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.

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?

Monday, March 9, 2015

My Wild Weekend of Racing

You know how some weekends are mellow and lazy and you lay around in your pajamas and read magazines?  Yeah, this was so totally not that weekend!  We were jam-packed, wall-to-wall racing the last three days and it was pretty awesome!

The Kiddos

Friday afternoon/evening took us down to Turlock for the Pitman Distance Wars - a distance-only track meet, which is really different from a full-on track and field event.  They move very quickly from event to event, with little recovery in between.  Big Boy and Little Boy were both entered in the 1600 (one mile) and the 3200 (two miles), and as it turned out, they were even competing in the same heats.  Head-to-head, brother vs. brother.  It's enough to stretch a mama's nerves, I tell ya.  Especially when Big Boy had a rough go of the 3200 (his favorite and generally best) event, and his little brother beat him.  There were tears, I'm not gonna lie.  Big Boy was heartbroken, but (mostly) gracious about the defeat.  Thankfully, earlier in the evening, he had laid down a huge one mile PR (4:53).  So that took the sting off.  A little.

The first words out of Little Boy's mouth at the finish line were, "I love you Bubba, please don't be mad."


After a late night on Friday, I got up at the crack of early like I do and went to work, then hustled my butt over to Davis for the Lucky Run 7K, part of the NorCal Tour de Fit series of races I'm running this year.  I'll be writing a full race report on the blog this week, but here's my four-word preview recap:  I ran too fast.  Lol!  I knew I had more racing to do the very next day, but standing at the starting line of a short race got my adrenaline going, ya know?  I've never run a 7K, so it was an automatic PR, but I was also really pleased with my pace and my time.  The only thing that was a tiny bit disappointing was that I didn't make an AG award, which I thought I'd had a shot at.  So, this morning, I was trolling the results and checking my time in other AGs and I would have podiumed at literally (not even the exaggerated version of that word, but the real definition) any other age.  All the fast girls in town are apparently middle-aged mamas like me.  Ha!

Blurry Garmin pic.


Sunday morning dawned very early, but not exactly bright, since we had moved our clocks forward the night before.  On the calendar for the day was the Lake Natoma Marathon for UltraIronHubs (and a li'l something for me, too, but I'll get to that in a minute).  UIH is currently training for a 100K race in May, so he's been doing a lot of hard trail miles lately.  This race was technically paved, so you could call it a road race, but there was enough elevation change to make it more challenging than your average marathon bear.  Either way, his goal for the day was to run the race comfortably.  It was more miles than he would have run on a regular training day, but easier terrain than the mountains he's been climbing recently, so he went into it feeling like he could shoot for something in the sub-four hour range (his road marathon PR is 3:06:09, because he's fast like that).  Well, you know what I was just saying about adrenaline and starting lines and whatnot?  He felt that way, too, and rocketed his way to 2nd place OVERALL and his fifth fastest marathon ever at 3:26:29!!

It was an out-and-back course and one of us (not me) was already long since on his way back while the other of us was barely heading out.

And Then Me Again

I'll be writing up a full recap of this race as well, because I want to regale you with details about why the day was so crappy, but the short version is that this 50K was rough for me!  Right out of the gate I knew it wasn't going to be a good day, but I'm super happy that I muscled through it and lived to tell the tale.  Another ultramarathon (6 of them so far!) on the books, another medal for my display, and - irony of ironies - a second place AG placement.

Post-race smiles.
I'm linking up with my girl Tara again for the Weekend Update - come and join in!

So, how was your weekend?  Have you ever done back-to-back races of wildly varying lengths?  Have your kids ever competed against each other at sports?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

(Mostly) Wordless Workout Wednesday

Except for the fact that I really have to explain this.  Yoga.  Totally outside my comfort zone, people!  But I have been so very inspired this past month by several of the bloggers I follow on Twitter and Instagram (with a special shout-out to Wendy, who takes the long way home!), who have been posting different poses every day.  They made it look "easy."  And better than that, they made it look enjoyable and like something that maybe even I could do.  I filmed a follow-along workout for my YouTube channel today featuring these poses and more, and here are my words of encouragement to you:  If I can fold my cranky old body into these poses, anybody can!  Give it a try!

You remember that episode of Friends where Phoebe is pretending to seduce Chandler and she says, "I'm very bendy"?  I'm not so much with the bendy.  But I am pretty strong.

Have you tried something new lately?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Weekend Update and February Wrap-Up

Good morning and Happy Monday!  I have to admit it, I'm one of those annoyingly cheerful people who look forward to Mondays.  While I certainly enjoy being lazy and sitting on the couch all afternoon on Sundays, I also really crave the routine of weekdays.  I like getting up at a certain time and having a list of tasks to complete.  It makes me feel productive, even if the list is peppered with items like "Take a shower."  (Yes, that seriously goes on the list.  Some days it is actually a challenge to get that crossed off!)


