Tuesday, January 15, 2013

2013 Running Goals & Preliminary Race Schedule

I typically make one post for all my goals for the year, including non-fitness goals, but since I have so many running goals I thought that deserved it's own post. I'm still thinking about other life goals and will post that separately later.

My main running goal for 2013 is to find a better balance between speed and distance. I still have lofty distance goals as I delve deeper into ultramarathons, but it's time to stop using the move as an excuse to slack off and work on some speed again. I also want to do more fun and unique races, and more trail runs. So yes, these are very aggressive goals and I may not achieve all of them, but making them doesn't cost me anything so I might as well aim high and see where I land. 
  • Run + Walk a total of 2013 miles for Moon Joggers
  • Run 1300 miles (108/mo; 25/wk)
  • 1 mile in 8 minutes
  • 5K in 28 minutes (9 min pace) or PR (sub-29:23)
  • 10K in 62 minutes (10 min pace) or PR (sub-1:03:28)
  • Half Marathon in 2:15 (10:15 miran pace) or PR (sub-2:18)
  • Race with the Race Guards team
  • Ultra longer than 50 miles
  • Relay Race (like Ragnar Napa Valley or The Relay
  • Volunteer for at least 6 races
Tentative 2013 Racing Schedule

This is still very much in flux because I'm still learning about all the local races, but I have already registered for the ones in blod and I'm strongly considering the rest, but will likely not do all of these and add a bunch more because I plan to run as many as I can with DSE and Tracy's Racing since they are nearby, inexpensive and with great company.

What awesome race am I forgetting?

2012 Recap: Goals Update

Moving to San Francisco threw a wrench into life in general, so some of these goals suffered or I forgot about them. But considering such a huge life change, I did pretty good. 

  • Run 1000+ miles (80/mo; 20/wk) - Check! 1141 miles!
  • Run a 5K in 29 minutes - Semi-Check: 29:23
  • Run a half marathon in 2:15 or PR (sub-2:24) - Check! 2:18:03
  • Run a marathon in 5 hours or PR (sub-5:22) - Check! 4:52:17
  • Become a Marathon Maniac (3 in 90 days) - Check! MM #5026
  • 30 day running streak (1 mile/day) - Nope
General Fitness
  • Walk 500+ miles (42/mo; 10/wk) - Check! 600 miles!
  • 30 day plank-a-day challenge - Check!
  • 10 hours of yoga per month (2.5/wk) - I have no idea, but I doubt it
  • Bike at least once a week - Nope, moving to SF threw a wrench in this one
  • Drive car < 6500 miles (541/mo; 125/wk) - I stopped tracking once we moved to SF, but since we don't drive here, it's probably a Check.
  • Spend < $1000 at restaurants - Stopped tracking when I moved to SF, but with prices being so high in SF I doubt it. 
  • Eat restaurant food no more than 100x (8x per month) - Probably failed at this too, but again stopped tracking when I moved to SF
  • Do 1 new thing each month - Totally forgot about this one
  • Read 6 books - Check! 9 books read/listened

2012 Recap: Races and Milestones

Until I started pulling numbers for this recap I did not realized I had raced so much in 2012. With a total of 24 races, that's 2 more than I have ever raced in one year (2010). Unlike 2011, which was the year of speed, 2012 was about building endurance and dipping my toe in the ultramarathon pool. Even without a focus on speed, I managed to PR at 6 disstances at the beginning of the year when I was still reaping the benefits of the speed work in 2011. I think 2013 will be about finding a balance between speed and distance, but I'm still working on drafting those goals, so stay tuned.

  • walked 600 miles
  • ran 1141 miles
  • biked 468 miles
  • total run + walk: 1741 miles
  • total (all 3): 2,206 miles
  • RRCA Certified Running Coach
  • Moved to San Francisco
  • 50 Mile Ultra
  • 6 Hour Timed Race
  • Raced on back-to-back days
  • Marathon Maniac
6 New PRs:
  1. marathon = 4:52:17 (29:12)
  2. half marathon = 2:18:03 (5:57)
  3. 12K = 1:21:58 (7:15)
  4. 10K = 1:03:28 (2:52)
  5. 5K = 29:23 (1:03)
  6. magic mile = 8:10 (7s)
24 races: 

Ten more races than last year, and 2 more than previous record in 2010. Breakdown per distance: 5 5Ks, 2 10Ks, 1 12K, 1 15K, 9 Half Marathons, 4 Marathons, 1 50M, 1 6H

Monday, January 14, 2013

Race Recap: Disney's Goofy Challenge

It is no secret that I'm not a fan of Disney races. Now that I have first hand experience with a race longer than a 10K, I can confirm that these races are absolutely not worth the price of admission. I should have just taken Dad's word for it, but you know how we humans don't believe it until we try it ourselves. I can see the appeal, in theory, but the few highlights of Disney magic did not outweigh the negatives for me. I'm glad I came back for it though to run with my Galloway buddies. We had so much fun in our color coordinated outfits.

