Saturday, December 22, 2018

2019 Races: January through April

Friends, can you believe the calendar's about to flip again?? What the heck?

I am wrapping up work stuff & packing today & tonight, & then tomorrow we jet off to Eastern Washington to spend Christmas week with Don's parents. Then it's back home for one day, & on to another plane for Mexico for New Year's week to celebrate a good friend's 40th. (Did you know Ensenada is Mexico's wine country? Did you know Mexico HAD wine country?? Me either! #TIL. I'm so pumped.)

I am waiting on race pictures to post my last race report of the year (Silicon Valley Sant Run 5K), so in the meantime, please enjoy some musings about what I might do race-wise in the first half (or so) of 2019.

When I started running again last August post-Boston, I was feeling unmotivated & in need of another big-hairy-audacious goal to chase. Eventually I settled on the Wharf-to-Wharf six-miler at the end of July and finishing in the top 100. Seven months is really too long to be one training cycle, though (at least for me), so my plan is to split January through July into two 3-3.5 month chunks with a little break in the middle, which I've started referring to as "Season 1" & "Season 2".

I think I want to run maybe 3-4 races in each season (all in the 5-10K range), with a target race at the end of each. For season 2 obviously my 'A' race will be Wharf to Wharf, and for season 1 I'm leaning toward Stow Lake Stampede 5K in Golden Gate Park. I've nailed down a few things but still need to fill some slots.

What do YOU think I should run? Here are the candidates:

Friday, December 14, 2018

I Bought A Car!

Heads Up: This is not about running. It's about the very very annoying and frustrating process of buying a car. Mainly I felt like I wanted to document the process and also thought maybe some of the info would help someone out in the future, so, enjoy! Or don't! I'll get back to run-blogging soon enough, promise. :)

Let us journey back in time to spring 2005: Snoop Dogg and Kelly Clarkson on our first-generation iPods, pseudo-useless internet on our dumb phones, and "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" playing on endless repeat on the radio. We watched How I Met Your Mother and Bones on the actual TV at the actual times they aired; The 40-Year Old Virgin made us laugh, Brokeback Mountain made us cry, and Elektra made us question Jennifer Garner's judgment in hairstyles (just say no to the bangs, Jen).

I had also just finished grad school and secured my first grown-up job making real grown-up money (sort of), and the first thing I did once I got that offer letter was ride my bike to the local Honda dealership to buy a 2005 Civic Hybrid. I'd hoped to buy a used one but hybrids were still pretty new then and I couldn't find one near me, so I ended up buying a new one. I had a lot of environmental guilt and since driving daily was not going to be optional, that 43-48 mpg seemed like a solid way to do make at least some kind of effort.

Here is how buying that car went down:

    Car salesman: Hello, how can we help you?
    Me: I would like to buy a Civic Hybrid.
    Car salesman: Excellent choice! That will be $xx,xxx.
    Me: GREAT where do I sign.
    Car salesman: *blinkblink* Oh...Ohkay then!

I even paid for the extra warranty and the car alarm because, well, those things sounded important and I was young and dumb and knew nothing about buying cars. Palo Alto Honda dealership, you are welcome.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

'A' Race Time Predictions!!

If you've been following the drama the last few months you might recall that I've been having some annoying issues with my left side, from my lower back/SI joint, through my hamstring, all the way down to the plantar fasciitis (which is chronic) in my foot. It was sort of at its worst a week before OktobeRun but a week off magically healed me enough to get through the race at a pretty okay pace, though the hamstring was pretty unhappy after.

I had some forced rest (thanks, travel & weather!) after that, which probably ended up being for the best because in spite of basically no training between OktobeRun and Oakland Turkey Trot, I had a significantly faster race.

Riding the high of that race, I told myself, OK but for real now! Three & a half weeks til Santa Run! That is totally enough time to get serious about this shite & shave a few more seconds off this beezie.

And, I DID have a couple of good weeks. But then this past week/weekend I got called to NY at the last minute, & if there is anything that will eff with my training plans, it's these short coast-to-coast trips where the time zone gremlins just completely destroy whatever free time/decent sleep you thought you had happening in your life. I won't even bother doing a training log for that week, since "training" consisted of

    1) Tuesday 12/4 => 3.5 warm up, 6 x 200m / 200m jog, 2 miles @ aerobic threshold, 6 x 200m / 200m jog, 3.5 cool down = 12 total

    2) Thursday 12/6 => spend the whole day flying/sitting in NYC traffic & arrive in so much winter boot-induced foot pain that the 7 easy on the schedule was never going to happen even IF I'd arrived at a decent hour.

    3) Friday 12/7 => Work a full day on 3 hours of sleep, come back to hotel & crash

    4) Saturday 12/8 => Work another full day on maybe 4 hours of sleep, just barely rally for 2 warm up, 3 x 1 mile @ HM pace, 2 cool down = 7.2 total.

    5) Sunday 12/9 => Get up at 4:30am Eastern/1:30am Pacific to catch a 7:00am plane home, land at 10am Pacific, & immediately come home & bake cookies for a party. (Again, I could barely walk this day, so there was no running; just 21 straight hours of mostly regrettable consciousness.)

It was really this last run on Saturday that was the turning point for me.

Monday, December 10, 2018

2018 Holiday Gift Guide for Buying Me Presents

Tis the season for every blog & website you know to start posting a 2018 Holiday Gift Guide for the _______ in your life. Let's be real, though; odds are if you're reading a _______ blog featuring nifty ________ products to buy, YOU are probably the ________ in your life.

Fear not, though; out of the goodness of my heart, I've found a few minutes to put together this handy dandy 2018 Holiday Gift Guide for Buying Me Presents. You're welcome.

Real talk, though; if you've been reading for a little while, you know that this has been my Year of No Shopping, which has had a number of different benefits. One of them is that having a general policy of not buying stuff has cleared away the consumerist noise in my head & helped me clarify whether I really truly want something for good reasons, or am just falling prey to #shinythings syndrome. A lot of times I find that after a few weeks or months, the infatuation passes and stuff I thought I wanted no longer seems all that appealing, while with a tiny percentage of things, I realize that nope, this is something that I really would value and use regularly in ways that truly improve my quality of life. So, here are some of those things!

(Oh, & before you ask -- these are not affiliate links. It's literally just stuff I personally want.)

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Sorry no pics this week.

I am working on doing that thing where you give it the best you've got, do the best you can do under the circumstances, say, "This is okay," and don't beat yourself up about stuff you can't control. (It goes better at some times than at others! And that is okay too.)

There are only two weeks and one race left in my fall season, so I'm a little less stressed about building up mileage than I was earlier in the fall when I was starting to have yellow injury flags all over the place with months left to go.

My feet are definitely still a bit FUBAR'd, but I think they'll make it through these next two weeks and that last 5K on the 16th.

And after that, rest.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Half Decent Week

On a scale of 'hot mess' to 'some reason for hope', the pendulum swung back towards hope this week on the running front. I ran more than zero miles (weeeeee!!), including a double-digit run and a not-too-shabby race. Yes, I'm still having some trouble with my feet (plantar fascittis in the left, Achilles tendonitis in the right), but right now it's tolerable, so, well, there you go. I'm not sure what will happen as I start to try to do speed work & stuff again, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

This weekend our Alliterative Dinner Club did our long-awaited x dinner. I made dessert, which was x-presso & xocolatl pot de creme with whipped xylocarp (coconut) cream. It did not suck.

We also made x-rated x-mas cookies, which I am too classy to post here. Use your imagination. But here is a non-x-rated one that's kind of cute.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Race Report: Oakland Turkey Trot

If you've been keeping score at home, you know that my plan this fall was to run a bunch of miles, race a bunch of short stuff under 10K, & get wicked fast. You also know that life didn't quite work out as I'd planned & I've been getting more & more frustrated on the running front.

