Sunday, December 16, 2007

Finally - a solo long run that I'm proud of!

Wow - less than four weeks until Disney! I actually had a pretty good run yesterday so I'm starting to feel a little less nervous about it. Let's face it, I'm training about half as I hard as I did the first time around. I might get a couple of short runs in plus a long run and that's about it. No cross training, no strength training (except for that one class that left me in pain for days), no yoga, no short run over 4 miles, etc... My current "training plan" (if you want to call it that) is pretty bare bones.

So anyway, yesterday, I was scheduled for a 12 mile run. I could have easily done it on the nearby trail but I know the trail can get sort of monotonous after awhile so I decided to copy my long run from the last week. I ran a 4 mile loop around my neighborhood that has some decent hill work twice and then ran the last four miles with an out and back run on the trail.

And it worked out great! Normally on these long runs, I always want to cheat and take too many walking breaks but this time I was really good. I only stopped to refuel with water and/or my sport beans (thinking about using those instead of Gu). The hills were tough but I think they served as sort of a fun diversion where instead of focusing on how many miles I have left, I would focus on tackling an upcoming hill instead.

I felt I ran at a comfortable pace and even with the hills, stoplights, dodging pedestrian and car traffic, and all my refuel breaks (which I took at miles 4, 6, 8, 10, and 11), I still finished the 12 miles at a 10:57 min/mi pace. I would be thrilled to finish with that as my marathon pace! But I know... 12 miles is a big difference from 26.2.

This weekend will be my peak long run of 18 miles. I had all these grand plans to run in different locations but I have a feeling that this one will also be in LG, just like all my other long runs. It's just so convenient and it's nice to be so close to home just in case. It definitely came in handy last weekend when I was freezing at mile 10 of my 16 mile run. So I ran the mile home, changed into a long sleeve T-shirt, put on my running gloves, and headed back out to finish my run. Sort of. I may have actually plopped down on my couch for a bit to rest a little. Or a lot. According to my Nike plus log, it may have actually been an hour long break. :) But I did finish the last five miles that day!

In other news, I won my first Nike plus challenge!

(But to be honest, I think Gee let me win.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Update on Nike Plus Challenge

Dude - my challenger is giving me a run for my money (pun fully intended). I thought I would sail through this challenge when I had logged 18 miles by Monday morning and Gee had a big fat ZERO.

And now look where we are!!!

Nippin' at my heels!

It's dark, I'm tired... darn you, Gee!


Sunday, December 9, 2007

My Virtual 8 on the 8th Race Report

I was able to sleep in for this raceSo I recently discovered a whole online community of runners with blogs just like mine! I've been having fun reading through a lot of them as it's cool to hear about other races and hear from other runners that have similar interests (and challenges!) as me.

Through these blogs, I learned about this "virtual" race called 8 on the 8th (8 miles on December 8th). And well, I had to run 16 miles anyway so I figured, why not?

Doing my long runs in preparation for the Disney Marathon has been tough for me, since I'm used to running these distances with a running group. I decided to split my 16 mile run into two eight mile runs.

I'm using the first set of eight for this "race". For this course, I ran my usual 4 mile loop twice, stopping only once for a water/gatorade break. This was definitely a slow route since I go through some of the neighborhoods where it's a bit hilly as well as through downtown LG where I had to deal with the crowds and stoplights and stuff. And it also didn't help that I didn't start until 1PM in the afternoon! It was primetime then.

It was funny because when I was running down Main St, I passed a lady walking her dog. I saw her again when I passed that area during the second loop. Looks like she had done a little shopping since I last saw her. She recognized me as well, and with an amused smile, she commented, "Wow, still going?" Ha - if she only knew! I think I was at mile 5 of 16 at that point.

Anyway, I finished the 8 miles in 1:33:59, 11:43 min/mi pace. Not my typical "race" pace for this distance, but I was proud of the fact that I only stopped at the halfway point to refuel and immediately got back to work. I tackled those hills on the second go-around just as I did the first time.

It was fun reading the race reports from other bloggers... some even included playful photos for their virtual race.

Anyway, that was the first 8. The second eight was not quite as smooth. I'll post on that next time. But for now, time to finish some work before getting some much needed sleep!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Live results tracking posted here!

My split times (10K, 21K, 30K, 40K, and Finish) for the Walt Disney World marathon will now be posted here. So check in here on January 13th to see how I'm doing! Race starts at 6AM and I will finish around 11AM-12PM. (EST, of course)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

My first challenge!

Oooh... I am so excited - I just received my first Nike plus challenge!!! This will definitely fire me up :) Thanks, Gee!

Fighting the aches and pains

I woke up this morning feeling worse than I did yesterday. That strength training class really did a number on me. I guess I should have eased into weights instead of jumping into the one hour full body workout class. Maybe it's good that I didn't do any running yesterday.

Anyway, I have soreness in all sorts of unusual places for me - my triceps, abs, hamstrings, gluts, etc. However, I am proud to say that I fought the pain and still carried on with my 4 mile run this morning - with hills, too!

And I also don't feel so bad about my inactivity at the gym lately. My gym just set up online user profiles that tracks your gym activity. Here's what I found when I logged in today:

The following information represents your time at the club:

Current Month-to-Date:
0 visits (lie! I went yesterday!)

Current Year-to-Date:
110 visits

Your Average Visits per week in 2007:

Average Visits per week for other members at your club:
0.9 visits

Your relative percentile for visits:
in the top 10.6%

Not bad, right? Especially considering I pretty much skipped two months completely.

Anyway, last night I received something fun in the mail - my 2008 Walt Disney World Marathon Guide! I'm pretty excited. I'll provide more scoop in another post.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Super sore...

I wasn't in the mood for a morning run in the rain yesterday so I went to Plan B. I ended up going to my gym after work for this hour long strength training class followed by a fake track workout on the dreadmill treadmill.

This is big for me - because unfortunately I haven't been to my gym in months!!! Well, except for the pre- and post-marathon massages. So sad when I think about the monthly membership fees that have been wasted...

I really liked my strength training class but wow, my muscles are weak! I used to go to this class all the time before marathon training kicked in. I used to try to do some stuff at home like push ups and abs and stuff while I watched TV but it's been awhile since I've done that. So I was really feeling it during class! We did a bunch of chest presses with the body bar and after that, we did push ups - my arms almost gave out on me! Luckily, everyone else was moaning and laughing at themselves so I didn't feel too bad.

After class, I went to the treadmill for some intervals. I did a short warm up run, followed by a 400, 800, and 400 at a 9:30 min/mi pace. It went well and I felt it was a good speed workout for me. I still don't enjoy running on the treadmill, but at least this time the 30 minutes just seemed to fly by.

I was going to run again this morning but didn't wake up in time. I was going to sneak out at 4PM to run on this trail near work, but alas, I got sucked into a conference call. Ah well, maybe I'll squeeze in another run on Sunday instead.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


Dude. I woke up early, got dressed, waited until the sun came up a little and got ready to do my morning run. With my ipod in hand and house key pinned to my pants, I open the door ...





Monday, December 3, 2007

Training during the holidays... what was I thinking?

Apologies in advance, but this is going to be one of those whiny blogs. I knew training for Disney would be tough since it would include all those wonderful Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's holidays. And boy, was I right!

For the last two weeks, my only workouts were two runs each week. Thanksgiving week was my 3 miler and the Turkey Trot 5 miler. And then I came home and did I jump back into training? Nope. I even had a packed gym bag ready to go in my car for the entire week, too. So sad. And it's hard to get the runs in during the week. The sun isn't really up until 7AM and then it's pitch black by 5PM! Lunchtime runs don't work too well for me since it would be take me too long to shower and get ready again.

Anyway, enough of the whining. By the time Friday rolled around, I forced myself to get in a short morning run. I was welcomed with a fun new surprise - frigid morning weather! I could see my breath when I got out there. I think I started out too fast in an effort to warm up a bit. But I pushed myself to do my 5K run and managed to finish with a 9:50 min/mi pace. So yay for me because I am always tempted to slow down and take walk breaks whatever distance I run.

