Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Letting the Cat Out

I have some unfinished business.  Business that I need to take care of, sooner rather than later.  See, I had big hopes for myself this year.  I had goals and times that I wanted to meet and worked hard for months on end.  When Long Beach came, I knew it wasn't my time to shine.  I knew it wasn't my day.  And being the smart runner that I am, I set my sights on something new.  Maybe I had this in the back of my mind the whole time - maybe not.  Maybe I set myself up to fail before I even gave myself a chance.  Who knows?  What I did realize though, is that I still want to achieve my goal of hitting a low 3:30 in the marathon before the year is up.

The night before Long Beach, when I decided not to run the full, I had made up my mind.  I formed my plan and took the steps to put it into action.  I couldn't wait to finish that race, drive home and hit register on something new.  I knew all along which race was calling my name.  I haven't talked about it here yet because I was still forming my own thoughts and ideas of how this next race will play out.  I don't want any added pressure put on myself and with that I have spent the last couple of weeks working on my head.  See, I know I built it up way too far in advance for myself (I just don't do well with LONG training plans).  I talked the talk, but when it came down to it, I couldn't walk the walk because I scared myself shitless.  This time, I wanted to be sure, I wanted it to be the right decision, and I'm finally excited to see what I have in me.

So, when I got home from Long Beach, and had a nice long chat with the hubbs, I decided to register for C.I.M. - the California International Marathon on December 5th.  Yes, that is the race where I chickened out at the start last year because it was so dang cold!  But not only was it frigid out, I was also burnt out.  I had just raced 3 marathons and a couple of halves in the mater of just 8 weeks before that.  I was done racing.  This year though, come frigid temps or pounding rain...I will be at that start line to take home my own marathon victory.

I thought about not sharing this on here.  I thought about posting about it maybe the Friday before?  But that is not me, that is not what my blog is about.  Honesty is the best policy, and I know you are all super supportive.  I've re-worked a training plan for the next 6 weeks and am doing some tweaking in my diet and my cross training.  I want to give myself everything I have before I toe the line so that there will be no excuses.  Also, the hubbs will be at the finish line; above all, no matter what happens that day, that is most important to me.

I also want to announce...I didn't even attempt to register for Boston on October 18th.  Nope, didn't eve open the BAA website.  I had also made that decision that weekend.  It was hard not to, and for a bit I was sad.  But when it closed the very same day, I knew I had made the right decision for me.  I will be sad I won't get to meet many of you come April, but I have other plans to work on next year.  Bigger things that I want to do.  Boston is awesome, I will get my redemption race in 2012.  I do plan on running NY marathon if I get in (any help on this is greatly appreciated!), or maybe even possibly going the charity route to ensure I get in.  That will be my big destination race next year - and I'm excited!

So, I've spilled the beans, let the cat out of the bag, told you all where I'm at and where I'm going.  Phew, I feel better!  My head finally feels like it is screwed on tight and I can put one foot in front of the other as I count down the days until December 5th!  Thanks again for all your support! 

Have a great Tuesday!
Happy Running peeps!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Other Side

As I'm sure you have seen, I race a lot.  And I'm always so grateful for all the people that volunteer and put on the races.  As runners, we are so lucky to be able to just show up, run our race, have someone hand us water and supplies, have a great time, then hop in the car and head home, relishing in a great day of running.  But as I'm sure we all know, it takes a lot of work to put on a race - of any size.

For a while I have been meaning to finally volunteer.  It's so hard though when it's a race that you really, really want to run.  I've had every intention all summer of doing my part, but the race always entices me to say, "maybe the next one."  But I had run out of excuses and decided last week I would man up and give back to the running community.

Earlier in the week, Punk Rock Ron, had asked me if I wanted to join him on a cheap, short (read 12 mile) trail half marathon in his neck of the woods.  I love me some trail running!  Right away though, I thought, this is my time to step up and volunteer!  So I emailed the race director, told him I was available and he welcomed me with open arms to help with the 5th Annual Los Voqueros Tarantula Run!  The run is put on by the Contra Costa County water district to bring attention to all that they do for water supply in the area.  It was a small race, probably with no more than 250 peeps.  They had a 5K, 10K, and a (12 mile) half marathon.  I thought starting small was probably my best bet ;)

Ron had also invited our good friend, always up for a race, Stacey! This was turning out to be a great Saturday!  The only problem was, I was sad that I wasn't going to run with those two characters.  I knew though, I had a job to do and it was on!  The race is in Livermore, about an hour and ten minutes away from Stacey and I, and I was scheduled to be at the race by 7 am.  Ugh!  Stacey though, is a morning person like me, so I hitched a ride with her and we were off hitting the road by 5:45 on a Saturday morning.  Yeah, us runners are crazy.

