Monday, August 31, 2009

5th and 6th runs sub-11:00 min per mi

Busy weekend, continuing my goal of running only 11 minutes per mile or faster, but at low mileage before I start picking up more miles are this newer speed...

Friday night I remembered that the Plano Pacers running club was having their Dog Days 3x3K Relay race the next morning. I called up my training partner Sarah and suggested we do this race. Relays are normally not well-attended so our chances for an all-female team were good of there only being 3 in our divisions so we would win a medal or trophy. Yeah, that's exactly my thinking - it's easy to win if no one shows up. At my running pace, that's the only way you get a trophy. :-)

So Sarah thought it sounded fun, and I posted on Facebook that she and I would be out there the next morning. Jamie comments that she hadn't realized that race was tomorrow and was sad to miss out by realizing too late. I invited her to be our third leg! Crazy thing was that I had run this race last year and talked to Jamie while I was there. We had a mutual friend so I had met her a couple times, but exactly a year ago, I still barely knew her. And now we're such closer friends, it's so neat to be able to measure that growth in friendship!

So Team Heels and Hills descended on the race Saturday morning in our matching hot pink shirts!

I was first leg, 3K each leg. I raced hard and completed my leg at a 10:22 avg pace (10:26 for the first mile, and then a 10:15 pace for the last 0.8 miles of that leg).

Well everyone ran hard and when the awards happened, they announced third place first, and it wasn't us. We immediately said to each other, "Oh, there must have been more teams than we thought. I guess we came in 4th." Then they announced 2nd place and it was Team Heels and Hills! We were over the moon with our second place medals! Such a fun morning.

It was capped off with a random run-in for some more of the great Heels and Hills Lucky 13 Run Team members (of which Sarah and Jamie are both on the team). We were leaving, and I heard someone yell my name. Who would believe there was Brandie and Catherine, both on the Run Team!?! Catherine and Brandie had happened to run into each other on the running path, and, while they had never met before, recognized each other from the Run Team pics on the Heels and Hills website. It felt so great as everyone met each other to see 4 of the greatest ambassadors of Heels and Hills' vision together in one place!

Sunday morning, I didn't want to run. I was tired, kinda sore, and my water bottle holder was soaking in the sink, still being cleaned. I had slept in a little, it was about 8:20 am. I complained the whole way but slowly got my running clothes on. Good move, because once the clothes were on, my chances of not going out the door was only about 10%. I knew if I lingered, I might not go. I was sick and tired of the pre-run bagel and, with off-and-on stomach problems when I run, I thought it might not be a bad morning to try no food and see how it felt. I also didn't grab any water beforehand.

It was nice out, high 60 degrees. I definitely felt like no water and no food is not a good combination for me - I just felt drained of all energy. Lesson learned. It was worth a try to see how I reacted. I did 2 miles, 10:48 and 11:00.

My 6th run with 11 min miles or faster! Now to slowly start adding a little mileage to each run. But I am definitely feeling for the short distance like my body is being reset to accept the 11 min pace as my "natural" one.

Saturday, Aug. 29 - 3K leg of a relay race: 10:26, 10:15 (0.8 miles for that 10:15 pace)
Sunday, Aug. 30 - 2 miles: 10:48, 11:00

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Resetting My Pace In the Next Couple Weeks

Reminder going into this: 11:30 is half marathon goal pace, half marathon PR is 12:23 pace, speed work has been done the last two months at 10:45ish pace as mile repeats with minute walk breaks.

Tonight was my 4th run since the NYC Half Marathon Aug. 16. It was ALSO the 4th run at an 11 minute per mile pace or faster.

It started out as my inability to take it slow and recover. So I thought, after racing the half marathon, I would cut back on miles per week, but keep up a very "purposeful pace".

In reality, looking at my best running, this is mild speedwork I've been doing. Bad Libby! Not so good at easy runs, recovery runs.

After three runs like that, complaining a lot of the way, I realized that this pace didn't feel that bad, and I wasn't having to work as hard as I thought I would to hold it, that mechanically it didn't feel so hard or awkward as I expected.

