Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Training Tuesday - LA Marathon week 11 + 12

I'm recapping the last two weeks because I skipped a week of workout recaps. 

two weeks ago:

Monday: 45 minutes easy (4.94 miles @9:07) This run felt awesome. It was great to be back out there after over a week off! 
Tuesday: 45 minutes speedwork (5.49 @ 9:23, 8 x 400's in there) Again, felt great. Super strong on the repeats. 
Wednesday: 45 35 minutes recovery (3.38 miles @ 10:31) I cut this run short because I was hungry and miserable. 
Thursday: 45 minutes easy with last 12 fast rest I was still at my desk at 8:30pm (since 7am) so I skipped this one.
Friday: cross a little at-home yoga 
Saturday: Santa Monica-Venice Christmas Run 10k (6.27 miles @ 7:40 + 1.38 mile warmup @ 12:26) recap
Sunday: rest
Total: 21.5 miles 

last week:
Monday: 45 minutes easy (4.76 miles @ 9:28) Felt a little sore and sluggish on this run, but it was nice to shake it out. 
Tuesday: 5 mile tempo I had the sniffles, and while I'm 99% sure it is allergies due to some bad air quality days, I didn't want to push it just in case. 
Wednesday: 45 minutes recovery (5.17 miles @ 11:19). I ended up running for almost an hour because I ran with Wes for his Couch to 5k. So the first half hour included a lot of walking. I didn't want to do my full recovery run after that, because it would have been a total of 1.25 hours, but I also didn't want to just run for 15 more minutes. I split the difference and it felt pretty good. 
Thursday: 50 minutes easy with last 12 fast (6.06 miles @ 8:15) The last 12 minutes of this ended up being blazing fast. Like, too fast. I looked into it once I got home and realized that the heart rate zones were not set correctly. D'oh! Problem should be solved now. 
Friday: cross (2.15 miles @ 12:53) Instead of cross training I joined Wes for Couch to 5k again. Close enough, right? 
Saturday: 2 hour 40 minutes long run (14.78 miles @ 9:33) My legs were feeling pretty tired after what felt like a long week. I'm going to blame the messed up heart rate zones for this one. 
Sunday: rest
Total: 33 miles 

I can't believe I hadn't noticed the issue with my heart rate monitor sooner. I've been really struggling to hit the "zone 3" range, which should be just below and up to lactate threshold. Every time I tried it seemed like the effort I was putting out was much more than it should be. Turns out, that's because it was. I set it correctly, but haven't run with it yet to test it out. This was a nice reminder for me to trust in myself over my gadgets. I should have known something was wrong, but am so used to trusting my electronics. As a result, I've been running much harder than I should be for about a month now. Looking back, it makes sense. This last month or so I've also been feeling more fatigued than I felt like I should be and almost every week I have been skipping workouts to get in some more rest. This week is a step-back week for my mid-week runs, so hopefully between running shorter and running easier I'll get some more rest. 

this week:
Monday: 40 minutes easy
Tuesday: speedwork
Wednesday: 40 minutes easy
Thursday: 45 minutes easy with last 10 fast
Friday: rest
Saturday: 3 hour long run
Sunday: cross

How is everyone's training going? Do you have any upcoming races on the schedule? 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Santa Monica Venice Christmas Run 10k race recap

I feel like I should start this post by explaining my last one. I fear that my last post sounded whiney and entitled because, well, it was. I had my heart really set on a goal that is/was unreasonable for me at this time. As Ali pointed out, sometimes it is good to have long-range goals that aren't attainable in one race, but instead are things to aim for over months and possibly even years. I agree, and I still think that a 45 minute 10k can be one of those things for me, but I was really hoping for it this time around. 

Why? I don't really want to dig too much into this at the moment, but it suffices to say that the last few months have been difficult for me, both personally and professionally, and there have been (many) times when I've felt that running is the only thing I'm doing well. My stellar PR at the Greenway Half was something I needed so badly. Thinking about the next huge milestone helped push me through the few weeks after that, so recognizing that I wouldn't reach it really stung.

All that said, I knew I was capable of a PR in this race, and I did that. I'm proud of my performance. For the time, but also less because I pushed myself to the absolute limit of my abilities that day. Kerry and I have had multiple conversations about how I always feel like I have something "left in the tank" at the end of races. With my (unreasonable) race goal, that most definitely did not happen. In fact, I had to come to a complete stop and vomit less than a quarter mile from the finish. I have never gotten sick from running before, so in some ways that was a milestone itself, albeit a miserable one.

