Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's One Day Run

December 31st marks not only the last day of the year, it marks the start of the New Year's One Day 24-hour run in San Francisco. This year's racers began their ultramarathon at 9a.m. on December 31st, 2010, and finish their run at 9a.m. on January, 1, 2011 -- and I may or may not have detoured my regularly scheduled run to cheer on these superathletes. I cannot in my wildest dreams even begin to think about running for an entire day. I love running, but I also love eating and sleeping and sitting.

Admittedly, the first person I had my eyes peeled for was ultrarunning's favorite dirt diva, Catra Corbett. Catra's posts on Facebook told me that she was going to be in my neck of the woods, and given the small field for the 24-hour race (and the fact they were running 1.06-mile laps around Chrissy Field Lagoon), I figured I'd have a great shot of seeing her. Not only did I see, her I got to talk a bit with her while she refueled at an aid station.

A and Catra!
Catra even invited me to return later this evening to run a few laps with her! As the sun goes down, she said that's she wants the most company -- I can't blame her! My scheduled NYE plans may have to take a break until next year ... I am not sure I can pass up running with Catra during the first minute of 2011!

I also spotted Andy Kumeda, who happened to be "winning" the last time I checked the runner's updates. I was amazed at Andy's pace. This guy was speedy, and he was looking very strong after he hit his 26th lap. It wasn't even noon when I saw him; he had 1 marathon under his belt and still 4 (or so) more marathons to go.

Andy Kumeda leading the way.
Not a bad view for 24 hours.
Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you have an eventful but safe evening, and a happy and healthy 2011. :)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Race Recap: Christmas Classic Miracle Mile

After reflecting on my blog posts from this year, I somehow realized 2010 was a good running year for me.
  • 2010 was the year I was picked up as a Brooks ID member and became a Marathon Maniac.
  • It was the year I went through 3 pairs of running shoes, wear tested 4 pairs of road and trail shoes for Brooks, and ran/raced more than 1,700 miles in a couple different states and on varying terrains in said shoes.
  • 2010 was the year I PR'd in the 5k, 10k, and half marathon. It was the year I ran my first 7k, 5-mile trail race, and marathon.
As I looked back on my 2010 races and onto holiday race options, I noticed I was missing a key distance on my running resume: No where have I actually logged how quickly (or slowly, depending on which day you ask me) I'm able to race a single mile.

One mile. The distance by which I split every single leisurely run and race down to. The basic building block of my all-time favorite hobby. Sure, I can tell you what my fastest mile split is during any distance I've raced, but I cannot tell you how quickly I'm able to run a single mile alone.

So as I prepare to leave 2010 in the dust, I stuffed one more PR under my belt and tacked on another new distance to my resume. Today I ran the Christmas Classic Miracle Mile and completed my 2010 race schedule with a smile -- and a prize!
Like most shorter races out there, this race was a fundraiser -- this time for a local women's shelter. It had no timing chips, no photographers, no National Anthem, nor a starting gun. It was people writing checks to a heartwarming homeless shelter, spreading a little holiday cheer, and running through Golden Gate Park on this rainy morning.

I lined up toward the front of the pack hoping I wouldn't get tangled in the mess of people who run 4-minute miles, but also not stumbling over those who walk 20-minute miles. Unlike most races where we establish ourselves in the pack within the first mile, I had no time to figure this out. I decided to err on the side of caution and move ahead, allowing plenty of space around me for people to pass. The announcer honked his car horn as the signal to start, all hell broke loose, and before I knew it, I pretty much saw the finish line a few strides after starting. What a nice feeling. :)

Waiting for the start.
Obviously this is the shortest race I've ever done, and all I have to say is ... that mile was probably the most taxing on my legs! I started off in a sprint and felt my right quad strain right away. I pulled it back a little bit, but tried to lengthen my stride to cover more ground. When I saw we had .25 to go, I picked it back up to a sprint again. Done and done! My time was even good for a third-place finish in my age group! I ended up getting a commemorative winner card and a gift certificate to See's Candies.

