Friday, April 18, 2014

I am ready.

I have trained in 9 different states over the last 2.5 months.

...including long runs of 18 or more in 3 totally different climates.

1st - 19 miles - Clearwater, FL - Temperature: 75 degrees with 75% humidity.
2nd - 19 miles - Chicago, IL - Temperature: 24 degrees with 16mph headwinds for half of run and 10 degree wind chills
3rd - 21 miles - New York, NY - Temperature: 45 degrees with damp conditions.

I have trained religiously outdoors in arguably one of the coldest winters in NYC history.  Not to mention in snow, wind, rain, ice and sub-zero wind chills.  To say I am ready for anything Mother Nature throws at me would be an understatement.

I have won a 5K XC race in humid South County Park on Everglades Rd. in Boca Raton, Florida beating a local XC high school girl.

I completed 12 sessions at the Armory indoor track on Tuesday nights this winter...and once I got the hang of it, I kicked ass on most of my workouts.

I ran a sub-6 mile in my first ever indoor track meet.

I had the most unbelievable 21-miler three weeks ago.  I surpassed my goal marathon pace by 12 seconds a mile - and felt strong doing it.

I have been up at 4:00am in order to get my training in several times this winter.

I have made just about every CPTC workout on Tuesday and Thursday evenings if I was in the state of NY.  Often times this was orchestrated by finishing up games or practices, smashing a banana and peanut butter down for nourishment, changing while simultaneously navigating through NYC traffic, frantically finding parking and sprinting to get my warm up in before the workout began.  Have you ever tried changing your sports bra in a car while driving?  Harder than the workout sometimes.

I have stayed away from alcohol this entire training cycle.

I have had the most amazing last month of training.  Perhaps the best of my life in terms of execution.  I have earned the confidence and respect of my coach.  Most importantly I have earned the confidence in myself.  I have put the work in, I have executed.  I have been relentlessly diligent in my training (both rest, diet and running).  I have learned more about running over the last few months than I probably know about most subjects in life.

I have managed to carry out a crazy softball schedule 7 days a week, managing a program, staff and team, and stress often times on my feet for 8 hours a day throughout this entire training cycle.

I have weathered a hammy pull in February and some other minor aches and pains that come along with grueling training and, knock on wood, I should be toeing the line in Hopkinton, MA as healthy as one can be at the conclusion of a training cycle on Monday, April 21.  I am lucky for that.  Like Tony said to me at the end of my amazing race plan - "When you cross the finish, you’ll be one of many runners who will have made your point to those who want to take our freedom. As Big Papi said last year -- this is our fucken city! CPTC-NB and Boston Strong!"  And Coach TR is a HUGE Yankee fan so for him to quote Big Papi....well, that's cool.

I am #BostonStrong.

I am ready.

Sunday, March 30, 2014


Will the story of Boston Marathon 4.21.14 be titled "Lesson Learned?" or will it be "Lesson Learned!"  Both could tell to be very different versions.

I had probably the most amazing long run of any marathon cycle today.  It has been a long time coming, but lately I have been feeling really confident and really fit.  I've been executing workouts despite sore and tired legs and despite a grueling travel schedule.

Last weekend I ran in Chicago along Lakeshore Drive which was really was the 6th state I have trained in for Boston and the 3rd state I have executed a long run in.  The long run in Chi-town was really bad.  16mph winds and 10 degree wind chills along the water was not conducive to anything but a shitty 19-mile run.  I had a great bounce back long run this weekend on my own turf though.  The friendly confines of Central Park :) 
After Butler could not get out this weekend, my plans for the next 5 days changed dramatically.  This winter has been so brutal on so many levels.  I am usually not one of those people who post about how cold or how hot it is.  I kind of go with whatever mother nature throws at me.  This winter, however, is something that I think I will complain about forever.  It's been horrible for softball season - we haven't really had great weather to play in all year.  Who can really play softball in 37 degree weather with winds whipping everywhere?  I mean seriously.  We even had a day that was 59 degrees, overcast and windy in Florida.  Really?!

Marathon training has also been a beast.  To my credit, I have braved it all.  I have only run on the treadmill once this winter.  I think it was during a blizzard.  Other than that, I have been on the track or outside.  But anyway, Butler's flight getting canceled was actually a blessing because they were able to reschedule for this week when our weather is going to be 60 degrees and sunny!  If they came this weekend we would have been lucky to get a game in.  It rained most of the weekend.  So it all worked out pretty well.

Not only did this change affect my softball schedule, but it also opened up my training schedule a bit too.  Instead of doing my long run on Monday, I was able to get it in today (Sunday).  And it was a beauty.  I was shocked.  Tony was like "Oh, whatever.  Good job but it's no surprise to me.  You just need to learn how to execute and these are the things you are capable of."  Haha.  I was dancing all over the apartment and TR was like "yeah, whatever...ok moving on."  I'm kidding.  He was a little more excited than that but it was cool that he has that much faith in me.

Tony stressed that this was totally a key long run for the cycle.  It was important that I do things exactly as I would on race day.  I would have 7 miles worth of race pace mixed into a 21 mile run at different points, including the very end of my run.  It actually wasn't very daunting when you broke it down because the times I wasn't running at marathon pace, I was going pretty easy so it was all about keeping my mind occupied while I ran easily.  Tony has been prepping me for a 7:20 marathon pace, which with all I have going on this training cycle I have thought is rather ambitious.  That would put me at a 3:12 which I can definitely do but just not so sure I'm ready for that now.  That would be an 8 minute PR.  After today, I'm thinking that if I have a good day and the stars are aligned I could do that.  So today he instructs me to start at race time (which for me will be 10:20am as I am in Wave 2).  So in typical AK fashion, that watch started at 10:20am exactly.  I got up around 8am (well after getting up at 6am first and eating some power gel energy blasts because I was hungry...who wakes up hungry?  Me.  Always.), had my race day breakfast which I experimented with a little today (instead of the usual whole wheat bagel I went out to the bagel store and got a plain bagel with peanut butter so my stomach would digest it a little easier...I researched white vs. wheat and why the body breaks it down easiest - in a nutshell it's essentially stripped of all the nutrients and is broken down into sugar easier...whole wheat contains fiber which can cause bloating and worse which is not what I need...then I ate a banana with peanut butter, had some water and of course my diet ginger ale).  I wore the New Balance 1400's.  TR suggested I experiment with 890's and 1400's.  890's have more cushion and the 1400's are nice and light - 5.3 ounces to be exact.  I had it in my mind that I was going to run in my 890's for Boston but after today I changed my mind.  1400's it is!

