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New Digs!

movingSo I’ve finally bitten the bullet & transferred my entire blog over to Blogger. While some things are harder in Blogger than Tumblr & it’s taken some getting used to, there are definitely a lot of things that are much easier, so on average it seemed like the right choice. (Also, the entire process was WAY easier & less time-consuming than I thought it would be!) I’m a little sad to lose all your lovely comments from this site, but I figured it was better to do it sooner than later.

You can check out the new digs here! I’ll be posting on that site from now on, but will leave this one up since a lot of the old posts still contain link to the tumblr blog.

Race Report: Clarksburg Country Run Half Marathon 2011

CCRI know, I know — this race was like forever ago at this point & I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to get it together & write a race report.

It’s not that I think you all sit on my home page hitting refresh every ten seconds or anything; my bigger concern was that, because I’ve been so anxious & freaked out intently focused on Clarksburg & so vocal about what I wanted to do there, someone might take my blog silence in the days following the race as a sign that I either didn’t survive it or had such a horrific race that I’ve been wallowing on the couch in my bathrobe for the last three days drowning my sorrows in rocky road & gin.

No worries. I’ve just been really busy the last few days, and also waiting for race photos to get posted. (Sorry if I worried you.) Thankfully, I was able to steal a lot of what I needed for this post from the one I wrote about Clarksburg when I first learned about the race. So here you go:

Location: Clarksburg, CA (close to Sacramento)

Date: Mid-November (November 13, 2011 this year)

The Deal: A fundraiser put on by several Clarksburg community groups (Boy Scouts, Fire Fighters, Cub Scouts, The Soccer Club, & Clarksburg Schools) who volunteer to run it. Also, the half marathon is a PA USATF Championship race.

Price: There are several different events:

  • 20 Mile or Half Marathon - $45.00 til 10/28, $50.00 til 11/12, $55.00 race day
  • Half Marathon Relay (2 people) - $70.00 til 10/28, $75.00 til 11/12, $80.00 race day (per pair)
  • 5K or 10K - $30.00 til 10/28, $35.00 til 11/12, $40.00 race day
  • Kids’ Fun Run - $10.00 til 10/28, $15.00 til 11/12, $20.00 race day

Deadline: Race day registration

Field Size: This year, there were 511 finishers in the half, & 28 in my age group (down from 53 in 2010.) There were 455 finishers in the 20 miler.

Sellout Factor: Unlikely, as far as I can tell; PA USATF grand prix aside, it’s a small local race with race day registration.

The Course

To quote the site, “All courses are USATF certified, flat, paved and scenic past area wineries and farms.” Flat? Yes. (The biggest hills on the 20 mile & half mary course are in the ~0.03% grade range.) Paved? Yes, but beware that these two-lane country roads do have a noticeable camber. It didn’t bother me or mess with my stride at all, but I’ve heard that it’s bothered other runners enough to turn them off of running it again. Scenic? Um, no. Except for some trees with some pretty fall foliage, there is nothing to see (and sometimes smell) but mile after mile of freshly fertilized empty fields. Technically, they may be wineries, but don’t think for a minute that this is going to be like one of those hoity-toity boutique races through Napa or Sonoma.

The nice thing about the course, though, is the fact that it’s an out-and-back with only a few turns — easy to memorize and easy to run tangents on (my Garmin registered 13.15 miles), if you can mentally tolerate the long stretches of unchanging scenery. (The monotony didn’t bother me — I actually wouldn’t mind running it again, but some runners said they were bored out of their minds.)

Logistics

Relative to the number of runners, there is not a ton of parking, so I’d carpool or try to arrive early. Packet pickup & race day registration were easy to find & well-organized. There were plenty of port-a-potties, though this was not immediately obvious because they were scattered around different parts of the race area (3 here, 5 there, 2 over there). The races start later than most — the kids’ races started at 8:30, with the 20-miler at 9:00, the half at 9:15, the 10K at 9:30, & the 5K at 9:45 (though everything after the 20 miler ended up getting pushed back 10 minutes, but I don’t think anyone cared). I didn’t take advantage of them, but it was also nice to know there was a free lunch & showers after the races.

Based on the weather report, I was expecting low fifties & cloudy, so I’d brought a few different layering options, including arm warmers, gloves, and a headband with ear covers. There had been a chance of rain earlier in the week, so I also wore my rain shell as a warm up jacket. It was chilly when I arrived at 7:45, but started warming up quicker than I’d expected. Completely by chance, Sesa ended up parking directly behind me, so we finally got to meet! We chatted for a bit & then headed over to the start, & on the way ran into Katie & Jessica. S, K, & J were all running the 20 miler as a training run, so their race started at 9:00. We said goodbye at 8:56, I watched them start, then took off on my warm up.

Jessica, Katie, me, & Sesa after the race. Totally stole this picture from Sesa, btw. ;)

Which is when I started to realize that in addition to being not terribly cloudy, it was also definitely not low fifties. Over the course of 15 minutes of jogging, I shed one layer after another until I was down to a sports bra & booty shorts & still uncomfortably warm. (I couldn’t even tolerate my headband & just wrapped it around my wrist for sweat-wiping.) At the start, two separate women (wearing the long-sleeved finisher shirt & tights) asked me if I wasn’t freezing. I was sweating just looking at them.

The Race

At 9:25 we were off. I’m happy to say I made it to the start feeling strong, rested, and without any lingering injury pain. In my HMP runs, I’ve sometimes had a tendency to go out too fast, so my plan for the race was to do my best to run negative splits by staying in the high 7:30s / low 7:40s for the first part of the race. For the first six miles, I was right on track — 7:41, 7:40, 7:36, 7:38, 7:42, 7:43. Yay! :-D

Towards the end of mile six, I started to feel some tightness in my chest, which made me nervous. By the time I hit mile seven, there was no denying that I was having a full-blown asthma attack. BOO! >:-(

I’ve talked about running through asthma attacks before. Using my inhaler 10-20 minutes before I run virtually always prevents attacks, so I rarely carry it with me. (Seriously - I haven’t had an attack during a race since high school.) If I do have an attack, easy/moderate running is doable for a short while but not pretty or fun, and fast running is entirely out of the question. So as soon as I realized what was happening, I knew what it meant for my race. Somewhere in the back of my mind, part of me was crushed and painfully disappointed; the rest of my brain, though, was going into cold-blooded damage control mode.

Immediately, my “A” goal shifted from “break 1:40” to “avoid an ambulance ride.” I still had over six miles to go at that point and was not at all sure that I would even be able to finish. Mentally, I started preparing myself to stop at an aid station and ask a volunteer to call the bus. I have never DNF’d before, so this was not a prospect that appealed to me greatly. Basically, I decided to run until I couldn’t.

The next mental battle I had to fight was walking. I’ve never wanted so badly to walk. I would tell myself, “When you finish mile 9 you can walk. Okay, that wasn’t so bad, you can make it to mile 10. Then you can walk. Okay, now try to get to mile 10.5. See if you can get to 11.” In this fashion, I made it all the way to the last water stop around 11.5 without walking. I walked long enough to drain two full cups of water, then started running again. Even then, I wasn’t sure I could finish, but I kept telling myself I knew I would anyway.

(Also, you know all the horribly violent thoughts you have about people shouting “You’re almost there!” at mile 9? Try to imagine what that’s like when you feel like you’re breathing through a coffee straw. That and people at mile 12 entreating you to “Kick it in!” when your primary concern at the moment is avoiding hypoxemia.)

I don’t know how I finished. I don’t remember much about the last mile, except attempting over and over again to count to 100 and repeatedly losing my place and starting over. I do remember attempting some sort of kick when I saw the finish line & noticed that my pace as I crossed the mat was 7:19; I’m still not sure how I managed that.

