“A person should set his goals as early as he can and devote all his energy and talent to getting there. With enough effort, he may achieve it. Or he may find something that is even more rewarding. But in the end, no matter what the outcome, he will know he has been alive.” - Walt Disney

Monday, December 26, 2011

Naughty or Nice: The Jury's Still Out

Hmmm.  Looking back over the last year of running, I think I can truthfully say that the overall verdict is for the year will be "Nice."  Looking back at the last month or so, however... the jury's still out.

 So, let's take a look:

Nice This Month:

Naughty This Month:
  • I skipped almost all of my mid-week short runs due to illness (really bad cold & nasty cough), or in some cases, just plain laziness;
  • My average pace has gotten slower over the last few months;
  • My overall nutrition and fueling has really fallen off and I'm feeling it;
  • I'm not going to make my goal of running 700 miles this year.

I'm really not sure if those lists balance out - so for now, the jury's still out.  There's just been a lot going on lately.

I hope everyone had Happy Holidays!

Saturday's White Rock Loop:
  • 9 miles; 2:11:47; 14:38min/mi average pace

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Ten on the Treadmill

Not much to say about this weekend's long run, except I did it on the treadmill.  It had been a rough week, and I really just wanted to sleep in on Saturday morning.  But it was too dark to go do my planned miles outside on Friday night, so I sucked it up and got'em done on the treadmill.

Nothing really to report, except that perhaps watching four straight episodes of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives on the Food Network seemed slightly counter-productive.  LOL.

Also, I accidentally deleted all my lap data on my Garmin before I finished, so I'm not completely sure on my total time, but I do know I was doing almost right at a 14mm.  So that's what I'm going with.

Friday's Treadmill Run:

  • 10 mi; 2:20:00 (approx.); 14min/mi avg. pace (approx.)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Doubting the Distance

Today marked 8 weeks until the Walt Disney World Marathon.  And thanks to a not-so-great run yesterday morning, I am starting to doubt my decision to pursue the full marathon distance.

My pace group sort of fractured this week - only 3 of us showed up to do the full training distance.  One guy decided to bump up to one of the faster groups, and one of the guys bumped down to the slowest group.  I knew that there was no way I was going to stick with the faster group, and the slower group was doing 1:1 intervals, which is what I prefer anyway, so I decided to go with them.  They were planning on a 16-17mm, which seemed so slow, but for the planned distance (22-23 miles), made sense.

It was a cool, overcast, very windy morning around the lake.  About halfway around the second loop, and at approximately 13.5 miles, I was really starting to feel tired and worn out.  Chatting with one of the other group members, we decided to start walking at mile 14, and just re-evaluate how we felt periodically about starting to run/walk again.  We eventually ended up walking the rest of the second loop and stopping at 18.2 miles.  A disappointing finish for me - but I do have one more 20+ mile run left before Disney so I wasn't too upset about it.

As we finished out the loop, we were talking about our planned races and discussing training and race day concerns.  Having completed two 18-mile and one 21-mile training runs now, I am doubting my decision to try to do more full marathons (specifically ones on my bucket list like MCM).  Now that I'm deep in the heart of full marathon training, I'm realizing just how hard this is.  I knew it would be.  But, really, this is HARD.  I truly don't know that I have it in me to do it again.

At this point in my training, I'm not doubting my ability to finish the Disney Marathon (knock on wood - unless something injury-related happens).  But I'm definitely going to have to wait until after Disney to make a determination on whether this distance is something that is really meant for me.

Saturday's Run:
  • 18.22 miles; 5:02:59; 16:38 min/mi

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I Got Some 'Splainin' To Do

So... um... yeah... It's been a while since I've posted...  Almost a month!  I knew it was going to be a busy time, and I was still hoping to get in here occasionally, but sometimes life just happens.  You know how it goes.

I'm pleased to report that even though I've not been posting, I have been running!  My mid-week runs have been suffering a little due to my busy schedule, but I have been able to complete all but one of my long runs (migraine sidelined me that day)!!!!

I still need to do a race report for Wine & Dine, but I'm hoping to get that done this weekend.  Yes, that's right - I'm HOME this weekend!  Yaaaaayyyy!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Recap: runDisney Meet Up & Eat Up

Hi all!  It's been a crazy couple of weeks, but I'm back!  Some of you already know this, but for those that don't - the Friday morning before the Wine & Dine Half Marathon at DisneyWorld two weeks ago, I was one of 25 runners chosen to be part of the runDisney Meet Up & Eat Up!!! (click on the link to read the whole description of the event).  So exciting!!!

I experienced some pretty serious travel delays on the way to Orlando (my flight was supposed to land at 9pm Thursday night, but actually didn't land until 4:45am on Friday morning) and I ended up only getting about 20 minutes worth of sleep (I don't sleep on planes).  I even had to change into my running clothes in the airplane bathroom (wow, was that an experience!) Fueled by pure excitement and adrenaline, plus a little airport Starbucks coffee and a mini Clif bar, I was ready to go when the group - including some awesome ROTErs - met up at WWoS at 7am!

First up on the agenda was a running clinic with Olympic Track Coach Brooks Johnson.  This guy was awesome!  He had a great mix of knowledge and humor, and after a short lesson on basic running mechanics, he led us in a few quick speed workouts.  So neat!
Brooks Johnson leading the group in some speed workouts at dawn.

After the speed workouts, it was time to meet last year's race winners.  They had a short Q&A session where they answered people's questions about the race course, race prep, and race strategies.  It was neat to get to hear all that info from an "elite" runner's perspective!

