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running

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found: workout from 2001

i like to say i peaked as a runner in 7th/8th grade, before i saw logan tom play for stanford and turned to volleyball as my primary drug sport of choice (and yes, over a decade later, she's still playing for team USA in the olympics... GO LOGAN!!) so when i was home this weekend and stumbled across my workout log from the summer before 8th grade, i had to laugh:

  • reason #1: my email address was "cinnamag@aol.com" (our dog's name was "Cinnamon")
  • reason #2: i had more run volume way back in middle school than i do now

apparently high mileage weeks and double run-days were standard back in the good ole days -- maybe this is why i still haven't beaten my 1500m PR of 5:09 from the summer before 8th grade....

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cola warrior II

before i get into this strange event, i should preface it by explaining two things:

  1. i come from a very competitive family.
  2. my brother is ex-military, works overseas 80% of the time and has extensive experience in the middle-east. As a result, he’s become a sort of gun expert/god: he’s been published in Guns & Ammo (under a pseudonym) covering afghanistan weapons history and currently is the forum equivalent of rappstar on slowtwitch, except on the pleasant-sounding gun forum called “AR-15.com”. Seriously, he has a cult following.

so when I went home a few weeks back to take part in my brother's second annual “cola warrior”, i wasn’t sure what to expect. previous reports from the inaugural cola warrior portrayed it as part crossfit competition, part eating content, part beer mile, part shooting competition and all parts crazy. i like to think of it as a redneck biathlon… supplemented with peeps & coke (don't ask—this "event" made zero sense even to me). in all, almost 40 folks showed up to my brother's middle-of-nowhere property—some driving 17-hours and staying the weekend—just to participate in and spectate these shenanigans.

The course:

1. throw 75-lb bag over shoulder and jump over hurdles

2. climb conex box (those metal storage containers) and hand-over-hand the length of it. some people actually hung – but I knew I’d slip and fall off so I went palms flat:

3. handstand up against the conex box and walk on your hands the length of the box

4. hoist weight with pulley (don’t know how much)

 

5. push 1200lb rhino 4x4 approx 20-ft, slightly uphill and rough terrain. the trick here was to lift with your arms and push with your legs. WAY harder than you’d think.... like the prowlers we used to do with penn volleyball... but on steroids.

6. eat 5 easter egg marshmellow Peeps (got to choose color: pink, blue or yellow!) following photos presented without comment ;)

7. disassemble and reassemble a very beat-up AK-47 (originally from Afghanistan and “dressed up” accordingly. apparently afganis like green tape over their guns… who knew?)

8. run ½ mile to shooting range: my favorite part! though PowerBar gels go down a LOT easier than peeps.

9. shoot a whole bunch of targets

i do have to brag here - hit five of the six pistol targets in a row. pretty good for someone who has only been to the shooting range twice in her life!

10. drink a whole six-pack of Cola – your choice of poison but there was a 10-minute limit. if you threw up (which many did!) you couldn’t count the final one. since my dad and brother were watching/taking photos, i stopped after three because I was NOT going to boot in front of them. hello, trying to preserve some dignity!

every obstacle you skipped/messed up on and every “food item” not consumed was a 5-minute time penalty. so since i did everything but drink 3 of my 6 sodas, I only walked away with 15-minutes of penalties. some fared much worse. i'll spare you guys the many, many puke photos.

overall though, I crushed a whole bunch of boys and ex-military. the standings:

  • RustedAce: 9:58
  • Blitz_308: 16:32
  • Double Claw 24:22
  • Kaik: 25:17
  • Ragin_Cajun: 30:59
  • Captain Morgan: 32:25
  • MiniMag-R: 32:55
  • Suprq7 33:02
  • Ehenry Jr: 33:23
  • LandRaider: 33:31
  • UncivilEngineer 36:01
  • Usp45Tim 36:56
  • Dr.Badazz 37:54
  • EEsmith 41:11
  • FFsparky26 44:34
  • Kimber 45 42:00
  • Ehenry 45:26
  • Blitz Jr: 45:29
  • AKengineer: 52:20
  • LandoSystem 52:42
  • Currahee 55:21
  • Fugative 90:01

while the photos give you a decent idea of the course, the best footage has to be of my brother doing it in a blazing fast 9:58. seriously—mind-boggling. to be fair, he designed it and it’s right up his alley but JEEZ-LOUISE:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvMBXzFf1iw&feature=player_embedded]

overall though it was all in good fun. the guys had spent the night at my brother's trailer on this property he has out in the middle of nowhere (coincidentally, only a few miles from britney spears' birthplace) and had a crawfish boil, outdoor grills, tents, you name it.

and that, my friends, is "cola warrior." anyone still in for cola warrior III?