The winna! Kind of.
While waiting around for awards, the nicest little lady come up to me and asked me how I did. She was also curious if I run more races in the area. I told her what little I knew of the races in San Francisco and a bit about my running background. While reiterating the same questions to her, I learned she just started racing a year ago and has already completed her first marathon -- which, of course, she didn't really train for -- and she finished in under 5 hours! She finished this 1-mile race about 20 seconds behind me (getting 2nd in her age group!), and then went on to double up and run the 5k race that happened afterward. This little lady has a bright running future ahead of her!

She and her dad also run a lot of the DSE races in San Francisco and she asked if I'd ever want to run any of them with her -- of course I had to agree.

And a very happy birthday to my new running buddy, as she turns 15 tomorrow!
1-mile split: 6:22.07 -- an automatic PR ;)
Air Temp: 57F, rainy

Average Pace: 6:22 (9.52 mph)
Overall Place: 39 out of 79
Age/Gender Place: 3 out of 8

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

On, Wisconsin!

I had an awesome Thanksgiving back in San Francisco (setting 2 PRs within 3 days and having a huge boost to my confidence that I'm running decently on the hills out here), and I just returned from spending the last 10 days at my parents' house in Wisconsin for a belated Thanksgiving/early Christmas with my family. I had a very cupcake-themed holiday celebration and I actually enjoyed nearly every minute of it.

First, I made these little beauts for the fam-damily (completely vegan and totally amazing)...
Then Ron sent me a nice little image of cupcakes he found, with a note that they reminded him of me! I definitely don't mind being associated with these sweet treats...
And then Rad Runner went on to host an amazing one-of-a-kind giveaway that involves this gorgeous little running machine. Go check out her friend's work for other beautiful figurines!
Could this holiday have been any sweeter?


I recently started a speed-training program for the next race I'm running, so I got to spend plenty of my vacation time running in a frigid storm... the same storm that took down the Metrodome's roof and left my brothers and me shoveling 20" inches of snow from my parents' driveway.

While I did get to do a few slow and steady outdoor runs on packed snow and thick ice...
I spent most of my time running in my friend's workout room at her apartment...
On the treadmill at my dad's middle school...
And in the weightroom of the building I used to work in. Now that's what I call a vacation!

So what race am I training for?

During my recent Nuun giveaway, the Giveaway Gods smiled down on me and I won runner's rambles' 13.1 Marathon - Los Angeles giveaway. I debated even entering since it's not in my backyard (and I never win anything) but I still entered, and crazily, I won.

Soooo, ladies and gentlemen, on January 16th, 2011, I'm registered to run this fun race...
I'll be staying with this fun girl (who is also running it!)...
And this fun guy and I are going to have our fastest half marathon yet! Or, our first half marathon yet, since he seems to think I ditched him at the U.S Half Marathon even though he's the one who started in front of me. ;)
Moral of the story: I'm really looking forward to a speedy run in Los Angeles in a few weeks, and an even funner party extravaganza weekend with my cupcake-loving runner friends.

Happy holidays!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Race Recap: Run Wild For a Child 10k (2010)

Yeah, yeah... My 5-mile race on Thursday got the best of me over the long weekend. In between double helpings of mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy, I somehow talked myself into believing that I'd be able to run a sub-50-minute 10k based on that trail race alone. I thought I found a good race (ok, so it was just a "close to home" race) to try this goal on. And I knew I was plenty carbo-loaded.

I wasn't sure if I'd have a fast race due to lingering muscle pain from XC racing a couple days before + an 8-mile post-feast run, but at least there was to be one huge redeeming factor: This race promised more people in costumes.
Run Wild For a Child is a fundraising race held every Thanksgiving weekend in Golden Gate Park. Registrants are asked to bring a toy (or a donation), which is then given to the San Francisco Firefighters Toy Program. The toys are not only given to children in need during the holidays, they are also given throughout the year to shelters for abused women and children, inner-city schools, children's cancer wards, pediatric AIDS units, and to families who have lost their homes to fires, floods, or other disasters. I may not be the biggest fan of children, but I'm a big fan of things that are nice. This charity is very nice, and I knew that even if I didn't run well, I was supporting a great cause.

