Sunday, January 29, 2012

Wild Horse Half Marathon Race Report

Today I ran my first trail race of the year. And also my first Animal Race. And so it begins!!!

The race was in Chula Vista which is south of San Diego so I drove down last night and stayed in a hotel. It was kind of a last minute decision but I think it was best since it would have been a 2.5 hour drive and I had to be there by 6am to pick up my bib.

I woke up this morning at 4:30 and had my regular pre-race breakfast - Gu Brew, 2 mini bagels, and a banana. I put my gear on, packed up and headed out by 5:25. It took me about 25 minutes to get there and I beat the traffic into the lake parking lot. I checked in and got my bib and then went back to the car to keep warm. I realized right before we started that I'd forgotten to bring a gel with me. I didn't panic though because I'd filled my small UD bottle w/Gu Brew and figured that would be enough. And then it was time to race!

The Race
The RD's assistant sent us off in 2 waves. The 10 min per mile or faster wave and then the ones who'd said they would be slower than 10 min miles. I chose to be in the second wave with the "slow-pokes" and "trail snails" (per the assistant who included himself in that group so nobody hit him. ;) ). I wasn't sure how I would run this since I have the 50K on Saturday.

It was a little crowded going out. We started off on a gravel road for a little less than a mile and then it was single track. I wasn't feeling very aggressive so I didn't try and pass too many people. The single track was pretty smooth, it had some rocks and roots but not like I've been on. This was a plus because at one point I was in the middle of big train of runners and I couldn't see around the runner in front of me to see what was coming. I learned to listen to his footsteps and when he hit a rock or something, I prepped for it.

The "train" lasted until around mile 6 and then it opened up at the aid station. I took advantage of not stopping and took off so I'd have some breathing room. After that, I passed quite a few people. I was feeling good and decided I wanted to run my own pace and not everyone else's. This worked out great and was a lot of fun.

The course was a T shape and when we got back to top of the T, they sent us out on the patch that included the "hills". They weren't long or very steep so I had fun on them. A lot of people were walking them and I passed them as well. Towards the end of the T, there was a swampy part that had a wood bridge over it (we crossed quite a few of these but most were shorter). There were people going in both directions and I had to stop and wait for my chance to get through. It was muddy going over and I had to take it slow because my shoes (New Balance WT110s) were a slippery on it. Other than that, my shoes performed beautifully and I loved them.

There was more passing of people on the way back to the top of the T. It was starting to get pretty warm but I was still feeling really good. Once we got back to the T, there was hardly anyone around and I let myself fly. Which is, of course, when I tripped! But I didn't fall. So there. Lisa 1 Trail 0. Ha! I reminded myself not to lose it now and kept going. Passed some more people. Which I have to say is a lot of fun. I just picked a person in front of me and ran them down like a coyote after a rabbit. ;)

I heard my Garmin beep at mile 13 and knew I just had a little more, but didn't know exactly how much more. I remembered reading that the course was long. Well, it turned out to be 13.71 per my garmin and that gave me enough time to catch a few more guys and then one last woman right before the finish line. The announcer warned her that I was coming up on her fast but she either didn't care or was too tired. That last .71 was at 8:34 pace. Not a bad finish kick, if I do say so myself. :)

I finished, got my medal, my hoodie & beanie, and got some water. They had no post race food there which was a bummer but I'd packed my usual snacks so grabbed a bar. There was a post race party at The Corner in San Diego and I decided to check it out. They weren't posting results at the race, only at The Corner. The Corner was also where you would pick up one last piece of swag...a beer glass.
It was packed there and took a while to get food. It was pretty good, especially the bacon! I waited around until 11:30 and the RD still hadn't shown up (they said they would be there by 10:30). I had a 2 hour drive back home and lots to do (plus a massage later) so I decided to leave. So I don't know what my official time was or what my place was in my age group. And I won't find out until they are posted on the web...on Wednesday. Boo!

Final Thoughts
The course was awesome. I loved it. Lots of variety. One technical section that we went through twice (and I walked both times). The trail was well groomed. I loved the hills and flying through the trees. The views of the lake were awesome and the day was gorgeous! Really, a perfect run on a perfect day. I think if I can get better at technical, get more assertive with passing, and get better at bombing the downhills, I could shave some time off. I didn't run this one all out because I wasn't wiped at the end, but I still ran hard.

This was the inaugural running of the Wild Horse Half Marathon. I think they did a pretty good job for their first race there. However, since it wasn't their first race ever, I think they could have been a little more organized. I would rather have had food there than say the beanie and beer glass. The Corner was really crowded and you had to wait a long time for food. Also, it was weird that you had to go to The Corner for overall and age group prizes. And that if you didn't go, you didn't get your prize! So that meant the fast men and women who finished before way before 9 had to wait until after 11:30 to get their awards? Doesn't that seem excessive? The course cut-off was 3 hours so everyone should have been "done' by 10:05, at least as far as timing goes. But those were the only 2 things I would have liked changed. Not that I was in the running for a prize but it would have been fun to see them handed out.

