Tuesday, January 31, 2012


On my 25 Before 25 list, I committed myself to learning Adobe Premier Elements video editor, which came with the Photoshop that I bought Josh for Christmas last year. Last night, I compiled the very limited and messy video footage that I have from Ragbrai 2010, I recorded an audio sample to go with it, and I made a really jumbled video to send to my friends in hopes that it will make them want to ride Ragbrai this summer. So that's one more thing off my list:

24. Learn to use Adobe video editor. Take more videos.

And here is the video that I made, for your viewing pleasure. Please excuse the nauseating bike-ride filming and the darkness in some of the clips. I may not be a pro but I am proud of myself for figuring out how to do this all on my own.

Wondering what that most interesting moment was for Joyce? You're just going to have to join this party on wheels to find out!

Monday, January 30, 2012

My [Shortened] Long Run

On Saturday, I had scheduled myself to run 12 long miles. I hadn't run further than ten since Baltimore and I was a little intimidated by this. I'm a strong enough runner by now that the idea of running twelve miles doesn't scare me. But the idea of running twelve miles fast, at a pace that I know is attainable but will be much harder, scares me. At 10am, it was 39 degrees but would be 49 by noon when I finished running so I dressed up in shorts, a short-sleeved dri fit, and my arm warmers and was ready to go.

This run was wonderful. It was beautifully sunny (and a little too windy) outside, I was wearing only slightly too little clothing, I ran an unusual route, and I was very happy with my pace. Some popular landmarks which I rarely run by that I passed Saturday include:
  • The Convention Center
  • Union Station
  • Stanton Park
  • Eastern Market
  • Pour House
  • The Capitol Building
  • Air and Space Museum
  • National Gallery of Art
Other landmarks I passed which I run by often include:
  • Nikki's apartment
  • Ingrid's apartment
  • The Washington Monument
  • The White House
  • Dupont Circle
  • The National Zoo
Running in Northeast DC is a rare treat for me. It's not somewhere I ever consider mapping a run but Eastern Market just popped into my head yesterday as a good destination spot. I ended up running on some portions of the National Half Marathon course from last year and that made me happy. If my entire life didn't exist so far Northwest, I would love to live in a row house over there and I would run on those brick sidewalks all the time.

This is not Northeast DC. It is the DC where my life is. It is where I finished my run on Saturday.

At mile .74, I looked down at my watch and I was sustaining a 7:39 minute mile. I was glad to see that I could run that speed without noticing it (full disclosure: that did include a steep downhill that was probably .4 miles long) but I knew that I would need to slow it down in order to survive 12 miles. 

Coming to a long uphill during mile 2 made slowing down quick and easy but the 7:39 set the tone for the entire run. My confidence was boosted and I ran pretty fast, averaging 8:24 overall, and it didn't feel too hard. I think that my overall pace is inaccurate because I ran a long stretch under the pavilion at Union Station, screwing with the satellite to my garmin. I came out from under the heavy stone overhead at mile 5.5 and my average pace read 12:36 which was totally false. Once the satellite picked back up, the pace started to drop and I finished the mile at 8:44. Still, I am confident that I truly ran between 8:10 and 8:20.

Around mile 8, the cut and blister on my foot started to rub and hurt. I was glad I had made it that far without even thinking about it but wasn't sure how to make it another 4 miles in the pain I was in. It slowly got worse and, at mile 10, I considered bailing early. Running through Farragut and Dupont, I had to stop at many lights for a few seconds. Each time I started running again, the pain was heightened. I had been running uphill for two miles and I knew that I'd done a really good job in pushing myself so I wasn't afraid to cut it a little short. I decided to run until I hit 11.00 and then strip my shoes off and walk the rest of the way home.

Swollen feet.

