A Simple Running Log

December 31, 2012

Training for 12/31/12

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 5:37 pm

This is it, my last post of 2012!

I’ll post first about my final three workouts of the year.

Saturday morning, it wasn’t raining yet when I woke up. It was gray and cold and looked like it might start raining at any second though. On the plus side, there was no wind.

I put on a fitted mock neck top, tights and my Zeroes, and set out for a trip around my 8.2-mile loop at goal marathon pace.

Recently I decided to drop my goal pace in the marathon to 7:50/mile, a 3:25 finish, based on how easily I’ve been pulling off 8:00 miles in long runs and much faster paces in supposed pace runs. So I was going for 7:50/mile during Saturday’s run.

It was misting a little when I started out. I hit the first mile in 7:26. I made an effort to rein it in somewhat. The mile had felt good, but not like a pace I could sustain for another 25 in a row.

It was in that second mile it started raining on me, but by that time I was warmed up and the rain wasn’t a bother.

I wound up cruising through the rest of the run, finishing the loop in 1:01:33, a 7:30/mile pace. I’ve never run that loop that fast.

I felt pretty good about the run when it was over, and I was glad to get out of the rain, which had picked up considerably over the course of the run. It rained the rest of the afternoon.

That night, Clark and I went to Salisbury to use one of the Evolution Brewery Public House gift certificates Mom gave Clark for Christmas. Before we went to dinner, I wanted to stop at VP Shoes, to see if I could finally use a $50 gift card I’d won in a raffle after a race I ran this past summer.

I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, until Clark asked if I thought anyone would make fun of him at the Surf City Half Marathon for wearing the Nike gym shorts he’s had since ninth grade. I pointed out the elastic waistband has pretty much disintegrated. Clark insisted it didn’t matter because the drawstring still worked. That decided it — I was spending the gift card on a new pair of running shorts for Clark.

Clark found a pair of lined Nike running shorts on the clearance rack he liked that were only $20, so I spent the rest of the card on my own pair of clearance Nike shorts, a pair of Balega socks just like the pair I liked so much that got ruined by that mud marathon in June and another pair of Balega socks for Clark. Now Clark’s all geared up for the half. It was a successful shopping trip in my opinion.

Sunday morning, I woke up to all the howling wind that had been promised. I really did not want to run 16 miles in that mess, but I had to do it.

It was at least a sunny day, but the feels-like temp was below freezing with the wind chill, so I added a running jacket to block the wind on top of the fitted mock neck top. I took an Imodium before leaving, filled up my water bottle, put a package of Jelly Belly Sport Beans and another Imodium in the water bottle’s pouch, turned on my new iPod with the running playlist I’d made up Friday night and hit the road.

The wind was insane. I didn’t look at weather.com until I’d made it back home, but we had sustained winds of 25 mph, with gusts up to 40 mph. It was absolutely miserable in the areas surrounded by nothing but open fields, which is a good chunk of my route.

After three miles, I was seriously considering running a shorter loop on the road and then taking the rest of my miles to the trail, just to get out of the wind. But I really didn’t trust myself to actually drive out to the trail and run another five or six miles after I’d been home, so I stuck to my original plan to run all 16 miles on the road.

The closest complete loop I had to 16 miles was only 15.5 miles, so at first I’d planned on running my 9.5-mile loop and then my 6.5-mile loop. But again, I didn’t trust myself to keep running if I passed my house before I was completely done, so I decided it was better to just do the 15.5-mile loop.

There were some points in the run, when I was surrounded by trees or near some houses, that it really wasn’t that bad. There were other points when I was being blown to a near-standstill by the head-on wind. I forced myself to keep going.

Around eight miles, I ate my Sport Beans and took the other Imodium. I hadn’t had any gut trouble to that point, but I’d had to stop around 12 miles the first time I’d tried it, so I hoped taking a second one mid-run would prevent that.

Just past 9.5 miles, I hit the section near Galestown and then Line Road. That was probably the worst part of the whole run. The wind was just relentless. When it was coming from the side, it was practically blowing me across the road. When it was coming from the front, it was hard to even keep moving forward.

Finally, around 11.5 miles, I made a turn off Line Road and had the wind at my back, and then got into a tree-lined section of the road and really couldn’t feel the wind at all. Right around mile 12 again, I had to stop in the woods. Sigh. Again, it was the only time the whole run I had to go. I’m going to keep experimenting with this Imodium and get it right.

The next couple of miles were pretty pleasant. Usually I would turn on Matts Road and head home that way, which would have gotten me home in 15.5 miles. But at some point before that, I realized if I just ran past Matts Road and made the next left turn, that would get me the extra half-mile I needed to make it a true 16-mile run. So that’s what I did.

When I made that left turn, however, I was back in the direct path of the wind. The last couple of miles of a long run are tough enough, but they’re much worse in wind like that. I kept pushing against that stupid wind, and finished 16.1 miles in 2:17, an 8:30/mile average, exactly what I was aiming for.

I was pretty happy about hitting my goal pace in spite of the wind, but I could tell my calf muscles weren’t happy about how much harder they’d had to work just to keep me moving forward. I had worn the Zeroes for that run again, since I want to wear them in the marathon, and while my feet felt good, my calves were screaming.

Oh well. That’s the point of training right? I did plenty of stretching and foam rolling at home.

I watched some football yesterday, and last night, Clark and I took back to my parents’ house this enormous picnic table that had been taking up space in the garage since we borrowed it for our Fourth of July party. We stayed long enough to eat dinner with my parents and younger sister.

