Thursday, August 27, 2015

Hey, look what came in the mail!

This is the series (is it a series if it's only two races?) medal we were supposed to get for running both the Foster City 10-Miler & Sunnyvale 10-Miler that I was unable to find out anything about after the Sunnyvale race. It actually exists!

Also this, about which I had no idea:

It's always nice to feel appreciated!

Finally, the package also included a finisher shirt for each race, both of which I already have in one size smaller.

Your guess is as good as mine on that one. Maybe they had leftovers & it was cheaper than more traditional packing material.

Dreams really do come true, yo.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Three Things Whatever Day It Is

THING #1: According to, the winner of The Fro Yo Run entry is ROSE RUNNER!! Check your email, lady; there's a code coming your way.

ALSO, Jen at RunningTangents also has an entry to give away, and I think hers is open until Wednesday night, so if anyone wants another shot, get over to her blog today or tomorrow!

If you're so inclined, you can still get a four-pack for $150, and there's a $5 coupon available here.

THING #2: Injury Update:

Since I stopped running three weeks ago, I've been trying to keep up my fitness by doing workouts on the elliptical. The down side is that I can only do that on week days since my gym is by my office 30 miles away, so my "runs" have pretty much been capped at about an hour. (Also, elliptical is never super comfortable for me so I doubt I'd do much more than that anyway.) Since I can't really do tons of volume right now, I've been trying to balance things out with mostly interval "speed work" instead, which has the added benefit of making the time go by faster.

My leg has felt pretty good in the last week, so this past Monday I decided to take a shot at the first step in my sensible-return-to-running plan (more or less the same program my PT had me follow with my stress fracture last year): 1:00 jog followed by 2:00 walking. The goal is to do 30 minutes (so 10 intervals), but I was definitely not above stopping if it started to hurt at all. Thankfully, though, there was no pain and I completed the entire thing. Winning! (Or, y'know, breaking even, which I will totally take.)

The idea is to do a 30:00 walk-run session every other day (as long as there is no pain), gradually increasing the time spent running & decreasing the walking. So tomorrow it's another 10 intervals, this time 90 seconds on/90 seconds off.

Even though there is no pain, I can still tell that my body is super hesitant about bearing weight on my left arch through each stride & tries all sorts of tricks to avoid it. And it's kind of funny & amazing, how every time that starts to happen, I can feel some old injury start to complain. The more I think about it and pay attention to my body, the more I honestly feel like I can trace nearly every running injury I've ever had back to this one issue, which is both awesome (there might actually be *one* root cause!) and terrifying (if I can't fix it, I'm basically screwed).


I haven't traveled anywhere for fun since January, so next week we're taking off for Portland/Willamette Valley. Current plans include tooling around the city drinking beer & eating ridiculous food for a couple of days, then drinking All The Wine in the northern valley/eating more ridiculous food, then hiking the Columbia Gorge for a few days/drinking more beer. I mean yes, I'm supposed to be celebrating a marathon PR, but far be it from me to complain. The way I see it, this just means I get another cool trip come January.


Willamette Valley

Columbia Gorge

And yes, if my pictures don't look *exactly* like this, I am going to be disappointed.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


I almost never write solicited posts because 99% of the time the thing being shilled is boring and lame (and potentially not even relevant to this blog). BUT, I recently received an email from the folks at The Fro Yo Run about a 5K/10K going down in San Francisco on Sunday, September 6, 2015. And the answer is YES, "fro yo" as in "frozen yogurt," as in they will give you frozen yogurt at the end.

This post was almost sponsored because they did offer me a free entry, and I might have accepted it except that I will be gallivanting around the Willamette Valley that weekend. (Sorry, wine trumps fro yo.) BUT, what means is that you yes YOU could win that free entry for yourself.

I will now enumerate the many virtues of The FroYo 5K/10K.

  • Professionally chip timed
  • Flat, paved out-and-back course along the Embarcadero/around AT&T Park

  • No one shooting colored crap at you
  • Occurs during daylight hours
  • Did I mention the frozen yogurt at the end?