Let me just put it out here right up front that the weekend did NOT include a certain long-distance race and it was NOT my fault.  We got an email Saturday morning that my 50K (and UltraIronHubs' marathon) was canceled, due to unforeseen circumstances.  What a huge disappointment!!  Obviously, on a scale of 1 - Actual Tragedy, this was still in the low single digits, but it left us both in a weird limbo of having tapered for a non-event.  We both ended up with extremely low mileage for the week, and mixed feelings about whether or not we should try to pick up another race on short notice.  As it turned out, the RD emailed again within a few hours, rescheduling the race for this coming Sunday, the 8th.  Not ideal from an extra-long taper point of view, but we are going to make it work.

On a much more exciting note, my weekend DID include my kiddos' first track meet of the season!  They were both pretty nervous, but ended up having a really good day.  This was Little Boy's first high school track meet and I was so anxious to see how he would do.  Both boys competed in the Distance Medley Relay (DMR), which is a team of four kids and each kid runs a different distance - 400, 800, 1200, and 1600 meters.  Little Boy ran the 1200 (three times around the track) for the Frosh/Soph team and Big Boy ran the 1200 for the Varsity team.

Lining up for the start of the DMR.  My kid is wearing bib #15, second from left.  The distances aren't run in order, so this is sort of a confusing event for spectators.  The 1200 meter runner goes first, then the 400, then 800, then 1600.

Little Boy did what Little Boy does - he went out WAY too hard, then ran positive splits.  Lol!  His team ended up in fifth place out of seven teams.

Big Boy is on the far right, #14.

Oddly, Big Boy ran almost the exact same split as Little Boy - going out too hard, then petering out.  His team also ended up in fifth place.  I love this photo, though, because he looks like he is flying.
I was a little concerned that their mediocre performance at the DMR would lead to a bobble at their other event, but I shouldn't have worried.  Both boys also competed at the 3200 meters (2 miles), going head-to-head in the Varsity event (there wasn't a Frosh/Soph 3200, so Little Boy stepped up to the big leagues).

35 boys at the starting line!  And only one other freshman in the lot, who Little Boy managed to beat.  Not that I trolled the results for that or anything.

The first 50 meters make me so nervous!  All those feet!  I was holding my breath, waiting for somebody to get tripped, but both boys got a really good start.  Big Boy went out with the lead pack and Little Boy (whose one and only goal for this race was to keep up with his brother) was right on his back pocket.

You can't really see Little Boy in this photo, but he's right behind his teammates.  I love this shot of Big Boy - he totally had the Eye of the Tiger going on.  This was one of the best 3200s I've ever seen him run.  His splits were right on the money, nice and steady.  And every time they came around, Little Boy was still hanging with them - I couldn't believe it!

The final sprint, giving it everything he had!  Big Boy ran a brilliant 3200, coming in 4th place overall and earning a 3-second PR over his best time last year - 10:38!!  In this photo, you can see Little Boy in the background, coming around the curve.

Sprinting to the finish!  Little Boy stunned me with his tenacity at this race - running a 1-mile PR on his way to a 2-mile PR over his best cross country time (this was his first time running a 3200 meter on a track)!!  10:54, 12th place overall!!
It does a mama's heart good when her kids run well.  We came home and celebrated with showers, drinking lots of water, and foam rollering.  And I even stayed up a little late because I didn't have a race the next day.  I know, we get wild around here on a Saturday night!

Sunday morning, I headed out for a long run of indeterminate length.  I really didn't know what to do with this extra week of training - I didn't want to go too long and I didn't want to go too short.  So I ran twelve miles and just called it a recovery week.  C'est la vie.

Sunrise in my glasses and spring blossoms at my back.

It was a really spectacular morning.


February was a really nice month of training with only a few hiccups, so I'm calling it a winner.  Here's how the numbers shook out:

Miles Run:  144
Races:  1, the fantastic Davis Stampede
Successful Long Runs:  2
Crappy Long Runs: 1
Runs with Clients:  18
Runs by Myself:  10 (yes, there were quite a few days of doubles)
Days Off:  6
Speedwork Sessions:  1


This month is looking like March Madness, for sure.  This week, the boys have a distance meet (meaning only distance events, no sprints or field events) on Friday afternoon.  Then I have a 7K race on Saturday morning (part of the NorCal Tour de Fit series), AND a 50K on Sunday.  Oh my!  We have a track meet every weekend this month and I have one more race on the 29th.  This is likely going to be a big mileage month for me and my car.  Ha!

