Race Recap: Danville 10K

Building off my PR at the Oakland 5K, I decided to try to PR at the 10K distance. Since Cathryn was going for the same goal and signed up for the Danville 10K, I decided to follow suit. Even though it would probably be hot, I knew that the course, which runs along the Iron Horse Trail, is paved, relatively flat, and out-and-back, which mean it would be easier to run exactly 6.2 miles. Plus, regardless of what happened, we would have brunch after, which is always a win in my book!

Training had not gone quite as well as it did for the Oakland 5K, so going into race day, I didn’t feel particularly confident. Did I think I had a good chance of knocking off some time from my almost 3-year-old 10K PR of 52:51? Yes, I thought that was very possible. The question was how much time, and how much of a strugglefest would it be to get there?

My basic race strategy was something like this:

  • Don’t go out too fast, like at LMJS last month.
  • Related: stay behind Cathryn and Angela, who were aiming for 50 minutes. (My vague “A goal” was 51:xx.)
  • Try to hang on to Cathryn and Angela for as long as possible without driving myself into the ground.
  • Try to run a negative split.
  • Dig deep and continue to push in miles 5 and 6, where I struggled tremendously during last month’s LMJS race.

What I forgot (until after the race) was that the course has a very slight decline going out, and a very slight incline on the way back. So the negative split would be even tougher to accomplish than usual. Then, as the race morning forecast came in, I had to further adjust my expectations. It was supposed to be sunny and 75-80 degrees by the time I finished the race, and I haven’t been training in the heat at all. (I know, we’re kind of wimpy here in Northern California. Just for perspective, it’s been overcast and in the 50’s for all of my morning runs.) With the temps in mind, I readjusted my goals to basically forget about time and just go for whatever felt like the right pace – hard but sustainable over 10K.

I got to the race about an hour early with LJ, the Gypsy Runner’s sister, who was attempting her first 10K. Angela and Cathryn, along with the rest of Team Ramsden, were already there, and we chatted for a while. I spent the next hour doing the usual pre-race stuff – bathroom, bib, and hip swings. Angela and I went on an easy warm-up jog and I was already drenched in sweat by the end. This was going to be a sweatfest! I felt really bad for the half marathon runners. Danielle came to spectate and support us, which was super awesome.

After the singing of the National Anthem, there was a flyover (race proceeds benefit the Semper Fi Fund), and then the half marathon started around 8:00 a.m. Shortly after, the 10K runners lined up. I followed Angela and Cathryn as they worked through the crowd and we lined up towards the front of the group. In retrospect, I should’ve gone all the way to front, as the race is gun-timed and I spent about 15-20 seconds (according to my Garmin) just walking to the start line after the gun went off. Precious seconds when one is trying to PR!

Once I finally started running, I took off too fast with the group. Luckily, Angela was being a good pacer and reigning Cathryn in. And since my plan was to start smart, I stayed about 3 seconds behind them for the first half mile. I felt pretty decent during the first mile, and when my Garmin beeped a mile split of 8:19, I might’ve done a fist pump. In an ideal world, I was aiming for an 8:20/mile pace as my A-goal. However, like I mentioned above, I had totally forgotten about the slight descent on the way out, which definitely helped my pace for the first 3 miles.

If you’ve ever run on the Iron Horse Trail, you’ll know that there’s really not that much to report scenery-wise. So, I mostly just focused on other runners and not getting run over at intersections. There were volunteers at each crossing to control traffic, and I made sure to thank them all. It wasn’t a closed course, either, so there was a bit of weaving around pedestrians out on a Saturday morning stroll – but generally, it wasn’t too bad. I started passing the slower half marathoners in the 2nd mile, and luckily there was no congestion with that either (i.e., no groups walking 3-4 person abreast, blocking the path). My second mile split came in at 8:17. Sweet.

Shortly after two miles, there was a drinks table with tons of volunteers, but none of them actually handing out cups. I hate to complain about this, but I really wished I didn’t have to stop for a few seconds and distinguish between Gatorade and water, then pick up the cup I wanted from the table. (According to my watch, I came to a full stop and it took me about 30 seconds to complete the whole process of picking up water, drinking and getting back to full speed.) Anyway, I made sure to grab water at every station because I knew I tend to overheat easily and stopping would be time well spent. I took a swallow of water and then splashed the rest on my neck and back. I was really glad to be running in just a sports bra and shorts because it was getting hot!

