CIM Training Week 6 of 12 + Some New Things I Like

Six weeks down, six more weeks to go! WOOT!

Monday: Rest.

Tuesday: 13 x (1 min on/1 min off). Nothing like fartleks to wake up dead legs. ~5.5 miles (this is when my Garmin’s GPS was still busted, so I’m not sure about the distance or pace)

Wednesday: 60 minutes easy. Reality check: despite fixing my Garmin, I was still running 15-30 seconds/mile slower than I thought I was. I have to remind myself that I’m in the heavy load of marathon training and not to worry about pace. 5.75 miles @ 10:59

Thursday: 4 mile tempo run. For those who are actually paying attention, you’ll notice a theme: every Thursday morning, I’m nervous about the prescribed workout. This week was no different. To be honest, I’m always nervous about a tempo run, and 4 miles is a long one! I decided to ignore the McMillan paces (8:22-8:30/mile) and aim for something between 10K and half marathon pace (8:26-8:55). I end up running: 8:41, 8:40, 8:47, 8:35. I’m happy with the splits and also my heart rate, which was solidly in the threshold range. Yay! 6.2 miles @ 9:25

Friday: Rest.

Saturday: Fast finish long run – 17 miles with last 6 at marathon goal pace. I still don’t know what marathon goal pace (MGP) is at this point, so I aimed for 9:15-9:30. The first half mile of the run was kinda rough; I started getting that abnormally high heart rate feeling again (like last week). So, I decided to slow it WAY down. It was better to take it easy for 11 miles and save my effort for the fast finish. I ignored my pace and just ran by feel, and by the end of the first mile, my heart rate returned to normal and I was breathing smoothly. I ran the first 11 averaging ~11:00/mile.

During the fast finish section, I have to admit that the first 3 miles felt tough (9:39, 9:37, 9:31). But then, at some point, I realized that I felt OK. I mean, I was working hard, but I was nowhere close to actual suffering. So I pushed a little harder through the remaining miles and ran negative splits the rest of the way (9:24, 9:17, 9:05). I finished feeling tired but satisfied… also, somewhat relieved that this long run went much better than last week’s awful 20 miler. 17 miles @ 10:29


All dolled up for a friend’s wedding in Healdsburg Saturday night.

Sunday: 60-75 minutes easy. After a late night Saturday, I tried to sleep in but was unsuccessful. We had brunch, ran some errands, and then I took a nap…before I knew it, it was the late afternoon and I still hadn’t done my run. I was really tempted to skip it, but since I didn’t have a legitimate reason (my schedule was open, my body felt fine), I got myself together and went out the door. It ended up not being as bad I had imagined. A new podcast also helped! 6 miles @ 10:42

Total mileage: ~40.5 miles

How I’m feeling: This week was 10x better than last week in terms of running. It helped to get my Garmin fixed and to have shorter runs during the week. Also, even though I’m technically only halfway done with the training cycle, I’ve made it over the hump in terms of long runs – only 5 more until CIM! This week, I signed up for 3 half marathons: 2 that I’m pacing with the Trivalley Running Club (Oktoberun & Dream Mile) and one as the last fast long run before CIM (Berkeley Half). So, it feels good psychologically to have those long runs planned. I’m still super duper tired though, and I’m already looking forward to post-CIM R&R.

Looking ahead to next week: A high mileage week ahead with a midweek long run on Tuesday, 3 x 2 mile intervals on Thursday, and a 20 miler on Saturday (pacing Oktoberun Half + 6 miles).


So I wanted to briefly mention a few of my new favorite things lately, some running-related, and some not:

New podcasts: I downloaded the NPR One app and it introduced me to two new podcasts that I’m enjoying – Hidden Brain and Accused. Hidden Brain is a psychology podcast focused on what goes on in our subconscious minds. Each episode is about 30 minutes in length. Accused is a true crime podcast covering the unsolved murder of Beth Andes. I’m only 2 episodes in, but it’s already got my attention. I highly recommend both!

New shorts: I know lots of people love the Lululemon speed shorts, but I just recently bought a pair and I’m definitely a convert. I’m still a Rogas fan, but the speed shorts just feel lighter and more breathable. They’ve quickly become my go-to long run shorts.


Speed shorts make me feel happy & freeeee

New energy bar: Taos Mountain bars. I got a free sample in my Tiburon half goodie bag. From the outside, they look a lot like Clif Bars. However, they’re the best bars I’ve ever tasted – super moist and made out of 100% natural, whole ingredients. So far, I’ve tried 3 flavors – caramel pecan, toasted coconut, and almond agave – and I’ve liked them all. Unfortunately, they’re quite pricey at $3/bar, so I’ll be saving these for special occasions.

What about you? Anything new in your life that you want to rave about?

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Posted in CIM, Training

CIM Training Week 5 of 12: Highs & Lows

If CIM Training Week 4 was all rainbows and unicorns, then Week 5 was a whole load of the opposite. Here’s what went down:

Monday: Rest.

Tuesday: 90 minutes easy. OOF. This one was a slog, partially due to beat-up legs from Healdsburg, and partially due to having to run endless, mind-numbing loops around my neighborhood. ~8.2 miles (all distances for this week are approximate, given my Garmin woes. See below.)

