Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Holidays!

Hope everyone has a wonderfully relaxing holiday with friends and family! Have an extra piece of pumpkin pie y'all. We've earned it!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Killer Long Ride & Peaceful Long Run

Things are starting to settle down slightly. We are officially moved in. I am closer to turning in my fellowship (I can't wait to turn it in and celebrate). Xmas shopping is over. I didn't really get a whole bunch of working out done this week but by the time the weekend got here, I was ready to throw down for my long ride and run.

Long Ride (Saturday):
It was one of the hardest rides I've ever done. Tour de Julian
was harder but only because I bonked. H-I-L-L-Y!!! And when I wasn't climbing, I was contending with a headwind. This is a good ride to do in the winter because east San Diego isn't hot. We had 3 flats, and were all tired but victorious at the end. I was ecstatic to make it back to the start. There were moments when I had serious doubts. 78 miles, baby! I made it back just in time to shower and change and run to the airport to make my flight.

Long run (Sunday):
Even though I was up north (San Jose, CA) to see my parents, I was still determined to do my long run. I ran 10 miles (5 out, 5 back) on the Los Gatos Creek Trail, a beautiful, scenic east-west, 10-mile paved trail that starts in Los Gatos. I wasn't sure how I'd feel after the killer ride the day before. My quads were shot but I just started putting one foot in front of the other. Pretty quickly, I settled into a pace. It always is easier to get going when it's chilly (mid 50s) since you want to get moving to warm up.

The musky smell of eucalyptus and damp earth filled the air. I smiled at families, runners, walkers, and cyclists, who filled the trail. Everyone gave me cheerful smiles in return, fueling me with positive vibes. I reached Vasona Park in time to catch a glimpse of the little train making a circuit with parents and kids on-board. They smiled and waved. A pair of white ducks nestled happily together on the other bank. The water levels of the reservoir were eerily low; NorCal must be going through a drought. Normally, the creek is a rushing rapid this time of year; today it was a low, lazy trickle. I feasted my eyes on the water fowl--Canandian geese, ducks, coots, cormorants, and egrets. A black cat stalked its unsuspecting prey in the grass, so focused on his task he was completely oblivious to my passing kisses.

I reached the turn-around and headed back, bewildered by how good I felt. I had been clocking my time at the mile markers and was managing a comfortable 9:30 pace. Not bad considering the bike ride yesterday. Parts of my body took turns complaining. My left knee, then the arches of my feet from my new orthotics. Followed by my big toe where a new callous was forming. I patiently blocked out each nagging ache and twinge, knowing it would pass and eventually grow numb. This little shred of knowledge, expectation, helped greatly in dealing with the inevitable agonizing pain of a long run. Oddly enough, climbing uphill felt great. No problems there as I surged up every incline. Downhill was a completely different story. My quads screamed, and I grimaced as I half-skipped, half tip-toed down each descent. My quads were completely shredded. Feeling a little fatigued, I popped a Cliff Blok at 60 minutes, even though I didn't feel hungry. Sure enough, a few minutes later, my gait felt easy and rhythmic. I popped another one 15 minutes later, and this took me home.

The scenery was beautiful. I felt like I had been dropped into the middle of a painting. The noonday sunlight trickled through the trees lining the path, drenching the grass in flax and the leaves in cornsilk, a stark contrast to their deep native green. The sunlight played shadows on the lush mountains in the distance, tinting them a deep plum purple lined in amber. I drank it all in, feeling a quiet stillness inside. I wanted to linger here just a moment longer. I exchanged a smile and a wink with another passing runner, as if we each shared the same secret to happiness. At mile 9, my body parts were no longer taking turns--they were all yelling at the same time. Knowing I only had a mile left to go, I dug in and pushed towards the finish. When I finally finished, I felt fully satiated, albeit slightly tired. Like all long runs, there had been lows and there had been highs, but luckily on this one, the highs had far outweighed the lows.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot

I know this is very late but I had such a good time on this run, I wanted to share.

More detail on this run can be found at:

For Thanksgiving, Jason and I went to Wisconsin, near Madison (we met at UW-Madison, where we both went to school). His family lives on a dairy farm in Belleville, WI, 30 minutes south of Madison.

We changed planes in Minnesota and, as if on cue, it started flurrying. We had to wait on the ground as they de-iced the plane. De-ice? I'm from San Diego, folks. Please. De-ice! De-ice! I didn't mind the wait. I just hoped the snow wouldn't be too bad.

