London Marathon: Weeks 13-17

It’s happening! In less than a week, I’ll be running the London Marathon with 40,000 of my new friends. We leave on Wednesday and I can’t wait! I’m also soooo looking forward to vacation. I figured this would be a good time to recap the final third of my training and share some thoughts regarding how I’m feeling, race strategy, etc.

Week 13: I had a work thing in SF so I stayed in Fisherman’s Wharf for part of the week. It was delightful to run to Crissy Field one morning and to the Embarcadero the next. The highlight this week was the Oakland Half Marathon, which included a 5 mile warm-up for a total of 18 miles. I was happy with my race/long run, but I think I pushed myself a little harder than I should have. My average long run pace never got faster than 11:15/mile for the rest of the training cycle. And I was soooo tired!


Moon over SF

Week 14: This was a fairly uneventful week. I gave myself an extra recovery day after Oakland. I ran 14 very slow miles — probably the worst of this training cycle in terms of headspace. However, I told myself to just put one foot in front of the other and I eventually got it done. As weird as it sounds, I was actually happy that I finally had a crappy run. I didn’t want to go into race day without any negative experiences under my belt.


Beautiful trail, ugly run 🙂

Week 15: It was a really busy week at work (including an overnight in Sacramento), but I worked proactively to get into the right mentality for Sunday’s 20 miler. My training program only called for one of these, and I wanted it to be good. I downloaded the “Dirty John” podcast and binged it. It was the perfect distraction for the slowest 20 mile run I’ve ever done. I wasn’t distressed by my speed because I felt that my effort/pace was fairly consistent. I also kept my eye on the prize — post-run lunch at Casa Latina, one of my favorites from my Berkeley days. I got an al pastor burrito and a horchata latte (best espresso drink ever!!). p+%IEWo+TXa4wggX6ePuRw

Week 16: Taper!! It didn’t really feel like taper because I was still doing the same 3-mile runs during the week like I always do. But at least I didn’t have any super long runs hanging over my head anymore. I was down in LA and San Diego for 3 days for work, which tired me out. A slow, 12 mile run closed out the week.


Oh yeah, and I got to see Mike and Katie again!

Week 17: Another week, another work trip. This time, it was down to Irvine for 2 days. This particular trip was stressful for reasons I won’t get into, but at least I got to visit with KP over dinner on Tuesday! It finally hit me this week that I’m actually leaving for London soon and maybe I should start reading more about race details and logistics. (Of course, I headed over to RaceRaves for some intel!)


So great to see KP in SoCal

In addition to running, I’ve also been going to Orangetheory Fitness every Saturday, and then doing my long run on Sunday. Because I often get such a good workout during OTF, I feel like these are almost like running doubles? I’m usually sore for 1-2 days after OTF, so I’m running on tired legs on Sunday.

London calling: yeah, so the race is next week! Am I ready? Well, I know I can complete a marathon. The question is how long will it take me? Right now, my best guess is 5 hours. I think I could finish in 4:45 if all goes well and I’m feeling good, but there’s also the distinct possibility that my undertraining results in significant bonking and/or cramping, which could mean 5:15 or 5:30. I’m not really stressed about it because the goal isn’t to run a PR, it’s to enjoy the experience. The only PR I’m planning on setting is a PR for number of photos taken during a race, lol.


I’m not normally the kind of person who goes for limited edition shoes, BUT since I needed a new pair of shoes anyway *and* when these are much cuter than the normal version… then sign me up!

See y’all when I get back!


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Posted in Training

Race Recap: Oakland Half Marathon 2019

Why: I had 18 miles on the training schedule for race weekend, and tagging a late morning half marathon on the end of it made sense to me. Oakland has always been a logistically easy race. I usually like the swag, the organization, the post-race party, and the community support.

History: before this year’s race, I’ve participated in the Oakland Running Festival 6 times

Goals/strategy: I wanted to maintain a consistent effort, from the warm-up miles to the last mile of the race. I knew it would be my slowest half marathon to-date, but I’d be happy with 11:00/mile average pace, which had been my long run pace. Mostly, I wanted to practice my race day routine, taking fuel and liquids, and pushing through the mental and fatigue.

Pre-race: Since I needed to get 5 miles in before the race, I got to Lake Merritt around 8:10am. The race didn’t start until 9:30, but I knew parking would be a hassle and I didn’t want to be rushed. I ran down to the Lake and saw the last of the 5K finishers coming in, while I ran in the opposite direction. The warm-up was uneventful. This was also my first run with my new Airpods, so I wanted to test them out during the warm up. They worked great and I’m very happy with them.


The calm before the race…

I met up with BT, who was also running the half, at 9:15. We walked over to the starting corral together. Neither of us were running this as a goal race, so we lined up between the 2:20 and 2:30 pacers.

