November 30, 2009

6 Days and Counting!

The countdown to marathon Sunday has begun! I really can't believe it's this weekend already... While I was home for Thanksgiving I bought new shoes yet again so I'll have a fresh pair come race day. I switched things up again and this time went with the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 10. Besides changing brands I also went up an entire size and went with extra width. I have Flintstone feet, aka they're really wide, so I needed something that wasn't going to squeeze my feet like sausages. I'm hoping that the extra room will also accommodate swelling while running and hopefully make my toes much happier. We'll see. I tested them out on a 6 miler at home and so far so good! It's amazing what a difference new shoes can make  : )

On a less positive note, I've been having some issues with my calves, mainly the left one. They've been super tight to the point that I can feel huge knots the size of golf balls. I've tried massaging them, rolling them, and even using my dad's electrical muscle stimulation kit, all with little success. I can still run and they're not painful when I walk, just noticeably tight. I'm hoping that with intense rolling, stretching, and massaging they will loosen up by this weekend. Speaking of this weekend, the forecast so far looks interesting:

Few Showers 
Precip 30%

I don't mind running in the rain, but then again I don't relish being soaked for 26.2 miles. Maybe just a light drizzle? On the bright side, it should at least be nice and cool! Low 60s are perfect running temps... My parents fly into Santa Barbara Friday morning, so I'm trying to get as much done as I can this week so I can enjoy race weekend with my folks. This isn't as easy as I'd like, however. This is our last week of classes, which means finals next week and papers, presentations, reading, and lots and lots of studying : / I'm going to try and squeeze in a few easy runs this week but most importantly I want my legs to be fresh for Sunday!

November 26, 2009

Run to Feed the Hungry 5k (Race Report)

Happy Thanksgiving to all!! I'm back home in Sacramento, relaxing, eating, and enjoying time with family. I'm so very grateful for everything and everyone in my life. I really do love Thanksgiving - minus all the turkey eating! For several months my dad and I have been planning on running the huge turkey trot in Sacramento called the Run to Feed the Hungry. Beginning in 1994 with just 800 runners, it's grown every year and today saw 30,000 runners and walkers of every age, shape, and size. The race donates all funds raised to the Sacramento Food Bank, so it truly is a great way to give back while also getting out there and being active. It was exciting to be running a race with my dad, too, and it helped me take it easy and avoid racing it when I'm supposed to be in taper mode : )
 lovely fall colors  : )
the crowded start!

To avoid the problem of parking, my dad and I biked to the start near Sac State, just a couple miles from our house. We got there pretty early and just hung out and took in the incredible crowds of people, mostly families for whom this race is an annual tradition. My only complaints were with organization. The race consisted of a timed 10k, timed 5k, and untimed 5k. My dad signed us up for the latter, which was fine with me, except that this group also included walkers and those with baby joggers. Even though I wasn't racing, it still really sucked to get stuck behind walkers or weave in and out of people the entire race. The course was great though, and the time seemed to fly by. My dad has been doing 11 minute miles at the gym, so that's what I was expecting, so imagine my surprise when we pass the first mile marker and my clock says 10:00! We managed to keep that up the whole race, bringing us in at 30:30 - not too bad! I'm really proud of my dad for having such a great race!
me & dad
 all finished! time for food!

Overall it was a lot of fun, and such a great way to start out Thanksgiving! I'm kind of bummed that we never did it before. I have have a feeling, however, that it might just become a family tradition for us as well : ) So now it's time to eat and eat some more, and spend this wonderful November day with the people I love so dearly. Again, Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families!!

November 23, 2009

20 Miles in the Bag

Yesterday Tom, Stacey, and I headed out bright and early for our last long run before the inaugural Santa Barbara International Marathon. Waking up at 5am was certainly not fun, but I was kind of excited to finally knock out the 20 miler. For me, this run is almost more of a challenge than the marathon itself. It lacks the energy, crowds, adrenaline, and motivation of a race, elements that for me make the miles tick by, almost unnoticed. Also, it essentially proves to me that I'm ready for the marathon. Knowing that I can do 20 is a huge confidence booster, and makes the last 6.2 a mental game that I'm now ready for!

