Friday, March 16, 2018

Boston Marathon Week 13 of 18: Some running was involved.

Man, you guys, I couldn't even call week 13 a mixed bag. It started out with a glimmer of hope but went downhill very very quickly for all kinds of reasons both physical and general life-related until on Sunday night I lay in a hotel bed in Texas, fuming over what a waste most of the week and weekend had been and over the fact that I could barely walk comfortably and also had to get on a plane back to SF in like five hours.

~*~*~ Boston Marathon: Week 13 of 18 ~*~*~

Grand Total: 22 miles
    * 16.75 easy
    * 2.25 speed
    * 3 pace/tempo

Monday 3/5: Karate / strength work

Tuesday 3/6: 2 warm up, 6 x 200m / 200m jog, 2 @ MP, 6 x 200m / 200m jog 3 x 200m / 200m jog, 3.7 cool down = 10 total

    Oh lordy. Remember when I mentioned last week that there's been a lot of stress lately? This fact was nowhere more in evidence than last Tuesday evening when, already having had *A Day* at work, I drove to the track for my speed workout thinking, "I cannot take even one more setback today or I am absolutely going to burst into tears."

    We all know speed work comes in all different flavors, from 200m sprints to mile or 2K repeats at 10K pace. Some of them I'll grumble about doing on pavement, but, push come to shove (or children's sporstball, as the case may be), I can do them on pavement--namely, the longer and slower types of intervals. 200m sprints, though? No. No; I've always maintained that you can do a lot of things on chewed up, uneven pavement with stoplights and crosswalks and a billion pedestrians but 200m sprints are not one of them. Nope nope nope.

    So when I drove up to Kezar Tuesday night to find not only the track itself closed but the entire stadium, including the upper concrete track where I have done 200m's in a pinch, that was it. There was an ugly little sobbing fit right there in the car because I Just. Could. Not. with one more thing today.

    After that I got out & started jogging through Golden Gate Park. I was not sure what I was going to do today, running wise, but at the very least, whatever it was would require a couple miles of warm up, so I started with that while I tried to figure out what to do.

    I could do the 200m's through the Park and just hope I didn't twist an ankle or collide with someone or get hit by a car.

    I could do Friday's tempo workout (3 x 2 @ HM pace) & do the speed workout on Friday. That did not really solve my problem as I'd be running in Trinity Park in Fort Worth on Friday, ie, not that different than Golden Gate Park surface-wise. Also my legs felt so heavy & slow as I was warming up I wasn't even sure I could run half marathon pace today.

    I could run 10 easy miles and shoe-horn in two workouts and a long run between Thursday and Sunday. Not appealing and given the state of my body lately, not a great idea, either.

    I could run 10 easy miles, do one workout on Thursday or Friday, & replace the other with easy miles. Also not super appealing considering the number of workouts this cycle I have already missed.

    Finally my easy two warm up miles came to an end, and I made a choice: What the heck, I'd experiment with running 200m sprints on the pedestrian walkways in GG Park, and we would find out definitively just how possible and/or problematic it was.

    And boy did I feel silly once I started the first 200m. I thought it would feel weird and sketchy but it wasn't nearly as bad as I expected. I did have to watch my footing a bit and pay attention to others in my path but it wasn't too crowded so I never felt like I had to cut too close to anyone or leap into the grass, and somehow all the distancing worked out so that I never had to negotiate stop lights or crosswalks.

    I'd also been prepared for these 200m (or .125 miles, according to Garmin!) to be a bit slower than running on the track but I actually found myself running them in the 0:43-0:44 range with what felt like less effort than usual. (Of course, this is going by GPS and not the track, so accuracy is never guaranteed.)

    Also, my favorite thing about these little speed/pace sandwich workouts is how, after the fast intervals, I'll start the middle pace section--aiming for ~8:16ish this time--think to myself, "Well this feels about right," and then realize I'm running *an entire minute* per mile too fast! I tried hard to slow it down & hit the right splits, but man, I'd be lying if I didn't say that up to that point all my paces had been feeling easier across the board relative to perceived effort than I think they ever have. [Update: Hold that thought....]

    Alas, the workout didn't go perfectly. In the middle of the third 200m in my second set of six, I tweaked a hamstring in a way that briefly had me cursing, but it wasn't catastrophic. I didn't tempt fate by trying to do the last 200m sprints but I was able to run the rest of the mileage at an easy pace.

Wednesday 3/7: Karate

    I woke up this day with a little niggle in my lower right leg, sort of diffused between my upper Achilles area, the back of my tibia bone (where I occasionally get shin splints), and my sort of inner calf muscle. It wasn't even what I'd call pain, but it was annoying enough that I was glad I didn't have a run that day.

Thursday 3/8: 8 easy 4 easy

    Somehow despite not running the pain in my lower right leg managed to get worse, to the point that I barely made it to two miles this day before I went, "Nope, uh-uh, bad news, ain't doin' it" & turned around. No, it didn't feel like my leg was broken but I knew from experience that it was bad enough that trying to run further on it would be immensely stupid. It was just as well, as I hadn't packed for my weekend in Texas yet & had to get up at 3:30am Friday morning to catch a 6am plane.