Then, finally, it was time to talk to, and run with, Jeff Galloway (my personal running guru).  He gave a mini bio of himself and his running background, including how he developed his run/walk method.   He, also, had a quick Q&A session and then we started off on our 2 mile run that the runDisney people had planned a trail run (which I wish I'd known about earlier so I could pack a pair of my older shoes, but oh well) through the WWoS complex.  We split into two groups - the "straight running" group with no walk breaks, and Jeff's group which would incorporate walk breaks.  My BFF and I joined Jeff's group, and he set the pace at a 30:30 run:walk interval, which is a very comfortable ratio for us.  All through the run, our group was picking Jeff's brain - asking all the questions we could think of - it was really awesome to have that kind of one-on-one interaction with him!  We finished the run back at the WWoS track, with right at a 13mm pace for the 2 miles.

Me with Jeff Galloway after the run!
Group run/walking with Jeff Galloway.

After the run it was time...to eat!  We moved inside for an interactive cooking demonstration with Disney Chef Gary Jones and Chef Mickey!  My BFF was even picked to help make the breakfast and got some up-close-and-personal time with The Mouse himself!
My BFF and me with Chef Mickey!

After we enjoyed our breakfast, we got to hear from the director of runDisney.  He talked about a possible 4th race at DisneyWorld, another possible race at DisneyLand ("depending on how Tinkerbell goes") and the VERY exciting possibility of expanding the runDisney series to include an international race at one of their non-U.S. resorts!!!  Super exciting!!!  Finally, it was time for a group picture (notice I was able to get right in there next to Mickey...  ;o)   ).

Whole group with Jeff, Chef Gary, and Chef Mickey!

All too soon the Meet Up & Eat Up was officially over.  We were each given a runDisney goody bag with a Tshirt, and a WWoS backpack.  Then they took us over to the Expo so we could pick up our packets early and get a little shopping in before the crowds hit.  After a spin around the Expo, we headed back to our room to shower and get cleaned up (fortunately my BFF had requested a late checkout, so we had some time) before the rest of our friends & family arrived.  This was such an amazing experience - I am so glad I got to participate!!!

Meet Up & Eat Up Stats:
  • 2.00 mi run; 0:26:11; 13:05mm avg. pace

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Run the Race Before You

Starting down the trail this morning, I just knew it was going to be a good run.  I planned to do 5-6 miles (as a taper run before the Wine & Dine Half Marathon next week), temps were in the high 50's, and it was crisp and clear - a truly great morning for a run!

"A great morning for a run."  That thought sent my mind wandering...and ending up back at a place where I've been lingering the last 3 days - the forecast in Orlando for next Saturday night.  Now, of course a 10-day forecast doesn't usually closely depict what the weather actually ends up being, but now we're down to 7 days out.  It's getting closer, and they're refining the forecast.  Looks like it's going to be a typical "fall" evening in Florida - warm (low in the low 70's) and muggy with a chance of rain.  Definitely not my idea of ideal race conditions.  Yuck.

So as I set a fairly brisk pace on this glorious morning, I started to think about how these less-than-ideal race conditions might affect me next weekend.  Self-doubt and "what-ifs" started to pop in.  What I finally realized a few miles into my run was that there is nothing I can do about it.  My only option is to run the race put before me on Saturday night.  Sure I'll properly hydrate and fuel beforehand, and I have 19 weeks of marathon training behind me, but as I cross that starting line, that's it - I'll be there and have to deal with whatever the race conditions are.

As scary as that thought sounds, I was still buoyed by it.  After all - I was right.  I have done and will do pretty much all I can to get myself ready.  And the stuff I can't control?  Well - oh well!  I can't control it, so I'll just prepare as best I can and then roll with the punches.  I plan to have a great time running with old and new friends and knowing I'll do the best I can with the race before me!  And then have a great time at the after-party!!!

Today's Taper Run:
  • 10 min. warm-up walk
  • 5.5 mi; 1:10:07; 12:45min/mi avg pace

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fitness Center & Football

I did this past weekend's "long" run on a treadmill at the LAX Marriott.  Up at 4:30 and on a machine by 5:00.  Boring, right?  It wasn't as bad as it sounds.  I had 10 miles on my schedule, but really only had time for 9 before I had to stop to get ready to leave.  I split the run into 3 mile segments, just in case I needed to relinquish the machine to anyone waiting to use it (which I ended up not needing to do).  After each segment I took a super quick water & gel break, then got right back at it.  I can't say it was the most thrilling run I've ever done, but I've got to give props to the fitness center.

They had really nice equipment with plenty of each kind of aerobic machine, and every machine had it's own TV built in to it.  Didn't bring headphones?  No problem - they provided disposable pairs.  They had stacks and stacks of clean hand towels and several different sanitizing wipe stations to wipe down the machines when you were done.  There were several water coolers, including one full of ice water with lemon and lime slices floating in it for an invigorating citrus touch!  Feeling wiped out after your exertion?  How about a nice, chilled, Eucalyptus-infused washcloth?  Amazing.  To top it all off, they had trays of fresh fruit available for a post-workout snack.  My only complaint is that the facility was too hot - it felt like a sauna in there - especially once more people came in as it got later.

I was really pleased I was able to get in almost all of my scheduled mileage - I had been concerned about whether it would really be feasible on the road.  I guess it just goes to show that it's possible with a little determination and commitment to force myself to get up and going and get it done even while traveling.  Nice.

And after the run we headed to The Rose Bowl to watch UT beat UCLA!  It was an incredible football game for us.  Add in a day at Disneyland on Sunday, and it was a great weekend!

Saturday's Treadmill Run:
  • 9 miles; 2:04:34; 13:50min/mi avg. pace

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Another Run In the Books

Y'all are going to get sick of hearing this over the next few months, but I, once again, ran my furthest distance EVER!!!  Yes, that's right, I completed 17.74 miles on Saturday.

