January 31, 2010

Romeo's 4 Miler (Race Report)

Saturday morning marked my first race of 2010, Romeo's 4 Miler, the first of 3 races in the UCSB Running Series. My roommate Jordan and I got up bright and early to headed to campus because she still had to register. It was a gorgeous day and perfect for running, so we were pretty excited. Team In Training had a tent set-up so we headed there, and Erin, the team manager, asked us if we'd "dress up" for the run to promote TNT. We were both up for it, and ended up sporting a purple tutu (me) and a green feather boa (Jordan)! It was actually a lot of fun and we got a lot of great comments throughout the day on our outfits : )

 The race started at 9am, and consisted of 2 loops around the campus lagoon. I'm pretty familiar with one half of the lagoon as I run it regularly, but the other side was a bit more mysterious. And by mysterious, I mean hills, trails, potholes, and mud. For the most part it was a beautiful and fun course, but charging up those hills on the first loop pretty much killed me. We were aiming for 9:something miles, and started out a bit too fast, which caught up to me on the second half of the race, and forced us to walk those hills. Even though I could have done a bit better, I still made my goal of a sub-40 min finish, and 3 of our 4 miles were at sub-10 min pace. I ended up finishing in 38:53 despite fading on the last couple miles.
Here's a video of the course!

In hindsight, I think there were a couple factors that affected my time, the first being my run the previous night. I did 3.5 miles at 9:00 min/mi pace, so I was really pushing it, but I felt ok after. Later that night I helped a friend move, carrying heavy boxes and things up and down stairs. By the time I went to bed Friday night I was pretty pooped, and my 7:30am alarm did not come easily. I've run 4 milers faster on my own so I know I'm capable of better, but it was still a great race and a lot of fun.


After the race we hung out for a while to man the TNT tent and watch the couples' relay and kids' run. Then they started announcing the winners and some team awards, and imagine our surprise when they announced that Team In Training had won most creative team! So Jordan and I trooped up to the stage in our tutu and boa and I gave an impromptu blurb on TNT. I was so excited to win something at a race, even if it had nothing to do with running!

January 29, 2010

Mind Over Matter

Tonight was one of those times where getting myself out there was way more challenging than the actual running part. After a long day of work I was tired, and I had promised a friend I would help her move. It would've just been so easy to skip my run, but after doing that twice this week after long days of class (fail!), it just felt like it was becoming a trend. Of course it's always easier to just relax after a long day, but I literally am in a better state of mind on days when I run, which really makes me wonder, then, why do I ever skip my runs? And even more reason to run, I have a marathon in 49 days! Oh, right, that : )Ultimately, though, I'm proud of myself for getting out there tonight. I rocked my 3.5 miler with an average 9 min/mi pace and felt great, during and after. No shin pain either! Hopefully I can get a good night's sleep tonight because tomorrow kicks off my 2010 racing schedule with the UCSB Romeo's 4 Miler : ) Considering that my shorter runs have gotten speedier lately, my goal is to finish sub 40 min, but ideally I'm hoping for ~37 min. I guess we'll see! Happy Friday!

January 28, 2010

Mud Maze + Core

My roommate Jordan and I went for a short 5k run tonight, only to realize once we had started that the trail we were headed to would be a muddy mess from yesterday's rain. We were definitely not disappointed, a good half mile was spent maneuvering around puddles and trying not to fall. In the end it was actually pretty fun, and we were treated with a gorgeous sunset near the end : )

After our run we did a core workout, courtesy of RunnerDude. Ever since I saw this workout a while ago I've been meaning to try it...I even bought a 6lb medicine ball back in December, which had yet to come out of it's box. Considering that I don't really do these kinds of workouts, I don't know what to say about it except that it was tough! Jordan and didn't make the 20 reps for every exercise, but we did what we could and definitely felt the burn. Also, inspired by this post by Chic Runner, we did some exercises to tone up our buns : ) I'm actually looking forward to being sore tomorrow!

