>Page 4.5

>So I walk into the Canton Merritt last night for my usual Thursday workout, and I go to do some pushups and situps before spin class, and I notice a little posse of dudes hanging out. Hmmm…
I do a little more investigation, look around, and who is in the downward dog posish right near me? The governor himself. (okay not really about the downward dog, but he was right there) Sweet. I love politics.

THEN I go up to spinning, and who walks in and grabs the bike in the front row next to me? The Mayor! She was pretty legit, even had her own spinning shoes and whatnot. She made some joke about being the oldest person in the class. I was like oh no, of course n…as I turn and look around at who is in the class and notice there is an abundance of young blonde shorties…ot? The class ran a little late and she peaced right before 7. I imagine she was in a hurry as she was off to go do some sweet shopping with stolen gift cards (haha, sorry for the low blow, I do like her!).

Just another night in Baltimore.

*Additional info: for those of you who may not frequent the gossip columns, perezhilton, gawker, or the superficial on a regular basis, Page 6 is the gossip column of the NY Post. The idea for Page 4.5, comes from a convo with Ryan. After realizing that we always know so much about what other people are doing, I suggested writed a Baltimore gossip column…like Page 6, but not because obvi that’s taken. Hence, the birth of Page 4.5.

>Nougetaboutit

>So I’m getting pretty excited. I have finally moved to my new apartment which is awes even though I am still sleeping on a mattress on the floor. What does this mean? No distractions, and best of all, no more excuses. I can no longer put off a morning workout because DB Dan is taking an hour long shower at 530 in the morning. I can no longer say that I didn’t get enough sleep and can’t workout hard because Carson and her boyfriend were banging above me and causing a rucus. And best of all, I have an entire kitchen…all…to…myself! The way I see it, phase one of this year is complete. The 50K’s are behind me and from now on out it’s more miles and more competition. A month ago, I was having my doubts about the year. I was having trouble finding the motivation for the long runs and swims, wondering if it would all really pay off in the end. Luckily, this is no more. I am itching for some long weekends out in the mountains, and I’ve gotten my confidence back that this is really what I want to be doing. No doubt about it, the weather plays its part in me wanting to be outside more, and I figure if I’m outside I may as well be training.

What have the past 2.5 months told me? I have a solid base. Ryan confirms my idea that in endurance sports, its all about the base. You can’t simply “get through” a race like an Ironman or a 100 mile. My plan looking ahead is to do 3 big weekends in April, 4 big weekends in May (Big weekends == 25-30 miles running Saturday (or a race), 20 miles Sunday and/or a long run on Saturday and a long ride on Sunday), and then start to fine tune things for June (which includes the TAYLOR SWIFT extravaganza…woop woop). Then it will be all the time on the bike and in the water I can manage through July and August, including Providence. After the IM it will be rest and rebuild time. Depending on how my tri’s go, I may or may not be making plans for October. If not, then I’m hopefully going to put together a Rim2Rim2Rim run in the Grand Canyon as a little vaca. Follow that up with JFK and possibly Hellgate 100K in Dec, and my year is over. Boy how time flies when you look at a race schedule…

Some changes to my training:
-Previously a lot of my doubles included 2 running sessions. Now I will combine those to one longer one, and double it with the bike or swimming.
-Strength training: I am not very good at lifting, nor do I enjoy it or want to learn how to do it. I’ll put in 50 pushups a day and 150 situps a day (subject to increase incrementally weekly) to improve my strength and core.
-Goodbye binging. This includes food and bevs.
-HILLS. Lots of them. More of them. I will heart hills by June.

