January 31, 2011

AR 50 Week Four + January


This week began as usual, with the best intentions, only to have things derailed by an unfortunately timed cold : / Trying to look at the bigger picture, I scrapped a few runs this week to rest, including my weekend long run. So my mileage for the week is much lower than planned, but life happens and I'm ready to get back to it this week.

4 miles, 9:10 avg pace + 90 min hot yoga. On Mondays I like to fit my run in just before yoga, that way I avoid feeling sweaty/gross for an extended period of time and only need one shower : ) Well, I didn't quite give myself enough time this week so instead of my planned 5 I squeezed in a quick 4 miles. Better than nothing!

10 miles, 9:29 avg pace. I wasn't sure how long I wanted to go for my midweek medium-long run. I thought about dropping down the miles to 8 or 9, but once I got going I felt pretty good so mid-run I decided to do an 8 miles loop on the parkway bike path then swing home, pick up my pooch and take her along for another 2 in my neighborhood.


5 miles, 9:24 avg pace. Early morning run before work traipsing through the crazy fog with my pup. Seriously, I couldn't see more than 10 feet in front of me! I felt a little sluggish during the run but, of course, much better after and glad I got up and got the miles in. That night, however, I started to feel a bit rundown with some telltale signs that something was coming on...

Rest. I woke up this morning to find that my symptoms from the night before had indeed turned into a cold. With the weekend coming up (meaning longer running and busy work days) I figured it would be smart to take a sick day. Luckily, being sick coincided with my planned rest day, so I just stayed in bed all day, sleeping and reading on my Kindle.

Rest (sick). After taking a day off from work to get over my cold, I figured it wasn't a very good idea to get up early and run, so trying to look at the bigger picture, I took another rest day.

Rest (sick). I actually had grand plans to get up and do a long run on the roads. My usual trail buddy, Diane, had done her long run Saturday and so with no one else to accompany me on the trails I figured the road was my only option. Well, lo and behold I still felt like crap when I woke up early, so I promptly hit snooze and skipped yet another run. Once again, I was trying to think of the bigger picture and not dwell on the fact that my weekly mileage would now be just half that of last week. I headed to work that afternoon, only to be mercifully sent home a couple hours later since we were slow. I guess no one wanted to be around a sickie...I felt like such a leper!

I'm feeling better today, although not 100%, but managed to fit in my usual workout. If anything, this little cold has reminded me how important rest and recovery are as I continue to amp up my training. Hopefully I've kicked it and I have no more hiccups in training from here on out!

Total: 19 miles



Week One
Week Two
Week Three
Week Four
Total: 132.8 miles

Hard to believe the first month of 2011 is already over! As usual, the weeks flew by, along with lots of running. In fact, I hit both my highest weekly mileage ever in January and my highest monthly mileage ever! I kicked off the month (and the new year) with my first race of 2011, the Resolution Run 10 Miler up in Auburn. It was my first trail race, too, and while it was chilly, rainy, and ridiculously muddy, it was a fun way to kick things off and really set the tone for my ultra training. This month I also kicked off training for my upcoming ultra races, Way Too Cool 50k in March, and AR 50 in April. I've got some great time in on the trails and have really started to get into a routine with training, fitting in weekly yoga and some strength training (note to self: need more of the latter!). February is looking to be even busier, but with a few fun races and runs to keep things interesting : )

January 28, 2011

Sick Day

Perhaps my training has finally caught up to me, or maybe my body is just exhausted from hitting higher mileage last week. Yesterday I started to feel that nagging feeling in my throat and my head felt a little foggy, and this morning I woke up sick. So much so that not only did I bag my planned run, I also called in sick for work for the first time. I took a DayQuil then crawled back in bed and slept through the afternoon. Is it weird that I felt guilty for not going to work? I did, but I also figured that it was in everyone's best interest if I rested up so this cold doesn't have a chance to get worse and really lay me out. I'm probably going to skip tomorrow's planned run for the same reason. I'm still hoping to get some time in on the trails on Sunday, but I have to see how I feel and see what others have planned. I did manage to keep up with my usual runs this week, but thanks to this cold throwing off my weekend plans it looks like it's going to be a drop-down week for mileage. I'm just taking it as my body's way of telling me to ease up a bit and get more sleep!


While I know I'm still just in training for my first big events of this year, I couldn't help but start thinking ahead. As I mentioned before, the first quarter of the year I'm dedicating to trail running and ultras, culminating with AR 50 in early April. Immediately after that, however (and after some recovery, of course), I'll be switching gears to focus on the multisport world of triathlon. My big goal race is Vineman 70.3 mid-July, which will be my first half Ironman and my longest tri distance to date. I figured it might be smart, however, to get a couple more shorter races under my belt in the months leading up to Vineman, so I scoped out the net and found my key training races: the Auburn Sprint Triathlon on May 22 and then the Sacramento International Triathlon, a local olympic distance race on June 18. Timing-wise these races work out perfectly. The sprint will kick off the season for me with just a few weeks of training under my belt, so I'll be able to see just how much work I have to do! Coming off AR 50 I know I'll still have a good deal of fitness to work with, and I'm also hoping to incorporate some swimming and cycling as cross-training during the month before the 50. As for the Sac Triathlon, it takes place exactly a month before Vineman and will be my first race attempting the olympic distance. I know this is all a few months down the road, but I'm sure time will fly so better to get things laid out now!