The Race:

We didn’t even hear the race start but soon after 9:30 the crowd in front of us started surging forward. BT and I chatted easily for the first 1/2-3/4 of a mile, then she pulled off to the side to take off her outer layer. Unfortunately, this was the last time I saw her (she had quite the dramatic race, detailed here).


Thanks, Paramount Theater, for the support!


I think this was around mile 5? (Lady behind me doesn’t look too happy)

Similar to last year, I kinda went into a Zen-like state during the race, just sort of floating through. The mile markers were pretty good up until the last few which seemed to be in the wrong place. The only other criticism I have for the race organization was that there was only one aid station giving out fuel (Gu, Gu chews). I’m glad I brought my own stash of Gu!


I think this has to be one of my favorite race photos ever

The other disappointing thing is that it seems like crowd support has gotten thinner and thinner through the years. It may be due to the course change a few years ago, where there used to be a large crowd at Lake Merritt (old course mile 10), and those spectators could then easily get to the finish line (less than a mile away) while their runners lapped the Lake. The other difference I can think of is that the half starts at 9:30 instead of 9:10, so most of the full marathon crowd has moved on to the finish? There’s still a substantial crowd at the finish line though, and I feel like overall participation is still strong.


I can smell the finish (Mile 12)

There was one group of spectators in Chinatown that really stood out to me: a group of about 12-15 Asian seniors with signs and giving runners high-fives. In all of my years running this race, I’ve never seen any significant participation from the Chinatown community, so this really made an impression. Of course, I went out of my way to high five them and tell them thanks.

I was surprised at how steady I felt the whole time. My left hip started whining about 10 miles into the race (15 miles total) — which is typical. But, I pressed onward. I even had enough for a final kick! 7:47/mile for the last 0.13 miles. Having run the new course twice, I really like it. The start is less congested and straighter than before, and the finish is a straight downhill rather than an uphill slog.


Happy to be done!

Official results:
2:21:16 (10:47/mile); 13.13 miles (Garmin)
74/182 AG, 718/1637 F, 1689/3220 overall


Not-very-attractive race shirt and nice medal (though I preferred last year’s dual purpose bottle opener)

Final thoughts: I’m finally getting to the mental state of getting beyond that finish time and seeing the race for what it is. If I look at the time on the clock, it can be depressing — I finished 22 minutes (!!) faster last year. But, if I look at the whole picture — that these 13 miles were part of an 18 mile long run, a distance I haven’t touched since last summer, then it makes me proud. Not to mention steady pacing, consistent fueling, and mental stamina. Yes, it took me a few more days to recover from this than I expected, but I was very happy.


We earned these!

To top it all off, I had a beer and then brunch with BT after the race. What could be better?


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Posted in Race Recap, Training

London Marathon: Weeks 9-12 (Victory Half Pacing Recap)

Hi there! I’m still alive and training for the London Marathon. I’m not hitting my target weekly mileage, but the good news is that I’m still healthy and intact. Better to show up undertrained than injured, as they say.

Rather than get into the nitty gritty of specific numbers, I thought I’d just go through Weeks 9-12 in a quick summary fashion and throw in a short recap of the Brazen Victory Half Marathon, which I paced for the second time.

Week 9 (2/18): I was in LA for work, so this week consisted of a lot of treadmill runs and long hours (boo) but also amazing dinners with friends (yay). I got to see Mike and Katie, as well as family friend LO. I wrapped up the week with pacing at the Victory Half (see below) and an Orangetheory Fitness class (OTF) with KH.


The hazards of outdoor dining: it’s too dark to read the menus!

Week 10 (2/25): On the road again…this time in Hawaii. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I did two of my runs on treadmills again — mostly because I get up so early due to the time difference and it’s still too dark out for my taste. I did manage one outdoor run/hike up to Diamondhead for the sunrise. Last time I was in Honolulu for work, I got up there too late and missed the sunrise, so I was really committed to seeing it this time. While it was very beautiful, I don’t think I need to fight those crowds again anytime soon. Over the weekend, I did a long run of 15 miles (sharing 5+ with KH) and another OTF class.


Sunrise from Diamondhead. Not pictured: a couple hundred of my fellow hikers standing to the right of me.

Week 11(3/4): My 4th and final week of scheduled work travel. The destination was San Diego. Unfortunately, I was at least a mile away from the ocean, and none of the roads looked that appealing to run on, so it was back to the treadmill. 3 runs during the week and 16 miles on Sunday, with an OTF class on Saturday.


The best thing about my hotel was that it was walking distance to lots of good restaurants and food places, like 85 degrees (Chinese Bakery). (Yes, I got all of this for myself…don’t judge)

Week 12 (3/11): Home sweet home!! Finally, I didn’t have to fly anywhere and got to sleep in my own bed every night. It was wonderful. It was also a step back week, so only 12 miles for the long run and another OTF class over the weekend.