  • It's San Francisco at 8:30am so it won't actually be hot.
  • No one throwing fro yo at you during the race, in case you were worried
  • Sweet goody bag [disclaimer: I have not personally evaluated said goody bag, I just assume no moral, upstanding person would ever lie about such a thing. Also I hear stylish sunglasses, a premium mesh running hat, & a snazzy gear bag *may* be involved.]
  • Fro Yo-themed medal (SERIOUSLY HOW CAN YOU PASS THIS UP????)

  • Something called "The Fro Zone" ["75 ft revitalizing misting tunnel in the finish chute. Complete with music and cheering fans, it’s guaranteed to kick-start your motivation & fuel your finishing sprint."*

    This *may* or *may not* be The FroZone????

    *Note Fro Yo Zone optional]
  • There is a $5 coupon.
  • 4 pack discount available ($35 per person vs. $55. It was $42 until 8/19 but I didn't get this email until 8/18, soooo....). You don't even have to know who the 4 people are! MAKE A FRIEND!
  • Entrees are transferable (works like an event ticket)
  • 15% goes to the American Lung Association

UPDATE I double checked and this is TOTALLY THE FRO ZONE

If you yes YOU believe you may be equal to the epic challenge that is the The Fro Yo Run and would like a free entry, leave a comment by next Sunday (8/23). You could tell me your favorite kind of fro yo or, I dunno, just be like, "HEY I WANT A FREE ENTRY". I'll randomly choose a winner & announce it on Monday or Tuesday.


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

So here's the deal.

Remember that swollen, tender spot on my left tibia I mentioned a few weeks ago?

Remember how I cut my 16 mile long run short because it was sort of reaching yellow-flag levels of uncomfortable, but then it was fine the rest of the week, and it was fine through my 22 mile long run?

So, the day after that run (8/3), it felt a little tender, but no worse than when I've had shin splints flare up in the past around peak mileage weeks. I was walking fine & went to karate that night as usual. After running a few kata, though, it started to feel more and more uncomfortable, so I sat out the last 15 minutes or so.

The next day (8/4) I had a big track workout, but since I was traveling in the evening I couldn't go to SF Track Club as usual at Kezar. I could have done it during the day before heading to the airport, but the leg still didn't feel quite right, so I decided I'd give it a few more hours of rest & then maybe do it on the treadmill once I got to my hotel. Except, then my flight was delayed so I didn't get to my hotel until 10pm, and since I had a 6:00 am wake up call & hadn't eaten in like seven hours, I definitely did not get on a treadmill. Which I figured was probably for the best; my leg would get an extra day of rest & then I could do the workout on Wednesday.

Well. Wednesday evening (8/5) I got on the treadmill, and less than one minute into the warm-up got a big giant NOPE from my left tibia. It hurt. A lot. In a way that was uncomfortably familiar.

So I thought I'd give it a few more days & see how it felt. The spot on my tibia was kind of diffuse and not particularly painful to touch (it felt more like a large bruise), so I wasn't too worried about it yet.

Well, it didn't get better, even with complete rest. Instead, over the course of my work trip that week, it gradually got worse until even walking on it was quite painful and once or twice I legitimately thought about seeing if I could find some drugstore crutches somewhere just so I didn't make it worse. This is when I started to actually worry.

Also, why am I always alone in a hotel room when things like this happen?

From that point on, there was no question of trying to run on it. After a few days of resting it at home (~8/9ish), it started to feel much better, though by "much better," I mean "could technically walk on it, if I had to, with only a little pain."

Just based on how it felt at this point and how the pain presented (significantly better in the morning, worse by the end of the day), I was pretty sure I had a stress reaction & if I had tried to run on it, I probably could have turned it into a full-on stress fracture pretty easily. Because of where it is & how it feels with bearing weight in different ways, I'm 99% sure it's a result of trying to fix the issue with my left arch, & for all intents & purposes a part of my leg that has gotten away for a long time without doing much was suddenly thrown right into the middle of marathon training. It had been feeling better for a while so I'd gradually weaned myself off of taping up my foot; now I'm not sure that was such a hot idea. (Then again, it's also probably not the sole factor here, either.)