So my first 10 miles today I was to be on soft terrain - despite all the rain, bridle was in pretty good shape.  Some puddles here and there but nothing too crazy.  I figured it would give me plenty of time to see where the wind would affect me most and allowed me to formulate a plan for where I would begin and end my marathon pace portions of the run which were to be done on the roads.  Here's a nice picture of the bridle path for those of you who don't know what it is.

You can cover about 5.5-6 miles of bridle path in Central Park (CP) and create all kinds of loops.  Great for running - has been a leg and life saver for me since meeting TR and CPTC.  It is a gravel trail that loops around the park.
TR said to keep it around 8:20 on bridle and the easy portions of my run.  In the end I actually ran about 8:11 pace for the first 10 but I wasn't looking at my watch much.  I was just keeping it easy and running smooth.  Whenever I do this my paces are so much more consistent.  Looking at my watch constantly makes my runs really choppy.  It's weird.  Running on feel is the best.

Ok, next 5 miles were to be done at MP on the roads - which in TR's mind is 7:20.  Believe it or not that was stressing me out.  Well actually that's believable since everything stresses me out.  I had mapped out that I was going to run into the wind on the west side hills and have it push me along on the east side.  Thought that was the best course of action.  When I threw down a 7:04 on mile 11 and felt good, I thought two things - 1. Either I'm having a really good day or 2. Ok, when will I crash and burn?  I never crashed and burned so it was my day.  My 5 miles were at 7:04, 7:09, 7:26 (this was the windy west side hills...damnit), 7:09, 7:03.  Pretty freaking good for me.  And I still felt strong when I had to get back onto bridle for the next 3 and bring it down to 8:20 again.  I hit 8:20's on the nose.  Again, didn't look at my watch.  The last 2 miles (19 and 20) were to be done at race pace again (or 7:20's).  Mile 19 was 7:10 and then mile 20 was 7:09.  Basically I averaged 7:09 for my MP and I was pretty freaking excited.  I still had much more left in the tank and I never lost my head.  Often when I fatigue all logic and sense goes out the window.  I lose my mind, literally.  That never happened today!  TR told me to warm down for a mile at the end which turned out to be 1.58 miles because that's how far I was from home.  Today was not an ideal day to run either.  The winds were blowing pretty heavily - 17 mph to be exact.  Typically that is a recipe for disaster for me and workouts.  Today I performed DESPITE the conditions.  YES!!

So let's see - I have done a long run in 75 degrees and 79% humidity, one in 24 degrees/10 degree wind chills and 18 mph winds and now one in 47 degrees, raw, wet, and windy.  Not to mention all the other work I have done in snow, ice and single digit temps.  It would be fair to say that I am ready for anything.

Pretty excited to execute in Boston in 3 weeks!  Let's see if I can put it all together.  I will not go out to hard...I will not go out too hard....I WILL DO IT! I don't know what this is more about - do I really want to succeed or do I not want to live through the heartache of f'ing up a race again?  I think it's all one in the same.

Wearing my Boston shorts in this photo actually...hasn't been this warm in months here!  This is me after a long run in Prospect Park (Brooklyn).

Thursday, March 6, 2014


Reporting to you from central Florida tonight.  Just taking a little time out tonight to chill out, relax and prepare for our weekend of 6 games ahead.  We've been on the road 7 days now and while I love softball season and get excited for every game we play, 7 days on the road (which will eventually be 10 days) is not easy.  It takes us all away from routines, normal sleep patterns (not to mention our own beds), and does take its toll on the body.  Cold weather schools definitely have it tough as many of us have to open up our first 20+ games on the road.  We are in the airport every weekend (an experience that is on my top 5 all time worst things to do) flying to some warm climate when really there are not many warm climates anywhere and we end up freezing most places we go anyhow.  We've even had some chilly days in Florida from time to time, although this year we've been to Florida twice already and the weather has been warm enough so that we aren't quadruple layered up…well I am, but I'm nuts.  For some reason I am always, always, always cold.  Last weekend was a tough one for us up in Athens, GA in the results column.  We had some really positive things go down but it just didn't show up favorably in the results column.  Playing nationally ranked opponents, including host UGA twice and UAB, will do that to you.  Strength of schedule is pretty important to me although I will give some merit to my critics (you know who you are) that a balanced schedule can be as beneficial.  I have taken that into consideration for next season actually but of course we will still see the likes of Tennessee, USF, San Diego State and some other high caliber opponents.  It's really tough to strategically schedule in softball because you don't often know who is going to which tournaments, which teams will pull out and subsequently be replaced with, you never know who will be a strong team in any given year, etc.  I am more than 1/2 way done with my 2015 schedule (and have been done with it since before Christmas) which is crazy.  I'm just waiting on Big East to come out with our conference schedule and I need to schedule our local midweek games and we'll be locked in for 2015.  My softball life is so very structured.  For someone who enjoys spontaneity, I am like a dichotomy.  I have actually become a little less spontaneous as I age.  But I still do like random trips and visits and stuff like that.  Well, I expect big things from our team this weekend.  It's starting to be crunch time and we need to begin to pick up steam so we can lift the confidence going into conference play.  This weekend will be a great start…