In light of the recent turkey-themed race I did on Thursday, this race also had a theme: TOYS! Participants were encouraged to dress up as their favorite toy and take part in the parade/judging afterward. Since I decided on doing this race the morning of, I didn't have time to scrape together a costume. I did have time to enjoy all the costumes around me, though.

Mile 1 (7:41):
It was chilly this morning while we were waiting for the race to start, and it certainly didn't help that we were waiting in the shadows of the de Young museum tower. I've never seen anything like this before, but an instructor actually led a warm-up to keep us all moving. The warm-up involved jogging in place, light stretching, and a whole lot of energy. I've never seen a group so big doing synchronized movements before a race. There were pace times posted near the start so people could line up in an appropriate order. I moved up to the 8 minute/mile group and took off with others in a similar bracket.

Some joker spacing out during the warm-up.

Mile 2 (7:37):
At mile 2 the 5k racers split off and this helped keep the road free. I was impressed at how well this race was set up so people knew where to start, where to go, and how open the roads were. I had no problem picking a few people to draft and hope that they'd pace me to the halfway point. I also had very little issues focusing on running some decent tangents.

Strawberry Shortcake looking a little lost.

Mile 3 (7:39):
During this mile, I was able to watch the last of the 5kers making their first loop around the Panhandle. It was there that I got to cheer on the best costumes I saw all morning: a family of bubbles! They were the last people running the 5k course, but for good reason. Not only is 3.1 miles a lot for two tiny children, it's a lot for anyone who's in a bubble! I even got to watch one of the little ones take a tumble -- it was only adorable because he laughed as he couldn't stand back up.

Cutest costumes ever!

Mile 4 (8:01):
This mile felt like a long, gradual uphill back into Golden Gate Park. As I learned from doing a lot of smaller (and larger) less-manned races, I brought my own water bottle so I wouldn't have to fight with the crowds at the one and only water stop. I was really glad to do have done this again.

My brother used to kick my ass at the Sorry! board game when we were growing up, so it was a fun trip down memory lane to see these pieces out on the course! Not sure what the dancing monkey with cymbals had to do with the game though.

Mile 5 (7:36):
This mile included the sharp-grade hill leading to Stow Lake and, frankly, I'm surprised it was my fastest mile. As soon as I got to the top of the hill, I ran to the side of the course and gagged. Nothing came up, so I continued to run. Then I gagged again. And again. I kept running, gagging two more times while in motion. Figuring that this was merely a reflex for "sprinting" up a long hill, I didn't get scared about losing my breakfast and booked it on the downhill. I have now deemed gagging as a "turbo power" and I will no longer be scared of puking during races.

Gingerbread Man, Ms. Pac-Man, and Inky

Mile 6 (8:03):
After a steep downhill from Stow Lake, there was only one more long climb up Lincoln Blvd. in Golden Gate Park before we could consider the hilliest parts of the race over. Convenient, since where the hills ended, the race ended.

G.I. Jooooeeeee
Mile .3 (2:00):
I heard the announcer shouting finishers names from around the corner and tried my hardest to sprint to the finish line. This was a challenge as we ended on an uphill through the tiniest finishers chute ever into the Music Concourse. I knew I was going to break my PR by more than a couple minutes, and I was ecstatic about that.