Now, with a stress reaction in a low-risk area (ie, low-risk for complications/nonunion, which tibia is), it is possible to recover with 2-3 weeks off running and then be able to run again, so at that point that's the medical factoid I was clinging to. (Nevermind, of course, that those 2-3 weeks are supposed to be followed by a "sensible return-to-running plan," not a goal marathon. I figured I'd burn that bridge when I came to it.)

I emailed with Coaches Tom & Ashley to let them know what was up, because my concern was that if I hadn't run at all in the 3 weeks prior to the race that it wouldn't even be worth starting, even if my leg was 100% better. They reminded me, though, just how little effect anything you do in those last three weeks has on race day compared to everything that came before, and if I was able to cross train some, it wasn't likely to affect my performance much. At that point (8/10) the plan was to get some cross training in & then see how things felt the following weekend.

And it definitely did improve pretty dramatically. I got some elliptical in instead of running, & by the end of last week (8/14) I was walking completely normally with no pain. I even jogged a few steps up & down the hall, which felt fine. I've been continuing to do my arch exercises, and there is a little pain in the bone with those in the same spot, but it doesn't linger, which is something.

So, we re-evaluated this weekend in terms of the options, which were pretty much 1) start & see how it feels, 2) drop to the half, or 3) don't run. Well, there's no space in the half at this point, so option 2) is out (also 8/1 was the deadline for switching anyway). After some back and forth, the recommendation from Tom & Ashley was to let this one go, get 100% healthy, & run CIM in December instead. The bottom line is that I want an A+ race, and even if I were able to start and even finish, that's looking pretty unlikely.

Obviously, I'm disappointed. Not utterly crushed the way I might have been if this had been a sudden thing (it's funny how two weeks of fretting lets you ease into the possibility), but still pretty bummed that this will be the second time in a row I've paid for this race, driven up to collect swag for it, & gone home without crossing the line.

But...I'm handling it. Okay, I *might* have needed a day to mope around in my pajamas & drink wine, but there's been no gnashing of teeth or rending of garments or throwing of crockery. No ugly-crying.

Part of the process has been making a list of reasons in my head (and, apparently, on the internet) of why not starting is for the best, even though it sucks massive donkey balls:

  • Sometimes I don't make good decisions. Yes, it's possible I could start the marathon, and everything could be fine. But it's also possible I could get to mile 22, realize things are Not Good, but be too amped up/dehydrated/emotionally unstable to do the rational thing and quit. (This is why I quit SRM at mile 14 last year. I could have gone farther but the hip was just getting worse, and I knew the closer I got to the finish, the harder it would be to quit.)
  • I want to go all-out at my next marathon. Even if my leg were feeling much better, it's still unlikely that I'd be able to give my absolute best effort on Sunday. I'd be thinking about the leg and paying attention to whether it hurts and how much and how bad I should let it get before I quit instead of focusing on my race. For a while I was kind of thinking, "Eh, if it feels okay, I could just aim to finish," except no. I have zero interest right now in running a marathon "just to finish." I would rather wait until I'm ready to kill it.
  • It leaves me well positioned for CIM. The rest of "I'll just try to finish" was "and then run CIM." When you think it through, though, the math doesn't really work out. Even if I were to run SRM comfortably AND my leg felt perfect, that's still ~4-6 weeks to recover & be ready to train again, leaving only ~8-10 weeks before CIM. Which means it's pretty unlikely I'd be in top shape. The way things stand now, I have some solid training under my belt, and if I can get my leg taken care of (and cross train in the mean time), I'll be in a good spot to roll that training over to a new cycle & build on it.
  • CIM is a better race for that anyway. Don't get me wrong, Santa Rosa is a great marathon on a good course and it's very well run. But it's pretty much accepted out here that if you want the best possible shot at an awesome marathon, given the choice, you run the net downhill race with six turns in December, not the one with 30+ turns in wine country in August.

So here's my loose plan:

  • Keep chillin' on the elliptical this week.
  • Keep up the arch strength stuff.
  • Once I've been 100% pain free for 5-7 days, embark on said "sensible return-to-running" plan & follow the guidelines re: whether or not the pain stays gone.
  • Spend 9/2-9/9 in Portland living the good life. (Did I mention this?? SO EXCITED.)
  • Stop slacking on strength work & get back in a routine with A.T., focusing particularly on the arch issue because BAAAAH.
  • Pick up the serious training again by mid-to-late September (provided all is well with the foot/leg bone).
  • Maybe run a half in there somewhere if I'm feeling it.

