Monday, December 25, 2017

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

A white Christmas for us!

Season's Greetings from snowy Spokane, WA where we are spending Christmas with Don's family. Also, it is COLD. Yes, it is often much colder here than in San Francisco, but as our SF winters average probably 55F and rarely dip below 40F, that's not a tough bar. In Spokane it's frequently in the 30s and 40s and sometimes the mid-20s, but we knew that this year it would be been teens & low-to-mid 20s for our entire stay, so when packing I pretty much just emptied my ski bag into my suitcase.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The deal with those fancy new Nike shoes.

ICYMI the ever-inquisitive Alex Hutchinson has left Competitor (RIP Competitor, which is *kind of* still Competitor but not really) and now writing for Outside Online. Most recently he tackled the issue of those fancy new Nike shoes, the Vaporfly, which purportedly improve efficiency by 4%. Now, for a while that was just Nike making claims, though the lack of actual scientific evidence did not stop many people from rushing out to drop hundreds (!) of dollars on them. But last week the results of an actual, rigorous randomized control trial run by a legit, reputable lab (the University of Colorado’s Locomotion Laboratory) were published in a for-real peer reviewed science journal (Sports Medicine), and it's official; the Vaporfly really does (or at least can) honestly and truly improve runners' efficiency by over 4%.

Yes, the study was funded by Nike because that's how research works, but given the reputation of the lab and the researchers involved and how the paper was published, you can be reasonably sure that the results are legit and not just more Nike propaganda. So, yeah, if someone is wearing them and seems to have an astonishingly good race, there is a nonzero change that the shoe really did have something to do with it. (As you probably already know, Eliud Kipchoge was wearing them when he clocked that just-barely-not a 2 hour marathon in Italy earlier this year, and Shalane Flanagan was wearing them when she destroyed the NYC marathon last month; see also Galen Rupp in Chicago and Camille Herron destroying the 100 mile record by over an hour.) To quote Hutchinson, "There’s something going on with these shoes."

Monday, December 18, 2017

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

The scene that greeted me as I finished Friday's threshold run just after sunset. Gorgeous, yes, but unfortunately the lovely colors are mostly the result of a bunch of crap in the air from the Thomas fire down south.

Ahhhh, the CIM stories just keep pouring in. So many wonderful races for so many friends and internet acquaintances, and I feel pretty certain this is the most PR and BQ stories I've heard from one race for as long as I've been running. I'd been planning to take some time off from marathons after next April but I already love that damn race so much that every time someone else is like, "Oh, yeah, I forgot to post about CIM, [AMAZING THING ACCOMPLISHED]," I feel like I'm right there in those last miles again getting all weepy and giddy and then my race registration finger starts getting twitchy. The CIM $99 holiday sale is not helping matters.

But I'm not giving in! Not just yet, anyway. I mean, I'm not saying I won't run CIM next year, but spots will certainly still be there in May. No, they won't be $99 anymore, but the last thing I want to do is buy a cheap registration, realize come summer that I am just plain marathon'd out for a while, & then feel like I have to jump back into training so I don't waste that $99. I'd rather pay more and be sure because there's no such thing as a good deal on a DNS or a race you're not excited about.

Meanwhile, back here in 2017...

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Race Talk: You Have A Right to Your Disappointment

This past weekend was the Cal International Marathon in Sacramento, which when it comes to marathons, we all know is 100% the best in the west. Any number of my good friends were out there, as well as a number of other bloggers or visible social media-type people that I follow, and I've spent the last couple days liking/heart-ing/favoriting my little heart out of dozens of pictures, tweets, and various other types of social media posts.

Far & away one of my favorite parts of big race weekends, whether I'm racing or not, is celebrating the hard-fought victories of friends and others, and last weekend was no exception. From all accounts, the weather was perfect, the temperature was lovely, and PRs, BQs, and OTQs were racked up by the barrel full.

There are always other stories, though. Stories of giving it everything you had and still coming up short of a long-held goal. Of being foiled by some dumb injury. Of training that didn't go as planned, of DNFs and DNSs. Of working and working and working to get back to a certain time and coming nowhere close. Whether you had an amazing day or an abysmal one, it's hard to know what to say sometimes when others around you are in a different place.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Catching Up: Life Since RNR San Jose...

Okay, you get ONE full length post. I started it about a month ago, but everything in it is still true, so...


The weather here in San Francisco has suddenly gone quite autumnal lately. Up until a couple of weeks ago things were warm and bright and summery; then the time changed and suddenly everything got dark and rainy and cold.

The view two blocks away. SF looking moody & brooding

My early evening runs are not done 100% in darkness yet, but enough to warrant breaking out the reflective vest.

On the other hand, running in the dark does have its perks.

Monday, November 27, 2017


Seriously, guys. I've started about 10 posts since my last one and just never can seem to find the time to finish even one of them. I'll think, "Well this will just be a short catch-up post..." and then 20 paragraphs later I feel like I've barely scratched the surface.

