Tuesday, June 30, 2015

SRM WEEK 12 of 20: Reset / Reboot

After my dubious experience in Sunnyvale on Sunday, I needed to wash that race right outta my hair!

Yes, the entire experience was disappointing (note: under the circumstances, I am NOT disappointed in myself), but there are some bright spots.

First, starting soon after the end of the race, I had this suspicion that even though the race was physically uncomfortable and I finished hard and am not sure I could have run it much faster, it was not really going to physically count as a truly hard effort. At every stage post-race (30 seconds after, 5 minutes after, 2 hours after, 10 hours after), I just felt way better than I should have. I felt great Monday morning & even got up early for a solid strength workout (not something I'm usually up to the morning after a real race). Nothing felt the least bit off Monday or Tuesday. Which is all great because, woo-hoo, feeling normal again after one day instead of three!

Second, I had Monday through Wednesday as scheduled rest days, but Sunday was so unsatisfying that by Tuesday afternoon I *really* wanted to get out for a nice, easy, cleansing run. I didn't go to the track (that seemed like pushing it), but because I suspected the race hadn't been near as hard on my body as I'd expected, I decided to go out for a few easy miles for however long was comfortable, maybe three and maybe eight.

I don't know if it was the overall low mileage last week or what, but this easy run felt better than any easy run in several weeks. Four miles out I still felt great but forced myself to exhibit some restraint & turn around anyway. Plus, the weather was perfect--warm and balmy in the Mission; cool in the Panhandle; slightly breezy but comfortable in the Park. There is nothing like a good run to get a bad one out of your system!

Third, though I would much rather have had a solid race, not having had one means that I can run actual mileage this week, including a long run on Sunday. I was totally ready to sacrifice some mileage to taper & recovery in order to get an all-out race in, but since that didn't work out, at least I'll get some extra training time in.

This coming week, I think I will probably stick to the plan to not do any workouts, but will go back to pretty much normal mileage; just all at an easy pace.

~*~*~SRM WEEK 12 OF 20~*~*~

Grand Total: 24 miles

    * 7.8 easy
    * 6.2 speed
    * 10 race

Monday: Rest, but not by choice

    Work, work, work.

Tuesday: Rest, but again...not by choice

    We had dinner reservations at a new fancy pants spot in SF, so I'd planned to do leave work a little early so as to get my track workout in beforehand. Alas, work stuff came up & I barely managed to leave just in time to make it to dinner.

    (On the other hand, if you're in the Bay Area & feel like dropping a chunk of change on a cool prix fixe, check out Californios. Really cool food with a Mexican twist. Also DO THE WINE PAIRING.)

Wednesday: 2 warm up, 2 x 1K @ 10K pace, 4 x 1K @ 5K pace, 2 x 1K @ 10K pace, 1.8 cool down Karate

    I figured that since I didn't get the track workout done Tuesday, I'd skip karate & do it Wednesday. Alas, things came up & I had to be in class.

Thursday: 7 easy 2 warm up, 2 x 1K @ 10K pace, 4 x 1K @ 5K pace, 2 x 1K @ 10K pace, 1.8 cool down = 10 total

    I really did not want to do this workout this late in the week, but it was a big one & I didn't want to skip it. So, I went ahead with it & just hoped the fact that this ends up being a really low mileage week will kinda-sorta make up for it.

    Those middle four intervals? BITCHES. It was hot & I hadn't eaten particularly well that day or the day before, so let's blame it on that.

    This is the face of a woman who has done three
    10+ mile track workouts in as many weeks. BOO. YA.

Friday: Rest

    I don't like resting on Friday. Friday is for running. Thankfully I had a good college friend in town that I hadn't seen in over ten years! Also it was our other friend's 30th birthday, so we had to take her out to celebrate proper-like. Sorry no pics because we were too busy, like, living our actual lives.

Saturday: 2 easy

    Just an easy shake-out run.

Sunday: 2 warm-up + 10 race

    (You already know how this turned out.)

Onwards & upwards!!!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Race Report: Sunnyvale 10-Miler

This race was just a nightmare, start to finish. A lot of it was my own fault (or, if not my fault, having to do with me and not with the race itself), and some of it was about this particular race, which I will not run again.

Because I'm paranoid about forgetting things, I packed my bag the night before & laid out everything I'd need, double checked that my watch was plugged in, etc. I got up at 6am, ate & got dressed, went through the checklist one more time in my head, & was out the door promptly at 6:40.

Demoralizing event #1 occurred around Menlo Park (so, like, halfway through the 40 mile trip) when I realized that while I had been so careful of charging my watch, I had not, in fact, put it on my wrist or in my bag before I left. Much cursing ensued. You'd think with three Garmins, I'd manage to get at least ONE of them in my bag on race morning.

Since there was literally nothing I could do about it, I tried to convince myself that this could be a good thing per my habit of going out too conservatively, that without numbers to rely on I would be forced to run by feel and thus perhaps push myself harder than I would otherwise. (I did not really believe this, but I had no other option so what else are you going to do.)

I arrived at Baylands Park a little before 7:30, parked right by the start with no problem, and had my bib and shirt in minutes. (There were not many race staff, and most of them were wearing bibs, which made me wonder if they were hurting for volunteers.) Temperature-wise, it was unsettlingly comfortable, which in my experience almost guarantees an uncomfortably hot race, but it was also overcast with a slight breeze, so I allowed myself to feel optimistic.

I decided to jog down the course to warm up, which was when demoralizing event #2 occurred: after a half a mile on dirt & a short stint on pavement, you arrived onto the trail that the course followed five miles out and five miles back, and it appeared to be all gravel.

Actually, it was gravel with two car tire grooves, effectively turning the whole thing into a kind of "double track," where the two narrow runnable strips were uneven packed dirt with rocks sticking out and, oh yeah, a dusting of gravel.

I almost got back in my car right then.

How I should have been like

Seriously; no idea why I didn't just pack up & go.

Around 7:40 I got in line for the port-a-potties, of which there were two. (Realistically they probably should have had maybe 3-4, but it was a small race so this wasn't too awful.) I get to the front and the woman in front of me comes out of the port-a-potty & hands me a wad of toilet paper and all I can do is stare at her like, "You guys do toilet paper differently here in Sunnyvale, I guess."

"There's no more toilet paper," she told me. "This is the last of it."

"You're shitting me," I spout before I have time to realize that that particular phrase was perhaps in poor taste.

However, in addition to being a Woman of Action, I am also a Woman of Planning and of Avoiding Awkward and Uncomfortable Situations.

"I have some in my car," I tell her, except she really doesn't care at this point. I didn't want to abandon my spot at the front to go get it (although I'm not sure how much progress the line would have made without my assistance, given the situation), so I made due with the wad she'd given me and when I emerged told the line to sit tight. Much cheering ensued upon my return. If there is one thing that will make a crowd of strangers spontaneously applaud for you, it is providing them with toilet paper 15 minutes before a race.

I did a little more jogging but to be honest was still toying with the idea of skipping out entirely as I just did not see how this was possibly going to end well. Sadly my optimistic side got the better of me and at 8:00 I found myself standing at the start.

