April 28, 2013

Hello From Maui

I am in Maui, visiting with my sister and her husband and hanging out with my adorable nephew.  Life is good.

The view from my lanai:
Tako poke, courtesy of the grocery store across the street:
Ukelele, because it reminds me of brother:

And, the full grocery store poke hall (coming in at less than $20): spicy ahi poke, vegetarian rolls, spicy tako poke and Krab kimchee poke:


Running Week Recap

This was supposed to be my first *real* running week since the SLO Marathon.

Even so, work and life (and gardening) got in the way more than expected, so I didn't get to fit in any Bikram, and only fit in 3 workouts.

Wed -- return to the track. This workout felt great and it was so fun to catch up with F, D, and to meet newcomer A. Again, I was impressed with F's obvious natural talent (and improvement each week). And, as for myself, it wasn't half bad for post-marathon legs: 0.94 mi jogging uphill w/u @ 11:53 from the car to the track and then around a bit. 300 pickup w/u with each 100 at the following mile paces: 9:03; 8:00; 6:49. 5 X 400 (1:54; 1:53; 1:55; 1:54; 1:54) 30s - 1m recovery; 5 minutes jogging; 1 X 200 @ 45 seconds; another 5 minutes jogging and then 0.74 walk c/d back to the car. [4.24 miles total]

PM workout: 1 mile TM walking a 4% grade reading a book. I'm heavy for me right now, so I need to incorporate more low-intensity aerobic work into my life in addition to being a bit more disciplined about my caloric intake. Walking with a book on an incline is one of my favorite ways to get in some easy negative calories. I'm going to try to get this one into the rotation more often.

Friday -- botched long run with F, but still a good work-out.

I had a great plan -- run 1.7 miles to the trail, join F for 10ish miles of her 17 mile run, and then run home. For some reason, I didn't think of this as a proper long run that required any fuel, or planning other than making sure I had my coffee and time to use the restroom in the AM.

It started out perfectly. I ran the first mile at 10:30, and the next 0.7 at 9:30/mile pace. I stopped, as planned, at the water fountain, drank some water, and started stretching, doing yoga and pushups, dips, abwork, etc. In an effort to ensure I didn't miss F, I'd arrived about 10 minutes early. Due to an unscheduled restroom break, she arrived 10 minutes later than planned. These 20 minutes of calisthenics and stretching were not remotely included when I thought of how this run would play out. Also, in other news, my arms are *still* sore...

F and I had a great first 5 miles together, most right on target for 10ish/mile, but all of a sudden, I found it hard to keep even a 10:30/mile. I struggled through mile 6, but it was clear I was dragging F, *and* it was clear to me that I was only going to continue to get slower. I told her to go on.

I tried to soldier on for a while, but I could barely muster 11 min/mile. I was hot and nauseous. I realized (too late), that I'd been out, working out in the direct sun on an empty stomach, with only water fountains to offer refreshment for 1h40 minutes and I still had 4 miles left. I had one Gu chomp from F, but I really didn't feel like I needed or wanted electrolytes or fuel. Even once the nausea and burping set in, my brain didn't seem to understand what I needed (although I did realize I was getting sunburnt, which certainly wasn't helping matters).

Just like that, after 7.7 pretty good, steady miles (I felt like I was holding back) I was completely done. After a few attempts to restart running, it became apparent that if I wanted to keep running, it would have had to have been high 11 minute miles, or possibly 12s or even 13s. I did *not* feel that I had any benefit to gain by slogging through the remainder of the mileage at those paces.

So, I chalked it up to re-learning the lesson from the Training Run From Hell, turned on my audiobook and walked home. Even so, it took about an hour after arriving home, drinking grapefruit juice (and pickle juice! Yay Sodium) before I felt remotely normal again.

Saturday, I flew to Maui to join my sis, her husband and my adorable nephew, so no running. This AM, I did about 4 miles total walking and running with my thirty pound nephew in the stroller while my sister and her husband went snorkeling.

Total mileage for the week: 20.5ish.

In other running news, due to unexpected work issues for E, we had to cancel the China trip, so I will not be running the Great Wall Half Marathon. I'm disappointed about missing the race, but not overly so. The more I'd learned about the pollution (not to mention H7N9), the more concerned I'd become about whether this was a good plan or not.

The current plan is to reschedule the trip and just go hike a portion of the wall in the absence of the race. Please send me good vibes for being able to get some of the pre-paid race package fees refunded...

