The Oddest Taper

It’s almost Friday!!  And I’m on vacation!  :P

But let’s back up.  Even before the reality of a trail 25K kicked my ass, I knew I may have to adjust some things this week.   I figured if I was feeling extra achy and sore after Sunday, I would push Tuesday’s run to Wednesday and Thursday’s to Friday since I took a few days off for Surf City.  Ummm, what was I thinking running a 25K and a half 7 days apart?

13.1 It Takes a Special Kind of Idiot... I think I should start training for a half marathon :)

7 days later, ouch source

I was a little achy but headed to the gym on Tuesday per usual.  I ran super slow but I was just fine with that.  3.5 miles later, I stretched and called it a day.  Even though my pace was slow, I unintentionally pulled off the perceived effort progression that was on tap per my training plan.  Calling that a win!  Oh and my gym now has those scary stair things, it was interesting watching people on them.  But much better than the freaky cut-the-alien-out-of-the-stomach sci fi movie on in front me.  Blech, I love sci fi but not creature flicks.

Going Tuesday worked out well as I was so tired on Wednesday I overslept that morning.  Then I fell asleep in the comfy chair trying to watch Supernatural that night.  How I didn’t knock the laptop off my lap, I have no idea.   I had planned on running today per usual but my stomach was rebelling pretty badly so I went back to the Friday plan.  Well hopefully.  :)  I kind of need to pack at some point too.

I got this... right?

I got this… right?

I took a few days off around Surf City because I figured these 8-9 days were going make me pretty tired.  However when I planned that I didn’t realize that was also my window to complete reviews at work.  So I spent most of this week trying to kick those out.  Or at least to a point where I only have to make some minor edits when I return.   Writing reviews stress me out, maybe that’s contributing to my tiredness.   I am so turning off the alarm tomorrow morning.

Wednesday was also my re-check with my gastro.  He’s at a loss, so we’re changing my medication.  This kind of freaks me out, I’ve been taking it for 12 years, what’s going to happen?  He actually warned me that I could have a rough couple of days when I make the change, so we agreed that I could do that Monday after the race.  Plus I have those days off so yay?    Way less exciting than the original plan to go to Disneyland on Monday.  But you know, measles.

Ever use those scary stair machines?  I am not even sure I could even get on one without falling.

Would you chance the measles?

Anyone racing this weekend or having a Super Bowl party?

Who cried at the Budweiser commercial?

Spooners Cove 25K- Race Recap

First race of the year, first 25K, first recap of the year!   And it was a doozy.  I tend to get long-winded in recaps so let’s see if I can condense this somewhat.  And feel free to shake your head and grumble/ yell while you read.

Thursday- Checked the race website late that night and discovered a course change.  They had offered a 5 mile, 7 mile, 25K and a 50k.  Now the 7 mile was an 8 mile and the 25K course had changed.  Previously the description said that the course was out the Bluff trail up and down Valencia Peak, back to start and then up to the grassy summit of Hazard Peak and back.   Now, it stated that the course was up Hazard Peak, down the backside to a farther point before turning around.  Waah.    Truthfully, I had been trying to talk my mom out of doing the 25K for the last two weeks- all the way up to start time.prerace

Race morning dawned bright and sunny.  It was 65º at the start with not a cloud in the sky nor fog-in January.  See where this may be going?  There were a few pre-race announcements and we were off!IMG_8810

Miles 1-3 —-14:02, 14:02, 15:52

Ok, not too bad, we’re doing good.  Damn, mom walks fast, I can’t keep pace, but when I jog I out pace her.  Tricky, tricky.  Mile 3 starts the climb.IMG_8824

Mile 4-5—- 18:34, 26:48 

Hello Valencia.  I start outpacing my mom, her knee was sore but it was manageable.    I stopped and waited for her at times on the way up.  Disclaimer- she told me to do that- shouldn’t have done that.    The thing about Valencia is that it is deceptively tall, you think you’re near the top, but it takes so long.  Plus the shale makes footing sketchy.  But we made it- first climb done.IMG_8849

