Friday, April 27, 2012

2012 Ragnar So Cal Ultra–Part 3

At a church parking lot in Solana Beach off Via de la Valle, I was quietly freaking out. SarahOUaL had taken off and was in the process of taking the Hammer and embedding it into the concrete. I think she was probably the only one who enjoyed her last run and thoroughly killed it.

Margot put on her ruffle-butt LuLu skirt and snazzy Mizuno Mushas, because if you’re going to be so unbelievably miserable running up El Camino Real and Torrey Pines hills back-to-back, you might as well do it in style. I ran the El Camino Real hill last year as runner 4 of a 12-man team and for whatever reason, the course exchanges shifted so that it became runner 5’s responsibility. Sweet deal for Sarah. Pretty shitty for Margot. Theme of the weekend. Pretty Shitty for Margot.

Off she went down Via de la Valle, to take a right on ECR and climb the first of two mountains. We headed over to the beach at the base of Torrey Pines to catch her passing through, and then we made our way up to the Glider Port in La Jolla. I work fairly close to the exchange and, quite frankly, I would rather have been at work writing Java code than waiting to run 15 miles in a state of nervous sleep deprivation. I hit the restroom one final time (I don’t even want to get into how many times I hit the portajohns to do a number greater than 1).

How Margot finished these legs standing, never mind running, is impressive. She came flying down the dusty lot for the handoff. Waiting runners around me commented on how fast she was running in. This time she tried to give me encouragement and told me to “go get it” but she was spent. I could tell, she was emotionally drained. Practically pooping my pants, off I went.

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Again, I was in denial of the elevation profile. 532 feet of climbing. Seriously, not sure why I though this would be “not so bad”. Nevermind I had another 7.8 mile leg after this one.

When I went to the captain’s meeting in place of SarahOUaL, they mentioned this leg had no van support but that the runner would really enjoy it, see the dolphins in the ocean, etc, etc (Yay! Fun times!) My legs were really sore, but I was chugging along, Garmin-less, with the heart rate monitor. Heart rate was low-ish, low for a “race”. But my legs were impossibly fatigued. Two miles in I hit stairs? Cross a pedestrian bridge… then have to go down 3 flights of stairs? I literally stopped to make sure I was understanding the course. This leg started pissing me off immediately. I just wanted to run. Not go on a wild goose chase obstacle course. I get back on the road below and run for a mile or so and realize that I have not seen any runners for a while. Back track and see I have taken a wrong turn. Roughly half a mile right of extra mileage. I was just relieved I had realized it quickly.

I end up running for a bit with another super-nice runner from LA for about a mile. We saw some folks getting hitched at the shore. Then we hit a hill at 3.5 and the legs. would. not. go. I have to tell him to go ahead without me. I wanted so bad to ask him to slow down and run with me, but, it’s his race. Not mine. So I walk a bit. We then turn right into the La Jolla Cove area and I have to go down MORE STAIRS. Here is where I started feeling like I might cry. We run through this narrow little trail and I am dodging tourists/pedestrians. I exit the trail, and am hit with the smell of rotting fish and pelican crap.

Fighting my self-pity emotions, I see a kid in a wheelchair being pushed by an older man. Literally unable to keep his head up never mind walk. I could not believe that I was feeling sorry for myself running this relay I CHOSE to do and this kid can’t even walk. This was where I think my spirit got completely squashed. I could not for the life of me snap myself out of the feeling of complete despair. I was running so slow. I was adding so much extra time to my team’s overall total. I could run and this child appeared to not even be able to interact with people. I shuffled along, fighting tears, my chest feeling constricted (meanwhile, my heart rate never got above 160 – barely “long run” heart rate level).

