Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Race Day Photos

Of course the photo where I was actually smiling in the finish shoot was blurry, still trying to perfect that race day shot!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Oakland Running Festival 5k

I'm going to try and compose this post thoughtfully, as I'm still on a runner's high over here. Yes, that's why we do it, for the endorphins and natural high that comes with running, not to be confused with "Oh my god, I might puke feeling as you cross the finish line".

This race was a big deal for me. Earlier this week I started thinking about what I wanted to do. My original plan was that this would be a training race, meaning that I would not be attempting a PR. Since I have been nursing an injury and running intervals while increasing my weekly mileage to try and stay injury free, I actually didn't think a PR would even be possible. I also thought that there would be plenty of time in the season to get that 5k PR. I started rethinking this plan when Tuesday's run turned out to be my fastest 4 mile ever. Thursday rolled around and I shaved another 37 seconds off that 4 mile run, and I swear I wasn't trying. After some discussion with Molly and my husband, they convinced me to go for it!

Fast forward to Saturday, holy shit was my stomach a ball of nerves all day. This was ridiculous, I wasn't even this nervous before my first 1/2 Marathon. The difference was I had a goal, and I had to find a way to achieve that goal. Every other race that I have done has been a "just cross the finish line" goal, and if I happen to see that I'm close to a PR, I push it at the end. I spent all day Saturday reviewing my previous pace times and doing the math to figure out where I needed to be to PR today, This is all fine and good, but what I struggled with was how to execute it. Do I just maintain an average pace for the entire distance to PR or do I continue with my run/walk intervals. I've been really successful with the interval approach and planing that walk rest allows me to run much faster during the run intervals then if I just ran the whole distance at a slower pace. Running with intervals would be much trickier because I would need to compensate for those walk intervals. I spent way too much time thinking about all of this yesterday to the point that I couldn't even eat lunch. Finally in the late afternoon I was able to just put it aside and eventually eat my pre-race meal.

I woke up this morning feeling good, it was just simply a matter of getting it done. I arrived in Oakland shortly after 6:30am and found a parking spot on the street. I have to take a moment and give accolades to the folks at the Oakland Running Festival this was an extremely well organized event. There was a huge amount of communication prior to race day, a race booklet that was sent out that detailed every little piece if information you might need. It was really a seamless process with no surprises.  We all know how much I love a well planed event, and I also know how difficult it is to pull one off at that level. The great part about running the 5k, was that I got to see the Marathon start before my run and the 1/2 start after I was done. It was really smart to stagger the race stars the way they did. In case you are interested there were about 1900 Marathoner's, 1400 5k runners and 4000 1/2 Marathoner's. That's a whole of folks running.

I was so excited to run into a former co-worker Curtissa and her running buddy Mary. They've been doing a lot of running and have been hitting up a lot of the local races, so it was fun to say hi before we headed out. I lined up at the 10 min/mile pace sign. A woman next to me said "Is this you first race?" then she glimpsed me fiddling with my Garmin and said "Oh, you have a watch!" I'm kind of giggling over this, I guess having a Garmin makes me serious, I told her it wasn't my first race that I was training for a 1/2 Marathon and this was part of my training. She wished me luck and headed off to line up next to someone who wasn't so serious, I guess. Before I knew it we were off and I had a lot of people to pass. For a moment I really thought I'm never going to PR if I can't get through this crowd. As I passed a bunch of folks walking I overheard a woman say to her friend "I didn't know this was a run, I thought it was a walk!", I found this hilarious and if I wasn't focused on being so serious I would have laughed out loud.