I wanted to get going early because we had a really full day, but the trail is not lighted at all so I had to start on the treadmill.  I did 7.2 miles before it was light enough to head outside to the trail.  It's a 2.1 mile loop, so I needed to do 5 loops to hit my scheduled mileage.  I stayed with my run intervals for the first two loops, but decided to walk most of the third and fourth.  At the end of the fourth, and with a daunting fifth loop and remaining 2.1 miles still ahead of me, my thighs were tight, the sun was up, and it was HOT.  I was seriously considering moving back inside and finishing out the miles on the treadmill.  But I didn't.

At that point I just wanted to be done and was looking for the fastest way to finish.  Not only did I stay on the trail, but I started doing intervals again!  Since my walking muscles were so tight, using different muscles by switching back to the run intervals definitely helped.  The best part was that since that trail is very hilly, I chose my running direction for the last loop so I could end with a long-ish downhill stretch.  So I finished strong, and ran it in, feeling tired, but great!

I headed inside for a quick ice & epsom salts bath, then spent a couple hours in compression recovery gear before heading out again.  After a long evening on my feet at a football game, my legs were feeling pretty sore so I decided to sleep in my compression tights and socks.  I woke up this morning a little stiff, but after walking around a bit I felt almost normal.  I kept my compression socks on most of the day to cut down on any residual swelling and I'm still feeling pretty darn good.  Love it.

Although the run was tough, it wasn't rough - which seems like a small differentiation, but makes a big difference mentally.  And, looking back at the stats, I can proudly say that I completed 17.7 miles yesterday in a shorter amount of time than I completed 16.8 miles three weeks ago.  Yay me!

I'm so pleased to have had a "good" run after the last month or so of not-so-good runs.  I hope all of y'all had just of good of a run/weekend as I did!

Saturday's Stats:
  •  Treadmill
    • 7.2 miles; 1:39:23; 13:48 min/mi avg. pace
  • Trail
    • 10.54 miles; 2:39:17; 15:07 min/mi avg. pace
    • Time reflects two loops of walking, plus two fueling stops
Also - I hit 400 miles this weekend!  Wuhooo!!!

    Wednesday, September 7, 2011

    What's On Tap?

    Two posts in two days!  I'm on fire!  Which, actually, I'm not!  We're experiencing a freak "cold front" this week that has reduced daily high temps to the mid 80's - I'm pretty sure I'm in heaven!  I got in a outdoor run after work last night, which I haven't done it literally months because it's just been too dang hot!  It was still warm at 85 degrees, and sunny, so I didn't have a great pace, but it felt amazing just to be out there pounding the pavement.

    Yesterday's stats:
    • 10 minute warm-up walk
    • 3 mi; 0:39:54; 13:18 min/mi avg pace

    I'm just gonna apologize in advance for the craziness of the next few weeks.  I will do my best to keep the blog updated after each long run, but there is so much going on, I'm not promising anything...  'Cause, yup, it's going to be a full rest of the month!

    So what's on tap for the next few weeks?
    • 18 mile training run (WOW!) & football game
    • 9 mile training run & trip to L.A.
    • 9 mile training run
    • Wine & Dine Half Marathon

    Crazy, right?  It may be busy/full, but I'm really looking forward to it.  Well, maybe not-so-much looking forward to the 18 miler, but it'll be another big milestone for me, so that's something to look forward to!  And in the middle and the end of the month - a Disney trip on each coast - what's not great about that???

    Tuesday, September 6, 2011

    Birthdays, Munchkins, and Football!

    Not only was last weekend a long holiday weekend, but it was also my birthday weekend!  I headed down to Austin early Friday afternoon to meetup with some high school and college friends, and we went out for mexican food at one of our favorite restaurants.  Knowing that we had a 9-mile training run in the morning, we kept the night kinda low-key, but did end up eating a lot of not-ideal pre-run food.  And stayed up too late because we were having a "Girls' Night In" sleepover...

    All my non-running friends thought that the three of us runners in the group were absolutely nuts when we set our alarms for 5:15 on Saturday morning - but we had some miles to cover and wanted to beat the heat (as best we could).  What else was on the schedule?  The Inaugural R.O.T.E. Munchkin Run: Half-of-a-Half-Marathon!  That's right, a virtual race covering 6.55 miles with Dunkin' Donuts Munchkins (or the equivalent) as a post-race snack?  Yes, please!  So the 3 of us printed out the bibs, ran our 6.55 miles, and snapped pics afterward with our donut holes!

    I didn't run the miles at my race pace, since it was part of a 9-mile training run, but was still ok with my time.  After the "race," I got in another 2.45 miles - with the sun out so the finishing miles weren't so great, but they were done!  And considering the less-than-ideal "prep" from the night before, I'll take it!

    After the run, we got cleaned up and re-joined the rest of the group for a yummy breakfast!  Throw in some time in the pool, watching movies, dinner with my family, and a winning football game, and it was an all-around great weekend!

    Saturday's stats:
    • R.O.T.E. Munchkin Run: Half-of-a-Half-Marathon
      • 6.55 mi; 1:28:19; 13:29min/mi avg pace
    • Remaining mileage
      • 2.45 mi; 0:34:35; 14:07min/mi avg pace

    Saturday, August 27, 2011

    Something's Gotta Give

    Well, that's three terrible Saturday runs in a row.  I'm really not liking this trend.  Once again this morning I bailed on the group early - this time just past 6.5 miles (when we saw S for the second time).  I was just not feeling it.  Of course, by the time I got to my friend L's house, I was feeling better, and decided to get in another 2.5 miles around their neighborhood before we hopped in the pool.

    I'm hoping it's just a mix of the heat and a prolonged post-race slump, but I'm beginning to worry that it may be something else I haven't identified yet.  I just can't keep doing this.

    Run stats:
    • 6.65mi; 1:34:36
    • 2.5mi; 34:00

    Thursday, August 25, 2011

    Copping to a Crappy Run

    Yeah, I know.  It's Thursday, and I'm just now writing about last Saturday's run...but I've spent most of the week trying not to think about just how bad it was.  And, I've had a really hard time putting the experience into words.  Combine the two, and, well...