So for tonight I thought I would again keep my miles low and work on that pace. With a few sprinkles hitting Sarah and me as we headed out, I thought, "Finally, some rain, weather that would feel a little less hot, on our run." But no, sprinkles stopped seconds later and, aside from an occasional mild breeze, it was a steamy humid run.

We did 2 miles. 10:56, 10:46. Yay for negative splits!

"The Plan" for right now: Do 3 miles Saturday at 11 min/mi or faster, do 2 miles Sunday at 11 min/mi or faster.

"The Goal" for right now: Keep with this sub-11 pace, and slowly start adding back miles next week. I'm actually feeling like in a couple weeks, my more "natural" pace will feel like 11 min/mi, rather than 11:30-12:00 min/mi.

We'll see, all plans and goals subject to change. :-)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Speed / Recovery the week after NYC Half?

Sunday, Aug. 16 - NYC Half - missed PR by a minute - finish at 12:28 pace

Past 8 weeks of training before the race was basically 11:30s for long runs and goal half marathon pace, 10:45-10:50s for speed work.

All the next week my back was in bad shape - felt very out of alignment.

Tuesday, Aug. 19 - 2 miles - done at a purposeful pace - 11:01, 11:03My legs felt SO sluggish.

Sunday, Aug. 23 - 3 miles - purposeful pace for first 3 - 10:57, 10:52, 11:00
+ 0.56 miles casual pace later that morning

Shins were hurting a little. Was able to get my back adjusted at the Hottest Half (thankful my chiropractor was the one helping at the race).

Tuesday, Aug. 25 - 2 miles - purposeful pace - 10:54, 10:52

7 miles in the last week all at 11:03 or under pace! Yay!
Chiropractor appointment tomorrow to get the shins treated and still having nagging tightness in upper back.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Great Race Personally, but Not A Great Day to Race

Sunday morning, August 16, 2009, I ran the New York City Half Marathon along with 15,000 others. New York City was having a HEAT WAVE. At the race start, it was 77 degrees and 74% humidity and it only got hotter from there. Along with logistical problems on the part of the race, this made for a bad day to be racing!

Course map link
Elevation Chart link

A Casual Start to the Morning’s Race

The race started at 7 am and was a corral start, which you have to be in by 6:30. The group of us included co-Race Director of Heels and Hills and H&H founder Paula Robertson, Paula’s friend Michelle Gooch from Baton Rouge, and Matt and Sarah Hendrickson (Sarah’s a Heels and Hills Lucky 13 Run Team member and good friend). We left the hotel at 5 am, made it the few stops on the subway, and entered the corral by 5:45ish. The corrals were color-coded and sectioned off in 1000s. There were a ton of portalets and the corrals were spacious for the number of people per section, so there was a nice leisurely mood to the morning. We all sat there sweating under a canopy of trees in Central Park, waiting for the start.

I spotted actress Diane Neal who was also in our corral. She’s the redhead who plays Assistant District Attorney Casey Novak on Law & Order: SVU. I saw her a couple times on the course, and it turns out she finished just a minute after me. Pics of the actress at the race here...

(My first of two celebrity sightings of the trip as it turned out – I walked right by Jimmy Fallon by Central Park on Monday and was proud I played it totally cool, like it was nothing, but admit I was a little starstruck since I never see celebrities.)

As all the runners waited for the start, we all cheered and applauded as they read off names of those elite athletes participating, like Paula Radcliffe, Deena Kastor, and Ryan Hall. The gun went off and we all casually stood there. I have to say I loved this crowd. Everyone was just so leisurely about the whole thing. We quietly, politely walked along, in an orderly fashion. The bib range signs from the original corrals gave us some clue how close we were to the start line. We see bib range 1000-1999 and people start jogging. Everyone jogs for about 30 seconds and then it’s like one collective “oops” giggle erupts from the crowd and we all walk again. Right before the start line and the running begins again. We cross the start line about 8 ½ minutes after the gun start and I start my Garmin GPS’s timer.

