Monday, October 31, 2011

Best “Non-Race” Race Ever–Operation Jack/Richard Leary 6-Hour Challenge

I’m not gonna lie. When my alarm went off at 5am and could not understand why it was going off, I was in no way excited to drive up to Irvine (when I finally remembered why I had set my alarm the night before). But I dragged my ass out of bed anyway, made my morning soy latte, and started packing up all the fixins’ for a post-race picnic.

I pulled into the parking lot and found Sarah sitting in her car, trying to keep from freezing her tuckus off. In my scrambling around that morning, I had remembered picnic stuff but forgotten a running long sleeve and the all-important body glide (luckily I was able to avoid chaffage otherwise it could have been ugly).

Heather meandered up shortly after. There was a huge flock of duck-like birds hanging out by the lake we were to be running around.

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Heather did not like these birds. In fact, she thinks all birds are creepy. Other things creepy to Heather? Feet. Hands. Pretty much anything. Apparently the Mission Inn Half Marathon is also creepy. Target is not, though. Hills are creepy too.

As you’ve probably read in other recaps, we ran a 1.09 mile loop around the lake. It was pretty damn flat, which was fine be me after last weekend’s hill smackdown in Temecula. We took off and I had Sarah as my running company which made the miles seriously fly by. It was fun leap-frogging with other runners and chatting it up with the race director/volunteers at the aid station every few laps. During our laps Kat showed up – we spied her blond pony tail and NY Giants hat and shirt. She is so NY – it’s awesome. Reminds me of my 4 year college stint in the Big Apple. We just can’t watch NY or Boston sports together. Ever.

I seriously felt like a million bucks after about the 14-15 mile mark. I was shooting for 15-16 and then when Sarah said she was doing 18, I figured I complete 15 laps running since I would have someone to run with. I ended up completely 16.41 @ 9:00.2 pace. We had about 4 minutes, un-timed, at aid station stops – Garmin has that feature that gives you actual elapsed time. It doesn’t let you lie to yourself about breaks (why you gotta be so honest, Garmin?).

I seriously had to force myself not to run 20 miles yesterday because I totally felt like I could. But it would have been colossally stupid considering my longest run in recent weeks is 14. I’m not interested in injuring myself at this point. Or ever, obviously.

Sarah continued to do two more laps, and I walked one with a little jog in there because 1.09 just walking got really boring.

Heather and I parked our behinds on a picnic blanket and waited for Sarah to decide she was done running. Sam (the Operation Jack man who is a speedy runner and super nice) tried to pressure her into more running laps as she was waffling on whether or not she was checking out. Clearly all us runners are the same. We love to be annoying and taunt other people into running more. I’m happy to see we all do it rather shamelessly.

Once everyone was done we sat on the grass to cheer for the remaining runners and see who would end up running the most laps (turns out 31 for the men, and 30 for the women was the final tally). Hopefully we weren’t just an annoying group of chicks hanging out by the aid station. We tried to cheer for the diehards when we remembered however we were mostly really good at talking about other runners while they were unknowingly 6 feet from us. Awkward. At least we weren’t saying anything bad!

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(Stolen from Sarah OUAL! I look like a miniature GI Jane with that bandana. Whatever.)

Sarah is tall, but really, the rest of us are short. All 5’2” and under (I’m in the “under” category), so it really isn’t hard to look super tall in comparison.

All in all, it was a great time. I wish there were more opportunities like this one. There was no race stress, the course was flat/easy/scenic, and easy access to the aid station every mile. I guess that’s why people join running clubs? This was kind of more awesome than a running club though. And at the end we got a t-shirt and a pretty nice medal. Not one of those cheesy generic medals. Think I will be running Operation Jack’s December half marathon (not sure I will be ready for the full at that point) based on the awesomeness of this un-race.

Thumbs up

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Temecula Half Marathon: An Ass Kicking

And not that I kicked its ass but more like it wiped the floor with mine.