January 25, 2010

Going 'Green'

The 13 miler Tom and I had planned for this morning ended up turning into a 9 miler because he caught a pretty bad cold. Lucky for me, though, Stacey was willing to join me. There's a very good chance I wouldn't have done anything if it had been just me. Since Stacey was in Arizona coaching our TNT team at the P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Marathon last weekend, she did a fair bit of running and was still recovering, so we shortened it a bit and just did 9. Looking at the big picture, this was probably a good idea considering my shin splints which, by the way, have been feeling much better. It took us both a few miles to warm up and get in the zone, but we finished strong and averaged 11:00 min/mi. The route we ran was a little impromptu but it ended up being incredible. We found ourselves running on a narrow little road winding through the lemon groves and avocado orchards, with the Santa Ynez Mountains in the background and a bright blue sky above us. After our week of nonstop rain, everything just seemed really fresh and green. Just looking back at the pictures puts a huge smile on my face : )

After our run I made a quick stop at the local Farmer's Market then went home and took a long, much needed nap. I have back to back races the next couple weekends, a 4 miler and a half. I'm excited for both, but mostly just to be racing again!

p.s. My ice burn looks much, much better! It's still pretty tender, but no permanent damage : )

January 23, 2010

Ice Burn

This past week I've been trying to take my running a bit easier because of my shin splints. My roommate, who recently signed up with Team In Training, has started running, so we ran together a couple times at a nice easy pace. While my legs felt better at a slower pace, there was still some noticeable tightness and pain : /  I thought I was being good by icing my shins after our run Friday, but it turned out to be a little counterproductive. Somehow, the ice packs actually burned my skin! Yes, I did put them directly against my skin, but that's always what I've done. And I only had them on for like 20 minutes! When I took them off there were a couple spots that had gone really numb, but I figured they would just "thaw out" in a bit, so I hopped in the shower. Big mistake...I thought my skin was on fire! When I finished, I noticed that I now had massive red welts covering both lower legs. Today they are still very tender and have even blistered a bit. Kind of a bummer that something that was supposed to make things better actually just made things worse : /

This past week was more hectic than I'd anticipated and I was more tired than usual, but I'm glad I got in the workouts I did, especially considering the nonstop storm that wreaked havoc in Southern California all week. I had a couple easy 3.5 milers with my roommate (who is doing great for a beginner, I'm so proud!) and went swimming again. Tomorrow Tom and I had a 13 miler planned, but he's sick so it looks like my other running buddy Stacey and I will be doing a modified long run of ~10 miles. I also signed up for my next race, the UCSB Romeo's 4 Miler next Saturday. It's been a while since I've done a short race so I'm pretty excited. Then the following weekend Stacey and I will be running the Surf City Half down in Huntington Beach! I'm just crossing my fingers and toes that my shin splints get better soon.

January 20, 2010

A Case of the Shin Splints

Yes, I have shin splints. To be honest, until now I had no idea what they were, except a common occurrence amongst runners. I'd  been having some pain and lasting soreness in my lower legs both during and post-run the past couple weeks which culminated in my legs seizing up so badly on my 5k run Saturday night that I could barely finish, and afterward could barely walk. Yeah, ouch. I stretched out and tried to massage what I thought were just tight muscles, running along the inside of my shins. I massaged to the point of seeing stars, only to then feel like I had bruises all along my legs. I Googled my symptoms and sure enough, after reading a description of shin splints, I self-diagnosed. I can even take a stab at the cause: running at a much faster-than-usual pace for the past 3 weeks.

I know shin splints are common and not exactly a "real" injury, like a sprain or fracture, but I was nervous nonetheless. All the websites I went to all said the same thing about recovery: rest, rest, and rest. Well, in case anyone has forgot, I'm supposed to be running a marathon in 59 days! I had my long run planned for Sunday morning, and decided I would at least give it a shot before counting my losses. I met up with Tom and explained my predicament, and after agreeing that is sounded like shin splints, he reassured me that I could get through it with some exercises, ice, and meds. Before taking off on our run, I did 3 sets of the exercises he described. I had also popped a couple ibuprofen that morning and hoped those would help as well. We intended to do an easy 11 miler, and as we set out, to mu surprise, I was pain free! In fact for the entire run, not only were my shin splints not a problem, but we also kept up an awesome pace for us considering the distance - 10:15 min/mi : ) I was definitely in a better mood post-run considering I would no longer be sidelined from my training.

