February 28, 2010

20 Miles - LA, Here I Come!

My training schedule called for 18 today, but what I failed to mention in my last post was that I was secretly considering doing an even 20 miles. Well, I did just that, and solo again, too! I figured it would be easier on me (physically and mentally) to do my final peak long run now, rather than do 18 this weekend and 20 next weekend. Plus, this gives me 2 weeks for taper instead of just the one. LA here I come!

Parts of the run were much harder than others. It was another warm day and I was drenched in sweat within the first 20 minutes. The course I mapped out also had a lot of rolling hills, which were tough in the later miles. And honestly, I was just tired. My legs felt ok, but I just wanted it to be done from the start. Starting from my house in Isla Vista I ran up Storke until it turned into Glen Annie, then following that til the end, passing the gorgeous green lemon orchards at the foot of the Santa Ynez Mountains. I ran this route a while ago, and posted some beautiful pics here. From here I headed along part of the SB Marathon course. I turned around at mile 11 and headed back the way I came, minus the detour on Glen Annie. When I got back to Isla Vista I was at 18.2, so I called my roommate to bike alongside me while I ran loops through the streets until my watch finally beeped 20 miles. That last mile sucked, but I was so happy to be done! I finished in about 3 hours 34 min with an average pace was about 10:40 min/mi, which I'm quite happy with, especially considering I did several walking jaunts up all the hills. However, this doesn't count stopping at lights, to refuel, stretch, etc. when I stop my Garmin. I can't decide if it's better to stop it so I have an accurate record of my running pace, or to let it keep going during these pit stops to simulate a race where the clock never stops. Thoughts?

Isn't it funny how you can keep going during a long run, but as soon as you finish, your body knows and suddenly screams at you and even walking is painful? Story of my life. Just standing killed me! So I headed to the store to pick up a couple bags of ice and had me an ice bath. I must say (at least as of now) that ice baths are miraculous! My muscles feel great considering the mileage, and the throbbing in my joints is gone : ) I think last weekend I didn't have enough ice, but this time I definitely got it right : ) I did, unfortunately, get some nasty chafing. I've been wearing shorts on my long runs, and while I apply Body Glide copiously pre-run, it always seems to wear off by about mile 10. I know I need to reapply mid-run, but I don't want to carry it with me. Hmph.

This morning I also tested out my new headphones for the first time! As I mentioned before, I wasn't feeling the first pair I bought, so I went and exchanged them for a pair of over-the-ear Nike Flow sport headphones. I love how flexible and lightweight they are. During the first mile, they fell out a couple times when I bumped the cord (which is super long) but once I tucked it into my fuel belt, no more problems. The sound quality was good enough for me, but not stellar if you're only buying them to listen to music. But for running, they work quite well and look quite sporty.

 Finally, I've bought a few new running-related things (Born to Run, iFitness fuel belt, and Recovery Socks) that I'm going to be posting reviews on soon so keep an eye out!

February 27, 2010

Rain or Shine : )

Good evening! This morning we had a 50 minute TNT training run, starting in Montecito - in the pouring rain!! It was actually a lot of fun, though! I've always loved running in the rain. It just feel so fresh and invigorating : ) The course was nice and flat and took us right up to the ocean. The tide was so high though that there was absolutely no beach! 
I ended up coming in just under 5 miles, so I added on a bit on my own to make it an even 5 : ) All 11 of my girls made it out at 7am and I'm so proud of them all! Training for a marathon while being a full time college student (especially at a social school like UCSB!) is not easy, so hats off to them!

TGIF + Week in Review

TGIF!! I've been kind of lazy this week in terms of blogging...and it's been one of those weeks where there just isn't enough time in the day. Between work, school, running, etc., I couldn't be more happy that the weekend is here : ) Tuesday was TNT track night. Another fun workout, we did 1x400 at 85% effort and 1x800 at 75% effort. I managed a sub-8 min/mi pace for the 400m, and was perfectly consistent on each lap of the 800m. We ended up doing an even 3 miles by the end of the night.

