Monday, December 24, 2012

Iguazu Falls - 7 Natural Wonders of the World

Time to trot the globe again!  This time, my parents would come along, too!  Work sent me to Sao Paulo, Brazil.  My parents went straight to Buenos Aires, AR, where they toured by themselves before I met up with them later in the week.

Before the trip, I got in a 7.5 mi run at the park in 1:06:12, 8:50 ave. 

On Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, at 5:30am (3:30am Eastern!!!), I did bike sessions as the sun rose, and as I listened to Endurance Planet podcasts... nice.  Gives you energy you didn't realize you were missing when you work out.  Not working out makes you blah without you realizing it.

Got to watch some tango on the pedestrian street in the evening:

On Friday, after we got out of work an hour early, I got in a run at my favorite spot in Buenos Aires - the Ecological reserve.  5.8 in 47:10, 8:08 ave.  I pushed the pace, so that I could cover as much ground as possible before the park closed.  It was 85 degrees, but it felt cooler than that, since it was cloudy.

On Saturday, the fam was off to Iguazu Falls, one of the new 7 wonders of the world.  One of my bucket list items has been to re-visit Niagara Falls.  Many of my co-workers had independently been to Iguazu before, though, and one of the pictures that was shared with me was breath-taking.  I had been wanting to go for a while, but timing and the workload of the trip was always difficult to get right.  It worked out this time, though, since this was a more relaxed trip.

The falls are close to the triple border of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay.  Here's a shot of the frontier:

We spent 2 days on the Argentina side of the falls, and I spent the third day doing a tour of Brazil + Paraguay.  Travel tip: No need to bother with the Brazil side... the number and quality of the views from the Argentina side outnumber those of Brazil by 50:1, and you won't have to worry about getting a Brazillian visa.

(The Throat of the Devil, from above, from the AR side)

(The Throat of the Devil, from below/downstream, from the BR side)

There were lots of animals, too, like lizards, butterflies, catfish, birds, mole-looking things, and coatis (like a half-racoon / half-anteater).

We also did a speedboat ride that took you under the waterfall!

It was pretty amazing... there were about 4 different trails that took you to the Throat of the Devil (the main attraction), a view of the bulk of the falls from above, a view of the falls from below, and a view from the island in the middle of it all.  The whole day, you'd see one view after another, and each view would be better than the next, even though you wouldn't think that it would be possible after seeing the previous view.  Lots of rainbows, too.

Got back to the States on Wednesday, mid-day.  I had left Iguazu on Tuesday morning, so it was a long day of travel.  Got in a treadmill run that night.  6 mi in 48:26, 8:04 ave.  Started at 1 degree, did 4 mi at 3 degrees, ended at 5 degrees.  Knee did better.  Oh man, during the trip, I loved not running and not feeling pressured to run.  It was a good thing for my body, post-marathon, and especially for the knee. 

Thursday, woke after 3.5 hrs of sleep to prepare another presentation that I had to give.  Gave it, and then I considered myself more or less done for the year.  Still had to work a couple more days, but the big stuff was over. 

Friday, 6.0 in 49:33, 8:15 ave pace, alternating between 1 degree and 3 degrees.  I've been liking running on more incline than normal, since it reduces the forces on your legs when you land.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Nov 22-Dec 7 : Back in the Saddle Again

Thursday, Thanksgiving.  At my sister's apt in ATL.
Tofurkey, mmm....  I wish Trader Joe's had it all year round.

Friday, Nov 23, biked for 45 min.  Wish my fitness room was as well-equipped as this one.  First time in maybe forever that we didn't do Black Friday shopping.

Saturday, Nov 24, first run back... 6 days post-marathon.  6 mi in 50:20, 8:23 ave.  Pas mal!  It felt so good to be running again, since my body's been craving it.  I took it easier on purpose.  Haven't stretched in a while.

Sunday, Nov 25, strength session.

Monday, Nov 26, recumbent bike.  Pushed pretty hard, HR of 171 bpm.  Long day at work.  Joints were tight, and there was no way I could've run, so I biked.

