Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Random Thoughts on the Santa Rosa Marathon

These are some of the thoughts that have been percolating inside my head since I finished the Santa Rosa Marathon. Just a random stream of running thoughts…

I think I bonked during the marathon for a few reasons:

*I didn't carbo load well in the 2 days before the race.
*I didn't complete my nutrition plan during the race because the Gu and Gu Brew just weren't appealing when it got warmer.
*I sweat too much!
*I think I was dehydrated at the end. I was guzzling water after the race and still didn't have to pee until about 4pm. And it was dark. (sorry if that’s too much information!)
*I lost time on the dirt and the switchbacks over the bridges (where it was sometimes a bottleneck) and I made up for it by running harder for a little bit. I think if I had just relaxed and continued on pace, then I would have been better off at the end.
*I didn't do enough running in warm weather. I guess I'd hoped that cycling during hot weather would be just as good. It isn't.

Thoughts on the race course:

*As I said before, the Santa Rosa Marathon is along a beautiful river trail. But a double out and back is not so much fun.
*Having to go by the finish line and then go back out again is hard mentally. You just want to stop and your body is like “Are you crazy? You're going the wrong way!”.
*But what is nice about a double out and back is that you learn where the bad stuff is from the first time. And you have that much more hope when you recognize the landmarks near the finish!
*Another nice thing was that the course was clearly marked. I'd worried that I would go the wrong way on the zig zags over the bridges but it was fine.
*There was some nice artwork along the river trail. And a cool mosaic wall. I didn't get to study it though. I was running too fast. ;)

Weird random thoughts:

*I think I need to stop worrying about my stomach during a marathon. I haven't had any stomach problems at any of the 4 that I've done. Which makes it weird that I don't worry about it for long runs and usually do have stomach problems. My body is so contrary.
*I didn't have any blisters or chafing! Woo!
*Pancakes taste like heaven when you are starving.
*What the hell is an Urban Cow (seen on the back of a guy’s shirt that I followed for a while)? But seriously, I think more people should wear funny/interesting shirts. It helps pass the time when you are running.
*There was a band playing at the finish line and I swear they were dressed like Thing 1 and Thing 2 but with white hair. (I might have been a little too tired to judge that properly though!).
*Why is it I can never take a good picture while I'm running? The only one that came out half way decent was this one from the finish at the Winery's photo booth (hence the bottle of wine...which I don't drink!) -->
*It's really nice having your name on your bib because it gives you a little pick me up when people yell out encouragement with your name.
*I loved the shirt for the 5K. I wish I could have gotten my hands on one. I actually emailed the race director to see if there are any left over. No word back yet. Cross your fingers!
*Driving 460 miles to a race is not fun. I don't mind long drives but I think it tired me out before and I definitely didn't feel like driving home after. I decided I better fly to the 12 HR in San Francisco in January.
*I was 10th in my age group out of 31, 66th out of 152 women, and 254th out of 416 overall. Was surprised to see more men than women ran this.

One last thought:

My final thought is about not reaching my sub-4 goal. This is the first race this year that I didn't reach the goal I'd set for myself. I would be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed about that. However, it does make me more determined to get faster and stronger for the next marathon I race (probably the Kentucky Derby Marathon in April 2012). But then Jason, my coach, reminded me that I've set a PR in every race I've run since February! That’s 2 marathons, 3 half marathons, a 5K, and an unofficial 10K (during the Seattle Rock & Roll 1/2) and that is pretty darn good! Thank you Jason for your encouragement and coaching! I really appreciate it!

I think the reason I was disappointed about the missed goal is because I thought maybe I hadn't worked hard enough for it. But I think my PRs for the year say otherwise. I AM ecstatic about how well the Year of the PR is going for me. :) I've hit so many times this year that I never thought I would that I have to pinch myself sometimes. That's a pretty darn good feeling.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Santa Rosa Marathon Race Report

My 4th Marathon is done. I ran it in Snoopy's home town, Santa Rosa CA, on Sunday in 4:06:18. I'd been hoping to go sub-4 but instead I'll take the 8 minute PR! Here is my recap of the weekend.

