Thursday, September 22, 2016

Book Review: "Run Fast Eat Slow"

Like many other runners I know (particularly those who are obsessed with food), I recently caved & purchased Shalane Flanagan's new cookbook, Run Fast Eat Slow, co-authored with her former cross-country teammate & now professional chef, Elyse Kopecky.


I have a whole other post sitting in the drafts about how my eating/cooking habits have changed in the last three months, but long story short I've gone from eating out/getting takeout 5-7 nights a week & almost never cooking to cooking (or eating leftovers) most nights, eating out maybe once a week, & getting takeout only when the cooking is truly unfeasible.

Things I have cooked in my actual kitchen this summer:


Homemade chili verde pork with heirloom tomatoes, red cabbage, avocado, & cilantro


Grilled tuna with piperinata & tapenade


Chicken & sausage jambalaya


Grilled salmon with a soy-ginger glaze

I've really enjoyed going back to regular cooking from scratch and it's made a huge difference in my quality of life lately. There are a lot of days in the week, though, so now I'm always on the lookout for tasty, healthy recipes to try. Run Fast Eat Slow, then, was kind of a no-brainer.

It isn't really fair to call this post a book review since I've only skimmed most of it, selecting a few of the recipes to read word-for-word and only actually made maybe 3-4 so far. However, the ones I have tried have been fantastic, so I felt inspired to put a little plug out there.

First, I am obsessed with this kale & quinoa recovery salad. We try to have a salad with dinner every night as much as possible, but a lot of times that means I end up making the same old basic thing over and over again & I was interested to try something new.

And OMG, I was not disappointed. Seriously, I think I could eat this salad every night of my life. Basically it's kale, quinoa, red bells, red onion, jalapeno, black beans, cilantro, green olives, feta (or cotija) cheese, avocado, EVOO, & lime juice. It's practically a meal all on its own! Now, it is not a quick salad as there is quite a lot of chopping involved, but the first time I made it I did all the chopping on the weekend & then quickly assembled it the next night.


Pre-chopped veggies


Bad light in our kitchen...Sorry. :(

We did not love the prescribed quinoa-to-veggies ratio & probably only included about half the quinoa, but the nice thing is that you can adjust that to taste. Also if I'm having it as a side with something else that's already got plenty of carbs, I just skip the quinoa altogether & it's still absolutely delicious.


Literally eating this as I type.

Our other favorite is the "Marathon Lasagna," which is like most other lasagna recipes except it swaps the usual ground beef or sausage for ground turkey and adds in egg, sweet potatoes, and spinach. So good! A lot of times I don't love ground turkey because it comes across as sweet to me, but the seasoning you do with it beforehand makes a big difference. Don was also a big fan & encouraged me to make it more often.


Baking the sweet potatoes


Egg-ricotta slurry


Seasoning the turkey


Final assemblage


ENTIRE BAG OF SPINACH YAAAASSSS


Final product (in bad light, sorry)

Again, this is not a *quick* recipe (I think it took about 3 hours start to finish, though some of it you could prep in advance), but it makes a giant pan-full that you can go back to for a week or more. (I imagine it would also freeze just fine as well.) The story is that this is what Shalane traditionally eats the night before the Boston Marathon, though I think it's probably too rich & acidic & dairy-filled for me to try that. (You could probably easily make it vegetarian by just leaving out the meat or replacing with your vegetable protein of choice.)

My favorite thing about this book is how the focus is on nutrition, not on weight loss or calorie-counting. In fact, there is no calorie information included at all, but the dish descriptions do go into the various nutrients in the ingredients and why they're beneficial for athletes. (Which....is why about a third of the recipes involve beets. I'll be skipping those.) There are no calls for low-fat/non-fat cheese or artificial sweeteners; in fact, there is a decided emphasis on eating plenty of healthy fats (including full-fat dairy). Basically the central message of the book is to try to cook with a variety of fresh, whole, nutrient-rich foods as much as possible and avoid processed things whenever you can. (Shalane credits this approach with finally stabilizing her weight & allowing her to stop counting calories and end a 15-year battle with amenorrhea.)

(Seriously, the lasagna is NOT diet foot. But it's packed with nutrients and sooooo tasty! It's been great for post-speed or tempo run with a big salad.)

Looking forward to trying more recipes in the future!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

'Race' Report: Half Moon Bay International Marathon (Half)

Back in June my friend L signed up for the HMBIM Half, which would be her first half marathon. Thus far she had not been able to pressgang anyone else into running it with her, & since I knew I had to run a gajillion miles that day anyway & am always looking for excuses to run them on a different loop, I signed up as well. (I've been curious about this race for a while now so I also figured it was a good opportunity to scout the course & see if it was maybe worth for-real racing sometime in the future.)

Half Moon Bay is a kind of surfer's paradise on the ocean side of the SF peninsula, right off of Highway 1. If you've heard of the Mavericks surfing competition, it's where that happens. (In fact, the staging area for this race was the actual harbor where it happens.) It is utterly gorgeous and I was really looking forward to a nice, easy jog along the seaside without any pressure to hit a certain pace or pick off the runners in front of me.

Complicating all this was the fact that the day before we had a football game at 5pm. This meant we didn't get home until around 10 & it was nearly 11 by the time I got around to throwing race things in a bag & then finally got in bed--not great considering my alarm was set for 4:30am. (Have I mentioned in the past that I am not a morning runner? I am NOT a morning runner.) It turns out that in mid-September you can get up at 4:30am, get yourself ready to go, drive for forty minutes, park, futz around with your gear, finally start running and STILL not see the sun.