Switching topics, a huge bonus of working at a running store, as you might have guessed, is having access to free stuff to test out. Yesterday we were teched by a rep from SCOTT, a brand we just brought in, about their performance shoes and I have to say I was pretty impressed and couldn't wait to get my hands on some to test out! Well, lucky me I snagged a pair of the amazing T2s : ) The highlight of this shoe is a slight rocker bottom that helps aid natural running motion from heel or midfoot strike to toe-off. I'm excited to try them out and I'll be back with a full review soon!


I got an email today that registration for the 2011 Chicago Marathon opens on February 1st. Chicago is a big race on my wish list, and another state, so I was planning on running it this year if I don't get into New York. The problem, however, is that I won't know about NY until April at least. Anyone know how fast Chicago sells out? Or anyone have any suggestions? I need a goal race for fall, and these would both give me a chance to take mini-vactions, too : )

Happy TGIF!

January 24, 2011

AR 50 Week Three


Week 3 of training brought with it my highest mileage week ever! I got in some quality runs, including a double digit run midweek and my first 3 hour run on the trails. I ended up with 40 miles for the week (a big jump from week two) and also surpassed the 100 miles mark for the month of January. Legs are feeling pretty strong, but man am I tired at the end of each day!

5.1 miles, 9:27 avg pace + 90 min hot yoga. Easy afternoon run, then headed straight to yoga! I think this workout combo is going to become a Monday tradition. Since I usually have the day off from work it's a lot easier to fit in two workouts. Plus it will be nice to stretch my muscles out in yoga after my long runs on Sundays.

10 miles, 9:37 avg pace. Midweek medium-long run, bumping things up from last week. Had planned on doing 9 but felt pretty good so I tacked on another one at the end. I think Tuesdays will be medium-long run days since I have the day off and can go in the late afternoon instead of getting up early and running in frigid temps!
Rest. Had hoped to either do a short, easy run or a Jillian sesh, but alas, it was not meant to be. I'm still working on building up to 6 days of running, but so far my body doesn't like to do more than 5 so we'll see...

5 miles, 9:28 avg pace. Dragged my butt out of bed before work to squeeze in this run. Felt so much better the rest of the day!


6 miles, 9:10 avg pace. Had plans to go up to the trails but they fell through so I thought I'd fit in a longish run. When my alarm went off super early though 10 miles became 8, then 7, then finally 6 since that was all I had time for after snoozing the alarm so many times! I ran into a coworker half way through and realized I was running late so I hauled booty on the second half, going from running 9:30s to 8:30s to get home in time! Unplanned tempo run? I'll take it!

14 miles, 13:34 avg pace. Didn't have to be at work til 11:30 so I took advantage of the later start and hit the trails early, hoping to finally get in a run on the trails longer than 2 hours. The drive up was unbelievably foggy, so much so that I couldn't see which way the lanes on the freeway turned! But as I got closer to Auburn I was met with a gorgeous sunrise : )
Diane and a few folks were running at 8, but I wanted to start a bit earlier so I met a coworker, Heather, at the Auburn Overlook at 7 and we headed out for a few miles. It was Heather's first trail run ever, so it was fun to show her how different it was from the roads! Just before we got back to our cars we ran into Diane, who had just headed out. So with just under 4 miles under my belt I said adios to Heather and headed right back out with Diane. We ran the same course as last week, winding along the American River Canyon and heading down to No Hands Bridge. We crossed the river then went another mile before turning around and heading back. That last mile was a long steady incline, but barreling down it the other way was great! I wore my new Camelbak hydration pack for the first time on a run and really loved it. It was so nice not to be holding a handheld the whole time and to be able to fit all my other stuff in there. I'll have a full review (along with info on some other goods) soon!
 American River Canyon
bridge shot: No Hands below, Foresthill Suspension above
my most hated hill

It was a gorgeous day which meant spectacular views, but I tried to refrain from taking too many pics so I would actually make it back to my car in time : ) I ran ahead of Diane on the way back and ran the majority of the rest solo since I was on a time crunch. As I made my way back I checked my Garmin and realized that I would only be at 13.5 miles when I got back to my car. My goal had been 14, since that would put me at 40 miles for the week - my highest mileage ever! I thought maybe I could add it on at the very end but I was already pushing for time so I had to head straight to work. The rest of the day the thought of that last half mile killed me, to the point that I wanted to just run down the street in the middle of work to get it in! Instead, when I got home after work the first thing I did was walk right back out the door with my Garmin and run around my block in my work clothes til it beeped 14. I know, I'm a freak!
blue skies : )

Total: 40.1 miles

January 22, 2011

Soul Searching

"Perhaps the genius of ultrarunning is its supreme lack of utility. It makes no sense in a world of space ships and supercomputers to run vast distances on foot. There is no money in it and no fame, frequently not even the approval of peers. But as poets, apostles and philosophers have insisted from the dawn of time, there is more to life than logic and common sense. The ultra runners know this instinctively. And they know something else that is lost on the sedentary. They understand, perhaps better than anyone, that the doors to the spirit will swing open with physical effort. In running such long and taxing distances they answer a call from the deepest realms of their being -- a call that asks who they are ..." 
- David Blaikie

January 17, 2011

AR 50 Week Two


Another week of ultra training in the books! Managed to hit most of my goals for the week, minus a Jillian workout. Upped the mileage a bit from Week One and feeling pretty good!

5 miles (3 @ tempo), 9:00 avg pace. First tempo run for this training cycle! Was aiming for tempo pace around 8:50, but ended up closer to 8:30s. Whoops! I felt good and my legs felt strong. Tempo splits: 8:33, 8:34, 8:30.

4 miles, 9:32 avg pace + 90 min hot yoga. Squeezed in a quick and easy run before heading to hot yoga with my dad! Felt a little tired during yoga but still managed all the poses. I'm hoping I can maintain this run+yoga day each week!

