Friday, July 30, 2010

Highs and Lows

After the pleasant eight-mile run I had on Tuesday, Wednesday morning I plodded through a four-mile slog that was anything but. I felt as if I were wading through a swamp. My legs were heavy as stone. As the torture ground on, I descended into one of those self-doubting black moods we all have at one time or another. Does any of this sound familiar?
  • I don't know why I even bother.
  • I'm dying and it's only been two miles, how the hell am I going to run a marathon?
  • I'm never going to requalify for Boston if I don't improve, and FAST.
  • This is fucking stupid.
  • Maybe I should just downgrade to the half.
  • Fuck that, maybe I should just quit racing altogether.
  • I am pathetic.
  • I'm so fat.
  • I've got to get out of this funk.
  • Maybe I should just accept that I'm getting older and slower. Maybe 2009 was my last hurrah.
  • It didn't used to be this hard. What happened?
And so on.

I was plodding along around 3.8 miles in, desperately wanting this horrible run to END, when I came to a four-way-stop. I proceeded across the intersection, vaguely aware that a car had pulled up at the stop sign. Then I heard someone call out to me:

"Good job. Keep it up, young lady. Good job."

I looked over and there was an older gentleman in the car. I said, "Thank you!"

No, I didn't start running a 7:30 mile all of a sudden. However, it did lift my spirits a bit. I stopped slouching so badly and finished the run feeling slightly better about myself.

I opted to do my pace run today instead of taking my traditional rest day, thereby freeing up one morning of the weekend for other things. I was determined to get this one right. "Pace" means my marathon pace, 8:35/mile or less. I owned that bitch.

8:24, 8:12 (wtf?), 8:23, 8:24.

Same route, same mileage as Wednesday...but a full minute per mile faster. What's more, I felt great. I was running instead of plodding. Maybe there is hope for me and my second BQ quest after all.

The next time I run will be my 16-miler in the super awesome guest location. I can't wait!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

8 Before 8 Redux

Two years ago I wrote about running 8 miles before work for the first time. This morning I found myself back at it, having reached the point in my schedule where my midweek runs begin creeping up in duration. I wasn't especially thrilled about the prospect of dragging myself away from my comfy bed and cuddly cats at 5:30 am, but the shit must get done! I even went to bed at 10:00 pm to ensure I was rested.

We are far enough removed from the summer solstice that leaving the house before 6:00 am means the streets are dimly lit and more than likely the streetlights are still on. Soon enough I will have to start wearing my safety vest (and let's not even get into the coming cold weather and all the equipment required to survive it) . This morning, though, I stepped out into the cool blue predawn light unencumbered and ready to run.

Things rolled along smoothly and before I knew it I was already half done. The sun was just beginning to peek above the horizon and the clouds were glowing pink and orange. Shortly after mile 6 I was forced to make a pit stop at one of my emergency port-a-potties (the one at the high school athletic fields). I took the opportunity to walk through the dew-saturated grass. There was a blanket of mist draped over the untended meadow beyond the edge of the field and somewhere beyond the trees I heard a sandhill crane send its rattling call into the quiet air. A small flock of herring gulls shuffled through the wet grass away from me (making me long to be on vacation again, where those gulls are ubiquitous). It was a lovely, perfect morning for a run.

In two weeks my Tuesday run goes up to 9 miles, and two weeks after that to 10. I am steeling myself for getting up even earlier, but the alternative-- running after work-- is even more unpleasant. This summer has not been kind (unlike last year). It has been hot and humid consistently, and the temperatures in the afternoons have been dangerous and brutal. I have abandoned my Thursday evening running group until cooler temperatures prevail. Given the choice between running at 6:00 am when the sun is not up and it is a tolerable 60 degrees or running at 6:00 pm under blazing sun and a broiling 85 degrees...Yeah. Not much to debate there. After a couple of blissful nights of sleeping with the windows open and leaving the air conditioning off during the day, tomorrow it's going to be 90 degrees again.

I'll be running my five miles at 5:45 am, thankyouverymuch.

In other news, last week I was moping heavily because I was not on vacation any more. Luckily, something happened on Friday which was the perfect way to shake me out of my funk:

The Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival! I hit the festival around 6:30 pm just as a tremendous thunderstorm crashed down upon us. It cleared up eventually and my sweetie and I spent the next two hours cruising the festival and sampling a few of Michigan's finest microbrews. My favorites of the day were Old Hat Brewery Peanut Butter Stout (the only beer I had twice) and Arbor Brewing Company's Buzzsaw Massacre multiple-dry-hopped IPA. Good Lord, that was delicious. (Other notables: Corner Brewery Demetrius Barrel Aged Sour Double IPA, Right Brain Ancho Chile Chocolate Porter, and a bourbon barrel aged stout I can't remember the name of.) After 15 3- to 4-ounce samples everything started to blur together. The festival was closing down for the evening by then so we went and ate a huge amount of sushi for dinner. Amazingly I was up at 5:15 am Saturday morning as planned for my 10-mile run with the Redhead in East Lansing. After a post-run breakfast of fried egg on toast prepared by Spike, I returned home refreshed and recharged. As if the previous evening's beerstravaganza hadn't been enough, my sweetie and I hit Original Gravity Brewing in Milan for lunch and more brews.

In the fake living room set up near one of the serving tents at the festival.

On the schedule this weekend: 16 miles, possibly being run in a totally awesome place (to be revealed in a later post)!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

What Was I Really Doing on Vacation...?