Right around the 3 mile mark, I caught up to a young girl (late teens?) and we ran together and chatted briefly, as my watch indicated a 3rd mile split of 8:19. As I approached the turn around, I cheered Angela and Cathryn going the other way. Then, I noticed 3 spectators by the turn around — it was Danielle and Team Ramsden! I was so surprised and delighted to see them! They told me and the girl that we were 5th and 6th female. Well, that was exciting! Angela and Cathryn were still visible in the distance, but quickly slipping away. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to catch up to them.

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At the turn around. Photo credit: Danielle.

Immediately after the turn around, I was cheered on by loads of 10K runners still on the “out” section, which I found really energizing. Then, I focused on trying to find LJ. I saw her at mile 3.4 and she looked great. We cheered each other on, and I went back to focusing on the race. I was dismayed to see that I was only at 3.5 miles and feeling significantly less strong (again, I forgot about the slight incline). I knew that the remainder of the race might be a struggle, so I tried to find things to focus on. At this point, Cathryn and Angela were way off in the distance, and the closest runner to me was about 20 seconds ahead. Instead of saying, “Over 2 miles to go” I tried to emphasize, “I’ve already more than halfway there.” The next goal was to get to the drinks table, which I knew was around mile 4. Shortly after I grabbed water, I stumbled along as my watch beeped another split: 8:37. Drat!

The next two miles were a struggle. I kept trying to find another gear, and I felt like I was pushing hard, only to look down at my watch and see paces in the 8:45-8:50 range. I tried to implement mini fartleks to no avail. Since I suck at math during races, I was genuinely afraid that my PR was slipping away – especially when my watch indicated the splits for miles 5 and 6 at 8:50 and 8:51, respectively. The highlight from this section of the race was one of the volunteer boy scouts at a crossing, who cheered me on with, “Don’t stop! I believe in you!” Thanks, little guy!

I was determined not to let this be a repeat of the LMJS race, where I finished 5 seconds slower than my PR, so I tried my darndest to push through the last stretch. As I came upon the finish arch, I heard people cheering my name, but I didn’t turn my head to look. The race photographer told me to smile, and at best I managed a grimace. I couldn’t make out the race clock, which was awkwardly placed behind the 1st “arch”. I saw 52:xx and had flashbacks to LMJS. I sprinted past the finish and finally saw 52:2x. Yes! A PR by almost 30 seconds!!

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About 10 feet from the finish, Danielle took this awesome photo. I swear it’s much more flattering than in real life!

Official results:
52:24 (8:26/mile)
5/67 F, 14/111 overall

Garmin results:
52:24 (8:31/mile for 6.15 miles)
Moving time: 52:05 (8:28/mile)
Elevation: 74′ gain/loss

I saw the whole crew waiting at the finish and caught up with them after going to grab some much-needed water, Gatorade, and fruit. Angela and Cathryn came in at an impressive 50:21, good for 3rd /4th place female and 9th/10th overall! It was then that I realized the person cheering my name at the finish was Layla, who surprised us all by being there on her bike! (Poor woman hasn’t been able to ride her bike outside since last summer…) I then went to wait for LJ, who unfortunately DNF’d due to knee pain. You’ll get them next time, LJ! We waited for the awards ceremony, where Angela came away with the 3rd female trophy. Then it finally time for everyone favorite post-race activitiy: BRUNCH! We had a leisurely meal at Chow, dining al fresco.

To be honest, I felt a bit deflated yesterday about my performance, that I could’ve and should’ve done better. However, a full day later, I have a bit more perspective on things – it was warm, the course didn’t lend itself to a negative split, and my training hadn’t been as consistent as it could’ve been. I still don’t know how to properly pace a 10K, obviously, but I’m not really that eager to learn how. I can be proud of the fact that I didn’t give up, even when my pace was slipping. I dug deep and worked on building resilience and grit – the two things I’ve lacked in the past. I managed to cross the finish line at ~7:30/mile pace. Also there were a lot of things that went well: I was hot, but I never overheated. My stomach felt great. My legs held up without significant hamstring pain. And in spite all of the sweat: no chafing!

What’s next? The year of PR attempts continues! I’m planning on racing the Brazen Summer Breeze half marathon in August to try to take down my previous PR of 1:58:51 (Kaiser, 2014). That’s still my first and only sub-2 half marathon to date. I would love to finish Summer Breeze closer to 1:56. Then, in December, I’ll be returning to where it all started: the California International Marathon. My current marathon PR is from Santa Rosa last year (4:21:52). I know it’s WAY too early to say anything about time goals, but I’d love to knock at least 10 minutes off that time. Apart from running, I need to work on strength training and injury prevention. I only recently realized that my hamstring issue may be related to a tight IT band. A bit of foam rolling indicated that my ITB was super tight, and rolling it has helped tremendously with the hamstring issue.

