Monday, March 26, 2012

Race Recap: Oakland Half Marathon

On Saturday afternoon, Angela & I carpooled from San Francisco to the Oakland Marathon expo, where we picked up our race goods and made our way to Hotel Jana. Once we settled in, we carb-loaded, watched TV, and talked about running up until the granny hour of 10pm. Jana was running the full marathon the next morning, and the other occupants of Hotel Jana (Sesa, Karin, Angela, & me) were running the half. We wanted Jana to get her much-needed sleep and did our best to keep things quiet.

To no fault of anything other than an off-light, I slept like complete crap and woke up feeling less than excited about running through downtown Oakland. Jana's race started at the decently late hour of 7:30a.m., while the half marathoners started at 9:15. The rain forecasts that dominated our Weather Channel apps were totally wrong, and we had a overcast, cool, chilly morning -- perfect for running long.

After we saw Jana off, a few of us went out in search of coffee (I have never had coffee before a race -- not sure why I thought now would be a good time to start that), went back to our heated cars to eat our breakfasts, and finally made our way back to the start line for the half. I was actually kind of diggin' on this later start.

NOW, if I may interject on a total tangent, Page talked us all into wearing matching socks for the race. I do love me some compression socks and I have no qualms about buying a cute purple pair -- turns out this was a BRILLIANT idea! A few spectator friends said it was easy to spot us, and I found that it was really easy to spot one another, too. While waiting for the start and within the first mile, I found Jojo, Jessica, Kristin, Cate, and Naomi. I said hi & wished them all luck, then decided that my plan for this race would be to practice negative splitting. My heart was not in it to race but instead to have a great day with so many friends around.

Sesa, Karin, Jessica, Naomi, Dennis, Jana, me, Cate, Angela, Layla, & Page
(Other sock friends not pictured: Kristin & Caitlin)

Mile 1: 7:01 (crap) -- so much for negative splitting
Mile 2: 7:25 (CRAP) -- I got to see Aron & her husband out cheering!!

Thinking back to Kaiser, where I was in the port-o-potty line when the race started & I went out too fast to try to find my place in the pack, I had gone out too fast again. Only this time I had no good reason -- I just couldn't control my race energy and I knew I was going to pay for it at the end. I started feeling down on myself within the first mile because I was remembering how I felt at the end of Kaiser. I knew I was going to have to reel things in if I wanted to finish without walking, but I also didn't want to have a repeat of that day.
Then lo and behold -- just after mile 2, I spotted a pair of heart compression socks, and saw Angela out there clipping away, without even looking like she was working. I snuck up behind her and followed her for about a quarter mile, using her as my rabbit & pacer. Then realizing that maybe this wasn't fair for me to do without her knowing, I asked her if she minded if I followed her. She said no, and from miles 2 until about 12, Angela and I ran side by side, sometimes even stride for stride, her pushing me to keep up with her and apparently me pushing her to hold her own pace.

Of all the miles we ran together, this is one of the only ones of Angela and me?!

Mile 3: 7:42
Mile 4: 7:46
Mile 5: 7:52
Mile 6: 7:53
Mile 7: 7:53
Mile 8: 7:52
Mile 9: 7:44
Mile 10: 7:43
Mile 11: 7:56

I don't know how else to say it, but it was a perfect running partnership. We didn't share very many words at all during our miles together, but I do remember saying at one point "I know you know this, but don't let me hold you back." I think she might have said the same to me in return, but I have no idea. We were "clicking" with one another and the exchange of feelings were pretty mutual; we started off feeling like our miles were decent together, and toward the end we were most definitely both working pretty hard. It was nice having someone by my side, knowing what I was going through.

Thanks, Beth, for the cheering so loudly and for all the great photos!
By the final water stop, Angela was losing just an ever-so-slight bit of steam, and I felt like I had it in me to kick it into another gear. I looked back a few times to see where she was, but I had lost her. I was hoping that we could cross the finish line together, but it got a little hectic by the end, with runners sprinting in their finish, spectators cheering, and the cruel, cruel final uphill.