I hit a 200 foot climb to the mid-point exchange. Everyone is trying to encourage each other “This is it! We’re done!” This did nothing but push me further into the doldrums. I was NOT done. I didn’t even know how many miles I had left at that point. Just A LOT. An insurmountable lot. I saw Pam and Sarah (SR) waiting to cheer me on and I had a complete nuclear meltdown. I had my iPod on still (the only leg I used it and I should have left it in the van) and the volume was relatively high so on top of crying hysterically, I was loud. I realized it after I had called attention to myself, ripped the earphones off , and lowered my voice. So now I was both desperate and embarrassed. Awesome.

Let me tell you, Pam and Sarah are the only reason I got back out there. Sarah kept talking to me, and finally she said “get back out there, just walk” (because clearly standing there crying isn’t going to help anything). “It’s only 8 more miles” and for whatever reason, I thought “8 miles. Ok, 8 miles.” It didn’t seem that insurmountable when she said it out loud. I was so out of my mind I really didn’t know how much I had left but when she said the number, I had just a smidge of hope that I could slog through it. I started leg 32 walking. But at least I was moving.

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Elevation-wise, smell-wise, course-wise, this leg was much less sucky than the last one. No stairs, tourists, or smelly bird droppings to deal with. Thank God because I needed an easy leg. After a few minutes of walking, I decided to run. Mostly because there was a dude on the trail looked sketch and I wanted to get away from him as quickly as possible. I ran about a mile and ended up in an area that seemed wrong and totally devoid of runners. I could not understand how I could have screwed this up again but seeing as I was a complete mess earlier, it seemed plausible I somehow made a mistake. I stopped, pulled out my phone, and looked for the leg map. I wasted several minutes doing this. I finally saw another runner. She had the map with her and I tagged along. Each time we’d hit a hill my legs would protest, so I walked. It was miserable. But I had stopped crying. As much as my outburst was unfortunate and embarrassing, it released some of the pressure that had built for 7 miles in the previous leg.

I got stuck at a light in Pacific Beach for a full 3 minutes. Not ideal. I was finally on flat terrain but I was so exhausted. I started employing the run-fast-then-walk strategy. I would pick a spot ahead, and run fast – sub-8 pace. Then give myself a small walk break. The net effect of this was faster than an 11 minute pace shuffle. Somewhere along the cove path, I again find I am lost. I stop, run  back a bit to look for runners, and finally see another runner come up who also did not see a sign. So we run through a basketball course to another walking path and then we see runners up a head. Not sure if this was the course, but clearly, there were signage issues. Not too long after the “1 mile to go” sign appears. Finally. I managed to run straight through the last quarter mile and hand off to Pam.

Without the meltdown, stop lights, and lost parts, I probably averaged 10-10:15 pace. I haven’t run a long run that slow in years. YEARS. But I was surprised I finished it even that fast, to be honest. When I finished, I didn’t have any cry or meltdown left in me. I was happy to be done but felt like I had failed the team.

Pam, who is both a strong runner and a strong person, pounded out 17 miles in the low 8:00’s. Yeah. 17 miles that fast. So impressive. I felt sad that I had put more pressure on her to run faster, but then again, Pam would want to run her best no matter what. That is Pam. We drove to exchange 33 to wait for her to come through and start leg 34, her last 5.8 miles of the race.

Pulling into the exchange, we saw Team Sparkle (who had just completed the handoff) and realized we were still in the game. It wasn’t over. We had caught up with them on the course.

(You’re going to hate me, but, I’m going to make this four parts. I just have too much to say and would rather not skimp out on the finish/end).

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

2012 Ragnar So Cal Ultra Part 2

I left off last post with SarahOUaL leaving Murrieta for her night leg. I had promised her great fun in Temecula Old Town with the drunken people but, alas, we arrived too early in the evening. During the time she was running I had tried to get some sleep and possibly got about 30 seconds. Possibly. I started the very beginning of a dream and then something woke me up.

The nausea at this point was mostly gone so I was feeling less freaked out about running again. Just an hour or so earlier, when I felt like I was on Mars, I was pretty worried about running again. Somewhere in Fallbrook, a church parking lot off Old 395, was the next handoff exchange. Pam got to say hi and hangout with her hubby Rocky, daughter, and step son who were volunteering. Did I mention Pam’s family is awesome? If I have, it’s worth repeating.