How was your weekend?  Your month?  Have you ever had a big race get canceled or postponed??

I'm linking up with my girl Tara over at Running 'n Reading for the Weekend Update!!

Friday, February 27, 2015


The alternate title here should be, How the Hell is it the End of February Already?  I swear I was just runfessing for January the other day.  Feel free to join my girl Marcia with your runfessions on the last Friday of the month - it's good for your soles!

The alternate alternate title for today's runfessions is, Stupid Stuff that Worries Me, Even Though it's Stupid.

Runfession #1 - I've been running a lot of miles with clients lately (I've told you about that), and the thing that bothers me about it is that I never have anything to post on Instagram.  Seriously.  It bugs me.  And maybe it's because I'm a teeny, tiny bit jealous of all the people I follow who seem to post sweaty selfies every day.  I wanna post sweaty selfies every day! {stomps foot and pouts}

Runfession #2 - I didn't blog this week.  This one has been weighing on my other soul.  I've got a lot of balls in the air right now and made the conscious choice to let this one drop for a few days, but I don't like it.  I enjoy blogging!  So.  I'm taking a look at the other balls and seeing which other one I might leave on the floor for the time being.

Runfession #3 - You know what else I didn't do this week?  Sleep.  And let me be clear, I'm only telling you this story so you can judge me and feel a whole lot better about the state of your mental health.  You're welcome.  On Tuesday evening, I was very nearly done with the dinner dishes when I felt a rushing of water at my feet.  I opened up the cabinet to find a mini flood - yikes!  Something had gone kerplooey with the pipes or hoses or something under there.  And that is the extent of my knowledge of plumbing.  I pulled everything out and sopped up the mess with towels and left it there for UltraIronHubs to deal with in the morning, because I was pretty much tapped out in the "what do I do now" department.  I went to bed because I had to, but those dirty dishes and all the junk from under the sink were haunting me.  I couldn't rest.  Wednesday morning dawned, and the task of fixing the sink was thankfully within the scope of UIH's ability, but not the amount of time he had available.  So the dirty dishes SAT. THERE.  Mocking me.  I was a complete neurotic mess.  I couldn't sleep.  I didn't want to eat.  I couldn't even go into the kitchen.  Thank goodness UIH had the time on Thursday to do the repairs.  Needless to say, I spent the rest of the day scrubbing.  I don't really think of myself as a clean freak, but at least the "freak" part has now been confirmed.

Runfession #4 - I am running a 50K on Sunday.  I don't feel particularly well-trained for this race, but that's not new for me, so I'm still pretty chill.  But you know what I am nervous about?  My kids have a track meet tomorrow and I am giddy with excitement and nerves about it!  I hope they do well.  They're winding themselves up about it, so I'm trying really hard to at least sound relaxed when we're talking about their events or the times that they're hoping for.  I think I'm pulling it off.

I feel so much better now that I've runfessed!  How about you, what are your runfessions??

Saturday, February 21, 2015

M.O.M. Time

A few weeks ago, I came up with the phrase M.O.M. time - okay, obviously, I'm not the first person in the world to say I'm taking some "Mom Time."  Duh.  But M.O.M. in this case means My Own Miles, and I was referring very specifically to running alone.

Back before I became a running coach and fitness, uhhh, "guru," I never gave a second thought to running by myself.  I always ran by myself, with maybe the super occasional couple of miles with friends or UltraIronHubs or the kids like three times a year.  But now, as a personal trainer, I run with clients pretty frequently.  So often, in fact, that almost half of my weekly mileage includes company.

And maybe if I was running with friends instead of clients, I wouldn't get to the end of the week feeling the way I do.  Don't get me wrong, I love running with clients - I mean, hello, I get paid to run.  There is no downside!  But it's still different than regular running.  I'm paying attention in a different way, listening to their breathing, thinking about their pace and their goals, thinking about them.  Yes, I guess that does make me sound awfully selfish and self-involved, but there you have it.

Do you remember that episode of Seinfeld where both Elaine and George were abstinent, and George got really smart and Elaine got really dumb?  That's how I feel when I don't get to run alone - like Elaine.  A little foggy and kind of stupid.  And Jerry's theory was that for women, sex (or in my case, running) is like taking out the garbage.  A necessary daily chore that keeps things from piling up.  Apparently, if I don't get that M.O.M. time, my brain gets all cluttered with junk.

