Monday, July 31, 2006

Too hot

Here in DC, it's only 95 today, with tomorrow and Wednesday being 100, while it's going to cool off Thursday to about 98.

So I am going to spend the last week before I head out west running on the treadmill. Whee!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

"Just don't break anything!"

Soccer season starts up in about a month. Our captain is trying to organize some practices, so he sent out a list of prospective dates and asked people to vote yes/no on each day in the list. For the date of Saturday, August 26, I said I was unavailable because I'm going skydiving with the Young Professionals group from work. Our captain writes me back and says, "Just don't break anything! Chrissy already did that." Apparently two weeks before the end of the spring season, one of the girls on our team went skydiving and fractured her ankle. Oops.

It's probably good that I'm jumping out of a plane and falling 10,000 feet after our race. I don't expect to hurt myself, but then again, no one ever expects the Spanish Inquisition.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Elevation Training, woo!

First things first: after typing the first "e" in this post's title autocomplete gave me one possible completion: "Ed man! Man ed!" So apparently on some message board I've made a post with that title. Anyone that can tell me who I ripped off that title from wins 10,000 points.

Second, I just did some elevation training in the Sierra Nevadas. Ended up running probably around 10 or 11 mostly-flat miles (uncertainty is due to how many times I got lost and ran up and down random hills at the beginning of the run trying to find some logical trail). I realize that running once at elevation doesn't really provide much training, it won't quiet the pain. But it will give me some rough idea of what the pain will be like. Some observations:

- I really, really have no sense for how far and fast I'm running. At all. It doesn't help that I don't wear a watch. Neither does unfamiliarity with elevation. Pace was somewhere between six and seven minutes per mile, and that's all I really know, other than that I was running slightly faster than the traffic on the road was moving on my way back. That was really my motivation as I was starting to really feel tired, "I have to catch that red convertible with the dog hanging out the window".

- The trail was sandwiched between a road (which was suffering from major congestion) and a river. After getting back I went down to the river to get my feet wet. There were rafters on the river. One of them was a kid that couldn't have been much over 10 or 12 (it was definitely an even number of years, he could have been a small 14-year old) holding a can of Coors Light. Wrong mountains, kid. What he should have been holding was a bottle of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Mmmm, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

- Some automatic-transmission cars occasionally do this thing called "downshifting" when you stomp on the gas to pass someone or, say, get up a huge mountain instead of rolling back down like Calvin Butterball after he ran out of gas (again, 10,000 points for identifying the reference). Mine isn't one of them. The transmission just sits there in fourth sticking its tounge out at the engine. So that's what the "3", "2" and "1" settings are for. I really have to learn to drive stick. With an automatic I averaged 38MPG for the trip (no, I am not one of those fancy-pantses with a trip computer, I am a dork that likes to do math in my head to break the monotony of freeway driving), so with a manual I probably could have broke 40, which is always exciting.

- I cannot stress how much I regret not bringing my bike for some post-run riding. Although if I would have left it out on the rack and someone had stolen it while I was out running (I could lock it to the rack, but you could just remove the whole rack off the car and take it back to your lair if you were determined... my bike isn't worth that much effort, but unfortunately it looks very similar to other bikes that are) I would have regretted that even more.

- At a used CD shop up in the mountains I bought three albums: Van Morrison's "Moondance", Hüsker Dü's "Zen Arcade" and Modest Mouse's "The Moon and Antarctica". That's a reasonably eclectic mix, but I think I could do better.

Another reason why I hate treadmills...

I have been posting like a fiend lately! Well, I am posting again today because I just got back from the gym and I am mad. So I have been trying to do multiple runs within 24-hour periods. So last night I did 4 miles and this morning 5 (both would have been longer runs if the heat index hadn't been above 100). I decided to do another 5 miler at the gym today on the treadmill, escaping the heat and all. But the treadmill bores me to tears, even with the TV. So I do hill intervals. Fun times!

Anyways, what happens is that in the resting period between "hills" when the treadmill goes back down to 0%, I usually end up crowding the front of the treadmill since I am still sort of pushing as if I was running uphill. Today, about three miles into the run, it went back down to 0%, I crowded the front, and my hand whacked the "STOP" button. This is not the first time this has happened to me. And it drives me crazy! The hill routine has a long warmup period, so getting back into it is not a trivial matter. Yeah, yeah, I am totally Whiney McWhine-a-lot today.