>Seneca-Greenway Trail 50K

>Spring has finally sprung, and I kicked off the first weekend of good weather with a pretty dece race. I headed out to bling bling Silver Spring on Friday afternoon after work to meet Arjun and Melissa, my awesome race companions for the next day. Mel made a super awes pre-race dinner, and after lasting about 45 minutes through Australia I decided to call it a night. We got up in the morn and headed out to the starting line of the race. It was pretty fun to do the pre-race routine with friends and get to see the ultra world through a new set of eyes. Suddenly the people wearing the tutus and all the other wacky characters didn’t seem so normal…usually I wouldn’t have even thought twice about them. That, and the fact that ultrarunners probably have calves twice the size of the normal population were two of the many observations Arjun made that morning. There were some familiar faces in the crowd as Melissa and I started the run, heading down a pretty good hill for the first mile or so. As usual, I tried to keep to the back of the front pack to ensure a good spot on the trail and get my legs warmed up. Unfortunately I also noticed right from the start that I wasn’t feeling up to par – just an overall sense of heaviness and slugishness in the legs. I was hopeful that it would pass though. Melissa helped me keep a pretty good pace for the first section, and we hit mile 7.5 in about 58 minutes…a little fast, but most of that part was downhill or flat so not a huge concern. My legs still didn’t feel great though, and I warned Arjun of that as him and Melissa switch places. I honestly wasn’t sure how the day would end up, and I was wondering if I should even push through if I still felt so shitty at the halfway point. I decided to slow it down a little bit, and really make sure to stick to my nutrition plan. The day was heating up fast, and I knew that if I bonked from dehydration on top of tired legs, the day would be a bust. Around this time I fell into 2nd place…not a huge concern this early in the race, but still had me wondering how many women were at my heels.

A mile or so later Arjun and I came upon a friend of mine, Greg Loomis (you can read his writeup of the race here). Greg fell into step with us, and from that point we ran pretty consistant 9 minute miles. We paid close attention to maintain breaks for nutrition/hydration, which was most likely the best decision we made that day as the course got tougher at the end and we were passing people who had let the heat take its toll on them. The race has a pretty neat setup in that halfway through the 50K runners do an extra loop around a lake, then join back up to the marathon course. This makes for some easier running in the middle as you can catch some of the marathoners to keep yourself occupied.

Around mile 22, I caught back up to the first place woman and felt strong as I passed her. The three of us continued on to the last aide station at mile 28ish, where Arjun’s long run came to an end (already a few miles too long….oops), and Greg and I went on to finish the race in 5:19, 16th and 17th place overall!

Overall, I couldn’t be happier with a win at this time in the year. Now I can put that goal out of my head and focus on the real tasks at hand in the next 6 months. However, I am a little nervous looking back at how I performed. I didn’t rest at all in the week leading up to the race, and I certainly felt the difference in effort between Holiday Lake and this weekend. I have no idea how I was able to run 20+ minutes faster a month ago, on courses I would say are relatively comprable. Hopefully it’s just because training is picking up and my legs are simply more tired, and I think the heat played its part in it as well. I felt as if I was giving twice the effort yesterday than at HL, and not getting the same results at all. Greg brought me up to speed a little bit on the BRR50 course though, and said it is similar to the Seneca Greenway trail. With some solid workouts in the next few weeks, and a well planned mini-taper, I will hopefully be in good shape to make some moves at that race!

>T9 tidbits

>Kelly to friends (text): still at work. got chubbies later tonight though.
Me: got chubbies?
Kelly: damnit. translation = hot bitches.

Colleen to me: do you want to come tp Hooters with me and Ro?
Me: Yes, obvi….but why are we doing this?
Colleen: You know, food, bevs, whatever.
Me: haha ohh go to Hooters. I thought you wanted us to go toilet paper the joint.

>Rhianna took Chris Brown back? Whack.

>Entry for many ultras and ironmans are filling up in days, even minutes. It seems like every kid on the block (even the new ones….haha) are getting into endurance sports and consider themselves awesome because of it. I don’t agree with this. Although one of the many TWSS mottos is DBAP, let’s be honest – some people in this world HAVE to be a pussy for the sake of maintaining the proper hierarchy of the athletic world. I firmly stand by that. I don’t really know how to handle the fact that my sports are becoming trendy. So what did I do? I decided I needed to find a new sweet sport to do that no one else does. I googled “most extreme sports ever” and found this website. As I looked through these 11 sports, I decided that they would not only be more fun with at least one other person, but for safety’s sake I’d need to have a friend to partake in them with me. So, here’s my pick of extreme sports teammates. The number of your name (if you’re so lucky to be chosen) corresponds with that number sport from the article.

