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Updated: 2018-03-07T15:57:45.998-05:00


I'm going to dew point in weather's face if it doesn't lay off


Since my last post, Louisville has been your choice of:

  • Hot (like 90* and humid)

  • Storming (like rain and tornadoes)

  • Windy (like 15mph)

Suffice it to say it has been a tough couple weeks. Last Monday, I figured I'd get in an easy 4 miles when I left work ... except it started to hail. With the long weekend, my running group was nonexistent, so I decided to run Sunday with the Derby City kids for my long run. It was 92*. Not one of my best decisions, but I got the miles in nonetheless.

Today I headed over to E.P. "Tom" Sawyer Park with the intention of doing some cruise intervals. It was a mere 80* when I arrived, but the 71* dew point and 66% humidity had me sweating like an OSU Athletic Director a half mile in. I bagged the workout, did an easy 6 -- and they didn't even feel easy. I guess it is time to start waking up early again.

I got some awesome New Balance gear last week. Favorite running outfit is the NBx Adapter Sleeveless top, super lightweight, great hand to the fabric, great fit, little pocket on the inside; along with the NBx Run Short. The short fits amazing, liner is Xstatic fabric, no-tie drawstring, zipper pocket in the back. My number two outfit is the IceFil Sleeveless tank, which utilizes IceFil (xylitol) to actually bring down the temperature of the fabric when you start sweating. I also love the lower neckline. This I pair with my go-to shorts, the NP Short, which I own in way too many colors. (Or not enough.)

By the way, all that gear is on sale right now on the New Balance website. Of course, if you live near a specialty running store, go there first.

Oh yeah, I ran a 5k over the weekend ... It was more of a tempo run. Where I got beat by a middle school girl who runs for Derby City. And we all went the wrong way. I'm running another one this Sunday (at 4 p.m.), and possibly one June 11 as well. Anxiously awaiting the return of what little speed I used to have.

Running Errands Part 2: Grocery Run


Thursday's run was sort of like being in the middle of a Sonic the Hedgehog game -- I found 52 cents while I was running! Of course, I saw a penny, stopped. Ran some more, found another penny, stopped. Found a quarter. Then another quarter. Sweet!

I planned my run to end at the Kroger just a few blocks from home so I could pick up the last ingredients for last night's quiche. Of course, you can't really run with a pie crust and half-and-half, so I just walked home. With my 52 cents.

Tuesday I did my first workout in ages, starting with some cruise interval 800s. So pretty much just 6x800 at tempo pace, 2 minute recovery. My, how the mighty have fallen. I hit pace (based of an estimate of 5k fitness) and never felt awful, but was definitely working. After, I couldn't decide if I felt good for running as planned -- or bad for how slow I've gotten.
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Race calendar is full-up at the moment; there are a ton of good races coming up that I just can't miss. We will test out the racing into shape theory with races 5/28, 6/5 and 6/11. Then it's off to DCAC running camp for a week 6/26-7/2, then probably a Fourth of July race. (Bluegrass 10,000 or Crescent Hill 5k.)

Short run tonight, long run Saturday, short run and massage Monday. Details and weekly recap coming soon.

Running Errands Part 1: The Library Run


Most people just "go out for a run," for exercise or training or just to clear their heads. You finish where you started, usually, with no purpose other than running. I suppose it is a side effect of our culture, where exercising and transportation are not typically one and the same.

But when you look at the cultures that dominate long distance running, those guys are running as transportation. They run to school. They run to work. They run wherever it is they need to go ... because for them it is the fastest way to get there.

Other than some minor inconveniences, though, there's no reason why more of us can't combine our running with some sort of errands. I know a few people who do. My friend and New Balance rep Pete said he runs to the post office and bank regularly, and ran to buy batteries for a new baby swing over the weekend.

After not having a car for a year, I definitely see running as a method of transportation more than I did when I had a car. Some days I would bus or bike to work, then run home in the evenings. Then I could do one of the same things to get to work the next day — which were my transportation options anyway. It is assuredly advantageous to have a workplace shower.

Running Times had an article about this years ago, where author Jim Gerweck talks about running to the pharmacy, the grocery, to drop off forgotten homework to his kids. He would run while his kids were at Tae Kwon Do practice instead of driving home, then back to pick them up again. He even ran while waiting for his number to be called at the DMV.

Today I was presented with an opportunity to combine multiple to-dos in one fell swoop. My list for the day included a 4 mile recovery run and a trip to the library ... which is 2 miles away.

Eurkeka! I thought — I'll run to the library. I hurried up and finished my book, all the while trying to decide how exactly I'd get a book there and back. I know I hate handheld water bottles, so carrying it didn't seem entirely feasible.

I changed into running clothes and tried stuffing the book — fortunately a smallish paperback — into various clothing elastic bands and ran back and forth through the condo. Side of shorts? No. Back of shorts? Definitely not, even though I've seen men carry various things tucked into waistbands. Sports bra back, like how I carry my shirt when I take it off mid-run? Also no.

Drats. I was perplexed. What I needed was a backpack or something with a big pocket. I didn't have a backpack, although some lightweight running ones exist, but I did have a lightweight vest with — a-ha! — a perfectly-sized back pocket. With the temperature only 53 degrees, I was a little warm on the run but not terribly so.

