Monday, October 16, 2017

What to Do with the Medals

Don't worry, this isn't a rant-y post about "always earned never given" or why we should or should not give grown-ass adults participation trophies. Take the medal. Don't take the medal. Wear it. Don't wear it. Put it a trophy case or a trash can or wherever makes your little heart the happiest. (File under: internet arguments I have no energy for.)

Emergy for a snarky gif, though? Always.

Personally, I kind of like medals, but I like them the way I like neat little memorabilia from cool stuff I've done. I don't see them as awards or prizes so much as souvenirs, just a little something to run across from time to time and be, "Oh, right, that time I did x cool event! Good times."

So, anyway. Before we moved I had a men's tie rack on my bedroom wall where I'd used the tie hangers to hang up all my podium medals & the shelf above it for some non-medal awards (which I thought looked reasonably attractive), & the rest were in a shoebox under the bed because I had no idea what else to do with them.

Then when we moved into the new house, I didn't bother putting them up because we were just going to start tearing most of the place down, so then they all went into a shoe box in the unpermitted storage area downstairs.

Now, here's the thing about unpermitted things. Generally 'unpermitted' usually means 'done by someone who is shall we say less than a pro at this' who is maybe not so great at things like 'installing proper drainage' and 'sealing walls and such against moisture,' so one of the key characteristics of the downstairs storage area was a faint whif of mold and/or mildew. Which is why any textiles that went down there were sealed in plastic bags and/or large plastic tupperware.

I didn't really think about this when I threw the medal shoebox down there, but man did I think about it last February when we had to clean the place out before construction started! I opened the box and was promptly punched in the face with a giant whif of wet dog smell. Plus the medals themselves were covered in a thin film of I don't even want to know what. I didn't really have time to do anything about it then, so off they went into another giant tupperware and into storage.

Very soon, though, the construction at our house will be kinda-sorta done-ish, and all of this business will be coming out of storage and back home to live with us again. Of course, the medals will all need to be washed first, which is not a thing I thought I would ever say, and maybe I'll put my same old podium medal display up somewhere. I'm not really sure what to do with the others, though. I definitely want to keep them, but I definitely do NOT have the space or personality for the kind of thing you get when you google "race medal display".

And no, I will not be turning them into Christmas tree ornaments or some other kind of questionable art project. I just want them to have some kind of real place, nothing too public or audacious, but also not the shoe box under my bed.

Internet: Hit me with all your best ideas.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Because Boston's Not Enough.....

Sure, everyone's so obsessed with That One Marathon in April, but it turns out that there are a few others. Pretty highly regarded ones, even. One of them is just down the road from here, along Highway 1.

I have lots of friends who have run this race (multiple times, even!) and absolutely raved about it. You also can't really argue with it being on the short list for marathons with the best views. So I've definitely been a bit Big Sur-curious for a few years now, but never pulled the trigger.

There are some good reasons for this. The main one is that my focus as a runner tends to mostly be on speed and working hard to have the fastest race I possibly can, and Big Sur does not really lend itself particularly well to that. It's not the Pike's Peak Marathon or anything, but there is 2,000+ ft of elevation gain (as opposed to, say, 200+ in the Eugene Marathon, 300+ in the Napa Valley Marathon, and 400-500+ in CIM) and there is the potential for heinous wind. Sure, I'm up for running the occasional casual race for the experience, but marathons suck up so much time and energy--to say nothing of the money involved when it's a destination race--that I've mostly limited that stuff to shorter races where I don't feel like I'm giving up 6 months of training for something I know isn't going to be a fast race.

Another reason is its insane popularity. I am super super turned off by races that sell out in minutes or hours or where you have to send your credit card info off into the void, cross your fingers, and hope you're randomly selected by the running gods. I just could not get that excited about the uncertainty of it all.

But then at some point last year I remembered the existence of the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge, wherein anyone registered for Boston can sign up to also run Big Sur 6 or 13 days later (depending on the year) and also get a bunch of nice perks as well. Since I was already committing six months to for-real marathon training and wouldn't ever be betting on Big Sur for a fast race anyway, I decided, what the heck? Let's see how these old legs handle two marathons in less than two weeks. (Thankfully, 2018 is a 13-day gap year; I don't know if I'm quite crazy enough to try this in a 6-day gap year!)

Since I have a conference to present at in DC in during those two weeks, however, things will be a bit shall we say interesting next April travel-wise.

Le Plan:

    Friday, April 13: Fly to Boston, do fun Boston-ish things

    Monday, April 16: ***Boston Marathon***

    Tuesday, April 17: Train to NYC, do fun NYC-ish things

    Saturday, April 21: Train to DC, do fun DC-ish things

    Monday, April 23: Speak at conference

    Wednesday, April 25: Fly to SF

    Thursday, April 26: Drive down to Big Sur, do fun Big Sur-ish things

    Sunday, April 29: ***Big Sur Marathon***

The plus side is that thanks to my conference, work will cover my flights; the downside is that there may not be as much rest & recovery during those 13 days as one might ideally hope for.