Anyway, I’ll stop rambling here. Thanks for reading! If you’re interested in the race details, see below.:)

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About the race:

  • Website: Danville Half Marathon and 10K
  • Cost: Early registration for the 10K was a very reasonable $35, and went up to $45 on March 1. Race day registration was $55. The half marathon was $55 early/65 after March 1/75 race day. All proceeds went to the Semper Fi Fund.
  • Course: A majority of the course is on the Iron Horse Trail, which is a relatively flat, paved path. The first and last 0.2 miles are on neighborhood streets. There were many intersection crossings, manned by volunteers. I’d say about 80% of course was shaded? The course is fairly straightforward, except for the sections not on the Iron Horse Trail. I was lucky to have some runners ahead of me who knew where they were going, but I could see how you could get lost.
  • Parking: A lot of (free) parking at the LDS church where the start/finish area is located.
  • Aid stations: Water and Gatorade stops at ~0.7 mile, ~2 miles, ~4 miles, ~5.5 miles. No one was handing out cups at the station at miles 2 and 4.
  • Bathrooms: The LDS church was open to runners to use their bathroom facilities.
  • Swag: Short sleeve cotton tee that I skipped and a medal at the finish.
  • Post race food and drinks: Water, Gatorade, and fruit (watermelon, oranges, and bananas). There may have been other food, but I didn’t notice.
  • Other notes: I thought this was a really nicely organized local race. In cooler temps, this would be a great race to attempt a PR. However, because it’s benefiting the Semper Fi Fund, I think they purposely plan it for Memorial Day weekend. I wouldn’t be keen to run the half marathon here, mostly because the course is monotonous and the weather is likely to be warm. One last note – to counteract the temps, I wished that the race started an hour earlier.

 

 

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Gear Review: Garmin Forerunner 235

Seeing as REI is having a big sale right now ($80 off retail price!), and since I’ve had the Garmin Forerunner 235 for over 2 months, I decided now might be a good time to write up my thoughts on the watch.

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I should point out that my review is from the perspective of someone who used the Garmin 210 for 4 years, so most of my pros and cons will be based on my experience with the 210. For a super in-depth review, I highly recommend heading over to DC Rainmaker’s post.

First impressions: it’s quite big, but not as overwhelming as I expected. The strap is relatively comfortable. Overall, it’s fairly lightweight. Most of the buttons are the same as the 210, so that was easy.

Pros:

  • SO MUCH EASIER to charge and sync. Garmin has tremendously improved the clip/USB cable so there’s no need to fiddle around.
  • Wireless syncing with the Garmin Connect app. I think this feature came out with the FR 220, but to a 210 user like me, this was a huge upgrade. And Garmin Connect automatically syncs with Strava, making my life easier. (It’s why I switched from Dailymile to Strava.)
  • Significantly faster at finding GPS satellite. What used to take me about 30 seconds (sometimes longer) on my usual routes now takes me ~5 seconds. This alone is worth the upgrade, IMHO.
  • Built-in heart rate monitor (HRM). While I really liked the Mio Link, I didn’t like wearing 2 things on my wrist. More on HRM accuracy below.
  • Added scroll button = less wasted time. It used to be that the scroll button only went in one direction, meaning that if I wanted to go to the previous display or option, I’d have to scroll through the whole menu again. Now, with both up and down buttons, I can scroll faster.
  • Built-in Bluetooth for smart phone alerts. I get a vibration alert every time I get a text, phone call, or any other notifications I’ve got set up on my phone. It’s been quite nice to turn the ringer off my phone.
  • Custom workouts through Garmin Connect. I can now set up more complicated workouts (ladders, for instance) on Garmin Connect and send them to my watch. I can also set the intervals in meters without changing the settings on my watch.
  • Fitness tracker. While I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy a Fitbit, the fact that I can easily track resting heart rate, number of steps, and sleep hours has been fun.
  • Customizable displays. The workout displays can show up to 4 fields at a time and there are 4 or 5 of them. You can also get different watch faces through the Garmin app store.
  • Multiple modes: run, indoor run, cycling, or other.
  • Long battery life. I charge it every 5 days or so.