Well, that's it for now. Thanks for reading! Hope you all had a fabulous weekend too. Did you race? How did you do?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Run Commuting - I'm Not A Virgin Anymore

I'd heard about run commuting before. I've seen articles about it and I thought it sounded good I just didn't know how I could do it. It seemed like the people who did it were hard core runners and I didn't put myself in that category. I live 5.5 miles from work (as the crow flies) but my safest route is about 6.2 miles. I knew I could run to work. But could I run home from work too?

I have been putting in a lot of miles though and I thought I could do it. I just needed to figure out the logistics. It rained today and I didn't want to ride my bike to work in the rain. It's not that I mind riding in the rain so much. It's more the cleanup after and the mess it makes (since I keep my bike in my apartment). I have to wipe my bike down, lube the chain, dry off my helmet & dry out my shoes, gloves, jacket, etc. I especially don't like doing it when I get home from work. Not my idea of relaxing when I get home. And while there is some clean up after running in the rain, it's not as bad. When you have a lot of shoes and running gear, it makes it a lot easier. See, I knew those purchase would pay off. Ha! ;)

So the rain was a great incentive to try it. I dropped off clothes and food at work on Sunday. Figured out how I could use my Nathan Hydration Pack to carry the rest of my stuff to work. Knew what route I would take. I was good to go.

The best part of the run commute was that I got to sleep in until 5 am! Woo! Got up, took care of business, showered than did a warm up and a Myrtle to loosen up. Loaded my pack, and headed out. It was still dark and there was a light rain but not as bad as it was on Saturday. The morning run was pretty uneventful. I felt good and the pack was pretty comfortable. I have to say that it was a LOT less stressful running to work than riding, even with part of my commute on the bike trail. The personal spiffing up when I got to work wasn't anything I wasn't used to from my bike commutes. I wasn't tired either, just hungry. :) So the morning half of the commute was a success!

I made sure I ate really well during the day. The bean & cheese burrito for lunch might not have been the best idea but the bike trail was empty so I don't think I offended anyone. Oops! ;) But the good news is that I felt good for my run home and it was uneventful too. I think being able to say that means that I'm ready for them, don't you?

Before I left, one of my coworkers said "Have to run home, huh? Bet you don't feel like doing that at the end of the day?" Gotta love negative people, eh? But I said no, it wasn't any different than riding my bike home after work. And it really wasn't. Except it took longer, of course. I started running in the morning because I didn't really have motivation to run after my ride home from work. It was much easier to get it done in the morning without the temptation of ditching it because I was tired. But it isn't so bad running at night when it's your only option to get home!

Would I do it again? Definitely. In fact, I probably won't wait for the next time it rains. I might start doing this once a week. Maybe a couple of times a week as I train for my 50 miler and then my 100 miler. So I'm not a run commuting virgin anymore! I think my first time was a success and I look forward to many more. :)

P.S. Have you ever heard Poe...the singer not the poet? I love her stuff. I like to run to her songs and they are great fun on road trips. Um, they might be better for women only road trips. She has this song called Not A Virgin from her album Haunted which is fun/funny.

I'm not a virgin anymore
I just thought you should know
Darlin' I've been around
Yeah, I've been up and down your block
In fact, I have been all over town...

This always makes me smile especially when I hear it on long runs, because yeah...I have been all over town. But note to self: Don't sing this song out loud when running by a group of guys. That's why you get strange looks sometimes. Sigh. ;)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Weekend Wandering

I ran long both Saturday and Sunday again. I'm out of control! Seriously, I'm choosing running over riding. I didn't ride my beloved Shark at all this weekend and I'm not planning on riding to work tomorrow either. Gasp! I know. But don't worry, I'm not driving. I'm going to run to work. Yep, I'm going to try run commuting!

But back to the weekend...

On Saturday, I ran 24.5 miles. I was going to run 20ish but then the forecast called for rain and I didn't feel like riding in the rain so I decided to fill my Saturday morning with a really long run and make it 24. Then since I ran 4.5 miles on Friday, I had to add .5 to Saturday's run because I just can't end the week with an extra half mile. It's weird, I know. So that was the plan.

I actually thought I might get to start before the rain started but when I walked out the door, it was already raining. So I went back in and grabbed my Brooks jacket and then headed out. It wasn't too bad except when I ran into the wind (which was cold). My feet got soaked right away because all the north/south streets turn to rivers when it rains. Not fun but what can you do? The only bad part was that I wore my thin gloves and my hands got so cold that by the time I went to take my second gel, they were numb and I had a heck of time opening it. I changed my route so I could go by my apartment and switch them out.

When I stopped at my apartment, I changed my gloves and my jacket too. I knew it would get wet right away but it was nice to feel a little bit warm and dry. I was also at a food/electrolyte time so I grabbed a handful of pretzels. That worked out really well since I didn't want to carry them in the rain and I only had gels on me. I wanted to test out some changes in nutrition on this run and try taking gels/food and S Caps a little sooner than I normally do. This went really well and I had no stomach issues before or after. Woo!

So, I did the whole 24.5 as planned. I briefly thought of just going for 26.2 but decided not to push it. I felt pretty good at the end. What's funny is that my mind plays games on me during my long runs. If you're this tired at 15 miles, there's no way you can do 24.5. Same thing happens at 20 or whatever, the next step is. The funny thing is that the level of tiredness isn't more at 20 or 24 than it is at 15. Or, I get a second wind. Or the whole horse heading to the barn thing kicks in. Whatever it is, I've found that if you just keep going, you'll be fine.

