Race Recap: 2016 California International Marathon

30-second version: Race day conditions were perfect and I felt good at the start. I took it out a bit more aggressively than in previous marathons, but I kept my effort easy. The first 10K flew by and I felt great. The second 10K took a bit more effort, but I was hanging in there. By the halfway point, it was obvious that I was starting to bonk. I tried my best to beat it, but I continued to slow down and my breathing grew more labored. I was fine with shuffling along, but then calf cramps took over around mile 22 and plagued me for the last 4 miles. I kept moving forward and tried to keep my spirits up, crossing the finish line in 4:37:17. I ran a 24-minute positive split and almost 5 minutes slower than my first CIM, but I was so happy to be done. This race experience reiterated to me how important it is to have process-based goals and that sharing the event with others can turn a personally disappointing performance into a positive experience overall.

Now for the (much) longer version…

Before the race
Everything went super smoothly leading up to the race. KH and I drove to Sacramento, picked up our bibs, checked into our hotel (The Inn off Capitol Park, which I highly recommend), and relaxed for the rest of the afternoon.

expo

I forced KH to take this cheesy photo at the expo🙂

For dinner, we met up with Angela, Angela’s partner DH, and Cathryn and her family at Hook & Ladder Manufacturing Co. The food and company were great, though in retrospect, I should’ve ordered something more carb-heavy than roasted chicken. I was in bed by 9:45pm.

hl

At Hook & Ladder, where we enjoyed a very relaxing pre-race meal served by uber hipsters.

After a sleepless night, I woke up groggily to our 4:00 a.m. alarms. We got dressed, ate breakfast, downed some espresso (KH wisely brought her Aeropress, though I had some Starbucks Via instant coffee as backup), and headed to the shuttle. There was a huge line to get on the bus, but it moved quickly. It took us about 15 minutes to get on the bus. We arrived in Folsom around 6:00, which gave us plenty of time before the 7:00 start to use the bathroom, make any last minute decisions (I decided to eat my Honey Stinger waffle and change my socks), and drop off our drop bags, do a short warmup, etc. I was in the start corral at 6:45, standing a few rows behind the 4:08 pacer.

start

My view at the start, before it started filling up. Runners could line up on either side of the road.

The National Anthem was sung and some welcoming remarks were made by the mayor of Folsom and the race organizers. Then the race began. I crossed the start mat about 3 minutes after gun time.

The Race
It might be easiest to tell this story if I post my mile splits, along with the course elevation profile.

elevation-profile

Elevation profile + pace overlay, according to Strava

splits_1

Pace, elevation gain/loss for the first 13 miles (Garmin Connect)

splits2

Miles 14-26.3. I don’t trust the elevation gain/loss totals… there were definitely some little hills in those mile listed as zero gain!

The first 10K went by quickly and effortless (seemingly). I was so happy that it was finally race day and my legs felt great. I noticed my heart rate was elevated, but sometimes it’s wonky, so I didn’t give it a second thought. I was following all of my process-oriented goals – staying in the moment, thanking volunteers, etc. I had forgotten how many small rolling hills there were, but I was taking them as they came. I crossed the 10K mat at 59:13 (9:32/mile pace).

From mile 6.2-13.1, the fatigue started to set in. Plus there was a pebble in my shoe that was bugging me, so I ended up stopping by the side of the course at the end of the 8th mile to get it out. I recall cursing yet another hill in the 9th mile, wondering when the rollers were going to stop. That was red flag number 1. I tried not to think too much about how early it was in the race for me to be cursing hills and just accept the fact that there was nothing I could do about it except keep moving forward. And yet, every time I went up another hill, I thought, “I really should’ve done more hill work.” Followed immediately with, “Well, too late now. Suck it up.” I started to focus on getting to mile 12 where I could take another Gu and look for Cathryn, who promised to be spectating between mile 12-13.  I crossed the half marathon mat at 2:06:46 (9:41/mile).

I didn’t end up seeing Cat (with her son A and their three giant penguin helium balloons) until after the halfway point, but when I did, I was really elated to see her smiling face. I threw my sweaty buff at her, which, upon catching it, she exclaimed, “That is DISGUSTING!” Oops, sorry Cat!

mile13-5

Running toward Cat with a sweaty buff in hand… (photo credit: Cat)

After that welcome distraction, it became clear to me that I was starting to bonk. I decided to take my 4th gel early – at the mile 14 marker as opposed to waiting until 16. It couldn’t hurt right? And it didn’t, but I don’t know if it helped either. All I could focus on was getting to mile 20, which in my vague recollection was when the hills would finally end.

My pace was getting slower and slower. Every time I got despondent about my pace, I would come back with, “It is what it is. Keep moving.” I decided to take gels at 3-mile intervals instead of 4. I don’t remember much between miles 14-19.

prof_17

All smiles for the camera while slowly dying on the inside (mile 17-18?)

I recall the 4:23 group catching up to me. I tried my best to stay with them, but gave up after a few minutes. I eventually caught up to NT from the Trivalley Running Club, whom I had met at the Dream Mile Half Marathon in October. As much as I felt I was suffering, NT was dealing with an actual injury and running with hamstring issues. Over the next 3 miles we pushed and encouraged each other – though I’m pretty sure he helped me a lot more than vice versa. I crossed the 20-mile mat at 3:19:52 (10:00/mile) and saw Cat again.

mile20

Plugging along with NT’s support at mile 20 (photo credit: Cat)

Despite how I was feeling, and knowing that my chances to PR were out the window, there was a small part of me that thought – maybe I could at least still pull off a course record (4:32). NT literally pushed me up and over the final bridge (and last hill) into Sacramento at mile 22 – he placed his hand on my back and pushed me up the incline. I was pretty resistant to his attempts to motivate me and helpful reminders to use my arms and clean up my running form. Eventually, the twinges in my calf became full-blown cramps, and I urged him to continue while I took walk breaks.

prof_mile22

I remember NT saying, “Smile for the camera!”. Shortly after the last hill (mile 22).

For the last 4 miles, I wrestled with debilitating calf cramps. I would shuffle along for about a block, then succumb to cramping in both legs. Some were so bad that I almost tripped and fell. I began doing walk/jog intervals and tried to limit my walk breaks to no more than 20 steps. At some point,  a lady came up to me and put her hand on my shoulder and said, “I’ve been following you this whole time and I’m not going to let you walk. Come with me.” I desperately tried to stay with her for a few steps before my cramps took over and I told her to go on.

prof_mile-24

More smiles for the camera (mile 24?)

