Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Week After the Week That Was

I know I owe you all a love-life update but I ran outta time, so it will just have to wait! (And that sentence right there could quite possibly completely substitute for the update.)

After an action-packed week of the Boston Marathon (spectating, not running, for you new people out there), a fantastic 20-mile bike ride, and the Pike's Peek 10K...I'm a lost soul.

My beloved Speed Development Program held its awards banquet on Tuesday, and I was sad. I was sad because I didn't win a damn thing! To get a certificate suitable for framing you had to have decreased your pace at the Pike's Peek 10k by one minute over (under?) the pace group you were assigned to in January 2009.

I was in the 10:30 pace group.

My Pike's Peek pace: 10:38.

Not certificate-worthy!

It sorta kinda looks like I increased my pace by :08. Which is totally a lie. Even if technically true.


I really thought I was going to get the Spirit Award! Or the Showing Up Award! The Bravest??

I'm not bitter.

(I'm so bitter.)

I have no other road races planned. Just Nation's Oly tri in September, another Oly in August and a sprint in June.

So tonight I started toying with the idea of marathon training. It's just a phase, I think. I don't actually want to run another marathon, silly. Do I??

Meanwhile: Here's a good story. I only managed to get one swim in while in Boston last week, and man, was I fast!!! I finished 1500 yards in 30 minutes. Holy crap!

As I climbed out of the pool, impressed with my prowess, I took a look back, squinting through my odd prescription goggles. And then took another look at my time. And then? I decided to ask the lifeguard that fatal question: Err, how long is this pool?

Answer: 20 yards.

As in: Not 25 yards.

As in 100 ≠ 4 laps.

As in 4 laps = 80.


And: I seem to have lost a bra somewhere between D.C. and Boston. No kidding. Not a regular one either. A specially-fitted one that cost a chunk of change!

I should have sewn my address into the label.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Pike's Peek 10K 2009 Race Report

"Homo proponit, sed Deus disponit"
—Thomas a Kempis

"God laughs while men make plans."

April 26, 2009, Pike's Peek 10K:
NET: 1:06:03
PACE: 10:38
PLACE: 51/77
AGE: 52

It was hot, and I tanked. The end.

Technically, this is a 17-second PR, if you don't count the 10K PRs I set in the Cherry Blossom 10 miler, or the National Half. (Which I apparently AM counting.)

I've been training for this race, the goal race of the Montgomery County Road Runners Club Speed Development Program, since JANUARY.

We ran in cold, wind, rain, snow, and ice. We did endless repeats. When there was too much snow on the track we ran in the surrounding neighborhoods, at night, in the dark. I missed ONLY two track workout in this 15-week program.

What I'm saying is: I DESERVED to run fast! Right?? Wrong!

My goal: 60 minutes.

Some predictions:

My coach: 10:00 min miles. Coach said: "In general, I’ve noticed (over the years) about a 15 to 30 sec per mile improvement over the pace group I put you in at the beginning of the year." (He's been running this program for 7 years.) My pace group was 10:30. Sorry, big fella!

McMillan's Happy Prediction
, based on my 10 mile PR of 1:47:02: 1:03:52

McMillan's Freakishly Accurate Prediction, based on my 1/2 mary PR of 2:27:36: 1:06:20

I have to admit I had a hate on for this race. I hate the course, which is 6.2 miles of a suburban asphalt jungle. No trees. No scenic nothing. Just strip malls, and cars. I don't even like driving on this road. Maybe I just couldn't deal with the heat (oh yeah, here's another race where they ran out of water cups! is there a cup shortage in D.C.??). Temps were 75F with 85 percent humidity. But quite possibly? The runner just didn't have it.

I had carefully planned to follow Coach Tom's advice, which is so good I'll just repeat it all here:
The most important thing I hope you take away from this program is a sense of pacing. Some of you needed to learn that you could still run harder even when you felt bad and some of you need to learn how to slow down to run a more even pace. In any case the most important aspect of becoming a better runner is to learn to listen to your body and adjust the pace accordingly. The better you become at that, the more successful you will become as a runner and racer.

