Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Taking advantage

I am sure every parent struggles with guilt from being away from their child because of their job. But even a full-time parent needs some “me” time just to stay sane. At least when Quin is in school, I will have 2 or 3 guilt-free hours when I know he is learning and having fun. For now, I will take advantage of every moment and spend as much time as possibly with him.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

School daze

With kids starting back to school, it has got me thinking about preschools for my little guy. Even though I would not want him to start until next year, I decided to check out a place last week. I confess, as I walked in I got a huge lump in my throat and my eyes started to water. My reaction to just thinking about preschool does not bode well for what will happen to me when we take Quin to college. Now I know why my Dad would always hug me and tell me come live at home, adding I can bring Jon.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Heading to New Haven

This weekend I am traveling to New Haven, Connecticut for the 20k USA Road Championships on Labor Day. I have not gone to a race without Quin since last summer and am looking forward to being able to relax a little more and focus on the race. I might even pack a book!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Back to the fog and classic cars

Back from Cape Cod and the Falmouth Road Race straight to the fog of the Monterey Peninsula.
I can’t say I missed the fog too much. It was nice to wear shorts and let Quin play in the sprinklers at his grandparent’s house in Massachusetts. I admit, being from North Carolina, the heat and humidity back there reminded me of home. Though training in that kind of weather is tough, it actually feels good to really sweat. Quin even learned a new phrase during our brief stint in Massachusetts, “Mama, soooo sweaty!” My husband Jon added, “And stinky!” I always got a good laugh from him as I chased him around the house trying to give him a sweaty, stinky hug.
Quin has turned into a seasoned traveler. He has a small rolling suitcase filled with his toys and favorite blanket and marches through the airport, getting grins from onlookers. He insisted on rolling his luggage down the ramp to the Monterey flight. Unfortunately, the steps onto the airplane were too big for him to climb. Since he wouldn't let go of his suitcase, Jon had to carry both Quin and his luggage onboard. I think Quin was looking forward to coming home too because he kept telling random people that he was going to California to see T and Ani, which is what he calls my mother and her husband.
The day after coming home, my coach, Bob Sevene, and I went to Hartnell College for a track workout. Guess my old age is starting to show because some of the local walkers commented to him that I looked a little stiffer on my warm-up than usual. I used to be able to bounce off of airplanes with no problem. When I was living in Boston, I flew to a race at Stanford. Afterward, I took a red-eye home, landed, and drove to work where I got in another run before working a full day as a physical therapist. Looking back I am not sure how I had the energy. You do what you have to do. Luckily for me, Sev is a smart coach and takes travel into consideration when coming up with my workouts. It was short and easy, and I walked away happy.
The next day my sister and her husband arrived for a long weekend to enjoy some of the activities of Classic Car week here on the Peninsula. It's easy to take this area for granted, but the events always remind me how lucky I am to live in such a wonderful and fun place. Downtown Pacific Grove was hopping, and it was impossible to do a run without going past a gaggle of expensive cars.
My sisters’s husband was in heaven with all the cars, and decided to attend one of the many car auctions. To my sister's surprise, they walked away with a 1965 Malibu Coup with 650 horsepower that requires racing fuel. In his words, “I think I am scared of my car.” When he pulled up to our house it sounded like a jet had landed. All the neighbors were drawn out to take a look. All I can say is that I am glad her husband did that, and not mine!  
The excitement was nice while it lasted, but I am happy to be back in a routine and to have all my running routes less clogged with tourists or spectators for the Pebble Beach events. Maybe there is something to be said for the loneliness on the long-distance runner? I like it quiet enough that I can hear the ocean and see my usual friends along the trails. I have about a week and half to enjoy before I get back on a plane and travel to New Haven, Connecticut for the 20K USA Championships, a race I won the last time I ran it in 2005 ages ago.

To read more of Blake Russell or to contact her, go to to her blog at montereyherald.com/marathonmom.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Next up, 20K USA Championships

The excitement of Classic Car week here on the Peninsula was nice while it lasted, but I am happy to be back in a routine and have all my running routes less clogged with tourists or spectators for the Pebble Beach events. Maybe there is something to be said for the loneliness on the long-distance runner? I like it quiet enough that I can hear the ocean and see my usual friends along the trails. I have about a week and half to enjoy before I get back on a plane and travel to New Haven, Connecticut for the 20k USA Championships, a race I won the last time I ran it in 2005 ages ago.