Despite how terribly everything was going, I never fell into that negative head space that has plagued me previously (see: MCM 2013). I wasn’t whining or thinking, “Why? Why me? Why now?” Even though I was fairly quiet and probably appeared outwardly sad/down, I never thought about giving up or even just walking it in. I got a text message saying that KH had crossed the finish line in under 4 hours and I let out a quiet, “Yay!” I was really happy that she had gotten her sub-4 goal – at least one of us had a good race! I continued along with my walk/jog intervals. Miraculously, with about half a mile to go, the jog intervals got longer and longer, and I hoped to be able to get down the entirety of the final chute (50m) without walking. The cramps stayed at bay until the second finish mat – then I was officially done with marathon (or longer) #8!

finishchute_sesa

“Don’t cramp, don’t cramp, don’t cramp” (photo credit: SP)

prof_finish

I cannot get a good finishing pic for the life of me. I had just raised my arms or was in the middle of raising them in this photo.🙂

Official time: 4:37:17 (10:35/mile)
309/507 AG; 1600/2838 F; 4104/6174 overall

Garmin time: 4:37:20 (10:32 for 26.33 miles)

After the Race
My cramping caused the volunteer at the finish line to ask if I needed help. I thanked her and said no, I’d be fine since I’m not running anymore. I got my medal, heat sheet, water, and food, and met up with KH at the finish. It took a while to get my drop bag and then I ran into NT and MA, also from TVRC, so of course we had to take a photo.

finish_kh

Post-race selfie with KH in front of the Capitol Building

tvrc

With the TVRC crew. A tough day for all of us, but we still have a lot to smile about.

KH and I eventually met up with the rest of the crew for post-race lunch at The Pilothouse on the Delta King riverboat in Old Town Sacramento. I had fond memories of the place since eating there after spectating FL in 2013 with bt and KP. I was really happy for Angela, who ran a huge PR and beat her BQ time by 9 minutes! SP also fought to the finish and got just under her goal time of 3:55. Cathryn’s husband finished strong despite leg pain and some of the gnarliest blisters I’ve ever seen. Congrats all around!

pilothouse

Not a great photo of any of us, but at least it documents the occasion.

Post-post race
Now that I’ve had a few days to digest what happened on Sunday at CIM, this is how I’m feeling:

First of all, I’m grateful – for the fitness to be able to run a marathon; that I was still upright (though cramping) at the finish; that I was able to share this experience with wonderful people; for the fantastic conditions, volunteers, and spectators; for the privilege of being able to train and race and afford for all of the race-related things; for being in a better place mentally than I was 3 years ago (at MCM) when race day didn’t go my way.

As for the race performance itself: yes, I’m disappointed that I didn’t run better on Sunday. I still believe that I was (am) capable of running a 4:10 marathon, just not on a course with any hills.😉 If there’s anything I’m regretting, it’s forgetting the simple rules of marathon running, the first of which is: Train for the course you’re racing.  I had totally forgotten/underestimated the rollers and I paid dearly. I know that the causes of muscle cramping are controversial, but I personally believe that cramps are due to muscle fatigue – particularly due to the neuromuscular junctions that are required to transmit neurotransmitters over and over again for your muscles to fire. When your body isn’t used to that level of activity, it starts freaking out, in the form of cramping. What’s weird to me is that I’ve run a few hilly routes during training (Healdsburg, Tiburon, and Berkeley), but I guess because they were “only” half marathons, and all of my other runs were on flat routes, it wasn’t quite enough stimulation to get me past mile 22?

Another thing that’s frustrating (and confusing) to me is that bonking feeling that came so early at CIM. I don’t know if that was due to pushing the pace too early, not eating enough carbs for dinner and breakfast, or an unusually high heart rate even before the race started – for which I blamed race day adrenaline. At Santa Rosa, I went out very easy…maybe I should’ve lined up behind the 4:23 pacers instead of 4:08? But, I wanted to challenge myself though, so… no risk, no gain? Go big or go home?

Like I alluded to above, even though this was not the race I had hoped for, I also don’t feel terribly depressed about it. It is what it is, marathons are tricky, and I learned a bunch of stuff about racing and about myself along the way, some of which I’ve already mentioned, such as:

  • Train for the race course
  • When things aren’t going your way, adapt, don’t dwell
  • The marathon is a long race. Better to start too slow than to bonk at mile 14.
  • Eat more simple carbs for pre-race dinner and breakfast.
  • That I’m stronger mentally and emotionally now than I was 3 years ago. Progress!

I feel like it’s time to take a break from training, especially the longer stuff. I don’t find as much joy in it as I used to. I don’t know what my goals are yet for 2017 – and for the first time in ages, I don’t even have a race on the calendar. I’m looking forward to resting, eating, and spending quality time with friends and family.

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading. Look for a separate post about race logistics – coming soon! (Spoiler: CIM is a super well-organized race and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone.)

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CIM Week 11.5 of 12: Race Preview

Let’s face it: it’s super awkward to post workouts from the last week of marathon training after the race, so I thought I’d lump the beginning of Week 12 with a little race preview, to get my pre-CIM rambling on. Ready? Let’s go!

First: the nitty gritty.

Monday: Rest.

Tuesday: “Mini-fartleks” – 8 x (25 s on/1 min off). 25 seconds is in that hybrid territory between strides and fartleks. My body wasn’t sure what was going on, but it sure was happy to only run 3 miles. 3.1 miles @ 10:27/mile

Wednesday: Cruise intervals- 4 x 1000 m w/ 200 m jog. The goal pace here was 8:09-8:25/mile. My splits were: 8:27, 8:10, 8:04, 8:10/mile. I can’t believe that last week, I ran 2000 m repeats faster than all but one of these 1000 m repeats, but that wasn’t the goal today. No need to run myself into the ground 4 days before a marathon. 4 miles @ 9:13/mile

Thursday: 40 minutes + strides. I had some noticeable front/top of knee pain, but I figured it would go away as I warmed-up. Unfortunately, it didn’t. 12 hours later, with my knee still hurting, I think it was a mistake to continue with my run. Sigh. 3.7 miles @ 10:31/mile

The remainder of the week: Friday is a rest day. On Saturday, I have a 30-minute shakeout run, which I might shorten or cut depending on how my knee feels. Then, Sunday morning is the big day!

**

2016 California International Marathon: Race Preview

Before I begin, some personal history: 2012 was the year I “became” a runner and CIM 2012 was my first marathon. So, basically, I was a running newbie and had zero expectations…which was good, because the weather that year was awful. I always refer to it as the Year of the Monsoon, though my race photos belie that fact. (Especially the post-race photos when the sun came out!).

