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.

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.

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!!