Sunday, November 27, 2011

Race Recap: Run Wild for a Child 10k (2011)

When thinking about Thanksgiving races this year, I knew of two good options in San Francisco proper: The Turkey Trail Trot 5-Miler and the Run Wild for a Child. Last year I ran both. This year, with the constant reminder of how I should be saving my pennies for the out-of-state races I have in the coming months, I decided to register for just one.

On Thanksgiving morning, RoadBunner and I went on our own unofficial 10k turkey trot. We met bright and early, threw on our rain gear, and headed out into the mist for a fun and friendly jaunt. We even stopped by the Turkey Trail Trot 5-Miler to steal a pic with the mascot and cheer for our friend @Renee who was running the race.

A Turkey Trot of our own
I just love hanging out with RoadBunner and I'm so glad we got to run together on Thanksgiving morning -- it's something I hope to make a tradition! :)

For my official Turkey trot, I put my money toward the San Francisco Fire Fighter's Toy Drive and ran the Run Wild for a Child 10k again. I ran it last year, PR'd, and haven't run a 10k since. They suck too much.

With CIM on the horizon (holy crap, that's next weekend), I knew in my heart of hearts that all-out racing a 10k would not be a smart choice this weekend. Many a friend also confirmed. But with some solid improvements in my running lately, I figured I might have a new PR in me without needing to push it too hard.

While running my 2-mile warm-up to the race, I debated about using this 10k to hit some goal MP miles. I ran into Naomi and RoadBunner's Boyfriend before the race, and even declared to them that that was going to be my strategy.

Naomi & me at the start. I'm not normally this pale.

It wasn't as cold this year as it was last year,
where we were all wearing sweatshirts and hats.

Once the starting gun went off and I crossed the timing mat, I decided that I wanted the PR. My PR pace from last year's race was 7:44 -- so I thought I'd try to hold 7:45s and pick it up at the end for a teeny tiny PR.

Mile 1: 7:10. Oops.

Mile 2: 7:12. Oops again.

By mile 3, where I saw RoadBunner, Naomi, a coworker & her husband running -- as well as Courtney out cheering -- I knew I wasn't holding back enough. I was caught up in the atmosphere and enjoying myself while screaming for my friends. Mile 3: 7:07.

The last half of the race is a series of hills in Golden Gate Park: Mile 4: 7:28, Mile 5: 7:26, Mile 6: 7:25.

The race ends on a nice little downhill: .2 at 6:59 pace (one of the very rare times I've seen a sub-7 pace on my Garmin!).

Done and done.

The best part about this race is that I never really felt tired. I got a bit of a side stitch around Mile 4, but I think it's because I decided to charge up a hill while drinking a swig of water. I never got close to redlining, I never had the urge to puke (or even gag, unlike last year when that was all I wanted to do), and at the end I didn't feel spent at all. Naturally, my thoughts start veering toward the "Could I have pulled a sub-45 minute 10k if I pushed a little harder?" but I'll need to save that debate and effort for another day.

For now, I've got a 3:29 PR under my belt, I ran perfect tangents for the first time ever, I somehow managed a 5k PR during today's 10k, and I'm happy how the day played out.

Happy Friendsgiving. <3
Next up: CIM!

6.2-mile splits: 7:10, 7:12, 7:07, 7:28, 7:26, 7:25, 6:59 pace

Official Time: 6.2 miles, 45:13 -- a 3:29 PR! (8.2 mph)
Average Pace: 7:17 min/mile
Overall place 77 out of 673
Gender Place: 10 out of 358
Age/Gender Place: 4 out of 40
Air Temp: 52F

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Dream Big: CIM Goals

My fellow Nuunie-HTC Runner No. 2 buddy, Dorothy, has been infecting the Internet with a phrase she's been inspiring this fall: Dream Big.

The super-speedy, brand-spankin'-new-marathon-PRing (3:13!), totally adorable Dorothy & me during our nighttime leg of Hood to Coast.

As I've been tapering from my pseudo-training plan for CIM, I have been thinking about this phrase quite a bit while I'm out running. I know Dorothy didn't plan for this to become an assignment for people -- but I just need to fess up here.

As we all may (or may not) know, I was dealing with some burnout right after PRing at the San Francisco Marathon. Even though I qualified for guaranteed CIM entry with my SFM time, I debated about signing up for the race. I wanted the burnout to go away before I committed to another marathon, and yet the burnout wasn't going anywhere. From the beginning of August to mid-October, I sort of half-assed ran, went on long slow Sunday Rundays with friends, I spectated a lot of races, took a lot of days off (and by that I mean a LOT of days off), had my first DNS, tried running based on heart rate zones instead of pace, pretty much stopped blogging, and even changed my diet. I was willing to do anything to make myself feel better.

However, my heart rate was still exploding through the roof when I ran up hills, I was taking numerous breaks on even 5-mile casual runs, I felt tired and exhausted and frustrated most of the time, and I had little drive to even want to try marathoning again.

At the very last second possible, I signed up for CIM with my guaranteed entry before it closed. Then I got my butt back into gear since I had exactly 7 weeks until race day. There was no time to waste.

Something clicked, and it happened almost right away. Maybe it was because I had another race to look forward to. Maybe it was because I had 2+ months of rest that I denied actually needing. I'm very much looking forward to CIM because I think I have a good chance of doing well (by my own standards).

And this is where Dream Big plays in for me.

I've always sort of (ok, no really) underestimated my running goals. I want to give myself plenty of cushion for if/when I fail. I want to make things seem bigger and better when I hit my lowered goals.