...Start the race by feeling like you are holding yourself want to hit those miles about 5 sec slower than your targeted pace. The middle two miles should be run at targeted pace. You will hit the up hills in this section, stay relaxed and don’t push too hard up the hills, save it for the downhills. The last 2.2 should be run about 5 sec per mile faster than pace. Remember to give yourself a little mental push around Congressional Plaza as you will start to feel bad around then and need to remind yourself to keep pushing the pace. Once you hit the 6 mile mark run as fast as you can into the finish. It’s a giant downhill so there is no excuse not to go really fast. You can make up for a lot of earlier mistakes in the race in this last downhill so take advantage of it.

Oh the plans I had! I scripted it all on the back of my hand:
Miles 1 & 2: 10:05, Miles 3 & 4: 10:00, Miles: 5 & 6: 9:50

Cleverly dismissing Coach Tom's advice, here's what I did instead:
Mile 1: 9:25
Mile 2: 9:44
Mile 3: 10:18 (just doing brilliantly! Not!)
5K: 30:31
Mile 4: 10:21
Mile 5: 12:34 (just gave up. Why? WHY???)
Mile 6: 11:50
.2: 1:52

On a good note, they had great food at the end! And despite my poor showing, I highly recommend this program. I set significant PRs at every distance—other than the one we trained for—over the course of this program. Coach Tom is truly outstanding.


Nov. 27, 2008: Bethesda YMCA Turkey Chase:
NET: 1:06:20
PACE: 10:41
PLACE: 59/89
AGE: 51

May 14, 2006: YMCA Mother's Day 10k:
NET: 1:07:15
PACE: 10:49
AGE: 49

Dec. 11, 2005: Jingle All the Way, D.C.:
NET: 1:08:22
PACE: 11:00/mile
AGE: 48

"What doesn't kill us, makes us stronger."
somebody else

Friday, April 24, 2009

Boston Marathon 2009 Spectators' Report

I flew to Boston on Sunday to visit with ye olde college roommate, the photojournalist, Renee, and to catch Thomas and Ray in action on Monday, Patriot's Day, the 113th Boston Marathon.

After much texting and e-mailing back and forth about who would be where when [sample: Thomas: "What mile will we be at? Well, I'll start at mile 0 and will end at mile 26.2, visiting all the miles in-between in ascending order ...."; Ray: "No idea what pace aside from first wave. I’d guess though somewhere in the low 7’s seems like it’ll be fun and casual." SO VERY HELPFUL BOTH OF YOU], we decided on two viewing sites: first, between miles 13 and 14, and last, between miles 22 and 23.

We got there nice and early. Early enough to see this!

Elite women, mile 14ish

and this:
Marching people.

and this:

Team Noah was bookin' it.

and this:
#8858 Richard Whitehead, 32 M Nottingham GBR (in case you couldn't tell where he's from) 3:02:44 6:58 min./mile.*

As usual, I dressed for success:
Why won't people tell me I look crazy before I leave the house??? WHY??? Oh, and that's Davey the Clown standing with me. He has a rubber chicken sticking my leopard-begloved hand sticking out of his head, and yes, he is holding a rubber chicken, yet—somehow—I look like the crazy one.*

My only defense is that it was chilly and windy. Of course you won't believe me when you see the following photos.

I saw Thomas at both locations. He was in the zone at the first sighting, which he explains in his race report.

Both these guys had let me know what they'd be wearing. Thomas: "I'm planning on wearing a bright orange singlet with "Star of the Laune A.C." printed on it. It should be rather distinctive."

Well, you'd think so, wouldn't you Thomas?

I saw 10,000 orange singlets. OK, maybe they didn't all say "Star of the Laune A.C." on them. Luckily Renee has a keen eye.

I believe what Thomas was trying to convey here was the sense of the whole being greater than the parts.*

Or, maybe just ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch.*

Thomas was pulling down 6:50 minute miles. You know, the way you do in a marathon. If you are superhuman.

Ray, despite having let me know that he'd be wearing a BLUE singlet, eluded us. He was probably running backwards or something.