The races were at 7 and 7:15 and the race site said that parking would open at 6. If I was going to get my 6 extra miles in before the half at 7:15 (19 miles on the schedule), I knew I needed to start running pretty close to 6, so I banked on the parking opening early & arrived at about 5:40. Sure enough, they opened the gates literally two minutes after I drove up.

Parking was .4 miles from the start/finish, so my original plan was to leave all my stuff in my car, run to the start & then out & back a little less than three miles, then run the race & walk back to my car. Alas, there were logistical issues I had not considered, like the fact that I would definitely want my sunglasses for the race but at 6am it was still dark, and also the fact it was still bitterly cold and I was not even remotely ready to ditch my jacket. Not knowing exactly what the set up was in the staging area, I finally decided on walking to the start with my bag, dropping it somewhere, & then doing my the miles out-and-back on the course.

This mostly worked except for the fact that it was like 6:20 by the time I started running & I only had time for about four miles before I really wanted to be back at the start to ditch my jacket, grab my sunglasses, & officially drop off my bag. Sigh.

It also didn't leave me much time for hunting around the start area for L, which I was resigned to doing because I completely failed to coordinate with her beforehand. I knew she had been having some knee problems recently and had not been able to train as much as she wanted, so there was a chance she wouldn't be running. I should have checked in with her on Saturday but things were so crazy with the football game that it completely slipped my mind until the next morning (I am a bad friend), at which point I did not want to text or call her in case the knee had gotten the better of her & she was enjoying a blissful lie-in. By the time the gun went off I still hadn't spotted her, so I figured I'd just keep my eye out during the race (though I was not sure what pace she would be running).

But you guys, it was so nice to run a half marathon, especially one as gorgeous as this one without having to think about it, to be able to just run at whatever pace I felt like & enjoy it. The views were breathtaking, and this was the first run in a long time that I can remember paying zero attention to my watch or how many miles were left. In general I am really terrible at enjoying the journey or whatever (SRSLY ARE WE THERE YET), but I was determined to enjoy myself the whole way no matter what happened (even if I did still have two extra miles to run after), and for a very very long time, I did just that.

But did I take time out for pictures???? Heck yeah, I did!

In spite of the fact that it was like 40° when I arrived, I knew the morning was supposed to be very sunny (though hopefully not too warm that early). The first few miles were refreshingly cool (sometimes even pleasantly cold in the shade!), but by the exposed middle miles near the turnaround, I was quite happy that I'd worn short shorts, my white RaceRaves singlet, and a white cap. Sure, it was warm and I doused myself with cups of water from time to time, but I never felt uncomfortably hot. (So many people around me were wearing leggings and jackets and just looking at them made me miserable. HOW.)

With just a few miles to go I was looking forward to being done, but not because I felt particularly bad. I know I ran a lot of the race faster than I really should be running long runs and my heart rate reflected that, but I felt just fine, so I didn't worry about it too much. The 2+ hours of pretty scenery was definitely worth the drive, money, & getting up early, but after that I finally started running into the usual that-was-fun-let's-get-on-with-the-rest-of-the-day long run impatience.


If you can't enjoy a long run here, you probably can't enjoy it anywhere.

Then, just as I passed the mile 12 marker, I tripped & took a huge spill onto the concrete! I think it looked pretty dramatic (I rolled several times into the middle of the road) but apparently I've become pretty good at falling because I was up again in a second (even managed to protect my phone, which I was carrying) & really got off pretty easily in terms of scrapes and scratches. (I mean, it's marathon training; what's a little blood here & there?) In fact I think the fall must have given me a surge of adrenaline because I ran that last mile way, WAY too fast (8:40, as compared to my usual 9:45-10ish long run pace) & (not to be too obnoxious) honestly wasn't even trying.

After crossing the finish line, I guzzled a coconut water, picked up my bag from gear check and dropped my medal into it, then headed back out onto the course to finish my last two miles. (Fun fact: People get really, really concerned and freaked out when you're wearing a bib and running *away* from the finish line. In retrospect I probably should have taken it off for the sake of everyone's sanity.) After running the finish a second time I still felt pretty good, so I decided to tack on an extra half mile to make it an even 53 for the week.

And honestly? Very probably the best I ever remember feeling after a long run.


Not gonna lie; feeling pretty darn good. :)


***UPDATE!*** Apparently L did indeed run, AND completed her entire first half marathon without walking (which she was worried about because of her injury)! She had a great time & posted many gorgeous photos. :)


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~LOGISTICAL STUFF~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Location: Half Moon Bay, CA

Date: Mid September (Sept 18, 2016 this year)

Price: Alas it looks like the info is no longer on the site now that they've sold out, but I think I paid $95 for the half in June or July or whenever that was. So, to be honest, more than I usually like to pay for a half. I wanted to support my friend, though, and since I'm kind of tired of doing the same old long runs and have been curious about this race for a while now, I decided to suck it up.

Deadlines/sellout factor: I don't know how it's been in the past (this was the 4th year), but it definitely sold out this year. (They had a note on the site but I haven't been checking it so I'm not sure when it happened.)

Field Size: Finishers:

  • Full Marathon - 173 finishers
  • Half Marathon - 617 finishers

Parking/Staging:

Parking was at 333 Airport Road & the start/finish area was .4 miles away at 371 Princeton Avenue.


