Monday, July 9, 2018

From Scratch

OH HEY THERE RUNNING. Long time, no see.

Hi there friends! It's been a while, but these last couple of weeks I've actually gotten out on the roads & put some miles on my (frail, weak) legs.

My original plan had been to start running again around June 15, which would let me pull off close to the same post-running break plan as in 2016--about 2 months of base training followed by three weeks of speed work & a 10K in early September. Unfortunately, the rest of my life didn't really cooperate. The week of June 11, we had The Ring Cycle most nights which often meant leaving work early just to make the show on time. (Weekday morning running isn't really feasible for me unless I want to get on the gym treadmill, and that just really was not how I wanted to do my first few runs back.) I was in SoCal in a hotel the week of June 17th & went to the trouble of packing all my running clothes, only to arrive at the hotel & discover I had forgotten my shoes. So it was the 25th when I finally went for my first post-B2B run instead of the 15ish, but, eh, you work with what life gives you.

(Vaguely related: OMG if you ever get the chance to see an entire, full Ring Cycle performed, dooooo itttttt! Yes it is ~17 hours of opera over four nights but it is SO! DAMN! GOOD! you won't even notice. I studied it extensively in music school & watched a number of video clips for different assignments but had never seen even one of the actual operas performed live. Seeing SF Opera do a full cycle with an *amazing* cast was 100% worth getting tickets two years ahead of time & eating dinner at 5:30pm for four days.)

I'd charged up my watch during the previous weeks but by 6/25 it was dead again, so that day I just did a little jogging around the neighborhood as I ran errands, a grand total of about 2.7 miles from our temporary place to my doctor to the pharmacy and then back home again. After two months of no running and really almost no cardio at all, I expected that I would feel like it did when I took a month off after my first marathon, or when I went to Ireland for three weeks and did nothing but sit on a bus and eat dairy and drink whisky--that is, like an elephant with emphysema. But this run felt....weirdly comfortable. Or, rather, the downhill and flat parts felt comfortable; going up hill was noticeably harder!

Now, that day since I went watchless, I had no idea what my pace or heart rate was and I didn't really care much; it just felt to go out & get my legs moving. But since then I've been trying to stick pretty faithfully to the base training protocol that's worked well for me in the past, which is to try to keep my heart rate between 140-155, no matter how slow I have to go. When I've done this in the past after a break, it's not uncommon to find myself running 11-12-13+ minute miles in order to keep my heart rate that low, and in the beginning I often find I even have to walk up hills or take brief walk breaks, but after 2-3 months I eventually get back to easily running 9-10 minute miles at that same heart rate. So yes, I'm going quite slow right now, but it's actually been pretty nice to ease back into running and know that not pushing things and staying nice & comfortable is exactly what I should be doing for the next few weeks in order to eventually get my speed back.

I haven't done *quite* as much running as I would have liked due to some work stuff and the fact that we've been busy moving back into our house (**SQUEEEE!!!!**) and cleaning all the things and trying to get organized oh and also entertaining guests, but I've been pleasantly surprised at a) how good running has felt and b) how easily I've been able to up the mileage without really feeling it. After that initial 2.7 mile run, I started with four milers, then six when that felt fine, and finally eight after about a week and a half. Having never taken a break this long, I guess I sort of expected that even four miles would feel tough and that eight or ten would feel impossible. But to be honest I still feel like I could probably run about as far as I wanted. (I just wouldn't be doing it very fast, or at least not for very long.)

I've been fairly diligent with strength work over the last month or so, which I know for me is an important piece of the injury-free puzzle. I think this past week I ran about 22 miles and would be super happy this coming week to break 30 or so.

Happy July, all! :D

Monday, June 11, 2018

Race Discount Code! (And, Building a Race Season)

I was thinking about it the other day and realized that since I started running marathons in December 2011, there's been extremely little time when I haven't had one on the calendar *somewhere*. After CIM 2011, I waited maybe 6-8 months to sign up for CIM 2012. I signed up for Mountains 2 Beach 2013 before CIM 2012, and then after M2B I had a gap of about three months before I signed up for the 2014 Napa Valley Marathon (which I deferred a year because of a stress fracture). But other than those two gaps, at least as well as I can remember, I have always had a marathon somewhere on my race calendar, even if it was a nearly year and a half out.

It's pretty safe to say that I'm feeling satisfied on that front, for now; after so many marathons where something went wrong, I spent a long time feeling like I had unfinished business with the whole thing and just wanted one good, solid 26.2 where my training went well and I didn't get sick or injured and the weather cooperated. I feel like I finally got that at CIM 2016, but of course after that there was no question but that I was then going to run Boston (and Big Sur!) since I had the opportunity and might never get it again.