lastly, the highlight: the cutest baby in the world also showed up to spectate—my niece, the littlest cola warrior. cue the "awwwws":

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shaking out the cobwebs

have my first race of the year tomorrow. and first half-marathon in almost three years. and, honestly, i am currently CLUELESS as to how tomorrow will pan out. so, trying to figure out how to plan pacing, i started looking back as some of my runs leading up to my first half-marathon in 2009. i spent basically the entire summer training, running almost every morning around central park before heading to my internship. the day of the race, i was ready, but it was also 75+ degrees when the race started at 7:00am. despite the blazing weather and a death-march down west side highway—seriously, they had people hosing off runners as they passed by—i managed to finish with a nice high 1:36. after the race, i ended up taking off over a month due to a strange achilles injury and then ran untrained in the Philly Distance Run in late September, setting a PR with a nice, slightly faster 1:36. i'm still not sure how i did that since i meant for the race to be a "training" run but the body surely is a strange thing sometimes.

so tomorrow, part of me would like to beat that previous time and come in under 1:35 but i'm questioning whether that's going to be possible. when i emailed my coach "the plan" last night, i emailed her my pipe dream version of a race plan: go out as if i was expected to sail in under 1:35 and hold on for dear life as long as i could. wisely, she emailed back what i know i should do, but not necessarily what i want to do.

it's like that scene in Prefontaine (or Without Limits... the films are kind of one-and-the-same sometimes) where Bowerman tells Pre,

"Saturday, start off easy for once in your life. 69s for the first mile, then drop to 67s for the second, then, depending on where you are and how you feel..."

and then Pre's first lap is a 64.

but i'm not Pre, and i doubt that many of you out there are either. however, since i haven't raced in so long (particularly a road race), it's going to be hard to not come out guns blazing. i thought i'd pull together a list of good reasons NOT to go out too fast:

Top Reasons to Start Out Slow

  • no one wants ugly/sweaty race photos
  • you won't be able to tweet splits in the first half
  • dr. andy baldwin from the bachelor will be running tomorrow ...and i want a rose.
  • you'll be too out of breath to yell at the other bloggers who pass you
  • no time to stuff your doggy bag and stock up on gels at the nutrition tables
  • to brag that you negative-split the race

and if none of those above cut it for you, you can always take the advice from Jeff Galloway from his Book on Running: remember that for

"every second per mile you go too fast in the first half of the race, you'll run 5-10 seconds slower at the end."

and

"A slightly slower pace will allow the legs to warm up before pushing into race effort"

and finally:

"Another reason to start slowly and to run your own steady-pace race during the first half is to keep cool... The faster your body temperature rises, the more blood flows to the skin to reduce heat, and the more you sweat... If you maintain an even (and reasonable) pace in the first half you'll actually speed up slightly during the second half: your body mechanics become more efficient as you run."

Top Tips for Negative Splits

  • line up in the right corral for you: i find that i either start too far back and end up playing dodge the racewalkers to get to a happy place, or i start too far forward and get caught up in the pack for a far-too-fast first mile. if you do happen to start in an off-pace corral, just remember to keep calm, carry on and run your pace regardless of the hubbub around you.
  • don't force the uphills. remember that uphill miles can be slower, and you can make up some time on the downhill (if the course has balanced elevation)
  • run the corners (most thorough post goes to DC Rainmaker with Racing the Line)
  • remember that for ever person who passes you in the first half of the race, you'll be passing 80%* of them back in the second half. [*very unofficial stat]
  • if you have a garmin or similar GPS watch, make the most of it. tomorrow, i plan on relying on my Garmin to do a big part of the heavy lifting for pace tracking. more below.
  • trust the process. the best part of having a coach is not having to second guess myself. now i just get to second guess trust her.

How I'm making the most of my Garmin

  • before the race, i'm going to set up garmin's virtual partner to "run" my goal pace for tomorrow's race—once set, i will not start checking this little guy until mile 7 or 8. since i'm negative splitting, he likely will be ahead of me for the majority of the race and it will be my job to pick him off right at the end.
  • for the first half, i've mapped out my goal time targets for each mile, each with a more conservative pace than expected (e.g. the one suggested by my coach). i've done some adjustment relative to the course profile and will be memorizing those target times like they're the numbers from LOST.
  • or, if i get ambitious this evening, i might also play around with the 910xt's automatic time alerts to vibrate when the target time elapses... and then i can compare that relative to where i am on the course.
  • once i hit the half-way mark, i'll move to a combination of hitting my desired splits, while also chasing down the virtual runner. my pace will speed up and i'll just have to hang on until the finish.
UPDATED to ADD: If you're just getting acquainted with the Garmin 910xt, this is by-far the best getting started/basics video out there: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJG1EiqkNdQ

Happy Racing! See you guys out there!