Last month I ran a 5K in Redwood City by the skin of my teeth. By the time the race rolled around my goal had gone from "destroy this mother, come dangerously close to a PR, & depending on who else shows up maybe even win" to "just finish & don't make my foot/back/hamstring worse." I ran 22:23, which was work & definitely not dawdling, but not *fast*, exactly, and I never felt great doing it, during or after. Still, I was proud of myself for making a real effort to not phone it in, not giving up, & pushing hard toward the end.

In the immediate aftermath I thought "Hey, I can build on that! Four weeks till Oakland Turkey Trot, I can definitely improve over 22:23!" But then November happened, and suddenly I was not so sure.

But I was signed up & committed; no matter how bad or out of shape I was feeling, I still wanted to show up in Oakland and run the best race I could. If it's bad news, then let's at least get an objective view of how bad it is.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Ugggghhhhh just enough already.

I really hate writing blog posts that read mostly like a list of excuses for why I've pretty much been a lazy slob lately. For me one of the reasons for continuing to update this blog in what feels like the twilight age of blogging is for some sense of accountability, and, a lot of times, it works. But the downside is that sometimes there are periods where things just feel completely out of your control, and no amount of public accountability is going to magically change the central facts of your life.

At this point I feel like whatever meager amount of fitness I'd managed to build up by early October has now slowly melted and curled up into a corner where it continues to twitch only occasionally. A couple weeks back I had a decent week of 30+ miles--no workouts but at least getting some miles in. But since then it's been the perfect storm of injury & illness & travel & natural disasters & Just.



Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Year of No Shopping: Quarter 2/3 Update

I haven't done one of these in a while, so here's a quick update.

If you missed it, the original "Year of No Shopping" post is here. So, how have I been doing with the rules I set for myself around shopping? Let us take stock.

  • No wine shopping/buying beyond what I'm already committed to through clubs. If you recall, part of the reason for the "no buying of wine beyond club commitments" rule was that all of our wine (we are talking maybe ~1500 bottles) had been in storage and I had lost track of exactly what I had and what would be ready to drink exactly when.

    Now before you ask, yes, there is a database (we outgrew spreadsheets long ago), but from about mid-2017 on I got really lazy about a) entering everything new I bought and b) marking bottles as drunk when we drank them. So I knew that there was a lot unaccounted for. And I didn't, for example, want to buy new bottles that would be ready to drink around say 2021 and then find out Oops! We already have more than we'll possibly be able to drink that will be ready that year!

    No shelves in the cellar yet so it's just stacks of case boxes which SHOCKING! is not the easiest way to organize.

    So, when the house was done and we finally got everything back out of storage, I was able to go through it and pull out wine that should have been drunk either in 2017 or 2018. (It was a lot. Oops.)

Monday, November 12, 2018

A little bit of hope

Sooooo this was supposed to publish last week & apparently it didn't & I didn't notice?? Fun times! :D . Just wanted to let you know I'm not dead yet & have been doing *some* amount of running, though this fall has not worked out exactly at all as I'd hoped. So, yeah. Not dead yet. Still trying to run when I can. Hopefully things will get easier after the holidays.


It's been a busy few weeks (as I write this I am at the airport for the 5th time in the last week, GOOD TIMES) but I just wanted to pop in with a training update. Last we spoke I was having some super annoying problems with my right foot/hip/hamstring/lower back, but things are MAYBE kind of-sort of starting to improve a little.

Other life stuff: My sisters and I are planning a surprise 60th birthday party for my mom on Sunday Nov. 11. [Spoiler: We pulled it off & she was TOTALLY shocked!! It was awesome & I highly recommend throwing your loved ones surprise birthday parties.]

Yes, they fixed the peace sign but I didn't get a great photo of it after that. I hope someone else did!

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Race Report: Redwood City OktobeRun 5K

My plan for this fall originally was to run lots of short, fast races, with nothing except RNR San Jose over 10K. Things got off to a good start with a great 10K and a super fun cross country race, but after that a combination of social obligations, work commitments, and general life stress/exhaustion took their toll and I skipped out on a couple of races I'd been excited to run. To force myself not to skip anymore I went ahead and signed up for three 5Ks (which you can see over there in the right sidebar), of which OktobeRun was the first.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Fall Speedfest, Weeks 8 & 9 of 18: Hot Mess Edition

As in, I am one. Seriously; in the last two and a half weeks I have just about completely and totally fallen apart.

You might have already read about my 'meh' race in San Jose. (tl;dr - My heart was never really in it, I woke up not really wanting to run, & managed to hold a decent half marathon pace for the first few miles before it became obvious that whether for lack of fitness, heat, or just plain lack of enthusiasm, that was all I had. I jogged the rest at an easy pace for a 1:51:30 finish.)

The worse part, though, was the aftermath on the left side of my body. I've had chronic plantar fasciitis in my left foot for years; it comes and goes in terms of the severity but for whatever reason a few hours after the race I could barely walk on it. I'd like to tell you the week got better, but...well...

Friday, October 19, 2018

Books 2018: Quarter 3

As you probably already know, I've been reading a classic a month for the last few 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. Don't worry, you won't hurt my feelings.) ICYMI, the classics I selected to read in 2018 are here.

On to the reviews!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Race Report: Rock 'N Roll San Jose Half Marathon 2018

So, the long and short of it is that I basically ran a 1.5 mile warm up, a 6 mile half marathon pace workout, and a 7.1 mile cool down. In retrospect it might have been better just to skip this one, but hey, at least I got a solid tempo/threshold workout in, something that (for whatever reason) feels like it's been sorely lacking on my training plan lately.

I signed up for this race last year with the super cheap (as RNR races go) $59 re-run deal, riding the high of a four-year best time of 1:41:07. I do like this race and it's well done and a good course and not THAT far from hom, so I figured I might as well sign up & if it didn't work out, well, hey, it's $59. But that was before Boston, before running three marathons in the course of a month, before getting so burnt out on LONG-long distance races that I quit running for 8 weeks and decided the fall was going to be all short fast stuff, all the time.

Which is to say, this race had always been out there, but I was having quite a lot of trouble getting excited about it. I went back and forth about whether I even wanted to run it; part of me said, "Hey, you got the cheap registration exactly so you wouldn't feel bad about not running it, skip it & run something else short & fun that weekend," while another part was saying, "The money's spent, you should just go, and who cares if it's terrible." All this was further complicated by the fact that we're down to zero cars now (long story for later), and while we have an insurance-covered rental for a little while, Don needed it for the Stanford football game on Saturday, so I'd have to work something else out transportation-wise.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Fall Speedfest, Week 7 of 18: Let Us Make Some Capital-C Commitments.

I've been failing at blog photography lately, so please enjoy this fall-inspired shot from my living room.
This was a taper week but it ended up being shall we say a bit more taper-ey than I'd exactly planned. Not catastrophically so, but. Well. Work and travel and other obligations and some weeks you just don't get all the way there.

I also ditched a race I was planning to run, thanks to a combination of not feeling great and being really busy on Saturday and having not signed up ahead of time. As I said on the facebooks, this fall was supposed to be #fallspeedfest but instead it's kind of turned into #falllazyfest as I have bailed on the last two races I kinda-sorta said I would run because I didn't bother signing up ahead of time so if you're already not feeling so great, it's an easier call to wuss out.

So, on Sunday night I got off my ass and actually registered for the three remaining 5Ks I have on my race calendar--OktobeRun (Redwood City 10/28), Oakland Turkey Trot (Oakland 11/22), and Silicon Valley Santa Run (San Jose 12/16 - a rare afternoon race!). I am definitely much more likely to actually woman up and go run if the money is already spent.

Speaking of money already spent, this coming week is RNR San Jose Race Week! I would say I've had decent but not phenomenal training and would just be pleased to come within spitting distance of my 2017 time of 1:41:07. I didn't think my training was particularly good last year but I ran a heck of a race considering I had an asthma attack in the middle of it. So perhaps there's hope for running another heck of a race and also not having an asthma attack?!?!?

We shall see...

