Monday, January 23, 2012

2012 Carlsbad Half Marathon Race Report

I decided to do the Carlsbad Half Marathon at the last minute this weekend. I wasn't going to do it. I hadn't trained enough. Plus, I'm signed up for the Wildhorse Half Marathon next weekend. Two in two weekends? It felt like too much. Then, I agreed to let a couple couch surf the night before the race at my place. Afterall, the start was within walking distance of my front door. I knew I wouldn't be able to control the jealousy of watching others benefit from my awesome location without doing it myself. Without much thought, I went and found a bib.

I was a little wary. I hadn't been training. The longest run I logged recently was 8 miles. Furthermore, my week leading up to the race had been a zero week, due to a very hectic work week. I just hoped I could make it to the finish line! I don't remember ever being this undertrained for a half marathon before.

Race morning, I was relieved I had procured a bib. Below my balcony on the street, I watched masses of runners park and file down the sidewalk to the start. I dragged myself out of bed only an hour before the start, knowing I wouldn't have to battle traffic, fight for a parking spot, walk miles to the start, or stand in a long port-a-potty line. Star treatment! It's AWESOME living so close to a primo race!

The gun went off, and I started running for my life. I was seeded in the 2nd wave, and the crowd of speedsters swept me along breathlessly for the first 2 miles. Finally, I slowed and settled into a relaxed pace. It was so hard not to let the adrenaline push me to the max. I reminded myself to take it easy, and just aim on finishing the run. Trying to push it on undertrained legs was too high of a risk for injury. Nonetheless, I was clicking off 9:30s. Not bad for someone who hasn't been doing much!

I found my sweet spot, the pace where I float along above my legs and enjoy the ride. I watched surfers catching the waves, calm and peaceful, juxtaposed the the busy mass of runners toiling down PCH. Crowds of spectators and bands lined the street, cheering, singing, yelling, and urging us on. There were tons of motivational signs (including my favorite, the one that simply read: "Motivational Sign"). I had forgotten how infectious the energy of a large race is, spectators and participants combined. Running the course almost felt like cheating; I simply allowed everyone's energy to fuel my strides.

My hips started hurting at mile 9. Then, a hot spot developed on the ball of my right foot. Then, my calves began to cramp. At first, I scoffed at the aches and pains. I had felt pain much worse many times before. My body knew better than to whine. It started as a mild protest, knowing my legs wouldn't get much sympathy for me, much less mercy. It was only when my stomach started to churn that I begrudgingly slowed. The pain increased and subsided in mysterious waves. It was bearable at slower paces. It was hard to convince myself not to settle into a restrained run. Then, the pacer with the 2:00 sign started to pass me, and a jolt of determination burst through me like a shockwave. Grimacing, I flailed my arms and legs wildly, coaxing them into a faster pace. I knew I couldn't keep it up much longer.

All of a sudden, I was flying down the final hill to the chute. How had I reached the end so quickly? I didn't even remember battling last, dreaded uphill before the finish. How had it snuck by me unnoticed? I sprinted down the hill, blocking the screaming pain in my calves out of my head desperately. I had nothing left when I reached the finish but I felt victorious. An incredible training run, fully supported right out my front door. And lots of motivation and some speed work to boot. Not a bad start to the 2012 race season!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Squeezing in a Swim

First off, I've begun officially doing Yoga again! Our school has a Yoga instructor so I asked if she would be willing to give me a private session after school Monday nights, and she said Yes! What a great way to finish a Monday! I had forgotten how wonderful Yoga feels for the whole body and mind.

This morning, I was supposed to wake up early to go for a swim. The plan was to wake up at 5 am, do my hour commute first, swim up in Mission Viejo (where I work), and then shower, change and go into work. I get home so late, and my planning for the next day takes so long, that I'm lucky to be in bed, lights out by 11:30 each night. I can skimp on sleep twice a week to wake up early but after that, I start to fall apart. There was no way I could get up when the alarm went off at 5. I readily traded the extra 1.5 hours of sleep and moved my workout to the evening.

All day, I was itching for my swim. As soon as my last class was out, I ran out the door and headed down the street to the Mission Viejo Rec Center ( for a swim. $8 to drop in, and the pool is open from 5 am until 8:45 pm. Nice hours! I got to the locker room and realize I had forgotten my cap, goggles, and suit. Doh! My heart sank. I dug around to the bottom of my bag and found a bikini and an old pair of goggles. I could make that work. I had a hard time tying up my hair so I didn't choke on it, and my goggles kept sliding down my head, cutting into my ears, but I made it work. I was going to swim, dammit!