9 miles, 9:43 avg pace. Another midweek medium-long run. Luckily I didn't have to be at work til noon so I could sleep in a bit before running. Bumped it up by a mile from last week and ran the opposite direction on the bike trail. Beautiful, cool morning, and happy to get the miles in before work!

Rest. Had thought about running or doing Jillian, but realized I had run for 5 days straight and needed some rest.

4 miles, 9:30 avg pace. So proud of myself for this one! Just 4 miles, I know, but it was one of those where I woke up and was tired, changed my mind to sleep instead, even reset my alarm, only to resolve a couple minutes later that I'm training for a 50 miler, damnit, I need to get up! And so I did, and I felt so much better the rest of the day.


9.12 miles, 14:22 avg pace. Another trail run with Diane, this time from the Auburn Overlook to just passed No Hands Bridge and back along the Western States trail. Once again I was limited on time because I had to work all day, but I figured I could get at least a couple hours in on the trails. We met up at the Overlook, the same place as the Resolution Run, and got going. It was crazy foggy and a little chilly but I warmed up quickly. Luckily the trails had dried out a bit since the race a couple weeks ago, but there were still a few really muddy spots that we had to sludge through. A couple miles in we were met with a breathtaking view of the vivid blue American River gushing through the canyon, a layer of mist suspended above. Not long after that we came across another photo-op: a gushing water fall cascading over moss covered rocks!
oh so foggy
ummm what!? a waterfall mid-run?!

We made it to No Hands Bridge and crossed over the river (with more stunning views) and made it about another before checking the time and needing to turn back. As we headed downhill I pulled my phone out of my pocket to take (yet another) picture and suddenly realized that my car key, which had also been in that pocket, was no longer there. Crap! We back tracked for almost 10 minutes before I decided that I could've lost it anywhere along the trail, so I called my mom to meet me at the Overlook with my spare. Thanks to the detour we were cutting time pretty close. Not only did we have to get back to our cars, but then I still had a 40 minute drive home and I would definitely need a shower. Just past No Hands we ran into a miracle: we came across another runner, who Diane happened to know, and he asked us if we'd lost a key! Hallelujah! He told us he'd left it on a rock back by one of the muddy sections, and so a little more relieved, we kept on truckin'. I didn't realized on the way out how hilly the route was, but on the way back it all came rushing back. Some sections we could do nothing but hike as my hamstrings and calves burned.
 crossing No Hands Bridge
(Foresthill Suspension Bridge in upper left)
 yet another waterfall!
 sun coming out... Foresthill Suspension Bridge in the distance
 elevation gain: 3,412 ft, loss: 3,291 ft
A couple miles from the end Diane ran into another runner she knew and stopped to chat, meanwhile I checked my watch and freaked out when I realized I was running waaaay behind. When we finally got moving again I hauled booty back to the cars, only to find that I had one hour to get to work. I hit the roads going well past the speed limit and decided mid-drive that it would save me time to go straight to work if I could get my mom to drop off some clothes. I got to work with about 5 minutes to spare and went straight to the shower. I still ended up being about 15 minutes late, but considering all the circumstances I did pretty well. The rest of the day at work was absolute chaos, so much so that I never got to have lunch : / This, along with the run and hectic start at work made for a very grumpy mood. It's been such a challenge to fit in these long runs on the trail on top of work. I was hoping to get more like 12 miles in, but had to make due with 9ish. Still, it was time on the trails with absolutely beautiful scenery, so I guess I won't complain too much : )

Total: 31.12 miles

January 14, 2011

"Hood to Coast" Movie Review

On 1/1/11, a documentary covering the infamous Hood to Coast Relay hit theaters for one night only, and you better believe I didn't miss it! I've always wanted to do a relay (hopefully Ragnar Relay NorCal as my first this Sept.), but after watching the film this want has become a need. And Hood to Coast, specifically, has been added to my race wishlist. The film was beautifully shot and funny, sad, endearing, and inspiring all at once. From the website, here's the synopsis:

HOOD TO COAST follows four unlikely teams on their epic journey to conquer the world's largest relay race. The film captures the love, dedication, and insanity of the every day runner as well as the excitement, pain, and humor of the unprepared first timer. Their stories are reminders that no matter who you are, you can push yourself beyond where you thought your limits were. 

Each year 1,000 teams (12,000 runners) in 2,000 vans cover 197 grueling miles as a relay, putting themselves through an arduous physical journey that as an individual would be impossible. 

Some run to test their personal limits, some to overcome personal obstacles, and others leap in blindly looking for a way to shake up a complacent life. As we follow four teams from their preparations through the big day, we realize that winning isn't everything in a film that takes a celebratory look at personal motivation and attempting the extraordinary.

The four teams show the diversity that this famous race draws. We get doses of humor from the aging, but still competitive, Masters runners of "The Dead Jocks" and the woefully under-prepared and inexperienced animators-by-day, "Thunder and Laikaning". Then you have the teams for whom the relay means so much more: "Heart N' Sole", a group of 50+ women for whom this year is more special (and nerve-wracking) than most as team member Kathy runs nearly 1 year after collapsing on the course from a heart attack; and team "R.Bowe", a medley of family and friends of Ryan Bowe (who first ran HtC at age 12 with his dad), who banded together to run the relay in his honor, both celebrating his life and grieving their loss with each step.

The race itself has exploded in popularity in it's 29 years, now requiring a lottery entry to participate. From the website:
The annual Hood To Coast Relay has run every year since 1982. The race started as an inauspicious event for a group of dedicated runners to stretch their legs and expand on the everyday running experience. Bob Foote, the race founder, had run track with the famous Men of Oregon at the University of Oregon. Marathons had lost their appeal, and to keep himself interested in the sport he loved, he decided to organize an unheard of adventure, running from Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood to the Oregon Coast.

