Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Wish me luck!

I just entered the lottery for the NYC marathon! I figure, if nothing else, at least I'm guaranteed for 2011! :)

Otherwise, all is good. Haven't been running though since the 5K. Oops. I did manage to make it to my gym for one of those "step circuit" classes. I used to take them all the time. You alternate between cardio drills on the step and then strength training exercises. Well it's been awhile since I've done any strength training so I got my *ss kicked that night. It was good, though, I definitely think if I get in that routine again, my running will improve. I also want to get back into taking spinning every week, too.

But for now, I am traveling for work. China this week, Japan the next. So far, the trip is going fine, other than my jet lag only allows me to get about 4 hours of sleep a night but somehow I manage. I just wish we were stationed in one place instead of traveling to a different city every day.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Race Report: President's Day 5K - 2nd place female finisher overall

Yep, I'm gonna let that set in for a bit...

OK - time to 'fess up with the details. This morning I decided to take advantage of a local 5K race. I had the day off so I could have just slept in instead, but I wanted to do a 5K so that I can participate in the Shave Your 5K challenge. (Yep, I'm really into these virtual races!)

The race was small - maybe 75 runners total that were split between the 5K and 10K distances. I liked the small race feel as it was pretty laidback. Before the adults took off, they first had the kids run which shared the same start line but went in the opposite direction. So all the adult runners lined up at the start had to clear the path for the little kiddies. And let me tell you, it was the CUTEST thing ever!!! There were maybe 10 kids total, I'm guessing between the ages of 4-8. Some took off running on their own, others had to be pulled along by their parents. They did an out and back so it was fun to cheer them on their way out as well as on their way back in. Super cute.

The kids' race gave me a nice jolt of energy this morning because I was still a sleepy squirrel at that point. So now it's our turn. The race on the website was described as a flat out and back course. Um... it was not. As soon as we took off, we immediately had to tackle a big ole hill. OK, it wasn't like an SF cable-car hill, but still, it was something you had to tackle. I guess in a way it was good because it helped to thin out the pack (all 75 of us, heehee).

My goal was to try and stay as close as possible to a 9:00 min/mi pace. I was shocked when I received my mile 1 time of 8:59 considering the hill was slowing me down. Then again, the hill did go down a bit as well so I'm sure that's where I was able to recover a bit. I finally got to the flat part where I focused on keeping my pace and breathing pretty even. After I hit the turn around point, I started to realize that I had only seen one female runner ahead of me, which of course is unusual for me.

Mile 2 was 8:58 - again, I'm shocked. Eventually we get back to the darn hilly part again. Mile 3 was 9:24 - oops. Finally, I get to the downhill part to the finish - yay! I crossed the finish line when the clock read 28:45. (Side note - something was really out of sync with my Garmin and the clock b/c my Garmin was 28:15. They should have been pretty close since I was practically at the front when the race started.)

After I finished, they told me I was the second female finisher overall (out of, um... maybe 12 total???). We all got medals, too! (I've really been lucking out in that department!) I guess I got a different color ribbon on my medal because I was one of the top placers. Who would have thought - a second place finish for running a 5K with a 9:16 average pace? Eh, I'll take it! I'm sure it won't happen again so might as well milk it.

I do have more confidence in my 5K pace now so that's good. And I think I already know which 5K race I will target for the "smooth" part of the challenge. It's the 5K offered with the SF marathon. I got my PR there in 2005. Now that is a true FLAT course and it has chip timing so accurate timing is guaranteed!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

An impromptu practice 5K

I set out to do my normal 4 mi trail run this morning. As I started running, I realized I hadn't done any speedwork in awhile so I decided to do a tempo run where I would do a one mile warm-up, then 2 miles at a 5K pace (whatever that is as it's been awhile), and then a one mile cool down.

So I did the first mile and then proceeded to speed up. I didn't really check my pace while I was running but just checked on my heart rate which was steadily increasing. I was pumping my arms more, watching my breathing more, and was pushing myself along.

