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2013 Running Goals & Preliminary Race Schedule

15 January 2013 | 9:05 am
I typically make one post for all my goals for the year, including non-fitness goals, but since I have so many running goals I thought that deserved it's own post. I'm still thinking about other life goals and will post that separately later.

My main running goal for 2013 is to find a better balance between speed and distance. I still have lofty distance goals as I delve deeper into ultramarathons, but it's time to stop using the move as an excuse to slack off and work on some speed again. I also want to do more fun and unique races, and more trail runs. So yes, these are very aggressive goals and I may not achieve all of them, but making them doesn't cost me anything so I might as well aim high and see where I land. 
  • Run + Walk a total of 2013 miles for Moon Joggers
  • Run 1300 miles (108/mo; 25/wk)
  • 1 mile in 8 minutes
  • 5K in 28 minutes (9 min pace) or PR (sub-29:23)
  • 10K in 62 minutes (10 min pace) or PR (sub-1:03:28)
  • Half Marathon in 2:15 (10:15 miran pace) or PR (sub-2:18)
  • Race with the Race Guards team
  • Ultra longer than 50 miles
  • Relay Race (like Ragnar Napa Valley or The Relay
  • Volunteer for at least 6 races
Tentative 2013 Racing Schedule

This is still very much in flux because I'm still learning about all the local races, but I have already registered for the ones in blod and I'm strongly considering the rest, but will likely not do all of these and add a bunch more because I plan to run as many as I can with DSE and Tracy's Racing since they are nearby, inexpensive and with great company.

What awesome race am I forgetting?

2012 Recap: Goals Update

15 January 2013 | 6:28 am
Moving to San Francisco threw a wrench into life in general, so some of these goals suffered or I forgot about them. But considering such a huge life change, I did pretty good. 

Running
  • Run 1000+ miles (80/mo; 20/wk) - Check! 1141 miles!
  • Run a 5K in 29 minutes - Semi-Check: 29:23
  • Run a half marathon in 2:15 or PR (sub-2:24) - Check! 2:18:03
  • Run a marathon in 5 hours or PR (sub-5:22) - Check! 4:52:17
  • Become a Marathon Maniac (3 in 90 days) - Check! MM #5026
  • 30 day running streak (1 mile/day) - Nope
General Fitness
  • Walk 500+ miles (42/mo; 10/wk) - Check! 600 miles!
  • 30 day plank-a-day challenge - Check!
  • 10 hours of yoga per month (2.5/wk) - I have no idea, but I doubt it
  • Bike at least once a week - Nope, moving to SF threw a wrench in this one
Other
  • Drive car < 6500 miles (541/mo; 125/wk) - I stopped tracking once we moved to SF, but since we don't drive here, it's probably a Check.
  • Spend < $1000 at restaurants - Stopped tracking when I moved to SF, but with prices being so high in SF I doubt it. 
  • Eat restaurant food no more than 100x (8x per month) - Probably failed at this too, but again stopped tracking when I moved to SF
  • Do 1 new thing each month - Totally forgot about this one
  • Read 6 books - Check! 9 books read/listened

2012 Recap: Races and Milestones

15 January 2013 | 6:17 am
Until I started pulling numbers for this recap I did not realized I had raced so much in 2012. With a total of 24 races, that's 2 more than I have ever raced in one year (2010). Unlike 2011, which was the year of speed, 2012 was about building endurance and dipping my toe in the ultramarathon pool. Even without a focus on speed, I managed to PR at 6 disstances at the beginning of the year when I was still reaping the benefits of the speed work in 2011. I think 2013 will be about finding a balance between speed and distance, but I'm still working on drafting those goals, so stay tuned.

Totals:
  • walked 600 miles
  • ran 1141 miles
  • biked 468 miles
  • total run + walk: 1741 miles
  • total (all 3): 2,206 miles
Firsts:
  • RRCA Certified Running Coach
  • Moved to San Francisco
  • 50 Mile Ultra
  • 6 Hour Timed Race
  • Raced on back-to-back days
  • Marathon Maniac
6 New PRs:
  1. marathon = 4:52:17 (29:12)
  2. half marathon = 2:18:03 (5:57)
  3. 12K = 1:21:58 (7:15)
  4. 10K = 1:03:28 (2:52)
  5. 5K = 29:23 (1:03)
  6. magic mile = 8:10 (7s)
24 races: 

Ten more races than last year, and 2 more than previous record in 2010. Breakdown per distance: 5 5Ks, 2 10Ks, 1 12K, 1 15K, 9 Half Marathons, 4 Marathons, 1 50M, 1 6H


Race Recap: Disney's Goofy Challenge

14 January 2013 | 4:35 am
It is no secret that I'm not a fan of Disney races. Now that I have first hand experience with a race longer than a 10K, I can confirm that these races are absolutely not worth the price of admission. I should have just taken Dad's word for it, but you know how we humans don't believe it until we try it ourselves. I can see the appeal, in theory, but the few highlights of Disney magic did not outweigh the negatives for me. I'm glad I came back for it though to run with my Galloway buddies. We had so much fun in our color coordinated outfits.

My Orlando Running Group, Sole Mates AKA Crazy Mates because all of us are doing Goofy. First up was the half marathon on Saturday. I took it easy and ran most of the way with my Orlando Galloway running group. It was a lot of fun, but that had more to do with the people than the course. Running down Main Street in the Magic Kingdom and seeing Cinderella's Castle in all it's lighted glory was cool, but that was it. The course was basically an out and back to the castle along highways. The last 5K was awful due to the heat and my right leg (inner lower leg just above ankle) started hurting towards the end. I took a quick ice bath at the hotel, refueled at Sweet Tomatoes, then took a nap. We went for a quick dinner at Macaroni Grill then I was back in bed by 8 p.m.


Crazy Mates! Sunday morning I woke up for the marathon in pain. I taped it and hoped for the best, but I was really worried about it. I questioned if I should even start the race, let alone if I'd be able to finish, but I figured that it was probably just tight and it would loosen up in time. It finally did, somewhere during the 2nd half, but it got replaced by pain on top of the ankle on the other leg (likely an overcompensation injury). So from the very first step, I was in pain. I knew what I had to do if I wanted to finish this marathon, so I sadly let my running group go and ran my own race. I knew running this alone in the heat would be tough, and at that moment I wished I had my headphones, but I'm glad I didn't because it forced me to truly experience the race. I had my P&S camera, so I set out to make the most of it. Since it hurt more to walk or start running again, I didn't follow a specific running interval and just jogged at a comfortable pace for a few minutes then waked for 30-60 seconds and on all the hills. The weather was actually cooler than Saturday for longer than I expected, but towards the end the sun came out full force. The pain was at bay thanks to some Tylenol and lots of biofreeze, but I really struggled with the heat and I could no longer run without shade, so that became my new run/walk interval.


Start line fireworks Start to Magic Kingdom: The first 5 miles are on the highway and parking lots leading up to the Magic Kingdom. They have a few characters, photo ops and music along the way, but it's fairly boring. As I was nearing mile 5, my friend Christine found me. This was her first marathon and I was thrilled to see her. We chatted while we walked and ran together for a few minutes,  then I let her go not wanting to slow her down knowing I would not be able to keep up. Then I saw Ric leading the 5:15 pace group and I ran with them for like a minute before I quickly lost them. As I neared Cinderella's Castle, I looked for Jason. He took my pic got my sunglasses, then I was on my own again.

Entering the Magic Kingdom parking lot Before running under the castle Near the castle (by Jason)

Speedway: Less than a mile through the Magic Kingdom, and we're back on the parking lot/roads for 2-3 miles on our way to the Speedway. This was a new part of the course, and it was pretty cool running around the track with all the classic cars and the "characters" from the movie Cars. Up next was another 3-4 miles of back roads through their water treatment plan (really?) on our way to Animal Kingdom. This was boring as hell, but at least there was some shade. 