This morning, I had to get up early to do my workout, since I had to work today. I went outside first for an easy 3-miler. There was no wind or rain, but it was butt-numbingly cold! I wore my cushy 890s and ran a very, very easy pace, and by the end of the first mile, my calves didn’t feel too bad.

When I got home, I ate some breakfast and then went upstairs to the equally freezing cold attic for push-ups, ab exercises, invisible chair-sitting and weights.

First, I’ll do my December summary:

Mileage:

  • Week 1 (Dec. 1): 9 miles
  • Week 2 (Dec. 2-8): 33.6
  • Week 3 (Dec. 9-15): 18
  • Week 4 (Dec. 16-22): 46.7
  • Week 5 (Dec. 23-29): 34.9
  • Week 6 (Dec. 30-31): 19.1

Total: 161.2 miles

The first few weeks were low as I tapered for and then recovered from the half marathon on Dec. 8, but the last couple weeks started climbing again, as I got into Shamrock Marathon training. The half was the only race I ran this month. I felt like I had a shot at a PR, but my digestive system had other ideas. I’m sick and tired of it, hence the Immodium experimentation on my long runs since then.

And now, the big one — my 2012 summary.

Mileage:

  • January: 230.1 miles
  • February: 31.3
  • March: 80.5
  • April: 87.5
  • May: 157.4
  • June: 163.3
  • July: 176.1
  • August: 230.8
  • September: 212.5
  • October: 172
  • November: 182.5
  • December: 161.3

Total: 1,885.3 miles

I ran nearly 350 miles less than 2011. I think it’s pretty obvious where the problem was though. February, that is pathetic. And March and April, you’re not very impressive either.

When last year ended, I had completely obliterated all of my goals for the year. Today, I look at the goals I made for 2012, and there they stand, smirking at me, as well as all the PRs I set last year. This just wasn’t my year.

Let’s take a look, shall we? Here were my goals for 2012:

  • Stay injury-free. Not even close. I missed just about all of February and a lot of March due to a mysterious pain in my right foot. Somehow I doubt it was the “joint imbalance” diagnosed by that quack chiropractor I saw.
  • Run my first ultra, a trail 50K. Actually accomplished this one, on Nov. 10.
  • Run a sub-20:00 5K. Nope. Didn’t even beat my PR of 20:38. Closest I got was a 20:49 in November.
  • Run a sub-1:35 half marathon. Nope. Felt like I had a shot twice — hot, humid weather killed my chances in Virginia Beach, and I was off pace in Rehoboth. The stop in the woods ended my PR shot, but I was already off sub-1:35 before that happened.
  • Run a sub-3:30 marathon. It didn’t happen at Shamrock after the foot injury screwed up training, and then it didn’t happen at Twin Cities after I somehow managed to underdress for a marathon.
  • Run a few small races with Pepper. I only got to do two with him this year, but one was a trail 5K, which was fun.

It seemed like there was always something working against me. In every race report I wrote, there was a line like, “I could have done a lot better, if…” The “if” was usually followed by a rant about an injury that derailed training, or terrible weather or a hateful digestive system that ruined race day.

It started in late January. I was training for the Shamrock Marathon, where I hoped to run sub-3:30. Instead, I twisted something in my right foot at the peak of the training schedule (I think because I ran in the same pair of shoes way too long), sat out most of Monster Month, eked out a few miles during the taper and then ran a 4:07. (It should be noted, I also successfully ran the 8K the day before the marathon, so that was something.)

shamrock finish 1

Right after finishing the marathon. Guess what word I’m about to use to describe how my legs felt?

 

My foot felt great for both races that weekend, and I thought my woes were behind me, but a week later, a new pain cropped up in the same foot and I had to take off another two weeks.

That seemed to set the tone for the rest of the year for me. I feel like I lose fitness faster than a lot of runners, and have to work a lot harder to get it back after a layoff, though I admit a lot of it is probably in my head. I get so scared I’m going to reaggravate old injuries that I let myself use “I’m coming off an injury” as an excuse to back off in workouts a lot longer than necessary.

Once I started running again in early April, after the second round of mystery pain in the right foot cleared up, I didn’t suffer any more injuries this year.

I got back into racing with a promising 5-miler on May 5, in which I equaled my PR. I ran a 10K two weeks later, but I couldn’t get myself to race it, so I just cruised in to a finish time five minutes slower than my PR. That was my only 10K all year.

I did get some awesome pictures from that race though:

Next on my schedule was a trail marathon. How hard could it be, right? Really hard! I was undertrained, for one, having just come off that injury, and then it rained its ass off the night before and turned the entire course into an ankle-deep mud bog. I finished it though, in 5:51. To put it in perspective, it took me 20 minutes longer to finish that 26.2-mile race than it took me to finish a 31-mile trail race in November.

Hmm. Where's that smile now, huh?

My unhappiest marathon finish line shot, haha.

Then it got hot, like record-setting hot. I ran a bunch of 5Ks over the summer. The best I could manage was 21:25 on the hottest weekend of the summer.

Coming to the finish line. I like the weird sweat pattern on my sports bra. I don't think I've ever seen that one before.

Coming to the finish line of the Beach Paper Firecracker 5K on June 30.

By the end of August, I felt fast again, and I was looking forward to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon on Labor Day weekend. But the weather was absolutely atrocious for a distance race. I’ve raced on hotter and more humid days, but only a couple, and only 5Ks. That half marathon was just unreal. I ran 1:43, eight minutes off my goal time, and still finished in the top 10 in my age group (of 1,125 runners.)

kara and me after the race 2

Kara, who ran her second 5K that day, and me, after our races.

