July 24, 2016

Sabbatical Week 1

We headed from SF to Santa Cruz to stay with friends for 2 nights, enjoy our annual Shakespeare in the Grove.  and check up on Guito (these friends are our Guito sitters). 

Sunday, I received a text from a French friend I hadn't seen in almost 15 years.  She was in the SF bay area and my phone number hadn't changed, so we met up for lunch, caught up, and discussed possibly staying or traveling with them in Paris, the south of France, and/or Vietnam this year.  A big stroke of luck that we hadn't already left the area when she decided to reach out.  Monday night we stayed our last bay area night with another set of friends to finalize the sale of my precious car of 17 years.

Goodbye my old friend.  Enjoy your retirement as a track car.

Tuesday, we left the bay and headed for my hometown for some family time.  It was great to see everyone, but especially my youngest niece and nephew, whom I hadn't seen since February -- little ones change so quickly!  I did some short runs, including one with sis at 2 PM in 97F.  These efforts were slow and difficult, and definitely included lots of walk breaks but at least I got them done.

Friday we drove to gorgeous Lake Almanor to stay with friends, and Saturday we headed over to Lassen National Volcanic Park to hike to the summit of Mt. Lassen.  This hike starts at 8,500 ft, and is essentially switchbacks straight up what's left after the Volcano erupted in 1914.

Neither of us had hiked at elevation in the last decade, so we were excited to get some high elevation miles under our feet in preparation for hiking in the Andes in Peru.

Snow!  In California!  In late July!
This was the first hike I'd ever done with trekking poles and I'm a complete convert.  My short legs *loved* the upper body assistance on the uphills and they stabilized me on my downhill running return.

There were thousands of butterflies flying towards us on the last mile.
In addition to being a volcano, Lassen used to have glacier activity.  The photo below shows the sweeping smooth area where the glacier used to turn left as it pushed down the slope.  The glacier is now gone, but this area still hosts the only year-round snow field on the mountain.  The best part about this hike is that even though it's in Summer (the road to Mt. Lassen is closed most of the year due to snow) and under direct sun, there's a breeze that comes off the snow field that is wonderfully refreshing.

Glacial notch to the left, hikers on the switchbacks to the right.

Mt. Shasta view from the summit.

We made it!

Helen Lake

Lake Almanor in the distance.

It took us about 1.5 hours up, half an hour for lunch at the top, and an hour down.  A guy in the parking lot was bragging about beating his PR up with a 45 minute ascent, which is seriously impressive.  My advice would be to head up as early as you can.  The park is in the middle of nowhere and the hike is even deeper in the park, so we didn't start until 11:30 AM.  By the time we were on the trail, there was quite a bit of traffic, but everyone was very polite about stepping off the trail if you were faster than they were.

After we finished, we headed to Bumpass Hell to view the volcanic mudpots, but after about 0.3 miles, E and I agreed that we were too fried to do the 3 mile round trip hike and we'd already seen volcanic features in Yellowstone and Costa Rica.  Instead, we drove through and out of the park and enjoyed some drinks and food at the Highlands Ranch Resort to recover.   Refreshed, we headed back towards Lake Almanor.

I'd seen the PCT trailhead on our drive out to the park that morning, and I was insistent that we had to stop in case any hikers needed a ride to town (7 miles away on Highway 36).  We parked at the trailhead around 5:05 PM, and within 1 minute, a British hiker from Manchester (trailname: scarface) walked up, excited to raid the coolers for a soda, and thrilled that we would be happy to give him a ride to Chester (or "the American Chester" as he called it).  5 minutes later, another hiker from South Carolina (trailname: boydrogo) arrived, similarly happy about the soda and ride.  We chatted with them, told them about our friends who'd done the PCT last year, and our very minor day hike up Lassen, which isn't on the PCT (they'd done 23 and 24 miles each that day).

PCT trailhead on Highway 36 with trail magic for the hikers.
All in all, it was a day full of Californian natural beauty. And now, we leave California for Oregon.

July 17, 2016

Blissfully Tired and Excited

Lease signed Monday AM.  Drove niece to hometown and drove myself back the same day and started packing that night.

Packed, sorted, and discarded all of our belongings between Monday and Thursday while fitting in dinners and goodbyes with local friends.

Movers moved almost everything we own (and wanted to keep) to storage on Thursday.

