Thursday, January 28, 2010

10 mile jaunt

Yesterday's training schedule called for 10 miles at a 12:08 pace.  For my usual trail running, this might be a little ambitious, but I thought it would be just a litte bit easy for the road.  There I go thinking again!

It was overcast and about 37 degrees when I left home -- I'm off in my shorts and tank top, freezing my ass off for the first 3/4 mile but completely comfortable after that.  The roads are pretty clear.  My first 2 miles are on heavily travelled roads, and I have to pay a considerable amount of attention to traffic and properly crossing the road.  There is definitely an adjustment from trail running!  After the first bit, though, I find that I've picked a good route and the run is mostly flat with very light traffic.  Oh, though . . . where the hell does one pee?  There's no way I can run 10 miles without having to pee at least 2 or 3 times -- this is very difficult for a female to accomplish on a wide open road surrounded by 3 feet of snow.  I just hunkered down and peed on the roadside, hoping no one came while I had my pants around my ankles.  I lucked out!

I figured I could easily keep it below 12:08, and planned to run at a pace that felt comfortable, whatever that was, and if it was above 12:08, well, speed up.  Here's my splits:

Just breezing along the first 5 miles, almost no attention to pace or anything, wow! I'm a rockstar!

OK, so now I'm looking at Gary the Garmin a little more, seeing all kinds of times, I guess I'm getting a little tired though I still feel good.

OK, so maybe paying attention to pace is a good overall plan, because it sure is slipping at the end!  I try to speed up a bit, but am enjoying running slower more, and this is why I'll never be fast. 

Yeah, so there's some hills in the last couple miles, especially the last mile.  I suck at hills, though I don't actually hate them like I used to.  I should do some hill repeats.  This last, unavoidable hill on my way home will remain my nemesis all winter, and I plan on being able to run up it, nonstop, at a decent pace, by the time I leave the roads for the trails.  Right now, slow and I gotta stop -- once!

Average Pace = 12:00.  Does that mean I filled my goal of 10 miles at 12:08, or did I not make it because my pace wasn't consistent?  I'm finding it interesting to train with paces in mind, because mostly I couldn't care less -- though a sub 5:00 marathon would be nice!  It's also becoming more and more interesting to pay attention to how my body reacts to things and gaining more awareness of what I can and can't do.

What I CAN do is run 10 miles, comfortably and enjoyably and, dare I say it, easily.  3 running years down the road, and this still amazes me, although by now it shouldn't.  I'm looking forward to my upcoming training and finding out if I love 20 miles as much as I love 10 (at whatever pace).  I hope so!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Winter Triathlon

All the fun of last week has apparently showed up in my waistline.  Not only did I not lose any weight for the 20/20 challenge I joined over at Quadrathon, I'm the only pasrticipant who GAINED any weight . . . 1.97% of my body weight!  I suck at this dieting thing.  Not that I'm dieting, but tell me, why does a week of serious travel, no exercise and lots of good food make one gain 3 pounds?


I'm off on a better start this week, and yesterday completed a little Winter Triathlon . . . I skied Squaw in the morning, ran 3 miles at the indoor track (roundandroundandround!), then did a Bikram Yoga class.  Whew!

I learned a good lesson, which is not to Yoga right after a Run.  My back was aching in class, and by the end of it I felt so arthritic I could barely move.  This is not usual for me, and I'm blaming it on the running, which is hard on my spine.  I have ran and then yoga'd on the same day, but not with just 20 minutes in between.  Definitely a mistake.

I woke this morning feeling much more limber, and headed off for another morning's skiing.  The nice thing about living near a ski area and holding a season's pass is that if you're just not feeling it, for whatever reason, you can bail and head back home after a few runs without feeling like you're not getting your money's worth.  This is what we did, and then I've spend the rest of the day napping and filing taxes and not getting much else done.

Tomorrow I've got a 10-miler on deck, and I'm contemplating whether to head to Reno or brave the Tahoe elements.  Unless it's really nasty out, I think I'll be running from home.