The next big thing for me was Twin Cities. I was finally going to get that sub-3:30 marathon. Training went great. In spite of eating curry the night before the race, my digestive system was quiet the whole race. And it wasn’t hot — quite the opposite. It was freezing cold! I was way underdressed, and never warmed up. My fingers were so frozen I wasn’t able to open anything to eat it. I was a wreck by the final 10K, and limped home to a 3:44.

JB's shot around mile 23

Shockingly, I’m running in this shot. It was taken around mile 23, when there wasn’t much running going on for me anymore.

In November, I finally checked off the only goal I actually accomplished this year. I ran my first 50K, the Rosaryville Veteran’s Day 50K. It’s a good thing my only goal was to finish, because I’m pretty sure the six stops for digestive issues would have ruined any time goals. I was later able to attribute those gut problems to sour milk I ate for breakfast.

Thirty-one miles, done!

Thirty-one miles, done!

Later in November, I ran my only sub-21 5K of the year, a 20:49.

My last race of the year was the Rehoboth Half Marathon on Dec. 8. I really felt like I was going to PR, and I was on track for it too until mile 8, when, you guessed it, I had to stop in the woods to take care of my stupid digestive issues again. I finished about a minute off my PR.

Erin and me approaching mile 5. We haven't spotted JB yet.

Running with my friend Erin around mile 5.

So, 2012. Meh. Good riddance.

But! There’s a bright spot.

Two years ago, I had a similar year. Got injured early, milked that excuse way past its expiration date, didn’t do anything spectacular the rest of the year. Then I followed it up with an amazing year in 2011.

I’m determined to make that happen again. First thing is to stay healthy. I already started that recently by actually replacing my worn out Zeroes instead of waiting until they caused a big injury.

Next thing is to get my gut under control. While I know I have trouble if I eat sugary or fatty foods the day before a long run or race, I’ve also had really bad experiences after eating bland foods that have worked before. It’s frustrating, like the solution keeps changing. The Imodium has helped the two times I’ve tried it on long runs since, but it hasn’t been the magic bullet I was hoping for. Of course, the night before both of those runs, I had good beer and bad food for dinner, so there’s probably a dietary component to get under control too. Which sucks, because, in the true American spirit, I’d rather just take a pill than actually watch what I eat!

The last thing is to train smart. Run appropriate paces on recovery days so I can run harder on speedwork days. Get out of the “more is always better” mindset in regards to mileage. Stretch after every run.

I’m also NOT setting any particular goals for any distances in 2013. (Except the marathon — damn I want that sub-3:30!) I’ll just see what happens, and take the pressure off myself to hit some arbitrary number.

Anyway, because 2012 wasn’t ALL bad, here are my 10 most memorable running events from the year, in no particular order, because I really can’t rank them:

1. Running in the New Balance Zeroes. They feel like they were made especially for my feet.

2. My first introduction to my friend Allison, who collapsed to the ground with calf cramps right after we met at the finish line of the St. Michaels half marathon in May! I got to see her at a couple more races this year, including the epicness that was Lady Loopfest in Rehoboth.

Allison and me in the tent after the race.

Allison and me in the tent after the Rehoboth half.

3. All the Loopfests — Lady Loopfest in Rehoboth, Twin Cities Loopfest in Minnesota and LoopRock in Virginia Beach. I love the friendships I’ve struck up online that have turned into real life ones. These are people I’d have never met had it not been for running and the internet.

group shot on the bridge

Group shot on the Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis.

4. Kara picking up running. Turns out she’s really fast! And very committed to training. I think that natural sibling rivalry is going to push us to make each other faster. I can’t wait to see how she tears up her first half marathon at Shamrock in March.

The white ribbons are our medals, but who cares, when you get pie!

Kara and me with the pies we won after we both won our age groups in a 5K in November.

5. Completing the Whale Challenge at Shamrock (8K and marathon on consecutive days) and the 50K. I am pretty damn proud of how far I can run, I have to say. I might not have done anything impressive in terms of speed this year, but I did push myself to run farther than I would have believed I could just a couple of years ago.

6. Clark signing up for his first half marathon, now only a month away. Yes, he did it just so he could show me “you don’t have to dedicate so much time to running and still run a 1:30 half marathon,” and he’s quickly discovered that just isn’t the case, but it’s still been fun talking running with him. And secretly, I’m hoping he enjoys Surf City and he does some more racing.

IMG_0260

This is from last April, before he signed up for the half, but it’s a great shot of Clark and Pepper running and I wanted to post it again, so there.

7. Running with Pepper. You just can’t NOT have a good time with him! Usually.

Pepper proudly standing over his favorite "stick."

Pepper proudly standing over his favorite “stick” that he carried for six miles one day.

8. Every time I finished a training run feeling like a badass. They were usually workouts I was kinda dreading beforehand, either because of the distance, the intensity of the goal pace or both. When I killed it, it was the best feeling!

9. Discovering a bit of creepy history in my own backyard, thanks to running. (And Google.)

IMG_0438

Cannon Hall, reportedly haunted AND still looking like it did after it burned two years ago.

10. Meeting Bobby Labonte and getting his autographs on both shoes I wore for the Twin Cities Marathon. The race didn’t go nearly as well as I’d hoped, but it was neat to see a couple of my favorite things, running and Bobby Labonte, intersect like that.

The luckiest pair of New Balance 1600s.

Bobby signing the luckiest pair of New Balance 1600s.

In spite of how relatively poopy this year was compared to last, I feel pretty good about it. Mostly because it’s over, haha.

