Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Gently Used Tiger Tail Giveaway & Pro Compression Promo

Stop the Presses! I am not posting some kind of race recap! I know.

Work has swallowed me up. My Google Reader looks like the I-don’t-have-an-appointment-line at a California DMV. So hopelessly long, you think you might say “eff it” and come back another time. In this case the “Eff it” = “Mark all as Read” and start over.

So, I have been chugging along with my made up training plan to Not Die in the Harding Hustle 50K on the 7th. Which most recently involved a slow 24 miles on Sunday, in sunny, dry 70s. Consumed nearly 70 ounces of slightly diluted banana nuun. With no trips to the rest room other than at mile 4 when I hadn’t yet sweat or drank much. So that tells you how much sweating and evaporating was going on. I usually drink around 28 ounces for 20 miles when its not warm and dry out. But I am finally into the taper so no more ridiculously long runs until “race” day (race in quotes because I will in no way be actually racing. Just “racing” to make the cutoffs).

Tiger Tail Massage Stick

Anyway, so, yeah, I am giving away my Tiger Tail massage stick. I recently got The Stick which suits my needs better than the Tiger Tail, which is a good product, but isn’t working for me. I got the least flexible stick because I am one of those people that needs massages to be mostly painful. The Tiger Tail is a bit to gentle for my taste.

 IMG_5408

This giveaway is entirely out of my own pocket, i.e. product, shipping, etc. It is gently used, so, it isn’t new. But it’s practically new other than some dust. If you want to win this thing, leave a comment on this post.

If you follow me on twitter (@lil_yogini), let me know in your comment and you’ll get an extra entry (look at me, being all blogger-ish). I’ll accept entries through July 1st, 11:59pm, and compile the list into a numbered spreadsheet, and use a random number generator to draw it. Shipping will be whatever is the cheapest option for me (since it’s my moola). Good only for addresses in the United States (50 states, sorry Canada, Guam, Puerto Rico – this blog makes zero dollars, so, gotta keep my shipping cost down).

ProCompression

The folks at ProCompression have come up with yet another awesome color of socks. I dig orange.

Marathon Orange - PRO Compression - Google Chrome 6262012 74109 PM.bmp

(Socks: http://www.procompression.com/marathon-orange/)

They are offering 40% off on this sock with free shipping through July 10, 2012 using the code SOM610.

At $30, they are an excellent value. For races, I use either ProCompression or CEP (and I own 2 other brands of socks). The others options are not as good, fit-wise, compression-wise, and style-wise.

In the interest of full-disclosure, I was offered a free pair of socks to promote their newest color release. However, I must also note that I am BS-averse and prone to brutal foot-in-mouth honesty. So I’m not just sayin’ it. It’s a good sock for $30. The full CEP socks retail for nearly $60 and rarely discounted more than 10-20%.

Ultra-marathon in less than two weeks. Eeeekkkkk!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Gettin’ Durrrrty

Let’s see how fast I can dump my thoughts into this post.

Shortly after I committed to pacing O2O and deemed it a really long training run, I decided that if I was doing a 26 mile training run, then I could probably hack a 50K. I have no idea if this logic is really sound. Somehow I doubt it, but we’re runners. We’re often stupid about races and realistic goals.

I went beyond this and decided that it wouldn’t be a “real ultra” unless I did on a trail like every other ultra-runner out there. Which in Southern California = lots of hills.

Or just One Really Big Hill. Called Santiago Peak (i.e. highest point in Orange County).

About an hour north of me is the Harding Hustle 50K (15K and 30K also) on July 7th. After I registered for this I figured maybe I should to run some trail races since the last one I did was in 2003 - a half marathon around Vail Lake in Temecula. Might be a good idea.

So I got myself some trail shoes (Brooks Cascadia 7) in a fairly ugly color combination, some Dirty Girl Gaiters, and registered for Dirt Devil Racing’s Cougar Half Marathon.

The race was a week out from pacing Ojai; I wasn’t sore but I would strongly hesitate to say I was in any kind of racing shape. I had planned this to be a test run. Just go out there, run a bit harder than easy, get some longer trail running experience.

Then I got the race information email and they threw out this little diddy in the course description:

“Any runner that breaks 2 hours will qualify for an invitation to the Dirt Devil Dirty Throwdown Invitational Marathon”

Why must they taunt me with such a reasonable challenge?! Even on a hilly course, I can break 2 hours (case in point, when I was running overall slower, 2011 Highland YMCA Half Marathon - 1000+ feet of climbing), so this seemed entirely doable and within my parameters of not putting out a “full racing effort”. And out the window went my completely-for-fun trail run.