Santa Rosa is 460 miles from where I live. I decided to drive there instead of fly so I only worked half day on Friday to drive up there. I thought I might run into traffic when I got to Oakland so I was going to do the drive in two stages. But I didn't really have any traffic so I drove all the way to Santa Rosa on Friday. 8 hours on the road (two stops). That was a long, long drive.

I got a little lost looking for the hotel and arrived at 8:30. And when I went to check in they said they were having a problem with their key machine. But I eventually got into my room. I was pretty tired.

On Saturday morning, I went to the hotel's cafe for their pancake breakfast. This was probably the only carbo loading I did for the race and I think that came back to bite me on race-day. After that, I went to pick up my race packet. It was a very small expo so I didn't spend much time there at all. Just got my bib, chip, and shirt and then talked to Marshall Ullrich for a little bit (he signed his book for me!). I think I was out of there in 20 minutes. After that, I got a pedicure (green toes!), had a sandwich for lunch, and then went back to the hotel and made like a spud.

I was still tired on Saturday night and I fell asleep around 8:30. But then some party revelers returned to the room next door to me at 1 am and I couldn't go back to sleep. I tried just resting my eyes and I think I got about another 45 minutes of sleep because the alarm woke me at 4 am.

Race Morning
So, I woke up at 4 and had a banana, 2 mini bagels, and 20 oz of Gu Brew. I could tell I was nervous because my stomach was a little upset but it soon settled down. I got my food and drink ready for the race, packed a bag for after, and then got dressed. Then I listened to some Daft Punk and Austra while I studied the course map and waited til it was time to leave. At 5:30, I headed over to the race start which was only a few miles away. I drank another 12 ounces of water on the way.

When I got there, I went into the Church of One Tree (The church was built using just one redwood tree! It's pretty small but it still must have been a big tree!) where the 5K registration was to wait and use the restroom. After that, I downed a Gu and had one last gulp of water, did a short warm-up, and it was time to head to the start line! I got into the section for 9 min miles and waited. I wasn't nervous at the start and spent most of my time looking at the shoes everyone was wearing. I didn't see any barefoot runners or minimalist shoes which I thought was weird. I thought about that later during the marathon.

The Race
The gun went off at 7 sharp and we were off! The start was narrow to string us out because the river trail was pretty narrow so it was a little crowded. This kept me from going out too fast and my first mile was 9:01, a little faster than the 9:08 planned but not too much. I thought I did pretty good.

The course was a double out and back along the river and it was really pretty and quiet. There wasn't a lot of people along the route cheering but I kind of liked it that way. Once again, I was surprised by how many people ran with headphones so I didn't really get to talk to anyone. The miles passed pretty quickly. Just me and my thoughts and the scenery - river, trees, vineyards, fields with horses. Plenty to keep me occupied. :) The only thing I didn't like about it was that half of the course was dirt and a little uneven in places. I only tripped once though. Which is good for me. Anyway, part of the trail was gravely and I figured that might be why I didn't see any barefooters or VFFers running.

Soon enough, I was at the turnaround (6.5 miles). My Garmin was beeping a little earlier than the mile markers (about .10 of a mile) and I realized I wasn't doing a good job of running the tangents. Darn it. After that, I really tried to run them but the path was winding and it was hard. I didn't lose much more distance getting back to the start for the halfway point so I was at least doing better. I realized that with the extra distance I'd run, I would be cutting it close to 4 hours but at the time I was feeling pretty good and had visions of picking up the pace for the last few miles (ha!). When I got to the turnaround at 19.6, I was .16 miles ahead of the mile markers so I'd lost a little bit to the tangents again but at least not as much.

I was still feeling good all the way thru mile 21 and I'd averaged 9:08 for all those miles and then bam!... I started slowing. :( Mile 22 was 9:24, mile 23 was 9:42, mile 24 was 9:57, and mile 25 was 9:59! I don't know what the last mile and change was because my Garmin lost the satellite during the last mile! But it was probably around 10:20, I think. Those miles felt a lot slower than the actual pace and it was so frustrating! I kept telling myself to pick up the pace but my legs chose to ignore me and do their own thing. I mean, come on! Who's the boss here? Apparently, not me.