Mile 12: 7:42

Final uphill push
I looked at my watch once I hit 13.1 (I had heard rumors that the course ran long & I wanted an accurate reading for my own piece of mind), and my Garmin said 1:40:28. I was BEYOND ecstatic -- this was a huge PR for me, and there's no way I could have done it without Angela pushing me to dig deeper & run harder. But because the course ran long -- 13.34 miles by my watch -- my official finishing time wasn't as great... but it was still a PR.

Mile 13: 7:28
Mile .34: 7:10/pace

Thanks for the support & photos, Aron!

The speed-demon who held me accountable, Angela!

For going into a half without really wanting to race and for feeling pretty bad about myself early on, I can't be disappointed. I know that on the right course & the right day, both Angela and I will be busting through the sub-1:40 barrier soon. This thought is a very exciting one for me.

Overall, the Oakland Running Festival Half Marathon was a great race. The perfect weather helped a lot, but the course support, crowds, police escorts, and the city of Oakland really showed a great side on Sunday morning. The course wound around a lot of historic Oakland landmarks, and it was cool being able to take over the city by foot. I loved how organized and well-executed this race was, and I wouldn't hesitate to run the half again.

Team Newton!
Jess went on to pace Kristin to a new half PR
& Dennis went on to pace Jana to a sub-4 full.

Punk Rock Runners 4-eva! Layla & me

Garmin time: 13.34 miles, 1:42:12 -- 7:39 pace

Official time: 13.1 miles, 1:42:11 -- a 1:08 PR!
Overall place: 299 out of 3,452
Gender place: 58 out of 2,077
A/G place: 18 out of 381

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Countdown to Ogden: Week 4

I'm writing my weekly recap a bit early as I plan on doing a full recap of the Oakland half marathon tomorrow. It'll be my first time running the race, it could be an interesting shitshow seeing how the weather is a total piece of crap, rumors say the course could be as long as 13.4 miles, and unlike my Kaiser recap, I'll try to be a little more honest with my paces & takeaways. I'm still not quite sure if I want to race it, practice MGP miles, or just call it mileage, and I have a feeling I won't determine that until I see how the weather is tomorrow.

Ogden Marathon training, week 4


Goal: 5 mi. @ rec. pace (9:00+)
Actual: Rest

I really wanted the day off.

Goal: 10 mi. w/ 5 @ LT pace (7:25-7:35)
Actual: 10 mi. @ 8:06

My goal was to start with a 3-mile warm up, do 5 miles @ LT, and a 2-mile cool down. My splits were good, so I thought, but apparently I ran the last couple LT miles too fast, which was somewhat intentional -- I just didn't know I was supposed to control that pace, rather than running it all out. I'll work on holding that pace better next time since Coach Z-Bar says that's where the true lactate threshold benefit comes from.

Splits: (w/u) 8:46, 8:54, 9:02, (LT) 7:39, 7:22, 7:22, 7:16, 7:10, (c/d) 8:28, 8:55


Goal: 11 mi. @ MGP + 30 sec.-1 min. (8:30-9:00)
Actual: 11 mi. @ 8:22

Nothing to this -- just cruised & enjoyed the back-to-back double-digit days.

Goal: 5 mi. @ rec. pace (9:00+)
Actual: 5.5 mi. @ 8:19

I met up with a bunch of Bay Area bloggers for an after-work run, followed by grilled cheese sandwiches! I ended up running with speeddemon Katie, who always pushes me to go a bit faster. While I never felt uncomfortable during this run, it certainly wasn't recovery pace. Oh well.

Back, left to right: Jojo, me, Naomi, Layla, Kerry, Angela, & Courtney
Front, left to right: Audrey, Aron, Cate, & Katie

Goal: 5 mi. @ rec. pace (9:00+)
Actual: 4 mi. @ 8:23

I needed to run a bunch of errands and since the weather was nice, I decided to do just that. Lots of stopping & going to hit up stores during this run, but a great casual run nonetheless.