Officially the lot was scheduled to open at 6, but they opened at 5:40, which I appreciated. There were also shuttle buses running between the parking lot & start/finish area. Honestly it's a pretty short, easy walk, but I am sure many of the full marathoners appreciated having the option to not walk .4 miles back to their cars.

This is not a huge race, so the staging area was pretty compact, with the start/finish, a few sponsor tents, first aid tent, bib pickup, toilets, & bag drop all within a few dozen feet of each other. It was pretty easy to figure out & there were plenty of volunteers happy to answer questions & direct you to whatever you needed.

The Course:

The half marathon course was an out-and-back along a very nice, paved, virtually flat seaside path. Some parts were shaded but a lot of it was exposed. There were aid stations with water, sports drink, & sometimes gels maybe every couple of miles, and there were plenty of public bathrooms (mostly flush toilets) along the trail. (I believe the full marathon involves some non-technical trails and a few significant hills, because I accidentally ran part of it during my warm-up.)

It's hard to think about it when you're 45 miles or so into a 53 mile week, but I actually think this could be a decent PR course. It's flat and paved, and although it's kind of curvy (so you have to pay attention to tangents) there aren't too many actual turns. It probably won't ever be cold, but the fact that it's right on the ocean & starts early means it's unlikely to ever get terribly hot. (The high this year was 82° and there wasn't a cloud in the sky, and it was still fairly comfortable by 9-9:30.)

Swag:

A pretty nice medal, and maybe a shirt? I honestly do not know as I really just can't with race shirts at this point. No one ever shoved one into my hands and I did not go looking for one.


Also free snacks at the finish, and all the full-size Zola coconut waters you could guzzle. (I had one before the race and one after and at the time it was THE BEST thing I had ever tasted in my life.)

If you decide to run:

  • Apparently it's selling out now, so don't wait too long to register.
  • The fact that it's an early start and takes place right on the ocean makes a huge difference temperature-wise, but still be prepared for full sun and moderately warm temps. It seems unlikely to me that this race would EVER be cold enough to warrant layers.
  • There is race day bib pickup (I did not know this ahead of time & wish I had).
  • There are shuttles between parking & the start. (Not that it's that far, but it's nice to know.)

Overall Assessment:

I enjoyed this race and had zero logistical problems with it. Yes, it is a bit pricey, but it's also gorgeous, and the flat, paved course & friendly weather makes it potentially a good PR course. I'd recommend it to anyone not on a tight race budget.


Basically my new life mantra/battle cry.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Big week & feelin' fine!


This week I started my weekend off with 13 miles on Friday afternoon: 2 warm up, 70:00 @ marathon pace, 2.25 cool down. #gobig

Much like Tuesday's track workout, this one had been out there looming in my mind, definitely the longest race pace training run (short of racing a half, which I don't really count) I've ever done during a marathon cycle. 70:00 worked out to ~8.75 miles, & I think in the past I've usually capped those race pace runs at around 6 miles, or sometimes two-mile chunks on and off during a long run. I also can't even remember the last time I did a training run this far that was not a long run. Maybe never. So, you can maybe see why, after Tuesday's shin-buster and two days of exhausting travel, I was shall we say curious to see how it would go.

Fortunately, the weather cooperated (except for the stupid wind, which I guess I just have to live with now). While the downside of fall is earlier sunsets, the upside of earlier sunsets for an afternoon runner is cooler temps. The first mile as always was super hard (uphill and into the wind), but I was actually surprised to see that it was still a pretty respectable 8:10. There was an adjustment period of getting used to the pace & cadence & how it felt, but after that I was able to settle into it pretty consistently & just tick off miles.

I don't want to say it was easy, but ultimately it did feel a lot easier than I was expecting (and I think easier than 13 "easy" miles usually feel; I don't know why that is true), and as I think I've mentioned before, the difficulty wasn't really the physical discomfort so much as doing the mental work of pacing. After six or so miles of this I felt my legs starting to get heavy & my pace starting to drop, but really all it took was thinking, "Well, let's just try to grind out one more sub-8:10 mile & go from there." And suddenly I looked down & was running 7:50 pace with what felt like very little extra effort.


The last miles were definitely the easiest, probably partly due to being downhill & with a tailwind, but I would also like to think there is something about just getting more comfortable with the pace & how it feels as the miles go by. I was also glad to see that whereas after 5 miles at 8:02 pace on Tuesday my average HR was 190, on Friday after nearly 9 miles at 8:04 pace my average HR was only 169 (which is actually below my target range. Then again there were a couple of water/traffic light stops. But I tried to keep moving as much as possible).

Icing on the cake? I felt completely normal after. I didn't struggle at all to finish it; the cool down miles were easy, and that brain dead, stare-at-a-wall-all-night feeling that sometimes follows longer harder runs was blessedly absent.

* * *

Grand Total: 53 miles + no strength work whatsoever D:

    * 12 easy
    * 3.5 speed
    * 13.75 race pace
    * 19.5 long

Man, am I glad I only ran four days this week because there were some real doozies in there!

Monday 9/12: a.m. strength work / p.m. karate

Slept badly again (you'd think long runs would be good for sleeping, but the opposite seems to be true), and I'd been having some bad back pain between my shoulder blades all weekend that made me nervous about trying to lift. So another hour of sleep instead.

Tuesday 9/13: 2 warm-up, 3 x 800m / 200m jog, 5 miles marathon pace, 3 x 800m / 200m jog, 2 cool down = 12.5 total + shower + pack + get on plane.

Wednesday 9/14: Work work work / fly home

Thursday 9/15: a.m. strength work / 8 easy.