On Sunday, I ran 13.2 miles in the morning and then another 4.5 in the evening. I didn't eat anything before or during the morning run. No carbs at all, just water. This was a pretty good run. I wasn't too tired and I'm getting used to running in a carb depleted state like this. I do this to try and simulate running through a bonk. I would say I bonked a little but it wasn't a slogfest so I'm happy. There was a beautiful sunrise to distract me. The lingering clouds from yesterday's storm caught the sun and set the sky on fire. Very cool.

It's supposed to rain again tomorrow and I have no desire to ride to work in it. Or home after. The cleanup is just too much. Wiping down my bike, lubing the chain, drying out all my gear...not fun. I had lunch with my grandpa today and on the way home, I stopped at work and dropped off clothes and food for tomorrow so I can run to work in the morning and only carry the essentials. I'm probably going to use my Nathan Hydration Vest without the bladder to carry my stuff. It will be interesting to see how it goes. Wish me luck!

My feet did a lot of wandering this weekend but so did my fingers. On Saturday, I signed up for my 1st 100 Miler! Holy crap! I'm in for the Javelina Jundred in Arizona in October! It will be fun. I think. ;) I already talked to my sister and I added the camping permit to my registration so we can camp there that weekend. Luckily, they have a 5/6 person tent. My nephew, Max, says he's in. Ha, he wants to go this weekend!

It's also only 11 days til I leave for Tennessee! I've been researching places that I want to visit. I think my sister would kick my butt if I visited Graceland before she does so I might not go there but I do want to visit Beale Street, see the ducks at the Peabody Hotel, and check out Elmwood Cemetery. Or, I'll just wander around while I'm there. Who knows...I may see Elvis.

Hope you all had a great weekend!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I'm 3! Happy Running Birthday To Me!

January 18th is my running birthday. I started running on that date in 2009 so I'm only 3 and still a toddler as far as running goes. I've learned a lot so far but I have a lot more to learn.

When I weighed 300 pounds, I felt I was carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. I wasn't happy at all. I know that being overweight isn't the end of the world but you just don't know how awful it feels. Frankly, I think those women who say they are happy weighing 100+ lbs more than should are full of crap. Seriously, if you love yourself, don't treat yourself like shit. And being obese is not healthy no matter how much you trick yourself into thinking it is. I had no illusions. I just didn't have the will power to lose the weight.

But I finally did thanks to running & riding. I didn't enjoy it much in the beginning. It was hard and my knees & hips & feet hurt. Of course, they would when you're carrying an extra 75 pounds (the picture above was taken 2 months after I started running and the picture to the left was taken in December 2011). Eventually, it started to hurt less and I actually felt like a runner. I still didn't love it but it was doable.

Finally, about a year and half ago, I fell in love with running and thankfully the honeymoon hasn't ended. I feel incredible when I run. I feel like I'm light and fluid and strong. I feel like there's nothing I can't do.

You know, I still pinch myself sometimes to make sure I'm not dreaming. Never in a million years did I think I would love running, that I would love long runs, that I would complete 5 marathons, or that I would do a 12 HR! A flipping 12 HR! Me! The girl who weighed 300 lbs, wore a size 26/28, and used to drive to the store...half a block away!

I'm sure some people must wonder how all my runs can be so great or how I can feel good all the time. I guess they aren't always but when I compare how I feel on a bad run to how I felt 3 years ago, it's still 100 times better than it was. Who can complain about that?

And I've been so blessed by having running in my life - traveling and meeting awesome people and having all kinds of adventures - that every time I lace up my shoes it's a little bit of a celebration. A celebration of finally living the life I want. Would I do those things if I wasn't a runner. Maybe. But probably not. I didn't really take vacations before I started doing marathons. I'd go to visit my family or take time off when they came over but my vacation time would usually just build up and then I'd cash some out so I wouldn't lose it. But I'm using it now! I also hated to fly because I was always worried about fitting in the seat and being able to buckle the seat belt. And of course I didn't have the energy to walk around. Ironic that now I travel to run races and still have energy to walk for hours while I see the sights after, don't you think?

So yeah...I don't have bad running days. I may have slightly less great running days. Oh sure, I might complain that I didn't hit certain times or it's windy or it's so frickin cold my finger are numb (hey, I'm from SoCal, I don't do cold!). But I'll take those days over the spud days any day. And you have my permission to kick my butt if you see me forgetting that.

So what am I going to do to celebrate my 3rd running birthday? Why, sign up for a race of course! Registration opens for the Disney Half in October and I'm signing up for it so I can run with Teal, Beth, and Emily. AND...I'm seriously considering signing up for my 1st 100 miler! I really, really want to do the Javelina Jundred in October. I already talked to my sister about coming to help crew for me and she said yes. It's in Phoenix and close to where my sister lives. In fact, I think they've gone camping there with the kids. I think it would be a blast. Check out this video to see what it's like. Looks fun, right?

