16 weeks into the year already? How did that happen? I am not prepared for it to be halfway through April. I feel like the past few weeks are nothing but a blur. There has been running, eating, some mindless tv watching and some staring into space. I haven’t been sleeping well, I think the bags under my eyes are permanent features now. Enough whining, let’s get to the running!
Monday- Rest Ha! 2 days post Firehouse and I was walking a little crooked. I thought I was hiding it well but the first thing an employee said to me was “are you limping?’. Just call me gimpy. Getting up onto my chair and then down was definitely amusing. But in shiny news- Meet Mel!
The week before was actually my 9 year anniversary at work and they (my boss) got me a new fish!
Tuesday- 3 miles After work I headed to the lake path to take things nice and easy. The first mile was rough but miles 2 and 3 felt pretty decent. I kept it short on purpose and I wish that was all I had to say about Tuesday but it’s not. Next post will cover the excitement though.
Wednesday- 4.59ish miles I was running with NikeC and somehow I accidentally paused my Garmin .25 miles in. I didn’t figure it out until we hit the turn around point 2ish miles later. Waah!!! No! I may not be focusing on my pace these days (yet) but I am paying close attention to my mileage totals as I am trying to do this whole marathon training thing smartly. Luckily, she has the Runkeeper app on her phone. Other than the technical issue, it was a good run. My calves were a little achy but I expected that going in. I am really starting to like running with friends.
Thursday/ Friday- Rest Both of these days are a huge blur truthfully. I worked and ate cookies. More on that below.
Saturday- 13 miles- 11:16 pace Going into this weekend, I knew I was overly tired, stressed and emotional. I had originally planned for a 14 mile long run and a 6 mile easy run. By Friday evening, I had decided that anything I did was more than fine even if I chose to do nothing at all. That said, I headed out to attempt a long run early Saturday morning. 8:30 is early to me.
I was a little stiff the first few miles but soon loosened up. Per usual, crossing the bridge was my fastest mile-9:48. Slightly slower though as I had to detour through the Albertson’s parking lot due to road construction. Miles 6, 8 and 11 were real struggles. My pace dropped into the high 11 minute range. I wasn’t 100% present. By mile 8, I had also confirmed that my Nike’s are not long run shoes. 11 miles in and I was adjusting my stride because it felt like my entire right arch was turning into one huge blister. Part of me wanted to stop and check but I was also afraid to. My stomach cramped really badly in mile 12 and I walked most of it. I recovered for mile 13 but I was thankful I had called for a pick up. 13 was way farther than I thought I was going to get in. And my arch? Completely fine. I don’t get it, I felt like my skin was on fire.
Sunday- 4.2 miles This was intended to be a run/walk with my mom. It was a very warm day and we headed out in the afternoon so I knew it was going to be slower. And it really was- in fact I only ran about 1/4 of a mile. My left knee felt off and my left groin? area felt tight. I decided walking was just fine. I was outside, my legs were moving and I could use it to help me get used to the warmer weather.
All in all, not a bad running week. I actually got in more miles than I thought I would. I am going to call that a win for the week.
Life- Sometimes real life rears its head. I admit that I don’t deal well when that happens. My family has been dealing with some bad news, but part of that was waiting for the inevitable, final bad news. The last few weeks have all blurred, I got all clenched up every time I saw my cell phone ring. That call came Friday. I’m still not processing well. I don’t know when I will.
That’s not really how I wanted to end this post but I seem to have written my way into a corner. At least for now.
Upcoming Races- Wine Country 13.1??
SLO Marathon 13.1
Focus– Keep it slow and steady but solid.
The lament of runners all over- Easy is hard! Grr. I’ve been thinking a lot about pace. It’s part of that insecurities post I’ve been sitting on for a while. But in short, I’ve been thinking about how I ran better when I didn’t care about my pace as much. 98% of my runs were also “easy” runs. So, I’ve been revisiting 80/20. I bought it about a year ago but really just skimmed it. With my lungs being what they are lately, I figured this would be a good time to read it again. Plus, running slower is fun when it’s the plan. 😀 But still hard.
Monday- Rest I really love Monday rest days. I really do.
