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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Champions Train Alone

Let me say once more: don't ever let me get this behind in the blog again. This is taking a lot longer than I thought. I still have three and a half months worth of stories to tell!


I think I need to quit my job so I have more time to devote to my blogging.

Until then, I'll do my best to catch up.

After the Margaritas 5K, it was pretty much business as usual: 50 minute run on Monday, 7 miles on Tuesday...oh yeah, and THIS monster of a track workout on Wednesday:

15 minutes easy
** 1.59 mi in 15:01 (Avg Pace 9:27/mi)

- session -

1. 6 continuous laps at 2:02 a lap

** 1.50 mi in 11:51 (Avg Pace 7:52/mi) (Max Speed 8.8 mph)

with 1 lap jog in 3:30-4:00 min or less

** 0.25 mi in 2:25 (Avg Pace 9:40/mi)

2. 4 x 400 at 1:52 with 90 sec rest after each

** 0.26 mi in 1:42 (Avg Pace 6:38/mi) (Max Speed 10.0 mph) -- rested 90 seconds
** 0.25 mi in 1:40 (Avg Pace 6:46/mi) (Max Speed 10.5 mph) -- rested 90 seconds
** 0.26 mi in 1:44 (Avg Pace 6:48/mi) (Max Speed 10.1 mph) -- rested 90 seconds
** 0.26 mi in 1:43 (Avg Pace 6:40/mi) (Max Speed 10.7 mph) -- rested 90 seconds

3. 5 continuous laps at 2:00-2:02 a lap

** 1.24 mi in 9:43 (Avg Pace 7:48/mi) (Max Speed 9.6 mph)

with 1 lap jog in 3:30-4:00 min or less

** 0.25 mi in 2:29 (Avg Pace 9:48/mi)

4. 3 x 400 at 1:50-1:52 with 90 sec rest after each

** 0.26 mi in 1:46 (Avg Pace 6:55/mi) (Max Speed 9.7 mph) -- rested 90 seconds
** 0.25 mi in 1:45 (Avg Pace 6:56/mi) (Max Speed 9.5 mph) -- rested 90 seconds
** 0.25 mi in 1:46 (Avg Pace 7:04/mi) (Max Speed 9.5 mph) -- rested 90 seconds

5. 3 continuous laps at 2:00 min a lap

** 0.78 mi in 5:51 (Avg Pace 7:31/mi) (Max Speed 9.7 mph)

with 1 lap jog in 3:30-4:00 or less

** 0.26 mi in 2:29 (Avg Pace 9:39/mi)

6. 3 x 400 at 1:50-1:52 with 90 sec rest after each repeat

** 0.25 mi in 1:46 (Avg Pace 7:02/mi) (Max Speed 9.9 mph) -- rested 90 seconds
** 0.25 mi in 1:47 (Avg Pace 7:06/mi) (Max Speed 10.4 mph) -- rested 90 seconds
** 0.26 mi in 1:41 (Avg Pace 6:32/mi) (Max Speed 10.7 mph) -- rested 90 seconds

cool down 12-15 minutes

** 1.53 mi in 15:01 (Avg Pace 9:48/mi)

Total Mileage for workout: 9.95 (almost 10!!!!)

It's okay if you don't understand what it all means. There is a whole lot going on there. Please accept my deepest apologies if I inadvertently made your eyeballs bleed.

My long run for the week was taking place on Saturday, May 8th. This would be my last BIG one before the terrible taper for Vermont would commence. The day before, I put out emails to my runner friends to see if anyone wanted to accompany me for some, if not all, of it. Once again, no takers.

Cyndi was starting to get a BIT of a complex.

So, I told my co-worker, Bob, about it. I may not have ever mentioned Bob before. Let me tell you a bit about this 73 year old man.

Back in the day, Bob was a three hour marathoner. At the height of his racing, he logged more miles in one month than I probably do in three. Not only did he run almost 70 marathons in his career, but he did a 100K from Philadelphia to Atlantic City. That's like, 62 miles.

Did I happen to mention that he is known as "The Mule?" Can't imagine where THAT nickname came from.

Anyway, I told Bob about my plight. He scoffed at my whining and had this to say:

"Cyndi, champions train alone."

Obviously, I was not going to get any sympathy from him.

On top of apparently having no friends, guess what was in the forecast for long run day??? Yup, you guessed it.


And none of this light spritzing business that one finds refreshing after being out for a couple of hours. We're talking thunder, lightning and downpours.


The thought of taking the easiest way out became very appealing to me. So, I sent an email to my coach:

-----Original Message-----
From: Cynthia Ann Springford
To: "Da Coach"
Sent: Fri, May 7, 2010 8:06 am
Subject: Weather pending...