Thanks for celebrating with me and following me as I grow up as a runner/ultrarunner. :) Woo! I'm an ultrarunner! Woo! Sorry, I'm still a little excited about that. :) Ultrarunner...flipping insane! Am I dreaming?

When did you start running? Do you mark the date? What do you do to celebrate?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Unexpected Long Run

I ran 22.22 miles on Saturday. I was only supposed to do 9. The plan was to run 9 miles and get some hill work in and then ride for a total of around 4 hours running/riding. I knew before I left for the run that I would probably do 10 because that's how long the route I picked is. I fueled up before I left and took a couple of gels with me. One to take on the run and one for a backup. Just in case. I've dropped them before so you never know when you'll need a replacement!

When I got to the 6 mile point, I should have turned right and headed back but I decided to keep going up the hill. I had never run all the way to the top before and Saturday felt like a good day to do it. When I hit the top, my garmin said 8 miles (3 miles total for that hill...woo!). I should have turned around and gone back down & I'd be at 14 miles for the day but I went left instead. At the bottom of this loop, I did head a good girl. This would have put me a little over 17 miles, I think.

So, I was running along, feeling pretty good, and lo and opportunity to go uphill again. Yep, you guessed it. I took the long way home. :) One more hill couldn't hurt, right? I was still feeling good. This wasn't straight up like the first but more of a zigzag. It went well but towards the end, I was running out of steam. I'd contemplated going 24 miles but decided that might be pushing it a little. So I turned when I was supposed to and finished at 22.22 miles. I'm not sure why, but it just seemed like a good number to finish at. Not 22 even. Just had to push myself a little more.

I felt good after. Legs were a little tight but nothing major. I did a Myrtl in the afternoon and that helped loosen them up. I also rode over to REI to spend my gift card (10 miles round trip) and that helped even more.

I am very, very happy with how well I've recovered from the 12 HR. I would normally take a week off after a marathon but I didn't even do that! Wild, don't you think? If you'd told me a year ago that I would be running 45.6 miles and then be in good enough shape to run 22, I'd have said you were nuts. Mostly about the 1st part but it would have been inconceivable to even think I'd be running within 2 weeks, let alone doing long runs! But you just don't know what you are capable of until you test yourself!

Oh, by the way...I got my coaster from the 12 HR. It has my name and mileage on it and it is very cool! I love it. No way am I using it for anything. It's just for looks.

It's now just 2 weeks until the Wild Horse Half and 3 weeks until the Jackson Jackass 50K. I'm very excited about both. I think I will be ready to run them for sure. I cannot wait! I sure hope the next few weeks fly by. You'd think long runs would have taught me patience, but no. I'm worse than a kid waiting for summer vacation or Christmas. I want it NOW. :)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Fear is a Four Letter Word

Yes, fear is a 4 letter word but I don't necessarily think fear is a bad thing. There are some things I'm afraid of that I think make my life better & less stressful:

I'm afraid of gaining back the 150 lbs I lost. - This keeps me...vigilant. If clothes start feeling snug, I put the brakes on right away and refocus on my calorie input/output til I'm back on track. I'm much happier being a lean, mean running machine than not so this is good.

I'm afraid of going into debt again. - I pay cash. If I don't have the money, I don't buy it. Period. Life is way better when you don't have to worry about paying your bills. Seriously.

I'm afraid of Lethal Lefties - This is the term I gave cars making left turns in front of me. I've been afraid of them ever since I was hit by a car a few years back while riding. It doesn't stop me from riding but it has made me much, much more cautious and if I see a car turning or at a stop sign I ALWAYS make sure they make eye contact with me before going in front of them. No eye contact means I let them go first. Saved my hide more times than I can count since then.

Then there are some things that I'm afraid of that probably don't make my life better.

I'm afraid of having my heart broken again. - My "solution" to this was to not let men into my life like that. I haven't let anyone into my heart in 5 years. I know. This is not a good thing. But if you only knew how many bad, bad, bad choices I've made. Seriously messed up choices. In a way, it's been more fun since I decided men are off limits. I'm more relaxed now & more myself when I meet someone because I automatically put them in the friend category. But I honestly don't know what will happen if I ever meet someone who's really interested in more than fun. Sigh.

I'm afraid of fish. - Okay, yeah, that's just weird. It doesn't actually prevent me from doing anything but it creeps me out to go swimming in the ocean or rivers/lakes, etc. Hello? Have you seen Piranha? I still swim in the ocean. Just with my eyes closed. Mostly. Makes it hard to swim in a straight line.

Anyway...I've been thinking about fear because I finally...finally signed up for the Old Goat 50 Mile Trail Race in March. It has over 12,000 feet of climbing. I've never done that much and have no concept of what it will be like. I guess it was a little bit of the fear of the unknown that kept me from signing up for it. But when I really thought about it, it was actually the fear of failure, of a DNF that kept me from filling out the entry form. I had to ask myself why. Was it because I didn't think I could do it? Was it because I was afraid of what people would think? Was I afraid of feeling like a failure? I decided none of those were good enough reasons to try. So I'm in. And I'm excited about it!