I jogged my easy 2 miles to the library, dropped the book on the counter, wiped my face with my shirt, checked out another book, stuffed it into the vest, and ran back.

Then patted myself on the back — I got my run in, got a new book and saved both gas and time. Leaving me with some free time to write this post.

TracePace is back in action after a relatively long hiatus. With six weeks of base-building before my next training season, I plan to post on Mondays and Thursdays of each week. Stay tuned for posts about my training, other people's training, news from the running (and running retail) world... And some Facebook-favorite food photos and recipes.

Meals this week:


- Steak & parsnip fries
- Protein pasta casserole
- Curried red lentils & squash
- Black bean & avocado wraps

Out of Commission


Well ... trace-pace will be on a running hiatus for a bit. Not that I've been blogging much, anyway. But that's because I've been running. And now I'm not supposed to run. So more time for blogging.

Finally got the lump on my shin looked at, after it had been there for something like six months. The stress fracture showed up on the x-ray, which I'm guessing is bad since they usually don't. The voicemail from my doctor said "absolutely no running" along with minimal weight-bearing. Pshaw.

The odd thing about this injury is that is has not hurt to run on it. I sometimes start out with a tightness in the muscles along the outside of my lower leg, the anterior tibialis et al., but nothing along the lines of a piercing stress-fracture pain I would expect. All my friends who have dealt with these have said it hurt too much to run. Mine hasn't. I knocked out 70 miles last week including 11 miles in racing flats.

My doctor suggested crutches, which are pretty much impossible at my job ... but who knows, I may end up in a boot. Cute.

Ortho Monday morning, we will see how that goes ...

Workouts are flexible


(image) What a hellacious week. Kicked it off Sunday with a solid 15-miler, no gels, mid-70s and humid. Felt good, but was totally wiped out when it was over. Laid on my living room floor for a while when I got back.

No getting squirelly on Monday, stuck to the muddy, hilly trails in anticipation of Tuesday hill repeats. When we got to Maple for the repeats, it was nearly 80 degrees. I averaged three seconds slower than the week before, with my heart rate max the same, so not bad.

Thursday was my track workout, but coach didn't tell me what it was in advance. That was okay, because it meant I didn't sit around all day Tuesday dreading it. We ran to the track, and coach sent me off on 4x1k at cruise pace (6:15ish). He's trailing me by about 50 meters, and as I finish the first lap, he yells, "Okay, go ahead and open it up; we'll make it a Vo2 workout."

Not one of my favorite phrases. Vo2 max means hard. I yell back and ask if he's serious, he says yes, so I shift into the next gear before I'm out of the curve. Cruise through the lap, and as I'm going into what I think is the last 200 meters, coach yells that the workout is now 1200s.


I get through the lap, finishing the interval in 4:25 after coming through the first lap at 6:15 pace. That means I knocked out a 2:51-ish 800, which is flying for me. I'm not sure I've ever recorded an 800 at that speed. Even if I went through the first lap in 90 (hell if I remember), that's still a 2:55 half-mile. Zoom! That is really good giddy-up for this slow-twitch gal.

Unfortunately I needed to do three more 1200s, and was supposed to hit about 4:25 for them all, just under 6 pace. Eighth-grader Max Mudd (see Cades Cove race report) offered to pace me, which I declined because really that's just embarrassing.

Then I tanked the next interval, with a dismal 4:37. Hit pace on the first lap, then relaxed too much on the second -- I tried to get comfortable and maybe got a little tooooo comfortable.

So of course coach put Max on me for the last two. Now that I didn't need to pay attention to my pace -- 6 min/mi is as easy for Max as texting -- I got to check out my heart rate. Bad decision. Seeing 190s after the first lap is frightening. Apparently that's what I was supposed to be doing, and it doesn't appear to have killed me.

With Max goading me the whole way, we did the last two in 4:27 each, 5:56 pace. Any time I am running sub-6 pace I get nervous. (Hence the summer of 5k training.)

Then we blasted a couple of 400s for fun, I knocked off a couple 82s, then we ran home.

Of course, then Friday felt terrible -- I almost bagged the run a quarter mile in. I thought I was going to die. Coach insisted I would feel fine for the race Saturday, so I wore my compression tights, took an epsom salt bath and crossed my fingers.

If you've read the race report yet, you'll know the finger-crossing was futile. I think the heat and multiple hard sessions took their toll and wiped me out.

But hey, I did finish up the first week of the pushup challenge!

Race report: Run for the "L" of It 5k


This post is subtitled, "The Little Engine That Couldn't."

Summer has come to the Ohio Valley, which meant at race time Saturday it was in the mid-70s with humidity pushing 80%. Lovely.

The women's line-up for this race was stacked -- probably one of the most competitive races in the city. I knew that was coming, so I was mostly racing the clock since I knew some of these girls would be a minute ahead of me ... at least. If there were any other women closer to me, I'd race them, but those other girls ... Not even. In the end, U of L runner Emily Borsare would win in 17:10, followed by Amy Doolittle-Crider, Kim Coleman and Meghan Braffet, all right around 18 minutes. Yikes!

I went into this race hoping to run around 19 minutes like I did last year, but thinking 19:15 was more realistic considering how I felt during Thursday's workout. (I can only post about one thing at a time, so I will get the week in review up soon.) Apparently even that was a little too optimistic.

