May 29, 2016


So, a while back, I bailed on the Danville 10K that so many of my bay area running friends were doing.  Turns out Cat PR'd (thanks to some fancy pacing from Angela), as did Jen.  I bailed in order to do the Chrissy Field Parkrun today with E and his best friend (C) and C's wife (G).

Typical Chrissy Field ParkRun View (courtesy Chrissy Field Parkrun photographers)
It was the right call for me, even though I felt super jealous of the Danville folks throughout the day.  E PR'd pacing C to his first full 5K (E has a much faster 5K in him if he ever decides he wants it, but I digress).  C tried to keep it low-key since he's one of those "I don't enjoy working out" types, but after the finish he was texting family and friends, and just generally very proud of himself for coming in sub 30 on his first 5K (which is a big deal, and super impressive).  He seemed a bit surprised at all of the invitations from folks who weren't there to join various running activities now that he's shown himself capable of "running." 

In the interests of respecting E&C's privacy, I won't post their very *unique* finishing photos (which show how much effort the end was -- even in SF, while not Danville, the sun on the backstretch was direct and hot).  I will however post the competition they successfully bested in the last 0.25 miles of the race.

Mind you, this dude was a competitor.  As soon as E&C came up on him, ready to pass, he stopped to a walk for the first time in the whole race (we know, 'cause we'd been behind him) as if to signal, "you are only passing me because I am allowing you to do so."

I passed the kid on his walk break as well, but after a few seconds he sped back up and finished ahead of me, but after E&C.  All was well.

Meanwhile, G was pushing her stroller with her less than 1yo daughter taking a nap.  She opted into running the full 5K without stopping for her biggest workout effort in over 2 yrs.

So, in her shadow, I ran my highest grade-age effort in 2+ years.  I'm happy. 

The day before the race, I ran my standard 0.5 mile jogging warm-up, 1 mile at the pace I think I can sustain for the race by effort, and 0.5+ mile cooldown.  I was surprised to find that the 5K effort mile was 9:25 in the hot sun (and the prediction for SF was relatively cool, although, damn, the direct sun on that final 0.75 miles can make 65F feel like 80...).

So, I decided I'd shoot for 9:30 - 9:40 (McMillan had predicted 9:45 as my current fitness pace).  Historically speaking, these high 9 minutes per mile paces are not race paces.  They are weak tempos to my former self.  This is what humility (and acceptance of aging and laziness and lack of fitness) looks like.  I was actually excited to realize I could race in the 9s for the first time in 2 years.  This is who I am right now.  And it was fun.

At the start, I told E and C that I was shooting for this pace range, and they, being younger dudes with no running watches or data collection/reporting devices, decided to try to stick with me as long as possible.  This was ambitious.  C had ran no more than 2ish miles in any one run total in this training cycle.  We'd run as a group 1 time per week, breaking off with me and G chilling with the stroller and the guys doing their own thing each time.  Apparently, at some point in the 2ish mile running lap every week, C would ask for a break to walk, briefly.  E was always supportive (and is generally fit enough to string together some low 9 miles), but they were sticking together and they'd never run more than 1 mile at 9:30ish pace without stopping for a walk break.

I executed on my plan.  Guess what, it hurt.  I finished averaging 9:38, which is slower than my fastest marathon pace, but correct for me in a 5K right now. I knew my own fitness and I assumed I would drop the men at some point on the path due to lack of C's training.  But, they surprised me and stayed with me, using me as a rabbit at times in the first few miles in the sunny spots where they were lagging, but then taking off with 0.6 miles to the end to run down the random 12ish-year-old kid (pictured above).  As I noted, to his credit, the kid stopped to walk just as they passed as if to say, "Yeah, I know it.  But, for real, you're only passing me because I'm letting you."

Long story short, C was way more fit than his training let on.  29:30 5K for C (never more than 2ish miles ever) and E (not really interested in speed).  Well done, boys.

Overall, it was a gorgeous day in Chrissy Field and a wonderful way to spend a Saturday morning (followed by brunch at one of my favorite restaurants, a crawfish boil at a friend's, and an early night at home on a 3 day weekend).

Weekly total mileage (after today's target 8 miles slow but actual 5.6 due to a blister and bad socks) is 29.77.  Big workouts this week include the Chrissy Field 5K at sub 30, plus an 11X400 speed workout, and of course today's "long run" plus lots of easy stuff including walking during the rest of the week.  I would have preferred to hit 8+ today on my long run, but the blister from the bad socks took precedence, so I bailed... c'est la vie.

All things considered, I'm oddly feeling reasonably prepared for next Sunday's half marathon in Alamada.  Wish me luck!


May 23, 2016

Miles and Miles

Our SoCal Road Trip
Whenever we go to Southern California, we drive so, so much.  We have many friends, family and work obligations in the area and we want to fit in as many as possible whenever we're down there.  This is, of course, suboptimal, since driving in Southern California always comes with tons of traffic.  For example, the estimated 7 hours that Google thinks this trip should have taken, in reality had us in our trusty rental car for at least 11 hours (split over many days).

