Thursday, July 28, 2011

Running with Friends - Pictures Galore!

Do you like this gif? Because there are more coming! If not, um... sorry.

So this post is loooooong overdue. I have all these cute pictures that I've been wanting to show even though they've been posted on umpteen different blogs already. (But I bet my dear friend in Santa Fe hasn't seen them yet - hello, Amanda!!!)

Earlier this year, I had been struggling with getting back into running but you know what makes it so much easier? Running with friends! I've been so fortunate that these early weeks of my official marathon training plan have coincided with so many fun group runs.  The trick is to make sure there are awesome peeps there (check) and that there is some type of drink/food activity afterward (check).

Blogger Meet Up

The first one was a blogger meet up organized by Aron from Runner's Rambles. This was a super fun one as I only knew a handful of the girls there prior to the run. Met a lot of cool and really interesting people that morning!
Photo from Aron at Runners Rambles
They all have some amazing blogs and I encourage you to check them out!

Top row (L-R): Alisyn, Naomi, Page, Kristen, Caitlin, Kerry, Layla, Beth, Courtney
Bottom row (L-R): Alyssa, Tara, moi, Jana, Katie, Megan and Aron
Missing: Cate

I ran with Naomi during the actual run which helped me a lot because she pushed me to run faster than I had been doing on my own.

Afterward, we hung out at Peet's for coffee and chitchat. We all hit it off! At one point, I was just sitting there listening to all the conversations going on and I kind of looked around our area and realized, wow, we are REALLY squeal-ly loud. Not as a bad thing, more of a "I'm pretty impressed" thing. (That's because I've been known to be particularly loud and squeal-ly myself on occasion.)
Photo from Aron at Runners Rambles
During our coffee chat session, Naomi invited me to another fun group run that was going on the following weekend...

Ramen Run

Ah, yes, Ramen. Can you believe I've never had this before? (with the exception of the stuff you eat in college, of course) Well, it turns out that Alyssa from Diary of an Average Runner (which, by the way, she is so *not* average, but whatev) is a HUGE Ramen fan so she organized a super fun meet up called the Ramen Run. We met at the Conservatory of Flowers, ran around Golden Gate Park, and then chowed down at Genki Ramen afterward.

Photo from Alyssa at Diary of an Average Runner
From left to right: Naomi, Layla, Karin, Sandra, moi, Kerry, Alyssa, Jana, and Kristen

Photo from Alyssa at Diary of an Average Runner
I have to thank Alyssa because I think the Conservatory of Flowers is my new favorite meeting spot for running in Golden Gate Park. It's fun to sit on the steps and people watch (there was an awesome and very spirited singing roller skater that morning) and you can't beat the view with the spectacular flower gardens. Plus you've got easy access to a restroom, water fountain, and a snack stand.

Photo from Alyssa at Diary of an Average Runner
Here's our little pack running to the buffalo patch along JFK. I kept up with them up to that point but it was pushing my pace just a bit past my comfort level so I ran the rest on my own and met them all back at the Conservatory.
Photo from Alyssa at Diary of an Average Runner
Then we all headed to Genki Ramen!!! Now I'll be honest, I'm not really a noodle person. I recently had my first experience with pho and wasn't impressed so I wasn't sure how this would turn out but I actually liked it! The noodles are a bit more hearty and it had just enough soup for me. It was a pretty satisfying post run treat.

Veggie Curry Ramen with a side of Gyoza

While enjoying our Ramen, you would never believe what happened - we discussed yet *another* group run for the following weekend!

DSE 6 Hour Distance Classic

As I understand it, Alyssa was once again the mastermind of this super fun social run. Her local running club had organized a 6 hour run where people would run around this one mile loop at Crissy Field as many times as they wanted. It was pretty convenient - easy access to a fully supported aid station (and I mean, supported - peanut M&Ms, gummi bears, watermelon, cookies, etc)  *and* a restroom. And I loved the idea that you could kind of feel like you were running with your friends even if they were way faster than you. At some point you'd see each other during the many loops.

I had to do 9 miles that day so this was perfect for me. The loop was pretty flat and it was nice and chilly so I actually finished with a 10:45 pace which is really good for me these days. Because I started late (Naomi and I spectated the Jungle Run half marathon that morning down in the south bay), everyone finished before me and were hanging out by the aid station. Knowing I would see them every mile kept me on my toes. :)

OK, now get ready for animated gif overload... I honestly can't help myself!

Photos from RoadBunner's BF
Did I mention we had professional photographers during this run? Or at least friends with professional cameras? :P
Photos from RoadBunner's BF
Listen, if people are going to cheer so enthusiastically for you *and* take pics - of course, I'm going to ham it up!
Photos from Aron
Aron took some pics of all of us, too!

I was the last one to finish and it was super nice of everyone to hang out until then. (I *hate* making people wait for me.)  I'm sure everyone was just having fun hanging with friends and chilling on the lawn on a lovely Sunday afternoon. :)

We all got ribbons!!!
Later on...
Photo from Alyssa
... well, of course, we ended up back at Genki Ramen!!!

(Note: Since then, I've done two more long runs up in SF and both times, we followed up with ramen. It's like a Pavlovian response now - do long run, must have ramen. :P)

I get to see the running crew again this weekend! I'll be spectating the SF Marathon on Sunday - should be fun to bust out the cowbell again!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Changing things up

Don't worry - you're not on the wrong site! I've been wanting to get rid of the dated style of my blog (old one shown below) for awhile now.

So I'm trying something new here. I'm not 100% in love with it so I might keep tweaking things but I like it enough for now.

In the meantime, are you on DailyMile? I've been posting all my runs there starting with this training cycle. You can add me here.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Marathon Training is ON

So guess what? I am officially IN MARATHON TRAINING!!!

Yep, it is now 12 weeks to the Akron Marathon which I'm only running so I won't die during the NYC marathon 6 weeks later. (Same thing I did with CIM and the Goofy Challenge - odd, I know, but it works for me.)

These will be my 5th and 6th marathons, respectively, but I've really only properly trained for the first one and that's primarily because I was taking advantage of the Nike Club Run SF training runs.

Since then, I sort of just "wing it" when it comes to races. I never really have a set training plan that I follow and the only runs I make sure to get in are the weekend long runs. Everything else is sort of a crapshoot. I know - it makes no sense!

When I first got into running, I was really into it. I always was trying to push myself to go faster or further in distance. I wasn't into reading running blogs / magazines / books yet so eventually I started having knee pains and other issues. I took a break and then got back into it to train for my first half marathon and I was hooked! Again, I was obsessed with seeing how I could improve so I ran another one just two weeks later and shaved 5 minutes off my time (which is about 30 minutes faster than I am capable of today, lol).

But now - lots and lots of races later, I've been more into the experience of the race (and the related swag), and not so much into how I performed. I mean, in my head, you get the same schnazzy medal if you finish in 5:30 or 4:30. (Of course, the related runner's high is not the same, won't argue that.)

I'm still kind of more into the experience, but I won't lie - it is a bit disheartening to see my race times get slower and slower over the years... so while I'm not aiming for a new personal best, I wouldn't mind avoiding a new personal worst. :)

So I'm trying something ~new, I'd going to actually follow a training plan this time. I picked the Runner's World moderate plan with a base mileage of 16-21mi/week. I think this plan would be laughable for most of you but I think it is perfect for someone that had been used to running 1-2x a week.

This plan is based on 3 runs per week:
  • An easy run *aka, classic Audrey run
  • Speedwork/Tempo run *Excited, because I haven't done too much of these, other than running with friends who are much faster
  • Long run *Will probably need to head to SF for these to escape the HEAT
I might re-evaluate the plan at the halfway point but I think this is a good start! And by announcing it here, maybe this time I'll actually follow it! :)

I do feel like such a n00b these days...  like I need to re-learn all my fueling strategies. I couldn't even remember if I can do a short run first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. (I polled some girls over the weekend, I think I can and will test it this week.) I'm also slowly incorporating some strength training here and there. Just old school stuff like push ups, crunches, lunges, squats, etc - things I can do while watching TV. :)

Anyway, I am excited to be out there and running again! Especially since there are so many fun group runs going on - more about that in my next post!
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