September 25, 2011


Fall had already arrived, but she went into hiding for my glorious 5 day visit to Spokane. Nothing but sunshine, trees, views of the river and valley, and wonderful outdoor runs and meals.

My sister and B are the most chill parents I know. The dearth of baby stuff was refreshing. The baby is a point on the triangle of their family, rather than the center of their orbit. They seem to believe that little A will be just fine with their attention, and he is. More than fine. He's perfect.

In the mall, when A spit up on himself as I held him, I told my sister, who was busy paying for parking. "Oh, just rub it into his clothes. That's why he wears them."

Right. Love the low stress parenting. It was so fun to hang out with their family.

In running, while alone, I made nothing but wrong turns. One day my run ended up with 400 ft down the back of the ridge (their dog pulled me back up). Another day, I mistakenly ran 400 ft down the front of the ridge (I had to pull the dog back up that time). And finally, on the day I made it onto the trails along the ridgeline, I was repeatedly stung by a wasp who took the unfortunate resting place between my sock and shoe. Ouch.

Despite the suboptimal training, I raced a scenic 10K with sis along the Spokane River, and the clock showed a PR of 49:05. Unfortunately, I knew from my effort level that the course had to be short. I'd forgotten my GPS watch, but I asked two of the women who beat us and they reported 5.85 and 5.84 miles. So, not quite PR pace, but a respectable showing of 8:23's nonetheless. A great training run. And super fun to do it with my sister.

This week is threatening chaos. Close of the quarter. A trip to New York. So, while I want nothing more than a lazy Sunday of nothing, I'm going to try to buckle down and do a ton of stuff today.

September 18, 2011

Rest Day

I've had too much, lately.

Too much work. Too much running. Too much to do to keep my life on track (garden chores, replacing the totaled car, thank yous, bills, taxes, managing investments, eating well). I've got two weeks of travel coming up, as well, and, while I'm looking forward to both trips, I know they are going to put even more on my plate.

In hindsight, I should have run the full 14 yesterday if my legs could take it, and then I should have planned to take today off. Instead, I raced the 4 and totaled 8 and over 1,000 feet of elevation climb and pushed the 14 to today, where I could do it flat.

But, Life had other plans for me.

I woke on time, nice and early, with 30 minutes to drink some coffee, eat some fuel, and get an audiobook onto my Sanza Mini-Cruzer to entertain me through the run. I had a fight with and lost. 30 minutes later, I did not have the audiobook I'd hoped to run to, but I'd paid for and committed to a recurring subscription of audiobooks that didn't work with my device. Couldn't even cancel, had to wait 'til Monday to speak with a human.

Then, I got an email from my visiting childhood friend, informing me she'd be early, so I wouldn't have time to do the last 30-60 minutes of my run. I should have cut my run short, but instead, I decided I'd bust through some of my todo list and try to do it in the evening.

While I did get quite a bit of work and life stuff done, I also needed to take an hour nap before she arrived. By the time she got here, it was in the 80s and climbing, and despite the nap, I was still tired. That evening run was looking less and less attractive.

At lunch, I admitted defeat. I was yawning, starving, and generally overwhelmed with how much I needed to get done before getting on a plane on Tuesday.

So, I took today off running entirely. This means I'm doing the cardinal sin of skipping the long run during marathon training. Frankly, once I decided to do it, I'm not the least bit concerned. Even without the long run, week -11 totaled out at 35.7 miles. This includes a brutal speed session, 8 miles in the hills (nay, Mountains) on Saturday, and almost all of the miles under a 10 minute pace. Week -11 for CDA was 21.84 miles. I'm over 107 miles ahead of where I was at this point for CDA.

A missed long run isn't going to kill me. In fact, given that I came home after lunch and took a second nap of almost 2 hours, I think my body just really needed to rest and recover from the demands I've been placing on it.

And, I only have two more contracts to finish before I can go into Monday without any backlogged work for the first time in at least 2 months. Yay!

September 17, 2011


After yesterday's realization that I'd like to actually complete my 50 mile week and be functional for next week's schedule, I decided the Mt. Diablo 4-miler was the best plan. 400 ft up, 400 ft down. I could do it as many times as made sense.

I ran the race hard. Harder than I expected, actually. I took it easy up, but I love me some downhills, and I really enjoy passing people. So, 11's on the way up and low 8's on the way down. I finished dripping with sweat and beat the female course record (although several women finished before me, so they also beat it before I got to the line).