Friday 3/9: 2 warm up, 3 x 2 @ HM pace / 2:00 jog, 2 cool down 2 @ HM pace, 2:00 jog, .5 going all out & not even managing marathon pace, easy miles to 8 total, and by "easy" I mean barely staying upright.

    My right leg was feeling much better by the time I got to Texas Friday afternoon, so I decided to try to do my tempo workout at nearby Trinity Park. I felt pretty bad from the start, with heavy legs & like I had to work so hard to even just run at an easy effort (which sounds paradoxical, but I don't know how else to explain it). I did manage to keep up 7:30 pace for the first two mile interval, thought it felt much, MUCH too hard and my heart rate was much too high and the thought of doing two more of those bitches was super demoralizing.

    In the end, though, it didn't matter, because I couldn't run even one more. I had reached the end of the trail & turned around to head back towards the hotel and suddenly found myself running into a crazy headwind. Between that and already feeling awful, I only made it about half a mile at maybe 10K effort but instead of running my HM pace of 7:30/mile I was running more like 8:20-8:40. Finally I just quit and ran back to the hotel for a total of 8 easy miles, though I had to stop for several walk breaks (like every half mile or mile) because I didn't feel like I could stay on my feet otherwise.

    I was super upset about this for a while until I realized that a) it was 90F and 90% humidity out (weirdly, sometimes in Texas if there's cloud cover you can't really tell) and b) I basically hadn't slept the night before. (Contrary to the urban legend, yes, the night of sleep before a run is not less important than the sleep two nights before a run. Who started that effing rumor?? Probably the same fucker who told everyone your max heart rate is 220 minus your age.) Add in the crazy headwind and this run was sort of doomed from the start, I suppose. Ah well.

Saturday 3/10: 6 easy Rest/be pissed off about failed family plans

    Though my right leg had been feeling better, it felt pretty awful again Saturday morning, which was annoying because my family plans fell through and I had all kinds of free time I could have been using to get a run in. But instead I sucked it up and decided to be smart & not run until the leg felt better. (See: The story of this entire effing training cycle.)

Sunday 3/11: 16 long Pretty much a repeat of Sunday.

    My leg hurt. My family plans fell through. I spent the day desperately trying to salvage some kind of productivity & being pissed that I felt like I'd basically wasted an entire precious weekend.

So, not the greatest of weeks, no matter how you slice it. Which, as I look back over the last 13 weeks, seems again to just be the ongoing story of this training cycle. At this point, I just want to be healthy & fit enough to get to Copley Square under my own power. Oh and also be able to run another extremely tough marathon 13 days later. :-/

In summation:


Boston Marathon Week 1 of 18: On your mark, Get set...

Boston Marathon Week 2 of 18: speed, snow, & vertical

Boston Marathon Week 3 of 18: Foiled By Weather & Travel

Boston Marathon Week 4 of 18: There's "hills" and then there's HILLLZZ

Boston Marathon Week 5 of 18: Not the greatest of weeks...

Boston Marathon Week 6 of 18: Winter Running: Take 2

Boston Marathon Week 9 of 18: Grumpy Hip is Grumpy

Boston Marathon Week 10 of 18: "altitude training" + should I run a birthday 10K?

Boston Marathon Week 11 of 18: How Not to Plan Your Training Week

Boston Marathon Week 12 of 18: Mixed Bag

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Pros & Cons of Going Carless

Back in January I was savagely rear-ended on the freeway by some idiot going 90-100mph and somehow managed to escape without injury or crashing my car into the freeway divider or another car. (Like, it was a close thing. I cannot BELIEVE how lucky I was.) While I was fine, my 2005 Honda Civic Hybrid was totaled. AAA towed it to a body shop for me, but the kind manager there very gently informed me that repairing it would involve essentially rebuilding the back half of the car, and that I'd just done $10,000+ worth of damage to a car that at this point was worth *maybe* $4,000.


Sure enough, my insurance company concurred, and although I had to pay my $1,000 deductible since it was a hit & run, I still received a $3,200+ check for the remaining value of the car. (I am told that I may still get $800 or so of that back, because I had uninsured motorist coverage.) So that was something.

I'd like to say that I was all very objective and rational about this process but that is not the case. At least twice that day and two more times in the following week I broke down sobbing over that car, not over practical concerns of not having a car, but because that particular car and I had been though so damn much together. My parents never had the money to get me a car, so I was carpooling and biking it up until I got my first post-school grown-up job offer letter at age 24. The day I got a paper copy of it in hand, I rode my powder blue bike from my campus dorm to the Honda dealership 3 miles away, walked in, pointed at the car, & said, "I would like that one, please, here is a down payment."

(Fun fact: I knew nothing about car shopping. I said "That one please" and they said "All right, that will be $xx,xxx" and I said "Sounds good, where do I sign?" I did end up getting it a bit cheaper because they didn't have the color I wanted & I kept bugging them about getting the other one for me from a different dealership, so maybe in the end it was all a wash. But I will never forget the look on my dad's face when I explained to him how all this went down & he was like, "You're kidding, right? Please tell me you're kidding.")

