Sunday, September 26, 2010

Slow and steady wins the race

Ay, caramba! The Oyster was HARD! I think the best way to drive that point home is to recap a few quotes from myself and my teammates (in chronological order):
  • "I hope we get a good workout."
  • "I think we're definitely going to get a good workout."
  • "You know, I think this might actually be the equivalent of running a half marathon."
  • "This is more like the equivalent of a full marathon."
  • "All I care about at this point is finishing!"
  • "We're definitely not going to make the cut off." "How do you know?" "Because we're already past it." "Maybe it's a fuzzy cut off...?"
  • "Okay! If we account for the 20 minute late start we just might finish in under 8 hours!"

That's right. IT TOOK 8 HOURS!! Well, 7 hours, 52 minutes. But I'm pretty sure you round to the hour at that point.

The Oyster calls itself an "urban adventure" race. In a nutshell, that means you get clues, figure out where to go, go there by running or biking and do other things when you get there. Some of the things we did were:

  • Took pictures with Yoda statues
  • Biked across the Golden Gate bridge
  • Kayaked in the ocean
  • Made quacamole
  • Walked a tight rope
  • Ate a raw oyster
  • Guessed a bunch of song artists
  • Played beer pong

(Sorry about all the bullets. It's been a busy day and I have to get up early and catch a plane tomorrow morning. Needless to say, I'm trying to get myself to bed.)

Oh yeah. And in between all of that we ran 9.5 miles and biked 22 miles. Before I go on and on about how hard it was, I'll stop to say a few positive things and share some pictures.

Here we were before it all naiive...

This picture was taken halfway through the first bike leg. Yesterday was the third time (exactly) that I've ridden a bike since I was 10. And I only crashed once! Ha... We ended up biking through a tunnel (for cars) with a super narrow bike path. At one point the path narrowed even further and I think I mostly just freaked out. I had a minor run in with the guard rail, and now have a bit of road rash on my arm and a bruise on my calf. I think I fared pretty well, all things considered.

This was my favorite part. At one point a seal popped its head out of the water right next to our kayak and looked around with an expression that seemed to say, "What's going on here?"

I thought about getting a picture at the end, but (quite frankly) I was too tired to pull out my camera. Instead, I'll show you a picture of all the loot I got. I got the third shirt for winning the race! Did I say race? I meant raffle.

Now back to how hard this thing was. Part of the trouble was you had to know the city. Or have a smart phone. Or, preferably, both. About 10 minutes after the race began we went and bought a map. And even though we never got too terribly lost, I would be willing to bet we weren't the most efficient team in getting from point A to B.

And the longer we were out, the more people came out. (By people I mean tourists and traffic.) The more people we had to maneuver around, the longer it took to get from point A to B. And the longer it took, the longer we were out. The longer we were out, the HOTTER it got. Allow me to be more specific. Yesterday's high was 90 degrees. Did I mention we were out for 8 hours?

And the hotter it got, the more hills there were! Okay, that isn't true. I just needed a way to incorporate the hills into my story. Just think San Francisco and you'll get the idea.

But WE DID IT. As we were biking in to the finish after the last leg I told Kelsea, "This is the feeling of accomplishment at the end of a marathon." And it was.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

At least a cold is temporary

I work with people of all ages, and a lot of the older ones like to say things like, "I was working here before you were born!" Or, "Just wait until you get older! My body sure doesn't behave the way it used to."

To which I reply by saying, "Whoa, man. You must be getting pretty old." Or "I know what you mean. As soon as I turned 24 I started falling apart."


I pulled my hip muscle at exactly 24.5. For weeks there was no improvement. Then one day I woke up and there was a step change. Still very much present, but better. That very same day my TMJD began. Within weeks my diet was restricted to yogurt, pudding, mashed potatoes and ice cream. And my chronic back pain kicked in right around the time the pain in my jaw began to subside.

I was possessed with back pain for the better part of two years. It was worst in the morning and kept me from sleeping in. I was also forced to meet with an ergonomic specialist at work every month, who basically told me to avoid all physical activity. It's a good thing I chose to completely ignore him and take up Bikram yoga. Within about 6 months my back pain went from debilitating to slightly annoying to non-existant...

