Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Joan Benoit Samuelson wins Oklahoma City Memorial Half Marathon

The 1984 Olympic gold medalist, who is rewriting age group record books in her 50s, was a wire-to-wire winner with no serious challenger as she covered 13.1 miles in 1:21:57 on Sunday. She didn't break the age group American record of 1:19:40 this time.

"The victory today was nice for me personally, but more so, I am hopefully furthering the event’s inspiring message of resilience and hope," she stated.

From Runners World Racing News

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Shoot for the moon ...

ORN: 5 miles in 41:55, 73 degrees and muggy. This was Diane’s (a.k.a. Friend A) first run back since the marathon, and Eileen’s first since the half. We were slogging along.

Yesterday was 5 miles in 39:57, 82 degrees and muggy. Kelly ran the half over the weekend, too, her first.

I’m really excited for the half marathon we have coming up in June. In fact, I’m excited about running in general again. Not entirely sure why. Maybe because the weather is finally nice!

I’m following Pete Pfitzinger’s fifth mesocycle, a five-week recovery schedule I highly recommend ... so far. I’m in my 30 mile week, and it continues to step up over the next four weeks, capping at 50. That’s perfect, since then I’ll have one more week then a taper for the half. And then ... of course, right back into it.

This morning I read a brief bio about Priscilla Welch. She started running at age 34, ran her first marathon in 3:36 ... and went on to win New York at age 42, and held a PB and master’s WR at 2:26:51. Within eight years.

So the question I keep kicking around is, can I do that? I saw a friend’s dad today who made me think of it all again. He was in Boston last year when his daughter and I both ran the marathon, and all of us watched the Olympic Trials the day before. That was where I decided I wanted to qualify for the trials and was willing to work my butt off to do it.

Of course, this was one day before my second marathon. Boston kicked my butt. I sobbed over lunch, partly out of exhaustion and partly out of despair. I worked hard to get ready for Boston that year, and PR’d by a mere minute. That did not seem like enough forward progress to get where I wanted to go.

But my friend’s dad came in and congratulated me on this year’s Boston — nearly 16 full minutes faster than last year’s — and said he was happy to see I was still on track.

Can I really drop another 30 minutes — almost a minute per mile — in the next two years? Yikes. Sounds scary, but I did drop 15 minutes in one year ... So maybe?

Only one way to find out.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Derby Festival races recap

I spent a large chunk of my Saturday on various parts of the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon/miniMarathon course. I shuttled three friends to the start line -- two of them were running their first half, the other just her second. We spent 10 minutes in line for a bathroom, jogged and got them into their corral.

It was already 70 degrees and sunny when the gun went off at 7:30.

I watched for people I knew come across the start line, clapped and yelled and whatnot, then jogged/walked (I had a backpack and wasn’t in a hurry) to my next stop. The course has about a three-mile loop before coming back near the start, then catching a 5k loop through Iroquois park and going back across the start.

So I caught everyone at about mile 6 — it’s fun spectating at my hometown race, because I felt like I knew everybody! And several of them even had congratulatory words for me about Boston, since they hadn’t seen me since. Everyone was looking awesome. After that, I jogged back to my car about a half mile away, made a pit stop at my apartment, and headed for mile 16 of the marathon route.

Miles 15-18 are in Cherokee Park, which is hilly and lacking in crowd support. This year seemed better than last, at least. I had two friends to catch at 16, making sure they were doing okay and trying to boost their spirits.

The weather was about 80 at that point; I knew my friends wouldn’t be feeling too good. It was interesting to see two different tactics at play: Friend A was in 3:30 shape and decided to just go for renewing her 3:40 BQ. Friend B was in at least 3:15 shape and went out for his 3:10 BQ.

At mile 16, Friend A was gamely hanging on to her goal, and Friend B was quickly falling apart. Ran with both of them a little ways, and on the way back to my car, took a trail that resulted in a surprisingly gnarly gash on my leg. It involved a stick protruding from my calf. I mean, not a big stick, but any time something is sticking out of my leg, I worry.

