September 30, 2010

When life gives you!

Life sort of threw a curveball this week so running and blogging had to take a bit of a back seat. Last Friday my 94-year old grandma ended up in the hospital and has gotten worse since, so my week has consisted of working long shifts then heading straight over to see my grandmother and be with my family. On top of that, I'm also on graveyard duty a few days this week for the crisis hotline which means no good night's sleep for me. I have, however, managed to fit in some running, most importantly my long run this past Sunday. In times like these, though, you have to look at the big picture. We have no idea how much time she has left, so every moment together is dear. And it's also at times like these when family needs one another the most. But like I said, some running still did manage to happen this week, and I think it's helped me manage the stress of everything.

My mom's 5k on Saturday went great! Her goal was simply to finish while running most of it and she did just that. It was kind of an odd experience to be at a race as a spectator instead of a runner but it was kind of fun : ) The race stared at 5:30pm and holy cow was it warm! I was actually glad I wasn't running, and I felt kind of bad for all the runners. We hung around in the sahde for a while and then soon enough it was time to go! After watching the start my dad and I headed to the 2 mile mark just before the turnaround to catch my mom mid-race. When we finally spotted her I ran to meet her and jogged alongside her for a bit. I think the heat had really gotten to her, but she was still trudging along, refusing to quit. After hitting up a water station I sent her on her way with some encouraging words then my dad and I headed back to the start to see her finish. I could tell when she crossed that finish line that she was glad to be done, but I think she enjoyed the experience. It was definitely a big challenge that she took on and she accomplished what she set out to do - I couldn't be more proud. Stay tuned for my mom's recap in her own words (with more pics) coming soon!
 mom and I post-race!

I had made plans with my coworker, Heather, to meet up early Sunday morning for a long run. She's running the Nike Women's Marathon in a couple weeks and we both needed to get 16 miles in. We both had to be at work at 11am which meant an extra early start (well, early for me). I chose a route along the bike trail that was an extension of the course of the Parkway Half I ran this past May. Heather picked me up bright and early and we headed to William Pond Park, although we ended up just short of the park itself. We hopped on the trail and set off, aiming for a 10:30 average pace (my goal MCM pace). The first several miles I felt like my perceived effort was much greater than the pace I was seeing on my watch, and I was worried it was gonna be one of those runs. We got to mile 7ish and took a little potty break. When we continued on we spotted something in the middle of the pathway ahead and realized it was a small snake! Upon closer inspection (per my encouragement) we discovered that the baby snake was dead. I felt it appropriate to remove it from the pathway so Heather flung it to it's final resting place via a stick : )
 once i knew it was dead i got a closer pic : )

We finally approached the turnaround; I always get a second wind once I know I'm on my way back! I finally started feeling good and we actually picked up the pace a bit. I was starting to get thirsty and my handheld was low but luckily we reached my oasis and I was able to fill up and douse myself with water since the day was starting to really warm up. My left hip had been nagging me for a while but I was able to run through it, stretching a few times along the way. Heather's longest distance before Sunday had been a half marathon, so it was fun to get to 13 miles and realize that the rest would be all new territory for her. I miss distance PRs : ( With one mile to go I looked down at my watch and realized I had to be at work in 50 minutes, so we decided to pick it up! We finished our final mile at a sub-10 pace with an average pace of 10:25 for the whole run, then immediately hopped in the car to hurry home. It turned out to be a great run, and I can't even tell you how nice it was to have some company! I've really missed having running buddies, especially for long runs, so I hope Heather and I can run together again soon!
near the turnaround
Monday I took as a rest day, then Tuesday morning before work I squeezed in a quick 4 mile run at 9:33 min/mi. After work I headed straight to my grandma's, then was on call that night. I wasn't able to fit in a run Wednesday which made that rest day #2. Earlier this month I had bought my dad Giants tickets for his birthday and Thursday we were supposed to go to the game. But since his mother is so sick we didn't want to go out of town, which meant selling the tickets instead. I was kind of bummed, but life happens, and there will be other games.