I checked in with my mom, who'd driven with me (she got up at 5:30 AM with me to go, how sweet is that?) and had set up her water colors for a morning of painting in the mountain light. She was all set up with pigments and brushes and paper and wished me well. She also introduced me to the 71-year-old who took 1st in his age group that I *barely* passed to beat on the downhill (e.g. he kicked my ass on the uphill).

After some snacking, I headed out again for another 4, but halfway through the uphill realized I had intestinal issues. Fun. So that loop was only 1 out and back for a total of 2. After a pit stop and checking in on the progress of mom's paintings (she's doing 3 different tigers and it is super cool to watch them evolve as she paints the various layers), I headed out for the remaining 8, with a plan for two consecutive 4 mile out and backs.

At around 0.5 miles up the hill, I realized my hips were starting to get sore. I started to do some math and realized that if I completed my plan, even without the crazy elevation change, I'd be on my feet about an hour longer than if I'd done the 14 on flat ground. I thought about the last time I ran hills and how long it took me to recover. So, I decided to make it one more 2 mile out and back for a total of 8.

And, there, easy as pie, I'm all signed up for 14 tomorrow AM. Nice and flat. Around the bay. Sea level. Followed by dim sum with an old childhood friend who's driving through town.

In fact, I think she may be the friend I've known the longest. It's possible I may have known her longer than E2.

It's good to have memories of gymnastics with a friend you still speak to in the back of your 4th grade teacher's class room. Plus, she had her picture taken with Kerri Strug today (which is national gymnastics day). How cool is that?

September 16, 2011

What Have I Gotten Myself Into?

Tomorrow, I'm registered for the Mt. Diablo half marathon.

3,240 feet of elevation up and back down. I figured it would make a great strength run.

Now, I'm re-evaluating whether it might make sense to do the 10 Miler and the 4 Miler to eliminate 1,000 or so on both sides.

Either way, I'm going to be quite sore, methinks.

Off to go hit the foam roller and stretch before the self-inflicted ridiculousness.

September 11, 2011

Week -12

45.67 miles for this step-back week.

It actually felt like I was giving my body a break (of course, I did take Monday off and only walked the 6 make-up miles, so I didn't run as much as I was supposed to).

For CDA this mileage was the second highest volume week I ran. This cycle, I'm facing another 10 consecutive weeks with mileage over 46 before the taper week of 38ish.

It's interesting how quickly my perspective has changed. A 45 mile week used to be a big deal. I'd only done 3 in my life before starting this training program. And yet, here I am, more than comfortable after a 45 mile step-back week to recover from last week's 51.

Here's to hoping this program results in speed benefits in addition to the obvious endurance benefits.

September 10, 2011

Healthy Discoveries

So, the healthy streak of no alcohol and low-glycemic index ovo-lacto vegetarian food was going swimmingly. The original plan was 10 days straight commencing the day we returned from our travels.

But, on night 3, E2 & J asked if they could come spend the night on their way up north. We were super excited to hang out with them, and, truly, both E and I were more than happy to take a quick break from the streak for a little wine with friends. So, we all sat around the dinner table, sipping wine and eating garden gazpacho, sliced garden veggies dipped in homemade hummus, brown rice tomato risotto (with oyster mushrooms for E) and J added some chicken sausages to his meal as he could not quite go full veggie after doing physical labor all day.

In exchange for the night off, E and I agreed that we should tack 2 full days to the remainder of the streak. We'll do this for every day we don't completely meet the goal (e.g. yesterday, I did a veggie juice fast for lunch, and the dinner meal was entirely on target...except the wine, but we've decided that any slip = 2 more full days). The current count is 9 days left, but we have plans on that 9th day with friends at a winery. So right now, it looks like the best we could do is 2 on, 1 off, 7 on, 1 off, 3 on. It should be interesting to see how long it takes us to get through the full streak and how many days we do in total before returning to our more ordinary reasonably healthy (but not super healthy) lifestyle. I have high hopes...

This morning, E2 and I headed out for a wonderful 4 mile walk (the last 4 I had to make up from the 6 I missed on Monday AM after the wedding). We hit up Starbucks and I opted for my favorite pre-workout drink -- a skinny vanilla latte (although sometimes I go Hazelnut). 9g protein. 14g carbs. 125mg Sodium. 75mg Caffeine. 90 Calories. What's not to like? We alternated talking and ended with a long-overdue fully-caught-up hug. I've missed my weekend long runs with E2, but a walk is almost as good.

