February 7, 2016

33+ Miles

This week, I put 33.77+ miles on my feet.  I walked less than 8 of those, including all walking warm-ups, cooldowns, and interval recovery.

In other words.  I had a real, serious, running week.


Doritos For the Super Bold -- Skywriting visible from my Super Bowl Sunday Run
Monday I rested.

Tuesday, I had good intentions, but work was insane.  I ran 0.5 on the treadmill but had to stop for a call.  Finally, I just fit in a walk and intended to have a solid long run with local group track day in the middle on Wednesday.

Wednesday, I slept in too much to run to track day.  I could have driven there, but I would have missed out on the mileage. So, I mapped out a long run and actually did 8.2 miles solo plus 0.8+walking.

Thursday, I did a mid-level effort 3 miler @ 10:44 average pace.   (I'm calling this a tempo at this fitness level.)

Friday, I decided to go hard.  I started with 11 minutes of jump rope and calisthenics intervals (6 X (1 min jump; 10 s rest: 30 sec (alternating pushups, dips, abs); 10 seconds rest)).  I recovered from that over a 30 minute client call and then opted for speed intervals on the road -- 9X400 w/0.1 mile walking R/I, averaging in the low 8s/mile for the speed.  It had been so long since I had done a demanding workout of this caliber.  I pretty much floated on endorphins for the rest of the day.

Saturday, I ran to friends so we could do brunch.  5.67 miles on a route I don't normally do, starting slow, but speeding up to a last tempo mile.

Today, I headed out for a super slow 8+ miles as my last long run before Kaiser.  I saw the skywriters (see above).  I slowed significantly towards the end, but I really didn't care, I just wanted to get it done in a comfortable aerobic state.  And I did.  8.21 miles in the highest of 12s (or even into the 13s if you believe my garmin since I forgot to shut it off while I fumbled with my phone and struggled to decipher the sky-writers). 

Why yes, this is what I consider a delicious post longish-run meal.
Upon arriving home, E & I snacked on lots of delicious salty, fatty snacks with a beer in prep for the super bowl party decadence (at which we were both surprisingly well behaved).

In short, I got in a temp. speedwork, and 2 long runs.  Best running week in a very long time.  Very much looking forward to Kaiser next weekend.

February 4, 2016

A Real Running Update

My running philosophy hasn't changed much over the years.  I set some minor race-based training and performance goals, and I try to hit them.  I miss them, most of the time, but in the process, I get some mileage in and keep myself relatively healthy.

I rarely set running goals that require me to modify my life.  Even the more difficult commitments I make to running are almost always behind work in terms of priority, which means they often get destroyed when work is a monster.

While I love how easy it is to relate to my running friends, my running goals are very different than most of theirs.  I enjoy a PR or good race performance as much as the next person, but I'm unwilling to make most of the sacrifices required to make them a regular occurrence.

And I'm totally okay with that.

I think that's the thing I've noticed about my running philosophy that's different from most of my running friends -- I just don't really get too disappointed in my running.  If I need (or hell, just want) to skip a workout or dial it down, I do so and I enjoy myself.  If I need to drop out of a race, I rarely beat myself up.  I'm aware that I probably *could* be pushing out better running performances, but most of the time, I don't.  And that's just who I am as a runner these last several years -- not very performance focused.

The first quarter of this year, however, I've combined my running goals with some general health goals, and that has made them slightly more important and harder to blow off.

The end result is I'm slowly improving my speed, strength, and stamina each week, while very slowly decreasing my mass.

This week, Monday I rested as planned.  Tuesday, work killed my scheduled workout.  Wednesday, my plan was to run to track, do the track workout and run home, to get myself to a psuedo long-run as well as some speed.  But, I slept in.  I surprised myself by mapping out a long run and heading out for 8.21 miles at a super-easy slow pace of high 12s/mile (McMillan recommended long run pace), followed by 0.83 miles walking cool down. 

