Monday, March 22, 2010

Not a magic pill

I didn’t run all week.  I am suffering from that same malaise I’ve had for a couple of weeks.  I can’t seem to drag myself out into the dark in the mornings.

So I was really looking forward to this weekend’s run(s).  Then my husband told me he had plans out of town on Saturday, so I would have to run only on Sunday.  No biggie.

After a busy Saturday of kid-filled activities, I was looking forward to a peaceful early morning run all by myself.  Two hours of solitude.  Then my husband decided that it would be better not to drive home late Saturday night.  He would head home Sunday morning.  Sigh.

Finally, Sunday morning around 10:30 I went out for my run.  There was a hazy overcast sky and it was starting to get hot*.  Yikes.  That meant a lovely sauna to run in.  My two hours of solitude turned into an hour and twenty minute slugfest.

I did think a lot about the LA Marathon runners** and how they must have been feeling.  Was it as hot through the streets of LA?  I was sure it was.  The ocean must have been nice.  Maybe the marine layer cooled things down.

I had such high hopes for my run.  It was going to help me feel better mentally.  It was going to be my time alone; my time to just “be.”  It was a hard week emotionally and I had looked forward to this time.  Instead, it was a struggle.  I was hot and thirsty.  I went through my entire twenty ounces of water in an eight mile run.  I intended to run at least ten miles, but decided to turn around after four miles.  I just wasn’t feeling it.  Eight was fine after not running for a week, right?

So often we think of our running as the “magic pill” keeping our spirits up and head clear.  Sometimes running is just running.  We put one foot in front of the other and try to get from point A to point B.  I am sure I will have a “magic pill” kind of run one of these days, but I need to be ok when the endorphins don’t make all my anxiety disappear.  I am just thankful that I am able to run; that I am healthy and can run a crappy eight mile run on any given day.  If I stop to think about it, that’s pretty awesome.  A few years ago, just running around the block would have been an accomplishment.

Happy Running.

*It was 82 degrees as I ran by the bank and insurance office on my way home.
**Danica, Billy, and Glenn were all running the LA Marathon.  I kept checking my phone to see Twitter updates.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Happy Trails

The past couple of days have been those beautiful Southern California days that make me remember why my mortgage is so high.  On Sunday, it was crystal clear and 70 degrees.   And I was able to fully enjoy it…

First, I woke up in the dark (dang, it wasn’t dark at 6:20 on Saturday!) after too little sleep to go to the “new member” run for the Southern California Trail Headz running group.  I was a little nervous, since I was meeting new people for the first time.  However, I knew that Glenn would be there and we were running in Peter’s Canyon where I have run before, so I felt comfortable if I had to run on my own.
Everyone was very welcoming and I wasn’t the only newcomer.  I was there for a few minutes and then I saw Glenn join the group.  He was going to run a shorter distance, since he is tapering for the LA Marathon next weekend.  The president* of the club gave some welcoming remarks and we were off.
I started running with two people.  Jen (who was also new) and the guy (I forget his name!) were very nice and we chatted for a few miles.  After a while, I realized that their pace was a little aggressive for me.  I let them pull ahead.  I was officially “dropped.”  I didn’t mind.  I had brought along my iPod and decided to listen to some music and enjoy the trails.
 Peters canyon reservoir Peterscanyon trail
peters canyon hill 2
I ran around the lake and then took a different path back.  This one went up over the ridge and had some pretty big hills.  It was a good workout.  One of the members of the group, David, caught up with me and we ran the last part of the hills together.  I ended up doing a little over seven miles, I think.  I had forgotten to charge my Garmin, so I ran without it.  Because of the hills and the miles I ran with other people (who were a bit faster than me), it was a pretty tough run.  It felt good.

The group was great.  There were all different paces.  However, it seemed like everyone I talked to had run an ultra.  This is the group I need to join if I am going to run that 50k.  Nearly all of the big trail races have at least one member running.  This would be great for car pooling etc., not to mention having a friendly face around.

There were snacks and chatting afterward.  I really enjoyed it.  I am leaning toward officially joining the group!