I hit the first mile marker in 6:06, even though Cassidy (my 405) pinged a few feet later at 6:15 pace. Sometimes I hate that damn thing, I think I'm going to start setting it up for races so that it works like an old school watch - no auto-lap, no pace. Just chrono and I will force-lap at the mile markers.

(image) The course is a pretty cool configuration, sort of a backwards C-shape with a little loop at the top. So people watching at the start/finish line can also see you around halfway, and there's no sharp turnaround like in an out-and-back.

My coach was at the little loop, and I yelled to him that my jacked-up right leg was hurting. He told me to relax up top and keep going. I was hoping he was going to tell me to drop out. Drats. Okay, legs, keep going. Cassidy split 6:29 for the second mile, yikes. Couple more turns and then we are back at Eighth and Main, which means I just have to get to Fourth and Main, pop up a couple blocks, then it's over. It's so humid the sweat is beading up on my skin -- no evaporation at all. Gross.

I spend from about 1.5 miles to 2.5 miles running next to my friend Rob, a pal from Track Tuesday. I start putting some ground on him as we turn onto Main, catch a couple of other men, turn onto Fourth and blast the jets. This is always a bad idea because the Fourth Street part is longer than I'd like (about .3). Catch two more guys, commit to the I'm-going-to-hurl feeling. Because once you "chick" some poor dude, you can't let them pass you back. Just can't.

Cassidy is stupid and only got 3.05 for the race, which is an acceptable figure considering the width of the course, but means its calculation for pace over the .1 is no good. It figures something like 7:20 for that part, but I was definitely working harder than that coming up Fourth Street. Oh well.

Crossed the line in 19:30, good for fifth female and an AG win. Thank goodness my friend Meghan doesn't turn 25 till next month, so she won the AG below mine.

More races coming up, more race practice, less whining. That's the plan.

Oh, and kudos to my mom and friends Melanie, Debra and Jeff on this race, too! Mom improved over her 5k a couple of weeks ago, Jeff ran in the 18:20s after not running a 5k in forever, and Debra picked up an AG award!

Getting my act together


After slacking for two months post-marathon, I'm finally getting my mileage back ... a little. I crossed the 50 miles/week mark, and started the new week with a 15 miler. AND I did two workouts. Little bit of patting myself on the back, thank you.This week included a really sloppy trail run, a ridiculous hill workout, cruise intervals and four easy days. First week without an off day in some time. I'm feeling okay, the lump on either shin doesn't appear to be changing with more or less running ... so I might as well do more.So about that hill workout. Since my coach seems to love this particular little hill, I make sure to invite him to do the workout with me. This is the third week I've done Maple (the name of the street), and there's at least one more week to go. I included a nice graph so you all could see how much fun this is. Start repeat at 440 feet, end .29 miles later at 530 feet. Comes out to be about 5 percent grade on average, but it's really more like 2 or 3 percent for the first two-thirds, then 7 or 8 percent for the last third. Ugh. We have two different markers on the way up just to check pace, the first one at about 43 seconds and the second at 1:13. Then the steep last part to clock around 1:48-1:50 for each one. Just for kicks, though, this week I:1. Almost ran into a deer2. Almost got ran over by a tractorAs if the workout wasn't bad enough, this time it involved obstacles. Great.And, in what may be one of my dumbest plans ever, I started the One Hundred Push Ups challenge. I haven't been able to stretch my arms out all week. You begin by doing as many push ups as you can for an initial test, then follow the six week program to build up to 100 at once. You do your push ups every-other day, and in five sets with a break between each set. Tonight I did 50 total and I'm strangely proud of myself.My friend Diane is also doing the program and said if nothing else, we will be great arm wrestlers once it's over.Coming up this week is my first 5k in ages. I don't think I've done one on the roads in about nine months, yikes. I'm going to get thoroughly spanked by my friends Rebekah and Heidi, but if I can run about 19 flat, I will consider it a good start to my "season." After this one, I've got 5ks two weekends in a row, which will be an insane amount of racing for me. Menu for this week:- Tapas plate with marinated chickpeas, Manchego and proscuitto- Ravioli with pesto (and leftover baguette from tapas plate)- Sausage casserole (it was so good last week!)- Some sort of chicken and greens dish, got mustard greens and swiss chard at the farmer's market this weekend[...]

I swear I cook


(image) New acquaintances often ask what I do besides run. Truth be told, I pretty much work (at a running store), run, sleep and eat. I am a better eater than I am runner, that's for sure.

So I cook a lot — and thought maybe it'd be fun to include my weekly dinner menu on the blog at least occasionally. If nothing else, it will force me to plan my menu ahead of time, which always ensures better eating on my part.

I frequently get ideas from recipes, although I am somewhat notorious for immediately not following the directions. It is more of "Oh, that looks good," than "How do I do that?"

This week was a good week, as in, I got my act together, decided what I wanted to cook, and went to the grocery. I try to get a good variety of quick things, and do a lot of the prep on my off days. Dishes with the most work get made earlier in the week.

