April 30, 2010

home is where the heart (and race) is!

Greetings from Sacramento! After catching my flight at an ungodly hour (7am!), I finally made it home. Considering I've been up since 5:30am and can barely keep my eyes open, I'm going to try and make this quick.

After picking me up from the airport my parents and I grabbed some breakfast then headed to Fleet Feet for packet pick-up. All participants were given a coupon for $10 off, so I figured I would go ahead and replace my shoes with a fresh pair. Now while I'm definitely moving toward a minimalist/barefoot approach to running, these shoes did work well for me (Brooks Adrenaline GTS 10) so I'm going with the motto "if it ain't broke don't fix it." Until I can devote the time to practicing barefoot/minimalist running I'm going to be wearing shoes, and my current pair were way past their prime (2 marathons + the training, a half, 10 miler, etc.). Fleet Feet ended up being out of my size though, so I ordered them and they should be sent to me in the next week or so. Since I was there, I couldn't resist buying some new shorts. I was torn between 2 colors of the Nike pacer shorts, so I caved and just bought both! I now own Nike shorts in just about every shade of blue there is, haha!

My dad has been running a lot lately, and he wanted to run one of his routes with my Garmin to get an exact mileage. I agreed to do it as long as we kept it easy, so I skipped my run yesterday instead. My shins have flared up pretty bad again, so I was a little nervous, but I figure they're probably going to hurt during the race anyway, so what the hell. We actually ran part of the race course along the American River across from our house which got me a little excited for tomorrow since it was so beautiful and green! On the downside, my shins did hurt despite the easy pace, and the wind was so outrageous that you could literally see all the crap blowing around in the air which spelled disaster for my allergies. I noticed a difference in my breathing, but I'm going to take some allergy meds in the morning so hopefully it won't be a problem for the race. I also felt more lethargic than usual, but I'm blaming that on my lack of sleep last night and the early morning today - I've been exhausted all day! It was still a lot of fun running with my dad, so I don't regret it at all.

Finally, on to my goals for tomorrow's half marathon. Originally, I really wanted to PR on this course. Training-wise, I know I could do it. My pace has been getting faster over the last couple months, and I know I could shave at least a couple minutes off my current PR (2:17:50). That being said, I have to reconsider, taking into account my shin splints. I'm still going to start out aiming to beat my time, but I am also going to listen to my body. If I can, I want to push it. But if the pain in my legs gets bad, I'm ok with pulling back. Now that's all well and good, but maybe you want specifics?

A goal: 2:10
B goal: 2:15
C goal: 2:20-2:25

My "A goal" is a stretch. With my current situation, I really doubt this is gonna happen, but you gotta dream big, right? My "B goal" is more realistic in terms of a PR. This will be the pace I set on my Garmin. My "C goal" is somewhat safe but is still challenging enough that I wouldn't feel like I took it too easy. But again, this half is replacing a long training run for me, so when it comes down to it, I have to look at the bigger picture: Rock 'n' Roll San Diego in June. Ok, now I'm (finally) off to bed! Wish me luck!

April 29, 2010

Ready to Tri?

It's currently almost 2am and I just finished a horrendous paper that is supposed to pass for my English midterm. Yikes! Anyway, I'm over it, so on to running!

Last night we had our weekly track practice with the Team. After a mile warm-up with strides, we got into groups to do the workout: 2x1200 at threshold (aka 10k) pace then 1x1600 at marathon pace. We ran the 1200s between 9-9:30 which was perfect and the 1600 around 10-10:30. Overall, not too bad I think. One of our coaches, David, told us stories to make the time go by faster and it definitely worked! Before I knew it we were cooling down. Ended up doing an even 5 miles overall. Afterward a group of us headed to Chili's for my roommate's TNT fundraiser and were so hungry we practically inhaled our food! Great way to end the night : )
Story time!