Having no Garmin, I tried to look around me for people who looked like they might be shooting for more or less my pace. Generally I am against judging people in this way at a race because you never really know for sure, but I needed all the help I could get. Near the front were two groups of ladies, one that looked more like those I tend to run a good bit faster than and one group that looked a little faster. There were no super-svelte-looking Thoroughbreds of the type that I generally know I have no hope of keeping up with, so I figured it was not the worst plan to at least try to keep that group in my sights & see how their pace felt. The clock hit 8:05 & off we went.

Demoralizing event #3 happened over the course of mile 1. I'd felt reasonably good warming up, but now suddenly my legs felt like lead and my stomach felt like I was about to be sick. I stuck with the faster-looking women for a while but eventually realized that it was incredibly unlikely I'd be able to keep up that pace (whatever it was) for 10 miles, so eventually I eased up just a bit but tried to at least keep them in my sites. Then we hit the gravel and in addition to feeling nauseous & quite uncomfortable in the feet/lower legs, I suddenly also felt like I was slogging through molasses. (Basically, I felt like I was unable to use my glutes for the entirety of the race because of the gravel; it was just too hard to push off & backwards without slipping.)

Demoralizing event #4 was when I remembered that this was actually two races, a 10-miler & a 5K, and since they both started at the same time, you had no idea who was running which race. Sure enough all but three of the fast-ish ladies I had been trying to pace with headed back at the 5K turnaround. I have no one to blame for this but myself, but if I'd at least remembered it, I might have been slightly less panicked and more reasonable in my pacing in that first mile.

Again, I almost quit right there. What even was the point of this? I knew I wasn't going to run well and that I was pretty much guaranteed eight and half more miles of utter misery. Well, you should at least finish so you get your 10-miler series medal, said a part of my brain, and although I've never really cared much about medals, for some reason at that moment it was convincing. Like, "Hey, I will have driven 80 miles today to even come to this stupid race, I should at least get *something* out of it!" So I figured, whatever, I'll just slow down & run it comfortably & try not to kill myself on all the rocks.

Only at that point I was already in race mode, which is nigh impossible to turn off barring utter catastrophe. So I just kind of resigned myself to trying to run right at the edge of what I thought I was capable of effort-wise, and whatever happened would happen.

In mile two-ish, I could hear two women behind me, maybe 15-20 feet back. They were chatting happily so I had a sense of where they were, and based on our relative positions (judging from how well I could hear their conversation), we seemed to be going about the same pace (though they seemed comfortable & I pretty much felt like I was dying). These two ladies became the one tiny bright spot in this race, because apparently only one of them was wearing a watch & the other would occasionally ask her for pace updates. The first time she asked was maybe around mile 3, & the woman with the watch told her, "We're running about 7:25 right now." As much as I wanted to not care at this point, I can't deny that I was a little relieved because that was even a touch faster that my A-goal (7:30 pace) & maybe, maybe, maybe I could even slow down a touch and still salvage something.

They started to gain on me as we approached the turnaround, and based on how easy and comfortable their conversation sounded, I fully expected that they would eventually pass me. But at least I knew I was keeping a steady 7:25-7:40 pace, more or less, for now.

They didn't, though. Around mile 6 they sort of tucked in with me & another dude & asked if we minded. I told them to be my guest but that they might drop me at any moment. I told them how I'd felt sick the whole time & was having a really hard time in the gravel and on top of all that had forgotten my watch. "We're right at 7:40," she assured me, and continued giving pace updates periodically.

Normally I'm not big into latching on to other people in races, but I was suffering so badly at that point that just having another body to follow was a huge motivating factor. I kept thinking, "I can't keep this up. I have to slow down." But I didn't want to be lame, so I'd tell myself, "I'll hang on til the next mile & then tap out. I'll hang on to the next aid station. To the next mile marker." In that way, I managed to stick with them.

Demoralizing event #5 happened around maybe mile 6.5-7 when the clouds suddenly burned off & we found ourselves running in full sun. GOD, this sucked. I think this & a little after was my real low point; at one point the woman with the watch said "7:50," & I was like, "Well, here we go. Blow-up time." This part of the race felt a lot like my GMP run a few weeks back where, cardiovascularly, I felt fine, but it was as if the message to my legs to keep running just wasn't getting through & every stride felt twice as hard as it should. (The gravel certainly didn't help with this.)

Around mile 8 something shifted a little in my brain, and although it was still hard, my body suddenly felt like it wanted to pick things up just a little. This has happened to me a lot of times in hard races, where I feel like I can't possibly run any faster, and then at a certain point the distance remaining gets small enough that it suddenly seems manageable. That combined with my desperate desire to end this miserable experience as quickly as possible opens a valve somewhere & suddenly I have access to physical & mental resources that I didn't before. As if my mind/body/whatever was holding a little extra in reserve in case of emergency but didn't want me to know it was there too soon lest I make bad choices. At this point I found myself gradually striding away from the two women and eventually even passed the dude in front of us.

Don't get me wrong, things were still pretty miserable & I was in a lot of discomfort. I still felt like I wanted to heave & so overheated that I was feeling lightheaded & getting chills, but the desire to be done is a powerful motivator. We passed the mile 9 marker & soon after I made the last real turn towards the finish. 20-30 seconds later, though, I heard people shouting. The two women I had been running with were now approaching the turn as well & yelling, "Wrong way!" Sure enough, I had gone left when I should have gone right. So there went an extra .1 miles.

I caught back up with them in not too long and gradually pulled ahead again. We were blessedly now back on the concrete stretch and suddenly everything felt 10x easier. Then it was back onto dirt for the last half mile, and I really did try to force myself to push hard and give it everything I had. The other two women finished pretty soon after me & we all shared high fives & thank you's & 'good race's & all that.

Once I'd walked for a bit & had some water & food & regained feeling in my feet, I noticed that a few runners were congregating around the timing table. Under the circumstances I no longer had the same level of interest in my time as I had before, but I hadn't noticed the clock when I crossed the finish, & I was curious. Given that we'd been averaging 7:25-7:50ish the entire time and I'd sped up some at the end, I was guessing my time was somewhere in the 1:16-1:18 range. When I told the woman my bib number, though, she told me it was 1:23:42 (8:22 pace).

This made no sense to me, given the pacing info from my impromptu buddy, both before and while I was running with her. Yes, GPS error is a thing, but most of the time (at least in my experience) that means wildly oscillating numbers, or wildly different ones at different points on the course. I've never seen numbers that even and that reasonable for that long a period of time on my watch and then found them to be off from the official results by 30 to 50 seconds.

I can't really speak for the men's times, but it also seems weird to me that the top three women's times were as slow as they were. Yes, it was warm & muggy & there was the gravel to contend with, but seriously, no women ran faster than 1:18? Really?

    {Someone else's} Garmin: 10.3 miles / ??? / ??? (Though realistically I ran probably another .1 on top of that because of my wrong turn.)
    Official: 10 miles / 1:23:43 / 8:22 pace

    Overall: 10/97
    Women: 5/52
    A/G: 5/18

I asked the woman I ran with what distance she clocked & she told me 10.3, & a couple of other people nearby concurred. This was before I'd asked about my time, though, so it didn't occur to me to ask what she'd gotten for her time on her watch to see if it jived with the official one. Now I'm really curious & wish I knew, because something here just does not add up.