Best of all, I'm looking forward to it!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

I've been BUSY

Seriously busy.  I've been meaning to blog for the last five days, but I can honestly say I just haven't had the time (well, I could have used the phone, but that's just painful and frustrating).  Once again, I went on a road trip.  This time, though, I took pictures and actually have the gumption to post about it.  At least, post some photos.

Anyhow, I worked my usual 5 12-hour night shifts in a row, getting out of work at 7:30 am on Tuesday.  No, the fun doesn't start quite yet, as I head off into San Francisco for a dreaded dentist appointment.  I have boatloads of dental problems and, not coincidentally, boatloads of dental anxiety.  This appointment was for what to me is the worst possible dental procedure to have (with the possible exception of a root planing -- owie!!) -- a crown removed.  Not particularly painful, but the drilling and the pulling and all the pressure of having a cemented "tooth" forcibly ripped from your jaw after 10 years of functioning perfectly as a body part, only to fall (in pieces! that's the worst!) onto the back of your tongue, fucking hell it's the epitome of horrible dental dreams come true.  OMG just typing about it has me in goosebumps.

So I finish up with that lovely experience, got in the car, and got the hell out of Dodge (after spending an extra 30 minutes driving around SF, 'cause the one on ramp to the highway I know about is closed).  I then embark upon my usual 200-mile, 3 hour drive home, taking FIVE hours this time because, hey! have you heard about the weather in California?  I get home, hop in the shower, gather my things and get BACK in the car (in a lovely little nest in the front seat) and head out for a 9 hour drive to Utah.  Tom drove most of the way, while I drifted off into a drug-induced dreamless sleep.  I rallied for the last bit, and drove the last few hours to our destination in Eden, Utah.  We were looking forward to a few days of skiing in the "Finest Snow on Earth" prior to heading to Salt Lake City for a trade show that Tom had to attend.

Oh, it was such a looong drive -- I don't think I've ever spent so much uninterrupted time in a car!  We were soo happy to arrive!  We proceeded to sleep for something like the next 12 hours.  Tom has been really busy with work, too, lately -- we planned this little trip as a bit of a Lovers' Weekend, but it really turned out to be more of a Sleepers' Weekend.  We slept, and then slept some more.  Repeat.

We did wake up eventually, though, and managed to head out for an afternoon's skiing at a really little local ski resort -- this was about all we could manage this day, and it worked out quite well.  As we left our little lodge, I noticed what I had missed at 2 am the previous morning, namely this carved bear . . .

. . . looking like nothing less than a bear doing the pee-pee dance, complete with the look of panic at the possibility of incipient incontinence on its face!  Having had more than my share of bladder problems in my life, this is a bear that I can really relate to.  I laughed every time we passed it on our way in or out of the lodge.

Niether Tom nor I have skied much this season (and I have barely skied at all for the past two years) so a couple of hours at a tiny ski area just getting used to using those ski muscles was beneficial to us both.

The weather was a little overcast with lots of flat light, but the skiing was fine.   I even managed 1.5 miles on the treadmill!

We slept some more.

The following day we put on our big boy pants and headed out to Snowbasin, which I think is my new favorite ski resort.  Powder, powder and more powder, we were still skiing untracked lines at 2 pm.

I took lots of falls, as I am still not adept at powder skiing.  I am getting there, though, and hope to be able to finish off this season being more confident in the powder than I am now.  We both got a great day's skiing in, and felt really worked at the end of the day.  That really good muscle-achy o I'm so tired feeling.  Then, surprise, we slept some more.

It might seem a little odd that we leave Tahoe right in the middle of the presumed Biggest Storm of the Season to go skiing somewhere else, but this trip was planned (and paid for!) weeks ago.  Moreover, the skiing was a bit secondary to the main reason for the trip, the Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake.

