Monday, March 23, 2009

All's Fells that Ends Well

There is something so incredibly...luscious about these taper weeks. This weekend was no different, with a happy 12-15 plotted and planned for.

After another admittedly lackluster week of running, with 5.5 or so with JRizzle on Thursday, and a solo 3 on Saturday, I was well-rested and ready to run come Sunday. And where better to do it than at the Fells? Who better to do it with than my better half?

And so it was after a nice rambling sleep-in and fruit-loaded breakfast, we found ourselves having put the pup to sleep in her crate, driving to the wooded wonderland.

As always, the first few miles were slow, and aching--our feet and ankles sadly out of practice on the uneven terrain, cosseted by the flat asphalt streets of winter. Within the first hour, however, limbs and joints loosened by the continues ascents and descents, our feet were tripping happily up and careening jauntily down, making the occasional hop over felled trees, or turning along the meandering paths of long-gone mountain bikes and hikers.

Having taken the rocky Skyline Trail, there were, of course, several short sections physically impossible to run. We slogged our way up these, running where possible, walking where not, and occasionally pausing in search of the scenic vistas sure to be visible over, around, and through the still-naked trees of spring. It was, by far, one of the most carefree and happy runs I've had in a long time--and how could it not be? The scenery was glorious (if sparse), the miles were challenging but relaxing and loose, and the company remains, quite simply, my favorite.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

7 Hours with Dana-Farber

The quick version, today's run by the numbers:

Time Jared got out of bed: 6:00 a.m.
Time Jared forced me to get out of bed: 6:15 a.m.
Pieces of peanut butter toast consumed: 2
Cups of tea for the road: 2
Warehouses visited in Waltham to pick up DFMC materials: 1
DFMC materials: 4 tables, 12 bottles Gatorade, 1.5 cases of water, 150 paper cups, 2 bags M&Ms, 1.5 boxes Fig Newtons, 3 DFMC signs, 3 plastic bins*
Miles run: 19.5
Time taken to run said mileage: 3 hours 12 minutes
Minutes spent helping pack up DFMC materials, heading back to the warehouse to unload it with Jared and DFMC head honcho of the day Steve: 78
Frolicking runners in said warehouse: 1
Total time spent in DFMC activities: 7 hours

I'm pooped.

*Approximates only. There's no way I can remember the exact amounts...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

On Miles, Sore Knees, Cellphones, Guilty Feelings--and a Little Thing Called "Big Hair Thursday"

Today's blog post, covering 10.5 miles in two runs, will be in the styling of my beloved's Christmas Fruitcake.

1. Miles: 4.5 on Tuesday, traveling to the gym, getting in a good lift, then running to the mall (see item #3), then running to the T for a quick ride home. Another 6 this morning, with me grumbling, grumpy, and growling the whole way to the river and back. At the turnaround point, I stopped kidding myself about trying to squeeze in 8 vs. an extra cup of pre- work commute Joe.*

2. Sore Knees. Stupid running. Stupid sore knees. (Not to fear, not terrible--just a little achy from recent overuse.)

3. Cellphones, or more specifically one cellphone--my black-screen one to be even more specific. It still dials, and I still get calls--but there's no screen--meaning no texting, no photos, no seeing missed calls, no caller ID--and no ability to troubleshoot. Tuesday's mission to the mall yielded two interesting conversations--one at apple, and one at Verizon. Time will tell.

4. Guilty feelings. Ok, so I shorted myself this week--AND this weekend, running a few miles less than the suggested minimum. I know I'm in great running condition, and strong, and this won't exactly kill me. But this is the time of the year when most normal people running an abnormally far distance being to...well, get a little tired. It's the physical and mental tiredness (not to mention the irrational hunger) that makes me feel guilty. And then I feel guilty about feeling guilty. It's a vicious circle, in the shape of a Rubix cube. Perplexing, and ridiculous.