By the time we got to his parents, the snow was accumulating on the roads, and it was dark. Luckily, his brother, accustomed to snow, drove us from the airport to his parents. I could see large, wet flakes falling from the sky (see pic to right). Thrilling.

The next morning, a white blanket of snow covered the ground. The farm was a beautiful sight (see below). I had forgotten how still, quiet, and muffled everything became with snow. Very peaceful. I put all my winter running clothes on. All of them. Long underwear under my running tights, thermal, long-sleeved running shirt, biking jacket, gloves, scarf, ear muffs, thick socks. Then, I ran out of clothes. We drove to the race start.

I saw an outdoor thermometer on a bank sign. We had to stop and take a pic. 24 degrees, baby. Oh, yeah.

I had thought the jog over to the bank thermometer would be a good warm-up but we quickly realized warming up was not going to happen. Plus, there was a ton of ice on the streets and sidewalks (see pic), reducing us to the penguin shuffle. Yipee.

After picking up our race packets, we convinced someone to take our pic. We huddled together to stay warm. Luckily, even though I'm a wimp from San Diego, this was the first major cold snap of the season so everyone, even the hardened Wisconsintes, was suffering.

We all huddled together at the start, sharing body heat. Maybe this is why people from Wisconsin are so nice? They cuddle a lot! The gun went off, and I took off. I wanted to get warm. Luckily, there wasn't much ice on the roads but I was concerned about the trails coming up. I managed a pretty aggressive pace, running at a slightly uncomfortable RPE. My breathing was sharp, every 2 steps, and it would have been possible to talk in short phrases.

When we hit the trails, I was pleasantly surprised to see there were only a few patches of ice here and there to avoid but I could still run. The crowds had thinned out, and I had plenty of room. I settled in nicely, enjoying the bare, winter trees and brown grass. I had forgotten how dormancy takes over the land in winter.

I remembered this one, final, killer hill at the very end of this race (we ran it a few years ago) that had almost done me in. As we left the trail and turned up the road, I felt the adrenaline surge. I knew the finish was close. All that was between me and the line was that last hill. I attacked. Expecting it to be tough, I gave it all I got. All of a sudden, I was at the top. I actually felt disappointed. That was it? That's all you got? C'mon! Bring it! Without needing any recovery, I increased the tempo, beginning my final surge toward the finish.

I glanced at my watch (which matched my chip time). 54:25 total time (8:46 min/mi). Not a PR, but not bad either. I am salivating to get some speed back. I know I can beat this! However, I'm not disappointed, considering I haven't been working on speed at all.

Jason and I ran back to the car and cranked the heat. Cooling off in cold weather is not fun! Here we are, red-faced, and happy we got our Turkey Trot in. Where's the closest Starbucks? Time for hot chocolate!

We did our long run that Saturday on the Badger State Trail. It was cold, windy, and isolated but a very enjoyable experience. Note to self--for a PR, run in cold weather, during hunting season. If gunshots don't get your feet moving, nothing will! More detail on this run can be found at the link below:

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Still Here

Thanks so much, everyone, for all your support. I can't wait to get a little bit more time and catch up on everyone's blog. I'm so behind on blogging. I have a great Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot with pics to report on but still need to get them scanned in. Anyway, lots of exciting posts to come.

For right now, I'm still working on the fellowship, still working on moving, still plugging away in lab and my training. The fellowship is in the editing phase, and I'm working my tail off in lab to finish up some preliminary studies. I am SO going to celebrate when that thing gets turned in!

I've somehow managed to do x-mas shopping and put together an awesome card for the holidays. I've been cranking those out too. I'll share this year's holiday card soon.

We are now sleeping at the new place and have all the boxes moved over but are not yet unpacked. I can only do so much until the rest of the furniture comes on Sunday. I have, however, unpacked the bathrooms, closets, and kitchen. I love the new place! I can't wait until I get to the "decorating" phase. The bunnies are adjusting well to the new place as well. Taz loves exploring--hasn't lost that adventurous spirit after 8 1/2 years! Babs is a little more nervous but as long as I tell her it's okay, she's fine.

I've been keeping up with training too! I don't know how. Luckily, December is "Prep" phase. I'm just getting my body used to working out again. Since I wasn't that out of shape to begin with, it's been relatively easy to slip back into a schedule. If I could just up the master's swimming to 3x a week, instead of 2!

