Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Quite a year…

Wow.  In terms of running, 2010 has been an overwhelming success.

Over 1500 miles run!!
That is a 50% increase over 2009.  I ran 1017 last year and will end this year with 500 miles more than that.  I hit 1500 miles yesterday on my run.  I stand at 1504 with three days left.  Holy cow!  At the beginning of the year, I had hoped to hit 1200 this year.  I definitely exceeded my expectations, especially since my mileage has dropped quite a bit in the last couple of months.

9 months run over 100 miles*
With the exception of February, March and April, my mileage total for every month was over 100 miles.  My highest month was 175 (my lifetime PR).  In 2009, my highest month was 153, but I had one month where I only ran 27 miles.  Things have come a long way since I started running in 2008, when I didn’t even keep track of my mileage.

24 races raced!
This number surprised me.  Even on a budget, I was able to run a LOT of races this year.  I spent Christmas and birthday money on entry fees.  I was also able to run seven races for free.

At least one race per month
I thought that I wanted to do that, but never thought I would (or could).  It definitely wasn’t by design.  When I saw a race that I wanted to run and could afford to run it, I did.  I ran the OC Chili Trail Race Series in February, March and April.  If it weren’t for the fact that I wanted to run all three, I wouldn’t have raced in April at all.  The races I ran in August, September and October (and one in November) were all free for one reason or another.**

3 marathons
I ran my best marathon, my most disappointing marathon and my most fun marathon all in 2010.  It goes to show how different each one can be.

8 half marathons (5 half marathons and 3 trail races over 21K)
I officially qualify for Half Fanatics.  I haven’t joined yet, since I am waiting for my budget to allow for things like that.  My best half marathon streak is four in thirty days.  I am proud to say that I ran three of them comfortably under two hours.  The first one was a very difficult trail race where my time was not my goal.  The last in the streak happens to be my PR of 1:47:06

7 trail races
I ran my first trail race in February of this year.  It was a five mile race and I fell in love with it.  I had run on the trails and loved it.  Trail races made me a bit nervous, but after a couple, I looked forward to them.  In fact, I really hope to run a trail marathon or 50K this year.
3 10Ks
One of them was the Camp Pendleton Mud Run and the other two I PR’d in!  I don’t particularly like 10K’s, but they make a great “tempo” run.

5 5Ks
I only ran one of these for a PR. Two of them were with my sister-in-law, helping her pace her race.  One was the LA Mud Run and the last one was the Gladiator Run

PRs in almost every distance
Half Marathon—1:47:06

In terms of my life in general, it has been my most difficult year.  Thank goodness for my running and the success I have seen there, as well as the friends I have made along the way.  By far, the highlight of my year (running and otherwise) has been the friends I have made because of my running.  I am looking forward to a better 2011.  I hope to continue to see improvement in my running.  But even more, I hope to continue running with and helping my friends reach their goals.  Maybe I will even train a paying client next year.  We’ll see what life brings me….

I hope you all have a happy new year.  Happy Trails.  Happy Running…

*January 133 (peaking for Surf City)
February 60 (ran Surf City Marathon on February 6 and then took some time off, only running on the weekends for a couple of weeks)
March 87
April 82
May 145 (started training for Long Beach in earnest and ran three half marathons)
June 133 (I ran a race every week this month)
July 167
August 171
September 175
October 126 (ran Long Beach Marathon without taking much time off afterwards)
November 126
December 99 (so far…but I still plan on two more runs before the end of the year.  It will probably be my lowest mileage month since April)

*I love my friends and family!   I paced friends/family in four events, was able to get a free entry from a friend of a friend, ran for team Jamba Juice for another and volunteered at a race to get another free entry.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Favorite Things

I know that Christmas is only days away, but I thought I would post about some of my favorite things that might be nice last minute gifts for a runner in your life.  Or yourself.  I also have included some things on my list that I would love to get.

