Archive for May, 2008

Running Backward in Mad City

Event: Madison Half Marathon
Where & When: 7:25 a.m. Sunday May 25, Madison, WI
Results: 2:10:11 (9:57 min/mile)

The Madison Marathon has been on my list of to-do races for a couple years. During grade school I lived in this fun, progressive college town and have fond memories of the city. My parents met here as students and grandparents lived here, so it’s a significant setting in that way.

This year I had plenty of incentive to register. The race was scheduled at a good point after the Boston Marathon to be something to look forward to. A group from the Kickrunners  online community were coming in for the race, so it would be a fun Memorial Day weekend of running and meeting some Internet acquaintences in person. I signed up for the half marathon to see what kind of performance I could achieve in the 13.1 mile distance five weeks after a marathon.

Picnic Point pathAfter an 8 1/2 hour road trip and what seemed like dozens of tolls, Lloyd and I arrived in Madison from Ohio on Friday. We settled in and headed to the University of Wisconsin for a short run. In 45 minutes we got an out-and-back foot tour of State Street, the Memorial Union terrace, the dirt path along Lake Mendota, and popular recreation area Picnic Point. Probably from excitement, my pace was faster than usual for easy pace, but it didn’t feel like any effort. Post-run, we enjoyed a pitcher of Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale and meeting a small group of early arriving Kickrunners in the student union.Mmm ... BEER!

Saturday was perfect late-spring weather that brings everyone out to stroll, run, or cycle
along Madison’s lakes. Lloyd, who would be leading the 3:50 marathon pace group on Sunday, worked at the race expo in the morning. I spent time at the expo and neighboring World’s Largest Brat Fest, a celebration of sausage organized by the same promoter that puts on the marathon! I people-watched and soaked up the atmospheres at the two very contrasting events before Lloyd finished his shift and we joined his friend Mindi for a take-out lunch in front of the state capitol building.

An especially nice part of Saturday was the pre-race dinner hosted by Kristine, a fellow pacer and Madison resident. Before the dinner I noticed my stomach felt slightly upset, but attributed the discomfort to traveling and being away from a usual routine and diet. At the dinner I had little appetite, but made myself eat enough pasta, bread, and salad to be fueled for the next morning. The meal tasted delicious, but didn’t settle well. I counted on a good night’s sleep to take care of that.

Race morning was early as usual, especially so since Lloyd needed to meet his pace team near the Capitol Square start area by 6:30 a.m. We downed breakfast, parked at the finish area, swiftly shuttled to the start, and camped out in a nearby hotel lobby. With three indoor restrooms and relatively few runners, it was like having pre-race VIP status. I was extra appreciative of the comfortable bathrooms, as I discovered my gut had a “runs” plan of its own and apparently wanted a head start on my legs. I chalked it up to pre-race nerves and was grateful my innards’ workout was over in time for the main event.

I warmed up by running the first half mile of the course just before the marathon race started. Coming back I got to see the entire marathon field begin its journey, including Lloyd leading his 3:50 runners. Conditions felt slightly warm in the high 60s with sun, but considering Madison had evaded a soggy forecast, I was grateful for a lovely morning, excited for the race, and several times thought about how I felt ready to “knock this one out of the park” and have a run I’d be really pleased about.

A 5K I’d raced a week earlier predicted I could do a 1:48-1:50 Half and I fully planned to aim for that. I felt fit enough and extra motivated by personal connections to the course. Before race day, I had studied the route carefully. With a little help from my dad I was able to recall quite a few significant landmarks along the 13.1 mile route, and was excited to run through half a dozen nostalgic spots.

Fifteen minutes later, it was the half marathoners’ turn to line up. My plan was to start with the 1:50 pace group to begin comfortably before hitting my own pace and going for whatever it could get me.

In a sense, that’s exactly what I did.

Mile 1 took us downhill from the Capitol, getting the group out 15 seconds ahead of pace. It felt easy, just like mile 2 which we came to 16:52 into the race. This portion brought us to the first landmark, a lagoon that freezes to an ice rink I had loved to skate on as a kid. In the second mile I noticed my stomach still had jitters, and was surprised my nerves hadn’t calmed after the gun went off like they usually do. But the pace was very comfortable, so I urged myself to relax with it.

We came to the first aid station. Because it was warm, I grabbed a cup of water and almost spit out the first sip. It was like gulping a mouthful of chemical fluid. I tried to ignore the foul chemical flavor. Near the third mile of the course, we rolled over some hills on Gorham Street. Maintaining focus on running helped me forget the taste in my mouth. Mile 3 was just a little slow and I planned to make up time knowing the course would flatten along Lake Mendota.