Wednesday: 60 minutes easy. Another slog. Seems like I might have pushed too hard at Healdsburg! ~5.5 miles 

Thursday: Yasso 800s — 7 x (800 m, 4 min 10 sec recovery). OMG. So tough. For those who don’t know, Yasso 800s are a famous marathon predictor workout. You’re supposed to run 10 sets of 800 m with an equal amount of recovery, time-wise. The average for the set of 800s is supposedly a good indicator of your marathon finish time. So, for example, if you can run all 10 with an average of 4:00 minutes per 800, then your marathon finish time should be around 4 hours. I confess that, after a great race at Healdsburg, I started dreaming about a marathon time of 4:00-4:10. So, I ran my Yassos with high hopes… and unfortunately, my splits averaged 4:20. However! I ran these on sidewalk as opposed to the track *and* (as I found out later) my Garmin’s GPS was compromised. Regardless, it was a great workout and I can’t believe I have to do the full set (10 reps) in a couple of weeks. *GULP* ~7.9 miles

Friday: Rest. And my birthday! WOOT.


Cheers! Celebrating my “upgrade” to a new age group😀

Saturday: 20 mile long run. So, I had a feeling that this one was going to be tough. Not only was this going to be the first 20-miler of this training cycle, but it was also my first solo long run in many weeks. Oh, and I was going to attempt to get by with as little fuel as possible. (Some of the rationale for fasted, or glycogen-depleted, runs is explained here. Maybe I’ll write a separate post about that at some point.) On top of that, I had indulged in a lot of rich food and wine the day before. It was my birthday after all! The run started off fine, though I could tell early on that my heart rate was very high and my effort level seemed too intense for the pace. It was also really humid and I was sweating a lot (for me). Normally, I can my handheld water bottle and not have to refill for 16-18 mile runs. This time, I finished all of my water by mile 10.


At least the views were nice. This was taken along the Bay Trail in Richmond.

I managed to get through 16 miles on water only, but started bonking pretty badly, so I ate a couple of Clif Bloks at mile 16 and 18. It was still quite a struggle, but at that point, I was very close to finishing, so I tried my best to push forward, no matter how slowly. I also started thinking about it in terms of mental training. I’ve had this same exact feeling many times before, sometimes during races (see MCM, Big Basin 50K), where I feel like I can’t breathe. I don’t think it’s asthma as much as I’m hyperventilating from a psychosomatic stress response. It’s really hard for me to recover once I get in that state. In those last miles on Saturday, I tried to imagine what I might do if this happened to me on race day. I still couldn’t quite manage to calm down or run at an easy pace (I was jogging very, very slowly at this point), but I did commit mentally to moving forward and not taking any more walk breaks. This was probably the hardest run I’ve had in months and left me quite shattered, but at least I did it. 

Sunday: 60-75 minutes easy recovery Rest. I woke up to run and decided: NOPE. It was raining, I had to get ready to host a party, and I just didn’t feel like it. So, for the first time in 5 weeks of CIM training, I decided to skip a run. I think it was the right decision!


Some of the runner girls and #FlatJess (and Cat’s offspring) at my birthday party. Kate made a surprise trip up from SoCal and Cat made me a personalized calendar with all sort of running photos! #bestbirthdayever

Total mileage: ~41.6 miles

How I’m feeling: This was a ROUGH week, running-wise. Between recovering from Healdsburg, my Garmin not working, and a tough 20-miler, I feel like this week was definitely a challenge. The highlight was celebrating my birthday and feeling the love from so many people.

Oh, so this issue with the Garmin: the one time I that I was really on top of updating my Garmin to the latest software, it totally screwed up the GPS functionality. First, I noticed that my Strava updates weren’t showing any map data. That was weird. Then, both Garmin Connect and Strava were reporting crazy elevation gains in my otherwise flat neighborhood. It wasn’t until my fartlek run yesterday morning that I decided to investigate this further, because no matter how slow I might be running, I’m pretty sure I was running faster than 9:30/mile pace for 1 minute fartlek segments! So, a quick Google search came up with this enlightening thread about the latest software update…and I was definitely not the only one with this problem. (I love the internet!) A soft reset has fixed the problem for now, just in time for my tempo run tomorrow morning. But the other weird thing that I noticed is how dependent I am on my Garmin for pace/distance information. It’s sad, really. For now, I’m blaming my slow Yasso 800 splits on the Garmin error.😉

Looking ahead to next (this) week: Speed! Fartleks on Tuesday, tempo run on Thursday, and fast finish long run on Saturday!

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Race Recap: 2016 Healdsburg Half Marathon

I’ve become a big fan of birthday races. Instead of the usual focus on time/results, I’m generally filled with gratitude about my good health, that I’m *able* to run at all. I ran my first “birthday race” 4 years ago, at the 2012 Healdsburg Half Marathon. It was then that I met Angela and Cathryn for the first time. I also scored a 5 minute personal best in the midst of CIM training, so you can see how Healdsburg occupies a special place in my heart.


Me, Angela, and Cathryn ready to race in 2012.

Fast forward 4 years, and the idea of running Healdsburg again as a birthday race/training run for CIM came up. Cathryn signed up, Jess decided to book a flight to CA, and Angela realized that she too can make it. So the plan was set!

(By the way, Cat and Angela both posted great recaps – they’re speedier than me both on the race course AND with blogging.😀 )

Jess flew in on Tuesday night before the race and we got many runs in together, which was awesome. On Saturday, Cat drove over to meet us and we three drove up to Healdsburg together. Packet pick-up was super easy and the expo consisted of one tent of merchandise from the Healdsburg Running Company, whose initials just happen to be the same as the Democratic nominee for president. But that’s neither here nor there. In a happy turn of events, we managed to meet up with Amanda and Matt who had done a metric century bike ride in Cloverdale that day.


Ragnar reunion! (Photo: Cat)

After chatting and catching up, we realized that we were all hangry (after skipping lunch) and headed toward Safeway, where we met up with Angela. We stocked up on essentials (water, breakfast, coffee) and sampled some wine before heading to our AirBnB in Geyserville.


