Thursday, January 27, 2011

Happy New Year!

Yeah, yeah, I'm late in wishing you all a Happy New Year. (Sorry.)

I've had a few blog posts brewing in the back of my mind, and almost exactly no time to take a moment to spell them out, so I'm going to be super lazy and post them all at once as a recap of 2011 thus far.

Let me just say, this year has been delightful.

1.) I spent the later portion of 2010 and the early part of 2011 training my tail off for a sub-1:50 at the 13.1 Marathon - Los Angeles (which I ended up finishing in 1:47), and I took that training seriously. What I didn't take so seriously was my awesome weekend trip down to L.A., where I got to hang out with Rad Runner, Mr. Rad, and their amazing little teeny tiny Miniature Pinscher, Louie. We had grand adventures and I love that little family.

Gentleman Louie left us some mints on our pillows.
Rad and Shaky Bacon in the cutest shop ever.
Louie in the smallest parka known to man ... and man's best friend.
A baby potato taco that I ordered just for the sake of saying I ate one.
Me and Louie chillin' on the couch.
A totally normal sidewalk encounter in L.A.
I love Louie (and Rad's sweets-inspired tattoo).
2.) What else happened this year? Oh yes. I won a year's supply of nuun. We all know how much I love and swear by nuun in my training. I started using nuun when I was living in Minnesota, and since then, it's become a regular part of my running routine. I've noticed many improvements in my running, some of which I can positively attribute to hydrating better. Having enough to last a year is really going to help me with all the bigger races I have on my schedule!
And for those curious: The Kona Cola flavor isn't all that bad! Think of it as flat, warm, watered-down R.C. Cola. (Gulp.)

3.) In other nuun news, I'm officially a member of the nuun ambassador team. I couldn't be happier for this sweet sponsorship since I already believe so much in the product -- keep your eyes open for nuun giveaways, discount codes, etc., in the future!
4.) Speaking of running perks, Brooks invited me into one of their new clubs this year. It's not quite as cool as the I.D. group I was in during 2010, but it still is a pretty nice gig. I'm happy for what they provide to the people who were in their now-extinct I.D. program. Congratulations to all my other Brooks buddies who made it into their respective teams this year!

5.) AAAAAAND, Punk Rock Racing kindly asked me to be one of their athletes!!! Ok, so I don't actually know what this means yet. All I know is that I heart PxRx for everything they've done in making me feel welcome, accomplished, and honored in my new city. Receiving an invite to be one of their athletes means more to me than any sort of race time, electrolyte tab, or clothing discount. And I mean that wholeheartedly. (Hopefully that was a good answer and they won't drop me for being a softy.)
6.) I bit the bullet and finally put this blog on twitter. Feel free to follow along.

And this concludes the fourth week of January. Eleven more months for 2011 to keep kicking ass.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Race Recap: Waterfront 10-Mile Race

It's been a couple of years since I've run a 10-mile race (2009, 1:28:53), and since then I've become a stronger runner and a better racer. When I ran my first 10-mile race, I did it slowly and steadily because I set the finish line as my goal. Today, my goal was to run it as fast as my short, stubby little legs would let me.

Allow me to backtrack for a moment. I joined the San Francisco DSE Running Club at the beginning of this year. It wasn't so much a New Year's goal as it was me realizing that with how much I fork over for races, I should just join the club and hop in on some of their $3-for-members races. While the majority of their races are 5 and 10ks (and they happen almost every weekend, usually really close to my house, which kicks ass all on its own), they have a few 4.5-milers, a series of cross country and evening races, a 10-miler, a half marathon, and a 6-hour race. Race fees are never more than $8 for members depending on the distance, and not only is it a good way for me to save some moolah and run races close to home, hopefully I'll have the chance to meet some more runners in the area.

Earlier this morning I headed down to Ghirardelli Square to meet up with the DSE runners, taking in awesome views of some quintessential San Francisco sites from the Marina District. I don't spend a lot of time in this part of the city, but being over there lets me remember how beautiful this place is.

