Monday, January 26, 2009

Carlsbad Half Marathon Race Report

This Sunday, I kicked off the season with the first race of 2009. I hadn't really trained for it (gulp). Since when do I not take a half marathon seriously? My lack of anxiety about the whole thing made me...well, anxious. The 2008 season had really taken its toll on me. After my marathon in October, I was pooped. I only recently started training in earnest again. Then, the weekend of my critical 12-mile training run, I got a nasty cold and was bed-ridden for a week. I hadn't gotten all the long runs under my belt that I desired as I lined up on the start line. However, I had managed a couple of 8s and 10-milers. I knew I could eke out the distance. I decided to use the half marathon as a really kick-ass training run. The plan was to run conservatively and have fun.

Of course, the Mexican food, donut, chocolate crossaint, Red Vines, and chocolate the night before, combined with my sensitive stomach, gave me an extra challenge. Upon waking on race morning, I popped an antacid, 2 Gas-X, and 1/2 an Immodium. My stomach was not in the best of shape as I waited in line for the Port-a-Potty. I watched masses of male competitors jog up the wooded hill by the start to take a piss. Either they didn't know we could all see them, or they simply didn't care. Either way, it made me angry. I can't do that! Disgusting!

I met up with my running buddies and we lined up in the chute. The gun went off, we crossed the start line, and I started my GPS (Brent teases me that I can't run without the thing now). The plan was to run the whole thing extra conservatively. We started off comfortably at 10 min/miles. I wasn't even breaking a sweat. But I was extra stiff from a tough Spinervals DVD we had done on Friday ("the Sprinting Machine"--maybe not such a good idea 48 hours before a race). It felt good to go easy and loosen up. The rest of our running group pulled away. Brent dutifully stayed by my side. I let our group go. Wow, they were running fast! Oh, well.

The miles flew by as I chatted to Brent and encouraged runners alongside of me. My stomach didn't feel so good. It was chugging and churning. There wasn't much I could do about it. I didn't want to stop and go to the bathroom. I just wanted to finish the race and get it over with. By now, I've run with an upset stomach enough to be able to ignore it, and I chose to do so in this race as much as I could.

About mile 3, I saw the pace group for 2:10. 2:10? We were running 9:45 min/miles now. Weren't we going to be faster than 2:10? I realized the pace group had started in a wave before us but suddenly my competitive switch got flipped. I picked up the pace slightly. We soon passed them. About mile 5, my focus drifted. Brent noticed the 2:10 group creeping up on us. Oops! I picked up the pace again. The volunteers were handing out Gu, water, sports drink, and sticks of vaseline at the aid stations. I almost grabbed the stick and ate it. It looked temptingly like sherbert. Mmmmm. Sherbert ice cream. I had the weirdest craving for sherbert ice cream.

We reached the turn-around. A nice, steep downhill stretched out ahead of us. I mumbled something to Brent about making up some time. I guess he didn't hear me. I took off on the downhill. My pace went from 10 min/miles to 8 min/miles in a flash. And it felt sooooo good. I didn't want to stop. All those track practices we've been doing paid off. I felt my tempo increase, my breathing picked up, and I just went with it. I forgot to look back for Brent. I honestly thought he was right by my side. I had made this big stink about how we were going to run conservatively the whole way together, and then I took off, leaving him, without warning about 1/2 mile behind. Oops.

I saw our running group about 1/2 mile in the distance. I worked my ass off the next mile to catch them. They were mildly surprised to see me. I was all amped up now and began pushing their pace. Brent caught up to me. I started talking smack.
"I thought we were going to run together."
"I was giving you a challenge."
"You just took off. You didn't even wait!"
"I knew you could catch up."
"No, you didn't. What happened to running together?"
"Well, I have to run with people faster than me if I want to push myself."

