December 30, 2010

Holiday Goods

I must have done something right this year because Christmas was very good to me! Not surprisingly, a few of my gifts were fitness related : ) Imagine that! My mom got me the bright purple Nike tempo shorts I'd been eyeing at work for months, and my dad got me a gift certificate for more yoga and a super fancy bike trainer! I was hoping for a basic trainer, but was totally shocked to get this amazing fluid one from Blackburn. I can't wait to test it out along with the Garmin cadence/power sensor my mom got me for my birthday a couple weeks ago. Yay for cycling!
Although running and triathlon are big interests of mine they aren't the only things I enjoy! My uncle got me this beautiful navy blue dress I had put on my list. It fits perfectly and can be dressed up or down!
I also happen to be a huge movie buff and have a ridiculous collection of DVDs. This Christmas I added 11 more to my collection!
I was certainly spoiled this year and I'm so grateful to have such a wonderful and generous family. I think I did pretty well on the other end as a gift giver, though. I gave my dad a Garmin Forerunner 110 since he's been running a lot more lately and I gifted my mom Fleet Feet's beginner's 5k training program so she can continue the running she started this past summer. Anyone else score some awesome goods this holiday season??

I can't believe tomorrow is the last day of 2010... Holy cow! I'll be heading to Marin with my coworker for an afternoon hike followed by a bbq and concert before ringing in the new year at midnight. I'm working on a post recapping this epic past year which I'll hopefully have up in the next couple of days. Until then, here's to an amazing 2011, and Happy New Year my friends!!

December 29, 2010

That Run

I've been fighting a vicious cycle lately. After CIM I knew I needed a break, which I gladly welcomed. I took many a rest day, bulked up on cross-training, and ran a few times, always keeping it short. But after a couple weeks of taking it easy I started to get a little anxious. After all, I'm going to be running 50 miles in a matter of months! A couple of my post-CIM runs were tougher than expected so I've been worried about my loss in fitness, but instead of simply getting back out there I've been avoiding it and choosing yoga or Jillian instead. Enter: vicious cycle of laziness and lack of running.

Last night the hard truth hit me though. I was surfing the web looking for some examples of 50 mile training plans (not a whole lot, btw) and the common theme was their duration: 16-24 weeks, on average. Some even recommended taking an entire year to prepare! I pulled up my calendar and began to count backward from April 9th...15 weeks. Ummm, shit. Talk about motivation to get my butt in gear! I still don't have an official plan yet. In fact, I probably won't be able to use any kind of super specific plan since my work schedule varies so much. Instead, I want to focus on a few key components to focus on during training, which I'll elaborate more on in a future post. My primary goal, however, is to simply get in as much trail time as possible. I'm hoping to get some advice from my ultra veteran coworker and get some sort of "plan" ready to kick off the new year.

I had the day off today and had made plans to go to yoga later in the day, but after reminding myself of the impending race mentioned above, I decided to go for an impromptu run just before yoga. I didn't set out for any specific distance, but I had time to do 4-5. The nagging rain had finally stopped and the sky broke to reveal a beautiful blue sky, sun streaming from behind the clouds. The grass was a vibrant green thanks to recent showers and the air was cool and crisp. My goal was to keep the pace easy and relaxed and focus on listening to my body. I brought along my Garmin (of course) but didn't allow myself to look at the pace during the entire run. As I started out I was greeted with a nasty head wind but I was so glad to be back out there and feeling good that I hardly cared. For about the first mile I had a weird, sharp, and persistent pain in one of my toes. It was a completely new sensation and I actually had to curl all my toes under just to continue running. After I warmed up it went away, but it will definitely be something to keep an eye on.

Mid-run I decided to do 5 miles. I was feeling good and made sure to reign in my pace when I started to speed up. I even used a trick à la Aron to keep things nice and slow: I avoided my usual fast tempo songs, which always seem to make me push harder. In my previous runs I've started out feeling good but tend to bonk a bit toward the end, but today I felt so good toward the end that I felt like I could keep running for miles : ) I even started singing aloud to myself! When I finished I was surprised to find that I had actually been running my faster pace and average 9:48 over the 5 miles. It was just one of those runs where everything falls into place, the kind of run that is few and far between but is the reason we continue to run, hoping our next one will be that one.
so lovely (source)

p.s. Yoga did not happen unfortunately thanks to holiday hours. Instead I had a little date with Jillian : ) How's two workouts in one day for getting things started on the right foot?!

December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas full of food, friends, and family. Lots of gifts were exchanged and I got some great new stuff I'll be sharing with you soon! Oddly enough, most of my gifts for my family just happened to come in Fleet Feet wrapping : ) What can I say, I didn't have time to shop anywhere else!
 lots of presents under the tree
 merry christmas from my little reindeer!