Margot, again, had the wackiest looking leg to run. The first part dropped like 900 feet in elevation over 6 miles. It was like the Fontana Half. Second part was another hill climb (Margot, were you a billy goat in a former life?) of like 600-700 feet. Sarah had left her husband Brian with Margot to pace her on the uphill climb so she drove the creeper van to Exchange 18, Welk Resort. As we drove up the hill and saw how steep it was (and also had yet another brain fart and forgot to note the time she left) we figured we had some time.

Had I not had the foresight to bring all my crap with me over to the portajohns with Sarah (I almost didn’t even go with her, mind you. And she almost delayed leaving the van because she was feeling slightly lazy), we would have been crazy late for the exchange. I had just enough time to catch Nicole vlogging, go the bathroom, and then come out to hear the table call out “38!” Almost missed that part, too. I have to ask the table if they in fact had called out 28.

I was still getting my reflective vest adjusted, headlamp on, and LED butt light in place when they arrived. Because she hated hard on that hill, she was in no mood to wait around for Sarah and Brian to help me get all my safety gear on so she dropped (threw?) the bracelet on the ground and ran away. Margot’s handoffs are some of one of my favorite memories of the relay.

Anyway, so off I went on a mercifully short 7.7 miles in cool, misty weather. I LOVE the night runs in relays. This one did not disappoint. I actually wore my Garmin but I haven’t downloaded the splits. First part looked like this:

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Climb Every Mountain! Forge Every Stream! I was clearly in denial about the elevation profile on these legs when I asked for runner 4. But I’ll take a hill in the beginning over a hill at the end any day of the week. Our van passed me on the course and cheered me on – I was feeling so great I yelled “I feel awesome!!!” and I did. I stayed conservative going up – around 9:30-9:45 pace. Then came the fun!

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I really wanted to go crazy on the downhill. Like sub-7 crazy, but my mind kept reminding me that I had 14.9 miles still to run in the morning and I couldn’t waste all my energy on this leg no matter how good it felt. I ended up seeing splits in the 7:30-7:45 range. My headlamp also kept sliding down my forehead which was so annoying. I handed off to Pam who also must have felt like a million bucks because she finished in 7:19 pace. And then it was Nicole’s turn for another night leg. Let’s face it, she looked the cutest in the reflective gear so it was a good fit. At this point we had some idea of where Team Sparkle was based on their tweets and it seemed that we were catching up. But with the fact that we started 90 minutes later, we just weren’t sure what the gap was.

While we waited for Nicole, Pam, Sarah (SR), and I got our tooth-brushing on which was felt better at that point than showering did at the end. The sun was coming up and the realization that the real pain was going to start soon was not sitting well with me. The high of my night run was gone. My legs were starting to get sore and I hadn’t gotten any sleep. I knew Sarah (SR) was going to be fine (because she is one of the strongest runners I have ever met) but I think, and maybe it was just me, the rest of the van started to get a bit uneasy. There was much less chatter. The “yay! exchange! pictures! fun!” was almost non-existent. As we waited for SR to arrive in Encinitas Nicole recorded her last vlog and while we were all still funny and put on a good show (well, I put on a good show as a potty mouth), we were shaking in our boots. At least I knew Margot, Nicole, and I were.

Because its getting close to bedtime, will have to continue into a part 3. Sorry readers.

Ragnar So Cal 2012 On Crack. I mean Ultra. Part 1

I’m sure this isn’t new to anyone at this point, but, our team won our division. We also came in 2nd among all female teams both 12 and 6-woman. Yeah, that in-and-of-itself blows my mind. If we had run 30 minutes faster we would have been the first all-female team. With only 6. WTF.