    17 miles (technically 16.8).  It was right there on the schedule, looming ominously on the horizon all of last week.  Looking back, I know I didn't go into Saturday morning with the right outlook.  Instead of a can-do attitude, I had some serious fears and doubts about being able to complete the distance - after all, it would be the furthest I'd ever run, and I'd missed the 15-miler two weeks ago.  Super bad move on my part.  How many times have I said that it's all about the attitude?!?!

    So I'll just say it.  The 16.8 miles ended up being a 10.5 mile run and a 6.3 mile walk with some sporadic running thrown in there.  Yikes.

    The weather was harsh - after only a couple miles, we all knew it wasn't going to be a great run.  Even though we'd been taking it really slow and had made numerous extended walk breaks, after 10 miles, I was really huffing and puffing.  My legs were feeling ok, but I just felt miserable and was really wanting to stop running and start the walk breaks early on almost every interval.  I knew that if I had any hope of getting in the total miles, I needed a longer break.  So I talked to our PGLs (Pace Group Leaders) and told them to go on without me - I was going to walk for a while.

    A rough very early morning quickly turned into a brutal morning.  The sun beating down on the (mostly) unshaded lake loop certainly did not help matters and drained what remaining energy and motivation I had. Although I had intended to start doing intervals again at some point after walking, I ended up continuing to walk, and intermittently ran when I felt up to it, the whole way back.  I dragged my butt into the parking lot just as everyone else was leaving.

    So, after rehashing all the bad stuff that went wrong on Saturday morning, I can also report a few positive things:
    • I did 16.8 miles!!!!!!!!!!  Furthest distance ever for me!  Even my amazing runner friend M commented that that's further than he's ever gone.  Big accomplishment!
    • After reviewing the data, I went 16.8 miles in 4:26.  That means in January I would have 2:34 to cover the remaining 9.4 miles - I'm pretty sure I could do that.  Huge confidence boost!
    • Reached a decision that for any of the truly long runs (anything over 10 miles), I need to step back and run with the next slower group down in my Galloway Group.  The 2:1 intervals were a big step up for me when I started running with the group in May, and it's still pushing it a bit.  Although I'm going to miss my original group every 3rd week, I'll still get to run with them 2 out of every 3 weeks.  Yay for me making a hard decision, but one that's best for me!

    Saturday's Stats:
    • 10.49 mi; 2:33:26; 14:38 min/mi avg pace
    • 6.31 mi; 1:52:33; 17:50 min/mi avg pace

    Sunday, August 14, 2011

    Runnin' In The Rain

    When I left the house yesterday morning, I had no idea what I was in for.  As I was leaving the neighborhood, I noticed a few drops of water on the windshield, but thought I'd driven past some overspraying sprinklers.  The further south I got, the more drops were on the windshield, and by the time I reached the RunOn! parking lot there was no denying that it was definitely raining.  A quick glance at the radar on my phone confirmed that there was even more on the way.

    Despite the rain, the group was still gathering, so I got out of the car and started getting ready.  But after a couple of lightning flashes, the overall group leaders decided to call off the run.  However, my pace group had different ideas.  We all decided that we were already up obscenely early, dressed to run, and we had the group for motivation - we were going to go for it.  I was apprehensive about it, but figured "what the hell," and fell in with the group.

    Let's just say it was a very soggy 8 miles.  I had actually managed to keep my feet relatively dry until I accidentally slogged through a major puddle at around 5.5 miles.  Near the end of the trail, we had all reached the point where we could wring out our clothes and all our shoes together were performing a "squishy symphony."  We just had to laugh, and keep going.

    So this was another first for me - normally if it's raining I either postpone the run or hit the treadmill.  I can't say that I enjoyed the "being dripping wet" part, but the cooling effect of the rain was pretty nice, and I made it through relatively unscathed (one tiny blister on my left foot and some chaffing from my water belt).  It's not something I'd want to do all the time, or for any kind of long run, but I won't "run away" from running in the rain anymore!

    We survived the rain - no melting here!
    Saturday's Stats:
    • 8.1 miles; 1:51:36; 13:47 min/mi avg pace

    Tuesday, August 9, 2011

    Stunk Like a Skunk

    Last Saturday's run was BAD.  Definitely in my top ten all-time stinky runs.  After giving myself matching blisters in San Francisco (haven't read the race report yet?  Check it out here), I decided not to run on Tuesday.  Then, when the alarm went off on Thursday morning, it was entirely too easy to turn it off and go back to bed.

    So, when Saturday morning rolled around, it had been 6 days since I'd run.  I'd been in touch with one of my PGLs (Pace Group Leaders) during the week to get some guidance on a good recovery mileage for me on Saturday.  The group was doing 15 - can you say no way!?!  He suggested 5-7, so I figured that sounded good.

    Before the group headed out on Saturday, I worked it out with our group "mascot," S, (one of the guy's wives) that she would be my (wonderful) sag wagon for the morning!  She'd meet up with us on the trail about mile 7.5, and I could stop there with her while the rest of the group continued on.

    Starting out, I expected some residual stiffness and soreness, but I also expected to loosen up within the first mile or two.  That didn't happen - my calves were so tight and painful, I was miserable.  Add in the stifling heat and humidity (boy, did that short trip to San Francisco spoil me, or what?) and I was huffing, puffing, and dragging a**.  When we saw S at about 3.5, I knew I was done.  She offered to let me crash with her, and even drove me back to my car before she met up with the group again at the next stop.

    While driving home, I was really beating myself up over quitting after only 3.5 miles.  I kept telling myself that I should have pressed on - it wouldn't have been as bad as I thought it was going to be - stuff like that.  By the time I was nearing my exit, I'd talked myself into stopping at my "normal" trail and seeing if I could get in a little more mileage.  I did a short loop and managed another 1.5 miles.