Wednesday was a busy day, but I squeezed in a quick 4 miler in between work and a friend's birthday dinner. The route I ran on campus was quite muddy and full of puddles, but it was beautiful nonetheless. Unfortunately, for some reason my shin splints flared up again during the run. After I didn't have any time to do anything with them, but they feel ok now so I'm keeping my fingers crossed. That evening a bunch of my girlfriends and I got dressed up and went out for sushi to celebrate the 21st birthday of my sorority "little sis" Elaine. So much fun!

Thursday was a swim day! We didn't get to the pool until about 8pm, so I was pretty tired, but I ended up swimming a new distance personal best - 1000m! We started out with a 500m (although I have to mention that I still don't have the endurance to swim this straight - many quick breaks are taken between laps!). Then we moved on to 200m of legs, then 200 of various arm drills, and finally a 400m cool-down. By the end I was absolutely exhausted! I can't wait to get better, but I'm definitely a little impatient. It's a bit frustrating when I can run as long as I do but I can barely swim a few laps without stopping. Humph.

In other news, my headphones called it quits this week, so I had to invest in a new pair. I got the wrap-around style, but I'm still on the fence in deciding if I like them or not. Maybe it's just the kind I got, but I'm just not feeling them, so I might be returning them this weekend. Also, after hearing so many people rave about it, yesterday I ordered the book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, and I'm so excited to read it! It's gotten really good reviews, and I'm also eager to read more on the barefoot running front. Look for a review when I finish it! Finally, it looks like this Sunday is going to be another solo long run - this time an 18 miler. My friend Courtney, who did 14 miles with me a couple weeks ago, was going to run with me, but unfortunately she's got a nasty cold : ( I know that I'm capable of doing the mileage, but I was sort of looking forward to the company. I'm also crossing my fingers for some decent running weather this weekend...right now it's POURING!!!

February 21, 2010

16 Mile Solo Run

Not only was my first solo long run this morning a success, but I actually ran all 16 miles that I had scheduled!! I really wanted to have a good, long run today - I think I needed it mentally, considering that the LA Marathon is in just 27 days. I definitely had my doubts, though. I've never really ran more than 9ish miles by myself, so 16 seemed like it wasn't going to happen. Even as I was good way into my run, I still didn't know how far I was going to run. In the end I did all 16 though and I couldn't be happier or more proud of myself!

I decided to sleep in a bit and didn't set out until 9:15am. The weather was gorgeous with clear, sunny skies, but that also meant hot! I was pretty much drenched in sweat from the get-go. I ran from my house onto a trail on the edge of the UCSB campus, then made my way down to the UCSB lagoon. From there I ran along another campus trail on the edge of the bluffs above the beach, taking me down to Goleta Beach. All this was only about 3 miles. The majority of my run was on the Obern Trail, just inland and parallel to the coast. Lucky for me there was a decent amount of shade along the trail, and a nice breeze also picked up at this point.

When I reached the end of the trail, I was at 7 miles. I figured since I'd already ran that far, I'd go a little further and see if I could get to 8, making it an even 16. So I ran on rolling hills up to where the road met the freeway, adding on another 0.7 miles. I took a short stretch break then decided to turn around there and run the pier when I got back to Goleta Beach to make up the extra distance. It's weird, but after I turn around, my run gets easier both mentally and physically. Maybe seeing everything again allows me to know how much more, where I am, etc.? I did start to fade a little between miles 9-10, right about the time I was also on my last few sips of water. I saw some girls washing a car so I stopped and asked to fill up from their hose. Not the best tasting, but it did the trick.

Back at Goleta Beach I stopped again to fill up my handheld at the restaurant there, and then ran to the end of the pier. Man was it windy out there! By then my Garmin said 13.2 miles. I took another another short break to stretch, then headed home the way I'd came. Even with a few walk breaks I managed an average pace of 10:40 min/mi! This is perfect to get me a sub-5 hour finish at LA : )

I'm pretty sore after, but surprisingly it doesn't feel quite as bad as after last weekend's 14 miler. I've decided recently to be more proactive in terms of recovery, so after my run this morning I took my first ice bath! I don't think I've quite got the method down though since my ice melted pretty quickly and I was left with just really cold water. A couple weeks ago I also bought my first pair of the Recovery Sock, so I threw those on, too (look for a review of the socks soon! And of course, I popped a few ibuprofen. Hopefully all this will payoff and I won't be hobbling too much come tomorrow : )

Hope you all had a great weekend. I'm pretty pooped from the last 2 days of running so it's definitely time for a nap!

p.s. Official results were posted for my 5k yesterday...and although my Garmin said 26:57, my official time is 27:00. It wasn't chip timed, so I figured it would be a close call. I'm a little bummed, but in light of my run today I can look past it!

