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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.

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Rock ‘n’ Roll LA Half Marathon Report – Part 1

27 Nov

The race passed (a few weeks ago now), but I still have raffle prizes left, so onward we go!  Tonight’s winners are Emily H. and Kylie B., I’ve e-mailed you for prize selection.

I have a LOT of pictures from race weekend, so I’m splitting the recap into two parts.  This one will be about the pre-race happenings.

I left work early Friday and flew down to LAX, and took a shuttle to the team hotel, the Loews Hollywood.  I was supposed to be sharing a room with another team member, but there was nobody else there and no one ever showed up with a key, so either I was a lucky odd woman out when it came to room pairings or someone just didn’t show.  Either way, I got a sweet hotel room to myself!  Score.

After settling in, I headed out for an early dinner.  I had researched vegan restaurants in the area, but my top choice was easy – Veggie Grill.  I’d never been to one and the menu sounded right up my alley.  The closest was just under two miles away, and I decided to walk in order to see a bit more of LA, and to avoid paying cab fare.  I was already famished when I set out, and absolutely starving by the time I arrived, so seeing the sign made me incredibly happy.

On a normal day, everything on their menu looks great.  Being so hungry, everything on the menu looked AMAZING.  I didn’t waste any time in ordering, and grabbed a seat.

I don’t usually have caloric beverages with dinner, but I took carbo-loading as an excuse to have a tasty drink.  I mixed half strawberry lemonade with half peach tea, which turned out to be a surprisingly delicious combination.  While I waited for my meal, I enjoyed watching everyone who came in, including lots of “normal” looking people who you wouldn’t peg for those who would eat a vegan meal.  Even the mall security guys came in to grab a take out order!

For my meal, I chose the Buffalo Bomber – crispy chickin’ tossed with spicy buffalo sauce, tomato, red onion, lettuce, and ranch dressing.  I really loved the sandwich.  The roll was hearty enough to hold everything together, the chickin’ was crispy and meaty, and the buffalo sauces and ranch dressing balanced each other well.  With carbo-loading as an excuse (again), I went with mac and cheese as my side, and to be honest I didn’t love it.  The texture of the sauce was gooey and creamy, but it was a little bland flavor-wise.

For dessert, I chose the chocolate chia pudding parfait with chocolate cookie crumbles.  I was expecting to get something with whole chia seeds, like tapioca, but I was pleased to see this perfectly smooth parfait.  It was wonderfully chocolaty and rich, just like the pudding cups of my youth.

I took the long way back to the hotel and walked over another hour, which probably wasn’t the best idea two days before a race, but it was a really nice night out and I wanted to explore.

The next morning was the coaches’ brunch.  I had been told there would at least be something vegan to eat, and I was expecting oatmeal or a bagel and fruit.  So, you can imagine I was thrilled when I saw tofu scramble (with veggies!), potatoes (clearly marked vegan!), and soy milk for the coffee.  I was feeling like a bottomless pit that morning, and definitely went back for seconds, only after some potatoes slipped off the plate and spilled ketchup ALL over me and the table cloth.

As we ate, we listened to remarks from Olympian Frank Shorter which were great, and then the national coach Spencer gave us some last minute tips and strategies, which were also great.

After brunch, we loaded into shuttles to be taken to the expo.  I’d never been to a big race expo, so I was excited to see what it was all about.  I was also determined not to spend any money.

Team ASPCA had our own check in area which was nice, but not necessarily faster since there weren’t a lot of other people checking in at the time.  After picking up my bib and swag bag I ambled around for a while, trying some samples and just looking around.  There wasn’t a whole lot to do there if you were trying not to shop.  The coolest feature, I thought, was a time lapse video of the race course, which gave us a preview of what was to come the next day.

I had plans for an early dinner that night but was hungry already by the time we got back to the hotel in the early afternoon, so I went to the mall next door and picked up a pizza from California Pizza Kitchen.

I would’ve liked way more veggies, but beggars can’t be choosers, and this was certainly fine for a get-me-through-to-dinner “snack”.  I also had a pumpkin soy latte from The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, since I’d heard they’re vegan if you ask to leave out the vanilla flavoring.  There was actual chunks of pumpkin puree in it, which was kind of weird texture-wise, but nice to know that it’s made from actual pumpkin.

