May 30, 2009

Octane 17

Today's fast finish long run was a blast! It felt like we discovered the secret runner's heaven of Tiburon because there were flat paths with gorgeous views, plenty of water fountains & bathrooms & parking, and a delightful diner for brunch :P

The first 12 miles included a couple navigational challenges, but we managed to find our way along the bay front path (with views of the Golden Gate bridge & the SF skyline) and through several very nice neighborhoods.

The preparations for the pace portion began after mile 11. So, at mile 11.5 (thank goodness for Garmalade!), I took a roctane gu (blueberry pomegranate flavored, which actually tasted like a pretty good filling for a blueberry pie!), extra water, and hooked up the ipod. Then the 4 goal marathon pace miles: 9:04, 9:03, 8:56, and 8:34. The first couple miles felt great, and I almost wanted to run them faster. I definitely feel that the gu helped in a big way. The third mile went by quickly, and I was appreciating the music. For the fourth pace mile, I let myself go as fast as I pleased, worked hard, but didn't force anything crazy. I'm stoked with running 8:34 for a mile 16 :)

After a cooldown, stretching, and refueling, it was time to drive into Tiburon for brunch. The eggs and toast hit the spot! After the high octane 17 mile training run, I'm enjoying a low key Saturday afternoon.

May 29, 2009

Before, during, and after

Tomorrow's fast finish long run feels like an exciting step toward training more intensively. That being said, it's occupying a lot of my brain space, and it'll be awesome to just do it!

The objective of a fast finish long run is to prepare you for racing when you're legs are already very, very tired. So, the plan is to run 12 miles at an easy long run pace. Then, I'll crank it up a few notches by running at my goal marathon pace for 4 miles. Finally, I can enjoy a mellow mile long cooldown. In a way, the 17 mile long run is divided into three chunks- a very long warm up, a race, and a nice, easy mile. But, really, who warms up for 12 miles?!?!

This long pace run deserves a little bit of extra attention, so here are some details that I hope will help me stride successfully through the workout:

  • extra sleep
  • extra water
  • pasta dinner
  • peanut butter toast & coffee for breakfast
  • flattish & scenic route
  • ipod shuffle for the pace portion
  • electrolyte water & 2 gels
  • sassy running shorts & favorite socks
  • Garmalade!

  • recovery snack & water
  • stretching
  • nice dry t-shirt
  • flip flops to give those footsies and toesies some air :>
  • brunchy!!
  • beer (what can I say, it's a terrific motivator)
  • Sunday REST DAY

May 27, 2009

Around the track

The big picture: I've run four days in a row- with a tempo, medium long run, and a track workout. The smaller details: today's tracky time involved alternating 400s and 800s & I love my new white running tank top.

It was a sneaky workout because the 400s go by so fast (all under 1:48) and then you feel like you're cruising on the 800 but all of a sudden (after a lap and a half) your legs feel the burn. I was proud of my work on the 800s, and my best one was 3:40!

May 26, 2009

Roasty, toasty

It's going to be a warm week, but I shouldn't complain because it's much, much more beautiful than the greyness we dealt with in the Bay Area this weekend. For some reason (possibly the fact that it's week 5 of a fairly hardcore training plan!), it took a lot to pry myself out of the house and onto the sunny roads this afternoon---including a pre-run banana and a motivational google chat with Jenica :) I did the recovery run and some extra stretching. I should shower and then will be making some ziti with italian sausage for dinner....

May 25, 2009

Just about two months

The marathon's getting closer. With about two months till race day, I've registered for the SF marathon. I've even chosen my race day outfit--my Brooks black and white shorts and new hot pink tank top :> So, far the longest run has been 15.5 miles, but I'll hit 17 miles on Saturday. And today's 7 mile run in North Berkeley was fun and included a blue dragonfly!

I've been enjoying the quality workouts but am aware that it's the long, moderate paced runs that will really get me through the 26.2. In the next couple months, I'll be concentrating on adding miles each week plus stretching, ingesting protein, carbs, and water, and getting plenty of rest. Because you just can't race a race if you're injured or sick or plain ole exhausted.

May 24, 2009

Sunday tempo

I woke up feeling like a slug but dragged myself out for a late morning tempo run. I did a slightly longer than usual warm up- nearly 30 minutes. The 20-minute tempo was on the flat part of Trestle Glen, and I nailed my pace- 8:26, 8:06, 8:05! Seeing my pace under 8:30 is good news :)

On tap for the week of May 25:
  • Medium long run- about 7 miles in North Berkeley
  • Track- 400s AND 800s. Ouch!
  • Long run- 17 miles with 4 miles at goal marathon pace (GMP). Yikes!