The weather was predicted to be cold, wet, and rainy - perfect.  And, I was coming down with a cold.  Perfect.  No worries, I knew I would have a blast and my face would hurt from laughing so hard at those two that I would completely forget my runny nose. 
RBR - the trooper showing up with me in the dark!

Right away the race looked super organized.  I was jazzed, especially since this group doesn't put on many races a year.  They had plenty of tents set up, registration, bib pick up and refreshments all ready by the time I showed up.  My first task was to make sure that each runner signed a waiver before picking up their bib.  This was very cool since I got to interact with pretty much every runner of the day.  The other plus was, that they were also having a 5K, and with any 5K you get lots of peeps who are running their first race!  And there wasn't a shortage of them!  So very cool to be apart of some one's first entry into running.  I helped a few newbies pin their bibs on the FRONT of their shirts and remind them that running would be a blast, and no, they won't get lost on the trails!
Working the waiver booth ;)

Finally Ron showed up, (read, fashionably late on the short bus) and hilarity ensued.  Ron and Stacey always make any situation fun, even when it was rainy and windy! 

Sorry for the crappy photo - it was still dark out.  But would you look at the calves on that guy!  Nice!

 When all the races had started, I was soon recruited to work the timing area.  They were using one timing clock and the tear tag system.  It was my job to tear the tags off and string them in order.  Everyone was super friendly, and I was pretty much the only volunteer who was an actual runner.  Everyone else came out to volunteer who worked for the water district.  They all had a bunch of questions and I think I even inspired a few to look for a 5K of their own and start running.  :)  The first half marathoner came in at 1:05 and man, was he sweaty!  That was the story of the day, tearing off sweaty, wet tags from the runners.  Many had never used the tear tag system before, so there was lots of yelling of, "stay behind the person you came in behind!  Don't get of order!"  Everyone who came across said the trails were a blast, and I was sad once again I wasn't out there experiencing for myself.  I knew though, I was in the right place.

The day seemed to go by really fast!  All of a sudden it was almost 11 am and we were waiting on just a few runners to come in.  Read, Stacey and Ron were still out there lallygagging and hamming it up for the camera.  I had to laugh, they were contemplating taking down part of the running shoot with 9 runners still out there!  I told them they couldn't, my peeps were still out there! LOL!  Sure enough, 2 hours and 45 minutes later, a tall guy (with great calves by the way)  and cute little chic (with a smokin' ass)  came running across the finish line and I got to congratulate my two running buddies for surviving the rainy race! 

My duties were pretty much done for the day when those two came across.  They only had 5 more runners out there and they began tearing down the finish area.  That kind-of made me mad, but from a logistical stand point, I got it.  They would still be timed, just no big fan fair.

Ron and Stacey reassured me that their lengthy run was due to the fact that they had to rescue someone from a burning house, help a mamma cow give birth...and stop to tie their shoes a few times.  They are such a bunch of do gooders!  There was one other funny story of the day: a goat came out to cheer everyone on.  Yes, you read that right, a goat.  The story of the goat is actually quite sad.  She belonged to an employee who had worked at the water district for over 25 years.  She was quite instrumental in the race each year.  Unfortunately though, she passed away suddenly just a few months back.  They brought her goat out to honor her, as everyone who knew her said she loved Sarah the goat and all her animals.

Sarah the goat - I tried to get a picture with her, but my camera died :(

So the day was a huge success in my book.  Even though I had to get up at the butt crack of dawn on a Saturday and brave the rainy elements with a cold, I still got to give back to the running community, hang with a goat named Sarah, and laugh my butt off with two of my fav running buddies!  Success!

Stacey and me after the race
My buddy Ron
I'm so glad I went and volunteered on Saturday.  It felt really good to cheer on all the runners coming across the finish line and to experience the race from a different perspective.  I promised myself I won't wait so long to do it again!  If you've never volunteered, give it a shot!  I'm on the prowl now to find my next one!

The week went by really quick for me.  I was busy and tired - I think the cold was coming on since Wednesday.  I had a pretty decent week of running.  I managed some speed work, a 12 mile medium long run and took two rest days.  I also was able to get in one more attempt at a long run today.  It was miserable with the rain, wind and cold, and decided it would be smart for me to turn around a 5 and just stick with 10 instead of the 18 I had planned.  I'm hoping I will get out tomorrow morning for my long run - just need to get over this cold!    I rounded out the week with about 47 miles.  Not my best showing but I needed to get over this cold!  I have the Healdsburg Wine Country Half Marathon on Saturday and I want to be healthy!

