June 30, 2013


Tonight, a world-class gymnast from college updated his Facebook profile such that his profile picture was the Ka logo.

He was a Cirque employee for years, so I didn't think much of it.  But then I saw the news.

And then I thought about the concept of *news*.  And how the social media world has modified it.

I got the Ka news *before* it was well known.  In the same vein, I know more about random fish eggs laid by acquaintances from college's fish than I do about my own mother's day-to-day life.

So, I *heard* or at least was *notified* via my friend's social media actions that *something* newsworthy had happened in connection with Ka long before it made the mainstream media.

So there's that power.

And then, there's how I also know more about the specifics about people I sincerely care about, with whom I absolutely would have lost touch without social media, thanks to all of its pervasive ridiculousness.

The long distance connections are most definitely stronger thanks to social media.  But the question I have is about the short ones.  The sisters, the brothers, the parents, cousins, neighbors, and co-workers.   I think social media lets us ignore or at least pay less attention than we should to them.  And I think that's unfortunate.

A good college friend recently dropped off Facebook and I applauded her.  I also thought of my own experience, when I took a month off last year and found that if I wanted to be part of the modern tortoise community, I had no choice but to be on Facebook.  You heard -- you want a tortoise?  You'd better be on FB.  Otherwise, you are missing out.

Tonight, my sister and I spoke for the first time in entirely too long.  We caught up, and she mentioned that she may be deleting all pictures of her son from FB because she feels it should be his choice to make his own social networking record.  I told her I understood and would not be offended if she deleted the videos I'd uploaded.

And here I am.  In the middle.  Connected.  For better or worse.

Garden Update

Early prep plus a hot Spring and early Summer == Delicious Bounty.

June 21, 2013

Happy First Day of Summer!

Can't wait for my first home-grown tomato!

June 16, 2013

My 36th Half Marathon (SFHM1)

It was a gloriously beautiful day in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.  As we turned the corner to view the crashing waves of Baker Beach, a woman with a strong Russian accent asked me, "Vat is dat?"

"Baker Beach," I said.

"Oh.  You know, I run dis course every year for last 7 years.  I've never seen this view.  BEAUTIFUL!"

And, she was right.  I do recall this portion being socked in fog the last and only time I ran it.  And it was BEAUTIFUL today!

So, I did not meet my "A" (aka "dreamer") goal of 2 hours, but I'm not disappointed.  It was one of those amazingly gorgeous SF days where it's completely obvious why it's such a major tourist destination.

I didn't really know what would happen today.  I felt like my running could be magical (like the weather), and originally, it felt like it just might be.  But I also felt like there was a non-trivial chance my hip flexor could freak out and I'd have to drop out.  It wasn't until Mile 11.5 when I finally realized I was in the clear and could just finish without fear.

Thanks to the taper and ramen and Onigiri from the Japan town mall for late night snack and breakfast, I went out feeling strong and had a great first couple miles.  I stuck with F, as planned.  Originally, we started behind 'em, so F and I tried to catch and pass the 4h marathon pace group before the hill in Fort Mason to avoid the crowds.  Once we got close, it turned out, they were going too fast for me, so when we hit the hill at Fort Mason, I let Fio go.  She stayed with them, more or less for the entire race, and crushed it with a 3:57 for her first marathon.  Not too shabby for anyone, but in particular anyone on the hilly SF course, and a newbie who ran her first race ever (a 10K) in February of this year!  I'm so proud and happy for her!

Even with the ease-off for the Fort Mason hill, I still hit mile 5 more or less on pace for the 2 hour goal.