This is a pretty cool trade show highlighting all the new products and clothing lines in the "outdoor" industry for the coming year.  Tom attends because this is his business focus (he's an industrial designer), and I attend to see the cute guys (kinda sadly lacking this year) and see how much schwag I can get my hands on (also a little sparse this year, but I got a water bottle, a cool little flashlight and a fleece sweater).  In past years, this has been a great place to get the first glimpse of innovative new products and technologies, but this seemed to be lagging a little bit too this year.  The most interesting things I saw were a few companies promoting the idea of avalanche survival using these inflatable balloon-type thingies designed to hold the unfortunate victim ABOVE the rushing snow.  Wearing what looks like a regular old backpack, said victim flips a switch and THIS happens in about 3 seconds:

The demonstration guy allowed Tom to strap the thing on and let 'er rip -- I wish I had caught this on tape because it was like an airbag going off, noisy and attention-getting.  I envisioned all kinds of trouble that I could potentially get into if I owned such a device, namely unplanned switch-flipping while in an elevator, the back seat of a car, or sneaking into a window intent on robbery.  Happily, I don't do backcountry stuff, so this just won't happen.

We spent the day walking the show, and hit Olive Garden for lunch.  Somehow, I have never eaten here before and I think I've found my new favorite franchise restaurant.  I loooove me some pasta!  As I have alluded to before, I have the maturity and mindset of a 14-year-old boy and, happily, so does Tom.  We find humor in the most ridiculous of things, and like to play with our food.  We left this for the waiter . . .

 . . . and booked it out of town.  Lots of miles for quite a short trip.  We got back on 80 and headed across barren Nevada, the site of much of our travels back in December.  I love this state and its empty ruggedness.  It's so unique!  Tom thought he might have found a Nevada treasure, the discount brothel:

. . . alas, it turned out to be just another gas station.

We spent the night at a dirtbag motel in Winnemucca, then got an early start for home.  Of course, pretty much all the time we were gone, Tahoe was getting more and more and more snow.  Remembering the hours and hours it took us to shovel out the last time we were gone for a long time, we were fearing the worst in terms of snow removal.

We were happy to find a couple feet of very light fluffy snow in the driveway, as opposed to the heavy stuff of last time.  The snowblower made quick work of it.  An hour later, the driveway was clear, and we headed in for showers and a quick change, back into the car and off to South Lake for a friend's wedding.  Much to my surprise, this wedding turned out to be on a 72-foot power yacht right on the Lake itself, and we all had a great time putt-putting around the lake.

The ceremony was really beautiful, and the whole idea of a winter wedding on a boat on the lake in the sunshine was really quite splendid.  This was followed by an after-party, then Tom and I returned to Truckee and yet ANOTHER party, not getting home until late last night.

Indeed, I feel like I haven't been home for weeks and weeks, mostly because I haven't been home for weeks and weeks.  We had a great time on this trip, and did lots of skiing and lots of sleeping and lots of driving and lots of laughing.  What did I not do?  Lots of running, lots of yoga, lots of eating good foods.  Like, no running and no yoga (there was some good foods).  For a week.  This is NOT how to train for a marathon.  Pretty typical!

Ergo, I am off to yoga this evening, and will try to get back on schedule with the running tomorrow.  It's cold and big-time snowy here 'round these parts, but I know that's no excuse for not getting out there.  Since I started the marathon training in the beginning of this month, I have yet to meet my weekly milage goals, though I got close one week.  I don't think this is too critical yet, but I can't slack off anymore.  I must keep in mind how important being well-trained for this event is, and not slip into my regular habit of going off half-trained for things.  I might've gotten away with it thus far, but I MUST go into the marathon distance well trained or I know I'll have a high chance of just falling apart.

I do not want that to happen!

Monday, January 18, 2010

San Quentin run

I managed to run in Marin!  Running while in the midst of a slew of 12 hour night shifts has proved to be near impossible for the last six months, though I managed to do it before then  I have been over successful in convincing myself to just roll over and get another hour's sleep, time after time.  This tactic in NOT going to work during marathon training, though, so I knew I was going to have to HTFU. I managed to do this yesterday, and cracked off an 8 miler before work, under my target pace no less, and came in at 1:33. Not bad. The run was fantastic, as I discovered a whole new place to go right ou the front door. Now I had run previously in the same general area -- paved bike paths through residential areas, parks and whatnot. On the advice of my Marin roommate, I took a left instead of a right And found myself on flat dirt paths headed in all sorts of directions. I very rarely run on anything flat, so I was digging it. The scenery was pretty spectacular as well, so I was in a bit of running heaven. Not heaven?  The picture above, taken smack dab in the middle of the run--San Quentin Prison. We see a lot of these prisoners in the ER and, well, it's not a very nice place, despite the view.