I’m also really looking forward to 2013. Right now, the only races I’m definitely doing are the Surf City Half Marathon in California; the Whale Challenge again in Virginia Beach, where I really, really want to finally go under 3:30 in the marathon; the St. Michaels Half Marathon in May (signed up early with a discount code for the cheapest possible rate); and the Rehoboth half again in December (registration opens tonight at 9 p.m. with a special discount for the first three hours only!)

I want to do another 50K or two, and I want to run a fall marathon somewhere. I’ll definitely again do that local summer racing series of a 5-miler and five 5Ks. Other than that, the year’s pretty much wide open.

So happy New Year!

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December 28, 2012

Training for 12/28/12

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 4:38 pm

This morning, I ran on the trail with Pepper, so I got to try out my new trail shoes, and Pepper got to try out his new harness.

We finally had another nice day for running here. Freezing cold, but not too windy and no rain. The trail was empty when we got there.

We did a quick lap around our regular 3-mile route. Pepper’s harness seemed to work out just fine, and I really enjoyed my new shoes. I love the zero drop, and they felt pretty flexible. The trail was dry, so I didn’t have any chance to test the grippiness of the treads, but I’m sure that will happen soon.

When we got back home, I did today’s push-ups workout and some stretching.

This weekend is just going to suck for running. Tomorrow is supposed to rain all day, but with light wind. Sunday is supposed to be clear again, but really windy.

I’m scheduled to do a 16-mile long run and an 8-mile pace run this weekend. I think I’ll do the pace run tomorrow in the rain, when there won’t be any wind to slow me down, and the long run Sunday, when pace won’t matter.

We don’t really have any other plans for the weekend. I have to work Monday, which is New Year’s Eve, so I’ll get to post my big year-end summary on the actual last day of the year.

December 27, 2012

Training for 12/27/12

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 4:40 pm

This morning, I had on the schedule my second speed workout of the week, a 40-minute tempo run.

All the pouring rain from last night had moved on, but it was very windy again, and pretty cold. I figured there was a good chance the wind at some point was going to put the kibosh on my attempt at running fast, but I had to get done what I could.

I was out there before the sun. As I did my warm up mile, an 18-wheeler passed me, flashing its lights at me. I usually take that to mean “Nice job” rather than “Get off the road, psycho.”

Anyway, unfortunately, the wind was at my back for the warm up mile, which meant it was going to be in my face for much of the part of the route where I should be running fast. I hit the start button on my watch at the end of the warm up, and sped up to a comfortably hard pace.

The first two miles weren’t so bad. The wind was at an angle, but mostly hitting my back. It was whipping my hair around and into my face again, but it helped propel me along. I ran the first fast mile in 7:17. Just before the ferry and the second fast mile point, I made another turn, this time into the wind.

When I hit the ferry and checked my watch, it said 7:21. As in, the time now is 7:21 a.m. Had I just completely forgotten to start the timer two miles earlier?

I trotted along at an easy pace for a couple of minutes, marveling at my own stupidity. Eventually I realized that was impossible, because the watch had definitely said 7:17 when I checked the first time, and while the wind was at my back for much of that next mile, I definitely didn’t run a 4:00 mile.

It dawned on me to check the timer on the watch. Sure enough, it was still running. I had simply accidentally hit the ‘mode’ button at some point and switched the display to the actual time.

I’d screwed up the timing of the tempo run by taking it easy for a couple of minutes after I’d thought I’d not been timing it at all, and the wind was now in my face, so I just scrapped the rest of the time I was supposed to run hard.

Even though I was running much slower the rest of the way home, it felt just as hard, as the wind was blowing against me most of the way. I did the rest of my 7.2-mile loop and called it good.

I did some stretching at home to finish up.

December 26, 2012

Training for 12/26/12

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 6:39 pm

And another Christmas is in the books!

I had a good four-day weekend since I last posted. I ran a lot, I ate a lot, I got a lot of new running gear for Christmas so I could keep running a lot.

Saturday morning, it was as windy as they’d predicted, unfortunately. I was going to just do my 7-miler that day because of the wind, but the 7-miler was supposed to be run at goal marathon pace, while the 10-miler was a long run and therefore supposed to be slow anyway. So I decided to just suck it up and do my 10.5-mile loop in the wind. I didn’t even time it, since I knew it was going to be molasses slow when the wind was blowing directly in my face.

The wind was so strong, it was annoying no matter what angle it was coming from. When it was behind me, it was whipping my ponytail around my head and smacking me in the face with it. That shit stings when it pokes you in the eye! When it was coming from the side, I had to lean against it to stay upright, and it was blowing my legs into each other, often nearly tripping me. And of course, when it was coming at me head-on, like it did for the entire final 3.5 miles, the gusts drove me nearly to a standstill every time.

I got it all done though, which is what counts. Other than the wind, it was a pretty enjoyable and easy cutback week long run.

That morning, I took this picture after a reindeer killed a penguin in our kitchen:

pepper killed a penguin

Later that afternoon, my friend JB, the amateur photographer/runner who loves taking pictures at all the Loop meets, posted to Facebook a picture he took more than a year ago, during the group shakeout run the day before the 2011 Philly half marathon:

philly half shakeout run

I love this picture.

That night, Clark and I met my cousins, Corey and Becky, at the Washington Street Pub in Easton. We had dinner and then hung out at the bar for a while. Becky doesn’t live around here anymore, so it was nice getting to see her again.

Sunday, I finished up my gift wrapping and got ready for my 7-mile pace run. Another reason I’d held off on the pace run until Sunday was so I could take Pepper with me, and wear him out before we went to Clark’s grandmother’s house that evening. The wind had slacked off considerably, but it was still chilly out, so I put Pepper in his jacket and harness, and we hit the road.