My Orlando Running Group, Sole Mates AKA Crazy Mates because all of us are doing Goofy. First up was the half marathon on Saturday. I took it easy and ran most of the way with my Orlando Galloway running group. It was a lot of fun, but that had more to do with the people than the course. Running down Main Street in the Magic Kingdom and seeing Cinderella's Castle in all it's lighted glory was cool, but that was it. The course was basically an out and back to the castle along highways. The last 5K was awful due to the heat and my right leg (inner lower leg just above ankle) started hurting towards the end. I took a quick ice bath at the hotel, refueled at Sweet Tomatoes, then took a nap. We went for a quick dinner at Macaroni Grill then I was back in bed by 8 p.m.

Crazy Mates! Sunday morning I woke up for the marathon in pain. I taped it and hoped for the best, but I was really worried about it. I questioned if I should even start the race, let alone if I'd be able to finish, but I figured that it was probably just tight and it would loosen up in time. It finally did, somewhere during the 2nd half, but it got replaced by pain on top of the ankle on the other leg (likely an overcompensation injury). So from the very first step, I was in pain. I knew what I had to do if I wanted to finish this marathon, so I sadly let my running group go and ran my own race. I knew running this alone in the heat would be tough, and at that moment I wished I had my headphones, but I'm glad I didn't because it forced me to truly experience the race. I had my P&S camera, so I set out to make the most of it. Since it hurt more to walk or start running again, I didn't follow a specific running interval and just jogged at a comfortable pace for a few minutes then waked for 30-60 seconds and on all the hills. The weather was actually cooler than Saturday for longer than I expected, but towards the end the sun came out full force. The pain was at bay thanks to some Tylenol and lots of biofreeze, but I really struggled with the heat and I could no longer run without shade, so that became my new run/walk interval.

Start line fireworks Start to Magic Kingdom: The first 5 miles are on the highway and parking lots leading up to the Magic Kingdom. They have a few characters, photo ops and music along the way, but it's fairly boring. As I was nearing mile 5, my friend Christine found me. This was her first marathon and I was thrilled to see her. We chatted while we walked and ran together for a few minutes,  then I let her go not wanting to slow her down knowing I would not be able to keep up. Then I saw Ric leading the 5:15 pace group and I ran with them for like a minute before I quickly lost them. As I neared Cinderella's Castle, I looked for Jason. He took my pic got my sunglasses, then I was on my own again.

Entering the Magic Kingdom parking lot Before running under the castle Near the castle (by Jason)

Speedway: Less than a mile through the Magic Kingdom, and we're back on the parking lot/roads for 2-3 miles on our way to the Speedway. This was a new part of the course, and it was pretty cool running around the track with all the classic cars and the "characters" from the movie Cars. Up next was another 3-4 miles of back roads through their water treatment plan (really?) on our way to Animal Kingdom. This was boring as hell, but at least there was some shade. 

Riding Expedition Everest Animal Kingdom: As soon as you enter the backlot of Animal Kingdom, there is basically a petting zoo on the side of the road. Instead of standing in line to get your picture with a character, there were cast members holding all kinds of wild life for you to pet or take pictures with, including birds, goats, and a big snake -- I ran away from that one quickly. My friend Eric told me he was DJing just before Everest, so I looked forward to that. On my way there I debated if I should ride Expedition Everest. I knew I'd never run this race again but I was worried about wasting too much time since I was going so slowly. After I saw him and gave him a hug, it was a really nice pick me up and I picked up the pace a bit. As I ran pass Everest, I saw runners running in and that the wait was only 5 minutes so I went for it. It was amusing how we were all running through the queue. Once we got to the loading zone, we only had to wait a few seconds for the loaded car to take off then we were on the ride. Even though I don't love this ride, it was the highlight of the race and I'm really glad I did it. We ran out as soon as it finished and I had a second wind, which was unfortunately quickly squashed because the next mile or so was on a very narrow sidewalk and I was forced to walk.