Cons:

  • Not the most accurate HRM. I can deal with a HRM that’s consistently under or over reporting, but so far I’ve encountered both. I’d say that it works about 85-90% of the time, which kinda sucks if you wanted to do HR training using this watch. In my experience, the resting HR is wildly inaccurate, but it’s probably because I loosen it up before I go to bed and it’s not making a proper contact.
  • Inaccurate sleep tracker. Good thing I didn’t buy the FR 235 as an activity tracker, because the sleep tracking sucks. At first, it was just a little off, but recently I’ve noticed that it still thinks I’m sleeping even though it senses activity (denoted by pink spikes) – for a whole 15-30 minutes! If I care about tracking sleep, then I usually go into the app and edit the times.
  • Beeping during intervals. I have 2 issues with this. First, with the 210, my watch would only beep to notify me of upcoming run/rest intervals. With the 235, it beeps during those times AND also during laps (mine is set to 1 mile), so a few times I got really confused about which interval I was on. Not a huge deal, but still kinda strange. Second, I’ve noticed inconsistent intervals between beeps. Like instead of beeping once per second, I’d hear a lag, and then it tries to catch up by beeping twice in a row really quickly. Again, not a big deal, but it can be unnerving, and makes me wonder about accuracy.
  • Inconsistencies with indoor run mode. Don’t get me wrong – I think it’s awesome that this watch can even keep track of treadmill runs. The first time, it was spot on and in full agreement with the treadmill display. The second time, it was about a quarter mile off. I don’t know if that was the fault of the watch or the treadmill.
  • Too many buttons to push in order to silence/disable Bluetooth/turn off alerts. Another minor quip, but I’ve basically resorted to turning my phone to “Do Not Disturb” mode to stop the alerts from coming through. Even when you turn the watch to “Do Not Disturb”, it still beeps! I’ve also had to lock my watch before going into meetings to prevent accidentally pushing the “Run” button. If you do that, then it will beep every 10 seconds before going into power save mode. Very annoying!

In summary, I really like the Garmin FR 235. It’s a big step up from the FR 210. If you’re looking for a great running watch with some fun (but maybe not totally accurate) bells and whistles, I highly recommend it. Let me know if you have any questions!

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Running Lately

Since it’s been a few weeks since I wrote about running, I thought I’d do a quick check-in on what’s been going on lately. To catch you up to speed: I’m training for the Danville 10K on Saturday, May 28th. Coming off of a PR at the Oakland 5K (24:52; 8:00/mile), I thought that it would be quite reasonable to aim for 8:15-8:20/mile pace at Danville. In the last 7 weeks since Oakland, my training has been all over the place. One big reason: despite coming very close to my PR at the LMJS 10K on 4/24, I took more than a week off in favor of Maui.

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“I think I can, I think I can” (Photo credit: Lake Merritt Joggers and Striders)

Now, I don’t regret that trade off; the vacation was WAY more important to me than my performance at the Danville 10K. However, I might have underestimated how 8 days off would affect my speed. (FWIW, I’m not counting the 1.5 mile run I did in Maui.) The paces of the workouts I’ve done since I’ve been back have been sad. I mean, they weren’t great before, but now it’s like I’m stuck at 8:30-8:40/mile pace and I can’t find a faster gear. I did manage a 2 x 2 mile workout averaging 8:25/mile last week, but I was *dead* at the end of it.

Then, in the theme of life/fun >> training, I went out this past Saturday night for girls’ night out. I had a few too many drinks and stayed up way past my bed time. Do I regret it? No. Did my run suffer for it? Of course!

So I’m definitely recalibrating expectations and aiming to run smart at Danville. I want to start on the conservative side and hopefully speed up — i.e., the opposite of what I did at Lake Merritt. I’m also going to spend the next 10 days getting my mind ready for the fight. I think it’s going to be an “expect the worst but hope for the best” situation. I’m going to try my best; that’s the only thing I can control.

The one thing that looks promising is the weather; I had expected warm temps, but it’s been quite cool lately. I hope writing this down doesn’t jinx it!

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Maui: Hits & Misses

Note: I started writing this post a week ago, but never posted it because: (1) it’s a recap of my vacation and I wasn’t sure if anyone would want to hear about that on a running blog; (2) even though I hope my reviews/thoughts might be helpful to somebody out there, some of it does get a bit laborious (and boring, IMHO); (3) it’s a bit, “LOOK AT ME & MY AWESOME VACAY!!!” – which is something I try to avoid. All that said, I personally enjoy reading about other people’s vacations and especially seeing photos, and since I’ve written the darn thing anyway, here’s the post! Hope you enjoy it!

**

Hi y’all! It’s been real quiet around here, mostly because the Gypsy Runner and I went to Maui for 5 days last week. It was our first *real* vacation in ages, without any plans to see friends or family, or attend any official functions. WOOT! Before I forget all about it, I wanted to write down some highlights for future reference – both for myself or for anyone planning a trip to Maui.

