Monday, July 30, 2007

Holy crap - a new half marathon PR for me!

Yes, it's true - I have now achieved a new personal record for a half marathon. On a whim, I decided to run the second half of the San Francisco Marathon yesterday. My official chip time was 2:08:13 which averages to a 9:47 min/mi pace which I am so happy with! My other two times from last fall were 2:13:35 (Nike Half) and 2:08:34 (US Half). You might wonder why I would be so thrilled with an improvement of roughly twenty seconds, especially when combined with the fact that the other two races were a lot more hilly. Well, here's why...

First, I was not planning to do this race, or any other endurance race before the big marathon. I was scheduled to run 12 miles this weekend per my training plan which I normally would have run with the Nike Club up in SF Saturday morning. But unfortunately, I had a work-related thing to take care of that day so I had to do the run on Sunday morning instead. I could do it on my own (not!), otherwise, I would have to head up to Danville, where Nike organizes their Sunday morning training runs. But then while having dinner with JL (no longer JM) on Thursday, she helped me realize that there was another option for getting my long run in - through the SF marathon!

I registered online by Friday morning. The first half was already sold out. It's a much more scenic run, but also hilly AND would start anywhere between 5:30-6:10AM *yikes* !!! So I had no problems with running the second half which started at Golden Gate Park around 8:30AM and finished by the ball park.

But here's the thing - I felt sort of prepared and trained for this race since I had been doing 8-10 mi runs leading up to this, but on the other hand, I didn't feel properly prepared at all. For the other halfs, I had already done 12 and 13 mi runs before the race with the proper tapering down of mileage in the weeks before. Not so with this one... because I hadn't planned to do the half, I already had run a combined 10 miles that week, not to mention the wacky weekend before where I did a combined 22 miles of walking and running just on Saturday and Sunday alone!

Anyway, cut to Sunday morning. It was an early one! Even though my start was after 8AM, the shuttle busses from the finish to the 2nd half start in the park left between 6:30-7AM so as a result, I had to be up a little before 5AM. I’m glad I got on that first 6:30AM shuttle though, because the lines for the bathrooms weren’t too bad when we finally arrived at the park. The lines would quickly get ridiculously long all the way until the race started.

I tried to do a quick warm up jog but my legs weren’t feeling too great and not only that, I started getting a slight cramp in my right side! Egads, not a good sign, but I just ignored it. At least, we had perfect running weather! Cool, a little overcast, and even a little misty in the morning.

The race had pace leaders (well, technically, they were Clif Bar pace leaders) that held signs with balloons listed with their intended finishing time. And those pace leaders held those signs and balloons for the entire race – even the full marathoners! Anyway, I found Mr. 2:10 which meant he would finish the 2nd half in 2 hours and 10 minutes. That was right around my finishing time for my previous two halfs so I stuck around him near the start and followed him to set my pace.

I was doing OK for awhile, but after the first aid station, I quickly fell behind. After the second stop, I had completely lost sight of those balloons all together. I was a little disappointed knowing that I wouldn’t be getting a great time but I kept chugging along. Occasionally, I would glance at my heart rate monitor to check my “status” but I just sort of paid attention to how my body felt to determine how hard to push myself. I actually never checked my time at all during the race and I really liked how the mile markers didn’t have clocks, as well.

Anyway, the first half of the course was through the Golden Gate Park – it got a little more interesting once we exited into the Haight area. There were more spectators then and the streets had all these random signs with SF trivia and inspirational comments. Some were random though - does anyone care that the two towers of the Golden Gate Bridge contain a combined 23 ladders? Now here’s the weird part... once we were outside of the park, there were a few areas where the course had alternative routes to allow traffic to get through. So at times, the runners would split up into different paths and then meet up again later on. Around mile 8, we had turned a corner to meet up with the other runners and you’ll never believe what was around the corner – Mr. 2:10! I had lost him miles ago and here he was! I’m thinking he started out the race at a faster pace because early on he wasn’t too far behind the 2:00 pace leader considering that he was supposed to cross the finish line 10 minutes later. I didn’t feel like I had run any faster in the middle of the race. Anyway, I ended up passing him – not intentionally, I was just keeping my pace since I was pretty comfortable with it. The rest of the race went by pretty quickly, despite the lack of any good scenery. Normally, I start feeling beaten down by mile 12 but the AT&T Park was at mile 12 so that was kind of fun since there were a lot of fans there getting ready to see an SF Giants game that afternoon.