1. Brennan is the obvious choice for this. He’s fast, efficient, a mid-westerner, and most definitely irons a mean dress shirt.
2. Claire. I’m pretty sure you could stand up in one of those little balls, so that’s gotta be an advantage.
3. Melissa. When I saw the outfits those people had on in the pics, you just popped into my mind wearing the same thing.
4. Fun Jen Koshy. Skinny and agile, but fast and fierce. What a combination.
5. Kris. Even though there are certain elements of your genetic makeup that make me doubt your swimming abilities, I have faith that you could construct us some sort of fishing pole that gives us an obvious advantage. And we’ll just wear life jackets.
6. Ben. Bull riding has obvious advantages for The Ass Man.
7. Arjun. I’d make sure you did the calculations beforehand to make sure I don’t die.
8. Kip. You’re pretty lightweight so I think that this may actually work when you do it.
9. Emily. Your Marine Biology experience would be a huge asset when I come face to face with a giant shark.
10. Ryan. Mostly because we watched that ep of AR where the teams had to get the cheese down the big hill, and after discussing strategies with you I trust your ability to win this.
11. Carson. I feel like anyone who does this sport is bound to get seriously hurt….I’ll tell her to go first.

>Ahoy

>As my training is starting to pick up and my nurition plan is in gear, I found myself looking back through some old pics of my time at USNA and reminiscing about the shape I was in then. This brought back some memories of sub-six minute miles (okay, just once, and it was a 5:57), of a time when I could do 50+ push ups in a row, and a time when I’d do over 120 situps in 2 minutes without tiring. Even though my times in ultras have improved since, my strength to weight ratio was optimal during those years. Thus, I am reinstituting some Navy tidbits into my training henceforth. My running will not get that quick anytime soon, but the philosophy of strength training via situps, pushups, squats, lunges and pullups can certainly be implemented. I’m also going to treat myself to some new workout gear from TRX Training because I’ve realised I don’t really have any equipment for strength training. As much as bodyweight exercises work, sometimes I want to push myself further. Another thing I realized is that no matter how active I am now, I am not nearly as active as I was then. I’m not sure how to include chopping* into my everyday lifestyle in Baltimore, but the principle of it can be. Riding my bike, walking, and running to places instead of driving is a big part of that. Hopefully the weather will turn around soon and allow me to capitalize on that. Anyway, I found a few good pics to share with the masses. I will entitle this photo montage “No really, I was actually in the Navy”:
The amount of space you see in this pic is the total amount of space I was allowed to live in for a month on a ship. Ignore my fake-smile. I was miserable. Do note my sweet bed-making skills.

This is sort of like Where’s Waldo except I’ll give you a hint – I’m the large and awkward girl in the middle picking a wedgie.

3 weeks on a 44-ft sailboat in the Atlantic makes Alyssa very very unhappy.
*Chopping: the manner in which plebes (freshman) have to move about the hallways of Bancroft Hall (the dorm) at all times. It consists of short, double-time steps (about 160-180 steps per minute).

>A Special Bond(age)

>The other day I was doing my usual Sugar Factory/Harbor loop in the morning, and as I entered the harbor I fell into stride next to a man who was on his morning run as well. Now, we all know that old men flock to me like my roommates flock to boxed wine, but this was diff.

We ran together for about 50 feet before he said “nice morning for a run!” This simple statement spawned a conversation between us that lasted for another mile or so until I turned around at the fountain. I learned that he has two children – his daughter just graduated from Skidmore and his son is now getting his MBA after graduating from Carnegie Mellon (sorry ladies, he’s not single…). I learned that he was in town on business, and there was about 6 inches of snow from where he’s from in Northeastern PA. He likes traveling to Baltimore and running here because it’s so different from running the dark and lonely country roads he runs at home. He found out that I went to Navy and UVA, moved to Baltimore about a year ago, and that working in the real world is slowly sucking the life out of me.