Pippy Longstocking dancing to some post-race music.
Am I seeing double?!
6.3-mile splits (48:42) -- a 2:06 PR!
1: 7:41
2: 7:37
3: 7:39
4: 8:01
5: 7:36
6: 8:03
.3: 2:00
Air Temp: 48F

Average Pace: 7:44 min/mile (7.7 mph)
Overall Place: 112 out of 619
Gender Place: 18 out of 320
Age/Gender Place: 6 out of 67

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Race Recap: Turkey Trail Trot 5-Miler

A while ago I decided I wasn't going to pay for shorter distance races. Obviously I've failed at this because I've still signed up for 5ks when they are for good causes, when people ask me to run with them, and when they are cheap. Apparently I have another exception to this rule: I'll pay for short-distance races when it's a distance I haven't raced before. (I'll also apparently pay for races when my friends leave town for the holiday and I have nothing better to do.)

This morning I trotted over to the Polo Fields in Golden Gate Park to run my first ever trail race: the Turkey Trail Trot 5-mile cross-country run.
I've done a few Thanksgiving Day runs in the past and I find them to be hilarious -- there's something about people running in drumstick costumes that will forever entertain me. Then put us all on a 5-mile path of loose gravel, wet grass, thin dirt trails, and lots of mud puddles, and you couldn't pay me enough to watch pilgrims and Indians slipping and sliding down the slopes.

They don't know what they're about to get into.
Go ahead and make fun of me for losing my Minnesota blood already, but it has been cold in San Francisco lately. (We don't need to talk about running in ice and snow; I'll be doing that over Christmas soon enough...) While it was sunny and perfectly clear all week, the winds have whipped, the temperatures have dropped, and the cold ocean air has soaked into my bones. I was shaking as I waited for the start.

A penguin also waiting around for the start.
I have done a fair amount of dirt trail running at the Lands End and Coastal trails, but I've never done a cross-country race through meadows. I figured 5 miles would be a good distance to warm myself up to this new world of running, especially since the race mostly looked flat. Hooooly cow, was I wrong in guessing that it would be easy! The fields were slick with frosty dew, the trails were packed with thawing mud, and my legs felt like cranberry jello within the first two miles. All of you cross-country runners out there: I salute you. This terrain was very difficult in lightweight running shoes.

The march of the turkeys -- moving from the benches to the starting line.

Mile 1 (8:16):
As usual, I pushed my way to the front of the crowd while we waited for the starting gun. I tried to keep up with the front runners once we were off, but there were so many random puddles along the track that people were hopping and skipping all over the place. (Totally fine -- I do it, too -- but I at least try to make sure I'm not jumping right in front of someone.) I think I clipped more than a couple shoes, and the sheer number of people finding their spot in the pack made for a slower mile for me.

Silly turkey hats

Mile 2 (7:55):
I don't remember this mile at all. I remember thinking like we should have been at mile 4 -- I felt that spent so early on -- when my Garmin chirped at mile 2. Running on Lindley Meadow's slippery grass was probably the hardest part of this course.

Sillier turkey hats

Mile 3 (8:14):
This mile had a few hills. While hills slow me down, they also make me feel more competitive for some reason. I'm able to gain a lot of ground (and "chick" a lot of runners) on uphills without sacrificing too much time. I also had one slip-up on this mile: I rolled my ankle. I don't know if it was the uneven terrain or the fact that I overpronate on a weak left ankle from a previous injury, but I rolled it, wobbled, and almost took a tumble. My ankle had a dull throb the rest of the race.

Silliest turkey hat. And body.
Mile 4 (8:06):
My leg muscles were feeling really unsteady and weak as we made our way through the frozen Lindley Meadow a second time -- not running on solid surface was taking a lot out of me! Road running: I miss you! During this mile I also learned why cross-country runners have spikes on their shoes. I'm surprised I didn't see any spills (or why I didn't personally take myself out) on this mile of the course.

Wrong animal, dude.
Mile 5 (7:39):
The only reason this mile was my fastest was because we were back on the flat track and I was well ahead of a lot of runners, so I didn't have to do much weaving. I recently started running to progressive house music that is mixed specifically for runners based on foot turnover rate/beats per minute, and for this race I was listening to tempo music slightly above my comfort zone. I lengthened my stride on the track and still kept with the faster beat. It ended up working out well for me. Now, if I can learn to do that all the time...