1. Garmin- or other GPS watch.  I have the simple Forerunner 205 and couldn’t live without it.  If I had my way, I’d trade it in for one with the heart rate monitor.  I don’t train with my heart rate often, but I think about doing it now and then.  If it were just a matter of strapping that monitor to my chest, I would do it more often.
2. iFitness Double Pouch running belt--  I am actually planning on devoting an entire post to this.  It is my single favorite running item.  I use it almost every day.  I use it even when I am not running.  It is the perfect belt to carry my phone, my keys and a little cash.  On days when I can’t find it, I’m lost.  I like having the comfort of having my phone with me when I run and this little belt allows me to do that. 
Neoprene Double Pouch Black w/ Pink Zip
3. Fleece vest--  I love my fleece vest.  It is the perfect addition to my cool weather running wardrobe.  I bought it for a mountain biking trip, but I have worn it dozens of times running.  It has a zip pocket in the back and is cut for cycling, so the back is lower.  Mine is made by Sheila Moon, but it doesn’t seem like they still make it. 

4. Compression Socks—I use the Recovery Socks after my runs.  I often wear them sleeping overnight.  Do they prevent injury?  I don’t know.  But I know I seem to feel better after wearing them.

5. Gloves—My hands get really cold when I run in less than 50 degree weather.  Luckily, it doesn’t usually get super cold around here, so my Target knit gloves work perfectly.  Whenever they go on sale I buy some, so I have several pair of $.50 gloves.  If I need to chuck them if my hands get too warm, I’m not out much money.  These are great stocking stuffers!
6.  Arm Warmers—I love my arm warmers.  I have two pair.  One I LOVE and the other one not as much.   My favorite pair is a cycling pair by Louis Garneau.   They are nice and soft on the inside and moisture wicking on the outside.  They are perfect here in Southern California where it starts out cold and warms up as the run progresses.  These stay up on my arms and never need adjusting or tugging.  They have a band at the top that keep them up without squeezing.  I don’t even think about them.  I have run entire marathons in them.  My second pair is by Zensah.  I had high hopes for these, having read great reviews.  They are soft and comfy and a cute pink.  The only problem with them is that they don’t stay up really well.  I have only worn them a few times (if my black ones are in the laundry) and I felt like I had to tug at the top.  The compression is nice throughout, but during the run the top seems to sag a bit.

7. A hat—  Hats are underrated items of apparel. They keep me warm, dry and keeps the sun out of my eyes.  Now that my hair is getting longer, I need a hole to put my pony tail.  The hat we got from the Santa Barbara Marathon doesn’t have a pony hole.  What’s up with that?  I have tried running in knit hats, but I find I like a nice brim on my hat.

My wish list:
1. Unlimited race entries—I love, love, love running races.  There is something so exciting about the race environment.  Unfortunately, races are expensive.  My favorite Christmas present would be a premium membership to (if that actually existed) where I could register for any race for little or no money.  I have so many races on my list to do and they aren’t cheap!  While we’re at it, I would love to be able to travel to races as well.

2. Unlimited shoes—Ah, to be sponsored by Brooks.  Now, that would be something.  They say that shoes last 500 miles.  I find that by 300 miles, I start experiencing aches and pains in my lower legs.  My shin splints and IT Band Syndrome both start bothering me when my shoes reach the upper 200’s mileage-wise.  This gets to be very expensive.

3. A wind-proof, water-resistant jacket with zip-off sleeves--  This would be so convenient around here.  Often when it is cold, it warms up by the end of my run.  When it is raining, it often doesn’t rain the entire run.  A convertible jacket is just what I need. This one looks nice.

4. Vibram Five FingersI am curious about the barefoot running thing.  Even though I wear stability shoes and feel all sorts of issues when they get too old, I always wonder how much my form might improve by going “back to nature.”  I wouldn’t mind trying out some Vibrams, but I don’t want to invest the money, in case I don’t like it.  I would do just a little at a time, probably out on the trails.

5. Compression pants—I have two pair of running pants, but they were both relatively inexpensive.  They are nice and warm, but require some annoying tugging.  I think that pants with some compression features would be much more comfortable and help in my recovery etc.

6. iPod ShuffleI don’t use music as much as I used to.  I wear my iPod Nano strapped to my arm.  It gets a little cumbersome.  The shuffle (or even better, the new Nano) is small enough to clip on a collar.  I have a perfectly good iPod, so a new one is a silly thing to want.  But since this is my wish list, I can list whatever I want, right?  While I’m at it, I think I want the Oakley MP3 glasses, where it is all built into my sunglasses.

7. A headlamp—We often start our runs when it is dark.  I sometimes wear a flashing light or a Tinkerbell pin belonging to my kids.  That helps people see me.  I wouldn’t mind a lamp so I can see better.  I would like one that is super lightweight.  One that clips to my hat would be perfect.

