November 26, 2011

Run to Feed the Hungry 10k (Race Report)

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Ours was pretty low-key, but great nonetheless. We kicked off the day with a little exercise at the annual Run to Feed the Hungry. It's become somewhat of a tradition for my dad and I to run this race Thanksgiving morning. In 2009 we started out with the 5k, last year we stepped it up and did the 10k, and this year we returned for the 10k again.

Despite my hopes for clear weather I awoke to a gloomy and rainy morning. The race was going on rain or shine so we joined the throngs of 27,000 (!!!) other runners at the crowded start near Sac State and waited for the start. We were already pretty wet by the time the gun went off, but luckily it wasn't a cold rain. By the way, sorry for the blurry photos - I had my phone in a ziploc bag to keep it dry!

The first couple miles involved a lot of dodging and weaving through the crowds, but eventually we settled into an easy rhythm. We weren't really racing for time (it's almost impossible with so many people), so we just kept the pace comfortable. About halfway in my dad's calf started acting up. He injured it about a week ago and has been having issues with it ever since. It felt better to keep moving, so we did.

We made the turn around just past McKinley Park and headed back into East Sac. Despite the rain, the fall colors were out in full force and appeared even more vibrant against the dreary gray sky. The rain showed no signs of letting up but by that time were soaked and used to it. With just a couple miles to go my dad really started struggling. His calf was cramping badly and forcing him to slow a bit. Looking back at our splits, we surprisingly stayed very consistent and it wasn't til the final mile that we really slowed down.

We finally made the turn onto the home stretch down 'H' Street, merging with the throngs of 5kers that had started a half hour after us. There was no final sprint across the finish line, but we crossed together in 1:00:36. As we anticipated, as soon as we stopped running his calf seized up so we tried to keep moving. It also got pretty chilly once we stopped moving, and being soaked did not help. We walked about a half mile back onto the Sac State campus where we my brother was waiting to give us a ride home.
The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing and eating, the perfect ingredients for a good Thanksgiving, if you ask me! I helped my mom with some of the cooking, and I even ventured into the realm of baking with homemade cheddar sage biscuits! I am much more of a cook than a baker - baking is just far too scientific and easy to screw up - but these were actually really easy and turned out great! I will definitely be making them again. It ended up being a wonderful day, full of family and food. There really is something special about the holiday season, so glad it's finally here!
 fresh out of the oven!

How was your Thanksgiving?

November 23, 2011

I'm Still Alive!

Sorry for being a bit M.I.A. these last few weeks. There's been a lot going on!

1. Grad School
I've finally got my ass in gear and am in the process of applying to grad programs for Fall 2012! This is something I've been planning on doing for a while, so I'm excited (and a bit nervous!) to start this new chapter of my life. I'm applying to 3 doctorate programs in psychology, all located in the Bay Area. The application process has been a bit overwhelming and in primarily responsible for my absence on here. Between writing essays, relearning math for the GRE, revising my resume, etc. there's a lot to get done! But I should have everything in by mid-December then I'll just have to cross my fingers for some good news!

2. Push-Ups
The 100 Push-Ups Challenge is still going strong! I even recruited a few ladies from work to do it with me and so Team T-rex was born! Week 1 was pretty easy, but things are already getting tougher. Tonight was Week 2, Day 2 with a total of 53 push-ups. I may totally be imagining it but I do feel like I'm getting stronger - although I still can't imagine doing 100 straight!

3. Houston Training
While I haven't been blogging about it, I have been running. Not a ton, but I do feel like I'm getting a solid base built, then in December I hope to start doing some longer runs and slightly more mileage. I've also been taking advantage of my more relaxed training approach with some cross-training. I've been to the pool a few times (although I need to start making this more of a habit) as well as hot yoga. The latter has been a really great outlet for me to relax and refocus. I plan on doing a better recap of my training this month at the end of November.

4. Ironman Coaching
This is something that deserves it's own post, but I did just want to throw it out there that I've decided to hire a coach to train me for Ironman in June. I'll go into more detail later, but I'm really excited!

5. Turkey Trot
Tomorrow morning my dad and I will be taking part in what's become an annual Thanksgiving tradition, the Run to Feed the Hungry 10k. The race is huge (think 25,000 runners!) and is always a lot of fun. Hopefully the rain holds off and we luck out with a lovely, cool morning, running through the colorful fall foliage and working up an appetite for later!