Since he knew Clark was still at home, Pepper made it very clear he did not want to run that day. He was a complete turd, leaping up and waving his big stupid paws in my face, circling around me, the whole bit. I held out for about three minutes, and then let him turn around. But I was feeling spiteful, so I made him walk the whole way back to the house instead of letting him sprint back like he wanted.

I deposited him in the back room and then did the run on my own. It was an excellent pace run. I finished the 7.2-mile loop in 54:45, a 7:36/mile average pace, which is a bit faster than I’m aiming for in the marathon.

That evening, we went to Clark’s grandmother’s house. She usually has everyone over Christmas Eve, but she decided to do it the day before this year for whatever reason. We exchanged gifts first. I got a pair of dress pants and a pair of brown leather flats (Dr. Scholl’s, baby!), the next ornament in the Hallmark line his grandmother buys me for every year, and a couple of other odds and ends.

Then we had steamed shrimp (pre-peeled and de-veined, because Samira, who didn’t grow up around here, was a little squicked out by the veins — OK, it’s poop — in the shrimp we had last year, haha) and chicken salad sandwiches for dinner, with applesauce cake and brownies for dessert.

While all this was going on, the Steelers lost to the Bengals and will not be in the playoffs, and the Ravens beat the Giants, and thus will be going to the playoffs. Just wanted to point that out.

Monday was Christmas Eve. All I had left to do was some baking. I wanted to get my workout — strength training and then hill repeats — done first, so I went upstairs and did my ab exercises, push-ups, invisible chair-sitting and weight lifting. While I was up there, I heard Clark leave in the Crown Vic, I assumed to get something from Lowe’s, as he was working on the garage again.

He wasn’t back yet when I was done with my strength training, and I didn’t want to leave Pepper to go run, so I started baking. I did my pumpkin muffins for brunch the next morning first. He still wasn’t back when those were done, so I started working on my cookies next.

The cookies were a new recipe Clark found online. They were made with peanut butter, brown sugar, whole wheat flour, oats, chocolate chips, eggs, baking soda and cinnamon. That was it, no butter, oil or white flour. It sounded simple enough.

I don’t know if the dough turned out to be such a pain in the ass to work with because I’d used natural peanut butter or what, but it wasn’t long before I was cussing a blue streak like the Winnebago Man on YouTube. It was so damn sticky! And for all I knew, I’d screwed up the recipe somehow and they were going to turn out terrible. I don’t understand how other people find baking to be such a fun and relaxing hobby. It stresses me out.

I finally got the first batch in the oven. They only had to bake for 10 minutes. They looked OK when they came out. By that time Clark was home again, and the sky was getting gray and looking like it might start raining at any second, so I abandoned my torture baking project and drove to the Sharptown bridge for some stress relief.

There was a lot of traffic out there Monday. I did a mile to warm up, then ran up and across the bridge and back twice, and then up it one more time, turning around at the top to come back down the same way, for a total of five hill repeats. Then I did one more mile on the road to cool down, a total of 4.8 miles.

It started sprinkling as I was driving home, and it was raining pretty steadily by the time I got there. Good timing.

With the workout done, I had to get back to baking. The second batch was as much of a pain in the ass as the first. The cherry on top was when I had both hands covered in sticky dough, cussing it out, and Clark chose that moment to knock on the back door, wanting me to bring him his phone charger so he could test all the receptacles he had just finished wiring in the garage. It took forever to clean off my hands enough so I could pick up the phone charger, open the door and hand it to him, longer than it probably would have taken him to just take off his shoes and get it himself. And then I had to go back and put my hands in the dough again.

After what felt like an eternity, I got 20 stupid little balls of peanut butter dough formed and put them in the oven. By that time, the first batch had cooled enough I could test one. Thank God, they were really good. Nice and chewy, just like I like ’em. My mood improved after I found out I hadn’t wasted my time after all, haha.

That evening, we dropped off Pepper at my in-laws’ house, and Clark and I went to church and then my Aunt Helen’s annual Christmas Eve party.

After the church service, Clark changed into a turtleneck and houndstooth blazer he’d borrowed from his dad. My dad and uncle have worn turtlenecks and blazers on Christmas Eve every year I can remember, so Clark and my brother conspired to dress like them this year.

Unfortunately, my mom wasn’t feeling well Christmas Eve, so she and my dad didn’t go to church. Dad came out to Aunt Helen’s house for a bit, but he just wore a regular shirt instead of his Christmas Eve church outfit.

Uncle John had on his usual garb though, and Dave and Clark both wore their turtlenecks and blazers, so we at least had three manly men at Aunt Helen’s house:

It was just a happy coincidence they were all wearing the same colors -- that was not planned.

It was just a happy coincidence they were all wearing the same colors — that was not planned.

Corey had given Clark a Chuck Norris calendar, so the manly men took some pictures with that:

manly men and chuck norris

manly men admiring chuck norris

It was after midnight when we got home. We went straight to bed.

Christmas morning came quick! I would have loved to have slept in a little longer, but we had to be at Clark’s parents’ house by 8:30 a.m. and we had stuff to do at our house before that, so we dragged ourselves out of bed by 7 a.m.

Pepper wasn’t too enthused by the new leash and harness waiting for him under the tree, but he was pretty excited about all the new toys, all of which squeaked, of course. He didn’t know which one to play with first.

Clark opened his gifts next. I got him a set of stainless steel bolts to replace the stock ones on his motorcycle, and a couple pairs of thick cold weather Carhartt socks. Those should keep his feet nice and toasty at home.