At this point, though, I'm feeling pretty good on that count & like I don't need to run another marathon again for a good long while. (Maybe when I age up next, in 2021, or in time to qualify for 2021 Boston in my new age group? We'll see.)

What I'm really itching to do now is get back to running fast stuff again. I may have run two marathons 13 days apart, but I haven't been able to finish a 5K without blowing out a calf muscle since December 2015, and gosh darnit, that needs to change. I want to run 5Ks and 10Ks in & around my backyard, maybe some cross country, maybe some track meets.

UCSF Diabetes Center Holiday Classic 5K, December 2015

I've got RNR San Jose Half in October but that might be the longest race I run for a while. Right now the other thing I'm actually signed up for is Race to the End of Summer 10K, in San Jose on Sept. 2. Which, hey! Speaking of which! If you want to run a reasonably flat & fast 5K, 10K, or half on that day, you can take $7 off the registration price with code AK2018. That makes it $23 for the 5K, $28 for the 10K, and $48 for the half, tough to beat for a real, actual, proper road race these days.

I ran the 10K in both 2016 and 2017 and, though it can be warm depending on the day (hi, South Bay in late summer!), it's a solid course and a well organized event with cool swag for all distances. I'll be taking another crack at the 10K myself--come say hi!

No, I will never not post this picture when I talk about this race.

They always have cool medals at this race.

After RNR San Jose on October 7, I want to keep the momentum going with some other short, fast stuff. I have always wanted to dip my toe back into cross country, so once the schedule comes out we'll see if there's a race or two I might be able to jump into; there also tend to be all kinds of local holiday-themed 5Ks & 10Ks. The truth is that while I think all this marathon training for so long has helped me get really good at a certain kind of suffering, I feel like I've gotten out of practice with the kind where you just hurl yourself face-first into blinding white-hot agony for 5-10-15-20-40 minutes.

Local peeps, any favorite fall/winter short races you'd recommend? I'm hoping to get maybe one thing on the calendar in November & one more in December.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

When the Itch Comes Back

No, this is not a TMI post about some kind of dermatological problem; rest assured I am rash- and pest-free and have not been going barefoot in the gym shower.

Believe it or not, we're talking about the itch to run.

Like I kind of mentioned in this post, since I started training "seriously" (whatever that means) about nine years ago, I've never *really* given myself permission to take an extended break from running. If you don't count serious injuries, I think the longest amount of time I've gone without running since 2009 was about a month, after my first marathon in 2011. Other than that, I don't think I've ever taken off more than a week, maybe two but maybe not, when I've been completely healthy and physically able to run.

After B2B, though, I needed to. Like obviously I needed some physical recovery time but I also felt like I just needed some time mentally away not just from training but any kind of running at all. It was almost like having a little bit of a running hangover; I didn't even want to jog across the street to make a light.

I wanted to come home from work and go work on my house, or read a book, or work on a grant proposal, or just freaking sit on the couch and watch an episode of Quantico. (Do not watch that show, btw, it is awful. It's too late for me but there may be hope still for you.)

I wanted to run errands and grocery shop and cook without constantly looking at the clock.

I wanted to go out to eat or to a BBQ or have friends over and not overthink every bite and sip that went into my mouth.

I wanted to go to karate and not be exhausted, to have my legs feel light and snappy and like I could spar full speed with other black belts and not endanger myself.

So I did. And it has been So. Great. If you've generally been in the habit of jumping from training cycle to training cycle, never taking more than a week or two off either because of fear of losing fitness or gaining weight or FOMO or peer pressure or just plain suppressing any inkling of desire to take an extended break from running, I highly *highly* recommend it.

I kind of felt like I wanted to start training mid-June-ish for my September 10K and October half, but I never put a hard and fast timeline on it. Something I definitely did NOT want to do was try to start training again if it was going to feel like a chore. Basically, every morning I'd wake up and ask myself, "Do I feel like running today? Even just 2-3 miles, maybe?"

And every day, the answer was, "Nope! Not even a little. 100% into chores/errands/renovations work/Netflix & wine." I've even (mostly) kept up with my blog reading, which in the past has sometimes made me want to go register for all the things. But this time my response was more, "WOO GO SO-N-SO!!" {as I sit back & turn on HBO & refill my glass of pinot.}

This past weekend, though, I have to say there was just a glimmer of an itch. My painful toenail finally fell off. My massage therapist has very nearly turned my steel cable (her words) adductors back into flesh & blood. Being semi-sedentary is starting to lose just a *bit* of its glamor.