Thursday, Nov 29, 4 mi of treamill hills.  0.5 @ 1 degree in 4:11, [3 degrees, 5 degrees, 7 degrees, 1 degree, 3 degrees, 5 degrees, 7 degrees @ 7.2mph] for 0.5 mi ea.   4 in 33:30, 8:23 ave.  Knee was yoinky from the middle 1 degree portion, and I had to use better form to help it stay more normal.  Legs felt fresh again otherwise. 

Saturday, Dec 1, outside run.  6.1 mi in 51:50, 8:30 ave.  Left knee yoinky, causing me to not push as hard off of that leg.  Tried to push harder on it on purpose to make it even out, but my body just ended up compensating everywhere, making my right back tight.  Sped it way up as I went along.  Loop splits> 7:13, 6:57, 6:48, 6:43, 6:31, 6:05, 6:00, 5:31.  These are approximately 0.75 mi loops. 

Sunday, Dec 2, recumbent bike, 60 min.  Was going to run, but legs immediately said no.

Tuesday, Dec 4, 4 mi in 30:55, 7:43 ave.  Felt speeedy.  Left knee yoinky, even at fast speeds, which had previously helped.  Felt fast and fresh.  Right back tightened up lots as the run progressed.  Felt good to let loose and get my heart pumping, though.  Tired at work, but pushed through.

Thursday, Dec 6, treadhill hills again.  At first, I thought I'd do a longer run at 1 degree, but it felt way too poundy, so I upped the incline, and that felt good.  4.5 in 38:32, 8:34 ave.  Did 1.5 mi @ 8:45 @ 3 degrees, 2.5 mi @ 8:25 @ 5 degrees, 0.5 mi @ 8:25 @ 7 degrees.  Like hills, for the low impact.  I need to improve on my hill climbing, anyway, as proven by Philly.

Friday, Dec 7, strength session.

Summary... work's been exhausting, but getting the job done, and doing a good job of it.  Left knee has gotten worse as I've gotten back into some moderate training... boo.

Doing DC

The day after the marathon... going up stairs is taxing, but going down stairs is really tricky.  I could tell that I was recovering more quickly with each marathon, though.  Normal walking was fine.  Maybe shorter strides and less pep in the step, but it felt more or less normal.   While my friend was at work, I went out to take in the city.  The Capitol and the museums don't let you go in if you have any kind food or water, even packaged and unopened, but I didn't know that in advance, and I didn't want to ditch my day's supply of food and water, so I figured that I'd use today to do all the outdoor sites, and that I'd see the museums and the Capitol the next day.

I feel like I saw everything and didn't realize how far I ended up walking - 9.9 mi!  The last mile was hard and felt like a tame version of the last mile of the marathon... my legs were not firing well anymore.

The next day, I had time for the Capitol, the Library of Congress, and a bit of the Air & Space Museum.

In the evenings, it was Settlers of Catan, movies, catching up, and Thai and Mexican.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

RACE REPORT : Philadelphia Marathon 2012

The Day Before the Day Before
- Normal (busy) day at work, but got out at 5pm, super excited.
- Slept 6 hours
- Normal fueling

The Day Before
- Woke at 5am to fly out at 8am

- Started carbo-loading.  5g/kg of carbs / body weight is the minimum, 7g/kg is medium, and 10g/kg is ideal.  I knew it would have to be more morning-heavy, since as you get later in the day, there's less time for whatever else you have to digest before race time.  Here's what I had, along with nutritional info:
I tried to keep it going throughout the day, taking in the next dose whenever I felt like I could eat it without feeling uncomfortably full.  It was tough!  I don't know what my usual calorie count is, so I don't know how 1650 compares (I'd think that I normally hit about 2,000), but I couldn't have done more without feeling stuffed at certain points during the day.  

- Upgraded to 1st... nice.
- Landed, and met up with my friend from college.  We drove to the hotel in the middle of the city.  It was located only 0.5 mi from the expo, which was really convenient... ones less parking issue to worry about.
- Walked to the expo.  Got our numbers and shirts, really quickly and easily.