The most ridiculous part was that, even after all that, I was within a minute of a PR. Granted, my current PR (1:46:10) is old and outdated and I am in far better shape now, but still. It wasn’t even as bad as when I ran RNR San Jose last year with three injuries.

I grabbed my medal & two cups of water from the super-cute cub scouts at the finish (seriously — I’m so bummed I didn’t go back and take a picture of them. They were super cute and so excited to get to hand out medals & water) & stumbled/crawled back to my car like a drunk person & proceeded to suck on my inhaler until I felt human again.

(Do you like that fake smile, by the way? I had promised myself I would, for once, have a finishing picture where I was smiling, no matter how I felt physically or emotionally. “Woo, only .25 more miles to my drugs!!”)

And really, that was the worse of it — as soon as I could breathe again, I felt totally fine. (Of course, I then proceeded to have post-race brain damage & lose my keys for half an hour, which caused me to miss Sesa, Katie, & Jess finishing. My keys were in the keyhole of the open trunk. Right above my head. For half an hour.)

I saw Katie first & we commiserated about our un-fun runs. We also both agreed that in sheer defiance of the laws of nature, the course had somehow managed to have a headwind in pretty much every direction. It was sort of comforting to know that I hadn’t been hallucinating that due to lack of oxygen. Although I think that without the asthma attack I definitely would’ve had a PR and come in very close to 1:40, I’m not 100% convinced I would’ve broken it. Even though it was probably only around 65°, I was running really hot (it was pretty sunny & most of the course was unshaded) & fighting at least some wind in every direction (!). Yes, I held a good pace for the first few miles & probably could’ve held it for a while longer, but my heart rate was up near 10K range for a lot of those first six miles, and I was having a little tougher time overall than I’ve had in most of my pace runs. I think I would’ve had a strong time, maybe 1:41-1:42ish, but if I’m really honest with myself, I don’t know that conditions were right for me to run 1:39 on that particular day.

Schwag: A lovely long-sleeve tech shirt in hunter green, and attractive finisher medals for the half & 20 miler. Racing in the finisher shirt is always a bit sketch in my opinion (though admittedly a minor offense as running faux-paus go), but I thought it was extra weird at this race how many people were running in it given how warm it was.

(I know it looks kind of gray in this picture, but it really is a beautiful shade of hunter green.)

So…given that this was supposed to be my re-match race after the death march at RNR SJ last year, you’d probably expect me to be pretty upset about how things went down Sunday. Yes, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t bummed about the asthma, but in spite of that, I’m in a pretty good place about it now. In fact, I’m actually excited about a bunch of things:

  • This is the first half I’ve gone into feeling completely & totally undaunted by the distance. I could not wait to attack it & wasn’t really thinking about it as a “long” race at all, which makes it MUCH less scary to run fast. For that, I have marathon training and all those “real” long runs to thank.
  • Start to finish, I felt completely and totally pain-free — hips, hamstring, shin splints, tendinitis, calf, and all. That’s the first race that’s happened at in YEARS. I give a lot of the credit to being diligent about my strength work & also putting a lot of effort into improving my form in the last few months, and also the custom orthotics & the time I’ve spent running in the air cast that’s allowed my tendon to slowly but surely start to heal.
  • When I finished, I felt it a ton in my hamstrings and glutes (not pain, just the sensation of having worked hard) and almost not at all in my quads & lower legs, which means I was probably (and amazingly) in reasonably good form for most of the race.
  • Even though it was warmer than I prefer, my strategy of carrying a 20 oz disposable bottle of diluted Gatorade until it ran out, then just using aid stations worked perfectly. I felt well-fueled & hydrated the whole way, even with the warm weather.
  • I did a good job of pacing myself & staying exactly where I wanted to be, up until I couldn’t breathe.
  • I suspect I probably ran good tangents (like I said, 13.15 according to the Garmin).Or it was a short course & I sucked at tangents (though I don’t think that’s the case because my Garmin was beeping pretty much exactly at or slightly before the mile markers the whole way).
  • In a twisted kind of way, even my asthmatic miles were kind of awesome. I probably pulled off one of the most incredible feats of mental toughness of my entire running career, and at 7 miles at an ~8:36 pace, set a Hurculean PR for running with asthma. (Normally by “I can do some easy running with asthma,” I mean maybe 3-4 miles at a 9:15-9:30 pace.)
  • Ironically, this is the first half marathon I’ve run where I haven’t spent the last three miles thinking, “This is insane & I am NEVER doing it again.” Nope; the race wasn’t even over and I was already plotting revenge.

So yeah. The only question now is, When is the re-match of the re-match? Because there is still a 1:39:59 half in me just begging to get out. Far from discouraging me, what this ill-fated Clarksburg race actually did was let me get all the crazy-frazzled-anxious-nervous feelings out of the way. It’s confirmed for me that, yes, this 1:46 PR business is silly at this point, and (barring freak medical problems) I could probably run a faster half any day of the week. It’s given me confidence that 1:40 is within reach, even if it takes me a few races to actually make it happen.

Right now I’m too focused on CIM to think too much about when & where my next half will be. I know I’ll definitely need a good bit of time post-marathon to rest & rejuvenate & generally take some time off mentally from structured training. But come spring 2012, it is ON, bitches!

(Again…)

Is It Over Yet?

isitoveryet(Editor’s Note: So I just re-read this whole post after letting it sit for a little bit. I kind of thought about not posting it, because it sort of makes me sound like a semi-crazy person. Then I decided I might as well, because at least it’s honest. I am clearly a little loopy & spastic right now, for which I really, really apologize…I think I’ll be a little more sound-of-mind again after Sunday. Again….sorry.)

I have been kind of a whole weird mess of emotions this week. There are many reasons for this.

  • I am racing my first half marathon in over a year on Sunday.
  • I have set a BAMF goal & been super vocal about it, which adds a lot of pressure because I used to not talk about my running goals to anyone ever, at all. (Sesa introduced me to the phrase BAMF goal, so brace yourself because I plan on using it quite a bit from now on.)
  • My last half marathon race was pretty much a disaster. Theoretically I was chasing the same BAMF goal (see, told you), but kind of knew a good month out from the race that it wasn’t going to happen.
  • My taper weeks have been a little more taper-ey than I’d planned, which I know shouldn’t make much different for the half Sunday, but it makes me very nervous about CIM.
  • I can’t stop being nervous for CIM.
  • My last HMP run attempt was SUPER crappy.
  • My brain is doing that annoying thing where I look back over my approximately seven billion weeks of training & starting picking holes in it & coming up with reasons for why I’m obviously not -really- well-trained for this race, -certainly- not well-trained enough for my crazy BAMF goal.
  • I pulled my right hamstring at karate Monday and haven’t been able to run for the last two days (after also not running on Saturday & Sunday in Paso)
  • It’s Thursday & I’ve run a grand total of six miles so far this week due to said hamstring; not being able to run always makes me anxious & melodramatic.
  • Did I mention how I’m super nervous about CIM?
  • It’s been a slow week work-wise, meaning I’ve had more time than usual to stew over all of this.

Sigh.

So it’s probably not terribly surprising that, after a year of being so pumped about kicking ass at this thing, I’ve been having a hard time this week getting excited about running Sunday. I’m kind of like, “Blah, is it Sunday yet? Is that damned race over yet? I wish Sunday would just get here so I can get it the eff done & not have to think about it anymore.”

I need to get pumped about this race ASAP.

Reasons Why Clarksburg Half Marathon will be AWESOME:

Reason #1: The course doesn’t look like a map of the freaking London Underground. Races with a lot of turns are hard for me. And they make me nervous. And just forget about running good tangents. This course?

