Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas-Time Runs in Cambria

Everytime we visit Ed's mom, we question why we would ever want to leave California. Is it any wonder?

I went on two blissful runs while I was here, one a 3 miler, and one a 5 miler. The views (plus my new Garmin 110) motivated me to run some of my fastest times yet, with sub 10 min/mile pace averages for both, and a blisteringly fast (for me) 8:56 last mile of my 5 miler today. 

There is little that can beat running in high 60s weather, with a cool ocean breeze blowing off the surf, the sounds of waves crashing below and every care in the world blowing away. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Weekly Running in Review

During this lovely holiday week, I had a lot of running to do. 

 Already tired from the last two weeks of running, I knew it would feel a bit tough to get in this "big week mileage," before I get a rest week, next week. 

While my legs can certainly attest to being tired, I'm really happy with all my mileage. I had a great 6 mile run with a friend on Wedneday, which made the miles fly by (and gave me a "bonus mile" since I was only supposed to do 5), and Ed ran my 10 miler with me while we were in Orange County. We left early enough to catch the cool weather, and we were able to keep a good pace, 10:47 average, with a 9:33 final mile.

 To say the 3 miler on Christmas was hard would be an understatement, but Ed kept me going. And, that got me 101 miles between Thanksgiving and Christmas (not sure if this 'counts' exactly, since it includes the run on Thanksgiving and Christmas, but I'm still proud, since this is significantly more mileage than I've run in a long time). 

I'm still on the fence about this week's long run - it's supposed to be a recovery week of only 7 miles, but the idea of running a half marathon on New Year's Eve sounds appealing (or it did before all the mileage this week :P). 

In any event, I'm happy to be going into 2012 as a runner!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Weekly Running in Review

This week marks the 4th consecutive week of running, as I get into full swing of my training. I've been feeling really great, especially with my 9 miler yesterday, where I had a 10:32 average pace, and a last mile of 9:42! This is speedy for me, so I'm thrilled. I was also proud to have gone for a run between my staff meeting and a parent night meeting on Wednesday, even though my coworkers thought that I was a little crazy. It really helped to break up the evening, and was a wonderful stress reliever.

Coming up, I get to look forward to a 5 miler on Wednesday and a 10 miler down in Orange County on Christmas Eve.

It's fun to be a runner again!

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Running Amidst Chaos

Okay, so maybe chaos isn't a fair assessment of the past week, but it did, in moments, feel chaotic to be attempting everything in my week that happened. I had a 2+ hour planning meeting, a full day training, a presentation to my collegues (teaching them something - why is it always scarier to teach adults than children?), a 2 hour curriculum meeting, and was observed twice on Friday - in the morning to receive coaching for my Language Arts program, and in the afternoon to be filmed for a research project.

All of this (particularly the staff presentation and the science filming) left me with knots in my stomach and countless hours prepping. If this week had fallen even a month before, I would have used it as an excuse to have a few more glasses of wine, and to take the week off of running. However, as this was week two of my training, I had to fit in my runs. Instead of an unhealthy week, I was able to get stress relief in a fun and healthy way and rack up 23 miles this week (including 7 milers on both Saturday and Sunday).

I'm excited about this month's training, and am considering signing up for a half marathon on the 31st to celebrate New Year's Eve :)

Everything went pretty well, and I'm looking foward to a hopefully calmer week.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

San Jose Half Marathon

Last weekend I had the very good fortune to run my second half marathon in as many months. My friend Jenny convinced me to sign up as she, her husband, and friend all run this one together. I appreciated having a new training goal, which kept me motivated to maintain my fitness from the SF Marathon, and, before I knew it, race weekend was upon me. 

Now, when I was younger (read five years ago), I was very  nervous before the starts of races. I would collect race reports of the event months in advance, study the course, the whole nine yards. Now, in my defense, at that point I ran events that were almost exclusively marathon distance or longer and I would say they warrented some extra prep. However, in contrast, I've felt like the races I've done lately have certainly been approached with less thought than I feel like they necessarily deserve. 

Which is why, until the day before, I had no idea exactly where the race began, no idea what time it started, and no idea where the race went. I had vague recollections of completing the race 5 years prior, and figured I'd just go off of that for the most part. 