And signing up for the Old Goat 50 got me thinking about doing the 24 Hour at the Nanny Goat instead of the 12 Hour. And that got me thinking about doing my 1st 100 miler this year! Which also completely freaks me out. And again it's mostly for the same reasons I didn't sign up for the Old Goat 50. Honestly, I know that I'm the one putting the most pressure on myself. That as long as I train and work hard and really, really give it my all on race day...then whatever happens, happens and I should be good with it. What can I say, it's the perfectionist in me. ;) But okay...I'm saying it...if I can find one that I can fit into my budget and schedule, I'll go for it. So far, Javelina Jundred is looking like a good option. :)

So fear isn't always a bad thing. As long as it doesn't prevent you from doing the things you want to do. As long as you keep moving forward and don't stand still or slide backwards.
"You see something scary, you should stand up and step toward it, not away from it. Instinctively, reflexively, in a raging fury." ~LEE CHILD, Echo Burning

One last thing. I may be the only woman running in the race I'm doing on Feb 4th. I have to say that I'm intrigued by the idea. You would think I would have some fear or anxiety about this. But, no. I cannot wait! It's going to be a blast! However, I may or may not be packing my most girly running attire. Gotta represent all the running chicks, ya know? :)

Is there anything you're afraid of? Anything stopping you from doing something epic?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wordless Wednesday 1-11-12

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. ~Alexander Pope

Old Goat 50 Mile Trail Race Elevation Profile

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Southern California Half Marathon Recap

This isn't really a race recap because I didn't "race" it. I thought about it but I hadn't recovered from last weekend's 12HR yet and thought I needed to take it easy.

I had planned on just going to watch the race because @DiminutiveRunr was going to be in town and racing it. Since she lives in London, I didn't want to miss the opportunity to meet her. She told me that there was no cap on the race and that she was going to register on race day. I didn't want to sign up for it early in case I couldn't run but if I could sign up on race day, then I had nothing to lose. I'd just see how I felt on the day.

I felt okay on Friday night. I figured I would be slowish but good to run a Half. It's crazy to think that I can pull a Half Marathon out of the hat whenever I want. Maybe not race, but running 13.1 is actually a lot of fun. You feel like you put in a good effort but you're not wiped from it.

So, on Saturday morning, I woke up at 4 and got ready to drive to Irvine. It's about an hours drive for me...if there's no traffic. The race started at 8 but I had to register first and stop at the bank and get gas (yeah, I didn't plan that too well) so I left about 5:20. I arrived a little after 6:30 and registered, got my bib, chip, & shirt and went back to the car to get ready and stay warm.

I went back to registration just before 7:30 to hit the porta potty...for the 2nd time that morning! (I seriously had to go all day. What's up with that?) Then waited at the meeting point for @DiminutiveRunr. Found her! I got to meet both her and her husband! Finally, a face to go with the name. She's actually in disguise because she's a super spy and I'm not allowed to reveal her name! Seriously. 007 type, for sure. ;)

Once we met up, we made our way over to the start corral which was crowded but not too bad. The race started a little after 8 and then we were off. At a nice, easy pace. The course meandered along the streets and river trails of Irvine. It had a lot of zig zagging in it and a few out & back sections (where I caught glimpses of @DiminutiveRunr). It's not the most beautiful course but it's not bad. Some of it was familiar to me from rides along the river trail.

I felt good until mile 10. I'd meant to take a gel about half way but I'd left it in the car and only had water to drink. I don't like Gatorade, which is what they had at the aid stations. So I had a drop in energy around there. Never walked but slowed down a little. I kept myself occupied with watching the runners around me. There were a lot of kids running the Half as prep for the LA Marathon & the Students Run LA program. There was a mentor and a student running near me and she kept asking if she could walk. He told her if she kept running, he would let her walk during mile 14. ;) I told her it was a good deal and she should take it. Then somebody spoiled it by reminding her we were only running 13 miles. Spoilsport! But she didn't walk!

Then I was at the finish and my first race of 2012 was done in a not too shabby 2:11:56. Frankly, I thought I would be out of commission for 7-10 days after the 12HR so to be running at all is mind boggling and a half marathon...doubly so. Wild! This is my medal:

Overall, I would say this was an okay race. I found water after the finish but never figured out where the food was, if they had any. The course has small "hills" while going from the bike trail to the street. I didn't really like all the turns & out & backs but it did give you a chance to see friends if you were running with them. Registration was smooth and the aid stations seemed well stocked (though I never used them). There was good crowd support at the start/finish but it got a little sparse in places. The volunteers were all from Woodbridge High School and they did a great job and were very cheerful. Actually, for $55, it's a pretty good deal. :)

So...I had a great day. Ran a Half, felt good, and met one of my twitter friends in person (who did really well despite jet lag and came soooo close to her 2 hour goal!). Pretty darn good way to spend a Saturday, don't you think?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Goals and Race Plans for 2012

I say Race Plan but it's more like my Fun Plan for 2012! My goals for 2012 are:

*Have fun!!!
*Run on dirt more.
*Run races with the names of animals in them.