Let's see...where did I leave off?
Friday, December 7
made it to the pool for my 2nd master's workout of the week, despite pouring rain and 40 degree weather!!! Brrrr! (It's an outdoor pool, and we San Diegans are wimps.) Once I got in, the water felt good. It felt so good to swim and overcome the weather! Putting on wet jeans afterwards? Not so much. We worked on going fast. It was so much fun. Guess what? I love going fast. It makes base pace feel like cake. The workout is below:
went for my favorite easy, 4-mile run at work. I was able to push the pace again! I think it's the cold weather. Makes me feel snappy!
Saturday, December 8
long bike day
Everyone was afraid of the rain but I called it's bluff. Doesn't everyone know it doesn't rain in San Diego? And when it does, it's only allowed to rain from 6 pm to 7 am? By 8 am, the roads were wet, it was chilly, and the winds were blustery but the sun was out. It was awesome to ride in the brisk, sunny weather. I wore my cold-weather gear (arm and leg warmers, booties, jacket w/removable arms, gloves, and skull cap) and actually got pretty hot!
Unfortunately, only 5 other guys showed up, 4 of whom were super fast. I didn't have a prayer of sticking with them so I sent them on their way. The other guy was coming back from an off-season and wanted to take it slow (sans computer and everything). I was overjoyed...even when he had to stop for flats...twice. At least I had someone to bike with! The ride took forever with the wind and the flats. It was a verrrry hard and hilly 50 miles. I was completely beat at the end and needed the rest of the afternoon on the sofa to recover.
Sunday, December 9
long run day
I met with my running group at 7:15 am. 40 degrees. Brrrr! Again, the sun was out and there was no rain. I was only going to run 9, especially considering how beat up I felt after Saturday's ride. I ended up running 10 at a very strong pace (for me), averaging 9 min/miles. Yes! Spent the rest of the day moving.
Monday, December 10
master's swim: I remember it being really hard and having lots of butterfly and IMs but I can't actually remember the workout. Darn! I still got in 2700 meters. It was such a hectic day after that. At least I got a massage at 6!
Tuesday, December 11
OFF--completely bogged down with moving and unpacking. Sigh.
Wednesday, December 12
missed my am swim. :( However, I decided to go for an exploratory bike ride around the new place. All I can say is: the biking is AWESOME!!! There are so many great biking routes to choose from. I headed out on the bike path (1 mile from my new place), turned north for awhile before turning back and returning a different route. It was wicked fun. Although very hilly. Thought I was having a bad day until I turned around and started flying. Ooooh. I had been going uphill the entire way. Made me feel a bit better. Total mileage: 20
went for my usual afternoon run from lab. 4 miles. Didn't feel as easy this time. I'm breaking in new orthotics, and my feet hurt. Yuck. I felt like I had run out of gas and could only do a slow pace. Decided to use it as a recovery run.
Thursday, December 13
Gosh, is that today already? missed my am masters swim....again! I feel so guilty. Apparently, I needed 9.5 hours of sleep last night. I slept very soundly. Went for an afternoon bike ride up the coast. 20 miles. I felt speedy! It felt so good to have juice in my legs. The 3 caffeinated Cliff Blocks didn't hurt. Climbed the inside of Torrey Pines for a good kick-my-ass workout at the end. Lab has been tough today. I'm glad I got my bike in.
Coming Up
I hope to swim and run tomorrow. Saturday will be a 60 mile ride to build from last weekend. Sunday will be another 10 miles. And I will finish moving in this weekend!

Thursday, December 06, 2007


Sometimes I feel like I'm being tested. Either that, or God is playing a joke on me. Right now, I'm barely hanging on. Honestly, I can't believe I've been managing to keep things in as much of a balance as I've managed. Let's recap:

