Friday, September 10, 2010

Crimes Against Running

As a citizen of this Land of the Free, I feel it is my right... no, it is my DUTY... to report a horrible injustice. You see, my husband and I are running the Chicago Half-Marathon this weekend. Our FAST coaches have instructed my husband to taper for this race by reducing his training mileage and intensity this week. Upon asking the FAST coaches if I should be tapering as well, since I'm running the same race, they instructed me to run a bunch of crazy-hard stuff that left me gasping for air and begging for mercy.



How is this fair???

Well, I'll tell you how it's fair... It's NOT fair, is what it is! And We The People of FAST should take a stand against running crimes and demand equal treatment of runners. Unless, of course, all the runners are being asked to run crazy-hard stuff. In which case, I am absolutely okay with being treated differently.

Okay, so really the bottom line is that I want to be lazy when I feel like being lazy. And "tapering for a race" is as good an excuse as any to be lazy. But our coaches know better. They know this weekend's half-marathon is nothing more than a moderately-paced recovery-distance training run for me, whereas my husband has ambitious goals for this race. Therefore, he gets to taper, and I, sadly, do not. Damn those coaches for being so smart!!!

So what have they been making me do this week? Well, first they made me run up the Hill of Death three times... In the middle of slightly-longer-than-one-mile repeats. And if that doesn't sound wonderful enough, did I mention my legs were still pretty tired from the 21 miles I had just run two days earlier? So it felt like I was like running with cement blocks tied to my feet. I guess that was the coaches' not-so-subtle way of telling me that I was not going to be tapering this week.


I don't even know how to properly describe that workout, other than "tough". The repeats were an unusual distance (longer than a mile, but less than a mile and a quarter) with an unusual recovery distance (more than half a mile, less than three quarters of a mile), because that's just how the route went. The goal was to be able to run the last repeat as fast as the first one. And by golly, I did. In fact, I got faster each repeat. So take THAT, coaches! That'll teach you to infringe upon my right to taper!

Then last night, while my tapering hubby did whatever ridiculously easy thing the coaches told him to do (man the water jugs, I think), I was forced to do 5 x 1000m repeats through the cemetery. Hmph. I was so flustered by the iniquity of it all, that I accidentally hit the Stop button on my Garmin before the first 1000m repeat, thus not registering any data for that repeat. There is simply no worse feeling for a geeky runner than realizing that data has been missed.

I'll be honest. I was tempted to run an extra repeat just to collect the data. But then I would've still been upset about having run 6 repeats, yet only having 5 repeats worth of data. Trust me when I tell you that this is pretty much par for the course for how an engineer's mind works. For those of you who are not engineers (that's most of you), count your blessings. Those of you who are engineers... well, you understand what it's like. And you have my deepest sympathy. So while the data says I ran 4.4 miles, I actually ran 5.1-ish.

Oh, and I almost forgot... After all the repeats, fellow FASTie Julie (who happens to be Coach Maggie's sister) made me... yes, made me... run up a very steep grassy hill. You know, because "it'll be fun!"

Here's some unsolicited advice: if another runner ever says to you "Hey let's do *insert crazy activity here* - It'll be fun!", run quickly in the opposite direction and don't look back. You'll avoid the crazy activity, and as an added bonus, you'll get in a little extra speedwork.

I wish I had followed this advice. Julie peer-pressured me into running up that hill and it was terrifying. There were tree roots, acorns, clumps of grass, holes in the ground, rocks, and sticks everywhere. It was a veritable minefield of potential ankle-breakers. Fortunately, nobody got a broken ankle... but still, I should not have run up the hill. It's risky business so close to the marathon (which, by the way, is exactly one month from today - eek!). But more importantly, despite what the coaches think, I am tapering for the half-marathon this weekend and tapering runners don't run up steep hills. You hear that, coaches? Tapering!

*sticks tongue out at coaches and runs away at an easy pace*

Peace. Love. Train.


  1. Will you take a photo of the Hill of Death? I always think of your HOD when I face a new one. I'd like to have a more accurate mental image. :) Thanks!
    I didn't taper for my half the way I usually do; I shortened the runs to 3-4 miles and upped the speed 30-60 seconds per mile. Woah.
    Very good idea about other runners ideas of fun. Yeeks. P/L/T!!! :D

  2. Amy, I would love to take a picture of it, but it curves around and is in the woods, so there's no way to get the whole thing in one picture. And I am fairly certain that the hills you run are worse than the Hill of Death. I mean, let's face it, this is central Illinois we're talking about. ;-) However, if you want some numbers... it's about 1/4 mile long, with an elevation gain of about 120 feet. And it gets steeper the further up you go. So it starts out pretty nice, but then it gets more and more vertical.