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Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon Report – Part 2

7 Feb

The looooong overdue part 2!  Life has been a little crazy, and sadly when life gets crazy blogging falls off the priority list pretty quickly.  Never fear, I’m still running and Weight Watching.

There are still a number of prizes left from the Team ASPCA raffle, so I’m just gonna bite the bullet and give them all away!  The winners are:

iFitness Ultimate II Running Belt – Kim E.
Sweetpea Baking Co. Gift Certificate – Cindy E.
RunWallet – Liza J.
Organicville Prize Pack – Emily H.
Ultima Replinisher – Mathilde P.
Ultima Replinisher – Carrie T.
O.N.E. Coconut Water – Sheridan P.
8 X 10 Print from My Zoetrope – Jackie D.
Gardein Prize Pack – Amey M.
Three E-books by Hannah Kaminsky – Alivia P.
Four Annie’s Coupons – Esther O.
Nasoya Prize Pack 1 – Sheridan P.
Nasoya Prize Pack 2 – Kim E.
Nasoya Prize Pack 3 – Alivia P.
Tofurky Coupon (pizza) – Kim E.
Tofurky Coupon (roast) – Brandy B.
Daiya Coupon (wedge) – Miles S.
Daiya Coupon (shreds) – Kim E.

The Team shuttle was scheduled to leave at 5:15AM sharp on race morning.  I got up at 4:30 and actually made it to the hotel lobby in time to pick up the provided breakfast and get on board with a few minutes to spare.  I’m really, REALLY awful at being on time in the mornings, especially when it’s that early, so I was pretty proud of myself.  I may have been driven by the fact that if I missed the shuttle I had no other way of getting to the start line!

For breakfast, I had a bagel with peanut butter, OJ and water.  I only had a little bit of the OJ to make sure I didn’t get any heartburn.  My typical pre-race breakfast is a sprouted grain English muffin with almond butter, so the bagel with pb wasn’t far off.  It was probably a bit more caloric than what I’m used to, but we had quite a bit of time until the race started, so I figured it would be fine.

The drive downtown went by really quickly due to the fact that it was 5:15AM on a Sunday.  We walked a short distance to the Team ASPCA area, started organizing our stuff for the race and bag check, and had quite a bit of time to kill.  I think the plan was to take the Team picture right away, but the sun hadn’t risen yet, so we had to wait a while.  I thought about my race plan and goals, which were:

1.  Don’t aggravate my IT band.
2.  Keep my pace under at or under 12 minutes per mile average, to finish in 2:37:19, which would be a personal best by almost 3 minutes.
3.  Negative split the race – keep the pace slow and easy for the first 6 miles and see if I could pick up the pace for the second half.

Those were my goals, but if the second two didn’t happen I wasn’t going to be too disappointed, considering training didn’t go as well as I had hoped and I was dealing with the tricksy IT band.  At the start of training I had wanted to run the race with no walking breaks, taking gels and liquids while jogging, but I knew I would need to walk once or twice and stretch just a bit to stay healthy.

When the sun came out and other runners started gathering, we headed over to the start line for the Team photo.

I’m on the right side somewhere in the sea of orange…notice Larry the Dog, Team ASPCA’s mascot, in the middle.  He ran the whole race!

After the photo we headed to our corrals; most of the Team members were in 13 or 14, and I was in 14.  They gave each corral their own start, playing music and counting down from 10 each time.  I really enjoyed the energy and excitement, but have to say that I question what the Rock ‘n’ Roll people might classify as rock – I definitely heard Call Me Maybe and other non-rockin’ songs.  While we waited and slowly inched forward, I checked out some of the costumes, since it was a Halloween-themed race.

A gaggle of Elvii

Soon enough, we were off!  This was my first big race with corrals, and it was nice to start with a group who ran about the same pace as me.  Everyone started nice and easy, and there was no need to dodge or weave.  I wanted to hold back my pace during the first four miles, so I just ran easy and enjoyed the bands and the costumes.  Two of my favorites were a Rainbow Bright and a Michael Jackson, fully decked out in a red leather jacket, pushing a cart with a boombox playing his music.

At the fourth mile marker, I took a quick walk break along with a gel.  In addition to carrying Ultima Replenisher electrolyte drink in my belt, I grabbed a sip of water at every station, since it was hot and dry.  At the first station with Gatorade I tried a bit, which reminded how gross Gatorade is.  From then on I stuck to water.

Miles five through eight were fairly uneventful; we passed the start line going the other way (the course was a double out-and-back) and a few more bands.  I took another quick walk break at mile 8 but didn’t stop to stretch, as my knee thankfully wasn’t bothering me.  Just after mile 9, we started up the only real hill of the course, an overpass.  I saw two of the Team ASPCA coaches on the way up, and they both told me that I “looked strong”.  I don’t know if that was true or if they were just being nice, but it was good to hear either way!  Honestly, the hill wasn’t that bad and I was only a little winded at the top, where we turned around to head back toward the finish.  We had a really great view of the downtown LA skyline, which I admired for a minute before I realized we had to run all the way back.  Doh!  I cruised down the hill we had just run up, and then started to feel how tired I was when it flattened out at the bottom.

Toward the end of that ninth mile I was exhausted, and started bargaining with myself as to when I could take another walking break.  I went back and forth in my mind about it, and finally told myself that NO, I didn’t need any more walking breaks.  I would keep running the rest of the race at whatever pace I could manage, no matter how slow.

The shade was nice, and the sun was HOT!

I don’t have accurate splits for the end of the race because we went through a tunnel that threw off my GPS, but the last few miles were definitely over 12 minutes per mile.  The ball of my left foot was hurting with every step, and at some points I caught myself practically walking.  With just over a mile left to go, we made a final turn and could almost see the finish line.

Best picture of me running, ever – both feet off the ground!

I had just a little bit of juice left and ran as fast as I could over the finish line.  I was really sore and tired, and happy to be done!

Jamba Juice had a tent just after the medals and were handing out smoothies, which were confirmed dairy free, and it was SO refreshing.  Then a bagel, which I started wolfing down right away, and a slow walk back to the ASPCA area.  It was right around the time when the first shuttle was scheduled to depart back to the hotel and I assumed I had missed it until it was announced that they were rounding up to walk to the shuttle right then, so I grabbed my bag and booked it over there as quickly as possible so I could get back and take a much needed shower.  I missed out on the main concert and free beer, but showering and food were much more important to me at that point.