I only started sprinting to the finish once I could actually see the finish line – as I got closer, I saw the clock read 2:12-something. I was a little bummed until I realized I was part of the second wave start. After I crossed, my watch read that I finished in 2:08-something – YAY!!!

The medal and the food stuff afterward were OK. The nice thing was that I was able to catch up with JL and ML afterward (their friend had run the full marathon) before their big departure from SF. It was also nice and sunny by that point as well – perfect timing!

After chugging lots of fluids, eating, stretching and whatnot, I finally headed back down home where I continued to drink, eat, and stretch. I iced my legs too. Afterward, I took a well-deserved nap but then woke up with a horrible headache. I felt nauseated, too. Was this because I was dehydrated? I thought I was OK on that front but maybe not.

Anyway, I’m glad I did it! Way more fun than running around some trail in Danville. :)

Monday, July 23, 2007

Week 12 Wrap Up

If you're a perceptive, dedicated reader, you may have noticed that I've jumped from Week 4 to Week 12. OK, I'm also certain no one caught that, but just in case, I thought I should mention that I realized I should start naming these in descending order to match my training plan.

This was a more unusual training week - 4 miles up in SF on Wed, a quick 2 mi treadmill run on Thursday, a 10 mile hill run up in SF again, and finally the exciting 6 mi Wharf to Wharf run yesterday for a weekly total of 22 miles!

I have to say, I'm pretty pleased with my progress so far. I feel pretty good. No sore or tight muscles - yet. Haven't woken up to any crazy amount of pain. No need to take the Glucosamine. I think the rest days, stretching, strength training, and cross training (currently alternating between spinning and stairs) have been working out well. No problems yet - knock on wood!!!

Wharf to Wharf (and back again)

* WARNING * This posted ended up being crazy long - my apologies in advance!

Yesterday, my friends (who I will cleverly name "R", "S", and "T") and I ran Wharf to Wharf, a 6 mi run between the cute beach towns of Santa Cruz and Capitola. It's a pretty popular race with 15,000 runners and sells out every year.

I don't often get the chance to run with my friends so that was a nice thing about this one. Also, there were lots of entertainment along the sidelines with different bands, cheerleaders, etc. The views of the ocean were also nice as well.

Despite all that, I don't plan to run this one again. For one, it was super hot. The race started at 8:30AM and the sun was already out and about, brightly shining down on us for the entire race. I don't really enjoy running in the heat (which is one of the reasons I like doing my long training runs up in SF, where it's a lot cooler) so it wasn't the most comfortable. Thank goodness for some of the local residents along the route who sprayed all the runners with their water hoses. But apparently, the hot weather was not typical and usually the weather is much cooler.

The biggest drawback for me? The crowds! I expected it to be pretty congested for the first mile or so (especially when you start toward the end of the pack like we did) but it was crowded for the entire 6 mile route!!! I spent most of the race strategically planning how to weave around the people in front of me. I think there were only a few moments when I actually had more than three feet of open space in front of me. End result? Finishing times: Official = 1:09, Audrey's watch = 1:04.

Wharf to Wharf Course Map
Course Map of Wharf to Wharf Race

So that was the race part. But the fun doesn't end there. :) Because you start in Santa Cruz and finish in Capitola, most runners (like us) park at Santa Cruz and then the race provides shuttle busses to take you from Capitola back to the start - but only if you are registered and had a bib. Well, "R" wasn't registered so the plan was that the registered ones would take the bus back, get the car, and then pick up "R" over in Capitola. With the race stuff going on, we assumed they wouldn't be able to pick him up right at the end of the race, so "R" decided to start walking back toward Santa Cruz so that the other guys could pick him up along the way once they had the car. Well, I didn't want "R" to have to walk by himself, so I decided to join him. We wouldn't have to walk too far, right? Maybe a mile or two, maybe? Just wait.