December 24, 2010

Gimme a Break, Gimme a Break

No, I'm not talking about Kit Kat bars : ) Since CIM I've taken a much-needed break from running. I have run a few times, each time a bit better than the last. I can tell that I've lost a little bit of fitness from doing such light cardio these past few weeks, but I'm sure I can get it back quickly. My legs have felt surprisingly good, which I'm attributing to the break and cross-training I've been doing over the last few weeks. I've been going to hot yoga at least once a week and can already see improvements in my practice and increased flexibility. I also broke out my good 'ol No More Trouble Zones dvd for a butt-kicking reunion with Jillian Michaels. I got my coworker, Crystal, hooked on it so at least I have a partner to curse aloud and suffer through the workouts with me : )
she sort of scares me

Besides working out, I also celebrated my 23rd birthday last Thursday. A few Fleet Feet friends of mine went out for a delicious Spanish dinner complete with gourmet cupcakes for dessert : ) I also got a few gifts to spruce up my bike: a speed/cadence sensor from my mom, and a sweet light from my dad. And as a bonus birthday present, I found out the day before that I got in to the Way Too Cool 50k! I'm pretty excited since this solidifies my training/racing plans up until AR 50 in April.
FF girls all dressed up!
polaroid shot at dinner

And so, looking forward. I registered for my first race of 2011, a Resolution Run 10 Miler up in Auburn on New Year's Day which I'll be doing with Crystal. I certainly won't be racing it, I'm just hoping I'll actually be able to run 10 miles without them being completely miserable. I'm looking forward to starting the year off with a good run, though. I've also posted my (tentative) race schedule in the right sidebar. So far it's definitely much shorter of a schedule than this past year, but I'm taking on much bigger challenges. I'll officially be starting my training for Cool and AR 50 in January with some help and advice from my coworker (and very-seasoned ultra runner) Diane. This will mean a lot more trails and a lot more time on my feet. I'm also really hoping to keep up with yoga and Jillian at least once a week as the flexibility, balance, and core strength will all be extremely beneficial for trail running and ultras.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas Eve!!

December 12, 2010

Lottery Luck

Although I haven't really been running much since CIM, I've been eagerly planning my race schedule for 2011 (where the heck did 2010 go?!). While I mentioned my ultrarunning plans and triathlon goals, a couple of hopeful races are not guaranteed. Enter: race lotteries. This past week I put in for both the Way Too Cool 50k and New York City Marathon lotteries and my fingers have been crossed since! I'm hoping to run Cool as both my first ultra and trail race, and also as a training run for AR 50 the following month. As far as NY, that's been on my wish list since I started running, and since I didn't get in last year, I've entered my name again. If I get in, I plan to make New York my goal fall marathon and train hard for a PR. I'll find out about WTC this Wednesday, but New York won't be until March, so I'll have to try and be patient. Wish me luck! Anyone else put in for these races or entered any other race lotteries?
Yesterday morning I went for my first run post-CIM and it wasn't pretty. The lingering soreness in my legs had mostly disappeared by the end of the week and I was getting sort of antsy to do something. So when my coworker asked if I wanted to run Saturday morning, I thought I'd give it a shot and see just how recovered I was. We set out to do 5 miles on my usual loop along the American River, and immediately my legs felt heavy and I was just tired. I thought maybe I just needed to warm up, but after a couple miles I knew it just wasn't going to be a good run. I felt like I was exerting my usual effort and keeping up a good pace, but when I looked down at my Garmin I was running a whole minute slower than usual! We ended up cutting it short to 4 miles, partly due to a time crunch and partly due to my lack of energy. During the last couple miles I also had some pain in my hip joint, so I was more than ready to be done. Later at work, I noticed that my calves had also become seriously tight. Looks like I wasn't quite ready to run, so I'll be sticking to light cross-training for a few more days before I get back on the pavement, including a hot yoga session today to stretch out my tight muscles. How long do you usually take to recover after a marathon?

December 9, 2010

CIM (Race Report)

CIM has come and gone, marking the end of racing for 2010. It didn't quite go as planned, but was a fun experience nonetheless.

Leading up to CIM I didn't have a whole lot of time to rest. I had to work the entire week leading up to it (including Saturday) and since it's the big local marathon, it meant our local running store was pretty slammed. Like I mentioned before though, I didn't really feel like I was running a marathon, right up til the morning of. My training (or lack thereof) consisted of just 5 runs since Clarksburg a few weeks earlier, the longest being 10 miles. Whoops.