For my first stab at 26.2, I ran a fairly consistent pace, didn’t really bonk, and didn’t have any serious chafing. Except for the weather, I had a charmed race, finishing in 4:32:39. Unbeknownst to me, it would take me almost 3 years and 4 more marathons before I would have a faster finishing time.

Mile 17. Thumbs up for the VIP poncho!

Mile 17. Thumbs up for the dollar store poncho!

Fast forward to 2016. Sunday will be my 6th road marathon and my 8th race of 26.2 miles or longer. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in the last 4 years, running-wise. I’d like to think that I’ve learned a lot and have become a better runner for it. This year, I’ve focused on two main themes: getting faster and not giving up (building mental strength). The first has come with regular speedwork, something that was new to me and, to my surprise, something that I thoroughly enjoyed. I’ve also targeted increasing race distances as the year progressed, starting with a 5K in March, to a 10K in May, to a half marathon in August. At some point, I had to transition from speed to endurance, but it’s been fun to keep doing some of the shorter interval workouts in the midst of marathon training. I’m now hitting paces during regular workouts that I didn’t think were possible even 10 months ago. So, that’s been a big confidence builder in a lot of ways.

Building mental strength was an equally important piece of the puzzle, especially for the half marathon and the marathon. It’s interesting to me, as someone who works hard and has achieved some major accomplishments through general persistence, that I tend to give up so easily when the going gets tough physically. When I think about the races where I’ve really struggled, I’m embarrassed at how quickly I went into making excuses and self-defeated mode. One thing I can easily point to is that my internal motivation wasn’t quite strong enough to fight through the challenges in the past. This was especially true when I was focused on a time goal, and it was clear that the time goal was *not* going to be met. (More on this later!) I also realized with this current training cycle that sometimes struggle and sacrifice is a good thing. When I’m having a tough time on Sunday, I will definitely be able to draw strength (and a bit of anger) from all of the 5:30am alarms this year. I didn’t wake up early twice a week for most of this year just to wimp out at my goal race! I am super determined to override any bad attitude (and knee pain) that gets in my way.

One thing I’m really good at is talking myself out of suffering. I might get to a point in any race and decide, “Meh. This isn’t worth it. Let’s take it down a notch and roll on home.” This is why I’ve found fast finish long runs to be so useful – I can simulate some of that end-of-race fatigue and practice pushing myself in spite of it. Also, when I’ve had some *really* crappy long runs this year, I actually see it as an opportunity to try out all of the tools that might help me overcome the perceived adversity. I ask myself, “What if this was happening in a race? What would I do? How would I deal with this?”

I had a realization earlier this year that I was doing visualization all wrong. Sports psychologists recommend that athletes practice visualization techniques before their competitions for best results. I was doing this too, but only imagining the rush of happy endorphins as I ran around effortlessly, crossing the finish line much faster than I had anticipated. I never imagined the death-slog with a side of bonk, with 8 miles still to go. It wasn’t until I read Matt Fitzgerald’s How Bad Do You Want It that, along with the positive visualization, I should also anticipate the suffering – which has a very high probability of occurring at some point in a marathon.

OK, so enough about that. Let’s get to the real business of this race preview – what’s going to happen Sunday? And what’s my plan?

First of all, some race logistics: CIM is a point-to-point race, going from Folsom to Sacramento. I’m staying in downtown Sacramento with KH and taking the 5:00 a.m. shuttle to Folsom. (EEK.) Actually, as long as we get there on-time and without drama, I don’t really mind the early hour. Last time, I stayed in Folsom and took it too easy, and almost didn’t make it to the start line in time.

The weather forecast looks great for now (fingers crossed!!). Lows in the low 40s, then warming up to a partly cloudy 60 degrees F, with light winds and 4% chance of rain.

There’s a 4:08 pacer and a 4:23 pacer. Odd. I’m planning on lining up behind the 4:08 pacer and letting the group go for the first few miles.

As I hinted earlier, I haven’t had the best luck with outcome-based goals (i.e., I’m going to run X:XX on Sunday). I feel like I’ve done my best at races with process-based goals. Once again, Angela wrote a very thoughtful, well-stated post on this very topic, and I recommend that you read it! I’d be lying if I said that I don’t have a time goal floating around in the back of my head. Don’t we all? But I’m not going to let that time goal define my success on Sunday… mostly because I only have so much control over that. Therefore, the process-based goals I’m focusing on for Sunday are things that I know are mostly in my control, and hopefully executing them properly will lead to the best outcome. These include:

  • Sleep, hydrate, and eat well the week before the race.
  • Reduce unnecessary stress.
  • Make a list and don’t leave things last minute so I’m not stressed out and running around like crazy on Saturday morning (i.e., taking care of chores, charging Garmin, and buying supplies in advance).
  • Stay calm before the race (don’t burn up energy unnecessarily).
  • Do a very relaxed 5-minute warm-up before the race.
  • Start behind the 4:08 pacer.
  • Stay relaxed for the first few miles. Don’t expend too much effort weaving around or passing people.
  • Take a Gu every 4 miles.
  • Take water at the first few aid stations, since they’re space further apart, but then stop only every other aid station when there’s one every mile.
  • Thank volunteers.
  • Thank spectators.
  • Smile every mile! (credit: Danielle)
  • Head-to-toe form check every 1-2 miles.
  • Be persistent and don’t give up!
  • Enjoy! Be thankful. Stay in the moment. Etc.🙂

As for pacing, this is where I get into murky territory. It seems impossible to have truly process-oriented goals with such a objective measure (e.g., splits). The other complicating factor is that, having been a pacer at 3 half marathons, and doing a lot of race pace workouts, I actually have trained myself to respond pretty well to, “I need to run X pace for this many miles.” So, I’m still thinking about my pacing strategy, but for now, my “plan” is to start relaxed and try my best to negative split based on effort. When I did this at Santa Rosa, I ran too conservatively in the first half, resulting in a 11 minute negative split between the first and second halves. So my goal for Sunday is to be a little more aggressive earlier, but still save some energy for the last 10K.

Anyway, I think I’ve rambled on long enough. If you’ve made it this far – congrats and good job. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see y’all on the other side of 26.2.

Crossing the finish line!

Crossing the finish line at my first marathon

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Posted in CIM, random, Training

CIM Training Week 11 of 12: Almost Game Time

Less than a week to go until CIM!! It seems so surreal. I’ll draft a race preview sometime later this week, but in the meantime, here are some random thoughts:

  • My right ankle has been bugging me since the Berkeley Half Marathon. This is the “bad” ankle, the one I had surgery on 8 years ago. I think it was a little swollen from my new shoes – I didn’t tie the laces in the same way and so my foot kept sliding forward. That, in combination with the rain at BHM, rubbed a spot on my ankle raw. It was pretty tender for a while…luckily, it stopped hurting during my long run yesterday.
  • I’ve been eating like crap for the last few weeks and it finally caught up with me in Week 11. I’m committed to eating my fruits and veggies this week!