Another aid station, another mouthful of what I can only describe as spoiled chlorine. My hydration plan instantly changed to drinking only Gatorade for the remaining 10 miles. I tried to ignore thoughts of how far away that distance sounded. That is not the mindset for a good day!

What I couldn’t ignore was no longer having Pacer Tim, our 1:50 group leader, in my sight. By Miles 3 and 4, my pace had already dropped from about 8:20. I was now officially queasy and had the feeling that I was barely staggering forward in slow motion. When I pushed the pace, my stomach threatened to push up its contents. I was amazed I was still maintaining a faster than 9 minute/mile average, hitting 5 miles in 44 minutes and change. Coming to the same lakefront path Lloyd and I had run two days earlier, I marveled at the difference less than 48 hours could make as I lost count of all the runners who seemed to be flying past. Taking motivation from my friend Meredith who completed a 100 mile endurance run while battling food poisoning, I revised my plan to what would turn out to be a very optimistic goal of now coming in under two hours. Again I shook off thoughts of how long and agonizing it would seem to keep moving forward for eight more miles. I wished I could just stop and lie down, but no way would I DNF a race I’d wanted to do for years, or a “mere” half marathon for that matter.

I shuffled on. More runners passed. The 2:00 pace group leader passed. We turned from the lakefront to travel past the Badgers’ Camp Randall Stadium. How could it be that the gentle incline leading along the arena felt more brutal and slowed me down more than Boston’s Newton Hills had?

I kept staggering forwad, feeling semi-comatose, turning onto Monroe Street. “Go Andrea!” I heard and came out of a partial stupor to look for a familiar face. I briefly made eye contact with the woman who had been kind enough to cheer for me, wondering how she knew my name? I was so out of it, I forgot race organziers had printed each runner’s name on their bib.

I had been looking forward to this section in Mile 7 that passes my old ballet school, now a futon store. What I didn’t recall was the endless uphill grind heading west. At least I wasn’t the only miserable soul — “What kind of run is this?!” the zillionth runner to pass me asked. Along Monroe Street, I spotted a generous man handing out bottles of water to anyone who wanted a drink. Grateful for non-putrid tasting liquid, I sipped from the sport bottle as I trudged up.

Turning off Monroe, we met a sheer drop-off that hurtled us down to the Vilas Zoo. Normally I love downhill running, but this time I clunked down, feeling the impact reverberate through my entire body with each clumsy thud.

Oh God, there were still five miles left. How could this marathoner be feeling more fatigue and agony in Mile 8 of a half marathon than at the end of the past two marathons I’ve completed? Why didn’t I sign up for the 6.5 mile quarter marathon? Or join a relay team? I consoled myself that I hadn’t registered for the full marathon, something I’d briefly considered, and reminded myself that no one was making me complete 13.1 miles today except for myself.

I did my best to stay distracted by playing tourist to endure the remaining distance. We passed Randall Avenue a block from where my best friend Rachel had lived. We ran along Drake Street, where my parents rented a house as newlyweds; St. Mary’s Hosptial, where my mom was born; and Lake Wingra, a man-made water body my Great Uncle Al had helped construct.

Noticing Wisconsin-isms in my fellow racers also amused me, even as the nausea I’d had since Mile 3 became an official stomach ache. One woman who passed me (of course) sported a dairy-cow printed tank top reading “Milk Does a Body Good.” Another runner wore a singlet displaying the Pabst Blue Ribbon logo and name of the tavern that sponsored him. Somewhere in my own private hell I was able to chuckle, and wonder if the next person who passed me (of course) would be chomping on a bratwurst.

Shuffle, stagger, struggle. I had avoided reading my mile splits, but at Mile 11 I found my pace matching the mile. 11 minute miles in a half marathon! That’s slower than recovery run pace! This really was a run back in time, taking me not only on a tour of a childhood home, but reuniting me with the pace of my very first half marathon five years earlier. What was the point of even running? I wanted to walk, but knew that would just prolongue the misery. I told myself if I could finish without walking, that would be the day’s victory. Ah, the mind games we can play in a race.