The race: 
nothing says "christmas" like palm trees and sunshine :)

This race was a lot of fun. It was huge for a local 10k - 6,000+ entrants. It was well organized and the course was pancake flat, as advertised. I arrived super early so that we could do race-day bib pickup and do a mile or so warm up with the team. 

There were honor-system pace corrals at the start and the starts were staggered by about a 30 seconds to a minute between each group. Unfortunately, people were very liberal with their placements. I lined up with the 7:00-7:59 group but still spent the first mile weaving my way around walkers and people with strollers. Sigh. Nothing against either of those groups of people, they just shouldn't have been lined up in either the 6 or less than 6 pace groups. Probably. Some stroller pushers kick serious butt. My coach's wife recently ran a sub 3 marathon while pushing her baby in a stroller - how awesome is that?!

Anyway, the course had a few segments where we ran one way down one side of the street and the other way back down the other side. It made the course feel "loopy" (ha) but it meant that I got to see friends and teammates multiple times, which was fun. There were 2 aid stations, but we passed one twice, so effectively 3. 

I tried my hardest to negative split, but after the halfway point I just couldn't pick up the pace any faster than I was going. In mile 5 I was struggling to hang on. 

I picked it up by mile 6, but paid for that surge in the last .2, when I had to come to a complete stop and be sick. Mile 6 took us close to the finish and I could hear the crowd cheering and got super excited. I also thought I was closer to the end than I was. Every time I passed someone else from the team I would pick up the pace a tiny bit, until I reached my breaking point. I wish the race didn't end that way, but at the same time, I'm glad I learned where that "breaking point" is. It is truly the first time in my life I can say I left nothing out there. 

There was a large post-race area with water and snacks and, of course, Nutribullet blasts. 

post-race team photo

As I was leaving, I ran into Coach Jimmy in the parking lot. He asked how the race was and I answered with something like "I PR'd, but...". He wasn't having any of that. He reminded me that when we start running, especially those of us who start as adults, we achieve PRs relatively easily. As the years go by they become much harder to come by, and eventually, with age, it becomes incredibly difficult to hit PR times. Saying "I achieved a PR, but" discounts how special these opportunities are and the kinds of work that go into them. It takes for granted so many things - health, fitness, time, money - that I can't assume will always be there for me when I want to train and race. 

He's right. He's right about running and in many ways this speaks to a broader truth about myself. I'm pretty quick to get sucked into thinking "blah blah blah awesome thing, but". Obviously I'm not going to have a complete turnaround of my thought processes from one conversation, but I'm definitely trying to strike those negative thoughts about my running. baby steps. 

Friday, December 4, 2015

pre-race post: Santa Monica-Venice Christmas Run 10k

Tomorrow is my first race with Team Nutribullet. The team has already run a race together, but it was the same day as the Greenway 2020 Half Marathon I ran last month. I'm pretty excited. Both because it is the first race with the team, but also because it's my first time racing a 10k. I've only run one 10k and I did it as a fun run with my fiancé about a year and a month ago. It was the first time I ran one of the Greenway 2020 races, actually.

This is super scary, but after my awesome half last month, one of the Nutribullet coaches thinks that a 45 minute 10k is within reach. I couldn't believe it when she told me that, but I don't entirely disagree. My Garmin 10k is 50:02, which I hit in the middle of my last half marathon. Achieving a much better time doesn't seem crazy in a much shorter race, given that I was well rested and well prepared. 

...and that's the problem. Well-rested, yes. Well-prepared? Not at all. I just took a lot of time off. I took Thursday off for no reason at all. On Wednesday I cut my run short by 10 minutes because I was hungry. I really don't feel like I'm ready to bring my "A" game tomorrow. I don't even know about my "B" game.

I guess the nice thing about this being my first time racing a 10k is that it's essentially an automatic PR. My standing "PR" is one I feel like I could better even on a "D" day at my current level of fitness.

The truth is, once I heard that time, it stuck with me. I really wanted to be able to hit it. I thought about it for the last few weeks. I just honestly don't think it is even remotely realistic right now. 

oh well

The good news is the course is super flat. It's also Christmas themed! 

I'm thinking about wearing this costume. Thoughts? (source)

Even if the race is a bit of a disappointment for me, it will be the first race with the team, and that's pretty cool. I'm trying very hard to remind myself that this is something I do for fun, that races are fun, that I'm only competing against myself, and that it isn't the end of the world to postpone a lofty goal for a better time. 

