Race Recap: Mountains2Beach Half Marathon

After my triumphant Hollywood 5K in April, I decided to start training for the Ventura Marathon rather than continue half marathon training for Mountains2Beach at the end of May. I had been hanging out at the 25-30 mile per week range for a few months, and this decision meant putting micromanaging my paces on the backburner and focusing on piling on the miles. Building up to the 48-50 miles per week that I’d need to hit to feel ready for Ventura would take some time and waiting until after M2B would be pushing it.  So I dusted off my old marathon training schedule from FMC and proceeded to ramp up the mileage.

Still did track work but focused on building endurance.

Marathon training and I greeted each other like two people involved in a long distance relationship seeing each other after a long absence. Excited for that first longish midweek run, then reminded of those odd behaviors accompanied with an “oh yeah, I remember how you used to do that” feeling, and culminating in being tired and hungry AF. I went on a rapid bump-up to 34-36-38 miles per week, topping out at a 16-mile long run and myself reunited with that familiar but not unpleasant sensation after a long run when I’d be super tired and yearning for a nap, but my legs would be too jacked up to settle down. They didn’t hurt; just very, very Awake.


My long run paces pre-5K and during my hamstring issue were slower than before Surf City, and that messed with my confidence. Post-5K they continued to be slower, but since I was focusing on building endurance rather than speed, it was easier to metabolize. I also helped knowing that my overall fitness was improving. When I first started with Trainer, I could workout with him OR get my run in, but no way I was doing both. Then I built up to getting short runs in after my training session, and by the end of this training cycle I was getting my regular runs in (including an 11-miler!) post workout with him. My increased strength was encouraging, but I just wasn’t sure how fast I was, which didn’t have my confidence at optimal level pre-M2B.

My pace was a disappointment. Running with my friend was not.

In the couple weeks before M2B, I had two good track workouts and, even better, a long run of 14 miles that came in at 9:05 min. per mile pace, which was about where I was for Surf City. This finally made me think that I could PR and go sub-1:55 at M2B. Just in time!

Yay! Finally a good pace for my long run!

With my newfound confidence, I set my goals for the race as follows:

C-PR (sub 1:55:59)
B-Sub 1:55

The A-goal seemed a little crazy since my training times didn’t indicate that, but what the heck, that’s what A-goals are for, right? Shoot for the moon. I had really hoped there would be a 1:55 pace group like in Surf City, but M2B is smaller, and it was either a 2:00 or 1:50 pace group. I decided I would go for it and try to hang with the 1:50 group as long as I could and then drop when I had to.


Race conditions were perfect: overcast and in the upper-60s pretty much throughout the race. I hopped into my pace group, and off we went. The group immediately felt too fast, but I hung in there and didn’t drop back until  about mile 5, which was exactly where I wanted to be. The course is a net downhill, with the only uphill portion in the beginning of the race. After mile 5, it is downhill or flat, and I knew that even if I couldn’t quite hang with the 1:50 group, I could do well on that backend due to the favorable elevation.

One race tactic that Trainer has tried to get me to do that I have been unable (read: unwilling) to do – even on the 5K! — is to stop at less water stations. It is surely a mental thing, because even though I don’t need and don’t drink that much water on my training runs, I stop at ALL the water stations during a race. All.Of.Them. And I walk them. It’s a nice little mental break. However, I did notice that it seemed to take a wee bit of energy to get back up to pace when I stopped and started (Ya think? Can you believe I just figured it out?) , so I was hoping to minimize my stoppage. Well, there are only seven water stations on the M2B half marathon course, so there was an enforced water stoppage restriction, and even though I did find myself getting water at each station, I did run through all of them, minus when I took my gels and ended up walking through them. So a small mini triumph and hopefully the start of better water station habits.

Things were going well from miles 5-11, and I could still sort of see some of the 1:50 group, so I knew that I was in the sub-1:55 mark for sure. My goal was to get to mile 10 at 1:25 so that even if something bad happened (stomach, fatigue, etc.), I could still come in sub-1:55.