With our plan in place, me and "R" start heading back to Santa Cruz, using the street roads since the race course was still super crowded. "S" and "T" were off to go wait in line for the shuttle bus. So "R" and I are walking for a little bit, maybe half hour or so (keeping in mind, it's still hot out and we just ran 6 miles) and "R" decides to check in with the other team. Did they get on the bus yet? No. They had made a stop at some house party at the beach first. *insert dead silence here* I'm sorry, what??? In their defense, they claim they were only there for 5 minutes which later became 15 minutes which later became "S" claiming that she had to force "T" and a fifth party (who is only unidentified because I don't know him well him enough to blast him on my blog) to leave the party. In any case, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and believe that they weren't partying it up the entire time "R" and I were walking down Capitola Rd in the blazing sun. I sure hope they weren't cooling off with margaritas while "R" and I have to stop at a local gas station to get our own refreshments (him Gatorade, me Propel) and snacks. Anyway, I digress.

I wish I had noted the times on my watch when we first left because I really don't know how long we actually walked. All I know is that everytime we checked in, they still weren't on the frickin' bus! So I'll cut to the chase since this post is already wicked long. Not only did "R" and I get to the car first, we beat them by at least a half hour!!! Apparently, the line for the shuttle busses were ridiculously long - like the kind you see at theme parks. Hey Wharf to Wharf planners - get your act together!!!

So let's see, "R" and I have now run 6 miles and walked another 6 miles. Let's not forget that I had just done a 10 mi run the day before and "R" was severely sleep deprived (I won't say why - but if you really want to know, click here). I won't speak for him, but I was tired and really just wanted to head home, take a shower, and take a nap. But instead, we parked ourselves on a sidewalk corner and continued to wait. "S" had the keys to the car.

Finally! "S" and "T" plus unidentified fifth party (now to be named UFP) arrive in Santa Cruz. They wanted to have lunch in downtown Santa Cruz. OK, fine. Plans were made that they would come meet us at the car and we would drive over to downtown. We wait. We check on their status. We find out they were already at the restaurant. Apparently, we misunderstood. Although the bus drop off seemed to be equal distance from the car as well as downtown, they decided to head downtown. I guess that wouldn't be a big deal, except that meant "R" and I were walking the half mile or so to get there now - walking again? Oh joy!!!

To no surprise, my mood greatly improved once I got some food and drinks in my system. After lunch, "S" and "T" were delegated to go retrieve the car and pick us up. They left while we finished our drinks and took care of the bill. After awhile, we got bored and started walking in their direction. We finally stopped and sat at this corner while we waited for them to pick us up. After several minutes passed, UFP wondered aloud, "Where are they?"

"R" and I just busted out laughing.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

10 Mile Run in San Francisco

This morning, I ran my first double digit run this year. Coincidentally, this was also the first hill-y run of the year. Oh joy.

It was definitely challenging. Starting at the marina, we went pass Crissy Field and then through the Presidio where we faced lots of different hills. They weren't too bad and I managed to run through all of them. We then went across town to run through Golden Gate Park. This part was nice because 1) it was pretty flat and 2) I got to see several areas of the park that I hadn't seen yet. For example, a rose garden, a waterfall, and a big purple head! That was covered about the first seven miles. Then we took the Arguello, Jackson, Baker Sts. route that we often used during the runs last year. Unfortunately, that meant the second set of hills appeared in mile 8 when I was already pretty beat. So I chose to walk a lot of those and I noticed a lot of the other runners did the same. But by mile 9, it was all downhill (literally) so it was all good. It took me over two hours to finish the course which was OK with all the hills plus the fact that I stopped at every one of the four aid stations. :)

I tried something new today, too. I guess you're supposed to take an ice bath after long runs to help with muscle soreness. So a lot of the Nike runners will dip into the bay after we return from the run since it's right there at the marina. And you know? My legs did feel pretty good afterward! Plus it was a beautiful day in SF this morning so it was kind of fun to be hanging out in the water with a gorgeous view of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz, too. It was pretty funny seeing all these runners (myself included) holding their shorts up standing around talking in water up to their thighs. Kind of reminded me of a bunch of flamingos.