I was pleased that after we made our first turn the crowd opened up and I was able to run at a more acceptable pace. I was passing lots of folks which felt great, but I also knew I would get passed when I hit my first walk interval. There was a lot of leapfrog going on the first mile which I'm sure people thought was weird, but I had an overall goal, and this is what I needed to do to accomplish that goal. Shortly after we passed the 1 mile marker, we passed the 2 mile marker. Um, not sure who's 2 mile marker that was but it was most certainly not ours, good thing I was serious and had that Garmin on. As we came through the aide station it was not my intention to take water, but I was on a walk interval and decided, why not. I was feeling like I had maybe come out of the gate too fast and I knew I had to dial it back a little to be sure I didn't crash and burn before the finish line. Watching my average pace time I knew I was going to be okay with my interval strategy. The problem was that I didn't just want to PR by a few seconds, I really wanted it to count. As we rounded the corner I realized we were really close to the finish line which meant I wouldn't be taking my last walk interval, I would be digging deep to get it done. That's when I saw the hill, really? The entire course has been flat and when you're ready to sprint into the finish you give us a hill. I only logged 35 feet of elevation gain and I'm pretty sure it was all that hill. I fully expected that I might feel the need to puke at the finish line today, I did not expect to feel the need to puke .15 miles from the finish line, let's just say I tacked that hill at a low 9 minute pace, that hill was not going to ruin my day. I used what was left to sprint to the finish line with a time of 31:26 - a 30 second 5k PR.

I made my way through the food area in a fog, I had a reflective blanket, a bottle of water, consumed a banana and grabbed a granola bar. As I exited the food area I saw the massage tent, um yeah, I'm all over that. I was still in a bit of fog when I reached the massage table, but Christi was great and made sure I stayed alert while she worked my muscles. The other great surprise was champagne! We had beer tickets attached to our bibs, and I have no interest in beer, but a Mimosa, I'm all over that! I'm not picky, I'll drink one out of a paper cup.

I don't think it really hit until I got home and uploaded my data what a great race it was. My average pace was 10:02, so close to sub 10 minutes. All of my run splits were sub 10 minutes even a couple of sub 9 minute splits. I feel really great about today's effort, because I know that I gave it everything I had and didn't leave anything out on that course.

Hoping to have some photos soon, but I know some of you were anxious for the details. I've met 1/2 of my 2012 goals, it's shaping up to be a great year!

Many thanks to for supporting me this race season! 

25/91 AG
194/736 Women
411/1113 Overall

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Week 5

Sometimes I feel like I'm doing so much that I forget that my real focus here is 1/2 Marathon Training. For my first 1/2 Marathon it was all about surviving the weekly running. While I always did my cross-training, my cross-training was spent sitting on the recumbent bike at the gym reading. Don't knock it, I get a lot of reading in this way! This time around I've added swimming and real biking. Let's just say I'm always tired and I appear to always be sore somewhere! This is good for me, at least this is what I keep telling myself. I'm increasing my overall fitness and preparing for future races. But as I sat on the trainer yesterday for a 40 minute spin and my shoulders ached I really missed the recumbent bike and my book.

This week we finally saw winter in Northern California. Which means almost all of my workouts were in the rain. Tuesday's 4 mile was in the rain and the return trip meant headwind and rain, I'm so lucky! Wednesday is only 30 minutes of cross training so lets just say I got my reading in. Thursday was another 4 miler in which I experienced the same as Tuesday, but this time I stopped to take a photo of the new waterfall along the path.

Just for kicks I decided to to do a double work-out Thursday and swim also. I actually really want to get one swim in per week in addition to my lessons so that I have a chance to work on things before I meet with my coach again. Sadly, the only day to really get it done is on a run day. But swimming makes you forget about your leg pain and think about shoulder pain, so that's good. I'm doing lap swim at the Soda Aquatic Center until my pool opens next month. This is a ginormous pool, this photo doesn't do it justice, I should take a panoramic photo as this represents about a third of the pool.

So yes, I swam in the rain on Thursday as well and then again on Friday during my swim lesson. The good news is that the my coach says he saw huge improvement from last week. Of course, I am paying him, but I'll take a compliment where I can get it. Just when it all starts to make sense he throws me something new to work on and it all goes to shit. That's okay, now I have something to work on in the pool this week.

After a girl's night out "meeting" on Friday, I came home to find my Felt set-up on the trainer ( I <3 my husband). With more rain on Saturday I was planning to ride inside and test out my new Garmin cadence/speed sensor. After the hubby set it up for me it synched nicely with my 610 and I know have accurate bike data for when I use the trainer.

Finally, it's Sunday which means long run day! I taped up my legs (all this extra sport is causing my leg to hurt again) threw on compression socks as well and headed out for my 6 mile run. I've been trying hard to focus on just getting the miles in and not worry about pace. I should be taking it easy and if I don't watch my pace I have a tendency to  run too fast and burn out. Since I'm still running with intervals it was important for me to be able to run all of my run interval and not need to walk during them because I was going too fast. I did really well this today and while I was at first disappointed with my overall time, I realized that I had made a plan to run slower and I did.