Sure enough, “something” happened at about mile 11. I started cramping. WTF?!? After cramping during Surf City and getting a charley horse post-race, I switched to SaltStick caps instead of the electrolyte pills I had been using, and they worked well during the 5K and on my training runs. I had also thought that not walking the water stations would help with this issue. Nope. I got that twinge in my left calf, and thought “Oh hell, no.” It seized up a little, but rather than stop, which is what I did at Surf City, I just ran through it. I mentally pictured my calf relaxing, and after about 100 yards or so, it loosened up. My other calf seized up later in the race, but same process, and again it relaxed. Unfortunately, while I didn’t have to run with a calf cramp, it did slow me down because whenever I tried to accelerate, I’d feel that twinge. Arggghhh. I really wanted to go for it in that last mile, but my calf wouldn’t let me be great!

I know by this time you must be on the edge of your seat wondering how your heroine did. Well, despite not seeing those fast paces during training, and even though my crampy calves conspired against me, I finished with a 1:52:28 half marathon time! Friends, that is insane. I never thought I’d see that number. I’m a steady-eddy 2:00-2:07 half marathoner. It takes an extraordinary effort or luck (like a short course in 2012) to get me in at sub-2:00, and that has only happened twice in over twenty half marathons pre-Trainer. Not only did I PR…not only did I go sub-1:55… I even beat my A goal! Crazy.

As for the race itself, it wasn’t as scenic as the full marathon course. It was pretty blah and seemed like quite a bit of running in the town as opposed to on the bike path with beautiful mountain vistas, as well as along the beach with six miles to go. However, that old beach route did mean running by the finish line and circling back, so after a listening to the complaints, they made a course change this year to avoid that. The crowd support is spotty, but that’s not why you run this race; you run this race because it’s a fast course. The medal was nice; the t-shirt meh; the swag negligible. Again, people don’t run the race for that stuff. So, did the course deliver and meet expectations? A resounding yes.

It was awesome to end the first half of my racing season on a high note. Two half marathons and a 5K resulted in back-to-back half marathon PRs and a 5K third place AG finish. 2016 has started off well, but as you know there is no rest for the weary. After a short vacation in NYC, I am back at it this week training for that full mary in September. Yikes. Not gonna lie, I have some nervousness about my body’s ability to withstand the beatdown it’s about to take, but I’m also curious and excited. Having these solid race results will be good information to draw upon when training gets tough mentally and/or physically in the coming months. And so here I am just two months shy of turning 49 and still setting new PRs, so perhaps it should be said again: Getting injured last September may have been the best thing to happen to my running.

Pace: 8:35
Age Group (45-49): 11/157
Female: 128/1197
Overall: 306/1811



Race Recap: Hollywood 5K

A funny thing happened on my way to a half marathon…

So last time we saw our heroine, she was fresh off her high of running a half marathon PR at Surf City (not to mention smoking Matt Damon). I had high hopes for the Hollywood Half, and with eight weeks to train, I was looking forward to pushing myself even more by tacking on extra mileage and throwing in some tempo runs on top of the hill/track work I was already doing with Trainer. Because, as you know, if it isn’t broke, for sure you should mess around with it and fix it (read: screw it up). Obviously more is better when you’re staring down 50 years of age, right? Argh! When will I learn?!?

So you know what happened next. I strained my butt/hamstring after my first hill workout post-race and instead of taking it easy, I kept pushing and added in extra speed work on top of it. At about two weeks after Surf City, I knew I had a bit of an issue and thus began my crazy-making attempts at fixing my problem by getting four opinions:

  1. Dr. #1: “STOP RUNNING. You cannot run for four weeks. This [high hamstring tendinopathy] is the type of injury that ends running careers.”
  2. Dr. #2: “You can run but lay off the speed and hill work until I can work on it a little more.”
  3. Trainer: “You’re not injured.”

And of course, the most reliable…

  1. The Internet.

Option no. 4 only increased my anxiety tenfold. I mean, how many times can you Google “high hamstring” “recovery” “stop running” without making yourself mental?! My careful examination of renderings of the human skeleton in an effort to diagnose myself rivaled that of a bomb tech deciding whether to pull the red wire or green wire. The internet was not my friend.

I elected to go with somewhere between opinion 2 and 3, leaning more towards 3. I took a full 1½ weeks off of running, and then slowly started building up my mileage. After a couple weeks I found my long run times were a bit slower than pre-Surf City and that my legs were fatiguing early. At first I thought it was just from losing some conditioning taking those couple weeks off, but then I wondered…could it be…that I changed shoes after 19 years in Nike Air Structures?