Wussed out on a.m. strength work (again), because I am lame. But seriously, I was absolutely exhausted when I got home Wednesday & night & really did not not not feel like getting up any earlier than I absolutely had to. Not sorry. The run was not great when I started but eventually I warmed up & it was fine. (I'd been wondering how it would go after Tuesday.)

Friday 9/16: a.m. strength work / 2 warm up, 70:00 marathon pace, 2.25 cool down = 13 total.

Aaaaaaand just to complete the trifecta, I was still feeling wiped out from travel Thursday night so didn't even bother trying to get up early for strength work. (In fact, I didn't even go in to my office.) Not great but I will still prioritize sleep over just about anything else.

Saturday 9/17: Football!!


27-10 Stanford. COME BACK ANYTIME, USC!

Sunday 9/18: 4 warm up + Half Moon Bay Half Marathon + 2.5 cool down = 19.5 long

Race report coming soon but here's a little sneak peak:




* * *

CIM 2016 Week 1 of 18

CIM 2016 Week 2 of 18

CIM 2016 Week 3 of 18

CIM 2016 Week 4 of 18

CIM 2016 Week 5 of 18

CIM 2016 Week 6 of 18

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Peak Speed Work

On Tuesday morning I got up early to do this monster of a track workout before heading to the airport:

  • 2 miles warm up
  • Drills/dynamic stretches
  • 3 x 800m @ 5K pace / 200m jog
  • 40:00 @ marathon pace
  • 3 x 800m @ 5K pace / 200m jog
  • 2 miles cool down

At 12.5 miles, this is the longest speed session on my training plan, & I'll do it once more in November about a month out from CIM (though there are many more only a mile or so shorter). I wasn't worried about it, per se, but after my long run on Sunday it was always there in the back of my mind, sort of looming and monolithic. Like. That is a lot of miles to run at not-easy pace.

As with an 18-20 mile long run, it's easy for me to get overwhelmed with these big workouts if I think about it too much in its entirety. Literally, I think the only way I manage to psyche myself up to drive to the track and even *start* is by eating the elephant one bite at a time. Like, none of the individual pieces are that bad--"Two easy miles? That's barely a run!" "3 x 800m? Merely a rigorous warm-up!" "5 comfortably fast miles? Just my usual eastern GG Park loop plus a bit."--so I kind of just start the next thing (with love, as an old yoga teacher used to say) & lie to myself that that one piece is all there is to do. (No yoga teacher to blame for the last part.)

And, honestly, it really wasn't that bad. Long, yes, but like, WAAAY easier than an "easy" run of the same distance. In particular, the 800m's felt kind of scary easy. A couple of weeks back, my no-speed-work-in-four-months ass was kind of shocked to find myself running 800m's in the 3:25-3:30 range; this time I just tried to stick to the same effort level (5Kish), and was pretty stunned when this happened:



After the first one I was like, "Wait, what?" & honestly thought for a second that I'd made some kind of stopwatch error. Then I thought, "Huh. Well, at least it's out of your system." But apparently it wasn't because I just kept whipping them out, not really feeling like I was making any special effort beyond what I had the last time. It's hard to believe I've gotten that much fitter that quickly, but I'm not sure what else to chock it up to.

The toughest part of this workout was definitely the 40:00 at marathon pace(-ish). Knowing the climes that some of your train in, I don't want to say it was "hot," exactly, but I'd thought that by getting out there in the morning I'd catch the cool part of the day & instead it was a good 15-20° hotter than I am used to running in and also full sun (and also I was wearing a black top).


In this shot from four years ago, it is hot & I am running at 5K pace & wearing the same black top mentioned above, so it's basically like you're RIGHT THERE AT THE TRACK WITH ME.

It was supposed to be 40:00 but I suck at using my watch so instead I just had to round it to 5 miles (which ended up being pretty close). The sun & heat definitely took their toll -- I think my body kind of locked into the usual "feel" & cadence of marathon pace, but instead of the target 167-182ish HR range, I averaged more like 190. D: (For comparison, on a cool day a few weeks ago I ran 30:00 between sets of 800m's at 8:04 pace & average HR 175.) In retrospect I should have been more disciplined & made myself slow down a little; alas, even though my HR was high I just kept thinking, "Oh, this feels okay, no big deal..." Oops. We'll just have to hope it's not 80° at CIM.

Which just adds to the reasons why, afterwards, I was sure those three-x-teen 800m's were history. But no; they just kept coming. Clearly just more evidence that I'm a middle distance runner at heart & not a marathoner. I'm probably the type of runner who at peak marathon fitness would run 3:10 Yasso 800m's & then run a 3:40 marathon. Because THAT makes sense.

(Alternative explanation: Just as some people have a completely separate stomach for dessert or beer or what have you, I have a separate set of legs specifically for doing intervals on the track, & nothing else I do with them in between seems to "count" towards fatiguing them.)

I don't have a lot of gifts in life, but this may be one. Who wants to convince me to train for the mile next year????

Monday, September 12, 2016

CIM WEEK 6 of 18: french toast, trail shoes, & a little race fatigue...


There's a big orange bridge in there somewhere....

Grand Total: 48 miles + 3:00:00 strength

    * 30 easy
    * 18 long

Since I raced hard on Sunday 9/4, this week was just a bunch of easy running. It's so funny how I felt fine after the race, mostly fine for the rest of the day, kind of tired on Monday, and then by Tuesday & Wednesday I finally felt the full effect of all-out race exhaustion in my legs.