OK, enough rambling. Here’s what happened during Week 11:

Monday: Rest.

Tuesday: 10 x 1 min on/1 min off. Last set of fartleks before CIM! 6 miles @ 9:54/mile.

Wednesday: 40 minutes easy. Felt like crap after eating too much junk the day before. 3.7 miles @ 10:55/mile.

Thursday: Tempo intervals – 3 x 2000 m with 400 m jog. I did this exact workout in Week 4, averaging 8:20/mile for the 3 sets of 2000 m. On Thursday, I averaged 8:02/mile. Satisfying progress! 6 miles @ 9:04/mile

Friday: Rest.

Saturday: 50 minutes. Rainy day treadmill run. 4.7 miles @ 10:33/mile

Sunday: Fast finish long run (FFLR) – 12 miles with last 6 at marathon goal pace (MGP). For the second time this week, I totally failed at pre-run nutrition. I binged on Indian food for dinner and had too many sweets on Saturday. My stomach was NOT happy with me. I started off very sluggish and had the feeling that this long run wasn’t going to be pretty. Instead of focusing on the negative, I decided to turn it around and decided to use the run as mental training. The physical stuff (hay) is in the barn anyway, right?

Even though the first 6 miles were sluggish (all around 11:00/mile), I savored each minute, knowing that I’d have to fight my way back in fierce headwind while attempting to run MGP for 6 miles (~9:30/mile). I started off OK, mostly because I ran the first 0.6 miles with tailwind, then turned around. The pace differential was stark: with tailwind, I averaged about 9:00/mile. Into the headwind, I ran about 10:00/mile. My splits were: 9:28, 9:39, 9:37, 9:43, 9:54, 9:50 (average: 9:42). At the time, I was disappointed with my splits. However, in retrospect, I know I gave it my all and to fight a headwind for almost an hour – that’s gutsy (if I do say so myself!). Not to mention, how I felt at the end of that run felt eerily similar to how I’ve felt at the end of several half marathons and marathons. It was definitely a good mental workout!

Total mileage: 32.4 miles

How I feel about it: This week had its ups and downs. I’m definitely in that doubtful taper mood of wondering when (and if) my legs will ever feel fresh again. I’ve been thinking back to the big workouts and strong long runs of this training cycle to build my confidence about Sunday.

Looking ahead to Week 12: Race week!! Short fartleks tomorrow, 4 x 1000 m on Wednesday, and then a couple of easy shakeout runs before race day Sunday. Can’t wait!

IMG_6079.jpg

No good photos from this week, so here’s a pretty sunrise photo from a few weeks ago.

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Posted in CIM, Training

Books 2016: Q2

Taper + Thanksgiving = a bit of spare time to catch up on blogging. It’s been over 2 months since I last wrote about books, so it’s time to cram all of this year’s books into before the end of the year. Ready? Here are the books I read from April 1st – June 30th.

onemorethingOne More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak
Goodreads rating: 3.64 stars (out of 5); 27,900+ ratings
My rating: 3 stars
Categories: Fiction, short stories, humor
Abbreviated Goodreads Summary: “B.J. Novak’s One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories is an endlessly entertaining, surprisingly sensitive, and startlingly original debut collection that signals the arrival of a welcome new voice in American fiction.
Across a dazzling range of subjects, themes, tones, and narrative voices, Novak’s assured prose and expansive imagination introduce readers to people, places, and premises that are hilarious, insightful, provocative, and moving-often at the same time.”
My 2-cents: I found this collection of short stories to be very uneven. Some were very original and witty, while others were either too short or pointless. A quick read though, so it’s worth a perusal. A nice palate cleanser after Missoula.

betweenworldandmeBetween the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Goodreads rating: 4.39 stars (out of 5); 71,000+ ratings
My rating: 4 stars
Categories: Non-fiction, race, memoir
Abbreviated Goodreads Summary: “In a series of essays, written as a letter to his son, Coates confronts the notion of race in America and how it has shaped American history, many times at the cost of black bodies and lives. Thoughtfully exploring personal and historical events, from his time at Howard University to the Civil War, the author poignantly asks and attempts to answer difficult questions that plague modern society. In this short memoir, the “Atlantic” writer explains that the tragic examples of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, and those killed in South Carolina are the results of a systematically constructed and maintained assault to black people–a structure that includes slavery, mass incarceration, and police brutality as part of its foundation. From his passionate and deliberate breakdown of the concept of race itself to the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement, Coates powerfully sums up the terrible history of the subjugation of black people in the United States. A timely work, this title will resonate with all teens–those who have experienced racism as well as those who have followed the recent news coverage on violence against people of color.
My 2-cents: Poetic and moving. Like most poetry, I had to re-read sections 2-3 times to soak in what was written. At times, it reminded me of Invisible Man, so I was surprised to see that Coates never mentioned Ellison in all of his references to other black writers and artists. I didn’t fully comprehend or agree with Coates 100% of the time, but that’s the point, right? Highly recommended.

your-fathersYour Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever? by Dave Eggers
Goodreads rating: 3.58 stars (out of 5); 5,000+ ratings
My rating: 3 stars
Categories: Fiction
Abbreviated Goodreads Summary: “Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever? is the formally daring, brilliantly executed story of one man struggling to make sense of his country, seeking answers the only way he knows how.
In a barracks on an abandoned military base, miles from the nearest road, Thomas watches as the man he has brought wakes up. Kev, a NASA astronaut, doesn’t recognize his captor, though Thomas remembers him. Kev cries for help. He pulls at his chain. But the ocean is close by, and nobody can hear him over the waves and wind. Thomas apologizes. He didn’t want to have to resort to this. But they really needed to have a conversation, and Kev didn’t answer his messages. And now, if Kev can just stop yelling, Thomas has a few questions.”
My 2-cents: The dialogue-only format is fresh and reads like a play, and the premise is interesting enough, but like Eggers’s most recent books, this one leaves me cold.

eligibleEligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice by Curtis Sittenfeld
Goodreads rating: 3.66 stars (out of 5); 30,800+ ratings
My rating: 3.5 stars
Categories: Fiction, easy read
Abbreviated Goodreads Summary: “This version of the Bennet family—and Mr. Darcy—is one that you have and haven’t met before: Liz is a magazine writer in her late thirties who, like her yoga instructor older sister, Jane, lives in New York City. When their father has a health scare, they return to their childhood home in Cincinnati to help—and discover that the sprawling Tudor they grew up in is crumbling and the family is in disarray…”
My 2-cents: A fast and enjoyable read. Better than expected.