Anyway, that car had been with me through my entire adult life. Cross-country trips to visit family & boyfriends when I couldn't afford plane tickets. De facto living quarters during a few periods of homelessness. My one real worldly asset when I quit my job in 2010 without a plan. (Though thankfully I'd just paid the car off!) I spent so much time stressing about something happening to that car because no, it was not fancy, but it was the only way I had in the world of generating an income, and there was no way I could possibly afford to replace it. It was kind of startling to realize how emotionally attached I'd become to it, but I am not too proud to say I gently stroked the steering wheel before I got out of it for the last time and told it how sorry I was. I just didn't expect to say goodbye so soon, but I suppose we never are.

In the immediate aftermath, my brain went "F*********ck, now I have to engage in that most unsavory of all grown-up rituals, car shopping." (Or is that visiting the DMV? Shit, I can't remember.) I started doing budget calculations and cringing at how I've gotten used to not having a $420 car payment every month, then trawling the internet to try to get some idea of the 2018 automotive scene. Don & I talked about it, going back & forth about the pros & cons of different types of cars, new or used, gas or electric or something in between.

And then he said hesitantly, "Is it worth asking whether we really need another car right now?"

Which stopped me in my tracks because I had never considered not getting another car as fast as humanly possible.

I mean, it was an option. He has a car, and has only been driving it to work in SF because virtually all street parking is neighborhood parking and we don't have a permit for our temporary digs. It would be easy for him to take public transit to work 90% of the time so I could drive the car to my office (a ~30 mile commute), and my work is generally flexible enough for me to work from home on days when he needed to drive. Besides, there are car services, rental cars, & car sharing apps in the world, and the cost of all that is almost guaranteed to come out to less than the cost of a monthly car + insurance payment.

So, that's what we've been doing lately. There are some pluses, but also some minuses:


  • I am spending less time driving and less time looking for parking, both things I hate in this life. I don't love taking car services but not dealing with parking is .
  • No insurance bill
  • No car maintenance bills (not that mine were all that high)
  • I didn't have a car payment before, but I would if I were to get a new car so that's nice.
  • I am not constantly worried about parking a car on the street in SF. Before I lived in constant fear of break-ins (which I've been a victim of twice) and street cleaning tickets. (Last thought every night before going to sleep, without fail: Where is my car parked & is it safe there until I get up in the morning?)


  • I have to drive Don's car when I drive to work. It's a fancy sports car so it can be fun to drive, but I also find it a little more difficult to drive than my car. It's also a little bigger so a bit harder to park, and gets way, WAY worse gas mileage which pretty much wipes out any gas savings due to driving a little less.
  • Less flexibility. Yes, it's nice that I can work from home sometimes if Don needs the car, but if he does take the car, it's a little less easy for me to just pop out for a quick errand or two. Our temporary digs are not super walkable to almost anywhere, so I have to think pretty hard about how badly I really need to go where I want to go.
  • Related, if I run from the house, I have to do the massive 3-4 blocks of 15% grade down and back up, which really sucks, and if I want to do a track workout, sometimes I have to actually run to the track first, which sometimes sucks depending on how long the workout is. I used to drive my car down the hill to run & then drive back up, but you're really not supposed to do that with Don's car (gas mileage, engine wear & tear) so I don't.
  • Related, Don is driving the car to Tahoe the weekend of the Oakland Marathon, so I'll have to rent a car to go to that as BART doesn't run early enough for the marathon start.
  • So many Lyft rides, you guys. Sooooo many.
  • It's a little harder to do transportation-related favors for others, which I always felt was part of the responsibility of having a car.

I DO plan to get another car sometime this year, mostly likely when our place is done and we move back in and actually put Don's car in the garage and see how much space is left. My car was small and the garage was designed with the dimensions of our cars in mind with little room for error, plus there are always small real-world adjustments any time you're doing construction. I'm hoping I'll be able to get some kind of electric car (I always said I wanted my next car to be electric, I just didn't think it would be so soon!), as we put a drop in the new garage and I would love to offset a car payment with some gas savings.

I'm kind of into these older Chevy Volt hatchbacks, TBH.

The nice thing is, I think the above minuses of going without a car for a while will make me extremely appreciative of finally having one again, in spite of having a car payment again for the first time in 8+ years.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

I am hella disappointed in the Oakland Marathon

Wow, this training cycle is just flying by (sometimes for better, sometimes for worse)! Given that I just did my first 20+ miler last weekend, it seems kind of crazy that I'm just two weeks away from my longest training run--the Oakland Marathon on March 25.

I have run the Oakland Half Marathon three times (again, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse!), but I've never run the full. I mainly signed up for it because kind Jen shared her discount code, it fell on the same day as my last fast finish 23 miler, and doing three miles more seemed infinitely more appealing than running the half and shoehorning in ten more miles before and/or after. But it's also well known as a somewhat hilly course, and given that both Boston & Big Sur have their share of solid hills, I thought it would be a nice addition to my training.

So, I was disappointed to hear that with less than a month until race day, Corrigan Sports changed the course in a way that made it not only flatter but also less interesting and scenic. Instead of winding through all the different neighborhoods of Oakland, the course now mainly just meanders repetitively around downtown and an industrial port area.

There was quite a lot of backlash on the Oakland Running Festival facebook page when the changes were announced. CSE did respond with an explanation of why the course was changed, but I must admit I found it a bit confusing.