April 21, 2013

Two Weeks of Marathon Recovery

Like everything associated with marathons, recovery is one of those things that no one seems to agree on.  There are the back-to-back marathoners, who claim that recovery is unnecessary.  Then, there are the extremists who claim you shouldn't run hard (or, for the very extreme, at all) for 1 day for every mile you race.  I generally try to give myself 2 easy weeks at a minimum. This is the Hanson's Approach, and historically, it's treated me reasonably well. I don't usually have the drive to follow a "recovery plan" as some folks recommend, so I like to just give myself a break and go by effort/desire.

So, ever since the San Luis Obispo Marathon, I've been taking it *very* easy on the running side of things.

The total mileage for both recovery weeks combined is approximately 24 miles, and that includes 50% of the mileage either on the elliptical or walking.   I'm proud to say that I took the 2 week hiatus easy, but not entirely off, and I did quite a bit of cross-training with recumbant bike riding, weight training, calisthenics, a session of Bikram yoga, and over 15 hours of gardening, which, believe it or not, can be quite the cardio workout when you're digging into clay, loading wheelbarrows, moving dirt, and turning beds.

Yesterday, I headed out for my first real run since the marathon and managed a decent 3.13 miles at 10:09 pace to meet up with E at the rocket launch.  Unfortunately, after walking around for 0.5 miles, I confirmed that he had already left, so I ran another easy 2.15 miles back, and walked the final 0.75 or so.

Today, I woke with great intentions for a long, easy run.  But, the plan was to start the run with E at 9 AM, and E was sleeping in.  Lazy, I let him.  This, my friends, is how we didn't even leave for our AM run 'til 10:20.  At mile 1.5, E informed me that it was much too hot and he was deserting me.  At first, I was annoyed, but then I decided to make the most of it and push myself for a step-down workout to see how some faster work felt instead of pushing through the longer, slower run in the afternoon heat.  It was a good, solid 3 mile run.  Splits:  10:07, 9:37, 8:30.  My left hamstring is a bit tight, but nothing some stretching and rolling shouldn't fix. (Oh, and in E's defense, it was 82F when I got back to the house.  I haven't sweat that much, that quickly, after a short run in a very long time.)

The good news is, I think I'm recovered and ready to get back into the swing of things, running wise.

Which is good, as I've got 4 weeks 'til the Great Wall Half Marathon, and then another 4 weeks 'til the San Francisco Marathon First Half Marathon (Which, by the way, I'm very excited to do for the first time -- I may or may not be able to join F on it, depends on how speedy she decides to go out for her first marathon, but either way, it is the last of the three events of the SFM that I've never done, so it'll be cool to say I've done 'em all).

April 14, 2013

I Love New York

Every time I come to New York City, I fall a little bit more in love.

It's always a completely new experience.  It seems to me, that if you wanted, you could do new things and have completely different experiences every day in the greater NYC area, and I don't think you'd ever run out of things to do, as things change faster here than you could possibly accumulate all of the potential experiences.  Sure, this is generally, philosophically true about any sphere of life, but that's trite.  In New York, the reality of the scale is so overwhelming that it makes me stop to reconsider my outlook.

My first trip to the city was with N.  I think we must have been barely 21 or 22 years old, and we were niave.  We had tons of European travel under our belts, but we were very mistaken in our plans for NYC and we were lucky to both check into (after 2 AM  -- and not be left in the street) and successfully get out of the sketchy hostel in Harlem.  Once the sun was up, we escaped to the nearest subway with some other international hostelers (who were equally freaked out by the open heroin use).  We immediately went to a travel agent and rented an apartment on the Upper East side for the remainder of our stay -- talk about an example of the various extremes that are all available in such a small physical area.

The next trip was also with N, but we were visiting a high school friend of mine who had an apartment, so that one was less tramatic and more culturally full of museums and bar hopping and typical 20-something NYC fun while couch-surfing with local trusted friends.

Several years went by until E & I ripped through a 47-hour tornado of a trip as our first joint visit to his Mother's hometown. We attended a law school colleague's 30th birthday party and were awed by the east-coasters' abilities to drink 'til 4 AM and beyond.  From there, we visited E's grandparents and uncle in Brooklyn and were introduced to a great multi-generational perspective on this wonderful city.

Almost 2 years later, I came back as part of a married couple and we did a much more traditional business oriented trip, with both of us in town for work.

6 weeks after that, we were back, taking time out for friends' wedding festivities and E's Grandfather's 90th birthday party events (Holy Family!).

Several years of constant work rushed by for a few years, and then, we returned, appropriately, to both work and visit N, who'd since moved here.  (N, was, at this point, 3/6 and counting, on being involved in my NY trips.)