CCRHM Map

Hellz yeah. (I also like how you spend just about equal time running in all four directions, because if there’s strong wind in any one direction, it’ll pretty much balance out.)

Reason #2: Flat, fast, & paved. I am all about a boring race course. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate a nice view as much as the next girl, and the thrills, chills, & spills of running up & down crazy bridges & multiple 6% grades have their place. But that place is not in my BAMF goal race. Check this out:

CCRHM El Prof

The profile may make it look like there are a couple of good hills in there, but once you check the scale, you realize they’re more like divets. That big one at the beginning & end (remember it’s an out-and-back) is about 17 feet of elevation change over .9 miles (4752 feet), or 17 / 4752 = .003577, or ~0.3% grade. I think my front hallway is steeper than that. Central Valley for the win! (That may be the first time I’ve ever said/written that….)

Reason #3: Sweet weather. A November morning race in the Central Valley is hard to beat in terms of running weather. Earlier it looked like we might be in for some rain (which, whatever; I’ll take a little rain over heat ANY day), but now they’ve revised the forecast:

CCRHM Weather

The half starts at 9:15, so I’m guessing we’ll be somewhere in the low fifties. I think that’s pretty much the best you can ever hope for.

Reason #4: I will be dressed like a bad ass. It is only appropriate for someone pursuing such a BAMF goal. I don’t want to give too much away, but I’m just saying. You may want to make sure you check back on Monday or Tuesday of next week to see my sweet race pictures. I plan on looking fast and edgy regardless of how I do time-wise. Here’s a little teaser, though…

Arm Warmers

I wear arm warmers now. Arm warmers are cool. (Unless it ends up too warm. In which they will not be cool at all & will stay in my bag.)

Well…I guess that’s about it. Feeling a little more pumped. About to head off for a run on the Embarcadero with some Bay Area blogger types; hopefully that will help as well. :)

Update: It helped a lot. :)

7 Random Facts

versatile bloggerA few days back the fabulous XLMIC tagged me with The Versatile Blogger Award (very flattering of her, as I have never thought of my blog as particularly versatile!), for which I am to share 7 random facts about myself. This is really good because I feel like I kind of don’t want to write about running this week.

Dilemmas, dilemmas! Do I go inane-random (“I prefer the blue bowls to go in the top rack of the dishwasher and the maroon ones to go in the bottom.”)? OCD-random (“When I swim in a lap pool, it makes me itchy to stop at the far end, like dividing by zero.”)? Kind of craaaazy-random (“I have an irrational fear of mittens and insist on gloves at all costs.”)?

Well, I could. But then I remembered that I am relatively new to all this & all of you, and you probably don’t actually know that many non-creepy / bizarre things about me that don’t involve running. So I decided to try to come across as an at least somewhat function & semi-normal person.

Without further ado, 7 (semi-)random facts:

stanford vs osu1) I played polo for Stanford in grad school. I’ve ridden horses pretty much all my life. In high school I worked for an equitherapy barn, and in college I managed the barn at a Girl Scout horse camp in Southern California. When I went to Stanford for grad school, I wanted to get into lessons again but it was stupid expensive. Polo was comparatively cheap, so I did that instead. I picked it up reasonably quickly & ended up working with the team for several years after I graduated, giving riding lessons & helping teach people to play.

2) When I was a full-time teacher, I had summer jobs. My two coolest summer jobs where when I worked for Ballistic Missile Defense in 2007 and the US Navy’s Nuclear Weapons Security division in 2009, both at Lockheed-Martin Space Systems as part of a summer fellowship program for math & science teachers.

Now, you are crazy if you think they let us take any pictures there EVER. (Seriously…there were areas I worked in on occasion where I couldn’t bring in my freaking cell phone.) But, they did sometimes take us on cool field trips, where a vetted photographer would take pictures, & once the pictures were cleared by security, they sent them to us. This is when we toured the NASA Ames Research Center in Sunnyvale & got to play in the shuttle flight simulator, which was kind of cool.

nasa ames

3) When I was in high school, I could bench press 110 pounds. As part of track & field, we had strength training twice a week at seven a.m., which included a lot of weight lifting. I was also doing gymnastics during this time & doing a shit ton of push ups & pull ups on the side, so I could bench press a lot more than most of the other girls and was the first freshman girl to get to 100. We got awesome “100 Club” T-shirts to wear and I was super bummed when I found out I had to give it back at the end of the year. And that someone else had probably spent last year lifting weights in it, too. Ew.

wine4) In case it didn’t come across in my pre-Paso blog (it may have gotten buried in all the burnout whining), I am a hopeless oenophile. I don’t know that I would say I am an “aficionado” or a “connoisseur,” but I do like me some good wine & I’ve gotten very picky about what I like.

Now, this is not to say that I am a snob about wine — I couldn’t give two craps about the price tag on a bottle or where it’s from as long as it’s tasty. I’m happy as a clam enjoying a well-done value red blend with pizza or BBQ, and I’ve tasted Napa cab priced in triple digits that I wouldn’t recommend to anyone. (BTW, if you’re ever going tasting in Napa / Sonoma or down in Paso, let me know & I am happy to tell you about all my favorite spots!)

5) I’m a 2nd degree brown belt in Isshin-ryu karate. I started studying back in ‘02 in college, then took a couple of years off while I was in grad school, then went back to it. Now I practice twice a week, which is where Don & I met when I first started going to the Berkeley dojo back in ‘05.

kusanku sai

6) I don’t care for chocolate that much. I feel like people are always kind of shocked by that and I’m not sure why. (“Really???!!?!? How can you not like chocolate!?!??!!”) I mean no one would have that reaction if you said you didn’t like peanut butter or almonds or something. It’s not that I hate chocolate or won’t eat things that have chocolate in them. I just don’t crave it very often (maybe twice a year), and I will ALWAYS choose the fruity / creamy / baking spiced dessert over the chocolatey one. Don says that this is one of the many reasons why I am not a real girl and only play one when I have to wear heels.

dessert

Now this is the type of dessert I could get behind.

7) In addition to getting my math degree from Oberlin College, I also studied music composition & vocal performance at Oberlin Conservatory across the street. I’d pretty much grown up singing & playing piano and guitar, but I didn’t start really studying seriously until high school. I started out doing mostly classical / operatic works & competing in regional & state-wide solo, ensemble, & choral competitions, & then added composition when the creative side got the better of me. (Eventually composition became my main focus & performing was more of something I did on the side.) Although I haven’t done much classical stuff since leaving school, I had a little folk/rock band for a little while early in my adult life, but at this point most of my singing is limited to car trips & I can’t even tell you the last time I wrote something (probably back in the folk/rock era). I can’t tell you how much it hurts my soul, day in & day out, not to have a piano in the house. Sometimes I think running kind of fills that void. Kind of.

oberlin conpractice room

Weirdly, I couldn’t find any music-related pictures from college at all. (Then again those were pre-digital years so maybe it’s not so weird.) But here is a picture of the Conservatory and a practice room much like the ones where I typically spent approximately 2-4 hours a day for five years.

I hope no one is offended if I don’t tag folks, mainly because I know lots of people have been already and I don’t necessarily know who, as I am relatively knew to this whole crazy blogging world. I might tag you and then find out you’d already been tagged back in the Pleistocene Epoch, and how embarrassing would that be for both of us?!? (Hint: Pretty darned embarrassing.) But I certainly have no beef with random factoids, so if you have some random factoids you really want to share, feel free to share them & be all like, “SF Road Warrior tagged me to do this.” I will totally back you up.