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Boston Standards Slashed Again

News & current events this week are pretty much hell and I keep thinking that if I go on the internet too much actual bees might come flying out of my mouth (and maybe the mouth of every other half-woke woman on earth). So forgive me if I pay a little attention to Other Things, things that maybe might NOT make bees fly out of my mouth.

If you're a distance runner, then you're almost certainly aware that it's That Week of the year, the one people wait all year for, wait multiple years for even, or just try to stay off the internet and pretend it's not happening. I'm still in a few online groups and it's been both exciting and gut wrenching to watch people waiting on tenterhooks for good or bad news.

And as of today, the news it out, and we've now seen, as many predicted, the widest margin yet between the BAA's established qualification times and the cutoff time for actually being accepted into the field. Last year it was 3:23 which a lot of people already thought was kind of batshit, and now for 2019 it's 4:52.

You might be thinking, "Well shit, at this point they should just lower the qualification standards again." And as it turns out, the BAA agrees with you. In the same post, they announced that the qualification standards for 2020 will drop another five minutes. (The last time they were dropped was in 2013, also by five minutes.)

So, yeah. If you were one of the lucky ones, all the congrats to you; I wish you the most excellent (and DRY) Boston experience. If you're dealing with the other side of the coin, hang in there and try again; you're clearly super, super close.

(Annnnd, I made it all the way through with no bees. #smallvictories)

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Fall Speedfest, Week 6 of 18: Deals With the Devil (and by "Devil" I mean "my own psyche")

Could it really be that Fall Speedfest is one-third over??? I feel like I haven't raced nearly enough for that.

This past week wasn't a particularly high mileage week since I was traveling, but it was okay, and I'm pleased with myself for getting a couple runs in when I didn't really feel like it & it would have been way easier to just skip it.

Let us talk today about Stuff We Don't Want To Do (running or otherwise) & the sneaky little deals we make with ourselves to get it done.

Because we all have it, right? The stuff that HAS to get done (and/or really really *should* get done if you know what's good for you) but we just absolutely would rather have a root canal than do it.


I'm not usually like this with running. And to be honest, I don't think most people really can be that way with running TOO-too much or they just quit. (As they should; there are no prizes for forcing yourself to do 'recreational' things you hate on principle.) But I'm sure we all have the odd workouts where you just. Do. NOT. Wanna.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Rolling Into Fall: Mini Pumpkin Pie Bites

You guys. I can't believe it but our renovations--which began in February 2017--are almost DONE.

There are still tiny things left to do. A few light fixtures to choose, an intercom system to install, a few missing cabinet doors, a few places where the paint needs touched up. But the big stuff is done. We have a working kitchen and bathrooms, and a fully completed media room & guest suite/laundry area. (Now...there is no 'media' or anything else, really, in the media room yet, but the ROOM is done.)

We don't really have much furniture yet but that will come. In the mean time, we're getting ready to throw a little shindig in October, where I am letting my love of all things fall run wild. (I know it's kind of #basic to love fall, but...well...sorry not sorry.) In the past few weeks I've been trying stuff out, recipes & cocktails & decor ideas, and I'm getting too excited about it not to share.

Today, let me tell you about my mini pumpkin bites.

I love a good pumpkin pie in the fall, but pies aren't super-conducive to the kind of shindig we're throwing, an all-day, come-and-go affair where folks can grab a few snacks & drinks with minimal dishes & utensils involved. What DOES play well with this sort of thing are finger foods--little snackies that you can just grab and pop into your mouth, or your kid's mouth, without the rigamarole of slicing and serving and how-big-a-piece-do-I-want & finding half-eaten slices of whatever all over the house.

Hence pumpkin bites.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Fall Speedfest, Week 5 of 18 #notracing

When I go on long runs, I get to see windmills. #goldengatepark #oceanbeach
I know my training journals as of late are boring and lame and I am sorry. It's been busy lately & it's all I can do to even pay attention to what my workouts are & note that I did them.

I was supposed to run a 5K this past Sunday & even went online to finally sign up for it last Wednesday. But then I noticed that between the internet service fee & $10 to have my bib mailed (sooooo not driving to Alameda from SF to attend an "expo" for a 5K), it would actually be cheaper to just sign up the morning of, in spite of the fact that the race price would have gone up by $5.

For better or worse, that meant that when I ended up feeling kind of sick & exhausted Saturday night, I was waaaaaay less motivated to still go run it. I laid in bed feeling like I was maybe coming down with something, going back and forth as to whether I should set my alarm for 5:30am & just go suck it up for 20-22 minutes. In the end it just didn't seem worth it (particularly the $55 for a 5K part) & instead I pulled the blankets over my head & opted for some extra sleep.

I didn't feel great in the morning but at least no longer felt like I was getting sick. So instead of a 5K race it was 14 easy miles through Golden Gate Park (as per usual). Ah well; another long run in the bank for RNR San Jose Half, which I kind of keep forgetting I'm running in a couple weeks.

On the other hand, my speed workouts have been pretty decent from a sheer speed standpoint. I am running 200m's faster and with less effort than in the past, if only by a bit. The one real downside of not racing the 5K this past weekend was that I don't have a benchmark for how things were going to compare to RTTEOS. I might run another XC race this weekend, but while those are fun, they're not really great for fitness benchmarks unless you have a mark on the same course to compare it to.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Fall Speedfest, Week 4 of 18

This was a little bit of a weird week, being both a recovery week but also kind-of, sort-of a race week as well. I have to say that the 10K on Sept. 2 trashed my legs more than I'd expected; in the past I feel like I've bounced back from short (ie, not double-digits) races fairly quickly, easily back to easy runs after a day of rest, & feeling fairly normal by the end of the week. Definitely not the case this time, for whatever reason. I was sore and my legs were achey for a few days, actually, and in fact it was serious enough that I skipped my Tuesday easy run for another rest day. Although the XC race wasn't a "real" race, I wanted to be fresh enough to at least enjoy it, and when I didn't feel that's the road I was headed towards, I took rest days on Friday and Saturday as well.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Race Report: PA XC Golden Gate Open 6K

Well, I went back and forth about it, but as last weekend approached, I actually found myself getting kind of excited about playing in the dirt in Golden Gate Park with some really (really, *really*) fast people. Sure, my legs were still heavy and whiney after last weekend's all-out effort 10K, but I really wanted to dip my toe into one of these races & see how I liked it, and I knew I wouldn't get a good chance for a few more weeks. Since I'm super super out of practice in cross country and would be one of the slowest people there, though, there was no pressure to run a certain time or place; all I had to do was show up, run hard, & have fun!

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Fall Speedfest, Week 3 of 18: Crazy Race Anxiety Dreams!

Oops, running a bit behind with this week's training journal. It was a race week so pretty low mileage.

But before we get to that, gather round, for it is time for Angela's Anxiety Dream Story Hour. Friday night was just two days before Race to the End of Summer, and what better time for a crazy anxiety race dream.

Apparently, I had realized that through some kind of calendar magic, I somehow had a BQ that made me eligible to run in the 2019 race (I don't), and though I had kind of sworn off marathons for a while, I thought, "Well, you never know what could happen, I might never qualify again, I should take advantage of it! And maybe it won't be an arctic flood of Biblical proportions this time!"

In my dream this all happened like two weeks before the race, so I just kind of showed up, with no particular marathon training under my belt, figuring I can probably always *finish* a marathon, even if it's not particularly fast. Then as I was heading to the Athlete's Village, it occurred to me that sure, I could probably *finish*, but I'd probably fuck up my skin and toenails again and be in serious pain for a week, and then Don would be mad at me because I didn't tell him ("You said you were going to stop breaking yourself!"), and for a moment I considered whether this was really the best choice. But hey, I figured, why have ONE Boston Marathon medal when you can have TWO Boston Marathon medals.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Race Report: Race to the End of Summer 10K 2018

And #fallspeedfest2018 is off and running!