So....yeah. Boo. Sucks. However, I am trying to make the best of it. I have two friends running, & since I've already got the weekend free & the hotel room & there's a lot of pretty awesome wine to be enjoyed (especially by someone who is not running a marathon Sunday morning), it seems only logical to drown my sorrows in Pinot Noir go enjoy what there is to be enjoyed.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Shoe Review: Kinvara 5 vs. Kinvara 6

I'm dealing with some drama right now & don't really feel up to writing a week(s)-in-review or peppy goal race lead-up post, so instead you get the perennial Kinvara x vs Kinvara (x+1) review.

Kinvara 4 vs. Kinvara 5

Kinvara 3 vs. Kinvara 4

I'd forgotten about it for a while, until halfway through my 22 mile long run I started to kind of feel like maybe my current pair of Kinvara 5s, the ones specially reserved for long runs, were finally shot.

Sure enough, after entering that day's mileage into the spreadsheet on which I track these things, I saw that that particular pair had indeed broken 200 miles, and over the years I've learned that once a pair of Kinvaras reach that point I do not want to run in them for more than maybe 90 minutes because the cushioning just doesn't hold up. (The K5s seem to go maybe ~200 more miles in the 60-90 minute range & after that maybe ~100 or so for short, easy runs & then they're done. FWIW, I got more mileage out of older versions, but they never quite felt as good for runs over say ~2 hours.)

Kinvara 4

Kinvara 5

I had a spare pair of K5s in the closet that I'd gotten on clearance a few weeks back (which was good because now there is not one pair on the internet in my size to be found), so all that remained was to snag a pair of version 6 and get comparing.


According to Saucony, the Kinvara 6 was only an upper update, & the sole itself has not been touched. Specifically, the changes they mention are:

  • An update to the Pro-Lock feature that was new in the K5. ("delivers the optimal midfoot fit"; "delivers an even more dialed-in fit while maintaining the same light weight experience")
  • An update to the mesh ("a new breathable mesh to deliver a cool breeze while you're blazing the course"; "for that wind in your toes sensation")
  • Adjustments to the Flexfilm ("to help the shoe move better with your foot")

Everything else on version 6 is supposedly the same as version 5.

Like the K5s, the heel counter of the K6 uses a thicker, plusher material rather than FlexFilm, though this time around it looks like they're calling it RunDry™ rather than HydraMAX™.

Pro-Lock abides:

You can see how there have been some stylistic updates to the mesh & FlexFilm, but by & large the shoe still looks basically the same.

Oh, except for one very important thing:


THANK YOU, Saucony, for moving on from the radioactive, highlighter-ink hot mess that was the Kinvara 5's color palette.

Like the K5s, the K6 features an EVA+ midsole ("for lightweight, durable cushioning"), a decoupled heel ("flexes throughout the gait cycle to create better traction"), & PowerGrid/Powerfoam ("to create a cushioned and responsive ride"). The extra carbon rubber (XT-900) on the middle outer edge and toe area that showed up in version 5 stays, as does the IBR+ blown rubber in the midfoot ("a lightweight flexible material that offers enhanced cushioning and a smoother transition").

***WARNING:*** This is the part where my quantitative/data analysis nerditry shines through. Gird your loins.

Officially, the weight of the K6 was supposed to be the same as the K5. However, testing that out is a bit trickier for me this time around because I have a new scale. It's just an updated version of the old one so in theory it should be calibrated the same way, just slightly more precise, but as soon as I started weighing things I ran into some question marks.

Kinvara 5

Kinvara 6

Every Kinvara (size 7.5) I've ever owned & weighed has come in at 6.6 ounces (except for one rogue pair of 4s). It could be that this particular pair of K5s is just another "rogue" pair, but since I was using a new a scale, I decided to weigh some old K5s just to see what happened.