May 22, 2009

Under construction

With 2299 feet of ascent and 2400 feet of decent, today's long run (15.6 miles) was challenging. The morning was cool and foggy enough, but it got a little muggy and the headwind toward the end of the run was a bit cruel. Other cruel things--dodging bikers and construction workers on the GG Bridge, the nasty uphill near the Legion of Honor & taking a cold water (no ice this time) bath to chill my legs!

Yikes- I'm trying to remind myself that right now is the building phase, so higher mileage and a bit more exhaustion. Things might not be so pretty right now & everything's working hard to get stronger, but it will pay off :)

May 21, 2009

Thursday eight

There's nothing like the day after the end of the semester/first day of summer!

Celebratory treats included a nice medium long run (8 miles), followed by a Peet's iced latte and an Arizmendi muffin and picking up bagels for my hubby. So fun & delish :P

Some running stuff I've been thinking about:
*How much could I increase my weekday mileage without risking injury, dead legs, or burnout?
*When is the optimal time to do the hardcore training pre-marathon? It seems like the month before the taper should have the highest mileage- so early June to early/mid-July.

May 19, 2009

Done, done

Jeepers, I think I earned tomorrow's rest day by completing today's hill workout. Due to the end of the semester, I was operating on a sleep deficit plus loads of caffeine. Additionally, I'd babysat in the morning so had been on my feet (including a walk with my nephew in his Bob stroller) and needed to do the workout in the afternoon (morning is definitely my prime running time!). I guess I've complained enough :)

The beef of today's workout was longer hill repeats. So I did five 90 second hill runs. I tried to run the uphills at about 5K effort- so speedier than race pace though not an all-out sprint. It's nice to know that TWO of this week's workouts are already done. And I'll be done with this week's long run before the weekend. Whew!

May 18, 2009

Week of May 18

Other than letting my legs and liver recover from a fun race weekend, what's on tap for this week?!? Well...
  • Hill repeats- Five 70-90 second repeats, so I need to find a longer hill that's NOT Hayes Street ;)
  • Medium long run- about 80 minutes at medium pace
  • Long run (on Friday!)- 15.5 miles- probably in SF
  • Tempo run- on the weekend- about 6 miles with 20 minutes at tempo pace- should be flat

May 17, 2009

Bay to Breakers '09

It was a hot, hot, hot California day. Bay to Breakers was a great race, and I'm pleased with my time of 1:09!

Garmalade calculated my average pace to be 9 min/mile (with a mile 2 of 10:05 and a speedy mile in GG Park of 8:25). The official results told me that I placed 178th out of over 1500 female runners in the 30-39 age group; the 1st place runner in my age group was Olympic medalist-Deena Kastor :) This is definitely a race that I want to run again.

I kept a relaxed pace for the first couple miles and then raced up Hayes Street Hill--very fun and some hard work for the legs. I was a sweaty mess on the top of the hill. I got a pretty bad side stitch (might have been caused by the post-Hayes St. downhill running!) around mile 5 but still managed to finish with a kick :O Yes, there were costumed and nekked runners! Yes, there was fun music along the course, and the course itself covers the diverse terrain of SF.

Here are some race pix...thanks, Jenica, for documenting this event!

May 16, 2009

Fun race

I'll be waking up at 5am and heading to a BART station. Why? Well, Bay to Breakers starts at 8am tomorrow :)

Yes, it's a race (pretty sure it's SF's largest road race, by far)- all 12k/7.4 miles of it- but I don't have a serious goal. I have a rough plan: start conservatively but work on the way up Hayes Street hill and then see if I can run a few fast downhill (!!) miles downhill in Golden Gate Park. I'm crossing my fingers that I'll get race pictures :P And Garmalade will be on my wrist to record my every step.

May 15, 2009

Caring for dead legs

Yesterday my legs felt dead tired...yucky tired. I'm blaming the 400s for shredding my quads.

I drank lots of water to flush out any remaining lactic acid, especially in my quads. I took a bath to loosen my muscles. I also spent some quality time with the foam roller to get some kinks out. Ouch! The hope is to fend off any soreness or overtraining issues.

Today my legs feel a bit better, though not 100%. I did a mellow run and did not--at any point--push the pace. I really just ran to get blood flowing through my muscles. I'm continuing to drink plenty of water (especially in this heat wave!) and will do some more foam rollin' soon.

