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Monday, October 23, 2017

Bay St.Louis long run

This weekend we got to enjoy some time with our godchildren in Bay St. Louis. They are in the process of moving further away from us, so any chance we get to visit before they permanently settle very far away is an opportunity to take advantage of.

Godmother-goddaughter lunch

When I mentioned my plans to some members in my running group, one of the guys, Mike, said he'd be at the bay himself Saturday. He actually has a house out there, and he runs long there almost every week. Since he already has a regular 15 mile route, we decided to meet up sort of halfway between our places, and then continue on to his route. We estimated that would get us the 17 and 18 miles he and I needed, respectively.

I think this is the longest run I've done in Bay St. Louis: 18 miles. I was worried about bonking, because last week, I had a bad bonk on a 16 miler after getting off a plane a few hours before. But the company was great, and our route along Beach road was beautiful. We turned just in time to see the sunrise over the bay. Before the sun rose, I was also lucky enough to surprise a coyote! The wind was favorable to mask my approach, and I got right up close before he saw me, froze, and bolted. Speaking of wind, that's the only real drawback to a long run on the water: lots of wind!

Like most of our group long runs, this one started at easy pace, but included a workout or fast finish. Saturday was 5 easy, middle steady with slight negative split down to aerobic pace, last four aerobic pace cutting down to marathon pace. As it turned out, the route brought us to the Bay Bridge to do four of the last five miles with inclines. But it actually wasn't bad. I finished with 7:15, 7:12, 7:05, 6:57, and 7:00. Mike dropped back once I started to pick it up, but he didn't lose contact, and he wrapped up his 17 miles at the fastest pace he's ever completed a long run (his marathon time goal is actually 2:55 so I am not at all worried about leading him to complete a long run too fast!).
My goddaughter wanted to take a post-run picture
for Instagram, but kept begging me to "look more tired"! Ha! 

I was happy with my strong finish, and I really felt great at the end, not at all tired, so I hope that means that my early bonk was just a product of jet lag.

Do you stick to long, slow distance for long runs, or incorporate speed work or fast finishes?

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Break for Britain

I finally, FINALLY, took a little time off this year so David and I could take a break and head off to the UK! New Orleans airport added a direct flight to Heathrow, and we took advantage: A quick 8 hour flight over the pond.
And it was great.

We went to ALL THE MUSEUMS. This is partially because I am fixated on antiquities, and partially because I am cheap, and so many museums in London are free. We didn't do a lot of advance planning for this trip, but I did laboriously pore over museum maps and plan out our exact routes to see what I wanted.

This is an original cartoon by Rafael....

...and this is the tapestry made from his pattern hundreds of years later

And I ran in Kensington Gardens. We stayed less than a mile away, and it was so worth it. I needed a beautiful place to run!

We also toured Kensington, and saw Princess Diana's gowns in the "dressing Diana" display - an exhibit so popular that we had to join the Historic Royal Palaces just to squeeze in, since the all of October and November were sold out.
Queen Victoria's doll house

Kingly suit from the 1700's

This was actually a smart move: it got us in to the Banquet Room...

Reubens ceiling

And the Tower, line-free!

The Tower of London was easily my favorite part of our trip. It was so full of history I could barely process it. My absolute favorite was the carved graffiti in various towers: momentoes from former prisoners hundreds of years ago.

We did a trip to Greenwich, where I stood on the prime meridian, and a trip to the London library. I don't have pictures from the London library, but it was an awe-inspiring visit: their collection includes a copy of the Magna Carta, the original Hallelujah chorus score, a Wycliffe Bible, a first edition Paradise Lost, fragments of the gospel of John from 300 AD, and other treasures. I was speechless in the presence of so many historic books and manuscripts!

Actually, this screenshot was taken at Bradley's meridian: the old prime meridian, still used for maps and ordinances. 

We sucked it up and joined a tour for Stonehenge (the coldest place on the earth, and much smaller than I perceived it to be from photos) and Bath (which has such history and architectural art: and where we picked up our Christmas ornament, as is our tradition!).

One enjoyable part of the trip was the several church services we attended: on Sunday, David went to mass, while I joined an Anglican church for worship. Why not?! But the best service was evensong at Westminster Abbey. We heard the incredible choir fill this historic building with music.

And of course, we had to go to a party. We ran into one of David's law school friends on the plane, and he invited us to a party he was hosting for his London clients. So we went to a party! As we do. Our social calendar is always packed...even overseas.
Luckily I brought this cool sequined shirt, so I could look like a robot.

All in all, the trip was wonderfully enjoyable, and I give high marks to the direct flight. And now my boss will get off my case for not using my PTO, too!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Fast is happening to me

Crap. I'm getting faster. And it's all at the wrong time!

Like usual, when I race and don't give it EVERYTHING, I have a really fast next workout. Saturday's race was not everything I had, even though it was a PR. So I had some speed left in my legs! That's ok if I can quickly sign up for another race, and use that peak before I plummet, but this time, my schedule just won't allow it.