But eagle-eyed Renee caught Thomas again around mile 22ish:

Thomas reacts as he hears me screeching his name.*

He looks right as rain to me.*

Since I can count on exactly no hands the number of times an attractive young man has jumped out of a marathon to hug me, I was struck dumb. We communicated nonetheless. I highly recommend meeting someone for the first time this way.*

Ray was not far behind. In fact, he was exactly 11 seconds behind.

Ray takes time to tell me, "Jeanne, you're number one!"*

And...he takes my photo. One of 147 he will take along the course.*

My partners in crime:
l-r: Poor sad blog-less Bruce, Renee, Sarah

And after that I scurried downtown to meet Thomas, my camera ran out of batteries, I gave him some crappy fine, fine D.C. t-shirts, he gave me FINE CHINA from Ireland, I bought him some fried dough, we laughed, he cried, and then? He was gone.

There's more to this story but it will just have to wait.

Still to come: How Runner Susan saves Jeanne's love life.

*Photos courtesy Renee Dekona.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Headed for Boston

Yes, I'm heading for the Boston Marathon.

Did I forget to mention that?

I've been saying this all week at work, and some people actually thought I'd be running it. Oh, I crack myself up.

No, I'm going to watch D.C. Rainmaker and, from across the pond, Thomas from Diary of a Rubbish Marathoner, break the sound barriers. I hope to actually meet Thomas, cuz I have a few sweet presents for him from D.C. (sorry, Ray, don't be sad), and at least get good photos of both.

I'm staying with my college roommate and meeting a former work colleague, both of whom happen to be professional photographers. I will try to cajole them into taking photos for me, because mine will probably suck.

In other news, I failed to set any PRs this weekend. (I know, hard to believe, right?) Instead, I did a 6-mile preview run of next Sunday's Pike's Peek 10k, the target race for my speed development program. We met at 6:30 a.m. and ran down Rockville Pike, which has been described as "an asphalt jumble of car dealerships, strip shopping centers and fast-food restaurants," which is putting it kindly. It was gross.

I drove home, showered, changed, and raced up to Centennial Park, Columbia, MD, for D.C. Tri's annual brick-nic, which you may remember from last year.

I remember being on a hybrid bike last year and not being able to ride the full 17.5 miles. I remember walking up one hill. It was brutal.

This year I hung out with some New New triathletes and the memories came flooding back! All those worries about clipless pedals and flying downhill, riding in traffic, and falling over. Wait...that was just last week.

I could definitely see the difference in my fitness level. This year I did the full distance, managed all the uphills, and felt fine, even on not-so-fresh legs. Everything was perfect. Well, it would have been perfect if Henry Ford had never been born. I felt quite homicidal by the end of the ride because of the $#!@ cars that sped by every few seconds. I especially appreciated the pickups that drove close to me on purpose and then leaned on the horn. Helps to get the old heart rate up.

Since I had already run, I got to skip the Brick part of the Brick-nic, which is just as well, because I couldn't really stand up straight afterwards. All I can say is: Four months of spinning does not equal four months of cycling. Ah well.

The gang.

Modeling the latest in headbands.

Next: How Runner Susan singlehandedly changed my love life.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Then She Ran the Firebirds Mile

The people spoke.

Poll Results:
Firebirds Mile: 57.9%
Regular workout: 38.6
And 5.3 percent of you wanted me on the couch watching "Housewives"?? WTF?!

So I listened. (And I still got home in time for "Housewives." Sweet!)

The Firebirds Mile, held 4/14, is a joint effort of the Gaithersburg Firebirds Youth Track Club and the Montgomery Country Road Runners.

As usual, after battling D.C. traffic all the way to God's little acre, I was in a foul mood. My stomach was doing flipflops, and I was resigned to an 11 min mile. Plus, it was, yet again, raining, cold, and windy. Perfect.

My coach had sent directions about how to prepare: One mile warmup, 800m of strides (something like "run hard on the straights and jog the turns").

My legs felt encased in cement as I warmed up, and I just knew this was gonna suck. Afterwards, I got off the track to watch the 1/4 mile fun run, and my warmed-up muscles evaporated in the cold.

If you are ever in a bad mood, please, go cheer for a bunch of toddlers as they participate in a fun run. Hiiiilarious! They skip, race, walk, stop, turn around, ask to be carried, run, whatever. As one little guy approached the chute, he stopped to fiddle with his shoe.