The Hard Topic of Race Pace

My PR is at a 12:23 pace for 2:42:13 total. And my New Year’s Resolution for 2009 was to go from my PR at the start of 2009 (2:54 set at White Rock in December) and shave off 24 minutes to break 2 ½ hours in the half in ONE YEAR. I started the summer having taken off 12 minutes from my half marathon time, with PRs set throughout the spring, culminating in the 2:42:13 time at the Big D Half Marathon at the beginning of April. After 2 months of hard training in the Texas summer heat, while I didn’t plan to break 2 ½ at this race (take off the remaining 12 minutes needed to get this goal), I did want to see if I was stronger, and how that 11:30ish pace needed to break 2 ½ hours would feel. So I started the race with the plan to run 11:30 as long as I could and then just pull it back a little, and don’t go from all to nothing like I have sometimes when it’s late in the race and I’m tired and sore.

The First Half of the Course Described

You spend the first half of the race circling through the middle of Central Park. Interestingly enough, the curvy path through the park loops around back to the start corral at mile 6 and then you find yourself repeating the course for mile 6 to 7.5 before breaking out onto the streets of New York. Through Central Park, it’s quiet, not many spectators. Inside this loop, through breaks in the trees, you can see there’s another running path, and this seems to be where the weekend warriors, casual runners, and training program runners are. It’s also more humid here in the shade, and it’s a sweaty crew of runners. Central Park is also non-stop rolling hills along this curving road, and this tires the legs after 7.5 straight miles of it.

Something’s Wrong at the Aid Stations!

1.5 miles in and I reach the first aid station. I hear volunteers yelling “No Gatorade” at the first tables. Everyone’s going from one empty table to the next. Wow, yeah, NO GATORADE! Then we hit the water tables. A row of empty tables. I get down to the end to a volunteer who is grabbing cups out of a sleeve and dunking his hand (note: no glove) into the trash can of water and shoving his hand out to have that water cup disappear into the throng. Everyone, me included, is a mix of polite and “I was here first”. Most of us are semi-queued up and wait until our outstretched hand is the one that’s next and grabs a cup. When a new hand inappropriately pops their hand in from the side, that person is quickly elbowed out of the way, the way is closed to them, at least until those ahead have gotten their cup. It’s mass chaos, but on recollection, it seems like a mostly quiet chaos…

…until at Mile 2.9. Where we hit the next aid station. Again, NO GATORADE. The same thing happens with the water at this aid station. Except the panic is somewhat setting in, with this New York heat wave we all find ourselves racing in. And runners are wary after the problem at the first aid station, and many are running BEHIND the tables to where the garbage cans filled with water are, and are scrambling to find cups they can dunk in the water. Yes, this means hundreds of dirty runner hands as they swipe a cup into that water. Uck. You can actually see people looking around and I have a moment where I recall this story from Chicago – people using other runner’s discarded cups as a cup to get their beverage because there are no more cups. And everyone looks just on the verge of doing that. I’m able to wait for a volunteer to fill a cup and shove it in my hand. The runners are disgruntled. Some are freaking out - “How can this be happening? How can they be so short on water and Gatorade?” one girl asks her friend. I muster up as many confident feelings as I can, telling myself that this is a fluke, that it will be remedied in another mile and a half when I reach the aid station. I do all I can not to think about the option that this will happen at the next aid station… and the next… and the next….

Mile 4.5 aid station is a little better – I manage to get water from a pile at a table, and while they look short on cups, they at least have SOME, so no wait.
At Mile 5.5, it’s aid station time again. This time there is Gatorade, although I have to wait for a volunteer to pour it – but OH, that’s a bright lime color! I take a sip and it’s pure sugar in my mouth. I’ve worked and orchestrated enough aid stations that 2 and 2 immediately come together to make 4. I realize that somewhere with the volunteers, there’s been a huge communication gap. The volunteers are pouring the 1 Gallon Gatorade Endurance Formula concentrate into the cups. The normal mix is like 5 gallons water to 1 gallon concentrate! If they aren’t diluting it, of course they don’t probably have enough for everyone, and no wonder there was no Gatorade at the first two aid stations!