- My friend's ITs had been bugging her knees, so she was going to try the KT taping booth.  It was interesting to watch the KT team work on people... I love the science of sport, so I like to learn what I can about PT from my PT buddy and KT from these guys.  Tip: if you think you may need KT, wear shorts under your pants.  I decided to do my left knee (the one that's been yoinking) while I was there.  We waited maybe 30 minutes.
Very professional.  My taping was for knee stability purposes.  How did it go? I gotta say, that I didn't have any knee yoinks over the 26.2 miles... I don't know if it was the calf compression sleeves or the tape, but one of those seem to help very much.  I had used the compression sleeves during one of my training runs, and there were no yoinks then, either, so it could've been either.  It didn't seem to be as helpful to my friend, but we think that the taping had been applied to the wrong place for her.
- Next, we looked at a few more booths and got some SWAG.
- On the way back to the hotel, we picked up Chili's for her, and we prepped our racing kits.  It was still just 3:45ish.
- I was kind of light-headed today... don't know if it's the OD of glucose in my brain or the airplane.  Airplanes don't give me issues, so maybe it's related to my hyper-carb day.
- I was kind of tired at 5pm and rested my eyes while my friend read and watched tv.  I got up to use the restroom a few times.  My friend went to bed at around 10pm.  I tossed and turned until 4am.  My mind was racing.  I didn't have any caffeine, but I felt as alert as if I had.

Race Morning
- Fueled, hot showered, suited up in my gear.
- Packed quickly, since we wanted to make sure we had plenty of time to find parking.
- Parked off-street, about 0.75 miles from the start. Waited in the car a little while as I put on some final gear.  Then, it was time to head towards the start.  It was in the low 30s.
- We arrived about an hour pre-race.  Our first stop was the porta-potties, and the lines were nearly empty, which was great.
- Next, we scoped out the gear check area.  UPS had vans lined up by last name.  We found a spot to camp out near the van so that we could continue to wear warm clothes as long as possible before taking off our warmups and heading towards the corrals.  We found a nice pallet to sit on and just took in the race day excitement.  My friend's roommate had given her the instant hand warmers, which were great for sticking into our gloves... it made a huge difference.
(City Hall in the background)
- Finally, it was time to just dive into the cold pool.  Took off the warmups, checked in the bag, and walked over to the corrals.  Appreciated other runners' body heat.  I was wearing a sports bra, arm sleeves, gloves with the thermal packs, shorts with side pockets, calf sleeves, my visor and shades, and my Kinvaras.  I had a Shuffle with tunes for the race.
- I met my Clif Bar pacer, and people started congregating.  There are always many women around the BQ pacer.  The woman next to me was doing her 10th attempt.  I didn't catch her number, so I don't know how she did, but I hoped she made it. 
- The pacer's strategy for an even effort race (slower on the uphills, faster on the downhills, otherwise, even splits) perfectly matched my own, so I had a lot of confidence in him.  This was to be his 43rd marathon, and he has a PR of just over 3 hours. 
- There were wave starts, and it worked really well.  We were off relatively quickly, and the crowds weren't bad.
- Time to get the run on. 