Clearly, I wasn't he only one with questions:

    "This is a huge disappointment and will likely be my last marathon with you guys if this course is the new norm. While the views are, I'm sure, great, the draw of ORF was visiting all the diverse neighborhoods that make Oakland so great....Running around the port takes that entire experience away....Runners who want to run a marathon but can't handle a hill?? Just ugh."

    "There are plenty of flat marathons to choose from - Oakland should be hilly!!! ... I have chosen this marathon because of the hills, challenging course, and neighborhoods and community. I can’t get out of this year, but will not return if your goal is to attract runners who hate hills and leave out huge swaths of the Oakland community we love on the course."

    "I'm glad I waited to sign up as I will not be running this year due to this course. Miles 4 through 11 have a view of SAN FRANCISCO skyline and runs through a concrete jungle where no one lives and no one to cheer on the runners. I've run this race every year but the first and it was a hard decision not to keep up my medal count but I hate this course and won't run in the ORF if this is what it will be in the future."

    "Really? The original route had been posted for months. If the route actually wasn't confirmed, then WHY wouldn't you let potential registers know ahead of time (let me guess, $$$). I call BS on all of this. No marathon is going to come up with final route 30 days before the race."

    "I hate to pile onto the continued feedback, but I would like to respond to your last point on the timing of the announcement...Running a great race is usually the result of sometimes months of thoughtful preparation and training, and many marathoners have worked up to 18 or 20 mile training runs at this point with a very different course in mind...It would even have made a difference if some variation of "exciting course changes are in the works" were mentioned during signup."

My question is, was it changed because runner polls really did show a desire for a flatter, faster course?

  • If so, why not just leave it at the first bullet point? Why add the other vague explanations as well?
  • If this was the real reason, why is the change being implemented *right* before the race? Getting permits, etc. does take time, so why not just get through this year with the old course and then change for 2019 when runners could be informed of the new course from the beginning and have plenty of time to prepare for the new course?
  • The San Francisco Marathon is hillier than the original Oakland course (not to mentioned MUCH pricier) and still seems to draw plenty of runners, so it's hard to believe that "marathoners don't want to run hills" is really the issue.
  • Also it sure does seem like a lot of people really were in it for the hills.
  • Flat or not, one glance at the course and it is imminently clear that there is *nothing* even remotely fast about it, so maybe just leave that part out.

As for the second bullet point about "amazing views," this change has taken the full from a cool tour of Oakland with some neat views of the town to one with views of...a concrete jungle and the San Francisco skyline? It just doesn't make any sense at all.

Or was it just an issue with permits/traffic/other events? If so, again, just say so and leave it at that, instead of getting into how more runners want a flatter course and now there are "amazing views." I know that sometimes things come up with construction or other events and things have to be changed or cancelled but when that's happened with events I've been registered for in the past, the organizers just came right out and said it. "Sorry, we ran into permit issues, here's the course we've got, have a deferral on us if you're not into it" or "We couldn't find a work-around so the event is cancelled, have a deferral on us." It happens. At the very least it would have been nice to get a heads up that a potential or likely course change was in the works, given that people were training for a very particular terrain profile.

So, I dunno. It just does all seem a bit sketchy that it was all so last minute with no notice and there's all these different explanations that feel like they don't all quite jive. Whatever, I'll still show up and run the full if I can; I'm just a little disappointed that it won't be the same cool Oakland experience nor the character-building hills that I paid for.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Discount Code: Race to the End of Summer!

Hi Bay Area friends,

Just a quick reminder about one of my new favorite local races as you begin to think about your fall race schedule. In both 2016 and 2017 I ran the Race to the End of Summer 10K in San Jose, and had a great time! There's also a 5K as well as a half marathon option. AND, I have a sweet $7 discount code (AK2018) for you to use for any distance.

The race is Sunday, September 2, & takes place near the Coyote Creek trail in San Jose. It's not a super pricey event, BUT the first increase is coming up on March 15, so if you register soon and use the code, that's $18 for the 5K, $23 for the 10K, or $43 for the half. Not a bad deal!


Oh lordy I won something!

2017 - BT & Jen!

Erin & Jen!

Wolf Pack hijinks!

It's a small local even, which I tend to really enjoy, and both years things were very well run and well organized. There were plenty of helpful and enthusiastic volunteers, and the courses are pretty fast and flat (just a couple of small rollers here & there), all on paved closed roads or trail. And if swag is your thing, there's a nice medal for all three distances.

You don't have to take my word for it! You can also read Erin's race report about the half, and Jen reviewed the 10K.

So, yeah. If you're local and looking for a low-key, well-done 5K, 10K, or half for a reasonable price on an extremely reasonable course as the summer winds down, I can 100% recommend this one.

(And also get you $7 off! ;) )

Boston Marathon Week 12 of 18: Mixed Bag

This week had its ups and downs. Ups included getting myself on the treadmill on a work trip for an 11+ mile pace workout and also getting my first 20+ miler of the cycle in the books; downs included doing only three runs and spending a couple of days fighting ALL NEW AND EXCITING is-it-or-isn't-it injury demons. Like come on, now, body. Enough of this horse poo.

Now, obviously, although my top priority is to be healthy enough to run and finish this race at all, I'm still planning to try to run as fast as I can, whatever that happens to be on race day. But as I look back over the last 12 weeks it's hard not to see a smoking, scorched-earth landscape littered with the debris of missed workouts and low mileage weeks. Oof. Not pretty.