Ouch! At this, he began to push the pace. I had to bust my ass to stay with him. I guess you gotta walk the walk if you're going to talk the talk. Now, I was wheezing, gasping for air, as I struggled to keep up with him. The 8 min/miles were killing me. We passed mile 9. I dropped back and ran with Lauren from our group for a bit, catching my breath. My legs were burning and my heart was pounding but I felt soooo good. Oddly enough, all the aches and pains had disappeared from my hips and knees. A total adrenaline/endorphin rush. I was totally high. My stomach didn't hurt at all. I knew if I stopped or slowed, my stomach would cramp up again. It was a weird motivation to keep going, to get this thing over with as fast as possible so I could make it to the Port-a-John without an embarrassing accident.

We passed mile 10, and I began pushing the pace again. Only a 5k to go. I can always run a 5k. I glanced at my watch. Could I break 2 hours? It was going to be close. I caught up to Brent again.
"I can't keep up with you."
"Yeah, right. You're the one who took off." He smiled at me, always the good sport. "C'mon," he said. "We have to catch that girl up there."
"Why?" I wheezed. "I don't know her. What do I care?"
"It's about the challenge," another woman listening in commented behind us.
I winked at her. "As long as I beat him, I don't care," I said pointing at Brent. She laughed. At this, Brent took off again. What is wrong with me?! Why can't I keep my mouth shut?

I noticed the miles were getting longer and longer. It was taking every ounce of concentration and focus to maintain my pace. I would slow up, speed up, slow up, speed up, passing the same runners again and again like the annoying car on the freeway that keeps passing you and then decreasing speed repeatedly. I couldn't help it. I was running on empty.

At mile 11, I checked my watch. I was going to be sooo close to breaking 2 hours. But I knew I couldn't run 2 more miles at a sub-8 pace. I would do my best. At every little incline, I worked as hard as I could to reach the top. Every downhill, I surged full speed ahead, destroying my quads as I scampered down. The last mile was full of rollers. Spectators began crowding the sidelines. Only 1/2 mile to go. 1-and-a-half laps around the track. It seemed like an eternity. We reached the chute, finally. For the first time, ever, I didn't have a final kick. I went as fast as I could across the finish.

Race Results:
9:17 min/mi

I just missed the 2-hour mark but I was very happy with the results. With very little training, I was able to finish strong. I had a fantastic time. Plus, I negative split the race (maybe I could have gone a little faster at the beginning, eh?), and I beat my previous time from 2007! It felt great to put it all on the line and go 100% the 2nd half, something I almost never do. There's something very cathartic about running as hard as you can for as long as you can until your legs ache and your lungs burn. You truly are living in the moment at that instance, step by step. There is only each footfall. There is nothing else. That is why I love to go hard.

2007 Carlsbad Half Marathon Race Report

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Working Out Again

I've been trying to be content with only 1 workout a day but it never seems like enough. Is it normal to see the contestants on Biggest Loser puking, falling down, and almost dying from the "Last Chance" workout and feel envious? Even though I just did a Sufferama Spinerval DVD? Anyway, it feels good to be getting back into it again. I just can't wait until I'm in shape enough to be doing hilly centuries.

On Monday, I showed up for master's swimming at UCSD. It was Martin Luther King day so we did the "I Have a Dream" workout: 40x100 on base. I managed 30x100 after a 300 warm-up. That's the most I've gone in a long time! It was also the 4-year anniversary of George's (my late horse) death so I dedicated the workout to him. The first 10 100s were agonizing. Sets 15-20 felt awesome. I hit my stride and began shaving time off the clock. The last 10 were excruciating but somehow, I got through it.

Tuesday, we were supposed to do a track workout with Alec, in preparation for his big 1-mile kids race in Carlsbad on Saturday. It ended up getting late and dark (and there was a soccer game in the field at the track). Using my GPS and lights on the sidewalk, Brent, Alec, and I set off. We jogged 1/2 mile (uphill) and then turned around and headed back. Alec had his best run ever! He didn't even stop for a walk break! That kid will be outrunning me before I know it.