Then I got to tear through my pile. Clark got me several pairs of Experia running socks, enough Jelly Belly Sport Beans to get me through my long runs for the next month, some Ghiradelli chocolates, a North Face backpack and the one thing I really wanted, a new iPod nano, along with a pair of Bose sport headphones.

We ate some breakfast while I loaded the entire music library on Clark’s computer onto the iPod. Then we headed over to his parents’ house.

We opened gifts first. My in-laws gave me an ornament, a new Ravens sweatshirt and a bunch of Under Armour gear — my favorite cold weather mock neck top in another color, a pair of black capri tights, a pair of sweatpants to replace the ones they bought me two years ago that Pepper has since ripped, two short-sleeved tech shirts, a beanie with a ponytail opening and a pack of headbands. They also gave me the New Balance trail shoes I wanted. I can’t wait to try them out this weekend!

Brunch was next. Chad and Samira again made the eggs Hemingway (and eggs Benedict this time) they had made for Christmas brunch last year, and with that we had three kinds of quiche, a homemade strawberry danish, pumpkin muffins, sausage, fresh fruit and mimosas. This brunch is one of my favorite meals all year.

Clark, Pepper and me lounging on the couch after brunch.

Clark, Pepper and me lounging on the couch after brunch.

snoopy and pepper

Pepper watching Snoopy, in his Santa outfit, while he ate a chew. Pepper had already finished his.

We stayed at Clark’s parents’ house until about 2:30 p.m., and then went to my parents’ house. We got to see my grandparents before they left, and then it was quiet there, until Kara and Huey and their boys arrived a couple of hours later.

We did our Secret Santa gift exchange. Kara appreciated the gift certificate I got her for the salon where she gets massages, and Clark got from my mom some gift certificates for the Evo Public House craft brewery in Salisbury. Clark was my Secret Santa, and he got me Breaking Benjamin’s greatest hits album (the second disc is all acoustic versions or previously unreleased songs) and a fleece Under Armour beanie.

The last stop of the day was Aunt Debbie’s house for Christmas dinner. After dinner, we opened more gifts. Julie and Kara’s kids are the only ones young enough to still get gifts from all the aunts and uncles, so they opened all of theirs first. Jamie was his usual charming self:

He'd just opened another box of clothes.

He’d just opened another box of clothes.

Then Aunt Helen distributed gifts to all the adults. She’d printed pictures from the beach this summer and gotten one framed for everyone. Mine was a very nice shot from the Scopes encounter in August, of my sisters and me jumping along the shoreline. Aunt Helen also included prints of the rest of the Scopes shots.

The last gift of the night was a toned-down version of Aunt Helen’s infamous clue games. We found our gifts, $50 American Express gift cards, in a closet in the living room. Aunt Helen had also included for Clark and me a magnet that says “Life’s better with a weimaraner.” Aunt Debbie asked if I was going to put that on my car. I said I figured it would look better on the fridge, haha.

The "old kids" at Christmas. Kara and Huey, Corey, Becky, Julie, Dave and Kasey and me and Clark. Judging by Huey and Clark's expressions, marrying into this family isn't that great, haha.

The “old kids” at Christmas. Kara and Huey, Corey, Becky, Julie, Dave and Kasey and me and Clark. Judging by Huey and Clark’s expressions, marrying into this family isn’t that great, haha.

We picked up Pepper again from Clark’s parents’ house on the way home. At home, we unloaded the car trunk and then went straight to bed again.

This morning was pretty depressing. As if having to get up to go to work the day after Christmas doesn’t suck enough, it was just above freezing and sleeting during my run. Rain mixed with tiny flecks of ice pelted me in the face the whole way around my 4.5-mile loop. I did feel a lot better after I’d run though. I ate some breakfast, fired up my iPod and went upstairs to do my strength training.

December 21, 2012

Training for 12/21/12

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 4:56 pm

Did you know the world was supposed to end today according to some ancient calendar, and so far it hasn’t? Hey, everyone on Facebook, we get it.

That means my 10th grade world history teacher was wrong. In 1998, he was the first one I remember mentioning the Mayan calendar ending Dec. 21, 2012.  He said, “So don’t worry about buying Christmas gifts that year.” Good thing I wasn’t banking on the world ending or I’d have a lot of shopping to do this weekend, no thanks to you, Mr. Smith.

It kinda sounded like it was ending around 2 a.m. though. We got a very strong storm overnight, and the wind was blasting sheets of rain directly against our bedroom windows all night.

Fortunately, the rain had moved on, for the most part, by the time we woke up. There were still some showers in the area, and it was still very windy, so I took Pepper to the trail for today’s easy 3-miler instead of running against the wind on the road.

It was a chilly, gray, wet, windy day, so we had the trail all to ourselves. It wasn’t too bad on the trail, surrounded by the trees, and once we got warmed up it was pretty nice. Pepper found a little stick to run with (actually I found it, under the enormous branch he wanted first) and he trotted through the whole loop, even when it started to rain on us again.

At home, I gave Pepper a treat for not going berserk when it started raining, and then I did today’s push-ups workout and some stretching.

This is my last post until next week. I took off Christmas Eve, so I have a nice four-day weekend coming up.

This weekend is a cutback on the marathon training schedule. My long run is only 10 miles, and I have a 7-mile pace run. I’ll see what it’s like out there tomorrow. It’s supposed to still be windy, so I might just do the shorter run, because I hate running in wind. If it’s not too bad, I’ll do the long run tomorrow and save the shorter run for Sunday.

Monday, I’ve got hill repeats and strength training planned. Tuesday is Christmas Day, and the one day of the year I don’t even try to get in a run. We’re always out late Christmas Eve and up early Christmas Day to be at Clark’s parents’ house and then my family’s house later, so there’s just no time.

