Thursday, April 16, 2015

Well, That Wasn't the News I was Hoping For!

Though, to be honest, I don't think there was any news that I was actually hoping for.  No news is good news, right??  When I emailed my doctor the other day about not feeling 100%, she suggested that I do some more blood work to get a big picture view of what's going on.  In my mind, I was thinking that would be a great way to eliminate worrying about anemia.  Rule shit out.  Sounds good!

Until I got my numbers back today.

This sucks.
As it happens, I am even more anemic than I was last year.  What the ever-lovin' and actual fuck is that all about?!?

My first reaction was just pure rage.  I'm still sort of there, honestly, except that now I'm also just really, really sad.  I feel like my body is betraying me.  And I wonder what it is exactly that I'm doing wrong.  Besides that whole "not having enough iron" thing.  I eat right.  I don't feel like I train excessively.  I sleep enough.  I'm a good person.  Why me?

Okay, that was melodramatic.  But, as you may have noticed, I'm throwing myself a little pity party today.  Yay.  Everybody loves those.

So, the first thing on the To Do List is to get over myself and make a plan, because whining about things doesn't fix them!  I know full well that this is going to take some time to get over, so I might as well get my head straight and figure out something productive to do with all that time that I won't be running.

Wasn't I also just saying that I wanted to spend more time working on the blog??  Silver lining, baby!

Tell me some good news!  And since I have the time on my hands... what's the best book you've read lately??

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Two Topic Tuesday

I was running with my client who is a doctor today, and among the many topics we covered over the course of three very windy miles was my continued struggle with allergies and asthma this spring.  It's been a rough couple of months, you guys.

source
I thought I was soldiering through pretty well, to be honest.  I started taking another medication a little over a month ago, and I absolutely felt like my symptoms were better.  I don't have any of the usual sneezing or watering eyes or anything - which is awesome! - but the crap with my lungs isn't getting any better.  And it's weird.  I don't really feel like I'm wheezing, exactly, but almost the minute I start to run, I feel drained.  Total muscle fatigue.  I mean, I'm barely across the street and I'm already wondering when I can take a walking break.  It sucks, but I've been pushing through it, because, really, what are my options here?  Not running?  Uhhh, that's a no.

And when I said to my client who is a doctor, that I was doing okay, and I was living with it, and it wasn't really that bad, she said something so powerful that it stopped me in my tracks:

"Pahla, you deserve to feel better than this."

It's sad/funny/ironic how often I've said those words to my clients, and yet somehow I didn't notice when it applied to me.  I mean, I help people feel better and eat better and move better for a freakin' living!  Of course I believe that everybody should feel awesome all the time!  So, how in the world did I not even notice that I was making excuses for myself and figuring out workarounds (Oh, I'll just run slower.  I just won't run as far.) to accommodate my diminished capacity?

I have no idea.  But now it's out there:  I need to raise my standards for myself.  I emailed my doctor as soon as I got home, and I'll let you know where we go from here.  It was strangely exhilarating and almost scary to think that I could get back to feeling 100%.  I've been hovering down around 85% for so long that I hadn't really let myself think about feeling better, but now I want it so bad I can taste it.

While I was driving home, I realized that her words hit me so hard for another reason, too.  I've been having an internal struggle lately with the work that I do.  (Not the clients that I see in person, they're awesome.)  I have a real passion and desire to succeed with the workout videos I make for YouTube (and the website I run in conjunction with that) as well as writing for this blog.  But somehow, I seem to have accepted...  I don't know what to call it.  Mediocrity?  I've never quite pushed myself to grow the blog the way I wanted to, even though I love writing, I love telling my stories and I love connecting with other runners.

I deserve to feel better than this.

So I made the decision that I've been hemming and hawing about for - oh, I wish I could say weeks or months, but it's actually been years.  I'm moving over to WordPress!  I know it's a better fit for bloggers who are serious about blogging, and that includes me.

I've done the research ad nauseam, so now it's just a matter of making it happen.  Fingers crossed I don't fuck it up somehow and lose five years of posts!  I truly have no idea if I'm technically savvy enough to migrate my own stuff, and I hope that if I manage to erase all my subscribers that you'll come and find me again.  Thanks in advance for that!

I want you to know that if there's something that's been bugging you lately or weighing on your mind, the answer is this:

You deserve to feel better.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Monday Motivators

Looky there, it's Monday again already!  And that means it's time for Monday Motivators - the weekly check-in (and link-up with Laura, who would rather be on the couch) on our fitness goals.  Check out the link up and feel free to join in!

Foam Roller goal?  Met!
You may recall that last week's goals were not lofty.  Spoiler alert!  This week's goals won't be, either.  Here's how things shook down:

  • GOAL:  Get my ass on the foam roller twice.
  • RESULT:  Woo hoo!  My ass got on that foam roller FOUR times!  And that's not even including how I just now rolled out my calves for like two seconds taking the above photo.  I'm calling this a huge win.
  • GOAL:  Get up and walk around every hour while I'm on the computer
  • RESULT:  Uhhhhh, what?  I honestly forgot this goal less than three minutes after I wrote it down - it actually surprised me when I went back to read last week's post because I had put it that far out of mind.  But I would argue that I spent more time up and moving around this week, just in general.  So... I'm calling this a rollover goal, since I apparently didn't even try to meet it.
Alrighty then.