After dinner, I forced myself onto the trainer for a spin workout. I am so proud of myself! Yes, after dinner while Brent and Alec showered and padded about in pj's, I dragged out the trainer and dripped sweat on the carpet. It was a kick-ass workout too!
Spin 3:00 (small-15)
3x:30 spin-ups (big-15) with :30 ez spin in between
5x1:00 hard effort in big-18, big-15, big-14, big-13, big-12 (your hardest gear)
ez spin 2:00 (small-15)
5:00 of (:30 seated big-12; :30 recover; :30 standing big-12) Ugh!
ez spin 1:00 (small-15)
super spin (120 rpm or higher) small-15--6x:30 with :30 recover in b/tw (really gets your h.r. up!)
ez spin 1:00
6x (:30 spin up (120 rpm small-15), :10 rest; :10 hard effort seated big-12; :10 hard effort standing big-12; :30 rest)
ez spin 1:00
5:00 race simulation all-out effort (includes hills: big-12 standing :30; downhill: :30 superspin small-15; race effort big-12 seated :30--repeat until 5:00)
cool down: 3:00
Total Time: 45:00

This morning, I almost slept in and skipped my swim. At the last minute, I dragged myself out of bed and to the pool. I was so glad I did. I got in 3,000 yds!
1. 200 free--100 stroke--200 free
2. 200 free--100 kick--200 free
3. 5x100 B-5 (test set; I did 1:30!)
4. 200 free; 3x100 hard kick B+1:00 (Ugh!)
5. 500 aerobic
6. 500 anaerobic threshold (with stroke mixed in)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Easing Back In

After a week of a nasty cold, I was itching to get back to workouts again. I know I jumped back into training too fast. I mean, 4 workouts in 1 day? C'mon. Hence, the cold. Is it possible for me to ease back into it gently? I know I should; why is it so hard to restrain myself?

Saturday, I went for a gentle bike ride on the 56-bike path...solo. I was so tempted to join a group ride but I knew I would push myself too hard and ride too long. It had been over a week since I had been back in the saddle. I kept it to 20, kept it simple, and it was glorious. I felt sooooo good. I jumped out of the saddle for every climb and eagerly tackled the headwind as I pedaled west. I relished the heat emanating from my core, the sweat pouring from my forehead, the burning in my quads, the blinding sun forcing my eyes to squint, even the bumps in the road causing my arse to chafe. It just felt so good. I felt so...alive. Ah, the first ride back.

Sunday, I met a group of running buds for an 8-mile run in Penasquitos Canyon. It was 37-degrees when we started (the high reached 79 later that day). I took it easy on the uphills and enjoyed the quick-foot-shuffle action as I danced over, through, around, and about crevices and rocks on the trails. Trail running is absolutely the best. I quickly fell into a rhythm. My mind quieted and all tension left my body. Running is my meditation. It's when I'm completely at peace. I felt like I could keep running forever. Towards the end, I struggled a bit to ignore the pain in my hips. Afterwards, my knees complained bitterly. "You haven't run in a week and your first run back you do a hilly, rocky 8-mile trail run? WTF!" they whined. "Shhhh," I replied, popping 2 Advil to silence them. They screamed at me again later as I ran 1-mile and walked another with Alec to practice for his 1-mile run next week. "More running? Everyone else is home taking a nap by now, and you're out running more!" Amazingly, my knees felt better as we walked, the soreness working through the joints and out my feet. I had a good nap that afternoon and slept like a baby last night. This morning, I'm sore. Whoops. I guess I could have run forever yesterday but I sure do pay for it the day after!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


A nasty bug sidelined me and dashed my hopes for a perfect week. I spent all weekend in bed while a Santa Ana wind pushed warm desert air into the San Diego area and everyone else enjoyed mid-70-degree weather. Today, I'm slightly better. Well enough to work but not well enough to work out. Woe is me...

Friday, January 09, 2009

Perfect Week

2009 is off to a great start. In my mind, a "perfect week" is when I nail all my planned workouts and cross off everything on my "To Do" lists at work and at home. Obviously, this is pretty hard to achieve. Because I've set the bar so high, I only get ~2-3 perfect weeks a year. However, 1 perfect week=a nirvana-like ecstasy. And the first full week of the new year is shaping up to be....a Perfect Week!!!