portable-veblen

The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth Mckenzie
Goodreads rating: 3.49 stars (out of 5); 2,900+ ratings
My rating: 4 stars
Categories: Fiction, quirky
Abbreviated Goodreads Summary: “The Portable Veblen is a dazzlingly original novel that’s as big-hearted as it is laugh-out-loud funny. Set in and around Palo Alto, amid the culture clash of new money and old (antiestablishment) values, and with the specter of our current wars looming across its pages, The Portable Veblen is an unforgettable look at the way we live now. A young couple on the brink of marriage—the charming Veblen and her fiancé Paul, a brilliant neurologist—find their engagement in danger of collapse. Along the way they weather everything from each other’s dysfunctional families, to the attentions of a seductive pharmaceutical heiress, to an intimate tête-à-tête with a very charismatic squirrel.”
My 2-cents: Quirky, imaginative, and fun to read. I can already see it as a hit indie flick. I’m really impressed by how the author manages to make two very dysfunctional families humorous as opposed to depressing.

life-changing-magicThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondō
Goodreads rating: 3.77 stars (out of 5); 93,000+ ratings
My rating: 3.5 stars
Categories: DIY, self-improvement
Abbreviated Goodreads Summary: “Despite constant efforts to declutter your home, do papers still accumulate like snowdrifts and clothes pile up like a tangled mess of noodles? Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. Most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever. The KonMari Method, with its revolutionary category-by-category system, leads to lasting results. In fact, none of Kondo’s clients have lapsed (and she still has a three-month waiting list).
With detailed guidance for determining which items in your house “spark joy” (and which don’t), this international best seller featuring Tokyo’s newest lifestyle phenomenon will help you clear your clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home – and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire.”
My 2-cents: 3.5 stars. This was an easy, quick read and funny without meaning to be. I’m not a particularly messy/cluttered/hoarder person, but I think I was attracted to the idea of someone telling how to get rid of stuff I don’t need. The insights I especially appreciated were about the guilt/unease we have regarding throwing gifts or expensive items away. As someone who grew up in a frugal house, I have a hard time throwing things away. I also thought the author had a good point about hanging on to things because we either cling on to the past or are fearful of the future. Finally, I agree that surrounding yourself with things that bring you joy would be an ideal thing to do.

That said, the way she anthropomorphizes objects was too kooky for me. I’m sorry, but I’m not going to thank my handbag every day when I get home. Nor will I empty out the contents when I get home and repack them the next day. I’m also not going to implement her tip to remove shower items after every shower, dry them off, and place them in a cabinet…just so it’s easier to clean the shower/bathtub. (The author admits that she has been obsessed with organizing since the age of 5, so she’s very…special.) Mostly though, while I think that *some* people have serious psychological issues that exhibit themselves in the amount of clutter they have in their home, I’m not sure that this approach will be magical or life-changing for me personally.

Update: I’m almost done with the decluttering project and hope to blog about it sometime soon!

you-only-fasterYOU (Only Faster) by Greg McMillan
Goodreads rating: 4.0 stars (out of 5); 149 ratings
My rating: 3 stars? TBD
Categories: running, coaching
Abbreviated Goodreads Summary: “YOU (Only Faster) is a departure from the traditional running book as Greg McMillan walks the reader step by step through the process he uses to create his successful customized training plans, teaching you how to tweak a plan based on your own strengths and weaknesses as a runner. Find out the secrets behind Greg’s 20 years of success in coaching athletes of all ages and abilities from beginners to Olympians!”
My 2-cents: I’ve written about this on the blog a couple of times, in most detail here. I’ve used his training plan to for a half and a full marathon, and so far, I’ve enjoyed both. The proof is in the pudding! Content-wise, there’s not much in the book. You can read the whole thing in an hour. I feel like he expects most readers to be experienced runners and not complete nOObs.

wolf-hallWolf Hall (Thomas Cromwell Trilogy #1) by Hilary Mantel
Goodreads rating: 3.83 stars (out of 5); 109,000+ ratings
My rating: 2.5 stars
Categories: Historical fiction
Abbreviated Goodreads Summary: “Tudor England. Henry VIII is on the throne, but has no heir. Cardinal Wolsey is charged with securing his divorce. Into this atmosphere of distrust comes Thomas Cromwell – a man as ruthlessly ambitious in his wider politics as he is for himself. His reforming agenda is carried out in the grip of a self-interested parliament and a king who fluctuates between romantic passions and murderous rages.”
My 2-cents: Wolf Hall has been on my to-read list for years, so I finally decided to tackle it this spring. It took me a whole month to read it. No matter how hard I tried, I just could not get into it. I understand the style is supposed to be more akin to Old English, but I didn’t like it and found some parts very confusing. I felt only a small amount of tenderness/sympathy for the main character, Cromwell, and was apathetic towards the rest of the characters. There was a lot of the use “he”, and it took me a while to finally realize that “he” meant Cromwell. I’m surprised that so many people liked it and that it won the Man Booker Prize. I won’t be reading the second installment (Bringing Up the Bodies).

the-nestThe Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
Goodreads rating: 3.5 stars (out of 5); 55,000+ ratings
My rating: 4 stars
Categories: Fiction
Abbreviated Goodreads Summary: “A warm, funny and acutely perceptive debut novel about four adult siblings and the fate of the shared inheritance that has shaped their choices and their lives.
Every family has its problems. But even among the most troubled, the Plumb family stands out as spectacularly dysfunctional. Years of simmering tensions finally reach a breaking point on an unseasonably cold afternoon in New York City as Melody, Beatrice, and Jack Plumb gather to confront their charismatic and reckless older brother, Leo, freshly released from rehab. Months earlier, an inebriated Leo got behind the wheel of a car with a nineteen-year-old waitress as his passenger. The ensuing accident has endangered the Plumbs joint trust fund, “The Nest,” which they are months away from finally receiving. Meant by their deceased father to be a modest mid-life supplement, the Plumb siblings have watched The Nest’s value soar along with the stock market and have been counting on the money to solve a number of self-inflicted problems…”
My 2-cents: Fun and fast read. The ending was a bit too perfect for me, but I enjoyed the book overall.

Previously:
2016 Books: Q1

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Race Recap: Berkeley Half Marathon

While planning my long runs for CIM, I considered signing up for the Berkeley Half Marathon.