After my run, I came home and told my husband and oak canyon hike 1kids that it was a beautiful day and we needed to get out and enjoy it.  We went on a great hike at Oak Canyon Nature Center, which is a couple of miles from our house.  It is wonderful that such a fantastic trail and nature center is minutes from our house.
oak canyon hike mommy and kids oak canyon hike creek crossing
oak canyon hike 3 oak canyon hike 4
All in all… it was a great day.  Running with new friends and hiking with my family.   Life is good.

*Funny story and post script…. back in January when I ran the Southern California Half Marathon, I mentioned seeing a woman wearing Crocs running alongside of me at a sub-two-hour pace.  I was, and still am, impressed that someone could run that far and that fast in Crocs.  She helped to motivate me in that race.  I didn’t want to be beat by someone wearing Crocs.  LOL.  I also saw her during Surf City.

Well… she is the president of the Trail Headz!!!  I ran back to the park with her and chatted and she is as nice as can be.  She is also an ultra-stud.  Not only does she run half marathons and marathons in Crocs, but ultra marathons!  Seriously!  She is also training for Vineman Ironman Triathlon.  She is a serious athlete.

So “Croc Lady” is no longer just a story.  She is a real person with a name, Lorraine.   It’s a small world.

Happy Running.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

OC Chili Winter Trail Run Series #2 Race Report

Last month I ran the first race of this series and had a great time.  Today Heidi and I came back to do it again* 
Heidi pre race
I thought it was going to be much warmer.  It was warmer at the start, but never quite warmed up like it did last time.  I wore a tank top with arm warmers and was pretty happy about it (although I was pretty chilly before and after the race).  The weather turned out to be perfect running weather: mostly overcast in the 50’s.
OC Chili Winter Trail Run Series 2
It was a little smaller than last month’s race.  I’m not sure if people are running Catalina Marathon or tapering for LA (although this would be a great taper tempo run).  It was such a nice, friendly atmosphere. 
We started after listening to a recording of Carrie Underwood singing the Star Spangled Banner.    There was very little fanfare and we were off.
As we headed into the single track and up the hill/stairs, the runners were moving a bit faster than last month.  It didn’t feel like quite the bottleneck that it did last time.  I felt like I was moving at a nice clip, alternating between power hiking and jogging up the hills.  The trail widened into more of a fire road and runners were nicely spread out.
OC Chili Winter Trail Run Series hill The hills were still a little steep, but weren’t quite as steep as I remember.  I think the fact that I have run two other trail runs since the first one has changed my perspective on hills.
OC Chili Winter Trail Run view2
 It still is no slouch of a hill....

It was a beautiful course.  I think I am going to have to take my camera along on all trail races from now on!
OC Chili Winter Trail Run view OC Chili Winter Trail Run view3
I carried my water today so I didn’t have to stop at the water station.  It made a difference and I was able to pass quite a few people that way.  Once we hit mile two, the course went downhill and I was able to fly.  It was fun.  I think my confidence is increasing on the downhills.
The course went down a road for a while and then went back into single track.  It was really fun.  There were a couple of spots that had sand.  That wasn’t so fun.  I don’t remember that from last time.  I think that it had rained the day before.
See that guy in the distance?  I passed him at the end.  Woo hoo!  There was a guy right on my heels during the single track part.  I kept moving over to the right to let him pass, but he didn’t.  After a while, I decided that I didn’t want to let him.  It was nice feeling “chased;”  it kept me pushing myself.
*Kelly had stuff going on today and is also nursing a sore knee, so she didn’t make it with us.

Monday, March 8, 2010

PCTR Malibu Creek 25K Race Report

I ran my first Pacific Coast Trail Run today.  I am officially hooked.  It was so much fun.
I was in a good mood as soon as I woke up.  It wasn’t raining.  I could see clouds to the west, so I knew that it could still rain during the race, but we definitely weren’t experiencing one of the El Nino storms of late.  I threw in all sorts of items into the car to prepare for the weather.  I had my windbreaker jacket, a garbage bag, dry clothes for afterward, including my Ugg boots. I didn’t need any of that.

As I arrived in the park, I was struck immediately that this race was well organized.  A race volunteer was collecting money for parking and directing us to the correct parking area.  There were two other volunteers with flags, showing us the way.