So far in 2016, I've done:
- interval speedwork once a week every week
-long runs of at least 6 miles (and up to 9.3) each week
-an average of 22.5 miles/week with 5-10% increased mileage each week (counting walking) but slowly replacing much of the walking with running
-a few tempo runs  (last week's Chrissy Field 5K was a 10:17/mile effort -- one of the slowest 5Ks I've ever done, but it felt good to string some medium-high effort miles together regardless of the pace)

Essentially, I've got 4 decent and obviously improving consecutive running weeks for the first time in a long time.  Yesterday's mid-week long run was the first time I've made an effort to put running in front of work during the work week since September.

I've got 10 days 'til the Kaiser Half, which is a tune-up race for the Oakland Running Festival Half 5 weeks after that.  My goal is to stick to the current level of commitment, weekly speedwork, a long run, and increasing mileage each week until the ORF taper.  I'm actually a little excited to see how things pan out. 

Wish me luck.

February 1, 2016

Precarious Life

There are so many reasons you shouldn’t still be alive.  You could have been the ill-fated 15-year-old (a runaway), 23 year old (no family support), 35 year old (depressed), 67 year old (how do we even label you, survivor?).

And yet, you are not here on this list.

And we are.  We still live in this world.

That shit is heavy.  Heavy like the weight of books written by those who supposedly made it, but then chose not to make it all the way.  Heavy like the weight of Silvia Plath’s oven.

Fuckin’ heavy, man.

There are many contests in life.  Most of ‘em don’t matter.  But if I”ve learned one thing, it’s this.   

Teach your kids (biological, students, nieces, nephews, neighborhood kids) and know that you yourself are entitled to *survive* every contest as are they.  Be smart, but understand that survival privilege is real.  

 Let’s make it a thing we all acknowledge (and yes, it is likely harder to deliver this message to an audience who doesn’t have traditional privilege, but it doesn’t make it any less valid).

-Peace and love to Michael Feeney, you are one of many angels gone too soon.

January 31, 2016

Beautiful Steps Forward

View from the SF Park Run. So Gorgeous! (Apparently, a good sailing day?)
This week was gorgeous.

Rain, filling reservoirs in California.  A company party for one of my clients. A return to track day and good strong speedy intervals.  An 11 minute jump-rope and calisthenics workout.  Really, what's not to like?

On my way back to the car after coffee at the kiosk at the St. Francis Yacht  Club after Park Run SF...

I'd signed up to drive the whole bay loop this weekend, apparently.  Saturday AM, after a lazy night at home with E streaming In Bruges on netflix and an early night, I drove from Silicon Valley to Chrissy Field for a 9 AM Park Run.  From there, I avoided Super Bowl city to get to the Bladium on Alameda to meet a friend for a celebratory lunch.  And, finally, I drove the 880 back home, before a client dinner at the 49er Stadium, all lit up for the super bowl.

Just another reminder that I need a real camera.  These lights and signs were so much cooler than this looks.

But, the party was fun.
We had a wonderful time at the January annual pseudo holiday party.  Our crew got a kick out of learning that apparently George and Amal and their crew had reserved the same in-stadium venue for a party next week during the actual festivities.  So, we were at least there first... (and parking and traffic were not too insane.)

Saturday AM, as I mentioned, before the drive around the bay, I ran my first Park Run (thanks to Cat and her commitment to running and being British).

That's some joy right there.  Who's happy to be done?  ME!
 I ran the last 1.5M of the race with a woman from England who informed me, "Our local Park Run is 5 repeated loops of 1K around our local park... This is, well, much nicer..."
Me, Cat and JL (plus A) -- A great morning, for sure.
Other than that, I have not much to report.  Weekly mileage total is 25.46.  Track happened again and the paces were faster than required.  Other workouts were good as well.  Today, I woke late and headed out for a super slow 12+/mile 6 mile run (only realizing at 3 miles that I'd forgotten my keys since I thought I was running to pick up the car we'd left at the party).

And all of a sudden, it's time to prepare for next week.  (How is it time to do timesheets again?)

January 25, 2016

A Very Solid Week

On the running front, my foot seems to have recovered.