This aid station is still suffering from water supply problems. But luckily I’m able to come across a table with a half sleeve of cups and a couple pitchers of water. So here I am in a race pouring myself water from a pitcher – what is wrong with this picture?!?

So Let’s Review:

Mile 1 - 11:21 (great start)
Mile 2 - 12:16 (major problems at aid station at mile 1.5)
Mile 3 - 12:09 (still problems at aid station at mile 2.9)
Mile 4 - 11:30 (great mile)
Mile 5 - 12:46 (pouring my own water and waiting for Gatorade at aid station at mile 4.5)
Mile 6 - 12:09

A LONG Half Marathon Course… Is that actually possible?

While the aid station problems have me coming to grips with the fact my pace this race day will just not be what I want, I have another issue I’m noticing. With such a big race, I’m trying to be good and conserve energy and not weave through the crowd very much. And the course for the first 7.5 miles is non-stop curving roads, first left, then right, then left, etc. And it’s a banked road, sloping down on each side. I’m aware that courses are marked and certified on the assumption that everyone “runs the tangents” i.e. they take the shortest path, so they cut the curve as close as possible. With 15,000 other runners and a sloping road, you find it’s safest and easiest on the feet to just stay towards the center of the road, regardless of the curve. So obviously not the shortest path, with no curve-cutting happening. So around mile 3, I’m starting to notice the discrepancy on my Garmin. A tenth at first, and then another tenth at the next mile, and so on. By the time we come out from the first 7.5 miles of Central Park, I’m seeing a difference at the mile 8 mile marker of about 0.4 miles. With a direct route for the rest of the race, the discrepancy didn’t really grow, and I ended the race 0.45 miles longer than the actual measured course.

Note the actual measured course is CORRECT and I don’t want anyone to think I’m implying it’s not – it is very hard to always exactly match the course measurement, but this is a curvy course with a large crowd that makes it even harder to get close to the official course measurements!

Entertaining But Over Too Quickly

Miles 7.5 to mile 9 took you straight through Midtown Manhattan, with all the hubbub and flashing billboards and most importantly Times Square! We ran straight down 7th Avenue, which is a HUGE street you realize when you are on it. After almost no spectators in Central Park, there were a lot more people out cheering in this area, with a big quarantined cheering zone at one point too. Times Square was the location of a spectator and runner sing-a-long and it was as awesome as I had hoped it would be. A jumbotron with the words to the song on the screen, music blaring, broadway performers with microphones on a stage leading the whole shebang, and spectators, runners, and ME belting out Joan Jett & the Blackhearts “I Love Rock N Roll” at the top of my lungs. It was a very nice moment, you couldn’t help but smile big. But seconds later it was over! I wished I could have had that moment every mile, or at least had it least for more than 20-30 seconds!

During this the Garmin was definitely having issues with all the tall buildings, and it really freaked me out. All of a sudden my pace is varying from 7-9 minutes per mile (not possible), so it just made it very hard to not run too hard in this nice flat section of terrain with such great crowd support.

So Let’s Review:

Mile 7 - 11:51
Mile 8 - 12:05
Mile 9 - 8:37 (huh? Garmin had issues with the tall buildings)

And Then It Got Really Hot

At Mile 9 you’ve reached the west edge of Manhattan, and you turn and run down West Highway – a straight flat stretch on concrete the rest of the way. No scenery to speak of, just a wide road with the hope of shade behind spatterings of buildings and clusters of trees in the highway’s medians. And when you weren’t in the shade, it had become very very hot.

My nervous stomach all throughout the morning began to strongly dislike this heat. And what had been nagging upset stomach caused me to finally be forced to take a portalet break at Mile 12. I had really hoped to finish without having to stop, and unfortunately know that it’s one more little thing that kept me from a PR.