Yes, dear reader, in yet another case of when something is working, I will for sure find a way to mess it up, I decided to change shoes. Never mind that I have tried SEVERAL times to change shoes in the almost two decades that I’ve been wearing the Nike Structures. There was the Asics experiment that gave me blisters, then the Brooks (yuck) go-round, followed by the fairly recent trendy Hoka attempt. This last time (ha!), I went with the more reasonable change of switching from a Nike stability shoe to a Nike neutral shoe. I wanted (want! I want!) so badly to be in a lighter shoe. The Structures make me feel like a Clydesdale, especially since I have to wear orthotics for my flat hobbit feet. I figured now that I was on a midfoot strike and no longer pronated that I was at last going to be able to wear the fun lightweight cool kids shoes. The Nike Air Elites were fine…for the shorter runs, but my legs weren’t having it on my long runs. Worse, I started getting the beginning stages of plantar with them. Ugh. I went crawling back to the old clodhoppers.

The new shoes. So light, so pretty. Le sigh.
So even though my hamstring was feeling better, and I was back in my old shoes, I now had only about two weeks to go before the Hollywood Half, and I knew I wasn’t in any shape to PR it. Moreover, I was worried that I’d hurt myself going hard because my hamstring was still not 100% — after all, last year I strained my calf at the Hollywood Half and had to miss a little over a week of training. Since Hollywood isn’t my “A” race anyway – Mountains2Beach at the end of May is – I started toying around with the idea of dropping down in distance and doing my first 5K in eight years. What?

Since it had been so long between 3.1s, I really had no idea what to choose as a goal or even what to expect. Perhaps more perplexing was how to race it. Treat it like a track distance and go out as hard as I can and then try to hold on for the last two miles? That sounded insane and painful. Or maybe run it more like a mid-distance race and take it easy and kick it into gear the last mile? The distance seemed too short to leave the last kick until one mile to go. Trainer mentioned something like if at 1.5 miles I was feeling good to just floor it. Ultimately my race strategy was a well-thought out Give Full Effort. More specifically, I figured 8:05 minute miles was a good goal. Oh! And I was also going to try my hardest to not stop at the water stations in an effort to get some practice in for my longer races.

The race expo is held at the Hollywood Palladium, and the start line is in front of the Dolby Theater, home of the Academy Awards; hence the oversized Oscars.
One of the best parts of the race is that you can take public transport – yes, in LA – to the race. The Metro drops you off close to the start, but I took the next exit over and was one of those people that annoy the shit out of me at the half and full marathons by doing a warm-up run before the race. Really? You are in such good shape that you can run 27.2 miles? Anyway, since I’m old and it takes me at least a mile to get warmed up, I ran the mile to the start line. It felt good to be the annoying one for a change.

The worst part of the race is that 5K, 10K, and half marathoners all start at once, and no one is really enforcing the Stay In Your [Pace] Corral rule, so it is a major clusterfuck. I tried to stay at the front of my corral, but I could tell there were runners in my group that were supposed to be in much slower corrals, and the first part of the race was spent dodging in and out of these people. I tried to be careful, but at some point, some of them caught elbows. I only sort of glanced at my watch to make sure I was around 8:00 min. miles.

The race went by quickly! I checked my watch at what I thought was an early part of the race and realized that I only had 1.5 miles left. That was bizarre. I kept a steady strong effort and felt good throughout, with my hammy only giving me a few twinges. Having said that, I have a feeling I could have gone a bit harder, since I remember feeling pretty awful at my last 5K. This did not feel too bad at all, but who knew? The distance was a difficult one to gauge.

Look at my form! My arms are finally not flailing and swinging about!
Well, friends, you’ve probably been on the edge of your seat wondering “Well, how’d she do?” Or you’ve fallen asleep. Either way, here are the results out of the 1800 plus participants who ran the 5K:

Official Time: 25:42
Age Group: 3rd place
Women: 15th Overall


YO, let me say it for the people in the back: THIRD IN MY AGE GROUP!

