May 17, 2019

England and Paris

After the chaos of the Morocco dog bite and the subsequent Morocco adventures, we were happy to land in London and settle in for some Global City travel.

Random Tulip Garden in London near Temple Station
We spectated the London Marathon, which was awesome.  Then, between visits to the travel medical clinic, we visited with multiple friends who've left the bay area and E's parents who were vacationing in the Cotswolds.

I don't have the words for how great it was to spend a weekend with these ladies!
And then, on our way out of Europe, we chunneled to Paris and spent an awesome 40 hours or so there, walking in parks and eating our way through the best the city has to offer.

One of dozens of Eiffel Tower photos I took.
We are now home.  I'm slowly recovering from the dog bite (the final rabies vaccination in the US cost more than all of the other medical care combined, in keeping with stereotypes).  The actual wound itself is likely to take another 3-4 weeks to fully heal, but I think I can jog on it tomorrow, so that's my plan. In other news, I've put together a mild training plan for The Peachtree Road Race (10K).  This means I plan to start actually running some workouts again soon.

I'm hoping to start with a long run of 4 miles next week and increase 'til 8 miles before stepping back for the race.  After Memorial Day, I'll also be shooting for 1 yoga studio session per week, 1 track day per week, and some more easy miles and general fitness workouts (with a focus on shoulder and glute/hamstring stability).  Wish me luck.


May 15, 2019

Morocco, part 2

 Kefta (lamb beef meatball) Tagine with a poached egg in delicious spiced tomato sauce.   
The food in Morocco was possibly the best part.  They have a strong bread culture, and the bread that was served with every meal was fresh and delicious.  Tagines are a wonderful way to prepare food, in general, but in particular while hiking between very basic guesthouses (Gîte_d'étapes) where you (or a mule) must bring all of the cooking supplies (including the gas and burner).

Merguez and vegetable tagine.
Morocco is much more of a dry country than I realized.  For the entire 7 days, we only ate at one restaurant that served alcohol.  We also went to one bar in Marrakech, and it was one of the few places we visited where they obviously preferred French to Darija.

We were invited in for tea at a Berber home.
Linguistically,  Morocco is one of the more complex places I've ever visited.  While Darija is the official spoken language, in most of the places where we hiked, the people spoke a Berber dialect.  Unlike standard Arabic (which I studied briefly 15 years ago, but have completely lost all memory of and cannot follow at all except basic things like thank you, excuse me, etc.), after a couple of days in Morocco I found that I could occasionally follow Darija a little bit thanks to the context of knowing what was being discussed (typically logistics around hiking, eating, driving, etc.) and the French and Spanish cognates embedded in the language.

Lemon Chicken, one of the traditional Moroccan dishes
(preserved lemons and cooked olives -- wonderful)
Part of the reason we'd selected Morocco, was that I wanted to go somewhere where French would be useful.  And it was. But interestingly, almost everyone we spoke to preferred English to French.  Much like Vietnam, there appears to be a generational preference, where the older folks who were educated in French prefer it to English, but the younger folks wish to learn, practice and speak English. There is currently a big debate in the country about whether they should move their STEM education from Standard Arabic and French to English or not.  Standard Arabic, French, and Spanish are all languages of outsiders who came to Morocco and ruled them.  Whereas English is seen as the international language, and Morocco is one of the few places that doesn't have a history of British colonialism.

The weather, wildflowers, and views while hiking were perfect
  Overall, even with the dog bite, it was a fascinating trip and we very much enjoyed ourselves.

Kefta Tagine, fresh chopped veggies, mint tea
and views of the Atlas Mountains
while listening to the call to prayer echo 
down the valley

May 9, 2019

Travel Medical Adventures (Warning, Dog Bite Photos)

Hello from the other side of the longest I've gone without blogging since 2003.  I didn't miss it at all, which surprised me.
Tulips on the way into AMS (before our quick hop to CDG)
Given that I've habitually blogged at least once a week for 16 years, I spent some time trying to understand why it was so easy to let it go:

1. I have Instagram and Twitter if I really feel the need to project my words/pictures, and they are faster and easier to use.

2. Over the years, I've gotten less and less dedicated to the actual craft of writing on this blog, *and* I've gotten less and less specific with the details I share. This means the blog has really shrunk down from a general purpose somewhat redacted diary with intermittent writing exercises to more of a running, fitness, travel, food, and reading tracker -- e.g. useful, but not a particularly creative pursuit.

3. I was preparing for and enjoying a 19-day trip, with at least half of it completely off work.  During our Sabbatical year, I blogged about our experiences and observations as part of the fun of the travel.  I built in time to prepare blog posts after each new location, to help me process and record my thoughts while they were fresh before I went to another place. On this vacation, I believe the longest one I've ever taken while working, I really wanted to just focus on enjoying the trip in the moment and minimizing the activities that could feel like work.

