Day 4: Amarillo to Scottsdale

700 miles.

1 Sonic Stop in Winslow, Arizona. Yes, the Eagles song is still stuck in my head.

No calls to dad.

Texas –> New Mexico –> Arizona

We did this day right; we planned stops and took our time, which was aided by gaining two hours through time changes. It was a day of transitions in fact; we went from the plains of Texas to the mesas and buttes of New Mexico and Arizona and from 2000 feet in Amarillo to 7000 feet in Flagstaff. We got lunch at a local brewery in Albuquerque and went to Petrified Forest National Park. Our descent from Flagstaff to Scottsdale was downright terrifying but we survived. This morning, we’re a little confused by the time and altitude changes (headache anyone?) but excited to pull into San Diego this afternoon.

I’ll run this afternoon since Scottsdale is already under an “excessive heat advisory,” with temperatures climbing towards 115.

Pictures don’t do yesterday’s journey justice but they are incredible nonetheless.

Painted Desert in Petrified Forest National Park

Painted Desert in Petrified Forest National Park

Elevation training? Even jumping jacks were hard up here!

Elevation training? Even jumping jacks were hard up here!

The Teepees, from mineral deposition over centuries

The Teepees, from mineral deposition over centuries

Oh beautiful for spacious skies indeed.

Oh beautiful for spacious skies indeed.

Day 3: Memphis to Amarillo

750 miles
Tennessee to Arkansas to Oklahoma to Texas.
2 Sonic stops.
First phone call to Dad.

Long haul yesterday all on I-40! We had another beautiful travel day and minimal mishaps. It was officially Dillo Day; we saw 29 dead dillos on the side of 40. We’re also down to 4 states left on the license plate game. We also saw some (captive) buffalo and the hometown of Carrie Underwood.

I had high hopes for my recovery run in Amarillo as the Rock Creek bike path ran right behind our hotel. I failed to think about how far west we were, however, and woke to a completely dark city at 5:30. I have a rest day this week so I lifted instead. I knew I’d need some mental flexibility on this trip and am just grateful to have gotten any activity in.



Then there was that first call to Dad. Suzanne and I are lucky to have a Dad who has done everything for us our entire lives but it leaves us utterly unprepared for anything car related. This morning, Suzanne learned that the dipstick hole isn’t the same place that motor oil goes, which induced a call to Dad. He was impressed any oil went IN the dipstick hole then told us to just drive. We only smoked for a few minutes…

On our way out of Amarillo, we stopped at Cadillac Ranch. If you ever find yourself on 40, it’s highly recommended. The story goes that a local man bought a new Cadillac that turned out to be a lemon. When the dealership wouldn’t take it back, he buried it along the highway in protest. There are now 10 buried Cadillacs and people bring spray paint to decorate the cars. True living art!





Onward to Scottsdale!

Day 2: Harrisonburg to Memphis

800 miles
2 states

Yesterday was a much better day of travel. We got on the road for good by 8:15 and didn’t have any traffic or weather snafus. In fact, we saw very little of anything besides mountains and 18 wheelers. We popped off I81 in Blacksburg to see Virginia Tech; I have a dear friend who went there and Suzanne had never seen it. We spent the rest of the day on 81 and 40 with a quick stop in Nashville for Martin’s BBQ. By the time we arrived in Memphis, we didn’t even care that our hotel was filthy.

The bonus of changing to Central Time was that 5 am wasn’t too bad. I was nervous that it wouldn’t be safe enough to run but was happy to find that it was much nicer by daylight. I ran down to the Shelby Farms Greenline which is absolutely beautiful. Flat, cool and empty enough to do a workout on without being creepy. I did 5 by mile at tempo pace and although my back was killing me, the workout was a success. I’m starting to think Vermont isn’t that cool of a place to be in the summer; both of my morning runs have been lovely in the South with manageable heat and humidity.

Today we’re rolling through Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas with a final destination of Amarillo. Driving over the Mississippi today was a great way to kick off the morning so we have high hopes for Day 3.





Day 1: Burlington to Harrisonburg

Our first day was a lot like the first few miles of a rough run. You aren’t sure you’re going to make it and you question all of your choices. At some point, however, the remaining distance seems doable and you grind through.