Until I stood in an airport security line for hours with my 17", overweight laptop on my back. That was this June. The resulting knot in my back was just wrapping itself up when my good (or should I say bad?), old hip was resurrected. But all of this is really just background for what I'm going to tell you next.

I went to yoga on Wednesday. When I woke up Thursday morning and stepped out of bed my first thought was, "I don't feel any pain in my hip at all!"

My second thought was, "Oh great. I'm sick."

Monday, September 20, 2010

Running on empty

Brace yourself for some negativity. I had two eventful runs this weekend.

The first was a 3ish-miler and the first group run I've done with Team Challenge. I've been to a couple Team Challenge events now and, after hearing everyone talk about running, was worried that this would happen. What would happen? This... I'm the only "kinda" runner. Or at least the only one that was there on Saturday.

Two people took off at the start, and before I had time to dwell in my own envy they were out of eye sight. And by the time I started second guessing whether I was on the right path, I had lost the group behind me. There I was. Somewhere in between a runner and not a runner, trotting down the path by myself (on my group run).

And I will add - the wrong path. In my defense, the run was not planned well. A Team in Training group happened to be training in and around the same area, and somewhere along the line I started following their markers. In doing so I missed a turn (whoa, deja vu). Conicidentally (and thankfully) there was actually a turnaround arrow chalked on the sidewalk. And even though I hadn't seen the two front runners since they cantered off into the distance, I decided to turn around.

Long story short, I don't actually know how far I ran and irritated my hip a bit in the process. Beautiful. Sarcasm aside, I did catch a girl once I was back on track and managed to bank a few minutes of team bonding. So I guess it wasn't a total waste.

I also found some value in the nutrition and hydration clinic that followed the run. And (apparently) chose to drive the lessons home through practice...

On Sunday I met up with a co-worker in San Francisco for an 8 mile run. I was pretty nervous leading up to it. Partially because it had been about two years since I last ran 8 miles. Partially because of my hip. And largely because she's faster than me.

I'll just cut to the chase (no pun intended) and say that the run itself actually went fairly well. We ran from the panhandle to the beach through Golden Gate Park and back. The way there was tough. Despite the slight downhill, I felt like I was struggling to keep up. But I managed to maintain the pace, and even a little bit of conversation here and there.

We took a pretty serious break when we reached the ocean, which was fine with me. It gave me some time to stretch out my hip and my calves (which - side note - feel like bags of rocks these days), and learned that Katie thought I was the one setting the pace! We were both in favor of slowing it down on the way back, and I found that I felt great cardiovascularly. Despite the now slight uphill.

So there was the downhill. Then the uphill. Then the DOWNHILL.

I didn't eat anything before the run or during the run, and only had a few sips of water during our mid-run break. I ate a little and drank some water after the run and headed down to Union Square for some shopping. I don't know if it was the continued exertion (even if it was just walking) or delayed effects of the run, but I kept feeling worse and worse over the next couple hours. At 3:45 I found myself waiting for BART with a splitting headache and an overwhelming desire to lay on the couch. There was no (probably) about it.

As if that wasn't enough, something - I still don't know what - went down on the tracks in between Walnut Creek (my stop) and Lafayette (the stop right before Walnut Creek). The result? BART turned around and headed back to San Francisco. Jason had to come pick me up at the Lafayette BART station and drive me to my car at Walnut Creek. I didn't get home until 6:15. Yuck.

This run makes it official. I'm a horrific mess when it comes to fueling myself for and during long runs. I NEED YOUR HELP! What do you do? Eat? Drink? What gear do you use?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Deli meats and yoga

A few tips, brought to you by yesterday's yoga instructor.
  • "Squeeze your chest to your thighs like a Japanese ham sandwich."
  • "Feel that fresh, genoxygenated blood flowing through your body. Sooooo good."
  • "Stand up, one vertebrae at a time, and pivot 185 degrees to your left."

A few follow up comments, brought to you by yours truly.

  • Apparently the Japanese ham sandwich is frequently referenced in yoga. A quick Google image search yields yogis a plenty. But what I would like to know is - what does the actual sandwich look like? Is it named as such because it has very little ham? No ham? I think ham consumption is pretty low among the Japanese...does it even exist? (Oh my, why did I just spend my time researching Japanese ham sandwiches?)
  • No. There's no such thing as genoxygenated.
  • In case you're wondering whether I turned around and then turned just a little bit more, the answer is no. I just turned around.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The ugly

P from Adventures of an Average Athlete has inspired me with this hilarious post. I'm following suit and leaving out the good and the bad.