I already had the day off of work though, so I took advantage of that and headed out for my last run of September in the late afternoon heat for my first tempo in waaaaay too long. To give me an extra kick I took a Gu before I left and it happened to be a new flavor - espresso. All I can say is that I'm kicking myself for not trying this sooner! I may have a new favorite Gu flavor to rival vanilla bean : ) The run itself went really well actually. I had some new jams on the iPod and just felt good for once! My goal was to do a one mile warm-up, 3 miles at tempo pace (~9:00 min/mi), then a mile cool down. My last tempo mile was even my fastest! Woot woot. Here are the stats:

9:50 warm-up
9:46 cool-down

Before my run I took my pup to the river to play and couldn't resist sharing a few pics! She's a lab so she's a natural swimmer, but her favorite things to do are fetching sticks and diving for big rocks.
 such a little water dog : )
 diving for a rock!
she brought this rock all the way home!

This weekend is the local Urban Cow Half Marathon, my first Sacramento race since moving back home. My store is hosting the packet pick-up tomorrow so it will most likely be absolute madness at work. I'm hoping to try something new by going for an easy run straight from work so then I can head right over to my grandma's. Then Saturday I'll be resting up for the race! I have some big goals in mind that I'll be sharing soon : )

September 24, 2010

Finding my Speed

With several races coming up and some serious time goals, I've started to really notice my lack of speedwork. In fact, since I've been back in Sacramento I haven't done one official speed workout! I'm well aware of their effectiveness, however, and I'm determined to turn my habits around and make them a consistent part of my training. To kick start things, yesterday evening I rode my bike a couple miles to the Sac State track with the intention of doing some good 'ole Yassos. The workout I had planned was 6x800m, aiming for 4:20-4:25, with 400m recovery laps in between. I was sort of racing the setting sun and I had biked there, too, so I only did one lap to warm-up then got started. I must first say that I'm terrible at pacing, so trying to hit my target pace was a challenge indeed. I came in way too fast on my first 800m but I just couldn't seem to adjust my speed properly and all my splits continued to consistently be at the faster pace (umm hello sub-8:00s!). Woops : ) Here are my stats:


Although I'm pleased I was able to maintain such a fast pace, I'm not sure if I should be aiming for something a little less swift. I figured my target pace from the McMillan Running Calculator based on my current half PR, but clearly I'm capable of going faster. Any suggestions? It felt great to finally be doing something different and to really push myself, so I'm really hoping to make track workouts a weekly occurrence. Lucky for me I have a track so close to me...last night I even had it all to myself!


In other fun running news, tomorrow after work I have the opportunity to see a race from a new perspective - as a spectator at my mom's first 5k!! Over the summer I posted the 10-week training plan I had created for her and now race day is finally here! She's worked up to running 2 miles, so I'm confident she'll be able to finish 5k with a few short walk breaks. I'm already so proud of her for taking on this challenge that was pretty out of her comfort zone and following through til the end. I'm also hoping that I've planted a seed and this won't be her last race - perhaps one day we can run a race together : ) It's things like this, seeing the gradual improvement of a new runner, that reminds me just how wonderful running is. I can't wait to cheer her on at the finish line!!

September 23, 2010

Aflac Iron Girl Lake Tahoe (Race Report)

Well folks, I survived! I didn't drown, crash, or trip and managed to have a fantastic time at my first triathlon. And not surprisingly, I'm addicted and already looking forward to what's next!

I was up before my alarm and let reality settle in - in just a few hours I would be plunging into chilly Lake Tahoe and starting my first triathlon! Since I had all my stuff laid out the night before it made getting ready a breeze and ensured that nothing was left behind. I stuffed all my gear into my bag and we set off into the semi-dark morning. We reached transition with just 15 minutes left til it closed. I spotted my coworker, Heather, who had come up to support her roommate, and was also volunteering. She was in the middle of body-marking so I had her quickly mark me up (do they have to mark you that much!?) and then hurried into transition to set up my station. Surprisingly Heather's roommate, Kellie, was only a couple bikes down from me so I had someone to share my nerves and excitement with : ) Once I had everything laid out I headed back out and had Heather help me get into my wetsuit before we all walked down to the lake.
 getting body marked
 early morning transition
 my transition area : )
 those things are not easy to get on!

The swim had a wave start based on age and Kellie and I, along with other 14-29 year olds, were in the last wave. So once down at the lake we had plenty of time to hang around, take pics, and wait. You couldn't ask for a more beautiful setting to start a race. We watched the sun come up over the mountains in the distance, the suns emerging rays sparkling on the clear lake. It was amusing to see so many people in wetsuits - we looked like a herd of seals! The course was rectangular and marked with big yellow buoys. For me, a lot of the swim was mental, and luckily the course didn't look longer than I had been expecting. At 7:30am we gathered at the start to watch the 45+ wave take off! Before we knew it, the next two waves had entered the water and we were lining up to wait for our turn. I was starting to get nervous, but I knew I could finish even if I had to doggie paddle. More than anything I just wanted the race to be underway before my nerves could get the better of me.
the swim course
beautiful morning, beautiful Lake Tahoe : )
Kellie & I practicing our Iron Girl pose!