Final cleaning and dump run, goodwill run, hazardous material disposal and shredding on Friday.

Keys to renters on Friday (after the free 36 inch and 20 inch CRT TVs of doom were miraculously taken from our curb at the 11th hour!)

Stayed the night in SF, dinner with friends, saw a play written by one of E's former employees, and started the first official Sabbatical day on Saturday with a 5K at the Chrissy Field Park Run with some of my favorite bay area runners (who I will miss while I'm gone).

5K was way harder than I expected.  It was overcast and cool, and I had hopes of 9:20 minutes/mile, but the lack of running for a week coupled with multiple days of heavy lifting and the headwind took their toll.  I finished just over 30 minutes (9:40/mile), with all 3 of the lovely ladies above coming to join me at the finish line as they caught up to my slowing effort.

And there it is.  We are officially on our year of adventure.

July 10, 2016

10 days of Pure Summer

The essence of Summer.
E and I took our niece to his homestate to spend 10 days at their lake house with his family and some good family friends.  It was heavenly.  10 days of swimming and boating and reading and fireworks and good food and lazy conversations.  I'm fully into the first month of my sabbatical, so I only had to work a total of 6 hours or so during the whole trip (although I did leave a big chunk for the flight back).  I don't know when I've been this relaxed.

I managed to fit in 4 runs of 3ish miles each.  But it was at elevation and in the heat and humidity, so despite the low mileage, I felt like I was doing well.

We put the rental of our home on pause during the visit, which was a welcome change and definitely contributed to the sense of relaxation and vacation. 

Turns out, renting your home is very educational.  Tons of email correspondence.  Only about 50% of the people who arrange to visit actually show up.  When people say they will get back to you in X days, it is best to assume they won't.  Groups of roommates who are young and just graduating from college have almost too many variables to manage to make renting a house as a group actually work (someone will back out, a couple will break up, someone won't be okay with one of the terms of the lease). 

One of the bigger surprises to me is that the fact that we plan to come back in a year is actually a big deterrent to potential renters.  Many people are just uncomfortable with the idea that they won't be able to try to negotiate to stay and not move at the end of the year.  I find this very interesting, of course, because legally, if your lease is one year and then it goes month-to-month, then *of course* your landlord could put you on notice at the end of the year and you'd have to move.  We're just being very up front with our intentions.  A commercial landlord or property management company would just be silent, but the risks are the same.

But my view is not the common one.  Many people feel much better at the idea that their lease *could* (theoretically) be extended.  I cannot understand where this comfort comes from, since it seems completely unreliable, but, if I had a dollar for every time I viewed the world differently than the majority, I'd never need to work.

This coming week is going to be long and full of driving my niece back home and getting back to the bay, as well as much packing, storage, getting the lease signed, and figuring out exactly what we're taking on our road trip vs. shipping to family for staging for later portions of the trip.

If there's one thing the last 10 days taught me it's that this sabbatical year is going to go by *very* fast.  10 days of Pure Summer just flew by.  I'm hopeful we can slow down our experiences a bit over the rest of the year, to savor them even more.  But, if the tradeoff for such a joyous existence is that time flies, I'll still take it.    

June 25, 2016

Inching Towards Freedom

Very close.
The typical reliability of a potential renter is somewhere around 50%.  As in, flip a coin and I might show up for the scheduled showing.  Flip a coin and I might fill out the application.  Flip a coin and I may be telling the truth about whether I have enough roommates lined up to actually be able to afford renting your house.

So, there's been lots of in person tours and virtual tours given.  Many people who seemed like great fits.  We're comfortable that we're at the right price point given the interest we're getting.  But boy is it difficult to pin these people down.  I just want to get this process finished!

Many people have asked us why we don't use a rental management company.  And at the end of this month-long process, I can say that they definitely bring a service that has value by insulating you from the ridiculousness that we've been dealing with.

But, also, one of the main reasons to use a rental management company is for the legal stuff.  They are not cheap.  And guess what?  I can handle that.  Today, at brunch, I was amused when a close friend asked, "What are you going to do about the lease?"  I explained that it was on my Saturday todo list and that I had some Nolo residential forms, plus I'd reviewed about 100 commercial leases in the course of my career, all of which were available to me in my files, so I felt reasonably comfortable that I could pull something together that would cover what we needed without being ridiculous.  He looked at me with a bit of surprise -- apparently, engineers who think you specialize in IP transactions are surprised to learn that "real property" transactions are not that different from patent, copyright, or trade secret "leases" (aka licenses).

