No Expectations

Very rarely do things go according to plans. Like this winter’s training.

At the beginning of the year, I vowed that the coming months of running would be different from my sporadic bouts of running last winter. While I can say I have been pretty good at getting my miles in, they have definitely not been in the way I would have preferred.

For starters, mileage logged on the treadmill far surpasses the miles logged outside. I didn’t think this winter could tops last year, but I proved wrong. Several of our weekday workouts had to be cancelled due to ice and snow, leaving me to do speed and incline indoors. On days when it wasn’t cancelled, temperatures still hovered dangerously low; one of the few runs to go on as scheduled took place in the coldest conditions of (unofficial) Fleet Feet training history. Although I loathe the treadmill, my preference to retain feeling in my feet, fingers and nose convinced me that any evening workouts scheduled for sub-20 degree temperatures would be done indoors with a post-it note dictating my intervals (and subsequent looks from neighboring runners confused by my high speed sprints and constant adjustments to the incline).

Continue reading

How Runners Do Math

IMG_2375I have always been good at math. Despite what former Harvard President Larry Summers said about girls not being good at math, I outdid the boys and won my high school’s senior math award.

Like Cady Herron in Mean Girls, I’ve always liked math. Not so much because it’s the same in every country, but rather because I love that feeling of accomplishment when you come up with a solution to a difficult problem. You always know there will be answer, it’s just your job to figure out the best way to solve for it. Granted, I have not taken a math class since my freshman year at Georgetown, which was nothing like the challenge of 12th grade calculus, but I still enjoy channeling my nerd self with a good math problem.  Continue reading

A Modern (Running) Family

The hardest part these days of running is not the actual exercise. It’s the getting out of bed to do it.

After telling myself that this winter’s training would be different from my last and vowing to stick to my scheduled SLRs, I spent a morning nestled under my covers. Even before the morning came I had already turned off my alarm and decided that I was going to use my Sunday for my long run and bypass the typical Saturday routine. I expected much of my fellow crew runners to do the same in postponing their runs, but when I reunited with the group last week, I heard from those who ran 7-8 miles in temperatures struggling to break out of the teens. Several ran with frozen GPS watches that failed to track their brave feat on that icy, bitter morning.
IMG_1660 Continue reading

The Last Alarm

On Saturday morning my alarm rang for the last time at 6:25 A.M.

Since the end of the June, my alarm has gone off at the same time each Saturday morning. Only a few hours after most people my age go to bed after wild and crazy Friday nights, I woke up to do my own wild and crazy things.

At the beginning, it didn’t seem so crazy. Eight miles, ten miles; it didn’t sound so bad, Then it progressively got harder and harder. As the weeks passed, the temperatures also climbed with the mileage, By mid-August, SLR totals ranged in the middle teens. Waking up to run 14, 15 and 16 miles all before many of my friends even woke up became a common feat.

But even as the temperatures started to decline, the miles did not to do the same. So, like weeks past, I laced up my sneakers and headed to Fleet Feet for 16, 18 and 20-mile runs. But even with those runs successfully completed, this past weekend’s SLR might have been the hardest. Continue reading

Two. Zero.

I did it.

I crossed the threshold.

For the first time ever, I saw a two in the tens digit of my miles on my GPS watch. And it felt amazing.

There was plenty of anxiety building up to this run. While I had managed my 18-miler after a week in Vegas and no running, the looming 20 felt different: it signaled a point in my training that said if you can do 20, then you can run a marathon.

I have heard that 18 miles is when marathon runners start to hit the wall; mile 20 is when the wall begins to tumble down. At that point, only 6 miles remain before completion of a full marathon. Only 6 miles. If you can run 20, then those last remaining miles (apparently) are nothing.

So Saturday became the ultimate test: how would my legs handle three hours of nonstop running? The answer, amazingly well!

As I ran with two other women in my training group, we kept talking about how we had ten miles to go, and then only ten miles back. Only, only, only. We paced the first ten miles on the Capital Crescent Trail slightly above a 9 min/mile pace, then on the ten back, we revved up the pace and managed to average miles under nine minutes. Even with the infamous Calvert Hill to tackle in the final mile, we never slowed down. We kept moving and powered upwards, taking only a beat to stop at the peak before a green light signaled us to keep running across the street.

Everything was in our favor on Saturday. The sun, not yet up when we began the trek, opened itself through the clouds and shimmered through the trees of the trail we paced along. A rain shower from the evening prior left fallen leaves wet and scattered along the path. Though they didn’t crunch under our sneakers, their presence signified fall‘s official status. There was sweat, of course, but the cool air and the autumn breeze made it a picture perfect (cliche) day, made even better by what was achieved all before 1030 AM.
 In less than three hours we had completed 20 miles. The accomplishment another example of how you can surprise yourself with your strength and power. Here I am, a woman with a running career (if you can even call it that) less than two years old, and I have four half marathons and a 20-mile PDR under my belt, and in less than three weeks I will be running the streets, hills and sights of D.C. and Virginia en route to finish my first marathon.

On Saturday, I completed 20 miles; the next time I see a number that high on my watch will be October 26. I can barely contain the excitement.

One. Month.

IMG_1778.JPG30 days until the 2014 running of the Marine Corps Marathon.

26.2 miles on the course through D.C. and Virginia.

20-miler scheduled for next’s week Saturday long run.

13-mile run to transition into taper mode.

11 gatorade bottles taking up space in my fridge.

(sub) 7 minute mile, my fastest pace on the track this season.

6 pairs of running socks to choose from for each run.

4 longs run left to go.

3 more evenings at the track.

1 month to conquer.

Bring. It. On.