But, as you can see, when we hit the uphill to head up to the base of the bridge, and I slowed to a crawl.  Then I walked.  If you look at the elevation profile, you can see why mile 5 may have been a doozy for me:

Once the 2 Hour goal was gone, I just tried to be smart.  The rest of the race was all about just trying to keep my head in the game enough to do a job I was proud of.  I did my best to save energy early on with walk breaks, to take advantage of the downhills (my strength), and to push myself to run the last 3 miles to the best of my ability without stopping to walk (except I may have grabbed some electrolytes or water).  At around mile 10 or so, I set a sub 10:00/mile pace as my goal (which, conveniently, was 15 seconds per mile faster than my "I think I should be able to do this no matter what" goal of 10:15s/mile).

As appears to be the norm for me lately, some crazy lady tried to race past me in the finishing shoot, so I sped up until I dropped her...  (Dudes don't seem to do this to me?  What is with the mid-pack ladies?)

In short, I was in approximately the shape I thought, but this course is much more difficult than I gave it credit for.  I'd only done it once before, as the first half of the SFM, when I did the full with E2.  Then, we did it in 2:19:55 and finished the full well before E2's 5 hour goal in a clean 4:38:26 (my one and only negative split, actually -- funny, before looking at the data, I didn't know I'd ever run a negative split marathon).  I think the reality of the difficulty of the marathon distance obscured the reality of the difficulty of this course.  Today, I realized that the SF First Half Marathon  course makes the US Half look like a cakewalk.

I'm still evaluating my options, but today makes me think I'm actually in pretty darn good shape, and a return to the Rock 'n Roll SJ this year would be a great place to try to push the 2 hour mark.  I know I've got it in me, but if there's one thing I've learned in 2013, it's that I'm not great at hills while I'm living and training at sea level on the SF bay.  So perhaps the flat (but turning) SJ is the way to go...

June 15, 2013

Tomorrow Is The Big Day (SFHM1)

Tomorrow is the San Francisco Marathon.

I checked the weather, and it looks almost perfect.  Partly cloudy.  53F at the start and approximately 57F when I finish the first half.  For F, it'll be around 58 or 59 when she finishes the full. A little bit of wind, but nothing in the double digits.

This week was a nice easy taper.  Very short on mileage, but all of the running miles were at average target race pace or faster.

M: 2 short walks of 0.5 miles or so.

T: 1.12 walking in SF to client meetings; 1.57 miles walking in the PM.

W: nice quick track ladder to work on turnover.  (200/200 RI; 400/400 RI; 600/200 RI; 400/400 RI; 200/200 RI)  Splits: 42; 1:51; 2:53; 2:00; 39.  That last 200 chasing F was quite fun.  5:12 mile pace.  By far the fastest I've ran in a very long time. (some w/u and c/d for a total of 2.25 miles)

Th: Short cut-down of 3 miles (first 1.6 with E, rest by myself).  9:24; 8:54; 8:47.  Avg pace 9:01.  walking c/d & w/u.

F: Rest

Sat: Shake-out run.  0.5 miles jogging w/u.  1 mile at target race pace/effort (8:54, a little fast, but it felt good).  0.3 jogging c/d. 0.1 walk.

I took a look at my training for the Rock 'n Roll AZ half. And, despite feeling like it was much less effort, the work I've done has been fairly comparable this time around.  I owe this to my running friends, for sure.  The weekly track efforts were as difficult or more difficult than what I pushed myself through in the 10 weeks before AZ.  Only all I had to do was show up.  What a great benefit!

The main difference between AZ and this time is that AZ was 7 weeks after CIM and this one is 10 weeks after the SLO Marathon.  I'm hopeful the extra 3 weeks of recovery will help me, but of course, the trade off is that I had the last 3 high-mileage weeks of CIM as my first 3 weeks of training for AZ, whereas this time around, I kept my mileage more in the half marathon range.  Even so, I'm only short 18.5 miles over the whole 10 week cycle from the AZ training.  That's just 1.85 miles less per week.  Color me surprised.

Taper has been going very well.  So, I guess I'll stay positive and see whether I can't surprise myself tomorrow.     

June 9, 2013

SFMH1 weeks -2 and -1

So, after today, it's nothing but 7 days of taper and the race.