Early this year, I promised Friend A I would run the bridge portion of the marathon with her, which starts at 22 miles and lasts through 24.5. Initially I planned to pull off the course around 26 and let her finish on her own, but it just wasn’t going to work today. Friends A and B actually caught each other on the bridge. Friend B had decided he was pretty much just going to walk the last four miles. Friend A was still being tough, although she started to waver.

At about 22.5, coming across the bridge, Friend A tells me she can’t do it, and stops. I pause, look at her, and say, “Oh, you’re not. You’re at least walking. It’s too late now.” She starts jogging again, albeit slowly, and only tries to throw up once, around mile 23. We’re going about 11 minute pace, not good considering she does her long runs at 7:30. Yikes. I’m babbling at her, just trying to keep her distracted -- she doesn’t remember any of the things I told her.

At about 23.5, we come past a hotel. I’m about a yard ahead of Friend A at this particular moment (this is right after the dry-heaving moment, so a yard ahead is safe territory), and a man in a Volvo is on the other side of the street about to cross into the hotel lot. Only one side of the street is blocked off, but it’s clearly blocked with cones for blocks, indicating there’s something going on. So this guy decides to turn into the hotel between me and my friend, which I figure out just as I go by his bumper.

I stop. I take two steps backward and stand in front of his car until she gets past. He’s not happy. I yell at him and give him the finger, then jog away. I mean, really? WTF.

I knew if she had to stop for this idiot, I might not get her started again. We keep going, trudging along toward our return trip on the bridge. We pass the 24 mile marker on the bridge, see the “You Go Girl” graffiti again (saw it on a training run last month), see her mom, and make our second to last turn at mile 25.

Now, here’s were things got funny. She looked so rough that I didn’t want to leave her until she was across the finish, so I was sticking through the end. With about .75 of a mile left, we were passed by a not-so-dainty older woman in flame shorts and matching sports bra. The gauntlet was down. We had dropped to about 10 minute pace after pacing the 25 mile marker, and now my poor Garmin couldn’t even keep up with my friend’s acceleration. We were down in the 7:30 range as we crossed 26 (we passed aforementioned inspiration within 200 meters), and she cranked 6:45 pace for the last two tenths. She finished in 3:50, 10 minutes off BQ and 12 minutes off her PR set on this course last year. It’s incredible what the heat can do, because I trained with her through both those marathons and know what kind of shape she’s in.

Then we sat in the med tent until she stopped feeling nauseous. And they were kind enough to clean and patch my war wound.

Friend B finished about 10 minutes later. It was 85 degrees. Some people dropped out of the marathon, a lot of people finished, and no serious injuries were reported.

Friend A and I are both going to run Sunburst Half Marathon June 6, and it’s looking like the Marshall University Marathon Nov. 1. If you’ve run either of those, would love opinions.

Post Scriptum: Congrats (again) to other finishers of these races: Justin, Kelly, Eileen, Craig, Ed, Mom, Robin, and a zillion others!

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Comeback Tour

Four days since the marathon. Tuesday I spent did some final Boston touristing since coach had never been, and spent most of the day traveling from one place to another. (Van to train. Train to North End. Train back. Van to hotel to get luggage. Van back to airport. Different van to different airport. Airport to airport to airport to home!)

Wednesday though, I took some friends on the previously mentioned labyrinth run. It was a slow four miles -- around 8:20 pace. I had a massage that morning which greatly, greatly reduced the ache in my legs. But I was definitely not spunky. I was very happy to run with my crew again!

Thursday everything started to click back into pace. I went for 5.6 miles, starting off slow and accidentally picking it up each mile. I was just easing into a pace that felt comfortable -- too slow is inefficient and my body balks. We started at 7:50 pace, then went 7:36, 7:40, 7:28, 7:25. Whoopsie-daisy.

I’m following a Pete Pfitzinger post-marathon plan. It’s five weeks long and designed to ease you back into training.