Sunday: Oakland Half Marathon... recap here!

When all is said & done, I'll have run 44 miles during my 4th week of training. A nice little step-back week in terms of mileage, but with some faster paces and a race thrown in there.

8 more weeks until Ogden!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Nuun Hood to Coast 2012 Applications! & Countdown to Ogden: Week 3

Before I go on boring you all with my training from last week, I want to take a moment to declare a totally unsponsored PSA announcement...

My friends over at Nuun hydration are now accepting applications for their 2012 Hood to Coast relay team!

I had the great fortune of running as a part of their inaugural relay team in 2011 (see recaps here, here, here, & here) and it truly was an awesome experience. I had a lot of fun getting to meet other female running bloggers from all over the country (and Canada!) and running beside them in the U.S.'s most epic relay race. Yes, I can use the word epic here.

This year, they are accepting THREE teams of female bloggers instead of two... so if you want a shot at running this famed race with a fun & energetic team, get your creative juices flowing and APPLY!

And now. The part where you take a nap.

Ogden Marathon training, week 3

Part of me is feeling like I can't really complain about being tired when some of my friends are running a gazillion miles while holding down stressful tax-season jobs and families and actual responsibilities, but I just felt really drained this week for a number of reasons. Sure, my miles bumped just slightly, but not anything I can't handle during the third week of a training cycle. Regardless, lots of stress & other things on my mind made this week a challenge -- I ended up moving a number of workouts around to get everything done.

And I still kicked its ass.


Goal: 8 mi. @ MGP + 15-45 sec. (8:15-8:45) & 10x100m strides
Actual: 11 mi. @8:06

This might have been a smidge too fast seeing that I was essentially taking some of Wednesday's miles and moving them here, but I felt controlled and good the entire time. The strides at the end of my run knocked down my overall pace a little, but the run was nearly right on.


Goal: 4 mi. @ rec. pace (9:00+)
Actual: 7 mi. @ 8:34

I met up with the beautiful Jana after work for a soggy run in the rain! We kept the pace "comfortably working" given the weather and jib-jabbed while splashing through puddles.


Goal: 11 mi. @ MGP + 30 sec.-1 min. (8:30-9:00)
Actual: Rest.

Goal: Rest
Actual: 5 mi. @ 8:07

Nothing to this run. Just making sure I was working toward my weekly mileage goal.


Goal: 4 mi. @ rec. (9:00+)
Actual: 4.16 mi. @ 7:55

I was more focused on getting my miles this week and didn't even think about pace. I kept the music at home and spent some time pounding my thoughts out on the pavement in the rain.


Goal: 16 mi. w/ 10 mi. @ MGP (8:00)
Actual: 16 mi. @ 8:02

PERFECTION! In my head, my goal was to do 2 miles at a warm-up pace, 10 miles at 8:00/mile pace, and then 4 miles as a cool down. Once I found my rythym, I ended up kind of glazing over my cool-down miles. I definitely slowed them down at first because I was feeling tired from the hard 10, but once I took that short rest, I went back into it & added in some pick-ups at the end. It was a cool & overcast morning -- perfect for a hard long run.

(2-mile w/u) 8:27, 8:28, (10 @ MGP) 8:03, 8:02, 7:59, 7:59, 7:54, 7:54, 7:52, 7:53, 7:50, 7:52, (4-mile c/d) 8:09, 8:20, 8:00, 7:55

Goal: 8 mi. @ rec. (9:00+)
Actual: 8 mi. @ 9:31

When Renee -- who has taken a whole month off of running! -- tweeted that she'd be running in the Park on Sunday morning, I just had to join her on her return back to the sport!

While it was very windy and cold in the park yesterday morning, our run together couldn't have been more ideal. Renee is a good friend and great support to me -- I loved having this time to run, catch up, & get coffee with her. :)

And, by the way, she does NOT run at a snail's pace, even after a month off.