So I'll just race my training, sure, why not?
This looks accurate.

So I guess this is accurate, too?!

Er. Because running a 5k PR that includes a two-miler as fast as last Saturday's race during a hill workout makes total sense. But that's what I did on a regular old Tuesday night! Ack! Disaster! Must immediately find a race!
Please keep in mind that this is 30 seconds faster than my current 5k PR. WHAT THE.

Also, I definitely questioned my Garmin on this one. But I did go back and enlarge the Garmin connect map and I think it's telling the truth. No weird tangents or cutoffs. But I do think the hills somehow help. I was FLYING on the downhill. But really. I need to find me a 5k STAT!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Finally, A PR

It's been more than four years since I ran a PR, so Saturday night was sweet. I was third female at the Blue Doo two mile race,  breaking a four year old PR 0f 12:19 with a 12:00.9. The thrill was dampened a little bit by consensus that the course was short - again? What gives, New Orleans Track Club? - but even extrapolating out, I would have run 12:06, still a gigantic PR.

Most notable about this PR is that this is the first time I've PR'd since my hip surgeries three years ago (interestingly, my last PR was also the 2 mile!). A big goal for me coming out of surgery was to PR again, and I am very happy to have done so! And at one of my worst distances, too, with no specific training. This bodes well for upcoming races!

The Blue Doo is a night race that starts at 5pm on Tulane's uptown campus. It's a little hard to figure out how to plan your day around it: we're in the thick of marathon training, so we had a scheduled ten-miler that morning for those of us in our group planning to run the race. I slept in, so I wasn't running until late, getting home after 10 am. I wrapped up the run with six 100m strides, for leg turnover purposes. I do these on our nice, newly paved street most of the time. I definitely felt the ten miles, and I wasn't sure how fresh my legs would feel later. It would probably have been wise to have done the miles earlier in the day. However, my total weekly mileage was pretty low going into the race - around 35 miles. I ate a slightly late lunch (soup) and hoped for the best as far as my stomach was concerned.

Conditions and lead up to the race weren't ideal, so I thought I'd probably do well, since that seems to be how my races go. I'm a little paradox of a runner. I had cramps (always!), I had ten miles on my legs, and it was a little hot - 87 at the start (side note: I wish this race started at 7, when the sun is starting to set). But I knew I'd PR. I've been running lots of miles and hitting all my workout paces, and when I compared Tuesday's Moneghetti workout to the one we did a month ago, I ran a tenth of a mile further in the same amount of time for this time-based workout. It was time for a PR!

I jogged a little over half a mile to the start, planning to pick up my bib, jog home, change shoes, and jog back as a warmup. Then I would also fit in some strides. However, when I got to the front of the pre-registered line, my bib was nowhere to be found. My name was on the list, but my actual bib was missing. I was directed to get out of line and re-register, then come back into line and wait. Finally, officials copied my info onto some other form and gave me a bib, but it took much longer than I'd planned. By the time I jogged home, switched shoes, grabbed some water, and made a bathroom stop, I was cutting it a little close. I actually barely made it, so getting near the front was a struggle (it's a narrow starting line, too, so the crowds are thick). I couldn't get up as close as I wanted, and I didn't have time to do any strides or pre-race stuff, but I was ready.

The start was really, really crowded, and right after the gun we were all jostling. Of course, I was entangled in a crowd; I could see the other girls in our group, all ahead of me, but I'd have to work to get to them. There was plenty of clipping, ribbing and bumping, but finally I was running free: and right behind my teammate Kate. Now, Kate ran for LSU, so I have no doubts about her ability, but she's also mainly a track girl (her 400m DESTROYS me). However, she's been improving wildly on the roads, too, this year. Could I beat her? I thought so, maybe. Two miles might be the far end of her skill set. She's definitely more of a sprinter. Yet there she was, ahead of me, and as we closed in on the first mile, her pace was steady and strong. I passed her right before the turnaround, and it was a mistake. She grabbed on and stayed right behind me, and she didn't budge!
Kate on my tail!

Pain face! 

Meanwhile, Paige and Morgan, our two speediest ladies, were neck-and-neck for first place. All our PowerMiler women were working together! But man. Did Kate ever give me a run for my money! She definitely kept me moving in mile two: she was glued to me, and I knew I had to try to shake her before the finish, because she has a killer sprint. Mile one had been six flat, and I was exhausted, because that's fast for me, but Kate's presence prevented a major slowdown. Her footfalls behind me (very obvious to me, because she has a long stride, so her steps don't match up with mine) were like a warning bell. I pushed hard from about 1.5 to 1.75, gaining maybe another second, and I was so glad: as we saw the finish, I did my best to sprint, but with Kate's strong finish, she finished just one second behind me! Paige had won; Morgan was second. With my third place and Kate's fourth, plus Daniella's fifth, our five women members went top five!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

'Bye, Strava

I signed up for Strava this year, but after a few months, I deleted the account. It just didn't suit me. There are a few reasons why:
1. You can't add miles to shoes, so if you have existing miles before you start logging them in Strava, the total is all wrong. Annoying. I realize that this is a problem that would go away over time, as I got new shoes, but it bothered me immensely.
2. You have to put a run duration. I often run without a watch, so I'm left guessing this. I only use my Garmin two or three times a week.
3. Unless you go premium, you can only see garmin mile splits, not lap splits.
4. I never used the segments, challenges, etc. that Strava is known for.