Today is a rest day, whoo-hoo. Tomorrow I’m going to get in seven miles, most of which will come from running with friends along the marathon course. Speaking of, good luck: Justin, Diane, Kelly, Eileen, Craig, Ed, and everybody else!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Labyrinth Run

I’m a pretty pragmatic person. It may just be that I’m getting cynical in my old age, but I don’t really buy into religious, ethereal, fluffy stuff.

But this isn’t a post about my own spiritual leanings and whatnot, it’s a post about a really awesome run.

In December, right before the Memphis Marathon, Coach Chad asked if I wanted to go on the “mystical mojo run.” His cross country team does this loop before the state meet, and I get the impression Chad has done it more times than that. So I agree, curiosity being a major motivating factor for me in most decisions.

The run ended up being on a really cold day, and with me, Chad and two fast Bellarmine University runners. I started getting nervous about my impending butt kicking. All I really knew was that it was a 10k loop that was intended to mentally prepare you for racing.

Turns out, unbeknownst to me even though I’ve run past it a million times, there’s a labyrinth hidden up on Alta Vista, just outside of Cherokee Park near Big Rock.

Quite frankly, it doesn’t matter how you get to it. It’s about 4 miles from the bathrooms at Seneca Park round trip.

The idea is to run up to the labyrinth and walk through it while thinking about your training and your plans for the race. You do the walk slowly, because this is reflection and preparation time. Then you run back.

It’s incredibly zen. The route includes beautiful scenery; the seminary is quiet and peaceful.

To get there: take Alta Vista or Maple to Barr Road. The labyrinth is just the left of the gate entrance.

Boston - Things I forgot

- German guy in a blond pig-tailed wig and Hooters waitress outfit. Ran past him at about 10k.
- Team Hoyt, on their way to their 1,000th race finish, at about 18 miles
- Girl to whom I’ve sold shoes, at Athlete’s Village in Hopkington
- Desiree Davila out for an easy jog on Sunday (I guess she was just to hang out)
- Bart Yasso signing autographs
- Bill Rodgers walking to his hotel
- Adidas billboard near finish: “All that’s left to do is make history.”

Boston Race Report

Alarms start going off in our hotel at 4:45 a.m. Monday. Quick showers, grab gear, head out. To get to the race start, Chad and I have to take a shuttle to the subway, then take the subway to another bus that will take us to the start. We’re out of the hotel by 6, on the second bus by 7.

The efficiency of the Boston Marathon should be noted and celebrated: hundreds of school busses lined Boylston by the commons; runners were loaded in and sent on their way in less time than seemed possible.

But the bus ride is very long. When you sit on a bus for over an hour, the idea of running all the way back starts to seem pretty daunting. And the bus was cold. The weather was holding in the low 40s that morning, but since the sun wasn’t up yet (yikes), that was okay. A 10 a.m. start time is a strange thing.

We finally make it to Hopkington at a little after 8. First stop is the bathrooms, which probably took 20 minutes. I sit down and get my chip and bib on, throw on my headphones and start mentally getting ready.

Pre-race song list: Beyonce - Diva, Ludacris - Move Bitch, DJ Unk - Walk it Out, Dashboard Confessional - Reason to Believe.

I start shedding layers -- not much fun considering the temperatures and my race outfit of sports bra and split shorts. My bag goes into the bus (crossing my fingers my iPod, phone and cash all meet me at the finish), and I head for another bathroom stop.

I make it to the start a little later than I wanted, starting with the 8000s instead of my 7000s. Figure the bathroom stop will be well worth it, since I would have had to stop during the race instead. Since it’s chip timed, going to the bathroom before and starting late doesn’t hurt my time -- but stopping in the race would.

Going across the painted start line gives me a little thrill. Here I am, in Boston, running the marathon. The weather is good, my training has gone well -- now all I have to do is run well for less than 3.5 hours and I’m finished.