I'm off to catch up with all of you!  Congrats to all the racers! 
Have a great week and Happy Running Peeps!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Long Beach Race Report

The short version: I didn't run the full.  I ran the half and enjoyed myself!

The long version: take a seat, this may be a while ;)

Saturday morning, my mom and I hit the road for Southern California at 6am.  With very little traffic, we were down there in record time and hitting up the expo after lunch around 12:30.  The expo was so-so, they cramped the vendors into a pretty small area that they could have opened more and none of the volunteers knew what was going on.  No biggie, I've been through the race experience a zillion times, we'll figure it out in the morning.   By 2 we were checked into our hotel and taking a nap ;)

My running buddy and bloggy friend L.B. had asked me earlier in the week if we we wanted to have dinner with him.  Of course I did!  So, around 5 my mamma, my uncle who lives in the area and I all met Luis at California Pizza Kitchen for a nice pre-race dinner.  All of downtown Long Beach was buzzing with runners - it was fun to be out in that atmosphere.  Luis had plans of PRing at the half the next day and as we talked race strategy I had that same sinking feeling arise in me that I had pushed down all week and all day: I did not want to run the full.  I had been telling myself that I would be fine once I got to the start, but I could not fight the anxiety that had built.  I teased Luis that I would join him in the half, but I don't think he believed me.  I don't think I believed myself.

By the time my mom and I got to our hotel, I let her know I was not going to run the full.  She was actually quite glad, as she was worrying and could see it was eating at me all day.  The second I said it out loud and confirmed for myself that it was the new plan, I felt a huge weight come off of me.  Sure, I was a bit disappointed in myself, I was a bit sad not to be able to feel that marathon glory tomorrow, but I was okay with my decision.  And that for me sealed the deal and reassured me that I was making the right choice for me.

When I woke up the next morning bright and early to get ready, for a split second I thought, "I should suck it up and just run the full."  But I knew I wouldn't be happy - and no one wants to be unhappy at mile 15 of a marathon.  Your heart has to be in it - and I just knew mine was not.  We arrived at the start with plenty of time.  I have to say there were a billion porta potties and I had no troubles at all with that aspect of the morning.  What was a problem: the race corrals.  They had all the races start together, and no defined racing corrals.  Everyone just piled into the start area - and this was bad.  I pushed my way to the front, just about 3 deep back from the elite.  But all around me were people who should NOT have been in the front.  By the time I was ready to start, I knew I had made the right choice.

The weather was actually quite humid.  Both my mom and I commented on it numerous times during the weekend.  We don't get much, if any, humidity where we live.  So, when we feel it, WE FEEL IT.  The weather temp-wise though, was perfect for running.  That made me excited.  But because I had been focusing on my race strategy all week for the full, I had not thought about my half.  In a split second, I decided to see if could go sub 1:45 and attempt a bit faster pace than my MP (8:00) miles.  I felt ready to run fast! 

The gun went off and I was immediately glad I was not running the full.  I had made the right choice and it felt good.  The course has a lot of out and backs and loops, and that was one of the reasons I really didn't want to run the full.  The first half there are a few out and backs, but the whole second half, from mile 10.5 and back to the finish is a giant out and back with a small little loop.  I'm not good at out and backs mentally, I know this about myself and I had seen that on the course and knew it would be disaster for me.

I was cruising along pretty well early on, all the way through the 6 mile marker.  It was so humid and wet out, I was soaked!  I don't think I have ever been that soaked on a run before (aside from running in the rain!).  By mile 6, I could feel things rubbing me raw - again, a good thing I wasn't running the full!

I was totally cruising through the first 6, it felt soooo good to just run and not think too much.  I also wore my iPod, which I haven't done for a race in forever!
mile 1 - 7:42 (feeling pretty good)
mile 2 - 7:41
mile 3 - 7:39
mile 4 - 7:46
mile 5 - 7:36
mile 6 - 7:42 (I.am.so.thirsty.)
mile 7 - 7:59 (need.water.now.)
mile 8 - 7:58 (where is the water stop?)