So I was going to get out there today and repeat the feat but disaster! Gary the Garmin was left on and done ran out of juice.  I am using this as an excuse to stay in bed and laboriously type blog posts on my iPhone.  Lame!  I should be disgusted with myself, but it's quite amazing how I can use the least excuse to justify my laziness while bogged down in my week o'work.

Oh, and it's raining too!

Having said all of the above, I do think I need to get out there, if not for the 9 miler I should be doing, then at least for one of the simple 3 milers on my schedule, as this week is a busy one of lots of travel, and a probably impossible running schedule (more on that later).

So I'm hoping I press send and get the fuck out of bed and HTFU and go out for a run even in the rain even without Gary, it's only 3 miles. There's a high chance that I'll just roll over and get another hour, because that's the way I roll. Over.


I rolled over . . . and out of bed. I ran a nice 4 miles in about 45 minutes. I'm so glad I did. Yay me!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Not on the treadmill

Another revelation: I can't, for the life of me, run on a treadmill.  It was very cold this morning, and Tom's invitation to the gym just seemed better than braving the cold crispy outdoors.  I was supposed to do three miles -- piece of cake! -- but managed just two.  Good gawd, that thing is boooorring!   I'll remember this, and choose the cold next time.

Or that nice nifty new track.  I'm trying to get out of my expensive gym membership, which I have barely utilized.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Hell yeah, I'm a RUNNER!

I should clarify something that came up in the comments for my last post . . . I know I'm a "Real Runner", and would get all up in someone's face, probably complete with spittle, if they were to suggest otherwise.  Hell, 3 years, lots of races, hundreds upon hundreds of miles, training schedules and all that peeing on the side of the trail ALL speaks to that.  I mean, man! I have a Garmin for crying out loud! Of COURSE I'm a runner! But . . .

. . . sometimes I still FEEL like I'm pretending.  Like I wish I was.  Like a wannabe.  Like even though I have all the bibs and the miles and the shoes and stuff, there's that awkward, un-athletic school kid who always got mocked and chosen last in gym class* inside of me and someday, someone's gonna figure that out and be like, "You! Don't belong here!"  I've spent a lifetime not being able to catch a ball, correctly swing a tennis racket or run a mile and while I know that I have changed at least some of that and have more endurance that probably 80% of the people I know, that subconscious self-image of a loser is a lot harder to shake.  Consciously I'm full of "I rock!  I ran 8 miles today and I fucking rock!" but there's still that little nagging voice in my head saying "You can't do that!" (hi, mom!)  Even though, obviously, I am more than capable of doing just that, and much more (have I mentioned I'm going to run a marathon?!?).

THIS is what I'm hoping will finally go away this year, this nagging self-doubt that I have no earthly control over.

THIS is one of the many reasons I love running.  Because it will go away, and it will be because I've run it right into the ground.

::stepping off my little soapbox of self-revelation::

*I almost didn't graduate high school because I skipped my entire senior year of PE.  I hated gym class with a passion!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Plans for 2010

A little late off the starting block, here's my plans for 2010 . . .

I'm hoping that this is the year I finally become a Real Runner.  3 years under my belt, and I still feel like I just get out there and flail around, full of slow and full of klutz.  I don't think either of these axiomatic truths about myself will really ever change  -- maybe I can speed it up a little, but I'm not interested in an undue amount of suffering and dying, and therefore not interested in running 8 minute miles.  I'm not interested in falling down either, but I *DO* that, and at least it's kinda funny.  Sometimes.