When in wine country… (Photo: Angela)

We chilled out (and inhaled sushi) before making our way over to Catelli’s for dinner. It was literally a 3 minute walk – so convenient!

Normally, I don’t drink alcohol before a race, but since this was: (A) a birthday race, (B) a training run, and (C) in WINE country, I decided to indulge in a glass of red wine. Angela picked out a bottle for the 4 of us to share. Even though I broke my no-alcohol rule, I was quite conservative about my entree choice: linguini with clams in white wine sauce. It was really good and the clams were plentiful, but I think on a normal occasion, I’d go with something heartier or spicier. We were all too full for dessert, so we ambled back to the AirBnB for a quiet night of silly movies on TBS (Pretty Woman, Maleficient), picking out race outfits, and chatting. Oh, and drinking just a bit more wine. By 10pm, we were all ready to go to bed.


Runner slumber party! Kate couldn’t make it, unfortunately, so Cat made this funny cut-out. We took lots of silly photos with it!

Race Day
Angela had 6.9 miles to run before the race, so she was already gone by the time my alarm went off at 5:30 a.m. Cat, Jess, and I got ready and were out the door by 6:15. They were being good sports about getting there early so that I could run 3 warm-up miles before the race. Our early bird prizes: a prime parking spot and clean porta potties.

My plan for the race had wavered between doing marathon goal pace (MGP) and some kind of a progression run. Since I was supposed to run a “thirds progression run” the week before, I decided to go for that. The structure of the run is to run the first third at easy pace without a time goal, the second third at MGP, and the last third faster than MGP. After discussing my plan with Jess (I was struggling with what paces to run), we decided I should break down the run like this:

  • 3 mile warm-up at whatever pace
  • Miles 1-3 of the race: 9:30/mile
  • Miles 4-8: 9:15/mile
  • Miles 9-13.1: 9:00/mile

I was a bit nervous about the last portion, since these would be the last 5 miles of a relatively speedy 40-mile week. But I figured that I would at least try my best and see how it went. As for the other ladies, Angela was also doing a progression long run, but her goal was to run 20 miles for the day. Cat was going for a PR. Jess wasn’t sure how she would do, as she just ran her first 50-miler(!!!) 3 weeks before.

Pre-race warm-up (3 miles, no pace goals; actual splits: 11:11, 10:34, 10:24)
I ran in the pre-dawn darkness around downtown Healdsburg, where the houses are adorable (and expensive!). These miles were easy and over before I knew it. I made it back to the race start and used the porta potties one more time before meeting up with Jess, Cat, and Angela. We took some silly selfies and then the race started!

Race miles 1-3 (Goal: 9:30/mile; actual splits: 9:50, 9:24, 9:23)
The first mile was a bit slow due to a small but gradual climb, and also congestion. I had to weave around a number of runners, but things were pretty spread out by the end of the first mile. It was much sunnier/clearer than in 2012, so I took in the views of the vineyards and the hills. I focused on staying relaxed, but also focused.


My attempt at multi-tasking (taking photos while running) didn’t turn out so well. I tried!


Super chill early on in the race

Miles 4-8 (Goal: 9:15/mile; actual splits: 9:19, 9:15, 9:15, 9:17, 9:11)
It was really hard to run an even pace during this section because of the rollers. I took a gel at the beginning of mile 4 and spent a couple of seconds walking through the aid station. It was at this point that Angela passed me, complaining about not being able to breathe. I was worried for her, but she seemed to be doing OK and sped on ahead. It was still nice and shady for a while, though I figured at some point soon we’d be in full sun. I felt OK about this section, but I was worried about having to pick up the pace in the last 5 miles.


Getting hot, but still running happy

Miles 9-13.1 (Goal: 9:00/mile; actual splits: 8:58, 8:56, 8:50, 8:58, 8:14, last 0.1 at 6:38/mile)
I took my second gel at the beginning of mile 9. For motivation, I decided to hitch my wagon to a woman ahead who was holding good form (I’ll call her Lulu-girl, because she was wearing head-to-toe Lululemon). To my surprise, I looked down at my watch and saw I was running 8:4x pace without too much effort. That was short lived, however, as we approached the biggest climb of the course. I remember walking this hill in 2012, and it was one of the main reasons I didn’t run a sub-2 hour half. I paced off Lulu-girl for a while, but dropped her somewhere on this climb. This is the part where I started hunting people down. I focused on catching the next person, passing them, and repeat. It was definitely motivating to look down and see my paces in the 8:50’s. Every time I started struggling, I focused on running the mile as an interval or mile repeat.

When I got to the last mile, I decided to give it all that I had. There was a small change to the course, which diverted runners to the bike path for the last 3/4 mile. I quite liked this change, because I recalled from the 2012 race, a small but steep hill right before the long downhill to the finish. There was no hill this year – just all downhill. I had a momentary freak out when I looked down and saw that 8:2x/mile pace and that I might actually be able to beat my time from 2012 (2:00:37). Not only that, but I could run a sub-2 hour half marathon. So I focused on getting to the finish line as fast as possible. The crazy thing is that I felt SO FRESH in this last mile. I was zooming along and it was amazing!

I saw the finish line ahead and kept charging forward. I ended up running a 6:38/mile pace for the last 0.1 miles — I don’t think I’ve *seen* a 6:xx pace EVER on my Garmin! It was really awesome. What’s not awesome: my finish line photos. But they are funny/amusing at least!



I look like I’m attending an exorcism, not a finishing a half marathon!