On the list of Pros:

  • 2 weeks before CIM, when I had a fast finish long run on the schedule anyway
  • local race
  • easy bib pickup (on my way home from work)
  • course goes through a lot of familiar territory (I lived in North Berkeley for 6 years)
  • I knew a handful of friends running it
  • could be useful as a marathon pace indicator
  • keep my motivation up as I transition into taper/peak weeks (whatever you want to call it)
  • practice fueling, try out race outfit, break in my new shoes, etc.

And then, the Cons:

  • 2 weeks before CIM, so it was possible to go too hard and require extra recovery
  • hilly course! maybe not the best practice course for CIM, which is net downhill
  • the weather is always unpredictable in November
  • expensive (relatively)

After a lot of hemming and hawing, I finally decided to sign up after Sesa posted a Groupon deal for $89. (I think the retail price at that point was over $100, with race ambassador discount codes floating around for $10 off.)

My race strategy kept wavering, due to various factors. I had a 16-18 mile FFLR on my training schedule. I decided to run 3 miles as warm-up (at an easy pace), but I couldn’t decide on a pacing strategy for the race, mostly because there are 2 pretty serious climbs in the first 5 miles, followed by an extended downhill stretch. By race morning, I decided to run by feel and try to keep my heart rate below 150 for the uphill sections and try to stay relaxed during the downhill portion. I would still aim to do a FFLR in the last 3-6 miles, but not go faster than 9:00/mile (that didn’t end up being an issue, ha). I had a general goal of finishing around 2:05. My biggest concern was that race day adrenaline would take over and I’d overexert myself, similar to what happened at Healdsburg, and take about a week to recover. Instead of being so aggressive (like at Healdsburg), I hoped to finish at a pace I knew would be reasonable and attainable, and would help me assess if that was translatable to a full marathon.

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The BHM elevation profile according to my Garmin

Besides the elevation gain, the other factor that came into play was the weather. The forecast was for showers and temps in the low 60s. Luckily, the winds weren’t supposed to be that strong – there’s a 2+ mile out and back along the Bay, so heavy winds would’ve sucked. Still, the idea of running in the rain for 2.5 hours (including the warm-up) didn’t sound fun. I decided to make a game-time decision on the pre-race warm up miles.

Fortunately, it wasn’t raining when I woke up on race day. So, I proceeded with my plan, more or less, and ran 2.5 miles before the race. I met up with Angela at the bag drop, which was conveniently located in the Berkeley High School gym. Then we walked over to the corral and met up with KH. It was still not raining, miraculously. Around 8:12, Wave 3 of the half marathon started and we were off!half-marathon-course-map-16-01-1024x764

Angela, KH, and I hadn’t really planned to run together, but that’s what we ended up doing, which worked out really well – especially later on in the race. We chatted and kept our effort at a conversational pace, which was smart considering how hilly it was. We weaved through downtown Berkeley and very quickly (it seemed) we came upon the 5K finish line. I think Jasmine from Brazen Racing was on the speakers there, providing a boost of positive energy.

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Running up Shattuck with Angela and KH

From there, we started the long, steady climb up Shattuck Ave. It was fun to run through North Berkeley, though I had to be aware of potholes and crumbling roads (this was true for a lot of the course, unfortunately). Once we passed the shopping area, the real work began. I focused on the payoff that would come once we got to the top. I was feeling pretty good still.

Eventually, we finally got to Marin, where we made a left turn and WHEEEE! we descended on a really nice, extended downhill stretch to the flatlands. Again, I noted the “scenery” as we passed my old grocery store (Monterey Market, how I miss you!) and my favorite bagel shop in Berkeley (Berkeley Bagels). They handed out Clif Bloks at the aid station and I grabbed a package, not knowing which flavor it was. It turned out to be watermelon, which I typically hate. But the cheapskate in me couldn’t bear to toss it. As a result, I hung on to the package of Bloks for the rest of the race.

My spirits were still high as we ran west and eventually ran down the quaint commercial area of 4th St. It was somewhere between 4th St. and the University Ave. overpass that I began to tire. Maybe it was the first little hill on the overpass that brought it to my attention that my legs were tired, or maybe because the drizzle was turning into steady rain, or maybe because I knew the out-and-back along the Frontage Road was going to be a slog. In any case, things started taking a turn for the worse here.

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Leaving 4th Street

We merged onto the Frontage Road, where there was a bit of confusion regarding the out-and-back. Some of the faster half marathoners on their way back were merging into our lane, and course marshals started directing us to go into the other lane. That was super awkward. Even though it was only a little over a mile out, it felt like an eternity. Then, on the way back, it became apparent that we were totally in the way of the fastest 10K runners. On the bright side, they finally cleared up the out-and-back confusion with a brigade of marshals on bicycles leading the rest of the runners in the correct lane. This was the one section of the course that was kinda crazy and poorly executed; the rest of the course was very well done, with volunteers at every turn.

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On the out portion along the Frontage Road

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…and back, throwing peace signs (I *love* Angela’s face here. BEST EVER)

At the 10 mile marker, Angela and I both noticed that it came up short, around 9.85 miles for me. Mile markers 1-9 had been nearly spot on, so I figured that maybe that one particular marker was put in the wrong location. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case, as every mile marker consistently showed up more than a tenth of mile early. The rain started to come down harder as we climbed the overpass to head back into Berkeley. We discussed as a group whether a fast finish was actually going to happen. I was still hopeful that I could push a little harder than I had been, but I didn’t feel super confident about it. I said that I wouldn’t go faster than 9:00/mile, and both Angela and KH agreed that seemed like a good plan and they would follow my lead.

Somewhere in these last 2-3 miles, I just felt done. I wasn’t out of breath (though I was breathing heavier than I was earlier in the race), my legs weren’t cramping (though they did feel heavy), and mentally, I knew I could do it. But the rain, in combination with the short course, made it so that my mantra was the uninspiring, “Let’s just get this over with.” I would say the one highlight of this section were a group of about 4 or 5 little girls (around 5-7 years old?) cheering us on with instruments, signs, and shouts of, “You can do it!” and, “Use the force!”. With every turn or beep on my watch, I’d say aloud, “OK, only X to go” or “Only x minutes left” — as much for myself as for my companions, who seemed just as eager to be done.

Finally, I saw that we were closing in on Berkeley High School and the finish line. I tried to pick up the pace but my legs weren’t responding very well. As we approached the finish line, Angela had the idea to do a jumping pose for the photo. KH and I agreed and we did it. Unfortunately, the photographer only caught Angela sort of jumping and a portion of my arm and KH’s hand. Whomp whomp.