This week's goals:

  • Get up and walk around every hour while I'm on the computer.  I'm trying to decide on a practical way to actually implement this, and it seems like maybe I should set an alarm on my phone or something.  
  • Get on my bike.  It's been about a million years since I've ridden and the weather is so nice.  No goal for mileage or speed, because heaven only knows where my bike fitness is right now (except that I'm pretty sure I wouldn't even use the phrase "fitness" to describe it).
 I've spent so many years thinking about my fitness goals in terms of miles run and races coming up - this is super refreshing to focus on other details!

What's your goal this week??

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Monday Motivators (on a Tuesday)

My girl Laura over at I'd rather sit on the couch (BTW, the lack of title case is directly from her blog.  You may or may not be surprised how much it's bugging me to leave it that way.) has a new link-up that I'm joining this week - Monday Motivators!  I, obviously, was not as motivated on a Monday as she might have hoped, but I'm still in!  Here's the premise:  you set yourself a fitness goal for the week and then check in each Monday (-ish) to stay accountable.  I can do that!


I didn't participate last week, so I don't have any triumphs to report, but here's what I'm planning to do this week:

  • Rest more
Strange goal, right?  Well, here's the thing.  I work out plenty.  I run six days a week and I cross-train three.  My mileage is fine, my strength training is fine, my core work is fine.  But right now I am really struggling and I can't quite put my finger on what's going on.  I don't feel anemic, exactly, but I do feel a lot more tired than I'd like to be.  I'm not taking naps, but I am sure thinking about them (I really try hard not to nap, since it screws up my nighttime rest, but that's sort of funky right now, too, so maybe I should just take a nap).  My legs are just tight all the time lately and don't seem to have the snap I'm looking for in my runs.  Weirdly, even though my mileage isn't high at all, I almost feel overtrained.

I'm going to do my best with that "listen to your body" thing.  Not my forte in general, especially when it comes to rest!  The real question here is how do I quantify this goal?  Because I do what I do, the likelihood of me taking more days of rest is pretty much zero, so I think what I really need to focus on is resting smarter, not harder.  For a person whose job it is to exercise, I actually spend a lot of time sitting - editing my videos, blogging and reading business-related stuff - so I'd like to rest more actively, if that makes sense.  And, since it's still on my Goals for 2015 list that is right here next to my computer even though I haven't followed through on it, I'd like to get my ass on the foam roller.

Ugh!  This officially makes me one of those Resolutionists.  These goals have moved waaaaaay down my list of priorities.  Meaning, they haven't been done.  Like.  At all.
So, here is my already-revised-from-two-paragraphs-ago list of fitness goals for this week:

  • Get my ass on the foam roller twice this week
  • Get up and walk around every hour while I'm on the computer
I was going to be more ambitious than this, but I know better than most that tackling too many things at once is the fastest way to fail at all of them.  So, cheers to baby steps!  I'll check in with these next week.


What are your fitness goals this week?  Wanna join in the link-up?  Go see Laura!!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Fearless

When I got the email about being accepted as a Skirt Sports Ambassador, my first thought was "Omgomgomgomgomgomgomg, SKIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRTS!!!!" followed closely by, "I wish I could tell UltraIronHubs about this!" (It was 3 o'clock in the morning, not the nicest time to wake up your husband, even if you have really good and exciting news.)  And then a third thought hit me, "Oh, shit, I'm going to have to stop saying 'fuck' on the blog."

Because that's everybody's reaction, right?


If you've been reading my blog for more than two minutes, you are probably aware of the fact that I drop my share of F-bombs around here.  It's a thing.  I don't do it to be offensive or mean, it's just a really expressive word for me, and probably one of the most-used words in my exclamatory vocabulary - exceeded only by the word "dude," which has so many facets and layers of meanings it's unreal.

So, there was a moment of hesitation for me, where I was thinking about what it would feel like to censor myself because of, well, let's say "society's" expectations of how I should behave.  I mean, I know good and well that there's a time and a place for swearing, and when I'm in public or around other people's children I mostly keep it to myself.  Mostly.  And even though this blog is about as public as you can get - hellooooooo Internet! - I've always thought of it as being my own personal space, and therefore only subject to house rules.  Would that mean that I needed to be different (read:  cleaner and maybe a little more "Pinterest perfect") as an ambassador for a big sportswear company??  I drank my coffee, I went to work and put on a kick-ass boot camp, I went for a fabulous run, and when I was in the shower afterward, it suddenly hit me, "OMG, Kathrine Switzer!"

I know you've seen these iconic photos of her, nearly being shut down at Mile Two of the Boston Marathon, on her way to becoming the first registered woman to complete that race.

Kathrine Switzer is the reason that you and I can stand at the starting line of a marathon and be thinking, "Gee, I hope I don't crap my pants today," instead of, "Gee, I hope nobody notices I'm a girl."  In reading an interview with her (which I highly recommend you read in its entirety for yourself here), I think what struck me most was her account of that day and how she wasn't really setting out to break barriers or change the world - she was just a kid who wanted to run a marathon.  And yet, because of the way she was treated, she finished the race with a different vision of her future, one that included making the world of athletics better for all women.  Can you imagine having that kind of gumption at 20 years old?