It felt soooo good to jump into the water after a long day of work. So convenient too! Maybe it was the bikini, but the lifeguard, a cute, little teenage boy, kept chatting me up every time I rested on the wall. Questions like, "I haven't seen you here before. How often do you swim here?" It was kind of adoreable and definitely flattering but also a little creepy considering he was the same age as most of my students! I banged out 2400 very slow meters and spent 5 minutes in the hot tub with the jets massaging my sore lower back.

My New Years' resolutions continue to be a success. I love how it's all centered around 1 word: Balance. I've been drinking more water, eating in more, brown bagging lunch, and eating much more healthfully as a result too (not to mention saving a ton of moolah by not eating out). My body is thanking me. I have more energy, and my attitude is very positive. Go Me!

Today's workout:
200 free warm up
3x150 (50 breast-50 free-50 back)
500 free
3x200 free
5x100 free
100 cool down

Monday, January 09, 2012

The Workouts Continue

My workouts are continuing to go well. I've noticed that as the week progresses and the responsibilities of work builds and takes its toll, I get progressively more tired. I've planned Thursdays as my regular rest day to try to compensate for this (I get Fridays off).

Last week started out great with Tuesday kicking off with a 5:30 am run and Wednesday with a solid hour workout on the trainer. Thursday and Friday, I crashed and burned, completely exhausted. Then, I dislocated my jaw. Ugh. It's the 4th time (although it's been 7 years since the las time). I had a ton of oral surgeries when I was a kid. As a result of multiple jaw dislocations during surgery to make my mouth open wider, I now am at risk for dislocating my jaw simply by yawning. Every now and then, I forget to yawn "small" and dislocate it. My jaw gets locked open, i can't swallow, I can't talk, I can't eat or drink, and a visit to the ER is called for. This Friday evening was no different, unfortunately. The agonizing hour-long wait in the waiting room was the worst, as I held my head up by my hands, catching drool with a Kleenex. I used mental toughness drills to block out the pain, learned well from many grueling races. All that suffering comes in handy in day-to-life situations! The doctor and assistant used lots of pushing and pulling, heaving and grunting, and finally cracked it back into place. No more yawning for me!

Saturday evening, I groggily hit the trails (Lake Calaveras in east Carlsbad for a 4-mile run (2 loops around the lake), much to Travis' delight. I finished up with weights. What a great way to spend a Saturday evening!

Sunday, I enjoyed an awesome ~20 miles of mountain trails on a borrowed bike around Lake Hodges ( It had been awhile but I was pleased to see I retained all my skills and could still navigate over rocks, through creeks, and up and down hills. Fun!

This morning, I dragged myself out of bed at 5:15 am to squeeze in a run before work. I did not want to get up. My saving grace was that I had laid out my clothes the night before. It seemed a waste not to use them, and I knew I would feel down all day if I skipped my one chance at a workout. I slipped into my running clothes, gloves, headband, headlamp, and warm-up jacket, braving the dark, early morning cold. Travis didn't seem to mind at all, even though he didn't have the benefit of any warm-up clothes.

I ran briskly, trying to warm-up. Man, it was cold. I know I'm complaining about upper 40s but it always feels coldest right behind the sun rises. I welcomed the long, steep hill I had to toil up right out of the gate. There would be many to follow. Carlsbad is riddled with hills. I felt good, however. I refused to walk, no matter how slowly I jogged, I forced myself to run up each incline.

I reached the ocean and felt so good, I decided to extend my normal 4-miler. Travis has been running better and better. I can see his fitness improve with each of our runs. I hope it's a reflection of mine as well. I paused at the ocean, and turned off the ipod, listening to the deafening pulses of the waves crashing into the sand. In between each wave was a perfect, peaceful stillness with silence so loud, it was all I could hear. During those moments of silence, I could feel my hearbeat and breathing slow, and for those brief moments, my thoughts became still. Even though the stillness was brief, I lived so completely in those moments, that they stretched on endlessly, as Travis and I watched for the next crest of wave emerging from the stillness to repeat the cycle. The swollen full moon glowed brightly in the northern sky as the southeastern horizon became a golden pink with the impending sunrise. I stood there, watching the waves for only a minute or two, but during those precious minutes, I was reminded of why I drag myself out of bed in the cold and the darkness each morning to squeeze in my runs. Those runs are some of the few peaceful moments of my day where I am free of all worries.

I continued on my run, heading back home. It must be getting late; I better hurry if I want to make it to work on time, I reasoned. I turned down a residential street, which wound around, and then turned into another street, and then another. I could see the ocean coming towards me again. Wait a minute. I need to be going east, not west! Suddenly, I hit Tamarack again. I had just added on an extra mile and made a full circle. Not to mention another unnecessary, extra, steep hill. (Never take a road called "Skyline" unless you want to climb). I started booking it, much to Travis' dismay. Not only had I run an extra mile, but the only way back now was the long way home. Time to suck it up. Finally, we made it home, 7.6 miles later. Oops! How did a 4 mile run turn into almost 8? Poor Travis!

