What day is it?!

So my last update was in July. That’s… something.

Also, ❤ Robin Williams

Predictably (in hindsight at least), September was a shitshow. Work has since calmed down a little bit, but is still moving at a pretty brisk pace, so this is more of an update-for-the-sake-of-updating than an in-depth spread.

Mileage. I’ve been steadily building in the past couple months, which is good because I’m about 1.5 weeks’ worth behind on my annual goal of 1,500 miles. I’ve been steadily chipping away at that deficit (it stood at 2.5 weeks’ worth about a month ago), but averaging 31-33 miles per week for the rest of the year could still be a tall order as we head into the holidays. I’m already at 55 miles for the month of October, semi-tapering in preparation for the upcoming AthHalf event in 9 days! After that, it’s a straight shot to our third Chickamauga Battlefield event, at which both The Lady and I will be doing the half this time around.

Maybe next year we’ll both do the full?!

After that, we have a trail half marathon up in Helen, GA in mid-December, so we’ll definitely have to keep our mileage up and even start working in some trails. Given that the weather has finally



started acting more like fall (58F this morning!!), the trails should be quite a bit more pleasant as temperatures continue to fall and the mosquito populations continue to wither until winter’s onslaught.

Speaking of half-marathons…

Sub-1:45? Ish? The Eugene Half was really close to that magical number, all of about 45 seconds long. Given how awful the summer was, and the burning-the-candle-at-both-ends-ness of August and September (and let’s be honest, October too), and how tough the AthHalf course tends to be, I’m not expecting any kind of run at 1:45 in 9 days. I would, however, love to take a crack at my “event” PR of 1:48:56 from 2016 (I say “event” because the course will have changed 3 different times for the same event between 2016, 2017, and 2018). We’ll see how that goes!

That said, provided work eases up just a tad bit more after AthHalf, it’s possible that I could actually make a run at 1:45 for the Chickamauga half. I ran it in under 1:50 the first year while severely undertrained, and came in just under 1:47 last year. I think I’m in better condition this time around than I was even last year, so we’ll see!

And finally, drum-roll…

Work-life balance.



The summer was unexpectedly brutal, and since June it’s basically been a sprint with no real let-up. I managed to maintain a decently regular writing regimen through the spring and into the summer, but that basically ended in July. I’ve been more or less white-knuckling it ever since. I’m kind of amazed I’ve managed to keep within range of my 1,500 mile 2018 goal, but as stated even that will be still be tough to hit at this point.

I did spend a lovely half week in San Francisco for a conference back in late August, where I also managed to get a decent amount of running in.

Ran from my hotel to the Golden Gate bridge–a little more than 6 miles one-way. So I basically did a half marathon one morning.

But since then it’s been go-go-go.

  • The class I’m teaching this semester is one I taught back in Spring 2017, but due to some personal things at the time there’s a gaping hole in the curriculum right around now, so I’m spending quite a bit of time making lectures and homeworks from scratch.
  • Grant proposals have been unending. There was a giant one at the end of July, then another huge one at the end of September (this was one that we submitted last year and missed by inches–others have said they’ve had grants funded on worse reviews than ours). Now I’ve got one next week (Oct 16), and a final one planned for the end of November (the 27th). If literally one of these is actually funded I will be over the moon.
  • What’s weird about this brutal mix of teaching-and-grantwriting is that I haven’t been able to read any research papers. At the start of the year I borrowed a page from Carly’s book and started keeping a spreadsheet of the papers I’d read. Granted, I’ve skimmed over abstracts and glanced at figures, but in this spreadsheet I noted papers I’d read start-to-finish, with that intent. The last one that truly met that criteria was from mid-August.
  • Sleep has been… problematic. I’m hoping with this Oct 16 grant getting wrapped up, my cortisol levels will chill out a bit.

I fervently hope it won’t be another three months between blog posts. Running has been the thing that, when all else falls off due to work obligations, I let running fall away last, so I’ve still been largely pounding out the miles.