Another thing I've been doing is leaving my iPod at home when I do these group runs. Although I was running by myself for most of the run, there were always other runners nearby and everyone was really good about checking in with each other and making sure we all knew about any changes in the course route. But it was interesting to run with no music, especially for over two hours. I thought I would be bored, but it was actually kind of nice. Some time to think. :) Although, I couldn't tell you what I had thought about then - hee, hee.

I did meet some other runners that are also training for the marathon that are at my pace as well. That made me feel better since I was worried about being stuck alone during these training runs.

One last note on something I thought was pretty funny. During the run, I saw a guy wearing a Michigan T-shirt, so of course, I had to yell, "Go Blue!". Then about five minutes later, we passed a guy running up Lyon stairs wearing a St. Ignatius Wildcats T-shirt!!! Now, what are the chances of that???

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Nike Run at Niketown in Union Square

So I changed things up a little bit this week... I ventured up to SF Wednesday night to join the Nike club for a short run at Niketown in Union Square. Better yet, I got another buddy to join me - thanks Dr. M! He's another one of those speedy gonzales runners, but he was nice enough to go slummin' with me. :P

This was a weird one, though... we had just departed from Niketown when all of a sudden there was a big scuffle next to H&M - two guys had some other guy pinned down to the ground, people were yelling about calling 911 but none of us runners had a cell phone on us... anyway, turns out it was a shoplifter. It was pretty crazy!

I did a shoe trial during the run with their Nike Pegasus sneakers which weren't bad. I had actually already purchased them before but then returned them to exchange them for these Nike Vomero ones which are supposed to arrive tomorrow.

Today's freebie was a brand new pair of Nike dri-fit socks in baby blue. Very exciting! I love collecting these socks. :) You only get them with the shoe trials.

We also got these cool little handout giveaway thingies (sorry for the super generic term). You know those little signs that small businesses will put in their door window when they've stepped out - they have a picture of a clock with movable clock hands so that you can indicate what time you will return? So it was a little card that looked like that and on one side is the clock and reads "Gone Running". And on the back, it says this:

"That's right. I'm out of here. Do not chase me down or text me or try to talk me into going out to lunch. I don't have time to figure out if I have time for a run. I'm just going. The world will not fall apart in my absence. I might miss somebody's birthday cake or a discussion on last night's season finale. Even if I do, who cares. I'm coming back with a state of mind three coffees, two flirtatious emails and a week of vacation can't buy."
Pretty cool, right? In the great words of Mr. Nike - JUST DO IT!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

My training schedule for long runs

Here is my training plan for my long runs in preparation for the Chicago marathon. I've modeled this after the Nike Marathon Intermediate training plan which seems to work well since the Chicago marathon is two weeks earlier. I compared it to the Hal Higdon novice training plan and they're pretty similar.

Week 16: 5 mi____Check!
Week 15: 8 mi____Check!
Week 14: 9 mi____Check!
Week 13: 8 mi____Check!
Week 12: 10 mi
Week 11: 12 mi
Week 10: 10 mi
Week 9: 14 mi
Week 8: 16 mi
Week 7: 12 or 18 mi
Week 6: 18 or 10 mi
Week 5: 14 mi
Week 4: 20 mi
Week 3: 12 mi
Week 2: 8 mi
Week +1: 6 mi
Week +2: Nike Half Marathon

Week 9 should be interesting (Aug 11) because then I will be running distances beyond what I've done for last year's half marathons. Yikes!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Week 4 Wrap Up

This is the first week I got to do a distance run with the Nike Club Run and I did 8 miles again. Funny thing is that the course was the same one I did last week along the Embarcadero - what a coinkydink!