In other news, the week was a bit of a write-off, work-out wise. I skipped all Tabatas but made up 2 today.  Mileage was super low due to work and managing the rental applications plus driving to my home town, picking up my niece, driving back home, checking her into soccer camp, etc.

But at least we're gonna finish the puzzle before we head out for our Summer vacation with E's family.

June 20, 2016

Getting Ready to Go

Our planned departure date from the bay area is fast approaching.

I will miss the gorgeous views from the bay trail system and runs with my favorite bay area runner peeps when we are gone.
The biggest task we have to manage is getting the renters signed up to a lease, and packing and storing all of our belongings so that they can move in.  This is a huge undertaking -- the local rental market is quickly shifting, and being seen as an attractive option without being underpriced, while also being responsive to all of the various inquiries, is quite time intensive.  We've toyed with the asking price quite a bit, and after 3 weeks of relatively little interest and declining listing prices, I think (hope) we've hit the right number as we gave tours to 4 potential rental groups this weekend and received inquiries from another 4 out-of-town folks who are visiting this week and will be stopping by.

I've been taking the approach that I only want to interact with people online and in person (mainly because I pretty much hate the phone).  This seems to be working reasonably well, although there is a subset of potential renters who respond to the ads with very terse messages along the lines of, "Call me."  I don't call, right now, responding via email to let them know that they can ask whatever they'd like online, or set up an appointment to visit, and they typically don't respond again, or if they do, they still say, "Call me at your convenience, please."  Filtering for good clients in my law practice has taught me that as a general rule, people who want something from you but demand that you reach out to them on their terms (rather than asking how they can make themselves available to suit your needs) are difficult to deal with and generally bad clients.  I assume the same is true for renters and I'd really like to avoid difficult renters if at all possible.  However, I have to acknowledge that if we still don't have a signed lease and deposit near the move-out date, I may have to change my response policy.

Every day, we do something on all of the million little tasks that have to get done.  Last week I found a buyer for my car, and I'm so excited it's going to a good next life (don't worry, good old electron blue has been loyal and wonderful for 16+ years, it'll get its own blog post).  We continue to eat random meals to draw down the pantry as much as possible.  Identify potential storage options.  Sort through yet another area of the house.  Think about getting rid of all running medals except those from marathons and memorable events.  Shut down wine clubs.  Figure out who will take the wine fridge and keep it plugged in.  Discuss husband's collection of books and T-shirts.  Evaluate electronics that are likely too old to even be interesting to anyone but the oddest of collectors.  Set up mail redirection to a remote mail scanning/forwarding provider.  Take donations to GoodWill yet again.  Pre-fill prescriptions for long periods of time.  Get all bills/statements set up electronically.  Research travel/international health care, trip insurance, etc.  Evaluate COBRA vs. California Covered (Surprise! Through Covered CA, supposedly we can opt into an even higher risk plan HDHP than what we've already got and defer health spending even more, saving close to $5,000 if our health issues remain constant -- and potentially exposing ourselves to an increased total risk of $1-2K after we spend the saved $5,000 depending on exactly where we land with the higher deductible and out of pocket maximum.  Of course, the CA Covered website is broken for us right now due to fraud protection on our credit profile that won't let them verify us easily, so we'll see how that dream actually plays out.) 

This week was short on mileage due to travel and business (both winding down my practice gracefully, and keeping my current clients happy) while preparing for the move. But, it was very good on heat acclimatization.  Total mileage was only 16.85, but most of it was running in the heat, including 2 trips around the Palo Alto Airport 6 mile loop, once by myself to scout, and then on sunny but enjoyable version with Jen and Angela on Saturday.

Other than running, completely skipping all of my assigned Tabata workouts, and preparing for our departure and work, the other big (supremely enjoyable) time suck in my life right now is the latest puzzle.

It's been almost a month, but we are getting SO CLOSE!
I'm hopeful we can finish it before the end of the week.