I put my goggles on and then the countdown began...."Three, two, one, AFLAC!!!" And we were off! Kellie and I had positioned ourselves in the middle of the pack toward the outside. Since the lake was pretty shallow you could actually touch the ground (and see the bottom - thank goodness for clear water!) all the way to the first buoy. I walked til I was about waist deep then plunged into the water and started swimming! The water temp was around 62 degrees but actually didn't feel very cold at all. My wave wasn't too crowded, thankfully, but it was nice to follow others instead of constantly raising my head to sight. I reached the first buoy before I knew it but I was pretty out of breath. I switched to breast stroke and continued on toward the turn buoy. I reached the third yellow buoy and just did not want to put my face back in the water. I still couldn't catch my breath and I was tired. I switched back to free but kept my face out of the water as I headed back toward the shore. The sun was directly in front of me so I really couldn't see anything - I just headed in the general direction of the beach. I kept expecting to be able to touch the bottom but I was further out that I thought. Finally I could touch and I stood up, my wetsuit full of water, and staggered drunkenly onto the sand. My legs were like jello and I couldn't breathe. But I was SO glad to be done!
waiting to start!
swim start video
off we go!
red caps mid-swim
swim finish video - I look drunk!
yay, done with the swim!

swim time (400m): 9:26

I staggered up the beach to where my flip flops were, slipped them on, then dunked my feet in the baby pool they had laid out. My dad had followed me and ran along side me as I jogged the quarter mile to transition, the whole time saying how tired and out of breathe I was. Apparently, though, I had finished the swim in the middle of the pack which I was pleased with. Kellie had finished a little ahead of me and was just taking off on her bike when I came into T1. I peeled my wetsuit off, threw it on the ground and then took my time getting ready for the bike. I put my socks and shoes on, pulled on my tank top, put my sunglasses and helmet on, and scarfed a few Chomps (I stuffed the rest down my shirt for later, but never got to them on the bike). Then I pulled my bike off the rack and and jogged to the bike-out chute!
getting ready for the bike in T1
heading out!

T1 time (including .25 mi run): 10:06

I was excited to be starting my second leg of the race, but I was still out of breath. I think the altitude did me in because I never fully caught my breath the entire race. The bike course was a straight out-and-back to Cave Rock and was absolutely beautiful, but holy hills! I was not expecting such a hilly course. It was great cruising down them at like 30mph but I couldn't help thinking how much they would suck on the way back, and suck they did. There were 2 killer hills in particular, almost a mile long each, that everyone literally was crawling up. The only reason I kept going is because I was afraid if I stopped I'd start rolling backward! On one gnarly climb an SUV pulled up alongside me and as I looked over I saw a video camera aimed right at me! I was just chugging along and the guy yelled, "Come on you've got this!" I just wanted to yell back that we could swap places if it looked so easy, but I just smiled and kept pushing. I think the video was part of a company that makes souvenir videos, so I might have to check it out : )
 off I go!
such a serious face!

I had never been so happy to see the turnaround, but looking at my Garmin it seemed like the course was a little short (24k = 14.9 miles, right?). No matter though, I slowed down, made the turn, and got my second wind on the way back. That is until the first big hill hit. At times I seriously considered what would happen if I just stopped pedaling. My legs burned. My lungs were on the verge of bursting. I would crest the hill, sucking air, only to see the next monster waiting in the distance. On the flip side, it was awesome to cruise down those hills at speeds I've only ever reached in a car! I felt a little badass : ) I kept leap frogging the same women, but I eyed the numbers on their calves and I never saw any in my age group. Finally I made it to the home stretch and pedaled my heart out. I went through the chute, spotted my folks cheering on the side, hopped off my bike to jello legs, and jogged back into transition.
 coming in from the bike
back to transition one more time...
bike time (24k): 52:41

I racked my bike, removed my Garmin, and made sure to switch the setting to running. I ate a couple more Chomps, took a swig of water, pulled on my visor, and took off - only to return 10 seconds later to grab my race belt when a volunteer asked where my number was : /
T2 time: 1:59

Although my legs felt like jello they weren't as heavy as I was expecting. From the start I was cruising at a pretty decent pace. We headed down to the lake where the swim start had been, and I was treated to a gorgeous rainbow arching over the lake. Talk about inspiring! But then just before mile 1 the hills started. They weren't huge, but when you're already running on fatigued legs they felt like mountains. I'm not ashamed to admit that I took a few brief walk breaks, mainly to catch my breath, which was still eluding me.

