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2010 Racing: August through December

So, that blogging thing? Clearly I need to focus on having time for it. But I didn’t want to end the year without wrapping up the rest of the races I did in 2010 after the SF Half and did not write about.

After the San Francisco Half Marathon, I did a 10k and three more half marathons. Quick summaries of each:

The Big Gay 10k (8/14/2010) – This fun 10k was put on as a fundraiser for Greater Than One, which raised money for the SF Aids Foundation. I feel like my 10k efforts pale in comparison to those who raise thousands of dollars and do the Seismic Challenge bike ride, but hey, I do what I can do.

The costumes for this event were STUNNING. Also, the nearly-nude contingent was about a million times more attractive than Bay to Breakers.

The race was up at Crissy Field, and incorporated a bit of the Fort Mason hill. I finished in 55:07 (chip time), AG 8/53. No PR, just a healthy reminder of the fact that running short distances fast is a challenge!

Humboldt Redwoods Half Marathon (10/17/2010) – This was my goal race for the second half of 2010, and I was incredibly happy with how I ran it. In fact, I’d say this was my best-run race of the year. The course was an out-and-back along the Avenue of the Giants up in Humboldt Redwoods State Park, and the entire thing was flat, treelined bliss. The weather was gorgeous (low 50s?), and it wasn’t even crowded.

I didn’t go out too fast, I didn’t psych myself out, I pushed as hard as I could up the two hills, and I earned myself a 2:00:46, AG 29/63. This was 2-3 minutes faster than my training plan predicted, and I was really happy with my time and effort. Honestly, I don’t even have much to say about it…it was just so great. My training and planning and fueling just CLICKED and I had a phenomenal race.

US Half Marathon (11/7/2010) – This race was a bad idea. The race was on Groupon, so I figured I’d do it as a supported training run. Bad plan. On the day of the race, it was pouring rain. Not misty San Francisco rain, but torrential downpour that you never see in SF. It was really COLD too! (The only time I’ve ever been cold while running in SF.) The course (Presidio, Golden Gate Bridge, Ft. Mason) was incredibly hilly, muddy, and we had to run through 6+ inches of standing water at least a dozen times. Part of the course was on a walking path at the north end of Golden Gate Bridge, which was so slippery (and next to a cliff!) that everyone had to stop and walk it.

The idea of doing it was a supported training run wasn’t good either. The water stations along the way were a mess. Many were out of cups, those with cups didn’t have them filled, and one of the aid stations had folks scooping water out of an open (bagged/clean) trash can, which was just…eeeeew. But despite bad organization, many many many thanks to the poor volunteers who braved the awful weather. (Oh, and bag check was non-existent.)

Cool medal, water bottle, and shirt, though. I guess that was worth the $30.

Big Sur Half Marathon (11/14/2010) – I was really looking forward to this race and was hoping to best the PR I set in October, but it was not to be. I managed to make a few bad choices which impacted me throughout the race.

I had friends fly in from Chicago to do this one with me, one of whom offered to pace me towards a sub-2. It was a nice idea, but I should have never let myself go out so faster than 9:09. I knew by mile 3 that I would have major trouble later on, so we parted ways. At that point I also discovered my iPod was dead. Bad news.

Around mile 5 I had an asthma attack/panic attack, and spent the next two miles walk-running in order to be able to breathe. Even after mile 7, I spent the rest of the race battling more breathing problems. Making it to the end was a real challenge.

I was disappointed that I had such a bad experience on a course I really love, and I really wish I’d gotten out of my head and been able to enjoy the scenery more. I finished in 2:04:34, AG 159/607. Despite the tough race, this was still my second fastest half yet (despite the walking!?!), and a course PR of 6.5 minutes. I had a great time with my friends, and I’m glad we got to do this beautiful race together.


1,000+++ Miles Club
January 13, 2010, 12:59 pm
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Tall Mom 1,000+++ Club

I have two running goals for 2010: to complete my first marathon, and to run over 1,000 miles in one year.