Friday, August 26, 2011

"I think I'm scared of my car"


My sister and her husband visited last weekend to enjoy some of the activities of Classic Car week here on the Peninsula. It's easy to take this area for granted, but the events always remind me how lucky I am to live in such a wonderful and fun place. Downtown Pacific Grove was hopping, and it was impossible to do a run without a gaggle of expensive cars.
My sisters’s husband was in heaven with all the cars, and decided to attend one of the many car auctions. To my sister's surprise, they walked away with a 1965 Malibu Coup with 650 horsepower that requires racing fuel. In his words, “I think I am scared of my car.” When he pulled up to our house it sounded like a jet had landed. All the neighbors were drawn out to take a look. All I can say is that I am glad her husband did that, and not mine!  

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Seasoned traveler


Quin has turned into a seasoned traveler. He has a small rolling suitcase filled with his toys and favorite blanket and marches through the airport, enticing grins from onlookers. He insisted on rolling his luggage down the ramp to the Monterey flight. Unfortunately, the steps onto the airplane were too big for him to climb. Since he wouldn't let go of his suitcase, Jon had to carry both Quin and his luggage onboard. I think Quin was looking forward to coming home too because he kept telling random people that he was going to California to see T and Ani, which is what he calls my mother and her husband.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Oh the agony!

Yesterday, Coach Sev and I went to Pacific Grove High to do some drills with the Cross Country Team. I had spoken to the team last year, and Coaches Watkins and Light were nice enough to invite me back and put them through a workout. Sev explained the drills as I demonstrated and did some with them. I had a tough workout in the morning and very little recover time before meeting with the team which probably did not help. They were different than some of the ones I usually do, and man, I am paying for it! I have a feeling there are some very sore athletes hobbling around PG High today!


We were born to run

Before bows and arrows and before horses were tamed, we did “persistence hunting” where we ran kudu, wildebeest and zebra into exhaustion. These animals can’t pant when they gallop. They overheat. People would find a big animal and chase it till it collapsed. You need no technology to do this, just the ability to run long distances, which all of us have. You can see proof of this capability every November when 45,000 people run for many hours through the streets of New York.- Dr. Daniel Lieberman, an evolutionary biology professor at Harvard, from a story in the New York Times

Monday, August 22, 2011

Cute Blog from NYTimes: What a Cow can teach you about running

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/18/what-a-cow-taught-me-about-running/

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A family (running) vacation


My love/hate relationship with the Falmouth Road Race continues. Last Sunday was my first elite level race since March — that's right, I'm not counting the train wreck that was the Boston Marathon. It was nice to get back out there after five months. The weather in Cape Cod was just as I suspected, hot and humid. But there was also plenty of energy and excitement at the starting line. Eleven thousand runners lined up in the tiny town of Woods Hole, a quintessential New England harbor town with shingled buildings, lobster signs, and colorful boats in the harbor.

I was the No. 6 American finisher and eighth overall. It was disappointing because I don't feel I ran up to my fitness level. After digesting the race for a while, I realize I might have been a little too optimistic going in. I have run it several times and for some reason I just never have a great race. Also, it might not have been the best strategy to run a race at the end of a family vacation. Let’s face it; when you have young ones and lots of family around, do you ever get the chance to really relax, even on vacation?

Since my husband Jon’s parents live in Plymouth just before the Cape. It was a perfect opportunity to see them and get in a high-caliber race. Unfortunately, whenever we visit, it feels like we are going all day long trying to fit in as much family and fun as possible since we don’t make it back that often. According to my coach, Bob Sevene, it was a good week to flee Monterey because of the summer fog and cold. It was great to let Quin play in the tidal pools and ocean waves without having to worry about putting him in a wetsuit or having him turn blue.

Jon and I ran each morning while his parents got their quality time with Quin. It worked out great for us because we love running on the trails near their house. Jon’s parents even bought Quin a bike to ride at their house. They didn't know what they were in for. Many mornings Quin had his helmet on and was heading out the door at 8 a.m.