I hope to be back to more regular blogging soon. While my own blogging has been less than stellar I have been trying to keep up with as many blogs as possible. Big congratulations to Allison for her huge marathon PR in Philly and Roadbunner for her new sub-4 hour PR!!

November 15, 2011

100 Push-Ups Challenge

This is one of those things I've wanted to do for a long time, but can never seem to fit it into a training plan (or at least I just don't try hard enough). I often describe myself as a t-rex; all my strength is in my muscular legs while my arms remain scrawny and weak. The bigger goal with this is to incorporate more strength training into my routine as well as targeting the muscle groups that often get ignored in my regular activities (hello, arms and abs!). But for now, I'm keeping things simple with one of the most basic strength exercises out there (and perhaps one of the most dreaded), the push-up. I've been eyeing the 100 Push-Ups Challenge for a long time and figured that since I'm not currently following a specific training plan, now is the time to do it!

The program itself is pretty simple, the goal being to complete 100 push-ups (the real ones!) by the end of the 6 week duration. Why 100? Because it's totally badass to be able to spontaneously bust out 100 legit push-ups. One of the best parts of the program is that it's not time-intensive at all. There are 3 workouts a week, ranging from about 5-10 minutes in length. The build-up is also very gradual, with the workouts structured into short sets with breaks in between. Before starting the program, you perform an initial test to determine the maximum number of push-ups you can do. This number puts you in one of three categories that determines which workouts you follow each week. In my initial test I did 11 push-ups (this number may or may not have something to do with this), so I will be following column 2. The program also suggests doing the workouts on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday so you have a rest day after each one and can recover over the weekend before starting a more challenging week.

So I kicked things off today with week 1, workout 1. The minute-long break between each set actually felt like more than I needed, but by the last set my arms were definitely shaking! I did manage to eek out 10 for the final "max" set. So far, it's definitely not too bad. But I did peak ahead to week 6 and was a little terrified to see sets of 20, 30+, back-to-back. But then again, by then I should have some killer guns so that should be a piece of cake ; )

Feel free to follow along! You can even print the entire plan and then follow directions to fold it into a handy little book. My plan is to post a brief recap on each Friday on the week's workout.

Has anybody tried or completed this program?Anybody else resemble a t-rex?

November 11, 2011


Today was a big day for me, one I've been waiting a long time for... 11/11/11! I'm not just one of those people who goes nuts for weird number things like this, it's more that eleven is my number. Favorite number, lucky number, whatever you want to call it. I always seem to catch the clock at 11:11, it's always the number I choose, and there's just something about it I love. I've been anticipating this date for the past couple years, and decided a while back that I wanted to do something to commemorate the only-happens-once-in-a-hundred-years occasion.

I had the day off so this afternoon I headed out for a run. Do I even have to tell you how far I ran? Why 11 miles of course! It actually turned out to be a pretty great run, too. It was my longest run since Chicago, and I was a little nervous as to how it would go. I've concluded that partly why I've been feeling so slow and heavy on my runs is because my legs are a tight mess, so before my run today I took 15 minutes to Trigger Point my calves and roll out my quads and IT bands. It was amazing what a difference it made! It was supposed to rain and the sky was dark, but it ended up holding off. There weren't very many people out on the bike trail so it was a nice solitary run, just me and my thoughts. I stopped a few times for water, but other than that I felt pretty strong through the end. The sun set with just a couple miles left, and as soon as the sun went down the critters came out! I saw a coyote, three deer, and a bunch of jackrabbits : ) I stopped a few times for water, but other than that I felt pretty strong through the end. I've really been struggling with motivation and getting back into a running routine, so it was nice to have a confidence-building run like this. And of course it was fun to do 11 miles on 11/11/11!