So. While I'm scraping the bottom of the free-time bucket, I'm going to try micro-blogging, wherein I sit down and complete a post & hit 'Publish' in 10 minutes or less. HERE WE GO!!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Books 2017: Quarter 3

Friends, it is fall. And fall is definitely the best time for talking about books.

As you probably already know, I've been reading a classic a month for the last two years. It started as a one-year project in 2014, but I've enjoyed it enough to keep going with it & will probably continue until it starts to feel like a chore. You can find my past reviews by clicking on the "books" tag at the end of this post, or be my friend on Goodreads. (You can also just go to the site & hunt down my review feed without being my friend, if that's more your speed.)

ICYMI, the classics I selected to read in 2017 are here.

On to the reviews!

Monday, October 16, 2017

What to Do with the Medals

Don't worry, this isn't a rant-y post about "always earned never given" or why we should or should not give grown-ass adults participation trophies. Take the medal. Don't take the medal. Wear it. Don't wear it. Put it a trophy case or a trash can or wherever makes your little heart the happiest. (File under: internet arguments I have no energy for.)

Emergy for a snarky gif, though? Always.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Because Boston's Not Enough.....

Sure, everyone's so obsessed with That One Marathon in April, but it turns out that there are a few others. Pretty highly regarded ones, even. One of them is just down the road from here, along Highway 1.

I have lots of friends who have run this race (multiple times, even!) and absolutely raved about it. You also can't really argue with it being on the short list for marathons with the best views. So I've definitely been a bit Big Sur-curious for a few years now, but never pulled the trigger.

There are some good reasons for this. The main one is that my focus as a runner tends to mostly be on speed and working hard to have the fastest race I possibly can, and Big Sur does not really lend itself particularly well to that. It's not the Pike's Peak Marathon or anything, but there is 2,000+ ft of elevation gain (as opposed to, say, 200+ in the Eugene Marathon, 300+ in the Napa Valley Marathon, and 400-500+ in CIM) and there is the potential for heinous wind. Sure, I'm up for running the occasional casual race for the experience, but marathons suck up so much time and energy--to say nothing of the money involved when it's a destination race--that I've mostly limited that stuff to shorter races where I don't feel like I'm giving up 6 months of training for something I know isn't going to be a fast race.

Another reason is its insane popularity. I am super super turned off by races that sell out in minutes or hours or where you have to send your credit card info off into the void, cross your fingers, and hope you're randomly selected by the running gods. I just could not get that excited about the uncertainty of it all.

But then at some point last year I remembered the existence of the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge, wherein anyone registered for Boston can sign up to also run Big Sur 6 or 13 days later (depending on the year) and also get a bunch of nice perks as well. Since I was already committing six months to for-real marathon training and wouldn't ever be betting on Big Sur for a fast race anyway, I decided, what the heck? Let's see how these old legs handle two marathons in less than two weeks. (Thankfully, 2018 is a 13-day gap year; I don't know if I'm quite crazy enough to try this in a 6-day gap year!)

Since I have a conference to present at in DC in during those two weeks, however, things will be a bit shall we say interesting next April travel-wise.

Le Plan:

    Friday, April 13: Fly to Boston, do fun Boston-ish things

    Monday, April 16: ***Boston Marathon***

    Tuesday, April 17: Train to NYC, do fun NYC-ish things

    Saturday, April 21: Train to DC, do fun DC-ish things

    Monday, April 23: Speak at conference

    Wednesday, April 25: Fly to SF

    Thursday, April 26: Drive down to Big Sur, do fun Big Sur-ish things

    Sunday, April 29: ***Big Sur Marathon***

The plus side is that thanks to my conference, work will cover my flights; the downside is that there may not be as much rest & recovery during those 13 days as one might ideally hope for.

Eh, I suppose it's not called a challenge for nothing....

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Race Report: Rock N Roll San Jose Half Marathon (& 5K/10K)

***Update: You guys, I just realized that this was my 20th half marathon!!! I'll just be sitting at home awaiting my extra-special bonus medal that I assume someone somewhere will put in the mail to me, since there is apparently one of those for every possible running accomplishment imaginable.***

I've had a super tough time lately getting back to this little corner of the internet, but last week I did manage to post a pre-race update on The Instagrams:

My friends are the best.

ICYMI I had one of the worst races of my life a month ago (Race to the End of Summer 10K), which felt extra-special bad since last year in that same race I was 2nd overall, 1st in my age group, and came within spitting distance of felling a four-year-old PR. My training had been better this year and I thought for sure I'd at least beat last year's time and maybe even PR.

But you know what they say: Never tell the universe your plans!

Even before that, though, 2017 had been one awful race after another in spite of the fact that my training has been going reasonably well. So, there is definitely a part of me that was trying to a) brace myself for an awful RNRSJ and b) figure out what the heck I was going to do with myself emotionally if it happened.

And you know what? That's exhausting.

Monday, September 25, 2017


Hi hi,

Some people asked me lately if I'd been so demoralized by my recent 10K that I just gave up running all together, what with the lack of blog posts and Strava data & general radio silence.