(stolen from SR. Thanks, girl. I’m a shitty blogger)

The theme for me in the last 6-8 months is the realization that my body is not invincible yet still surprising myself with some significant PRs. When I agreed to this Ragnar Ultra thing, I had yet to get sidelined by any injury. I figured it would be only slightly rougher to do an 6-man Ragnar after doing a 12-man. So when Sarah tossed it out there, I was 100% game and excited. I seriously had no idea how hard this shit would be. Especially for someone who maxes out, currently, at 43 miles per week. (Spoiler: this is not enough to complete an ultra relay without exploding on the course in some shape or form.)

Throughout the last month or so, Ragnar was on the brain for the whole team. Including the competition. And I’m not going to sit here and pretend that Team Sparkle wasn’t in our plan to beat and I am 100% sure our team was in their radar in the same capacity. They wanted the win as much as we did. Any denial of that, to me, is hogwash. So I went into this Ragnar, not only committing to a whole lot more miles than I did last year, but with the added stress of knowing that I had to bring my game.

Nicole and SarahSR picked me up at my house Friday morning with the huge-ass van. I loaded all my stuff in and we made our way to the OC to get the rest of the team. We wrote a whole bunch of crap on it with markers and then headed to the start at the Huntington Beach pier. Unlike the 12-man team, we made it to our start on time (wink). SarahSR takes off as our lead runner with 42 total relay miles to complete – 10 miles in this first stretch. And finished those miles so fast – I heard other teams from our 1pm start time commenting on her badassery after OUaL took off for her 10 miles.

It was 80-85 degrees at that point, but Sarah laid the hammer down again with speedy miles, and Margot took off climbing a mountain on the Surface of the Sun (88 degrees now that we were further inland). The heat was rough, to say the least. Soon it was go time for me.

Now, after three handoffs from Margot, I realize that when she hands off the slap bracelet, she likes to hand it over in a sweaty rolled up wad. I laughed to myself each time she did this because I would stand there, straighten it out, and then put it on. Not the most seemless handoff but, hey, this isn’t a 4x100. This first handoff, looking at me so earnestly, she tells me to “be careful out there”.

Um. OK? My mind started doing it’s usual Crazy trying to figure out what I am supposed to be careful about. Am I going to DIE out here? Running along the Santa Ana River Trail by myself, I kept thinking maybe she encountered some scary dude that tried to grab her, or maybe she saw rattlesnakes? I was freaked out for at least a mile. Every non-Ragnar dude I saw on the trail, I was suspicious. Then I figured, maybe she was just worried about the heat since I had to do nearly 13 miles and it was still 85 and sunny. Turns out this is the case, she was worried about the heat.

I wore just the heart rate monitor for this leg which worked really well for me. With that kind of heat and the uphill climbing that was coming (1100 feet total), I really needed to keep my effort in check. I brought my hand held even though there were 3 water stops (way more than average for Ragnar “no van support” legs), and had topped it off twice. I think I drank at least 40 ounces of Nuun-spiked fluid on that leg.

Part 1 of leg 1 – 8.8, gradual incline, not so bad:

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I arrive at exchange 7 (after running a super tight shoulder with cars – um, dangerous? and trying to make chit chat with a 12-man runner who was about as friendly as an ox) to find my awesome teammates cheering for me, and SarahOUaL with a cup of ice. Which I promptly poured into my sports bra (thank goodness for cleavage). I was feeling pretty good even though my face was redder than a tomato. Then it all went to hell in a hand basket.

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Leg 8 was a bitch, it climbed 700 feet and dropped 500 feet over 3.9 miles. And it was still 81 degrees. My first leg went from “pretty good” to “pretty annoying”. I hit stoplights galore. By the time I got to the exchange I was spent and I let out a huge F-bomb in front of Pam’s young son and husband (Awesome. That’s sarcasm. Not awesome). Pam takes off with her safety gear – finishing up quickly since she is another crazy fast runner, and then hands off to Nicole. We stopped at her mid-exchanged point to cheer her on at a place we deemed the stinkiest and nastiest exchanges of all exchanges – Corona Lake. Rotting fish and mosquitos. I’ll leave it at that. Sorry, Nicole, that you had to run through that place.

