Let the running begin (again!)

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I fell off the wagon a bit on my initial racing plan for 2014 – we only did 2 of the 4 Foxy Racing Trail runs. I did have fun doing that new 10k event right in my backyard in September, but I’ve otherwise been only fitting in runs to keep from becoming a full on sloth again (let’s just say that all that travel made it hard to put together a routine, as did the long, hot, humid summer). Anyhow, I am sticking with my plan to do the 2nd Annual Holiday Half Marathon. The first one went so well that I thought I would go for it again. Besides, training now should be 1000 times easier than it was last year given that Alex was still here and I was still volunteering with the football team.

So here’s my training plan again – using Hal Higdon again but this time stepping up to the Novice 2 plan:

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That was how I knew I had to do 6 miles while I was in Albuquerque 🙂

I actually enjoy doing these gradually longer runs on the weekends. That’s when we discover or re-discover trails that we love and go further on them than we normally would. I especially love running after our first ever overnight rain in months! There was steam coming off of everything at San Elijo on Sunday morning as we did 7 miles. The air was so clean and the surfaces were nicely packed and the smells of the freshly washed foliage seemed more intense. Of course, it’s even better when you can slug through those long runs with friends!

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Now with the time change, the fun part begins. Those mid-week runs? Those will have to be before work now. And we all know how much I love early mornings (not even a little!). Ah well, all in the name of fitness & health and personal challenges.

They race is again just before NYE so a week before my birthday. I figured I should hit 50 running, right?

Back to racing!

Sunrise at Ventura Cove
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No, not me – my friends 🙂

OK, so I did do a super hilly mainly single track trail 10k a couple of weeks ago that was in a canyon right behind the high school. My ankles might still be sore from all the bracing I had to do to keep my footing going up and down those hills!

And yes, I did sign up to do the Holiday Half Marathon again the end of December. Oh, and I did meet my goal of running 500 miles in a year (Here’s my Nike+ app results taken on Sunday – I downloaded the app on Oct 1 last year):

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However…..Renee is now coaching some new clients/friends and they are participating in their first sprint distance triathlon in a couple of weeks. I tagged along as they did a run through of swimming/biking/running and the transitions in between. That’s how I got in the last 4.2 miles I needed to hit 500 for the year 🙂 After what has been a BRUTALLY hot and humid summer, they thankfully chose a very lovely Sunday morning for this and I really enjoyed getting some pictures of the bay and the birds.

I Don’t Care What I’ve Been Told….

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(I don’t care what I’ve been told)

Some damn snakes are really bold

(Some damn snakes are really bold)

Keep your eyes trained on the ground

(Keep your eyes trained on the ground)

Because they do not make a sound

(Because they do not make a sound)

SOUND OFF

One, Two

SOUND OFF

Three, Four

Shadow, Stick, or Snake?

Beware!

(apologies to Marines everywhere for this weak adaptation, but you gotta do what you gotta do to stay alert, stay alive!)

RUN May4

 

After two instances of the Shadow, Stick or Snake game coming up SNAKE, I suddenly understood why the Marines might be singing when they run. Yes, the cadence helps keep you going, but as a bonus, the level of noise would make snakes scatter a little more quickly. As opposed to simply being stretched out across the full length of the trail, soaking up the sun in a relaxed pose, with no intention of moving at all causing a lone runner to come to a complete and rather abrupt halt as her brain registers “SNAKE!” and her iphone blurts out “pausing workout.”. Damn straight I’m pausing my workout Nike+! Of course, neither snake felt like having their photo taken so they did meander off after a moment.

That was anything BUT a lazy Sunday run 🙂

 

Hot Chocolate 5K, Grand Canyon and college visit plans

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My running events this year are focused more on being a running companion to other friends trying to restart or maintain their own running goals and I since I know how much I appreciated all the help that Renee and Eve gave me in my first year or two, I thought it would be fun this year to pay it forward.

So the first race on the calendar was this past Sunday and we were all mostly doing it for the goodie bag 🙂 A coworker whose very first race ever was the Holiday 1/2 (who *starts* with a half?!) wants to keep up her running at least at the 5k distance, but she was a bit bummed that she was running alone that first time. So even though the rest of us who signed up would normally run faster than her, we all agreed we would run as a group at her pace and keep her going and cross the finish line together.

