Thursday, May 21, 2015

Virginia Running

I woke up for a total of six consecutive mornings in Virginia this month.  And I went running on exactly two of those mornings.  (See why it was logical that I lost my beer mile 1F title?  I'm getting very lazy.  Although in my defense, for about ten years now, May and December have been my "rest and recovery" months of low mileage.) 

The first run was in Charlottesville.  I failed to take a picture, but my husband who set out about an hour behind us did, so I'm stealing it from his phone:

My best friend lives in the Pantops area of Charlottesville, and after a couple minutes on suburban residential low vehicular volume streets, there's the great running trail pictured above.
But holy hills!  We only made it out two miles and I knew I had to head back.  And I had to walk uphill some on the way back!  I feel like that picture doesn't even do it justice. 
My best friend hates running and every time I visit her, I run that trail and then comment on how hilly it was.  She uses it as a reason not to run, but I keep thinking what an advantage it would be.  If I lived by and trained on something like that all the time?  Then I went to do a race in Dallas?  I could kill it! 
That was my only run in Charlottesville.
In DC (well, northern Virginia technically), it was the opposite experience.  It was a lovely overcast day, and less than a block away from my friend's house, there is this trail: 

It apparently goes for hundreds of miles.  I set out to do 6 miles (the whole "easy May" thing), and my husband decided to bike with me.  That was fun and made me feel like Meb.  Like I run so fast the only way someone could be with me is if that person had wheels. 

I got on that trail and wanted to run forever.  In the first 1.5 miles near her house, there were a few street crossings, but then it turned into something like the Charlottesville run above -- running along power lines with no streets in sight.  Flat, paved, safe, beautiful, quiet. 

I turned around after 4.5 miles only because I didn't have any gu with me and I was a little worried I'd crash and burn if I went more than 9 or 10 miles without any calories.  Poor planning on my part!  I suppose it was lucky.  If I'd had gu, maybe I would have tried to run 20 miles or something and gotten hurt, but I truly had zero desire to stop. 

Due to the timing of our flights, I've only got 5 consecutive mornings of waking up in San Fran and since marathon training is kind of gettting underway, I need to run at least twice, ideally four or so times.

Unfortunately for me, the hills here mean the runs will have an elevation profile far more like Charlottesville.  But what doesn't kill you...

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Puzzulus Interruptus

Going out of town and walking away (again) from this was tough.

Here's the current status:

Those two missing pieces on the bottom are killing me!  There's one piece on the table that really seems like it should fit in one of those two spaces, but it doesn't.
Thankfully there should be enough fun in San Fran to make me not miss my dear puzzle too much!  Heading there shortly. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

3-2-3 at Work

The weekend before last, we were at my law school reunion in Charlottesville.  It deserves a post of its own (which I really need to do), but on Sunday, after brunch with my best friend and her family, we got in the car to drive back to DC to fly home.  Unfortunately, as I said, big storms in the Dallas area at the same time apparently, which led to the cancellation of all flights home. 

We spent Monday hanging out in DC (I worked remotely) and flew home Monday night.  As an aside, we had to fly home separately.  We had flown out to DC several days apart, and when flights were rebooked, if we wanted 2 seats on a flight, we had to wait until Tuesday, so we opted to fly separately Monday night.  We each had a car key.  My husband was supposed to land about 20 minutes before me.  Because DFW sucks, there are 5 different terminals, and if you fly on American, which is based there, the odds of landing at the terminal where you took off are roughly 30%.  Even if you fly round trip, there's still a good chance you have to get on a stupid train to go back to your car.  The plan was that he'd land, go get the car in terminal A, and then pick me up outside wherever I landed. 

We're "early to bed" people (the whole "workout starts at 5:30 a.m." leaves us with few other options), and he was supposed to land at 8:40, and I was landing at 9:10.  Yikes. 

AND we were flying home to a house with no food, so there was going to have to be a stop at the grocery store.  Double yikes.

Well, as luck would have it, my husband's incoming plane had a casket on it.

This is his FB picture and I will say for the record that he posted that he had a lot of internal debate about whether to even take this photo, as well as whether to share it, but he decided to do so, thinking it was something we shouldn't forget. 

I don't know if it was the casket or something else, but his flight was delayed.  At first, it was just 20 minutes, then 40, then an hour.  I knew he was delayed 20 minutes when I was taking off, so the plan was we'd land and both head toward the car and see who got there first to pick up the other person.  I landed at terminal C and went straight for the train to get to terminal A.  On the train, I checked his flight status and saw he was scheduled to land at 10:10.  I'd landed a couple minutes before 9. 

An idea took hold and I texted about it with my best running buddy.  He encouraged me.  And I went for it.

Got in the car and drove as fast as I could to a grocery store he recommended, spent about $100 buying the essentials (breakfast, lunch and dinner food to get us through at least a few days), and then drove back to the airport as fast as I could. 

I was pulling out of the grocery store parking lot as my husband texted me to say "wheels down."  Drive, drive, drive.  Fortunately, no traffic, and fortunately, I'd gone out the north airport exit, which is as close as possible to the terminal where he was landing. 

As he was walking outside, I was pulling up.  I'd guess he had to wait about 30 seconds.  He was thrilled there were groceries in the car and we could go straight home.  We got to bed not long after 11 I think, and then we were both back at work the next day.

I always work from home on Fridays, so that meant Tues-Wed-Thurs in the office last week.