Tuesday- Rest I usually run on Tuesdays and that was the plan. Work was insane that afternoon and ran late. By the time I would have changed and gotten out the door I would have only had time for about a mile before the sunset. I took it as a sign that I should just head home and get to the pharmacy for my new medications before it closed. Since I’m still only running 3x a week right now, I figured I had plenty of time to make up my run. Plus I was able to take part in my first Twitter chat. Damn that moves fast!
Wednesday- Rest Spanish tutoring. Or I tried. My mother volunteered me to help one of her tennis players. Except that the days of me being fluent have long since lapsed. Conjugating my verbs is not something I do anymore. But I tried…and since we met at the pizza place, I still had my Wednesday pizza night.
Thursday- 3.91 miles I headed out after work for a few miles. El Nino has been threatening to drop some heavy storms in the area so I knew the humidity level was up. A heavy marine layer was rolling in and I knew this run was going to be a struggle breathing-wise. It was but I just slowed down and tried to keep my breathing under control. It was rough but there was an amazing sunset so it all evens out right? I hit 3.9 miles at my car. I was going to run around the block to hit 4 miles but there was a crowd of cops outside the police station so I just called it. Running around the block a few times looks crazy to most people- what would the police think?
Friday – Rest day Something about this week kicked my ass. I was so tired by Friday and the scale pissed me off in the morning. I was waiting for closing time a little more eagerly than usual.
Saturday- Rest This was not the plan. My mom had been wanting to go shopping in SLO so we were going to head down in the AM and I was hoping to get in a few miles later in the day. It was also supposed to pour all day. SLO did happen but running did not. I felt super tired when I woke up but other than that ok. I didn’t realize anything was wrong until my first few words to my mom. I had no voice! I sounded like a squeaky frog! What the?! It continued to get worse throughout the day and I felt off. Like I couldn’t keep my body temp regulated. So I skipped my run. Boo. But I did indulge with some pretty kicks.
Sunday- 8 miles My training plan called for 10-12 miles but I wasn’t even going to try for that. I still had no voice but I felt ok, just tired. I decided to head to the lake path and attempt my long run. Lapping the lake meant I was never even a mile from my car so if I had to bail, I could. I also had my mom and S along for the ride; they were going to walk while I ran. This way I had backup if things went south. The weather was sunny and high 50’s but I wore pants and long sleeves just in case. I tried to keep things easy. I went back to my old method of running at the lake- ran all of the lap except the park. I walked through the park. That way every lap had a built in walk break and it was easier to avoid all the children playing. I felt tired and sore but not bad. I just kept moving. I told myself I would be happy with 6 miles. That put me on the backside of the lake so I figured why not finish out the lap? Then back at the parking lot I could see my mom and S on the backside but they seemed closer so I figured I would keep running until I caught op to them. Yeah, my eyesight must have been off. I didn’t catch up to them until 7.6 miles. Then I figured I may as well just run until I hit 8 miles. So I did. But there was nothing else left in me. Surprisingly though, the run was one of the steadiest paced runs in a long time. Go figure!
I don’t feel any worse right now but I don’t feel better either. Wine Country is 7 days away and I am on the fence about it. It’s one of my favorite races and this would be my 6th year running it. I will just have to see how I feel this week. Hopefully my voice comes back soon, I am tired of sounding like an angry Mickey Mouse. At least according to my mom and S.
Low-carb-– I did damn good last week, I really did. I was so proud of the myself. Then the scale pissed me off on Friday and I let it derail me this weekend. Time to start over on Monday- again.
So it wasn’t the best week but it could have been worse. Right?
Last post I shared that I was lucky enough to be offered the chance to be an Ambassador for the SLO Marathon again. Which is freakin’ awesome and I am looking forward to not only the race but all the awesome runners I get to see again. As with most ambassadorships, it comes with some challenges along the way. The first one was dropped last week- to share our resolutions/ goals for the 2016 race. Hmmm, there’s that word again.
I’ve spent some time thinking about it for the last week. How do I share a goal but stay true to my year of being goal free? Well, I am still goal free. That said, I feel like I have unfinished business with the SLO half. Let’s recap.
In 2014 I was looking forward to running a race that I had been trying to run for years but never made it happen. It was also my first ambassadorship so I was super stoked on that. I was excited on race morning but mentally I just wasn’t there. It wasn’t my fitness level, it wasn’t the hills; it was all in my head. Mentally, I blew up around mile 8. I finished the race in 2:10:32 which wasn’t bad but I felt like my legs had more in them, I just couldn’t stop the mind games. Not sure if you can tell by my smirk/smile but I was very irritated with myself post race.