Race to the End of Summer was my first race since Big Sur Marathon over 4 months ago and it felt good to pin on a bib. I'd run this race twice before, in both 2016 and 2017; it's a solid local event, small and low-key but well organized, so it had been on my calendar since last year. I ran it in 2016 as my first tune up for CIM & shocked myself by running just 17 seconds off my PR & snagging 2nd overall & 1st in my age group (it's a small race) after just a few weeks of training (mostly lots of easy jogging) & only three speed workouts. Then last year (during the Bay Area's record-setting heatwave, after two days of moving & a night of basically no sleep) I completely fell apart & ran by far the worst 10K of my life. Clearly I had unfinished business with this race!

This year, as in 2016, I was only a few weeks back into running, almost all slow easy miles, & just three workouts (& oh yeah those eight weeks I took completely off from running after Boston 2 Big Sur). In a way, this took some of the pressure off--this was just my first race of an 18 week #fallspeedfest season, so all I really wanted to do was go in as fresh as possible, run hard, and not wimp out in order to get a baseline for the rest of the fall.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Fall Speedfest, Week 2 of 18: trendy strava ennui + workouts are hard

Happy Monday!
This week was my highest mileage week since Boston training at 48.5 miles. I did ramp things up fairly gradually but still definitely felt the increase towards the end of Sunday's long run--no pain or injuries or anything like that, but definitely some general fatigue in the legs in those last few miles. Which, hey, is the whole point, so.

Happily, this week tapers off a bit for Race to the End of Summer. I know I won't be able to taper for everything I run this fall, but I want to try to use RTTEOS as a kind of fitness gauge, so I'm trying to get there as fresh as possible.

Now. Let's talk about Strava for a moment.

You know how it's kind of trendy to every few months write a paragraph-long post about how Facebook is making you unhappy and ruining the world and you are officially taking a Hiatus "for the foreseeable future" and your "real friends" will know how to contact you?

It seems like recently something similar has begun to happen with Strava (or maybe it isn't new at all & I've just begun to notice it). People will post things about how they've gotten "disillusioned" with it or "just [aren't] motivated" by segment PRs or KOHs or whatever anymore & are just gonna "disconnect" for a while by unlinking their Strava account/running without GPS/running without any watch at all.

Which, hey! You do you. But honestly, how "illusioned" were you with Strava to begin with, and why? Like, what did you expect it to do for your life besides announce your every workout to the world? Creating profound and lasting satisfaction/deep and meaningful inner happiness out of your hobby is a lot to ask of an internet app, guys.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Old Shoes, Young Love

Back in 2014 I was having a bit of a footwear crisis. In 2012 I had downgraded from the super built-up stability-oriented Brooks GTS to the lighter, svelter-but-still-fairly-traditional (though neutral) Brooks Launch, which I happily ran in for a couple of years (and still do, sometimes). In fall 2012 an emergency shoe purchase turned me on to the Saucony Kinvara (like the Launch, but moreso). I was pretty happy with this shoe but still felt like I wanted something just a *bit* lighter, more flexible, & with a little more ground feel and roomier toebox. Thus began a tireless search for the perfect "performance trainer."

In late 2013/early 2014 people were raving about the Pure Drift 2. I had tried the original Pure Connect and absolutely hated it, but when I saw a pair of PD2's on clearance for like $40, I thought I'd give it a shot.

Monday, August 20, 2018

The Great Shoe Reckoning of 2018

It's been kind of a normal-ish few weeks around here - not much travel, not too many crazy social obligations or weekend plans, which has meant plenty of time to 1) get the miles in & 2) make some progress on settling into the house.

Don was traveling for work this week, so while he was gone I took all the junk off our new built-ins & tried to make them reasonably attractive:

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Fall Speedfest, Week 1 of 18: Let the Fall Season Commence!

Well, I went back to the track for the first time in four months this evening, so I suppose that means my fall season is underway!

Monday, August 6, 2018

Three Days in the Life

So some people are super into these types of posts & I've never done one, so I thought I'd give it a shot? I don't really have typical days, though, so I picked a three-day stretch with a bit of variety in it.

Wednesday, July 25

  • 5:30am - Alarm goes off, I get up, get dressed, grab my stuff & drive to the gym near my office. This time of morning the commute only takes about 35 minutes or so, as opposed to the hour-plus it can be during rush hour. During the drive I listen to Let Your Mind Run by Deena Kastor, which (spoilers) is AMAZING and definitely worth the read/listen.
  • 6:25am - Throw my crap in a locker, get after the strength work (still listening to Deena). Today I do deadlifts (2 x 15, 2 x 12 w/ 95#, don't laugh), 8 supersets of 10 wide-grip lat pulls and 10 weighted (15#) static lunges with rear foot elevated, 8 sets of 10 weighted (24#) reverse lunges off a block, and a smattering of core exercises (clamshells, supermans, one-leg marches in a bridge position, crossover crunches, transverse abs reverse crunches).
  • 7:20am - Shower & get dressed

Friday, July 27, 2018

Books: 2018 Quarter 2

As you probably already know, I've been reading a classic a month for the last few 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. Don't worry, you won't hurt my feelings.) ICYMI, the classics I selected to read in 2018 are here.

So the biggest news book-wise is that a group of us recently started attacking Gravity's Rainbow. The plan was to read ~5 pages per day / ~35 pages per week, which would get us through by Halloween. The goal was to strike a balance between something that seemed doable and like you could possibly catch up if you fell behind while also not taking 47 years to get through it. At this point we're I think something like 8 or 9 weeks in, which is past the one-third mark. Only 130 or so pages more to the halfway point! #feelingaccomplished

And, friends, I have learned some things. Sooo many things.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Stuff I'm (Thinking of) Running This Fall

My latest email to my coach, summarized:
  • Hey! Remember me? Not dead yet! :D
  • 8 week running break = the best
  • Running again! Not the worst!
  • Marathons = yyyyyeah I'm good for a while I think.
  • Short, fast stuff = BRING IT!
  • What should I run between now & Christmas??????

{/end communicae}

Basically what I want to do for the next give or take year is just focus on racing short, fast stuff, getting some speed back again, & having fun. Maybe some PRs will fall, maybe they won't, but I really want to get back to racing more than once a quarter, and the way you do that is by racing stuff that doesn't take multiple months to train for & multiple weeks to recover from. I also don't want to spend a bunch of time driving super far, so it's all about what is close to home. (And, rest assured, there is *plenty*.)

Monday, July 23, 2018

Back to Micro-Blogging...

Hello friends!

Lately I've been starting blog posts and never finding time to finish them. Hopefully I *will* at some point, but in the mean time, just a quick update so that you don't think I've died.

  • Running! A thing I am doing! After eight weeks completely off after Boston 2 Big Sur, I'm now wrapping up my 4th week of getting back to running. It's all easy miles right now, with 12.5 miles the first week, 22 miles in week 2, 34 in week 3, and now 40 miles this past week.

    I'm doing my best to stick to my tried-&-true base training protocol, ie, all easy miles & keeping my heart rate between 140 & 150 bpm (which sometimes means walking!). I had sort of assumed that when I ran the numbers (because, data nerd) that two months off would probably result in being in worse shape than at the beginning of previous cycles when I haven't had so much (or any) time off, but this first month of runs has looked pretty similar to previous cycles, so perhaps this is just where I bottom out.

Monday, July 9, 2018

From Scratch

OH HEY THERE RUNNING. Long time, no see.

Hi there friends! It's been a while, but these last couple of weeks I've actually gotten out on the roads & put some miles on my (frail, weak) legs.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Race Discount Code! (And, Building a Race Season)

I was thinking about it the other day and realized that since I started running marathons in December 2011, there's been extremely little time when I haven't had one on the calendar *somewhere*. After CIM 2011, I waited maybe 6-8 months to sign up for CIM 2012. I signed up for Mountains 2 Beach 2013 before CIM 2012, and then after M2B I had a gap of about three months before I signed up for the 2014 Napa Valley Marathon (which I deferred a year because of a stress fracture). But other than those two gaps, at least as well as I can remember, I have always had a marathon somewhere on my race calendar, even if it was a nearly year and a half out.