At this point, my body was starting to feel weird. By the time Nicole was done, I REALLY felt odd. Weird headache, slight nausea, and ever so slightly disoriented. I had drank plenty of Nuun and water so it wasn’t dehydration or electrolytes. Pam’s husband, via text message, says I have heat exhaustion and I respond with “Yeah, he’s probably right” and she makes a bag of ice for me to put on my neck. I spend the next two hours icing my neck/face and working through a bagel. Yeah. It took me two hours to eat that bagel. Tiny bites were all I could muster with the nausea. That bagel and I were BFFs. I laid there in the van with the bagel on my stomach. Then the bagel came with me to send off SR on her long ass night leg.


(stolen from Margot - note the bag of ice and half-eaten bagel, SR was already 9 miles into her leg)

I finally finished the tortured bagel when SR came in from her 19 mile leg (which, she killed, again, btw).

We were in Murrieta now, and Sarah is taking us down from Riverside into San Diego County, our third county we’re running through in 12 hours!

And I’ll have stop there and continue in a part 2 (because I have a job that doesn’t pay to write this stuff and the morning coffee won’t  make itself Winking smile).

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Another Blogosphere Compression Sock Comparison Post

Currently, I have 5 pairs of compression socks and all of them feel quite different in fit and compression. I have acquired these pairs through either paying full price, buying a Schwaggle, or in the case of one pair, free from a Ragnar Relay sponsor.


Let’s start on the far right, shall we? Ok.

Thanks to reading SkinnyRunner’s posts on compression stuff, I figured I would go el cheapo, and get a pair of Walmart Special Geriatric Antithrombotic socks for $18 or $20. I am wearing them right now so this will be your only action shot with the socks. Also you get to see Louie’s ass, too.


(Also have my Aspaeris Pivot Shorts on – more shameless sponsor plugging)

So these bad boys? You can’t really run in them comfortably. And they are ugly (one of my Ragnar van-mates last year said it looked like my legs were prosthetics. Hot). BUT they are very compress-y. They are also pretty long, in case you are tall unlike myself. These, in my opinion, are an excellent option for post race recovery. And they are cheap.

The Recovery Sock (lime green, second from the right)

These socks have a special place in my heart because they are made in Italy (did I mention I’m 1st generation Italian? Probably but in case you didn’t know). I got these with a Schwaggle. They are snug (still less than the medical grade ugly ones), come in a good selection of colors, and feel like good quality socks. They are pretty thick, though. I have done a few long runs in them and the fabric is breathable, but, again, a little thicker of a sock than I’m used to. The length is average – right in the middle of all the socks I own. I wear an XS in these.

Zensah (pink, in the middle)

The thing that kind of cracks me up about these is that they label the socks with “L” and “R”. I am pretty skeptical that there would be much difference in “sock performance” if I wore the “R” on the left and vice versa. But since it would go against every fiber of my being to do that, I will never know for sure if it’s a crock of shinola.

These were another Schwaggle purchase. I had tried on the Zensah calf sleeves in the past and was not impressed, but figured I’d take the $25 risk on the full sock. Turns out they are a great option for short-legged folks like myself. They fit perfectly, lengthwise (I’m 5 feet even and I have a 27-28” pants inseam). The compression is better than the calf sleeves, but still less than the Granny Socks and Recovery Sock. But they are cute and they aren’t as thick as the Recovery Sock, which I prefer when using them during running.

PRO Compression (pink, second from left)

We’ve arrived at the only pair I have not laid out personal funds to acquire. PRO Compression is one of our Ragnar sponsors and they provided us socks for our 203.5 mile journey to insanity. I would say that if you are in the market for super-cute socks that you can wear in a race, these are probably your best option. They have the best selection as far as colors, prints, etc. They are also good for people with normal-to-long legs. For me, they are almost too long, so I can’t pull them up which reduces the amount compression I’m getting. If they came in an XXS, I think they would fit perfectly for me. They are also not thick which, again, I prefer for running/races. They don’t, however, breathe as well as the Zensah’s and The Recovery Sock (I felt like I had more foot sweatiness when I ran my 18 miler in these last weekend). The compression seems about the same as the Zensah’s, probably a bit more.