For pre-race dinner, I had plans to get together with Dave’s sister, who lives in LA, and her boyfriend.  They’re not vegan or vegetarian, so I tried my best to find a good restaurant in the area that would suit us all, but had a hard time.  Luckily for me, they’re really open to different types of food and said they’d be fine with a vegan or vegetarian restaurant, so I came up with a few options.  I was really hoping that we’d be able to go to Real Food Daily, but we were a little short on time and traffic was crazy in the area (it was the Saturday before Halloween and partiers were out in full force), so we went for the one that was closest, Paru’s Indian.

When we pulled up to the address on Sunset, the front of the small building was a brick wall with bars on the windows.  We weren’t certain we were in the right place, but there was an open sign, so we rang the bell and were buzzed through the door, which revealed a courtyard of sorts.  We were then lead into the dining area, and it was clear that the restaurant was a converted house, which explained the weird facade.  It was really cozy inside, and we immediately became more comfortable with our choice!

We started with samosas, which were huge and delicious, and unfortunately I forgot to take a photo.  They came with chutney, coconut sauce, and a small dish of some sort of curried chickpeas in brown gravy.

For my entree, I chose the Tanjore Double platter, which was full of South Indian specialties.  It was WAY more food than it looks like in this photo!  I don’t eat South Indian food very often, and the tastes and textures were so interesting.  My favorite new discovery was the uppama, which was described to me as a kind of cream of wheat.  And the “mini dosa”?  It was at least a foot long.

I tried to leave some food on the plate in order not to completely stuff myself, but it was so good that even after I pushed the plate away I kept going back for more bites.  I know you’re not supposed to eat anything new or different the night before a race, but honestly I think my digestive system is strong enough to handle almost anything.  I did make sure not to order anything too spicy.

Next post – race day!

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.

Half Marathon Training Week 6 – My First Trail Race

19 Jun

Poking around for smaller races to integrate into my half marathon training, I came across the Canyon Meadow Trail Run, located in  nearby Redwood Regional Park.  I was scheduled for 8 miles that day, so neither the 5 mile race nor the half marathon fit very well.  The run looked like lots of fun, and a good introduction to trail racing, so I signed up for the five miler and figured I could just keep going for three more miles after the finish line.  (I was tempted to sign up for the half marathon and just hike the last five miles, but Dave convinced me it probably wasn’t the best idea.)

I thought about taking a camera along to capture some scenery, but decided against it that morning.  I kind of wish I had though, the trails were absolutely gorgeous!

Let’s talk about elevation for a second…

Having never run a trail race, or any hilly race for that matter, I didn’t know exactly what to expect.  I had read a few race reports from the previous year that talked about the giant hill at the beginning, and the race director warned us to walk it and save our energy for the rest of the run, so walk we did!  It was pretty brutal, even for a hike – almost a 400 foot gain in half a mile!  Once at the top, we were on a fire trail on top of a ridge, with rolling hills.  I ran the smaller ones, and hiked the steeper or longer ones.  My first mile was the slowest by far, clocking in at 16:52.

The runners doing the other (longer) distances shared the trail with us until about halfway, where the five mile runners turned off on another trail.  This trail descended into a shady canyon and a wide, leaf-covered path wound along a stream for most of the second half.  It was much more solitary and very quiet, except for a few groups of hikers.  The first two big drops were pretty difficult on the ol’ legs, but after that it was a nice, easy jog into the finish line.  About a half mile out, I passed a campsite where a few adults and toddlers were starting their day.  One lady called out my number as I approached, and the kids jumped and cheered.  As I passed, another lady said “You’re an inspiration to all of us!”  I don’t know if she said it because I’m a lady runner, or because I’m a bigger lady runner, or if she was saying it to everyone that passed, or maybe I looked like death at that point and she sensed I needed a little motivation, but it touched me so much.

My Garmin recorded the distance as 4.92 miles, and my time as 1:05:51.  My official time (gun time, no chips) was 1:06:22.  I came in 62nd out of 87 overall, and 7th out of 12 in my age group.  That’s almost the top half!  I was really happy with how I did in my first trail race, and very pleased with how the race went.  Every time I began to worry that I might be off course, I passed one of the pink flags that reassured me I was going the right way.  I definitely hope to participate in many more races put on by Coastal Trail Runs.