To be honest, though, I can't really get that wound up about it either way because this race was such a cluster-you-know-what for me that the outcome is basically meaningless. (I mean, maybe? I was actually starting to feel pretty good about averaging maybe a 7:40 pace under such yucky conditions. But now who knows.)

So yeah. I pretty much ended up feeling like this race was a total waste of my time, mostly because of not having my Garmin, not knowing the race was 90% on gravel, and feeling sick at my stomach from the first mile on. I still don't have solid numbers to gauge my fitness, or even my performance at this particular race under the circumstances. And I won't have another chance to race before Santa Rosa (or time to fully recover even if I did), so I guess it'll all be down to how different workout paces feel.

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

Location: Sunnyvale, CA

Date: End of June (June 28, 2015 this year)

Prices: 2015 prices from the web site:

Deadlines/sellout factor: At this point, it doesn't seem like it's in any danger of selling out. Spots in both the 10 miler & 5K were still available as of race morning.

Field Size: Quite small - 97 starts in the 10-miler & 42 in the 5K.


The start/finish area was set up in Baylands Park on Caribbean Dr. in Sunnyvale at the trailhead. There really wasn't much to it: the start/finish, timing tent, a small food & beverage table, a couple for bib & shirt pickup, & an Oakland Running Festival tent. The race was so small that probably everyone could have lined up to get their bibs at once from the one guy handing them out & they still would have been done in 10 minutes. No need for a bag check since the parking lot was literally steps from the start.

Maybe ~20 minutes before the start

See above for the bathroom situation.

The Course:

This would have been a perfectly decent course (if not particularly interesting) if not for the gravel. For the most part it followed the Bay Trail, and wildlife (a flock of hissing geese, as well as a couple of rabbits darting across the path) were sited as promised. It's a pretty straightforward out-and-back without too many turns, so theoretically (again, gravel nonwithstanding) one could potentially run good tangents without too much effort. The downsides were a couple of unpleasantly industrial patches as well as one short stretch that smelled like poo.

Logistically, I think the course could be improved by 1) adding another aid station at or near the turn-around (there were two earlier in the five-mile stretch for a total of four opportunities, both with water & honest-to-gods Gatorade available), 2) placing course course marshals at any non-obvious and not-otherwise marked turns (see: the one where I made a wrong turn), and 3) double checking the distance. I think for a 10-miler up to a tenth of a mile is not that weird in terms of GPS error, but .3 miles is. (I don't know how the course was measured or if it was certified in any way.)

Another important thing to know is that there is NO crowd support and because of the small field size you can get REALLY spread out. For most of the race I couldn't see or hear anyone else but the women behind/with me & the one dude that stayed more or less in front of me until last couple of miles. (I don't need crowd support, really, but I am learning that having few or no other runners around to mentally fish-line is really hard for me and I don't know how many more times I will run races this small if the distance is over 10K.)


Race day instructions told us that parking was available at Baylands Park but cost $6. The gate was open and I didn't see anyone anywhere collecting money or asking for any kind of parking permit, though, so I guess it ended up being free? The parking lot is not huge but the race was small enough that there was plenty of parking available right by the staging area.


A reasonably nice tech T, plus snacks at the finish.

No medal for this race specifically, but the website says that runners who finish both this 10-Miler and the Foster City 10-Miler in January would receive a medal for running both. However, when I asked around about this at the finish, no one seemed to have any idea what I was talking about.

(UPDATE! On Aug. 26, I received the series medal in the mail.

Along with...two more shirts. And also a certificate for finishing 3rd woman??? So many questions.)

As with Foster City, one thing that was conspicuously absent was some sort of photographer situation. Again, I don't think that necessarily means they need to pay MarathonFoto a billion dollars or anything, but I think runners would appreciate even just having volunteers taking pictures out on the course in a few spots & then, say, uploading them to a public Picasa album that runners could look from. (This is what Brazen does and I think everybody loves it. There tend to be more photos than at big races who hire race photo companies, they're free for runners, and it keeps costs down.)

Overall Assessment:

I won't run this race again. In fact, it could be the cheapest, most awesome and otherwise perfect race on the face of the earth and happen right next door and I would still not run it because gravel pretty much makes me want to stab someone. Knowing that, I should have done the research to find out for sure in advance what the course situation was, although also I think a lot of non-trail races usually mention on the site if the footing is anything other than pavement for a significant stretch.

(Maybe they're thinking of this as a trail race, though? Though if that's the case, it should be marketed that way.) I do know at this point that it really ruins a race for me if it's more than a little, though, so if there's any question at all, I need to be sure to find out in advance. Also, it's the South Bay in the summer, and even though it's not THAT long of a race, you're always going to have some chance of unpleasantly high temps.

I don't know if there were timing or course distance issues or what the confusion was with the series medals, but part of what makes me excited to run a race is confidence that attention is being paid to detail & everything is going to go off smoothly, and I can't really say that that's the impression I left with.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Race Tactics

I'm racing on Sunday.

Which maybe shouldn't seem like the biggest deal ever, given that I've crossed plenty of finish lines in the last year or so.

There's a distinction, though, between just running a race and actually racing it with the goal of achieving the fastest possible time of which you are currently capable. It's been over two years since I've done the later, and MAN do I have all kinds of wiggles & nerves going on about it.

Real-actual-all-out racing is the best of times and also the worst of times. The best because the race atmosphere is super fun, the adrenaline buzz is unbeatable, & experiencing the payoff for all the hard work is almost the entire point of why I run. That part, I'm excited about. The worst because--how to put this delicately?--the last 25% of a hard race approaches donkey balls levels of suckage.

*Running* a race = traveled from the start to the finish more or less at a run. *Racing* a race = finishing stumbling around and seeing spots and feeling like you're about to vomit, running harder than you really think you can from the very beginning, going to the Dark Place in the last 25% or so, and more or less playing a mental game of whack-a-mole with all the reasons why you don't really need to push this hard/this race isn't really that important/so on/so forth. Actual racing is actively choosing to suffer, badly, second-by-second and knowing when you cross the finish that you left it all out there (I mean...within reason. That thing where Alberto Salazar got last rites that time? That was not cool). That part, I am sorely out of practice with.


I am not looking forward to how the last 2-2.5 miles of this race are going to feel. But, I know I need to do it, for a couple of reasons. First, I know I'll have to do it at SRM, and I don't really want my goal race for the year to be my first time back in the Pain Cave since 2013. Embracing the suck is definitely a skill you have to practice (or at least it is for me), and since I'm not running any other races this summer before SRM, I really want at least one chance to practice. I want to have something more recent to look back on and go, "Ah, right, this. Hi there, Pain Cave!"

The second reason is what I mentioned in my last post about all my workout paces being outdated. I know I'm not in tip-top shape yet, but I really do feel like I've made a lot of progress since NVM and gotten some good mileage & workouts in, and I want to find out where I am. Personally I think I'm in better shape than my current pace chart reflects and need to be doing my workouts faster, but until I prove it in an actual race, I can think that all day & night & none of it means poo.