My loose plan for this race was to go easy until the half, around 7:20 pace, then try to pick it up after that. I wanted to run easy through the downhills, trying to preserve my legs for the hills towards the end.

Miles 1-5: 7:39, 7:24, 7:19, 7:17, 7:29. (5k split 23:17)

The first four miles are steeply downhill, and I was packed in pretty tight. No reason to try jetting down the road shoulder to go faster, just settling in for a long trip back to Boston. I notice I’m sweating by the two mile marker. I’m pretty much on pace, or at least close enough, and I tuck in behind two girls who look about my age and speed. I don’t talk to them, but being behind them keeps me from trying to pass people ahead of me the whole time.

Miles 6-10: 7:21, 7:13, 7:21, 7:17, 7:21. (10k split 46:20)

This is still feeling okay, I’m happy with my choice of apparel. I chuck my gloves a little before the 10k point. It’s probably 50 by now, but the wind hasn’t started to pick up yet. I see Alicia Heyne, another Louisville runner. She’s a few yards ahead of me, I call hello, she waves and keeps going. “Hm, guess she doesn’t want to run together,” I think to myself. I’m loving the crowd and looking forward to the halfway point and the tunnel of sound that is Wellesley College.        

Miles 11-15: 7:31, 7:17, 7:22, 7:31, 7:33. (HM split 1:37:20)

Here we go through a couple small hills, but any hill is big in a marathon. Just past mile 12, you can here the girls of Wellesley screaming -- from a mile away. Running through there is incredible, kisses or no. The energy is amazing. But shortly after the halfway point, my stomach starts doing weird things, and I start thinking about throwing up. The internal debate is, stop and puke versus slow down and not puke. I opt for the later, not wanting to dehydrate myself by throwing up. I back off a little and brace for the hills.

Miles 16-20: 7:31, 7:56, 7:54, 7:37, 7:36.

Ouch. There’s a few little hills they don’t mention that lead into the bigger ones. Pretty big one at 17 (obviously), and I’m still thinking about throwing up. I’m pretty miserable, but I let the fans carry me along and hope my stomach settles. This is the worst section for me mentally every marathon anyway, so I’m just trying to hang in there.

I see Alicia again at 20. She’s starting to struggle. NOW she wants to chat. I talk to her for a few minutes; we relish that there’s only a 10k left. Her sister is supposed to be watching right around the area, but I don’t see her. I hope Alicia did. She was fading and I was starting to pick up steam.

The winds, by the way, are picking up. Cups are blowing all over the place at the water stations.

Miles 21-26: 7:45, 7:18, 7:27, 7:15, 7:09, 7:06.

Hello Heartbreak Hill. Long time no see. I drag myself up to the top -- I don’t walk, even though I see a lot of people doing so. I congratulate myself with a little fist pump at the top, no joke. Cresting that hill is what I needed to get back in the game.

In these miles somewhere -- I was starting to lose track of where I was -- some BU friends yell for me and so does my friend Chris, whose girlfriend was running too. I start passing people, pushing a little, trying to keep my legs from giving in. I’m dragging myself from water stop to water stop, pretty sure I won’t PR but knowing I would be pretty close to my time from Memphis.

Up one last hill at Fenway park, knowing I’m nearly finished but that there’s still a mile to go ... I try to speed up but there’s not much left, but still, I’m passing people like crazy, which is a good feeling. I hook the right-hand turn onto Hereford Street, which is a short, steep hill, then the left onto Boylston. The crowds are roaring, there’s just 400 meters between me and the arches at the finish. I got down to 6:15 pace in the final bit, but it took a lot.

Just 68 seconds slower than Memphis. Had wanted a PR but it wasn’t my day for one. I make a new friend in the finish chute, which gave me someone to talk to while we gathered our mylar blankets, gave up our chips in exchange for medals, tracked down our gear bags and in general, shuffled to our families and friends.