Finally at mile 9, I came up to a water stop and walked through it.  I drank down two cups of water.  I had been just cruising along for so long that I didn't pay attention to any drinking or eating.  I was enjoying the course (it's always fun to run in a new place), the scenery and just running that I never thought of drinking! I know, I'm an idiot.  But when you were once staring down the barrel of a full, and now you're running a half, you think you have this in the bag!  Wrong!  You still have to be prepared, and not paying attention in the first half of the race cost me dearly.
mile 9 - 8:20 (walked through water stop)
mile 10 - 8:13 (walked through next water stop)
mile 11 - 8:28 (took an orange and a cup of water from a nice family outside cheering)
Also, in between mile 10 and 11 was the split for the full.  For a split second (again!) I felt like going right.  There was a guy on a ladder standing in the middle of the split directing runners.  When I went with the half, he was yelling at me to go to the right!  I gave him the cut off sign and kept running.  I felt like an idiot. I felt like a failure.  I felt deflated.  By the time I got to mile 11, even though I had ran pretty well, I didn't want to run anymore.  I just wanted to be done with all things Long Beach.
mile 12 - 8:29 (where the hell is the damn finish!)
mile 13 - 7:50
last .2 - 7:25/mi pace

Total time: 1:44:56
7:56/mi pace
div place (F 30-34): 23/946
overall place: 529/9107

When I got to the finish, I think I was one of the first to come through with a full marathon bib and everyone looked perplexed.  The young kids handing out medals and blankets did not know what to do with me.  It wasn't until I met up with LB at the finish that I saw that they gave me the full marathon medal - not the half :(  Oh well, I payed for it and I know how the day went.

Right when I finished I saw my mom.  She was so glad I ran the full.  And so was I!  I was covered in sweat.  I was soaking wet and I had chaffed bad, which never happens to me.  The weather had cooled a ton and I just wanted to leave.  But NOT before I saw LB cross the finish!  We finally got to meet up with LB on the other side of the finish area where we shared battle race stories from the course.  Go and check out his big PR from yesterday!!!

The finish area was a bit of a disaster, but nothing that a little patience couldn't cure.  By the time I got my bag and got out of there, I was ready to go home.  I ran a decent race, I enjoyed the company and the town of Long Beach and crossed off the Long Beach Half as one of the races I need for the California Dreamin Series.  I just have to run the Surf City Half in February to get my giant bling!

I learned a lot about myself with this race.  I learned that, if your heart isn't in a race, you're not going to enjoy yourself.  But on top of that, I also learned that you need to prepare yourself mentally before any race if you want to do well.  I may have set myself up to fail from the get-go.  I only wanted to run this race to BQ, and nothing else.  I was never excited about the race itself, I wasn't excited that my hubbs couldn't join me.  I never made the race important.  Sure, I trained the hell out of it for it.  Sure, I could have gone there and probably gotten the job done in terms of my time goals.  But I never gave myself a chance - and that is where I come up short.  I'm not ashamed.  I'm not upset.  I'm actually really proud of myself for recognizing that the full was not the one for me.  Again, sure, I could have owned up to it way earlier on.  But I was so focused on the task at hand (i.e. BQing again) that I ignored all of my fears.  In the end though, I did what was right for me, I ran a race that I enjoyed way more.  I was adult enough, and I was a smart enough runner to know: you don't run a race that you don't want to.  You don't run a race that your heart is not into.  Take that piece of advice from all of this: be committed, or you will surely fail.

I have big plans coming up.  Big things I want to do.  I am in great shape.  I'm totally in BQ form right now and I want to see what I can do.  I have some things in the works right now, I'll share it all with you in due time.  But right now, I want to continue to run strong and enjoy it.  I don't get paid to do this, it's not my job.  I'm so excited that I still get to run this week - I'm not sore at all from yesterday.  I still have one more goal race left in me for this year and I'm excited about it - no, really I AM!

Thank you to all of you for your support over the last few weeks.  You were all in my head and heart yesterday when I made the right decision.  I know you would have all told me to do what I did: run what you're going to enjoy - don't force it.  So again, thanks for all the encouragement this past week, for believing in me and cheering for me.  Don't worry, that 3:30 is in me, it will make it's day debut!

You all did amazing this weekend!  I'm off to catch up with all you crazy marathoners!  Congrats to Tonia and Marlene, and my girl Tara who is now a fellow Marathon Maniac!  Whoo hoo!
I will also post all the fun pics from the race tomorrow, including my fun time with Luis!

Happy Monday and Happy Running peeps!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

3 Sleeps

(Thanks Marlene for the good blog post title ;))

3 sleeps and 12 miles are all that separate me and the starting line at the Long Beach Marathon on Sunday.  Wow, it came fast!  Tapering has not been easy (not that any of you don't know that) but I feel like I have really kept a level head this week (level being relative) and I'm hoping that it will bring me peace when I toe the line.