I had noted in my last post that I figured my stomach was all up in arms over anxiety with the Husband’s potential full-time job (which he got, by the way – woo hoo!). Except this supposed anxiety-induced stomach ache lingered all day and into Saturday. With mid-upper stomach cramping every 30-90 minutes or so (not bad enough to have my doubling over but pretty damn uncomfortable).

Just in case you think I exaggerate about feeling like dog-turd:

  1. Friday night I had zero wine or beer. ZERO. If you know me, this is pretty rare. But I wasn’t feeling it.
  2. I started passing out on the ouch at 8:45pm with my old lady hot water bottle on my stomach. Almost never happens.
  3. Saturday, we went shopping/browsing at Nordstrom Rack & Marshalls and I was completely not into it. For once we had a good excuse to actually buy stuff for ourselves and I didn’t buy a single thing.
  4. Saturday evening, I had half a glass of wine and was done. Again, for someone who regularly splits a bottle with my husband, this is weird. And I passed out at 9:30 again even though I didn’t even teach yoga that morning (should not have been that tired).
  5. This morning, let’s just say, it wasn’t pretty in the bathroom.

I was really wondering if maybe I was nuts running this race given my state. The stomach cramping had finally stopped but apparently it had resulted in something requiring me to actually take an anti-poop-yourself medicine. And honestly, if it wasn’t 35 minutes from my house and I hadn’t already paid for it I would not have run. No freaking way.

Anyway.

So we got up there, I picked up my bib and chip, and hear the announcer say that the course had to be rerouted as part of it was closed. Errr, is that why there are cones up the ridiculously steep road to get to the winery? (Mt Palomar Winery was the start/finish)

I find Ashley and her BF (they are so cute – he is her race support except runs the entire time along side her; not sure if gets any better than that as far as race support!), and we chat for a bit until lining up for the start.

The start was weird – because of the whole running-on-55mph-road (Rancho California) they released us in waves of 10-20. Up a hill. Yeah. And then down a hill so steep that you can’t really get a good speed going.

I started out conservatively because I was seriously concerned with the whole being kind of sick thing. I felt pretty decent most of the way and I wasn’t pushing it – I could easily have full on conversations – my breathing was easy. Around mile 8 I realized I really had to pee. Like, where I had to slow down for a second and make sure I got the situation under control. Unfortunately, I was in this near-peeing myself the rest of the race – at some points it was manageable, at others, not so much.

And The Hills. Good Lord. The original course had an elevation gain of like 450 feet or something on MapMyRun. This new route? 889 feet. And half of the course was dirt road. The last group of hills from mile 12 to 13 did me in. I think some dehydration from this stomach thing finally caught up with me. And the reality is I totally could have pushed harder. For sure. I wasn’t breathing hard and my legs didn’t feel awful. But honestly, I was worried that I would put myself in a worse position and prolong this stupid bug if I went all out just to get under 2 hours.

The last mile was a mother f*cker. Seriously. Downright cruel to put that kind of hill at the end. We were in the last 400 yards of the race – when you’re supposed to be pushing it – with this hill. So steep that everyone around me was walking up it. Including myself. And I honestly didn’t care at that point. Killing myself up that hill wasn’t going to win any points in my mind.

My splits:

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Slower pace than my 14-mile training run two weeks ago.

But I told my husband this morning that my goal was to just finish the race without crapping myself. Aiming high over here. I was fully aware I’d likely finish in more than 2 hours. Sure,I don’t feel great about it, but I did what I set out to do. Obviously, I didn’t negative split but I’m going to give myself a pass on this one given the circumstances.

Hopefully Mission Inn in 3 weeks will turn out better!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Subconscious Agita

I haven’t posted much on the latest job situation with our household mostly because this underemployment of my husband has become the new norm. I had thought I had some to terms with it. We went from frugal-comfortable spending to extremely frugal spending (i.e. buy yourself nothing extra, no new shoes, clothes, etc) to a stasis of frugal without complete deprivation of small luxuries (like a $8 bottle of wine – we actually buy some decent wine once in a while – but we still hardly ever eat out. Maybe once every other month).