The Race
Oh, the race...
- First mile, kept it on.  During the initial walk to the start, it was crowded, and my pacer got maybe 40 feet ahead of me.  I figured I'd gradually catch him, though, and 40 feet is nothing, so I wasn't too concerned.  Started off smoothly.  I actually ended up running on the opposite side of the street to the pacer to many of the early miles, and actually, for pretty much the whole time I was with him.  In Albany, my strategy was to stick right behind the group to draft, but I think both strategies were optimal for their situations.  In Albany, the crowds were sparse, so mobility within the stream of runners wasn't an issue, and sparse crowds means less opportunities to draft unless you're with a group.  Here, there were plenty of people to block wind, even if you weren't in a pace group.  It would probably slow you down a bit to run right in the middle of the group, too, because there was a big continent behind him, and perhaps mobility in that pack would've been tricky. 
- The water stops were good.  In the early miles, the crowds are medium-sized.  You're just getting in the groove.  I'd look over to the right slightly to check that I was still more-or-less in line with my pacer.  Especially in the turns of the course, it was useful to be slightly in front of the pacer, to avoid the big pack.   I liked that part of my strategy very much.
- At mile 6-7, along Chestnut Street, the crowds were multiple-people deep and LOUD and ENTHUSIASTIC.  That was my absolute favorite part.  It just made me smile the whole time that I was running down.  I loved the crowds there.  A lot of other runners seemed to have my name, too, because there were many signs for "Jen", which is nice to see, even if you're not that Jen.  The race numbers also had our names on them, and I always really appreciated it whenever any spectators singled me out - I always tried to thank them early on, although that would stop at around mile 20, haha...
- Mile 7 is the first gradual uphill, going at about 2.5 (maybe... that was just what I had estimated, although it felt more like 3) for 1.2 miles or so.  I'd fall behind a little bit on the ups, but I'd catch up on the downs, as usual. 
- Mile 9 is the steep but relatively short hill - 7 degrees for 0.3 mi.  Not too bad.  Got our first Clif Shots at around mile 10.  I had taken in my own shots at miles 3 and 8 (worth 3 coffees total), so I just grabbed two more and stuffed them into my pockets.  I had also had 1 gel about an hour pre-race, along with 2 chocolate-covered coffee beans.
- Mile 11, I saw Spartans.
- Mile 12, I was a bit ahead of my pace group, but it felt right.
- Another good friend from college, who was still working in Princeton, was coming out to cheer, too.  She's a good, good friend, and I hadn't seen her in 2-3 years.  She was going to be cheering at the 13 mile mark, so for a lot of the first half, I was getting really excited at the possibility of seeing her.  It would be tough with the crowds, but who knows.  It turns out that she got stuck on the half marathon side, so she wasn't able to see us run by, though, so I didn't see her.
- After the 13 mile mark by the Art Museum, it's out onto Fairmont Park, to Manayunk, and back.  The pace team caught back up.  At mile 14, it started getting harder to keep up, but I hung in til about mile 16.  We started seeing the elites come by, and it was fun to cheer the early ones on as they passed.
- I probably started falling behind at about this time.  People say that you can have bad patches during the marathon but get through them, so I was hoping that it would just be a bad patch.  I saw the 10th-attempt runner again... or really, she saw me and encouraged me as she passed, which was super-sweet of her. 
- The pace team gradually drifted away.  I kept up hope that I'd collect myself and get back to normal and even strengthen for the final miles.  Just keep going.
- Manayunk was longer than I had imagined.  I kept hoping to see the turnaround.  It was hillier than I expected... steeper, too.  It was tough.  At the turnaround, I saw how much I was falling behind.  Had to keep going and hoping, though.  Now, it was just the journey back.
- I knew Boston was drifting away, but I decided that I was going to run for my friends who came to run with me and to watch me, and that gave me strength.  I kept up a pace that was still as movin' as I could handle, but that was controlled enough so that I wouldn't blow up any further.  I noticed that in the last 10K, I was much more mentally aware than I ever was.  I think my glycogen levels were fine, especially as evidenced by my brain function.  I think it was really my muscles that weren't holding up their end.  Lifting my quads and pushing off were just getting hard, as if my legs were sapped.  It kind of felt like one feels when one has lactic acid buildup.  I didn't push as hard on my training runs during this cycle.  I think that contributed to what was happening.  I need more fatigue-resistance training.  I thought adding extra volume (by like 20%) during this cycle would make me a better runner, even if my runs were at a slower pace, but I think I need to change that up for my next marathon.  I need to do plyos and the hard-effort runs that I thrive on.  I had feared that those would make me peak too early or make me more prone to injury, but I don't think those risks outweigh what happened.

