Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A change of weather

As you can see the violin was not happy when I opened the case this morning =(. Poor violin. It just doesn't like any changes as far as the weather goes, which is a shame because the weather is changing. I can't tell you how many violins I've had to tune so far this week. It's crazy!

This morning I went for a run and it was actually cold! I kid you not. It was 49 degrees when I got back from my 8 mile run. I couldn't move my hands! I haven't warmed up much since, but then my room always seems to be cold, so hopefully I'll feel warmer once I get outside and go to work. I still haven't quite figured out what to wear when I'm running in this cooler weather. It's not cool enough for pants and not warm enough for sleeveless shirts. So, I've been wandering the great Internet looking at fall/winter running gear and mentally spending my paycheck before I even get it later today. Shopping is just too easy =).

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Autumn is here!

Yippee for some wonderful fall weather!! It's so nice to have a break from rain and humidity here in Atlanta. We've definitely earned some nice weather. When I left for my run this morning it was 53 degrees! I love running in fall. Sometimes it's a little tricky figuring out the right running gear to wear, but it feels so good! It made for some good running on my tempo run once I got going.

Total distance: 4.05 miles
Time: 37:08
Average Pace: 9:10
mile 1: 8:13
mile 2: 8:13
mile 3: 8:13
mile 4: 7:03 =)

The last mile felt pretty awesome, and it's so nice to get back home and not be a sweaty mess. I guess I should mention that Nike+ only marks the speed at mile markers and doesn't average the pace for the mile. So, that's why the pace at for the splits and the overall average speed don't match up. Just one more tempo run before the race. It's taper time!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

20 miles

For the first time I can say that I spent the week really looking forward to my 20 mile run. Well, at least until Friday around 9:30pm. To say that this past week was long and frustrating is a bit of an understatement. Sunday a tree limb fell on the house and did some damage to the roof. Monday was filled with storms. The power went out a home at 2:00 right after I left for work, which would normally take me 10 minutes to get to. It took 30 minutes on Monday. Then 2 minutes before I was suppose to teach the power went out at work, my 1st student who was 30 minutes late walked in right before the student I was waiting for showed. I didn't know what to do. Tuesday morning we still didn't have power, and I didn't have much left in my cell phone and couldn't get any help from work to get a hold of students. I spent most of the day in a rotten mood. Wednesday was better, but still had an situation that was frustrating. Thursday I went to bed frustrated, which caused me to wake up in a horrible mood on Friday, ditto for Saturday morning. I spent the better part of Friday morning in tears, and even a small part of Saturday before the run. I wasn't in the mood to run with the team, and sadly I think it showed. I'm not at all proud of it. Usually I'm a person who is every good at bottling up my feeling and faking. I don't want people to know about my personal struggles every day. I take the hits and try to go on, all the while venting my feeling internally, which quite frankly never helps any situation.

Which brings us back to Saturday morning's 20 mile run with Team in Training. I ran the warm up lap pretty fast. I was in a bad mood and I needed to pound the pavement some. There was no way that I could help the participants as a mentor in the mood I was in. I am sad to say for the first time I think others noticed how I felt. My friend and teammate Jim came up to me before I left and gave me a pep talk and a hug (bringing more tears). There was never a question of completing 20 miles. NEVER! The challenge was being a team player. For some reason the group was slow getting out of the parking lot, and for whatever reason, I just started running. I ended up in front, which is not where I was suppose to be, but I told myself that it would be okay and I would get with the teammates I needed to be with at the first water stop. I need to straighten myself out a little bit.

Shannon & I

I settled into running with Shannon whom I have had the pleasure of running with several times throughout the season. She's also someone I get along with very easily, and we generally have lots to talk about, and I honestly really enjoy running with her.

Now, if you haven't seen any of my post from earlier in the week, you may not know about the flooding in the area that I live. I thought there wasn't any way that we would be running in my regular stomping ground. Heck I hadn't been able to run any of my normal routes all week. I was shocked when I got the map and saw where we were running. Having peaked in on a few spots earlier in the week I hadn't felt safe running in the area. There was mud and fallen trees everywhere. A small part of me was curious to see it all, and the other part was heartbroken to see the area I had grown up in destroyed. The water line covered the first floor of most house. Grass, trees, and bushes were brown. Homeowners had dumpsters every where throwing away their belongings that had been ruined. In my 31 years I have never seen anything like it. And the smell was awful. I felt so bad running through the neighborhoods watching people throw away their lives. I felt like we shouldn't have been there. An intruder gawking at destroyed lives that needed help.