June 14, 2016

Taking It Easy, Wine Country Edition

Russian River Valley Views

I was fairly proud of myself for sucking it up and busting out the See Jane Run Half.  Good thing, too, because my left foot's blister was aggravated by the effort and I needed two full days to recover with no running.  On Tuesday, I did all of the tabatas in my tabata bootcamp that I'd missed in one big chunk.  The whole point of the Tabata protocol is 4ish minutes of ultra high effort once a day, 6 days a week.  Let's just say that when you skip them on busy days and then string 5 of them together on a single day, it's a bit of a disaster, in terms of ability to maintain maximum effort as well as post-workout soreness.  But, I did it.  So that counts for something.

Wednesday, I pulled off a fairly pedestrian 4X400 @ 8:30/mile on the TM at 1% with walking recovery for a total of 3 miles.  But hey, haven't you heard? some effort is better than nothing.  I'm just generally relaxing more and more now that my practice is approaching the full-time sabbatical.  Less and less clients to deal with and more time to focus on chores and trip prep.  Thursday and Friday, I was pressed for time, so my runs took a hit and both were squished down to 2 miles with 0.5ish miles walking.  But, again, I'm a believer that something is better than nothing.

Speaking of relaxing...
Garden and Insectiary at Dry Creek Vineyards
E's best man and his wife came into town for their 10th anniversary and we joined them on a wonderful trip up to Sonoma.  It's the most relaxed I've been there in ages, possibly ever.  It's a bit sad to realize how many times I've been unable to truly relax on previous trips to this region due to the work that's been lurking in the background, silently pushing on my shoulders.  Always reminding me that it's not getting done for every minute that I'm choosing not to do it.

Even though it hasn't fully started, this sabbatical year is already teaching me things.  I do love the practice of law, but being the service provider that is meeting such an extreme need (or what is perceived as an extreme need by my clients) is very, very, emotionally exhausting.  I've been carrying much more stress around with me for the last 10 years than I realized (possibly because if I admitted it, I might have to do something about it).

Some seriously unique and delicious dishes at Meadowood.
Super relaxed, we enjoyed a perfect itinerary (arranged entirely by our friends, which was awesome) of Friday night dinner at Meadowood, 3 wineries on Saturday (with a picnic lunch), a party in Healdsburg hosted by a high-school classmate of E & E's best man, dinner at Shed, 3 wineries on Sunday (another picnic lunch), dinner at Madrona Manor, 2 wineries on Monday AM, and lunch at Bravas before heading back to reality.

More at Dry Creek Vineyards

On both Saturday and Sunday, S and I rolled out of bed, took in the gorgeous views from the Healdsburg home we'd rented and ran 3 beautiful miles before starting each day's debauchery.

Total wine purchased: 2.5 cases.  Total mileage for the week: 15. Total weight change over the 3 days in wine country: I lost 2 pounds! (Most likely residual benefits from the last 2 higher mileage weeks and healthy eating before the half marathon, but hey, I'll pretend it's just that wine country indulgence is good for me.  That's totally possible, right?  That I just need to indulge more?)

June 5, 2016

See Jane Run Half (SF/Alameda)

I signed up for this race when I realized I wouldn't make my goal 10K last weekend and I couldn't find a replacement 10K in the next couple of weeks.  My options were, live with the Chrissy field 5K as the only race for this training cycle, or suck it up and pay for and run a half marathon.  I knew I needed to increase my mileage for fitness reasons and, let's be honest, I probably wouldn't do it without a goal race.  But, I'm not going to lie, the thing that tipped the scale is that the race was in Alameda and one of my dearest friends and college roommates lives there.  I figured if I ran a race while she was teaching exercise classes at the gym ('cause that's what Ms. badass does on her weekend mornings) I could make a good case for a big indulgent post-workout afternoon lunch of food and wine.  And, it worked.  So, that's the real victory here.
View of the City in the Distance on the end of the Bay Farm Island loop

I'd been doing fairly well on the 10K training when I made the switch, so I just kept at the strength and speed work while adding in some long runs where they fit.  In the last 4 weeks, I fit in an 8 miler and two 10-milers plus a hard 5K followed by a blister-laden 5.6 miles (failed 8 miler) the next day last weekend.  Not awesome, but enough to know I could get through a half without keeling over.

The night before the race I checked the weather, and was pleased to see that despite Thursday's local highs of 100F, Sunday's Alameda prediction was a start temp of 58F partly cloudy, and an end temp of 64F and sunny.