I don't know if it's all the travel or the stress (and there is a LOT of stress right now not related to running, between work and travel and, oh yeah, the logistical nightmare that is Boston 2 Big Sur with a national speaking engagement right smack-dab in between the two) or maybe age is finally beginning to catch up with me. But man. The injury gods are not happy.

But I'm not calling it a lost cause yet! We've still got six solid weeks left, here, and I'm determined to wring every last bit of preparation out of them that my body will allow.

~*~*~ Boston Marathon: Week 12 of 18 ~*~*~

Grand Total: 38.25 miles
    * 10 easy
    * 7.25 pace/tempo
    * 21 long

Monday 2/26: Rest / fly to SoCal

    A MUCH deserved rest day after last week.

Tuesday 2/27: 2 warm up, 60:00 aerobic threshold (ie, 8:16ish), 2 cool down = 11.25 total

    Treadmill workouts are their own circle of hell, particularly longer ones, particularly when you're in an otherwise quiet hotel fitness center & the only other person in there is running at a cadence that completely clashes with yours in a way that's absolutely crazy making oh and also he's hitting one of those beepy treadmill buttons literally every thirty seconds. Thankfully when you've got 11+ treadmill miles to run no one else is ever in there that long by comparison, so that's something. I guess. File under "things I really really really REALLY did not want to do after a long work day" but also "things I did anyway because it's effing on the schedule."

    (Are you sad that there's no picture of my feet standing on a treadmill?)

    (Are you really?)

Wednesday 2/28: Rest / fly home.

    I woke up this day with a little niggle in my lower right leg, sort of diffused between my upper Achilles area, the back of my tibia bone (where I occasionally get shin splints), and my sort of inner calf muscle. It wasn't even what I'd call pain, but it was annoying enough that I was glad I didn't have a run that day.

Thursday 3/1: 6 easy.

    Just a slow, tired recovery shuffle. My leg didn't hurt much while I was running, maybe 1 out of 10, but the next morning it hurt (like, eye-watering pain) to even put weight on it. Cue hysterical panic.

Friday 3/2: 2 warm up + 10 x 1K @ 10K pace / 1:00 jog, 2 cool down = 11 total

    The one good thing I could say about this day was that at least it was clear-cut. There was no oh-should-I-or-shouldn't-I in terms of trying to do the run, not even a mile or two to see how it felt; even walking was super unpleasant so it was definitely a 100% rest day.

    I couldn't tell exactly what it was but I could at least tell that it wasn't bone pain, just soft tissue, and it wasn't sharp, just sort of achey & diffuse, so I hoped that if I played it smart & just gave it a few days of rest, whatever it was would take care of itself. If a miracle occurred, I figured I'd do the speed workout on Saturday.

Saturday 3/3: 4 easy 2 warm up + 10 x 1K @ 10K pace / 1:00 jog, 2 cool down = 11 total

    Definitely an improvement pain-wise, but not enough to try running. Putting weight on it was a still uncomfortable and I was afraid that if I tried to push through it I might get through the workout (maybe?) but then it would be worse the next day.

Sunday 3/4: 21 long

    Despite the torrential rain we'd had earlier in the weekend, Sunday was really about the most perfect weather one could ask for in terms of having to be out running around in it for 3+ hours. It was just warm enough, just cool enough, just sunny enough, with just enough of a breeze. Absolute perfection. Might it be too soon to suggest that spring has sprung?? (Just kidding, lolololol, this is San Francisco.)

    Things didn't feel 100% when I got up Sunday but whatever was going on in my leg was markedly improved, enough that I felt okay going out for a few easy miles, seeing how it felt, & then reassessing. The main thing I've been stressing about this cycle lately has been not getting enough of the long runs in, so I wanted to at least try.

    There was a little pain in the first few miles (.5-1 out of 10, maybe), mostly when I would first start running after a light, and then it would gradually mellow. At first I wasn't sure it was smart to try to go more than 6-8 miles but over time the pain melted away, and by 5-6 miles in I was thinking, "Hey, this 21-miler might just actually happen!"

    In fact, I was kind of surprised how the miles just seemed to roll by and found myself thinking I was going to hit 21 before I knew it feeling great! That lasted until somewhere in the 14-15 range, after which things definitely became more like real work. I didn't struggle to finish or anything, but it was definitely a reminder that, right, I haven't run more than 16 miles since CIM 2016, so I do need to get these 20+ milers in if I don't want to slog my way through Boston.


Boston Marathon Week 1 of 18: On your mark, Get set...

Boston Marathon Week 2 of 18: speed, snow, & vertical

Boston Marathon Week 3 of 18: Foiled By Weather & Travel

Boston Marathon Week 4 of 18: There's "hills" and then there's HILLLZZ

Boston Marathon Week 5 of 18: Not the greatest of weeks...

Boston Marathon Week 6 of 18: Winter Running: Take 2

Boston Marathon Week 9 of 18: Grumpy Hip is Grumpy

Boston Marathon Week 10 of 18: "altitude training" + should I run a birthday 10K?