Last night, I believe I finished all of my Christmas shopping, including all the stuff I need for baking and wrapping gifts this weekend. I shouldn’t have to step foot in Walmart again, I hope. That place was insane enough last night; I don’t want to see what it’s like this weekend.

All I have to get done is wrapping gifts. Sunday evening, we’re celebrating Christmas at Clark’s grandmother’s house. I don’t think she knows it’s Festivus, the holiday for the rest of us, but I’ll be secretly observing that one too, haha.

Monday, I’ll bake the pumpkin muffins I’m taking to Clark’s parents’ house for Christmas brunch, and some oatmeal-peanut butter-chocolate chip cookies for various family gatherings.

We always go to my church for its Christmas Eve service and then to my aunt’s house for fried shrimp, crab dip and usually a little too much liquor.

Then of course Tuesday is Christmas. I hope Santa brings everyone what they wished for this year!

batman jingle bells

Saw this on Facebook this morning among all the “world is still here” posts, and just had to share.

Merry Christmas!

December 20, 2012

Training for 12/20/12

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 4:18 pm

This morning, I got to try out my new Zeroes on a tempo run.

It was a perfect morning for a speed workout — cold, clear and calm. Just on my easy warm up mile, I could tell this was going to be a good run.

I was supposed to do 35 minutes at a comfortably hard tempo pace. After my warm up mile, I hit the start button on my watch and sped up.

The first mile felt smooth and easy. The watch showed 7:19 at the first mile point, and then 14:38 as I passed the second mile point by the ferry, which was just firing up for the day when I passed it.

I sped up in the third mile, hitting that point in 21:50. I passed my four-mile point in 28:48 — a sub-7 on a training run! I ran almost another mile before the watch hit 35 minutes, bringing my total distance for the time to 4.9 miles. That’s an average pace of 7:08/mile.

The new Zeroes felt like when I finally replaced the nearly bald tires on my car this summer. They are so smooth! I really didn’t expect to be able to feel that much of a difference, but I am very happy with this second pair.

When the 35 minutes were up, I eased up on the pace and ran a little more than a mile to get back home, finishing off my 7.2-mile loop. I did some stretching after breakfast.

December 19, 2012

Training for 12/19/12

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 4:37 pm

They’re here!

Last night, I got home from work to find one of Santa’s little helpers (OK, a Fed Ex truck driver) had left an early Christmas gift on my back steps, my second pair of New Balance Minimus Zero road shoes!

I’m still not a fan of black shoes, but when I tried them on, it didn’t matter. I was wondering if I’d really be able to tell a difference between the new pair and my worn out pair, but the new ones definitely felt better, like they were hugging my feet again.

I also finally got in the mail yesterday my copy of Runner’s World, that should have arrived at the end of November or very beginning of this month at the latest. I was wondering what happened to it. It looked like it’d been stuck in a crevice in the mail carrier’s truck for the last three weeks. It’s all ripped up. Oh well.

This morning I only had an easy 3-miler on the schedule, so I wore my 890s again. It was quite a bit colder this morning than it had been yesterday, but at least all the wind we’d had yesterday had died overnight. It was an easy, routine run.

After breakfast, Pepper and I went upstairs, where I turned on one of Pandora’s Christmas stations on my phone while I did my ab exercises, push-ups, invisible chair-sitting, weights and stretching.

I can’t wait for my tempo run tomorrow morning, to try out the new Zeroes.

December 18, 2012

Training for 12/18/12

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 3:39 pm

This morning, I had a speed workout on the schedule, five 800-meter repeats.

For the third consecutive time now, I skipped driving to the track to do them, and instead just ran timed intervals on the road, since I don’t wear a GPS watch to measure out 800 meters at a time for me.

It was just starting to get light out when I hit the road. It was a pretty mild morning for December, a little on the foggy side, but nothing to complain about.

I planned on my 5.5-mile loop. I ran the first mile easy, and then started my first interval. I was aiming for 7:00/mile pace, so, since 800 meters is about a half-mile, I just ran hard for 3:30.

If I had been at the track, I’d have done one lap, or 400 meters, of recovery between each repeat, so today I ran easy for 2:15, which would be about 9:00/mile pace, between each.

It went pretty well overall. I did all five repeats with recoveries, and then had a little less than a mile left to run home at an easy pace.

I finished 5.5 miles in a total of 42:20, a 7:42/mile overall average pace.

I had to run today’s speed workout in my 890s for the first time. It felt weird trying to run fast in such “clunky” shoes, compared to what I normally wear for speed workouts. I wore them all weekend too, since the worn out Zeroes bothered my calf so bad last Thursday.

The new Zeroes should be here today. I’ll probably again wear the 890s for my easy run tomorrow, but then the Zeroes will make their debut for my tempo run Thursday. I’m very excited about them!

December 17, 2012

Training for 12/17/12

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 4:36 pm

My calf more than cooperated this weekend, and I got in two really quite awesome runs.

Saturday morning, I got up very early and went straight to the cross country trail, to do a short test run to see if my calf would be up for it before I drove all the way to Easton to meet Kara for a run. It was foggy and cold, and the trail was completely deserted, but I had a good 3-mile run and decided yes, I would be able to run with Kara. I ate some breakfast and met Kara at her house.

She had invited Matt, a local guy who runs with her in a group she just started joining for her long runs on the weekends. I know Matt from all the Seashore Striders races around here. He’s really fast — 1:16 half marathons, 17-minute 5Ks and he’s about to start training for his first full Ironman next year — but every now and then he’ll run a pace closer to us mere mortals, haha.