Riding Expedition Everest Animal Kingdom: As soon as you enter the backlot of Animal Kingdom, there is basically a petting zoo on the side of the road. Instead of standing in line to get your picture with a character, there were cast members holding all kinds of wild life for you to pet or take pictures with, including birds, goats, and a big snake -- I ran away from that one quickly. My friend Eric told me he was DJing just before Everest, so I looked forward to that. On my way there I debated if I should ride Expedition Everest. I knew I'd never run this race again but I was worried about wasting too much time since I was going so slowly. After I saw him and gave him a hug, it was a really nice pick me up and I picked up the pace a bit. As I ran pass Everest, I saw runners running in and that the wait was only 5 minutes so I went for it. It was amusing how we were all running through the queue. Once we got to the loading zone, we only had to wait a few seconds for the loaded car to take off then we were on the ride. Even though I don't love this ride, it was the highlight of the race and I'm really glad I did it. We ran out as soon as it finished and I had a second wind, which was unfortunately quickly squashed because the next mile or so was on a very narrow sidewalk and I was forced to walk.

ESPN Wide World of Sports: The next 2-3 miles suck because they are in the highway with the blazing sun, but around mile 16.5 I ran into Carol and Debbie at the medical tent. I was so happy to see them that I almost cried and the next 3 miles flew by as I ran and chatted with them. Then I lost them during a potty break just before the stadium. I just wanted to keep moving to not stiffen and figured they'd catch me because I was moving slower, but then I really had to pee so I sped up in hopes of finding a potty and being out before they caught up. As soon as I went in, I saw them run pass me. When I got out, I could see them in the distance but I simply couldn't catch them because we were now back in the sun and running up an on-ramp. Running around the stadium was a nice touch and shady. 

Tigger! 20 Mile Celebration: Since this was the 20th anniversary, they had a special arch way mile marker at mile 20. There was Disney music playing with characters along each side of the road and Minnie, Mickey and Pluto up on stage. I stopped and waited in a short line to take took a picture with Tigger then went in search of my potty break. My biggest complaint about this race is why isn't there Disney music blaring out of every speaker along the course. They have frequent entertainment, but a lot of it is DJs or speakers playing pop music. I think it would add so much more to the experience and magic if there was Disney music the whole time. 

Hollywood Studios: Mile 20 - 23 was the worse part because it was all on the highway on our way to Hollywood Studios and the sun was blazing. My stomach started to hurt every time I tried running in the sun, so I walked until there was shade again. Once I entered Hollywood Studios, I saw some familiar faces volunteering and I started getting emotional. Then I saw Donna, called out to her, and she ran to me and gave me the biggest hug. That opened up the flood gates. Mile 23 was also the candy station, which I had been looking forward to all day. I checked my phone after this and noticed a text from Tracy and Scott that were visiting the parks and were out on the course waiting for me. I tried to compose myself but once I saw them I started getting emotional again. They took my picture and we hugged as I choked back tears, and as soon as I ran off I broke out in a big sob and cried all the way to the boardwalk. I wasn't sad, just tired and overwhelmed by all the support and relieved that I was going to finish this race and make the cut off. 

Boardwalk: I knew this section well as I had volunteered here many times before and I knew that my parents were here somewhere. I kept looking for them and wondering where they were. I finally saw them just before the last bend to go into Epcot. I once again choked back tears as I hugged them and then started sobbing as soon as I ran past them and into Epcot. These were certainly tears of joy and relief as I was now only 1 mile from the finish line. 

Mile 26! Freaking finally! Finish: I was beyond relieved to finally see mile marker 26. I walked up to it so I would have the strength to run the last stretch to the finish. As soon as I turned into the finish shoot, I saw Jason and threw my hands up in the air then made a kill me know gesture lol I slowed and finally stopped for a second because I wanted a picture of the finish line, then ran it in and threw my hands up in the air as I crossed. I burst into tears again and was so happy to be done. I got my Mickey medal, which is beyond amazing, then staggered over to the Goofy tent. My Galloway group was there volunteering and I was so happy to see them. I hugged Laura through more tears, but I was also all smiles. Carol and Debbie were also there, so we took some pictures together before I made my way to the Galloway tent to reunite with Jason. 

My favorite bling. It's much more impressive and bigger in person. Post-Race: I was convinced the rest of my Galloway group was gone by now since they had all finished 30-60 minutes before me. This thought had made me really sad during those last few miles, but as I neared the tent I saw Chris, Katrina, Todd, Brenda and Omar! I was so happy to see them and had to really hold back tears. It meant so much to me to see them there and it was a special treat to see Omar since I had missed him on the course. After a ton of pictures, Omar offered us some Mimosas and we toasted our accomplishments then went to Unos to refuel and compare notes about the race. 

Final Thoughts: Even though the marathon was really tough for me, I'm glad I did it and finally got to experience this first hand. But never again! I made the best of a bad situation and ran smart to avoid further injury and finish before the cut-off. Today both injuries seem fine and I just have the typical post-marathon soreness. This race does have some moments of Disney magic that I enjoyed (Main St, Cinderella's Castle, Speedway, Everest, Stadium), but that is such a small percentage of the race that it doesn't make up for all the highway running and congestion almost the entire race. I may run a half at Disneyland someday and come back and do another half here for the Coast to Coast medal, but I'll have to think long and hard before making that decision and need lots of peer pressure. 

Race Report: New Year's One Day 6-Hour

1 January 2013 | 4:42 pm
I ran my last race of 2012 on New Year's Eve, starting at 6pm and ending at midnight. It was the perfect way to bid adieu to 2012 and welcome 2013. This was my first timed event, and I really liked it. It's really weird not having a finish line in sight and knowing that no matter how fast you run it will still take the same amount of time to finish (unless you stop earlier). I really liked the challenge and it's a great way to train yourself to dig deep. Even though I didn't quite run a marathon, I felt just as beat up. I think I'm starting to understand how running a slower marathon is harder than running it hard because at least when you run fast it's over with quicker and the pain usually stops when you cross that finish line. When you run it slower you are on your feet a lot longer and that hurts just as much.

Stats:
Swag: Below is a picture of all my race swag. The green hat was an optional purchase, but I got mine for volunteering at the aid station prior to the race. The medal is my 2nd place age group award. We'll also receive a custom coaster with our name and distance completed.

IMG_1514

Support: There was a huge aid station near the start/finish of each loop filled to the brim with everything you could possibly want, including water, soda, cookies, candy, pretzels, shot blocks, salt tablets, energy bars and after sunset pizza and hot soup. There was a timing mat we passed each loop with a big screen tv showing your progress and splits. Runner progress was posted to the race site every hour, and the site had a link to allow friends and family to email messages to the runners. I got a few and it was such a treat! My favorite was from George, and I read it at the perfect time when I needed to dig deep and ignore the pain:
"Scott stumbled upon the most advanced weapon in the ultrarunner's arsenal: instead of cringing from fatigue, you embrace it. You refuse to let it go. You get to know it so well you're not afraid of it anymore." Run without fear!

IMG_1508 IMG_1510


Course: Each lap was 1.061 miles around the lagoon at Crissy Field with spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Angel Island, Alcatraz and the San Francisco Bay. The start/finish was about half a mile from my apartment, wich was great for a quick walk home after we finished. The loop is 60% dirt and 40% asphalt. The 6-hour race started at 6 pm and finished at midnight. The sunset was at 5pm, so my entire run was in the dark and it was cold in the low 40s, but that wasn't much of an issue once I was running. As we looped round and round, I took in all the sights and was grateful for a clear night. The Golden Gate Bridge is gorgeous when lit up at night. We could see all the lights from the city and cruise ships in the bay. At one point somewhere in the Marina someone released light lanters. The moon was huge above us lighting the way.

IMG_1512Race: Since Goofy is less than two weeks away, I wanted to take it easy and avoid injury. I could not decide what I wanted my distance goal to be, but I knew I wanted to run at least 20 miles and really wanted to get in a marathon if I felt good. However, my main goal was to practice running at night on tired legs for my upcoming ultra in March. I volunteered at the aid station for 5 hours prior to the race and was on my feet most of that time, so I certainly accomplished that goal.