Wrong holiday, dudette.
Overall, the Turkey Trail Trot was a really fun race. They had prizes for the top three finishers in each division and I was amazed at how many people stuck around to watch the awards ceremony -- then I learned that they also do a raffle! The race was well-organized, the energy was contagious, the costumes were funny, they had a ton of post-race goodies, and if I'm around for the race next year, I would gladly do it again.

Waiting around for the awards/raffle. That teeny tiny lady in bright orange collecting her prize was the 1st-place female finisher. Who was she? Oh, none other than Magdalene Lewy-Boulet, 2008 Olympic marathoner. Of course she won this little race. She got a friggin' 2:26 at Rotterdam.
All day I've been thinking about the fact that I could maybe, MAYBE, break the 50-minute mark in the 10k (my current PR is 50:48) after seeing my results for this race. So who knows -- perhaps I'll be paying for another short distance race in the near future. ;)

Terrific Turkey Trail Trot t-shirt
Happy Thanksgiving!

5-mile splits (39:34) -- gotta love automatic PRs
1: 8:16
2: 7:55
3: 8:14
4: 8:06
5: 7:39
Air Temp: 45F

Average Pace: 7:55 min/mile (7.6 mph)
Overall Place: 127 out of 824
Age/Gender Place: 12 out of 176

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Nuun Giveaway Winner!

Thank you all for your comments on why you should win not one, not two, but THREE tubes of delicious, delicious Nuun! I wish I could make you all winners (well, you ARE all winners, but you know what I mean), but alas, I have to pick one.
I enjoyed reading all your responses! My favorites included:

Jen from Pretend this is real, who tied in many reasons why running hungover is no fun and Nuun could help her stay hydrated. I love how you embrace the New Orleans culture and still have an awesome running life!

Pam from Thirty Schmirty, who cracked me up with her "Why should I win? I am cheap and this is free" -- that IS a good reason to win, and I have the same mindset. I love free stuff!

Tortuga_Runner from Tales of an Ambitious Slacker, who wins extra cool-kid points for admitting that she runs with a fanny pack. Awesome! ;)

And the winner is . . .

Just like I'm not giving away only one tube of Nuun, Julie didn't give me only one reason why she should win Nuun. I shook my head at the thought of her catching sleet in her mouth to hydrate during the winter months (can't say I miss that), and she wins four stars simply for the fact that she hydrates her bike rides to school with hot chocolate. Now that's talent!

I didn't even think about trying the cola-flavored Nuun for the reason she gave me -- becoming addicted to a cola that actually hydrates!? I might need to try now! -- and I really hope I can hear her personally say "Nuun of your business" when I ask what she's drinking while she kicks ass at Grandma's Marathon next summer. :)

Julie, please send your info to diaryofanaveragerunner [at] gmail [dot] com and I'll get these in the mail to you so you can start hydrating right away. Best of luck in your training this winter, and please stay injury free!

Thank you all for reading, and I hope you have a great Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Totally Rad Get-Together

Even though this wasn't my motivation (or even something I thought would happen as a result), one of the coolest things about having a blog is all the awesome blogger/runners I have met. I've heard other runners saying how blogging provides them with a close knit pen-pal kind of relationship with fellow runners. I get what they are talking about.

I feel like I know a lot of blogger/runners virtually, but I have been lucky enough to meet a few in person to exchange stories and run some races. Last night I got to meet one of my other favorite bloggers, Erica "Rad Runner", who recently kicked ass at her very first marathon, while she made a quick few-day getaway into San Francisco for the weekend. Instead of exchanging stories, we exchanged cupcakes and beer. It was a good night.

My god, I want that cupcake and candy tattoo she's sporting.
Be sure to check out Rad's blog for a super awesome giveaway (but don't enter because I want to win) ... and then leave a comment on my giveaway to win yourself some tasty Nuun! Only a few are in the running -- your chances are really good!