The 14 miles on Saturday was tough since I haven't fully conditioned myself back into the normal training routine. But I did it! It worked out really well, too, because I hadn't run with TNT in awhile and lucky for me, they were meeting at 8AM at Campbell Park for a short run. That was about 5 miles from my apartment so I just left my house at 7AM, ran the trail to Campbell Park, met up with them for four miles, chit chatted with everyone afterward, and then ran the 5 miles back to my apartment - 14 miles total! Perfect, huh? Although, I was jealous that they went to Stack's for a post run meal while I still had to run home. My legs felt like jello by the time I got back! I went back into old lady mode limping around later that day but I was fine by that evening.

So now it's a new week and a fresh start to get the training going! For REAL, this time! Here's my goal (and by posting it here, I'm hoping it will force me to follow through):

Tues: short run
Weds: short run
Thurs: short run
Fri: rest
Sat: 16 miles
Sun: rest

I'm not sure what kind of short runs I will do yet. I normally have two: 1) my 5K run that I try to complete in under a 10:00 min/mi pace and 2) my 4 mi run around my neighborhood with some baby hills to get the heart rate up a little. My other options are a 5 or 6 miler to get a little bit of a longer run in mid-week or some speed training on the track.

Ideally, I'd like to squeeze one strength training class in as well so we'll see.

I could really use some good motivation right now - training by myself isn't working as well as I thought it would... :P

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Running in Ohio Update: Two out of Three Ain't Bad

Well, I'm back from my week at home with the family for Thanksgiving. I had a wonderful time bonding with my nephew and despite the frigid temps, got some good running in as well. My goal was to do three runs when I was at home:

- My short 5K run
- Thanksgiving day Turkey Trot
- My long 10 mile run

Short run - check! Turkey Trot - check! 10 mile run - oops.

I'm still pretty proud of myself anyway. I did my short 5K run on Wednesday and the weather was actually pretty pleasant. I was able to run in just a long sleeve T-shirt and shorts. But the next morning? Yikes! It was a miracle I made it there. First, I overslept (jetlag is a beeyotch). Second, my mom wakes me up to tell me that it's cold, windy, AND raining and should I still be running the Turkey Trot? Third, the car I'm supposed to drive to downtown Cleveland has less than a quarter tank of gas. Fourth, I only paid $18 so it wouldn't be that big of a loss if I skipped it. And so on, and so on...

BUT I did make it. And yep, it was FREEZING! I would guess somewhere in the 30-40's. It was about that cold last year, too, but I don't remember it being that windy (the wind stole my confirmation form on the way to registration) and it definitely wasn't raining. By the way, during the race, the rain turned into snow before our very eyes. Exciting stuff. (not) Luckily, I packed the perfect clothes for this weather. I actually didn't end up using my headband or gloves but I did use my new Northface running jacket with little thumbholes so you can sort of tuck your hands into the sleeves. One of my TNT teammates used hers during our rainy long run and I thought it was so cute and handy that I immediately went out and bought one for myself. It was perfect as it kept me nice and dry but not too hot. I just wore a running tank underneath. I also busted out my running tights which I don't wear too often because I don't like highlighting the awesomeness of my booty (sarcasm, people!). So as a result, I wore shorts on top of that.

Anyway, my goal was to finish under a 10:00 min/mi pace and I literally missed it by seconds! My official chip time was 0:50:05, 10:01 min/mi pace. (Coincidentally, that was the exact same pace as my 5K run the day before.) I guess I just need to focus on pushing myself harder during races.

We also got cute Turkey Trot long sleeve T-shirts - here's me posing with mine (picture taken before I helped my mom rake all those leaves):

Now bring on the pumpkin and pecan pies!
After Thanksgiving, I was too pre-occupied with early Christmas shopping and getting ready for my nephew's baptism. So I guess 5 miles was my long run for the week. No biggie.

This weekend I'd like to do 14 miles. I want to run somewhere other than the LG creek trail. I guess I could run in the city - like along the Embarcadero to the bridge, or maybe tackle the dish in Palo Alto? Suggestions, anyone?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Disney marathon training has officially begun

Well, true to my word, I did my 12 mi run this morning. It was definitely tougher than my short runs this week. But I expected it - I didn't exactly work my way up to this distance. I've only done four short runs (no longer than 4 miles each) since the Nike marathon which was roughly a month ago. So yeah, I'm pretty sore. :)

It went well all things considered. I definitely need to start earlier next time. I had a late start this morning around 9:30AM and the weather was perfect in the beginning but then got a little too warm for my liking toward the end.

I ran at a pretty good pace but still took a lot of walking breaks for water/gatorade (especially when I got hot later on) and when I noticed my heart rate was getting too high... you know, like around 97-98%! Yikes! (If you're not familiar with heart rates, typically you target 65-85% for cardio workouts, which is where I usually am when I'm working out at the gym, but when I run, I end up around 90%. Races are another story. I try not to get too high, though.)

I finished the 12 miles in around 2 hours and 17 minutes, so I averaged an 11:26 min/my pace - I'm happy with that!

Next week's runs will be in Cleveland. The weather there will range from 30-60 degrees. I plan to bring my running gloves which have not been used yet and I just bought a running headband as well to keep my ears warm. Hope all goes well over there!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Focusing on the basics - the 5K!

I had another awesome run this morning! I did just a 5K run but I continued to keep up my pace. This time I averaged 9'53"/mi - when I ended my Nikeplus workout, the voice of my buddy, Lance (as in Armstrong, thank you very much), entered my earbuds to let me know that I had recorded a new best time for the 1 mile distance. Lance forgot to mention that I also recorded my new best 5K time, as well. Silly guy.

Anyway, it was tough as my heart rate went sky high during this run - it's amazing to think that all my half marathons were at this pace! Like most runners, I somehow manage to run much faster in timed races than in my regular workouts - it's always a fun surprise to see where I end up. Except in the case of the full marathon, but I'll get there!

So I think this is something I will try to do every week - a short 5K run with the goal of improving my pace. Because it's only three miles, hopefully this is something I can easily squeeze in before work. Also, during my last two runs, I sped up toward the end - similar to race day. I'm going to continue this as well.

I didn't really do this during the past training season - my only speedwork was at TNT track workouts. Otherwise, all my other runs, whether they were my 4 mile run around the neighborhood or my 20 mile long run with the Nike Club Run SF, were pretty much the same - jogging at a comfortable pace. I was more focused on just covering the distance.

I think this will be a fun change. Plus - my other motivator to keep my pace up during these 5Ks is to get to work on time!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Turkey Trot Time!

Last year, I ran my very first Turkey Trot - mine was a 5 mile run in downtown Cleveland on Thanksgiving morning. I ran it with my friend and it was a lot of fun! It was a couple of weeks after running the US Half Marathon, but it was almost as challenging. First, it was cold (duh!) , around 30-40's, and I was running a bit faster than normal (although my friend did slow down to be more my pace, it still felt pretty fast for me). "Sprinting" in freezing cold weather felt crazy on my lungs! But we did finish in a great time: 0:46:38, a 9:26 min/mi pace - my 5 mi PR, by the way. :)

Anyway, as I need to keep training during the holiday season, I went ahead and signed up for the Turkey Trot again this year. Unfortunately, I have no running buddy this time AND no family support as they will all be preoccupied at that time (working, taking care of a 5 month old stinker, Thanksgiving dinner preparation, etc.) so I will be all alone that morning. :( * sniff, sniff *

I still think it will be a lot of fun and hopefully then I won't feel guilty when I indulge in an extra slice of pie or more than my share of stuffing! :)

Back in the saddle again!

So guess what I did yesterday? I went running! And it was awesome! I've only run twice since the Nike Marathon - one 4 mile run four days later when my Chicago friends were in town and then a wussy 30 minute treadmill run in my hotel in Cabo (after which, I switched to morning walks on the beach with my friends - and unfortunately, I'm still finding the grains of sand in my precious running shoes as a reminder).

Anyway, I wouldn't say I was *dreading* going running again - but when you're out of habit, it's harder to lace up and get out there. But knowing I have to somehow get a 12 mile run in this weekend, I knew I needed to get at least one short run in beforehand. So Wednesday morning, off I went. And I immediately noticed how different it felt! I felt good - great, even! I'm completely recovered (knock on wood) as I didn't feel any weird pains or aches in my legs at all. It was fun! It sort of reminded me why I enjoyed running in the first place.

I did a 4 mile loop around my neighborhood which included some hilly portions which were definitely challenging as I saw my pace slow down and my heart rate go up. But overall, it was so nice to have such an enjoyable run with perfect weather (just a bit chilly which helped me keep my pace going) - a great way to start my work day!