So I think I'm going for distance.  I *THINK* I can do distance.  Like, serious distance.  Like, really serious distance.  Like, I may be fooling myself, but check this out:

Bidwell Classic Half Marathon, March 6 (Chico, CA)
Rock n' River Marathon, May 2 (Reno, NV)
High Sierra 20 Mile Trail Run, May 15 (Bishop, CA)
Celebration of Life Women's (sprint) Triathlon, September 19 (Grass Valley, CA)
Marin County (olympic) Triathlon, October 31 (San Rafael, CA)
High Desert 50K(!!), hopefully December 5 (Ridgecrest, CA)

This is a starting list.  I know more races will fill in a lot of the blanks, plus there's my running club, local races, and races of fellow bloggers that make me jealous and I just gotta join in.  I've thrown in a coupla tri's, even though I'm geting less interested in multisport stuff as time goes on, I think having a few in there will help with cross training and being a stronger runner.  I'm going to run the celebration of life triathlon FOR somebody, actually doing some fund raising (SO not my thing, but), and I really really enjoyed the Marin tri, so I think those two will probably be it for tri's.  This might change . . . but I doubt it.

Oh, yeah, and last on the list?  If I don't die training for (or running in) the marathon, I'm throwing my hat into the ultra running field.  There, I said it, therefore it will come true.  Oboy!

In other areas, I'm totally committed to at least 2 and better would be 3 yoga classes a week, harder than it may seem because I'm only home a little more than half the time.  I think I can pull this off.  Also, right now I weigh 152 -- I'd like that to be 140 by March, but as I refuse to actually d.i.e.t. (on moral grounds, as in -- it is immoral to deny myself those little treats I want so much) this might be a little hard to reach.  I'm hoping with the increased milage and the regular yoga classes, the pounds might just melt off, but as I'm over 40 those days may be gone for me.  I also want to be more consistent with the blogging thing (don't hold your breath), brush up on my Spanish, spend some time playing banjo, and keep my car cleaner.

I seriously doubt anything in that last sentence is actually going to stick, but I'm all on board with the previous items.  C'mon, 2010, this is the year!

Monday, January 11, 2010


OK, I know I had a post awhile back titled Training Begins, but I really just fluffed around for two weeks and barely got outside, never mind training runs.  This is normal for me with my running.  After a break (self imposed or otherwise) I am just Seriously Lazy Girl and really don't want any part of anything that means moving fast (relatively!).  I admit this freely to myself, and should have built 2 weeks of fucking off into the training plan.  Well, actually, I did, but in a failed attempt to motivate myself I was all about blogging the beginning of my running season.  Silly girl.

Anyhow, I don't worry much about it (even though that really long race looms in the future) because I knew it was only a matter of time before I got it together.  I think I have, yay, and hopefully my running log will appreciate it!

Today I went out and started my mishmash training plan.  Yay!  And for the first time in a non-race situation, I had a pace and distance goal, and was determined to do my best to meet it.  Not a huge goal, mind you, but 12:08 for 4 miles, ok, I'm down with that.  The first half was a piece of cake, I just cruised and felt great (yay again!).  Second half trickier, as there was a maybe 350' elevation gain, including a killer hill right at the very end -- I stopped here once, for maybe 10 seconds, otherwise steady on the hills with a little slower pace.  I *totally* met my goal, yay #3!

Mile 1: 10:49
Mile 2: 11:21
Mile 3: 11:48
Mile 4: 12:27 (that hill!)

Problem, solved

I run with music.  Always.  Without music -- or, probably, without the Garmin -- I quickly move from "yay! I'm running!" to boredom to apathy to focusing on all the wrong things to "why? am I running?" . . . I seriously doubt that I would be a runner if I couldn't pop on the tunes (not to say I'm any connoisseur of music, in fact my playlist is embarrassingly retro).  Unfortunately, I apparently have odd shaped ears, because anything that I pop into (or on, or over) my ears quickly pops right back out again.

This pile represents a fraction -- and I really mean a very small fraction -- of the earbuds, earphones and various listening devices I have tried over the years.  In-canal, over-the-ear, earbuds, snap-on attachments, strap-on attachments(!!), cheap, expensive, recommended and bought on a whim, I have had all kinds of little things bringing the tunes to my brain and they never, ever, EVER stay in my ears for more than 5 minutes at a time.  I can't imagine what my running form must look like, 'cause for a large portion of the time I am fiddling with infuriatingly evasive bits of plastic that seem to work for everyone else, but nothing short of duct tape will keep them anywhere close to my ears.  My running bag is full of cast-off experiments, and my house is filled with those little rubber earpad things that supposedly hold the things in the canal -- these rubber dohickeys have now rolled onto my desk, under the couch, on the table, by the tv, EVERYWHERE, it seems, but where they belong -- in my ears.  I have tried everything (except the really really expensive ones because, let's face it, I'll ruin those too).