Nowadays, Kathrine is still running (she has 39 marathons under her belt and one win at the NYC Marathon!), and is still making changes around the world for women who run.  She is at the head of the 261 Fearless movement, which organizes women's running events and spreads the message of being fearless in the face of adversity, and she has teamed up with Skirt Sports for their 261 Fearless line of running wear (check it out here - good stuff!).

So I was shampooing my hair and thinking about Kathrine Switzer, and I thought, "What if she had censored herself?  What if she let somebody else's ideas about how she 'should' behave dictate her actions?"  And then I thought about how Nicole DeBoom (the ridiculously badass owner of Skirt Sports) teamed up with Kathrine Switzer for the express purpose of empowering women to be their own badass selves and look good doing it.  I think if you run a company who "embraces the real lives of women with honesty, humor and empathy" that you probably already know that life is gonna throw some f-bombs your way.

I finished my shower - having veered off of these deep thoughts and into a nutty imaginary conversation with Kathrine and Nicole (because we're apparently on a first-name basis now), where we were all high-fiving and I thanked them for being fucking fearless - and felt really good about being asked to be a Skirt Sports Ambassador.

I'm certainly not making strides for women in sports on the world stage, but here in my corner of the world, I absolutely feel like I support and encourage women to live a kickass life by moving their bodies and pursuing athletic goals.  I know that running changed my life and I love to help other women feel that source of pride and confidence, too.  In my work as a running coach (and as a bootcamp babe and YouTube fitness star - I wear a lot of hats), it is my favorite thing in the world to witness and hear the stories of women who are learning to push themselves past their limits.

What do you do that makes you feel fearless??


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Wanna celebrate Kathrine Switzer's fearless accomplishment and challenge your own limits?  Join the Fearless 261 Virtual Race on April 18th!  Check it out here.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Freaky Friday Four-Miler

You know, I don't ordinarily walk in the door from a four mile run and think, "Damn, I should blog about that!"  Because, you know.  Four milers aren't usually all that exciting.  But today was definitely an exception to that rule.

Let me backtrack a few days first.  After Sunday's awesome half marathon, I was wiped out.  Like, surprisingly beat up - sore legs, sore butt, tired enough to take a nap, etc.  When I got up Monday, my lower back was all tweaky, too.  I have to say, I didn't expect to feel like that at all!  But, the show must go on, so I went about my normal Monday routine, running with a client and filming a YouTube workout.  It was a busy enough day that I didn't go back and check my Garmin or Strava until I was ready to head out for my run on Tuesday morning.  And there were Monday's stats still onscreen.  Okay.  That was odd, but not entirely out of the usual lately - my Garmin has been acting like a moody teenage girl for a while now and I've been staying in firm denial about it, so no need to change courses now.  But then Tuesday's run didn't upload.  And neither did Wednesday's.  Not cool bro.  When Strava still shows the number 0 on a Thursday morning, there is a big problem!

Seriously.

The silver lining here is that UltraIronHubs had ordered himself a late Christmas/early Birthday gift of the brand spankin' new Garmin fenix, which meant that I would inherit his old 620 (the watch I gave him for his last birthday and secretly coveted for myself - see how that worked out for me??).  So all I had to do was wait for UIH to get his new watch, which thankfully arrived yesterday afternoon.  *whew*

So, this morning, I was trying to figure out my new Garmin while I was doing my warm-ups.  It's a totally different everything from my old 310XT, and I didn't even know how to turn the darn thing on.  It's going to take some fiddling to get the screens right and learn how to read it quickly without tripping over myself.

As I was getting ready to head out the door, UIH and the boys and I were talking about the gigantic list of Shit That Needs to Get Done before we have guests for Easter and I was doling out jobs and deciding how many miles I had time for, when it occurred to me that as of yesterday, I have a new source of help for running errands:

That's Big Boy.  Driving.  I remember the day I got my license - I drove over to my friend Sarah's house without my mom's permission and got in trouble.  Big Boy got to drive to Walmart and pick up toilet paper.  I am the worst mom ever.
Needless to say, I was a liiiiiiiiiiiittle bit distracted while I was out on my run, picturing most of the worst case scenarios you can imagine and probably a few you can't.  He was fine, though my heart did stop in my chest around mile 1.3 when his name showed up on my caller I.D.  He just wanted to tell me that he didn't have enough money for everything on my list.  No biggie, and I was okay with taking a walking break just then anyway.

I also enjoy taking a walking break to take pictures of BABY DUCKLINGS!  You have to look really hard, they blend in really well with their environment.  I think there were six of them.  So stinking cute!!
There were a lot of people out and about today.  I saw a friend out on his bike (while I was on the phone - he's probably going to tease me later about being a slacker).  There were a few other runners and cyclists and several people who may or may not have been homeless.

Conquering the overpass.
And then there was the person lying down right in the middle of the nature trail.