Overall, I finished week 3 with 51.2 miles of running with my average pace being just slightly faster than what I should probably be doing. Ah well... I needed it.

This week I'll be stepping back the miles a little, and I'm running the Oakland Half Marathon on Sunday. I haven't decided if I'll "race" race it for a PR, or if I'll just try to hit MGP miles. I guess I'll see how this week of training goes before making that call.

Just 9 weeks left!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Countdown to Ogden: Week 2

The next time I say I can't do something, just slap me and tell me to get going.

Ogden Marathon training, week 2

Goal: 11 mi. @ MGP + 30 sec. (8:30)
Actual: 11 mi. @ 8:04

This run in theory was too fast, but I decided to go with what my legs were craving ... aka "my happy pace." I started off this run casually, but as I warmed up I was feeling awesome and went with it. So glad I did.

Tuesday: Rest.

Goal: 8 mi.: 2-mile warm up, 4 miles @ LT (7:25-7:35), 2-mile cool down
Actual: 8.2 miles @ 7:49

In my mind, anything around a 9-minute mile is fast. Therefore, anything around 8-minute mile is REALLY fast, anything under a 7-minute mile is REALLY REALLY fast, and you get where I'm doing with this. So when Coach Aron told me to try to do 4 consecutive miles at my lactate threshold pace and I saw 7:25-7:35 on my training paces, I had a mild panic attack. That's a pace I've really only been able to hit during 5k and 10k races. She urged me to start with a warm up, then aim for 7:40s and work each mile down from there. I warmed up and once my Garmin clicked over to 2 miles, I took off sprinting.

After a few minutes, I looked down at my watch and saw I was holding a 7:00 pace. I slowed it way down and let my mile average catch up. By a half mile in, I was at a 7:20 average mile pace. I slowed down a bit more and watched it approach 7:30s. Then I settled in and cruised.

This run ended up being almost perfectly spot on once I found my groove. My cool-down miles -- even though they look "fast" -- felt extremely comfortable after pushing myself up some big hills at this LT pace. Apparently that's the trick: Go out too hard, and anything after that seems easier.

Confidence boosting run for me -- it felt awesome to do & I was so happy with how it went. Coach Z-Bar agreed. :)

Goal: Rest
Actual: 6 mi. @ 8:57

I traded out a rest day with a recovery day in order to have a free Friday night. Sue me.

Goal: 5 mi. recovery (9:00+)
Actual: Rest

Goal: 15 mi. @ MGP + 30 sec. to 1 min. (8:30-9:00)
Actual: 15 mi. @ 8:52

Met up with Kristin, Sima, Layla, Jana, and Jessica for a long run on the Golden Gate Bridge/along the San Francisco waterfront. Not wanting to focus on pace as much as mileage, time on my feet, and quality time with friends, I went with what everyone else was doing. Perfection.

Goal: Rest
Actual: 7.5 mi. @ 9:05

One thing I want to try this training cycle is a tip passed onto me from my friend Renee. She cut off an inspiring amount of time from her marathons last year, and upon picking her brain on her training, one thing she did really stood out to me: She takes half the distance of her long run & runs that the day after. I can totally understand the theory behind training your legs to continue moving even though they are tired, but also naturally building in some recovery. I'm feeling the need to at least give this a shot. My legs didn't feel any different after Saturday's 15-miler, but I still kept this run simple.

Overall I finished Week 2 with 47.7 miles of running, with most of my runs being exactly what my plan called for pace-wise. My legs and spirits feel good & I'm calling this week a success.

10 weeks until Ogden!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Countdown to Ogden: Week 1

Although I've been registered for the Ogden Marathon since the hour it opened, the race became official for me just yesterday as we finally effin' booked plane tickets and made hotel reservations for the race. Why exactly this means there's no turning back now, I'm not sure. But there's no turning back now!

And I guess last week I started my official 12-week training plan, but that's neither here nor there.