I was up at 5am and began my usual pre-race routine. I brought my toast with pb with me to eat on the way to the start up in Folsom, about 20 minutes away. It's kind of nice to run a local marathon for a few reasons:

1. sleeping in your own bed
2. no crazy early wake up calls
3. relatively easy to get to the start
4. familiarity with the course
5. easy for friends and fam to see you!
6. easy to get home after

Much to my surprise we didn't hit any traffic and I was dropped off about a quarter mile from the start line. I figured my next stop would be the line for the port-o-potties, but instead I was greeted with a long line of empty port-o-potties, just waiting to be occupied. For a moment, I thought it was a joke. Were they out of order? Locked? No and no, there were just so many port-o-potties that many of them had no lines! Talk about a runners dream : ) I quickly popped in one and then headed to the starting area. On the drive over I had looked up the hourly forecast, and despite the previous claims of rain, I was happy to see that it was supposed to hold off til later in the afternoon. Sure enough, as the sky began to lighten the clouds were breaking and we could see a clear sky emerging : ) And luckily, unlike last years' freezing temps, we were dealing with balmy temps in the lower 50s.
clear skies!

I walked toward the start line looking for my (faster) coworkers who were running as well. I found Crystal pretty quickly thanks to our matching bright yellow tops. We chatted for a while which helped keep my mind off what was coming, then we finally found Alex just before the start. We took a couple quick pics then I headed back through the throng of runners toward the 4:30 pacers. There were two of them, a guy and a girl, and they both seemed pretty enthusiastic. A few minutes later and we were off!
Fleet Feet buddies : )

The first few miles I stayed just ahead of the pace group. I had heard the first 10 miles were rolling so I wanted to keep them in sight so I'd conserve my energy and not get carried away. Right off the bat, however, I found that their pacing was pretty off. I was running pretty close to the goal pace and yet they kept falling farther behind me. Then at other points in the race they were going nearly a minute faster than goal pace. In the beginning, my strategy worked pretty well. Since I was a ways ahead of the group I could walk short parts of hills or walk through an aid station to take a Gu. The course was indeed rolling, definitely more so than I was expecting, but I just tried to use the downhills to my advantage.

The race started near Folsom Dam and took us through nice, quiet neighborhoods with families out on their long driveways spectating. There was even a stretch of farmland, complete with that pleasant farm aroma : ) I took my first Gu around mile 4.5 but when I went to grab a salt cap from my pocket, I was greeted with powder - all 5 of my caps had exploded! Total bummer. Just before the 10k point we passed the first relay exchange which meant getting passed by lots of fresh legs. Around mile 10 we made our way into old town Fair Oaks with lots of spectators and a nice, long downhill. Around mile 10.5 I saw my first familiar face, my dad. I kept running along, feeling pretty good if a little tired. I reached the halfway point right on time - 2:15 - and somehow spotted another coworker of mine, Julia, who was out there cheering us on. The day had become much warmer than expected, especially in the direct sun, so I eagerly peeled off my arm warmers and gave them to Julia.
mile 10.5
quick wave to dad!

I don't really remember the next few miles, but I do remember thinking that time seemed to be going by fast and the miles seemed to tick by faster than usual. Despite my belief that the hills were over at this point, there continued to be some rollers as we continued along Fair Oaks Blvd. Just past mile 15 I started to get pretty tired and my stomach started to act up. I started burping up the Gu in my stomach and I just couldn't get it to settle. The 4:30 pace group was getting closer and closer and finally around mile 16 they had caught up to me. Based on how I was feeling at that point I knew I couldn't keep up with them for another 10 miles, nor did I want to. I started to feel a bit apathetic, so I forced myself to hang on til mile 17, then I let them go. I was feeling pretty miserable at this point, but thankfully around 17.5 my dad rolled up on his bike. I took several walk breaks as he asked how I was doing and if I needed anything. I was parched so he got me a water bottle from a police officer and I took another Gu. It was nice to have someone to complain talk to and eventually I started running again.
 mile 17.5ish
 trudging along...
i always smile for a camera : )
that orange was so gooood!