We got our medals and bottles of water. It was really coming down at this point, so KH bid us adieu to get to the BART station, while Angela and made our way to the gymnasium in search of dry clothes and shelter from the rain. I was really hungry but the only food they were handing out were energy bars, which didn’t sound all that appetizing. I ended up eating several of the watermelon Clif Bloks out of sheer desperation. They weren’t that bad, actually. Angela parked closer than I did, so she kindly gave me a ride to my car. I headed directly to Berkeley Bagels for some food and hot coffee. It was delightful and just what I needed.

I’ve already discussed my feelings about the race, as it pertains to CIM training. A few days post-race, I can say that I don’t think the Berkeley Half was optimal as a tune up race, or even as a FFLR, since the last 3 miles have a decent amount of incline. On the other hand, I’d say it was good for building some mental toughness. I finished not feeling great, but I knew I could’ve kept going if I had to.

Official time: 2:05:15 (9:34/mile)
116/394 AG, 683/1954 F, 2051/4211 overall

Garmin stats: 9:40/mile for 12.98 miles; 512′ elevation gain

bhm-splits

My Garmin stats. I kept my GPS on for an extra 0.02 after the finish line (while walking) to make it 13 miles.

**

About the race:

  • Race website
  • Field size: 4211 finishers in the half marathon. There was also a 5K and 10K that started at different times/locations. All distances were sold out the day before the race.
  • Cost: $85+ for the half marathon, depending on when you register.
  • Course: All paved, though look out for potholes and uneven roads. Two large climbs in the beginning and a gradual incline over the last 3 miles. Total elevation gain/loss: 512 feet (Garmin).
  • Parking: There was plenty of free street parking north of University. You could also pay $20 to park in the Berkeley High School parking lot.
  • Aid stations: Plenty of aid stations serving water and Nuun. They gave out Clif Bloks at one of the aid stations.
  • Bathrooms: A lot of porta potties at the start/finish, and I saw several on the course.
  • Swag: A nice medal and a green long sleeve tech tee. Each bib had a ticket for a post-race beer, but it was raining so hard that I doubt many people stuck around for that. GameFace took race photos and provided them for free.img_6109
  • Post-race food/drink: I don’t know if this was affected by the rain, but the post-race spread was disappointing. I got a bottle of water and skipped the energy bars. I saw they were handing out chocolate milk too, but I’m lactose intolerant so I skipped that as well.
  • What I liked about this race: It was fairly easy logistically, for a medium sized race. I thought the first half of the course was nice, though challenging. I wished that we got to run through UC Berkeley campus as they’ve done in previous years. The wave starts were nice to relieve congestion – which was still a problem in some areas.
  • What I didn’t like: Two major flaws. First, there’s no excuse for the course to come up a full tenth of a mile short! Second, the misdirection and confusion on Frontage Road was also disappointing. Related to that, I felt so bad for the 10K runners who had to weave through the mass of half marathoners. It seemed like poor planning. I’m not sure I would run this race again due to the cost and the unpredictable weather.
  • PR-ability: This would be a tough course to PR on, given the elevation gain and the very real possibility of bad weather. I think the motivation here would primarily be to run a decent-sized half marathon and do a running tour of Berkeley.
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CIM Training Week 10 of 12: Peak Week?

Peak Week 1” LOLZ. I don’t know if I’m peaking, or just feel “peak-ed”.

With Thanksgiving upon us, I can’t help but get in the mindset of feeling grateful for a lot of things in my life. In terms of running, I was thinking this week about how I’ve been a whiny little b* this whole training cycle, complaining about how tired I am and how everything sucks, etc. etc. But the reality is that there are so many positive things that I feel thankful for, such as:

  • Having a job/supervisor flexible enough to allow me to come in later two days a week, so I can fit in 90+ minute workouts on Tuesdays and Thursday mornings.
  • Having the financial resources to buy (pricey) wholesome groceries at the beginning of the cycle to cook, as well as the takeout from restaurants when I got lazy in the second half of training.
  • Having friends and running groups for company on long runs. This was a huge help mentally.
  • Having the resources to afford half marathon race entries to “practice” racing. This was a real luxury, especially my weekend away in Healdsburg.
  • Having a spouse who puts up with my early bedtimes, even earlier wake ups, and weekend mornings devoted to running instead of brunch.
  • Living in an area which, despite not being a fantastic/scenic/ideal place to run, still has reasonable sidewalks and is flat enough to do interval workouts without me having to trudge to a track.
  • Mostly decent weather. With a few exceptions, the weather has been fairly ideal.
  • Surviving the bulk of this training cycle with nothing more injurious than a few episodes of chafing and one minor head cold. (*knock on wood*)

(Aside: for a more thoughtful, eloquent discussion about privilege and endurance running, I urge you to head over to Angela’s blog, where she wrote about this recently.)

Despite my generally bad attitude throughout this training cycle, I think it’s actually been one of my strongest to date. I think that my attitude problem came from feeling burned out after a full year devoted to a series of PR races. Ironically, I hope to use this to my advantage on race day – i.e., “I’ve worked hard ALL YEAR and it’s time to make it count.”

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I hardly took any photos this week, so here’s a random photo of my cat Sasha snuggling under the covers on Thursday morning, when it was really chilly in our house.

Anyway! Here’s what happened this past week in CIM training:

Monday: Rest.

Tuesday: Fartleks! 15 x 1 min on/off. 15 reps of anything feels like a lot, even if the intervals are only a minute long. 6 miles @ 9:46/mile

Wednesday: Easy 55 minutes. It’s finally getting colder here, so I broke out the long sleeve tees for the first time this season. 5 miles @ 10:56/mile

Thursday: 6 x 2 min w/ 1 min jog. Even colder than Wednesday! When I woke up, it was 44 degrees F. It’s amazing how quickly this “workout” went by. I even lost track of the number of intervals at some point. 5.7 miles @ 9:52/mile

Friday: Rest.

Saturday: 65 min. Easy miles and managed to finish right before it rained. 6 miles @ 10:47/mile

Sunday: 3 mile warm-up + Berkeley Half Marathon (fast finish long run, FFLR). A full race recap will be coming shortly, but as far as the “marathon long run” part of this run went, I’d say it was only moderately successful.

Pros: I ran with Angela and KH the whole time (yay), it was a serious strength workout for my legs (holy hills!), I managed to get my time goal (sort of – see below), and the heavy rain didn’t arrive until 2-3 miles from the finish. Oh, and NO chafing, thanks to TRISLIDE (thanks Angela for the recommendation!).