One second I'm jazzed and tell myself I'm ready - the next, I'm doubting myself, telling myself to hold back and just run it for fun, or better yet, the terror of running 26.2 miles at all makes me want to puke.  I know I can cover the distance, it's the fast part that is killing me. 

Monday I got on the treadmill and ran 8 miles at a comfortable pace.*  When I was finished I felt renewed and ready.  I went about my day and then...the Giants were in the bottom of the 7th and trailing!  I was freaking out!  If you don't know, I'm a huge San Francisco Giant's fan.  Actually I love baseball, but my Giant's are doing awesome this year.  Finally, by the 8th they took the lead and it was down to 6 outs!  Argh!  I was freaking out!  So, I jumped on the treadmill to watch the last 6 outs and channel my anxiety!  Those three miles were NOT on the taper schedule, but it felt oh so good to be pounding out some miles as they captured their victory!  Whoo hoo!  I love me some post season baseball!

Tuesday I had 7 miles on the schedule with 3 at MP.  Sounds easy enough.  So again, I jumped on the old mill and ran great!  I did a nice warm up, 3.5 miles at an 8:30 pace then hit my MP miles feeling ready.  I actually ran 2.5 at MP and then sped it up for the last at a 7:52 pace.  Again, it felt good, comfortable...doable.  But anything is doable for 7 miles.  Anything is even doable for 13.1.  It's the 26.2 miles that is throwing me for a loop.

If denial was an island, I would save up the cash to buy it.  That is where I find myself most of the day this week.  I forget I'm even running on Sunday, then, like a flash it enters my mind and I'm back to square one doubting everything.  Taper does crazy things to your head.  I'm hungry as hell, anxious, feel every bone from my feet to my hips, and doubt the last 14 or so weeks of training.  Why do we do this again?

On the positive side, I'm excited to have a mini-vacay with my Mamma!  Since Ari can't go with me, my Mamma decided to step up and come with!  She is like the super fan you always want on your side.  You can do no wrong, she says all the right things in the right moment, and well, who wouldn't want their Mamma with them?  We're going to head down early on Saturday morning, hit up the expo and hopefully have dinner with L.B. (resident Long Beach expert and he's running the Long Beach half! Go L.B.!)  And a ton of Bay Area friends and blog peeps are running the full and half, too!  I can't wait to see all of them!  Plus, looks like the weather is going to be cooperating and perfect for running!

With my reservation set, my race confirmed, and all plans set in motion, all I need now is to let go and run on Sunday.  I need to quit analyzing everything.  I need to quit worrying and enjoy the experience.  I want to look back and say that I did everything in my power to meet my goal: which includes staying positive and not letting taper brain take away from the experience.

I'm off to get another 7 miler in with some MP miles.  I had a rest day yesterday and all my legs want to do is run, run and RUN!  I'm going to run 5 tomorrow and take Saturday as a rest day - I do really well when I have a rest day between races.  I'll check in with all of you tomorrow, and I will be sure to wish all of you running and racing this weekend, GOOD LUCK!

*lots of dreadmill running this past week - there is another crazy on the loose and the hubbs is not liking me running outside at the moment :(  Boo!
Off to catch up with all of you!  Again, congrats to all of you Chi-town finishers - you are HARD CORE in my book!
Happy Thursday and Happy Running peeps!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Firday Update

This week went by quick!  And all of a sudden I realized I hadn't posted since Monday!  Sorry!  Time flies when you're busy! 

I've also been really stuck inside my head.  Meaning, I have been really caught up in all my thoughts about my running and my upcoming races.  I've shared on here numerous times in the past that I had my doubts about Long Beach.  I haven't been able to wrap my head around what I really wanted to accomplish.  I do want to BQ again.  I do want to race well.  But my heart hasn't been in it and it's been playing games with me.  I had told myself I wouldn't make any decisions until after Lake Tahoe - my favorite race of the year.  And at Tahoe I was able to meet my goals.  I figured that would be enough for me.  I could cross the year off as a success.  But when I got home, I wasn't so sure I was done, but I also wasn't so sure I was ready to tackle another big "A" race.

All year Long Beach has been my big goal.  I have big plans next year and in a way this would be my going out party - hopefully on a high note.  I race a lot during the year, as I am sure you can see by my cute little side bar to the right.  And maybe that is the problem - I could be a bit burned out, which is exactly what happened last year.  I don't think though that that is the problem.  I think that I have let those little doubt demons into my head way too much.  As anyone who has ever dreamed of BQing knows that it's a big deal.  A lot of work and time and energy goes into crossing the finish line with a time that takes you to Beantown.  It isn't easy.  It's hard to put all the hard work of training in and then not see you meet your goal.  I guess in a way, I'm afraid to fail.  There, I said it.