I swear I was trying to smile not smirk
2015 rolled around and I was able to train with a custom McMillan training plan. The race fell in the middle of all my stomach issues so I knew breaking 2:00 was unlikely but I felt strong and ready to go. Even though I had felt sick prior to race start, I felt great for the first 5 miles. I was beginning to entertain thoughts of a new PR. Then I went down, hard. As clumsy as I am on a daily basis, I had never fallen while running before. There’s a first time for everything right? Thanks to some helpful runners I was back on my feet quickly and running on. Maybe it was a delayed reaction from the fall or just my stupid stomach but mile 7 started with my stomach cramping in a very bad way. I pretty much walked the entire mile taking deep, slow breathes. Mile 8 saw another first for me- a port a potty stop. Despite all that, I was still mentally on point. I had reassessed that a PR wasn’t going to happen but even with all that drama I knew I could still beat the previous year’s time. But my stomach fought back and miles 11-13 were all survival mode. I was also cursing that there are no porta-potties at mile 12. Cuz who needs one with only 1 mile left?! I crossed the finish line in 2:15:06 and I was damn proud of that. It may not have been the time I was hoping for but for everything that day threw at me, I stayed strong and positive the entire race.
Half smile/ half grimace
So while I have no plans of setting a goal for SLO 2016, I do see it as a redemption race. Both years I felt like I had more to give and I would like to see that happen this year. I love the course- hills and all- and I can’t wait to see what I can do this year. 🙂
What about you? Do you have a race that haunts you?
I ain’t even mad, bro.😀. Actually my new motto might be “just hang on”. But before we get into that, let’s talk about the expo real quick.
Saturday dawned rainy and windy. Those running the 5k ran in the rain. The rain had cleared by the time I arrived to pick up my packet and attend the ambassador meet and greet. Picking up my packet was super easy and I wandered around the expo before heading out to the meet. I was there less than 10 minutes before I spent money at the Lorna Jane booth. Oops, but since that was the only thing I bought, I think I showed restraint!
The meet up was outside and it was so damn windy, I thought we were going to blow away. It was nice catching up with the repeat ambassadors from last year and meeting the new ones. A few of them I had been trying to meet since the Ventura half. It was so windy and cold that after chatting, getting our shirts and taking some pics, we all scattered to do our own thing. I headed home to rest a bit and figure out food. I had been having a mental struggle all week, going back and forth between following my new diet rules or following conventional running wisdom. Spoiler- I chose wrong.
Sunday was supposed to dawn cold and windy, so I tried to prepare for that. I didn’t feel like I got enough sleep and my stomach was cranky but neither of those are new things on race morning so I didn’t pay too much attention. My mom was dropping me off so I didn’t have to catch the 4am bus to the start. I got to the start with 15 minutes to spare so I figured I would hit the port-a-potty line just to be sure. The lines were huge. By the time I got out of there, they had moved the corrals up to the start line, oops.
Miles 1-5- 9:25, 9:14, 9:20, 9:36, 8:31
The whistle blew and we were off- sort of. I ended up starting behind the 2:45 pacer. Rutro. My fault but the first mile and a half were spent bobbing and weaving. I dropped the 2:45, 2:30, and 2:15 pace groups when I decided I just needed to run my own race and not worry about catching the 2:00 pace group. In one way it was freeing not having to worry about keeping them in sight. It meant I had to pace myself and while I knew breaking 2:00 was unlikely, I was feeling strong and thought I could PR- sub 2:05.
We hit the first of the long hills and I still felt good going up. Last year at this time I was already sucking air and tiring out. Thanks to all the weaving I did at the start, my Garmin and the mile markers didn’t match so I just checked my total time at each of the course markers. I was feeling pretty good as we the flat section before turning up another long climb.
Miles 6-8- 9:36, 11:25, 9:29
About a 1/4 mile into 6, my stomach started to make itself known. I began to wonder if I was going to have an issue. But wasn’t even the biggest thing to happen that mile. Maybe it’s because I was focused intently on telling myself I was fine and not paying attention to much else, but the next thing I knew, I was airborne.