I went to pick up my bib and saw a volunteer who I recognized.  Danica!
Danica the chicrunner
Shortly after that, my phone rang and it was Penny.  She was in the parking lot and still very tired.  I was excited to finally meet her.  We have run in so many of the same races and missed each other.  It was great hanging out before the race. 
lisa and penny the southbaygirl
It was soon time to start!  The Race Director was making announcements about the ribbons and following the trails.  He then told us about the river crossing.  He said it was thigh deep.  THIGH deep???  A murmur swept through the crowd.  All the reports from previous years said it was shin deep.  I had been nervous about it before and now I was a tad bit scared.  Luckily, I had asked various people about it and they told me not to worry.  My trail shoes would drain the water just fine and I wouldn’t even notice after a few minutes.
PCTR Malibu Creek start line
I would soon find out that the river crossing was the least of my worries.  The climbing was way harder than walking through a creek.  It wasn’t quite as steep as the last race I did, but it went up and up and up.  The course basically climbed until after mile 9.  There was a total elevation gain of 3000 feet.  Check out the elevation profile from my Garmin.  I have labeled some of the key spots.
PCTR Malibu Creek Elevation Chart 2

A. The Start.  We were off!  Penny encouraged me to go ahead.  I wished her well and ran off.  I kept with the flow of runners for a while until I looked down at my Garmin and realized I was running pretty fast.  I settled into a nice rhythm and started to climb.  It went into single track and the climbing wasn’t too bad. Yet.
   PCTR Malibu Creek single track 1a *
B.The River Crossing.   I was chatting with a guy who was telling me he was going to bypass the creek.  He had no desire to go in thigh deep, cold water.  There was a way to run to the road and cross a bridge.  I considered it, but I wanted to experience the entire thing.  It somehow seemed like a cop out to go across the bridge.

So he and his daughter turned off the trail to the road and I kept following the marked trail.  And then I came upon the river.  I had thought that maybe the RD was exaggerating when he told us about it.  Nope.  It was thigh deep.  Crotch deep for some of the shorter runners in places.  Check it out.
PCTR Malibu Creek River Crossing 2PCTR Malibu Creek River Crossing 3 
My husband made fun of me for not running across it.  I couldn’t make him understand that we were walking on slippery boulders and I was just hoping not to fall.  The reason my camera work was so goofy in the video was because I was focusing on not falling instead of what I was filming.
The crossing was so much fun.  The cold water actually felt good.  So much that I was tempted to go back and do it again after I was done.  I even joked afterwards that I was tempted to do the 50K just so I could cross the creek again.  “What’s stopping you?” one of the runners asked me.  Hmmm….

C. The Climb.  So in wet shoes (which didn’t seem to bug me for very long) we started to climb.  And climb.  And climb.  I walked quite a bit.   I would walk up the incline and then jog when it flattened out or went downhill a bit.  But it seemed to never really level out.

The scenery was stunning. 
PCTR Malibu Creek-1 PCTR Malibu Creek 2
D. Ocean Views!   We were soon treated to views of the Pacific Ocean.  I was so glad I brought my camera.  I knew that I wasn’t racing this race, so I thought I would get plenty of pictures.  Another runner even offered to get one with me in it.
PCTR Malibu Creek 3-1 PCTR Malibu Creek lisa
PCTR Malibu Creek More ocean views
E. Little Moab.   One of the other runners told me that one of the areas is known as Little Moab.  I love Moab, Utah and had a fabulous trip there a couple of years ago.  I asked her why and she told me that it was like Slickrock.  That it was.  It was interesting running up (and down) this rocky surface.
PCTR Malibu Creek Little Moab PCTR Malibu Creek Little Moab 2
F.  Weeeeeeeeeeeeee…….  Running down the hills was so much fun!  I really had to watch my feet, but I felt way more confident than I did during the last trail race. 
It was a lot like skiing moguls or mountain biking; you need to pick your line and go for it.  I would find a good line down the hill that looked to have the least amount of rocks, crevices etc. and I pointed my body that way and ran.   I passed a lot of people during this time. 