The one bright spot during that time was Dan from Sacramento. We were running about the same pace and I was a little behind him. The back of his shirt said "Why do you run marathons?" so as I came up to him during mile 20, I told him "I run marathons for pancakes". He laughed and we started talking. We ran together until the last couple miles and he pulled me along. He asked me what my goal was and I told him 4 hours and he said he would help me and he kept giving me encouragement and pushing me. He kept me from walking and slowing down even more. Finally, I told him to go ahead since he was doing better than I was but I kept him in my sights and that helped keep me running and lessened the disappointment once I saw I wasn't going to hit 4. He finished about 1 1/2 minutes ahead of me and met me at the finish line. I am so grateful for his encouragement out there. Thank you Dan! I wish I'd remembered to thank you when I saw you at the finish. (bad Lisa!)

The Finish and Beyond
This marathon definitely hurt more than the Lost Dutchman in February. I was hot, covered with salt, and my legs were super tight. When I crossed the finish line, I was more concerned about getting water than my medal (pretty cool though, eh?) and I had to keep moving because both hamstrings and calves were trying to cramp. But I also really needed to sit and rest so I was just wandering around trying to decide what to do. Finally, I just stretched out in the grass and drank lots of water. When I felt I could get up without my legs cramping, I made my way over to the pancakes and wolfed 'em down. Hey, a girl's got to have her priorities! Let me tell you, they tasted delicious. I could have eaten another one but I thought I better let that settle. So I went over to the results to see my official time since my Garmin had gone bonkers. 4:06:18. An 8 minute PR! Frankly, I wasn't even sure if I was going to get that! But I did it. I finished my 4th marathon and got a PR out of it. :) Thank God, I didn't walk. Thank God for Dan!

After getting my results, I walked back to my car but I didn't think it would be wise to drive yet. Instead, I grabbed my gear bag and went into the mall (where the race parking was), changed, did a little shopping, and got a Turkey & Avocado sandwich,pretzels, and a peanut butter cookie. I sometimes have trouble keeping food in after a long run so again I didn't want to eat too much. My celebratory meal would have to wait until dinner.

Once I ate, I felt like a normal human being again and that I would be able to drive back to the hotel. So I went back to the hotel to put my feet up for a little bit. But only a tiny little bit because I wanted to go to the Charles Schulz Museum and Sunday afternoon was my only chance. Luckily, it's not too big and wasn't too far away. There's no way I could go to Santa Rosa and not go there! Have I mentioned that my nickname is Snoopy? And that I have Snoopy tattoo (pic on the right) on my ankle? I'm glad I went. Although my wallet may not be because well, I bought a few souvenirs. Okay, more than a few. ;)

I went back to the hotel and then went over to Applebee's for my celebratory dinner. I had tortilla soup, steak, garlic mashed potatoes, veggies, and a hot fudge sundae! I made sure I wore my medal so if anyone saw me chowing down, they'd know I earned it!

And then my adventure was over and I drove home yesterday. My legs were still stiff so I went for a ride when I got home and then got a massage later. Both helped. I actually felt pretty good. Not tired or drained so I think I'm recovering pretty well. My left foot hurt a little on the outside and my left knee was a little sore from the trail being concatenated, I think. Also, my arms/shoulders were sore which is weird. Never had that before. At least, I don't think. I guess it has been long enough since the last one to forget how much it hurts! ;)

Overall, I would say this was a successful trip. I ran a marathon along a beautiful river, visited Snoopy's home town, met some great people, and got an 8 minute PR! What more could a girl ask for?

P.S. I'll post a Random Thoughts blog tomorrow about the Santa Rosa and it will have my thoughts on what I think went wrong. Because I still think I had a 4 hr marathon in me. It just wasn't meant to be at the Santa Rosa Marathon.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Final Countdown

I am mostly packed. All my race gear is packed, race drink/food, snacks, instructions, directions, hotel & race confirmations is in. I just have to pack some regular clothes and my electronics: laptop, phone, kindle and their various cords.