12 lovely miles at Lake Chabot

Summary: As I predicted, I haven’t had time (or motivation) to do the longer midweek runs. (I’m supposed to be up to 9 miles at this point.) This would require me waking up at 4:30 am on Wednesdays and running laps around my neighborhood. Not going to happen. On the other hand, my long runs have been really good in that I’ve kept consistent pacing and haven’t run into any big problems – physically or mentally, so I’m happy about that. I’m still hoping that the crosstraining (in particular, the strength training) I’m doing at OTF every week will pay dividends when it comes to the later miles of the marathon.


Pacing Recap: Victory Half Marathon 2019

This was the second time I signed up to pace Brazen’s Victory Half Marathon in Richmond, CA. I had a decent experience last year, minus the missed turn towards the end (my fault entirely). I thought I would sign up again to get a supported long run done, and hopefully help some people along the way to achieve their goals.


With the TVRC Pacing Crew

We lucked out with the weather — it had rained every weekend before the race, and we got clear blue skies on race day. Like last year, it was very chilly at the start, so I ran with new arm sleeves that DD gave me for my birthday.

Even though it’s a super flat course, I did expect wind and other factors to increase the difficulty. Then, before the race started, Sam announced that they had to make a slight detour at the turnaround, increasing the overall distance by ~a tenth of a mile. As a result, I aimed for 10:30/mile pace instead of 10:41.


If you squint, you can see Oakland on the left, the Bay Bridge in the middle, and San Francisco to the right.

Most of the race was uneventful. I ran with a mother/son pair for about a mile, then chatted with a nice lady for a couple more. I lost her at the turn around at the Albany Bulb. This is the only section where you go “off-roading” onto gravel and dirt. There’s also a tiny hill. I made sure to grab some fuel at this aid station both at the start and at the end of my loop because there’s 3.5 miles between aid stations.


Pacer jazz hands 😀

I was by myself for most of the way back. I chatted with a few people here and there, but nothing of significance. Despite running ahead of pace, I was still a minute behind according to the mile markers. This panicked me a little bit, so I dropped down to 10:00/mile pace for the 12th mile. As it turns out, I was stressed for nothing — I think the mile markers were a little off, because I made the final turn and had a full minute to run 100 meters. Oops. I jogged it in and still finished a tad early, 2:19:19 according to my Garmin.


V is for Victory

As always, Brazen does a bang-up job with organization, swag, and post-race treats. This isn’t the most exciting course, but it does offer some nice views across the Bay if the weather is good.

Posted in Pace Group, Training, Travel

London Marathon: Weeks 4-8 (Kaiser Half Recap)

Hello! I can’t believe I’m 8 weeks into a 18 week marathon training cycle and still haven’t cracked 13 miles for my longest run. But that’s the Hal Higdon novice plan for you. Hopefully my body will hold up to the increasing mileage in the second half of the training plan.

Here’s a quick run down of what’s been happening, followed by a short recap of the Kaiser Permanente SF Half Marathon:

Week 4 (Jan 14): 12 miles run/19 on the plan. Only two runs and one Orangetheory (OTF) session this week because I left on Thursday for Germany. The long run was 9 miles on the treadmill.

Week 5 (Jan 21): 0 miles/21 planned. What happened? Germany happened. Whomp whomp.

Week 6 (Jan 28): 19 miles/18 planned! 3 runs, including the Kaiser Half, plus one OTF session.

Week 7 (Feb 4): 23.5 miles/24 planned. 4 runs (including an 11.5 mile long run on the treadmill!!) plus one OTF session. My right knee felt pretty beat up after back to back runs on Saturday and Sunday. I’ll have to be more diligent about prehab (rolling and stretching).

Week 8 (Feb 11): 18.3 miles/25 planned. I changed the schedule so that this was a step back week, knowing that I would be in Las Vegas for 5 days for our national sales meeting. Last year, I packed 3 sets of running clothes and only ran once. This year, I managed to go twice (yay me!) — they were short runs, but something is better than nothing, amiright?

It’s pretty clear that when I’m traveling for work, my mileage takes a nosedive. I have very little control over my schedule, and even when I do have time to run, sometimes there’s no practical way for me to do it (e.g., when I was in Germany). Unfortunately, I have three more weeks of travel coming up (L.A., Hawaii, San Diego), but I’m hopeful that my schedule will be more forgiving for those trips!

2019 Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon – Race Recap

I’ve run Kaiser 5 times. It was my first sub-2 hour half marathon in 2014. In 2015, I ran it to celebrate Cathryn’s birthday. In 2017, I received a free bib (shh, don’t tell anyone). In 2018, I mostly ran it to test my fitness and have brunch with friends. And this year, I thought it would be good to build in a couple of half marathons leading up to London.