Week -2 was pretty good, in terms of training.

Memorial Day: Cut-down 2 mile run with E in the heat.  9:21; 8:49.  I was proud of this one, as I felt like I could have pushed another mile even faster despite the heat.  Of course feeling like you could do something and actually doing it are different... but I do like that the increasing summer heat is naturally forcing me to get in better shape.

T: 2.55 miles easy @ 10:05; 2.73 walk.  My hip flexor was starting to bother me. Decided not to push it and instead promised myself to stretch in the evening while letting Chompsky out and supervising.

W: Track day.  1.14 jogging w/u @ 10:57.  6 X 800 (Splits: 4:06; 4:18; 4:14; 4:16; 4:14) Slow and Struggling, but still a great workout that I would not have pushed myself to complete without the track group. 0.5 miles walking c/d.  The assignment was 10X800 but I cut it short and stretched at the end.  My hip flexor had been getting worse with each interval and I was slower than normal.  It just didn't feel right.  Even so, it was a good workout, and as always, great to hang out with all the ladies in our track group.

Th: 5.01 @ 10:24 AVG w/last mile @ 9:43.

F: REST/GARDEN/YOGA.  More stretching while watching Chompsky.

Sa: Run the hardest part of the 1st half of the SFM and then some: parts of the presidio climb and the bridge and the drop from the bridge to go under to the other side and back, with F, D, and L.  This is a *DIFFICULT* but beautiful and great run if you're ever looking for a hard 11-12 miles in San Francisco.  Bonus, we had lunch in Fisherman's Wharf and enjoyed the views of the harbor as a post run treat.  Final performance: 0.1 walk w/u; 11 @ 10:32 AVG pace; 0.25 walk; 0.86 @ 11:45; 0.14 walk (803 ft ascent, out and back from Fort Mason to GG bridge Marin side).

Su: My hip flexor was *very* annoyed with me after all of the hills on Saturday.  So I treated it (and Chompsky) to an hour of yoga in the sun while I supervised Chompsky enjoying the garden and the lawn outside of his enclosure.  I walked twice to try to loosen things up for a total of 3.91 miles.

Weekly Mileage Total: 34.23 (including walking).  2+ hours stretching to try to get my hip flexor to calm down.

Week -3 was a true taper, and it was easy to do because we were in mourning.  The decrease in mileage felt great, physically, and there was no psychological backlash because we were depressed and I found it hard to motivate, emotionally, except on track day, when the company was a welcome instigator of effort.

M: 5.01 super easy with H.  10:58 AVG pace (including 2 minutes + walking, so perhaps 10:35 AVG for the running?). 0.25 walking c/d.  No noticeable hip flexor pain, which was a welcome change.  I think Chompsky gets the credit for this one.


W: Track day.  0.69 w/u @ 9:47 uphill to the track; 3X100 pickup w/u + 100 jogging c/d (9:25; 7:41; 6:50 paces); 9X300 w/  1-2 min RI (Splits: 1:09; 1:24; 1:22; 1:21; 1:18, 1:18, 1:18, 1:18, 1:21).  Final effort: Last 100 to pace F on the last 100 of her last 300: 20 seconds, starting from a standstill (!!!); 1 mile walking c/d  [3.45 total @ the track].

I haven't run at paces like this in a very, very long time.  My first 300, when I went out *much* too hard, I came in at a 6:07 min/mile pace, huffing and puffing.  I'd never really ran intervals of this distance and had been too busy to look up paces on a calculator before the workout.  The first one quickly showed me I should target something around 1:20 if I wanted to be able to finish the workout.  So that's what I did.  I also increased my recovery interval of 100m jogging + rest over the assigned 1 minute to whatever felt appropriate, including, in one case, 2m20s.

When all was said and done, I finished 9 intervals (plus the 100m sprint) and felt awesomely exhausted and athletic.  Even better, unlike last week's speed session, my hip flexor didn't hurt (Hurray for rest and stretching!).