I started slow with :30/:30 intervals for the first 3-4 miles, then switched to :60/:30 intervals for most of the rest of the race. I felt a twinge in my IT band early on; somewhere around mile 7 I think, but thankfully that settled down quickly. My biggest problem was that I kept having to pee, so that ate up a lot of my time. Having an aid station available every mile is both a blessing and a curse. It's too easy to dilly dally and waste a lot of time, so I tried to only stop once an hour to eat some shot blocks with some water and stretch. The other laps I would stop for a quick sip of water as needed. 

I was feeling really good most of the race, the cool temps certainly helped, and was surprised at how quickly the time flew. That is the beauty of the loops; they let your brain breakdown the race into manageable chunks and you just focus on the next milestone: the next loop or the next hour. I felt like I was flying when I was running, but I know I really wasn't moving as fast as I thought.  Eventually my legs, specially my calves, started to tighten and hurt, but since I knew I wasn't injured I pressed on. I switched to :90/:30 intervals after mile 17, but shortly after gave up on the intervals altogether when I couldn't run any faster and just ran the longer stretches of the rectangular loop at a steady pace and power walked the shorter side where the one tiny hill was, which became a small mountain after so many laps.

I walked one whole lap with Jason and considered walking the rest of the race when I realized there was no way I'd make it to the marathon mark, but I knew that would just drag on so I dug deep and pushed as hard as I safely could for some mental training of running on sore and tight legs. I ran the last lap with Jason and finished strong with less than 10 minutes until midnight. We turned in our timing chip, got our glass of champagne, quickly gathered our gear and bundled up and waited for the countdown to the new year and watched the fireworks over the city. It was the perfect way to end 2012 and I'm so glad that Jason was there to share it with me. 

Post-Race: I wasn't that sleepy when we got home at 1 am, but I was sore all over. After a quick shower and some refueling, it didn't take long to fall asleep. I woke up this morning earlier than I hoped, so went for a walk to shake out the legs and see if anyone was still left at the race site. There were only 2 people there, so I helped them break down the aid station. Talk about active recovery! But I really think it helped. Turns out that I placed 2nd in my age group, so I was able to get my medal before I headed back home. We then walked to lunch for my celebratory milkshake, then got some chores done. I'm still a bit sore, mostly the muscles on the outside of my right leg by my calf, but overall I feel great. I can't wait to try the 24-Hour option next year :)

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29 November 2012 | 3:00 am

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25 November 2012 | 3:00 am

Joy of Trails and 50M Recovery

19 November 2012 | 7:00 pm
It's been raining the past few days, although nothing like what we got in Florida, but today was gorgeous all day with clear and sunny skies. Even though I ran 10K yesterday, I couldn't waste such gorgeous weather, so I laced up my trail running shoes and went out to enjoy it. I only ran 3 miles, with 2 on trails, but boy did I forgot how exhausting it can be running on trails with rolling hills. It's also really exhilarating, specially with views like this.
Wood Line in Presidio
Wood Line in the Presidio
Recovery from the 50 miler is obviously going very well.  I was sure to wear my compression gear and ice the 2 days following the race, and take ibuprofen as needed. I listened to my body and took it easy when it asked, and I almost feel completely recovered. I can tell there is some lingering fatigue in my legs, but that could be the trails. Here's a timeline of how recovery progressed:

  • Sat 11/10: Finished the race at 11 pm with knee/it band so painful that even moving it an inch was excruciating.
  • Sun 11/11: Still sore everywhere below belly button, but knee felt much better. I could move it and bend it just fine. Braved the stairs and went on a short 1 mile roundtrip walk for lunch and my celebratory milkshake.
  • Mon 11/12: Knee was nearly pain free, but my calves were painfully tight. Spent the day laying on the recliner with compression sleeves resting my legs.
  • Tue 11/13: Ran 2 miles! I was shocked I could run so soon when I felt so awful at the end of the race. I still had a few minor sore spots, but for the most part this felt really good. I kept it short and slow just in case.
  • Wed 11/14: Walked 2 miles to hear Scott Jurek speak.
  • Thu 11/15: Ran 3 miles, a little faster than Tuesday. Everything felt good. I also walked 2 miles to the store in the evening.
  • Fri 11/16: Was feeling a little worn out, so took it easy and just rested.
  • Sat 11/17: Walked 2 miles to volunteer for a race.
  • Sun 11/18: Ran my own 10K and felt great!
  • Mon 11/19: Ran 3 miles, 2 on trails. Felt really good, but a little tired. 
I plan to take it easy tomorrow, with perhaps a short walk or bike ride trip to the store, run easy on Wednesday, and then run a marathon on Friday. 

Race Report: Run d'Amore 50M

17 November 2012 | 3:15 pm
We got to choose our bib #s and I was able to get #50 for the number of Ks or Ms I'd be running. We all knew it'd be miles. What an incredible experience.
Run d'Amore bib and swag.
I got to choose the bib# and I chose 50 for the number of kilometers or miles I'd be running.
We all knew it would be miles :)
On Saturday, November 10, I completed my first ultra: 50 miles that took nearly 17 hours to complete. The best way to describe this experience is horrifically awesome. It was nearly 11 pm when I finished and it was freezing, but I refused to give up. I was expecting to finish at least 4-5 hours earlier, but my IT band started bothering me before I even finished the first marathon. It was only a minor annoyance at first, but eventually it became too painful to run at all. I made the mistake of seating down to get a blister looked at and that was the last straw causing the IT band to get too tight. I had to walk, sometimes barely even a shuffle, for the last 10K, but I finished in just under 17 hours with a total of 51.2 miles and I'm now officially an ultra marathoner!  It was both harder and easier than I expected, and worth every painful second. So you bet I'll be doing it again :)

Day after with my race shirt
Race Shirt
Stats (50M = 51.2 miles):
  • total 50M time = 16:59:44 (I made the ironman cutoff lol Race cutoff was 36 hrs) 
  • moving 50M time = 15:37 (lots of stops to change, pee, eat, etc) 
  • moving 50M pace = 18:38 
  • moving half marathon time/pace = 3:14 @ 14:48 
  • moving marathon time/pace = 6:51 @ 15:41 
  • moving 50K time/pace = 8:19 @ 16:03
As you can imagine, what transpired over those 17 hours is a bit of a blur, so I'm going to post a bullet list of the highlights instead of my typical race report.

Swag: Awesome black long sleeve tech tee, goody bag with lots of samples, tasty and plentiful food, and heart shaped handmade medal.

Photo
course scenery
Course: 2 mile loop at Harvey Bear Ranch Park, San Martin, CA. I know this sounds dreadful, but I really like it because it's easy to adjust layers and nutrition when you only have to plan 2 miles at a time. If you make a mistake, you only have to endure it for 2 miles. It's also a lot easier mentally to tell yourself to run 2 more miles. The loop was actually 2.05, which is why 25 laps netted me 51.25 miles.

Food! Running an ultra is way different than any other race because you get to eat all kinds of stuff you wouldn't dare otherwise. It's like a buffet on the run. Many of the runners brought things to share, including my homemade granola, cookies, candy, soups, and the RD ordered pizza after sunset. That was the best pizza ever! Also, coke tastes damn amazing when you've been running for hours.

It's gorgeous out here
sunrise
Scenery: The race started at 6 am and it was still pitch black, but it was clear so we could see tons of stars. As we finished the first few loops, we saw the sunrise and the fog slowly rolling over the mountains. It was breathtaking. We were treated to the same gorgeous views as the sun set and the stars greeted us once again.

Weather: The forecast called for cold temps and rain. Thankfully, the rain never materialized and once the sun came up it was perfect running weather. The oddest thing is that one half of the loop always felt cold while the other warm, specially when the wind kicked up. It got really cold after sunset, and those were the hardest miles because I was walking them, in the cold and dark, and in so much pain.

My partner in crime. She got me into this mess :p
Tracy, she got me into this mess
Running Buddies: I ran most of the first 50K or so with Tracy, who talked me into this race, and that was awesome. The miles flew by as we chatted and she introduced me to the other runners. Her boyfriend Scott was there to crew us, and he ran a few laps with us and even biked along to bring us food. They were both amazing! After 3 hours, we switched directions so we could see all the other runners and that was awesome.