I have never once had an old shoe weigh in lighter than it did new (.2 ounces is a lot of rubber to wear off), so I'm tempted to conclude that the new scale just reads ~.1-.2 ounces lighter than the old one did. Which would put the Kinvara 6 at just slightly heavier than the 5s. (Though, if I were being really scientific about this, I would have weighed, like, five different pairs in case there's some slight variation the way there seemed to be with the version 4s. Sorry, not shelling out for that for a blog post.)

Two brand-new Kinvara 4s. After a year of use both still weighed the same as they did new.


When I first pulled on one of each and did a little bouncing around in them, I noticed two differences, both small but worth mentioning, I think.

Before you ask: Bed bugs, while traveling for work. Do not recommend.

First, my heel felt like it sat a little deeper in the K6 than in the K5. I don't have particularly strong feelings about this one way or the other; it's just something I noticed.

Second, while the K6 feels just as wide and roomy in the toe box as the K5 (THANK YOU), it feels distinctly tighter in the vertical direction (ie, between sole and top of foot). Not uncomfortable, mind you; they just hug the middle of my foot in a way that the K5 doesn't. Something I have noticed about the 5s, having worn out three pairs now, is that as they get older and the midsole gets compacted a bit and the plush places in the upper collapse some, they start to feel significantly looser. I've often found myself a mile or two into a run and had to stop to tighten up the laces because my feet feel like they're sliding around some in the shoe. I've heard similar comments from others so I wonder if this change was strategic.

The marketing copy mentions an "Internal Bootie wraps the foot for a sock-like fit" and also that "Comfortlite Sockliner is a molded sockliner that contours the heel and arch, reducing pressures in the forefoot," so I kind of wonder if that's what that is.

Otherwise, no discernible differences. The K6 fit the same size-wise (slightly big; I wear a 7.5 in Kinvaras whereas in most other running shoes I wear an 8), the toe box felt about the same, and the shape of the shoe & the feel of the cushioning felt identical just walking around the house.

Part 2: Wherein I Put Some Miles on the Kinvara 6!

Monday, August 3, 2015

22 in the books

Since I was traveling this week, I kind of figured I'd end up missing at least one run, and indeed that did happen. But only one! Which means, only two so far this cycle! And I still got the big one done on Sunday.

Longest training run ever!!

I didn't try to get fancy with it--just down to the Park & loops of the eastern half (~4 miles each). It's really been unseasonably warm & sunny here lately (see: my two 21 milers, both of which happened in 80/90F temps. WTF, San Francisco??), so I went ahead & did the full Osmo pre-load thing just in case.

It turned out NOT to be in the 80s/90s, for which I was super thankful. Though it was probably 70 & full sun, which, once you've been running for a couple of hours, does feel kind of warm if you're not in the shade, so there were definitely a couple of times when I paused to stand in a patch of shade & revel in the 10mph head wind.

(Also...yes. There was a 10mph head wind. So going west for any amount of time kind of sucked.)

Still, this run was without a doubt the easiest, both physically & mentally, of the three 20+ ones that I did this cycle. The worst part was unquestionably the beginning, when I just felt tired & like I was wearing a lead vest. (Running three miles & feeling like crap & knowing you still have 19 left go to is a special kind of hell.) The benefit of doing a bunch of longer-than-usual long runs like this close together, though, is I think that you just kind of get used to that feeling & eventually are able to stand outside of it & say, "Yes, that is a feeling I am having, but it's only a feeling, and it will go away in ten more miles or so."

And, it did. Yes, it was still a 22 mile run and it was still hard, but I felt more and more positive the farther along I got. I just kept ticking off benchmarks in my head ("x hours down!" "x laps down!" "x fraction down!") which I think also helped.

The hardest part was psyching myself up to do the four hard miles I was supposed to do at the end, and ohhhh, let me tell you how not excited about that I was. I'd been ticking off most of these in the 9:30-10:00 range and the thought of ratcheting down to 8:00 and preferably faster was incredibly daunting. Enter: lying to myself. "Oh, we'll just try to run a little faster, and if it's awful, we can go back to 9:30-10:00." But I had a feeling that once I started running faster it would actually feel good and satisfying, even if it was hard, which it did. The first two were a bit slower since they were partly up hill & also into the 10mph headwind (maybe 8:15ish), but the last two were 7:40 & 7:30 respectively, which I sort of could not believe even as it was happening.