Today I did a fast 4 miler instead of my 6 mile tempo. In fact I may have to switch Wednesdays and Thursdays in my schedule because I just don't have the energy for a tempo after 8 hours on my feet at work. Today's run was solo, and it was actually kind of nice to run by myself again. As much as I love running with others, it's a great feeling to just zone out and have only my thoughts to occupy me. I felt really good during the run except for a few little nagging pains...I think my shin splints are flaring up again : / Since I have a half marathon on Saturday, I'm going to do a short and easy run tomorrow (today?) then take Friday off completely. I'm really looking forward to going home for the weekend and running a race on my own turf! I do have some big goals for the race, so look for those in an upcoming post.
And finally, on to what I alluded to in the title of this post - a triathlon! As I've mentioned before, I really want to do a triathlon, both for the experience and for the cross-training benefits for my running. I've been swimming about once a week and slowly getting better, and I'm planning on getting a bike when I move back home in June. Anyway, one of my goals for this year is to complete my first triathlon, and while perusing the race calendar for Sacramento I stumbled across the Luna Bar Women's Triathlon Festival. The sprint distance includes a 0.5 mile swim (open water), 20 mile bike, and 4 mile run. I love that it's an all women's race and I think the distances sounds doable, but I'm such a newbie to tris that I really don't know if I should make this my goal race. It's at the end of August, which would give me all summer to train, but I have no clue if that's enough time. One slight downside, however, is I have a marathon the weekend before : / Anyone with tri experience, I would appreciate any advice you can give me! With so many running races the rest of the year I think this would be really beneficial for cross-training, too. Even though nothing is for sure, I can't help but get excited by the possibility of this race!

April 26, 2010

Long Run + ASVT

I think I'm still recovering from yesterday : / Although I'm exhausted, it was a really amazing day! Most of my girls opted out of the Saturday morning run, but a few of us dragged ourselves out of bed and headed downtown to East Beach. Ironically, this is where ASVT is held, so we would be back that afternoon, but under very different circumstances.

The weather was perfect for running - cool and overcast (although it was less than perfect for hanging at the beach later). Since Jordan was playing in the ASVT volleyball tournament she wasn't there for the run so I started out solo. And since Tom is out of town, I also don't have any good pics from the run, jsut a few I snapped on my phone along the way. Full marathoners had 2:45 on the schedule, and since we had such a small group that morning, our runners were few and far between. We headed toward Leadbetter and up along Shoreline until La Mesa Park. We continued toward the preserve, crossing my favorite bridge over a flora filled abyss. Instead of running through the preserve, we stuck to the roads and passed it until we hit Piss Hill - the infamous half mile incline that was at mile 23 of the SB Marathon. Going down was great. We hit the beautiful bird refuge at Hendry's Beach at the bottom then turned and made our way - slowly - back up Piss Hill. I pushed myself to run the whole thing and made it to the top feeling good just pretty winded. As we headed back to La Mesa I caught up to two girls on our Team who I ended up running the rest of the time with, and I was glad for the company : )
My fave bridge!
Going down...
Bird Refuge
Just before Hendry's
....going up!

When we got back to East Beach all the halfers were done, but we still had about 40 minutes to go. So we continued on, passing the lagoon, cemetery, butterfly beach, and the ritzy Biltmore. The last few miles I ran with an awesome girl and chatted the whole time about running, making the time fly by. It's a whole different experience to run with a newer runner and help them finish their longest run to date - it totally takes the focus off of you. We finished in exactly 2:45 with a total of 14.8 miles for the day : )
My favorite bike path above the ocean, right before butterfly beach.

As soon as I finished we hurried home to shower and get ready for ASVT!! For the past month or so I've been working with a fabulous designer down in LA to create a theme and swimsuits for my entire sorority. As stressful as the whole experience was, it all paid off Saturday. Everyone looked ah-mazing! We even had other houses tell us how cute our suits were : ) The theme I chose was Havana Nights, inspired by the nightlife of Cuba. The day was like one huge photoshoot, with some volleyball thrown in : ) We didn't win the tournament, but if there was a swimsuit contest, we would've totally won!
All cleaned up!
Roomie and I ready to go!
 East Beach
ASVT - we made it!
Roommates, past and present : )
Gamma Phi Beta ♥
Fave : )
Team G Phi!
With 2 of my runners : )
My little sis!
Flower girls : )
Roomie and running buddy ♥

We finally made it home around 5pm, and not only was I exhausted but I was ravenous! I had only ate a little bit of pasta and a Cliff Bar after my run, so I desperately needed food. We decided to head to Freebirds, a Mexican food joint in Isla Vista best known for catering to the throngs of inebriated kids in IV. My roommate and I split a massive order of veggie nachos and they were incredible. I don't know if it was because I was starving or what, but we devoured them in like 10 minutes. Yummm : ) I don't know how but I managed to stay awake much later and only finally fell asleep in front of the TV around 11pm. I seriously felt like a zombie. And today had been a lazy lazy day, trying to recover from my busy week and crazy weekend. Even though I had a blast, I'm just a wee bit glad it's all over : )

April 25, 2010

Catching Up

Hello all! I've been a terrible blogger this past week - it was just one of those times when life gets in the way. So here's a quick recap of the highlights of this past week:

Sunday I hit the pool per usual with my friend Christine. For some reason, we both felt pretty sluggish the whole time. I struggled through a 500m warm-up, then did 250m of legs and 250m of arms. We finished up the workout with 100m sprints, and on each one I could feel myself getting more and more tired and slower. After an easy 50m cool-down, we hit the jacuzzi. I guess it's pushing through the tough workouts that make the difference?