- Based on my friend's target time, I had estimated earlier that I'd either see her on the opposite side of the out-and-back at either the 21 mile mark, the 22 mile mark, or somewhere in between.  Something that kept my body moving forward and my mind occupied was looking for her.  In between, the outbound side would do a side-trip across a bridge, and there were some other separations, so I hoped that we wouldn't be missing each other because of it.  I didn't end up seeing her, but I later found out that she had seen me at the last possible second, but that it was too late to call out.
- The last few miles, just hanging in there.  At about 1.5 miles left, there was a guy dressed up in an inflatable sumo suit who had a sign that said "If you stop, I'm gonna eat you, and he must be a runner or something, because his tone of voice in his cheering showed that he knew just what we needed... really loud, earnest, motivational, talking to the deepest parts of your heart, stuff.  He actually ran with another guy who was behind me for a while, too.  That's probably my favorite cheerer.
- It was tough, and now, I was thinking that when I crossed the line, and I was able to find the friend who was here teo cheer, that I'd just ask her to hold me for 10 minutes to make the exhaustion and hurt go away.
- The last mile was rough.  I thought my form might start deteriorating to the point where I'd pull something, so it took all the mental strength I had to force my body to keep up good form.  Even if the crowds were loud and cheering, in the last miles, it's hard for me to notice, unfortunately.  If I wasn't as tired and struggling, I'd notice the crowds, but that all fades away when it gets rough.
- Finally, crossed the line in 3:39:23.  No Boston, sad.  Sad, sad, sad.  I didn't even want to look at my time when I was at the 26 mile mark because it would make me sad.  I had finished, though, for my friends.  I reconnected with my pacer at the food tent.  He was really gracious and nice.  Too bad about the result, though.  Got my gear bag really easily (thanks, UPS!) and made my way up back upstream on the spectator side to try to find my running friend.  That was another big effort.  I dropped stuff a couple of times because I was juggling food and camera equipment, and it was hard to pick it up.  Walking was difficult, too.  It felt like wading through an upstream river, hoping to get there in time.  It was really a short distance, maybe 0.35 mi, but I felt so slow.  I finally found a spot in the crowd that I could fit into, and I started the lookout.  This was my friend's first marathon, by the way.  Sticking my head out over the gate to see the oncoming people a little bit sideways made me a little dizzy after a while... that plus the noise and the exhaustion, but I stayed vigilant.  4:15 passed... 4:30 passed (her estimated time had been 4:15, but since I didn't see her on the out-and-back, I figured that she had probably struggled somewhere along the way.  I just prayed that she wasn't injured and on the side of the road, but I figured that she was really ok and was just still coming along.  I saw a bear run and took a video... it was fun.  I really want to do a race (any distance) in costume one day.
Not long after, I saw my friend, but I failed to push the 'record' button all the way, so I didn't get any video.  And it turns out that she had something against the bear, too, haha... the bear had run at least 3 miles leap-frogging her, but it looks like it passed her.  I think it would be funny to see my friend fight the bear.  Anyway, saw her and cheered for her.  She looked good and still doing well, or at least put on a happy face for me, haha.  Time to go back downstream.  On my way back to the gear check area, my cheering friend caught up with me, and we walked down together.  We finally all met up and took some pics.
We hobbled over to Wholefoods, where I satisfied the protein craving that I had after that muscle damage, salt loss, and carbo-loading. 

Unfortunately, I didn't have the bib# of the 10-time attempter, so I don't know how she did.  I feel like and hope that she made it, but who knows.  Third time was not a charm for me... but... you know how many peoples' final 10K strategy is to think about a person for each mile of the last 6?  I did that at my first marathon, with the plan to be thanking God for them along the way, although I only was able to do the first two people before my mind went completely fuzzy.  Well, today, of the 6 people from that list, I got to run with one of them and see another one of them today, so I couldn't ask for more.

Splits> 1- 8:29, 2- 9:08 (I think this was long), 3-4 - 15:22 for 2 (7:41), 5- 8:13, 6-8 - 24:27 for 3 (8:09), 9- 8:08, 10- 8:26, 11-12 - 15:58 for 2 (7:59), 13- 8:02, 0:49 for 0.1 at the half, 14- 7:49, 15- 8:03, 16- 8:15, 17- 8:24, 18- 8:29, 19- 8:34, 20- 8:46, 21- 8:38, 22- 8:36, 23- 8:40, 24- 8:33, 25- 8:59, 26- 9:31, 1:47 for 0.2.  Hmm... maybe I ran some of the early miles fast. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Oct 30-Nov 15 : The Taper Period for Philly 2012 - p

Oct 30, Tuesday:
1 hr strength session.

