Monday, September 20, 2021

Race Report (sort of): PA XC Golden Gate Open (4 Miles)

Every now and then on the internet runners will ask, "So what's the difference between cross country and short trail races, *really*?," and as far as I can tell, the answer is: nothing. If you like running trails but aren't always up for 10-20-50+ miles, there is a wonderful world available to you in the fall (and maybe other times? But definitely in the fall) and it is adult XC. Like trail races, they are usually tiny and super-chill and friendly and low-pressure. No, you won't get a medal or T-shirt, but let's be honest, that's not why people like YOU do this kind of thing. If you just want to have some fun in the dirt and hills and rocks without the pressure of being out there for multiple hours, I can't recommend it enough.

This was not my first cross country race (I ran XC very mediocre-ly in middle school and high school, often less than mediocre-ly, actually, because this was before I had my exercise-induced asthma under control and some days I could get through the whole two-mile affair without an attack and other days I'd have to drop out at half a mile), and actually not even my first cross country race as an adult (I ran this same race three years ago, and another in Santa Rosa at the end of August). But I am definitely still very new to my local world of adult cross country and still working on getting a good feel for it. It's super fun to try something different and low pressure!

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Dare I Write A Blog Post?

No matter how many new and shiny podcasts come out, one of my favorite will always and forever remain "This American Life," hosted by Ira Glass.

In one episode, Ira glass said something that I feel in my soul:

"Today’s radio show is about asking a grown-up for advice. I am fully grown up. And I’m older than I sound on the radio....[O]ld enough that, last week, when I read something by somebody in their 30s who said, well, of course nobody ever fully feels like a grown-up, I wanted to say, no, I actually feel like a grown-up. I feel like a grown-up. I feel my responsibilities. I feel the weight of them. I know when I have lived up to my own ideals for how I want to be in the world and treat others around me, and when I haven’t, I feel it. I feel tired in this way that I definitely did not when I was younger."

I heard Ira Glass say this and I very nearly started sobbing into my hands. Because, young people, yes, you do reach a point where you really, truly feel like a grown up, where you do not feel like you're faking it. Not all adults are just grown-up kids making it up as they go. And when you reach that age, it. Is. EXHAUSTING.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Race Report: Wharf to Wharf Six-Miler

I've known about Wharf to Wharf for a long time, but I don't think it was until last year that I learned enough about it to realize that it was kind of this crazy historic beach party thing that people fight to get into.

I also think this was right after Boston, when, after having finally achieved a big goal I'd been after for a while, I was feeling sort of adrift in terms of what big goals I wanted to chase next. Box-checking goals such as running a certain distance in every state, every continent, running all the marathon majors, etc. have never appealed to me; I wanted something performance-based, but I was also feeling really done with double-digit races for a while. The short fast stuff was calling to me, so when I heard about this top 100 business and looked up past race results, I thought, You know what, why not chase this for a while.

Of course, "Top 100" means there's not a particular time cutoff; it just depends on who shows up and how fast they are, and there tend to be a lot of really fast people! (Also it's gun time, not chip time, so if you're not in the elite corral, you need to be right up at the front of corral 1 to even have a chance.)

Looking at past years' results, the cutoff had usually been somewhere between ~6:50-7:00 pace, which, depending on the year, has been somewhere in the 5K-8K pace range for me. Meaning to snag even the 100th spot I'd need to run six miles faster than I've ever run six miles in my life, but not by all that much. Unlikely? Yes. Completely and utterly beyond the range of possibility? No.

So I decided, what the heck. I've got one year to become a beast at short-course racing, let's get in the gym and out on the track and do this.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

"Race" Report: Across the Bay 12K

I've been aware of this race in its various incarnations for the last ten years or so and always had it in the back of my mind, but never actually run it. It starts in Sausalito on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, then runs over the Bridge to finish on the north side of SF. The race has been around in some form or another since the early 80s so it's sort of a classic, but any year that I considered it, something didn't work out. Either the timing was wrong, or I wasn't into the distance, or was out of town, or just had other things I wanted to run.

This year as I put together my summer of short, fast racing, it popped up again, and I added it to my short of list of nearby events that might be fun if the timing worked out. When I decided on Wharf to Wharf as my peak race, though, my coach suggested that I not try to race Across the Bay just two weeks before because it was unlikely that I'd be fully recovered & ready to race 6 miles just two weeks later. But if I wanted to do it as a tempo workout, that was fine.