Monday was a rest day, and since I had a midterm the next day it consisted of trying to squeeze in studying between a full day of work and my sorority meeting that evening. And as if I needed something else, I had to work on more stuff for my sorority's swimsuits for ASVT.

Tuesday was track night, but since it rained all day, we met across from the track at Leadbetter Beach. On the schedule for the evening was one of my favorite drills - Swedish relays! We did a fast 1.5 mile warm-up, then headed out along the bike path in groups. We ran together for 10 minutes at "race pace" then lined up single file for 10 minutes of relays. If you're not familiar with these (or you may just know them by one of their many other names), they're pretty simple - basically the person at the back of the line sprints to the front, then the next, and so on. After 20 minutes we turned around and headed back with another 10 minutes at race pace then a final 10 of relays. It was super windy on the way back (we were almost hit by a falling palm frond!), so it was an added challenge just to fight the gusts of wind! All in all it ended up being 5.25 miles. After the workout our Team went for a "family" dinner at a nearby pizza place. Our amazing coaches treated us to some yummy pizza and we had a great time hanging out all together not running for once!

Wednesday is usually my tempo run, but after a long day at work and with plans to make dinner with a friend, I could not muster up the energy to do a tough tempo. I did still want to run though, so instead I talked my roommate into doing an easy 4 miles. Now that I'm trying to take my training up a notch I have to remember that things don't always have to go exactly as planned - in fact they often won't. If I can't or don't want to do a run or workout I have scheduled, it doesn't have to be all or nothing. I have to remember that it's ok to shorten a run or slow the pace. In this case, anything is better than nothing. After the run I had plans with my friend Christine to make sushi. I've been making it for a really long time but haven't done it recently. After a quick run to the store to pick up a few ingredients and some more swimsuit stuff, we finally got started - at 9pm! Despite the late start we had a blast and the sushi was delicious. We just sat there without speaking and quickly devoured an entire plateful (and then some). Yum!
Sushi fun!
Step 1: Add filling.
Step 2: Roll!
Step 3: Nom nom nom!
Mmmmmm : )

I had planned to do my tempo run Thursday instead, but I ended up stressed to the max and desperately needed a mental health break. In this case, the thought of doing even one mile was too much. I just craved some rest and a few hours of nothing. Our swimsuits were finished that morning and I had to arrange how to pick them up from LA, then I had to sort them and figure out how much each girl owed, make sure we got all the styles/sizes we ordered, etc. By that night I was totally pooped.

Friday was a scheduled rest day, and even though I had taken the day before off, too, I didn't stress about it. I had a long day of work then had to distribute swimsuits until late. I knew Saturday was going to be super long and tiring, yet I still didn't make it to bed until late : / We had a 2:45 run scheduled in the morning, followed immediately by ASVT, the event I've been planning for over a month! The run was great and ASVT ended up being a blast - details to come!

April 18, 2010

SB Chardonnay 10 Miler (Race Report)

Yesterday I ran the SB Chardonnay 10 Miler, which also happens to have been my first official race last year while I was training with the Team. I was excited to run it again for several reasons. For one, I just love to race. In fact, it probably borders on an addiction : ) Secondly, it's a beautiful course, run mostly along the waterfront, and a good distance, too - a little less than a half, but still long enough to be somewhat challenging. Most importantly, I was excited to run it with my Team. For many, including my girls, it was their first real race, and seeing the excitement and anticipation in their faces at the start, and their huge smiles at the finish made me relive my first race all over again and reminded me how grateful I am to have running in my life. All the girls did wonderful and finished strong, too - I'm so, so, so proud of all of them : ) I also had a somewhat secret reason for being eager to run this race - I really wanted to beat my time from last year (1:44)! Well I did just that, and with 2 minutes to spare : )

The race didn't start until 8am, but we met up with the Team around 7:15ish. A teammate, Cher, had brought supplies to decorate safety pins to pin to our shoes, in memory of our Team leader Erin's cousin.  Kylie was diagnosed with Leukemia back in January at only 17 years old. She went into remission about a year ago, but unfortunately encountered some complications with her treatment recently, and passed away suddenly last week. While this is truly a sad story, it just proves that we still have a long way to go to find a cure. 17 is way too young.
For Kylie ♥