The basics: we booked a travel package through Pleasant Holidays, which included roundtrip flights (OAK – OGG), 5-night stay at a condo, and 5-day car rental with Hertz. Because it’s considered low season in late spring (and also in mid-autumn, FYI), we got an amazing deal. I priced it out a la carte and we would’ve paid at least $400 more. That was also assuming we went with a cheaper car rental – both in terms of rental company and car size.

We stayed at the Lahaina Shores Beach Resort, a 7-story, 200 condo building at the southern end of Lahaina. It was conveniently located, about 1/2 mile easy walk to “downtown” Lahaina, where all of the shops and restaurants were. We had a studio that had a full kitchen and a spacious bathroom. It was a bit dated, but clean. There was also a pool, a hot tub, and beach access, though the beach at Lahaina Shores wasn’t the best. We stayed in a condo managed by the hotel side of the resort; there are tons of units available through VRBO, so it might be worth it to check those out.

I enjoyed staying in Lahaina, since there were a lot of good restaurants close by, and it was nice to walk around at night. It helped that all of the people hawking goods and tours weren’t all that pushy or in your face. I think it’s a good place to stay for couples. Families might do better in Ka’anapali or Kihei. I also thought that Lahaina was centrally located and made it easy for us to explore other parts of the island.

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Sunset in Lahaina

Even though Maui is a small island, there are a lot of things to do and places to see. We decided to prioritize the beach and water-related activities — and also eating! I lobbied for doing the road to Hana, and I also went to the Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm on my own one morning while the GR watched the Warriors playoff game. We decided to skip the famous sunrise at Haleakalā Volcano because it would involve getting up at 2:00 a.m. and we weren’t even guaranteed that it would be a good one! For cost reasons, we also skipped expensive excursions such as boat tours and ziplining. I don’t have any regrets about how we chose to spend our time.

So instead of rambling on even more than I have already, here’s a list of hits and misses from our trip. Luckily, there are a lot more hits than misses!

Hits:

  • Snorkeling: ‘Ahihi Cove and Makena Beach (south Maui). We saw a sea turtle at Makena!
  • Beaches (swimming, lounging): Big Beach (South), Kahekili (West)

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    Kahekili beach

  • Eats: Nalu (Kihei), 808 Grindz (Lahaina), Mama’s Fish House (Paia), Fish tacos at Lahainaluna Cafe (Lahaina), Ululani shave ice (Lahaina)
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    Poke special at Nalu

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    Kalua moco (pulled pork with gravy) at 808 Grindz – delicious, filling, and affordable.

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    Mama’s Fish House – one of the best (and most expensive) meals I’ve ever had

  • Waterfall: Wailua Iki (Road to Hana) – mostly because we had it to ourselves.IMG_9169
  • Coolest tree: Banyan trees

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    The giant banyan tree in Lahaina

  • Super friendly locals! I sorta expected an anti-tourist fake friendliness, but most of the people we interacted with had the aloha spirit.
  • Happy Hour at the Sea Horse Restaurant in Nipali. Piña coladas and fried calamari FTW.

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    “If you like pina coladas…”

  • Best value: $6.99 poke bowl at Foodland!

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    Tuna poke with furitake (roasted seaweed), with a side of kimchee edamame.

Misses:

  • I almost lost my iPhone at the Maui airport! After we landed, I was so excited to change out of my jeans and sneakers and into shorts and flip flops that I left my phone in the bathroom stall. Oops. I didn’t realize I left it until we were waiting for the Hertz shuttle, at which point I rushed back into the airport and had to get TSA to help me, since the bathroom was after the security checkpoint. Luckily, the phone was still in the same stall, and the security officer retrieved it for me. Whew! That would’ve been an awful way to start the trip!
  • $20 coconut by Big Beach. Always ask how much something is before you order it!
  • Road to Hana. I wouldn’t say that this was a total “miss” because we definitely saw some cool things, but I don’t think we went about it in the best way. We started too late, got caught up in the crowds, and could’ve done better with a 4WD vehicle — even though all of the guidebooks say that a regular car is fine. We survived with our Nissan Altima, but a Jeep or a SUV might have been better. I also think it’s too much in one day; it would’ve been better to split up into two days and get to some of the sights before the crowds.

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    Spectacular waterfall at the end of the Pipiwai Trail, but shame that there wasn’t anywhere to sit and enjoy it.

  • Chilangos Mexican food in Lahaina. Ugh…worst meal I’ve had in ages *anywhere*. The GR’s cheese quesadilla came with lettuce in it. LETTUCE. We stopped trusting Yelp reviews after that.