You know, kind of the way I run a half-mary!

There weren't that many adults there, at least not that many adults my age. That meant there was the wild possibility that I might win my AG.

We were sent out in heats (or COLDS, as I prefer to call them), slowest to fastest. Heat one was for expected finish times greater than 10:00. I considered this, because hello, that's kinda my speed. But when I saw the competition, I just couldn't bear the thought of having my butt kicked by these guys:

(Heat One, 10 minutes and slower)

Heat two was for expected finish times greater than 9:00 up to 10:00

(Heat two. I so wanted to get in front of these kids, it took all my self-restraint. That, plus the derision of others. I'm wearing a white hat, looking down.)

(Those kids had a totally unfair advantage. I'm still in the back, checking my watch.)

I started conservatively. I really wanted to do this in 9:something. I'd been doing 800s in 4:30ish, so I figured this was a possibility.

I passed a few kids, and said "Great job!," cuz I'm nice like that.

At the first lap, I was behind a line of grownups. We were running in formation:

Then, suddenly, I made my move, by swinging wiiiiiide outside:

Slowly but surely, Mr. Run for the Roses was going DOWN:

I passed all of the grown ups, except the Roses guy!

Oh, honey, I know exactly how you feel:
Her coach came out and ran with her, and she recovered nicely. Well done!)

But I passed her too.

And then in a surprise come-from-behind, I passed Mr. Roses. Here I am flying into the chute, after having tossed my hat off during lap three, cuz it was cramping my style:
(For the record? I am at my skinniest EVER, and I totally deny looking like this. White is ever-so-NOT-slimming.)

Final time:

I have to tell you, there is no greater feeling on earth than starting behind and passing a pile of people. I don't care if they are 3 feet tall, or a bunch of old geezers like me, it was AWESOME!

I finally got a mile that starts with an "8"!

I can't wait to do that again.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Even Stupid People Know to Come In Out of the Rain

Another chapter in the long-playing saga of Not Born to Run.

A 12-mile run was scheduled on Saturday...unless there was a New Triathlete Program bike ride, which I had volunteered to help out on, but which was going to be canceled if the weather turned yucky...

So I figured the bike ride was canceled on Saturday morning, since it was raining and 30F AND windy. A trifecta of crap! A crapecta! Bike ride off, 12 mile run on! I pulled on my running duds, got in the elevator, went down to the front door, opened it, stepped outside...and no. No way. Back in the elevator, back upstairs, right to my door. Stop. "C'mon! You can DO this! You've done it a million times before!" Back to the elevator, back downstairs, out the front door, this time down the steps, where I stood there...and No. Way. Not Happening.

Back upstairs and into a toasty warm bed.

Too bad the bike ride was actually ON. I had now effectively skipped two workouts. This? Made me cranky.

It's possible that I was tired. (Have I mentioned before that I'm TIRED?? Thanks for all your fine, fine advice!) It didn't help that my neighbors have all decided to go beserk at the same time. Friday night, my downstairs neighbors decided to stand on the balcony--JUST BELOW the window that my bed is against—and SMOKE, and talk and yell at the top of their lungs. We called the cops not once, but three times. It's possible that someone in my apartment leaned over my balcony and yelled at them. Just to make sure they knew exactly who called the cops.


Sunday dawned bright and clear and chilly, after another night of different neighbors going beserk on their balcony, so I had to sweet-talk myself into getting at least 10 miles done. I brought Phedippidations along with me—I've been running iPod-less for the past year at least, so this was a big treat—and I got 'er done. Number One Daugher and I had a lovely Easter, and I ate about 10 lbs of chocolate.

My fifth swim lesson was this morning. My instructor had me swimming on my back with fins, working on my kick, and? I was drowning. I mentioned this to her, and she said, "I'm not really concerned with that right now, I'm concentrating on your kick." She cracks me up. She's been timing my 50s, which is freaking nerve-wracking, and in one week I went from 1:04s to :53s. Of course I'm tossing up a lung at the end.