- Tacos (ground turkey, taco seasonings, plain greek yogurt, cheese, taco sauce)
- Meatballs with wilted mustard greens (made meatballs in advance, delicious)
- Ravioli with apples and walnuts (frozen ravioli, easy-peazy)
- Sausage and white bean casserole (uses the rest of the mustard greens)
- Spiced chicken and veggies

Race report: Cades Cove Loop Lope


One day I will post race reports in a timely manner. This is not that day. I ran a race on April 25 ... and now I'm writing the report. There is some backstory to this particular adventure. A few weeks after my marathon and a few weeks before this race — it being about a month after the marathon — my coach informed me we were running a 10 miler in the Smoky Mountains. Please note the use of "race," "10 miler" and "mountains." Ughhhhh. However, there was no way I could pass up this opportunity. The hugely popular Cades Cove scenic loop had closed down for part of the off-season for much-needed repaving. Tourists throng Cades Cove for chances to see deer, turkeys and the occasional bear. A race with bears!?!?! Of course I'm in. The race — the Cades Cove Loop Lope — was being billed as a once-in-a-lifetime affair. It had never been done before and they don't plan to do it again, it only became possible because the repaving was done a month before the loop was set to reopen. The race's slogan was "It's now or never." Derby City Athletic Club, the team for whom I run (in addition, of course, to nominally running for New Balance), holds its youth camp each summer in the Smokies and regularly runs the Cades Cove loop. On a spring break trip down there, he found out about the race. Now, as if the set-up for this race wasn't sounding quite strange enough, registration was a whole 'nother matter. It was a one-day online-only affair, and because of parking limitations, registration was done by "teams." Parking could only accommodate 140 vehicles, so each "team" would receive one parking pass. You could have as many as eight people on your team, but you were only coming in one vehicle. Even with the fairly steep price of $60 per person (for either the 10 mile or 5k option), registration closed within hours. Coach had mentioned to me that we were doing this race, but I didn't pay a whole lot of attention ... until registration confirmation appeared in my inbox. Turned out I was being offered race entry, overnight accommodations and carpooling ... all I had to do was pay for my meals and attempt to run fast. Plus it was a Sunday race, so I didn't have to take off work. Even with my semi-functional post-marathon legs, there was no way I was saying no. Derby City had signed up five people, so it ended up being my coach (Dave), my friend (Mat) and two eighth-grade Derby City standouts (Max and Chris). The younger boys would run the 5k — farther than what they typically race, and the second-ever 5k for both — while us older folks would tackle the 10 miler. We headed down when Mat and I were finished at Ken Combs Running Store, piled into Dave's SUV and headed out. There was a stop for Fazolli's along the way, making me now a convert to the Fazolli's-before-racing gang. It must be the crack in the breadsticks. I will admit being in a car with four guys, including two teenage ones, wasn't nearly as bad as I might have feared. The younger ones were absolutely hysterical, sometimes unknowingly but usually just because they're funny. Our cabin was about 20 minutes from the race, and one of the ones Derby City uses for camp. Dave took the upstairs bedroom, Mat and I took the downstairs one and the boys got the couches. Of course, one boy stayed up till 2 a.m. texting and fell asleep on the pool table ... but boys will be boys. We rolled out of the cabin at 7 a.m., all awesomely attired in navy shorts and orange Derby City singlets. Fake it till you make it, right? Parking was really well orchestrated; the park rangers wanted us in the right places so they were making sure we got there. Ample bathrooms, fairly easy check-in ... The only headache while checking in was that the other runners were flat out not listening to the directions. Goodies came in a small reusable shoppin[...]

April Summary


After Shamrock, I decided I had definitely earned a little bit of downtime. The turn-around between Marshall and Shamrock had been fairly quick (not quite six months from race day to race day), and the crappy winter weather had been mentally harsh. With no races planned till the end of May, I figured I could take April pretty easy — running because I wanted to run, not because I had to run.

I also had this great idea that I would get back into cross training again, but that only happened like three times that the month. Including a one-hour personal training session that made me unable to lift my arms for three days. No fun.

The first week after the marathon, the last full week of March, I think I ran 15 miles. Then I got up to a stellar 32 miles the following week, all recovery miles, all slow as can be.

Then I busted out a 10 miler at a decent pace, and took two days off that week. The speed was coming back but the muscles weren't bouncing back very quickly.

The third week of April was an oops. A 12 mile long run, 8.5 mile speed session and a 9 mile run. There was a weekend switcheroo, where we were trying to do our long run on Saturday since people were racing the next weekend — I only had time to do 9, but along with a couple of easy, shorter runs, I hit 46 for the week. Initially it felt okay, but I followed it up with two 8 mile runs and a 9.4 mile nasty hill workout and had to take a day off. Over the next four days I ran a whopping 10 miles, and I needed it. Plus I had some sort of race silliness (see Cades Cove Loop Lope race report) coming up.

To round out April, the Ohio River Valley attacked my sinuses, resulting in a week of fighting swollen lymph nodes, phlegm and mucus. Gross.

After Shamrock, I had set a goal for April of averaging 28-38 miles weekly over the course of the month. I averaged about 37, so pretty good there. Of course, I had also set a goal of strength training twice a week ... Epic fail.

I should have set some goals for May at the beginning of the month instead of 11 days in. Oops. Let's say averaging 40-50 miles per week and completing 75 percent of my assigned workouts.

Marathon Monday Memory - 2008


Brain surgeon. Veterinarian. Artificial intelligence engineer. All things I wanted to be when I grew up.

Never did I imagine being an athlete. I played the occasional sport, did well, but never excelled or even dreamt of excellence.

