Monday, April 30, 2012


I'm not even sure where to start, we've been so busy over here. This is typically a busy time of year for us as Kylie has an April Birthday, Sydney has a May Birthday and my Birthday is 4 days after Sydney's (my poor husband). Knowing that things would be hectic crazy, we planned Kylie's Birthday Party a week early at a dance studio where there was minimal prep work for me to do. I even got off super easy by having a former boss make Hello Kitty Cake Pops for the party! Yes, Hello Kitty, they were amazing and super yummy as well!

I just can't get over how awesome these were, and mess free! Check out her website to read her blog and for more details!I seriously wish I was this creative.

After Birthday Party madness it was time for my husband to head to Anaheim for a week of training. Funny how I used to be the one doing all the travel for work and now it's him. He's such a rookie, I had to check him in for his flight because he wasn't even thinking about it. We decided that with a room paid for it would be a great opportunity to take the girl's to Disneyland. We haven't taken a family vacation in long time, probably since I was laid off 3.5 years ago. We decided that we would surprise the girl's and fly down Thursday to join him in Anaheim and hit the park after he got out of class each day.

I didn't tell them until the night before that we were flying to meet him, and we didn't tell them until he got out of class on Thursday afternoon that we were going to Disneyland, they had no idea! It also saved me from having to answer a million and one questions all day, everyday about everything. I have to say they were amazing travelers since this was my first time flying by myself with them.

Three fun filled days at Disneyland wasn't exactly part of the training plan, but I made it all work and brought compression socks to help my tired legs!

Spreading the TriSports love at Disneyland!
We finally made it home Saturday night around 8:30pm to exhausted kids and dogs who were very happy to have us home.

Sunday morning I got up and logged my 10 mile training run. Considering this was a 10 mile run, I can't complain. I wasn't really sure how to handle my workouts this week knowing that 3 days in Disneyland would fry my legs. I ran my 5 miles on Tuesday, 30 minutes of biking on Wednesday and basically counted 3 days at the park as "endurance" training. In the end, this ended up being the best decision for me. I had fairly fresh legs for Sunday's run, I managed to eat well the day before despite travel, I could have hydrated better but it turned out to be a really great run with all things considered. We won't talk about mile 9 that was all uphill and hot and sweaty, 1 mile out of 10 that hurts is awesome in my book!

On to taper week! It's another busy week ahead, just taking one day at a time to be sure I cross off everything on my to-do lists before the big race on Sunday. I can't believe it's actually here!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mid-week Torture

I'm getting smarter, I think. Or my mindset is shifting at least. This week it is was imperative that I embraced the fact that my Tuesday training run was going to suck. The last two races I have done I decided to actually race and and earn PR's. This means, I didn't really treat them like training runs, I pushed myself to achieve goals. And what that means is my body is going to be sore. After 2 horrible post race Tuesday runs, I went into this week's run with the idea that it was going to hurt, I should take it slow and it's a training run. I headed out and promised myself that I would not look at my pace or time because it didn't matter. When my run hurt I felt okay about it, I didn't need to achieve a personal best on my mid-week run. It's interesting how so much of it is a mental game. I came away from Tuesday's run feeling good instead of disappointed. I reviewed all of the data from my run and a light bulb went on! I really do have a race pace and a training pace! In the past I've basically had one pace for everything. I knew that Sunday's race would be a test to see if I am seeing any improvement in my longer miles and it really gave a boost to my confidence to know that, yes, I am seeing improvement! This helped me to not feel down about my slow, easy, kind of hurts Tuesday run.

Come Wednesday I was hoping that my tired and cranky legs would benefit from a bike ride, they did - at least temporarily. I worked on foam rolling last night before I headed out today for another run. Knowing that my legs are still sore and cranky I headed out with the same attitude and just tried to enjoy the day. It's getting warm here in the Bay Area, even though I went out in a tank top and running capri's. I was still hot! Even my feel were hot, this is a reminder as to why I love training in the winter because I just have no heat tolerance at all.

After my run I headed home to hose off and spare my PT the stinky and sweaty mess that I was, I'm sure she appreciates this! She is very interested in the mechanics of my feet and the compensation that is going on as I run. I know what I'm doing everyday, but we're wondering what I'm doing when I actually run. Next time she's going to have me run on the treadmill and observe. After a nice session of ART (is it sick that I really enjoy this? It hurts a little but I can also immediately feel the benefits of it) she decided to reintroduce the stability strength exercises with the TRX. This time we are doing less reps. It's obvious I need to build up strength in certain areas, I was just hoping to reintroduce these after the 1/2. She told me to complete these on non-run days, so that should help with the over-use issue.