Coincidentally, one of my favorite running blogs Tall Mom on the Run started a group to help people meet the goal of 1,000+ miles in 2010! I signed up, and I’m really excited that there will be plenty of other awesome runner/bloggers attempting the same goal as me.

Stealing the stats from Mel, 1,000 miles in a year is:

1,000/12 months in a year= 83.33 Miles per month

1,000/52 weeks in a year= 19.23 Miles per week

1,000/365 days in a year= 2.74 Miles per day

I’m up to 49.06 miles as of January 13. This rate should be sustainable, especially if I’m training for a marathon (or two?) this year, but please wish me luck!!

Barefoot and COLD.
January 10, 2010, 8:17 pm
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The last two runs of this week both were really satisfying. My schedule got messed up so I did my tempo run on Friday and my long run on Saturday. It was bad planning on my end, and I suffered for it a bit on Saturday, but it turned out OK.

Tempo run: I had one mile easy, 4 tempo miles, followed by one more easy mile on the schedule. JY joined me after work, and we jogged to the track together. Friday and Sunday nights seem to be the quietest at the track – no training groups – and we were two of maybe 6 other people there total. My 4 tempo miles were supposed to be 9:35-9:50 per mile, but I felt really great and I settled into a consistent 9:22 per mile for all 4 miles. I’m chalking it up to wonderfully cool weather, and using the first lane since the track was practically empty.

JY mentioned she’s curious about barefoot running, so we decided to take a brief barefoot jog on the grass football field in the center of the track. Fun but COLD! It was dewy, so by the time we made it to the opposite end of the field, my feet felt numb, like I’d been wading in the ocean. We hurried back to the other end of the field, dried off, and jogged the last mile back to the office. It was a fun experiment, but I’ll save it for a sunny Saturday afternoon next time.

Long run: 11 miles. W and I met up downtown, ran to the Ferry Building, down to the ballpark, back up to Fisherman’s Wharf, over the hill at Ft. Mason to Crissy Field and Golden Gate Bridge, looping back to end near Divisadero. My knees were complaining for the first few miles, but it got notably better after mile 4 or so. My marathon training plan called for 10:50 per mile, but we did more like 10:32 per mile, in anticipation of the half marathon in a few weeks.

Yoga: I made it to class on Wednesday this week as well. Nothing too exciting to report – all except two of us were new students, so we had a nice simple well-explained class. We only had to do downward facing dog for 2 minutes instead of the standard 5 minutes, which was oh-so-excellent.

Food: I’m still making homemade bread rather obsessively. This week included peasant bread (a bit of wheat and rye flour) and light wheat (light on the wheat flour rather than light on the calories.) I have lots of dough in the fridge, so J and I are going to try to use it to make naan with dinner tonight. I’m looking forward to this week’s CSA box, so I can try David Lebovitz’s potato leek soup recipe, to be paired with warm crusty bread.

Yoga & A Mess of Intervals
January 6, 2010, 7:40 pm
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Positives about this week:

1) I hung from ropes upside-down in yoga without vomiting.

2) I will be able to fit in all my workouts with no problems since J is busy with a conference.


1) I made a mess of my intervals yesterday and my legs are KILLING me.

So, I made it to my first yoga class of 2010, and it was a really great class! I left feeling better than ever. I started Iyengar yoga last year and it uses lots of props to modify poses and to help people of varying abilities get at different muscles.

We started out class by doing standing poses modified with a folding chair to lean on. By doing this, and following it with the corresponding pose minus chair, I was finally able to feel poses stretching my I.T. Band. For the FIRST TIME EVER.

I’ve asked a few yoga-knowledgeable people how to stretch the IT band, to no avail. This is the only time I’ve been able to feel it during poses, and it’s awesome. The trick, it turns out, was to start with my front knee slightly bent. Then I could feel the groin/hip muscles activating the way they’re actually supposed to during normal standing poses. Then you straighten your front leg while still maintaining the same muscle activation you just found. I really was able to feel my IT band stretch, and key in to that. This makes me enormously happy, since I’d had bouts of IT band related knee pain during the summer and fall last year.