I think this is a case of "a picture is worth a thousand words."

Wine and the beginnings of my epic tan

Beer (and fried shrimp and onion rings, YUM)

My last day there and a Cosmopolitan.

Oh, there was running, too. Quite a bit of it, actually. This was on the Cape Cod Rail Trail in Harwich, during my 13 miler my first day of vacation. I ran seven days in a row for a total of 40 miles. Throw in my 14 miler from this morning and that makes 54 miles in 9 days. I'm pooped.

There was lobster, too. That crustacean went DOWN.

I'm back in Michigan and not really looking forward to returning to cubicle world tomorrow. Such is the price one pays for being on vacation for 10 days. Was it really just a week ago I raised my glass of wine in the first picture? *sniffle*

It is unspeakably hot and humid here. I shudder at the thought of the coming weeks of training. Fortunately I have habituated myself to early morning runs, so rising before 6:00 am in order to take advantage of the coolest part of the day is not really an issue. Given the present conditions there is no other option for me. I begin coming unglued when the temperature hits 70. After 80 I'm all but useless. Throw oppressive humidity on top of that and you get something like the ghastly slog I had this morning: 14 miles of fucking torture. I was all right through mile 5 when there was a cool blanket of fog obscuring the sun. Then, that wretched orb burned through the mist, however, and I was trapped in a haze of heat and sweat and fatigue and hating every second of it. I made it to the grounds of a school near my parents' where I suspected there might be a port-a-potty (THERE WAS, THANK GOD). At that point I had made it about 10.5 miles and despite my mood I was not going to give up. I ran 2.5 miles on the track at the school and then the last mile on the road back to the house. I really hated running this morning. Not just running, as in the action verb, but running as in the activity itself. Sometimes I wonder what the hell I'm doing, why I continue to do this to myself when so often it makes me so ANGRY and TIRED and EXASPERATED...

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Tide is High

I am, at this very moment, sitting in a beach chair approximately three meters from the ocean. I have been watching a semipalmated sandpiper probe the sand for tasty morsels for the past 30 minutes. Industrious little bird.

The tide is coming in. If I sit here long
enough, it will wet my feet. Then I might have to move, which is not on my agenda for today, my last day on the Cape.

True, I did run 7.1 miles this morning, bringing my 7-day total to more than 39 miles. That's the most I've run in a
week since I was training for Boston three months ago. This morning's run almost didn't happen, as I nearly succumbed to last-day-of-vacation laziness, but in the end I strapped on my shoes and iPod and hit the road for what turned out to be the best run of the week. For the first time I wasn't felled by oppressive humidity and I felt as if I were running and not merely surviving. It was a fantastic way to cap my week at the beach.

I wish iBlogger had a photo upload feature because I would love to include a shot of my brown toes digging into the sand.

The ocean, glassy calm when I got up at 7:15, is now choppy and restless. Nevertheless I will be taking a plunge in a little while, to feel the salt water on my face one last time.

The surf is just a little bit closer now. Ocean, take me away...

Mobile Blogging from here.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thursday Thoughts: Tan and Rested

I'm still on vacation, though it is quickly and sadly drawing to a close. I will be departing Saturday morning.

In the meantime I am baking myself on the beach into an advanced state of brownness. Certain people who know me IRL, get ready to be shocked.

In conjunction with the roasting (and such roasting is taking place even with SPF 30 liberally applied every day), I am maintaining a high volume of adult beverage consumption befitting one who is on vacation. Yesterday I visited the brewery of Cape Cod Beer, purchased a growler of their IPA, and finished said container off today while enjoying my fried shrimp, fried clam, and onion ring lunch on the rental house deck overlooking the ocean. (Those of you who are my Facebook friend saw pictorial evidence of such.)

I have been liberally hitting the "mark all as read" button on my iPhone's Google Reader, meaning almost every single blog I subscribe to has been shoved unread into the discard heap. The only running blogs I have bothered to actually read this week have been those of the Redhead and Viper. There is too much sunning, reading of large books, and birdwatching to be done for me to be reading all of my usual blogs.

As far as running goes, I have run 32 miles in the past 6 days and I have 7 on the schedule for tomorrow. Today I did a tempo run, and pulled off an 8:16 mile without much trouble. That is a welcome development. For too long I felt as if my speed had deserted me. It's creeping back...slowly. Grand Rapids and my second BQ attempt await.

Now back to my vodka tonic...

Mobile Blogging from here.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Yo folks.

I'm not dead, I'm on vacation. And, yo, bitchez, this is some vacation. It may not quite approach the awesomeness of my trip to California last August (aka The Best Vacation Ever) but it is close.

I believe when I left y'all I was whining and complaining about the various obstacles life had thrown my way. Since then I am happy to report shit has straightened itself out. The last overly irritating thing to occur were the four fillings I had replaced on June 22, an episode which left me with an aching face and seven uninterrupted hours of reading accompanied by cats. When the pain became unbearable, I took two painkillers from my carefully hoarded stash and promptly passed out.

I also participated in the Green Mountain Relay for the second year in a row but that is a post for another time. Suffice to say I love all you guys (even if you are incapable of ever shutting the fuck up I'm looking at you M&M).

But for now I'm on vacation, getting obscenely tan and sitting here half drunk while the ocean breeze drifts through the open window. I'm training for marathon number 5, the Grand Rapids Marathon, and I ran 13 miles yesterday morning. Otherwise I'm sitting on my ass on the beach reading.

This is the life, folks.

Mobile Blogging from here.