Monday, May 27, 2013

Mountains to Beach Half Marathon Recap

Man...I don't know.  I told myself I was kind of done with this blog unless I had something big to say.


Here's the story.

To preface, the last couple weeks have been hard for me.  Which is, at this point, how I seem to start many of my blog entries.  For whatever reason, unexpected normal but tough life occurrences that many people seem to handle with grace and calmness have the tendency to send me into a tailspin.  And then I can't stop ruminating, lose interest in just about everything external, and end up barely hanging on.

The good news is that not being able to do anything works well with a taper.  

So the day before Mountains To Beach, a half marathon that I actually trained pretty hard for (mostly on the treadmill!), I was laying in bed mid-afternoon, wondering if I should just call it off.  I knew getting up to Ojai and being with friends would make me feel better so I told myself that it was cool to jog it if I wanted, and to just go have a fun girls weekend.  So I dragged myself out and that's what I did.

Turns out the whole area is pretty freaking beautiful. Even though Ventura / Ojai is only an hour North of LA I hadn't had the pleasure of seeing it in a long time.

Totally Stolen Pic but this is what it looks like!
I arrived around 8 PM and my high school track buddy (since 1997!) Kristee had picked up my packet for me and was hanging at the hotel.  Sarah arrived shortly afterwards.  I complained to both of them for about an hour (THANKSFORLISTENING) and then we decided to fall asleep.

Race morning arrived at the time when most college kids are going to bed for the night before:  3:45 AM.  It was rough.  Sarah, Kristee and I went to go pick up Robyn from her hotel and we started hunting for parking at the start.  This hunt may or may not have included going the wrong way on a road, and some strategically moved cones.  No pics, so it didn't happen.

It was a serious looking crowd at the start of the half, with a frighteningly small amount of matching outfits and tutus.  I imagined the scenario where I would finish in last.  

Kristee and I agreed to run together for the first couple miles of the race and then see how we felt.  (We're about the same speed in longer distances although she could kick my butt x1000 in anything shorter than a half marathon.) 

The gun went off, and I fell into a pace right by a couple nice dudes who introduced themselves to me and said they were gunning for a 1:33 or 1:34.  I figured that was a little fast but it would be great to have more people to run with.

Mile 1: 7:25

Just warming up.  I wanted this to be between 7:15 and 7:25 and then gauge from there.

Mile 2: 7:13

Kristee starts telling me that she can't breathe well (allergies).  I worry but we keep going.

Mile 3: 7:13

Just steady, easy.

Mile 4: 7:17

Mile 5: 7:07

Mile 6: 7:09 I am feeling amazing at mile 6.  I start contemplating gigantic PRs.  We pass a water station playing Gangnam Style and I start dancing to it.  The crowd goes wild (ok not wild but they laughed!).

Mile 7: 7:07  Kristee tells me again that she is not feeling good.  I think that she is running pretty darn good for someone who can't breathe!

Mile 8: 7:16  I am starting to feel it.


Mile 10: 7:18 I tell Kristee that it's only 1 mile and then a 5k, but I am really trying to comfort her and myself.

Mile 11: 7:19 I am struggling.  Kristee says "after this turnaround we're mentally there".  I believe her and it helps.

Mile 12: 7:24 I started mentally counting down the distance in track terms.  Just 3 800s at 3:37 pace?  Come on, that's simple.

Mile 13:  7:30 I am obviously slowing down and Kristee looks strong.  She runs ahead while telling me "these people are passable" about the 5 or so people just a few yard ahead.  They must have been dying because I manage to pass them. 

I also start thinking things like "Think about all the things that make you angry.  Yeah!  Screw them!"  It feels good.

Edited in after original post because let's face it, this picture is amazing.
Finish!  I see the 1:34's turn over on the clock as I sprint in and I know I'm not going to make it on the south side of 1:35.  But that's ok, it's still a PR.

Kristee finished in 1:34:55 and I finished in 1:35:05.  
(I believe I was 16th female and 3rd in age group.)

We high five each other and discuss how it would have been so much harder without being able to push each other.

The cherry on top was seeing Oual's smile after she told me she broke 1:40 just a few minutes later and seeing my friends Gisele and Mason PR as well. 


I PR'd by 45 seconds and I am happy with any PR at this point.  (All of my PRs are now at least a year old).  I'm happy to see the work I put into training for this pay off.

