Monday, December 30, 2013

Holiday Half Recap ie A lesson in humility

It's been a long time.  I've been delaying writing up the story of the Holiday Half because honestly, I'm still recovering.  I am also an idiot.

Have you ever run yourself so far into the ground that you're still paying for it two weeks later?  Because that's what happened to me!

I'm going to start at the beginning of the week:  Training was going great!  For the past three weeks or so, I'd been running workouts I'd only dreamed of running in the past.  I was unstoppable!  At least for me!  Feeling awesome!  Watch out Lauren Fleshman!

But I was coming down with a cold that I'd been fighting off for a couple weeks.  I feel like colds are like playing the lottery.  Sometimes if you ignore it and go on with life as usual, you're fine, and sometimes you hit the sickness jackpot.

I decided to play the lottery.  On Tuesday I had the best tempo run of my life probably with 10 miles at 7:17 pace (it's killing me to write that right now).  I was working like crazy because I work in ecommerce and the couple weeks before the holidays are always nuts.  I also flew to Vegas and back in one day on Wednesday to give a talk...and oh boyfriend was also moving to Nor Cal that weekend so we were trying to hang out as much as possible before he took off.   I was kind of dying.

I wasn't sure if the Holiday Half was going to be a training effort or a race effort but training had been going so well, I thought that I'd be missing an opportunity to not try.  So Thursday I ran 4 miles at GHMP (7:10) to prepare for Sunday.  It felt ominously not as easy as I was hoping.

After saying goodbye to ~R~ on Friday and dosing up on meds, I decided to continue playing it by ear and see how I felt on race morning.

Cue the ominous music....

On Sunday morning, I woke up and met Monica and Heather in some random parking lot in Orange County.  We drove up to Pomona and parked.  Heather was going for a double PR weekend so that was cool.  After running a couple minutes to warm up, I thought "fuck it...I'm going to try to race this thing.  I feel terrible, but I am awesome and maybe luck will be on my side! I am AWESOME".

The gun went off and my hubris lasted about 2 miles.  My first mile was 7 flat and my second was around 7:15 or so.  I was already feeling like I was working and as we all know....feeling like you're working hard 2 miles into a 13 mile race is no bueno.

So I thought..."You know what?  I'll slow it up and wait for the 1:40 pacer...that'll be a good workout for me...just an easy tempo really!  Yeah!  1:40 will be EASY.".

I am somehow giving my friend the stink eye in this picture and that's too awesome not to post.
Famous last words.  I waited up for the 1:40 pacer and joined his group.  Like a total asshole, I started chatting cheerily with him, acting like 7:38 pace after a week from hell is like a walk in the park for me. That lasted until about....mile 10.

(PS: I did meet along the way an incredibly inspiring woman who was going for her "first sub 1:40 post cancer."  Damn....I am pretty sure she made her goal too!)
With my last three miles to go, I WAS DYING.  My feelings that I could pull off an easy PR, or even tempo at this race were gone like a cookie around Cookie Monster.  I was just trying to survive at this point.  It was hot and sunny and the 1:40 pacer was getting harder and harder to keep up with.  On top of this, I started cursing myself for being so cocky.  The self-hatred, beads of sweat running down my face and the sticky Gatorade I'd thrown on myself to try to keep cooler were almost too much to take.

After being passed by the pacer, I finally ran it in.  1:40:13 was my final time.

I ran a few cooldown miles because I obviously wanted more punishment and drove my friends home.

Here's the thing though:
1) The Holiday Half is actually a lovely race.  Sure, it was hot, but it's well run and has a pretty course.

2) I have no idea why, after the week that I had, I was thinking I could go for a PR.  But that's the thing about running.  I am sure that someone out there (probably on LetsRun) has some story where they had a bad week at work, personally, and physically, and still banged out a PR.  So I can't entirely blame myself for trying in those first two miles.  #dreambigright?  #orsomething

3)  What the hell did I do to myself?  Two weeks later and I still am low-grade sick and haven't been able to run more than a mile or two below 8 minutes.  I am not sure whether this is going to make Carlsbad a bust or not.

4)  Yes...yes...I learned a least for now.  