We met at Stacey's house in Goleta and her husband kindly drove us out to Montecito. Tom and Stacey had mapped out a route so that we would do a point-to-point back to her house! Even now, I still can't believe that we ran all the way from Montecito to Goleta! It was nice and cool for the first 10 miles and they passed by with good conversation and good scenery. We ram along the coast for a bit then up State Street, window shopping as we ran. Then State eventually turned into Hollister and Santa Barbara turned into Goleta. I've found on longer runs that the first 10 miles for me are actually harder than the second 10 miles. Maybe it just takes me some time to get into my "zone", but it was the same in my first marathon and yesterday's run.

My body started protesting around mile 14 with throbbing hips and knees and tender feet and toes, but it wasn't so bad that I had to stop. In fact it felt better to run than to walk! I did take that as a sign, however, that it is once again time for a new pair of shoes. We made a few stops to get water and Gatorade to refuel and to use the restroom, but other than that, we were pretty strong running-wise, taking fewer walking breaks than in previous runs. The last mile was pretty tough, but I think it was all mental. I think no matter what distance you decide the run, the last mile is always tough because you know it's the last. If we had been running 22 instead, I probably wouldn't have been dying until mile 21. Hopefully this will hold true in the marathon!

After the run we stretched out on the lawn in the warm sun while Stacey's husband made us a wonderful breakfast complete with eggs, hashbrowns, bacon (not for me, of course), and fruit salad. Yum!! Sunday night my sorority had our Fall formal, Initiation Ball, downtown at the Maritime Museum. The theme was Roaring '20s (it was a day full of 20s!) so it was fun to dress up, and it was a beautiful venue along the Santa Barbara wharf, but I was so tired it was hard to fully enjoy it. And my legs didn't even let me consider dancing!

I'm so glad our training has finally reached it's peak because that means now it's time to taper for 2 weeks! This is my favorite time of marathon training, and I think many runners will agree. It's a good feeling to know you're physically ready for the race and to let your excitement and energy slowly build for 2 weeks. Thanksgiving is this week (where did the time go?!) so I'll be heading home to Sacramento on Wednesday for a long weekend with family. I seriously can't wait! Thanksgiving day my dad and I will be running a 5k turkey trot, the Sacramento Run to Feed the Hungry. I won't be racing it for several reasons, but it will be my first time running, let alone a race, with my dad and I can't wait! Besides Thanksgiving, I've started putting together my race calendar for 2010, so hopefully I'll be posting that soon. I hope everyone has a fantastic and safe Thanksgiving!

November 18, 2009

Big Sur Half Marathon (Race Report)

The Big Sur Half Marathon this past Sunday was a total blast and a complete success! Not only did I PR by knocking off 6 minutes, but I also got to run one of the most beautiful courses ever, on "the edge of the western world".
I left for Monterey early Saturday morning and met up with my mom, who was driving down from Sacramento to spend the weekend with me and be my personal cheerleader. After checking into our hotel we headed to the expo to pick up my race packet. It wasn't the most impressive expo, but it had some cool vendors. I got a shirt on sale to wear for the race and an entire box of GU...that should last me like 6 months! The official race shirts were long sleeve tech t's, which I love. I also got some new socks, because I seem to lose one of a pair every time I do laundry : /

After the expo we headed to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I have to admit I was almost more excited for the Aquarium than the race! The exhibits were absolutely incredible, especially the jellyfish, my personal favorite. They also had a special exhibit called "The Secret Lives of Seahorses" which was absolutely fascinating. After a couple hours of walking around I was beginning to fade, so we finished up at the Aquarium and headed to an Italian restaurant to carbo load on some pasta. Finally we made it back to the hotel and man was I exhausted! Definitely wasn't looking forward to my early morning alarm...