All the logistics are worked out for my trip except I just need to figure out where I'm staying Friday night. The drive will be about 7 1/2 hours and I'm hoping to do at least 6 hours on Friday. I'm only working til noon on Friday so I'll get a good start and hopefully beat traffic going over the pass. I would have liked to stay in San Francisco but it's probably best if I don't stop there. I'd be tempted to walk around and see sights since I haven't been there since I was 18. Plus, it would add a little extra bit of drive time. I'll have to save that for December.

On Saturday, I'll sleep in late (6am – yes, that's late for me) and eat breakfast, check out the latest I can and then head up to Santa Rosa, the expo, and my hotel. I will not spend a lot of time at the expo (per my coach Jason – I promise to be good!).

I have my race day plan all worked out. This is only the 4th marathon I'll be doing but I think I've raced enough with the marathons, half marathons, etc. that I have a routine down. This is the plan:

The night before:
Lay out all my gear.
Attach my bib & chip.
Get all my food/drink stuff together.
Relax and read a book (I downloaded some highlander books on my Kindle already to keep me occupied and not thinking about running)
Try and go to sleep early!
Set about 3 alarms (watch, phone, clock ). Just to be sure.

Get up at 4 and eat 2 mini bagels and a banana and have 20 oz Gu Brew.
Get dressed: Asics top, Moving Comfort shorts, Athlete skirt, CEP compression socks, Saucony Kinvaras, Underarmour hat, Go Sport ID, Garmin
60/90 minutes before: head to the race start
1 hour before: drink water
Hit the porta-potty one last time.
30 min before: have a gu , and S-Cap, and one last gulp of water.

During the race:
I'll be carrying my Ultimate Direction bottle filled with Blueberry Pomegranate Gu Brew and carrying 2 waffles and a Gu.
Every mile, I'll take a swig of the Gu Brew.
Every 5 miles, I'll have half a waffle (I split these in half before and they fit nicely in my skirt pockets) and grab water as I go through the next aid station.
If I’m sweating a lot, I'll take another S-Cap around mile 16.
If I feel I need an extra kick during the last 6 miles, I'll go for the Gu.

The actual race plan is to run between 9:05 and 9:08 splits for each mile, have fun, and finish strong!

This is my last chance to go sub-4 this year. I am running one more marathon in 2011 but it will be a trail marathon and I will not be racing it. I have a lot of hopes pinned on this since this was a goal I set for myself at the beginning of the year. At the time I set the goal, I wasn't sure if I could make it happen but now I think it’s in my reach.

Oh great racing gods of the road, please, please, let all the stars align so I can give it my best shot. If I finish, knowing I gave the best effort I could, I'll be happy whatever happens.

But I'm still visualizing the clock in my head…

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Policy of Truth

Less than a week now til the Santa Rosa Marathon. All the training is done and I'm tapering.

I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous. Of course, I am. How could I not be when I picked a goal that I'd have to stretch to reach...and one that I haven’t been quiet about it either. You set a goal for yourself and put it out there on a blog/twitter/facebook so everyone knows about it so you’ll be accountable to it. But then what if you blow up? Or you just don't have it in you that day? Or you miscalculated on where you’re at with running? Maybe you had stars in your eyes blinding you to what you are really capable of?

Um, yeah, just a teeny bit nervous. :)

But I guess it wouldn't be much of a goal if it was a sure thing so I'm okay that there is some doubt about whether or not I can go sub-4 for this marathon. It means I'm pushing my limits. Can I do it? I think I can. Jason thinks I can. Actually, I know I can given the right conditions.

So from now until Sunday, I need to just remind myself that I've worked my ass off to get here and it will all play out according to plan.

I'm doing some visualizing. (I can see the clock at the finish in my head right now).

I've reminded myself that it won’t be easy and it’s probably going to hurt on Sunday:
“Going into races with confidence in your ability to achieve your goals is a good thing, because true confidence is inherently realistic. But going into races expecting to feel any better than wretched in pursuit of maximum performance is a form of self-sabotage. Expect every race to hurt like hell and you will race better.”~Matt Fitzgerald
I’m making my lists, checking them twice (maybe three times because I’m a list nerd) and starting to pack.