The idea was that 12 people would divide themselves into two groups of six, run three legs each and cover the nearly 200 mile distance from the mountain to the ocean. Running all through the night, it was an adventure for hard-core runners and sleep was secondary to striving for their fastest time.

More importantly, the race has become an adventure not only for serious athletes, but amateur runners and thrill seekers. Team names began to describe not only the origins of the team, but the attitude they would carry with them on the course. Today, teams decorate their vans and take on a race persona, lending a carnival atmosphere to the entire race.
As I said, the film was well-made and as a runner, quite entertaining, too. I loved how they shared a sample of the variety of experiences that are part of Hood to Coast and the wide range of people who participate. You really get a sense of community from the event, similar to that at any race when runners, volunteers, and spectators all come together in the name of running. And to see that on such a grand scale as Hood to Coast was awesome. From what I've heard, the film may be making an encore appearance in theaters, but will definitely be available to check out on DVD in the near future. If you didn't already, be sure to check it out!

Did anyone else see "Hood to Coast" on Tuesday? Have any of you run a relay before?

January 11, 2011

Resolution Run 10 Miler (Race Report)

Wow, I've owed this race report for a while! Whoops : ) Anyway, the Resolution Run 10 Miler on January 1st was a first for me in a couple ways. It was my first race of 2011 and also my first trail race. The latter was quite fitting as I'm devoting the first half of this year to the trails as I begin training for my spring ultra races. I have no photos to liven up the post so I'll try and make the recap short and sweet.

Crystal and I drove back from Marin where we'd spent New Year's Eve super early. I was quite sore, mostly in my quads, from our hike the day before, and I was exhausted from the late night and early morning. Since the race wasn't until later that afternoon (thank goodness) I was able to fit in a nap beforehand. Unfortunately it ended up being one of those naps where you wake up feeling groggy instead of refreshed. I left about an hour before the race and headed to Auburn. Now I'd never actually been to Auburn so I completely underestimated how long it would take to get there. I ended up getting to the start literally just as they yelled go! I jumped into the back of the pack so I could pull myself together a bit and then I was off and running!

The first few miles were mostly downhill on paved roads winding in the American River Canyon. The temps were cool and there was a beautiful mist hovering over the river way down below. It was so gorgeous, I wish I had stopped to take pics! About a mile in the 10k split from the 10 mile and the runners thinned out, leaving just a couple runners in eyesight. Soon we entered our first stretch of trail, a steep rocky uphill, which I immediately chose to power walk, as did those in front and behind me. Then we were back on the roads through about mile 5. The rest of the course, however, ended up being mostly on trails and got more challenging as the miles went by. It was an extremely hilly course, so I just allowed myself to walk any steep sections and then take advantage of the flats and downhills. Speaking of downhills, there was about a mile long stretch on the road that was at such a steep decline that I was literally afraid I would lose control of my legs and go tumbling down to my demise! And man, I now know what people mean when they say that downhills will trash your quads : /
not my pic, but this is what it looked like (source)

The final third of the course was really tough for me because the single track trails had become so muddy. It had been raining the previous couple days, and combined with a bunch of runners traipsing along the trail, things had become pretty slick and muddy. I was wearing my regular road shoes (I've since smartened up and invested in some trail shoes) and was slipping and sliding all over the place. In fact I had to walk most of the last mile just so I wouldn't fall on my ass (it was a New Year's miracle that I stayed upright the entire race!). It started to rain during the last few miles, making things a lot muddier and making me a lot colder and miserable and ready to be done. I was trying out a fueling supplement called Vespa (more to come) and so I'd decided not to take any gels, etc. In hindsight, I think I should have taken a Gu for the last half.

I came in at 2:00:34, much later than I had predicted but SO glad to be done. My fingers were frozen to the point that I could barely grab my car key and I couldn't even grip the steering wheel! I was soaked and chilled to the bone, so I peeled off my muddy, wet clothes and demolished shoes and turned the heater up to high where it remained the entire hour long drive home. I think I could have certainly done better under different circumstances, but I still enjoyed the run, got more trail experience under my belt, and kicked off 2011 with a nice, long run. That make it a win in my book : )

January 10, 2011

The Ultra Plan + AR 50 Week One

As I mentioned before, my training plan for my upcoming ultras (50k in March, 50 miler in April) is going to be a little nontraditional and quite flexible. Due to my constantly changing work schedule I can't exactly map out each run/workout over the next few months, so instead I have certain key components that I hope to incorporate into each week of training.

long runs on the trails
By far the most important component. Since the general opinion on ultra training is "time on your feet" over specific mileage, I'm going to aim for time out on the trails for my long runs. Since I'm a total newbie when it comes to trail running, it's especially important for me to spend as much time on them as possible. These long runs are going to be a challenge for me in several ways, however. First, finding the time to fit in a 2-4 hour long run out on the trails (requires driving to location) is going to be tough to fit in with my work schedule (working most weekends). Not to mention that I can't exactly do these solo, since I'm not familiar with the trails and because it wouldn't exactly be safe. My coworker, Diane, is training for the Western States 100 this summer and is a great trail running buddy but our schedules often don't match up. I've got a couple key long runs planned, however, and actually requested the entire days off. First up is a WS 100 training run in February of approximately 20 miles of the course. Then, of course, I've got the Way Too Cool 50k in March, which will be my first official ultra and also my longest training run leading up to AR 50. The rest of my long runs I'll sort of be winging it from weekend to weekend.