May I just confess now that I am deeply thankful that I was forced to run that race slow? My gawd it was a massive uphill party! I am not entirely certain how we could have run UP so much and yet somehow not even run downhill the same distance? Ok, I know that is impossible, but what happened was that the uphill portions were mostly these short blocks, then it would level off or *maybe* go down a bit at the next block, and then it was up again. There was, of course, one long downhill, but then there was yet another UP block! Point is, this course was hard and not built for speed in a shape, form or fashion. It was all downtown around Petco Park which was cool, and the staging area was very well done. It was also packed with thousands of runners between the 5k and 15k distances. I am not sure if I would want to do this event again, but it was fun to do once.

We got a really nice hoodie instead of the usual t-shirt. Excellent addition to my cold weather running gear.

We got a really nice hoodie instead of the usual t-shirt. Excellent addition to my cold weather running gear.

The absolutely packed start. Those are marshmallow shaped bouncy balls up ahead. Get it? Hot Chocolate - Marshmallows? Hah!

The absolutely packed start. Those are marshmallow shaped bouncy balls up ahead. Get it? Hot Chocolate – Marshmallows? Hah!

My co-workers' photo montage from the morning. Yes, we received a hot chocolate + fondue bowl at the end.

My co-workers’ photo montage from the morning. Yes, we received a hot chocolate + fondue bowl at the end.

Next up is the Foxy Trail 5K at Lake Hodges on April 6th. Looking forward to getting off the road and back out on the dirt!

So – what’s been dominating my brain when I am not working or watching 17 play rugby? Road trip! OK, actually, lots of trips. Potentially 6 in the next 7 months. Three will be to the University of New Mexico (initial visit, orientation, drop off for fall), then a trip to the Rugby Nationals event, and Netroots Nation and August Moms. Yeah, I don’t know how I am pulling all that off either!! Southwest Air FF miles will pile up for sure – along with a heavy reliance on AAA discounts at hotels.

The first is that initial visit to UNM. I’m renting a car to make it a cheaper road trip since we have the luxury of time with 17’s spring break. We will also spend a day at the south rim of the Grand Canyon which will be a first for both of us. I think we are both most excited about that 🙂 Our plan is to spend a day hiking for sure (after sitting the car all day, we will need that!) and hopefully hit some of the major viewpoints either by car or on our hike.

At UNM we have a tour scheduled and then a visit with the rugby coach there. It’s going to be a bit of a whirlwind of course, but it will also make this whole transition to college more of a reality (yikes!)

If anyone has recommendations on how best to spend the daylight hours at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon – please do share!

 

U-T 10/20 – First race of 2014

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But first:

2014 Varsity So Cal Champs

2014 Varsity So Cal Champs

Saturday there was a quite the tense rugby match. Alex never got on the field, and he did not care. They won 13-9 against a team from Long Beach who had won at this level the last 2 years. The starters played nearly all 70 minutes, and it showed. Both teams were so gassed by the end that the last 15 minutes of the 2nd half were basically played within a 30 yard box. One team or the other would gain possession, and then the other would hold them to just a few small advances and then it would switch again. Back and forth. Tense! If they had scored, with only the 4 point lead, the try would have been worth 5 and the victory. The players on the sideline (including mine) became cheerleaders imploring the home crowd to make noise and help to will the tired players to keep holding the line. It was exhausting to watch!

They get a week off to celebrate, and then the season switches to a club league when they will be no longer affiliated with any high school, but will formally become the San Diego Mustangs U18 team. The new adventure continues.

Pre-race, or as Renee put it, before the torture.

Pre-race, or as Renee put it, before the torture.

Since Renee is in Boston Marathon training, she needed to run this full speed. I wanted to finish in 1 hour 45 mins which is right at a 10:30 min mile pace. Since I hadn’t been able to keep up full time training like I did before the 1/2 marathon, I didn’t want to push it to a 10 min mile pace. I was also unsure how many people would be there or of the exact route like I was with the 1/2. As with the Holiday Half, I now know that I can make just a small change here and there and run this route faster if I wanted to. Anyhow…

Foggy start towards the middle of the pack.

Foggy start towards the middle of the pack.

First mistake was that I didn’t anticipate the crowd. Over 3000 runners! I really should have been up in group 6 (the start of our bib # was supposed to line up with our anticipated pace). But, I went back to group 9 to meet my friend Jan who was also running it. I know how hard it is to find people after the race, so I wanted to say hello to her at the start. We chatted, and I decided to just start off with her. I am not sure that being up in the #6 pen would have been THAT much better, but certainly the pace of my first mile was severely hampered by the crowd. In order to get us the full 10 miles they had to start off my winding up through the back areas of the racetrack & stables. We ended up on dirt/mud through the stable hands housing units and generally more bunched up than we would be on the roads. I probably didn’t get myself up to my more comfortable running stride/pace until we had passed the Mile 1 marker and were out on the (closed) roads heading towards the coast highway (also closed).