8. A Treadmill—as much as I hate running on a treadmill, there are times when it really comes in handy.  The weather this week has been horrible.  I don’t mind a little rain, but it has been raining HARD for several days.  I definitely would have used a treadmill this week.

I am sure there are more things I love in my own running bags and drawers.  I am even more sure there are additional things on my wish list that I forgot to mention.  Luckily, I really have everything I need.  I have my running friends and I live in a place where the weather is [almost always] perfect for running.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and that the new year treats you well.

Happy Running…

Friday, December 17, 2010

Gladiator Rock ‘N Run Race Report—A Muddy Good Time!

A few weeks ago, I joined my brother, Jason, and his wife, Kristi, in the Gladiator Rock ‘N Run.  I thought the concept was good, but I was skeptical.  This was the inaugural race, and other concepts like this had mixed reviews.  My last mud run was a bit lame with the obstacles being things like traffic barriers and hoola hoops.  So I went in with low expectations, planning on having fun with my family and supporting my sis-in-law, who has never done something like this.  I was pleasantly surprised.  The Gladiator Rock ‘N Run was one of the most fun runs I have ever done!!

The concept comes from American Gladiator and is the brainchild of one of the original Gladiators, Dan “Nitro” Clark.  My brother is in the perfect demographic and watched it when he was a teenager.  The run involves running stairs, climbing over giant spools and walls, carrying heavy sacks, sliding down steep hills and, of course, lots and lots of mud.

The race was organized into half hour waves.  Brilliant!  It avoided the inevitable pileups at the obstacles and made parking a breeze.  We ran in the 10 AM wave and were able to see some of the previous waves run.  I love running races early, but my brother and sister-in-law are not early risers (at least on the weekends).  I was glad to run later on that day because it was pretty chilly.  For a race where you are going to get wet in December, 8 AM might not be quite as fun.
  Here we are before the run, with finishers from an earlier wave in the background running through the fire.
They had fun stuff to do around the finish/start area (in addition to the regular vendors etc.).  There was a jousting pit as well as a mud tug-of-war pit.  Had we had a big group, we would have been all over that!
There were lots of fun costumes.
There were a few announcements and then our wave was off.  The first obstacle was running the stairs in the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater.  I really enjoyed it.  The stairs were a nice change from just running.  It really affects your heart rate differently.  They called that obstacle the “Stairway to Heaven.”
We ran through an obstacle called “The Wrecking Ball.”  Volunteers aimed hanging balls at us.  Some of them were thrown pretty hard.  One of the guys aimed right at my brother.  Mistake.  Having played college and pro football, he pushed the ball right back and almost knocked the guy over.  Hilarious.
After that, we ran down a hill covered in tires.  My brother reverted to his twelve-year-old self and bounded down the pile of tires.  He would have made it all the way down, but had to zig when another runner zagged and the tire under his feet flipped out from under him and he fell HARD on his side.  By the end of the race, he was pretty battered and bruised.  BUT, he had a smile on his face the entire time.
*This photo was “stolen” from the Gladiator Facebook page.  They had their own photographers, in addition to the race photographers.

Next, we carried a heavy bags about 100 feet to place at the foot of a statue of Buddha.  They say that it was 50 pounds, but I don’t think there were 50 pound bags.  I think they were closer to 20.  After that, we had to run over giant spools.  I really wanted to be able to run up and over it, but in the end I had to put my foot on the side and climb it.  My brother ran over it.

04180012 The next obstacle was a steep hill.  They had a big rope for people to pull themselves up called “Rope a Dope.”  It was easier for me just to run up the hill.  It was a bit muddy, but not slippery.  I passed a ton of people painstakingly pulling their way up the hill.

What goes up, must come down.  To get off that hill, we had to slide.  The other side of the hill was being sprayed by hoses.  They had it rigged so you could slow yourself down on a bale.  Of course, Jason slid all the way down.  Unfortunately, there was some gravel in that mud and he scraped up his side pretty good.  Once again, he was smiling while he did it.

Kristi and I at the top of the mud hill.  Do you see the “Avateam” behind us?  They were a fun bunch of people who ran near us the whole race.
There goes Kristi!

We had to climb up a big wall.  This was as big as the walls at the Camp Pendleton Mud Run, without the cute Marines to help us over.  There were a couple of spots that had slats out for foot holds, but it wasn’t a no-brainer. 

Another picture from Facebook.