    So I totaled 5 miles on Saturday morning, but they stunk.  Like a skunk.  Really bad.  But I got them done.  And later that day, when I was venting my frustrations over the bad run(s), some friends helped me see a few things a little more clearly:
    1. 5 miles is 5 miles, good or bad;
    2. An occasional bad run doesn't make or break anything and makes no difference in the grand scheme of things;
    3. Sometimes the body knows better than the brain - if I wasn't ready to do 7.5, then my body knew it, even if my brain didn't; and, finally,
    4. I have some pretty amazing friends who are so supportive and always ready to put a positive spin on things!

    Saturday's Run:
    • Group Run:
      • 3.5 mi, 0:49:00; 13:59 min/mi avg pace
    • Individual Run:
      • 1.51 mi; 0:20:06; 13:17 min/mi avg pace

    Monday, August 8, 2011

    Race Report: San Francisco First Half Marathon

    We arrived in San Francisco mid-day on Friday, and after getting a quick bite of lunch, we headed out for a little exploring.  My mom is a native Californian, and we took many family vacations out there when I was growing up, so we're all pretty
    View from Point Lobos
    familiar with the area, and we each had certain things we wanted to see and do.  We drove past my great-great-aunt's old house and the house where my grandfather lived as a teenager.  We walked through Golden Gate Park, then headed over to Point Lobos and took a short and easy hike along the coastal part of the Land's End Trail.  We rounded out the day by driving south
    Dinner with old friends on Friday.
    of the city to meet up with some friends of mine, who recently moved to Redwood City, for dinner.  We had a yummy meal and a great time catching up!  Unfortunately, the long day of traveling and the time change also caught up with us pretty early, so we headed back to the hotel to crash.

    "The Race Even Marathoners Fear."
    Saturday morning we got up early and headed to the Expo and were waiting in line when the doors opened at 9am.  We quickly got our bibs, shirts, and goody bags, snapped a quick photo in front of the "The Race Even Marathoners Fear" sign, and started browsing the rest of the Expo.  I really
    Mom making signs.
    wanted to get a tech shirt, but wasn't happy with the options being offered for the Half distance, so I didn't get anything.  It was a smaller Expo than I'm used to seeing at Disney, but the upside was that most of the booths were giving away some pretty good schwag - lots of good samples and freebies to be had!  The highlight of the Expo for me was getting to meet up with a message board friend from Georgia who was running the Full - she and I had never met in person, but by texting we were able to meet up - so much fun!

    Seafood lunch at Fisherman's Wharf
    We spent the rest of the day Saturday bumming around the city - driving the race course and stopping several times along the way.  We had lunch at Fisherman's Wharf,
    Walt & me
    did a little shopping in the Presidio at Sports Basement with our coupons from the Expo, and enjoyed a few hours exploring the Walt Disney Family Museum in the shadow of The Golden Gate Bridge.  After a quick stop at Trader Joe's for some snacks for Sunday, we stopped for an early pasta dinner at a small italian restaurant close to our hotel.  After dinner, we headed back to the hotel to do all of our race prep and turn in for another early night - race day means an early wake up call!

    The Race:
    4:45am. @ Ferry Building
    We were up at 3 am to be out the door by 4 (for some reason, even though I'm always excited/nervous, I move super-slow on race mornings - so I have to allow some extra time).  And, even though I'd very carefully laid out all my race gear the night before, I somehow managed to forget to put sports shield on my feet - but more on that later.  We made it to the Embarcadero Center parking garage by 4:30, where some very nice security guards let us use the building's bathrooms before leaving the complex, then we headed down to the wharf, the Ferry Building, and the start line, which is where things got a little hectic...

    At the start line.
    Some of the UPS trucks that were "delivering" the gear bags to the finish lines hadn't shown up yet (not the best way to advertise, guys), including the one designated for my bib number, so I had to leave it with a volunteer at a table and hope for the best!  After hanging around for a bit, and a not-so-quick port-o-potty stop (the lines!), we all split up - Mom left to get on the spectator
    View of the Bay Bridge from my corral.
    shuttle and Dad and I entered our corrals.  Being in Corral 7 (8 total), I was positioned back towards the Bay Bridge, so as the sun was coming up I had a great view!  Dad was in Corral 5, and he started at 6:02.  After Corral 6 left, they let us move up to the start line, and at 6:22 I was off and running, too (pardon the pun)!

    1st Half Elevation Chart
    Being in San Francisco, the course had plenty of hills, but they start you off nice and flat - running along the waterfront past the piers and, of course, Fisherman's Wharf.  Even though they'd announced that at 58 degrees it was the warmest race start in 10 years, this leg was almost idyllic.  Compared to the 100+ temps in Dallas all summer, 58 felt amazing, and there was a good breeze off the water.  I did a good job of sticking to my intervals here and not starting off too fast - the first few miles I was right at a 13 min/mi - just where I wanted to be!  The first hill was right about the 2.5 mile point, and, with an 80 foot elevation gain in just over a tenth of a mile, it was a doozy!  I'd
    Crissy Field - approx. 4.5 miles
    already decided that I would walk the hills, so up I walked!  With a corresponding downhill portion just after, we were quickly back down to sea level and another 2 miles or so of flatness.  Mom's first spectator stop was at Crissy Field, just past 4.5 miles, where she snapped this shot of me (no, I'm not running backwards, mom yelled at me to turn around for the pic).