I cleaned up and put on my compression tights and headed out. What I've discovered is that I do so much better if I can get out and do something to recover rather than just sit at home. I think the walking around helps my muscles recover better. Of course, that usually involves shopping and I may be in trouble for all of the things that I really NEEDED today, but my legs feel good so far, so mission accomplished.

Week 5 Totals:

Swim: 1029 Yards (I'm swimming in 2 different sized pools - not drowning mid lap)
Bike: 16.90 miles
Run: 14 miles

It's race week next week and I'll be running the Oakland Running Festival 5k.

Monday, March 12, 2012

How to do hundreds of squats

It was an early morning when I woke up at 4:15am on Sunday, especially with Spring Forward. Convincing my body to eat breakfast at that time was fairly interesting. As planned, I was out the door and on my way to Morgan Hill to volunteer at the South Bay Du before 5am. It felt like a scene out of the Walking Dead as I didn't encounter another vehicle on the road until I hit 680 and I felt confident that there had been no Zombie Apocalypse over night. I arrived at the High School around 6am, they still weren't quite ready to receive athletes, let alone a volunteer, so I headed out to get my run done. With my head lamp on I headed out in the dark to run the 5k loop. It is definitely weird to be out running this early in the morning, in the dark in a place you are unfamiliar with. Lucky for me the first half of the 5k course was marked. after that it was up to me to figure out the way back (thankfully it was a loop). As I completed the 5k loop, I stopped off at my car to drop off my jacket, grab a swig of water and consume a Gu, just in case. It had been over 2 hours since breakfast. I then headed out on the 2 mile loop. With about 1 mile to go the sun started to come up and I was able to turn off my light. Pleased to be done and pleased to have had a faster run than last weekend (even with stopping to upright course cones that had fallen over) I headed back to attempt volunteer check-in again.

There really was not a volunteer check-in I was told to go stand by the baby pools filled with ice and wait for the race director. I gave up on that idea after about 5 minutes and went to find Molly. One of the reasons I picked this race to volunteer at was because it was a Du and I figured it would be good for me to watch athletes in transition to get an idea of what to expect in my first Du in May. I also picked it because Molly was racing, if you're going to volunteer at a race, it's much more fun to volunteer at one that your friends are participating in. I also got to see and meet many more friends.

I chose to volunteer at the finish line because I knew I would have plenty of time to get my run in as well as see everyone finish! The spots available were chip removal, handing out water or handing out towels. I really wanted to hand out water because I know that chip removal can be a very dangerous task. Leaning down in front of an athlete right after they cross the finish line is tricky in the event that anyone pukes. And I have seen my fair share of people puking at the finish line. When I heard the first International Athlete was about 5 minutes from the finish line, I headed over to get ready. There was not one other volunteer there. I thought to myself, I'm so getting stuck with chip removal. I spotted the race director and told him I was there to volunteer and he gave me a huge hug, he said he was just about to go try and find people to work the finish line. So yes, I did chip removal. When the winner of the International Distance came in I shook his hand and said congratulations, he had that post race deer in the headlights look and asked me "Did I win?" You sure did! The rest of the morning was fun cheering people in across the finish line and I never did get puked on. The only thing I was not prepared for is that for every athlete you remove a chip from is a squat. I'm not sure how many chips I removed, I filled 4 or 5 buckets with chip timers but I can tell you that I can barely walk this morning and I'm pretty certain I have never done that many squats in my entire life.

I highly recommend volunteering at your local race, if you aren't racing on a particular weekend, the next best thing is to volunteer at one. For my efforts I was rewarded with a goody bag, shirt, food and a discount on a future race. If anything, volunteering at a race typically gets you a discounted entry on a race and helps keep the cost of your racing season down. I promise, the reward of helping other athletes on their race day will be the largest reward of all. 

Thanks to for supporting me, I proudly wore my hat to represent as a TriSports Champion at yesterday's event.