Monday -- easy jogging 1.09 miles + 0.43 walk.  Stopped as soon as the foot even started twinging.

Tuesday -- complete rest due to work and managing transportation and support for some minor surgery for E.

Wednesday -- TRACK DAY!  Back at the track for the first time in 9 weeks.  2X400; 600; 2X400; 600; 400.  All right on pace or faster than the targets per McMillan Running calculator for my sub 2:39 half.  I also parked 1 mile away and jogged there and jogged back, so with the warm-up and recovery the day's total was a very respectable 5.85 miles.  I'm hopeful I can park and run in this week as well.

Thursday -- 2 X (1 min jump rope intervals between 30 seconds pushups; situps; dips) (9 minutes hard calisthentics); 3 miles easy @ 11:24; 0.18 walk

Friday -- (HOLY SORE ARMS/SHOULDERS, BATMAN!) Rest, attend conference and give a presentation.

Saturday -- (ARMS STILL ANGRY!) 3.21 miles in Altadena.  Anytime you see Alta in the name, you should assume there will be hills.  There were.  The loop was 1 mile with 200 ft of elevation gain, followed by 2 miles with some small rollers to recover it.  Overall, it was a great run.  If I lived on those hills, I think I'd be more fit.

Sunday -- (ARMS, finally starting to recover) 9.3 miles total, including 4 with the local running club, and some run/walk intervals after I picked up a lemonade.  Average pace including walk breaks was approximately 12 minutes/mile.

Total mileage = 23.14.  But more importantly, I got in 2 actual workouts (track and a long run) and a solid hill run to boot.  Overall, this felt like my best running week in a long time.  Next week's goal is to keep up the good work, and try to get in another calisthenics day, possibly a yoga day as well.

Professionally, last week was wonderful.  I prepared for and spoke at a conference and received great feedback.  It's odd to be experienced and senior enough in my career that I'm now one of the people speaking at a conference I want to attend who has ability to answer questions from the top of my head.  I used to be amazed to see my professional idols do it, and now, I'm doing it, sometimes in response to questions posed by those same professional idols.  That evolution is a wondrous thing. 

January 17, 2016

Great Food Week, Meh Running Week

So, E's brother in law sent him a gigantic Wagyu steak for his Christmas present (delicious guilt flown from Japan to New York to California).

So Marbled!
Saturday night pre-race fancy seafood dinner (with caviar!), followed by dim sum post-race brunch, followed by wagyu post-race dinner -- net zero I'm sure.

Why yes, the grease fire did continue after the steak was removed.

It was delicious.  We served 4. 
2 friends came over to enjoy the spoils, and when it looked like the guys might actually challenge each other to finish (which surely would have made them ill from how rich it was), I offered to take the leftovers and make a bolognese we could take to their house and have for dinner on Tuesday.  Turns out, refrigerated wagyu leftovers are roughly as easy to chop as refrigerated bacon.  Probably because the fat/protein ratio is the same.
Wagyu Bolognese.

Unfortunately, I woke on Monday to pain on the left side of my foot.  Right below where I'd rolled my ankle both times.   I took a full day of rest and used my new spiralizer to make zucchini noodle "ramen". (Don't even get me started on how obsessed I am with the spiralizer -- fully half of the meals I've made since we've been home in 2016 have required this gadget.)

This spiral slicer has taken over my 2016 cooking.

The "ramen" was a big hit, and nice and healthy and light.
Veggie "ramen"

Unfortunately, the outside of my left foot was still sore on Tuesday.  I was excited to keep up the running momentum, but didn't want to do anything stupid, so I opted to walk 3 miles instead of run.

Wednesday, I hiked the Stanford dish with a friend, foot sore and grumpy but not noticeably getting worse.

Finally, Thursday, it seemed to have recovered.  So, I did some treadmill intervals while finishing my book club book during the walking recovery.  I finished 3 miles total, and although 2/3 was walking, the 4 short speed intervals were at 7:30/mile pace and 1% incline.  It's been a long time since I asked my body to move that quickly.  No post-workout foot pain, although the next day my glutes and hamstrings were very confused and sore.