(The photographer got a shot of me at the finish line, but it is AWFUL.  I was trying out a new sports bra, and let’s just say it wasn’t holding up its end of the bargain.  Also, I looked like death, as I do at the end of most races…)

After finishing, I grabbed a handful of peanut butter filled pretzels and some water.  My original plan was to find a trail and do an out and back to make up the remaining three miles, but at that point in time I wanted nothing more to do with hills for the rest of the day.  So, I decided to drive to the marina (my usual weekend spot, almost a 30 minute drive from where I was), eating a gel on the way.  I headed out for three more miles, and immediately felt some pain on the outside of my left leg, above the knee.  After a half mile, I stopped to stretch and check it out; I couldn’t decide if it was the kind of pain you can run through, or the kind that’s telling you to stop.  I decided to keep going, telling myself I could turn around after a mile if I needed to.  The pain subsided a bit, and I ended up going 3.1 miles, a 5K, since the earlier distance was 4.9.  I knew that I probably shouldn’t have pushed to go the whole distance, but I really didn’t want to skip from 7 miles right to 9 for my long runs.

The next morning, my leg was SO SORE.  It hurt to walk, and it hurt really badly to walk downhill or downstairs.  It felt like muscular pain, and I knew all I could really do was rest and ice and wait to see.  The next day it felt substantially better, and I could walk with little pain.  Lesson learned:  take it easy on those downhills!  I think it was the steep one between 2.75 and 3 miles that did me in.

Here’s the rest of what went down that week:

half marathon training week six
Monday – rest
Tuesday – ran 2 miles
Wednesday – ran 3.5 miles
Thursday –rest
Friday – ran 3 miles
Saturday- rest
Sunday – ran 8 miles

Mileage total for the week – 16.5

Looking back, it seems I skipped all cross training this week, but at least got all my runs in.  Not sure why that happened…

Wednesday, 5/30/12

breakfast – smoothie (strawberries, raspberries, 2 Tbs hemp seeds, 1 Tbs ground flax, cinnamon, 1/2 tsp maple syrup)
AM snack – unsweetened applesauce, coffee with vanilla coconut creamer
lunch – broiled tofu and roasted cabbage over brown rice with dulse flakes & 1 tsp sesame seeds, small chocolate chip cookie
PM snack – salad (leaf lettuce, carrots, bac’uns, tahini dressing), apple
PM snack 2 – 2 dates
PM snack 3 – chocolate sacha inchi blueberry energy bar
dinner – eggplant wrap with spicy tahini sauce, sugar snap peas

exercise – ran 3.5 miles (42 minutes), walked 10 minutes

daily points used:  28
activity points earned:  8
activity points used:  4

Thursday, 5/31/12

breakfast – smoothie (blueberries, banana, almond milk, kale, chocolate hemp protein powder)
AM snack – strawberries, 6 walnuts, coffee with vanilla coconut creamer
lunch – Annie Chun’s Teriyaki Noodle Bowl, sugar snap peas
PM snack – carrot & celery sticks with 4 Tbs hummus
dinner – 16 tortilla chips, salad with pinto beans, tomato, avocado & salsa, 18 oz red wine

daily points used:  28
activity points used:  23

Friday, 6/1/12

breakfast – smoothie (blueberries, banana, almond milk, 1 Tbs ground flax, chocolate hemp protein powder, 1 Tbs carob powder, kale)
AM snack – strawberries, 12 almonds, coffee with vanilla coconut creamer
lunch – tofu fresh spring rolls with peanut sauce, a few bites of stir-fried tofu & veggies with brown rice
PM snack – peach
dinner – rest of the stir-fried tofu & veggies with brown rice, small chocolate chip cookie, 12 oz MGD 64, 12 oz light beer, 8 oz red wine

