Monday, December 28, 2009

New mid-run snack

I have tried a lot of things to eat during long runs.  Most of the gels are way too sweet.  Most of the chews are, well.... too chewy.  I like Sport Beans, but since Costco stopped selling them, they are more difficult to find (not to mention more expensive now).

I have settled on two flavors of Gu.  I use the Just Plain and the Espresso Love flavors.  I usually eat Just Plain in the earlier miles and then the 2X caffeine Espresso Love later on.   With most of my runs, two is all I really need.  But now my runs are getting longer.  I need to eat more than two Gu's during runs over fifteen miles.   Frankly, eating more than a couple is NOT appealing.  Also, Gu is BORING.

I think I found some food that makes me smile during a run.  It isn't a "sport" food.  They don't have electrolytes or any other fancy stuff to help performance, but they are yummy and seem to give me a little boost, even if it is only mental.  I tried these for the first time on Sunday and will try again next week to make sure they work for me.

Yes... I am a big kid at heart.   :-)

Happy Running.

Trail blazing

I had two great trail runs this weekend.  Today's, seriously, kicked my ass, but I'll get to that in a bit.

Saturday morning, Kelly and I met to run the Santiago Creek Trail.  It had been a while since we had run it and we were both looking forward to it.  It was COLD* and it took a while to get in the groove.  I was tired from Christmas activities and woke up with a headache.  I'm glad I had arranged to meet Kelly, otherwise I think I would have opted to stay in bed.

The morning was beautiful, once we warmed up a bit.  We were soon struck how beautiful the creek was.  The trees even had some color, something we don't get a lot of around here.  In this picture you can see a good example of southern California foliage- colorful trees and cactus. 

We had a great run talking about everything from family to religion to travel.  It was just the kind of run I needed during this chaotic time.  We both have stressful things going on in our lives and it was nice just to run and chat.

When we were heading back towards our car, I wanted to add a little mileage and suggested we run over the dam.  The last time we had run here, the "lake" by the dam was completely dry.  Saturday, it was an actual lake.

We ran across the dam, where the path ended.  We could see another trail a few hundred feet away, on the other side of the hill.  We decided to see what that other trail was like, so we decided to blaze our own trail.  I snapped a picture of Kelly climbing up the hill.  It was a fun little adventure.

As we made our way down a steep bank and onto the trail we said good morning to a woman on her horse.  She asked if we saw the sign saying to stay on the trail.  Ummm... no?  She informed us that she was an off-duty ranger for the park and that we need to stay on the trails for our safety.  Uh oh.  She was very nice and scolded us in the nicest way.   As we ran off, we both laughed.  Of course, the one time we break the rules and do something rebellious, we get caught!   We still had fun.

We ended up running nine miles at a nice, easy pace.  I am glad we didn't go too hard, especially knowing now how my Sunday run would end up.

Sunday, I set out to complete the run I started last week and was cut short.  I had done a quick estimate that it would be approximately fifteen miles.  However, it is nearly impossible to measure the distance of the trails on Gmap or Mapmyrun., especially when they are single track through the hills.

It is about five miles (mostly uphill) to the trailhead.  Once I got past the steepest part, I settled in and relaxed.  I took a Gu right before I got off the streets and into the canyons.  As I ran in, I thought for a moment about the fact that I was running by myself.  I remembered seeing so many hikers, bikers and horseback riders the day before that I wasn't worried.  But this sign gave me pause**:

Holy CRAP.  I wondered if I looked like lion food in my long-sleeved pink compression top and black running tights.  I doubted it.  There were lots of tasty rabbits all through those hills.  Why would a lion want me?  It still made me nervous.  I ran into a couple other runners who assured me that the only people who get hurt by them are the ones that get too close to the dens, especially when there are cubs.  Those mamas are very protective.  I had no intention of searching out a lion's den during my run.

The trails were tough.  They were rutty and steep.  I admit that I had to walk a few times. I didn't get to fly going downhill because I really had to watch my footing.  But it was all still a lot of fun.

The weather had warmed up nicely and it was a gorgeous day.  It is hard to believe that there is still an expanse of wilderness in this area, so close to LA.***  Looking east, all you see is wilderness.  And all this is less than five miles from my house.

There were plenty of other people on the trails.  Hikers, bikers and runners enjoyed the gorgeous morning.  Three runners blew by my like I was standing still.   As I was running behind them, I noticed footprints in the loose dirt.  One set were bare footprints!  Wow, out here on this rocky trail?  It made me think of Born to Run and the fantastic runners in that book.   I looked ahead during one of the switchbacks and realized that none of the three runners were barefoot.   Then I looked more closely at the prints and there was tread on the bare ones.  Aha!  One of those guys was wearing Vibram Five Fingers!  Cool!   What a great place to feel the ground!   I wondered briefly if I would ever get the nerve up to wear something like that on a trail like this.  I was having enough trouble in my comfy trail shoes.  Who knows?

My plan was to run along the canyon and then cut back to the streets to head back to my house.  Once in the canyon, I rarely saw any houses.  The trails took me southeast away from the neighborhoods.  After a while, I knew that I needed to get back home.  I saw some homes and started taking trails that headed that way.  But the trails kept turning away from civilization.  There was no trail access from the homes I encountered.  At one point, I was ready to hop a fence and go through someone's backyard.  I climbed a hill to get a look at where the trails went and saw one with a nice wooden fence-- definitely part of a neighborhood path.  The only way to get there, however, was to go all the way around this little canyon.  It would add several miles.  I was starting to get tired.  I had been running for about twelve miles and knew I was several miles from home and didn't want to push it too hard.  Once again, I went off the trail and cut between trails.  This time, I stayed near the houses.  It was obvious that I wasn't the first to do this.

When I finally found an outlet from the canyon into a neighborhood, I had no idea where I was.  I had forgotten to charge both my Garmin and my phone the night before.  The Garmin ran out of juice just before I found pavement and my phone was pretty low.  I didn't want to risk using all my batteries to try to find Google Maps on my phone**** since I needed to call my husband to let him know where I was.  When I found a familiar street,  I realized I had gone further than I had thought.  Had I not blazed my own trail, I would have ended up further east and MUCH farther out of my way.

It turns out, I was about six miles from home.  That was a LONG six miles.  The trails had worn me out and I was tempted to call home and ask for a ride.  My kids were sick, so I really didn't want them to go out and about.  I would just tough it out.   Those six miles were very reminiscent of the last six miles of a marathon.  My legs were hurting all over.  I was tired.  I was almost out of water and had no more Gu or candy.  I just wanted to get home.

When I finally got to my neighborhood, I took the shortcut up some stairs to get home, rather than run around the block and up the hill.  It cuts off about a half a mile or more.  I realized later***** that I am only one mile from 1000 miles.   Had it been December 31, I don't know if I could have run that extra mile to reach that milestone.   I was that tired.  I had run 18.2 miles on a very difficult route. 

I made myself take an ice bath.  Brrrrrrrr..... NOT fun in 50 degree weather!  I am pretty sure it helped, however, since I don't feel too bad today.  I am more sore than usual, but I ran three miles further than my longest run so far this training cycle.

Overall mileage for the weekend: 27 miles!  
Overall mileage for the week: 43 miles!
Overall mileage for the month (so far): 135 miles!  That is a monthly mileage PR!