Unfortunately, I didn't pace myself very well because I ended up having to take a recovery jog after that mile because my heart rate was super high. So since my tempo run idea had gone out the window, I decided to change it up. For mile 3, I did a bit of a recovery jog for a half mile and then sped up again for the second half of the mile.

Then I realized to go for a 5K just to see what my pace would be like. So once I hit mile 3, I kept going that extra 0.1 mile. And since I was sprinting at that point, it felt like forever to get that last bit in.

Anyway, here are the splits:

1 - 10:02
2 - 8:56
3 - 9:56
0.1 - 0:49 (8:21 pace)

Total: 3.1 miles, 29:43, 9:36 pace

Well, that's not *too* bad. I might do a 5K this weekend so it's good to know where my pace is at these days. Of course, I wouldn't be running any 5K in this manner with such a roller coaster of pace and heart rates!

And I did record my fastest time for the mile on this run (at least for the last two years), so yay for that.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

New updates to the 2008 Race Calendar

I've made a couple of additions to my 2008 race calendar! Check them out:

Emerald Across the Bay 12K

I signed up for this one for a couple of reasons:

1. On Saturday, I went up to Sausalito via the Golden Gate bridge and it was gorgeous up there! I pretty much decided then that I was going to do the Emerald 12K. I hope the weather is just as nice on race day!

2. The race is five weeks from now and during two of those weeks I'll be on a business trip in China and Japan. Unfortunately, I am not very good about working out when traveling. Vacation, maybe. Business, hardly ever! So I'm hoping that having this race a week after I return will motivate me to get my butt in gear overseas.

On a side note, I ran the Golden Gate Bridge before during the US Half in 2006 - it's definitely fun but to get on the bridge, you need to tackle some serious hills. And I haven't done much hill work lately so I'll need to do some work there.

San Jose Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon

My first Rock 'n' Roll event! I'm excited to run this one as it's right in my backyard. The course will be nice and flat so I plan to target this one for a new half PR. It's not until October so I have plenty of time to train. And it was a good deal, too. Using the Disney coupon code ("Disney", if you're interested) with early registration, it was only a $50 race!

Anyone care to join me for these two?

9 on the 9th, oops, I mean 10th

I have to say upfront, many thanks to Non-Runner Nancy for coordinating the 9 on the 9th run. If it wasn't for her fun idea, I'm not sure I would have gotten off my lazy butt to go running and if I did, it probably would have been for 4-6 miles, not 9! I'm so glad I got to participate in another virtual race - here's the scoop:

Weather conditions: Sunny and gorgeous! Such a nice change from the rainy, windy run last weekend.

Course: Easy out-and-back course on the nearby trail

Race day outfit: I was able to run outside in shorts and a T-shirt (which I haven't done in forever!) so I debuted my Nike marathon finisher's shirt and the matching shorts.

Race amenities: Timing by Garmin and water and electrolytes available throughout the course via my fuelbelt

The trail was loaded with runners, walkers, dog-walkers, and bikers today. The weather was so perfect and such a nice refreshing change from the gloomy rain we've been having here lately that I think people couldn't wait to get outside and enjoy it!

The run was a little tough for me as I've done absolutely nothing since the half. I definitely slowed down a lot in the second half of the run but managed to pick it up again for the last mile.

Mile splits:
1 - 10:02
2 - 9:41
3 - 9:46
4 - 10:24
5 - 9:51
6 - 10:20
7 - 11:15
8 - 10:53
9 - 9:49

Finish time: 1:32:00, avg 10:13 pace

I just realized that my finish time from this race is an improvement from my 8 on the 8th finish time (1:33:59)! Granted, that run was actually part of a 16 mile run that day and was on a course with some hills and stoplights, but still - fun improvement!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Race Report: Kaiser Permanente SF Half Marathon

Wow - that was a crazy half, but I survived! It wasn't a super difficult race but it did have two challenges: 1) The weather and 2) the course.

