October 30, 2011

CIM week -5

The hardest thing about trying to train on a semi-serious training schedule for a marathon?


I'm hungry. All the time. I'm dropping about 0.5 lbs per week, which is by design. But occasionally, my body revolts against this plan. Yesterday, when we unexpectedly ran into a friend and his younger almost-brother-in-law for brunch after my super-easy recovery run, I was excited to realize I could order an entire extra pizza after everyone was done. Of course the college kid would agree to help me eat it. Sweet college kids. Love their metabolism. Such a metaphor for just how alive they are at that point in their lives.

Not me, though. I'm tired. I just need more sleep. And more breaks. Wah. Wah.

Why? Because I'm overworked, which is good, financially. But I have no one to blame except my boss and it's severe enough these days that it keeps me up with frantic racing thoughts, so it's bad, with respect to insomnia, and how heavy I feel I sit on the good wife/friend/sister/daughter scale.

We're in the middle of some crazy stuff at our house with respect to E's business, our investments, our long term planning (termites? remodel? travel? move?), and you know, just general life stuff.

What was I saying?

Oh, yes. Life. Ain't it grand? Aren't we lucky to have it?

I'm loving my reading challenge and the randomness it's brought to my life. I'm loving my attempt at the most difficult running training schedule I've ever done, even if it does inspire occasional thoughts regarding my own (and my running buddy's) insanity.

Yeah, I cut a few of the shorter runs this week a little short (but adding walking where I could), and, today?

Well, today, I had to be honest. 13 out and back up a mountain with 2275 of elevation change is almost the same as 16 flat. Too bad we didn't schedule it flat since we had 16 on the training calendar.

Overall, my running buddy and I may have called it short (I felt naseous), but we were honest and while running kept the long run at a decent pace (thanks Powerbar Energy Blasts) despite the climbs and descents (which were worse than the Kirkland half, and it's supposed to be a training for next weekend's half...).

So, let's see -- A simple summary.

Isomnia? Annoying. At least last night was just simple insomnia. No anxiety. Just straight up awake at 3 AM. What you gonna do? Nothing but breathe and try to relax. Bad.

Fitness? Clearly Improving. Good.

Long run? Shorter than planned, but impressive elevation performance and credit for not pushing it when no benefits from the training were available. Neutral.

Weekly Mileage: 51.84. Largest weekly volume in my running life. Good.

Reading? Random and more than normal. Good.

Halloween? E's and my 11th dating anniversary. Excellent.

Social and Family life? We've got time scheduled with many folks we care about in the next several weeks/months. It feels good.

Work? Crazy for both of us. But we're career-focused folks in our early to mid 30s. If it wasn't crazy, we'd probably be doing something wrong.

So, overall, not bad at all.

October 29, 2011


People who know me well know that I am a huge fan of Angelina Jolie. I think she's intelligent, beautiful, human, and a *very* powerful woman.

I am always shocked at how much hatred people who have never met her feel towards her. Particularly since I feel a natural affinity and inclination to like her. Recently a friend responded to my surprise at the loathe that many feel towards her with a simple statement, "But isn't that how it always is with powerful women who make it fairly clear that they don't care what people think about them?" A very interesting perspective.

Because of my short book kick, I purchased her book Notes from My Travels (all proceeds go to the UNHCR).

I haven't read a book this difficult to read in a very long time.

The lives of refugees in Africa, Cambodia, Pakistan and Ecuador are unbelievably difficult and painful. War, death, disease, hunger, heat, cold, insects, land mines, lost loved ones, and still smiles and laughter between the tears.

This book describes her missions with the UNHCR to visit with and learn more about refugees. At 25, she took her first mission and put herself directly in a danger zone where aid workers often die. She writes honestly about how difficult it was to see the plight of the refugees, how she couldn't help but feel that she has wasted many of the first world gifts and opportunities she's been given, and how she really knows so little of what truly matters in the world.

I am inspired by Angelina's efforts to make us more aware of the plight of the 20 million refugees in the world. And, I am sad that I was definitely less aware of the reality than I should have been, despite how ugly it is.

Refugees will definitely be on my list of charitable causes going forward.

October 24, 2011

Sonoma Gluttony and Week -6

I was 1 lb away from high race weight before we left for Sonoma. (woot!)

And yet, just a simple trip to Sonoma later, here I am, 2.8 lbs back from the goal... (le sigh)

It was worth it.

You see that picture? That's what happens when you are lucky enough to be born in the right place and the right time to have the former sous-chef of a Michelin star restaurant (who was there when they were awarded the star) as a childhood friend (best friend's little brother and very good friend of my little brother).