ESPN Wide World of Sports: The next 2-3 miles suck because they are in the highway with the blazing sun, but around mile 16.5 I ran into Carol and Debbie at the medical tent. I was so happy to see them that I almost cried and the next 3 miles flew by as I ran and chatted with them. Then I lost them during a potty break just before the stadium. I just wanted to keep moving to not stiffen and figured they'd catch me because I was moving slower, but then I really had to pee so I sped up in hopes of finding a potty and being out before they caught up. As soon as I went in, I saw them run pass me. When I got out, I could see them in the distance but I simply couldn't catch them because we were now back in the sun and running up an on-ramp. Running around the stadium was a nice touch and shady. 

Tigger! 20 Mile Celebration: Since this was the 20th anniversary, they had a special arch way mile marker at mile 20. There was Disney music playing with characters along each side of the road and Minnie, Mickey and Pluto up on stage. I stopped and waited in a short line to take took a picture with Tigger then went in search of my potty break. My biggest complaint about this race is why isn't there Disney music blaring out of every speaker along the course. They have frequent entertainment, but a lot of it is DJs or speakers playing pop music. I think it would add so much more to the experience and magic if there was Disney music the whole time. 

Hollywood Studios: Mile 20 - 23 was the worse part because it was all on the highway on our way to Hollywood Studios and the sun was blazing. My stomach started to hurt every time I tried running in the sun, so I walked until there was shade again. Once I entered Hollywood Studios, I saw some familiar faces volunteering and I started getting emotional. Then I saw Donna, called out to her, and she ran to me and gave me the biggest hug. That opened up the flood gates. Mile 23 was also the candy station, which I had been looking forward to all day. I checked my phone after this and noticed a text from Tracy and Scott that were visiting the parks and were out on the course waiting for me. I tried to compose myself but once I saw them I started getting emotional again. They took my picture and we hugged as I choked back tears, and as soon as I ran off I broke out in a big sob and cried all the way to the boardwalk. I wasn't sad, just tired and overwhelmed by all the support and relieved that I was going to finish this race and make the cut off. 

Boardwalk: I knew this section well as I had volunteered here many times before and I knew that my parents were here somewhere. I kept looking for them and wondering where they were. I finally saw them just before the last bend to go into Epcot. I once again choked back tears as I hugged them and then started sobbing as soon as I ran past them and into Epcot. These were certainly tears of joy and relief as I was now only 1 mile from the finish line. 

Mile 26! Freaking finally! Finish: I was beyond relieved to finally see mile marker 26. I walked up to it so I would have the strength to run the last stretch to the finish. As soon as I turned into the finish shoot, I saw Jason and threw my hands up in the air then made a kill me know gesture lol I slowed and finally stopped for a second because I wanted a picture of the finish line, then ran it in and threw my hands up in the air as I crossed. I burst into tears again and was so happy to be done. I got my Mickey medal, which is beyond amazing, then staggered over to the Goofy tent. My Galloway group was there volunteering and I was so happy to see them. I hugged Laura through more tears, but I was also all smiles. Carol and Debbie were also there, so we took some pictures together before I made my way to the Galloway tent to reunite with Jason. 

My favorite bling. It's much more impressive and bigger in person. Post-Race: I was convinced the rest of my Galloway group was gone by now since they had all finished 30-60 minutes before me. This thought had made me really sad during those last few miles, but as I neared the tent I saw Chris, Katrina, Todd, Brenda and Omar! I was so happy to see them and had to really hold back tears. It meant so much to me to see them there and it was a special treat to see Omar since I had missed him on the course. After a ton of pictures, Omar offered us some Mimosas and we toasted our accomplishments then went to Unos to refuel and compare notes about the race. 

Final Thoughts: Even though the marathon was really tough for me, I'm glad I did it and finally got to experience this first hand. But never again! I made the best of a bad situation and ran smart to avoid further injury and finish before the cut-off. Today both injuries seem fine and I just have the typical post-marathon soreness. This race does have some moments of Disney magic that I enjoyed (Main St, Cinderella's Castle, Speedway, Everest, Stadium), but that is such a small percentage of the race that it doesn't make up for all the highway running and congestion almost the entire race. I may run a half at Disneyland someday and come back and do another half here for the Coast to Coast medal, but I'll have to think long and hard before making that decision and need lots of peer pressure. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Race Report: New Year's One Day 6-Hour

I ran my last race of 2012 on New Year's Eve, starting at 6pm and ending at midnight. It was the perfect way to bid adieu to 2012 and welcome 2013. This was my first timed event, and I really liked it. It's really weird not having a finish line in sight and knowing that no matter how fast you run it will still take the same amount of time to finish (unless you stop earlier). I really liked the challenge and it's a great way to train yourself to dig deep. Even though I didn't quite run a marathon, I felt just as beat up. I think I'm starting to understand how running a slower marathon is harder than running it hard because at least when you run fast it's over with quicker and the pain usually stops when you cross that finish line. When you run it slower you are on your feet a lot longer and that hurts just as much.