So I've been on the road in a different city over the course of the last 4 weeks but it hasn't put too much of a damper on my training.  I actually had a stretch where I was killing workouts…no coincidence that it was a week and a half where we had no traveling or games.  I had time to be at home and run on my own turf with my team without waking up at ridiculous hours to get workouts in.  My last two tempo's have not been up to par in my book and again, no coincidence that both workouts came just before and well into a road trip.  So many people say that running relieves stress…and it does for sure, however when I carry stress into a workout it affects the outcome tremendously.  Tremendously.  When you are trying to run at optimal levels under a ton of stress (at least for me), it slows me down as evidenced by my last two tempo's.  Tony wanted me to run today's 5 mile tempo at a 6:40 pace.  He thinks I can race a half marathon at that pace.  I think that is a little ambitious right now but he knows better than me.  So I set out at what I thought was a conservative pace this morning (6:51) and by mile 3 I was toast.  It probably didn't help that I was battling wind and rain but at some point those "excuses" aren't good enough anymore.  I ended up finishing the run averaging 6:58 but the thing that pissed me off most was that I ran my last two miles slower than my first two.  That is the exact opposite of what I am trying to do.  But I went out thinking I was being conservative.  I really need to keep it above 7's on the first mile of a tempo so I can finish strong.  Lesson learned.  The positive was that after the 5 mile tempo, I had a 4 minute recovery jog and then had to do a mile in the 6:30 range.  Tony said this would be a good workout for the kick at the end of a marathon.  Who has a kick at the end of a marathon, btw?  Ha.  I will!  I wondered how that would be after quasi-bombing the tempo…I ended up running pretty well and pretty even and actually felt ok.  I ran it in 6:34 which is not quite 6:30 but is in the range I'd say.  I was happy with it.  Plus tempo's are really hard to do solo.  Got another long run in (again, on the road and in a completely different climate) on Monday.  The weather was sunny, 75 and relatively humid but I still ran a solid pace.  Kept it just under 8 minutes with my last 3 miles being my fastest.  I actually had to work hard to keep a steady pace for the last 8 miles because I didn't realize just how windy it was.  When I turned around and realized it was whipping (later found out it was 19mph winds), I thought to myself "geeze…no wonder it felt so easy on the way out!!"  Of course I lost track of where I was on the trail and ended up running an extra few miles (the 18 miler turned into the 20+ miler).  I essentially walked/jogged 4 miles trying to figure out where the heck I was.  I could smell my skin baking in the sun.  No joke.  I hadn't put sunscreen on because it runs into my eyes and stings the heck out of them.  Anyhow, I was happy with the quality of the long run and with 6.5 weeks out until Boston, I feel like things are rolling along.  I'm not going to be breaking any world records in this one, but I do hope to execute properly.  That's my goal.  Execute a race plan properly.  The best thing about this training cycle is that other than a few niggles, I have been pretty healthy.  KNOCK.ON.WOOD.

Got to see Tim a few days ago, which is actually what prompted the headline of my blog post tonight.  I'm kind of a loner in the world.  I am not the most social thing going and most nights would prefer to just chill out alone, go to bed early and focus on my running and coaching.  At times I kind of feel like I am missing out but when I think about hanging out in groups of people doing social things, I realize I would just rather not.  With that all being said and while I don't have many people in my life, I have a select few people that just have a special place in my heart.  I speak to a few of them often, a few rarely and a few next to never but they never leave my mind and never leave my heart.  I'd go out on a limb to say I probably still love some of them in a capacity I can't quite explain and don't really understand.  I guess not all feelings can be explained, much to the chagrin of my anal desire to understand everything completely.  "Why?" is my favorite question in the world.

These people to me are those that get me and that can just pick up where we left off…a sort of timeless comfort level that transcends anything.  I probably have about 4-5 people in my life in this capacity.  All in different parts of the country.  Tim is one of them.  The day I left Florida for good goes down in my books as one of the hardest days of my life.  He is and will always be one of my dearest friends.  The dynamic I have with these people in my life is typically centered around the fact that they get me, make me laugh, are highly intelligent, and have qualities that I admire (smart, funny, witty, successful, do something uniquely well and care about me on a pretty deep level which in turn is reciprocated).  Ironically most of these folks are loner types like me.  Hmmm.

I'm pretty tired.  I have a 5:00am wake up call tomorrow so I can get a light 6-mile recovery run, some core, some pushups and of course breakfast in before games.  This girl doesn't miss a meal.  Time to hit the hay.

This stands true for so many things in my life….

Monday, February 10, 2014

Quality wins and procrastination

Just for the record, I am totally procrastinating right now.  I have a 16 mile run on tap and it's not so much the action of running that I'm struggling to get out the door with…it's the 23 degree temps.  I usually don't complain too much and am pretty hard core about getting out into the elements but ugh.  At least it's sunny.  Some would say this is what I get for deciding to run Boston…eh, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Really positive weekend for Red Storm softball!  I totally threw my team into the fire this year from a scheduling standpoint (as I notoriously do) and they responded pretty well.  We have some things that need to get cleaned up, ironed out and made more consistent but I believe that will come in time and with more experience.  Our team is so young, but so talented.  We opened up with Tulsa who is always a tough team and have been receiving votes for Top 25 forever.  After losing 5-1, we faced Ohio State.  OSU beat us last year but after reviewing lots of film my staff and I were positive we could beat them this year.  They jumped out to a 3-0 lead but my team began the trend that continued all weekend long which was that they fought to the bitter end regardless of the situation.   Getting down never phased them.  We took a 4-3 lead and never looked back.  Final score St. John's 6, Ohio State 3.  Opening weekend is always so interesting…teams are trying to find themselves, work out the kinks, play on a surface that 90% of us haven't played on since late fall, etc.  Sometimes it can set the tone of the season and other times it really means nothing.  In the end, it's all about how you finish…It's a marathon, not a sprint right?