Reverse Psychology: After so many miles, even at a slow pace and using 1:1 intervals, running became a chore. We started to hate that damn beep every time it was time to run, so I tried to trick our brains by saying "Yay!" instead of "ugh" every time it was time to run. Scott joined us for one of these laps and got really into it with us. Every time the beep came for us to run, we'd throw our hands up in the air and scream "Woohoo!" It totally helped!

Disney Songs: Eventually, that wasn't enough fun so we started singing Disney songs. That. was. awesome! We brought a little on course entertainment to the other runners, so that was a nice bonus. But more importantly, it distracted us from the pain. I posted about this on Facebook and solicited songs to sings. A fellow Galloway runner commented with "Dig a Little Deeper." I was a little annoyed at first thinking she was telling me what to do instead of helping me sing Disney songs, but then she reminded me it was from Princess and the Frog and I just had to laugh. It was so perfect! So remember this trick when the going get's tough, and sing this song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJT0uhfcCkw

99 Bottles of Beer: After I started running alone, I started singing this song but I was so tired and my brain so foggy, that I had a hard time remember which number. I started singing faster so I could more easily remember the next number, but then I realized I was running faster to match the song tempo and finally tired and gave up around 89 bottles.

During last mile it occurred to me that running this ultra is just the absolute most absurd thing I've ever done ... Then I switched running shoes to run in crocs and now it's just ludicrous but man do my feel feel amazing.
running in crocs
Crocs: Around mile 37, I stopped to change socks and shoes because the socks I was wearing were too thick and my feet were really warm. My feet seemed swollen, so I put on my crocs instead and ran a few laps in those. It was quite amazing and added to the absurdity level that made this even more fun and help distract me from the pain.

Other Runners: It was even more evident while completing this ultra how amazing the running community can be. As I walked, shuffled, and dragged my feet along during that last 10K in the dark, every single runner that lapped me greeted me and made sure I was ok before continuing on their own journey. Some stopped to show me some stretches and I had the pleasure of walking a lap with one gentleman who was on the last lap of his own 50M and he shared some words of wisdom with me. That helped me walk that lap a little faster.

Sleep Walking in the Dark: By the time the sun set, I was walking and my brain was so foggy from fatigue that I felt like I was sleep walking. I was moving slowly because bending my knee hurt. I tried walking backwards, sideways, dragging that leg, you name it. Anything to avoid bending it.  I was holding a knuckle light in one hand and texting Jason on my iPhone on the other hand. It was really hard to see ahead of me unless I held up the light, and I tend to drift when I walk even when I'm not half asleep. At one point I was texting or checking facebook and when I looked up I was all the way on the other side of the road lol That scared me a little and I focused on keeping the light in front of me and walking straight. Then the bitter cold hit and I was shaking. Thankfully, that's when Jason arrived and he helped me get on a warmer jacket.

Last Lap: Jason rented a zip car to come get me because I wanted to sleep in my own warm bed after I finished instead of a tent in the cold. He arrived just in time to walk the last lap with me. That was awesome. I was able to push myself a little and walked those 2 miles faster than the previous 4 I had done alone.

50 mile finisher! So happy to be done and that I get to go sit in a warm car. It was FREEZING after the sunset.
happy 50 mile finisher!
Finish: As I neared the end of my final lap, I looked at my watch to see what the damage was and I could see it would be close to 17 hours (which is the cut-off for most Ironman events). I joked to Jason that maybe I would at least make that cut-off, but I was not about to speed up to ensure it. I said "I'm ok with 17:05" or whatever. But as I crossed the finish and stopped my watch, I saw it was 16:59:45 and found it hilarious. And then Alan, the Race Director, fetched my medal and as I went to grab for it he said, "oh no don't go reaching out, there's a ceremony" and I laughed. Then he got everyone's attention and announced we had another 50M finisher, that it was my first 50 and first ultra and I just beamed with pride. I almost cried, but I think I didn't have energy to do so. I was just elated that I had done it and that now I got to go sit in a warm car.

The photo to the right was taken right after I finished, and you can see the elation in my face. I was smiling through the end. Even when I was shuffling along and every step hurt, I was in good spirits because I knew I was going to finish this. You can also see my ridiculous outfit that is such a missed matched assortment. When the sun went down and I got cold, I just grabbed the nearest things I could find to stay warm that involved the least amount of bending. None of these outer layers would I ever wear to run, but when you are tired, sore and cold, anything will do and they did indeed keep me toasty warm.

Wrap Up: So that's the highlights of my experience. It was an incredible experience, filled with so much love and support from an amazing group of runners. I am sure I'm forgetting something, so if you notice I don't talk about something you expected to read or have any questions, comment and I'll update this post. Stay tuned for my next adventure :) View more photos on flickr or click play on slideshow below.


Hike along Pacific Ocean

4 November 2012 | 7:09 pm
After our fun run through the Presidio. It was great meeting you and running with you!Today was an awesome day. We're still having really nice weather with sunny clear skies, and we took full advantage of it. The initial plan was to head to Golden Gate Park in the morning to meet Katy to run together at the DSE 4 mile race. Due the US Half Marathon, the bus was rerouted and we never made it to the race, so Katy drove to me and we went for our own fun run in the Presidio. It was a lot of fun.

After lunch we went on an awesome 8 mile hike with Thomas on the trails along the Pacific Ocean. It was breathtaking, but a little tough due to heat, elevation changes and terrain: dirt/rock/sand trails, up & down hills, up & down stairs, sand, and sand ladders. The amazing views were well well worth the pain.

We walked from Marina to GG Bridge, down Coastal and Battery to Bluffs trails (with lots of up and down stairs), down the Sand Ladder to Baker's Beach, across the beach to Land's End, through Sutro Heights and finally ending at the Beach Chalet Restaurant in Golden Gate Park. After a yummy dinner, we took the bus home and unwind with a Disney movie, Aladdin! I'm more sore from this than the marathon, but it's different muscles and I had a blast.

I took a ton of photos along the way with my iPhone. View the slideshow below, or browse them yourself on the Flickr.


Links for 2012-11-03 [del.icio.us]

4 November 2012 | 2:00 am

3 Things Thursday: Beyond 39.9

1 November 2012 | 6:11 pm
39.9 Recovery - Unbelievably, I bounced back from the 39.9 weekend rather quickly. The morning after the marathon, I was only a little sore and was walking normally. None of the usual suspects hurt one bit. The following day, yesterday, I went for a 3 mile run and had to hold myself back because my legs just wanted to go go go! I just got back from another 3 miler, faster than yesterday, and I'm feeling amazing. I guess what my legs needed was more miles lol

Weather - We've had pretty nice weather in San Francisco this month with lots of sunshine. However, I can already see the end in sight as the rain has started. Now, this isn't rain like we had in Florida. The most I've seen so far has been a heavy drizzle, and it surprises me that it's still pretty warm even when it's overcast, foggy or raining. There have been times when I've been walking in the rain and I didn't even notice it lol

Ultramarathon - I ran the marathon on Monday with 3 other ultra marathons who have all completed 100 milers. They are great guys, lots of fun, and very inspiring. So it was inevitable that they would eventually talk me into doing one myself ... in 10 days! Oh, don't worry, I'm not crazy enough to try to run 100 miles ... yet ;) It's basically an overnight camping trip with crazy fun runners (because most of them ARE running 100 miles or more, and I'll be there to support and photograph them once I finish mine). And what do runners to for fun and pass the time? Run of course! =) I was pretty nervous about it (ok, I still am a bit), but now that I'm registered and plans are coming together, I'm started to get really excited.

Race Report: Lazarus Marathon

29 October 2012 | 6:50 pm
Today was  marathon #5, 8 months after my 4th one. I've now run 39.3 miles in the past 2 days, and I'm exhausted. But I also feel amazing. I finished today's marathon in 5:28, totally unexpected after running a 2:36 half yesterday. It's amazing what a difference it makes having support from running friends, both on the course and online.