But it's more a life lesson that I need to keep learning:  The moment you are feeling too comfortable about something is the moment something's gonna go wrong.  Here's to never getting too comfortable.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Carlsbad Update (What's different this time)

I'm training for the Carlsbad marathon and I'm really trying to do all the right things this time!   I've made so many mistakes in previous marathon training cycles, and a lot of it just has to do with insufficient training.  So here's what I've been changing this time.

1) Long Tempos
Every Tuesday, I've been running a tempo run in training for Carlsbad.   And speedwork on Thursdays, and a sort of long run on Saturdays.  (I like to get my long runs out of the way Saturday mornings so I can booze / bad food it up on Saturday nights without regret).

I'm loosely following the Hanson's training plan and it calls for weekly tempos that get up to 10 miles.  So far, I've been upping the mileage one more mile every two weeks.  I started at 6, and now I'm at the deathly mileage of 9.  Frankly, I didn't think it was physically possible for me to run this far in a tempo before work.  But here I am!

The fact that they've been going pretty well gives me hope.   Hope that I'm not completely done improving as a runner.  It kind of stands to reason that these weekly long tempo runs would help.  You know....given that I've always been too lazy to do them in the past.  Here's what they've looked like:


Basically it's been going pretty well.  I think the best tempo was last week where I ran 8 miles at 7:10 pace and knocked out a 6:53 mile or something at the end.  This week's 9 mile tempo was much harder and at a slightly slower pace - 7:15.  Maybe going from 8 to 9 miles is harder than I thought, or maybe I should eat something besides fried eggs and Brussels sprouts the night before.  No I'm not on some crazy diet, I was just feeling lazy on dinner last night and that's probably not optimal for an early morning long tempo.  

Regardless, I'm really pumped at how this was going!  My plan was to get these runs up to 12 miles and that sounds impossible at this point.  We'll see though!  

2) SMILE!  Alexi Pappas (or is it Jordan Hasay?) said in some article that every time she races she tries to smile at least once.  I've been trying to do that too!   And trying to feel thankful for each run.  I know it sounds lame but it's true.  Each time I do a hard run, I've been trying to smile, at least once.  The crossing guard by the school that I run around has fallen victim to my smiling and waving each time I run around the school.  She probably thinks I'm insane.  

3) Stability:  Ok fine, this is something I can't really control, but I think it's really hard to train for anything when your life is unstable.  And if you know me pretty well, you know that I struggle a lot with major mood swings.  Right now, things are pretty good for me.  I can schedule my long runs with certainty, and generally feel pretty good when I wake up in the morning.  Sure, there are times when I wake up and feel like I want to punch myself in the face and am not ready to face the day, but for the most part, I am excited to get up and run.  And that feels good. 

So there you have it.  Hopefully these things will help me to get to Carslbad as prepared as I can be to knock out a PR!  Or at least not get killed by the hills.  

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Facebook deactivation. The Gang is Back together!

We're back!!!

(I know my last name isn't a secret but for professional reasons I try to keep it off the blog.  I dunno?)
Basically, Kristina and SarahOual doing Carlsbad too!  Sarah is doing the half (marathon haters anon) and Kristina is doing the full.  I am way excited to not be the only crazy person on board for a little mid-January fun in San Diego.

Kristina is the fastest person that you'd never know she was fast until you stalked her times on the internet, btw.  Like a secret agent?

My training is going just fine.  I finished last week with about 46 miles done which was funny because it felt like about 100 relative to my super low mileage weeks lately.  I did a successful "longish" tempo on Tuesday with 7 miles at about 7:25 pace.  Started at 7:38 and ended at 7:12 with more laps around the elementary school.  It's great because there are no stoplights.  The cross guards who stand there and see me run around the school 15 times must think I am truly insane.

It looks kind of like this. 

Facebook Experiment

Are you on Facebook?  I'm guessing there's a 99.9% chance the answer is yes because isn't everyone these days?

I decided a couple weeks ago to deactivate my account (you can't delete it, apparently that's nearly impossible) in an effort to have more free time / real interactions with people.  It was kind of embarrassing the amount of times I realized I was signing in every day.  I am not allowed to go back on it for one more week and am kind of unsure if I will stay off it. Here are the emotional stages of grieving I've gone through so far.

1) Internet Twitches: For the first couple days, I kept accidentally going to the site to sign in and realizing I couldn't.  It was like those people who took Ambien and started eating in their sleep.  I was probably trying to sign in in my sleep as well.

