run, but I got up and the sun was shinning and it looked so nice out I couldn't resist the urge to lace up my shoes and go out. I was going to just do a nice easy 4 mile out and back, but when I started I felt amazing so I kept running. It was just one of those runs that I felt like Forrest Gump and if I had my fuel belt and gels I could have kept running forever. I ended up doing the 7 mile hilly non-hill run.

So, here's my 7 day running streak:

Now, I really need to find a way to get strength training back into my routine so that I don't get hurt. I'm getting up close to 50+ miles per week and I know I REALLY need to get some strength or cross training in to prevent an overuse injury. But for now I'm just really psyched that I'm motivated and feeling good. I'll keep running and working on speed and hopefully find time and a way to fit in some other stuff. I gotta get on it before it gets really nice and I get my bike out.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Stair climb recap

First let me do a quick review of last week leading up to the climb. I was feeling kind of down and defeated last week (must be how the Patriots feel today). I managed to push through it though and I ran Monday through Thursday. 7, 5.7, 5, and 6 miles. All pretty easy paced runs, nothing crazy, just trying to get my motivation back and still struggling a little. By the end of the week I felt pretty good.

Friday after work I got acupuncture to help prepare for the stair climb the next day. Considering I didn't really train for the climb this year, I needed all the help I could get. PLUS, I signed up to climb TWICE! It seemed like a good idea 4 months ago. Acupuncture was great I felt totally relaxed and ready to take on the challenge the next day.

Saturday morning I woke up extra early to bake some Oatmeal awesomeness cookies that I had promised my teammates. Then I took a shower and got dressed and headed into Boston. I was sort of scrambling and forgot half of the stuff I wanted to bring and brought a ton of crap I didn't need. Forgot directions to the parking garage and my iPod and my bib#s and brought about 4 extra shirts for after the climb even though you get a free shirt for finishing it.

Anyway, I got there and checked in, got my bib#s and met up with my team. Scott was a little upset that all the other teams had matching shirts and I had only ordered a shirt for myself. I'm not made of money, I already donated over $200 not including the actual registration fee and the cost of my own shirt. Plus, it was kind of a last minute idea. I told him next year our team name can be "matching shirts" and I'll think of something funny for us to wear before the climb.

Before we knew it, they were calling our numbers to the start area. I was first then Scott was 15 seconds behind me and Matt another 15 seconds back. I expected them both to pass me. I started and stuck with my plan go every other stair and use the hand rails, rest if you need to, but don't stop til you get to the top. Matt passed me within the first 10 floors. I could see Scott about a floor below me and tried to keep it that way. I finished the first climb in 8:31 and Scott finished right behind me (a second ahead of me by our chip times).

We went to the observation area on the 39th floor to recover and then I had to get back downstairs to climb again. The time between climbs went by super fast, a little too fast. I was still coughing when I started the second climb, but I just paced myself and went a little slower. I actually felt better the second time and was yelling at the volunteers on the way up to show a little enthusiasm for the climbers. Most of the volunteers were high school students and some of them were just sitting there texting or not doing anything at all. It was kind of annoying. Anyway, I finished the second climb in 8:59.

Mission accomplished. Both climbs in under 10 minutes. Time to celebrate. I had some cookies with Scott and Matt and then headed to lunch with the other team I climbed with. We went to some fancy restaurant in Faneuil Hall. The only vegetarian thing they had on the menu was a veggie burger. I didn't really want a burger, but that's all they had AND it was $15!!! It wasn't even that good. I kind of felt sick afterwards.

After lunch I swung back by the building to use the restroom before heading to the bar and to meet up with my friend Leah. One of the guys I met at the top of the building when I finished my second climb offered to hook me up with some fire fighter gear and let me climb a third time, I was VERY tempted, but I knew my friend Leah was waiting for me. Next year maybe I'll do it, I kind of wish I had done it. I bet I could have been under 10 minutes for that too.

I met my friend Leah and we went to Scholar's, the bar that was hosting the awards ceremony. We got a few beers and hung out with the girls on the team my friend Jenine had coached. It was the team I climbed the second time with. After a while, they all trickled out and it was just me and Leah so we started chatting up a few of the fire fighters (I think they were from Brighton or Brookline, I don't know some B town). We were still talking when they announced the winners, but by the crowd reaction I knew who won - my hometown Portland Fire Dept. reclaimed their title and beat Needham Fire! I'm so proud of them!

Overall it was a really fun day and I can't wait to do it again in a year. I can't say the same for Sunday. I woke up with a little bit of a headache. I don't usually drink so just a few beers hit me hard. I had planned on going for a 8-10 mile run, but ended up spending the day lounging on my couch instead. I figured one rest day won't kill me. I'll just do 7-8 miles tonight on the Charles. I'm still struggling a little to get my motivation back. I'll get there. I have to, I registered for Chicago again last week!