At one point I was following a couple of women.  We had a few miles to go.  There was an intersection and they headed to the left.  Intuitively, that felt wrong since I was pretty sure the finish was toward our right.  Then I noticed the trail marker.  I called out to the women who were going up the other trail.  They thanked me for saving them that extra hill that they would have climbed before realizing they were off course. 

G. The Flats.  We ran past some old rusty cars that were left over from the filming of M.A.S.H.  The sign was pretty cool.  It pointed to Boston, Seoul, Coney Island, San Francisco, Tokyo, Burbank, Death Valley, Decatur and another city I can’t make out.  The t-shirt for the run has a drawing of a similar sign with names of the various trails the course goes over. 
PCTR Malibu Creek MASH sign
PCTR Malibu Creek MASH car
H.  More Single Track.  The course went back into some nice shady single track.  By now, it was actually getting warm.  My feet were starting to hurt.

There were a couple parts of the trail where going around the water would be more dangerous than going through it.  I welcomed the cold water on my feet.  I also had some caked mud on my shoes and I felt like the water took some of the weight off.
PCTR Malibu Creek single track mud PCTR Malibu Creek single track mud 2
For as much rain as we had the day before, I was surprised there wasn’t more mud.  These last few miles were the muddiest

I. The Finish.  The end was somewhat uphill.  It was on the roads in the park and it was tough.  I kept trying to remember the beginning of the race to know how long I had to run on this road.  Man, I was tired.  I had been watching a woman in a blue shirt for the last few miles and it was my goal to pass her.  I am not sure if would have finished so strongly if it wasn’t for trying to pass her.   I did, by the way.  And she called me on it afterward, with a smile and a twinkle in her eye.  Trail runners are really nice people.

As I ran to the finish, I gave it all I had.  A guy was walking past and said, “great job, way to finish strong.”  It made me smile.  Then as I ran into the corral, a volunteer looked up from her clipboard and said, “nice job, Lisa!”  I love small races!

I had hoped to finish around three hours, but I really had no idea.  I finished in 3:11:12, which is about 12:15 per mile.  I was thrilled to find out that I came in fourth in my age group!!  The woman that came in third, beat me by twenty seconds.  I am pretty sure I know who she is… she and I went back and forth quite a bit and, in the end, she had a stronger finish. 

They had a nice spread at the end.  By the way, the same spread was at each of the aid stations.  I had never eaten a banana mid-race before—yummy!  It was nice to choose from everything from M&Ms to potato chips.
PCTR Malibu Creek post race food
 PCTR Malibu Creek post race self portrait
PCTR Malibu Creek shoe mud 2
It was a wonderful, beautiful day and a really fun race.  I am more convinced than ever that I need to run a 50K.  I couldn’t have done two laps today, but with a bit more training, I know I have it in me.  Either way, I know I’ll be back to this race next year.

Thanks for reading yet another one of my epic race reports.

Happy Running.

*I stole the first single track picture from Penny’s blog.  Mine turned out blurry.  Thanks, Penny!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

A New Training Cycle

I am excited for my next training cycle.  It doesn’t technically start until the beginning of April, but I think I am already into it.  I am going to run the St. George Marathon in October with the friends I have met here*.  It will be Kelly and Heidi’s first marathon and I am looking forward to having someone to do long runs with again!  There is a run from our neck of the woods down to the beach that I have always wanted to do, but didn’t want to do it alone.  Now that there is a group of us training, we can do that run together. 

Between now and then, I have an even bigger goal in front of me.  I am going to take that leap and train for a 50K!  Gulp.   Did I actually just write that?  Yup… I am going to run my very first ultra this year.  I have fallen in love with trail running and would love to take it to another level.  I love the idea of just focusing on conquering the race and not worrying about PR’s etc.  There is also the “communing with nature” factor that is very appealing. 