I spent the last mile getting close to that feeling that I was going to pass out. The last 5 miles or so, each water stop included a half cup of water on top of the head and half cup of water down the front of the shirt. The last few miles they were great at having firehoses out every mile or so as their makeshift “misting station” and I tried to take full advantage. And thank goodness, they had resolved the aid station problems at this point and I had no problem refueling at each one.

So Let’s Review:

Mile 10 - 12:43
Mile 11 - 13:17 (started feeling really sick to my stomach, and it was getting so hot)
Mile 12 - 13:52 (portalet stop)
Mile 13 - 12:06
Mile 13.1 - 11:29 pace
Mile 13:55 - 12:16 pace

Finale … or Maybe Just Finally

I crossed the finish line at 2:43:20. Not below the 2:42:13 PR I would have liked, but with heat, humidity, aid station problems, stomach issues, and a crowd of 15000, this was not the day to have even tried to go out for a PR.

And I have to say that this truly was the first half marathon I RACED, not just RAN. Over the next 20 minutes after the finish, I kept finding myself tearing up. I had proven to myself that I was way stronger than I thought I was. I had pushed through in all those conditions, I had ignored all those excuses to slow down, I had run during those last handful of miles as I passed a lot of people walking, and I had come within a minute of a new Personal Record.

I am so excited to test out this newfound strength at my next half marathon race, hopefully with more optimal conditions to not just PR, but to get even closer to that 2009 New Year’s Resolution to break 2 ½ hours!

Splits Summary

Mile 1 - 11:21
Mile 2 - 12:16
Mile 3 - 12:09
Mile 4 - 11:30
Mile 5 - 12:46
Mile 6 - 12:09
Mile 7 - 11:51
Mile 8 - 12:05
Mile 9 - 8:37
Mile 10 - 12:43
Mile 11 - 13:17
Mile 12 - 13:52
Mile 13 - 12:06
Mile 13.1 - 11:29 pace
Mile 13:55 - 12:16 pace

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Recovering from NYC Half Marathon

Although Sunday was a hard race at the NYC Half Marathon, I knew I needed to get back on that horse and keep up the weekday running routine. But I wanted to do almost anything but run tonight. I was afraid if I didn't run that I would quickly fall out of the habit.

I just wanted to get the run over with, so I decided ahead of time to do 2 miles at a "purposeful pace." Since my goal half marathon pace is 11:30 and I've been doing speedwork at around 10:30 for mile repeats, I thought I would shoot for 11:00 min/mi.

My legs were so sluggish, it felt like I was trying to do 8 min/mi. But I forced myself to go 1 mile out and 1 mile back. Training partner Sarah kept me moving (she's normally faster than me anyway) with lots of encouragement. Finished the two miles with 11:00 and 11:02 - perfect!

Can't wait for the legs to feel better!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Strategies in Preparing Mentally for Sunday's NYC Half

So last night I did 3 miles at a possible race pace to remind my body how it feels and blogged about that. Today - Sharing the list of strategies I'm employing to gain confidence in setting a new Personal Record at this Sunday's New York City Half Marathon. I used a lot of these strategies on half marathons I PRed at this winter/spring and afterward really felt they were a big reason for the PR. One reason the half marathon is my favorite distance - a giant part of the race day game is the mental side!

So here's how I prepare for my now 6th half marathon of the year:

1) Nutrition and Hydration - I am normally not great at either. Last night I threw down the gauntlet and realized I have to get serious. Keeps me optimistic about Sunday each time I make a decent decision in this realm.

2) Keep physically strong - extra stretching this week. Went to the chiropractor on Monday and will see him again Thursday afternoon (last time he's in the office before I get on a plane).

3) Review the course maps and elevation charts - I use this to develop a repeatable mantra for the week. For example, "It's completely flat the last 4 miles!" or "Can't wait to see Times Square at mile 8 1/2!"