That doesn't mean I have to like it. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Is your kitty a convict?

I'm taking a short pause from writing about running to talk about something else near and dear to my heart - cats!

The kitty convict project is a public awareness movement aimed at increasing the rate at which missing cats are returned to their homes. The idea is that all indoor cats should be adorned with something orange (e.g. an orange collar) so that people know that these cats belong indoors, not out. If someone should encounter an orange-collared kitty out in the wild, they will know to try to locate the kitty's caretakers. 

I know it can be a hassle to coax an indoor-only cat into wearing a collar, but it is well worth it. Even a non-orange collar can increase the chances that your cat will be returned to you should it wander off. It has the additional benefit of warning songbirds that your kitty might be trying to turn them into dinner

I have a very personal reason for promoting this project. Years ago I had an indoor cat who never wore a collar, because why would I force that on her? She mostly lived on and around my sofa. Of course, indoor cats have a way of getting out from time to time. One night she got out and I searched and I searched, but she got out during a huge thunderstorm and trying to find her that night was impossible. I searched and searched for days, weeks, months... Phoenix never came home. She wasn't very old for an indoor cat... about 8 years, so I doubt she went away to die. She wasn't street smart though, so I feared the worst for her. I hope she found a nice family who took her in and spoiled her rotten, but it's hard to imagine they could have missed the color "wanted" posters I hung on practically every available surface for miles. 

she gave the best stink eye

the picture I used on her lost cat posters

I still miss her. I'm only one person, but I don't think I'll ever walk/run/bike past another orange-collared kitty convict without trying to return it home. I just hope that I can spare someone the heartbreak I went through. 

learn more: http://www.explodingkittens.com/kittyconvict

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Training Tuesday - LOL (aka LA Marathon weeks 9 + 10)

I'm actually not even going to write about training, because there isn't much to write about. I ran 21 miles in these two weeks combined. I was in Denver for a conference for four of those days, and then spent 7 days driving from Salt Lake City to Missoula, MT, and back to Los Angeles (I flew straight from Denver to SLC). I had every intention of running while I was at the conference and on vacation, but once I was actually at the conference I found myself busy with all kinds of things, including grabbing lunch with Kerry who was passing through Denver. She was also headed to Utah, but a different part. Great minds think alike! Later, during the vacation part of my trip, I just didn't feel like interrupting vacation time to go for a run. 

Denver sunrise

And you know what? zero guilt. 

Sure, maybe this will interfere with some of the huge goals I have for next year's races. Will it though? I have a hard time really believing that taking 11 days off to stay up late with friends, sleep in, and eat and drink too much will really have that much of an effect when I race in 6 months. 

LDS Temple in Downtown Salt Lake City

It was my dog's first time in the snow and she LOVED it. We had a ton of fun stoping around in the snow with her. 

maybe I ran a tiny bit

She seemed to love the cold, too. There was only one time when it seemed like she was cold and wanted to come inside. Most of the rest of the time she was begging to go out and roll around in the snow. 


We had Thanksgiving dinner with a good friend and his girlfriend, roommate, kids and friends. It was my first time trying a deep fried turkey. Guess what? It was delicious! No photos because I was busy stuffing my face. 

family photo, Grand Tetons National Park

Vacation's over now, and so it's time to get back to work. I've been feeling a bit stressed about getting back into a good work rhythm after nearly two weeks off. Not to mention feeling a bit sore and sluggish after taking 11(!) days off running. That's more days off in a row than I took when I had Whopping Cough, though, in retrospect, is probably exactly what I should have done back then. 

On Sunday I did a yoga class to shake out after spending over 24 hours in the car between Friday and Saturday. My hips are tight tight tight! Yesterday I did a 45 minute easy run which felt like a huge struggle fest for the first mile and a half, but after I got warmed up I was so happy to be back out there. 

In other news - I won't be doing any Pup to 5k this week or next week. My baby is getting spayed today. I'm a nervous wreck. I know this is totally routine surgery and not high risk at all, but I'm still worried. 

this week:
Monday: 45 minutes easy
Tuesday: 45 minutes speedwork
Wednesday: 45 minutes recovery
Thursday: 45 minutes easy with last 12 fast
Friday: rest
Saturday: Santa Monica-Venice Christmas Run 10k 
Sunday: cross

Did I mention I have a race this Saturday! Yikes! I feel super unprepared. 

Did you have a nice Thanksgiving?