At first, I was all "lone female on a path" looking for the nearest escape, and then I wondered if I was the jogger discovering a body.  I paused my electronics and approached carefully, trying to decide what exactly I was seeing - pile of clothes?  Actual person?  Random mannequin?  Threat?  Or medical emergency?

It was a kid, maybe 18 years old.  Lying on the ground.  He twitched a little as I got close, so I started thinking seizure, but no.  He was just really, really, really fucked up.  He never looked directly at me enough for me to decide if he was drunk or high, but I asked him if he was okay and he mumbled something about waiting until it was light outside (this was in broad daylight, by the way, around 9 am).  I asked him what he was doing and he said something about being okay, just hanging out.  He was clean, and there was no obvious sign of trauma, and his clothes and his phone were newer than mine, so I asked him again if he needed anything, and after he told me he was "all good" I continued on.

Needless to say, that bothered me.

I re-routed for the trip home, going out to the main road in search of a police officer I could flag down (the police station was less than half a mile away and I see black and whites on this street all the time).  As I got to the station, there happened to be two officers just getting out of their cars, so I raced across the street to tell them what I'd seen.

I don't imagine I looked like too much of an upstanding citizen myself right then, sweaty and out of breath, but I mentioned more than once that I had been out running.  At the very least, they took notes and thanked me for my concern, so I feel like I did what I could.

I can't stop thinking about that kid's mom.  I know that I'll never know the circumstances of his situation, so my mind is just filling in the blanks and sometimes that gets a little wild, you know?

Freaky.

What's the strangest thing you've seen on a run??  Ever run into a person having a medical or pharmaceutical issue??

Monday, March 30, 2015

Running of the Elk Half Marathon 2015 - A Racing/Pacing Report

You guys, I survived my first gig as a pace group leader!!  That might not have been in much doubt for you, but I gotta tell ya, I was nervous.  And apparently, I was nervous about all the wrong things, which is pretty much the story of my life right there.

It's a selfie within a selfie!  Trying on my pacer's shirt.  Here is the only true complaint I have about this race:  the pacer's shirt was straight up awful!  Thick, oversized, and cotton?  Are you kidding me?  This was a size small and it was big enough to be a sleep shirt.  With temperatures climbing into the 70s by the time I was finished, I was so hot and uncomfortable in this thing.  Other female pacers cut the sleeves off and shortened the hemline.  I was super tempted to do that, but wasn't sure of the etiquette.  Next time I know!  Adding insult to injury, of course, was the color.  Obviously a man ordered these, because I don't know a single female runner who would willingly clash a red shirt with her (statistically likely) pink or purple shoes.  Thankfully, I had an older pair of black, white, and neon yellow shoes that didn't look cute, but didn't ruin the outfit either.  And yes, that matters.
When I volunteered to be the 2:45 pacer, I have to admit, my thoughts ran along the lines of, "Oh, this is going to be easy."  In terms of running pace.  I've run a few half marathons with sub-2 hour finishes, and my others have been sub-2:10 (with the two notable exceptions of the time I sprained my ankle at Mile 4 of the Davis Stampede and last year's allergy-fest at the MoMary).  And so I made the rookie mistake of thinking that a slower pace would somehow translate to an easy day.  Oh, dear me, no!  Maybe it was the stress of trying to hit an exact pace, or the heat, or the fact that I foolishly let my eating and drinking plan fall into a lower priority, but I'm pretty sure I worked harder for this finish than pretty much any other half I've run!

Selfie at the start!  You can see that I tried to make my shirt a little more tank-toppy with some velcro loops.  It didn't help a lot, but I can't even imagine how hot I would have been without them!

This was the fifth Running of the Elk, and even though I have spectated every year, this was my first time actually running it.  I LOVED it!!  They made some pretty significant changes to the race course, and even though I didn't run the other one, I know this course was better.  We ran through neighborhoods and on my beloved creek trails and over the pedestrian overcrossing where I do my "hill" repeats.  Every step of this race course felt like home and it was awesome!  We quite literally ran past my house three times (I made my sleepy teenagers come out and cheer for me, since I knew exactly what time I would be running past).  Also, it was a very well-marked and well-volunteered race - I never once wondered if I was heading in the correct direction and the police and volunteers at every street crossing were super friendly and cheered for all the runners.

Standing at the starting line, I had several people come over and chat with me and ask me about my strategy and what pace I would be running.  Probably my biggest concern with trying to finish at a specific time was that I am generally a terrible tangent runner.  So, I had made up a pace chart for myself with split times that had me finishing at 13.3 miles, just in case.  I figured that I would rather go out a tiny bit hard and slow down on the back half if necessary, than try to speed up at Mile 10.  I also planned on walking through all of the water stations.  A few people liked my plan and a few people seemed displeased that I wasn't doing a run/walk program, which I ordinarily would have, and will likely count on doing next year when I volunteer for this gig again.

So, the horn sounded and we were off!  I tried to set off at a conservative pace, but I was sort of all over the map.  Between carrying my handheld and the pace sign and trying to check my Garmin every ten seconds, I felt like I was some sort of joggler.

source
After the first half mile or so, I settled into a nice comfortable rhythm and chatted with my new best running friend, Sophy.  She had told me at the starting line that she'd been dealing with plantar fasciitis for the past few months and was therefore totally undertrained for this half, but she was hoping to hang on to the 2:45 pace group for as long as she could before she dropped back.  Well, spoiler alert:  she ran with me the entire time and totally beat her goal!