After looking at my training and being very honest with myself, I set the following goals:

A+/Stretch/Everything is Magic Goal -- 2:18 - 10:35/mile

B Goal -- 2:22 - 10:50/mile, fastest 1/2 marathon in 19 months (2:19 half on my way to DNF the Chicago Marathon 2014).

C Goal -- sub 2:24 -- less than 11:00/mile, fastest 1/2 since ORF 2015 (2:22:09)

D Goal -- Finish sub 2:29 -- 11:23/mile, fastest since SLO 2015 (which is a much more demanding course, elevation-wise, so not a great comparison, but I had to work with what I had)

E Goal -- Finish healthy

The course promised 7 aid stations with no gu.  I gave myself permission to walk through and drink plus dump water on my head at each one.  I also packed 4 gus, stuffing the back pocket of my shorts into a ridiculous lump, planning to take one of them at (or before) aid stations 2, 4, 5, and 6/7.

The AM worked out perfectly, I woke on my own at 5:59, turning off my alarm and saving E from the 6:00 AM buzz.  I dressed, and was out the door by 6:20, got my Skinny Vanilla Latte with an extra shot at Starbucks and drove to Crown Memorial State Beach.  When I finished the latte I started in on the large Gatorade.  Parking was $5, and there was plenty still available at 7:15.  Bonus, there were physical bathrooms near the parking that had no line, so I took advantage of that opportunity before walking the 1/2 mile to the start line. 

The starting area was chaos.  But good, friendly, pink, fun, lady-positive chaos.

Like 80s style aerobic warm-up chaos.
 I'd read some negative reviews about staging, but they had wave starts this year and it was super simple to slip away after the first group started, finish my large Gatorade and throw out the bottle, hit the port-a-potties with no lines, and return back in time to join the coral with the 2:15 pacer before they headed out.

The race weather was dreamy.  A little humid for the bay area, but it stayed blissfully overcast until after I finished.  I headed out and just repeated "nice, easy, sustainable pace" to myself for several miles.  It worked.  Early splits as follows:

1: 10:16
2: 10:38
3: 11:07 (includes walking through the water stop and taking a gu)
4: 10:31
5: 10:50
6: 10:28

At this point, I realized, I was almost dead on my target A+ goal pace.  I checked watch screen #3, and the average pace for the total was 10:37.  WOW!  Also, yeah.  This was not going to continue.  I could tell already that I didn't have it in me to continue at this pace through the end.  And that was just fine.

I walked through the aid station at 6.11 miles on my Garmin and took a Gu, sucking down water, hitting the 10K at 1:06:45 -- or 10:45/mile.  I knew I wasn't making up those 10 seconds per mile.

In fact, I knew it was going to be a struggle to keep it below 11 minutes per mile by the end, but I decided that was the fight I was going to pick.

Later splits:

7: 11:18 (gu and water station)
8: 11:19 (turn on music at 7.01, water station mid-mile)
9: 10:35
10: 10:57 (no excuse, just starting to lag)
11: 11:57 (gu and water station, definitely the hardest mile of the race)
12: 11:38 (one foot in front of the other to the music)
13: 10:43 (includes a water walking break, just goes to show how much of this is mental)
13.18: 9:42/mile (what did I say about mental?)

Final outcome by Garmin: 13.18 miles @ 2:24:01.  10:56/mile average pace.

It's humbling to take this as a win.  But it is one.  I'm 2 seconds off my C goal, and I ran to the best of my abilities today (plus the weather was on my side).  Overall, I'm very happy I signed up for the half, it definitely forced me to do more training and push myself on race day than I would have otherwise done.

Next up?  Chrissy Field 5K in July.  I'm hoping to drop some more time off my Chrissy Field PR.  Wish me luck.

June 4, 2016

Mid-Year Book Check-In

This year has been light on visual reading.

Audiobooks have definitely taken over as my preferred method of consuming literature.

It's not that I don't enjoy visual reading, but it's *much* harder to multitask and time is a limited resource.  Stuff I can do while listening to an audiobook that I can't do while visually reading includes: driving, running, walking outside, doing dishes, doing laundry, and gardening.  In other words, there's stuff in almost every day that allows me to enjoy an audiobook while I do it, whereas with visual reading, I have to find the time.  These days, visual reading (unless I'm on the treadmill or a plane) feels like an unearned indulgence.  