Week In Review: Oct 31 - Nov 6
Running ShoesThis is my weekly training journal. Including it in the blog gives me a little extra accountability in the mileage department & helps me stick to my schedule. :)

1 Week to Clarksburg Half Marathon

4 Weeks to Cal International Marathon



I’m writing this after returning from my super-relaxing weekend of wine tasting in Paso Robles. As always, we had a fantastic time, drank a lot of delicious wine (and brought way, WAY too much of it home with us), and had a *spectacular* dinner Saturday night at an Italian place called Il Cortile. Seriously. If you go to Paso, that is where you need to eat dinner. Just be sure to make a reservation.

Thinking of doing a separate Paso post for all you wine-o’s out there, but first, let me get this training journal up.

My original goal was to manage around 40 miles this week, which would mean averaging 10 miles a day Tuesday through Friday (since I wasn’t planning on running in Paso). That didn’t end up quite happening, but it wasn’t because I got lazy or wimped out or anything. This was one of those weeks when I absolutely could’ve run more, but decided that the smart thing to do was run a little less. (I talked about it some in my pre-Paso weekend post already.)

Tuesday: 10 miles easy 6 miles easy. How much did I not feel like running today, physically or mentally? (Hint: A whole effing lot.) I know it’s a bad day when I don’t just get it in at the first (maybe second) opportunity. On Tuesday, I procrastinated for something in the neighborhood of eight hours before I finally changed into running clothes & forced myself, one foot in front of the other, out the door.

Most of the time ten easy miles is no biggie, but two miles in, I was exhausted & my legs felt like lead. I decided this wasn’t so weird, since I’d just run 20 on Sunday for the first time since approximately the Pleistocene Epoch and probably wasn’t completely recovered, and if I could get in eight, that would be okay. Two miles later, all I could think about was getting to the end of the run. Finally I decided six miles would have to be good enough, because that was going to take everything I had.

Shake it off, shake it off, I told myself; maybe you just needed an easy day after the long run.

Wednesday: 8 miles (2 wu + 6 @ HMP). 8 miles (2 wu + 3 @ HMP + 3 easy). Another day of procrastinating for as long as humanly possible (ie, it was dark by the time I finally ran). I still felt pretty busted & couldn’t imagine running at HM pace, but sometimes I start off feeling that way & then after a couple of warm up miles, I feel a lot better. Not today. I felt shitty for the entire 2 mile warm up, but decided I’d give the HMP miles a shot & just see what I could do.

A week before, I’d done this workout at a 7:30 pace with an average heart rate of 184 bpm (ie, less effort than normal), in the heat. Today, I wanted to die after a mile and a half, managing barely a sub-eight pace. Through some miracle I made it through two miles & managed to pick up the pace a little, but I felt terrible. Soon I was telling myself, It’s a taper week, so just get through four miles. You can make it through four. Well, no I couldn’t. It took everything I had to get through a third mile. Average 7:45 / mile. I had to walk a quarter mile before I could even jog again. Still, I did jog again, and if nothing else, got in the same number of miles. Not exactly confidence-building, eleven days out from a race.

Still, I think it speaks to how far I’ve come as a runner that I didn’t completely fall apart emotionally at this point & instead was like, “Okay, body. It’s been a year / cycle / month of lots of miles & hard work. Maybe it’s just time to back off a little & just make sure I’m rested & sharp on the 13th.” I even decided to be a little proactive & spend Thursday resting, rather than going out & having another shitty run.

Friday: 12 miles (2 wu + 10 @ MP) 10 miles (2 wu + 8 @ MP) I wasn’t super-stoked to run Friday (still pretty tired), but I knew I needed to get a solid MP run before going away for the weekend. I didn’t feel great for the 2 warm up miles & went back & forth in my head at least a dozen times about whether to try the whole thing, do 6 easy miles & call it good, do the full distance but not worry about the pace, do a short MP run, etc. Finally, I decided I wouldn’t be too draconian about the pace & would instead try to run “comfortably fast,” and if I started feeling really bad, I’d turn around.

"Comfortably fast" started out around 8:20 - 8:30, but I was surprised & pleased to see that after a mile or two, I was running pretty comfortably in the 8:10 - 8:15 range, which is what I’d call my "conservative" marathon pace. (By the way, my new plan is to run with the 3:40 pace group, 8:12 / mile, for at least the first half.) I knew that there was a convenient turnaround point coming up that makes a nice ten mile loop, so I decided to do my best to keep running at that pace & complete that. By the end, I felt like I could’ve run two more MP miles & finished the workout on my schedule, but given how crappy I’d been feeling & that my priority was not doing anything to jeopardize Clarksburg, I decided it was a better idea to just stick with 10.

Saturday & Sunday: Rest / sleep / drink / eat / regrow soul

Grand Total: 24 miles

No, it’s not 40, but it’s what I think I needed this week. I think I have a very good shot at breaking 1:40 at Clarksburg next Sunday, but only if I show up rested, refreshed, & focused. This week, I’m hoping to get in a couple of short easy runs, a shorter version of my usual 9-10 mile MP runs, & a few HMP miles a couple days before the race, just to remind my legs that they can run fast.

A Much-Needed Weekend Off

Tapering has come at just the right time for me. The first weekend in November is coming up, which is one of my favorite weekends of the year.

My boyfriend has been a member of a spectacular winery in Paso Robles called Turley Cellars for years and years. If you like big, bold, spicy California reds, this may be your winery. They do a lot of different zins, and also some tasty grenache, a blended white, and the occasional petite sirah (not to mention an out of this world red table wine for $10-12 per bottle, which is better than plenty of $30 bottles I’ve had — it’s the one I used in the stew).

Every year on the first weekend in April and November, they throw a big release party at the winery with good food, live music, and tastings of old & new releases. Last year there were even raptors (apparently some wineries use them in their vineyards for pest control). They’ll ship the wine if you want, but given how close we are, we instead use it as an excuse to get a hotel room & spend the weekend wine tasting.

turley sign with gourds

turley vineyard

turley tasting room

turley patio

I know lots of people who do whatever they have to to get their running in, even out of town and/or on vacation. They get up extra-early, google the local trails, or scout treadmill availability at their hotel. Hey, I’ve done it.

Turley weekend is sacred to me, though. Turley weekend is about relaxing and being lazy, sleeping in, indulging in delicious food, scouting out new tasty wineries, and dressing up a little to try to fit in with the wine wives at Turley. (Seriously - you’ve never seen as many ridiculous rocks & designer handbags this far out in rural California.) It’s about turning off my phone & ignoring my e-mail. It’s about quarantining our weekend from everything else in our lives that’s remotely stressful or taxing. So this weekend, there will be no running whatsoever. None. Zilch. Nada.

in the vines at wild horse

See how relaxed I look? :)

Turley weekend comes at an even more auspicious time this year, because friends….I am dealing with some serious training burnout.

I rallied hardcore last week & got in one more solid, high-mileage week, and was so relieved to complete my last long run & officially start my taper. I took Monday off to make sure I was recovered enough to get through all my quality workouts this week.

And then it was Tuesday. And it was time to run.

And I Could.

Not.

Rally.

Well; that’s not completely true. After procrastinating for around 8 hours, I did set off on an easy ten miler. (Originally, I’d wanted to get in around 40 miles this week; since I was only planning on running four days, I upped the mileage on my easy days a bit.) Two miles in, I was exhausted & my legs felt like lead. Well, you did just run 20 miles two days ago, so if you can get through eight, that’ll be okay, I told myself. Two miles later, all I could think about was getting to the end of the run. I kept up a reasonable 8:50 pace, but it felt super hard. Finally I decided six miles would have to do (and was incredibly happy when it was over).