No way, dude! But I have had an unfortunate coincidence of circumstances that kind of makes it look that way, namely

    1) I've got some really big work projects lately that involve a lot of time and particularly a lot of writing, so I've been trying to be a responsible grown up & devote my spare writing spoons to the stuff that actually pays the bills, and

    2) My (1.5 year old) Garmin may or may not have just bit the dust last week. When it's charged it works fine, but it's been getting harder and harder to wiggle it just right so that it will make contact with the charger pins enough to actually connect, and I guess a couple of weeks ago was the week it finally went NOPE! So I've been slowly watching the juice drain out of it, and a couple of days ago it went dead at long last. I've been in touch with Garmin support & tried all their suggestions but nothing works, to which their response was, "Sorry, only 1 year warranty, but we'll totally send you a refurbished one for like $150." Which I guess is better than dropping another $300+ on a new one, but I'm going to try one last Hail Mary & see if REI (where I bought it) will see it as a manufacturer's defect (since it's only 1.5 years old it hardly seems fair to call this normal wear & tear) & replace it. We shall see. In any case, that's why there's been no Strava data. Lately it's been all treadmills & running in lane 1 or on a known route with an old school stopwatch.

As far as the shitty 10K goes, I've appreciated all the advice I've gotten from people more experienced at racing than me who've been like a) seriously, you had a lot of crap going on that weekend, of course you had a shit race, and b) sometimes we just have shit races no matter how fit we are, who knows why, it doesn't really matter, move along, nothing to see here. So that's the attitude I've been trying to take.

Who even cares, though, because last week this happened.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Race Report: Race to the End of Summer 10K

Every now and then, you have a race that leaves you staring breathlessly at your watch going, "Holy f***ing shit!! How the hell did THAT happen?"

Well, I had one of those races on Sunday. Except not in the way that you generally hope for.

I ran this race last year as an early tune-up for CIM. It was cheap and reasonably close to home and looked fairly flat and fast, except for maybe the fact that it's in San Jose during the summer and thus likely to be hot. Let me also say that I didn't have the highest of expectations last year because after running possibly my slowest marathon ever (or pretty close, anyway) at the end of April, I took May more or less off, spent most of June consuming LOTS of dairy, whisky, & other not-particularly-healthy things & getting basically zero physical activity, and returned at the end of the month pretty darn out of shape and unable to fit comfortably into most of my clothes.

Knowing I had just two months to prep for a 10K and five for CIM, I got straight to work running 40+ easy miles a week & lifting three times a week. I didn't have much hope that I'd get very far in eight weeks (including only three not-that-intense speed workouts), so I was utterly stunned to run 44:38, just 17 seconds off my PR, and come in 1st in my age group and 2nd overall. I think I spent a solid five minutes staring at the official results going "HOW?????" But hey, I'll take it! And when the race organizers sent out a $25 re-run offer for next year, I figured, why not?

So, here we are, next year. I'm certainly no longer in the shape I was in for CIM, but for the last few months my mileage has been in the 40+ range and pretty darn consistent, including reasonably intense speed and tempo/threshold workouts twice weekly. I haven't been in the gym three days a week without fail, but I've been making it twice a week pretty regularly (and I can squat and deadlift a LOT more than I could last summer, which should at least theoretically translate into power). So part of me felt like, "Surely I should be in the same ballpark as last year, and maybe even faster."

On the other hand, I've mentioned many times lately just how exhausted these 40+ weeks have left me, which seems silly. I can't ever remember feeling so worn out, even running 50+ miles a week. My speed workouts have been fine but my last two threshold workouts were the worst I can ever remember in terms of just plain not being able to run the target paces, by more than a little. So another part of me has not felt that confident about this 10K at all.

Monday, August 28, 2017

SJRNRHM Week 9 of 14: Heyyyy I'm running a race next week......

You guys, I feel like I have to acknowledge the lack of interesting posts lately. Honest, I've started like three real, actual blog posts that are not just semi-coherent rambling followed by a training log but it seems like I never have the time or energy to finish any of them. We have no kitchen and are about to have no bathroom. We're moving out of our house today for probably the next three or four months (basically, until our bathroom is done and can functionally go back to living there) and still have about ten thousand decisions to make, which will be closely followed by at least ten thousand tasks that go along with those decisions (ie, make a final decision on the bathroom tile, then deal with ordering and storing the bathroom tile). I looked at about seven hundred bathroom faucets on Saturday and nearly had a nervous breakdown after. My living room is a nightmare of hastily stuffed cardboard boxes and tile samples. I can't even think about the eight different rooms we have to choose paint colors for.

This is how I feel some days.

So, yeah. As much as I'd rather be writing clever blog posts, it's not where my head's been lately.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017


Did you manage to survive the eclipse?? Hopefully no squirrels speaking to you with the face of a child or cats & dogs living together??

We had about 76% totality here & although my camera refused to fully cooperate, there were some cool pinhole leaf images.

There's a partial eclipse in there somewhere....