The race was to start at 7am - I arrived at 6:05am to find that the County of San Diego had not opened the access gate to the parking lot like they were supposed to, prompting the race directors to line us up until we could get in. Thanks to this snafu, the race started about 40 minutes late. Luckily the weather complied with June Gloom that didn’t burn off until 9:30am.

For the most part the race went well.

cougar_start

At one point I was contemplating rattlesnakes and how I would highly doubt any would be dumb enough to come out on the trail with 300+ runners pounding the dirt. Then I wondered if, like humans, rattlesnakes could have mental illness and just defy reason, logic, and instinct. Mentally ill rattlesnakes. I think of weird things when I run.

There was one bitch of a climb - Cougar Mountain - we had to crawl up twice. The front side of it wasn’t overly steep. I had a few brief walking spells towards the top when the trail was steeper. Going down the back side was crazy - it was fun but at times I worried I would fall on my face. Climbing up the back side on the way back, on the other hand, was pretty brutal. Lots of walking as walking was only slightly slower than running.

cougar_half_elev

I was working only as hard as I felt I needed to get the sub 2 hours. I knew I was cutting it close, but that I could pick it up in the last mile and make up some time.

Around mile 12 I had the sneaking suspicion the course was not 13.1. When my Garmin beeped for mile 13 (I was at 1:58 and change), I wasn’t even close to where we started. I looked at my watch at 13.1 miles = 1:59:24, and still could not see the finish line, finish area, or any indication I was close to the finish.

cougar_finish

And that is when I said “f*ck it” and slowed my pace way down. I let 3 women pass me and frankly, I didn’t give a shit. I finished with 13.67 miles, 2:05:18 (garmin).

Split Time Distance Elevation Gain Elevation Loss Avg Pace
1 08:38.8 1 0 54 8:39
2 08:15.1 1 39 33 8:15
3 08:40.5 1 31 15 8:41
4 08:59.6 1 104 120 9:00
5 10:42.0 1 277 0 10:42
6 08:33.6 1 0 346 8:34
7 08:38.3 1 0 12 8:38
8 08:25.9 1 18 12 8:26
9 12:41.5 1 351 156 12:42
10 08:27.9 1 53 157 8:28
11 09:06.7 1 30 37 9:07
12 09:05.7 1 35 31 9:06
13 08:44.2 1 17 37 8:44
14 06:18.7 0.67 8 0 9:23
 Summary 2:05:18 13.67 965 1,010 9:10

Note Death Mile #9. Also note the “I don’t give two shits anymore” final .67 miles – slowest pace of the race (aside from the hill climbing).

Apparently, it was known the course was long. It wasn’t mentioned in the race details but later, in the results blog post, the author wrote that it was 13.3 miles. However, I’ve never seen a Garmin be that far off before (.37 miles?). And I had one of the closer mileage readings. Other runners I talked to had 13.85 and 14+ (which seems way off). I think the course is actually somewhere between 13.5 and 13.75. Had I known this I would have either (a) decided to run the whole thing easy, or (b) actually race it and give myself a fighting chance at breaking 2 hours. I am somewhat annoyed that the course was known to be 13.3 miles, yet it wasn’t mentioned until after.

Anyway, this race left me feeling slightly scared about the Harding Hustle. But I still think I can make the cutoffs. If the heat doesn’t bury me.

My Cascadias and Dirty Girl Gaiters worked fabulously. I highly recommend these gaiter thingies for keeping crap out of your shoes. I still got copious amounts of fine dirt that crept through the forefoot of the shoes and my socks (very dirty post-race feet), but no rocks, thorny dried grass spikey things, etc.

I am not, though, sold on the handheld for my ultra effort. The handheld kind of makes me nuts. But the fuel belt bottles are apparently a huge pain in the ass for ultra aid station refilling. As if I need to be buying more gear, but it almost seems like I need a runner-friendly hydration pack (i.e. Camelbak)? Any ultra runners out there who might be reading with an opinion on this?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Ojai to Ocean Marathon: Foray into the World of Leading a Marathon Pace Group

When I found out Compete Green’s Ojai to Ocean marathon was sold out shortly after Ragnar (I had the long mileage week I could use as part of marathon training, so I figured it would be good course to try to knock some more minutes off my marathon PR), I signed up to their wait list. About 2 weeks before the race, the directors sent out an email about the wait list (that it may open up for a limited number of slots) and that they were looking for pacers, including a 4:10 pacer. For whatever reason, it sounded like the perfect idea. I would then use that as training for some other race or something (*cough*trail ultra*cough*). About a week later they opened up the wait list, first come, first serve. Had I put in more than a 16 miler in the 4 weeks prior to race day I probably would have been annoyed because I obviously wasn’t going to renege on my pacer commitment. In reality, I wasn’t going to be PR ready by June 3rd. After some pacer volunteer juggling, I ended up assigned to the 4:25 group (10:06/mi pace).