Mile 6-8 —- 22:14, 15:27, 15:38

Again, shale made the first part of the downhill sketchy but we turned to a different trail down.  Hard pack, much better.   Picked up the pace as we made our way down to the start line and only aid station.  Those continuing on for the 25K and 50K went down some funky stairs behind the finish line before going through the parking lot up another set of funky stairs to another trail.  Let’s call them the stairs of death.    Man-made, uneven, random heights and absolute hell for someone with a sore knee.  Can you guess what’s coming?IMG_8842

Mile 9-11 —- 20:53, 22:41, 25:37

Heading up Hazard in full sun, the temp had climbed to above 70º.   My mom was in pain and slowing down.    I was trying to not get too far ahead of her but sometimes I did and would double back.    She started cramping at mile 10 but refused to quit.  She had been drinking water and had eaten her fruit snacks but it was hot out there.   We stopped and I made her drink more and gave her the pretzels that I had in my pack for the salt.  I also took her pack at this point.   We continued up pausing for all the runners coming back down and mountain bikers and horses.    Once at the top of Hazard, I tried to get her to quit again.    I also thought it was only .5 mile to the turn around. Ha!!  Closer to a mile.   A nice runner offered my mom a gel but we didn’t think it would help.  I had become a water dictator and was telling my mom to drink every 2-3 minutes.   I also noticed that my Garmin was off… by a lot.IMG_8882

Mile 12-14 —- 23:12, 23:35, 20:04

It was hot, she was cramping but refused to quit.  I ate it on the shale but managed to pull some cool shale surfing move and stayed mostly upright.  At least it felt cool, not sure what it actually looked like.    At this point a woman passed us on her way back and says-“Oh, I thought I was last”.  Umm, not cool.   Particularly when there were 2 people behind us.   On the way to the turn around, I pulled out my phone and noticed numerous texts from the Pops.  Crap.  I tried calling but lost signal.  A nice runner man had given my mother 2 salt tabs at that point.  They didn’t stop the cramps but probably kept them from getting worse.  My phone rang when I was almost back to the top of Hazard- Pops!.  My mom was a little behind me.   He asked where we were (mile 13) and I predicted it would be another hour at least.  He asked about our water- I said she still had a bottle and I had given her my Gatorade.  What I didn’t tell either of them was that I was completely out by then and we had 3+ miles to go.   I felt fine but knew it was getting warmer and that was still a fair amount of distance to go.  I popped a piece of gum so I could trick myself.    :)  I had started the day with 3x the amount of water I usually take for a half marathon.

The hideous I'm out of water face

The hideous I’m out of water face

Miles 15-16.2 —-18:12, 17:56, 3:17

We kept plugging along.  I stilled yelled drink every few minutes and we paused when she had a cramp.  She now says she will never tell a tennis player to play through the pain again.   Just before mile 15, I looked ahead on the trail as it had widened out and saw something awesome.  Pops!!!  I literally threw my hands in the air and yelled this.   He’d come to see the finish but brought supplies because he’s awesome like that and had started hiking our way when we had talked on the phone.  He had his camelbak and 2 20oz bottles of water.   He’s the best.  I took a bottle and we trekked on.   .3 miles from the finish line, the only 25K person who was still behind us ran past.  Boo.  Once again we ended with the damn stairs before crossing the parking lot to the finish line.elevation

Finish — 5:18:10

Once crossing, a volunteer saw me first and asked if I wanted a soda or water.  I said my mom needs water, she grabbed a bottle and ran to my mom.   We made her drink that and brought her some watermelon as well.   She was glad she finished but she was hurting.     After water and some stretching I realized that we should have seen Pops by now.  So I left her at a picnic table with the packs and water and went to find my pops and get the car so she didn’t have to walk back up to where we parked.   I found pops waiting in his truck, he said he’d already walked more than planned and was not going down to the cove.   We chatted for a bit and I went to move my car to go pick up my mom so we could all go to lunch.medal

I was stuck.   I tried to back up and just spun my tires.  Seriously?!   My poor car.  I was near my pop’s truck, so I opened my door and yelled for my daddy.    There was group of high school boys out hiking that day and 2 of them came over to help too.   I finally got loose and headed back to the cove.  By now my mother was walking up because she was wondering where the heck I was.  So with all the drama, we have no finish line pictures. Boo.