Chefchauoen, Morocco -- the blue city

Our original plan had been to fly round trip to Paris (because any chance I can build in a France visit, I will, and also because we weren't sure what might happen with Brexit at the time we booked our flights, so we wanted an option to bail out of England if necessary).  After one night in Paris to manage jet lag, we planned to fly to Morocco and visit Chefchaouen and do some hiking there, followed by a visit to Marrakech and hiking in the Atlas Mountains.  From Marrakech, we had flights to London, where we'd cheer on Jen at the London Marathon, visit London friends, possibly do some hiking in Wales, and then close out the trip with an awesome weekend full of Wiltshire adventures with Jen & Gypsy Runner as guests of Cat and her family and cats.

Roughly our route, except we flew from Fes to Marrakesh
How did we pick Morocco?  Well, I wanted to visit a country we'd never been to, and we wanted to do some hiking.  E had never been to Africa, and we knew we wanted to start in France, which made Morocco an easier option than due to its history as a French protectorate and popularity with French-speaking tourists.  Once we decided to go, E's dad decided to come along as well, which made for a fun family trip.

Day 1 hiking, Chefchauoen in the background
Unfortunately, on the first day of hiking, despite having a local guide, I got bit by a dog.  We were on public hiking trails, but the dog's owner had a marijuana farm near the trail and the dog was a bit too territorial.  There were two dogs, actually, a black one that came running at our group towards the guide in the front of our single file line, and a yellow one that came at the back of our line (me).  The dog was loudly and angrily barking and I was oddly calm in the certainty that I was going to get bit.  I chose to keep my back to it, and sure enough, it did quickly nip at my heel, slicing through my wool socks and leggings and then it ran away.  It was a quick sharp slice, and it didn't actually hurt that much.  I was surprised when I pulled my sock down and saw how deep it actually was.  Later, I felt very grateful when I saw the other scrapes on the outside of my calf from the teeth that didn't puncture. Any deeper in the lower part and it would have injured my achilles.  Any deeper up above and it could have seriously injured my calf muscles.  I was very lucky and extremely thankful.



Within 30 seconds of me explaining that I'd been bitten, our guide rinsed it with saline, applied betadine, and wrapped it with gauze.  He then called a jeep to come get us and we went to the hospital, where they cleaned the wound, gave me a tetanus shot in my stomach, prescribed antibiotics, and sent me to the municipality for 2 doses of the rabies vaccine and a card instructing me to get another dose in 7 days and another dose 14 days after that.

I'd already been taking it relatively easy, athletically, on this trip, in the hopes of calming down my pesky left hamstring/glute, but now it appeared that I'd be taking it *very* easy.

2 days post injury
On day 7, I got myself in to see a travel doctor in London, and they informed me that Public Health England disagreed with the regimen that Morocco had prescribed.  They wanted Immunoglobulin injected into the bite site (actually the most painful part of this whole process) as well as vaccinations on day 7, day 10, and day 21.  So, E and I took the train all the way out to Colindale and back to pick up Immunoglobulin and vaccine doses, which we took back to the clinic for evening treatment.  (Side note -- if you ever need treatment for travel-related medical issues in London, Dr. Dawood and the team at the Fleet Street Clinic is for you.  The first travel-clinic I tried shrunk in horror at the idea of post-exposure rabies treatment and sent me to them. They were wonderful.)


Monday's London vacation activities were:
laundry, Dishoom
and several hours of medical stuff with lots of public transit

Day 10, instead of staying in the lovely English countryside, we spent about 2 hours going from the adorably named Castle Combe back to Fleet Street Clinic for another vaccination (the vaccines had to be kept refrigerated and administered by someone PHE trusted) and then another 2 hours or so heading back to Wiltshire, where we met up with our friends.

Castle Combe -- does it get any more quaint?
Once back in the US, I called my local travel clinic and learned that the US doesn't agree with either the UK or Morocco about the treatment regime.  So, tomorrow, I'm headed in for my last and final vaccine dose (day 17 instead of 21).

I did do a little bit of hiking and jogging in the last couple of weeks, and it didn't really hurt, but the wound is actually fairly deep and most of those activities seemed to open up the most recently healed areas. So, I'm going to hold off any "training" until it's fully closed up and healed over.  Wish me luck.

April 17, 2019

16 years

I just tried and failed to post my 2019 books read-to-date post.

The thing I'd historically done was cut and paste from an excel spreadsheet into a word document and from there into Blogger where I'd cleaned up the HTML by hand.  But, over the years, this process had been getting more and more complex and frustrating, and today, I hit a wall whereby I just wasn't willing to do the work to make it happen.  I deleted the post.