**Please note that when you google foam roller, some odd photos pop up, but I tried to pick a relatively neutral pic

May 13, 2009

Six 400s

It was a perfect day for a tough track workout that reminded me how fast my legs can move. Big thanks to Jenica for joining me in Oakland for speed work around our favorite oval :)

The rhythm of running a 400 (1 lap) followed by 2 minutes of walking/jogging felt good. I challenged myself to run the sixth interval hard, and it ended up being my fastest--1:40. The best news--tomorrow's a rest day & it's easy running till Bay to Breakers on Sunday morning!

May 12, 2009

Mileage, schmileage

Currently, I'm running over 35 miles per week. By mid-June, my mileage will be close to 45 miles per week. In comparison, while training for the New Orleans marathon in 2004-05, I ran less than 30 miles per week. So I've ramped up my mileage significantly. I've also added some quality runs that are much more challenging. Track, hills, and tempo workouts really boost your threshold and tolerance of running faster & harder.

However, some intense marathon training programs ask people to run 55 to 75 miles per week. That's a whole lot of miles!! I could imagine running closer to 50 miles per week- probably by extending one weekday run to around 12 miles and running about 20 miles on the weekend. But how do you keep your hips, knees, calves, tendons, and feet happy when you're subjecting them to THAT many miles?? I'm not certain that I'm built to run 55 or more miles per week- plus that would take a lot of time :O I think it's worthwhile to see the fruits of this marathon training cycle before checking out the extreme-high mileage plans.

May 11, 2009

New path

I think medium long runs are becoming my new favorite kind of workout. It's long enough that you get into a solid running groove and cover a bunch of ground, yet it's short enough that you don't need to worry about gu or hitting the wall! Today I ran up Moraga and around the paths of Piedmont Park. Then I ran back down to Grand Avenue and partially around Lake Merritt.

And there's a new pedestrian path around the lake- yay! The paved path is nice and smooth, though I miss the softness of the dirt/gravel trail. No more being crammed on the sidewalk. A bonus- there seemed to be fewer birds (especially pidgeons--which repulse me) on the path :) The path around Lake Merritt is definitely one of the gems of Otown!

What else is on tap for this week?
  • Track- 400s
  • Bay to Breakers- 7.4 mile race! It should be fun to push the pace and see how I hold up on the hills. I just registered last night and will not be in an appropriately paced corral, but it should be okay.

May 10, 2009

Trajectory of long runs

When I woke up this morning, my legs felt better than Friday or Saturday before the long run. Umm, how does a 15 miles run heal your legs? I'm not sure, but I do love long runs. Here's a visual of how I'll ramp up the mileage of weekend long runs:

Yes, there will be some tough weeks in June, but there's time in July to taper before the race!

May 9, 2009

The heat is on

This week's long run was 15 miles. Because I was anticipated the summery heat, I wore shorts, a light tank top, and my visor. And, yes, it was hot on the island of Alameda, though the bay breezes were helpful and rejuvenating when we ran around Bay Farm Island.

The flatness of Alameda's paths is welcome for long runs, especially when I've ramped up multiple parts of my training all-at-once! Mile 13-14 was my fastest because I treated it as a tempo mile on tired legs. The mile felt long, but it was nice to use different muscles and push the speed :O

ps- I keep forgetting to bring my camera on training runs, but it will happen SOON....

May 8, 2009

Wellness and happiness

Bhutan has been a leader in quantifying well-being and happiness through the concept of gross national happiness (GNH). In comparison to GNP, GNH places value on physical, mental, and social wellness economic as well as environmental and economic wellness.

Today's sunshiney 60 minute run increased my gross personal happiness by contributing to my physical and mental wellness. I think the latte from the Hudson Cafe helped boost the local economy, which is always nice for overall happiness. When I think of my quality of life, I think of my caring hubby and our ridiculous cat, time spent running and enjoying the great outdoors, and delectable meals. Running definitely is related to my wellness and happiness, and I do hope that everyone finds the activities and places that make them happy.

May 7, 2009

Lions pool

I decided to take advantage of today's warm and sunny rest day by going for a mellow swim. I've discovered that Oakland's public pools have reasonable facilities, are quite well maintained, and are a great value for lap swimming. All in all, a fantastic example of a public good. So I drove up to Dimond Park, parked in a lot, wandered around and down a path to find the pool's entrance. The pool is tucked into a canyon in the lower part of the Oakland hills. After paying the $3 entrance fee, I was soon easing myself into the pool's slow lane :O

Jenica motivated me to cross train, but we also know that cross training need to be pretty easy so the legs can recover. I warmed up with a few nice and easy laps of breaststroke. I did a few faster laps- a couple freestyle (I never know what to do with my legs while doing the freestyle) and a couple more breaststroke. Then I cooled down with some relaxing laps of breastroke. My lap swimming pace is slow plus my form is not at all professional, but this otter loves aquatherapy!