Sophy was fabulous company for the whole race.  She was positive and upbeat and just the right amount of talkative.  Honestly, I felt for a lot of the race that she was a great pace leader and maybe I was just along for the ride!  We had several other people come and go from the pace group, but she was the only one who stuck it out the whole way.

And that right there was definitely the hardest part of being a pace leader.  It was my job to run a certain pace and finish on time, but what I really wanted to do was stick with the people who were struggling!  Over the 13 miles, I had so many people tell me that it was their goal to just stay ahead of me.  It absolutely broke my heart to pass them up when they started falling off their paces!!  As fiercely competitive as I can be when I'm running for myself, when I'm charged with coaching and encouraging others, I'm a total mama.  I want everyone to win!

I hung out at the finish line for a while after I was done, cheering in the other runners we had seen and chatted with out on the course.  You know, as exhilarating as it is to run fast and hit speedy PRs, there's really something to be said for running closer to the back of the pack.  It was so much fun to cheer for all the fast runners coming back at us on the out-and-back portions of the course.  And even the speediest runners had something encouraging to say in return, which pretty much cements for me the fact that runners are the nicest people in the world.

Me and my girl Sophy, celebrating an awesome finish by hanging out in the shade!
I suspect this course was measured the way it was likely to be run by most people, rather than hitting strict tangents, because I have never hit the finish line with an exact distance like this!  I was so grateful to hear my Garmin beep as we passed the mile markers, because then I didn't have to do any running math.  I knew I was on pace!
I enjoyed everything about being a pace group leader and will definitely be on board with doing this again!  It was stressful, but in a good way.  And now that I've gotten that first time out of the way, I'll be aware of how to make it an even better experience next time.  Here's what I learned:

  • There's no such thing as "easy" when you're covering 13.1 miles!  This pace wasn't heart-pounding for me, but my body still had to cover the distance, and that was a lot of work.  Respect the distance!
  • Part of respecting the distance means not getting distracted from your normal fueling schedule.  I was four or five miles in before I realized that I was waaaaaaay behind on drinking enough.  My stomach is still a little off today after being so dehydrated from a long run on a hot day.  No bueno.
  • Tape your splits chart onto the pace leader stick so you can see it at all times.  I had mine in my handheld (it has a see-through window), and the angle was just awkward.
  • Set your Garmin for Current Lap Average Pace.  I had mine set on Overall Average Pace, which was helpful and got me there on time, but some of my mile splits were crazy.  Next time I would really like to run more consistently.
  • There is no feeling in the world like helping somebody else meet their goal.  100% worth it!

Have you ever paced a group at a race before??  Or used a pace leader to help you finish on time?  What was your favorite part?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Trillion Things Tuesday

It is Tuesday, right?  I'm having one of those months where it's really hard to tell.

Seriously.
You.  Guys.  When Little Boy was really little, he was pretty much the happiest kid on Earth.  You would honestly not know that now, since he is riddled with teen angst so much of the time and has actively pursued a nonchalant persona.  But when he was small, he was happy all. the. time.  Sometimes he would get SO HAPPY that his little tiny body couldn't even contain it anymore and he would just scream!  It was sort of alarming if you didn't know him, but if you did, you knew.  He was just that happy.

OMG, that squishy little face!
That's how I feel today.  I am SO HAPPY that I can't even contain it!  Here's why, in bullet points with lots of exclamation marks (but almost no actual screaming):

  • I got the dream-come-true email this morning that I have been selected as a SkirtSports Ambassador!!!!!  If you have been reading my blog for more than two seconds, then you have seen a photo or seven of me wearing my favorite skirt and probably read about how much I love it. (Link is to a recent post where I talked about retiring old running gear, and even though I am wearing one of my many SkirtSports skirts in 14 of the 19 photos, it has never once occurred to me to retire them.  You can pry them from my cold, dead hands, thankyouverymuch.)  I know your first thought upon reading this exciting news is, "Pahla, that's great, but what's in it for me?"  Well, coming very soon, I'll have a super awesome discount to offer you on anything from SkirtSports, which, in case you didn't know, has way more than just skirts.  So, yay!  Plus.  Well, you'll be sure to see more pictures of me in skirts, and that's just a win for everyone, right?
July, 2010
  • I did something entirely out of character for me recently:  I volunteered to run a pace group at the Running of the Elk half marathon I'm running this weekend!  I am beyond excited and only just nervous enough that I already can't sleep.  I was totally already signed up for this race because it's part of the NorCal Tour de Fit, and based on the way things are going with my lungs and the allergies/asthma nonsense this spring, I knew there was no way I would be racing for time.  So, when the call went out on Facebook for a 2:45 pace leader, I jumped on it.  What a phenomenal way to give back and still enjoy the run for myself!  Yes, I know that just sounded a little selfish.  It's true, though, and the dirty little reason why I have never volunteered at a race before - I'd rather be running!

source   One of the many, many things that I am worried about is whether or not the sign I will carry has balloons attached.  I am weird about balloons.  Well, to be fair, I am weird about a lot of things, and balloons are just one of them.  I don't like 'em!