Also, Blogger has to be headed to a non-profit-generating death at some point soon, no?  Personally, I've gotten so much value from this free service that I cannot possibly complain that after 16 years it appears to be breaking down in terms of offering a service that makes sense for me.

So, realistically speaking, my choices are:
1. Set up an old-school host-it-on-my-own-domain site and migrate everything to it.
2. Just call it as a 16 year experiment well run.
3. Something else.

I'm relatively allergic to #3 where #3 is moving to some other third party service provider who is also likely to go the way of Facebook, Blogger, etc. 

I'm definitely open to feedback -- please do let me know if you've found an option that works for you.
In the meantime, I'm doing lots of rehab to try to fix my pesky left leg and keep my shoulders in shape to avoid dislocation, and not getting in enough cardio plus eating/cooking extra healthy in an effort to compensate for the lack of activity and prepare for the reality that we're about to travel for 2+ weeks and we always splurge like crazy on food when we travel.

April 9, 2019

Not Quite There

I'd hoped that the early 2019 fitness efforts would result in yet another decade 5K PR last weekend.  It was not to be.

I'd been averaging 18.18 miles per week for 2019 (including walking when I remembered to enter it), so certainly, I didn't have volume on my side.  But, I'd been having some success in my hard workouts, so I was still hopeful.

My last hard workout before the Run Rocklin was a treadmill workout in Cabo.  I hit decent paces and time intervals and left feeling confident, although my pesky left hamstring insertion was annoyingly triggered by it.  Then, I bruised my heel walking barefoot in the resort post workout, or so I thought (turns out, I actually stepped on a teensy-tiny piece of metal (think glitter sized) that embedded itself in my heel, and after a week of "bruising" that seemed to be getting worse, I finally inspected it and realized I needed to remove the intruding metal splinter that was causing inflammation with tweezers).

The week after we got home, before I realized what was going on with my heel, I aggressively dialed back my workouts to recover from the "bruise" but even so, I still felt like a decade PR was totally doable -- I was just extra-tapered.

And then, the day of the race came.  I was, as planned, tapered.  The highs were projected for the low 70s, but we saw 80F in the car on the temperature readout later in the day.  After more days of rain than Norcal is used to, no one was complaining about the first gorgeous true day of Spring.  But it was hotter than I expected and I'm not great in the heat, so secretly, I had some complaints.

Also, D (my Rocklin running buddy) is not a morning person, and E managed to forget to pack his shoes, so we showed up as a rag-tag group trying to find our way to bib pick-up and only succeeding after much confusion just as they started the 5K.  After the gun (and bib pinning) we ran from the bib building to the finish arch only to be informed that the start was actually the non-marked chip crossing "way over there" much closer to the bib pick up.  Good times.

Eventually, we crossed the start line as the last 3 runners and proceeded to weave our way through the walkers for most of mile 1.  This did not lend itself to race pace effort.

I hit mile 1 at 9:45 and knew this was going to be a good workout, but nothing spectacular.  My goal had been 9:20 miles and I easily let that go.  I trailed E & D, who were clearly faster and more fit than me, catching up to them each time they stopped to get water or walk uphill.  Eventually, around mile 2, E admitted that he was going to walk the remaining mile because he had a blister from running in his Simples.

I finished sub 32 on a course with lots of turns and a few hills.  I ran a race in my hometown and coupled it with a visit to my brother, sister & her husband and nieces and nephews as well as D and her extended family.  I was sore the next day in that pleasant "Oh, yeah.  I totally pushed myself" way.  It was a weekend well spent.

Also, while I didn't hit my time goal, thanks to E's failure to pack his running shoes, I have my first 5K where I beat E in the last decade or so, so that's something.

And now, while I'm still chasing my decade PRs and my 2019 running goals, I'm putting dedicated running goals on hold in lieu of some general fitness goals such as lots of yoga, healing up my hamstring, and good nutrition coupled with general purpose aerobic fitness (including biking and hiking in Morocco and the UK).  I'll dial back in to a more dedicated running/training goal in the Summer, but for now, I'm happy to just enjoy moving my body.

April 2, 2019

Scuba Taper, Cabo Edition

Last week was a very mellow down week, running wise.  E & I had booked a long weekend dive trip with some friends in Cabo for the end of the week, so I knew I'd be minimizing my workouts.

Possibly the most picturesque surface interval we've had to date.
(Los Arcos, Cabo San Lucas)

Monday, I did some active recovery, post ORF half, doing the dozen core/strength routine for runners followed by strap stretching/mobility and shoulder rehab.  All told, it was over 90 minutes of good work and I was proud of myself, as I definitely tend to skimp on this stuff more often than not, and a post-race day when I wasn't going to get in any good running really is a great time to fit it in.