There is definitely some debate as to the benefit of back-to-back long runs for ultra training. The idea is to follow your main long run with a shorter (but still "long") run the next day so your legs get used to running fatigued. After talking to Diane and also thinking about my schedule, I'm not sure it's best for me, nor would I have the time to do real back-to-backs. Instead I plan on doing a recovery run of anywhere from 6-10 miles following my weekly long run.

tempos and hills
Although a lot of doing ultras is about slowing down and going far, I think it is still beneficial to incorporate some faster runs. Therefore I will be incorporating a tempo run, ranging from 5-7 miles (total, 3-4 miles being at tempo pace) at least once every other week. On the alternating weeks I plan to do some good 'ol hill repeats (probably on my freeway overpass? haha). Most ultras have lots of hills, and although many of the big ones get walked I want to strengthen my legs so I can power up at least some of them!

Although I'm going to be upping my mileage more than I ever have, this is one of the most important components that I will not sacrifice! It is so crucial, especially for ultra training. I'm going to continue with hot yoga and my Jillian Michaels circuit workout, doing each at least once a week (I'd like to build up to Jillian 2 days a week but we'll see). This may mean doing some two-a-day workouts since I also need to fit in my miles. Of course my runs on these days will be kept on the shorter side and at an easy pace.

midweek medium-long run
In an effort to increase my weekly mileage I will be incorporating a medium long run into the middle of the week, ranging from 8-10 miles. I'm going to keep these at a relatively easy pace and will run most of them on the parkway bike path (the first section of AR 50 is on the bike path after all).

recovery runs and rest days
While I do want to focus on quality runs during this training cycle I know that short recovery runs will be important, too. And sometimes, they may be all I have time for. So as much as I want to start running more mileage and running longer distance, I have to remind myself that if I can only fit in 4 miles one day, it's better than nothing and may be just what my body needs. On the flip side, I will be taking at least one full rest day per week. This training cycle is going to be, by far, the most challenging one I've taken on, and I don't want overtraining, injuries, or burnout to get in the way. This means, in addition to resting, I need to get a lot better at my active recovery! Note to self: this means more foam rolling and trigger pointing, stretching, ice baths, compression socks, staying hydrated, and smart refueling after hard runs/workouts.

So, there you have it. I'm really hoping this plan will get me to the start line in April feeling ready and healthy! I'll be posting weekly training recaps (hopefully every Monday) to help me keep track of my training so feel free to check back in and see how things are going! Speaking of, here's how week one of training went.


Rest. Still a bit sore from my hike and trail race!

4 miles, 9:23 avg pace. Another early morning run before work. Temps here have become frigid in the morning!

8 miles, 9:49 avg pace. My first midweek medium-long run, I actually felt pretty good!

90 min hot yoga. Was going to be a two-a-day with an easy run before, but lost track of time : /


9 miles, 10:58 avg pace. Met up with Diane and friends for my first official "long" trail run of this training plan. I only had a couple hours since I had to work, but I figured I would just fit in as many miles as possible. Better than nothing, right? Anyway, we were supposed to meet at 7am but Diane's friends were running late so we didn't get started til 20 minutes later. We started from the Sac State Aquatic Center and hopped on a section of the trail that I'll be running for AR 50. I just have to say that I'm pretty lucky to be able to train on the actual course of my 50 miler! Hopefully this will end of being an advantage for me : ) It was a little muddy but I felt SO great! I finally bought some trail shoes (Mizuno Wave Ascend) and I love them! It was great to finally have some traction on the muddy trails, and they were just as comfortable and functional on the paved road. I'll post a full review soon! I was also trying out a fueling supplement called Vespa (will post on this soon, too) and I just felt really energized and focused.
 the start of the trail...
At one point we made the wrong turn and ended up on the paved bike path right along Lake Natoma where we spotted a river otter! We were supposed to be on the bluffs above us, overlooking the lake. Whoops! We made a pit stop to refill our water after 4.5 miles and I realized I had to be back at my car in 40 minutes! Crap! The plan had been that I'd cross over a bridge and head back on the opposite side, but because of the late start we hadn't made it. So instead, I was sent back on the bike trail, unsure of how far it was back to the Aquatic Center, so I just hauled ass! My pace dropped by more than a minute per mile, but surprisingly I was feeling good, and I was even sans Ipod. I finally made it back having covered exactly 9 miles. Not as many as I'd hoped, but it was still some good time on the trails.
 bike path along Lake Natoma
the bluffs

6 miles, 9:31 avg pace. First back-to-back run and legs felt a little tired but managed to get faster with each mile!

Total: 27 miles

January 6, 2011

New Years Eve Hike!

Instead of the usual partying to ring in the new year, I spent my final day of 2010 being a little more active. My coworker, Crystal, invited me to come along on a hike in Marin with some of her friends followed by a homemade dinner and some live music. We headed to Mill Valley early that morning and after a winding drive up Mt. Tamalpais we all met up at the trailhead. We took off on the Matt Davis Trail, starting out on single track trails through grassy, rolling hills. The terrain quickly changed and soon we were under the cover of trees, surrounded by huge trees, leafy ferns, gurgling brooks, and moss-covered bridges. So gorgeous! The descent went by quickly with lots of conversation and picture taking on my part. I ended up doing a bit of a run/walk since I would stop to take pics and fall behind and then run to catch up! This trail would be great for trail running (the descent, at least). I brought along my new Camelbak for the first time and really liked it - I think it's going to work well for my upcoming trail running!
these steps would suck on the way back!