Here we go.

Pittsburgh Half 2013: Week 9

What a difference 8 weeks makes. Back in week 1, it was snowy and frigid and absolutely miserable. Even a week ago today I was wearing heavy winter gear. Now it’s 70 degrees out. Amazing.

March was a month of madness. Not the stupid kind having to do with basketball. I posted previously about hitting a rough patch in training. It was frustrating, but even at the time I knew it was a consequence of being out of the loop for so long. February is always one of my least favorite months anyhow. March, shoved right up against it, is one of my favorites, and not only because it’s my birthday month (though that’s a big reason). And this time around, March’s madness was a full-scale reversal: it was an awesome month for my training.

March = pwnd.
March = pwnd.

I was killing tempo runs, obliterating track workouts, and feeling good on long runs. Mind you: the quality workouts didn’t feel particularly good, but mentally I was in the game. I hit a rhythm, and I logged some of my best workouts since early fall last year. As far as I can tell, I’ve caught up on all the ground I lost during the long break after Philly.

BUT. Just as I experienced a meteoric return to running prowess, I had to come down at some point. The weekend after traveling to Athens, GA to spend Easter with my family, I journeyed to Knoxville, TN to spend Friday through Monday at Oak Ridge National Labs, getting acquainted with the people there and with the project I’ll be working on for the duration of the coming summer. Two travel weekends in a row is tough enough, but I wasn’t able to take a day off from work this past weekend as a result.

My long run this past weekend while in Knoxville was a 10-mile progression run.

Screen Shot 2013-04-10 at 8.55.27 AM

Even though I nailed all my goal splits–first 4 miles easy, next 3 at half-marathon goal pace + 15 seconds, last 3 at half-marathon goal pace–it didn’t feel very good. And maybe that was the point, but even during the easy miles I never felt myself slide into a rhythm. At that point I’d been in Knoxville for three full days: I hadn’t been sleeping well, I was eating out all the time (massive portions + unhealthy ingredients = system shock), and if I wasn’t at Oak Ridge getting up to speed on my future work, I was in the hotel catching up on my current work. So it’s understandable.

I ventured out for an easy 6-miler Tuesday morning after returning to Pittsburgh the previous evening, and met with more or less the same feeling: I was out of sync. Again, I hit all my splits–even some rapid-fire hill repeats in the middle–but it didn’t feel too great.

So this morning, in lieu of my scheduled easy 3-miler, I skipped it completely and did 30 minutes of yoga instead.

Some of you may say, “but this exists!! :”

On one hand, I agree. Even when I’ve felt like total shit, I’ve never regretted a workout. Ever. And the workouts I’ve been the most grateful for doing are those which have required the most self-talk to pry myself out of bed in the mornings.

That being said, there’s something for taking a day off when you need it. Obviously this is different for everyone, but for me personally, running is a stress relief provided I haven’t passed a “point of no return”. For me, running throws wide open a window of relaxation, but it can’t create one if it doesn’t already exist. For me, what can create that window are: more sleep, yoga, taking a day off (out of 7, thank you very much) from doing any work, writing, or playing board games, among many others. If I’m running with no window to relax, I start burning the candle at both ends, which is what happened to me at the tail end of Philly training last November. I still never regretted any single workout, but the key point is that I never let my body rest and recover.

This month is going to be really hard. I’m trying to apply lessons from last fall to keep the workload manageable, allow myself time to relax, and therefore keep running in its ultimate form: to enjoy being alive. I’ve already polished off my final homework assignments for the semester, and all that stands between me and the end of academic obligations before the summer are two projects, one of which is already underway. They’re both due right before the Pittsburgh half, which can be a blessing or a curse, depending on how well I manage things.

I have a 7-mile tempo run tomorrow. I’m hoping today’s rest will feed into tomorrow’s frenzy!