Not this time. I want to put everything out there.

My first of two 20 milers for this shortened training cycle left me in disbelief. I came up with excuses ("But I broke it up into 3 little runs," "But I ran a race as part of it," "But I ran with friends and we stopped to talk," "blah blah blah"). The truth is, it happened.

My second 20 miler was even better and left me physically shaking my head. I came up with more excuses ("But I took 4 water/fuel breaks," "But I ran in the rain and that made me go fast," "But I tucked my watch away so I had no idea what my pace was," "blah blah blah"). The truth is, it also happened.

Thank you, Garmin Connect.

My 16-miler last weekend was even better. Another Nuunie-HTC buddy, XLMIC, made for me a pacing strategy to try. And it worked. Very well. There were no excuses.

Thank you, Daily Mile ... & XLMIC for the goal!

Things are getting better and better. I have high hopes.

For CIM, I am dreaming big. During my run today I truly absorbed my goals for this race, and I'm not going to hide behind them or underestimate myself this time.

If I fail at it, who cares? No one is going to hate me. It's not going to make me a bad person. It's not going to mean I'm a crappy runner. It just means I tried, I didn't make it, I'll train better, and I'll try again at my spring marathon. (Light-bulb moment!)

People put their Dream Big goals out there all the time and I respect them for not hiding behind lowered expectations. I admire that they are going for something beyond their comfort zone. I don't want to hide behind myself by setting goals I know I can hit anymore. I have absolutely nothing to lose and hopefully many more chances to try.

And with that... My Dream Big Goals for CIM.
  • A+ goal: Finish in 3:33:xx. XLMIC has created a pacing strategy for me that would have me finishing a few seconds under 3:34 if I have a perfect day. I will pretty much piss my pants if this happens, but hey... crazy things have happened for me in races before. Why not shoot for that perfect day?
  • A goal: Finish in 3:39. This would mark shaving an hour off my marathon time from when I first started. I will pretty much piss my pants if this happens, too, to be honest... and I truly believe I have a good chance at doing it at CIM. But maybe I can push beyond that, which is why I have an A+ goal. :)
  • B goal: Finish with a PR (sub-3:44). Did I ever think a PR would be so far down my goal list? No. But this time... it has to be. I've got more in me.
  • C goal: Finish strong, but knowing I'm going to do my absolute hardest to get my A+ goal next spring. That might actually include a real training cycle next time. ;)

There we have it folks. If I fail, I fail. If I get this, well, I'm probably going to shy off and not boast about it.

Or maybe I will.

Dream Big
. 11 more days!

Thanks for the inspiration, Dorothy.

Friendly reminder: You can use the discount code "ALYSSAFF10" until this Saturday (11-26) to save $10 on your SF 1st half, 2nd half, and full marathon registration for the 2012 races. After that the code expires -- and race fees go up! -- so now is your best time to save.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

SFM Discount Code

I'm already going to do my first shameless San Francisco Marathon plug, and I am totally not sorry!
Since you're all training for your Turkey Trots next week, why not keep the training up, push yourself a little further ... and sign up for the San Francisco Marathon on July 29, 2012!? Sure, it's a hard & hilly marathon -- but it's also extremely scenic, professionally organized, and completely awesome. Have you SEEN those massive medals they give you for running? It's worth the hurt for that alone!

I've got a $10 off code just for you to use on your registration. It's good for the 1st Half, 2nd Half, and Full Marathon! COME ON! You've got options and no reason for excuses.

Just enter "ALYSSAFF10" in the discount code field at check out, and you'll quickly see 10 big ones taken off your total. (You know you can use those $10 around the holidays. Yes, you can.)

Act fast though; this code expires the day after Turkey Day, 11/26/11.

Right after you register, why not go vote on the shirt you'd like to wear for running one of the races next year? That's right -- you can help design the SFM 2012 shirt!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Happy, Happy Friday!

Today I received some exciting news!

For those of you who don't know, I moved to San Francisco in August of 2010, just days after the San Francisco Marathon. One of the first things I did as a new resident was sign up for the 2011 race when registration opened.

As I began training for SFM, I was introduced to another local running blogger, Aron. Aron was an Ambassador for SFM, and she invited me to join her for a run with the San Francisco Marathon training group during their first week of training.

The meeting that started it all...

Aron introduced me to a ton of other awesome and rad Bay Area running bloggers by generously planning group runs.

Iron Horse Trail run day!
Back row: Alisyn, Naomi, Page, Kristen, Caitlin, Kerry, Layla, Beth, Courtney
Front row: Tara, Audrey, Jana, Katie, Megan, Aron

Training for the San Francisco Marathon forced me to get out and explore my new city by foot. Doing so, I became very close with a few other local runners who were also training for the race. I am lucky to call these runners some of my closest friends now.

Katie & Aron

Megan, Katie, Kristin, & Aron

Punky & Layla

RoadBunner, Page, Susan, Aron, Kristin, Jessica, & Tara

And then of course, I overtrained my tush off for SFM, the ultra-hilly marathon that currently holds my PR.

I feel like the San Francisco Marathon allowed me to grow as a runner, develop as a person, expand my perceptions of The City, and reach out and make new friends. I want to give back to the San Francisco Marathon in exchange for all it has given me...

And this coming year, I will get to do exactly that. I was chosen, alongside Aron, Courtney, Susan, and 28 other fabulous runners from around the country, to be an Ambassador for next year's race.

I'm so excited for this opportunity, and I can only hope to help this race change someone's life in the way it has changed mine.