The highlight of the day, however, was getting to do something I've been waiting years for. I hit up my favorite tattoo shop and got the number eleven in roman numerals inked on my arm! It's simple, but I absolutely love it. And the fact that I was able to get it today just makes it that much more special to me.

p.s. Yes, I did wait til 11:11pm to post this : )

November 7, 2011

Apple Hill Harvest Run (Race Report)

It's been a while since I ran a race just for fun, but yesterday I got to do just that! I'd heard good things about the Apple Hill Harvest Run, and figured it would be a good way to get in a run, enjoy the beautiful scenery up there, and get some tasty treats after. I managed to talk my dad into running the 8.5 mile race with me, so I headed up to Apple Hill with my folks that morning. The forecast had a 50% chance of rain with temps in the high 30s/low 40s. It was pretty chilly! The start was at the lovely ParaVi Winery, and we got there with plenty of time to to spare. We picked-up our bibs and found the bathrooms then just tried to stay warm while we waited to start.
the start at ParaVi Winery
beautiful orchards & fall colors

Going into this race I was planning to just run it easy and have fun. It would be my longest run since Chicago, and I know I'm not in racing shape right now. I'd mentioned it to my dad, thinking he might want to do the 3.5 miler, but was quite surprised when he decided to do the 8.5 miler with me! He's in great shape for his age and runs fairly regularly, but usually maxes out at 10k. In fact this would be the longest he'd run in nearly 30 years! I had no doubt he could do it, and I was excited to be along for the ride.

By the time the race started my toes were completely numb. We started out with a good quarter mile climb right off the bat that warmed us up a bit, but my face was frozen for much of the first half of the race. After cresting that first hill we settled in to an easy, consistent pace along the flat country roads. The course is known for being pretty challenging, especially in the last few hilly miles, and also due to the elevation. The first 5k seemed to fly by and we were both feeling pretty good. We had to pause briefly for my dad to pee (he chose a lovely Christmas tree farm) so I slowed to a walk til he caught up. The course took us past lovely vineyards, apple groves, ranches, and Christmas tree farms. The air was cool, crisp, and unbelievably fresh. The rain thus far had held off, and we we had our fingers crossed that it would wait til we were done!
alright, Dad!
donkeys on the left : )
apple could smell all that goodness!
Mile 5 gave us a nice, long, gradual downhill which I made sure to take advantage of, knowing what was coming in the final 3 miles. When saw the mile 6 sign I knew we were entering somewhat new territory for my dad. Up to that point we were both feeling good, then we turned a corner and found ourselves on a nasty little hill. It wasn't all that steep but it was long. We made it to the top, huffing and puffing, and I suggested we take our first walk break to catch our breath. Then we took advantage of the short flat section before we hit the next hill.
 Dad tackling another hill!

It was actually pretty entertaining to me to listen to my dad complain about the hills. He's used to running on the flat bike trail or the treadmill, making the hills and the elevation especially challenging. Our pace slowed a bit on the hills, but we ran most of them and walked when our running couldn't be distinguished from walking. In the last couple miles I could tell that my dad was hurting a bit from the hills and was more than ready to be done. Considering that he did not train for this, I was quite impressed, especially on a tough course.
 what goes down, must go up!
We passed the 8 mile sign, took one last walk break up yet another hill while we commiserated with the others walking around us, then turned the corner for the homestretch. Oh, and in keeping with the trend, the last quarter mile is up another steep hill, so there was no finishing kick for us! I'd told my mom to look for us around an hour and a half, and we came in just under at 1:28:39. As we approached the finish line the MC called out our names and then correctly guessed that it was a father-daughter duo : )
the homestretch!
father-daughter finish : )
Once we stopped moving we got chilled pretty quickly. My dad didn't want to stop moving and tighten up in the cold so we headed back to the car and then went on the hunt for some post-race apple treats : ) During the race we'd passed a market at Boa Vista Orchards so we made our way back there and picked up a few yummy treats including apple donuts (for immediate consumption), an apple pie (for that night), some apple cider, bbq sauce, and chestnuts for roasting. If it weren't so cold I would have loved to do a little more exploring but by that point I was freezing!
Boa Vista Orchards

I'm really glad I had a chance to participate in this race and get up to Apple Hill in the fall when it is just so beautiful. It was such a good feeling to just relax and run for fun, and this was the perfect race to do it - in fact I didn't look at my Garmin once the entire race! I had a wonderful time running with my dad, too. I'm proud of him for challenging himself and finishing strong, and I'm glad we got to do this together. There is definitely something special about sharing one of your passions with someone you love, and I'm fortunate to share my love of running with both my parents. So now that I got him to do 8.5 miles, I just have to convince him to do a half - after all, it's just another 4ish miles right? ; )