Oct 31, Wednesday:
4 in 33:30, 8:22 ave.  Left knee yoinky a few times; seems to be better when I go into auto-pilot.  Once I try to focus on landing well to not yoink my knee, my knee yoinks.

Nov 2, Friday:
4.5 in 35:06, 7:48 ave.  Did a mini speed session.  1 mi warmup in 8:39, 2x[1 in 7:04, jog 800 in 4:23], 1/2 mi cooldown in 3:32.  It was cardiovascularly tough!  I was at my sister's place in ATL doing this run.  Maybe it's the treadmill... my runs on there have historically been tougher than they should've felt.  I made curry for dinner.. probably not the best pre-run meal... good to know.

Nov 3, Saturday:
8 in 1:11:10, 8:54 ave.  Meant to do 12, but I did the 8 with hills, and I was done after 8.  I did 2x[1 mi @ 1 degree, 2 mi @ 3 degrees] @ 6.7mph (8:56), then 8:53 and 8:34 @ 1 degree to shake it out.  No knee yoinks, though! 

Somehow managed to not get sick even while spending the weekend with a sick sister.  Yay veggies and tea.  I loooved having all the time in the world, not knowing what to do with myself, while my sister was in bed recovering.  Gave her water, made her food, went to take out the trash to get in a walk... it was fun taking care of her and spending time with her... unfortuante that she was sick, but we got to spend a lot of time together.

(chicken and tofu curry with lots of veggies and Trader Joe's wild/brown rice medley)

Nov 4, Sunday:
12.5 mi... last real long run, in 1:50:26, 8:50 ave.  Before the run, felt confident that I could finish it easily.  I have endurance now.  Had a prune before the run... I like tangy/sweet stuff before runs.  Sat in my tummy like a rock the whole run... good to know.  After the run, I paid special attention to refueling well. 

Nov 5, Monday:
Last strength session, to make sure I'm completely recovered by the marathon. 

Nov 7, Wednesday:
5 in 38:31, 7:42 ave.  1 mi warmup in 8:20, 3 @ 7:26, 1 mi cooldown in 7:51, where I held back.  Felt pretty easy!  Nice. 

Nov 8, Thursday:
3.4 in 28:15, 8:19 ave.  Base run.

Nov 10, Saturday:
8.5 in 1:13:24, 8:38 ave.  Had to hold it back the first half, but it got hard the second half unintentionally.  Hope it was the heat... 70 degrees.  I comforted myself with the thought that it's good that I don't feel 100% now, since that would mean that I may be peaking 1 week early.  I was really sleepy afterwards, feeling as if I had run 20 miles! 

Nov 11, Sunday:
35 min on the bike... really easy.. just get in a bit of cardio.  Didn't want to run... my leg muscles felt kinda sticky.

Nov 13, Tuesday:
I was going to run on the treadmill after Bible study and right before the gym closed, but someone was on the one and only treadmill, so it was out to the streets with me!  But it turned out to be a good thing: I  practiced specificity with the ground surface of asphalt and a shoe that's similar in lightness and flexibility to my race-day shoes (Saucony Kinvaras on race day, Brooks Green Silence for this run).  I also tested wearing a long sleeve tech tee in cold weather - got hot quickly... so I'm going to continue to stick with a sports bra or a singlet at most.  4.0 in 31:53, 7:57... a decent clip, and it felt great!!!

(wore an extra-visible shirt this time)

Wednesday - got my usual pre-goal race haircut... ready to fly with that extra lightness!

Nov 15, Thursday:
Planned for an easy 3, but my knees got really yoinky at 2... they've been poundy all day!  Need to ice them, probably.  I managed to go 2.5 in 21:29, 8:36 ave.  Concentrating on good nutrition for the past 3 weeks especially... going to carboload starting Saturday morning, maybe Friday evening. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Oct 14-28 : 10,000 Pageviews! Hiking; Spinx Volunteering; Last bit of Philly Training!

Big recap; lots to catch up on.