Ghirardelli Square
Sunrise from the Marina
Light on the Golden Gate BridgeAlcatraz
Hyde St. Pier, home of the Waterfront 10 Mile starting line
After a few hiccups getting course marshals along the route, the 10-mile race began a few minutes after 8a.m. Shortly after, a 5k was held for runners preferring that distance. The 10-mile route was a 5-mile out-and-back running along the Embarcadero, down around AT&T Park, into Potrero Hill, and back along the piers with a finish in Fisherman's Wharf. Luckily, this is probably the flattest stretch of the city. Unfortunately it was not a closed course, so we were on the sidewalk vying for space alongside tourists and residents also getting their exercise.

Waterfront 10-Mile Race Course
While this course was maybe not the most ideal simply because we were tripping over people not in the race (and I had two cars cut me off in an intersection, awesome), that is to be expected on an open course. The fact that the race ran alongside some of the best-known sites in San Francisco on a warm, sunny January morning can hardly be topped, either.

Mile 1 (7:49), Mile 2 (7:53), Mile 3 (7:55): Alcatraz, Pier 39, Ferry Building

I basically knew that as long as I finished this race with a good amount of effort, I'd have a hard time not setting a new PR in the distance. For that reason, I didn't watch my pace and I ran based on feel. I also took in as many of the area sites as I could -- it was such a clear, beautiful morning that it would have been a shame to lower my head and zone out.

Miles 4 (7:49), Mile 5 (7:52), Mile 6 (7:47), Mile 7 (7:53): Bay Bridge, AT&T Park

Looking back, these miles were a bit fast (for me). I think once I saw runners coming back around after the turnaround point, I wanted to hit the halfway mark to know I was on the last stretch of the race, too. As that sped me up, I never would have guessed that I managed seven sub-8:00 miles so far.

Miles 8 (8:07), Mile 9 (8:12), Mile 10 (7:52): Coit Tower, Fisherman's Wharf

This was where I started getting tired. From the point where we passed AT&T Park on the back portion of the course was where more people were out on the sidewalks and I had to do more dodging and weaving. I start passing a lot of people (who knows if they were in the race), but I also had a bunch of people begin to pass me (and who knows if they were in the race either). I actually started feeling a little defeated by all the people and slowed down considerably. Now that I see my splits, I realize these weren't as slow as they felt at the time.

And the best part about DSE races ... the finisher's ribbon!
Overall, I feel really good about this race and all day I've been debating the potential of maybe being able to attempt a 1:45 half marathon in the future. Hey, a girl can dream! One race at a time...

Time: 1:19:17 -- a 9:36 PR
Average Pace: 7:55 min/mile (7.6 mph)
Overall Place: 76 out of 187
Gender Place: 17 out of 88
Air Temp: 55F, sunny

1: 7:49 / 7.7 mph
2: 7:53 / 7.6 mph
3: 7:55 / 7.6 mph
4: 7:49 / 7.7 mph
5: 7:52 / 7.6 mph
6: 7:47 / 7.7 mph
7: 7:53 / 7.6 mph
8: 8:07 / 7.4 mph
9: 8:12 / 7.3 mph
10: 7:52 / 7.6 mph

And, since I realized last week that I'm late in starting my training for the Big Sur 21-Miler, I parked a mile from the starting line to get in a couple additional miles. (Or a warm up and cool down, since that's what good runners do, right?)

Warm-up mile: 8:57 / 6.7 mph
Cool-down mile: 9:03 / 6.5 mph

Monday, January 17, 2011

Race Recap: 13.1 Marathon - Los Angeles

On Friday night I flew down to Long Beach, California to begin my weekend extravaganza with Rad Runner. In effort to not write an entire novel in one post, I will write more about our adventures later. For now, I'm going to cut to the chase: The 13.1 Marathon we both dominated!