Technically, I'd only run hard for 11 minutes and 59 seconds, but I felt exhausted and sore by the end, and I could tell that this was one of the more physically demanding efforts I'd pushed myself through this year.  I felt muscle-bone tired in a familiar but not recently experienced way.  That last sprint against F had been my gift to her, but also to myself.  I never really push myself to the edge while running.  This time, I'd dropped my last 300, jogged to the mark for her last straight away on her last 300 and waited, recovering.  I'd started a few second before she hit the line and then just kept increasing my speed as she got closer and closer, never quite letting her pass me 'til the end, where, frankly, I have no idea what actually happened, but we were both in as close to a dead-on sprint as we could be at the end of an hour long workout.  It was fun.  And, more importantly, neither of us got hurt.


F: 3 @ 9:39 AVG pace in 85F+ heat.

Sa: 1.48 walk w/ E2

Su: Last long run of 8, broken up quite a bit.  1.46 @ 10:05 by myself, slowly decreasing pace down to sub 9 at the end.  Swing by the house and pick up E.  Do a 2 mile step down in the heat w/ E: 9:50 & 8:44.  Walk 0.36 with E back to the house.  Grab my mp3 player, start the audiobook and head out for an easy 4.2 miles at an AVG pace of 10:58/mile.  Pick it up for the last 0.63 @ 9:24/mile.  0.28 walking c/d.  Later 0.75 walking to & from our neighborhood block party.

Weekly total: 22.7 miles.  Not much stretching.

How do I feel about the race?  Conflicted.  Part of me looks at the training and sees many hilly and 10 mile plus runs plus a solid taper and a healthy recovery from a hip flexor strain.  The other part of me looks at last weekend's performance and says, "That is a difficult course" and "I am not in as good of shape as I like to be before I try to break 2 hours, much less on a hilly course."  The weather looks like it will be perfect, and I've been training in the heat for the last few weeks, so that's a definite plus.  But, on the other hand, I don't really have any good recent hard efforts to point to that I can use to estimate my true fitness, so I fear I'm deluding myself.  I think my current plan is to go out with F for the first mile, just for the experience (and also to keep her speedy instincts in check), and once I'm nice and warm, I think I'll probably let her go and will try to settle in to a pace that feels comfortable.  Ideally that'll be 9:09/mile, but if it's slower, it's slower.  Given how difficult last weekend's run was with the hills, in all honesty, I'd be impressed if I managed to finish with anything under a 10:15/mile AVG pace.  Everything beyond that will be gravy.

Excited to race and happy and thankful to be healthy enough to do so.

Friday Chompsky

Friday, May 31st, was the first day Chompsky tasted nopal (aka prickly pear cactus pad, Opuntia paddle, etc.).

He loved it:

I started this post on Saturday June 1st to start a habit of posting weekly updates on the little guy.   I can't tell you how fun it was for E and I to interact with the little dude each day.

Google video wouldn't work, so I saved it as a draft.

Unfortunately, Monday AM,  after my run, while he was outside in his outdoor enclosure enjoying some sunshine and dandelions *something* broke in and removed him and his food dish.  Most likely a racoon.

We were devastated.

I didn't post a recap of last week's training because we were in mourning.  E and I have never had a pet together in all of our 12+ years together.  Yet, we bonded to Chompsky and he quickly became a part of our family -- in some ways, it felt like he'd been with us forever.  We each checked on him multiple times a day and reported to the other on on how he was doing.  For people who've never been around tortoises, it's hard to understand, but he had a *great* personality.  He was very friendly, curious, and enjoyed hanging out with us on the couch at the end of the day before he'd start to scratch to let us know he was ready to burrow down for the night.  We've been missing him, and that's my excuse for not posting.

After almost a week of searching, making posters, etc, it's time to accept that he's probably not coming back to us.  So, this post is a memorial to the little guy.

May you be eating all the fruit and nopales your heart desires!