Because I’ve run this race so many times, I’m extremely familiar with the logistics and the course. I got to the lot by Ocean Beach (near the finish line) by 7am, just in time to get a parking space. The weather forecast wasn’t great – rainy and windy – but it held off for quite a while (*foreshadowing*). I wore a dollar store poncho anyway, just in case it started pouring down rain before the race started, since I still had more than an hour to wait. I took a yellow school bus to the start (thinking about Cat all the while), walked to the toilets, then went back toward the bag drop. Along the way, I ran into bt, who was signed up for the 10K. I dropped off my extra layers – including the poncho – so of course that’s when it started raining!


I enjoyed my dollar store poncho

I met up with bt again and we made our way to the front-middle of the crowd. Since I hadn’t been doing any significant running in ages, my very humble goal was to: (1) finish, (2) hopefully finish under 2:20, (3) negative split if possible.

At 8:10, the race started. I took my time and stayed at an easy effort, saving my energy for the second half of the race, which is a mind-numbing out-and-back 6 miles along the water. This was the first race ever where I decided to listen to an audiobook, because I knew I wasn’t going to be racing-racing, and because I really needed to get through Michelle Obama’s Becoming before I returned it to the library! (BTW, I loved it. 5 stars.)

The weather was OK for the first half of the race. There was intermittent drizzle but nothing too terrible. I took my first gel at 4 miles. I took in Golden Gate Park as we ran towards the ocean – this is always my favorite stretch of the race. It’s so serene and also downhill, which always helps!

After getting to the ocean, I mentally prepared myself for the out and back. I know this sounds odd to a lot of people – and it did to me as well before I ran Kaiser – like, what’s so bad about running by the ocean? First of all, it’s extremely straight for 3 miles out and 3 miles back. It feels like it goes on forever. Second, this is the most exposed area on the course is and even if it’s not raining, it’s usually fairly windy. Third, if it’s raining, then it really sucks. I’ve been lucky that only once have I run in terrible weather at Kaiser (2014), but unfortunately, my luck was up again this year. As I got to the ocean, a heavy mist was hitting us. It felt like sea spray directly from the ocean, except that we were a good distance away from the water.

The rain came in spurts – it was miserable. I kept telling myself, “The faster I run, the sooner I can get out of this.” I took another gel at 8 miles. I broke down the out-and-back into manageable chunks and kept pushing towards the finish line. Thankfully, the headwind on the way out became a nice tailwind on the way back.

Finally, the last turn up into GGP arrived, and with it the mile 13 marker. I picked up the pace in the final tenth of a mile and finished in 2:16:44. Yes, it was my slowest Kaiser Half by quite a lot, but I had met my goal of finishing under 2:20 (significant only because I’m pacing a 2:20 half on Saturday 2/23), and I had managed to negative split.


Happy to be back in my warm, dry car

I took my wet, tired self over to Angela’s for brunch. Angela also ran the 10K – you can read her report here, and bt’s report here. I’m a big fan of this race for a lot of reasons – they mail your bib to you, so there’s no extra trip for bib pickup. The registration is quite reasonable compared to other races in the area. All proceeds go to charity, and the volunteers are great. The race organization and logistics are solid. The course isn’t too difficult, nor is it easy, and the timing of the event makes it perfect for an annual “rust buster” race.

This year’s shirt is very thin, but I really like the colors and the design. I may wear it as a layer as opposed to a running shirt. G1LU4Vw7SM6PJvmSaXDxjA


Mile splits

Official Results:
2:16:44 (10:26/mile)
Garmin – 13.24 miles (10:19/mile), 249′ gain, 617′ loss
2238/4043 overall, 861/1820 F, 104/247 AG (F 40-44)

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Posted in Race Recap, Training

Germany Travel Tips


One of my favorite photos from the trip — the love locks on Eiserner Steg (the Iron Bridge) in Frankfurt

Hey all! I’m back from Germany. It was a great trip, a bit colder than I’m used to, but thankfully nothing as insane as what’s been going on in the Midwest and East Coast. I was in Germany for 10 days: 2 days in Freiburg, 5 days in Wetzlar, and 2 days in Frankfurt. (I know that only adds up to 9 days but I swear I was there for 10.) Basically, it was a week of work, sandwiched between two weekends of play.



Adorable Freiburg

Before I forget, I wanted to write up a few observations and surprising things about Germany — kind of as a note to self, but also for others who might be traveling there in the future. In no particular order:

Getting Around (Trains)
If you decide to take the train while in Germany, I found this post to be extremely helpful in terms of explaining all of tips and tricks of German train riding, from figuring out where to get on to how to determine which seats are reserved. Even though I’ve taken trains all around Europe, it was still good to refresh my memory on the right way to do things (SO important in Germany). In addition, the Deutsche Bahn Navigator app was a lifesaver for planning and reserving tickets between cities. It was also useful for intracity travel — more than Google maps. For example, it gave me step-by-step directions from my hotel to the Frankfurt airport, including ticket prices and all of the stops along the way. All ticket machines had English directions, and almost all took credit cards. The only one that didn’t was the tram in Freiburg — it only took debit cards or cash.


