Under 70

February 28, 2012 § 5 Comments

We all know them. They are the numbers that haunt us, the ones playing inside our heads for all the hours a week while we train. They are written on our bathroom mirrors, in our training logs. They auto-fill into the pace calculator online because you’ve checked – and double checked – so many times exactly what you’d need to run to break that barrier.

For me, two of the bigger time barriers I had looming in the back of my mind at the start of the year was 20 minutes for the 5K (checked off last month!) and 70 minutes for the 10-mile. While I had intended to go for the sub 70-minute mark back in October at the Army 10 mile, that day didn’t go quite as planned. So I found myself this past weekend looking to go for that on a much more challenging course that follows the rolling hills of Columbia, MD. I have talked about our team’s training for this race and while I knew the course very well, it is certainly not a PR course. Knowing that, plus my less than stellar week in terms of being healthy, in addition to having come off a massive swim block….I really had no clue what this day would give me. I did feel that it was within my reach if I ran *smart* though. This is something I did not do at Club Challenge last year (positive split the second half of the race by over 4 minutes…ouch).

Race morning was clear and calm, the Global Winding from Saturday seemed to have mostly died down. A crisp 36 degrees at the start made it perfect singlet and shorts weather for me. (Actually, I would have liked to wear arm warmers, but my swimming arms are currently too big for them to be comfortable. Woe is me.) A new addition to my racing attire this day was a Garmin 110 – I finally caved and bought one in hopes of helping me figure this whole “pacing” thing out. I had a couple other Falls Road ladies who were looking to run about the same time…unfortunately, we all had different ideas of how to execute that, so by the first mile I found myself settling into a pace (somewhat) alone. But this was okay; I felt in control and was completely prepared for the course ahead of me.

My Garmin data can be found here. You’ll have to excuse the random splits I apparently took during the race – still figuring this thing out. Overall though, my pacing was fairly consistent. You can see from the elevation profile that this is far from a flat course. I came through the half in 34:12 – right where I wanted to be. At this point it was just a matter of keeping my head and focusing on the pace. As I hit mile 9 I knew I had a cushion and could do it….I crossed the line in 1:09:19 – a 2:54 PR! This was good enough for 20th female of the day – interestingly, last year I was slower but placed 19th. Evidently some people are doing work out there…..

More than anything else, it felt good to execute a race smartly. I am prone to the “going out too fast” syndrome and I am trying my best to turn that around, so this was a good sign. AND the post race snacks were Famous Amos and fruit snacks – two of my faves!

I would be remiss not to mention the domination of the Falls Road squad as a whole at this race – we swept the Co-ed, Male, and Female team competitions, and took 1st and 2nd Male, and top 3 Females. I have no doubt that training with this fast bunch was a big help for my PR!

Team Hardware


Bring in the funk

February 24, 2012 § 3 Comments

My little funk didn’t have time to work itself out before Tuesday came around and it became apparent that it was more than my general mood that wasn’t feeling too hot. Shortly after lunchtime I started feeling….”iffy.” Refusing to give in easily to the virus gods, I made myself get through my usual Tuesday brick. And then even offered to make dinner for Ryan – who has been sick with a sinusy issue for a little while now.

And then I smelled the marinade that the pork chops I was planning on making were sitting in.

And I promptly was curled in a ball on the couch with raw meat sitting out, making weird noises and feeling sorry for myself. Ryan came over and discovered I was in no condition to actually be making dinner and he put me to bed (without even pointing out how I somehow tricked him into taking care of me!) A few hours of restless sleep later, my head was over the side of my bed puking into bags we had (thank goodness) set there for just that purpose.

The worst part of it all is that I now have another item to add to “the list.” You know the list – the one you keep of the foods you ate last, before you threw everything up? No matter if that particular food was the cause of the problem, even the mere thought of it brings the stench of vom to mind. My list now stands with: Vanilla covered raisins, Alaskan King Crab legs, Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup (okay so this one I’ve managed to get myself over, but I still think about it every time I get a bread bowl!), Safeway Fiesta Chicken Tortilla Soup.

Hmmm. Maybe I should see a pattern with the soup??

The good news is its over! Has it set me up for the best race of my life on Sunday? Probably not. But it’s a little early in the year for that anyway 🙂

The stakes are high, the water’s rough

February 21, 2012 § 2 Comments

I’m not sure if it’s the 24 hours of dreary weather we finally had to remind me that it *is* winter, after all. Or maybe it’s just a general Baltimore-induced malaise, but I got myself into a bit of a funk today. You know, the kind where you feel like Taylor Swift as she walks into work in the video for Ours….

Or maybe it was just that today was a rest day so I’ve had too much time to think.

Don’t worry, I’ll be back in the pool tomorrow!