Tuesday night is my last track workout in the Speed Dev Program! My how time ... sort of flies. Not really. I both look forward to and loathe the end of track. But tomorrow night we have the choice of doing a track workout, or doing the Firebird mile race. Which sounds pretty horrifying. I need some solid advice from the masses. Crowdsource me. Take my handy dandy poll:

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

On Track and Asleep

Only two weeks left in the Montgomery County Road Runners Speed Development program—a 15-looooooooooooooong week program.

And I only missed two track workouts—once due to calf crampage and once due to my teeth.

Our coach told us Tuesday night that he had received more than 50 e-mails from people who ran Cherry Blossom and who PR'dd—the most PRs this group has ever set. If you live in/near Montgomery County and want to get faster, this program is the way to do it. He wrote me and said, "So you have a 1/2 marathon, 10m and 10k PR in the span of two weeks, that's awesome!"


So by Tuesday night, my right calf was a little tight from Sunday's Cherry Blossom, and Monday morning's ass-kicking swim instruction, where despite my protestations that I was fatigued, my swimming instructor made no allowances. By Tuesday night, the temp had dropped from 70F on Sunday to 30F. In fact, when I got to the track, it was actually snowing.

4x800 was on the sked. An easy night! My Interval goal time: 5:00.

1st 800: 4:31
R 3:10
2nd 800: 4:40
R 3:10
3rd 800: 4:34
R 3:01
4th 800: 4:46
R 3:46

No question, I'm getting faster. I wish this program continued throughout the summer, cuz you know there's no way I'm doing track work on my own. You've met me, right?

Our goal race, the culmination of ALL this effort, is the Pike's Peek 10k, which is a net downhill course, where people set mad crazy PRs. My insane goal is to do it in 1 hour. I have some other goals as back ups (2 hours, upright, etc.). I have no idea why we're running 12 miles in anticipation of a 10k race tomorrow. Which is why I might just skip tomorrow and instead get on that neglected thing called a B-I-K-E.

Thursday I did 1500 yards in the pool, with all kinds of crazy swim things. Swimming is kicking my ass. Friday (today) I slept in.

So my total HalfIronmanProgram workouts this week? I ran 5 miles on Tuesday (well plus 10 on Sunday) and swam 1500 on Thursday. This does not a HIPster make.

So Tired

I'm sure it's just mental, but I've been going to bed at 8:30 and getting decent sleep and waking up exhausted. I coulda/shoulda taken the bike out today, after attending Good Friday service. Instead I came home and went directly to bed.

What the hell is happening? Am I finally feeling my age? Am I getting sick? Why can't I workout like I did last year?? It's making me depressed.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

More Cherry Blossom

I was apparently breathing fire here. Some important building is behind me. And yes, I know it LOOKS like there's loads of room around me, but it's just a trick of the camera.

Frontal view.

Side view, courtesy Number One Daughter. Sweat? Priceless.

NOD and me. I always look so happy AFTER a race.

For some really spectacular photos, check out D.C. Rainmaker's post.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Cherry Blossom 10 Miler: PR!

Picture yourself in a phone booth with 50 of your best friends, trying to run.

That's kind of how this 12,000-strong race felt.

My speed development coach had warned us that the course would be tight for the first mile but would clear out after that.

Um, no.

I started in the last wave, and was immediately boxed in. There was literally nowhere to go. By mile 4 when there was STILL no sign of any clearing happening, I was getting grumpy (shocker), despite the absolutely perfect gorgeous weather and beautiful cherry trees and scenic...scenery. It FINALLY cleared out a little by 8 miles.

See what I'm sayin'?? Like this, pretty much the whole way! Photo courtesy D.C. Rainmaker, who somehow managed to miss me.

(Sidebar/Rant: Is there some RULE that whenever I have a race my neighbors must throw a party the night before? And not in my honor? After listening to it for 1 1/2 hours I finally banged on their door at 10:30 and asked them nicely to please keep it down. Then I yelled out my window at them, cuz their balcony is RIGHT NEXT to my bedroom window. A basement apartment will totally be a step up.)

Anywho, I was hoping for 10 minute miles.