  • 23 laps 
  • 24.4 miles
  • 2/7 in 30-39 age group
  • 30/62 overall place
  • Garmin Total Time: 25 miles in 5:51 @ 14:01 pace
  • Garmin Moving Time: 5:28:51 @ 13:09 pace
  • Full Garmin data: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/256704299)
Swag: Below is a picture of all my race swag. The green hat was an optional purchase, but I got mine for volunteering at the aid station prior to the race. The medal is my 2nd place age group award. We'll also receive a custom coaster with our name and distance completed.


Support: There was a huge aid station near the start/finish of each loop filled to the brim with everything you could possibly want, including water, soda, cookies, candy, pretzels, shot blocks, salt tablets, energy bars and after sunset pizza and hot soup. There was a timing mat we passed each loop with a big screen tv showing your progress and splits. Runner progress was posted to the race site every hour, and the site had a link to allow friends and family to email messages to the runners. I got a few and it was such a treat! My favorite was from George, and I read it at the perfect time when I needed to dig deep and ignore the pain:
"Scott stumbled upon the most advanced weapon in the ultrarunner's arsenal: instead of cringing from fatigue, you embrace it. You refuse to let it go. You get to know it so well you're not afraid of it anymore." Run without fear!

IMG_1508 IMG_1510

Course: Each lap was 1.061 miles around the lagoon at Crissy Field with spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Angel Island, Alcatraz and the San Francisco Bay. The start/finish was about half a mile from my apartment, wich was great for a quick walk home after we finished. The loop is 60% dirt and 40% asphalt. The 6-hour race started at 6 pm and finished at midnight. The sunset was at 5pm, so my entire run was in the dark and it was cold in the low 40s, but that wasn't much of an issue once I was running. As we looped round and round, I took in all the sights and was grateful for a clear night. The Golden Gate Bridge is gorgeous when lit up at night. We could see all the lights from the city and cruise ships in the bay. At one point somewhere in the Marina someone released light lanters. The moon was huge above us lighting the way.

IMG_1512Race: Since Goofy is less than two weeks away, I wanted to take it easy and avoid injury. I could not decide what I wanted my distance goal to be, but I knew I wanted to run at least 20 miles and really wanted to get in a marathon if I felt good. However, my main goal was to practice running at night on tired legs for my upcoming ultra in March. I volunteered at the aid station for 5 hours prior to the race and was on my feet most of that time, so I certainly accomplished that goal.

I started slow with :30/:30 intervals for the first 3-4 miles, then switched to :60/:30 intervals for most of the rest of the race. I felt a twinge in my IT band early on; somewhere around mile 7 I think, but thankfully that settled down quickly. My biggest problem was that I kept having to pee, so that ate up a lot of my time. Having an aid station available every mile is both a blessing and a curse. It's too easy to dilly dally and waste a lot of time, so I tried to only stop once an hour to eat some shot blocks with some water and stretch. The other laps I would stop for a quick sip of water as needed. 

I was feeling really good most of the race, the cool temps certainly helped, and was surprised at how quickly the time flew. That is the beauty of the loops; they let your brain breakdown the race into manageable chunks and you just focus on the next milestone: the next loop or the next hour. I felt like I was flying when I was running, but I know I really wasn't moving as fast as I thought.  Eventually my legs, specially my calves, started to tighten and hurt, but since I knew I wasn't injured I pressed on. I switched to :90/:30 intervals after mile 17, but shortly after gave up on the intervals altogether when I couldn't run any faster and just ran the longer stretches of the rectangular loop at a steady pace and power walked the shorter side where the one tiny hill was, which became a small mountain after so many laps.

I walked one whole lap with Jason and considered walking the rest of the race when I realized there was no way I'd make it to the marathon mark, but I knew that would just drag on so I dug deep and pushed as hard as I safely could for some mental training of running on sore and tight legs. I ran the last lap with Jason and finished strong with less than 10 minutes until midnight. We turned in our timing chip, got our glass of champagne, quickly gathered our gear and bundled up and waited for the countdown to the new year and watched the fireworks over the city. It was the perfect way to end 2012 and I'm so glad that Jason was there to share it with me. 