In all of that Shannon and I totally missed one of our water stops too. So, it was a long journey to the 10 mile water stop. Needless to say we took a little time and enjoyed it =). Running 20 miles is not a hard feat if your trained right. And as Shannon rightly noted, if it weren't for the mental aspect and dealing with weather conditions everyone would do it. This discussion had started because we noticed the weather was changing. It had cooled quite a bit and was getting very wind and overcast (a cold front was coming!!!), and Shannon's iPod had died (it has external speakers!!! We had music on our run. It was very cool!). Neither of us really like the idea of playing word games to entertain ourselves. Frankly, I just don't have the brain cells left to do it. So, instead we turned to critique the houses we were running past, which was hilarious! Have you ever really paid attention to the houses in Atlanta? There are so many different styles, some of which should not exist! It was a great source of amusement for the 8 miles we had left. Of course we had plenty of other things to pay attention to too. Some of the roads were really dangerous. No sidewalks and speeding cars. We had to make sure we were really paying attention. Sadly, the thing that caused us problems was a water meter cover on a side walk that caused Shannon to slightly twist her bad knee. She's a trouper!! She never stopped or talked about quiting.

Lindsay coming into home base (she's in the middle)

I don't know at what point I started thinking about finishing. Who would be there? Would there be any pumpkin bread and chocolate milk left? Seriously, you have to have your priorities straight =). It's all about food people! At one point I remember thinking I hope Jim is still there. See, Jim is married to our co-captain Carol (who is also totally awesome!). I forgot that Carol had lots of goodies waiting for us, but I was hoping I would get a big hug at the end. But first Shannon and I had to go down the final hill to the final water stop. We were so excited!!! Most of all because there were cups (it's the little things! And Fontaine you totally rock!). We stayed for a few minutes and talked, and then the ran the last glorious mile home!! We were such a sad sight when we started running again. The bad things about stopping even for just a few minutes was that we had both gotten stiff. It didn't stop us!! And then all of a sudden we were back. Mary our staff coordinator was jumping for joy and Jim was waiting with a big hug. Between Jim and Shannon I got exactly what I had needed yesterday. I hung out until everyone was back. My mentee Lindsay ran the longest she has ever run period. I was so proud of her. And then 20 minutes later it started to pour! What a day. In the end it felt really good. Thinking back I still get a little teary eyed at it all. Now it's time to taper to the race!!

Some of our team who completed 12 or 20 miles
(it started pouring shortly after this =))

Only 3 more week!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Flooding down in Georgia

Well, I'm happy to say after 18 hours with no power things are starting to look up. You might have heard that it's a little soggy here in Atlanta. Okay, it's flooding. Big time! The golf course behind our house was completely flooded! My Dad said he's never seen anything like it in the 30 years they've lived in the house. Most people were not so happy about it, but the Canadian geese loved it!! I wish I had gotten a picture. It was great, and made me laugh, which I didn't do much of yesterday. Here are a few pictures from the local paper:

Just to get an idea of what it was like in my area the pictures of Westminster is where I work (we rent space from the school on top of a nice big hill!!) and I live 4 blocks up from the picture of Peachtree Creek and Woodward (also up a nice big hill!!). I really like hills right now!!!

I was able to get my tempo run in this morning despite the fact that my usually route was partially under water (part of it is by Peachtree Creek). So, I had to make up a route as I went, and had to deal with my Nike+ sportsband's issues as well. Needless to say I was shocked when I saw the results. I knew I was going at a good clip, but I was expecting this. My hamstrings are still a little sore from squats and an attempt at power yoga Sunday. Here's the lowdown:

Distance: 3.87 miles
Total Time: 33:01
Average Pace: 8:31 per mile (what the heck!!!)
mile 1: 8:13
mile 2: 8:13
mile 3: 8:13
mile 3.87: 8:13

In case you're wondering how splits of 8:13 equal an average pace of 8:31 there were a few speed changes in between some of the splits (otherwise known as hills). Part of me is wondering if my Nike+ sensor is lying to me, but I don't have any other way of judging what I did.

Anyway, I had a light breakfast since the power was out, so I'm off to raid the kitchen! And then probably practice because I can't work =( which stinks. Oh, and probably read a good book!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Monsoon Season in Atlanta

Well if you're turned your TV on today you've probably heard that it's raining in Atlanta. Point of fact, it's been raining for 6 days straight now! While several friends have been joking about building arks it's getting to the point that it's just crazy. Schools are closing because of pipes breaking, people are losing power because of down trees, and even the interstates are flooding making it difficult to get anywhere.