It was a great week.  I'm continuing to scale my practice down, and working at about 50% capacity while traveling is *so* much better than working full time.

While we were in the area, in addition to work meetings for both of us during the week, we were social animals of the first degree: 1 weekend birthday celebration, 1 baby shower, 2 nights with one friend (including an authentic imported products Italian dinner cooked by me to say thank you), 1 dinner out at Republique with a college roommate and her husband, 2 nights with another set of friends, a drive through Irvine to Carlsbad to stay at the lovely Park Hyatt Aviara (booked on points *and* got upgraded to a suite... I LOVE HYATT), a wonderful wedding on the beach in Carlsbad, and a visit to see two of my cousins and my new baby 1st cousin once removed.

The running wasn't too bad.  I fit in the slow 10 on Monday, followed by a super-slow hilly 2.8 mile loop on Tuesday.  Wednesday I made up 3 Tabata workouts and then headed to the gym treadmill for an agressive strength workout of 1600, 1000, 800, 800 at decreasing paces with walking recovery, all at 1% incline -- this was definitely the best workout of the week and I was sore for 2+ days afterward.  Thursday, I ran from our friends' place down to Marina Del Rey to check out the Endeavor Tank for an easy 3 miler plus some walking mileage.  Friday was a write off due to some bizarre stomach issues -- 1.25 jogging and 0.05 walk.  Saturday still had some residual stomach issues, but I managed 2.81 jogging with 2.89 walking back.  Sunday I ran 3.2 miles from our hotel to get the car that we'd left at the wedding reception and discovered a wonderful trail paralleling the train tracks -- I love it when I discover somewhere new by running whatever route is defined for me by the Internet.

Total mileage for the week: 32.67.  Not bad, although, as predicted, the long run didn't happen over the weekend, so I'll have to fit it in early this week.

Yup.  That's a big tank.

May 17, 2016

Desert Thoughts

The desert scenery dares you not to be thoughtful.
One of my childhood best friends, R, invited me, E, another childhood best friend K, and her husband D, plus another good friend of R, B to go hang out in the desert to celebrate R's 40th Birthday.  I'd never been to Joshua Tree and R correctly predicted that I would love it.  The quality of the desert light is hard to explain, but it's harsh and yet clear and bright in a manner I couldn't help but feel awed by.  And the sounds -- so mild and subtle -- scratchy footsteps on sand, quiet wind, still quiet between them, all in a volume my sensitive ears just loved.

Getting there was a bit of a fiasco and we almost missed our flight but thankfully all flights to Palm Springs were delayed by at least 50 minutes, so we arrived to the 100F heat before they shut the airport down for the day.

Joshu Trees in Joshua Tree National Park
It was so nice to enjoy the desert scenery and solitude (no cell service!), multiple meals and late nights of too much indulgence.  Truly, I felt so very lucky to spend time with friends I've had for close to 3 decades.
The beautiful cholla cactus.
We are firmly in middle age at this point -- each of us women within spitting distance of the exact half-way point of the 81-year average US female life expectancy.  And yet, many of our best moments are full of childish comedy and laughter.  We've known each other for so long that we can ask after each other's family -- in fact, they reminded me that I hadn't caught up with my sister in a long time, so I made sure to do that yesterday.
Cholla, as far as the eye can see.
I'd packed clothes to run over the weekend, but didn't.  Not at all.  The heat was certainly a factor, and the day we spent in the national park we did little more than walk a mile and half in the direct sun.  On Friday, I'd hoped to fit in 10 miles before we flew out, but as I mentioned, the day did not go well and our departure was a catastrophe (mis-packing, misidentified departure airports, and Lyft/Uber/Cab ridiculousness to name a few problems).

Essentially, for the weekend, I just overate and overindulged on a few other consumption axes while enjoying time with friends.  I woke early each morning and read in the garden wind, listening to the chimes while waiting for others to wake -- it felt so decadent, calming, and correct. 

However, I did sign up for the See Jane Run Half Marathon before we left, so I do have some shuffling to do to ensure I can finish comfortably.  Last week's running started well, with a slow easy 10 miler on Monday, and a 4 mile walk with a friend on Tuesday.  Wednesday, I did a very solid track ladder of 100, 200, 400, 600, 800, 600, 400, 200, 100 where I actually hit some paces in the 6 min/mile pace, which hasn't happened in a long time and has *never* happened at this weight.  There was another 4 mile walk Wednesday afternoon (I was *sore* from those intervals), and 3 easy slow miles on Thursday with several hours of gardening.  Friday AM, I had to finish the water situation in the garden before we left or all of my work would just die in our absence, and then the weekend was a write-off, mileage-wise.