On Wednesday, I had a half marathon pace run scheduled. At a minimum, this normally means a two-mile warm-up & then six miles in the 7:30 - 7:40 range. I jogged my two miles, then picked up the pace. Last week, I did this workout at a 7:30 pace with an average heart rate of 184 bpm (ie, less effort than normal). Today, I wanted to die after a mile and a half, managing barely a sub-eight pace. Through some miracle I made it through two miles & managed to pick up the pace a little, but I felt terrible. Soon I was telling myself, It’s a taper week, so just get through four miles. You can make it through four. Well, no I couldn’t. It took everything I had to get through a third mile. Average 7:45 / mile. I had to walk a quarter mile before I could even jog again.

That shook me up a little. Not exactly confidence-building, eleven days out from a race. The more I thought about how I’ve been feeling lately, though, the more things started sounding familiar. And I remembered why.

When I got home I googled “symptoms running overtraining.” This brought up only about a billion different pages, all with slightly different lists, but most of them overlap a reasonable amount. Here’s a constellation pulled from a few different pages:

  • Decreased Physical Performance. I had a good week last week, but Tuesday and Wednesday were both pretty bad (though I’m sure part of it has to do with the longer-term recovery from the 20-miler, especially since I don’t run that far on a regular basis).
  • Heavy Legs. Somewhat while running, but I’ve noticed it more just walking. For example, one of my contracting jobs is a five-block walk from home, and I’ve had a couple of days where my legs have felt like lead.
  • Increased Perceived Exertion. See above. Definitely happening.
  • Loss of Enthusiasm for Running. Check. I’ve had a couple of days where I’ve been completely emotionally unable to face running at all, and a couple more where I’ve only gotten the work done by the rational part of my brain beating the emotional part into submission, dragging it caveman-style out the door, and practically flogging it the whole way. Those were not happy runs, even if I did get them done. On Tuesday and Wednesday I put them off until the last possible minute, until I reached the “if you don’t do it now, you’re not doing it at all” part of the evening.
  • Change in Sleep Patterns. Check. Haven’t been sleeping well recently.
  • Loss of Appetite. Maybe a little. I have a pretty strong appetite, so suddenly having a semi-normal appetite is kind of like loss of appetite.
  • Frequent Colds / Illness. Thankfully, I can say no to that one.
  • Elevated Resting Heart Rate. I don’t think so. It hasn’t been elevated on my runs either — in fact, I’ve more often been having the problem of feeling like I’m running quite hard, when both my pace and heart rate suggest otherwise. As if no matter how hard I try to run, I can’t get my heart rate to rise.

I don’t actually think I’m overtraining at this point the way super-knowledgeable running experts would define it; all this stuff is too recent & hasn’t gone on long enough for that (most things I read define “overtraining” as something that isn’t fixed with 3-5 days of complete rest), and is also probably not really intense enough. Still, it is enough for me to notice that something is off. That if I didn’t have the half coming up in a little over a week and tried to put in two more 50-60 miles weeks of marathon training, I might be starting down that path.

It makes sense. Other than the occasional cut-back week, I’ve been building mileage non-stop for eleven months now. I’ve raced five times this year and will run twice more before 2012. (That’s a lot for me — until now I’ve never raced more than four times in a single year post-college.) While the outcomes have been mostly positive, I’ve spent a lot of emotional energy dealing with injuries and almost-injuries. I’m mentally tired. My body is tired. I’ve been training harder, in terms of both volume & intensity, than I’ve been physically capable of in nearly two years. In all honesty, I’d kind of be surprised to reach this point and not feel a bit of burnout.

The upshot? I think it’s clear that if the race was this weekend, I’d probably turn in a rather lackluster performance. Not terrible, but not the race that I’ve been (re-)training for since January. At this point, the hay is in the barn; if I’m going to run the best 13 miles I’m capable of in Clarksburg on 11/13, I need to make sure I give my body plenty of time to rest and recover over the next week and two days. Yes, it makes me a little nervous for the marathon, but the 1:40 half has always been the top priority, and if reaching that goal means a mediocre performance at CIM, then so be it.

While it will be nice to have a physical micro-break, I think the mental benefits of spending the weekend away will be just as important to dialing in during that last week before the race and making sure I’m sharp, fresh, and excited to race.

Are you overtraining? Take this test to prevent crossing the fine line between training and overtraining.

(PS, I just randomly googled that from Runner’s World, so if it sucks or makes no sense, sorry.)

Taking Stock

It’s been a long, hard, slog of a year — one that started off with four months of physical therapy and a constellation of injuries so bad I could barely run at all. Now here I am on the other side of things, after eleven months of continuously and ever-so-gradually re-building mileage, two weeks away from my first half marathon in over a year, and five weeks away from my first marathon. My last long run is in the bag, and I’ve officially commenced tapering. Seems like a good time to stop & do some reflecting.

Clarksburg Half Marathon:

Clarksburg logoI finally (FINALLY!) feel confident that, yes, I’m physically capable of running a 1:40 half marathon. It will not be fun or easy and I will probably want to quit and cry slow down around mile ten, but I think I’m there.

On 10/27, I ran a strong six miles at an average 7:30 pace with a heart rate of 184 bpm (I’ve been averaging around 7:37ish & 188 bpm), and felt as if I could’ve kept going for a while. This did include a few stops at traffic lights and two water fountain stops, but it also included warm weather, rolling hills, a decent headwind for half the way, and a ten mile run the day before. Clarksburg should be basically flat & fairly cool, and I’ll be running on fresh legs.

I had several moments in those early miles (uphill) of looking down at my watch & realizing I was running nearly 10K pace. Disciplining myself to go out a little slower (7:40-42ish) & let the speed come gradually will be key. No matter how good / easy it feels, I want to average no faster than 7:35 / mile for the first 10 miles. The last 5K = anything goes.

After racing lots of 10Ks this summer and running 6-8 miles on my easy days for the last couple of months, six miles has started to feel quite short & over before I know it. The 10-12 milers that were my long runs earlier in the year have now started to feel more like comfy medium-distance runs. Between that & training for a full three weeks after the half, I’m going into a half for the first time without really thinking of it as a “long” race.

I’ve gotten used to running fast in the left air cast. It really does magically get rid of tendonitis pain while it’s on. The right calf strain isn’t getting better but also not really getting worse. It does tend to hurt for the first few miles, but then the pain goes away.

Breaking 1:40 will be a close, close thing & will depend on whether or not the stars align. (For the statistics geeks among you, I’m predicting a 95% confidence interval of 4 minutes.) If I eat well, sleep well, all my various body parts behave, the weather is cool, and there’s no headwind, I think I’ll do it.

(Nothing like calling your shots to get the blood pumping, eh?)

California International Marathon:

CIM logoI’m not totally ready to call this one yet; after all, there are still five weeks to go. But I’ve learned a lot in the last few months & do have some thoughts.

I think I’ve finally gotten 7:59 miles into my bones & my body has started to understand what that pace feels like. I’m starting to settle into some 9-10 mile MP runs & trust that, yes, I CAN hold that pace for a long time.

My (almost) Yasso 800s a few weeks ago averaged 3:24 each, and although I only did 8 reps instead of 10, I finished feeling like I could’ve done several more at that pace or faster.

My 9:00 / mile long runs have been easier than I expected. I feel crappy at the end but my body has always held up, my fueling / hydrating seems to be working, and I’m able to stay positive & optimistic the whole way.

I’m 100% confident at this point that, provided I sleep, fuel, & hydrate well in the days & hours beforehand, the distance itself won’t be an issue unless something bad happens injury-wise.

All that said, the long runs (especially the 20 miler on Sunday) are forcing me to face certain facts.

I’ve had several conversations in the past with new runners about pace charts & calculators (where you look up for your time for a given race distance & then see what times are equivalent at other distances) regarding what those numbers do and don’t mean, and how to interpret the results. Ie, just because a 25 minute 5K and a 4 hour marathon line up in the chart does not mean that running a 25 minute 5K makes you capable of a 4 hour marathon. It’s just telling you what you could expect to be accomplish, if you work really hard to get into shape for a very different race with very different physical and psychological demands.