*Cold for us is in the high 30's and low 40's.  I know it isn't cold by standards of the rest of the country, but i definitely needed my gloves and a couple of layers.
** It read: Mountain lions may be found in this area.  They are important members of this natural environment.  Lions are quiet, secretive and seldom seen. Give them distance and respect.  RECENT SIGHTING 12/11/09."  
*** The picture looking toward the west makes me glad to be living in the hills to the east.  It was a beautiful clear day where I was... that haze in the distance is smog!
****I have only had my phone for a couple of weeks and still don't know all the applications.
*****Since my Garmin ran out of juice, I had to map out the rest of my run.  Luckily, the Garmin captured the trail portion of the run.  I had known that the batteries were low, so I didn't even turn it on until I reached the trailhead about five miles into the run.  I ran about seven miles in the canyon.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

1000 miles???

I have been reading a lot of blogs lately that have talked about mileage goals. The most common mileage goal seems to be 1000 miles. It struck me this morning that I have no idea what my total mileage for the year is. This is odd considering my obsession over feedback on my running (pace, distance etc.) I feel lost running without my Garmin and log each run diligently on Daily Mile.  The problem is that I didn't join Daily Mile until mid-April.  Prior to that, I didn't keep track of my runs in one place.

So... today I went through my old blog entries and my SportTracks for Garmin.  I didn't write about every run and I didn't have my Garmin every time, either*.  I am sure I missed a few runs, but none of any significant distance.  I put together a spreadsheet of my mileage.  It turns out that I can account for 966 miles!!!!  I am pretty happy with that, especially when I only ran 27 miles in all of September.

In looking at my overall mileage, I am surprised at how low my mileage was leading up to the marathon in May.  During my marathon training, I was fighting shin splints and did a lot of bike riding.  I ran 71 miles in March and 86 miles in April.  I didn't up my mileage until after my RRCA training in June.  I ran 124 miles in July while training for the AFC Half Marathon.

Hopefully, the rest of my runs this year end up better than this morning's run.  It started out so good.  It was a clear, brisk morning.  I had my gloves and hat and good tunes.  I was feeling good.  I ran the first few miles at a quick pace.  I turned up a very steep hill and powered up it, only walking for a little bit.  I ran down towards my house, thinking I would add another couple of miles in the area around my house. Right around four miles, my stomach started to hurt.  I was getting pretty good cramps and started feeling very "icky."  I really just needed a restroom, but the nearest one was at home.**  I ran another quarter mile or so and then walked the final quarter mile home, taking a shortcut back to the house.

In one week, I need to run 34 miles.  It is entirely possible, but not a foregone conclusion.  Wish me luck!

*Remember the unfortunate lost Garmin?  It wasn't gone long, but it is one example of why I didn't have it at times.
**In retrospect, I think I could have stopped at the gas station to use the restroom and kept going.  But I never even thought about it... I just wanted to get home.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Holidays and fitness

We are smack dab in the middle of "the holidays.*"   This is the biggest time for excuses when it comes to exercising.   I was talking to a friend a couple of weeks ago who is on a weight loss journey who said that her goal is to maintain or only gain a pound or two during the holidays.  I told her that she is setting her sights too low and that she shouldn't expect to fail.

There are a few tips to keeping on track during this busy time.

1) Have a Goal-
It needs to be a specific goal.  Stating that you will exercise during the holidays probably won't get you up in the dark or during a storm.  A race goal in January or February is a great way to get motivated during the holidays. Two years ago, I had thought about running my first half marathon in January.  I printed out a Higdon training plan and half-heartedly started training.  Excuse after excuse kept me from running.  I didn't even sign up for the race and so it was easy to let it go.  Last year and this year I signed up for my January races to keep myself on track.  Even simple goals like "run 20 miles per week" or "go to Pilates every Wednesday" is better than no goal at all.

2) Have a Plan-
A schedule is my way of making sure I get my mileage in.  The best way to get your exercise in during busy time is to make it a planned part of the day.  I know that right now if I ran when I felt like it or had time, I wouldn't do it at all.  I have to get up early to do it before my kids get up and my husband goes to work.

My plan is not set in stone, however.  I overslept a day last week and didn't have the time to get in a run before the activities of the day had to begin.  If my schedule didn't have wiggle room, it would have sent me into a tailspin of stress.  Instead I told myself I would just have to run another day.  If that didn't work out, I knew that it would all work out in the end.  If an exercise schedule causes stress, it is not doing the job it is meant to do.

3) Watch the Treats-
Duh, right?  This seems pretty obvious.  However, this time of year, holiday treats are EVERYWHERE.  When you have plates of Christmas cookies from the neighbors staring you in the face and you have five million things to do, it is so easy to have a lunch of shortbread and brownies instead of a salad or a pita.  Try to keep some easy meals on hand.  Even a Lean Cuisine or pre-made salad** will work for a quick grab during this chaotic week.

The good news is that the more you are exercising, the more you want the healthier food (most of the time), although this time of year that gets harder and harder.  I think that many diets have it backwards.  They start with the food and calorie counting and add the exercise as almost an afterthought.  If you focus on the exercise, you will find that you can't do it well if you are eating nothing but junk.  My friend Kelly had a pretty rough run on Saturday.  She realized that it was due to eating crappy all week and having several meals consisting of holiday treats.  She was really bummed because that long run is the only time all week she gets to herself and she ruined it by failing to fuel properly.  This week she is thinking about everything she eats and how it affects her long run, one of her favorite parts of the week.

But what about the parties?  The best way to keep from pigging out at a party is to eat a small, healthy meal before going.  One of the mistakes I make is not eating all day before some sort of event (because I am usually running around like a crazy person trying to find something to wear or cooking something to bring to the party).   If you aren't starving, you can pick and choose what you want to eat instead of shoving anything into your face.  It is ok to indulge a little.  I mean, what is the point of running hundreds of miles if you can't enjoy good food?  The key is moderation.

I hope that you all enjoy the next week or so.  I hope you are able to spend it with friends and family.  In all the chaos of the next couple of weeks, I hope you are able to squeeze in a little time for yourself to run, swim, ride, do some yoga etc.

Happy Running...

*I actually meant to write this post before Thanksgiving, but have barely had time to keep up on regular posting. Sorry these tips are so late in the season.
**Careful... some of those pre-made salads are loaded with fat and calories.

A quick post about a giveaway that ends tonight!

This looks like a great giveaway.  It is a signed copy of The Runner's Rule Book: Everything a Runner Needs to Know -- And Then Some.  

It is a book I have been meaning to pick up anyway, so it would be cool to win it!

Check out the giveaway on The Beginning Runner's Blog.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Another record week!

So much for the ten percent rule...I went from a mileage PR of forty miles two weeks ago to forty-seven miles last week!  I think I need to take it a little easier this week so I don't over do it.  But as I take an inventory of how I feel, I think I am recovering pretty well.

Here is a recap of the week:
Monday-  Six miles.  A nice run in the rain.  It was a hilly route and I took it easy.  It was my first inclement weather running in a while.  Since the hard stuff didn't come down until later in the day, it was quite enjoyable.
Tuesday-  Ten miles.  I usually don't get this long of a run in during the week, but I used my free time during preschool to make up for the lack of long runs over the weekend.

Wednesday- Rest.  I normally don't rest on Wednesdays, but I was feeling tired and starting to get a sore throat Tuesday night and didn't want to push it.  I feel like I did the right thing listening to my body.
Thursday- Five miles.
Friday- Rest.
Saturday- A nice run in the rain.  Kelly and I set off to run between ten and twelve miles.  We both had a deadline to be home.  Neither one of us got into a groove right away.  We met up with some of our running buddies and ran with them for a couple of miles before having to head back.  We ended up running ten miles.  I made it back around 8, showered, got the kids dressed and headed out to have breakfast with Santa.
Sunday- My husband had to work all weekend and had to be in very early on Sunday.  There was no way I was getting in a long run.  I asked my brother and sister-in-law if my kids could hang out with their cousin for a few hours.  They were happy to host a playdate for the cousins and I headed off along the Santa Ana River for a fifteen mile run.  It takes a village.