CEP Compression Calf Sleeves (white, on the left)

We have come to my personal favorites. I paid full price for these at Road Runner Sports in like 2010, and that’s probably why I got the sleeves over the socks (the socks were ~$50 while the sleeves were ~$35. At the time we were still a half-employed household). But, I kind of like that they are just sleeves because I get to wear whatever socks I want. I have used these in pretty mush every half marathon and marathon since I bought them.

They also have an extensive array of sizes. If you have slim calves, they will have a size for you. I ended up with the women’s size III (the smallest is a size II). These are about as tight as the tan Walmart ones, but they are thin and lightweight. I’ve had them for a while now and they have not lost much of their compression strength. They seem to be good for most leg lengths – they are maybe just a smidge long for me, but it works out because they extend down to my sock line. Of all five compression socks I own, I have to say these are the best.

To summarize my thoughts on the above brands:

Best Socks For Short People: Zensah & CEP

Best Socks For Tall People: PRO Compression

Best Socks for Looking Cute In a Race: PRO Compression

Most Affordable Socks for Recovery: Walmart Anti-thrombotic Ugly Socks

All-Around Good Compression Socks Not Made In China Or Some Other Cheap Labor Country: The Recovery Sock

Most Compression & can be worn while running: CEP

Overall Winner: CEP

(Good until the end of April 2012, PRO Compression is offering $20 off a pair of socks with free shipping if you use the code RR20)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Running With Non-Internet Strangers

As of late, I've been all "new millennium" running with folks I met on the internet. Writing that out sounds (a) scary (i.e. stranger-danger), and (b) looser-ish (like I have no other non-internet friends).

Anyway, so I got all 1990's (or 1950's, actually) and signed up with the SDTC (San Diego Track Club, founded in 1954). It's something I had been contemplating for some time, and then when I saw that they were putting on the Cinco de Mayo 5-miler on May 2nd and membership would entitle me to $5 discount, it was enough impetus to jump in (the yearly membership fees are pretty darn low).

Obviously, I didn't sign up just because of that race; they have weekly track workouts in both San Diego proper and North County. I liked the idea of doing track workouts with a legitimate coach. And maybe after a few weeks of being the new girl, I might make some new running friends that might live close to me.

So, yesterday, I got to work much earlier than normal (7:50am) so as to leave much earlier than normal (4:45p) to get to the track before 6pm and have some time to warm up.

There were quite a few folks when I got there, milling around, some warming up on the outside of the track (in reverse, per "track etiquette"). There were also some crazy fast dudes running laps while the "coach", fully clothed, ran back-and-forth across the field yelling stuff at them. Apparently he is also a super-fast runner (according to another guy I talked to, he is one of a few that are trying to qualify for some Olympic events).

Shortly before 6pm, he got us all together and explained that we'd be doing six to sixteed 300m repeats, with 100m rest. The pace was to be 5K to 10K pace and stressed that we were to run relaxed (which must be his mantra because I heard he teased with it throughout the workout) and not to be in pain (i.e. don't kill yourself). That pain is for the race. Not for the workout. This scored major points with me. I could tell that even though I knew no one, I would still have a good time because I would be getting a well-planned workout from someone who obviously knows how to coach runners. We started with 4 strides, and then off with the 300s!

It was probably good that I had not pre-calculated what time I should be running the 300's otherwise I think I would have been second guessing myself. My mind looked at the splits as I completed them and thought they were slow (turns out that if the intervals are not 400, 800, or 1600, I am incapable of quickly doing the mental math while running fast or recovering). The other runners on the track were all different paces which was cool - I was getting passed and passing others, etc. I was running by myself, but, really, during the intervals everyone pretty much was.