Cons: I only managed 2.5 miles instead of 3 before the race, I pushed a bit too hard on the hills and had nothing left for the FFLR, the course was short (so I didn’t actually get my time goal), and it started coming down hard with 2-3 miles to go.

I’ll talk a bit more about my goals in my recap, but basically I had hoped to run strong and see how well I recovered, in order to gauge what pace I should target at CIM. Unfortunately, I don’t think it was the best course for target setting because of the elevation gain. Also, while I’d much rather run in rain than wind or full sun, the weather was definitely less than optimal. Hopefully, we’ll have better conditions at CIM? (*knock on wood, again*)

Stats for Sunday: 2.5 miles @ 10:40/mile  (warm-up) + 13 miles @ 9:40 (race)

Total mileage: 38.2 miles

How I feel about it: It was nice to have shorter weekday runs this past week. I wish that I felt stronger at the end of the Berkeley Half Marathon, but the truth is that I was tired at the end and glad to be finished. I’ll have to see how my legs feel during tomorrow’s run. I’m wondering whether I should reassess my CIM goals or if I should just chalk Sunday’s race to a tough course in tough conditions.

Looking ahead to next week: I’m trying not to underestimate this week’s workouts, but it seems so easy compared to a few weeks ago. Fartleks on Tuesday, 3 x 2000 m on Thursday, and a 12 miler on Sunday with the last 6 at MGP. Less than 2 weeks until CIM!!

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CIM Training Week 9 of 12: Peak Weeks, Here I Come!

My training plan from Greg McMillan’s You (Only Faster) is pretty traditional for the most part, but there are a few quirky things. For example, McMillan thinks the word “taper” is bad, because it denotes relaxation. Instead he prefers to use the term “peak” for the 2-3 weeks before a marathon, because you should feel like you’re strong and peaking at this time. I think words can play a powerful part in your perception of things, so I’m going to go with McMillan on this one.

In previous marathon training cycles, I’ve experimented with two week tapers and three week tapers. I tend to prefer the former. Three weeks is just long enough for my legs to feel too rested – if that makes sense? This past week was my last big mileage week, accompanied by my last 20 miler. So, technically, I’m tapering/peaking now. But this plan is a bit different, as I’ve still got 40-43 miles on the schedule for this coming week with plenty of speed in there as well. I don’t drop mileage substantially until Week 11, when I go down to 32 miles for the week. I’m hoping that this will work well for me; we shall see!

Here’s what went down this week:

Monday: Rest.

Tuesday: 90 minutes. One really nice thing about the time change – it was actually light out at 6:00 a.m.! I’m glad I got this over with first thing in the morning, as I spent the rest of the day completely distracted by Election Day news. 8.3 miles @ 10:53/mile

Wednesday: 55-65 minutes 44 minutes. Post-election shakeout run. 44 minutes is all I could muster after a restless night’s sleep. 4 miles @ 10:57/mile

Thursday: 5 mile tempo run. Once again, I questioned whether I could do a workout, and once again, I surprised myself by hitting my target paces. I started the run feeling tired and lethargic (did I mention I that I woke up at 4am with chest pains?). My goal was simply to run between 10K and half marathon pace (8:26-8:55/mile). My first tempo mile started slowly, but as I kept running and warming up, things started to click. I ended up running my splits in 8:45, 8:40, 8:34, 8:28, 8:19, averaging 8:33.4. For comparison, I averaged 8:40 for a 4-mile tempo run 3 weeks prior. Yay for progress! 7.1 miles @ 9:09/mile

Friday: Rest. I had the day off thanks to Veteran’s Day.

Saturday: 60 minutes. Easy run around the neighborhood. 5.7 miles @ 10:36/mile

Sunday: 20 mile long run. A few weeks ago, Layla got excited about the news that the Bay Bridge bike trail was now extended all the way to Yerba Buena Island. She planned a bike ride, while a few others (me, Sesa, and Angela) realized that we all had 20+ mile runs on our schedules. Plus, we were all desperate for company to ease the pain of our last 20-milers before CIM (we’re all tired of marathon training, it seems). The last and only time I ran on the Bay Bridge was 3 years ago, and from what I recall, I didn’t have a great time. Yes, it was cool and the views were great, but there was no shade, no water, and I had to weave through downtown Emeryville and then under MacArthur Maze (a giant intersection of 3 freeways) to get to the Bridge. But the bad feelings from that run had mostly dissipated, so I was ready to try again.

We got started a little late (there was confusion about where to meet; totally my fault), but the run itself was pretty smooth. It was nice and foggy, which makes a huge difference when running on this almost completely exposed section of the Bay Trail. We ran north toward Berkeley, then back to Emeryville, where we did an out-and-back on the Bay Bridge.

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At the base of the bridge

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Running into the void

We missed our rendezvous with the bike crew at Yerba Buena (they had gotten lost and were running late), which was just as well because then the timing for post-run/ride brunch was perfect. The good news is that we still managed to meet up with the bike crew on the Bridge for a quick selfie. The fog was great for keeping us cool during our run, but terrible in terms of getting a decent view of San Francisco and Marin. Personally, I’d rather have the cool temps than the view.

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When you have short arms and try to fit 6 people into the frame… (sorry, Angela!)

The sun finally came out during mile 19. I was happy to stop at 20.4 miles, when I got back to the car, but both Sesa and Angela ran a bit further (I think they both wanted to run 22 miles today). I think out of my three 20-milers, I’d rank this one in the middle. I didn’t feel as good today as I did at OktobeRun/Redwood City, but I felt 100 times better than my first 20-miler in Berkeley/Richmond. I found it harder to converse toward the end of today’s run (as in, I was breathing heavily), but I think that has just as much to do with bad eating and sleeping this week as the run itself.

After the run, Sesa and I met up with the bike crew for lunch at Propaganda, which was perfect. There was outdoor seating to allow Layla, Kristen, and Paulette to keep an eye on their bikes, and plenty of delicious food on the menu to help us refuel.

Total mileage: 45.5 miles. It was supposed to be closer to 50, but oh well.

How I’m feeling: I’m still getting over my head cold, but I’m about 90% better. I’m very happy to be done with my last 20 mile run of this training cycle!

Looking ahead to next week: Peak Week 1: fartleks on Tuesday, 2 minute intervals on Thursday, and a fast finish long run at the Berkeley Half Marathon on Sunday. I gotta work on getting my nutrition and fueling back in order this week; I’ve been letting stress and fatigue get the best of my food choices. I need more sleep too! I noticed I’ve trained myself to wake up early now (between 5:30-6:00), so I need to get to bed at a reasonable time, even if I can “sleep in” until 7:00am. Only 3 weeks to go until CIM!! Eyes on the prize!!!

 

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