And my pace was pretty good too! (For me, anyway, as I am a proud leisurely jogger, not a speed demon.) I averaged a 10:30 min/mi pace for the 4 miles and looking at my nikeplus log, I usually average ~11:30 min/mi pace and that's when I stick to the trail. My time was pretty good for me this time considering I had stop lights and hills along the way. I even sped up at the end to a sub 10:00 pace which actually made me feel kind of sick in the end but for some reason, I took that as a good sign.

Anyway, it'll be interesting to see how my body reacts through this second round of marathon training. When I first started training for Chicago, I hadn't been regularly running for almost six months! I hope I don't have any of the weird aches and pains - and I hope the long runs are OK and bearable. 2-3 hours on some trail by myself? Yikes.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Race Update: Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon on Superbowl Sunday

I haven't run at all in over a week but I'm still excited about signing up for new events!

I just signed up for the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon which will be held on Superbowl Sunday (February 3rd) in Golden Gate Park.

This will be my first time doing the half but I once did the 5K in 2006. It's a great chance to get outside and burn some calories before indulging in Superbowl snacks for the rest of the day. And yay - another medal!

And timing is pretty good as it will be three weeks after the Disney Marathon so I have time to rest and recover.

So who wants to join in on the fun?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Nine week countdown to run Disney!

Whew! It's been craaaaaazy since the marathon madness began last month. This is what October and November looked like for me:

Oct. 5-8th: Chicago Marathon Fun Run
Oct. 13-17th: New York City for work conference
Oct. 21st: Nike Women's Marathon, San Francisco
Oct. 24-29th: Friend's visit - sightseeing all over south bay, Napa, and San Francisco
Nov. 1-5th: Cabo!!!
Nov. 10th: Treasure Island Triathlon relay LAZY weekend due to oil spill

But alas, the laziness cannot continue because guess what? I am NINE WEEKS away from the Walt Disney World Marathon!

What's up, Mickey!
I'm not really sure what kind of training plan to follow for this one. I'm not going hard-core like I did for Chicago/Nike. I only plan to get to 18 miles before the big event. It's going to be tough to train during the holidays also, especially since I will be in super-cold Cleveland for most of it. But here's what I'm thinking... feedback would be greatly appreciated!

Week 9: 12 miles this weekend - woohoo!
Week 8: 10 miles (Will be home for Thanksgiving)
Week 7: 14 miles
Week 6: 16 miles
Week 5: 12 miles
Week 4: 18 miles
Week 3: 12 miles (Will be home for Christmas - could push out to 31st when I'll be back)
Week 2: 6 miles (Will be in Austin for AY's wedding)

I also think I will explore different trails/courses for all these long runs - south bay, peninsula, SF, etc. If you have any favorites, please let me know! I'll probably just do the LG creek trail this weekend.

Nike Half: YAY, Nike Full: BOO

So here's the deal... Nike puts on a great race. I love how they tailor it for women with the Tiffany necklace "medal" given by young fellows outfitted in sharp tuxedos and the cute dri-fit finisher T-shirt.

The expo is super fun, too - when I went, they raffled off Tiffany diamond earrings every hour, provided free engraving on your ipod nano's, had wine and desserts, Jamba Juice samples, etc.

The course has a lot of fun perks too with lots of freebies like Ghiradelli chocolate squares and Nike dri-fit socks.

I also like how the race is targeted for both hard-core athletes as well as the leisurely runner or walker.

I did the half last year and the full this year. I plan to run it again next year as well and encourage all my friends, no matter where they live, to join in as well. But here's the thing - sign up for the HALF! Because the full marathon course is mean and cruel and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. But maybe it's just me. During my training runs, a lot of the Nike pace leaders and other runners had done the Nike full before and I never heard anyone complain about the course. But I will - so here is my rant, just in case you are interested in running it and want the scoop!

Below is the course map for the full marathon. There's also an elevation chart so you can see there are some hills - those aren't horrible and are in the half as well, so that's not my problem.

Doesn't look so bad, right?
Nike Women's Full Marathon Course

My problem with the course (which I realize I've whined about to several people already, so my apologies for the repeated information) - is the way it keeps killing your spirit by making you feel that you are not making any progress! There were several spots on the course which made me want to cry, "Are you kidding me???!!!" I will now refer to these spots as "Cruel Nike Zones".

Cruel Nike Zone #1: My first moment of frustration occurred around mile 13 when we were deep in Golden Gate Park. The course puts you right next to people running in the opposite direction that eventually turn off from your path. So you know there is hairpin turn somewhere... but I didn't memorize the course map so I didn't know when. But as you're running alongside these people, you know you're just going to have to repeat the same path again. And I kept hoping the u-turn would come sooner than later, but it was actually about a mile overlap before I got to turn around and run the same path back. Annoying. Not only that - I don't even think they had a sign or anything to let you know that you passed the halfway point (i.e. 13.1 miles). Even Chicago had that! At least give me something to get all excited about when you're giving me the run around.

Cruel Nike Zone #2:The next moment of torture came as you exit the park, just past mile 16. You empty onto the Great Highway where full marathoners go left and half marathoners go right - where the finish line (for both half and full) is about 300 yeards away!!! Sure, there were signs that said "Don't look yet!" which I didn't, but you can still *hear* all the cheering and music playing. But don't get excited, you still have 10 more miles to go. :(

Cruel Nike Zone #3: The third cruel zone is similar to the first, this time along the Great Highway. I knew this would be a long stretch but it still sucks to run these three miles that you just know you're going to have to repeat at the end. Oh yeah, the sun had come out at this point and it was hot!

Cruel Nike Zone #4:OK, now you've done 18 miles and you're coming to the end of the long, boring Great Highway stretch (first time, anyway) and then you see the big a** Lake Merced. It looks gigantic. And you know that before you can repeat the long, boring Great Highway stretch, you've got to now run around this sucker:

The buzzkiller that did me in

It doesn't look that big in the picture, but trust me, it seemed massive. And this is when I lost it. I didn't hit a physical wall, just a mental one. It's one thing to pass a mile 18 sign and know that you have 8 more miles to go, it's another when you can literally see those 8 miles in front of you. The unknown is better in my book.

Discouraged, I started walking - thinking I would alternate run/walking. I did - sort of. It was more, walk, walk, walk, oh cheerleaders making a tunnel? I'll run through that! Walk, walk, walk, I'll run until that mile 22 sign up there, walk walk walk, is that a Brightroom photographer? run, run, oh, it wasn't, walk, walk ... and so on.

There were a few other factors as well. One, I had developed a massive case of hiccups at this point which were very painful and hard to run with. (BTW - I totally sounded like an alkie on the course, it was pretty comical.) Two, it was pretty hot around Lake Merced so *everyone* was walking! Really! Three, I didn't know anyone was at the finish - I thought I was out there on my own so I pretty much took my sweet ole time. I was even making conversation with people! Sad, I know.

Truth is, I only really started full on running again once Neeraj and Renu found me around mile 25 and ran alongside me. They let me finish on my own and once I could actually see the finish line, I kicked it into high gear and FLEW past everyone else. (I should - I did have plenty of rest. heehee) And that part was awesome! I guess that's when Pete, Karen, and Paul were cheering my name but I didn't hear them. I was in the ZONE! Just kidding, I did hear people saying my name but because I had it on my TNT jersey, I just assumed it was the friendly TNT folk.

Anyway, there's my review of the Nike full marathon course. I definitely do not plan to run this one again. But I would definitely like to do the half next year.

Also, my official marathon time was 5:33:58 and I'd really like to finish one in under five hours. I don't know if it will happen at Disney World in January, but I have a feeling that until I accomplish that goal, there will still be other marathons in my future. I know it doesn't seem like it from this post, but I really do enjoy running these endurance races - makes me feel like a little bit of a superwoman. :)

More Nike Marathon Pics!

A little late but here are some other pics from the Nike marathon. Renu and Neeraj came out to to cheer me on along the Great Highway and even ran with me toward the finish!

Renu took the next couple of pics and video clips (you can see Neeraj in the one below). These were all taken less than a mile from the finish!


Here I'm complaining that it was so hot when I first got on the Great Highway eight miles earlier:

Then I found out there were other people at the finish! Here's Karen, Paul, Pete, and me. Karen and Pete both complete the Nike Half marathon (Pete even got a Tiffany necklace, too, heehee!)

My "victory" photo! :) The finisher's T-shirt is super-cute.