After 3 miles the trail spit us out at Stinson Beach where we stopped for lunch. It got quite chilly after we stopped moving so Crystal and I took off down the beach for a quick run to try and warm up. At one point we decided we'd warm up faster if we sprinted so we did some short bursts through the sand It's been a long time since I've ran that fast... I forgot how fun it can be! Much warmer, we headed back to the trail for the ascent. I don't know if I was just too distracted by the scenery or what, but I did not realize how steep parts of the trail were! The trek back up seriously kicked my butt. My calves, quads, and glutes were on fire! It actually didn't take us that much longer on the return trip than it did going down. When we got back to the grassy hills we stopped at a vista point and in the far off distance we could see San Francisco and the Golden Gate in one direction and the beach we'd just been at in the other. It took us a little more than 2 hours to cover the 6 mile hike and we were all pretty tired, hungry, and cold when we finished.
 Stinson Beach
 heading back up!
 group shot
 you can never outgrow climbing trees!

We headed back to Crystal's friend's place where we made a wonderful dinner of grilled and roasted veggies and meats. We relaxed for a while before heading out to a local bar for a bluegrass concert where we rang in the new year at midnight. I was exhausted from the early morning and the hike so there was no late night celebrating for me, but the evening was fun nonetheless. It ended up being a wonderful day, and I quite liked waking up hangover-free on January 1st : )
ringing in 2011!

** Happy New Year! **

2010 Wrap Up

warning: this became much longer than planned! whoops!

And just like that, one year ends and another begins. I went into this year with a list of goals and an even longer list of races. Not everything went according to plan, but I accomplished much more than I expected and learned a lot along the way. Looking back is kind of strange - there's a lot that I did that seems like it was so long ago and yet is was still in 2010! Besides running, I experienced some other major changes in my life, like graduating college and moving back home to Sacramento! I also scored an amazing job working at Fleet Fleet and completed my first triathlon this past summer. Amazing how much can happen in just a year : ) Looking back, I've decided to christen 2010 "the year of the marathon". In the beginning I never intended to run as many as I did (6!), but one thing just lead to another. And so without further ado, here's my 2010 running wrap up!

At the beginning of this year I was still trying to shake my bitter disappointment at the outcome of my second marathon, SBIM, which I'd trained hard for only to fall sick the day before and being forced to run/walk it. I wasn't going to let it go that easily and so I decided to get my revenge by signing up for the LA Marathon in March. I was technically training by myself this time around, although I had also signed up to be a mentor for Team in Training so I did many of my long runs with a group which was great! I also was able to incorporate the midweek Team track workouts which were a fun change of pace and really helped with my speed! It was such a rewarding experience to come back for a season in a whole new capacity, no longer a beginner but instead advising and mentoring others. I had talked 8 girls in my sorority into signing up for TNT, too, so I got to spend a lot of time running with girls I loved and watch them grow and persevere. Beautiful runs, inspiring people. I'm so grateful for all the wonderful people I met through this wonderful organization!

My first race of the year was the Valentine's themed Romeo's 4 Miler put on by UCSB. I talked my roommate into running it with me since she had just signed up for TNT. We donned purple and green tutus to represent the Team and took off for 2 loops around the campus lagoon! We ran the whole race together and had a blast, getting tons of comments on our tutus along the way. We even won "most creative team" for dressing up!
Romeo's 4 Miler (38:53)

Around this time I also started taking advantage of the pool at the campus rec center. I totally sucked at swimming, but it was a fun and challenging workout that was great for cross-training and recovery. The soak in the jacuzzi at the end of a swim certainly made swimming more appealing, too : ) it was here that I first thought about doing a triathlon, and hence the seed was planted! Other highlights from the month: I began battling shin splints and I burned my legs with an ice pack (trying to ice those shins!).

February kicked off with my first long distance race of the year, the Surf City Half Marathon down in Huntington Beach. My running buddy Stacey joined me and we had a blast! After a Saturday of pouring rain (followed by a breathtaking rainbow!) we were greeted with near-perfect running weather race day. Because of my shin splints I had planned on taking it easy but ended up being within a couple minutes of my PR! I got my sweet surfboard medal and kicked off the CA Dreamin' Race Series.
Surf City Half Marathon (2:18:58)

This month also brought me closer to the LA Marathon, meaning longer long runs. Since TNT wasn't up to that kind of mileage yet I would run their "long" run as a short run for me on Saturday and then do my long run on Sunday. I ended up doing my two longest runs, a 16 miler and a 20 miler, completely solo which was a first for me and felt like such a huge accomplishment! Of course, there was plenty of beautiful scenery to distract me : )

Mid-February I completed another race, the Roses en la Playa 5k. I met up with the Team that morning and got in a quick 40 minutes before heading downtown to the beach for the race. I had no idea how I would feel since I'd already run that morning, plus the first half of the race is a gradual uphill, but I actually ended up with a PR! This was a distance I hadn't raced much (and still haven't) but it was a nice change of pace from longer, slower running.
Roses en la Playa 5k (26:57)

When March rolled around I was gearing up for the LA Marathon. I also made the decision to run the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon with my TNT girls as my 4th marathon, just a few months after LA. Before I knew it is was race weekend. My parents came down to Santa Barbara and we drove down to LA for the weekend. Standout memory: actually getting out of my car in the middle of the freeway because of a traffic jam, along with hundreds of other runners, and walking 1.5 miles to get to the start. Typical LA, right? Although I'm not a huge fan of the city of Los Angeles, the brand new "Stadium to Sea" course was fantastic - full of energy, well-organized, and packed with lots of sights to see! Running through Hollywood and Beverly Hills and on famous streets like Sunset Blvd., Rodeo Drive, and Santa Monica Blvd. was pretty sweet, too. Despite some warm weather I managed to come in under my goal time for my first sub-5 hour finish.
LA Marathon (4:55:17)

Some other highlights from March: making my first green monster, running with my dad along my favorite SB route, and going for a bike ride on my beach cruiser, only to realize that these are not really bikes and are meant more for fashion than for riding for exercise.