Monday of this week after a lazy weekend of desert heat and friends, much like Monday of last week after a lazy weekend of rain and family time, I got back on the horse, and fit in a slow easy 10 miler to try to ensure I get in at least one long run each week before the half marathon.  I'm hopeful I can stick to a more reasonable running schedule this week, but we've got family to visit and a wedding next weekend, so if I find myself trading quality emotional time for running yet again, perhaps I'll just slate next Monday for my long run, yet again.

May 8, 2016

Happy Mother's Day

E&I packed up pillows, blankets, clothes, and headed out in the rainstorm to brave the Friday traffic from the Bay Area to Northern California's Gold Country, where Mom and Stepdad are staying. (Friday AM's run didn't happen because while I don't mind running in the drizzle, it was actually truly raining, so I decided to call it a lazy rest day.)
Cozy Cabin at the RV Resort
We had a raucous night, alternating games of pool and ping pong.  My stepdad used to hustle for cash in his youth, so when he gets his game back on the pool table, watch out... My Mom plays in a ping pong league, and E confirmed that while his shoulder is doing well, it's definitely not 100% yet -- aka, she beat us all.  After the high effort games, we started a 500 piece puzzle and did about half of it before leaving it unfinished on the communal games table in the resort adult rec room.

Saturday, we slept in (waking to the sound of glorious rain -- so welcome in NorCal drought country) and sipped coffee.  Then we lunched with Mom and Stepdad at the awesome Christopher's Deli in downtown Grass Valley.  After lunch, E & I worked for a few hours at a local cafe before heading back to the rec room for more ping pong, pool, and puzzle work.  When we left for dinner, we had maybe 50 pieces left to complete the puzzle.

After dinner, we came straight back, elated to place all of the final pieces... almost.

Notice anything missing in the white lilies?
We searched the floor, the cabinet of lost puzzle pieces, and everywhere else in the rec room, but alas.  We were one piece short.  Oh well, it was a fun 2-day joint effort and a good memory, nonetheless. 

Sunday AM, it had finally stopped raining, so I headed up the hill with the goal of 3ish miles.  Elevation plus hills is no joke.  I found myself run-walking in less than a third of a mile.

But then I found the trail!
Just about when I was starting to get seriously frustrated with the incline, I hit the top of the ridge and found the trail.  It was absolutely beautiful, and thanks to the nature of the soil and forest, despite the 3-day rain storm, the trail was solid and easy to run.  I fit in a quick short one, but throughout it was one of those running experiences when I was just grinning the entire time.  How beautiful the world is!  How lucky I am to have a wonderful Mother, who lives, somewhere nearby, that happens to be so gorgeous.  Each of these blessings is so wonderful.

In terms of mileage, the week was all over the place, totaling 32.02 miles, with 2/3 or so jogging/running.  2 true rest days (if you don't count ping pong and pool).  1 day over 10 miles run/walking, but with the last 2 miles with E & a friend of his, both sub 10 min/mile (so *sore* the next day).  A decent track day (200; 2X400; 800; 2X400; 200) with jogging there and back to total over 7 miles. 1 pure walk day, 2 short runs with additional walking.  And no core to speak of.  I'm still on the fence about the half marathon in June but how the planned long runs go this week will make the decision for me.

May 3, 2016

A Tasty Mileage High Point

Under the MoPac bridge over Lady Bird Lake.
I enjoyed our week in Austin so much.  However, it was *humid* and I found it very difficult to string miles together to run without stopping to walk and recover.  Thanks to a slowing law practice, I could spend plenty of time walking and enjoying the outdoors, and I did so every day.  The end result was a week of 60.63 total miles (including the long run with a friend back in California after our return).  I haven't put that many miles on my feet in a single week in years.  It felt great.

Unfortunately, I really am a heat and humidity wuss, so I ran only about 25% of the mileage.  I didn't hit my 2 runs over 6 miles (many days of 10ish miles, but never 6 miles running straight), and I didn't get in any solid speed work.  I did, however, fit in tons of core.  There are workout stations interspersed throughout the  Butler Trail.  And I put them to use, doing pushups, dips, step up lunges, squats, ab work, and more on most days.  By the fourth day, my core and arms were very sore and wondering what exactly was going on.

Austin is a big food city.  I had an average of one meal focused on meat (not counting fish) every day, which is *way* more than usual for me.

Texas BBQ platter at one of the events we attended.

Amazing pork buns from Odd Duck.

Terry Black's BBQ -- Delicious! (Texas state bird)


Last night, after 1 day back in California full of veggies and fish, we had guests from Georgia who wanted to break out the BBQ for the first time this season.  So, we obliged.  I was overloaded on meat, so I stuck mainly with the veggies, but even so, the first hosted outdoor meal of the season is always a cause for celebration.

California BBQ -- a little more color than the Texas variety
In running news, I can't seem to find a good 10K to replace the Danville 10K, so I'm toying with a half marathon in June.  Given how much I suck at running in the heat, this is a bold move, but it is likely to keep my motivated and keep my mileage up...