The next year, I returned to NYC solo, for N's bachelorette weekend, and, of course, more work.  I thought I'd been clever to book my own hotel room away from the rest of the party in their cramped apartment in the heart of midtown.   Of course, the joke was on me, as I actually did end up having to work from my hotel room, and I missed half the festivities.  But, I had a blast hanging out in NYC with a group of some of the coolest ladies I've ever known (including N, E2, and friends). (N count:  4/7)

And here we are, third year in a row where I've made the trip.  Work, of course.  But tons of social stuff as well.  In fact, this may be the most stereotypical NY trip we've ever done.  We landed and stayed the night at a JFK airport, then headed in for a day in Queens with N and R & new baby F.  So cute! (bonus -- N count: 5/8 -- should I officially declare NYC as my N city?)

Saturday, E & I headed to Manhattan on the N-line and met up with R at his place in Union Square. We all went on a run to the highline, then walked the highline as quickly as possible between the crowds of tourists (super impressed with the reclamation project, New York! Well Done!), ran the Riverside to 34th, then weaved back to Madison Square Park, past the ridiculous line at the Shake Shack, over to Gramercy Park, and finally, we stopped at the crowds on 7th Ave and walked back to Union Square for a lunch from R's favorite local falafel vendor.

Our afternoon plan had been to head to the Museum of Natural History with E's folks.  But, by the time we checked into our midtown hotel, they'd decided we didn't have enough time to make a proper visit of it.  So, instead, we sat around their hotel room and caught up over a bottle of Turley Old Vine they'd bought on one of their trips to visit us, had been aging for at least 5 to 8 years, and took the time to dig out of the cellar and put in checked baggage for the trip. (Yeah, I hit the in-law jackpot, it's true).

With our afternoon free, R graciously agreed to give us a tour of the NY Google office before dinner, and we took him up on it.  For E and me, it was more or less what we expected (just buried in the port authority high-rise building between telecoms instead of in MV, sprawled between whatever buildings they could get), but for E's parents, it was a generational shock at the ball pits and food and play areas and scooters.  The experience, will, no doubt, give them tons of cocktail party fodder.  Which is good, 'cause they insisted on treating us all to dinner at the super fancy and delicisous Tocqueville, so at least they have something to show for it (evil grin).

Today, we did our best to be awake and head downstairs to meet E's parents, chipper on EDT at 9:15 in the rented car at the hotel entrance.  We drove through the Bronx, Yonkers, and up to northern Westchester County, where E's maternal grandparents are now in an assisted living facility facility.  At the far end of the drive I realized that the conversation I regularly have with people about how easy it is to get to truly rural areas from San Francisco is *also* true from Manhattan.  It kind of blew my mind.

And then there were E's grandparents.

I love old people.  And E's grandparents are super old, which, in my book mean super awesome.  Plus, they love me and him and his family, so I love them even more than I normally love old people, which is a ton, as I mentioned.  E's grandfather is so dotingly in love with and anchored by his wife that it takes my breath away.  Meanwhile, E's gran is adorably concerned about E's grandfather in an alternating nagging, caring and sending extra food across the table way that I can't help but find it adorable -- she watches his every move, telling him what to order because he can't remember what he likes and is overwhelmed by the menu (which he appreciates) and cutting him off when he drones on (which he tolerates and even seems to enjoy with a ridiculously good humor).

In short, they are that exemplary couple who have become a singular unit with disparate external functions.  And seeing them makes me realize that this is what I want.  I have other desires in life, but supreme above them is that I want to do a good enough job of living as a wife with my husband that we age well together and our oldest years become a shared old joint mind-body-soul.  I see E's grandparents (and parents on their own way) and can only hope that I may be so blessed.

So, yes, of course I love New York.  Food.  Sites to see.  Friends.  And Family.

And, of course, I can't wait to come back.

April 7, 2013

San Luis Obispo Marathon -- The Long Race Recap

Hills. So.  Many.  Hills.

My brilliant plan to drop out of the LA Marathon if the going got tough, and replace it with the SLO full was still brilliant.  But, unfortunately, as I realized on-course, the hills were definitely this plan's downfall.  I hadn't trained for hills at all, really.  Oops.

Even so, the totality of the race weekend was more than I could have asked for.  The lame finish time was more than worth it. 

Pre-race dinner with the aunts and uncle who live in town? Awesome.  We told stories, caught up, and reminisced while looking at pictures of my dad at age 19, my uncle at college graduation and with the red ford truck (every-wash-it-fades) my dad had given him in high school because "I've got to go to college and I can't make it work."  Aunt B and Uncle H's house is on the course around mile 17 or so, and they informed me, "Oh, we always end up waiting much longer than people estimate to meet up with them -- it's a slow course."