Coach K. chatting with her team before the game :-)

Saturday was a tremendous day…as is the case with most of our road trips, I relentlessly find ways to train at optimal levels.  Let me tell you that it is no easy task either.  Most times it entails very early mornings on little sleep so I guess that throws "optimal levels" out the window.  On Friday I was up at 4:30am to get my run in before our 9am games.  And then I get on a trail expecting to see other runners and there was nobody in sight.  I'm used to NYC where there are runners out in the park at all hours of the morning.  Kinda creeped me out so I decided to run on main roads more for the safety of it than anything.  I always bring some form of identification in case something happens too…you never know.  Actually, I need to bring my ID bracelet next weekend now that I think about it.  Anyway, back to Saturday.  Wake up at 6:00am (sleeping in during softball season!!), get ready to race (I had packed all my stuff for the day the night before, including my coaching stuff…had told my assistants I would meet them at the field for the game that day), and drove to some park on Glades Rd. (was I in the Everglades??) to run in a cross country 5K race.  I had spoken to Tony about it and since I missed Thursday's team tempo I investigated any races going on down in Boca.  I found one and it happened to be a xc race on grass!  Right up TR's alley.  He agreed to let me run it as a tempo.  I arrived to the foggy park (and in hindsight, thankfully it was foggy because if it was sunny it would have been smoking hot…it was already 72 degrees and close to 80% humidity which is minimal in the summer here but when you have been running in teens and 20's it was shocking to the system), signed up, warmed up just over 3 miles, did some drills and headed over to the starting line.  As I was walking over a few cops said to me "Where did you run in college?"  Haha.  Love it.  A.) I am almost 40 and B.) I look nothing like a runner - big bones and all.  When I informed them I didn't, they said "well we have been scoping out the field and we have you as the favorite to win.  We watched you warm up and can tell by your intensity."  I got a chuckle out of that and started thinking "this is a fun 5K and I am preparing as if it were the Olympics"  Haha.  That's just me though and I wouldn't change it for anything.  I told them I doubted that.  Said there were younger people there, I was from NYC and the weather was not favorable and I wasn't out there to race…just to get a workout in for Boston training.

We all line up, gun goes off and I actually felt pretty good despite feeling sluggish in my warmup.  Two girls in pink jump out to a fast and furious start.  I thought to myself that they were either really good or really stupid.  They were pacing under 6 minutes.  I wasn't taking that bait and hung behind them.  Figured I'd either catch them later or they were just better than me.  It's only a tempo, right?  I was loving the course.  Nice and flat.  Well manicured grass.  Felt good on the legs.  Awesome.  Just under a mile into the race, the pink girls were slowing down tremendously.  I caught them easily and thought to myself that I didn't want to take the lead just yet.  I hung on their shoulder for a while and as things continued to slow down I made the decision to go for it.  I wanted a hard workout and these girls were obviously pretenders with how they went out.  I could tell the girl on the right was finished with the way she was breathing.  The one on the left was definitely stronger.  The funny thing is I saw her warming up and was going to pass her on the easy warm up run and thought better of it.  I said to myself that I wasn't giving anyone any ammo.  I wanted to remain conspicuous.  So I made my move just over a mile into the race and was in my comfort zone as the front runner.  I wondered how this would go.  One older man tried to pass me and that was short lived.  He fell back shortly thereafter.  So I ran the remaining 2 miles alone, which really isn't what I was looking for but oh well.  I wanted to be pushed by others around me.  There were 3-4 guys ahead of me but I wasn't catching them.  I started working really hard because I was thinking "shit, I can win this thing…that would be kinda fun"  My breathing got really labored but I hung on.  A mile 2.5 I had a guy telling me I was the lead woman which I knew…At the 2.75 mile mark, we had to go up a short hill which was minimal compared to what I do here.  And I had just done hill repeats last Tuesday too so I was ready ;-)  At the top the guy told us we had a 1/4 to go.  I made a left and finally I could see where people were behind me.  I didn't know if I wanted to look.  I knew I had slowed quite a bit after throwing down a 6:33 first mile.  It was such a typical Amy race.  Ugh.  Anyway, I saw pink girl #1 about 50meters back and I was like "oh hell no" and turned it on.  I saw the finish line and wasn't relinquishing the lead at that point.  Hell no.  I picked up my pace to about 6:20 for the last quarter mile or so and crossed the finish line.  Yay!!  I won.  1st overall female :)  I learned from my track meet in January that I actually do have a little bit of a different gear when I think I can't go anymore.  It's pretty awesome to have that in your back pocket.

Unfortunately I had to leave the event and couldn't stay for the awards ceremony.  I felt really bad because I know it is important to support those small races but we had games and I had to go coach them.  I cooled down a mile, stretched a bit and then changed in the parking lot into my coaching clothes.  I was like the transformer.  Runner one moment, Coach the next. I thanked the race directors and volunteers, they gave me a medal and I was off.

We played Northern Illinois first and just flat out got beat.  Definitely disappointing because I thought that was a game we could have had.  After a long two game break, we took on FAU and after trailing for pretty much the entire game, we ended up beating them on a 3-run walk off home run by my three hitter which was such an amazing experience for my girls.  They were so excited and that was fun to watch.  We had a quality pitching outing and a timely hit.  BOOM!  It was awesome.  The home run ricocheted off a palm tree and back onto the field.  It actually freaked me out for a minute because I knew off the bat it was gone so I turned to my runners and then I saw it bouncing back on the field.  I looked to the umpire who was giving the HR signal.  Phew.  Mayhem!

I woke up on Sunday morning at 5:00am for an easy, dark creepy 6 mile run, some drills and some pushups and core work on 5 hours sleep (I need at least 7-9 hours so this was tough but I was still flying high from the night before so it wasn't as painful) and then off to the field again.  We faced #18 Louisville and just didn't bring our A game.  Final was 7-0.

Lots of positives happened this weekend though…I am psyched to see the progress of it all.

Ok, I gotta get my legs moving…


Friday, January 24, 2014

The Green Mile

No this is not a post about that movie (that I can't even remember what it's about…only that I cried heavily throughout it).  I am such a crybaby.

This is a post about the experience of running in my first ever track meet and if you haven't already guessed it, my event was the mile.  I totally underachieved but I am allowing myself to enjoy it since it was my first time ever at a track meet (I have never even attended a meet, let alone run in one).