Would it be practical to do the long run on Sunday INSTEAD of Saturday. Looks like it may be pretty wet tomorrow…

Shortly afterwards, I received his reply:

From: "Da Coach"
Sent: Friday, May 07, 2010 8:21 AM
To: Cynthia Ann Springford
Subject: Re: Weather pending...


We can switch but for weather??:):). What if it's raining hard on May 30th???

Ahhhhh, so he's taking the GUILT route! Son of a biscuit.

Once I uttered my fair share of words that I'm pretty sure you still can't say on television, I emailed back:

From: Cynthia Ann Springford
Sent: Friday, May 07, 2010 8:20 AM
To: "Da Coach"
Subject: RE: Weather pending...

Grumble, grumble…

Okay, Coach…you shamed me into it. Thanks a lot. ;-)

That’s why they make rain jackets for runners, right?

My attempt at putting a brave face on. Not bad, eh????

Once my brave face was on, I updated my status on facebook to let the world at large know just how badass I was by taking on the arduous task of 3-4 hours running in the rain. One of my friends (in fb and real life), and sort of neighbor, Sheryl, asked me where I would be running so she could drive by me with water and words of encouragement. I sort of chuckled and said that was a nice offer, but she didn't have to do that. However, she insisted it wouldn't be an inconvenience and, furthermore, thought it would be fun.

Now, who am I to rain on her parade (pun intended)??? If she wants to be my personal pit crew, then the least I could do is let her. What can I say? I'm a giver.

I told her where I'd be running and what time I planned on starting. After signing off, I got myself dressed and ready to go for rainy running. I decided to carry some water with me, not because I didn't believe her, but you never know. Stuff happens.

Just in case.

Off I went under overcast skies. The first few miles was light to moderate rain, but it was tolerable. I was shuffling along at my "long slow distance pace" and feeling pretty good.

Then, the sky opened up.

Slowly, but surely, the rain intensified. About six or seven miles in, it was more like moderate to heavy. I had managed to keep my shoes somewhat dry up until this point. Puddles were starting to form on the ground. I did my best to dodge them. At least it temporarily distracted me from getting pi**ed on.

And, then I saw her. My knight in shining armor. Well, in this case, minivan.

Sheryl parked on a side street and leaped out of her vehicle wearing long pants, baseball hat and rain jacket. She asked how I was doing. I told her I was almost 1/3rd through the run and was doing okay. She had a dixie cup of water, like you would get at a race and handed it to me while jogging. She asked where I was headed, and I gave her a play by play of the next few miles. She left me with some more words of encouragement and jogged back to her steed (i.e. minivan).

Now, I didn't really NEED the water. Number one, I brought my own. Number two, it was raining cats and poodles, for the love of Pete. All I had to do was tip my head back and open my mouth. But, that water never tasted so good. Seeing her gave me a little boost. At least I had one friend. And, I attempted to drink out of a paper cup while running for the first time in ages. This would prove to be very valuable later on.

I must have seen her six or seven more times that day. She would drive by me, pull over, take my empties, give me cups of water and words of encouragement. After seeing her for the third or fourth time, I said, "something tells me you've done this before. You're way too good at it." She laughed.

It was the most fun I think I've ever had on a solo long run. The conditions were ABYSMAL. My shoes and socks were soaked. I could feel a colony of blisters forming on my feet. I looked like a drowned rat. The sky turned very dark and, yes, there was even thunder and lightning. But, there was a big smile on my face, thanks to Sheryl. Her frequent visits broke up the distance for me quite nicely.

I finally turned on my street about 22ish miles in. She pulls into my driveway and gets out to see me finish. I ran up and back, ending at my driveway. 22.56 miles in the rain. Boooooo Ya!!!! I high-fived and hugged Sheryl, thanking her for making a potentially dismal day much brighter.

I sent my stats to Coach in an email:

-----Original Message-----
From: Cynthia A Springford
Sent: Saturday, May 08, 2010 2:49 PM
To: "Da Coach"
Subject: GPS Stats from long run today

Good afternoon, Coach:

Well, you shamed me into it. ;-)

Seriously, I did my long run this morning. In the rain. Here are my stats:

5/8/2010 8:09:24 AM

Total Distance
22.56 mi

Total Time

Avg Pace

Avg Speed
6.3 mph

Max Speed
9.3 mph

Total Ascent
3131 ft

Total Descent
3130 ft

Lap 01 -- 9:43
Lap 02 -- 9:28
Lap 03 -- 9:16
Lap 04 -- 9:20
Lap 05 -- 9:28
Lap 06 -- 9:35
Lap 07 -- 9:21
Lap 08 -- 9:38
Lap 09 -- 9:46
Lap 10 -- 9:19
Lap 11 -- 9:26
Lap 12 -- 9:22
Lap 13 -- 9:26
Lap 14 -- 9:31
Lap 15 -- 9:29
Lap 16 -- 9:41
Lap 17 -- 9:22
Lap 18 -- 9:14
Lap 19 -- 9:28
Lap 20 -- 9:15
Lap 21 -- 9:27
Lap 22 -- 9:30
Lap 23 -- 5:04 (9:03/mi)

Overall, I felt pretty good (well, except for the wet socks). My left hamstring felt tight in the middle miles, but I kept telling myself that I was strong and healthy as I ran. The feeling did subside.