First night's sunset didn't suck.
Tuesday, I'd hoped to run, but my legs were still trashed from the half, so I did 3 easy miles of biking to and from a pre-trip pedicure, where the pedicurist commented on how tight my calf muscles were.

We did make the error of coming during 
college spring break.  Thankfully
early boat times and early bed
times protected us from most
of the chaos.  The room next
to us had college-aged boys
but they tended to get loud and
leave to party right around when
we went to sleep, so it
all worked out.
Wednesday, I'd hoped to wake early and get in a short run before we left, but, due to working late, it didn't happen, so I just spent the day traveling, with the associated airport walking, as well as walking to dinner on the property next door to our resort.

The Cabo San Lucas marina is very picturesque.
Also, several yachts with helicopters...

Thursday was a dive day on the Corridor (Gavilanes & Cabeza Gallena) with an early boat time.  When we were thirty minutes into the boat ride, almost at the dive site, someone pointed at 2 late-season humpback wales breaching and diving.  Our captain stopped the boat and we just enjoyed the view as they migrated, at one point, less than 100 feet off the boat.  I must say, this was a very unexpected benefit of this dive trip and totally awe-inspiring.  They are huge!  The amount of surface area of the ocean that they modify when they breach is insane -- they leave a clear area of smooth water from the surface tension changes of their movements that persists for several minutes as a contrast to the mini-perturbations in the undisturbed sea.

Pancho the sea lion has learned how to hop aboard inboard fishing boats and beg for/steal fish.
It was adorable to see, but like many taming of wildlife situations, also a little depressing...
Sadly, I'd stowed my phone for the transit to avoid water risk, so I was unable to get it out in time to take pictures when the whales were spotted.  That night, we walked the 1.5 miles home from the marina, and again walked to a nearby property for dinner.

We fit in a proper Mexican Arrachera spot *and* an Argentinian Parilla
(Spoiler, I'm still behind my red meat goals for the year...)
Friday was another dive day (North Wall to Pelican Rock (and back) & South Wall to Pelican Rock (and back)), requiring a walk to the marina early in the day.  It was a gorgeous day of diving, including seeing my first sea horse!  Friday night, we walked at least 3 miles in town after dinner and back home.

We tried to dive off Land's End, but the conditions were too rough,
so we just enjoyed the views and headed back to the wall.
Saturday was a decompression day, which was wonderful.  We slept in, and then I headed to the gym for a full set of drills, lunges, whatnot, followed by a treadmill workout at 1% incline of 2X5 min 7 seconds/mile faster than target 5K pace; followed by 3X3 min at the same pace, all with walking recovery for a total distance of 3.25 miles.

Post-workout relaxation with gorgeous views, 
a book, and delivered drinks and food!
Sunday, I'd hoped to go for a run outdoors (the gym was closed on Sundays), but Saturday's poolside relaxation had resulted in enough of a sunburn that I decided it was smarter to skip the run.

Monterey Bay welcoming us home.
(Side note -- we discussed diving here, and E & I agreed that at this point, we're just too wimpy to brave the cold.)

All told, I put in very little running last week, for a total of 15ish miles total on my feet, with only one true workout.  Unfortunately, I managed to bruise my heel walking around the resort barefoot on Saturday, so yesterday's run was cut short, and today I opted out of yoga when it became clear that balancing on that foot without a shoe was going to make it worse.  I'd originally hoped to get in a couple of easier workouts this week to sharpen up for Sunday's race, but some or all of those are now off the schedule.  Hopefully, 2 weeks isn't enough time to lose fitness, and I'll just benefit from the aggressive taper while my heel heals up before Sunday.

March 25, 2019

My Oakland Running Festival Ridonculousness

Last week I had a good tempo run that convinced me I should be able to shoot for a 2:20ish half marathon.

This morning, despite generally not being an appreciator of gratitude memes, Neely Spence Gracey, posted one on twitter that really resonated with how I was feeling about yesterday's Oakland Marathon.


Oh, right.  Instead of looking at it as a thing to be laughed at (which isn't a terrible perspective), I can also view it with gratitude, which is a much better perspective.

My goals had been:

A goal: 2:20 or better (10:40/mile)
B goal: sub 11 min/mile
C goal: improve against my last half marathon (sub 11:55/mile)
D goal: finish healthy

I pretty much decided to let the A goal go before the start.  I met up with Jen, and she'd said she was going to try to run 11/mile, so I decided that pace with the potential of having a friend to chat with was a much better goal than 10:40 with the pace group.  Unfortunately, I had to stop in the first mile to take off my long sleeve shirt (that I should have taken off before the start) and I fell behind Jen, never making up the loss and only continuing to fall further behind.