Now, the lure of this race was 1) getting to run on the coast highway through Solana Beach to Cardiff and 2) having 20 live bands playing all along the route. And it was a lot of fun. There was rarely a point when I couldn’t hear the music, the weather was perfect. The sun broke through early, but then clouds (not fog) rolled back in to keep it cool and breezy. We ran right along the ocean for a portion, and while there were some hills, they were quite gentle. It ended up being a VERY fast route. It was also filled with some VERY fast runners! I had barely passed Mile 3 when the first of the elite runners came zipping past on the other side of the road heading back to the finish line. Seriously, the first guy ran those 10 miles in 48 minutes! What?!! Yeah that was crazy, but it was some added distraction/entertainment to watch for the fast runners going by. Somewhere towards Mile 5 Renee passed me, and we cheered each other on. It’s great when a longer race has those kinds of things to keep from getting too mentally bored/tired. And yet, I was feeling pretty drag ass around Mile 8. I had saved my last of 4 goo packs for that segment, and I tore into it hoping for some spark of energy. I had NO idea how fast I was going at all as I had turned on my Nike+ but then put the phone in my pack. I peeked once around Mile 5, but that was pretty useless since I had also started it just after I took that foggy photo, and it was running for a good 5 minutes or so before I actually started running. Still, it showed that I had run the 5 miles in under 55 minutes after I subtracted that lead time so I was still hopeful of making the 1:45 target.

Checking to make sure my heart didn't bail out after crossing the finish line at a dead sprint.

Checking to make sure my heart didn’t bail out after crossing the finish line at a dead sprint.

With still no clue of my time, I was determined anyway to cross the finish line sprinting. I just needed a reason. I had already picked off other runners who had been in front of me or around me the whole route. They had us winding around the fairgrounds again to snake us back to the same place we had started, so I knew we would have a long, straight run down the midway to the finish line. Just a little bit after we turned onto that, I spotted a girl to my left who was picking up her pace, so I picked up mine. Then she started sprinting, so I did too. I *think* she crossed about a tick ahead of me, or perhaps we ran across together. All I know is that I was running at a full sprint at the end of a ten mile run, and I actually felt pretty darn good! Hence, the smile even though I was trying to catch my breath. Also, it paid off:UT 1020c

FOUR seconds to spare! Shout out to the runner in the magenta running top who pushed me to get under that 1:45 mark 🙂

Look at that though! 125th in my age group?! Damn, that’s a lot of fast runners. In fact, Renee was one of those since she is in my group, and she finished at 1:20 (8.03 min miles). That was only good enough for 17th! The winner in our age group finished in 1:11 – as Renee put it “a lot of fast old ladies!”

What I learned is that next time I would put myself up closer to the front – Renee was in bin #2, and she said it was not that crowded getting out of the racetrack. I think if I place myself just behind those faster runners that I could get out of that first mile in something closer to my normal pace and been able to finish closer to 1:40 than 1:45. Not that it mattered, since we still got a post race beer:

UT 1020dAnd, even better, band number 21 for the day was a post race concert right there in the beer garden with former Eagle Don Felder performing a bunch of old Eagles tunes! His band was GREAT too – they had all the harmonies down beautifully and since we were able to position ourselves right up front, we got to dance and sing along and see the magic happen.

UT 1020 This is another event that I would love to do again.

 

 

 

2014 Race Plans

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We interrupt this writing hiatus* to post the races that I’ve settled on for this year. The first one is coming up in a few weeks and was on my radar last year because it’s totally local, largely flat and involves tons of music:

Run 10_20I’ve been back out on the trails on Sundays the last two weeks running 5.6 and then 6.6 miles respectively, and I know that the 10 mile distance wont be a problem at all. This next one is a series of progressively longer trail runs capping off with a 1/2 marathon at the end:

Dirt Devil RacingI’ll also aim to do the 2nd annual Holiday Half Marathon to cap off the year. I’m debating also adding in the Hot Chocolate 5k just because it is around Petco Park downtown in March and comes with a truly awesome fleece pullover (yes, you can temp me with cool giveaways!)

* The hiatus has been unintentional. Just nothing much to write about which can be a good thing since it means life is generally peaceful and boring. Which it has been. Though jury duty was almost a Thing. When I get done with my taxes I might post about that 🙂