It's pretty safe to say that I'm feeling satisfied on that front, for now; after so many marathons where something went wrong, I spent a long time feeling like I had unfinished business with the whole thing and just wanted one good, solid 26.2 where my training went well and I didn't get sick or injured and the weather cooperated. I feel like I finally got that at CIM 2016, but of course after that there was no question but that I was then going to run Boston (and Big Sur!) since I had the opportunity and might never get it again.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

When the Itch Comes Back

No, this is not a TMI post about some kind of dermatological problem; rest assured I am rash- and pest-free and have not been going barefoot in the gym shower.

Believe it or not, we're talking about the itch to run.

Like I kind of mentioned in this post, since I started training "seriously" (whatever that means) about nine years ago, I've never *really* given myself permission to take an extended break from running. If you don't count serious injuries, I think the longest amount of time I've gone without running since 2009 was about a month, after my first marathon in 2011. Other than that, I don't think I've ever taken off more than a week, maybe two but maybe not, when I've been completely healthy and physically able to run.

After B2B, though, I needed to. Like obviously I needed some physical recovery time but I also felt like I just needed some time mentally away not just from training but any kind of running at all. It was almost like having a little bit of a running hangover; I didn't even want to jog across the street to make a light.

I wanted to come home from work and go work on my house, or read a book, or work on a grant proposal, or just freaking sit on the couch and watch an episode of Quantico. (Do not watch that show, btw, it is awful. It's too late for me but there may be hope still for you.)

I wanted to run errands and grocery shop and cook without constantly looking at the clock.

I wanted to go out to eat or to a BBQ or have friends over and not overthink every bite and sip that went into my mouth.

I wanted to go to karate and not be exhausted, to have my legs feel light and snappy and like I could spar full speed with other black belts and not endanger myself.

So I did. And it has been So. Great. If you've generally been in the habit of jumping from training cycle to training cycle, never taking more than a week or two off either because of fear of losing fitness or gaining weight or FOMO or peer pressure or just plain suppressing any inkling of desire to take an extended break from running, I highly *highly* recommend it.

I kind of felt like I wanted to start training mid-June-ish for my September 10K and October half, but I never put a hard and fast timeline on it. Something I definitely did NOT want to do was try to start training again if it was going to feel like a chore. Basically, every morning I'd wake up and ask myself, "Do I feel like running today? Even just 2-3 miles, maybe?"

And every day, the answer was, "Nope! Not even a little. 100% into chores/errands/renovations work/Netflix & wine." I've even (mostly) kept up with my blog reading, which in the past has sometimes made me want to go register for all the things. But this time my response was more, "WOO GO SO-N-SO!!" {as I sit back & turn on HBO & refill my glass of pinot.}

This past weekend, though, I have to say there was just a glimmer of an itch. My painful toenail finally fell off. My massage therapist has very nearly turned my steel cable (her words) adductors back into flesh & blood. Being semi-sedentary is starting to lose just a *bit* of its glamor.

I'm not saying I want to go smash something at the track. I'm not saying I want to go run 20 miles, or even 10. Some little aches & pains that I assumed were running related have not yet fully healed or gone away, and I haven't spent quite as much time in the gym or doing mobility work as I'd planned to this month.

Still. I was reading a blog post on Saturday about someone reaching a half marathon milestone time goal by less than 30 seconds and how amazing it felt, and for just a second I thought, "I WANT TO DO THAT! (Maybe, sort of? Semi-soonish?)"

So, yeah. I finally dug back into the running bag I never completely unpacked after Big Sur. I plugged in my watch (completely dead, of course) and fished out my road ID. There's technically a training plan for my 10K & half loaded into RunCoach but I'm a long way from ready to jump into it, so maybe sometime this week I'll head out to one of the local trails on the way home from work and set my watch to show nothing but time of day & heart rate & see how it feels to jog two or three nice easy miles. Just a little something to get the legs moving, and then we'll go from there.

Monday, June 4, 2018

The Art of Racing in the Rain (er, an Utter Deluge)

The year was 2012.

I'd run my first marathon a year before in what I thought was a pretty decent time for me, considering it was my first and *especially* considering that I'd been sick recently & run the whole thing with an asthma attack. 2012 had been a pretty epic year for me running-wise; in spite of not really training all that hard, I'd PR'd the 5K, 10K, and half marathon, and could not wait to take my second crack at the full. Since CIM had been so good to me the year before, I saw no reason to mess with any other race and signed up to run it again the first week of December.

Fast forward to the night before the race, with forecasters using words like "winter typhoon" and "atmospheric river" and "pineapple express". Weather people predicted multiple inches of rain between 5am & 10am (so, like, *right* during the race window) and 20-40mph headwinds. Several of us stayed the night before the race with Courtney's parents, just a short car ride from the start, and were definitely feeling more than a little trepidation about the weather.

This shot of Heather's will never not be the one I include
in any discussion of CIM 2012. Because, no. NO, SERIOUSLY.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Adventures with Iron Deficiency, Part 3

(Once more for those in the back -- I AM NOT A DOCTOR OR NUTRITIONIST. I basically just read the internet. Below is what worked for me, but that doesn't mean everyone should do it, and you should definitely *definitely* not start taking an iron supplement without having your levels checked because you CAN get iron poisoning, and some people have a condition that keeps their iron levels abnormally high. Just sayin'.)


We've been talking iron deficiency (not the same thing as anemia) this week on the blog. You might want to catch up on Part 1 & Part 2 before dividing into Part 3, in which we talk about how I ultimately fixed my low ferritin issues.

Adventures with Iron Deficiency, Part 1

Adventures with Iron Deficiency, Part 2

When we left off, I'd just learned about a month before the Boston Marathon that my ferritin was at 13 ng/mL. Normal for sedentary couch potato pre-menopausal women is 12-300 ng/mL, but female athletes training a lot--particularly runners--generally need to be around 30 ng/mL at a bare minimum and many feel weak and exhausted unless they're closer to 45 or 60.

I'd also learned that raising low ferritin numbers often requires getting 60-180 mg of iron a day (four to 12 times the couch potato recommendation of 15 mg per day) and I'd been eating more like 22 mg. And, also, that it's virtually impossible to consume this much iron through food alone. Ergo, supplements.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Gravity's Rainbow Cross-Post

(For anyone who wants to read along but doesn't necessarily want to do it on Facebook.)

Going by the Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition (776 pages), we have all agreed to do our level best to read through the top of p. 38 by next Monday. (Last sentence = "Well, thought Pirate, guess I'll go back in the Army...") If you have a different edition, it's roughly 4.8% of the way in. Our consensus was to shoot for 5 pages per day/35 pages per week.

I'm not an ELA teacher but I've had the benefit of working with many many good ones, so I've suggested that while you read, look for 1-2 sentences/ passages/ parts/ whatever that either impress you (*), confuse you (?), or utterly blow your mind (!). On the Facebook group we are then posting/responding to our */?/!, so if you want to post yours in comments here, go for it. Or, hey, if that doesn't work for you & something else does, cool! Do that & tell us about it.

I've been told not to worry too much about trying to catch and understand every single reference in the book because you will literally spend your entire life chasing down references & background information. If you're planning to read along, I would just prepare yourself to sometimes go, "Hm, ok, don't know what that was about. {shrug}" and move on. This isn't a Pynchon PhD program we're doing, here!


***Le Reading Schedule***
(Penguin Classic Deluxe Edition, 776 pages. It doesn't break up perfectly into 35-page chunks but each week's section is generally within 5-10 pages of 35.)

May 28-June 3: pp. 3-38 / 4.9% (“Well, thought Pirate, I guess I’ll go back in the Army…”)

June 4-10: pp. 39-74 / 9.5% (“No sleep tonight. Probably no chance even to catch a cup or cigarette on route. Why?”)