So now I find myself two years into a far-fetched plan to qualify for the Olympic Trials.

It started in Boston, 2008: My second marathon would be the fabled trek from Hopkington to downtown Boston. I had watched the race as an ignorant spectator in 2004, so I remembered the energy of the event.

But this year was even more electric. The women's olympic marathon trials would be on a criterion course (essentially a loop course), making it great for racers and watchers.

I was so pumped to watch this race. Even though my race would be the next day, I spent several hours going from spot to spot on the trials loop. I watched Magdalena Lewy-Boulet take an early lead and hold it for much of the race. I stopwatched the gap from her to Deena Kastor, and was one of many who told Deena the deficit as the race went on. I saw Deena take the lead with just a few miles to go, watched her victory lap with the American flag, shook her hand.

I also saw women who didn't look that much different than me, but who ran at least 45 minutes faster. Even though they weren't in contention for one of the three Olympic slots, they were almost definitely having one of the most memorable races of their lives.

And I wanted that feeling, that experience. I wanted to know I was one of the 180-odd women in the country fast enough at this retarded distance to say, I made the B-standard and ran in the Olympic Trials.

Oh, I want it. I want it like most people want a million dollars — they won't die without it, but life would be awfully great with it.

And, quite frankly, my lifetime chances of running a 2:47 marathon are probably considerably better than me having a million dollars.

So here we go. Another sixth marathon season behind me, a seventh coming up in the fall.

Race report - Shamrock Marathon


width='465' height='548' frameborder='0' src=''>This was my first attempt at waking up uber-early before a marathon to try and eat more. So at 3:45 a.m. I was eating Kashi cereal with soymilk, followed Clifbar that I ate with the lights turned back out because I really didn't want to be awake.At 5:15, I rolled out of bed and took a quick shower. Easy way to wake up and loosen up the muscles. And prevent my bedhead from frightening small children.I started sipping Gatorade at that point, and ate another Clifbar at 6:30. Quite frankly, I don't want to eat another one for a while. Okay, maybe like another week. We got to the race area fairly easily, found a place to park, and walked over in time to see the 7 a.m. half marathon start. Yep, that's right. The half marathoners start an hour earlier, and run just the north loop of the figure-8 course. So the marathoners got to see some of them coming back toward the finish as we went out, but it meant most of them were off the course by the time we got to about mile 20.We did the first of several bathroom stops, wandered around a little bit since the marathon started a few blocks away, and started warming up around 7:20. Gear bags checked and two gels wedged into shorts pockets and two into my sports bra, some striders, etc. The volunteers kept telling us we needed to clear the course in front of the start line ... which makes sense if you're not running the race. If you are, I think that block in front of the start is warm-up land, and cheerfully ignored the directions to move. A little known fact: hearing the national anthem playing makes me want to barf. Not in an I-hate-America way, but in the "oh crap, I actually have to go through with this" way. Marathon starts are bizarre. You all line up knowing there are 26 miles in front of you, and still a bunch of people will floor it across the line (who we all know do not need to be going that fast). Then at mile three you catch up to them and have to listen to their labored breathing. Gross. So the first part of the figure-8 course, which incidentally is sort of how we run most of our long runs anyway, was the south loop. This includes the lone hill of the course, a freeway overpass maybe 100 meters long and with about 20 feet of climb. Yes, they consider that a "hill." It's marked on the elevation map ... which is roughly 20 feet above sea level for most of the race. The overpass is 40 feet above. Ha!Miles 1-6: 7:02, 7:04, 7:02, 7:05, 7:05, 7:00Mentally I was preparing to split this race into segments at 5k, 10k, half and 18 ... and just kind of wing the last part. You don't really know what will happen from about 20 on, so I had several plans loosely tied to that part of the race.For the first 5k I wanted to average about 7:10. Whoops. Then 7:05 for the next three miles through the 10k. Not a whole lot to look at on the south loop, some trees, the outside of the aquarium, Camp Pendleton, a giant gorilla. miles 5 and 6 there's a turnaround, so Pete and I were able to get a girl head-count. I was in 11th, with that pack of women running together and then the rest spread out. Perfect. It didn't look like a group where I could crack top five, but top 10 seemed likely. Miles 7-13: 6:58, 6:59, 6:59, 6:59, 7:00, 6:58, 6:57South loop cuts through some other side streets, I don't even really remember much in there. Got us away from the marathoners still coming out, who were using their lane and ours, which resulted in me telling them to scoot over. And we got to cheer for pace groups, which I like doing. Early on, the 3:10 group was huge ... and one of my objectives was to not get passe[...]

