Saturday, January 31, 2009

Candy Canes and Kona

Enough with inauguration and my shoes. It's back to business.

Back to business meant Black Monday, a day when more than 75,000 people were laid off in the U.S. My small company was not untouched, I am sad to say, although by the grace of God I still have a job. It was a hard hard week.

On today's schedule was a 10 miler. I had to decide whether to run with my official group, the Montgomery County Road Runners Speed Development Program, or with the good ol' Snail Trails. The Snails run on a path that's about 5-minutes from my house, but it's a always a crap shoot whether there will be anyone there who is going the distance you need. I knew with the SDP (enrollment=300) I'd have plenty of company.

The SPD-ers met at 7 a.m. (RealFeel=6F) this morning at a site charmingly called Candy Cane City. Doesn't that just evoke Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? I am quite vexed and sad to report that, though scenic, there was no candy to be found.

Our pace groups are based on our most recent 10k race, which for me, was my glorious PR at the Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot: 1:06. Our coach then calculated our paces for various runs (you know you love all the details):

DistanceEasyThresholdInterval RecoveryRACE, you idiot
1000 6:406:10 

So I started this morning with my group of four, and we were running 12 minute miles—on purpose!! YES!

Except, it soon started feeling...too slow.

And that's coming from someone who last week tried to run 8 miles in Charleston, South Carolina, (where I was attending a writing workshop run by Natalie Goldberg--if you've heard of her tell me what you think) and managed only SIX, in a blazing 1:20, which included the part where I fell and ripped my spiffy new New Balance running tights to shreds (size L). (Along with my knee. And hands. But the tights! Marked down to $30!!!)

This is why I will never understand running. EVER. One day your legs are encased in cement, the next day you're...only slogging through mud.


About three miles in, two runners joined our small group, and after a bit one of them asked, "Who here is a triathlete?"

Ah, the magic words. I wormed my way beside this tall fellow, P., and we started chit-chatting about triathlon, me bragging about my 4-hour Olympic finishes. Finally I realized that it would be polite to maybe ask what races he had done (ya think??) so I did, adding, jokingly "However, if you say 'Kona,' this conversation is over."

Well, you can guess the rest. He said oh Eagleman this, and Battleship that, and blah blah, ending with: "Kona Ironman Triathlon World Championships, 2004."

No you did NOT just say Kona.

I ran my 10 miles this morning with not just any old Ironman, but a KONA Ironman, with a 15-hour finish and no crawling and this guy said it was the best experience of his life. So I grilled him about it for the next eight miles or so, trying to wring out of him the part where he gave up, where his spirit wilted, where he questioned his sanity, where it all fell apart.

Nope. Nada. All he could report is how he felt: "I'm in the Kona Ironman and you're going to have to surgically remove the smile from my face."

Me: "But...didn't it hurt? Didn't your BUTT get sore?" (I'm detail-oriented like that.)

Him: "Well yes! Duh! But I'm in the Kona Ironman and you're going to have to surgically remove the smile from my face."

Well then what about after, I bet you needed an IV, almost collapsed, legs fell off?? "I went back to the condo, went to sleep, woke up thirsty after 4 hours so had a drink of water, hung around the pool the next day, and then went horseback riding."


Plus, this fellow is starting a new tri club: Montgomery County Multisport Club. (P., just put the check in the mail. Heh.)

Back to this morning's run. Me, P. and J. kind of left my pace group behind (which is a big no-no and I don't know quite what to do about that) and ran somewhere between 10 and 11 miles in 1:50, which puts my pace somewhere between 10:30 and 11 minute miles.

The fastest 10 (or 11) miles I've ever run--ever!

Someone has to explain how running 12:15 minute miles on my long runs is going to make me faster. Cuz I'm not buying it.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Inauguration and Track Workouts*

*I'm sure there's real clever headline in there somewhere, but I'm too lazy to think it up. Submit your entries in the comment field.

Number One Daughter and I went down to the National Mall on Inauguration day. Lucky for us we got turned back early trying to get close, so we didn't get caught up with the ticketholders, those very lucky people who managed to nab the elusive-yet-highly-sought-after-sometimes-standing-room-only tickets that were close up...and who sadly got stuck outside of the gates and saw nothing. Major fail.

We, on the other hand, settled for the Jumbotron on the grounds of the Washington Monument. Covered with every article of clothing we owned, plus hand and foot warmers, we froze.

Freedom of speech. It's a weird and wonderful thing.

Back of the White House, from the Washington Monument grounds, early a.m. About 20 minutes after I took this, people stood should-to-shoulder right up to that fence. Not such a safe arrangement.


Happy Inaugural Day, Nod!

The huddled masses, waiting, waiting, waiting.

It took me a while to realize that people were not just waving at the Jumbotron.