We all put our own pressures on ourselves with our running.  We do it for us at the end of the day.  No one is breathing down our necks telling us we have to hit certain times or paces, no one but ourselves.  When you work hard all year and put in all the time and energy you do have a fear that maybe...it wasn't good enough.  I have hit all my planed runs, paces and times - for the most part.  I may have skipped a few runs but nothing that should keep me from hitting my goal.  But for the last couple of months, I just haven't been able to believe in myself.  I haven't been able to say, "I got this in the bag."  I feel like I had lost my fire.

All week I have been going back and forth with what to do.  I even contemplated adding one more full at the end of the season as a "just in case" race.  But you know what?  I don't want a "just in case" race, I want my goal race to be the race.  I talked it over with my good friend Jill and of course, my biggest supporter, the hubbs.  Both believe in me and it wasn't until yesterday that I put on my big girl pants and said, I can do this!

It has taken me a long time to get here.  I had a great tack workout yesterday.  It wasn't planned, but I just didn't feel like going out and running a full 10 yesterday which was on the schedule and with the weather so perfect the hubbs and I went to the track instead.  I did 8x800's and nailed every single one.  I'm not sure if I have shared my biggest goal for Long Beach, but I would really, really, really love to shoot for a low 3:30.  All my training is pointing to it.  So, thanks to Yasso 800's, I should be doing my 800's at 3:30.  Again, all training cycle I have been hitting the paces - but each time I always told myself it was just a fluke.  Until yesterday, when the hubbs was out there with the stop watch.  I actually was hitting them each time, and usually faster!  I finished my 8x800's with an average of 3:22 - way above where I needed to be.  And that my friends, sealed the deal for me.

The hubbs and I talked a long time after we got home.  My biggest fear is the fact that he won't be able to come and ride with me.  He won't be at the finish line for me.  He won't be back at the hotel to help me pull on my compression socks when I'm too tired to do it myself.  I was afraid I couldn't do it without him.  All of that went out the window yesterday.  All of those doubts were erased.  Sometimes we need that good workout to remind us we really do have it in us - we just need to get out of our own way.

I feel really good today.  I finally made a decision and I'm at peace with it.  I'm going to toe the line in Long Beach with every intention of coming home with another BQ.  I have wanted it so badly but didn't give myself the courage to say I could get it.  I have a plan.  I have some ideas.  Yesterday I ordered some pace bands from an awesome company called Races2Remember.com  They let you pick out 3 goal times you want to aim for, then you pick the type of race you want to race and they print it on a pace band for you.  You can either shoot for even splits; warm up -where you run a bit slower in the beginning, bank some time in the middle miles then shoot for you goal pace at the end; or a modified warm up with a few less slower miles in the beginning.  I'm hoping this will keep me on track.  I also was reminded by the hubbs yesterday that I could use the pace group!  Why didn't I think of that!?  With a plan and my goals all set I just need to keep my head in the game.

I hate taper - yes, we all do.  But I REALLY hate tapering.  I'm just not good at it.  I run almost every day - at least 6 days a week.  And each run I give it my all, following my plan and paces.  So when my scale back week comes to taper, I go nuts.  Yes, I know we all have the same problem with taper, but I hate it with a passion.  That is going to be my biggest obstacle next week.  Keeping my legs fresh with out letting my mind get the best of me.  I have put the time and work in now it's time to take my victory lap at Long Beach.  I guess I'm also a bit sad that after this, I won't have anything big on the calendar until next year.  No more big races to be aiming for.  And this training junkie doesn't do well with out some good goal races.  I love to train.  I love to dangle that carrot in front of me that is a big race.  I guess I'll just have to focus on some more smaller races and hope that I will be basking in the glow of another BQ.

Thanks to all of you for all your encouraging words this last week with my race in San Jose.  And for all the encouragement this training cycle.  I couldn't have done it without all of you.  I love to read where you are all at with your own training and life.  I love to pay it forward and remind all of you how awesome you're doing.  I often forget to recognize that I too, am doing the hard work.  So thank you, you guys are awesome ;)  My plans for the weekend include getting one more decent long run in and then letting the taper begin.  I've been riding with Doug all week and running as usual.  Nothing exciting.  I should round out the week with about 55 miles - perfect amount to send me into a decent taper.