Garmin stats: 1:59:36 (13.12 miles; 9:07/mile pace); 295 feet elevation gain
Official race stats: 1:59:33 (9:08/mile); 24/77 AG, 105/467 F, 218/700 overall

We regrouped after the race – I was the last one to come in out of the 4 of us, though Cat was waiting for her two friends, Lisa and Gladys, to finish. Despite breathing problems, Angela managed to nail her 20-miler. Cat missed her PR, but had a very valiant attempt. And Jess finished a few minutes ahead of me, beyond her expectations. The funny thing is that Cat, Jess, and I all ran our third fastest half marathons. img_5964

The weather, though hot for racing, was perfect for hanging out after the race. I picked up my Healdsburg pint glass (we had a choice between a pint glass or a wine glass) and also got some rice, beans, chicken, and chips. Like last time, it didn’t sound appetizing, but ended up hitting the spot with just the right blend of salt, protein, and carbs.

We eventually made our way back to the AirBnB to shower up and pack up. For lunch, we went to Diavola’s. I made the good decision of ordering the bicletta (similar to a wine spritz), but the bad decision to order the braised tripe. It occurred to me afterwards that I’ve only ever eaten a couple of pieces of tripe at a time, usually in pho. This dish was a FULL BOWL of tripe. I should’ve ordered pizza, which is the house specialty. You win some, you lose some.


Overly excited about TRIPE.

Post-race analysis
Well, because this was a training run for CIM, this wasn’t a “race-race” for me, so there’s not that much to analyze. I was pleased to be able to hit my target paces for the most part. It taught me to have more faith and confidence in myself; that I should trust my training and fitness and not be so afraid of pushing myself. And then there’s this list of personal accomplishments:

  • Negative split
  • 3rd fastest half marathon
  • 3rd sub-2 hour half marathon
  • Fastest mile split in a half marathon (and faster than 10K pace!)
  • According to Strava, I ran a 10K in 54:54, which is my 4th fastest (recorded) 10K split
  • Another great birthday race in the books!


  • img_6018

    Isn’t this just the most gorgeous thing you’ve ever seen?😉

About the race:
I’m going to pull the “lazy blogger card” and send you over to Angela’s race report, which has a very comprehensive section about the race details.

My own 2-cents about the race: I think it’s a really well-organized race, though I’m disappointed that it’s more expensive than it was 4 years ago. The course is gorgeous, though hilly. The two years I’ve run it, the weather has varied between cold and foggy, and warm and sunny. Obviously, the cold fog helps with running faster times, but then you don’t get the views. This is a fun race to do with friends. I highly recommend it!

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CIM Training: Week 4 of 12

Just a quick post to log last week’s marathon training. I’ll write a lengthier version detailing the lovely weekend spent in Healdsburg soon!

Monday: Rest.

Tuesday: Fartleks – 12 x (1 min on/1 min off). Another Tuesday run, another morning full of minor mishaps. Fartleks were fine though! 5.7 miles @ 10:10/mile

Wednesday: 60 minutes easy. I had the lovely Jess in town to run with me. So delightful! 5.5 miles @ 10:40/mile

Thursday: Tempo Intervals – 3 x 2000 m with 400 m jog recovery. I was *very* nervous about this workout. My plan had 4-5 repeats, but I cut it down to 3 since I’d be doing some faster than marathon pace miles on Sunday at the Healdsburg Half. Luckily, I had Jess’s company again, which helped a lot. My target pace was 8:12-8:30/mile, but I honestly would’ve been happy with anything faster than half marathon pace (8:55). I ended up nailing this workout, with average paces of: 8:20, 8:23, and 8:18. Woot!  6.5 miles @ 9:26/mile

Friday: Rest! And lots of Korean food for dinner.

And this was just the beginning…

Saturday: 60-75 minutes easy. Our plans to run in the Redwoods was thwarted by a big trail race, so we headed to the shoreline instead. 6.5 miles @ 10:35/mile

Sunday: Progression long run @ Healdsburg Half. The plan was to warm-up with an easy 3 miles pre-race, then run 3 miles at ~9:30, 5 miles at 9:15, 5 miles at 9:00/mile or faster. Like Thursday’s workout, I was a little nervous about this race/workout, but I ended up crushing it. More details to come! 16.1 miles @ 9:25/mile

Running is always more fun with friends!

Total mileage: 40.3 miles
How I’m feeling: Good! I know it’s early in the training cycle, but Healdsburg was a big confidence boost.
Looking ahead to next week: A big mileage week. I’ve got a long midweek run on Tuesday, my first (out of 2) sessions of Yasso 800’s on Thursday, and my first 20-miler of the training cycle.

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CIM Week 3 of 12 & Pacing the Tiburon Half Marathon

Howdy! The nice thing about a 12-week training cycle is that I can say that I’m already a quarter done at the end of Week 3. Hooray!

Monday: Rest.

Tuesday: Long midweek run (80-90 minutes). This was a comedy of errors. I started the run listening to a super sad episode of This American Life. It was so heartbreaking that I had to stop it 20 minutes in because I was fighting back tears (seriously, keep the tissues handy). Then, 5 minutes after resuming my run, I realized I never restarted my Garmin. D’OH! Five minutes after that (and probably at the furthest point away from my house – of course- I suddenly had to use the bathroom urgently. Luckily, after the pit stop, everything was fine. 8 miles @ 10:42/mile

Wednesday: 60 minutes easy. Third time’s the charm — I finally managed to run for a full hour, albeit slowly. 5.3 miles @ 11:03/mile

Thursday: Cruise Intervals – 6 x 1000 m with 200 m jog recovery. I was a bit nervous about this one. My target time for the 1000 m segments was 5:03-5:13, or 8:09-8:25/mile, according to the McMillan calculator. However, I never hit my target paces during Summer Breeze Half training, and that ended up being a good race, so I wasn’t too stressed about hitting goal times. The short recovery interval ended up being the toughest portion of this workout. My times: 5:24, 5:10, 5:16, 5:18, 5:18, 5:18. Well, at least I’m consistent. 6.8 miles @ 9:48/mile

Friday: Rest.