The other yoga high point? I did what this person’s doing:

So this is a rope sirsasana. (I think in my class’ version, the feet are on the other side of the ropes and up against the wall. I dunno. I’ve only done it 3 times.) I had a substitute instructor make us (the beginner class!) do this a few months ago, and it was miserable. I felt really queasy, and the pressure in my right ear felt wrong, so I freaked out. The worst part of this pose is that it requires some arm and core strength to get in and out of it – arm and core strength I do not have. Our ropes are up against the wall, and I need an instructor to help me climb up the wall and onto the rope, then flip back down. So anyway, I was freaking out, and the substitute instructor COULD NOT COME QUICKLY ENOUGH to get me down from this hell. I left class feeling really angry and upset, which was totally new for me in regards to yoga. I didn’t come back for a month until my normal teacher returned.

Anyway, a month ago my regular instructor asked us to try it, and he took care of me. He let me out quickly, and it wasn’t too bad. Nervewracking, but not bad.

Last night we did the pose again, it was actually GOOD for the first time. My final problem with the pose – my legs throbbing from the ropes – was remedied when the teacher came over and tucked a blanket between my thighs and the ropes. Now the pose even feels GOOD! Yay!

In contrast to my yoga class, my run last night sucked. I’d planned to run after work with my co-worker, both heading to the track together where then I’d do intervals. But morning = fail, and I forgot my iPod, sensor, and armband, which left me with no way to do my intervals. So we jogged 3 miles to my house, which I counted as my warm-up. Then I went back to the track via the bus, in order to do 12 x 400m intervals, 90 sec RI. I thought the 3 mile warmup would be fine, since the training plan says 1-2 mi for warmup. But no. Three miles was way too much. By the time I got through 3 intervals, I knew I wouldn’t make it through the whole thing.  I ended up calling it quits after 10 x 400m, which I feel sort of bad about. Oh well! On to a better tempo run later this week…

First Run of 2010!
January 3, 2010, 10:00 am
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This Saturday morning I did my first run of 2010! This ties in directly with my main running resolution for 2010: to complete my first marathon. Gulp. That’s big, and I’m a bit scared.

As of December 31, I’ve decided to say it aloud: I’m aiming to do the Eugene Marathon on May 2, 2010.

My newish running partner W and I are both doing the Kaiser San Francisco Half Marathon on February 7, so I’d been following the Furman Institute half marathon training plan for the last month or two. I’m a big fan of their philosophy, since running 3x a week keeps it fun and allows recovery time, rather than making running something that gets in the way of other parts of my life. Plus, the speedwork and tempo runs they include have been a wonder at improving my pace. Since I was a few weeks into the Furman plan for the half marathon, I decided to skip the first few weeks of their full marathon training plan for beginners and start at the first 10 mile long run.

It was nice and cloudy and chilly out, so W and I had a nice run through Golden Gate Park to the ocean and back. This is actually the first time I’ve run the “back” part of it – I’m making baby steps to get over my aversion to hills. W had some knee trouble partway through so we walked a quarter mile or so, but it quickly went away.

I got a chance to try out some of my stocking stuffers on this run as well: Nuun tablets and Wright Socks. The Nuun tablets, which dissolve in water to make a light-tasting sports drink, were not bad. I prefer the salty taste of Gatorade, but I think I could drink more Nuun since it’s not so sugary. The Wright Socks were awesome. My past experience has shown that it’s generally the 12+ mile runs that give me blisters, so I’ll reserve final judgement, but thus far I LOVE these socks. They’re the right amount of squishy and I am blister free.

Oh, I also finally tried the Christmas Gu – the gingerbread vanilla one. As a Gu-hater I was not expecting to like it, but damn…yes I did. It tasted like cookie dough. And the Vaselinelike texture was so much less offputting when it tastes and sort of feels like cookie dough. (Rather than the standard fruit flavored Gu. Strawberry banana vaseline? Ick.) Time to hunt down a box of these holiday flavors and order more.