My official finishing time was 2:39:59, exactly 2 seconds faster than my previous half marathon time.  I am nothing if not consistent!  I really think I could’ve shaved a bit more time off if the heat hadn’t gotten to me, but I was happy to set at least set a PR.  And, while my muscles were quite sore, I was knee pain-free at the end, which meant I had achieved goal #1 of not re-aggravating my IT band.

Apart from the heat, I enjoyed the Rock ‘n’ Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon, and would definitely recommend it.  The start and finish were well organized with plenty of porta potties and supplies, and it didn’t feel like I was surrounded by so many thousands of other runners.  The course was marked well, and the on course entertainment and support were fantastic.

I’d like to write a separate post on my experience with Team ASPCA but I don’t think I’ll get to it, so I’ll jot down my thoughts here.  I really enjoyed my Team ASPCA experience, and would recommend it to anyone who wants to train for an endurance event and raise funds to help animals nation-wide.  It’s a big commitment, time and energy-wise, and you do have to raise a certain minimum in order to get your race entry and accommodations.  Even with all the work I put in and the generous donations of friends and family, I had to cover a bit of the amount myself.  I would say that unless you know a TON of people who will donate, you will need to hold at least one event in addition, such as a bake sale or raffle.

I wasn’t in an area that had enough team members to train together, which is definitely part of the experience I felt like I missed out on.  The support I did have was great though; both the Regional Manager Tina and the National Coach Spencer were swiftly responsive to e-mail, and very helpful.  Spencer gave me good motivation and tips when I was training through my IT band issues.  Tina is about the bubbliest person I’ve ever met, and she even took me and a few other team members out to dinner one night when she was in the area.

So, if you’re considering joining Team ASPCA for an event, I would say go for it with the understanding that it will take some time and energy!  There are a few different training plans available, so it’s good for beginners and experienced runners alike.

RnR LA Half Marathon Training – Week 12

27 Oct

Today’s winners are Molly F. and Miles S.! I’ve e-mailed for prize selection.

I’m in LA! And the half marathon is tomorrow! I’m currently in my hotel room with my feet up, resting my legs after walking around a little too much yesterday.

Week 12 – the last week!

what was supposed to happen what actually happened
Mon – 4 miles easy, strength 3.5 miles easy, strength
Tues – 3 miles easy 3 miles easy
Weds – cross train rest
Thurs – 2 miles easy 2 miles easy
Fri – rest
Sat – rest
Sun – rest

Considering how poorly I did with training the two weeks prior, I knew it was really important to stick to the training plan this week. On Monday I ran on the treadmill and had an inkling of knee discomfort during the third mile, so I cut the planned 4 miles down to 3.5. Tuesday’s run was a good one, a confidence building run, clocking in at an average pace of 11:20. On Thursday I knew I should be keeping the pace easy, but the run was short, I felt good, and was in a hurry to get home and pack, and I finished with a speedy pace of 11:15.

I’m ready for the race tomorrow, as in I’m ready to get out there and get it done. My training overall, and particularly in the last three weeks, didn’t go as well as planned, so I am a little worried about how well I’ll do. I know I can finish, but I don’t know how quickly or how many walking/stretching breaks I’ll need to take, or what kind of pain I’ll be in at the finish line. I do think that being around other Team ASPCA members and having the coaches on course, as well as the spectators and bands, will give me plenty of motivation and hopefully keep my mind off any discomfort.

When I signed up for this race, my goal was to step up my training, incorporating speed work, and shave five or more minutes off of my previous time of 2:40. Now, my hope is just to beat that time, even if it’s only by a few seconds. I do feel that I am stronger and faster than I was for my last half marathon, but I just don’t know what to expect from myself considering how sporadic my long runs have been in the second half of training. Either way, I think it will be fun! Wish me luck!

RnR LA Half Marathon Training – Weeks 10 & 11

24 Oct

Alternate Title:  “Life, or How I Didn’t Run for Almost Two Weeks During What Should Have Been the Peak of Training”

(Today’s raffle winners are Matt W. and Molly G.  I’ve e-mailed for prize selection!)

Week 10

what was supposed to happen                 what actually happened
Mon – 5 miles easy, strength                   rest
Tues – 6 x 800 w/ 400 recovery,         rest
1/2 mile w/u & c/d
Weds – cross train                                        rest
Thurs – 4 miles easy, strength                rest
Fri – rest                                                            rest
Sat – 13 miles                                                  rest
Sun – rest                                                          rest

This week was the perfect storm of excuses plus events getting in the way of exercise.  Monday I was absolutely exhausted after work, and I told myself I could miss the scheduled workout as long as I got up before work and ran the next morning.  Of course, that always makes more sense the night before than the morning of when the alarm goes off.  At 5AM, unless I have a plane to catch, my brain pretty much always thinks that sleep is  more important than everything else and resets the alarm.  So, that didn’t happen.

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, the A’s had home playoff games, and we had tickets.  It was pretty much work->baseball->sleep for two days, with nothing else in between, and then Thursday I left the game early to catch a red eye to New York for a somewhat last minute work trip.

I spent Friday walking around Manhattan and Brooklyn, so at least that was a little exercise.  Since I had barely slept though, I was a little bit of a zombie.  I planned to run a loop around Central Park Saturday morning before my work event, but since I was still mostly on west coast time I didn’t get to bed as early as hoped, and again needed the extra sleep more than I needed the run, which was sad since it meant I didn’t see Central Park at all.

On Sunday I flew to Reno to meet up with Dave and a friend, again in a very much zombie-like state.  We drove home Monday, and needless to say I was too exhausted to do anything other than regroup and try to plan for the coming week.  That week was a little crazy!

Week 11

what was supposed to happen                 what actually happened
Mon – 5 miles easy, strength                   rest
Tues – 10 x 400 w/ 200 recovery,       rest
1/2 mile w/u & c/d
Weds – cross train                                        rest
Thurs – 4 miles easy, strength                rest
Fri – rest                                                           5K (3.1 miles)
Sat – 9 miles                                                    8 miles
Sun – rest                                                          rest

I went back to work on Tuesday theoretically rested and ready to get back into my routine, and dedicated to getting a run in, since I had missed over a week.  That afternoon though, I started feeling ill – head ache-ey, hot and chilly at the same time, and a little bit of a sore throat.  I left work early to rest, and ended up staying home sick Wednesday as well.  Thursday I felt mostly better, but the Niners were playing right after work and I thought it wouldn’t hurt to rest one more day to get back to 100% healthy.