Ed and I headed to the expo on Saturday morning after catching a soccer game that a few of my students played in (wow, watching soccer is fun! I so hope when we have kids they play soccer. Of course, I seemed to be doing more cheering than the real parents were - not sure if that's a good thing!). On our way to downtown San Jose, both Ed and I realized that we hadn't really checked on the expo location. Good thing it hasn't changed in 5 years. 

By happenstance, our friends Bill and Jenny were also picking up their bibs at the same time, so we were able to meet up in the expo and then went out to a pre-race lunch together. It seemed like we all had a pretty laid back feeling about the race. 

That night, Ed fixed me a delicious pre-race meal - spaghetti bolognese with plenty of parmesean, and a very good bottle of beer to help me relax :). 

It was perfect, and I went to bed ready to run the next morning. I met up with our group a bit after 7 (traffic was apparently pretty bad for them). I decided to sneak into their much faster corral and try to stick with them during the race - a decision that I was glad I ended up making! 

After the traditional anthem, the gun fired and we were off. From the get go, we were really running, hitting a 10:30 pace, which worried me a little. After all, my best runs had me going an 11:12 pace, and that was when I felt fast! Luckily, after the first two miles, we settled into a somewhat more managable pace for me as we ran through the streets. 

Having never done a road race with friends before this year, I found it a lot of fun to have constant chatter to keep me company. Bill was full of energy, after taking a "Rocktane" gu (caffeine), and was literally zigzagging across the course, rocking out to the bands. 

At mile 4, I had a very welcome sight - Ed on the sidelines! I ran over to the side, got a kiss, and then jumped back in the race. 

Bill commented on how huge my smile was after I saw Ed. What can I say, I'm a girl very much in love. 

With that great boost, I was feeling pretty good, though I was still slightly worried about the wheels coming off of my run. I mentally prepared myself for having to ditch my group and slow down, but figure I'd wait until I absolutely had to. 

A little while later, we got to a stretch where you could see the other runners heading back the other direction, and we saw Bill's "twin" Meb - the record holder and eventual winner of the race. We also got to see Deena Kastor fly by. Seeing such amazing athletes added some energy to our steps. 

About 6 miles in, I had the funny surprise of running into Elise, a friend from my SF training group. We had done some of our training runs together, as we run a pretty similar pace. We stayed pretty close for a lot of the rest of the run and had fun chatting a bit. She's also signed up for the Oakland Marathon, so we might do some training runs together. 

By the time we got to mile 10, I was definitely feeling it, as was Bill. Amy and Jenny seemed stronger, and started pushing the pace a bit, and I struggled to hang on. At one point, around 12, they really picked it up, and I knew I couldn't hang onto that pace. Luckily, they slowed down enough. Still, our last miles were fast. From Mile 6 onward, they were all sub 11, excepting one that had a bathroom stop, and our last mile was a 9:33!

As we headed into the final stretch, we all kicked it into high gear, and I felt very happy to be running with such a strong group that pushed me so much. I felt a little woosy as I tried to hold onto the pace and, finally, we all crossed the finish line. 

While out of breath, we all felt great having completed this very fun race. Using a random nice person's phone, we were able to help Ed find us. We ended up being so much faster than I told him, he missed the finish, but seeing him at mile 4 was so great, I didn't mind. 

My next race planned race is the Oakland Marathon. We'll see if these legs have that distance still in them!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Rainy Day Santa Cruz Run

About a month ago, Ed and I decided it would be fun to head over to Santa Cruz for a run. I needed to complete a 12 miler, so it seemed natural to do the 12 mile route I used to run all the time when I lived over the hill. 

We left the warm sunshine of San Jose (which had been a bit oppressive of late) and headed over the hill. 

When we arrived, we were greeted with this:

Now, as I sat in the car, looking at the drizzle going on outside, I wondered why we had decided that running here was better than San Jose. It looked cold outside, and I hadn't brought a jacket. To be honest, I slightly considered begging Ed to just drive us home, but knew that was incredibly silly. I used to love rainy runs!

So, off we went. I was cold for the first half mile, but once I got warmed up, I knew that the weather was perfect. It was a beautiful run, with crashing waves, 

bluff trails, and even a brief stop to check out a huge slab of rock off the bluffs that were full of sea lions. The miles flew by and before we knew it, we were back to the start, 12.58 miles later. 

It was one of my fastest paced long runs in years and it felt great. 

So, I know that next time I see rainy skies, my inclination shouldn't be to go back to bed, it should be to get outside and run. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

San Francisco Half Marathon

With a plan to meet up with people at 4:30 so that we could caravan up together, the wake up time was early. Like, setting the alarm to a number that began with a 3 type early. 