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running at sunset

thursday night's run was absolute perfection, and i couldn't be happier that i had my iphone with me to capture the beautiful sunset that was happening as i made the DC monument loop. starting off running through georgetown and then past the kennedy center...

and then spent a good 15-10 minutes warming up along the potomac. i rarely get off work right at 5:30 and rarely am together enough that i can run straight home from work. tonight the timing was right, the stars aligned and i couldn't be happier that i had this beautiful sunset to accompany what felt like a break-through workout.

 after running along the somewhat empty waterfront, i decided to go do my speed work around the nation's track... aka the national mall. it was a handful of intervals working through 90sec on, 90sec off. i probably pushed more than i should have, but only because these tempo-like intervals are my favorite (mostly because they remind me of 400s on the track).

seriously, could not get over the sky. i took the liberty of stopping a few times to make sure i got a decent photo. the photo below of the lincoln monument has to be one of my favorites—the sky really was this brilliant. didn't touch this with any filters or photoshop. stunning:

while everyday feels like a history lesson running in DC, the one drawback has to be the number of times i KNOW i've accidentally photobombed some tourist's photo. today, it was group pretending to do ridiculous things with the washington monument. sorry, guys...

a loop around the mall later, i made my way up past the white house and then, a few blocks later, made it all the way home. 6.5 miles done and done. even with the warm-up/cool-down and the easy "off" intervals, my average pace was around 7:40. in a good place and cannot wait to race! next on tap is the nation's half-marathon (sorry, guys, will never ever call it the DC rock-n-roll USA or however it's currently being branded). happy that i'll be very very familiar with the route by race time next month!

happy running! and may more gorgeous sunsets be in our futures!

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Running with Tasers

I've always lived in semi-questionable areas—New Orleans, Philly, D.C.—where if you walk a few blocks out of the "safe-zone" you will inevitably find yourself putting your head down and walking a little faster. Apparently, my current neighborhood—U Street, just South of DC's Adams Morgan—is no different. I've woken up to 3am shots outside my apartment, a break-in next door and now this...

I was finishing up an hour-long run in icy 35-degree weather, headphones in and rocking out to push through the last five minutes. As I was looping around my block, trying to squeeze in a few more minutes to hit the hour-mark, I ran past a guy being shadowed by a cop car. I thought it was a little strange but kept bouncing along to Katy Perry, thinking little of it. The cop car turned the corner and then I saw the guy who I had just passed turn around and sprint toward, then past me. I ripped out my headphones and almost started to drop to the ground, thinking shots had been fired. Instead, I realized that the guy running wasn't running away from the scene... he was the scene.

I yelled to the cop car who had just turned the block. "TAN COAT! RUNNING THIS DIRECTION! HISPANIC! 5'11!" I don't know what got into me, other than the fact that this might be a sign that I've been watching too many re-runs of 24 lately. The cop car floored it in reverse and then started screeching down the one-way street. I kind of just stood there, dumbfounded. What if he had a gun? What if he had used me as a human shield? Again, note to self: STOP WATCHING SO MUCH 24.

I was too rattled to continue on and finish the 2-minutes left in my workout. A few people poked their heads out of the row-houses along the street so I started making my way home. As I walked toward my apartment, I saw that the police had caught up to him, cuffed him and now 5 cop cars were encircling the area. I cautiously walked around the block—just in case he noticed where I was headed—and slipped into my apartment, deadbolting it and saying a little prayer. I really hope that guy doesn't have friends in the area.

So what's with the title then?

Last night, two days after the Sunday incident, I started to head out for a quickie transition run after a trainer session (again, while watching an ep of 24—season 2—so good, but not for potentially paranoid people like myself). As I stood outside, waiting for my Garmin to load, I realized I was wearing the same obnoxiously loud lululemon purple plaid running jacket and teal nike headband, paired with similar looking black tights, that I had worn a few days before. The possible scenarios started running through my mind. I wanted to run.... but there was a guy out there, possibly on bail, or his friends, who only got caught because I ratted him out to the cops when he ran.

I turned back around but—resolved to finish this workout as prescribed—tromped up the flight of stairs, grabbed my taser and then headed out for an easy 30-minute transition run in Z2. Carrying a pink taser.

Even in a world of gadgets, I think this takes the cake for running "accessories". And, no, I did not buy the pink taser myself... it was a Christmas gift from my ex-Marine older brother. Still, I don't think I enjoyed my run as much knowing that I was packing heat.

Instead, I think I'm going to retire my lululemon running top for a while, add the police to my speed-dial and stay in the safer blocks around my neighborhood in order to (hopefully) continue running unnoticed.

Also note: if you like non-fiction, Augusten Burroughs's memoir :Running with Scissors", from which I stole my title, is a great read.

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