I hit 11 on this lovely bridge, less than a mile from my apartment, and I hobbled over to untie my shoes. I called Josh to walk down Connecticut toward me and I started walking up the hard concrete sidewalk in my socks. I discovered that the only thing worse than running the last of twelve miles in a shoe that's ripping your heel bone apart is walking the last of twelve miles barefoot. By the time I met Josh, my left ankle really hurt. I put my shoes back on, then wimpered in pain from the blister and ripped my right shoe back off. This was obviously one of the most graceful and sexy moments in my life.

Josh brought me pants.

I admitted that running the last mile would have been much more pleasant than walking home like I did. How much worse could my foot have gotten, anyway? I will refrain from showing a photo of the blister and will, instead, tell you my plan to make it go away. I am visiting my bff in NYC this weekend and we have plans to run six miles from her apartment across the Brooklyn Bridge. I also have plans to run 4 miles with Nikki tonight. Since it's a cutback week, though, I think I'll spend the rest of the days avoiding my asics. I realize that this foot thing could be worse and I am fortunate not to have any real injuries but it is a nuissance and it will never heal if I don't give it more than a few days rest. Instead of running, I'll do yoga, ride my indoor bike trainer, and do some core and strength training.

And that is the story of my life. Happy Monday! How was your weekend?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Debating a Gym Membership

At work, I am co-lead (lucky for me, with one of my best friends) on a committee for something called Connection's Cafe. We plan and host "Cafe Sessions" every 1-2 months in which staff come and spend an hour learning about a specific topic surrounding professional development, health, or personal wellness. On Wednesday, we hosted the first one of 2012 and our guest speakers were the general manager and fitness manager from the Gold's Gym across the street from our office.

For the past year and a half, our organization has had a partnership with Gold's Gym, allowing employees to become members for $30/mo through payroll deduction with no start-up fees. In conjunction with this session, we were offering an open enrollment for people to join the gym through work. My one concern was that the presentation during Connections Cafe would be more of a sales pitch than an educational and enriching experience.

It ended up being awesome, though. Here are the scattered notes I took:
  • One's heart rate doesn't kick in until 20 minutes into cardio exercise. So 40 minutes of exercise only amounts to 20 minutes of fat burn.
  • According to the American Heart Association,  not exercising 3x per week is equivalent to smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. I'm not sure whether or not I believe this.
  • Eat from the perimeter of the grocery store. I heard this wise advice years ago from my friend Michael Pollan. 
  • It would take 3,500-4,000 calories a day to get all the right nutrients our bodies need. So eat much variety from day to day.
  • If you spend 80% of your diet eating the right (healthy) things, then it's OK to spend the other 20% eating ice cream and tortilla chips. This isn't exactly what they said but it confirms my belief in everything in moderation. Believe me, I have lived a life where I deprived myself of too many good, fatty foods and I lost 15 lbs and then gained twice that much back less than two years later. Weight loss will be ineffective if it is not done smartly.
  • Don't be afraid of weight training.
  • If you're working out and trying to lose weight, don't get on a scale for the first 8 weeks.
  • Constantly switch up your routine to keep things interesting.
  • Foam roll for only 30 seconds on each muscle. Then stretch that muscle for as long as you'd like.
I spend plenty of my time working out, though I consider it "living life" more than I do "working out", and you all know how much I love to do it out of doors, under the sun. But recently I have been into taking classes for cross-training and, therefore, I am seriously considering becoming a member of Gold's Gym.

Now, let me explain that I have never ever been a gym person. The gym makes me feel like I'm in a fishtank. I hate treadmills with a passion. I feel awkward and uncoordinated in classes. It has always felt very unnatural to me, while sweating under a big blue sky feels like exactly what my body was designed to do. But I am changing. I am opening my eyes to new ways of exercising, I am understanding the importance of cross-training (and maybe even weight training), and I am losing my cynicism for yoga. So I can either keep buying $39 living socials for yoga and fitness classes around the city or I can join gold's gym and take all of the classes I want. I can get Josh the deal too and he is interested in joining with me.