Before I begin, though, here's a rave for post-long run re-fueling.  Stuff tastes sooo good after long runs.  Sometimes, I get into moods where even though I think my body may be ready for refueling, nothing seems particularly appetizing.  After very long runs, everything seems delightful, and it's like a kid going to Disneyland, deciding what ride to try first.  I did my final 20 miler today, and I finished stronger than I normally do, I think, but I was feeling kinda run down afterwards as I refueled a bit with a pear and 1/2 a protein shake and drove home.  On my way home, though, I remembered that I had pickles, and the anticipation of getting home, having a hot shower, and eating pickles gave me a big buzz.  After my shower and the pickle, I had smoked salmon and garlic on tortilla chips and lentil and onion soup.  Oh man, soooo good.

Ok, going back...

Oct 14th, Sunday:
The day after the iRecycle Half marathon PR.  Still feeling really strong.  Did 9.0 in 1:16:28, 8:30 ave, in the park in 67 degree cloudy weather.  Legs were still feeling like they were recovering, but it felt good.  Just cranked it out, without needing any fuel or water (was a big hungry at mile 2, but could manage fine without fuel).

Oct 15, Monday:
Upper arms are sore, from the race, maybe, but that's good conditioning for the marathon.  I had started on the treadmill and ran 2 minutes, but I was feeling just a bit too bangy, so I biked instead.  I did 45:30, and I would've gone on longer, but the gym closed.  Legs are a bit sore from the past 2 days, but still solid. 

Oct 16, Tuesday:
60 min strength session.

Oct 18, Thursday:
6 on the treadmill in 48:48, 8:08 ave.  It was cardiovascularly tough!!!  Is it because I'm kinda tired?

Oct 19, Friday:
7.5 in 1:03:00.  So tired during the drive to the park and during the run that I was afraid I'd fall asleep while driving or running.  Ok once I got going, though.  The first lap, I was clumsy and stumbled a few times - seems to happen when I'm tired and not paying attention to footing.  Company coming later that night.

Oct 20, Saturday:
Minor hiking (1.4 mi) with family friends on the Blue Ridge Parkway, at the Craggy Pinnacle trail.  One of the friends has a really cute dog who's obsessed with food and spins around to get your attention so that you'll give her food, whenver she sees you eating or opening a package or the fridge.  We carried the dog along the trail in a little basket house.  We also went on walks with the dog.

(Cooked carrot)

(Looking up to the summit of Craggy Pinnacle)

View from the summit (~6K feet of elevation)

View from the summit (~6K feet of elevation)

(LION KIIING!!!  - for all you The Office or Modern Family fans.  Lion King used to be my favorite movie as a kid)

We also went on walks around the city.

(Mice on Main - it was really hard to get Stella interested in the brass mouse - we had to put food on the mouse to get this picture)
(Had to dangle turkey jerky for this picture)