2) Posting Withdrawal:  Something hilarious just happened to me!  Was it still funny if I can't exaggerate it and post it on Facebook for all to see and laugh at and hit the like button?

3)  Stalking Stalking:  Ok fine.  This one has been the hardest.  There are a few people on facebook who I LOVE to stalk.  Not really for any reason beyond the fact that I got into the habit of stalking them and now I feel like I know all of their friends who I've never met too.  I have a problem.

4) Relief:  I am positive that people in our generation have been subjected to seeing more birthday parties, motivational phrases, Nike+ runs of 3.0919 miles, engagement rings, and drunken duck faces than all other generations since the beginning of time.  It is a relief to not see that anymore.   

5) Out of Contact:  This is the only part that I kind of regret about being off the site.  There are some people I actually like to keep up with for totally normal reasons.  I'm sure I'm also missing birthdays.  Maybe I'll use a calendar like a normal person?

6) Connected to EVERYTHING:  I can't us my Spotify account any more!  Everything is connected to facebook!!!! Ahhhhhh!

6)  Smug Confusion:  After about two weeks off Facebook, it's safe to say I don't really miss it anymore.  And I love the idea of smugly telling people this.   But it's probably safe to say that eventually it's sweet siren song will lure me back and I'll be back to reading about babies, birthdays, and Aunt Mildred's crazy political views.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

How liking fall and running tempos are alike

Unlike what appears to be the entire rest of the internets, I've never really liked fall.  Changing leaves, crisp temperatures, sure (although truth be told both of those are questionable in both Houston and Southern California; the places I've spent my adult life).

But come on guys.  You know what's coming after those pretty red leaves...darker and darker days.  Soon enough, you're coming home from work and waking up and it's pitch black both times.  The holidays roll around and even if you love the holidays, it can't be denied that it's another awkward few days full of plane travel and awkward conversation.  And then it's January.  JANUARY.  It's dark and cold and you've hit rock bottom in the processional of seasons.

Am I being overly dramatic?  Absolutely, but this sort of how my brain works.  It's always been terribly hard for me to turn my brain off and enjoy the moment.   The "what's next", "you're messing that up", "how will that be in 10 miles or in 10 days" is a constant dialogue and I'm positive that spending so much time this way will be my biggest regret when I'm 80.

Fall is beautiful, just because it is, not because what's coming next.

Which brings me to my beautiful segue into running!  And tempos.  And marathoning.

I haven't signed up for Carlsbad yet, but I have started training for it (as of today) so I think it's a pretty sure thing.  I've flipped through the Hansons book and got a recommendation of Brad Hudson's book as well for a marathon plan.  (Please let me know what has worked for you).

At the same time though, I feel like it's not about WHICH plan I do, it's about actually training correctly for a marathon.  Which includes stuff like doing long marathon pace tempos - something I have never been able to make myself do.  Which is uh....probably why my marathon PR (3:32) is much slower relatively than other distances I've run.   It's kind of a no brainer.

The Hanson's plan has you starting with some 6 mile marathon pace tempos near the start of the plan so I did one of those today.  It was shockingly successful (well...I went too fast if I'm going to say my marathon goal pace is 3:25ish, but I didn't feel like I'm pushing too hard. I'm not going to beat myself up over that.  I'm sure I'll slow it up when these things get up to 10 miles).  The main success was that I actually completed the damn thing without straining, stopping, or hating myself.   It was almost kind of fun!  10 laps around an elementary school / park, and I didn't even run into any 2 year olds.

7:46, 7:36, 7:26, 7:32, 7:28: 7:19.

I almost feel like one of those real running bloggers posting those splits.  You know, the ones that run long tempos and post pics of their garmins and inspire people and shit? day :).

(No, I did not complete this run before 4 AM.  I roll up at work at like 9:45 AM so....)

Anyways, I guess the point of this post is that sitting back and enjoying the moment is key.  Whether it's being 1 mile into a tempo run, 1 week into a marathon training plan, or just enjoying October.  Trying to avoid worrying about what will happen later or what's happening next month is a good way for me to be a happier person and be ultimately more successful as well.

Now help me remember that the next time I'm freaking out.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Hey Hey, I'm Still Alive.

Hi there. 

I'm not sure if anyone still reads this blog but if you do HEY!  Sorry for the lack of updates! 