And in case you were curious, I took a couple of pics of my special prize - the Tiffany necklace!

Many thanks to Renu and Pete for these pics and videos! :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Official marathon pics

Personal pics (courtesy of Renu and Pete) to be posted later, until then... here are some "official" pics from the marathon:

Cruising to the finish

"Now give me my necklace, dammit!"

Five and a half hours laters, still smiling... (and by the way, at the time, I had no idea the pic would come out looking this cheesy)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Hello, I'm Audrey, and I'm a Marathon Finisher


Just a quick update for now as I just got home from being up since 4AM this morning.

As documented in the pic below, I finally have completed my first marathon! And you know what? It is *really* hard! :P No, seriously, it's crazy that people love this! (And he knows who I'm talking about. heehee) I never had problems with half marathons, but the full - wow, it is a toughie, that's for sure.

Anyway - my official chip time was 5:33:58, 12:44 min/mi pace. I ran the Nike half last year with a time 2:13:35, 10:11 min/mi pace. I guess those "extra" 13.1 miles (although mostly flat) are killer!

I feel exhausted but physically, I'm OK. I managed to survive the hills with minimal pain - of course, the two Advil I took in the morning and the two ibuprofen I took during the race helped a lot with that! (Let's see what I say tomorrow morning.) Also, it looks like I maintained ownership of all of my toenails, although I just discovered I got the nastiest blood blister on my left toe (sorry for the TMI) which I'm sure will be lovely for our upcoming Cabo vacation.

Really, the only discomfort I had was that I managed to get a really bad case of painful hiccups at mile 16 which has been on / off not only throughout the rest of the race but even to when I just got home half an hour ago! That *really* sucked.

As expected, the weather was *awesome* compared to Chicago, however, it was warmer than last year. I was fine until we exited Golden Gate Park onto the Great Highway which was a long stretch in the sun as was the tour around Lake Merced. But guess what? Plenty of water and gatorade! What a luxury.

Finally, many thanks to those that came out to support me. My apologies to Andrew who waited a long time for me at mile 9 but never found me (the race was still pretty crowded at this point, and c'mon this is a women's marathon in SF, thus *tons* of short Asian girls running around). Neeraj and Renu are rockstars for giving me the boost I needed by running alongside me as I approached the finish line. And for being my own personal videographer and photographer! Take that, Brightroom! And of course, I am so thankful that Pete, Karen, and Paul waited several hours after the half marathon to help greet me at the finish line. (Plus, now I have witnesses that I kicked it in high gear for the final run to the finish! OK, it was only for 100m or so, but whatev.) Pete and Karen both rocked the half, by the way.

I will have more to blab about another time (course review, etc.) but I am soooooo tired!!!

Nighty night.

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Deja Vu

Clothes laid out, alarms set (two clocks plus a pre-arranged wake up call from my mom) ... am I really doing this again already???

Anyway, I guess I'm pretty much ready to go. This time I even remembered to attach my timing chip to my shoe so I won't have to worry about that in the morning.

Good night!

Friday, October 19, 2007

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Catch me if you can (it won't be very hard...)

Here's some info in case you wanted to track my route through the marathon on Sunday. (Note - this is just FYI scoop, as I did not formally invite anybody to check it out.)

Unfortunately, Nike does not provide live runner updates. So assuming I finish in 5 hours, below are my expected split times and the associated mile marker. The clock times should be fairly accurate as I will be in the first corral with all the other Club Run SF gang.

Note: 5 hours was actually my goal for Chicago - I will probably finish closer to 5:30 for this one. But these times should still give you a good idea on when to keep your eye out for me.

Also, if you are planning to cheer me and the 20,000 other runners - let me know where you'll be! I had two friends in Chicago looking for me but they never found me. And since I didn't know where they were stationed, I didn't see them either.

Should be a fun race as Karen and Pete are running the half as well.

So here are the split times! Sorry the formatting is wacky... it was the best I could do with my Excel spreadsheet. Course map can be viewed here.

Goal Finish Time: 5:00:00
Start Time: 7:00:00

Mile Pace Clock Location
1 0:11:00 7:11:00 Washington St. and Davis St.
2 0:11:20 7:22:20 Embarcadero and Bay
3 0:11:18 7:33:38 Aquatic Park
4 0:11:34 7:45:12 Marina Blvd and Fillmore
5 0:11:23 7:56:35 Mason St. and Halleck St.
6 0:11:20 8:07:55 Mason St. and Long Dr.
7 0:13:48 8:21:43 Lincoln between Washington and Kobbe
8 0:10:43 8:32:26 El Camino Del Mar & 25th Ave
9 0:11:42 8:44:08 Clement St. & 34th Ave.
10 0:11:40 8:55:48 Point Lobos Ave and Merrie Way
11 0:10:50 9:06:38 JFK Dr. & 47th Ave
12 0:11:43 9:18:21 JFK Dr. & 30th Ave
13 0:12:09 9:30:30 JFK Dr. and Stow Lake Dr.
14 0:11:23 9:41:53 JFK Dr. and Over Dr.
15 0:11:16 9:53:09 Middle Dr. and Metson Rd.
16 0:10:46 10:03:55 Martin Luther King Dr. E of the Great Hwy
17 0:11:13 10:15:08 Great Hwy and Ortega St.
18 0:11:30 10:26:38 Great Hwy and Wawona St.
19 0:11:43 10:38:21 Skyline Blvd. and Lake Merced Blvd.
20 0:11:25 10:49:46 Lake Merced Blvd. and Clearfield Dr.
21 0:11:26 11:01:12 Lake Merced Blvd. and Brotherhood Way
22 0:11:05 11:12:17 John Muir Dr. and Lake Merced Blvd.
23 0:11:29 11:23:46 John Muir Dr. and Skyline Blvd.
24 0:11:23 11:35:09 Great Hwy and Sloat
25 0:11:08 11:46:17 Great Hwy and Pacheco
26 0:11:18 11:57:35 Great Hwy and Lincoln Blvd.
26.2 0:02:23 11:59:58 FINISH

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Confirmed for Nike on Sunday

I picked up my race packet at the Nike Expo, oops - I mean "Expotique", this evening. Even though I had registered and paid for the full marathon, I was still a little nervous about something going wrong so I wanted to make sure to get my stuff as soon as it was available.

Bib number: # 8288

It really is a women's event. Nike raffled off $900 Tiffany diamond earrings every hour tonight. Brandi Chastain was there picking out the winners.

I also stopped by Macy's afterward and bought over $100 worth of Nike Women's Marathon paraphernalia. Normally, I would wait until afterward but I just wanted to make sure I got the sizes I wanted. I will wait until after Sunday's performance to actually use it. On a bright note - this stuff is cuter than the New Balance Chicago "Marathon" gear. :)

In other news, I finally got my TNT race tank tonight. My mentor was nice enough to drop it off while I was up in SF. And... um... well, it's too darn small! I heard they ran snug which is why I ordered a medium but for some reason I got a small instead. Worst case, I guess I could wear it, but it's more snug than I would like AND it's pretty short as well. It's not like I have a long torso or anything - I'm only 5'2" after all. But it was like a crop top on me!

I'm checking to see if I can make an exchange. Sammy does not need to be exposed during my marathon debut!

I have a lot more items to post before Sunday so keep checking in. I really appreciate all the support I've received so far this week - you guys rock!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Wanna-be New Yorker :)

I'm currently in NYC for a conference this week. But don't worry - I'm still keeping up with my training! Sort of, anyway. I didn't do much after Chicago... Monday I flew back, Tuesday I got my massage (thanks G and J!), and Wednesday... I don't know, I think I just wanted to watch Gossip Girl. :P

I finally made it back to the gym on Thursday for some easy elliptical work. Unfortunately, Friday and Saturday ended up being rest days as well.

Now it's one week from my marathon so I must get running again! Luckily, I'm in the perfect place - NYC, and my hotel is just 6 short blocks away from Central Park. I never actually ran there, just people watched. But I did some quick googling and discovered that there is a 6 mile running loop along the perimeter of the park. PERFECT!

I didn't even get out there until ~9;30AM but the weather was fantastic! Such a refreshing change from Chicago. :) I could tell that there were a lot of runners getting ready for the upcoming NYC marathon with their fuel belts and Gu's.