Listen, Valerio and Graybill-carroll stole my money y’all. Pretty pink champagne medal tho.
Not to be ungrateful, but my time would have won last year. Two speedsters must have aged up because they were blazing fast. In fact, the woman who won my age group was the first woman overall. *Shakes Fist*

I managed to beat my 5K time from eight years ago by five seconds, which is pretty cool, but I did not get a new PR — that time was set over twenty years ago and is 24:50. However, I do plan to fix that, which I recognize is a little crazy, but a certain amount of delusional thinking is healthy, I think. Also, despite my triumphant time, it was a major Fail on not stopping at the water stations. Well, only half a fail. I never walked the water the stations, but I did get water at each (all two of ‘em!) one. I just sloshed that stuff all over my face and kept it pushing. I guess that’s an improvement?

I ended up hitting my goal pace by running an 8:04 pace on my Garmin (the course went long), and my splits were 7:49, 8:12, and 8:09.

Anyway, I enjoyed the 5K distance which tells me I definitely need to go harder. I feel like I should want to puke afterwards, and like a true weirdo runner, I’m looking forward to it. A cool thing about running a 5K is that my whole day wasn’t ruined trying to recover…the not so awesome thing is that I couldn’t have my guilt-free post-race food fest that I usually have after a half or full marathon. I ate reasonably. Boo.

As for now what, since it was “only” a 5K, my training wasn’t interrupted too much, and I was able to do a strong 9-mile run the next day and resume training the next week without having to take any time off. I’m now getting prepared for the Mountains2Beach Half Marathon on May 29 and simultaneously adding on mileage in preparation for the Ventura Full Marathon in September. So back to the norm.

Hopefully part of the norm includes getting back to more regular blogging now that I’m not going to so many physical therapy appointments, poring over the internet for solutions to my problem du jour, switching shoes, and freaking out about my butt, but no promises.

Hope everyone’s running and training has been going well!

Your triumphant protagonist with her medal. Oh, and a nice shot of the entrance to the Metro. I wasn’t lying about public transport in LA.

Training Week Feb. 8-14, 2016: Post-Race Regrouping

Well, Surf City left me with more than just a new PR. I received a couple “gifts” from the race. Luckily, nothing terribly awful, but that charley horse was no joke and my calf was jacked up for a few days. And then, totally random, I got a corn on the bottom of my foot. What the what?! Turns out that’s more painful than the calf strain. Anyway, again, apparently not life threatening. Phew.

Rehab Kit

My last five half marathons were run in the middle of marathon cycles, so I assumed that I’d just keep it pushing, but this time I found myself not too motivated to do much of anything. Not only did I only do one measly run, I also skipped one session with Trainer. Obviously, I really couldn’t do anything more than recovery or base runs because of the calf and corn problem — sounds like something a farmer/rancher might be dealing with — but other than the 3-miler to test out the calf, I wasn’t even up for short easy jogs. I guess not having a marathon to train for fed into my lack of motivation. I mean, what’s the hurry? My next race isn’t until April, and it’s *just* another half. But not only did I find myself physically not very driven, mentally, I was just spaced out for most of the week. I found it difficult to concentrate and even found podcasts too intense for my weary brain. I think I may have been like really dialed into to this race, and it caught up with me, so I pretty much vegged out mentally too.

Anyway, I was kind of beating myself up that I wasn’t being more active in my recovery and kept trying to snap myself out of it and Get.It.Together.Dammit! On Thursday I finally saw Trainer, and I figured that would kickstart my week. We had a pretty lively session and got my feet and legs working again (see video below for a drill we did), but the hoped-for motivation to buckle down for the rest of the week died when I left the gym, and I ended up stuffing my face with Indian food and cheesecake instead of doing the light workout I had planned that evening. When I saw him the next day, knowing that I had my running shoes in the car and had planned to go for a run after our session, I kind of threw out there my ambivalence about running this week. Well, Trainer actually suggested…just giving myself a break this week. What?!?

So a giant weight lifted. I wouldn’t mind getting my tightish hammy in a little better shape because I know I’ll be going hard again real soon. (Like in an hour.) In the meantime, I’m doing all that stuff that I’d put off until that time over yonder known as “After The Race”. Good thing Valentine’s Day fell on Recovery Week. Ha.