  • We are knee-deep in track season around here and my kids are doing really, really well!  Pretty much the only time I will make an exception to my "I'd rather be running" rule is when I get to watch my kids.  Dude.  They are so freaking fast!  And, to be brutally honest, they're not even close to the fastest kids out there.  Watching high schoolers run is so exciting!  I never ran track (or, you know, around the block) when I was a teenager, so this is all new to me, and I still have a hard time comprehending the speeds these kids are running.  Both of my boys are clocking mile times under five minutes, and two miles under 11.  Insane!

Here you go.  To contrast with the photo above.  My sardonic teenager, who can't even get excited about winning a friggin' medal, because he came in 4th place.  Oy!

  • This right here is my 300th blog post!  Of course, if I had been blogging more regularly (I'm looking at you 2013, with your whopping five posts all year), I would have hit 300 many moons ago.  But, ignoring that, I am really excited about this milestone!  Thank you for reading my semi-coherent ramblings for all these years (or, if this is the first time you've been here, this one time) - I appreciate it!

Okay, I think that's it.  So I guess it wasn't a trillion actual things, but more like a trillion thoughts bouncing around in my head.  Like that's new.

What's exciting for you lately??  Have you ever run a pace group at a race??

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Lake Natoma 50K - The Race Report that Includes a Few Crackpot Medical Theories as a Bonus

After Saturday's fabulous 7K, I came home and went into power recovery mode.  I got a good breakfast and plunked my butt (actually, it was more about my calves, but whatever) on the foam roller.  I drank water like it was my job.  I did some easy stretching and I took my son shopping.  Oh, wait.  That last one maybe wasn't about recovery, but it was definitely about the fact that we're cruising into spring and he doesn't have any clothes that fit.  We sprung all of our clocks forward at something like 5 pm, to make sure we got into bed early and would hopefully get enough sleep.

I was a little worried about this race, I won't lie.  After it was postponed from the previous week, I'd had two weird weeks of semi-taper, preceded by a pretty mediocre training cycle.  There was never any chance of running a PR at this race, but of course I was hoping that it wouldn't completely suck, either.  Then I ran a little fast at Saturday's race and wondered if I'd just sacrificed a decent 50K for a silly little 7K.  The worry never spun out of control, thank goodness, and I woke up Sunday morning feeling confident that everything was going to be okay.  My legs actually felt really good and I was rested and hydrated.  I had my inhaler and plenty of food and drink to get me through the day.

Blurry pre-race selfie.  We had arrived in plenty of time to use the bathrooms and warm up, but there were only four restrooms available and the lines took a rather long time.  We ended up barely having enough time to wish each other luck before I was off on my big adventure!  UIH's marathon started just moments after the 50K.
I met up with a friend at the starting line - it wasn't difficult to find her because there were just 20 of us runners there.  Yes, the race was that small!  We were given our instructions (the 50K had a short out and back in a direction that none of the other runners were going, to make up most of the extra miles), and then we were off!

I wanted to get off to a conservative start, so I sort of gave it a little trot, but the rest of the field was off like a herd of rockets.  If rockets were animals that would be referred to in group form as a herd.  Holy moly!  Within mere moments, I found myself at the very, very back of the pack.  I checked my Garmin.  No, I wasn't standing still.

Of course, I wasn't breaking any land speed records either.  I wasn't especially happy with the number that appeared on-screen and tried to put it out of my head.  I chatted with my friend, who was also in last place with me, and I took a planned walking break at Mile 1 to drink and catch my breath.  The day was off to a rough start.  I didn't feel good.  I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but I knew I needed to do something to find my rhythm.

I ran on.  The entire field came running back at me after the turnaround and I smiled and cheered for them all.  Everyone was friendly and seemed to be having an easier time of it than I was.  I was finding it very difficult to hold a conversation with my friend, so I started drifting away a little.  I really wanted to just put on my music and get in my groove.  

Alas, there was no groove to be had.  I was eating and drinking on my normal schedule, I had my tried-and-true tunes on my playlist, I was running a course I've run dozens, if not hundreds, of times before and yet...I felt meh.  I was already tired, I was already slogging and it's a little embarrassing, actually, to admit that it took me NINE MILES to figure out what the hell was wrong with me:  I couldn't breathe.

I mentioned a while back that I'm having trouble with asthma again this spring.  I'm doing what I can to manage my allergies with meds and I've been really diligent with remembering to use my Albuterol before running (I really only have asthma symptoms while I'm running - but not during the winter months, so my I'm-not-a-doctor theory is that I have a combination of exercise- and allergy-induced asthma), but sometimes it's not enough.