Well, on the plus side, the fact that I am doing three runs within in a 24 hour period means that my hamstring is doing amazingly better. I really think that my massage therapist Susan must sacrifice goats or something to get magical powers. Last fall when I had my calf issues, I think if I had gone to her when the problem started, instead of seeing the doctor and physical therapist, that I could have still run Chicago. Apparently the hamstring problem is more in the back of my knee, so she worked that pretty well and, since she worked on it, I have mostly been running with only minor achiness. I mean, I still feel it when running up hills but my hamstring is no longer spasming when I run. So there is hope! But I am still slow as molasses - my fastest pace since I returned from being away has been 10:32. Even in FL I was running 10 minute miles. I am not sure what the heck is up with this. I am shifting blame as much as possibly and saying it is because of the heat. Yeah, the heat. That sounds convincing... It surely can't be me being lazy!

Let's get it started in here

So we have our starting time: 6:30am

That means our butts have to be at the start at 5:30am. Fun times!

Anyways, Teresa will be starting us off with 7 other teams. Sort of weird to have a start with only 8 runners. We are right in the middle of the Flatlander pack with four teams starting before us and four teams starting after us. Another Flatlander team, the Sunflower Striders, starts with us, so will have to make sure we take them down early :-) There are lots of secluded running areas to accidentally trip another runner where no one else will see it - it will be our word against theirs :-) Of course, I jest. My mad hill running skillz (*cough**snort*) will ensure that we stay ahead of them :-) But really, are we gonna let a bunch of Kansans beat us? I have particularly bad memories of Kansas, so I say "I think not!"

We also start with 5 Ultra (6x6) teams -6 Pack Attack, Have Shoes Will Travel, Meet The Fartleks, Runnin' For The Rio - Again!, and Will Run For Snacks. Hehe, so we can all be impressed as we send Teresa off with 5 people who intend to run twice as far as us. Crazy people!

Since I have mentioned Teresa twice already in this post, I am going to recreate the conversation we had last week. Note that Teresa just got back from spending six months in Australia.

Danielle: So, are you still going to wear a cowboy hat the entire time like you said?
Teresa: Well, a dingo ate my cowboy hat.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Pity parties really aren't that much fun...

So I just got back from my run, which is why I had to whine about my hamstring, but then I thought "Dude, quit yer bitching. It's boring." So I am going to bury my last post with team info, since now we have a team! Yay! For those five people who aren't on our team who read the blog, our running lineup is:

1 Teresa
2 Shaun
3 Laurie
4 Chrissy
5 Mark
6 Joe
7 Al
8 Jessica
9 Pete
10 Melissa
11 Danielle
12 Lisa

When I recruited Al, I neglected to tell him that it would be great if he would run 9 miles with a 1600+ ft incline. That's what he gets for running 36 min 10ks and admitting that he was already hill training :-) So we all have to be extra nice to Al :-)

One of the perks of being captain is that I assigned myself an easy leg :-) You know, the hamstring and all... Plus, I am one of the slowest on the team anyways...

Team stats in case anyone cares:
Our average 10k pace is 8:08 min/mile. Addng Al and Shaun (who runs as fast as Al) to the team did a lot for a team average :-) But who the heck knows what it will be running up hills at altitude? All part of the fun my friends, all part of the fun...

6 of us are from Iowa, 2 from Toronto, 1 from Nebraska, 1 from DC, 1 from California, 1 from Boston... Although I shouldn't say "from" as apparently most of us are actually transplants as I am finding out when practically none of you actually have licenses with your current addresses on them. Don't you know you are supposed to change it within a month?! You're just making my life difficult with proving your Flatlander status (please bring a bill or something with your current address if your license doesn't have it!) You should all run out and get new licenses solely for the purpose of this relay gosh darnit!

Less than three weeks! How many exclamation points are acceptable in a post!?!

I hate my hamstring and I hate the world!!!

So the universe is evil. I have spent the last two months stressing out abour filling the team and making sure we had volunteers. In less than a week, all that got miraculously finalized and I was finally not stressing out about this relay and could start thinking about how fun it would be. w00t!

And then this week, my hamstring has been throbbing. Even when I am sitting down doing nothing. Stealing a word from Lisa's blog, I had a positively craptastic run tonight. My first mile? 11:26. I don't run this slow. I mean, my last mile at the marathon was faster than this. I was going to run 7 miles, but decided that if my hamstring is spasming while I run, I should cut it short. So I only did 5 miles. It took me 55:36. 6 weeks ago, I was running 5 miles almost 10 MINUTES FASTER THAN THIS.

So now, instead of stressing about getting people to run with us, I am stressing about if I will be able to run. No, that is a lie. I will run this thing no matter what. But I might suck majorly. I am mostly worried about my first leg, which is 5 miles at 2% grade. Before the hamstring problem, my main concern was just that I would be gasping for air the entire time... but I am going to feel that hammy every single step I take uphill.