This week, only two days.  Monday-Tuesday.  Tomorrow we are heading to San Fran for an awesome very long weekend.  I can't wait! 

Flying home Monday, Memorial Day.  Then Tues-Wed-Thurs in the office. 

3 days, 2 days, 3 days.  I could get used to that!! 

Monday, May 18, 2015

The End of an Era

Sad news for me this past week.  After resounding success for years, after winning the women's title and then defending it THREE times, I have lost my dominance at the local beer mile.  Second place female last week.  The 1F bib is gone.  Out of my reach. 

Sadder still?  It was with a PR.  But just not enough. 

It's not surprising.  I'm seriously out of running shape.  I don't think I could run a 7 minute mile to save my life -- and I haven't even tried.  It just sounds unattainable, so instead, I get out there and poke along.  It's okay, I'm dealing with it.  But when it comes to the beer mile, at this point, it's finally caught up to me.  And given how the beer mile works, the bursts of speed are critical.  You need to run hard for a short time, and then you get a breather.  Even if you can't run an X minute mile straight, if you can run shorter intervals at that pace (or faster), it works in the beer mile.  Can I go faster than a 7 minute mile pace if I only have to do a quarter mile and then get to breathe?  Um, based on last week, I guess not though I don't have my splits broken out by running and drinking. 

I've mentioned before that at least a few of the women who run the beer mile are much faster than me.  One of them just pulled the trigger and is committed to running St. George in October.  We have trained together for several years, but in the last year or so, while we start runs together, we never finish together.  She has pulled ahead by leaps and bounds.  She ran Boston this year about 5 minutes faster than my dream pace (and that was 15 minutes faster than my PR pace).  Boston.  This year.  When it was rainy and got windy.  When I heard last week that she was in for St. George (one of my favorite marathons), I asked her about her goal time.  A very personal question, but we've run together long enough that it felt okay to ask.  She's admitted she's going to target 3:15, which she'd tried to do a few years ago and narrowly missed (a goal I'd never undertake).  That boils down to a low 7:20s MP.  Honestly, I don't think I could do that for a 5k right now.  We aren't in the same league.  It was pure fluke (and chugging skill) that allowed me to beat her as often as I did in the beer mile in the past. 

Before the race, I told her this was the year she was going to beat me.  She replied, "you always say that."  And in the back of my mind, I might have agreed.  I might have been overly confident.  I'd beaten her by at least 30 seconds all 4 times I've competed in this race, frequently by more than a minute.  Little did I know, she'd switched to Fat Tire beer, which she apparently found to be more "chuggable." 

I was first female to start running, but she passed me on the track.  That's happened before on the first lap.  But this time it was different.  She passed me on the track every single lap.  One of the three later chugs we started together (she didn't so much pass me on the run as caught me), but on the other two, she started chugging before me.  And I finished chugging before her every single time.  I can still beat her on the chugs.  But no longer enough by enough time to offset the run pace differential.  After each solid strong chug, I got out there running, and she'd pass me.

So disappointing, but it was inevitable.  I cheered for her as she passed me on the last lap with about 150 meters to go.  She pulled ahead and out of sight.  I lost motivation and eased up a bit, reminding myself that if I ended up hurling and had to do a penalty lap, I'd have my worst time yet.  Since the title was out the window, relax and hold it together.

After I finished, I told her she might have to fight me for the title in December, I might try to reclaim the title.  But maybe it's time to gracefully step back. 

Just writing that made me laugh.  Nothing graceful about the beer mile.  Lots of belching. 

But maybe in December, when I have to wear the 2F bib for the first time, I'll be able to get back the 1F.  I really should fight for it.  Train, get serious, drop some weight, chug harder, chug faster, run faster, push, push, push. 

And based on how the men's race unfolded, there might be one person who also fights hard in December.  For the guys, the one who wins most frequently has been aiming for a sub-6 for a long time and he's getting closer.  I looked back at my recap from my first beer mile, 2 years ago.  He ran and won with a 6:15.  Last week, it wasn't his race.  He finished with a 6:07.  So I could see him working hard to trim 8 more seconds in December. 

I feel like I can relate to how Shalene felt in Boston last year now (overly dramatic much?).  She trained to run a 2:22, which she thought should have been fast enough to win it.  And she executed.  She ran the 2:22.  But a few women went faster than 2:22 so it wasn't enough.  She executed perfectly and ended up seventh. 

During the race last week, I felt like I was going pretty strong.  I can't really look at my watch during the race because the idea of remembering splits is out of the question, it's hard enough to remember how many beers I have left.  But it didn't seem slower than usual.  The beers seemed to be going down pretty easily, and I felt like I was pushing myself. 

In the end, I guess maybe just like Shalene, I had the wrong goal.  Instead of targeting a time, I should have geared off the competition more.  Easier said than done.  I tried to run my own race, thinking in the end, the woman ahead of me would fall back. 

I finally broke the elusive 8:40 barrier, getting into the 8:30s which seemed so unattainable before.  I managed to get a PR by 10 seconds, but I ended up losing by 17 seconds.  What now?  I really do think I need to double down.  Train hard for December.  Hard! 

For reference:
Second beer mile:
Third beer mile:
Fourth beer mile:

I can't even look back at those posts really.  See that word "untouchable" in my last recap's title?  So cocky, so confident.  And now I wear the 2F.