Phew, it's been a big week for me and here are the totals:

Swim: 612 yards
Bike: 16.57 miles
Run: 12 miles

Saturday, March 10, 2012

2 days of Swim, Bike

How do you people do this? I'm sitting here feeling exhausted and thinking tomorrow is a rest day because I've already logged 2 big workouts (big for me folks), but I still have to run tomorrow!

I'll start with yesterday and my intro to freestyle swimming. I need to stop saying "swimming lessons" because I sound like I'm 5. I guess I should say I'm working with my trainer or my coach or something that sounds more adult, since I do indeed know how to swim I just don't know how to do it without looking like a fool. My coach was incredibly kind and I got a rest to discuss technique and my form after every length of the pool lap. Trust me, I needed it to catch my breath. So far his advice has been great and makes total sense, and is precisely what I was looking for. Swimming involves a huge amount of multitasking, which I like to think I'm good at, but I find it difficult to apply in the pool. Once I got the breathing rhythm down I needed to focus on my hips, then pushing my chest down, then bringing my elbows higher. I was doing my best to pull it all together and had a few laps that felt really good! Then he pulled out this toy...

I told him he would need to demonstrate the use of this strange object to me. Wait, you don't want me to kick? Okay, I'll give it a go. I can see how this was really helpful in keeping my hips up and making me focus on the stroke, but let's just say after several laps of using this little apparatus I started to fatigue. I was relieved when he handed me a kick board so that he could observe my kick. Um, hello, I think I'm swimming in place! After a few tips, I was motoring down the lane of the pool at a faster speed. Just when I thought I was going to have to demonstrate my foot cramp release technique from SCUBA he wanted to watch me pull it all together. Let's just say that being fatigued in the pool equates to me being lucky to not drown myself in my effort to pull it all together. As my tired arms can barely reach out of the water I start to loose focus on my breathing, oops. "How'd that feel?" I wanted to say like a cluster fuck, but I left the profanity off, this was our first meeting after all.

Even though I could barely lift my arms last night and my shoulders and abs were so sore this morning I walked away feeling really good. If I can work on all of this stuff, I will hopefully be starting off on the right foot and won't embarrass myself at  lap swim.

Lucky for me, last night was date night! I indulged with the following:

Pink Metro Martini

Gelato Sundae

Yes, there was also an amazing past dish in between the two as well as a salad!

This morning we had planned on a bike ride I need to get more time on the new bike and lots more practice with the clipless pedals. Scott kept looking at me thinking I didn't want to go because I was still sore, but I had really been looking forward to a ride with no kids! (Although, let's be honest, Kylie rides her trike faster than I ride my bike). I took some Advil and sucked it up. I was nervous about getting out of our driveway and immediately heading downhill, but somehow I made it. The plan was to ride out the Lafayette-Moraga Trail (my usual run route) and on the return stop and grab some breakfast before heading home. I only had 40 minutes of cross training on the calendar but based on how slow I am and the fact that I'm just trying to get comfortable on my bike, I went well over that. I did reward myself again with some Cheese Blintzes and fresh fruit for breakfast, sorry no photos of that. As we all know running up my 1 mile long street has been a long term goal of mine, let's just say for a new cyclist getting up it on a bike is also tough. I'm thankful for that very last gear on my bike because I used it today! I was pretty sure I could make it to our driveway but given the amount of vehicles in our driveway my best guess was that I would fall in the street in front of the driveway or crash into a car. Since neither of those seemed like great options, I rode to the court below our house and dismounted and walked the short distance to our driveway. Which meant I didn't fall today! There was maybe one less than graceful dismount, but I didn't fall! Pretty good for my second time out.

I'm spending the evening hydrating and resting for tomorrow's big day of a long run and volunteering.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

New Multi-Sport

I have decided that it should be swim-bike-run-laundry. Can we consider laundry a sport? It feels like a sport over here. Just when I thought I had everything I needed to support my running habit with only one load of laundry a week of said running clothes, I decided to take up swimming and biking as well, what was I thinking?

A quick inventory shows one pair of cycling shorts, one pair of cycling tights and one jersey. Jerseys aren't a really huge deal at this point as I have plenty of technical shirts that I can ride in and I'm not riding super long distances yet so I'm not carrying very much on the bike.