Saturday: 50-60 minutes easy. I used this run to practice 10:40/mile pacing. 5 miles @ 10:40

Sunday: Long slow distance – 18 miles. I ended up pacing the 2:20 group at the Tiburon Half Marathon! (Report below.) I warmed up with one mile before the race and cooled down with 4 miles after for a total of 18. I felt great! 18 miles @ 10:40

Total mileage: 43.1 miles
How I’m feeling: My first 40+ mile week of 2016! I felt pretty slow all week, but I’m chalking it up to the mileage.
Looking ahead to next week: 3 speed sessions! Fartleks on Tuesday, tempo intervals on Thursday (eek), and a progression long run on Sunday at the Healdsburg Half. The exciting part is that Jess, Cat, Angela, and I are all running Healdsburg! I have such great memories from when I ran it in 2012. It will also be my “birthday race” – and the last before I move up to a new age group. Woot!


Pacing Report: Tiburon Half Marathon

So, a few months ago, I joined the TriValley Runners on Facebook. I saw that they were the pacing team at a local half marathon and decided to check them out. It turns out that they’re very active around the Bay Area, pacing at many local races. I was also hoping to join them on weekend long runs and meet new runner friends.

Even though I wanted to join their pacing team, I couldn’t really figure out how. Then, this past Monday, one of the organizers posted that they still needed to fill two pacing spots for Sunday’s Tiburon Half Marathon. I requested the 2:20 spot and quickly received confirmation that I was in! Yay!

Pacing is one of those things that I’ve always been curious about, so I was excited to try it out. Even though I’ve never paced, I knew what *not* to do, which includes: going out too fast and losing the group, or conversely, going out too slow and then having to speed up to make up time. I also knew that pacing was more than just running at the right speed, it was about encouraging the people around you and being positive.

As excited as I was, I was also nervous. I was fairly confident about running the average pace (10:41/mile), but I also saw from the elevation profile that there were lots of steep hills. I prayed that the weather would stay cool, as we had a nasty heatwave last weekend. Then there were the random anxious thoughts: what if I had to go to the bathroom? Or if my Garmin died? What if the course is too long and we come in over 2:20? What if my legs were too tired from marathon training?

When I practiced pacing during the week, I found it difficult to run a 10:40/mile pace consistently. I typically warm up around that pace, but then naturally get faster. I practiced pulling back and taking smaller steps.

Race day morning, I awoke to a 4:30 a.m. alarm. The race started at 7 a.m, and the pacers were meeting up at 6:00. I’m glad I got there early because I secured a sweet parking spot right across the street from the finish line. I met up with the other pacers and got our bibs. We took some group photos, then I went to do a warm-up mile. Originally, I wanted to run 2 miles before the race, but then decided that I should save my legs. And anyway, I didn’t end up having time to run more than a mile.

As a group, we walked over to the start “corral” – really an alley between two buildings. I have to say that this was a super awkward set up. The sound system and finish arch was behind us, and there was no start arch. It was really hard to hear the announcers. A runner named Matt introduced himself to me, and we agreed to run together for as long as possible (his PR was 2:19). After a nice rendition of the Star Spangled Banner (where people were turned in all different directions because we couldn’t see the singer), there was a count down and we were off!

For the race, I toggled between two different displays on my Garmin – the “Estimated Finish Time” function and the normal display with time elapsed, lap pace, and distance. This was the second time I’ve used the Estimated Finish Time function (the first being yesterday, when I practiced with it). Anyway, the way it works is that you put in the distance that you’re running, and it will display remaining distance, estimated finish time, and average pace (for the whole race). I thought that it was useful, but only in conjunction with the other display, because I liked to see lap pace and time elapsed (to check against my pace band).

The first few miles passed very quickly. It was relatively flat, with slight undulations, and mostly along the water with some nice views of the San Francisco skyline and the Golden Gate Bridge. I chatted easily with Matt and made sure to keep my pace in check.


Matt and me in the early miles. (Photo credit: Tiburon Half)

If you squint, you can make out the SF skyline on the left and the Golden Gate Bridge on the right.

Soon, we made our way into the the neighborhood roads, where the hilly section started. My Garmin data shows a total elevation gain of 488 feet – pretty decent for a road half marathon! I’d say most of the hills were moderate, but some were quite steep. I incorporated some power hiking up two of the steepest grades. Fortunately, none of the hills were particularly lengthy, and there was always a nice downhill stretch to make up for it. (Though, one descent stands out as being so steep that I thought about walking down.)

During one of these downhill stretches (around mile 8.5?), I lost Matt because I noticed our pace had slowed tremendously due to all of the climbing. I decided to make up a little bit of time on the descent. I ran about 2 miles solo before Matt caught back up with me. We ran together again and picked up another runner, Abby from Davis, who was glad to have some company. At mile 11, I asked Matt what his PR was (I thought it was 2:19, but I wanted to make sure). He said 2:19, and I encouraged him to go for it – we were very close! He agreed and said he would take off in the last mile if he had the energy.

Matt ended up taking off earlier than that, but I was happy for him because I didn’t see him again until after I finished. He ended up setting a new PR on a tough course! I was also glad to have Abby’s company for the last couple of miles. I started speeding up ever so slightly because it wasn’t obvious to me that anyone was targeting 2:20, so I just went with the flow. We were moving at easy, conversational pace and it was fun. To my surprise, the finish line approached quite suddenly, and I finished with a chip time of 2:18:57! My Garmin (and all of the other pacers’ GPS watches) consistently showed a slightly short course. My data indicated that I ran 13.06 miles at 10:38/mile.