I am also very excited about the possibility of trying unlimited spin classes. While I love working out on the trainer in my bedroom, while watching friends on the highest volume, and worrying the whole time that the downstairs neighbors may knock on my door any minute to complain about what sounds like a lawnmower on their ceiling, I think that it would be really fun to do some good bike training in the company of others, with a rocking playlist and a teacher motivating us the entire time.

Bedroom is a disaster. Please excuse.

More than ever, I need advice! Do you belong to a gym? Do you love it? If you are a runner, how often do you spend at the gym during a training cycle? Is $30/mo truly a great deal?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Hot (and super sweaty) Yoga

Last night, Sarah and I tried hot yoga for the first time. The studio was far different from Stroga and Mint, where I've done yoga before. While those two are more fancy and seem to be filled with many people who just want a good workout, Hot Yoga USA was pure, simple yoga for the more spiritual and experienced yogi. But it was also for me.

Because the studio had just offered a Living Social deal to their establishment (a steal at ten classes for $39), the place was packed. We were there 20 minutes early but we had to ask people to scoot over so we could squeeze our mats in and still had to sit across the room from each other. I talked to the girl next to me who was a member and knew all about the place. I told her I'd done four yoga classes ever and had never done hot yoga and she told me not to be afraid to sit down if I needed to. I appreciated it but I didn't plan on sitting down. I was glad to see that people were wearing normal yoga clothes. I wondered if anyone would be in booty shorts and/or sports bras, and a small part of me hoped they would so that I could wear the same next time. Here's what I wore.

The instructor, Amberlyn, came in and had us all lie down on our mats. She was talking about ethical dilemmas and letting things in your life out. It made me think this class was going to be more of a spiritual journey than a workout and I started to long for the ballroom at Stroga. She had us sit up and do some heavy breathing exercises which were really hard and actually awesome. Then it was time to Ohm. Normally I play along and Ohm with the crowd but don't really see the point in what I'm doing. This instructor knew that there were a lot of new students in the class so she did a good job of talking us through everything. She said "For those of you who haven't Ohmed before, don't worry, you're not joining a cult" and explained that Ohm is just a word to represent all of the things in our life that are so complex that we have no words for them. It can represent the divine, the beauty in nature, or simply the peace within oneself. More importantly, though, she told us how to Ohm. I had no idea that it was an exercise in breathing, that there is a particular "o" shape to make with your mouth at the beginning, that you shouldn't stop making the sound until the very last ounce of oxygen has been exhaled from your lungs. I really appreciated the explanation.

This is Sarah. Ohming.
We got going and it was apparent that I'd get a very good workout. We did many planks, runner's lunges, cobras, and warrior poses. Amberlyn walked around the room as we were set in poses and helped individuals get in the perfect position when she spotted a flaw in their pose. The rest of us remained mid-pose as she worked with a person so we got to feel the burn extra long. She told us repeatedly to lift our tailbones, suck in our cores, and pull our hearts up, emphasizing posture and stretching. She showed us how to do the perfect plank which was actually eye-opening. I really appreciated her attention to detail and her desire for us all to get the most of this, physically and emotionally.

Through it all, I sweat uncontrollably. At the end of class, when we were back in spirituality mode, Amberlyn said something like "Try to find how this has changed you on a deeper and more subtle level than the sweat on your body." Sorry friend, but all I was looking for was a good sweat and that, the ability to sweat and to do all of these great things with my body, that is what I'm ohming for.

This experience was different but I thoroughly enjoyed it. And my back is kind of sore today. As this is a Vinyasa studio, I am still interested to try Bikram but, for now, I am really excited for 9 more classes like this. If you haven't done so already, and you like to sweat, I advise you to try hot yoga. It is very refreshing and challenging and maybe it will change you in a more deep or subtle way than it did me. Namaste.