Afterwards: NOD and BF on the loooong walk back to the MetroBus. Once we got out of the spine-crushing crowd, it was smooth sailing. Definitely beat waiting in two hour lines for Metro (tip to out-of-towners: MetroBuses are often faster and less crowded during peak events).

As soon as the (mangled) oath of office was taken, we beat it out of there, because I had to get home and start getting ready for the Bytes and Books ball at the lovely Folger Shakespeare Library on Capitol Hill.

I was there on a press pass, so I was sort of working (although if you're one of my bosses reading this, I was TOTALLY working every minute). We missed George Lucas (he was being honored), along with Ted Kennedy (who hospitalized earlier that day), so there wasn't a whole lot to do. So I schmoozed.

Let me just say that I have a lot to learn about schmoozing. My feet, despite looking incredibly hawt
were killing me, so I sat down at one of the few tables, along with an older gentleman and his wife. He was retired, military, jolly looking. He was soon regaling me with stories about...his mattress (I am not making this up), the one with magnets in it (still not making this up), that cured his back (yay), and how his cure was so complete he had to start selling this product (ut-oh) and he is now into multi-level marketing (need. exit. now.) and he wanted to know, did I take vitamins? Um, yes! (Can I go?)

Retired General: I want you to try the water from my filtration system, and then try your water, and then I'm going to test how strong you are, and I'll be able to tell you if you're getting the right vitamins (riiiiiight)

RG: I'm afraid I must ask you something personal (wait for it): What color is your urine? Is it very yellow? You know you are just urinating out all those supplements, don't you?

Me: So NICE to talk to you, must dash...

How is it possible, I ASK YOU, for me to sit next to the ONE MULTILEVEL marketer in the entire room and NOT only that, to sit next to, oh, I'm going to take a wild guess and say, probably the ONLY man in that room of tuxedos and ball gowns who wanted to know WHAT COLOR MY URINE WAS?? HOW????

And, here, (for the two of you not on FaceBook), is your moment of Zen:

Track Workouts!

Last Wednesday's track workout:
6x400, at a 2:25 pace, with 400 recovery, a mile warmup and a mile cooldown. I did this:

1 mile warmup: 12:08
1st 400: 2:06
Recovery: 3:02
2nd 400: 2:09
recovery: 2:58 (2 miles)
3rd 400: 2:16
recovery: 3:05
4th 400: 2:27
recovery:2:59 (3 miles)
5th 400: 2:25
recovery: 2:59
6th 400: 2:21
recovery: 3:02 (4 miles)
1 mile cooldown: 12:02 5 miles

Yay me, although my coach did tell me I needed to slow down. It's such a bother getting told that.


Tonight's track workout was canceled, because .00001 inches of snow fell in Washington D.C., so school was canceled, so no track. Instead, we were sent to the treadmills to do 4x800 with 400 recovery, which in treadmill lingo meant 5 minutes at threshold pace (I have NO idea what that means, I just like saying it). It means run faster, I think. So I did 5 minutes at 9:20 min/pace and 3 minute recovery. Times four. Plus one mile cooldown. It felt good too.

So, what have you been up to?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Inauguration Days

Some shots from the concert, Sunday, Jan. 19, 2009. We managed to worm our way to the front. If you were claustrophobic, you would not have lasted a minute.

Camouflaged hummers in the streets of Washington. Very weird.

The line went this way and then back on itself a few times. Luckily I knew a back entrance. Thanks, running!

Could I just please squeeze in here??

It's freakin' cold.

We squeeze good.

There was a problem with the sound, leading to widespread panic.


The Rising. We all cried.

Stevie sings Higher Ground. We are rockin'!

See? Rockin'

MY BOYFRIEND!!!! (That would be Bono), singing PRIDE. More crying.

and believe it or not, there are more!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Speed Development Program and Get Me to the Ball on Time

In between my finagling invitations to an inaugural ball, and running around trying to find a gown, I managed to attend the first and second sessions of the Montgomery Country Road Runners speed development program.

Based on my weekly mileage and recent race times, I was assigned to the Red program and placed in the 10:30 pace group. But the Red group will be spending the first six weeks basically learning how to run so I took the liberty of upgrading myself to White. White's first workout: 1 mile warmup, 3 miles striding on the straights and jogging on the curves, and 1 mile cooldown.

What's a stride you ask? I asked too. You just run like you're on fire on the straights, in lanes 1 and 2 (the inside ones), and then move to the outside when you're jogging.


All 300 of us got sent out in groups, and amazingly, no one got hurt.

Mile one went by in 10:42, and then the work started. The hardest part? Counting. I don't know how people keep track of ladder workouts. I have enough trouble counting to four.