Despite the breaks I maintained my pace, and at mile 2 we mercifully reached a nice long downhill and then it was all flat to the finish. Once again, my watch showed that the course was going to come in a little short, and I'm kind of curious what other athletes recorded. Anyway, an older woman caught up to me on the final stretch and we exchanged words of encouragement and joint complaints over the hills. And then I was on my own, picking up my pace, heading toward the turn into the finish chute. I heard my parents yell but I was focused on the finish, my legs carrying me as fast as they could. I smiled big, heard my name announced, and passed across the finish line, emerging as a triathlete!
on the home stretch!
so smiley : )
 almost there...
I did it!!
finish line video

run time (5k): 28:00

As soon as I stopped moving, I got a splitting headache that lasted the next few hours (I blame the altitude and my lack of water). I found my parents, Heather, and Kellie, who had finished a while before me. Both glad to be done, we exchanged our thoughts on the course, mostly just complaining about the hills on both the bike and run courses. Per usual we took plenty of  photos to commemorate the moment. Then I went to collect my preliminary results and was pleased to find that I had come in under my time goal!
 officially a triathlete and Iron Girl  : )
 my biggest fans : )
 thanks for coming Heather!

total time: 1:42:12

I also discovered that I had come in 7th in my age group out of 22 - not bad for my first triathlon! Unlike after running races I was actually hungry, so I took advantage of the awesome breakfast spread they had which included fresh fruit, yogurt, eggs, potatoes, muffins and bagels, coffee, and oj. It was pretty impressive! Then we all sat around waiting for transition to reopen so we could grab our stuff. After finally retrieving my bike and my gear we set off on the road back home. I managed to enjoy some of the spectacular views (and capture a few shots of them) before I passed out, bent over sideways, the rest of the way home. My headache finally faded away but I was left with ears that kept popping the rest of the day.
endless trees
 such a gorgeous drive...
 oh Tahoe, how I love thee : )

All in all I don't think I could've asked for a better experience for my first triathlon. Considering my far from extensive training, I think I did well, and I'm eager to see how I could do with adequate training. It was such a different experience from a road race, but it made for a nice change. I'm a proud new triathlete and there will definitely be a lot more swimming, biking, and running in my future!
swim, bike, run

September 18, 2010

Greetings from Lake Tahoe!

After a gorgeous and winding drive through the mountains we arrived in South Lake Tahoe early this afternoon and checked into our hotel. Then we headed to the expo for packet pick-up and to check in my bike. It was a beautiful, sunny day but man was it windy! There were only a few vendors out there and not a whole lot of people, but the swag was great! In addition to the race shirt participants received a reusable tote bag, a plush Aflac duck, and instead of the usual pre-stuffed goodie bag they featured a "create your own" swag bag with tons of free samples to choose from. After checking in I numbered my bike and went to rack it in the transition area. We browsed the booths for a bit, I bought a visor and a bike jersey, and then we hung around for the course talk. It was nice to here some details about what everything will be like instead of just looking at a map, but some people were absolutely clueless. One woman didn't even seem to know what transition was!
Iron Girl Expo
When that was over we decided to drive down to the beach where the swim start will be to check things out. One slight concern I have is that the beach is about a quarter mile from transition, meaning I'll have to run that with no shoes, plus it will add a significant amount of time to T1. I think I'm going to take my flip flops down there with me and hopefully wear them after the swim. The water looked pretty choppy with all the wind, but according to a race official it should be pretty calm in the morning. Here's hoping! The water temp was around 62 degrees and should be comparable tomorrow, so with my wetsuit I should be fine.
Beautiful blue Lake Tahoe.... please be kind tomorrow!

After scouting out the beach we headed back to our hotel to relax for a while, then headed out to dinner at a nice little Italian restaurant. And now we're back, and I'm just trying to relax before the big day. I have all my stuff laid out, and I've been going over my transitions in my head. Hopefully things will go smooth tomorrow.