I was very excited to bring my first "buddy" this year - thanks KB! KB is a very seasoned runner, triathlete, supergirl, etc who had also run the Nike Half but was new to the club runs. She is also wicked fast so she ran with the "speedy gonzales" group.

I ran with the 11:30 min/mi group but after a mile or two, I went ahead because I thought their pace was too slow. I ended up running with another runner which worked out well because he pushed my pace just *slightly* faster than I normally would have run. We finished up at 1:29 which is pretty close to an 11:00 min/mi pace. That's better than my normal training pace, so I was pleased.

Rockstar KB had originally planned to do 8, but she then found some fun running buddies so she stuck with them for the 12 mi run!!! Not only that - they finished around an 8:45 pace! Woo-hoo, good job, KB!!!

Random thought... in my experience with the training runs last year, it seems like most of the runners in the slower groups (11:00, 11:30, 12:00, etc) are training for the half marathon and therefore usually run the shorter courses during our weekly runs. So I wasn't too surprised to learn that I was one of the last few groups to return back from the run. Ah well!

No big freebies this week, but I did confiscate more than my fair share of mini-sized Luna bars - it was like Halloween! In my defense, the volunteers packing up the stuff practically forced them on me. ;)

Summary for Week 4: 4,2,8,4 = 18 miles

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Nike Club Runs (also known as place for FREE STUFF!)

I like the Nike Club Runs because they are free and fun and they're great for getting your long runs in.

Another reason why I force myself to be up in the city by 8 AM on a Saturday morning? The potential for FREE STUFF!!!

Normally, I don't like to collect too much "junk" and give-away stuff, but every now and then we get some good stuff at these runs.

So at the first run this past Saturday, we all got free Nike flip flops.

These came in handy because they also offered free pedicures after the run. I didn't get one. It was too cold and I've been starting to develop some blisters that I don't want others messing around with. But I saw some other girls that did get them and they looked pretty good.

Also, Jamba Juice was there (they often are) and they welcomed us back after the run with fruit smoothies. They also gave out Jamba Juice gift cards with those "mystery" values anywhere from $1 to maybe $25, I think? Usually, I get the $1 cards which I'm still happy to use - but this time, I got a $25 card!!! Yee-haw!

Anyway, I'll be blogging more about these Nike Runs in future postings. Let me know if you want to check them out. They are every week - Wednesday evenings at Niketown, Saturday mornings at the Marina, and Sunday mornings in Danville.

26.2 miles is enough for me, thanks

I think it's fun to check out websites of other marathons and see what kind of cool routes there are and stuff. For example, I've always thought that the Walt Disney World marathon would be fun because you go through all four of their parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, MGM, and Animal Kingdom) AND you get a Mickey Mouse medal. But that's in January and who wants to train during the holidays? :) They also have a half marathon that weekend as well (which earns you a Donald Duck medal). And then I just learned they have this thing called Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge. This is for 3000 crazy runners who complete BOTH the half marathon on that Saturday as well as the full marathon the next day!!! What kind of crazy people sign up for this??? Sure, you get a Goofy medal in addition to the Mickey and Donald medals, but really? Isn't this a bit excessive?

Actually, on second thought... I guess it isn't that crazy. Not when you compare that to the running freaks that would sign up for a 56 mile ultramarathon in the rough terrains of South Africa. I mean, only a sick bastard would do that. ;)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

New Running Mix

I just set up a new running mix for my short runs which I tried out this morning. I'm not an early bird, but I like doing my morning runs. 1) It's cool out and not blazing hot, 2) Not much traffic to dodge, and 3) I don't have to worry about slathering on the sunblock.