April rolled around bringing with it some wet weather. My first race of the month was the SB Chardonnay 10 Miler, run along a beautiful course right next to the Pacific. I had ran this race the year before as my first official race during my season with TNT so I was hoping to PR this year. The whole Team ran it instead of our usual long run so I was able to run with my roommate for her longest run to date. I beat my time by several minutes and followed the race with a dip in the ocean with my girls : )
SB Chardonnay 10 Miler (1:42:11)

Later that month I found out that I didn't make it into the NY Marathon via the lottery, so on a whim I signed up for another huge, out-of-state marathon: the Marine Corps Marathon in October. This would add another state to my 50 states goal plus I planned to make the trip to Washington, DC a mini-vacation. At the end of the month my sorority sisters and I ran our 15 miles on schedule only to rush home to get ready for the infamous Greek volleyball tournament, ASVT, for which I had designed bikinis for my entire house. They turned out great and we had a blast but I was glad to have that stress behind me.

I headed home to Sacramento at the end of April both for a visit and to run the American River Parkway Half Marathon. I was still having some shin splint issues, but I decided to see how things go and aim for a PR if I felt good. The race was run on the bike trail by my house so my folks could easily spectate, plus I was familiar with the course. I felt surprisingly good in the beginning, and despite tiring toward the end I managed a PR by 4 minutes : )
American River Parkway Half Marathon (2:13:23)

Just a week later I was back in Santa Barbara gearing up for the SB Wine Country Half Marathon. Despite the name, the race is actually held up in the quaint old Danish town of Solvang. I ran the race with my roommate, Jackie, and since it was her first half I let her set the pace and just went along for the ride. While no PR was set it was easily the most beautiful course I've ever run. Between the vineyards, tree-specked fields, and golden meadows I hardly noticed I was running! I took about a million pictures and even some videos along the way and looking back makes me want to run it again : )
 SB Wine Country Half Marathon (2:21:14)

Mid-May the Team did our final long run - 20 miles - before the marathon in June. My plan was to run with my roommate Jordan and get her through in one piece. It ended up going slightly less than according to plan, but I will always remember when, at mile 18, I forced Jordan to climb a fence after we discovered we were going the wrong way : ) While beginning to taper for marathon #4, I decided to register for marathon #5, the San Francisco Marathon, in July. My plan was to run 3 fulls in 3 months to qualify for the Marathon Maniacs: SD in June, SF in July, and E.T. in August.

June finally arrived and with it came a big wave of events. I traveled down to sunny San Diego and, along with 8 of my sorority sisters and most of my Team, ran the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon. I stuck with my roommate who was suffering from ITB pain early on, and eventually we ran into (literally, ha!) the rest of my girls around mile 20, all of whom were struggling. In total contrast I was extremely upbeat and managed to give them enough pep talks and encouragement to keep going and we all crossed the finish line, holding hands. Not my best time, but certainly a meaningful and rewarding time.
 San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon (5:45:01)

The following weekend saw the end of one big chapter of my life with graduation from UCSB. It was a great weekend filled with friends and family, smiles and tears. Immediately following my graduation my parents and I drove up to San Luis Obispo for my brother's graduation that afternoon. Yes, we graduated on the same day. No, we are not twins. The next day we were back in Santa Barbara starting the process of moving out. Let me just say I accumulated a lot of stuff over 4 years!

The rest of June was sort of a transition period for me. I moved back home to Sacramento, went to Vegas with my girlfriends to celebrate graduation, discovered the ass-kicking ways of Jillian Michaels, and even got my mom into running by creating a beginner's 5k training plan for her. All this while adjusting to running in a new, very hot, place. I had San Francisco in a few weeks so I quickly cranked up the miles again, topping out at 18 miles. I added in hill workouts, which I did on a freeway overpass for lack of anything better nearby. It didn't take long for me to miss the beautiful routes I had run in Santa Barbara. A measly river cannot make up for an ocean : ( Despite the change I still had races to train for, and so for the first time I put together a multiple-marathon training plan, ending with MCM in October.

The San Francisco Marathon came and went, and with it came a new, unexpected marathon PR! The course was beautiful, hilly, and challenging but I had a blast. It was like taking a tour of the city on foot, running along the Embarcadero, past Pier 39 and Fisherman's Warf, up and over the foggy Golden Gate, then winding through the hilly and green Golden Gate park, through Haight-Ashbury, and finishing back by the water and the Bay Bridge. The much cooler weather played a huge role in my performance, but more than that I think it was just a "good" day : )
 San Francisco Marathon (4:49:15)

July also brought some other new, exciting things for me. I was hired by my amazing local running store, Fleet Feet, where I get paid to talk about running all day, I registered for my first triathlon, and I finalized my plans for my midnight marathon in August.

August kicked off with a family vacation in Santa Cruz where I fit in a gorgeous 16 mile run on brand new territory. Back home, I realized my triathlon was in one month so I headed to my local public pool for a swim to see just how f*&#!ed I was. I also made a big investment so I could finally start really tri training - I bought a road bike!