I'm curious: Have you ever done hot yoga? Was it Bikram? How did it make you feel?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My New Bike Trainer and My New Training Lessons

Around Christmas, Josh mentioned that he'd considered giving me a bike trainer but wasn't sure if I'd want one so he decided against it. I was glad he didn't because, obviously, the stylish sweatclothes he gave me were much prettier and I didn't really think I'd use it. I love to do my workouts outside and that is final.

This is me biking outdoors, in Central Park.

But a seed was planted and the more I thought about biking and training this winter, the more I realized how impossible it would be to ride a bike regularly outdoors. The days are too short and sometimes it's just way too cold. But I longed for a means to bike through the winter months. So, last week, I gave in and bought one as a late Christmas present to myself.

For anyone not familiar with what a trainer is, it is a cycling accessory that allows you to mount your own bike so that you can ride it indoors, just like a stationary bike. I looked all over amazon and after non-extensive research, I chose the bell motivator because it was the least expensive one I could find and it had good reviews.

I set the contraption up on Sunday and Josh and I both tested it out on our respective bikes. There is no assembly required and it is very easy to mount your bike onto. However, we found that it works much better with a bike that doesn't have a quick release rear wheel. It supports the bike by screwing into the rear wheel axle so an older bike with bolts on the axle stays in place much better than one with a quick release lever. Josh rode on and off for about 20 minutes and his bike slipped out of place twice when he readjusted his position.

Here is an unflattering photo of Josh's toes looking like aliens.

I rode Lucy for 45 minutes and she remained sturdy the entire time. I found that I definitely got a good leg workout but that I got kind of bored. Riding this machine is no fun compared to riding a bike outside. I watched Friends while I rode but the bike makes a lot of noise (about on par with a vacuum cleaner) so it was hard and annoying to hear. Still, I am glad that my summer training can begin now and that I have a good indoor cardio workout option for rainy or snowy days.

Here is an unflattering, poor quality photo of me looking at the TV, not the camera.
I didn't get too sweaty during the ride and I felt like I hadn't worked all that hard. But I could tell within an hour of finishing that the burn in my legs was not going to subside without a fight. When I made impromptu Tuesday evening yoga plans with a friend, I figured there would be no harm in moving my weekly tempo run up a day and doing it last night. So I got home from work and set out to do my traditional 5 miles of tempo: warm-up, sub-9, sub-8, sub-9, cool down. In the first mile, though, I knew it wasn't going to be pretty. It turns out that I hadn't gotten the most amazing cardio workout on the trainer but I had worked my quad muscles pretty damn hard and they were in no mood to run a mile in under 8 minutes.

Thumbs down for these sore legs.

My watch beeped at the end of mile 1 and I decided to go for the fast mile right then. I felt like I was running a 7:01 but I looked at my gamin and it read 7:56. My legs were jello, like they could give out at any minute. I altered my running plan and decided to finish this first loop and run home but to push it the rest of the way.

I ran those last two miles right around an 8 minute pace and it felt harder than the final, steeply uphill mile of my 9 mile training run last weekend did. I felt a little bit like a quitter but I knew it was the smart thing to do. I can do without a tempo run this week as my legs adjust to this combination of biking and running.

I love you legs. I want to make this work for both of us.

The trainer is obviously going to take some getting used to and isn't going to fit into my training schedule as effortlessly as I'd expected. But I have no doubt that, once I figure out how to train these quads for biking and running simultaneously, I'll be a much better and stronger athlete overall. I am indescribably more impressed by all the triathletes I read about doing brick workouts on the regular. That is a form of badass that I hope to claim for myself one day.

For now my best claim to badass fame is that I, with Josh, am practically keeping Vace's, our local Italian Deli, in business. Their pizza and focacia sandwiches are all I ever want after a good sweat. And that is carbo-loading at its finest.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Icy Running Adventure

Where did I leave off?

It was Saturday afternoon after the snow. I went outside to check the icy sidewalks and was debating whether or not to risk a run. Josh advised me against it. But I hope anyone who knows me knows that, of course, I took the risk.