My jet lag was pretty bad, I could hardly keep my eyes open. LOL. (At the gate in Old Freiburg)

Cash or credit?
It was surprising to me how few places took credit cards, so be sure to have a decent amount of cash on you. Like many countries, the more urban the area, the more likely they take credit cards. However, even in Frankfurt — the financial capitol of Europe — there were quite a few restaurants and cafes that were cash only. Most restaurants will have the Visa/MC logo on the door if they take credit cards. Otherwise, you’ll want to ask before you order.


Dinner with friends in Freiburg!


Fresh pasta with truffles…yum

Another big surprise to me, despite having been to Germany before, is that you are supposed to leave a tip for food service and other services (hotel maid, taxis, etc.). For small bills, like coffee, it’s fine to round up to the nearest Euro. However for actual meals, it’s good to tip 10-15%. I had read this online, and then my friend VH, whom I was visiting in Freiburg, reiterated that point. She had worked as a server in college and lamented that many people – especially tourists, but even some Germans – didn’t know that you’re supposed to tip. Similar to the U.S., servers don’t get paid as high of an hourly wage, so they do depend on tips.


Old Town Wetzlar before dawn

Restaurants & Cafes – What to Expect
Unless a “please wait to be seated” sign is posted, assume that you can just seat yourself. A server will bring you a menu, and then return to get your order. They will NEVER serve you tap water (how gauche!), so assume if you ask for water, you will be asked for still or sparkling, and it will cost 2-3 euros. When you’re ordering, keep an eye out for how much each item costs, because when the bill comes, you will usually have to pay the server right there and then. This process made me super anxious, as I had to do the math in my head and tell the server exactly how much change I wanted back. It’s customary for the server to walk around with a big wallet of money, hand you the check, you pay upon receipt of the check, and they give you change on the spot. You shouldn’t leave the tip on the table, like you would here in the States, but instead give it directly to the server when you’re paying. If you are paying by credit card, you’ll need to tell them the total before they charge your card because there’s not a separate line for tip in German credit card receipts. The good news is that all items are listed with tax included, so you should be able to figure out in advance how much to pay.


A view of the Lahn River and the old Cathedral (Dom) in Wetzlar

The other thing I had to get used to was the pace of eating in Germany. Similar to the rest of the Continent, they do not rush you… so expect every meal to take at least 1-1.5 hours. You won’t get the check until you ask for it.

Hotel Breakfasts
Both of the hotels I stayed at included breakfast. On the bill, they were listed at about 5 Euro, and they were well worth the money. Germans take their breakfasts seriously. Having stayed with Germans this trip and previously, there was always a huge spread even at home. A typical German breakfast consists of: eggs (scramble, hard boiled, soft boiled), sausage, fresh bread/rolls, sliced meat (salami, prosciutto, smoked salmon), sliced cheese, fruit, jam, Nutella, yogurt, granola, juice, tea, and coffee. I loved it!


I loved the fresh bread and tiny packets of Nutella. And yes, that’s a packet of Philadelphia cream cheese, with herbs!


It was fairly easy to get around with my minimal level of German. Most people speak English, and if they didn’t, it was usually fine to gesture. If I was about to speak to someone in English, I would always ask, “Sprechen sie Englisch?” (Do you speak English?). It’s more polite and less jarring. I was lucky to be around Germans for most of my trip, so that when I got to Frankfurt and did some solo travel, I was more or less OK.

As for the cities I visited, Freiburg and Wetzlar were both really charming. The old town (Aldstadt) in each city are exactly what you think of when you think “quaint German architecture.” Frankfurt is more of a urban area, but it still had it’s own charm. I stayed near Römer (the old city hall) which was a really nice area, and I highly recommend it. A lot of sites and restaurants were within a short walk from my hotel. The cathedral, though, was probably the most plain one I’ve seen. A lot of it was under renovation, but still… luckily, there’s no fee to walk through, so not much was lost there.


Römer (Frankfurt)

For cheap “souvenirs”, I went to the supermarket Rewe to stock up on chocolate bars. Many people also buy Nutella (they use less sugar in Europe, according to a friend) and Haribo gummy candies. I found that the supermarket had way more variety and was cheaper than Duty Free at the airport.


I know we can get these brands in the U.S., but I swear they’re better from Europe!

I did zero running while I was in Germany. I hope to write a separate running post later this week. The latest news is that I ran a half marathon on Sunday and didn’t die. Yay!

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Posted in Travel

London Marathon: Weeks 1-3

Less than 15 weeks until the London Marathon! Eeek! What I love about the Hal Higdon Novice 1 training plan is that it starts off very, very slowly… which is exactly what I needed for the almost two weeks I was in Taiwan (weeks 1 and 2). Normally, December weather in Taipei consists of temperatures in the high 60s to high 70s, with a mix of rain and cloudy days — i.e., perfect for running. This year’s trip was the first time in my experience where it rained almost every single day. Luckily, I was staying with my sister and she has a fitness room in her building with 4 treadmills in it. These treadmills were a little janky, but they got the job done. I’m normally OK with running up to an hour on treadmills, but for whatever reason, I couldn’t make myself run longer than a 5K. The one time I set my mind to running 10K, the treadmill kept stopping on me every 10 minutes. I couldn’t just jump on another one because you have to go sign out the key from the front desk…and I just couldn’t be bothered.