Monday 9/5: Labor day!!! We had Fabulous Brunch with Don's cousin who was visiting, went to see Beetlejuice at the Alamo Draft House, & otherwise did nothing but sit on the couch all day.


I neglected to photograph my maple-bourbon French toast with vanilla
craime fraiche, so please enjoy this purloined shot from Yelp.

Tuesday 9/6: a.m. strength work/p.m. 8 easy.

This run started off feeling really yucky and hard, but the last few miles were surprisingly fast-ish even while my heart rate stayed weirdly low. (Unfortunately, I also rolled my ankle *really* badly, bad enough that for a split second I was sure I had broken it. It still hurts but isn't swollen or anything, and running doesn't seem to bother it too much. Still. Dodging bullets, y'all.)

Wednesday 9/7: a.m. strength/afternoon 4 easy/p.m karate.

In the grand tradition of Wednesday runs, this one felt pretty awful. Fortunately Wednesday & Saturday runs are "flex" days where the distance is pretty much up to me (up to & including taking a rest day). It wasn't nearly as bad as last Wednesday, but my body was exhausted & I didn't want to completely wreck myself before karate (or the rest of my runs later in the week), so I just did an easy four & gave myself a little rest time before class.

Thursday 9/8: 8 easy. Finally starting to feel good again!

Friday 9/9: a.m. strength work/p.m. 10 easy. This run felt fine, but man, I was wiped out for the rest of the evening. I'm going to chock it up to the end of the week & never getting enough sleep. :-P

Saturday 9/10: Rest.

Sunday 9/11: 18 long.

I don't want to brag (okay fine I want to brag a little), but I'm now a third of the way into training & have done three 18 mile runs, whereas I think usually by this time I've done maybe one but usually none. I don't want to say this run felt *easy*, but a lot of times after runs in the 18-20 range I basically feel disabled for the rest of the day, & today it was just like, "Yeah; I do long runs. NBD."

Also, I was smart this time & remembered that since I was running up to Land's End I should wear my trail shoes. Apparently (unlike Hokas) trail shoes are just generally nicer when your feet are feeling beat up & a lot of the sidewalks you're running on are chewed up in places (as they are in certain parts of Golden Gate Park).


Saucony Peregrines ftw! I've been really happy with them. Also they were like $30.


If all goes well, heading up into the 50s this week with some big workouts (if I can shoe-horn them in around some work travel).

* * *

CIM 2016 Week 1 of 18

CIM 2016 Week 2 of 18

CIM 2016 Week 3 of 18

CIM 2016 Week 4 of 18

CIM 2016 Week 5 of 18

Thursday, September 8, 2016

CIM WEEK 5 of 18: That cutback feeling

Blogger land leads me to believe that this is the part where I say "Ohhhh, it was so WEIRD to have a cut-back week after all these 45+ WEEKS, I felt like I BARELY RAN, I was going STIR CRAZY doing normal-people things instead of running a BAJILLION miles" but eff that noise, you guys. Other than the race (which, yeah, was awesome), this week sucked balls and I am not too proud to tell you about it.

Grand Total: 32.25 miles + 2:00:00 strength

    * 21.3 easy
    * 4.75 speed
    * 6.2 race

Monday 8/29: 1:00:00 a.m. strength work 30:00 p.m. strength work. The gym-goblin strikes again. For some reason my body decided Sunday night to keep me up until 1 in the morning & then wake me up again at 3:30. I never did get back to sleep so ended up taking half a sick day & working at home instead of getting up at 6:00 for the gym. BUT, I did spend the evening doing the part of my strength work I could without gym equipment (mostly push-ups, ab/core work, & clam shells), plus a bunch of sorely-needed stretching. (A bunch of people were out of town so we cancelled karate for the night).

Tuesday 8/30: a.m. strength work/p.m. 2 warm up, 4 x 200m / 200m jog, 20:00 @ marathon pace, 4 x 200m / 200m jog, 2 cool down = 8.75 total.

A somewhat restrained race week track workout. The only bummer was that the real track was closed because of some sort of kids' sportsball going on on the field, meaning anyone who wanted to run had to do so on the upper (windy, concrete, uneven, open-to-random-pedestrians) track. This reminded me that since I never know when this will happen, I should always bring to the track a pair of shoes that I don't mind wearing to run fast on concrete, because flats are pretty unpleasant (for me, at least; I do know some people run entire marathons in flats but that will never be me).

Sometimes I don't mind doing longer intervals on the upper track, but 200m's up there SUCK. There are no marked measurements so I have to do them by GPS so who knows how accurate they are, the hard/uneven ground is hard on my joints, and it's hard to dodge pedestrians when you're almost sprinting. All this makes it really hard to run particularly fast, whereas on the real track you can just sort of lock in & focus on the finish line. I managed to run all but the first 200m at assigned pace or faster, but honestly I still don't think it was fast enough because I was not even remotely close hitting the heart rates Coach Ashley listed for short intervals.

(Honestly, I really don't hate children's sports. I just hate that they close the track when they're not actually using it.)

Wednesday 8/31: a.m. strength/afternoon 8 easy 4 easy/p.m karate.

I had not been sleeping well this week & on Wednesday it caught up with me. I dragged myself out of bed for strength work at 6 feeling exhausted & sluggish, which happens sometimes, but usually once I get to the gym & get started I feel a lot better. Not today. I pushed and pushed and pushed myself but ultimately only made it through about 30 minutes before I started worrying about blowing my 10K on Sunday.