Post-Race: I wasn't that sleepy when we got home at 1 am, but I was sore all over. After a quick shower and some refueling, it didn't take long to fall asleep. I woke up this morning earlier than I hoped, so went for a walk to shake out the legs and see if anyone was still left at the race site. There were only 2 people there, so I helped them break down the aid station. Talk about active recovery! But I really think it helped. Turns out that I placed 2nd in my age group, so I was able to get my medal before I headed back home. We then walked to lunch for my celebratory milkshake, then got some chores done. I'm still a bit sore, mostly the muscles on the outside of my right leg by my calf, but overall I feel great. I can't wait to try the 24-Hour option next year :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Joy of Trails and 50M Recovery

It's been raining the past few days, although nothing like what we got in Florida, but today was gorgeous all day with clear and sunny skies. Even though I ran 10K yesterday, I couldn't waste such gorgeous weather, so I laced up my trail running shoes and went out to enjoy it. I only ran 3 miles, with 2 on trails, but boy did I forgot how exhausting it can be running on trails with rolling hills. It's also really exhilarating, specially with views like this.
Wood Line in Presidio
Wood Line in the Presidio
Recovery from the 50 miler is obviously going very well.  I was sure to wear my compression gear and ice the 2 days following the race, and take ibuprofen as needed. I listened to my body and took it easy when it asked, and I almost feel completely recovered. I can tell there is some lingering fatigue in my legs, but that could be the trails. Here's a timeline of how recovery progressed:

  • Sat 11/10: Finished the race at 11 pm with knee/it band so painful that even moving it an inch was excruciating.
  • Sun 11/11: Still sore everywhere below belly button, but knee felt much better. I could move it and bend it just fine. Braved the stairs and went on a short 1 mile roundtrip walk for lunch and my celebratory milkshake.
  • Mon 11/12: Knee was nearly pain free, but my calves were painfully tight. Spent the day laying on the recliner with compression sleeves resting my legs.
  • Tue 11/13: Ran 2 miles! I was shocked I could run so soon when I felt so awful at the end of the race. I still had a few minor sore spots, but for the most part this felt really good. I kept it short and slow just in case.
  • Wed 11/14: Walked 2 miles to hear Scott Jurek speak.
  • Thu 11/15: Ran 3 miles, a little faster than Tuesday. Everything felt good. I also walked 2 miles to the store in the evening.
  • Fri 11/16: Was feeling a little worn out, so took it easy and just rested.
  • Sat 11/17: Walked 2 miles to volunteer for a race.
  • Sun 11/18: Ran my own 10K and felt great!
  • Mon 11/19: Ran 3 miles, 2 on trails. Felt really good, but a little tired. 
I plan to take it easy tomorrow, with perhaps a short walk or bike ride trip to the store, run easy on Wednesday, and then run a marathon on Friday. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Race Report: Run d'Amore 50M

We got to choose our bib #s and I was able to get #50 for the number of Ks or Ms I'd be running. We all knew it'd be miles. What an incredible experience.
Run d'Amore bib and swag.
I got to choose the bib# and I chose 50 for the number of kilometers or miles I'd be running.
We all knew it would be miles :)
On Saturday, November 10, I completed my first ultra: 50 miles that took nearly 17 hours to complete. The best way to describe this experience is horrifically awesome. It was nearly 11 pm when I finished and it was freezing, but I refused to give up. I was expecting to finish at least 4-5 hours earlier, but my IT band started bothering me before I even finished the first marathon. It was only a minor annoyance at first, but eventually it became too painful to run at all. I made the mistake of seating down to get a blister looked at and that was the last straw causing the IT band to get too tight. I had to walk, sometimes barely even a shuffle, for the last 10K, but I finished in just under 17 hours with a total of 51.2 miles and I'm now officially an ultra marathoner!  It was both harder and easier than I expected, and worth every painful second. So you bet I'll be doing it again :)

Day after with my race shirt
Race Shirt
Stats (50M = 51.2 miles):
  • total 50M time = 16:59:44 (I made the ironman cutoff lol Race cutoff was 36 hrs) 
  • moving 50M time = 15:37 (lots of stops to change, pee, eat, etc) 
  • moving 50M pace = 18:38 
  • moving half marathon time/pace = 3:14 @ 14:48 
  • moving marathon time/pace = 6:51 @ 15:41 
  • moving 50K time/pace = 8:19 @ 16:03
As you can imagine, what transpired over those 17 hours is a bit of a blur, so I'm going to post a bullet list of the highlights instead of my typical race report.