June 11-17: pp. 74-116 / 14.9% (“…her hair not bluntly Dutch at all, but secured in a modish upsweep with an old, tarnished silver crown…”)

June 18-24: pp. 116-147 / 18.9% (“The thought of him lost in the world of men, after the war, fills me with a deep dread I cannot extinguish…”)

June 25-July 1: pp. 147-180 / 23.2%(End of Section 1)

July 2-8: pp. 181-208 / 26.8% (“Gingerly he steps across the sill then, not sure if it’s door or high window, inter her deep room.”)

July 9-15: pp. 208-247 / 31.8% (“…and follows Slothrop’s cab out the winding dark road to Raoul’s party.”)

July 16-22: pp. 247-282 / 36.3% (End of Section 2)

July 23-July 29: pp. 283-319 / 41.1% (“Gearin’ up fer thim Rooskies, And Go-round Number Three….”)

July 30-Aug 5: pp. 319-365 / 47% (“But in the Zone, hidden inside the summer Zone, the Rocket is waiting. He will be drawn the same way again….”)

Aug 6-12: pp. 365-398 / 51.3% (“Make a note of that,” orders Tchitcherine. They both start cackling insanely there, under the tree.)

Aug 13-19: pp. 398-440 / 56.7% (“If she lived, the ring would be good for a few meals, or a blanket, or a night indoors, or a ride home….”)

Aug 20-26: pp. 440-464 / 59.8% (“But where is the electric voice now that will ever call for him?”)

Aug 27-Sept 2: pp. 464-500 / 64.4% (“…tears that will add nothing to the whipped white desolation that passes for the Oder Haff tonight….”

Sept 3-9: pp. 500-534 / 68.8% (“You just connected. Can we go after her, now?”)

Sept 10-16: pp. 534-567 / 73.1% (“…inclined over a Sterno fire tending a simmering pot, is that of Major Duane Marvy.”)

Sept 17-23: pp. 567-601 / 77.4% (“…with a dusty chintz drape she’d received from a cousin who had never understood her taste.”)

Sept 24-30: pp. 601-628 / 80.8% (End of section 3)

Oct 1-7: pp. 629-669 / 86.2% (“The colonel, with a last tilt of his head, exposes his jugular, clearly impatient with the—“)

Oct 8-14: pp. 669-714 / 92% (“…in which subscript R is for Rakete, and B for Blicero.”)

Oct 15-21: pp. 714-748 / 96.4% (“He feels he must go with them, but separate, a stranger, no more or less at the mercy of the Zone….”)

Oct 22-28: pp. 748-776 / 100% (End)

Friday, May 25, 2018

GDPR & the Covering of the Ass

This is probably me being paranoid, but hey! Just a quick post & then I don't even have to worry about it anymore.

As you probably know because you use the internet, the European Union’s new General Data Protection Regulation law goes into effect today. (You've probably noticed a weirdly large number of "We're updating our privacy policy!" emails from various online organizations where you have accounts.) Basically it says that if you collect & do stuff with the personal data of EU citizens, you have to tell them, or else pay massive fines. This probably doesn't effect me but hey, there's some EU traffic up in here, so let's just do the due diligence & be done with it.

Do I collect personal data on this site? Aside from not accepting anonymous comments so there is *some* kind of info you have to enter for that, I'll just copy & paste what John Scalzi said because he said it so well:

"I personally am not (and never have) collecting any information about anyone, other in the very general sense of reading and comprehending whatever bits of personal information people leave in their comments. That said, I don’t do anything commercial with any of that — I don’t mine my comment threads for personal data, and certainly don’t comb through them for commercial purposes. It’s not that kind of site, and I’m really not that interested. Doing any of that requires work and effort that I have no desire to do."

All I really want to do is ramble into the void and occasionally ramble back and forth with other weirdos who are as running-preoccupied as I am. I have no interest in monetizing this blog, its visitors, or whatever data trail they happen to leave. I don’t even use sales affiliate links (and if that ever changes, I'll be transparent about it). So rest easy.

Does Blogger collect personal data on this site? Almost certainly. Ie, if you comment, you probably get a cookie left in your browser to make things more efficient for you in the future. Like every other online entity, I am certain Blogger is doing whatever it is they have to do in order to comply with the GDPR. I'm pretty sure there's nothing else I need to do about that but if I learn that there is, I will certainly do it.

So, long story short, another Scalzi quote: "Basically, we’ll just keep on doing what we’re already doing here. If any of that changes in any significant way, I will let you know."

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Adventures with Iron Deficiency, Part 2

(Once again: I am not a doctor, nutritionist, dietitian, coach, etc. and have absolutely no formal training whatsoever in medicine, diet, sports training, etc. and probably no one should listen to me about anything. Everything I know, I've learned from reading or talking either to people who ARE experts or other female runners who have had similar experiences. This entire blog is just Some Lady Rambling on the Internet and if you are getting your medical and/or training advice from me something in your life has gone very, very wrong; please go pay an actual expert actual money.)


So, last time we were talking about iron deficiency--what it is, and why runners (especially female runners) might care. You can read Part 1 where I discuss my first experience dealing with iron deficiency & some things I learned about it here.

All caught up? Excellent!

Fast forward to about a month before the Boston Marathon. In my first couple months of training I felt amazingly good--workouts were easy, and I had no trouble hitting the mileage. After that (as you know if you've been following along), I had some injuries and got really sick one week, so I would never in a million years have thought that I was training hard enough to mess with my iron levels.

Still, I kept getting that same feeling I remembered from when I was training for Eugene; just exhausted all the time, hitting workout paces starting to feel way, way too hard (and for the first time I can ever remember, sometimes actually impossible), and that sleep-deprived/low-blood-sugar, knock-me-over-with-a-feather feeling while running, even just on short easy runs.

For a while I was chocking it up to stress, losing fitness from all the missed miles, and maybe just getting old. But chatting about it with Don one day, he was like, "When was the last time you had all your blood work checked? Could it be iron or thyroid or something?"

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Adventures with Iron Deficiency, Part 1

(Super obvious disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nutritionist, dietitian, coach, etc. and have absolutely no formal training whatsoever in medicine, diet, sports training, etc. and probably no one should listen to me about anything. Everything I know, I've learned from reading or talking either to people who ARE experts or other female runners who have had similar experiences. This entire blog is just Some Lady Rambling on the Internet and if you are getting your medical and/or training advice from me something in your life has gone very, very wrong; please go pay an actual expert actual money.)


People didn't talk much about iron levels when I was in high school and college. Or, at least, not my particular circle of runners & coaches. In fact I don't think I ever even had mine tested until I got a summer job running the barn at a Girl Scout horseback riding camp in college, and I had no idea what the numbers meant or even what the deal with low iron really was, except for some vague notion of how iron bonds to oxygen and that's why you need it to make red blood cells. Which, y'know. Sounds important. But wasn't exactly something I worried about.

My next encounter with iron talk was many, many years later, reading running blogs by people way, way, WAY faster than me (like RoseRunner, and Kris Lawrence, and Camille Heron), how they'd started generally feeling shitty on their runs while training hard, and so the doctor said, "You know, let's just check your iron just to be safe." It was't a problem I was personally having at the time, but I guess I must have put a mental pin in it to revisit if it seemed relevant.

So, a few years later, while I was training for the Eugene Marathon, I started feeling just really awful. Like tired and cold all the time even when there was no good reason for it, and so many runs, even short easy ones, where I felt like I might fall over at any moment. The way I tried to describe it to my doctor was that it felt like being sleep deprived and low blood sugar at the same time, only it happened when I was definitely definitely not either of those things. Also my workouts were just a slog. I could hit the times still, usually, but felt like I was dragging myself through them & when I got home I just wanted to lay on the couch and not move.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Life-Changing Magic of Bottoming Out

As you might imagine, after we got home from Big Sur on April 30th, I took a week completely off all physical activity (except going to work, which is to say, I went to work *at least* three days of five). Recently, though, I've gotten back to a basic level of activity. Very, very basic.