Now for a funny little story. Whenever we stop to stretch, take a Gu, wait for a light, etc. I usually stop my Garmin so it doesn't throw off my pace. But occasionally, I've been known to forget to start it again...oops! Well Sunday was one of those times, and I didn't even realize it until an entire mile had gone by! So when we finished, my watch said 10 miles...this was clearly false information, and I wasn't about to let our run be under-recorded, so I made up that mile...by driving circles around an empty parking lot! It's actually not that easy, either, to maintain 6mph for that long - it feels a lot slower when you're driving! But I wasn't about to short myself a mile : )

Right after we finished our run we were hit with the torrential storm we were promised, supposedly to last all week. As of today, it's been going strong, flooding streets and taking down streets. I actually enjoy storms, except when I have to go somewhere, like class : / I'm hoping if things keep up I'll get to run in the rain, one of my favorites! Tonight Jordan and I hit the pool for a quick workout of 250m normal, 250m legs, then 250m arms, followed by a much anticipated dip in the hot tub : )

January 14, 2010

Lovely night for a swim : )

 As I mentioned briefly in my previous post, I have started swimming! Last night my roommate and I headed to the RecCen pool for our second workout. Now since neither of us really know what we're doing, it wasn't what you could call a serious workout...but it was difficult nonetheless! We started out with 10 laps (one lap being 25m, although this may not be the proper way of counting laps) alternating free and breaststroke. Then we did 10 laps with a kickboard to work our legs. Next was 10 laps with a leg floatie to work our arms. This last one worked fine for freestyle, but felt quite awkward with breaststroke...probably because we were doing it wrong! We ended with a 4 lap cool down, bringing our workout total to 850m! This is an increase from my first swim so I feel pretty happy with myself. We ended our evening with a soak in the jacuzzi, which may just be the real reason we've taken up swimming : )

January 13, 2010

A little bit of this, a little bit of that!

In the interest of condensing posts (since I've been a lazy blogger of late), I'm just going to combine them into one long post. Bare with me!

2010 Races/Goals

This year is going to be an interesting and busy year running-wise. You can check out my race schedule (as of now) to the right. Lots of halfs, a few marathons, and a smattering of smaller races. I chose most of these races for specific reasons. Surf City, San Francisco, and Long Beach will complete the California Dreamin' Series. UCSB also has a three-race series which includes a 4 miler, 5 miler, and 10k. As for marathons, I have a rather lofty goal, if all goes according to plan. I've decided to make CIM in my hometown of Sacramento my fall marathon. But I also applied for the NYC Marathon, and if (if!) I get in, I've decided to go for my dream of qualifying for the Marathon Maniacs by running 3 marathons in 3 months! I would run the Long Beach full instead of the half in October, NYC in November, and CIM in December. But again, this all depends on one big IF! I know NYC is super hard to get into via the lottery, so I'm trying not to get my hopes up : )

I also have a few goals for these races. For marathon No. 3 in LA, my goal is still to finish sub-5 hours. Training-wise I was ready to do this at SBIM, but the running gods had other plans : / By fall, however, I would like to get down to 4:30-4:45. Again, I really think I am capable of this, I just have to put in the time and effort. As far as halfs, my ultimate goal is to finish sub-2 hours. Considering that my PR right now is 2:17 though, I'm gonna take baby steps and make my goal for this year 2:10 (10 min/mi pace). Then there's the speed demon also known as the 5k. My goal for this year is 25:XX. I've been running much faster than usual on my shorter weekly runs lately, so I think this is possible, especially with some speedwork. Setting goals is always hard for me because I want to find the in-between point of being attainable yet not being too easy that it's not something I have to strive for. Hopefully I've hit the mark for my 2010 goals.