Frankly, my biggest worry right now is…what am I going to wear? Just kidding! Of course I know what I’m going to wear. That was the easiest part. ;)

6 days and counting!

P.S. Hey if you're racing this weekend too,my coach @JasonFitz1 has a great post over on Strength Running today called “How to Bulletproof Your Next Race (Plus Behind the Scenes of My Personal Race Day Routine)” Check it out for some great tips!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Countdown Starts

Just 10 days til the Santa Rosa Marathon! I have got to distract myself so I don't over think this. I need to read. I need to write. I need to submerse myself in a good series. Any recommendations? Help!

In the meantime, here is a countdown of the top ten things I loved/learned while training for the Santa Rosa Marathon:

10 – Believe it or not, I loved the 10x1' and 5x2' intervals that Jason, my coach, had me do. Yeah, I can't believe it either.

9 – I am so happy that my calf is doing fine! Just one twinge once but other than that it's been fine.

8 – I learned not to sweat the small stuff. I didn't have a big plan mapped out for this one marathon like I did the others. I got my weekly training from Jason and I was good with whatever he threw my way. I think that this being the 4th one had a lot to do with it. But if you knew what a planner I am, then you’d know that this was a big thing for me.

7 – I love that I recovered from my long runs so quickly this go round. It tells me I’m stronger and I’m better prepared for them.

6 – I love that I consistently hit the times that Jason set for me during training. That gives me a lot of confidence going into this taper.

5 – I think I finally learned what works for me nutritionally during my long runs – Honey Stinger Waffles and Blueberry Pomegranate. And that I can do a gel before the run but not during. Mmm…waffles…

4 – I learned that I’m faster than I thought.

3 – I loved every one of my long runs.

2 – I wrote my first runku, er, haiku about running during my long run on Saturday. It was inspired by the full moon we had that night. It’s totally cheesy but I was pretty proud of myself and it kept me occupied for a few miles. Here it is:

howling moon guiding,
hunter chases down her PRey:
coyote running!

Well? Bad? ;)

1 – Best of all, I learned I can deal with setbacks without falling apart when I had my calf issue in June. There was no reaching for donuts. No wallowing in self pity. I dealt with it and adjusted my plans and I think it worked out really well.

I'd say this has been a pretty good journey for me, wouldn't you? Now, if I can just survive this taper...

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Pretty Flippin Epic LIfe

I received a note from a friend today and in it he mentioned my "pretty flippin epic life". I laughed when I read it but the more I thought about it, the more I realized he was right! I do have a pretty flippin epic life and sometimes I forget how lucky I am to be where I am.

Things sure have changed from what I consider to be the lowest point of my life: the summer of 1992. Everything that could be going wrong in my life was going wrong. I'd reached a point where I didn't care about anything anymore and frankly, I'm surprised I survived that summer.

1992 was a hard year for my family. My sister had a miscarriage in January, my uncle passed away in April and we lost both of my grandmothers within a month of each other that summer. My grandma Poncha passed away after a long battle with kidney failure and the last few months of her life were filled with pain. I hope you never have to see someone you love suffer like that. My mom is an only child and my sister was living in Arizona at the time so it was just me, my mom, and my grandpa taking care of her. I felt completely helpless to do anything but be there for her and them. But those last few nights with her in the hospital are still so clear in my mind, it's like it was yesterday. I remember talking to her on her last lucid night, it was about 2 in the morning and she looked over at me and told me how much she loved me and that she thought I was pretty and she was proud of me. I remember feeling terrible about that because I'd screwed up so much of my life. How could anyone be proud of me?

At the ripe old age of 34, I:
*was single, no kids, no prospects.
*weighed about 300 pounds.
*was over $35,000 in debt with nothing to show for it - no car, no house, nada.
*wasn't sure I had enough money for rent let alone food for me & my cat.
*had just dropped out of college...for the second time.
*was on anti-depressants and seeing a counselor - who wanted to talk about my sex life but I didn't have one - zero help there!
*started having nose bleeds and found out I had high blood pressure. The doctor's exact words were "you should be dead". So I started taking high blood pressure medicine at 34 and was told I'd be on it the rest of my life. Except, I didn't always take it though and the nose bleeds continued.