Bringing it in strong in the last 1-1.5 miles. (Photo credit: Tiburon Half)


Happy finishers!

After crossing the finish line, I said bye to Abby and thanked her for her company. Then, I ran into Matt, who thanked and credited me with his new PR — which is something that’s still making me buzz with a lot of positive emotions! I debriefed with a couple of the other pacers, then made my way back to my car before the 4 mile cool-down. As I was walking, a runner yelled out, “Hey 2:20 pacer!” I turned around and she thanked me for helping her finish the race. I kinda recognized her from the course, but I hadn’t been aware that she was using me as motivation, so that was really cool.

I ran another 4 miles to make it 18 for the day, then stopped at the nearby market for a breakfast burrito, banana, and cold-brewed coffee. YUM. What a great end to fantastic morning! Obviously, I had a really great and rewarding experience, but I wonder what would’ve happened had I not had anyone in my pace group – which happens a lot. I think then the goal of running a consistent pace is still a good challenge, just not as fulfilling. Still, it was a great way to run a new-to-me race, meet other runners, help people achieve their goals, and add some variety to my long runs. I hope to pace with the TriValley Runners again soon!

About the Race:

  • Race website
  • Cost: $110 – though there was a Groupon deal I saw floating around for $70 (I think?). (Note: my entry was comped, since I was pacing.) There was also a 5K and 10K.
  • Course: Starts and ends in downtown Tiburon. It was more scenic than I expected. About a third of the race is run along the water, and the rest is in residential areas. We ran in front of lots of million dollar homes – not because they’re fancy, but because of their location.
  • Parking: There’s lots of free street parking around the start/finish area (Tiburon Blvd. & Beach Rd.), but also a few paid lots ($5/day).
  • Aid stations: There were a lot of aid stations! They all had water and electrolyte (I think it was lemon lime Gatorade). They were handing out Hammer Gels at several aid stations (I want to say at 3 or 4 of them). However, the spacing of the aid stations was random. Some of them were clustered really close together, and then there would be a longer stretch without one. This wouldn’t be a problem, except there was no information about aid stations on their website.
  • Bathrooms: Two long rows of porta potties at the start/finish area with a some along the way in the first few miles. I didn’t see any bathrooms for a large portion of the race (though, to be fair, I wasn’t looking).
  • Swag: This race was oversold, so the pacers did not get t-shirts (which said “Finisher” on them – kind of bad luck to hand them out pre-race?). The medals were pretty standard. For those finishing the Tri-City Challenge, they got an additional medal and a fleece vest. Each finisher also got a nice Whole Foods tote bag with lots of free samples of decent things, like a Honey Stinger Waffle, an Rx bar, and 2 bottles of water (well, one is actually pHenoOH – “Intelligent Alkaline Hydration Beverage”).

    One medal for all three events.

    Update: the organizers also sent out race photos with two options – free, low-resolution pics for social media sharing, or higher resolution photos for purchase/printing. I went with the low-res versions. I always love free race photos, and these were pretty high quality!

  • Post-race food/drink: there was bottled water and kombucha at the Whole Foods tent, and a TON of samples to try from other tents. Since I still had 4 more miles to run, I just grabbed some water and fruit.
  • Misc.: I really can’t complain about race day execution for the Tiburon Half. The volunteers were great, the finish area was nice, and the course was very well-marked. The one criticism I have about organization is the race website. It has some of the most basic information, but the start/finish location was not obvious. Also, as I mentioned above, the aid station information was no where to be found. I’m also a bit disappointed that the course came up short, and I wasn’t even racing this. If they can fix these things, I think this could be a really great event!
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CIM Training Week 2 (of 12)

Monday: Rest.

Tuesday: Leg speed (aka strides) – 10 x 25 sec on/1 min off. Nice little workout to get the legs to turnover more efficiently. 5.9 miles @ 10:10/mile


I got to work and found a box of donuts on my desk. Best Tuesday ever!

Wednesday: 60 minutes easy. I just couldn’t get my act together, so I only managed 46 minutes of running. Wednesdays are technically my extra/optional running day for the training cycle, so I don’t feel that bad about cutting it short (just a tiny bit guilty). 4.5 miles @ 10:21/mile

Thursday: Short intervals 5 x 2 min on/1 min off. This was tougher than I expected. I was hoping to run around 8:00/mile for the “on” segments. What I ended up with: 8:26, 8:00, 8:15, 8:08, 7:46. Apparently, I was concentrating so hard that I didn’t realize I had finished 5 intervals, so I did an extra one by accident. Oops. 5.5 miles @ 9:40/mile

Friday: Rest. Glorious!

Saturday: Long slow distance 16 miles. Again, I switched my weekend runs around so that I could have company. This time, I convinced Layla and Kristen to meet me at the San Leandro Marina. Even though I’ve run here so many times, it’s nice to see it through a different pair (or pairs) of eyes. We ran 12 miles together before Kristen decided that her knee was in too much pain, and she needed to stretch and walk. Since I was short on time and still needed to cover 4 more miles, and because Layla kindly agreed to stay with Kristen, I went ahead and finished the run solo. I inadvertently did a semi-fast finish long run, with the last 4 miles all around 9:40/mile. Like last week, I felt pretty strong at the end, especially considering that I didn’t take any fuel during the run (water only). Another nice confidence booster! The one downside? Chafing. Ouch. 16 miles @ 10:06


Thanks Layla for the beautiful photos!