But we finished!  Should we have?   Probably not.    She agrees that next time she will stick to the 8 mile.   If this race had been last November like usual, I think she could have rocked it.  It wouldn’t have been so warm and she wasn’t hurt yet.

I am not sure why my Garmin was almost a mile longer.   I know I walked balk to her a few times but even she agrees it wasn’t enough to get anywhere near a mile.     I am not sure if anyone else had a similar issue as we were the last 25k finishers and didn’t do a lot of chatting after.    The race was very explicit about the fact that they only had the one aid station and that you needed to carry your own water in between but I think with the temperature being so freakishly high they should have put some water bottles up by the turn around.   Just after we left my pops on the trail, a volunteer with a full camelbak was heading up.  His plan was to be a roving water station, but by then everyone was 5 hours in.    Looking at the finishing times, one 50K’er took the full 9 hours.  It hit over 80 that day.   Which is great for a day at the beach not so much for an ultra marathon.

Giant shout outs to everyone who helped that day- the girl who offered the gel, the man who shared his salt tabs, the awesome volunteer at the end who helped my mom.   I am horrible and didn’t get names but they were all awesome!   And I met another SLO ambassador at the top of Valencia- Hi Jason!   And to my awesome pops, he saved the day,

Damn, that was still epically long.  Sorry!

No questions today, just share your thoughts!

Random Roller Coaster

Man, this week flew by!  How do I have a 25k in 8 hours?  Yikes!

Even though my shiny new plan came on Sunday and I was eager to start it, I also had to rearrange the days.  In the first week!!  But Monday was scheduled as a rest day and I just couldn’t waste a day off of work to run outside.  So Tuesday’s easy 50 minutes were completed on Monday.   That worked out better than the gym after on Tuesday anyways- work ran late like it tends to after a 3 day weekend.  IMG_8769I thought about running on Wednesday after work instead of Thursday but the day just ran away from me.  Or rather, my brain did.   Every quarter work gives out an award that goes to a few individuals.   The people are nominated by their peers and then voted on by a committee.  It was something new that rolled out at the beginning of 2014 and is kind of a big deal.  The executives deliver the award in person and then a story and picture go up online.  Every person who earns the award then has a chance to earn/win the Presidents’ Award for the year.    I knew they were coming out to our location because a coworker had received one.    I had to be sneaky when I was scheduling the lunches because I wanted everyone to be there to see him get it.  They arrived on time and surprise!!  I received one too! Two of us!  Holy crap!  My brain left the building for the rest of the day, I was so excited.IMG_8778Ever since I was sick, I have not been sleeping well.  I have had coughing fits every night and it makes it hard to sleep.  According to my lovely Fitbit I have been averaging 5 hours a night.  Ouch.  After a few coughing attacks at work on Thursday, I decided that an extra rest day would be a good idea and skipped the gym.    Boo!

Friday was average as Fridays go and I allowed myself to indulge in one cookie at work.   The shocking thing came that night when I went to sleep-IMG_878910 hours?  WTH?  I knew I was tired but come on!   I’ve also noticed that when I sleep with the Fitbit in my sock, it doesn’t measure restlessness very well.  Either that or I was unconscious.   You’d think that with all that sleep I would be raring to go today.  Not so.  After running my usual Saturday errands I came home with the intention of running sooner than usual.  Instead I took a nap.   Seriously?  Once I woke up I headed out for an easy 45 minutes.   It was not.  The whole 4.5 miles felt so hard.   I took plenty of walk breaks.  IMG_8804Which now leads me to being less than 12 hours from a 25K.  Commence the freak out.  Even knowing that I am predominately hiking it, I am freaking out.     What was I thinking?  Maybe I should just go to bed.

How was your week?

Ever been surprised (in a good way) at work?

Who raced today?  Anyone racing tomorrow?

A (real) Plan for the Slacker?