I did all 16. It felt hard, but, well, not THAT hard. I certainly wasn't in pain so hopefully he didn't think I was trying to be an over-achiever by doing them all (since the majority of the folks did not do all 16, likely because they were tapering for Boston, or some other race or something). My average time was 78 seconds which translates to 6:56 pace. Which turns out is faster than my 5K pace. But to me, this just proves that I can run 6:56 pace in a 5K and I will get that stupid sub-22.

During the practice, he was both running himself, and taking photos of the runners, pulling his kids (he had at least two cute little ones) on the outside of the track in a wheeled cart. Dude is full of energy. Seriously, this little adventure in trying something new was 100% worth it. I hope the next time I go turns out just as fun. The key will be making sure I can squeeze it into my post-work schedule with any traffic, later afternoon meetings, etc.




Update! Totally forgot to mention this excellent deal from one of our Ragnar sponsors, ProCompression!

Get $20 off a pair of socks and free shipping. Can’t beat that with a stick. Use code: RR20. (good through the end of April 2012).

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Unattached Long Run

Well, not completely unattached. But training for Ragnar is so fundamentally weird and nebulous, that it’s not even clear that a long run is good enough. It’s like taking echinacea for a cold. You’re sort of skeptical it’s really doing anything. But you take it anyway.

I have to say that, without the long run being directly related to a marathon or at least a half marathon race, it sort of lost it’s appeal for me. But again, I felt I needed to do it. So I planned 18 miles. The longest I ran previously was 14.5 miles 3 weeks ago. Then then 26.2 six weeks ago RnR New Orleans.

I decided that it would be more… interesting… if I ran from home rather than my usual drive-to-the-pier-and-run-coast-highway. By the way, I live 7+ miles inland. For you land-locked folks, I know this is nothing. Laughable. But in my entire lifetime, I’ve lived within 5 miles of the coast (Lake Elsinore was the most land-locked place I’ve ever lived. Thirty miles inland as the crow flies  - but in a valley so that in the summer you fried your tuckus off with 105 degrees).

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I figured there were some hills I would have to deal with but the net would be downhill, so, score!

Yeah, not so much.  Turns out it was only a net 60 feet downhill.

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That first hill, I do 2-3 times a week, so it was NBD. But those  peaks in miles 3-5? Yeah, thank God they were in the first part of the run. They were steep like the Hot Chocolate 15K. In fact, frankly, they were worse. I’m quite certain they make up the majority of the 1173 feet I climbed over 18 miles. So the first third of the run was painful. I was then thankful that Margot did not take me up on my offer to take her very hilly Runner #3 legs.

I also broke the law today when my planned route had a construction closure with concrete barricades that I decided I would ignore and sneak around. The Long Run makes even the biggest Goodie Two Shoes Rule Follower throw caution to the wind. I ran by a big Catepillar thingy-monster-machine and  a huge trench (i.e. 10 feet deep? more?)  in the road on Jefferson Dr to get to downtown Carlsbad. It was maybe 800 meters of closed road, so it was worth the rule-breaking. But funnily, I ran much faster in this stretch (runnin’ scurred).

I got to the coast and it was smooth sailing from there. Splits were much better (ahhh, baby rolling hills and cool breezes).

Final stats (mile 1 is my standard run-from-home hill, but mile 4 and 5 were ass-busters):

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I’m feeling a little more prepared for Ragnar. Pam, who is significantly more bad-ass than myself, swapped runner positions with me (thank you, Pam!!!) so while I have more miles to run (35), I don’t have a 17-mile final leg. I really felt like I was going to let the team down if I had to run that last one and end up at 9:30 pace. I am way more comfortable with a 60+ mpw runner taking it!

Less than two weeks till Go-Time!!!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Carlsbad 5000: PR Time (and Race Photo?!)

Let me first say: somewhere in the vast field of strewn garbage that is my Race Photos, there was actually a gem (by my standards).