I've been knocking out stuff at work every day. Ah, the drudgery. I've gotten things done on my to do list that have been lingering for months, using the energy infused by the new year to my advantage--paid bills, changed litterboxes, cleaned the house, grocery shopped, washed clothes, got the truck an oil change, and even went to the DMV to pick up my new, fangle-dangle plates (FEGRRL)!!! I've also made appointments with the dentist, the doctor, the OB-GYN, and the mammographer for a barrage of check-ups (oh, and the vet for the buns check-ups too). I just love the new year! No excuses!

Finally, I've been sticking to my resolutions! Brent and I have been cooking at home almost every night and swearing off sweets every other day. I love cooking together. We talk and connect and enjoy a nice meal together (no tv). Every other day, if I really, really am craving chocolate, I allow myself a few small pieces (dark with skim milk). I savor it SO much more. First, I do the 20 minute test though. After dinner, I clean up, brush my teeth, and do something else for 20 minutes (read, journal, errands, etc.). If I still want the chocolate after that, I enjoy it, guilt-free (most of the time, I don't want it anymore).

I've also been waking up early to work-out every morning (and going to bed early). It feels SO good to work-out consistently again. Too good. I'm very sore! I need to pull back a little (I've been doing 2-a-days; too soon, too soon!). I woke up this morning and was so sore my hair hurt. Time for a day off!

Recent Workouts:
1. Easy 3 mile run @ 7 am (Brrrr! Cold. But very refreshing way to wake up).
2. Weight session with free weights, mat, and ball at home.
3. Lunchtime Yoga (very relaxing)
4. Aerobic, base-building bike on trainer 45 minutes evening (Aero Base Builder II; Spinervals).
Oops. Was that 4 workouts in 1 day?
1. UCSD masters swim @ 7:30 (Brent went at 6 am; too early for me!). The warm-up was 1200 yds. WTF? My 100s are a consistent 1:50. This swim felt much easier than Monday's. Total distance ~2100 yds. I'm keeping the distance short and sweet during my "Prep" phase.
2. Track workout in pm. 1 mile warm-up, 2 fast 1 mile repeats (supposed to be 3 but running verrry slowly; felt fatigued so cut it short), 1 mile cool-down. The cool-down was the best! I helped Alec train for his 1 mile race (the Carlsbad Keebler Kids 1 Miler (day before Carlsbad 1/2 marathon). We did 4 laps together, running the straight-aways, and walking the curves. Alec did AWESOME!
1. Lunchtime weights at RIMAC (I hit it HARD!)
2. 50 minutes trainer workout ("Sufferama" Spinerval DVD). Just about died.
OFF! (except for stretching and a nap)

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Camp Pendleton International Triathlon--Cancelled!

Yes, it's true. The Camp Pendleton International Triathlon has been cancelled...indefinitely. This was my favorite race of all time. Camp Pendleton Race Directors--you're breaking my heart! I e-mailed the race director (see below for e-mail) to inquire as to why, and he said there was a scheduling conflict. If you feel as strongly as I do, please e-mail the race director at the below address and let him know how much you would like to see this race resurrected in 2010. Perhaps, with our joint efforts, they will bring it back due to popular demand. Thanks!

Camp Pendleton
Race Director
Mr. Anthony Carson

My e-mail:
Dear Camp Pendleton Race Director,
I was extremely disappointed to note that the Camp Pendleton International Triathlon was not scheduled for 2009. Does this mean that this race has been cancelled? May I ask why? This has been my favorite local race for several years and the best international-distance tri, hands-down, by far. Many of my friends agree, and I've noticed this race always sells out. It's well-organized, competitive, affordable, very scenic, and the Marine volunteers, as always, are top-notch. I had decided to make this race an annual celebration for me; it's the only one I enjoy repeating year-after-year. I've done it for the last 3 years in a row and am very sad that this continuity will be broken in 2009. Each year, I've posted a blog report, raving about this race, on my blog (see below). Even though I am training for Ironman Canada in August this year, I still Ironman Canada in August this year, I still rearranged my training schedule to squeeze in Camp Pendleton International, despite the fact that it's not very useful for Ironman training. That's how much I love this race. Please consider resurrecting this race for 2010. Thank you for your consideration.