Sunday Nov. 25:
After returning from Thanksgiving last Sunday (which I still need to report on--lots of stuff to talk about there), Jason and I hit the ground running, signed a new lease on our apartment, picked up boxes, and started packing.
Monday Nov. 26:
I actually managed to join up with my master's swim at UCSD before rushing Oscar to the vet. Dropped him at home, went to lab. Made it to my 6 pm massage. Thank God for small things. Worked all night to prepare for lab meeting.
Tuesday Nov. 27:
Biked on the trainer in the am (Spinerval Time Trial 2.0). It was really crappy but I got it done. Went to lab and gave lab meeting. It actually didn't go half-bad, if you can believe it. Squeezed in much-needed lunchtime Yoga. Left early to go see the podiatrist. Got the bad news about Oscar from the vet. Went for a hard, therapeutic 10K run in Rose Canyon, followed by weights. Spent the evening petting Oscar.
Wednesday Nov. 28:
Had to go to lab for a very important seminar. Left early to take Oscar to the vet and have him put down. Cars blared their horns outside in the frenzied mass of rush hour. It felt like I was dropping off the dry cleaning. Life doesn't slow down for anyone. This upset me. No moment of silence. I went home and continued packing to take my mind off things. I did my usual crossword puzzles to relax. One of the clues was: "Sesame Street Grouch." So much for taking my mind off things.
Thursday Nov. 29:
Tried to go to lab but couldn't stop crying. Life may have been rushing around outside but I created stillness and silence for 24 hours within my apartment, allowing myself to grieve. By the end of the day, I was exhausted and had a headache from crying. I cried until I felt ill. Since my day of crying, I've been able to hold back the tears. I don't want to cry anymore. It feels like dry heaving at this point. Afterwards, I slept in a deep, dreamless state.
Friday Nov. 30:
Woke up early and did weights. Babs and Taz played with me while I did my push ups and sit ups and bench presses. Went to lab and finished the rough draft of my fellowship. I should have been thrilled but I wasn't. Maybe it will sink in once it's turned in. It rained buckets all day. I've never seen it rain that hard in San Diego. Funny how my environment matched my mood. As if the skies were mourning with me. Maybe it was a sign. My stomach hurt all night, and I didn't get to sleep until 4 am. I had strong doubts about making my own bike ride. After 1 Pepcid, 1 Prilosec, 2 Gas-X, and 1 Immodium, I was good to go.
Saturday Dec. 1st:
It's December already. Life doesn't slow down for anyone. Began my long, weekend rides again. Today was the first official day of my training plan for IMAZ. I will post my training plan soon. Biked 40 miles around Elfin Forest and Del Dios. The creek alongside Elfin Forest was engorged and angry but the windy roads were surrounded by fresh grass and greenery. The earth was moist and smelled delicious. Del Dios was like a different universe. It had been torched by the fires. The rain had caused multiple landslides. The water in Lake Hodges was a sickly, radioactive green. The headwind and crosswind was particularly wicked, forcing me to use a deathgrip on the handlebars to stay upright. Black ash stuck to my damp face. I needed to see it. I hadn't ridden Del Dios since the fires. It's pretty tragic.
Later that afternoon, friends came over to view the airing of Ironman Hawaii on NBC. It was good to have a houseful of friends to make the place seem less empty.
Sunday, December 2:
Woke up feeling exhausted from a chronic stomachache that had been plaguing me since Wednesday (and all my happenings). Went back to sleep. Jason and I went for a 9 mile run in Rose Canyon, even though I didn't want to. We were SO good. We got it done. Afterwards, we dropped off more boxes (3rd load) at the new apartment, bought a bed, and picked up more boxes from lab. I spent the evening packing and explaining to Jason that, yes, it was totally justified that we were exhausted.
Monday, December 3:
Made it to the pool for masters swimming. Seems to be a bad habit I've fallen into--going 1x/week. Ugh. Went to lab, then my massage. Ran a ton of errands afterwards.
Tuesday, December 4:
Ended up just doing lab stuff all day and no workouts. Beat myself up about it. This was a real low energy day. I got a burst at 11 pm and finished packing the entire apartment. I do that sometimes.
Wednesday, December 5:
Missed my morning workout but berated myself onto the trainer that evening. The chill and gloom in the air as well as the early evening darkness is really getting to me. Plus, I feel hungry all the time. Hard to start a workout hungry. Anyway, forced myself onto the trainer for a Spinerval workout. Did the Time Trial 2.0 DVD again to see if I could make up for my poor performance last time. It still sucked but I had my moments. Afterwards, I realized I had the trainer extra tight on the wheel, creating more resistance. This cheered me up some. Followed up the bike with weights.
Thursday, December 6:
Slept in and missed my swim. Damn! Worked on editing the fellowship. Despite the gloom and impending storm, slipped out early to go for a 30-mile ride up the coast. Hammered on the way out to warm up, taking advantage of the tail wind. Fought the head wind on the way back. It feels SO good to go hard sometimes, doesn't it? Forgot my arm warmers so stopped at B&L on the way home to get arm warmers, knee warmers, and lights since it was getting dark. Also swapped out my beaver cleaver bike seat for a much more ergonomic one. Much better. Jason will be happy. Drooled over their carbon road bikes. Continued on my way home. Followed it up with a very nice, relaxing 4 mile run at a 9 min/mile pace. Felt comfortable. Rhythmic. My vision was soft and my mind was empty. I could have stayed there forever. It reminded me of why I like running. Time stops and I hang in the moment of suspension between each footstep.

I'm hanging on. I'm being patient. I'm waiting for time to heal my wounds.