I’ve mentioned before that I have serious problems sticking to training plans I’ve found online or in books,etc.   They’re all a little too cookie cutter and it’s very rare to find one that has rest days on Fridays.  And with my pace being all over the place these days, the pace based plans just make me sad.    Then there’s the Slacker in me that just has a knee jerk reaction to being “told” to run.   Which is why I created my own plan back in November in my almost free student planner.  Which I still kind of love by the way.   :)  FullSizeRender

Personalized plans are available from a variety of websites but have you seen the cost?  Now if I could promise myself that I would follow it and not rebel like a clueless 4-year-old, the cost wouldn’t be that much.    I’ve just never trusted myself to follow through.    So I had my plan for the next few months and I was good.  Then I got an email.  The SLO Marathon partnered with McMillan Running for course specific plans.   A limited number of free training plans were offered to the ambassadors.  A personalized plan, just for you.   The length of your choosing, designed for you.  For free.  Free?  Seriously?!

I was so torn!  I mean that is an awesome offer.  I use their pace calculator all the time and they have articles and videos filled with training advice.  With a limited number of spots, I had to think quickly.  I liked my plan but also knew that I will likely need a little (or a lot) of guidance to break 2:00 at SLO.   But would a plan stress me out?  Also with the 25K this weekend and Surf City next weekend, I didn’t really have the time for a 12 week plan.   After all most plans don’t have a 13.1 mile race the first week.  :)   I checked out the website and saw that they offered an 8 week plan.  Hang on, that’s doable.   I would have a little time to rest after Surf City and surely I could stick to a plan for 8 weeks right?  I finally decided it was too good of an offer to miss out on and jumped on it.

I received the questionnaire email about a week later.    Mother of Toledo, it was 6 pages long.  It asked my goals, my running habits, my usual schedule.  It asked for my best times ever as well as just the best times from the last 12 months.  It asked what I wanted out of running after accomplishing my goal and how many miles a week would burn me out. Etc, Etc.   There was also a question about any races I may want to run before my goal race.  I answered all of the questions as truthfully as I could.  I do admit that I left out the 25K part.   For some reason I was scared to put that in.  :)  There was also a section that asked about any planned trips or events that would require schedule changes.    I may not have any planned trips but I put Fridays in that section.  Fridays usually end up being a longer (open to close) day plus my commute each way on top of that.   That combined with the fact that Fridays are usually busier and I take Friday as a rest day 99.9% of the time.   I wanted that to reflect in my plan so I made sure to specify that.   I submitted my answers and was told it would be 1-2 weeks before I heard back.  Even knowing that, I stalked my email everyday.  It came on Sunday night.

Woo hoo!  Included in the email was their half marathon race guide, their training philosophies, as well as a nutrition guide.  Ok, cool but what about the plan?  I opened the excel file with trepidation… and then blinked.  Wait, what?  I paid more attention to the dates and workout before going back and reading the comments, if I had done it in order, I would have been less confused.  :)

Fallon, thanks for choosing McMillan Running to help you train optimally for your upcoming goal race. As you head into your San Luis Obispo Half Marathon training program, remember that recovery between key workouts is the key. If you simply perform the workouts and get to the race healthy, you give yourself the best chance at success. Consistent, smart training will produce the best results. Run hard, but run smart. Listen to your body to know when to push and when to rest. For each workout in your plan, there is a corresponding training pace listed in the McMillan Running Calculator ( I know you requested 8 weeks of training, but I wanted to give you a full 14 weeks so that you will have some guidelines over the next few weeks to help you transition into half-marathon specific training in the final 2 months before SLO.

14 weeks?  That’s a long time but the more I read it, the more I felt like it was doable.  Most of the runs are time based as opposed to distance based.   I’ve been transitioning to that since December so seeing that built into the plan was kind of awesome.   Specific speed work drills are built in, no paces but guidelines that I can follow and actually accomplish (fingers crossed).  Surf City 13.1 and Wine Country 13.1 are built into the plan as long training runs.   The weeks following those are built as recovery weeks. snapshotHmmm, I think I can do this.  I was actually super excited to start. Now, if only I was feeling 100%!  I am still coughing up a storm at night so I thought it would be smarter to only run 3x this week.  Boo!

Ever follow a McMillan plan? Or use their pace calculator?

Think I can stick to a plan?  Or will I slack off?

Who’s racing this weekend?