Basically, I was a wreck. I had no hope of things getting better. In fact, everything was heading to a breaking point and I'd pretty much closed my eyes to the inevitable crash. I just didn't care. I couldn't. I was numb, I think.

I can't say there was any one thing that turned things around for me. I think the weight of everything was just so much that I couldn't breathe so I just started tackling my "problems". The easiest ones were the debt and my weight. I made drastic cuts to start paying off the debt and I did lose weight then but I ended up gaining it back which was pretty depressing. I don’t think I was ready to lose the weight and keep it off then.

But the good news is that even though it took me a long time, I eventually did tackle my problems one by one:
*I paid off my debt by the time I was 40.
*worked my way thru a couple of promotions at work despite not having a degree and get 4 weeks off a year. Woo!
*I lost 150 pounds and I've kept it off for a couple of years now.
*My blood pressure went back to normal so no more meds. It’s actually on the low side now.
*No more anti-depressants and no more counseling!
*I learned to appreciate and enjoy my single status and the freedom of not having kids. Sure, I get a twinge every now and then but I'm okay with it. Especially when my sister tells me what she's going thru with my 2 beautiful nieces as they hit their teens!

The only problem I haven't tackled yet is college but I figure I could be one of those 90 year old women getting a diploma so I have time. ;)

But really, the icing on the cake was when I started running. I think what I learned paying off my debt and losing weight helped me as a runner but I also think that running taught me so much more about myself. It taught me:
*that I'm not lazy.
*that I'm not afraid of hard work.
*that I'm not afraid to fail.
*that I'm stronger than I thought.
*that I can have dreams and make them happen.
*that I want to actually live my life.
*that I have a pretty darn good life.

Or maybe running just cemented these ideas in my head. Anyway, if someone had told me back in 1992 that I'd be running marathons, traveling around the country, making friends, and having adventures I would have laughed in their face. There was no way in hell that would be me. But it is. And sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure it's not all a dream.

So yeah, finally, at 43 years of age, I have a pretty flippin epic life. Not the life I dreamed about as a kid, but I think one just as good, if not better. I worked my ass off to get here and I am so thankful I was given a second chance and that I had family and friends to support me along the way. I plan to live my life to the fullest and chase down my dreams til the day I die. Which, thanks to running and riding and healthy eating, should be quite a few years down the road.

I hope your life is “pretty flippin epic” too. If not, what are you waiting for? Make it happen!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Fall Race Plans

"Some running is good, more is better, and too much is just enough."
I signed up for my fall races this week. Well, I have one more to sign up for but the last quarter of 2011 is pretty much planned out.

My plan for 2011 was to focus on trail races for the last half of the year after the Seattle Marathon. Since I had to push back my marathon plans to August, the trail running got squished into the last 4 months instead.

These are the races I signed up for:

*A Hurricane JEM 16.5 Mile Trail Race on October 15th in Virgin, Utah. And this is what they have to say about it on the website:
All trail marathon and 16.5 Mile run. Extremely scenic vistas prevail as you traverse your way through the course. Approximately half the trail is gorgeous single track with many scenic view points. The other half of the trail will be packed dirt road. You will literally run through Zion National Parks' back porch!! Remember...this is trail! There will be hills going up and hills coming down! Rocks, cactus and other obstacles will be on the trail Have fun, watch your step and enjoy the amazing run.
This will be about 6 weeks after the Santa Rosa Marathon and I plan on just having fun and enjoying the views on the run. Having said that...I'm guaranteed a PR with this race because I've never run a 16.5 mile race before!

*The San Dimas Turkey Trot 10K in San Dimas, CA on November 26th. Yes, the same San Dimas from Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. This will be my 3rd year running it. This is the blurb for this run:
Come join us for a 5K Run/Walk, 10K Run &1/2 mile Kids Run - This is not your typical Turkey Trot. These holiday runs have a mixture of dirt and paved trails. You are going to feel like a pilgrim running across a stream and through the woods. This run has great mountain and lake views. Come out and burn those holiday calories. Take a break from your Christmas shopping and get out to Bonelli Park for a fun filled holiday run, you won't be sorry you did.
I do most of my trail runs here so I know this route really well and this is the one fall race I plan on running hard. I want to shave a few minutes off my 10K PR here. I'm thinking around 50 minutes. I hope! Jason, my coach, thinks I have a good shot at getting close.