I got ready in a daze Sunday morning and then we headed to the start near the wharf. It was absolutely freezing! So much so that I actually just wanted to start running to warm up! We only waited about 20 minutes til the gun went off, then I handed my jacket to my mom and made my way to the start line. The first couple miles I felt really good, other than not being able to feel my hands. I started out with a 10 min/mi pace, and actually felt like I could keep it up. Around mile 3 we ran down Cannery Row while being serenaded by a piano player. This was just one of many moments during this race that brought a smile to my face. Mile 4 brought us into the beautiful neighborhood of Pacific Grove where we encountered our first "rolling hills" of the race. Finally by mile 5 we were along the craggy edge of the Monterey Bay, with waves crashing and birds squawking. at mile 6 I saw my mom, but despite my yelling in her face, she somehow missed me! It was an out-and-back course though, so I saw her again at mile 9 : ) Speaking of, this was my first race that wasn't run point-to-point, and I loved seeing the elites fly past me on mile 10 while I was only at mile 5!

I started to get a little tired around mile 7, and my pace had dropped to about 10:30ish. No big deal, but I still wanted to be consistent and finish strong. We finally reached the turnaround at 8 miles (I love that it was more than halfway!) and at mile 9 I saw my mom again, and this time she was ready for me. As I passed her I yelled back that I was ahead of schedule so she hurried off to the finish line. The course entertainment was really cool, with drummers and jazz bands adding a unique element to the race. On the way back I had a quick chat with another runner who was a local and annual runner of the half, and she told me "as soon as you see the big pink building along the wharf, you're there!". So I kept my eyes peeled for pink from that point on. The last few miles were pretty tough. I knew I was going to PR, but I wanted to knock off as much time as possible. I focused on one foot at a time, and when we reached Cannery Row for the second time, I knew I was close. The last mile was the hardest, but as soon as I saw that finish line the adrenaline kicked in and I was suddenly sprinting! I saw my mom on the side and fought not to collapse as I staggered through the finish chute. But I had done it! Official finish time of 2:17:50, averaging 10:30 per mile.

I was pretty exhausted afterward and had to lay down for a bit. As soon as a I felt better I took some finisher pics in front of the gorgeous wharf with my sweet new ceramic medal, designed by a local artist. Then my mom and I headed back to our hotel so I could shower and get ready. After checking out, we headed down to Cannery Row for some lunch and some shopping. I was still pretty tired so we only stayed for a couple hours, but I loved it! Monterey is an absolutely gorgeous little town, I would love to come back sometime to visit longer. But since we both had a 3 1/2 hour drive back we cut our afternoon short and started the long drive back. Overall it was a really great weekend. Every time I race I'm reminded how much I love to run and how wonderful the running community is. And I loved being able to spend the weekend with my mom, too. So now only 3 more weeks til SBIM! This weekend will be our 20 miler then 2 weeks of taper before the big day!

November 14, 2009

Playing Catch Up

I haven't posted for a while, so I wanted to give a quick update on my training this past week and also talk about my race this weekend! The 17 miler in the heat two weekends ago seriously kicked my ass, but in a good way I think. Last weekend we decided to take it easy and "only" run 12 miles, partly because I had my sorority's annual Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser to get to that morning, and partly to recover from our last long run. It felt pretty good, and we even kept up a 10something pace! I think my body is adapting to longer runs better than before, which gives me some much needed confidence. We still have the big 20 miler next weekend, but then the wonderful taper begins! I really can't believe marathon no. 2 is just 3 weeks away! Yikes! Speaking of, I have great news - I decided to get my folks plane tickets to come down to Santa Barbara that weekend to be my fans : ) Every runner can attest to the difference it makes to have friends and/or family out there supporting you and cheering for you during a race, so I'm super happy that I get to share this experience with them.

My non-running schedule has remained pretty hectic and it's been hard to be consistent with training, but I did get in some good-quality short runs, including one on my 5k loop that was my fastest time yet on that route! While I really would like to be following my 5-day training plan to the T, I think the most important thing for me is getting in those long runs on the weekend, and I've made sure I fit those in. For me, at least mentally, the most important part of training for my first marathon was overcoming the 20 miler. Once I did that, I felt completely ready to take on 26.2, so I'm hoping it will be the same for round 2 and after next weekend I'll feel ready to go!