When I first entered my best 10K time from this summer into such a calculator & saw that it lined up with a 3:25 marathon, I sort of blanched a little. That’s 7:50 per mile. I wasn’t expecting anything near that fast and it kind of terrified me a little. So, I figured I’d just give myself a ten-second-per-mile cushion, train for eight minute miles, & see what happened. I’ve been shooting for right around 8:00 / mile on my MP runs & around 9:00 / mile on my long runs.

For my Sunday long run, I decided to do two loops around Golden Gate Park and the Panhandle, plus a little more to get to 20 miles. I figured I would just run at as easy & comfortable a pace as I felt like (as long as I wasn’t shuffling or anything) and see how that went.

The first 12 miles or so were great! I took the first slightly uphill mile to warm up a bit (8:54) and floated effortlessly through the next three downhill miles, surprised to see such low numbers for splits (8:34, 8:09, 8:22). The next three miles were back uphill, and though they were obviously slower, I’d still expected them to be a lot slower than they were, given the fact that I was still shooting for “effortless & floaty” & really didn’t push very hard up the hills at all (9:00, 9:09, 8:50). The last two flat-to-slightly-downhill miles to complete my first loop of the park were easy as well (8:35, 8:36). At this point, I was elated. If averaging ~8:41 was this easy at the end of a 50+ mile week, including basically a three-mile hill, surely running eight’s or thereabouts at CIM was doable.

I started the second loop ready to float down those lovely downhill miles again & anticipating the same kinds of numbers I saw the first time around. Alas, although I was running with the same amount of effort, my splits slowly but surely began creeping up (8:49, 8:59, 8:25, 8:37). About halfway through that stretch was when it stopped feeling effortless. Not terrible; just not effortless.

The second set of uphills really started to test me. I was still making a concerted effort not to push too hard, but it took a lot out of my legs nevertheless. (I was stunned that those splits were as respectable as they were compared to the first lap — 9:05, 9:07, 9:06). At this point I wanted soooo badly to pick up the pace & just churn out the last few miles. I was afraid that if I did, though, I might end up hitting a wall & unable to make it to twenty, and completing the distance was still my top priority.

The last two miles of the second loop were tough and slower than I wanted (9:08, 8:49). I knew that the two loops would get me to about 18 and I’d have to maybe make another lap and a half or so around the Panhandle to get up to 20. That was more mentally difficult than anything else. At that point, I was using every psychological trick in the book just to keep my legs moving. It wasn’t that they wanted to go any slower, but it became very difficult then to imagine forcing them to go much faster (9:16, 8:46). There’s no sound in this world as sweet as that last beep from the Garmin on a long run. Sweet baby Jesus.

So here’s my takeaway from that —

It’s not the speed that’s the problem; I honestly do believe that I can maintain an eight-minute-mile for a good, long time. What I think I’m lacking right now is the strength and endurance to keep the cruise control going at that pace for a full marathon. I’m also not convinced that slowing the pace would solve the problem. I kind of think that even if I’d been running 9:30 miles from the very beginning, I would’ve felt the same way at mile 18, purely because of where my strength & endurance is at.

Part of me also wonders if it’s a time thing. Ie, it’s not that I started having a tough time at mile 15; it’s that I started having a tough time at 2 hours & 10 minutes. If that’s the case, a faster pace might actually work to my advantage, because I’ll have gotten farther in those easy 2 hours 10 minutes, leaving fewer miles to suffer through once things inevitably get tough.

But I guess the real upshot is that, even after running at an average 8:40ish pace for the first 15 miles, I just could not imagine running five eight-minute miles. I mean yes, these were tougher hills than I’m likely to face at CIM and my legs weren’t fresh, but still. I still think I’ve got the ability to run that pace, but two months hasn’t been enough time to develop the sheer endurance (shocking).

So. We’ll see what happens in Clarksburg, which will be one additional useful piece of information. We’ll see what happens over the next three weeks, which still hold plenty of useable training time & mileage. We’ll see what happens once I start cutting back on mileage. But still, I keep coming back to the fact that it’s my first freaking marathon, and what I really want more than anything else is to have a good experience and finish strong. Right now, I’m thinking that I have a better chance of meeting that particular goal if I shoot for running with the 3:35 or 3:40 pace group instead of the 3:30 group, then pick it up at the end if I happen to be feeling really good (or, more realistically, like I’m not quite ready to keel over and die yet). Better that than going out overly ambitious & burning myself out halfway.

No matter what, I want to have a strong, happy last 10K, regardless of the pace. As long as I have a happy, strong, safe race, it will have been a good day. :)

Week In Review: Oct 24 - 30
Running ShoesThis is my weekly training journal. Including it in the blog gives me a little extra accountability in the mileage department & helps me stick to my schedule. :)

2 Weeks to Clarksburg Half Marathon

5 Weeks to Cal International Marathon



Well, here we are — Tapersville; population moi. That’s the one disadvantage of doing the half and the full three weeks apart. I need two solid taper weeks to be fresh & ready for the half, and once that’s done it would’ve been time to start marathon tapering anyway. In terms of CIM, these next five weeks will be a tricky balance between getting in a little more quality mileage and giving my body adequate time to heal & get ready to race.

It’s been a busy week for me, so I do apologize for the lack of non-training journal posts. I’ve got a few that are close to ready to go, so hopefully you’ll be seeing those soonish. (Like, before this time next week.)

Tuesday: 8 miles (2 wu + 6 @ HMP) 10 miles easy. This very nearly became another one of those aborted what-can-go-wrong-will-go-wrong not-runs that have peppered my logs as of late. Unlike last Thursday, though, when I emotionally couldn’t face running, today I was pretty sure I emotionally couldn’t face not running. I was determined to get a good, solid run in today if it killed me.

My boyfriend’s car is in the shop so he took mine to work today. This meant that since I couldn’t drive to the track, I needed to jog there & back. I planned to do my usual walk / jog 3.5 miles there, do my 6 miles at HMP at the track, then walk / jog back. Around mile 2, though, I started having asthma problems. Sometimes when they’re minor they go away, but this time they didn’t. I’ve learned that although it sucks a lot, I can do an easy run with an asthma attack, but fast running is out of the question unless I am feeling like my day has not had enough excitement and a ride in an ambulance is just the thing to spice it up.

When I got to the track, I sat & rested for a few minutes & had a little woe-is-me kind of moment & considered just jogging back home. Then another part of my brain kind of went Eff that noise, bitch. This week is our last chance to get some serious mileage in and we’re not going to let something like a little oxygen deprivation get in the way. The HMP run was clearly out; instead, I jogged three miles on the track, then back home for a total of ten. It sucked and was incredibly hard and I had to stop several times to catch my breath, but I got it done.

Wednesday: 8 miles (2 wu + 6 @ HMP). FINALLY. I didn’t much feel like it today, but this bitch was HAPPENING, one way or another. (I’m substituting it this week for the strength session at the track since it’s the same number of miles & just a slightly faster pace. That way I can make Saturday an easy day, since I have a long run Sunday.) I’ve been doing my HMP runs on the track & decided to run on the roads today, just to prove to myself I could do it.

It was just a touch warm, and the first couple of miles were uphill / rolling & into the wind, so I had to work a little harder to keep up the pace (7:35, 7:35, 7:38). I knew the return trip would be easier, but I also think I needed a little more time to get warmed up, because suddenly my heart rate and pace dropped waaaay down, more than I think the slight downhills & tailwind should account for (7:32, 7:19, 7:24). Or maybe that was all it was. Who knows. Still, I finished feeling like I could’ve gone several more miles at that level of effort, which was exactly how I needed to feel. :)

Thursday: 6 miles easy. I’d scheduled eight but something came up suddenly in the evening and I only had time for six. Being in a rush, I ran them a little faster than true “easy” pace; also, my shoes have been on their last legs for a few days (so to speak), so between those things my feet & lower legs were hurting a little more than normal for after a relatively short, easy run.