Tips:

  • If you plan on renting gear, see what kind of package discounts are offered. We rented from The Snorkel Store, which had a flat weekly fee for snorkel sets, boogie boards, beach chairs, and an umbrella. Their definition of a week is 3-8 days, so rent early and return at the end of your trip!
  • Beach musts: hat, towel, and sunblock. Everything was twice as expensive in Maui, so bring some from the mainland.
  • The sun is very, very strong in Maui. Sun protection is a must!
  • As I stated above re: Chilangos — don’t trust Yelp reviews. Because of all of the tourists, there’s no context when someone says, “It’s the best Mexican food I’ve ever had!” That can mean a lot or nothing at all, depending on where they live and if their only access to Mexican food is Taco Bell.
  • Plan activities based on weather and surf conditions. For us, snorkeling conditions/visibility were perfect early on, and got progressively worse, at which point, the GR switched to boogie boarding. This was another perk of renting gear for the whole trip, so we had the flexibility to switch between activities, depending on conditions and which beach we were at.
  • Foodland grocery store has great discounts for members, and all you need to become a member is give them your cell phone number. There’s no card and you don’t need to sign up. So easy!
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    Aloha!

    In summary, if you like warm, clear water and beautiful beaches, Maui is for you!

 

 

 

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Pleasanton Ridge, Hamstring Issues, & a Practice Race

We came upon a flock of sheep. It was amazing!

I’ve been trying to avoid turning this blog to a training log. Even though it’s useful for me, I know it can get boring for others. But I find that when I’m deep into a training cycle, and also busy with work, it’s hard for me to be creative and write about something *other* than training. So, too bad for you – here’s what’s been happening the last 2 weeks:

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Week of April 11: My new Garmin has too many buttons and apparently, I don’t know how to use them. I accidentally skipped the warm-up by pressing the lap button during a 20 x 200 m workout. Oops! Most of my splits were slower than my target pace, but I was just happy to graduate up to 20 intervals. It was a lot!

Two days later, I managed to use my Garmin correctly to execute a 25-minute tempo run. Average pace during the tempo segment was ~8:30/mile, which I was happy with.

Saturday was an easy 6-mile run; I kept it below my aerobic threshold and felt pretty good. On Sunday, I joined Layla, Kristen, and two of Layla’s friends for a trail run at Pleasanton Ridge. I knew it would not be an easy run, especially since I’m out of trail shape and also because my one previous outing at Pleasanton Ridge was a tough one. On the plus side, it was gorgeous and green, and the company was great! We ended up covering over 12 miles and 2200+ feet of elevation gain. Woof!

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Week of April 18: After Sunday’s trail run, my legs were toast. My left hamstring, which had been whining off and on throughout 5K training, was pretty angry. I decided to keep my runs easy until my hamstring felt better. This resulted in 3 easy runs on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. I had signed up for the Lake Merritt Joggers and Striders 4th Sunday 10K as a practice race, so I figured that I’d save my race pace workout for Sunday.

Today (Sunday) was race day! I wasn’t as mentally prepared for this race as I usually am. It’s been almost 3 years since I ran a road 10K, so the idea of stringing together 6.2 fast miles was a bit daunting. I felt like I could PR (52:51), but I also knew that the course would present challenges. For one thing, the course isn’t closed and very narrow at parts, so there’s always some pedestrian dodging. Second, the 10K requires 2 laps around Lake Merritt, which is mentally tough. Most runners do the 5K so it gets pretty lonely during the 2nd lap. Finally, there are tiny hills that feel like mountains when you’re trying to run your fastest. But I figured that regardless of the outcome, I’d get a practice race in before the Danville 10K. Plus, the Gypsy Runner and I are heading to Maui soon, and a hard race effort would also lessen the guilt I’ll feel for taking 5 days off from training.

I did a short warm-up (0.8 miles) before the race. There were a lot of runners – including a group of vision-impaired participants, as well as a large contingent from She Runs, a women’s running group. I lined up near the front and took off too fast, close to 7:30/mile pace. This is the danger of a mixed 5K/10K/15K start with a slight downhill. Eventually, I settled down and tried to keep pace with some of the more relaxed-looking runners around me. I noticed that I kept losing focus and my pace subsequently slipped. I finished the first lap in 26 minutes flat. I figured if I could keep up an 8:30 pace for the second lap, I could PR, but just barely.

As I predicted, the second lap was challenging. I tried to stay with a steady older guy who was maintaining ~8:25/mile pace. To keep myself engaged, I started using pedestrians to leap frog. I would run up to them at a steady pace, then sprint past. These pick-ups helped to break up the monotony and made the miles go by faster. By the last mile, I was really struggling. I looked down at my watch and saw 9:xx/mile. I knew I was slowing down, but I didn’t think I was going that slowly. Then, the course dropped down to the narrow path by the Lake, where I had to dodge a lot of people. I had to come to a complete stop at one point, which was frustrating. Oh, and did I mention the headwind?