Eh, I suppose it's not called a challenge for nothing....

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Race Report: Rock N Roll San Jose Half Marathon (& 5K/10K)

***Update: You guys, I just realized that this was my 20th half marathon!!! I'll just be sitting at home awaiting my extra-special bonus medal that I assume someone somewhere will put in the mail to me, since there is apparently one of those for every possible running accomplishment imaginable.***

I've had a super tough time lately getting back to this little corner of the internet, but last week I did manage to post a pre-race update on The Instagrams:

My friends are the best.

ICYMI I had one of the worst races of my life a month ago (Race to the End of Summer 10K), which felt extra-special bad since last year in that same race I was 2nd overall, 1st in my age group, and came within spitting distance of felling a four-year-old PR. My training had been better this year and I thought for sure I'd at least beat last year's time and maybe even PR.

But you know what they say: Never tell the universe your plans!

Even before that, though, 2017 had been one awful race after another in spite of the fact that my training has been going reasonably well. So, there is definitely a part of me that was trying to a) brace myself for an awful RNRSJ and b) figure out what the heck I was going to do with myself emotionally if it happened.

And you know what? That's exhausting.

Monday, September 25, 2017


Hi hi,

Some people asked me lately if I'd been so demoralized by my recent 10K that I just gave up running all together, what with the lack of blog posts and Strava data & general radio silence.

No way, dude! But I have had an unfortunate coincidence of circumstances that kind of makes it look that way, namely

    1) I've got some really big work projects lately that involve a lot of time and particularly a lot of writing, so I've been trying to be a responsible grown up & devote my spare writing spoons to the stuff that actually pays the bills, and

    2) My (1.5 year old) Garmin may or may not have just bit the dust last week. When it's charged it works fine, but it's been getting harder and harder to wiggle it just right so that it will make contact with the charger pins enough to actually connect, and I guess a couple of weeks ago was the week it finally went NOPE! So I've been slowly watching the juice drain out of it, and a couple of days ago it went dead at long last. I've been in touch with Garmin support & tried all their suggestions but nothing works, to which their response was, "Sorry, only 1 year warranty, but we'll totally send you a refurbished one for like $150." Which I guess is better than dropping another $300+ on a new one, but I'm going to try one last Hail Mary & see if REI (where I bought it) will see it as a manufacturer's defect (since it's only 1.5 years old it hardly seems fair to call this normal wear & tear) & replace it. We shall see. In any case, that's why there's been no Strava data. Lately it's been all treadmills & running in lane 1 or on a known route with an old school stopwatch.

As far as the shitty 10K goes, I've appreciated all the advice I've gotten from people more experienced at racing than me who've been like a) seriously, you had a lot of crap going on that weekend, of course you had a shit race, and b) sometimes we just have shit races no matter how fit we are, who knows why, it doesn't really matter, move along, nothing to see here. So that's the attitude I've been trying to take.

Who even cares, though, because last week this happened.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Race Report: Race to the End of Summer 10K

Every now and then, you have a race that leaves you staring breathlessly at your watch going, "Holy f***ing shit!! How the hell did THAT happen?"

Well, I had one of those races on Sunday. Except not in the way that you generally hope for.

I ran this race last year as an early tune-up for CIM. It was cheap and reasonably close to home and looked fairly flat and fast, except for maybe the fact that it's in San Jose during the summer and thus likely to be hot. Let me also say that I didn't have the highest of expectations last year because after running possibly my slowest marathon ever (or pretty close, anyway) at the end of April, I took May more or less off, spent most of June consuming LOTS of dairy, whisky, & other not-particularly-healthy things & getting basically zero physical activity, and returned at the end of the month pretty darn out of shape and unable to fit comfortably into most of my clothes.

Knowing I had just two months to prep for a 10K and five for CIM, I got straight to work running 40+ easy miles a week & lifting three times a week. I didn't have much hope that I'd get very far in eight weeks (including only three not-that-intense speed workouts), so I was utterly stunned to run 44:38, just 17 seconds off my PR, and come in 1st in my age group and 2nd overall. I think I spent a solid five minutes staring at the official results going "HOW?????" But hey, I'll take it! And when the race organizers sent out a $25 re-run offer for next year, I figured, why not?

So, here we are, next year. I'm certainly no longer in the shape I was in for CIM, but for the last few months my mileage has been in the 40+ range and pretty darn consistent, including reasonably intense speed and tempo/threshold workouts twice weekly. I haven't been in the gym three days a week without fail, but I've been making it twice a week pretty regularly (and I can squat and deadlift a LOT more than I could last summer, which should at least theoretically translate into power). So part of me felt like, "Surely I should be in the same ballpark as last year, and maybe even faster."