Not all of the races I have planned fit that last goal but it was surprisingly easy to find a lot that did. Here's what I’ve signed up for so far:
1/7 – Southern California Half Marathon (w/my 007 friend from London so I can't tell you her name!)
1/28 – Wild Horse Half Marathon
2/4 – Jackson Jackass 50K (w/TN tweeps! Oh yeah!)
4/22 – Foxy Run Half Marathon

I also plan on signing up for these races as soon as I get the funds/registration opens:
2/26 – La Jolla Canyon 50K
3/24 – Old Goat 50 Miler
5/26 – Nanny Goat 12/24 Hour
6/10 – Cougar Run Half Marathon
7/4 – Firecracker 5000
8/4 – E.T. Full Moon 51K <-- not an animal name but still good for a SciFi geek (w/Kristie! Woo!)
9/29 – Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon (w/Teal & Beth! Woo!)
10/14 – Raptor Ridge Half Marathon (Dirt Devil Series)
11/18 – Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey (w/lots of tweeps)
11/24 – San Dimas Turkey Trot 10K
12/8 – Coyote Ridge 50K <-- I HAVE to do this one! Come on!

I was also invited to do a Ragnar Relay in WA in July w/ my friend Toni but I don't know if I can do it though I would love to. I also need to get to TX sometime in the fall or winter, preferably for a flat, fast marathon so I can maybe get that sub4 goal. And there's no guarantee I'll get into the Flying Monkey (please cross your fingers for me). I won't know the fate of that one until August. If I don't get in, I might replace it with a 100K…which should be easier than the Flying Monkey!!!

The Old Goat 50 Miler scares the crap out of me so I haven't gathered up the courage to sign up for that one yet. There is another 50 Miler I could do that's easier. But it doesn't have an animal name and well, that would be a cop out to do something/not do something because I'm afraid, wouldn't it? The elevation profile"

So that's it so far. Luckily, I should be paying my car off this summer so it will free up some funds for race fees/traveling. The only traveling/overnighters on the list are the JJ50K, ET, HHFM, & CR. The rest are local or San Diego so still one day. I will probably throw in some other local 5K/10K races when I can.

January is my last month with Jason and after that I'm on my own. I'm going to miss his advice and letting him figure out what I need to do but I think it will be good for me to be out on my own for a while.

I cannot wait to experience all that 2012 has in store for me. It's going to be a good year. :)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Years One Day Random Thoughts

You know what's weird? I'm not sure I really have that many random thoughts about the 12 Hour race! You'd think that there would be a lot for 12 hours of running (and walking) but yeah, not so much.

But away we go...

*Once again, I am amazed at how well I'm recovering! I was limping all day Sunday but walking normally on Monday. I went to the movies with my mom and her boyfriend on Monday night (Sherlock Holmes) and they made me walk to see how well I was doing and they were floored I wasn't limping. :) I think though it's because I did so much walking that night and then did some walking on Sunday.

*There were 2 things I obsessed over on Saturday. The 1st was that I'd left my Abominable Snowman lip balm in my hotel room. It was really, really windy (not Death Valley windy but close! ;) )when we were on the side by the water and it was a cold wind. It was like that the whole night and I was worried that my lips would get chapped. I had to keep reminding myself not to lick my lips so that wouldn't happen. It didn't happen though so I was good.

*The 2nd thing I obsessed over was this one spot on the paved side that I kept tripping over. It took me about 35 laps to figure out where that spot was so I could anticipate it and not trip. Yes, I tripped every lap until then. Finally, I figured out it was by the bench where I'd stopped to tie my shoe and after that I avoided it but I had to pay attention for it!

*Okay, there were 3 things...I think I mentioned that I missed my Garmin in my race recap. I can't tell you how many times I looked at my right wrist to check pace and/or distance. I also "pushed" the stop button numerous times when I stopped! I obviously had Phantom Garmin Syndrome. This tells me I need to run naked more often.

*I thought I was really, really slow and I would be pretty low on the finish list. I was surprised to find myself here:
That's out of 57 so better than I thought. And I was 2nd in my age group! Wild, eh?

*I have to confess that I checked to see how Mr. Negative did in the results...he finished 14 laps. Yes, I smiled smugly when I saw that. If that makes me a bad person, so be it.

*I didn't have any blisters at all on my feet! I'm shocked. My nail polish (Racing Green - awesome name for Green nail polish, don't you think?) didn't rub off and I don't think I'll lose any toenails either. Heh.

*I am still a little shocked that I did this. I'll be in the middle of something and I'll remember and I just start smiling. People must think I'm nuts. Well, okay, I know my coworkers/friends/family think I'm nuts. I'm talking about random strangers who see me in these moments. I don't care though. I hope I never lose this feeling of satisfaction & happiness that I get from running!

*IF I had run 50 miles, I was going to get a tattoo. But I didn't so that will have to wait. Instead, I'm celebrating by going to Tennessee in February! Woo! I can't wait! :) I think that is darn good present to myself for completing the 12 Hour. Don't you think?

Okay, that's it. I can't think of anything else so I'll wrap this up. Catch you all later.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Years One Day 12 Hour Recap

I am an ultrurunner! Woo!

On Saturday, I ran the New Years One Day 12 Hour in San Francisco. It was my first race longer than a marathon and I wanted to end the year with a bang! I had set a goal of completing 50 miles during the 12 hours which worked out to 48 laps (each lap was 1.061 miles long). I guess it was too ambitious but I really thought I could do it. I did prove to myself something very important though: I am not a quitter! So I can live with only completing 43 laps. :)

You see, that was my biggest fear going in to this. Not that something would go wrong but that I would give up and quit before the 12 hours was up. I just wanted to keep moving the whole time, preferably running, but walking if I had to.