Early on, it was clear that this race was something new for me. I wasn't breathing very hard at all during most of the race except a few uphills, but my legs were just too dead to go any faster, most specifically, my hip flexors felt like they were at the end of a marathon instead of the beginning of a half marathon.

Free photos -- at the Crucible
I ended up walking through the aid stations, and just keeping whatever pace I could manage, which by mile 8 was 12:04/mile.  I got through miles 9 and 10 with a few walk breaks, letting my average pace decrease to 12:20/mile, assuming that I'd be able to pick it up at the end.

And, then, a guy in an orange shirt who had been in front of me stutter stepped off the course, between two parked cars and onto the sidewalk.  His hands went to his knees and then he kind of leaned against an electric pole.  As I ran by, I asked, "Are you okay?" expecting him to look up and waive me on.

Instead, he moaned, "Nooo.." and then coughed and gagged.  I asked if he wanted medical attention and he said yes.  So, I ran as fast as I could (turns out, according to my garmin I could run at a 6:45 pace when I think I'm unable to muster up anything better than a 12 minute mile) for 200 meters or so, and asked the course volunteer to call the paramedics.  People behind me came up waiving at the volunteer, yelling that there was a sick puking dude, all asking her to call, and it was chaotic for a minute or so while we assured them that she was on it.

The starting chute is very narrow, so the 11 minute/mile 
folks didn't cross the line 'til 2+ minutes after the gun
A nurse came up and told me I should go back to my "friend" and stay with him and make sure he sat upright instead of standing or laying down until the paramedics came.  I explained that I didn't know him, and the nurse looked pained as if he didn't want to go back, but someone really should, so I just said something along the lines of, "it's fine, I'm having a terrible race anyways, I'll go sit with him."  So, that's what I did.  And I guess it was a good idea because someone tried to be helpful and give the heaving, retching dude (dude thought it was probably dehydration) a Cliff shot with no water, and he kind of groggily took it and looked at it like he was pondering the existence of the Universe, but that he just might take it.  So, I thanked them but explained that it was probably a choking hazard and also may not sit well given the nausea -- as some people can't keep those things down without any medical issues. Dude just let it fall from his hand.  Eventually, the paramedics came and dude was more coherent, so I left, run-walking a bit until my Garmin beeped to let me know it was going into power-save mode because I'd accidentally stopped it when I thought I'd restarted it as I got back on the course. (In hindsight, this race stop was all about paying it forward from my Market Street Angel.)

My hips had really tightened up due to the stop.  The sun was out.  And I was supremely unmotivated.  But the course is pretty remote, so there was nothing I could really do except finish.  I ran-walked my way through the last 2.9 miles at an average pace of 14:14 and gave myself silly goals to pass the time, like, "See that run-walker up ahead, let's pass them."  And, "Run to that power-up sign, tap it, and keep running until you are far enough away that you don't feel bad walking."  Eventually, I started to feel much better and my running in the last 2 miles was back under 12 minutes/mile, which meant I was passing people consistently.  The final 2 goals I set for myself were pretty funny:

First, there was a landshark who'd passed while I was helping the dude.  He was ahead of me but quite visible and he was walking more and more as time passed.  It was probably 70F+ at this point, and I was hot in my tank top and shorts. I assume he was very, very hot.  I decided I would run to him, get a selfie, and then run until the finish.

Thanks, Landshark!

Then, there were the East Bay Beer Runners handing out shots of beer.  "I've never had beer during a run," I thought.  So I stopped for that, too, telling myself that unless the beer made me loopy I had to run the rest of the way to the finish.  Surprisingly, the beer wasn't gross at all.  It was kind of refreshing, actually (although not as refreshing as the on-course Gatorade Endurance Lemon Lime).  And then, I just ran to the finish and laughed at the 2:55 on the clock.  Final result: 2:52:53 chip time (13:11/mile).  My garmin has a total time of 2:46:15, but that includes some of the time helping the dude, and doesn't include some of the time on the actual course, so who knows what my actual average running/on-course pace was.  

And now, thanks to Neely, here's my gratitude take instead of my disappointed take.  First, I love this race -- it has such a great vibe.  I love the city of Oakland and I love the chance to visit and see how it's changed every year.  I love that doing this race gives me an opportunity to eat delicious noodles with my college roommate the night before the race.

Marufuku Ramen -- so delicious!
I have a new PR -- 2:52 is now my on-course-medical-assistance-landshark-beer PR.

And *of course* I got to catch up with Jen and enjoy post-race brunch with a friend, which is always one of my favorite things in the world.