Here is my new random short running mix:

Song TitleArtist
Paradise By the Dashboard LightMeatloaf
Beautiful LiarBeyoncé & Shakira
Girlfriend (Clean Version)Avril Lavigne
Rebel YellBilly Idol
UmbrellaRihanna featuring Jay-Z
Chelsea DaggerThe Fratellis
Smiley FacesGnarls Barkley
Where's Your Head AtBasement Jaxx
Love and MemoriesO.A.R.
This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms RaceFall Out Boy
Tell Me 'Bout ItJoss Stone
Do YaPeaches
Fergalicious (Edited VersionFergie
Do Your ThingBasement Jaxx

Supposedly this link will sent you to the iMix in the iTunes store in case you want to download any of these for yourself. But I'm wondering if this link only works on Macs because it's not working for me.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Weekly Wrap Up: Weeks 1-3

Well, it's Monday so that means it's the beginning of another training week. For my personal training plan, Monday is a rest / stretch day. I was going to start up yoga again tonight but I was at work pretty late so I'll probably pick it up next week.

So let's see... Week 3 went well. I do my long runs on Saturdays and this week the Nike Club Run SF started up again so I trekked up to SF this weekend. As I was driving up at 7AM in the morning (the runs start at 8AM at the Marina), I was thinking, ugh, I am not looking forward to doing this drive every Saturday morning again. But you know what, as soon as I arrived at the Marina and saw tons of runners and bikers already out and doing their thing, I definitely got pumped up! :)

As I mentioned before, the Nike marathon/half-marathon is actually two weeks after the Chicago marathon. Since this is their "Week One", we just did a kick off one mile run. It was fun but I'm on week three for my race training so after that whole thing was over, I had to do my own 8 mile run.

I picked a fun route that we did last year with the Club Runs. It's flat with a lot of fun sightseeing. Basically I went down Marina to Fort Mason thru Aquatic Park to Jefferson past all the Fisherman's Wharf craziness continuing down Embarcadero past the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market all the way down to Folsom which is where that crazy bow and arrow structure sits. And then I turned around and ran back.

It was kind of funny running by all the touristy areas - dodging them all was a bit of a challenge and I know I ran into at least one group tourist photo shot. Ooops. Plus they were all in fleeces and scarves and stuff and I was in shorts and a light T-shirt.

Anyway, below is the running route I took. I love this Google map pedometer site. The Nike Running Club introduced me to it. I used to drive my car around trying to figure out mileage!

So with the 9 miles I did on Saturday, plus the 3 miles I did on Tuesday (while home on vacation!), the 2 mile treadmill run on Thursday, and the 4 mile run yesterday on Sunday, I ended up with an 18 mile week.

Status to date:

Week 1: 2,4,5,5 = 16 miles
Week 2: 5,4,8 = 17 miles
Week 3: 3,2,9,4 = 18 miles

I think I'm off to a good start, right? :)

Wanted: Tunes That Make You MOVE!

Now that I'm running again, I've dusted off the iPod nano and am on the lookout for new tunes to add to my running mix.

I'm excited because this blogger from Entertainment Weekly magazine had the same mission today: iPod inspection: What's on your cardio playlist? And coincidentally it was a topic on (BTW, I'm not familiar with, but I think it's a fairly popular pop culture-related website.)

As for me, some songs that get me moving these days are "Girlfriend" by Avril Lavigne and either "Chelsea Dagger" or "Flathead" by The Fratellis. But I've been picking out some random, older tunes, too. For example, while at a fair at my old grade school back at home in OH (weird, right?), they played Meatloaf's "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" and I thought, hey this is a fun song to get me moving to! OK, actually, my *first* thought was, hmmm, this would be a cute song to see a jive routine to on either Dancing with the Stars or So You Think You Can Dance. (Does anyone else ever have thoughts like this???)

And then on my way to work, they played Billy Idol's "Rebel Yell" on the radio and as soon as it started playing, I thought, ooh, I could run to this.

Anyway, how about you guys? Any good suggestions? I need at least five hours worth of tunes!!!
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