All of this comes to at the beginning of our biggest training week, the week we run our 20 mile long run. I can't tell you how many little prayers I've put up hoping that the rain will stop or at least slow down enough that I can get my runs in this week. I don't mind running in the raining, but the storms this morning have been down right dangerous, and that makes me a little nervous. And to be completely truthful it would be nice to only be wet from sweating for a change and not rain, but if I have to, I do all my runs in the rain this week. I don't any other choice since I killed the treadmill 2 years ago (it wasn't replaced). I have to say though, for the first time ever, I am looking forward to the 20 mile run. I have been running better than I ever had. I ran in the entire 18 mile route except for a tiny bit at the end to help a teammate up the final hill (way to go Susan!!). It felt awesome, and it felt even better to look at my watch and see that despite what felt like a slow pace (it's about effort not pace!) my running time was 3 hours 16 minutes. Now I took time at water stops to make sure that everyone in the middle of the group was ahead of me (the mentors get weekly assignments to run with a certain part of the group), so I was out on the course for longer, but it was such a confidence booster!

To be honest again, my practicing has not been as focused the past couple of days either. I'm tired, which is probably more from running than anything else. It doesn't make practicing any easier though. Things that frustrate me while practicing seems to drive me nuts a little bit more when I'm tired. Like e-flat arpeggios. I don't recommend them when you're tired! They are slowly driving me batty. I think there are still positive things though. My teacher challenged me to start figuring out what I like about my playing. It's something I haven't thought of before because most of the time when I taking lessons the teacher is always telling me what I'm not doing right. I don't know what I do well, and there have been a lot of things going on lately that have made me feel like there isn't anything that I do "right." So, here goes. I really am starting to like my sound, especially when I've been working on my solo Bach this week. I have really good posture (got to love yoga & running), and my left hand is pretty darn good. I feel like I still have a lot of work to get to where I want to go. I need to make sure that I don't equate my self worthy with the lack of jobs or students that I have. I don't have any freelancing jobs at the moment, and to say that my student number is low is an understatement right now. The recession has been incredibly tough. I hope that changes soon, but I don't know that it will. I hope I'm wrong! But for now it's time to practice and stay dry! Monsoon season continues for at least another 2 days (although rain is forecasted for the rest of the week...)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Running in the rain continues

Do you see the theme this week? It seems to be monsoon season here in Atlanta this week. The team ran a very soggy 8 miles this morning, which actually felt really great when it I was running and disgustingly muggy when it wasn't. I got to start of the run with to of my fellow mentors (have I mentioned that I'm a mentor?) who are running the half, which was fun because I don't often get to run with members of the half team. Something about running miles to train for a full marathon... Anyway we had a good time talking about how bad FSU seems to be (myself and our co-captain are alums), Angela's love of bacon (to be honest I got it started), and so much more. I kind of took off at the end and just ran my heart out. Okay, not really, but it felt really good to pick up the pace a little since I've felt I've gotten a little to cozy with running a "comfortable" pace all of the time. I know it's not lazy, but I feel like I need to at least challenge myself just a little on some of my shorter runs. It felt really awesome!!!

Looks like next week's run might be a little soggy too =(. I don't mind for the shorter ones, but we have our 20 mile run next Saturday, and well, I would kind of like to be dry if I'm being honest. Although I'll take whatever we're given. You never know what might happen on race day...

I've started thinking about what I might want to do after Nike. Maybe the Atlanta half marathon Thanksgiving day? And which part of ING Georgia do I want to do? Any thoughts?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Running in the rain!!!

Today's 6 mile run was soooo much better than yesterday's attempt. Most importantly there were no cramps!!! (thanks to some nuun yesterday afternoon and salt this morning). It took a little extra motivation to get out the door because it was raining. Now, I love running in the rain during the summer, but it takes me a little while to get ready to get wet.