PC: Jen
I was *super* sore and exhausted after this race.  I pretty much slept on the drive back and didn't move off the couch once home until bedtime.  In hindsight, it was probably a blessing that I let my time goals go, because I don't think I was supposed to run fast (for me) yesterday.  Perhaps running a race pace (and the last 2 miles faster 10K) 7 days out from a half marathon, *and* running a 9:05/mile 12-minute cooper test in the wind 4 days out was not the right way to prepare my legs for this half marathon.  My legs were sore for 2 days from the cooper test, and I don't think you are supposed to feel like that 3 and 2 days before a half marathon.

With all of that, I'm going to reframe and just call this a reasonable super-easy long run in my pursuit of a 5K decade PR.  I never really struggled cardiovascularly, which was quite pleasant, and tells me that I'm much more cardiovascularly fit than at other times in the past when I've had to push it to keep my pace below 12 minutes/mile at the end of a half.

My target race is now the Run Rocklin 5K on April 7, where I'm very hopeful I can better my decade PR.  My big goal is sub 29.  Wish me luck.

March 17, 2019

San Jose Shamrock Run, Lead-up and 1st Year Race Report

I was looking forward to a nice mellow week.  We were home and had no plans.

Woke in time for the sunrise on race day.
While work was fairly busy in terms of leftover obligations from Montana, I knew from the past that it would be a good catch-up week because, like Burning Man, a non-trivial subset of my clients attend SXSW and while they are there, they aren't focused on work that needs my attention.  Also, two of my busiest clients hinted that they would be taking the week to enjoy the snow and go skiing with their families, so I knew they wouldn't be scheduling calls or pushing me too hard.

Ground turkey, ancini di pepe, garden greens, straciatella style soup -- 
race tested and approved, like Asian noodle soup, this is a good pre-race meal.

I took advantage of the flexibility and managed my first 30+ mileage week of the year (30.65).  Notable workouts included:

1. A 3 miler with just my phone's stopwatch (Garmin was dead), averaging 10:55/mile -- close enough to what I wanted to run in today's 10K "race" that I was pleased.

2. A long run with just my phone's stopwatch (Garmin may be needing a replacement...) for 9.87 miles at 12:15/mile.  The goal had been 12 miles, but at the 2 hour mark, unfueled and starting to battle nausea, I called it and opted to walk to the nearest restaurant for food.

3. A day before the race mini-track-workout of 3.07 miles total, with a half mile jog to the track for some short quality work of 1 mile at 5K pace; 4X 200 RI/200 targeting sub 8 min/mile.  I have to say, this workout surprised me -- I felt great.  I was trying to thread the needle between getting in some quality and not destroying my legs before the race, and I think I did a good job of it.  Have I mentioned I love having a track a 1/2 mile from the house?

4. And, of course, there was my first running of, and the organizer's first hosting of, today's 10K race.

The planned for course was a 10K consisting of 5K on the roads of San Jose plus a nice out and back along the Guadalupe River Trail.  While California is celebrating that it is completely out of drought for the first time in 7 years, the trail we were supposed to run on is currently flooded. I have to hand it to Represent Running -- they took it in stride, and made last minute changes to keep the race going, including large on-course routing signs directing us through a modified course (essentially twice the urban 5K) to avoid the flood.

There were a *few* turns...
There's a 2:20 pace group at the Oakland Running Festival, so, I've been flirting with trying to hang with them as my A goal.  With that in mind, my goal for today's "race" was to run a good race-effort tempo to confirm that I wasn't insane with this plan.  I decided to keep all my miles sub 10:40, and ratchet down the pace towards the end, if possible.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with how I executed:

Did I really run this 1-wk out pre-race tempo 10K run faster than the raced Kaiser 10K a month ago?
Probably not... (The course was *probably* short. My Garmin thought so, too.)
The finish of this race had two annoying things.  First?  A false finish.  When you turn the last corner and you see the arch?  That is not your finish.  If you are me and you push towards it as if you are done, you will be disappointed.  Instead, you need to keep running until you see this:

Pre-race photo of the *actual* finish

Second?  I'm almost certain the course was short.  My Garmin had it at 5.94 miles, which, even accounting for GPS errors in the tall building corridors and overpasses is still quite short (4.2%). Given all of the turns on the course, I'd actually expect to register a *long* course as I definitely couldn't run the tangents on the first loop with all of the people of varying paces around me.  Also, I just don't think I made the effort necessary to run a 1:01:37 10K today.


Start and finish by the picturesque San Pedro Square

But, honestly, those are my only two complaints. It was a well-run race.  The second issue is probably entirely due to the last minute re-routing and they did a good job making the most of the mess they had.  Given the flooding and the obligation to re-route within the previously permitted closed roads, a slight deviation is completely understandable.