I also learned that in two weeks, the Men's Olympic marathon trials will be held on my running route! It's interesting... the trials occur the day before the big NYC marathon but the Olympic hopefuls will not be running that marathon course, instead they are running the Central Park loop 5 times.

Anyway, here are some pics I took from my cell phone during my run.

Hard to tell, but there are some horse-drawn carriages on the right. Fun to run alongside them, until you smell the poop! Ick!

The Reservoir in Central Park

got water?

Another funny T-shirt... this one I actually bought. :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Marathon attempt # 2 is ON!!!

What can I say - I rebound quickly! After the disappointment of Chicago, I couldn't bear to let my four months of training go to waste. So, after bombarding Nike organizers with emails and phone calls, I am happy (elated, thrilled, giddy even!) to announce that I have officially upgraded from half marathon to full marathon status!

If you told me a month ago that I would be running the Nike full, I would have flipped out. Yes, I did all my long training runs with Nike, including running on portions of the actual race route. However, the 18 and 20 mile runs were especially painful for me, particularly the hill portions. So I couldn't imagine dealing with that for a whole marathon!

But expectations are different now as I don't even know if my legs will have recovered by then. I just want to have a chance to prove to myself that I can finish a 26.2 mile race. If it takes me forever, oh well. And let's face it - it couldn't possibly be more miserable than the Chicago fiasco, right???

Another thing I have going for me with the Nike race is Team in Training support. The Nike race is my official TEAM event so I will have my TEAM jersey for it. Which means... LOTS of strangers cheering for me!!! :) If it's anything like last year, most of the spectators on the course will be TEAM-related and for some reason, they only cheer for TEAM runners. If there aren't any purple shirts running by, they are particularly quiet. Anyway, I'm looking forward to mooch all the support I can get!

New marathon date: Sunday, October 21st, 2007

As a side note, I'm still planning to run the Disneyworld Marathon in January, but now that one can go back to being the fun one, i.e. run, walk, stop to take pics with Mickey, Lilo, etc. :)

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Sunday, October 7, 2007

It Just Wasn't Meant to Be

Wow - what a crazy day. It definitely was not the happy ending I had been hoping for after four months of diligent training. In short, my aspiration to be a marathon finisher still remains unfulfilled. But it was not because I didn't give it my all - it was because they told me to stop. If you hadn't heard the news, the marathon organizers cancelled the race halfway through due to "extreme heat exhaustion".

That's the short story - if you want *all* the details, read on for my personal anecdote as well as tidbits I picked up from other runners and spectators. Pics at the end!

Back in February, I thought I was so clever for picking the flat, "fast" Chicago race for my first marathon - I was not expecting to deal with ~80 degree weather. However, in the days before the race, I had checked the forecast religiously so I knew it was going to be a hot one. Once I arrived in Chicago, the forecasted heat for the marathon was practically the biggest news in town (next to the Cubs being shut out of the championships).

The morning of the race went perfectly. I ate my breakfast and drank my fluids two hours before the race, got all my gear, lathered on the sunblock & body glide, took my advil, etc etc. During the morning news, they again discussed the heat and stressed that runners should focus on that more than their pace. They expected that runners will probably have to add 10-20 minutes to their finish time. (Remember this point later.) My parents met me in the lobby and walked with me to the race start (like a little kid on their first day of school - haha). I made a pit stop and headed to the corral. I decided to be extra cautious and started near the 11:30 minute/mile pace group. It was all fun and exciting at this point. The gun went off and we all cheered with excitement. And then we just stood there. Heehee... we slowly started walking ahead and I finally crossed the start line 22 minutes later.

It was probably at least 70 degrees at this point. I think within the first mile, I started feeling overheated. Nothing serious... just... ick! But it didn't take long before I really started to heat up. My goal quickly changed from finishing under 5 hours to just finishing period.

Now, I like to minimize what I wear on me as much as possible - for example, I didn't want to deal with a fuel belt. I did wear a slim runner's pack to hold my Gu's and my cell phone but I barely noticed that at all. Luckily, my TNT mentor advised me to carry a disposable water bottle so that I could skip the first aid station since that tends to be the most crowded. And that tip alone SAVED me today.

First aid station went fine. Second aid station - NOTHING. Literally, there was nothing - no tables or anything. Just hundreds of paper cups tossed to the side of the road. They had already run out of fluids. Someone shouted out, "Sue the marathon!" Thank goodness for my water bottle! Third aid station - well, at least they did have Gatorade and water but guess what? No cups!!! If you didn't have your own cup or water bottle, well, you were screwed. This ended up being a common theme for several of the aid stations so I didn't let go of my water bottle for the rest of the race. I saw on the news that a lot of the runners ended up going to convenience stores along the course to buy their own fuel.

It wasn't long before I felt the weather ramping up to full 80+ degree heat. I did my best to deal with the situation by regularly consuming my Gu gels and gatorade & water (when I could get them!!!), etc. I really watched my pace as well. But the heat! Holy crap! It was like this force that completely drained me of any energy I had. I thought the SF hills sucked but I may have preferred them over this. There were several points on the course where I really felt like I was going to pass out / throw up / or both - something I've never experienced before in any race. (And those that know about my history with fainting spells know I am not being overdramatic.) What's worse - when I would stop to take a walking break, I felt even more light-headed. I was really terrified that I was going to pass out during this race! But here's the thing - after training for four months and having all my awesome friends and family support me, I was *not* going to give up. No matter what.

So I struggled through. There were long patches of course out in the open sun with no shade in sight. Those sucked. But every now and then there were some shady areas. So that helped - I felt I could recover a little in those areas. I had my trusty heart rate monitor on, so I checked that regularly to make sure I wasn't pushing myself too hard.

There were some good things. For one thing, the supporters did not disappoint. It seemed like there were spectators along the entire course. And because I had my name on my shirt, it was fun to hear people cheering your name. And I loved all the people with the water hoses - I don't even know how many times I had people spray me down. One nice lady even gave me a baggie with ice cubes and advised me to wear it in my sports bra which did help a lot.

By the halfway point, I think I had slowed down to a little over a 12:00 min/mi pace. Around mile 15, I heard rumblings from one of the aid station volunteers on a megaphone that if we didn't get to a certain point in six minutes, we were going to be taken off the course. I mean, I knew I was slow but I wasn't that slow! I was totally confused and just kept going.

Finally, at mile 18, I slowly clued in to what was going on. I was trying to keep jogging as much as possible but it was getting harder, not only because of the heat, but because everyone around me was walking! It was so hard to get by anyone! Then I heard the announcement on the loud speaker. The race was cancelled due to the heat.

Now at this point, I was getting bits of information from random people so I was really confused as to what was going on. From what I understood, they were cancelling the race because they didn't have enough water and gatorade supplies to keep us hydrated. I still wasn't sure so I asked a cop that was in the middle of the course if the race was cancelled and he confirmed it. Later on, another race organizer started telling everyone over the loudspeakers to stop running and to walk instead. Other runners were saying that they had heard that we had to walk to the next aid station where there would be busses that would take us all back to Grant Park (finish area).

I think I was still in disbelief as to what was going on. I mean, there were still spectators cheering us on. (Although some had signs that read, "Race Over".) It sounded like the organizers wanted us off the course so I just thought race cancelled, might as well head back. I didn't even think any of us were going to get a finisher's medal. So around mile 20 (after not seeing any busses), I just followed the rest of the pack of runners that went off the course to take a "shortcut" back to the finish line.

So we walked and walked and walked and then ended up meeting with the last part of the race. I guess they still kept the course open! I sort of wished I had just walked the rest of the course, but that probably would have added at least another half hour to my finishing time and that would have just made my family more worried. (More on that later.)

We all joined back in and at this point, we were one mile from the finish. I was definitely pooped, but I managed to pick it up to run the last 400m. (And wow, that ended up being a lot harder than I thought!) We finally turned the corner and there it was - the finish line! The awesome part was that I managed to see my parents with their signs right on the sidelines as I headed toward the end. They even had flowers for me which I ran with toward the finish. :) I love my parents!