So many times when I race, I remember why I run.  And it's a different reason every time.  This time, it was for the relief.  Being able to get out and run with an old friend, forget about everything, and just leave it all on the road is priceless.

And it's probably just a little more priceless when you happen to finish near the beach and see your hard work pay off. 

(Thanks for reading).

Saturday, May 4, 2013


I haven't talked about my own running in quite some time.

This is for a couple reasons:

1)  It's not exactly rocket science on my part.  I have no magical training techniques and I remain quite the hobby jogger.   Hurrah!

2) I was running really poorly over the fall and semi poorly over the winter.  I like to brag as much as the much average Jane and when I run crappy workouts, there's little opportunity to do this.  Dangit!

But I am still running.  And it's going ok.  Here's #proof.

A couple notes.  Yes, that's a text string to OUAL and I still have her in my phone as "Sarah-Soon-To-Be"!  Also, she broke her phone so it's not like she was a jerk to not reply to the upper congratulatory text.  

I digress. The point is that I've actually been training.   I'm planning to run the Mountains to Beach Half Marathon in three weeks and ever since I ran the Lucky Half in Sacramento I've been trying to add extra intensity into my workouts.   I feel like there's potential to PR although no guarantee.   Also, Mountains to Beach has an elevation drop of about 200 feet which is not enough to make it a cheater course (I think?) but enough to make it a damn easy course (I hope).

I've been running a lot of tempo-ish stuff on the treadmill at 1% incline.   I've been pretty consistent about doing two tempo / speed sessions and one fast finish long run on weekends.  I'm still not sure if running fast on the treadmill equals running fast without a giant moving belt under you outside, but hey, it makes it easy to get the workout in and workout > no workout, right?

Here are three workouts I've done that make me think I don't suck:

1) 6- mile tempo "wave" at around 7:04 about two weeks ago.

I don't really know the science behind the wave tempo, and I altered the pace from 7:30 to 6:40 throughout this run.  All I know is that altering the pace every 800 meters keeps me from going insane or quitting.

2) 3 @ 6:54 pace, 1.5 @ 6:43 pace and 1@ 6:35 pace with 2.5 minutes rest between intervals.   

I made this one up as I went along.  I figured, start around threshold pace for a faster-side short tempo, and then run a little faster on tired legs.  I was happy about it because 5 miles of tempo-y intervals around 10k pace can't be a bad thing, right?

3) 9.5 miles easy + 5 miles at 7:15 pace.  

I did this today as some sort of "peak" workout for the half training.  It hurt like hell (see above text).  Honestly it felt harder than it should.  This concerns me.  But I've been traveling a ton lately, eating terribly, and sleeping not-enough so I figured, if I could do this feeling like crap, maybe it's a good sign for how I can run fully rested.

Which brings me to my next question:  How do you prioritize running in your life?   And how do you remain fully functional even if you get up really early, run a really hard workout, etc?

I struggle with this.  I mean it's easy to say "Oh I wake up at 3 AM to run 15 miles and I just make myself do it", but I mean...if I do something like that, I am risking feeling bad for the rest of the day.   I'm risking losing productivity because I need to go back and take a nap or just can't function well.  I'm human and stuff and I am one of those people that needs sleep.

And with other priorities it can be tough to be productive when all you want to do is lay on the floor and foam roll.   I noticed this particularly when I was in Florida for a work conference this week (it was honestly not all THAT stressful, see shark fishing pic below.  It's "team building", y'all!).   But it was time-intensive as are all conferences.

For Example:  Prior to all the shark fishing fun, on the first day of the conference, I got up really early to run before all the festivities got started.  Then I got ready to go to sessions, and I couldn't stay awake at all.  I had to go back to my hotel and take a nap I was so exhausted.   I felt guilty because I knew that my exhaustion was a result of my waking up so early to run (going to bed early was not an option because I arrived in town very late).

The same thing has happened when I've run really hard or long workouts before work.

So how do you prioritize your running and your time when you know it might cut into how you perform other activities during the day?   Rearrange things?  Say "screw running" for the day?  Say "screw doing other important stuff" for the day?   Be extra careful about nutrition (because maybe this is a factor)?

I'm still looking for how to balance things AND be 100% present for other things.   And no, chugging espressos every 10 minutes along with slapping myself in the face to wake up is NOT an option.  Not that I've tried that, of course.