One of my friends drove around while I ran and gave me cups of water & took my empty about super great. I must have seen her over a half dozen times between miles 8 and 22. She was there as I finished too, so that was a nice boost.

I see a couple blisters on the feet, but it's not surprising since I was in wet shoes/socks for quite some time. They don't look too big and scary.

Now, I relax!

Truthfully, I felt great; empowered even. I was so incredibly pumped that I didn't wuss out and take the path of least resistance. Most importantly, big props to Sheryl for being my one woman crew that day. And what a great job she did too. If I ever sign up for one of those crazy ultra marathons, I want to take her with me.

So, the moral of the story is this:

Champions DO train alone.


even WE get thirsty.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Beer. The final frontier.

Sunday, 5/2/10. The time had come.

My fifth and final "Will Run For Beer" race. There was just one more 5K standing between me and that jacket.

Let me just say those LOCO Running folks sure know how to throw a party (and no, they didn't pay me to say that). This race was called the "Cinco de Mayo" 5K at Margaritas in Exeter, NH. So, not only are you running for beer, but you get to have tequila too.

What a country.

At this point, I was less than 30 days away from the "big show": the Vermont City Marathon on 5/30. I did that sick track workout, followed by a day of rest and a 16 mile run outside. I didn't tell Coach about this race, because, well, I just didn't want to. He had mentioned to me before we needed to be careful that the races didn't interfere with the long run. But, since I did the long run the day BEFORE the race, I figured I could bend the rules.

Just this once.

Besides, I was just planning on running this for fun. I know, I know. I'm not very good at that. I say I'll enter a race and not focus on time or the competition, but I always seem to. However, I had that huge breakthrough after my experience with the Great Bay Half Marathon, so this seemed like a good time to put the new me to the test.

My friend, Sarah, and her boyfriend, Tom, decided to do the race too, so we decided to meet up and head over to the race together. After taking a couple of wrong turns (we got a little lost and this time I wasn't driving), we made it to our destination. There were a ton of people there already so we had to take a parking spot across the street. We all had to register for the race since none of us planned ahead (sometimes it's okay to wing it). We didn't get a shirt, but they were passing out these crazy looking sombreros to all of the runners. I almost decided to wear it while I ran, but changed my mind.

Running a race for fun is one thing. Looking like an escaped mental patient is another matter entirely.

Sarah and I went off for a little warm-up jog while Tom opted to warm-up at the gun. We went out for 10-15 minutes, just to warm up the legs. After visiting the portables, we were ready to line up. She and I were going to run together since neither one of us really had a time goal.

Runners take your mark, get set, and go.

The gun goes off and we start to run. Well, more like "shuffle"; the first tenth of a mile is always pretty crowded until you get a little separation. The first mile went by pretty quickly. Somewhere between miles 1 and 2, she and I got separated. I decided to gradually pick up the pace as I ran. I had started off pretty conservatively and felt pretty good, considering I ran 16 miles the day before. I just chipped away at it until mile 2. Then, I figured I could bust out for the last 1.1. There was a decent amount of downhill on that course, so it was pretty easy to negative split.

Negative split = running the 2nd half of a run/race faster than the 1st half.

Knowledge is power.

Now, back to our story.

I crossed the finish line in 24:38, averaging a 7:57 pace. It wasn't my slowest 5K time ever and it certainly wasn't a PR. But, I was good with that. I waited for the regret, disappointment, etc. and it never came. I said I'd run a race for fun and I did. I had a good workout and saw lots of people that I knew. My friend, Jimmie, was there again with his friend, Ken (those where the dudes I hung out with at the April Fools 4 Miler). So, of course, we had to go off and do our requisite 2 mile cool-down. It was tradition, after all.

After our two mile jog was complete, I found Sarah and Tom. We were surveying the food line and debated whether or not to get in it. They were serving Mexican food to all the runners. Those old enough could go inside for a complimentary margarita as well. We were so undecided, we ended up leaving. Instead of beans, rice and tequila, we opted for mai tais and sushi.

What can I say? We march to the beat of our own drummer.

All in all, it was a good day. I had a good run with friends. And I got a free sombrero to boot. I don't have a picture of it, but you can look at my friends and me after the run.