Sunday: 60 minutes easy. Slow, hot recovery miles around my neighborhood. I kept my heart rate below 140 (100% aerobic). 5.4 miles @ 11:11

Total mileage: 37.3 miles
How I’m feeling: It’s only week 2, but I’m already hungry all of the time and tired too, despite trying to make sure I fuel and sleep well.
Looking ahead to next week: I’ve got a long weekday run on Tuesday morning and the first true workout of the cycle – cruise intervals (6 x 1000 m) – on Thursday morning. Then, I’m topping it all off with an 18-miler on Sunday. I’m already planning my long run around what to eat afterwards.😉 #willrunforbagels

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2016 Books: Q1

Some social media platforms are more useful than others. I joined Goodreads in late 2013 and have really enjoyed it. I like that it allows me to track my books, see what my friends are reading, and find new books. Two of the cooler benefits I’ve benefited from recently are giveaways and eBook deals. If you tell Goodreads about books you want to read, they’ll alert you if the publisher is giving away copies of the book, so you can enter a contest if you want. I managed to win a giveaway for My Brilliant Friend, which is quite exciting. Goodreads will also notify you if there’s a really good deal online. For instance, Running the Rift, which was on my “want to read” list, was on sale for only $1.99 in the Kindle store for 2 days. I snapped it up.

(By the way, all of the above is my personal opinion and not paid or part of a promotion. Just in case you were wondering.)

Anyway, the other great feature of Goodreads is setting annual reading challenges. Last year, my goal was 30 books, but I only read 23 since I also had a New Yorker magazine subscription. For 2016, I decided to try for 30 books again. I’m happy to report that I’ve just read my 30th book, and it’s only mid-September!

Since I’ve read a lot of books already, I decided to break down these book posts by quarters. Here are the books I read (in chronological order) from January 1st to March 31st:

henrietta-lacksThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Goodreads rating: 4.02 stars (out of 5); 345,000+ ratings
My rating: 3 stars
Categories: Non-fiction, science, ethics
Abbreviated Goodreads Summary: “From a single, abbreviated life grew a seemingly immortal line of cells that made some of the most crucial innovations in modern science possible. And from that same life, and those cells, Rebecca Skloot has fashioned in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks a fascinating and moving story of medicine and family, of how life is sustained in laboratories and in memory…she tells a rich and haunting story that asks the questions, Who owns our bodies? And who carries our memories?” —Tom Nissley
My 2-cents: I started listening to the audiobook version of this about 6-7 years ago on my iPod, and then upgraded to an iPhone. I couldn’t figure out how to transfer the Audible file, so I never finished it. (Lazy, I know.) Anyway, so I finally got this book from the local library and finished it. I really enjoyed the first half of the book, but I felt like the second half dragged. I think the book does a decent job of describing why Henrietta Lacks’s cells are so special, yet also pointing out the ethical problems with how they were attained. The latter half of the book focuses on Henrietta’s children and grandchildren, and their general distrust of the medical profession. I thought it could have been more neatly edited, but that’s just me.

crazyrichasiansCrazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
Goodreads rating: 3.65 stars (out of 5); 40,000+ ratings
My rating: 3 stars
Categories: Fiction, high society, East Asian
Abbreviated Goodreads Summary: “Crazy Rich Asians is the outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season.”
My 2-cents: This is the classic “sneak peak into the upper class” genre but with an Asian (Singaporean) twist. The twist was what kept my interest. The characters and plot were interesting enough, but nothing too surprising or out of the ordinary. A fun, light read.

dearlifeDear Life by Alice Munro
Goodreads rating: 3.74 stars (out of 5); 20,000+ ratings
My rating: 4 stars
Categories: Fiction, short stories
Abbreviated Goodreads Summary: “With her peerless ability to give us the essence of a life in often brief but spacious and timeless stories, Alice Munro illumines the moment a life is shaped — the moment a dream, or sex, or perhaps a simple twist of fate turns a person out of his or her accustomed path and into another way of being. Suffused with Munro’s clarity of vision and her unparalleled gift for storytelling, these stories…paint a vivid and lasting portrait of how strange, dangerous, and extraordinary the ordinary life can be.”
My 2-cents: I upgraded this collection of short stories to 4 stars mostly because I think it’s really difficult to write a solid short story. I always felt a bit detached emotionally from the stories because of the setting (time period, characters, and geography), but I can’t deny that they are very well-written. Some of the stories will stay with me for a long time.

howbadHow Bad Do You Want It by Matt Fitzgerald
Goodreads rating: 4.21 (out of 5); 99 ratings
My rating: 5 stars
Categories: Non-fiction, essays, sports psychology, performance
Abbreviated Goodreads Summary: “The greatest athletic performances spring from the mind, not the body. Elite athletes have known this for decades and now science is learning why it’s true. In his fascinating new book How Bad Do You Want It?, coach Matt Fitzgerald examines more than a dozen pivotal races to discover the surprising ways elite athletes strengthen their mental toughness.”
My 2-cents: Probably my favorite Matt Fitzgerald book yet. Even if you don’t care about the sports psychology aspect of the book, which I thought was fascinating, the athlete profiles and stories in each chapter were riveting and inspiring. (Note: I heartily recommended this book to several running friends, who said they did *not* agree  with me about the riveting part, and promptly fell asleep every time they tried to read it. To each, his/her own!)