At first glance this one might look good. But what you don't know is that I crashed in that dirt patch very shortly after this picture was taken. Oh yeah, and it was about 10 ft after the start line.

This is my standard race photo face. The face of pain. This photo was taken near the finish line, and this lady did beat me. As she should have. I decided to pace myself against her and breathed down her neck the whole race. How annoying.

And my favorite.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Eat Sleep Run

Our trip to Portland was awesome! Full of very little sight seeing and much eating* and nap taking. My kind of vacation. I also happened to bump into a sorority sister I haven't seen since college. It was a quasi planned bump. Soon after I posted my traveling plans Katie informed me that she not only lives in Portland but also happened to be signed up for the Pints to Pasta 10K. CRAZY!!!

So we caught up after the race over a cup of Ruby at the McMenamins Edgefield Brewery. That's right. We did the Pints to Pasta and then back to Pints race.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Race day started way too early as usual. We were out the door and headed to the bus stop (via Starbucks) by 6:00 am. I don't typically eat before runs and my nerves weren't interested in starting. But I've struggled some with fueling in the past and decided to force down some oatmeal anyway.

I caught one of the first shuttles to the start and had almost an hour to sit around and wait. This was good and bad. On one hand it was a tad lonely. On the other hand it gave me time to stretch and go to the bathroom twice.

The line took 20 minutes the second time through and managed to double in length while I waited. This line, in and of itself, was okay. Runners, after all, can't seem to get enough of the Port-O-Potties. What didn't work was putting half the Port-O-Potties right next to the start line. This meant that half the crowd was headed the wrong direction when the gun went off. Once I made my way through the peeers** the rest of the run was pretty uneventful.

Pints to Pasta brags that it was voted Best 10K in the Northwest for the past 6 years. Well, I can tell you why. The first mile to mile and half are downhill and the rest of it is flat. If you checked out my Personal Bests section you already know this translated to a 55:36 finish time. A few solid minutes less than my old PR and goal time of 59:00. I even felt GOOD at the end. Check it out (in the race photo I didn't purchase).

Truthfully, the course was so easy I kind of feel like I cheated. Thanks to the opening downhill I finished the first 3 miles in 26:16. I can't actually run that fast. But a few minutes of math geekery tells me I still would have finished under 57:00 if I ran the whole thing at the mile 4 to 6.2 pace. So I'm feeling pretty freakin' good about it.

Now time to work on that stubborn 5K time...

*In summary:
Park Kitchen - Nice vibe, disappointing service and food that's trying a bit too hard.
Nel Centro - Perhaps the best Italian I've had.
Cool Moon Ice Cream - Awesome. Particularly the chocolate orange sorbet.

**Yes. Peeers. As in "those who pee."

Monday, September 13, 2010

Pints to Pasta 10K

It's 11:00 pm Monday night, and we're back from Portland. I'm telling myself to go to bed and get some rest before rejoining the real world (i.e. work) tomorrow morning. Oh sadness.

A more comprehensive Portland post will follow at a later date. For now I will leave you with a spoiler. Check out the right side of the page...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I'm a travelin' machine

I'm struggling with how I should start this post and debating between several openers:

1. Oh the roller coaster ride that is my hip... Remember how I was doing pretty well, all things considered? Well, that was like the climb before the free fall.

2. Instead of blogging, I really should be...packing! That's right. We're off to Portland this weekend! Just because.

3. My September calendar's got racin' fever! I'll be kicking it off this Sunday with the Pints to Pasta 10K.

Followed by the Oyster Urban Adventure on 9/26 as a proud member of team "Fitz Fitzgerald and the Babettes."

And I'm still trying to rope a friend into a 5K the following Saturday. (Wups...I guess that's October...2nd to be specific.) Maybe this one in Golden, CO? Followed by a little Coors lab? Anyone? Anyone out there want to run this with me?

4. This post looks like it's shaping up into a Three Things Thursday. Except for now I have four so I'll just move on to...