exercise – ran 3 miles (35 minutes), walked 10 minutes

daily points used:  28
activity points used:  8
weekly points used:  10

Saturday, 6/2/12

breakfast – half a sesame seed sprouted wheat bagel with 2 Tbs better than cream cheese, coffee with hazelnut coconut creamer
AM snack – cherries
AM snack 2 – Chocolate Chip Cherry Tort Larabar
late lunch/early dinner – side salad (baby greens, sunflower seeds, carrot, lemon vinaigrette), tempeh reuben on rye with sauerkraut, Thousand Island & Daiya, sweet potato fries with ketchup
evening – smoothie (strawberries, orange, banana, almond milk), 12 oz red wine

daily points used:  28
weekly points used:  14

Sunday, 6/3/12

breakfast – half a sesame seed sprouted wheat bagel with 2 Tbs better than cream cheese, iced soy latte
between runs – 5 peanut butter filled pretzels, Vega Raspberry Endurance Gel
post run – banana, Vega Recovery Accelerator
lunch – spicy garlic eggplant with 1 cup white rice
dinner – Gardein asada burrito with rice, beans, lettuce, salsa & guacamole, peach, 12 oz red wine

exercise – ran 8 miles (one hour 42 minutes), walked 20 minutes

daily points used:  28
activity points earned:  17
weekly points used:  23

Half Marathon Training Week 5 – May 2012 LMJS 4th Sunday 10K

29 May

half marathon training week five
Monday – 55 minutes kickboxing
Tuesday – ran 2 miles
Wednesday – ran 3 miles
Thursday –BodyPump (60 minutes weight lifting)
Friday – rest
Saturday- rest
Sunday – ran 7 miles

Mileage total for the week – 12

This was a pretty good week for exercise.  We had a substitute instructor for kickboxing Monday night, and to be honest I didn’t enjoy the class.  The usual TurboKick instructors put together routines and combinations that keep it really interesting; this guy just had us do one move over and over and over.  Granted, it was a good workout and I was sweating like mad by the end, but if it’s not fun I’m a lot less likely to go to class.  I hope they find someone good to take it over permanently soon.

Tuesday I was sore, so I took it easy on the 2 mile run.  I ended up with an average pace of 11:24 though, which is pretty good for me, so it must not’ve been that easy.  Wednesday’s run was a bit of a struggle – I felt like I was either pushing or pulling back on my pace the whole time, I just couldn’t settle in.

I had a run scheduled for Friday, but I spent half the work day packing up our office (we’re moving tomorrow), and by the time we got home I was exhausted.  I decided to rest in order to be well-prepared for a 10K on Sunday.

I had 7 miles on the calendar for Sunday, and I planned to run the LMJS Fourth Sunday Run 10K and just keep going a little after the finish line.  7 miles pushes into the distance where I feel like I need to take in some fuel during the run, so I wore my ifitness belt and carried water and a Vega Sport endurance gel.  I also took my iPhone and listened to music, since I was running alone.

My goals for the 10K were:
A)  Finish.
B)  Keep my pace around or under a 12 minute mile, and set a personal record.
C)  Don’t make an ass out of myself (this is also a general life goal)…

Miles 1 and 2 went well, right around an average of 12:00/mile.  I took a brief walking and water break at the beginning of the third mile.  I didn’t necessarily need to stop, but thought it was a good strategy to get through.  The fourth mile was uneventful, I fell into a good pace and got a little boost from passing the 10K halfway point (the course goes twice around Lake Merritt).  At the beginning of the fifth mile, I walked for a bit to take the energy gel. I’ve never eaten a gel before, and I was actually impressed with the orange zest flavor.  It tasted like a mixture of dates and applesauce (even though there was no apple in it), with a nice citrusey flavor.  I absolutely felt a surge of energy, my fifth mile only took 11:30, which is a fantastic pace for me, especially that far in to a long run.  Entering the sixth mile I checked my watch and saw that I could PR, so I decided to give the end of the 10K everything I had, then treat the remaining .8 miles as a cool down.  Approaching the finish line, my Garmin read 1:14:30 when it crossed 6.2 miles.  My official time for the race, however, was 1:15:37.  I was the last 10K runner to finish, but that really doesn’t bother me.  I know I’m slow!  At least I only got lapped by a few of the 15K runners.  The official time is 40 seconds faster than my previous 10K time, so I met my goal of setting a personal record.