Race Morning

The day started at 4:45AM for me. Ouch - that was harsh. I hit the road about an hour later to drive an hour north to SF. I finally got up there around 6:40AM for an 8AM race start. They had us park toward the finish area along the Great Highway which is along Ocean Beach and the Pacific Ocean. It's been raining like crazy here lately and as soon as you got of your car that morning, you knew that running here was not going to be easy. It wasn't raining yet, but it was really windy! Rain was forecasted so I brought my never-been-used poncho with me just in case it got super-rainy at the race start.

After parking, we then all got in a long line to hop on board one of the many yellow school busses waiting to take us to the race start. (By the way, these things now have seat belts!) It didn't take us long to get to the start in Golden Gate Park where the weather was much nicer. I decided to go ahead and sweat check my poncho. I then made a pit stop, caught up with a friend of mine, did a warm up jog, and got in line in the start corral.

No Chip Timing :(

I probably should have tried to find a spot a bit closer to the actual start line since this race was based only on clock time but instead I squeezed in by the 9 minute mile sign (the slowest one they had next to baby joggers) . I started getting more excited once we all got packed in, listened to the national anthem, and then waited for the race to start. Once that kicked off, I finally crossed the start line about 4 minutes later.

Through Golden Gate Park

The first half wasn't bad at all - we started in the middle of Golden Gate Park and then made our way to the panhandle, turned around and then ran back through the park. There were some elevation changes, but for the most part it was a nice, flat course with plenty of aid stations. Weather cooperated for the bulk of the race but I was prepared for the worst. I went with my trusty North Face jacket that I knew would block out the rain while still being pretty breathable and combined it with my Nike capris.

Seeing the elites in action

Because of the way the course was routed, I passed the finish line between miles 6 and 7. I think at that point the clock read 1:07. We suddenly saw a lone runner appear around the bend so we all cheered him on as he approached the finish. We found out from a volunteer that he was actually in 2nd place! Wow, those people were crazy fast. (I must have just missed the winner who finished in 1:06:44.)

The Buzzkill (aka Great Highway)

The first seven miles through Golden Gate Park were pretty enjoyable but then you have to deal with the dreaded Great Highway for the rest of the race. On some days, it's probably a pretty run since you're right on the beach but not during race day - instead it was gloomy and windy. I find this part of the course to be pretty monotonous - it's a straight three mile out and back. So you're running and running and running and you know you're just going to repeat it all over again. (And yes, I realize I already whined about this during my Nike recap.)

I finally get to the turn-around point around mile 10 where I was hoping it would be smooth sailing from there. Only a 5K left, right? Well... not quite. I had two surprises waiting for me...
1) The wind that sort of helped push me along miles 8-10 was now fighting me back for miles 11-13 - oh joy!
2) It started raining. Hard. Combined with the wind, it actually felt like little stabs on your face.

I don't know - I found it all amusing. It's times like this when you think, "Maybe my friends are right. I *am* crazy for doing this." But honestly, it wasn't that bad. It was uncomfortable but I kept telling myself that it was better than hot and humid weather. And it was. Maybe my jacket was so soaked that it was clinging to my skin but at least I didn't have to worry about feeling faint or wanting to throw up which is how I felt during Chicago and Disney.

So I kept running along. I was starting to fade toward the end so I picked out runners in front of me and just sort of visualized them pulling me along. I was trying to fight the temptation to take a walking break so close to the end. It worked pretty well and sometimes I would even pass my target runner.

Reaching the Finish

I was pretty excited once we approached the park again and my stint on the Great Highway was over. At that point, I felt comfortable with picking up my speed and sprinting toward the finish.

Final clock time: 2:16:55, 10:27 pace

BUT in my books...

Garmin watch time: 2:13:36, 10:12 pace

I'm pretty happy with that. My goal was 2:10 but since my last two major races were marathons in the >12:00 pace range, I'm happy to know that I can still manage a half in the ~10:00 pace range.

Last Thoughts

For $40, this was a pretty good marathon considering we got a T-shirt and a medal out of it. I'm not sure if I would run it again, though. On one hand, it's a nice way to kick off a "holiday" knowing you're going to pig out later. On the other hand, the second half of the course is super boring - not to mention that the weather there is hardly ever in your favor. Who knows? I could try to set a new course record there next year.

And before I forget, congrats to Kirby for surpassing her goal with the awesome finish time of 1:42 - woo hoo!

Anyway, some pics... Here's a cheesy photo I took of me in my race T and my medal before I headed to the Superbowl festivities. I was tempted to leave the medal on, but ultimately left it off - I didn't want it to interfere with all my snacking. It would be so sad if my medal accidentally got dunked into spinach dip or something.

And then a close-up of the medal. They usually don't give them out but I guess they did one this year because it was the 25th anniversary of the race. It's definitely the nicest medal I've ever received for a half.

Friday, February 1, 2008

"Just" a Half Marathon?

I had a funny conversation with a co-worker of mine yesterday evening. He is based out of a different office and was in town visiting so a bunch of us went out for dinner. He had sponsored me when I trained with TNT this past fall and asked if I had any other marathons coming up. I told him I didn't have any planned for the time being and that I was just running a half marathon on Sunday. He paused and commented that it was funny that I called it "just" a half marathon, since for most people that was a big thing that they had to train for. I realized he didn't know about Disney so I explained that I had just run a full marathon three weeks earlier so I was just mooching off of that training.

It did make me laugh to think about how much I've progressed in the last few years to get to this point. I casually attempted a 5K back in 2002 with not much running experience and finished in 0:37:23, a 12:06 pace. I didn't pick up running again until three years later in 2005. This time, I "trained" a bit more and signed up for my first "real" 5K event. I was so nervous! I think I was hoping to finish in around 31:00. I was so thrilled when I came in at 29:28, a 9:30 pace. A "big" improvement from three years earlier! That's when I started going all gung-ho with running as I ran my first 10K two weeks later finishing in 1:00:42, a 9:47 pace. I ran another 5K a few weeks after that. The day before the race, my friends asked me if I was nervous. I responded, "Not really - it's just a 5K." And they loved that! I could barely run one mile before and now I didn't think much of running three! (BTW - I got a new 5K PR during that race finishing in 27:37, an 8:53 pace, which I have no plans of breaking anytime soon.)

I then trained for my first half marathon the following year. During training, my cousin and I signed up for a 10K. At this point, we had already built up our mileage to 8-10 miles so were we worried about this race? Nope, 'cause it was just a 10K! :)

And now here I am, casually mentioning my half marathon this weekend. How time flies! Don't get me wrong - I still get nervous in getting ready for any race. That's part of the fun! But it's nice when you've conquered the unknown. OK, maybe not conquer, but you've been there, done that, so it's not as intimidating as it once was. Also, I'm pretty sure I will never toss around "just a marathon" kind of nonsense. Those suckers beat me down every time.

Anyway, I guess I'm ready for the half on Sunday! Here's how the rest of my training went this week:

Tuesday - 4 mi run

Mile 1 - 10:10
Mile 2 - 9:58
Mile 3 - 10:33
Mile 4 - 10:20

Total miles = 4.01 with 10:16 avg pace

Wednesday - Tempo Run

Warm-up (15 minutes) - 1.43 miles with 10:30 avg pace
Tempo Run (10 minutes) - 1.07 miles with 9:18 avg pace
Cool down (5 minutes) - 0.37 miles with 13:28 avg pace

Total miles = 2.88 with 10:26 avg pace

I was going to finish with a 2 mi run on Thursday but didn't get a chance to squeeze it in. I should be good to go though. I'm looking forward to running the race and then enjoying Superbowl treats later on!
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