The LA Marathon is in 66 days. I only just did my first long run to kick off my training. A little nervous? Hell yes. But I have to keep reminding myself that I just ran a marathon last month, and although I took some time off after, I still have a solid base to build from for the next one in March. I've been aiming to workout 5-6 days a week, and am just about there. Notice I say workout instead of run...that's because I've recently begun testing out my skills in the pool! Skills is the wrong word...I have horrible form and no endurance whatsoever, but I'm excited to improve and have some cross-training as part of my training (it's about time!). Swimming is great too because it really gives my body a break from the constant pounding of the pavement. My goal is be able to swim a mile by June. I swam 550m my first time, so I'll just about have to triple that, but I'm looking forward to the challenge. Who knows, maybe I'll even make an appearance in the crazy world of triathlons this year ; ) Going back to running though, I've been doing mostly 4 milers during the week, and have been averaging a 9-9:30 pace, which is much faster than normal for me. I've felt pretty good each time, noticeably pushing it but not to the point that I feel like I can't maintain it or I'm going to die. Long runs have pretty much just made their way back onto my schedule. Tom, Stacey, and I have a somewhat accelerated plan to get us up to 20 miles before LA, but I think it's doable. We started off with a 9 miler on Sunday and ran most of it at a 10-something pace. I felt a little more tired than usual, but I think my body just needs to be reminded what long runs feel like. I'm hoping to keep up the consistency over the next few weeks as school, work, etc. gets busier and busier.

Team In Training

As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm now a mentor for the summer season of Team In Training here in Santa Barbara. The season doesn't start until February, so right now we're focused on recruitment.This past Sunday we held a "preview" party that was a lot of fun and pretty successful too, but the best news is from just last night. A few of my sorority sisters had expressed some interest and had come out to the party, but hadn't signed up. But then yesterday they told me they were ready to sign up! I also convinced my two roommates to register, bringing the total to 8 girls from my house! Woot woot! They should call it Gamma Phi In Training : ) I am already so proud of these girls for taking on such an enormous challenge and for doing it for an amazing cause. I was even getting a little emotional listening to them talk about how nervous/excited/scared they were...it reminds me of exactly how I felt this time last year when I was in there shoes, and the incredible journey that followed over the next several months. I'm just so excited for them and I can't wait to be there to cheer them on as each one of them crosses the finish line : )

January 1, 2010

2009 Reflections...

My plan was to post this yesterday, on the last night of 2009...but then my computer went and got a virus. My whole life is on this computer so it was kind of scary, but I was able to fix things with the help of my very smart and technical uncle. Lately I've just had really bad luck with my electronics - I can't use the front of my phone because the unlock key just stopped working, my iPod blew out a couple weeks ago, and then I got this damn virus. Seriously, what's up karma?

Anyway, on to the purpose of this post...reflecting on my running in 2009. For all important purposes, it was my first year as a runner. Let me clarify - I actually ran quite a bit in high school. I played soccer year round and even did cross-country for a couple years as a way to stay in shape for soccer. I would run on my own a bit too, but again it was mainly for soccer and it never exceeded 2 miles. It wasn't until 2009 that I began running for the sake of running, and it was the first time I called myself a runner. In January I signed up with Team In Training and began training for the Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Marathon with a wonderful group of people and fundraising for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I had always wanted to run a marathon, and I had heard that TNT was a great way to do it. I ran my first "official" race in April, the Santa Barbara Chardonnay 10-miler. At that point 10 miles was still pretty far for me, but I loved every minute of it. The race environment I experienced that day made me even more excited for my marathon, but there were still several more months of training left.
The amazing SB chapter of Team In Training!
 SB Chardonnay 10-miler (1:44:18)

As I trained with the Team, my life slowly evolved as well as a result of my running. For the most part I stopped drinking and went out much less than before. My body just didn't want alcohol, and it wasn't exactly conducive to training anyway. Having a long run at 7am on Saturday also made it virtually impossible (or maybe just foolish) to go out a lot on the weekends. My diet changed drastically as I began to see food as fuel, and I began having a water bottle glued to me 24/7. I embraced these changes, however, because running had given me other things that made my life much better. My fellow runners will understand exactly what I'm talking about - the state of mind after a run, the feeling of physical health and well-being, the sense of purpose and accomplishment...it's hard to put into words, but for us runners, it's why we do what we do, day after day, one mile after another.
 Track practice with the Team.
 Swedish relays, my favorite!
 The ocean was the giant ice bath for our Team after long runs : )
 Stretching after running my first 20 miler ever!