Tired of post-long run blogger selfies that look so
cute & perfect you just want to puke? LOOK NO FURTHER.
(Also thanks, Mike, for the sweet tank! I think it's officially broken in.)

Since my tune-up race kind of bombed, I haven't really had much to go on in terms of figuring out whether my goal pace of ~8:00/mile is in any way realistic right now. I feel like if I could run a sub-1:40 half, I'd feel confident that it is. I still don't really know, but busting out those last two miles in close to half marathon pace and thinking, "Yeah, this is hard, but not that bad" after already having run 18 miles made me think that maybe, just maybe, I'm fitter right now than I feel.

~*~*~SRM WEEK 17 OF 20~*~*~

Grand Total: 38.3 miles

    * 12.3 easy
    * 6 speed/tempo
    * 22 long (w/ 4 @ race effort or faster)

Monday: Rest

    When we left off, I'd cut short my 16 miler on Sunday due to some yellow-okay-maybe-kinda-orange-ish pain in my left tibia that reminded me a little too much of the pain I'd run through right before ending up with a stress fracture 1.5 years ago. Monday is almost always a non-running day, but since I was traveling & thus had no karate to go to and also hadn't actually run long the day before, part of me was like, "Maybe I should make up some of those miles from Sunday...?" Tentative emailing ensued & the immediate response was, "DON'T YOU DARE."

Tuesday: 2 warm up, 2 x 2 @ HM pace / 2:00 jog, 2 cool down = 8 total

    Since it's pretty much 90-100F all the time where we were (and also I don't really know the area), I planned to do all my running this week on the hotel treadmill. Unfortunately I think the hotel exercise room was probably about 80F, so I only came out a little ahead there.

    I spent most of this run obsessing about my left tibia & trying to quantify the degree of pain. It was definitely much improved since Sunday (I did the whole run without any thought of cutting it short), but also definitely still felt kind of tender. Also, I just LOVE how everything feels twice as hard on a treadmill. #effyoutreadmills

Because this comic will literally never get old.

Wednesday: Rest

    Knowing getting all the miles in this week was going to be tricky, I briefly toyed with the idea of throwing in a short, easy run on Wednesday. But given that that lump on my tibia was still pretty tender and something about my right calf/Achilles had been super unhappy after Tuesday's run, I thought maybe this was just kind of asking for trouble & I should stick to the schedule.

Thursday: 8 easy

    No but I really did feel like I was about to die at the beginning of this run. Everything hurt. I was exhausted. I dragged myself through half a mile, rested for a while, dragged myself through another half mile, rested, dragged myself through a third half mile, & at that point seriously considered calling it quits. A little walk down the air conditioned hallway refreshed me a bit, though, & I thought, "Well, I'll see if I can run maybe one more mile." Little by little I started to not feel like death & got through it mostly by focusing on the Family Guy marathon playing on the TV. I think this was mostly a work stress/exhaustion thing, but man, did it suck.

Friday: 2 warm up, 6 x 200m / 1:30 jog, 30:00 GMP, 6 x 200m / 1:30, 2 cool down Rest/travel/pass out

    This was the workout I kept trying to figure out some way to fit in & just couldn't come up with anything other than moving a run to Wednesday or Saturday (which, ultimately, I think would have been a bad idea). I suppose technically I could have driven to the track when I got home Friday evening, though that would have meant bolt off the plane, jump in a cab, change clothes, drive to track, run from 7:30-9:30ish, & get home at ~10:00pm. Oh yeah and also do all this without eating.

    In reality, I arrived home starving & exhausted & passed out immediately.

Saturday: Rest

    Again, briefly toyed with either doing Friday's workout or a few easy miles. But since I would have had to do it in the evening AND was supposed to run 22 miles on Sunday, this didn't seem like a smart tradeoff.

Sunday: 22 long

So, no, not an ideal week, exactly, but I just keep reminding myself that it was only one run & on this same trip last year I was too injured to do any running at all. Also, I think getting the long run done counts for a lot.

Three! More! Weeks!

Three! More! Weeks!

Three! More! Weeks!