    Mile 5: Bridge approach
    The next leg of the race was: THE BRIDGE!  Even though there is a serious uphill section leading up to the bridge approach (150 ft in about half a mile), I was really looking forward to this.  After all, running over the bridge was the whole reason I was running the race in the first place! So after trudging up the hill, and quickly stopping for a picture, there I was - at the entrance to the bridge.  Awesome.  This race is the only one in San Francisco where they actually close lanes of traffic and let the runners on the road deck, so it's really special.  The Golden Gate Bridge is LONG - you just don't realize how long it really is when you're in a car!  The bridge is actually an out-and-back, so in total, we were on it for
    about 3.5 miles!  The turnaround was at Vista Point where there was a GU/water stop & a gorgeous view of San Francisco.  There were also "real" bathrooms here, but I was feeling good and didn't want to waste time - I knew I had very little to spare!  [Funny side note: I was so wrapped up in experiencing the bridge that I kept forgetting to take my gel!  I'd tell myself that at my next walk break I was going to pull it out of my belt and take it, but then I'd get distracted and all of a sudden it would be time to run again.  I went through quite a few cycles of this before I made the concerted effort as soon as I stopped for a walk break to pull out the pouch and take it.  Guess that's one downside to such beautiful scenery!]

    Leaving the bridge.
    Coming off the bridge, there was another steep hill (again about 150 foot elevation gain in 0.5 mile).  Even though I was expecting it, this hill really took it out of me .  I ended up flipping around and walking up it backwards for short stretches (I had read somewhere that this uses different muscles than forward walking or running, so it's a nice break for your legs).  Finally, Mile 10 was the top of the hill and the point in the course I had been looking forward to the second most: a mile-long downhill stretch.  And when I say downhill, I mean it - this baby just shot down - it even had a couple of small switchbacks!  I ran almost the entire mile, taking advantage of the downhill momentum and practically flying (for me).  I was able to regain some of the time I'd lost by walking the hills, and even built up a decent time cushion (about 4 minutes by Mile 11).  I was a little worried about my knees here, so I was careful with each step to make sure I wasn't putting too much pressure on them.  Also at this point I started feeling a little bit of calf cramping - I guess I'd been going uphill so much, my calves were complaining at the downward motion - but nothing that I wasn't able to work out by keeping moving, fortunately!

    Entering Golden Gate Park - Mile 12.5
    And then, finally, was the last homeward stretch - coming up the Avenues towards Golden Gate Park.  I don't know if I hadn't registered the incline up 26th/27th Ave when we were driving it, or if I'd just blocked it out, but looking up from the bottom of that street, I knew I was in trouble.  With the exception of the intersections that flattened out for cross traffic, it was pretty much uphill the whole way.  Not steep like some of the other hills, but most definitely a pretty decent grade up.  I knew I had a cushion of a few minutes, so I ran where I could and walked when I needed to (definitely more walking
    Nearing the Finish!
    than running, with some backwards walking up the hills in there, too).  Over the the span between miles 11 and 12.5, I let my time cushion slowly erode away to almost nothing.  After finally reaching the top of the hill and turning onto the street adjacent to the park, I knew I needed to keep up my pace to finish in under 3 hours and be an official finisher - my real goal for this race!  As I turned the corner into Golden Gate Park, I waved at mom, and was so glad that it was mostly downhill from there to the finish.  Keeping a close eye on my Garmin, and my overall time, I stayed with my intervals, and at the 13 mile marker kicked it into gear and finished strong!  Yes!!!

    My new medal!
    My chip time was 2:59:36.  What a huge sigh of relief - I made it!  Then it hit me - not only was I an official finisher, but at almost 6 minutes faster than my fastest half, I'd also set a new P.R.!!!   Wow!!!  After grabbing a water, I got my medal (yay!) and a mylar blanket, which was most welcome since I was cooling off fast.  Getting my checked bag out of the pickup area was a little bit of a nightmare, but at least it was there.  Knowing that they'd said the last bus back to the full marathon finish line was
    The finishers
    going to leave at 10:15, I grabbed a post-race goody bag with food (banana, plum, Panera Bread scones), and briefly looked for the promised Irish Coffee, but didn't see any - darn it.  The line for the buses was outrageous, but they kept assuring us that more buses were coming and they wouldn't leave anybody behind.  Finally on the bus, I headed back to the Embarcadero to meet up with Mom & Dad.  After taking some pictures and relaxing a bit at the finish line, we got in the car and headed back to the hotel to clean up.

    After showering, we spent the afternoon relaxing and reviewing our Garmin data and pictures from the race.  I also had to treat matching blisters on each foot - thanks to me forgetting to apply the Sports Shield earlier that morning - ugh.

    The 3 of us with Great Aunt Carol.
    We'd gotten in touch with the extended family earlier in the week and planned to get together for dinner that evening further inland in Danville, CA, which is where my great aunt lives.  We met up with everyone about 5pm, and enjoyed a nice dinner with the family.  (I hadn't seen these cousins in over 25 years, and they kept remarking that the last time they'd seen me I was only "this high..." and holding their hands about two feet off the ground).  It was nice to catch up, but we were all pooped from our early morning and the race, so we left about 8pm.  Back to the hotel to pack, and then lights out because we all had early flights out of SFO the next morning.  And that was the trip!

    All in all, I can truly say this race was, as billed, "Worth the Hurt."  I have such a feeling of accomplishment that has lasted days and still feels fresh to me, even now, when I think about completing this one.  So what do I do now?  Why, sign up for the 2nd Half in 2012, of course!  After all, I've got my eye on that "Half It All Challenge" medal!!!
    The "Half it All Challenge" Medal - my goal for 2012.

    Monday, August 1, 2011

    I Did It!

    Well, the cutoff time for the San Francisco First Half Marathon was three hours.

    My official chip time was 2:59:36.  Wow.

    Yes, I could have run harder the last couple miles and had a little more cushion in there, but my only goal was to be an official finisher.  AND - even though it was cutting it close to the 3-hr mark, it's still a new P.R. for me!

    I'll do a real race report later this week, but thought I'd let y'all know that...
    I DID IT!!!
    The full report will have lots of pics, but I wanted to share this shot from Mile 5 - at the top of one of the major hills, and just before getting on the road deck of the Golden Gate Bridge.  This could be my new all-time favorite race pic.