February 20, 2010

Roses en la Playa 5k (Race Report)

This morning was all about running. I had TNT training at 7am and ran for 40 minutes, finishing 4 miles, and then I had to hurry downtown for a 5k I had signed up for, Roses en la Playa. As I mentioned in my previous post, I haven't really had a great opportunity to test my capabilities on the shorter 5k distance. Especially since my pace has been getting faster on my shorter training runs, I was curious to see what I could do. After the 4 miler, however, I was a little tired and wasn't sure how much I'd be able to push it. I got to the start at Leadbetter Beach 15 minutes early and got ready. Luckily the weather decided to cooperate this morning and we had blue skies with a nice cool breeze, perfect for running : ) It was a pretty small field of runners, I would guess under 200, which actually made it a lot less congested than usual. 
Starting at Shoreline Park, the first half of the race is all uphill, and as I got going, I felt a bit sluggish. When I finally reached the turnaround, I was on pace for a PR, but my real goal was to finish in 26:XX, so I charged the downhill on the second half. As I came into the final stretch with about 0.2 left, I glanced at my Garmin and saw 26:00, so I dipped into my remaining energy stores and sprinted to the finish! When I stopped my watch, it was at 26:57, so I just barely made it! Afterward I hung out for a while, enjoying the wonderful weather and ocean breeze : ) 
Tomorrow I have 16 miles on the schedule, but since I wasn't able to find a running buddy it looks like I'll be running solo. I've never ran more than 11ish by myself, so I'm really not sure what's going to happen. Since I did a lot more today than I usually do, I'm not too worried about not getting in all those miles, but I'm still aiming for at least 13-15 miles. We'll see what happens!

February 19, 2010

Busy Week Recap

So this past week I've been completely swamped and totally fell behind blogging, but I finally have a spare moment for an update! Saturday morning was our first training with Team In Training (TNT), doing a "long" run of just 30 minutes. Really reminds me that running is all relative : ) We started at 7am and had a beautiful sunrise to start us off as we ran along the palm-lined path at East Beach. Most of my mentees made it out there and did great! Afterward we got breakfast at a nearby cafe. It was a gorgeous morning and a great way to start off the day! Then I was off to shower and head to a full day of work.

Sunday was another early morning for a 14 mile (14 on the 14th!) training run with my TNT pal Courtney. She actually saved me big time. My usual running partner, Tom, has been sick for the past few weeks. We had planned to train for the LA Marathon together, but now it looks like it might just be me : ( At first I had arranged a ridiculous plan for the run - Courtney thought she could do at least 10 with me (she's not actively training) and then Tom would meet us and do the last 4 with me. Courtney ended up deciding to go the full 14 though, and we had a fabulous time running along the coast in downtown Santa Barbara, around a lovely lagoon, and along a hidden little trail, blue skies and sunny the whole way. We also got to run by the art fair downtown which was a great distraction from the run. I have to admit I was a bit tired and sore by the end. We kept up a great pace though, so I was pretty happy. Afterward we went for an ice bath in the Pacific Ocean : )

Monday was a much needed rest day. Tuesday was our first TNT track workout. I'm super excited to be doing speedwork again! We did a 6 lap (2 with strides) warm-up, then 1x800, then 2 laps cool-down. I can't wait for them to get harder! Wednesday I was swamped with work and then spent every waking moment working on a paper due Thursday. When I finally got it turned in, I went for an exhilarating 4 miler at sunset. Today I worked all day so it ended up being another rest day. I don't really feel too guilty though since I have a pretty busy weekend coming up running-wise. Tomorrow morning we have another TNT training at 7am, cranking it up to 40 minutes. Then right after that, I'm heading downtown for the Roses en la Playa 5k! I don't really know how tired I'll be for the race, but I know I can easily PR since I've only run 2 official 5ks: one a week after my first marathon, and the other with my dad. We'll see what happens! It also looks like it's going to be a very wet weekend : ( Sunday I have a 16 miler on schedule, but as of yet I haven't found a running partner, so we'll see what happens! Happy weekend!