I'm off to catch up with all of you!  Good luck to all of you racing this weekend!  Especially Tara, Angela, FL, Paige, Marcia, Spike and the rest of you!!! Congrats! Run strong, run fast and have fun!
Happy Friday and Happy Running peeps!
P.S.  Go on over and wish my girl Katie a  big Happy Birthday!  Happy Birthday girlie!  Welcome to your 30's!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Race Report: San Jose Rock 'N Roll Half Marathon

I think that, as veterans, we often forget that we are so lucky that from one day to the next, we can decide on a whim to go out an run a half marathon.  I know I'm guilty of this.  Some of you may be just starting out, but trust me, get a few under your belt and you will say, "half marathon tomorrow?  No problem!"  Being fortunate for my ability and good health was very apparent yesterday for me.  I often don't have very positive words when it comes to describing the Rock 'N Roll Running Series.  They are big.  They are expensive.  They are just too flashy.  But you know what?  All of that has some great benefits.  And I ate my words yesterday.  They are so big that they have the race down to a science.  The money you pay really does offer up some great schwag, great water stops, great course support and countless other amenities that are often forgotten on smaller, more local races.  And....and here's the end: they get people out running/walking/exercising who might not otherwise participate in this type of event.  They break down the barriers and stigma of an elite attitude that can come among runners and athletes, and cater to everyone - including the people who run/walk a 3+ hour half marathon.

My plan yesterday was to pace my good friend Kristen to her first sub 2 half marathon.  I had scored my bib for the race from my cousin Sarah who had something come up at the last minute.  I was honored to be pacing her!  She is a strong runner and triathlete and a fun to run with!  Sunday morning we both met up with her Fleet Feet group to take some pics and head to the corrals together. 
Kristen and me before the start

I was seated in corral 8, while Kristen and her friends were in corral 6.  No biggie.  I would either catch up with you or sneak my way up to corral 6.  After I entered into corral 8, I saw that it was super easy to get to the front of the race just by walking straight up!  When I got to corral 6 we had just about 10 minutes before the start.  This is the first time in a long time where I was not nervous for a race.  Usually, even the day before, I'm a ball of nerves.  But this time, with the pressure off, I was able to sleep well, eat well, practice all my pre-race stuff without a queasy stomach.  So, even with less than 10 minutes to the start, I was feeling good - and in a way, feeling sorry for all the peeps around me who probably had that nervous tummy since Friday!

I waited and waited for Kristen!  And like I said before, this race is so big, it's easy to loose people!  Without seeing her in the corral, the gun went off and I found myself racing along.  I had no idea where we lost each other, but I also knew I couldn't just stop - I'd get trampled by 13,000+ runners!  In that split second, I decided to push on and make it a race for me!  I hadn't thought about a plan at all!  I hadn't even thought I would race it all week!  My mind went a million miles an hour that first mile, trying to decide what I should do.  By about the half mile mark I decided to use it as a great way to practice my MP goal.  Genius!  Water stops, cheering crowd, great weather and a chance to really feel MP in the throws of a race.

Okay, not to bring up the size of the race again, but that first mile or so was sooo crowded!  They do not pay attention to where they place people in the corrals.  You have walkers starting way to close to the front, or people for their first race starting way to far in the front and just don't know race etiquette.  Needless to say, I did a lot of dodging that first mile.  Surprisingly though, my legs felt great.  They felt strong and fresh and I just hopped I could hold onto it.
mile 1 - 8:35 (lots of dodging)
mile 2 - 7:59 (perfect, right where I need to be!)
mile 3 - 7:59 (nice!)

I carried my little handheld and just plugged along.  I remember parts of the race, but really it kind-of felt like a blur.  The race is promoted as being flat and fast, and really, in the grand scheme of things, it is flat and fast.  This area is also the area that I grew up in.  So I know I didn't take in the sights and everything in detail as maybe someone who had never been there before.  It is really pretty, it winds through Japantown, through the University sections and through some really pretty neighborhoods like the Rosegarden.  Everyone came out to cheer, too!  The excitement was really high!  The weather though, was muggy!  Such strange weather for San Jose!  And it even sprinkled on us in the first couple of miles - again, weird for us. 
mile 4 - 8:06 (pay attention Katie! pick it up!)
mile 5 - 7:57 (much better!)