Oct 21, Sunday:
Had to do a midnight run because the gym's 1 treadmill was occupied.  Bother.  Fartlek, as usual, for this course.  Wore a light jacket, since it was chilly at 54 degrees.  Got a bit warm later, but I just unzipped halfway down and tolerated it.  4.4 in 32:35, 7:24 ave.
Week's recap:
Man, this week, night calls for work mess up my schedule (very tired) and make runs hard to get in.  Just gotta get it done, though.  Home stretch.
Oct 22, Monday:
Did a mini marathon-simulator hill workout on the treadmill.  1 mile warmup in 8:22 at 1 degree, then [1.5mi @ 3 degrees (actual will be 1.3 mi of 2.5 degrees); 0.25 mi @ 1 degree recovery; 0.5 mi @ 7 degrees (actual will be 0.3mi); 0.25 @ 1 degree recovery; 1.1 mi @ 3 degrees] @ 7.5mph.  Had to cut that last rep short because the gym closed on me.... bother.
Oct 23, Tuesday:
6.4 mi in 52:53, 8:16.  Left knee's been acting up a bit for over a week now.  Landing under my body and not overstriding seems to help.  I think I compensate for it, which isn't good. 
Oct 25, Thursday:
60 min strength session.  Performance was very much lacking.  I don't know why I was so sapped today.  I lost strength!  Was it because of lunches I had to skip during the past 2 days b/c work was so busy I had not time even to eat while working?  Was it because of recent races?  The knee thing?  Don't think it was sleep... that's kind of as poor as usual.
Oct 27, Friday:
Carefully executed the 5 mi, with 3 @ 8:20 pace that the schedule called for.  My knee is still kind of wacky, and it started at mile 1.5.  Good form still helps, but it's still scary.
Oct 28, Saturday:
Because I had my last 20 scheduled for this weekend, and because I wouldn't be able to run in a race without trying to be competitve, I decided it would be a good opportunity to volunteer.  I've never volunteered in a race before, but it's been something I've always wanted to do.  For a long time, I thought that it would be very difficult to volunteer because the whole time, I'd be really wishing that I was running too, but I had good reasons not to this time.  It was good, anyway, because I was in no mood to race that day.  Still feeling a bit banged up; don't know if it's a result of compensations for my left knee.
I got to try lots of different race activities, actually, so it was a really well-rounded experience.  I got there at 6:20.  I was actually so excited about getting to volunteer that the night before, I breifly considered camping out at the parking lot, so that I could be there early and soak more of it in.  Anyway, they were going to start me off with starting line activities, since that was what I signed up for.  I like pre-race excitement, with everyone walking around in their gear and getting ramped up. 
There was some time before the race starts, so I helped to loop medals around their medal keeper, for easy access later on during distribution.
My job was to check that peoples' bibs were in the front, and if it was on shorts, that it was on the right leg and not the left leg.  Don't know why that's the case.  Don't understand the technology enough.  The readers looked like they were positioned flat overhead... maybe it's the placement of the chip or something on the bib.  Dunno.  I saw off the marathoners at 7:30, the halfers at 8:00, the kids' run (helping to make sure that the kids did a u-turn at the traffic light instead of running loose into the city) at 8:15, then the 5K at 8:30.  

(Half Marathon)

(Kids' Run - the little kids running around in costume were ADORABLE)

After that, I helped to hand out bracelets for the 5K finishers.  Before the halfers started coming in, though, I volunteered to help marshall at the last turn, where they had run out of cones and needed people to help point the way. That ended up being my favorite part.  One of my pet peeves during races is marshalls who don't point the way.  They just stand there, and you have no idea where to go, and you have to actually stop or at least slow down to ask them.  Ideally, they point it out even while you're kinda far away, because you want to be able to run tangents, and finding out if you should go left or right when you're 10 feet from the turn is waaay too late.  So, I waved my hands wildly for about 2 hours (fortunately, without back strain), and even recruited my red-socks legs just to make it more interesting.  It was fun to see in the back of the pack of the 5Kers, most of the halfers, and the front of the pack of the marathoners.  I wonder how far my arms ran, if you had put a gps or pedometer on my arms...

As I was leaving, I saw runners who had gotten caught behind a train... ouch.

Oct 28, Sunday:
Time for the last 20!!!  I really wasn't sure if I'd be able to run at all the night before and the day of, with how my left knee was whenever I tried to extend my lower leg.  But, somehow, praise God, I was able to run.  On long runs, you run slowly, and your legs stay more under you instead of over-striding, so it worked out.  I had 1 strawberry Clif Blok at mile 5, another at mile 10, and a Powerbar vanilla gel at mile 15.  I had water + lemon juice + salt at miles 2, 10, 15, and 18ish.  It rained for a couple of miles... way outer bands of Hurrican Sandy, I think.  It was also much windier than normal at times... not too bad, though.  It did get chilly during the rainy/windy part, but the sports bra was good the rest of the time.  So happy just to finish.  I also felt stronger at the end than I normally do.  Main bulk of training, DONE AND DONE.  Thank, you, God.

20.7 in 3:10:45, 9:12 ave.

And that brings us back to the pickles and good food.  The end.

In other exciting news, the stats tracker on Blogger showed exactly 1,000 [10/30/12 update - haha... read it wrong... it's actually 10,000 pageviews. I think it must be counting web crawlers, then] pageviews since whenever they started tracking.  Dunno what counts as a pageview.  Thanks for reading, everyone!  (all 5 of you, haha)