On Friday, I was finally ready and itching to run!  I was scheduled to rest since it was the day before a long run, but I really wanted to get out there and move my legs, and it was also my only chance to participate in the Cupcake Classic Virtual 5K.  I had never participated in a virtual race before, and I know the point of this one was kind of to get together with a group, but I decided to head downtown solo.

It felt awkward at beginning since it had been a while since I ran.  I started to feel better and more natural during the second mile and let my legs go a little, probably too fast.  My time for the second mile was 11:04, quite fast for me.  I slowed down at the beginning of the third mile to conserve some energy and planned to pick it back up for last half mile, but my leg started to hurt and didn’t want to push it, so I kept it kind of easy until the end.  My total time was 35:11, for an average of 11:19 per mile, which is quite good for me!  It was a little bit of an affirmation to remember that I can run a 5K whenever I want, even after some time without running.

On Saturday I set out for nine miles and vowed to take it easy the whole time no matter how I felt.  The first few miles felt sluggish, but I was feeling decent by the third and fourth miles.  I started to feel discomfort in my knee around mile 6.  Discomfort, I can deal with as long as it’s not too bad.  However, in the eighth mile my hip and the ball of my left foot started to hurt, bad enough that it was making me a little nauseated, so I stopped at 8 miles.

RnR LA Half Marathon Training – Week 9

21 Oct

Today’s raffle winners are Janet W. and Miles S.!  I’ve e-mailed you for prize selection…

Week 9

what was supposed to happen                 what actually happened
Mon – 5 miles easy, strength                   walked 20 minutes, strength
Tues – 8 x 400 w/ 200 recovery,         walked 40 minutes
1/2 mile w/u & c/d
Weds – cross train                                        rest
Thurs – 4 miles easy, strength                ran 3 miles, walked 30 minutes
Fri – rest                                                            rest
Sat – 12 miles                                                  12 miles
Sun – rest                                                          rest

That Monday, as often happens to me on Mondays, I had zero energy when I got home from work and skipped my scheduled run.  The angel and the devil on my shoulder really have it out on Monday afternoons sometimes…

Tuesday after work we went to the A’s game, and this was about the time when baseball took over my life for a week and a half.  The A’s were playing for the AL West division title.  They had to sweep the Rangers to do so, and we went to the games Tuesday and Wednesday, and they won (!!!), but I missed two workouts those days…I finally got in a run on Thursday, but had some IT band discomfort and stopped after three miles.

On Saturday, I was committed to finishing 12 miles, and I headed back to the Iron Horse Trail for the second time.  I was really determined to finish, and I even took a minute at the beginning to visualize, which is a technique I haven’t really used before.  I closed my eyes, breathed deeply, and pictured myself running back to that spot with no knee pain.  I also committed to keeping mental focus throughout the run and keeping good form.  It worked!  I felt surprisingly good after 6 miles but told myself to keep going until mile 8 and see how I felt then.  Sure enough, by mile 8 I was beginning to fatigue.  I took walking breaks at miles 4 and 8, and stretched my IT band and glute as well.  The last two miles were really tough and my legs were starting to hurt, but I kept my mental focus, and finished with no knee pain.  After having a few weeks that felt not completely successful, it was really good to have a confidence boosting run!

RnR LA Half Marathon Training – Weeks 7 & 8

9 Oct

Today’s raffle winner is Jackie D!  Jackie, I’ve e-mailed you for prize selection.

Week 7

what was supposed to happen                 what actually happened
Mon – 4 miles easy, strength                   yoga, strength
Tues – 10 x 400 w/ 200 recovery,      40 minutes stationary bike
1/2 mile w/u & c/d
Weds – cross train                                        walked 40 minutes
Thurs – 5 miles easy, BodyPump           elliptical, BodyPump
Fri – rest                                                            rest
Sat – 12 miles                                                  4 miles
Sun – rest                                                          rest

When I left off last time I had aggravated my IT band injury during a long run.  I e-mailed the Team ASPCA coach and asked what he thought, and he advised cross training for a while instead of running, and assured me that I wouldn’t lose fitness by skipping a few runs.  So, that’s what I did!  I found a yoga for runners video online, I rode a stationary bike and used the elliptical at the gym, and I strength trained.  On Friday I went to a running store to see if they had any advice to further prevent recurrence, and upon looking at the shoes I was using they told me they were totally shot, which I’m sure is another reason the injury reared its ugly head.  So, I tried a few pairs on since I wasn’t in love with the current ones I was using, and settled on Asics GEL-Evolution 6, which felt lighter and seemed to fit my foot better.  I couldn’t really afford new shoes at the time, but had to do what I needed to do to get out on the road.  I was becoming one of those people who get cranky when they can’t run!

By Saturday I was feeling mostly recovered, so I set out for five miles in my new shoes.  I had a little bit of knee discomfort in the fourth mile so I cut it short, but it felt good to be back out there.

Week 8

what was supposed to happen                 what actually happened
Mon – 5 miles easy, strength                   4 miles easy, strength
Tues – 5 x 800 w/ 400 recovery,         10 x 400 w/ 200 recovery,
1/2 mile w/u & c/d                                       1/2 mile w/u & c/d
Weds – cross train                                        rest
Thurs – 4 miles easy, strength                4 miles easy
Fri – rest                                                            rest
Sat – 11 miles                                                  11 miles
Sun – rest                                                          rest

I got on the treadmill for five miles on Monday, but again cut it short to four due to a little knee discomfort.  I really didn’t want to aggravate my injury or prevent it from healing completely!

On Tuesday I was scheduled to run my first 800’s ever, but considering I missed 400’s the week before, I did that instead to avoid jumping from 200’s straight to 800’s.  I took it easier than usual on the running intervals, but ended up with a good pace overall.

On Thursday, I finally added a fourth run into my week, which I had been meaning to do for a few weeks.  I meant to take it easy, but really felt like letting my legs go once I got out there, and I probably ran way too fast during the first mile.  My average pace was 11:16, which is great for me over four miles.