We also had to climb a cargo net over a trailer.  I enjoyed this one too. 
04180015 04180016
Then we hit the first mud pit.    This mud was the gooeyist, deepest mud I have been in.  I have run three mud runs prior to this and this was the best mud of all of them.  The LA Mud Run had a couple of inches, tops.  The Camp Pendleton Mud Run’s mud smelled bad.  The San Diego Mud was good, but more watery.  This mud was hard to crawl through, got EVERYWHERE and was cold.  It was hard not to smile and laugh, but when you did, mud splashed in your mouth.  ICK.  It was the perfect mix of mud and water and I have to hand it to the race organizers for not using mud with much gravel.
04180019 04180021
The camera got covered in mud.  It was difficult to find a clean spot to wipe it off.
The final obstacle was going over several small hills and then a final mud pit.  The last hill was steep and super muddy.  Getting up it was nearly impossible.  I had to dig my fingers into the mud and pull myself up.  I finally found my way up to the top.  I braced myself and reached down for Kristi.  I helped pull her up while Jason pushed from below. 

The last thing to do was to run to the finish.  They had fire on either side of us.  The warmth felt good.  I would have rather jumped over fire, but it was still fun.  We ended the run holding hands and smiling.   Our little disposable camera was done, so we didn’t get an “after” picture until we got to the car.  We waited for a while for a picture in front of a green screen.  During the wait, our mud was drying and the temperature was dropping.  The best part of the wait was listening to a fun Ska band and chatting with other runners.
I was not wearing tights…my legs were just coated in mud.
The shower line was super long, so we changed our clothes in the parking lot and went home muddy.  It was actually good, because my kids got a kick out of seeing me so muddy.

In addition to such a fun run, the shirt is one of my favorite race shirts.  I have so many cotton race shirts that I never wear.  They are boxy, unflattering and boring.  The Gladiator shirts were in men’s or women’s styles, meaning that my shirt is cut for a woman and isn’t boxy.  It has a distressed look and is actually really cool.
This was an inaugural event and I was surprised how well it went.  They could have had more porta-potties.  There were complaints about the number of showers, but there are never enough showers at a muddy event.  I really have to give a shout out to Generic Events, the race production company.  They consistently put on great events.  

If I have to find anything negative about this race, I would say it was a bit on the expensive side.  I spent $65, which is really high for a three mile race.  The other thing is that I would have loved it to be longer!  There wasn’t much running. The last thing was that it was on the chilly side. We were wet and covered in mud and after a while I was COLD.  I know this has nothing to do with the race organization, but I can put it out there.   ;-)  Maybe they could have given us mylar blankets or something.

This race is scheduled to come back to Southern California in May.  I will definitely be signing up again.  I want to get a big group together and wear fun costumes.  Who’s with me??

Happy Running…

Friday, December 3, 2010

Dana Point Turkey Trot Race Report

I love Turkey Trots.  I ran my first one in 2008 and vowed to run a race every year on Thanksgiving.  The mood is festive; people are smiling and often in costume.  You get a huge sense of accomplishment, especially when you go for that piece of pie!  The Dana Point Turkey Trot is no exception.  It is a lot of fun and they offer a 10k, which is a bonus when many Thanksgiving races are 5K.  This was the second time running this race and it didn’t disappoint.

It was a chilly morning.  It was in the high thrities…BRRRRRR.  We were spending Thanksgiving with my inlaws again and they live just under a mile from the start line.  I ran down there and it was a nice warmup.  It was really cold and it felt good to get things moving.

I picked up my bib, shirt and goodie bag.  I was so glad that they had a bag check.  I wasn’t sure what I would do with my goodies if they didn’t have it.  As I waited to check my gear, I started regretting not bringing my own stuff from home to keep me warm.  It would have been nice to have a sweatshirt or something to check.  As it was, I was wearing a long sleeve shirt, capris (as my calves froze, I started to wish for my longer pants), arm warmers, a fleece vest and my trusty cheap Target gloves.  My outfit actually turned out to be just fine and by the end of the race, I had stashed my arm warmers and gloves in the back pocket of my vest.