I was coming up to the final stretch and saw that I had 2 minutes left to PR. It was going to be close. I pushed hard, but I cursed out loud as I approached the finish line with 52:5x showing on the race clock. My official time was 52:56, 5 seconds off my PR. D’OH!

My Garmin data: 52:56 for 6.3 miles (8:24/mile).
Splits: 8:08, 8:20, 8:27, 8:26, 8:28, 8:45, 7:57 (for 0.3 miles)

It was a bummer to come so close to beating my PR and miss it by 5 seconds. I don’t know what happened during that 5th mile (8:45 split) – most likely, it was a combination of fatigue and pedestrian traffic. I didn’t feel like I let my foot off the gas, but apparently that’s what happened. Regardless, it was a good practice race for Danville. Now I know I’m in good enough shape to PR, so it will be a matter of improving my pacing strategy (not going out too fast, for one), and working on long intervals. I’m going to skip the short, fast stuff in favor of tempos and 2-mile repeats. Also, I had to remind myself that today’s goal wasn’t to PR, but to use it as a practice race and help me determine what I need to work on in the next 5 weeks. So, as far as that goes, I accomplished my goal.

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Posted in Race Recap, Training

Never Go to Bed Hangry

Training-wise, this past week was pretty lackluster. I had a serious bout of (allergy induced?) sinus pain on Monday and Tuesday, which meant no workout on Tuesday. In its place, I did some easy laps at a nearby park, walk/jogging to sweat out the bad stuff.

By Thursday, I was feeling a bit better, so I attempted a long interval workout: 2 miles at 10K effort, 4 minute recovery, then another mile at 10K effort. I’m working my way up to 2 x 2 mile repeats at race pace, but I wanted to take it easier since I hadn’t been feeling well. I think race effort was the right call, because despite running at an effort level harder than last week’s tempo, I ended up running the same pace (8:30/mile). That was disappointing, but clearly, my body wasn’t feeling 100% and still getting over whatever had affected me earlier in the week.

Saturday morning, I woke up feeling extremely unmotivated. It was raining out, and I was very lethargic and also HUNGRY. My #1 mistake? Eating only two tiny taco truck tacos for dinner on Friday night. I read recently that the number one training mistake to avoid, in terms of nutrition, is to never go bed hungry. After this weekend, I agree! Although I ate breakfast, I was still starving, which didn’t help motivate me to get out the door. I eventually got to the treadmill and did the workout I meant to do on Tuesday: 8 x 400 m with 90 second recovery intervals. For entertainment, I watched a junky reality TV show on my phone while the lady next to me on the Stairmaster decided to belt out random “OH”s and “Uh-Huh!”s, and the random swear word, as she sung along with whatever was on her playlist. It was one of the strangest experiences I’ve ever had on the treadmill. She was singing so loudly that I’m pretty sure the whole gym could hear her. On one hand, I was like, “You go, girl!” On the other, I found her behavior rude and annoying. But the time passed quickly enough.

I think I was hungry all day Saturday, even though I ended up eating 2 lunches. It’s Monday and I’m still hungry, though I think that has to do with not eating enough yesterday either. Grr. Anyway! On the bright side, Sunday’s long run was pretty nice. I ran for 2 hours along the shoreline, where I was fortunate to avoid the rain, though there was a decent headwind on the back end of the run. The wildflowers are blooming now and it’s so pretty.

IMG_5339

Just a small clump of wildflowers at the shoreline.

The only downside of the run came afterward, when I drove by my favorite donut shop and it was already closed. Whomp whomp. I had been looking forward to a special post-run treat for the whole second half of my run, so I was pretty disappointed. The shop’s hours are technically 4:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and it was only 11:30, but they close early  when they run out of donuts. I’ll have to consider this the next time I get a late start on my long run…

Finally, I have to make a confession: I ate fast food not just once, but twice, this week. The first time was Tuesday, when I had stayed home from work due to the sinus pain. McDonald’s chicken McNuggets with sweet ‘n’ sour sauce are my kryptonite, and I’ve managed to avoid eating them for years… until Tuesday. I broke down and decided that I wanted to treat myself, so I asked the Gypsy Runner to pick up a chicken McNugget value meal. Was it worth it? Totally. The second instance was on Sunday, post-donut debacle, when I found myself starving and needing calories. In desperation, I drove to Wendy’s and got a spicy chicken sandwich meal, which was definitely not good and not worth it.