So here's my story:

Practice and recruiting visit ends just after 5:00pm on Thursday night so already I am running late.  I had to drive from Queens to Harlem for a 7:00pm race.  I had more stress going on than you could ever imagine.  My life for the last week or so has been like a hurricane blowing in with softball season firing up last weekend and a big recruiting visit coming in this week.  So I bolt out the door begin the unfamiliar drive to the Armory.  Typically I take a bus and two trains to get there and it's like clock work.  I get there in plenty of time to stretch and do a substantial warmup.  Devon's track crew always asks why I am there so early.  "Aren't you here for Tony's workout?  Why are you here so dang early?"  Hey, I'm a go getter and I want to get it right.  If I don't have to rush to a workout, I don't.  I finally get to the Armory after a few wrong turns and now my worry is where to park.  Thanks to the snow there were plenty of spots relatively close.  One of the volunteer track coaches at St. John's asked me if I liked my car when I told him I was parking outside…I was like "dude the place isn't that bad…I walk there every night alone."  I really hate when people judge a neighborhood.  Not much scares me though so….Anyway so I get to the Armory, I go through the NYRR Thursday Night at the Races (TNAR) registration process, text my friend Colleen back who has no idea I am running in the meet tonight and tell her to get her ass down to the Armory to cheer me on (which she did and that was really awesome), called Sharon to totally laugh about the fact that I am getting ready to race at the Armory in my first ever track meet, chat with my teammates and coach for a bit, change, proceed to lose my stretch rope (damnit), and then realize that the mens mile would go off first which meant my race wasn't until 8:00pm.  This was absolutely awesome news…plenty of time to prepare and nine heats worth of men racing and watching how it all works.  All of it was so new to me.  Checking in at the table…getting my lane assignment, putting a sticker on my left hip and right chest for which lane I was assigned (in this case, lane 2)…hearing the gun go off for the first time…etc.  I was wide-eyed through it all.  After I ran a few miles and did a boat load of stretching, Coach Tony shouted over to me to get off my feet for a while and then just before my race, I was to go in the middle and really start to raise my heart rate with drills and stuff.  He wanted me going into the race sweating and heart rate up.  I watched the process of how the men lined up and how it all went for a few heats, cheered for our guys and then found a seat for some time.  I was nervous about 2 things:

1. Would my hamstring hold up…I have been battling a slight hammy pull last week that Tony got me through unscathed.  He just knows…Anyhow, I didn't want to fuck it up again so that had me a little apprehensive.
2. More than anything I was scared out of my wits…Like Tony said, in a road race you can hide if things go south.  In a track meet man…you are totally exposed.  I had some expectations and didn't want to disappoint myself or Tony.  I ended up doing just that and instead of pouting, I just said "I'll do better next time."

My goal time was 5:45 (Tony thought 5:40 but I wanted to be safe).  I was placed in the 3rd heat out of 5 heats.  My friend and super competitive teammate Stephanie was placed in heat 2 and she actually told me she tried to change heats so she could run and work with me.  I really like Steph.  She's so hard core, she can be such a bitch (in a good way), she's serious about running, she's hilarious, she's super smart (Ivy educated), and she is as competitive as me.  We work well together except that she is more polished and stronger than I am at this point in my running career.  I'll get there but I have a lot to improve upon.  One night I asked her what pace she was going to do for a tempo and she gave me the range which was right about what I was going to do so we started out together.  She totally lied and left me in the dust.  At the finish line I look at her like "what the hell"  She's like "Sorry dude.  I just had to do it.  I want you to understand that you have to work hard to get to this point."  I LOVED it.  Of course I was like "you are such a BITCH."  She claims she won't do that again, but yeah…right.

So anyway, back to the meet.  It was getting close to that time so as Heat 1 went off (those girls were VERY fast), I began the process of really getting my heart rate up with some drills and short sprints.  As Heat 2 stepped to the line, I started making my way over to the start.  At that point the nerves were flying all over the place.  We lined up according to our lanes and were given instructions.  I started to get cotton mouth and needed water and there was nothing in sight.  I started to panic.  I didn't want to go into the race parched.  I spotted some random water bottle right across the track and said "what the hell"  I ran over to it and took a sip.  Sorry whoever's water bottle that was!  At least I'm not sick ;-)  I appreciated it.  I thought about how well I did fueling myself before the race because I have a tendency to eat too much before workouts and when you mix being stuffed with being nervous (I get nervous before every CPTC workout), it makes for a yucky feeling in your stomach.  I had a small peanut butter sandwich and some power gel strawberry banana energy blasts at about 5:30pm and it was perfect.  I didn't even eat the banana I brought too. Figured I'd save it for after the race.

Ok, we're up.  Holy shit.  So being the literal that I am, I stand in lane 2 and am annoyed when the girl assigned lane 3 was "sharing" my lane and others were sharing lanes.  I went with it.  They gave instructions and then PA announcer announced everyone's names, lanes, and club affiliation.  So cool.  They also put our names on the jumbotron.  It was really awesome.  Once I was on that line I was fine.  I looked around to see what others were doing and everyone was getting prepped to start. I always do a few bounces to get my legs moving before I start every race, so this is what I did.  I started to feel confident at this point.  The lady put the gun up in the air, yells "on your mark" and BAM…the gun goes off.  I got off to a really smooth and on time start.  Tony wanted me to run 42-43 second laps.  He specifically said to avoid going out in 38-39 second laps.  I jump out to the lead, which I really didn't want to do but I held it and went with it.  As I made the turn at about 150 meters I look up at the clock and it says "34…35…" and I say softly, but out loud "shit"  As I cruise past Coach who was keeping my splits I hear him say "that was a 39 Amy!!"  He wasn't thrilled, nor should he have been.  I just wasted a shit ton of energy.  I ran the next lap in 42 and he yells out my split…"You're at 81 Amy and now you have to commit to what you've done"  I was supposed to roll in at 85.  I didn't think 4 seconds was that much until Tony ripped me after the meet.  Anyway, I led the race until about 800m when the girl behind me took the lead…One of my teammates Rob Gill (who I had asked to talk to me during the race because of his experience - he ran track at Kansas) yells to me "keep contact with her Amy…don't let the gap get too wide"  I knew I was in trouble because I had 4 laps to go and I was basically holding on.  I had no saliva in my mouth or throat and felt like I was in survival mode.  With 400m to go, Tony was yelling "you have to commit…you have to go for it NOW"  I just had nothing left in me to pick up the pace as I continued to slow down.  Two girls went ahead of me and I was like "shit…the sky is falling…how many more are right on my heels"  That was it and then I heard the bell for the last lap.  The leader had a good sized lead and I wasn't catching her but the 3rd place girl was catchable.  50m into the last lap I was resigned to finishing fourth until I reached the turn and then with 50m left I was like "fuck this shit" and I picked it up and pushed it as hard as I could…I actually went into another level…it was pretty enlightening actually…Just when I thought I had nothing left, I did.  I caught the girl in front of me with about 10 feet left to the finish and secured 3rd place in my heat with an unimpressive 5:53.  My mile time on the road was 5:49 so I was pretty disappointed.  I thought at the very least I'd get a 5:45.  Live and learn.