Swag: Awesome black long sleeve tech tee, goody bag with lots of samples, tasty and plentiful food, and heart shaped handmade medal.

course scenery
Course: 2 mile loop at Harvey Bear Ranch Park, San Martin, CA. I know this sounds dreadful, but I really like it because it's easy to adjust layers and nutrition when you only have to plan 2 miles at a time. If you make a mistake, you only have to endure it for 2 miles. It's also a lot easier mentally to tell yourself to run 2 more miles. The loop was actually 2.05, which is why 25 laps netted me 51.25 miles.

Food! Running an ultra is way different than any other race because you get to eat all kinds of stuff you wouldn't dare otherwise. It's like a buffet on the run. Many of the runners brought things to share, including my homemade granola, cookies, candy, soups, and the RD ordered pizza after sunset. That was the best pizza ever! Also, coke tastes damn amazing when you've been running for hours.

It's gorgeous out here
Scenery: The race started at 6 am and it was still pitch black, but it was clear so we could see tons of stars. As we finished the first few loops, we saw the sunrise and the fog slowly rolling over the mountains. It was breathtaking. We were treated to the same gorgeous views as the sun set and the stars greeted us once again.

Weather: The forecast called for cold temps and rain. Thankfully, the rain never materialized and once the sun came up it was perfect running weather. The oddest thing is that one half of the loop always felt cold while the other warm, specially when the wind kicked up. It got really cold after sunset, and those were the hardest miles because I was walking them, in the cold and dark, and in so much pain.

My partner in crime. She got me into this mess :p
Tracy, she got me into this mess
Running Buddies: I ran most of the first 50K or so with Tracy, who talked me into this race, and that was awesome. The miles flew by as we chatted and she introduced me to the other runners. Her boyfriend Scott was there to crew us, and he ran a few laps with us and even biked along to bring us food. They were both amazing! After 3 hours, we switched directions so we could see all the other runners and that was awesome.

Reverse Psychology: After so many miles, even at a slow pace and using 1:1 intervals, running became a chore. We started to hate that damn beep every time it was time to run, so I tried to trick our brains by saying "Yay!" instead of "ugh" every time it was time to run. Scott joined us for one of these laps and got really into it with us. Every time the beep came for us to run, we'd throw our hands up in the air and scream "Woohoo!" It totally helped!

Disney Songs: Eventually, that wasn't enough fun so we started singing Disney songs. That. was. awesome! We brought a little on course entertainment to the other runners, so that was a nice bonus. But more importantly, it distracted us from the pain. I posted about this on Facebook and solicited songs to sings. A fellow Galloway runner commented with "Dig a Little Deeper." I was a little annoyed at first thinking she was telling me what to do instead of helping me sing Disney songs, but then she reminded me it was from Princess and the Frog and I just had to laugh. It was so perfect! So remember this trick when the going get's tough, and sing this song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJT0uhfcCkw

99 Bottles of Beer: After I started running alone, I started singing this song but I was so tired and my brain so foggy, that I had a hard time remember which number. I started singing faster so I could more easily remember the next number, but then I realized I was running faster to match the song tempo and finally tired and gave up around 89 bottles.

During last mile it occurred to me that running this ultra is just the absolute most absurd thing I've ever done ... Then I switched running shoes to run in crocs and now it's just ludicrous but man do my feel feel amazing.
running in crocs
Crocs: Around mile 37, I stopped to change socks and shoes because the socks I was wearing were too thick and my feet were really warm. My feet seemed swollen, so I put on my crocs instead and ran a few laps in those. It was quite amazing and added to the absurdity level that made this even more fun and help distract me from the pain.

Other Runners: It was even more evident while completing this ultra how amazing the running community can be. As I walked, shuffled, and dragged my feet along during that last 10K in the dark, every single runner that lapped me greeted me and made sure I was ok before continuing on their own journey. Some stopped to show me some stretches and I had the pleasure of walking a lap with one gentleman who was on the last lap of his own 50M and he shared some words of wisdom with me. That helped me walk that lap a little faster.

Sleep Walking in the Dark: By the time the sun set, I was walking and my brain was so foggy from fatigue that I felt like I was sleep walking. I was moving slowly because bending my knee hurt. I tried walking backwards, sideways, dragging that leg, you name it. Anything to avoid bending it.  I was holding a knuckle light in one hand and texting Jason on my iPhone on the other hand. It was really hard to see ahead of me unless I held up the light, and I tend to drift when I walk even when I'm not half asleep. At one point I was texting or checking facebook and when I looked up I was all the way on the other side of the road lol That scared me a little and I focused on keeping the light in front of me and walking straight. Then the bitter cold hit and I was shaking. Thankfully, that's when Jason arrived and he helped me get on a warmer jacket.