Okay.  I thought.  I can deal with that.  I'd dropped the PR goals in LA, so I'll just adjust.  Plus, I'd just learned that my mom and dad's first house was on the course!  Cool!

Then, they informed me that the race included what they'd deemed the "Wheeeeee Road" in their childhood.  Take a look at the elevation profile between mile 15 and mile 16.  Alright, I thought, I'll be prepared.

I had a great pre-race meal (opting out of the BBQ'd steaks and veggies and opting for take-out posole without eating any of the pork, plus 3 bottles of water).  After dinner, at the hotel, several cups of tea, and I was finally in bed.

I managed to finagle an early AM ride to the start with H (who's finally healed and ran the half!  Yay, for a return to workouts together!) as she'd conned J into driving not just her, but me too!  Score.

I found T at the start, behind the 5 hour pace group.  She informed me that she was emotional all weekend as the purpose for her and many of her friends was to celebrate and honor their friend G, a Cal Poly grad and local teacher who'd recently died of a blood cancer.  It was great to see her, and we started together in the dark, but after about 1/3 mile she dropped back and urged me on.  (In hindsight, I should have stuck with her).

I headed out at what I thought was a very conservative pace, and while being a bit surprised at how steep the early hills were (both up and down), I executed a PR 1:11 porta-poop stop in mile 4 (every PR Counts!), and met up with Auntie I at 4.2 miles near my gran's house.  She had gatorade, a kiss, and a huge sign encouraging me to run by my initials.  Priceless.  (In other news, apparently, my initials are quite common, and she received many thank yous from other folks who have my initials and enjoyed her sign.)

From there, I did my best to keep my original target pace, but around mile 6 or so it became apparent that the hills were going to get the best of me.  I saw KP running towards me on the out and back section trailing the 4 h pace group and she looked *very* strong.  I was excited for her.  I tried to keep it even, refused to walk, and promised myself that I'd run hard 'til I reached Aunt B & E around mile 17ish, and then, well, then, I'd just finish.

Why?  You ask?

Well, in case I missed the point from my family, the hills were crazy.  The wind was not remotely as bad as I'd feared, but that meant the tailwind wasn't very helpful whereas the headwind back in was lame and the hills were more than I'd bargained for.  On mile 15, there were actually cyclists cresting the hill just as I did, who screamed "Wheeee..." as they headed down -- the Whee Hill, indeed.  In my pace area, the majority of the folks I was keeping pace with were run-walking as early as mile 12.  Walking up the steep hills and then running down.  It's quite efficient, apparently, as most of them would get passed by me as I climbed and then pass me on the downhill.

Unfortunately for me, after climbing the entirety of the Whee Hill, I had to stop to tighten my laces on the descent, as my toes were slamming into the front of my shoes with each quad-burning step.  Also, my quads were beat up from the previous hills, so once my shoes were fixed, even though downhills are usually my strength, I was unable to fly with as much fun and vigor as I'd like.

Essentially, when I saw E & Auntie B, I was thrilled with relief.  Powerbar, gatorade, companionship.  I stopped and smiled and stretched.  If I was honest, in my mind, I was done with the pushing.  I walked and ate my power bar and talked with E as he pushed his bike along.  The 4:45 pace group passed us.  At some point in this process, I hit stop instead of lap, so I screwed up my Garmin.  By the time I figured it out, I'd lost 6 minutes (according to the chip time) and who knows how much distance.  Finally, I saw some ladies I'd been trading run-walk spots with and fell in with them for their run segment.  E pedaled on.

E met me again at mile 18, and took a picture of me at the mile marker, with the ancestral family ranch in the background. (I'd post it, but E's phone died and the photo was lost!  My Aunts and Uncles claim that I obviously have to run it again!)

While we were trying to get the photo, T ran by.  T!!!!   She was well ahead of the 5 hour group and trying to catch the 4:45 pace group.  I dropped in with her and tried to keep up but after a mile or so, I admitted that I just didn't have the drive.  I wished her well and let her go. 

I ran the rest of the race the best I could.  Into the nasty headwind that kept increasing with each minute.  Short walk breaks when I had to on the severe uphills.  Enjoying the last sighting of Auntie I and E at mile 23+ and then, running slowly, but without break, even on the pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks, passing run-walkers to the finish. 

I crossed at chip time 4:52:22 and gun time 4:53:06.  In other words, despite what felt like a much harder effort, I was *much* slower than last year's monsoon dial-it in CIM performance.