I'm now using Final Surge instead. By linking it to Garmin Connect, I now automatically upload workouts to Final Surge, and much like Strava, can edit them later. But Final Surge has much more detailed data fields available, and since it's Garmin Connect data, it shows lap splits, too. When you manually add a run, a time isn't required, and yes, you can also manually add miles to shoes. Furthermore, since it's a coaching app, I can share my workout data with our running group coach...I mean, if we ever start doing that. So far, I like it, it's easy to use, and it avoids all my little pet peeves.

How about you? Strava? Spreadsheet? Workout journal?

Monday, September 25, 2017

Smithsonian Day Live

David and I love to take advantage of free  museum entries for Smithsonian Day Live each year. The list of partnering museums, though, is not huge, and we've actually been to all the museums on the list at least once (including the really pathetic joke of a Voodoo museum: do not waste your money or time if you're in NOLA). Next year, we'll maybe plan better and travel to a farther museum: one in Mississippi or Baton Rouge, perhaps.
But for this year, we opted for a quick trip to the Ogden Museum of Southern Art.

There were a few new pieces.

It's a small museum, and there wasn't much new there, but I took the time to study a pastel work that is remarkably similar to something I was working on. The subject matter, that is. I was using watercolor, and I don't love it, so now I'm considering throwing it out and starting fresh with pastels. How did he get oil pastels to look so watery???

We also got some rooftop views of the city, even though it was very much like the surface of the sun up there (Friday was 95 degrees and Saturday was close).

The national WWII museum
Lee's Circle - with empty pedestal!
We had planned to eat at Cuzco for dinner, a Peruvian family restaurant on Freret street, so David suggested getting a drink first at the Catahoula Bar. They offer a variety of pisco drinks. We walked over and had a pisco sour, which was fine, but - man. That place was DISGUSTING. It was nearly empty, and there were bored employees lounging all over, but it was filthy inside. Heavy burned grease hung in the air; the floor was littered with dried up limes; dirty cups with dead flies sat on half the tables; plastic wrappings littered the seating area. As soon as you walk in, and also from the bar seating area, you can see right into the kitchen, and it was not only dirty, it featured a full industrial mop bucket that reeked of dirty mop water. The patio had a never-been-dumped ashtray on every table. It was bizarre. It's supposed to be a kind of posh little bar in a boutique hotel, but it looked like a college dive bar.
Cuzco, though? Never disappoints! Incredible food and excellent prices, plus it brings back nostalgic memories of our trip to Peru.

How was your weekend?

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Nike's best

A few months ago, I reviewed a new pair of Nike shorts: the Crew, a kind of cheap option for running shorts. But just a couple of weeks into ownership, one pair developed a hole in the key pocket! I contacted Nike customer service, and they asked me to mail them the pair for inspection. Shortly thereafter, I received a voucher for $35 to the Nike online store. The company policy is to give a voucher for the price of the product new, which is nice, and the whole process was pretty easy. You do have to pay to send your item to them - no shipping label provided - so I can see how it may not be worth it. These shorts were light and flat enough to stick in an envelope with a couple of stamps, but shoot, Fed Ex is like ten bucks a package! And if Nike decides that the damage isn't due to workmanship, you're just out that ten dollars (not sure if you have to pay them to return ship to you or not; I do know that you have an option to ask them to recycle your damaged item, rather than return it to you, if they choose not to refund you).

So now, here I am, with $35 worth of Nike product to buy, but - I don't know what to buy! I used to wear tempo shorts, and the last two pairs I owned lasted for many years. I also ran many, many races in a pair of black Nike shorts I got on Ebay that I think are tempos, but fit a little shorter and slimmer. I like these shorts a lot, because lately tempos seem voluminous and big all over, which fast becomes uncomfortable in sweaty conditions. So if I could find something like this I'd buy it. I still have those shorts, but I "save" them, so I rarely wear them; a second pair would be nice.
Crescent City Classic, my black tempo shorts

Acutely tearing already damaged hip labrum thanks
to many misdiagnoses - and winning overall female -
in black tempo shorts

Marathon PR and one of my funniest race black tempo shorts.

If you know what variation these shorts are, and if something similar is still available, let me know! Otherwise, what's your favorite Nike running product? Suggestions?