Our lives couldn’t be more different. In any other situation I would have been pretty creeped out by a man just outwardly asking me about my life and such. But it made me realize that runners, no matter your pace or what your training for, have a common bond. It’s weird and you can’t really explain it, but it’s there, and there’s some sort of comfort in that.

Pretty baller slash deep for a Friday morning, huh.

>This is why I’m hot

>When I am able to improve 17 minutes on my 50K time in less than a year, I’d be amiss to not sit down and think about the things I am doing that have been a part of that improvment. So far, this is what I’ve come up with:

1. Nutrition – It’s been about 10 weeks since I met with Mel about my diet. I’m the first to admit, there have been several nights of Snickers Ice Cream bars from 7-11. If I had to grade myself on how well I’ve stuck to the nutrition plan, I would give myself a 75. That’s actually pretty horrible, when I think about it. However, I’m still making the effort to improve every day, and having seen it’s benefits already is keeping me motivated to stick with it. Also note: this doesn’t mean I’ve lost weight. In fact I have stayed exactly the same weight, but I can tell my body composition has changed and I’m simply getting stronger and able to put in more quality workouts with the proper diet. Dropping those LBs may “make you faster” but when push comes to shove I really don’t think that’s what it’s about.

2. Sleep – I love sleep. I get a lot of it. Early to bed, pretty early to rise, and I wouldn’t do it any other way. If I have a workout planned for 6am, I wake up and I’m simply too tired…I go back to bed. It’s that simple.

3. Quality mid-distance runs – Part of the reason I run the distances I do is because I truly enjoy being alone by myself in the woods, be it in a race or in training. I doubt that I will ever get to the point where I welcome company for 20-30 mile runs and long rides. Every now and then it can be helpful – and I think if I trained with people for those longer workouts I’d get faster – but it’s just not worth it to me to give up that Alyssa time. However, I have begun seeking people to go with me for the mid-distance and shorter runs under 15 miles. I think that this has made a world of difference. What can serve as a 10-12 mile recovery run for Arjun, can offer me a difficult workout. Making the 15 mile distance something that I can do quickly and easily is def one of the reasons I can now knock out 30 miles with a huge PR and still recover for a run the next day.

4. Two-a-days – I’m a huge advocate of this (AND of the MTV show about Hoover High which I have in fact visited and ran on their track), as I do a morning and afternoon workout at least 4 out of 7 days of my week. They aren’t always running – most of the time one is, and the other is spinning or swimming. It gets in the work I need but also isn’t too mentally or physically taxing because it is cross-training. If you can fit in an hour workout before work in the morning you are giving yourself a lot more money in the bank. Or hay in the barn. Or buns in the oven?

>Holiday Lake 50K+

>It was a good day. I’ll save you the effort of reading the entire post in case you just want to know how I did: 3rd female, 42nd overall (out of 257 starters), and a time of 4:56:53. Results are here.

The whole story:
I went down to Charlottesville yesterday afternoon, had dinner and some much needed QT with Francesca and Gill, and headed to bed at 9:30. In theory, that would have given me 6 hours of sleep seeing as my alarm was set for 3:30. However, by the time I fell asleep it was actually around 10:30 and so I wasn’t quite ready for that early of a wakeup. Whatevs, I hit the road at 4 am for the 1.5 hour drive down to Holiday Lake in Appomattox, Virginia. I got there and picked up my packet, shedded my layers, and found myself at the starting line with about 250 others. VA Tech and liberty both sent a pretty solid group, and it was nice to see some people under 30 at a race for once. Tech did their silly little cheer, someone said a prayer, we sang the national anthem (note to self: yelling out the O is only cool in Baltimore…), and finally we were off.