I was nervous before the race but also ready to prove to myself that I wasn't a quitter. I was determined. They say the universe will often throw you a curve ball to make sure you really want your goal. I think it threw me one before the race even started. While I was pinning my bib on, I met a guy there also getting ready. He asked me if I was ready for this and I said yes. Then we started talking about training and he grilled me on what I'd done. Then he told me that I hadn't done enough! That 12 hours was a lot longer than my 4 hour marathon and I would be in a world of hurt. WTF? Seriously? Why would he tell me that? Hello Mr. Negative! :( But I just told him I would be fine and walked away. Instead of him planting seeds of doubt in my head, our conversation had pissed me off and made me more determined than ever. I COULD do this. I knew it.

Then in the blink of an eye, it was mere minutes to 12 and the race director gathered us at the "start" line and gave us last minute instructions. He counted us down and we were off!

I've had a really hard time writing this recap because the laps have blurred together. So instead of doing a straight recap, I'm going to highlight the things that were most important to me and stood out.

Jason and I had talked about my plan for the race. We'd talked about running 5 miles and then walking one so I ran at a leisurely pace for the first 5 miles. I felt like I was running too slow and kept checking my Garmin but I wasn't wearing it. I guess old habits die hard, eh? So I made sure my breathing was very easy and I was relaxed. However, when it came time to walk the mile, I couldn't. I'd gone through Pit Road (the aid station) after lap 5 so I walked while I ate the food I'd grabbed but I am such a slow walker, it's depressing. So once I finished what I'd grabbed, I started running again. Then I debated with myself on what run/walk I could live with and I finally settled on 9 minutes running/1 minute walking. I set the interval timer on my watch and that's pretty much what I stuck too. The only time I veered from that was when I went thru Pit Road and then I gave myself a few extra minutes to grab food and walk while I ate it. I kept this up until about 9:30 when I couldn't run anymore.

Looking back, I think I ran those first miles too slow. I should have run them a little faster but started walking right away. I think. Anyway, I would do that for the next one.

I think I did pretty well with this. My plan was to only go thru Pit Road at the top of every hour, give or take a few minutes. I started off with Gu before the race but for some reason, my stomach had issues right away. Nothing major, but it was a little gurgley. When I went through Pit Road for the first time around 1pm, I refilled my water bottle and grabbed pretzels and a PB&J square. They went down and stayed down but I felt like I had to go to the bathroom. I should have just gone but I stubbornly decided to wait and see if it would go away.

Finally, around 3pm, I hit the porta-potties and then I felt better. After that, I could eat anything and I was good. You name it, I probably had it on Saturday: pb&j sandwiches, pretzels, M&Ms, oreo cookies, ginger snaps, brownie, peanut butter pretzels, cinnamon roll, chips, and boiled potatoes. I loved the pb&j sandwiches and the boiled potatoes the best. The pretzels were my staple thru every pass too. I didn't grab a lot, only a handful each time.

I was pleasantly surprised with how well my stomach did with all this considering it hadn't been happy at the start. The only other time I had a problem was after the last stop. There was pizza and I'd been craving meat for a couple of hours so I grabbed a slice of the pepperoni & sausage. It was cold but it tasted really good. I think the crust was too thick though because it sank like a stone but since I was walking by that time, it didn't really affect me.

I had some surprises with hydration as well. I carried my small Ultimate Direction bottle filled with water the whole time. I'd planned on only drinking water throughout since I was eating calories. But for a few hours, from around 5 to 8pm, I was drinking lots of water (enough that I had to go to the bathroom again and let me tell you, porta potties are not fun in the dark) but I was still super, super thirsty. Water wasn't cutting it and I couldn't figure out what to do. Finally, when I went through Pit Road around 8ish, they had some Orange Crush and I tried it and that seemed to satisfy my thirst better. After that, I had Orange Crush or Sprite at every stop. Thirst gone!

Feeling Loopy
Like I said, I think I did a good job with nutrition and hydration but there were a couple of times when I got a little loopy. I don't remember what lap the first time was, I just remember that I started going a little crooked when I ran/walked and had to focus on keeping straight. It was towards the end of a loop and I stopped early to get some food.

The second time was worse. I think part of it was that I had just started walking and was a little frustrated and also starting to get cold. But I had a really hard time keeping a straight line for a whole lap. (I tweeted about my rough patch and luckily I got a lot of encouragement - thank you tweeps!). I know I wasn't thinking straight at that point because when I got to my chair, I pulled off my jacket because I felt "hot" and did the next lap without it...and froze my ass off. But I'd grabbed food and was starting to feel better so the next time around I grabbed my jacket and never took it off again.

But other than those two loopy incidents, my energy level was really good the whole time.