How about that scale book? =) It made me laugh yesterday when the cover came off. Just over a year of working on the Galamian scale system and I take the cover off. I can't tell you how many years I used the Flesch scale book and nothing ever happened to the cover. I need to go get some book binding tape and try to put it back together. I once had a teacher yell at me for taking the cover off of one of my books. Isn't it a good thing that the cover comes off? It means you're actually using the book! I just laugh. I love it when a student comes in with a book and no cover. Finally, someone who practices!!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Nike+ & Nike Women's Marthon

Do you run with the Nike+ system? If you do and are running in the Nike Women's Marathon or Half Marathon check out the link below to some new from Nike about some exciting perks for Nike+ users at the expotique:

Nutella & Tempo Run

Oh, Nutella how I love you!!!! I rediscovered Nutella back in June on a family vacation to Italy. There is nothing like starting your day with a little Nutella =). I had some for dessert Friday night before my awesome 18 mile run, so I decided at the grocery store on Sunday to splurge on a jar. That beautiful jar cost almost $10. So, it is hidden away from the rest of the family because I'm scared it could be gone in a week if others are allowed to enjoy it as well. So far I've discovered it's great on pretzels and toast!

It's tempo run Tuesday. The first half of my run was great!! Unfortunately my right calf cramped up on me half way through mile 3. So, I stopped and walked for a little bit, and iced it when I got home. Around lunch time yesterday I realized that I had done a very poor job of stretching since Saturday's run, but I still didn't do anything about it. Lesson learned!! Stretching has made such a difference in my training this time around! I've really started getting into yoga, and have made strength training a big priority. I'm tired of getting hurt, and I'm ready to start working on speeding up. I did decide to skip lunges and squats today and just do some core and arm strengthening. No since in pushing my calf. We'll see how it does today and then make a decision about tomorrow's run. I'm sure being on my feet for so long yesterday didn't help anything either. So here's the low down:

distance: 4 miles
total time: 36:47
average pace: 9:11
mile 1: 8:13
mile 2: 8:13
mile 3: 8:13
mile 4: 9:52

Also here's a link to one of my favorite core workouts from one of my favorite blogs:

And my favorite post run 15 yoga flexibility stretches are available on iTunes:
Yoga for Runners: Express Flexibility Workout with Kimberly Fowler

Saturday, September 12, 2009

18 mile run

As I type this I'm sitting in front of the TV watching old US Open matches (another rain delay) and enjoying a chocolate green monster smoothie. I haven't had one in a little while and it taste sooooo good after this morning's run. Plus I put some Dark chocolate Luna recovery smoothie mix in. Good for the body! So it turns out that my breathing problems were not from allergies. Apparently I was having an allergic reaction to a new Burt's Bees body lotion I was trying (sorry Burt's). Friday morning was pretty tough. Lots of itching, hives, and swelling throat. Needless to say I took a second shower and got it washed off and went back to a body lotion that I haven't had any problems with. It feels so good to be able to breathe better!!

So, I woke up feeling really good this morning! To be honest I wasn't really worried about this run, which is odd because I got a little nervous before our 16 mile run. It turned out to be awesome! I got up the most difficult hill I think I've ever run (Johnson Ferry between Columns and Powers), which was a huge confidence boost. I wasn't out of breathe or anything. Just running calmly up the hill. It's about effort not pace has become my mantra going up hills lately and it's really helped.

I started getting tight around mile 15 or so, which hurt some (lets be honest 26.2 miles is going to hurt, but feels so good when you're done). So I took some extra salt packets today, 4 total. Seems a little excessive I'll admit, but it was humid out even if it was a little cooler and I was sweating pretty good. But I did it, and I did it with a decent time even though I was taking it slow. Our staff coordinator met us at the top of the final hill with beaded necklaces, a sort of faux Tiffany's finishers medal experience for rocking 18 miles. She's also making the course highlights for the sites we'll come across during the race in San Francisco. Pretty cool. We ran past signs for the start line in Union Square, Fisherman's Wharf, and the Great Highway. It's hard to believe that we're only 5 weeks away from the race! Next week is a recovery week (lower mileage), and then we tackle 20 miles, our longest training run for the race.

But for now it's back to the smoothie and relaxing!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Does Muscle Memory really exist?

Ah, fall is in the air!!! Unfortunately, so are the fall pollens. One day I will be able to breathe again. Fortunately it didn't bother me too much during my weekday runs. I discovered something very interesting yesterday on my 10 mile run, I like hills! Yes, I know how crazy it sounds, but I actually found myself looking forward to the uphill climb, and let me tell you, they don't call my neighborhood Collier Hills for nothing! It's making me feel much better about tackling the hill on the Nike course. Everything keeps telling me that I'm crazy for running in San Francisco with all of their hills, but honestly, I think Atlanta may be one of the best places to train. Plus we're tackling the Johnson Ferry hill out on the river again this Saturday. I think I'll be ready.