Just after Mile 12, I spotted the angled roof of the Alliant Energy Center marking the finish. At least it would all be over soon. Trudge, slog, trudge, slog. Oh look, there goes 2:10 pace group leader, last night’s gracious hostess Kristine. I made it to the cheering spectators lining the chute. Normally this would be my cue to kick it in with everything left. What was the point? A few fans hollered my name, and I replied with a half-hearted attempt to pick it up and at least look like a runner. Kristine stood at the finish yelling encouragement. Between watching her excitement at her groups’ success and realizing I was finally done with the death march, I couldn’t help but smile as I felt the chip-timing mat under my weary feet.

Dizzy, I slowly walked to Lloyd’s car, where I reclined for 20 minutes before taking my time to return to the finish area to watch him lead his marathon group in right on time.  He needed me to retrieve business cards to hand out from his car, and I was able to run back and forth for that. Funny how when duty calls, it’s easier to transcend discomfort.

UW Union TerraceMy best guess is I had a slight bug that wouldn’t have bothered me had I not attempted to run on Sunday. I didn’t feel 100 percent, but revived enough to enjoy post-race festivities at the Great Dane, Monday breakfast and time on a Kickrunner pal’s farm, a final visit to State Street and the Union Terrace with Lloyd, and quick neighborhood tour and dinner in Chicago. By Tuesday night’s group run in Ohio, I was back to my normal training pace and felt great.

If you race enough, at some point you’ll encounter and learn from anything and everything. The Madison Half Marathon was my opportunity to realize how to run with tummy distress. Hopefully I won’t need to draw from the lesson for a long while, but now know I’m prepared to lurch through the miles with a lurching stomach.




Week of May 12-18

Looking back at this week, I feel like a slacker. That seems silly when the average person gets less than the minimum recommended 30 minutes of physical activity per day, but I can only compare me to me. Maybe it was the school year ending, a natural time for catching the breath, but I wasn’t motivated to do anything outside my training and YMCA teaching schedules, except for one pilates practice at home. I know if I’d jumped in the pool, done some yoga postures (I do meditate every day), or lifted a weight or two, I would have felt the benefits … but I wasn’t motivated this week.

Well, I did go for two walks. Walks? I love to walk in my pretty neighborhood, and it’s activity, but doesn’t get my heart rate up. Mainly I walk for the enjoyment of being outside in gorgeous weather.

It’s natural and healthy to take a breather now and then in any kind of pursuit. However, if I don’t mix it up and tighten up in a few areas, I’ll be heading into what feels like inertia to me. Even we self-starting types need a kick in the butt sometimes!

May 12-18

Monday –  5 easy (treadmill)

Tuesday — Taught pilates; 2.75 mile walk

Wednesday —  8 (treadmill) with 3 X 1 mile cruise intervals (8:00 m/m); Taught Spinning class

Thursday —  6 easy (road)

Friday – Home pilates practice; Taught Spinning class

Saturday — 5K race (23:36), 3 more miles easy (road); 3 mile walk

Sunday — 10 easy (road)

Totals:  ~  35 miles running, 6 miles walking, 2 cross training workouts, 2 pilates practices

Good stuff: I got to do some “fast” for me running and felt good doing it. Tempo pace felt comfortably hard like it should, and I seem to be the consistent in terms of 5K fitness as I was in February and last September.


Stuff to keep an eye on: Confession time. I have pretty much been eating whatever I want since Boston. That is still a lot healthier than the “average American” as I don’t really like junk food or fast food, but it won’t get me back in the weight range that I feel best for running. Smaller portions and a little more focus will. My clothes still fit, so I’m not that far off!

Goals for the week: Be especially careful nutrition-wise while traveling. Enjoy running in some new and favorite places, with new and favorite running buddies.

Spring Sprint 5K: Room for Improvement

Event: Spring Sprint 5K run and 3K walk
When & Where: 9 a.m. Saturday, May 17; Elizabeth City N.C. Riverside Ave. neighborhood
Results: 23:36 (7:36 min/mile), 4th female overall, 3rd female 18-40 age group, 8th runner overall

I take every opportunity I can to enter the less-than-handful of local races. This morning’s Spring Sprint 5K allowed me the luxury of sleeping in my own bed the night before and, I hoped, would provide an opportunity to truly give a race effort so I could see where my current fitness is. I have never done this particular race before and had heard questionable reports about the organization, but ended up satisfied with the overall experience.

My back was stiff and sore when I got up, the result of a hard pilates practice yesterday after taking a short break from core training. Again I was reminded that it’s easier to maintain all kinds of fitness rather than re-build. I did extra stretching for my back, and didn’t feel like the lingering muscle soreness would affect me on the run.