The third reason is that I'd kind of like to get a sense of whether or not I'm on track to run a 3:30 marathon in August. Yes, I can make some inferences based on how hard or easy different paces or workouts feel or how hard/easy the races I've run less-than-all-out have felt. But there's really no substitute for running a hard race & keeping nothing in reserve & being able to say, "That's it. That is the absolute best I can do right now at 100% effort." If I can run a hard ten miles, that will give me at least *some* idea of how close I am to my goal.

All that gets me thinking a bit about race strategy & my own strengths & weaknesses. With an "A" race that I've really been targeting and planning for, I usually go in with a goal time that I think I can probably run, and then just shoot for pretty even splits from the very beginning. (Bonus if I can pick it up a little more towards the end.) With shorter races that I haven't really been specifically training for, though, I'm not usually that organized & usually just end up going by a combination of feel & the pace I've run the same distance at in the past.

The down side of that strategy, though, is that I've sometimes ended up with WAY negative splits (like, running a 10K with mile 1 in 7:25 & mile 6 in 6:47), which is not an efficient strategy. If I could talk myself into going out just a *little* faster than I think I should and not err so much on the conservative side, I'd probably have a faster time over all.

Going out a little faster than what feels right is definitely a riskier, more aggressive strategy, but Sunnyvale seems like a good time to try it out. I'm planning on starting out in the 7:45 range, so if that feels kind of hard, I'm going to try to stick with it anyway, and if it feels about right, I'm going to try speeding up just a little. And when I think about it, this is basically what I've done in my best half marathons (which I think has been my best distance): gone out with a specific, aggressive pace goal, then been sure around mile 7 that I'm about to blow up & have my worst race ever, & then suddenly around mile 8 had a breakthrough where suddenly that same pace (or faster) felt totally doable. (Though of course...the last miles are still never fun.)

Once more for the record!

    "C" goal: Sub-marathon pace/PR
    "B" goal: 1:17:30 / 7:45 pace
    "A" goal: 1:15 / 7:30 pace (Honestly, this is a true "A" goal for me - I'm only about 50/50 that it's realistic right now at all. We shall see!)

Race face! (Back when I was in practice.)
I'll be doing my best to channel that face on Sunday.

Monday, June 22, 2015

SRM WEEK 11 OF 20: Adjusting........

When I finally decided this past September to devote a good chunk of time to base-building properly, I set some goals for myself, one of which was doing long runs more often and more consistently. The goal was 1) getting better at them physically but also 2) getting better at them mentally so that I didn't dread lacing up my shoes every Sunday.

How I felt about long runs on a good day.

And I really feel like I did accomplish this during my NVM cycle! Having a strong base for the first time in years made the runs physically easier, and that, along with just sucking it up every weekend that I could, helped flip a switch in my brain from "ohgodohgodohgod" to "meh, still not my favorite, but whatever." I really do think this played a HUUUUGE part in my being able to run 26 miles at Napa not just without some kind of disaster, but--dare I say it--comfortably (both physically and mentally).

So, it's been annoying to find those runs starting to feel kind of tough again. Not a slog the way they used to, and I'm still in a much better place mentally about it, but instead of finishing 16-17 miles & feeling pretty good, I definitely find myself counting down those last miles & feeling a bit beat up after.

I know this makes perfect sense, now that I'm for-realsies training and not "fake training." I've done my best to ease into it gradually, but the last couple of weeks have marked the return of the "monster" track workouts, totaling 10-12 miles each (in addition to another shorter speed or tempo session). I'd kind of forgotten what it feels like to be at the track for that long; you arrive, you warm up, watch other people arrive, run some intervals, watch other people arrive, run some intervals, watch those same people leave, run some intervals, watch more people leave, run some more intervals, and by the time you're done you realized you've watched, like, three distinct waves of runners arrive, do their thang, & leave again.

Last week I did 3 x 200m, 30:00 @ GMP, 3 x 200m; this week was the same except 2 x 1200m's instead of 200m's. These workouts are hard, yes, but not awful. (For this, I actually credit all my nutrition changes. In past training cycles I only got these workouts maybe once every three weeks & they pretty much destroyed me for the rest of the day; this time around Tom has been assigning them almost every week, and I arrive back home actually feeling like a normal person & able to, like, go out for dinner & hang out with friends & stuff.)

On the other hand, they do contribute to the overall cumulative fatigue of the week a lot more than my easy base-building jogs did, even the long ones. Running 17 miles after doing nothing but comfortable, low-heart rate runs all week is a lot different than running 17 miles on top of two track workouts!

Thankfully, my body seems to be acclimating. This week I ran higher mileage as well as *slightly* harder workouts, and felt better all around. My easy runs actually felt easy, and though my 17-miler was hard, I felt marginally better than I did after last week's 16. (Also, it was hot out, which didn't help.)

This coming week I will do one more "monster" track workout & then take it easy for a few days leading up to Sunnyvale 10-Miler on Sunday. I am in this weird situation right now where RunCoach is calculating my workout paces based on my NVM time (since that was the last race I logged), and since I ran most of that race at an easy comfortable pace, all the workout paces are slower than they should be. Since I haven't all-out raced in over two years, though, I don't really know by how much slower. So, I've been trying to do the intervals by effort and stick to what feels about right. Hopefully I'll have a good race in Sunnyvale & will then finally have updated workout paces to work with.

~*~*~SRM WEEK 11 OF 20~*~*~

Grand Total: 42.1 miles

    * 14.6 easy
    * 7.5 speed
    * 3 threshold
    * 17 long

    AND, 2 x 45:00 strength sessions! #progress

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

Tuesday: 2.4 warm up, 6 x 600m / 200m jog, 1 cool down = 6.4 total

    Another night with SF Track Club. Again these were slow enough that they were more in my threshold zone than speed work.

    Rockin' these bad boys. Review coming soon!

Wednesday: Karate

    I intended to go to the gym for strength work Wednesday morning but I woke up at 6:00 feeling absolutely awful with a splitting headache, so instead I slept another hour.

Thursday: a.m. strength work / 8 easy

    SOOO much better than last week's easy runs. My legs felt a little stiff & tired at the beginning, but things weren't bad good once I got going, & even felt pretty good afterward too.

Friday: 1.75 warm up, 2 x 1200m, 30:00 GMP, 2 x 1200m, 1.5 cool down = 10.7 total

    Another big track workout like last week, except with 1200m's instead of 200m's. Going by effort, these were ~0:15 seconds slower each than I've done them in the past in good shape, so I'm hoping that after a few more weeks of speed work I'll be able to ratchet that number down a little the next time I do 1200m's. On the plus side, whereas in last week's 30:00 @ GMP I was struggling to maintain an 8:05-8:10 pace, this week I found myself cruising right along like, "This feels about right," & then frequently seeing numbers in the high sevens. MORE OF THIS PLEASE.

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: 17 long

Next week, it's all about race prep.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

garminzzz, y'all.

I have three of them.

First up: The Forerunner 305. Purchased ca. 2010, this watch was my first foray into fancy-pants, GPS running device technology.