My legs actually feel soooo much better than they did last week. I started getting really large knots in my calves especially in my left leg. So, I bit the bullet and got new orthotics for my every day shoes. I've liked the ones I got for my running shoes last month, so I went ahead and got the same brand for my casual shoes too. They're awesome. The brand is called Aetrex Lynco orthotics ( They've made a huge difference!!!! The knots are gone, and my knee and hip feel sooo much better. I can't recommend them enough! If you need orthotics you should definitely check them out. You can find the sports ones at the Big Peach Running Co. ( or at the Walking Store.

Practicing has been very interesting this week. I've been kind of mad at myself for not getting my act together sooner and doing better on my audition. There's nothing I can do about it now, but I change for the future, which is what the plan is. I'm starting to wonder if the idea of muscle memory isn't just made up. Who came up with this idea? Whenever I try and follow it I just end up back in the land of mediocrity. I don't like being there, and I've started paying a lot more attention to things. I can't doing anything based on feel anymore. The more I listen the more I realize that "muscle memory" is letting me down. Plus most of the time when something sounds good it's feels really strange. So, I'm reprogramming myself to go off of sound and not feel. We'll see how this little experiment goes after I have my next lesson. Until then it's back to the practice room...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Birthday & Tempo Run

Ah, I think my weekly tempo run at my goal race pace is quickly becoming my favorite run of the week! This morning's was more challenging than last week's, but after uploading the run I discovered why. It was a bit faster than the 9:00 minute per mile pace I was after =). So, here it is:

4.12 miles
36:19 total time
8:48 average pace per mile
1st mile 8:13
2nd mile 8:13
3rd mile 8:13
4th mile 7:02

Like I said, it was a bit faster than I was expecting to go, especially with the fall allergy season starting up (maybe it's pent up energy since my last run was Friday, or maybe it's because today is my birthday). I also got to run with my super awesome new Nike+ sportsband (thanks Mom!!!).

I honestly did not expect to go that fast. It was a good challenge though. Maybe it's all of the yummy food I've been eating celebrating my birthday (Seasons 52 and Flip Burger Boutique. Such a happy tummy). Or maybe it's some of the new strength training I've been trying. Who knows. I do feel really good heading into our 18 mile run this Saturday. Now I just need to figure out a route for tomorrow's 10 mile run...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Sometimes Progress is Slow

This was a topic that came up a few times with our 16 mile run last Saturday, and as I have come to discover time and time again, it is applicable to my violin playing as well. Last night I had an audition for a local group in Atlanta. I had high hoped for my audition. I had a really good lesson Sunday morning despite being half asleep (let me tell you there is nothing like having someone who plays with one of the top major symphonies in the US tell you that you sound good!). My practicing the past couple of days had been really good and most importantly consistent! A couple of weeks ago I finally started to make a break through with my playing, which was making me feel really good. It seemed like things would finally turn around. I remembered to eat!! However, I still didn't make it past the first round. To be honest, this was not surprising to me. I knew based on what I had done in the audition that it was not as good as what I could have, and have done getting ready for the audition. At least this time I don't want to chuck the violin at a wall! I feel good because I know where I need to go and what I need to work on. So what is that? Well, I think it's two things.

The first thing has started getting better over the past couple of weeks is my bow. I'm getting a more consistent and powerful sound. It's all in how you move your arm, and what muscles you're using. I'm getting there!! It's a good start. I think part of the problem with the audition is that I'm still not confident that the new sound will come out when I play. I was listening to one of the girls that made it to the next round (it wouldn't surprise me if she won, she sounded great), and wanted to sound like her so much. It was such a great, confident, powerful sound. And I knew that my goal was to get my bow under control and become good friends with it.

All of this leads into the second thing, consistency! It's been a long road, and the past couple of days have been super encouraging (not just practicing, but also from great friends!). See, I got injured in high school and had to stop playing for a while. I had a series of teachers who got very frustrated with me, and were not encouraging. Most of the time was I told I shouldn't be a violinist. All I have to say about all of that is that if you don't actually teach me how to do something I'm not going to be able to do it. And as always assuming that someone else has taught it to me is a mistake! Fortunately, I've had some pretty great teachers over the past 8 years, and through process have completely relearned how to play the violin. See no one has ever stressed consistency. Now I'm learning how important it is, and what it can do for me in situations like auditions. I'm getting there!! So next time people better watch out! I'm throwing down the gloves to do some pretty serious work, and I'm not stopping until I get what I want!!