Of course this is from a different episode, but I couldn't resist the "full body dry heave."  This show was so freaking funny!  My sister and I often remark that there's no situation in life that can't be summed up with a Seinfeld reference.  Or Friends.  Or, because we're in our late 40s, the occasional Brady Bunch quote.
So, what was so important that I needed to run a few miles and think it out?  Well...nothing, to be honest.  I spent this morning's really lovely almost four miles thinking about ducks and rap music and loose dogs and hobos and shopping and next week's 50K.  Nothing earth-shattering or ground-breaking or even interesting enough to tell you about.  But damn, do I feel better! Thank goodness for running my own miles.

What's your favorite Seinfeld episode??  Do you prefer running with friends or running alone?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Weightlifting Wednesday - Dumbbell Exercises for Runners

Like so many important decisions in my life, I have to tell you that I don't remember the exact moment I decided to film workout videos and post them on YouTube.  I vaguely recall having some extra time on my hands - if only I had appreciated it at the time! - back when I first started doing personal training.  It seems to me like I had a smart little idea to post a video on Facebook, showing potential clients how I exercise and offering suggestions for workouts they could build themselves.  And then I'm pretty sure that FB at the time had an upper limit for how long of a video you could upload, so I had to put it on YouTube and then share the link.

I went back and looked it up.  I posted this on Facebook on July 8, 2012 with the comment, "Today was a strength training day! Free weight presses, curls and deadlifts. But then when I was done with that, I filmed this week's W.o.W. (Workout of the Week), which was like a whole 'nuther workout! Here's a little glimpse 'behind the scenes.'"  This was before I owned a tripod, obviously.  Lol!
Little did I know how much that decision would change my life, particularly my workout life.  Back in the day, I really only ran.  And maybe did the occasional balance ball core workout.  When I got my training certification, it really opened my eyes to a whole new world of exercise that I wasn't previously aware of.  Sure, I'd been a gym rat in my early 20s, but that was mostly me sitting on the machines and pretending I knew what I was doing.  Free weights were so outside of my comfort zone that there's not even a metaphor for it.

Fast forward to now and not only do I have 178 workout videos on my (now-thriving as its own second business) YouTube channel, but I have gained a huge appreciation for the benefits of regular strength training!  I can't say that it's made me a faster runner, but it has absolutely made me a stronger runner and I don't think it's a coincidence that I've been uninjured these three years.

Here are four of my favorite dumbbell strength-training moves.  This is not an exhaustive list of the "best" exercises for runners, but these are the ones I come back to again and again because they offer a lot of bang for your buck (they're complex moves that work a lot of muscles) and I sort of feel like a badass when I do them.

Side Plank Press Ups

How to Do:  Start from a side plank position (top photo is the harder version balancing on one hand on the sides of feet, bottom is an easier modification on an elbow and a knee).  Keep the dumbbell close to your body as you raise it from the ground into a full extension and then lower it back to the ground.
Why it's Awesome:  This exercise uses so many stabilizer muscles it's ridiculous!  You're balancing your bodyweight from shoulder to toe (or knee), which strengthens your entire shoulder joint, your obliques and abs, as well as your glutes and outer thighs.  Plus the lifting arm is using your biceps and triceps and getting you ready for tank top season.
Use Caution if:  You have any sort of shoulder stability issues.

Single Leg Deadlift Plus Row

How to Do:  This one requires a lot of concentration and balance.  If balance isn't your thing, focus on the single leg deadlift and leave out the rows for the time being.  Stand up super straight with a dumbbell in each hand and squeeze the glute of the leg you are going to lift behind you.  As you pull that leg up, let your torso lean forward at the exact same rate.  Don't bend forward!  Your leg/butt is doing all the work here.  Keep your hips facing forward, rather than letting your leg swing open.  If you have tight hamstrings - and let's face it, we all do! - you might not get very far forward.  That's okay.  When you get yourself balanced, pull the dumbbells up to your armpits and then gently lower them back to the starting position.  As you stand up, squeeze the glute of the leg you're standing on to raise your torso.  Try really, really hard not to just fall out of the position!
Why it's Awesome:  Like the Side Plank Press Up, this exercise uses a bajillion muscles to execute properly.  You've got your hamstrings and glutes firing independently and balancing your whole body, which also calls on your calves, your feet and ankles, and your abs to do well.  The row is a nice little bonus move that asks your upper back muscles to move a load, which we don't do very often.  Every inch of you is working for this one!
Use Caution if:  You have a hard time firing your glutes properly.  It takes a fair amount of mental work to make your butt do its job, and if it's being lazy, your lower back will often take over.