Camp Pendleton International Tri Race Reports:

His Response:
"Thank you for your interest, comments and concerns about the Camp Pendleton International Triathlon. The decision to not have this event for 2009, was one that was not easily made. True, it is an extremely popular event, attended by race enthusiast from all around the community and country. Due to the logistical and scheduling conflicts, with the Military and the Community within the Military, we had to put the race on the "shelf" for the time yet to be determined. Not making any promises that it will return in the 2010 Hard corps Race Series. But for right now, we have to move in another direction. I would to see you at some of our other events that we have planned for the 2009 Race Series. Once again thank you for your previous participation in our Hard Corps Race Series. Have a very happy and safe New Year."

Monday, January 05, 2009

New Year, New Beginning

2009. A fresh start. And it feels soooo good. I was able to use the rest of the holiday to finish running errands and get everything in order. By the time Monday rolled around, I felt ready to get back to my old routine. In addition, I've been whipping my ass into shape! I gained 5 unwanted lbs in the off-season (too much pumpkin pie); it's time to lose the fat and put on some muscle!

2009 New Year's Resolutions:
1. Don't overdo it.
(There's only so much I can do in one day. Pace myself more and do less each day. Make time to relax each day!)
2. Eat more healthfully.
a. Less sweets and chocolate.
(specifically, 10-day sweet and chocolate "cleanse" (euphemism for *#&!#*^@#!!!! I can't have chocolate). Afterwards, small 200-calorie portion of dessert of my choice every other day.
b. Cook at home more (4-5x/week).
c. Brown bag lunch more (3x/wk).
3. Be more financially savvy.
a. Keep better track of spending and apply it to budget.
b. Use credit card as little as possible, if at all.
c. See 2b and 2c.
4. Wake up earlier.
(I've fallen off the wagon on this. Go to bed 9:30-10 so I can wake up b/tw 5-6:30).
5. Don't sweat the small stuff.
(Life's too short. It's just not worth it).

So far, I've been doing AWESOME on my resolutions. Whoo-hoo!

And I also have a wish for 2009:
2008 was sooo hectic for me. Too much happened. My wish for 2009 is for time to slow down and less things to happen so I have time to look around and smell the roses.

Recent Workout Summary:
1/1 New Year's Day--rode 40 mile Great Western Loop in Jamul. HILLY! Kicked my ass
1/2 Friday--Track workout--did mile repeats as hard as I could. Garmin GPS is a handy tool. 7:42 is a hard effort. I can do 7:20 for 1/2 mile--goal is to do this for 1 mile.
1/3 Saturday--Woke up to ride with TCSD up the coast. It was raining and the roads were wet. Plus, it was overcast and cold (like 50 degrees! Brrr!). I decided there was no reason to ride in the rain in San Diego and opted for the trainer instead. Did 80 min of Spinerval "Timetrialpolooza" DVD and it totally KICKED MY ASS!!!
1/4 Sunday--Joined my running group for a HARD trail run in Rancho Santa Fe. Was sooo beautiful. Did 10 miles but felt like 12.
1/5 Monday--Got back in the pool for 7:30 UCSD Masters swim. Was hard. I'd taken so much time off, I was embarrassed to go. Like they would send me laughing out of the pool. So I didn't go for a few more weeks. Finally got my guts up and braved the waters today. Ugh. Was soooo hard!!! First time back always sucks. Am SO glad I did it! Since when is 2000 yds a long way?

I love working out! I love that sore feeling in my body. Yippee!

Finally, my mom has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Again. The lump is very small and her prognosis is very good. Kind of a stressful Christmas for all of us. Her mastectomy is this Wednesday. I just hope the surgery goes well, they get clean margins, and it hasn't spread to the lymph nodes.

I will leave you with a quote that I really liked from the most recent edition of Runner's World (Marc Parent--"The Newbie Chronicles"):

The road is long, and there are many stories to tell.