Thursday, August 27, 2009

5 Days before the judgement

I miss running. I really, really miss running. It's been two weeks since my last run, my leg (sometimes both) still hurts, and I have a sneaking suspicion that I will not be able to run in the 10K on Sept. 12th. I have an appointment with a sports doctor on Tuesday, and I can't wait until then so I can find out when I'll be able to run again. I went for a bike ride a few days ago with the support staff, but it was after a really bad thunderstorm/possible tornado, so most of the trail was blocked by fallen trees, and we couldn't go very far. Maybe the trail will be cleared soon so we can head out again.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Watkins Glen

For a few days, my support staff and I reversed roles: It was my turn to be the dedicated support staff. I retrieved tools, provided water bottles on request, took pictures and video, and provided general moral support as he tore up the track at Watkins Glen, NY in his red fox-body mustang.

He has basically built the car from the inside out, machining a lot of the engine pieces himself and even fabricating his own roll bar. He had been working on the engine for a long time, and it had actually been over a year since he had driven the car because of all of the work he was doing on it, so he was really looking forward to driving it again. It turns out that all of his hard work was well worth it. Besides a few hiccups here and there (which called for some trips to NAPA and a junkyard), the car performed up to and beyond expectations.

This driving event was not a race -- just a chance to drive fast on the track. There were all kinds of other cars there, and although I didn't do any driving or riding, it was a lot of fun watching.

We didn't get much time this year to hang out around Seneca Lake or do that much sight-seeing in the town (last year we visited the auto-racing archive there!), but our trip to the junkyard to find a new throttle body brought us through some really beautiful scenery. Hills, valleys, streams, and trees were everywhere. It was just gorgeous. I really like scenic overlooks, and the track itself is high up on a tall hill with a view down across flower-dotted fields toward Seneca Lake below. Half of the time that we driving to or from the track, I was glued to the window. We even passed a field of sunflowers, which are one of my favorite types of flowers. We would have stopped and picked some on the way home if a storm hadn't rolled in and sent some heavy downpours.

We were only there for 3 days, but we had a great time. The car performed well and is ready for more track time, so hopefully we'll be able to go on some more trips to other track events over the next year.

Here's some video I took showing the car flying past another red mustang on the straightaway:

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Bad signs

About a month ago, I wrote in this blog that "I was a little sore in places deep within my calves." That soreness never really went away, and now I'm starting to get really worried. I figured that I was working muscles and tendons that usually didn't get used and that it was good to strengthen them. One thing that seemed a little odd to me was that, although I had some sensations on both legs, there was a point on my left calf - that initial deep, sore spot - that has been tender to the touch. Now I'm feeling pain - not bad pain - but a feeling that something's not right in that spot as well as odd, shivery, shooting sensations and pulsations in both legs. I feel these things even when I'm sitting or laying down.

I am calling off all running for the time being. I do not want to end up like my running buddy with doctor's orders not to run for 4 months. Maybe it's nothing, but I'm afraid I may have done too much too quickly and might be developing a stress fracture or maybe already have one. Some time next week I'll make an appointment to see the general practitioner to see what he says.

At least I have some really exciting plans for the next few days that will preoccupy me from my possible injuries. It will be running of a completely different sort - I'm going with my dedicated support staff to Watkins Glen where he will run his mustang on the track there. It's not a race - it's what's called a "high-performance driving event" - in which the participants learn tips from professional drivers while having a lot of fun driving as fast as they can. He's been waiting for over a year for this, and I'm happy that it's finally here. Since I won't have any training to blog about, maybe I'll have a Watkins Glen report when I come back.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


After breaking my PR at the July 25th 5K, I promised myself that I would splurge and buy myself a CD or DVD that I had been wanting. I couldn't decide which one to get, though. Being the Lord of the Rings nerd that I am, I really wanted to buy another one of the movie soundtracks. I also have a list of bands/artists like Jethro Tull, Matchbox Twenty, Loreena McKennitt, and Nancy Anderson whose CDs I'd like. I am kind of bad at making decisions in the first place, and this was too many options. Breaking the PR a week and a half later in the August 6th 5K made the decision-making easier, though - I'd get myself two CDs.

But which two?

After far too much thought, I finally settled on The Two Towers soundtrack and Jethro Tull's Stand Up. I also bought my running buddy a 13.1 decal for her car.

This week I've run 2.5 miles on Tuesday, 5 on Wednesday, and 2.5 today. I'm going to rest full tomorrow and hopefully fit in 10 on Saturday for another 20-mile week.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A bike ride and surprise run