I had an easy 8 miles on the schedule for the afternoon and HOLY JESUS, I can't remember the last time I felt so awful on a run. Again, it happens, but almost always after the first mile or so I'm feeling a lot better. This time it just got worse and worse--I felt simultaneously low blood sugar (not possible) and as if I hadn't slept for days. Honestly four miles was probably more than I really should have pushed myself through and by the end I was probably shuffling along at a 12:00 pace. Post-run, I promptly passed out & poor Don had to go to karate all by his lonesome.

Thursday 9/1: 8 easy.

Still didn't feel as easy as it should, but WAAAAY better than Wednesday's run! Things that did not help include 1) insane headwinds and 2) wearing Hokas. (Hoka Cliftons are my absolute favorite walking-around shoes, but every time my feet are feeling beat up, I somehow get it into my head that they will be good for a nice, easy run but they are sooooo not. Running in Hokas is basically like running in damp sand, ie, annoying & just barely functional.)

Friday 9/2: a.m. strength work/p.m. football game.

Given how exhausted I'd been feeling, I thought it was probably smart to skip this morning's strength work & get some extra sleep. Also, Friday was the first Stanford football game of the season!


SPORTSBALL!!!


Look at us being all 'murican. Wait I think that's baseball.


THE EYE MAKE UP IT IS OUT OF CONTROLLLLLL sorry

We did win but the game was not an entertaining one; in true David Shaw fashion, he played extremely conservative first-game-of-the-season football, refusing to show plays & doing absolutely nothing more than was necessary to get the win. (I guess I can accept that over being entertained.)

***{{WHINY INTERLUDE}}*** After work but before football, I had to drive to Sunnyvale to pick up my bib for Sunday. Sadly they didn't have race day pickup (whyyyyyy), & Stanford is about 35 miles closer to Sunnyvale than San Francisco, so it made sense to just go grab it then (vs. make the 80 mile round trip on Saturday). This meant my wine drinking tail gating time was severely curtailed but oh well. #sacrifices

Saturday 9/3: 2 easy + climbing.

Just a little shakeout, which, as I mentioned, utterly sucked. We also went climbing & I swung by A Runner's Mind in SF to pick up my bib for the Half Moon Bay Half (which I'm doing with a friend as part of a long run in a couple of weeks).

Sunday 9/4: 3.3 warm-up + 6.2 RACE!! Did I mention it was awesome? It was awesome.

This week the mileage goes back up but no workouts out of respect for the 10K. I plan to enjoy it.

* * *

CIM 2016 Week 1 of 18

CIM 2016 Week 2 of 18

CIM 2016 Week 3 of 18

CIM 2016 Week 4 of 18

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Race Report: Race to the End of Summer 10K

In my opinion 10Ks are too short and fast for wearing headphones, but warming up for a hard effort 10K is a great time for getting yourself into the zone, so I spent Saturday evening putting together a little pump up playlist to get me amped & ready to throw down on Coyote Creek Trail the next morning.

Somewhere during this process I fell head-over-heels giddy in love with this track, which in short order became Angela's Official Theme Song for Race to the End of Summer 10K 2016:

Seriously. So great.

Now. In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that my main reason for creating said pump up playlist was that I had felt utterly exhausted since the previous Wednesday. 18 miles on Sunday? No problem! 8.75 mile cut-back track workout on Tuesday? Easy! But Wednesday? Sweet baby Jesus.

God, I felt awful. I had 8 easy miles on the schedule, but even just 1 mile from home, I felt like I could barely stay upright. It was like simultaneously being sleep deprived and also low blood sugar. I managed to drag myself out two miles & then headed back home, & by the time I finished I was barely shuffling along at a 12:00 pace. This did not bode well for my 10K.

Thursday's easy 8 was better (I did the whole thing) but not great, and Saturday's 2 mile shakeout run was again just awful--10:30 pace felt practically like a tempo run. It freaked me out a little because this exact pattern of events had happened last March the week before Oakland Half--great long run on Sunday, great track session on Tuesday, crash & burn Wednesday, then feel like garbage for the rest of the week. I felt like I had some decent training under my belt & should have had a pretty solid race, but instead I ran the worst half marathon of my life.

So, I'd been trying to rest up & sleep a lot in the days leading up to this race & hoped it would help, but also felt like some quality pump up jams would not go amiss.

~*~*~

The race was in San Jose at 8:00 (with a half marathon at 7:00) & since I'd never run it before, my timeline was get up at 5:00, leave by 6:00, arrive around 7:00, scope things out, start warming up at 7:20, finish warming up at 7:50, & be in the corral by 7:55. I was pretty efficient getting out the door & the drive & parking were super easy, so I actually arrived around 6:40.


Start/finish

I skulked for a while & watched the half marathon start, took some pictures, then cued up the aforementioned playlist & warmed up by jogging the first 1.5 miles of the course & back. I was actually really glad I did this--it got the first few turns & tangents in my head, and I made note of a few things on the trail (most noticeably the super chewed up rocky footing as you transition from the road to the trail around mile 1, and a couple of dramatic dips that come up suddenly on an otherwise super flat path.)

I have to say, though--this warm-up felt good for about three minutes and then I was back to feeling like I was wearing lead shoes. 10:30 pace? *Mostly* okay. 10:00 pace? Ehhhh... 9:30 pace? I think I'm about to die. It felt as if my legs were absolutely not capable of moving one whit faster than that and no exhortation to do so would do a lick of good.