It was pretty much perfect in every way, up until about two years ago when it lost the ability to beep when it auto lapped (meaning if I wanted lap times, I had to keep checking it to be sure I didn't miss it) and soon after wouldn't charge without a ton of force pressing it against the charging cradle. (Like, it would charge if I sat there & squeezed it against the charger, but otherwise no.)

Fortunately, those issues coincided with a sweet sale at REI on the Forerunner 310XT at REI. The 310XT was far from new at that point, but since it was basically the exactly same watch as the 305 except for a bunch of triathlon stuff that was irrelevant me, AND it was cheaper than what I'd initially paid for the 305, this was a no-brainer.

Alas, last summer the band broke in a way that wasn't fixable & made the watch useless. Fortunately, REI has an extremely generous one-year replacement policy, so I was able to take it back.

Except...they no longer carried the 310XT at that point, and the closest thing they had was the Forerunner 220.

Friends, I hate this watch. HATE it. So. MUCH. The interface is dinkier, more confusing, and all-around less functional. It has almost none of the features you want and everything you don't. To name just a few issues...

  • You can't set it to auto lap under .25 miles. Want to bust out some 200m's? TOUGH.
  • When you first turn it on, it defaults to a 'locked' state, which requires performing some kind of insane Vulcan neck pinch of button-pressing to unlock.
  • You can't manually lap if the watch is paused.
  • You get three data fields--no more, no less.
  • When you hit pause, it immediately reverts to a useless screen that shows only your ellapsed time, and if you want to know anything else, you have to hit the 'back' button.
  • If you leave it paused for a certain amount of time, it goes into power save mode. Not the hugest deal ever, unless you happen to be standing in a start corral seconds before the gun.

On the plus side, though, it gives you a pretty little ribbon screen & a cute message any time it detects a PR or distance record!! :D :D :D Who the hell cares.

And, to add insult to injury, this piece of junk was like $90 MOAR expensive than the 310XT. (Yes, I got the 310XT on a big sale, but that was kind of half the point). But it was that, the barely-not-useless FR 10, or $160 more for a 610, which included even more features I didn't need.

Finally I got so fed up with the [**horribly offensive vulgar name that I will refrain from typing on the internet, but used to its face repeatedly, bonus points if you can guess what it was, it kind of sounds vaguely like 'Forerunner'**] 220 that I bought a refurbished 310XT on amazon (for the record, still more expensive than the sale price I got at REI). AND LO, my life was glorious.

Until about a month ago. When I plugged my < 1 year old refurbished 310XT in to charge, and nothing happened. I tried different outlets/powerstrips/USB dongels/etc., and no dice. Whatever the problem is, it seems to be either in the watch battery itself or the part of the charger that connects directly to the watch.

Teeth were gnashed and clothing was wrent.

Now, when we were getting ready to move, I had thrown that god-awful [horribly offensive nickname] 220 into the "stuff to go somewhere that is else" pile, namely, back to REI for a refund. But since I am such a good procrastinator, it was still hanging around in a box downstairs when the 310XT died. And since you don't go to the track with the GPS watch you want, you go to the track with the GPS watch you have, that shitty little travesty of a device once again found its way onto my wrist.

I would like to be able to tell you that this gave me an opportunity to practice #gratitude, to feel #blessed that I am fortunate enough to have access to this type of technology at all. Alas, while I remain fully aware of the insane levels of privilege I enjoy in virtually every aspect of my life, just a few runs with the [I hate you I hate you] 220 was enough to remind me what a god-awful piece of engineering failure it is. (If you engineered it....sorry. I'm sure you're still a good person; you just made a mistake.)

In fact, the experience of trying to use the [die in a fire] 220 for anything even remotely resembling an actual workout was indeed so traumatizing that on multiple evenings I found myself on the floor with the sad carcasses of my 305 & 310XT desperately trying to rehabilitate them. (I mean yes, I know I could send them back to Garmin for fixing, but from what I hear, they charge you almost what it would cost to just buy a new watch.)

With the 310XT, no luck. The thing just seemed dead all-around. BUT, after some trial and error, I found that if I took a sufficiently tight ponytail holder and twisted it twice around the 305 and its cradle, it applied sufficient pressure to get the thing to charge. #winning!

Friends, I can't tell you how excited I was to set out on a run with my beloved 305 for the first time in two years. It was just BLISS.

Except...It still doesn't beep when it auto-laps. And while I don't really care about that for easy or long runs, it's kind of key for speed & tempo/threshold workouts.

I wore the [son of a whore] 220 for my two track workouts last week and the thing was almost useless. In retrospect, I probably would have been better off with the 305, since at least you can set the damn thing to auto lap at intervals less than .25 miles.

When I got home from my Friday track workout, I plugged the [screw you & the horse you rode in on] 220 in to charge, & sort of half-heartedly messed around with the 310XT again, just, y'know, to see if something might magically happen. And then, AS IF A SOLSTICE MIRACLE (err...almost), the fucker suddenly started charging.

In the immediate future, this is good news. I *may* actually have a watch I can *halfway-kinda-sorta* reliably use for actual workouts. But it kind of gets me thinking about the harsh mistress that is a Garmin device, and it's tough to just go about your business, knowing what a fickle god you serve. I get that nothing lasts forever, but MAN, that's a lot of money for something that quits working properly after less than three years. I mean c'mon. A one year warranty? Basically I feel like as soon as I buy one, I have to start saving up for the next one.

I've played around with other models (Tom Tom, Polar, Timex), but none of them have ever had both the features & the ease-of-interface that made the 305 & 310XT so perfect. I WANT to stick with Garmin, but they're making it kind of tough. Is there anything out there comparable in features & interface that doesn't go tits-up after 2-3 years?

(Do not speak to me of Bia or iWatches because #no.)

Other questions I would be curious to have answered:

  • Have you had any similar issues with these or other models?
  • Have you ever sent something to Garmin for fixing? What's the dilly-o?
  • Is there any way in Hades (in your personal opinion) to justify the bucks for newer models like the 620 or 920XT? My head says no, but my heart says "Sweet baby Jesus I just want something that works."

Also, random Garmin tip of the day: If your Garmin suddenly randomly won't turn on anymore, hold down 'lap' & 'mode' together for five seconds, then try turning it on again. I've had this issue with both the 305 & 310XT occasionally & it works every time.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

SRM WEEK 10 OF 20: All Things Golden Gate

On Sunday afternoon I didn't think I could face another long run doing loops through Golden Gate Park. Don't get me wrong; there are major advantages. I know every step. I have the elevation profile memorized & know exactly what's coming when. Bathrooms & water fountains abound. Traffic lights are few & far between. Sometimes, though--and I know you know what I mean--you know that if you have to look at your same good ol' trusty route even one more time you are seriously going to hurl.

Something I have been meaning to do for a while is get to know The Presidio from a running perspective. It's too far to be a viable option for even mid-distance runs, but if you run about halfway through GG Park and then cut north, it's a straight shot. The Presidio is lovely for running (or so I'm told) thanks to its myriad trails and pedestrian-friendly streets and is also pretty much covered in all kinds of gorgeous foliage. The only trouble is that it's kind of a maze, so if you don't really know where you're going, it's easy to get lost. Still, I figured worst case, I could always just run in until I hit 8 miles, then retrace my steps.