That's my week so far. I complete my last swim lesson tomorrow, and have a 60 hour bike and 9 mile run to look forward to this weekend as well as my daughter's birthday party, which thankfully I planned to have outside of the house to spare my sanity.

A few photos from last weekend's start. This is my "my ankles are locked up look!"

Monday, April 16, 2012

Benicia Run for Education 10k

Beautiful morning for a race

I'll try not to bore you with all of my struggles prior to the start of the race. Up every two hours the night before (I guess I hydrated well) then woke up at 5am with stomach issues, got to the race 1.5 hours early and sat in the car wondering what the hell I was doing. I guess I really need to stop with the self doubt crap, as much as running has increased my self esteem and confidence there are still those days where I doubt myself and my abilities.

It was cold in Benicia, okay not freezing temperatures, but due to the distance and do to the fact that there was not a cloud in the sky I decided to run in capri's and a short sleeved as to not overheat. I sat in the car as long as possible to stay warm, but eventually I had to get out to warm up and line up. Most of us were hanging out in the sun pretty far back from the start line and eventually they made us move forward... brr.. it's cold at the start line! I was probably further forward than I wanted to be and I never actually looked behind me to get an idea of how many were running the 10k. I think they said they were expecting over 1100 runners, but the vast majority of those were running or walking the 5k. Before I knew it, we were off. I had warmed up with all of my PT exercises but every once in awhile in a race my ankles lock up, today was not the day for that. The first part of the race is a mild uphill and that combined with tight ankles was pretty painful. A lot of people passed me at this point, as I wondered if I would be the last 10k runner in. I was planning on sticking with my 3:30 run/1 minute walk that I had used at the Oakland Running Festival. The 10k was to have no walkers and no strollers (even though I saw one guy running with a stroller -this didn't bother me since he was running faster than I was, although it may have been an issue on certain parts of the course where we only had the shoulder to run on). All of a sudden I worried that someone might say something to me on my first walk interval, I'm paranoid that way, but no one said anything. Eventually my ankles loosened up and I breathed a sigh of relief knowing that I would indeed survive the the 6.2 miles after all.

I remember hitting the mile marker sign and thinking, wow that first mile went by quick! Because of the intense pain at the start of the race and the overall distance I promised myself that I would not look at my overall pace a great deal. During the 5k I was practically glued to it to ensure that I was hitting my average pace to PR. I knew that I would drive myself crazy if I did that over 6 miles. I checked it occasionally at certain mile markers to ensure I was on pace for a PR and was presently surprised the few times I did check. I knew that I had enough of a lead on time that if I had to slow down once I hit the rollers I should still be able to PR. Once I hit the turn around I still had 1/2 a mile to the aid station so I consumed a gel on my way there and finished one of my bottles of water. With no cloud cover it was warm and I was consuming more water than I normally would have. I was so glad I bought my water, I had thoughts about not bringing it the night before but there was no info on aid stations on the event website so I figured I shouldn't risk it.The nice part about the turn-around was that I actually did get to see how many people were still behind me, and I was indeed not going to be last!

At this point I was leap frogging with a couple. I'm sure I was driving them crazy, but I needed to stick with my plan. I would pass them and then they would pass me during my walk interval. Pretty soon it was obvious that even with my walk intervals, my overall pace was still faster than what they were running. Once he hit the rollers I no longer saw them again. As we crested over the first rolling hill this was my my view :

These would be the 5k walkers that you see in the distance. Strollers, balloons and kids everywhere! Luckily the street is wide enough that I was able to maneuver around the majority of the obstacle course while still traversing the hills. I was able to stick with my intervals and was still really pleased with my overall pace and was getting the sense that I had the ability to make much larger gains on my 10k PR than I had even hoped for. As I approached the last hill I took one unplanned 20 second walk break knowing that the next 1/2 mile would be a sprint to the finish line. I had seen a woman ahead of me for awhile and noticed that I was gaining on her. Pretty soon we were stride for stride. It was obvious we would be racing to the finish. She picked up her a pace a little too early, I let her have it until I was ready to make my move. Ahead of us was a 10k male runner and a family with strollers, balloons etc. The finish chute is pretty narrow in comparison to the course so I spotted an opening to the right side of everyone and blew past all of them into the finish chute. Sorry, lady there was no way I was going to let you have that! She was clearly too tired to match my pace (and I think not expecting me to blow past her) I crossed the finish line at a 6:22 pace.