Getting a little more personal (which I don’t often do on this blog), my mom’s mental and physical health took a nosedive towards the end of the year. Running was a double-edged sword – it gave me the time to myself and the physical exertion that I needed, but I also felt really selfish about taking more time than absolutely necessary. Since I don’t get to see my family very often, every minute I spent running meant a minute away from them.


On one of the rare, sunny days when my mom felt up for an outing to her favorite park in Taipei.

So, going back to the subject of marathon training, I was really relieved that the first two “long runs” of the cycle that I skipped were only 6 and 7 miles long. Week 3’s long run was only 5 miles (!!), so I ended up trying to make up for lost time with a 7 mile run.

Here’s a quick run-down (pun intended) of how Weeks 1-3 went:

  • Week 1 (Taiwan): 3 runs for a total of 9.2 miles. Target was 15 miles.
  • Week 2 (Taiwan): 4 runs for a total of 11.3 miles. Target was 16 miles.
  • Week 3 (back in US): 3 runs for a total of 13 miles + one cross training session (Orangetheory). Target was 15 miles. Getting closer!

California sunshine makes for a nice long run

Just as I’m getting back into the rhythm of things, I’m leaving again! I fly to Germany tomorrow for 10 days. It’s for work, but I’ll also be visiting friends while I’m there and doing a little solo traveling. I’m excited, but the running logistics are difficult. For one thing, it’s going to be much colder than I’m used to. Average high temps will be around freezing, with lows in the 20s. The week that I’m working, I’ll be busy during daylight hours and there’s no treadmill in my historic (read: old) hotel. (There aren’t even toiletries!) The other obstacle is that I’ll be doing a lot of train travel, which means a smaller bag…which means I can’t bring too much stuff. I’ll already be packing for 10 very cold days. On the other hand, I would love to be able to tour the cities by running – I may end up just bringing one running outfit and my lightest pair of shoes, and if I end up running more than once, I’ll have to re-wear the same clothes. I’m counting on the cold weather to suppress the stink!

So, I may or may not be running for the next 10 days. To ensure I get my long runs in, I intend to run tomorrow morning (9 miles), before my flight, and then run when I get back. I’ll probably be too jet lagged to run the day I get back, but maybe I’ll get up super early the next day and get my run in (10 miles) before the work week starts. We shall see.


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Posted in Training

A New Cycle

Today is Christmas Eve, but it also happens to be the first day of an 18-week training cycle for the London Marathon. Eek! My goals for the race are simply to finish, to enjoy the running tour of London, and to not be too sore afterwards, so that I can enjoy sightseeing in London (and not walk around for a couple of days like a zombie). I already have a decent amount of travel in early 2019 planned that will interfere with training, so I’ve decided to go with a super chill training plan – Hal Higdon’s Novice 1.

GZb5XKxdTDuvXlkM40PkAwI trained for my first marathon (CIM 2012) using Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 plan and it served me well. Looking at the plan, I can already predict that the Wednesday mid-distance runs (up to 10 miles) won’t be happening, so I’m going to be doing doubles on the weekends. I’ve also recently started going to Orangetheory Fitness, which I’m enjoying as a cross-training/strength training addition to my running routine. I’ll probably fit those in on Wednesdays or Fridays.

Anyway, just thought I’d write a post to officially kick off marathon training. Maybe it will get me into the right mindset to start working a little harder than I have been?! This year has been dismal in terms of running mileage, so I’m not motivated to write a “year end” post… but we shall see.

Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate it, and Happy 2019 to all!


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Race Recap: OktobeRun 5K

I’ve been so bad about blogging lately, but I sincerely thought I could post a recap of this race within a month of running it. Turns out I was wrong. Also, the shorter the race, the less material there is, and so this will be a very short (but hopefully sweet) race recap.

Even though I’ve only run one 5K a year for the past few years, I decided to sign up for the OktobeRun 5K (my second this year) for three reasons. One, I’ve been slacking on the running front and anything that would get me out the door on a daily basis would be good motivation. Two, friends were signed up and there was a good chance of brunch after the race. Three, I’ve paced the half marathon before and knew that it was a logistically well-run event, and a relatively short drive on Sunday mornings. It also helped that the race proceeds benefit the Redwood City schools, and registration prices weren’t crazy high.

Early Sunday morning, October 28th, I woke up and headed over to Redwood City. Bib pick up was a breeze, and I started warming up around 7:00, thinking that the race started at 7:30. As I finished my warm-up, I heard an announcement that the half marathon was starting at 7:30, and the 5K at 7:45. Dang it! Oh well. The nice thing about a 5K is — I don’t really care as much, so it wasn’t a big deal that I mis-timed my warm-up.


