Monday, April 25, 2011

EVEN WINNERS WALK (i.e., Race Recap: Easter Roller Coaster 5k)

A few weeks ago, my blogger buddy Alisyn talked me into running a 5k on Easter morning with her. The race was being put on by our running club, and the course was called the Easter Roller Coaster 5k.

Only "roller coaster" really couldn't have been more of an understatement.

The course is on the outskirts of the Presidio and is uphill after downhill after uphill after downhill -- and then a turnaround -- then uphill after downhill after uphill after downhill. Okay, okay, you get my point.

And this course doesn't have any little anthills either. All of the hills on the course are big take-your-breath-away steep-grade hills that force even the faster runners to a powerwalk. I will just ruin the surprise for you now and say that I got a Personal Worst time at this race!

And, in other words, this race was a perfect simulator of the Big Sur Marathon on a small scale, so I agreed to do it. Alisyn joked that we would take hits from a beer bong before the race, laugh at how stupid we were to attempt this, and enjoy the morning between all the puking that was about to happen.

(Sidenote: Next weekend will be interesting.)

Mile 1 (8:10)

Alisyn & me in twin poses before the bloodbath
Alisyn and I started off running together. After the first uphill, it became very clear that neither of us were anywhere close to laughing. I powered up the first hill to get in some practice for Big Sur, pulled over to the side while Alisyn caught up, and then we took off down the first hill together. Alisyn doesn't run hills very often and was having a hard time catching her breath (makes sense -- there's no time to catch your breath on this course).

I still wanted to get more practice on the hills, so I charged up the second hill as much as my stumpy legs would let me, slowed down on the downhill and caught Alisyn at the turnaround point. I asked if I should wait for her (poor race etiquette on my behalf; sorry we didn't establish this beforehand, Alisyn!). She told me to take off.

If by "take off" she meant "stop to walk," that's exactly what I did.

Mile 2 (9:08; yes, friends, this happened during a 5k)

Immediately after the turnaround, we had 100-foot incline that happened in the span of .05 of a mile and I chose to walk it. All the guys around me stopped to walk it, too (my guess is because they didn't want to be chicked and took the break when they saw me taking the break). Once I started running again, so did they.

On the first downhill on the way back, I noticed a kid running the race. Granted, there's the "regular" kid who kicks my ass at every single DSE race, but this time there was a new kid kicking my ass, looking like he was trying to catch up to the regular kid. I had to get to the bottom of this.

"Who talked you into running this race?" I said as I caught up to him, trying to distract him from his stellar performance.
"I did. I wanted to run this race." he responded.
"Wow, quite the course to pick to run for fun. You're doing well!"
"Thanks, I placed 2nd at Stinston Beach."
"Good Lord. [Oops, maybe I shouldn't say that on Easter.]"
(Kid shoots off like an arrow.)

I then proceeded to get schooled by ANOTHER KID UNDER THE AGE OF 10. What's with kids these days anyway?
Mile 3 (7:54)

Nothing to say here. I did my best up the last uphill and down the final downhill to make up lost time, but I missed a good amount of time at the first half of the race and felt pretty defeated.

Nope, realllllly defeated.

Mile .1 (:42, a 6:43 pace)

That was a good pace -- too bad I couldn't have done more of it. I didn't even gag at the end, so maybe I had more in me. Too late now.

I collected my finisher's ribbon, kept my eyes peeled for Alisyn, and headed over to the area where the race director was announcing the top 5 finishers.

Who was the race director, did you just ask? None other than ENDORPHIN DUDE! When the marathon caped crusader isn't busy running back-to-back marathons and ultra marathons (he did a 50k on Saturday, PRing by 2 hours), he makes appearances at DSE races!

Tony and I have run in some of the same DSE races, only we've never bumped into each other. I was excited that today could be the day I'd meet the superhero!

Race director Tony, aka Endorphin Dude, announcing the winners
Right as Alisyn and I made our way to announcements, Endorphin Dude said MY NAME?!?! Apparently I finished in the top 5 women??!