Before the race, in costumes - Tracy's Lazarus Marathon
Pre-Race
I was a little nervous going into this race because it's been so long since I've run a marathon, the most I've run in the past 8 months was 20 miles (after running 8 the previous day), and I ran a half marathon yesterday. Initially, I was just going to run the marathon yesterday instead of my 23 mile long run next weekend, but I hated not running the 10 miles for Goofy training the previous day. As luck would have it, due to a series of fortunate events, I ended up running the half yesterday and thought I'd attempt the full today, specially after hearing who else was running it.

I knew last night that I was going to run the marathon today, but not knowing how I would feel this morning, I didn't broadcast it. I had the option of starting the full and stopping at the half, which would have been a great accomplishment too as my first back-to-back half marathons, but once Runmeter posted to Facebook that I was running a Marathon, there was simply no going back knowing everyone was "watching."
Everyone has their own unique starting position - Tracy's Lazarus Marathon
Starting positions

My legs felt fine when I woke up with only some minor sore spots here and there, but that did not last. Never having done this before, my plan was to start slow and go with the flow with the goal of just finishing. Well, I blew that when I got caught up running faster than intended while chatting with Tony and finished mile 1 in 12:11; I intended to start closer to 13-13:30. Oops! But I corrected that quickly and slowed down settling into a comfortable pace for the next few miles.

Unlike yesterday's perfectly executed negative mile splits, today was all about survival, strategy, and making it to that finish line any way possible. I started with 60s/30s intervals, but adjusted as needed to take advantage of running the down hills and walking the steeper up hills to conserve energy. I was surprised at how quickly I started to feel tired and sore, and that started messing with my head -- "how can I possibly make it to 26.2 miles if I'm already sore in less than 10?" So surprisingly, the first half was way harder than the 2nd half as I battled my own head and came to terms with running on tired and sore legs.

Tracy's Lazarus Marathon
Making it happen
Throughout all of this, I was texting Jason and reading your Facebook comments and that really kept me going. I couldn't fail all these people, so I just had to suck it up. Tracy also rallied the rest of the runners to keep an eye on me and give me a nudge should I need it. Seeing their smiling faces and hearing their words of encouragement lap after lap made a huge difference. When you hear "You look strong" enough times when you don't feel it, you eventually start to believe it and your body acts accordingly. Eating shot blocks with caffeine during the 2nd half didn't hurt either.

Once I realized the dull ache wasn't getting any worse and I was clearly not hurt, the pain became background noise and I let myself go. It became a mental game to push through it, and every mile I finished only motivated me to push harder and finish faster. I wanted to finish to end the pain, but it also became clear that my secret goal of finishing in under 5:30 was within my grasp and I was willing to work for it.

Yippee! I'm done! No idea where I got the energy to pull this off - Tracy's Lazarus Marathon
Finish line leap!
Once I finished the last of the 4 4.5-mile loops, I dug deep to bring it home strong and ran the last 2 4-mile loops with laser focus to make the most of every elevation change. Those were my fastest 8 miles at an average sub-12 pace, with mile 26 being the fastest overall in 11:18. I kicked it into high gear as I came around the bend and ran the last .2 at a 9:45 pace. (See all the data on Dailymile.) I even had enough energy to leap over the finish line. Other than some soreness all over, my legs felt pretty good.

Because this was such a small race, with only 7 starters and 4 finishers, I finished 2nd overall and 1st female. That cracks me up. We hung out for a bit and took silly finisher photos, then Tony drove us home. I immediately sat in the tub filled with cold water for 15 minutes, took some Aleve, then put on my compression gear. I feel pretty good; let's see how I feel tomorrow :) All I know is that I am totally hooked and I am now officially training for a few ultras by year's end.

Here's a silly photos we took after the race. View the rest on Flickr.

Marathon Finishers are a little silly - Tracy's Lazarus Marathon

Race Report: Bummer Half Marathon, #18

28 October 2012 | 4:22 pm
Today I ran half marathon #18, and it was my best executed race. It was not my fastest (nor my slowest by far - I've run 6 slower), but that wasn't the goal. Since I'm running another tomorrow, today's goal was to run comfortably and practice pacing, and I nailed it! Just look at these beautiful perfect negative splits:
Strong Finish
  • Time: 2:36:12
  • Avg Pace: 11:56
  • Loop Splits Pace: 12:26 - 11:50 - 11:22
  • Half Splits Pace: 12:16 - 11:31
  • Mile Splits Pace:
    • 12:38 
    • 12:32 
    • 12:31 
    • 12:26 
    • 12:14 
    • 11:51 
    • 11:50 
    • 11:48 
    • 11:45 
    • 11:42 
    • 11:38 
    • 11:35 
    • 11:05 
    • :42 (8:11 pace)
I started slow, using 1/30s intervals, and just tried to run each mile slightly faster than the previous one. I switched to 1:30/30s intervals for the last 6 miles. Secretly, I wanted to finish with sub-12 min/mi pace, but I wasn't going to push unnecessarily for that. In fact, I held myself back a little in the first 2 laps to ensure I could maintain the negative splits throughout, trying to keep each mile only a few seconds faster than the previous one. I knew if I ran a mile too much faster than the previous one then I would have to really increase my pace too much for the rest to keep it up. So I kept a laser sharp focus and then was able to let myself go for the last 2 miles. I still didn't really push the pace, I just didn't hold back anymore. 

I've been volunteering with Tracy's Racing since her first in September, but this was my first time running one. Much like DSE, these are very low key races with little fanfare but lots of love and support. I love the yummy goodies at the aid station, the great company, and the novelty finisher's bling she offers. Although an even smaller race than usual, it was a lot of fun. The washer machine style, where you switch directions after each 4.5 mile loop, is a great way for runners of different paces to see and support each other throughout the race. 

Clear Sunny Finish
Foggy Start
The weather was picture perfect too. It was super foggy as usually when I started, but still relatively warm, for at least the first lap. The fog was so dense that my eyelids were wet. But then the sun came up and it turned into a gorgeous morning. You can see the contrast from the start to the finish in these photos. I'm really glad I just wore a skirt and tank, because I felt comfortable the whole time, never hot nor cold. Jason came out to watch and serve as our photographer.

After the race, we went to lunch with the Tracy (RD) and her husband, and then took them to the Walt Disney Museum. It was a great way to spend the day. Now let's see what I can do tomorrow on tired legs, although they feel pretty damn good. I think they are actually more sore from standing around at the museum than the race.

And here's some silly photos with Tony and Tracy. THIS is why we run :)







Race Report: Great Floridian Endurance Festival

25 October 2012 | 9:38 am
This was Jason's day, but by the end of the night he made it ours. You can read Jason's recap at http://leapfromthelion.blogspot.com/2012/10/great-floridian-triathlon-race-report.html I'm going to use his same structure so you can see the parallel from both of our perspectives.

Matching Medals
commemorate our special day
A Little Background

At last year's race
I remember spectating this race last year when Jason did the shorter distance and Stephanie the 15K. Jason was training for the Breast Cancer Marathon, his second, because he knew he wanted to do a full Ironman (running isn't his favorite sport). The race was a lot of fun to watch, and with a huge registration discount I encouraged him to signed up for the full already. My reasoning was that he had done his first half in Clermont, so why not do his first full there too. I knew it would be tough, but I loved the race's slogan, "tougher than iron," because that really does describe him. As I often say, "he knows how to suffer." I contemplated doing the 15K to give me something to do since I knew I'd be sitting around for many many hours and because Stephanie spoke so highly of it. Once we decided we were moving to San Francisco, and Jason had to forfeit the other races in the sprint tri series, we transferred some of that credit to my 15K registration and I convinced some of my running group to do the race or come cheer on Jason.