Course Map
You spend the first 7.5 miles circling Central Park - will probably be a nice cool portion of the run with such pretty scenery. Keep in mind that miles 6-7.5 is a repeat of the first 1.5 miles of the race. Mile 8.5 is TIMES SQUARE - how often do you get to run traffic-free through Times Square?!? Use this excitement leading up to mile 8.5. It's a straight shot down along the west edge of Manhattan the remaining last 4 miles.

Elevation Chart
Max change of about 125 feet over the whole course. Next to a half marathon in Texas (which often has 300-400 feet change), that is SO flat! Little decent-sized hills but they always end QUICK! The last 4 miles are the lowest of the whole course and COMPLETELY flat.

4) Review recent runs and paces -

* Last speedwork done - In 88 degrees and 75% humidity, 2.4 miles at a 10:14 avg
* The day before that speedwork - In 90 degrees and 65% humidity, 3 miles at 10:49 pace chatting the whole way
* Looping White Rock Lake July 19 - one mile leisurely walked in the middle, remaining 8.3 miles at 11:25 pace
* 10K run on trails in Plano July 4 - 11:39 pace

I can do this! I reread a lot of my blog posts tonight, and I've been working hard!

5) Do the Math!

What if I just do 12:00s the whole way? 2:37:12 (5 minutes off PR) I'm not sure at this point that my legs will feel very comfortable at that pace, because I haven't really been running that slow of a pace much the last few months.

What if I work on 11:40 the whole way? 2:32:50 (10 minutes off PR) Hmmm, this one sounds pretty good to try.

What if I can maintain 11:30 the whole way? 2:30:39 (11 1/2 minutes off PR)

What if I start at 11:30 and by mile 9 I'm more than miserable and walk at 16 min/mi? 2:49 (no PR)
This is a silly scenario if it's an okay running day - I just looked at the past runs and did 8.3 at 11:25 pace. Looking at this option is me just being scared I'm not prepared.

What if I start at 11:30 and by mile 9 I drop down to 12:45s (remembering it's very flat terrain)? 2:35:47 (6 1/2 min off PR)

6) Run a bit this week at a possible race pace for Sunday - to see how I'm feeling and gain confidence.

So far that's working well!

Result: I'm feeling much better about Sunday and think I want to do 11:30s as long as possible and then just try to stay strong if it gets too much and not go from all to nothing (i.e. just walk the last couple miles "because I'm tired").

Thank you everyone for the encouragement you've given me, it means so much to me!

A Run To Overcome a Crisis of Confidence

I spent the last week with a growing crisis of confidence. Yes, I had spent all summer so far training routinely (a new thing for me) :-) in this blasted heat, doing just about all speedwork. But circumstances last week led me to not run at all - that's fine, it's a taper, I'll just have fresh legs, right?

But I just have felt this dwindling confidence in the idea that I am in fact faster. And that I can PR on Sunday. I would very much like to see that validation of the hard work I've put in and see a PR. I don't know that this is the race to try to meet my New Year's Resolution to take 24 minutes off my half marathon time during 2009 and end the year with a sub-2 1/2 hr half marathon.

PR pace = sub-12:23 min/mi (current PR is 2:42:13)
New Year's Resolution pace = 11:27 min/mi (want to break 2 1/2 hours this year)

The past couple days I've been trying to regain some confidence by turning positive comments I can find about the course map or the weather forecast into a repeatable mantra.

But tonight I'd had a hard day and I was still trying to just get comfortable with the range of paces I've been running the last few months, so I planned to use tonight's run to do 2 miles at 11:30 pace (basically New Year's Resolution pace). I wanted to remind my body what that pace feels like... and I hoped after all the speed work I've been doing, that it would be a reminder that it's a manageable pace, maybe for much longer than the 2 miles.

Well in winding through the neighborhood, I ended up much further away from my house at 2 miles, so did 3 instead.

3 miles at 34:23 = 11:28 avg pace
Mile 1: 11:29
Mile 2: 11:26
Mile 3: 11:28

The 3 were pretty manageable. The weather was 86 degrees with 54% humidity. New York's expected weather - 68 degrees in the morning and about the same humidity. Yippee!