My neighbor and running buddy Amy and I carpooled, arriving with an hour until the start. We immediately met up with our other partner Noel, got our packets, found a bathroom, and went for an easy warm-up along with Jennifer, another woman we know from the Y. About half a mile in, Noel screamed “Snake! Snake!” and we all sped up after we caught a glimpse of the large, coiled up dark green reptile she had almost stepped on. By the end of the warm-up I had worked through the morning’s slight chill and felt very comfortable in the breezy 60s temperatures. It was an absolutely beautiful morning with the “Carolina Blue” sky reflected in the harbor water.

The Spring Sprint is a very low-budget, small 5K that benefits Elizabeth City’s Junior Woman’s Club. This means no frills and scant publicity, but the upside of that was watching a small team of unpaid organizers, all women, put on a still well-managed event. Registration was up by more than 20 participants in the race’s third year.

The race was scheduled to start at 9, and my anticipation of a late start proved correct. Shortly after the hour, race director Danielle pointed out the Start/Finish line “that concrete patch on the bridge,” and reviewed course directions. We lined up behind the police car assigned to lead the field and on Danielle’s “Ready-Set-Go” we started with a short uphill over the Charles Creek bridge.

The flat, partly waterfront course is a modification of the local fall Waterway 5K. I run on it often and know it very well. I had no plan other than staying as close as I could with Noel, who has more natural speed than me, and truly giving a race effort. Not too long into the race, I was glad I didn’t have a specific goal pace, because there were no mile markers! I don’t run with a GPS device, so would have to go by feel rather than any measurable feedback.

My hope was that Noel, Amy, and I could finish close together and all have satisfying days. I purposely started just behind both of them to try to avoid going out too fast. For about half of the course, the three of us were leading the women’s field and I thought how fun it would be if we captured the top three spots. In what might have been the second mile, a high-school runner moved up and a little later another woman came past all of us, despite running with shoes that had come untied! Amy and I stayed next to each other behind Noel into what I assume was the final mile, when I pulled ahead slightly.

With no course timing other than my watch’s overall time, I gauged my pace on breathing and effort. As we made the final turn with a little more than half a mile left, I felt the way I wanted to — borderline struggling. I knew exactly where the finish was and it was much too far. My lungs were begging for air, my stomach threatened to become all-out queasy, and my brain was questioning why I would ever enter such a painful distance race. My legs felt absolutely no fatigue, so I focused on keeping them turning over down the still-too-long road, back up and over the little bridge, and across the makeshift finish line to a time of 23:36.

I wasn’t out to compete with anyone other than myself, and while I didn’t PR today, this little race did mark my first Top 10 overall finish. Although I was third in the 18-40 age group, the awards were miscalculated, giving me the second-place award and overlooking Noel, who rightly earned it. I believe it’s because her name could be mistaken for a man’s name, and plan to pass my medal to her. Amy should keep the bronze medal she was given since her kids will get a kick out of it and she scored a new PR today!

I would have loved to have PR’d today, but am pleased that I got a good snapshot of current fitness. Realistically, I haven’t approached my 5K PR of 23:01from 18 months ago in the last year.  My last three 5Ks have all been right around 23:30. I scored my personal best (so far) at about 5 lbs. lighter than I currently weigh, and soon after I’d started training with my coach. I was a little leaner and reaping the new benefits of improved training back then.

If I want to break 23 mintues, now I’ll need to push through the fitness plateau with more speedwork — not to mention push back from the table just a little sooner and bring my weekly mileage back up to burn a few more calories. As I’m healthy and motivated, I look forward to the challenge and continued progress. That’s a big part of what makes running a rewarding, lifelong sport.



Week of May 5-11

This week, my plan was to balance continued marathon recovery with getting a little training in for the Madison Half Marathon on May 25. Two weeks after Boston, my runs felt back to normal.

For a little extra cross-training, I took my friend Noel’s kickboxing class on Wednesday. I will not be writing off cardio classes ever again. With countless squats and lunges included in the fast-paced routine, I was sore for a good three days.

April 28-May 4

Monday –  1800m swim

Tuesday — 6.2 easy (road) with 6 X strides

Wednesday —  Taught Spinning class; took Kickboxing

Thursday —  6 easy (treadmill)

Friday – 5 easy (path) with 4 X strides

Saturday — 3.1 jog/walk (dirt road, pacing a 5K) 

Sunday — 14.2 easy (road)

Totals:  ~  34.5 miles  + 3 cross training workouts

Good stuff: I rediscovered how good swimming makes my body feel. After Monday’s swim, I was both worn out and refreshed. I also loved running in the beautiful Kitty Hawk and Nags Head Woods areas of the Outer Banks Friday and Saturday. Pacing my friend Mert and spending time with friends at the beach was lovely, and I got to break in my Team StayPut gear.

post-race with Mert and Priscilla

Stuff to keep an eye on: My body feels so tight and stiff, but aside from some paltry stretching and foam rolling I did no flexbility maintenance this week. With summer vacation from work starting, I am lucky to have time to begin a daily yoga or pilates personal practice.