The reason I haven't updated in a while is that every time I thought about writing something I'd either think:
A) I stare at a computer all day.  The last thing I want to do is spend more time at one.
B)  I care about this issue and I'd like to write about it, but don't know anything about it and would need to research.   Sound like a lot of work.  Hmmm...say, I wonder if there's any cake left in the fridge? 
C) I wonder if there's any cake left in the fridge? 

So. Yeah.

Lately, I've been wondering what to do with my running.  For most of the summer (after the Mountains to Beach half marathon), I pretty much spent my days pretending I was 5k training.  I did speed workouts - mostly on the treadmill - and maybe a 10 miler on the weekends.  I did this because it appeals to my general laziness.  Also, it's hard to do a long run when you stayed up the night before until 4 AM drinking wine or something. 

As you may know, I have trouble living the monastic existence that is required of many successful distance runners and after my breakup / move in May and June I was in full on party mode for a bit! 

Now I'm a little more settled in and more happy and less angry.  (And spending less of my time signing people  who suck up for visits / mailers from The Church of Scientology / SPAM about cats.  I also started dating someone new if you were wondering, and I'm incredibly excited about it.  Cross your fingers!! )

I've started wondering if it's indeed time to find a running goal.  The cooler fall temperatures have even had me craving distance runs.  (Although not Pumpkin Spice Lattes, seriously guys, what is with the obsession with Pumpkin?  There's a reason it's not popular year-round. )

So I started looking at winter marathons.  And marathon training plans.  The obvious choice if I ran a winter marathon would be Carlsbad.  It's relatively close and has a good reputation.  It's not the easiest course in the world, but hills make the world go 'round, right?  Another choice would be Austin, but that's in late February which starts bleeding into the inevitable tortuous wedding season where I get to spend my money on kitchen appliances for other people that I will never have myself. 

One marathon plan that has been recommended to me many times is the Brooks-Hanson's one.  It never has a run longer than 16 miles, but has a pretty consistent mileage base during the week. 

That left column is the number of weeks no miles
The only thing is...this plan still does not look easy.  Granted this is the Advanced Training plan, so who knows.  I'm probably not advanced. 

All I know is that I need to find a training plan that allows me to stay up late drinking and eating amazing stuff on the weekends, be great at work, and still run a kickass marathon. 

Doesn't exist?  Maybe not, but if it does, mark my words, I'll find it.

If I do end up signing up for Carlsbad, I'll probably bring the blog back because I'll need the support of the running community on here.  If nothing else, taking a break from blogging has made me realize how much of a virtual team the running blog community is.  And that's pretty lovely.  Even if everyone does use too many hashtags on instagram. 


Sunday, September 1, 2013

That time I "try-athloned."

For the past couple years, I've been thinking "yeah I should do a triathlon sometime".

It started with buying a bike a couple years ago.  And then last year, I started going swimming about once a week last summer.

The problem?  Well shockingly, I'm not as good of a biker or swimmer as I am a runner, and doing these things once a week doesn't go that far to making me an expert.  And these sports are a little less efficient than running (at least for me), so it was hard to motivate myself to do them before work, etc.  So I never actually signed up for a triathlon.

Until now.  Well...a "tryathlon".  LOL??

(Basically a race with a lot of first timer triathletes, a short distance, and a swim in a pool).

My friends Heather and Sheila were already signed up and I figured, if there was a time to just jump in and do it, now was it.

Because I've been kind of living life by the seat of my pants lately, I didn't really train at all....basically I've biked about 6 miles in the last three months and swam just a handful of times.  But I figured this would be enough to finish, just not put on a great racing performance.  Which...when you're just trying to have fun and get your feet wet (literally?), I guess it's fine.

Staging area with foot?

The race started with a 5k (billed as three miles and a 5k simultaneously, but the distance was like 3.15 on the garmin so...).    Somewhat hilariously, there were a few super competitive looking girls right at the front at the start of the 5k.  Maybe they forgot there was a "y" in tryathlon this time?  Anyway, we went off on the run and it started on a major downhill.  I tried to run the race as a tempo and not to go out too fast.  Surprisingly, I felt pretty good on the run and started passing people once the run turned back uphill.

I ran into the finish with a time of 20:49 which in retrospect, I am pretty pumped about.  That's not too much slower than when I've all out raced 5ks, and my training has been pretty booze-tastic / lax lately so perhaps this bodes well for some good races this fall?