Okay, so you have to be lucky enough to have all of these things happen, and then you have to come visit the hotel attached to his restaurant, and he has to arrange for an "employee-favor" rate/room, and, the next thing you know, the head of front desk guest operations is leaving a hand-written card next to this ridiculous cheese-board.

Just in case you weren't in enough awe, when you show up for dinner with the former sous-chef, at said restaurant, you will be privy to the best treatment and service at a meal you've ever your life. And the discount on the bill will make you cringe because, honestly, you've never left a tip that was 200% of the bill. But, in this case, anything less should be insulting.

Basically, our trip to Sonoma was perfect. Slept in the car while E drove (yay!). Lots of reading (double yay!). No computer or work for at least 30 hours. That's a record for the last 4-5 months. I'm going to try to break it soon. I do love arbitrary goals.

And, in running news, I hit 47.53 miles for the week. Approximately 15 miles more than I did this week last cycle. It includes 5.6 unscheduled extra miles of walking. I dialed a couple of the workouts back, but I actually added unexpected walks in SF, Infineon raceway (hills!), and after the short-cut tempo run such that my overall mileage was higher than expected.

Overall, I'm amused to be high on mileage despite my inability to do 9 miles at race pace. I did 7. Painful Miles. On a treadmill. While trying to watch TV on 6 different channels at the gym. But everything was horrid. When I called it a day, I guiltily walked an extra mile to cool down. It was a strong effort, but nothing close to what was on the schedule.

I'm very interested to see how this all plays out. Part of me thinks this training schedule is insane for any adult with a truly demanding job or family (and gasp, what if you have both?). This part thinks that even my paltry efforts at sort of sticking to it are crazy.

The other part of me knows that while this schedule probably doesn't make sense, I've done more mileage per week than ever before in my life. I'm more fit than I've been in at least 3.5 years. I'm being reasonable about cutting myself slack on the recovery days and just trying to hit quality workouts in a reasonable fashion (even if I have to drop 2 miles from a tempo run).

Did I mention the post-Sonoma gluttony long run was cut from 10 to 6? Yeah. That happened. But it was a non-quality workout, and my hips hurt in the car, so it seemed like I made the right call.

I still hit 47+ for the week.

Wish me well for 51 miles on schedule for this week. I'm definitely in the thick of things, now.

October 19, 2011

Imposed Structure

So, back in January, suffering from a fit of motivation overload, I picked an actual number for my books goal this year: 30.

A few weeks ago I realized there were only 12 weeks left in the year and I still had 10 books to go.

I did what any goal-oriented lawyer would do -- I figured out how to technically comply with the rules in a way that made the most sense.

First, I went through my pile of books to be read soon and pulled the smaller books to the top. Just like that, all of the big books were pushed to 2012.

Then, I went on Amazon and ordered a bunch of smaller, shorter books that had been on my wish list for a while but I hadn't had the momentum to order.

Finally, I mentioned to Arvay I was looking for books and she promptly sent me a nice bite-sized gem that I'm looking forward to starting tonight.

I get a weird sense of accomplishment out of moving things around to reach arbitrary goals. In some sense, I know that reaching an arbitrary goal is, well, arbitrary.

And, I know that I don't have time to follow my normal patterns and just go through my books-to-be-read pile in order *and* meet my 30 books goal.

I even know that the movement is likely to be zero sum -- next year, I will likely read a lower number of books as a direct result of pushing the big books forward.

Even so, I'm getting a kick out of the idea that I'll be reading a few extra minutes each day and a bunch of stuff that I otherwise wouldn't have gotten to this year (if at all).

I think, often, that's the real value of goals. They help you change. Even if the change is quite small and may not matter at all in the long term. It's very good to remind ourselves that not only are we free to do things differently, we can and will.

October 16, 2011

CIM, week -7

44.11 miles.

As hoped, I finally did the full 10X800 Yassos. Holy crap that was one of the hardest workouts I've ever done. I'd hoped for 3:45s, but I averaged 3:51s. Supposedly, this is a good high-end estimate of the fastest marathon I could run right now. I'd be *thrilled* with a 3:51. I'm not sure I'm ready to try to hit that, but I'm pleased with the idea that it's an option.

Of course, despite my 44, the training schedule called for 51.

Yesterday I *had* to finish our taxes as it was the last day to send them in after filing for an extension. Unfortunately, due to ridiculousness with E's company's 1065 that I discovered last weekend, what should have been a simple fill-in-one-remaining-blank on our 1040 exercise took me from 8 AM to 12 PM.

Next year, we are committed to hiring a CPA. I sacrificed at least 4 weekend days to our taxes for 2010. Historically, I've hesitated spending the money to have someone else do our taxes. It isn't rocket science, it's just arcane and takes a ton of time. Generally, I hate to pay people to do things I know I can do -- especially if it's a good thing for me to have a very solid understanding of what's being done.