*The Death Valley Trail Marathon on December 3rd in Death Valley, CA. Never mind that Death Valley brings all kinds of hard core images to mind, this is what they have to say about this course:
This scenic wilderness trail run is on a gravel jeep road from Beatty, NV through the picturesque Titus Canyon, finishing in Death Valley (entire run is in Death Valley National Park). The desert is beautiful this time of year with mild temperatures; lows at night between 30 and 40 degrees and highs during the day from the low-60s to mid-70s. This is our most spectacular trail event of the year and well worth the weekend away. Truly, an experience you won't forget. The event is limited to 300 participants and sells out months in advance so don't wait too long to register!
Oh, and this little blurb about the small hills in it. ;)
The trail marathon starts at 3460 feet of elevation. It climbs to 4900 feet over the first nine miles then descends 500 feet before climbing to the highest point on the course at 5250 feet of elevation. The last 14 miles are DOWNHILL to the finish line at 250 feet.
That is going to be some downhill! I think that's scarier than the climbing! I think it will be fun and I know one person who's signed up for it so a meet-up will be an added bonus. This will be used as a long training run with support for the last race of the year...

*And finally, the New Year's One Day 12 Hour run on December 31st in San Francisco, CA. The 12 Hour starts at noon and finishes at midnight. Here's what they have to say about this one:
Each lap is 1.061 miles around the lagoon at Crissy Field with spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Angel Island, Alcatraz and the San Francisco Bay. Welcome the new year at Crissy Field, run from 2010 through to 2011 surrounded by the beautiful views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the coastline. You might even get to see the fireworks!
I cannot believe I signed up for a 12 Hour run! The longest I've ever run before was 5:12 and that was my 1st marathon. Funny thing is, I'm not scared. I'm a little excited!

This "race" was inspired by 2 people: my friend Kylie and Joshua Holmes (@bayou) from Run It Fast.

Kylie ran the Nanny Goat 24HR race at the end of May and just posted her recap of it. She's a multi-ironwoman and she's one of the toughest runners/cylcists I know. I saw her complete Vineman despite having some major stomach issues! She'd never run more than 40 miles in one day when she signed up for this and ended up doing 100 miles. The Nanny Goat has a similar format to the New Year's One Day and I liked the logistics of it. If I can't get anyone to come up to San Francisco with me, then I'll be able to do it self-supported since it's a loop course.

I followed Joshua Holmes as he ran the Vol State 500K. No, that's not a typo. He ran 500K in 8 days, 7 minutes! You can read his recap here.>. I've been following him for a while and was amazed at how many marathons he was running. I was like “how does he do that?” and then I saw that he was doing the Vol State 500K and his status got bumped up to “superhero”. Seeing his daily posts on Facebook and Twitter was a lot of fun and it got me thinking about how far I could go. By the way, he not only ran 500K but he also raised over $6000 for mycharity:water while doing it. I think his you can still make donations to it if you would like to see clean water provided to a few more people! This is the link.

So after hearing about the incredible journeys that these two took, I decided to go for the 12 Hour run instead of the 6 Hour. 2011 has been an incredible year for me so far and I only see more adventure and fun for the rest of the year. I plan on ending 2011 with a bang!

Are you going to ring in the New Year with a run? Might as well start the year off on the right foot (or left one), eh?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Cheating on the Long Run

"You have to have confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through." ~Rosalynn Carter
Saturday was my last 20 miler before the Santa Rosa Marathon. Jason, my coach, asked me to run the last 8 miles at marathon pace (around a 9:00 mile). Seeing as how I love long runs, I was really looking forward to it. And it turned out pretty well:

20.46 miles 9:47 pace with the last 8 miles @9:05 pace

I left at 4 am and ran along my usual route which is one of the main roads here (also a major bike route). I like to go early because there are less cars and I don't have to stop for so many lights since they are usually green. There are actually quite a few people out at that time. As it gets lighter, I get to share the road with cyclists and I usually see the LBS boys while I'm running (sometimes more than once) who are always good for a little pick me up and encouragement! Plus, who doesn't like to see a group of guys ride by on kick-ass bikes? Oh wait, that' probably just me. ;) Oh come on, I'm single. I can look without guilt!