Moving on, this weekend I have my third half! On Sunday I'll be running the Big Sur Half Marathon, which is renown for it's gorgeous course along the Pacific Coast. I'm heading up to Monterey early tomorrow morning and meeting my mom, who's driving down from Sacramento to watch! I really just want to enjoy this race, take in the beautiful scenery along the way, and remind myself why I love running. The weather is supposed to be in the 50s which should be great for racing. Of course I still have goals, but I'm going into this with a relaxed attitude and what will happen will happen. Mainly, I just want to finish by 2:30 at least. This is totally doable and a safe goal for me, but faster is always better, too. Honestly though, my time will probably depend on the course. As I've mentioned before, I do NOT do well with hills, so if I encounter a lot on Sunday, you can be sure it will be reflected in my time. It should be a great weekend though. I'm excited to see my mom, get another medal, qualify for Half Fanatics, and visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium : ) So now I'm off to bed because it's far too late and my alarm always comes far too soon! Wish me luck!

November 4, 2009

I'm in a New York State of Mind

Already looking ahead to my running future, today I applied for the 2010 New York City Marathon! For those of you who aren't aware, because this race is so popular it uses a lottery system to select participants. So today I put my name in, and by mid-March I should know whether I was accepted or not. I've always wanted to do New York, it's seriously my dream marathon, so I figured why wait? Wish me luck!!

New Month, New Time, New Run

I can't believe November is already here! Time really does fly by... Sunday marked another long run for Tom, Stacey, and I with a 17 miler, and we are now just 5 short weeks away from the SB International Marathon! That means our long runs are getting up there in mileage, but it's also great to see us getting closer to the peak of out training.

I think I deserve a bit of credit for making it out there early Sunday morning, however. Here in Santa Barbara, or in the college town of Isla Vista specifically, we are famous for our Halloween celebration. I'm talking about 25,000 crazy drunk people dressed in barely there or ridiculous costumes, all crowded into a square mile. It truly is madness, and must be seen to believed. I made the smart (and obvious) choice not to go out Saturday night, but thanks to the unbelievable and unceasing noise, still didn't make it to sleep until about 1am. I lucked out and got another hour of sleep thanks to the end of daylight savings time.

Early Sunday we headed south toward Carpinteria to a place at the base of the Santa Ynez mountains called Lune Point, about 30 minutes away. Since we were running in a somewhat rural place, we drove the route and stashed fluids and gels at mile 7. By the time we got started, and partly due to the time change, it was nearly 2 hours later than when we usually start our runs. This made for a very warm run. It felt like 75 degrees, and this was just in the morning! I don't do well in the heat at all, and much of the route going out didn't have any shade, so it was tough. Other than that, the route was great. As we started out we passed the upscale polo fields, then headed along some lovely quaint roads. A few rolling hills, but mostly flat up to that point. When we reached our stash, I was definitely lagging from the heat and lack of energy. We had about 1.5 miles to go past the stash to the turnaround. This last little stretch was absolutely gorgeous, looking out on orchards and rolling, green hills. Tom snapped a couple pics with his phone, I just wish I had brought my camera! This part also happened to be a pretty drastic downhill, which was great, except that it meant a drastic uphill on the way back! We walked what we needed to get back to flat ground and made another quick stop at the stash to reload and grab everything.

Thankfully on the way back there was much more shade which revived me a bit. With about 2.5 miles to go, Stacey started hurting so she and Tom started to walk a great deal. At that point I was feeling much better and all I wanted to do was finish, so I went ahead on my own, only to realize after losing sight of them that I didn't really remember my way back! I made guess after guess, hoping something would look familiar, and lucky for me I eventually spotted the car! The run was definitely challenging, but when I was done I felt good. We shouldn't be dealing with any heat for SBIM in December, which is a relief. This next weekend we're doing "just" 13 miles as a recovery run, then I have the Big Sur Half on the 15th. Then finally we reach the peak of our training on the following weekend with 20 miles!