On the other hand, I've mentioned many times lately just how exhausted these 40+ weeks have left me, which seems silly. I can't ever remember feeling so worn out, even running 50+ miles a week. My speed workouts have been fine but my last two threshold workouts were the worst I can ever remember in terms of just plain not being able to run the target paces, by more than a little. So another part of me has not felt that confident about this 10K at all.

Monday, August 28, 2017

SJRNRHM Week 9 of 14: Heyyyy I'm running a race next week......

You guys, I feel like I have to acknowledge the lack of interesting posts lately. Honest, I've started like three real, actual blog posts that are not just semi-coherent rambling followed by a training log but it seems like I never have the time or energy to finish any of them. We have no kitchen and are about to have no bathroom. We're moving out of our house today for probably the next three or four months (basically, until our bathroom is done and can functionally go back to living there) and still have about ten thousand decisions to make, which will be closely followed by at least ten thousand tasks that go along with those decisions (ie, make a final decision on the bathroom tile, then deal with ordering and storing the bathroom tile). I looked at about seven hundred bathroom faucets on Saturday and nearly had a nervous breakdown after. My living room is a nightmare of hastily stuffed cardboard boxes and tile samples. I can't even think about the eight different rooms we have to choose paint colors for.

This is how I feel some days.

So, yeah. As much as I'd rather be writing clever blog posts, it's not where my head's been lately.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017


Did you manage to survive the eclipse?? Hopefully no squirrels speaking to you with the face of a child or cats & dogs living together??

We had about 76% totality here & although my camera refused to fully cooperate, there were some cool pinhole leaf images.

There's a partial eclipse in there somewhere....

Running-wise, week 8 wasn't a *terrible* week, but it also wasn't exactly the week I'd planned. As usual, things got off to a pretty decent start with morning strength work and karate on Monday and a solid speed session (9.5 miles) at the track on Tuesday. All paces were hit and nothing felt weird or off.

That is, until I got home, and noticed that some of the painful spots in my shins from the week before had returned. And there was one tender painful spot in particular on the left side that did not get better as the evening went on, and in fact the pain was bad enough to be actively annoying and keep me up half the night and irritate me the entire next day at work.

Generally, I don't freak out too much about painful shins. I've always gotten shin splints, and after years of seeing a wide range of professionals and trying every imaginable intervention on earth, I've come to the conclusion that they're largely due to tight calves, so I do try to roll and stretch them out as much as possible (y'know. When I think about it).

It used to be that the possibility of a real-life-honest-to-god stress fracture was a kind of bogey man that scared the crap out of me any time the shin splints got bad or started to feel a little more localized, but it always went away without ever showing any of the really tale-tell signs of a stress fracture. So shin pain became sort of this ritual where I'd wring my hands and whisper to myself, "Gee, I hope I don't have a stress fracture" but then also roll my eyes at myself going, "For the last time, chill, you so do not have a stress fracture." But, that was before I lived through two of them, so these days they feel a lot more like a legitimate concern.

(For the idly curious: PTs guessed that the first sfx--fibula, left leg--was a result of using my left leg to compensate for worrying about the recently torn muscle in my right hip, and the second--tibia, also left leg--was a result of trying too hard to shift my form to running on the middle of the ball of my foot rather than the outside, which is more my natural tendency (and once left me with tendinitis in both feet). In neither situation was I running even *remotely* a lot, nor had I made any changes in terms of footwear or running surfaces, which I just mention because although those are the most common reasons for stress fractures, they can happen for other reasons, too.)

This pain on Tuesday and Wednesday was weird in that it definitely felt like bone pain (once you've had a bone injury you will never mistake it for anything else) and definitely felt localized to one spot, but I did not have pain while walking, running, or hopping on one leg (key sfx indicators). Also the spot felt as if it was right behind my tibia, right where the muscle attached, which made me wonder if it was some kind of weirdness where my (inevitably over-tight) calf muscles were pulling on the bone in some way and that was what was causing the pain.

Cue allllll the rolling

There was no karate on Wednesday so I'd planned an easy 8-10 miler, but given that the spot on my shin had been aching all day, I figured it was smarter to skip the run and instead take a big dose of extra calcium & then grab a nap. (Fun fact: Not sleeping enough increases your risk of stress fractures, because deep sleep is when your body releases a lot of the hormones that do the work of rebuilding tissue damage from exercise.)

Thankfully by Thursday everything felt normal, though I still felt really, really tired. (Fun fact #2: Lately I've felt like I'm running 60 miles a week rather than low to mid 40s, for which I blame stress, lack of sleep, and not eating as well as I should be largely due to lacking a kitchen.) Friday and Saturday went fine, and on Sunday I had a 14 mile long run schedule; alas, it was cut short due to basically giving myself donut poisoning that morning (don't ask) so I ended up with only 10.3 miles.

So, yeah. It's been a week!

* * * Rock 'N Roll San Jose Half: Week 8 of 14 * * *