Pre-race shot with bt, E, me, and Angela (who wore a sweet costume!)

I met up with friends before the race and chatted until it was time to line up. Angela and I went towards the front of the corral, which I’m glad we did because I had forgotten how narrow (and therefore congested) some of the route was. Plus, when I paced the half marathon, it was the 2:20 group and we took our time. A 5K is a very different story.

At 7:45, the gun went off and so did the 5K runners. I let Angela go rather early on, knowing she’d be at least a minute/mile faster than me. I settled into what I thought was a “decent” pace – which for me is between 8:00-9:00 min/mile these days. My C goal was to finish under 27 minutes (and not blow up), B goal under 26:30, and A goal was to beat my time at the RTTEOS 5K from 8 weeks earlier, 26:13. I had no real reason to think I could achieve my A goal, since I hadn’t been running more (in fact, Sept and Oct were very low mileage months for me). It would mostly come down to mental strength.

The course was an out and back course, starting in Downtown Redwood City, running over Highway 101 to the Bay Trail, then a small segment of the residential area of the Bay Trail before heading back to the Redwood City. It isn’t a very scenic course, there’s a few sections of gravel, and two “hills” – one overpass and one fairly steep and narrow pedestrian overpass that just about everyone walked up and down. So, compared to the RTTEOS, which was fairly flat (some gradual inclines and small rollers, but nothing crazy) and paved, OktobeRun was on paper a more difficult course. However, I think the fact that field was larger (466 finishers vs. 104 at RTTEOS) made the whole experience more mentally engaging. I always had someone to chase down at OktobeRun, whereas I ran most of the last mile of RTTEOS on my own.

My splits were: 8:35, 8:32, 8:22, then 7:25 for the last sprint, finishing in 25:46. Woohoo, A goal achieved! My Garmin only registered 3.04 miles, but the GPS trace for Downtown Redwood City was pretty atrocious. (It thinks I ran through several office buildings. I definitely did not.) I decided to count it as a victory, Garmin be damned.

Screen Shot 2018-12-01 at 7.33.09 AM

Yay for both feet being off the ground!

We celebrated with post-race brunch at a nearby restaurant/cafe. It was a delightful morning! I would definitely run this race again.

Official results:
25:46 (8:18/mile)
8/17 AG, 30/246 F, 100/466 overall

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Gear Review: Garmin vivoactive 3

I had a Garmin Forerunner 210 for 4 years, and I was less than 2 years into the Forerunner 235 when I came upon extreme watch envy: the Garmin vivoactive 3.

Technically, my friend HW was wearing the vivomove HR (rose gold trim with white band), but I was immediately impressed by the sleek design. I didn’t even know it was a Garmin! I did some research and found that the vivomove didn’t have GPS (a no go for me). However, the vivoactive 3 is similar in design -though not quite as stylish – and has GPS and a heart rate monitor.

While I was seriously tempted, my frugality ruled over my vanity, and I decided to hold off on the vivoactive 3. I still had a working Forerunner 235 after all, even if it did look a little busted up.

Then, shortly after my initial research, Amazon Prime Day rolled around and guess what was on special? The vivoactive 3! Even better, the Gypsy Runner offered to get it for me as a super early birthday present. What a guy. [Insert emoji with heart eyes here.]


Forerunner 235 (left) vs. vivoactive 3 (right)

So, I’ve had the vivoactive 3 for 3 months now, and here’s how I feel about it so far (mostly relative to the FR 235):


  • I love the design. It looks like a normal watch as opposed to a fitness watch. The face is smaller, which is less overwhelming on small wrists like mine.
  • The HRM is much improved compared to the 235. It seems more stable and accurate, so far.
  • The display has a better designed, I like the color screen.
  • I like that the default notification is a vibration, not a beep.
  • Strap doesn’t get as gunky as the 235.
  • I can control music more easily from my watch. (I think there was a way to do it on the 235 but I never figured out how.)
  • Sleep tracker works better than the 235.
  • Additional fitness activities: 20+ on the vivoactive 3 vs. 4 activities that were available on the 235.
  • Customizable everything (sometimes this is a con).
  • Super fast charge time. I can get a full charge in under an hour.

About even (vs. 235):

  • GPS finding – still fast on the vivoactive 3.
  • Garmin Connect wireless syncing, including sending workouts to the watch.

Cons (vs. 235):

  • Need to recharge every 3-4 days, whereas I used to charge my 235 once a week. However, since it charges so quickly, I can get by with short charges every other day (like while I’m in the shower or brushing my teeth).
  • The strap/back of the watch can be a little uncomfortable at times (gets stuck against my skin).
  • Too many options – can feel overwhelming.
  • No basic interval workout setting like in the 235.