I was hoping, actually, to positive split this thing, my usual way: Run all out for the first 7 miles or so, and then, you know, die. Well, mission accomplished! Sort of. Except for the all-out running part. Still, happiness reigns!

mile 1: 10:40
mile 2: 10:31
mile 3: 10:24
mile 3.1 1:05 (5K=32:41)
mile 3.9: 9:34
mile 5: 10:22
mile 6: 10:21
mile 6.2 2:50 (10k=1:05:50 PR)
mile 6.8: 8:49
mile 8: 9:58
mile 9: 11:14
mile 10: 11:16

1:47:02 Min/mile: 10:43

The course has changed since 2006. In 2006 it included a nice 2-3 mile downhill at the end. Now it's pretty much all flat except for a slight incline around mile 9.

Other than dodging walk/runners and people who drop their FULL water cups right behind them (yes, I'm looking at you), the race was uneventful.

I managed to avoid walking except for a few (OK many) seconds at water stops 4 & 6, so that was a personal victory.

Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, 2009
Jeanne McCann, 52 Bethesda MD
Gun: 2:02:42
Net: 1:47:02
Min/Mile: 10:43 <----THAT'S MY 10 K PACE. WOOT.

The Army "We Ran Out of Water at Mile 4" 10 Miler, 2007 (Recap)
50, Bethesda MD
Gun: 2:23:53
Net: 2:02:41
Min/mile: 12:16

The Cherry "My Maiden 10 Miler" Blossom 10 Miler, 2006 (recap)
49, Bethesda
Gun: 2:06:46
Net: 1:57:50
Min/Mile: 11:47

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Swim, Bike, Run

Life gets busy fast.

Saturday I did 8 miles with the Speed Development Group, and it was very good, if not very fast. I felt great at the end.

Sunday: It was 74F!!! Gorgeous day. Number One Daughter and I started by looking at a lovely house on Capitol Hill—for her and her friends to live in (sans Mom. A big mistake if you ask me but no one is asking me.). It was a beautifully renovated old rowhouse with a front porch swing, directly across from a Safeway and within walking distance of two Metro stops. We fell in love! I asked the owners how they would decide amongst the applicants, and was told, "First come, first served." We were first! This thing was In. The. Bag.!! NOD gave him all her deets and then waited for the confirmation e-mail.

Which never came.

Instead she got a "We regret to inform you" letter. Like it was a job interview! We wracked our brains for what we could have/should have done differently. I can only surmise that the owners decided to rent to a nice professional couple instead of three nice girls one year out of college.

I honestly don't know how anyone on a budget finds housing. It's insane.

Sunday afternoon: Bike ride in Rock Creek Park. Got a flat before I left the parking lot. Sigh. Still, I remembered how to change it, and I remembered how to ride. All good.

Monday: Swim lesson #3! I love my instructor, sort of the way you fall in love with your captors (see: Stockholm syndrome). My arms are still sore two days later. She said, "You wouldn't like it if I went easy on you." I could have argued the point.

Monday night: Handbell practice! Handbells, swimming, running. Many many parallels. Hold your breath, breathe, focus, tempo! Don't stop 'til the end.

Tuesday: 4 miles on treadmill at 5:30 cuz I had to miss track Tuesday night cuz I had to go to the dentist. To find out that I need another crown, AND? An implant. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. Apparently the implant process takes about a year to complete, and in the meantime, you get to wear a denture. Fun times. I honestly don't know where I'm going to get the money. Time to emigrate. I hear Botswana is nice.

Tuesday night: After the dentist, what could be better than a trip to Hell Home Depot? Our kitchen guy came with us and we picked everything out. We're getting the cheapest in-stock cabinets, the cheapest vinyl flooring, and trying to figure out what the best/cheapest thing is to do for counters. (I have 25 square feet of countertop.)

Tuesday late night: All I can say is that Kelly is insane. Go Bethenny.

Wednesday morning: Slept in! Swimming on tap for tonight.

Update on Germany: I got turned down for an entry-level copy-editing job where speaking German was not a requirement. No explanation. Mad Fast Thomas makes the compelling argument that he's surrounded by ex-pats in Ireland who have no particular skills, so I could definitely move there! Thanks, I think!

Things can only look up, right?