Where I "failed" was my feet and my legs. I started off wearing my Merrell Trail Gloves and they felt great on the dirt but not so much on the pavement. I decided to change into my New Balance Minimus after I hit the porta potties at 3pm. I think if I had worn them the whole time, my feet would have been a little happier. Yes, they hurt but the pain never got any worse so I was fine. Actually, I was very happy with how my feet did. :)

The thing that surprised me was my left leg. It started off with my ITB feeling a little tight around 4:30/5pm. And then my left knee started hurting on the outside but I could still run. I think I changed my form though because eventually, the rest of the leg started to hurt: first my quad, then my groin, then my calf & foot. Towards the end of my running, I felt almost like I was dragging it along. :( It also got harder to get going after the walking. It would take a few minutes of running to feel comfortable. I tweeted about that too and Joshua (@bayou) replied with "be smart" and when I started getting a sharp pain in the knee, I decided it was time to walk. I tried running again a couple of times but I would either get a sharp pain or it would give out so I went back to walking. I don't know. Maybe if I'd kept running I would have eventually worked it out but I think I was afraid it would give out completely and I would have to stop and I decided walking was the lesser of the two evils. But it's done and I'm not going to second guess that decision anymore. I did what I thought was best at the time.

The funny thing is that my knee has been fine the past two days, a little stiff but fine. The things that have been giving me the post discomfort were my left foot/ankle, ITB, and quad/groin.

I think where I failed here is that I should have done runs closer to what the loop was like and practiced running in circles. I didn't do that and I think that's why I had trouble. Next time, I will train for the course better.

There was plenty to see while we were running in daylight. The views were spectacular. We had the Presidio on one corner of the loop, then a fantastic view of the Golden Gate Bridge, a great view of the bay & Alcatraz, and then a view of the city. Not only that, but it was such a beautiful day, there were tons of people out there with us: couples, families, lots of happy, wet dogs with balls & sticks & big grins, people flying kites, sail boats and para sailors on the water, a wedding party, sea birds in the inlet. I am a huge people/animal watcher so the laps passed quickly for me with all there was to see and hear. We had to do a lot of dodging during this time but I think that helped keep me focused as well.

Once the sun started to set, the crowd thinned out but then we got to see a beautiful sunset, New Years Eve partiers all dressed up, and then the Golden Gate Bridge lit up, the city lit up, and lots of stars and the moon. It was just as pretty as the day time.

And of course, there were the conversations with the other runners and sometimes people asking about what we were doing. While I walked, I read all the great tweets and emails that my friends sent. I was alone in this but not all by myself. It was a great feeling!

Mind Games
Once it was dark, there were long periods where it was just me and my thoughts. I don't remember thinking about much but putting one foot in front of the other. I kept losing track of what loop I was on and then if I happened to be walking when I crossed the timing mat, I'd look to see what lap I was on and then I'd spend the next lap trying to figure out how many miles that was. I remember laughing because I had set my ultrarunner goal at the 50K mark. When I passed that, I could consider myself an ultrarunner. Well, I totally missed it. I think I didn't check to see where I was until lap 32 and by that time it had come and gone. I'd wanted to tweet about it but missed the opportunity and then it seemed anti-climatic. But I did have a mini celebration of my own out on the course. Did a little shimmy, skipped a little, and just smiled.

I, of course, knew when I fell off pace for 50 miles but I refused to dwell on it. At that point, I just wanted to get in as many laps as I could. I'd wondered if I would feel like a loser for throwing out a big audacious goal and then not hit it but I was fine with that. I won't lie, I was disappointed. But by that time, I was happy I was still moving.

At no point did I think about stopping. Even when I was talking to other runners and they told me they were done and calling it quits. It wasn't a conscious thing. I'd just decided it was not an option so I never let that thought in.

I think a lot of what I did was on auto-pilot. Like setting my watch to beep at me when it was time to walk and when it was time to run. Like not sitting down except to change my shoes or when I ate that one slice of pizza (still made a mess and got some on my jacket...sigh) and talked to one of the 24HR guys about how he was doing (not well and I was worried about him later on the course since he was moving slower than me even!).

The Finish
Even after I started walking, I was doing a "fast" walk (curse you short legs!) but by the last lap, I knew I wouldn't be able to get in another before 12 and that lap was more of a leisurely stroll. I used that time to think about the day and all that I'd seen and felt. I wanted to savor the fact that I stayed on my feet for 12 hours. I wasn't emotional when I crossed the line. It was more of deep satisfaction. A knowing that I really had put the Lazy Lisa to rest. A happiness that it hadn't been nearly as hard physically or mentally as I thought it would be. Don't get me wrong, it was hard. But I kind of thought the whole thing would be a sufferfest and it wasn't.

In fact, while I was glad that it was done, I was already ready to do another one! Because next time, I'm going to work harder and run smarter and I'm going to run the whole damn thing! I'll be back. And maybe sooner than you think. I'm thinking of doing the Nanny Goat at the end of May which is another 12/24 HR event just a few miles from where I live. I just need to do a 50 miler before then as a "training" run.

So...the final lap count for the night was 43 and that came out to 45.6 miles. I officially became an ultrarunner in 2011. We had champagne/sparkling cider as we counted down to midnight and then watched fireworks go off over the city. It was a very, very good way to ring in the New Year. I walked the mile back to hotel in a happy daze. Mission accomplished! :)

I'll post a few more thoughts later but I think this is long enough for now. Thanks for reading!