I already had a lot of miles for the week, but I had yet to do a real LONG run during this training cycle.  I wanted to push it past thirteen miles (my threshold between long runs and REALLY long runs).  It wasn't easy, but it was a nice run.   I spent the first hour or so listening to the end of an audiobook.*  After that, I just zoned out to some good music.

I wanted to test my fitness level a bit, so I decided to run a couple of miles at a quicker pace.  I did mile twelve at half-marathon race pace and mile thirteen at marathon race pace.  I miscalculated my route and hit a steep hill at the end of mile twelve.  Where I had hoped to run under 8:30, it ended up being closer to 8:35.  I felt pretty toast at the end of that mile pushing up that hill.  However, the next mile felt pretty easy and it ended up faster than marathon pace at 8:56.  The rest of the mile splits were between 9:30 and 10:00, which is right where I wanted to run.  I felt pretty good that my 44th and 45th miles of the week (and 22nd and 23rd of the weekend) could be pushed like that.

It was a good week.  This week, on the other hand, is starting out pretty slow.   But that's ok.  I know I'll make it up along the way.

Happy Running.

*I listened to Born To Run by Christopher McDougall.  AWESOME book.  I loved every minute of it.  I will probably be buying it in paperback, just to reread down the road.   I highly recommend this book.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Fall back week

Last week I didn't plan to have a fall back week, but I only ran twenty miles.  Like I have said before, sometimes life gets in the way.  You have to be able to embrace it.  I have no regrets, because we had a great weekend.*

It may have been a good thing.  The last few days I have felt pretty tired.  I might be fighting a virus or I might have been on the verge of over training.  I'm not going to worry too much about it.  Stressing out over my training schedule isn't going to prepare me better for the marathon in February.  I am going to move forward and try to run smart to get up to where I need to be.

By now, I should have run a sixteen mile run.   The longest run I have done (since the half marathon in August) is twelve.  Once again, this next weekend, life is getting in the way of my long run.  My husband has to work some pretty crazy hours over the weekend, which will make running nearly impossible.  I may see if my brother and his wife will have my kids over to play with their cousin for a few hours on Sunday so I can try to run fifteen or sixteen miles.  As a busy mom with an even busier husband, I need to fit in my runs where I can.

On a bright note... yesterday I was able to take advantage of both kids being in school and went for not one, but two runs.  I met some friends for an easy six mile run on the river trail.  It was a slow pace, but it was nice to run and chat.  It was relaxing.  Afterward, I still had forty minutes or so until I had to pick up my son so I decided to run four more miles at a more aggressive pace.  It felt good to run a bit faster after such a pleasant warm up.  I tried to keep my pace at or below 9:00.  The first mile was easy.  The second was a bit more work due to the fact that I was running on a soft shoulder of a street the day after a heavy rain.  Between dodging puddles and slogging through soft grass, my pace was 9:15.   Ironically, that mile is the flattest of the route.  The last two miles were a stead incline.  I worked hard to keep my pace up, rather than taking it easy like I normally do on hills during a casual run (as opposed to hill repeats).  I averaged 8:56 for the entire run.

So hopefully I'll be able to put in a decent amount of miles this week.   It will definitely be a balancing act.

*Disneyland was wonderful.  It was everything we had hoped it would be.  While I missed both my Saturday and Sunday runs because of weekend activities, we definitely were not sedentary.  There was a LOT of walking around Disneyland, so I did get some time on my feet.   It was worth missing half my mileage for the week.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Through the fog

This morning I woke to thick fog and the temperature in the mid forties.  Brrr...  I really don't know how people in cold climates do it.  I wore tights, a long sleeve tech shirt with arm warmers under it, gloves and a fleece vest.  I didn't go for the knit hat yet, just my trusty Nike running hat;  I think it needs to be a few degrees cooler for a knit hat.

Where last week I set a mileage PR, this week I'll be lucky to hit the mid thirties.  Life has a tendency to get in the way of training.  I have had to cut some runs short due to my husband's work schedule (in addition to my not getting out the door early enough).  I have to be back by seven in order to get our day started.  It is hard to get longer runs in with a deadline.  I am also missing my long Saturday run.  I am not complaining, however.  We are taking the kids to Disneyland!!  They have only been once three years ago and my daughter was only six months old.  At six and three, they are the perfect age for the Magic Kingdom.  All through the move, I had promised them that we would go.  My friend's son (my son's best friend) is turning six tomorrow and we are all going to celebrate with Mickey (and Jack Sparrow and Sleeping Beauty).

So I ran today, my regular rest day.  I ran six miles, which is a decent distance during the week for me, but it won't make up for the ten I would have run tomorrow.  I had done a lot of hills this week, so I ran down to the river trail, which is flat.  The fog was really eerie.  I could see the water and tons of ducks, geese, herons and egrets.  I couldn't see across it, so I couldn't even see the headlights from the freeway.  I could almost convince myself that the traffic noise was a distant waterfall.  The fog really helped me feel like I was escaping.  It was really relaxing.

I want to wish a bunch of runners good luck this weekend on marathons and half marathons.  If I forget someone, please forgive me!
AKA Alice-Las Vegas Rock-n-Roll Half
Irene-Las Vegas Rock-n-Roll Half
Jill-Las Vegas Rock-n-Roll Half
Jimmy-Las Vegas Rock-n-Roll Half (Jimmy has been coaching the Team Challenge group.  Yeah, Coach!!)
Kristen- California International Marathon (this is Kristen's first marathon!!  She is going to do great!)
Aron- California International Marathon (this may be Aron's Boston Qualifying run!!)
Danica- California International Marathon (this race qualifies her for the Marathon Maniacs!)
Gigi- Santa Barbara Marathon

Happy Running, everyone.  I'll be sure to tell Mickey hi!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A 40 mile week!!

I am pretty sure that last week was my highest running week ever.  I am pretty sure that my previous record was thirty-seven miles.  Ironically, I didn't do a significantly long run.  I probably could have run more on Sunday, but I really don't want to bump my overall mileage too much in one week.  I would hate to overtrain at this point.

I took it pretty easy early in the week.  I knew I was running a race on Thursday and wanted to be somewhat fresh.  I ran around four miles on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Between both races and my warm up and cool down, I ran close to eleven miles on Thursday.

After taking Friday off (as my normal rest day and to recover from Thanksgiving), I joined my friend Kelly and my new running buddies Rod and Steve for a run.  Kelly's schedule had her running ten miles, I think.  Mine said eight.  We ran twelve.  I wouldn't change a thing,  It was a great run into the hills east of here.  Rod had told us that they had seen a mountain lion up there once, so I was thankful to be running in a group.   The only wildlife we saw on Saturday were cows.  They startled me as I rounded a corner and saw a couple.   As a bunch of them started running, all I could think about was City Slickers, the stampede and Billy Crystal with a coffee grinder.

My running buddies.

Steve grabbed my camera so he could take some pictures of me.  He would run ahead and turn back to get pictures of us.  Fun!


This one is a bit blurry, but I love the setting.



It was a great run with great friends.  Kelly and I had planned on turning around at five miles to only do ten.  The guys wanted to run a full hour before turning around.  We were really enjoying ourselves and decided to run a bit further.  That's how our ten miler became a twelve miler.*

Sunday was supposed to be my long run.  I had fifteen on the schedule.  Like I mentioned above, I knew that I already had over thirty miles for the week.  In addition, the weekend of parties and family had taken it out of me.  The idea of getting up at 5 a.m. again was NOT appealing.  I like to get back early on Sundays so that Kenny has options for his day.  Also, my dad was in town and I wanted to spend some time with him.  I slept in and left after 8 a.m.  