    Saturday, July 23, 2011

    Taper Run with Cattitude!

    Today was my last "long" run before San Francisco, and it was...interesting...to say the least!  Since I was tapering and only doing 5 miles, I decided not to join the group (for several reasons: save gas, sleep later, no waiting around for them to finish) and run on the trail nearby.

    So what's this about "cattitude?"  About a mile into the run, the trail squeezes between a row of houses and a creek.  As I'm running along, a big fluffy orange tabby cat darts out of the foliage around the creek and starts running towards me!  I figured he belonged in one of the houses, so I slowed down to let him cross the trail ahead of me.  Instead of crossing, he stopped right in my path and looked up at me like "ok, I'm here, now pet me!"  I'm a cat lover, but didn't want to stop, so I maneuvered around him and kept going.  Next thing I know, he's running ahead of me and has once again stopped in my path a few yards ahead, waiting for some attention!  We played leapfrog a total of 3 times before I guess he gave up on me - it was the funniest thing!  I can't help but wonder how many people stop and love on him that he's now perfected this routine?  I've seen plenty of wildlife on and around the trail over the years, but this was a whole new kind of interaction - too funny!

    As for the run itself, I definitely didn't prep well enough for it since it was "just 5 miles."  I started out too fast, and got in a decent first 3 miles, but then the heat and humidity definitely started getting to me and I faded fast after the sun started rising high.  The last 2 miles really stunk - boo.

    Oh well, it's done, and now San Francisco's only a week away!  The forecast for next Sunday is a high of 65 and mostly sunny - it's gonna be amazing running weather!

    Other items of note from today's run:
    1. I ran in my new Lotta Breeze Capri Skirt (in all black).  This probably added to the crappy last couple of miles because they're longer and exacerbated the already warm temps.  But I want to wear them for SF and didn't want to not have run in them beforehand.  SkirtSports has another winner with these - no budging, and a cute skirt to cover any areas you don't want the world to see  :o).
    2. I think Zico Coconut Water is yucky.  I bought two bottles to try - one regular and one flavored.  The regular is drinkable, but not enjoyable - definitely not something I'd want to carry with me on my run (glad I tried it before I put it in my bottles).  I'll try the flavored one this week to see if it's any better.
    3. I used the IMapMyRun+ app on my phone to post my progress to Facebook.  Seemed to work pretty well - still debating using this to post mile marker progress during San Fran.
    4. Today's run put me over 300 miles for the year!

    Today's Run:
    • 10 min. warm-up walk
    • 4.99 mi run; 1:05:06; 13:03 min/mi avg. pace.

    Sunday, July 17, 2011

    Mind Over Matter

    Yesterday's run was more of a test of my mental strength than my physical strength, as some long runs can be.  The group was only doing 7 miles (only 7 - you like that?), but I really needed to get in one last long run before San Francisco.  So I set my goal for 12 miles - 7 with the group and 5 on my own.

    I met the group at 5am and we headed out, but somehow we got distracted and turned around too early - as we were coming back into the parking lot we realized our mileage was short!  So a small group of us decided to continue on and get in the planned distance.  As we were out on that short catch-up run, one of our PGL's remarked that it took a lot of determination and commitment for us to keep running and pass the parking lot where others were stopping.  Oh, how right he was!

    After we finished the group run, I quickly hopped over to White Rock Lake where I had decided to get my final miles in - because if I was going to do it alone then at least I'd have a pretty run.  The only problem with the White Rock Trail is that there's not a lot of shade along the waterfront, and since it was 7am when I was starting, the sun was already out in full force.  There were also a ton of runners, walkers, and bikers out, so the trail was very crowded.  Since the loop around the lake is 9.3 miles, I decided to do a 2.6 mile out-and-back.

    It was so hot and the sun was just draining my energy with every minute - I don't think I passed a single mileage marker on the trail (every tenth is marked) without calculating how far the run would be if I turned around right then.  But I pushed on, wanting to get my total planned miles, so I just kept reminding myself that it was as much mental as physical, and I could do it.

    Then I got a much-needed boost when I was about a mile away from getting back to my car - a runner passed me and said "Good morning - looking good!"  I was stunned for a second, because I'm pretty sure that I looked awful at this point, but I really appreciated his comment.  So I told him "Thanks - you too" as he pulled away from me.  It's amazing how a few simple words can really give you that last edge to get it done - and I did - finishing strong!

    So my last long half marathon training run is done, and the race is two weeks away!  Next week is a taper, and then we're there!  Yay!!!

    Saturdays Runs:
    • Group Run:
      • 6.78 mi; 1:34:19; 13:55 min/mi avg. pace
    • Single Run:
      • 5.23 mi; 1:12:17; 13:49 min/mi avg. pace

    Saturday, July 9, 2011

    Five is Fabulous!

    Since we've hit July in Texas, and the first double-digit long run was on the schedule this week, from here on out we're starting even earlier to beat the heat - at 5 a.m., no less.  And as terrible as it was to wake up before 4 a.m. so I could be there on time, I have to admit - running when it's (relatively) cooler because of the lack of sun for most of the run is pretty fabulous!

    Running in the pitch black of the early morning is a new thing for me, but a few of the group members had headlamps, and almost all of the rest of us had blinky lights (I had one on the bill of my visor, and one on the back of my fuelbelt), so we were ok.

    It was very warm - 86 degrees (and humid) at 5am - this morning, so we scaled back our pace again, which made for a slower/longer run, but we got it done!  And the best news???  I didn't have to cut short any of the run intervals, even the later ones!!!  I was able to keep up the group's 2:1 intervals the whole time - wuhooo!  (However, to be honest, the slower overall pace, and mostly overcast conditions toward the end of the run probably had more to do with this than any extra effort on my part...)