As I followed the most obvious path, though, I soon realized that I was on Doyle Drive, which (eventually) leads to the Golden Gate Bridge. Another long-time running ambition of mine has been to run to the Bridge either via the Presidio or Marina, through the Bridge, and then back out the other side to make a nice loop. I've always known it's possible and there is a pedestrian route, but the roads up that way get a bit finicky (particularly in terms of which ones are pedestrian friendly), so I've been hesitant to try it on my own.

When I made it to the old batteries right around 8 miles & the bridge came into view, I decided this would be the day in which I figured it out.

Approach to the Bridge

So close!

Living in San Francisco is ok I guess

(Serious question: How many times can you stop for photo ops before it really doesn't count as a long run anymore?)

It was a little dicey because there's some construction going on, plus the pedestrian walkway under the bridge is quite narrow and often crowded with tourists, but in the end I emerged on the other side of the bridge and found my way back down to the Marina.

Success! GG Bridge from Marina Green

I think I did something like this, more or less.

In the Marina with six miles left, I was kind of afraid I'd gotten too far out & would end up having to cab home. Although it's about as polar opposite of the Bridge as it's possible to get, I took Van Ness Ave. most of the way back to the Mission because the hills are less insane than most other options and I didn't want to get too much further east.

For most of this run I actually felt pretty good (better than I have lately in a lot of my easy runs...Did I mention how last weekend's 14-er felt like 20?), but it got weirdly hard around 12ish--that same feeling I've had lately sometimes where it just feels like my legs are out of juice. It didn't help that I was also going up-up-uphill on Van Ness at that point, so I was less bothered by all the stop lights than I maybe would have been otherwise.

Thankfully, once I got down to two miles left (and, y'know, downhill again) things got easier, and I actually made it back to my house at ~15.5ish (and took a quick spin down the street & back to get the last half mile). There were more hills than usual on this run, and I think that took a toll on my gimpy right leg. It's still better than it has been, but was bugging me more than usual Monday morning.

~*~*~SRM WEEK 10 OF 20~*~*~

This week was a wee bit shy of the number I was shooting for (40) for sort of insignificant and not-interesting reasons, but I did manage to get in all the key workouts in spite of feeling REALLY crappy towards the end of the week.

Grand Total: 36.7 miles

    * 10.25 easy
    * 6.7 speed
    * 3.75 threshold
    * 16 long

Monday: Karate

Tuesday: 1.25 warm up + 6 x 1K @ 7:25 = 5 threshold

    SF Track Club workout at Kezar. This was really supposed to be a speed workout but the pace of the group I was with was such that it was more of a threshold interval session than speed work.

(In case you missed the pics of our BEAUTIFUL new track!)

Wednesday: Karate

    I thought this might be a good day to get in a few extra miles to make up for Tuesday's slightly short workout, but after running some already-much-procrastinated errands after work there wasn't time before karate.

Thursday: 6 easy

    So the way I do these weekly recaps usually is by copying & pasting the formatting from the week before & then just replacing the text. When I got to Thursday's run, though, I could have left it almost exactly as it was: "Oh man. I literally cannot remember the last time I felt this terrible on an easy run [except yes I can, it was last Thursday]. It was supposed to be six eight, but less than a mile in my legs felt like lead & I'm pretty sure I only made it two [three] out & two [three] back out of sheer force of will.

    Basically it's like my brain kept sending the signals to my leg muscles but somehow it was a bad connection & the muscles were kind of like, "Whaaaa...? Wha' u say?" Guh #overit

Friday: 1.5 WU; 6 x 200m + 30:00 @ GMP + 6 x 200m; 1.5 CD = 9.7 speed

    A hot one! I went into it having felt blah for a couple of days, finished feeling like a zombie, and then slept for 10 hours, but the workout itself (mostly) wasn't too bad.


Saturday: Rest

Sunday: 16 long

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Back to the Oval

Two years ago when I was recovering from Hip-mageddon 1.0, Coach Tom invited me to come do speed work with SF Track Club, which he coaches, once I was healthy again. It made a lot of sense since they worked out at Kezar on Tuesday nights, just as I did, if a bit later. (I usually did my track work 5-7ish whereas they started at 6:30.)

I was super excited about this, but sadly it never panned out. Just as I was getting back to some speed work & starting to feel comfortable on the track again that fall/early winter, I ended up with a stress fracture, so it was another six months before I set foot on a track. And while technically, yes, I was marathon training that summer, I was still having problems with my hip & only did like three track workouts during that training cycle. But lately I've done some faster running out on the roads and felt pretty good, and since I'm officially into my 12-week for-realsies SRM training cycle, I decided to finally go.

I arrived at newly renovated Kezar Stadium a little before 6:30 to marvel at the sharp, new lane lines, plush, bouncy inner lanes, and rehabilitated numerals on the starting line. I hadn't been out there since the city finished fixing it up last fall, and the sight, along with the smell of freshly cut grass, brought a metaphorical tear to this speed-lover's eye.

I hadn't done a track workout with a group since college so I was a little nervous about it. One of the reasons why I do most of my runs alone is because I don't have to worry about keeping up/holding other people back/pushing others too hard/etc.; I can just cruise along & do my own thing. Also despite 2.5 years of internet coaching, Tom had never seen me run before, so there was also maybe a little of that performance anxiety/for-god's-sake-don't-embarrass yourself feeling. Plus this would be my first time testing my right leg (which has been getting much better!) at speed around curves & I didn't want to be the lame-o that pulled up in the first lap like, "Sorry, I broke myself, but nice meeting you all!"

Thankfully, all disasters were averted. Tom put me with a group based on my guesses about my current 5K/10K paces, and instead of my assigned RunCoach speed workout of 6 x 200m / 30:00 GMP / 6 x 200m, he had me run 6 x 1K with them at ~7:25ish. I was relieved to find that this was quite an easy workout for me at this point, and was also reminded of one of the great perks of doing speed work with a group where someone who is not you is assigned to watch the pace, which is that you can pretty much turn your brain off; all you have to do is keep up & not pass anyone.

I know everyone grumbles about speed work & it's supposed to make you cry & want to die & all that, but MAN. Coming around the corner on that first lap was sheer joy for me. After months and months of nothing but base training and really focusing on my long runs and then verrrrry gradually dipping my toe back into the waters of fast running, whipping my body around that oval again after nearly a year away was pretty much bliss.

The one down side to this workout was that together with our ten minute warm-up jog, it only came out to about five miles, as opposed to the 9.5-10ish that my assigned track workout had called for. Tom said this was okay since the 6 x 1K's had really worked out to more like a tempo/threshold workout for me anyway rather than speed work, so I could just do the 200m's on Friday instead of my assigned tempo/threshold.

So, on Friday, back to the oval I went. And MAN, was it hot [SF translation: moderately warm with no clouds]. After a super hard/crappy "easy" run on Thursday, some worse-than-usual pain in my left foot & shin, & then waking up sick in the middle of the night (nothing major, all better now), I was only maybe 60/40 on whether I'd actually be able to do do the longer 200m's workout.