Photographers were already out on the course catching the half marathoners while I was warming up, so please enjoy these ridiculous shots of me feeling terrible about myself.

At this point as I neared the end of my warm-up, I was feeling pretty demoralized & part of me had already started thinking things like, "Eh, I'll just do it as a tempo run," "No point in changing shoes," etc., but then something happened to jolt me out of my pity party. I realized as I approached the staging area that either I had started my warm-up later than I thought or it had taken longer than I thought or something because the 5K/10K corrals were full & the race clock said only four minutes until the start!

So, yeah. This is how my 3 mile warm up became a very harried 3.3 miles after which I frantically tore off my warm-ups, pulled my hair up, made a split-second shoe decision, & didn't even have time to bother with sunscreen or Body Glide. As I sprinted back to the corral (that counts as pre-race strides, right?), it was as if a giant weight had been lifted off of me--out of nowhere I felt light and quick and like there *might* be a chance in Hades of not phoning it in. I jumped in at what seemed like the appropriate spot literally as they started the 10 second countdown, and off we went.


BOOP!

Even pre-week-of-exhaustion, I'd never had what you'd call a real "plan" for this race. Almost always in a 10K I just try to go out in the 7:15-7:20 range and see how I feel. I wanted to run a hard race, but I also knew I was not in prime 10K shape (ummmmm hello three weeks of speed work) so I knew I certainly should not be seeing paces any faster than that in mile 1-2.

And, at least according to my Garmin, I was kind of eerily consistent for those early miles--I swear every time I looked at my watch, it said 7:20 or 7:21. I wish I could say that was due to careful intention on my part but the truth is that from the very first mile I kind of locked into a certain gear & just held it, with almost no effort at all. I mean, I would sometimes have a general perception that this was a hard pace and it would be interesting to see for how long I could actually hold onto it, but then I would ask myself, "Really, though, is it actually physically hard/painful?" And the answer for a very long time was actually no; it was work, but the work was more the mental effort of holding the accelerator down and not getting freaked out by the thought of keeping it down for xx more minutes.


I have no idea what part of the race any of these pictures came from so let's just all pretend they come from the part you're currently reading about.

Pacing seems to be a challenge for a lot of people at small local 10Ks, so, as usually happens, I spent basically the entire race passing people (in fact, I don't think I was passed once), mostly people breathing way too hard in mile 1/2. I didn't know how many women were in front of me, but almost everyone I passed were men; finally maybe around the end of mile 2 I could see two women up in front of me, one maybe a quarter mile ahead and one much farther, and from then on tracking/catching/passing them became my primary motivation for holding onto my pace.

    Mile 1: 7:20
    Mile 2: 7:20


Mile 3ish? Eh, let's go with that.

I spent mile 3 slowly closing in on one woman and eventually passed her. The other woman was still *way* ahead and actually looked like she was pulling away as we approached the turnaround. I could still see her though, so part of my brain sort of went, "Right, well, you have 3 miles to catch her, which means you only have to run sliiiiightly faster than her." Again the pace still felt hard, but in kind of an abstract, distant way that felt more about the patience involved in terms of how much time was left than actual physical discomfort. Honestly, I have never in my life felt so much like a machine in a race, as if my legs had some kind of set-it-and-forget-it magic in them that someone had forgotten to tell me about. Mile 3 was a little slower by my watch, but mile 4 was faster, and the whole time I kept thinking, "Maaaaaybe I'm catching her a little? Maybe?"


I was glad I had people in front of me to chase because otherwise I spent long stretches of this race completely alone.
    Mile 3: 7:29
    Mile 4: 7:13

I passed several more dudes in those miles but really didn't care about anyone but the woman in front of me. At the start of mile 5 I think she was maybe a quarter mile ahead, and at that point I knew I could probably do it. I don't know if she was slowing down or not, but my pace was strong and I felt like I could absolutely push it a little harder in the last two miles. Mile 5 became about pushing just the tiniest bit faster, just enough to slowly reel her in; I didn't want to kick too soon & run out of juice in the last mile, nor did I want to put myself in the defensive position too early. I don't remember exactly but I think it was maybe right as we were coming to the end of the trail head that I finally passed her, just a bit before mile marker 5.


A bit of #painface for you!
    Mile 5: 7:14

In that last 1.2 miles, I was so, so glad I'd jogged them on my warm up; I knew exactly what to expect, that it would feel slightly uphill, where the best tangents were, etc. It's possible that it was completely psychological, but in that last mile when things finally did feel truly hard & painful, I felt like it made such a difference that I knew what to expect as I headed back toward the finish. I'd convinced myself that the woman I'd passed had immediately rallied & was right behind me, which I'm sure had a lot to do with how fast I was able to run that last mile.

    Mile 6: 6:59

Honestly I had been so focused in the second half of the race on running by feel and catching and passing the other women that I'd barely looked at my pace at all & really didn't know what kind of finish time to expect. I was stunned and ecstatic to see the 44:xx on the race clock come into view.


DERP
    Mile 6.2: 1:00 (6:17 pace)

The woman I'd been chasing was only 30 seconds behind me, and after she finished, we chatted briefly about how both of us had motivated the other to run harder than we probably would have otherwise, and she'd actually PR'd! (Related, in the first thing Strava has ever done to impress me, she was listed in my "flybys" for this race, and we are now following each other. So that was actually kind of cool. :) )

    Official: 44:38 / 6.2 miles / 7:12 pace

You guys. I can't tell you what a big deal this was for me. I have not run a 10K this fast since March 2013 (44:30), and my PR is only 44:21. I absolutely, 100% did not see a time like this happening on this day or any other in the near future, and I seriously almost sat down on the curb and cried. It was good enough for 1st in my age group & 2nd female, which was just beyond anything I was even remotely expecting. (Yes, it was a small field, but still. STILL.)