Once my brain started functioning again, I thought of a few things I’d like to improve for this upcoming training cycle:

  1. Nailing down my post-workout nutrition. I suck at eating in that post-workout 45-min. window, and at my age, the name of the game is recovery, so I have to take any and all steps to get me ready to take on more training. I finally got used to eating pre-workout in my last cycle, and now I have to be diligent about re-fueling in a timely manner.
  2. Adding more miles. I just ran out of time for Surf City. I was only up and running for 8 weeks before the race, so I was only able to get up to 30 miles per week. I would like to get it in the 35-38 mile per week range.
  3. Refining my prehab and maintenance. There is a ton of information out there about staying injury-free – rolling, stretching, and strengthening exercises. After many years of accumulating this information and trying out various activities (yoga, pilates, weights), I am more confident about what I can lose (most of the static stretching) and what types of exercises will keep me strong (Bosu is my Best Friend), so I’m trying to be more efficient in this area.

So not much to report other than I have fully enjoyed my week of eating, sleeping, and NOT running.

I leave you with the news that brought out the super petty in me and brought me much joy: I ran the Surf City Half Marathon faster than Matt Damon. It’s true, readers – your faithful blogger is faster than The Martian. Eat my dust, Jason Bourne!

Surf City Half Marathon 2016: Race Recap

Looks like I’m Queen of the B-Goal. So close to the A-Goal though. Argh.*

If you’ve been following my blog these past four months, then you know my training has been quite different for this race. In fact, it’s difficult to characterize what I’ve been doing as specifically training for the Surf City Half since I had no plan or schedule other than rehab, prehab, strength train, speed…and then fit in my junk miles and one long run when I could. So physically my preparation for this race was unusual in that, other than the long run, getting the miles in were not the priority.

But almost just as unusual as my physical training was my mental state before and during this race. I knew one-two weeks before the race that it was going to be warm, around 72 degrees during the race and about 82 for the day. Now usually I checkity-check-check the weather app the entire week-of, and while I did do a couple random checks early in the week, I then stopped. Didn’t even look at the weather forecast the day before or the day of the race. I figured that whatever the weather was going to be was entirely out of my control, and I didn’t want to give it any headspace or worse, give myself reason to accept a slower time. Just didn’t want to go there.

Everything went as planned race morning, and I arrived at the parking lot with plenty of time to spare. Well, almost. I walked past the start line and had to double back, which means I didn’t have the chance (or room really – this is a popular race) to get in the warm-up I’m used to. Whatever. I jumped into the 1:55 pace group, and off we went!

The two pacers got us out pretty quick, and we were doing 8:45-8:30 pace through miles 1-6. At first it felt too quick, but I never felt like it was killing me to keep up with them, and once I settled in and had the one real uphill behind me (miles 3-5), I settled in very easily to an 8:40ish pace. Around mile 6, I went ahead of the pace group because I was feeling strong, and things were going well until I started feeling the twinge in my calf around mile 8-9, which developed into cramping at mile 10. As you can see by my paces, it dropped off by about 15-20 seconds the last three miles including one 9:25 mile (my slowest – what?!): 8:44, 8:31, 8:40, 8:47, 8:32, 8:32, 8:38, 8:52, 8:32, 8:52, 9:25, 9:02, 9:04, 8:53.


And this brings me to the other moment that my new mindset revealed itself: Mile 10 when I started to cramp in my calves. (Yes, it turns out weather was an issue!) I thought I had downed enough water during the week, had slathered topical magnesium on my legs, and I had taken my electrolyte pills before and during the race, but the last five miles of this race go directly into the sun, and like I said, it was a warm day. So when I started feeling the twinges in my calf, I looked at my watch and thought “Well, it was a fast 10 miles. I’ll still probably get a course PR [sub-2:04].” Like I was just going to shut it down and walk/run or 75-80% it. But something inside me wanted to kill this race. I mean, who knew when I’d get out to this fast a start again? (At the time I was on pace for a fairly comfortable sub-1:55.) So I kept at it, just grinding it out, adjusting my stride back to an almost heel strike to not put too much pressure on my calves. And even when I got a couple “good” seize-ups where I had to actually pull over for a sec, and just wanted to walk it in, I heard my trainer’s voice. See, there have been times in my training where I’ve said to him “[this body part] is a little [achy/sore],” and he’s told me in one way or another to “Deal with it.” (Note, he seems to also know when I really need a break.) So…I dealt with it. It wasn’t the most comfortable last three miles but it still wasn’t awful either. I just had to want it.