Race Prep

Packet Pick-Up on Friday
With the move to San Francisco, Jason made all kinds of excuses as to why he wasn't getting in his training. The longer he waited, the more overwhelming it became to get back into a routine and he considered not doing it. I wanted to be supportive either way, but I knew he would kick himself if he didn't see this through. Initially we were flying back for the race because we had already shelled out the pricey registration fee, but it quickly became apparent that we would be paying more than that to fly back and ship his bike. With the closest ironman distance race several months away, he finally decided he wanted to see this through in 2012 and not let all the training go to waste, and I knew it would be better to do his first back home where he would have the support of his family and friends. He eventually got back into a routine and got in some solid training in the hills of San Francisco and Marin county. It was awesome being part of every step of this journey with him, from helping him put together a new training plan, to following along on Cyclemeter when he went for those super long bike rides and runs, to the post-workout milkshakes :)

Before we knew it, it was race week. We flew into Orlando late Wednesday night and promptly went to sleep. Our biggest concern was if the bike would arrive intact, so we didn't make any plans for Thursday or Friday in case putting it back together took longer or if he had to make alternate arrangements for the race. Thankfully the box arrived unharmed as did the bike. He spent Thursday putting it together and fine tuning it, then we headed to Clermont Friday to pick up packets and rack his bike. Now the concerns turned to the water temperature of the lake and if the swim would be wetsuit legal. Signs were not good as the temps were in the low 80s, but by some miracle strong winds cooled down the lake for a 76º reading on race morning.

Race Day

We woke up way too early at 4 am, ate breakfast and were on the road by 5 am. There wasn't too much for him to setup, but we wanted a good parking spot so I could easily go back and forth to the car throughout the day. He got body marked, set up transition, then we heard the good news about the water temp and he got downright giddy. I knew I'd have plenty of time to watch him finish the swim and then get ready for my race, so I just focused on easing his nerves and capturing the moment.

The Swim

After Swim Lap 1
It was finally time to suit up. I have to admit I was a little disappointed Jason wouldn't be racing in his tiny speedo ;) but I know the wetsuit would make things way easier. I wished him luck, kissed him goodbye, and he went off to warm up. I snapped a few photos, then went to the pier to get a good spot to see him coming out of the water. He finished the first lap pretty quickly, but seemed a bit disoriented as he completely missed the water station right in front of him and walked way further than he needed to get back in the water for lap 2. He finally found his way and started lap 2.

While I waited for him to finish the 2nd lap, Chris showed up. We got caught up on running group and he shared his recent ironman spectating experience. It was nice having someone who had been through this keeping me company. Before long, Jason was out of the water and I was screaming like a crazy groupie, leaping off the pier and sprinting to try to catch a shot of the strippers getting off his wetsuit and him running in his tiny speedo. I failed miserably, but the race photographers delivered! While he was in the changing tent, Chris reminded me that I still had many more hours of spectating and my own race to run so I should take it easy on the sprinting lol

The Bike / My 15K

I saw him head out on the bike and then was able to focus a bit on my own race. As I was told later, I was really scattered. Knowing that I was going to miss him finishing the first lap of the bike because I would just be starting my 15K, I kept telling everyone who was there to spectate (Shannon, Stephanie's boyfriend Steve and his parents) that they could watch me start but then rush over to the bike special needs area because he would be coming in shortly after. I sounded like a broken record as I kept saying it to anyone who would listen. I really wanted to make sure he had someone there to cheer him on and capture the moment when I couldn't. I am so grateful so many were there.

Sole Mates Galloway Group
Everyone from my running group had arrived and it was time to warm up. We took it easy and just enjoyed catching up. We took a zillion photos, then it was go time. It felt so good to be running with them again and doing a race where people I knew were taking photos and cheering for us. I really missed that. We started with 90s/30s intervals and had a blast chatting and enjoying the gorgeous course for the first 3 miles. I knew we had started too fast, but I was a bundle of energy and wanted to suck it all in. I even answered my phone when Sean called and told him I was running and would call him when I finished. Then the wheels fell off. The shade was gone, the hills had really started, and my stomach began to cramp. I took a walk break when the rest of the group kept going and I was never able to catch back up to them. The hills really weren't too much of a problem, but the heat really got to me and I felt like my stomach was going to explode. I slowed way down and contemplated that I may not be able to finish this race, but I dug deep and got through it. I'm really glad I did and got to experience a little bit of the pain that awaited Jason.

All smiles after lap 2 from our cheers
I didn't really have time to be disappointed because I knew Jason would be finishing his 2nd bike loop soon and I was not about to miss it. Besides, this was his day and I was not about to complain about my little 15K when he was out there suffering far more for far longer. I grabbed some food, found my parents, and then rallied everyone that would listen to come see him with me and take photos. Knowing it would be hard to get a good shot in the few seconds when he zoomed by, and because my camera was still in the car, I asked everyone with a camera or smart phone to take a photo while I kept a look out and cheered him on. When we saw him, everyone screamed and snapped photos. Shortly after, Jason sent me this text message: "You guys are awesome. Tell everyone thank you!"

Some of our signs
Now I had time to relax a bit. I downloaded Shannon's photos to my laptop, changed and ate some snacks while my parents returned with my lunch, and Sean and I entertained ourselves making some signs for when Jason returned. We found a spot in the shade and discussed strategy for the next part. I finally realized how tired I was from the 15K but I had no time for that. I got a few messages from Jason 30 minutes later complaining about cramping and saw his bike speed decreasing. I knew things were not going as planned if he had time to text me, because he is usually too focused to waste time on that. I did my best to tell him what he needed to hear and keep him going.

The Run

Run Start
My parents returned just moments before he finished the bike with my grilled cheese and a milkshake, but I was too pre-occupied with making sure I didn't miss Jason starting the run to enjoy it. I ate a few fries, grabbed the milkshake and went to wait for him to come out of transition. That's when Laura arrived and saw me frazzled. He took forever in the changing tent and I started to worry that I had missed him. He finally came out about 10 minutes later, and it is incredible to see the difference between his other races. He is usually rushing out of transition with a face of determination, but this time he was walking and taking his time and looked spent. He finally crossed the mat and started running. I took a few photos and asked how he was feeling. He was understandably tired and feeling the effort from the last 8 hours; he said this would be the worse marathon ever.

The run is 3 loops with 2 out and backs, so we got to see him 6 times. I love that because I could see him perk up and quicken his step just a little bit every time he saw us and our ridiculous signs. Sometime during the first lap, we are guessing around mile 3, he texted: "Ugh I got nothing. I'm doing 1 and 2s right now" Again, I texted back words of support and encouragement and then rallied Facebook to start posting funny motivational comments to keep his mind off the pain. And boy did they deliver! Thanks so much to everyone who contributed. It kept us entertained too!

I had some time to catch up with Laura between laps, and Sean was great at tracking where he was and how long we had before we'd see him again so we could time our trips to the car, go find food and use the restroom. Sometime during the 2nd loop, Jason texted again about his calves cramping up and he said "This sucks." I told him, "Yeah well it's an ironman. No one said it would be fun :)" That seemed to make him laugh and help him dig deep. Sean and I were worried about him, so we walked a little further to see him sooner, but when he came through he was running with someone else and looking much better, so we just let him be.

Finish Line - Look at the smile!
It knew he was in pain, but he never failed to smile for us so I knew he'd be ok. He just had to dig deep. He finally passed us one last time for the final out and back, so we packed up our stuff and took it the car, then met back at the finish line to wait for him. It was dark now and the field was really spread out so every athlete had the finishing shoot to themselves and they held the "tape" for everyone to "break." I wanted to cheer for him and see him finish through my own eyes instead of behind a camera, so I gave my camera to his sister to capture the moment. I told everyone when we saw him we had to scream like we had never screamed before. We finally saw him coming down the finishing shoot and started screaming our heads off. He was clearly hurting, but he was digging as deep as he could to finish strong. I was so proud! I thought I would cry when I saw him finish, or that he would, but I think we were both too tired and relieved that it was over to cry.

After the Race

I met him behind the finishing shoot after he got his medal and gave him a hug and kiss. He was limping, but wasn't really hurt. He was just done, but still smiling. God how I love that smile :) The rest is a bit of a blur, but I'll do my best. We kept offering him a seat, but he wasn't sure that was a good idea. We joked that he could lay down on the ground, so he did and pretended he had passed out.

He then sat up and reached for my hands. I thought he needed help getting up, but he stayed down on one knee and started saying how I'm such an amazing girl. I still didn't really have an idea of what he was doing. I thought he was just hanging on to me because he couldn't get up and thanking me for being there for him through all of this, which he did. He acknowledged the role I played in him even doing this race and make it across the finish line and the positive influence I've had on his life in general. He told me he loved me and then said, "Will you marry him?". I just smiled and said yeah. I hugged him as he kneeled on the ground and then I finally helped him to his feet as we kissed and hugged some more.