When I found out I won an entry into this race thanks to runner's rambles' giveaway, I immediately set my sites on 1.) convincing Rad to run this race (she was hesitant to agree since she hates the course), and 2.) attempting to run a sub-1:50.

Winning Rad over wasn't too hard. Attempting a sub-1:50 from a 1:54:30 (my current PR) in the span of 2 months was going to be harder. I knew the L.A. course was flat, and a few promising workouts gave me hope I could do this ... as long as the weather held out. I printed off a 10-week training schedule that I was 3 weeks tardy in starting, and I went straight to work with hill sprints, interval runs, tempo runs, and speed workouts through the holidays.

Rad and I started my trip to Long Beach with a run in her backyard on Saturday morning. She and her husband live close to the water, and we went on a quick 2-mile jog so I could get a feel for what the weather was like at 7:30am, the time of our race the next day. I brought a couple outfit choices and settled on running in my Punk Rock Racing shirt -- the shirt I PR'd in at the U.S. Half Marathon in November. I was sure it'd bring me good luck again!

A brief sunrise jog along the beach path in Long Beach.
I definitely wasn't awake yet.
My main strategy for attempting 1:50 was to hoof it at the beginning. I always start races too quickly and was hoping to bank this time (yeah, yeah, I know this is not the best strategy to have faith in). The sun would be in full force early on and it would most definitely zap me a bit -- I discovered this from being outside for a few minutes on Saturday. The sun down south sucked the energy out of me so quickly and I slept like a rock that night! I wanted to get some fast miles in while the conditions would let me, and then hope I wouldn't burn out under the crispy SoCal sun for the rest of the race.

I knew it was going to be a good day when I woke up at 4:29a.m. on Sunday morning, after my alarm was set for 4:30. I mean, come on... who really likes waking up that early by an alarm? A natural rise made for a much better morning! I got my race bag ready, packed up my iFitness belt, made my breakfast, and we navigated our way to Santa Monica. Parking was easy, I ate my breakfast in the car, and we then hopped in the Biffy line before lining up at the start.

Sunrise from the Santa Monica Pier.
Almost race time!
After making our way to the starting area and lining up by our paces, we heard a killer non-traditional rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" performed on trumpet. Just like that, we were off! The first mile was along Venice Beach, and the remainder of the course was a 6-mile out-and-back along Venice Blvd. -- an extremely flat, very boring route with tangents that would be hard to mess up.

The Boringest Route Ever

Mile 1 (7:43), Mile 2 (7:48), Mile 3 (8:08) -- I want to go fast, but this is too fast! Pull it back -- I can't do this for long and hope to complete the race.

While I should have lined up in the 8-minute mile section, I pushed my way to the end of the 6-minute mile section. Based solely on judging books by their cover, I knew only a few runners were actually there to follow those pace guidelines. I hoped the faster people would be my rabbits, and I wouldn't trip over some of the more ambitious runners who just happened to be standing too close to the front.

Mile 4 (8:20 -- first gel), Mile 5 (8:22), Mile 6 (8:29) -- My legs kind feel kind of funny. Holy cow, the sun is bright. Am I getting heat stroke?

My mental games started realllllly early on in this race, when I first though I had something in my left sock, and then thought my right foot was going numb, and then thought my legs were turning into jello. I tried my hardest to keep my pace steady, tune out the voices in my head, and listen to the on-course entertainment.

Mile 7 (8:16), Mile 8 (8:14), Mile 9 (8:13 -- second gel) -- How did I conclude that wearing all black was a smart idea?! I am frying! I need to dump something cold on m--- oooooh, there's a water stop.