It’s still kind of blur but I remember hitting the ground and rolling. My water bottle ended up about 10 feet down the course. WTF?! About 5 different runners stopped their race to come help me. Some helped me up while one chased down my bottle. A bike medic was there in seconds. I was kind of in shock/ denial, so I honestly don’t remember if I thanked all of them. I posted a big shout out to them on my Facebook page but I feel bad if I didn’t say it right then. 😔 I assured the medic I was ok and kept running. It was few yards later that it all set in and then I was trying to talk myself out of hyperventilating myself into an asthma attack.
Eventually I calmed down and I was still on track to PR. Halfway through mile 6, my stomach let me know that I needed a bathroom and I needed it now. There were no bathrooms at that point. I had to start walking because it was either walk or embarrass myself. I walked the rest of 7 just taking deep breaths. I felt a little better by the turn around so I picked up the pace. I said goodbye to the PR hope but knew I could still beat last years course time even with the fall and the walking. At mile 8, I was 4 minutes ahead of a last year.
Miles 9-11- 13:01, 9:48, 9:54
Around 8.5, my stomach reared again. I was near an aid station so I looked for bathrooms. I finally found them off to side and back away and bolted for them. Not sure if I looked urgent or if he did this the whole race but there was a volunteer who directed me to which port-a-potty was open. Thank you!
After that snafu, I was back running but had slowed a bit. Shockingly enough I was still on track to beat last year’s time. I just had to stay under a 10:00 pace the last few miles. My legs felt strong; bruised and bleeding but strong. My mental game still felt on point as well. Despite the morning so far, I wasn’t defeated and I wasn’t giving up. We had a nice decline portion before we went from the roads to the railroad trail. I knew there was the suspension bridge and a few streets left before the finish line and I was still hopeful.
Miles 12-13.1- 10:37, 12:49, 2:17
Mile 12 slowed some towards the end thanks to my stomach again but I thought if I could a 9:00 for the last mile and sprint the .1, I could still pull this off. I shouldn’t have gotten cocky. My stomach threw a fit in the last mile. Why are there no bathrooms at mile 12.5?! Ha! There were 2 times I had to get myself completely off the road, out of the way and just stand still, focusing on deep breathing and calming my stomach. My fastest pace was now a jog but I was mostly walking.
It felt like more than 100 people passed me in that last mile. Including the 2:15 pace group. The last .25 mile is a paved path that goes around the pavilion at the Madonna Inn and I had been looking forward to sprinting it. I walked 90% of it before jogging across the finish line. Half marathon#12 done.
Where I wanted to sprint
Once I crossed the finish line and got my medal- which I feel like I fought for!- I was looking for a bathroom. I had wanted a finishers picture but the line had about 50 people in it and that was just not going to happen. I also should have stopped at the medical tent but I had other priorities. Plus, my arm warmers had done a pretty good job of drying the blood.
My mother found me fairly quickly and we headed for the back of the pavilion where the port-a-potties and UPS trucks (bag check) were. After that, I made it as far as the grass by the trucks and just tried to calm my rolling stomach. I wanted to try to find some of the ambassadors and see how they did but was just not up to moving. I had eaten nothing and had drank very little throughout the race as I knew my stomach was just not up to it. I let myself have a bit of the chocolate strawberry protein smoothie that Jamba Juice made for the finishers. It tasted like a Frosty. 🙂 We ended up leaving not long after that, I was feeling rough again and couldn’t handle another port-a-potty, so we headed to the McDonald’s down the street. Real bathrooms and I got an ice-cold Diet Coke. Oh the magical healing properties. 🙂
Like I said at the beginning, I am not mad or even sad. There were quite a few times throughout the race where I could have said screw it and bailed or phoned it in (see Ventura) but I knew I was stronger than that. My legs were feeling fresh, tumble not withstanding, my head was in the game and I was determined. I think that’s one thing that came out of my McMillan training plan that I wasn’t anticipating- the confidence. I knew I could I do it, and I still honestly believe that if it hadn’t been for my stupid stomach, I would have PR’d, hills, fall, headwind and all. Yes, the wind had picked up and was pretty bad but by that point it was the least of my concerns. 🙂 So with everything that race morning threw at me, I am damn proud of that 2:15.I love this race. I love the course and the crowds. The expo is still my favorite and the volunteers and staff are amazing. Seriously, I think the bike medic was there before I stopped rolling. I am already looking forward to next year.
Ever fallen while running? This was my first time.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,