So when I stumbled on this site, I was pretty skeptical.  I read the testimonials and was all, sure, the idea sounds great, but -- like every other product that claims "stays in your ear!" -- well, they're not talking about MY ear!  For 19.95, though, I figured sure, I'll give it a try, at least I can dig the duct tape out of my ear and experience another spectacular failure.  I was lured by the fact that these little rubber thingies that slip over your standard iPod earphones are "Custom Fitted" -- you actually have to send in a close-up photo of yourself holding a quarter next to your ear.  From there, they determine what size you should have (what a job, looking at ear pics all day, I guess a perfect job for someone with an ear fetish), and then ship these things out to you:

The whole thing slips over the existing earbud, then sits in the cup of your ear, and the little Dr. Suessian horn thing slips into the ear canal.  Imagine my surprise and delight when I went out for a 7 mile run and those fuckers stayed put!  For real!  The entire time (yeah, so it took me 1:30 to run those 7 miles but hey! 7 miles!!) I think I just gave the left one a little nudge, maybe 2 nudges, and that was it.  They didn't move, slip or slide, fall out, pinch or get tangled in my hair.  I don't know that the sound was any better, but it was certainly amplified and I had to turn the volume way, way down to reach a comfortable level.  They didn't fall out, they didn't fall out, they didn't fall out!

This is like a revelation!

If you suffer from chronic earbud-fallout-itis, seriously, give this product a shot.  They worked for me, and I truly thought I was a lost cause.

(I am in no way getting paid or anything for this little product review -- as if!)

Saturday, January 9, 2010


A post!

I just haven't been into blogging so much recently (that's a first -- not!), making me even more appreciative of you guys who are sticking around to read my (as of late) infrequent posts.  I've got a number of ideas for future posts (well, I guess I'm a little late for the "Year in Review" and "Goals for 2010" posts that seemed so prevalent a week ago) so maybe I'll get on it a bit in the next few days . . .

Meanwhile, I've sloooowly been getting my running feet underneath me again.  Good thing, too, 'cause that marathon is only something like 15 weeks away.  I had started a training plan last week, but after doing some more reading and looking around at various schedules and concepts, I've modified it a bit more.  What I came up with is a combination of my original plan, mashed together with another, and then all switched up to fit in with my weird schedule.  So.

I basically took the meat of it from Hal Higdon's Novice 1 program -- this was my original plan, which consists of 4 days of running a week, focusing mainly (exclusively, for me) on milage, and not paying a whole lotta attention to pace.  Sounds like me, yes?  A few days ago, I read something about Runner's World Smart Coach, and bopped on over to check that out.  Here you input your time from a recent race (I based mine off my 2:21 in the Death Valley Half), how much you're running a week currently (10-15 miles), how hard you want to train (I got wild and chose Moderate), plus the distance you are training for and the time frame you wish to do it in.  Presto! A custom training plan!  I gave it a good look over, and decided that I liked the milage from Hal's plan better, but got to thinking that it wouldn't hurt me (much, hopefully) to incorporate a little speedwork into the mess.  So I cribbed some of the pacing and tempo run information (me! doing a tempo run! this oughta be interesting!) from the RW schedule and imposed that into Hal's program.  If it works out right, and I stick with it (I'm shooting for an 80% compliance rate, we all know I'm a lazy girl), supposedly this will bring me to a 4:50 marathon finish time in May.


Meanwhile, I am up to doing a yoga class almost every day when I am home.  Really!  I'm totally into it, and am already noticing some definite improvement to my (arthritis-ridden) spine.  Wonder of all wonders, now a month and a half in I am starting NOT to fall down a ridiculous amount of the time.  Mind you, I am still falling down with depressing regularity, but it's kind of a normal amount of falling down for a clutzy beginner, as opposed to the amount of falling down you might expect from someone unfamiliar with the concept of gravity.  Progress!