Posing like I do this every weekend, nbd.
    Overall: 5/131
    Women: 2/80
    A/G: 1/19

(Fun fact: The female winner was 57 and she is now my spirit animal. Sadly I could not find her to stalk on Strava.)


Seriously, though. Over the moon.



~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~LOGISTICAL STUFF~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Location: San Jose, CA

Date: Early September (Sept 4, 2016 this year)

Price: In the modern world of race fees, I count this one as pretty reasonable if you get in early. From the website:

Deadlines/sellout factor: This is a tiny local race so not really an issue. You can still sign up or change distances at packet pickup (Friday or Saturday), but there is no race day registration (or packet pickup).

Field Size: Finishers:

  • Half Marathon - 149 finishers
  • 10K - 131 finishers
  • 5K - 159 finishers

Staging:

The start & finish for all three races was on Embedded Way, which dead ends right between NexTest & the Silver Creek Sports Complex. Most of the staging was set up towards the dead end. This was a pretty tiny local race, so staging consisted of the start/finish line, a handful of sponsor tents, & maybe half a dozen port-a-potties (which was plenty).


This was right after the half marathon started at 7:00. Both fields were small & an hour apart--I think a lot of people didn't arrive for the 5K/10K until 7:30ish, so it was pretty dead once the half marathoners went off.

No gear check but parking is just a few minutes' walk away so it wasn't really needed. (I wanted to bring my bag so I just dropped it by the pile of bags that belonged to I think the people working the sports massage tent & it was totally fine.) Speaking of parking, there was loads of it available at both NextTest and SnapOn, neither of which were very far from the start/finish. (I was also grateful that they had volunteers standing out in front of the driveway waving flags because I might have missed it otherwise.)

Note well, though--there was no race day bib/shirt pickup. You had to get it either in Sunnyvale on Friday or Saturday in San Jose. I don't know whether there was a special reason for this or just to avoid dealing with more logistics on race day, but I found it frustrating as nearly all other races I've run of this size have had race day pickup at least as an option. Living in San Francisco, this meant I had to make an additional 80+ mile round trip.

The Course:

All three courses began the same way--heading south on Hellyer, then right on Fontanoso (which kind of curves south and then east again), then another right to head west on Silver Creek Road, then jump onto Coyote Creek Trail just past the 1-mile mark. From there, the 5K & 10K were both out-and-backs along the trail/roads. The half course did something very windy & convoluted, going out & back on the trail for a while & then a whole bunch of other places (?) before heading back to Embedded Way.

I can't speak for the half course, but I thought this was a pretty decent 5K/10K course. The local roads we ran on were closed to cars, wide, very nearly flat, and very smoothly paved. There wasn't much shade on that part, but it was only the 1st & last miles so I didn't mind it much. Coyote Creek Trail is fairly narrow, but after a mile of running, people were pretty spread out so it was never an issue, even with people coming back in the other direction. There were a couple of little dips & short inclines, but I would still call this course pretty flat. The paving was smooth and, best of all, the trail was almost completely shaded, which makes SUCH a difference when it's full sun. The only iffy part of the whole thing was the spot where you jump on to the trail head from Silver Creek Road; the ground was a bit chewed up & rocky there so I'm glad I knew about it ahead of time because you really do have to watch your feet if you're moving quickly. (It was maybe 10 yards total.) I didn't use them but there were aid stations maybe every 1.5 miles or so with photographers & cheering volunteers.

10K Course:

Swag:

A logo cotton blend T & pretty nice spinner medal. (The website said tech T, so not sure what happened there. Not that I care either way as I have an entire bag of old race shirts in my basement that are getting turned into rags or donated.)


Line up the two pieces of the spinner & you have a bottle opener!


There were prizes for 1st, 2nd, & 3rd male & female at each distance (I got a $25 gift certificate to Sports Basement, and I think the 1st place winners also got something extra, but no idea if the amounts were different.) Also I noticed while writing this that the website said 1st place winners in each age group were also supposed to get some kind of prize, but I didn't know that at the race so whatever it was, I missed it. Oops.

If you decide to run:

  • It's San Jose in the summer. The races start early enough & there's enough shade on the course that it might be totally comfortable, but there is always the potential for a warmish race.
  • No race day packet pickup. This is a complete mystery to me given how tiny the race was, and if you live 50+ miles from the closest pickup site, it's inconvenient.
  • They are serious about those start times! Don't get carried away on your warm-up/pity party.

Overall Assessment:

I picked this race because I wanted to run a 10K and a half leading up CIM, and I especially liked the idea of running a short race early-on to get a sense of where my fitness is so that I'm running the right paces in my speed/tempo workouts. I went with this one because a) it fell in the right time frame, b) it was (relatively) close, and c) it was pretty flat with few turns.

You never know what you're going to get with small local races, particularly charity races, but I thought this event was very well organized and well run, and the 5K/10K courses were quite nice (with the exception of the one little chewed-up rocky place). Probably not *the* fastest courses in the history of ever, but plenty reasonable for running a good, solid time, and reasonably priced considering what has happened to road race prices in the last 10 years. (And if you're into medals, there is a really nice one for all three distances.) I had a great time and would certainly recommend this event to a local looking for either a fun run or a solid fitness gauge.