Thursday, January 24, 2013

Zinfandel is Dangerous

I’m not talking about the weak-ass girly shit of White Zinfandel (this many offend some, but, seriously, it is just one step above a wine cooler), but the Big Red Zin. You can expect that most Zins will be around 14-15%, but because it isn’t super dry and it’s IS super fruity, it can trick you. Let’s just say that pouring out the last bit of wine from the bottle we’re sharing this evening (Leonesse 2009, Temecula Valley), I peeked at the label and it’s 16%. Yes. SIXTEEN.

So the Carlsbad Marathon is this Sunday. We’ve been taunted with forecasted rain, which I decided I would not believe until the day before and, lo and behold, no more rain forecasted for Sunday. Instead we will be freezing our asses off (San Diego style) with low 40s. I’ll take it. I’ll take anything on half a bottle of 16% Zin, but that’s besides the point.

Anyway, so this is the longest stretch in a while where I haven’t raced a distance longer than a half marathon. Last marathon was September 29th. Last 50K (which I honest don’t consider really “racing” because I don’t approach trail races in that mindset) was October 29th. I had a bit of a lapse in December where I fell off the wagon and dragged my ass back on it, Nicole doing the same, and we squeezed in 18 and a 20 miles.Then I surprised the shit out of myself and ran a 1:41:02 half (though, really, I think I was due there based on my 5K and 10K PRs), so I’m a bag of question marks about Sunday,

But I have to say I don’t have the taper crazies. So much so that I’ve had to convince myself to do SOMETHING this week. Work has been busy. Part of me is loving that I’m – to put it in the most mundanely cliché way possible – moving up the ladder. But it’s definitely challenging me not to be lazy. I had to go to Phoenix last week for a conference (with about 3 days notice). This week I’ve had meetings up the wazoo and unrealistic expectations about what a team of 4 software developers can actually complete in 3 months.

The icing on the Marathon Cake is that right after I cross the finish line (provided I don’t blow up and DNF – that has never happened for me, but it’s always possible) I have to haul butt home to a pre-packed suitcase, shower, and drive to LAX to Heathrow for a business trip to our UK office (I’ve never been so that part is cool, but it’s not necessarily the circumstances I’d like to visit the UK under). Thankfully, Husband is driving us (he decided he is coming with me, so at least I’m not by myself – though he will have to keep himself occupied through Thursday in Cambridge while I’m working). Work has certainly turned the screw up a couple notches this month.

So yeah. Nicole and I will be pounding the pavement Sunday. This is the first time in nearly 10 years (last time March 2003) that I’m planning to run a marathon with someone (well, planning as much as one can plan because races are not predictable – we may not have the same race day performance but we’re sticking together as long as it makes sense). I’m looking forward to not being alone for 26 miles and hoping that we both have good races and can push each other through to the finish!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Yes, This is Predictable

I haven’t written anything in nearly 3 months, but, obviously, I feel the need to post the day I destroy my half marathon PR (1:43:56 in December 2011, and 1:41:38 with downhill assist at Faketana Fontana).

So yeah, I’ve been running. And working. And knitting. And remodeling our bathroom (still in progress – we contract out most of the work this time). Though I’ll bet it might have felt awesome to have just been doing nothing for 3 months.But I’d probably be bored out of my skull.

Anyway. I am not one for resolutions. I have written this at least once before. Possibly twice. I just see no significance in starting something just because it’s January 1st. If I want to start something I’ll do it right away. Waiting until the January 1st implies you don’t REALLY want to do and you have to bribe yourself with some kind of deadline.

This is totally turning into a tangent.

So the running. Shin is still wonky. No surprise there. But it’s not really getting any worse and it doesn’t really hurt unless I do too much fast running. Which I am very good at avoiding! Don’t have to twist my arm to convince me not to do tempos or intervals. And, frankly, it seems to be working just fine for me, as far as my race paces.

At the end of October, I ran the Lake Hodges 50K. And because I have awesome luck with trail race weather, the second half of the race the temperatures climbed over 80 hitting 85-90 by the time I finished. It was 100% a death march from mile 26 to 31. I slid from a sub 10:00 pace (including aid station stops) to a walk-run 12:00 or more pace. Managed to finish 5:45 something. I forget the exact time. What I will never forget is mile 1. It was in the 40s that morning so my feet were frozen. Somehow, I chose the wrong foot placement going down a rocky hill and wiped out in a fairly dramatic fashion. I had a 6 inch scratch on my shoulder/back and a huge raspberry and bruise on my outer hip. I got cleaned up a bit at the first aid station but 3 months later I still have lingering discoloration on my hip and some bumps under the skin. And a scar on my shoulder/back. But I finished! While feeling like a newbie trail-running dumbass. Bah.