Once I got out there, though, the 200m's felt surprisingly easy:

Last summer I was doing these pretty consistently in the 0:42-0:43 range (5:30-5:40 pace), but given that I'm only just getting back into speed work after many, many months of mostly base training, I'm actually pleasantly surprised to be doing them in the 0:44-0:46 range. If I can get back to those faster times or even a second or two faster by the time I taper for SRM, I'll be happy. If nothing else I was at least pleased to be managing some kind of consistency, which I've always struggled with on shorter intervals (Garmin numbers being pretty much unreliable over that short a distance).

The 30:00 @ marathon pace, though?

Ugh. Uuuuggggghhhh. Pretty much the same as last week's sucky runs, just faster. I mean yes, it was quite warm, but the entire 3.7 miles felt like I was low blood sugar or sleep deprived or both (neither of which was the case). It wasn't that the pace felt hard cardio-wise; just as if the messages from my brain to my legs to like, run & stuff weren't getting through. (Ever had the experience of telling a teenager over & over again to do something super effing easy & they just keep pretending they can't hear you? It was kind of like that.)

I feared this didn't bode well for my second set of 200m's, but for some magical reason I don't understand, busting out half-laps in 45-46 seconds still felt pretty easy (at least until maybe the last 1-2, and even then it wasn't all that terrible.)

I clearly have a ways to go to get my speed back (as expected), and I kind of think maybe my sucky easy runs lately are just my body still adjusting to two harder workouts per week. Still, considering that last August I couldn't even run one hard 200m without feeling like my pelvis was about to snap, no complaints here!


Monday, June 8, 2015

SRM WEEK 9 OF 20: Upcoming Race Plans

So, this week started out rough, got better, then quickly slid back downhill. I ended the week with my worst long run in recent memory--the first half was fairly pleasant actually, but despite my casual pace the last three miles or so felt nearly as hard as a race, not to mention some nausea & lightheadedness.

Some pics from the first half of the run, before I wanted to shoot myself in the face:

Conservatory of Flowers

Down by the ocean

Eventually I even made a deal with myself that once I got to the last two miles I could stop every quarter mile for 30 seconds or so. (Yes, this sucked, but on the plus side, it does kind of serve as a good reminder of how much easier long runs have gotten for me over this last year.) I started the run later than I wanted to & finished pressed for time, so I also didn't do myself any favors by sprinting the last block, jumping into the shower for 30 seconds, frantically dressing myself, & rushing to a dinner party with friends while scarfing down a granola bar in the car. I was kind of a zombie through dinner, didn't eat enough carbs & definitely didn't drink enough water and probably too much alcohol.

To be fair, though, there was a crown roast. I mean come on.

This morning my body can't decide whether it wants water or salt or both, so I'm sort of alternating between chugging water and salty pre-made grocery store soup.

Anyway, moving on.

I found out last week that my July half, The Jungle Run, is cancelled for this year. After satisfying myself that there aren't any other races around that time that I'm excited to run, I went back to the Sunnyvale 10-Miler, which I'm running on June 28.

This race is part of the same series as the Foster City 10-Miler that I ran in January. Originally I'd been thinking I'd treat it the same as that race & just do it at marathon pace/effort, but now that I'm not racing anything else between then & SRM, I started thinking it might make sense to run it as an actual race. Because I haven't all-out raced anything since Mountains 2 Beach over two years ago, all my workout paces are super outdated, and it would be good to have a more accurate baseline in terms of my actual fitness now as I train for SRM. I won't be in tip-top shape, but I should have had a good 4-5 weeks or so of speed & tempo work under my belt, so with any luck, I *ALSO* won't flat-out embarrass myself.

I've never all-out raced a 10-miler before, so I didn't have a good sense of what I should be shooting for time-wise (though this is also hard because I don't really know what kind of shape I'll be in). According to the interwebz, my half marathon PR of 1:38 translates into a 10-mile time of ~1:13, which kind of gives me an absolute ceiling. Honestly, I don't think I'm going to get back to that level of fitness by three weeks from now, so I looked at equivalent times for half marathons in the 1:41-1:42 range & got right around 1:15. So for now, I think that's more or less my "A" goal: break 1:15.

Which means running 7:30's. Ie, run PR half marathon pace for 10 miles. Which is still pretty darn scary to think about right now. So I think maybe my strategy will be to start with 7:45's & see how that feels, & try to ratchet down from there. If I can't, my "B" goal will I think be to average 7:45 pace & finish in 1:17:30. My "C" goal, it seems, might as well be to beat my Foster City time of 1:19:22 (7:56/mile), and if I can't do that I'm going to be pretty sad because it means I'm nowhere close to being able to run a marathon at that pace (and unlikely to get there in 8 weeks).

~*~*~SRM WEEK 9 OF 20~*~*~

Grand Total: 38 miles

    * 22 easy
    * 1.75 speed
    * 14 long

Monday: 4 easy.

    Normally Monday is my post-long run rest day, but since we did a 2.5 hour trail run on Saturday, I took Sunday off, & was missing karate due to work travel, I wanted to squeeze in a little physical activity. Apparently my legs were still worn out from Saturday because this was the hardest 4 mile run I've done in a while. It felt really difficult to keep good form & was significantly slower than my easy runs have generally been lately.

Tuesday: Rest.

    Or rather, work travel. I could have done an easy treadmill run but wanted to save my legs for a solid speed workout on Wednesday when I got home. Which was fine because I was pretty busy with work stuff anyway.

Wednesday: 2 warm up / 6 x 1200m / 2 cool down = 10 speed

Thursday: 4 easy

    Oh man. I literally cannot remember the last time I felt this terrible on an easy run. It was supposed to be six, but less than a mile in my legs felt like lead & I'm pretty sure I only made it two out & two back out of sheer force of will.

Friday: 2 warm up; 30:00 @ GMP; 2 cd 6 easy

    Usually when I have a bad run the next one is much better, but not this week. This run felt almost the same as the day before (maybe sliiiiightly better? Certainly not by much) & when less than a mile in I was struggling to hold a 10:30 pace I knew there was just no way GMP miles were happening. I managed to crank out the six easy but that was hard enough. The only cause I think of is the fact that I did a harder run than usual on the heels of a work trip & normally would have had a rest day after it. Still, these two runs seemed pretty dramatically awful, even considering all that.

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: 14 long


All I really want out of Week 10 is to feel not like crap for more than one run!! #life goals

Saturday, June 6, 2015

National Running Day had its ups & downs.

I didn't know it until Wednesday morning, but June 3 was apparently National Running Day. YAAAAAY NATIONAL RUNNING DAY!!

I was traveling for work but what kind of lame-o runner doesn't run on National Running Day, so as soon as I got home at 7:30pm I immediately threw on running clothes & busted out a 10 mile tempo run.

Just kidding, I'd already planned it that way because I was a) busy with work Tuesday (when this workout was assigned) & b) travel workouts almost always have to be done on treadmills and UUUUGGGGHH talk about workouts I DO NOT feel like putting myself through on a treadmill.