As I crossed the finish line, I kept running and accepted a finisher’s ribbon from a volunteer.  She said “still going strong” and as I ran away another volunteer yelled “one more mile!”.  That made me feel so great!  I ran really easy until I reached 7 miles (the blister on the inside of my left heel was really bad by this point), and I was impressed to find that I still had energy to burn at the end.  My total time was 1:24:02, for a perfect average pace of 12:00.  Considering this was the farthest I’ve ever run so far, I was extremely happy with how it went.  Now, to keep building mileage until I reach 13.1!

Food-wise, I wasn’t even close to my goal for this week, which was to leave half of my activity points unused.  In reality, I ate them all and then went even further over my limit.

Totals for 5/23/12 – 5/29/12

Daily points used:  196/196
Weekly points used:  94/49
Activity points earned:  33
Activity points used:  33
Points left on the table:  -45

My resolve was not as strong this week as I had intended.  I know what my nemeses are:  red wine and tortilla chips.  I had much too much of both.  I thought the three day weekend might do me in, but that wasn’t really it.  I just made too many poor choices, and didn’t exercise self control as much as I would’ve liked.  I need to get to the grocery store ASAP to stock up on fruits and veggies to make those choices easier for myself.

Friday, 5/25/12

breakfast – smoothie (banana, raspberries, hemp seeds, ground flax, carob powder, spinach, almond milk)
AM snack – strawberries, 12 almonds, coffee with vanilla coconut creamer
lunch – chickpea flour cake with peppery tempeh-mushroom filling, stir fry with black bean garlic sauce (cabbage, carrot, celery, bell pepper, kelp noodles)
PM snack – salad (romaine, carrot, celery, bacon flavored chips, 1 tsp sunflower seeds, 1 Tbs goddess dressing)
dinner – jerk tofu with vegetables, rice & peas, cabbage salad, fried plantains
after dinner – 18 oz red wine, dinner roll

daily points used:  28
activity points used:  13
weekly points used:  16

Saturday, 5/26/12

breakfast – banana with 1 Tbs almond butter, coffee with almond milk
AM snack – multigrain pretzel braids
lunch @ baseball game – seitan hot dog on wheat hot dog bun with grilled onions, ketchup, mustard and relish, 1/2 oz dill pickle potato chips, grilled asparagus, grilled portobello, 4 oz wine
PM snack – broccoli, carrots & cucumber with 1/4 cup hummus, 16 oz light beer
dinner – Amy’s California burger on wheat hamburger bun with Daiya Jack, pickles, grilled asparagus
after dinner – three small chocolate chip cookies, 14 oz red wine

daily points used:  28
weekly points used:  30

Sunday, 5/27/12

breakfast – sprouted grains English muffin with 1 Tbs almond butter, coffee with almond milk
pre-run – Vega Pre-Workout Energizer drink
during run – Vega Endurance Gel
post-run – smoothie (banana, raspberries, sprouted chia powder, maca powder, coconut water, spinach)
post-run 2 – chocolate Vega Performance Protein in almond milk
PM snack – multigrain pretzel braids
dinner – vegetarian chili with avocado, Daiya Jack and tortilla chips
after dinner – chocolate chip cookie, 12 oz red wine

exercise – ran 7 miles (84 minutes), walked 10 minutes

daily points used:  28
activity points earned:  16
weekly points used:  3
non-existent points used:  17

Monday, 5/28/12

breakfast – grits with nutritional yeast
AM snack – multigrain pretzel braids
lunch @ baseball game – vegan Italian sausage on a bun with grilled onions & peppers,  ketchup, mustard & relish, garlic fries with ketchup, 16 oz light beer
dinner – vegetarian chili with tortilla chips, chocolate chip cookie, 10 oz red wine

daily points used:  28
non-existent points used:  25

Tuesday, 5/29/12

breakfast – smoothie (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, pomegranate juice, plant fusion protein powder)
AM snack – cherries, 12 almonds, coffee with vanilla coconut creamer
lunch – vegetarian chili with tortilla chips, orange
PM snack – carrot & celery sticks with 1/4 cup sun-dried tomato basil hummus
PM snack 2 – chocolate chip cookie
dinner – broiled tofu and roasted cabbage over brown rice with dulse flakes & 1 tsp sesame seeds