5. I recently reconfigured my workout schedule to include an enormous number of rest days. So as to compensate for item number 1. This means my training to racing ratio is extremely low. This week especially in order to gear up for Sunday. I really should set a goal of finishing uninjured, but the truth is I would like to finish under 59:00 min. Sitting on the couch is actually driving me crazy because I feel like I'm just getting slower with each passing day.

6. I went to a TeamChallenge fundraising workshop tonight. From the way everyone talks I feel like the experienced runner of the group, which is so totally opposite of what I expected. I haven't actually run with the group yet, but I'm tentatively planning on walking a large portion of the group runs. Using them more for rest and relationship building than training.

If you have yet to read about why I joined TeamChallenge you can do so here. And you're always welcome to donate here.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A toast to Albuquerque

I'm actually doing quite well, all things considered.

When we last touched base I was struggling with a finicky hip and cancelling my Thursday and Friday runs. I was pretty upset about this until I was struck with what can only be described as an ingenious idea. What not run Saturday?? And that's what I did. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Friday evening we flew into Albuquerque for a wedding. My dad's parents (that would make them my grandparents) lived in Albuquerque while they were still alive. This meant that as a child I participated in many a road trip down south. At the time gas prices were somewhere around $0.80/gallon. Don't ask me why this, of all memories, was frozen into my elementary-school-aged brain. I bring it up only because I find it rather ironic that keeping an eye on the NYMEX gasoline price is now one of my professional responsibilities.

Aside from the inside of gas station bathrooms, my grandparents' retirement home and a Catholic church or two, I didn't really see much of Albuquerque until this past weekend. As it turns out, I wasn't missing much. Albuquerque ended up being a lot of stucco, a few cactuses and a lot of drinking.

A group of our friends were already waiting outside when our taxi pulled up to the hotel Friday night. We took about 10 minutes to check in and headed straight to the bar. I did a pretty good job minimizing my alcohol consumption, but didn't make it to bed until after 2:00 am. I wouldn't say I was hungover when my alarm sounded at 7:00 am Saturday morning, but I did feel "like I drank the night before." Which I suppose means tired and dehydrated. Couple that with an extra 4900 ft of elevation and the idea of running didn't sound quite as ingenious.

But I sucked it up and hit the pavement. The flat pavement. Woohoo! I was pleasantly surprised to find that all my hill training more than offset both the altitude and my dehydration. I finished the 5.08 miles at a 9:40 pace!

Saturday and Sunday were rest days while we partook in the wedding festivities. This one is of me and the bride at the rehearsal dinner.

And this is the best picture I got of Jason and I. (He kept laughing to himself in order to smile more naturally and blowing my hair into my face.)

The trip was a blast, but those two extra days of "rest" left me even more dehydrated. My hilly, Monday run under the California sun was a lot tougher. But after 3.5 miles at a 9:43 pace my hip was still hanging tough. Which brings me to...

I'm actually doing quite well, all things considered.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Oh how I ache...

...let me count the ways.

One - My right hip flared up again. Argh! It was feeling a little sore before yoga on Tuesday, but I somehow managed to skirt through class without any further damage. Unfortunately, Wednesday's class wasn't as successful. I decided to skip my 2 mile run today in an effort to recover, and I'm okay with that.

But here's the thing. I'm going out of town for the weekend and have been feeling a bit stressed about some work, laundry etc. that needs to get done before that. I came home this afternoon, started whining to Jason about my To Do list, injuries, some other silly miscellenous mumbo jumbo and ended up in tears. Jason promptly addressed the water works by telling* me I wasn't allowed to run the scheduled 5 miles (or any for that matter) tomorrow morning if my hip hurts at all. Which it will. So looks like I will get NO running in this weekend. And this bums me out BIG TIME. I plan on taking my gear with me but doubt I will have time to get out and about.

*I do make my own decisions. In this instance, however, I must admit that Jason is right. Mom too...hate it when that happens.

Two - I woke up this morning with a sharp pain on the right side of my chest. I haven't experienced this before and have no idea what it is. I do, however, find the fact that's it's only on my right side rather curious. Perhaps I strained it while compensating for Ache #1? We use our muscles in such surprising ways sometimes. For example - what activity do you suppose aggravates my hip the most? Wrong. It's sneezing.

Three - I just hit my knee with my laptop. Hard. Can a girl catch a break??

Time to relax with a raspberry lemon drop and my Google reader.