As race day approached, it felt like old times because Jon was running too. When Jon was an elite athlete — he was an outstanding steeplechase runner in college — I loved having him around race morning, keeping me company and yet understanding at the same time my pre-race jitters. Though Jon was not racing, per say, he was pleasantly surprised with his time. Guess that running streak is paying off. For me, I find it hard to not compare myself to when I was at my peak and to be satisfied with steps in the right direction. I will keep chipping away until I break through.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A running couple

As race day approached for last Sunday's Falmouth Road Race, it felt like old times because Jon was running too. When Jon was an elite athlete — he was an outstanding steeplechase runner in college — I loved having him around race morning, keeping me company and yet understanding at the same time my pre-race jitters.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Cycling boy

The Russells might want to consider a career in triathlons for young Quin, after all, the boy sure loves to bike. After a recent visit to the Massachussets inlaws, Blake noted: "Jon’s parents even bought Quin a bike to ride at their house. They didn't know what they were in for. Many mornings Quin had his helmet on and was heading out the door at 8 a.m."

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Reflecting on Falmouth

Blake was disappointed in her race at Falmouth, "It was disappointing because I don't feel I ran up to my fitness level. After digesting the race for a while, I realize I might have been a little too optimistic going in. I have run it several times and for some reason I just never have a great race. Also, it might not have been the best strategy to run a race at the end of a family vacation. Let’s face it; when you have young ones and lots of family around, do you ever get the chance to really relax, even on vacation?" More in this week's column.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Just because

Well, just because life feels this way sometimes

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tough competition

Interesting article by Universal Sports looking ahead to the Olympic Trials and the London Olympics:
Unless a number of monumental upsets are strung together at the Trials in Houston in January, the U.S. is likely to field its strongest ever Olympic squad in the women's marathon. The quality of the field is so deep that a medal contender or two won't even qualify. ... Blake Russell is still a threat.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Eighth at Falmount

Blake finished eighth at Falmouth in 38 minutes, 2 seconds. The female winner was Magdalena Lewy-Boulet, who also won the Wharf-to-Wharf locally. Click here to see the top women finishers

Early word out of Falmouth

Nothing official yet on the Falmouth Road Race, but Blake wasn't overjoyed with her performance. "Not sure. Not great pretty disappointed. Maybe 5 American?" she texted shortly after finishing.

Getting ready for Falmouth

It’s not often that something good comes from a bar bet, but the Falmouth Road Race I am running this morning is an exception to the rule.
The mastermind behind this race was a bartender and avid runner named Tommy Leonard. He decided it would be fun to run from the Captain Kidd bar in Woods Hole to the Brother’s Four bar in Falmouth Heights on the Cape of Massachusetts. The distance was roughly seven miles along the ocean with some rolling hills and flat roads ending on the streets of Falmouth. Ninety two runners 92 runners toed the line for the first race in 1972. It has since grown to 10,000 strong attracting every one from Olympic champions (Frank Shorter and Bill Rodgers have run) to weekend warriors.
In the time I was living in Boston I always managed to work it into my racing schedule. I have run it many times. Looking back though, I have a love-hate relationship with this race and have decided it’s a bit like childbirth. You look forward to it, plan and prepare, but as race day approaches you start to wonder, “What was I thinking.” It’s not that the race is that bad or painful, it’s that August weather on the Cape can be unpredictable. It seems to be either hot and humid or cold with sideways rain and wind.
Most years, while I'm waiting to warm up I find myself sweating . . . and it's only 7 a.m. The residents along the course usually have their hoses and sprinklers on to douse the runners, but often the water is way too hot to provide any refreshment. There is a good size hill near the end of the race and a deceptively long stretch after that to the finish line. It makes you wonder if you will ever get there. The finish is under the largest American flag I have ever seen. But, just like childbirth, as soon as it’s over you forget you were in agony and want to do it all over again. I guess that's why the race sells out year after year.
The last time I ran this race was in 2007 as I was getting over a broken bone in my foot. I was not feeling great in the first place, but as I ran down the first steep hill in the opening mile I hyper-extended one of my toes. I was pretty sure I had broken something, but since it was a point to point race, I managed to finish. Apparently football players are not the only ones who get turf toe. Man, did that hurt. I couldn't walk for three weeks afterward.
Luckily, I am going into this race with no aches or pains and am excited to race. I did a long, hard workout last weekend and felt really good. Afterward my coach, Bob Sevene, said with a stern tone, “Now, let me tell you something.” I thought I was in trouble for running too fast, and was getting ready to defend myself when he said, “You’re in better shape than I thought you were.” Oh, I was pleasantly surprised because he has not said that before.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Forecast