After using the porta potty (with very short lines), I made my way to the start.  It was crowded, but I expected that.  Last year it was really packed and probably the most congested race I have run.  As I tried to make my way toward the front, I was stopped.  I was told that wave one was full and I would have to go with wave two.  No problem.  I would rather run in the front of wave two than the back of wave one.  I was thrilled that they started the runners in waves.  It was sort of random with no real signage or sense of organization, but I didn’t care.  It definitely cut down on the congestion of the race.  There is a spot in the first couple of miles that gets very narrow (it is split for returning runners).  It was really tough last year.  This year was so much better during that stretch.

I am always amazed how easy it is to run fast in the first few miles of a race.  When I try to run eight minute miles on my own, it feels like a Herculean effort.  In a race environment, it seems like the easiest thing in the world.  I was pleasantly surprised when I saw my first split comfortably under 8:00.  I had been fighting a nasty cold all week.  I skipped my runs on Tuesday and Wednesday because I was miserable.  I spent most of Tuesday on the couch.  Wednesday night, I was wondering if I could run the race the next morning.  As I cruised through this race, I wondered if I felt good because of adrenaline or if I had willed myself to be better.  If it was adrenaline alone, I would have felt worse later that day and I felt fine.  I honestly think I may have sweat it out during the race.

This is such a beautiful course.  It goes through Doheny State Beach and along the ocean towards Capistrano Beach.  We turn around and then head back to the Dana Point Harbor and go into the marina.  The course runs along a spit separating the harbor from the Pacific Ocean.  The only hills were on the bridge going over the harbor.  Did I mention there wasn’t a cloud in the sky?   
I felt pretty good throughout the race.  In the fifth mile, I started feeling a little tired, but I knew I was almost done and kept pushing.  I had an odd sensation going over the bridge the second time.  The sun was to my right, as well as the runners going into the harbor.  The shadows they made across my path made me dizzy!  I felt like I was on a treadmill or something.  I had to focus on the area ahead instead of the ground right in front of me or I started feeling a little disoriented.  Luckily, it is a short stretch and by the time I turned onto Harbor Drive, I was back to normal.

I didn’t pay all that much attention to my Garmin.  I looked down occasionally to make sure my splits were right around 8:00.  My goal was to break 50:00.  I should have paid closer attention.  I knew my splits were going to average under 8:00, however, I forgot about the inevitable extra mileage that I always run, especially on a crowded course with a lot of turns.  I wasn’t really looking at elapsed time.  Had I looked at that, I would have started my kick sooner.  I finished the race strong; I still had juice in the tank.  I remembered to stop my Garmin a few seconds after I crossed the finish line.  It said 50:03.  No!  Could I have stopped my Garmin 4 seconds after finishing?  It would be close.

I picked up my bag* and hung out a bit. I went to the results tent to see what my time really was.  I was hoping to see a 4 at the front of the number.  Alas, my time was 50:00!!!  One second?  That is all I needed to break 50:00??  So many things went through my head:  I could have started my kick earlier, I could have not walked those few steps at the water stop, I could have pushed it a little harder in the middle miles.  But the good news was that it was a PR! My last 10K on the 4th of July was 50:23  Twenty seconds isn’t a lot and the 4th of July race was a harder course, but I’ll take it!   A PR is a PR, especially when I didn’t really expect it.

I ran back to my inlaws’ house (making the total run a little over 8 miles) and spent the rest of the day with my family.  We went for a nice two mile walk down to the beach and enjoyed the beautiful day.  There was no wind and the surf was as calm as I had ever seen it.  It was still chilly (so we couldn’t take advantage of the lack of waves to swim), but it was super pleasant.  What a great way to spend Thanksgiving!

No, that isn't a lake or pond somewhere.  That is the beach mentioned in the Beach Boys' "Surfin' USA."  Not much surfing going on here.

Happy Running.

Time- 50:00
Overall: 743 out of 4049
Women- 170 out of 2228
F 40-44- 16 out of 311

*The bag check was better than Long Beach, but still not the best.  We had to wait a bit to get our bags, but most spirits were pretty high and runners were patient.  I think I recognized one of the girls as having worked at Long Beach.  If so, that girl is brave.  I made sure to smile and thank all the volunteers.  It would suck to volunteer on Thanksgiving only to be treated badly by impatient runners.  I am not sure why it took longer than it should.  I think, in this case at least, their space was pretty small.  Although the bags were clearly divided by bib number, it took a while to dig through each bin to find the correct number.  At races where the bag pickup went fast, they had the bags spread out more so you had fewer bags to look through to find a specific bag.  The Rock-n-Roll events organize by last name and then by bib number.


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