Running-wise, week 8 wasn't a *terrible* week, but it also wasn't exactly the week I'd planned. As usual, things got off to a pretty decent start with morning strength work and karate on Monday and a solid speed session (9.5 miles) at the track on Tuesday. All paces were hit and nothing felt weird or off.

That is, until I got home, and noticed that some of the painful spots in my shins from the week before had returned. And there was one tender painful spot in particular on the left side that did not get better as the evening went on, and in fact the pain was bad enough to be actively annoying and keep me up half the night and irritate me the entire next day at work.

Generally, I don't freak out too much about painful shins. I've always gotten shin splints, and after years of seeing a wide range of professionals and trying every imaginable intervention on earth, I've come to the conclusion that they're largely due to tight calves, so I do try to roll and stretch them out as much as possible (y'know. When I think about it).

It used to be that the possibility of a real-life-honest-to-god stress fracture was a kind of bogey man that scared the crap out of me any time the shin splints got bad or started to feel a little more localized, but it always went away without ever showing any of the really tale-tell signs of a stress fracture. So shin pain became sort of this ritual where I'd wring my hands and whisper to myself, "Gee, I hope I don't have a stress fracture" but then also roll my eyes at myself going, "For the last time, chill, you so do not have a stress fracture." But, that was before I lived through two of them, so these days they feel a lot more like a legitimate concern.

(For the idly curious: PTs guessed that the first sfx--fibula, left leg--was a result of using my left leg to compensate for worrying about the recently torn muscle in my right hip, and the second--tibia, also left leg--was a result of trying too hard to shift my form to running on the middle of the ball of my foot rather than the outside, which is more my natural tendency (and once left me with tendinitis in both feet). In neither situation was I running even *remotely* a lot, nor had I made any changes in terms of footwear or running surfaces, which I just mention because although those are the most common reasons for stress fractures, they can happen for other reasons, too.)

This pain on Tuesday and Wednesday was weird in that it definitely felt like bone pain (once you've had a bone injury you will never mistake it for anything else) and definitely felt localized to one spot, but I did not have pain while walking, running, or hopping on one leg (key sfx indicators). Also the spot felt as if it was right behind my tibia, right where the muscle attached, which made me wonder if it was some kind of weirdness where my (inevitably over-tight) calf muscles were pulling on the bone in some way and that was what was causing the pain.

Cue allllll the rolling

There was no karate on Wednesday so I'd planned an easy 8-10 miler, but given that the spot on my shin had been aching all day, I figured it was smarter to skip the run and instead take a big dose of extra calcium & then grab a nap. (Fun fact: Not sleeping enough increases your risk of stress fractures, because deep sleep is when your body releases a lot of the hormones that do the work of rebuilding tissue damage from exercise.)

Thankfully by Thursday everything felt normal, though I still felt really, really tired. (Fun fact #2: Lately I've felt like I'm running 60 miles a week rather than low to mid 40s, for which I blame stress, lack of sleep, and not eating as well as I should be largely due to lacking a kitchen.) Friday and Saturday went fine, and on Sunday I had a 14 mile long run schedule; alas, it was cut short due to basically giving myself donut poisoning that morning (don't ask) so I ended up with only 10.3 miles.

So, yeah. It's been a week!

* * * Rock 'N Roll San Jose Half: Week 8 of 14 * * *

Monday, August 14, 2017

SJRNRHM Week 7 of 14: Cut-Back Week / Cookin' in the Bathroom

A couple of solid workouts still this week, but cutting back on the total mileage a bit. Going into it I found myself thinking, "Do I really need a cut-back week? I feel fine!" Come Tuesday evening, though, the answer was a clear, "Uhhhh, yes. Yes I would very much like a cutback week, please and thank you."

To be honest, I am definitely feeling more beat up so far this training cycle than I ever did training for CIM last fall, and running WAY less mileage on average (and less than I'd planned, at least thus far). I'm not really sure what to chock that up to, except maybe that whole thing about your body doesn't distinguish physical stress from mental/emotional stress, and last fall we definitely, DEFINITELY were not living in a construction zone and, oh yeah, without an actual kitchen. (Until you've scrambled eggs in the microwave and washed your dishes in the bathroom sink, you have not lived.)

Current state of the kitchen

Also we just learned that they want to demo the bathroom in a week or two, so while I'm proud of us for sticking it out for nearly six months, it may actually be time to move out & let them finish the rest of the work without us in the way.

* * * Rock 'N Roll San Jose Half: Week 7 of 14 * * *

Monday, August 7, 2017

SJRNRHM Week 6 of 14: Drama-Free Training

I'm sure you've all seen this meme floating around:

Now I am under no illusions that I'm one of the truly fast kids, but I generally finish in the top 5-20% when I race and have podiumed my share of small local races here & there, & that sometimes seems to give some people the idea that I feel like the lady in the top picture when I'm running.