Are you also feeling overwhelmed by getting back into work and realizing there are even more holidays right around the corner?! Can we slow this all down a bit, please?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Training Tuesday - LA Marathon week 8

I felt surprisingly beat up from my half marathon a little over a week ago. I tried to keep last week pretty mellow to let myself recover. 

last week: 
Monday: recovery yoga + Pup to 5k (2.27 miles @ 13:14)
I felt super sluggish the whole time I was on the run with the dog. Gentle yoga helped a lot. 

Tuesday: rest
I had been hoping to join up with my usual Tuesday group for some speedwork, but that just wasn't going to happen. I was more sore today than yesterday. I let myself rest and watched the Republican debate.

Wednesday: heart rate test (2.01 miles @ 10:00) + Pup to 5k (2.27 miles @ 13:13)
Most of the soreness was gone, but I wasn't feeling particularly strong either. Fortunately the heart rate test is short and effort-based, so it mostly just felt like a nice little shake out.

Thursday: heart rate test (2.08 miles @ 9:37) 
I felt much better during this test, which shows in the pace increase. Both days gave me exactly the same average heart rate during the "comfortably hard" segment, despite there being a pace difference of 20 seconds/mile. I take that as a good sign that I understand what "comfortably hard" feels like for my body as distinct from how quickly I am passing over the ground. 

Friday: cross + Pup to 5k (2.18 miles @ 13:46)
Friday ended up being a surprisingly busy day, so I just squeezed the dog's routine plus a short youtube yoga video. 

Saturday: 110 minute long run (10.2 miles @ 9:28)
I got less than 6 hours of sleep before doing this run with the team, so I wasn't exactly feeling awesome. Lesson learned. The long runs I do with Team Nutribullet are for time, which I like because that's how I do my mid-week runs, but our coach wants us to include time we spend at stoplights, which is something I don't do on my own. As a result, for this 110 minute run my garmin logged 96 minutes of moving time. It feels like a big difference and I feel like I'm being cheated out of my long runs, but I know I should trust in the coach's plan. 

Sunday: rest
Brunch and pedicures. Because Sunday.

Total miles: 21

this week:
Monday: easy 35 minute run + Pup to 5k
Tuesday: tempo run
Wednesday: 135 minute long run + Pup to 5k
Thursday: rest
Friday: 35 minutes easy
Saturday: 45 minutes easy with last 10 fast

Sunday: cross

This week and next are going to be tough. I'm traveling a ton. I'm going to try to do my long run tomorrow before my flight to free up my schedule later in the week, because I know it won't happen on Saturday. 

I'm headed to Denver tomorrow! Do any of my readers live in or spend time in Denver? Have any recommendations for me? 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Greenway 2020 Half Marathon race recap

Those of you who follow me on Instagram probably already know that I knocked out a huge PR at last weekend's Greenway 2020 Half Marathon. The race photos haven't been posted yet, so apologies for the wall-o-text. 

looking a little tired

I'll start by saying that I just love this race. I ran the 10k last year and when I saw that they were adding a half this year I signed up right away. This is partly because it is a benefit for the LA River Revitalization Corp, a non-profit that is working to create a green corridor that would connect all 51 miles of the LA river with bicycle and pedestrian access. Right now most of the river is a concrete-lined ditch, so this would be a tremendous improvement for people and animals. 

On the whole I was happy with this race. It is a small race with good on-course support, a good after-party, and the proceeds support a good cause. The route is along the LA river bike path, which I like because I sometimes do long runs there, so it's familiar, but in many places it runs parallel to I-5, which is a bummer for some people.

The race definitely experienced some growing pains this year. The race's facebook page has been filled with a lot of angry comments post-race, some of which I agree with, some I don't understand. I'll address them individually. 

The race apparently promised us pint glasses in our swag bags. I remember getting them last year, but didn't get them this year. People are grumbling about it, but I don't care much either way. This year's tech shirt is much better and came in women's sizes (last year's didn't), and I care much more about that than some glassware.

Some people were upset that there was no water or snacks at the finish line. There was when I finished and when I went back to check the times about an hour later, so I don't know how many people this impacted, but it does sound like it was unfair to those at the back of the pack.

The race started 15 minutes late, which was annoying. Because LA is so arid, there is a huge temperature differential between night and day. From the time I arrived at the starting area to the time I left the after party after brunch, the temperature had changed 20 degrees. I wore a singlet and shorts to the race because I knew it would be in the mid-70s by the time I finished, but that meant I was shivering in mid-50s temps at the start for 15 minutes longer than I anticipated. 