We met Matt at a park and took off down Easton’s Rails to Trail, an old railroad line that was removed and paved over for a walking and biking path. I’ve seen it cutting through town, but I’d never been on it.

Matt talked our ears off the whole way, and we ran the entire length of the trail and back, about 4.5 miles. It’s a lovely trail, and it was nice to run a new route for once.

We did some stretching, and then Kara and I got lunch at Panera Bread. We stopped at Lowe’s so I could pick up a hole saw for Clark, who was working on wiring the garage.

When I got home, naturally the hole saw I’d bought was the wrong size. Gah! The Lowe’s in Seaford didn’t have any in stock, so I drove all the way to Millsboro to exchange it for the right one.

With the correctly-sized hole saw, Clark and his dad got the electrical wire through the foundation and up to the breaker box, and ta da, we have electricity in the garage! Which is awesome.

When Clark was done in the garage for the night, he helped me get the live Christmas tree into the front room. We got the lights on that night before Mike came over to hang out.

Mike, Clark and I went to Grotto’s for dinner. On the way home, we drove through a DUI checkpoint. No one got arrested for drunk driving, but Clark did get a $70 fine because Mike, an adult, wasn’t wearing a seatbelt in the back seat. Really, Delaware? We can ride motorcycles with no helmet, but the driver of a car has to make sure all the adults in the car are buckled up for safety. This makes no sense.

Sunday morning, I had a 14-mile long run on the schedule. My calf wasn’t bothering me or anything, but I was already bargaining with myself before I even left the house — you can cut it short if you want, just get in something. 

For the first time, I tried taking an Immodium — well, an off-brand one anyway — about a half-hour before I left the house, to see if it would help with my digestive issues.

I finally left the house, with my water bottle and an espresso-flavored GU I’d won from the Rehoboth half marathon. Once again, it was foggy and overcast, but warm enough I was comfortable in shorts and a long-sleeved shirt.

The first mile sucked, as usual, but it was faster than I’d expected — 7:47 by my watch. I made a conscious effort to slow down. I’d just been telling Kara the day before why it was important to do long runs slower than your goal race pace, and here I was running faster.

By the end of the second mile, I was rolling right along, around 8:00 miles. Still too fast for a long run when my goal pace in my next marathon is 8:00/mile, but oh well. I went with it.

I ate the GU at the halfway point of the run. It actually wasn’t too bad! And I’d made it that far without so much as a rumble in my gut, and no other stomach discomfort either. Had I finally found the magic bullet?

By 10 miles I was smiling. I was actually going to get in all 14.5 miles, and with no stops in the woods! Running sure is fun when you don’t feel like you might crap yourself!

Two miles later though, I was suddenly hit by the need to stop in the woods. Damn. It was just the one time though, and I felt fine for the rest of the run. I’m definitely giving the Immodium another try.

Anyway, I finished off the entire 14.5-mile loop in 1:56:40, the fastest I have ever run that loop. My average pace was 8:03/mile.

I really needed that long run. It was nice mental boost to get through all of my planned miles, and to do it feeling so strong. Last week had been kind of a downer, between taking off time after the half marathon and then dealing with the calf tightness, so yesterday’s run came at the perfect time.

After the run, I scarfed down a couple slices of the leftover pizza from dinner the night before, and then got to work. I put all the ornaments on the live tree, including the most un-Christmasy Star Wars ornaments ever. I cleaned the entire house, put the flannel snowflake sheets on our bed and folded three weeks’ worth of laundry.

Getting the live tree up and decorated really helped my mood too. The last two weeks at work have been beyond busy, and I just never had the time to do it. It might have been cutting it close this year, but I finally got that tree up:

tree 2012

Clark went in town and got electric candles and a spotlight for the garage, so it matches the house. When he got that all hooked up, the outside of our property looked really nice too.

He also got me a couple boxes of Christmas cards. I usually have those done and mailed the first weekend of December, but again, work kicked my butt the last two weeks. I only got one done last night, but the rest will be done very soon.

This morning, I ran three miles easy on the road with Pepper, and then we went upstairs so I could do my push-ups, ab exercises, invisible chair-sitting, weights and stretching. Shamrock Marathon training is officially under way!

December 14, 2012

Training for 12/14/12

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 6:38 pm

I didn’t do anything this morning except some stretching, foam rolling and icing of my stupid left calf muscle. The same one that was bothering me the week after the 50K felt really tight yesterday after my run, so I skipped today’s planned short trail run and just let it have the day off instead. I hope it goes away as quickly as it did the last time.

I took this as a clear sign that yes, the Zeroes, which I ran in yesterday, really are worn out, and I have a new pair on the way. It’s costing me less than $10 though. First, I found them on clearance at runningwarehouse.com. The only choices were black or white, neither of which I was crazy about, but you take what you can get. Then I was able to use a discount code for having “liked” Running Warehouse on Facebook and got another 15 percent off. And finally, I used a $50 Visa gift card I recently received for buying the tires I did in August.

All of that brought my personal cost for a $110 pair of shoes down to $9.40. And I paid for it with my Discover card, which is offering 5 percent cash back on online purchases right now. That’s less than another 10 cents, but it’s something.

I remember when my first Zeroes looked like this, the day after I got them for my birthday in April:

They don’t look like that anymore.

Anyway, these are the ones that are now on their way in the mail:

black zeroes

This weekend, I’d really like to get in the 14-mile long run I have on the schedule, but I’ll see how that goes, depending on my calf. It feels pretty good right now, so maybe.

I also need to finally get our Christmas tree from the garage, where it’s been sitting for almost two weeks, to the house.

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