I find this hilarious. Like. I've been long-distance running since the mid-90s and I can count on maybe two hands all the times when I've felt like the lady in the top picture. On a good day I feel a lot like the kid in the bottom pic; on the tougher days, I feel maybe a little more like this:

And you know what? I'm really 100% fine with that. Not feeling fresh and peppy every day is the reality of cumulative fatigue and actually training hard enough, in terms of quality and/or volume, to improve. Honestly, if I started to feel like the lady in the top picture too often, I'd assume I wasn't training enough & needed to step it up.

I definitely went through a phase (around the time I started doing races more frequently and actually making an effort to get faster, ca. 2008-2011ish) of feeling like the lady in the top photo is what it should feel like, at least once you're in decent shape. The running blog world of that time did not help matters, with all its #blessed this and #humbled that and post-workout pictures featuring peppy smiles and perfect makeup and nary a hair out of place.

Seriously, I could not figure it out. People seemed absolutely brimming with joy and bursting at the seams with #gratitude after every [flawlessly instagrammed] run. This was before it was trendy to #keepitreal, and I remember wondering as I perused the internet if I was doing this training thing wrong somehow because where were all the posts about "Eh, today was a run" or "8 easy miles, fine" or even "Ugh, tired today, really wanted a nap instead."

As it turns out, those make for less heart-able Instagram posts.

At this point I feel pretty comfortable in my own running skin. I know I don't look like a lady in a Nike ad, even on my best days, and I don't expect to feel like one either. My bar for what counts as a "good" run is a lot lower. (Did it get done? Am I not injured? #winning) I've embraced my slow, comfy 10-10:30 easy pace, even though most of the time it feels more like a shuffle than really running (because guess what, results, bitches). These days, for the most part, the thick of training for a goal race feels neither fantastic or awful. It just kind

I was reading on some coach's blog or newsletter recently (though I can't find it now) about how that's how he knows an athlete's training is going well. Their training log notes aren't filled with breathless raves about how magical a run felt or how #blessed they, nor with angsty rants about how terrible it was; for the most part it's just full of miles and ticked-off workouts and quick notes about how most runs were just kind of fine.

He referred to this steady, unremarkable, sometimes boring ticking off of workouts as drama-free training, which I immediately wanted emblazoned on a T-shirt, because yes! More of that! I don't need scads of effortless tempos that feel like I'm flying or spiritually fulfilling, life-changing runs that I can plaster all over Instagram. All I need is the work, mostly slow and steady, plugging away, unceremoniously depositing workouts into the First Bank of Training, one mile at a time. I don't need to feel like the Nike ad. I just need to get it done.

* * * Rock 'N Roll San Jose Half: Week 6 of 14 * * *

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

SJRNRHM Week 5 of 14: Getting in Miles, but Losing the Kitchen

Things at our house have been getting interesting.

Did I mention that we're five months into a massive remodel? We're five months into a massive remodel. Now that there's a real floor, stairs, proto-walls, and windows, the (previously unpermitted and very very not-up-to-code) downstairs area is starting to feel like a real house!

The next step is to demo our crappy upstairs kitchen & start building a fancy MORE BETTER kitchen and powder room, and then finally demo our crappy upstairs bathroom & turn it into a smaller but much nicer en suite. Demo on the kitchen starts Wednesday, so we spent a lot of our Sunday cleaning out the various cabinets & drawers.

Meanwhile, the "kitchen" is now in the living room.

There are a lot of unanswered questions currently, like how are we feeding ourselves without resorting to takeout every night, where is the large refrigerator going, and what happens when they finally come to demolish our bathroom. Fingers crossed the vast majority of the work will be done within the next three months, but honestly I'll just be happy if things go back to normal by the end of this year.

In the meantime, training for stuff!

* * * Rock 'N Roll San Jose Half: Week 5 of 14 * * *

Monday, July 24, 2017

SJRNRHM Week 4 of 14: More like it (+ some thoughts on disordered eating in sport)

While in Tahoe over 4th of July, Don & I got into talking about the extremes of disordered eating that pervades our respective (current & past) sports--rock climbing for him, distance running & (in my younger days) gymnastics for me. We'd been talking about rock climbing & how a friend of his had mentioned how she'd recently lost like 5 pounds and how it made a real, noticeable difference in how easy climbing felt, & from there about the siren call of weight loss in endurance sports in general ("If I can just lose 3/5/7/etc. pounds, x/y/z will feel easier/I'll be faster/more powerful/etc.") & how then depending on your personal background, psychology, & environment, it can be such a short, slippery leap to really dangerous, misguided stuff like skipping meals and cutting out entire food groups and intentionally not fueling your workouts in order to create a larger calorie deficit.

Then completely coincidentally, this Outside article popped up in my Facebook feed the very next day, which I found fascinating and sent on to Don.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Race Report: Tamalpa Runners Track Meet 5K


To summarize some semi-relevant stuff I've posted in the past, I've only really ever run one 5K in my adult life where I was healthy and in good shape & training kinda-sorta heavily (to the extent that I ever train "heavily"), which is where I set my current PR (20:44/6:40 pace) in May 2012. It was so much faster than nearly every other 5K I've ever run that after a while it didn't really feel real, like "WHO ME RUN MULTIPLE 6:40 MILES IN A ROW? Phhhbbbt, that's not a thing that actually happened." Well, after massively PRing the marathon in December, I figured, what the hey? Let's take a crack at thing and see just how sturdy that dusty old PR is.