We hit impressive weather yesterday including a lightening show that rivaled the 4th of July along with horrific construction traffic. All told, our “easy 10 hour travel” took us almost 13 hours. We arrived in Harrisonburg around 9:45, pulled out running clothes and went to bed.

This morning I got up bright and early to get an easy hour of running in around James Madison University. It was totally quiet on campus and they have TWO tracks. Unfortunately neither opened til 7:45. I was a little nervous as a Tarheel running through anything labeled Duke, but figured a dog was better than a Blue Devil.

The other highlight of the day included a text from Will that he’d locked himself out. Thank goodness for friends with big cars…

Today we’re headed for Memphis. Here’s to 12 hours on 81 and 40!






Week in Review 7.21 to 7.27

We started our road trip today! As such, all of these posts will be on my phone for the week so please excuse any funky formatting.

It was a solid week of training and a nice confidence boost to start off Phase 3. I’m looking forward to my adaptation week and to doing runs all across the country this week. I’m also looking forward to hotel gyms; for some reason, I love lifting in hotels.

Monday: 15.5 mile tempo run. 2 by 20 minutes at T pace. Since it was 86, I did this with a HR monitor on and kept my heart at 170. First 20 was 6:53 pace, second 20 was 6:43. Given the heat, I’m happy with this.

Tuesday: 8 mile recovery run.

Wednesday am: 9 miles easy.

Wednesday pm: 5.5 miles easy.

Thursday: 18 mile long run. No workout, just long run for time. Pretty tired by the end of this.

Friday: 7.5 mile recovery run.

Saturday: 16 by 400 with 1:1 recovery. Total of 10.5 miles. So nice to have Will pacing me! Quads over this week by the last rep.

Sunday am: 5 miles at the crack of dawn.

Sunday pm: 3 miles on the hotel treadmill in Virginia.

Total Miles: 82 and change.

Looks like marathon training…


Cougar Chase 2014 Results

In case you were somehow under the impression that I always look glamorous, I present my outfit from this morning.

In case you were somehow under the impression that I always look glamorous, I present my outfit from this morning.

Normally I wouldn’t post this here, but according to blog traffic lots of people have been searching for results. Results will also be posted on the MMU XC page and on Cool Running. Right now, you can find results here. I’m also posting the overall results below. Sorry for the shoddy pictures but the timing software produces PDFs and WordPress doesn’t support the format. Congratulations to all the winners and huge thanks to the MMU community for a great showing today.

1 to 20 22 to 43 46 to 55 59 to 75


What’s the Point?

No, I’m not having a runner tantrum or questioning the meaning of life. Training is going really well and I’m looking forward to a solid Phase III. Asking “what’s the point” however, is one of the most critical questions an athlete can ask of a coach and of themselves.

Every run should have a purpose. As such, every run has an appropriate length and pace and (spoiler alert) as hard as you can doesn’t count. I just came out of Phase II, where I was focused on getting my long run to 2:30 and on building the strength to do some big workouts in Phase III. This strength came from a steady diet of intervals with 90% rest, tempo runs and most importantly, recovery runs. Early on in Phase II, I almost derailed myself because I started to push the pace on my easy runs. I should know better but my foot called me out on the behavior and I’m back to running my easy runs somewhere between 8:30 and 9:00 pace. Yup. I race over two minutes per mile faster than I do most of my mileage.

One of the biggest challenges as a coach is convincing athletes to slow down on their recovery runs. People want to push, want to rush the acquisition of fitness or recovery from an injury. They get about two weeks out of this approach, three if they’re lucky. Think I’m being dramatic? Just read a few running blogs and look for the trend. People celebrate the return from an injury or pick a goal race, pop up their mileage way beyond the 10% rule, start hammering workouts and low and behold, just don’t know what happened when they are totally out again three weeks later.

Last year, I decided to start telling my girls about the point of each workout and run and found that in so doing, I was able to alleviate anxiety. I think we have a natural tendency to assume that a particular run or workout “determines” our future success. In reality, a goal race depends on workout stacked on workout stacked on workout and showing up every day and asking ourselves what we’re aiming to accomplish that day and then executing that. One run does not a training cycle make.

How do you make sure that all of your runs have purpose? How do you structure training cycles? What are your tricks for not pushing it too far, too soon?