You may be wondering why I couldn't tell right away that I was having asthma problems, and I'll tell you that there are two reasons:
  1. I'm still in total and complete denial that this whole "asthma" thing is a problem for me.  I seriously haven't even Googled it.  I don't want to know.  I am like a toddler who has flung herself to the ground at bedtime.  I don't wanna have asthma! I don't want to and you can't make me!!!
  2. My symptoms are like slippery fish - some days it's super obvious that I'm as wheezy as Mrs. Jefferson, and sometimes it just feels like I'm not quite right.  Like throwing a blanket over a lamp - there's still light, it's just not very bright.  I can still run, but it's hard.  It feels a lot like I'm underfueled, or maybe just fatigued.
Of course, I am beyond grateful that I haven't had any full-on asthma attacks that have made me stop running.  At worst, I would call what I have an inconvenience.  But, there ya go - it's pretty fucking inconvenient to feel like crap and still have twenty-two miles left to run in your race.

I could spend the rest of this race report complaining about how I felt lousy, and ran out of fuel, and how I think one of the runners cut the course (which really chaps my hide), but I've decided that I would really rather share with you the handful of bright spots in my day.  The things that make even a crappy race better than pretty much everything else in the world, because I'm still out there doing it.

  • The race bibs were issued in alphabetical order, with the 50K-ers first, so I was bib NUMBER ONE!  The whole time I was out there running (and walking, lots of walking), other racers and random strangers were cheering for me, "Here comes number one!"  "Hooray for number one!"  "Look, you're number one!"  It was sadly ironic - what with being in nearly last place and all - and incredibly awesome all at the same time.

Make way for Numero Uno, baby!
  • I got recognized from the blog!  I freaking LOVE IT when that happens!!  It was nearabouts the turnaround, when things were feeling a little desperate for me (there was still a long way to go, I was just about out of fuel and still several miles from the aid station, it was getting hot, etc. - you know how it feels in the middle of a long race), and it was so nice to see a smiling face.  Actually, more than one smiling face, which was pretty exciting, because I don't think I've ever been recognized twice at one race before.  Famous!  And my apologies if I wasn't properly enthusiastic in return - it wasn't my best day, as you're reading here.
The turnaround was a little tiny caution sign on the side of the trail.  Just a bit anti-climactic.
  • Speaking of smiling faces, there were plenty to be had along the race course, and man, did I appreciate them!  Some friends of ours were volunteering for one of the aid stations, so I got hugs and high fives (and some much-needed water and salt tabs) at the start, the finish and twice along the out-and-back course.  Thank you J-squared!  Another friend who was out for his long bike ride found me several times during the day and lied and told me I was looking good.  Even though I knew I looked miserable, it was really nice to hear.  One of my badass mama friends was out running with her Boston training group, but she took the time to give me a hug and tell me that UIH was looking awesome in his race.  I carried that hug and those kind words like a little treasure in my pocket for miles - I was so happy that UIH was having a good day!
On his way to a second place finish!
  • This guy.  He ran a kick-ass marathon, then got on his bike and came down the trail to find me and cheer me on.  He ended up riding sixteen miles, smiling and talking to me and keeping my spirits up.  I'm not sure how I got so lucky, but I managed to marry the best man in the whole wide world!
I love my UltraIronHubs.
  • I have shared with you that my to-do list occasionally has some oddball items on it.  Here's one:  quite a few months ago, I posted a photo on Instagram of a lovely canyon view that I took while on a long run, and the caption said something about how Folsom Prison was just off-camera.  My girl Andrea asked why I didn't take a picture of the prison, and I have been meaning to ever since.  Boom - here it is!  
The barbed wire is actually from the Bureau of Reclamation, which protects Folsom Dam, but it makes the photo more dramatic, no?
  • If you've ever privately wondered if I exaggerate my OCD tendencies, wonder no more:  when I realized at Mile 9-ish that my problems were asthma-related, I turned off my music and slowed way down so that I could just concentrate on my breathing.  Easy in, easy out, keep it managed so that I could actually, you know, run.  While I was focusing on my breathing, I found myself unconsciously counting breaths and matching the rhythm to my steps.  Three footfalls on inhale, three footfalls on exhale.  I decided to run for 100 breaths, and it relaxed me so much to fall into the zen of counting that I ended up counting my breathing for the rest of the race.  Yes.  22 miles of counting.  Three thousand seven hundred and seventy-five breaths.
  • I passed four people in the last two miles.  Listen, my victories were very, very small that day, so I'm taking 'em where I can!
  • And maybe one of the brightest moments of all - I CROSSED THE FINISH LINE!  As crummy as the day was, I never truly considered quitting.  Even if I crawled through the finisher's chute in last place, this was going to happen:
It totally looks like I'm about to give that volunteer a hug.  I should have.  I was SO happy to be done with it.
Six-time ultramarathoner.

Official Finish Time - 6:37:19
AG - 2/4
Gender - 4/7

OA - 15/20


I mentioned on Instagram that this was one of my Top Five crappiest races ever, based on how lousy I felt, but now that I've had a few days to reflect on it I am filled with nothing but gratitude that I am capable of running an ultramarathon at all.  No, it wasn't my best (PW for a road 50K by over an hour - can I get a hell yeah?!?), and it wasn't what I had hoped for, but I did it.  And that's as good as this life gets.


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Lucky Run 7K 2015 - Race Report

I was excited about The Lucky Run from the minute I read about it on the Tour de Fit website.  It pretty much has everything I'm looking for in a race - fun theme, not too difficult course, and the ultimate prize:  an automatic PR for a new distance.  Boom!