I took my sweet time transitioning to the bike.  Mainly because I didn't want to screw anything up or fall or forget to put on a helmet or something.  The bike was 9 miles and had two loops.  The beginning of the bike ride was pretty funny because I got promptly passed by the real athletes in the race who know how to bike and stuff.  That said, I tried to give the race a good effort but also yell encouragement to the runners on the course.  And not crash.  That too.

Anyways, I finished the bike course in 32:03 which is nothing to write home about but that's ok!


This was the part I've been the most nervous about!  I mean...I know it was only 200 meters but still!  There was about a 200 meter run into the swimming pool and then I finally jumped into the pool.  I swam four totally confused laps and came out of the pool to finish the tri!


You swim time was 6:24.  Seriously.  Can someone teach me how to swim?


1:04:22.  20th place.

I had so much fun doing this race!  So much fun that maybe I'm going to sign up for a triathlon with a swim that's not in a pool?  Obviously I have a lot of work to put in if I ever want to get serious about three sports, but for right now, I'm ok just having fun with it.  Heather and Sheila also killed the race, btw.

The only final thoughts I have on this race, is that I would definitely recommend them for someone who (like me) wants to try out a triathlon but is kind of intimidated by the whole process.  I didn't drown or crash into anyone, and in my book, that's a win.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Airing of Small Small Grievances

Sometimes I think the world would be much better if I could change stuff.  Not the big world problems (although obviously that would be wonderful).  The little things.  I've got a lot of first world problems, y'all.  And you're going to hear about them.  Here's my list:

1)  The distribution of frosting on Frosted Mini Wheats:  Seriously man.  With the massive options in food production these days, you'd think awful pictures like this would be a thing of the past:

But no.   We are left with some mini wheats that are gloriously full of frosting and others that are barely sweet at all.  Thus, I am forced to eat all of the most frosted wheats first leaving a pathetic little pile of "Almost No Frosting" Mini wheats that no one wants to eat.   Terrible.

2) Packages of Herbs:  You know when you want to cook something nice and the recipe calls for something like "four leaves of fresh Basil"?  And then you go to the store and see this?

Why must we be forced to buy herbs in bulk quantity when ALL YOU NEED IS ONE SPRIG?!?!  And then I'm left with about 60 basil leaves that get bad.

Oh the injustice.

3) People Who Speed Up So You Can't Merge:  You know when you're driving to work and need to get on the highway?  And you start merging on the highway and some jackass behind you accelerates as fast as they can to get on the highway ahead of you causing you to have to slow down?  Congrats, acceleration dude behind me, you just saved yourself .02 of a second.

4) Maid Of Honor Speeches:  I've been to a lot of weddings.  I attribute this to the fact that I lived in Texas at a time when everyone there was getting married (ages 22-26) and now live in California where everyone my age is getting married.  And I'd say that about 2% of the Maid Of Honor speeches are any good.  They usually consist of someone talking about their best friend for 10 seconds and then bursting into tears and saying declarations of love that make no sense.  Hey lady, I know you love your friend because that's why you're the maid of honor.  Now get it together and tell us some funny stories!

5) Gaining Weight During Marathon Training:  This is one of the world's greatest mysteries to me.  How on earth is it possible to run SO many miles and have your pants be tight?  I am convinced that I exists in some weird universe that running more than 10 miles at a time actually makes my hips absorb energy from the atmosphere.

6) Parking Signs In Santa Monica:  Sometimes parking is just parking.  Other times?  It's a freaking logic puzzle.
That's right folks.  No need to study those LSAT books.  If you can figure out whether or not it's legal to park in Santa Monica, you're on your way to a perfect score.

7) The Intersection of Nice and Badass:  I feel like there's a misconception in life that people who are nice can't stand up for themselves.  That they can't be successful.  I would like to put this idea to rest.  You can be nice to everyone AND not a pushover.  And in my perfect world no one confuses niceness with a lack of badass-ness.

8)  Ticketmaster:  Tickets to an awesome show are $35 dollars.  Not bad, right?  But somehow when I buy them they are $48?  How did this happen?   Mysterious ticketmaster fees.  I will never know what actual service is being provided here but I don't like it.

So your turn to be a grumpy cat:  What are the little things that get you?  Are you with me on the mini wheats???