To leave you with a less-than-inspiring picture for your upcoming weekends, the U.S. Half Marathon photos were posted yesterday. Let's just say my life was better off having not seen them. However, I have no shame after I kicked ass at this race, so here's me in the final stretch.

Okay, so the real reason I'm posting this is because I finally have a picture with BOTH FEET IN THE AIR!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Let's Have Ourselves a Giveaway!

Alright, folks. I do believe it's about time for an Average A Giveaway!

I'm giving away a product I've come to swear by ... NUUN!*

I started drinking Nuun early this year for one completely silly reason: I'm a sucker when it comes to artificial banana flavoring.


I love banana Runts, banana Laffy Taffy, banana Dum-Dums, even regular old bananas (but they aren't as good as banana-flavored things).

One day when I was at a local running store re-stocking my Sports Beans supply, I ran across BananaNuun and immediately threw it in my basket without a second thought. I had heard of people using Nuun during training and racing, but didn't know much else about it other than it came in a flavor that appealed to me. I quickly learned that it's a sugar-free electrolyte tab that dissolves in your water bottle, much like some of those old-fogey denture-cleaning products. Only unlike those denture-cleaning products, this product is good for your body and not your fake teeth. There's a ton of science behind Nuun, and instead of pretending like I understand chemistry, I'll let you read for yourself here.

Drinking Nuun at first was weird. It's more carbonated than water, but less fizzy than soda. It was a strange feeling to drink bubbles while running, but the artificial banana flavor quickly made up for any awkwardness and I never had any upset-stomach issues from the fizz. I then ventured on to trying other flavors that reminded me of sports drinks (berry flavors, lemon-lime flavors -- I haven't yet braved my way into the cola, ginger, or chai world, but maybe someday). Before long, I realized that this product was actually helping me during my marathon training.

Not only was I staying better hydrated, I was watching how much I was hydrating because it was hard for me to chug the product. With water, I'd easily drink way too much and then I'd have side stitches/sloshy stomach syndrome. It wasn't as easy to chug something mildly fizzy. And then there's that whole sometimes-you-need-more-than-water-when-your-body-starts-eating-away-at-itself thing. Nuun ended up becoming my trusty companion on my training runs, right there beside my Garmin.

AAAAND, if I haven't already written too much that you didn't even want to read in the first place, Nuun is easy to carry so there is seriously no excuse to not be hydrated. A tube of Nuun fits easily into my iFitness belt (although I prefer to just bring a few tabs with me), and one tube makes 12 water bottles worth of active hydration. Public water fountains just became a whole lot tastier.

So what's the giveaway already!?!!
My giveaway will include one tube of my all-time favorite BananaNuun (I can't believe I'm surrendering this), one tube of tasty Tri-Berry Nuun (which I drank during my PR at the U.S. Half Marathon last weekend), and one tube of Citrus Fruit Nuun (which I also promise is delicious). That's THREE tubes of Nuun! 36 bottles of hydration! *However many that equals* gallons of tastiness! Who will be the lucky person?

Yes, there are rules. They are simple.
  • Part I: Leave me a comment about how you hydrate during your workouts -- running, biking, weight lifting, kayaking, rock climbing, flyfishing, boogie boarding, cartwheeling, etc. I'm interesting in hearing the hydration method(s) that work best for your activities.
  • Part II: You better tell me why you want to use (or currently use and deserve more) Nuun. Creativity counts!
You don't need to follow my blog, although it is nice. You don't need to like anything on Facebook or stalk anything on Twitter since I don't care. Just leave me a comment about how you hydrate/what you use during working out and why you want this delicious product.

The winner will be chosen randomly based on my discretion, and I may or may not favor someone who can beat the "I stumbled across this piece of heaven because of a fake banana obsession" story. I'll announce the winner two weeks from today (Tuesday, November 23, 2010).

Good luck!

*I'm not being sponsored, promoted, or bribed by Nuun in any way -- I just really love this stuff and want to share the happiness. Bottles up!