I am not going to lie, the fact that I knew I wouldn't be able to really test my speed on this run was appealing. It was a chance to run for fun only and to not put pressure on myself to be fast. I also wanted to be outside for a while and I wanted to guarantee 6 whole days of recovery and training before my next long run which, at 12 miles, will be the longest I've run since Baltimore.

I decided to run into Bethesda, MD, by my high school which, according to my garmin, is exactly 4.52 miles from my apartment, and back. I started off slowly and had to stop my watch about 7 times in the first half mile because of stoplights, puddles, and pedestrian/stroller traffic jams. But things picked up and running was smooth.

There were parts of the route that were covered in grainy ice and my steps were really slow and choppy. It was kind of like running in sand. Except the sand was hard and slippery.

Then there were parts covered in ice covered in snow. Running was about the same as it was on grainy ice.

There were rare patches that looked clear but that had sporadic pieces of invisible ice. Those were probably the most dangerous. Other parts were just clear. Those were the best.

At one point, I came to a steep downhill, feeling like I was in some kind of wilderness, and I spotted bike tracks. If some dude could bike in these conditions, I could certainly run in them. I wouldn't be surprised if that dude was my dad. I was near his house and he is an adventure seeker. I learn from the best.

Just before the hill.

I averaged a 10:30 min/mile down this hill which is not normal. I did everything I could not to slip. I had to climb right back up a hill and it was covered in thick, slushy snow. That was more like running in sand.

Then I got to my high school and it was white and very pretty.

Soon after, I turned onto Wisconsin Avenue and the sidewalks were way better for a while. It was hard to transition back into the mindset that I should run fast. So I hovered around a 9:00 mm but I stopped stopping to take pictures. The roads got, and stayed, bad again by Tenleytown but I was so close to home and I was loving life.

Photo by Josh Bassett Photography

This didn't turn out to be the best training run ever. But it was the best it is too icy to go sledding but I still want to play in the snow run ever. I am not as proud of my splits as I have been in weeks past but I am proud of how perfectly I straddled the line between risk taking and being cautious. I ran over a lot of ice and I didn't get injured and that made this endeavor a success.

I finished the day with lots of food, cooking, some shopping, and a dinner party with friends. It was nice to eat and drink without guilt or hesitation last night, though I wouldn't have minded another reason to get out in the refreshing cold for a 10 mile run today. Frisbee was cancelled, against my wishes, so I spent 45 minutes on my new indoor bike trainer, a lot of time on the couch, and a lovely evening watching football and eating Coq au Vin with ma famille.

The snow may have provided a little stress this weekend but it wound up making for a beautiful and adventurous run. I can only hope that we get more pretty white powder this winter.

I hope you all had great weekends!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

To Run or Not to Run

According to the sacred text that is my RNR USA Half Marathon Training Plan, Friday is the day of rest. But when I was leaving work on Thursday evening and Kate said that she wanted to squeeze a workout in the next day, I blurted out that we should play tennis before I could think twice about it. She accepted, gladly, and I would have to say Sionara to my rest day this week.

Our courts.

Still, I didn't think tennis would be so bad. It doesn't involve constant running and it wasn't going to be too hard a workout. I had ten miles on the schedule for Saturday so I needed to preserve my muscles for that intimidating feat.

We brought our clothes and suited up for Tennis Tfriday at lunchtime. We were heading out and Kate checked her phone, only to discover that she had an internal meeting in less than 20 minutes. Which was about enough time to walk to the courts and back. So we postponed our "match" and I sat at my desk, self-consciously, for an hour and a half in what I am calling a wardrobe mullet. Business on the top, sweat party on the bottom.

We left at two and played for about 45 minutes. And by "play", I mean that we hit the ball back and forth wildly yelling "balls so [insert adjective here]" after nearly every hit. We aren't exactly pros so there is a lot of sprinting involved in this type of playing. By the end, I could actually feel the affect of all the sprints in my quads and I got nervous about feeling sore for the next day.