I PR'd by 4 minutes and 46 seconds and I ran the course long. I did my best to try and run it as accurately as I could but once we encountered the 5k runners it just wasn't possible to stick to a line. I wonder how long one can actually stare at their run data before getting tired of it. Based on my personal time (not official time) and because I ran the course long, my numbers show that I took close to 1 minute off of my overall 10k pace. Freaking amazing, and based on that overall pace time I'm super excited to work on my 5k time later this year.

My overall goal for this race was to come in around 1:07, hoping for  a two minute PR. Despite my self doubt and concern that I wasn't seeing improvements in my longer runs, I've now realized that I am improving. All of my hill running over the past 7 months has helped me a great deal. I took those rolling hills on in such a stronger fashion than I did two years ago. It's really awesome to see the improved strength that I have built, and I have to remember to have faith in myself and my body.

Official Time: 1:04:37 (6.26 mi)
14/27 AG (30-39)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Not freaking out

I'm sure some of my friends are wondering if I'm freaking out because it's Friday before a Sunday race for me. Surprisingly, I am way more calm than I was before the ORF 5k. Yes, I still want to PR, and yes I'm still going to try but I'm not putting as much pressure on myself as I did last time around.

Anything over 5 miles is sort of an unknown for me at this point, I've seen much success in the last 6 months on increasing speed on my shorter runs, but as I compare my longer runs it doesn't seem that I'm really getting any faster than the last time around. Although it's difficult to really analyze this as last time around I didn't have a Garmin, and last time I did everything in my power to avoid hills on my runs, or more specifically the dreaded uphill last 3/4 of a mile to my front door. I would plan my mileage to complete my run earlier and walk up the hill as my cool down from my run. Really, the only way I'm going to know if I have seen any improvement is in my race times.

You may remember my last 10k race (only my second ever 10k distance) was a sufferfest. With pavement, trail, single track and a ginormous hill, I realized that maybe it wasn't the best course to try and PR on. Although I squeaked one out, I think it was by sheer luck (or perhaps the ginormous hill on the way back which was all of a sudden a nice downhill helped to make-up lost time). I really have no idea what I am in for on Sunday as the event site has no elevation listings for the course. I did this event 2 years ago but ran the 5k course. Which I fondly remember as having an endless amount of rollers at the end. So I'm certain this is not going to be a flat course and I'm sure that I'm going to have to face rollers again only on a longer course. Will it be a sufferfest like my last 10k? I sure hope not, my main objective is to go out and have fun, so hopefully that will keep me on track!

In other happenings, I've realized that it is a good thing I don't have any big races over the summer. I left the summer mostly open in order to spend time working on my swim to prepare for next year. And of course there is the whole "my kids are out of school all summer long" thing. I keep thinking about how this is going to impact my training. I guess I'll be at the gym a lot this summer and riding the trainer a lot!

Sydney is going to swim on swim team for the first time ever. We didn't do it last year because Kylie was still napping at this time last year and I couldn't swing swim practice every day for Sydney with a toddler that was still napping. To be honest, we have both been really nervous about venturing into the world of swim team. Having both grown up here we know how competitive swim team is. It takes over the entire city and when the region meet arrives in August not only do people decorate their cars, but you will find SUV's with wood shark fins attached to the roof, or waves, or whatever else people come up with to show their team spirit. As a non-swim team family, we have found it annoying to not be able to use the pool around meet's and not be able to park at our gym around OMPA weekend. With all of this in mind we were apprehensive about signing Sydney up, but I'm big on letting her try things to figure out what she loves and what she wants to do. When I asked her if she wanted to do swim team, she was all over it! That's my girl, she is highly competitive and loves the water so I guess there was really no doubt that she would want to do it.If you can't beat them, join them?!

Having not participated in our club team previously I really have no idea what level of swimming she should be at. From last year I know that she is like her Dad, and loves to just glide under the water but isn't very efficient at breathing or any stroke. Since Kylie was going to be taking swim lessons, I signed Sydney up as well. Early season practice starts the end of this month, so it seemed to make sense to have the girls start this month and get a hard start on our pool opening and pre-season practice.

This girl jumped in the pool and blew me away. Kids have a tendency to forget things after being out of the water all winter. Sydney was like a regular mermaid out there, clearly not having forgotten anything from last summer. She didn't actually take any sessions last year because of a snafu with scheduling. So the last time she has had any swim lessons she was 4, turning 5. Her instructor started her out with some big arm work and much to my surprise, here is my kid doing freestyle! I was utterly blown away. I'm watching her pay close attention to her instructor and doing everything exactly as she is asked. It made me so proud and reminded me a little bit of myself and how hard I'm working with trying to implement what my swim instructor is asking me to do. She and I spent some time talking about swim team and what it would mean. I had explained to her that it wasn't going to be all fun, that it would be like running club, that she would have to work really hard and some days she would be tired, but that in the end the reward would be great! Apparently, she was actually listening to me!