A couple weeks later my mom and I hopped on a plane for Vegas. We spent a couple days on the sweltering strip, saw a show, then headed out into the Nevada desert for the alien-themed E.T. Full Moon Midnight Marathon. To date, this was by far the most unusual race I've ever run. The start time (12am, obviously) meant we were running through the night, making for strange logistics to deal with. When do you eat the day before? How about sleeping? The race was at elevation on an open highway in the middle of nowhere. The first half is a steady climb to a pass in the hills where you then descend back down for the second half. It was so weird to run in the middle of the night, and time seemed to go by strangely fast, finishing just as the sun began to rise. All the runners wore headlamps and reflective clothing which made for quite the sight! The race wasn't easy but it was certainly a unique experience. My mom even came along and volunteered at an aid station! After the race there was breakfast served at the Little A'le' Inn (get it?) in Rachel, NV (no joke) and then I was in full zombie mode the rest of the day.
E.T. Full Moon Midnight Marathon (5:28:18)

After recovering a bit from E.T. I quickly switched to triathlon mode and went on my first bike ride! Not long after that I went on my first "long" bike ride of 22.5 miles, much longer than the leg of my tri would be. It went well and I totally fell in love with my bike and cycling (although the sore tush took some getting used to). Later in the month I tackled a couple other new triathlon-specific things: my first brick workout and my first open water swim. Both went relatively well and gave me some confidence for my upcoming race. Before race weekend arrived I put together everything I would need and came up with a transition plan and checklist. It's amazing how much more gear there is for triathlon!

Finally the day had come for the Aflac Iron Girl Lake Tahoe Triathlon. My parents and I drove to Tahoe for the weekend and scoped out the expo and swim course the day before. That night I laid everything out and said a little prayer that I didn't drown, crash, or trip. I headed to transition bright and early, met up with my coworker who was volunteering and cheering on her roommate. I won't try and cover it all in this recap, but it was an absolutely epic experience and I can't wait to do it all again soon!
 swim (400m): 9:26
  bike (24k): 52:41
 run (5k): 28:00
Aflac Iron Girl Lake Tahoe Triathlon (1:42:12)

The month closed out with some family drama when my 94-year old grandmother became extremely ill. Running was such a great outlet during this time and I was reminded once again how grateful I am to be able to run. I also had the chance to see a race from the perspective of a spectator when my mom ran her first 5k! She did great and it was so fun to share this hobby with her : )

October rolled around and brought with it a few more races. I ran the local Urban Cow Half Marathon  and set a huge PR! I got to see a ton of familiar faces along the course including coworkers, friends, and my parents, which made the miles fly by. I hung on to the 2:05 pacer which took a lot of the stress off me and I just tried to hold on! I gave it a final kick at the end and came in a minute before the pace group. It felt good to really challenge myself and see how much faster I'd become. Overall it was a great day : )
Urban Cow Half Marathon (2:04:06)

Next up was another half, this time down in southern California. I had registered for the Long Beach Half Marathon for the sole purpose of completing the CA Dreamin' Race Series. It was a whirlwind of a weekend: I flew down and stayed with a college friend, ran the race the following morning (2nd fastest half time), then immediately hopped on a plane, stinky clothes and all. The course was fun and beautiful and the race was well organized. In the end I took home not one medal but two, thanks to the huge CA Dreamin' one I'd earned!
 Long Beach Half Marathon (2:07:59)
CA Dreamin' Racing Series

Between the two halfs I'd started to have some hip pain that forced me to take things a little easier with the Marine Corps Marathon coming up. I started going to yoga again to see if that might help and once again became hooked. I almost forgot what a fantastic workout it can be! My hips continued to give me problems, but I set my goals for MCM regardless...

Halloween weekend my mom and I flew out to Washington, DC and spent our first couple days sightseeing. The Marine Corps Marathon was my goal marathon this year and I was aiming for a big PR. The course was utterly amazing! It was basically a tour of DC on foot, taking us past the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, the Capitol, and so much more. The race was huge with tons of runners and spectators. Lots of marines out there made it quite inspiring, too. I was on pace for my goal til mile 15 then had to slow because of hip pain, but still managed a pretty big PR. Definitely one of my favorite races!
Marine Corps Marathon (4:34:52)

After MCM I took some time to recover and I made some big plans for 2011. Next up was the Clarksburg Country 20 Miler in preparation for CIM, which I affectionately refer to as my death march. I'm not even going to discuss it here. It sucked.
Clarksburg Country 20 Miler (3:53:13)

I closed out the month and kicked off the holiday season with our local turkey trot, the Run to Feed the Hungry. My dad and I ran it together, upgrading from the 5k we did last year to the 10k this year. It was a beautiful day and I was really impressed with how well my dad did! Great way to start off Thanksgiving : )
Run to Feed the Hungry 10k (59:36)

Just a couple weeks later I had my final race of the year, the California International Marathon. I was excited to run my local marathon, but I was definitely feeling a little burnt out at this point so I had no idea how it would go. I ran it easy, lost some steam 3/4 through but met up with my dad who rode his bike along side me the rest of the race and kept me moving. Saw a lot of familiar faces and got to run on my home turf. I even finished with my second fastest marathon time!
CIM (4:43:15)

After CIM I took a much needed break for the rest of December. I ran a handful of times but did a lot more yoga and strength training. I celebrated my 23rd birthday, got into the Way Too Cool 50k, and spent a wonderful Christmas with my family. It was a wonderful end to an even more wonderful year.

As I wrote this and looked back at all my posts from this past year it was amazing to think of just how much can happen in a year. I ran 6 marathons, 4 half marathons, my first triathlon, and a smattering of shorter races. I grew not only as a runner but as a person, closing out one chapter of my life and beginning the next. I accomplished many goals while simultaneously setting new ones. Thank you to all of you who have followed along on this journey.

Here's to an even better 2011!