Last Lap: Jason rented a zip car to come get me because I wanted to sleep in my own warm bed after I finished instead of a tent in the cold. He arrived just in time to walk the last lap with me. That was awesome. I was able to push myself a little and walked those 2 miles faster than the previous 4 I had done alone.

50 mile finisher! So happy to be done and that I get to go sit in a warm car. It was FREEZING after the sunset.
happy 50 mile finisher!
Finish: As I neared the end of my final lap, I looked at my watch to see what the damage was and I could see it would be close to 17 hours (which is the cut-off for most Ironman events). I joked to Jason that maybe I would at least make that cut-off, but I was not about to speed up to ensure it. I said "I'm ok with 17:05" or whatever. But as I crossed the finish and stopped my watch, I saw it was 16:59:45 and found it hilarious. And then Alan, the Race Director, fetched my medal and as I went to grab for it he said, "oh no don't go reaching out, there's a ceremony" and I laughed. Then he got everyone's attention and announced we had another 50M finisher, that it was my first 50 and first ultra and I just beamed with pride. I almost cried, but I think I didn't have energy to do so. I was just elated that I had done it and that now I got to go sit in a warm car.

The photo to the right was taken right after I finished, and you can see the elation in my face. I was smiling through the end. Even when I was shuffling along and every step hurt, I was in good spirits because I knew I was going to finish this. You can also see my ridiculous outfit that is such a missed matched assortment. When the sun went down and I got cold, I just grabbed the nearest things I could find to stay warm that involved the least amount of bending. None of these outer layers would I ever wear to run, but when you are tired, sore and cold, anything will do and they did indeed keep me toasty warm.

Wrap Up: So that's the highlights of my experience. It was an incredible experience, filled with so much love and support from an amazing group of runners. I am sure I'm forgetting something, so if you notice I don't talk about something you expected to read or have any questions, comment and I'll update this post. Stay tuned for my next adventure :) View more photos on flickr or click play on slideshow below.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Hike along Pacific Ocean

After our fun run through the Presidio. It was great meeting you and running with you!Today was an awesome day. We're still having really nice weather with sunny clear skies, and we took full advantage of it. The initial plan was to head to Golden Gate Park in the morning to meet Katy to run together at the DSE 4 mile race. Due the US Half Marathon, the bus was rerouted and we never made it to the race, so Katy drove to me and we went for our own fun run in the Presidio. It was a lot of fun.

After lunch we went on an awesome 8 mile hike with Thomas on the trails along the Pacific Ocean. It was breathtaking, but a little tough due to heat, elevation changes and terrain: dirt/rock/sand trails, up & down hills, up & down stairs, sand, and sand ladders. The amazing views were well well worth the pain.

We walked from Marina to GG Bridge, down Coastal and Battery to Bluffs trails (with lots of up and down stairs), down the Sand Ladder to Baker's Beach, across the beach to Land's End, through Sutro Heights and finally ending at the Beach Chalet Restaurant in Golden Gate Park. After a yummy dinner, we took the bus home and unwind with a Disney movie, Aladdin! I'm more sore from this than the marathon, but it's different muscles and I had a blast.

I took a ton of photos along the way with my iPhone. View the slideshow below, or browse them yourself on the Flickr.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

3 Things Thursday: Beyond 39.9

39.9 Recovery - Unbelievably, I bounced back from the 39.9 weekend rather quickly. The morning after the marathon, I was only a little sore and was walking normally. None of the usual suspects hurt one bit. The following day, yesterday, I went for a 3 mile run and had to hold myself back because my legs just wanted to go go go! I just got back from another 3 miler, faster than yesterday, and I'm feeling amazing. I guess what my legs needed was more miles lol

Weather - We've had pretty nice weather in San Francisco this month with lots of sunshine. However, I can already see the end in sight as the rain has started. Now, this isn't rain like we had in Florida. The most I've seen so far has been a heavy drizzle, and it surprises me that it's still pretty warm even when it's overcast, foggy or raining. There have been times when I've been walking in the rain and I didn't even notice it lol