Virginia trip, part 1


My running pal/relay teammate/New Balance benefactor Pete and I were the two people embarking on the Shamrock trip. Pete lives in Lexington (about an hour away), but we were flying out of Louisville. Early. He picked me up at 5 a.m. Friday, which gave us plenty of time to catch our 6:50 a.m. flight.Usually Louisville's quaint airport (technically two terminals, but really just two hallways) is pretty desolate that early in the morning, but there were spring breakers clogging up everything. In fact, our plane contained both elementary AND high school groups. Yippee!Anyway, it made the tiny security checkpoint slower than a three-legged dog in the snow. And it really confused them why my boarding pass only had my last names on it, no first name. Now, listen, that is not my fault. I didn't design the damn ticket. You want me to have more names on it, talk to the kiosk. Or whatever.Pete's prototype 759s (due out in May -- check them out!) were pulled for a check at security, although mine were not. Who knows. I remarked maybe nitroglycerin wasn't the best cushioning choice after all.Our flight was a short trip over to BWI, during which I fired up Cassidy (my gfr 405) so we could see how fast and how far we were going. It kept dropping the signal, which I didn't understand ... since I was closer to the satellite than I usually am. We had virtually no layover at BWI; they were beginning to board as we got to the gate.I left my book on the first plane (hopefully the next person in that seat loves chick-lit), so I ended up wasting a lot of time complaining about breakfast (well, the lack thereof) and looking at SkyMall. I weighed the relative merits of purchasing a group of garden meercats versus purchasing a garden Yeti. Tough decision — and since they live in very different natural environments, you really can't have both. That would just be unrealistic.We landed in Norfolk at 9:30 or so, picked up the rental car — a Mazda R3 with about 50 miles on it — and headed to a breakfast place called Citrus, recommended by a local on the flight. Delish. Pete had eggs benedict, a nice normal-person sized breakfast. I couldn't make up my mind ... so I ordered everything. Enter The Lynnhaven: hash browns or grits, pancakes or french toast, sausage or bacon, and two eggs however you want 'em. For $7.To kill time, we attempted to find the touristy part of Virginia Beach, but no dice.N(touristy) + N^2 = e(pic)^failWe drifted around for a bit, found the expo but had to wait for it to open. People were actually lining up to get in. We sat at a table and waited; the full only had a thousand people so the odds of us needing to rush in were nil. Packet pickup was easy enough, although oddly organized. At one table you got your bib, once you figured out the right spot, and you had to remember to actually get your own safety pins. You had to have a signed waiver and identification with you. Which was sort of funny, because I gave the volunteer my waiver and my ID, and then she asked my name to verify I was getting the right bib. Clearly we both know my name, assumed or otherwise, at this juncture.Then off to a different room to figure out which area is the marathon shirts. I got an XS tech long sleeve ... made by Brooks, a company who notoriously vanity sizes apparel. So really it fits like a medium. Why are there never shirts that fit? In the land of marathoning females, I am not that small!Our hotel, the lovely Sheraton Norfolk Waterside (great all-around, definitely recommend), got us checked in before lunch. Lovely rooms; Sheraton currently has my vote for best blankets. I thought the duvet might suffocate me, but in a nice expensive duvet way. There was no scratchy comforter, which I alway[...]

Spring training: Week 3


(image) Alright, alright, this one is being posted way late. Whoops. Finally back on track and feeling good, mileage-wise, so the weather goes down the drain. A craptastic week.

Didn't run Sunday because ... because ... I didn't feel like it. I laid around all day watching movies instead. And then spent the rest of the week feeling guilty.

Monday I went to tackle my long run, but after seven miles on roads covered in snow and ice, and topped with sand, I gave up. A couple hours later I hit the treadmill to knock out the other 10 miles, which was fine. I believe that was the day I spent most of my treadmill time watching a History Channel show on the Kennedy family. All of them.

It wasn't until Thursday that the roads actually cleared and we could really run. Note my consistent 7:50 pace much of the week. Those days averaged a 150 heart rate, which is about 73% of my max HR. That's fairly low, just a smidge over the 145 bpm or so I use for recovery runs. Which means two things: I'm getting fitter and that I'm not trying very hard. Hello, slacker.

Spring training: Week 2


(image) Just as I had started to forget what cumulative fatigue feels like, it comes creeping in on the coattails of a 65-mile week. And 20 of those were on the treadmill. After Sunday's long run, we survived a recovery run on the trails on Monday and 12 outside on Tuesday. Then I cracked. My chapped face and permafrosted fingertips demanded a break.

Into the gym I went. I logged my longest-ever treadmill run, 11 miles, on Wednesday. Back outside on Thursday and then back inside Friday for 9 miles with 4 miles of tempo. Pretty good heartrates, weight is back down and such.

Ten more weeks. Over and out.

Spring training: Week 1


(image) Am not in shape to hit 60 miles already. Especially not when it's 15 degrees outside every day.

Temperatures dropped throughout the week, as everyone probably noticed. Nice run on Tuesday ... and no run on Wednesday. I ran outta steam. It was cold and dark and everyone was gone. Thursday it was a little warmer but windy, then the weather went to pot.

Sunday we executed a nice Magic Schoolbus Run™ - I ran to Rebekah's, she and I ran to Eileen's, then the three of us ran about 7 miles before dropping off Eileen. Then back to Rebekah's and two miles back to my place. Not bad, pace-wise, 7:40 average and HR average 158.

Back to work


Monday was day 1 of my 12-week Pfitzinger training program. I'm not sure we are entirely settled on Shamrock, but it's the earliest of the options so figured I should get back on it. This will be a roughly 60-mile week, not including Sunday's 17 miles with 8 at marathon pace. Ouch.

More exciting is the inaugural midnight New Year's run here in Louisville. Titled the "2k10k" this year, it will loop around the fabulous Seneca and Cherokee parks. It's not a race -- partially because we just decided to do it on Sunday -- but could certainly turn into one in the future. Turnout probably won't be huge, but it'll be fun!

Does put me in an interesting spot for doubling, though. I'm going to run this afternoon, then again eight hours later, then again sometime Friday.