Curtsy Lunges

How to Do:  Hold the (optional) dumbbell like a baby at your chest, then step your right foot as far back and to the left as you can comfortably go.  You don't need to get your knee all the way to the ground as shown here.  You want to be able to get back up without struggling.  As you stand up, focus on keeping that left foot flat on the ground - if you come up on your toes, your calves are doing the work rather than your glutes, and this is supposed to be glute and hip work!  Repeat on the other side.
Why it's Awesome:  This one is particularly fabulous for runners because of all the work you're doing on the sides of your hips, plus your glutes, hamstrings and quads.  And working on your balance is never a bad idea.
Use Caution if:  You have trouble with your ankles or knees in a lateral (side to side) motion.  We so frequently train in a forward and backward motion that some joints really have a hard time with this exercise.

Single Leg Squat and Press 

How to Do:  With a dumbbell in each hand, balance on your left foot.  Push your hips back and bend your knee into a squat, taking extra care not to let your knee come forward over your toes.  You probably won't be able to squat as low as you can on two feet and this will take far more concentration!  Reach your right hand toward the ground in front of your left foot - don't worry if you don't touch the ground, that's not really the point of this exercise.  As you stand up, lift your right hand to your shoulder and then press the dumbell up into a full extension over your head.  Do all reps on one leg before switching to the other.
Why it's Awesome:  This is another power balance move, something we runners can seriously never get enough of.  Your feet and ankles are working to provide balance while your quads and glutes are working on that squat.  The cross-body motion means your abs and obliques are firing and the press-up is like the cherry on top, working your arms and shoulders.  Boom!  Full body workout in one exercise.
Use Caution if:  You have a hard time executing regular squats.  That knee-behind-the-toe thing isn't just a suggestion!  Use a mirror or ask somebody to watch you if you're unsure about your form to protect your knees from injury.

By the way, I'm wearing different clothes in each of these photos because they're screen shots from different workouts I've filmed.  I didn't want you to think I changed outfits.  Although I'm not really sure if that's worse than having hundreds of photos of myself working out to choose from for this post.

What are your go-to cross training exercises?  Do you enjoy lifting weights??

Monday, February 16, 2015

Call Me Oedipus

And not because I've got Daddy issues.

Here's what I remember about my 9th grade English class:  My teacher's name was Ms. Bradley, with a heavy emphasis on the Mizzzzzzzzzzzz.  It was 1984 and feminism was still something of an oddity, especially among 14-year olds.  She was one of the toughest teachers I'd ever had, which means that I also learned a lot from her.  We wrote so many essays that year, I was never afraid of writing again.  I don't remember all of the books we read, but I do remember reading (and watching the movie) Oedipus Rex.  What I remember very specifically about that book was not necessarily the plot, but rather the concept of Greek heroes and how they frequently suffered from hubris (excessive pride or self-confidence), which inevitably led to their downfall.

I was thinking about that word a lot on yesterday's "long" run, which I ended up cutting short and doing more than a fair amount of walking.

Stalling the start of my run by taking a selfie in the window of my car.
I should have known before I even started that it wasn't going to be a great run, but damn if my pride would let me admit that I didn't have a 20-miler in me.  I mean, I have a race in just a few weeks and I gotta get in those miles, right?  Can't rearrange that training plan.  Can't re-think and re-assess when things aren't working.  Gotta power through.

Or, you know.  Not.

I actually spent all of last week arguing with myself.  On the plan, it was another build week.  Of course, on the plan, last weekend was "just" a half marathon that I hadn't intended to race as fast as I did.  So Rational Brain knew that I should have been in recovery mode, but Hubris Head was all, "Run more, run harder!"  As a result, my week was neither recovery nor build.  Not slow enough to recuperate and not hard enough to make gains.  Too many miles for cutback, too few to seem like a strong week.


Add to that a busy day on Saturday with traveling and fun (we did a little tour of CSU San Francisco and since we were in the City, we "had to" hunt down a ridiculously expensive t-shirt in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood.  Because why wouldn't I drive around for an hour to go less than three miles?) but way too little water, and what do we have?  A recipe for disaster, that's what!

I'm going to say it again:  I should have known.  I have a long history of crapping out on runs when I'm dehydrated.  I have a long history of psyching myself out, too.  So chances were pretty good that yesterday was going to go south.

To distract myself from the misery of walking, I snapped a few shadow selfies.
But here's the good news about me not being a Greek hero:  the damage isn't permanent.  My ego is a little bruised, of course, but I will pick myself up and carry on with it.  No need to hang myself or gouge my eyes out from the tragedy of a bad run.  This week is the beginning of taper, and even though I didn't quite hit peak mileage, I would always rather go into a race slightly undertrained (or, you know, completely undertrained) than over-stressed.

Did you read Greek tragedies in high school?  How do you deal with a run that feels like a tragedy??