As far as swimming I have one lap swim appropriate suit and lots of towels so I should be okay in the category. But really, how do serious athletes contend with the mounds of laundry, not to mention I have a husband and two girls. And by girls I mean, two girls who change their clothes several times a day! I should by stock in ALL.

While I'm doing a load of laundry I'd like to take the opportunity to brag about the kick-ass run I had today. My last three runs have been slog fests. On top of rain and wind my legs have been the equivalent of tree stumps lately. Particularly on Tuesday's run I experienced significant calf pain. I felt so disappointed after this run,  the first part of 1/2 marathon training is not supposed to be this painful, at least it wasn't in 2010. I realize I'm trying to heal an injury and increasing mileage, but really? Essentially my legs have been acting like it was time to swap in new shoes. But this can't be right. I started wearing these shoes in November and if I track my mileage on them, I'm at maybe 150 miles. If I go by the average miles run I should have more life left in these, but my body is telling me it's done with this pair. So today I donned my new Hurricane's that I bought about a month ago. Hmm, I had a kick-ass run. No significant leg pain and it was nearly 3 minutes faster than Tuesday's slog fest. It's difficult to believe that I need to replace my shoes that often but that seemed to do the trick. Let's be honest, I need all of the motivation and happy runs I can get, so I guess if that means replacing my shoes every 3 months, I guess that's what I need to do. Shh, don't tell my husband, my hobbies are getting really expensive!

Tomorrow is a rest day, yay! But wait, I'm starting my first swim training session. I'll be meeting with a coach on Friday's for the next 4 weeks to hopefully learn how to swim freestyle and actually breathe while I do it. So much for rest day. Saturday should be a hopefully nice easy bike ride. My lovely husband suggested 26 miles and I politely told him I only needed 40 minutes of cross training for the day and I'm sorry if that won't be a really nice workout for him. Sunday will be another nice challenging day. I will be volunteering at the South Bay Duathlon. I'm hoping to get there early so I can run the course and get my 5 miles training run out of the way before I report for Finish Line duties. Did I mention the time change this weekend? I'll need to leave my house at about 4:45am which will feel like 3:45am. Did I mention my husband thinks I'm crazy? It serves many purposes; 1. I get to see Molly race. 2. I get to observe a multi-sport event and gather ideas for myself. 3. As a Champion I get to wear my cool gear and spread the word! 4. I'll enjoy some different scenery on my training run. 5. I get to use my head lamp again.

While I'm at it, if you're like me and in need of more athletic apparel, because let's be honest, we all NEED more athletic apparel. Today and tomorrow X2U clothing and wetsuits are up to 50% off at TriSports. Check it out, there is some amazing pricing on this stuff.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A good week

Some days the universe really tempts you when it comes to getting it all in. Someone is always giving you the opportunity to bail on your workout because something came up. When I'm training I've learned that the "something" had to be pretty major to derail me from my plan. So on Tuesday when we woke up with a six year old I knew I was not going to be able to get my run in. I sent my husband an email to warn him that he moment he got home I would be headed to the gym to get my 3.5 mile run in. Thank goodness for a gym! Even though I'm not a big fan of doing my runs on the treadmill or doing them at night, it was the only way to get it done.

On Wednesday I woke up with a terrible sinus headache and knew there was no way that I wanted to head to the gym for my cross-training. I dropped Sydney off at school and Kylie and I came back home so that I could rest for a little bit. Once I felt better I got on my bike shorts and set up the trainer and bike in the family room. Two minutes in, the phone rings and it's Sydney's school that she's in the office and wants to come home. Okay, no big deal, I can still get this done later. Once we got home and I got both girls settled on the couch with a movie, I climbed back on the bike and got my cross-training done for the day.

Then comes Thursday. Pouring rain Thursday. I know, I always talk about how I would rather run in the rain than the heat. This is totally accurate but Thursday morning I was so not feeling it. Enough of my friends convinced me to hit the trail, that I did. As I pulled into the parking lot of the park, I looked around and realized I was the only person here. I'm not sure what I expected but I can say that even on the weekends in the rain, I encounter at least a few other people on the trail. I all of a sudden felt very lonely. Giving up is just not an option, so I got out and stood in the pouring rain while my Garmin tried to find a satellite, after what seemed like forever, I was off. I kept with my 3 run 1 rest intervals, feeling like an idiot for the 1 minute of walking in the rain, because while running in the rain makes you feel like a bad-ass, walking in it makes you feel like an idiot. The way out wasn't too bad but at he turn around I realized I was now running into a headwind. Good thing I took my glasses off in the car as the rain was hitting me directly int he face. It always amazes me to watch the rain drip off the end of my hat, I must be pretty saturated for that to happen. I slogged through it and when I got back to the park since I was already wet I decided to be even  more of a bad-ass and stretch in the rain, I mean once you are soaked you might as well properly stretch, right? I was totally in no way showboating for the couple sitting in their car in the parking lot.