The weather, like I said, was muggy.  I was sweating like crazy.  And I was thirsty!  I had taken one salt pill before the race and was drinking my Nunn all the way through.  But I got really thirsty in here.  I don't think I had ever been that thirsty in a race that soon before.  I kept plugging along and around mile 6 I saw Meb!  Meb ran this last year and set a course record and then went on just a few weeks later to win NYC!  At the mile 6 marker, you have the mile 11 winding backing in and on it's way back to downtown.  He was way out in front and looking strong.  And just after mile 6, you have your first little down-hill than up-hill.  It goes under a freeway overpass and spits you back out on to flat ground.  I had forgotten about this but tried to use the downhill to my advantage.
mile 6 - 8:04 (I think I hit the 10K around 50 mins)

After mile 6 I was plugging along and just tuning everything out and running.  Let me tell you people: NOT a good idea.  I was so certain of my race and pace that I tuned out completely.  And this is evident by my mile 7 time - lesson learned - keep track of your pace and your mind during a race!
mile 7 - 8:23 (hello! wake up Katie!)
mile 8 - 8:01 (much better, but you have some ground to make up)

By mile 8 I was soooo thirsty and my handheld just wasn't doing it for me.  I was sweating like crazy.  Everyone around me was a mess.  The muggy, unseasonable weather I think, threw everyone off guard.  I needed something else and couldn't wait for the next water stop.  My plan at the next stop was to just grab some water and keep running.  Well, as you will see, my plan didn't go through so well.  I had taken my shirt off before the end of mile 1 (LOL!) and had it tucked into my spibelt.  During the water stop, it fell out :(  I had to stop completely, back up and pick it up!  Oh well, I got two cups of water and ran on.
mile 9 - 8:33 (damn shirt!)
mile 10 - 8:10

After that stop it was hard to find my legs again.  I had come to a complete stop and that is hard to jump back from.  I was also getting really tired.  I couldn't imagine why though.  I wasn't pushing myself too hard, but I was fatigued and my legs weren't turning over as fast as before.  Hmmm....what is up!?  Oh yeah, I remembered, I ran a MARATHON last week!  No wonder my legs are a bit tired.  All week my legs felt fresh and not sore in the least.  But I also hadn't pushed myself and kept the mileage low.  Now I was asking them to race? At MP?  Yeah, no wonder I was tired!
mile 11 - 8:04 (there we go, that's better!)
mile 12 - 8:23 (hunh?)

It was around mile 11 I had been trying to do math in my head again - bad idea.  I was hoping to come in at 1:45 which would have been MP for me.  But with the first mile that was slower and then the couple in the middle, I knew I didn't have the 1:45.  But I could at least come in sub 1:48 - my nemesis half mary time.  When I saw mile 12 was so slow, I put my head down and ran.  I don't know where the energy came from, but I shot off.  I was passing a ton of peeps and just wanted to be done!!!
mile 13 - 7:48 - whoo hoo! 

My watch at mile 13 said something like 1:46:xx so I sprinted to the finish - practicing my finishing kick.  I crossed the line in 1:47:05 - and I was pleased.  And I was thirsty!  I couldn't down a bottle of water fast enough!  I was covered in salt and just plan drained.  I didn't GU or eat anything out there but I don't think that was the whole problem.  I obviously didn't drink enough either.  I need to work on this!

The good thing about Rock 'N Roll Races is that they have plenty of everything.  They don't hold back.  I walked through the water stations at the end three times, downing two bottles of water and then grabbing a third to walk and drink.  I had no appetite though, so the food I just left.  Everyone in my family was busy this Sunday morning (including the hubbs!) so after I grabbed my gear bag I headed home on the train.  I was sad I didn't get to run and race with Kristen and I'm sad I didn't see her at the end!  That is all the result of such a big field.  But I was glad to head home and shower!  I felt bad for anyone sitting on the train next to me!

The cute medal!

I think I ran the race as best as I could after a full marathon the weekend before.  I enjoyed myself, I ran pretty smart (except for the hydrating and eating part!) and was able to pick it up when I had to.  I'm still in the dark about what I want to do for Long Beach.  I think I will take the week to figure it out.  I ended the week with 38.6 miles - I haven't had so few miles since the beginning of the summer!  But it was a great cut-back week coming off the marathon and I think it did my legs some real good.  Again, I wasn't sore or tired all week and even today my legs feel great.  I'm hopping they stay that way for Long Beach!

I think this race changed my mind about the Rock 'N Roll Series of races.  I think you get your moneys worth.  I may not make one a destination race, but I will definitely not avoid it just because it is a RNR race.  They did a great job, brought out people who might not otherwise run and made it a great race day.

I'm off to catch up with all of you!  One week to Chi-town!  Two weeks to Long Beach!  So much going on!
Happy Monday and Happy Running peeps!