Like a good runner, I laid out all of my necessities the night before, so that even bleary eyed, I wouldn't forget anything .

Everything went smoothly, with my friend picking me up around 4:15 and meeting up with two other cars of people about 4:30 (4:45?) at an Andronicos in the Sunnyvale area. We all squeezed into two cars and before we knew it, we were driving around the streets of San Francisco, with an increasing number of brightly colored individuals in somewhat skimpy clothing walking on the sidewalks (yes, I am referring to runners here, not some of the other colorful life that you might see, though come to think of it, seeing people in skimpy brightly colored outfits is not abnormal in the dark hours of a weekend in SF). 

We finally found the parking lot and immediately went in search of the bathrooms that were described to us as the best to use. Unfortunately, they were closed, so our 10 minute search and journey up and down 3 flights of stairs was perhaps not the best use of our time. 

Out of luck, we headed to the start as night turned to dawn. 

We got to our "VIP" tent, with the promise of food, coffee and private porta potties making us feel very special. Of course, 2 porta potties for 200+ trainers = not such a good deal. 

Luckily, Dana and I (and the rest of our group) were in the last wave, so we had just enough time to make it through the lines and get going. 

Our group's plan was to walk every 1/2 mile, plus the uphills. Knowing that we'd be going a pretty easy pace for me, I decided to make an addition to that plan. Every time we'd walk, I'd pull to the side, take some pictures, and then catch up with the group. This race was all about completing the distance and being with a friend, so I wasn't in a hurry. This way I could get some non blurry pictures, too!

The first few miles went along the ferry buildings, and went quickly. 

Soon, a delicious smell began wafting through the air. I knew it could be only one thing - Boudin Bakery. If only they had a sourdough aid station...

Of course, a chocolate aid station would have been pretty nice too!

At this point, the race course also began overlapping the course I used to run when I was in college, which was special in its own right. This also brought us to our first hill. 

Luckily, the hill equaled a very nice view. 

After cresting the hill, we got both a downhill and mile 3. 

This was probably one of my favorite views, and the flat Crissy field running was nice as well. 

Next up was the climb up the bridge, where we enjoyed taking it easy as we headed up. 

Climbing uphill, though, meant more nice views. We got lucky with the weather, and had a nice cool SF morning for our run. 

Finally, the bridge was well within reach.

While I've run over the bridge many times, I've never gotten to do it on the actual street. 

Verdict? While pretty cool, I think I actually like the sidewalk better - you can't see much of the view off the bridge from the street. 

Once we got to the other side, we got to enjoy the city views as well as a water/gu stop.

And then, we were headed back over to the other side.

Once we got off the bridge, we had a bit more uphill (which none of us actually remembered), 

before getting to coast down to Golden Gate park. 

This was where I ended up leaving behind most of my running group. It was about mile 10, I was feeling strong, and I honestly was ready to run more my pace - especially with a mile of downhill in my future. 

So, with a few others from the group, I pushed ahead, enjoying coasting downward and picking up some speed. 

In not too long, we reached the city streets and some more uphill. At around mile 12, the others I was running with were ready to walk. Me? Not so much. So, I said goodbye and pushed forward, ready to finish this race. 

While the trip through the park seemed a bit longer than I had expected, but finally, I saw the finish line and pushed through, for a grand total of 2:44 (the exact pace I had run in my first marathon).

Over the next 15 minutes, I got to see the rest of the running group come through, including my friend, Dana who also had a great run.

While we were warm from the run, the cool SF air made us happy to have the heat blankets, especially once we got in line to wait for the buses back to the start. 

Unfortunately, while the buses sounded great in theory, the long lines and some other issues meant that it was about 45 minutes until we got on a bus. I was mostly worried about poor Ed, waiting at the start for me, who had probably finished his race long before. But, there was nothing I could do, so I decided not to worry, and just bask in the happiness of a finished race.

As soon as we got off the bus, I rushed to look for Ed and soon found him. Predictably, he had been worried about me since I had shown up so late, but once he knew I was fine, he was happy to see me. He'd had a great race as well and we enjoyed sharing stories as we headed back to the car to head home. 

This was a great first race back, and is a great starting point for this new phase of running for me. Next race is the San Jose Half Marathon in just two weeks - hopefully it will be equally (or even more so) fun!