I ran up to the Oak Canyon Nature Center, where I had gone with my dad and kids the day before.  It was a fantastic little canyon with great hiking trails.  I figured that they would be even better to run.  We had seen a ridge trail and the nice employee in the center told me that the upper ridge trail connected to the Walnut Canyon Reservoir   The trail was great.  It was a challenging single-track going up to the upper edge of the small canyon.  A steep trail with stairs went off to the left leading to the reservoir.   It was super windy up along the rim of the lake.  It was a nice, paved trail all around the lake.  There were a lot of walkers and runners around this two mile loop.   Once I finished the loop, I went back down the trail into the nature reserve.  I took the lower trail back to the entrance of the park for a nice variety. 

 Photo courtesy of Flikr  VLKT

The first part of my Sunday run was rough.  I felt like stopping on several occasions.  I was sluggish and tired.  I figured that holiday celebrating had taken its toll on me.  I actually considered cutting the run short before heading up the hill to the nature center.  I pushed on and by mile five or so, I was feeling good.  My last couple miles home were really strong.  I know I could have gone on for another hour, but I had promised my husband that I would be home by 10.  I ended up running nine miles and felt pretty good.

So that is my week in a nutshell.  I should probably write more often so that these things don't get quite so long.

Happy Running!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A 10K, a 5K-- trottin' turkeys, a PR and a wonderful day

My day started out as I woke up a 5:44, a half hour past my alarm.  Oops!  I had planned to leave at 6 for the Dana Point Turkey Trot, and I take a while to wake up.  I made up my Zip Fizz, got dressed and luckily my body "woke up" before I left the house.  My inlaws live less than a mile from the starting line.  It was so nice knowing that I could take my time and not worry about parking.

I left the house with my drink and my Luna Bar.  I immediately second guessed my wardrobe choice.  I was wearing a short-sleeved top, arm warmers and a running skirt*.  I debated going back for my gloves and changing into tights, but thought that it might warm up when the sun rose higher.  I was right and after a being pretty chilly before the race, I was perfectly dressed after all.  I jogged down to the starting area to warm up.

I was meeting my friends, who had my bib and chip.  They were registered for the 10K and I was registered for the 5K.  Unfortunately, by the time I was committed to register, the 10K was sold out.  This was their first 10K and Kelly was hoping to run it under an hour.  I decided that I would help her do just that**. 

We started out weaving through the crowds.  Kelly was understandably anxious to move around the other runners, but I warned her not to add too much distance by zigging and zagging and not to start out too fast. We would zip into an open spot, get into a groove and then come up on slower runners.  There were several walkers (and they surely didn't look like they were just stopping for a rest).  My question is: when there are two 5K races and a 10K race, why would you choose to walk in the 10K?  And why would you stay right in the middle?

The road got pretty narrow for a bit and it was pretty crowded.  We were running along the ocean (I really wished I had brought my camera!) and turned directly into the sun.  It was very difficult to see.  At one point I was just trying to focus on not running into the woman in front of me.  Suddenly... BAM... I ran into, and tripped over an orange cone.  OUCH.  It actually broke the skin on my shin.  I was lucky I didn't completely fall down and/or take out the previously mentioned woman in front of me.  It stung for a while, but it was just a flesh wound.  My shin is actually pretty bruised and sore right now.  That was some cone.

I kept a good eye on my Garmin and tried to keep Kelly from going too quickly.  We had a nice pace and she was actually able to chat at times.  It was hard keeping the pace consistent, however.  The course narrowed and widened and the crowds never really cleared.  I was keeping the commentary going, pointing out various things along the way (such as a bikini clad woman on a paddle board in the waterway)..  I know how it can be in your first big race, not paying attention to anything else but running.  It was absolutely gorgeous down there.  We ran by the ocean and through the harbor and marina.  I had a huge grin on my face.  We both commented on how much fun it was.  Kelly mentioned that she felt spoiled having her own personal pacer.

I checked in with her from time to time, making sure she was feeling ok.  For most of the race, she felt like she wanted to go a bit faster.  She was worried that she wouldn't finish under an hour.  I told her I would do whatever I could to get her there on time.  We picked it up just before the last mile.  I said to her, "you can do anything for nine minutes!  Push through to the end!"  In the final stretch, I could see the mile 6 sign and knew we would be making the one hour goal.  She said, "this isn't fun anymore."  "Yes it is," I came back with, "you are almost there!"  She asked me if we would make it under an hour.  I replied, "only if we hurry."  "Are you lying to me?"she asked.   I just smiled.  We sprinted in with a time of 59:20!!!***

I think she left it all out there.  She could barely celebrate at the end.  She was tired and thirsty (we ran right through the water stops).  I was so proud of her!  The good news is that when I saw her less than an hour later after my 5K, she looked great and was completely energized.

My official race was starting shortly after we finished.  I handed Kelly my sweaty arm warmers (ah, true friends) and went to the start area.  I wasn't sure how I would do in a 5K.  It really isn't my distance and I have only run two 5K's in the past.  I couldn't even remember what my PR was.  I knew I wanted  to run something in the 24's, but after a decent 10K and a crowded field, I wasn't sure how I good a pace I could keep up..  As the gun went off and we started moving, my phone, that had stayed snugly in the pocket of my running skirt during the past 6+ miles, fell out.  A runner handed it to me.  A hundred yards past the start, it did it again.  Grrrrr....  Forgetting about the option of sticking it in my bra, I decided to hold it.  I also came to terms with the fact that I probably wouldn't PR (stopping and going back to get a fallen phone is not conducive to a good time).

That first mile felt even more crowded than the first race.  I think because I started about halfway back, I was with a lot of walkers and strollers.  I felt like I was passing people like crazy and doing quite a bit of weaving.  My number one goal for the race was to run it under 8-minute miles****.  Unfortunately, the first mile was quite a bit over that (8:20) due to the crowd (and the few seconds of phone retrieval).  I was able to pick up the pace in the second mile.  By the last mile, I was hurting.  Right around the spot where Kelly announced that she wasn't having fun anymore, I felt exactly the same thing.  I stopped marveling at the scenery and wanted to finish it.  I pushed as hard as I could.

I finished and stopped my Garmin, which said 25:15 (I think my time was a few seconds faster than this).  I was a little bummed.  I really wanted to finish under 25 minutes.  I had it in my head that my PR was 24 and change.  When I got home and looked it up, I discovered that my PR from last Thanksgiving was 25:33.  I PR'd after a 10K warmup!!!!!   Where I was ok with my performance immediately after the race because I knew I ran strong, I am delighted now, knowing that I PR'd while running my seventh, eighth and ninth miles!!  After checking out the results***** I am excited to say that I broke the top ten for my age group!!

After meeting back up with my friends, I jogged back to my inlaws' to spend the rest of the day with my family.  Ten quality miles in before breakfast, you can't beat that!  You know, living in Southern California doesn't suck.  I ran a gorgeous sunny course along the ocean and marina and then took my kids swimming.  It was over 80 degrees by the afternoon.  


*it happens to be the same outfit I wore at the Carlsbad Half Marathon where I had my best race ever.
**Please note that I am not really in favor of running as a "bandit." However, I was perfectly willing to pay my fee and help the cause; they just wouldn't let me. I knew I wouldn't get an official time, so helping my friend would be a fun way to get a longer run in.

***10K splits (per the Garmin):
1- 10:07
2- 9:09
3- 9:41
4- 9:29
5- 9:29
6- 8:42
.34 (we weaved a lot and didn't do great at the tangents)- 2.47 (8:13 pace)

****5K splits (per the Garmin)
1- 8:22
2- 7:44
3- 7:49
.18 (I was a bit better with the tangents, but still had quite a bit of weaving)- 1:19 (7:12 pace)

gun time- 26:12
chip time-25:10
overall- 265 out of  2560
female- 45 out of 2560
female 40-44- 10 out of 180

Monday, November 16, 2009

What do I have to prove?