Luckily, today is the start of new week and hopefully a diet and training do-over. Wish me luck!

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Posted in Training

Getting Up to Tempo

Sorry for the title, but I can’t resist a pun…

Last week was my first week of training toward the Danville 10K. My plan is essentially the same structurally as what I did for the Bank of the West Oakland 5K, just more of everything. However, for the first week of training, I didn’t want to jump into the deep end right away.

For example: for 5K training, I did fartlek intervals of 10 x (1 min on/1 min off). For the 10K, I’d like to get up to 20 repeats, but that seems like a big jump from 10. So, for the first week of training, I compromised and did 15 intervals. And wow – the difference between 10 and 15 repeats is huge! Ten intervals seem to go by so much faster. I think that getting up to 20 repeats will really help me with both speed and mental stamina.

My other workout of the week was a tempo run. For those who don’t know, a tempo run is supposed to be done at your lactic threshold, so they’re sometimes called anaerobic threshold runs. Because they challenge your system aerobically without overtaxing it, tempo runs are the bread and butter of every training plan, from the 5K up to full marathon. They can range from the classic 20 minute tempo, up to 75 minutes (with warm-up and cool-down, of course). Alternatively, you can do tempo intervals – usually something like 2 x 15-20 minutes with 4-5 minute jog recovery in between.

It seems like just about every running coach/website/blog recommends doing tempo runs, but if you look around, there’s a lot of varying information out there on how fast to do your tempo runs. Outside of getting tested at a exercise physiology lab or buying a device that measures your lactic acid levels, there doesn’t seem to be a hard and fast rule regarding tempo pace. Not to mention, your threshold may vary based on daily fluctuations in hydration, nutrition, rest, etc. And your lactic threshold will definitely change as you get fitter. A lot of articles I’ve read say that tempo pace for most people is somewhere between your 10K and half marathon pace. Some get more specific and say 10-15 seconds per mile slower than 10K pace. But if you haven’t run a 10K in a while, like me, then the best you can do is take your most recent race time, plug it into the McMillan Running calculator, get a predicted 10K pace and go from there. Another article by Jenny Hadfield describes running tempo by feel. Essentially, she recommends using the talk test to measure effort. While running below threshold, she says that it should be relatively easy to recite The Pledge of Allegiance. However, as you approach threshold, your breath gets more labored until you can only spit out one word at a time. That’s the tempo pace for the day, and the best part this approach is that it will adjust to your fitness accordingly. Plus, it’s free and easy. By the way, if you’re gasping for air, you’ve gone too far into anaerobic, and it’s time to rein it back in. (I also found this article by Mario Fraioli to be pretty helpful in terms of tweaking tempo workouts, depending on your race distance and weeks before race day.)

So, armed with this knowledge, I embarked on a 20-minute tempo run last Thursday morning. I warmed up with an easy mile, then started on my tempo, quietly reciting The Pledge under my breath as I increased my pace. I settled into a one-word-at-a-time pace, which turned out to be around 8:30/mile. According to McMillan, 8:30/mile is on the slow end of my tempo range, but I was happy with that pace for my first outing. Plus I was really consistent – 8:30 for the first mile, and 8:29 for the second. My only “complaint” is that I only ran for 17 minutes instead of 20 as planned. I mistook the Garmin auto-lap beep as the “end of interval” alert, so I pressed lap until I got to the cool down window. My old Garmin never did auto-laps during intervals, so I had no idea that this was going to happen. At first, I was really mad at my Garmin for “malfunctioning”, but then I realized it was my own fault. Ha! Oh, technology…

Finally, the other run worth noting from last week was a trail adventure with DD, Layla, and Kristen at Lake Chabot. DD ran her first marathon at Oakland 2 weeks ago, so she and I were both itching to get back on trails. Kristen was on daughter duty, so she did a couple of out and backs on the paved portion, while DD, Layla, and I did one lap around Lake Chabot. It was perfect weather and I had great company. Plus everything was green and the Lake appears to be back to normal levels again. I wore a new pair of Altra Lone Peak 2.5’s, and they were perfect right out of the box. Awesome shoes! Then we went to have brunch at Cannery Cafe, which IMO is the best brunch spot in the Hayward/Castro Valley Area in terms of food, wait, parking, etc.

Today (Monday), I came home early from work because I’m not feeling well. Hopefully, it’s just a one-off thing, but I noticed my resting heart rate was higher than normal this morning. I will probably take it easy tomorrow – either rest or scrap the workout and just run easy. Hope you all have a great week!

 

 

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Posted in Trail running, Training
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