In terms of goals, I'm hoping to just get through the swim then hammer out the bike and run for which I feel much more confident. Honestly, I did not put in the training time for the swim so I don't have big expectations. I'm glad I at least did one open water swim ahead of time though, so at least I have a feel for it. On the other hand, I have no experience swimming with 100+ people around me, so I'm a little nervous for that. I'm in the last wave with my age group, and my plan is to stay toward the outside.

I've done several rides of the race distance and beyond, so I feel pretty confident about completing this leg and having a good ride. My one minor concern is the elevation...and apparently there are "a few hills" I might be in for a surprise. My only thoughts on the run are to push it. I know my legs are going to feel like lead, but I also know from my brick that I can maintain a pretty good pace after a ride. I'm hoping the adrenaline will give me a little extra kick as well.

So putting it all together, my ideal goal is to finish around 1:45, give or take a bit. At the very least, I'd like to finish under 2 hours. Although I'm certainly nervous and anxious, there's a great deal of excitement mingled in. I'm as ready as I'll ever be and I can't wait! See you on the other side - wish me luck!!

September 17, 2010


Race weekend is here. After an insane day at work I didn't get home til late, but I wanted to set out all my stuff to make sure I don't forget anything. I'll tell you one thing, there's a whole lot more gear needed for a triathlon than a running race! I made three separate piles, one for each sport. Here's what I've got:

- wetsuit
- tri shorts
- sports bra
- swim cap
- goggles
- sunscreen
- towel
- Tri Slide
- flip flops

I'm lucky to be able to borrow my wetsuit from work for free, and chose a full sleeve for the added warmth and buoyancy. I need all the extra float I can get! Plus, Lake Tahoe is going to be cooold. I'll be wearing my tri shorts and sports bra under the wetsuit and adding a shirt in T1. Although we're being issued an official swim cap, I'm bringing mine just in case. Tri Slide is an awesome lubricant to help prevent chafing but is also super helpful for getting in and out of a wetsuit due to it's slipperiness.

- helmet
- sunglasses
- Garmin w/ mount
- tank top
- arm sleeves
- shoes & socks
- water bottle

Since I haven't gone clipless yet on my bike, I'll be using my running shoes for both the bike and the run. Should make for a faster transition. The arm sleeves will be dependent on the's supposed to be pretty cold this weekend and I'm going to be quite wet after the swim. I'm assuming I'll warm up pretty quickly on the bike and hopefully those will be all I need.

- shoes & socks
- visor
- Garmin

Must remember to switch my Garmin from bike mode to running mode!! Not a whole lot required for running - it's undoubtedly the simplest of the three : )

- Gu Chomps
- Body Glide
- bike lock
- Nuun
- salt caps
- compression socks
- race guide


1. strip wetsuit
2. rinse feet
3. put on socks & shoes
4. put on tank top
5. mount Garmin on bike
6. put on sunglasses
7. put on helmet
8. eat some Chomps

1. rack bike
2. remove helmet & sunglasses
3. remove Garmin, switch sport mode, put on wrist
4. put on visor
5. eat some Chomps
I never really got a chance to actually practice my transitions, but writing everything out helps me keep things straight. I did do casual bike-run and swim-bike bricks, but they were not rushed like the real transitions will be. Hopefully I can keep my head on straight!

My parents and I leave for Lake Tahoe tomorrow morning. Hopefully I'll get a chance to check in with some pre-race thoughts (fears?) and race goals. If not, wish me luck!

September 16, 2010

Q & A

A few days ago I received an email from fellow running blogger Jodi asking if I would like to be featured on her "Thumbs Up Thursday" post this week. I enthusiastically told her yes and responded to her list of questions. You can check out the full interview here. In the meantime, I'm enjoying my brief moment in the spotlight : ) Thanks again, Jodi!

September 15, 2010

Open H2O

The mystery of the unknown. Visibility of only a couple feet. No line to follow on the bottom. Unknown creatures. Currents to push you off course. Cold temps. These are just a few of the pleasures of open water swimming.