Given that we're culling our physical belongings in preparation for the Sabbatical year, I've cut myself off from buying any more physical books.

At this point, I'm just doing my best to get through the pile by my bed which is primarily the books that E has finished and I want to read as well as a few others I either bought for myself or received as gifts.

E and I both bought Kindles with the assumption that we'll want to visually read while traveling (you guys, my reading wishlist for the year is already MUCH too long!), and we won't want to lug paper books.

I've only read one Kindle book so far (The Sellout, see review below).  I suspect visually reading a paper book (and possibly taking notes in the margins) will always be my preferred method of enjoying literature.  But, I have to consider the tradeoffs.  As I noted above re: time and audiobooks, I'll take more literature in exchange for an audio format.  Similarly, I'll take the electronic visual format in exchange for loss of weight while traveling.  The one major improvement in the digital visual xperience for me was the ability to tap a word or phrase and immediately get a definition or historical explanation -- the future is cool!

So, without further adieu, here's the visual reading list with reviews for the year so far:

The Story of My Teeth
Valeria Luiselli
A very unique book.  Histerically laugh out loud Fiction.  Surrealism.  An installation art project.  A translator who added a section of the book with a timeline explaining all the pop and historical latin american and hispanic cultural references.  A very clever work of art that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Blue Mars
Kim Stanley Robinson
I *could* not get through this book in any reasonable time frame.  It dragged on, and on.  The last book in a very enjoyable trilogy -- in other words, I had to find a way.  So I did.  But this is definitely the weakest of the 3 books and a bit all over the place.  As a stand-alone book, I don't think I'd recommend it, but I'm a sucker for finishing series, so in that light, when considered as part of a whole, it's still worth it.
My Brilliant Friend
Elena Ferrante
This book completely blew me away.  The language was sparse and descriptive and powerful and so evocative of the Italian it came from in a manner I've never really encountered.  The story of Elena and Lila is a very honest portrayal of young female emotions -- raw jealousy, love, competitiveness, hope, concern and more.  I immediately ordered the next book in the series for my Audiobook fun. 
Rule 34
Charles Stross
Typical Stross -- fast, smart, clever, confusing, futuristic fun.  True to the name, this one was a little dirtier and darker than most of his stuff.
Saturn's Children
Charles Stross
Extremely fun.  Sex-robots built to please humans in a post-human futuristic world.  Transferable soul chips, space travel, intrigue and betrayal. 
Neptune's Brood
Charles Stross
A more clever exploration of the world established in Saturn's Children with a decreased focus on sex and an increased focus on what it means to have soul chips and similar bodylines plus time travel, slow sleep, and monetary transactions between planetary systems.  Very thought provoking and enjoyable.
Singularity Sky
Charles Stross
Classic space opera with spying, interplanetary turmoil, futuristic maker-machines, and general goodness.
The Sellout
Paul Beatty
I came into this book blind, it was a book club assignment, so I read it as my first Kindle book.  It's weird.  Like really weird.  But also, it is one of the most beautifully linguistic and hilarious things I've ever read.  And, even while you're ogling the gorgeous language (Beatty is also a poet) and laughing out loud, in the back of your head, you realize this stuff is going to stick with you and make you think real real hard.  I regularly found myself reading snippets to E, just so he too could enjoy the the satire that interwove the painful and uncomfortable with truly Californian reality and very odd imaginative shit from Mr. Beatty's head.  I tried to explain the book to a friend at a party and my explanation was something like, "Well, it's a hilarious book about 'post-racial' america where the main character is a young black man on trial for keeping a slave, who turns out to be one of the original Little Rascals actors.  And, oh, did I mention he lives on a farm and rides a horse in a name-removed farming ghetto in the middle of Los Angeles?  There's a bus ride party with a post-party segregation movement.  Oh, he smokes weed in the Supreme Court of the US while waiting for his hearing.  It's so good.  No. Really."

May 29, 2016


So, a while back, I bailed on the Danville 10K that so many of my bay area running friends were doing.  Turns out Cat PR'd (thanks to some fancy pacing from Angela), as did Jen.  I bailed in order to do the Chrissy Field Parkrun today with E and his best friend (C) and C's wife (G).