I cautiously set out for 11 miles on Saturday, heading to a new trail that I’d never run, the Iron Horse Trail.  It’s a little further of a drive to get there, but I was hoping it would pay off to avoid the gravel that lines the trail I usually use for long runs.  My stride felt really tight and off for the first few miles; it felt like I wasn’t fully extending my left leg, or like I was favoring my right side, so I tried to pay attention and even things out.  I took walking breaks after four and eight miles, and stopped quickly each time to stretch my IT band and glute, which seemed to help loosen things up.  I definitely had some discomfort and didn’t feel great overall, but I finished all 11 miles and wasn’t in pain.  The trail was nice, it’s wide and flat and paved the whole way.  It’s slightly banked in a lot of places, but I can usually find a flat spot by moving to the middle.  There are always lots of runners, cyclists, and dog walkers out which is nice, and the scenery is decent.  The trail actually goes right through the middle of a golf course at one point, and there is a chain link fence that curves over the top to keep people from getting hit!

RnR LA Half Marathon Training – Weeks 5 & 6

5 Oct

Tonight’s raffle winner is Mathilde P!  Mathilde, I’ve e-mailed you for prize selection.

Weeks 5 and 6 of half marathon training started really good, and ended REALLY badly.

Week 5

what was supposed to happen                 what actually happened
Mon – 5 miles easy, strength                   5 miles easy
Tues – 12 x 200 w/ 200 recovery,       12 x 200 w/ 200 recovery,
1/2 mile w/u & c/d                                       1/2 mile w/u & c/d
Weds – cross train                                        walked 30 minutes
Thurs – 4 miles easy, BodyPump            elliptical, BodyPump
Fri – rest                                                            rest
Sat – 10 miles                                                  10 miles
Sun – rest                                                          rest

I did Monday’s run on the treadmill and took it really easy.  For intervals on Tuesday I was feeling really good until there were three left to go and I had some thigh discomfort, so I eased up a bit for the end.  I still had an average pace of 11:09, which is great.

I had planned to add in a fourth weekly run on Thursdays this week, but I was stuck on going to BodyPump at 6:30 and couldn’t figure out how to get a run in in between work and class, so I did the elliptical instead.

We were in Lake Tahoe over the weekend, and I was looking forward to some great scenery on my long run.  I tried to do some research on a good place to run but didn’t come up with much, so I settled on Pioneer Trail, which is a somewhat major two-lane road that I knew had bike lanes the whole way.  Safety was my main concern, so I wore my brightest orange shirt and carried pepper spray.

The road was hilly the ENTIRE way.  My plan was to try to run the whole thing without any walk breaks, but it became quickly apparent that I ought to take breaks in order to preserve enough energy to finish.  By mile 7 I was sick of running uphill and my legs were getting fatigued, so I used a couple of the bigger hills as an excuse to walk again.  The elevation was more uphill overall on the way out, so at least on the way back there was more down than up!  My time was 2:11:07 – not great, but all things considered, not terrible.

Week 6

what was supposed to happen                 what actually happened
Mon – 4 miles easy, strength                   rest
Tues – 12 x 200 w/ 200 recovery,       12 x 200 w/ 200 recovery,
1/2 mile w/u & c/d                                       1/2 mile w/u & c/d, strength
Weds – cross train                                        walked 30 minutes
Thurs – 5 miles easy, BodyPump            rest
Fri – rest                                                            ran 3 miles
Sat – 11 miles                                                  11 miles
Sun – rest                                                          rest

On Monday we drove back from Tahoe, and there was no way I was going to exercise when we got back.  To make up for it, I decided to give Tuesday’s workout my all and add my strength routine, since I feel like strength is really important considering my IT band issues.  A few intervals in, I started to feel a little pain around my tailbone.  I think maybe I was trying to hold my form a little too tightly, and my glutes/hips were tugging on my lower back muscles.  It felt like discomfort, rather than an injury, so I decided to keep going and ease up on my effort a bit.  It loosened up a bit, and other than that I felt great on that run.

I had nothing in me on Thursday.  I was a little PMS-ey, and Dave and I decided to go to Chili’s for happy hour and dinner.  (I haven’t been to Chili’s in…oh, about five years?)  On Friday I was feeling guilty about ditching my workout, so I ran three easy miles on the treadmill, which turned out to be an awful idea in hindsight.

Saturday morning, I set out for my long run at the Marina, like any other Saturday morning.  I took it really easy in the first half to ensure that I’d have energy to get all the way through.  I felt really good at the turnaround (5.5 miles), so I decided to try something like intervals; not necessarily running faster, but focusing on form and really using my leg muscles for a half mile then recovering for a half mile.  After two miles of this, I felt a telltale sharp pain on the outside of my left knee – my IT band acting up.  I had over three miles left to go, and I knew I was in trouble.  After my walking break at mile 8, I completely stopped to stretch my IT band and glute, then jogged really easily the rest of the way, taking another stretch break before the last mile.  I finished the 11 miles, but knew I had aggravated my injury, which was incredibly frustrating.  I think it was a combination of running the night before (horrible idea), running on gravel, and running longer than I had in a long while that did it.

Until next time…

RnR LA Half Marathon Training – Weeks 3 & 4

21 Sep

Today’s raffle winner is Molly G!  Molly, I’ve e-mailed you for prize selection.

There are still plenty of rad prizes available in the Team ASPCA raffle!  I’m a little less than half of the way to my fundraising goal of $2300, so please donate if you can!

Now I’ll catch up on weeks 3 and 4 of half marathon training.  These weeks were…okay…

Week 3

what was supposed to happen                 what actually happened
Mon – 4 miles easy, strength                   rest
Tues – 8 x 400 w/ 200 recovery,         4 miles easy, strength
1/2 mile w/u & c/d
Weds – cross train                                        walked 50 minutes
Thurs – elliptical, BodyPump                  elliptical, BodyPump
Fri – rest                                                            rest
Sat – 8 miles                                                     8 miles
Sun – rest                                                          rest

I missed my workout Monday evening because of our fantasy football draft.  You have to have priorities, you know :)  I knew if I ran intervals Tuesday as scheduled I wouldn’t be up for strength training, and strength training is really important to my plan to prevent any further trouble with my IT band, so I made up the four miles from Monday on the treadmill and did my strength routine.

For the 8-miler on Saturday, my goal was to run the entire thing without taking any walk breaks, and I did!  I even took a gel and drank my electrolyte drink while jogging.  I was feeling a little sore from BodyPump on Thursday, so to keep my focus I kind of ran fartleks.  I would choose a landmark and “run strong” until I reached it, then recover by jogging more slowly until I could pick up the pace again.  I wasn’t necessarily trying to go faster, but by focusing on my form and really using my legs, I naturally go a bit faster.  My average page over 8 miles was 12:05 minutes/mile, which is really great for me!

Week 4

what was supposed to happen                 what actually happened
Mon – 3.5 miles easy, strength                 3.5 miles easy, strength
Tues – 10 x 200 w/ 200 recovery,        10 x 200 w/ 200 recovery,
1/2 mile w/u & c/d                                            1/2 mile w/u & c/d
Weds – cross train                                        walked 30 minutes
Thurs – elliptical, BodyPump                  elliptical, BodyPump
Fri – rest                                                            rest
Sat – 9 miles                                                     4 miles
Sun – rest                                                          rest

Monday’s treadmill run was progressive – 1 mile @ 4.8, 1 @ 4.9, 1 @ 5.0, and 1@ 5.1.  I know that’s not very fast, but treadmill running still seems harder to me than outside.

Tuesday’s intervals were actually supposed to be on a hill.  I ran a hill alright, Leona Canyon Trail – up a giant hill on the way out, and downhill the whole way back.  I actually hiked a few of the recovery portions on the way up, and had to watch my footing really carefully on the way back.  It was a beautiful, peaceful trail, but much better suited for a hike than running intervals!

That weekend we went to Reno, and I planned on running 9 miles along the river, which I’ve done before.  The path along the river there is really quite lovely.  Thing is, I had a little too much wine the night before, and stayed up too late, and slept really poorly, and felt pretty wretched that morning.  I set out for the run regardless, telling myself that I could go 8 miles or even less if I wasn’t up for it.  I had a wedding to attend that afternoon, and I wanted to be decent company instead of a tired mess.  Upon my first few steps it was pretty apparent that I was feeling terrible, and I didn’t want to push it or get sick, so I only ended up going four miles.  I was glad that I listened to my body and didn’t push it too hard, but mad at myself for not preparing properly to do a long run.  Since I’m training for this half marathon with Team ASPCA I feel more responsibility to train properly, so I felt like I was letting myself AND the animals down.

RnR LA Half Marathon Training – Weeks 1 & 2

13 Sep

Reminder – the first drawing for my Team ASPCA raffle is tomorrow!  Please check out the great prizes and consider donating!

I’m actually in the sixth week of training for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon, but I want to go back and recap my training so far.  I’ve changed up a few things since my last training cycle, and it certainly has been interesting!

Since I already know I can complete 13.1 miles, I wanted to amp up my training just a bit, and luckily the intermediate training schedule provided by Team ASPCA fit the bill perfectly.  It’s very similar to the beginner plan I used last time, adding in one speed or hill workout per week, and packing in a little higher mileage overall.  Here’s the basic plan:

Monday – easy run
Tuesday – speed or hill workout
Wednesday – cross train
Thursday – easy run
Friday – rest
Saturday – long run
Sunday – rest

I got in touch with the national coach about tweaking the schedule to my needs, since I was diagnosed with IT Band Syndrome.  My ideas were to work in full body strength training twice per week, use the elliptical machine instead of one easy run for the first four weeks, and avoid hill workouts for a while.  He agreed that these were all fine, so here is what my version looks like:

Monday – easy run, strength training at home
Tuesday – speed workout (possibly add hill workouts later)
Wednesday – cross train
Thursday – elliptical machine, BodyPump (switch to easy run after four weeks)
Friday – rest
Saturday – long run
Sunday – rest
every day after exercise – stretch, ice and foam roll any trouble spots (tennis ball for the glutes), full foam roll once a week

So far this has worked pretty well, and I’ve been managing my IT band issues.  I’m still tweaking the program as I go along, which I’ll write about in my upcoming posts.  For now, here’s a look at the first two weeks.

Week 1

what was supposed to happen                 what actually happened
Mon – 3 miles easy, strength                   3 miles easy, strength
Tues – 8 x 200 w/ 200 recovery,         10 x 160 w/ 160 recovery,
1/2 mile w/u & c/d                                           1/2 mile w/u & c/d
Weds – cross train                                        rest
Thurs – elliptical, BodyPump                  rest
Fri – rest                                                            elliptical
Sat – 7 miles                                                     6.5 miles
Sun – rest                                                          rest

That Monday I ran on the treadmill, which I usually don’t love, but 3 miles was the farthest I’d gone since seeing the doctor about my leg, so I wanted to make sure I could take it easy.  We had plans after work on Tuesday, so I did my first ever speed intervals on the treadmill too.  The ol’ treadmill doesn’t have hundredths of a mile, so instead of doing 200’s, I did 160’s and changed the speed every .1 mile.  I used 5.2 mph for running and 4.8 for recover, so I wasn’t going very fast, but it was a nice way to try out intervals without fear of being totally embarrassed in public!

I missed Wednesday’s and Thursday’s workouts.  Wednesday I wasn’t feeling well after work, and Thursday I had dinner with the Team ASPCA regional manager and two other Team ASPCA members!  Since The ASPCA is headquartered in New York and the race is in LA there are bigger teams in those cities, but the team up here in Northern California is smaller and not as unified, so it was really nice to meet other people who are in the same boat.  I spent an hour on the elliptical Friday to make up for some of the missed time.

On Saturday I ran the Oakland Peak to Bay 10K, which I now realize I still need to write a recap for!  Will do that soon.  Our route ended up taking us about 6.5 very hilly miles, which was perfect.  I had a bit of knee pain on the downhills, but nothing too bad.  One of my running companions had a sore foot, so we were doing a bit of walking by the end.

Week 2

what was supposed to happen                 what actually happened
Mon – 3.5 miles easy, strength               3.5 miles easy, strength
Tues – 10 x 200 w/ 200 recovery,       10 x 200 w/ 200 recovery,
1/2 mile w/u & c/d                                           1/2 mile w/u & c/d
Weds – cross train                                        50 minutes elliptical
Thurs – elliptical, BodyPump                  walked
Fri – rest                                                            rest
Sat – 7 miles                                                     rest
Sun – rest                                                          rest

This wasn’t such a good week for sticking with the training plan.  Since I had some knee pain on the 6.5 mile run Saturday, I wanted to be cautious on Monday, and did my run on the treadmill.  1 mile at 4.8, 1 mile at 4.9, 1 mile at 5.0, and .5 mile at 4.8.  There was some discomfort on the outside of my left thigh in the third mile, but it went away by the end of the run.  I know that running on the treadmill is supposed to be “easier” than outside, and you’re supposed to put the incline up a notch to mimic having to move your body weight, but I find treadmill running much more difficult and have to keep the pace really slow!

Tuesday, I set out to do my first proper intervals.  I had heard there was a track that might be open to the public in the Oakland hills, but when I drove by there was a high school football team practicing on it.  I have yet to find any track in the entire East Bay that is open to the public and ever available, which is really frustrating!  After the track rejection, I headed to Lake Merritt, which is flat and just about three miles around.  My Garmin reads at one hundredths of a mile, so rather than doing straight eights of a mile I ran for .13 then jogged/recovered for.12.  My running interval pace ranged from 10:09 to 11:28, with all but one being under 11:00.  That’s quite good for me!  I think that slower one was going up a hill.  My recovery intervals ranged from 11:22 to 12:45.  I told myself that I could jog as slowly as necessary on the recoveries as long as I pushed myself on every run segment, and I did.  I focused on keeping good form, pumping my arms, and really using my legs.

We had plans for after work on Thursday, so I got my elliptical time in Wednesday and walked during lunch Thursday.  Friday night I noticed that my lower back was hurting around my tailbone.  I was actually really excited for my first real long run of training, but Saturday morning my tailbone was still sore.  It felt a little like a muscle strain, but not quite as bad.  I decided, sadly, to forgo running so that I wouldn’t exacerbate whatever was going on or injure myself.  I actually ended up taking four days off total, to make sure I was at 100% before running again.

We’ll get to weeks 3 and 4 next time!  In the meantime, please check out my Team ASPCA raffle!

Bad Bass Half Marathon Report & A New Injury

18 Aug

I signed up for the Bad Bass Half Marathon, scheduled for two weeks after my first half marathon, before I ran my first half marathon.  It maybe wasn’t the brightest thing to do, but I felt like I could take advantage of all the training I had done by running two races (with just enough recovery time in between).  Plus, the long loop around Lake Chabot promised some pretty views and interesting trails that I’d never seen before.  Plus, Brazen Racing always has cool shirts and medals!

(all photos courtesy of the Brazen Racing volunteer photographers)

Before the race, I debated a lot on what gear and fuel to bring.  There were only four aid stations spread well apart, so I knew I’d need hydration and some fuel.  I wanted to go a little au naturale though, without the full race belt, so I settled on my handheld water bottle with electrolyte drink and one gel tucked in the pocket.  The one time I’d run with the handheld before all the sloshing annoyed me, but it didn’t really bother me this time; I think I was so focused on watching my footing the whole time that I didn’t notice.

If you read my Napa to Sonoma race report, you know that I dealt with some unexpected and unprecedented left knee pain.  I didn’t want to exacerbate any possible injury, so I took it really easy in between, running only three times for a total of 8.5 miles.  I felt a little bit of discomfort outside my knee at the end of each run, but not sharp pain, so I thought I’d be okay.  Boy, was I wrong!

I’m in the black pants, dark gray shirt and black headband.

The race started at 8AM, on pavement for the first two miles.  I didn’t have a whole lot of energy that morning, so I hung toward the back and let lots of people pass me.  Within two miles, my knee was already hurting and I knew I was in trouble.  I thought about turning around but really hated the thought of being a quitter, especially without having tried to get through at least a few miles.  I trudged forward.

I had read previous year’s race reports and looked at the elevation chart, and knew there was a giant killer of a hill at three miles.  When we made a sharp turn just after mile two and headed up a big hill, I thought maybe I had read the map wrong and this was it.  We went up about 200 feet over a half mile, and most runners, myself included, slowed down to hike most of it.  I had made a deal with myself before the race that since it was “just for fun”, I could hike whatever portions of it that I wanted to without feeling bad.  At the top, we turned and came down an even steeper decline.  Since my knee was hurting, I tried to keep my steps easy and quick, and walked some of the steeper downhill sections.

At mile three I was surprised that our course joined up with the 10K course.  They started 25 minutes after us but had run a mile less, so the back of the half marathon pack (i.e. me) met up with the front-middle of the 10K runners.  They all had a lot more spring in their step than me!  We went across a single lane suspension bridge (which I did not trust was designed to hold all those people at once), then made a turn and headed up the REAL hill, the one that goes up 400 feet over about a mile.  Most everyone was huffing and puffing and hiking their way up.

Just before we went up the hill, I heard what I thought was a goat.  There are a few companies around the bay area that rent out a herd of goats to eat up brush, and I guess the park had them on lease.  I really wanted to stop and turn back and see the goats but knew it wasn’t a good use of my time or energy.  Luckily, one of the photographers visited them!

I love you, goats!

The 10K turnaround was at the top of the massive hill, and I got to see the leaders rushing back down the hill, which was neat.  All of us hikers cheered them on.

The photographer told me to smile.  This is what he got…

Coming into the race, my goal was 3:00.  Going up that monster hill, getting passed by all sorts of people, my goal became to not finish last.  At the top of the hill, it changed to just finishing even if I was last.  Around mile 5.5 we came to an aid station and I saw I actually wasn’t last, so the goal changed back to not being last.  I drank some water and took my gel and carried on.  From there on out, I don’t remember much detail.  Some trails were wide and grassy, some were narrow and woodsy, and it was mostly overcast and a little muggy.  I chatted briefly to other runners and hikers who weren’t part of the race, and mostly just focused on continuing to move without wiping out on downhills.  There were lots of smaller hills, and eventually I was hiking up any and all inclines.  At some points I regretted not bringing my phone or a camera, as the views were pretty nice.  Here’s one captured by a volunteer:

The middle third of the course was near a marksmanship range, and at times the sound was so close that I was actually a little worried I might get shot on accident.  It was not a pleasant sound, and I was thankful when the trail turned away, only to find that it looped back around, and for many miles I would come around a turn or over a peak and hear the gunshots again.

At the third aid station I took some water and orange slices.  I don’t remember much about this portion other than being in pain and wondering how much longer it would take, and thinking this race that I was doing for fun was not, in fact, very much fun.  I did wear my Garmin, so I at least knew what distance was left at any given time.

After what felt like many more miles, I came to the fourth and final aid station, with only two or so miles to go.  I was feeling quite hungry by that point and the sun was coming out, so I came to a full stop and ate a piece of banana, some orange wedges, and a few cups of water, since my handheld was empty.  There was a bit of a decent afterward, which was tough on my knee but easy on the heart rate, and I could feel the food and water sloshing around in my stomach, which upset it a bit.

After a short while I came to a section I recognized, which is where I go to run hills sometimes.  I knew the path pretty well from that point on, and it was all paved, so I at least knew I would be able to finish.  My ambition to run at all was almost completely gone, and I found myself actually begging for hills as an excuse to walk.  I jogged what I could very slowly, and eventually saw the boathouse and knew that I was almost done.

I dodged geese and headed toward the finish line.  Most of the crowd had already dissipated, but there were a few nice people still at the finish line cheering me on.  No finish line photo – the photographers were already done, hah!  My official time was 3:21:26, and I am happy to report that I was not last.  I was second to last in my age group, and ahead of a few other people in other age groups too.  My average pace was 15:09; according to the Garmin my fastest mile was the first (11:25), my slowest mile was the fourth (up that monster hill – 19:01), and most other miles were between 13 and 16 minutes.

I grabbed a piece of bagel, some banana and a coconut water, got my bag and headed back to the car.  I had not realized that I parked so far away, and the walk back was all uphill!  Longest walk of my life, my legs were SO stiff and tired.

Me and mah medal.  (You can see my other medals in the back, I really need to get some sort of display mechanism now that I have a few!)

And, of course, the Brazen medal and shirt are always cute.  I had seen that some past year’s medals had a hook in the fishes mouth, and I was really glad it was hookless this year, as that would’ve made me sad.

My residual knee pain and stiffness wasn’t quite as bad as after the first half, but I knew I needed to get to the bottom of it, especially since I was about to start another round of half marathon training (more on that soon).  I went to see my doctor, who called in a physical therapist (I love that she’s not afraid to ask for a second opinion), who confirmed what I was thinking – it’s an IT band issue.  I’ve had left hip and glute issues ever since I started running but never had that telltale knee pain before, so I pretty much knew it would be my IT band, but wanted to get confirmation.  The PT said that strengthening would help, and to continue things I was already doing like stretching, icing and using a foam roller.  He said that as long as I was cautious and preventative, I could continue running, so that was really good news.  So far these past few weeks I’ve had a little discomfort in my mid-thigh and knee, but no sharp pain, so I’m taking that as a good sign.  I’ve worked a second strength training session in each week, aimed at strengthening my legs, glutes and core (with some arms and back thrown in for good measure).

I’ll write again soon about my next running endeavor, which is very exciting!  I’ll also do some catching up on food and weight loss stuff, since this blog has been all-running-all-the-time lately.

Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon Report

27 Jul

When I started training for my first half marathon, I thought I could finish in under three hours.  A few weeks into training, I set my “A” goal as 2:45.  With a few miles left in the race, I surprised myself by realizing that if I kept pushing I could finish in 2:40, and I barely made it…my official time was 2:40:01!

I headed up to Napa on Saturday with my friend Becca, who is the one who convinced me that I could run a half marathon in the first place, and her friends Ashley and Desi.  We first stopped by the expo, which was small but well organized.  We picked up a few samples, and I bought Run The Edge and met Adam Goucher!  I’m still fairly new to running culture and don’t know about many running celebrities, but I know his name and that his wife Kara is about to compete in the Olympics.  He was really nice, and I look forward to reading the book.

We were really hungry but didn’t want a heavy lunch since we had an early dinner reservation, so we stopped by Oakville Grocery and had a little picnic.

I took carbo-loading as an excuse to have a big strawberry lemonade, and it was fantastic.  To kill some time before our hotel check in, we drove up to Cain Winery, just to see the building and the view.  Desi apparently has the hookup though, and we ended up with a suprise private tasting, even though they were technically closed!

After checking in and getting settled, we went to Mustard’s Grill for an early dinner.  I had called ahead to ensure that they could provide me something vegan.  The waitress offered a vegetable pasta or a bean tostada, and I figured I’d go with the typical pre-race dinner of pasta.

Doesn’t look like much, but this was a really flavorful penne dish, with lots of little bits of onion and garlic.

After dinner we toured the gardens outside the restaurant, then headed back to the hotel to turn in early.  I hadn’t been nervous before, but after the lights went out and it was just me and my thoughts, I started to get a little excited.

The alarms rang at 5AM the next morning, and we got ready quickly to catch a bus to the starting line at 5:30.  Breakfast was a Trader Joe’s whole wheat cinnamon roll (tasty) with some peanut butter, and hotel room coffee.  The bus ride to the start line took about ten minutes.  I meant to take a picture of the porta potties, it was the most porta potties I had ever seen!  One pit stop, to the will call registration to fix an issue with Becca’s timing chip, a final pit stop and bag check, and it was time to walk to the start line.

Becca, Ashley and me

I lined up near the back by the 2:45 sign.  Some pre-race announcements, the national anthem, and we were off!  Well, the leaders of the pack were off…we in the back shuffled forward slowly until we got to the start line.

(I took these photos during the race by holding my iPhone above my head and seeing what happened.  For the most part, they came out pretty well!)

The first half mile of the race is known as “butt burner hill”; it’s a slow, steady climb.  It was tough to start out going uphill right away, but it honestly wasn’t too bad.  Good way to get your heart rate up!

After butt burner hill, the next two miles are mostly downhill, a decent into Napa Valley.  The course was still pretty crowded, and I tried to go with the flow without going too fast.  I was feeling a little tired after two miles and reminded myself that I needed to run my own race and not pace myself off anyone else, as tempting as it was.  I decided against listening to music for the race, so that I could fully enjoy the course and the experience, and I mostly just listened to other people’s conversations.  The TeamChallenge members in orange were very loud and enthusiastic in cheering for each other.

mile 1 – 11:44
mile 2 – 11:06 (too fast!)
mile 3 – 11:35
mile 4 – 11:46

At four miles, I took a short walking break to take a gel and some electrolyte drink.  The fifth mile was a gradual downhill, but I was starting to feel fatigued and begging for the gel to kick in.

The sixth mile started to go back uphill, and I was not happy about it.  My left knee was starting to bother me, my breath was heavier than I wanted it to be, and I wasn’t even halfway done.  Somewhere in that mile though, I got a boost of energy.  I had planned to walk briefly at 6.5 miles to drink some water, but I was feeling really good and decided to keep going until mile 7.  I think it’s really important to have a race plan, and equally as important to change it up according to how you feel.