I have had trouble trying to find one to fit in my schedule.  I don’t want to do one too soon; I want to be fully prepared.  I also don’t want one too late which might interfere with sharpening for St. George.  I would love to do this race** in September, however it is only a few weeks before St. George and I am not sure if I would be recovered in time.  I am have tentatively chosen Montana de Oro on August 15.  It is my husband’s birthday that day, but we talked about doing a family trip up to Morro Bay to either camp or stay in a motel.  I love that part of the California coast and have never spent any time there.  Even though that is a hot time of the year, the trail goes along the Pacific Ocean, so it should be gorgeous!
My first 25K is tomorrow.  I may change my mind after running that.  I would have to run the 25K loop twice.  We’ll see how I feel tomorrow.  I’m going to play around with pacing and fueling and see how it goes.  I am both nervous and excited.  It is a tough course, but I have run a course that has more elevation gain and survived, so I think I’ll be fine.  
I am very excited to finally be meeting Penny!  She and I have run so many of the same races and never met face to face.  She and I have gotten to know each other better through Facebook and Twitter.  I know she is happy about the forecast of rain.  Me…not so much.

My biggest worry is the river crossing.  It comes pretty early in the race (sometime before the 4.3 mile aid station).  I am not afraid of crossing the river so much as running twelve miles with wet shoes and socks.  I have been told that if you go for drier ground, the “real” trail runners will give you a hard time.  Have any of you crossed a creek/river in a race?  Any tips, tricks or advice??

For some reason, I didn’t really taper for this race.  I am approaching these trail races so differently than I approach road races.  I am not sure that is wise.   I ran twelve miles this morning.  Oops.   I went for my regular Saturday morning run with my friends and before I knew it, we had run over an hour before we turned around to run back to the cars.   I did stay back with my friend Heidi, who was hurting a bit.  We ran/walked the last few miles.  I tried to keep the pace slow, but my legs feel a little tired right now.  Hopefully, they recover in time for tomorrow’s adventure.

In researching 50K training plans, I found that most of them advocate back-to-back long runs.  I suppose that I am doing that this weekend.  So tomorrow’s 25K is a training run.   I guess that means I am officially training.   Woo hoo!!

Happy Running…. 

*if, of course, we get a lottery slot.
**my friend Jimmy is one of the race directors and I really want to support their racing efforts!   Plus, it sounds like an incredible race!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


It is ironic that I finally get around to the "Sunshine Award" post on a day that is rainy and stormy*.  It is also during a week when I need a bit of sun in my life.  I know that many of the bloggers out there have already been tagged with this.  I am going to go ahead and tag twelve people anyway, just so that I have an excuse to say nice things about some nice people.  This blog was started to document my training for my first marathon.  I have been pleasantly surprised how many actual friends I have met through this blogging journey.  The following people have added a little sunshine to my life...

*Irene-- tagged me for this.  She is a great runner and person who has overcome a lot.  She struggled with a major injury and still perseveres.  She seems to get stronger every day.  She is an inspiration.  I had the pleasure of meeting her this past summer at a race.  I look forward to seeing her at others in the future.

*Terri was the first person who ever commented on my blog (other than people I already knew).  We made an instant connection through our blogs.  Both of us were training for our first marathons and new to running.  You could say we were the blind leading the blind (although, she had her brother to help her).

Terri always offers thoughtful comments to my posts.  She gives encouragement and advice.  When Terri took a trip to my old stomping grounds in Oregon we talked on the phone a couple times. Since then, we have been friends, instead of just blogger acquaintances.

*Jill is another person I have connected to as a friend.  I was lucky enough to join Jill for a run when she was visiting San Diego.  We just fell into step and it was all so natural.  We talked the entire run.  Her stage in life is a few years behind mine and it was refreshing to chat with her about her future.

One of Jill's closest friends is someone I clicked with at a training seminar.  I am sure that since we are drawn to similar people, if we lived in the same city, we would hang out for sure.

*Alissa and I have also had the pleasure of meeting at a race.  We didn't run together, since she beat me by several minutes.  ;-)  We did get the chance to hang out though.  Her husband had car trouble, so my friend Laura and I were able to take Alissa back to the condo where she was staying, chatting along the way. 

I definitely will run with her someday.  Alissa is faster than me and I think she can push me.  However, she was the first one to text me and congratulate me for beating her PR in the marathon (although her half PR blows mine away).  LOL.  Her encouragement and support has been awesome.
*Penny and I have run a lot of the same races.  We have yet to meet face to face, although we have talked on the phone.  I have recently gotten to know Penny better through Twitter and Facebook.  Penny is a Half Marathon Fantatic, running half marathons every other week or so in order to motivate her to get a long run in.  Wow. She is also passionate about animals and raised a lot of money for Labrador Rescuers.  She has one of the biggest hearts I know.