I also managed to raise my arms for the finish line photo. Well, at least I have a photo to pretend I finished. :P Anyway, if you look up my times, I do have a finish time but obviously it is not a real finish time as I didn't even walk the entire course. Most likely, they will modify this to "Did Not Finish" in the official results. It sucks but I'm getting over it. They did give us all medals, though. Normally, I wouldn't feel like I deserved it - but I really pushed myself until they told me not to, so on that note, I am proud of my accomplishment. However, I did refrain from acquiring any 2007 Chicago Marathon apparel, which was going to be my birthday present from my parents. I'm not sure I need the reminder of how I tortured myself for over five hours on a hot, sunny day. :P

I talked to my parents and my sister after the race, and they also had already heard the news that the race was cancelled. My sister and her family were at the Runners Reunite area waiting for me and they had heard around 12:30PM or so that the race was cancelled and that runners were being picked up in busses to be taken to Grant Park. They also said they heard tons of ambulances going back and forth. (Unfortunately, one runner did die and ~300 other runners were taken to nearby hospitals.)

Meanwhile, my parents were at the finish line where they also heard the news. The announcer apparently said the marathon is now over and now it's a "fun run" for the runners. Sure, I'll go with that.

I felt really bad for my family. I don't pass out a lot, but I get light headed from time to time which my family is well aware of and you know, families overworry. So when they got word about all the heat exhaustion going on, they immediately started worrying about me. I had my phone on silent and my mom's phone went straight to voicemail. When my sister couldn't get ahold of my mom, she thought we were in the hospital! Then my mom commented how she was cheering on all the runners at the finish, but after awhile she stopped because she was so worried that I hadn't arrived yet.

It's not just my family. My good friend PLH also ran the marathon and her parents also came into town for it. After it was taking her a long time to finish, her dad ended up going to the medical tents to see if PLH had been treated by them.

Oh, and remember at the beginning when I said runners should expect to add 10-20 minutes to their finish time? How's this for a data point - PLH has a good friend that runs 4 marathons a year, averaging a 3:35 finish time. Her time today was 4:40! I feel bad for those runners that were hoping to qualify for Boston with this race - like the two people we met yesterday at the pasta dinner.

Part of me is really sad that they cancelled the race on me and all those other runners, but part of me is glad because otherwise, I would have kept going and I probably would have ended up in one of those medical tents.

Luckily, my family is here with me so they already gave me their shoulders to cry on as I had my own private pity party. They're still so proud of me regardless and they don't understand my feelings about me not really finishing. Oh well. Family is easy to please. Seeing my nephew also made me feel better. I got to spend lots of quality bonding time with him this weekend - he is sooooooo cute! He's so much more fun at 3 months than he was at two weeks - heehee. He smiles and laughs and even has these pseudo-conversations with us!

Anyway, there's the whole story - I know it was super long but I figure it'd be easier than me telling the story over and over again. I wanted all of you to know what went down but I don't want any sympathy. It is what it is. I'm disappointed with how things turned out, but I am not disappointed in myself.

I guess at this point, I should announce that "Plan B" is already in place. If you haven't already heard, I am currently registered to run the Walt Disney World Marathon in Orlando in January. I registered back in July before I realized what a pain in the a** it is to train for a marathon. I just thought it would be a fun, laid-back follow up to the Chicago one but I might have to take it more seriously now!

Finally, I just want to thank everyone for all the encouragement and support you've given me over these last several months and especially this weekend, as well. Don't you worry - I *will* be a marathon finisher at some point. Plus I still have the Nike half in two weeks!

On a fun note, I do have some pics from my 20+ mile "fun run" :)

7:00AM Race Morning - Smiling big as I do not know what is to come...

Me and my dad with the poster my TNT mentor made for me

Me and my mom with the poster I made at the expo the day before (I figured they would be more likely to use it if it had their nickname for me)

I took this pic with my cell phone while lined up in the start corral

My mom actually managed to capture this pic during the final stretch before the finish - I don't know who I'm looking at, though

Reunited with my parents at the end (I had wiped away the tears by this point)

Saturday, October 6, 2007

It's almost showtime!

Well, it was supposed to be an easy day but I'm pooped. I did a quick one mile jog this morning, then went to the expo with my friend Pam (above), met up with my sister and her family and got some yummy deep dish Chicago pizza, then finally rested a bit. We ended up doing the pre-marathon pasta dinner at the hotel since it was easy and I was tired.

I have all my stuff laid out and ready to go for tomorrow. Despite record-high temperatures, I think tomorrow will be a lot of fun. I'm thinking of it now as a "fun run" and just a sightseeing tour of Chicago. :)

Check in later for more updates!

P.S. Thanks so much for the shout-out, Kirby!!!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Hanging with the 'rents

After spending the last six hours with my parents, I'm about ready to rename my running blog to "Adventures with Cesar and Vicky". As most of you know, I enjoy telling stories about them (much to the displeasure of my mom) as I find them very humorous. But I think most kids like to make fun of their parents, right? (It can't be just me, can it???)

Let me give you a couple of examples just from this afternoon... before we left the rental car lot, my mom and I sat in the car watching my dad slowly circle our car about five times or so, giving it a thorough examination noticing every discoloration, ding, scratch, etc. Finally, when he was satisfied and ready to depart, he manages to ding the car next to us when he opens his car door to get in. Classic.

Then my mom tries to tell a story about my sister's son - something about him tying a string on my mom's finger? Turns out she was trying to say that he has her wrapped around his finger.

OK, one more... my dad tried to tell me another one of his boring jokes he picks up at work - this one had something to do with a bookkeeper and a mafia boss. I couldn't even follow the joke because I was too busy laughing at how my dad pronounced mafia, which was ma-FEE-uh (as in Sophia).

And don't even get me started on stories about my dad using a GPS unit for the first time - wow, I could start a separate blog on just that alone. (Did any of you catch The Office last night? My dad is almost as bad as Michael ...)

OK, maybe these are really only funny to me. (I bet my sister would laugh, too, though.) It's all in good fun, though - my parents rock!!! I just hope they don't read this...

Anyway, I'll have a real running update tomorrow. Tomorrow morning, my friend Pam and I are headed to the expo to pick up our race packets and bibs.

Greetings from Chicago!

Well, I made my 6:30AM flight with no problems (although with only two hours of sleep, but whatever).

So I have finally arrived in Chicago and let me tell you, it is HOT! As in, literally, the weather is hot, not in the sense that it's hip and happening. Although, I guess that could apply too.

I'd been watching the weather forecast all week so I knew it was going to be hot. But I didn't get the full grasp until I stepped on the jetway from the plane. Not only is it hot, it is also HUMID. Ah, yes, the midwest summers. How I *haven't* missed you so...

This does not bode well for me as I do not like to run in the heat. Which is why I drove two hours round trip every Saturday to train in the city - to avoid the south bay heat! I would have much preferred the cold, rainy forecast from Monday... hot and sticky for 26.2 miles? Egads. But like I've said before, I'm really just hoping the energy and exciting of the marathon will help me forget the discomforts I will have to deal with.

I overheard a couple of people on my plane this morning talking about how they were also running the marathon. I would have commented but they were two rows behind me and I wasn't really fully awake yet at 6AM in the morning. I saw another lady with a Team in Training gym bag wearing last year's Nike marathon finisher shirt so I'm assuming she's doing the marathon as well.

Otherwise, I haven't seen too much marathon stuff in the airport (where I am typing this now - I'm waiting for my parents to arrive on their flight from Cleveland) other than some billboard ads by the baggage claim.

Anyway, keep checking my blog this weekend as I will be regularly posting updates.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

What to write on my shirt?

Unfortunately, my TNT race shirt won't arrive until the week of the Nike Half. That's OK - I've decided to wear one of my dri-fit shirts that I've used during training instead. I chose a BRIGHT YELLOW one - I'm hoping my family will be able to spot its neon color.

To encourage support from the spectators :) I plan to write my name on the front of my shirt. The big question - what, if anything, should I write on the back???

I enlisted the feedback of my Wednesday running buddies for ideas... here is what we came up with:

  • I hope I win!!! (My runner up idea)
  • Are we there yet? (Used by Renu)
  • Your feet hurt 'cause your kicking so much ass! (Found on a blog)
  • This is my first marathon. Let me beat you. (Pete's idea)
  • Stop looking at my ass (I was just kidding)
  • If you beat me, you have no chance of getting my number (not my idea)
  • Why couldn't Pheidippides have died at mile 20? (If you're clueless like me, here's the Wikipedia entry.)

So what did I pick??? Well... that will be unveiled later. But it was definitely Renu and Pete's creation that just really cracked me up. Stay tuned!!!