But, given that I haven't had a weekend where I didn't have to work for my business or E's business in at least 4 months, at this point, E and I agreed, we need to actively offload the least profitable weekend work I've been doing because it gets in the way of things I want to do.

Back to the run -- come noon yesterday, no way could I head out in the heat and do 8 miles without food. I could snack and head out, but then I'd miss my only opportunity for weekend brunch with E (which is one of my favorite events of the week). So, while I enjoyed Hwe Dup Bob and E noshed Sushi, I struggled to find a way to fit my 8 miles in the afternoon, after digesting, but before an early dinner with friends.

Finally, I admitted that I had enough work, gardening, running, and social obligations for the day that something was going to have to take the hit. Winner? The run. Plus, I wanted to join E for some delicious sake with lunch. I did. It was lovely. And gardening in the sun post-sake felt great.

That's the main lesson I've learned this training cycle. Between traveling, work, social obligations, family, and general life, my running often takes a hit. I've modified at least one run per week for the last 7 weeks, and I've flat out skipped 6 workouts in the last 7 weeks. Several of them I've replaced with walking miles, which is better than nothing, but in terms of strictly following a training plan, I suck.

This lack of discipline in running is not new for me. I wrote about it back in 2008, a few weeks before I set my still-standing PR for a 10K and a few months before setting my annual mileage record of 1391.38 miles in one year.

This year, despite blowing off and rescheduling workouts on a weekly basis, I'm still on track to kill the annual mileage record. I'm currently at 1304, so as long as I stay healthy and actually complete CIM, this year will be a new high-water mark. I'm hoping that the increased mileage and pseudo-committed training will bear some PR fruit as well, but only time will tell.

Finally, after the rest day, today's 16 was great. I got a late 10 AM start (2 cups of coffee and an old-fashioned powerbar pre-race), but headed up the foothills to a local junior college, and made myself do a mile on the track at goal race pace, before running down the hills home.

With 3 miles to go, my Amphipod was empty. So I ducked into the CVS to fill it with cold Gatorade.

I'm not going to lie, I really wanted to stay in front of the fridge (yeah, I steamed up the door, just standing there). But, the looks I was getting from the other patrons made me realize I was very stinky. Ooops. It was hot today (83F when I got home). And I'm a sweaty, stinky runner after 13 miles in the sun.

The checker was not thrilled with the sopping wet $20 bill I pulled from my Amphipod pocket and he was very careful not to touch *anything* I handed to him, scanning the Gatorade bottle from as far away as possible with his light gun, and going so far as to grab the garbage can and bring it up to eye level so I could throw out my Powerbar Energy Blast trash.

Take home?

I'm hard-core enough to be disgustingly gross to the CVS staff and patrons, but not remotely hard-core enough to strictly follow the high-end of the Hanson Brooks Marathon Training Plan (for non-elites).

October 11, 2011

Good To See You!

My dad showed up in my dreams last night.

It was so nice to hang out with him and Nolan.

He was his smiling, happy self. He had on a dark blue polo shirt that looked great, and when I woke I smiled because I don't think he ever had that shirt in real life. My brain (or whatever else controls my dreams) essentially created a *new* memory of my dad for me in my sleep.

How cool is that?

October 9, 2011

CIM, Week -8

I'm about to go lie down and try to take a nap. This week, I skipped 2 workouts, and then, decided to try to make up for lost mileage by going hard on the weekend.

Overall, I think it worked out pretty well. But, predictably, I'm exhausted.

Yesterday, I did 9 miles in the San Jose foothills, including a total of at least 2,000 ft. of elevation gain and loss. It was slow, but a *very* difficult workout. It was all I could do to hold out 'til 8:30 PM before leaving a friend's birthday party (but showed up at 5 and helped cook, so that counts for something, right?).

Today, I woke refreshed from the full night's sleep, jogged to the start of a local 10K, and started with the super small crowd and managed to finish as the first female in something around 54 minutes (I took a wrong turn, so hard to be certain of what my actual finishing time should have been), and then jogged my way home. The day's total was a fun 10 miles, and the 10K portion was faster than my current guess at what makes sense for a target marathon pace (8:55?). Since it was the day after a major hill workout, I was quite happy -- this tells me I'm on the right track in terms of my goal pacing and fitness.

For comparison, I did a 10K in Bellevue last training cycle at week -6. It was (a) a minute slower, although much more hilly; (b) part of a week with almost the same mileage as this one; and (c) with 4 easy flat miles instead of 9 hard hill/trails miles the day before the race. I'm telling myself this means I'm much more fit this time around than last time. [And I'm hoping it's true :)]

Next week, I'm doing my best to do all scheduled workouts, including a full set of 10 Yasso 800s. So far, my best has been 8. But I've never given myself the full recovery interval (an equal amount of time walking/jogging to the time spent running), so I'm going to hope that with that modification, I can do all 10. Wish me luck.