Once I hit the turnaround point, I started checking my Garmin often. I was wearing a pace band I made, and I kept trying to monitor how much time I had in the bank. Mind you, my math skillz suck so I didn't have a definite number, but I knew roughly where I wanted to stay to be able to finish out the race. I was feeling very warm and pretty tired, and every once in a while I would cash in some seconds and pull a mile split back to conserve energy. I liked knowing I had a bit of a window in case I needed to refill my handheld -- or if I needed to stop and black out for a couple minutes. At one point I had about 3 minutes in the bank, but I saw myself losing a few seconds per mile when I began to conserve. Nothing to be concerned about... I was still attempting (and succeeding at) a pretty outrageous goal.
Mile 10 (8:25), Mile 11 (8:17), Mile 12 (8:09) -- WHO IS SPITTING ON MY CALVES? Oh, that's actually just my knee sweat. Wait ... knees can sweat??

At mile 12.5, I got the worst side stitch in the history of the world. Really, it was the worst in the whole wide world. I could only manage short, labored breaths and I must have looked like I was practicing Lamaze breathing. The only way I could alleviate the pain was by slouching over and shoving my fingers under my rib cage... or to walk, which I didn't want to do. I saw that I still had something like 1 and 1/2 minutes in the bank, so I decided to power through it. I must have looked like a fool since I was running with my hand pressed into my gut. I turned the last corner and I saw the finish line. I began running harder, just as I had during the first few miles. The side stitch disappeared with the end in site.

Caught on camera in the final tenth of a mile. Don't mind the derp face -- I was really excited that I had a massive PR in the bag. And I also just take really crappy pictures.
Mile 13 (8:08) and Mile .15 (1:03) -- This is amazing!!! I am awesome!! I want to run it again, but harder!! (Proceed to gag violently for a number of minutes after finishing.)

Unofficial victory.
Not only did I nag a sweet PR, so did Rad!!! She ended up with 5-minute PR to her name (Read her recap here: Rad Runner Record Town!)! Are we one anothers' good luck charms or what?! I can't wait to run the San Francisco Marathon with her this summer -- I know we'll both be setting awesome new times.

Rad loves photobooths. We couldn't find an open bar after the race to take a strip, so we made our own. Celebrate good times!
We had this post-race treat just for you, Ron. Wish you could have been here!

Official Time: 1:47:44 -- a 6:49 PR!
Average Pace: 8:11 min/mile (7.3 mph)
Overall Place: 485 out of 2,539
Gender Place: 115 out of 1,314
Division Place: 18 out of 248
Air Temp: 74F, no clouds to be found

13.15-mile splits:
1: 7:43/7.8 mph
2: 7:48/7.7 mph
3: 8:08/7.4 mph
4: 8:20/7.2 mph
5: 8:22/7.2 mph
6: 8:29/7.1 mph
7: 8:16/7.3 mph
8: 8:14/7.3 mph
9: 8:13/7.3 mph
10: 8:25/7.1 mph
11: 8:17/7.2 mph
12: 8:09/7.3 mph
13: 8:08/7.4 mph
.15: 1:03/8.5 mph

(P/S: Happy birthday, Aron. :) I hope your day was as good as the race you gave me!)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Let's take a moment and reflect briefly on all the half marathons I did in 2010.

The Annual Rite of Spring (Showers) Get In Gear Half Marathon
The (Downpour During the Miserably Muggy) Inaugural Red, White & Boom Half Marathon
The (Super-Soaker) U.S. Half Marathon
See a pattern?

Now, I love running in the rain just as much as the next runner. I also really love running half marathons. However, something about the two just doesn't quite mesh for me. I'm ready to run a half marathon in somewhat pleasant conditions already! My recent training has gone by smoothly, I've had some promising training runs, and I feel like I've put in a good amount of work for this upcoming race (because, after all, I can't let runner's rambles down on what was supposed to be her birthday run!).

So what will L.A. have in store for me this weekend?

BOOYAH! Just 10% change of precipitation! Let's hope this forecast stays similar, the temps stay low, and the sun stays away Sunday morning, because, after a year of crummy half marathon weather, I want to see what it's like running 13.1 in good conditions! This weekend is going be one big cupcake-craving, photo-boothing, commemorative caricature-ing, pizza-eating, half-marathoning party for Mrs. Rad Runner and me!