It looks to be a warm one again for Sunday's Falmouth Road Race. Forecast is a high of 80 degrees under cloudy skies. In this week's column, Blake talks about breaking a sweat before having a chance to warm up first thing in the morning before the race and being sprayed with hot water along the course. She also plans to update her blog after the race.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Love and hate at Falmouth

I have a love-hate relationship with this week's Falmouth race and have decided it’s a bit like childbirth. You look forward to it, plan and prepare, but as race day approaches you start to wonder, “What was I thinking.” It’s not that the race is that bad or painful, it’s that August on the Cape can be unpredictable. It’s seems to be either hot and humid or cold with sideways rain and wind. Most years, I am often waiting to warm up and am already sweating from the heat at 7 a.m. The residents along the course usually have their hoses and sprinklers on for the runners, but often the water coming out of them is scalding. There is a good size hill at the end and a deceptively long stretch after that to the finish line that makes you wonder if you will ever get there. You finish under the largest American flag I have ever seen. But, just like childbirth, as soon as it’s over you forget you were in agony and want to do it all over again. I guess that is why the race sells out year after year.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Beer, running and Tommy Leonard

There's a great profile of Tommy Leonard, the founder of the Falmouth Road Race in this month's Runner's World. The race, which will be held Sunday, attracts a who's who of running stars, including our own Blake Russell this year.
"Like Liz Taylor and Richard Burton and Eddie Fisher, beer and running and Tommy Leonard are a love triangle for the ages, not least because Tommy has kept both mistresses happy over the years ... "
It's a humorous story of a runner who worked as a bartender most of his life and became so enthralled by Frank Shorter's Olympic Marathon win that he decided to establish his own road race and make Shorter a participant. And, by God, he did it ...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Heading for Falmouth

It’s not often that something good comes from a bar bet, but the Falmouth Road Race I am running on Sunday is an exception to the rule. The mastermind behind this race was a bartender and avid runner named Tommy Leonard who decided it would be fun to run from the Captain Kidd bar in Woods Hole to the Brother’s Four bar in Falmouth Heights on the Cape of Massachusetts. The distance was roughly 7 miles along the ocean with some rolling hills and flat roads ending through the streets of Falmouth. In 1972 ninety-two runners toed the line, and it has since grown to 10,000 strong attracting Olympic Champions to weekend warriors.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Without limits

Blake's remark about how she feels about "gutless" runners brought in more than a few viewers to the blog as Runners World felt it worth a mention. The three of us (Editor Dave, Husband Jon and Blake) had hoped to find a clip from the movie "Without Limits" where Steve Prefontaine goes off about a runner who sat on his shoulder the entire race only to outkick him in the end. No luck on our part, anybody out there got it and can tell us more about the scene?
And while we're at it, Billy Crudup as Pre in "Without Limits" or Jared Leto in the lead role in "Prefontaine"?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A running streak

My husband Jon is on a running streak. He hasn’t missed a day running in more than two months. That’s a lot considering the past few years he has been more of a weekend warrior squeezing in 20-30 miles over the two days. That’s a training regiment I wouldn’t exactly recommend. Frankly, Jon probably wouldn’t recommend it either considering the way he would limp around on Mondays and Tuesdays.

I mentioned to my coach that Jon had been doing a lot of running, and he reminded me that it was about time for his annual alumni reunion race. A few years ago, Jon and his Wake Forest teammates decided to reignite their competitive drives and do a 24-hour relay, for fun. I can’t say running three 10ks a few hours apart, sometimes in the middle the night, would be my first choice for fun. Yet Jon always comes home with funny stories that seem to outweigh the running pain and sleeping in a van with eight other smelly guys.