I didn't end up doing it exactly right. It was supposed to be 7 x 1200m @ LT pace w/ 45 second recoveries, only I couldn't remember how long the recoveries were once I got going, so for simplicity's sake, I kind of said, "Eh, 400m sounds about right." Which, equates to more like 2-2.5 minutes. Oops. Also I only did 6 repeats because I have a nice 10 mile loop that gives me 2 miles of pedestrian/traffic light heavy neighborhood streets at the beginning & end for a warm-up/cool down & that only leaves 6 miles in between. It was late & I did not feel like a) running deeper into the park in the dark, b) running more than 10 miles, or c) frantically dodging pedestrians & cars while trying to tack on another 1200 at either end.

As these types of workouts should be, it felt hard but do-able. I kept up the pace through all six repeats with no problem & felt like I probably could've done a few more at the end (though, I didn't really want to). I think I managed to tape my left foot in a way that actually accomplished something, and found that it was actually easier during the fast intervals to run on my left arch the way I'm supposed to than it was during the easy miles & recoveries. But anyway, it's good to be back to doing my official RunCoach workouts & feeling like I can (finally!) finish them feeling strong and without re-aggravating my leg.

Alas, National Running Day also brought sadness.

A while back I wrote about my first "official" half marathon, The Jungle Run in Los Gatos. After many years away I was looking forward to actually racing it again this summer in reasonably good shape & seeing by just how much I could beat my 2008 time of 2:16. But it was not to be. Wednesday evening I received an email from the organizers that the high school track area (where the start, finish, & staging are located) would be under construction & despite many inquiries into other potential staging areas, they were not able to find a suitable one. So, it looks like the race is cancelled for this year.

I did appreciate that, although all entry fees for this year were automatically rolled over to 2016, they did give participants the option of requesting a refund if they preferred (particularly given that the issue was around getting permits for the course/staging area so the biggest costs have potentially not yet been incurred by the race). I do actually want to run the race again so I accepted the rollover and didn't request a refund.

So now, I'm thinking about whether I want to try & find another good half sometime in July (of which there are not a ton) or just say, eh, screw it, more SRM training time. So far the only even halfway decent candidate I've found is the Davis Moonlight Race on July 11, which looks kind of fun in that it's a evening race (the 1st wave of the half starts at 6:30) and is not that expensive ($60). But to be honest I'm leaning towards 'no' because a) Davis in July can still be 90F+, even in the evening, b) it's kind of a hike from SF for a last-minute non-goal race, c) the course apparently has stretches of gravel. (Ringing any bells there?)

The other option is to run a local little 10K on July 18th. [Real Talk: I am sooo not excited about running a 10K right now.] So, maybe I'll just take a pass on a July race & use what I save in taper/recovery time to put towards SRM training.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

SRM WEEK 8 OF 20: Pleasanton Ridge Trail Run

This ended up being a low mileage week with only three runs, but all three of them were more challenging & sufficiently different from most of what I've been putting my legs through over the last nine months or so that I still feel like it was a pretty productive week training-wise.

First, there were of course my two speed(ish) workouts. Normally I would have done an easy run Friday, taken Saturday off, & then done my long run on Sunday, but this week I had plans to run trails with friends in the East Bay on Saturday. We were planning on 12 miles, and since a) I'd done two speed workouts already this week for the first time in many many months, b) I almost never run trails, and c) this would be my longest trail run ever by 100%, I figured it was smartest of me to take Friday off & then tack on a few easy miles Sunday depending on how I felt after the trail run.

Jen, Cathryn, Jess, and KP scoped out the situation at Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park in the East Bay, and Layla, bt, Debbie, & Amanda joined as well, so there ended up being a solid group of us.

Trail runners were indeed mighty that day.
(As always, carrying on the proud tradition of awkward running photos.
I call this one the "Hurry-up-I-have-to-pee.")

For the next 2.5-3 hours we ran-hiked along dirt trails over golden hills and did our best not to spook the cattle.

There were a good number of hills and many of them were quite steep, so we definitely did a fair amount of hiking as well as actual running. Different people turned back at different points, & the last group of us went out five miles and then tacked on a two-mile loop, which saw both our fastest miles (sub-10, baby!) as well as potentially the longest, steepest hill I have ever "run" in my life.

Again...photos utterly fail when it comes to communicating the actual steepness you're dealing with.

If it looks like we're kind of dragging ourselves up, it's because we were.

As a non-trail runner, the downhills were definitely the trickiest thing for me, of which there were many (particularly on the way back).

Jen's selfie attempt becomes an artsy shot of me.

Then, of course, there's the aftermath.


I don't get to do a ton of social running thanks to my schedule (or much trail running thanks to where I live), so it's always super fun to get in some miles with friends on new and different terrain.

Thanks for a fantastic morning, ladies! :)

~*~*~SRM WEEK 8 OF 20~*~*~

Grand Total: 28 miles

    * 8.2 easy
    * 7.8 speed/tempo(ish)
    * 12 trail/long

    No strength work this week because apparently I can't get myself to bed on time lately. Mostly I blame the daylight for consistently tricking me into thinking it's earlier than it is. This is fast becoming a serious problem that I'm not entirely sure how to solve.

Monday: I did nothing but rest & recover on Monday. PSA: Do not run 14 miles & then forget to eat anything but roast pork while drinking heartily.

Tuesday: 2 warm up / 4 progression / 2 cool down = 8 speed

    I don't know if I would normally call this workout "speed," but that's how it was listed in my little mini-intro-to-speed plan I'm doing, so what the hey. I was a little hesitant since lately any amount of fast running has angered the gods of my right leg, but after the whole engaging-the-power-ray experiment went well during Sunday's 14 mile long run, I decided to give it a try. And it was not horrible! Hard from a cardio standpoint, yes, but the leg held up pretty darn well.

Wednesday: Karate.

Thursday: 2 warm up / 15 x 1:00/1:00 fartleks / 2.2 cool down = 8 speed

    McMillan says the actual pace of the fartleks don't really matter; the point is just to run "pretty hard" for a minute, then recovery for a minute, wash/rinse/repeat. This, I have no qualms about calling speed work. I still clearly have some work to do to get my speed back, but I was happy to see that I could push it pretty hard & still have my right leg feel okay and get through all 15 feeling like I could have done more.

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 12 trails

    My schedule called for 16-17, but at 2.5+ hours, I feel like this run got the job done time and effort-wise. We spent almost the entire run either running or hiking up steep hills at a good clip, with only one significant pause (5-10 minutes or so) plus a few other quick ones for water/fuel/etc. Much has been made of running different types of terrain in order to work different muscles, and that much was *definitely* accomplished.

Sunday: 8 easy Rest

    Another way I can tell the trail run was a solid "long" workout is that WOW, did I have some sore glutes & hamstrings the next day! Also, I can tell I was using my feet more effectively as well. They definitely have that sore-from-hard-work feeling (as opposed to the overdoing-it/injury-type soreness). I probably would have done a shorter easy run if I hadn't been so sore, but as it was, letting my body recover seemed like the smarter choice.

Next week, my SRM training officially officially starts.

Dare I say it: