Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I don't get it

My favorite spinning teacher had a baby (her first) on July 9th. She was back teaching our spinning class on Monday. As in less than three weeks later!!!

I don't have kids but... how is this possible??? I thought new mommies had to wait six weeks or so before exercising again. Plus I didn't think riding a bike would be, um, comfortable after giving birth.

Anyway, I'm definitely glad to have her back. I tried a new spin teacher while she was gone and it just wasn't the same.

In other news... I ran with the Nike running club again this past weekend - 4 miles in SF (short run only as I had to be at an early afternoon baptism that day) and then another 8 miles in Danville on Sunday. Both runs are about an hour away from where I live so yeah, it's kinda crazy that I spent four hours last weekend just driving but it's worth it for me. It's hard for me to motivate myself to do a long run on my own these days plus it gets warm pretty early where I live. So I actually don't mind the commute. And I get some nice hill work as well:

4 miles in SF

8 miles in Danville

On Monday, I did spinning AND did weights. Yesterday, I tried out this core fusion class at my gym where they combined Yoga and Pilates with a focus on the core. It was a good class that didn't seem too challenging but wow, I could really feel it this morning. Anyway, I'm trying to spend more time at the gym to justify my pricey membership fees. After the core fusion class, I did a quick interval workout at the track.

As for today - it's all about So You Think You Can Dance and Project Runway! :)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Races I Would and Wouldn't Run Again

During this weekend's Nike training run, my pace group was chit chatting about what races we were training for. One girl mentioned that she was running the Nike full marathon this fall to "avenge" her race from last year. I could sympathize - I also ran the full last year and found it challenging on a number of levels (the hills, the course, the fact that it was unusually warm that day, etc). It sounded like it was a lot rougher for her - I guess she had stopped sweating during the last third of the race. Yikes!

Mine wasn't that bad... but I definitely didn't give it my best. The thing is - I'm OK with that. Nike full: 1, Audrey: 0. I was glad I did it but there was no way I would sign up for that again. My full list of grievances can be found here but in short, I personally thought the route of the second half of the course was just plain cruel.

So I started thinking - are there any other races that I wouldn't repeat?

Races I'm Glad I Have Run but Wouldn't Run Again

1. Nike Women's *Full* Marathon: see link above
2. Bay to Breakers 12K: It was definitely cool to see it from a sober runner's perspective (Update: I did the drinking version from 2001-2006), but next time I participate in this event, I want to be parked on a comfy lawn chair in Golden Gate Park watching the parade of drunken nonsense go by. BTW - I still have an unfinished race report for this one. Someday I'll finish it... someday...
3. Wharf to Wharf: This is a fun race that I think all bay area runners should do once. It's another point to point race from Santa Cruz to Capitola (beach towns). It's more of a fun run and it sells out every year at ~15,000 participants. The race also gets a ton of bandits so as you might imagine, the actual race is very, very crowded. For the entire 6 miles, I was trying to strategize on where to find the next open pocket to run in. Plus it's a huge pain trying to get back to the start using the provided shuttle busses. But the scenery is nice, the neighborhoods are fun to run through, and the finish line is about 100 ft from Margaritaville!

And just to show I'm not a complete bitter betty, here's my list of winners!

Races I Have Run and Would Love to Run Again

1. Nike Women's *Half* Marathon: The half is a wonderful experience and I think all women should add it to their "must run" list. I hate to exclude the men, but c'mon, the big draw for this race is the Tiffany necklace handed out by men in tuxedos at the finish line. But I also love how the event empowers women, teaches us that we are all athletes, and also supports the Leukemia and Lymphoma society. The course is very scenic and challenging as well. I didn't get accepted into the lottery this year but am hoping to earn a spot through the Nike club runs.
2. Walt Disney World Marathon: Definitely not one to run for a PR, but if you're a Disney fan, this race is so much fun! I loved running through the parks and there were tons of characters on the course to entertain you between the parks. I'm skipping 2009 but would like to shoot for the Goofy Challenge (Half on Sat, Full on Sun) for 2010.
3. Cleveland Turkey Trot 5 miler: This is a more of local race, but it's quickly becoming my new tradition. I like the idea of doing a race the day you know you're going to really chow down, especially when it's in your hometown.

What races would make your lists?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Saturday Fun in SF: Nike Club Run, Tour de Fat, Guitar Hero

So... my next half marathon is coming up in six short weeks and it's been a looooong time since I've done a decent long run. I just haven't been able to motivate myself lately. Luckily, the Nike Club Runs are here to save the day! Although I am not registered for the upcoming Nike Women's Marathon, anyone is welcome to join their free training runs. And after training with them in '06 and '07, I've actually been looking forward to starting my third season with them. So goodbye to sleeping in on Saturday mornings and hello to fun, challenging SF runs with a great group of women (and a handful of men)!

Fortunately for me, my half marathon training plan sort of lines up with the Nike full marathon training plan - for now anyway. So I jumped right in and did the 10 mile route. I also joined the 11:00 min/mi pace group again this year - I like the pace leaders in this group plus it's a nice pace for group runs since it allows for chit chat and an easier pace for the hill work.

Ah yes, the hill work - something I definitely don't get enough of in my normal route. There were hills throughout the entire 10 mile run! (My body is still a bit sore...) Here's the route we took in SF:

And here's the elevation chart:

The hills were tough but I am happy to report that I did not have to walk up any of them. (Although I may have silently cursed them from time to time - hehe)

This is my first year running with Nike with a Garmin. I've always been curious what our actual paces were and now I know. I wasn't surprised to see that we were nowhere near an 11:00 pace. I think we did average that when we were running on flat surfaces... but then you have to factor in the hills, time spent on water/gatorade stations, time spent looking at a map because our course directions were a little bit off, etc... The actual splits looked like this:

1: 11:28
2: 14:23
3: 13:11
4: 13:30
5: 13:36
6: 12:21
7: 12:22
8: 12:55
9: 11:46
10: 11:09
0.4: 10:35

Total: 10.43 miles, 2:11:12, 12:35/mile pace

Next time I will pause it during our breaks and see how the splits read then. Despite the slower pace, this is still a good group for me to run with. I never felt like I wanted to run ahead of them and there were times I actually felt challenged in keeping up with the group. I'll focus on pushing my pace on my shorter runs, but with the long runs, I'm going to continue making it fun and and at a comfortable pace.

The rest of the day rocked as I got to spend some quality bonding time with my SF buddies. After the run, my friend - KB (who also ran with Nike that morning) - and I "Squat and Gobbled" and then went to her place to clean up and get ready to meet up with our other friend, PB (who also ran that morning but with a different running club). We spent the afternoon hanging out at the Tour de Fat at Golden Gate park, enjoying a beer (or two) while watching people ride funny bikes.

But the fun was not over yet! We later hung out at PB's bachelor's pad where I was introduced to Guitar Hero! Wow - that was a lot of fun! I don't really play video games but I did buy a Sony PS2 many years ago just so that I could play Bust-a-Groove and Dance Dance Revolution (mostly for the former though as I was horrible at DDR). Anyway, it took me forever to get the hang of the strumming part and I kept getting boo'd off stage. I think I finally got to complete a song after a half dozen attempts. Woo-hoo! I got such a kick out of it that I'm so tempted to get the game for myself. I heard there's a new version coming out this fall so I might wait for that. As a side note, I've never played Rock Band either, but would love to try that out, too! Maybe I'll invest in that one instead...

All in all, it was a very fun Saturday!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Celebrity stalking continues

Alas, no "Kate Hudson" was listed in the official results of the LiveStrong 5K. Yes, I literally searched her name - you never know! Katie Holmes was listed in the ING NYC marathon results, after all. (Although, I guess there is some suspicious activity there.)

I was starting to wonder if I actually saw Kate Hudson and then I noticed this photo from the event:

Yep, that is definitely who I saw at the 5K. Very cool!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Race Report: LiveStrong 5K (Kate Hudson kicked my butt)

This morning I ran the LiveStrong 5K. It's the first time to be held here in San Jose and it was pretty cool. It was also smaller than I expected with less than 3,000 participants total. It was mostly a biking event with 10, 50, 65 & 100 mile bike rides and then a 5K run/walk. It was cool because they had separate bibs for the cancer survivors. It's always inspiring to see them at races. By the way, they each received a yellow rose at the finish.

Anyway, I almost didn't make the race this morning because I completely slept through my alarm (jet lag, I guess). I wanted to leave the house by 6AM and didn't wake up until 6:40AM. Luckily, I managed to get there in time BUT not in time to pick up a timing chip so no recorded time for me. :(

I politely squeezed my way to the front so my time wouldn't be too off in case they were collecting bib tags for unofficial times at the finish (they didn't.) I think my body was still asleep as I was kind of in zombie mode when waiting for the race to start. So I was pleasantly surprised to see Lance Armstrong take the stage for welcome remarks (duh, of course he would be there!). Afterward, he got on his bike to join the other 100-mile cyclists as they were the first group to start. (Not a very big group from what I could tell.)

While we were cheering on all the other cyclists, I noticed another 5K runner pointing at someone to her friend. I followed her gaze and surprise, surprise - it was Kate Hudson! She was literally less than 10 feet away from me at the front of the 5K group. Funny thing is that I had noticed her earlier, only because she was wearing those Goody bendy barrettes that I always wear to the gym but never see on anyone else.

Anyway, I didn't want to gawk at her too much but here's what I can tell you. She totally seemed like a cool, down to earth gal. Her hair was tied up in a casual bun and she was wearing a pretty basic running outfit. She was running with a friend and I *think* she was escorted by a plain clothes San Jose cop that ran behind her. (I saw him enter a San Jose cop trailer after the race.) For the most part, she pretty much blended in with everyone else. She seemed as cute as you would expect her to be from her movies as she was smiling and dancing along with the music as we were waiting.

Finally, it was our turn to line-up. As usual, I started out way too fast. I'll admit, I was kind of running slightly behind Miss Kate as celebrity spotting does not really happen where I live. As we were running, I glanced down at my Garmin and saw I was running a 7:30 pace - oops!!! I normally target a ~9:00 pace for 5Ks so I had to give up my stalking and lower my pace instead.

The course was a loop through downtown San Jose and was nice and flat. I was also happy to see that the mile markers perfectly aligned with my Garmin which never happens. I finished the first mile in 8:33 and since I wasn't very well trained at this point, I knew I had overexerted myself and was going to have to slow down a lot more for the rest of the race. Plus the sun was out then and it was a little too warm for me. (I know, I'm such a baby when it comes to heat.) I ended up stopping for water at the halfway point which I normally never do when I run a 5K.

I tried to pick it up for the last half mile and crossed the finish in 28:22 with a 9:10 pace.


1: 8:33
2: 9:43
3: 9:20
0.1: 8:20 pace

Overall, I'm pretty happy with my performance. I think I've run maybe twice in the last month and neither of them were that great. When I first registered, I thought I could get a new 5K PR since it was a flat course. Although that didn't happen, this was still my second best 5K time - not bad considering I took a walk/water break. Still kind of bummed that I won't have a recorded result, but oh well!

Friday, July 11, 2008

I gave it another shot...

So now that I know exactly where my running loop is, I tried giving it another shot this morning since I'm such an early bird out here. But... it didn't quite work out. Yesterday I struggled with the warm and sticky weather. This morning it was hot and sticky and as an added bonus, the sun was blazing down on me as well. I think I lasted about 20 minutes before I called it quits. Besides the fact that it was miserable, I still have a ~10hr flight later today so I didn't want to take any chances with getting dehydrated out there.

I spent the rest of the morning packing all my stuff and enjoying the "complimentary" breakfast buffet (for $300/night, I hope I get some free food!) at the "Top of the Tower" restaurant. I was also hoping to do some shopping at the stores near my hotel, but they were all closed on Saturday! Bummer. Wish I had more time so that I could have taken the train to some of the other areas in Tokyo, but I guess that will just have to wait until next time.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Running in Tokyo Part II

The one nice thing about jet lag is that I have no problems with getting up early over here. It is also nice that I don't have any meetings until 10AM this morning. Luckily, I brought my running gear so I headed out to find that running loop that I used last time. And even though I had a handy jogging map provided by the hotel, I had the hardest time finding it! Anyway, the run was so-so... I only did about 3 miles and I had to stop and walk several times for water since it's so warm and sticky over here. Regardless, it was great for me to get out there and I did my best to finish strong once I finally had my hotel back in sight. Definitely fun people watching while I was out there.

Hodgepodge of updates

1) I'm currently in Japan. This was a major last minute trip as I found out Monday evening that I would be on a Tuesday afternoon flight to Narita. But I don't mind - this trip is a breeze compared to the last one. Only two days of meetings and then I fly back on Saturday.

2) I went biking on Saturday! This is huge for me... and actually kind of amusing. The last time I regularly rode a bike was in grade school. And then I rode my friend's bike once in high school. And then there's now. I recently became the proud owner of an early 1990's mountain bike with two flat tires and one working brake. (My friend was planning to donate her old college commuter bike to Goodwill but then I claimed it instead.) I know there's that saying "just like riding a bike" but part of me worried that the rule would not actually apply to me. I made my biker (cyclist?) friend coach me through it and after swerving around the parking lot a few times, I finally got the hang of it. We took it out on the trail where I was still a bit too nervous to go faster than "coasting" speed - we even got passed by a runner... HA! But all in all, it was fun and it was neat to ride the same trail that I normally run. I'm not sure if I'm ready to shell out some $$$ for a "real" bike but I definitely see myself taking out this interim bike for another ride one of these days.

3) Half marathon training has been pretty pathetic lately. I've been doing pretty well with going to the gym for some cardio / weights and stuff but the actual running has been severely lacking. I did 3 miles last week! Yikes... I was going to pick it up this week but my Japan trip has thwarted my plans.

4) Although I haven't been training, I am still picking up more races that I am not prepared to run. I have the Disneyland half at the end of August and then the San Jose Rock n Roll one in early October. Now it looks like I will be headed to Chicago in mid September for the Chicago Half Marathon. I haven't registered yet but I think there's a good chance I'll be doing it.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Take It and Run Thursday: Running T-Shirts

Today's "Take It and Run Thursday" theme is "That is a great running T-shirt!". Per the Runner's Lounge: Do you have a great running T-shirt or have the perfect phrase for a T-shirt? Look through your closets, do some virtual window shopping on the intranet, or make up your own. Drop it off today!

Off the top of my head, one of my favorite T-shirts from the running blogs is the one that J-Money wore for the Boston Marathon this year. You can check it out here. (BTW - this blog is HILARIOUS. If it's not in your Google Reader / Bloglines / MyYahoo, etc, it definitely should be.)

And this one was so funny and so spot on that I had to buy it:

Here's a close up of the front:

Speaking of which, Laura had a funny suggestion with "I trained for four months, I paid the $100 entry fee, I ran 26.2 miles... and all I got was this lousy cotton t-shirt." That's EXACTLY what I thought when I picked up my goody bag from the Chicago Marathon. $100 for one of the World Marathon Majors and you only get a cotton tee??? Craziness.

As for me, this reminds me of a post I wrote last year when I was getting ready for my first marathon, "What to Write on My Shirt?" I definitely wanted to wear a personalized shirt with my name on the front and something silly on the back. My friends brainstormed some ideas for me... here are some of their winners:
  • Are we there yet?
  • Your feet hurt 'cause you're kicking so much ass!
  • This is my first marathon. Let me beat you.
  • Stop looking at my ass
  • If you beat me, you have no chance of getting my number (umm... no)
  • Why couldn't Pheidippides have died at mile 20?
I ended up wearing this:

The back was supposed to read "Audrey-licious Kicks Ass" but by the time I laid all the letters out, it looked like one big eye chart so I trimmed it down. My friend had a funny idea to put the "Kicks Ass" part on the back of my shorts but I decided to pass on that idea. Good thing - I wasn't kicking anyone's butt that day.

I love creative race T-shirts... especially when running a marathon because it provides some much needed entertainment to help you forget how much pain you're in! For example, I like the ones that the WISH "We’re Inspired to Stay Healthy" group (I think they're from the Disney message boards or disboards, if you will) wear:

Dead Last Finish is better than Did Not Finish which greatly trumps Did Not Start

Hope to see more fun running shirts out there!
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