I was seriously shocked when he said my name as the #4 female finisher... So shocked the whites of my eyes turned black and I became evil.
Me, Endorphin Dude, and Alisyn
And that's the end of that. I stopped to walk and didn't give everything I had -- and I was a winner. Pretty sure there's a lesson to be learned in here somewhere.

Oh well.

Finishing Time: 25:55 -- a new Personal Worst!
Average Pace: 8:21 min/mile (7.2 mph)
Overall Place: 26 out of 116
Gender Place: 4 out of 36
Air Temp: 55F, misty/rainy

3.1-mile splits: 8:10, 9:08, 7:54, :42

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Slight Change in Plans...

...or a 5.2-mile detour, you might say.

Earlier this week, I was signed up for this May 1st Big Sur race:

After a fateful Monday-night get-together with my dear friend RoadBunner, I'm now signed up for this Big Sur race:

Yes, ladies and gentlemen. RoadBunner convinced me to upgrade to the marathon.



And not just a marathon. THE G-D BIG SUR MARATHON.

What's better? I know I'm not prepared. I'm not prepared for a marathon, let alone the Big Sur marathon. I've had exactly three runs over 15 miles in THE PAST YEAR. I haven't mentally put myself in a place where I am training for a marathon... at least not one soon.

I debated about not saying anything here for fear of having another miserable race and needing to report back to all those who hold my running accountable. But, I already spilled the beans to my friends on Facebook and Twitter, so really, it's no surprise.

Here's the plan.

The "main" race I'm focusing on this year is still the San Francisco Marathon. I want to do that race well, I want to finish strongly, and I want to not fall apart the last few miles like I have in marathons past. The little "sub-4" is lingering in the back of my mind for SFM, but I've still thought that if I can do decently there, I could run a fast course and attempt my sub-4 later this year.

Essentially, while I want to do well at SFM, I'm using it as a tune-up for another marathon later. Follow?

And I wanted to use the Big Sur 21-Mile race as a training run for SFM. Except now, I'm increasing my distance.

This doesn't mean I'm going to slack off on the marathon I'M RUNNING IN 10 DAYS. Sure, I want to bring my camera, have a fun weekend with my girlfriends, and run a hilly, hard run. I just don't want to die trying.

I will do my best, I'll see what my body gives me, and I'll gauge what I need to work on for the San Francisco Marathon. But the truth is, I'm still really just viewing this run as a training run for SFM.

I'm running a marathon as a training run for a marathon... which will be a tune-up for another marathon.

Is this weird?

Can I claim my Maniac status for real now?

Thanks, RoadBunner, for talking me into this. I am completely bipolar -- one minute super excited, the next minute terrified of what I'm about to do -- because of you. ;) It's going to be a GREAT weekend regardless of what happens!

Monday, April 18, 2011


Rad made me write this first paragraph:

Today, on the 105th anniversary of the great quake that leveled San Francisco, I experienced my first earthquake! We had a tiny 3.8 tremor that jolted my apartment building back and forth exactly once -- it was more or less noisy rather than disruptive. But anyone who knows me knows I've been waiting for this day for a long time! :)

And, today, on the 115th anniversary of the Boston Marathon, I was able to sit down and reflect on a few of my own running accomplishments. It was so inspiring to stream the Boston Marathon this morning, knowing I could count on two hands the number of people I knew in the race. While I'm sure a BQ is no where in my immediate future, watching this race and my friends' journey to get there made me realize that I've come a long way, too, baby.

In two weeks I'm going to be running the Big Sur 21-Miler (which will be an off-course this year due to a landslide that took out part of Highway 1.). Despite the change in scenery we'll see, I'm excited to get in another long training run in preparation for the San Francisco Marathon later this summer. Originally my goal was to build up to 18 miles two weeks before the 21-mile race, and then taper back down. After Big Sur, I'll step back for a few weeks before ramping up my long runs again in preparation for SFM.

On Saturday morning I took a bus down to the Ferry Building and told myself I'd run the first 17 or so miles of the SFM course at a leisurely pace, and then run home from there to make it to 18 miles total. I didn't want to push it on the hills -- I wanted to get in a quality run on big hills to mentally get ready for Big Sur. After those 18 miles, I was feeling so good -- unusually good -- that I ran another 2 around my neighborhood to finish up at 20.