But then, "the next day" became a very hot topic of conversation. Snow was in the forecast and running might be out of the question. I found out that Nikki's running group, which meets every Saturday morning, had postponed their run to Sunday and this was discouraging. It started snowing around 11:30 on Friday night and Josh and I went outside to marvel at its beauty. I have always loved snow but, for the first time, I was actually annoyed by it for potentially inhibiting my sweat session. I refused to give up hope for my 10 mile Saturday.

Photo by Josh Bassett Photography

I woke up in the morning to Josh returning from a quick walk to CVS. I asked how the conditions were and he told me it was icy and that I shouldn't run. I ate breakfast and continued to contemplate the situation. I felt lazy and worthless and I couldn't spend the whole day on the couch. Around noon, i was feeling tired and I knew that it was now or never. I put on my asics and made Josh go out front with me to assess the situation.

I sampled a section of the sidewalk by our building and it seemed suitable for a few running steps. But Josh was adamantly opposed. He didn't understand why I had to risk getting injured when it would be so easy to wait only one day. He told me that he'd be fine with me running if I did it wearing a bike helmet. It's cute that he worries about me but I am also my own person and I make my own decisions. Still, he had a point.

So I weighed the pros and cons:

  • PRO: I wanted to get it over with before my Saturday dinner plans that would involve drinking.
  • PRO: Running on Sunday morning would prevent me from playing Frisbee.
  • PRO: It was too pretty outside not to spend a good chunk of time in the snow.
  • PRO/CON: I would not be able to/feel pressure to run very fast.
  • CON: I would put myself in greater risk of injury.
  • CON: I could use the snow as a perfect excuse for laziness.
  • CON: I would get a rest day between tennis and my long run.
  • CON: I could let my foot wound recover for one more day.
I stopped contemplating and made a decision....

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Importance of Core Strength

In training for Baltimore, the one thing I really lacked was the cross-training. I put a bunch of Nike Training workouts on my schedule but, in reality, the only thing that I did other than run was play frisbee and soccer. While both are great exercise, I would hardly call them cross training. This time around, that will change. I want to be in my best running shape by March 17 but I also want to be in the best possible overall shape by June when I set out to ride my bike 3,000 miles. It is important to continue running but I know that I also need to avoid too much heavy-impact activity to keep my knees and ankles strong for this summer.

Sweaty knees and ankles. Stay strong.

My current schedule is fairly vague with the cross training (XT) days but here is how I imagine them going: bike 45-60 minutes, do 15-30 minutes of core training or strength training. Or go to yoga or a kettle ball/strength training class at Stroga. Next week, when I get my new toy set up, the regular biking will officially begin.
Bike trainer!
This week, I had to resort exclusively to my Nike training app again. While I do love the workouts on this app, I find that they are just as high-impact as running and if I'm going to put that much stress on my knees, I'd rather just go for a run. But there is a special section called "Get Focused" with 15-minute workouts to target specific areas of the body. On Wednesday night, I did the ab burner and the back definer. According to Runner's World, a strong core will increase performance and help keep you injury free. Bring it on.
Each workout involves three five-minute repeats of these exercises.

The back isn't something that I ever think about working out. Which is crazy because it is so essential to everything I do. It is especially important, in cycling, to have a strong back and neck. So, at least at first, this back definer workout is something I'm going to do every week as part of my cross training.

Believe it or not, these weird things are actually making my back stronger. It has been mildly sore for the past 24 hours.

So here's to a stronger core and, hopefully, to improved fitness overall. It's nice to feel the burn in a place other than my legs for a change. You know I love to feel my muscles burn.