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I liked it so much I considered buying it! That's crazy talk! And then I saw that the digital download is $22.95. Which is straight-up ridiculous.

(I should do some kind of market survey of other runners and find out what they would pay for an awesome race pic because it seems like no one I know has ever purchased one. It might show them they could actually make more money if they charged a little less - increased sales volume AND happier runners. I know I would have paid $10 for it – no more than that though).


So the race. I haven't even downloaded the splits from my Garmin which kind of tells you it was the tiniest little PR celebration in my mind.

I arrived near the start around 8:40am for a race start of 9:23am (women 30-39). I found parking, easily, near the train station which was my biggest and clearly unfounded worry. I did a mile and change of warm up, two strides, and then hit the porta potties (no toilet paper, thankfully, I didn't need to drop any kids off at the pool). Wandered over to the start and waited. As I waited, the picture dude came over (he was snapping pics all over) and here was my chance to actually compose myself and this was the outcome:

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When given all the chances possible to take a good photo, I will find a way to screw it up.

Shortly after, Nicole found me (how she did is amazing considering my height) a few minutes after another runner behind me randomly tapped me and wished me luck (which was really nice, I am still kind of struck by it - it was like saying "peace be with you" or something in church when you turn around to some stranger in the pew behind you).

We took off on-time (if not maybe 20 seconds before 9:23am), and within 20 yards, one girl goes down hard. Ouch. Look down at pace says 6:12, and Nicole is already saying we're going too fast. Aye aye, Captain. This was race #4 for her, each with only 15 minutes of rest (!!!). Who's ready for Ragnar? She would have fully kicked my ass in race #1, but smartly slowed it down and let me go and kill myself in the first mile.

Mile 1: 6:56

This mile was mostly downhill, so it felt pretty good. I mean, that was my first sub-7 mile in a race since high school. Seriously. We hit the turn and it was uphill into a headwind. 

Mile 2: 7:14 (? I think)

Mile 2 kind of broke me. I was gunning for 21:59 and I think had I not let myself get mentally beaten down by this mile, I might have pulled it off.
We got a little downhill and then turned back for the last stretch on the 101. And paid for the downhill with an uphill. This mile reminded me why I hate 5Ks. My legs didn’t want to do it anymore. I didn’t necessarily feel tired, breathing wise, by my legs just didn’t want to go any faster.

Mile 3: 7:13 (Going off memory here.)

Last .14: 51 (?  I am really that lazy that I don’t feel like hooking up my garmin to the computer - so I added the 3 previous splits up and subtracted from the total finish time).

Official finish time: 22:14

Garmin pace as 7:05, official 7:09 (or 7:10, I can’t remember).

My previous 5K PR was like 23:27, I think (on a course that was long). But, yeah, that 21:59 eluded me. I’m sure if I do some speedwork on the track and race the distance a few more times than like twice a year, I’ll probably drop under 22:00. But I truly dislike running 5Ks, so I’m not really sure I want to bother at this juncture.

I was happy to come in in first 250 to get the medal - which is your standard good quality medal that Competitor Group races provide. Considering I paid $30 for the race, got a nice medal and well-fitting tech-tee, it was a good deal. The food at the end, which was only a box of cascadia (?) cereal, was definitely week. But since it was just a 5K, it wasn’t that big of a deal.

Nicole and I then meandered around for a bit - she had 90 minutes before her last race where we were to meet up with Caitlin. I wanted to try to get in 15-16 miles (which didn’t happen) but I only managed to do 5 until I had to get back for the last race (which technically, I bandited. But I didn’t have my d-tag on, nor did I take a medal).

Likely you’ve already read Nicole’s or Caitlin’s recap, but suffice to say, Nicole and I decided, wordlessly actually, that we were going to pace Caitlin to a huge PR. She said 8-9 minute pace, which we took more like 8. Girlfriend killed it with 25 and change AND got a medal.

A little more than two weeks to Ragnar – ahhhhhhh!!! Ok, gotta go watch Pauly D’s new show. Yeah, Buddy!