Wednesday Night Success

Wednesday was a very productive evening for me. I went up to the city (on a "school" night!!!) to do the Wednesday Nike run at Niketown in Union Square. This was my last real run before Sunday's marathon (I might do a quick 1-2 mile jog on Saturday) and my last Nike run before the Nike half.

My schedule is crazy this week but it was worth the drive for this run because I now have VIP access for the Nike Half on October 21st!!! In order to get this, you have to get all 30 punches on your frequent runner card - 15 Nike runs, 6 shoe trials, bring 5 buddies (thanks Kelly, Andrew, Scott, Pete, and Renu!!!), 2 "retail" punches, and 2 "mystery" punches. And now I'm all done! What a relief...

I had VIP access for last year's Nike half so of course I had to get it again. :) We get special pre-race and post-race tents and we get to start in the very first corral, right after the elites. It was so much fun last year... I thoroughly enjoyed the buffet after the race. :)

Anyway - we did 4 miles last night and although the pace was slow for my running buddies Pete and Renu, it felt good for me and I didn't really feel any pains so that was awesome. We all got $5 Jamba Juice gift cards and for trying on their shoes again, I got another pair of Nike dri-fit socks - pink ones this time! Woo-hoo!

Monday, October 1, 2007

It's Marathon Week!!!

Yep, as my watch reminds me, it is now 6 days until the marathon. Where did the time go??? Just kidding, I feel like I've been training forever.

I just received my confirmation packet in the mail, so I'm getting really excited now! I mean, I have a bib number and everything!

2007 Chicago Marathon Bib #: 25501

By the way, feel free to stalk me - sign up for runner tracking!

On a related note, I just got my number for the Nike half as well:

2007 Nike Women's Half Marathon Bib #: 12165

Week 2 Wrap Up: Ready or not, here I come!

So the rest of last week went pretty well. I did spinning again on Wednesday and everything felt good.

My TNT workout went really well, too! Because the group was doing a more challenging run on the weekend, they gave us a more basic workout on Thursday - just an easy 3 mile run on the LG creek trail.

I was really happy with this workout because I ran with some of the other girls who are slightly faster than me and I was able to keep up with them for the whole run. Sure, I couldn't chat as much, but that's OK!

At the end of these workouts, we always group together at the end for announcements and stuff. This past week, my mentors surprised me by announcing how I was running the Chicago marathon and even made me a poster! Here's a pic of it:

Here's a pic of me with one of my mentors (my group is lucky enough to have two - a husband and wife team):

They are super nice and supportive. I'm going to pack the poster with the eight million other things I'm bringing to Chicago :) Who knows, maybe my family will want to use it. (If it survives the rain, that is.)

On Saturday, I managed to do an easy 6 mile run on the LG creek trail again. My legs feel better, although not 100%. Honestly, I think I'll be OK on Sunday. As with any of my long runs, the first three miles will be rough but after that, I will just be in auto-pilot mode. Hopefully there will be enough activity along the course to keep me entertained that I won't notice any discomfort.

Egads... forecast: RAIN

Well, not my first choice for weather, but oh well - I can deal. I think I would actually prefer running in the cold rain vs. a hot, sunny day. My 12 mile run was in the rain and I didn't notice it at all after awhile.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Use It or Lose It

Less than two weeks to go... the training plans recommend to still keep up the same level of intensity but just with shorter distances. You don't want to lose any of the "fitness" that you've been developing.

I know my legs feel off, but I've decided to just suck it up and keep pushing myself to keep up with my regular training. I took a Spinning class yesterday and it was awesome - didn't feel any discomfort at all! My legs felt better afterward as well... I think it's good to keep them moving. I took a yoga class after that which helped, too.

This morning, I decided to go for what used to be my regular 4 mi Tuesday morning run. I had to skip the last few weeks because I was still sore from the weekend runs. I walked a little bit at first... and I know this is weird, but I was actually scared to start running. I just didn't know how my legs would feel. When they're sore, they feel heavy I guess and my left calf feels kind of weak, like it might cave in under me.

I know, I know - I'm over-reacting. But here's the thing, I'm not and have never been a real athlete. I've never had any real physical problems (KNOCK ON WOOD!) so I'm not used to having my body not respond the way I want it to. Woops - double negative. Anyway, running lately has just been weird. The legs feel off.

But back to this morning. I walked at first and then I cautiously started to slowly jog. I was happy to discover that it was much better than Sunday's attempt! It went so well, that I was able to run the whole 4 miles without walking. I know it's weird for me to be so happy about this when I just did 12 mi on Sat but oh well. Maybe because last Tuesday I could barely walk. :)

The main point is that this morning, I finally felt like I was on my way on the recovery path. Spinning again tomorrow and then TNT workout on Thursday. I hope to report continued good news after then.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Week 4 and 3 Wrap Ups: I'm still surviving...

I'm glad I waited a bit to write this post. If I had written this last weekend, it might have been filled with colorful language like ^*&( or %^& or ^%&&, etc. In fact, while I was running last weekend, I was thinking my recap post should be titled, "What the &*( was I thinking???"

The "highlight" (or "lowlight" as the case may be) of Week 4 was my 20 mile peak run. It started OK - I mean, I really tried to enter it with a good attitude. It was my last super-long run so I just needed to get through the next 4-5 hours and it would be all downhill after that. Well, long story short, it wasn't my best run. There were some very painful downhill moments at the end and I spent a good portion walking to finish the 20 mile course.

As usual, I was ok until ~mile 12 and then my legs started to feel like poop. I am starting to think that maybe I am more designed for the half rather than the full.

I was supposed to do a 5K the next morning through TNT but that definitely wasn't going to happen. Instead, I spent the day running around LG with my cousin and her two toddlers. Oh boy, the 5K may have been a more restful option. :)

I spent the next few days resting and limping around work. Finally, someone asked if I had taken any Advil and as soon as he said that, I literally wanted to smack myself on the forehead. It was a total "DOH!" moment, because, no, I had not taken any Advil or any other painkillers in general. I had been icing, stretching, foam rolling, etc. but had forgotten the most simple, obvious approach.

A couple hours after popping those little orange pills, I was feeling a lot better and was back to zipping around the hallways at work. I managed to make it to spinning on Wednesday with no problems. Thursday, I got back to running at our TNT track workout - my first interval session. One of the coaches gave me this lotion to use on my legs that had some aspirin in it which helped to relieve some of the soreness. Who knew there were all these fun shortcuts to pain relief???!!!

The interval workout ended up being a lot of fun. I couldn't run very fast but I felt better toward the end.

Friday, I rested to get ready for the Saturday long run. I had to run 12 miles and normally I always do my long runs in the city with the Nike running club but I looked at the route and there was no way I was going to tackle another hilly run during my "taper". So instead, I did my first long run with TNT which happened to be on the Coyote Creek Trail right by where I work. Sure, it's not exactly an exciting run, but it is flat, so yippee! Unfortunately, weather did not cooperate as it pretty much rained the whole time. I didn't mind, though, it actually felt kind of nice. The first few miles were kind of hard but I started to feel more comfortable by mile 5. I was so proud of myself because I managed to run the whole 12 miles through. I have to say, it is a lot more fun to do the long runs with TNT just for the cheering alone. :) Especially at the end when you can actually hear people cheering your name.

I had thought about doing a short run with Nike in Danville on Sunday but I wasn't feeling well. I only managed to do a short 3 mile run/walk around the LG trail. I'm sort of freaked out since this is two weeks before I'm supposed to run 26.2 miles???

But all in all... I'm hanging in there... I don't know how the marathon will go, but I *will* cross that finish line! :) Plus I watched this video clip from last year's marathon and I'm really excited for it now. I'm also a little intimidated because this race is going to be huge!!! Definitely the biggest race I've ever been in. I was so lucky with the Nike Half because we had "VIP" status so we got to start at the head of the pack, just after the elite runners. I wonder how long it will take after the gun goes off before I actually cross the *start* line???

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I feel like an old lady

Sometimes I worry about how the heck I'm going to finish this marathon when I can't even manage to get around at work without hobbling like an old lady! It's a little ridiculous, although I guess I am sort of amused with myself. (Someone should be, right?) Every time I get out of my car, or get up from my desk, I feel a little limpy. Nothing serious... but I am constantly aware of what I'm putting my poor legs through.

Anyway... last long run this weekend!!! And here it is... my peak run - 20 miles through San Francisco!