Of the many pluses, the weather was a perfect (for me) cool start in the high 40s and the finish was comfortable, but never felt warm, even in the direct sun in the last mile.

The Schwag comes in *all* the greens!
The shirt was thin and high-quality (although the colors were somewhat questionable due to the St. Patrick's theme).  The post race food/drink seemed good (water, goldfish, gummy bears, kind bars) plus there's a Guiness coupon, but I didn't use it, so I'm not sure what kind of drink it was for.


A free race photo -- never the most flattering, but proof that it happened.
They even had free photos.  Of course, free photos are usually taken from the ground (not expensive overhangs), which is not exactly the most flattering angle.  But, they are free, and well-focused, so that's a bonus.
Same weekend, same chin, very different angle.
Overall, I was very happy with my race today, not the least because I met up with Angela before and after, and while we failed to get a photo, we did catch up over delicious post-race huevos rancheros.  Any time I get post-race brunch and catch-up with a friend, it just feels like a perfectly accomplished day.

March 11, 2019

Progress at home, and in Montana

Lone Mountain Peak, Big Sky Montana
Two weeks ago, I put in a nice running buildup week for the Oakland Running Festival half marathon.  Only 21.52 miles total on my feet, but it included a hilly hike with a friend, some decent shorter faster intervals (always good to see 7 in the minutes place on my pace), and, finally, a 9.4 mile long run.  Also, I dragged myself back to the yoga studio, putting me on track for a yoga session at the studio an average of every 2.5 weeks so far this year.

I have enjoyed returning to a more regular yoga practice, so in addition to my 2019 running and protein source goals, I think I'll add a goal of 20 yoga studio sessions to the list (4 down, 16 to go).

After the week of positive running momentum, I hopped on a plane and headed to Montana for our annual ski week with E's family.

It was the *COLDEST* ski trip I've ever taken.
Highs in the single digits.
Most of the ski towns where we stay don't have good gyms and running in the snow is not usually an option.  So, instead of running, I try to fit in whatever workouts other than skiing make sense and take it as a down week.

I grew up skiing from age 4 - 13.  My gymnastics coach demanded that I stop when I was 13 because if I was going to get injured from something, he wanted it to be gymnastics (I'm sort of joking, but not really).  It wasn't too hard to comply since I didn't really have much time to ski between school, coaching, practice, and competitions.

After I quit gymnastics, I tried snowboarding in college and quickly reverted to being a skier, as it was clear I'd have to spend a few painful seasons boarding before I became even remotely close to as good of a boarder as I was a skier.  I did a few college ski trips (including one memorable one where I was the *only* person in a car full of boarding bros who knew how to put on snow chains) and then I stopped skiing once the college ski club was not part of my life.

Yellowstone National Park in the Winter is very beautiful

Fast forward several years, and I'm dating E.  It turns out, E's family does a week long ski trip every year and they invite me along.  Ever since then, with very few exceptions, I've returned to being a skier, if only for one week, once a year.  It's been a great source of fun and joy in my life.  But, I've definitely got a healthy respect for the dangers of the sport and I'm much less aggressive than I was when I was 13 (when I was the best I'll ever have been).

Last year, in Telluride, I didn't get in much running due to having just dislocated my shoulder the weekend before we went.  I also didn't ski (due to the shoulder as well).  So, it was a very low-key week on the workout side of things.  
42 minutes of speedwork/recovery on a treadmill at 7,500 ft 
results in *much* less distance than at sea level
This year, I was on the fence about whether I would ski or not.  My fear was that if I were to fall, it was likely I'd dislocate again and potentially injure the structure of my shoulder.  In its current incarnation, I do not need surgery.  If the frequency of dislocation increases, I will.

The medical recommendations I've gotten are to push out surgery as long as I can (with shoulder strengthening work and avoiding activities that cause problems) in hopes that I can have one more reconstruction and not have to go down the multiple surgeries route.

I'd also forgotten that I didn't really have the freedom not to work the whole week, so between my injury fears and professional obligations, I settled on a tentative plan of 1 full day of skiing, 1 day in Yellowstone, and the rest of the days working and fitting in whatever I could.
Petrified trees soaked up the minerals from the geothermal features.
Hard to date, but probably at least 1,000 years old.
Big Sky, Montana is beautiful!  But, boy was it cold.  According to the lifties, Bozeman set records for the coldest temperatures in March since 1955 while we were there.

I had such a good time skiing on Tuesday (remembering that I'm actually a pretty decent skier, and as long as I ski conservatively, I'm unlikely to fall) that I moved my work obligations around and rented gear for a second day on Friday.  Unfortunately, the weather wasn't great, so I settled for a half day and didn't go back out after lunch.