    Came home, showered, and put on compression sleeves to aid in recovery.  Three more weeks until San Francisco!!!

    Today's group run:
    • 10.70 miles; 2:30:07; 14:02 avg pace

    Sunday, July 3, 2011

    Counting Down and Adding Up

    Counting down - today is officially 4 weeks 'til the San Francisco 1st Half Marathon!!!  This is when it starts feeling real for me, and when I usually start getting nervous.  Don't get me wrong, the nerves are there, but are currently being overridden by excitement, and, dare I even say it - confidence?!?!  My training's on track, and that's a great feeling.

    Speaking of training, I'm slowly adding up the miles - yesterday's run put me over the 250 mile mark for the year!  And as the weeks keep flying by, that number's just going to keep going up and up - some weeks faster than others - but always in the right direction!  I reported in my challenge stats at the end of June, and that puts me at 36.3% of my goal mileage reached.  Halfway through the year and just over 1/3 of the way there.  I feel pretty good about it.

    Since it's a holiday weekend, my running group didn't meet yesterday.  I had initially signed up for a race - the Independence Day 10K - but I decided against running it because even though race registration was free, the gas to get down there and back wasn't.  Cementing the decision were the facts that the race didn't start until 8am (just too hot), and that I'd still need to get in some additional miles afterward.  So I bailed on the race and hit the nearby trails bright and early - just me and my ipod.  I found myself missing the camaraderie of the group as well as that extra bit of motivation they provide, but I realized that a long run by myself was a good thing at this point.  After all, the group won't be there in San Francisco, will they?  About halfway through the run, I found myself tiring and recognized that I'd probably started out too fast.  So I ended up walking more of the last 2-3 miles than I'd like, but I'm still happy with the average pace.  Now I just need to keep it up for another 3.5 miles!

    Yesterday's Run:
    • 10 minute warm-up walk
    • 9.56 mi run; 2:06:52; 13:16 min/mi avg. pace

    Wednesday, June 29, 2011

    Belting It Out

    I always said that my handheld water bottle was enough for me and I didn't want to run in a hydration belt, but I recently realized that as much as I love my handheld, it just wasn't going to cut it for the long runs involved in marathon training.  So I asked for suggestions from my group members as well as friends who are runners.

    After an exhaustive search, I finally found a hydration belt that feels good, carries the right amount of water and gels, and, that very importantly...holds my phone!!!  Yay!  Actually, I found two!  After several strike-outs, I found the Nathan Speed 2 and the Nathan Trail Mix.  I was initially going to choose between the two, but decided to keep both.  Why?  I like the option of having a "sleeker" belt - the Speed 2 - for shorter "long runs" (HM distance or less) because this will hold my phone as well as up to 3 gels.  But for any longer "long runs" I'm going to need a little more room for a little more stuff - so I'll break out the Trail Mix.

    I ran in the Speed 2 this Saturday with the group - and liked it!  It will still take a little getting used to, but I can see myself quickly getting to the point of not noticing it.  There was very little bouncing, I had no problem retrieving my gel, the flasks were easy to remove and replace, and refilling them at the water stop wasn't a issue.

    Just goes to show that getting out of your comfort zone can be a good thing!

    Saturday's Group Run:
    • 8.23 mi; 1:54:28; 13:55 min/mi avg pace
    Tuesday's Treadmill Run:
    • 10 min warm-up walk
    • 3.0 mi; 0:40:00; 13:20 min/mi avg pace

    Monday, June 20, 2011

    Houston, We Have A Problem!

    You know what they say about the best laid plans...  So, um, yeah.  It was a no-go for running this morning.  I made it as far as putting on running clothes, getting on the treadmill, and doing my warm-up walk.  30 seconds into the first run interval, I realized: 5am on a Monday?!?  It just wasn't happening. So I switched off the treadmill, and turned instead to my upper body/core strength training plan and did a circuit of weight training.

    So, the plan to switch to Monday/Wednesday running is probably going to get scrapped.  I'm going to use the rest of the week to try to figure out a new approach, but for now, I'm back to Tuesday/Thursday runs.

    However, I got in some strength training today, so it's hard to complain about that!  And I liked doing a little bit of cardio beforehand - I think I'll definitely incorporate 10-15 minutes of walking prior to pulling out the weights from now on!

    Today's stats:
    • 10 min. warm-up walk
    • 35 min. upper body/core strength training

    Saturday, June 18, 2011

    Getting Hilly & Mixing It Up!

    Another Galloway Group run this morning - with 7.5 miles this time.  We took it easy and went very "low and slow" because even at 6:30am we were already under a heat advisory warning!  The only snafu of the morning was missing a turn (again) and going up an unnecessary big (at least for Dallas) hill.  We realized our mistake and turned around, went down the hill, and got back on track.  The upside is that it definitely helps with hill training for San Francisco!

    On another note, I haven't been very happy with how cross training (elliptical) on Wednesdays has left my legs feeling not-so-great for my Thursday morning runs - so I'm mixing it up a little.  This week I left out the cross altogether, but didn't like that either.  So I've come up with a new plan - my standard week will now look like this:
    • Monday - short run
    • Tuesday - strength (upper body & core, no leg work)
    • Wednesday - short run
    • Thursday - cross train
    • Friday - yoga for runners
    • Saturday - long run
    • Sunday - rest
    I'm thinking that since the yoga for runners isn't intense (basically just stretching) it won't be too much before the long run.  I tested the theory by doing yoga yesterday morning and I felt fine during the long run today.  Next week will be the first full week I try the new plan out, so we'll see how it goes.  If I don't like it, no harm done - I can just as easily switch back and figure out another day to cross-train.  I'm hoping it works out, though, because this new schedule allows me to incorporate all the different training aspects I'd like to, while still keeping my legs "fresh" for running.

    Today's stats:
    • 7.45 miles; 01:45:58 min; 14:13 min/mi pace