May 6, 2009

Better hills

Week 2's hill repeats went great, which means the pain was moderate :O I chose a more gradual hill and concentrated on maintaining good form. I did seven 1-minute repeats with about 2 minutes of jogging in between. Whew! I did some extra stretching afterwards and savored a chocolate protein shake.

Toward the end of the workout, I crossed paths a couple times with an adorable older (probably around 80 years old) woman who was power walking in a cute-as-a-button lilac velour tracksuit. We said hi to each other and smiled. And I truly hope that when I reach her age, even if I'm not huffing and puffing and hauling myself up hills, I'll be out and about on walks!

May 5, 2009

Gettin' better by takin' it easy

Even though it was gray and humid, today's recovery run went by very quickly. The streets were quieter than usual. I chose a relatively flat route, but I've noticed that most of my routes include some for-realz hills. Jenica had the idea that I should drive to a flat route for easier runs, and I might do that this Friday. I avoided most puddles and reminded myself to take it easy ;)

I know that recovering and rest are essential parts of being a runner, especially a marathoner. As training continues, I'll need to focus on running my recovery runs nice 'n' slow, stretching, sleeping, hydrating, and getting extra protein and carbs.

May 4, 2009


There's and yin and yang to marathon training. It's impossible to race 26.2 miles without some fairly rigorous training (unless you want to be in a world of pain!!).

At the same time, training too hard by increasing mileage too quickly or simply running too fast without adequate recovery has its drawbacks. Obviously, completing an assortment of workout builds up muscles and blood vessels and heart and lung and breathing stuff. More ambiguously, training boosts your confidence so you can tackle a tougher race pace and muster the attitude kick it in at the end. If workouts are tough or if I'm sweating a lot, I remind myself that it'll make the race seem like cake :P A 9:40 pace would have me finishing the SF marathon around 4:15, but I have some confidence that I can average 9:30 miles...Yikes! Typing that made me feel less confident and more ouchy.

Today's medium long run felt great and raised my confidence that I'm able to cruise along at a solid pace for longer distances. Workouts like today make me realize that I'm getting stronger because when you're stronger, you feel great cruising down the road- well, sidewalk.

May 3, 2009

Take two

Tomorrow is the first day of the second week of marathon training. I usually don't keep track of weeks in this way, but blogging seems to draw attention to my training schedule and overall timeline for getting prepared for the July race. This will be a slightly easier week of training.

I've also been thinking about running more with my ipod. The SF Marathon doesn't have tons of crowd support, and I thought that listening to music could help me stay in a groove. A first step would be start using the ipod more while training and also make a new playlist for the shuffle.

On tap for this week
Key 1: Medium long run
  • 70 minutes
Key 2: Hills
  • 6-7 1 min. hill repeats- may choose a more gradual hill (Pleasant Valley?) to simulate racing conditions
Key 3: Weekend Long run
  • 15 miles- A coastal tour of Alameda

May 2, 2009


Every once in awhile, I imagine the type of tales that I will tell in 50 years. I might mention today's harrowing rainy day run in San Francisco. The 13.8 mile run involved 2608 feet of ascent and 2562 feet of descent. And yes, it was uphill both ways! The perks included cruising down past the Cliff House and hot coffee at the end (thanks, J!). Oh, and a Saul's pastrami sandwich for lunch really hit the spot :P

The run made me feel good about training for a marathon and ready for the challenging weeks ahead. I think my legs have the strength to take on the longer runs. I know that each run will help my heart and lungs can do the tough work over the legendary SF terrain.

May 1, 2009

May day

To celebrate May day, I didn't run with flowers in my hair or skip around a may pole, but I did wear a red shirt and dragged myself out for a tough tempo run. The morning was gray with many clouds and higher humidity than usual. My legs felt quite good on the primarily uphill warmup.

I worked hard during the 20 minute tempo portion and pushed myself up one big hill and one medium (but longer) hill. On the flipside, there was a yahoo of a downhill; I might as well have run down a waterslide! On the downhill, I concentrated on my form and balance and used my arms.

The conclusion is that I'm happy I didn't bag this key run...Viva el tempo workouts!!
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