There was the small wrinkle of having the 50K I had intended to race a week before get rescheduled to the day after, which made my race strategy and recovery quite different, but - as is often the case with me - I decided not to worry about that.  Have you ever noticed how I only worry about the things that I shouldn't, and I frequently throw caution to the wind when worry might be a better option?  Yeah.  It's good to be me.

I ran this race with a very dear friend-slash-client, which is not to say that we ran together, but that we carpooled to the race together and cheered each other on.  This was new for me.  I ran that one race that one time with a client, but other than that, I mostly go to races all alone or with my family.  Sometimes I race with UltraIronHubs, but usually I'm solo.  I gotta tell ya, driving to a race with a friend was more awesome than I thought it might be.  (Apparently I need to get out more, huh?)

Me and my girl SH, standing in the long ass port-o-potty lines.  Do you see all the people lined up behind us?  They were all waiting to pee.  This was less than 10 minutes before the start of the first race (the half marathon left 15 minutes before the 7K and 7-Mile), and we were still a good 5-10 minutes away from the front of the line.  They were even making announcements about how everybody needed to try to get in and out of the potties quickly.  Are you kidding me?!?  This is easily my biggest complaint about this RD.
After using the facilities, we had just enough time for a nice little warm-up and then squeezed into the starting line.  When I first started racing, I used to be one of the first people lining up, but now I try really hard to time my warm-up to be done pretty much as we're singing the national anthem (or, in this case, counting down from ten).  It gives me far less time to be nervous and I'm actually warmed up and ready to run.  Go figure.

So the horn blasted and we were on our way.  I was a little further back in the pack than I would have maybe liked, but I honestly still wasn't sure how I was going play this.  Run with caution, because I had a freakin' 50K in  less than 24 hours?  Or run with the wind, because it's way more fun?  Well, my head might have still been debating that choice, but my legs were all, "Fuck it, let's RUN!"

I had to do a little bit of weaving, but mostly I had clear pavement, which was pretty surprising in a crowd this size (about 1100 runners and walkers).  I felt really, really, really good.  I felt strong.  My breathing was nice and even, in spite of the allergies I'm dealing with and the asthma troubles I've been having for the past several weeks.  I could tell in that first quarter mile that it was going to be a fabulous day.

I wish I could give you a turn-by-turn description of the course or what I was thinking while I was running, but I have to tell you, I have no idea what the course looked like or what I was thinking except, "Don't puke."  After the race, when SH and I were talking about it, she was describing what she had experienced on part of the course and she said, "You know, where we went around that pond?"  I stared at her blankly.  "We were on the side of the pond for awhile, and then we ran around a little and then we were back at the pond...?"  I asked her what mile that was.  "Like right around Mile 3.  At. the. pond."  (Because when you speak slower and louder, that usually helps people remember shit.)  I finally just smiled and nodded like I knew what she was talking about, but I seriously didn't have a clue.  I don't remember a pond.  I only vaguely remember a bridge and some sort of overpass.  Mostly I remember the oatmeal that was sitting right at the back of my throat and the semi-formed idea that I was probably running too fast for a girl who had 31 miles on the docket for tomorrow.  Oh, well!  Wheeeeeeeeeeee!

Actually, I do vividly remember somewhere around Mile 2 1/2 (which was apparently at some sort of pond) looking at my Garmin and wondering how the fuck I was going to hold onto this pace for another two miles.  Here's the thing about automatic PRs for new distances - they're new distances.  And they're hard to pace.  I was totally running my 5K pace, but I had an extra mile and a quarter beyond that before I got to the finish line.  Oops!  When my Garmin chirped at Mile 3, I was in a world of hurt.  I struggled to keep focus.  I turned my music up louder and tried to squeeze some energy out of T.I. and Jay-Z telling me to bring 'em out.  I got passed by a kid, which pissed me off, but I had to let him go.  My fourth mile was significantly slower than the other three, but I hung with it as best I could.  And I did manage to rally back for the final what should have been .34, but was .51 on my Garmin (damn tangents!) for a super strong finish.

After the Mile 4 sign I could hear the finish line, even over my blasting music, so I took out my headphones.  I made it!  The announcer wasn't sure what to do with my name at first, but he tried it again and got it right, which always makes me happy.  (It's pronounced exactly like "Paula," by the way, in case you've ever wondered.  That H in the middle throws everybody off their game.) 

You know what bugs me about being off the tangents?  My official pace was recorded at 8:30.  Boooo!  I was totally faster than that!
I somehow managed to not take any selfies after crossing the finish line, but I did take quite a few photos of SH, who beat her goal time by four minutes!!

So proud of this girl!

Official Results:
Time - 36:55
Overall - 48/586
Gender - 15th
AG - 5/61


I was really, really happy with the way this race went down.  Next time I might start a little more conservatively, sure, but overall I was pleased with my effort.  For where I am in my training, this was actually a nice speed-related confidence-booster.  I'm really looking forward to more short distance racing this year!

How do you pace yourself for new distances - Go out hard and try to hang on?  Or start out slow and pick it up?