Upon hearing that I signed up for another marathon, one of my friends asked another friend, "what does she have to prove?"*  Hmmm.... what DO I have to prove?  Honestly, I don't know.  Once I have done one marathon, why do I need to do more and more?

Well, let's look at that question.  I find that I need a training plan to help motivate me to get out there and run.  Running makes me feel good.  Healthy.  Alive.  It is too easy to sleep in every day and say I'll exercise tomorrow.  When I have a race on the horizon, I have a schedule and I have a plan on what I should be running.  It works for me.

So why not a half marathon or 10K?  Well, I guess I am a bit of an overachiever.  I like to push myself.  It gives me a certain pleasure to accomplish something that not too many people can do (or would even attempt).  I'm too cautious to climb Mt. Everest--besides... who has that kind of extra money, time and craziness lying around?  I'm not saying that a half marathon isn't pushing myself.  It is.  But there is something about the marathon that draws me.

Being a runner has become as much a part of my identity as being a mom.  I used to be an executive.  I had a powerful job in a pretty tough industry and I was proud of my position.  I traded all that to be a full-time mom (a decision I have never regretted).  As wonderful as it is to have that as an identity, I didn't really feel completely satisfied in this new role until I also became a runner.  A running mom.  And I am in very good company.  There are a lot of running moms out there and every time I meet one, we automatically seem to connect.  We have so much in common and have other things to talk about besides diapers, preschools and timeouts. Now, not only am I a runner, but I am a marathoner.  A year or so ago, my sister introduced me to someone by saying, "this is my sister... she runs marathons."  At the time, I had only run one marathon.  But I liked the sound of someone who "runs marathons."  It made me feel pretty  proud.  Now I really am someone who runs marathons.  Go me.

And honestly... I do need to prove something to myself.  I know what my body can do and it hasn't done it in either marathon I have run.  I ran a twenty-two mile training run averaging around 9-minute miles, but was wiped out by mile 13 on race day after running the same pace.  This is not as much a physical test any more.  It is a mental one.  I need to run smart and stick to my race plan.  I am looking at Surf City as redemption for me.  My first two marathons had my number; they owned me.  I am hoping that this next one I can run on my terms.  I am going to be more conservative with my expectations and goals.  I also think I have a better training plan.  My mileage per week is significantly higher than it was before the Rock-n-Roll.  I hope that this does a lot to improve my ability get to the finish line stronger and faster than before.  What I really want is to have FUN.

What?  Fun in a marathon?  Never.  But I know it is possible.  I have had fun on twenty mile runs, why can't I at least have fun for twenty miles of a marathon?  I recently started following a blogger, Danica,  who lives in this area.  Ironically, she had a miserable time in the Rock-n-Roll as well.  She had her redemption last month in Long Beach and her race report is my inspiration for Surf City.   I WILL smile throughout the race, just like I did during the Carlsbad Half Marathon last year.

So what do I have to prove?  I'm pretty sure that I have proven that I am a runner.  I've proven that I am a marathoner.  By continuing to run marathons, I continually prove to myself that I CAN.

On the running front, I ran 36 miles last week.  I ended my week with not one, but two long runs.  On Saturday, I ran ten miles with my new running friends.  I had originally scheduled eight miles on Saturdays in order to run with them.  Then, I talked them into running a half marathon in January and wrote them a training plan to get them there.  What that means is that they are going to be running a lot more than eight miles, but not enough to keep up with my long runs, which means two long runs.  Too bad there is not a Goofy challenge** around here, because I am training for one!  Our ten mile run had quite a few hills, so we kept the pace pretty easy.  That was good, since I had an even longer run on the schedule for Sunday.

I had originally had fourteen miles on my schedule, but I thought that might be too aggressive in my second week of high mileage running.  I decided to run twelve.  The first nine miles were pretty flat (with some easy inclines/declines along the way).  I kept my pace at a nice easy pace.  I have been listening to books on tape on my long runs, which keeps me nice and slow.  The last few miles were pretty steep.  I found a nice shady horse trail that cut up through a neighborhood.  I am really starting to enjoy running around here.  When living in San Diego, I had to drive to many of the cool running places.  Here, I can get to cool routes right out my front door.  I think next week I might run with a camera to prove that inland Orange County is a pretty place to run! 

I ran twenty-two miles over two days and I was ready to rest today and sleep in past 5:30 a.m.  Back to the dawn patrol tomorrow.  I'm looking forward to a nice easy recovery run to start out another week of running.

* After reading some of the comments, I wanted to clarify that this particular friend said this in jest and with plenty of love and respect.  I'm pretty sure she does get it, but the comment did spark a thought process in me... hence this post.

**running a half marathon on one day and then a full marathon the next.

Monday, November 9, 2009

World Run Day

Yesterday was World Run Day and I ran.  I actually didn't find out about World Run Day until after I finished my run.  It is still nice to know that there were a lot of people throughout the world running at the same time as me, many of whom raised money for charity.

I have incorporated two running days on weekends into my newest training schedule.  My new friends aren't training for a marathon, so won't be running the longer runs with me, but I still want to run with them.  We usually do trail runs together, which is great for my Catalina training.  Our runs are not super hard, but definitely not easy.  We are also starting to do middle distances (9-12 miles).  The coach in me says not to do two hard workouts in a row, but I think it is going to work out nicely as long as I don't push it too much on either day.

My Saturday runs are my most fun runs of the week.  This week Kelly, Heidi and I went to the Santiago Creek Trail a couple of miles from my house.  Penny, they definitely allow dogs and the hills aren't too bad, you should try that area next (it actually connects to Weir Canyon).  We ran the trails to another nearby regional park* and then around that park.  We were going to explore the trails leading to Irvine Lake, but Kelly is fighting some tendonitis in her foot and we didn't want it to get worse by adding too much mileage on uneven ground.   I'm looking forward to next Saturday already!

I don't look forward to my long runs as much as I do the Saturday runs, but I am meeting more and more runners around here and I think I'll be able to set up "running dates" by the time my runs get super long.  The woman I met while looking for a place to live is now my facebook friend.  After she is recovered from Ironman Arizona, we are going to try to do some long runs together.  She is running Surf City also.

Yesterday was my long run.  I ran the opposite direction of the loop I did a few weeks ago, which ended with a hellacious hill.  I began with the hill, which is much more gradual from this new direction.  It went down steeply and turned toward the river.  I felt ok, but stopped a couple of times.  I usually drink and eat Gu on the run, but yesterday I stopped to do it.  I used stoplights to rest (instead of running in place).  I was pretty tired.  I'm sure that it had something to do with the nine mile trail run the day before.  Hopefully, I am teaching my body to perform on tired legs.  I still finished 11.25 miles with a decent training pace.  I was definitely ready for my rest day today, but I felt fine.  I am looking forward to a nice, easy run tomorrow to start a new week.

Happy Running!

*The regional park system in Orange County is great.  There is a ton of preserved wilderness.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Into the light...

The past week or so has been a pretty darn good for running.  The biggest change has been the time.  It has been SO nice to get up in the mornings and start running as the sun starts to rise, rather than in complete darkness.  It makes a surprising difference in my outlook.  Yesterday, I was able to find a great trail between the park and the high school for some intense hill repeats.  I never would have run back there in the dark.