Boston Marathon Week 11 of 18: How Not to Plan Your Training Week

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Boston Marathon Week 11 of 18: How Not to Plan Your Training Week

So, at least for now, it seems like I've gotten back to a normal training load, just in time to turn 37 last Friday. I decided against the Saturday 10K, for a lot of reasons, including 1) running 6+ miles at 10K race pace is REALLY DIFFERENT than a run-of-the-mill speed or tempo workout, and I don't want to risk my hip relapsing so soon after it's started to feel normal again; 2) I reallllly need to prioritize long runs right now given my distinct lack of them as of late, and racing on Saturday makes a Sunday long run potentially miserable or a bad idea or both (if not impossible); 3) $60 is pretty pricey for a 10K I haven't even really been training for; but mostly 4) I wanted to go out for a fun dinner on my birthday Friday night without having to worry about what I'm eating or drinking and going to bed early and getting up at the butt crack of dawn or feeling like crap at the starting line.

So. I'll race something else later. Right now we are seven weeks out from Boston and it seems prudent to keep one's eye on the prize so to speak.

As for week 11? Well, on the face of things, it looks like, "Hey, wow, a normal-looking marathon training load! Woohoo!" And there's some truth there. My hip has felt 100% completely fine (because you can bet your booty I wouldn't be running this mileage otherwise), and it DOES feel super good to complete all the workouts and finish the full long run and even hit all the paces. (I've even been doing the strength work!) So, in a lot of ways, #winning.

But there was also a little comedy of errors going on this week in terms of how I ended up running all those miles & workouts. So let us talk about how, in an ideal world, one would perhaps NOT structure their training week!

~*~*~ Boston Marathon: Week 11 of 18 ~*~*~

Grand Total: 56.3 miles
    * 27.6 easy
    * 3.7 speed
    * 9 pace/tempo
    * 16 long

Monday 2/19: 10.3 easy + strength work

    I don't do super well when I try to ski consecutive days, so I split this ski trip into three days of skiing interspersed with running. On Monday it had just dumped a bunch of snow and the temperature had dropped, so it was a much different run than two days before. There were deep piles of snow in places and I actually stepped ankle-deep into puddles of freezing cold salt water more than once. (Related: I highly recommend ski socks for running in cold/wet/snowy conditions!)

    I followed the same 10 mile out-and-back from Saturday and my hip felt much better--no pain at all. In fact I'd been thinking that I would just go ahead and make up that long run and see if I could get maybe 16 miles done, but then the wind picked up and despite all my layers I realized at a certain point that I couldn't really feel my face or fingers and that seemed like a bad sign. So 10.3 it was.

    Basically just picture 10 miles of this.

    On its own, there was nothing wrong with doing this run this day, especially since I hadn't done a long run the day before (which is usually why Mondays are my rest days).

Tuesday 2/20: Last day of skiing!

    I'm not sure why but I feel like I was skiing a lot better on this trip than I usual. I was a lot more comfortable on the blacks than I've been in the past and actually found myself getting bored on the blues. I also started trying to work on black moguls some; in the past that's scared the shit out of me but this time I was more like, "Hmmmmm, innnnteresting...." (I even ended the day with a run called Widowmaker, don't tell my mother....)

    Desperately trying to stay warm. It was 3°F when we got up but it warmed up to at least 10°F!

    In an ideal world, this is when I would have done my speed workout, but a) ice/snow/traffic lights/cars, and b) skiing.

Wednesday 2/21: 8 easy

    Since my hip had been feeling fine, I'd planned to do my big ass, 13-mile speed workout when we got home from the airport, which would have been maybe not ideal but still okay timing-wise. Unfortunately our flight was delayed and traffic was terrible so by the time we got home it was late, dark, and not to mention insanely windy and very cold for SF (low 40's). There was just no way I was running from home to the track, busting out a long ass speed workout, and then running back home, so I settled for 8 easy (cold, windy) miles & called it good.

    (In retrospect, if I'd done the math re: the rest of the week's workouts, I probably would have taken a rest day here but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.)

Thursday 2/22: 2.5 warm up, 3 x 800m @ 5K pace / 2:00 jog; 40:00 @ MP+; 3 x 800m @ 5K pace / 2:00 jog; 1.8 cool down = 13

    So, the big ass speed workout got pushed off to Thursday. Not ideal with another workout and a long run still to go!

    I'm also not too proud to admit that I was shaking in my boots about it, far & away the longest and hardest run I'd have tried since my hip started getting better. I didn't feel like I was doing it out of nowhere, at least; last Tuesday's short, easy track workout had gone fine, and I think the easy 10 milers in Utah were important in laying the foundation a bit for longer workouts. So I figured, what the heck. Let's give this beast a try and see if my luck holds.

    These big ass speed workouts started showing up for me in RunCoach a couple years back, and at the time they scared the shit out of me. Double digit speed work??? Hard intervals and then a pace run and then more hard intervals?? What the actual F. But at this point I've done them enough times to know that they actually aren't all that hard; they just take freaking forever. All you have to do is break them up into chunks and (much like marathon training itself) eat the elephant one bite at a time.

    Warm up? Ain't no thing.

    3 x 800m @ 5K pace? Cool.

    40:00 at marathon pace? If you can't bust that out any day of the week there's a problem.