I never thought this day would come, but it was absolutely perfect and worth the wait. It felt so organic. I am really glad I did the 15K so we have these matching medals as our engagement bling, and because I was able to experience a little bit of the pain he suffered during those grueling 14 hours. I am so touched that he chose to share the spotlight of his greatest achievement with me by proposing. I was absolutely perfect. He is the most selfless person I know, and I am the luckiest girl for having him.

Wrap-Up

The next few days in Orlando where a whirlwind of celebrating and catching up with friends before we headed back to San Francisco. I am glad we left this for after the race so we were able to share all the good news. I want to thank everyone who came to Clermont to support him, and those who met us for dinner on short notice on Monday to celebrate. I know we missed seeing many of you, but we'll be back in January and hope to see you then.

When he finished the race, he said he never wanted to do that again and that it would be a while before he swam, biked or ran again. We all knew he was lying. He was fine and walking normal within 2 days. He biked to work yesterday and is already considering the next one. It's not a matter of if, but when because the training is a big commitment and he wants to enjoying exercise without giving up his life, but I know it's only a matter of time before he gives it another try. So stay tuned! :)

PS - I am sure there are many questions about the engagement/wedding, and I'll try to post more about that later. For now, let's celebrate Jason's incredible accomplishment.


Flirting with Swimming

10 October 2012 | 3:57 pm

SwimmingJason got me back in the pool last week, and as always I regret staying away so long. I looked it up, and the last time I swam was almost 2 1/2 years ago at my last triathlon, the day I broke up with triathlon to commit to running (if you've never read this, check it out. It's my "Dear John" letter to triathlon and the race report from my last tri.)

The first time back in the pool wasn't as hard as I feared. I swam 500 yds, even if I had to stop to breath every 25 yds. My stroke and breathing was a mess, but I got through it and actually enjoyed it. Today, I swam 700 yds and had to rest less. My bilateral breathing still sucks, but I felt really strong today. My stroke felt powerful and I could really feel my hands pushing the water to propel me forward faster. Fast is of course relative because I am still painfully slow. Jason was in the lane next to me and in the time it took me to complete 1 length, he was starting his 2nd lap. But that's ok because I'm just out there to get a little extra exercise.  

Every single morning that we go swim, I dread it and just want to stay in bed, but I always feel amazing when I am done and full of energy. I've been running right after swimming, and those runs have been amazing, so I guess I'll keep it up. :) But don't worry, triathlon and I are not getting back together. I'm just flirting with swimming, but my heart still truly lies with running. (Although ultra is looking mighty fine lately.)

I work best with goals, so I think I'm going to attempt this 0 to 1650 program to work up to swimming a mile non-stop. I still need to get a bit more comfortable with my breathing and stroke, and we'll be traveling next week, so I'll start this sometime when we get back from our trip to Florida or in November. I've also been working on my core this month, and I hope to keep that up as part of my Goofy training. In just 2 short weeks, I can see the difference the swimming and consistent core work is making for my running, so I really need to keep at it. 

As for running, we've never been closer. This weekend we tackle another Goofy run, where I'll run 8 miles on Friday and 20 miles on Saturday. It's going to be a LONG weekend. Then on we head to Orlando next week for Jason's Ironman and my little 15k. I'm really looking forward to seeing some running buddies again at this race.

Race Report: DSE Lake Merced Half Marathon, #17

16 September 2012 | 3:35 pm

I ran my 17th Half Marathon this morning, in my 3rd fastest time. I couldn't be happier. This was part 2 of my first official Goofy training run; part 1 was 4 miles yesterday. Here are the stats, followed by the full race report.

Stats (from Garmin):

  • Finish Time = 2:25:18
  • Overall Place = 134/147
  • Gender Place = 34/41
  • AG Place = 6/6
  • Avg Pace - Overall = 11:05
  • Avg Pace - Loops = 11:18 - 10:59 - 11:00
  • Avg Pace - Half = 11:12 - 10:59
  • Avg Pace - Miles = 11:32 - 11:19 - 11:28 - 10:55 - 11:13 - 10:46 - 10:58 - 10:58 - 11:08 - 11:43 - 10:38 - 10:53 - 10:55 - 9:37 (.1 in 53s)
This was another one of DSE's low key races, which I've come to really enjoy. There was no shirt or medal, although all finishers receive ribbons, but for $10 is a great way to get in long millage with support and meet local runners.

The race was held at Lake Merced, just outside of San Francisco, so there were some transportation logistic to deal with. Jason ran it as part of his 23 miler, so he ran the 8 miles to the race. I took the bus, which was 20 minutes late. Yes, I was freaking out a bit, but I had chosen to take an earlier than needed bus just in case this happened. Instead of trying to switch buses and risking the connecting bus being late too, I took one bus further and then ran 1.5 mile to the race as a warm up. I made it there with about 15 minutes to spare, which was perfect. Oh, did I mention I had to run with a backpack so we'd have something to change into for the bus ride home? Otherwise I'd have to put up with the unimaginable smell that is Jason after a run. It wasn't much of an issue.

It was of course cold and foggy when I left the apartment and for most of the run. I wore a running skirt with knee high socks, a tank top under my Half Fanatic short sleeve shirt, arm warmers and gloves. I had windbreaker pants and jacket over this for the bus ride there and the warm up, then stashed them in the bag to change into after the race. Even though I don't think the temp raised much above 60º during the race, I shed the gloves early on, the arm warmers probably during the 2nd loop, and the shirt during the last loop. I was really glad I had worn a tank top under it. I wasn't super hot, but the breeze felt great with less clothes on when I was working so hard during the last loop.

The course was 3 loops on the 4.5 mile path around Lake Merced (with a wooden bridge crossing on the 3rd loop to make it 4.1), which I really liked. It reminded me a bit of the Ocala Marathon, except this was actually flatter ha! The nice thing about doing a loop 3 times, you know exactly what to expect after the first loop and have consistent aid stations. My plan was to take it easy on the first loop while maintaining slightly negative splits, edge the average pace towards sub-11 min/mi on the 2nd loop, and then give it everything I had left for the last 4.1 miles.

I stuck to a 90s/30s interval (aka 3/1 ratio) for most of it, adjusting for the downhills because I won't waste gravity, and it worked great. I really love the 30 second walk breaks. It ensures I don't dilly dally and keeps my heart rate up while giving me just enough rest. This also means that my run intervals are shorter, which means I can push harder knowing a walk break is coming sooner. My strategy worked pretty well, but I started to pick up the pace too much during the end of the first loop while chatting with another runner about the run/walk method. I kept it up for the 2nd loop, but started fading a tiny bit when I had to tackle a hill and the off-road part that cuts the 3rd loop to the needed distance, and I was getting tired! I still managed to basically maintain my average pace during the last loop, so I'm good with that.

Although a PR would have been nice, I knew it was likely not going to happen given the issues I've had the past week and that I haven't been doing ANY speed work since moving to SF, so I just wanted to finish around 2:20-2:30. I'm thrilled with a time right smack in the middle of that range. I feel like I put forth the best effort I had in me today, ran a really strong and smart race, and didn't wreck myself. So I'll call that a huge win.

Next up: we fly back to Orlando for Jason's first Ironman on October 20. I'll be running the 15K between cheering and  waiting for him to finish. 

Goofy Training Update and Golden Gate (not) 5K Race Report

26 August 2012 | 1:42 pm
I ran 14 miles this morning, in 3 parts, with a race in the middle. This probably wasn't the smartest idea. I was dreading this run/race because I was convinced it would be super foggy and I wasn't looking forward to running in cold damp weather. Instead, we awoke to sunny and clear blue skies, which was all the motivation I needed to get it done -- days like this don't come around often.