I finally feel like I am back in the groove.  I have a training plan I like and my legs have that constant feeling of just a little soreness.  You know that feeling?  The good soreness after a good workout.  It feels like a perfect balance of working hard enough to get stronger without getting injured.  Yesterday's hill repeats were hard and was definitely feeling it going up the stairs.  Today's run felt a bit full of lead, but afterward I had that delicious soreness.  I love it!

There area couple of things that marred this great running week.  The first was finding out that my friend is injured and can't run.  We were going to run the Santa Barbara Half Marathon next weekend.  I am bummed because it would be the first time that she and I would be running together.  I feel horrible for her because I know that not being able to run is killing her.  This was to be her first half marathon.  She is already a triathlon stud, so I suspected that she would have given me quite a run for my money to keep up with her.  I am not running the race; I can't see doing it without her.  There will be plenty of other races.

The other thing was finding out that the Carlsbad Half Marathon is sold out.  That was my favorite race and my half marathon PR.  Last year it sold out in early December.  I never would have guessed that it would sell out the last week of October.  I am sure that I can find a bib on Craigslist or the Carlsbad Half Marathon facebook page,* but then I have to pay a twenty dollar transfer fee, in addition to a somewhat high priced race fee.  I am already spending a lot of money on race fees with two marathons on the horizon.  In addition, I seemed to have moved to a racing mecca**.  I know that I am going to be spending more money in race fees.  I feel bad because so many of my Rockin' Mamas are running it.  The AFC race was so much fun and I would love to hang with everyone again.  I almost feel like I am letting them down.

Despite a few bits of bad news, I feel like things are so much better than they were a month ago.  I feel like I have left a period of darkness and it is gradually getting lighter and lighter.

*There are already several dozen requests for bibs on the page.  It seems to be an incredibly popular race this year.  I bet they could have sold out a race double the size.
**The Greater Los Angeles area.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Another marathon?

You betcha! The question is which one (s).

I am 90% committed to the Catalina Marathon on March 13. My friend has signed up for it as her first marathon and I had mentioned to her that if she did it, I would do it with her. It is definitely one up there on my list of races to run. It is mostly off road with spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and a herd of bison. If is incredibly hilly and difficult. The winner usually comes in around three hours. MarathonGuide suggests counting on a finish time around an hour (or more) slower than a road marathon. A good percentage of runners come back and do this race again and again.

The big question is whether or not to run the Surf City Marathon a month before. If I do it, I should use it as a training run. But can I run a marathon without trying to PR or go for that elusive sub-four hour finish? If I run it all out, I doubt I'll recover enough to make a decent showing in Catalina. Surf City is on the beach and close to my house. It seems like a great race to do. They have a half marathon option, but I'd really like to do the full. I am thinking about signing up for the full and then I could switch it to the half if I need to.

I am in the process of writing up a training plan. I have already added hill repeats once a week. Yesterday, I found the perfect place for training runs.* My new running friends took me there. We did a great eleven mile run that started out on a bike path along the river and then headed up into the hills. We ran on fire roads that had some steep spots, just like Catalina.

So I am officially back into training mode and very excited about it. Anyone joining me??

*Although I am not sure how often I could run there by myself, since I heard rumors that there might be mountain lions in the hills.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Running IS a lot like life

I have often read different blogs comparing running and life. Lately, I have keenly felt the comparison. The other day , I was running from my house down past the schools. I felt completely in a groove; running felt effortless. Then the road flattened out and the run felt tougher. I hadn't even realized I was running downhill until it flattened out.

It hit me that one minute you're cruising along in life and everything is good and then it levels out and it seems just that much harder. Even when life is going along without too many ups and downs, it can seem tough, especially after a particularly easy time (i.e. vacation).

Once you get your rhythm on the flats, you eventually hit the uphill (because what goes down must come up). We all know how hard the hills can be. Your legs burn, your lungs burn. All you really want to do is turn around or stop completely. And hills, up or down, really work those leg muscles.

Often, when you run up hills, as much as it hurts, there is a certain kind of satisfaction in getting to the top. You climb and climb and the feeling when you crest the top is sometimes even euphoric. One of my favorite races was the La Jolla Half Marathon, which is known for its hilly course, in particular, the Torrey Pines hill. When I reached the top of Torrey Pines, I let out a cheer with other runners around me. I heard of one runner, on the other hand, who hailed the ditch bus as soon as she reached the top. It was all too much. For me, I am very proud of that race and how well I did on the hills. I am proud of the metaphorical hills I have climbed in life, as well. Getting my Master's Degree, climbing the corporate ladder and motherhood are examples of some of the hills in my life that I am proud of.

Sometimes, however, there are hills that are really, really tough. When you get to the top, you don't feel pride, you just feel relief. There is no ditch bus and there is no one you can call to pick you up. I found such a hill Sunday. I started running up the hill thinking, "holy cow... this is one steep hill." I thought the top was at the next traffic light. When I got to the light, it leveled for that street and then headed up again. It seemed to have no end! When I finally reached the top and was able to run downhill, there was no "groove" or fun in the run. I just needed to put one foot in front of the other to make it home. When the road headed up again, it was tougher than before. The hill wouldn't have been so hard if I hadn't just run over seven miles (most of which were flat or gradual uphill). The good news is that I did make it home and was no worse for the wear afterward.

That is how my life has seemed for much of this year. My family has struggled quite a bit. Just when we thought that things were leveling off, the road continued upward. It didn't seem to have an end. When the hard part ended, I didn't feel triumph, only relief. There was no payoff of a downhill section, just a leveling off of the road. And now I move forward tentatively... waiting for that next hill to take the wind out of my sails.

Throughout my life, I have had long stretches of downhill and flat terrain. An occasionally roller only helps you to get the momentum for the downhills. My very favorite race was the Carlsbad Half Marathon (which happens to be my PR). It is not super flat, but a series of rollers. In that race, the uphill portions didn't slow me down. In fact, they helped my determination and focus. The downhills gave me "free speed." Short downhills are actually easier than the long ones-- they don't kill your quads. I hope that this next chapter of my life is full of rolling hills, just like that race. It keeps the scenery changing and the run more fun.

May you all have a life of gentle rolling hills with some fun "free speed" along the way. *wink*

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Good weekend of running*

Other than a bit of jello legs at the end of ten miles on Sunday, I have no complaints about my running weekend.

The mom I met at my son's school called me and arranged to pick me up for the run Saturday morning. They were running a trail run nearby and the directions were a bit tricky. She and her sister picked me up and we met a third member of the group at the trail head. It was a fantastic trail run through a little canyon, up to a dam that overlooked a gorgeous valley/canyon. We spent a lot of time navigating (they hadn't spent a lot of time on this trail) and deciding where to go. That's ok. I enjoyed taking it easy and getting to know them. I think we ended up going around four miles. We made plans to run the same trails next weekend without as much stopping to navigate. I didn't mind the relaxed pace and stopping at all. It isa lot of fun running trails with other people. I was just starting to walk/run with Jen up Cowles Mountain and really enjoying it. I am glad to pick up the trail running up here.

Since I didn't get a very long run in, I decide to run again Sunday morning. I was determined to run ten miles, although the longest I had run since AFC was nine miles a week or two afterward. I am supposed to pace a friend in a half marathon in a few weeks and I wanted to make sure I can even finish. At this point, I just want to be able to run it with her. I don't know how good I'll be at pacing with my lack of training, but I am going to try my best. I am just excited to finally be running with her.

Sunday's run was nice. It was a bit foggy when I started, which made things pretty humid once they warmed up a bit. I ran down to the river and headed east. I felt pretty good. I felt like I was getting into a groove. Around mile 7, I wanted to see if I could pick it up a bit. I ran the eighth mile in 8:39. Yeah! It was around that time that I had to head away from the river and back up to my house. The key word here is up. Oops. I didn't leave much in the tank for an uphill return to my neighborhood. As I started up the road, I started noticing my knees hurting and my legs feeling pretty heavy.