February 11, 2010

New Swimsuit!

Since I started swimming about a month ago, I've been borrowing a friends swimsuit and goggles. I'd been putting off buying my own gear, but now that it looks like this swimming thing is gonna stick around, I finally sucked it up and went shopping. My roommate actually needed a new one, too, so it was fun to have some company. In fact, we ended up buying matching suits! Before I started swimming recently, I had never worn a one piece and I despised them. They just seem to be so unflattering unless you're in incredible shape, which I'm obviously not. But after borrowing my friend's suit for a while, I've realized that while they may not be that attractive, they are most definitely functional. So we ended up at our local sporting goods store and grabbed a bunch that looked cute. I had no idea how swimsuit sizes worked, so I had to go for trial and error. Is it just me, or are the mirrors and lighting in dressing rooms awful? You'd think they would want them to be flattering so you'd buy more stuff, but who knows... Anyway I ended up being happy with a reversible (black/blue) suit from TYR. It fits pretty similarly to the one I was wearing before, and I like that I can reverse it. It was also on sale, which helped a lot since swimsuits are expensive! I also picked up a pair of metallic TYR goggles, too.

That evening a few girlfriends and I went to the pool for a swim to test out my new gear. So far, so good! Although for right now swimming is mainly just a mode of cross training for me, I am hoping to do my first triathlon by the end of the year, so I also want to work on my stroke and become a better swimmer. One of the girls that went with me is a swimmer, and has agreed to "coach" me a bit! Already she's pointed out some little things I am doing wrong with my stroke and it's made a big difference, so I'm excited to keep improving! And I have to admit, any workout that offers the promise of a hot tub after is hard to say no to : )

After a lame week of working out pre-Surf City, I've had a much better streak since. After the race on Sunday, I took Monday off to rest, and then swam Tuesday. Wednesday night I did a fast 4 miler solo, and tonight I did an easy 3 miles with one of my roommates who is just starting out with Team In Training. Speaking of, I have recruited 12 girls from my sorority who I'll be mentoring over the next 5 months as they train for the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in June. The first training of the season is this Saturday and I can't wait! I'm so excited for all of them and to be back with the Team. After all, that's where it all started : )

February 10, 2010

Surf City Half Marathon (Race Report)

So now that my back-to-back midterms are over (sigh of relief), I can finally tell you all about my wonderful Surf City Half Marathon weekend down in Huntington Beach : ) Stacey and I headed down Saturday morning in the middle of a downpour that lasted well past LA, but cleared up a bit as we got closer to Huntington Beach. After checking into our awesome hotel and arranging for our shuttle Sunday morning, we headed back out to grab some lunch and hit the expo. The expo was outside but tented, and as soon as we got there it started pouring! The tents started leaking and the carpets inside started to flood...my shoes are still wet! Because of the crazy weather everyone was crowded inside, making it for a rather claustrophobic experience. I didn't end up buying anything surprisingly, so as soon as the rain stopped we headed out.
As we walked out the expo, we were greeted by the most mesmerizing rainbow I've ever seen in my life! Not only did it form a complete arch, but the colors were so vivid I could make out every single one. I literally just stared the whole walk back to the car, and the whole drive back to our hotel. Talk about a great omen : ) When we got back to our hotel we were both pretty exhausted, so Stacey talked me into getting a beer at the bar to relax. We chatted for a while with another guy who was running the full, then headed up to our room to relax, order room service, and get to bed early.