My game plan at this point was to hang back, take it slow and steady and try to consistantly hit 9’s-9:20’s throughout the run. The first mile was marked, I look at my watch: 7:30. Oops. There goes my plan. I held back a little bit and waited for the next group to catch me on the trail, and hung with them for the first 4 miles or so. I got to that aide station at 33 minutes, was passed by Justine “the machine” Morrison, and was feeling pretty good in 2nd place. The trails were beautiful, a few hills here and there but mostly very runnable. The only problem with this is that a course with few climbs provides little time for resting where I can eat and drink. Still, I was able to stick to my nutritional plan with about a bottle and hour, a GU on the 30, and 2 endurolytes at the start and midpoint.

This course is 2 loops of 16.63 miles, with the 2nd loop being run in the opposite direction as the first. I was in third place after 12 miles, but I could see a couple women close behind me on the trails. I kept telling myself not to get competitive, but we all know how that goes. Anyway, I hit the turnaround at 2:22. Justine was about 15 minutes ahead of me, and the girl in 2nd place was about 5 minutes ahead of me. The girl in 4th was about 1 minute behind me. Shoot. She picked up a pacer at the midway point, and was able to pass me soon after. I had my doubts she’d get too far ahead though. Races like these are known for having wildcards, especially in the women’s field. Oftentime you’ll get a random marathoner who wants to try their hand at an ultra. They are pretty easy to pick out – no trail shoes, not carrying water or food, and slow on the climbs. This chick fit that to a T. I was able to keep her in my sight, and then she disappeared….into the woods. When she saw me come around the corner, I guess I startled her as she stood right up from her bathroom break and took off in front of me. The smell was not so nice, she probably should have taken her time. Either way, that was reason enough for me to put some more pressure on her, and was able to pass her with 8 miles to go.

My second lap split was 2:34. Not quite as even as I hoped, but I’m okay with that. I felt strong coming into the finish, and that’s all that matters. Finishing in 4:56 was a huge accomplishment for me, especially because this was by no means a peak race. It is a 17 minute PR, on a course that is about 2 miles longer than my previous fastest 50K. Breaking that 5 hour barrier is great for me this early in the season, and has set a great tone for the rest of my training. Plus I got some sweet valentines-themed race stuff.

My focus for the next 8 weeks leading up to Bull Run will be hill workouts. My speed is there, I just need to maintain it on the hills. This means I need to find more time to get out into the mountains and onto the trails…no complaining about that!

>Do what you do

> My sister: What are you doing for Valentines Day?
Me: Running a 34 mile race in Virginia.
My sister: (Sighs)…Of course you are.

Yeah, F you sis, because I am. And it’s going to be awesome. Hopefully all the dumb runners will bring a significant other out who will try to makeout with them at the aide stations and give me time to fly by them. haha. Anyway in reality, I am pretty unprepared to go into this race, and thus will not be expecting much. My goal is to finish in a solid time, split it pretty even, and just give a good effort. As Francesca said: “remember what you’re training for.” I translated this into Alyssa-speak: “do what you do.” This is not my race to expend all my effort and energy…nor is it a race to worry about times and places. In fact, it’s a weird distance of a race so I don’t even have a previous time to compare to, nor have I ever run those trails before. It’s just a stepping stone to get me to June.

That being said, I have collected a sweet quasi Valentine’s playlist to pump me up on the 1.5 hour drive to the start at 430 in the morning on Saturday:

1. 99 Problems, Jay-Z
2. Gives you hell, All American Rejects
3. Sex on Fire, Kings of Leon
4. Miss Independent, Ne-Yo
5. Total Eclipse of the Heart, Airsupply
6. Heartless, Kanye
7. Girlfriend, Avril
8. Honest Mistake, The Bravery
9. Troublemaker, Akon
10. Right Round – Flo Rida
11. Damn, I wish I was your lover, Sophie B Hawkins
12. The Party’s Just Begun, The Cheetah Girls
13. Money Honey, Lady Gaga
14. White Horse, Taylor Swift
15. Great DJ, the Ting Tings
16. Lace and Leather, Britney
17. Can’t escape my love, Enrique
18. Chariot, Gavin Degraw
19.I think I’m in love with you, Jessica Simpson