Slowly my stomach started feeling better, although by now my body was aching pretty badly. I trudged along, breaking up the miles by landmarks and walking when I needed to. I saw another coworker, Diane (my future pacer for AR50), around 19 which gave me another little boost. I saw my mom for the first and only time around mile 20 and finally got a couple salt caps in me. We crossed over the J street bridge where Fair Oaks Blvd. becomes J street, with the American River running underneath. It had started to cool off at this point which felt great, and I could tell the rain would be coming in just a couple hours. I saw my aunt at mile 22, ready with iPhone video recorder in hand, then continued along what had been the first part of the Run to Feed the Hungry course. J street was packed with spectators and had beautiful fall foliage as well as signs of Christmas : )
 thumbs up on the bridge
 American River
 J street bridge
fall colors along J street

My dad had stuck with me on his bike all this way but as we entered midtown some cops started hassling him to "get off the course". Let me explain. All four lanes were open for runners, but only the right two were being used. My dad was riding (extremely slowly) next to me in the inside left lane, away from all the other runners, not causing any problems. Being the type of person he is, he stopped to argue with the cops while I continued on, hoping he wouldn't get himself arrested. Luckily, he always caught back up to me : ) At this point I was ready to be done. I was running more now with only a few short walk breaks, and I saw more familiar faces, two coworkers and coaches, which gave me a final boost toward the finish. The last mile I picked up my pace and soon I spotted the Capitol. I gave my dad my race belt and said good-bye then followed the crowd and noise around the corner for the last .2 miles.
 on to the finish!

I somehow found a finishing kick and sprinted to the finish right in front of the state Capitol, elated to be done. While I didn't quite get my 4:30 goal, I still managed my second fastest marathon time - 4:43:15. I got my medal and space blanket and made my way to a bench to sit down and wait for my parents. Per usual, my legs began to throb and I could feel 3 toenails ready to say adios. My folks finally found me and we took some pics in front of the Capitol and the giant Christmas tree before heading out. My calves were insanely tight, to the point where I had to walk straight-legged to the car.
oh hey, Capitol
 CIM finisher
me & dad, my personal pacer
Although I didn't exactly train specifically for CIM, I'm so glad I did it. It was fun to run a course on my home turf and to have so many familiar faces out there. I am extremely grateful to my dad for biking alongside me for the last 8 miles - I can truthfully say that I would have walked a lot more and been in a far more bitter mood had I been alone. Thanks again, dad! Luckily I didn't have to work the next day, but I have been extremely sore and stiff the past couple days. I'm only now starting to move without hobbling or wincing. CIM certainly closed off my 2010 races with a bang, and will be a race I remember for a long time to come.
CIM, marathon #8

December 4, 2010

Game Plan

So, here we are on the eve of CIM. It's a very strange thing, because it doesn't seem like I'm running a marathon in the morning. I've only run 5 times since the disastrous Clarksburg 20 miler thanks to burnout and nagging aches. I just don't feel like I'm coming off of marathon training, probably because I haven't. My legs don't exactly feel fresh and raring to go, but I'm simply hoping that this break will have ultimately done me some good. I think I've lost a little bit of fitness, but honestly, I just did a marathon like a month ago, so I must still have some left (right?!?!).

Several months ago I talked my original running buddy from Santa Barbara, Tom, into signing up to run CIM with me. I would be moving back to Sac, so it seemed like a great way to keep in touch and then eventually meet up again. Unfortunately the plan has changed. A couple days ago his dog got really sick so he opted to stay with him and back out of CIM. I can totally understand the decision, although I'm admittedly bummed we won't be running another marathon together. And so, with the turn of events, I've had to rethink my goals. Above all, I will be running this, not racing. My body is just not prepared to push it and mentally I just don't want the pressure. I've decided on a plan of action, however, complete with a back up plan. I'm going to start out with the 4:30 pace group. I really enjoyed running with a pacer at the Urban Cow Half and set my PR there. As I've said before, I'm terrible at running even splits so it's great to be able to have someone else worry about that. I think this would be a reasonable pace for me, slower that most of my runs have been for a while, but it would give me a PR by 4 minutes. Now it's very possible that I could have a bad day though, and in that case I will drop back and hopefully catch the 4:45 pace group. I've come to terms that it could go either way.

Despite the forecast earlier this week proclaiming dry skies for Sunday, it's currently looking like it's going to be a wet one. Now I love running in the rain, but I'm not so sure about running a marathon in the rain. I have my outfit laid out, but since it's only going to be wet and not freezing (thank goodness) I'm only going with one layer - Brooks capris, Nike t-shirt with arm sleeves, and my earwarmer headband. Hopefully this is a winning combo. If it ends up being a downpour, I'm just totally screwed.
CIM outfit, minus visor, plus arm sleeves

This will be my final race of 2010, 6th marathon this year, and 8th marathon overall. I'm looking forward to the experience of running in my hometown, seeing a ton of familiar faces, and the accomplishment of covering 26.2 miles. My parents will be out on the course as well as several coworkers so I have that to look forward to. I'm just really hoping for a good day, wish me luck!