Miles: 9.5
Pace: 11:54

Yesterday I was supposed to do a 9.5- or 10-mile long run in the morning before going to a co-worker's barbecue. Unfortunately, I got up late and didn't think that I had enough time for the full run, so I decided to give myself a rest, just going for a quick bike ride instead, and plan the run for today. I biked about 8.5 miles on the trail. It was another beautiful day.
After the barbecue, I got home and lazed around a bit before hopping online to plan today's run. Weather forecast? Rain and thunderstorms all day today. 95 degrees and humidity tomorrow. Uh, not really running weather, and I do NOT want to do any long runs on the treadmill. I looked at the clock and saw that if I got out the door ASAP, I'd be able to fit in the run before the sun set. So I mapped out a 9.5-mile course on G-Maps Pedometer, grabbed some Gatorade, and set out. It probably wasn't the best idea considering I ran my fastest 5K two days earlier and biked a pretty fast-paced 8.5 miles in the morning. But, I had had about 4 glasses of Coca-Cola at the barbecue, and I think I was powered by the caffeine.
As I ran, I thought I was going much slower than I usually do, but the pace comes out to be 11:54 per mile, which isn't too bad, considering I was shuffling up some steep hills, which I never have to contend with on my long runs on the trail.
Because it was so late, I wore my reflective vest, so I didn't feel too pressured to go faster than I was comfortable with, nor did I feel pressured to cut it short (I had mapped it out so that I could cut off about a mile and head home early if I needed to). I didn't need to, and by the end, I experienced the same second wind feeling I had gotten at the end of last week's long run, where I had lots of breath and ended strong.
The 9.5 miles brings last week's mileage to...20.1 miles! That's the first time I've reached 20, and I hope to keep it between 20 and 25 regularly. Yesterday notwithstanding, I think I've been working up to it safely. (I admit I probably overdid it yesterday, although I'm feeling good today.) I think that the increased mileage is a large part of why my 5K time has improved so much. I'll just have to remember not to overdo it too much.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

It's like Christmas!

Distance: 5K
Time: 25:16.5
Pace: 8:07
Minutes faster than previous PR: 1:12

Tonight I jingled all the way home from the Christmas in August 5K. Not only did I have a great time, but I completely destroyed my last PR - beating it by a minute and 12 seconds! How's that for a Christmas present!

One of the fun things about the race (that is, if you don't have an aversion to Christmas music) is how far the theme is pushed. In addition to Christmas-themed awards, decorations, and music, the race organizer dresses up as Santa (red running tank and shorts and a white beard) and starts off the race by counting "Ho, Ho-ho, Ho-ho-ho".

After the success of my last race, I decided that I would enjoy this run instead of being a slave to the stopwatch, so when Santa yelled Ho-ho-ho, I didn't start out too fast, and I watched as what seemed like 90% of the group surged past me. I'm glad that I didn't get too discouraged by that and try and go faster, because I probably would not have been able to handle anything faster. Instead I kept the pace steady and smiled and noticed what a beautiful day it was. It was in the mid 70s with hardly any humidity. I couldn't have asked for a better day!

We ran for a mile through some paved trails in a state park and then onto a road which went steeply uphill for half a mile. Then we turned around and followed the same way back. I talked to some people I was running alongside, and one of the volunteers, who I recognize from a lot of the races in this area, commented that it was great to see me smiling.

I looked at my watch for the last time with just under a mile to go. I was extremely tired and could not catch my breath, so I just tried to maintain my pace and stay strong. I passed a few people, and increased the speed a bit when I got to where I could see the finish. A high-school cross country runner just ahead of me had a coach waiting for her before the home stretch to help get her pace up for the final sprint, and I debated if I should try and keep up with them. My feet were burning and I didn't know how much energy I had left, so I increased my pace, but not to a sprint. Another girl came sprinting up behind me, and I wanted to try and race her, but I really didn't have it in me to push harder, and I knew why when I saw the clock up ahead showing over a minute faster than my PR. I didn't surge, but still finished strong, and I am so excited to have improved so much. I had been so frustrated with the plateau I had reached, but that's far behind now. And, as a nice bonus, I placed 2nd in my age group and got a jar of delicious home-made strawberry preserves.

Like the last race a week and a half ago, I didn't set my expectations too high, and I had a great time and really boosted my confidence. I didn't expect much, but I came home with a new PR and exceeded my goal pace for the end of the summer. It's just like Christmas!

P.S. Thanks again to the support staff for enduring the music!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Beat the Librarian!

I can only say that this is awesome. I love the suit/shorts/Vibram Five-Fingers combination!

So I was goofing off during my break at work this morning looking up funny librarian t-shirts (With sayings like "Don't make me shush you", "Forget the books - check out your librarian, etc") when I found this "Run to your library" shirt:

I showed it to two of my co-workers, and they immediately said that it would be great for the running/walkathon fundraiser that they had been discussing. A run put on by my library as a fundraiser? Awesome! It turns out that, as the mediator between the Friends of the Library and the Library itself, I would be in charge of such an event, so I immediately set to work seeing if other libraries have held 5Ks, and I came up with the Collingswood Public Library's "Beat the Director" run coming up in September. Totally awesome. I see a "Beat the Librarian" run in my future (probably 2 years in the future, when our highly-anticipated new building should actually be in the process of becoming a reality).

So far this week my running consisted of an easy 5 miles on Sunday and an even easier 2.5 on Monday. I won't be doing any running today, because I've planned to run a "Christmas in August" 5K tomorrow. It should be fun!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

July recap

July Stats:
Running: 70 miles
Biking: 16.5 miles

Although I still have a way to go, this is a big increase in mileage from last month (June was 43 miles running, 5 miles biking). I almost made it to 20 miles last week if I hadn't had my tummy troubles. It ended up being just shy of 17 miles.
Yesterday I mailed my registration for my first 10K on September 12th, so I'll spend August working on increasing/keeping up the mileage. I'll probably cut out the hill repeats and speed workouts until the end of August or beginning of September. If I run on the road I'll encounter lots of hills anyway, so I won't be missing out too much.