I was sucking wind bad…walked to catch my breath, yelled at my friend Mikal to stop filming (I am so sorry Mikal…I was such a bitch…thanks for understanding though), got a drink and made a beeline to Tony who just shook his head.  He was totally disappointed.  He was like "Amy…you could have easily gotten a 5:40 if you had just listened to me.  Those girls in that heat should not have been near you.  When you felt nobody on your shoulder, didn't that give you an indication that something was a little off??"  I firmly told him that I don't purposely disobey him…I just have no idea how fast I am going until it is too late.  And no, I actually had no idea that nobody was near me.  I actually thought I saw their shadows.  Tony was right in what he was saying.  He sees potential in me but it frustrates him that I don't listen or that I don't execute the way I should.  He said I would have run 5:40 easily.  I am so pace challenged it's pathetic.  But I am resolved to figuring this shit out.  Determined.  I can work as hard or harder than anyone I know.  But people race smarter than me and kick my ass.  That mess needs to stop.  Once I figure out pacing and gain some confidence with it, I am going to be really good.

My buddy Mikal (who I yelled at) went on to run the 800 after me and he was AWESOME!!  He ran a 2:31 and ran a really smart race.  He killed it at the end.  I envy that kind of ability.

I got home last night and said to myself "That was awesome…I can't wait until February 4 (next TNAR).  It is time to get fucking serious."  After that meet I probably need to turn my thoughts to marathon training since that little race known as the Boston Marathon is in 12 weeks or so.  I think it's awesome that I don't even know how far away the race is.  Typically I would have it timed to the second.  I am really not thrilled about doing a marathon but I am committed to it and will do the very best I can.  Once the marathon is over, I will rest significantly (hamstring tendonitis since October has been a bitch and this leg needs some fucking rest), and then I will write a new chapter in my life.  Amy Kvilhaug the marathoner will transition into Amy K the XC and trackie for a few years.  Then when I am ready, I will hit the roads for 26.2 and a sub 3.  Sometimes you just have to take the road less traveled to get there.  I can't wait for the journey!!

So that's my story.  My body is exhausted.  I need to go to bed.  Long practice tomorrow so I need to be on the ball.

"If at first you don't succeed…try, try again."

"Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm"

Sunday, December 22, 2013

I wanna talk about me...

71 Questions

  1. Put your music player of choice on shuffle and list the first 10 songs
I Need a Doctor - Eminem
Good Feeling - FloRida
It's Raining Again - Supertramp
Forest Gump Theme Song - Alan Silverstri
Nelly - Heart of a Champion
What the Hell - Avril Lavigne
300 Violin Orchestra - Jorge Quintero
Training Montage - Rocky IV
The Verve - Bittersweet Symphony
Streets of Philadelphia - Bruce Springsteen

2. If you could spend a week anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? Would you take anyone with you?  Thailand - for a wonderful yoga retreat and inexpensive, amazing massage.  I would go solo.  My second choice would be Kenya.  Again, solo.

3. What is your preferred writing implement? (eg. Blue pen, pencil, green pen) - Depends on the mood.  Most times my professionalism resorts to a black pen.  I like writing in blue though and sometimes a pencil hits the spot.

4. Favourite month and why? This question is too difficult.  I like December because I have some down time.  I like April because it is the crux of softball season.  I like May because we haven't started recruiting like crazy people yet and the WCWS is on, I like late July and early August again for down time (ok, this is starting to scare me)…In terms of running, I like the fall months.  I just can't answer this

2.  Do you have connections to any celebrities (even minor)? List them.
Depends on the definition of celebrity.  I am surrounded by college athletics so I have access to many people in college and professional sports.