The part time gig he has provides enough extra income so that we don’t have to be in that feeling of restriction. But it still doesn’t feel great. We don’t get to save as much as I would like (I’m a saver, thanks to my mother’s OCD-ness about money). We went from saving nearly 2K a month (on top of 401k) to not really saving , aside from my company’s stock purchase program which does in fact turn into savings. So I can’t really complain. Our savings is increasing, so I am in no way ungrateful.  We are doing ok, better than many others.

This morning, he has a meeting with his old company about a potential position. Yeah, the place that laid him off. And, starting around 7am, I started getting quite the stomach ache. I figured it was the coffee. But hello?! I have coffee every morning. Driving into work I realized that my subconscious is stressed about this. Clearly, I have been bottling it up for 2+ years. The idea that he could have a full time job again literally is leaving me with a knot in my throat – this bubbling up of relief. And I’m trying to push it down because if it doesn’t happen, I gotta get back to that “Oh, this is ok. It’s fine.” But it certainly feels like each time the carrot is dangled, the more it takes out of me.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Errr…

All I needed was a little nudge.

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The next day I was on the phone with the Carlsbad Marathon race organizers handing over my credit card information to upgrade to the full marathon.

Yeah, I am that easy to convince.

Seriously, over the past few weeks of trying to find an acceptable marathon race in the January-March timeframe,  I had been thinking that perhaps I had made the wrong decision to register for the Carlsbad half. I kind of put it out of my head because I wasn’t sure I could even upgrade. Turns out you can if it is not sold out.

Then hauterunningmama decided to tweet me that she was thinking of registering for it and that was it. Yes, I would jump off a bridge if everyone else was doing it (Ok, maybe not, a marathon is not going to kill me. Well. Hopefully not). I rejiggered around my training plan to see if I could do it without sacrificing the number of long runs. Turns out I can squeeze in an 18 miler, two 20’s, and a 22 and still have a proper 3 week taper.

I think, in the end, the idea of doing a local marathon really sold me. The course support for Carlsbad is surprisingly awesome. For a medium-sized race, a lot of locals come out and cheer. Sure, I’ll probably be lonesome for long stretches when we’re running inland, but running along the coast will be great. And, it’ll be easy for friends and family to find me on the course. It’ll be interesting to be in marathon training again – haven’t run one since 2003!

This weekend? Temecula Half Marathon. It’s a tiny (250), sold out race. And I’m a little concerned about the difficulty of the course. And how dirty my kicks will get (I know, First World Problems). I think I am really just going to  go out slow (8:45-ish). I did that with Highland YMCA Half which was a bear. If this turns out easier I’ll have a lot left at the end. Time to try to actually run a longer race with a negative split! No more bonking!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sardines! They’d Better Not Suck.

Lately, I randomly have been buying different types of canned fish. Weird, I know, but I think Sunset Magazine implanted some seed in my head with their July issue. It was all, “small fish are wonderful! Don’t throw them back!”, blah blah blah. Mackerel, sardines, anchovies, smelt, etc.

So when I saw a can of sardines in Louisiana Hot Sauce sitting on the shelf in Fresh & Easy I thought, “I MUST HAVE THESE.” Didn’t really think how they would actually fit into my meal planning.

The Husband generally wants nothing to do with canned fish (unless it’s tuna) so with him having dinner with his bro, it’s sardines for me this evening! What am I, 80?

It’s also an evening of the dogs anxiously awaiting his return. I swear, as I write this they are hanging out in the foyer area like he will magically appear. Clearly I am not important. Though I might need them as a diversion  since I just finished off his bag of Goldfish (mmm, salty snacks).

Anyway.

So, last weekend I had a horrendous run. I had my new Garmin 110 (since my old 205 bought the farm); I was ex-ci-ted to use it and proceeded to go out waaaay too fast for a long run. The last two miles were peppered with walk breaks.

Which reminded me of two weeks ago when I got the chance to go to a 50 minute workshop/talk given by a San Diego runner/writer/coach. One of the things he said was you can’t bank time – this whole notion of “banking time” is bunk.