I'd gone back and forth about it because it's hard to spend money on a race, especially a local one with a route you could run any time, just to do a workout. On the other hand, the tempo workout I'd have on tap for that week was one I know I struggle with (3 x 2 miles at HM pace / 2:00 jog) and I thought that maybe the race atmosphere would keep me motivated and honest (and maybe make it more bearable). At the last minute Represent Running Race Ambassador Erin gave me a comp code she wasn't going to use, and I figured, "What the heck. Let's do this." (That would also mean getting the run out of the way early in the day, which would be nice since we had plans to spend most of the day at a birthday barbecue.)

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Race Report: SF PrideRun 5K 2019

(**Quick Editor's Note** No, I have not stopped blogging--for behold, a blog post appears before you!--but it's been hard lately to find time to do it regularly, so I've been posting more frequent quick/short stuff--micro-blogging, if you will--over on Tha Insta. Just, y'know. If you ever start wondering what I'm up to when I'm not over here.)

I had a pretty sweet May of training with close to 180 miles, which is a lot for me these days. However, in June, work stress & travel was back with a vengeance, and while I did do *SOME* training, including several workouts and long runs, it wasn't the month I'd hoped for. PrideRun had always been one of those "maybe" races on my summer list; I'd been planning to target a fast July 4th 5K (PrideRun is NOT a fast course), and racing a hilly 5K five days beforehand seemed not conducive to running my best possible race on July 4th. On the other hand, PrideRun is *SO* much fun, cheap, really close to home, and always benefits a good cause (this year it was Gender Spectrum); since I wasn't in peak shape or anything & didn't feel like I'd be blowing a chance at a PR on July 4th, I decided what the heck, let's go have some fun on Pride weekend.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Race Report: Statuto 8K

I ran across this race, put on by the San Francisco Italian Athletic Club, when I was looking for stuff 10K or shorter close to home that fit my summer schedule. Despite the fact that it's one of the oldest road races around (run every year but once since 1919), I'd somehow never heard of it. But hey, small, short, community race three miles from my house? Sign me up!

I always felt a little wishy-washy about what to shoot for at this race and what to reasonably expect fitness-wise. The first four months of 2019 were kind of a hot mess, training-wise, but in May actually got my act together and ran nearly 175 miles and never missed a single workout or long run (though I did miss a couple of short, easy runs). Also, I'd never run an 8K, so I didn't have a good sense of what pace to shoot for. RunCoach predicted 7:03 pace for a 35:03 finish, so I decided, what the heck, let's shoot to break 35:00, and if I can't do it, hey! Information!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Last Workout Before Statuto Race + Race Preview!

Last night was my last workout before Sunday's Statuto Race on the Embarcadero, an 8K put on by the SF Italian Athletic Club going back nearly 100 years. (The first running was 1919, but there was one year during World War II that it wasn't run.) I have never run an 8K, but something small and cheap and right in town in the 5-10K range seemed like a nice summer racing kickoff. It's new distance for me but one I'm kind of excited about, and I can't deny feeling just a bit giddy to race again as I put this last workout away.

The workout was nothing fancy, just some mile repeats at race-ish pace. RunCoach is predicting a 35:06 / 7:03 pace finish for me, but I think I can do a little better than that. Originally, I'd planned to run this race as more of a workout than an all-out race, but after a pretty decent month of training, I decided, what the hell. Let's just race and see how my fitness is. My target race (Wharf to Wharf 6-miler) is still nearly two months out, so there's no risk of blowing that race, and nothing else between now and then that I care all that much about. Also if you're going to get a shiny new automatic PR, why not make it a good one, amirite?

8K is 4.97 miles, close to halfway between 5K & 10K, which is sort of interesting in terms of trying to come up with a goal time/pace. Back in December I ran a strong-for-me 5K at 6:51 pace, even though I had not been training that much or that seriously, but it's been a very, very long time since I ran a fair 10K course in good shape. (I ran Shamrock Shuffle 10K in March in 43:05, though I think we can all agree that that course was closer to 6 miles than 10K, so maybe ~7:10-11 pace.) I think it's going to be a bit of a guess no matter what, but since my training for the last month has been going well, I don't think it's unreasonable to shoot for 7:00 pace for five miles, which gives a nice round 35:00 total.

Tonight's workout was 4 mile repeats this time with 90 second jog recoveries, so I basically went into it viewing it as a sort of 8K race simulator (just 4.36 miles instead of 5--4 hard miles plus the recovery intervals). Since I'm shooting for 7:00 miles on Sunday so I tried to stay pretty comfortably in that wheelhouse, with interval times of 7:01, 7:01, 7:00, and 6:57. I think that's the fastest set of mile repeats I've ever done, so I just hope I didn't push it too hard & am able to recover well enough by Sunday!