Typical Chrissy Field ParkRun View (courtesy Chrissy Field Parkrun photographers)
It was the right call for me, even though I felt super jealous of the Danville folks throughout the day.  E PR'd pacing C to his first full 5K (E has a much faster 5K in him if he ever decides he wants it, but I digress).  C tried to keep it low-key since he's one of those "I don't enjoy working out" types, but after the finish he was texting family and friends, and just generally very proud of himself for coming in sub 30 on his first 5K (which is a big deal, and super impressive).  He seemed a bit surprised at all of the invitations from folks who weren't there to join various running activities now that he's shown himself capable of "running." 

In the interests of respecting E&C's privacy, I won't post their very *unique* finishing photos (which show how much effort the end was -- even in SF, while not Danville, the sun on the backstretch was direct and hot).  I will however post the competition they successfully bested in the last 0.25 miles of the race.

Mind you, this dude was a competitor.  As soon as E&C came up on him, ready to pass, he stopped to a walk for the first time in the whole race (we know, 'cause we'd been behind him) as if to signal, "you are only passing me because I am allowing you to do so."

I passed the kid on his walk break as well, but after a few seconds he sped back up and finished ahead of me, but after E&C.  All was well.

Meanwhile, G was pushing her stroller with her less than 1yo daughter taking a nap.  She opted into running the full 5K without stopping for her biggest workout effort in over 2 yrs.

So, in her shadow, I ran my highest grade-age effort in 2+ years.  I'm happy. 

The day before the race, I ran my standard 0.5 mile jogging warm-up, 1 mile at the pace I think I can sustain for the race by effort, and 0.5+ mile cooldown.  I was surprised to find that the 5K effort mile was 9:25 in the hot sun (and the prediction for SF was relatively cool, although, damn, the direct sun on that final 0.75 miles can make 65F feel like 80...).

So, I decided I'd shoot for 9:30 - 9:40 (McMillan had predicted 9:45 as my current fitness pace).  Historically speaking, these high 9 minutes per mile paces are not race paces.  They are weak tempos to my former self.  This is what humility (and acceptance of aging and laziness and lack of fitness) looks like.  I was actually excited to realize I could race in the 9s for the first time in 2 years.  This is who I am right now.  And it was fun.

At the start, I told E and C that I was shooting for this pace range, and they, being younger dudes with no running watches or data collection/reporting devices, decided to try to stick with me as long as possible.  This was ambitious.  C had ran no more than 2ish miles in any one run total in this training cycle.  We'd run as a group 1 time per week, breaking off with me and G chilling with the stroller and the guys doing their own thing each time.  Apparently, at some point in the 2ish mile running lap every week, C would ask for a break to walk, briefly.  E was always supportive (and is generally fit enough to string together some low 9 miles), but they were sticking together and they'd never run more than 1 mile at 9:30ish pace without stopping for a walk break.

I executed on my plan.  Guess what, it hurt.  I finished averaging 9:38, which is slower than my fastest marathon pace, but correct for me in a 5K right now. I knew my own fitness and I assumed I would drop the men at some point on the path due to lack of C's training.  But, they surprised me and stayed with me, using me as a rabbit at times in the first few miles in the sunny spots where they were lagging, but then taking off with 0.6 miles to the end to run down the random 12ish-year-old kid (pictured above).  As I noted, to his credit, the kid stopped to walk just as they passed as if to say, "Yeah, I know it.  But, for real, you're only passing me because I'm letting you."

Long story short, C was way more fit than his training let on.  29:30 5K for C (never more than 2ish miles ever) and E (not really interested in speed).  Well done, boys.

Overall, it was a gorgeous day in Chrissy Field and a wonderful way to spend a Saturday morning (followed by brunch at one of my favorite restaurants, a crawfish boil at a friend's, and an early night at home on a 3 day weekend).

Weekly total mileage (after today's target 8 miles slow but actual 5.6 due to a blister and bad socks) is 29.77.  Big workouts this week include the Chrissy Field 5K at sub 30, plus an 11X400 speed workout, and of course today's "long run" plus lots of easy stuff including walking during the rest of the week.  I would have preferred to hit 8+ today on my long run, but the blister from the bad socks took precedence, so I bailed... c'est la vie.

All things considered, I'm oddly feeling reasonably prepared for next Sunday's half marathon in Alamada.  Wish me luck!