Some things I've been up to post-Boston/Big Sur:

Karate. I've been treating my class like my red headed step child these last few months & was starting to wonder if our students would even remember who I was. I still can't do any kicks properly but at least I can move around okay.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Boston 2 Big Sur: Should You Or Shouldn't You?

I don't remember where I first heard about Boston 2 Big Sur; it just seems like one of those things that's sort of been in the water since I started running distance races ten or so years ago. I'm sure I first read about it on someone else's blog back in the day, or one of my very earliest Bay Area running buddies mentioned it in passing. Who knows. But for about as long as I've wanted to try to qualify for & run Boston, I've always known that if I did, I would try to complete the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge as well.

Part of this has to do with wanting to run Big Sur, but not wanting to devote an entire training cycle to it since it's pretty much guaranteed not to be a fast race. So Boston 2 Big Sur kind of let me do a two-for-one: Train for and run a "for-serious" marathon (Boston), then run another casually while I'm still in shape to finish the distance reasonably well.

There was also the issue of getting in; the race is popular enough that there's a lottery, so you can't just assume you'll be able to run it whenever you want. (See this post for more details about the Big Sur Lottery.) Boston 2 Big Sur was the closest I'd ever come to being guaranteed a spot.

Of course, I'd never tried to run two marathons just 13 days apart, let alone running one of the toughest road marathons around just days after running what is on its own not necessarily the easiest marathon around. When I first started running marathons, I never would have dreamed of attempting such a thing, but October 2017 rolled around and I was feeling a bit nervy, so I figured, "Ehhhhh, what the heck? It's not a challenge if you're sure you can do it!"

(At least 2018 was one of the 13-day gap years; some years the two are only 6 days apart & I'm not 100% sure I'm *quite* that crazy.)

When I was first thinking about doing Boston 2 Big Sur, I had a lot of questions. I'm grateful for everyone on the internet who wrote race reports and shared their experience, so I thought I'd pay it forward & add to the collective bank of information that's out there. Obviously these are all just my personal opinions, and they're extremely colored by my experiences & background, so, as always, YMMV.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Race Logistics: Big Sur Marathon

This post is about the logistics/nuts & bolts of running the Big Sur Marathon; you can find my race report at this link. :)


Big Sur Station, CA to Monterey, CA

Date: Late April (April 29, 2018 this year)

Price: I want to say that the 2018 race cost $175-180 this year. So, not cheap, but not out of line with other high-profile marathons. Boston 2 Big Sur was $300, so $120 more for your medal, jacket, post-race food & beer, & presumably the extra administrative costs.

Field size/deadlines/sellout factor: The marathon is capped at 4,500 & it's popular enough that registration for the stand-alone race is by lottery each year in July. In fact, I learned by reading the race program that it's actually a series of five lotteries:

  • Groups & couples
  • Loyalty runners (ie, those who've run before)
  • Monterey County resdents
  • First-timers
  • Last chance drawing

This makes a lot of sense given what Road Bunner had told me before, that once you get in once, it seems like your odds of getting in again go way up. (Hence her getting in eight times.)

Boston 2 Big Sur registration happens after Boston Marathon registration closes (it opened on October 1 this year) & is first-come, first-served. If you've already gotten into Big Sur via the lottery and then register for Boston 2 Big Sur, your registration is converted & you're refunded your original registration fee.

Staging, Parking, etc.:

So, I can't really talk about the Monterey end of the race at all because we stayed down at Big Sur station. If you want to go that route instead of catching a bus from Monterey at 3:30am, here's how I did it.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Race Report: Big Sur Marathon

I'm planning to write a separate post specifically about the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge, but I figured I'd give Big Sur its due & write a proper race report just about that race first. :)

Friends, I must say that post-Boston marathon, I was in rough shape. If you've been playing along at home for a while now, you might recall that part of the reason my Boston training cycle sucked so badly was getting injured badly enough to miss a week of training on three separate occasions, not to mention all kinds of little yellow flags & micro injuries that made it difficult to ever really build up much fitness at a stretch.

I'm pretty sure I know most of the reasons for this (which maybe I'll write more about in a future post), but just suffice it to say that I knew going into that race that I was very, very far from top form and was lucky to even make it to the start. The upside of this is that I wasn't able to run hard enough to be sore after, but I definitely did have a number of body parts screaming at me to DAMMIT WILL YOU PLEASE JUST STOP WITH THIS NONSENSE ALREADY! In all honestly, if it wasn't Boston & I didn't have so many sunk costs already, I probably would have said "Eh, screw it" & stayed in bed.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Planning Your Boston Marathon Trip: Trip Logistics

This post is about the logistical issues involved in planning your Boston Marathon trip (at least, from the view of a first-timer from the opposite coast!). To read my Boston Marathon Race Report, click here.

Somehow it didn't occur to me until I was registered & in a training group that like any other race, Boston has "streakers" -- people who run the thing every year. It had kind of always struck me as a bucket list kind of thing, or at most an 'every-few-years-when-I'm-feeling-spendy' type of thing. But no; there were people in the Facebook group with 10, 15, 20, or more Boston Marathons under their belt, many of them even consecutive!

Of course, most of those people live within easy driving distance of Boston, where your participation costs are mostly the registration fee and a night or two of lodging. (And if you have friends or family in the area, perhaps not even lodging.) I know there are even West Coast folks or those from other far-flung areas of the country who still run Boston regularly, and I admire the commitment, but WOW, that's a significant logistical & financial commitment.

When I first signed up, I had a lot of logistical questions--when to travel, where to stay, food options, the expo, transportation issues, etc. While there was a lot of information out there on the internet, it wasn't always easy to find answers to specific questions I was wondering about. So I figured I'd do a post on my experience & hopefully add just a little more info to the pile & maybe someone out there will get a question of theirs answered just a little bit sooner.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Gravity's Rainbow Book Club Update

Howdy friends!

The Gravity's Rainbow book club is gearing up. When I asked around I was shocked to find that so many people were interested in joining in!

What is Gravity's Rainbow, you ask?

    Lengthy, complex, and featuring a large cast of characters, the narrative is set primarily in Europe at the end of World War II, and centers on the design, production and dispatch of V-2 rockets by the German military. In particular, it features the quest undertaken by several characters to uncover the secret of a mysterious device named the "Schwarzgerät" ("black device"), slated to be installed in a rocket with the serial number "00000".

    Traversing a wide range of knowledge, Gravity's Rainbow transgresses boundaries between high and low culture, between literary propriety and profanity, and between science and speculative metaphysics. It shared the 1974 U.S. National Book Award for Fiction with A Crown of Feathers and Other Stories by Isaac Bashevis Singer. Although selected by the Pulitzer Prize jury on fiction for the 1974 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the Pulitzer Advisory Board was offended by its content, some of which was described as "'unreadable,' 'turgid,' 'overwritten' and in parts 'obscene'". No Pulitzer Prize was awarded for fiction that year. The novel was nominated for the 1973 Nebula Award for Best Novel.

    TIME named Gravity's Rainbow one of its "All-Time 100 Greatest Novels", a list of the best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005, and it is considered by some critics to be one of the greatest American novels ever written.

In short, it will be awesome, & the idea is to read at a non-crazy pace as we all have busy lives & some of us have other reading we have to do as well.

Currently, we're organizing in an open Facebook group here. The goal is to start the week of May 30 to give everyone time to get a book. (I will probably keep it open until then, & then make it a private group.)

So yeah--If you're interested, come on over and say hi!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018


See also:

What It Was Like to Run the Boston Marathon in a Freezing Deluge (NY Times)

Harsh weather turns Boston Marathon into a punishing slog (Boston Globe)

Is today the worst weather in Boston Marathon history? (

In any case it's been *quite* the experience and I certainly have plenty to say about it! In fact, I have so much to say about different aspects of this race and the entire trip that it makes the most sense to break it up into a few different posts. Otherwise, I'm going to end up with a 40-page treatise that no one's ever going to read.