Doing drills
At the end of the session she was moved up a level in her ability. Since then they have worked on diving off of the pool deck (another skill that she picked up right away) and back stroke. Her instructor told me this week that she thinks back stroke is going to be a really strong stroke for her.

I hope her enthusiasm hold all summer long, we will certainly support her 100% if she really loves swimming. In the meantime I will apparently be a "Swim Team Mom"... we all know how I struggle with this type of stuff! I've tried to plan my volunteer commitments for the afternoon so I can still get my own workouts completed in the mornings. Just a warning that if you don't hear from me all summer long it's because I'm at the pool!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Highs and Lows

I've tried to sit down and write a blog post several times in t e past week but just struggled with what to say. After my 5k PR the high wore off quickly when I had several terrible training runs. Lots of leg pain that plagues me even just laying in bed at night and was preventing me from running the way I wanted to run and just bringing my overall mood down.

After some significant increases in pain and now having pain in both legs the PT has backed off the strength training and we are just now focusing on ART and stretches. What I have discovered is that my arches are collapsing (even more so than in 2010 when I first realized it and got arch supports for my running shoes). With my arches struggling my tibial tendon is working overtime and this is what is causing a great deal of my pain. With the additional collapse it became apparent that I also needed to go up another 1/2 size in my running shoes. Seriously, I just cycles these shoes in and I have to go buy yet another pair! Another thing that I noticed on my rest day (Friday) is that I spend a lot of time barefoot at home and I was in serious pain on rest day which was really bringing me down. I had to run 8 miles on Saturday and it was not going to go well if I was in pain on a rest day! What I caught myself doing while barefoot was walking on the outer edge of my feet, like I as trying to simulate my old higher arches. I have no idea why I'm doing this, it doesn't hurt to walk flat footed, but for some reason this is what I'm doing while I'm barefoot. I've been trying to correct this and trying to wear shoes more often to also help. Now that I have noticed it I'm able to correct it and feeling less strain on those tendons.

Saturday's run was not the amazingly beautiful run I had hoped for, but it was better than some of the recent runs I have had. I have been given a list of stretches to do before and after my run. Sadly I was in such a hurry to get my 8 miles in on Saturday to recover and make my swim lesson that I totally forget to do them before my run. This would probably explain why the first 2 miles of my run really sucked. It was so bad and my mental state was so fragile that at just past the mile marker when a car nearly ran me over, I actually had to fight back tears. I tried to pull myself together knowing that if I was going to cry at mile 1 the next 7 would be a total sob fest.

It was somewhere around mile 3 that I realized I wasn't feeling pain in my legs. I rejoiced and wondered how long that would actually last. I hit my turn around and felt relieved to be headed back, even if that meant there were still 4 more miles to go. I stopped at the park to refill my water bottles, it was a sunny and warm morning so I had actually gone through both bottles already. With two miles left to go I braced for the headwind and the last 3/4 of a mile that would be all uphill. At this point I was feeling fatigued and some leg pain had returned. As I waited at the light to head up my street I saw another runner heading towards me and recognized a friend whose daughter goes to school with Sydney. We chatted really quickly before I lost the opportunity to cross the street. That put a little extra spring in my step, I guess for some reason it makes you feel less lonely out there.

As I made my way up my street I began to seriously rethink having the last bit of my long runs all uphill, it really sucks the life out of you. With about .30 miles to go I saw our neighbors drive down the street who gave me a hearty cheer as they drove past, that was the last bit of motivation I needed to get me to mile 8.

I made sure to do all of my stretching in the driveway so the family wouldn't distract me from it once I got inside. I have to say, the new stretches felt really good and seemed to really make a difference. I was a good girl and took an ice bath and recovered with my ZICO Chocolate Coconut Water.

After a quick recovery I headed off to my swim lesson. I was hoping he would take it easy on me when I told him I had run 8 miles before coming over. I guess in his mind only 2 laps with the kick board was going easy on me. I'm finally starting to pull all of the things together when it comes to my stroke. ART has helped to keep my ankles not so tight, and I'm staring to really get the arm positioning. H was very pleased with my last few laps even though I was so fatigued I worked hard to try and pull it all together. I'm super glad that I decided to take lessons and that I have all summer to work on my stroke and improve my efficiency.

I only have one more lesson and I must say, I will be bummed to no longer have the hot tub and nice locker room post swim. On the bright side my pool opens up on Sunday so I will no longer have to pay for lap swim at the High School!

Next up is the Benicia Run for Education 10k!