So, I registered for PrideMeet on June 17. (ProTip: If you want to run a fast, accurate 5K, do it on the track. Just don't weave too much.) I was in 60/40 not bad shape going into it in early May, then spent about 6-7 weeks adding some serious speed workouts. The workouts were tough but made a nice change from marathon training, and other than a sketch right calf muscle, I felt good going into the meet.

One sentence race recap: I ran a 6:52 mile which felt weirdly easy, then a 6:41 mile and still felt good, then proceeded to pull my calf so badly I couldn't put weight on it for several days. {Shakes fist at sky} Sure, I was bummed and frustrated, but another part of me could not believe I had run those splits and felt so good doing it. Sure, the plan had been to run this one 5K and then get serious about San Jose half training (10/8), but somehow I just could not let it go. What if I let the calf heal and run another?? Could that seemingly-untouchable PR seriously be about to fall??

And you know where this leads.

Tuesday, July 18 was soon circled on my calendar.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

SJRNRHM Week 3 of 14: If life could stop kicking the crap out of me, plzthnx....

Ugh. I can't say I'm not beating myself up a little over this past week's mileage and other various running failures. I've been super swamped with work stuff, which actually should not affect running that much time-wise (I mean, weekdays I'm generally running *maybe* 2 hours tops?), but it's been sapping all my energy and motivation.

On top of that, there have been a lot of social things going on. And don't get me wrong, I have wonderful friends and I love the social things! They are good for me in lots of ways, and when I'm feeling rested and motivated it's not usually a problem to plan ahead and get done what needs to get done. But this week I completely failed at that, and it feels pretty terrible. There is definitely a part of me that is looking back at those posts about big-hairy-audacious goals and trying to peak at 75 miles a week and run a 1:35ish half in October and then looking at myself in the mirror with a raised eyebrow like, "Are you sure you really want that? Because right now you kinda seem like maybe you don't really want it all that much."

It's not that I'm unmotivated; in some ways, I'm extremely motivated, which is why it feels so bad. Instead it feels more like mileage and workouts were something I used to fight for, desperately (because that's the only way it ever happens), and lately I don't seem to have much fight.

But, what happened happened (or didn't), and all I can really do is look forward to the 11 weeks I have left and try to do better.


* * * Rock 'N Roll San Jose Half: Week 3 of 14 * * *

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Books 2017: Quarter 2

Guys. Where is the year going. July?? Crazy pants.

As you probably already know, I've been reading a classic a month for the last two years. It started as a one-year project in 2014, but I've enjoyed it enough to keep going with it & will probably continue until it starts to feel like a chore. You can find my past reviews by clicking on the "books" tag at the end of this post, or be my friend on Goodreads. (You can also just go to the site & hunt down my review feed without being my friend, if that's more your speed.)

ICYMI, the classics I selected to read in 2017 are here.

On to the reviews!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

SJRNRHM Week 2 of 14: So far, so good + Another 5K?

Happy post-Fourth of July! As usual, we mostly just saw glowing clouds here.


Nothing super exciting to report this week; still pretty low mileage, but a gradual bump up from last week, including a bit of speed work (with no calf pain! Yay!), which is what we call progress. Also, it's kind of funny how quickly you start to lose your endurance. Going into those 8-10 milers, I'd be thinking, "Maybe I'm being too conservative, maybe I should go a little further." And then 75% through or thereabouts, I'd find myself thinking, "Nope, that was just about right!" I've also been lifting more consistently (#goldstars) but my legs aren't quite used to it yet, so that also makes things a little harder than usual. But overall, I'm happy with how the week turned out.

In other news, I'm debating taking another crack at 5K on the track next Tuesday in San Rafael. I'll be working in Sacramento that day so the only reason it's even a possibility is because the 5K is the last event, but I might also be completely exhausted by then & just want to go home & sleep. I also know that I won't really be ready for it the same way as I was on the 17th, coming off of a pretty low mileage month and just a couple of short speed workouts vs. a pretty decent mileage month with quite a lot of 5K-focused speed work. But I definitely have a habit of only ever wanting to race when I know I'm in really good shape & well-tapered & etc., which honestly means I don't just race for fun as much as I'd like. So....maybe??

* * * Rock 'N Roll San Jose Half: Week 2 of 14 * * *

Friday, July 7, 2017

SJRNRHM Week 1 of 14: run in tahoe, try not to faint

Oof. This training cycle is not starting out the way I'd hoped! My plan was to race an awesome 5K on 6/17, then spend a couple of weeks building easy mileage back up to the ~40 range, then start workouts & gradually build to training mileage. Alas, that calf strain or whatever it was during the 5K really threw a wrench into that plan. Instead of easing pretty much right back into easy miles, I had to take an entire week completely off, so obviously the week after THAT I was not going to immediately jump back to 40+ weeks & speed/tempo workouts.