With the no dog sitter situation, it became clear it was going to be logistically painful to drag the Husband with me so I ended up flying solo. But not totally solo. My coworker’s long term girlfriend was running the full, along with Sarah, Nicole, Danica, and Mason from Nuun. It was pretty funny that nearly 3 hours away from home, I knew quite a few people running (even some SDTC runners from Tuesday night track).

The Pre-Race

I checked into my hotel Motel 5+1, opened the room door to find it wasn’t actually vacant. Get another room assigned. This one was vacant but the shower was dirty with some weird machine grease like spots. I had no desire after 3+ hours of driving to deal asking for another room because, frankly, I didn’t know what I was going to find on the third attempt (Dead body? Scary homeless leprechaun?). I mean, there were several shady looking types milling around the parking lot. I dropped my crap off and headed to packet pickup where I ran into Nicole and her hubby, Mason, and my coworker. I made plans with my coworker+gf for dinner.

2012-06-02 16.06.47

Around 8pm after the marathon fundraiser pasta dinner, I reluctantly made my way back to my craptastic lodging. I had picked up a big bottle of local Pale Ale at BevMo to complete my carboload preparation and found that my hotel actually came through for me in the form of a bathroom bottle opener!

2012-06-02 20.47.35

Before I hit the sack, I actually took half a dose of a sleep aid knowing that the noise level outside might not be ideal (which turned out to be true - I woke up several times to all kinds of weird noises). 3:15 am was my wakeup call. At 4:30am I was the first customer served at Starbucks (apparently no medals are given for that. WTF). 4:40am I was in the line for the fairgrounds. It took the better part of 15 minutes to get in and $5 for parking (which we had been told at packet pickup would not be manned, thus free). As I was getting ready to go, a runner was asking everyone in the vicinity if they had spare socks. Oddly, I did. I had an extra pair of running socks in my purse from an RRS shoe shopping visit. I was a little morning-grumpy-cranky so I mumbled something about this being “weird and random” as I handed them over, and when she wanted to pay me I wholeheartedly refused (for my shitty Walmart Danskin socks? No. It’s fine). After the race. though, I found a thank you note with money (!) shoved in the car door handle. I wish I could find her and return it! Anyway, I hope they didn’t give her blisters. And that she had a good race.

The Race

After getting bussed up to the start, we found a decent number of porta potties with a reasonable wait (maybe 15 minutes). Wouldn’t have hurt to have had a few more since it seems some of the shuttles behind us might have been cutting it close with the 6am start. They announced the pacers and told us to make our way into the crowd announcing our finish time. I wasn’t sure how much self-regulation of paces was happening in the absence of corrals so I had to ask around. One dude was kind of full of himself as I was going through this process, snarkily telling me to move way further back. As if he is some elite or running sub 3 or something. This whole slow-versus-fast marathoner BS that some runners seem to have is so not attractive.

I finally settle in a place that seems reasonable based on the runners I questioned around me. And within a couple minutes of yelling out my finish time I had about 5 people around me, asking if I planned to run even splits, etc, etc. So my fear of having no one to pace did not materialize. Thankfully. I told them I planned on running a slightly negative split.

We started without a horn or gun, or anything, so it was a bit unexpected. Roughly about 10 minutes late.

Because I have the Garmin 110, I don’t see real-time pace. I see projected split time, and sometimes it takes a while in the first mile to hone in. At this point I should have run on feel but I listened to another runner (who earlier had told me she had a bad habit of taking it too fast in the outset) who said maybe we were taking it a bit slow (and my Garmin was still showing around 11:00 pace), so I picked it up a bit. This resulted in mile 1, 9:55. 13 seconds faster than 10:06 goal. Pacer fail already!?

Through a massive stroke of luck, I had a seasoned runner on my right: 131 marathons, and currently paces for the Clif Pace Team 5:00-5:30 (who apparently requires you finish within a 2 minute window, not going over). She told me that she gives herself the first 3 miles to find the pace. She was the bomb. And also from San Diego.

Lesson #1 in pacing: You are the pacer – you will have to find the pace on your own for the next 26 miles. Do not let another runner influence this and make you run faster (or slower).

Lesson #2: Give yourself some time to find the pace. It probably won’t be right on in the first mile. Or even the second.

Miles 2-6: 10:06, 10:03, 10:21 (hill), 10:10 (more hill then down), 10:00

By mile 3 I felt like I had found the pace, adjusting our speed slower on the inclines in mile 4 and 5.