In the end, desired results were achieved! I'm feeling a lot better about PRing on Sunday if it's a good day!

Next blog will discuss the multi-layer strategy of continued confidence building between now and Sunday, since a lot of times race times for me are very dependent on my mental state at the time.

Sometimes I'm Such a Girl

So after 7-8 weeks of very consistent training, last week I didn't run at all. I had done my long run last Sunday, so my planning was to do my weekday runs Wednesday and Thursday nights.

But Wednesday night there were storms in Allen, complete with lightning. Not safe.

Then is the part where this story has to do with being SUCH a girl. My husband, daughter, and I had a family photoshoot scheduled for Saturday morning, and I hadn't realized by coincidence that I had a hair cut and coloring appointment Thursday night. This was a reschedule because the salon had lost power the previous weekend, so the whole thing hadn't clicked. So Wednesday morning it hit me - you know your hair is never as cute as when the hairdresser has just styled it, and I realized that I obviously couldn't run Thursday night because of the hair appt that night, but also that I could have really cute hair in the photoshoot Saturday morning if I didn't run between Thursday night and then. Only a day and a half!

So there went the week. I totally failed at fitting in the running because of several reasons, the biggest one having to do with my hair of all things.

I think it worked out fine - I've been stretch a lot and I want to be really fresh for the New York City Half Marathon this Sunday anyway. I'll get a couple small runs in this week, but that's it.

It would be great to PR (set a new personal record) on Sunday at the race, but I'm trying not to put pressure on myself. We'll just see what happens!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Last Big Long Run Done Before NYC Half in 2 Weeks

I hadn't done my long run the previous morning because I had woke up sick. Sarah (neighbor) said she would run this morning with me, and our goal was to do 10. I walked out my front door and Sarah told me her back was hurting with the "I don't know how many I can do."

Luckily, I employed some hefty distraction by having us run 2 miles down the road to the highway and across and then through a huge near shopping center (The Village at Allen) and a new hike & bike path we discovered they had built there that took you by two manmade ponds. We wound around so that we stopped at the pavilion in the shopping center at 3.7 miles to take a pause and have our Gu and refill water bottles at the water fountain that had really cold water!

Then we headed across Stacy Road to the brand-new Village at Fairview where they had just opened the JcPenney and Macy's. Another huge development, it was a nice chance to see it upclose without risking an accident craning your neck in a car while driving by. We found a new neighborhood of townhomes behind the shopping center and ran through there, finding another pond.

Headed back to the pavilion for bathroom break, Gu refueling, and water bottle refill again and were at 7 miles here. We had two encounters with "creepy folk": no one around at 8 am in this shopping center and a guy arriving in the construction area yelled at us, I think offering us a ride, and started walking towards us. Great way to make you pick up your pace at mile 7 as we sped away in the other direction. The other guy was at a street intersection - middle-aged guy alone in his SUV with his window rolled down, and he stared, smiling, as we crossed the street - creepy!

After Sarah's sore back started loosening up at the start of the run, she thought she might make it most of the way, maybe 9. Sarah had done a great job hanging in there with her sore lower back and around mile 8.25, declared she could make it to mile 9 and then walk the last mile. I pulled us off course to another neighborhood because otherwise we would reach home at 9 and I wasn't sure I could take the mental anguish to wave bye-bye to my house to walk one more mile with her. The neighborhood deviation ended up being a pretty good addition, and we ended up at 10.35 miles in the end!

Splits - these splits include a few jaunts through grass, a couple stops at intersections, etc:
Mile 1: 11:46
Mile 2: 12:27
Mile 3: 12:14
Mile 4: 12:46
Mile 5: 12:34
Mile 6: 12:57
Mile 7: 13:03
Mile 8: 11:50
Mile 9: 12:47

Subtotal: 1:52:24 - 12:29 pace

Mile 10: 18:26
Last 0.3: 18:52 min/mi pace

Total: 2:17:24 - 13:17 pace