I'm not saying I want to go smash something at the track. I'm not saying I want to go run 20 miles, or even 10. Some little aches & pains that I assumed were running related have not yet fully healed or gone away, and I haven't spent quite as much time in the gym or doing mobility work as I'd planned to this month.

Still. I was reading a blog post on Saturday about someone reaching a half marathon milestone time goal by less than 30 seconds and how amazing it felt, and for just a second I thought, "I WANT TO DO THAT! (Maybe, sort of? Semi-soonish?)"

So, yeah. I finally dug back into the running bag I never completely unpacked after Big Sur. I plugged in my watch (completely dead, of course) and fished out my road ID. There's technically a training plan for my 10K & half loaded into RunCoach but I'm a long way from ready to jump into it, so maybe sometime this week I'll head out to one of the local trails on the way home from work and set my watch to show nothing but time of day & heart rate & see how it feels to jog two or three nice easy miles. Just a little something to get the legs moving, and then we'll go from there.

Monday, June 4, 2018

The Art of Racing in the Rain (er, an Utter Deluge)

The year was 2012.

I'd run my first marathon a year before in what I thought was a pretty decent time for me, considering it was my first and *especially* considering that I'd been sick recently & run the whole thing with an asthma attack. 2012 had been a pretty epic year for me running-wise; in spite of not really training all that hard, I'd PR'd the 5K, 10K, and half marathon, and could not wait to take my second crack at the full. Since CIM had been so good to me the year before, I saw no reason to mess with any other race and signed up to run it again the first week of December.

Fast forward to the night before the race, with forecasters using words like "winter typhoon" and "atmospheric river" and "pineapple express". Weather people predicted multiple inches of rain between 5am & 10am (so, like, *right* during the race window) and 20-40mph headwinds. Several of us stayed the night before the race with Courtney's parents, just a short car ride from the start, and were definitely feeling more than a little trepidation about the weather.

This shot of Heather's will never not be the one I include
in any discussion of CIM 2012. Because, no. NO, SERIOUSLY.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Adventures with Iron Deficiency, Part 3

(Once more for those in the back -- I AM NOT A DOCTOR OR NUTRITIONIST. I basically just read the internet. Below is what worked for me, but that doesn't mean everyone should do it, and you should definitely *definitely* not start taking an iron supplement without having your levels checked because you CAN get iron poisoning, and some people have a condition that keeps their iron levels abnormally high. Just sayin'.)


We've been talking iron deficiency (not the same thing as anemia) this week on the blog. You might want to catch up on Part 1 & Part 2 before dividing into Part 3, in which we talk about how I ultimately fixed my low ferritin issues.

Adventures with Iron Deficiency, Part 1

Adventures with Iron Deficiency, Part 2

When we left off, I'd just learned about a month before the Boston Marathon that my ferritin was at 13 ng/mL. Normal for sedentary couch potato pre-menopausal women is 12-300 ng/mL, but female athletes training a lot--particularly runners--generally need to be around 30 ng/mL at a bare minimum and many feel weak and exhausted unless they're closer to 45 or 60.

I'd also learned that raising low ferritin numbers often requires getting 60-180 mg of iron a day (four to 12 times the couch potato recommendation of 15 mg per day) and I'd been eating more like 22 mg. And, also, that it's virtually impossible to consume this much iron through food alone. Ergo, supplements.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Gravity's Rainbow Cross-Post

(For anyone who wants to read along but doesn't necessarily want to do it on Facebook.)

Going by the Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition (776 pages), we have all agreed to do our level best to read through the top of p. 38 by next Monday. (Last sentence = "Well, thought Pirate, guess I'll go back in the Army...") If you have a different edition, it's roughly 4.8% of the way in. Our consensus was to shoot for 5 pages per day/35 pages per week.

I'm not an ELA teacher but I've had the benefit of working with many many good ones, so I've suggested that while you read, look for 1-2 sentences/ passages/ parts/ whatever that either impress you (*), confuse you (?), or utterly blow your mind (!). On the Facebook group we are then posting/responding to our */?/!, so if you want to post yours in comments here, go for it. Or, hey, if that doesn't work for you & something else does, cool! Do that & tell us about it.

I've been told not to worry too much about trying to catch and understand every single reference in the book because you will literally spend your entire life chasing down references & background information. If you're planning to read along, I would just prepare yourself to sometimes go, "Hm, ok, don't know what that was about. {shrug}" and move on. This isn't a Pynchon PhD program we're doing, here!


***Le Reading Schedule***
(Penguin Classic Deluxe Edition, 776 pages. It doesn't break up perfectly into 35-page chunks but each week's section is generally within 5-10 pages of 35.)