Instead, the story of this first week of SJ Half Training has been let's-try-to-get-maybe-some-nonzero-amount-of-miles-in-without-re-injuring-the-calf. By now I've learned my lesson about trying to do too much too soon after even a minor injury, so my only goal was just to take it day by day & see how things felt.

And, it was not a bad week. We ended up going to Tahoe Friday through Monday so that Don could ski (yes, there is still skiing in Tahoe because #california) and I could spend a few glorious free days working, reading, running, & lounging by the many many swimming pools. (We had to Hotwire a swanky resort because we waited too long to book anything reasonable. It was not cheap but at least we did get a pretty huge discount on the normal price, and I gotta say, man, sometimes I totally see why people go to resorts.)

Skiing in July!

You didn't know there was a swimming pool & a hot tub at the top of Squaw, did you?

Tahoe adventures included kinda sorta pretending to (briefly) be a trail runner, seeing a real live bear way too close for comfort, & nearly passing out on a run. (Heat! Hills! Altitude! They do not screw around.)

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Clamoring back on the wagon....

In a way, the timing of my ill-fated 5K was good. My taper happened to coincide with some busy weeks at work, and the week after when I couldn't run because of my messed up calf, I was traveling for a kind of intense workshop with K-12 math teachers. I usually stop lifting the week or two before a race, which worked out well since there was no time for it anyway, and I didn't feel the need to jump right back into it the week after.

But now I'm back home, and not traveling for more than a day or two at a time (that I know of) for a good while, and work is a bit calmer, so it is time now to clamor my way back up onto the srsbzns training wagon and get my shit at least in the same general vicinity as together.

How the wagon feels sometimes

(Also, I ran just a few easy miles on Monday and Tuesday for the first time since the 5K and my leg feels back to normal, so hopefully it won't revolt again!)

I know that sometimes people lament their inability to do something consistently, day in and day out, but honestly, I've come to realize over the years that that's just life. It's impossible to train hard core day in and day out, to eat like a lean mean machine year round, to get in the strength work and stretching and rolling and whatnot come hell or high water. You just can't. Nor should you!

And that doesn't just apply to we humble age groupers. Even most professional and elite athletes make a real point of taking breaks and letting their bodies and minds fully recover before launching into another super intense training cycle (and the internet is littered with the cautionary tales of those have tried to go hard week after week and year after year and suffered physical setbacks, mental burnout, or both). So I don't feel bad about having had a few easy weeks and one completely off before I for-realsies put that 1:35 half marathon in the crosshairs & prepare to take a big ol' fatty swing at it come October.

While training for CIM last year, I kind of threw the time goal out the window & instead focused on process goals, which worked out pretty darn well, so that's what I'm trying to do this time around as well. (I mean; I still have 1:35 in the back of my mind, but on a day-to-day, week-to-week basis, I'm going to not worry about the numbers on the clock & instead concentrate on the process.)

So. Here are the goals:

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Race Report: SF Track & Field Club Pride Meet

Photo credit: SF Track & Field Club

TL;DR - I was having a GREAT race until pretty much right at mile 2 when something in my calf felt like it just popped and I nearly fell over due to the ice pick-like stab of pain that went screaming through my gastrocnemius. It was an instant race ender, which is super disappointing, but there's also some pretty amazing silver lining.


I'd been excited about this race for a couple of months now. I've wanted to dip my toe back into the world of track racing for a while now, but the timing has never worked out -- I've either always been injured, recovering, traveling, or aiming for some other big race that conflicted with the Bay Area track meets I knew about. This was finally the year!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Some 5Ks I Have Run (and taking bets for Saturday!)

Since I'm about to run my first 5K in over a year and a half, I thought it might be good to do some sort of planning in terms of vaguely what pace I should be running and what kind of time would be reasonable to expect. (I mean, the time will be whatever it is but I would like to have some sense of whether, say, a 1:30 first lap is something to panic about.)

Unlike with the full and half marathon, my 5K history is kind of nebulous in my mind, and I've never had big, multi-year goals around that distance. (Not for any particular reason -- I don't feel like it's any less of a "legitimate" distance than longer ones, and I think it's kind of a shame that the 5K gets so ignored and dismissed by recreational road racers obsessed with going longer and longer and longer just for the sake of bigger numbers on the bumper sticker, or something.)

So, just for funsies, I decided to look back over my past 5Ks and see if I can spot any patterns & maybe come up with some sort of reasonable expectations.

Which I have to admit, was pretty amusing. It was actually kind of fun to read back over some of my old race reports and relive details I no doubt would have completely forgotten otherwise (for better or worse!). What I learned was:

    1) I almost never run 5Ks (as in, seven in my entire adult life),

    2) A weirdly large percentage of them were run when I was just starting to run again after an injury (go figure), and

    3) An equally weirdly large percentage had some kind of wonkiness about the course length or timing (probably related at least in part to how a lot of local 5Ks are tiny community events where people understandably aren't being as anal about the course & timing as they would be at a bigger/pricier/higher stakes event).