5. BIG HAAAIR THURRRSDAY! The one good thing about running in the morning is the special little treat that I give myself for the workday--big hair. No blow-drying, no straightening, no ponytail even. I rock the big hair in all its air-dried, dehydrating winter air, frizz-inspiring, half-assed wavery glory. And though at times the shadow of my head is startling, and an accidental look in the bathroom mirror gasp-inducing, I revel in it. Biiiig haaair thurrsday. Yeeaaaah.*

*Mmmm, yes. So good.
**On one particularly memorable big hair Thursday, no less than three people commented on the size of my normally groomed follicles within five minutes, ultimately leading to a round-robin cubicle conversation regarding the unruly mop.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sweet, Sweet Taper...

Ah, bliss....

This week marks something truly delicious to every runner nearing the end of the training season--a taper week. With no group run planned for this weekend (scheduled mileage 14-16 miles), my beloved was in alt over the opportunity to log some long miles.

After sleeping in a bit on Saturday, we gleefully tripped into long sleeves...and shorts! At a balmy 55 degrees, there was no other way to do it. Fuel-belt equipped, we headed through Harvard Square and to the Charles, heading toward Watertown. The fair-weather runners, out in mass, provided endless amusement to us both, and Jared admitted that he had to agree with my somewhat surly response to them ("Where were YOU when it was 15 degrees and sleeting, fair weather runner?!"). Unfortunately when we got to Arsenal St in Watertown, near where many of the DFMC group runs begin and end, and near to where my first Boston apartment was, we couldn't make heads or tails of where to go. The route I'd mapped earlier showed us clearly staying on a road along the river for another two miles out, then another two miles back--the problem being that once we actually arrived at Arsenal Street, there was no more road along the river...

No worries, though--we simply turned around, and planned to tack on an extra bridge or so at the other end to try to add some "makeup mileage." We happily ran along, chatting merrily, and spontaneously shouting "SPPRRRING!" with open arms embracing the warm air and blue skies.

The run went well overall, and tiredness didn't begin to set in until we were nearly at our turning point to head back through Harvard Square--a mile and a half from home. Though we both agreed it had felt like around 14 miles, but definitely not 15, we found when we got home and verified the modified route that it was actually closer to 13 miles.

Ah well. Still a good run, and still with good company. Per the plan, we leashed up Copley, and headed out on our cool-down walk--to the Davis Square Starbucks. Our lovely young lady was admired by many along the way, and was a very good girl--eliciting many happy noises from her owners...or maybe that was the dark roast?

This Week's 17

In a happy turn, I actually managed to get the week's running in--including two (little) lifts, and one day of cross-training--the first time I've been able to do so since we got our charming little mongrel.

Sunday's 3 miles, the day after 20 with the team, was a slow, screeching affair--as those loosening runs post-long run tend to be. I slugged it out on the treadmill on Sunday night, forcing myself the bare minimum distance before calling it a day and hitting the shower.

Tuesday was scheduled for 6-8, and with a stiff knee, the shorter distance seemed the better part of valor. With no group run scheduled for the weekend, Jared planned to run some longer miles with me--14-16 scheduled, and the farthest he would ever have gone--so he was also more inclined to run some shorter miles. Again, I spent some quality time on the "dreadmill", this time due to the snow drifts and salty streets left from Monday's 10-12 inches of snow. We settled into a decent clip for 6, chatting all the while. Post-run, an abbreviated lift proved just the thing, though my body had noticed the lack of the past weeks, knees screaming gently at the pull of lunging.

Thursday rolled around, with scheduled mileage of 8-12, and again, we opted for the shorter distance of the range. With the weather warming slowly to a brisk but relatively warm 35+ degrees, we shambled our way the 4+ miles to the gym, where we enjoyed another lift, and some "nutritionally balanced for women" (sorry, Jared) pomegranate and watermelon Luna chews, before heading the 4+ miles home to throw a pizza in the oven.

With 17 miles in the bank for the week, I was a happy camper. "Cross-training" on Friday was a couple friendly games of pickup hoops--maybe not great for the training runner's body, but good for her soul all the same, and much more inviting than 30 minutes on a machine...