Sunday Summit- A Little Lost


After 11 days off (stupid flu!!!) I finally got out there and did something!  I also made it to work on Thursday and Friday.   Wowza, Thursday was rough, I was exhausted.  No lie, I got through the day with a lot of Diet Coke.  But anyways, on to Sunday.IMG_8590

With the 25k 7 days away, eek, Sunday was my last day to get in a trail run/hike.   Plus I needed to test run my race day gear.  Because of the narrowness on the trails and the chance for ticks, I am wearing clothing that is a little more form-fitting than usual.   I also had a new hydration vest I needed to test.  The first one didn’t work out so well.    It didn’t fit right with water in the bladder and just didn’t feel like it was made well.  I replaced it with a new one a few weeks back but hadn’t been able to test it yet.  This one doesn’t have a bladder but has 2 water bottles in the front.  I stashed snacks in the back pocket and filled the bottles.   Success!  Well, except I haven’t figured out how to easily access my phone.  But I’ll work on that.  :)IMG_8603

With me being sick and my mom being slightly hurt, we have readjusted our general time goal for the 25K.  Sunday, the plan was to head out to the race course and hike part of the last out and back.  According to the course map, that section is 8.4 miles.   We had troubles finding the right trail head but we were near another one that my mom had hiked before and really wanted to again.  The sign said it was 3 miles and it looked to be all fire road.   Fine by me, 6 easy miles was probably all I was up for anyways.IMG_8621 IMG_8626

It was freakishly warm!  High 70’s and I was burning up!   Being a fire road, the trail was easy but I was still coughing a bit.   The trail ends near a worn down, beat up, old barn.  It was equal parts creepy and cool.    So of course we had to take a few pictures right?  IMG_8634When we headed back, we passed a tiny, almost hidden single track trail head.  My mother insisted she had hiked it before so we should do it too.  Holy mother of incline.   We gained 700 ft over the next 1/2 mile.    Once we finally made it to the top, we found a picnic table.  We took a break and ate a few snacks.   And enjoyed the view.  :)   We headed back down another way, hoping it was shorter way back.  Ha!IMG_8639 IMG_8666

Since we weren’t positive what mountain we were on, I pulled up a park map on my phone.   It didn’t really help.  Or maybe I just don’t know how to read it.  Eventually we found our way down to a trail intersection.  According to the map, the right trail led to a dead-end and the left trail was the backside of Hazard peak.    We went left which meant we then had another climb in front of us.     My mom’s knee was just starting to hurt and we coming up on 6 miles and we weren’t even at the top of the mountain.   Our pace had slowed but we mad it to the top once again and enjoyed more views.  There were some mountain bikers at the top discussing trails and I overheard one say that the trail we had not chosen led to another fire road.  Really?!  That would have been so much easier!  Where were they when we could have used directions?IMG_8645 IMG_8670Then it was time to head back towards the parking lot, down the front side of Hazard Peak.  So at least we were able to check out the race course from that direction.  Down hill it’s not too bad, but I am wondering what the uphill will feel like after 8 miles.   Guess I’ll find out next weekend!  We finally made it back to the parking lot- 9.65 miles later.   We survived, haha!  IMG_8701 IMG_8703Even with getting a little turned around, going farther than planned,and getting a little sunburned, it was a good hike.  I don’t think I would have hiked that far without getting turned around but some coughing attacks aside, it was great to get outside and do something again.    Plus it was a good practice run for next weekend.  It gave us a general idea of what kind of time to expect.  Sunday’s hike was just that a hike and we covered 9.65 miles with 1400 ft gained and maintained a 17:00 pace.  Next week the race will add some speed on the downhills but a little slowness when we climb Valencia Peak, but that’s only 1.5 towards the beginning, so fingers crossed?IMG_8734 IMG_8746Sunday’s route took us from fire road to single track, packed dirt to loose shale and then loose sand.   The surroundings changed from scrub brush to trees then to a Eucalyptus grove.   The sun was shining and sometimes we could hear the ocean.  I’d call it a pretty good day!

How was your weekend?

Ever got lost in the woods?  (yes, I wasn’t in the woods but still)  :)