Two weeks later I ran Silver Strand Half. Finished 1:44 and lots of change. It was alright. The last 3 miles I had no desire to push it for a couple second PR, so I just said “fuck it” and kept the same pace.

On Turkey Day, I FINALLY broke 22 in the 5K at the Oceanside Turkey Trot. Seriously. Finally. I had been chasing that mark for at least a year. I really didn’t expect it since I have been doing zero speed work. Zero point zero. 21:46, a few second shy of a sub-7 overall pace.

I intended to run the Tucson Marathon on 12/9 (I was registered, so, I had to eat that entry fee). My hormones were seriously out of control that week and my shin had been hurting a bit. I felt like driving our asses 7 hours to Tucson, burdening my parents with watching the dogs, all for what likely would have been a half-assed failed attempt to PR/BQ (it’s a downhill course, so it was entirely conceivable I could drop 7 minutes by virtue of 2000 ft of elevation drop – if I was in the right mindset) was a bad idea. It was confirmed to be a good decision when Aunt Flo showed up 2 days early, on race morning. That would have been fun.

I ran Borrego Springs Half on the 15th where coming in second female overall (tiny-ass race) got me nothing. Only 1st place got something and what was more annoying is the first place female’s time was only 1:44. I didn’t have a great race that day finishing 1:46, but every race can’t be good. I did my best with it – at least I had a negative split.

Operation Jack on the 26th – I decided I was not going to attempt any PR and cruise through that one (first mile was 8:43) but I ended up picking it up more as I went along and then got bitch-slapped by the wind in the last 3 miles. Finished 1:45.

Then Nicole and I resolved to get our asses in gear in order to survive Carlsbad on January 27th. Both of us had kind of fallen off the long run wagon and we had barely enough time to ramp back up to 20 with a 3 week taper. 18 miles the last weekend in 2012, then 20 miles the first weekend of 2013. They went surprising well! The bummer for me is that I am supposed to be flying out to the UK the evening of the 26th. At least the rest of my coworkers are leaving that night. I will have to fly out of LAX the same day as the marathon and miss the first day of our meetings. I feel kinda guilty but dammit! I want to run Carlsbad. It’s my favorite race ever and they didn’t set the date for the trip until this week. I hope running a marathon helps me sleep on an 11-hour red-eye.

And finally. This morning.

At the Southern California Half Marathon, I pulled a rabbit out of hat. Or my ass. Sames.

By San Diego standards, it’s been cold. It was 28 this morning at 6am when I left. When I got to Irvine at 7am, it was 37. But I think it works for me (can’t take the New England out of me). I didn’t know how I was going to run. I figured another 1:44-1:45 and I was cool with that (I actually told myself that at the start line). The course is mostly flat – there are some ups and downs here and there but nothing drastic. Starts and finishes in the same place, so, net change of zero. Pretty boring with lots of turns and loops.

I decided to exercise my propensity for screwing up my Garmin and hit the start button TWICE, when I didn’t see “timer started” pop up. Apparently I turned it on and immediately off. Around a half mile in or so, I realized my mistake and started it. Most of the race I had an idea of the pace I was running but I was not really sure where I stood on finish time.

I took advantage of down hills, clocking 7:30’s. Had 7:40-50’s on the uphill miles. Around mile 8, I realized that I had a good chance to PR. There were a few race clocks at mile markers, and quick calculations left me sort of perplexed. I didn’t want to believe what I was seeing, and I was also afraid that IF I believed it, I would sabotage myself.

So I kept trucking, resolving to just try to keep a steady pace. It never felt really bad. It got harder but not crazy uncomfortable. When I turned the corner to the finish the clock read 1:40:xx. My prior calculations were confirmed but I was still not really believing what I was seeing. I tried to kick with whatever I had left. I think I had more left in that final stretch, but to be honest, I was just so damn happy to be massively PR’ing. I really was not clear where exactly my finish time would be because of my Garmin stupidity.

I asked another runner I had leapfrogged with at the end the time she had (I finished a couple steps behind her). She told me 1:41:09. Sweet! Walked around a bit and drove home. Checked out the official results this afternoon… 1:41:02. WTF!? Had I known I was flirting with 1:40’s I would have busted my ass a little harder. But then again – had I been fully aware of what I was doing over the 13 miles, well, I might have added another 1:45 to my pile of recent half marathon results.

So there you have it. A long-winded likely boring recap of my running adventures since October. Now I have to go pee and hydrate some more. Company holiday party tonight!