This must have been when I was running towards the kind lady who was spraying us runners with water. It got a little toasty at the end.

I hung in there and saw my pace group catch me and eventually pass me. Then this adorable 20-something year old girl pulled up next to me and said “We got this!” It gave me just enough of a lift, and we grabbed each other’s hands in solidarity for a moment. As she passed me, I saw that she had written in marker on her back “5’2” and faster than you” – so awesome for this fellow shorty to see. She was just a bright spirit as she weaved her way ahead of me, and I saw her catch some dude who was struggling a little and she encouraged him with a “C’mon big guy, I’ve been chasing you all race. Let’s go.” And he groaned and picked up the pace. What an inspirational little angel. Anyway, I held on and shuffled across that finish line with a new PR! For three years that thing wouldn’t budge, but Sunday it finally moved in the right direction. Yay!

The medal is extra huge because it’s the 20th anniversary.

On the way back my calf entirely seized up into a hella charley horse that had me open-mouthed and, wow, that thing hurt. It’s still tender, so I’m not running for a few days, and I really hope it’s just a few days as I’m eager to really get back at it.

Late last year I started writing out my goals once I started working with Trainer. I knew I was taking a step back because not only was I going to put off marathon training until June of next year (i.e., forego the Mountains2Beach full), I was also switching to a new footstrike and I anticipated some adjustment. My initial goal for this race was that I’d finish the race on a midfoot strike. Then when I saw my training times, I adjusted to a sub-2:00 goal with the hopes of PRing in April at the Hollywood Half. But now, I’ve PRd a race early, and will be adjusting my goals for a third time. What a bizarre experiment this has been. Looks like getting injured after the Ventura full may have been the best thing that’s happened to my running in a while.

Hope everyone is having a great running week! And good luck to anyone running LA this Sunday!!

Official Time 1:55:59
Pace 8:51

*Goals were A: sub-1:55; B: sub-1:57:57 (new PR); C: sub-2:00.

Pre-Surf City Half Marathon Musings

Well, this afternoon I finished my last bit of training for this Sunday’s Surf City Half Marathon by doing a five-mile run on my lunch break. Coincidentally, my route starts along Santa Monica Blvd. in Century City, which is a wee stretch of the course for the LA Marathon being run the week after on Valentine’s Day. Earlier this morning I had my last training session, and while it wasn’t taper as I know it, it was definitely a notch below what we usually do. Meaning, I didn’t find myself rethinking my life choices at any point in the workout.

Taper week followed the same format that most weeks follow with Trainer in that we had a core/upper body day, a leg day, and an outdoor workout, but I noticed that there has been a definite progression — which I don’t completely understand — but that seemed to come full circle this week. Like a few weeks ago we stopped training on weights; everything has been band work, speed and agility drills, and body weight. And for taper week leg day was more like the prehab work we did early on in our training. (Important to note that I should be doing more prehab on my own as I was sore for a couple days after our leg day because we hadn’t done that work in a while.)

Last track session — this time at Cal. State University Northridge, my alma mater.
So as I enter this half marathon weekend, I feel strong and good about my training. Below are the usual miscellaneous thoughts I have going into a race.

What I Wish I Had Done Better. For the first time in like ever, my answer won’t be strength training! In fact, it’s the opposite…I wish I had done more running. Optimally I would have had my weekly mileage up at 35-40, as well as done a 15-16 mile long run at some point in the cycle. I don’t think I actually could have done those things since I was coming back from an injury, and there just wasn’t time to build up safely to that mileage. So we will make due with 30-mile weeks and 13-mile long runs.

Question. How will I do in my first race on a midfoot strike? What I’ve read indicates that there should be a learning curve on this, but my training times tell me that that hasn’t been the case. Will this be different on race day?