May 28-June 3: pp. 3-38 / 4.9% (“Well, thought Pirate, I guess I’ll go back in the Army…”)

June 4-10: pp. 39-74 / 9.5% (“No sleep tonight. Probably no chance even to catch a cup or cigarette on route. Why?”)

June 11-17: pp. 74-116 / 14.9% (“…her hair not bluntly Dutch at all, but secured in a modish upsweep with an old, tarnished silver crown…”)

June 18-24: pp. 116-147 / 18.9% (“The thought of him lost in the world of men, after the war, fills me with a deep dread I cannot extinguish…”)

June 25-July 1: pp. 147-180 / 23.2%(End of Section 1)

July 2-8: pp. 181-208 / 26.8% (“Gingerly he steps across the sill then, not sure if it’s door or high window, inter her deep room.”)

July 9-15: pp. 208-247 / 31.8% (“…and follows Slothrop’s cab out the winding dark road to Raoul’s party.”)

July 16-22: pp. 247-282 / 36.3% (End of Section 2)

July 23-July 29: pp. 283-319 / 41.1% (“Gearin’ up fer thim Rooskies, And Go-round Number Three….”)

July 30-Aug 5: pp. 319-365 / 47% (“But in the Zone, hidden inside the summer Zone, the Rocket is waiting. He will be drawn the same way again….”)

Aug 6-12: pp. 365-398 / 51.3% (“Make a note of that,” orders Tchitcherine. They both start cackling insanely there, under the tree.)

Aug 13-19: pp. 398-440 / 56.7% (“If she lived, the ring would be good for a few meals, or a blanket, or a night indoors, or a ride home….”)

Aug 20-26: pp. 440-464 / 59.8% (“But where is the electric voice now that will ever call for him?”)

Aug 27-Sept 2: pp. 464-500 / 64.4% (“…tears that will add nothing to the whipped white desolation that passes for the Oder Haff tonight….”

Sept 3-9: pp. 500-534 / 68.8% (“You just connected. Can we go after her, now?”)

Sept 10-16: pp. 534-567 / 73.1% (“…inclined over a Sterno fire tending a simmering pot, is that of Major Duane Marvy.”)

Sept 17-23: pp. 567-601 / 77.4% (“…with a dusty chintz drape she’d received from a cousin who had never understood her taste.”)

Sept 24-30: pp. 601-628 / 80.8% (End of section 3)

Oct 1-7: pp. 629-669 / 86.2% (“The colonel, with a last tilt of his head, exposes his jugular, clearly impatient with the—“)

Oct 8-14: pp. 669-714 / 92% (“…in which subscript R is for Rakete, and B for Blicero.”)

Oct 15-21: pp. 714-748 / 96.4% (“He feels he must go with them, but separate, a stranger, no more or less at the mercy of the Zone….”)

Oct 22-28: pp. 748-776 / 100% (End)

Friday, May 25, 2018

GDPR & the Covering of the Ass

This is probably me being paranoid, but hey! Just a quick post & then I don't even have to worry about it anymore.

As you probably know because you use the internet, the European Union’s new General Data Protection Regulation law goes into effect today. (You've probably noticed a weirdly large number of "We're updating our privacy policy!" emails from various online organizations where you have accounts.) Basically it says that if you collect & do stuff with the personal data of EU citizens, you have to tell them, or else pay massive fines. This probably doesn't effect me but hey, there's some EU traffic up in here, so let's just do the due diligence & be done with it.

Do I collect personal data on this site? Aside from not accepting anonymous comments so there is *some* kind of info you have to enter for that, I'll just copy & paste what John Scalzi said because he said it so well:

"I personally am not (and never have) collecting any information about anyone, other in the very general sense of reading and comprehending whatever bits of personal information people leave in their comments. That said, I don’t do anything commercial with any of that — I don’t mine my comment threads for personal data, and certainly don’t comb through them for commercial purposes. It’s not that kind of site, and I’m really not that interested. Doing any of that requires work and effort that I have no desire to do."

All I really want to do is ramble into the void and occasionally ramble back and forth with other weirdos who are as running-preoccupied as I am. I have no interest in monetizing this blog, its visitors, or whatever data trail they happen to leave. I don’t even use sales affiliate links (and if that ever changes, I'll be transparent about it). So rest easy.

Does Blogger collect personal data on this site? Almost certainly. Ie, if you comment, you probably get a cookie left in your browser to make things more efficient for you in the future. Like every other online entity, I am certain Blogger is doing whatever it is they have to do in order to comply with the GDPR. I'm pretty sure there's nothing else I need to do about that but if I learn that there is, I will certainly do it.

So, long story short, another Scalzi quote: "Basically, we’ll just keep on doing what we’re already doing here. If any of that changes in any significant way, I will let you know."