My "jogs" got progressively slower, though I tried hard to continue running all out on the strides.

mile 2: 7:41 +2:38 (counting)
mile 3: 10:55
mile 4: 11:13
mile 5 cooldown: a blistering 12:03

I was sooooooooooo excited at the end of this workout, I can't even tell you. Maybe I finally experienced the runner's high. I dunno, but I was thrilled, I felt great, I was so happy, I had no desire to ever eat anything again and I could barely sleep that night. May all my workouts leave me so exhilarated.

Assignment number two was to run the club's 4 mile "Shooting Star" race on Saturday morning at 8 a.m.

It was a little chilly Saturday morning.
Thermometer at the start of the race

I wore three layers, plus the ubiquitous blue running vest, plus a neck gaiter that I could pull up over my face, plus my heavy duty running pants, and two hats. I pulled the neck gaiter over my nose and the warm air made my glasses fog up. Pulled it down and my nose froze. Pulled it up and glasses fogged. Pulled it down and glasses stayed fogged...because the fog had frozen on the glasses. Now I had to take off my gloves and wipe off my glasses...Rinse, repeat. At mile 2 I finally stopped to take the neck gaiter off, which meant I had to take off my glasses and my hats, hold them, while pulling the neck gaiter off. The neck gaiter which I will soon be ripping into shreds. I'm calling one minute just for all the wiping of the glasses and pulling the gaiter up and down, and arghhhhhhhhhhh!

The route itself was fun, a mile through the woods on a paved path and then a mile through a neighborhood, two loops, with a few hills thrown in. Around mile 2 someone pulled up nearby and said, "Are you blogger Jeanne? I'm blogger *Jeanne*, with asterisks!" So that was fun. The blue vest has its uses.

I honestly thought I was running about 12 minutes miles. Turns out I wasn't:

Shooting Star 4 miler:
4/8 Jeanne McCann 51 Bethesda MD MCRRC 42:58 10:45

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Are Goals Just Wishes in Disguise?

After much hemming and hawing and interviewing a few highly-priced people, I finally signed up with a coach.

No, not that kind of a coach, a lifecoach.

Cuz I'm turning 52 next month and there are a few things I'd still like to accomplish (such as deciding what I want to be when I grow up) in the next, oh 50 years or so, and I was having a hard time making a decision. ANY decision. About anything.

So enter the lifecoach. I found one who offered a special online deal at a reasonable rate, and I decided to go for it.

This required a serious suspension of cynicism, along with the disabling of my ever present, ever ready b.s. meter.

Done, and done.

First thing this coach had us do (she's coaching a bunch of people, individually, but with the same assignments, if that makes sense) is brainstorm goals in all areas of our life: career, fun/creativity, fitness/health, relationships, home, personal/spiritual growth, money and self-care. And for each area, we had to pick one "thrilling" goal.

OK, this is all very familiar, no rocket science here. Still, I'm paying for it, so I'm doing it.

At the end week one, we were to winnow down our lists to the TOP TEN GOALS we wanted to achieve in 2009.

I wrote the coach for clarification: Were we to pick practical, actually achievable goals, or pie-in-the-sky goals? The answer came back:
If a magic genie popped out of a bottle and said:

"I'm here to instantly give you ten goals from your list. Which ones
do you really want the most?"

What would your answer be?
Cynical self suspended, CHECK!

So here ya go, my top ten thrilling goals for 2009!

1. Make $1 million dollars
2. Live overseas (uk) for part of the year.
3. Find my ideal neighborhood and move there.
4. Meet my soulmate.
5. Be at my ideal weight.
6. Become financially secure for life.
7. Write a book that makes the NYTimes bestseller list.
8. Run 9 min mile pace.
9. Get a degree from Oxford University.
10. Always look well-put together.

Of course, I could knock out #1 if #3 happened and he happened to be a millionaire. That could potentially take care of #6, too. Number 7? That's the big, never-actually-vocalized goal that I've probably been dreaming about since, oh, birth. Ditto for number 5. Number 10 I can manage most of the time already, so maybe I wasted a wish with that one. Number nine? Well she said dream BIG. Number nine could happen, and would knock out #2, and possibly #3!

See? It's all coming together!

I have a funny feeling, though, that there's going to be another assignment very soon, requiring, like, ACTION.

Whaddya think?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Is This Thing On?

Running got hard again.

My workouts this week consisted of:
3 miles last Sunday
spinning on Thursday
5 mile run this morning, Saturday, with the trailsnails, which I limped through, running alongside a 3:25 marathoner, who was kind enough to slow down to snail pace.

Today was also orientation for my new speed development program. The program consists of one track workout on Tuesday nights, and one long run on Saturday mornings. A total of 330 people signed up. How do you get 330 people running on a track at once?? I guess I'll find out. It was a long orientation session, set in a local high school cafeteria, and as our coach spoke, I could feel myself getting hotter and queasier. I'd been under the weather earlier in the week, but thought I had it beat. Maybe not.