C – So I’m not going to do my usual “not get injured” as my C-goal. Nope. There is no marathon I’m training for in the near future, and screw it. At this point, I don’t want to have that mentality. My C-goal is to go sub 2:00. Yeah, I said it. I’ve only gone sub-2:00 in two out of the like twenty half marathons I’ve run, and not in the last couple years, but what the hell…Why not?

B – PR. That means sub-1:57:57. I set this 3½ years ago.

A – Sub-1:55. Have I lost my fucking mind?!? Maybe. I’m going to start out in this pace group, and if I have to drop back, then I will. But I’m feeling kind of reckless.

These goals feel slightly ambitious considering I was injured just four months ago and only up and running two months ago, but it feels like I’ve been training FOREVER. In addition to the training being quite different these past four months, I feel in a different mental space for this half mary. I feel excited, happy, curious, and confident about doing well. Now, I don’t know what that “well” number looks like so that will be good information, but I think it’s going to be a good race. Yes, I am totally having some freakout stuff going on too, but I’m not giving voice or committing them to the blogosphere. Just trying to limit that energy. I guess you could say my attitude, or rather the attitude I want to maintain, is a positive one. Ha. Anyway, I bid you adieu until post-race!

Training Week Jan. 25-31, 2016: It’s A Wrap (Almost)

And so this was the final training week for the Surf City Half Marathon on Super Bowl Sunday. In reviewing my week, I realized yet again how different this training cycle has been. In a previous post I wrote about what the New Normal looks like for me, but I continue to find things that fall into the I-Never-Did-That-Before category.

I usually have an easy-ish Monday, meaning upper body and core, and this is especially true if I did my long run on Sunday, like this past week. Buh-bye, Easy Mondays. Not only have I now done a couple track workouts on Monday, but even this past week when I started winding things down, I still did some drills to shake out my legs. In this same vein, I truly no longer know what “recovery” and “rest” days look like any more. Recovery day used to mean no running At.All. Now it looks like recovery is an “active” recovery to keep my legs loose. And rest day used to be COMPLETE rest. But now I’m always doing something, even if it’s just stretching and rolling.

Then I noticed that yet again, I did a double run on Tuesday. I never used to do double runs because I always feared that would lead me to injury, and not without reason as the one time I did do a double run I developed a calf strain. My body just couldn’t handle it. But now, I do it at least once a week out of necessity to get those junk miles in.

RMR 2-1-A
Night Run! Two-A-Day!
Then perhaps the strangest thing of all. After X years as a runner, I finally did that thing I’ve been avoiding — the lunchtime run in the middle of a work day. Ewww. Turns out that being all sweaty in my work clothes is not nearly as gross as I thought it would be…For me anyway. Yay understanding bosses. I think I will take advantage of this while the weather is still good in LA, and it’ll be a nice timesaver.

RMR 2-1.C
Super nice weather here in LA.
After some review, my conclusion is that this training cycle has been a trip. After being injured for two months, I had all of eight weeks to train for this half marathon. The longest long run I did was 14 miles, and my highest weekly mileage topped out at 30. This is the lowest amount of mileage I’ve done when preparing for a half marathon in almost five years. At the same time, I got little rest once I could run again, and presently seem to be either running or crosstraining or stretching or rolling or bathing (ice and warm). In between, I try to hold down a job and hang out with my husband and try not to be a total recluse. Oh, and perhaps most bizarre of all: I had no training plan other than to do some long runs and incorporate some fast miles in them and try to get in some other runs in between the strength training. Who trains for a half marathon like this!?

RMR 2-1-D
Yay! Last hard training run done!
I will also say it’s been super fun training cycle. I am surprised at what this 48- year old body can do physically and mentally. Even though I’ve worked out regularly since I was in my mid-20s and have done a variety of different activities, from soccer to taekwondo to weight lifting to yoga to pilates to crossfit to ballet, I have enjoyed learning even more stuff. I felt strong pushing that sled up and down the indoor turf; lightfooted doing the ladder and cone drills; and like a runner on this midfoot strike. I also felt ridiculous racing against a 15-year old girl. Ha. And so I end this week curious as fuck to see what taper week will look like. The experiment continues…

See you all later in the week when I start thinking about goals and freaking out about the weather report.

Hope everyone is having a great running week!

Total Miles: 28 plus track work
Long Run: 12 miles — 2 miles at easy pace; 8 miles at MP pace; 2 miles at easy pace.