Really?

Because I kind of use that strategy a lot. Though if I’m being objective, it has worked maybe 20% of the time.

This run was a clear example that you can’t bank time. The previous weekend’s 12 miles was 9:15 pace, followed a week later by 13 miles at 9:34 (20 seconds slower – I timed my walks).

So, yesterday, I had 14 on my plate. The weather was similar to last Sunday, as was the weekday mileage, though I started this run from a different point (because running through Leucadia on the 101 can be a major pain in the ass with curbside tables monopolizing pedestrian walkways; anything over 13, I start further north).

I think the fact that I had deviated my route made me not feel the need to charge through the beginning. I started off with 9:25 and 9:30 for the first two miles. Only nose breathing and very easy.

First 7 miles, 65:17. Last 7 miles, 65:08.

Hello negative split, where have you been? I was like a freaking metronome on 9:19. Three mile splits were 9:19. I felt like a weird running robot continually seeing 9:19 (or 9:18, 9:17) on my splits.

Now, this is great and all, but in a race – how in the heck can I get myself to run a bit slower, but not all out slow long run pace?  I have a really hard time running like 8:30. It’s like, I immediately end up in the low 8’s, high 7’s in a half marathon. Maybe I need to do some runs just a bit slower than half marathon pace to get the feel?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Not All About Running

Lest you think  I have dropped all things house-related for all things running-related, I assure you this is only 50% the case.

Yes, the shower project is still not complete – but when you  have two other full baths in your house, it becomes less of a necessity to have the third one 100% functional. Not like when you remodel your kitchen and you go cat$hit crazy because you’re tired of microwaving and eating off paper plates. Unless your Portuguese-American and have two kitchens.*

* I grew up in a heavily Portuguese town – they immigrate there for the fishing industry – and the majority of their houses had two kitchens. And also two living areas, one of which was never used with sofas covered in plastic.

The latest thing going down on the house front is that we got a ton of stucco fixed up (not by us, stucco is something  have zero expertise in – had I been home during the repairs I might have watched them do it for future reference but the whole job thing). It looks great. And now that we got that done we’re painting the whole house.

Mulling over colors:

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The Husband is leaning towards the “Ripe Wheat” (on the left).  I am fine with both, really, but there is a house down the street that kind of already has a similar color to the one on the left. It’s going to come down to trim color and how it matches up.

It’s not going to be cheap, but, if we’re stuck here in this house (because it’s underwater) might as well slap some lipstick on it and pretty it up.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

More Ragnar & Race Schedule

Yesterday, we had a little beer and pizza date with whoever was brave enough to show up and meet other internet weirdos.

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Surprisingly there were 7 of us and no one died. Though I whole-heartedly tried to kill them by talking their ears off.

OUAL, Hauterunningmama, SkinnyRunner, 365 Day of Awesome, Faster Bunny, & PrettyFittie.

Five of the 6 ultra ladies – which was cool – I think it’s going to kick some major ass. Provided we don’t all kill each other after 27-ish hours. That and if we don’t get abandoned on the side of the ride by the driver because he’s had enough of no-sleep+confined-smelly-space+blogging-chicks=dude-in-hell.

I have no pictures of said meetup because I am the anti-blogger. If you ever need advice on how to lose readership, I am your person. I also take notoriously bad pictures (seriously, no one can make a more stupid unintentional facial expression in a picture than myself. I wish I were kidding).

Anyway, so Next Races! (registered)

October 23rd – Temecula Half

November 6th – Del Mar Iron Girl (5K)

November 13th – Mission Inn Half

November 24th – Oceanside Turkey Trot (5m)

January 20-something, 2012 – Carlsbad Half

February 26th, 2012 – Tough Mudder SoCal

April 2012 – Ragnar

Contemplating…

October 30th – Operation Jack

December 4th – Loma Linda Holiday Classic 15K

February 19th – Lost Dutchman Marathon

March 2012 – Oriflamme 50K

Time to go get 13 miles done before heading up to LA to hang out with my favorite old coworkers.