    3 x 800m redux? Not a problem. (I'm actually surprised by how the back intervals in these workouts often feel easier than the front ones, which I suspect is mostly mental since I'm getting to the end of the workout.)

    Cool down? Done and done.

    The only thing that really sucked about this workout was the weather. GODS it was cold (by SF standards, ie, low 40s) and insanely windy. Describing low 40s as super cold may seem silly after spending a week in mostly single digits or barely above, but in a way, I think that just added insult to injury: I'd been pretty excited about getting back to my tropical(ish) SF winter, & finding yourself instead shivering through a track workout and barely able to feel your fingers and constantly wiping snot on your sleeves (when it isn't blown right off your face) just blows.

    Also, nothing makes me more bitter than crazy wind during a workout. Considering I spent the back stretch of every 800m and about half the MP section feeling like I was barely moving forward, I'm kind of surprised it wasn't harder to hit the paces, and I fully admit to spending a lot of this time grumbling to myself about how this was *completely* unreasonable and there must be *somewhere* I could register a formal complaint. No joke, more than once I actually struggled to stay in lane 1 going around the turns because the wind was that ridiculous.

    But you know what? It fucking got done and I fucking hit every single pace and my hip didn't make a peep.

Friday 2/23: Strength work

    Normally I would have done a short easy run this day, but 1) wow, I REALLY needed a rest day between the 13 mile speed workout & the 9 mile pace workout, and 2) I started doing the math re: this week's mileage and realized it was already looking a bit scary as it was.

    Anyway, it was my birthday, so we had a lovely dinner at The Progress.

    And nocino cake for dessert :-)

Saturday 2/24: 2.5 warm up, 4 @ HM pace, 10 x 100m strides / 100m jog, 2.5 cool down = 9 total

    A great idea: Having a rest day between two workouts in a high mileage week. A less-than-great idea: Having no rest days between a workout and a long run. I know, I know, people do it all the time, and you do what you've got to do, but for me, personally, given the choice, I'd rather have a rest or easy run day between workouts (including long runs). "At least it's not double digits," I kept telling myself when I looked at this workout.

    Also yet another day that it was so windy I felt sure there must be someone I could complain to. I sort of expected to feel tired and crappy after Thursday's double digit speed workout, even with a rest day in between, but *just how* crappy I felt while trying to hit those 8:00 miles kind of amazed me until I remembered that, duh, headwinds make you slow. (Also hills, and there were some hills.) So realistically I probably worked harder on those MP miles than I should have but eh. Whatcha gonna do.

    Mainly, though, I was annoyed that I had worked out this run so that I arrived at the track *precisely* as I completed the last MP mile so I could do the 10 100m sprints, but NOOOO, the effing track had to be closed due to some kind of soccer game (BAH). You can't really do 100m sprints safely on an uneven sidewalk full of pedestrians (or at least I can't), even if you know how far 100m even is off the track, so I ended up cutting these. (Sorry, RunCoach, hope they weren't critical....)

Sunday 2/25: 16 long

    I felt bad about not being able to do my previous two long runs (18 & 20 miles respectively) so even though this week's assignment was only 16, part of me kept thinking, "Maybe I should go a little longer, just to make up for those in some way." That was before I did the math for this week &, holy crappo, I was already closing in on the highest weekly mileage I ran in my last marathon cycle, just going to 16.

    I mean. I know how to add & everything but I'd shuffled things around so much this week & just thrown in easy days here & there randomly, & somehow never actually stopped to count it all up. 56 miles is a reasonable marathon training week for me, but it is a little near the most I've ever run in a week and I had NOT been thinking that's what I'd do as I gradually ramped back up post hip drama.

    So. 16 was plenty, thank you very much. Sunday was windy so it was a bit of a chilly day for that reason, but otherwise completely lovely and I finished the whole thing on somewhat heavy legs but still feeling just fine otherwise. Too lazy to stop for pics so please see for reference every other run I've ever done through GG Park.


Boston Marathon Week 1 of 18: On your mark, Get set...

Boston Marathon Week 2 of 18: speed, snow, & vertical

Boston Marathon Week 3 of 18: Foiled By Weather & Travel

Boston Marathon Week 4 of 18: There's "hills" and then there's HILLLZZ

Boston Marathon Week 5 of 18: Not the greatest of weeks...

Boston Marathon Week 6 of 18: Winter Running: Take 2

Boston Marathon Week 9 of 18: Grumpy Hip is Grumpy

Boston Marathon Week 10 of 18: "altitude training" + should I run a birthday 10K?

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Myth of Balance

A perennial lifestyle meme/debate/whatever you want to call it that bugs the crap out of me has to do with the question of if and how one can "have it all," usually specifically whether women can "have it all." And e'rrrrbody's got an opinion.

Why does it bug the crap out of me? Well, for one, because the phrase "having it all" does NOT in fact refer to having "it all"; it's almost always used as short-hand for having a very specific subset of things: A high-powered successful career, a healthy social life, a reasonably functional relationship (if you feel like it), and of course, the absolutely non-negotiable pièce de résistance, children, because what normal woman could ever *possibly* hope to have a happy, fulfilling life without squirting some crotch spawn out into the world. (Mostly, though, "it all" seems to refer to a super successful career & kids.) Yes, I get that a lot of women do want those things and are sad if they can only have some of them, but those things by no means constitute "all" there is to have in life. It bugs me that society acts like they are. A woman could have all of those things and still feel frustrated and unfulfilled.