Tell me: How important is cross training to you? Do you have a favorite way of doing it?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bony Feet

I seem to have oddly bony heels. When I run, my right heel bone rubs against the inside of my shoe and wears down the inner lining, creating a hole in it, leaving only the hard outer shell of the shoe to protect my heel. This happened with my old shoes but I got a couple hundred miles out of them, felt that the entire shoe was sufficiently worn out, and retired them, before the hole in the heel had a chance to bother me at all while running.

I bought a new pair of shoes in October and wore a hole in them in only 60 or 80 miles.

Still the hole had never bothered me on a run. It just concerned me that rubbing against the hard shoe may not be good for my heel bone. On Saturday, though, I went out on a limb and wore a different, fancier pair of socks than I'm used to. They were the Thorlo experia socks and I was drawn to them by the padded heels and balls. They cost me $14/pair. Unlike my good old Nikes, they did not protect me from this hole.
It is hard to take a picture from inside a shoe.
I felt the rubbing about halfway into my 9 mile run on Saturday and I came home to a raw patch on my foot where the skin had been rubbed away.

You can barely see it here because it was just raw skin.
But, trust me, it stung!

For days, it has hurt to wear any other shoes. I managed cleats on Sunday, with lots of neosporin and a band-aid but, when I put my asics back on last night for a 5 mile tempo run, the hole in the padding wore at my scabbed foot and irritated it all over again.

I stopped in Potomac Running last night and the owner suggested that I try to fill the gap with moleskin. I have also read extensively on Runner's World and am comforted to know that I am not alone in having this problem. Most people on the forum suggest moleskin or new shoes. I obviously can't afford to buy new running shoes every two months just because of a little hole in the heel padding. So tonight, I'll pick up some mole skin and perform surgery on my asics. Let's hope for the best...

Does anyone have a similar problem with your feet? Have you ever repaired any part of your running shoes with moleskin?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Running Well and Dreaming Big

Anyone with their head in the running world probably knows that the Marathon trials for the US Olympic team were held on Saturday morning in Houston. Nikki and I avoided twitter and blogs all morning and watched the nbc replay of the event that afternoon. Shalane Flanagan, this badass chick who went to UNC won the women's race. This was her second marathon ever. All I can say is, WOW!


We sipped beers and discussed life and, of course, running. We talked about our morning runs, which had both gone well and we talked about dreams of running even better.

How well did my run go, you ask?

I won't get into all the details but the bottom line is that I ran the nine miles I had scheduled and I ran them pretty fast (by my standards).

The good news, though, is not only that I averaged an 8:34 minute mile but that maintaining that pace wasn't nearly as hard as it used to be. I felt like I was pushing myself but I also felt really good and I know that I could have, and will be able to, run faster. As I said on Friday, I am aiming to be a more consistent runner and I think I did well with these miles.

Hey, whatup Obama?

The last mile was entirely uphill and, by the end, I was entirely spent.

I got home and drank hot chocolate but, within ten minutes, I was shivering and my teeth were chattering. I huddled up on the floor and then took a really long, hot shower.

What are our dreams of running even better, you ask?

Obviously, it was hard to watch our nation's best runners speedily pound the pavement for 2 hours and not wonder what great things lie in store for ourselves in the world of marathoning. So we talked a lot about Boston. We talked about watching it together this spring. We talked about Nikki's hopes to qualify for it in 2013. We talked about how it is the most spectated athletic event in New England, with 500,000 people coming out to cheer each year. (Boo-ya, Tom Brady.) We talked about how no woman was officially allowed to run Boston until 1972. Can you tell that we looked it up on Wikipedia?

I realize that I shouldn't think about Boston until I try a marathon out and see if it's even for me. Which is fine, I'll do that. But it's still nice to be inspired and uplifted. This weekend I was truly inspired by the greatness of the Olympic runners. But I also found a reason to be proud of myself, and to believe that accomplishing a speedy 9-mile training run in the cold means that I can do even better things with this body.

Did anyone else watch the trials on Saturday? Were you inspired by that or anything else this weekend?