Goals for the week: Continue careful nutrition and ramp up yoga/core training. Use a local 5K on Saturday as a measure of current fitness.

Running For Pork Skins: A Pacer’s (Pig) Tales of a First 5K

Event: Nags Head Woods 5K
Where & When: Nags Head Woods Ecological Preserve, Kill Devil Hills NC, 8 a.m. Saturday, May 10
Results: 39:11 (12:38 minute/mile) 

At the start of the year, my good friend Mert bought her first pair of running shoes and embarked on a beginning running program. She logged run/walk workouts two to three times a week, gradually increasing her running to 30 minutes without a walk break. It was time to get a taste of racing.

The Nags Head Woods 5K, an annual run and perhaps more popular post-race party on the North Carolina Outer Banks, was coming up. Mert signed up, along with our friend Priscilla. As promised, I planned to pace Mert to her first 5K finish and registered as well.

Mert helped cheer me to a marathon PR in December 2007 with her very motivational phrase “Run, Bitch! Malt Balls!,” using my favorite candy as a dangling carrot. Now it was my turn to support her with some company and encouragement.

Priscilla’s family has a beach cottage in nearby Southern Shores, so we were able to avoid hotel costs and a pre-dawn hour’s drive from Elizabeth City on race morning. We spent a sunny Friday afternoon relaxing with some shopping, soaking up the sun, picking up race packets, dog-walking, and seafood dining before an early bedtime. I can’t remember the last time I went to bed at 9 p.m., and I must admit I loved the extra rest.

On Saturday we woke at 5:30 a.m. Four of us (Priscilla’s husband and Official Race Sherpa, Mike, had arrived Friday night) took turns getting ready in the small cottage bathroom and ate a quick breakfast. We drove to the shuttle pick-up site and had an uneventful ride to the start area, arriving at 7 a.m. The hour passed quickly with plenty of chatting, Port-a-John visits, applying bug spray needed for a run in a maritime forest, and a quick walk/jog warm up. The weather was perfect: 50 degrees, sunny, and low humidity thanks to a cool front arriving the previous evening.

The Start

It was time to line up on the dirt road where most of the 5K takes place. Mert chose a spot near the back of the pack so she could avoid going out too fast. Soon there was movement and we crossed the starting line at a relaxed pace.

Mile 1

We settled in to running. Mert did an excellent job of sticking to her intended pace, instead of getting swept along too fast like many new (and, er, not naming names but, uh, at least one more experienced) 5K runners do. She completely stayed in her own head. The course is slightly rolling with the longest uphill at mile 2.75, which we already planned to walk. Mert decided she would play every uphill by ear, walking if she felt like it. As a pacer I did my best to keep her going but not pull her along too fast, and keep her mind happy with encouragement. I carried a water bottle so she could drink whenver she wanted, and my camera to record the event for posterity:

Mert looking great in Mile 1

Mile 2

Shortly after our first mile, we caught up to another runner, Steven. He told us it was his first 5K and asked if he could stay with us. We became a trio for the rest of the race, and I did my best to distract both of them with stories of mishaps and adventures I’d encountered in previous races.  I pulled ahead again and snapped a photo of them.

First-time 5K runners Steven and Mert

By this time the leaders were approaching on their way back to the finish. “Use their energy to keep you going,” I told my runners. We cheered for the first woman and all the people we knew as they passed, making the time go quickly. We got to the half-way point in the course, where runners turn and run the circumference of an open field. The ground was spongey and muddy from Friday morning’s rain, more challenging for new runners to deal with. We walked a little more here and took off running again when we were back on the more solid-feeling dirt road.

Now it was time to dangle Mert’s favorite snack as the proverbial carrot. “Run Bitch! Pork Skins!”