Friday: 11 miles (2 wu + 9 @ MP). My first run in new shoes! They are prototypes that I am wear testing, though, so alas I can’t tell you about them. :(

Remember how last week I was all like, “Wow, marathon pace is so EASY now!”? Well, this week I’m back to “marathon pace is teh sucky mcsuckerson.” I guess that’s the difference between doing this workout after two days of rest (last week) and doing it on a fourth consecutive running day (this week). I averaged 7:59 / mile, but just barely, and only because I really churned out the last mile (7:47) in a way I’m not sure I’ll be able to do after 25 miles. My average heart rate was about 180 bpm, which is right where I think it should be (during that last too-fast mile it was more like 190, which is half marathon territory; I just couldn’t stand the thought of finishing with 8:xx in the average pace window!).

I’ve been trying to do these runs on rolling(ish) hills as much as possible to simulate the first part of CIM by making creative loops along short stretches of the long, gentle inclines in Golden Gate Park. It feels good to know that I can still run this pace comfortably (at least for a while), but I think managing it well over hills is still something I haven’t really nailed down yet. I did keep the first few net-uphill rollers a bit slower (8:02, 8:00, 8:06, 8:04) but then didn’t really make up for it on the downhills (7:59, 7:58, 7:55). Finished with the biggest uphill on the course (8:07) and a significant downhill + running hard up the last mildly uphill half mile or so (7:47).

This is one of the reasons I’m looking forward to running with the pace group; I’ve heard that the CIM pacers are knowledgeable about and experienced on the course & take the terrain into account in deciding how to pace things.

In case you haven’t seen it, btw…

Don’t let the dramatic net-downhill fool you; all those molehill-looking dips become rather significant rollers when you stretch this thing out over 26 miles. You can take Courtney’s word for it (or that of any number of folks who’ve written race reports, which I have been reading obsessively).

Saturday: 6 miles easy Rest. The MP run was really hard on my tendonitis & I woke up Saturday limping & in quite a bit of pain. It felt a lot better by Saturday evening, but I decided that as much as I’d really wanted to get in a few easy miles, it wasn’t worth irritating the tendonitis again & being too busted for my twenty miler Sunday, since I don’t really have another day when I can do it.

Sunday: 20 miles easy - two laps around Golden Gate Park & the Panhandle, plus a little more. If I’d been able to run on Saturday, I probably would’ve capped this one at 16 or 18, but decided that after a rest day I should be able to handle 20.

I’ll have to say more about it in a different post; the 30 second story is that it was easy for 12 miles, reasonable for 15, and bearable for 18. I averaged 8:48 / mile and finished a little stiff and with some not insignificant tendonitis pain (sigh…), but remarkably without any new injuries or tweaks. (Also, can I just say that the two trips back up MLK from Ocean Beach to Stanyan are an absolute BITCH. I’m mostly blaming those last few miserable miles on that.)

Grand Total: 55 miles

I’d kind of hoped to peak at 60+ this week, but what can you do when you find yourself daily at the mercy of a six-week-old injury that just hasn’t had time to heal yet? Under the circumstances, I can’t complain. Also, it’s been over a year since I’ve been physically capable of putting up these kinds of numbers at all, so in the grand scheme of things, I REALLY can’t complain.

Finally…I have to admit that I’m more than a little excited to have this last high-mileage week behind me and tapering ahead of me. While the physical break will be nice, I think I need a mental one even more. I’m starting to get into that place where it’s harder and harder to stare down a week of workouts & get out the door, where the training schedule is starting to drive the running more than my enjoyment & desire to do it. That’s nothing new & often happens towards the end of long training cycles for me, but still. Tapering. Big thumbs up right now.

Targeting ~40 miles / week for the next two weeks (counting the half on 11/13), which sounds positively luxurious. :)

Week In Review: Oct 17 - 23
Running ShoesThis is my weekly training journal. Including it in the blog gives me a little extra accountability in the mileage department & helps me stick to my schedule. :)

3 Weeks to Clarksburg Half Marathon

6 Weeks to Cal International Marathon



Double eek!!!

This was not the week I was hoping for, less than a month out from Clarksburg. I had several days where my calf and tendon injuries were bad enough to keep me from running or cut runs short, which means I didn’t come anywhere near close to the mileage I’d planned. I didn’t end the week in a good place physically or emotionally and had to do some serious work to keep myself from wallowing. (Okay, there was a little wallowing. But I did manage to keep it under control.)

Although my 18 miler last Sunday was a strong run, it left me kind of busted (for a lot of reasons). I’d already planned Monday as a rest day & figured I’d play Tuesday Track Day by ear. Happily, Tuesday came and I felt good enough to at least go out to the track and see what my body was capable of.

Tuesday: 10 miles (1.5 wu + 6 x 1600 @ MP minus 10 seconds / mile + 800 recoveries x 5) These were a lot easier than the 3200’s I did last week! In fact, the first four felt nearly effortless. I had to work a little on the fifth to keep up my pace, but more importantly, that was when my stupid left PT tendon started bugging me (and whatever tendon it is that runs behind your knee on the inside, which I clearly tweaked on the 18 miler). The sixth took real (but not obscene) effort, but tendon pain aside, I felt nowhere near as trashed at the end of this session as I did after last Tuesday’s.

Wednesday: 8 miles easy Rest / karate. I woke up Wednesday with a slightly alarming amount of pain in both my left PT tendon and whatever that one is behind my knee. I also woke up with a raging headache & feeling generally crappy. I kept waiting for some/all of these things to resolve but they never did. So I skipped my run & just went to karate instead. Weep. :(

Thursday: 11 miles (2 wu + 9 MP) Rest. I don’t have any physical excuse for not running Thursday; all I can say is that mentally I just couldn’t face it. Even though my legs felt fine after resting Wednesday, all day long the mere thought of running, any amount, filled me with this bizarre feeling of panic & anxiety that I’m not used to associating with running. (Me: Runningz, maybe? Brain: NONONONOOO!!!11!1) I just couldn’t make myself do it, and I felt a HUGE rush of relief once I finally made the decision not to run.

Friday: Rest 11 miles (2 wu + 9 MP). I was determined to get a real MP run in this week since I cut last week’s short. These runs have been BY FAR the toughest ones on my schedule, and the ones causing me the most anxiety re: CIM because they’ve been so hard. I was even more anxious about this one than usual given my bizarre mental state the day before, but after a light dinner and dropping Don off at the airport, I threw on running clothes, filled up my water bottle, and headed out the door before my psyche could get the better of me.

And, um, wow. 9 miles at 7:57 / mile average pace felt positively easy! I mean, yes, it took effort, and I would’ve preferred to run slower, but for the first time, I really had a sense that this was a pace I could maintain for a good, long time. There may still be some hope for a sub-3:30 marathon after all. (Then again, I suppose that is the magic of taking two rest days in a row.) My stupid tendons did start talking to me around the 7th MP mile, so I kind of feel like whether or not I can pull it off on race day may have more to do with injury stuff than with what kind of shape I’m in.

Saturday: 7 miles easy(ish). On Saturday I got up early (WHAT!) and met Courtney at Golden Gate Park for a few recovery miles. This was awesome because a) I had someone to run with and b) I’ve been reading her blog for months now but never met her in person, and it is always cool to meet fellow bloggers. The night before I was all like, “Oh, you know, I just ran 11 miles tonight with 9 of them at marathon pace, so I *ONLY* want to do, like, 10-12 easy miles tomorrow.” (This was kind of going to be the cut-back week “medium-long-ish” run.) Heh; my body clearly had other plans.