Training Week Jan. 18-24, 2016: My First DNF!

What an odd training week. Nothing could be categorized as “normal” or “standard.” From the get-go, my Monday workout was not the usual upper body/core day with Trainer. Not only was it track day, but it was also at a new location, Cal. State University Northridge. I survived, but I usually try to get some evening junk miles in during the early part of the week, and for the first time Trainer asked me not to run that night and just let the track workout sink in. Then, even stranger, for again the first time I got a text from him the next morning saying he thought we should take the day off. Odd. The track workout was difficult, but it’s always difficult. I couldn’t really tell that it was any harder than the others…but I found out later when I tried to run seven easy miles. Yikes. My legs – no, my entire body – were done. Even my sides hurt.

The rest of the week continued to proceed in abnormal fashion with an unexpected running rest day and running 7-milers instead of my usual shorter 3-5 filler base miles. And then of course Saturday arrived: The day of my first track meet in 40 – yes, 40 – years.

Calm before the storm.

Every horrible thing that I imagined and wrote about in my last blog post happened…and I had a blast!

One thing this week did go as expected, and that was that I had no idea what was going on at a track meet. Turns out there are no bibs in these smaller events. Also, you have to listen carefully because it’s just someone with a megaphone announcing your event. Luckily, my friend showed up, and she was doing the same event I was, or I would have missed the whole thing. Can you imagine having stressed out for days, and then not even running the race?!

So I ended up being scheduled to do the 300m and 1500m. I had spent the night before Googling “How do you run a 300m [and 1500m]?” But that quickly went out the window when I got ready to line up and saw that I was going up against my friend, a world-class sprinter…and a group of 15-year old girls. I started laughing because this was just nuts. However, not gonna lie. I still wanted to do well and struck up a conversation with an awkward Asian girl, who did not want to be there and looked like she only took P.E. because it was a requirement but would much rather be in a science lab. My competitive streak kicked in, and I thought “I can take her.”

The gun went off, and it was then that I experienced the longest minute of my life. So many emotions happened in those 60 seconds. First that exhilarating “Wow, I’m going so fast. I’m flying!” Followed shortly, way too shortly, by “Uh-oh. I can’t hold this. I’m going to die.” And then the rest of the minute, just pumping my arms and trying to hold on. The awkward Asian girl caught me with about 50 meters to go (argh!) and with about 30 meters to go, I thought I was going to black out. Also, I could no longer feel my legs — it was like all the glycogen had escaped my body. And then it was over.

Wow. I have never experienced anything like that. It was great, then scary, then super scary, and then done. I felt awesome!

So getting beat by the adorable studious Asian was not the end of my ordeal. I still had the 1500m to run, and that was like in 15 min. Yeah, when I got to the start, I saw that I’d be running against a bunch of 16-year old boys. I did about 600m and my breathing and legs were not having it. I knew I had 13 miles to run the next day, so I just pulled over and called it a day. I’ve never DNF’d in a half marathon or marathon (or any race distance), but I somehow couldn’t manage a way to run less than a mile on Saturday. Ha! Luckily, Trainer was not around. Phew.

After that, I was free to relax and enjoy the track meet. It was fun to watch people compete, and I finally got to watch my trainer run. I’ve been working out with someone for four months, taking all this running advice from him, and I’ve only seen him jog 10 yards or so to lay down cones. Crazy, right? Turns out he’s fast. Really fast. Like freakishly fast. It was actually quite awesome to watch that kind of speed. So I guess I’ll keep listening to him.

I managed to get in a three-mile cooldown run after the meet, and 13 miles the next day. I was interested to see if my legs would bounce back from the craziness I put it through, and they did. It’s just two more weeks until the Surf City Half Marathon, and I’m starting to wind it down. What a fun and unexpected way to end my training. Actually, those words best describe this entire training cycle: Fun and unexpected.

Slow junk miles in the mist.

Hope everyone has a great running week!

Total Miles: 30 plus track
Track: 3 x 200-150-100-50
Track Meet: 300m and then DNF. DNF!
Long Run: 13.1 miles – 2 miles at easy pace; 9 miles at MP pace; 2.1 miles at easy pace.
Other Runs: 7-7-3