One Mile to Go

At the one mile left point, the race clock read approximately 26 minutes. “Only if you feel like trying a time goal today, you can break 40 minutes by keeping this same pace to the end,” I told Mert. Both she and Steven were feeling a little fatigued, but showed no lag in energy or pace. I continued chatting as we headed to the finish, trying to be extra encouraging without going into all-out annoying cheerleader mode. “Every step is one step closer,” I told them, reminding them how satisfying it would feel to finish and how strong they would find out they were. It wasn’t long until we reached the 1/2 mile to go point and then confronted the “walker” hill before the final push to the finish. Steven was struggling a little, but not giving up. Mert, on the other hand, reached the top of the hill and shot forward. “You’re a sandbagger!” I said as I ran hard to catch her. “Keep going, we can see the finish now!” I said before running ahead one last time to get her photo finish. Priscilla was heading back to find us, and I yelled for her to run in with Mert.

The Finish

I felt silly being cheered for crossing the line at 39:11, when I all I was interested in was seeing my runner finish. I got in position and camera ready. There she was! She did it in 39:23, easily beating her impromptu time goal!

She did it!

As I went to hug Mert, she looked a bit shaky. “I’m going to throw up,” she announced. Pulling off to the side of the finish area, she promptly bent forward and made a not-so-pleasant reacquaintance with the contents of her stomach.

A sign of a gutsy run

“You’re a real runner now,” I told her proudly. “If you ran a race so hard that at the end you throw up, you know you gave it your all.”

Before long Mert recovered, and was ready to celebrate her accomplishment with her favorite snack.

Recovery fuel? 

I haven’t done that much pacing, but was reminded yesterday of what a sweet gig it is. The pacer is rewarded with considerable pride and more fun, along with the good feeling of helping — all for covering a distance at a very comfortable, non-puke inducing pace.



Post-Boston Training: Weeks 1 and 2

What? After a marathon, there’s still more training to be done?

There is, and it’s called “Recovery.” This is my absolute least favorite phase of training. Typically after a race, I am re-enthused and even more excited about running. My mind and heart want to run, but the body is stiff, tired, and achy.  Forty-eight hours post-marathon, I always catch myself marveling how two days earlier I could go for what felt like forever and now I can barely shuffle and stagger around.

Recovery is very important and necessary to allow the body to rest, heal, and repair micro-tearing and other slight wear and tear to soft tissues. Some runners live by the rule of no hard workouts for the month following a 26.2 mile race. Depending on my next adventure, I usually do a reverse taper, bringing mileage back up to a base level over three to four weeks following a marathon.

Race Week, April 21-27

Monday –  26.2 miles (Boston Marathon), quite a bit of walking through the evening

Tuesday — Considerable walking around Boston and Logan Airport

Wednesday —  Rest, if you call teaching 1 pilates and 2 yoga classes “rest.” Just another day at the office!

Thursday —  30 minute easy jog/walk ~ 2.5 miles

Friday – Rest

Saturday — Rest

Sunday — 6.5 easy (dirt road/trails)

Totals:  ~  35.2 miles  + 2 pilates and 2 yoga classes taught

Post-Race Week 1, April 28-May 4

Monday –  Rest

Tuesday — 6.5 (trail)

Wednesday —  Taught Spinning class

Thursday —  5 (road)

Friday – 4 easy jog/walk/hike (dirt road  & trails)

Saturday — 8 (paved path and overpass), 45 minute brisk walk

Sunday — 3.5 (road)

Totals:  ~  27 miles  + 2 cross training workouts, 3 pilates and 2 yoga practices.

Good stuff: After arriving back in North Carolina, I cherished wonderful company on some runs. New runner Mert, who is about to do her first 5K, helped me keep my pace comfortable twice. Lloyd visited for my birthday weekend and I got to share a favorite trail with him. My former running partner Ken was back temporarily from The Netherlands, so we had a mini-reunion of sorts with our other buddy Bill:

Albemarle Pacers reunite

On two separate occasions, I ran the Nags Head Woods nature preserve road and trails at the Outer Banks. I also got to turn a “good-bye for now” at RDU into trail time with an hour on the multi-use dirt path at neighboring Umstead State Park, which had dried out four weeks after the soggy 100-Mile Endurance Run.

Stuff to keep an eye on: Nutrition! Gah! Two weeks of much less activity, a gluttonous carbo-loading phase, post-marathon noshing on malt balls, pizza, and beer, and a couple birthday parties = a currently chubbyish runner. Experience has taught me that I will self-regulate and re-balance well, especially as I add back mileage, so I am just being careful to avoid junk and alcohol right now rather than restrict intake.

Goals for the week:  If I’m feeling good, extend a scheduled 10-mile long run to more like 14 to sneak in a little training for a half marathon I’m planning on the 25th.  Continue listening to my body, do lots of stretching, and most of all rest.