allthelightAll the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Goodreads rating: 4.31 (out of 5); 396,000+ ratings
My rating: 3 stars (more like 2.5)
Categories: Fiction, Historical (World War II)
Abbreviated Goodreads Summary: “Winner of the Pulitzer Prize. From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.
My 2-centsI know a lot of people who loved this book; I was not one of them. I don’t have any severe criticisms, it just didn’t move or grab me. One thing that really bugged me were the short sentences. But otherwise, I thought the plot and characters were fine…nothing more, nothing less. It reminded me a lot of The Book Thief, actually, which I also didn’t love (but others did). 

goonsquadA Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
Goodreads rating: 3.64 (out of 5); 130,000+ ratings
My rating: 5 stars
Categories: Fiction, modern
Abbreviated Goodreads Summary: “Bennie is an aging former punk rocker and record executive. Sasha is the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Here Jennifer Egan brilliantly reveals their pasts, along with the inner lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs. With music pulsing on every page, A Visit from the Goon Squad is a startling, exhilarating novel of self-destruction and redemption.
My 2-cents4.5 stars, rounding up to 5 just because. I thought of it more as a collection of related short stories rather than a cohesive novel. Each chapter was compelling, unique, and added to the overarching web of characters. Also, there’s an entire chapter that’s a PowerPoint presentation!

12yearsTwelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup
Goodreads rating: 4.14 (out of 5); 55,000+ ratings
My rating: 4 stars
Categories: Non-fiction, memoir, slavery
Abbreviated Goodreads Summary: “Perhaps the best written of all the slave narratives, Twelve Years a Slave is a harrowing memoir about one of the darkest periods in American history. It recounts how Solomon Northup, born a free man in New York, was lured to Washington, D.C., in 1841 with the promise of fast money, then drugged and beaten and sold into slavery. He spent the next twelve years of his life in captivity on a Louisiana cotton plantation.
My 2-cents: *audiobook version, read by Louis Gossett, Jr.*
Great first-hand account of slavery on top of a compelling chain of events makes this jump from 3 to 4 stars in my opinion.

empressEmpress by Shan Sa
Goodreads rating: 3.68 (out of 5); 4,500+ ratings
My rating: 2 stars
Categories: Historical fiction, China
Abbreviated Goodreads Summary: “A ravishing historical novel of one of China’s most controversial historical figures: its first and only female emperor, Empress Wu, who emerged in the Tang Dynasty and ushered in a golden age.
My 2-centsInteresting from a historical perspective, but I kept rolling my eyes at the over-the-top prose. I wonder if it was better in the original language (either Chinese or French)? (It seemed like a bad translation. A quick Google search revealed that the author speaks Chinese and French.)


furiouslyhappyFuriously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson
Goodreads rating: 3.94 (out of 5); 46,000+ ratings
My rating: 3 stars
Categories: Essays, Humorous, Quirky, Depression, Mental illness
Abbreviated Goodreads Summary: “In LET’S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED, Jenny Lawson baffled readers with stories about growing up the daughter of a taxidermist. In her new book, FURIOUSLY HAPPY, Jenny explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. And terrible ideas are what Jenny does best.
My 2-cents: I didn’t think it was anywhere as funny as Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. For people who suffer from paralyzing depression and anxiety, I think this book is probably awesome. I just couldn’t relate to it very well, and got a bit impatient with it after a while. Still, it was enlightening to read about the author’s experiences and I felt like it made me more sympathetic to those who struggle with mental illness.

everythingineverEverything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Goodreads rating: 3.76 (out of 5); 104,000+ ratings
My rating:4 stars
Categories: Fiction, Immigrant experience, Dark
Abbreviated Goodreads Summary: “Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet. So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio…A profoundly moving story of family, secrets, and longing, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.
My 2-cents: Well-written and great storytelling, but there was something about the prose that left me cold. Growing up in a predominantly white area, I related a lot to the Lee family in the book. (And not just because we share a last name.)

fatesfuriesFates and Furies by Lauren Groff
Goodreads rating: 3.56 (out of 5); 56,000+ ratings
My rating: 5 stars
Categories: Fiction, Relationships, Dark
Abbreviated Goodreads Summary: “Every story has two sides. Every relationship has two perspectives. And sometimes, it turns out, the key to a great marriage is not its truths but its secrets. At age twenty-two, Lotto and Mathilde are tall, glamorous, madly in love and destined for greatness. A decade later, their marriage is still the envy of their friends, but behind closed doors, things are even more complicated and remarkable than they have seemed.
My 2-cents: I don’t remember why I gave this book 5 stars (I didn’t write a review at the time), but I think I just really enjoyed it. I thought the storytelling was gripping and I loved the structure of the different perspectives. That said, I can see how not everyone would enjoy this book.

missoulaMissoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer
Goodreads rating: 4.05 (out of 5); 21,000+ ratings
My rating: 4 stars
Categories: Non-fiction, Journalism, Criminal Justice, Sexual Assault
Abbreviated Goodreads Summary: “From bestselling author Jon Krakauer, a stark, powerful, meticulously reported narrative about a series of sexual assaults at the University of Montana ­— stories that illuminate the human drama behind the national plague of campus rape.
My 2-cents: In retrospect, I might bump that 4 star rating to a 5. I’ve referenced this book a countless number of times since I finished it. It’s such a well-rounded, well-researched piece, not just about college rape, but also the criminal justice process and acquaintance rape in general. One interesting fact I learned was that most people who commit acquaintance rape tend to be serial rapists, and educating police investigators of this fact may lead to more successful prosecution of these rapists. This is such a relevant, important topic, and I can understand how most people wouldn’t want to read about it (because it’s depressing, duh), but I think it should be required reading for all people, especially college students – men and women.

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On the docket…

10/29/16 - OktobeRun Half (pacing)
11/6/16 - Dream Mile Half (pacing)
11/20/16 - Berkeley Half Marathon
12/4/16 - California International Marathon