I was pretty surprised at my mile splits. In the span of less then one year, I went from running this...

My first 20 miler: May 1st, 2010 -- relatively flat MN route
To running this...

My latest 20-miler: April 16, 2011 -- super mega hilly SF route
I have essentially cut 15 minutes off the time it takes me to run 20 miles, decreasing my splits by almost 45 seconds per mile. To me, this is crazy! I never thought I'd improve at long-distance running after my somewhat-disastrous marathons (1 & 2) last year. Although the hills were hard along the SFM course, I never felt like I was pushing my pace beyond a comfortable zone. Naturally I want to think this 20 miler was a fluke, but for how great I felt afterward and how I had no muscle pain the next day, it can't be, right? Right?!

I'm excited to see how Big Sur will go and what else my legs have in store for me the rest of this year. This was exactly the kind of training run I needed to have to boost my confidence in covering long distances.

Next up ... Big Sur!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Running the Numbers

Oh my gosh you guys, I suck at blogging lately.

Basically my life has been super crazy awesome fantastic busy, and I'm loving pretty much every second of my days. This doesn't always leave me with a lot of time to write anymore -- that includes me commenting on your blogs! I try to catch up on the bus in the morning, but my reader doesn't always comply with my desire to comment ... and my bus ride isn't very long. While running used to be my "me-time" activity, it hasn't been that way so much lately. Sometimes it feels like running has become my life, but I am happy about this.

Lately I've been doing more group runs.

Lululemon ROGA (running + yoga) club
I went to the first San Francisco Marathon Training group where I got to run with Aron and Kristin!
Punk Rock Racing Donut Run, Part I
In effort to appease my long-run nervousness, I've been doing some long runs with people who are awesome and keep me motivated. Why didn't anyone ever tell me that running with friends makes it 28397102983190823701x better?! Lately I haven't been *as* nervous for long runs!

Running (12 miles) with speed-demon Katie in torrential rain
Running (17 miles) with Boston-bound Aron in crisp spring air
Annnnd, I've done a bit of race volunteering/cheering, because helping out with races is just as important as running them!

Finish-line tag collector at the DSE Arts & Sciences 5k
Sports Basement Cheer Squad at the Emerald Bay 12k
I also ran a virtual marathon, which, if I ever get my fear of running long under wraps, this could be an interesting indicator of what I'm capable of. (I ran this marathon in three runs: a 2.6-mile run [22:36], a 7.4-mile run [1:04:37], and a 16.2-mile run [2:20:36].)

Cupcake Marathon Spring 2011 -- 3:47:49 (8:41 pace)
I got a gym membership (again) so I can fit in more cross-training and hopefully stave off some repetitive-motion injuries while not feeling guilty about taking rest days. I'm still taking a day or so of complete rest, but I'm exchanging at least 1 day of light/"junk miles" for cycling and/or elliptical. It's good, and I'm trying not to be too strict with my training schedule.
I had my running gait analyzed by video, and while the session in and of itself was pretty worthless, I did walk away with a few ideas for improving my stride. It's now just a matter of incorporating the little I took away from it, which isn't as easy as it sounds. (P/S: I do NOT recommend BreakAway Performance in San Francisco. We can open our own discussion if you're curious why.)

I somehow picked up another sponsor. (2011 rocks.)
I accidentally became a Half Fanatic! Or, rather, I accidentally qualified and decided to go for it. :)

I should more accurately wear my Half Fanatic shirt instead of my Marathon Maniac shirt...

Because, speaking of half marathons, I've added some more exciting 2011 races to my schedule -- one that is completely out of my comfort zone, and all of which are just plain awesome.

The Giant Race (half marathon) -- I seriously can't wait to run this race with Layla, Naomi, Karin, and Micheale!

The North Face Endurance Challenge Championship Trail Race (half marathon). Gulp.
That's pretty much all the updates you need for now. EXCEPT THAT I HAVE ANOTHER AMAZING GIVEAWAY COMING UP! Stay tuned, assuming I make it back to blogland soon.