[In other news, work is crazy busy, and E's business is even more crazy with fundraising and product madness. We're very happy to be home so we can attack the crazy from our comfort zone. Yes, we've got more nights and weekends booked with work-related stuff than we'd like, but at least we're home.]

October 4, 2011

Week -9

E and I went to New York this week.

Tuesday night, I had to bail on intervals with my running buddy. I had way too much work and still hadn't packed for our departure on Wednesday.

I would have loved to make up the miles on Wednesday (a scheduled rest day), but I had to work onsite at a client until E picked me up and we boarded. We didn't check-in to our hotel until 1 AM EDT. So, if I wanted to get on local time, there was no workout for me that day.

Thursday AM, I did 5.5 of strength intervals on the treadmill at an 8:20 pace. It was sort of a hybrid of the missed speed intervals (which would have been shorter, but at a 7:30 pace) and the tempo run I had scheduled (where I probably would have targeted 8:45 - 8:55).

Friday AM, my body revolted and demanded sleep. I thought I could fit in my workout later in the day, but alas, it was the last day of the quarter and additional work sprung up.

Saturday, I did a very slow 8 miles in Central Park. I enjoyed it immensely. Running in Central Park is such a stereotypical runner activity, and now I've joined the hordes of people and dogs who have done it.

Sunday, I woke early, picked up Nish and headed to the start of a half marathon in Long Island. I did a nice 1.3 mile warm-up at a 9:09 pace. Then we did the half in a very impressive 2:17 debut for Nish. Something tells me she's going to be much faster in her next attempt -- we sped up for each of the final miles until we were going at an 8:37 pace for the final 0.1 miles. After crossing the finish line, she offered to run the remaining 0.5 miles with me so I could hit my 15 total. Yeah, she definitely had some more gas in the tank.

Overall, I completely missed 2 workouts, Tuesday's speed and Friday's 6. My mileage for the week totaled 39.85, including the walking in New York. That's 11 miles short for the week's planned mileage, but still 13 more miles than the same week last time around.

I'm definitely looking forward to being home without major travel for the next 7 weeks. Even with the workouts I've dropped, I think I'm on track for a good showing at CIM, but I'm hopeful that if I get a little closer to my stated training goals, I'll be able to enjoy some additional fitness and speed increases before the race.

October 3, 2011


Today, I posted this to Facebook:

This AM, the welcome home household shopping survey found 1/4 roll of TP (shared between 2 bathrooms) and 1/8 pint of milk, poured in the coffee before I discovered it was spoiled. Thank goodness we have 7 weeks straight without any flights... Here's to home cooked meals from a full fridge, garden harvests, and no packed bags!

(Talk about giving up all semblances of anonymity!)

Our NY trip was wonderful. But it was jam-packed. Grandparents, legal work, friend visits, and a half marathon all in less than 5 days? Sure, why not?

But, if I am honest, the speed of things has been increasing for us. So, there may be a reason why the trip might not have made sense. E's business is even more crazy now than it was a month ago. My business just keeps getting busier.

Ostensibly, these are great things.

But, every once in a while, I think, "Huh. Should I be slowing down? Are there roses I should be smelling?"

Last night, after midnight, catching up on email and getting responses from clients after 1 AM was one of those times. Jet Lag was not in my favor. I'd been up since 3:00 AM PST, and there it was after 1 AM, still working.

I'm trying. I really am. The reason the homefront is so neglected (see the Facebook post above) is that I've fit in visits to my sister, nephew and brother-in-law, plus the New York trip -- both trips are focused first and foremost on family and friends. But, somehow, the commitment to friends and family ended up in the last 3 weeks of the quarter (you know, when my clients freak out and want all of my attention)...

Overall, I think I'm in a very introspective phase at the moment. I just finished my 20th book, Ringworld. And, I enjoyed it. But prior to that, I was on a clip of more than 2 books per month.

Starting in August, that books completed rate fell to something more like 1 or less books per month. This makes me sad. Reading for a living with nothing else to do actually sounds boring to me. I'd admire someone with a tiger who had the guts not to sell tiger stuff. I think I'd have trouble passing it up.

With that in mind, I'll simply say that this week's running took some hits from life. But at the end of the week, the half marathon with Nish was awesome, and, surprisingly unaffected by the prior day's 8 in central park or 6 the next day on our trail in MV.

Okay, back to the grind (work, and for balance, harvesting when the sun comes out, only 10 books to go 'til the year's total of 30, and running and trying to hit my weight loss goal before the marathon and holidays).