Sunday morning we were up by 5:30 to catch our 6:30 shuttle to the start line. We really lucked out weather-wise as the rain had not only stopped but was replaced with clear blue skies! We got there with just enough time to hit the bathrooms and find our spot in the crowd before the start. It was a wave start so we didn't actually get going for another 15 minutes, making us just a little antsy : ) I started off feeling great! We decided to aim for a 2:15 finish (a PR), pending how my legs held up. So we started out with a 10:25 pace which felt really comfortable and easy for the first few miles. The course took us along the PCH right next to the beach for a few miles before we detoured with a loop through some neighborhoods. At the end of the loop Stacey was having a lot of back pain, so she told me to go ahead and wed just meet at the finish, so I took off.

We emerged from the loop back on the PCH around mile 5 and headed out for another few miles. The day was so clear that we could actually see all the way to the mountains topped with snow! It was also really cool to see the marathon runners who had started before us and whose course overlapped ours in several parts. By the time I reached the turn around I was a little tired, and once I headed back in the opposite direction, I was running directly into the sun. I don't do well in the heat and it had warmed up fast, nor was I wearing a hat to shade my face from the sun. The last few miles I had to intersperse short bits of walking as the sun started to get to me. I was wavering back and forth with my time in terms of getting a PR, but in the end I decided it wasn't that important and let it go. Ironically, as I crossed the finish and stopped my Garmin, I realized I was one minute off with 2:18:58!

I got my amazing surfboard medal (the real reason I wanted to do this race!) and waited for Stacey. After 20 minutes, I hadn't seen her, and the race staff were trying to get finishers away from the finish line, so I made a pit stop at the bathroom before wandering the finish area for Stacey. Almost 40 minutes later and still alone, I realized how stupid we were for not picking a place to meet! Finally I asked myself, "If I were Stacey, where would I be?" and immediately headed toward the beer garden : ) Lo and behold, there was Stacey waiting in line! We got our beers and relaxed for a while, then realized it was almost time to catch our shuttle back. We took some last minute shots with the pretty beach as our backdrop then headed back to our hotel to shower and head home.

I felt pretty good post-race besides being a bit sunburned and utterly exhausted. Thankfully, no shin splints though! Unfortunately when we got back to Santa Barbara there was no time to relax as I had a midterm Monday and then another on Tuesday : ( Overall, however, I had such a great weekend and loved Surf City. Races always remind me how much I love running and get me excited for the next one I have planned. I also wanted to mention that I wore my new Asics capris, and they are basically the best things ever!! Not only are they super comfy and flattering, but they have these awesome mesh pockets on the back on either side, perfect for slipping my iPod and a couple Gus without feeling bulky. Love love love them!

February 6, 2010

Retail Therapy

Long story short: my shin splints have flared up again. After a pushing my pace on a 5k Tuesday evening, I woke up Wednesday to very sore and tight legs, and have not run since. Part of me feels extremely guilty about this. I am, after all, supposed to be in the midst of training for a marathon that looms ever closer. But at the same time, I'm trying to listen to my body and take it easy so I can actually get to that marathon in one piece. I did manage to get a workout in last night in the form of swimming, but I wish it could have been a run.

So how did I deal with all these mixed emotions? Went shopping, of course! It's no secret that running clothes can be pricey, so I tend to buy cheaper no-name stuff from Target or the like. It gets the job done and doesn't cost an arm an a leg, but it definitely lacks a little in the quality department. So considering that I just got paid and was emotionally a bit down in the dumps about my running, I went to my local running store and bought myself a fabulous pair of Nike shorts and Asics capris! Despite a significant dent in my bank account, I left the store feeling quite happy. I've recently started wearing shorts more when I run, so I wanted to get a really nice, comfortable, and flattering pair in a fun color. Most of the time, however, I wear capris, so it was totally worth the splurge on this amazingly soft and comfortable pair which I'm planning on sporting this weekend : )

Speaking of this weekend, on Sunday I'll be running the Surf City Half in Huntington Beach. My running buddy Stacey and I are heading down in the morning (aka 6 hours from now - why am I still awake?!) so we have to whole day to hit the expo and relax in our hotel. Originally my plan was to PR. I really think I'm capable of it, but considering my shin splints I think it's smarter to play it safe and slow down the pace and just enjoy the race. It all comes down to the bigger picture, and that is the LA Marathon March 21st. So we'll see how it goes. No matter what, it should be a great weekend and I can't wait to race!