I don’t get why there’s both a touch screen *and* a sensitive wheel on the left side that essentially do the same thing. Seems redudant. I’m also still trying to figure stuff out, like how to get iPhone notifications while I’m running (at least the phone calls are still coming through). However, overall, I really like the vivoactive3. I think it’s a nice combination fitness + lifestyle smart watch.


There are a million different watch faces to choose from. I decided on this one.

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The Last 2.5 Months

Hey! Yes, I’m still here. Life has been good, but super busy. Here’s a quick recap of the last 2.5 months – in running and non-running news:


  • I paced the 2:20 group at the Brazen Summer Breeze Half Marathon, finishing in 2:19:39. This was only 2 weeks after Dirty Dozen, and probably the worst I’ve felt during an easy half marathon. Probably because I was still recovering? (DUH.) I was relieved to finish on-pace, and to have helped several runners finish strong.
  • I traveled to exciting Merced, CA for my first workshop. As part of my job, I have to do several of these workshops a year, where I give a presentation on a specific product, then do a series of hands-on demonstrations. This one was short and sweet, a nice and low-key intro to the experience.


  • I raced a 5K at the Race to the End of Summer (RTTEOS) in San Jose. I’ll be honest, I did this mostly for the post-race brunch with SP, bt, and Angela. But it was also nice to run a very short race on a COOL day on a course where I’ve struggled mightily in very hot conditions previously (see: last year’s RTTEOS 10K and this year’s Dream Mile Marathon). I finished in 26:13, good for 3rd in my age group (40-49) and 9th female.


    Happy finishers at RTTEOS

  • Work was really insane in September. The first week, we had the grand opening of our new office in South SF. Big wigs flew in from all over the U.S. and Germany, so the pressure was on! The next week, I flew to Philly to attend a training. The week after that, I flew to Honolulu for my second workshop. The last week of September was spent catching up with all of the odds and ends from my time away, and getting ready for my first BIG workshop at UC Berkeley.
  • Did I mention I was in Hawaii for a week? 4 days of work in Honolulu and 2 days on my own on the North Shore. I couldn’t convince the Gypsy Runner to come with me, so I did some exploring on my own. I also gained 2 lbs. from all of the food I ate!


    The North Shore is so ugly. 😉

  • The GR and I celebrated our 8th dating anniversary. Woot!


    Nothing says true love like bread pudding and peach cobbler a la mode

  • We got an Instant Pot. I’d love tips and recipes if you have any to share.
  • I got an email from Strava with the depressing stat that I only ran 42 miles in all of September. Some of that I blame on work travel, and some I blame on my own laziness. More on this below.

October (so far):

  • Last week was my first “real” workshop, where I had to give a talk on a technology that I’m not super familiar with (#impostersyndrome in FULL EFFECT), and lead ten 2-hour demo sessions throughout the week. Fortunately, one of my colleagues from SoCal came up to help me. He’s an expert on the system, so he answered all of the questions I couldn’t. Compared to my last two workshops, this one was more stressful because I had to be on my game at all times, because the audience was much more advanced and knowledgeable (sorry for the shade, UC Merced and University of Hawaii, but it’s the truth). Anyway, I’m happy it’s over, but I have to do it all again the week of the 15th at UC Davis. The good news is that the UC Davis workshop is my last schedule workshop for the year.

So, I wanted to write a quick blurb about fitting in running amidst work travel. I’ve been in my new-new position for 5 months now, and while I really enjoy it, it has been hard on my running routine. When I was still training for Dirty Dozen, I managed to fit runs in, but there were whole weeks where my weekday mileage was below double digits because I just couldn’t fit in any runs. This is especially true when I have to travel to the East Coast for work. Usually, I don’t mind getting up early to run, but I draw the line at when I have to get up at 3am Pacific Time *and* still have to be functional at work. Most of those days on the East Coast start at 8am Eastern Time — and we often have work dinners at the end of the day. So, the best I can usually do is walk on the treadmill for an hour after dinner, while I’m still digesting. Could I run at 9 or 10 pm? Sure, but I don’t tend to sleep very well when I run so late in the day.

Even when I’m in my own time zone, there are weeks (like this past week), where I would’ve had to get up at 5am to run. I know that some people are really good at getting up at the butt crack of dawn to get their runs in no matter what, but I’ve decided that it’s not worth it to me at this point in time. If anything, I should get better at going out for post-work runs, or just being more flexible in general about running whenever I get a chance instead of being so regimented.

Anyway, it’s a work in progress. While I don’t have any specific goals in mind, I would still like to run 3-4 times a week, 15-20 miles total. I also know that my work schedule will ebb and flow, and that this has been a particular busy couple of months. Fortunately, things look lighter in November/December. I hope to take advantage of that and start rebuilding my base for London at that point.


Random photo of the GR and I from September, posted just because I think it’s a nice photo of us


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On the docket…

4/28/19: London Marathon