I end the week with a 5 mile run in the gorgeous California weather that is going to disappear starting tomorrow. I stuck with my 3/1 intervals as I nurse my leg back and while it wasn't the speediest run, I logged the miles and made no excuses.

Some weeks just don't go as planned but making adjustments and getting it done is what builds my confidence.

Run: 16.01 miles
Bike: 8.51 miles

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The adventures just keep coming

As I begin to explore the world of multi-sport events I knew that I would tire quickly of my very heavy mountain bike. I have never been interested in getting a road bike because it involves so much and is really a different type of riding. My husband loves to bike whether it's road or mountain, so when I started suggesting that it might be time for a road bike he was very supportive. I cam across Felt Bikes and decided I wanted to check these out. I didn't want a full carbon bike as I just didn't really find it necessary to spend that type of money at this point. Since I'm just exploring the idea of multi-sport events I felt I would do just fine with an aluminum bike. Felt makes some great bikes that are have an aluminum frame but use carbon for the seat stays and fork, which seemed like an interesting idea for me.

Of course being 5'2 and finding bike's in a specific brand to test ride is difficult. I stopped by Sports Basement because I knew they carried Felt and I had an item to exchange anyway. I was so disappointed to see that they had nothing in my size to even demo. I was really bummed because I had been looking forward all week to spending my rest day bike shopping! I remembered that there was a bike store that recently moved from Pleasant Hill to Lafayette and that they carried Felt as well, so I figured I would go check it out.

As soon as I walked into Traction Bikes I was warmly greeted and asked if I needed help. Which was great, because really, I have no idea what I am doing. I told them that I was interested in trying out some Felt Aluminum road bikes. Score, they had one in my size! It's actually an '09 ZW30. I nervously took the bike out. This was my first time ever on a road bike, so I waled it over to place that felt safe and less congested for vehicular traffic and hopped on. I did a lot of pulling in and out of empty driveways trying to get familiar with set-up the bike. Once I as comfortable I road it through some of the back roads of Lafayette and even found a nice hill to climb up and back down into the city. I was amazed at how comfortable the seat was and it just rode really nicely. To have something to compare it to I took at a Bianchi that was all aluminum. The minute I got on it, I  could tell it wasn't as comfortable. I road it through the same areas and just didn't feel as nice on it. I brought it back to the shop asked some questions about pedals and shoes etc. and went home to talk to the hubby about it. He was super supportive and that evening the entire family went back to look at it and agreed that it seemed like a great bike for me.

I went in this morning for my bike fit and intro to clip-less pedals! I had already made the decision that if I got the road bike I was going straight to clip-less pedals, there was no other way for me to learn. After picking out shoes and pedals and testing it out on the trainer we ended up raising the seat ever so slightly and I was good to go. Ack!

Leaving the Bike Shop

Ready to go!
My mother-in-law had taken the girls to see a morning play, so we didn't have much time for a ride but I needed to at least get out and practice clipping in and out. We headed to the Lafayette-Moraga Trail off of Olympic where I would have lots flat space and apparently lots of stop signs where I was made to unclip at each one for practice. I fell 1.5 times, not like hit the ground but tipped the bike and managed to unclip the second foot before totally hitting the ground. All in all, it was pretty successful and while it was only a 3 mile ride, I'm tired from just all of the effort of practicing with the new pedals. Today was a good confidence builder, I'll tip, it's okay I won't die and there was no blood shed, so that was helpful. My lower back is already sore, I guess riding the recumbent bike at the gym hasn't been too helpful to prep me for "real" riding.

Post Ride

Up next, swim lessons next week! I think I'm going to be feeling all new levels of soreness!