*Alice's blog makes me laugh every time.  That's why I started reading it.  Then I started realizing that we were running in the same places.  Turns out that she lives very close to where I lived in the San Diego area.  In fact, my son went to the same grade school that her kids went to.

I have had the pleasure of meeting her a few times at races.  My favorite was at the End of Summer 4 mile race.  I joined the Heffers for a couple of beers and a breakfast burrito.  It wasn't mimosas, but it was a lot of fun.  Alice has a way of making everyone around her feel comfortable.

*Kristin  and I are right around the same age and our PR's are eerily similar.  I am convinced that if we lived in the same city, she and I would be perfect running partners.  Our running parallels quite a bit.  Our good runs and bad runs are so much alike and we approach our running pretty much the same way.

I think that Kristin is living a life that is very similar to what mine might have been had certain decisions been made differently.  Had I gone to law school... Had I not met my husband...   It is not only likely that I would be working as an attorney, but perhaps even in Washington.

I am sure I will run into Kristin one of these days.  I would love it if I could see her in Newport in June.  One of my friends wants me to run it.  If my financial situation changes soon, I just might.  Maybe Kristin and I could qualify for Boston together? 

*Glenn  and I have only recently met.  We have gotten to know each other mostly through Twitter.  He is the ultimate cheerleader for the running community.  He is the epitome of a social butterfly and is so good at rallying people to get together.  People like Glenn bring real life interactions to online social networking.

I was able to meet him at my first big trail race.  I doubt if I would have had the courage to show up if it weren't for Glenn.  He was so welcoming and encouraging.  I am sure we'll cross paths again.
*Aron  is someone whose skill I greatly admire.  I started reading her blog as she was on her Boston Qualification quest.  I think it was the Eugene Marathon race report that hooked me.  Her raw emotion that she shared on that post made me want to cry with her.   I admire her honesty and candor.  She also posts interesting and helpful reviews etc.

I am starting to get to know Aron a bit more lately through Twitter.  I hope that I can run into her one of these days at a race.

*L.B. is a true inspiration.  He used to weigh 308 pounds.  I discovered his blog after he had lost his weight and was training for the Surf City Marathon.  I was able to see him on an out-and-back portion of the race and give him a quick cheer as he was running his first marathon.   His blog posts are thoughtful and easy to read.  I am glad to have found his blog (actually, I think he may have found mine first).

*MCM Mama**was training for her first marathon right after I trained for mine.  She is a stay-at-home mom with two kids, just like me.  I enjoy hearing about the issues she faces that are so similar to mine.  Sometimes I think we're living parallel lives (except for all the snow, of course.  LOL)

She is on a quest to run a race in every state.  I hope that when she checks off California, it will be somewhere in southern California.  Better yet, it would be great if she vacations with her family and all the kids can hang out and play.

*Danica  Out of all the bloggers I have described, I think I have the least in common with Danica.  She is a fabulous, single twenty-something.  Her life is as different from mine as it could be.  But we both love running.  I enjoy her enthusiasm for everything.

I found Danica's blog while searching for race reports on a half marathon I was thinking about running.  I then happened upon her race report for the Long Beach Marathon and it was like a light turned on.  Her Long Beach experience was exactly what I was hoping for for Surf City.  She found her marathon redemption and had a dream race.  Her story gave me hope that I could do the same.  She encouraged me that I could definitely have that dream race.  The idea of that dream race kept me going through the tough miles.  I have Danica to thank for that!

There are so many more cool bloggers out there.  Maybe I'll highlight some more on another day...  In the meantime, do yourself a favor and check out some of these blogs!  Thanks to all of you for your support.

Award winners, if you would like to participate (and haven't already...or even if you have), put the logo on your blog or within your post (right click and save). Pass the award onto 12 bloggers, then link the nominees within your post. Finally, let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog.

Happy running.

*although I didn't finish it until today when it is Sunny and beautiful...gotta love a southern California storm. 
**I know her real name, but am not sure if she ever says it on her blog.  I want to protect her anonymity if that's what she wants.


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