I almost never run twice in a twenty-four hour period and Thursday night was a tough run (though good), so when we took off, my legs were kind of like, “Uhhhh…didn’t we just do this?” But whatever. Recovery miles are good for you. The other trouble was that I hadn’t eaten a whole ton after my Thursday run. I knew I needed to, but I just didn’t have an appetite. I did, however, see my way to two mugs of lapsang souchon tea.

Guess who has two thumbs & was still awake at 4:00 am? This moron. (Though, to be fair, I also had a not-insignificant nap Friday afternoon, which probably contributed to the problem.)

I don’t like to eat too much before running in the morning, so I just grabbed a random half of a Clif Bar I happened to have sitting around, washed it down with some apple cider, & headed out. All told, you can see why 2nd run in 12 hours + insufficient eating + insufficient sleep + hot weather = a reasonably tough “easy” 7 miles! Courtney & I ran from the Conservatory of Flowers down to the Great Highway, then back up MLK, cut across to JFK, & then to Stow Lake to meet Alyssa. At this point I was completely out of gas so they ran with me back to my car at the Conservatory, then headed off to do some more miles. Yay running with bloggers!

The only down side to this run was my stupid left PT tendon. It started bugging me about halfway through the run & continued bothering me all the way to the end; after I got home & showered & went to grab food, the pain got worse, and by the time I got back home I was limping. I tried to stay off of it as much as I could Saturday in hopes that it would be in decent enough shape to run on Sunday.

Sunday: 1 mile easy of searing pain. In the morning I went out to the track to do my HMP run. I put on the left air cast to warm up in (they really do help with the tendonitis, at least for a little while, though it’s hard to run fast in them. Since I’ve had my orthotics wearing them doesn’t feel like having my heels in a vice grip anymore, which is quite nice). I only got about a mile before the pain in my right calf and Achilles was too bad to continue. This was when my emotional state began to deteriorate. Jesus, I found myself thinking, if it’s not one damned thing, then it’s another.

But, thankfully, I got to spend the rest of the day eating tasty food, drinking wine, & hanging out with good friends at a bbq elsewhere in the city. Yes, it was hot as balls, but hot as balls + shade + cold wine + floppy hat + not moving = quite lovely, actually.

Grand Total: 29 miles

I wasn’t planning on HUGE miles this week, but I had hoped to at least break 40. C’est la vie. What I’m learning more than anything else this cycle is that there are things I can control and things I can’t (eg, body stuff), & there’s no use beating myself up over the things I can’t. Le sigh.

I was planning for this coming week to be my last really big number week & to get in the 55-60 range, including a long run, one more time before tapering for Clarksburg. After that there will only be three weeks until CIM, so obviously I won’t be running huge mileage weeks then either. With this tendon & calf stuff, I just don’t know if it’s going to happen. I may end up needing too many rest days to do it. We’ll see.

My Current Gear Crushes

Friends, I am loving Pinterest.

After establishing a board for Clothes, Shoes, Food Porn, Dessert Porn, Beverages, Places to Visit, and Full Of Win (oh, and also Worst of Pinterest…someone had to do it), I of course created one called Running Gear. My Running Gear board is full of stuff that I would totally buy tomorrow if I won the lottery, or whatever is the equivalent of winning the lottery for someone who doesn’t play the lottery (mathematician, you know).

What’s currently on my Running Gear board?

roga shortOiselle Running Women’s Roga Short, $44

I am almost universally a compression shorts girl — I have yet to find a pair of loose running shorts that don’t chafe the hell out of my inner thighs. (You’re welcome for that image.) I’m intrigued by the Roga Short, though. The material looks like it’s maybe a little different than most other loose running shorts I’ve seen. Kind of steep (I’d say $25 is usually my limit for running shorts), but hey, we’re talking about a magical world where I’ve won the lottery-equivalent, here.

The Long Roga Short ($47) is also on my board — sometimes more length helps prevent the chafing as well. Again, slightly rich for my blood (my current blood, at least), but a girl can dream. Then again maybe they’re extra-special magical and worth the dough if you’ve got it.

brooks seamless arm warmersBrooks Seamless Arm Warmers, $25

I’m eying these guys for Cal International Marathon in December. Word has it that it’s usually pretty chilly at the start of the race, but in my experience, wearing a long sleeve shirt in a long race is a HORRENDOUS idea unless it’s below freezing. (I ran in one when I was on a ski trip in Whistler & it was 25° F — that was about right.) So arm warmers it is. I love the Brooks gear that I have & these have gotten pretty good reviews, so I’ll probably go with them.

I’m also considering a pair of tech gloves, at least to throw in my bag in case it’s extra-special cold and/or raining. These Nike Lightweight Women’s Running Gloves ($18) are my current pick. I’m open to something cheaper / non-name brand if it is functional & serves the purpose, though my experience with ski gloves & liners suggests that $18 is actually not exorbitantly over-priced for good tech gloves.

hanson-brooks capHanson-Brooks ODP Cap, $20

A good running cap is pretty high up on my list of gear I actually need right now. Currently I have this disgusting Sauza sun visor that I got for free at some Cinco de Mayo event they were sponsoring like seven years ago. It’s been through some untold (and, frankly, disgusting) number of hot, sunny runs and has probably doubled in weight at this point via salt I’ve sweated into it. Though it has more or less served its purpose, it’s pretty gross by now, and not very fashionable, and certainly won’t be much good in cool / rainy weather. Since I’m using their marathon plan, I thought it would be kind of cool to get a sweet Hanson-Brooks cap.

smartwool graduated compression socksSmartWool PhD Graduated Compression Ultra Light Socks, $38

After a lot of reading & talking to my sports docs & PTs, I’m convinced that compression socks don’t actually do anything if you wear them while you’re running (some people swear they’re more comfortable, which is fair, but there is no evidence that they’ve ever made anyone run faster). On the other hand, I’ve come to really love wrapping my lower legs with ace bandages after a hard run, and there IS actually some evidence that wearing them afterward speeds recovery time. I have a bunch of SmartWool ski socks that I love, so I was excited to find out that they have also make graduated compression socks. Maybe one of these days I’ll actually get around to buying a pair.

HaberVision McKenzy Sport Sunglasses, $77.50

habervision mckenzy sunglassesI bought my last pair of sport sunglasses (who am I kidding; my last pair of sunglasses of any kind) at the Rock N Roll San Jose Expo last year. While they’ve held up pretty well (especially for $20, as they were on clearance), they’ve got their share of nicks & scratches, are missing the rubber bit off one of the ear pieces, and are certainly no longer anti-fog. I just learned about HaberVision recently — I don’t know all the details, but supposedly they’re doing fancy-schmancy-quality sunglasses for cheap by doing everything online. Supposedly $77.50 is good for these particular sunglasses (suggested retail = $155, apparently). I don’t know enough about sunglasses to speak with authority on the matter, but they look and sound comfy. And again - lottery-equivalent.

trigger point grid foam rollerTrigger Point “The Grid” Foam Roller, $40

I got my current foam roller for about $15 back before I really knew anything about foam rolling. It is literally a cylinder of blue foam that has slowly collapsed over the years into a kind of Coke bottle-type-shape. As you can imagine, this makes it pretty useless. I’ve heard lots of good things about the “The Grid” model, particularly its rigidity, meaning it retains its shape (and usefulness) for longer. All it would have to do to justify its price tag is outlast three of my old ones, which is probably not hard, as a couple of months was realistically all it was good for.

What about you — any current gear crushes to share?