I finally ran my first marathon in June and it was by far one of the best experiences of my life. As I ran mile 25 with my close friend Sarah, I just kept repeating, "oh my God, we're about to finish a marathon", over and over. Crossing that finish line, arms in the air, was a surreal experience. There is nothing like finishing your first marathon, and it will be a moment I remember for the rest of my life. My goal was simply to finish, and if possible, under 5:30, and I did just that, with 3 minutes to spare : ) I am forever grateful to TNT, to the people and the program who helped me cross that finish line, I could not have done it without them.
 Nothing like it.
 Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Marathon (5:27:46)

When I got back to Santa Barbara a couple weeks later, our team reunited to run a local 5k as part of a summer running series called Nite Moves. I hadn't run since the marathon, and I wasn't fully recovered, went out way too fast, and my knees paid for it in the end. This was my first official 5k, and I finished in 29:17. During training with the Team we did a few unofficial timed 5ks and based on my time for those, I know I'm capable of better and I'm looking forward to testing out my 5k capabilities soon! Over the summer I ran off and on. I ran my first 10k, the McConnell's Ice Cream Run with Tom and my roommate Jordan. The best part of the race was after, however, because all the finishers got free ice cream!
Nite Moves 5k (29:17)
 McConnell's Ice Cream 10k (1:03:30)
 Jordan and I enjoying our ice cream sundaes post-race!

By this point I had become kind of addicted to running and racing, and in order to stay motivated over those next few months, I registered for my first half in September, the Disneyland Half Marathon. I met up with a fellow TNT alum, Katey, and we had a great race, finishing under our goal of 2:30. After this race I immediately began scouring the internet to find my next. In October I finished the San Luis Obispo City to the Sea Half Marathon setting a new half PR and marking my first race run solo. Back in Santa Barbara, I decided to take on my next big challenge and registered for the inaugural Santa Barbara International Marathon, and began training with my running buddies Tom and Stacey. In November I drove up to Monterey Bay and ran the Big Sur Half Marathon on an unbelievably gorgeous course. I set a new PR and had a wonderful weekend with my mom, visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium and shopping on Cannery Row. I went home to Sacramento for Thanksgiving and ran the enormous Run to Feed the Hungry 5k with my dad. It was our first race together and was so much fun. I'm hoping it will become an annual tradition : )
Disneyland Half Marathon (2:26:28)
SLO City to the Sea Half Marathon (2:24:00)
Big Sur Half Marathon (2:17:50)
Sacramento Run to Feed the Hungry 5k (30:30)

Then December came and before I knew it I was toeing the line of my second marathon, SBIM. I will spare you the details, but it was ugly. I was sick and had to walk/run almost the entire thing, but I pushed myself and crossed that finish line, and for that I am proud of myself. I wasn't anywhere near my sub-5 hour goal, but along the way I adjusted my plans and aimed to at least finish under 6 hours, which I did (just barely!). I know I have it in me, and in March I will once again be running 26.2 at the LA Marathon. My birthday was also in December, and thanks to my amazing dad I became the owner of my first GPS watch, the Garmin Forerunner 405. With that on my wrist I really feel like runner! So far it's amazing, I love being able to know every little detail about my running : )
 SB International Marathon (5:59:05)

Looking back, I accomplished quite a bit for my first year as a runner. I have established a solid base of running and racing and now can focus on getting better and faster in 2010. As much as I want to improve my time and set new PRs, for me the most important part of running is enjoying myself. If I ever find that I'm not having fun, I'll know it's time to reevaluate my training and remind myself why I love to run. I know 2010 will be another great year of running, with just as many ups as downs, but I'm ready for whatever comes my way. Happy New Year to all and here's to a fantastic 2010!