The good news is that even though it was tough, I was able to run those last two uphill miles under ten minutes each. I was really worked by the time I got home. I think that eight miles would have been more appropriate, considering the amount of running I have been doing. But I am glad I did ten. I know that I will be able to run that half marathon in Santa Barbara on November 8. I may not be speedy, but I should have a respectable time.

Next weekend should be more of the same-- a fun trail run on Saturday and a longer run on Sunday. Life is good.

* I know, I know... the weekend was DAYS ago

Friday, October 16, 2009

New Chapter

I'm Back, Baby!!

We are finally somewhat settled. We are living among a sea of endless boxes that seem impossible to empty with a three and six year old around. However, we are here and starting to figure out the area and feel at home.

I have run a few times. Unfortunately, I have slept through my alarm more than I have woken to it. I think the stress of moving has taken its toll and I crash at night. The running has been good, however. It isn't super easy since we moved to an area called Anaheim HILLS*. The name rings true. But just outside our neighborhood is a nice park with a quarter mile loop around it. About a mile from our house is the Santa Ana River. That is definitely my favorite place to run so far.

I ran at the river this morning. It was a beautiful morning. It was clear and much dryer and warmer than it has been (although there was still a lingering mist). Once I got to the river, I headed east**. The sun was coming up and the moon was brand new with Venus off to the side. It was so peaceful running at dawn like that. The river is actually really pretty. There were plenty of herons, egrets and ducks. It is actually an odd sight to see a teeming estuary and then mere yards away from the other side is the 91 freeway, full of traffic heading into Los Angeles. I can't believe how busy that freeway is at 6:30 in the morning!

I think that life is going to start seeming pretty darn normal soon. Today I met a mom at the school who runs with a small group. She invited me to join them! I am very excited about that. All in all, things are working out well.

I will start getting back to commenting on your blogs. I don't spend a lot of time on the computer these days. Can Google Reader explode with too many unread posts? I am nearing 1000 unread posts. YIKES! Please don't hate me if I don't get a chance to read some of your old posts. I have read some of them here and there, but haven't really done any commenting.

*For those of you familiar with Southern California or Disneyland, we do live in the city of Mickey Mouse. Since we are in the hills of Anaheim, we are close enough to hear the fireworks from the Magical Kingdom. We'd have to climb out on the roof to see them, but it is nice to know it is relatively close by. We haven't gone yet, but I think a Disney pass is in my future. Yippee!!
**If you head west on the river path and run twenty miles, you hit the ocean.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Serendipity: is the effect by which one accidentally discovers something fortunate, especially while looking for something entirely unrelated.

As many of you know, my life has been quite chaotic lately. I'm a single mom during the week while my husband is working two hours north. I have had to rent out our house and get it ready for the tenants to move in. I recently discovered that finding a place to rent is not that easy and I made two trips to our new stomping grounds to secure a home for our family so we don't have to live out of our cars.

Through all of this, I am sad to leave a city I love, incredible friends and a newly formed running group (of said friends) . The idea of starting over socially is just as scary as anything else. Enter serendipity.

I was checking out a condo to possibly rent and met a woman who is an Ironman alum!! When I pulled up to the condo and saw a woman in a tech shirt, running shoes and shorts and a visor, I knew I was dealing with good people. She and I spent more time talking about running, biking and swimming than we did lease terms and square footage. We seem to run about the same pace (her half marathon PR is very similar to mine). When I asked her if she ran with a group, she said no. The gears started turning. She talked about a twenty mile run that goes from Yorba Linda (where we are moving) to the beach along the Santa Ana River. She has always wanted to do it, but didn't want to do it by herself. I practically jumped up and down and squealed, "I will! I will!" As a matter of fact, as I think back, I may have actually done that.

We have exchanged information and have tentatively planned to go on a run together. It may seem like a little thing, but after the last couple of weeks, meeting a potential running partner is HUGE.

I think my life is starting to fall into place. We are moving this weekend and then I can start on the next chapter of my life.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


I'm feeling a little mojo!! All I needed was a non-run run.

I met my friend, Jen, this morning to hike up Cowles Mountain, a local peak that has a 1.5 mile steep trail to the top. She and I set off at a nice brisk pace. Our goal was not to go on a leisurely hike, but to get a good workout. I was sweaty, but felt great. It is getting hotter again here, but not unbearably so. She and I chatted the entire time, working our lungs quite a bit.

At the top, we stopped for a minute or two and admired the view smog. SMOG??? This is San Diego... where is smog coming from? At least the air was clean at the top of Cowles.

We sipped on some water and headed back down. We ran down. And oh what a feeling. It was a great run. My quads feel it, but in a really good way. We chatted some more and watched our step. It reminded me how much I want to do more trail running. I think I could have run up it (most of it anyway), but I really enjoyed the brisk walking instead.

No Garmin. No watch. Just great company and a fun workout. We're doing it again next week!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Biggest Loser is Back!

I am a huge fan of The Biggest Loser and am excited that it is back for another season. There is something about that show that I love. It is so inspiring. On one hand, I can't believe that these people let themselves get to where they are. On the other hand, they lose amazing amounts of weight by learning how to make good choices with food and exercise. They change their lives. Is the Biggest Loser situation realistic? Not at all. People in the real world don't get to exercise hours and hours a day. But they learn how to exercise and learn what their bodies can do. I know that several previous Biggest Loser contestants have gained their weight back, but many have kept it off. Isn't that what it is all about?

As much as I love Jillian Michaels, I have a HUGE beef with her (or at least her organization). I was looking for something on her website (I LOVE her workouts) and out of curiosity clicked on the "free weight loss plan." Just so you know, I do NOT want to lose weight. I filled out the questionnaire honestly with my current weight and physical activity (5'6", 117 pounds*, working out 4-6 days a week) The "free" weight loss guide was a bunch of common sense stuff. The website then prompted me to sign up for her paid program. WHAT?? They will take my money to help me reach my ridiculous and ficticious goal weight of 110 pounds???!! That is actually criminal. I am so disappointed that there are fitness professionals out there helping 5'6" women try to reach 110 pounds or less. Why would you assist someone with a BMI under 19 to lose more weight??

I'm all for making money for helping people get fit, but there should be a limit. It should be about helping people get healthy.

On the running front... well, there is no running front. I haven't run since labor day. I'm just going to focus on what is going on in my life and worry about the running later. I'll probably go for an easy run this weekend. Tomorrow I am going on a brisk hike up Cowles Mountain with my friend. Maybe we'll even run a bit. I have decided not to stress.

To jump start my motivation, however, I am seriously considering running the P.F. Chang's Rock-n-Roll Marathon in January. I'm going to start the training on October 1st.

*I am actually a little shorter than 5'6" and don't usually weigh myself, but figure I am between 115 and 120.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Oz Runner is hosting a birthday giveaway with a few cool things in his prize package. Hurry... today is the last day!

Tall Mom on the Run
also has a giveaway. She is giving away a gift certificate for some great running jewelry/accessories. This woman always has fantastic giveaways. I don't know how she does it!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I want my mojo back...

It is a good thing that I didn't take up running this month because I don't think I would have stuck with it. I am getting out for runs (albeit very few of them) because I think I should rather because I really want to. I am afraid of losing my running completely, so I am running. Running has been my escape and my "me" time. But not lately. Where did my love of running go?? Where is that runner's high??