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

New Year's Resolutions Underway!

Today is Day 4 of implementing my New Year's resolutions. So far, it's going swimmingly (no pun intended). I've been more balanced, eating healthier, and working out every day. I feel more organized. more positive, and more energetic, despite my sinus infection.

This morning, I was able to successfully wake up at 5:30 am, and I am NOT a morning person! Not to mention that I slept like crap because I can't breathe through my nose. Ugh. Travis was surprised when I woke up and asked, "Run?" Despite his sleepiness, he couldn't resist the three-letter word. His excitment helped me follow as he bounded out of bed. He watched impatiently as I put on my running clothes (I couldn't find my damn cold-weather running tights! Grrr.) and fumbled around for my headlamp. Ick. It was still dark out.

Undeterred, we headed out into the early morning blackness. I braced myself against the cold. Travis didn't seem to mind at all. He seemed to keep up a lot better with me this time. I guess dogs build fitness too. My stomach was churning from the antibiotics for my sinus infection but I ran on. I carefully listened to my body, however, slowing my pace and walking the tough hills, guilt-free. I was just happy to be out of bed and mustering a run, no matter how slowly. Around the turn-around point, the burning in my stomach turned to nausea, and I was forced to walk. I remained totally positive. I felt very alive, and my sinuses had completely opened up. I ran whenever I could and walked when I had to.

My early morning workout paved the way for a successful day. I felt chipper and energetic all day, much to the annoyance of my co-workers. Tomorrow's workout? Hopefully, a bike on the trainer. The bike is all hooked up, the DVD is in the player, and my clothes are laid out. No excuses!

Monday, January 02, 2012

Another Workout Done--Swimming

I've been off today. Some sort of sinus infection, blech. I started the Z-pack tonight. I was VERY tired today. However, it was also my last day of freedom. Tomorrow, I will resume my hectic teaching schedule. I didn't have a fever. I wondered if a workout would make me feel better. I had a swim and bike on the docket. The bike would have been fun but I knew I wasn't up for a double. I really needed to swim. It had been (gulp) 6 weeks. Oops.

I started by taking Travis for a brisk 30 minute walk. He appreciated it, at least. Normally, these walks help me loosen up and make it easier to transition to a workout afterwards. Today, I felt weak and winded. I knew I was under the weather. Yet, I really wanted to swim.

I headed down the street to the local pool. It had closed 5 minutes earlier. Blimey! Undeterred, I found another pool at the Y in Encinitas, using my trusty site "Find a Pool Anywhere in the World!" ( It has yet to let me down.

After getting my bearings at the new pool, I found an empty lane and jumped in. Brrr! I hate that feeling when you first jump in, especially when you're sick! I took off sprinting, trying to warm up. Surprisingly, once I warmed up I settled into a relaxed pace and slowly but surely banged out 2300! I definitely feel better now that I swam. Great workout! Now, I just got to get better and FAST!

My Workout:
200 free warm-up
3x50 (back-free-breast)
Descending Ladder:
(50 breast ez in between)
Cool-down-100 choice

Tomorrow's Challenge: Will I be able to wake up at 5:30 to sneak in a pre-work run tomorrow? I REALLY, REALLY hope so! Stay tuned...

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Working Out on a Low-Energy Day

My plan was to go on a mellow bike ride this morning, down the coast. It was a gorgeous, sunny day, typical of San Diego. After breakfast and coffee, I committed the cardinal sin--I sat on the sofa to "relax" for 10 minutes. This turned into an hour. Which led to a nap. I woke up even more tired than before. Had lunch. Took another nap. It was one of my "low-energy" days. I wasn't depressed, just tired. I'm susceptible to chronic fatigue so I'm always taking notes of the patterns of these days, trying to determine the secret formula to prevent them. It's not as simple as it seems. (Yes, my thyroid and iron and wbc levels are all normal). However, I've learned to be patient on these days, as opposed to getting frustrated at how little I can accomplish.

After waking up for the 3rd time today, and enjoying my 3rd cup of coffee, I glanced at my "To Do" list. Surprisingly, I wasn't that far off. I realized I could at least try and work out. Feeling a slight peak in energy after a bowl of cereal and another cup of coffee, I knew this was my window. I hooked my bike up on the trainer, popped in a Spinerval DVD and hopped on. I was able to bang out 60 minutes on the trainer and follow it up with solid session of weights. I am SUPER proud of myself. I was able to work out despite myself! Plus, I'm hoping that the more and more I get used to motivating myself on low-energy days, the more the high energy days will be there.