Looks like a different route from what we usually do... we're heading south of the park this time around... all the way to the SF Zoo! But I like the finish... it will hopefully feel nice and quick. Sucks for the 22 mile peeps... they have the same course as us and then when they get back to the marina they have to keep going for an out and back 2 mile add-on run. I hate those... once you see the finish line, you don't want to have to go past it for another two miles!!!

Here's something that cracked me up... as I've mentioned before, my boss is a workout-aholic. He's run over a dozen marathons with a PR of 2:49. (No, not a typo.) So yesterday, we were chatting about our weekend runs, my 18 mile run and his 4 mile cross country race. Coincidentally, both were in Golden Gate Park. Anyway, he was disappointed in himself because his goal for his race was 24 minutes. Again, not a typo - four 6:00 minute miles! But he only "managed" to finish in a little over 25 minutes. Can you even imagine running that fast?

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Week 5 Wrap Up: TNT Memorial Run and Second 18 mi Run

After a nice, relaxing recovery week - I'm back on track with my training plan.

I'm trying to incorporate a little more speedwork during my short runs. I did some strides during my Monday run - where I alternated short "pseudo-sprints" (it wasn't *that* fast, hence the "pseudo") with running at my normal, relaxed pace. Thursday's TNT workout was a fun and special one. We first started out by running one mile on the track. Then we did a memorial run for the husband of one of our coaches who passed away from cancer a year and a half ago. There is a bench in his honor on top of a hill by the LG reservoir so we ran there from the high school track, each of us carrying a red carnation which we then used to decorate his bench. It was very touching. We took some nice group photos there so hopefully I can post one of them here later. We also managed to squeeze in some speedwork during the memorial run as well. We ran "back-to-front" style where we all divided up in groups of five and then ran single file where the last runner would then run to the front of the group and then set the pace for the group until the next runner comes up to the front. It sounded fun at first, but once we started doing it, I realized it was actually kind of hard! Basically, it's run, run, run, run, sprint! Run, run, run, run, sprint! And we did that for over 3 miles... at least on the way back, it was more downhill so it got easier.

Then came Saturday... 18 miles again! First of all, I have to mention that it's a miracle I even made it this week. Normally, I try to be up by around 6AM to eat, drink water, etc. and then be out the door by 6:45AM. Granted, I usually don't make it out by then, but that's the goal. Yesterday, I must have turned off my alarm because when I woke up, it was 7:07AM!!! Luckily, I organized everything the night before so it was easy to get ready and leave quickly. And I managed to get there right before my group left - very important! Even though I have the printed course map and directions, it is still really easy to get lost! Especially when we're in the Presidio and the Golden Gate Park. So that's why I need to run with my group - people running at my pace and my distance so that way when we get lost, at least we're not alone! :)

I'm trying not to get nervous, but these past two 18 mile runs have really been tough on me. I was OK up to our 16 mi run, but I'm definitely feeling the soreness during the 18 mi runs. Yesterday, it started around mile 13. Same area - the right side of my knee. I don't know how to explain it - it's not a shooting pain or anything, I guess just a soreness (or tightness?). I get tired so I look forward to the aid stations, but at the same time, it really hurts to start running again after the break. We don't even stop that long and I try to keep walking or moving my legs, but still - I almost have to limp a little before I get back in my stride again. The sucky part is that there are always these downhills toward the end of the route, and they are so painful!!! Sure, uphills are hard, but I can always walk up those and feel OK. No matter how I approach the downhills, it's all - ow, ow, ow!

Anyway, I'm preparing myself to fight through the pain during the actual race. Don't get me wrong, I'm still excited - I'm just more focused now on actually finishing this thing vs. my time and stuff.

With this past run and the next, I'm practicing how I plan to run in the real race. So I wore my iPod this time and I carried five Gu gels in the back pockets of my shorts. They worked out fine. Although, I'm thinking about getting an iPod arm band for my final long run this coming Saturday. I'm undecided on the fuel belt ... I really like not wearing any extra load but I might try some on this week to see how they feel. I also realized I definitely need to get some of that Body Glide stuff, definitely for the inner thighs (I hope it's not just me... I'm not Miss Thunder Thighs, am I???) although people have recommended it for other areas as well.

I also did the Nike Danville run on Sunday - just a light, 5 mile run. Shout out to Gee for hanging with me during our snail-pace run! I wasn't sure if I should run the next day, but I actually think it helped with some of the pain. Plus, with this particular run, I've now fulfilled all my run and shoe trial punches on the Nike frequent runner card. I still need to bring two more friends (any volunteers???) to finish out the buddy punches and then get these random retail and mystery punches, after that - VIP access, here I come!!!

Free stuff this week: On-site massages, Jamba Juice Protein Berry Workout smoothies and honey berry bran bread, Nike dri-fit socks, and more tix to Alice Now & Zen Fest. I passed on the massages... I just don't like the idea of people touching me when I'm all sweaty and gross. Although I am always impressed by the perks of these Nike runs since they are free after all.

I've also gone back to working on my marathon mix. I got a bunch of new tunes from my spinning teacher during Wednesday's class so I'm excited about that. I have five hours now so just need to add a little bit more. After watching "Superman Returns", I've decided to use the Superman theme as the opening track. :)

So on a final note, I'm at 31 miles for the week. I plan to really focus on stretching and using the foam roller this week. Hopefully, I won't skip yoga again. (I don't know why it's so hard to get me in there!) This coming weekend is a big one... not only is it my "dress rehearsal" (heehee) but AY is coming back to town!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Picture of the week (not)

Haha... here's me during a recent TNT track workout. We were doing time trials... I guess I was more focused on my pace than on the camera that was apparently on me. DOH!

What's your motivation?

Some people love working out - like my boss, for example, who often goes on 2 hour bike rides at 4AM in the morning with those headlight helmets. And that's on a work day! I am not one of those people. I don't necessarily hate it either... the hard part is getting me out there. Once I'm in my workout clothes and in the gym or out for a run, I am fully committed.

I like having this marathon goal because it keeps me honest about my workouts - for the most part anyway. Before I started my training, I would go weeks without exercising at all. Bad Audrey. Maybe I don't work out as often as I'd like, but I'm not doing too bad. Even in the laziest of weeks, I'm still working out at least three days of the week - better than nothing, right? :) And without fail, I've managed to always make the Nike club runs on Saturday mornings. Only because I know there is no way I could manage double digit distances on my own.

If you need some motivation, here are some interesting tidbits from a Men's Health article, 20 Ways to Stick with Your Workout. This was obviously written with guys in mind, because there are some that I know guys do, but I don't often see with girls (see #2, "Make a friendly bet"). I am an example of #1, "Sign up for a distant race".

I found the last one particularly funny:

20. Blackmail yourself

Take a picture of yourself shirtless, holding a sign that shows your e-mail address. Then e-mail it to a trusted but sadistic friend, with the following instructions: "If I don't send you a new picture that shows serious improvement in 12 weeks, post this photo at and send the link to the addresses listed below... " (Include as many e-mail addresses—especially of female acquaintances—as possible.) "It's nasty, but extremely effective," says Alwyn Cosgrove.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Week 6 Wrap Up

My schnazzy new Polar watch lets you program an "event" and provides a countdown on the default display. Today my watch tells me that I'm 34 days away from my marathon. 34 days! That's like a month away!

With almost a third of my training completed, I feel like I should have progressed a little bit more at this stage - maybe a little fitter, a little faster - but I am definitely logging the miles so I feel good about that part.

This past week was our recovery week which I definitely needed. Taking CW and JL's advice, I've been using my foam roller more often which seems to be helping. I felt sore during the week so I only managed one 2 mi run on Tuesday. I had to skip my TNT workout because I had a conflict but also because they did hill repeats this week which would not have been good for me. I was back in business by the weekend - I did the Nike 12 mi run in SF on Saturday (which, as I had expected, was the Embarcadero route, aka Tourist Central) and the Nike 6 mi run in Danville on Sunday. Both routes were flat out and back courses. The Saturday run was the longest flat course I've run this season so I felt that sort of gave me an idea on what to expect for Chicago. More on that in a separate post.

Nike freebies this week... two pairs of Nike dri-fit socks AND two tickets to the Alice Now and Zen Fest! Woo-woo! Performers include James Blunt, Joss Stone, and Gin Blossoms. Not sure if I will go, though...

In total, I accumulated 20 miles this week. This weekend, we'll be back in the Presidio and our long run will be 18 miles.
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