While we waited for the race to start we hit up the bathrooms, stretched, and took plenty of pics. Right before 8am we lined up at the start, Jordan and I trying to get as close as we could to the front since it wasn't chip timed. As we waited, we looked around and saw the chubbiest baby I've ever seen - he looked like a sumo baby! I don't know if it's PC or not to mention this, but I couldn't help it : / We also noticed a man with a jogger stroller in front of us. Instead of a baby or toddler in it, though, he had a child! I believe strollers were allowed in this race, but explicitly told to start AT THE BACK. Clearly, this man was an idiot, and as soon as we started, he practically ran over a woman, cut off several other runners, and didn't even pause to apologize! Not cool, dude. Watch out for runner karma.
The crowd beginning to gather!
Gamma Phis pre-race.
TNT tent!
Coach Dodge giving us a pep talk : )
Happy to be racing!
TEAM shot!
The standard GO TEAM!
My girls and I waiting to start : )
A bit crowded...
Sumo baby!
I set my Garmin for a 10:15 pace, knowing that to beat my previous time we would need sub 10:24. I didn't want to push Jordan though, so I made sure to check in with her the very so often to make sure she was ok. Although I wanted to meet my goal, I wanted her to enjoy this race and have fun even more. It took a little while to warm up, but by about mile 3 we found our stride. Our pace hovered between 10:00-10:30 over the next few miles, which also happened to include the few major hills of the course. Luckily though they were worse going out then coming back. As we neared mile 5, the lead runner passed us on his way back! Holy cow was that guy moving! He ended up finishing in like 50 minutes - insane. It was cool getting to see all the fast runners on their way back, though. That's one thing I really like about out-and-back courses.

I remember from last year that the last mile before the turnaround seemed to take forever. This time was no different! We kept rounding a corner, thinking it must be coming up, only to see the road ahead with no sign of the turnaround. We finally made it, only to turn and head back up a lovely incline. Around mile 6 we took a Gu and got some water at the aid station. I had only brought one Gu, so I wanted to space it more toward the end to give me an added boost toward the end. As we moved along we tackled the biggest hill of the course and charged up it. We were both pretty winded at the top, but had a nice long downhill to recover. We got our second wind from our Gu and before we knew it, we were back along the waterfront at East Beach on the home stretch.
 Mile 4ish. I hate when randoms ruin a pic : /
Around mile 6 and feeling good!
The home stretch!

Last year around mile 8, I kind of fell apart. I was running with a group of girls on the Team and having a lot of fun, but the pace was much faster than I had been running on my long runs up til then. While I felt great for most of the race, the last 2 miles were a rude awakening. So it was a funny feeling to hit 8 miles yesterday and feel great. Not only great, but ready to pick up the pace a bit and finish strong. I know I'm a much smarter and stronger runner now, but I kind of wanted to prove it to myself by setting a PR at this race. Jordan was a bit tired at this point, but I just kept reminding her how close we were and how great she was doing. I broke up the remaining distance with landmarks so it wouldn't feel as long. And I reminded her who we were running this for - Kylie, who will never get a chance to run among so many other things. That seemed to push us forward even faster. We finished mile 9 in 10:06 and kicked it up even more for the last mile dropping our pace to 9:34. We crossed the finish line with big smiles on our faces with an official finish time of 1:42:11.
Here we come!
Done and all smiles : )
My perfect running buddy : )
Me and Jenna, the fab photographer (currently nursing an injury).
Love her : )
Sorority pose! Haha.

Our Team continued to trickle in, and once we had all finished and fueled a bit on the free food, we took a little dip in the ocean! It was quite a fun little excursion and the cold water felt great on my legs and feet. I think we got a few "you're crazy" looks, but I could really care less. How can you not take advantage of having the ocean as a giant ice bath?! We hung around for a little bit after that, then I headed home to hurry and get ready for work. Although the icing helped with my muscles, a full day of work on my feet took it's toll. When I got home I barely made it to my bed before collapsing for a much needed nap!
A little timid at first...
Group shot!
We had to be careful not to get knocked over by the waves!
So cold!
Haha, it's dangerous to turn your back on waves!
Success! The perfect end to a race : )

p.s. Thanks to Jenna for all the wonderful photos! She was our unofficial race photographer : )