Many lessons learned.  Starting with "Hills Matter -- Train For Them".  And ending with, "Go Out Slow!"  I hit mile 13 at around 2:14, says the Garmin.  So, even though I truly did my best to go out at a reasonable pace for my fitness, and I included a bathroom break in the first half total, I still underestimated the course and lost another 22 minutes on the back 13.2 (and most of it after mile 17, when I decided to just enjoy myself).  If only I'd stuck with T, who took it slow-and-steady-tortoise-wise and ended up finishing almost 5 minutes before me.  Hindsight... 

So, there you have it.  The end to the coach experiment resulted in a DNF on the target race and a great family weekend with a slow finish on the replacement race.  And lest you think I blame the coaches, I actually don't think I would have been able to finish this race without the training plan.  I don't think I would have been disciplined enough to have put in the mileage and would have likely just done the half.

Take home? I think I need to do some serious soul searching about the structure of my life and whether I *actually* have time to dedicate to what is necessary to run a pleasant marathon.  Thankfully, the next two races on the calendar are halfs.  And I feel like today's effort is a great strength building and endurance building workout that will pay dividends for those efforts.


(Oh, and post-race lunch at the pub with E, both Aunts, and Uncle H was more than worth the bummer of a finishing time.  Family & NACHOS!!!!)

April 3, 2013

Checking In -- Looking Good, If Tired

The majority of my friends post about the exhaustion of balancing lives with children. And, to be clear, while it seems rewarding, it also sounds exhausting.

Nights like tonight, I think to myself, "There are many ways to choose to have an exhausting life."

Note, I do not think, "There are many ways to choose to have a well-balanced life."

No. I do not think that.  Because. Well, because I do not actually think that.  If I thought that, no doubt, I'd actually be living one of those many well-balanced ways.  But I am not.

Instead, tonight, in an act of self-preservation after too many nightmares involving document editing, clients, negotiations, accounts receivables follow-ups, etc., I've cut myself off work. Clients are annoyed at this choice.

Instead, I finalized some details our contractor required for the remodel (which required that I make time to go to the hardware store during work hours to collect samples so E and I could discuss them in the evening, which meant I had to block out time from my work day, which is always difficult).  I also finished laundry, made dinner, and took the time to blog and hang out with E.

And yet, despite giving myself freedom from work, what I haven't yet done this evening is a Mandarin lesson, pack for our trip to SF for a night, prepare our China trip visa applications (because our flights were changed *yet again* and the old apps are now out of date), or respond to multiple emails from my brother's attorney. I'm helping him with some legal issues, and it requires daily effort on my part *after* I've finished all my daily work legal efforts. Tonight, these things are just not getting done.  I'm too exhausted.  Tomorrow, my friends.  Tomorrow.

What I did do, however, after addressing the necessary house remodel issues and deciding nothing related to work was getting done, is respond to my extended family and accept an invitation to dinner at my aunt and uncle's house before the SLO marathon. E is thrilled, because these are the same extended family who hosted my gran's family memorial dinner that was cooked on the BBQ my papa (grandfather) welded (after three prototypes):

Let's just say that E's pre-race meal will be more civilized than what he usually agrees to have out of solidarity.  I will be the outcast -- bringing my own noodle soup.  They will all feast on wine and red meat and other traditional family celebratory stuff that only a marathon the next day could keep me from enjoying.  Regardless, it will be a good time.

Did I mention that I will have family waiting at mile 4.5, 16.5, and 24 with sports drink and oranges?  My aunts and uncle have overwhelmed me with their support once I announced my intention of doing the full marathon where they live -- they have been adorable with questions and details and emailing daily detailed farm-level-detail weather updates.  Plus, E is planning to bike between the various family members and be there to support me as well.   And finally, watching the weather report move from storms with rain, to showers, to clouds with great cool temps (albeit with bad wind), makes me feel like once again my farmer family ancestors are pulling weather for me.

In short, I've never felt this well supported on a marathon before.  The generosity of my aunts and uncle have made me grateful that I dropped out of the LA Marathon and allowed myself the opportunity of doing a marathon in my dad's hometown, amongst the support of his siblings.

Plus, today's short tempo was *awesome* and the REI member benefit allowed me to replenish my fuel stores with products of choice for free to ensure I don't repeat the mistakes I made at Coeur D'Alene.

I'm excited for Sunday!  No matter what, I will do my best to finish, and I will likely cry a little bit as I run in front of the family ranch.  Wish me luck!

April 1, 2013

Garden Update

Over at Tech Law Garden. Summer Garden is Coming!