Tomorrow I have a massage scheduled - I am hoping Susan can work her voodoo magic and help that hamstring out. She does something to my butt that just makes that hamstring go "ahhh, I can loosen up now" (or that is what I imagine it would say if hamstrings could talk).

Sunday, July 23, 2006

To be one of the cool kids...

I realized during my run this evening that 4 of us on the team are really just that much more special than the other 8 of you. Teresa, Al, Lisa, and I will all, 3 times each during the course of the race, have the full complement of 11 teammates cheering us on as we either complete or start a leg. The rest of you poor bastards just have to suffer with your five van-mates. I sort of feel sad for you. You won't feel the glory that we will when we have over twice as many people cheering for us as you do. It's good to be a cool kid.

Everyone getting excited?

Just under three weeks till race day! Is everyone getting excited?

This race serves dual purpose for me, since it will be the first time I've taken off from work since Christmas. I fly out to Denver two weeks from Monday to hang out there for a few days. It should be excellent.

Ok, so show of hands, who's ready to go??? :)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Hi Everyone!

Hi, I'm Al; as I understand it I'm the newest member of the team.

I'm a 22-year old software engineer living in the sprawling mess that is Silicon Valley (from birth until a month ago I lived in Illinois).

My favorite running spot that I've found so far in the valley is Rancho San Antonio.
My favorite running spots in Illinois are the Illinois Prairie Path and the Mahomet Trails, the latter being the best paths from a pure running perspective that I've ever seen; one of the few places that I don't mind having to run a couple laps around to get a suitably long run (I ran enough repeated laps around parks in high school for five people's lifetimes, and have avoided multiple-lap runs ever since).

And I'm a four-year veteran of the River to River Relay, which is sort of like this race divided by 3.

I look forward to meeting all you guys in Colorado!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Mad Heroin

So I'm back in the midwest after a long hot week in central Florida where we yet again assaulted two unsuspecting rivers with Rhodamine dye (I'll point out that the post title is an anagram of Rhodamine, just so I don't seem like a freak :-)). Parts of my heels are still fluorescent pink! I was going to put the picture of me holding the juvenile alligator that the state biologist caught right before we injected the dye, but like most people on the internet, I am vain and I don't think the picture is very flattering, so my dye stained feet will have to suffice :-)

Anyways, I never would have known I was back north, considering the temperatures up here are just as miserable. I did actually run twice while I was down in FL. I think if I searched for the exact opposite place of the Rocky Mountains to run, Florida would probably win - flat as heck and every breathe felt like a drink of water.

So only three weeks and a bit left until we run our asses over the pass! And... we are still two people short. We have a solid ten (meaning they paid me or the money is in the mail), but we need to fill those two last slots. I am giving it until Monday and then I will call on my non-Flatlander friends. I would be sad to drop out of the Flatlander category, but I think it would be better than running the relay short. So use this week to beg your friends!

El Capitan signing off...

Thursday, July 13, 2006

ich bin ein midwester

I've been reclaiming my midwest roots for the past week, visiting my parents in Illinois until it's time to head out into the Wild West. Since it's hot as F&%*k out here (I guess it's hot as F&%*k in Toronto, too, but whatever), and my mom has lots of guest passes to her highfalootin fancy-pants gym, I've been getting my run on on a treadmill, like a total suburban wimp. Treadmills with DVD players.

But it's ok, because I recently read Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose, and now I'm rather obsessed with it, and I can watch the entire miniseries at the gym, while all the little suburban girls watch MTV.

The first episode, where they run up the mountain all the time, is perfect for psyching oneself up for an adventure such as ours. I recommend it.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

It's gotta be something...

Following on from Joe's flying shoes... I had been finding my running to be not so easy following my races a couple of weeks ago. On my last couple of runs, things seem to have turned around to the extent that on sunday I ran a relatively effortless 10km (I was already 5 km into a 15km run before I got a signal on my gps thing) almost 3 minutes faster than the 10km I actually raced in. I reckon this could be due to a number of things: it was a bit cooler this time, I might be getting used to the humidity a bit more, I'm looking forward to the relay and enjoying running, the 5km warm up might also have helped... don't suppose it really matters so long as I am running well and having fun.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

It's gotta be the shoes

So I've noticed that since I got my new shoes about a month ago, my pace has increased. And not just a little bit. I am averaging 15 to 20 seconds per mile faster. It's really weird. I have tried to slow down, but it doesn't work. It just won't take. I don't know what it is. I'm not really complaining, I'm just slightly surprised that shoes can make that much of a difference. It's not like I was running in crappy shoes before and then switched to real ones or anything. I just switched models of running shoes. Very strange...

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Always a bridesmaid, never a rock star...