By far the biggest issue is that the course was short OR poorly marked. It is unclear. Multiple people at the finish were commenting on having short distances on their watches or phones. Mine was off by about a half mile, which is pretty consistent with what everyone else was saying. I don't usually blame the race director when my Garmin is off, but in this case I think something weird happened. There was at least one turn around point that was very poorly signed, and it seems like that might explain the mix-up, but the race director hasn't made any comment yet. 


I'll be honest, I felt very underprepared for this race. I hadn't run a double-digit run since August, when I ran a 10 miler, and I'd run one in July as well. I've been feeling strangely fatigued and vaguely sort-of-ill for weeks now... it's something I haven't wanted to write about but have been seeing my doctor for. The night before the race I had wings, wine (not much), and chili cheese fries for dinner, because at that point I'd sort of given up. 

That said, I now feel like that sort of apathetic approach helped in some ways. I felt very calm and relaxed on race day. My mileage was more spread out throughout the week, so even though I haven't done any double-digit runs in awhile, I've been consistently hitting 20+ miles per week. I've also done a crapton of speedwork over the last 6 months and I felt like I was really seeing the results of that during this race.

the race:
Like I said, the race started late, so I was pretty chilly when it started. I meant to drink a pint of my homemade gatorade with my breakfast (banana, black coffee, pop-tart) but I ended up bringing it with me to the start instead. I had a little over half of it left when the gun went, so I carried it with me during the race. I also had a Raspberry Clif Shot with me. As annoying as it was to carry a water bottle with me for the whole race, it was nice to have my own gatorade. I took a big sip every 2 miles starting at mile 3. I had a bit of my Clif Shot at miles 4, 6, 8 and 10. For some reason I really couldn't stomach it during this race. It felt too thick and paste like, I felt like I was choking on it. When I've used gummies in the past I break it up along this pattern, and I think I'll do it with gels in the future, because sometimes gels make me feel sluggish if I eat them all at once.

Miles 1-6.5:
The first few miles flew by. I had a vague plan to run aggressively negative splits until I couldn't keep the pace up any more. Maybe it is a dumb strategy, but I feel like I never push myself hard enough in races so I thought I'd go with it. I was aiming for an 8:30 for the first mile and my goal was to take 5 seconds off my average pace each mile. The first half of the course was very slightly downhill and I found it very easy to stick to this plan. A lot of people passed me in the first two miles, but as I sped up I started gaining on them again. The course was mostly on a bike path bordered by a river on one side and either a freeway or the backs of buildings on the other, so there were very few spectators. Personally, I like a quiet course, but I understand that some people really enjoy crowd support. If you are one of those people, this is not the race for you.

Miles 6.5-10:
This part of the course mostly took us back up the other side of the bike path that we'd run down. The downhill now turned to uphill, and I felt the difference. I tried my hardest to get my pace under 8 but couldn't hold it. I felt comfortable sticking close to 8, so I held it there and hoped I could keep it up for the end. I was passing people pretty steadily at this point, and I'd counted women heading the other way at the turnaround, so I knew that at the halfway point I was the 7th woman. Knowing that I could probably place in my age group gave me a lot of motivation in the more difficult miles. Like the first half of the course, this part just flew by.

Mile 10-finish:
This is where we we met up with the 10k runners, who had started 20 minutes after us. There was a weird turnaround about a half mile after that junction that I think was the cause of the mileage problems. At this point I lost track of how many people were in front of me, because the 10k runners were all mixed up with us. Still, I tried my best to hold my pace and even pick it up a bit in the last half mile.

The finish line was much more crowded with spectators. The race ends at a local brewery that sponsors the race, so it is a good race for friends and family to meet up post-race. There was a photographer doing free professional finish-line photos but there was a bit of a line for it when I got to the end so I didn't get one. I was feeling pretty exhausted and really just wanted my water and a snack. We got medals, a mini clif bar, a bottle of water and a beer at the finish.

Time: I finished with a chip time of 1:43:13, good enough for 4th place female. The race didn't do official age group placings, but the three women who were faster than me were under 30 so I'll give myself an unofficial 1st place age group :) It's also an 11 minute PR, making it all the more frustrating that the course was short. Still, it's a huge confidence booster. I have another half coming up in January, and I'm going to aim for the same time. Assuming I'm running on a correct course, I'll have to run even faster still, but I think I can do it with two months more training.