Actually, that's precisely why I'm here. Time to crack open this hunk 'o junk blog and try formulating a word or two now that I may or may not have some content to work with.

Time to train!

My good running buddy and sweet friend in general, Aron (aka Coach Z-Bar) a la runner's rambles, was kind enough to take time out of her hectic I'm-training-for-a-50-miler-while-working-a-full-time-job-and-caring-for-4-pets-and-a-husband schedule to build a training plan centered around my specific goal for Ogden. Coach-approved mileage, paces, rest days, and all -- this is a brand new marathon approach for me and I'm excited to give her plan a try!

And here's where I'm going to cut to the chase.

My goal for the Ogden Marathon is to run 3:30. Sure, I'm passing up my 3:33 goal for now, but for good reason. I know I can do it & I want to train specifically for it.

Well, and the Ogden Marathon is working to my advantage with an ever-so-slight downhill, and with very little climbing to worry about.

Naturally, there are some caveats to this dream of a race:
  1. The race starts at elevation and ends at elevation. My little sea-level ass will more than likely feel this effect. Still working on how to conquer this one.
  2. I don't have a ton of long stretches of slight downhills to practice on here in San Francisco, but I'm finding as much flat ground as I can to train on. Close enough, right?
So, in effort to try to revive this dying blog, I'll start by attempting to outline my training specific for hitting a 3:30. My marathon goal pace (MGP) of 8:00 is out there and I'm set on doing it, so I might as well keep myself in check, right?

In sum: Ogden Marathon training, week 1

Goal: 8 mi. @ MGP + 15 to 45 sec. (8:15-8:45) + 10x100m strides/15 sec. recovery
Actual: 9 mi. @ 8:13

This run was pretty much right on. I hit consistent 8:15s and picked it up during my strides to knock my overall pace down a bit at the end. The newb in me didn't realize you can run strides DURING the last mile, so I accidentally added on a bit of extra after finishing the initial 8. I'm learning!

Tuesday: Rest. WHAT IS THIS? Resting during the week. Ha.

Goal: 9 mi. @ MGP + 15 to 45 sec. (8:15-8:45)
Actual: 9 mi. @ 8:14

My first mile was too fast, my second mile was too slow, the rest were just right, and the average is pretty close. I'm sure I'll get the hang of this pacing thing soon & I was happy to be on the lower end of this pace goal.

Goal: Rest
Actual: 6 mi. @ 9:56

Met up with a few San Francisco Marathon Am-bad-ass-adors at Lululemon's run club to lead a short group run followed by an SFM registration party! I got to ascend some sweet hills with Aron and Alisyn, and the casual pace was welcomed on this day of rest.

Goal: 5 mi. recovery (9:00+)
Actual: Rest

Goal: 13 mi. @ MGP + 30 sec. to 1 min. (8:30-9:00)
Actual: 13 mi. @ 8:21

Close enough! I started this run after sleeping in a bit too late, and by the time I hit the streets, it was unseasonably warm. Toward the end of the run I was antsy to get off the hot pavement, and I picked up the last few miles on the way home to knock the pace down slightly and get to my morning coffee faster.

Goal: Rest
Actual: 4.5 mi. @ 7:48

What I forgot to say about Saturday is that I was actually SUPPOSED to do some pace miles during that 13-miler & I totaaaalllly missed that part of my training plan. So I made up for it and ran some "fast" (for me) miles on tired legs to simulate what I forgot to do the day before.

Overall, I finished Week 1 with 42 miles of running, and I'd call my paces successful. This coming week slightly ramps up a little, but for now I can tell I'm loving these rest days. I am actually getting laundry and other chores done during the week (imagine that)! It's fun doing long-ish runs after work, too, as I'm usually not one to do much over 6 miles during the week. This training plan is all sorts of new for me, and I'm excited!

Can I also just mention that I'm super stoked for this gorgeous race!? Just look at these pictures I found by photographer Nick Sokoloff!

11 weeks until marathon #7!