Week in summary to follow on Saturday.

Race Report: Club Cross Nationals


Every year the USATF puts on club cross country nationals, one of two championship XC races for the post-collegiate crowd. This one allows for team competition and doesn't give prize money to individuals, just teams. So the atmosphere is more like a traditional XC race -- instead of a road race being held on a cross country course. (Which is more like the other championship.)Professional groups like ZAP Fitness, McMillan Elite, Boulder Running Company, Asics Aggies, Bowerman and others all show up. And some local teams like ours, who are just regular runners of the don't-quit-your-day-job variety. Anyway, there were four races for the day, masters and open for both men and women. The women ran a 6k and the men 10k, on pretty much the same course at Masterson Station Park in Lexington. The day started off cold, and we had all packed lots of spandex to cram under our tiny little uniforms. Well, under the tops, because our spandex boy shorts were not going to permit layering. It was going to be one or the other, and most of us opted for shorts. Our race wasn't until 12:45 p.m., which was amazing -- we lolled around all morning taking our time getting ready. We probably should have arrived earlier, but we didn't want to stand in the cold all day. Consequently, we spent too much time organizing our gear and finding our teammates. I was also supposed to be coordinating a men's team, but only one of them showed up. Plus I threw my phone at a friend, told him to answer if anyone called, and went to warm up. We arrived at the starting box late, still in warmups and with two girls not yet wearing their spikes. We chucked all our stuff in a pile behind the line, hoped our friends would grab it all, and lined up with the other 230-odd women in the middle of a big field. The gun went off and I, for once, didn't go out way way too fast. Just a little too fast.My goal for the race was 24 minutes, since I ran just over 20 minutes in my first cross race, a 5k, a few weeks ago. I thought if I could maintain the same pace for an extra KM on a harder course, I'd consider it a good day. So I set my watch to tell me pace and distance in KMs, however, I didn't reset the auto-lap feature to metric. So the screen was giving me metric but it was auto-lapping every mile. Sonuvagun. The watch was pretty much useless. The course starts with a pretty long gradual uphill; at least the first half-mile. Then it funnels into a rocky patch and down a little hill, then a tight U-turn, back up the hill, down the hill, up a short/steep/really muddy hill, back down to the start, then repeat.The hills were all pretty sloppy, especially the steep one. I opted to wear flats instead of spikes because most of the ground was hard and the spikes hurt my lower legs last time. I think it was a good decision; the little bit of traction I lost on that uphill was probably regained by the fact my legs didn't feel absolutely terrible at mile three.By the way, who thought up this 6k business? Thank you for the hassle.Around the first mile, I set about sticking with the girls in my vicinity. I figured with three more miles to go, I should first try to maintain position and not get passed, then try to move ahead positions later in the race and when possible. I picked up a few on the uphills, using those to pull ahead then getting a larger lead on the downhill. A handful of friends were on the course cheering, which was great. I don't run many races where people know my name, and when I do, they're usually at one or two spots during a three-hour race. Hearing my name like 10 times in a 24-minu[...]

Treadmill intervals, ouch


Last night was my last interval workout before USATF Club Cross Nationals on Saturday. It was 40 degrees and pouring rain all day yesterday, so I decided to hit the treadmill.

I was scheduled for 6x400 at 1:32 and 4x200 at :36. Doing 200s on the treadmill is nearly impossible; you can't hit the buttons fast enough. You go through the first 100 before it's up to speed. Damn things. Plus I forgot what the split was supposed to be anyway. Went through the 400s in 91 average, then the 200s in about 44. If I could have operated the controls, I definitely could have run the 200s in at least 40.

It's always hysterical to crank the treadmill up to about 10.5 mph while other people are doing 10 minute miles next to you. The girl to my left was walking and reading a book, in pants and a long sleeve -- meanwhile, I'm flinging sweat off my elbows in a crop and split shorts.

As a nice bit of irony ... I ran inside, which I hate, to stay dry and warm. I put my warmups back on, then stood in the cold for 10 minutes waiting for the bus. Then stepped in two huge puddles walking home. End result pretty much the same.

A reminder to myself: flats do not make the leg and foot injury feel better. It hurts like hell this morning, so day off to try and heal before the race. I'll probably take Friday off as well, depending, then play it by ear once the race is over. I need to be training hard the week after Christmas for Shamrock ... Yikes.

2009 marathons: a retrospective


As 2009 wraps up, I am looking back on my two marathons from the year — a useful tool as I start planning for the next one.

I've now run five full marathons, one in 2007, two in both 2008 and 2009. While that has been pretty good for me, as far as scheduling/timing/training all go, I think I'm ready to try three. Or at least two and a really strong half marathon.

Ah, but there I go, jumping ahead of myself. If we don't learn from the past, we are doomed to repeat it, right?

Both of my races this year were alright performances. At Boston, I struggled with some GI issues but muddled on through for a race just 68 seconds slower than my time at Memphis a few months prior. On a much tougher course, I considered the day a draw.

Marshall, though, I definitely under-performed. I am chalking it up to the serious lack of proper face-stuffing the morning of the race in particular. If the car has no gas, it won't go. I was lucky to not fall apart more than I did, and I will credit hard training and general bull-headedness for that.

You can see the weekly mileage from those two races in these graphs, and here's a nice table for comparison, too.