Fullscreen capture 682012 70535 AM.bmp

We had a good group of men and women the first 15 miles. I did a lot of talking. Partly to make sure I didn’t speed up. It was extremely difficult for me in the first half to keep my pace above the 10:00, with the downhill. Before we hit the half, my newly found experienced pacer friend (who I think is in the 60-64 AG, based on her required BQ time of 4:25) told me that she could tell she was not in “4:25 condition” based on her heart rate and would likely have to peel off (I’m not going to lie, this made me slightly nervous – having her in the group made me feel much more at ease).

What I find interesting about my memories of this race is that I have little recollection about specific miles and markers, the scenery around those miles, how I was feeling relating to different points, etc. Talking to the group and focusing on hitting the splits took so much mental energy I really didn’t pay attention to anything else. In most every marathon I have raced, I have good recollection of the course. Pacing takes an enormous amount of focus but in an entirely different way than racing.

Splits from 7-18: 10:02,10:04, 10:08, 10:01, 10:05, 10:01, 09:59, 10:05, 10:03, 10:06, 09:58, 10:06

Fullscreen capture 682012 70642 AM.bmp

From mile 16 to 18, I started losing people, even though my splits were pretty damn even. Either taking off ahead of me because they used the pace group to slow themselves down, or dropping back because the pace was no longer maintainable. At one point, one of the runners started to hit the proverbial “wall” and another runner asked me how to deal with it. I seriously had no useful answer.

I said something along the lines of “I try to ignore it. Push through it.” Another runner suggested changing speeds. But, really, if The Wall were easily fixable by following some steps, it wouldn’t be called THE WALL. You know? Generally if you’ve hit the wall, it’s because you effed something up (training, nutrition, pace, etc). I felt bad I didn’t have a good answer. Maybe because it was only my 5th marathon. And my 131 marathons pacer friend had already dropped off so I couldn’t pick her brain.

Coming into mile 20, we had a stroke of luck. The course crosses active train tracks and the Amtrak passenger train was going North. We eased up ever so slightly and managed to avoid having to wait for the train and the crossing arms to lift. This is a bit of a course flaw; what if you got stuck waiting for a really long freight train or something? At mile 20, I’d be pissed.

Because I hadn’t studied the course…

Lesson #3: Study the course! At least look at it once!

…I didn’t realize that we were about to hit the ocean. It was a beautiful surprise! I still had about 3-4 people in my group, and one just ahead who was going for her 4:25 BQ (seriously, when I’m 60, can I be as awesome as these ladies?). I tried to offer as much advice as I could. My legs were hurting. I was freaking hungry in a “real food” kind of way (which was so weird – I think the fact that my heart rate was pretty low, it wasn’t hiding my empty stomach hunger). But I wasn’t tired. I knew I was going to make it tight on pace at that point, so that was a relief. But it was pretty brutal to knowing I still had an hour+ left and I couldn’t speed up to make it end sooner. Unless I wanted to be  “Total Asshole Pacer”.

By mile 23, I had lost everyone, save for the lady up ahead who I think was still using me as a pacer, but more to make sure she stayed ahead but not too far and get burnt out. So to keep myself busy and also try to be helpful, I started cheering for everyone. Everywhere. I called across the to the other runners looping back in the last 2 miles. I tried to get people that were walking to start running with me. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes I got smiles and waves. Other times, I apparently annoyed the shit out of people.

By mile 25, I had caught up with the runner going for her 4:25 BQ. Myself and her two sons (who were running her in) talked her ear off, spewing instructions, motivations, information, etc. I knew she was going to make it but it was her second attempt in as many weeks (yeah, she had ran Ogden and missed by something like a minute) so they were hypersensitive to the potential disappointing “Just missed it!” outcome. She pulled away from me shortly before 26 and I continued to keep my 4:25 pace.

Splits 19-26.22: 10:02, 10:04, 10:05, 10:07, 10:08, 10:02, 10:06, 09:51, 02:12

I crossed, Garmin time 4:23:47. I actually have no idea what my chip time was because apparently the pacers were excluded from the official results. The first 13 miles were 2:10:54. Second 13 miles, 2:10:42. Ever so slightly negative split. As I ran to the finish, I told the photographer that this was the first marathon I’ve ever finished smiling! (rather than dying)

ojai20120

All in all, I really enjoyed pacing. It was such an awesome experience.

If you’re thinking about pacing…

  • Make sure you are pacing a time that is comfortable (i.e. 20-40 minutes slower than your recently “raced” marathon times).
  • Use a Garmin (I have no idea how pacers did it before Garmins – I would hope the courses they were on had accurate mile markers)
  • Be ready to talk a lot, answer questions, not have the answer to said questions, offer motivation, etc.
  • Expect to meet lots of awesome runners and have great conversations.


It may even be the most fun you have running 26.2 miles. It was for me!