Part I was with Jason using 2/1 intervals, from the Marina to the race start at the Polo Fields in Golden Gate Park. After we registered, we still had a bit of time, so I ran another mile to keep my legs warm and avoid getting too stiff before the race. I ran a total of 6 miles @ 12:08 pace, which is a little fast for a long run (not for 6 miles, but remember I was doing 14 total) but not super fast. I am not surprised because 5 of those miles was with Jason, and I could tell it was a little fast yet it felt comfortable.

I love these low key weekly races from DSE. This is our "bib" and timing chip. They time them manually by ripping the button and sticking them on a pin. I guess someone pushes a button on their timer machine when each person crosses and then they match thPart II was the not-quite 5K Golden Gate Cross County race, hosted by the Dolphin South End (DSE) Running Club. Their motto is "start slow then taper off" with the goal of hosting at least one race per week at an affordable price ($5-10). I love these low key DSE races that go back to basics and remind us that running is supposed to be fun. The picture to the right shows my "bib" and timing chip--women's were orange and men white. They time each race manually by ripping the button and sticking them on a pin in order across the finish line. I think someone pushes a button on their timer machine when each person crosses and then they match them up.

The course today was 1/2 mile short, but I was glad because pushed pretty hard and averaged 10:17 for 2.6 miles. I planned to take it easy since I still had to run 5 more miles after the race, but I got carried away and pushed a bit too much. At that pace I would have finished a full 5K in just under 32 minutes, which is pretty fast for me. I walked 1 min after each mile, but I do much better when I use shorter intervals instead of trying to hang on for a whole mile, so I think I'm going to try running 4 minutes and walking 30 seconds at next Sunday's 5K race. The race itself was great. The course was gorgeous, mostly flat and 95% off-road through dirt and grass. They had bananas, grapes, cookies, and uber bars after the race, which I indulged perhaps a bit too much before heading back for the last 5.5 miles.

I ran part 3 alone on a slightly different route back home while Jason ran a different route to get in his 10 more miles. It was a slow and painful 5.5 @ 13:31 pace using 2/1 intervals. It was a lot slower because my legs were tired from the first 6 with Jason and the race, plus this route was mostly uphill and unpaved, but I'm perfectly ok with that because this is closer to my training pace and the route was very scenic. Part of this route (and part of the first) was across Golden Gate Park. Every Sundays, they close a section of a major road at the park to motor vehicles for pedestrians and cyclists to enjoy. It was so peaceful running there without the roar of car motors. I'll definitely be running there again for my next long run.

Today's total was 14.18 miles in 2:54:54 @ 12:20 average pace. This was probably the hardest 14-miler I've ever run. The hills and unpaved terrain really do add a level of difficulty, and running 2.6 miles at 10ish pace in the middle surely didn't help either. But I they are done and I did enjoy them overall. I experimented with nutrition during this run; instead of my usual gels or shot blocks, I ate mostly fruit snacks (like gummy bears). They are so delicious and much cheaper than those other products, but still chockfull of sugar to provide that energy boost and keep the carbohydrate flame burning. I think they worked just fine, but I also ate that food after the race, so I can't conclusively say yet whether I can run a whole marathon with just that. I'll try it at my next half marathon race next month and see how it goes (I did and will bring at least 2 gel just in case or if I need an extra boost towards the end).

So Goofy training is well underway. I technically don't need to up my milage just yet, but I want to maintain my endurance. This was my last long run before my next half marathon race on September 16. After that I'll begin upping my milage to 15+ with long runs of up to half the distance the previous day. I think these past 2 weeks have been good for acclimating to the hills and terrain, and I do feel like my legs are getting stronger. They really have to no choice because running anything more than a mile will encounter both.

How's everyone else's training coming along?

New Running Plan

12 August 2012 | 2:41 pm
Last season was all about speed and breaking 5 hours in the marathon. That took a lot of work, but the reward was totally worth it. This season the focus is the Goofy Challenge, which is not at all about speed. I thought I would still do some speed work and try to improve my times at shorter races, but with the move to San Francisco my plans have changed.

I'm still keeping up with my running, and my endurance is stellar, but running here is a whole other ball game because of the hills. So my focus right now is going to be on volume to build crazy endurance for Goofy, and on building the muscle adaption necessary to run on hills and on back to back days.  That means slow runs with lots of walk breaks, to avoid injury and ensure that I recover quickly before the next run.

I've also fallen in love with trail running ever since I ran the Presidio Cross Country 5K on August 5th. It's very primal, the views are amazing, it keeps me occupied as I negotiate the next terrain or elevation change, and the lower impact of the soft ground is a great way to help me avoid injury from the pounding of the high milage. Since I'm using leg muscles I didn't before, to stabilize on the uneven surfaces of the trails or power through a hill, I'm also building leg strength. That should serve me well when I go run Goofy on the mostly flat course in Orlando.

This means that an ultramarathon is absolutely in the cards for me now. I was hesitant to do 30+ miles on a trail, but now I totally understand why most ultras take place there. No one wants the pounding from cement and asphalt for that long. Since I'll already be building milage for Goofy, I'll be primed for an ultra so my first official one will probably be in early 2013.

I plan to start running 4 days a week, basically taking 1-2 rest days every 2 days. Any mid-week back to back runs won't be very long runs, but they may be challenging -- hills or trails or both -- followed or preceded by a very easy recovery run on a flat route. Of course, I'll probably also be walking on rest days, because that's my main mode of transportation; that should also help with the hill adaption. Then every 2-3 weekends I'll do back to back long runs per the Goofy schedule.  I may still go to the track or do some tempo runs on shorter runs, but I'm not going to worry too much about those. I want to get back to enjoying running without too much structure and doing races for fun instead of some do or die pace goal.

This is going to be fun! :)

Catching Up (7.24 - 8.07)

8 August 2012 | 6:12 pm
I seem to have lost all motivation to blog, but I know that the longer I go without posting the harder it will be to get back into it, so here's an update in somewhat bullet form of what we've been up to during the last 2 weeks, including two short race reports.

San Francisco Half Marathon (1st Half) on 7/29 - This was HM #16 and the first race in my new city. There was no PR and I barely finished in 2:30, but I got it done. It was really challenging, both physically and mentally. The lack of sunshine, due to the foggy and rainy weather, the relentless hills, and racing alone (Jason started a whole hour before me) made it hard to stay motivated.  I'll try to write a full race report with those details later, but this and DM will have to do for now. I'll probably run the 2nd half next year so I can get the extra medal, but since I'm not a fan of big races (13K+) I'm not sure. See map, elevation, and official results on dailymile.

City and Muir Woods Tour - The day after the race, we went on this 8-hour tour with Jason's parents that were visiting, and I used this iPhone app called MobilyTrip to capture it. Probably not the best way to recover from a hard race, but it was a lot of fun. It was a great way to see highlights of our new city and we'll be going back to Muir Woods for a longer hike. Check out my MobiliyTrip journal for photos and details about the tour.

New Home - The craziness and challenges of moving across the country continue, but at least we finally moved into our permanent home in the Marina on Saturday. We absolutely love the neighborhood and how close we are to a National Park and other cool attractions. Our stuff, including  furniture and kitchen stuff, will not be here for another week or two, but we have a new bed and mattress, and some basics to get use through. Let me tell you though, it's hard as hell peeling and cutting potatoes with a small steak knife, and I'm having to get really creative when cooking because all we have is a 10" cast iron skillet and 9 x 13 baking pan. So if you have recipe ideas that only require those two cooking vessels, please comment!

Presidio Cross Country 5K - 2nd race in SF and it went much better than the half. This was my first trail race and I had so much fun! Despite my pace being slower than at the half, I ran a better race and focused on enjoying running and it made all the difference. And to think I almost didn't even go, but thankfully Jason made me. Now I'm hooked on trail running =) See more details and official results on dailymile. After the race and some errands, we enjoyed our new neighborhood with a friend. It was the perfect day.

Presidio Hike - Last night we went on our first hike in the Presidio, the national park right next door. It was short, but it didn't lack in terrain and elevation changes. I'm so excited to do more of these in the future, and I plan to do a similar run there tomorrow. See map, elevation and details on dailymile.

So that's it. We're all caught up now and I'll try to post more regularly so I don't have to do catch up posts like these in the future. How's everyone doing back in Orlando? Miss you!