Monday, January 25, 2010

Oh Southern California, how I love you so!!

In many places I have lived throughout the country, I had to resign myself to months of winter.  I remember several months at a time of grey, drizzly weather in the Pacific Northwest.  So a big storm was often followed with more of the same.  In the Midwest, a storm would leave piles of snow that turned grey and black from cars and exhaust.  Then there would be the dirty, grimy slush that inevitably followed.  At least in Reno, a storm was often followed by cold, clear weather, which made for great skiing.   But Southern California is the best!  After a week of a miserable storm, we were treated with a weekend of spring weather.   It was enough to recharge my soul and prepare me for the next round of rain due to hit us tomorrow.  We don't need to wait for Groundhog's Day in February to tell us when spring is coming; around here, we just need to wait it out for a week or two.

Yesterday, I headed down to Huntington Beach and ran a good chunk of the Surf City course.  It was a PERFECT day at the beach.  As I passed scores of runners, I wondered which ones I would be running with in two weeks.  Many people were donning Surf City shirts from years past.  I love the long sleeve technical shirts and can't wait to get mine.

On the schedule was sixteen miles.  The plan was to warm up for two miles and then run twelve miles at "race pace," ending with two miles of cool-down.  I started out feeling great.  My fist mile was faster than a warm-up really should be.  I ran it in 9:20.  I slowed down a bit and ran the second in 9:35.

The next miles I was hoping to run at a pace right around 9:00/mile.  A sub-four marathon is 9:10, but I would hope to keep it closer to 9:05.  I still haven't decided if I am even going to go for it.  That is the subject of another post, however.  I ran the next six miles at a pace between 8:47 and 9:00/mile.  Mile 9 was just over 9:00, but I am pretty sure that was when I ate a Gu and checked a map*.

I ran through the Huntington Beach Central Park where I saw some storm damage.  There was a huge tree over the path that looked like it was hit by lightning. I wish I would have stopped to take a picture of it, but I was in a groove at that point.  I ran around the lake and then back into the streets of Huntington Beach.

I ran along the Bolsa Chica wetlands.  I had been looking forward to it, since I had read several accounts that it is filled with a ton of birds and other wildlife.  I was a bit underwhelmed.  I guess I expected a beautiful reserve.  Instead I saw this:

Don't get me wrong, it is nice and I am sure the wildlife is impressive.  What I didn't really love were the oil drills every few hundred feet.  And I expected more vegetation, I suppose, instead of the vast expanse of sand and water.  It was nice running for a bit on a trail, but I think I would prefer the canyons out by my house.

When I got back to the beach, I was starting to feel tired.  Mile 11 was the slowest of my "pace" miles (9:07).  I was starting to fatigue and there were several spots where sand covered the path.  The sand was tough to run through and I don't think it was very good for my foot/ankle that was starting to really bother me.

Do you ever notice people who pass you on a running route who look like they are barely working?  I mean, I am pushing to maintain a pace and someone looks SO relaxed and comfortable zipping past you.  I don't get it.  A couple of times I tried to fall into step with some runners.  They looked so relaxed, how hard could it be to catch up?  Unfortunately, I picked a guy who is 6'2 first, so his easy stride doubles mine.  It gets frustrating.  I feel like I look like I am sprinting while these other runners gently cruise by me, fast enough for me to feel the wind from them.

So I focused on passing other runners or keeping up with faster ones, in order to keep from getting bored.  I was tired by this point and ready to be done.  How am I going to go twenty-six miles in two weeks?  I decided to see if I still had a little juice in the tank for mile 14.  I ran that last "pace" mile in 8:20.  THAT'S what I'm talking about.  I wanted to be done, so instead of "cooling down" I ran miles 15 and 16 in 8:39 and 9:12.  Overall, I averaged around 9:00 for all sixteen miles.  Not bad!  The problem is that I don't think I could keep that up for another ten miles.  Maybe with a nice taper and not running eight miles the day before.  Who knows?  But that is a discussion best left to another post.

All in all, it was a gorgeous Southern California day and it did wonders for my outlook. I am ready for the next wave of rain!   And I am definitely excited to run Surf City!

Happy running everyone.

*I recently upgraded to a smart phone.  It was a complete splurge as I do not have any justifiable reason for a fancy phone.  My husband, however, does.  When he bought his Motorola Droid, Verizon was offering a Droid Eris for free.  Score!  It was a bit of a Christmas present for myself.  I LOVE being able to look up my mapped run and determine where I am without carrying a crumpled up piece of paper.  


Terri said...

I was wondering what those things were in the picture. Oil drills!! (I should say I'm reading your post from my phone.) wow Lisa, I hope u are going to give yourself enough time to taper. Are you only taking two weeks? But I know that you know what you're doing, can't believe this is already your third marathon! I am so impressed with how you've gotten so much training in even with two young kids and the move.

Thank you for sharing the pictures.

L.B. said...

Great run recap! Sounds like a good workout; even if the individual miles were at different paces you still did nine-minute miles. Maybe with the taper down and the energy of race day you'll be able to maintain it for 10 more miles.

I gotta say, I'm disappointed at the picture of the Bolsa Chica wetlands. I was not expecting drills. A drill-filled wildlife preserve. Yikes. So much for the scenic views. I wonder if that will make for a dreary view of Miles 9-16 or however long we'll be running past it.

Nice pics!

Aka Alice said...

I think in SoCal, "wetlands" is a nice way to say...we have this swampland here and there are some little beasties who live there, but if we call it a swamp, someone will want to improve it, and goodbye little beasties, so we'll call it "wetlands" because it sounds nicer...but every wetland I've ever seen is a smelly swamp.

I'm always disappointing, however, by the oil derricks in HB, really destroys the view, doesn't it. Certainly from an age before there was any sort of conservation. I don't think that'd ever fly today, at least I hope not.

Oh... and nice run :-)

Alissa said...

I LOVE running in Huntington Beach. When I'm out there to visit the inlaws I try to make a trip down there. Nice job keeping your pace. I always have a hard time with keeping race pace on training runs. If you are like me the taper and the excitement of the day will have you running faster than race pace with ease. That might be good, it will allow your pace to fade in those last 10 miles and still meet your time goal. Great job with the 16 miler! All the hard work is done, now sit back, enjoy your taper and get excited for your race!!! Can't wait to hear how it goes for you!

EmLit said...

Way to push yourself! It sounds like you had a really great run, and something to be really proud of :) I can't wait to hear about the marathon.

Thanks for all those gorgeous pictures. I envy your California weather...maybe some day I'll get to move out there myself!

Glenn Jones said...

Great run!

A little history - HB used to be almost *all* oil wells along the coast. Where the path is along PCH used to be oil pipes. We used to surf there at the Cliffs (Goldenwest) and stand on the pipes in the early AM to warm our feet afterwards. All the homes between the pier and Golden West used to be oil wells too. The big deal with the Bolsa Chica wetlands is that that whole area was slated to be homes. The wells were supposed to be capped and the wetlands filled for new homes, until environmental groups were able to procure the land. Otherwise that whole expanse would be homes, and California would have lost more estuary.

Poker? I play a lot of online poker. As far as local casinos - I like Oceans 11 in Oceanside, Pechanga in Temecula and San Manuel in San Bernardino. I like the Indian casinos - some of the local card houses seem like everybody is playing for their mortgages with all the trash talk that goes on.

Kristin said...

You CAAAAAN do it! I'll bet on marathon day a 9-minute pace will feel like 9:30 (not the reverse :) (at least for the first 20 miles). What a beautiful day you had!

Oz Runner said...

way to rub it in, we had 6 inches of snow last night...bah...


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