With my triathlon coming up this weekend, I'd been thinking a lot about (ok, dreading) my open water swim in Lake Tahoe. I've sort of made peace with the fact that I didn't swim much leading up to this race and am most definitely under prepared, but I also know I can finish 400m, even if I have to resort to doggie paddling. On the other hand, swimming in a lake is not like swimming laps in a pool. For many triathletes, the open water swim is one of the biggest challenges and many often find themselves in a panic on race day, so I wanted to make sure and get at least one under my belt before the big day. So Sunday at work I got fit for a wetsuit to borrow for my practice swim, and Monday I headed out to the Sac State Aquatic Center at Lake Natoma for my first open H20 attempt. The plan wasn't to get in much distance - I had no way of knowing how far I was going anyway. I just wanted to get a feel for being in an open body of water with limited visibility, practice sighting (looking up occasionally to keep yourself in a straight line), and get a feel for swimming in a wetsuit.
Sac State Aquatic Center at Lake Natoma
So I pulled on my wetsuit as best I could and slowly walked straight into the deserted lake. The night before I had read a few tips on open water swimming, and one of the biggest was not to go alone. Considering that I'm not the best swimmer, I couldn't help but wonder how smart swimming solo was...but I survived : ) I swam out to a white bouy in the middle of the lake, practicing sighting on the way. When I reached it I happily grabbed on - I'm used to being able to grab the ledge after a lap in the pool. Once I had caught my breath I turned and headed back, only this time against a mild current, which was frustrating! Eventually I made it back and decided that was enough for one day. The wetsuit made a huge difference in terms of buoyancy, but I think I didn't have it on properly because when I got out the whole things filled with water! The swim was uneventful for the most part. Once again, I realized how little endurance I have in the water, but at least I didn't panic! I have no idea how far I swam, but I feel like I was in the water for about 15 minutes. I kept it short because I was doing a ride after then had to be at work by noon.
I swam to the circled buoy!
I had brought my bike with me (using my bike rack for the first time - my blood pressure was sky high watching it bounce up and down on the freeway!) to do my first swim-ride brick workout. After climbing out of the lake and stripping off my wetsuit, I had a mini panic attack when I couldn't find my car key that had been in my shorts. Luckily I found it on the ground back where I'd taken off my wetsuit. Phew. I went through my transition steps, taking my time, then set off on my bike for a 15 mile ride.

From the get go my legs were shot. The night before I had done another long ride of 21 miles and really pushed my speed, and my legs were definitely feeling it. Even the mildest inclines made my quads burn. I struggled to maintain the same speed as the night before and felt like I was getting slower with each passing mile. Around mile 7 I found myself looking at familiar scenery and realized I had rode to that spot from the opposite direction on a previous ride starting from my house! Just before the turnaround I did something really stupid. I bent my neck sideways to stretch and crack it, but went a tad to far and strained it pretty good. I was in a whole lot of pain on the way back, and coupled with my tired legs I was just so over that ride. I was so glad when I was finished, but then had to race home and get ready to head into work for a full shift.

Work was miserable and my neck hurt so bad it made me feel nauseous at times. I couldn't bend it or turn it to one side, making it difficult to fit customers. I iced it and put some heat on it that night, and it's slowly started to feel a little better. I just need it to be healed by race day!

My running has honestly been pretty lackluster lately. I hadn't run since my 15 miler on Thursday since I've been trying to fit in more biking before my race and because I've had such long work days lately. This morning I set out for a 5 miler at a faster pace and felt good til about halfway in. It was rather warm out and I was just tired. My legs were still fatigued from my back to back rides and felt heavier than usual. I pushed through it though and finished the run with an average pace of 9:41 min/mi. Then, like usual, it was a quick shower and off to another long work day.

September 11, 2010

Days of the Week

Lately, thanks to my work schedule, I never seem to know what day it is! It's pretty typical for me to have a couple weekdays off and work the weekend, which totally throws off my sense of time. My "weekend" is always different than everyone else! And as I mentioned briefly before, my work schedule and my training plan don't really go hand in hand either. In fact, since I started working full-time I've only been able to loosely follow my plan, and I've had to rework almost every week to fit in the important stuff like long runs. Throw triathlon training into the mix and things start looking even stickier. Anyway, this week was no exception. When I got my schedule I noticed that I started early and worked full shifts all weekend, making it impossible to fit in my 15 mile run. My only solution was to do my long run much earlier than usual - Thursday before going to work at noon. This meant taking Wednesday as a rest day instead of my planned 5 miler. Sometimes you just have to work with what you've got.

Now that September is underway I'm starting to get super excited for fall! Sacramento finally got it's first glimpse of cooler, fall weather Wednesday - all day the sky was dark and full of heavy clouds. That night they finally gave way to our first rain of the season! Hooray! I can't wait to run in the rain : )
A storm was brewing...
Thursday I headed out a little past 8am for a solo 15 miles along the American River parkway bike path. The air was cool and fresh from the rain the night before, only warming up a bit toward the end of my run. Within the first mile I had yet another run in with wildlife when I spotted my first coyote! It looked kind of like a skinny dog and before I could even think what to do it trotted off toward the river. I forced myself to go slower than my last couple long runs since my 13 miler the previous weekend was so disastrous.