Anyway...since I live in the foothills, I don't have any trouble finding hills to run but this route isn't too bad. This is an elevation profile from one of my runs on this route.What I like about this run is that the last 8 miles are mostly downhill. And sometimes I even get a tailwind (not this run though).

This route sets me up quite nicely to hit my goal pace. I have to do some work before that, of course, and that steady hill right before the 8 miles gets my legs a bit tired but overall it's a fun run. After reading Matt Fitzgerald's Run-The Mind/Body Method of Running by Feel, I learned that 3 of the most important factors when training are enjoyment, confidence, and psychological momentum. Basically, it means to have fun on your runs and do workouts that will give you confidence and you will create psychological momentum that things are going well and will continue to do so. That confidence and psychological momentum will carry you forward to your race so you can be in a position to do your best. For example, if you love tempo runs and you feel like you accomplished your goals when you do more of them. Same with long runs. Do what you love and you'll have fun and run better and get better. It's a win-win situation!

Still, I felt a little guilty that those last 8 miles had a downhill in them so I had to confess to Jason about how I "cheated" on my long runs! Luckily, he was good with it. :)

What's funny is that when I start out my long runs, I often think there's no way I can do 20 miles and hit my marathon pace at the end. And how am I ever going to do it during a whole marathon! But when I finish the run, I think "Yeah, I can do this." and that tells me that the workout was a good one and that it fits the 3 "rules" above of a good workout for my goal.

I've found that confidence is a huge factor in my not feeling anxious before a race. Sure, I'm a little nervous. If you aren't a little nervous, it means you aren't willing to stretch and risk failing. But it feels so good to get to the starting line and know you've done all you need to do to reach your goals. That, my friends, is worth it's weight in gold.

3 weeks and counting now...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Interval Fun

For today's running workout, my coach Jason wanted me to run 8 miles with 5x2’ intervals @ 7:45 pace with 2 minute rests between them. It was a little warm this morning and a lot muggy so I thought about pushing the workout off until Thursday when it's supposed to be cooler but I decided to go for it. I was completely soaked when I got home but it was a great run. I'm glad I didn't push it off. These are the paces for each interval:

1 – 7:54
2 – 7:44
3 – 7:39
4 – 7:41
5 – 7:46

I didn't think about pushing it off because I'm afraid to work hard. There's nothing I love more than working hard. I thought about pushing it off because I wanted to give myself every advantage to hit the target pace that Jason had set down for me and have fun doing it. The more fun I have, the more I want to run. And I knew it would be a confidence builder to hit that target pace. Still, sometimes I have to ask myself if I'm being lazy or if I really need to move a workout to another day. I felt good this morning so the intervals were on!

The first one was a little rough but then I settled in and it was easier to hit the target pace or at least get close to it. The thing I love about working with Jason is that he gives me guidelines about what he expects out of my workout but he also gives me some leeway. So if I'm feeling really good, it's okay if I go a little faster than expected. If I'm not feeling it, then I could slow the pace down or extend the rest between. He also wants me to feel good about the workout. Thank goodness!

The other thing that I love about working with Jason is that the speed work he gives me is based on time, whether it's intervals like this, fartleks sprinkled throughout, or hill sprints. I don't have access to a track so all of my speed work is done on the bike trail. I could use my Garmin I suppose but I really hate running in circles over the same small section for say 400s or 800s. It's not so bad with 1200s or 1600s but it gets kind of boring otherwise. But with speed work based on time, I can run out and back or meander about and still get them in. Sometimes they aren't even because I may have a slight uphill or a tailwind for one and a headwind for another but at least it’s never boring though! And anyway, most races are on the road or the trail so you have differences like that anyway.

Whatever it is about time based intervals, it’s working for me. I think I'll keep on doing them that way. If you’re reading this Jason…please don't torture me with 400s or 800s. That's all I ask.