So I totally forgot that my friend from junior high will be getting married September 2nd, 2007. Which also happens to be the same day as the Rock n Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon. And since I am supposed to be a bridesmaid in that wedding, I will be trading in this:for this:

Okay, I am pretty sure Linda won't pick out a dress that fugly. The insane part of me thought "Well, I could run the half marathon in VA in the morning and then hop on a plane home to MA for the evening wedding." I decided that would probably be a really quick way to make the bride hate me. So my rock star dreams have been dashed, at least for 2007. 2008 perhaps?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Stairs, I curse you!

So now that the marathon is over, and I am still sufficiently sane that I haven't signed up for a fall one, I have decided that I should start training specifically for the relay. A friend here who has run a lot up in the Rockies said "Run the stadium stairs until you start panting like a dog." So Sunday afternoon (after volunteering at the National Special Olympics - my event got cancelled and so they sent me and the others to another medical tent and so we were double staffed at the med tent for... Bocce Ball), I decided to run at the stadium. After warming up, I ran up and down the stairs for 20 minutes or so. It was hot and I was tired at the end (although I am not sure I was panting) but it wasn't so bad and I figured 20 minutes was a good interval to start with. The next day I felt fine and even did some lunges and squats at the gym. Monday night I went running with Kori and did a fast 3 miler and felt good.

Apparently I forgot that usually it takes two days for me to feel sore... I finally got clipless pedals for my bike and so I went up to Ada Hayden Lake to try them out on the bike path there, so when I toppled over after getting my foot stuck to my pedal, at least I wouldn't get hit by a car. So I was going to ride for a half hour and then run for a half hour, since I figure I have to do that sort of thing in a triathlon. The bike ride was fine, I didn't take out any small children or anything. But I went to start running and... I could barely move. Walking seems to not be an issue, but I was even slower than shuffling when I tried running. My GPS kept pausing because it thought I was stopped. Needless to say, I decided to go home and have a piece of cake and a beer.

Sunday, July 02, 2006


So here I am getting ready to go for a run and I hear the rumbling of thunder in the distance. "Meh, I guess I'll get a little wet," I think to myself.

So I am in my bedroom changing clothes and I hear the rain start. "Wow, that storm got here fast," I say out loud, then realize I'm talking to an empty room.

So I go outside to stand on my balcony and watch the rain a little before heading out, when, bam, right in the face! "What the hell was that?!" I look down on the floor of the balcony, and sure enough..

Now, the stone that hit me in the face wasn't as big as this one. But we did get a nice storm of quarter sized stones. So, being the coward that I am, I went inside and ran on the treadmill in the gym.

The little engine that do

I'm clearly the caboose of the team. But you know, when I had to poop in a hole in the ground in the middle of the Bengali country side last year, I thought to myself, "After this, I can do anything." Somehow, over the past year that has translated into running.

This whole thing where you totally suck at something but slowly watch yourself improve despite setbacks? getting addictive.

I've been doing most my runs in the park near my house, which for some reason I always assumed was a 3 mile circuit. Last week I had a crappy slow run, which made me gmap that path and see how long it really is, fully expecting it to turn out to be, like, 3.2 miles or something.

Turns out, it's 2.4 miles. Ack! Guess who felt like a huge wimp. It was so hard after that to get back out there and do a for-real 6 miler. I did it, and with my newfound mental discouragement, it really sucked my ass. Especially the hill...I lumbered up that hill and I just kept thinking about how much that's gonna hurt when I'm in Colorado where the air is thin.

Then I had my first ever 10K race on Saturday, and, given that my last run before that sucked the big one, I was not feeling great about it.

Turns wasn't really that hard, and lots of fun. I think it's weird how many people do a 10K with, like, 7 water bottles strapped to their butts, as though they're undertaking a trek across the desert, or something. Seeing all the equipment that people were packing, and their fancy running clothes and stuff, made me wonder whether I was doing something wrong. But I don't stop for water when I do 6 miles in the park, so I thought, what's the big deal?

I started off towards the back and just sort of slowly started chugging along, and by 5K I had passed a ton of people, and I chugged on, and before I knew it, I was done.

My time was 1:02 and wearing my big honking medal all the way home totally gave me the strength to pedal my shitty bike all the way back up the mountain. Dynamite!

Saturday, July 01, 2006


In the last 2 weeks, 2 people have both said to me that, 2 weeks before I head out to CO for the race, I should start taking 1 aspirin a day to help thin the blood a little. One of them said children's aspirin would be enough, nothing extremely high strength is needed.

This is amusing to me because neither of these people know each other, so the timing of the advice is just a random coincidence, but both have spent time out in the Rockies, one hiking, and one who actually moved there becaues he liked the area so much.

So anyway, figured I'd pass this tidbit of info along to everyone...