  1. Name 3 items you could pick up from where you are.  Garmin watch, Tag watch and a pencil (haha) 
  2. What brand logo is closest to you currently? New Balance baby!
  3. Do you ever play board games or other non-computer games? Got any favorites?  Not so much.
  4. A musical artist you love that isn’t well known - Bobby Belfrey
  5. A musical artist you love that is well known - Melissa Ethridge
  6. What is your desktop background currently? My Central Park Track Club teammates <3 span="">
  7. Last person you talked to, and through what you talked to them - Chris, in person at dinner over some good fattening food and a few glasses of wine (I'VE WORKED SO HARD TO LOSE THREE POUNDS AND THERE IT GOES)
  8. First colour name you can think of that isn’t in the rainbow - Maroon
  9. What timekeeping devices are in the room you are currently in? - Ha.  I'm obsessive about all things time.  My laptop, iPhone, Garmin, Tag watch, Timex watch, iPod docking station, Red Sox Clock and my transistor radio clock.
  10. What kind of headphones do you use? - Yurbuds
  11. What musical artists have you seen perform live? Debbie Gibson, Johnny Gil, Keith Sweat, Melissa Ethridge, Indigo Girls, Janet Jackson, Celine Dion, Kenny G, Neil Diamond, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Ani DeFranco, Sara Barrellias (before anyone knew her), Bobby Belfrey (see him perform at Brandy's…awesome)
  12. Does virginity matter to you? Not really.  I'm not too high strung about issues like this.  Experience makes one better anyway.
  13. What gaming consoles do you or your family own? Ok, I had to google what the hell this meant.  
  14. What pets do you have? What are their names?  Sadly, none.  I wish I had a doggy.
  15. What’s the best job you’ve ever had?  Softball coaching
  16. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? I worked at a flea market in high school on Sundays where I sold clothes for Don.  It was so boring.
  17. What magazines do you read, if any?  Runners World
  18. Inspiration behind your URL?  Just telling my story and hoping to inspire.
  19. Inspiration behind your blog title?  My own personal story of chasing dreams - everyone's got one.
  20. Favourite item of clothing? Any type of compression anything - cold gear sleeves, capri's, shorts, tights, you name it, I LOVE IT.
  21. Are you friends with any exes? Nope.  JK.  Some are still very dear to me.
  22. Name at least one book you loved as a child.  Curious George
  23. What’s your native language? If that language has distinct regional variations, which variation? (eg. AU English, US English)  US English.  Boring.  Typical Americana - I only know one language.
  24. What email service do you use? Outlook and AOL.  You've got mail!
  25. Is there anything hanging on the walls of the room you are currently in? Yes.  A calendar and some random art.
  26. What’s your favourite number, and why? 23.  It was my number in college.
  27. Earliest moment in your life you can remember? My memory is horrible regarding my childhood and really just about anything lately.  I'd have to say competing in a  bike decorating parade with my yellow huffy.
  28. What did you have for dinner yesterday? Three scrambled eggs and a paleo waffle.
  29. How often do you brush your teeth? 3-4 times per day
  30. What’s your favourite candy/chocolate? I LOVE all candy.  I don't eat it though.  I would have to say my favorite all time candy would be swedish fish
  31. If you were suddenly really hungry, what would you choose to eat?  Anything with minimal processed carbs and that could fill me.  Typically a banana or two does the trick.  
  32. What fandoms would you consider yourself a part of?  Red Sox Nation, Patriots, St. John's and CPTC
  33. If you could study anything, what would it be? Psychology.
  34. Do you use anything on your lips? (eg. Chapstick, gloss, balm, lipstick) - Occasionally lip gloss, however my actress friend took me to buy makeup a few weeks ago and said pink would accentuate my eyes.  That was fun.
  35. How would you describe your sense of humor? Dry.  I find myself to be rather hilarious.
  36. What things annoy you more than anything else?  Lapses in response time to emails, texts, etc.  I find that people who work in athletics are on the immediate response plan.  Everyone else just sort of responds much too slowly.  Ah-noying!
  37. What kind of position are you in at the moment? Seated, legs crossed.
  38. Do you wear much jewelry?  Not so much other than the basics.  A pair of earrings, a watch, and an occasional necklace.
  39. Who is the leader of your country, currently? Any other levels of government with leaders? (State, region, province, county, district, municipality, etc)  Obama!  Cuomo and we just got a new mayor, DeBlasio
  40. What do you carry your money in? My old school coach wallet - thing has lasted me 8 years.  Well worth the money paid for it.
  41. Do you enjoy driving? Why or why not?  Sometimes.  I like to listen to news and music and I like being in constant motion.  Driving in NYC annoys the crap out of me sometimes though.  Too much damn traffic.  
  42. Longest drive you have ever been on? 24 hours to Lakeland, FL
  43. Furthest away from home you have ever been?  Hawaii - there is no way that should be part of this country…It's a million miles away
  44. How many times have you moved house? I'd say 9-11
  45. What is on the floor of the room you’re currently in, not including furniture? Tomorrow's running clothes, my suitcase for the holidays, bags with gifts in them, my softball glove, my coach bag, a tiffany's necklace in a box and sneakers…you know, the usual suspects.
  46. How many devices do you own which can access the internet? 3 - iPhone, macbook, and iPad 
  47. Is there is anything that is guaranteed to always make you happy? Winning!
  48. Is there anything that always makes you sad? Yes.
  49. What programs do you currently have open? iTunes, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Office
  50. What do you associate the colour red with? Blood and roses
  51. Last strong smell you can remember smelling?  A cheap pot of mine burning when I boiled water in it for my tea
  52. Last healthy thing you ate? Apple slices
  53. Do you drink tea or coffee, and how much per day? I drink tea a few times a week if that
  54. What do you associate the colour blue with? Pretty things.
  55. How long is the closest ruler you can find? 12 inches
  56. What colour pants/skirt/etc are you currently wearing? Navy blue jammies with Boston Red Sox B's on them
  57. When was the last time you drank water? About a half hour ago
  58. How often do you clear your browser history? Whenever I have stuff on there I don't want anyone seeing ;-)
  59. Do you believe nude photos can be artistic, rather than erotic?  Sure.
  60. Ever written fanfiction for anything? Do I need to pull up google again?
  61. Last formal event you attended - CPTC Annual Benefit Dinner at NYAC
  62. If you had to move your birthday to another date, which one would you choose and why? - June - I'd love to be a Gemini and I'd love to have my birthday party in the summer at the pool!
  63. Would you prefer to be at a beach or in the countryside? Beach!
  64. Roughly how many people live in your town? A gazillion trillion million.
  65. Do you know anyone with the same birthday as you? Yes.  Aw.  Meredith.
  66. Favourite place to shop? Can be a certain store or a place where there are multiple stores - Amazon
  67. Do you have a smartphone? What kind? If you don’t, do you want one? - iPhone 4S
  68. What is your least favourite colour, and why? - Red.  I have never liked how I look in red.
  69. How do you spell grey/gray? - Depends on what I am referring to.
  70. What time is it currently? - 9:35pm
  71. Is there anything you should be doing right now? - Winding down and going to bed.  My life is centered around getting up and running.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Think long term

While the days leading up a to big race are always so exciting, I actually also love the weeks that are furthest from races almost as much, if not more.  There is so much promise and vision during this time and so much you can do to control your own destiny.  You are pretty far removed from your upcoming goal so you are really forced to take things one workout at a time, while of course keeping your eyes on the prize.  Your energy levels remain pretty even keel from workout to workout.  High keyed emotion is removed when looking at performance goals when your goal race/races are in the distance.  