Calm before the storm

February 19, 2012 § 4 Comments

The past 7 weeks have marked a big build phase in my training for me. While I’m definitely tired coming out of it, I’m excited to start spicing stuff up with some races. Next week will be a 10 miler, followed by a half-marathon the following week. And then of course my multi-sport fun for the year begins with the second annual St. Patty’s Day Du. These build phases require a lot of mental toughness to just get through the grind, put in the hours, and build that base. But there is something fun about having some races on the horizon. Only having raced a 5k in the last couple months, I feel more than ready to get back at it. To reward me for the 111 miles I swam I got my Rev3 Shimmer Suit last week – totally awesome! It helped me knock out my best set of 100’s yet.

All this training has even tired Amelia out….

Yes, life right now is so boring I have reverted to posting pictures of my cat again. Don’t judge me 🙂



February 15, 2012 § 5 Comments

At the end of last year Carly and I fielded a couple questions about what exactly was going on in our house. We both had stellar racing seasons  in the Fall, which happened to coincide with Carly moving into the house.  With Lance’s case being closed now the Feds may have some more time for other investigations so I figure I would save them the trouble and come clean with our secret: Doping. Solidarity.

Per Wikipedia, Solidarity refers to the ties in a society that bind people to one another. Last fall Carly and I tied ourselves together through our workout and our relentlessness pursuit for “better”. Our society was formed: a society of 2 fast little ladies.

Earlier this year, Carly had a goal to build upper body strength. As we all know, one of the fastest ways to do this – especially given time constraints, etc, is to do pushups. When asked to join her, I was hesitant because I had started swim camp and was already feeling the effects of that in my arms – I really had no reason to add to that. But, there was a compromise to be made. For every hour I swam (approx 3,000 meters in the pool) Carly would complete 2 minutes of pushups. Those 2 minutes could be broken into 30 second segments throughout the day.

You can see I have done an extensive mathematical analysis of our data (click for a better view):

And the conclusion is clear: I have improved in the volume of swimming I can handle in a similar fashion to Carly’s improvement of how many pushups per minute she can bust out! In fact, just the other day she averaged 46 per minute….just a month ago she started with an average of 9 per minute!

Solidarity works!

100 x 100 – Complete!

February 12, 2012 § 12 Comments

We survived! About three hours and ten minutes after jumping in the pool, Ryan and I had put 10,000 meters behind us. Initially we had hoped to have more people come out for the workout, but in the end, even the masters team wasn’t quite ready for it. People did have some pretty good reasons too – Like Haley’s “sorry I can’t make it I’m actually busy WINNING a race dubbed one of the toughest in North America!” In the end though, everything happens for a reason as it allowed me to put it on a day and time that would work for my fitness – one of the most important parts of planning this! Had I attempted this a month ago when Haley was in town, I think I would be telling a different story.

But, back to the 100’s. The workout was as follows (we swim in a 25 meter pool, and PBB = Paddles, Buoy, Band):

Honestly, I didn’t notice the three hours too much because the way the workout was structured I could just focus on each little piece. By the time the first big set was complete, I was already 60% of the way done! Then it was just one more big block, and before I knew it, it was time to cooldown. We didn’t dawdle at all in between sets to keep things rolling. I ate about 450 calories throughout the workout which I think was a good amount. I didn’t really start incorporating calories into my swimming until about a month ago, so I was a little nervous about how my stomach would handle calories in the pool, but it held up well.

Post-swim, Ryan and I headed to our favorite pizza place, Pasta Mista, right across the street. While our pizza was cooking I sipped on my Powerbar Recovery beverage and I think getting some more good calories in me immediately post-swim helped a bunch. As we ate I looked back on my workout logs and noted that this week a year ago my main set for a swim workout was “10 x 100 on the 2:00”! How far I have come!

Sleep was  a little rough as my brain was quite confused about why it was my arms, not my legs like usual, that were so sore. But today the soreness is beginning to flush out and I was able to get in a great speed session on the treadmill!

Also during the swim I did some daydreaming about what my “perfect pool” would look like, and came up with something like this…(note: this is a pool in Boulder!)

500 Days of Swim Camp

February 9, 2012 § 8 Comments

I love the movie 500 Days of Summer. I also love trying to pretend my life is a movie. I also love stretching things so far to make it seem like I am, in fact, living out a movie.

So, you know that scene in 500 Days of Summer when Tom is going to the party at Summer’s apartment. And it flashes between the scenes playing his expectations for the party, and what actually happened? Well, that’s been pretty similar to my life this past week as the reality of swim camp was occurring and my expectation reel was playing through my head. This is just another reason why it’s great to have a coach – you can count on them to push you past the limits you would have set for yourself.

I have a big milestone coming up this weekend in the form of a 100 x 100 swim set.  My expectations for the week before 100 x 100 day included, but wasn’t limited to: a taper-like week to prepare my very tired arms, lot’s of rest, maybe some cookies, and…well….not that much swimming since I’d be knocking out 10k on Saturday! Little did I know, Coach Hillary had other plans 🙂 I am still putting in some big meterage these days as THE day draws closer. Every day I (and Ryan!) knock out another workout I know that I’m going to be able to get through Saturday but it will be tough because the fatigue of 6 weeks of swim camp has most definitely set in. BUT….doing it this way will be much more rewarding – that much I’m sure of!

I hope to be blogging on Sunday with some very tired arms!

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