MPWBostonMarshallPfitz Plan


I feel like my training for Marshall didn't follow the plan closely enough for me to reap all the benefits of the Pfitz mesocycles. And I think the high mileage weeks were a little too sporadic. There should have been a more consistent build-up process and better recovery weeks. Granted I had the Bourbon Chase not long before my taper, which kind of threw things off, too.

For my next marathon, I am going to try following the schedule more consistently and make myself do all the workouts. No skipping tempo, or MP runs, or strides, or anything else.

Sugoi R+R Socks


(image) I've been wearing these Sugoi R+R knee-high socks for a couple weeks and I freaking love them. The compression on the calf muscles is amazing, plus there's a little bit of arch wrap, too. They're padded in just the right spots -- heel, toe, front of ankle (where the shoe tongue hits).

Not much else to say about them except they feel great. I think they help my recovery, although I haven't worn them to run yet. I have worn them almost every day around the house for a couple of weeks though! You can buy them online through my store's online site,!

Spring Marathon Shopping


Since I neglected to register for Boston before it filled up, it looks like I will be running a spring marathon elsewhere. Standard marathon parameters apply: not too far, not too expensive, not too hilly. Enough people that I'm not by myself the whole time. If I wanted to run 26 miles by myself, I'd do it at home.

If there's any races you know of that I should consider, or if you have opinions on any of these, please let me know. Currently under consideration are: Shamrock Virginia Beach, Knoxville, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Nashville and Cleveland.

More updates on this as I start to narrow it down!

Derby City AAU Meet - race report


Okay, so I should have written this a week ago. I have no valid excuse.Last Sunday I made my cross-country debut at the past-my-xc-prime age of 24. See, USATF club cross country nationals are down the road in Lexington next month, so it didn't take much arm-twisting to get me to participate. In fact, I got an awesome Derby City Athletic Club uniform and that was really all I needed.The DCAC hosted the AAU regional meet on Sunday, and allowed three of us running club cross to use it as a "practice" race to tune-up. And I need a lot of tuning. More like an engine rebuild, but hey, gotta work with what I got. I really needed an opportunity to race in grass (I've done trail races, but that's not the same either), wear my spikes and figure how out of shape I was.On the good side, I like wearing spikes even though my lower leg has been a little sore ever since. I also was correct in my early prediction of how I'd do, so at least I'm fairly in tune with what the legs are willing to do.There's not really a bad side to this race, other than me not running 18 flat ... But that's a bad side to any 5k I've ever done -- or probably will ever run.The course was two loops, featuring a couple of little hills and one bigger one. Steep but not long, so a fairly good course. The other two girls and I had planned to just run this race as a tempo run, which would be 6:45 pace on the roads for us. Of course, by the time we were on the line, I was saying 6:30 pace. I think they knew where this was going. The gun went off, and the 16 assorted guys and gals -- high schoolers with four exceptions -- took off in a pack. For the first 100 yards or so, I kept saying out loud, "not 5:30 pace, not 5:30 pace." As we rounded the first turn, I went, "Damn, 5:30 pace." I started to back off, trying to settle in. I clipped through the first mile in 6:20 but knew it wasn't going to last. My friend/semi-coach was at the marker, which seemed like a good time for me to remind him I hate 5ks. To which he replied, "Well, you're running halfway decent so just keep your head in it and relax." Relax I did, and a little too much. I ran 6:48 for the second mile, along the way having some elementary-aged boys yell, "Go Ken Combs lady!" which I loved. There weren't any other runners close by, probably part of why I slacked so much.But then ... I could hear one of the girls on my team and that I run with often. Former DIII all-American, this one, and I could recognize her breathing. That meant there was no slowing down and that I probably needed to pick up a bit. Now, generally this girl could slaughter me in a 5k, but she's been putting in 15 miles a week or so during her first semester of dental school. It was a little disheartening to have her damn near catch me anyway. A good reminder why I need to stick with longer distances nonetheless.After a 6:44 third mile, I ran the last smidge at 5:22 pace and called it a day. I finished second female to a high schooler who had just placed sixth at the state meet the previous day. Fair enough. I'm recovering from a marathon and she's peaking; I'll settle for the 27-second loss. I ran 20:13, with which I'm okay. It was fun. Now it's time to get my rear into gear for the next one.[...]

One week later


Having had a week to digest my marathon performance, I'm trying to not complain about it too much. I can see where I erred, have a few potential solutions and am excited to try again.

Didn't run much this week -- I hear that's what you're supposed to do after a marathon -- just 4 miles on Wednesday but 10 on Saturday. I was feeling a little antsy not running. Everything feels okay except for the top of my hamstring, but I'm going to see my wonderful massage therapist tomorrow and hopefully she can work that out.

This week will be interesting because one of my best friends is getting married Saturday (and I'm helping organize the reception) and I'm running a practice cross country 5k meet on Sunday in preparation for club cross nationals in December. It'll be a fairly light week mileage-wise, but I do have a 5x1k workout on Wednesday. Then a couple of speed/tempo workouts a week until nationals. We'll get thrashed by some of the high-caliber teams who will come to the meet, but it's in Lexington so it'll be a neat opportunity. I get to wear a sweet uniform, promote the Derby City Athletic Club and maybe meet some really amazing elite runners. What can be bad about that?