The seventh mile took us from vineyards to residential farms, and while the vineyards were absolutely beautiful, it was a nice change of scenery.  There was a guy standing on the balcony of this house waving to runners.  There were also some kids handing out cookies, and a couple in front of their house with some Guinness to give out.  There weren’t a whole lot of local spectators, but the ones that were out were great.

There was a live band at the mile 7 water station.  I walked for a short bit and drank some water.

mile 5 – 12:24
mile 6 – 11:49
mile 7 – 12:04

I don’t know why I felt the need to give thumbs up’s to the photographers.  Maybe to convince myself that I felt okay?  Because I wasn’t feeling so okay by this point.  Notice that I didn’t take any more pictures after this point.  I decided to keep the iPhone in its pouch and just focus on finishing, and my knee pain was growing worse by the mile.

At mile 7.5, I was stopped by the highway patrol to let cars cross the course, and I lost about 10 seconds waiting.  A break should’ve felt good, but I really just wanted to keep moving since my next scheduled walk break wasn’t until mile 9.  Miles 8 and 9 were more houses, farms, dogs barking, and knee pain.  The country roads were pretty worn down, and the whole race I felt like I was weaving back and forth, trying to find some flat pavement, and I was starting to get really annoyed by it.  I took my walking break at mile 9, along with another gel and some electrolyte drink.

I honestly don’t remember much about mile 10, except that there was a wine station, another live band playing a Doobie Brothers song, and that the 5K course joined up with our course.  The wine station was offering a sip of Gewürztraminer, a cold, sweet white wine.  I knew the wine was going to be a game time decision for me, and at that point it sounded repulsive.  I also didn’t want to slow down for anything, I just wanted to keep going.

mile 8 – 12:31
mile 9 – 12:04
mile 10 – 13:00

It was at that time that I realized I could break 2:40 if I averaged about 12:30 for the rest of the race, which seemed totally do-able at that time, since I only planned on one more short walking break.  The next miles saw more spectators, and even though they were mostly cheering for TeamChallenge members (and ignoring those who weren’t), it was a nice positive change in energy.  After 11 miles I walked for a minute or so, as my last planned walking break.  My knee was really, really hurting and I was basically limp-jogging.  Lots of people were walking, and I was determined to keep running as much as I physically could.

At mile 12 I decided to take a quick unplanned walking break and stretched my lower back.  I needed it to mentally prepare myself for one more mile.  We entered into a park, and I could tell we were finally in Sonoma, which gave me a mental boost even though I was in quite a bit of pain.  I tried to pick up the pace but didn’t have much left in me.  Two more turns and we were on a city street, and I could see the finish line in the distance.  There were many more spectators, and lots of walkers on the right.  My Garmin showed 2:38, and I knew I needed to book it to finish within 2:40, so I went for it.  I ran at what felt like a sprint at the time, although in reality it wasn’t very fast!

(I don’t normally cross my arm across my body like that; I think at that point I was using my entire body to compensate for my knee pain…)

I watched the seconds tick away as I neared the finish line, and stopped my Garmin at 2:39:59.  I was exhausted and in a lot of pain, but absolutely elated.  Coming in five minutes faster than my “A” goal felt like absolutely smashing it!  My official chip time was 2:40:01, which I am okay with because I can still say “I’m a 2:40 half marathoner”.

mile 11 – 12:05
mile 12 – 13:01
mile 13 – 12:38
last .1 miles (.2 according to my Garmin) – 2:14 (11:09 pace)

I wasn’t thrilled with the food options at the finish line.  There were bananas, Greek yogurt, and sample bags in which the only thing I could eat was a sample sized bag of Mary’s Gone Crackers and a Clif protein bar.  I needed more sustenance!  Luckily, some of the drinks being given away at the FRS tent were vegan and had a good supply of carbs, and Zico was there handing out coconut water.  I got my finisher’s wine glass, found Becca and Ashley, took off my shoes (revealing some pretty nasty blisters), and sampled some wines before we hopped the shuttle back to our hotel.  My knee was incredibly stiff, I had to take stairs one at a time for the rest of the day, and if I sat for 10 minutes or more it hurt really bad to bend it.  I don’t know why my knee was so bad, it didn’t hurt like that on any of my long runs in training.  I think it might’ve had to do with the unevenness of the road and zig-zagging to find flat ground, and maybe taking the downhills too fast in the first few miles.

The medal is AWESOME.  It is both a corkscrew and a wine stopper.

I ate the Clif protein bar on the way back to the hotel, and didn’t have time for a real meal before our afternoon wine tasting appointment.  I wasn’t really hungry, so I wasn’t too worried about it.  After the first wine tasting though, I was starving and ate the snack pack of Mary’s crackers to tide me over.  One more wine tasting, and I was starting to feel it all wearing on me.  We decided on Bistro Don Giovanni for dinner, which came highly recommended by a few different people.

The waiter brought out fresh bread with this spicy spread of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic and red pepper flakes, and I devoured four pieces.  I wasn’t going to order an appetizer since I figured bread would be enough, but when the waiter mentioned they had gazpacho I knew I needed to go for it, especially since we’re in the middle of summer and the tomatoes in Northern California are fantastic this time of year.

There was a spicy cauliflower rotini dish on the menu that the waiter confirmed would be vegan without cheese, and it was really delicious.  The pasta and cauliflower were cooked perfectly.

Even after all that food, I still felt like a bottomless pit.  When we got back to the hotel, I had some Barbara’s Chocolate and Peanut Butter Puffins mixed with pretzels.  It was sweet and salty and wonderful, and I finally felt satisfied.

My knee was extremely sore the next day, although it felt better when I was walking around.  I played tourist in San Francisco and Berkeley Monday and Tuesday, and was ready for a short, easy run by Thursday, with only a small amount of discomfort in my knee.

Next up?  The Bad Bass Half Marathon tomorrow morning, around Lake Chabot.  That’s right, I signed up for another half marathon two weeks after my first half marathon, with confidence that I’d be recovered enough to do it.  I had planned to run four or five times in between and only got three runs in, so I guess on the bright side I’m well rested?  My plan is to take it easy and just have fun, enjoying the scenery around the lake.  My goal is just to finish, earning an automatic trail half marathon PR.