I felt pretty good from the get go although the miles seemed to be extra long leading to the turnaround. Then disaster struck. Ok, maybe that's a little dramatic, but once I was on my way back I realized I was extremely low on water. "No big deal", I thought, "there are water fountains along the bike trail where I can refill." Except that there weren't. During miles 9-11, which were mostly exposed bike path, all I could think about was water. I was so thirsty, and was almost tempted to drink from the river, just to quench my thirst. Around mile 11 I passed a couple of women and asked if they knew whether there were any water stops up ahead. I think they could tell I was parched so one offered me some of her drink, which turned out to be lemonade! God bless kind strangers. That got me to mile 12 where, mercifully, I spotted a water fountain that was my equivalent of an oasis in the desert! My mood improved tenfold after several gulps of water and a full bottle.

Made it home with exactly 15 miles at a 10:21 average pace, but only had 30 minutes to get ready for work! Not wanting to bonk later I scarfed a pb and banana sandwich on the way, my hair still wet, and made it with just minutes to spare. The thing about doing a long run on a Thursday is that it throws off my already confused sense of time. For example, this weekend now feels like the middle of the week. Wait, what day is it again?

So Friday became a rest day, as did today. I was hoping to fit in a ride after work but only had about a half hour of daylight left when I got home so I decided it wasn't worth it. My first tri is now just a week away (ummm what?!) so the plan for the upcoming week is to fit in one more brick, a long ride (~20 miles), and an open water swim (yikes!). Unfortunately I work all week so it's gonna be another tough one trying to fit in my workouts. I also want to try and get some rest before the big day. Stay tuned!

September 7, 2010


As the big day is now just a couple weeks away, it's time to start the dreaded (but effective) brick workouts. The idea behind brick workouts is simple: to train your body to switch from one sport to another. The most important combo (so I've heard) is the "bike to run", as your legs tend to feel both like jello and lead as you get off the bike and start running. So Sunday evening I set off on my first brick attempt, not quite knowing what to expect. I decided to mimic the race distances to get a base idea of how I might be able to perform come race day (minus the exertion from the swim, of course, which may very well kick my butt). I did an out-an-back ride on the bike trail, going a bit further than I've ever gone on a run and thus getting to see some new territory. Finished 15.2 miles and surpassed my speed goal of 15mph with an average speed of 15.6mph and my fastest mile at 17mph! Came in just under my goal of an hour, and went .3 miles longer than the race distance. I can't help but wonder if going clipless will make me faster... I feel like such a noob riding in my running shoes! On that note - I just bought clipless pedals (what's with the misnomer btw?) and bike shoes, although I don't think I'll be proficient enough to use them for my race : (

Although I wasn't really practicing transitioning, I still wanted to be as fast as possible to really get the feeling of running immediately after riding. So I rolled up at home, brought my bike inside, transferred my Garmin to my wrist and change the sport setting, grabbed my Ipod, a few sips of water, and a couple Shot Bloks and I was off! Holy cow, I was not ready for that sensation! The entire 3 mile run my legs felt like lead. My first thought was how on earth people run a marathon after riding 100+ miles in an Ironman. Crazy. It felt like I was moving at a crawl, but when I looked down at my pace I was quite shocked to see a 9 min pace! Splits were 8:53, 9:03, and 9:20 for a 27:18 finish. The race is a 5k, but I figured this was close enough. I was pretty spent after, so I'm anticipating being wiped out after the race. But this was also a bit of a confidence booster. At least I know I can do 2/3, and back to back!


Now back to good ole running. I've been struggling a bit to follow my schedule for a number of reasons: tri training, work schedule, and dwindling daylight in the evenings. Since I usually work on the weekends, I've found that I have to move my long run around to whatever day I can fit it in, which means the other scheduled runs for the week often have to change. My speedwork/tempos have been virtually nonexistent. I just keep telling myself after the tri I can refocus on running (or just become obsessed with triathlons?). But for now, maybe it's a good thing I'm having to switch things up.