After an hour of walking, my Garmin needed charging, so I stretched a bit and ate a Harvest Energy Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Bar. Mmmm... this tastes like a treat and at 250Cal with 9g fat, I wouldn't ordinarily want to indulge. But, I knew I had 8 solo miles to run and it was getting warm, so I erred on the side of extra fuel and electrolytes (140mg Na; 200mg K) , especially since I didn't have any sports drinks available to take with me.

And, what do you know? Between the latte and the bar, I made it through a 4 mile walking warm-up and a fairly difficult out and back 8 miler that ended in 84F heat (1200 ft total ascent, 300 ft net climb out and drop back) with nothing but water. I kept the run under 10 minute miles, including the stops for water walking, so my average pace without the stops was somewhere in the 9:40 range. Given that it seemed difficult, but not terrible, even with the heat and hills, I was quite pleased. Even better, when I got home, I wasn't totally useless. I wasted some time at the computer, took a good shower and prepared lunch without any of the post-workout fall-out I often experience if I don't tend to my energy/fuel needs.

The biggest healthy-related discovery of the week, however, was how delicious the St. Pauli N.A. tasted with lunch after my workout. I've never been a big fan of beer after runs. Some people swear by it, but the smell of the alcohol nauseates me after a hard work-out. It usually takes me at least an hour post-workout before a beer (or any alcohol) even starts to sound good. But, now, I've found the solution. Non-alcoholic beer! What a brilliant idea.

I thought I was being quite clever with my discovery. However, a German brewery already thought of this and ran a scientific study around the Munich Marathon (scientific abstract here). They concluded that non-alcoholic beer is an excellent long distance recovery beverage -- it's got all the great carbs you need plus it's got additional goodies that boost the immune system and help control inflammation, both of which are negative side effects of long distance high volume training and racing.

The moral of the story? Sometimes it's actually *good* to miss your goals and adjust.

1. If I hadn't missed my Monday run, I'm not sure I would have done the 4 mile walk with E2 *and* the 8 mile run this AM. The time with E2 was one of the best parts of my week, while the run was harder (aka better training) than it would have been in the cooler AM.

2. If we hadn't asked J and E2 to show up with wine last night, we would have drank the St. Pauli Girl N.A.s, and I wouldn't have learned the beauty of non-alcoholic beer as a training aid. 96Cals, 23g Carbs plus all the B vitamins and other random goodness you get from the brewing process without the stink of alcohol? I'm a fan. Besides, it tastes better than any other recovery drink I've tried.

September 8, 2011

Week -13

It's actually halfway through week -12 by now, and as the delay would indicate, last week was quite busy.

The last BBQ of the season was a blast and an unexpected reunion of several folks from one of E's long ago employers. My clients are all gearing back up and keeping me ridiculously busy. E's business is in one of those wacky start-up cycles where everything seems to be happening at the same time (financing, customers, hardware deliveries, and more). R & B's awesome wedding (How cool is a quick thunderstorm and double rainbow on your special day in Pasadena on Labor Day? Talk about an auspicious sign of good fortune!).

On the running front, I actually did more miles than the schedule required thanks to extra walking in Pasadena. 51+ miles including 400 intervals at a much faster than expected pace (including one at 6:47!), and a 12 mile loop that heads up into the mountains and back down (i.e. Lots of hillwork). No wonder I'm exhausted. But in a good way.

Monday, the day after the wedding (technically week -12), I skipped my run. Too much fun with nothing left for the body. Tuesday's intervals on the strand in Santa Monica to Marina del Rey and back were gorgeous, but slower than expected. Oh well, c'est la vie.

So, here I am, headed into the back half of the week, finally starting to catch up on work and the garden. Last night was 8 cans of tomato sauce and I'll be canning, roasting and pickling (I've got a bumper crop of cucumbers as well) every night this week.

E and I just started our traditional post-BBQ healthy vegetarian, yoga-full, alcohol-free stint last night. I woke this morning slightly more rested and definitely convinced that changing gears on the consumption is a good idea. I look forward to seeing how this treats my running. And, it is my hope that by the end of the 10 days, I should be ready for the next social onslaught.