First things first, though: Race Report! I'll do logistics, etc. later; this one is going to be mostly just about my actual race experience & how it went, other than the lead-up you need to set the stage.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Race Report Spoilers: BOSTON 2 BIG SUR COMPLETE!

So, again, just thought I'd post a quick little check-in so that no one dies of suspense. I finished Big Sur! (And with only a little sobbing at the end.)

Definitely my slowest marathon ever (except for Oakland which I ran as a long run) for probably obvious reasons, but not abominable, and I actually felt really good & strong all the way to the end.

I have a ton more to say about this entire experience, once I finally have the time to sit down & write something. Which, given that I'm now planning on a good, long break from even remotely training for anything, might be something that actually happens over the next few weeks.

(Er, once I get out of bed. The Big Sur course is absolutely gorgeous, but man, it really beats the ever-loving SHIT out of you. :/ )

Talk to you soon!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Race Report Spoilers: I MADE IT, GUYS!!!

So apparently a few people not on my social mediaz started getting really worried that a Boston race report was taking me so long & getting worried that maybe things went really really terribly. And let me just say for the record that yes, OMG, IT WAS TERRIBLE!

HOWEVER, it was *not* as terrible as it possibly could have been. The weather was a mess, 2500 runners left or were pulled off the course with hypothermia symptoms, including 25 elites, & something like 80 people were hospitalized, so honestly, I can't feel anything but incredibly lucky to have been able to finish & only suffered mild hypothermia after the race.

I have a ton more to say & will most definitely be writing a few different posts about it, but as we spent the rest of the week gallivanting around NYC eating & drinking all the things, not much has gotten done on that front yet.

In the mean time, though, if you need some proof....

(A friend also sent me this, which I have to say I am contemplating even though I'm not shopping this year. I didn't buy the overpriced ugly-ass jacket but this T-shirt may be just what I need to fully memorialize the experience.)

Sunday, April 15, 2018

By the time you read this.......

By the time you read this, I'll most likely have made my way from Hopkinton to Copley Square, God willing & the crick don't rise. And honestly, crick-rising is a legitimate concern at this point, since we're supposed to get hit with a big, wet, windy storm sometime in the next few hours. Did I mention the wind is projected to be within 10 degrees of a direct headwind for 73% of the course? ~12mph or so at the start, and a healthy 28mph by the finish? GOOD TIMES!! :D

Is it disappointing to have such shitty weather? Sure. It's not like I was planning on a PR race, but I was hoping the trip would be at least mildly pleasant. But honestly, I don't feel as disappointed as it seems like I should. No one is ever entitled to perfect--or even not-awful--race day weather; you hope for the best, but you show up and run whatever kind of race day Mother Nature has seen fit to provide. I still feel super privileged to be here and am very cognizant of the fact that it very well could be my one and only shot. Everyone says Boston is magic regardless of the weather, that the camaraderie & adrenaline carries you through unlike in any other marathon, so that's the attitude I'm going into it with.

I also keep thinking back to CIM 2012, that god-awful, god-forsaken train wreck of a race year when everything was headwinds and sideways rain and timing mats shorting out under water & police rerouting the course around downed power lines. How at the time I swore that was the hardest run of my life, how I fought and fought and fought for the finish and felt like I'd been robbed of a PR by the weather. In retrospect, I'm kind of grateful for that race; all around me here in Boston and online people are freaking out about the weather and endlessly debating what to wear, and I'm feeling oddly calm about it. Like. How bad can it be? Worse than CIM 2012? Worse than Oakland three weeks ago when mile 8 felt like mile 20? I doubt it.

And, hey, if it is, I'll have a new war story. I'll run into other people who also ran Boston 2018, and we'll shake our heads and share war stories like it was so awful but inside feel sort of proud that we were there & made it through.

I'll write a more detailed post sometime soon, but in the mean time, please enjoy some shots of our first two days in Boston.

Catch you on the flip side of this beezie. Wish me luck and warm fingers!!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

4 More Sleeps: The Race Plan

You can thank Sara at Middle Aged Runner for this little gem.

Well, here we are. Tomorrow I get on a plane to Boston & things start Happening.

It has not been the training cycle I'd hoped for--not even close. I've been so busy and stressed with the remodel, and traveling too much, and injured badly enough to lose a week of training on three separate occasions. My plantar fasciitis has come roaring back in the past few months, making running (and walking) excruciatingly painful at times, and for the last month on my runs I've felt completely, utterly exhausted, like I'm wearing lead boots all. The. Time. (We did solve that one--I am apparently badly iron deficient, and while I've started downing iron pills & red meat like it's going out of style, almost everything I've heard or read suggests that it really takes a good two months before it makes a noticeable difference.)

Which is all to say, I'm trying to be excited about the experience, but I am not betting on having a particularly fast race. In fact, I'll settle for finishing and mile 8 not feeling like mile 20. I had a massage therapist work on my foot and calf on Tuesday, which helped, and hopefully taper will have revitalized me a bit. (I keep reminding myself that for CIM 2016, I felt pretty bad and exhausted all the way up until the day before the race, so there's still hope!)

Still, in any case, I AM planning to go out there & run the best, fastest race that I can, so I think it's still worth thinking through the course & coming up with a race plan.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

17 days, 5 cities, 2 marathons, & a partridge in a pear tree

Or: The Travel Crazies.

As I said before CIM 2016, I don't understand people who dread taper. I love taper. I'm great at taper. I'm a freakin' pro over here.

But as I've learned with the two other races I've flown to, it's harder to properly taper when you have so many balls in the air getting ready to travel, and then actually doing the traveling, while also managing to hold down/wrap up a full-time job, get a cavity filled, manage 47 crises related to your house remodel and oh yeah, not forget to do your taxes at some point.

And in case you'd forgotten, this particular trip is a bit more involved than most. Let us review:

- April 13-17: Boston Marathon (with side trip to our sister dojo at MIT, because not enough sportsing going on that weekend already)

- April 17-22: NYC vacation side trip

- April 22-25: Speak at Math Conference in DC (& also hang out with my college roommate)

- April 25-26: Late flight home, one night in my own (actually not even my own) bed, & an early-morning road trip to Big Sur

- April 16-29: Big Sur Marathon (plus a bit of general Big Sur sightseeing)

Are you tired yet? This was all my idea & I'm already tired. (BUT WHAT ELSE IS NEW.)

Thursday, April 5, 2018

The Year of No Shopping: Quarter 1

ICYMI, I decided that 2018 would be my Year of No Shopping. Recall that 'no shopping' does not mean 'no spending' or 'no buying things' or even 'no buying things unless 100% necessary'; for me this year, 'no shopping' means:

  • No wine shopping/buying beyond what I'm already committed to through clubs.
  • No new running clothes or shoes (barring maybe a Boston souvenir or two...maybe), except for probably some new sports bras which are truly needed.
  • No new clothes/accessories shopping via idleness/anxiety, crushing on something for no new good reason, or feeling like I need something new for a particular occasion.
  • No new books unless I *actually*, *literally* have nothing to read that I'm excited about.
  • No 'gadgets' unless it's something we legitimately need. (ie, no seeing an online ad for some handy gadget & going "Ooh! I could use that!" [add to cart])
  • No window shopping since it pretty much involves all the same bad habits, just without spending money.

I promised to do a little update once I was a few months in, so, here you go!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Free-Range Snow

(You may recognize this trail from Week 6, though it looked a bit different then....)

I'm not totally sure what's the point in continuing with these weeklies, but let's just go with it for shites and gigglz. (You know the smiling-crying emoji? Imagine that here. If you're on my social mediaz, you've seen those a lot lately so you're used to it.)

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Books 2018: Quarter 1

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. Don't worry, you won't hurt my feelings.)

***Also*** there is a group of us who are girding our loins to attack Gravity's Rainbow sometime in the not-too-dim-and-misty future, so give a holler if you've got the cojones and want in.

ICYMI, the classics I selected to read in 2018 are here.

On to the reviews!