Second, it bugs me that society treats women and our life desires as if they're all the same, like all four billion of us want this exact set of things, bomb-ass career, bomb-ass relationship, rockin' social life, reproduction, like it's some sort of cookie-cutter happiness checklist. Newsflash, we DON'T all feel like we need those things to be happy in life. Some of us actively DON'T want some of those things! And the vast majority of us have other non-negotiable items on our happiness checklist. Stop trying to put us all in the same box.

And last but not least, it bugs me because "having it all" is also shorthand for getting everything you want, when you want it, without having to make any compromises or sacrifices. Well, newsflash; no, you can't have it all. No one can. Not men, not women, not anyone. You can have some things that you want. Maybe you can even have everything you want some of the time. But no one gets everything they want all the time without sacrificing or compromising something.

Now, I'm not saying we can't be happy most of the time, but I think the missing piece there is sometimes really thinking through "it all" with a critical eye and really asking yourself what is non-negotiable, what you really need to be happy & fulfilled most of the time, and what you're willing to compromise in order to make those non-negotiables happen. There's not an infinite supply of time, energy, resources, and life hacks in the universe; there's just not.

It's the same when people talk about "life balance" or "balancing everything" (and, yes, of course, again, we are almost *always* talking about women, here). People ask me sometimes how I "balance everything," meaning I guess a pretty busy career that takes me on the road a lot, a long-term relationship, normal life stuff, and, oh yeah, running and training as much as I do. (Which, no, is definitely not all that much compared to professional athletes or even more serious/competitive athletes, but it's still way more than your average person who is just trying to stay reasonably fit & healthy). And sometimes I feel like maybe it's because from the outside it looks magical and amazing and completely impossible and unrealistic and they feel like there is some kind of super magical secret involved.

You want to know the secret? Here's the secret.

    1) "Balancing everything" is really just a nice way of saying "slightly failing at everything all the time."

    2) If you really want to kick ass at something, there IS no "balancing everything."

I think the first thing to remember is that unless you're super close to someone and know what's going on with them on a day-to-day basis all the time, you really do not have a sense of how well they are "balancing" anything. We all know this is how social media works, right? We see people's highlight reels on Teh Internets and every now and then maybe hear about something particularly hard they're dealing with. But we don't see the day-to-day, minute-to-minute sausage-making, all the little micro-failures that are inevitable when you're trying to balance a bunch of hard, time-consuming stuff.

Like maybe you heard about how I trained for & ran a bunch of pretty decent races and spoke at three national conferences and renovated a house with my lovely boyfriend. But you also maybe didn't hear about all the times I was late to work and missed deadlines and missed workouts or let people down and screwed up key tasks with the renovation and ate cereal for dinner or spent my long run wanting to quit running forever and disappointed friends because I didn't get my workout done in time to make it to a social event.

There are failures.




And the not sharing them isn't even about trying to preserve some unrealistic image of what my life is actually like; it's just that all those little micro-failures are so common and so frequent and so much just a part of my everyday life that it just doesn't occur to me that they're particularly noteworthy or that anyone would even care. It's just life. You do the best you can and accept that you're going to screw up a lot and that's better than not trying at all. That's the closest thing there is to real balance, just balancing out all the failure as evenly as possible

Now, can you truly kick ass at something if you decide you want to? Of course you can. But ask any professional athlete, the trade-off there is that there is no balance. If you are running 100+ miles a week and spending who knows how many more hours doing strength work and PT and massage and micro managing your diet and also being sure to sleep 10 hours a day so you can *maybe* have a chance of competing at a national level, you aren't balancing all that with anything. Your social life is probably mostly limited to the people you train with. You probably can't do a bunch of favors for your friends & family members. If you're lucky enough to have a functional relationship, it's probably only because that person 100% gets how important this is for you and is willing to take a massive backseat during your season. If you have kids (and let's not even get into all the complications female pro athletes face when it comes to having kids), again, it's probably only because you have a capital-U Understanding with your partner about what child-related responsibilities you can and can't handle and when. You're probably not the Room Mother or running the PTA fundraiser or picking your offspring up from school every day.

My own (very very micro) version of that was the fall that I trained for my BQ at CIM. I trained more and harder than I ever had before and it paid off, but believe me, there was no balance anywhere. We ate a lot of takeout. Our house was often a mess. I missed a LOT of social events. I took on way less at work. We skipped our usual fall wine tasting trip. A lot of nights I was too tired or too concerned about an early morning to go do anything fun. For those four or so months, there was no balance.

So. To recap.

Can you have "it" "all"? No. But you can think through your priorities (what even is "it all" to you??) and make some decisions about what you really need to be happy and what compromises you're willing to make to get those things. Maybe that means doing a bunch of things pretty well but accepting you're going to be far from perfect in all of them sometimes. Maybe it means throwing 90% of your time and energy and resources into one bucket and accepting that most other things in your life will be on the back burner for a while.

The good news is, it's your life and you get to choose (within reason)! But don't spend your life chasing the myth of "having it all" or "balancing everything" and end up missing out on what will make you pretty happy most of the time.