Friday, I headed out for a short easy run but the foot flared up at 0.61 miles, so, resigning myself to the wiser option, I walked back home.  Discouraging.

Saturday, I pulled off 1.75 miles in the mid 11s without pain and decided to end on a good note, feeling that 6+ miles on Sunday with a friend should be doable in my current state.  I walked another 0.75 home.

And, today, I joined a friend who's on 4:00 jog/ 1:00 walk intervals and we chatted our way through a 6.7ish mile loop around Grand Lake in Oakland.  Success!  Only minor foot soreness now, but nothing compared to last week's tenderness.

Bonus!  It's restaurant week in Oakland, and we enjoyed a delicious (and authentically slow) 3-course post run Italian brunch at Bellanico for $20.  Best value meal I've enjoyed in a *long* time.

Total mileage for the week?  22.28.  Only 50% running.  I very much hope that my foot is healing and won't continue to be an issue. 

January 10, 2016


Gorgeous Day on Ocean Beach!
Today, E2 and I ran our first race together in 6+ years.  She was my original running buddy back in the day (she's the friend I've had in my life the longest, and she's essentially family).  I lost her running companionship to injuries a while back, so imagine how thrilled I was when she mentioned late last year that she'd been increasing her mileage without negative side effects and wondered if I would be interested in running the San Francisco Hot Chocolate 15K with her.  It was a magical day (and a great way to celebrate a big day in her life).

Random super-tall photobomber at the start.

It was a new (to me) distance, although I was slightly familiar with the race from having ran to the finish last year (I knew to expect that it would be huge).

Do you know what a new distance means?  Immediate PR!
Look!  Bison!
And I needed that level of affirmation.  I've been struggling for the last year to find motivation to push myself.  Running is just not something where I'm interested in things being difficult.  I have plenty of areas of life that are difficult.  With running, lately, I like to get out for *time* on my feet.  But pacing is so uninteresting when I'm stressed from life, that I often find myself jogging, or run-walking, or not even worrying about the time at all -- escaping and lazy.

Look, here we are, all the way out at the ocean.

Thankfully, E2 was having none of this.  She lied and told me she would need to take lots of walk breaks.  In truth, we only walked for water, to take photos, and to take a porta-john stop around mile 6.

After we hit the 8 mile marker, it was clear to me that I'd hit the wall, so I told E2 to take off.  It was very obvious that despite her 6+ years of not much running, she was much more fit than I was, *and* the last mile+ of this race is uphill.  And E2 is a billy goat.  When she's able to run, she has this annoying quality where she actually gets *faster* going uphill.  So, she agreed to ditch me and left.  I took solace in the fact that while I alternated with 50X8 count running, and 100 steps walking for 3 intervals before I felt that I could finally slowly jog/run to the end, I still passed people consistently (open corral for the win!).

Finally!  Done.
When all was said and done, I finished 4 minutes after E2, so I definitely made the right call in encouraging her to book it up the final hills.

On the other hand, much to my surprise, I'm totally pleased with the outcome.  It's a nice strong positive split, but it includes several walk breaks, photo breaks, and a long porta-john stop.  I may actually be (*gasp*) in slightly better shape than I realized (thanks for the heat, humidity and hills, Hawaii!).  I couldn't find my Garmin this AM in the hotel room (thinking I'd left it at home), so all I have to rely upon is the official data:

Interval Chip Time Chip Pace
5K 0:33:20 10:44 min/mi
10K 1:12:55 11:45 min/mi
Finish 1:52:06 12:02 min/mi

5 weeks 'til Kaiser half.  I feel very confident that I will be able to finish.  Just how fast is up for grabs at the moment, but I'll take any finish as a success.  Last year, thanks to support from F, I barely pulled through with a 2:39 (11:51 AVG including all breaks).  At this point, I think targeting beating that is reasonable and good.  So that's what I'm taking as my B goal.  A goal to be determined.  