Anywho, next Saturday is our first race, a 4-miler, which will help determine which pace group we should be in. The groups are broadly divided, thusly:

* The Red program is for runners whose long run is between 4 to 6 miles and weekly mileage is between 10 to 15 miles.
* The White program is for runners whose long run is between 6 to 8 miles and weekly mileage is between 15 to 25 miles a week.
* The Blue program is for runners whose long run is between 10 to 12 miles and weekly mileage is over 25 miles a week.

and as usual, I don't fit into any of them. My long run is between 6-8 miles but my total mileage per week? um...

Last year's total mileage:
541.6 Mi
for an average pace of
11:13 min. miles

OR we can examine it this way:
Dec 2008 54.6 Mi 11:15
Nov 2008 51.1 Mi 11:14
Oct 2008 42.3 Mi 11:13
Sep 2008 32.1 Mi 12:00
Aug 2008 46.1 Mi 10:55
Jul 2008 34.1 Mi 11:00
Jun 2008 32.1 Mi 11:03
May 2008 30.2 Mi 10:47
Apr 2008 29.4 Mi 11:52
Feb 2008 46.5 Mi 11:20
Jan 2008 63.3 Mi 10:28

541 hours divided by 52 weeks?? doesn't look so good, does it.


With that, I'm off to my sickbed.

Friday, January 02, 2009

The Perfect Day

I planned to write a glorious epic post recalling all my dreams, hopes and wishes for 2008, assessing how they came out, including charming Christmas photos showing all the new loot I got gave, but all I can think, or write about, is my NEW 5k PR that I set on Jan. 1, 2009.

Montgomery County Road Runners New Years 2009 5k:
1/1/09: 53/126 5/10 Jeanne McCann 51 29:48 (9:36 min./mile)

(Feel free to skip the rest of this post, as that's really the best part right there.)

You will recall the sad episode of the 5k Christmas Caper, where I missed running sub-30 by 1 second and had the audacity to try to sweet talk the race director into changing my time (or something like that). He held firm, though, leaving me no choice but to run yet another 5k.

I rang in the New Year with my BFFs at a PJ party where we drank champagne, talked about boys and sex, and laughed our heads off.

As much fun as I was having, and despite many tempting pleas to spend the night, I'm an ATHLETE darnit, and in training. There was nothing for it but to bundle up and and drive home, because I had a date with a 5k the next morning, and one of us was going down and it was NOT going to be me.

I set my brain for 29:30, since last time I had it set for 29:59, which was obviously not enough of a cushion. I fell asleep around 2 a.m., champagne bubbles floating above my head, listening to the 50mph winds tearing up the trees outside my window, a smile on my face.

New Year's Day dawned cold, 25F, but the wind had died down. I went through the motions of getting dressed in my nice new Christmas present Nike cozy warm turtleneck (thanks, E.!) and the blue vest that is known far and wide around the Metro D.C. area, because, well, it's all I ever wear (Brooks Motion Vest--shop around, you can find it much cheaper).

Unsurprisingly, I had the road to myself at 9 a.m. New Years Day. At times like these, I just try to turn my brain off (I hear you sniggering) lest it talk me out of things. Which I knew it was trying to do. So I stopped at a 7-11 to get some of my secret weapon

and since I don't drink caffeine, this stuff really gets me going, if you catch my drift.

I hopped around outside waiting for the start. Hopped because I was hopped up on no sleep and now plenty of caffeine and? I was freezing to death.

Old School Runner was there volunteering, as is his tradition, and documented the occasion. Here I am hopping:

This is a double-loop course, starting with a rather large downhill to a cul-de-sac, back up on the other side, where the course flattens out to another cul-de-sac, then repeats.

My canny plan: Run like hell until you drop.

mile 1: 9:10 (and that includes stopping to tie my shoe!)
mile 2: 9:30
mile 3.1: 11:00 (i've got the dropping part down, cold)

Finally running with both feet off the ground, the way the Big Kids do it.

Not hurling, just stretching. All photos courtesy of Old School Runner, thanks, Kent!

Montgomery County Road Runners New Years 2009 5k:
1/1/09: 53/126 5/10 Jeanne McCann 51 29:48 (9:36 min./mile)

1/1/08: 63/98 5/12 Jeanne McCann 50 30:22 (9:47 min./mile)

1/1/07: 63/83 10/11 Jeanne McCann 49 33:16 (10:42 min./mile)

As usual, I texted and wrote everyone I knew to tell them. And for once, the official results were the same as my unofficial one. Hells yeah!

The rest of the day I did nothing but snuggle on the couch, read and nap.

Like I said, it was The Perfect Day.