I went out for a run on Monday*. I was going to get up early, but slept in**. I didn't get down to the the bay/beach until 9 a.m. Thankfully, our weather has cooled off considerably. It would have been even nicer a couple of hours earlier. I was hoping to have a great run. Maybe my expectations were too high. It wasn't as though it was a bad run. In fact, my pace was pretty good--9:06 average. I ran the fourth mile in 8:06 and the two miles after that under 9 minutes. The rest were closer to 9:30. Those splits should make me happy. I was hoping to have an effortless run. Do those even exist?

I think that since I am only getting one real quality run a week, I am trying to put too much into it. I think I would have had more fun if I would have just run a nice easy pace. Why do I insist on going so much faster than my training pace and throwing in tempo miles and feeling spent? Next week I really need to slow down and enjoy myself.

There are a few things going on that are affecting my runs. Actually, my lack of runs might be affecting those things. It is like the chicken and the egg. I haven't been eating well. The more I run, the better I eat. But the crappier I eat, the less I want to run. See the cycle? It doesn't help that I am not making "grown up" food for dinner. Most of the time, I make something for the kids that I know they'll eat and I just snack. Also, I am getting back into a dangerous soda habit. When I am running four or five days a week, I don't drink (much) soda. These days, I'm drinking way too much. So am I having crappy runs because I am eating/drinking crap? Or am I eating/drinking crap because of a lack of quality runs?

Unfortunately, right now I can't increase the amount of time spent running due to the fact that my husband is working two hours away. One quality run a week is all I can really count on. I can usually squeeze in a second run during the week. That should be tomorrow, but I have a garage sale to get ready for and a potential renter coming to look at my house. I need my precious hours without the kids to get stuff done.

I want to get some fun back into my running. So until I move north and establish a new routine, I am going to slow down and enjoy San Diego. Several of my friends have asked about group runs. I stopped doing them after we stopped training for the half marathon. I really enjoyed them as I know the other women did. I am going to try to set something up for this weekend. It will accomplish a couple of goals: spend quality time with my friends, make sure I get up and out early (before it gets hot) and slow down and relax while running.

Once we move*** I will start training for a race. I have a November half marathon where I am pacing a friend and the Ragnar relay in February. I am also seriously considering P.F. Chang's Rock-N-Roll Arizona in January, Carlsbad Half Marathon in January and Surf City Half Marathon in February. Training for a race gives me focus. Maybe some focus is what I need right now.

*I didn't go for my normal Sunday run because it was my son's 6th birthday and I love being there when he wakes up. It is so exciting to wake up and be a year older!
**The birthday celebration the evening before took it out of me.
***I wish I knew when that will be. We are trying to rent out our house and minimize paying double. Living in limbo is tough.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

a week of very little running...

It was week three of being a single mom. Kenny is staying with his parents and working in Orange County, coming home on Friday nights. I'm not going to lie... these weeks have been LONG weeks. I have a renewed respect for single moms.

The only time I might find to run is when both kids are in school. I can't run before 9 a.m. Because I am not training for a specific race right now, my midweek runs are falling lower on the priority list. I have a TON of stuff to get done during the week to get ready to move. In addition to that, we have had record heat this week. I had considered taking the kids to the track one evening, but it has been over 100 until after dark. No thank you. So I only ran once this week.

I went out for an easy five miler. It was over 80 when I started and well into the 90's when I finished. Thankfully, the humidity has been a bit lower (which means no clouds in the morning and a bright, hot sun). I didn't have a goal pace, but wanted to run a nice easy pace that was a bit faster than my "training" pace. I settled nicely into a pace of just under 9:30. It started feeling pretty tough toward the end. I was sweating a LOT. When I returned to my car and saw 100 on the temperature gauge, I understood why it was so tough.

I am looking forward to a nice run tomorrow. I can go early to beat the heat and take my time, giving Daddy plenty of quality time with the kids.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

End of Summer Fire Run-- Race Report

This was a somewhat spur-of-the-moment race for me. I was on Facebook and saw an ad for this race. I thought, "hmmm...that might be a nice way to follow up the half marathon." I didn't run once all week, so I definitely wanted to run somewhere. I e-mailed the Rockin' Mamas to see if anyone wanted to join me. I thought it would be fun to run the four mile point-to-point race and run back to my car afterward for a total of eight miles.

Heather decided to join me. We discussed whether we should run four miles before the race. I was really tired last night and didn't really feel like getting up earlier than I had to. I had to get to the race early enough to register, so we would have to start running around 6 or so. Nope. We decided to start with the race and run the additional miles afterward. Unfortunately, Heather woke up this morning still suffering from her cold she had all week and decided not to run. So I headed off this morning by myself. I was still looking forward to it.

I arrived in La Jolla around 6:30 or so. Since the race didn't start until 8, parking was a breeze. There were no lines at registration and I was ready to go well over an hour before the race. While I was filling out my registration card, I looked up and saw AKA Alice filling out her registration. We're starting to run into each other more often now.

I decided to run a warm up mile or so. Lately, I have had a tough time getting into a groove early on in a run. I was able to warm up nicely. I did it at around an 8:40 pace. It felt relaxed. I knew that I could push it during the race.

I ran into AKA Alice again, as well as Irene. We all chatted for a half an hour or more while people gathered near the start. It was great to finally meet Irene after reading her blog for a while. I was able to meet her friend, Rich, and the Heffers. There was a nice mood among the runners. It was obviously a casual and fun race. Nobody seemed super amped up to compete (although I am sure plenty did).

I started out feeling pretty good. I had a couple finish goals in the back of my head as I ran. My lofty (and perhaps out of reach) goal was to break thirty minutes. My more realistic goal was to finish under thirty two. My first mile was 7:30 and I still felt OK, so I thought the thirty minute goal was in reach.

Unfortunately, I felt thirsty around a half mile into the race. I had opted not to carry my handheld since it was only a four mile race and four miles back. I planned to drink before and after and at the water station. I saw a girl run by me with a handheld and I had a sudden urge to take it from her! I don't think I drank enough yesterday. We went out last night and I had a couple of beers (something I rarely do). So I was dehydrated before I started sweating profusely in the muggy weather. I think I would have enjoyed the middle miles more if I didn't feel so dang thirsty.

The second and third miles were HARD. I realized pretty quickly that thirty minutes was an aggressive goal today. Mile 2 was 7:48. The water station was located around 2.5 miles. I needed to stop so I could drink. That mile was 8:03. The last mile was hard, but not as much since I knew that I only had eight minutes or so until it was done. The last half mile or so is straight and it is slightly downhill, so it is like a long straightaway. I ran that last mile in 7:33.

I finished in 31:21*!! I'm thrilled. It was just what I needed after feeling a bit sluggish last week. It ended up 9th (out of 90) in my age group.

I found AKA Alice's friend (I think her Heffer name is Edith**) and we wandered for a bit. We found Alice and the others and headed to the after-race festivities which included free beer. I thought to myself, "I could have one beer and still run back to my car." Oh, how I kid myself. I socialized with the herd and enjoyed myself. When Mik handed me my second beer and Alice offered to split a breakfast burrito, I knew that my day was done with five miles. To seal the deal, they offered to drive me back to my car. Hmmm...running four sweaty miles after four tough ones OR breakfast, beer and good company. It was an easy choice!

And to cap off the morning, Alice and I got a little taste of local fame. A reporter was drawn to the Heffers' day-glo tops and wanted to interview them. Betty told her that Alice had a blog. Alice immediately pointed to me and said, "Lisa does too!" We explained that we met through our blogs. All I can say is thank goodness I never aspired to a career in broadcasting. Holy dorky. Here is our 15 seconds of fame:

View more news videos at:

*My Garmin says 31:04. There weren't chips, so I was at the mercy of chutes and tags.
**The Heffers all have pseudonyms, so not only do I have to learn names of new friends, I have to learn their pseudonyms. Ha ha ha...


Related Posts with Thumbnails