exercise – ran 2 miles (24 minutes), walked 10 minutes

daily points used:  28
activity points earned:  5
non-existent points used:  3

Base Building Week 4 – Injury & a 5K PR

30 Apr

My fourth and last week of base building training started out normally, but my legs were really beginning to feel the effects of running four times a week, especially my left hip, which was in pain starting a mile in to every run.  I took an Advil before the three-miler on Wednesday, and told myself to just get through it at any pace and I could have the next day off (from running, at least).  When I woke up Thursday morning my shoulders felt funny, and upon stretching I felt an intensely sharp pain in my right shoulder.  Moving my shoulder at all in any direction hurt badly.  I did a bit of Googling and figured out that I probably had a pinched nerve, called in sick to work, and rested on the couch all day.  I alternated between icing and heating my shoulder, which seemed to ease the pain, and I obviously missed my workout that day.  On Friday I still felt some discomfort and had a limited range of motion, but I felt well enough to go to work.  I skipped my scheduled workout again.

Saturdays are rest days, which I was grateful for, so I rested in hopes of being well enough to run the next day.  I had signed up for the Lake Merritt Joggers and Striders Fourth Sunday Run to celebrate finishing the base building phase, and I really wanted to run it since my friend Megan was going, and I thought I could set a 5K personal record.  When I woke up Sunday morning, I had my full range of motion back with no pain, so I ran!  My legs felt well rested since I had taken three days off, and I kept up a pretty good pace (for me, at least).  My first goal was to beat my previous PR, which wasn’t difficult since I’m now in much better shape, and my secondary goal was to keep my overall page under 12 minutes per mile.  I did both – I came in at 37:18, beating my previous PR by almost a full minute, and with an average pace of 11:48 per mile.  The second mile was actually the slowest (I can see mile splits now that I have a fancy-pants Garmin Forerunner), which is great because it means I saved plenty of gas for the end of the race.

I still don’t know what was wrong with my shoulder, maybe I just slept on it funny?  My body has a interesting way of telling me when to take it easy…like when I had Bell’s Palsy a few years ago…

base building week four
Monday – 45 minutes elliptical
Tuesday – ran 2.5 miles
Wednesday – ran 3 miles
Thursday – rest
Friday – rest
Saturday- rest
Sunday – ran 5K (3.1 miles)

Mileage total for the week – 8.6

Friday, 4/20/12

breakfast – smoothie (banana, blueberries, 2 Tbs rolled oats, hemp protein powder, 1 date, spinach, almond milk)
AM snack – orange Emergen-C, apple, 6 almonds, coffee with vanilla soy creamer
lunch – Indonesian Vegetable & Tofu Scramble, chile-lime roasted sweet potatoes
PM snack – 5 cups plain popcorn
dinner – Barbecue Pinto Beans & Portobello, coleslaw pasta salad, chocolate chip cookie, 12 oz MGD 64, 12 oz light beer, 6 oz red wine

daily points used:  28
weekly points used:  17

Saturday, 4/21/12

breakfast – smoothie (banana, strawberries, mango, kiwi, rolled oats, orange juice, Vega One, spinach), coffee with hazelnut coconut creamer
lunch – salad (leaf lettuce, broccoli, carrots, bell pepper, 1/2 cup chickpeas, 2 Tbs goddess dressing, bacon flavored chips)
dinner/baseball game – buffalo tofu sandwich on a wheat bun with lettuce, tomato and Sanctuary dressing, carrot & celery sticks, 1 oz ruffles potato chips, 12 oz MGD 64, 36 oz light beer, 6 oz red wine

daily points used:  28
weekly points used:  22

Sunday, 4/22/12

breakfast – half a sprouted wheat English muffin with 1 Tbs each almond butter with roasted flaxseeds & blueberry preserves, iced coffee with soymilk
AM snack – smoothie (banana, cherries, hemp protein powder, sprouted chia powder, maca powder, pomegranate juice)
lunch – chickpea salad (red onion, celery, relish, reduced fat Vegenaise) on a low carb tortilla with lettuce & tomato, carrot sticks
PM snack – cantaloupe, multigrain pretzel nuggets
dinner – baked beans, coleslaw pasta salad, 10oz red wine

daily points used:  28
weekly points used:  6
non-existent points used:  4