I find Chad at the “Q” section of the family meeting area, and I’m freezing. My teeth are chattering. I’ve pulled on pants and a sweatshirt to no avail. We head for a friend’s hotel, where the hotel security guard offers me a couple of towels to use as blankets. I find a heater to sit on eventually, but then we still have to make our way across town to our hotel. Sigh. It was nippy out, with the storms moving in.

Alright, this is getting ridiculously long. Will post separately about general thoughts on the race and the trip overall later!

Official time: 3:16:16
Female: 335/9302 (top 3.6 percent!)
Overall: 3891/22849 (top 17 percent)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Sorry I forgot to post, ah, all last week. Running isn't very exciting right now, since I'm in taper mode. Just 45 miles last week and not even that many this week.

Less than a week to go. Guess that means it's time for an obligatory reflective post. This training cycle I let somebody else design my program for the first time. Coach Chad Waggoner, a sub-3 marathoner and Trinity High School coach, put together my schedule. Not to say I followed it exactly ... but hey, I stuck to it pretty closely. He's been greatly supportive and doesn't let me get myself down.

January was so-so, a lot of good days but probably more off days than I should have taken. Especially at the end of the month when the ice storm hit, and I just couldn't find the will to slog through ice. This is also when I found out the treadmill destroys my IT band.

February was much more solid, only three days off and strong long runs on three of the four weekends. I really hit my stride in March, one day off before the 15k. Three 20+ runs and the other weekend was a 17.

I'm feeling ready. Ready for what exactly, I don't know, and like they say in "Once A Runner," "It's bad time to put your mouth on times your feet can't reach."

It's an important race -- every marathon is -- because of everything that goes into it. Running when you don't really want to, going to bed early on weekends, collapsing in your yard after a perfect 20 miler ...

Many props to my training pals, probably the best support group a gal could have: Diane, Rebekah, Eileen, Kelly, Steve and Dave. The people who don't run with me often but who I know are backing me up: Guy, Justin S., Justin B. and my family.

So going into this, I'm reminding myself this race is not "the" race. I'm already planning another marathon in the fall. Keep my eye on the prize and do the best I can.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

"It's over!"

(Please read headline in voice of Teen Girl Squad from Homestar Runner.)

Ran 18 miles today. Great run. Guess my body just wanted this week to heal up some. Nothing hurt, nothing was bad -- I have zero complaints about today's run.

If you need a visual to accompany my report, here you go.

Diane talked me into starting at 8, even though we usually start at 9 on Sundays and I was hella sleepy when I got up at 7. Our plan was to run part of her upcoming marathon course, the part that crosses over the Second Street Bridge. You get to the base of the bridge at about 22.5 miles, then it's a long uphill, back down, a little loop around the base of the bridge, then back across. N.B.: yours truly is scared of bridges. It was an interesting portion of the run. Diane said she would see me speed up, check my Garmin, slow down for a few steps then speed back up. Oops.

It was a really well-executed run -- nice and hilly in the beginning, since we went from Seneca Park through Indian Hills to River Road. Then down River Road to downtown Louisville, across the bridge, back down Main Street, then the bike path back to Cherokee Park. Then directly to Panera for sandwiches!

The weather was even compliant; sunny and 46 at the start but close to 60 at the end. It could have just stayed around 50, but oh well. And my shins don't hurt at all, knock on wood.

Taper time!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Just totally unnoteworthy

Running this week was not particularly exciting. Still dealing with some shin pain; hopefully just residual race tear. Got in a slow 9 miles on trails on Tuesday, then 11 miles Thursday with 4.5 miles of tempo -- but most of the other days were ugly. I did mostly trails trying to baby this shin, so my pace was atrocious. I did get gloriously muddy on several occasions though.

Last long run is tomorrow ... 18 miles. Then I can take a break - sort of.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Race report - Heart Mini 15k

Much to everyone in Louisville's confusion, a "mini marathon" is not necessarily a "half marathon." Sunday I headed to Cincinnati for my first race since Memphis. I decided to just drive up that morning, so that I could sleep in my own bed and save money, so I was on the road at about 7:30 a.m. ... gotta love a 10 a.m. race start! I had a coffee, a donut, some poptarts, a bottle of water and a bottle of gatorade with me. Most of those were consumed en route.