Ultramarathon - I ran the marathon on Monday with 3 other ultra marathons who have all completed 100 milers. They are great guys, lots of fun, and very inspiring. So it was inevitable that they would eventually talk me into doing one myself ... in 10 days! Oh, don't worry, I'm not crazy enough to try to run 100 miles ... yet ;) It's basically an overnight camping trip with crazy fun runners (because most of them ARE running 100 miles or more, and I'll be there to support and photograph them once I finish mine). And what do runners to for fun and pass the time? Run of course! =) I was pretty nervous about it (ok, I still am a bit), but now that I'm registered and plans are coming together, I'm started to get really excited.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Race Report: Lazarus Marathon

Today was  marathon #5, 8 months after my 4th one. I've now run 39.3 miles in the past 2 days, and I'm exhausted. But I also feel amazing. I finished today's marathon in 5:28, totally unexpected after running a 2:36 half yesterday. It's amazing what a difference it makes having support from running friends, both on the course and online.

Before the race, in costumes - Tracy's Lazarus Marathon
I was a little nervous going into this race because it's been so long since I've run a marathon, the most I've run in the past 8 months was 20 miles (after running 8 the previous day), and I ran a half marathon yesterday. Initially, I was just going to run the marathon yesterday instead of my 23 mile long run next weekend, but I hated not running the 10 miles for Goofy training the previous day. As luck would have it, due to a series of fortunate events, I ended up running the half yesterday and thought I'd attempt the full today, specially after hearing who else was running it.

I knew last night that I was going to run the marathon today, but not knowing how I would feel this morning, I didn't broadcast it. I had the option of starting the full and stopping at the half, which would have been a great accomplishment too as my first back-to-back half marathons, but once Runmeter posted to Facebook that I was running a Marathon, there was simply no going back knowing everyone was "watching."
Everyone has their own unique starting position - Tracy's Lazarus Marathon
Starting positions

My legs felt fine when I woke up with only some minor sore spots here and there, but that did not last. Never having done this before, my plan was to start slow and go with the flow with the goal of just finishing. Well, I blew that when I got caught up running faster than intended while chatting with Tony and finished mile 1 in 12:11; I intended to start closer to 13-13:30. Oops! But I corrected that quickly and slowed down settling into a comfortable pace for the next few miles.

Unlike yesterday's perfectly executed negative mile splits, today was all about survival, strategy, and making it to that finish line any way possible. I started with 60s/30s intervals, but adjusted as needed to take advantage of running the down hills and walking the steeper up hills to conserve energy. I was surprised at how quickly I started to feel tired and sore, and that started messing with my head -- "how can I possibly make it to 26.2 miles if I'm already sore in less than 10?" So surprisingly, the first half was way harder than the 2nd half as I battled my own head and came to terms with running on tired and sore legs.

Tracy's Lazarus Marathon
Making it happen
Throughout all of this, I was texting Jason and reading your Facebook comments and that really kept me going. I couldn't fail all these people, so I just had to suck it up. Tracy also rallied the rest of the runners to keep an eye on me and give me a nudge should I need it. Seeing their smiling faces and hearing their words of encouragement lap after lap made a huge difference. When you hear "You look strong" enough times when you don't feel it, you eventually start to believe it and your body acts accordingly. Eating shot blocks with caffeine during the 2nd half didn't hurt either.

Once I realized the dull ache wasn't getting any worse and I was clearly not hurt, the pain became background noise and I let myself go. It became a mental game to push through it, and every mile I finished only motivated me to push harder and finish faster. I wanted to finish to end the pain, but it also became clear that my secret goal of finishing in under 5:30 was within my grasp and I was willing to work for it.

Yippee! I'm done! No idea where I got the energy to pull this off - Tracy's Lazarus Marathon
Finish line leap!
Once I finished the last of the 4 4.5-mile loops, I dug deep to bring it home strong and ran the last 2 4-mile loops with laser focus to make the most of every elevation change. Those were my fastest 8 miles at an average sub-12 pace, with mile 26 being the fastest overall in 11:18. I kicked it into high gear as I came around the bend and ran the last .2 at a 9:45 pace. (See all the data on Dailymile.) I even had enough energy to leap over the finish line. Other than some soreness all over, my legs felt pretty good.

Because this was such a small race, with only 7 starters and 4 finishers, I finished 2nd overall and 1st female. That cracks me up. We hung out for a bit and took silly finisher photos, then Tony drove us home. I immediately sat in the tub filled with cold water for 15 minutes, took some Aleve, then put on my compression gear. I feel pretty good; let's see how I feel tomorrow :) All I know is that I am totally hooked and I am now officially training for a few ultras by year's end.

Here's a silly photos we took after the race. View the rest on Flickr.

Marathon Finishers are a little silly - Tracy's Lazarus Marathon
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