All told, I managed 2 treadmill workouts, 2 days of skiing, one shoulder strength session, 1 core/strap stretching session (to keep the peace with my traitorous left leg) and a short run at target half marathon pace on Sunday after we returned.  The week at elevation probably did some good for my fitness as well.  As expected, time with family from the South and in Montana means I had 6 servings of red meat in 8 days instead of the annual average target of less than 2 per week.  There will be lots of running and vegetarian/fish meals in the last 2 weeks before the Oakland Half Marathon.

February 25, 2019

Missed It

My calendar had me racing a 10K this weekend.  Jen was pacing a half marathon at a local race, so I figured I'd register for the associated 10K on Saturday and run the race on Sunday.

I woke at 6:50 am on Saturday and decided to get up rather than go back to sleep to prime myself for the Sunday race time.  So, I enjoyed my coffee and mucked around the Internet, including splurging on a huge order from Rancho Gordo.

At 8:20 or so I checked my phone and saw a text from Jen, asking if she'd see me at the race.  Oh... the race was SATURDAY.  So, that wasn't happening.  I was bummed to miss Jen, but I headed out for a short track workout instead.  Then we went to brunch with some friends.

Risotto with mirepoix, made with artichoke & mushroom broth

I spent the rest of the weekend being lazy.  E did tons of work related to our car situation, but I was a complete sloth other than an easy 3 miler on Sunday. And it was awesome.


Chicken sausage minestrone with alphabet pasta!
For the week, I put in several decent workouts and we ate plenty of delicious vegetarian meals.

Poached egg over cheesy millett with cabbage salad.
Mileage for the week was 25+ despite a fairly heavy workload, so even though I missed the race, I'm pleased.

February 19, 2019

Austin 5K, Revisited

In what is becoming an annual tradition, we headed to Austin to visit friends and run the 5K.  On Saturday, we picked up our packets at the same time as the Manzano Mile.

No filter sunset arrival at AUS
What a cool event.  I sincerely enjoyed watching the elites race the mile.  They stage the non-elite milers by age group before the main event of the speedsters, and I think I may try to run it next year.  Improving my mile time is one of my fitness goalsand having a goal race to perform at to see how those efforts have paid off could be fun.

Look at all those fit ladies -- it was fun to watch them take off fast, 
run by on their way back on the outside of the finish,
and return to close the loop to finish the mile
Sunday AM, we woke up in time, and enjoyed the gorgeous sunrise on the drive to the start.  From there, it was a very pleasant 20 minutes to take advantage of the blocked off streets, empty port-a-potties and time between the close of the half/full marathon start line (their start is open from 7 - 7:15), and the 5K start (7:30).

Sunrise in Austin on race day -- gorgeous
Unfortunately, we lined up too far back in the 5K crowd and I spent the first minute or two weaving and jogging in place behind some slower folks -- this was doubly frustrating because this portion of the course is downhill.  Eventually, after much effort, I found some space to run without obstacles and hit mile 1 at 9:59.  Given the congestion and that the first mile contains 75 ft of climb, I couldn't complain.

Texas is Texas and Beef loving is everywhere!
Mile 2 is 2/3 climb (another 75 ft) to the turn around, when, thankfully, you start to drop the altitude you've gained with 20ish ft of lost elevation before the mile marker.  The constant climb in miles 1 and 2 had started to take a toll on my speed, and even with the downhill at the end, I finished mile 2 @ 10:31.

I was glad to see the long downhill in front of me, because I was going to need to push to beat my performance from last year (31:46).  I tried to take advantage of 127 ft drop in this mile, hitting the 3 mile marker and lowest point of the race @ 9:49.  And then, because this course is brutal, I pumped my arms and tried to go as fast as I could, struggling against the 43 feet climb in the last 0.1 mile from the river to the finish line.

The finish photo game was a bit off - this photographer was 
ANGRY!  Yelling at all the finishers to keep moving...
Understood that he had photos to take, but um... 
people just finished a race
if they want to slow down that's kind of okay...

I crossed the line with a time of 31:29 (10:06/mile pace).  A 17 second improvement over last year, and definite confirmation that this course is difficult (only 2 seconds per mile faster than the 10K two weeks ago?  Oh, right, because it had 2.5 times the elevation gain in half the distance and was net neutral instead of net downhill).

Forever Sunset on our trip home.
Overall, I really like this race.  Not a PR course, but it's got a good vibe, and it's a great excuse to combine racing with visiting friends.  Plus,a 5K with the hills really makes it a harder effort than most of the stuff I run these days, so that feels good.