Got to the parking garage at about 9 a.m., watching everyone walk around the pickup area in tights and jackets. "Crap," I thought to myself, "I hope I'm not the only fool in shorts." My current philosophy is that if it's too cold for shorts, it's too cold to race. Granted, I wore shorts and short sleeves in Memphis and it was 35, so the bar is pretty high.

I had resigned myself to the weather; when I arrived it wasn't awful. Mid-40s, occasional drizzle. I had packed short sleeves and a singlet, plus my shorts. And gloves.

Inside, I scooped up my packet, along with a rare creature: a race shirt that fits. When they handed it to me, I was worried it would be too small. It looked tiny -- probably because it was a youth small. It fits perfectly. Go figure.

At 9:15 I was back in my car, heater running, pondering my warmup options. I had a running jacket and warmup pants, but couldn't decide if I wanted to warm up in those and come back and sit in the car for a few and change, or if I wanted to ditch everything and and warmup just before the start. I opted for the later.

I listed to a litany of obnoxious songs that make me want to run fast: Drop it like it's hott (Snoop), Walk it Out (DJ Unk), Ole Ole, etc. I put my tag on my flats, pinned my bib to my shorts, and locked up the car at about 9:40. I jogged over to the convention center, hit the bathroom, did some strides inside where it was warm, then jogged outside some more.

Had a hard time getting to the front of the start, so guess I should have warmed up earlier. They had seeded spots, but nothing about them on the website, and the female seed standard was 57 minutes anyway. Yeah right.

Mile 1: 6:20. Totally uphill through the first half mile or so. Nice overpass bridge. Weather crappy. Too fast. Pull self back under control.

Mile 2: 6:44. Right on pace. Water stop at mile 1.5, the 5k turnaround from earlier that morning. Really loud stereo. I hate running past speakers. Makes my head want to explode. Nice view of the river.

Mile 3: 6:34. Fast? Slow? These middle distances (10k/15k/HM) kill me. Trying to settle in. 5k in 20:16.

Mile 4: 6:37. Better. Nice hill thrown in here. Approaching turnaround, always fun to navigate. This race has two! Count seven girls ahead of me, so I figure I'm in the top ten, but you don't always know for sure.

Mile 5: 6:40. Back up the hill we came down as we approached turnaround. Getting to see runners still coming in.

Mile 6: 6:48. Hill from HELL. Goes up about a quarter mile so steep you can touch the ground in front of you, whips around the second turnaround at the mile marker. Wind getting nasty. 10k in 41:04 (a new PR).

Mile 7: 7:05. Then you go back down the hill, and up a really long one. At this point the wind is so hard I can't breathe or see. Catch girl in front of me who looks totally spent. Stay with her for a bit.

Mile 8: 6:46. Wind still terrible, hills still terrible, I'm starting to be miserable but it's almost over. Encouragement gained when crossing chip mat at mile 8.3 -- they give awards for the fastest final mile. It's a good reminder there's just one stupid mile left.

Mile 9: 6:57. Back up the huge hill from the race's beginning. This one hurts. My calves are screaming, the wind is blowing me backwards, and I'm ready for it to be over. 2:09 for the .3 - not much of a kick. Chip timed to 6:40 for the last mile (seventh fastest final female mile).

Finish time 62:40, 6:45 pace, ninth female overall. Somewhat encouraged that the seed time was 57 but the weather was so rough only the first-place girl ran that fast -- she ran 57:30. I'm happy, had gone in hoping to run anywhere between 6:30 and 7 pace, so I was about dead middle. Think better weather and I could have ran faster for sure. But, all things considered, for that course on that day, it was a good performance.

Flats worked out well, no owies. A little dinged up overall post-race, but that's to be expected. Other updates to come later.