Whatever the reason for his renewed running, I am glad Jon has found time to work it into his day. He has even made himself get up at 5 a.m. to get a run in if he knows he has a busy day ahead. It’s quite impressive because I know he is not a morning person. I remember after we were married Jon said to me, “Oh God, you’re one of those people.” I looked at him confused, “What do you mean?” Jon’s response, “A morning person.” I confess, I love mornings. Of course, the advantage of marrying a morning person is at least your coffee is always ready when you finally stumble out of bed on the weekends.

I am taking a little credit for his streak. He came home last week and was exhausted. He slumped down on the couch and said, “I’m going to ruin my streak.” Being a runner I understand how hard it is to run at the end of a busy day. That’s why I do most of big training runs and workouts in the morning and leave the shorter runs for the afternoon. I convinced him to just go for a short run to take the pressure off. He reluctantly got out the door, but he seemed pleased with himself when he returned and even ran a little more than he planned.

Though Jon is using his streak for motivation, I know a lot of runners who go a little overboard in order to keep their streaks alive. I’ve known runners to jog around an airport or do a late night run to make sure they got their run in for the day. Personally, I don’t believe in a streak for the sake of a streak if the quality is not there. I don’t see how you can get a quality run in at midnight or while dodging cars and sucking in fumes at an airport.

One of the last times Jon did a lot of running was in Beijing when he was with me for the Olympics. During one of my workouts before the Olympic marathon in China, I ran him ragged as he shuttled water for me. When we returned to our hotel the maid was cleaning it, so we had to wait. Jon collapsed on the hall floor, a pile of sweat, tears and general weariness. Yep, I snapped a picture, he was even too tired to put his hand up to block me.

I may not believe in running streaks, but I do believe believe in gaining momentum which is essentially what Jon has been doing. He is finally fit enough to enjoy his runs and has even been tinkering with a few workouts. I keep prodding him to see what he thinks he can run in a mile in, so I can have a workout buddy. He’s not biting.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A picture of fatigue

One of the last times Jon did a lot of running was in Beijing when he was with me for the Olympics. During one of my workouts before the Olympic marathon in China, I ran him ragged as he shuttled water for me. When we returned to our hotel the maid was cleaning, so we had to wait to get in our room. Jon collapsed on the hall floor, a pile of sweat, tears and general weariness. Yep, I snapped a picture, he was even too tired to put his hand up to block me.I like to pull that picture out every once and a while, just to tease him.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Streaking

Jon is streaking, oh wait, badly worded there, don't go watching for a naked runner in Pacific Grove. Jon is on a running streak. He hasn’t missed a day running in more than two months. That’s a lot considering the past few years he has been more of a weekend warrior squeezing in 20-30 miles in two days. That’s a training regiment I wouldn’t exactly recommend. Frankly, Jon probably wouldn’t recommend it either considering the way he would limp around afterward.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Big Sur = Big Bucks

Appears that marathon running can bring in the bucks, especially to our little part of the world. The Monterey County Herald reported in this story recently that the Big Sur International Marathon pumped about $10 million in the local economy this year.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

For the sake of a streak

I know a lot of runners that go a little overboard in order to keep their running streaks alive. I’ve known runners to jog around an airport or do a late night run to make sure they got their run in for the day. Personally, I don’t believe in a streak for the sake of a streak if the quality is not there. I don’t see how you can get a quality run in at midnight or while dodging cars and sucking in fumes at an airport.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Running vs. racing

While on vacation Editor Dave is thinking a bit about running versus racing. This is brought on by the book I'm reading, "Once a runner." The main character goes on not about reaching inner peace through running, although he admits there are times he hits the runners high. For him, it's more about achieving some personal significance through racing. ... Interesting, so many of us find our inspiration not in the numbers that rule track and field (times, rankings), but in stories like this one out of the recent San Francisco Marathon.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Interesting strategy

So Ryan Hall is going to run the Chicago Marathon, interesting strategy and an interesting argument he makes in this Chicago Tribune article for running a marathon so close to the Olympic Trials.