So, ultimately, not that helpful in terms of goal setting, but at least moderately entertaining! Read on, and at the end we'll take bets on Saturday's performance.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Aloha, again

I spent most of last week in Honolulu for work, and as typically happens when I'm traveling and all sorts of crazy stuff is going on, things got a bit wacky what with all the shifting around of various workouts (mostly due to time). For all that work travel is not nearly as glamorous as some people seem to think, I have to say there are worse places a person could get sent for four days with a great team of co-workers to hang out with.

The view from dinner

Pool did not suck

Barefoot nighttime beach walk back to the hotel after dinner with the team

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Update: Threshold intervals STILL suck.

I don't know why but a small part of me somehow half-expected that doing the same threshold interval workout as last Friday (2 warm up, 3 x 2 miles @ HM pace / 2:00 jog, 2 cool down) would be a little easier, since I'm now on my *third* post-base training workout and have done a little strength training. Ha ha ha, WRONG! Nope, this workout still sucked, and if anything, it sucked even harder than last Friday.

I guess technically my average pace on the intervals was about one second per mile faster, but that's hardly anything to brag about. Turns out that it takes more than a week for your anaerobic fitness to improve!

From experience, I know that this is *always* how it is when I first go back to doing faster workouts, but getting halfway through even one mile at this pace and feeling like I want to die does sometimes make a person wonder how on earth they ever managed to run FASTER than that pace for 13 miles in a row. And shooting for 15 seconds per mile faster than THAT just a few months from now?

Monday, May 22, 2017

Threshold intervals are hard + not hip enough "for the Insta"

Let the actual training commence!!

Friends, I love running fast. Over the last couple of years I've also learned to love leisurely long runs and chunks of slow, easy base training, but letting loose for some heart-pounding intervals on the track or a comfortably-hard-but-not-TOO-hard tempo run is still my favorite part of training for a goal race. In fact, this is how I knew I needed a break back in February/March--when I'd see those workouts on my plan and feel dread, and wiping the training schedule clean felt like such a relief. And that's how I've known I'm ready to get back to work--starting to feel a bit bored with slow, easy jogging, and excited about scary-sounding paces.

Don't get me wrong, though; those first few post-base training workouts are never easy, and this week was no exception.

It was a short one since we didn't get back from Hawai'i until early Wednesday morning. Like most runners, at this point I know what all my funny little biomechanical things are, all the places that are injury prone if I don't tend to them with stretching and rolling and strength work (and let's be honest, I really have not been as of late). For some reason I still have this idea in my head that if I take a few days off or take a break from running due to vacation or recovery from a big race or whatever, all those things will heal up and I'll feel fresh and healthy and ready to run when I go back to it.

Except it's completely not true. Almost without exception, my cranky feet and gimpy right hip and curmudgeonly SI joints ALWAYS feel worse after a vacation or a week of post-race rest. It's actually getting back into running (and weirdly, running longer or faster or both) that settles them down (as long as I'm doing the work to take care of them).

Friday, May 19, 2017

Pretty Sunsets + My First Track Meet ( ~20 years)

Hello again!

We made a valiant effort at coming up with some sort of plan that would keep us from having to return to the mainland, but alas that whole pesky bill-paying thing kept coming up, so finally we surrendered and shuffled onto the plan. I'll post a few more Big Island pics here & there once I've had some time to go through them, but there are a few down at the bottom of this post.

But let's be real, you don't come here to read about my vacations. The big news lately is that I just signed up for my first track meet in nearly 20 years, the 10th Annual PrideMeet on June 17, put on by the SF Track & Field Club.

Friday, April 28, 2017


I think one of the reasons I had such a hard time getting motivated after CIM was because I just couldn't get excited about any particular goals. I'm not really interested in trying a different kind of event (no ultras, triathlons, or trail running beyond maybe the occasional just-for-fun morning with friends, and DEFINITELY nothing involving monkey bars or barbed wire). I'm not going to run another marathon this year, and I haven't been able to get that excited about apocryphal distances like 8K or 10-milers.

The logical thing to do, it seems, would be to focus on the shorter, canonical distances and work on closing the gap between my recent times and old PRs. Ie, shoot for a sub-1:40 half this year, or a sub-44:30 10K. Destroying my marathon PR suggests it's entirely possible, and I've got a good, long chunk of time before I need to start thinking about marathon training again. In a way, it's a no brainer--a couple of completely safe, reasonable goals, definitely doable with some work.

And...also completely unmotivating.

It's not that I wouldn't be pleased to run times around my PRs this year; truly, that would be awesome and I would blog the heck out of it. But right now, that's not enough to get me out on the roads more than 20-30 uninspiring miles a week. No matter how hard I try, I just can't get excited about it.

I've been trying to figure out why, and while chatting with a friend one day about my lack of enthusiasm for what should be pretty cool accomplishments, she asked me, "But have you ever thought about shooting for a 1:35 half?"

Of course I was appropriately scandalized by the very thought.