Anyway, I forced myself to get my run in yesterday after work. It was seriously the last thing I wanted to do after a long day at work and I was still a bit tired from my brick the day before. But then I just reminded myself of the phrase, "You'll never regret going for a run, but you may regret not doing it." So without going into the kitchen where the temptation of dinner lay, I changed and was out the door for a 5 mile run. Tried to take it as more of a recovery run, but still finished with a decent overall pace of 10:04. I'm finding lately that it's harder to go as slow as I used to!

Today was a day off so I chose to postpone my run til the evening and sleep in. Headed out the door just as the weather was cooling off and hammered out a longer-than-usual midweek run of 8 miles. Felt pretty good and actually had another sub-10 min paced run, with an average pace of 9:51. Highlights included my first rattlesnake sighting (!!), another deer sighting, and a lovely, cool breeze. Lowlights included having my face peppered with little bugs that come out in swarms along the river in the evening. 'Twas a pretty good run overall.

September 3, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dad!

I want to wish my Dad a very happy birthday today! My present for him was one we can both enjoy - tickets to a Giants game! We celebrated with a great dinner tonight surrounded by good food and friends, and birthday cake of course! Hope you had a great one, Dad!
Maybe just a few more candles... ; )

This morning I went out for my long run since I work early all weekend and to put it simply, it was a death march. Coming off my great run last weekend, I was hoping for a bit of the same only to be absolutely miserable for the entire 13 miles. It was literally one of the worst long runs I can remember. I can't even pinpoint what made it so miserable...but it was slow and painful. It was hot from the get go, and I just felt sluggish and had no energy whatsoever. I was hoping that I just needed to warm up but I only seemed to feel worse. I kept up a decent pace but had to take frequent walk breaks. Just a few miles in I seriously questioned how I was going to finish, and at the turnaround just the thought of running all the way back seemed impossible. I tried to break the run up into parts which seemed to help, but I never felt good.

I ran the same route as last weekend only going a bit further, and I even saw a deer and her two babies dart across the bike path! I also almost got ran off the path by several rude, arrogant cyclists, one who even signaled at me to run on the gravely, uneven shoulder! Seriously, what gives? Anyway, I mercifully made it back home in 2:15, not bad considering the walking. It was definitely a bit of a physical and mental blow, though. I know every run can't be great, but this one sucked big time. On the bright side, things can only go up from here, right?

September 1, 2010

First Long Ride!

Since I finally had a day off today, I decided to go for my first "long" bike ride. So after sleeping in a bit and eating breakfast, I hopped onto the bike trail and started riding! The bike course for my upcoming triathlon is 24k (14.9 mi) so I want to get in at least a few rides over that distance. I also want my legs to get used to riding in general, so I'm hoping to get in as many rides, long and short, as possible before race day. Today I figured I would do at least 20, 25 maximum, depending on how I felt. I honestly had no idea how my body and legs would hold up! I knew I could easily ride 15 miles at a leisurely pace, but I wanted to see how far I could go at my goal race pace of 15mph.

In short, the ride was great! I got faster as I went and several miles I actually rode faster than 15mph! It's so much different on a ride versus a run to watch the miles tick by because you're going so much faster. I wouldn't necessarily say that cycling is easier than running, but it certainly makes for a nice change and a new challenge which I really enjoy. I rode all the way to the end (technically, the start) of the bike trail at Discovery Park which out me right at 11 miles. I took a short break to eat some Gu Chomps and drink some water, then I turned around and headed back the way I'd came. I reached 20 miles a little while before my house, so I decided to add on a bit and finished with 22.5 miles at an average 14.8mph.
At the turnaround at Discovery Park!
It was pretty warm out but thankfully riding at a decent clip provided a bit of a breeze : ) I wore my new Ryder sunglasses which worked out great! I may have to try them on a run soon, too. My bum was not the most comfortable, but I think it will survive these shorter distances. If I start going longer, however, something must be done! There was a handful of other cyclists out on the trail this afternoon and I think I've discovered the reason behind the douchiness: cyclists are elitists. I noticed they were quite friendly to me as a fellow cyclist, but as a runner I'm disregarded and treated quite rudely. So being the ambassador I am between the running and cycling communities, I made it a point to smile at every person I passed, on wheels and on foot. A couple runners even looked a bit taken aback! Kindness, people, kindness. We're all out there sweating together, right?

Next week I plan to incorporate some brick workouts into my routine. At first I thought, "oh no big deal, a short run after a ride will be no problem." But then I stepped off my bike after my ride today and hello jello legs! Wow. This could be really entertaining!

p.s. Just found out I was 6th in my age group for the E.T. Marathon!