January 8, 2016

Final 2015 Audiobook Roundup

So, this is part 3.  Parts 1 and 2 available as well.  I managed a total of 48 full audiobooks in 2015.  I think it's safe to say I'm addicted.  In my mind, it's not a bad thing.  I get more exposure to art, culture, writing, etc.  But, I'm still an addict.

If you're looking for feedback or options on what's been occupying my time doing chores, driving, and non-super-strenuous workouts, here you go.  Enjoy!

Jeffrey Eugenides
Hilarious.  Poignant.  Exploration of gender and society and history and racism and more.  Every bit a classically impressive work of art as its reputation claims.  22 hours of audiobook. Excellent narration.
Underground: the Tokyo Gas Attack and the Underground Psyche
Haruki Murakami
The last in the audiobooks seeking to educate me on Japan before the trip.  An in-depth set of interviews with survivors and Aum cult members regarding the Sarin gas attacks.  Fascinating.
Drew Barrymore
Drew and I are so close in age that I feel as if we grew up together.  This memoir was so touching -- if you're in my cohort, you knew some of the basics of her background and history, but this filled in many details and humanized her as well as helped explain how she's grown into the successful entrepreneur, producer, and mother that she clearly is today.
Oryx and Crake
Margaret Atwood
I'd read this one in 2004.  Book club wanted to read it, so I listened to the audiobook as a refresher.  It held up surprisingly well.  The themes and concerns she has are all applicable today and the science and reality she describes are equally as possible today as they were a decade ago.
Furiously Happy
Jenny Lawson
Perhaps the best book I've ever read (listened to) about mental illness.  Funny and entertaining, but also so endearing and educational.  I applaud her efforts.
Adventures of the Karoake King
Harold Taw
Perhaps the most random book selection of the year.  Plot points include, karoake, divorce, multinational corporate development, a self-help guru, a retired porn-star dwarf, and a thai child who was sold into the sex-trade and now works as an adult sex-worker, perhaps willingly?  It's complicated.
Self-Inflicted wounds
Aisha Tyler
Light.  Comical.  Breezy.  Fun to learn about the 70s and 80s in Oakland and San Francisco from someone who grew up there.  If you watch Archer, it's odd to have Lana's voice narrate...
My Life In France
Julia Child & Alex Prud'homme
Now I know that Julia Child is my spirit animal.  I do love France for many of the same reason she does.  This book made me realize just how different the pace of life is today versus the 50s, 60s, and 70s.  It's not like she didn't accomplish a ton of things, but she also had so much time for leisure and pleasure.  Everything about this story screamed at me "Choose your life.  Make it what you want it to be."  I don't think the goal of this book was to be inspiring, but I found it to be one of the best stories I've ever read about choosing your own authentic path (and how everyone has obstacles, you just have to find a way through them).
Jonathan Franzen
I started this one on December 16th, and didn't finish it until today, because, in typical Franzen style, it's LONG.  I am part of the camp that believes Jonathan Franzen is one of the greatest living American Authors.  I just love the way he strings words together to describe things perfectly with descriptions I've never heard before, but instantly recognize as true.  I learned at a lawyer's lunch that he's pissed off some women/feminists when I explained I was reading this book and one of my colleagues shook her head and another literally tusk-tsked.  When I asked why they had such a negative reaction, one of the ladies replied with a screwed up face, "He has a woman problem."  A couple other women at the table nodded.  "Huh."  I said.  "I've only read The Corrections, and it seemed to me that all of the characters in that book were equally insufferable.  I didn't find it particularly harsh on women.  And with this book, the main character is a young woman.  And she evolves and is interesting and carries the story well."  I then went to reserach the history of the criticism and personally concluded that he's an awkward dude with a penchant for telling the truth, even if it makes him sound like an asshole (I mean, he pissed off Oprah, which I'm guessing is why he's automatically thrown into the "woman problem" camp).  But, I don't think he's a misogynist.  This book does have some scenes of violence (including violence against women) and horrible emotional manipulation (including by and of women), but really, to me, it's just a great exploration of the dark depths of humanity in a complex tale of interwoven characters and American culture.  I very much enjoyed it.