I actually just re-read that above paragraph and realize this is how I also feel about coaching my team, and in particular my pitching staff who I work closely with.  We had a tremendous fall.  I felt like I may have had the best fall of my career as a coach in terms of devising workouts that pertain to each individual pitcher and progressing each one along accordingly.  It's funny how the most unlikely sources can lead you to a place and I would like to thank Coach Tony as being a tremendous influence because I thought a lot about how he communicates to our team and what his approach is when planning.  It really inspired me this fall.  I need to tell him that someday.  I am both a coach and a coached athlete…what a great way to learn how to apply both qualities to one another.  As a coach, you learn how to take perspective into workouts and races (kind of…as many of you know, I still get in my own way sometimes with my standards and constantly feeling I fall short or that I am just plain inadequate…I can certainly become irrational at times - like on Thursday when I told Tony I was tired of being the slowest runner on CPTC…I loved that he told me to stop being dramatic…and then told me he understood because he was the same way).  As a coached athlete, you understand the process that the coach is trying to take with you…you try to learn patience…and you want to make sure you don't let your coach down.  

Coach TR and Amy at the CPTC Benefit Dinner at NYAC…He had the funniest quote the other day on my workout recap:  "IF THE KENYANS AND ETHIOPIANS ARE DOING THEIR LONG RUNS AT AN 8 MINUTE PACE, THEN WHY ARE YOU DOING IT AT A 7:50 PACE?"  HAHAHA

Right now I am preparing for a short indoor track season.  Wow.  Did I just say that?  I have never even attended an indoor track meet, let alone run in one but I am on board with Tony's philosophy that I need to improve all of the different systems - especially in the speed and short distance and xc departments - so here's the start of it.  Had my first workout at the armory and let me tell you…this track thing is no joke.  My friend Colleen had the most hilarious comment to my Facebook status the other day.  I put something along the lines that "the jury was still out on how I felt about the Armory".  She responded with "I felt like I was in a video game…and was losing"  Hahaha.  Colleen, I am still laughing.  Priceless.  That place was chaos!  And I was DYING.  5 x 1k's was the death of me last Tuesday.  

Regardless, The Armory is an amazing facility.  I have heard that several Olympic athletes train here.  That gives me goosebumps.  How awesome!

This plan will be a little de-railed when I have to start training for Boston - I have decided to run the marathon and Tony said he understood and would probably do it himself just based on last year's tragic events and stuff so I'm in.  I am not really expecting much for this race because as many of you know, I am in the middle of my softball season and will have been on the road for 8-9 weeks and working 7 days a week and everything else that is crazy with coaching at the DI level and being in season so I will train to be ready for it as best I can and see what happens.  Is anyone else on the "long run Monday" plan?  Ugh.  I actually kind of can't wait until it's over so I can truly start to focus on other things.  I thought it would be more difficult to give up the marathon…but really, I can't wait.  I'm sure as the excitement builds next year for it, I will miss that I am not a part of it but I can be a cheerleader so that's fun and productive too!  I ran a 5K on Thanksgiving and when I was done and needed zippo recovery and felt fine within 10 seconds of finishing, and had no time to recover with regards to workouts, and could continue training, etc. I thought "why do I do marathons again?"

The 5K was really fun actually.  It was a cold day and very windy.  I have run in 3 races this fall and every one of them has been run in gale force head winds of 15-20mph with gusts up to 30mph.  Just my luck!  At least I am now an experienced "wind runner".  My sister and I decide a few weeks before Thanksgiving that we'd do the Newman YMCA 5K in Seekonk, MA.  Being the ridiculous competitor that I am, I looked up the results of the previous 5 years to see what my chances were to win the thing.  The winning times ranged anywhere from 17-24 minutes so it was going to be a matter of who decided to show up.  I certainly wasn't running 17-18 minutes for a 5K coming off a marathon recovery cycle or probably ever…well, maybe in the 18's??  My PR is a 19:32.  The last few years the winner has been in the 20 minute range so that was feasible.  I wanted to go to a small town race and win!  I ended up finishing 2nd behind a former XC runner from Stonehill.  She ran an 18:51.  I was over a minute slower at 20:07.  Oh well.  

More importantly it was a pretty good race for me.  Tony told me to go out at 6:45 pace, but of course true to form I was a little faster.  According to my Garmin my splits were 6:32, 32, 34 which is super even.  The course must have been a little short though because a 20:07 has me averaging 6:28.  So either the Garmin is messed up or the course was off.  I did get 3.07 miles on the garmin and my sister got 3.12 so who knows.  I won my age division by 3.5 minutes so that's positive.  I finished 9th overall - only one woman and seven guys finished ahead of me.  Gotta love small town races.  Below is my sister and I at the starting line and then some of me at the awards ceremony!  Ok, I'm a tool….

Proud of my sister Christi.  She ran a 25:51, which is an 8:19 pace and I think that's damn good for her.  She was 6th in our age group.  That's awesome!

Next up for me is a team relay in Central Park tomorrow which should be REALLY fun.  I have never been a part of a relay team so it's cool that you are running for something other than yourself.  I am the lead off leg and doing 3.5 miles.  My team is VERY fast…we have two absolute studs on the team in Lauren C and Lauren G.  I watch in awe as those women run our workouts - they are sooooo fast.  And I mean legit fast.  I am just happy to be a part of it.  We also have Shaunessy on our team who has impressed the heck out of me with her improvement.  Lauren G will make up for my lost time in the 5-mile leg and then Lauren C will continue with the 6 mile leg.  Shaunessy will finish strong for us with the 1.7 mile leg.  I can't wait!!  I told Lauren C I was really nervous and that I didn't want to let the team down.  Her response was "OMG Amy I haven't even thought about that race.  I really don't care.  I only care that you have a bite of my tart when we are finished."  Haha.  Maybe I would have that approach if I could run sub-6 minute miles too.  But probably not.  Meanwhile I have been obsessing about it!

This will be me as they watch me come through:

I was going to run the 15K next week but after talking it over with Tony I decided not to do it.  I'm fine with that too.  Concentrating on my long term goals is way more important than a quick fix of racing a 15K in the park.  He told me that you have to make sacrifices and that the long term matters.  "Running is unforgiving" he said. He said I would have to recover the week after and that would take time away from training.   If long term is important, as well as remaining healthy, he said to take a pass on the 15K.  It is, and I will.

I will leave you with a quote that is at the core of my belief system not just of coaches and leaders but of anyone looking to do extraordinary things: