Friday, January 29, 2010

Just a spoonful of immunoglobulin

Dog Attack Update

After a failed attempt to locate the dog that bit me last week (to verify its vaccination status or have it quarantined), I began considering the rabies post-exposure prophylaxis shots.  You may have heard horror stories about these shots from the olden days when people used to have something like 10 shots injected into their abdomen.  It's a good thing the method has changed, or I might not have considered getting them.

I had gone to the emergency room the day after the attack, but the ER doc had little information to quell my rabies concerns.  As with most things in life, I was better off doing my own research.  With the help of my rabies mentor, Julie, I found out just how horrible the disease is.  Though my chances of contracting rabies from my dog encounter were very, very low, the consequences of being that one-in-a-million case, were quite grave--certain death.  By the time you start showing symptoms after contracting the virus, you are already dead.  Moreover, the virus can hang out in your body for up to a year (though 30-90 days is the average) before you start to show these symptoms.

On Friday, I decided to contact my regular doctor to get his opinion.  He advised me that the shots were unnecessary because the risk of infection was so low.  He did say, if it was going to keep me up at night with worry, that it wasn't too late to start the series of shots, but I would have to go in to the ER to get the first round.  After asking my Facebook peeps on Saturday morning what they would do, I finally decided I would get the shots.  My rationale was this: there are very few opportunities in life to reduce your risk of death from an infectious disease, or anything else for that matter, to zero by receiving a few shots after you’ve been potentially exposed.

The Long Run

I still had a little matter of a 94-mile week of running to wrap up before venturing in to the ER.  I could tell that the stress of the week was weighing on me, when Saturday, at 3 p.m., I tucked my tired self into bed for a nap while The Genius went off for his 22-mile run.  I arose about 30 minutes later and started gearing up for a run.  I was undecided whether I would go 8 miles (scheduled for Sunday) or 22 (scheduled for Saturday), but I decided I would go out prepared for 22 just in case I felt spry enough to tackle my long workout.  

I started my run at around 4:00 and felt decent during the first 4 miles.  I decided I would just go for 22 and see how my body responded.  My workout was 22 miles total with the following speedwork (all programmed into my Garmin):
  • 10 x 1 mile with 90-second jog rests in between each repeat;
  • within each mile, alternate pace every ¼ mile between 10k effort and goal marathon pace (GMP)

I started this about 5 miles into my run.  I hadn’t done a workout like this before and found it to be difficult to execute well.  If it wasn't so long, this would be an ideal track workout with regular, reliable pace feedback and consistent topography to develop a rhythm.  Doing this on the Bike Trail was challenging with only the chirps from my electronic wrist coach to alert me that I was off pace.  And, I was off pace a lot.  I would inevitably start each repeat with a little Garmin chirp indicating I was going too fast, back off the pace, hear a chirp that I was going too slow, speed up, and then end up being too fast on average as I heard the beeps announcing the beginning of the next ¼-mile repeat.  While I didn’t care much about how slowly I ran the 10k-effort bouts, I knew that it was important in this workout to hit GMP.
By the 7th mile repeat (~13 miles into the run), I was starting to get tired and was concerned about holding GMP at the end of the repeat.  As I ran along, I listed my options in my head:
  • end the speed work after 7 repeats;
  • run the entire mile repeat at GMP; or
  • stop mid-repeat (after a ½ mile), jog for a few seconds and complete the 2nd ½ mile at the prescribed paces. 

I remembered this interview with Kara Goucher where she talked about how her coaches adjust her workouts on the fly when she is having a tough time.  One approach was to just shorten the length of the repeat until she could hit the pace.  So, if she was supposed to be doing mile repeats at tempo pace, but wasn’t hitting that pace, they would make her next repeat 1200m.  If she still couldn’t hold it, then they dropped it to 800m, and so on.  At some point, they would just call the workout and try again the next day.

I didn’t really have the option to try again another day since I was already so far along in the workout.  So, I decided to take a very short jog break after the first ½ mile and resume the same paces in the second ½ of the remaining repeats.  This worked great, and I was able to hold my paces without frying my body.  I still had another 5-6 miles to run home after completing the speedwork, after all, and it was dark and rainy by this point.

When I got home from the run, I downloaded my data and realized that I had overshot on all of my paces, which partially explains why I felt so tired.  I averaged 5:52 for the 10k effort (faster than that, actually, before I started taking the breaks) and 6:08 for GMP.  My overall pace for the 22 miles was 6:46. 

Let the treatment begin!

With my long run out of the way, I was now free to get my rabies shots--on Saturday night at 8:30 p.m. at my HMO’s 24-hour Emergency Room.  While I admit this wasn’t the smartest timing, I didn’t have much choice.  There’s a 72-hour post-exposure window for treatment to ensure the highest effectiveness.  I was staring at hour 96 and needed to get it done.  The Genius accompanied me, and we watched some of Sacramento’s finest being treated for blood clots in their urine, bloody wounds sustained from drunken behavior, gashed heads from falling out of the kitchen cabinet, to name a few.  I felt pretty certain that I was the only person being treated for rabies.

In fact, I may have been the only person treated for rabies post-exposure in this ER in a long, long time.  This was verified when my nurse came in with multiple boxes of the vaccine delivered from the pharmacy and asked, “Am I supposed to give you all of this at once?!”  She continued, “I have never given anyone this much vaccine for anything.  It just seems like an awful lot for someone your size.”  At this point, my eyes were darting around the room looking for a quick exit.  Maybe I had made a bad choice coming here.  I told her that I could look it up on my iPhone, because I was pretty sure there was an app. for that.  I then suggested that it might be best to ask the doctor or read the instructions that came with the package.  Wow.

Dr. Hottie (not his real name) came in and reassured me that I was indeed supposed to get the 7 cc’s of material in the hypodermic needles.  After my initial terror, I warmed up to my nurse when she proved adept at shot delivery.  There were 5 total—4 immunoglobulin shots to boost my immune system plus the first rabies shot.  I got one shot in each deltoid and 3 across the top of my butt.  The needles were super long, but she recognized that she didn’t have a whole lot of fat to poke through to get the needle in contact with my muscle for intramuscular delivery.  She was gentle with me and I actually was hardly sore at all the next day as a result.  Bless her.  She was disappointed when I told her that, while 5 shots at once was a record for her to administer, I had once received 11 in one day (including typhoid, yellow fever, tetanus, flu, etc.) when I lost my military shot record and had to get all of my vaccinations to remain "deployable".

I am happy to report that, aside from a little dizziness following my second and third rabies shots, I have been unaffected by the vaccinations.  I have completed all of my workouts and am nearing the end of a 101-mile week of running.

Thanks to everyone for your advice and concern.  This has been a huge learning experience, and I hope I’ve opened a few eyes to the seriousness of this disease.  Julie suggested that we organize a race for the rabid, but it appears that Michael Scott of Dunder-Mifflin has already done that.  You can get your t-shirt here.  There's also a Facebook page that you can join: Dunder Mifflin Fun Run Race for the Cure for Rabies.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

'Tis but a flesh wound

Last night, in the dark and rain, I was beginning my 4-mile evening run on a main street 1/4 mile from my house when a dog bit me.  I was on the sidewalk and saw a young lady running toward me with two dogs on short leashes.  As a dog owner, I appreciate it when people move over for me (though I typically move my dogs to the side when joggers/walkers approach) so I stepped into the bike lane to allow the trio to pass.  Just as I passed them, I felt a pinch on my left thigh and immediately looked down to see a hole in my tights.  I spun around and yelled to the woman, "your dog just bit me!"  She replied, "No, he didn't."  I then showed her the hole in my tights (from a good distance since I was now skittish about the dogs).  She said, "Oh, he just scratched you.  There's no way he would bite you.  He's not even my dog.  I'll pay for the tights."  I was dumbfounded.  I was expecting an apologetic response, and the defensiveness really threw me for a loop.  I really couldn't see a thing without any light and was getting drenched in the rain.  After trying to get her to recognize the obvious, I finally got so frustrated that I yelled something like, "way to take responsibility for your dog's bad behavior," and left to complete my run.  Now, I wish I had said something more profane.

I got to the nearest street lamp and looked at my wounds.  Two, perfectly spaced holes barely piercing the skin.  It appeared that the dog got more pant than he did leg, which was a relief.   The wound stung every time I took a step, but didn't seem very serious.  It hadn't even dawned on me to take down any information from this girl who didn't own the dogs, and of course this plagued me for the rest of my run.  Was it current on its rabies vaccination?  I couldn't remember seeing these two dogs in the neighborhood before.  How was I going to verify this information?  Could this dog have rabies?

When I got home, I took pictures for documentation and posted them on Facebook.  I started getting posts from runners with similar stories and was surprised at how common this is: not the dog bite part, but the refusal of the owner to accept responsibility.  One of those posts, from JT, came with some valuable information described in her blog.  She had been mauled by a dog a couple of years ago and didn't take the information of the owner either.  She ended up receiving post-exposure prophylaxis for rabies (a series of nasty shots) as a result.  I had no idea how deadly rabies is until I saw this article.  Here's the abstract:

Human infection with rabies causes a severe viral encephalitis that is almost uniformly fatal. Human exposure to rabies occurs primarily via bite wounds from an infected animal with injection of infected saliva beneath the skin. Following any potential exposure, the physician must evaluate the likelihood that an actual rabies exposure occurred based on degree of contact and likelihood that the animal was infected. Once exposure is confirmed, postexposure prophylaxis with immunoglobulin and human rabies vaccine must be initiated immediately. If no prophylaxis is given and rabies encephalitis develops, the only available therapy is supportive care, with progression to multiorgan failure and death in essentially all cases.

So, apparently, you don't mess around when it comes to rabies.  First thing this morning, I called my HMO's advice nurse.  She explained that the only thing she could offer was a one way ticket to the emergency room.  Just then, one of my colleagues popped out from behind a cubicle, having overheard my conversation, and emphasized the importance of getting treatment started quickly.  His wife had been bitten by a potentially rabid raccoon last year and was told the treatment needed to start within hours of exposure.

I was now thoroughly freaked out and accepted that ER ticket.  Luckily, it was a slow day at the ER, and I was seen quickly.  Of course, the doctor had no idea what to do except to offer to treat the "wound" with antibiotic cream and a course of pills.  I told him I could manage the bruising and scratches myself, but that the reason I was there was concerning this small question of rabies exposure.  He had no idea what to do about rabies.   To his credit, he offered to call someone from "Infectious Diseases" for me.  Forty-five minutes later, he got through, and they said that there was no serious concern, based on his description of the incident, of rabies exposure.  I was current on my tetanus shot, luckily, so no shots were required.

I'm now taking antibiotics, just in case Doggie Do-wrong ate cat poop or a rotting corpse before he bit me.  My leg hurts to touch it, and I get a slight stabbing pain when I run, but I will live.  Now that the health threat is behind me, I am pissed off about the hole in those tights.  I really loved them!  I guess I could still wear them.  Maybe I'll sew on a fashionable little patch to cover the damage.  I think it will say, "bite me."

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The double bubble

I am well into the weeds of my latest marathon cycle and am starting to see an increase in both volume and intensity of workouts.  I mentioned the main differences between my past training cycles and this one in this post.  One change was the addition of up to 5 double running workouts during the week. This week is my first 90-mile week, and I had 5 doubles scheduled on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  In my first week of many doubles, I believe I hit the double bubble.

[Nerdy side bar]: Actually, I have run 104 miles in the last 7 consecutive days (this is a fun game I play with myself).  Last week's schedule got a little buggered up, and I ended up doing my 23-mile long run on Sunday.  With 21 miles today (Saturday), I will have a 104 mile "week".  I am always intimidated by my 100 mile weeks and am quite pleased right now with how good I feel.  My body seems to be asking, "is that all you've got?"  To which I retort, "Slow down there big fella'.  There's a lot of asphalt ahead."   

In the past, I've normally done 3 doubles, maybe 4, during my 90-100 mile weeks.  The reason for the double is explained well by Pete Pfitzinger in this article.  I also like that he cautions against the double for most athletes and gives rules for when you should introduce them.  The bottom line is, when you're doing high mileage, two shorter workouts allows your body to recover more quickly than the equivalent mileage lumped into one run.

Since my mileage has gone up along with my intensity, doubles make a lot of sense.  However, they are a pain in the butt to schedule around everything else in my life not to mention that 12 running workouts requires 12 changes of running clothes (I'm not yet willing to recycle clothing from my morning run for the evening run).  I was able to knock out Monday and Tuesday's double days without a major problem, though the 13-mile treadmill workout that I finished at about 8:30 Tuesday night was no fun.  Getting up the next morning at 4:45 for my morning Rave Run with the girlies was even tougher.

There's only so far I can push my body, particularly when it comes to sleep depravation.  I hit that limit Thursday morning when, after going to bed at 10:30, my dog, Tunavicious, decided to throw up at 1 a.m.  I heard the telltale heaving and knew she was on the only square of carpet in the hall way.  Determined to arrive on scene in time to push her onto the hardwood floors and save a carpet cleaning, I jumped out of bed and started pushing her butt forward just as she let go of the last nugget onto the edge and fringe of the carpet.  Sweet.  It was relatively fresh food, and I knew she'd want to re-eat it, so I left her to clean it up (is that gross?).  By the next morning, you couldn't even tell she'd puked.  She's such a good girl.  Nonetheless, the shot of adrenaline that coursed through my body in that few seconds from bed to hall left me restless.  I didn't get back to sleep until 2.  As I tossed and turned, I shut off my 4:45 a.m. alarm and decided I'd be better served by sleeping in.

Thursday's plan had me running 9 miles in the morning (including hill repeats and hill bounds) and 5 (including strides) in the p.m.   Of course, I had to work all day too.  I got up too late to get even the 5 miles in and still get to work on time, so I made a command decision to lump these workouts and run 13 miles in the evening after work.

I also realized that I needed some rules about lumping and splitting workouts to help me make decisions on the fly when necessary.  I know that my coach puts a lot of careful thought into my workout plans to maximize my training and decrease risk of injury.  I sent her a message explaining what had happened and asking for some rules.  Her first question was, "Is there any way you can quit your job for 3 months?  (Just kidding!)"   A running sabbatical.  That's what I need.  She gave me some great advice, as usual, about when it's okay to lump and split and how to go about it.

This week's long run

For today's long run, I had the pleasure of starting off with a large group of women that had gathered to celebrate the "coming of age" (40th birthday) of one of our fellow runners, TP.  I ran 8 miles at a moderate pace engaged in quality conversation with Sprinkles and then headed in for a date with my favorite treadmill, Tready.  My morning workout was 17.5 miles and included:

  • 8 mile warm up
  • 10 minutes up a hill at lactate threshold (LT or tempo) effort;
  • 2 minute jog
  • 15 minutes at 1/2 marathon effort
  • 3 minute jog
  • 10 minutes up a hill at LT effort
  • 2 minute jog 
  • 15 minutes at 1/2 marathon effort
  • 4 strides
As you can see, this one is not really possible to complete on the roads, even if you have a 10-minute hill nearby because of the short rests in between.  So, I ground out 9 miles on Tready.  I generally keep good track of what my settings are on the treadmill when I do hill workouts, so I looked back to a similar workout from last August to get the settings I should use: 4.5% grade and 8.3 mph (7:13 pace).  That turned out to be just about right for today.  I ran the 1/2 marathon effort segments at 6:03 pace and that felt quite comfortable.  Now, I just have another 3.5 miles tonight with 1 mile at goal marathon pace to complete my last double for the week.

My legs will see 94 and 103 miles over the next two weeks, and many more doubles.  I'm going to try to run my plan as written but won't sacrifice (too much) sleep to do it.  My coach's advice was to forgo the second run of the day if there's a choice between running and sleeping.  She told me my body would thank me for the extra sleep by ticking seconds off of my racing times, and I bet she's right.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Number 33

What’s so significant about the number 33?  

It is my 2009 world ranking in the marathon for women over 40 according to  That’s right.  I ran the 33rd fastest marathon time for women over 40 in the world last year (of course, they may have left out some smaller races, but it is the best available data).  According to the same site, I had the 5th fastest marathon time amongst U.S. female masters marathoners.  Crazy.  To think that I would rank in the top 40 in the world at anything that a lot of people actually do seems impossible.  I do rank second in the world (to the best of my knowledge) for the number of one-legged squats (84 squats) performed in a full vernal pool with fairy shrimp in a beaker balanced on one’s head.  But, only a few people have attempted such a feat, so that doesn’t really count.

When I was running my 13th mile on the treadmill last night at 8:30 p.m., thinking about how much it sucked, I thought about that number: 33.  I told myself, “this is what you have to do to be a world-class masters runner.”  I think the people flanking me on adjacent treadmills were thinking something completely different, as I became the human sweat sprinkler about 3 minutes into my workout.

My workouts have been getting tougher and faster this month.  I am in the speed phase of my training plan, and my legs are very aware of the shift in focus.  Strides, hill sprints and plyometrics all feature prominently in my daily runs as do a lot of repeats at 10k effort or faster.
Last Sunday, I ran 23 miles split into two runs (20 + 3). I was supposed to do this workout on Saturday, but a meeting in San Francisco carved 8 hours out of my day, leaving no time to fit in that much running.  I did, however, have time to drink plenty of wine Saturday night (I haven’t yet banned alcohol this cycle).  I was able, luckily, to sleep in Sunday morning, eat a nice breakfast and start my 20 miler at 11:30.

The workout planned within that 20 miles was a familiar one.  I had done it last summer in my build up to Twin Cities.  I love and hate having repeat workouts like this.  I love them because it gives me a chance to really compare my progress across training cycles.  I hate them for the exact same reason, particularly if I look back on the data and realize that I had a fantastic workout with paces that seem currently unachievable.
The last time I did this workout (blogged about here), I was farther along in my training cycle (13 weeks out from my goal race versus 16 weeks currently).  So, I conceded that my fitness might be lagging behind a bit.  My paces during that July workout were definitely on the quick side, so I was nervous about being able to match them this time around.  The workout included repeats of the following length and sequence in minutes: 1, 4, 3, 2, 1, 4, 3, 2, 1, 4, 3, 2 with half jog rests. For example, a 4 minute repeat gets a 2 minutes jog rest.  The paces (efforts to be more precise) were 10k for the 3 and 4 minute repeats, 5k for 2 min., and 3k for 1 min.  In sum, I spent 30 minutes at or faster than 10k effort.
The workout went great.  In fact, I was actually surprised that it was over when I finished the last repeat. Here’s how my paces compared:

July 2009 paces:          January 2010 paces:
10k: 5:55                     10k: 5:48             
5k:  5:40                       5k:  5:44
3k: 5:31                        3k:  5:23

I was especially pleased that my 10k effort was so much faster since the bulk of the workout is spent at that pace.  I now accept this as a harbinger of progress.

Continuing the 10k-effort theme of this training phase, last night, I treadmilled 13 grueling miles including The Rock Circuit with 3½ minute 10k repeats in place of the strides (like last week’s Tuesday workout only with longer 10k repeats).  This penciled out to be 11 x 1000m repeats with strength-building exercises in between.  I resorted to the gym because I didn't want to flop around on the ground during a rain storm.  The gym was full of resolutionists generating enough heat and humidity to provide climate control for a tropical greenhouse.  I was happy I survived but felt like I had lost about a gallon of water after 2+ hours of exercise.  I’m looking forward to doing this workout outside again over the next two weeks if Mother Nature cooperates.

If what I do seems a little crazy, and I hear that all of the time, I say, bring on the crazy. I want to make the top 30 in 2010!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Hello, Mr. Burpee

Today, I was introduced to a new torture technique exercise as part of The Rock Circuit.  My coach directed me to swap out the squat thrusts (performed as shown in The Rock video) with Burpees for a "change of pace".  While I concede that it is a good idea to change things up after doing an exercise for a while, I was sad to see my beloved squat thrusts disappear.  I was getting really good at them.  That's actually a good sign that it's time to change up the routine--when the exercises become easy.  While these two exercises look very similar, the little jump at the end of the burpee made my legs burn.  I was only able to do 20 of them in each set, but I vow to get better!

This morning's workout was intimidating on paper, but it ended up being pretty fun and only slightly torturous.  It was fun because one of my coach's newest athletes and fellow early girlies, Batty, had the same workout as me.  So, we got to flail around on the sidewalk in the dark morning fog together.

My plan was to run a total of 14 miles including The Rock Circuit, but replace the strides with 3 minutes at 10k effort.  So, here's how that looks:
  1. 3:00 @ 10k (distance ~ 1/2 mile)
  2. 30 push ups
  3. 30 fast one-legged squats (each leg)
  4. 3:00 @ 10k
  5. 20 burpees
  6. 75 bicycles (abs)
  7. 3:00 @ 10k
  8. 25 fast one-legged step ups (each leg)
  9. 35 supermans (or is that supermen?)
  10. 3:00 @ 10k
  11. 25 calf raises (each leg)
  12. 40 tricep dips
  13. 3:00 @ 10k
  14. 25 lunges
  15. 30 feet elevated push ups
  16. 3:00 @ 10k
  17. REPEAT  steps 2-16 once more
Basically, this is an 11 x 800+ meter workout with a bunch of taxing exercises thrown in instead of a jog rest.  I wasn't quite sure what 10k effort would be, but I averaged 5:50 pace for the interstitial 10k bouts.  More than anything, this was a super long workout.  I was out running on the roads and flopping around on the sidewalk for 2 hours and 6 minutes total.  And, I have another 3 miles to add on tonight for 17 today.  That's a lot of exercise; 2 1/2 hours for the day not including quiet time with the massageball.

I will see this workout again for the next 3 Tuesday mornings, but the running repeats will become longer: up to 4 minutes at 10k effort.  Bring it!

Friday, January 1, 2010

2010: Here I come!

All in all, 2009 was a good running year for me.  I set lifetime PRs in every distance I ran.  I ran approximately 3400 injury-free miles.  I had 3 great marathon experiences.  Despite the year's successes, I have to say I was happy to ring in the new year and leave 2009, December 2009 to be more specific, behind.

December was a tough month for me as a runner and a human being in general.  I tend to get into a bit of a funk this time of year, anyway, and this year was a doozie.  I want to believe it's some kind of sinusoidal hormonal cycle I go through that has valleys (or maybe they're peaks) mid-summer and mid-winter.  Whatever the cause, these down cycles are no fun.  They do, however, serve a purpose.  For me, that purpose is to experience emotional diversity.  This diversity of ups and downs, happy and sad adds richness to my life.  I don't believe that I have to endure the lows to appreciate the highs.  I just think the lows come with the territory.

Wanting to just be left alone when the lows hit can be a challenge sometimes.  Our society has become preoccupied with happiness to the extent that, if you're not giddy as a loon, you need to be fixed with pills, therapy, or watched to make sure you don't do something drastic.  I'm not belittling depression here.  I do recognize that it is a legitimate syndrome/disorder.  But, while there may be a fine line, I think sometimes people just get the blues and that's okay.

My blue mood certainly affects my running.  I think that non-runners get the impression that runners are on some sort of constant runner's high from all of the endorphins being pumped into our bloodstream.  A run can definitely help boost your mood, but you first have to be motivated enough to get out there and run in the first place.  That's been a challenge these last couple of weeks: getting out the door.  While I always feel better after I've completed my workout, I don't feel any more motivated to do it again the next day.  Don't get me wrong.  I've done every workout as prescribed, but it has been a sincere struggle to get out the door to do them.

I could sit around and try to figure out why this happens, but I don't think that's useful.  It is a cycle, and it will pass.  Actually, in just the last 2 days, I've started to feel the benefits of this recovery week that I'm currently in.  I love the recovery week, because I swear I can actually feel my legs, rather my whole body, get stronger as it absorbs the hard training from the weeks prior.  My mood is also improving, and I'm rapidly approaching "normal".

I completed my first 4 hard weeks of training in December running 72, 75, 82, and 84 miles per week.  I did progressively harder workouts each week and focused on lactate threshold effort/pace.  By the end of the cycle, I was starting to get a good feel for 6:00 pace.  In fact, I like 6:00 pace so much that I plan to focus on it in 2010.  This isn't any kind of New Year's resolution.  It's just something I want to pay attention to.

Two years ago, I did this with 2:47 marathon pace which is 6:22/mile.  That was the pace that I knew I had to run to qualify for the 2008 Olympic Marathon Trials.  When I set that goal, I hadn't yet run a 5k at that pace.  So, I just slowly worked on running successively longer distances at or close to 6:22 pace.  I ran my first:

  • 5k at 6:24 pace in April 2006
  • 4 miler at 6:20 pace in February 2007
  • 8k at 6:19 pace in June 2007
  • 10k at 6:21 pace in September 2007
  • 10-miler at 6:23 pace in September 2008
  • half marathon at 6:25 pace in October 2008.  
Of course, I finally ran a marathon at 6:20 pace in October 2009.  I just chip, chip, chipped away until I got there.

So, now I've set my sights on 6:00 pace.  My goal is pretty basic: to feel easier training and racing at that pace for longer and longer distances.  This last month, I have spent a lot of time with my 6:00-pace friend, running up to 9 (not necessarily continuous) miles in a workout at or faster than that pace.  It is starting to feel more and more doable.  Of course, I have yet to race a 10k at 6:00 pace, so I will start there.

I won't see lactate threshold workouts again until the end of January, so it will be interesting to see how 6:00 pace feels then.  I also have a wealth of heart rate data to geek out over as a check up on my fitness.  Now, that's something to look forward to!

So, here's to a happy (with appropriately spaced cycles of emotional diversity) and healthy 2010!